Friday, September 25, 2009

“High Noon” for the First Amendment

Guest commentary by Edward Cline:

Most of President Barack Obama’s administration cohorts have a distinctly and undeniable leftist hue, ranging from Marxist, to socialist, to ”pink.” Obama himself speaks in glasnostian euphemisms that stand in for socialist rhetoric. It is a form of political “cross-dressing.“ Most of his cabinet, staff and “czarist” appointees speak the same “language.” The press, especially if it endorses Obama‘s agenda, while it deals in words, either cannot fathom the double-speak, or chooses not to. Clueless or not, the mainstream news media is complicit in the success of Obama’s expansion of executive and legislative powers.

Obama’s academic appointees, such as Cass Sunstein, now head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, are hard to pin a label to unless one reads their books, speeches, and public statements, and then identifies and collates their key premises into a coherent political philosophy. That political philosophy invariably translates into socialism, or, as they prefer to call it, “progressivism,” which is the saccharine, less frightening term for the same thing. They know what they are saying, and hope that most Americans do not.

Communists have a record of violently seizing power during a civil war or internal political strife. Fascists, or “national socialists,” however, have a record of reaching power by stealth, exploiting a semi-free country’s parliamentary structure. Hitler and his national socialists tried direct seizure of the German government in the Beer Hall Putsch, literally at the point of a gun, but failed. Hitler spent time in prison. He learned his lesson from that attempted coup and entered the “democratic” hustings. He and his party banked and built on over ten years his rhetorical skills and alleged “magnetism,” both of which exploited a sheer emotionalism that smothered the irrationalism of their agenda and to which the German electorate was responsive. By 1933, Hitler and his Nazis were in power.

Were they socialists, or fascists? Communists have a habit of simply seizing private property outright. Socialists prefer to “ease” into seizure over a period of time. Fascists allow nominal private ownership of property, so long as the owners take orders from the government and cohere to its collectivist agenda. If things go wrong, the government can blame the management of a “private“ company, not the policies it requires management to submit to. Both practices are usually in the name of some nationalist sentiment. Obama has capitalized on past regulatory legislation and “eased” into the banking and car manufacturing industries, and hopes to do the same with health care and insurance. Now his sights are set on the press. All this makes him a national socialist.

One of the first things the Nazis took over was the press, aided by a suspension of the Weimar Constitution. Time Magazine reported the sequence of events with an honesty foreign to most journalists today: “With the Reichstag fire as his excuse, weary old President Paul von Hindenburg signed a decree giving Chancellor Hitler & Cabinet a tyrant's powers.” Of relevant interest here, given ominous actions taken by the Obama administration, and to judge by the simpatico political character of his appointees and staff, are particular stipulations in the German Constitution nullified by Hindenburg’s decree:

Article 118: Every German has the right within the limits of the general laws to express his opinion by word, in writing, printing, by picture, or in any other way. . . .
Article 123: All Germans have the right to gather in meetings peaceably and unarmed without announcement or particular permission. . . .
Article 124: All Germans have the right to form societies or associations for purposes not contrary to the penal law.
Article 153: Property is safeguarded by the Constitution. . . .
As disconnected as those “rights” were, absent an integrated philosophy of reason and individual rights, they still offered some protection. Hitler swept them from the political life of Germany like so many crumbs. That was his intention in 1923. While he was in prison dictating Mein Kampf, he had a very good press. But the German press barons should have taken heed of what he had to say about newspapers:

Freedom of the press is a nuisance that allows unpunishable lies to poison the people. (Mein Kampf, p. 335)
The Toledo Blade reported on September 20th that Obama met with editors from that paper and its sister paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In an Oval Office interview with editors from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade, the President talked about the vital role journalism and newspapers play in American society. "Journalistic integrity, you know, fact-based reporting, serious investigative reporting, how to retain those ethics in all these different new media and how to make sure that it's paid for, is really a challenge," Mr. Obama said. "But it's something that I think is absolutely critical to the health of our democracy."
Journalistic integrity? Fact-based reporting? Serious investigative reporting? Again, Obama speaks of things about which he either knows nothing, or cares not a fig, just as he knows nothing about the Constitution he purportedly taught at the University of Chicago Law School, or cares a fig, either. But, here is his real worry:

I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding.
Just as Representative Joe Wilson shouted across a void, “You lie!”? Just as the blogosphere is compensating for the slanted, biased, non-objective reporting in the print and broadcast media, and over which the government has little or no control?

