The Senate impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump confirms historian Henry Adams’s adage a century ago that politics “has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.” The impeachment process was a farce that should fortify Americans’ disdain for Washington. Considering how Democrats are using the January 6 clash at the Capitol to justify enacting a new domestic terrorism law, Americans need to recognize the frauds that permeated this process from the start.
At last week’s trial, House impeachment manager Jaime Raskin (D-MD) boasted to the Senate, “I think we have done an exceedingly thorough and comprehensive job with all the evidence that was available.” But the House Democrats did not bother accumulating evidence before the trial. Instead, House impeachment managers showed up at the Senate with video clips and tweets and a bunch of overheated rhetoric and thought that should suffice. House impeachment manager Ted Lieu summarized the proceedings: “Trump is receiving any and all process that he is due.”
Shortly before the Senate was expected to cast the final vote on the trial, Raskin announced that the House team wanted to call an actual witness. Democratic senators first voted to call witnesses and then, a couple of hours later, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced that, instead of witnesses, they would simply add one news article based on hearsay to the official record. Unfortunately, the only laughter that erupted on the Senate floor occurred when Trump’s lawyer threatened to summon witnesses for depositions to his law office in “Philly-delphia.” (His house was vandalized after the trial ended.)
The formal article of impeachment condemned Trump for inciting supporters who “unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel.” House manager Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) condemned “the violent insurrectionists, criminals who killed and injured police officers.” Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the House Democratic Caucus chair, declared, “Blood is on the hands of every single House Republican sycophant.”
Politicians have sanctified themselves by wildly exaggerating the threat they faced on January 6. Raskin wailed to the Senate: “All around me, people were calling their wives and their husbands, their loved ones to say goodbye.” Representative Cicilline declared, “Senators, remember, as one of you said, during this attack, they could have killed us all—our staff, the officers protecting all of us, everyone.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) declared, “We came close to half of the House nearly dying“ from the attackers. But no members of Congress suffered any physical harm.
The only person who was shot at the Capitol that day was Ashli Babbitt, a thirty-five-year-old Air Force veteran; she was killed by a Capitol policeman at point-blank range. The most flagrant “weapon” case involving protestors was that of sixty-year-old Richard Barnett, who achieved notoriety after being photographed with his feet on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. Barnett faces a felony weapons charge and ten years in prison for carrying with him a ZAP Hike ‘n Strike walking stick/stun gun that Amazon sells for $98. (Barnett would have been outgunned by the two thousand Capitol Police officers carrying Glocks with twenty-two rounds.) Barnett, like many other protestors, is being legally scourged for his bad attitude. Barnett was ordered jailed until trial later this year, in part because federal judge Beryl Howell was enraged that Barnett told a reporter he had “scratched my balls“ in Pelosi’s office.
January 6 also quickly metamorphosed into epic comparisons to fan national outrage. Schumer compared that ruckus to Pearl Harbor—a “day of infamy.” Schumer complained that the “temple to democracy was desecrated … our offices vandalized.” Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) compared an incursion that broke some windows and furniture with the 1814 British invasion that torched the Capitol. But most of the eight hundred protestors and others who entered the Capitol left peacefully after a few hours. As journalist Michael Tracey quipped, “Who knew it was so easy to squash an ‘armed insurrection’—just announce a curfew and most of the ‘insurrectionists’ will voluntarily abide.”
Schumer claimed that Trump’s “incitement” of the January 6 protestors was “the most despicable act that any president has ever committed.” This is “Trump-washing” all of the prior official crimes in American history. From President Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears to President Woodrow Wilson imposing Jim Crow on a federal basis and dishonestly dragging the nation into World War I, to President Harry Truman unnecessarily dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, to President Lyndon Johnson dishonestly dragging this nation far deeper into a Vietnam quagmire, to President George W. Bush dishonestly launching the Iraq War, there have been far more damaging presidential abuses of power than sometimes reckless Trump’s blather.
Democrats are also exploiting the January 6 Capitol clash to sanctify the 2020 presidential election. House impeachment manager Madeleine Dean (D-PA) declared, “Trump’s conduct over many months incited his supporters to believe his big lie, that the only way he could lose was if the election were rigged.” Schumer hit the same point, deriding Trump for a telling “a big lie that the election was stolen and that he was the rightful winner.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that Republican members of Congress who refused to ratify the Electoral College results “gave aid and comfort to [protestors] with the idea that they were embracing a lie—that the election did not have legitimacy.” But if only traitors would not vote to ratify the Electoral College results, why did the Founding Fathers include that safeguard in the Constitution? And was Raskin guilty of treason when he challenged Electoral College votes for Donald Trump in 2017?
The 2020 election was determined in part by the novel doctrine that verifying ballots was a crime against democracy. Biden won thanks to fewer than fifty thousand votes in a small number of swing states that abandoned many of the existing safeguards for ballots, including most of the security procedures for absentee or mail-in ballots. The attorney general for Texas complained in a brief to the Supreme Court about the “unconstitutional relaxation of ballot-integrity protections in [Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania] election laws.” The Supreme Court did not take that case but that was no endorsement of last year’s electoral reforms. Though most of the media acts as if all the issues regarding the 2020 election are long since settled, legal disputes continue. On January 27, a Virginia circuit court struck down a late rule change by the Virginia Board of Elections permitting the counting of mail-in ballots that arrived three days after the election without a postmark. Similar arbitrary decrees happened across the country, probably spurring far more dubious votes than in prior elections. None of this proves the election was actually stolen, but there are plenty of legitimate questions about the electoral conduct of numerous state governments.
Democrats are seeking to use last year’s electoral innovations as the model to impose sweeping federal mandates on every state election system in the nation. H.R. 1, the “For the People Act of 2021,” would compel all states to rely on mass mail-in ballots and other “reforms” justified last year in part due to the covid pandemic.
But Democrats’ disdain for verifying votes’ intent has a gaping loophole. Apparently citizens are much more trustworthy when they conferring political power than when they seek to revoke it. Californians are launching a massive effort to recall Democratic governor Gavin Newsom. Richard Grenell, one of the likely Republican gubernatorial challengers, scoffed on Twitter on Friday: “Suddenly, California officials want aggressive signature verifications. The hypocrisy with politicians is a sickness” (link added).
Perhaps the biggest danger from the impeachment saga is that Democrats will exploit the outrage they are fanning to enact a new catch-all “domestic terrorism” law. Biden denounced the January 6 protestors as “domestic terrorists”—a theme echoed and expanded by many of his Democratic colleagues. Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) suggested that it was “time to call Republicans the terrorist right.” Since there are already plenty of federal laws to prosecute the minority of protestors who assaulted police, why do we need a new law? Former representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) warned that proposed new terrorism legislation could target anyone who happens “to be a white person, obviously likely male, libertarians, anyone who loves freedom, liberty, maybe has an American flag outside their house, or people who, you know, attended a Trump rally.”
After the Senate’s failure to convict Trump, hatred and rage will continue to permeate Washington. The latest impeachment saga simply confirms Thomas Paine’s adage: “The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.” Score: another victory for the Swamp.
Many members of Congress remain outraged at the Trump protestors who charged into the Capitol on January 6. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently declared, “We must get to the truth of how this happened…Our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to investigate and report on the facts and causes.”
But another pious fraud from the political establishment is the last thing that America needs right now. The 9/11 Commission should be a warning that Washington dignitaries are the last people we should trust to expose the truth.
After the 9/11 attacks, a joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee investigation in late 2002 exposed a vast array of federal intelligence and law enforcement failures preceding the hijacking of four airliners. Because the Bush administration often stonewalled the Senate investigation, 9/11 widows and widowers pressured Congress to create an independent commission to investigate.
