Wednesday, October 21, 2009

No More Freedom of the Press?

Unfortunately, much of my "blogging" these days takes place on Facebook (under Ed Hanks), and so it doesn't appear here. But every once in a while a fascinating discussion comes along which deserves to be here too. Here's one about Obama and Freedom of the Press, along with some commentary, and my response.

I then posted a link to an article about how the White House Communications Director was "explaining" (bragging) that Obama's press office "controlled" the media.

Now, as a former Speechwriter and Press Secretary, I'm very well aware that this is the ideal goal of any press secretary -- to "control" what the media says about their candidate or official. But I felt this went a step too far.

A man named David Guenthner, a former reporter and longtime PR professional who's currently Director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, responded. I hope he doesn't mind my hijacking his words -- they WERE posted on MY Facebook page, so I feel entitled. Besides, in the thread of comments I ended up agreeing with him, to a large degree, and he posted that he agreed with me. So this is more education than debate, fueled by two PR hands...

David's Comment:
This is much ado about very little. What's discussed as "control" in the headline and the quote is actually message discipline. If you're in a prominent enough position where you have reporters dedicated to covering you (e.g., president or governor), it is your job to put your guy and your story of the day in the news to the greatest extent possible. Limiting access and the number of people authorized to speak on behalf of the administration or the campaign is an appropriate tactic -- and can be effective unless it is overused.

My Response:

David, you're a PR professional, and so you know what you're talking about. I've been a PR professional too, and I understand exactly what you mean, and I agree so far as that goes.

But Obama has crossed a line, and camped out there, where no one before has had the nerve or disregard of press freedom to camp. Clinton did use this tactic to great effect at times, but only for limited projects or periods of time. The press wouldn't let him get away with it. The fact that Helen Thomas (of ALL people!) identified and expressed shock at the Obama Administration's behavior is a sign that it's not business as usual -- not normal political hardball, but a crossing of the Rubicon -- because it's become policy.

Obama's Administration has determined that anyone who doesn't cooperate gets locked out. The press is already half-willing to let this happen. They're addicted. If they don't have that constant hourly news-feed, they can't feed the people. So they're at Obama's mercy, to a point. Obama's feeling his way with this, and if we allow him to get away with it, there is a serious possibility it could morph into a de facto loss of freedom of the press. State control of the mass media, even if there's no way they can control alternative or web media.

But just wait... Obama's reputed to be working on ways to control web media, too! And conservative radio! And if he has those, he's got mass media AND alternative media under state control. Very dangerous, even if it seems "natural" to trained media professionals like you and me who've become inured to hardball politics.


Then, David posted this thoughtful link to a Newsbusters story:

A great exchange, all around!

EDIT (additional thoughts from me, on this point):

I'm reminded of how things have changed in the Senate, with regard to court appointments.

Time was, the President's nominees to the federal bench, Supreme Court or otherwise, received 100 out of 100 votes. To see otherwise was an exception to the rule.

The way they were to be judged was on the basis of whether they were qualified. Whether or not the senator agreed with the nominee on political issues was NOT to be the basis for determining a yes or no vote. That just wasn't done, as the court was meant to be non-factional and non-partisan (though that was a polite fiction, starting even from the early days of the Republic).

With the most obvious exception of Felix Frankfurter, I believe, in FDR's time, this was the way the Senate operated up until about Pres. Reagan's time (if there are previous signal examples, I'm not aware of them). It was then, with nominees like Bork and Thomas, when the Democrats first inserted political aims into the nomination process, and they've kept it up ever since (and the Republicans have joined in, after the fact, though to hear the media talk the Republicans started it).

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I don't think the non-partisan process did Republicans any good. Look at O'Connor, and the fact that 90% of GOP appointees to the federal bench are pro-abortion, and not very conservative in any respect. I believe judges should be chosen not because they are "qualified" (i.e. can apply precedent and follow process -- that's a system that has ill served champions of justice and truth), but because they have the courage to choose rightly what will serve justice. But that's beside the point for this discussion.

I mention this example here simply because it's analogous -- this was "standard ethical practice" in government, up until someone was willing to violate the process and insert politics into a supposedly non-political system. Obama has now taken this same step in his relationship to the news media. "Pay to Play" so to speak.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Lesser of Two Evils

If someone, say, in Denver (Democrat territory) votes for a Republican, have they "wasted their vote"? That can't be our definition -- voting for someone who has no chance of winning -- or a republic instead becomes a tyranny of the majority. We waste our vote anytime we vote for someone who believes things that we know to be unconscionable, simply because "the other guy" is more unconscionable. The lesser of two evils is still evil.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Who Passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

In that same issue of the Front Range Rampart, I published a surprising expose' about the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- things that I looked up in the Congressional Record and saw with my own eyes that directly contradicted everything my professors and high school teachers had taught about that legislation!

