Plus ça change,

…plus c’est la même chose.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here is an excerpt from an Ayn Rand speech delivered live at the Ford Hall Forum on December 16, 1962. She’s talking about JFK’s ‘Camelot’ statism.

This bit speaks of Newton Minow, JFK’s Chair of the FCC. Who used primitive versions of the same screws the Feds applied to Facebook and Twitter on newspapers, radio, and television.

Formatting is a little funky. I don’t know why some of the hyphens are there. Maybe indicates a pause. It’s from a transcript

The Fascist New Frontier

“Freedom of speech means freedom from interference, suppression or punitive action by the government—and nothing else. It does not mean the right to demand the financial support or the material means to express your views at the expense of other men who may not wish to support you. Freedom of speech includes the freedom not to agree, not to listen and not to support one’s own antagonists. A “right” does not include the material implementation of that right by other men; it includes only the freedom to earn that implementation by one’s own effort. Private citizens cannot use physical force or coercion; they cannot-censor or suppress anyone’s views or publications. Only the government-can do so. And censorship is a concept that pertains only to governmental action.

Mr. Minow is trying to reverse that concept.

Mr. Minow has announced officially that any television or radio station which does not satisfy his unstated criterion of an unspecified “public service,” will lose its license, that is: will be silenced forever.

This, Mr. Minow claims, is not censorship. What is censorship, then? Believe it or not, censorship is a sponsor’s refusal to finance a television program, or a station’s refusal to broadcast a program, or a publisher’s refusal to publish a book—and it is the government’s duty to “protect” us from such infringements of our “freedom.”

Such is the “protection-racket” from the other side of the New Frontier:-the views, the ideas, the convictions, the choices of private individuals-on the use and disposal of their own material means—of their own property—are censorship. What, then, is non-censorship? Mr. Minow’s edicts.

This is a clear illustration of why human rights cannot exist without-property rights, and how the destruction of property rights leads to the destruction of all rights and all freedom. If the New Frontiersmen suc-ceed in obliterating in people’s minds the difference between economic-power and political power, between a private choice and a governmentorder, between intellectual persuasion and physical force—they can then establish the ultimate collectivist inversion: the claim that a private action is coercion, but a governmental action is freedom.

I should like to quote from an article I wrote on this subject in the March 1962 issue of The Objectivist Newsletter:
“It is true, as Mr. Minow assures us, that he does not propose to establish censorship; what he proposes is much worse. Censorship, in its old-fashioned meaning, is a government edict that forbids the discussion of some specific subjects or ideas—an edict enforced by the government’s scrutiny of all forms of communication prior to their public release. But for stifling the freedom of men’s minds the modern method is much more potent: it rests on the power of non-objective law; it neither forbids nor permits anything; it never defines or specifies; it merely delivers men’s lives, fortunes, careers, ambitions into the arbitrary power of a bureaucrat who can reward or punish at whim.”

In a recent issue of Barron’s magazine (December 10, 1962), you will find factual evidence to support and illustrate my statement. “Last week,” writes Barron’s, “the bureaucrat who uses words so well [Mr. Minow] for once was speechless. For the staff of FCC, taking their cue from their outspoken leader, had been caught sending letters of alarming frankness to television stations throughout the country. Unless-they proved properly receptive to the agency’s views on the content-and timing of programs, the message suggested, they might have trouble getting their licenses re-newed. . . . The magazine Broadcasting, which exposed the whole affair, bluntly called it ‘another step toward centralized program control’ and ‘blatant coercion.’”

Mr. Minow is not the only prominent member of the New Frontier’s border patrol; there is another, older one who has been waiting for many years for a frontier of just that kind.

On July 15, 1962, The N.Y. Times carried a story announcing that: “An Antitrust panel of the House Judiciary Committee is preparing a broad inquiry on the press and other news media.” The head of that inquiry is Representative Emanuel Celler.

“We are very much aware of the First Amendment,” Mr. Celler declared. “We are also aware that the courts have said you can distinguish between the business practices and the editorial operations of newspapers.”

Apparently, Mr. Celler regarded a declaration of his “awareness” as sufficient compliance with the Constitution—because he then proceeded to announce that the inquiry will deal with such (non-editorial?) issues as the “handling of news and the impact of syndicated columns on the gathering and presentation of local news.”

Mr. Celler will also investigate the fact that in some cities one man or company owns both the morning and evening newspapers. “We shall endeavor to find out,” he stated, “whether, in those cities, the news is slanted according to the prejudice or idiosyncrasies of those common owners; whether the editorial policy is consistently politically slanted.” (A non-editorial issue?)