Bush and Republican and Democratic congressional leaders stacked the commission with former congressmen, high-ranking government officials, and others entwined in the Washington establishment (“Insiders all,” as a New York Timesheadline noted). Beverly Eckert, a 9/11 widow, complained, “We wanted journalists, we wanted academics…. We did not want politicians.”
“Tyranny in form is the first step towards tyranny in substance,” warned Senator John Taylor two hundred years ago in his forgotten classic, Tyranny Unmasked. As the massive National Guard troop deployment in Washington enters its second month, much of the media and many members of Congress are thrilled that it will extend until at least mid-March. But Americans would be wise to recognize the growing perils of the militarization of American political disputes.
The military occupation of Washington was prompted by the January 6 clashes at the Capitol between Trump supporters and law enforcement, in which three people (including one Capitol policeman) died as a result of the violence. Roughly eight hundred protestors and others unlawfully entered the Capitol, though many of them entered nonviolently through open doors and most left without incident hours later.
The federal government responded by deploying twenty-five thousand National Guard troops to prevent problems during President Joe Biden’s swearing-in—the first inauguration since 1865 featuring the capital city packed with armed soldiers. Protests were almost completely banned in Washington for the inauguration.
Instead of ending after the muted inauguration celebration, the troop deployment was extended for the Senate impeachment trial. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) declared, “So long as Donald Trump is empowered by Senate Republicans, there is still the chance that he is going to incite another attempt at the Capitol.” But the Senate vote on Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) motion labeling the trial as unconstitutional signaled that the trial will be anticlimactic because Trump is unlikely to be convicted. The actual trial may be little more than a series of pratfalls, alternating between histrionic Democratic House members and wild-swinging, table-pounding Trump lawyers. A pointless deluge of political vitriol will make a mockery of Biden’s calls for national unity.
Then the troop deployment was extended into at least mid-March because of unidentified threats made to members of Congress. Acting Army Secretary John Whitley announced last week: “There are several upcoming events—we don’t know what they are—over the next several weeks, and they’re concerned that there could be situations where there are lawful protests, First Amendment–protected protests, that could either be used by malicious actors, or other problems that could emerge.”
“We don’t know what they are” but somebody heard something somewhere, so the military deployment will continue. Threats have occurred in waves toward members of Congress at least since the farm crisis of the 1980s, but prior menacing did not result in the occupation of the capital city.
Perpetuating the troop deployment is also being justified by melodramatic revisionism. In congressional testimony last week, Capitol Police acting chief Yogananda Pittman described the January 6 clash at the Capitol as “a terrorist attack by tens of thousands of insurrectionists.” Apparently, anyone who tromped from the scene of Trump’s ludicrous “I won by a landslide” spiel to the Capitol was a terrorist, or at least an “insurrectionist” (which is simply “terrorist” spelled with more letters). Is “walking on the Mall with bad thoughts” sufficient to get classified as a terrorist in the Biden era?
Placing thousands of troops on the streets of the nation’s capital could be a ticking time bomb. The longer the National Guard is deployed in Washington, the greater the peril of a Kent State–caliber catastrophe. The Ohio National Guard’s volley of fire in 1970 that killed four students and wounded nine others was a defining moment for the Vietnam era.
Forty years later, the Cleveland Plain Dealer published an investigation of the Kent State shooting based on new analyses of audio recordings from the scene. The Plain Dealerconcluded that an FBI informant who was photographing student protestors fired four shots from his .38-caliber revolver after students began threatening him. That gunfire started barely a minute before the Ohio National Guard opened fire. Gunshots from the FBI informant apparently spooked guard commanders into believing they were taking sniper fire, spurring the order to shoot students. The informant denied having fired, but witnesses testified differently. (The FBI hustled the informant from the scene and he later became an undercover narcotics cop in Washington, DC.) Though there is no evidence that the FBI sought to provoke carnage at Kent State, FBI agents involved in COINTELPRO (the Counterintelligence Program) in the 1960s and 1970s boasted of “false flag” operations which provoked killings.
If some malicious group wanted to plunge this nation into chaos and fear, National Guard troops at a checkpoint would be an easy target—at least for the first moments after they were fired upon (most of the troops do not have ammo magazines in their rifles). The sweeping reaction to January 6 might be far surpassed if troops are gunned down regardless of whether the culprits were right-wing extremists, Antifa, or foreign infiltrators. An attack on the troops would likely perpetuate the military occupation and potentially spur Biden to declare martial law.
Last spring, when riots erupted after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, President Trump warned that “the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests.” Many activists were justifiably appalled at the specter of Trump seizing dictatorial power over areas wracked by violent protests. But the danger remains regardless of who is president.
Martial law is the ultimate revocation of constitutional rights: anyone who disobeys soldiers’ orders can be shot. There are plenty of malevolent actors here and abroad who would relish seeing martial law declared in Washington, the paramount disgrace for the world’s proudest democracy.
Unfortunately, Biden would have plenty of support initially if he proclaimed that violence in Washington required him to declare martial law. As the Washington Post noted in 2018, a public opinion poll showed that 25 percent of Americans believed “a military takeover was justified if there were widespread corruption or crime.” The Journal of Democracy reported that polls showed that only 19 percent of Millennials in the US believed that it would be illegitimate “in a democracy for the military to take over when the government is incompetent or failing to do its job.” But trusting to military rule for Millennial wish fulfillment would be the biggest folly of them all. Support for martial law is the ultimate proof of declining political literacy in this nation.
Regardless of the risks, some politicians are clinging to the presence of the troops in Washington like Linus clutching his “security blanket” in a Peanuts cartoon. Will we now see regular alarms from a long series of politicians and political appointees working to “keep up the fear”?
History is littered with stories of nations scourged by “temporary” martial law that perpetuated itself. Anyone who believes America is immune should recall Senator Taylor’s 1821 warning against presuming “our good theoretical system of government is a sufficient security against actual tyranny.”
One of the most positive developments from last year’s political strife was a stronger focus on police abuses and no-knock raids. Some states and cities have imposed new restrictions, others are working toward greater transparency when it comes to police shootings. Unfortunately, Maryland, a state that has wrestled with some of the most egregious SWAT and no-knock cases in the country, remains mired in controversy.
Despite controversies, statistics were no longer collected after 2014. Strong police unions have blocked numerous efforts at legislative reform. As a result, Marylanders continue to be vexed by the same kind of deadly no-knock debacles that killed Breonna Taylor last March in Louisville, Kentucky.
The COVID pandemic has shown how easy it is to make people hate anyone who is not as frightened as themselves. Since last March, politicians and health officials have fanned fears to commandeer far more control over Americans’ daily lives. And millions of Americans have been happy to condemn any violators of the endlessly changing rules.
After the start of the COVID pandemic, my local Harris Teeter grocery store in Montgomery County, Maryland voluntarily made extensive changes to safeguard its employees and customers. But one panicky customer wailed to the local health department that he felt unsafe while buying his bagels or whatever at the store. A health inspector swooped in and compelled the grocery store to restrict access and services in numerous pointless ways. One of the two wide doors at the front of the store was designated as “Exit Only,” with four signs attached warning customers not to enter.
On a recent Thursday, I was making a quick mid-afternoon run to that store and headed for the doors I always used adjacent to the parking lot.
I saw a customer getting ready to exit so I paused 10 feet away from the door. He was a heavyset guy in his 40s with a cop-style haircut. He was wearing a fashionable flimsy face mask that provides as much protection from COVID as wrapping your head with wet toilet paper. He was pushing his loaded grocery cart through the wide doors—until he saw me. He instantly pulled his cart back and the second set of automatic doors closed while he stared at me like he’d seen a viral demon poised to strike him down.
From safely behind the glass doors, he anxiously pointed his arm to the other side of the store, where the designated ‘Entrance Only” signs paved the path to compliance.
I just stood there.
