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What I Don’t Like About Life in America PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 10:06

There’s a lot to love about America and its people: their pioneering spirit, their entrepreneurship, their ability to think outside the box, their passion for the arts, etc. Increasingly, however, I find things I don’t like about living in a nation that has ceased to be a sanctuary for freedom.

Here’s what I don’t like about living in America.

I don’t like being treated as if my only value to the government is as a source of labor and funds. I don’t like being viewed as a consumer and bits of data. I don’t like being spied on and treated as if I have no right to privacy, especially in my own home.

I don’t like government officials who lobby for my vote only to ignore me once elected. I don’t like having representatives unable and unwilling to represent me. I don’t like taxation without representation.

 
The Libertarian and Catholic Social Teachings PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by David S. D’Amato   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 13:13

Roman Catholic leaders from Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga to Pope Francis himself have made news this year in their criticisms of supposed free-market economies, likening them to a form of idolatry that exploits and denies access to the poor. Because Catholic social teachings emphasize stewardship and aid to the less fortunate, clergymen such as Maradiaga have taken aim at perceived “structural causes for poverty.”

It is in identifying these causes that the cardinal’s fulminations against free markets become problematic. While he can hardly be blamed for supposing that something in relations between rich and poor is amiss, it is his faith in the positive interventions of the state that is the “deception.” Ironically, the “free market” that Maradiaga so sincerely denounces is itself a product of deep and sustained state coercion on a scale not often recognized for what it is. We must therefore distinguish between two ways of employing the phrase “free market,” lest we fall into the trap that caught Maradiaga – the trap of opposing libertarianism in principle without actually understanding the economic system it prescribes.

 
Has the Department of Homeland Security Become America’s Standing Army? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 13:32

“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty.” – James Madison

“Here [in New Mexico], we are moving more toward a national police force. Homeland Security is involved with a lot of little things around town. Somebody in Washington needs to call a timeout.” – Dan Klein, retired Albuquerque Police Department sergeant

If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude, and corruption such a role implies. In fact, although the DHS’s governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most – a standing army on American soil.

The third largest federal agency behind the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, the DHS – with its 240,000 full-time workers, $61-billion budget, and sub-agencies that include the Coast Guard, Customs & Border Protection, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency – has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”

 
Just Shoot: Turning Search Warrants into Death Warrants and SWAT Teams into Death Squads PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Monday, 09 June 2014 05:59

“A government which will turn its tanks upon its people, for any reason, is a government with a taste of blood and a thirst for power and must either be smartly rebuked, or blindly obeyed in deadly fear.” – John Salter

How many children, old people, and law-abiding citizens have to be injured, terrorized, or killed before we call a halt to the growing rash of police violence that is wracking the country? How many family pets have to be gunned down in cold blood by marauding SWAT teams before we declare such tactics off-limits? And how many communities have to be transformed into military outposts – complete with heavily armed police, military tanks, and “safety” checkpoints – before we draw that line in the sand that says “not in our town”?

The latest incident happened last month in Atlanta, where a SWAT team attempting to execute a no-knock drug warrant in the middle of the night launched a flash-bang grenade into the targeted home, only to have it land in a crib where a 19-month-old baby lay sleeping. The grenade exploded, burning his face, lacerating his chest, and leaving him paralyzed. At the hospital, he was put in a medically induced coma.

If this were the first instance of police overkill – if it were even the fifth – there might be hope of reforming our system of law enforcement. But what happened to this baby, whose life will never be the same, has become par for the course in a society that glorifies violence, turns a blind eye to government wrongdoing, and sanctions any act by law enforcement – no matter how misguided or wrong. As I detail in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this state-sponsored violence is a necessary ingredient in any totalitarian regime to ensure a compliant, cowed, and fearful populace.

 
Lights, Camera, Arrested: Americans Thrown in Jail for Filming Police PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 05:53
Once again, the U.S. government is attempting to police the world when it should be policing its own law-enforcement agencies. We’ve got a warship cruising the Black Sea, fighter jets patrolling the Baltic skies, and a guided-missile destroyer searching the South China Sea for the downed Malaysia Airlines flight. All the while, back home in the U.S., our constitutional rights are going to hell in a handbasket, with homeowners being threatened with eviction for attempting to live off the grid, old women jailed for feeding crows, and citizens armed with little more than a cell phone arrested for daring to record police activities.

Robin Speronis now finds herself threatened with eviction from her own Florida home for daring to live off the grid, independent of city utilities such as water and electricity. City officials insist the Cape Coral resident’s chosen way of life violates the international property-maintenance code and city ordinances. Mary Musselman, also a Florida resident, is being held in jail without bond for “feeding wild animals.” The 81-year-old Musselman, on probation after being charged with feeding bears near her home, was arrested after officers discovered her leaving bread out for crows. Meanwhile, Brandy Berning of Florida was forced to spend a night in jail after recording her conversation with an officer who pulled her over for a routine traffic stop.

Welcome to the farce that passes for law and order in America today, where crime is low, militarized police activity is on the rise, and Americans are being penalized for living off the grid, feeding wild animals, holding Bible studies in their backyard, growing vegetables in their front yard, collecting rainwater, and filming the police.

 
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