Aside from Libertarian stalwarts like Ron Paul, and commentary from the likes of Michael Krieger and Zero Hedge, all of whom continue to ring alarm bells, civil libertarians and conservatives seem to have become much quieter under the Trump administration. I suspect a couple of major reasons for this: for one, complacency in their perception of Trump as an “outsider” has led some voices to believe that, in any way at all, the creeping police state has been slowed down.
The other major reason is the breakneck pace at which wild and sensational news continues to emerge regarding Trump’s administration. Whether it’s an imminent neo-nazi genocide, a presidency managed from afar by puppeteers in the Kremlin, or a race war against the NFL, even the most ardent news junkies are liable to become exhausted following all the latest contrived drama.
The mostly fawning endorsements of Donald Trump and his administration by outlets like Infowars and Breitbart (though less so with the return of Steve Bannon) have made the issue worse. With their enormous audiences, once-deafening voices on these issues have quieted — voices that, under the Obama, Bush, and previous administrations, screamed almost constant warnings about the creeping surveillance state, militarization of police, and related issues.
It’s worth mentioning that Trump never campaigned as a liberty candidate. That ship sailed–or shall I say retired, as I think Ron Paul was our last chance in a very long time for a true liberty politican to gun for the White House. After all, despite praising WikiLeaks for their releases on the DNC and Clintons, Trump is a guy who declared Snowden a traitor who should be hanged. His NSA and CIA are, in pretty much every way, the same NSA and CIA they’ve always been. Which leads us to our next point.
The War on WikiLeaks
For whatever praise Trump has lavished on WikiLeaks for the dirt they’ve gotten on Democrats, his CIA director Mike Pompeo declared them a hostile intelligence service. And now, a new bill under consideration by lawmakers has tucked a provision at the very end that echoes this language. It officially declares WikiLeaks an enemy of America.
I have to think of the time Hillary Clinton “joked” about drone-bombing Julian Assange. Under murky post-9/11 legal definitions, perhaps labeling WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service” would actually open up that option for Pompeo. I’m only half-joking here.
The Biometric Future is Now
Some airlines have begun quietly rolling out biometric boarding pass systems that, if customers enjoy them and they’re cost-effective, could one day eventually be required for all passengers. Delta is allowing their SkyMiles program to use their fingerprints as boarding passes, and JetBlue is trying out a facial recognition system.
If airlines one day cease giving you the option to use a traditional boarding pass, you’ll either have to opt into the biometric system, or opt out of flying entirely. And with companies like Equifax acting in total conscious disregard for the safety of the data they are (stupidly) entrusted with, what happens when hackers get half of America’s financial data and their fingerprints, and their faces? Why, in the context of something like the Equifax leak, should we trust any company with our data at all?
The answer is, we shouldn’t. But if the choice becomes “Give Delta your fingerprints or you can’t fly to visit your mother on her death bed,” sidestepping the data-gobbling biometric hell will be easier said than done.
New President, Same Old Police State
Now that we’re all thoroughly desensitized to being groped at the airport, TSA pat downs have been “enhanced” under the Trump administration to scrutinize (read: grope) air passengers more thoroughly. Meanwhile, Trump lifted the ban imposed by the Obama administration on giving
military gear to local police. In my view, this lifts one of the few measures Obama took that didn’t expand the hardcore militarization of domestic police.
To Infowars’ credit, as an openly pro-Trump publication, they did run a story regarding Sen. Rand Paul’s opposition to the lifting of the ban. Despite endorsing Mitt Romney after his own failed presidential bid in 2012 to the dismay of many, Paul has proven to be one of the few major pro-liberty forces in the US Senate.
War on Cash = War on Freedom
The war on cash by politicians and bankers continues full speed ahead. Not only does Goldman Sachs continue their reign at the US Treasury and the Fed, but continued demonizaton of cash as a tool for terrorists and money launderers is leading slowly to the phase-out of cash and transition to a new digital currency. Of course, with the US Dollar and institutions like HSBC doing more money laundering than anyone in the world, this “War on Cash” is more an exercise in absurdist bureaucratic irony than an actual war.
Of course, Bitcoin sort of anticipated the cashless society, and beat governments to the punch. Unless Satoshi Nakamoto is CIA (could be, for all we know), it will be interesting to see how governments handle this relatively new development in their plan for a cashless society. Have cryptos beaten banksters to the punch, or have cryptocurrencies merely made them better at their own game?
One has to wonder if JP Morgan-Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is bashing Bitcoin because he fears it as competition, or because he wants to crash the price to buy more for himself. For his part, he may be right that it’s only a matter between governments ban cryptocurrencies. The question is, can banning them destroy them — or their value? Prohibition doesn’t work with drugs, so the real question is whether or not cryptos can be anonymous enough to continue thriving as a black market.
Either way, the war on cash will continue. And it’s really just one front in a war on freedom that continues under the Trump administration, drowned out by stupid controversies and faux-scandals that keep both sides screeching while the same old ugly authoritarianism marches onward.