He pointed again, even more fretfully.
I just stood there.
He finally pushed his cart forward and the automatic doors opened.
“THIS IS THE EXIT—exit only!’ He exclaimed.
“Ya,” I replied nonchalantly as I waited for him to get out of the way so I could enter.
“You can’t go in here.”
“Nope. I’m entering.”
“That’s not allowed,” he declared.
“The separate exit and entrance for the store is a health department dictate that makes no sense.”
“People have to follow the rules to keep us safe,” he said with the air of someone reminding a village idiot of a self-evident truth.
“If the Health Department said grocery store customers have to hop around on one leg, would you do that, too?”
“What—are you like the people who stormed the Capitol?” he barked as his eyes bulged.
I laughed. “You’re a bootlicker.”
“You’re a bootlicker.”
“NO I’M NOT!” he sputtered.
I gave him a Chesire grin which he could maybe appreciate because I wasn’t wearing a facemask.
He stomped his feet and pushed his grocery cart off into the parking lot while muttering about someone being an “asshole.” I wasn’t sure who he was referring to so I didn’t take offense.
Montgomery County, Maryland is probably one of the most pro-government locales in the nation, thanks in part to being populated by government workers, government contractors, and other people ruined for life by high school civics classes. There is practically no spot inside its borders exempt from indignation against people who have not submitted to the latest edict.
I was recently walking along the C & O Canal Towpath, talking to two friends. None of us were masked – despite a histrionic health department dictate that everyone should cover their faces any time they step out of their house.
Coming in the opposite direction was a geezer, walking slumped forward with a long white shirt, big floppy hat, and a six-foot walking stick. He suddenly stops and points his stick at me and shouts:
“What?” I replied.
“YOU’RE NOT DISTANCING!”
“So what are you supposed to be, an Old Testament prophet?” I said. “Great—so now we got the Prophet Isaiah casting damnation on all Towpath violators.” I should have counted my blessings that he wasn’t like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner, buttonholing people and forcing them to listen to a 45-minute poem about a dead bird.
That Towpath turned out to be a hotbed for righteousness. A few weeks later, I was walking along with a group of fellow hikers, chatting about how the 2020 election had completely restored out faith in American democracy. As we neared a wooden bridge, a 50ish guy coming the other direction suddenly stopped and looked as horrified as a vampire who had spotted a Crucifix.
He lifted his shirt up over his face to provide double protection along with his facial covering, and shouted, “YOU’RE NOT WEARING MASKS!”
“We’re outside. It’s sunny. The wind is blowing,” I replied. The dude was perhaps unaware that COVID transmission hinges on “viral load,” which wasn’t happening on that hike.
“You’re violating the rules!” he proclaimed.
We just kept walking past him.
He turned and shouted at me: “So what—is your beard supposed to be your mask!?!”
I kept going.
And then he hollered: “Your beard is ugly!”
Durn! Now I finally know why my applications to be the cover model for GQ have always been rejected. Me and Rodney Dangerfield—no respect.
Unfortunately, there will likely be far more Americans screaming at each other thanks to President Biden’s new mandate compelling people to wear masks on all federal property and while traveling across state lines. Biden’s edict, like many other Washington decrees, contained an unwritten “Poohbah Exemption.” Hours after signing the mandate, Biden and family members were not wearing masks when they visited the Lincoln Memorial. At a daily press briefing, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki scoffed at a reporter’s concern over the apparent crime: “He was celebrating a historic day in our country…We have bigger things to worry about.”
Federal, state, and local government restrictions have failed to prevent more than 100 million Americans from becoming infected with COVID. But that hasn’t cured blind faith in the Iron Fist of government decrees—perhaps the only item of faith remaining for affluent people hunkered down and fretting about their next grocery delivery. TheNew York Times, in a piece headlined, “Social Distancing Informants Have Their Eyes on You,” noted, “In some cities and counties, vigilantism has been encouraged by municipalities that have set up special phone numbers, apps or online forms to report violations.”
Neighborhood websites are overflowing with complaints, such as the Boston area resident who was outraged because “four teenage girls with lacrosse sticks and white hoodies just walked past our place.” “Massachusetts residents burning up the COVID-19 snitch line,” proclaimed a Boston Herald headline in October. Two hundred thousand complaints were registered, including against a neighbor accused of “spitting,” a maskless female stripper at Kittens Gentlemen’s Club, and a deluge of accusations against people whose masks had slipped beneath their nose. Shortly before Thanksgiving, Oregon Governor Kate Brown urged neighbors to summon the police if they noticed neighbors having too many guests for the big dinner—a proposal that one Oregon local official declared “turned people into ‘second-rate slaves’ in their own homes,” the Daily Mail reported. TheNew York Times reported, “Some liberals said they thought that calling out violators was a civic duty and a matter of public health.” Many East Germans felt the same way about notifying the Stasi about subversive comments they overhead while waiting in line to buy cabbages. But some Americans should heed the warning a British publication gave to its readers: “Is constantly monitoring COVID rulebreakers wrecking your mental health?”
Much of the rage against folks who do not obey the latest commands stems from blind faith in “science and data”—the endlessly recited slogan of politicians and bureaucrats dictating new restrictions. But the unrecognized storyline of the pandemic is that the “science” is continually changing and much of the data is crap. Revered experts flip-flopped on issues such as whether surfaces are deadly contagious or whether asymptomatic individuals are perilous threats. False positive tests and catch-all definitions of COVID fatalities have made a mockery of accurate record-keeping. These problems were compounded by the World Health Organization promulgating much a stricter standard for Covid diagnoses on the day Biden was inaugurated, ceasing to count as Covid vast numbers of cases that were previously labeled as such. The new standard paves the way for a speedy reduction in Covid cases thanks to Biden’s benevolent leadership.
But Pandemic Security Theater will continue to spur snitching by people who view other Americans’ freedom as the deadliest threat to their own health. That guy who blocked the door at my local Harris Teeter may never have been called a bootlicker before. Sadly, this is a title that millions of Americans have earned over the past year.
“Have you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” was the question used in congressional hearings in the 1950s in what was portrayed as a witch hunt against leftists that blighted American freedom of speech. A new witch hunt is sweeping Washington, Silicon Valley, and much of the media based on the following question: “Do you currently have any doubts or have you ever written or said anything disparaging the vote counts of the 2020 presidential election?”
Anyone who questions the final vote of that election is now literally being derided as a traitor. Regardless of 65 million mail-in ballots (for which fraud is “vastly more prevalent,” according to the New York Times), regardless of the last minute changes in election procedures in key swing states, and regardless of controversies about computer voting software, anyone who does not attest to the final proclaimed vote count is finding themselves forever damned – or at least that is the intent of Democratic activists and social media companies.
The definition of treason has been vastly expanded in the past weeks to include members of Congress who filed a lawful challenge against the 2020 electoral tally. Even though Democrats vigorously challenged Republican presidential victories in 2000, 2004, and 2016 (Nancy Pelosi declared in May 2017, “Our  election was hijacked… Congress has a duty to #ProtectOurDemocracy”), any challenges to last November’s results suddenly became intolerable. Forty-eight Democratic members of Congress have co-sponsored a resolution calling for expelling potentially more than a hundred Republican lawmakers who pledged to object to certifying the 2020 election results. The resolution claims that those Republican lawmakers are guilty of violating the 14th Amendment’s provision prohibiting federal officeholders from having “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the [United States], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Expelling all those members of Congress would disenfranchise all the voters in those states and congressional districts in the name of punishing anyone who raised questions about the national vote count. While Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tx) maintained that America needed healing, she also declared that “accountability comes before healing.” [Pg. 136 of transcript]
The political hysteria unleashed by last week’s clash at the Capitol between police and Trump protestors poses a growing danger to Americans’ constitutional rights. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer ludicrously compared the ruckus to Pearl Harbor—a “day of infamy.” Schumer complained that the “temple to democracy was desecrated…our offices vandalized” and that rioters were able to “stalk these hallowed halls.” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) compared an incursion that broke some windows and furniture with the 1814 British invasion that torched the Capitol.
