The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech, by Kimberly Strassel (Twelve Press, 396 pp., $30)
Fred Siegel writes:
…Strassel’s chapters on the politicization of the IRS in Obama’s hands make for a striking summary of Chicago skullduggery. In 2012, an election year, the IRS, led by liberal operative Lois Lerner, systematically sidelined conservative (often Tea Party) organizations. The broadest and deepest scandal in IRS history is more than three years old, but there is little chance that Obama’s Chicago-ized Justice Department will hold anyone accountable. Strassel also discusses the attempts led by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Dick Durbin of Illinois to criminalize criticism of the standard-issue UN position on climate change. The senators insist that manmade climate change is a matter of “settled science.” But climate is always changing, and science is never settled.
In late 2008, after Democrats took control of all three branches of government, the Left realized, writes Strassel, that it could use the federal bureaucracy to deploy campaign finance laws selectively against its opponents. The Left could also call upon “the extraordinary new power of the Internet and social media” to convince “a credulous public” that its assaults on opposition political activity “were aimed at ‘cleaner’ and ‘more open’ elections.” This dynamic constitutes what Strassel calls “the modern intimidation game” that “now defines American politics.”
[Read the full review here, at City Journal]
In Wisconsin, Democrats enraged by Governor Scott Walker’s successful effort to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees played the intimidation game even while out of power. The state’s Progressive-era laws, designed to ensure fair elections, and its unique Government Accountability Board were turned against conservative activists who supported Walker. Democratic Party county prosecutors pressed an array of lawsuits and used armed sheriffs’ deputies to stage early-morning raids, guns drawn, on the homes of conservative activists suspected of having marginally violated state campaign finance laws—in this case, the heinous crime of having outside committees coordinate campaign expenditures with Governor Walker’s electoral efforts. Further, the accused were forbidden by state law of telling anyone, except their lawyers, about the raids. Most of this, as Strassel accurately notes, was “simple harassment.”
As for real wrongdoing, the Obama administration, as Strassel explains, has slow-walked documents required for the investigation into the IRS scandals and the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious fiasco, in which the federal government inadvertently armed Mexican drug cartels. Moreover, the House committee examining the Benghazi debacle still doesn’t have tens of thousands of Hillary Clinton emails. But the investigation did inadvertently expose the former secretary of state’s home-brewed email server. Read the rest of this entry »
DRUDGE Readers Completely Misunderstood Poll Question ‘Who Won 2nd GOP Debate?’, Answered ‘Who Is Your Favorite Candidate?’Posted: September 16, 2015
MADISON (WITI/AP) — Gov. Scott Walker is using his inaugural address to tout his record in Wisconsin, and draw a contrast with the federal government, as he considers a run for president.
Walker said in his inaugural speech Monday that the nation’s founders looked to states, not the federal government, as the source of hope for the country. He says, “We will not let them down.”
Walker also says that “in contrast to the politicians along the Potomac, we get things done here in the Badger State.”
Walker also says in his speech that he is dedicated to reducing the size of government and building the needed infrastructure to support a thriving economy.
Below are Governor Walker’s complete remarks:
Today, I thank God for His grace; for the privilege of living in such a remarkable country; and for growing up in the greatest state in the nation. As the son of a small town pastor and a part-time secretary in Delavan, it is quite an honor to serve as your Governor. Thank you for that cherished opportunity.
I want to thank my family: Tonette—who is my rock and an amazing First Lady; our sons, Matt and Alex—who have done an outstanding job serving as our masters of ceremony here today; my parents, Llew and Pat Walker—who always set a powerful example of how to serve others; my brother, David, sister-in-law, Maria, and their girls, Isabella and Eva; and to all of my other family members—I am grateful for all of your tremendous love and devotion.
Thanks go out to all who are participants in our ceremony today. I am particularly grateful to the members of the 132nd Army Band and all of the other members of the Wisconsin National Guard—not only for your services today, but for the ongoing support of our many brave men and women who are deployed even as we speak. Our prayers go out to each and every one of you.
