Saturday, August 29, 2009

Freedom of Speech With Responsibility

I want to talk about our rights to freedom of speech and expression, as well as the responsibilities that go along with those rights. I want to state at the onset, that I’m not telling anyone what to do, or advocating censoring anyone.
In the past few months Americans, especially conservatives, have been active and vocal in a way that we haven’t seen for quite some time. We’ve been going to Tea Parties, healthcare rallies and town halls. We’ve been writing and calling our legislators to express opinions and ask questions. All of these are our rights, guaranteed to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But with those rights, comes a certain amount of responsibility to use those rights wisely.
We have seen people on both ends of the spectrum using language that, while it is their right to use, one might question the responsibility they’re showing in using it. On the right we’ve seen and heard President Obama called a fascist and compared to Hitler. On the left we’ve heard average Americans called racists, rednecks, teabaggers, and even un-American just for disagreeing with the president. In both cases the people saying these things have every right to say them. Free speech, by its very nature can be controversial, inflammatory and even offensive. I would never try to limit or legislate anyone’s freedom of speech beyond the accepted restrictions on incitement to violence or the preverbal yelling fire in a crowded theatre. But when we choose to use our freedom of speech in what some might consider irresponsible ways, to shock or to anger, I think we sometimes diminish the impact of what we’re trying to say and ourselves.
For example, Janeane Garofalo can say that Michael Steele or any black person that’s a Republican is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, that’s her right. But the only people that remotely take her seriously are those that are on the far left fringe.
Someone on the right can compare Barack Obama to Hitler, but since the president hasn’t rounded anyone up or committed genocide, only those on the far right are likely to take that comparison seriously.
Likewise, the people that have legally carried AR-15s and handguns to Obama’s healthcare town halls are exercising both their First and Second Amendment rights. But one can legitimately question the responsibility of doing so. Forgetting the fact that the president is there to discuss healthcare, not gun rights. The Secret Service and the police are doing a difficult job, protecting the President of the United States. Carrying weapons in the vicinity only makes their job that much more difficult and stressful. It also gives media outlets like MSNBC the chance to paint all protestors as the next potential Timothy McVeigh’s. Again, I’m not telling anyone what to do. But I am trying to make people think before they act.As someone that airs this program, writes several blogs, many letters both to the editors of newspapers and to elected officials, as well as attending town halls and protests, I cherish our First Amendment rights and appreciate the passion that so many are showing at this difficult time in our nation’s history. I understand that many of us feel our rights to free speech and expression are under attack. When elected officials, members of the media and FCC diversity officers seem poised to stifle those whom they disagree with, it’s important that we not be silent. It’s important that we express our views and not just question, but question with boldness. We must speak without fear. As Thomas Jefferson said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent”. In a democratic-republic, such as ours, where our elected officials have forgotten that they represent us, not rule us, it’s especially important that we speak out. But I do believe there is a difference between being bold and even provocative and being irresponsible, even stupid. Each of us must decide for ourselves, perhaps with a little guidance from our friends and family, how far to go. All I would ask of all Americans is that they think and not let their mouths get ahead of their hearts or their minds.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wexler & Hastings Won't Face Their Constituents

Today I joined a protest outside the staged healthcare forum that occurred in Delray Beach at the South County Civic Center. Representative Robert Wexler (D) FL-19, who actually lives in Maryland and Alcee Hastings (D) FL-23, the impeached federal judge turned Congressman, spoke at a closed forum sponsored by the Florida Association of Retired Americans. There were 500 seats and the tickets were given almost exclusively to supporters of Obamacare. The questions had to be written down on cards and there was no interaction between the audience and the congressmen. According to those that were able to get inside, the questions were softballs and both Wexler and Hastings made it clear they're steadfastly for the "public option".

Outside the Civic Center the SEIU and Organizing for America were protesting for Obamacare with their printed signs and a marching band (dressed in Obama t-shirts) bussed in, at taxpayer expense, from Ft. Lauderdale at the request of Alcee Hastings to drown out the opponents of the President's plan. A woman with a handcart and two coolers of cold water, screened people to make sure they were for Obamacare before she would give out a bottle in the searing heat. I guess that's the compassion that we can expect from a single-payer health plan as well.

