Signs and Portents

“It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: ‘Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?’ ” the attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., wrote to Mr. Paul. “The answer to that question is no.”

Car­ney added that, “if the United States were under attack, there were an immi­nent threat,” the pres­i­dent has the author­ity to pro­tect the coun­try from that assault.

So to avoid being killed out of the blue by the government, just don’t engage in combat, right?

Wrong: in a world where “imminent” includes “not imminent,” who knows what “engaged in combat” means?

Well, they’ll at least tell us what groups the government says are engaged in combat with the U.S. so that we can avoid associating with those groups, right?

Well, no. The list of groups with which we are at war1 is now classified. Because having the U.S. declare war you confers street cred and is a nifty recruiting tool.

But I don’t have to worry about all of that, because I have a right to disagree with the government, right? I’m not going to get singled out as long as I’m not plotting to hurt people?

Wrong again. The Southern Poverty Law Center carries the government’s water, tracking “anti-government ‘Patriot’ groups.” Because anti-government now equals “extremist.”

C’mon, Mark. SPLC isn’t a government agency. And the government would never categorize nonviolent dissent as terrorism.

Don’t count on it. The Concord, New Hampshire Police Department, in a grant application to the Department of Homeland Security to buy a tank,2 wrote:

The State of New Hampshire’s experience with terrorism slants primarily towards the domestic type. We are fortunate that our State has not been victimized from a mass casualty event from an international terrorism strike however on the domestic front, the threat is real and here. Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges. Outside of officially organized groups, several homegrown clusters that are anti-government and pose problems for law enforcement agencies.

Free Staters want to nonviolently build a better, more libertarian society. They plan to do this peacefully by moving 20,000 likeminded people to New Hampshire. They’re domestic terrorists in the way Henry David Thoreau was.

Nothing the government has said should give you any confidence that we are not bound for the crushing of all dissent. In a nation in which the President claims the power to decide, without public scrutiny, who we are at war with, and then to execute those people with no judicial review, dissidence is fraught. The only safe course is to agree.


  1. Other than EurEastasia? 

  2. Because, really, if any town needs a tank it’s Concord. 

About Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett got his letter of marque from the Supreme Court of Texas in May 1995. He is famous for having no sense of humor when it comes to totalitarianism.
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10 Responses to Signs and Portents

  1. Ric Moore says:

    I would like to make an intelligent pithy comment, but my jaw is still on the ground after reading this. We can hand out free tanks but not healthcare. Go figure. Ric

  2. Mike Trent says:

    You’ve touched on the large overlap that authoritarianism has even in ideologically different camps, e.g. conservatives that want to police private morals, liberals who believe in an intrusive “nanny state.” Are there any true libertarians left? President Obama inherited a set of executive powers that his Republican predecessor had vastly expanded…only to expand them even more himself, and the only protests on the left were quickly marginalized and belittled as a “fringe” by the Democratic Party. (Although these voices have not gone away, and, if anything, have grown more insistent as Obama continues to disappoint his ultra-left-wing base.) The same is true in the Republican Party. Rand Paul and the few who raise their voices in protest are privately derided and dismissed as wackos, while the rest of the party only protests Obama’s use of executive power as a matter of political convenience — they would complain no matter what he does. (How do you turn a Republican hawk into a dove? –Have Obama propose a miltary solution.) If the Republicans ever do regain the White House, don’t expect them to give any of these newly acquired powers BACK. Where do you see it going? Are the mainstreams of both parties (and the American public as a whole) truly this accepting of authority? Or at some point will the remaining libertarians from both wings unite?

    • Michael Stuart says:

      They’re uniting already, Mike. Remember Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich partnering on several fronts? There are some genuine liberals left; liberals in the older sense of pro-civil-rights liberals. But our salvation won’t come from Washington; rather we should applaud each stumble and fumble from the dying dinosaur as it thrashes out its last. Our efforts should be in setting the State against itself. Get the individual States fighting Mordor-on-the-Potomac, while we take back local city and county governments. THOSE bureaucrats are still frightened of you…you’re more likely to know where they live.

      • Tanner Andrews says:

        THOSE bureaucrats are still frightened of you…you’re move likely to know where they live.

        We are working to fix that here in Florida. We have exempted from the public records laws the home addresses of the high-ranking bureaucrats, along with several other classes of officials including elected judges. So, here in the City, we’re no longer allowed to know that the person in charge of deciding what color you can paint your building does not live in the jurisdiction she regulates.

  3. Michael Simpson says:

    Are you arguing that the federal government may consider non-violent dissent as terrorism because some cowboys in New Hampshire applied for a DHS grant to buy a tank? The grant application speaks volumes about New Hampshire; nothing about the feds.

    • Mark Bennett says:

      I am arguing that the federal government may consider non-violent dissent as terrorism because there is no longer anything to stop it from doing so.

      That the Concord PD is trying to get the government to buy it a tank based on nonviolent dissenters being domestic terrorists is just a symptom.

  4. Pingback: RNS Quote of the Day, Signs and Portents Edition | Random Nuclear Strikes

  5. Alex Bunin says:

    Concord may not need need a tank, but Portsmouth does. Something has to stop all those Bostonians from clogging up I-95 on their way to their weekend homes in Maine.

  6. Jim Diamond says:

    What in the world does New Hampshire need a tank for?

  7. Michael Stuart says:

    Mark, you’re beginning to sound like an InfoWars.com reader. I thought that was a conspiracy site? Now you’ll have to disabuse your son of that little slander :)

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