Watching Totalitarianism Encroach

We conservatives joke about Obama, calling him “the One” or “the Messiah” because of some of the excesses, to be fair, of some/many of his followers (and his wife). 

The metaphor works.  But there’s a better one.

Putin.

Oh, you could fill in others; Chavez, Castro, Mussolini, Franco, what have you.

Why?  Because The One has tipped his hand.  He is going to sic the government on those who dissent against him.

From David Bernstein at Volokh, with emphasis added by me:

the Obama campaign has sicced its lawyers on t.v. stations that might air a well-sourced NRA advertisement that correctly points out Obama’s longstanding anti-gun record.

 The ad, of course, is correct in every respect.  It’s not only protected political speech, it is true.  Obama was for gun control, before (he claimed) he was against it.

The proper response to such attempts to infringe on the First Amendment is to make sure that the video in question receives the widest circulation possible, to deter the Obama campaign, and other campaigns for that matter, from engaging in such tactics in the future. So here it is. Share it with a friend, with a note that Obama is threatening legal action against stations that run it, in violation of the First Amendment.

Here you go:

Go ahead, Barry.  Have your goons send me a Cease and Desist.  I dare you.

Sebastian from Snowflakes In Hell on the gist of Obama’s assault:

So basically, stop running NRA’s ads, or your broadcast license could be in jeopardy.  They detail the WaPo’s FactCheck.org repetition as proof.  This is Chicago politics at its finest folks.  If you can’t win fair, win dirty.  This is not how a free society is supposed to function.  This is not the kind of man I want leading my country.

This is a direct attack on the First Amendment.  This is positive proof that an Obama Administration would use the “Fairness” Doctrine – which they fully intend to re-instate – to squash dissent.  Y’know – all that stuff Bush was supposedly going to to, but in eight years never got around to. 

Obama’s started, and he’s not even president yet.

44 thoughts on “Watching Totalitarianism Encroach

  1. Instead of responding, he tries to use force to destroy the opposition. Wonder what kind of people Obama will put in top regulatory positions if he wins.

  2. “Obama is threatening legal action against stations that run it, in violation of the First Amendment.”

    This does not even make sense. The 1st Amendment does not prevent citizens from filing a lawsuit. A lawsuit just asks the law to be enforced. I am sure the NRA has plenty of lawyers to defend themselves. Or do you people run for the hills every time there is a bump in the night.

  3. Rick, your obtusion almost violates the laws of physics.

    Obama’s campaign wants to use the power of government – through the courts today, through the bureaucracy if he wins – to shut up *factual*, protected political speech.

    An ad hits him on the facts, he runs to court threatening TV stations’ licenses if they show it. The letter sent to the stations threatens exactly that in as many words.

    If it were the Bush Administration, you’d be giving yourself an aneurism.

    Truth hurts, doens’t it? You support a fucking fascist.

  4. A pdf of the letter Obama’s lawyers sent to the stations airing the ad is here:
    http://www.thebitchgirls.us/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/obama.pdf
    The writer thinks that because a few newspaper columns disputed the NRA’s characterization of Obama’s position on firearms this is grounds for refusing to air the ad.
    Hey, Mitch, you’re some kind of journalist, aren’t you? Don’t you know a lawyer or two? Why don’t you write an article “fact-checking” a pro-Obama advert & then have a lawyer friend fire off a take down order to the broadcast networks?
    It would only be thuggery if you represented an individual or group that may be able to influence the broadcaster’s license.

  5. Filing lawsuits is one thing; asking law enforcement to get involved is another. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this:

    http://www.kmov.com/video/index.html?nvid=285793&shu=1

    The TV station’s description: “The Barack Obama campaign is asking Missouri law enforcement to target anyone who lies or runs a misleading TV ad during the presidential campaign.”

    From the reporter – live on the scene, of course:

    “Prosecutors will be reminding voters that Barack Obama is a Christian who wants to cut taxes for anyone making less than $250,000 a year.”

    Prosecutors and sherriffs involved? W, T, F?

  6. Mitch: You big baby. Whether X is protected by the First Amendment is often a question for the courts to decide. If his complaint is justified, he ought to file it. If Obama’s complaint is wrong, the courts will do nothing and no harm will come of it.

    Badda: “can we sue him for his comments on Shot in the Dark” Have at it. Can’t wait to see the judge chew you a new one for wasting the courts time.

