In the aftermath of the September 11th, A.D. 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a number of government spokesmen crowed that “this changes everything.” What they meant was that, in light of the 911 attacks, we could no longer afford the protections of the Constitution and must instead embrace a growing police state.
Although the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda was officially blamed for the attacks, much of America still believes that 911 was a false flag operation conducted by, or with the complicity, of our own government. Regardless of whoever is truly responsible for 911, the resulting police state (and correlative distrust for government) continued to grow for the next 13 years.
A.D. 2013 was especially scary as numerous domestic government agencies were exposed as having ordered over 2 billion rounds of ammunition, plus rifles, handguns, body armor and even submachine guns. It was virtually impossible to explain these purchases except as evidence that the US government was preparing for violent conflict with the American people. The forces of fascism were either on the march or terrified by growing public distrust.
However, in the midst of our growing police state, a number of events took place in the past five or six weeks that seem surprising when taken individually and almost astounding when taken together.
My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
First, in April, Cliven Bundy and his supporters withstood a threatened assault by the Bureau of Land Management. Most Americans expected Bundy to receive a dose of the same “shock and awe” that the almighty government gave the Branch Davidians. But Bundy got away with it—at least for now.
In a nation where reports are increasingly common of people being beaten, wounded, jailed or even killed by law enforcement officers . . . in a nation that many believe is fast-becoming an overt police state . . . . Cliven Bundy and his supporters faced off against armed government agents—and the government backed down.
Pretty amazing. Almost inexplicable.
Second, (also in April) Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivered a speech to the University of Tennessee College of Law.
Note that we’re talking about a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. This is one of the highest offices of our judicial system. Those who occupy such office are expected to be masters of language, prudent, reticent and extremely unlikely to accidentally make radical statements in public.
During his speech in Tennessee, Justice Scalia explained that it was constitutionally permissible for Congress to impose income taxes on citizens. However, speaking of levels of taxation, Justice Scalia added “if it [tax rates] reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.”
According to the Huffington Post,
“The word ‘revolt’ carries with it a very specific definition: ‘to break away from or rise against constituted authority, as by open rebellion; cast off allegiance or subjection to those in authority; rebel; mutiny.’ . . . Scalia isn’t known for soft-pedaling his language or mincing words, so it’s reasonable to assume Scalia was suggesting a literal revolt against the government.”
A Supreme Court Justice suggested in public that if taxes get much higher, maybe Americans should revolt against the government.
In the Post-911 world of terrorists and potential extremists, Scalia’s comment was unimaginable. But he said it.
Terrorists Spike Government Drinking Water with Sodium Pentothal
OK. Cliven Bundy’s standoff against the BLM might be dismissed as some sort of aberration. Justice Scalia’s comments on “revolt” might be excused by the facts that: 1) Scalia is a bit of a “loose cannon”; and 2) he’s got his job for life. No matter what Scalia says, no one is going to fire a Supreme Court Justice.
But, in May, another high government official made another public statement that made me wonder if terrorists had slipped truth serum into the Washington DC drinking water. According to The Washington Times (FBI chief: Americans ‘should be suspicious of government power. I am’):
“FBI Director James Comey has a message for Americans: be suspicious of the federal government.
“Mr. Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that in the wake of the Edward Snowden scandal he could understand why Americans would be worried about government overreach.
“According to Mr. Comey, ‘I believe people should be suspicious of government power. I am. . . .’”
What the helk is goin’ on here?!
We’re talking about the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That’s the folks who brought us Abscam, COINTELPRO, and the FBI lab falsifying forensic data used in trials. These guys are team players. They’re close to the heart of post-911 police state.
Nevertheless, the Director of the FBI advised Americans to be suspicious of government power? The Director of the FBI admitted that even he is suspicious of government power?
In less than one month’s time, we’ve had a Supreme Court Justice who suggests we revolt against government and an FBI Director who warns against trusting the government!
Did these events really happen, or have the terrorists drugged my drinking water?
I’ve been persistently ragging on government in general, and big government in particular, for 24 years. I’ve been ignored, laughed at, and sometimes described as some sort of nut. Nevertheless, we now have a Supreme Court Justice and an FBI Director making public statements highly critical of big government. They’re making statements that could get ordinary people in the post-911 era labeled as “extremists,” “hate-mongers,” and “terrorists”. Good LORD, these guys sound like me!
Obama might not be able to “drone” Cliven Bundy or fire Justice Scalia, but he (or Congress) could surely force FBI Director Comey’s resignation. And yet, Comey publicly warned America not to trust our government!
It appears that FBI Director doesn’t fear losing his job. If so, does this signal that even significant elements of government have developed an anti-government sentiment?
Congress Attacks NSA
And then . . . in May . . . while my mind was still boggled by the Bundy, Scalia, and Comey stories . . . The Washington Times (House votes to shut down NSA phone-snooping) reported:
“In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote that would have been unthinkable just a few months ago, the House of Representatives approved a bill to cancel the government’s bulk-data collection programs, including the NSA’s phone-records snooping.
“Less than a year after the [NSA phone spying] program was first revealed by former government contractor Edward Snowden, the 303-121 vote to halt bulk data collection shows just how quickly a consensus developed against the NSA’s secret program.”
Yes, a Congressional consensus that was “unthinkable” just a few months ago has developed quickly—but not simply because Snowden revealed that the NSA was spying on Americans. The “unthinkable” Congressional consensus developed quickly after the Congress learned that the NSA was even spying on them.
