There is no shortage of conspiracy theories that elicit a chuckle or the rolling of eyeballs. "September 11th was an inside job." "The war on Iraq was launched to enrich Halliburton." "AIDS was created to annihilate the black community." But should we be alarmed when a theory appears plausible in an age when the previously unthinkable occurs on a regular basis?
"When the heavy hand of the State is imposed on the press, all of us lose," Barack Obama told a group of Kenyan journalists during a 2006 trip to Africa. He continued, "The media does not have a formal role in the Government, but it serves a critical function in providing information to the public so that they can hold the Government accountable."
That was then and this is now. Apparently, a present-day President Obama has a different view -- a wild-eyed view -- of a free press than did a Senator Obama now that some outlets hold him, his administration and his political allies accountable.
The Obama Administration declared war on the minority of media outlets that do not worship the political left's newest false idol immediately after Obama was sworn in. Three days into his presidency Obama warned Congressional Republicans against listening to radio host Rush Limbaugh. Amazingly, the president who offered to sit down with the thug leaders of rogue nations, such as Iran's Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, without any preconditions believed an immense threat was posed by a radio talk show host originally from southeastern Missouri.
Then the White House launched a jihad against Fox News Channel and its hosts by first boycotting appearances on the cable channel and then second, by engaging in name-calling and leveling baseless allegations.
More recently, the White House brazenly attempted to marginalize Fox News Channel by enlisting the support of the heretofore compliant news media. Fortunately, competing news outlets found the backbone -- if only temporarily -- to put the kibosh on Obama's attempts to blacklist FNC from the White House press pool.
All of the Obama Administration bluster may have been just that. Supporters of talk radio breathed a sigh of relief earlier this year when an amendment introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) passed with an 87-11 Senate vote that seemingly ended an attempt to implement the so-called "Fairness Doctrine." The inaptly named "Fairness Doctrine" is nothing less than government-imposed speech codes. Although the doctrine would not have likely survived Constitutional scrutiny, radio hosts and listeners alike thought a major bullet was dodged.
So, are all threats averted? Perhaps not. There may be another plan afoot to silence dissent.
Instead of having the government decide which program merited "the other side" of the argument, what if there was a plan to shut down the free component of talk radio and broadcast TV?
More than 150 bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission are in the final stages of planning how to deliver broadband Internet to the estimated 3-6 million people who do not have access. A formal plan will be unveiled in early 2010 but one proposal being discussed is deeply alarming as it threatens First Amendment freedoms.
The FCC is contemplating the notion that some or all of the electromagnetic spectrum occupied by radio and TV broadcasters is the perfect real estate to launch a national wireless broadband service. The price tag is $350 billion. That is as much as nearly $120,000 per person to be connected. Apparently, the FCC has not heard of the "$99 Triple Play."
Evicted broadcasters would no longer offer free, over-the-air radio and TV, but would instead be confined to subscription platforms such as cable and satellite or the Internet. This aspect of the plan is indeed troubling. The public would be required to pay for their news, information and entertainment services and there would be no free option.
However, it gets worse. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced a measure this year that would allow the president to disconnect private broadband users during an undefined national cyber emergency.
One provision of S.773 would grant the president authority to "declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic" including that on private systems designated as critical. Not surprisingly, the bill gives the president wide discretion in designating private systems as "critical." Would an H1N1 pandemic qualify as such an emergency allowing the president to shut down voices opposing his socialized medicine plans?
Another provision of the bill is to federally-license certain information technology professionals making it illegal for those not holding such a license to access any IT systems. Obviously, the most efficient way to control the nation's broadband platforms is to control those who operate them.
Connecting the dots in this fashion would not have been contemplated as recently as one year ago. But today, no one is rolling their eyes.
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