Wash. Times: Obama’s Freedom & Fear Farce

JPB art Wash Times obama fearmongering 129_2015_b1bovardlgscaretact8201_s878x1366

Obama Fearmonger in Chief Wash. Times artwork by Linas Garsys

Washington Times, December 10, 2015

Talking freedom but practicing fear

by James Bovard

The president employs scare tactics to diminish liberties

The most memorable line in President Obama’s Oval Office Sunday speech was his declaration that “freedom is more powerful than fear.” That epigram might have made John F. Kennedy’s speechwriters beam. But it is ludicrous to hear such a comment from a president who has spent almost seven years fear-mongering to promote one federal power grab after another.

Mr. Obama has done more than any other president to sway Americans to perceive all gun owners as threats to public safety. The president declared, “Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun.” But the no-fly list has long been a parody of due process: Federal Judge Anna Smith ruled last year that it was unconstitutional and recognized that “international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society.” Mr. Obama’s proposal is especially perilous to freedom because his administration is placing innocent Americans on the no-fly list based solely on a hunch that they might someday commit violence. If Congress enacts Mr. Obama’s proposal, then the absurd judgments of one government agency would provide a license to ravage victims’ other constitutional rights — and perhaps also to tacitly identify gun owners with terrorists.

Mr. Obama perennially invokes the threat of terrorism to cloak illegal government surveillance. When Edward Snowden exposed how the National Security Agency was ravaging Americans’ privacy, the president responded by portraying any threat to the federal data vacuum cleaners as pre-emptive surrender to terrorist cabals. This past May, when Congress dallied before renewing the Patriot Act, Mr. Obama issued an apocalyptic warning: “Heaven forbid we’ve got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack … but we didn’t do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.” Mr. Obama signaled on Sunday that he believes that new threats justify government restrictions on the use of private encryption of email: “I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.”

After federal officials failed to detect a plot by the so-called underwear bomber in late 2009, Mr. Obama authorized the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to become far more aggressive and intrusive. He declared in 2010 that he had asked the TSA for confirmation that “what we’re doing is the only way to assure the American people’s safety.” Commenting last month on the downing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai peninsula, the president declared, “I think there is a possibility that there was a bomb on board, and we’re taking that very seriously.” But the TSA’s bomb detectors are routinely triggered by hand sanitizers and other commonly used items, and TSA’s Whole Body Scanners failed to detect 96 percent of the guns and mock explosives that inspector general agents attempted to smuggle past them. But as long as Obama administration officials can invoke vague threats, Americans’ Fourth Amendment right to be free of warrantless, unreasonable searches is null and void.

When Congress was considering the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama and his officials repeatedly vastly exaggerated the number of Americans without access to health care. They sought to sway citizens to believe that the only alternative to the president’s plan was to permit millions of Americans to suffer horribly, perhaps dying in the street. Mr. Obama promised that his health care program could expand coverage and curtail spending. There was no way to simultaneously increase demand and slash costs except by decimating freedom. Millions of Americans’ health insurance policies have been canceled as a result of Obamacare.

The president’s rhetoric on climate change is perhaps his most blunt fear-mongering. In a September speech in Alaska, Mr. Obama warned that without sweeping economic and environmental policy changes, “we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair: Submerged countries. Abandoned cities. Fields no longer growing.” But while he talks as if climate change is a self-evident truth, the administration is refusing to disclose key data from its top climate research agency to House Republicans who suspect the administration is fudging numbers to promote the president’s agenda. As the evidence for global warming becomes shakier, he is castigating anyone who rejects his iron-fisted, purported solutions.

Mr. Obama is correct that freedom is potentially more potent than fear. But we must recognize how politicians profit from fear-mongering more than any other group in our society. And if enough Americans can be frightened, then all of us will be further subjugated.

• James Bovard is the author of “Attention Deficit Democracy” (Palgrave, 2006) and “Lost Rights” (St. Martin’s, 1994).

On Twitter @jimbovard


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6 Responses to Wash. Times: Obama’s Freedom & Fear Farce

  1. Tom Blanton December 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Maybe Obama’s proclamation that freedom is more powerful than fear is a signal that his experiments trying to disprove that thesis have been completed. But wait, his experiments in societal control using fear to destroy freedom have actually proven that when rubes get scared, they willingly give up freedom. I think he knows that. After all, his own minion said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste….”

    What a bunch of creeps.

  2. Jim December 10, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

    I wonder how Rahm will exploit the police video killing crisis.

  3. Tom Blanton December 11, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    It beats me, Jim. But if anyone could do it, it would be Rahm, King of the Grifters,

    For now, all he can seem to do is fire some cops, provide some lip service to the issue, and pay out hush money, er uh I mean settlements, with taxpayer money to the families of victims, premised on secrecy. He’ll do whatever it takes so that he can continue to serve the public. That’s just how he is.

    My best guess is that he may actually be exploiting the killer cop crisis by using it as a diversion to keep the focus off of some other scam(s) he is pulling off.

    • Jim December 11, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

      That’s an interesting theory of how he is exploiting it. I haven’t followed his Chicago machinations closely.

      The payoffs to victims worked out well for Baltimore mayors – at least until Freddie Gray.

  4. Tom Blanton December 12, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    Jim, I have noticed no mention of the Homan Square debacle exposed by the Guardian in October in the current police scandal. Also, nothing has been mentioned about the decades of torture by the Chicago police that resulted in $5.5 million in “reparations” for victims in 2015. MSNBC did recently report that $521 Million in police settlements had been paid in the past decade.

    Chicago, run by enlightened Democrats, has been running a full blown police state for 20 years with black people being the primary victims. Why is Homan Square and the torture stuff not mentioned in the current “crisis” for some background and perspective?




  5. Jim December 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm #

    Thanks for the links – those are excellent questions.

    Ya, I’m mystified why the coverage of the latest scandal hasn’t included a broader overview of horrendous abuses. If memory serves, I whacked the Chicago PD in Lost Rights way back in the last century.