The American people often complain that the government “isn’t listening.” The Obama administration continually proves it is listening intently to every word uttered about it, and monitoring the speakers. The latest outrage involves the federal government awarding $18,000 in taxpayer dollars to John Brooks Rice to monitor media coverage of Obama’s handling of the BP oil spill. Rice watched news reports from May to July on behalf of Obama, noting whether reporters portrayed his boss in a positive or negative light.
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) doled out the cash to Rich via a no-bid contract, the very tool Democrats criticized Republicans for using in Iraq. Now that the program has been exposed, Obama is trying to shove the cost off onto BP. The Associated Press reports, “The Coast Guard expects BP to reimburse the $18,000, Coast Guard spokesman Capt. Ron LaBrec said.” (The government could also have gotten a better deal; Hot Air has more details.)
Those details are virtually all Obama administration officials have given the media. Rice refused to hand over “copies of his reports rating the tone of news stories,” claiming he had already deleted them. Although the AP filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all the documents Rice produced, it “hasn’t received them.” However, Rice told reporters, “From reading and watching the media I would create reports. I reported either positive coverage, negative coverage, [or] misinformation coverage.”
The word “misinformation” sounds an eerily familiar tone. Earlier this week, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius warned insurance companies to stop peddling “misinformation” that ObamaCare caused insurance rate hikes. It does not matter that this is transparently true; Obama admitted Friday, “We didn’t think that we were going to cover 30 million people for free.” Even the dependably liberal shill Time magazine noted the “overt nature” of Sebelius’ “threat,” extorting insurers that if they continue to exercise their First Amendment right to state the obvious, Obama would shut them out of state insurance exchanges — and possibly the insurance industry altogether — by 2014.
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The Obama administration was also keen to monitor “misinformation” when it unveiled flag@WhiteHouse.gov. The White House website asked American snitchizens to e-mail the feds any information “about health insurance reform that seems fishy.”
Congressman Darrell Issa has exposed how this is part of Barack Obama’s systematic, comprehensive, and possibly illegal use of covert, taxpayer-funded propaganda. His 36-page report uncovered numerous instances of potentially impeachable offenses. In one relevant example, Obama spent tax dollars to hire Tracy Russo, a former blogger for John Edwards, to comment on internet articles or bulletin board messages that criticized his adminsitration or agenda, often anonymously. (You can read his full report here.) He attempted to enroll National Endowment for the Arts grant recipients and Hollywood liberals in the push for his agenda.
His Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “highly recommended” states receiving stimulus funds post highway signs lauding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Obama’s $787 billion stimulus, along construction areas. Some of these advertisements for big government cost up to $10,000 each.
These thuggish, or quasi-Orwellian schemes ignore the blantant waste and misuse of taxpayer dollars inevitable in any government that spends as much as does ours. Senators Tom Coburn, R-OK, and John McCain, R-AZ, compiled an official report listing 100 wasteful projects funded by the stimulus bill. These include hundreds of thousands of dollars to forecast the weather on other planets, nearly three-quarters-of-a-million dollars to invent a joke-telling robot, and $25,000 for the International Accordion Festival.
More menacingly, the stimulus bill allocated $500,000 to put microchips inside recycling bins in Dayton, Ohio. Local authorities insist the chips are benign.
Kevin “Coach” Collins highlights up a little reported story on his website today that $171,300 from the Obama administration’s appliance-rebate program was used to outsource call center jobs from Ohio to El Salvador.
And CNSNews.com reports today that the National Institute of Mental Health spent $823,200 of stimulus funds on a UCLA study “to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex.”
If the waste and bottomless deficit spending were not destructive enough, Obama is simultaneously demonizing and keeping ever-m0re-invasive tabs on his opponents. His Department of Homeland Security has named opponents of abortion, gay marriage, and massive government as public enemy number one. Obama has hauled the state of Arizona before the United Nations over its immigration law. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the government needs no warrant to attach a GPS device to the vehicle of someone it deems a threat. And vans equipped with full-body scan x-ray technology now travel along U.S. streets, seeking threats. In this context, media monitoring could be more threatening.
Hiring Rice to report on media coverage is either a government PR measure or a means of intimidation. Either is an unconstitutional waste of taxpayer dollars.
American citizens would have far fewer complaints if Obama and his liberal elite brain trust spent less time monitoring our reaction to their misgovernance and more time reading the instruction manual: the U.S. Constitution.
Until they do, they will continue blacklisting every American who shares that wish above a whisper.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.