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Michael Barone
Michael Barone
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The Coming Obama Thugocracy

Comment

"I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors," Barack Obama told a crowd in Elko, Nev. "I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face." Actually, Obama supporters are doing a lot more than getting into people's faces. They seem determined to shut people up.

That's what Obama supporters, alerted by campaign emails, did when conservative Stanley Kurtz appeared on Milt Rosenberg's WGN radio program in Chicago. Kurtz had been researching Obama's relationship with unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers in Chicago Annenberg Challenge papers in the Richard J. Daley Library in Chicago — papers that were closed off to him for some days, apparently at the behest of Obama supporters.

Obama fans jammed WGN's phone lines and sent in hundreds of protest emails. The message was clear to anyone who would follow Rosenberg's example. We will make trouble for you if you let anyone make the case against The One.

Other Obama supporters have threatened critics with criminal prosecution. In September, St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce warned citizens that they would bring criminal libel prosecutions against anyone who made statements against Obama that were "false." I had been under the impression that the Alien and Sedition Acts had gone out of existence in 1801-02. Not so, apparently, in metropolitan St. Louis. Similarly, the Obama campaign called for a criminal investigation of the American Issues Project when it ran ads highlighting Obama's ties to Ayers.

These attempts to shut down political speech have become routine for liberals. Congressional Democrats sought to reimpose the "fairness doctrine" on broadcasters, which until it was repealed in the 1980s required equal time for different points of view. The motive was plain: to shut down the one conservative-leaning communications medium, talk radio. Liberal talk-show hosts have mostly failed to draw audiences, and many liberals can't abide having citizens hear contrary views.

To their credit, some liberal old-timers — like House Appropriations Chairman David Obey — voted against the "fairness doctrine," in line with their longstanding support of free speech.

But you can expect the "fairness doctrine" to get another vote if Barack Obama wins and Democrats increase their congressional majorities.

Corporate liberals have done their share in shutting down anti-liberal speech, too. "Saturday Night Live" ran a spoof of the financial crisis that skewered Democrats like House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank and liberal contributors Herbert and Marion Sandler, who sold toxic-waste-filled Golden West to Wachovia Bank for $24 billion. Kind of surprising, but not for long. The tape of the broadcast disappeared from NBC's Website and was replaced with another that omitted the references to Frank and the Sandlers. Evidently NBC and its parent, General Electric, don't want people to hear speech that attacks liberals.

Then there's the Democrats' "card check" legislation, which would abolish secret ballot elections in determining whether employees are represented by unions. The unions' strategy is obvious: Send a few thugs over to employees' homes — we know where you live — and get them to sign cards that will trigger a union victory without giving employers a chance to be heard.

Once upon a time, liberals prided themselves, with considerable reason, as the staunchest defenders of free speech. Union organizers in the 1930s and 1940s made the case that they should have access to employees to speak freely to them, and union leaders like George Meany and Walter Reuther were ardent defenders of the First Amendment.

Today's liberals seem to be taking their marching orders from other quarters. Specifically, from the college and university campuses where administrators, armed with speech codes, have for years been disciplining and subjecting to sensitivity training any students who dare to utter thoughts that liberals find offensive. The campuses that used to pride themselves as zones of free expression are now the least free part of our society.

Obama supporters who found the campuses congenial and Obama himself, who has chosen to live all his adult life in university communities, seem to find it entirely natural to suppress speech that they don't like and seem utterly oblivious to claims that this violates the letter and spirit of the First Amendment. In this campaign, we have seen the coming of the Obama thugocracy, suppressing free speech, and we may see its flourishing in the four or eight years ahead.

