Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: Do You Feel We Are Moving Closer To A Police State?
GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Whoa! What a question!!
If you haven’t been on the rec’ving end of coppers gone mad with their own power – YaY! for you!!
Because once you have – you see how scary things are going. As Sir Paul (or maybe it was Spongebob or the O”Reilly Factor cat) once LOL’d – “A nation of sheep has a government of wolves.”
The reality of our age is this: if the government chooses to crash through our doors, listen to our phone calls, read our emails and text messages, fine us for growing vegetables in our front yard, jail us for raising chickens in our backyard, forcibly take our blood and saliva, seize and search us, there’s little we can do to stop them. At least, not at that particular moment. When you’re face to face with a government agent who is not only armed to the hilt and inclined to shoot first and ask questions later, but also woefully ignorant of the fact that he works for you, if you value your life, you don’t talk back.
It used to be that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which enshrines the rights to free speech, free press, assembly, religious exercise and petitioning one’s government for a redress of grievances, was considered the most critical of the amendments in the Bill of Rights.
The right to speak freely doesn’t help you when your home is being invaded by a SWAT team or the government is spying on your emails and phone calls, and tracking your whereabouts. It certainly doesn’t help you when you’re in the back of a police cruiser or face-to-face with a cop hyped up on the power of his badge. In fact, exercising your right to free speech in such scenarios today, even nominally, will more than likely get you pepper sprayed, tasered, shot or at the very least charged with resisting arrest or disorderly conduct.
No, see, it’s the Fourth Amendment, which demands that we be “secure” in our persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government and, consequently, stands as a bulwark against the police state, is, in fact, the most critical.
Unfortunately, we get so focused on the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of a warrant before government agents can invade our property (a requirement that means little in an age of kangaroo courts and rubberstamped warrant requests) that we fail to properly appreciate the first part of the statement declaring that we have a right to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects.”
What this means is that the Fourth Amendment’s protections were intended to not only follow us wherever we go but also apply to all that is ours—whether you’re talking about our physical bodies, our biometric data, our possessions, our families, or our way of life.
However, in an 8-1 ruling in Kentucky v. King (2011), the U.S. Supreme Court sanctioned SWAT teams smashing down doors of homes or apartments without a warrant if they happen to “suspect” you might be doing something illegal in your home.
Illegal, invasive spying on Americans. There is no form of digital communication that the government cannot and does not monitor—phone calls, emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, internet video chats, etc., are all accessible, trackable and downloadable by federal agents. In other words, there is nothing private from the government, which has used a variety of covert, unconstitutional tactics to gain access to Americans’ personal data, online purchases and banking, medical records, and online communications. The government’s methods include the use of supercomputers to hack through privacy settings, collaborations with corporations to create “back doors” for government access into encrypted files, and the use of strong-arm tactics against those technology and internet companies who refuse to cooperate. It is estimated that the National Security Agency has intercepted 15 to 20 trillion communications of American citizens since 9/11.
Police shootings of unarmed citizens. No longer is it unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. This trend originates from a police preoccupation with ensuring their own safety at all costs, with tragic consequences for the innocent civilians unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, consider the 16-year-old teenager who skipped school only to be shot by police after they mistook him for a fleeing burglar.
SWAT team raids. On an average day in America, at least 100 Americans have their homes raided by SWAT teams (although estimates as high as 300 a day), which are increasingly used to deal with routine police matters: angry dogs, domestic disputes, search warrants, etc. Unfortunately, general incompetence (officers misread the address on the warrant), collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc.) and botched raids (officers barge into the wrong house or even the wrong building) tend to go hand in hand with this overuse of SWAT teams, with tragic consequences for the homeowner who mistakes a SWAT raid for a home invasion, such as the 107-year-old Arkansas man killed after a “shootout” with a SWAT team or the 19-year-old Seattle woman who was accidentally shot in the leg by police after she refused to show her hands.
Arresting Americans for altogether legal activities such as picking their kids up from school, holding Bible studies at home, and selling goat cheese. Unfortunately, our government’s tendency towards militarization and overcriminalization, in which routine, everyday behaviors become targets of regulation and prohibition, have resulted in Americans getting arrested for making and selling unpasteurized goat cheese, cultivating certain types of orchids, feeding a whale, holding Bible studies in their homes, and picking their kids up from school. This last incident actually happened in Tennessee, when Jim Howe, a father of two elementary school-aged kids, was arrested and jailed after insisting on walking his son home as soon as school let out rather than waiting 35 minutes for carpoolers to get their kids first.
Jailing Americans for profit. At one time, the American penal system operated under the idea that dangerous criminals needed to be put under lock and key in order to protect society. Today, as states attempt to save money by outsourcing prisons to private corporations, imprisoning Americans in private prisons run by mega-corporations has turned into a cash cow for big business, with states agreeing to maintain a 90% occupancy rate in privately run prisons for at least 20 years. And how do you keep the prisons full? By passing laws aimed at increasing the prison population, including the imposition of life sentences on people who commit minor or nonviolent crimes such as siphoning gasoline.