• In 1964, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, 258-177 in the House, and 67-33 in the Senate. The House passed the Civil Rights Act 290-130, and the Senate passed it 73-27. [I think where I was going here is to prove that at least some Republicans voted for it, since there were more votes than the total number of Democrats -- the next facts, though, emphasize just how FEW of the votes were from Democrats!]

• 48 % – nearly half – of the total votes in favor of the Act in the House were from Republicans

• More than a third of the Democrats voted “no” – a far higher proportion than for Republicans

• Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen was the driving force behind successful passage.

• Approximately 80 % of Republicans in each house voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act

• Approximately 75 % of the total votes against the Civil Rights Act in both houses were cast by Democrats

• Nearly 100 House Democrats voted against the Act

• Some supporters of interest:
Rep. Don Rumsfeld (R-IL)
Rep. Bob Dole (R-KS)
Rep. Gerald Ford (R-MI)
Rep. Robert Taft Jr. (R-OH)
Sen. Gordon Allott (R-CO)
Sen. Peter Dominick (R-CO)

Interview With a Black Republican - Arniter Jamison (2005)

Today on Facebook, I posted a quote -- part of a pro-life campaign for the month of March. I just placed the quote for today in my "status" on Facebook. And people from both sides (I have alot of conservative and alot of liberal activists as "friends" on Facebook) started bickering about it. It caused a little bit of a firestorm.

The quote was this: Abortion has affected the Black community more than slavery itself. If the current trend continues, by 2038 the Black vote will be insignificant. -Abort73

Now, I thought that was a little strong when I first saw it. But I thought about it. The Right to Life is more important than the Right to Freedom -- without life, you have neither. Black slaves in America had a positive population growth even after the slave trade ended, which means that more Blacks were being born in America than were dying. Considering that 50 million Americans have died since 1967 from abortion, and most of those were Black, it becomes an easy realization -- American Blacks have been more deeply impacted by abortion than by slavery.

So, as part of my response to the firestorm (I'm exaggerating -- most of the feedback was in favor of the quote, from pro-lifers, but some people challenged my right to speak on the issue (that's what liberals do -- I respect your right to state your opinion, but I don't think you should say things like that!)) I'm going to reprint here an interview I published in my newspaper, The Front Range Rampart. By some coincidence, this issue of the newspaper was published exactly 4 years ago -- March 4, 2005.

Arniter Jamison is a longtime friend of mine and my wife's. My wife is Black, and we became members of the Colorado Black Republican Forum (CBRF). Arniter Jamison is a strong woman who once marched in civil rights events with CORE and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and who today pursues the same basic mission of freedom and liberty and equality as Communications Director for the Colorado Black Republican Forum.

Interview: Arniter Jamison

Communications Director, Colorado Black Republicans
(reprinted from the March 4, 2005 edition of the Front Range Rampart)

by Ed Hanks

As a child, Arniter Jamison grew up in the South – a girl with dark skin in a world controlled by whites. But you couldn’t keep her spirit down. She was there, standing up for herself and her people, at diner counters in segregated St. Louis. And today she’s still standing up for herself and her people… as a Republican activist and PR director for the Colorado Black Republicans.

“I believe in the foundational principles of the Republican Party,” she says, “which is a platform for righteousness. I believe that the public policy and platform of the Republican Party offers the best opportunity for my people to overcome the socioeconomic handicaps that have been perpetrated on them over the years. And I believe in the Republican foundational position of creating an environment that develops and allows people to become the best that they can be.”

“That environment, I believe, is best not only for my people but for all American people.”

Jamison’s parents were Republicans, like most blacks were back then. Her mother was a nurse. Her father fought with General Patton’s “Red Ball Express” in World War II, and later in Korea and Vietnam. “My Dad used to explain to his daughter that she was not a Democrat. That there was no way she could be black and be a Democrat!”

But that wasn’t the direction black youth were moving. The popular perception was that Democrats were for the poor people, and for minorities. Jamison says President Roosevelt’s New Deal had begun the change, from 80 or 90 percent black registration as Republicans, to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, which wedded black culture to the Democrats.

