A certain pro-gun rights guest on a certain British former tabloid editor’s CNN evening talk show has made it seem like all people who oppose our ever-growing federal government are a bit, well, unhinged.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and to prove that point, here are 7 scary things that all Americans should be asking our government to put the brakes on immediately.
One of the most annoying things out there at the moment—aside from late-night reverse mortgage commercials—is the false paradigm spread by some big government, big Obama Democrats that anyone who questions government corruption is an actual crazy person.
Start talking about drone strikes or Bradley Manning or the billions we spend on warrantless domestic spying, and you’re likely to get an eye roll and a “You aren’t one of those Glenn Beck people, are you?”
These big government Democrats, as utterly well-intentioned as they are (healthcare for the disadvantaged and keeping Wall Street from feasting on your young soul are noble intentions, at least in theory, if not in practice), think that having attended a “grassroots” (haha) election event for the incumbent of the most powerful elected office in the United States somehow makes them politically cool, indie hardcore, and in-the-know.
And yet they neglect some very real shady endeavors this government and this administration are responsible for, with our tacit approval (apathy is approval, remember). Before listing some of them, two quick things:
1) There will always be crazies. Look up the Yelp reviews for the best restaurant or night club in your city, and I guarantee you some of the reviews will be from crazy people who think the food is awful and the patrons are all ugly, horrible people. The mere existence of crazy people—spouting their crazy views—does not somehow negate the real criticisms levied at this government by non-crazy people, such as Glenn Greenwald and John Cusack and Oliver Stone and Ron Paul and Rand Paul. (I think I’ve just named every famous person critical of the Obama administration at present, which is troubling.)
2) Although this is quite an incomplete list of people’s grievances with the government, I have gone out of my way to link to each source—and to choose “mainstream” sources that are beyond all suspicion. To this end, if you are one of the two or three dummies who will soon roll onto this page with all your thought guns blazing, don’t expect me to respond to you in the comments section when you want “proof” of my claims. Just click on the hyperlink, sir! This isn’t a piece of original reporting, it’s a round up. Similarly, since this article’s claims are backed by only the most serious journalistic sources, you can share it with friends and family without fear of embarrassing yourself. These are facts, not partisan opinions.
OK, all set? Here goes:
1. Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 on the idea that he would not use signing statements or executive orders as his predecessor has done (here’s the video of him saying that on May 19, 2008), and yet now that he is President he uses both constantly and without apology. As The Daily Beast noted way back in January of last year, “Candidate Barack Obama criticized President Bush for using ‘signing statements’ to ignore the will of Congress. But Obama’s done the same thing 20 times since taking office, and his latest effort is rankling lawmakers.”
2. Barack Obama claims the White House beer is amazing, but I have not been able to confirm this fact—nor have most other Americans. I want to do an episode of my iTunes podcast dedicated entirely to reviewing the White House beer, but such a thing is impossible to mere mortals who have not won any Olympic gold medals for the United States nor created billion dollar tech companies. So much for transparency, sir! This one’s a joke to see if you’re still reading along, because things are going to get a lot more serious as this list goes on.
3. In Obama’s America, as in Bush’s, you cease to be a human being and a citizen the moment the “War On Terror” or its less flashy prequel, the “War On Drugs,” is invoked against you. Just the other day, a California man was sentenced to a decade of rotting away in federal prison “for operating medical marijuana dispensaries, even though they are legal in the state.” That’s right, even though he was licensed and accredited by the state, growing a plant that helps the dying cope with their physical pain—and a plant that not one person has overdosed on, ever in human history—apparently puts you on par with murderers and rapists in federal prison.
Another example of rights going out the window: Back in July, two young women on a routine drive down the George Bush Turnpike (really) in Dallas, Texas were pulled over and promptly had roadside vaginal cavity searches performed by state troopers. Details from Reason.com: “…they were pulled over by a state trooper who saw one of them throw a cigarette butt out of the window. Whilst writing up a ticket for littering the trooper supposedly smelled weed in the car. When the trooper refused to believe the women were not in possession of marijuana he called for back up from a female state trooper. State trooper Kelley Helleson arrived at the scene and proceeded to perform a ‘painful and humiliating’ cavity search on each woman, without even replacing her rubber gloves between searches.”
Now, normally this would be considered a disgusting violation of two American citizens’ core Constitutional rights, but since the trooper thought he smelled a plant in the car—a plant so ubiquitous in nature that it has been given the popular nickname “weed”—those two women no longer enjoy Constitutional rights, and that trooper no longer feels the need to engage them as fellow human beings.
As for Terror prevention under Obama, we still have the outrageously expensive taxpayer-funded oddball police force known as the TSA, which violates more rights on a daily basis than any one article could cover. The agency recently came under fire from conservative CNN contributor Dana Loesch, who tweeted her alleged experience: “TSA said I was covered in explosives, took me to a private room and touched my vagina. So how was your day?”
4. Warrantless spying! According to The New York Times and NSA whistleblower William Binney, the government is spending billions on a warrantless spying regime so vast and high-tech it almost defies understanding. “Mr. Binney described details about Stellar Wind, the N.S.A.’s top-secret domestic spying program begun after 9/11, which was so controversial that it nearly caused top Justice Department officials to resign in protest, in 2004,” as the Times piece explains. The program still operates today, with almost zero Congressional or public oversight, and the government is now building a $2 billion data center for the NSA out in Bluffdale, Utah. Binney estimates the NSA has most of your personal email communications stored and logged. Yes, yours.
5. Secret kill lists. During a “regular Tuesday counterterrorism meeting of two dozen security officials in the White House Situation Room” overseen by President Obama himself, this group of powerful government insiders decides—quite literally—who lives and who dies via the government’s secretive drone assassination program. If secret kill lists were included in Obama’s 2008 Hope/Change campaign speeches, I must have missed them!
And look, I completely understand that this man must have to face some insanely difficult choices on a daily basis. America has enemies, and those enemies must be met without mercy. BUT, I don’t at all like the idea of a “secret kill list” becoming the status quo, and a tool that all future Presidents can rely on—picture a President at some point in the future, a man or woman morally identical to Richard Nixon. Now picture that person with a convenient secret kill list. Scary business.
6. Vast federal spying on peaceful protesters, political dissidents, and journalists. It has come out via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that federal law enforcement agencies were deeply monitoring the Occupy Wall Street movement as early as February 2011, and that such agencies might have been in extensive communication with major financial institutions. As activist Naomi Wolf claimed in her Guardian piece, “It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves – was coordinated with the big banks themselves.”
Now, while it is unequivocally true that America treats its political activists better than, say, Egypt or Syria or China, that isn’t exactly something we should be bragging about. America should always hold itself to a far higher standard, and aside from the waste of resources that this federal monitoring represents, it is just plain creepy… especially in an age where online activists and Anonymous members and those who support Wikileaks on Facebook are just a stone’s throw away from being labeled as “terrorists” by a government that seems to have lost sight of what that word means.
Although I was never a member of Occupy, I found their treatment at the hands of police in various cities to be so consistently disgusting and un-American that it is part of the reason why I became more interested in civil liberties and raising awareness for this gradual slip into a “less free” state.
7. The NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions. Let’s not forget what many consider to be Grievance #1 against the federal government. “In December 2011, President Obama signed the 2012 NDAA, codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into law for the first time in American history. The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally,” the ACLU stated on its web site.