Robert Wheeler at The Organic Prepper talk about the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 and asks Would YOU Be Considered a Domestic Terrorist Under This New Bill? If you go looking for the bill, please note that there was a DTPA of 2020 and one for 2019, and 2018, and 2017… so be sure you’re looking at the right one. There are also news articles relating to some of the old acts saying things like “the legislation doesn’t mention MAGA rallies anywhere,” but we currently don’t have text for this years act.
After 9/11, the entire country collectively lost its mind in the throes of fear. During that time, all civil and Constitutional rights were shredded and replaced with the pages of The USA PATRIOT Act.
Almost 20 years later, the U.S. has again lost its collective mind, this time in fear of a “virus” and it’s “super mutations” and a “riot” at the capitol. A lot of people called this and to the surprise of very few, much like after 9/11, Americans are watching what remains of their civil liberties be replaced with a new bill.
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021
The DTPA is essentially the criminalization of speech, expression, and thought. It takes cancel culture a step further and all but outlaws unpopular opinions. This act will empower intelligence, law enforcement, and even military wings of the American ruling class to crack down on individuals adhering to certain belief systems and ideologies.
“The attack on the U.S. Capitol earlier this month was the latest example of domestic terrorism, but the threat of domestic terrorism remains very real. We cannot turn a blind eye to it,” Upton said. “The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act will equip our law enforcement leaders with the tools needed to help keep our homes, families, and communities across the country safe.
Congressman Upton’s website gives the following information on DTPA:
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 would strengthen the federal government’s efforts to prevent, report on, respond to, and investigate acts of domestic terrorism by authorizing offices dedicated to combating this threat; requiring these offices to regularly assess this threat; and providing training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it.
DTPA would authorize three offices, one each within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to monitor, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism. The bill also requires these offices to provide Congress with joint, biannual reports assessing the state of domestic terrorism threats, with a specific focus on white supremacists. Based on the data collected, DTPA requires these offices to focus their resources on the most significant threats.
DTPA also codifies the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, which would coordinate with United States Attorneys and other public safety officials to promote information sharing and ensure an effective, responsive, and organized joint effort to combat domestic terrorism. The legislation requires DOJ, FBI, and DHS to provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. Finally, DTPA directs DHS, DOJ, FBI, and the Department of Defense to establish an interagency task force to combat white supremacist infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement.
Those who read the bill aren’t so gung ho to shred the Constitution
“It’s so dangerous as you guys have been talking about, this is an issue that all Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians should be extremely concerned about, especially because we don’t have to guess about where this goes or how this ends,” Gabbard said.
She continued: “When you have people like former CIA Director John Brennan openly talking about how he’s spoken with or heard from appointees and nominees in the Biden administration who are already starting to look across our country for these types of movements similar to the insurgencies they’ve seen overseas, that in his words, he says make up this unholy alliance of religious extremists, racists, bigots, he lists a few others and at the end, even libertarians.”
Gabbard, stating her concern about how the government will define what qualities they are searching for in potential threats to the country, went on to ask:
“What characteristics are we looking for as we are building this profile of a potential extremist, what are we talking about? Religious extremists, are we talking about Christians, evangelical Christians, what is a religious extremist? Is it somebody who is pro-life? Where do you take this”
Tulsi said the bill would create a dangerous undermining of our civil liberties and freedoms in our Constitution. She also stated the DPTA essentially targets nearly half of the United States.
“You start looking at obviously, have 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,” Gabbard said.
Tulsi Gabbard is not the only one to criticize the legislation
Even the ACLU, one of the weakest organizations on civil liberties in the United States, has spoken out. While the ACLU was only concerned with how the bill would affect minorities or “brown people,” the organization stated that the legislation, while set forth under the guise of countering white supremacy, would eventually be used against non-white people.
The ACLU’s statement is true.
As with similar bills submitted under the guise of “protecting” Americans against outside threats, this bill will inevitably expand further. The stated goals of the DPTA are far-reaching and frightening enough. It would amount to an official declaration of the end to Free Speech.
Soon there will be no rights left for Americans
In the last twenty years, Americans have lost their 4th Amendment rights, and now they are losing their 1st. All that remains is the 2nd Amendment, and both the ruling class and increasing numbers of the American people know it.
Dark days are ahead.
Here is also an interview with Tulsi Gabbard on the issue.
Constitutional law attorney John Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute writes Enemies of the Deep State: The Government’s War on Domestic Terrorism Is a Trap
“This is an issue that all Democrats, Republicans, independents, Libertarians should be extremely concerned about, especially because we don’t have to guess about where this goes or how this ends. What characteristics are we looking for as we are building this profile of a potential extremist, what are we talking about? Religious extremists, are we talking about Christians, evangelical Christians, what is a religious extremist? Is it somebody who is pro-life? [The proposed legislation could create] a very dangerous undermining of our civil liberties, our freedoms in our Constitution, and a targeting of almost half of the country.”—Tulsi Gabbard, former Congresswoman
This is how it begins.
We are moving fast down that slippery slope to an authoritarian society in which the only opinions, ideas and speech expressed are the ones permitted by the government and its corporate cohorts.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol, “domestic terrorism” has become the new poster child for expanding the government’s powers at the expense of civil liberties.
Of course, “domestic terrorist” is just the latest bull’s eye phrase, to be used interchangeably with “anti-government,” “extremist” and “terrorist,” to describe anyone who might fall somewhere on a very broad spectrum of viewpoints that could be considered “dangerous.”
Watch and see: we are all about to become enemies of the state.
In a déjà vu mirroring of the legislative fall-out from 9/11, and the ensuing build-up of the security state, there is a growing demand in certain sectors for the government to be given expanded powers to root out “domestic” terrorism, the Constitution be damned.
If this is a test of Joe Biden’s worthiness to head up the American police state, he seems ready.
As part of his inaugural address, President Biden pledged to confront and defeat “a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism.” Biden has also asked the Director of National Intelligence to work with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in carrying out a “comprehensive threat assessment” of domestic terrorism. And then to keep the parallels going, there is the proposed Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021, introduced after the Jan. 6 riots, which aims to equip the government with “the tools to identify, monitor and thwart” those who could become radicalized to violence.
Don’t blink or you’ll miss the sleight of hand.
This is the tricky part of the Deep State’s con game that keeps you focused on the shell game in front of you while your wallet is being picked clean by ruffians in your midst.
It follows the same pattern as every other convenient “crisis” used by the government as an excuse to expand its powers at the citizenry’s expense and at the expense of our freedoms.
As investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald warns:
“The last two weeks have ushered in a wave of new domestic police powers and rhetoric in the name of fighting ‘terrorism’ that are carbon copies of many of the worst excesses of the first War on Terror that began nearly twenty years ago. This New War on Terror—one that is domestic in name from the start and carries the explicit purpose of fighting ‘extremists’ and ‘domestic terrorists’ among American citizens on U.S. soil—presents the whole slew of historically familiar dangers when governments, exploiting media-generated fear and dangers, arm themselves with the power to control information, debate, opinion, activism and protests.”
Greenwald is referring to the USA Patriot Act, passed almost 20 years ago, which paved the way for the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.
Free speech, the right to protest, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, a presumption of innocence, the right to self-defense, accountability and transparency in government, privacy, press, sovereignty, assembly, bodily integrity, representative government: all of these and more have become casualties in the government’s war on the American people, a war that has grown more pronounced since Sept. 11, 2001.
Some members of Congress get it.
In a letter opposing expansion of national security powers, a handful congressional representatives urged their colleagues not to repeat the mistakes of the past:
“While many may find comfort in increased national security powers in the wake of this attack, we must emphasize that we have been here before and we have seen where that road leads. Our history is littered with examples of initiatives sold as being necessary to fight extremism that quickly devolve into tools used for the mass violation of the human and civil rights of the American people… To expand the government’s national security powers once again at the expense of the human and civil rights of the American people would only serve to further undermine our democracy, not protect it.”
Cue the Emergency State, the government’s Machiavellian version of crisis management that justifies all manner of government tyranny in the so-called name of national security.
This is the power grab hiding in plain sight, obscured by the political machinations of the self-righteous elite. This is how the government continues to exploit crises and use them as opportunities for power grabs under the guise of national security. Indeed, this is exactly how the government added red flag gun laws, precrime surveillance, fusion centers, threat assessments, mental health assessments, involuntary confinement to its arsenal of weaponized powers.
The objective is not to make America safe again. That has never been the government’s aim.
“Why would such new terrorism laws be needed in a country that already imprisons more of its citizens than any other country in the world as the result of a very aggressive set of criminal laws? What acts should be criminalized by new ‘domestic terrorism’ laws that are not already deemed criminal? They never say, almost certainly because—just as was true of the first set of new War on Terror laws—their real aim is to criminalize that which should not be criminalized: speech, association, protests, opposition to the new ruling coalition.”
So you see, the issue is not whether Donald Trump or Roger Stone or MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell deserve to be banned from Twitter, even if they’re believed to be spouting misinformation, hateful ideas, or fomenting discontent.
Rather, we should be asking whether any corporation or government agency or entity representing a fusion of the two should have the power to muzzle, silence, censor, regulate, control and altogether eradicate so-called “dangerous” or “extremist” ideas.
This unilateral power to muzzle free speech represents a far greater danger than any so-called right- or left-wing extremist might pose.
The ramifications are so far-reaching as to render almost every American an extremist in word, deed, thought or by association.
Yet where many go wrong is in assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or challenging the government’s authority in order to be flagged as a suspicious character, labeled an enemy of the state and locked up like a dangerous criminal.
Eventually, all you will really need to do is use certain trigger words, surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, drive a car, stay at a hotel, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious, question government authority, or generally live in the United States.
The groundwork has already been laid.
The trap is set.
All that is needed is the right bait.
With the help of automated eyes and ears, a growing arsenal of high-tech software, hardware and techniques, government propaganda urging Americans to turn into spies and snitches, as well as social media and behavior sensing software, government agents have been busily spinning a sticky spider-web of threat assessments, behavioral sensing warnings, flagged “words,” and “suspicious” activity reports aimed at snaring potential enemies of the state.
It’s the American police state’s take on the dystopian terrors foreshadowed by George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Phillip K. Dick all rolled up into one oppressive pre-crime and pre-thought crime package.
What’s more, the technocrats who run the surveillance state don’t even have to break a sweat while monitoring what you say, what you read, what you write, where you go, how much you spend, whom you support, and with whom you communicate. Computers by way of AI (artificial intelligence) now do the tedious work of trolling social media, the internet, text messages and phone calls for potentially anti-government remarks, all of which is carefully recorded, documented, and stored to be used against you someday at a time and place of the government’s choosing.
For instance, police in major American cities have been using predictive policing technology that allows them to identify individuals—or groups of individuals—most likely to commit a crime in a given community. Those individuals are then put on notice that their movements and activities will be closely monitored and any criminal activity (by them or their associates) will result in harsh penalties.
In other words, the burden of proof is reversed: you are guilty before you are given any chance to prove you are innocent.
Dig beneath the surface of this kind of surveillance/police state, however, and you will find that the real purpose of pre-crime is not safety but control.
Red flag gun laws merely push us that much closer towards a suspect society where everyone is potentially guilty of some crime or another and must be preemptively rendered harmless.
This is the same government that has a growing list—shared with fusion centers and law enforcement agencies—of ideologies, behaviors, affiliations and other characteristics that could flag someone as suspicious and result in their being labeled potential enemies of the state.
For instance, if you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you could be at the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.
Moreover, as a New York Times editorial warns, you may be an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) in the eyes of the police if you are afraid that the government is plotting to confiscate your firearms, if you believe the economy is about to collapse and the government will soon declare martial law, or if you display an unusual number of political and/or ideological bumper stickers on your car.