The pro-Trump mob should not have charged into the Capitol. President Donald Trump should not have fired them up with absurd claims that he won the election “by a landslide.” Even conservative firebrand Ann Coulter declared that “it was assholic [for Trump] to tell a crowd of thousands to march to the capitol.” Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani should never have called for a “trial by combat” when addressing Trump supporters. Once the protestors charged into the Capitol, Trump should have speedily called for an end to the confrontation.
Trump deserves much of the blame for the Capitol chaos. But the debacle would have been far less without blundering by congressional leadership and their small army of protectors. A Washington Post analysis of the “disastrous failure” by Capitol Police noted, “Security at the Capitol building is controlled by Congress itself.” The Capitol Police have an annual budget of almost half a billion dollars and two thousand officers – equal to the entire police forces of Cleveland or Atlanta. Video showed police standing back as people thronged inside the Capitol. The Post noted, “ One image posted on social media showed an officer taking a selfie with one of the intruders, and a video seemed to show officers opening the security fence to let Trump supporters closer.”
Politicians have been tripling the supposed threat they faced every 24 hours since last Wednesday. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said on Sunday, “We came close to half of the House nearly dying” from the attackers. The only person who was shot at the Capitol was a 35-year-old Air Force female veteran who was killed by a Capitol policeman. Fortunately, none of the protestors showed the homicidal intent akin to the Illinois man who shot four Republican congressmen in 2017 with a semi-automatic rifle at a softball field in Alexandria, Virginia. One policeman was killed when he was dragged into a mob and beaten, and a 34-year-old female Trump supporter was reportedly trampled to death in the clash between police and protestors. Another Trump supporter died of a heart attack and another protestor died of a stroke.
Rather than Pearl Harbor or a British invasion, last Wednesday’s ruckus was Lese Majeste, complete with a dude dressed like the Grand Poobah from Fred Flintstone cartoons. Many of the protestors looked like people who simply wanted to stomp their feet, shout, and take some selfies to show friends on social media what they did in Washington.
But politicians’ sense of impunity took a walloping as they received no deference on their home field. President-elect Biden said that the protestors’ action was “an assault on the citadel of liberty: the Capitol itself….An assault on the rule of law like few times we’ve ever seen it.” But rather than a “citadel of liberty,” the Capitol is the locale where politicians have negligently authorized endless assaults on the liberties of average Americans and the lives of uncounted victims around the world.
Contrast the violence that lawmakers suffered with the violence that their laws have inflicted. Most of the Trump protestors were less destructive than SWAT teams carrying out a no-knock raid—as happens thousands of times a year in American neighborhoods across the land. These attacks have been aided by a profusion of military-style equipment provided by Congress and federal agencies, as well as by the Justice Department constantly championing the legal prerogatives of law enforcement to use deadly force in almost any situation. An ACLU report characterized SWAT raids as “violent events: numerous (often 20 or more) officers armed with assault rifles and grenades approach a home, break down doors and windows (often causing property damage), and scream for the people inside to get on the floor (often pointing their guns at them).” Failure to instantly submit to SWAT raiders can be a capital offense. A New York Times investigation found that “at least 81 civilians and 13 law enforcement officers died in raids from 2010 through 2016. Scores of others were maimed or wounded.” The vast majority of members of Congress have ignored the perennial police carnage they helped bankroll around the nation.
Dozens of protestors have already been charged with “unlawful entry” for stepping foot onto the sacred ground of the Capitol. Some protestors said that they were not aware they were prohibited from entering the building. Prosecutors are rushing to charge private citizens with a crime for which federal agents are practically immune. In 1984, the Supreme Court entitled government agents to intrude onto private land without a search warrant as long as they did not venture into areas where individuals were involved in “intimate activities” (i.e., nudist camps). “No Trespassing” signs no longer applied to G-men. The same court decision unleashed government helicopters to buzz low over any private land they chose to investigate – no warrant needed. (Private helicopter operators who perform the same trick over federal buildings are entitled to front-page obituaries.)
President-elect Joe Biden condemned the protestors storming the Capitol who had deigned to “occupy offices” and were “rummaging through desks…it’s an insurrection.” A few congressional offices did have their filing cabinets opened and plundered. But where was the umbrage on Capitol Hill when the National Security Agency vacuumed up millions of Americans’ emails? Where was the outrage when Edward Snowden exposed NSA documents showing that the agency turns its surveillance dynamos on anyone “searching the web for suspicious stuff“? Thanks to lavish congressional appropriations, the NSA continues devouring Americans’ privacy.
Nor did the clashes last week compare to the violence that Congress has authorized by U.S. military forces, which are now engaged in combat in 14 nations. Most members of Congress could probably not even name half of the nations where U.S. troops are fighting. After four U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger in 2017, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Schumer admitted they did not know that a thousand U.S. troops were deployed to that African nation. Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, admitted, “We don’t know exactly where we’re at in the world militarily and what we’re doing.” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius in 2017 proudly cited an estimate from a “knowledgeable official” that “CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years.” Syria has taken no hostile action against the U.S. but few members of Congress have taken any responsibility for the carnage inflicted by the Biden-Trump intervention in the Syrian Civil War. No evidence has surfaced thus far linking Syrians to any broken windows in the Capitol.
The protestors who swarmed the Capitol were far less disruptive than the blockades that the US government has imposed on Syria, Venezuela, Iran, and other nations. US Navy ships are ready to intercede even medical supplies to those nations whose governments have raised the ire of Washington policymakers. There have been no press reports so far indicating that protestors stopped congressional offices from getting resupplied with Perrier.
In the wake of the clashes at the Capitol, Democrats are calling for a sweeping new “domestic terrorism” law that could profoundly restrict Americans’ freedom of speech and association. Many politicians have called for charging the Trump protestors with sedition—as if a ragtag mob that bumbled into a federal building and often stayed within the velvet rope lines designating paths for visitors was a bona fide threat. Sedition quickly becomes the equivalent of political heresy, spurring prosecutions that turn into witch hunts. There are already more than enough criminal laws and the feds should concentrate on discovering and vigorously prosecuting the individuals who attacked police – not on the nonviolent Trump fans who peacefully left the Capitol after a brief occupation.
Shortly before the protestors forced their way into the Capitol, Mitch McConnell declared that American democracy could go into a “death spiral of democracy” if the 2020 election result was not accepted. McConnell warned that challenging the 2020 election would mean “every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost.” He also said that “self-government requires a shared commitment to the truth.” But the mob violence at the Capitol may signal that the death spiral is already here. Elections have already become a scramble for power at any cost and few politicians seem to give a damn about the truth. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) condemned Wednesday’s protestors: “If you just feed this beast in an effort to appease it, it just gets stronger and bolder until it comes after the very people who are trying to appease it.” But it is possible to condemn both the protestors who rampaged in the Capitol and the career politicians whose perennial abuses have destroyed Americans’ faith in the federal government. It would be especially unwise to confuse last week’s buffoonery with a bona fide coup attempt—which could happen if Washington continues disdaining too many angry Americans.
Why did a Montgomery County, Maryland SWAT team kill 21-year-old Duncan Lemp, in a no-knock predawn raid on March 12? The county released an official report yesterday stating that a violent no-knock raid was justified “due to Lemp being ‘anti-government,’ ‘anti-police,’ currently in possession of body armor, and an active member of the Three Percenters.” The report also noted that “police had viewed several videos showing Lemp handling and shooting firearms.”