“As a child I was a civil rights activist. As a very young, young, young girl, I joined the Congress of Racial Equality which you all call CORE. And I sat in restaurant sit-ins and got thrown out. And I marched in the protest marches.”

“That’s when the blacks switched,” she said. “The younger ones. The older ones still maintained because they understood the history of the relationship between the Republicans and the black community.”

She went on to describe two histories of both political parties, one which is taught as Gospel truth today, and the other which was obscured in her day, and is almost buried today – contradicted by the media and in most history texts and classrooms.

In what Jamison says was not a racist move, but a purely political calculation, some Republicans in the 1960s reached out to southern Democrats – the “Dixiecrats.” It won the Presidency for Richard Nixon in 1968. But she says except for that, the Republican Party has always been the obvious place for African-Americans, though that wasn’t always clear back then. “Democrats did good job of painting all Republicans as racists.”

She added, with obvious bitterness, “The Democrats are very good at using emotional issues to get an emotional response from black people. They use intimidation and fear, which is what they’ve always done, even during the 19th century. They used intimidation and fear to control and intimidate black people.”

Historically, Jamison says Republicans – not Democrats – have been the friend of black Americans. The anti-slavery movement was almost exclusively Republican – was, in fact, a major reason the Party came to exist – and was deeply rooted in the principles of the Party. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, issued the Emancipation Proclamation. “When blacks were freed, they became Republicans.”

Jamison herself graduated from Lincoln University – named after the president – one of many land grant colleges founded by Republicans. “All those colleges and universities were started by white Republicans. Most of them are named after white Republicans, because of the financials and insistence on creating them.”

“Republicans were responsible for Affirmative Action. Republicans were responsible for implementing the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]. Kennedy never implemented it – Nixon did.”

And when, in 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, Jamison says it only happened because of the dogged efforts of Republicans. “It was the Republicans who pushed the law through, and insisted on it. And Democrats fought it.”

Jamison’s claim is contrary to everything students are taught in public school, but it is only necessary to go to the source – the 1964 Congressional Records – to look it up. Some very interesting findings from those records can be found on page 12 [of the Front Range Rampart - posted here - basically, it was Republicans who passed the Civil Rights Act, and most of the votes against it were from Democrat congressmen].

And, while Jamison was emphatic about the helpful nature of the Republican Party in the fight for civil rights, she did not shy away from the dark, largely hidden history of the Democrats – the party that had usually opposed those Republican efforts.

“Most of the intimidation, and the Ku Klux Klan, which was an auxiliary of the Democratic Party – it was a terrorist arm of the Democratic Party – their job was to intimidate Republicans. Period. I know you don’t read about that!” she said. But it is a verifiable fact of history, proven by investigations and primary historical sources, such as the Ku Klux Klan membership oath.

“The blacks who were not Republicans did not receive the intimidation, and they were told, literally that if they’d change and vote Democrat, they’d let them live.”

Today’s Democrat Party is not the same one it was in the 1880s or 1930s, any more than today’s Republican Party is the same as it was in the 1960s. But Jamison says she can still identify vestiges of old Democrat Party thinking. “Now instead of using a rope, instead of physical control, they now use mental and emotional control. They use the Jesse Jacksons and the Al Sharptons and the Maxine Waters, and people of that ilk that keep that emotional fear permeating within the black community.”

And, instead of seeing a Democrat Party focused on improving public education, Jamison sees more than just benign neglect in the operation of the public schools liberals have created. She sees a dim reflection of southern Democrat policies prohibiting black children from reading. “Now what they do is they just don’t teach them to read, and it brings about the same result.”

But Jamison’s awareness of the true history of civil rights came only after she began to recognize problems with Democrat philosophy on her own. She remained a Democrat through the ‘60s and ‘70s. In 1976, she worked closely with Wellington Webb on Jimmy Carter’s presidential run. Soon after, she became disenchanted.

Jamison was impressed by Carter’s ideas to require able-bodied welfare recipients to find work or go to school. “I read his welfare program, and it was excellent. And I had sense enough to understand that as black people, we could never be independent as long as we were dependent. And I saw that proposal as an opportunity for uneducated blacks to get an education.”

“They crucified him,” she said. “The Democrats, not the Republicans. The Democrats crucified him because of his welfare reform. A lot of which you see being instituted today [2005] – he was way ahead of his time.”

“When I saw that, and then when the Democrats came up with this philosophy of the disadvantaged, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said. “You cannot teach people dependency, inadequacy and failure and expect for them to grow up successful, determined and self-sufficient. And that’s when I started seeing through the Democratic Party, and that’s when I became a Republican.”

