Town Hall Rage

  • Snitch on your neighbors, parents, and friends for their political beliefs, says White House

    from the corner
    Tuesday, August 04, 2009
    Don’t Try Anything Fishy [Tevi Troy]

    Are the Democrats following criticisms of their health proposals a little too closely? K-Lo just sent me this piece about Sen. Ben Nelson personally calling a constituent to complain about the constituent’s appearance in an ad criticizing Nelson’s position on health care. Then a former White House colleague sent me this item from the White House website in which they are asking people to rat out anyone expressing an opinion that the White House would classify as “fishy”:

    There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

    My friend, who understandably does not want to be revealed as fishy to this Colonel Flag fellow, wrote the following:

    Move over, George Orwell! Could you imagine the furor this would have created if the Bush Administration had done this? The media would have had a field day issuing ominous warnings about the specter of the White House openly recruiting people to report on their friends' and neighbors' objections to a White House policy initiative. Be careful what you say — through its network of willing spies, the White House is listening! Children: Are your parents spreading misinformation about President Obama's plans for health care? Then email flag@whitehouse.gov. It's your duty!

    My take is a little different. The White House asked for a truth squad, so it seems to me that conservatives should submit any “fishy” statements from administration officials to flag@whitehouse.gov. But don’t expect any retractions anytime soon.

    GOP Senator: White House Encroaching on First Amendment
    ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:

    A Republican senator is calling for the White House to suspend a new project that asks members of the public to flag “fishy” claims about President Obama’s health care plans, arguing that it raises privacy concerns and will serve to chill free speech.

    Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is sending a letter to the White House today asking the president to “cease this program immediately” -- or to explain how Americans’ privacy will be protected if e-mails are forwarded to the White House as requested.

    “I am not aware of any precedent for a President asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed ‘fishy’ or otherwise inimical to the White House’s political interests,” Cornyn writes

    “I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward emails critical of his policies to the White House. I suspect that you would have been leading the charge in condemning such a program -- and I would have been at your side denouncing such heavy-handed government action.”

    Yesterday, White House director of new media Macon Phillips wrote a blog posting urging readers to flag questionable claims about health care proposals.

    “There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

    Cornyn specifically asks whether those who quote the president’s past statements -- such as his 2003 statement that he was a “proponent” of single-payer care -- qualifies as “disinformation.” He also asks what actions the White House would take against those engaging in “fishy” speech.

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