Does this mean that the owner of a newspaper has no right to hold consistent political convictions and that a newspaper is not entitled to a consistent editorial policy? If the owner of one newspaper possesses the right of free speech, does he lose it if he acquires two newspapers? Who determines what is “slanted” and which political views are “prejudice or idiosyncrasies”? The government?

“Also,” declared Mr. Celler, “we are interested in seeing whether or to what extent the columnists might be drying up local talent in assaying the news of the day.”

Well, it is incontestably certain that the talents of the local “High School Bugle” could not possibly compete with nationally syndicated columnists.

Here we see the essence of the antitrust doctrines—in so grotesque a form that no satirist would venture to offer it as a caricature. Yet it is not a caricature, it is the naked, brutal truth.

If it is right to sacrifice ability to incompetence, or success to failure,- or achievement to envy—if it is right to break up giant industrial concerns because smaller companies cannot compete with them—then it is right to silence every man who has acquired a national audience and clear the field for those whose audience will never grow beyond the corner drugstore.

Rand, Ayn. The Ayn Rand Column (p. 118, ff). Ayn Rand Institute. Kindle Edition.

Hickory Tikory Tok

“The House ran out the clock…”

If it gets to the House, we can hope that’s what happens to Senate bill 686, the RESTRICT Act: Never put to a vote.

That bill is actually peripheral to this post, but is a perfect example of extending surveillance-state tentacles (which we’ll get to).

Ostensibly, the bill defends us against the CCP controlled TikTok spyware – beloved of goofy pre-teens and sinister trans-activists.

I also detest TikTok. Its CCP data gathering on our youth is unacceptable, and its transactivist influencer contingent is culturally corrosive. It should, at least, have age limitations applied to some of its more vile content, with solid parental locking capability. Knock, knock Jeffrey Marsh. We don’t have to respect you even a tiny bit. In fact, we despise you for your pride in being a groomer.

But the RESTRICT bill includes no such provisions; it is written without even reference to ““TikTok,” or parent company “ByteDance,” or even “social media.”” Much less the Chinese Communist Party. That mention could be problematic for Gretchen Whitmer, so I get why the bill can’t name China.

TikTok should be certainly be banned on government devices. In fact, any government employee so unaware of TikTok’s pedigree as to have it on their government device should be fired. It’s not like these people aren’t “woke”, of course they are, it’s that they’re not AWARE. But, ignorance is not only not an excuse, it’s a sign of national security cluelessness. Loose clicks sink ships.

Or, more commonsensically, all government devices could ALREADY be set up to prohibit TikTok installation and block any access to it. Do it by executive order, since it affects only employees – supposedly loyal.

However, there’s no surveillance-state advantage in something so simple.

The RESTRICT Act Would Restrict a Lot More Than TikTok

RESTRICT, as written, simply expands and cements the power of government to abrogate the First Amendment as described below.

We can’t shoot down a Chinese spy balloon while it’s actively, successfully spying, but we can extend state control over Americans watching their kids do silly dances on a Chinese spy app – which the government hasn’t absolutely banned on every device it owns.

—————————

The rest of this post offers links to some articles which may be too long for your interest. I post them even so because they describe, without hyperbole, an imminently serious threat to the Republic of the United States. Even if you don’t want to spend the time now, they may become a reference for you when you need to provide a Progressive you know with reasoned information about the danger to a way of life they don’t even understand as their own. I have a suggestion.

—————————
Who is doing anything about this?

Whether Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter will be successful is a question still in doubt for certain definitions of “success.” I’m looking at it as a defense of Enlightenment values, freedom of conscience being the foundational moral imperative.

I do not think the measure is whether it becomes a profitable business. Musk did not buy it for that reason.

I hope profitability eventuates, because we desperately need a continuing social media space not attached at the hip to, or gripped around the throat by, myriad US agencies forming alliances with private companies eager to subvert the First Amendment.

Significant Twitter personnel changes were a bare start in blunting the public-pirate (AKA fascist) alliance against free speech. More importantly, we have insight to the corruption from Musk’s release of internal documents (the “Twitter Files”) and source code algorithms.

The public’s glimpses into the early stages of the transformation of America from democracy to digital leviathan are the result of lawsuits and FOIAs—information that had to be pried from the security state—and one lucky fluke. If Elon Musk had not decided to purchase Twitter, many of the crucial details in the history of American politics in the Trump era would have remained secret, possibly forever.

That quote is from an important, sober – and sobering – recent history of America’s public/pirate surveillance state.

