– Bud Norman
There’s been a great effort in the past several days to make excuses for Barack Obama’s universally panned performance in last week’s presidential debate, with pundits blaming everything from the thin mountain air to having John Kerry as a sparring partner, but few of the president’s fans will acknowledge a more unsolvable problem. The president was not only facing tough questions for the first time in his political career, he was facing questions for which there simply is no good answer.
When Mitt Romney noted that Obama had promised to cut the federal deficit in half within four years but had instead doubled it, for instance, there was no disputing the factual basis of the complaint and no option but to offer excuses. The final debate will likely spare Obama the embarrassment of answering to that point again, as it is intended to deal exclusively with matters of foreign policy, but even hen the president will be hard-pressed to answer some of the questions that are sure to arise no matter the elevation of the site or who is helping out during the debate preparation.
The attack on the American embassy in Libya by Islamist mobs on Sept. 11, which resulted in the deaths of the ambassador and four other Americans, will raise several tricky questions.
It has now been widely reported, despite the reluctance of the press to disclose anything that reflects poorly on the administration, that the embassy in Libya had lax security despite repeated warnings that an attack was being planned. The president has thus far managed to avoid questioning about this infuriating fact, but it is unlikely he will be able to do so during the debates.
While he’s at it, Romney should also ask why the administration continues to lay the blame for the attack on an obscure low-budget video released months before the murderous riot when they had to know that it was, at most, a convenient pretext for a pre-planned attack motivated by anger over the country’s ongoing war against al Qaeda. It’s the sort of thing that the press would be eager to question a Republican administration about, but apparently it will take a presidential debate to force an answer from a Democrat.
As an adherent to a much-maligned religion himself, Romney might also ask why the president has been so exceedingly sensitive to the religious sensibilities of those who attacked our embassy and murdered our citizens, going so far as to imprison the aforementioned filmmaker and tell the United Nations that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” There have been no official scolding of the artists who immerse crosses in urine or depict Jesus Christ as a transvestite, or the so-called comedian and million dollar donor to the Obama who routinely ridicules Christianity, much less the producers of a hit Broadway musical that mocks Mormonism, so it would be useful to know why Islam is alone among the world’s religions in enjoying an exemption from the nation’s long tradition of free speech.
– Bud Norman
Modern liberalism constantly extols the virtue of tolerance, even to the point of insisting that the intolerable be tolerated, yet liberals nowadays seem a rather intolerant bunch.
It’s not just a liberal administration imprisoning a filmmaker for a low-budget video they found offensive, or a liberal reporter for a liberal network cheering them on, or a liberal professor imposing her political preferences on students, or a liberal protest group menacing a public figure into canceling a speech, or any of the numerous other incidents that have been documented by a reluctant press. More commonplace occurrences also abound, mostly unreported but not unnoticed.
Join in any friendly chat with a group of conservatives, for instance, and you’ll eventually confess their reluctance to post a Republican yard sign in front of their homes or slap a Republican bumper sticker on their cars for fear of vandalism. Their anecdotes are dismissed as right-wing paranoia by our liberal acquaintances, who insist that none of their kind could ever be capable of such rudeness and then tell us to shut the hell up, but we’ve long suspected that the stories are far too common and from too reliable sources for all of them to be false. Now the eagle-eyed folks at the invaluable twitchy.com web site, which scours the Twitter sites for “tweets” of interest, have helpfully documented that our friends aren’t so crazy after all.
The web site has noting found several messages from Mitt Romney supporters attesting that their cars and homes have indeed been vandalized, with one unhappy motorist offering photographic evidence, but also a disturbing number of “tweets” from people boasting of the Republican yard signs they have stolen and the Republican-stickered cars they have damaged. Someone going by name of “Mr.So Different” warns, with typical Twitter literacy, that “IF I C A MITT ROMNEY SIGN IN UR YARD PPL BUSINESSES I AM TEARING THEM DWN N STEALLING THEM.” Another fellow calling himself “ASAP LoLo” wrote that “Jade ripped this bumper sticker off this random car lmaooo,” then adds a typically profane postscript that does not bear repeating here. A Jeremy Cross boast “We steal Romney signs,” adds the same vulgarity, and post a message of himself and a friend proudly posing with proof of his thievery. Not to be outdone, a Brad Kreitzer posted a picture of himself urinating on a Romney. Similar messages run on for pages, most of them similarly foul, and there are more from people promising they will also commit the same petty offenses against anyone who expresses an opinion different from their own. Others merely wish a painful death on their political opponents.