According to one FBI latest report, you might also be classified as a domestic terrorism threat if you espouse conspiracy theories, especially if you “attempt to explain events or circumstances as the result of a group of actors working in secret to benefit themselves at the expense of others” and are “usually at odds with official or prevailing explanations of events.”
Additionally, according to Michael C. McGarrity, the FBI’s assistant director of the counterterrorism division, the bureau now “classifies domestic terrorism threats into four main categories: racially motivated violent extremism, anti-government/anti-authority extremism, animal rights/environmental extremism, and abortion extremism.”
In other words, if you dare to subscribe to any views that are contrary to the government’s, you may well be suspected of being a domestic terrorist and treated accordingly.
Again, where many Americans go wrong is in naively assuming that you have to be doing something illegal or harmful in order to be flagged and targeted for some form of intervention or detention.
In fact, U.S. police agencies have been working to identify and manage potential extremist “threats,” violent or otherwise, before they can become actual threats for some time now.
In much the same way that the USA Patriot Act was used as a front to advance the surveillance state, allowing the government to establish a far-reaching domestic spying program that turned every American citizen into a criminal suspect, the government’s anti-extremism program renders otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist.
In fact, all you need to do these days to end up on a government watch list or be subjected to heightened scrutiny is use certain trigger words (like cloud, pork and pirates), surf the internet, communicate using a cell phone, limp or stutter, drive a car, stay at a hotel, attend a political rally, express yourself on social media, appear mentally ill, serve in the military, disagree with a law enforcement official, call in sick to work, purchase materials at a hardware store, take flying or boating lessons, appear suspicious, appear confused or nervous, fidget or whistle or smell bad, be seen in public waving a toy gun or anything remotely resembling a gun (such as a water nozzle or a remote control or a walking cane), stare at a police officer, question government authority, or appear to be pro-gun or pro-freedom.
Be warned: once you get on such a government watch list—whether it’s a terrorist watch list, a mental health watch list, a dissident watch list, or a red flag gun watch list—there’s no clear-cut way to get off, whether or not you should actually be on there.
You will be tracked wherever you go.
You will be flagged as a potential threat and dealt with accordingly.
This is pre-crime on an ideological scale and it’s been a long time coming.
The government has been building its pre-crime, surveillance network in concert with fusion centers (of which there are 78 nationwide, with partners in the corporate sector and globally), data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one’s genetic makeup).
If you’re not scared yet, you should be.
Connect the dots.
Start with the powers amassed by the government under the USA Patriot Act, note the government’s ever-broadening definition of what it considers to be an “extremist,” then add in the government’s detention powers under NDAA, the National Security Agency’s far-reaching surveillance networks, and fusion centers that collect and share surveillance data between local, state and federal police agencies.
To that, add tens of thousands of armed, surveillance drones and balloons that are beginning to blanket American skies, facial recognition technology that will identify and track you wherever you go and whatever you do. And then to complete the picture, toss in the real-time crime centers being deployed in cities across the country, which will be attempting to “predict” crimes and identify so-called criminals before they happen based on widespread surveillance, complex mathematical algorithms and prognostication programs.
Hopefully you’re starting to understand how easy we’ve made it for the government to identify, label, target, defuse and detain anyone it views as a potential threat for a variety of reasons that run the gamut from mental illness to having a military background to challenging its authority to just being on the government’s list of persona non grata.
There’s always a price to pay for standing up to the powers-that-be.
Yet as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, you don’t even have to be a dissident to get flagged by the government for surveillance, censorship and detention.
All you really need to be is a citizen of the American police state.
Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan said federal intelligence agencies’ top priority, under the leadership of President Joe Biden, is seeking to root out people in pro-Trump “insurgency” groups filled with “white supremacists.”
“I know, looking forward, that the members of the Biden team who have been nominated or have been appointed are now moving in laser-like fashion, to try to uncover as much as they can about what looks very similar to insurgency movements that we’ve seen overseas, where they germinate in different parts of the country and they gain strength, and it brings together an unholy alliance frequently of religious extremists — so authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, and even libertarians,” Brennan said on MSNBC.
.@JohnBrennan: Biden intel community “are moving in laser-like fashion to try to uncover as much as they can about” the pro-Trump “insurgency” that harbors “religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians” pic.twitter.com/SjVXWhPhR8
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 20, 2021
The decision to target these groups, Brennan admitted, stemmed from the recent riot at the Capitol and the administration’s belief that then-President Donald Trump incited an insurrection among his supporters that could continue to be a “threat to our democracy and our republic.”
“Unfortunately, I think there has been this momentum that has been generated as a result of unfortunately the demagogue of rhetoric of people that just departed government, but also those who continue in the halls of Congress,” Brennan continued. “And so I really do think that the law enforcement, Homeland Security Intelligence, and even the defense officials are doing everything possible to root out what seems to be a very, very serious and insidious threat to our democracy and our republic.”
Despite repeatedly insisting that Obama’s intelligence agencies conducted “no spying on Donald Trump’s campaign,” a claim contradicted by inspector general reports, a two-year special counsel probe, congressional inquiries, and continued investigation, Brennan has repeatedly lied about the role Christopher Steele’s dossier played in the FBI and CIA’s review of disproven collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He is also well-known for other public lies on TV and to Congress while under oath.
Constitutional law attorney John Whitehead writes about DC corruption in The Deep State’s Stealthy, Subversive, Silent Coup to Ensure Nothing Changes
“You have such a fervent, passionate, evangelical faith in this country…why in the name of God don’t you have any faith in the system of government you’re so hell-bent to protect? You want to defend the United States of America, then defend it with the tools it supplies you with—its Constitution. You ask for a mandate, General, from a ballot box. You don’t steal it after midnight, when the country has its back turned.”—Seven Days in May (1964)
No doubt about it: the coup d’etat was successful.
That January 6 attempt by so-called insurrectionists to overturn the election results was not the real coup, however. Those who answered President Trump’s call to march on the Capitol were merely the fall guys, manipulated into creating the perfect crisis for the Deep State—a.k.a. the Police State a.k.a. the Military Industrial Complex a.k.a. the Techno-Corporate State a.k.a. the Surveillance State—to swoop in and take control.
It took no time at all for the switch to be thrown and the nation’s capital to be placed under a military lockdown, online speech forums restricted, and individuals with subversive or controversial viewpoints ferreted out, investigated, shamed and/or shunned.
This new order didn’t emerge into being this week, or this month, or even this year, however.
Indeed, the real coup happened when our government “of the people, by the people, for the people” was overthrown by a profit-driven, militaristic, techno-corporate state that is in cahoots with a government “of the rich, by the elite, for the corporations.”
We’ve been mired in this swamp for decades now.
Every successive president starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt has been bought lock, stock and barrel and made to dance to the Deep State’s tune.
Enter Donald Trump, the candidate who swore to drain the swamp in Washington DC. Instead of putting an end to the corruption, however, Trump paved the way for lobbyists, corporations, the military industrial complex, and the Deep State to feast on the carcass of the dying American republic.
Joe Biden will be no different: his job is to keep the Deep State in power.
Step away from the cult of personality politics and you’ll find that beneath the power suits, they’re all alike.
Follow the money. It always points the way.
As Bertram Gross noted in Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, “evil now wears a friendlier face than ever before in American history.”
Writing in 1980, Gross predicted a future in which he saw:
…a new despotism creeping slowly across America. Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and, more important, the subversion of our constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion…
This stealthy, creeping, silent coup that Gross prophesied is the same danger that writer Rod Serling envisioned in the 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May, a clear warning to beware of martial law packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation’s security.
Incredibly enough, almost 60 years later, we find ourselves hostages to a government run more by military doctrine and corporate greed than by the rule of law established in the Constitution. Indeed, proving once again that fact and fiction are not dissimilar, today’s current events could well have been lifted straight out of Seven Days in May, which takes viewers into eerily familiar terrain.
The premise is straightforward.
With the Cold War at its height, an unpopular U.S. President signs a momentous nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union. Believing that the treaty constitutes an unacceptable threat to the security of the United States and certain that he knows what is best for the nation, General James Mattoon Scott (played by Burt Lancaster), the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and presidential hopeful, plans a military takeover of the national government. When Gen. Scott’s aide, Col. Casey (Kirk Douglas), discovers the planned military coup, he goes to the President with the information. The race for command of the U.S. government begins, with the clock ticking off the hours until the military plotters plan to overthrow the President.
Needless to say, while on the big screen, the military coup is foiled and the republic is saved in a matter of hours, in the real world, the plot thickens and spreads out over the past half century.
We’ve been losing our freedoms so incrementally for so long—sold to us in the name of national security and global peace, maintained by way of martial law disguised as law and order, and enforced by a standing army of militarized police and a political elite determined to maintain their powers at all costs—that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it all started going downhill, but we’ve been on that fast-moving, downward trajectory for some time now.
The question is no longer whether the U.S. government will be preyed upon and taken over by the military industrial complex. That’s a done deal, but martial law disguised as national security is only one small part of the greater deception we’ve been fooled into believing is for our own good.
How do you get a nation to docilely accept a police state? How do you persuade a populace to accept metal detectors and pat downs in their schools, bag searches in their train stations, tanks and military weaponry used by their small town police forces, surveillance cameras in their traffic lights, police strip searches on their public roads, unwarranted blood draws at drunk driving checkpoints, whole body scanners in their airports, and government agents monitoring their communications?
Try to ram such a state of affairs down the throats of the populace, and you might find yourself with a rebellion on your hands. Instead, you bombard them with constant color-coded alerts, terrorize them with shootings and bomb threats in malls, schools, and sports arenas, desensitize them with a steady diet of police violence, and sell the whole package to them as being for their best interests.
This present military occupation of the nation’s capital by 25,000 troops as part of the so-called “peaceful” transfer of power from one administration to the next is telling.
This is not the language of a free people. This is the language of force.
Still, you can’t say we weren’t warned.
Back in 2008, an Army War College report revealed that “widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.” The 44-page report went on to warn that potential causes for such civil unrest could include another terrorist attack, “unforeseen economic collapse, loss of functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural and human disasters.”
In 2009, reports by the Department of Homeland Security surfaced that labelled right-wing and left-wing activists and military veterans as extremists (a.k.a. terrorists) and called on the government to subject such targeted individuals to full-fledged pre-crime surveillance. Almost a decade later, after spending billions to fight terrorism, the DHS concluded that the greater threat is not ISIS but domestic right-wing extremism.
Meanwhile, the police have been transformed into extensions of the military while the nation itself has been transformed into a battlefield. This is what a state of undeclared martial law looks like, when you can be arrested, tasered, shot, brutalized and in some cases killed merely for not complying with a government agent’s order or not complying fast enough. This hasn’t just been happening in crime-ridden inner cities. It’s been happening all across the country.
And then you’ve got the government, which has been steadily amassing an arsenal of military weapons for use domestically and equipping and training their “troops” for war. Even government agencies with largely administrative functions such as the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Smithsonian have been acquiring body armor, riot helmets and shields, cannon launchers and police firearms and ammunition. In fact, there are now at least 120,000 armed federal agents carrying such weapons who possess the power to arrest.
Rounding out this profit-driven campaign to turn American citizens into enemy combatants (and America into a battlefield) is a technology sector that has been colluding with the government to create a Big Brother that is all-knowing, all-seeing and inescapable. It’s not just the drones, fusion centers, license plate readers, stingray devices and the NSA that you have to worry about. You’re also being tracked by the black boxes in your cars, your cell phone, smart devices in your home, grocery loyalty cards, social media accounts, credit cards, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and e-book reader accounts.
So you see, January 6 and its aftermath provided the government and its corporate technocrats the perfect excuse to show off all of the powers they’ve been amassing so assiduously over the years.
Mind you, by “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats.
I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law.
I’m referring to the corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country and calling the shots in Washington DC, no matter who sits in the White House.