The fascists had gone too far. Congress reacted.
“Under the new bill, data would be held by the phone companies, and the government would be required to get a court order when it wanted to seek specific data.
Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat . . . said given the intelligence community’s history, she was not prepared to trust them.
“This is the end of secret laws,” said Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the author of the original Patriot Act, who said he felt betrayed by the way the government used that law. “We have turned the tables on the NSA, and say we are watching you—and we will.”
The fact that the House of Representatives passed a bill to limit the NSA’s powers is important but incomplete. The Senate will also have to approve the bill and President Obama will have to sign it before it becomes law. Nevertheless, according to the Washington Times, “even Mr. Obama, who for most of his administration approved and oversaw bulk collection, has changed his stance.”
The NSA is the heart of our modern police state. They’re our “ministry of truth”. But they’ve gone too far. They’ve dared to even spy on Congress. And now they’ve had their wrists slapped by the House of Representatives.
The times, they are a-changin’. The forces of American fascism—at least for now—seem to be in disarray and retreat.
Even the IRS Plays Nice?
The May 23rd Washington Times (IRS to start over on rules governing tea party groups, other nonprofits) reported that,
“The IRS said Thursday it will go back and rewrite the proposed rules governing nonprofit groups and political activity, bowing to overwhelming opposition from tea party groups and free speech advocates on both ends of the ideological spectrum who feared the tax agency would hurt political debate.
The IRS is “bowing”?
To “overwhelming opposition”?
From “tea party groups”?
We’re talking about some of the government’s best knee-breakers. We’re talking about the guys who’ll seize your house, bank account and bass boat if you don’t pay your “fair share” to support the almighty government.
How can it be that the mighty IRS has “bowed”?
The mighty are fallen!
“It’s the latest chapter in the IRS tea party-targeting scandal that erupted a year ago, when the IRS’s internal auditor found the agency improperly targeted tea party and conservative groups who applied for status as nonprofit “social welfare” organizations.
“The IRS said in a statement, ‘Given the diversity of views expressed and the volume of substantive input, we have concluded that it would be more efficient and useful to hold a public hearing after we publish the revised proposed regulation.”
In other words, broad segments of society (“diversity”) were so mad (“volume”) at the IRS that the IRS had to change its policy on targeting Tea Party groups. We the People actually made a difference. We spoke up. We leaned so hard on the Congress, Senate and President that the IRS had to “bow”.
Dayahm. That’s cause of celebration.
“House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, the Michigan Republican who is Congress’s chief tax writer, said, ‘The American people spoke out loud and clear against it, and hopefully the IRS and the Obama administration will think twice before ever trying to go down this path again.’”
Setbacks, Foreign and Domestic
What’s going on here? Big government is suffering setback after setback—not just in foreign affairs (Ukraine, Syria, etc.) but also domestically.
The Huffington Post offered an explanation:
“It appears as if we’re in the midst of an upswing in popularity for anti-government revolution. Call it Rebellion Chic. . . . Formerly inconceivable, especially following the disastrous results for the old Confederacy, rebellion seemed like fever-dreams for a few revolutionary cosplayers and militia gun hoarders. But ever since the Bundy Ranch stand-off began in Nevada it’s become a very real, very tangible option for the radical far-right . . . .”
I’m delighted that the Huffington Post recognized that some sort of significant political change is taking place, but I don’t agree with their description. They trivialize big government’s recent setbacks with phrases like “Rebellion Chic”. They minimize the political impact of these setbacks by attributing them to only “militia gun hoarders” and the “radical far-right”.
But, as the IRS admitted, the “diversity” and “volume” of complaints against IRS policy forced the IRS to “bow”. I suspect that the “diversity” and “volume” of complaints from the majority of the American people and even from Congress, the Supreme Court and the FBI might be forcing an end to growth of the post-911 police state.
The nation called “The United States of America” has had just about enough of the police state. The American people may not know that, but the government does. Just as private Americans have been frightened by government’s purchase of over 2 billion rounds of ammunition, government must also be frightened by the millions of firearms and rounds of ammunition purchased by the American people. It really does appear that if the government wants a fight, there are more than enough people in this country who are willing to give them one. I won’t bet on it, but it may well be that all those millions of private firearms purchases have forced the fascists to pull in their horns–at least for now.
Bundy set an example. So did Scalia, Comey, and even Congress. The police state can’t continue to grow and may even be forced to shrink.
Some of the decline in big government’s powers may be credited to the “heroic” examples set by Bundy, Scalia, Comey, some members of Congress and even the “militia gun hoarders” and “radical far-right”—and especially to Edward Snowden. (There’s a good case to be made that the recent acts or statements made by Bundy, Scalia, Comey and Congress were all ultimately inspired Snowden’s release of government files last year. Snowden is an extraordinary example of how important one man can be.)
But the greater truth may be that government is so broke that it can no longer afford to be “big”. It costs money to push people around. Therefore, it’s hard for an insolvent government to run a viable police state on both the international and domestic levels.
Maybe we’re entering an era wherein big government’s power must decline both internationally and domestically. Maybe we’ll even see the restoration and growth of liberty and in or streets. If so, hooray!
But, before government’s decline leads us to the liberty, we should also see some disorganization, perhaps some chaos, and certainly significant political and economic volatility.
Insofar as government spending makes up 40% of the US GDP, a governmental insolvency must also signal a correlative economic decline.
If you rely on government for your income or protection, you may want to rethink that reliance.
Buckle up. The ride’s about to get a little bumpier.