Monday, January 27, 2014

Censorship by "Example"

Dinesh D'Souza, the prominent conservative writer, has been arrested and indicted on trumped-up Federal Election Law charges.


Just as Leona Helmsley was charged and tried for tax evasion, and Wall Street maverick Michael Milken was charged and indicted for "racketeering," political enemies can be quashed by fiat law. They were back-stabbed by the envious and the disgruntled. D'Souza has been targeted for punishment for having criticized the Obama administration in the least flattering terms. Just as opponents of Hitler's régime were crushed, not principally by Nazi-legislated laws, but by laws passed during the Weimar Republic, President Barack Obama is resorting to laws passed long before anyone had ever heard of him. The one this time is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which amended the 1971Federal Campaign Act.

It's all perfectly "legal," you see. Obama has simply put on the brass-weighted gloves that Congress had already prepared for him.

D'Souza was often in the limelight, having written controversial books critical of Obama's policies, and having made one relatively successful political film ("2016: Obama's America") and will debut another next July

To qualify for having a brass glove knock one's jaw to the back of one's cranium, to invite the wrath of such Nazi or Stalinist persecution, one must be a "name," a celebrity, in the public eye, a non-submissive personality who eschews political correctness and has never exhibited signs of unreserved esteem for an establishment more and more governed by the fiat laws that emanate daily from Washington D.C. In this instance, D'Souza allegedly flouted federal campaign finance laws. He contributed to the war chest of a local candidate whom he happened to have known during her campaign.

I am not a fan of D'Souza, first, because he is of the Christian right, and also because he claims that Islam, a totalitarian ideology, can be "tamed" in the name of religious tolerance, when it is inherently the most intolerant creed in existence. However, my differences with D'Souza are not the subject here. I have no power and no desire to silence him.

The federal government has both.

The Washington Post reported on January 24th:

Conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of violating campaign finance laws in contributions to a Senate candidate.

D’Souza was charged with making $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions to an unnamed candidate, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

In 2012, D’Souza reimbursed people who he had told to contribute amounts totaling $20,000 to a candidate’s campaign, according to the indictment. The candidate was not named in the indictment.

In 2012, D’Souza supported Wendy Long, New York’s Republican candidate for the Senate. Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand won re-election. New York elections records show D’Souza donated to Long’s campaign in 2012.

D’Souza is also charged with causing false statements to be made to the FEC, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Federal law during the time his contributions were made allowed individual campaign contributions up to a total of $5,000.

You know this is a trumped-up charge because so many politicians are guilty of the same offenses, including Obama, whose own campaign finances, which deserve scrutiny especially in light of suspected massive illegal foreign contributions to both his presidential campaigns, yet escape the noose for political reasons because they are not considered serious enemies (most Republicans) or because they are "friends" of the White House and of the Left.

 Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer in his January 27th FrontPage column, "The D'Souza Arrest: Obama Adopts the Stalinist Style," wrote that while he and D'Souza "locked horns" over, among other things, the latter's charge of "Islamophobia" against Spencer, D'Souza's indictment represents a new level of political persecution of the Left's opponents.

Arresting prominent members of the opposition is the kind of behavior we have seen from the likes of Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler; it is a hallmark of authoritarianism, not (until now) of politics in the United States. Of course, Stalin and Hitler didn't stop with arresting their foes; they had them murdered as well, usually after a show trial. Obama is not doing that, but is even one step down this road one that Americans want to take?

Perhaps Spencer has forgotten the fate of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the Coptic filmmaker whose YouTube video trailer of "The Innocence of Muslims," was blamed for the September 11th, 2012 attacks in Benghazi in which four Americans were killed. He remains in jail, without bail. Even the jihadists who participated in that attack deny that the film had anything to do with the assult. If that isn't incarceration for political reasons, I don’t know what is.  

Helmsley's offense was that nobody liked her, and that she was billing her husband's real estate company for personal expenses. Well, that's the byzantine, thousand-page tax law at work. Before enactment of the 16th Amendment, I'm sure countless individuals, likeable or not, conducted their business the same way and it was no one's business but their own. The government couldn't hold their feet to the fire over it.