It’s also long, but if you want to better understand the stakes – and what I hope could eventually be Musk’s success – it is a must read. Incisive and insightful.
A Guide to Understanding the Hoax of the Century – Tablet Magazine
13000 words

Mentioned in the preceding article, a scathing in depth analysis from the Columbia Journalism Review of the mendacious “Russiagate” media coverage.
The press versus the president, parts one through 4
Part 1
6200 words
Part 2
6500 words
Part 3
4800 words
Part 4
8700 words

Running List of All Twitter Files Releases (summarized with links to detail)
? words

A note on Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn features in a couple of the links which will appear soon in a 14th Anniversary post for this blog, but I’m not waiting for February 19th to post this bit.

This Just In!
A Cockwomble Reaches for The Hockey Stick

Steyn could use your help defending himself, and the First Amendment, against both Michael “Hokeystick” Mann and Cary “Crazy” Katz.

Punitive lawfare is a preferred weapon of the anti-freedom-of-speech elite, and Steyn is at the forefront of these fights because he wouldn’t abase himself.  Under the US justice system, the process has become the punishment.

The Mann case has dragged on for 8 years.  Katz, who definitively lost a suit he initiated against Steyn (and refuses to pay up), is a very rich guy who… well you’d have to read about what an evil looter he is, and we don’t have space here.

Support Mark Steyn.  Buy a book, a mug, a t-shirt, a CD, or, better yet join The Mark Steyn Club.

His fight is your fight.

The Great Loyalty Oath Campaign

I oppose BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions – of and against Israel). It is conducted on behalf of lawless, racist tyrants against the Middle East’s only democratic government. Nonetheless, this strikes me as unconstitutional.

A Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath, Now Mandatory in Many States — so She Lost Her Job

It’s certainly repugnant.

I think the headline would be more accurate if it said “Refused to Abandon Her 1st Amendment Rights.”

A children’s speech pathologist who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she “does not” and “will not” engage in a boycott of Israel or “otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm” on that foreign nation…

[The oath] would bar Amawi not only from refraining from buying goods from companies located within Israel, but also from any Israeli companies operating in the occupied West Bank (“an Israeli-controlled territory”). The oath given to Amawi would also likely prohibit her even from advocating such a boycott given that such speech could be seen as “intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel.”…

The bill’s language is so sweeping that some victims of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Southwest Texas in late 2017, were told that they could only receive state disaster relief if they first signed a pledge never to boycott Israel…

This required certification about Israel was the only one in the contract sent to Amawi that pertained to political opinions and activism. There were no similar clauses relating to children (such as a vow not to advocate for pedophiles or child abusers)…

How is this different from legally compelling teachers to use made-up pronouns?

In order to obtain contracts in Texas, then, a citizen is free to denounce and work against the United States, to advocate for causes that directly harm American children, and even to support a boycott of particular U.S. states, such as was done in 2017 to North Carolina in protest of its anti-LGBT law. In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the U.S., or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel.

I’m reminded of Chapter 11 of Heller’s Catch-22. Captain Black conducts the Great Loyalty Oath campaign:

““The important thing is to keep them pledging,’ he explained to his cohorts. ‘It doesn’t matter whether they mean it or not. That’s why they make little kids pledge allegiance even before they know what “pledge” and “allegiance” mean.’ To Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren, the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a glorious pain in the ass, since it complicated their task of organizing the crews for each combat mission. Men were tied up all over the squadron signing, pledging and singing, and the missions took hours longer to get under way. Effective emergency action became impossible, but Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren were both too timid to raise any outcry against Captain Black, who scrupulously enforced each day the doctrine of ‘Continual Reaffirmation’ that he had originated, a doctrine designed to trap all those men who had become disloyal since the last time they had signed a loyalty oath the day before. It was Captain Black who came with advice to Captain Piltchard and Captain Wren as they pitched about in their bewildering predicament. He came with a delegation and advised them bluntly to make each man sign a loyalty oath before allowing him to fly on a combat mission.””

The First Amendment especially applies to speech you don’t like. I would agree that a speech pathologist’s duties should exclude political advocacy; but that is an HR matter, and not in evidence here.  It is not something to be applied to her personal shopping decisions or off-duty speech by state law.

Thanksgiving advice

You’ll find all kinds of advice on the web about how to avoid political arguments around the Thanksgiving table.  In the time of Trump and Antifa, that seems like an aid to calm digestion.

