Monday, April 20, 2009

The Little Red Wagon That Can

What I saw at the Tea Party


I’m not sure—I’m no prophet—but I think I just saw something genuinely profound, genuinely amazing, and cool that could be the tidal wave of the future.

Here’s the setup. It was Tax Day. Thousands of self-organized protesters had gathered around the nation to protest the irresponsible, incredibly rapid expansion of government under the current administration. The Democratic Party and the elite media had done everything in their power to first ignore, then discourage, ridicule, and belittle this grassroots movement. Theoretically respectable journalists were reduced to making double-entendre sexual jokes about tea bags. These are the same people who rushed en masse to cover Cindy Sheehan and a dozen or so antiwar protesters in Crawford, Texas, rechristening that sad, emotionally unpredictable woman with two of the most cherished words in the English language: Peace Mom. But what was their attitude when thousands of ordinary people gathered in defense of their rights all over the country? “Just move on, folks, nothing to see here.”

Ah well, they’re nervous, and I don’t blame them. Because despite their claims that the Tea Party movement is without ideas, it was the people at those protests who represented the beliefs of our Founding Fathers. And it’s the government and the press that have betrayed them.

James Madison, in the famous Federalist #10, said it was the “first object of government” to protect those “diverse faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate,” and from which also originate “the possession of different degrees and kinds of property.” He warned that these faculties and these rights were in danger when what the Founders called “a majority faction” took over government. The Constitution, Madison said, was intended to help prevent such majority factions from working for “a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project.”

“The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality,” Madison warned; “yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice.”

It is that voice—Madison’s voice, and the Constitution’s—with which the protestors spoke on Tax Day, and which the Democrats and the mainstream press have dismissed with such contempt.

So that’s the setup. Here’s what I saw at the Tea Party. I went to voice my opinions in an interview with Bill Whittle on the website Pajamas TV, where I do my “Klavan on the Culture” video commentaries. I walked into the modest studio in a skyscraper out near LAX. And it was wonderful.

There was a makeshift newsroom there like no other I had ever seen. Extra laptops and big-screen monitors were slung up everywhere, volunteer citizen journalists called in reports from the protests around the country on their cellphones, bloggers like Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds Skyped in live commentary, Tweeters sent in field observations. It was a People’s Media that seemed to have risen up out of the ground like Cadmus’s army of old to spread the word about a movement that had likewise risen up in spite of, and in defiance of, the powers that be.

Do you know what it reminded me of? Remember the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? Remember how the lone righteous senator, played by Jimmy Stewart, takes on the entrenched interests in a filibuster but the powerful media, in league with the government, does everything it can to shut him up and shut him down? Unable to get the word out, Mr. Smith calls on the little kids who love him to print up newspapers on their toy printing presses and distribute them in their little red wagons. And they do it—little kids telling the story that a corrupt media is no longer willing to tell.

And do you remember what Mr. Smith says at his darkest hour, when they silence him, when they cut off every means he has of communicating with the American people? He says: “You all think I’m licked. But I’m not licked.” And then he brings those scoundrels down.


DHS Wants to Know What You’re Thinking

The Obama administration defines extremism down

By Andrew C. McCarthy

For eight years, we’ve been treated to hysterical rhetoric from Democrats, including Barack Obama, about the scourge of “domestic spying.” Now that the Obama administration is openly calling for domestic spying — the real thing, not the smear used against President Bush — they’re suddenly silent.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the FBI, has issued an intelligence assessment on what it calls “Rightwing Extremism.” It is appalling. The nakedly political document announces itself as a “federal effort to influence domestic public opinion.” It proceeds, in what it acknowledges is the absence of any “specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,” to speculate that “rightwing” political views might “drive” such violence — violence, it further surmises, that might be abetted by military veterans returning home after putting their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. And for good measure, in violation of both FBI guidelines and congressional statutes, the Obama administration promises scrutiny of ordinary Americans’ political views, speech, and assembly.

