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The Tentacle


June 25, 2013

Is This America?

Steve Gottlieb

Government intimidation is what one expects to find in totalitarian countries where citizens do not have guaranteed rights. In many cases they live in fear of government retribution for merely stating ideas considered anti-government by officials. We don’t expect this in the United States, yet it appears to be developing.

 

Here in the United States of America we are seeing the evolution of government intimidation focused predominantly on people and organizations philosophically at odds with the current administration and their liberal/progressive supporters.

 

The first recent blow came in April 2009 when the administration’s Department of Homeland Security released a report warning against violence by right-wing extremists. So, who were these possible extremists? They were people who might have a different view of how things in America should be run. These people included: returning war veterans, gun rights supporters, anti-illegal immigration groups, supporters of second amendment rights, Christian groups, and those who support state’s rights and a smaller federal government.

 

Then, in August 2009, as the Obama Administration was working to ram healthcare reform down our throats, the White House encouraged people to report those who dared to disagree to a centralized web address. Imagine having a conversation with a neighbor only to have them report you to the government. That sounds familiar, but not usually in America. The idea of reporting people simply based on their political view is antithetical to everything we hold dear.

 

In 2011, the Obama campaign set up a website called Attack Watch. The purpose was to encourage a person to report anyone who speaks against the president. In this context, they meant anyone who gossiped, attacked or otherwise smeared President Barack Obama in anyway. Freedom of speech and political discourse took another direct hit. No one is allowed to disagree with our version of an infallible ruler. Of course, President Obama is the same guy who, according to World Net Daily, established truth squads in 2008 in Missouri in an attempt to silence opposition. The idea was to use prosecutors to look at any opposition advertisements that might violate Missouri’s ethics laws. There were others as well.

 

In 2012 we again saw the resurgence of Obama Truth Squads in an effort to stifle opposition as reported on Inforwars.com. They used a number of tactics to suppress free speech and legitimate dissent. Inforwars reported that in one instance they pressured GoDaddy to shut down the website of a private individual. As ABC reported, the Obama Administration tried to equate legitimate dissent and discussion with smears in an effort to chill dissent.

 

Now we find out Palm Beach County (FL) Sheriff Rick Bradshaw, a registered Democrat (the sheriff’s race is a non-partisan contest) is encouraging people to report others who make what they consider to be hateful comments about the government, as reported by the Independent Journal Review. The money comes from the state legislature to help prevent tragedies like Newtown, CT, and Aurora, CO.

 

These events should be alarming as we see a continued evolution by the Obama Administration to silence opposition. What makes it more alarming is the recent revelation the government is spying on just about all 300 million Americans by collecting metadata on our phone calls and emails.

 

The claim is made that the search is legitimate because the government went to a judge to get the search approved. While technically legal, that does not make it right or even constitutional. Warrants or similar documents are supposed to be specific and should delineate what is expected to be found. Searching everyone in the United States is not specific and seems more like a fishing expedition. Judges don’t always make decisions based on the Constitution.

 

Of course, we must remember the Internal Revenue Service and it’s targeting of specific groups identified as being conservative, patriotic, Christian, supporters of Israel or other groups that seem to be associated with a right-of-center political view. One of the most intrusive and powerful agencies in the federal government is targeting individuals meeting certain conservative leaning criteria. Last week we also discovered the Federal Bureau of Investigation was using drones to spy on Americans inside the United States.

 

This is not the first time we had government try to constrain free thought and speech. During what is referred to as the McCarthy era, people were being investigated all the time for being communists, sometimes based on nothing but hearsay. Democrats love to point out Sen. Joseph McCarthy was a Republican

 

However, the president was Harry S Truman, a Democrat who reportedly set up a loyalty program for federal employees while asking the FBI to compile an official list of subversive organizations. History takes a dim view of this time in our history. We should take an even more critical view now given the increased capabilities of our government to apply coercive pressure on us.

 

Democrats and some Republicans will argue the Patriot Act allows for this type of activity and it started under President George W. Bush. The Patriot Act was wrong then and it is wrong now. The concern is the inappropriate and expanding extension of government power, something not even one of the Patriot Act authors, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, intended.

 

This is the United States of America. We should not have a government as intrusive as ours is today. Our constitution does not allow it, yet it is happening.

 

Governments do exist now – and in the past – that not only spy on their citizens but encourage neighbors and family to do the same. We see it today in China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran. In the past we saw it in the former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. In those countries political freedom is or was nonexistent. Persecution directed toward those who disagreed with the government was rampant.

 

Is that what we are becoming? Is that what we want? Is that what we will allow to happen? Is this still the United States of America – or have we lost our thirst for freedom?



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