Most people have heard it explained that if you place a frog in a pot of water and slowly boil it that the frog will happily swim in its personal little death trap. The incremental rise in temperature deadens its senses (no pun intended) to what is really going on until it’s far too late. By the time the frog realizes he is in danger, he is essentially cooked. That is where the United States finds itself today, and that is why ‘Police State U.S.A.’ by Cheryl K. Chumley is worth checking out.
The problem with the American police state (itself a very different animal than what traditionally comes to mind when someone hears the term) is that it has come about by slowly chipping away at individual liberties. Tens-of-thousands of seemingly insignificant laws are passed, each one worded in a way that allows politicians and those in positions of power to filch just a wee bit of freedom here or there. Over time those “wee” bits have added up, and we now find ourselves in a world where the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is setting up roadblocks and pulling over random people for “voluntary” DNA samples that don’t come across as voluntary to the individuals who are being ushered to the side of the interstate.
Besides, is it even lawful for NHTSA officers to pull over Americans who have done absolutely nothing wrong? In 2014, the answer appears to be: ” Don’t worry about it. Just do what we say.”
One of the many illustrative quotes in ‘Police State U.S.A.’ comes from Daniel Webster:
“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, bu they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” — Daniel Webster
What Cheryl K. Chumley does so well in her book is the way she highlights many of the random stories that a person hears about on the radio and says, “What? Is that true?” into one place. She chronicles examples of local, state and federal overreach to paint a picture of a nation that has long forgotten how important “the right to be left alone” really is.
Most Americans aren’t familiar with asset forfeiture laws or property seizures and how it could affect them as law-abiding citizens. (Hint: some laws are seemingly written by men who view “innocent until proven guilty” as a quaint little phrase only fit for Hollywood movies.) Likewise, many Americans don’t consider the implications of having a president who says things like “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone, and I’m ready to use them. And I’m not just going to sit around and wait for Congress to pass legislation.”
Checks and balances? Laws? The legislative process and the rule of law? Psssht! Who needs all that when you’ve got the imperial presidency at your disposal and an administrative state eager to do your bidding?
Ms. Chumley does an excellent job of detailing the current and future threats to our rights to life, liberty and property, but she does so in an approachable manner. Whereas many journalists and D.C. politicians talk down to their audience, Ms. Chumley (a writer with The Washington Times) delivers her information in ways that are reminiscent of conversations you might have with an intelligent and friendly neighbor.
‘Police State U.S.A.,’ unlike many other books that cover civil liberty infringements, does a great job of compiling all those times when the pot of water had the temperature turned up just a notch before our so-called “good masters” slipped their hands behind their back. Many books focus solely on the hot-button issues (e.g., The Patriot Act), but Ms. Chumley’s book deftly runs the gamut to show readers just how insidious of a web our power-hungry “masters” can weave.
As Americans, we are caught in a deadly trap of our own making. ‘Police State U.S.A.’ is a worthwhile primer for anyone who is interested in untangling the nation and setting their fellow Americans free.
Editor’s Note: In full disclosure, I work with Cheryl K. Chumley. However, I promise you that I would not create a blog post on ‘Police State U.S.A.’ if I did not feel it was worth mentioning. I would be more than happy to discuss my professional relationship with her in the comments section, if need be.