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Judicial Watch • YOUR Freedom of Speech is Under Attack

YOUR Freedom of Speech is Under Attack

YOUR Freedom of Speech is Under Attack

JANUARY 14, 2011

January 14, 2011

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Free Speech for Conservatives Under Attack

You remember this quip from former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel during the financial crisis? “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Emanuel told The Wall Street Journal. Well look no further than the horrible shooting in Tucson, Arizona, to see this craven philosophy in action once again.

We are all horrified that the mentally disturbed individual named Jared Loughner opened fire at an event in Tucson, Arizona, last Saturday murdering six innocent people and leaving an additional 14 wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). (As of the writing of this Update, Rep. Giffords has thankfully begun to breathe on her own, and is evidently on the road to recovery. Our thoughts go out to Rep. Giffords and the other victims and their families. Judicial Watch takes special note of the murder that day of Judge John Roll, who by all accounts, was a fine American and jurist. He was killed in the line of duty, as he allegedly was visiting Giffords that day in order to express his concern about his court’s being overwhelmed by illegal immigration cases.)

Rep. Giffords is a politician, that’s true. But there was nothing overtly political about this shooting spree. Loughner had a long history of erratic and bizarre behavior. His rantings on the Internet indicate Loughner had a deeply troubled mind, but there was nothing to suggest the 22-year-old was making any rational political statements with his murderous attack. Sadly, he seemed to be in the grip of severe mental illness.

Mentally disturbed individuals do contact Judicial Watch with lunatic ideas and allegations. These individuals want us to do something about their thoughts being controlled by the CIA or about their thoughts being monitored by chips implanted in their bodies. My guess is that public officials receive similar calls all of the time. Most normal people would not see these obviously afflicted individuals as liberals or conservatives.

But the fact that Loughner’s motive was not political in nature did not stop liberals from seizing upon this “crisis” to bash conservatives and advance their own anti-freedom agenda.

While the nation was still grieving over the Tucson shootings, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders immediately fired off a fundraising appeal referencing the “tragedy in Arizona” and asking supporters to send money to help Sanders fight “right wing reactionaries.” (Sanders also took a shot at the Tea Party for good measure.) David Brock, of the left-wing organization Media Matters, instructed News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch to “rein in” or “fire” Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, who, in Brock’s mind, were somehow responsible for the Tucson shooting spree. The nation’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, stoked the flames further by suggesting that Loughner acted on his “political views.”

Liberal “Independent” Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee took the rhetoric a step further, announcing that he “intends to ban state employees from spending their state work time talking on talk radio.”

Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, “right wing reactionaries,” talk radio: Do you see where this is heading?

If not, I’ll let Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) spell it out for you. In an interview with the Columbia Post Dispatch, Clyburn explicitly used the shooting to make a new push for the Fairness Doctrine: “The shooting is cause for the country to rethink parameters on free speech,” Clyburn said from his office, just blocks from the South Carolina Statehouse. He wants standards put in place to guarantee balanced media coverage with a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, in addition to calling upon elected officials and media pundits to use “better judgment.”

Let me cut through Clyburn’s rhetoric and tell you what he means by “rethink the parameters of free speech.” What he means is no more free speech for conservatives. Period.

I watched Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) this week on MSNBC ominously use the word “incitement” to describe criticism of President Obama. I’m sure you’ve seen many other leading liberals blame conservatives for “incitement” in relation to the Tucson murders. These liberals don’t need to say, because it necessarily follows, that one can get arrested for such “incitement.”

It doesn’t matter that Loughner had no significant political links — conservative or liberal. (One of Loughner’s high school friends, Zach Osler, told ABC’s Good Morning America, “He did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn’t listen to political radio. He didn’t take sides. He wasn’t on the left. He wasn’t on the right.”)

What matters to liberals is that they see an opportunity in this “crisis” to shape public perception and manipulate public opinion. That is straight out of Rahm Emanuel’s playbook.

The financial “crisis” yielded a government takeover of our nation’s financial sector. The healthcare “crisis” yielded a government takeover of our nation’s healthcare system.