Distrusting the government and police and appearing in photos or videos with firearms is a catch-all that could apply to millions of Americans. But that was enough to justify a deadly assault in one of America’s most liberal jurisdictions. (I wrote about this case for TAC previously here, here, here and here).
Montgomery County released the report on New Year’s Eve, probably hoping that it would receive scant attention. But the county’s own admissions should propel new demands for disclosures on the most under-reported police killing of 2020.
Thanks in large partto COVID lockdowns, this year has left vast wreckage in its wake, with ten million jobs lost, more than 100,000 businesses and dozens of national chains bankrupted or closed. Up to 40 million people could face eviction in the coming months for failing to pay rent, and Americans report that their mental health is at record low levels. But the casualty list for 2020 must also include many of the political myths that shape Americans’ lives.
Perhaps the biggest myth to die this year was that Americans’ constitutional rights are safeguarded by the Bill of Rights. After the COVID-19 pandemic began, governors in state after state effectively placed scores of millions of citizens under house arrest—dictates that former Attorney General Bill Barr aptly compared to “the greatest intrusion on civil liberties” since the end of slavery. Politicians and government officials merely had to issue decrees, which were endlessly amended, in order to destroy citizens’ freedom of movement, freedom of association, and freedom of choice in daily life. Los Angeles earlier this month banned almost all walking and bicycling in the city, ordering four million people to “to remain in their homes” in a futile effort to banish a virus.
The Rule of Law is another myth impaled by 2020’s dire developments. Courts have repeatedly struck down sweeping restrictions. Federal judge William Stickman IV invalidated some of Pennsylvania’s restrictions in a September ruling: “Broad population-wide lockdowns are such a dramatic inversion of the concept of liberty in a free society as to be nearly presumptively unconstitutional.” After the Michigan Supreme Court effectively labeled Governor Gretchen Whitmer a lawless dictator, she responded by issuing “new COVID-19 emergency orders that are nearly identical to her invalidated emergency orders,” as the Mackinac Center noted. How many governors and mayors have you seen on the television news being led away in handcuffs after their arrest for violating citizens’ rights this year? None.
Another myth that 2020 obliterated was the notion that politicians spending more than a hundred billion dollars every year for science and public health would keep Americans safe.
The Centers for Disease Control utterly botched the initial testing regime, sending out bogus tests to state and local health departments and taking a month and a half to do what the Thai government achieved in one day. The Food and Drug Administration helped turn the coronavirus from a deadly peril into a national catastrophe. Long after foreign nations had been ravaged and many cases had been detected in America, the FDA continued blocking private testing. The FDA continued forcing the nation’s most innovative firms to submit to its command-and-control approach, notwithstanding the pandemic.
The benevolence and compassion of public school teachers was another myth that 2020 obliterated. Teacher unions helped barricade school doors the same way that segregationist governors in the 1950s and 1960s refused to obey federal court orders to admit black students. The Chicago Teachers Union proclaimed: “The push to reopen schools is based in sexism, racism, and misogyny.”
Black and Hispanic students suffered much larger learning losses due to school shutdowns, leading former Education Secretary John King to warn of a “lost generation of students.” Despite a deluge of studies that showed that schools posed little risk of fueling the pandemic, teachers insisted that they were entitled to both their salaries and to stay at home as long as they considered necessary.
This was part of the collapse of the broader myth that the rulers and ruled have common interests. Among other splits, the response to the pandemic divided Americans into those who work for a living, and those who “work” for the government. Government employees in most states and at the federal level have been the Untouchables, continuing to draw full pay even when they were no longer even required to show up for work. One exception to this trend is government tax collectors, who continue commandeering as much as ever from citizens and property owners regardless of the collapse in public services in many places this year.
Another myth that perished in 2020 was that social media and the Internet could be a powerful propellant of free information. Instead, the biggest players pulled the most strings to suppress criticisms or dissent from the latest Covid policies promulgated by officialdom. On March 18, Twitter announced that, in response to COVID-19, it would ban tweets guilty of “denial of expert guidance” or “misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities.”
The World Health Organization initially overestimated the COVID fatality rate by 50-fold but they remain Twitter-approved. Facebook recently launched far more aggressive policies, including directly contacting anyone who liked or commented on a piece that was later ruled erroneous by Facebook guardians and is refusing any ads that discourages people from getting vaccinations. Will they ban WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan for declaring on Monday that there was “no evidence to be confident [vaccine] shots prevent transmission” of COVID? Google sought to suppress any doubts about lockdowns: “Most users in English-speaking countries, when they google ‘Great Barrington Declaration’, will not be directed to the declaration itself but to articles that are critical of the declaration,” a Spiked-Online analysis noted.
This year’s presidential election put a helluva dent in the credo that politicians rule with the “consent of the governed.” The pandemic provided the pretext to radically change voting procedures, spurring 65 million mostly unverified mail-in ballots. The New York Times warned in 2012 that “fraud in voting by mail is…vastly more prevalent than the in-person voting fraud that has attracted far more attention.” Many states solved that problem by “defining down fraud” and expunging the verification procedures previously used to routinely invalidate 20% or more of mailed-in ballots. The controversies around mail-in ballots, questionable software, ballot harvesting and other practices mean that a record number of Americans will doubt Joe Biden’s legitimacy even before he takes his oath of office.
Perhaps the saddest casualty of 2020 is the myth that average Americans cherish their personal freedom. Politicians continually shifted the rationale for lockdowns – from flattening the curve, to ending “community spread,” to reducing cases to near zero. Regardless of the proclaimed rationale, most people submitted without a fight, and usually without even a whimper. Politicians and bureaucrats fanned mass fears which quickly ripened into hatred of anyone who did not comply with the latest edict.
States and cities across the country set up snitch lines that were soon deluged with complaints of people outside without a mask, meeting friends, or having more visitors in their homes than could fit in a phone booth. Many, if not most, people quickly acquiesced to the “new normal” where any government hack who recited the phrase “science and data” became entitled to rule their lives with an iron fist.
As the Harvard International Review warned, “The very methods that liberal democracies are currently using to effectively fight the virus are the same tactics that authoritarian leaders use to dominate their people. The tools that have been temporarily deployed in the fight against a once-in-a-lifetime disease may become permanent.” That was written on May 23, more than 15 million Covid cases ago – proof of the failure of lockdowns and pervasive restrictions to make COVID-19 vanish. But the miserable batting average of officialdom will vanish into the Memory Hole if politicians launch a campaign to make Covid vaccinations mandatory, complete with boundless vilification of anyone who balks at the injection.
Perhaps it has long been a myth that we live in a self-governing republic rather than a Leviathan Democracy where citizens merely make cameo appearances every few years at the voting booth. It is still possible that the catastrophic and pointless losses imposed by Covid crackdowns will finally awaken enough people to their growing subjugation. But the most dangerous myth is that Americans will finally become safe after they cease making any efforts to leash their rulers.
The COVID pandemic this year has profoundly transformed the relationship of government to American citizens. Constitutional leashes have been obliterated as state and local politicians and officials have issued endless decrees that were vastly more effective at destroying freedom than at curbing a virus. And the Biden administration may soon take further leaps towards making our political system into a Cage Keeper Democracy where citizens’ ballots merely designate who will place them under house arrest.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito aptly declared last month, “The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty.” But the sheer extent of this rollback has been missed by many activists who seem to have little or no concern about what has happened to average Americans. Pop singer Fiona Apple recently called for a mass release of jail inmates and urged people to sympathize with those behind bars: “Anybody out there could find 1 or 2 instances in their lives when they felt a little bit alone, afraid, disbelieved, forgotten about. Magnify that by an unimaginable amount. And ask why you’re not doing something.”
