Archive for March, 2014

The One Last Hope? Rand Paul and the Right Side of History

If Rip Van Winkle fell asleep in 1990 and woke-up today, would he recognize the United States as the land of the free?  Initially, he might, until, of course, he picked-up a newspaper (news on the Web did not exist in 1990).  Then, it wouldn’t take Mr. Van Winkle long to realize that the freedoms Americans had formerly recognized were auctioned off by federal, state, and local politicians, to leaders of high-tech companies who made significant campaign contributions.

Like crack addicts, politicians, especially those on the state and federal level, are constantly on the lookout for their next fix.  When the money tree shakes, the politicians scramble to collect the falling dollars.  Only a dolt would believe that this cash is simply handed over to the campaign committees of politicians with no strings attached.  And the news media, which treats politics like a sporting event, is all too willing to play the role of an official score keeper by portraying candidates as viable based on the amount of money stuffed away in their campaign war chests.

After all, it is the desire for campaign cash — that pipeline of revenue skimmed from the goods and services that the public and/or the government over pays for — that underwrites a politician’s lust for power by maintaining or securing committee chairmanships.  Unfortunately, this practice of money-hungry politicians on steroids has transformed America into a nation of ‘freedom on paper only.’  It has also turned our political leaders, such as the President and his director of National Intelligence, into prevaricators.

Only one national political figure, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, has sought to mobilize those of us — the taxpayers — who over pay for the goods and services used to fund these de facto campaign kickbacks. Speaking, at all places, the University of California-Berkeley, Paul drew a standing ovation from a crowd of millenniums as he denounced the American surveillance state.

Sen. Paul is conveying a message eerily reminiscent to that of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill — from the shores of New York City, to the beaches of Waikiki, an electronic iron curtain has descended across the American continent. All of us are being watched, not just by the NSA, the FBI, the intelligence fusion centers operated by state and local police, but also by the U.S. military.

Today, the Washington Examiner reported that the U.S. Navy’s Law Enforcement and Information Exchange (LinX) is keeping tabs on Americans by collecting data compiled from criminal histories, arrest reports, traffic citations, and even field interview cards filled out by cops on the beat.

“More than 1,300 agencies participate, including The FBI and other Department of Justice divisions, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon,” notes the Examiner’s Mark Flatten. “Police departments along both coasts and in Texas, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii are in LinX.”

Herein, lays the problem with the Republican Party, which supposedly is an advocate for limited government.  The neo-conservative wing of the party has yet to see a government surveillance program that it does not like.  When voters, especially young people, hear GOP candidates speaking in glowing terms of limited government, many simply roll their eyes and think, ‘Why do they support a foreign surveillance court that gathers the telephone records of every American? Hum, sounds more like China than America.’

Recently, a student of mine drafted a paper that purported to show how Republican appointees to state and federal courts — most notably the U.S. Supreme Court — have “stripped away” many of the rights citizens maintained just a few decades ago and “turned American into a virtual police state.”  Admittedly, even though I have used many of these judicial changes to my advantage as a detective, I had to concur with his thesis.

Which begs the question: as the wave of totalitarian electronic surveillance presents itself, is it possible that Rand Paul can save the Republican Party from a generation or more or resounding Presidential election defeats?

Along with an electronic iron curtain reference, when it comes to Big Brother creeping further-and-further into our lives, Senator Paul might want to incorporate this Churchillian theme into his repertoire of freedom:  ‘But if we fail to control the monster of technology, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of high technology. Let us, therefore, brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the United States lives for a thousand years, people will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

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© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014