The reports included the failure of House Republicans to overturn the hugely unpopular phase-out of incandescent light bulbs; new regulations requiring Colorado child care facilities to provide a politically correct ethnic-racial mix of dolls, among 98 pages of other trivia; simultaneous pieces of state and county legislation aimed at imposing an 11 p.m. curfew on anyone 18 and under, with the threat of jail and community service for “offenders” and their elders being required to take parenting classes; bans on smoking on public beaches, in parks, laundry rooms and even privately owned playgrounds, due to unproven risks posed by second-hand smoke; a commentary in the flagship publication of the American Medical Association (AMA) calling for government to take custody of obese children, a determination that would morph, as have so many similar diktats, to cover much broader targets; and the installation of an additional 113 revenue (a.k.a. “speed” or “traffic”) cameras, already universally despised, in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
What connects these stories is a “Government Knows Best,” “Taxpayers-Be-Damned” mentality. All reflect an arrogance that goes against the wishes of a majority of citizens and cuts across partisan lines.
Increasingly, it appears that left-leaning, socialist-minded liberals have learned a lot from the outrageous violations of Americans’ constitutional rights over the course of the Obama Administration, especially through the Environmental Protection Agency, Transportation Security Administration, Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Health and Human Services, with arbitrary land grabs of private property without compensation (EPA), warrantless searches and seizures (TSA), defiance of constitutional principles like “probable cause” (DEA) and over-the-top child-welfare mandates in the name of diversity (HHS). The main premise learned is that average Americans will not put up a significant fight, even when the agents in question are caught red-handed, on camera.
A second insight gleaned from the three agencies is that average citizens can be treated with disdain and contempt, as though the common people carry on their lives at the pleasure of the government, not that government bureaucrats (and agencies) work for the people. Take Colorado’s new Day Care facility diktats, compliments of the state HHS’ Child Care Division. Valerie Richardson of The Washington Times reports “a previously unseen level of detail, including specifications for the number of crayons, paintbrushes and blocks per art kit, the racial composition of dolls and the number of nature scenes per classroom…. In addition, the proposed rules say that 'activities shall be culturally sensitive and represent diversity' and that 'boys and girls shall not be restricted to gender-specific role-playing.' ”
State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, descried the new measures as being emblematic of the Nanny State. “It will increase the cost of doing business, pricing many families out of their day care options,” as well as "drive many child care facilities out of business.” Obviously, private, in-home care, shared by neighbors, could never compete in such an environment, leaving the HHS-preferred government option as the uncontested survivor. Under the initiative, "children would not even be allowed to drink whole milk unless they have a written note from their health care provider," thereby commandeering parental prerogatives again.
A third perception by the left into current American thinking is that, even with extensive coverage of the more outrageous overreaches, people will continue to believe "it can’t happen to me," just as it was in the years leading up to Hitler's Holocaust and the Soviet Terror under Stalin. One recent case in point, finally headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, involves the four-year legal tug-of-war by Mike and Chantell Sackett, in which the EPA effectively seized their Idaho land and ordered them to stop building a house on the half-acre lot, even though it was already zoned for residential use and situated between other houses in a suburban neighborhood, complete with a sewer hookup, because, the agency decided, belatedly, that it was federally designated wetland and in violation of the Clean Water Act. The EPA’s special-permit application itself would cost some $200,000 — more than the value of the property. Challenging “compliance” requirements in court could put the total cost into the stratosphere. The Sacketts' attorney, Damien Schiff said, “Charging property owners a sky-high admissions fee [merely] to get into court isn’t just wrong, it’s flat-out unconstitutional.”
In another example of the can’t-happen-to-me variety, a passenger this month in a TSA security line requested a pat-down as opposed to going through a body scanner at the insistence of her doctor, who advised that since she had received so many recent X-rays in a series of medical tests, she should avoid airport scanners. TSA agents insisted she go through the scanner anyway, at which point, she lifted both arms in helplessness, letting them fall to her sides in exasperation, then walked through. The TSA agent pointed to her and literally shouted: “You! Go to the back of the line and walk through again, or else miss your flight! And now we’ll check every last item in your carry-on too,” even though the bag had already passed easily through the conveyor-belt’s device. The passenger in question was a seasoned flier and a retired federal employee who, until that time, had shrugged off any inconvenience as not worth getting excited about.
Ron Ewart, president of the National Association of Rural Landowners, has pointed out that cases like the Sackett’s, especially in rural areas, are not unusual, and TSA heavy-handedness has, of course, become legendary. Mr. Ewart is stymied as to the attitude of the public at large, which, he says, “is still not sufficiently energized” to demand that agencies like the EPA and the TSA be reined in.
The upshot is that left-leaning liberals — whether they call themselves “Democrats,” “Greens,” outright “Socialists,” or even members of the Communist Party USA — are finding that the timing is ideal to pour on the kinds of intimidation characteristic of a Nanny-style, even totalitarian State, so that conservatives, Republicans, Tea Partiers, and other traditionalists, currently distracted by the economic debacle, will find they have to fight too many battles on too many fronts to have any chance of securing the kind of sea-change required to turn the country around in November 2012, now little more than a year away.
Beverly K. Eakman began her career as a teacher in 1968. She left to become a science writer for a NASA contractor, then editor-in-chief of NASA’s newspaper in Houston. She later served as a speechwriter and research-writer for the director of Voice of America and two other federal agencies, including the U.S. Dept. of Justice. She has since penned six books, scores of feature articles and op-eds covering education policy, mental-health, data-trafficking, science, privacy and political strategy. Her e-mail, a detailed bio, speaking appearances and links to her books all can be found on her website: www.BeverlyE.com.