Those of us against Obamacare would not be drowned out, either by the marching band or the thugs that spent the day yelling "liar, liar, liar" and "Yes we can!".
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, which had a deputy taking pictures of the protestors and their signs, estimated the crowd at about 1,500. I'd say the numbers for and against were about equal, we may have slightly outnumbered them. But we weren't bussed in or paid to be there. The "astroturf" was definitely on the pro-Obamacare side.
While the congressman from Maryland was bloviating inside, candidate Edward Lynch, Wexler's opponent was addressing the crowd outside. And unlike Wexler was answering questions from anyone that had one. Since Ed has actually read the bill, he was able to field questions from those forand against Obamacare.
The press was out in force and from what I saw on TV when I got home from the event, the coverage ranged from fair-to-biased. Most of the coverage I saw was critical of the high school marching band being bussed in. They interviewed a couple of the kids, who seemed to have no idea why they were even present. Hopefully there will an investigation into who authorized them to be out of school and who paid for the trip. It would be interesting to know if their parents were aware that their children were being used this way.
Clearly the local Democrat congressmen are going to vote for this ill-conceived legislation, no matter how many of their constituents tell them that they're against it. Hopefully, enough "Blue Dog" Democrats will feel the heat from their voters and join with House Republicans in opposing the bill. That and the fact that the Senate version doesn't include the "public option" may kill the bill. We can't stop voicing our opposition now. We have to continue to speak and speak without fear!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For Crist Avoiding Censure Is No Victory

Charlie Crist may have avoided censure at the Palm Beach County REC on Wednesday, but that shouldn't be mistaken for a victory. There were three votes that evening; the first was congressional candidate Edward Lynch's (CD-19) motion to postpone the censure vote indefinitely and failed in a 64-64 tie. The second vote was whether to censure the governor for myriad political offenses that have outraged the vast majority of the members. The Governor narrowly avoided censure in a contentious 65-65 tie vote. The final vote was on whether to conduct a straw poll at the October 14th meeting. The straw poll passed by a healthy margin.

What's lost in all these votes was the debate that ensued on each issue. In each case those for and against censure universally criticized the Governor and expressed more than just displeasure with Crist and his policies. Charlie's appointment of Democrats to the courts and county commissions were attacked. His lack of support for our 2008 congressional nominees, Marion Thorpe, Allen West & Edward Lynch and support for liberal-Democrat Robert Wexler (CD-19) were roundly criticized. But what seemed to have many REC members the most angry was his fawning over Barack Obama in Tampa, supporting the $787 billion "stimulus".

I would predict that when the straw poll for the US Senate nominee is held on October 14th, Palm Beach County will vote for Marco Rubio by a wide margin, as has happened in every other county that has held a straw poll to date. Clearly the grassroots of the RPOF have no intention of rewarding Charlie for his poor leadership as governor. Crist can raise all the special interest and out-of-state money he wants. He can claim that he's "true conservative". But the rank-and-file members of the Party have had it with him and RPOF Chairman Jim Greer and are voicing their disgust in no uncertain terms.

Charlie avoided censure because there was a split in the REC over whether it was an appropriate remedy for political differences. I argued for the postponement and against censure because Charlie hasn't broken the law or committed any ethical offenses. That's the only reason he was spared censure. I argued for the straw poll because I want to send him a message, but wanted to avoid giving the liberal media another opportunity to paint the Florida GOP as divided and as "eating it's own". But, anyone that was present at our meeting and heard the debate can tell you, avoiding censure was no victory for Governor Charlie Crist.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Unfairness Doctrine Endrun

I want to talk about something that scares me even more than the socialized health insurance issue. In late July, while everyone was focused on healthcare and the town halls, a man by the name of Mark Lloyd became the Chief Diversity Officer of the Federal Communications Commission. This is yet another Obama czar, who wasn’t confirmed by the Senate. Mr. Lloyd was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress focusing on communications policy issues, including universal service, advanced telecommunications deployment, media concentration and diversity. He was also in the Clinton White House.
Lloyd has called for making private broadcasting companies pay licensing fees equal to their total operating costs to allow public broadcasting outlets to spend the same on their operations as the private companies do. This policy would essentially take all the profit out of running a private radio station. The purpose of this according to supporters, is to promote diversity and pay for educational programming by revamping the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is a non-profit entity created by Congress. In fiscal 2009 it received $400 million from the government. Lloyd believes, and I quote, “This funding should come from license fees charged to commercial broadcasters. Funding should not come from congressional appropriations. Sponsorship should be prohibited at all public broadcasters.” He also believes in regulating content on both public and private broadcast stations.
The result of all this government intervention would be a stifling of free speech on the airwaves. In particular conservative talk radio, which has dominated much of A.M. radio over the past couple of decades. The liberals realized that they couldn’t get the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” passed in Congress, so they’re making an end run around the Congress. The goal? To silence people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and other conservatives that have been successful not only financially, but in swaying public opinion on such things as last year’s “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, “Cap and Trade” and of course the current healthcare debate.
I disagree with Mr. Lloyd’s policies which I feel are an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment and which are clearly anti-capitalist. The airwaves belong to the people of this nation. Clearly the success of Rush, Levin and Hannity have shown that the people like these programs. And sponsors like advertising on these successful programs. By contrast, the failure of “Air America”, which was heavily funded by George Soros and featured such luminaries as Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo, would indicate that the American people don’t like what they’re peddling. There are at least a couple of liberal talk show hosts that have been successful, Alan Colmes probably being the best known. Colmes has said publicly that he opposes the Fairness Doctrine, so I would have to assume he would like Mr. Lloyd’s approach even less.
I have already personally written to my congressman, Florida Senator Bill Nelson and President Obama to urge them not to allow these policies to be enacted. I’ve also written to Mark Lloyd himself at the FCC to express my opposition. I would urge each of you to do the same and to encourage your friends and family as well. If this is allowed to happen, it will only be the beginning. How long before they’re taxing and regulating the Internet? How long before a show like the one you’re listening to is impossible to air?This is the sort of thing you’d expect to see in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela or Castro’s Cuba, not in the United States of America. If it goes forward, then dissent against any government policy or administration will be stifled in a chilling way that can’t be allowed in a free republic.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Left Should Look in the Mirror

