When the unthinkable becomes a certainty, the inconceivable becomes a possibility

In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker’s administration joined with the conservative media to insure that the 900,000 people who signed petitions for his recall were blacklisted from government appointments and candidacies, and that those already in office were targeted with character assassination. In order to make it easier for right-wing zealots to harass petition signers in their homes and workplaces, the names and contact information for those 900,000 people were posted online. The fact that we can’t stop the fascists in Wisconsin makes it a bit harder to think that we can stand against the far more powerful fascists in D.C.

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…
The right of the people to be secure…against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial…
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or other infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury…

Could any words be more comforting, yet who can you look at U.S. policy since 9/11 and think that America still believes them? Do you ever wonder what the government would do if you pissed it off, for example if you exercised your First Amendment rights by putting a list of inflammatory words and phrases on your blog?...

Ammonium Nitrate. Mail ricin. Aryan Nation. Assassinate Boehner. Jihad. Hate America. Terrorist. Bomb the capital. I’ll show them. Kill Alexander. Mail anthrax. C-4. Suitcase bomb. Christian Identity Movement. Target government agents. How to make firebombs. Death to America. Revenge bin Laden. Assassinate the president. No one will ever know. Death to abortionists. Bomb the Golden Gate. Urea nitrate. Al-Nusra. Death to the infidels. White supremacy. Timothy McVeigh. They’re watching us. We’ll show them. Al Qaeda. Shoot the survivors. Bomb abortion clinics. Strike during the World Series. We’re going to get even. Kill niggers. Jewish conspiracy. Dirty bomb. TNT. Gray area. Hold for ransom. Cover-up. Don’t volunteer information. Allahu Akbar! Bigger than 9/11. Off-the-books. Hidden assets. This means war. Target Americans. Racial superiority.. Refuse to answer questions. The Great Satan. Al-Zawahiri. Germ warfare. Mujahedeen. They’re asking for it. Go after liberals. Detonator. Kill Moslems. Taliban. Sharia. Spread infection. Plant a bug. They owe it to us. New Crusades. Martyr for Allah. Burn the Koran. Born to kill. Cyanide. Carbon monoxide. Bomb the Brooklyn Bridge. Target Christians. Sniffer. Hail, Hitler. Kill school children. Secret search. Photograph target. You can buy it all at Radio Shack. Bomb the Pentagon. They’re going to be sorry. Don’t tell anyone. Make them suffer. Contact me through the usual means. Frame him. Sneak-and-peek. Print counterfeit money. I’ll die before I talk. Bomb the embassy. Conspiracy. Secret society. Poison the water supply. Attack the subway. Bring down the Sears Tower. Dynamite. Nitro. Kill infiltrators. Nerve gas. Secret weapons’ cache. They deserve to die. Death to Israel. Secret code. Cayman Islands. Bomb churches.

...Would it tap your phone, hack your computer, knock on your door, audit your taxes, delete your blog, destroy your credit, question your neighbors, deny you a passport, empty your bank account, plant kiddie-porn on your hard drive, attach a GPS transmitter to your car, conduct a “sneak-and-peek,” put your name on a No-Fly List, lock you up for years without a hearing…? When the government operates in ever greater secrecy, unapologetically violates its own laws, and does its best to destroy the lives of those who call attention to its wrongdoing, all of the above are conceivable, so the remaining question is whom do they consider important enough to turn their wrath upon. Surely not me, but how can I be sure? If you were to put a long list of provocative words on your blog, would you be sure?

“Paranoia strikes deep
. Into your life it will creep
. It starts when you’re always afraid
. Step out of line, the man will come and take you away.” –Buffalo Springfield

We send our young people to die in foreign lands, not in defense of freedom at home—we’re destroying that ourselves—but in the hope that them being killed over there will somehow keep us from being killed over here, yet every time we violate another nation’s sovereignty by murdering its own people on their own soil, that nation’s hatred of us increases. How many hundreds of thousands of lives lost to “collateral damage” over how many decades is too much? How much spying on ourselves and our friends is too much? How much ignoring the sovereignty of other nations and treating them as our vassals is too much? Amnesty International says we’ve already passed the limit. What took them so long?

