“Fast & Furious” and “H.R. 1540″ Ideology breeds Incuriosity? UPDATED

H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, has already passed the House, and is currently before the Senate. One section of the bill gives the President the authority to detain indefinitely American citizens, picked up on American soil, because they are allegedly supporting the enemy (H/T)

Imagine Jane Fonda coming home after posing on enemy anti-aircraft weapons, with this sort of law in place. Some might like it, but I suspect , even those who dislike Fonda, would not its breadth or width.

My column at First Things today wonders if we all acquiesce to new and troubling laws too easily, based on mere ideology?

She was a “stalwart conservative” and a bit of a rugged individualist—she could shoot a gun and dress a kill (if I had known of Sarah Palin’s existence at the time, I’d have favorably compared the two)—and her concerns about the legislation were sound. She feared giving too much power into the hands of the government, or even into the hands of a president she basically liked, because she fully expected—in the natural way of things—that these expanded powers would eventually be abused. Her patriotism, she declared, demanded that she put her concern over her party loyalty: “Once people acquire power,” she wrote, “they don’t give it up at some later date, they just add to it.”

I thought her concerns were valid and well-expressed, and was surprised to see this formerly very popular commenter quickly became unwelcome within the forum. An image formed in my mind of birds flying in unison, and then suddenly dive-bombing in turn against a non-conformist who had been deemed unfit for the formation. In a matter of weeks the objector was gone, but before she left, she made a point of posting the Ben Franklin-attributed quote: “Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security”. She predicted her compatriots would regret their legislative overreach, and that someday they would hear candidates pledge to reduce intrusive government powers, only to further extend them upon attaining their office—thanks to the very precedents then being cheered on.

Now, of course, with a Democrat in the White House, we’re seeing many people who screamed about the Patriot Act having little-to-nothing to say about either this story or this one.

I’ve said it before and will say it again — it’s not good for the country when its press becomes selective about what it feels is worth examining, or not. But if the press will not do due diligence, it’s up to the rest of us to inform ourselves.

To be fair, CBS News does seem to be Curious about “Fast and Furious” but otherwise, it’s a non-story to the press.

Odd. Remember when they all chimed in that George W. Bush was “incurious”? You could have made a montage of them all using the word.

You can read my whole column, here

UPDATE:
Ed Morrissey has an excellent piece and video
on the “Fast and Furious” story, to bring us all up to speed.

Glenn Reynolds: links (thanks, Glenn!) and also makes a seriously cogent observation:

. . .fans of civil liberties should always vote for Republican presidents, since they’re the only ones that get press scrutiny.

I’ve never looked at it that way, but he is very right: if the press will only critically examine vitally important policies when a Republican is in charge, then that alone might be reason enough to vote one in. I’d said repeatedly that I’d rather have a critical press questioning everything, than a complacent one playing advocate or Sgt. Schultz!

Ace has more Fast and Furious

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Will

    Our country continues to support huge defense bills, with poorly though out provisions restricting liberties. Whatever happened to the loyal opposition?

  • Richard Johnson

    “…if the press will only critically examine vitally important policies when a Republican is in charge, then that alone might be reason enough to vote one in.”

    That may well be, because the press has done a terrible job of holding this administration’s feet to the fire. But, another honest question should be asked. Will those Republicans and Conservatives who are questioning a Democrat administration also question a Republican administration when one is brought into office? Voices on that side of the aisle were almost as silent about the Patriot Act and other actions to expand “national security directives” under President G.W. Bush as the left is under President Obama.

  • Errol Phillips

    We don’t have an American Press … We have a Socialist Press. Why would you expect anything else ?

  • East Bay Jay

    But if a President has to take the country to war, say in Iran, far better that it be a Democrat that does so, simply for unity reasons. Media scrutiny is a good thing, right up until the call for war is made. At that point better that the media become cheerleaders instead of ankle biters.

    A cheerleading media is a war fighting asset right up until the point that the ‘mission’ isn’t achievable, see Germany, 1943/4.

  • Insufficiently Sensitive

    Will those Republicans and Conservatives who are questioning a Democrat administration also question a Republican administration when one is brought into office?