    Lileks: The biggest baby of the day (other than back-down Johnny Mac).

    If you actually listened to the stories the LEOs were 1. acting as a volunteer media truth squad responding to inaccurate news stories and 2. vowing to enforce all campaign related laws, which is you know, their job. Believe it or not, elected officials, including prosecutors and sheriffs, often endorse candidates and serve as media spokespeople. They also often do their job of enforcing campaign laws.

    So is this another W, T, F?
    http://www.sheriffstanek.com/pressreleases.php

  7. Rick-Tic:
    Have at it. Can’t wait to see the judge chew you a new one for wasting the [court's] time.

    Actually Rick-Tic, “the courts will do nothing and no harm will come of it.”

  8. Elected officials of both parties belong to their candidates’ self-styled “Truth Squads,” Lileks, prosecutors included. But if the Obama campaign is encouraging law enforcement to target people who publish false anti-Obama ads, that is very, very wrong. And while that’s what the intro suggests, it’s completely unsupported by facts or by the interviews with the two Missouri prosecutors. You got a source for this story, other than this particular Eyewitless News team?

  9. Rick, certainly you understand that fighting even an unfounded complaint can impoverish most people, right?

    Let’s be serious here; everyone knows that the first person to state his case generally sounds pretty persuasive until his opponent stands up to speak. For that matter, it’s even in Proverbs. The trick here is that getting your chance to respond in this culture, and to do it well, costs money.

    More or less, Obama is using his position to try and bully his opponents, and quite frankly, it promises that he’ll do exactly the same if elected–but with the power of the DOJ, and infinitely more ability to bankrupt his ideological opponents. See why this just might be a chilling factor in debate? Would you want a Republican doing this?

    (I personally don’t want someone of either party doing this, as I’ve had run-ins with those with whom I’d personally agree 99% of the time that tell me very clearly that I want these people held accountable)

  10. Bike Bubba:

    “Rick, certainly you understand that fighting even an unfounded complaint can impoverish most people, right?”
    Stop, I am getting all weepy for the poor, broke, and don’t know a lawyer NRA.

    “Would you want a Republican doing this?” They are free to file lawsuits against well funded organizations are they see fit. I am not going to go all cry baby about it.

  11. RickDFL, Obama’s didn’t like the ad so he goes whining to the station owner: “Wah! Wah! Make it stop, I don’t like it, it’s hurting me!’ And Mitch is the cry-baby?
    Even Peevish could not enumerate the fingers pointing back at you.

  12. don’t know a lawyer NRA.

    So you should need a lawyer to exercise your freedom of speech?

    Heil Rick.

  13. Seriously, Rick.

    Say that I say somethign like this:

    Barack Obama has lied about his history on Second Amendment Issues. He is deeply disingenuous when he calls himself pro-Second-Amendment.

    Obama sends his lawyers after me.

    I don’t have money to fight a well-financed campaign to silence me. So is THAT still OK by you?

    And bear in mind, Obama isn’t taking on the “well-funded’ NRA. He’s attacking TV stations, whose only relationship with the NRA is via an advertising contract.

    I know – clarity doesn’t help your case. But that’s what is going on.

  14. I think the worst crybabies are people who can’t be bothered to register to vote properly or carry an ID to a polling place. “Wah! I committed a felony & now they won’t let me vote! Wah! I saw a police car outside the polling place & I got scareded!”

  15. Well, after reading about the Stifling and Chilling of Dissent over the last seven years, it’s amusing to see the Stifled-American Community sniff at government officials expressing enthusiasm for prosecuting people for political speech – sorry, speech the utterly empirical and ruthlessly dispassionate “Truth Squad” regards as factually errant.

    If someone has the stones to run an ad suggesting that the aggregate effect of Obama’s policies might increase the taxes on people making less than 250K, that merits a call from the sheriff?

  16. Imagine the uniformed members of Obama’s Missouri “Truth Squad” going door to door and telling people that they really, really should vote for Obama.

  17. Ah, the ever popular (with the elementary school crowd) “you’re a big baby” argument. Is the Obama campaign doing anything wrong in your opinion, RickDFL?

  18. Mitch:
    We have laws to regulate campaign speech and television broadcasts. To enforce those laws, campaigns file lawsuits against advocay groups and media companies. You can not have the laws with out the lawsuits.