The word “rightwing” appears repeatedly in the assessment, which was issued by the same DHS component (the “Extremism and Radicalization Branch”) that, a year ago, suggested purging the terms “jihadist” and “Islamofascist” from our lexicon for fear of insulting moderate Muslims. And what exactly is “rightwing”? According to Obama’s DHS, it refers to groups that are “primarily hate-oriented” on ethnic grounds (perhaps DHS hasn’t heard of the National Socialist party) and those that are violently anti-government because of economic and social grievances (ACORN and “direct action” ring a bell?). “Rightwing” also covers a militia movement expressing “frustration that the ‘revolution’ never materialized.”

In short, the government uses the term as a caricature of the Right: noxious, non-conservative views thoughtlessly labeled “rightwing extremism” to smear actual conservative values as a purported societal threat. As the report absurdly elaborates:

"Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

The insinuation: If you think the federal government has gotten too big, if you believe that the Tenth Amendment (“the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”) is still part of the Constitution, if you are concerned about unborn life, or if you want the immigration laws of the United States enforced, you are a terrorist waiting to happen. If you are resistant to immersion in the global community because of “the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers,” you are a potential subversive. If you are concerned that the government might interfere with your right to legally purchase and possess firearms, you are on the federal radar.

We on the Right are deeply concerned — more concerned, historically, than our opposite numbers — about threats to civil society. Ordered liberty requires order. When there is a domestic terrorist threat, regardless of the taxonomy of its motivational forces, government must be vigilant.

But several qualifiers are worth bearing in mind. First, as the Supreme Court observed in its 1972 Keith case, the law of the United States recognizes that foreign threats, such as that presented by al-Qaeda, call for more expansive executive authority in intelligence-gathering and other countermeasures than do potential domestic insurrections involving American citizens, whose rights of privacy and dissent are protected by the Constitution. Second, the stepped-up surveillance against radical Islam in 2001 followed sneak attacks that claimed more American lives than Pearl Harbor and capped a series of atrocities stretching back several years — and which, according to its perpetrators, were only part of a coming onslaught. Third, by contrast, there is no domestic terror threat at this time — DHS admits as much, and its expressed fear that such a threat may materialize is rank guesswork: “rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits,” the bad economy “could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists,” and so on.

That is no basis on which to hound American citizens, much less to smear conservative convictions as “drivers” of terrorism. Yet DHS concludes by promising to train Big Brother’s probing eye on “rightwing” politics. The agency, we’re told, “will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.”

In the absence of criminal activity, investigations targeting First Amendment–protected beliefs, speech, association, and political activity would constitute an abuse of power. FBI guidelines counsel:

"In its efforts to anticipate or prevent crime, the FBI must at times initiate investigations in advance of criminal conduct. It is important that such investigations not be based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment or on the lawful exercise of any other rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States."

Moreover, in the Patriot Act, FISA, and other statutes, Congress has expressly provided that investigations of Americans are not to be “conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

The DHS intelligence assessment is a betrayal of these values, and a frightening indication that those trusted to wield power in defense of our Constitution are unfamiliar with what the Constitution stands for.

President Obama should repudiate the DHS report and see to it that those responsible walk the plank — including DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, who has acknowledged being briefed on the assessment before it was released. If he won’t act, the Democratic Congress — so full-throated in its condemnation of “domestic spying” — should take a timeout from its partisan witch-hunts and find out who is really calling for putting Americans under surveillance.


Council powers to spy on the British public are cut

About time!

Councils are to have their powers to snoop on the public severely curtailed. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will signal government plans today to reverse the expansion of the surveillance society amid growing alarm at the extent of official spying.

Councils have used legislation intended to tackle terrorism and serious crime to deal with minor offences such as dog fouling and littering. Even families anxious to secure places at successful state schools have come under scrutiny from zealous officials. The powers have been used almost 50,000 times by public authorities such as local councils and the health service since 2002. The figure does not include surveillance by the police.

