"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In the Wake of the Plethora of Obama Scandals, I Have to Ask: So OSU, Are You Still Buying Obama's "Don't Listen to the Voices Worrying About Government Tyranny" Thing?


"So remember kids you should never worry about tyranny coming from the American government when I'm in charge of it. Oh, and also don't worry when newspapers start publishing pictures of me like this-- ones that make me look like a messiah/deity/wizard. It's totally normal and healthy."

This hasn't been Obama's best couple of weeks. The Benghazi issue isn't going away, the IRS was caught leaning on Obama's enemies (probably being punished), and Obama's Department of Justice has admitted to seizing phone records from the press.

And this is in addition to a few under reported scandals.

First, the Federal government has mandated a speech code that is clearly unconstitutional on college and university campuses. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has been keeping up with it while it has passed under most other people's radar.

From Jacobson:

The FIRE [The Foundation of Individual Rights in Higher Education] is not an organization prone to hyperbole.

So when I received this email late this afternoon from FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley, it got my attention:
THIS. IS. OUTRAGEOUS. The government has mandated speech codes on all campuses. I hoped I would never see this day, but I feared I would.
This press release was linked in the email:
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MANDATES UNCONSTITUTIONAL SPEECH CODES AT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES NATIONWIDE

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2013—In a shocking affront to the United States Constitution, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education have joined together to mandate that virtually every college and university in the United States establish unconstitutional speech codes that violate the First Amendment and decades of legal precedent.

“I am appalled by this attack on free speech on campus from our own government,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has been leading the fight against unconstitutional speech codes on America’s college campuses since its founding in 1999. “In 2011, the Department of Education took a hatchet to due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct. Now the Department of Education has enlisted the help of the Department of Justice to mandate campus speech codes so broad that virtually every student will regularly violate them. The DOE and DOJ are ignoring decades of legal decisions, the Constitution, and common sense, and it is time for colleges and the public to push back.”

In a letter sent yesterday to the University of Montana that explicitly states that it is intended as “a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country,” the Departments of Justice and Education have mandated a breathtakingly broad definition of sexual harassment that makes virtually every student in the United States a harasser while ignoring the First Amendment. The mandate applies to every college receiving federal funding—virtually every American institution of higher education nationwide, public or private.

The letter states that “sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as ‘any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature’” including “verbal conduct” (that is, speech). It then explicitly states that allegedly harassing expression need not even be offensive to an “objectively reasonable person of the same gender in the same situation”—if the listener takes offense to sexually related speech for any reason, no matter how irrationally or unreasonably, the speaker may be punished.

This result directly contradicts previous Department of Education guidance on sexual harassment. In 2003, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) stated that harassment “must include something beyond the mere expression of views, words, symbols or thoughts that some person finds offensive.” Further, the letter made clear that “OCR’s standards require that the conduct be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person in the alleged victim’s position, considering all the circumstances, including the alleged victim’s age.”

Among the forms of expression now punishable on America’s campuses by order of the federal government are:
  • Any expression related to sexual topics that offends any person. This leaves a wide range of expressive activity—a campus performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” a presentation on safe sex practices, a debate about sexual morality, a discussion of gay marriage, or a classroom lecture on Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita—subject to discipline.
  • Any sexually themed joke overheard by any person who finds that joke offensive for any reason.
  • Any request for dates or any flirtation that is not welcomed by the recipient of such a request or flirtation.
There is likely no student on any campus anywhere who is not guilty of at least one of these “offenses.” Any attempt to enforce this rule evenhandedly and comprehensively will be impossible….
As Jacobson observes: "This is a continuation of the reign of politically correct terror on campuses, in which conservatives and men inevitably will be the ones singled out, a point we made in Kangaroo courts for men on campus. [...] Now everything is a speech crime on campus, and the administrators get to pick and choose who is guilty."

No tyranny here. Nope. None. Just protecting the rights of the easily offended by denying the right of free speech to all-- or maybe not all.

Second, Secretary of Health and Human Services, aka the Master/Mistress of ObamaCare, Kathleen Sebelius has been seeking to extort of money from the health industry to pay for ObamaCare.

From The Washington Post:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has gone, hat in hand, to health industry officials, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law, two people familiar with the outreach said.

Her unusual fundraising push comes after Congress repeatedly rejected the Obama administration’s requests for additional funds to set up the Affordable Care Act, leaving HHS to implement the president’s signature legislative accomplishment on what officials have described as a shoestring budget.

Over the past three months, Sebelius has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law, according to an HHS official and an industry person familiar with the secretary’s activities. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk openly about private discussions.

An HHS spokesperson said Sebelius was within the bounds of her authority in asking for help.

