- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 10, 2015

There’s much talk about free speech, and the right to it. Now comes a new book explaining who and what is eroding this most basic tenet. Now on book shelves: “The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech” by Kirsten Powers, a lifelong liberal and daughter of a feminist who converted to Christianity as an adult and is now a frequent contributor to Fox News.

She points out that leftist methodology is to simply shut down public debate with the help of a compliant liberal news media and a secular culture — while squawking about tolerance and values.

“It’s easier for the illiberal left to demonize their opponents and sanctify themselves as higher moral beings that treat differences of opinions respectfully,” Ms. Powers says, noting that the left reserves a “special strain of strident wrath” for Christians.

“Illiberal feminists can’t seem to fathom that some people actually believe an unborn human matters or that abortion is harmful to women. Sometimes the mask comes off and what we see is that illiberal feminism is often driven by a base hatred of Christianity,” the author explains.

She also says the left has become Orwellian indeed, policing the speech and opinions of public officials, conservatives and everyday folk in an effort to delegitimize their views. And they are very specific with their maneuvers.

“Non-white conservatives are called sellouts and race traitors. Conservative women are treated like dim-witted, self-loathing puppets of the patriarchy, or nefarious gender traitors. Men who express the wrong political or ideological view are demonized as hostile interlopers into the public debate,” Ms. Powers says. “The illiberal left sees the bullying and squelching of free speech as a righteous act.”

And that is a disturbing phenomenon. The book from Regnery Publishing has been deemed “a searing and courageous indictment of the growing intolerance of the American left” by commentator Charles Krauthammer.

HOLA, SENOR HALPERIN?

Media analysts and opinionmeisters are still puzzling over the recent interview between Bloomberg Politics columnist Mark Halperin’s with Sen. Ted Cruz. The Texas Republican and Cuban-American was subjected to a string of inquiries about his taste in Cuban food and music, his ability to speak Spanish and other matters that had no real place in the political discourse.

Mr. Cruz remained gracious and in good humor. Mr. Halperin, however, was taken to serious task by syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette of the Washington Post Writers Group, who wrote, “Halperin made it personal, and the interview careened into a ditch. I kept waiting for Halperin to ask Cruz to play the conga drums like Desi Arnaz while dancing salsa and sipping cafe con leche — all to prove the Republican is really Cuban.”

Mr. Navarrette advised Mr. Halperin that he had been personally nauseated by the exchange and stated, “You crossed the line. This was bad journalism, bad form, and bad manners.” Mr. Navarette also wondered this: “What if, instead of watching a Washington insider who is also an MSNBC contributor, I was watching Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly demand that one of the Castros say a few words in Spanish so O’Reilly could determine if he is legitimately Hispanic?”

Tim Graham, executive editor of the press watchdog Newsbusters.com, has the answer: “The left would go apoplectic.”

Republicans and conservatives quickly took to Twitter to express their dismay over the interview and fling back a few retorts via the hashtag #halperinquestions. Dozens of parody questions for other presidential hopefuls accumulated Sunday, including one for Democrat Jim Webb.

“Sen Webb, when with your W. Va Scots Irish clan you often fiddle, drink moonshine and punch outsiders, right?” tweeted Peggy Noonan in the aftermath.

WHAT’S THE SCORE?

Here’s an interesting question from Olivier Knox, a political correspondent for Yahoo.com, who served as the White House pool reporter on Saturday when President Obama went off to the Andrews Air Force Base golf course — not far from the nation’s capital.

“Zoom goes the motorcade. We are now leaving Andrews. Going through the gates at 6:25 pm. Your pooler wonders idly what happens to the scorecards from these presidential golf outings. Are they preserved? Burn-bagged? Given to participants?” Mr. Knox asked in his official dispatch.

Are all those birdies and bogeys an official presidential record that must be preserved, as per federal regulations — which are specific but mystifying, save for a policy wonk or an attorney. According to National Archives regs, presidential records of a personal nature can include “diaries, journals, or other personal notes serving as the functional equivalent of a diary or journal which are not prepared or utilized for, or circulated or communicated in the course of, transacting government business.” The United States retains complete ownership, possession, and control of them, the regs say.

The takeaway: Inside the Beltway is clueless about the disposition of the scorecards, but now slightly more informed. Suggestions from learned folk welcome.

THE TEA PARTY GAUGE

The Tea Party Patriots — the nation’s largest umbrella group for the grass-roots movement — is now conducting its own weekly gauge of popular sentiments among the group’s huge membership. Co-founder Jenny Beth Martin has revealed the latest results, this on a poll which inquired about the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders, and here are the numbers:

Eight percent agreed “It’s good that Hillary Clinton will face some competition for the nomination; 9 percent said “he has no shot of winning. Zero.”

Another 26 percent agreed that “a Socialist running in the Democratic primary is ultimately a good thing because it will help highlight how out of touch the Democratic Party is with average Americans.” And 54 percent agreed, “Waitaminnit, I thought Hillary had already declared her candidacy. Doesn’t that make Bernie Sanders the SECOND Socialist to declare for the Democratic presidential nomination?”

ONE FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT

“Our nation’s police officers are mentors in our schools, familiar faces on the corner, and pillars of our communities. They keep our borders secure and our roads safe, and in times of crisis, they rush toward tragedy. They are hardworking mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons who have dedicated their lives to public service, working every day to build a brighter future for their families and their nation. Their selfless commitment and daily sacrifice represent what is possible for every city, town, and reservation in America, and our country has an enormous opportunity to lift up the very best law enforcement personnel as examples — not just to other officers, but to all who aspire to lives of good citizenship.”

— From President Obama’s official proclamation recognizing Police Week, which begins Monday

POLL DU JOUR

46 percent of registered New Hampshire voters would vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton if the presidential general election were held today; 43 percent would vote for Sen. Rand Paul, 11 percent are unsure.

46 percent would vote for Mrs. Clinton if the presidential election were held today; 40 percent would vote for Gov. Scott Walker, 14 percent are unsure.

44 percent would vote for Mrs. Clinton if the presidential election were held today; 42 percent would vote for Jeb Bush, 14 percent are unsure.

44 percent would vote for Mrs. Clinton if the presidential election were held today; 42 percent would vote for Sen. Marco Rubio, 14 percent are unsure.

33 percent say Mrs. Clinton will be the next president, 27 percent are unsure, 22 percent say “someone else” and 18 percent say Mr. Bush.

Source: A Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm poll of 952 registered New Hampshire voters conducted May 2-6.

Admonitions and chatter to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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