This is the hidden face of a government that has no respect for the freedom of its citizenry.
There is something being concocted in the dens of power, far beyond the public eye, and it doesn’t bode well for the future of this country.
Anytime you have an entire nation so mesmerized by the antics of the political ruling class that they are oblivious to all else, you’d better beware.
Anytime you have a government that operates in the shadows, speaks in a language of force, and rules by fiat, you’d better beware.
And anytime you have a government so far removed from its people as to ensure that they are never seen, heard or heeded by those elected to represent them, you’d better beware.
As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are at our most vulnerable right now.
All of those dastardly seeds we have allowed the government to sow under the guise of national security are bearing demon fruit.
The gravest threat facing us as a nation is not extremism but despotism, exercised by a ruling class whose only allegiance is to power and money.
Laurence Vance at the Future of Freedom Foundation talks about the ever-spreading Constitutional crisis in the US.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a crisis (plural: crises) is:
1a: the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever
b: a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function
c: an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life; a midlife crisis
2: the decisive moment (as in a literary plot); The crisis of the play occurs in Act 3.
3a: an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; especially: one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome; a financial crisis, the nation’s energy crisis
b: a situation that has reached a critical phase; the environmental crisis, the unemployment crisis
And likewise in other dictionaries.
Regardless of any flaws or problems that the Constitution had or has (the countenance of slavery, the assumption of the right of eminent domain, ambiguous clauses, the income tax), it is the supreme law of the land that the federal government is supposed to follow. The Constitution is neither a long nor an obscure document. Any American with a computer or smart phone can access it in a matter of seconds. Yet most Americans are woefully ignorant about the Constitution.
The Constitution was drafted in 1787, ratified in 1788, and took effect in 1789. It established the United States as a federal system of government where the states, through the Constitution, granted a limited number of powers to a central government. As James Madison, the father of the Constitution, so eloquently explained in Federalist No. 45,
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
There are about thirty enumerated congressional powers listed throughout the Constitution. Most of those powers are found in the eighteen paragraphs of Article I, Section 8. Six of them concern the militia and the military. Four of them concern taxes and money. The rest relate to commerce, naturalization, bankruptcies, post offices and post roads, copyrights and patents, the federal courts, maritime crimes, and the governance of the District of Columbia. The last paragraph gives Congress the power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.” The Bill of Rights (the first ten Amendments to the Constitution) was added to the Constitution in 1791. The first eight Amendments protect civil liberties and fundamental rights. the Ninth and Tenth Amendments make it clear that all rights and powers not delegated to the federal government are retained by the people and the states.
The ignorance that most Americans have of the Constitution is exceeded by the ignorance of the Constitution that most congressmen have. Members of Congress swear to uphold the Constitution. Article VI, Clause 3, of the Constitution requires that senators and representatives be “bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution.” U.S. law requires that members of Congress be sworn in before they can take their seats. The congressional oath of office begins, “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” One would think that members of Congress — most of whom have at least a bachelor’s degree and many of whom are lawyers — would have a firm grasp of what the Constitution says. Yet they are often the worst offenders when it comes to violations of the Constitution.
It was called a constitutional crisis.
After the death of a black man, George Floyd, while in the custody of a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, anti-police demonstrations erupted in large, predominantly black cities across the country. Yet, Portland, Oregon, which is about 77 percent white and 6 percent black, became the epicenter of anti-police demonstrations this past summer. Some of the demonstrations were peaceful, but others not so much. Protesters shut down streets, broke windows, set fires, committed acts of vandalism and looting, and clashed with police. Then, on July 10, it was reported that armed federal forces were making arrests and using tear gas against the demonstrators.
Writing in the Guardian, Trevor Timm, the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, mentioned the Constitution in his report about Portland: “A remarkable and nightmarish scene playing out in Portland should terrify anyone who cares about the US constitution: unmarked vans full of camouflaged and unidentified federal agents are pulling up next to protesters on street corners, then snatching and arresting them with no explanation.” Writing for the Associated Press, journalist Gillian Flaccus is the one who termed the events in Oregon a “constitutional crisis”: “Federal law enforcement officers’ actions at protests in Oregon’s largest city, done without local authorities’ consent, are raising the prospect of a constitutional crisis — one that could escalate as weeks of demonstrations find renewed focus in clashes with camouflaged, unidentified agents outside Portland’s U.S. courthouse.” In a lawsuit filed against the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Marshals Service, Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protective Service, the Oregon Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, accused the federal agencies of violating the constitutional rights of Oregon residents.
According to the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 15): “[Congress shall have power to] provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.” The Insurrection Act of 1807 requires state legislatures or governors to request help from the federal government. It empowers the president to call into service the U.S. Armed Forces and the National Guard to address “an insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy, in any state, which results in the deprivation of Constitutionally secured rights, and where the state is unable, fails, or refuses to protect said rights.” The armed federal forces that descended uninvited on Portland were not members of the Militia, U.S. Armed Forces, or the National Guard. Under the guise of “protecting” federal property and maintaining “law and order,” they were functioning as de facto secret police — wearing military fatigues, sporting all manner of weapons, driving unmarked vehicles, compiling dossiers on journalists, grabbing people indiscriminately off the streets without regard to their lawful presence or personal behavior, assaulting people who weren’t engaged in criminal activity, detaining people who weren’t near federal property, and holding people for hours without charge.
But according to acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf, “I don’t need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors, to do our job. We’re going to do that, whether they like us there or not.” According to attorney and chronicler of the police state John Whitehead, “Just about every nefarious deed, tactic or thuggish policy advanced by the government today can be traced back to the DHS, its police state mindset, and the billions of dollars it distributes to local police agencies in the form of grants to transform them into extensions of the military.”
Constitutional scholar and senior judicial analyst at Fox News Judge Andrew Napolitano well explained the constitutional crisis in Portland:
The only constitutional role for armed federal forces in Portland, Oregon, was to assist U.S. marshals in protecting federal property and personnel there.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the feds have no lawful role in policing streets unless requested to do so by the governor or legislature of any state.
The feds’ activities are unconstitutional because they are using government force to arrest people without probable cause or arrest warrants. We know there is no legal basis for these “arrests,” as they have not charged anyone.
The First Amendment to the Constitution requires the government to protect speech, not assault those who exercise it. If these indiscriminate beatings and kidnappings are intended to deter folks from publicly dissenting, it is profoundly unconstitutional, counterproductive and will be costly to the federal government.
Under the Constitution, the ability to regulate for health and safety belongs to the states and local governments. The feds simply do not have the lawful authority to fill in gaps in local law enforcement, no matter how offended they may be.
This last point is why Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) commented about the situation in Portland, “We cannot give up liberty for security. Local law enforcement can and should be handling these situations in our cities but there is no place for federal troops or unidentified federal agents rounding people up at will.”
Past constitutional crises
There have been other constitutional crises since the adoption of the Constitution in 1789.
The Constitution wasn’t even ten years old when the first constitutional crisis took place. In 1798, in the name of “national security,” the Federalist majority in Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law, four pieces of legislation known collectively known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Naturalization Act, the Alien Friends Act, and the Alien Enemies Act targeted noncitizens (who were perceived to be political opponents of the Federalists) by extending the residency period for aliens seeking citizenship, allowed the president during peacetime to imprison or deport aliens considered “dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States,” and authorized the president to imprison or deport any male citizen of a hostile nation above the age of 14 during times of war. The most egregious piece of legislation was the Sedition Act. It authorized fines or imprisonment for persons who, in speech or print, criticized “the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States.” (The office of the vice president, which at the time was held by Adams’s nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, was not mentioned.) Critics of the Sedition Act argued that it blatantly violated the freedom of speech and freedom of the press clauses of the First Amendment. Federal courts prosecuted many Jeffersonian newspaper editors for violating the Sedition Act.
The so-called Civil War was itself a constitutional crisis. According to Thomas J. DiLorenzo, author of The Problem with Lincoln (2020), Abraham Lincoln ruled as a de facto dictator. He essentially “resurrected the Sedition Act,” imprisoned judges, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, authorized government officials to read Americans’ mail, imprisoned “tens of thousands of Northern state citizens” for “criticizing the government,” and “shut down more than three hundred opposition newspapers in the Northern states.”
The Sedition Act was actually resurrected in 1918 while the United States was fighting World War I. The Espionage Act of 1917 made it a crime for any person to convey information intended to interfere with the U.S. war effort. The Sedition Act amended and broadened the Espionage Act. It effectively criminalized speech and expression that criticized the government. Whoever “shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag” could receive a $10,000 fine and twenty years in jail. Under the Sedition Act, Americans were arrested for reading aloud the Declaration of Independence or singing German beer-hall songs. Although World War I ended in 1918, the Sedition Act was not repealed until 1921.
More recently, there is the USA PATRIOT Act, passed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. It vastly expanded the federal government’s authority to spy on Americans, while at the same time reducing checks and balances on those powers. It is an assault on both the First and Fifth Amendments. Napolitano terms sections 215 and 505 of the PATRIOT Act as “fatal to freedom,” “weapons of mass surveillance,” and “instruments of a totalitarian government that defy the Constitution.”
The real constitutional crisis
There is currently a constitutional crisis in America, and it has existed since long before the Portland protests and the PATRIOT Act. It is a crisis that has been perpetrated by both political parties in the Congress, approved by the president, sanctioned by the Supreme Court, and carried out by the bureaucrats who administer the myriad departments, bureaus, agencies, corporations, endowments, commissions, administrations, authorities, and boards of the federal government.
The existence of Social Security is a constitutional crisis. Not only is Social Security immoral because it takes money from those who work and gives it to those who don’t, the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have a retirement program, a pension plan, a forced savings account, or a disability plan.
The existence of Medicare and Medicaid is a constitutional crisis. Not only should no American be forced to pay for the health care of any other American, nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to subsidize any American’s health insurance or health care, pay for anyone’s prescription drugs, have health-care programs, or have anything whatever to do with health insurance, health care, or medicine.
The existence of the war on drugs is a constitutional crisis. Not only is the drug war a failure and a colossal waste of the taxpayers’ money, nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to regulate, monitor, or restrict Americans’ consumption, medical, or recreational habits; what Americans put in their mouths, noses, veins, or lungs; or Americans’ eating, drinking, or smoking habits.
The existence of federal aid to education is a constitutional crisis. Nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to have a Head Start program, student loans, Pell Grants, teacher-education or certification requirements, school accreditation, math and science initiatives, a Department of Education, an Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a Higher Education Act, special-education mandates, or national standards, or to have anything to do with the education of anyone’s children. Education should be a service obtained on the free market just like any other service.
The existence of the welfare state is a constitutional crisis. Nowhere does the Constitution authorize the federal government to have food stamps, refundable tax credits, Section 8 housing vouchers, or entitlement programs. Nowhere does the Constitution authorize the government to fight poverty, maintain a safety net, provide public assistance, or guarantee income security. All charity should be private and voluntary.
The existence of foreign aid is a constitutional crisis. Article I, Section 8, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution says that the Congress shall have power “To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States.” It does not say that taxes should be collected to provide for the general welfare of people in other countries. Like domestic charity, foreign charity should be entirely voluntary.
The existence of federal subsidies for art, culture, and the humanities is a constitutional crisis. Government funding for them is basically providing welfare for cultural elitists. It is always immoral for the government to take the resources from some Americans and redistribute them to other Americans. And the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to subsidize them. Although the Constitution does authorize the national government to issue patents and copyrights, it does not follow that that entails giving subsidies to inventors and writers.
The existence of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a constitutional crisis. The TSA provides security for private entities — the airlines. But not only is the security provided not paid for, not asked for, and just security theater, the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to provide security for the airlines or any other private business.
