Circus politics is meant to distract us, don’t get distracted.

It’s easy to get distracted right now by the bread and circus politics that has dominated the news headlines lately, but don’t get distracted.

Don’t be fooled, even a little bit.

We are being subjected to the oldest con game in the books, the magician’s sleight of hand that keeps you focused on the trilemma game in front of you while your wallet is being cleaned out by hoodlums in your midst.

This is how tyranny rises and freedom falls.

What characterizes the U.S. government today is not so much dysfunctional politics as ruthlessly contrived government conducted behind the entertaining, distracting and false curtain of political theater. And what political theater it is, diabolically Shakespearean at times, full of sound and fury, but in the end, meaningless.

We are being ruled by a government of scoundrels, spies, spies, thugs, thieves, mobsters, hoodlums, rapists, extortionists, bounty hunters, battle-ready warriors and cold-blooded killers who communicate using a language of force and oppression.

The U.S. government now represents the greatest threat to our freedoms.

More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, even more than the perceived threat posed by any politician, the U.S. government remains a greater threat to the life, liberty and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers the government claims to protect us from.

Regardless of who has occupied the White House in recent years, the Deep State has managed to keep the citizenry divided and at odds.

After all, as long as we are busy fighting against each other, we will never succeed in presenting a unified front against tyranny in any form.

Unfortunately, we face tyranny in all its forms.

The facts speak for themselves.

We are being robbed blind by a government of thieves. Americans no longer have any real protection against government agents empowered to seize private property at will. For example, law enforcement agencies under the guise of asset forfeiture laws are taking Americans’ personal property based on little more than criminal suspicion and holding it for their own profit and gain. In one case, police seized more than $17,000 in cash from two sisters who were attempting to start a dog breeding business. Despite finding no evidence of wrongdoing, police held the money for months. Homeowners are losing their homes because of unpaid property taxes ((as little as $2300 owed) amounting to a fraction of what they have invested in their homes. And then there is the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has been searching train and airline passengers and pocketing their cash, without charging them with a crime.

We are being taken advantage of by a government of scoundrels, idiots and cowards. Journalist H. L. Mencken calculated that ” Congress is made up of one-third, more or less, of scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, of idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, of cowards. “By and large, Americans seem to agree. When you have government representatives who spend a large portion of their working hours fundraising, being feted by lobbyists, shuffling through a lucrative revolving door between public service and lobbying, and making themselves available to anyone with enough money to secure access to an office in Congress, you are in the clutches of a corrupt oligarchy. Mind you, these same elected officials rarely read the legislation they enact, nor do they seem capable of enacting much legislation that actually helps the plight of the American citizen. More often than not, the legislation makes the citizens worse off.

We are being locked up by a government of greedy jailers. We have become a carceral state, spending three times as much on prisons as on schools and incarcerating nearly a quarter of the world’s prisoners, despite the fact that crime is at historic lows and the United States accounts for only 5% of the world’s population. The rise of over-criminalization and private for-profit prisons provides even greater incentives to lock up U.S. citizens for non-violent “crimes” such as having a weedy lawn.

As the Boston Review notes, “the contemporary American system of policing, courts, incarceration, and parole…. makes money through asset forfeiture, lucrative public contracts from private service providers, and by directly extracting income and unpaid labor from populations of color and the poor.” In states and municipalities across the country, the criminal justice system defrays costs by forcing prisoners and their families to pay for punishment. It also allows private service providers to charge outrageous fees for everyday necessities such as phone calls. As a result, people facing even minor criminal charges can easily become trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of debt, criminalization and incarceration.”

We are being spied on by a government of Peeping Toms. The government, along with its corporate partners, watches everything you do, reads everything you write, listens to everything you say, and monitors everything you spend. Pervasive surveillance is paving the way for government programs that profile citizens, document their behavior, and try to predict what they might do in the future, whether it’s what they might buy, which politician they might support, or what kind of crimes they might commit. The impact of this far-reaching surveillance, according to Psychology Today, is “reduced trust, increased conformity and even decreased civic participation.” As technology analyst Jillian C. York concludes, “mass surveillance without due process-whether undertaken by the government of Bahrain, Russia, the United States, or anyone else-threatens to stifle and suffocate that dissent, leaving in its wake a population cowed by fear.”

We are being ravaged by a government of ruffians, rapists and murderers. It is not only the police shootings of unarmed citizens that are of concern. It’s the SWAT team raids gone wrong – more than 80,000 a year – that leave innocent citizens wounded, children terrorized and pets dead. It’s the strip searches on the highways-in some cases, cavity searches of men and women alike, conducted in public view-in search of drugs that are never found. It’s the potentially lethal – and unwarranted – use of so-called “non-lethal” weapons, such as Tasers, against children for “talking to a police officer.” For trying to run away from the principal’s office. For, at age 12, getting into a fight with another girl.”