Our founders’ concept of America was about more than preserving lives and infrastructure; it was about upholding rights and liberties. I had known since the 1960s that my government spied on some of its citizens without just cause, but it was only with the passage of the ironically named “Patriot Act” that it occurred to me that my own name might appear on a government watch list if I Googled one too many of the wrong words; or wrote a blogpost that some analyst didn’t like; or sent money to PETA, Earth First!, or the Julian Assange Defense Fund.

I told myself that I was surely being paranoid, if only because it was laughable to think that even the most misguided analyst would consider me worthy of government scrutiny. Then came Edward Snowden, and I learned that WE’RE ALL under government scrutiny, if only to the extent that it stores personal information about us for the day on which it decides to take a closer look at any one of us, and who knows when or why that day might come? Now, I’ve learned that my government not only collects data on all of its own citizens, it collects data on millions upon millions of people in France, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, and maybe other places that the Snowden documents will soon reveal.

I put a list of inflammatory words on my blog because I want my government to look at me when I say: Terrorists aren’t our gravest threat, you are, because only you can betray the promises made to us by the Founding Fathers. By declaring a state of everlasting war during which you set yourself above the Constitution and treat us all as potential enemies, you erect a wall between you and us so that it is no longer “We the people…” but you the powerful and we who cower at your feet in the hope that you won’t someday turn your jaundiced eye upon us. No matter how physically safe you make us, if you throw our founders' ideals in the garbage, where is the nobility that justifies our existence? Have you forgotten the words you put into your so-called Patriot Act...

“We must seek the guilty and not strike out against the innocent or we become like them who are without moral guidance or proper direction.”

...or were they just put there to placate the masses with false assurances?

My question to myself is whether I would do as Snowden did. The whole rest of his still young life is looking none too good, yet when he dies, he can die knowing that, with one idealistic act, he made his entire existence meaningful. Just as Johann Pachelbel justified his life with a four-minute piece of music, Snowden justified his by standing alone against the unholy strength and resolve of The Government of the United States of America, and I envy him that. I bear life better when I focus upon what one person can accomplish for good, yet I am daily discouraged to find that far more people labor in the cause of evil. What then is left for any person of nobility but to conclude that, if one must choose, it is better to lose by doing good than to win by doing evil? Better to be an Edward Snowden in the Moscow airport than a Barack Obama in the White House or a Scott Walker in the governor’s mansion.

I chose the above version of Pachebel’s Canon in D because it was performed by one person, a plain and simple man who appears unused to the limelight and uncomfortable in it, yet a man capable of such beauty that he gives me the courage to be alive, as did the writer of the Canon... as did the bravery of Edward Snowden.


rhymeswithplague said...

So you're a liberal then.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Provocative as always Snow.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you. The ironies encapsulated in this post would be funny, if they weren't a tragedy. One that is being enacted to a greater or lesser extent in far too many countries (including mine).

All Consuming said...

"WE’RE ALL under government scrutiny" - yes we are, and they use our fear against us, and it's only getting worse all the time I'm sorry to say. This is another superb post, I have a tendency to say that, and although I don't wish to become tedious, I shall continue to because you write pretty much the best posts I've ever read on any blog. Thank you for being so very amazing and having the balls to write that list out of inflammatory words and phrases. The music is beautiful, and perfectly chosen. x

kj said...

On obama's watch: wtf?

This is a thoroughly depressing demoralizing post, me. Snowbrush. You have no right to speak honestly


Snowbrush said...

"So you're a liberal then."

I would be scarcely less embarrassed to be identified as a Democrat than I would to be identified as a Republican. I think that, in nearly all cases, a person who identifies in every respect with the platform of any political party is a person who feels a need for someone else to tell him or her what to think. You might want to read what one of your fellow Georgians had to say about Snowden: http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/16043-jimmy-carter-defends-snowden-says-u-s-has-no-functioning-democracy

"Provocative as always Snow."

Thank you. Part of what strikes me as saddest about Snowden is that a man who was willing to go to the wall for freedom should end up in a country that is far more antithetical to freedom than the one he fled. The best light I can put upon this is that it's better he have limited freedom in Russia than no freedom in an American prison.

"One that is being enacted to a greater or lesser extent in far too many countries (including mine)."

I'm so sorry to hear this. I had thought that things would be better under Julia Gillard.

"you write pretty much the best posts I've ever read on any blog."