But Republicans charged that Sebelius’s outreach was improper because it pressured private companies and other groups to support the Affordable Care Act. The latest controversy has emerged as the law faces a string of challenges from GOP lawmakers in Washington and skepticism from many state officials across the country.

“To solicit funds from health-care executives to help pay for the implementation of the President’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is absurd,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said in a statement. “I will be seeking more information from the Administration about these actions to help better understand whether there are conflicts of interest and if it violated federal law.”

Federal regulations do not allow department officials to fundraise in their professional capacity. They do, however, allow Cabinet members to solicit donations as private citizens “if you do not solicit funds from a subordinate or from someone who has or seeks business with the Department, and you do not use your official title,” according to Justice Department regulations.

HHS spokesman Jason Young added that a special section in the Public Health Service Act allows the secretary to support and encourage others to support nonprofit groups working to provide health information and conduct other public-health activities.
Yeah, Sebelius was just asking people for money on her own time. I do that myself. I often call acquaintances on the phone and suggest that they give me money. It's a hobby.

So once again, no tyranny here. Move on. Just move on.

Oh, and then there's also the St. Louis anchorman who claims that the IRS leaned on him and his station after a tough interview with Obama.

Larry Conners, a veteran local news anchor at KMOV Channel 4 in St. Louis, says that the Internal Revenue Service has been targeting him since an April 2012 interview he conducted with President Obama -- a fact that he dismissed as coincidence until the recent reports about the IRS targeting conservative groups.

"Shortly after I did my April 2012 interview with President Obama, my wife, friends and some viewers suggested that I might need to watch out for the IRS. I don't accept 'conspiracy theories', but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me," Conners wrote on his Facebook page late Monday night.
Nothing to see, kids. No tyranny. Nope. Just hope and change!

And finally there's the claim that Obama's EPA waives fee requests for friendly groups, and denies them to conservative groups.

The Washington Examiner piece by Michal Conger:

Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

CEI reviewed Freedom of Information Act requests sent between January 2012 and this spring from several environmental groups friendly to the EPA’s mission, and several conservative groups, to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy for media and watchdog groups. Government agencies are supposed to waive fees for groups disseminating information for public benefit.

“This is as clear an example of disparate treatment as the IRS’ hurdles selectively imposed upon groups with names ominously reflecting an interest in, say, a less intrusive or biased federal government,” said CEI fellow Chris Horner.

For 92 percent of requests from green groups, the EPA cooperated by waiving fees for the information. Those requests came from the Natural Resources Defense Council, EarthJustice, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, The Waterkeeper Alliance, Greenpeace, Southern Environmental Law Center and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Of the requests that were denied, the EPA said the group either didn’t respond to requests for justification of a waiver, or didn’t express intent to disseminate the information to the general public, according to documents obtained by The Washington Examiner. CEI, on the other hand, had its requests denied 93 percent of the time. One request was denied because CEI failed to express its intent to disseminate the information to the general public. The rest were denied because the agency said CEI “failed to demonstrate that the release of the information requested significantly increases the public understanding of government operations or activities.” Similarly, requests from conservative groups Judicial Watch and National Center for Public Policy Research were approved half the time, and all requests from Franklin Center and the Institute for Energy Research were denied. “Their practice is to take care of their friends and impose ridiculous obstacles to deny problematic parties’ requests for information,” said Horner. Freedom of Information Act requests from CEI forced the EPA to release emails under the the “Richard Windsor” alias former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson used to conduct government business. CEI has also filed FOIA requests for emails, text messages and instant messages from Jackson and EPA nominee Gina McCarthy. Horner said he believes the EPA has denied CEI’s requests because his think tank is the most active group seeking to hold the agency accountable. “This is a clear pattern of favoritism for allied groups and a concerted campaign to make life more difficult for those deemed unfriendly,” he said. “The left hand of big government reaches out to give a boost to its far-left hand at every turn. Argue against more of the same, however, and prepare to be treated as if you have fewer rights.”
Just coincidence. Conservatives don't fill out forms right and wear tinfoil hats. Move on. Nothing to see. Move on.

And all this comes just barely more than a week after Obama advised Ohio State University student to reject the voices that warn of government tyranny, because this democracy is ours. I guess when he meant ours, he meant the government belonged to Left now.

So I just have to wonder, in light of all these scandals and abuses of power that have sprung up in the last several days, are you still buying it OSU students?

If so, I gotta bridge in Brooklyn you might like. Real cheap.

UPDATE: Huh. It seems like Tom Blumer at Bizzy Blog is wondering the same thing.

2 comments:

  1. But wait, Obama's already said, "I am not a dictator" . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, he just plays one when not on TV. Or maybe this is just a little wish fulfillment.

      Delete