What’s most disturbing about these messages is the brazen pride they express in their Brownshirt activities. A thorough search of the country might turn up an example of a car with an Obama sticker being vandalized, but whoever did it will not be boasting about it publicly in the expectation of applause from conservatives. All of these liberals publicizing their crimes are surely known to most of the friends and acquaintances they send these messages to, many don’t even bother to hide behind some internet alias, and none seem at all concerned that they will be scorned for such boorish and intolerant behavior. Indeed, they expect to be admired by their friends for harming a fellow citizen who expressed a dissenting opinion. In places such as Atlanta, they certainly needn’t fear the police, where a Romney bumper sticker earns a ticket.
– Bud Norman
Several of the world’s leaders addressed the United Nations this week, and it was a frightening spectacle.
The president of Iran delivered an eschatological rant about the coming return of both Jesus Christ and the Twelfth Imam, called for a new world order organized in opposition to the west, predicted that the Islamist uprising known as the “Arab spring” will spread across the globe, and later told reporters that Israel will eventually be “eliminated.” The newly-installed president of Egypt demanded that freedom of expression be restricted to prevent criticism of Islam, and the president of Yemen echoed the call. Continuing in a disconcertingly similar vein, the president of the United States went so far as to say that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
Obama went on to condemn the destruction of Christian churches and denial of the Holocaust, both of which are all-too-common forms of expression in the Middle East, and he also gave a brief defense of the first amendment to America’s constitution, which he noted is so permissive that it even allows for criticism of himself. Still, there was something unsettling about the specific deference to the prophet of Islam.
Along with some full-throated and harshly worded denunciations of the little-known home movie that the administration continues to blame for the outbreak of deadly rioting at American embassies around the world, the president’s concern for Islam’s reputation is clearly an attempt at placating a lunatic mob. Elsewhere the administration is now conceding the obvious fact that the deadly attack on the vulnerable American embassy in Libya was a long-planned terrorism attack that merely used the movie as a pretext, and the past weeks of thumbs-down reviews of the movie have not stopped the demonstrations, but the president’s faith in the power of appeasement apparently remains strong.
Even if the violence could be quelled by the submissive silence of all Americans, it would not be nearly worth the price. Better men that Barack Obama have fought and died to protect the right to free speech, and more of them stand ready to do the same..
Obama is now careful to tout the American tradition of protecting the right of free expression, but his words will surely ring hollow to the man who made that much-maligned movie, now residing behind bars after the administration found his work “reprehensible and disgusting.” Officially the filmmaker is being held for a violation of his probation on a charge of bank fraud, which reportedly forbade him to post anything on the internet, but the notion that his imprisonment has nothing to do with the administration’s desire to demonstrate its respect for the religious sensibilities of the howling mob is as far-fetched as the notion that numerous spontaneous riots against the months-old movie just happened to break out on the eleventh of September.
– Bud Norman
The scene was reminiscent of those paranoid dystopian futurist movies that were so popular back in the Nixon era. A small army of brown-shirted government agents launch a midnight raid on an obscure filmmaker whose work has been deemed “reprehensible and disgusting” by the administration, hauling him off for questioning under the flimsiest of legal pretexts.
This actually happened on Saturday in Cerritos, California, where a man involved in the making of the suddenly infamous “Innocence of Muslims” film — which has been widely blamed for the murderous riots sweeping the Middle East — was taken from his home by sheriff’s officers at the behest of the federal government. The stated reason was a possible violation of the man’s probation on a charge of bank fraud, the terms of which reportedly forbid him to post anything on the internet, but in reality the man was being offered as a scapegoat to appease the mobs.
The White House continues to insist on the absurd fiction that the ongoing raucous protests outside American embassies throughout the world, which resulted in the death of an ambassador and four others in Libya, are solely the result of a spontaneous outrage over an amateurish and previously little-seen film. Never mind that the Libyan government has confirmed that the attack in their country was long planned by al Qaida as a retaliation for American strikes against their terror network, or the plentiful evidence that the attacks were coordinated, or that the chances of such a spontaneous uprising occurring on Sept. 11 are only one in 365 and that the chances of several such events happening several places on that significant date increase exponentially, we are assured that the Muslim world has no quarrel with an America led by Barack Obama.
If the only reason for the violence and threats is an amateurish film that had previously languished in well-deserved obscurity, then the administration apparently believes that it can make the problem go away simply by appeasing the mobs’ thirst for retribution against a man who had dared to criticize their religion. Mankind’s long history with mobs suggests they are not so easily placated, however, and even a cursory glance at the past 1,400 years or so will reveal that Islamist mobs especially difficult to satisfy. The usual result of appeasement efforts is an ever-expanding list of demands that cannot be met without submission to the mobs’ medieval religious views. Even if the mob’s could mollified by abandoning the First Amendment, it is not nearly worth the price.