The existence of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (NRPC) is a constitutional crisis. Amtrak, as the NRPC is more commonly known, is a government corporation that has relied on government subsidies every year it has been in operation. But since when does the Constitution authorize the federal government to have a corporation, be a stockholder in a corporation, appoint and confirm a board of directors, or operate a passenger rail service?
The existence of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a constitutional crisis. The existence of the EEOC is predicated on the idea that the federal government should prevent and punish acts of discrimination in employment that it considers to be unjustified. But not only is discrimination not aggression, force, coercion, or violence — and therefore, as far as the law is concerned, not the concern of government — the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to have an EEOC or oversee any employer’s hiring or firing practices.
The existence of the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) is a constitutional crisis. It outlaws the selling of one’s body organs. Aside from the obvious fact that if you own your own body, then you certainly own the organs in your body, the Constitution nowhere authorizes the federal government to be concerned in the least with what Americans want to do with the organs in their body.
What is so perplexing and frustrating about the massive constitutional crisis that the United States is in is that it could quickly and easily be fixed. All federal programs that are not explicitly authorized by the Constitution should be eliminated. All federal departments, bureaus, agencies, corporations, endowments, commissions, administrations, authorities, and boards that carry out functions not explicitly authorized by the Constitution should be shuttered. Doing that would reduce the federal government by about 95 percent. And therein lies the problem. Not only do the Congress, the hundreds of government agencies and programs, and the entrenched bureaucracy resist a reduction in the government of any size, most Americans receive some kind of payment, benefit, or subsidy from the federal government.
The following is a written adaptation for Imprimis of a speech given by Hillsdale College president Larry Arnn last November – Orwell’s 1984 and Today.
On September 17, Constitution Day, I chaired a panel organized by the White House. It was an extraordinary thing. The panel’s purpose was to identify what has gone wrong in the teaching of American history and to lay forth a plan for recovering the truth. It took place in the National Archives—we were sitting in front of the originals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—a very beautiful place. When we were done, President Trump came and gave a speech about the beauty of the American Founding and the importance of teaching American history to the preservation of freedom.
This remarkable event reminded me of an essay by a teacher of mine, Harry Jaffa, called “On the Necessity of a Scholarship of the Politics of Freedom.” Its point was that a certain kind of scholarship is needed to support the principles of a nation such as ours. America is the most deliberate nation in history—it was built for reasons that are stated in the legal documents that form its founding. The reasons are given in abstract and universal terms, and without good scholarship they can be turned astray. I was reminded of that essay because this event was the greatest exhibition in my experience of the combination of the scholarship and the politics of freedom.
The panel was part of an initiative of President Trump, mostly ignored by the media, to counter the New York Times’ 1619 Project. The 1619 Project promotes the teaching that slavery, not freedom, is the defining fact of American history. President Trump’s 1776 Commission aims to restore truth and honesty to the teaching of American history. It is an initiative we must work tirelessly to carry on, regardless of whether we have a president in the White House who is on our side in the fight.
We must carry on the fight because our country is at stake. Indeed, in a larger sense, civilization itself is at stake, because the forces arrayed against the scholarship and the politics of freedom today have more radical aims than just destroying America.
I taught a course this fall semester on totalitarian novels. We read four of them: George Orwell’s 1984, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength.
The totalitarian novel is a relatively new genre. In fact, the word “totalitarian” did not exist before the 20th century. The older word for the worst possible form of government is “tyranny”—a word Aristotle defined as the rule of one person, or of a small group of people, in their own interests and according to their will. Totalitarianism was unknown to Aristotle, because it is a form of government that only became possible after the emergence of modern science and technology.
The old word “science” comes from a Latin word meaning “to know.” The new word “technology” comes from a Greek word meaning “to make.” The transition from traditional to modern science means that we are not so much seeking to know when we study nature as seeking to make things—and ultimately, to remake nature itself. That spirit of remaking nature—including human nature—greatly emboldens both human beings and governments. Imbued with that spirit, and employing the tools of modern science, totalitarianism is a form of government that reaches farther than tyranny and attempts to control the totality of things.
In the beginning of his history of the Persian War, Herodotus recounts that in Persia it was considered illegal even to think about something that was illegal to do—in other words, the law sought to control people’s thoughts. Herodotus makes plain that the Persians were not able to do this. We today are able to get closer through the use of modern technology. In Orwell’s 1984, there are telescreens everywhere, as well as hidden cameras and microphones. Nearly everything you do is watched and heard. It even emerges that the watchers have become expert at reading people’s faces. The organization that oversees all this is called the Thought Police.
If it sounds far-fetched, look at China today: there are cameras everywhere watching the people, and everything they do on the Internet is monitored. Algorithms are run and experiments are underway to assign each individual a social score. If you don’t act or think in the politically correct way, things happen to you—you lose the ability to travel, for instance, or you lose your job. It’s a very comprehensive system. And by the way, you can also look at how big tech companies here in the U.S. are tracking people’s movements and activities to the extent that they are often able to know in advance what people will be doing. Even more alarming, these companies are increasingly able and willing to use the information they compile to manipulate people’s thoughts and decisions.
The protagonist of 1984 is a man named Winston Smith. He works for the state, and his job is to rewrite history. He sits at a table with a telescreen in front of him that watches everything he does. To one side is something called a memory hole—when Winston puts things in it, he assumes they are burned and lost forever. Tasks are delivered to him in cylinders through a pneumatic tube. The task might involve something big, like a change in what country the state is at war with: when the enemy changes, all references to the previous war with a different enemy need to be expunged. Or the task might be something small: if an individual falls out of favor with the state, photographs of him being honored need to be altered or erased altogether from the records. Winston’s job is to fix every book, periodical, newspaper, etc. that reveals or refers to what used to be the truth, in order that it conform to the new truth.
One man, of course, can’t do this alone. There’s a film based on 1984 starring John Hurt as Winston Smith. In the film they depict the room where he works, and there are people in cubicles like his as far as the eye can see. There would have to be millions of workers involved in constantly re-writing the past. One of the chief questions raised by the book is, what makes this worth the effort? Why does the regime do it?
Winston’s awareness of this endless, mighty effort to alter reality makes him cynical and disaffected. He comes to see that he knows nothing of the past, of real history: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified,” he says at one point, “every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. . . . Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” Does any of this sound familiar?
In his disaffection, Winston commits two unlawful acts: he begins writing in a diary and he begins meeting a woman in secret, outside the sanction of the state. The family is important to the state, because the state needs babies. But the women are raised by the state in a way that they are not to enjoy relations with their husbands. And the children—as in China today, and as it was in the Soviet Union—are indoctrinated and taught to spy and inform on their parents. Parents love their children but live in terror of them all the time. Think of the control that comes from that—and the misery.
There are three stratums in the society of 1984. There is the Inner Party, whose members hold all the power. There is the Outer Party, to which Winston belongs, whose members work for—and are watched and controlled by—the Inner Party. And there are the proles, who live and do the blue collar work in a relatively unregulated area. Winston ventures out into that area from time to time. He finds a little shop there where he buys things. And it is in a room upstairs from this shop where he and Julia, the woman he falls in love with, set up a kind of household as if they are married. They create something like a private world in that room, although it is a world with limitations—they can’t even think about having children, for instance, because if they did, they would be discovered and killed.
In the end, it turns out that the shopkeeper, who had seemed to be a kindly old man, is in fact a member of the Thought Police. Winston and Julia’s room contained a hidden telescreen all along, so everything they have said and done has been observed. In fact, it emerges that the Thought Police have known that Winston has been having deviant thoughts for twelve years and have been watching him carefully. When the couple are arrested, they have made pledges that they will never betray each other. They know the authorities will be able to make them say whatever they want them to say—but in their hearts, they pledge, they will be true to their love. It is a promise that neither is finally able to keep.
After months of torture, Winston thinks that what awaits him is a bullet in the back of the head, the preferred method of execution of both the Nazis and the Soviet Communists. In Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, the protagonist walks down a basement hallway after confessing to crimes that he didn’t commit, and without any ceremony he is shot in the back of the head—eradicated as if he were vermin. Winston doesn’t get off so easy. He will instead undergo an education, or more accurately a re-education. His final stages of torture are depicted as a kind of totalitarian seminar. The seminar is conducted by a man named O’Brien, who is portrayed marvelously in the film by Richard Burton. As he alternately raises and lowers the level of Winston’s pain, O’Brien leads him to knowledge regarding the full meaning of the totalitarian regime.
As the first essential step of his education, Winston has to learn doublethink—a way of thinking that defies the law of contradiction. In Aristotle, the law of contradiction is the basis of all reasoning, the means of making sense of the world. It is the law that says that X and Y cannot be true at the same time if they’re mutually exclusive. For instance, if A is taller than B and B is taller than C, C cannot be taller than A. The law of contradiction means things like that.
In our time, the law of contradiction would mean that a governor, say, could not simultaneously hold that the COVID pandemic renders church services too dangerous to allow, and also that massive protest marches are fine. It would preclude a man from declaring himself a woman, or a woman declaring herself a man, as if one’s sex is simply a matter of what one wills it to be—and it would preclude others from viewing such claims as anything other than preposterous.
The law of contradiction also means that we can’t change the past. What we can know of the truth all resides in the past, because the present is fleeting and confusing and tomorrow has yet to come. The past, on the other hand, is complete. Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas go so far as to say that changing the past—making what has been not to have been—is denied even to God. Because if something both happened and didn’t happen, no human understanding is possible. And God created us with the capacity for understanding.
That’s the law of contradiction, which the art of doublethink denies and violates. Doublethink is manifest in the fact that the state ministry in which Winston is tortured is called the Ministry of Love. It is manifest in the three slogans displayed on the state’s Ministry of Truth: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” And as we have seen, the regime in 1984 exists precisely to repeal the past. If the past can be changed, anything can be changed—man can surpass even the power of God. But still, to what end?
Why do you think you are being tortured? O’Brien asks Winston. The Party is not trying to improve you, he says—the Party cares nothing about you. Winston is brought to see that he is where he is simply as the subject of the state’s power. Understanding having been rendered meaningless, the only competence that has meaning is power.
“Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution,” O’Brien says.
We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. . . . There will be no loyalty, except loyalty toward the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. . . . All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.
Nature is ultimately unchangeable, of course, and humans are not God. Totalitarianism will never win in the end—but it can win long enough to destroy a civilization. That is what is ultimately at stake in the fight we are in. We can see today the totalitarian impulse among powerful forces in our politics and culture. We can see it in the rise and imposition of doublethink, and we can see it in the increasing attempt to rewrite our history.
“An informed patriotism is what we want,” Ronald Reagan said toward the end of his Farewell Address as president in January 1989. “Are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?”
Then he issued a warning.
Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.
But now, we’re about to enter the [1990s], and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. . . . We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom—freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.
So, we’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important—why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, four years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who’d fought on Omaha Beach. . . . [S]he said, “we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did.” Well, let’s help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.
American schoolchildren today learn two things about Thomas Jefferson: that he wrote the Declaration of Independence and that he was a slaveholder. This is a stunted and dishonest teaching about Jefferson.
What do our schoolchildren not learn? They don’t learn what Jefferson wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just,” he wrote in that book regarding the contest between the master and the slave. “The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.” If schoolchildren learned that, they would see that Jefferson was a complicated man, like most of us.
They don’t learn that when our nation first expanded, it was into the Northwest Territory, and that slavery was forbidden in that territory. They don’t learn that the land in that territory was ceded to the federal government from Virginia, or that it was on the motion of Thomas Jefferson that the condition of the gift was that slavery in that land be eternally forbidden. If schoolchildren learned that, they would come to see Jefferson as a human being who inherited things and did things himself that were terrible, but who regretted those things and fought against them. And they would learn, by the way, that on the scale of human achievement, Jefferson ranks very high. There’s just no question about that, if for no other reason than that he was a prime agent in founding the first republic dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
The astounding thing, after all, is not that some of our Founders were slaveholders. There was a lot of slavery back then, as there had been for all of recorded time. The astounding thing—the miracle, even, one might say—is that these slaveholders founded a republic based on principles designed to abnegate slavery.