TOC, of course, is here to do the opposite:

“It is necessary for the welfare of society that genius should be privileged to utter sedition, to blaspheme, to outrage good taste, to corrupt the youthful mind, and generally to scandalize one’s uncles.”
― George Bernard Shaw

“The attempt to boil down fascism to ‘anything I don’t like’ is simply idiotic. Which is more fascist: Christina Hoff Sommers coming to speak about the lies of the feminist movement, or the people who are suggesting that they should actually be able to shut down her lecture by use of force?
That seems a little more fascist to me.”
― Ben Shapiro

“If we conceive of free speech as promoting the search for truth—as the metaphor of “the marketplace of ideas” suggests—we should be troubled whether that search is hindered by public officials or private citizens. The same is true of democratic justifications for free speech. If the point of free speech is to facilitate the open debate that is essential for self-rule, any measure that impairs that debate should give us pause, regardless of its source.”
― Thomas Healy

“Those who claim to be hurt by words must be led to expect nothing as compensation. Otherwise, once they learn they can get something by claiming to be hurt, they will go into the business of being offended.”
― Jonathan Rauch

“First, if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility. Secondly, though the silenced opinion be an error, it may, and very commonly does, contain a portion of the truth; and since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.”
― John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

“And what doe they tell us vainly of new opinions, when this very opinion of theirs, that none must be heard but whom they like, is the worst and newest opinion of all others, and is the chief cause why sects and schisms doe so much abound and true knowledge is kept at distance from us ; besides yet a greater danger which is in it.”
― John Milton, Areopagitica

Free speech is not just another value. It’s the foundation of Western civilization.
― Jordan Peterson

You certainly don’t have to go out of your way to start a fight, and remember to listen, but don’t let your relatives get away with shaming you into silence, whatever their political views.  It’s not a good habit to get into, and it teaches the wrong lesson about freedom of speech.

Update 1:35PM.  Here’s Jim Treacher with an example.

Update 9:37AM, Nov 22
Turn on your sarcasm detector:
Stop pretending you don’t love Thanksgiving
Now, turn it off:
Media advice

The most consequential American free-speech case in half-a-century

That is not hyperbole.

A few of those few who visit The Other Club may do so because we talk a lot about free speech. As the post title suggests, some are doing much more than that.

Consider joining the Mark Steyn Club.

 

Codependency

Senator John McCain tells NBC’s Chuck Todd we need:

[A] free and sometimes adversarial press. Without it, I’m afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started… They get started by suppressing the free press… I’m not saying President Trump is trying to be a dictator, I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.

Classic. “I’m not saying this thing I just said.”

Well, sometimes dictators get started by co-opting the press. Sometimes the press sycophants enlist themselves. The press is free to print what it wants; but if it becomes immune to criticism that’s when it becomes the enemy, and when it acts like a hive mind, that’s when the possibility of dictatorship emerges.

We all remember the fiery outrage Senator McCain expressed when former President Obama wiretapped the Associated Press in 2013. We can never forget his impassioned speech when Fox News’ James Rosen was on Obama’s DOJ enemies list.

Well… No. We can’t remember outrage that was never expressed, nor can we forget something that never happened. Donald Trump called the press “the enemy of the American people” in a tweet – that got Mr. Straight Talk Express to sit up and take notice.

Given Senator McCain’s estranged relationship with GOP Presidents, we shouldn’t be surprised he’s bashing Trump. You may remember some of Senator McCain’s collusion with Democrats against President George W. Bush. It’s worth a review to recall the full picture.

At best that was about policies. At worst, it was McCain building his own ego. It’s quite another thing to glibly toss about the word “dictator” in response to a question about POTUS criticizing the MSM. The answer to Todd’s question is, “Yes, the press is the enemy of the American people who elected this President, and anyone else who doesn’t agree with their Progressive agenda. Get a clue.”

Given Senator McCain’s estranged relationship with the First Amendment, we shouldn’t be surprised he’s selective in citing it. He is, after all, the co-author of the anti-First Amendment Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, eponymously known as McCain-Feingold. Don’t take my word for its unconstitutionality – the Supreme Court has overturned major portions of McCain-Feingold in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., Davis v. Federal Election Commission, and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

If John McCain understood that the First Amendment protects free speech (especially political speech) for all of us he would be too embarrassed to be currying MSM favor by implying Trump is suppressing the free press.

Powerline’s John Hinderaker sums it up nicely,

John, John, get a grip! Who is “suppressing” the press? Do you seriously not understand the difference between criticizing the press and suppressing it? The press is not above criticism. On the contrary, it deserves to be called out constantly for bias and inaccuracy. President Trump has taken a good step in that direction, but a great deal more press criticism is in order.

Also: not calling on CNN in a White House press conference does not constitute “suppressing” CNN.