    That’s not the blasted point. It’s the PRESS who’s guaranteed to scrutinize Republican administrations 24/7. And even Republicans and Tea Party types complained about certain Republican officeholders during the Bush admin, while Democrats (who suffer from terminal omerta in this admin) didn’t.

  • KLH

    How many mexican citizens have been killed by drug lords and crime bosses armed by Eric Holder?

    How many Mexican citizens were killed by the Minutemen attempting to bring the border security issue to light?

    How many of you think the media has its priorities totally screwed up?

  • kenneth

    We are at this point of “media incuriosity” because we have for decades gradually abandoned the rights which we now stand to lose.

    We sat back and cheered, or sat silent, when the government short-cut the Constitution to lock up colored kids with baggy pants in the War on Drugs. We thought it was cool when we funded death squads to eliminate people we found inconvenient during the Cold War.

    We were, for the most part, ecstatic when we found out our government was imprisoning, torturing and killing with no due process or transparency in the War on Terror. After all, SOME of them must have been Islamists, and if we break a few extra eggs making the omlette, maybe Muslims everywhere will think twice… We allowed ourselves to be trained like show dogs to suffer strip searches and whatever other indignities the TSA decides to inflict on us in the name of National Security.

    We bought into the delusion that totalitarianism could be tamed to serve freedom’s cause. We fell for that because we deliberately ignored the lessons of history and figured as Americans we’re just that special that the laws of physics in human dynamics don’t apply to us. The wisdom of Martin Niemoller was ignored, because, after all, that sort of thing could never happen HERE.

    This is WAY bigger now than who is in office and their relationship to the press. The press has been neutered in this country, both by corporate interests and by a decades-long campaign (mostly, but not only by conservatives), to deligitimize anything they have to say. The main stream media, we’re told daily on this and other blogs, is just a Tool of the Other Guy and Evil. Nobody would listen to them at this point even if they had the stones to question those in power. In fact anyone who has tried to question popular abuse of power has been shouted down as sissy liberals and “anti-American.”

    The press didn’t create this. The liberals or the conservatives didn’t create this. WE created this. Unless we move past partisan spin on this issue, and fast, the only real question remaining is the boarding order for buses to the gulags..

  • Nate Whilk

    “I’d rather have a critical press questioning everything”

    We have NEVER had such a press and we never will. Who told us the fairy tale about how great the media is? The media!

    I agree with Insty that the media should announce its biases like they once did. You know, papers with names like “The Hartford Democrat” or “The Des Moines Republican” and so forth.

  • Mark

    kenneth, the call for getting past partisan spin would be far better understood if your spin was not so obvious all through your post.

    The press is given special rights in our constitution because it is essential in a country with this form of government to have a press that is indeed critical of the government. Anyone with a reasonable view would easily see that the MSM has become part of the liberal Democratic party for decades. If you are conservative and black, you will be attacked with every tactic known to mankind for only one narrative can come from blacks. If you are a woman, you have to be pro abortion or you will be attacked like Palin. Heck, the Anchoress is attacked her on her own blog if she is seen as a “conservative” person even when she is in line with Catholic teaching. We are in fact partisan as individuals and all have our right to do this. I think the 4th estate on the other hand has the moral obligation to not show such obvious bias if it shows any at all. You have to love how the left goes absolute bonkers about one network, Fox, when all the other media outlets have been in the tank to democrats. And if fact, if one objectively looked at Fox, there is indeed more balance by far there than you will see at NBC or its owned MSNBC. But the left wants to have zero critical look at their boys like Obama. They lie when covering the tea party and then show their total hypocricy by ignoring what they accused the tea party of being and is real with Occupy gangsters.

  • bandit

    It’s not a ‘press’, it’s an Obama cheer squad.

  • Tom Perkins

    “when the government short-cut the Constitution to lock up colored kids with baggy pants in the War on Drugs”

    At the direct behest of Jesse Jackson and the NAACP, who said that crack was disproportionately affecting “their” communities. They got what they said they wanted.

    “The press is given special rights in our constitution”

    No one is given rights in the constitution, and the press has no special rights, that right for all is equally protected from government interference.


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