Michael Milken's offense was that he was a successful pioneer of a new field of finance which ran afoul of federal "racketeering" law and the ambitions of Rudolph Giuliani, U.S. Attorney for the Soutehrn District of New York, to make a name for himself. Craig Roberts, writing for Business Week in 1995, noted:

Milken was a victim of his success. His financing strategy, which focused on future performance rather than past results, enabled upstart companies and those with weak credit histories to go through reorganizations that made them major players. Although Milken himself did not organize hostile takeovers, junk bonds made them possible, thus exposing the underperforming corporate Establishment to pink slips. Corporate fear and hatred, together with Wall Street's envy of the tremendous profitability of Drexel Burnham Lambert's high-yield bond division, created a lynch mob.

Paul Craig Roberts, writing on Lewis Rockwell about Milken and Giuliani in 2008, quotes Giuliani boasting of his method:

Giuliani once bragged that by giving negative treatment to his targets, "the media does the job for me." Giuliani certainly had no difficulty manipulating Wall Street Journal reporters James B. Stewart, Daniel Hertzberg and Laurie Cohen or The Predators’ Ball author Connie Bruck. Milken, who had done nothing except make a lot of money by proving Wall Street wrong about non-investment grade bonds, was branded the "Cosa Nostra of the securities world."

Milken’s attorneys concluded that Giuliani, lacking any case, was far out on a limb and desperate for a face-saving plea. They worked out a plea to six minor technical offenses that had never carried any prison time. But Giuliani was determined to have his victim, and Milken was double-crossed by sentencing judge, Kimba "Bimbo" Wood, and spent two years of his life in prison.

I have yet to hear any outraged leftist call for Obama being charged under those same racketeering laws for all his failed green energy and solar programs, generously funded by the federal government.

D'Souza's offense is that he violated more fiat law, and because he has rubbed Obama the wrong way too many times with his best-selling books and in film. A hypothetical Pew Poll comparing Obama's plunging popularity numbers to D'Souza's steady ones would leave Obama eating D'Souza's dust. He is being made an "example" of. Obama is saying: "Here is what is going to happen to you if you incur my anger and contribute in any way to my plummeting popularity. You are going to pay."  

D'Souza's bail at $500,000 is considerably higher than that set for definable criminals. The Blaze listed a number of violent crimes whose perpetrators' bail was set far less than that of non-violent criminal Dinesh D'Souza. These include rape, robbery, combinations of rape and robbery, and attempted murder.

And what were D'Souza's offenses? Of violating the wholly arbitrary contribution amounts allowed to an individual by the campaign finance law to state, district, and local party committees during a federal election cycle, which is now $10,000. D'Souza exceeded that amount, and further, donated more via "straw donors" to the campaign of Wendy Long, who was running for Hillary Clinton's vacated New York U.S. Senate seat (she lost to a Marxist). Why just $10,000? Why just $5,000? Why not $10, or $10 million? Why not just a nickel or twenty grand? These are the consequences of Congressional numerology tables and crystal ball reading. They are policed by the Federal Election Commission.  The numbers have no basis in reality.

D'Souza's indictment is probably good news for Obama's political pal, Bill Ayers, who was scheduled to debate D'Souza at Dartmouth College this Thursday, January 30, on the subject, "What's so Great About America?" The event, writes Meghan Pierce of the Union Leader:

Before his arrest, conservative political commentator and author Dinesh D'Souza was scheduled to debate 60s-era antiwar activist Bill Ayers at Dartmouth College on Thursday.

The event headlined "What's So Great About America?" is being promoted as "the ultimate fight between left and right."

…"We're actually unsure about that at this moment," said Stuart A. Allan, president of The Dartmouth Review.

Allan said his office has reached out to D'Souza to find out if his schedule has changed because of his arrest, but has not yet heard back from him.

Personally, I would not deign to debate an aging Marxist like Ayers, or a Marxist of any age. While Bill Clinton has earned the sobriquet "Slick Willy," Ayers can be dubbed "Slick Billy."  He is too adept at weaseling his way out of tight argumentative corners.  But Ayers, who planted bombs in order to kill people, must be breathing a sigh of relief that he might not be debating a guy who planted ideational bombs that can kill no one.