    Lileks:
    “government officials expressing enthusiasm for prosecuting people for political speech”. Do you have an example?

    “that merits a call from the sheriff?” Ditto?

    Troy:
    “Is the Obama campaign doing anything wrong in your opinion, RickDFL?”
    No, I am pretty happy with them right now. They are doing a great job of letting Johnny Mac lose his marbles right before our eyes. Thanks for asking though.

    Terry:
    “Imagine the uniformed members of Obama’s Missouri “Truth Squad” going door to door and telling people that they really, really should vote for Obama.” I am fairly certain that their are rules against this, but members of the law enforcement community are certainly free to volunteer to doorknock in civilian clothes for the candidate of their choice.

  19. Interesting response, Lileks. Considering Angryclown said he’d be in total agreement if the facts are as you claim. Seems that all you’re missing is, you know, the facts. I’ll await a link or two. Unless you’re one of those columnists who prefers to work fact-free.

  20. We have laws to regulate campaign speech and television broadcasts.

    Yes, but again, you’re being obtuse, willfully or otherwise.

    The not-so-oblique threat to the TV stations’ licenses is above and beyond campaign finance laws.

    Right?

  21. RickDFL said:

    “No, I am pretty happy with them right now.”

    So, you are anti-imaginary-fascism, but pro-real-fascism. Understood. :-)

  22. Mitch:
    “The not-so-oblique threat to the TV stations’ licenses is above and beyond campaign finance laws.”
    But it is not above and beyond the laws and regulations that govern the TV stations’ licenses, which are the ones cited in the Obama complaint.

  23. “But it is not above and beyond the laws and regulations that govern the TV stations’ licenses, which are the ones cited in the Obama complaint.”
    The Obama complaint cites a column in the WashPo, an article from a Chicago newspaper, and an internet website run by journalists & paid for by the annenberg foundation.
    This in place of dispassionate experts usually used to validate truth-in-advertising complaints. Whether something is true or false is not a political determination — unless you are commissar RickDFL.
    Obama’s lawyers supporting ‘evidence’ (given in the letter) is a joke. The people that wrote the refuting articles are not expert witnesses, they have no idea what does and does not constitute evidence of ‘false or misleading advertising’. Ain’t Obama supposed to have a brilliant legal mind? Why doesn’t the lawyer that runs his campaign know this?

  24. Rick, I think you owe me and Mitch a straight answer. Is it right that citizens ought to have a lawyer on retainer because certain politicians respond to allegations not with an argument, but with a lawsuit and the threat of prosecution?

    I say no. There are legitimate places for a libel lawsuit, and Obama knows this is not one of them. That’s why he’s sending his legal beagles all over to try and intimidate the world to get his way. That’s not a good sign for someone who would be the boss of the Attorney General if he’s elected.

  25. Bike Bubba:
    “is it right that citizens ought to have a lawyer on retainer because certain politicians respond to allegations not with an argument, but with a lawsuit and the threat of prosecution”
    If that citizens operates a television station under a FCC license, then they ought to be prepared to defend themselves against legal complaints that they are not abiding by the conditions of that license. As long as it has legal conditions, there is no way to avoid a legal challenge from time to time. That is why everyone with a significant FCC license, has a lawyer on retainer. You can not have a system of laws unless those laws are enforced in courts.

  26. they ought to be prepared to defend themselves against legal complaints that they are not abiding by the conditions of that license.

    So “carrying an ad that criticizes Obama” is “not abiding by the conditions of the license?”

    Show me where that’s covered in a broadcast license, if you please.

    Would carrying Obama ads also be a violation of a station license?

    That is why everyone with a significant FCC license, has a lawyer on retainer.

    Rick you are betraying a complete misunderstanding of how broadcast licenses work.

  27. The letter is a demand that the station manager stop broadcasting an anti-Obama ad because it is actionable “false advertising”. For proof it uses snippets of newspaper clippings from journalists saying the ad is false. Most of the snippets are off the mark, or take statements from the ad out of context.
    If you or I had a lawyer write such a letter, it would go into the round file after it was passed around the office for good chuckle.
    Coming from a powerful political figure the letter is thuggery. Note that Obama’s lawyer did not complain to the FCC, or the FTC, they made sure that the station manager knew that they were in Obama’s panopticon.