What do you think liberals are going to do with this new “civility” crisis? They’d be happy to stage a government takeover of our nation’s media institutions so they can “adjust the parameters of free speech.”

You should take what Sarah Palin and others call the “blood libel” of conservatives seriously.

Another liberal politician wants to make illegal any words or symbols that can be interpreted as threatening a federal official.

I’m sure you’ve seen many a liberal politician or media figure over the last week saying that calling a politician “socialist” is out of bounds. Or that saying a government policy — such as Obamacare is “job-killing” — is incitement. Or that criticism of Big Government is responsible for any act of violence by a deranged individual who thinks his mind (and grammar) is controlled by the government. The logic of this leftist argument suggests that they (or the government) decide what in politics gets said and how it is said.

Too many in Washington think that not only are they above the law, but above any criticism.

Don’t be fooled by any calls for “civility” by President Obama, his leftist political allies, or even Establishment-types in the Republican Party. The Left thinks it is necessarily uncivil to challenge the corruption endemic to Washington, DC. Calls for civility are a polite way of saying conservative critics of Washington should “shut up.” And too many liberals suggested this week that conservatives “shut up” or go to jail.

Your Judicial Watch will not back down in the face of this intimidation. Nor should you. You can be sure we will monitor, expose, and fight attempts by the Left to use the levers of government to trample our free speech rights in the wake of the Tucson attack.

Welcome to Obamacare Rationing

There is an old saying in politics that “personnel is policy.” And so when President Obama named “Death Panel Donald” Berwick to serve as his Medicare/Medicaid Czar, the writing was on the wall. Healthcare rationing is on the way. And probably soon, given that right now Berwick’s term is set to expire at the end of 2011.

Berwick has little time to implement his radical policies. And he’s apparently wasting no time.

On January 3, we filed a lawsuit against the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding a controversial decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to undertake a one-year review of the prostate cancer treatment Provenge to determine if the treatment is “reasonable and necessary” and should therefore be reimbursed.

(You better get used to that phrase “reasonable and necessary.” We’re going to begin hearing that a lot from the bureaucrats running Obamacare now that they’re in charge of who gets treatment and under what circumstances.)

Provenge, the first ever therapeutic vaccine cancer treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is shown to have extended life spans by an average of four months in clinical trials with few side effects. It costs $93,000 to administer the three necessary treatments.

But the cost of the treatment shouldn’t matter, at least so far as the approval process is concerned. Medicare and the FDA are legally prohibited from denying approval of a medical treatment based on cost. However, multiple press reports suggest that cost is the major factor in the unusual decision by CMS to undertake a review of the treatment which could signal a move by the Obama administration to begin implementing healthcare rationing based on the cost of treatments. In typical Orwellian fashion, the government wants to run health care, but not actually pay for it. The conservative solution is to rein in the government’s responsibility for providing health care. The liberal solution is to have unaccountable government bureaucrats ration care to control costs. And, if it means that a prostate cancer patient dies four months before his time, so be it. That is the price of “progress.”

Our original FOIA request, filed on November 9, 2010, seeks the following information: “All records concerning CMS’s national coverage analysis of the vaccine Provenge, including but not limited to the criteria being used to analyze Provenge.”

Health and Human Services was required by law to respond to Judicial Watch’s request by December 15, 2010. However, to date, the stonewalling Obama agency has failed to provide any documents or indicate why documents should be withheld. Nor has it indicated when a response is forthcoming.

As I pointed out after Obama installed Berwick as head of Medicare/Medicaid Czar, the former Harvard professor is unapologetic about his support for rationing healthcare based on cost. Check out what Berwick said in a June 2009 interview with Biotechnology Healthcare: “The social budget is limited — we have a limited resource pool. It makes terribly good sense to at least know the price of an added benefit, and at some point we might say nationally, regionally, or locally that we wish we could afford it, but we can’t… The decision is not whether or not we will ration care, the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

You may recall that owing to the controversy surrounding Berwick’s statements, President Obama bypassed Senate confirmation and made Berwick a “recess appointment,” a decision criticized by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. (That’s why Berwick’s term is set to expire at the end of this year.) And now that he’s there, all we’re getting is stonewalling from CMS.