And a special thank you as well to all of our outstanding veterans who served our country so faithfully. We salute you.
And thank you to all of the people across Wisconsin who have offered your support and prayers to my family. We are so very grateful. Read the rest of this entry »
The Gangsters of Election 2014: The Paramilitary Arm of Wisconsin Progressive Democrats’ Campaign to Defeat Scott WalkerPosted: October 25, 2014
The Nastiest Political Tactic this Year
The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.
“Such misbehavior takes a toll on something that already is in short supply: belief in government’s legitimacy.”
Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place. This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility.
From the progressivism of Robert La Follette to the conservatism of Gov. Scott Walker (R) today, Wisconsin has been fertile soil for conviction politics. Today, the state’s senators are the very conservative Ron Johnson (R)and the very liberal Tammy Baldwin (D). Now, however, Wisconsin, which to its chagrin produced Sen. Joe McCarthy (R), has been embarrassed by Milwaukee County’s Democratic district attorney, John Chisholm.
“Chisholm’s aim — to have a chilling effect on conservative speech — has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation.”
He has used Wisconsin’s uniquely odious “John Doe” process to launch sweeping and virtually unsupervised investigations while imposing gag orders to prevent investigated people from defending themselves or rebutting politically motivated leaks.
According to several published reports, Chisholm told subordinates that his wife, a teachers union shop steward at her school, is anguished by her detestation of Walker’s restrictions on government employee unions, so Chisholm considers it his duty to help defeat Walker.
In collaboration with Wisconsin’s misbegotten Government Accountability Board, which exists to regulate political speech, Chisholm has misinterpreted Wisconsin campaign law in a way that looks willful. He has done so to justify a “John Doe” process that has searched for evidence of “coordination” between Walker’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups. Read the rest of this entry »
Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere Gambles His Sanity on a 4000-word Article About Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Predictable FlameoutPosted: September 17, 2014
She’s become a liability to the Democratic National Committee, and even to her own prospects, critics say
This news isn’t surprising, to anyone but hard-core Wasserman supporters (they must exist, somewhere, not counting her immediate family) but what is surprising is that Edward-Isaac Dovere could actually write (or Politico would publish) a 4000 word article about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, without achieving spontaneous composition, acute nausea and raging headaches, or having the urge to hurl the keyboard out the window, and then follow it, head first. Though, to be fair, perhaps it’s premature to suggest Dovere gambled his sanity.
Third-rate Palace Intrigue involving a failed administration and its loyal-but-doomed messengers is like black-tie Shakespearean drama for the insider class. In Washington D.C., surviving an assignment like this can get you promoted. If there’s a national journalism award for sheer endurance, Dovere should be nominated for the newly-minted “Debbie Wasserman Schultz” award.
If Politico thinks this merits a New Yorker-length expose (4000 words, yes, really) who are we to disagree? it’s not written for readers, mind you, but for other media people and fellow insiders. However, if you have an appetite for democratic party politics exceeding that of even the most seasoned Democratic party operatives, you can find the whole ungodly thing here.
Democrats turn on Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Edward-Isaac Dovere writes: Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a behind-the-scenes struggle with the White House, congressional Democrats and Washington insiders who have lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most.
“I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s not that she’s losing a duel anywhere, it’s that she seems to keep shooting herself in the foot before she even gets the gun out of the holster.”
Long-simmering doubts about her have reached a peak after two recent public flubs: criticizing the White House’s handling of the border crisis and comparing the tea party to wife beaters. [See Walker gives ‘back of his hand’]
“One example that sources point to as particularly troubling: Wasserman Schultz repeatedly trying to get the DNC to cover the costs of her wardrobe.”
The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.
She’s become a liability to the DNC, and even to her own prospects, critics say.
“The Obama team was so serious about replacing her after 2012 that they found a replacement candidate to back before deciding against it, according to people familiar with those discussions.”
