American Elephants

Let’s really talk about freedom of speech, before it’s gone. by The Elephant's Child

One of the most troubling aspects of this presidential campaign, and of recent years is the concerted  attack on freedom of speech. There is no more precious right than the right of free expression — the right to stand up and speak your mind.  As the teaching of history has declined in our schools, so has our understanding of what is meant by “freedom of speech”.

The first amendment does not grant you a platform or venue for your opinions to be heard.  What it does grant is the right to be free of attempts to regulate, silence or punish your speech.  There is no right to be free of criticism.  Anyone is free to have at you — you may speak your mind, but nobody has to agree with you, and they are free to say so. This is not a right that the government has granted to you, but a right that you have told government that they must respect.

Colleges and universities have become enamored of “speech codes” in recent years, and it has devolved down to the public schools as well.  You are not supposed to hurt anyone’s feelings.  Of course they have come up with all kinds of things that are supposed to govern what you may say. Laws governing “hate speech” have been passed in direct contravention of the constitution.

Seldom have we had a political candidate quite as thin-skinned as Barack Obama.  He doesn’t like criticism.  He has appeared as a “blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” Democrats have been singularly uninterested in filling in that “blank screen”; but others want to know just who this man is who speaks so persuasively of “hope” and “change” yet reveals almost nothing of himself.

Obama’s supporters feel free to indulge in the most heinous slanders on Sarah Palin and John McCain, feel free to depict any member of the administration as a Nazi, yet those who look into Obama’s background are attacked.  Obama is only to be admired not questioned.

A candidate for the world’s most powerful office is not to be examined about his radical record, his far-left politics, his unsavory associations, his disturbing economic ideas and his aggressive push for defeat in Iraq. Those who discuss any of this may be subject to legal harassment or more.

Andrew McCarthy at National Review enumerates some of the incidents:

Item: When the American Issues Project ran political ads calling attention to Obama’s extensive ties to Ayers, the Weatherman terrorist who brags about having bombed the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, the Obama campaign pressured the Justice Department to launch an absurd criminal prosecution.

Item: When commentator Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center was invited on a Chicago radio program to discuss his investigation of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an “education reform” project in which Obama and Ayers (just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood”) collaborated to dole out over $100 million, the Obama campaign issued an Internet action alert.  Supporters, armed with the campaign’s non-responsive talking points, dutifully flooded the program with calls and emails, protesting Kurtz’s appearance and attempting to shout him down. The same kind of attack was conducted when David Fredoso subsequently appeared on the same program.

Item: Both Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, have indicated that an Obama administration would use its control of the Justice Department to prosecute its political opponents, including Bush administration officials responsible for the national security policies put in effect after nearly 3000 Americans were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Item: There is a troubling report that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Section, top officials of which are Obama contributors, has suggested criminal prosecutions against those they anticipate will engage in voter “intimidation ” or “oppression” in an election involving a black candidate…In a system that presumes innocence even after crimes have undeniably been committed, responsible prosecutors don’t assume non-suspects will commit future law violations — especially when doing so necessarily undermines the First Amendment freedoms those prosecutors solemnly swear to uphold.

Michael Barone notes that 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”.

Then there is the Democrat’s “card check” legislation that would abolish secret ballot elections in determining whether employees are to be represented by a union. The union strategy is obvious, a few union thugs can go to a employee’s house and get them to sign cards that will guarantee a union victory without giving the employee a chance to be heard.

Ralph Peters, recently wrote in the New York Post that after a lecture to the Marine Memorial Association, a reporter thrust a microphone at him and asked if Peters thought he should be tried for war crimes for his columns supporting our military.

James Hansen, NASA scientist, called for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature because they were actively spreading doubt about the reality of global warming.

There are many more examples, but the point is that the Democrat candidate for the highest office in the land, who has both studied and taught constitutional law, seems to be either unfamiliar with the first amendment, or just doesn’t think it matters. This is not a small matter.

As Andrew McCarthy said: “Senator Obama and his supporters despise free expression, the bedrock of American self-determinism and hence American democracy.  What’s more, like garden-variety despots, they see law not as a means of ensuring liberty but as a tool to intimidate and quell dissent.”

You really need to think about that.

The color of hypocrisy? Green! by The Elephant's Child

Junk Science’s Steven Milloy reports on the latest thing in green travel:

The World Wildlife Fund’s website states that “It is clearly time for all Americans to roll up their sleeves, to take steps to reduce emissions, to prepare for climate change, and to encourage others to do the same.” We Americans must use compact fluorescent light bulbs, reduce hot water use, turn thermostats down in the winter and up in the summer and use low-flow shower heads and faucets.  We should pledge to commute by carpool or mass transit, switch to green power, and get more fuel-efficient cars.  We should make our lives more expensive and less convenient so that the Green elites don’t feel too guilty while jet-setting to exotic locales.

That’s for us.  For their wealthy donors they have something else in mind:

“Join us on a remarkable 25-day journey by luxury private jet,”invites the WWF in a brochure for its voyage to “some of the most astonishing places on the planet to see top wildlife, including gorillas, orangutans, rhinos, lemurs and toucans.”

For a price tag that starts at $64,950 per person, travelers will meet at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, Fla. on April 6, 2009 and then fly to “remote corners” of the world on a “specially outfitted jet that carries just 88 passengers in business-class comfort.” “World class experts — including  WWF’s director of species conservation — will provide lectures en route, and a professional staff will be devoted to making your global adventure seamless and memorable.” Travelers will visit the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil, Easter Island, Samoa, Borneo, Laos, Nepal, Madagascar, Namibi, Uganda or Rwanda, and finish up at the luxury Dorchester Hotel in London.

According to the calculator on the WWF’s website, it would cost in excess of $44,000 to offset the carbon emissions from the jet travel alone.  But there is some doubt about the whole carbon-offset thing.  it may be just a rip-off.  And so it goes.

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