To present young people with a full and honest account of our nation’s history is to invest them with the spirit of freedom. It is to teach them something more than why our country deserves their love, although that is a good in itself. It is to teach them that the people in the past, even the great ones, were human and had to struggle. And by teaching them that, we prepare them to struggle with the problems and evils in and around them. Teaching them instead that the past was simply wicked and that now they are able to see so perfectly the right, we do them a disservice and fit them to be slavish, incapable of developing sympathy for others or undergoing trials on their own.
Depriving the young of the spirit of freedom will deprive us all of our country. It could deprive us, finally, of our humanity itself. This cannot be allowed to continue. It must be stopped.
Tom Luongo at Gold Goats ‘n Guns writes Big Tech’s Purge is Only Beginning… For Them
There’s nothing easy about living through a political coup. The Big Tech firms long in cahoots with our government have been pushing a false narrative of evil MAGA-Nazis trying to undermine polite society for more than four years now.
Suppression started with Milo Yiannopoulos, accelerated to include Alex Jones and InfoWars and reach a temporary peak in 2018 with the persecution of alternative social media platform Gab in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting.
I said this then in a piece entitled: Attack on Gab Proves Speech Was Never Free:
Friday’s attack by an unhinged, vile piece of human excrement on a Synagogue in Pittsburgh wasn’t hours old before real world agendas pushed to the top of the news.
Twitter alternative Gab was immediately dropped by PayPal without specific reasons.
Then immediately, Gab’s latest hosting service unilaterally gave the company a 48-hour termination notice of its contract.
Gab was hounded to the point of extermination and only a herculean effort by CEO and total warrior Andrew Torba and his staff kept the company afloat. Today Gab can only take Bitcoin and checks for payment. Torba himself has no banking privileges or access to credit, payment processors etc.
All for what? Running a social network where someone posted something terrible hours before doing something terrible?
Or was this a political hit job? The coordination of the event with the response is a little too convenient for any person of room temperature or higher intelligence to stomach.
The Rhyme Without Reason
Sound familiar to what happened to Parler? The attack then on Gab was a dry run for this weekend. If no one would stand up for Gab who didn’t have the resources to fight this in court, then when it came time to do it for real to a more high profile firm they knew it would stand up.
No one listened. We all kept retweeting Trump and I even finally broke down and bought an iPhone. Parler just got the Gab treatment literally over nothing.
I’m not going to say both events were scripted false flags (though there’s certainly enough evidence that there was something really hinckey going on at the Capitol) but they certainly had their action plans ready for when the right trigger occured.
In fact, I’d argue that it’s more likely the people posting vile garbage on these networks is a plant than a real violent dissident. We know that the FBI, for example, infiltrates militia groups all the time and in some cases there are more agents working undercover than there are actual militia guys.
When you’re in the narrative creation business and we know that a minimum of 30% of users on Twitter aren’t real but bots, is it really a stretch to think a Deep State actor isn’t posting inflammatory shit on Parler to give the tech giants the excuse they need to do the thing they desperately want to do anyway, namely destroy their up and coming competition?
These companies have normalized suppression of speech in the public commons that their networks operate on top of. I remind people all the time that they are bandwidth pigs, feeding at the subsidized trough of publicly-built and maintained infrastructure.
Trump’s biggest sin in his time as president wasn’t, to these people, saying inflammatory things, it was getting rid of their cashcow, Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality took pricing of bandwidth out of the hands of consumers. It handed the profits from it to Google, Facebook and all the crappy advertisers spamming video ads, malware, scams, and the like everywhere.
By mandating ‘equal access’ and equal fee structures the advertisers behind Google and Facebook would spend their budgets without much thought or care. Google and Facebook ad revenue soared under Net Neutrality because advertisers’ needs are not aligned with Google’s bottom line, but with consumers’.
And, because of that, the price paid to deliver the ad, i.e. Google’s cost of goods sold (COGS), thanks to Net Neutrality, was held artificially low. And Google, Facebook and the Porn Industry pocketed the difference.
They grew uncontrollably. In the case of Google and Facebook, uncontrollably powerful.
Look, I’m more than okay with saying that Apple, Google or Facebook have the right to restrict content on their services, but only if they are also doing that over their own privately-built public networks, their own private wires.
But, we all know that isn’t the case. They utilize the public airwaves, fiber trunks, satellites etc. that we paid to build. As libertarians we’ve always argued that freedom of association also meant freedom from association.
That freedom, through the application of private property, also comes with responsibility to the counter-party in any and all interactions. No one would have allowed these companies to build these networks in a true private property regime.
No way would they have become this big, this powerful or this cowardly if they had had to bear the true costs of their business roll out. These aren’t the bastions of the free market conservatives (and even classical liberals to an extent) think they are.
They are, ultimately, as we’ve seen from their actions this week, the biggest welfare queens in the world simply stepping on the competition to ensure conformity of information flow.
Continued Section 230 immunity has elevated their ever-changing Terms of Service above the proscriptions against limiting speech in the Bill of Rights.
Moreover, these firms use these Terms of Service to provide no guarantee of service. These ToS’s are contracts of adhesion, entered into where one party has unequal standing versus the counter-party.
But, since the whole idea of living under a coercive government is one big contract of adhesion, since you really aren’t an equal partner to the government in the social contract nor did you have any choice but to sign on the moment you were born, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when that reality is shoved into our faces when their power is threatened.
This is the fundamental problem with accepting any of these ideas as valid. The whole society is structured around these enshrined power imbalances and we think we’re going to upend them by voting for Orange Man Bad?
The way they operate is far beyond the strictures placed on governments themselves, who have to at least create Byzantine rules to obfuscate the tyranny and force us into a corrupt and expensive court system stacked against us to get the barest minimum of injunctive relief, assuming the judge isn’t a partisan hack or a congenital moron.
I think it’s rich that a person like Angela Merkel, the first political leader to send police into a person’s home for posting hate speech on Facebook, is now clutching her pearls over the censorship by Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Google.
Spare me the crocodile tears Frau Stasi.
Because now, anyone to the right of your rank and file BLM member is looking over their shoulder waiting for the hammer to fall on them. It has become commonplace on Twitter for the star-bellied bluechecks to call out for blood against any and all Trump supporters or worse, *shudder* Republicans.
They should be driven to the brink of extinction. Denied jobs or a living for using the wrong pronoun because they are simply, too stupid to matter. We’ve got people honestly thinking it’s okay to take children out of your home for voting for the wrong party.
What comes next is even worse, vaguely-worded legislation from D.C. supporting these companies’ hyper-aggressive market defense, we’re already being treated to it by none other than AOC.
This is all the bad news I can come up with (today). What I do know, however, is that what comes next is that Facebook, Twitter and Google have whistled far beyond their graveyards here.
The backlash will against them will be epic. Shareholder lawsuits as stock prices plummet will gut them leaving them in the position to be bailed out or nationalized by the government.
Because, at the very least, there is still some semblance of sanity in that corner of the legal system. These companies have attacked and alienated their customers. In the process they have tainted their brand and if their stock prices do not recover will have real problems in the future.
They may look invincible now, but wait until the government under control of totalitarians like Pelosi, AOC, Schumer and the rest, turn on them and gobble them up to regain their credibility with a rightfully outraged and horrified public.
The best thing all of us can do is complete that transition to other services, deploy our time, expertise and investible capital into building censorship-proof communications platforms without an owner to lean on.
All things built on a nodal structure have critical points of failure. Amazon nuked Parler, not Apple or Google. Gab is proof that a social network doesn’t need an app to survive or even thrive.
Finding Our Way Home
Dave Rubin, major partner in Locals, is convinced the days of monolithic, massive social networks are numbered and we’ll all be congregating into smaller, more intimate communities. And I don’t disagree with him.
In fact, I hope he’s right.
I’ve tried to use Patreon this way to bring people together. It’s why I started a private server on Slack for people to congregate away from the insanity of Twitter. It thrives today as a place where only the most interested and committed people hang out, share ideas and help each other.
It’s a community. The very thing lefties think libertarians are no good at building. Don’t let the wrapper fool you, though. Community is all we ever have on our minds.
Discord and Telegram are exploding as we go back to the days of Usenet and Yahoo Groups dedicated to specific topics of like-minded people. Gab has had private groups for years now.
The cries about echo chambers being a bad thing are falling on deaf ears all across the spectrum. People complain at me all the time that there are no use-cases for cryptocurrency and blockchains and I just look at them like they are children.
Now more than at any other point in history is there the opportunity for a real, properly-built and decentralized social media platform owned by those that hold the governance tokens and not a corporation or organization which is corruptible.
Because we’ve seen how that story ends.
From The Federalist, Democrats Are Using The Recent Capitol Riot To Consolidate Power
The Capitol Hill riot was an inexcusable, pathetic, and disgraceful display. Its consequences will extend well beyond the bloodshed and property damage inflicted by those who shamefully acceded to the left’s view that force is legitimate means of persuasion — exhibited repeatedly via the left’s normalization of political incitement and violence throughout President Trump’s term in office.
The riot not only overshadowed the corruption that marked the 2020 election and undermined the MAGA movement’s people and principles, but set up Americans of all political stripes for an onslaught on their rights and cherished freedoms. The riot was an accelerant for what was already likely planned under Democrat rule in Washington: crushing dissenters from its leftist orthodoxy as part of an effort to achieve total power by disenfranchising the opposition.
President Trump has personified this dissent, but the effort to delegitimize, de-platform, and ultimately destroy him and anyone around him is merely the opening scene of the “Godfather”-like settling of scores with all who threaten the ruling class’s power and privilege. This effort will directly harm not just the thousands of peaceful patriots who had descended on Washington D.C., and their tens of millions of like-minded neighbors across the country, but all Americans.
The coming crackdown on dissenters in the political realm was pre-ordained in the wee hours of Jan. 6, when both Georgia Senate seats flipped to the Democrats. Now, should Senate Democrats successfully blow up the filibuster, they will work to pass an agenda in which any one item, let alone all, could put Democrats in a virtually unshakeable control of the federal government for years to come.
They have made no secret of their agenda, which includes such items as mass amnesty for illegal aliens, statehood for Washington, D.C., statehood for Puerto Rico, and federal enshrinement of mail-in voting through a re-upped H.R. 1. Needless to say, total leftist political control will erode liberty and justice, and be used to target dissenters in cruel and unusual ways.
In the near-term, the Capitol Hill riot has served as a pretext for other corrosive political acts: calls for the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president, a second impeachment vote; consultations between the speaker of the House and the Pentagon about preventing the president from accessing the nuclear codes and discharging his other duties; and calls by our national security and legal apparatus against conservatives and their speech — all under the pretense of combatting domestic terrorism and punishing “incitement.”
This is not purely an issue of politics, for it will encompass all of civil society. The coming assault on dissenters will play out in arenas that far transcend our increasingly unrepresentative government.
Its adjuncts in big tech, woke capital, corporate media, and beyond have already started participating in the purge, of their own volition, in a continuation of the anti-cultural revolution of summer 2020. It is nothing less than the weaponization of civil society institutions against political dissenters, in conjunction with and often indirectly supported by the state. Americans are now primed to punish their fellow Americans for Wrongthink to a greater extent than we have seen before.
It will go far beyond banning the president of the United States from major social media platforms, purging countless like-minded voices, and stymieing their alternative means of communication. It will go far beyond pulling a U.S. senator’s publishing deal. It will go far beyond even firing people purportedly acting peacefully at political rallies. Ultimately, it will extend across every aspect of the digital world, and affect real life as well.