  28. Mitch:
    “Show me where that’s covered in a broadcast license, if you please.”
    Read the linked letter, 4th para from the end you lazy sod.

    Terry:
    “thuggery”
    If that is what you call trying to enforce the law, then get used to it.

  29. You aren’t a lawyer, are you, RickDFL?
    A threatening letter is not an attempt to enforce the law. A threatening letter is a threatening letter. Lawyers, believe it or not, are not empowered to ‘enforce the law’.
    Once again I will note that this letter was not sent to the FCC or the FTC. These are the agencies charged with enforcing the the laws against false advertising & regulating broadcast licenses.

  30. If that is what you call trying to enforce the law, then get used to it.

    On top of what Terry said, Rick, please show me – as in now, before you leave any other comments on any subject – the “law” that allows the FCC to shut down TV stations over campaign ads.

    Bear in mind as you do that the ads in question in Missouri were in fact factual.

    Show me the law, or kindly admit that you are talking crap.

  31. Terry:
    Lawyers routinely write letters to parties in a dispute in which they advise one party that another party considers them to be in violation of the law. E.G. Dear Mr. Smith, my client Mr. Jones, considers your new garage to be in violation of blah blah. Please cease construction or we will take further legal remedies.

    Mitch:
    The “law” is cited in the Obama letter, as I stated.

    “Bear in mind as you do that the ads in question in Missouri were in fact factual.”
    Usually a factual dispute in a legal case is resolved by the judge or jury.

  32. “Usually a factual dispute in a legal case is resolved by the judge or jury.”
    But this is not a legal case. A lawyer, representing a powerful politician, perhaps soon to be the most powerful public figure in the world, sends a public broadcaster a threatening letter saying that in his opinion he is legally liable for broadcasting advertisements critical of his client. How very Nixonian of team Obama.
    Throughout your responses you rely on legalisms, RickDFL. If it’s legal, it is proper. If this is an example of how Obama would handle political opposition should he become president, my enthusiasm for voting for John McCain just inched up.

  33. Terry:
    “A lawyer,. . ., sends a public broadcaster a threatening letter saying that in his opinion he is legally liable for broadcasting advertisements critical of his client.”
    Oh did you say he sent a letter! I bet it was even certified! Hide the children, Godzilla is loose in downtown Tokyo.

  34. Oh did you say he sent a letter!

    Yes, Rick, we did. A letter saying they’d attack a TV station’s license to do business because they broadcast an ad – a factual one – that the campaign disapproved of.

    I’ve asked you to provide the part of campaign advertising law that puts broadcast licenses on the line. You’ve failed. As we knew you would, because as usual you’re substiting “obtuse” for “informed”.

    An Obama administration could start shipping Republicans to camps in Utah, and Rick would respond “oooh! CAMPS! The horror”.

  35. Mitch:

    “a factual one” Once again. This is a matter of dispute.

    “I’ve asked you to provide the part of campaign advertising law that puts broadcast licenses on the line.”
    OK this is just silly. I have told you at least twice. Read the letter from the Obama capaign. Page 2, 4th para from the end.

    “oooh! CAMPS! The horror”
    Do you have any idea how silly you sound? The only proper response to this sort of hysteria is pure mockery.

  36. RickDFL, you’re not holding a consistent line. First you mocke the idea that a threatening letter from the Obama’s Campaign’s lawyer is, well, threatening, and then you explain to Mitch exactly where in the letter you feel the lawyer makes his case that the broadcaster’s license is in danger.
    That’s where you find yourself when you take a position based on ideology & then try to pass off that position as non-ideological.
    Or maybe you just approve of thuggery in general? That would explain your dislike of secret ballots in union elections.

  37. Terry:
    Just to repeat myself:
    If his complaint is justified, he ought to file it. If Obama’s complaint is wrong, the courts will do nothing and no harm will come of it.

  38. I’m going to wait to formulate an opinon until the fact check groups get done with this.

    I just don’t find it very plausible that anything is going to happen to any station for running a legitimate ad.

    I’m betting this is going to turn out to be like the factually badly flawed ground zero mosque hysteria over something that turns out to be substantially different than what is presented. I’m with AC on this – if your representation is correct, I will side with you 100%. But I don’t think this is factually correct, so far, and will be skeptical until I see more info either way.

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