The Obama administration claims there is no merit to the charge that the Provenge decision is the first step in implementing healthcare rationing. So why not release these records? What does the Obama administration have to hide?
Provenge is an FDA approved drug that has a proven track record and the Obama administration has no legal right to deny funding for this treatment based on its cost. But the American people are right to be concerned about this Provenge review, given the fact that a man dubbed “Death Panel Donald” Berwick is in charge of Medicare and Medicaid.

ACORN Official Sentenced

This week brought a measure of accountability to one former ACORN official convicted of election fraud. According to The Daily Caller:

“A Las Vegas judge has spared senior ACORN executive Amy Adele Busefink jail time for her role in a notorious voter fraud conspiracy.

“Judge Donald Mosley sentenced Busefink to two years imprisonment but suspended the jail time provided that she abides by the terms of her probation. She was also fined a total of $4,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Prosecutors had argued for a fine of just $1,000. Voter fraud, sometimes called electoral fraud, is a blanket term encompassing a host of election-related improprieties.”

“[E]lection related improprieties” doesn’t quite capture it. Busefink ran ACORN’s corrupt 2008 voter registration drive that produced 400,000 bogus registrations. How did she do it? By overseeing a bonus program called “Blackjack” or “21” where ACORN paid canvassers extra cash for producing over 20 voter registrations. According to the original official complaint filed in May 2009, as ACORN’s Regional Director for Voter Registration, Busefink “did aid, abet, counsel, encourage, hire, command, induce or procure ACORN to commit the crime of Compensation for Registration of Voters.”

The Daily Caller called the sentence “relatively stiff,” but she should have been jailed.

As you know, if you’ve been reading this space for some time, this is hardly the only incident of voter registration fraud with ACORN’s name all over it.

In fact, back in June 2010, we obtained documents from the FBI related to the 2007 investigation and arrest of eight ACORN workers from St. Louis, Missouri for violation of election laws and voter fraud.

The documents include handwritten notes from FBI investigators interviewing canvassers working with Project Vote, an ACORN affiliate that counts President Obama himself as one of its former workers. (Project Vote, by the way, “still operates out of ACORN’s offices in Washington, DC, according to The Daily Caller.) You can read the highlights here. But this is one of the tidbits we found most interesting: “ACORN HQ is wkg [working] for the Democratic Party.”

And in March 2010, Judicial Watch obtained a separate batch of FBI documents detailing federal investigations into alleged ACORN corruption and voter registration fraud in Connecticut. The FBI and Department of Justice initiated investigations. However, the Obama Justice Department, while noting that ACORN had engaged in “questionable hiring and training practices,” closed down the investigation in March 2009, claiming ACORN broke no laws.

Read the documents here and you’ll see for yourself how far the Obama Justice Department had to stretch to let ACORN off the hook.

ACORN is now rebranded and splintered into hundreds of smaller entities all across the country, but the “new and improved version” is still up to its same old corrupt practices. Project Vote, the ACORN front group, is still going strong. You can pop on over to its web site (http://www.projectvote.org) to monitor its activities directly.

According to a recent report by the Inspector General for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, one ACORN offshoot “housing” group “cannot properly account for how it has spent millions of federal dollars and recommends that the group repay the government and be put on standby mode until it cleans up its act.” The IG recommended that HUD suspend all grants to the organization, but only temporarily.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder continues to sit on his hands.

No surprises there. The Obama Justice Department shows no inclination to investigate ACORN. That’s why Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, stated recently that Holder ought to get serious about investigating ACORN, which he deemed a “criminal enterprise,” or step down.

I would go further and suggest that it is well past time to “Dump Holder.”

It’s time for true accountability for ACORN. Slap on the wrist fines and community service for massive voter registration fraud will not dissuade ACORN workers from continuing their corrupt activities. The integrity of our nation’s elections is at stake.

Until next week…


Tom Fitton
President

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