We are being forced to surrender our freedoms – and those of our children – to a government of extortionists, money launderers and professional pirates. The American people have been sold the lie over and over again that the government needs more money, more powers and more secrecy (secret courts, secret budgets, secret military campaigns, secret surveillance) to keep us safe. Under the guise of fighting its wars on terrorism, drugs and now domestic extremism, the government has spent billions of taxpayer dollars on endless wars that have not ended terrorism but merely sowed the seeds of blowback, surveillance programs that have captured few terrorists while subjecting all Americans to a surveillance society, and militarized policing that has done little to reduce crime while turning communities into war zones. Not surprisingly, the primary beneficiaries of these governmental exercises in legal money laundering have been the corporations, lobbyists and politicians who inflict them on an unsuspecting public.

We are being held at gunpoint by a government of soldiers: a standing army. As if it weren’t enough that the U.S. military empire spans the globe (and continues to siphon much-needed resources from the U.S. economy), the U.S. government is creating its own standing army of militarized police and teams of armed federal bureaucrats. These civilian employees are being armed to the teeth with guns, ammunition and military-style equipment; they are authorized to make arrests and trained in military tactics. Among the agencies that have been outfitted with night vision equipment, bulletproof vests, hollow-point bullets, shotguns, drones, assault rifles and LP gas cannons are the Smithsonian, the U.S. Mint, Health and Human Services, the IRS, the FDA, the Small Business Administration, the Social Security Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and a number of public universities. Reportedly, there are now more bureaucratic (non-military) government civilians armed with deadly high-tech weapons than there are U.S. Marines. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the government’s arsenal, the transformation of local police into extensions of the military, and how quickly the nation could be locked under martial law depending on the circumstances.

Whatever it is – a danger, a threat, an intimidation – the U.S. government is no friend of freedom.

To our detriment, the criminal class that Mark Twain derisively referred to as Congress has since expanded to include all the government agencies that feed off the carcass of our once constitutional republic.

The government and its minions have conspired to make sure that the only real recourse the American people have to hold government accountable or to express their dissatisfaction with government is through voting, which is no real recourse at all.

Consider: the penalties for civil disobedience, whistleblowing and rebellion are severe. If you refuse to pay taxes for government programs you consider immoral or illegal, you will go to jail. If you attempt to overthrow the government – or any government agency – because you believe it has overstepped its authority, you will go to jail. If you try to expose government misconduct, you will go to jail. In some circumstances, if you even try to approach your elected representative to express your discontent, you can be arrested and jailed.

You cannot have a republican form of government – nor a democratic one, for that matter – when the government considers itself superior to the citizenry, when it no longer operates for the benefit of the people, when the people are no longer capable of peacefully reforming their government, when government officials cease to act as public servants, when elected officials no longer represent the will of the people, when the government routinely violates the rights of the people and perpetrates more violence against the citizenry than the criminal class, when government spending is irresponsible and unaccountable, when the judiciary acts as courts of order rather than justice, and when the government is no longer bound by the laws of the Constitution.

We no longer have a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Rather, what we have is a government of wolves.

For too long, the American people have obeyed the dictates of government, however unjust.

We have paid their taxes, penalties and fines, no matter how outrageous. We have tolerated its indignities, insults and abuses, no matter how egregious. We have turned a blind eye to their indiscretions and incompetence, however reckless. We have kept silent in the face of their lawlessness, debauchery and corruption, however illicit.

How long we will continue to suffer depends on how much we are willing to give up for the sake of freedom.

For the moment, the American people seem content to sit back and watch the reality shows that masquerade as politics these days. It is the modern equivalent of bread and circuses, a carefully calibrated exercise in how to manipulate, polarize, propagandize and control the population..

As the French philosopher Etienne de La Boétie observed half a millennium ago:

“Plays, farces, spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, pictures and other such opiates were for ancient peoples the bait towards slavery, the price of their freedom, the instruments of tyranny. By means of these practices and seductions, the ancient dictators so successfully lulled their subjects under the yoke, that the stupefied peoples, fascinated by the vain pastimes and pleasures that passed before their eyes, learned submission as naively, but not as worthily, as little children learn to read by looking at bright picture books.”

The bait to slavery. The price of freedom. The instruments of tyranny.

Yeah, sounds pretty good.

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