Transforming the schools into quasi-prisons and teaching young people that they have no rights. Zero tolerance policies which criminalize childish behavior continue to destroy the lives of young people such as the 14-year-old arrested for texting in class; the 6-year-olds suspended for using their fingers as imaginary guns in a schoolyard game of cops and robbers; the 12-year-old hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker; or the 17-year-old charged with a felony for keeping his tackle box in his car parked on school property, potentially derailing his chances of entering the Air Force.
Simply Jews: I think that we all (all technologically developed countries) are moving to a situation where eavesdropping of the high-tech kind becomes more and more available and cheap to the level of commodity. Even a private person, sufficiently technically-minded and of an exceedingly voyeuristic mind, is able today to listen to our mobile calls and track our location. For the states, suitably equipped and able to bend the law’s ear, all possible means to do the same on a grander scale are more easily available, of course.
Since the curious state of affairs, where the act of secret surveillance itself is covered by another set of laws or regulations that make the mere intent of such surveillance secret, a person under watch may never know he/she is spied upon.
But the real test of our freedom comes when the use of the surveillance crosses the border between protection of state and its citizens’ well being into interference with our rights. Be it a hacker that divulges our private information for the sake of it or the state that applies pressure on us in pursuance of some murky goals – we all are vulnerable to unethical use of our private information, even the most innocent and pure.
And if we don’t succeed (and quite soon) to build into our democracies enough protective measures to prevent misuse or malicious use of information against us: the whole idea of democracy and our personal freedom may go down the drain.
JoshuaPundit: There’s no question in my mind that we are slowly evolving into a police state. And I don’t see it as a question of technology so much as the attitude of our ruling class. After all, it isn’t the tools that do the work, but the hands that control them. While the NSA spying is troublesome, (particularly without our being in a declared state of war) the real problem lies in who the data collected is going to be controlled by, and the political use it will be put to. I think we’re already seeing that.
We have a president and an administration with utter contempt for the Constitution, who feel no compunction at changing laws at will, using the IRS as their personal goon squad to go after perceived political enemies, using the Justice Department to suppress ‘enemy’ votes in two separate election while encouraging voter fraud where it suits them and defying the will of Congress repeatedly.
And they’ve largely gotten away with it, something new in our history. Any president in the past guilty of these things would have been impeached long ago.
This is the end result of the Gramschian warfare the Soviet Comintern unleashed against America in 1920. The Comintern and the Soviet Union may be history, but the corruption of our institutions and culture and the poisonous ideology that spawned is alive and well.
I even see it in the attitudes the American people are developing. The majority of Americans no longer trust their government, but have become used to the idea of an entrenched Ruling Class manipulating the country for its own benefit and plundering it at will. Many of them see the police nowadays as simply enforcers for the Ruling class and its diktats, not protectors of the average person. They largely no longer trust the media, and with good reason. This is very different from how things were even in the recent past.
These are all radical changes that are evolving slowly, but have become much obvious and strongly implemented in the last 5 years. We still have many of the apparent trappings of freedom, but the walls are definitely closing in, and unless this process is reversed even those will gradually erode away.
I can feel it.
Liberty’s Spirit: Many will talk about the NSA spying, drone warfare, rendition, Gitmo, IRS scandal and other questionable actions by our government. But in truth the Supreme Court has overseen, or will oversee, these abuses and will honestly decide what will become of those laws and governmental actions. Does it move us toward a police state or is this just the reality in our technological age? Balancing scientific discovery with war, politics and economic reality is not easy. Our society has to develop a way to deal with these new challenges and deal with them honestly.
Furthermore, as long as discussion and political argument can be had then we have not reached a point of no return. As long as we have members of the political class who are willing to counterbalance the extremes of the alternate party then we are still a free nation. As long as we have access to alternative media that can smoke out the lies and disingenuous nature of the ruling party then we have not lost our freedom. As long as we can move about, educate ourselves as we please, or work at our preferred profession, then we have not lost our way and a police state is not a reality.
But ultimately, the true test of whether we are moving toward a police state will occur when the people no longer have the ability to defend themselves against a totalitarian government. History has shown us that the first thing a dictator does is to confiscate its citizens’ guns. When our government places so many restrictions on owning a weapon that it makes it onerous to defend your own home, then and only then will we move toward a police state.
On this Holocaust Remembrance Day it is also important to remember that everything that dictatorships did, or still do, everything the Nazis, the Communists and even the brutal evil we see today in Syria, was allowed by a nation’s law. Law will not protect us if we do not stand up for what is right and just in this world. We cannot have freedom at the point of the government’s gun or when we live in fear of our own government.
