The past month’s news about our national government’s acceleration towards tyranny (“arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority”) made me recall the most memorable lines in “Like a Rolling Stone,” arguably Bob Dylan’s best work, and according to Rolling Stone magazine the best rock and roll song ever.
Dylan’s masterpiece is a sarcastic six-minute “See, I told you so” directed at a condescending high-society princess. She thought she had it all, only to see it disappear at the hands of a betraying, conniving beau. As a result, she is forced to fight for her everyday survival like most of the rest of us.
In his final verse, Dylan tells her:
When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.
I would like to be wrong, but I fear that more people than ever who could help put a stop to this nation’s government-sponsored madness have reached a dangerous conclusion, namely that they have plenty to lose, and that they’re better off staying invisible.
Recent news about activities during the past several years of President Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service, misnamed Department of Justice, and National Security Agency has probably convinced many people who might otherwise make a difference that getting involved is simply not worth the risk to their reputations, their families, their friendships, or their careers. To some, it must appear that choosing political apathy, while limiting one’s “news” exposure to things like Kim Kardashian’s weight, Kanye West’s oversized ego, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s engagement, or whatever other trivial obsessions I might have missed has never looked more attractive.
Those considering activism now know that supporting disfavored causes ends invisibility. Anyone organizing or even participating in an effort to do something about government waste, fraud, and abuse, or working to elect people who might stop the the Obama administration’s Federal Reserve-assisted debt and spending death spiral now recognizes that they potentially have plenty to lose. The IRS, based on its track record of the past three years, won’t hesitate to ask them and their associates about their political beliefs, who’s giving them money, what books they’ve read, and their ambitions for political office. Those who really start to become pains in the rear end, or those who merely write checks in support of opposition causes, face the prospect of having the IRS target their individual and business tax returns, while other federal and state regulatory thugs perform anal exams on other aspects of their lives.
Anyone mounting an effort to stop the slaughter of over one million innocent pre-born babies each year while asserting the scientific fact that life begins at conception and that it deserves the God-given protection identified as humans’ primary inalienable right in our Declaration of Independence from that point on should be prepared to have the IRS ask them about their prayers, their street demonstrations and counseling, and whether they give equal time to those who believe that it’s okay for a mother to abort her unborn child because it’s inconvenient.
Anyone with something in their past which they would rather others not know must confront the likelihood that it will become known. The suspicion here is that a few phone calls or emails from “concerned citizens” or a bit of online key-word trickery can trigger the NSA to profile anyone.
We now know that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper by his own smarmy admission lied through his teeth several months ago when he gave a “No” answer to the following question: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
The reality is that the NSA has only during the past few years begun to accumulate an indiscriminate and vast collection of phone, online, and purchase data. Thanks to recent technological advances, sifting through the data has become relatively easy. A president and attorney general who have fits when police legitimately stop and question any non-white person exhibiting suspicious behavior possibly betraying criminal intent have no apparent problem with NSA snoops’ ability to get full profiles of anyone at the touch of a button — and just wait until they add the 400 data points in the Common Core K-12 education regime and ObamaCare’s government-controlled medical records to their collection. We will indeed have no secrets, or private lives.
Anyone pursuing effective dissent can be made to look bad even if they have lived noble or saintly lives. In fact, military veterans and devout Christians are already heading to the top of the charts in Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s hit parade (I can see it now: “People who make a habit of going to church at least once a week must be dangerously obsessive-compulsive”).
The day is not far off when attempting to protect one’s privacy by paying cash, avoiding the banking system, using PO boxes, and masking one’s online presence will themselves be seen as reasons for presumptive suspicion.
The existence of the NSA’s high-tech data trove may also partially explain why certain center-right politicians and judges have so quickly, thoroughly, and otherwise inexplicably betrayed their erstwhile supporters.
Unlike the pre-planned acknowledgment of the IRS’s harassment of Tea Party and conservative groups and Eric Holder’s nearly simultaneous missive to the Associated Press revealing that his department had obtained personal and business phone records involving over 100 AP reporters and editors, the exposure of the NSA’s PRISM program by Edward Snowden appears not to have been an orchestrated administration stunt. Nonetheless, it quite conveniently furthers our Punk President’s agenda of harassment and intimidation, not only of his opponents, but of those within his ranks who might otherwise be tempted to stray from the party line.
The question with which Dylan taunted his subject in “Like a Rolling Stone” applies to America today — “How does it feel?”
And what are we going to do about it?
There’s no perfect answer, but Ohio Tea Party activist Tom Zawistowski recently gave Fox’s Neil Cavuto a pretty good one: “We fix it by Americans individually having the courage of their convictions and standing up and pointing out things that are wrong and demanding that people fix them.” He could have added: “Because what we all stand to lose if we fail is far more precious than anything we think we have to lose as individuals.”