Under the government proposals thousands of council workers will lose the right to use the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Only chief executives and senior officials will be able to sanction use of the Act to eavesdrop on conversations, track vehicles and secretly film people — and only then for more serious offences such as benefits fraud and illegal trading.

Consumer groups will welcome the changes, but some privacy campaigners will say that they do not go far enough. Simon Davies, of Privacy International, said: “Given the farcical and overzealous use of these powers by local authorities it is entirely unacceptable that even chief executives should be given sign-off powers. Authorisation should be placed where it always belonged: with the police.”

Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said that surveillance powers should be used only to tackle terrorism and serious crime.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “This consultation is a tacit admission by the Government that its surveillance society has got out of hand. For too long, powers we were told would be used to fight terrorism and organised crime have been used to spy on people’s kids, pets and bins. Surveillance powers should only be used to investigate serious crimes and must require a magistrate’s warrant.”

The consultation paper also suggests giving local councillors the right to monitor the way in which officials are using the powers. The Home Office said that this could involve chief executives and senior officials needing the approval of local councillors before they allow surveillance operations to begin.


A pedophile? Ho hum! say all the authorities

So he was left free to hurt those who reported him. An excellent example from Australia of how your government will NOT protect you

TWO girls who exposed their school principal as a sexual predator say their lives have been ruined since they were expelled from the Christian college. Friends Sarah Johnson and Bec Gavan blew the whistle on St Andrew's Christian School headmaster Frank Bailey, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to sex charges.

Their warning went unchecked by the Education Department, the Department of Community Services and police from the child protection unit, culminating a month later in the drugging and multiple rape of another teenage girl. In March, Bailey, 43, pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual intercourse with a person in his care.

A year earlier the NSW Ombudsman's office and others had been told of Bailey's breach of the Presbyterian Church's child protection policy for private schools. In late 2006, Hazel Bell, a science teacher at the school at Clarenza, near Grafton, went to deputy principal David Johnston and the board with concerns about Bailey, who became principal in 2005. Mrs Bell was concerned at Bailey's playground cuddles with female students, inappropriate behaviour at after-school Christian youth groups and student pool parties at his home. She said that within two weeks of making the complaint she was made redundant after Mr Johnston told an enraged Bailey of her concerns.

"Revealing my identity was a breach of the confidentiality guidelines in the Whistleblowers [Protection] Act, and I wrote to both the Ombudsman's office and DOCS, and Presbyterian Social Services, expressing my concerns after I was made redundant," said Mrs Bell, who had taught at the school for two years.

She said that within a month of his appointment, Bailey, who had taught at Broughton Anglican College at Campbelltown, abolished the school's "no touch" policy. He also wrote in the school newsletter that "students had free will to love whoever they liked". "He even announced at assembly one day that the no contact policy was out because 'families touch' and the school was 'one big family'," Mrs Bell said.

She has joined Ms Johnson and Ms Gavan, both 19, in legal action against the Presbyterian Church for damaging their reputations, potential career paths and earning capacity by failing to heed their warnings about Bailey.

The former principal pleaded guilty in the District Court at Grafton over the incidents, which took place at his home over a week in November 2007. He will be sentenced next month. The offences were committed a month after Ms Johnson and Ms Gavan, then 17 and in year 12, were expelled for voicing concern to other students and the deputy principal about Bailey's behaviour towards a teenager. Ms Gavan was expelled on the spot by Bailey on October 22, 2007, for telling him to his face: "Principal Bailey you are a pedophile."

Ms Johnson, who had been given detention for telling other girls she didn't like the way Bailey cuddled students or walked around Grafton with his arm around one, was expelled three days later for harassing and denigrating students and teachers, Mr Johnston wrote in his expulsion letter to her parents.

St Andrew's and the Ombudsman's Office said they could not comment on the matter.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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