America is joining that roster of rogue régimes that persecute, incarcerate, and make an "example" of anyone dissenting against a government's oppressive policies. These "examples" are meant to frighten average Americans into mechanical obedience, submission and deference to arbitrary authority. The message of these "examples" is: Say or write anything nasty but true about anyone wielding fiat power, and you will probably be frog-walked in cuffs to jail and to penury. Is it worth the trouble for the sake of uttering the truth?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Studied" Censorship

Stealth treason by usurping the Constitution. Stealth surrender to Iran. Stealth indoctrination of children in schools. Stealth fascism. Stealth amnesty. Stealth wealth distribution. Stealth health care.

Stealth censorship. It's all of a piece in the name of domestic tranquility. Its feasibility must be "studied." The nation must be made "safe" from provocative words.  If that means shutting up anyone who offends with his words, and preventing projected or hypothetical or imaginary violence, so be it.

It won’t be called "censorship." It will be called the enforcement of "responsible speech." "Irresponsible" speech must be codified into the criminal law and punished.

It is uncommon knowledge – I say uncommon because not everyone is anchored to reality – that when the government begins to "study" a problem, it usually leads to legislation to control or eradicate the problem. The government studied the meat-packing industry, and wound up regulating it. The government studied farm prices, and decided they needed to be "stabilized" with subsidies. The government studied cars, and wound up regulating them. The government studied smoking, and wound up regulating it. The government studied nutrition, and wound up regulating it. The government has studied climate change, and wishes it could regulate it. The government studied birds, bees, trees, and rocks, and wound up regulating or at least protecting them.

I can't think of a thing or human action the government hasn't studied and not wound up regulating, protecting, or even prohibiting it.

The problem of "hate speech" has been something the government has been "studying" for a long time. Now thirteen Democrats are proposing that it be "studied" even more, and have introduced a bill in the House that would lead to the creation of a special committee charged with coming up with the right solution.  An a priori, or a foregone, politically correct conclusion. One can't decide if it's part and parcel of a conspiracy, or just the natural progress of statism with blinkered politicians at the wheel steering us on a course over the cliff of no return.

The modus operandi of American style fascism is not to goose-step its way into your life in time with an umpapa band, but to quietly sneak up on you in a pair of Nike Forging Iron basketball shoes and, in this instance, slip a gag over your mouth. The irony is that you paid for those shoes. The thirteen politicians are not the mouthpieces or poodles of an Argentine junta you didn't elect. And if you resist, you won’t be secreted away in an Argentinean made Ford Falcon. You will be tossed ever so gently into a General Motors-made SWAT-mobile. Or, if that's a scenario that our Platonic guardians want to avoid lest it scare Americans into open revolt, you'll simply be run ragged in court or sued until you cry uncle or poverty.

On January 16th, Pete Kasperowicz reported on The Hill in his article, "13 House Democrats offer bill demanding government study on Internet hate speech":

Thirteen House Democrats have proposed legislation that would require the government to study hate speech on the Internet, mobile phones and television and radio.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and 12 other House Democrats, would look at how those media are used to "advocate and encourage violent acts and the commission of crimes of hate."

"Hate speech," of course, is any speech that any politician, advocacy group, or speech-sensitive group or tribe deems it to be. It could be a scholarly book or paper on Islam, or colloquial mockery of gays or bearded ladies, or chitchat about Barack Obama's lousy golf scores, or even images transmitted to or sent from one's mobile phone from an article published somewhere on the Internet.

Jeffries says the NTIA needs to see how hate speech is transmitted over the various new modes of communication that have sprung up over the last two decades.

"The Internet is a wonderful vehicle for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship," he said. "But it can also be used as a platform to promote hate and target vulnerable individuals.

"This legislation will mandate a comprehensive analysis of criminal and hateful activity on the Internet that occurs outside of the zone of the First Amendment protection."

His legislation requires the NTIA to update its report to examine how the Internet and mobile phones can be used to encourage and commit hate crimes based on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation.