I want to talk about the smears, misrepresentations and outright lies that the left is attempting to use to discredit the more than 50% of the American people that disagree, or at least have serious questions and reservations, about the healthcare plan that Obama and the congressional Democrats are trying to force upon this nation.
We’ve all seen the town hall meetings that the Democrats have been holding around the country and the concerned and sometimes animated people that have been showing up at them. We’ve also seen conservatives protesting in increasing numbers, peacefully in front of the offices of congressmen and senators, as well as on street corners. They are peaceful, have homemade signs and are dressed in average American clothing, usually t-shirts with jeans or shorts. They aren’t racists and they aren’t trying to destroy Obama. They are however looking to have their voices and their opinions heard. And yes, many are trying to stop or at least slowdown Obama’s march towards socialism.
To counter the rising tide of opposition to their socialist agenda, the liberals and their so-called mainstream media allies have taken to belittling, denigrating and besmirching these peaceful protestors. The President, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and everybody’s favorite, Janeane Garofalo have accused conservatives of being racists, teabaggers, Astroturf and angry mobs. They’ve accused us bringing signs with swastikas to town hall meetings and of being violent. They’ve accused us being puppets of the insurance industry and of being organized, paid and bussed to the protests and town halls by the Republican Party. None of these things are at all accurate or true of course.
The hypocrisy of these comments is astounding. These are the same people that had no problem with pictures of George Bush as Hitler or the Devil. These are the same people that have no problem with ACORN or SEIU thugs, who actually are organized, paid and bussed in, storming the lobbies of major companies by the hundreds and extorting money or unionization from them. These are the same people that laugh when Janeane Garofalo accuses any black person that’s a Republican of suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. They encouraged people to be vocal and speak truth to power before. But now that they’re in power themselves, they denounce those that disagree and say the their anger is manufactured.
The truth is that I have yet to read or hear a single word from any conservative regarding Obama that’s racist. What I hear and read are people questioning and opposing the President’s policies and at times his statements. Anytime race is brought up, it’s always from the left. Our president, who was supposed to be post-racial, was the one that accused a white police officer of acting stupidly, for arresting a black Harvard professor, before he had all the facts. It was this same post-racial president that brought up racial profiling when none was even alleged to have occurred. Instead of apologizing for his stupid statements the president tried to tell us it was a teachable moment. In a sense he was correct. It should have taught him to keep his mouth shut until he had the facts.
Nancy Pelosi accused conservative protestors of carrying signs with swastikas to town halls on healthcare. She conveniently left out the fact that the swastikas in question were inside a red circle with a line through it, denoting a no fascism message. This of course is unlike the liberal anti-Bush protestors that carried signs with actual swastikas and words like Bush=Hitler for almost 8 years. They had no problem with that. Barbara Boxer, who will forever be known simply as “Ma’am” on this program, said she hadn’t seen people dressed so well since the 2000 recount in Florida. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called the protestors “the Brooks Brothers Brigade”. Have you seen people in suits at these protests? You may have seen one or two people dressed nicely at a couple of the town hall meetings. But that probably means they came from their jobs. And since when are people that dress nicely any less American, or any less entitled to voice their opinions?
I urge all of you listening to take a look at a great photo-essay I saw yesterday at a website called Looking at the Left. It shows what the so-called angry mobs of Astroturf, Republican organized, protestors look like compared to the protestors from the left, some of whom were actually day workers that didn’t speak any English and didn’t understand what their pre-made signs from said.
The reality of the situation is this. Is the right getting organized? Yes, but it is a truly organic, grassroots organization started by average Americans. Using email, word of mouth and social networking sites regular people like you and I are letting each other know where and when protests and town halls are being held. We are urging each other to go out and be heard. No one is being paid; no one is bringing signs for every one else. Each person that’s getting off the couch and going out in these sweltering temperatures to stand on the street to protest, with home-made signs or flags, is doing so because they feel strongly that the healthcare bill is wrong and is moving too fast, without any regard from Congress or the President as to how the People they’re supposed to represent feel about it. If anything, the tactics that the left has decided to use are only making the average American angrier and more aware of the hypocrisy and the contempt that our elected officials feel for them. If the people on the left in government and the media want to see fake indignation and real racism, my advice would be for them simply look in the mirror.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What Would Martin Luther King Think?