Stalin reputedly said that one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. The same is apparently true when politicians destroy millions of people’s freedom—it is a mere statistic that progressive minds dismiss.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti banned all unnecessary “travel, including, without limitation, travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit.” The mayor offered no evidence that people strolling on sidewalks or parks spurred a tsunami of COVID cases. Garcetti also “ordered all residents living in the city ‘to remain in their homes’ forcing businesses that require in-person attendance to shut down.” Perhaps as a contingency in case Trump does something especially ornery, Garcetti’s order exempted “participating in an in-person outdoor protest while wearing a face covering, maintaining social distancing, and observing the Los Angeles County Protocol for Public Demonstrations.” Intercept reporter Lee Fang noted that the order also contained an exemption for people who work in “‘music, film and television production’ and private golf courses that follow state guidelines can stay open.”
Politicians around the nation are issuing decrees that look like they were designed by angst-stricken focus groups. Governor Ralph Northam dictated last week that all Virginians must stay indoors from midnight until 5 a.m, with narrow exceptions for people traveling to work and for people suffering medical emergencies (nice public relations brushstroke on that one). If Northam has the right to ban people leaving their homes for 5 hours a day, then why would he not have a right to lock everyone up 24/7 until everyone gets a mandatory vaccine? Virginian Republican legislative leaders said Northam’s edict “smacks of martial law” and was “blatantly unconstitutional.” But there was no criticism of the edict from liberal mainstays such as The Washington Post. On the other hand, if Northam issued the midnight curfew to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, he would have been vilified by progressives across the nation.
COVID restrictions are supposedly justified based on evidence of specific ways that the virus is transmitted. But the contact tracing in many parts of the nation has collapsed as the surge in cases has buried bureaucratic efforts to track down the source of infections. But politicians are increasingly banning activities and businesses regardless of what the data reveals. District of Columbia contact tracing data attributes less than one percent of COVID cases to gyms and fitness activities but last week Mayor Muriel Bowser still banned high school sports and shut down indoor fitness classes.
Many governors and mayors are responding to the latest surge in COVID cases with arcane decrees that sound like they were written by bureaucrats on amphetamines. Delaware Governor John Carney decreed last week that stores larger than 100,000 feet can have only 20% occupancy, stores between 5,000 and 100,000 square feet can have 30% occupancy, and stores less than 5,000 feet and churches and funeral services can have 40% occupancy. But different rules apply if it is a “gathering” of people instead of customers coming in off the street. In that case, “Indoor gatherings at businesses…must be limited to the lesser of 30 percent of the venue’s stated fire capacity, or 10 people.” Delaware gyms are permitted to hold small exercise classes but only if participants stay “at least 13 feet apart.” It is not known whether the state government placed an emergency order for hundreds of tape measures for its inspectors.
Regardless of whether the micro-managing reduces the number of COVID positive tests, Gov. Carney will be feted for his vigilance. Store access restrictions in many states could result in long lines of people, East German-style, standing outside in bitter temps and catching colds and maybe pneumonia. But that won’t matter as long as officials can boast about reducing the number of COVID positive tests.
The 2020 pandemic showed what it takes to sway many Americans to accept absolute power: merely the endless recitation of the phrase “science and data.” It didn’t matter that the science continually changed or that the data was often worse than useless. Instead, people who cheered any policy portrayed as based on “science and data” proved that they were part of the intellectual elite—even if that meant simply having a B.S. degree in sociology from a fourth-tier college that has not rejected any student who applied for admission since the Reagan era.
The adulation of science is, in reality, simply worship of politicians who recite the right phrases. New York governor Andrew Cuomo was lionized by the media for his press conferences which won an Emmy award and his self-tribute, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, quickly became a bestseller. Cuomo effectively seized absolute power in New York state after the start of the pandemic, and compelled nursing homes to admit COVID-infected patients and permitted COVID-infected staffers to keep working at those homes. More than 10,000 New York nursing home patients died of COVID.
President-elect Joe Biden will likely soon receive a Cuomo-style halo for his championing of a mandate to compel all Americans to wear a mask anytime they are outside. Biden declared last week, “My first 100 days, I’m going to ask for a masking plan. Everyone for the first 100 days of my administration to wear a mask.” But, as AIER contributor Stacey Rudin pointed out, CDC data showed that “70.6% of people diagnosed with COV always wear a mask vs 3.9% who never do.” Many states that mandated masks continue to permit people to suffice with a scarf or bandana—even though studies show that such garments “offered very little protection.” Rep. Thomas Massie, one of the smartest members of Congress, observed, “The reality is [mask] compliance has been high and as compliance has gone up, the [positive COVID test] curve has gotten steeper. If masks were ever going to work, there would have been a specification for particle size and fitment.” But the faulty guidance has done nothing to deter some media outlets from portraying non-mask wearers as heretics who threaten to damn anyone within a five mile radius.
The proliferation of new shutdown and lockdown orders vivifies the failure of the courts to rein in politicians this year. After the Michigan Supreme Court decreed that Governor Whitmer was effectively a lawless dictator who had illegally extended a “state of emergency,” Whitmer’s appointees simply issued “new COVID-19 emergency orders that are nearly identical to her invalidated emergency orders,” as the Mackinac Center noted. Courts have repeatedly condemned overreaches by California Governor Gavin Newsom but he continues issuing even more sweeping prohibitions on daily life (which happily some county sheriffs announced they will not enforce).
On Thanksgiving Eve, the Supreme Court struck down New York state restrictions that limited religious gatherings to ten or fewer people while permitting far more leeway for businesses to operate, declaring that Cuomo’s rules were “far more restrictive than any COVID-related regulations that have previously come before the Court…and far more severe than has been shown to be required to prevent the spread of the virus.” The liberal establishment reacted with horror. An American Civil Liberties Union official fretted to The New York Times that “the freedom to worship…does not include a license to harm others or endanger public health.”
Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe and Cornell professor Michael Dorf warned that the Supreme Court was becoming “a place like Gilead—the theocratic and misogynist country in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’” Twitter exploded with denunciations of recently confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the majority opinion, tagging her with the nickname #AmyCovidBarrett. A Twitter activist who calls herself CourageousGirl2 derided Barrett, declaring that “the HANDMAID at SCOTUS rounded out the ChristoFacists ! We Must EXPAND the Court or we are In DANGER.”
Will Biden exploit the Supreme Court’s resistance to lockdown orders to justify adding a bevy of new justices, the same way that President Franklin Roosevelt claimed that the Court’s objections to his economic authoritarianism justified his attempt to pack the court? In 1937, most of the nation’s newspapers went to the barricade to resist FDR’s power grab. Is there any reason to expect editorial pages that have cheered almost every COVID crackdown to take a stand to stop Biden on the steps of the Supreme Court?
An 1875 article in the American Law Review warned that the Civil War “left the average American politician with a powerful desire to acquire property from other people without paying for it.” In the same way, the COVID pandemic is fueling many politicians’ passion for destroying Americans’ freedom based on the flimsiest pretexts. Thus far, politicians have paid no price for their constitutional demolitions. The only certainty is that much of the media and legions of activists will cheer the next lockdown.
Americans are sickened of an “idealism that is oblique, confusing, dishonest, and ferocious,” as H.L. Mencken wrote a hundred years ago. Though Mencken was condemning President Woodrow Wilson, the same verdict could characterize the legacy of former president Barack Obama. Obama is now on a book tour issuing calls for honest government, civic virtue, and similar tripe. But Obama did more to discredit idealism than any president since Wilson.
A dozen years ago, Americans were enthralled by the newly elected president from Illinois. After the deceit and demagoguery of the George W. Bush era, Obama’s first presidential campaign with its “Yes, We Can” motto swayed Americans that he could personally restore the moral grandeur of government. Its idealism was epitomized by the famous “Hope” campaign poster that practically deified the candidate.
