September 17, 2008

They hope people don't notice how they've changed the ground rules

milt.jpgIn today's Chicago Tribune, the Obama camp responds to nitpicky concerns about their attempts to shut down radio shows that might say things they don't like, via their "Obama Action Wires":

"The Action Wire serves as a means of arming our supporters with the facts to take on those who spread lies about Barack Obama and respond forcefully with the truth, whether it's an author passing off fiction as biography, a Web site spreading baseless conspiracy theories or a TV station airing an ad that makes demonstrably false claims," said Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Having listened to the previous Milt Rosenberg show with Stanley Kurtz that got "Action-Wired" (which is available here), I can tell you what this translates to:

"We'll provide a page of talking points for you to spout at the host and his guest. Just read it from your screen. Unfortunately, we're unable to provide you with the necessary brainpower to keep up when the host asks you to explain the reasoning behind 'your' opinion, or poses any other question that isn't found in our script.

"But that isn't the point anyway. We just want to tie up their phone lines with thousands of angry calls, both to intimidate them and to prevent people with legitimate questions from getting through. Yes We Can... Shout Down All Blasphemers."

This is not free speech. This is not "people expressing their opinion." This is people expressing Obama's opinion. This is a powerful politician arrogantly abusing that power to try to silence his critics, without even bothering to hide behind Media Matters or Kos, because he knows he can get away with it. This is wrong.

As far as I know, the only precedent in presidential politics is the buffoonish antics of Lyndon LaRouche followers. And I don't think even he ever put out a "LaRouche Action Wire." Probably because he didn't think of it first. Not to mention that he's never had a chance in hell of winning.

What if you have some vague notion that Obama is in any way a good candidate, but you don't like talking on the phone? Well, you can just hack his opponents' e-mail accounts. We are the vermin we've been waiting for.

P.S. But of course I could be wrong, and Jesse Taylor provides a thoughtful, measured, well-informed rebuttal. Here's one of the things he(?) rightly points out I've said:

So, apparently, any time someone calls and registers their displeasure with something, itís actually a violation of other people's first amendment rights.

It's probably my fault for being unclear. What I was trying to say is that when the callers are registering their displeasure at the behest of a presidential campaign, and they're unable to defend their assertions when they get knocked off the talking points they're reading from the candidate's official website, and the station is getting thousands of such identical calls... I know it's fascist of me, but that seems a bit odd.

P.P.S. Although upon further reflection, it's unfair to say that all those Obama supporters were reading their script directly from his website. Some of them might have printed it off.

P.P.P.S. I'm informed by a reliable source that the RethugliKKKan$ do it too. They target specific media outlets that say unapproved things about their presidential candidates, call them evil liars, and swarm their phone lines. The callers are totally at sea when they're forced to go off-script. They do that all the time. The reason we haven't heard about it, presumably, is because the right-wing media is in the pocket of the Rechimplicker Party. I'm also told that the wingnuts have cornered the market on astroturfing, which must be news to David Axelrod.

P.P.P.P.S. Another dissenting opinion from Nick W.:

free speech is allowing people to counter hate and lies
translate? yes when a racist like you translates it sounds just like aryan nation or kkk

Well, there's always that. Remember: Any criticism of Obama is inherently racist, and that includes not voting for him. You know what to do, America.

Posted by Jim Treacher at September 17, 2008 07:52 PM