What are "vulnerable individuals"? They are any group of people, as Moonbattery reports, that qualifies as a "protected" group, or a politically favored one, like bald eagles or snail darters or Joshua trees. Or Muslims. The Internet is a wonderful thing, concedes Jeffries. But it should be controlled so that wildfires of violence are not lit by speech that targets those groups. "Hate speech," after all, can incite "hate crimes," or even be treated as a "hate crime" itself. "Hate speech," you see, has the same metaphysical properties as real bullets, bricks, and bombs. Words can wound, injure, or maim, or cause feelings of inadequacy and a theft of self-esteem. "Irresponsible" speech poses the same danger as arson.

Doubtless, that "comprehensive analysis" of what is said or shown on the Internet will cover everything from the Duck Dynasty to lascivious asides on "Two and a Half Men."

Representative Jeffries will help the committee to decide which "hate crimes" are sparked by which kinds of "hate speech" against the race, gender, religion and sexual orientations of their collective choice. If the bill passes, it will be called the Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014. Read it here and weep. Or fight it.

What is outside the "zone of First Amendment protection"? It used to be simple-to-grasp concepts like slander and libel. However, the "zone" has grown with the appetite of The Blob, while the First Amendment has been whittled away to a pathetic shadow of its once formidable self. Now the "zone" can include anything the government wishes to be in it, because the immeasurable feelings of the potentially offended trump individual rights and freedom of speech.

Caveat: The next time you hear a Congressman propose that a "problem" be studied in order to find a solution, know that he hasn't your freedom in mind and that the solution will likely be a further tightening of the noose around your neck, your wallet, and your future.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Postscript to "Lawrence of Arabia"

I neglected to mention in "'Lawrence of Arabia': A Reappraisal" French composer Maurice Jarre's incomparable score to "Lawrence of Arabia," one which is closest to what we would call classical composition. Jarre composed the scores to many other notable (not necessarily good) films, including "Dr.Zhivago," "A Passage to India," and "Witness." He also composed the score to the Islamic version of a Biblical epic, "Mohammad, Messenger of God" (1976), financed by the Saudis and the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Anthony Quinn also appears in this puff piece as Mohammad's "Frank Nitti" enforcer, Hamza. No one plays Mohammad. There isn't even a voice-over, because that would've been in violation of the Islamic rule of never portraying the "prophet" in any form whatsoever. Moustapha Akkad, the director/producer, also appropriately produced the seemingly endless "Halloween" horror movies, and another Anthony Quinn vehicle, "Lion of the Desert."

Not so ironically, Akkad, a "Zionist conspiracy to take over the world" believer, was killed by a Muslim suicide-bomber in Jordan in 2005. When he was killed, he was in the process of producing another Islamic epic, this one about Saladin, to star Sean Connery. About that project, Akkad said,

"Saladin exactly portrays Islam. Right now, Islam is portrayed as a terrorist religion. Because a few terrorists are Muslims, the whole religion has that image. If there ever was a religious war full of terror, it was the Crusades. But you can't blame Christianity because a few adventurers did this. That's my message."

Well, because a relatively few Nazis killed a few people, should Nazism earn a negative image? Or Communism? Or even Progressivism? Hollywood was co-opted by Islam decades ago, just as it was co-opted by the Left decades earlier. It explains why, in one respect, there have been no films critical of Islam, only a handful excoriating the U.S., or about terrorists in the form of neo-Nazis or madmen or space aliens or "right wing" conspirators.

I can picture Connery soft-pedaling the character of Saladin, who in fact was a brutal Muslim demagogue with a taste for beheadings, just as he soft-pedaled the character of the Berber brigand Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli in "The Wind and the Lion" (1975).

I think Noël Coward's 1943 lyrics capture the politically correct lunacy of our times very nicely: 

When our victory is ultimately won,
It was just those nasty Nazis who persuaded them to fight
And their Beethoven and Bach are really far worse than their bite
Let's be meek to them
And turn the other cheek to them
And try to bring out their latent sense of fun.
Let's give them full air parity
And treat the rats with charity,
But don't let's be beastly to the Hun.

Coward was a "Naziphobe," you see. He ought to have been arrested and dragged into court and charged with blaspheming Hitler, defaming Nazism, and provoking Nazi violence. He also denigrated "excessive humanitarians" and their assurances that Islam really is a "religion of peace."