Saturday, April 20, 2013

News Journal editorial page endorses an increasingly invasive police state

In the national glee that apparently ensued following the capture of the second Boston bombing suspect, one aspect of the conversation is strangely lacking in the MSM:  a discussion of the implications of the massive manhunt for the civil liberties of American citizens.

What is almost as disquieting as the fact of the bombing itself is the fact that law enforcement had an effective brigade of armored infantry ready on a moment's notice to move into and shut down one of America's largest metropolitan areas.

I remember working in 2002 with representatives of the Department of Homeland Security on potential responses to urban terrorism at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama.  The executive assistant for homeland security to the Governor of South Carolina assured me that homeland security spending would be "the new revenue sharing that militarizes police across America in ten years."

At the time I thought he was crazy.  [By the way, two years later he quit his job in government and has since made a mint as a consulting showing local police departments how to acquire military hardware through homeland security grants.  So it goes.]

I have been far less surprised to discover that--almost to a person--those who screamed the loudest about President Bush shredding the US Constitution and civil rights have been among the most acquiescent to President Obama doing exactly the same thing [although in a more intense, programmatic fashion].  Joe Biden says things that are scarier than what Dick Cheney used to say, and now it evokes no comment.

Which brings me back [in an exercise of increasing futility] to the editorial page of the News Journal, which today opines that in the wake of the Boston bombing we all all need to give up more civil rights [for kicks and grins I have put my own responses in between the lines in red]:

We have been under threat for more than a decade. 
 Extremists, terrorists, and enemy nations have been a threat for far more than a decade; don't you guys read your own newspaper?
Fanatics have been trying to kill us for that long.  
 No, uh, guys, the first World Trade Center bombing happened in the 1990s.  Among other events you appear to have forgotten.
Our security forces have protected us until now. They will continue to do so in the future. 
Notice the Orwellian change here:  not "law enforcement" has protected us, not "our military" has protected us; not "our intelligence community" has protected us.  "Our security forces."  This is a term that is as dangerous as it is ambiguous.
But now it is obvious that more of that burden will have to pass on to the rest of us. 
That "burden" is, as we shall see, the passive acceptance of more restrictions on our right to travel, our right to assemble, our right to free speech.
We will have to become more conscious of packages and strange movements. 
Report you neighbor.
We will have to become more patient when packages are searched. 
Quit criticizing the TSA for groping you at airports.
We will have to be more security minded. Is this a loss? In a way, it is. But Americans always have shared the burden of security. We simply will have to be more responsible for our own well being. 
"In a way" this is a loss?  At the point that free people decide that security is more important than freedom this is just a "sort of" loss.  Damn it, Steve, stop making a "fetish" of freedom.  All that matters in a society is the physical safety of the citizens, no matter what the cost in money or government restrictions.
That element of security will have to take form now. Today we are responsible and we must act accordingly. 
 John Sweeney has looked into the future, and it is full of a Federal Security Force, officially constituted and answerable to no one but the Executive Branch.  You don't need to know because IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
Our willingness to do so will, in time, become our best protection against those who seek to destroy us.
This is almost akin to the a-holes who used to tell women being raped just to relax and try to enjoy it.  If you are willing to surrender your rights, in exchange, we will keep you safe.  On our terms.

You can already see it happening, as the government reaches the "objective" decision to deny the arrested Boston bomber his Miranda rights, and instead of being circumspect about it, trumpets that decision to the world as being in our best interest.

A lot of people ask me why I am a Libertarian rather than a Republican or Democrat.  The answer is simple, at least for me:  neither of the two major political parties actually cares about civil liberties.  They only care about the revenue pie and winning votes by lulling people into believing that their only choice is to trade what's left of their freedom for the security of a police state.

I may not win--ever!--but at least I will be able to say honestly to my grandchildren that I never stopped protesting it, never stopped fighting it, never stopped trying to make other people see.

And if you need a homework assignment, go back to 1948 in the Wayback Machine and read Jack Williamson's prophetic short story "With Folded Hands."


kavips said...