She uses a well-known analogy. “You can either feed a man a fish, or you can teach him how to fish. And if you can teach him how to fish, then he becomes an independent, self-sufficient person. The Democrats’ policy is to feed you, so that you become dependent on them. And once you become dependent on a person, then that person becomes your father or your god, take your choice. And when you couple that with a lack of education, or inadequate, incomplete education, then you see how easy it is to control.”

Further, Jamison believes the public school system perpetuates dependency. “They teach children to rely on the government and tell children they have a right to feel good, and take away their bond with parents… de-educating, re-educating, and alienating the children from their parents’ values system.” She sees today’s public schools replacing the parents’ values with atheistic values, which only cements the childrens’ dependence on government and alienation from parents. “That’s why you see children in the streets killing each other, and having babies out of wedlock, and illicit sex.”

Jamison says she had been trusting the mainstream media and educational systems to guide her outlook on life, just as they do for most people. Gradually she came to recognize fundamental problems with liberal thought. “I got it.”

She found protection for all people from dependency and inadequate education in Republican philosophy. “Ronald Reagan was the first Republican candidate that I actually got out and worked for. And I had to fight with all my friends and relatives. Besides my Dad and Mom – they were so happy.”

And she says today’s Democrat Party isn’t recognizable as the party she and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. belonged to when she was young. There was no animosity against Christianity back then. There was a common morality for all Americans. “Even when people did wrong, they knew they were doing wrong. There was a choice… They understood there was a God. When our society lost that, and the Democratic Party embraced the immoral and amoral segment of our society, and began to promote the values of that segment of our society. That’s where it became impossible to be a Democrat anymore.”

Jamison sees a bright future ahead for black Americans, but there is a choice that must be made – a break with the past. “Until black people are allowed to be totally different, and unique and individualistic, we will never be free.”

And to acquire that freedom, Jamison says blacks must unbind themselves from the prejudice of mainstream media culture. She holds out a copy of Black Enterprise. “They don’t talk about the people that you read about in this magazine -- the black people who are extremely successful. We have black people who are heads of major corporations.” She names a few – AOL, Hewlett Packard, American Express, etc. “You don’t hear about the successful black people like Condoleeza Rice and Clarence Thomas. For some reason the culture, the media, have chosen to deify the lowest common denominator.”

And Jamison suggests that Affirmative Action has begun to work against the interests of black Americans. Its original, noble goal was to require that qualified candidates be evaluated on a level playing field. “The Democrats got in control, and they made it a quota system. And that’s where they destroyed it.”

“We have a much higher educated black population, so we have a much better chance of being able to compete for jobs on a fair and equitable basis. We don’t want people looking at us and saying, ‘Oh you just got that job because you were black.’ Who needs that? That’s the stigma.”

What would she most like to see change in the Republican Party? “White Republicans have adopted the definition of what a black person is – the definition that the Democrats have assigned to us… They do not see us [black Republicans] as being distinct and different from the average black Democrat.” Because of this, some Republicans assume black Republicans are more liberal in their outlook. “We’re the most conservative Republicans in the Republican Party!” Jamison says. “We’re pro-gun, we’re anti-abortion, we’re anti-gay marriage, we’re pro-school choice, we are voucher-pro. We also believe in faith-based initiatives. We don’t believe in quota systems for education systems, job systems or anything else. We believe in affirmative recruiting.”

About gun rights, she explains, “During the Reconstruction, and during ‘Jim Crow laws,’ we had the same gun control laws that they’re trying to put in place now, which meant blacks couldn’t own guns. And because blacks could not own guns, when the Ku Klux Klan came to intimidate them, they had no way of defending themselves. So the right to arms is a very strong plank for black Republicans.”

“One of my missions is to encourage, motivate, and revive white Republicans. Because I believe a lot of white Republicans have become ‘at ease in Zion.’ They have become comfortable because they are right. And they think that because they are right, they shouldn’t have to fight. And it’s not true. They’re playing tennis on the 40 yard line, and the Democrats are playing football.”

Summing up her political and philosophical journey, Jamison describes a journey of faith in God and one’s own abilities. “Democrats had a more aggressive plan for bringing equality to all people. I didn’t know that equality meant you’re as equal as I allow you to be. Whereas Republicans say, ‘Hey, Jack. God gave you the same brain he gave me, the same muscles, the same intuition. Just like I get out there and get it for myself, you get out there and get it for yourself. That’s equality.”