‘Police State U.S.A.’ exposes the truth about our ‘good masters’ — they still want to rule over others

Police State USA

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.

 

What an Army Brigadier General’s sexually explicit emails tell us about the dangers of NSA spying

The Washington Post recently wrote up a piece on the military’s top brass “behaving badly.” While the story itself is important — if the Pentagon’s leaders can’t maintain their military manner, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how the junior ranks will respond — one case in particular caught my eye. Army Brigadier General Martin P. Schweitzer rightly got himself in quite a bit of trouble for writing lewd emails about North Carolina Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers — but when viewed within the context of the recently NSA spying scandals it becomes much more interesting.

The Washington Posted reported on the emails:

“First — she is smoking hot,” Schweit­zer wrote [to Brigadier Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair.] “Second — briefing went well … she was engaging … had done her homework. She wants us to know she stands with us and will work/push to get the Fort Bragg family resourced.”

That, and what came next, led prosecutors to turn over the e-mail chain to the Army inspector general for a full investigation.

“He sucks 🙂 still needs to confirm hotness,” Sinclair teased in a reply.

More than an hour later, Schweitzer responded with an apology for the delay, saying he had masturbated “3 times over the past 2 hours” after the meeting with the congresswoman.

Inappropriate. Out of line. Worth more than the “memoranda of concern,” since they would have done far worse to a junior NCO for a similar offense. Regardless, think of these emails within the context of the millions upon millions of communications that are swept up by the NSA on a daily basis. Think of the politicians, judges, law enforcement personnel and business leaders who have their personal emails and text messages on file within NSA databases. How many embarrassing emails does the federal government have on hand to make sure people within positions of power “play ball” on controversial issues?

During the State of the Union the president wanted to talk about raising minimum wage for new federal contractors to $10.10 instead of the legitimate privacy concerns millions of Americans have in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks. During the State of the Union the president wanted to crack jokes about “Mad Men” workplace environments for women instead of the millions of women the NSA spies on every day through the collection of “metadata” (i.e., whatever data the government wants at any given time). It’s a shame, because the nation is due for a serious discussion regarding the 4th Amendment.

While you may not make obscene jokes or engage in career-threatening behavior with your friends and coworkers, the likelihood that a policy maker or business leader who affects your life has done so is rather high. (Paging Anthony Weiner. Paging Anthony Weiner. You have a call at the front desk, Mr. Weiner.) It makes no sense to slough off privacy concerns because you consider yourself a model of decency — or because you’re depraved and don’t care because your ambitions start and end with your Xbox.

It’s fun to laugh at the officer for making masturbation jokes with his buddies. It feels good to get on a moral pedestal and shame him for objectifying a woman, but the truth is that everyone has skeletons in their closet. Nobody is perfect, and a federal government that has unmitigated access to our personal correspondences is bone-chillingly frightening. The fact that the president of the United States chose to ignore the issue in favor of applause lines (e.g., “I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds!”) is, at this point, just sad.

Hollywood’s hilarious ‘Stop Watching Us’ video — plenty of Nixon, zero Obama

NIxon

Hollywood is upset about the NSA spying scandal first exposed by Edward Snowden. It’s livid. In fact, it is so angry that it thinks Richard Nixon is still the president.

Maggie Gyllenhall, Oliver Stone, John Cusack and Will Wheaton all lend a hand to ‘Stop Watching Us’, which is hilariously edited together without a single photo of President Obama making the cut.

Someone should tell “Wesley Crusher” that it’s hard to take his group’s concern over NSA surveillance  seriously when President Obama (the guy who has a “Terror Tuesday” kill list) is missing in action.

Instead of including a shot of Diane Feinstein, the woman who defended NSA spying revelations on the grounds that innocent Americans might become terrorists “in the future,” we get Richard Nixon.

Instead of seeing an image of President Obama — the guy who came up with the amazingly Orwellian-sounding ‘Disposition Matrix’ — we get Richard Nixon.

Instead of getting pictures of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, whose job is to spin, spin, spin NSA scandals away on a daily basis … we get Richard Nixon.

Classic.

Watch the video and have a good laugh. The only other option would be to cry.

Nixon Stop Watching Us Hollywood

Oh hey, there’s Nixon again.

Nixon Stop Watching Us

And there he is again. Weird. It’s almost like it’s 1970 instead of 2013.

John Cusack Stop Watching Us

Apparently, John Cusack hasn’t been reading his New York Times, or he’d know that Richard Nixon isn’t the president and hasn’t been for a long time.

Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers. …

A senior administration official quoted in The Times online Thursday afternoon about the Verizon order offered the lame observation that the information does not include the name of any caller, as though there would be the slightest difficulty in matching numbers to names. …

The defense of this practice offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to be preventing this sort of overreaching, was absurd. She said on Thursday that the authorities need this information in case someone might become a terrorist in the future.

Poor John. He wants so terribly to be taken seriously, but his ideological world view is so sacrosanct that he can’t bring himself to take part in a project that brings President Obama to task in any meaningful way. Maybe a few more years of scandals will bring him around.