Morning Briefing for August 6, 2009

FOR AUGUST 6, 2009

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1. A Study in Contrast

Given the debate over the legitimacy of protests against the Democratic agenda on health care, cap-and-trade, and the economy generally, I thought it might be instructive to look at how the last administration addressed protests against its policies. The contrast is quite stark:

Faced with protesters camped outside Bush’s residence in Crawford, White House officials chose to meet with Cindy Sheehan and others:

“About 70 anti-war protesters shouted “bring the troops home” from Iraq near President Bush’s ranch on Saturday, prompting two White House officials to come out to meet with mothers who lost children in combat in Iraq.

“National Security Adviser Steven Hadley and Deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin listened to the concerns of Cindy Sheehan and five or six other mothers in a meeting that lasted about 45 minutes, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. Duffy said Sheehan told the two officials she appreciated the meeting.”

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer didn’t question the legitimacy of anti-war protesters:

“I think the president welcomes the fact that we are a democracy and people in the United States, unlike Iraq, are free to protest and to make their case known,” Fleischer said.

Interesting. How does that compare with the Obama White House?

The Democratic National Committee addresses health care protests:

“The right wing extremists’ use of things like devil horns on pictures of our elected officials, hanging members of Congress in effigy, breathlessly questioning the President’s citizenship and the use of Nazi SS symbols and the like just shows how outside of the mainstream the Republican Party and their allies are. This type of anger and discord did not serve Republicans well in 2008 – and it is bound to backfire again.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs won’t give protesters any legitimacy – in stark contrast to the Bush administration:

“I hope people will take a jaundiced eye to what is clearly the Astroturf nature of grass-roots lobbying,” said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs during a morning off-camera session in his office with reporters.

“This is manufactured anger,” he said.

Well, you can say one thing for the Obama administration: they have brought genuine change to the way the White House addresses dissent.

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2. White House Actions Might Be Unlawful

The White House is asking individuals to report misinformation to the White House on healthcare.

According to 5 U.S.C. § 552a, United States agencies, including the Executive Office of the President shall, “maintain no record describing how any individual exercises rights guaranteed by the First Amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or by the individual about whom the record is maintained or unless pertinent to and within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity.”

The White House may take the position that certain of its offices aren’t subject to the Privacy Act (that is a longstanding Office of Legal Counsel position, see here), but most Presidents instruct their staffs to comply. This will be a the first significant time the White House has ignored the Privacy Act and may open President Obama up to litigation.

This is another example of the Obama administration ignoring long time precedent when it is no longer convenient for them. And ignoring this precedent lets them collect data on and potential harass individual American citizens.

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3. DNC calling Republicans asking for local office details

I have confirmed from multiple Republican congressional offices that, despite Democrat attempts to portray American citizens as “Nazi-like” and “a mob” for questioning members of Congress on healthcare, the DNC is coordinating activity to target swing district Republican congressmen in their offices.

Multiple Republican offices have received calls from the Democratic National Committee in their district offices asking for the office hours of the office, when the Congressman is expected to be in the office, etc. Staffers in the offices are confident the data will be compiled by the DNC to send activists to Republicans’ offices to push the healthcare agenda.

In other words — while the Democrats are accusing the Republicans are orchestrating protestors at open townhalls, the Democrats are going to push activists straight into congressional offices to cause scenes fit for the local newscasts.

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4. What’s the Matter with Elkhart?

Obama was in Elkhart, Indiana yesterday touting his stimulus. I am told by a native that this harried place was once a center of RV manufacture. Big old honking gas-guzzlers made to be driven on long trips down dusty highways and thundering interstates. But that industry has been declining for some time, and this Great Recession has routed it further.

So Obama comes to this place and promises that his program will stimulate its economy. At the same time, of course, his party and his administration are pushing a project to inaugurate a vast elaborate system of taxation design to enforce economic decline on industries which do things like — well, like make big old honking gas-guzzlers that drive on long trips down dusty highways and thundering interstates.

In other words one of the industries that will be beggared by cap and trade, is the very industry from which Elkhart draws its economic sustenance.

So at the same time that Obama is claiming to be working for these people, he is pushing a bill that could deliver the death blow to their livelihood.

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5. Panicking Democrats Seek Reassurance That Nobody Could *Possibly* Disagree With Them Legitimately

With well over half of America firmly in opposition to the Obama/Kennedy/Pelosi health overhaul plan, Democrats are grasping at anything they can possibly find to reassure themselves that they are still both right and representative of the “collective American will” on this and myriad other issues.

To that end, Jen O’Malley Dillon, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, sent an email to supporters this afternoon that is virtually dripping with desperation. Called “5 Facts About the Anti-Reform Mobs,” Dillon’s email is a frantic effort to reassure the shrinking, increasingly-fringe minority that actually support’s the President’s debt-growing and government-expanding programs that, against all evidence, they are the true majority on this issue and the opponents of their increasingly-unpopular proposals are an angry, paid, fringe “mob.”

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6. Obama doesn’t just want your emails, he wants your IP address too

Congress adopted the Broadband Data Improvement Act in 2008 to compile of map of the nation showing which areas have broadband and which do not. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is getting the information, but the Obama Administration has decided to use the NTIA to get more than the law requires.

Beyond the general data on which parts of the nation have high speed internet access and is it cable or DSL, Obama wants to know down to the individual what the individual has and how much the individual pays. Specifically, the NTIA is now requiring internet provides to give the government “average revenue per end user and data regarding type, technical specification or location of broadband infrastructure,” i.e. your home address, IP address, how much you pay, and where the connection is at your house.

The law does not require it. Congress does not want it. The NTIA admits the information will not be used to compile the map of national broadband, but Barack Obama still wants it.

We have a White House asking neighbors to turn in neighbors by forwarding emails — some of which will contain IP address information. And we have the White House demanding internet providers provide them with the home addresses corresponding to those IP addresses. Lastly, we have a White House that has thus far been extremely opaque despite pledges of transparency and a White House that has not hesitated to use private citizens information when it benefits them.

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