To read more political analysis by Michael Barone, visit www.usnews.com/baroneblog. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

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Comments

5 Comments | Post Comment
I like to think I have a mind open to the view points of other's, but in truth, reading the half truths you and your contemporaries print makes me squeamish. I do find an area of partial agreement
re: the Fairness Doctrine. There is nothing worse than listening to the radio and hearing only your own point of view or only the point of view which you don't support. It is also maddening when call-ins are shouted down or disconnected when they present an intelligent opposing response. Is that fair? No. But it is their show. Having said all that, I am not in favor of government censorship, I support personal censorship. This is not a perfect world and no matter how well-meaning the Fairness Doctrine's intent, there always are people ready, willing and able to corrupt and destroy that what was meant for good. Governments should not censor information. Period.
Comment: #1
Posted by: liz
Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:10 AM
Sir;...The price of no change when change is needed is going to† be social strife and lots of hard feelings. You have the good end of† this thing, of stirring up division, and as long as it works for you, fine. On the recieving end, I assure you it is not so sweet. If you can get some one to vote republican on the basis of fear and prejudice everyone voting democrat out of pure desparation ought to hold them, and you, accountable. I know who has a Bush Palin sign in their yard. If the issue was in doubt, I might have a talk with them. All the big farmers around here have big republican signs and the little working class crud have little democratic signs. It is not anything other than self interest driving this election like every election. Let it be. But when questions of race and patriotism or religion are lit like a bonfires and rational choice is not offered- everyone is cheated. Why not bring it to your neighbors? Why not bring it to you ffith column republicans? Your bread is the wedge you drive between us Americans. What if our survival, collectively or individually depends upon our unity? Don't all of you count on the thought that you can never tear America limb from limb?† Don't you rely too heavily on a unity you sabotage at every opportunity? Is there something in law by itself that protects your rights, your freedom to run your mouths, even when the end of that freedom is injury for some class? The fact is that law, civility, respect, and rights are by agreement. They are forms of relationship. You can only abuse the relationship for your power so much and so often and the whole thing breaks down. The law supports nothing unless all people support the laws. Rights support nothing unless people support rights. You can bend the political process to the breaking point. You can bend freedom of press to the breaking point. You are there, and the political process is there. I don't know what what is keeping it from snapping in your face. I trust it is like a chain, and I have broken one of those, and the end hit me so hard that a link and a half could be seen on my skin for six weeks. I have never been shot, but the pain was terrible. Now, we want to be together, and we fear to be a part; but no one should take the uniity of this country for granted, and look for some point of purchace they might lever to power. We are all going to be hurt if our unity is broken forever. Don't sow division. Don't try to sabotage a democratic presidency. Don't be surprised at the anger of the poor. We feel cheated, and we should -to have our rights turned against our needs and purpose. We can only afford so much bad government. And we do need to hold our neighbors accountable along with our government. The thing is, that our government insulates itself from the people. The only way to get through to government is to get through to our neighbors -that we need change....Thanks...Sweeney†
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:53 AM
What we need to be concerned about is why Obama is acceping the title and role as the Messiah.................... Why ist he or anyone else stopping it
He is not and will never be the Messiah and he is twisting and misleading the American People
Will christmas become obama day ............. why are we the American people allowing this
this is a disgrace to what America Stands for.........
It is in God we trust...................... God Bless America.............
whats next
in Obama we trust................. Obama bless America will he change the flag to O red,white and blue with him in office will we have photos of him all over like Sadam and Castro as the new God to worship
Comment: #3
Posted by: Concerned American
Mon Oct 20, 2008 12:34 PM
What we need to be concerned about is why Obama is acceping the title and role as the Messiah.................... Why ist he or anyone else stopping it
He is not and will never be the Messiah and he is twisting and misleading the American People
Will christmas become obama day ............. why are we the American people allowing this
this is a disgrace to what America Stands for.........
It is in God we trust...................... God Bless America.............
whats next
in Obama we trust................. Obama bless America will he change the flag to O red,white and blue with him in office will we have photos of him all over like Sadam and Castro as the new God to worship
Comment: #4
Posted by: Concerned American
Mon Oct 20, 2008 12:35 PM
Re: Concerned American, are you kidding? If not, wake up! Your feared antichrist will come out of Europe and not until the Rapture, when all God's people are lifted up. 30 million or so if you believe the Christian radio broadcasts. So not to worry, you sound like a God-fearing person. But, if you're actually living through the experience of the antichrist, you're not the Christian you think you are and you've got bigger worries than Barak Obama. Peace.
Comment: #5
Posted by: liz
Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:14 PM
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