Well done... I was thinking the same thing.

Anonymous said...


tom said...

Sadly, the disgusting idea that there is a "public safety" exception to the 5th & 6th Amendments is not an invention of Obama & Holder's Dept of "Justice".

The Supreme Court came up with this abomination in 1984 in the case New York v. Quarles.

Delaware Watch said...

Apparently, there is some ambiguity and dispute about the officials "order" to citizens to stay at home. Some said it was binding; others that it was strongly recommended. Also, no one was compelled to let the police enter their home to search it. Unlike you I was not surprised to see many military vehicles show up on the scene. One need only pay attention while driving on the roads. I frequently see them driving in convoys. I have seen them do this often in all of the many states I've lived in. The US isn't an explicit police state, but it is an effective one. A smattering of writings like Chomsky's demonstrates it is so. Finally, your shot at me for often saying that you make a fetishism of freedom is a bit of a caricature because I agree with you right Libertarians on matters of civil rights. I use the fetishism charge principally in two respects: 1) How you right libertarians oddly defend the veritable totalitarian control of the private business sector by businesses under the rubric of liberty: 2) how you right Libertarians fetishsize liberty to the exclusion of any other principle important Human beings like well being and equality, the latter of which you have no vital concept at all. But I agree with you about the overwhelming and highly expert shutting down of a major metropolitan area. Very scary, but not nearly as frightening as the national applause for the effort.

Steve Newton said...


Actually it wasn't intended as a "shot," it was more the weird whimsical mood that I was in. But reading it, I can see it came across that way, so I apologize.

I was not surprised by the military vehicles because I have been paying attention as well.

What I find disquieting is the effectiveness with which this occupation of Boston was planned and executed, particularly as it was obviously planned for something much different than the pursuit of a single suspect.

I intend to deal with that somewhat more technically at a later date.

And, by the way, I tend to think of myself as a "left" libertarian. I suspect that to you all libertarians are inherently "on the right" but at least put me on the "left" part of that "right." ;)

tom said...


I don't understand your terminology.

Please explain, in the context of this chart, what you mean by "right libertarian".

If for some reason you have a problem with that diagram, feel free to substitute your own as long as you adequately explain why it is superior.

tom said...


Libertarians believe very strongly in equality of opportunity.

We do not believe in Equality in the Harrison Bergeron sense, which is what all governments promote but so far have failed to achieve.

Delaware Watch said...

Thanks Tom and Steve for your comments and questions. I teach a course on Sundays so I can't clarify my view, which are rather complex, now. I will try to return this afternoon and provide more information. For now allow me to refer you to a YouTube video of Chomsky that mostly summarizes and reflects my libertarianism as well as my views on liberty, equality, free markets, etc. Importantly, Chomsky's statement reflects my ultimate view but given that we aren't close to a libertarian society in the way I envisage it, I do adopt SOME temporary positions that are reluctantly statist because the authoritarianism of the private sector workplace in the USA (and the opposite in some other nations) troubles me more than the authoritarianism of the state. More about that topic later. Here's the link. The video is short.

Jay Booth said...

With Folded Hands was good.

tom said...


still waiting for your explanation.

a video in which Noam Chomsky says (essentially) that we cannot debate him because he is the ultimate arbiter of what our words mean does nothing to clear up my confusion.

and, Chomsky's sophistry aside, the definitions of libertarian and libertarianism in the Oxford English Dictionary look entirely compatible with those in American dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster and American Heritage. So do the definitions in every foreign language dictionary that i can hope to comprehend (Spanish, German, Italian & Greek)

This leads me to conclude that Chomsky is full of shit and should have stuck to linguistics, a field in which he did actually make significant contributions to our understanding.

Hopefully you and I will be able to agree on a common vocabulary, since we are both commenting on a a blog written in American English and more or less dedicated to Delaware issues. Otherwise, no rational discourse is possible and you might as well just bark at the moon.