Yes, we are headed towards something like China’s “Great Firewall,” where, albeit without the power of a government gun, big tech will silence speech that challenges the ruling class’s official narratives, disappear the digital profiles of those who run afoul of its ever-changing terms of service, and take down websites where alternative ideas might proliferate.
More chilling is this thought: What is to stop the crackdown from going beyond communications to where and how you can work, bank, travel, eat, shop, obtain health insurance, and send your kids to school?
Think, for a second, about everything you do in daily life. Consider how reliant you are on goods and services controlled by entities in whole or in part run by executives who either hate your political views or think they can survive by currying favor with those who are contemptuous.
The left has already said it is making lists to prevent Trump administration personnel from getting jobs in the private sector. What’s to stop them or their allies in the media and corporate America from doing the same to any of us?
Is there any apparent limiting principle that will keep us from developing a CCP-style “social credit system with Western characteristics” — as my Federalist colleague Sumantra Maitra has put it — whereby private enterprises grade us on ideology and determine what we can and cannot do based on how closely we hew to its ideology?
In a world where politics has become all-pervasive, virtue-signaling demands not only disavowing but punishing the 74 million enablers of what the left has been asserting for years is Nazism. As in so many other matters, they have been projecting onto the right what the left itself endorses.
If you accede to the view that anything that challenges the prevailing progressive orthodoxy constitutes violence, then you will take any means necessary to snuff it out. There are an awful lot of true believers, useful idiots, cynics, and cowed people across American life seemingly willing to adhere to such a principle. It will likely push us to ideological segregation, which will only further fuel hostilities, strife, and chaos.
America’s Cold Civil War will only heat up as those with all the power take precisely the wrong lessons from the Capitol Hill riot and, rather than seeking to represent millions of Americans and address their concerns, simply chooses to punish or silence them.
James Bovard at AIER talks about Congressional Hypocrisy and the Crackdown
The political frenzy 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 compared the ruckus to Pearl Harbor – a “day of infamy.” Schumer complained that the “temple to democracy was desecrated… our offices vandalized.” 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. At some points 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.”
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.
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.
Violence of all types should be condemned, including that which comes from the government itself. SWAT teams carrying out no-knock raids happen 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. The same standard should also apply to government officials in other contexts 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 “rummaging through desks. 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.
We should also condemn 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.
We should also condemn 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.
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, There are already more than enough criminal laws and the feds should concentrate on discovering and vigorously prosecuting the individuals who attacked police.
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.” 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.”
It is possible to condemn both the protestors and the career politicians whose perennial abuses have been lessening Americans’ trust in the federal government.
This article comes from the law firm of Prince Law. ATF to Institute Rulemaking Regarding Stabilizing Braces and Require Registration of Currently Owned Braces
In a 16 page draft copy of proposed rulemaking specifying “Objective Factors for Classifying Stablizing Braces”, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has proposed entering into rulemaking to delineate the objective factors considered when “evaluating firearms with an attached stabilizing brace to determine whether they are considered firearms under the National Firearms Act (‘NFA’) and/or the Gun Control Act (‘GCA)” and the Department of Justice’s plan to “subsequently implement a separate process for current possessors of stabilizer-equipped firearms to choose to register such firearms in compliance with the NFA.”
While the proposed rulemaking has not yet been published in the Federal Register, it is expected to be published in the upcoming weeks and interestingly – seemingly in violation of the law – ATF is only providing a 14 day comment period, at least, pursuant to the draft copy. “Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted on or before [INSERT DATE 14 DAYS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER].” It would not surprise me if the proposed rulemaking is published on December 24th, so that most interested individuals and businesses will be distracted by the holidays and unable to respond in the two week response period. To prevent against these types of shenanigans, the Gun Control Act mandates a 90 day comment period.
As more information becomes known, we will update this blog post or publish new ones, depending on the development.
If you or your company wish to file a comment in support or opposition to a notice of proposed rulemaking by a federal administrative agency, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss your rights and legal options.
Ryan McMaken at the Mises Institute talks about Why Governments Hate Decentralization and “Local Control”. No one with power wants to have to exercise that power through intermediaries; they want direct control.
In recent decades, many have claimed that advances in communications and transportation would eliminate the different political, economic, and cultural characteristics peculiar to residents of different regions within the United States. It is true the cultural difference between a rural mechanic and an urban barista is smaller today than was the case in 1900. Yet recent national elections suggest that geography is still an important factor in understanding the many differences the prevail across different regions within the US. Urban centers, suburban neighborhoods, and rural towns still are characterized by certain cultural, religious, and economic interests that are hardly uniform across the landscape.
In a country as large as the United States, of course, this has long been a reality of American life. But even in far smaller countries, such as the larger states of Europe, the problem of creating a national regime designed to rule over a large diverse population has long preoccupied political theorists. At the same time, the problem of limiting this state power has especially been of interest to proponents of “classical” liberalism—including its modern variant, “libertarianism”—who are concerned with protecting human rights and property rights from the grasping power of political regimes.
The de facto “answer,” to the this problem, unfortunately, has been to empower national states at the expense of local self-determination and institutions which had long provided barriers between individual persons and powerful national states. Some liberals, such as John Stuart Mill, have even endorsed this, thinking that mass democracy and national legislatures could be employed to protect the rights of regional minorities.
But not all liberals have agreed, and some have understood that decentralization and the maintenance of local institutions and local power centers can offer a critical obstacle to state power.
The Growth of the State and the Decline of Local Powers
Among the best observers and critics of this phenomenon are the great French liberals of the nineteenth century, who watched this process of centralization unfold during the rise of absolutism under the Bourbon monarchy and during the revolution.1
Many of these liberals—Alexis de Tocqueville and Benjamin Constant in particular—understood how historical local autonomy in cities and regions throughout France had offered resistance to these efforts to centralize and consolidate the French state’s power.
Alexis de Tocqueville explains the historical context in Democracy in America:
During the aristocratic ages which preceded the present time, the sovereigns of Europe had been deprived of, or had relinquished, many of the rights inherent in their power. Not a hundred years ago, amongst the greater part of European nations, numerous private persons and corporations were sufficiently independent to administer justice, to raise and maintain troops, to levy taxes, and frequently even to make or interpret the law.
These “secondary powers” provided numerous centers of political power beyond the reach and control of the centralized powers held by the French state. But by the late eighteenth century, they were rapidly disappearing:
At the same period a great number of secondary powers existed in Europe, which represented local interests and administered local affairs. Most of these local authorities have already disappeared; all are speedily tending to disappear, or to fall into the most complete dependence. From one end of Europe to the other the privileges of the nobility, the liberties of cities, and the powers of provincial bodies, are either destroyed or upon the verge of destruction.
This, Tocqueville understood, was no mere accident and did not occur without the approval and encouragement of national sovereigns. Although these trends were accelerated in France by the Revolution, this was not limited to France, and there were larger ideological and sociological trends at work:
The State has everywhere resumed to itself alone these natural attributes of sovereign power; in all matters of government the State tolerates no intermediate agent between itself and the people, and in general business it directs the people by its own immediate influence.
Naturally, powerful states are not enthusiastic about having to work through intermediaries when the central state could instead exercise direct power through its bureaucracy and by employing a centrally controlled machinery of coercion. Thus, if states can dispense with the inconveniences of “local sovereignty” this enables the sovereign power to exercise its own power all the more completely.
The Power of Local Allegiance and Local Customs
When states are dominated by any single political center, other centers of social and economic life often arise in opposition. This is because human society is by nature quite diverse in itself, and especially so across different regions and cities. Different economic realities, different religions, and different demographics (among other factors) tend to produce a wide range of diverse views and interests. Over time, these habits and interests supported in a particular time and place begin form into local “traditions” of various sorts.
Benjamin Constant, a leading French liberal of the nineteenth century, understood these differences could serve as effective barriers to centralized state power. Or, as noted by historian Ralph Raico: “Constant appreciated the importance of voluntary traditions, those generated by the free activity of society itself….Constant emphasized the value of these old ways in the struggle against state power.”
In his book Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments, Constant complains that many liberals of his time, having been influenced by Montesquieu, embraced the ideal of uniformity in laws and political institutions.
This, Constant warns, is a mistake and tends to create more powerful centralized states, which then proceed to violate the very rights that Montesquieu thought could be preserved through uniformity.
But political uniformity can lead down very dangerous paths, Constant insists, concluding, “It is by sacrificing everything to exaggerated ideas of uniformity that large States have become a scourge for humanity.” This is because large politically uniform states can only reach this level of uniformity by employing the state’s coercive power to force uniformity on the people. The people do not give up their local traditions and institutions easily and therefore, Constant continues,
It is clear that different portions of the same people, placed in circumstances, brought up in customs, living in places, which are all dissimilar, cannot be led to absolutely the same manners, usages, practices, and laws, without a coercion which would cost them more than it is worth.
This may not be “worth it” to the people, but it appears to be worth it to the regime. Thus, states over the past several centuries have expended immense amounts of time and treasure to break down local resistance, impose national languages, and homogenize national institutions. When this process is successful, a nation’s laws end up reflecting the preferences and concerns of those from the dominant region or population at the expense of everyone else. When it comes to these large centralized states, Constant writes:
one must not underestimate their multiple and terrible drawbacks. Their size requires an activism and force at the heart of government which is difficult to contain and degenerates into despotism. The laws come from a point so far from those to whom they are supposed to apply that the inevitable effect of such distance is serious and frequent error. Local injustices never reach the heart of government. Placed in the capital, it takes the views of its surrounding area or at the very most of its place of residence for those of the whole State. A local or passing circumstance thus becomes the reason for a general law, and the inhabitants of the most distant provinces are suddenly surprised by unexpected innovations, unmerited severity, vexatious regulations, undermining the basis of all their calculations, and all the safeguards of their interests, because two hundred leagues away men who are total strangers to them had some inkling of agitation, divined certain needs, or perceived certain dangers.
For Constant, the diversity among communities ought not be seen a problem to solve, but rather as a bulwark against state power. Moreover, it is not enough to speak only of individual freedoms and prerogatives when discussing the limits of state power. Rather, it is important to actively encourage local institutional independence as well:
Local interests and memories contain a principle of resistance which government allows only with regret and which it is keen to uproot. It makes even shorter work of individuals. It rolls its immense mass effortlessly over them, as over sand.
Ultimately, this local institutional strength is key because for Constant state power can be successfully limited when it is possible to “skillfully combine institutions and place within them certain counterweights against the vices and weaknesses of men.”
Unfortunately, it appears even the last few institutional vestiges of localism are under attack from the forces of political centralization. Whether it is attacks on Brexit in Europe, or denunciations of the electoral college in the United States, even limited and weak appeals to local control and self-determination are met with the utmost contempt from countless pundits and intellectuals. Two centuries after Tocqueville and Constant, regimes still recognize decentralization as a threat. Those who seek to limit state power should take the hint.
- 1. Murray Rothbard also viewed the rise of French absolutism as an attack on local control and local prerogatives. See Ryan McMaken, “Medievalism, Absolutism, and the French Revolution,” Mises Wire, July 12, 2019.
In a video somewhat echoing the Viking Preparedness video that we posted yesterday, Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen talks about how things in the world seem to be moving more toward a feudal control of the people.
Mainstream media has declared Biden as winner of the US election 2020. Allegations of fraud doesn’t matter, Biden is president and covid will now be dealt with. The bias and smugness is amazing. In this video, I explain why I believe we are moving towards neo-feudalism. – Bjorn
From Thomas Firey at the Cato Institute, Government in a Pandemic
When the threat of COVID-19 became apparent, some political commentators began arguing that Americans must accept much greater governmental intervention in their lives if the United States were to respond effectively to the disease. This idea was soon distilled into a pithy slogan: “There are no libertarians in a pandemic.”
