CPAC definitely offers a vast array of speakers in the conservative movement, and this year’s conference is no exception to the rule. Right now, I am live blogging from the New Challenges in the Culture War panel discussion, which features many renowned experts in the pro-life movement. The panelists include: Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse of The Beverly LaHaye Institute and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and Liberty University School of Law.
Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) are eager to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine (FD). That was a rule laid down by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that was used to squelch broadcast criticism of the (mostly liberal) administrations in Washington. The FD was the 20th century equivalent of the Alien and Sedition Acts. The FD reigned for several decades and had the effect of suppressing debate on the airwaves. Until the boneheaded McCain-Feingold law was passed, FD was the worst infringement on free speech going. It was repealed under Ronald Reagan in 1987. That was the year he called for the Berlin Wall to come down. As a result of Reagan’s liberating efforts, we saw freedom rise at home and abroad.
Conservative radio talkers are calling the threat of a reconstituted FD a “Hush Rush” bill. We need to be aware, however, that liberals may achieve their ends without passing legislation, or even without a new FCC “fairness” rule. They could do it by requiring a fixed amount of local content for radio. The idea there is that our mostly liberal major metropolitan areas would produce the local content and squeeze out the conservatives-like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Bill Bennett—who tend to be nationally syndicated.
How do you know that you know way too much about Washington bureaucracies and how they “work”? Here’s how. When you hear CNBC’s Rick Santelli calling for a Chicago Tea Party tax protest this summer, you immediately start to wonder whether he’ll need to get permits from some government entity like the Environmental Protection Agency. And then you wonder whether Illinois permits will be needed also. Well, I plead guilty to having had such thoughts last Thursday.
Fortunately, I am not alone and not nearly as bad off as Scott Ott of the D.C. Examiner appears to be. Ott has written a brilliant, hilarious piece entitled, “EPA Arrests Rick Santelli, ‘Chicago Tea Party’ Cancelled.” (See Feb. 24, 2009 ed., p. 14.) The satirical article contains the following slam from President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, commenting on Santelli’s arrest for threatening to pollute Lake Michigan: “I don’t know where Mr. Santelli lives, but apparently, like most conservative critics, he has a callous disregard for the lives of the waterfowl, sturgeon and fresh-water mollusks that inhabit the Lake Michigan watershed.”
That’s funny, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Santelli really could be arrested for dumping tea or “derivative securities” (paper) into the Great Lakes. Well done, Mr. Ott.
Andie Coller of The Politico observed today that Gibbs “dismissed [Santelli] as a know-nothing derivatives trader out of touch with Main Street.” Coller then noted that “[a] Rasmussen poll released Monday found that 55 percent of those surveyed thought federal mortgage subsidies to those most at risk of losing their homes would be ‘rewarding bad behavior.’” If I were the White House I would be very careful about trying to roll out a campaign of intimidation and bullying against journalists, in general, and a journalist, in particular, who is very much attuned to public sentiment, is an expert in the numerous cross-cutting markets traded in Chicago, and is the most popular figure on America’s #1 financial news network.
Such laws, among other things, seek to correct a philosophical mistake. That is, they seek to correct the dis-unity between “person” and “human being” that philosophers such as Peter Singer make. There is no difference. All human beings are persons. Creating a distinction between some human beings, who are persons, and some who are not is a dangerous game.
It is the powerful, after all, who will decide which human beings are persons, and you can bet your last dollar they won’t leave themselves out. But, as history proves, they will leave others out - the weak, the voiceless, the outsiders. The whole history of our United States may be understood as a struggle to recognize, and to guarantee in law, that all human beings are equal. State “personhood” laws are well within this tradition.
In the latest Mapping America, the National Survey of Children’s Health shows that children who attend religious services at least monthly are much less likely to repeat a grade in school than those who attend religious services less frequently.