Tipping Toward Tyranny
June 19, 2013 by John Myers
“We know better than what they tell us, yet hope otherwise.” — Thomas Pynchon, in a 2003 introduction to George Orwell’s reprinted classic, 1984
After the past few months, nothing President Barack Obama and his Chicago troika (first lady Michelle Obama, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder) says shocks me. Their ideology is based on their African-American heritage and their Islamic sympathies. What should shock us is that we are allowing the Obama Administration to do what it wants with nary an objection — not from the people, not from the press and not even from our Republican representatives in Congress.
Our latest engagement in Syria will only make that nation a breeding ground for future terrorists. The consequences of that will be arguments by the Obama Administration for even greater authority. That will mean Americans will have fewer liberties. Don’t count on public outrage.
In a recent poll from the Pew Research Center and The Washington Post, 56 percent of those surveyed said the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program to track phone records is acceptable. Only 41 percent said it was unacceptable. When asked about anti-terrorism efforts, 62 percent of respondents said it was more important for the government to investigate possible terror threats, even if the price was personal privacy.
I cannot comprehend how almost two out of every three Americans are perfectly willing to let Obama shred the 4th Amendment. It gets worse. Some Republicans in Congress are suggesting that journalists should be subject to arrest if their articles put the Nation at risk. Risk is how the Obama Administration defines it. If this happens, there goes the 1st Amendment. All of this begs the question: If we are willing to give up these Constitutional rights, are we willing to give up everything in the Constitution? Will America sacrifice the right to bear arms and even the 22nd Amendment, the only instrument that limits the President to two terms?
I try not to be too pessimistic, but it seems that we are at a tipping point — something Malcolm Gladwell studied and wrote about in his acclaimed book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. In it, he states, “Change happens not gradually but at one dramatic moment.”
Flying Blind And Blind Trust
My own personal experiences have demonstrated that Gladwell is correct. I almost had a life-ending moment, and I wasn’t aware of it until it was upon me.
It was 20 years ago when my uncle, Dick Myers, flew me to Billings, Mont., in his Cessna 172. We took the trip to see Little Bighorn Battlefield, the site of Gen. George Custer’s last stand.
Dick had let me handle the controls from the co-pilots seat many times before in mid-flight, but only on perfectly clear days. Dick had flown for decades, with 2,000 hours as first in command. When he asked me if I wanted to take control over the middle of Montana, I said, “You bet.”
We were cruising at 120 mph at an altitude of 8,000 feet. Dick was taking a rest in the left seat, eyes closed.
A cloudbank overcame us with me at the controls. I understood only two gauges: the altimeter and the airspeed indicator. In pilot jargon, I was flying VFR, or visual flight rules. Given my inexperience, it was necessary for me to be able to see the horizon just to keep the plane flying straight and level. But I was blissfully ignorant as the clouds came upon us. Everything seemed fine when Dick became startled, saying, “I have the controls!”
I didn’t know what all the excitement was about, but certainly Dick was plenty excited. He grabbed the yoke and rammed the throttle forward. The small Cessna’s single engine roared. We momentarily broke through the clouds. It was then that I was able to see I had not been flying straight. Our plane was listing to the right, and the nose of the plane was pointed toward the prairie below.
It couldn’t have been much more than a minute; but in that time, I had lost all ability to tell up from down. It is called spatial disorientation. It is what happened to John F. Kennedy Jr. when he crashed his Piper Saratoga into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in 1999. All Dick had to do was give the instruments a quick check to stabilize the plane as we flew back into cloud cover.
“That was close,” Dick exclaimed. I could tell he was angry at himself for not being alert as I flew into the clouds. He had trusted the weather report before we departed which said there would be an unlimited ceiling. After we landed (and over a much-needed beverage), he told me that when flying, things can go bad in the blink of an eye. As Gladwell explained in his book, a great many things reach a tipping point.
It is easy to blame the loss of liberties on Obama because of his disregard for the Constitution. Yet millions of Americans implicitly trust Obama to do the right thing — even after the Benghazi, Libya, cover-up; abuses by the Internal Revenue Service; the seizure of telephone records of reporters; and the all-encompassing NSA spy program.
How can you blindly trust someone you have never met and don’t know? Even the people who have written about Obama and support his policies admit that nobody — with the exception of his wife, Michelle — knows who Obama is.
Let me tell you about trust. That same summer I was flying the airplane, there was a front-page story in our hometown newspaper. Our family doctor of 15 years was arrested (he was later convicted) for having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male patient. The news was crushing because he was a good doctor and, I thought, a sensible man. He delivered our babies and even made house-calls if anyone in the family was ill. He had a wife and child. He was the kind of man that women wanted to be with and men wanted to be like. He had a thriving practice. And I thought I knew him well.
All these years later, I still ask: How could I have been so wrong? Who do we really know?
I have known my wife for 40 years. I believe I know what is in her heart, and she knows what is in mine. But beyond my wife, I really can’t make blanket statements about anyone. And I certainly wouldn’t make one about someone I have never met who is also a politician.
When millions of Americans feel they can trust Obama, we are near a tipping point. I just hope that America can save itself before it’s too late.
Yours in good times and bad,