In fact, government can respond effectively to the historic COVID-19 crisis while following the principles of limited government. However, federal, state, and local governments in the United States have done a poor job of identifying and implementing good policies for the pandemic that are compatible with those principles. Instead, policymakers have attempted interventions far beyond the powers of a properly limited government—with poor results.
Americans and their political leaders are understandably worried about COVID-19 and its effects, both on human health and the economy. That worry may indeed lead some people to reflexively demand broad government intervention. But if the United States follows the principles of limited government, those principles will help see us through this crisis.
When the threat to the United States from the novel 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) became apparent, political leaders and commentators began calling for large governmental interventions to counter the disease’s health and economic effects. Many of these people added that the political philosophy of limited government—“liberalism” in the classical sense—would handicap the country’s response to the crisis and thus must be rejected. This was soon distilled into a pithy slogan: “There are no libertarians in a pandemic.”
As COVID-19’s grim health toll and economic statistics have accumulated, the criticisms of liberalism have grown louder.
Appropriate to the era, the “no libertarians” slogan was popularized by a Twitter post: Atlantic staff writer Derek Thompson used it to introduce a news item about Republican lawmakers advocating public funding for COVID-19 testing and for treatment of uninsured victims of the disease.1 A week later, his Atlantic colleague Peter Nicholas used a variant of the slogan as the title of a column criticizing President Trump for campaigning on “anti‐socialism” while his administration pushed a host of extraordinary interventions into the economy in response to the pandemic.2 “Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, in a national emergency, there’s no truly laissez‐faire government,” Nicholas wrote.
Others quickly picked up the theme. New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo, noting the same news item as Thompson, concluded, “Everyone’s a socialist in a pandemic.”3 Ryan LaRochelle, a lecturer at the University of Maine, wrote in the Washington Post that a “decades‐long war on the safety net and the government’s administrative capacity [has] made our society particularly vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact on our economic life. This has seriously hampered the federal government’s response to the coronavirus and shown how dangerously ill‐suited this ideology is to the crisis.”4
Perhaps the sharpest criticisms came from essayist and novelist George Packer, who bemoaned “a federal government crippled by years of right‐wing ideological assault” and “politicians and donors who wanted government to do as little as possible for the common good.”5 He described a dystopian America that, without active management from Washington, DC, is nearly powerless against COVID-19:
Every morning in the endless month of March, Americans woke up to find themselves citizens of a failed state. With no national plan—no coherent instructions at all—families, schools, and offices were left to decide on their own whether to shut down and take shelter. When test kits, masks, gowns, and ventilators were found to be in desperately short supply, governors pleaded for them from the White House, which stalled, then called on private enterprise, which couldn’t deliver. States and cities were forced into bidding wars that left them prey to price gouging and corporate profiteering. Civilians took out their sewing machines to try to keep ill‐equipped hospital workers healthy and their patients alive. Russia, Taiwan, and the United Nations sent humanitarian aid to the world’s richest power—a beggar nation in utter chaos.6
As for the idea that private actors could respond to the virus, Packer asserted simply, “It turns out that ‘nimble’ companies can’t prepare for a catastrophe or distribute lifesaving goods—only a competent federal government can do that.”7
The belief that COVID-19 shows the need for bigger, more interventionist government has not been confined to the left of the U.S. political spectrum. The right, which in previous decades repeatedly declared a commitment to “small government,” began talking about the need to boost “state capacity” to respond to the pandemic and other problems. Two of the right’s up‐and‐coming leaders, Sens. Marco Rubio (R–FL) and Josh Hawley (R–MO), pushed large‐scale government financial assistance programs, with Rubio helping to craft the Paycheck Protection Program that has blossomed into a roughly $650 billion subsidy to businesses.8 Its creation was part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that provides federal support to businesses, households, and state governments.9 The CARES Act passed with overwhelming support from Republican lawmakers and was signed by President Trump, who had his name prominently stamped on the ensuing household subsidy checks.10
Those efforts are in accordance with the new “national conservative” movement, which endorses government intervention in the economy to promote a host of goals.11 As one of the movement’s intellectual leaders, Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told Politico about policymaking in response to COVID-19:
This is going to jump‐start the already simmering debate over how the right should deal with domestic policy. Clearly there’s going to be demand for many types of stimulus. There’s going to be demand for the view that we’re not going to let this happen again. And a libertarian, hands‐off policy doesn’t really respond to that.12
These calls for government to intervene in response to COVID-19 are understandable. The disease is often painful and sometimes fatal, and it is produced by a novel virus that spreads through social contact. As yet, there is no known effective vaccine against the virus, and treatment therapies are limited. People naturally want something to “fix” a crisis, and they look for government to be that powerful fixer. It is comforting to envision government scientists in their labs probing the virus, government doctors tending to the infected and uninfected alike, government financing research and development on therapies and vaccines, and government policymakers, counseled by sage experts, directing the public toward safety and away from danger.
That’s the vision; the reality is different. Government leaders and their advisers have been operating with imperfect knowledge about the recently discovered disease, resulting in public recommendations and policies that, especially in the early months of the outbreak, have been wasteful at best and harmful at worst. Though a number of those failures can be attributed to an especially inept Trump administration, they can be found across the political spectrum, at different levels of government, and among both the virtuous and dishonorable.
Government does have important roles to play in a pandemic. However, those roles are consistent with the principles of limited government. This analysis examines some of those interventions—constraining negative externalities and providing public goods—and notes instances where government has performed poorly in those areas when responding to COVID-19. The analysis also discusses interventions that limited government should not undertake—such as manipulating the production and distribution of private goods—but that government has attempted broadly in this crisis, with poor results.
Limited Government and Market Failure
Critics of limited government often equate it with anarchy, the lack of any government activity. That equivalence is false. The philosophy of limited government does place the highest value on individual liberty, including people’s freedom to privately arrange for the satisfaction of their wants. These arrangements often take place in the market, an arena for many forms of voluntary exchange. So, rather than rejecting government altogether, valuing liberty means creating important roles for government in protecting the freedom of exchange and private ordering.
Among the oldest roles of the state is defending its citizens from violent invaders, thereby protecting against a dramatic disruption of the market. This defense is difficult, if not impossible, to provide through purely private agreement. Residents operating individually would be hard‐pressed to fend off an invading horde, and private mutual aid agreements or contracts employing mercenaries would be weakened by residents who did not join the arrangement or who joined only when a threat was imminent. A defense that protects only parts of a community is a defense penetrated by invaders.
Defense is an example of market failure: a want that cannot be adequately addressed through private exchange. Specifically, defense is an example of market failure known as a public good. Public goods are difficult to limit only to individuals who pay for them; the goods must be provided to everyone in a community if the goods are to have much value. If left to private exchange, residents would be tempted to not purchase the goods but instead free‐ride on the purchases of others. That would result in only some residents—or perhaps none—purchasing the goods. That, in turn, would reduce the funding and quality of the public goods provided, to the detriment of all residents, including those who do purchase the goods.
Government can provide its citizens public goods via taxation. Government can produce the goods itself (e.g., by employing troops to provide defense) or contract with a private provider to furnish them (e.g., purchasing materiel to equip the troops). The key is that taxation overcomes the market failure by requiring citizens to pay for the goods. Besides defense, examples of public goods include police and fire services (private security and firefighters cannot ignore crimes and fires at noncustomers’ properties without putting their customers at risk), street lights (the lighting’s benefit cannot be limited to customers), and—at least until recently—local roads (before technological advances, it was prohibitively costly to toll local roads).
Other types of market failure exist. Though there is no definitive list, several forms are commonly recognized. One of these is externalities, which are costs or benefits of an exchange that are borne by some party other than the participants who agree to the exchange. Externalities result in less welfare than if all involved parties had voluntarily reached agreement. For instance, a polluting factory inflicts a cost (negative externality) on its neighbors, who may not be part of the voluntary exchange between the factory and its customers. Positive externalities, in which a third party receives a benefit, are less commonly cited as a problem, but they do exist.
Government can intervene to address other market failures.13 Often, such policies take the form of laws, regulations, and enforcement. For instance, environmental law is intended to reduce the negative externality of pollution.
Minimizing Government Failure
From an economic perspective, under a properly limited government, market failure is a necessary but insufficient condition for government intervention. Another necessary condition is that the proposed policy does not violate established liberties. Also, intervention always comes with costs, and those costs must not outweigh the benefits.
Further complicating matters, many of the troublesome dynamics that produce market failures also afflict government policymakers and bureaucrats, producing government failures.14 For instance, policymakers often suffer from imperfect information, resulting in bad policies.15 Also, policymakers and bureaucrats are motivated by private incentives just like everyone else, and those incentives can yield misguided—and even corrupt—outcomes.16 Unlike in the marketplace, where interaction is voluntary and participants can look for the exchanges that best fit their wants, citizens are compelled to abide by and pay for the choices of government policymakers and bureaucrats regardless of how sensible those choices may be. Classical liberal principles help to minimize those problems.
Despite the constraint of limited government, there is much it can do to address COVID-19 by focusing on the market failures associated with the disease. Unfortunately, the U.S. federal government and some state and local governments have struggled to identify and implement such policies. Instead, they have intervened in ways beyond the powers of properly limited government, with poor results. The following sections describe some of those government failures.
Limited Government and COVID-19
Several market failures are present in the COVID-19 crisis. Among them:
- Negative externality: Infected persons can transmit the virus that causes the disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2), through common social contact. Transmission involuntarily inflicts costs on others, making it a negative externality. As libertarians often say, “People’s right to swing their fists ends at the tip of another’s nose”; likewise, people’s liberty ends at the point that they put others at involuntary risk.
- The public goods of medical research: People want to avoid the disease and recover from it quickly if they are infected. That creates market incentives for research into the virus and disease and distribution of the findings. But the benefits from that work are difficult to confine to the individuals who pay for it. Information is easily transmitted, and the academic world rewards the broad distribution of many types of research to accelerate scientific discovery. That makes research into SARS‐CoV‐2 and COVID-19, and the resulting knowledge, public goods. Though some people would still pay for that work even if others free‐ride on the results, private funding would likely be below optimal levels.
- The public good of acquired immunity: Relatedly, an effective vaccine against the virus has public goods characteristics. A population can become resistant to an infectious disease if only a portion of its members develop resistance to it, a phenomenon known as “herd immunity.” Some diseases require high member immunity rates to produce this resistance—80 percent or more—but others have lower thresholds.17 Currently there is no scientific consensus on a threshold for COVID-19, though early guesses by epidemiologists fall in the 60–70 percent range, and one study argues that it could be as low as 43 percent.18 Those numbers suggest that a third to more than half of the population could free‐ride on others’ bearing the cost of the vaccine, allowing for a public goods problem.
Some government interventions are justified to address these market failures regarding COVID-19, provided that the interventions’ benefits outweigh the costs and that the interventions do not violate protected rights. The U.S. federal government and state and local governments have made efforts at this sort of policymaking. Below are a few examples…(continues)
From Willis Krumholz at The Federalist, If Americans Can No Longer Trust Our Elections, We’re In Big Trouble
The polls from the major networks and universities promised a blue wave. President Trump was down by at least 10 points nationally, and by nearly that much or more in the major swing states. The few pollsters, including Trafalgar, who got 2016 and 2018 right and called 2020 a close race, were widely ridiculed.
Nate Silver, a leftwing poll analyst, was chief among the critics. Silver gave former Vice President Joe Biden a nearly 70 percent chance of winning Florida.
Immediately on Election Day, turnout looked good for the GOP. Trump won Florida decisively and by 8:30 p.m. Central Time, and made huge inroads in urban areas. While Hillary Clinton won Miami-Dade County by 30 points in 2016, the 2020 Trump ticket was down only single digits in the county.
That’s because Trump made significant gains among nonwhite Americans, and according to exit polls had the second-highest nonwhite share of the vote of any Republican since 1976. Cuban Americans are a big reason for Trump decisively winning Florida, but Trump’s gains with minority voters are a nationwide trend. The flipside was lower black and Hispanic turnout for Democrats—except for several major Democratic cities in contested swing states.