Shortly before his first inauguration, Obama announced, “What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that our founders displayed.” After Obama’s inaugural address, the media rejoiced as if a new age of political idealism had arrived.
Practically the entire world joined the race to canonize the new president. Less than 12 days after he took office, Obama was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize—which he received later that year. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared at a White House state dinner, “We warmly applaud the recognition by the Nobel Committee of the healing touch you have provided and the power of your idealism and your vision.” Shortly after receiving the Peace Prize, Obama announced he would triple the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Peace Prize helped insulate him from criticism as he proceeded to bomb seven nations during his presidency.
Obama-style idealism quickly became a shroud for federal atrocities. On Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 23, 2009, Obama called for “fighting the silence that is evil’s greatest co-conspirator.” Ironically, on the same day, Obama decided to oppose creation of a truth commission to vigorously investigate and expose Bush administration crimes. After Obama visited CIA headquarters and praised his audience for helping to “to uphold our values and ideals,” Obama chose not to prosecute any CIA officials who created a secret worldwide torture regime because “it’s important to look forward and not backwards.” Over the next five years, Obama administration officials vigorously fought a Senate investigation into Bush torture abuses, and Obama personally defended the CIA after it was caught illegally spying on the Senate to thwart the inquiry. The Obama administration also torpedoed every lawsuit by a torture victim in U.S. court.
In 2011, Obama draped his decision to bomb Libya by invoking “democratic values” and the “ideals” which he asserted were “the true measure of American leadership.” But terrorist groups fighting dictator Muammar Qaddafi were already slaughtering civilians. Obama was so convinced of the righteousness of targeting Qadaffi that his appointees signaled that federal law (such as the War Powers Act) could not constrain his salvation mission. In the chaos that subsequently engulfed Libya, ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed during an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. When their corpses arrived back in the U.S., Obama hailed the victims for embodying “the courage, the hope, and yes, the idealism, that fundamental American belief that we can leave this world a little better than before.” Obama’s soothing rhetoric failed to deter the proliferation of slave markets where black migrants were openly sold in Libya.
Obama declared that America’s “ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake” in his first inaugural address. But one of Obama’s most shocking legacies was his claim of a prerogative to kill U.S. citizens labeled as terrorist suspects without trial, without notice, and without any chance for the marked individuals to legally object. Obama’s lawyers even refused to disclose the standards used for designating Americans for death. Drone strikes increased tenfold under Obama, and he personally chose who would be killed at weekly “Terror Tuesday” White House meetings which featured PowerPoint parades of potential targets.
Year by year, Obama’s lies and abuses of power corroded the idealism that helped him capture the presidency. As a presidential candidate, he promised “no more illegal wiretaps”; as president, he vastly expanded National Security Agency’s illegal seizures of Americans’ emails and other records. He promised transparency but gutted the Freedom of Information Act and prosecuted twice as many Americans for Espionage Act violations than all the presidents combined since Woodrow Wilson. He perennially denounced “extremism” at the same time his administration partnered with Saudi Arabia to send weapons to terrorist groups that were slaughtering Syrian civilians in a failed attempt to topple the regime of Bashar Assad. Obama helped establish an Impunity Democracy in which rulers pay no price for their misdeeds. As The New York Times noted after the 2016 election, the Obama administration fought in court to preserve the legality of defunct Bush administration practices such as torture and detaining Americans arrested at home as “enemy combatants.”
Last August, in his speech to the Democratic National Convention, Obama declared, “Look, I understand why many Americans are down on government.” But he has never owned up to his personal role in embittering millions of Americans who bought into his “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” shtick in 2008. Rather than restoring trust in the government, Obama’s presidency simply confirmed millions of Americans’ worst suspicions about officialdom.
In the final years of his presidency, Obama was far more likely to condemn cynicism than he was to trumpet idealism. By the end of Obama’s presidency, idealism was roadkill on the political highway. Donald Trump’s 2016 pledge to “drain the swamp” was the ultimate perverse political promise—at least according to the standards of the Washington establishment. The 2020 presidential race between Trump and Joe Biden was about as uplifting as a hemorrhoid ointment commercial.
But this is a positive development for anyone who values straight dealing in public life. Idealism has surpassed patriotism as the last refuge of a scoundrel. Idealistic appeals were used by Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon to vindicate the Vietnam War, by President Bill Clinton to sanctify the bombing of Serbia, and by President George W. Bush to dignify the devastation of Iraq. The mainstream media is almost always willing to help presidents shroud foreign carnage with pompous claptrap. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius declared in late 2003 that Bush’s war on Iraq “may be the most idealistic war fought in modern times.”
Idealism encourages citizens to view politics as a faith-based activity, transforming politicians from hucksters to saviors. The issue is not what government did in the past—the issue is how we must do better in the future. Politicians’ pious piffle is supposed to radically reduce the risk of subsequent perfidy.
And this could be the hook the media uses to coronate Joe Biden as a born-again idealist, thereby perpetuating the same Teflon shield it provided him during the presidential campaign. Early Americans idealized the Constitution, yet much of Biden’s career was devoted to obliterating Americans’ constitutional and legal rights. Biden was the architect of federal asset forfeiture programs that wrongfully plundered billions of dollars from innocent Americans. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden co-wrote the 1994 crime bill which The New York Times noted helped spawn “the explosion of the prison population.” Biden boasted in 1994 that “every major crime bill since 1976 that’s come out of this Congress… has had the name of the Democratic senator from the State of Delaware: Joe Biden.”
But Biden can probably expunge his sordid record if he champions Washington’s favorite type of idealism—one that exalts government action as the highest expression of the best within us. After Trump’s endless denunciations of the Deep State, the political establishment is striving to put the federal government and Washington back on a pedestal. As a recent Washington Post headline proclaimed, “Washington’s aristocracy hopes a Biden presidency will make schmoozing great again.” (The Post quickly changed its initial headline to “Washington’s Establishment” but “aristocracy” remained in the body of the article.) That same aristocracy hopes that idealism will provide the magic words to make the peasantry again defer to their superiors.
“Idealism is going to save the world,” President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed shortly after World War I left much of Europe in ruins and paved the way for Communist and Nazi takeovers. Nowadays, idealism is often positive thinking about growing servitude. Obama was only the most recent president to rely on “rent-a-halo” rhetoric to blur political reality. Americans cannot afford to venerate any more Idealists-in-Chief hungry to seize new power or start new wars.
Politicians and petty czars have canceled Thanksgiving across the nation. What have government health departments offered in lieu of a family gathering? Endless idiotic advice for “safe sex” during COVID.
The Vermont Department of Health captured the ethos of many health departments across the nation: “Decisions about sex and sexuality need to be balanced with personal and public health.” COVID Federal Superstar Anthony Fauci reflected that judgment when he declared in April that those who meet strangers for sex via Tinder or other dating apps are entitled to make their “choice regarding a risk.” Many government officials have been far more tolerant or even encouraging of risky sexual relations during the pandemic while mercilessly suppressing other social and economic relations.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is an Emmy-award winning hero of the COVID pandemic, regardless of the ten thousand elderly New Yorkers who died after he ordered nursing homes to admit COVID patients. Cuomo’s endless restrictions have been spurred by his view that “government can be a force for good,” as a New Yorker profile recently noted.
While Cuomo has vehemently condemned synagogues that disobeyed his orders to disperse, other officials in New York give their blessings to behavior which is reckless even by “woke” standards. The New York City Health Department recommended that people who organize orgies should “Limit the size of your guest list. Keep it intimate.” The guidance does not quite specify “rooftop” but it is clearly implied: “Pick larger, more open, and well-ventilated spaces.”
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, New York City’s deputy health commissioner, boasts, “Our health department has a really strong record of being very sex positive.” At the same time that New York cops have violently assaulted people for not wearing face masks, the city government officially sanctioned “glory holes.” The Big Apple’s health department urged people to “be creative with… physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face-to-face contact.”
