Bureaucracy v. Liberty
THE INTIMIDATION GAME
How the Left is
Silencing Free Speech
by Kimberley Strassel
I grew up in a Liberal environment, where free speech was treasured. We lived by the phrase, I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, which Wikipedia attributes to Evelyn Beatrice Hall, not Voltaire. Now those who call themselves Liberals or Progressives have abandoned free speech in favour of political correctitude. The Democratic Party ironically, considering the name, are the major offenders. This practice has been well documented, as in The Silencing by Kirsten Powers. But the infractions she catalogues are mostly by students and pundits.
Ms. Strassel reports on scandalous violations of First Amendment rights encouraged and excused by the current Administration, beginning with attacks on the Tea Party movement. Rather than banning coalitions which opposed much of the Obama agenda, the IRS cheated them out of tax-exempt status, which limited groupss fund-raising ability, including access to grants. What is supposed to be, and has been, a routine application became a protracted procedure lasting years, disabling groups until after an election where they were making a difference. The IRS never denied the applications, just put them in limbo, violating their own rules.
Contrary to the Presidents pronouncement that there was not a scintilla of evidence of abuse, the author documents outrageous demands from the IRS under the direction of Lois Lerner, the political operative who refused to testify about her activities and was never prosecuted by the Department of Justice [sic] (DOJ), which supported the IRS crimes. It is well documented that the IRS was unresponsive to Congress and every other generator of accountability, again contravening its own rules and the law, while making unprecedented demands on groups seeking 501(c)(4) status.
Although no evidence has been uncovered linking him to the crimes, Barack Obama was up to his ears in this scandal, encouraging and shielding those bureaucrats and political appointees who towed his line.
The battle cry of Democrats, particularly Obama, has been to overturn the Citizens United decision [Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission] that supposedly permitted more unaccountable money going into politics, claiming they want transparency for contributors. [Imagine this President calling for transparency. The mind boggles.] Various federal departments acquired contributor information, often when they had no right to it, then illegally shared it with other departments and even non-government political groups. Why? To coerce companies and individuals into not giving. In other words, using intimidation to silence their opponents.
Remember that Democrats do not demand transparency from unions and other groups (environmental extremists, for example) that support them. Their only concern is with opposing groups. Im not just making an assertion, facts in the book back me up.
Ms. Strassel documents the history of anonymous speech in this country, predating the Constitution. The Supreme Court has validated this right, but Left-wing activists whine about it constantly, when theyre not warning of the imminent end of civilization from climate variations.
The book provides a thorough account of behind-the-scenes Democratic Party intimidation used to silence opponents, in what can only be termed a conspiracy to stifle opposition. [See the recent WikiLeaks from the DNC on sabotaging Sanders.]
The Tea Party had an impact on the 2012 election, far less in the 2014 election. Turns out they were being tied up by the government. Not just the IRS, but other alphabet agencies, like EPA, DOL, any bureaucracies that could intimidate participants, most of whom owned small businesses or formed tiny groups of nascent political activists. No one was too small to silence.
Despite Congressional hearings that uncovered the organised harassment, Strassel reports that still the administration is just as determined to use [the IRS] to target its political opponents. Nobody has been held accountable. That bodes poorly for the 2016 election. Although the House Ways and Means Committee outlined reasons why Lois Lerner should be prosecuted, the Justice Department never responded before closing its investigation in October 2015. Sound familiar?
Think the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is bipartisan? The book makes the case that FEC staff are biased against anyone who is opposed to more regulations, so they tip the scales for Democrats. We know they fear independents, going to any extreme to shut them out.
The Intimidation Game is over 376 pages long. If you are upset when you learn of government abuses, and interference in our rights, reading this book will infuriate you well before you finish reading it. Not only does Strassel document incidents that were well-publicized, if you follow the news, she delves deep into the corruption endemic to the Obama White House.
Apparently, this is her first book, although Strassel is known for her weekly Potomac Watch column in the Wall Street Journal, that is always intelligent and insightful. Her style is concise and incisive, making this serious study a page-turner. I couldnt put it down.
©2016 GT Slade