Thank you, my longtime friend and reader. This was the hardest thing I've EVER written. Mostly, even when I'm writing something negative, I enjoy it, but I only felt sadness, angst, and fear, as I wrote this and struggled over whether to post it. When I finally put it online, I had no idea how anyone would react. Your words mean a lot. Thank you again.

"On obama's watch: wtf?"

Yep, Mr. Nobel Peace Prize has turned out to be worse than Bush in some ways.

Elephant's Child said...

I had hoped that things would be better under Julia Gillard. But she is now two Prime Ministers in the past and our current leader scares and disgusts me.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

An excellent yet thoroughly depressing post in its honesty and wisdom.

Sadly the thought police operate the world over, very much so here in the UK - we are all potential terrorist to those who supposedly serve us.

I am sad for this world. We will eventually destroy ourselves with our paranoia (and greed) - and this done in the name of national security...

Anna :o[

PhilipH said...

All politicians should be thrown out, unless they all choose Janus as their first name.

Not that I'm calling them ALL two-faced; there may be the odd one out.

Charles Gramlich said...

Putting your words where your mouth is! Excellent!

lotta joy said...

Can you imagine our righteous indignation if another military regime were to come HERE and correct our atrocities?

When our country finishes its downhill plunge, we will get foreign assistance, in one form or another.

If there are any freedoms left at that time, will we even notice their loss?

Strayer said...

Depressing. I saw some show about Americans who have been targeted with SWAT style raids after innocent internet searches using the wrong terms. One guy had searched "backpacks" while his wife searched "pressure cookers" or vice versa. Then came the raid, house surrounded and invaded by KGB style agents armed to the teeth. The article said this goes on about 100 times a month or week, can't recall, in America now. I was shocked. Our country? these gestapo raids? Well, I hope they don't raid your house. Video tape it if they do and set it to appropriate music. It will viral. You would disappear. Pretty awful humor, sorry.

I remember Julie from Brownsville once telling me how she was way out in ignoranceville (rural Linn), trapping cats for spay neuter and some guy bursts out of his broken down garbage strewn trailer with a shotgun screaming at her that she was a PETA terrorist and he was going to shoot her. He defined Peta terrorist as anyone who helps animals. Julie didn't even know who PETA was at that time. The fat Dumbass was actually the one who didn't fix his cats and caused all the suffering in the area.

Linda said...

Now, I have read all those inflammatory words, possibly emblazoning them where the govt can read them and harm me. Rats! W must be careful what company we keep.

Great post as usual. I am in love with the mind of Snowbrush!

Myrna R. said...

What I fear is the path our country is taking. Very slippery. Your write is superb. I admire your tenacity and your honesty. Wish more people read you.

Putz said...

honestly ,,, i would say you are lying to me snow<><><>are you sure???.well i read you, yes i do, and you are truely honest, i will give you that<><><>so ifin i read the facts, i would say i personnally will have to ferrit it all out and personally do something about this<><>honestly, what else could i do????????????P>s> will i be in the same boat as you if i get caught reading your stuff??????

Snowbrush said...

"i would say you are lying to me snow<><><>are you sure???"

Google it, Putz. Here's a link to where you can search for those who signed the petition:


And here's a link to a NPR radio show called "This American Life" that did an episode about the recall (that would be Oct 25, of this year):

Snowbrush said...

I know I'm behind on comments, but have been working furiously lately, and won't get caught up today either as I'm about to empty out the room I'm writing from, after which I will repaint and re-floor it.

I wrote to the musician whose work I placed on this post so that he would know about my use of it, and he responded with the following, which I share with his permission:

"I just read your blog and I couldn't agree more with you! A great post! As a
European, I am very concerned right now how N S A and USA is acting all over
the planet. I heard an interview with Lavabit's founder Ladar Levinson. It
was scary! If you find the time you can see it here:


"I have to admire this man! Brave!
Yes, first I couldn't see the connection with my version of Canon in D but
at the end I read your comment and I feel honored and humble by your words.
Thank you!!

"Keep posting like this!

"All the best from Copenhagen, Denmark

"I saw some show about Americans who have been targeted with SWAT style raids after innocent internet searches using the wrong terms."

Which makes it sound as if my fears might not be so paranoid after all. Surely, the government will eventually need to set some guidelines for the NSA. Did you read the link I gave in the comment section in which Jimmy Carter said that America no longer has a working democracy?