The administration’s brazen attempt at censorship is all the more galling because it is cloaked in language about religious tolerance and respect for the religious sensibilities of others. The same administration that forces the Catholic Church to hand out contraceptives, that sat silently as mayors from its own party told a Baptist business owner that he was not allowed to work in his city without keeping his religion’s views about same-sex marriage to himself, and which happily and silently accepts the donations and propaganda support of an entertainment industry that routinely ridicules mainstream Christianity, now presumes to lecture this extraordinarily tolerant country about respect for religion.
– Bud Norman
We have no opinion regarding Chick-fil-A’s sandwiches, as we haven’t had one in many years and have long since forgotten whether we liked them or not. The company opened a franchise in Wichita last year that proved so popular it has created a traffic problem for the neighborhood, but it’s way over on the east side and we’re content with the store-bought chicken we grill on the backyard barbecue.
Still, we stand foursquare for the company’s right to sell its product, its customers’ right to purchase them, and the right of the company’s ownership to publicly express whatever political opinions they might hold. This strike us as an all-American position consistent with a belief in such fundamental human rights as freedom of speech, but the Mayor of Boston apparently disagrees. He has said that Chick-fil-A has no right to do business in his city because the company’s president has stated his opposition to same-sex marriage.
“You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino told The Boston Herald. “We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”
Apparently Boston is not so inclusive that it can tolerate the presence of the 50 percent or so of the American population that shares the Chick-fil-A president’s opinion on the subject of same-sex marriage nor any of the numerous major world religious that hold to the same view. Not content with such an incoherent statement, the mayor went on to say that a proposed Chick-fil-A is especially offensive because it will be located near the Freedom Trail, as if the founding fathers would be so put off by a company’s opposition to same-sex marriage that they would gladly revise the First Amendment.
Sadly, such intolerance is becoming a common feature of modern liberalism. The same leftist tradition that once prided itself on its opposition to McCarthyism — that dark era of American history when citizens were denied the right to make a living because of their political opinions — now routinely attempts to deny citizens the right to make a living because of their political opinions. Some leftists will likely reply that McCarthy’s victims were merely advocating a totalitarian dictatorship, while the definition of marriage that has been the standard in most societies for the past many millennia is now beyond the bounds of civilized discourse, but we find the argument unconvincing.
The left’s McCarthyite tendency seems to be especially prevalent among the pro-same-sex-marriage crowd, which has sought to punish everyone from beauty queens to department stores for their heretical views. A Chicago alderman is also attempting to use the power of government to block a new Chick-fil-A restaurant, and some of his constituents are planning to harass the customers at another location in the city with a “kiss-in.” This is ironic, given that advocates for homosexuality invariably think themselves at the vanguard of the defense of freedom, but despite their reputation for irony they’ll likely never notice. Same-sex marriage is by no means the only issue where the left seeks to silence its opponents, rather than go through the chore of refuting their arguments in the court of public opinion, and as the political debates inevitably become more rancorous the left will likely step up its assault on free speech rights.
– Bud Norman
Being ever vigilant about the right to free speech, our eyes were drawn to two particular stories in the news this week.
One involves the veteran rock ‘n’ roll guitarist Ted Nugent, whose name ordinarily would not appear in this space. Although we still enjoy a recording of “Baby, Please Don’t Go” that he made way back in his days with the Amboy Dukes, a band whose performances at the Orpheum Theater in the early ‘70s left many of our classmates prematurely deaf, we’re not huge fans.
An avid outdoorsman and one of the few outspokenly conservative performers in the rock ‘n’ roll field, Nugent gave a rather fiery speech last weekend at a meeting of the National Rifle Association. In a long rant about the Obama administration, Nugent went so far as to say “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off,” and he predicted that he would soon be “dead or in jail” if Obama were re-elected.
There’s no denying that the language about chopping heads off was overwrought, as one might expect from the self-proclaimed “Motor City Wild Man,” but the prediction he offered seems a little less paranoid after Nugent received a visit from the Secret Service. No arrest was made nor any charges filed, and Nugent later described the interrogation as a “good, solid, professional meeting concluding that I have never made any threats of violence toward anyone,” but there’s still something unsettling about the news that an American citizen is forced to explain his public remarks to law enforcement officials. Perhaps it was just a hyper-sensitivity to threats on the part of the Secret Service, which is no doubt eager to demonstrate that it’s doing something other than consorting with prostitutes, but we suspect that if it had happened to one of the countless entertainers that made similarly outrageous statements during the Bush administration it would be considered a deliberate attempt to deter criticism.
Far more frightening was the speech given Thursday by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, wherein she endorsed amending the First Amendment to allow for regulation of political speech. Still fuming about the Citizens United decision that upheld the free speech rights of people who have joined together as corporations, Pelosi said her party has “a clear agenda in this regard: Disclose, reform the system reducing the role of money in campaigns, and amend the Constitution to rid it of this ability for special interests to use secret, unlimited, huge amounts of money flowing to campaigns.”
– Bud Norman