The law and the US Constitution do not give us the right to defend ourselves. Our rights come from nature and nature’s God. It is our human right to be a free people. And a free people have the right of self-defense.
As Jefferson wrote, “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” Molon Labe.
The Glittering Eye: I’m not sure how you’d go about quantifying that. While I’m concerned about the rule of law and excessive police power, I think there are also countervailing forces. It’s becoming harder and harder to do anything without leaving a record of it and once there’s a record it will have a way of becoming public with alarming speed.
Although the authorities are trying their darnedest to prevent the recording and public recording of their activities, that’s fighting an uphill and, I think, ultimately futile battle. Sunlight is our friend.
Nice Deb: Wikipedia defines a police state as “a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic, and political life of the population. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.
The inhabitants of a police state experience restrictions on their mobility, and on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views, which are subject to police monitoring or enforcement. Political control may be exerted by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional state.”
Yes, we’re moving closer to a police state and it started with Holder’s refusal to prosecute the New Black Panthers for clear voter intimidation in 2009 – a clear signal that under his leadership at the DOJ, there would be selective enforcement of the nation’s laws. After five years of Holder’s corrupt, discriminatory hiring practices, we now have the most radically political DOJ in history. They strictly apply the letter of the law when it comes to conservatives, but totally disregard laws that effect favored constituencies. A complete housecleaning of the DOJ is going to be needed if a Republican ever wins another national election. And by complete housecleaning, I mean EVERYBODY.
As it stands, with left-wing radicals in places of power throughout the government, it should come as no surprise to anyone that entire departments have been weaponized to target the president’s enemies. One of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included his alleged attempt at misusing of the IRS. What Obama has done with the IRS goes way beyond that.
Just the way the president and his allies speak about conservatives – as if they’re dangerous “extremists” in need of some kind of check – is a scandal in and of itself. They talk about the decent, God-fearing, law abiding, patriotic, constitution-loving tea party as if they’re enemies of the state. And this in turn inspires the Regime’s depraved fellow travelers throughout the institutional left – low-lifes who exemplify everything that is wrong with America – to pile on with even more vicious and deplorable language. They are the Regime’s shock troops.
And we have the perfect storm with an MSM that looks the other way when Wendy Davis’ allies chant “hail Satan” in the Texas State House (nothing to see here!) – but gang up on Mike Huckabee with a vengeance when he ridicules Democrats for over-politicizing female reproductive issues. What’s truly pathetic is – when an authoritarian Regime took over a country in the past, the press didn’t voluntarily give up their freedom to communicate political truths. Our MSM does it quite cheerfully and eagerly. They operate under the assumption that the public doesn’t have a right to know what it doesn’t need to know – i.e. that which stands in the way of “fundamental transformation.”
Obama has been as clear as he can possibly be that he will bypass Congress to inflict his ruinous policies on the American people. He has dictated from on high what parts of ObamaCare can be followed, and which parts can be delayed – because we’re now living in a country in which the president can bully insurance companies into doing whatever he tells them to do regardless of the law. The law is apparently whatever Obama wants it to be at any given moment – an exercise of raw political power by the executive – that’s pretty much the dictionary definition of “police state.”
The Independent Sentinel: I don’t think we are living in a police state but I do think we are headed in that direction and it could happen.
The Administration is completely lawless.
Our rule of law is not being followed.
Eric Holder will prosecute crimes against whites but not blacks if J. Christian Adams is to be believed and if the facts are to be believed. Holder wouldn’t prosecute the New Black Panthers but he will prosecute one of the few whites guilty of a knockout crime. Knockout crimes are also known as polar bear hunting because they are aimed at whites generally.
The military is being transformed into a social work agency and the people working in government agencies are being armed.
Chuck Schumer just told the IRS to target conservatives again and no one in the mainstream media cares because they are of the same mind as he is. We no longer have a free press.
The president will give a speech on Tuesday in which he will declare his right to disregard the Separation of Powers.
Everything seems upside down but it’s not if you believe we are heading towards totalitarianism and if you believe what we are dealing with is tyranny.
It reminds me of an incident I observed in Italy. A gypsy put a piece of cardboard under the chin of a tourist and at the same time, she started to pull his camera off from around his neck. I yelled at her to stop while the victim stood dazed and confused – helpless really.
She ran off without the camera and he wandered off without saying thank you. The reason it went down like this was because his mind didn’t accept what was taking place – it was too strange and unexpected. That’s what the activities of this government feel like.
The Tea Party people are terrorists because they are waving flags and quoting the Constitution but it’s perfectly fine for a governor to tell conservatives they aren’t welcomed in his state. Occupiers, who were almost totally comprised of communists and socialists and who seek the overthrow of our government, are admired, and courses are given in colleges extolling them.
This is not normal.
This president is trying to change our core belief systems, our work ethics, our adherence to religious values.
Anything could happen under this Administration and in this climate. A police state is possible.
Well, there you have it.
Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.
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