Putz, when you implied that I might be lying (my best guess is that you meant that I might be mistaken, although you used the word lying), I assumed you had reference to the situation in Wisconsin, but if you meant something else, let me know, and I will give you a couple of resources for that. As for the Wisconsin petition-signer link, I typed in a common name in the search box, and came up with 10-15 people. Those who put the list online did so from a desire for revenge, and I even found a site on which they're seriously proposing that the signers reimburse the state the cost of the recall election. I can but hope that such conservative viciousness will be rewarded with the election of a liberal governor next go around.

Strayer said...

I can't help but worry. Have they raided your house yet for speaking your mind and putting all those phrases on your blog? If they do and they take you away, will Peggy make a post and let your readers know? What will become of Brewsky if they raid you and take you away?

Snowbrush said...

"Have they raided your house yet for speaking your mind and putting all those phrases on your blog?"

So far, so good. If they raided us now, they would all get sick, so at least we could take comfort in that. We dismantled our office-room on Monday in order to paint and re-floor. Peggy had become sick on Sunday night, but she insisted on going ahead with the project. Yesterday, I became as sick as she is. We're forging ahead, but it's not easy. I didn't know she wanted baseboard, so now I have to go buy that and cut it outdoors in the rain. Wonderful.

"What will become of Brewsky if they raid you and take you away?"

Well, being raided doesn't equate with being locked away for long, but, if it did, I don't know what would become of him. I guess we would ask someone to take care of him in their home.

Strayer said...

Well, ok then. I can't imagine what they would do with you two, if they came for you. I mean, do they water board Americans now, or just make them listen to pop music for days on end, I'm just not up on how our own torture our own. I could be easily tortured by being forced to watch Jersey Shores or other reality shows. I would go nuts and spill everything I know, very quickly I'm afraid. And I don't know much so there you have it.

Snowbrush said...

"Can you imagine our righteous indignation if another military regime were to come HERE and correct our atrocities?"

Yeah, right, I can just see us being okay with Pakistani drone strikes in Wisconsin with "collateral damage" everywhere. Last week, one of our top security guys said that Europe would be okay with us spying on them if they could but realize that it's for their own good in that many terrorist strikes have been prevented that way. Note that no proof is offered, and that no downsides are considered.

"We must be careful what company we keep."

I lost one or two followers within a couple of days after this post went up, and I did wonder if it was because they didn't want the government to see their names here.

"do they water board Americans now, or just make them listen to pop music for days on end"

Did you know that they broadcast Britney Spears to keep Somali pirates away from American ships. (Here in Eugene, they broadcast classical music to keep riff-raff from congregating in front of the library.) Funny about how we redefined torture in order to say that we don't do it. My question is, why don't Americans care if we torture people, and why don't they care that we're being spied upon. How bad would it have to get before they did care: random highway searches; searches outside airports and malls; being called in for yearly security assessments; a tracking unit on every car and in the body of every person. I don't doubt that such measures would save lives if saving lives is all we care about.

Strayer, I was so sick--with a cold--yesterday that I couldn't eat, so I lost 5.2 pounds from not eating and from fighting the germs. I got up just now and went to empty the cat litter, and thought, nope, I will throw up if I do this, and then I wondered you manage with, not just one cat, but with many cats.

possum said...

An amazing post... BRAVO, Snow. I will send you cookies when they come to lock you up - unless I am in another cell block on the other side of wherever they take us. But, they just might sneak in a drone in the middle of the night and tell the reporters your furnace blew up. Oh, well.

My daughter lives in the Middle East, she and her husband are doctors and have been working in refugee camps for years. She is afraid to contact me, afraid of what our government might do keeping an eye on someone with contacts OVER THERE.

Yes, this was probably the saddest blog post I have read from you. Sad because it is so true. Sad because it is even possible, let alone true.

Have you ever read the blog, Running Because I can't Fly? You might want to check it out.

Hang in there, feel better, SOON!

Joe Todd said...

Am almost afraid to comment.. Just spent an hour on YouTube following your last post.. Any thoughts on the “knockout game”: I always liked to use potassium Chlorate and have the scars to prove it...

Snowbrush said...

"Any thoughts on the “knockout game'”

Moi? I never even put a cherry bomb in a toilet. Sounds like you might have, though.