In other words, a significant margin of minority voters who didn’t defect to Trump decided not to vote. Indeed, a Bloomberg article days before the election cited anonymous Biden officials who said the campaign was worried about black and Hispanic turnout due to a lack of a ground game in these traditionally Democratic strongholds. But the warnings had gone unheeded.
Instead, the campaign hoped to make up these lost minority votes with gains in the suburbs, particularly among white women. In the end, Trump gained among white women compared to 2016, and only appeared to marginally lose votes from white men—many of which may have been upper-class suburban white men.
Back to Election Night
On election night, Trump’s decisive win in Florida was a bellwether to punters in the betting markets. The Trump campaign also seemed to outperform Election Day voting in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, especially given the turnout seen in Florida. A shy Trump vote did exist, especially in the suburbs among women, and the GOP was morphing into a working-class, increasingly multiracial party. Betting odds swung in Trump’s favor, peaking at around 85 percent.
That’s when things went south for the Trump campaign. In a yet unexplained move, states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin stopped releasing vote counts on election night. Fact-checkers have noted that these states didn’t stop counting—fair enough—but not why they stopped releasing the results of their counting.
Come 4 a.m. the next morning, huge amounts of fresh Biden votes were reported. Trump’s betting odds plummeted, and days later the media declared Biden to be the president-elect.
Except 70 percent of Trump voters, who comprise half the country, are convinced of massive election fraud. Yet corporate media has no intention of investigating claims of fraud. Instead, it has pivoted from saying there is “no evidence” of fraud, to saying that not enough evidence exists to overturn the results.
Contrary to the hope of Trump supporters, the courts will probably be powerless to sort these issues out. This is an incredibly dangerous moment for the country and may be a pivotal point in the future of America’s democratic republic. Did we just cross the Rubicon?
The Morning After
Before all else, we must go to the source of distrust over this election. Whereas Florida finished counting votes on election night, and has a system that knows roughly how many votes are outstanding and will be counted before election night is over, in key states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin an unknown number of ballots could come in at the last second. And they did.
For that, thank Democrat lawsuits to overturn state voting laws at the last second, using COVID as a pretext. For those who doubt that the suits were nakedly political, note that they looked like a wish list based on a bill Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi authored in 2019 to accomplish nationwide mail-in voting.
Many of the suits were quarterbacked by former Hillary Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias, who was involved in manufacturing Russiagate’s Christopher Steele “dossier.” Like most things rotten in this country, particular blame should be placed on the courts that decided bureaucrats could unilaterally rewrite state laws to turn absentee voting into mail-in voting.
There was no good reason to remove requirements that absentee ballots arrive before the end of Election Day, nor to allow the fraud-welcoming practice of “ballot-harvesting.” The John Roberts Supreme Court stood idly by and let lower courts rip up longstanding state election law. Democrats and the media complain that the legislatures should have acquiesced and affirmed this judicial tyranny by changing the law to allow ballots to be counted before Election Day. That would have only put the legislature’s seal of approval on a mess that the courts stupidly created.
Mail-In Balloting Is an Easier Fraud Mark
Regardless of the existence or level of fraud in the 2020 election, it is a fact that mail-in balloting opens elections to the likelihood of massive fraud and chaos. First, there’s an easy opportunity for cheating, given the unknown number of ballots that can come in. Because ballots can be accepted after election day, an unscrupulous faction that lags in earlier counting can come up with the votes to make the difference.
Second, there’s less accountability for election officials. In a normal election, it is possible to immediately tell how many votes are cast and from where—once the votes are cast, all that’s left is to count the votes, because officials know by ward and precinct how many votes are in and what type have been cast (are the votes early in-person, absentee, or election day in-person?). Not so for mail-in voting.One can have a recount, but that will only recount the same bad ballots.
Then, once the counting starts, mail-in voting brings problems of a haphazard chain of custody and reduced controls over voter-eligibility verification. All this is why one can have a recount, but that will only recount the same bad ballots.
The obvious problems with mail-in voting are not a rightwing conspiracy. France banned mail-in voting in the 1970s for these very reasons. In a recent New Jersey mail-in election, about 20 percent of the ballots cast were found to be fraudulent. A local New York election this year saw huge delays in processing ballots. A 2012 article in the New York Times warns that regular old absentee voting could screw up the electoral process, let alone allowing ballots to come in after election day.
Independent left-leaning journalist Glenn Greenwald writes Georgia had an 80 percent chance to go for Trump on election night, ostensibly because of a good Republican turnout. But so many ballots came in for Biden the next morning that the state ostensibly swung to Biden’s favor, due to major Democratic turnout in the Democratic stronghold of Fulton County.
This doesn’t prove fraud, but Greenwald calls this seesaw process in which many areas are counting votes nearly a week after the election a “disgrace.” “Distrust in U.S. outcomes [under such a system] is dangerous but rational,” writes Greenwald.
‘No Evidence’ of Any Fraud?
The media, Democrats, and many establishment Republicans have reflexively repeated that “no evidence” of fraud existed. Yet evidence does exist. The stories coming out of major vote-counting centers are shocking, and only add to the distrust. Dozens upon dozens of witnesses have signed affidavits attesting wrongdoing or highly inappropriate behavior from officials who are supposed to be impartial.
Detroit poll challengers have signed affidavits, under penalty of perjury, that they saw election workers counting ballots for non-eligible voters, and the double counting of voters. These persons say they were harassed constantly, and that election workers and Democratic operatives would get in their faces and start screaming if they raised a concern.Federal agents threatened one of these whistleblowers, in an effort to get him to recant his story.
Some “election workers” appeared to be AFL-CIO activists. If concerns were raised, GOP poll challengers said, they were ushered from the room by the police and the entire room would cheer. They say election workers’ goal was to get as many GOP poll challengers as possible kicked out of that room.
Poll challengers also allege that they were pushed out of the room when the military ballots came in. Workers were sent to lunch; Democrats ate inside the building and the Republicans ate outside the area where votes were being counted, and the doors were locked so Republicans couldn’t get back in.
Irregularities alleged by these challengers aside from counting ineligible voters include ballots being dropped off by random vehicles, including a Mercedes Benz and a Ferrari, or arriving after the cutoff period. A sworn affidavit claims ballots were being “fraudulently and manually entered” when the person had no information and the birthdate was simply put as “1/1/1900.” Another Detroit GOP poll challenger says she witnessed names on ballots not coming up in the system but being counted nonetheless. When she raised concerns, she says she was kicked out.
Sworn affidavits by several U.S. Postal Service employees, in at least Pennsylvania and Michigan, along with a city employee from Detroit, alleged they were asked to backdate ballots (make ballots appear as if they were sent on election day) by their superiors. It was later revealed that federal agents threatened one of these whistleblowers, in an effort to get him to recant his story. A Clark County Nevada elections department employee says that his coworkers fabricated proof of residence data to allow ineligible voters.
In Philadelphia, GOP poll challengers had to sue to be allowed to observe what election workers were doing. Democratic state officials counter-sued to stop the access. While GOP poll challengers were moved forward in the room, the vote counters were moved further away, a mockery of state law that allows oversight of this process.
Photos of Philly vote counters show several women wearing Biden masks. A Trump campaign lawsuit has a sworn affidavit from a person who says he or she saw USB drives being delivered to the back of the room where voting machines were housed, and where observers were restricted.In Philadelphia, GOP poll challengers had to sue to be allowed to observe what election workers were doing.
Meanwhile, the Georgia GOP state party chair claims Fulton County election officials told his observers to go home on election night because they were closing up, but then continued to count ballots “in secret.” In Wisconsin, election clerks allegedly altered “thousands” of absentee ballots to make them eligible.
Add to this multiple videos of what appears to be poll workers throwing away Trump ballots, and at least a handful of examples of dead persons voting. A conservative pollster, Richard Baris, claims to have found evidence of 10,000 deceased persons voting in Michigan. Others also claimed to have found thousands of dead voters in that state.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania far exceeded its record for 90-year-olds registering to vote. In Nevada, multiple witnesses signed sworn affidavits that they saw a “Biden-Harris” van filling out loads of ballots.
Yes, Republicans have at least anecdotal evidence of fraud, although in one sense the media is right: these anecdotes are not evidence enough to overturn the election. That’s because there’s no way to quantify any of this evidence into an actual number of bad votes, even assuming all these claims are well-founded.
Then There Are the Statistical Anomalies
There’s more than anecdotal evidence, however. Observers and experts pointed out plenty of statistical anomalies. Some may turn out to be innocuous, or easily explainable. Others have been less well-explained.
First, Republicans took issue with the massive vote dumps for Biden that occurred overnight, in which Biden was getting nearly 100 percent of the vote. One of these was attributed to an extra zero and human error.Michigan added almost 150,000 votes in one instance, all of which were for Biden except for about 6,000.
Silver tweeted that around 27,000 votes out of Philadelphia went “all for Biden.” In the face of obvious wonderment of how Biden could get 100 percent of such a large share of votes, Silver was quick to claim that election officials “unintentionally enter vote updates one candidate at a time, rather than entering all candidates together.” Maybe, but when votes stop getting reported and reporting starts coming in early in the morning with nearly 100 percent of votes coming in for Biden that justifiably raised eyebrows.
On a graph, these vote dumps in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania resulted in Biden quickly jumping above Trump, and the odds of a Trump win plummeting. Michigan added almost 150,000 votes in one instance, all of which were for Biden except for about 6,000.
On election night, Trump led in Pennsylvania by almost 800,000 votes. The next morning, Trump’s lead shrunk to less than 100,000. Later, ballots found, including those apparently lingering with the U.S. Postal Service, supposedly put Biden over the edge.Biden received an unbelievable amount of the mail-in share in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Biden’s advantage in mail-in voting was to be expected, but the magnitude of the spikes for Biden in these select states is worth scrutiny. According to ballot requests across the country, GOP voters voted by mail too, just not with the same intensity as Democratic voters.
But while Trump received a reasonable share of the mail-in or absentee votes in places like Ohio, Biden received an unbelievable amount of the mail-in share in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Biden’s Pennsylvania mail-in total, excluding about 90,000 mail-in votes from libertarians and those with no party affiliation, equates to winning all the Democratic and Independent mail-in votes, and 9 percent of the GOP mail-in votes.
Said differently, Biden is up 60 points in absentee or mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, and up by almost 40 points in Michigan. That’s not Biden receiving 60 percent of mail-in votes in Pennsylvania. That’s Biden receiving 80 percent of the mail-in vote. Comparably, Biden was only up single digits in absentee voting in most other battleground states. Biden’s mail-in advantage was 15 points in Ohio and 5 points in Minnesota.
There’s no reason to think Pennsylvania and Michigan should be outliers to national mail-in voting trends. Despite several comments by the president, the Trump campaign ground game in these states encouraged mail-in voting. In Michigan and Wisconsin, according to NBC News, Republicans actually led Democrats in mail-in ballots requested and returned. Yet the vast majority of the ballots that were counted after election day in these states were for Biden.
A Weird, Asymmetric Surge in Only Some Cities
No, this Biden surge in cities wasn’t driven by the suburbs abandoning Trump—Trump didn’t lose the suburbs any more than he lost them in 2016, and losses there were more than replaced by gains in working-class areas. These Biden votes were entirely driven by massive turnout in select Democratic strongholds in swing states. As mentioned before, this turnout was not consistent across the country. In parts of these cities, there was more turnout than registered voters.
Biden only had a net gain of 4,000 votes compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016 in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio. Yet Biden had a net gain of almost 70,000 in Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan. In Minneapolis, Democrats bragged of 88 percent turnout—extremely high relative to the rest of the country and the state…(continues)