I was thinking this morning, "What would Martin Luther King Jr. think of what's going on today in our nation?" Would he be proud that our nation has elected the first black President of the United States? Or would he be ashamed that so many American people, black and white, voted for Obama only because he is black? Would he approve of people being called racists, simply for disagreeing with the president on policy? How would he feel about an organization like ACORN that uses tactics like storming the lobbies of corporations and extorting money from them by threatening to continue such "protests" until they get paid? How would he feel about community organizers breaking into foreclosed homes and saying "this is our house now"? How would the Reverend King feel about people of color allowing themselves to be "organized" and used by people that live very comfortably off the organizations they run, supposedly to help the downtrodden? How would he feel about President Obama saying that a police officer, who happened to be white, acted "stupidly" in arresting a Harvard Professor, who happened to be black, for disturbing the peace, after saying that he didn't have all the facts? I suspect that Dr. King would NOT approve. What say you?

I suspect some will say that I, a white, jewish man has no business opining on what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would think about these things. But those people that say that, are only making my point. After all, Dr. King said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character". Dr. King also sought not fairness but justice for all people. You never hear President Obama or his supporters discussing justice, but you always hear them calling for fairness. Justice is the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity. Fairness means superficially pleasing or specious. When a president puts in place policies that don't lift up the poor, but instead make them dependent on the government and it programs, while at the same time punishing those that have made money and achieved success legally, is that justice or is it an attempt at fairness?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Arrogant Elitists Beware.

We're six months into President Obama's administration and to say it's been interesting would be quite an understatement. We've had a 787 billion dollar stimulus plan nobody read, that's stimulated nothing but government growth and public outrage. We've had a quadrupling of the deficit. We've had the House rush a Cap and Trade bill through, that will increase unemployment, raise energy costs, send manufacturing overseas and according to the EPA actually increase carbon emissions. And we've had Obama traveling overseas to apologize for our nation for decades old mistakes real and imaged. Let's not forget the President's naive and cowardly reactions to the Iraqi student protests (where he took days to decide who's side he was on) and the wrongly labeled "military coup" in Honduras (where he couldn't move quickly enough to support Hugo Chavez wannabe Manuel Zalaya).

Until recently Obama's critics have been few and his public support has remained high. The media, for the most part, has remained his cheerleaders. But now things are starting to change for the President. His decision to inject himself in the Gates/Crowley situation after admitting he didn't have all the facts, led many to say the President acted "stupidly". The government-run healthcare plan that he's has been pushing for since before he started his campaign has run into trouble and exposed him as vulnerable. Even members of his own party are asking questions and demanding that the process slow down. These members of Congress are facing an increasingly agitated and angry constituency at home. They know that they face reelection challenges next year and don't want to risk their political futures to advance Obama's socialist agenda. And the President, though he goes out to campaign for it nearly everyday, is unable to sell the American people on his healthcare plan in the face of a staggering budget deficit.

To counter the growing public skepticism and grassroots protests that have been on the increase since the April 15th "Tea Party" protests, that they dismissed and discounted at the time, the Administration and it's allies have taken to calling the protests "manufactured". They say that the people showing up to protest in front of the offices of senators and congressman are being bussed in. They say that the people standing up to speak at town hall meetings to disagree with Obamacare and demand that members of Congress read the bills before they vote on them are planted. They accuse the grassroots of being "astroturf", paid agents of the GOP, while the opposite is the case. This is extremely ironic considering that is exactly what liberal groups like ACORN and the SEIU have been doing for quite sometime.

The outrage of the American people at their representatives and their president is neither manufactured, nor fake. It is very real and growing. The members of Congress scoff at the very idea of reading a trillion dollar piece of legislation and wonder why they have angry crowds at their town hall meetings? They lie about what the purpose and effect of the legislation they pass against the will of the people is and wonder why they're in danger of being voted out of office? Apparently they won't get the message until they find themselves out of a job. That's fine, I think the people have made it clear that they want "change they can believe in". It's just not the change that these arrogant elitists in Washington, DC think it is. Arrogant elitists beware, the 2010 elections are closer than you think. The people are pissed and you are the ones they will take their wrath out on, at the ballot box.