The Toledo Blade does not mention who called the meeting in the Oval Office between Obama and the editors. Did Obama summon the editors, or did the editors beg for an audience with him? The omission of this important information is a salutary instance of the shoddy state of modern journalism.

Several bills have been introduced in Congress to aid the newspaper industry, including a Senate measure that would allow newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks. The President was noncommittal about the legislation but said: "I haven't seen detailed proposals yet, but I'll be happy to look at them."
No, he hasn’t seen the detailed proposals yet, but he will be happy to look at them to see if they fit into his agenda -- just has he hasn’t mastered the details of the health-care bills or the cap-and-trade bills and the details of any other regulatory and confiscatory legislation he would sign. The details are irrelevant to Obama. As long as the legislation regulates and confiscates, that is fine with him.

American editors and newspaper barons should also heed Hitler’s annoyance with the press as they contemplate rescue by the government from their financial straits. How often has Obama inveighed against the “lies,” “distortions,” and “fishy” information that have appeared in newspapers over the last year? How often has he criticized the right of assembly exercised by Americans to protest his health-care and other coercive legislation, and called such Americans dupes of those lies and distortions? How often has he expressed anger over any degree of opposition to his agenda, an opposition which, whether frank and open or watered down and euphemized in the press, is based on statements and allegations appearing in the press?

Obama cannot but believe that freedom of the press is also a nuisance, that the people have been “poisoned” by it to oppose his agenda, and that the “lies” on which that opposition is founded ought to be punished. (He has hired Cass Sunstein to devise punishment.) How else to explain the opposition, he must ask himself. How could there be any ideology other than his own? Leftist ideology is not so much embedded in him, as he is embedded in it. He sees this country and the world through the prisms of Marx and Alinsky. As his ideology has been propagated and promoted by the Democratic National Committee, with millions of dollars in assistance from organizations such as MoveOn, he cannot imagine that resistance to his agenda could be anything but organized by a coalition of Republicans, “racists,“ and other conspiratorial ogres; that is, he cannot imagine that a large segment of the American population could object to his agenda and ideology and establish their own “correspondence committees” to express their opposition, without any political or moral guidance from the Republicans.

Obama’s idea of a “free press” is to appear on popular talk shows and news analysis programs whose hosts he can count on not to pose questions of any substance. In those public venues, on the White House lawn, in staged press conferences, on the Internet, he is free to spout his agenda and assurances. But he and his handlers (principally Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff) will not brook any back-talk or probing queries. Representative Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” must have shaken him more than either he or his staff of ventriloquists, marionettes and dissemblers will admit. Wilson’s statement was, after all, a truth spoken before a national audience; it exposed a core tactic permissible in practical leftist politics -- that lies are a weapon as a means to the acquisition of power, just as taqiya is a form of Islamic religious dissimulation, by which falsehoods and concealment aimed against non-Muslims are approved by the Koran as a legitimate form of jihad.

The mainstream news media, which includes such periodicals as The New York Times and The Washington Post, and also the three major television networks, would not mind a co-opting by the federal government, as long as the expropriation (and the surrender) was promoted as an “efficiency“ or “consolidation“ move, a la Goebbels, and as long as the various entities retained some nominal independence, but reorganized, according to the proposed agenda, as non-profit organizations. What they choose to advocate, endorse and support now -- which is Obama’s agenda -- would become an obligation.

This leaves Fox News, for the moment, as the Will Kane of the news media, virtually alone in the media in taking on the vengeance-on-America Frank Miller gang of the White House and Congress. Never mind the irony that both conservatives and leftists once claimed High Noon as an allegory (or “metaphor’) for their specific politics. The difference now is that the townsmen are also rallying to protect themselves and their freedom from the Obama gang -- and that gang is socialist in purpose, fascist in practice.

The townsmen are receiving no help from the mainstream news media. The Obama gang they rightly fear and will fight. The MSM they despise.

Crossposted at The Dougout

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