The San Francisco Department of Public Health took preemptive action to re-define “premature” out of existence. The local bureaucrats advised: “Quicker can be better. The longer we are within 6 feet of someone, the greater the risk.” Will health departments take the next step, promoting Revolutionary Era imagery celebrating the return of the “Minute Man”?
As part of its recommendations for “navigating the landscape of love,” San Francisco bureaucrats urged to “embrace dirty thoughts. And clean surfaces.” The guidance stresses the importance of cleaning “shared toys,” especially when switching “collars” and similar items from one body to another. The department also noted: “When it comes to COVID-19 risk, outdoors is better than indoors.” Considering that the local government already permits homeless people to perform any other bodily function on Market Street, adding copulation might not be that much of a change in the local scenery.
The Fenway Health Center, a “Federally Qualified Community Health Center,” served up bad news to spatially-challenged Bostonians: “Using the social distancing recommendation of 6 feet, oral sex may still put you at risk of COVID.” Bizarrely, the Fenway Center urges people NOT to wear masks during hook-ups: “Leave the protective gear to the medical professionals and those who have the virus.”
The Austin, Texas Health Department alerted local residents: “COVID-19 has been found in fecal matter. Avoid activity that could allow virus from feces to enter your mouth.” In the COVID era, “Eat shit and die” has gone from being a juvenile taunt to being an ominous government health warning. Similar warnings on the dangers of “rimming” occurred in other health department recommendations.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department advises, “Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.” But if you wash your hands for only 15 seconds afterwards, then ‘Rona wins. Actually, if people need to be told to wash their hands after taking their pleasure, they are probably beyond redemption. Besides, do post-game prophylactics make any sense after a solo performance?
Many other government agencies have become cheerleaders for self-reliance, as if there was a dire need for officialdom to specify how hundreds of millions of Americans should let off steam. At last report, the World Health Organization had not yet added masturbation to its Five Heroic Act list though it may soon qualify for a #ThanksHealthHeroes honorable mention.
In the same way that politicians focused myopically on COVID transmission risks to justify inflicting vast collateral damage on the economy, health departments offer recommendations that might avoid COVID transmission but could be otherwise ruinous. Instead of meeting sex partners online, the New York City Health Department recommends, “Video dates, sexting, subscription-based fan platforms, sexy ‘Zoom parties’ or chat rooms may be options for you.” Other health departments made similar recommendations.
So maybe invite Jeffrey Toobin to your Zoom party? (Toobin was fired after masturbating during a New Yorker zoom call.) Many of the “chat rooms” that bureaucrats recommend are stockful of jailbait, police and FBI agents masquerading and looking to entrap people for underage sex or other offenses. Maybe someone should ask Jeff Bezos about his billion dollar emailed pictures of his private parts? The National Security Agency and foreign governments vacuum up a huge amount of online activity; anything that people reveal to a group of people online could easily turn up in their dossier.
Since the pandemic began, politicians have claimed a prerogative to micro-manage citizens’ lives with one harebrained edict after another. For instance, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf decreed on November 17 that people must wear masks in their own homes whenever someone visits who does not live in that household. On Monday, Gov. Wolf banned all alcohol sales in bars and restaurants on Thanksgiving Eve – a completely arbitrary edict that sows havoc and will do nothing to make COVID vanish.
Wolf would never dare to outlaw sex outside of wedlock but somehow politicians captured the right to throttle almost every other aspect of people’s lives. But a “copulation exemption” to the de facto COVID cancellation of the Bill of Rights makes no sense. People deserve as much freedom to drink rancid Rolling Rock beer on Thanksgiving Eve as they do to throw the Philly dice for a Tinder Thanksgiving treat. When politicians are permitted to selectively nullify freedom, the injustices will be exceeded only by the absurdities.
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Nasser Arrabyee discusses the heavy fighting going on outside of Ma'rib, the last stronghold of the Saudi-backed government in Yemen. The Houthi "rebels" are closing in on the city, says Arrabyee, and may capture it within a few days—doing so could give them the...
71 Minutes Some Strong Language Scott Horton is Managing Director of The Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio for Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles and KUCR 88.3 in Riverside, podcasts the Scott Horton Show from scotthorton.org, and is the Editorial...
82 Minutes PG-13 Ryan Dawson is the host of the Anti-Neocon Report and a documentary filmmaker. Ryan joins Pete to talk about YouTube deleting his account, the answer that he has created, and to give his take on current events. ANCReport.com vid.ancreport.com Get...
60 Minutes PG-13 Lee Enfield is the proprietor of EnBlocPress.com and an Army Infantry veteran. Pete asked Lee to come on to answer questions that reference his experience of being in the military. Especially what a soldier would think if a country they just entered...
75 Minutes PG-13 Vin Armani is back to talk about the recent Time Magazine article, "The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election," in which the powers that be admit a secret cabal conspired to "fend off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited...
On COI #71, Kyle and Will discuss the Biden administration's continued push to extradite Julian Assange. Picking up where Trump left off, Biden's DOJ has submitted an appeal to UK judge Vanessa Baraitser to challenge her January ruling against extradition on grounds...
On COI #70, Kyle discusses several key Biden policies he will keep from Trump. Biden's Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said the US will continue to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The announcement signals the US will maintain many of the increasingly...
On COI #69, Joanne Leon, host of Around the Empire, returns to the show to discuss the 2020 election. A new Time magazine article - The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election - explains how an 'elite-cabal' 'saved democracy' by 'influencing...
On COI #68, cohosts Will Porter and Kyle Anazlone break down Biden's first foreign policy speech as president. Biden's speech had little policy and most focused on slogans like "America is back" and "America is a country that does big things." On Russia, Biden...
https://youtu.be/S2c8lqfL6CU A final word about conscription: of all the ways in which war aggrandizes the State, this is perhaps the most flagrant and most despotic. But the most striking fact about conscription is the absurdity of the arguments put forward on its...
https://youtu.be/s63mgqnkqLI If all States are evil, some are more evil than others, some particular States have engaged in enormously more aggression, both internally against their subjects, and externally against the citizens of other States. ... If we libertarians...
https://youtu.be/Ut4X7B1sHII Keith Knight and I tag teamed an interview with David D. Friedman about his newest book, "Legal Systems Very Different From Ours." I asked him some burning questions I had from what I consider to be a Liberty Weekly Classic--"Non-State...
https://youtu.be/kyuxnMc-NSc In this episode of the podcast, Drew Cook joins me to share his story of recovery and to explain his first hand account of how the state creates addicts. Drew is the host of The Clean Libertarian and has been a long time listener of the...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2oCgFf2cLs&feature=youtu.be I joined Jose Galison on "No Way Jose" to finish up a belated recap of 2020. We discuss the 2020 campaign trail, allegations of election fraud, Hunter Biden, internet censorship, "trusting the experts,"...
There are a few rights of passage in law school. Many of them occur in constitutional law. For instance, constitutional law is where most students will learn for the first time that judicial review, the power to declare laws unconstitutional, was not a power granted...
I asked Ryan to join me on the show once again. We wanted to chat about the tech tyranny and subversive technology that helps to keep your information safe, secure, and uncensored. ryanbunting.com for any of your graphic design needs Paypal.me/tommysalmons...
Tommy invited Coop onto the show to discuss the parallels between modern culture, relativity, objectivism, and how nations enter the period of their ultimate demise. https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/strangerencounterspodcast/coopfinal.mp3
Last Friday Mike Korbel asked me to be a guest on his podcast, The Invictus Mind. I’ve known Mike a few years and happily agreed to appear. We have a laid back informal chat about the growing technocratic state and how people may find avenues to free themselves from...