“I guess the best way to describe it is, it’s not that she’s losing a duel anywhere, it’s that she seems to keep shooting herself in the foot before she even gets the gun out of the holster,” said John Morgan, a major donor in Wasserman Schultz’s home state of Florida.
“Obama and Wasserman Schultz have rarely even talked since 2011. They don’t meet about strategy or messaging. They don’t talk much on the phone.”
The stakes are high. Wasserman Schultz is a high-profile national figure who helped raise millions of dollars and served as a Democratic messenger to female voters during a presidential election in which Obama needed to exploit the gender gap to win, but November’s already difficult midterms are looming. Read the rest of this entry »
A First Amendment Education
The selective investigation of the political speech of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker‘s allies goes to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals next week, and with any luck the judges will vindicate a district court’s preliminary injunction that has shut down the probe. They should do so before the November election because this unconstitutional exercise is being exploited by Mr. Walker’s enemies to defeat him.
“Neither collaboration among independent groups nor communication between independent groups and a political campaign is illegal. On the contrary, it is speech protected by the First Amendment.
The latest media misinformation concerns emails that show Mr. Walker raised money for the Wisconsin Club for Growth. But raising money for Super Pacs and 501(c) groups is routine political behavior, as President Obama and Harry Reid routinely demonstrate.
“The prosecution brings to mind the abuses against the late Ted Stevens, who was convicted of corruption in office only weeks before an election because prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence. In Wisconsin the prosecution has used a secret probe and selective leaks to make legal fund-raising appear illegal.”
Prosecutors pursuing Mr. Walker have been pushing a theory of campaign-finance law that the state’s own campaign finance regulator, the Government Accountability Board, has admitted is unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedent. The theory has also been rejected by the Seventh Circuit and by two judges in the Walker probe.
You’d never guess any of this from reading the anti-Walker press. Legal activity is made to look nefarious with loose references to terms like “coordination” that have precise definitions for what qualifies as political advocacy under the law. Read the rest of this entry »
“Scott Walker Has Given Women the Back of His Hand.”
“What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.”
The Journal-Sentinel quoted her as saying. Wasserman “Domestic Abuse Slander” Schultz was apparently criticizing Walker for blocking a 2012 employment discrimination bill that would have benefited plaintiffs’ attorneys, and for opposing a minimum wage hike.
[BOOKS] George F. Will on Scott Walker’s ‘Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge’Posted: November 30, 2013
Milwaukee — In 2011, tens of thousands of government employees and others, enraged by Governor Scott Walker’s determination to break the ruinously expensive and paralyzing grip that government workers’ unions had on Wisconsin, took over the capitol building in Madison. With chanting, screaming and singing supplemented by bullhorns, bagpipes and drum circles, their cacophony shook the building that the squalor of their occupation made malodorous. They spat on Republican legislators and urinated on Walker’s office door. They shouted, “This is what democracy looks like!”
When they and Democratic legislators failed to prevent passage of Act 10, they tried to defeat — with a scurrilous smear campaign that backfired — an elected state Supreme Court justice. They hoped that changing the court’s composition would get Walker’s reforms overturned. When this failed, they tried to capture the state Senate by recalling six Republican senators. When this failed, they tried to recall Walker. On the night that failed — he won with a larger margin than he had received when elected 19 months earlier — he resisted the temptation to proclaim, “This is what democracy looks like!”
Walker recounts these events in Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge. Most books by incumbent politicians are not worth the paper they never should have been written on. If, however, enough voters read Walker’s nonfiction thriller, it will make him a — perhaps the — leading candidate for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
Intimidation: Homes Raided, Subpoenas Issued Targeting Conservative Groups and Allies of Scott WalkerPosted: November 19, 2013
Joe Schoffstall writes: In Wisconsin, dozens of conservative groups and allies of Gov. Scott Walker are undergoing political intimidation from the left at the hands of a special prosecutor.
