I’m not really paranoid. Just concerned.
We have discovered during the recent urban protests and violence that President Trump has a personal police force with 60,000 agents. Congress created the Department of Homeland Security which has grown to include 240,000 employees and become the third largest department of the federal government.
Some 60,000 of those employees are federal agents who answer to the director of Homeland Security who answers to the president. Trump has threatened to send all 60,000 of them into our cities to restore order.
Second Amendment activists have a “bullet point” that an armed populace is necessary to prevent the potential of an overweening federal government. Well, it’s here boys. While we were distracted by Trump’s wall, the number of federal agents has multiplied. The troops Trump sent to Portland are supposed to be protecting the Mexican border.
I’m not suggesting that Trump is planning a takeover, just that he has demonstrated how to do it.
It has been little discussed or noticed until federal troops started shoving people into unmarked vans in Portland. It is an object lesson on what military power the president can now wield on our streets. This isn’t about Trump, it’s about Congress’s usual knee-jerk reaction to an emergency. In this case after the 9/11 terrorist attack they created an agency without considering the consequences or the possibility of abuse.
Tyranny doesn’t arrive with a conventional politician or an authoritarian militarist. It comes from a charismatic leader that shifts your love of the constitution to your adoration of his ideas.
I know I sound paranoid. I just happen to think that it is up to the police and a state governor’s National Guard to keep the peace. The governor is elected by the people. The police chief answers to the mayor. If the mayor of Portland or Chicago can’t provide safe streets perhaps the city residents will elect a mayor who will. If they decide not to do that, then to hell with them.
But we don’t need for the president of the United States to have the unchecked power to command 60,000 troops whether it’s Trump, Obama or Biden or some future demagogue who can whip up enough passion to overlook the constitution. I think the Tenth Amendment is as important as the First or Second Amendment.
The powers not delegated to the United States … are reserved to the states and the people. Policing city streets is nowhere delegated to the federal government.
The last major operation of the Department of Homeland Security was separating kids from their parents and then losing the kids.
The agency needs to be restructured and brought under control. And drastically reduced in size.
Hard to watch: Does it disturb you, watching political ads, to see what primary candidate consultants really think about the voters? From listening and watching one would assume they think the average Tennessean is sitting in a church pew, wrapped in an American flag, cradling an AR-15 rifle and worshiping at the altar of Donald Trump. And evidently drooling and too stupid to see that the ads are boilerplate talking points spiced with lies and distortions.
Call it what it is: There has been some talk about cutting the “payroll tax” as part of a stimulus package. They are talking about Social Security and Medicare taxes for the Social Security Trust Fund. The fund they predict will run out of money within the next 10 years. Here’s the deal. They don’t want to say they are cutting Social Security. And they want it, instead of another round of stimulus checks, because employers have to match the amount of money withheld from employees. So, it’s a tax cut for business at the expense of the trust fund. Imagine how much a golf club resort or hotel could save if they cut back on Social Security withholding for every employee.
Gun endorsement: An ad accuses Senate candidate Dr. Manny Sethi of being for gun control. Last week Sethi was endorsed by Gun Owners of America. You may not be familiar with the organization. It’s further to the right than the National Rifle Association. The NRA is wracked by internal divisions and it cuts deals to retain power. The other group is for true believers.
Frank Cagle is a veteran newspaper editor and columnist.