Subpoenas have been issued demanding correspondence and donor information of right-leaning organizations and individuals and raids have been conducted resulting in law enforcement officers taking computers and files in a secret investigation, according to reports.
“In recent weeks, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz has hit dozens of conservative groups with subpoenas demanding documents related to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns to recall Governor Walker and state legislative leaders,” the Wall Street Journal writes.
It continues, “Copies of two subpoenas we’ve seen demand ‘all memoranda, email . . . correspondence, and communications’ both internally and between the subpoena target and some 29 conservative groups, including Wisconsin and national nonprofits, political vendors and party committees. The groups include the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Americans for Prosperity—Wisconsin, American Crossroads, the Republican Governors Association, Friends of Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin.”
The WSJ says the latest actions are taking place under Wisconsin’s John Doe law, which makes it difficult for the groups involved to defend themselves publicly. Read the rest of this entry »
This morning on ABC News ‘This Week’, panelist Gwen Ifill summarizes Obama’s Press Conference admission thusly: ‘We Know What’s Good for You. We Just Don’t Know How To Do It’. I laughed out loud. It was an unexpectedly insightful indictment.
Gwen nailed the reality of of modern Big-Government incompetence. The doomed vision of liberal-progressive do-gooder-expert government solutions couldn’t have been crystalized better.
The multiple face-kicks and tabloid-style analysis of the president “falling on his sword’ at last week’s press conference made the Nov. 16th edition of ‘This Week’ unusually rich viewing.
I don’t have the video and the transcript isn’t up yet, but if you get a chance to see the next airing of ‘This Week’: Presidency in Crisis – ABC News, it’s time well spent. Also featured is a memorable segment about the Gettysburg address, with Ken Burns, and an interview with Governor Scott Walker.
Voter ID didn’t reduce turnout, but the IRS may have.
The 2012 election season was filled with angry cries of voter suppression,â€ almost all of them regarding attempts by states to require voter ID and otherwise improve ballot integrity. Bill Clinton warned that “there has never been, in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting” the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.â€ Democratic-party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said â€œphoto-ID laws, we think, are very similar to a poll tax.
All of this proved to be twaddle. An August 2012 Washington Post poll showed nearly two-thirds of African-Americans and Hispanics backing photo ID. The Census Bureau has found that the rate of voter turnout for blacks exceeded that of whites for the first time in the 2012 election.
But it now turns out there may have suppression of the vote after all. â€œIt looks like a lot of tea-party groups were less active or never got off the ground because of the IRS actions, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker told me. Sure seems like people were discouraged by it.
Indeed, several conservative groups I talked with said they were directly impacted by having their non-profit status delayed by either IRS inaction or burdensome and intrusive questioning. At least two donors told me they didn’t contribute to True the Vote, a group formed to combat voter fraud, because after three years of waiting the group still didn’t have its status granted at the time of the 2012 election. (While many of the targeted tea-party groups were seeking to become 501(c)(4)s, donations to which are not tax-deductible, True the Vote sought to become a 501(c)(3).) This week, True the Vote sued the IRS in federal court, asking a judge to enjoin the agency from targeting anyone in the future.
Cleta Mitchell, True the Vote’s lawyer, says we’ll never know just how much political activity was curtailed by the IRS targeting. She has one client who wanted to promote reading of the Constitution, but who didn’t even hear back from the IRS for three years – until last Monday, when the IRS informed this client that some questions would be sent.
“I was about to file with the IRS when other tea-party groups started to get harassed,” Pennsylvania activist Jennifer Stefano told Time magazine. “I remember checking with the IRS to see if they wanted the group [Facebook] page or my personal page, and they said ‘All of it.’”
The IRS claims that all of the delays and information demands were rooted in mere mismanagement and misjudgment, a stance that began to look even shakier yesterday when Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS’s exempt-organization division, took the Fifth Amendment before a House committee.