There's a lot of buzz lately about the federal government preparing for massive civil unrest across the country. The most recent alarm was raised when the Army began conducting military training exercises in the streets of St. Louis, Mo.
The Army Reserve's 354th MP unit is conducting training using what has been described in some stories as "tanks" but are actually heavily armored vehicles similar to large Humvees or armored personnel carriers.
Army officials have been mum on why the exercises are being conducted in the streets of a major city, but St. Louis residents were warned not to be alarmed if the armored vehicles came rolling by.
Most interviews conducted with residents by broadcast news have been with people who were supportive of the Army's presence, and some have suggested that the military show might cut crime.
This has led some bloggers to speculate that the purpose of the exercises is to acclimate people to seeing an urban military presence.
Another story that has fueled speculation about preparations for civil unrest is the purchase of 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow-point bullets by the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The purchase was announced at the end of March in a press release from the company that won the supply contract, ATK.
Hollow-point bullets are designed to expand on impact, greatly increasing the size of any wound and lowering the chance that the bullet might "blow through" the target. They are best used against unarmored targets.
Earlier this week, the story came out that ISP GoDaddy had been ordered by the "Obama Truth Team" to shut down the website HomelandSecurityus.com, run by Douglas Haggman, CEO of Hagmann Investigative Services, Inc., a private investigative agency serving Fortune 500 clients.
Hagmann says GoDaddy told him his site was being removed for "morally objectionable content," but that further investigation led him to the Truth Team, a wing of the Obama campaign that spends its days trolling the Internet for anything negative about the president.
Hagmann says he believes at least part of the reason he drew the Truth Team's ire is that he published a story that went viral last month about a Homeland Security insider source who alleged that the feds are preparing for "massive civil war" in the next few months.
The Truth Team, which is on Facebook, has even caught the attention of ABC's Jake Tapper, who criticized the team for using campaign propaganda as "facts" to refute legitimate criticism of Obama and his administration. The Obama Administration is also known to have killed published stories about Obama's daughters and is rumored to have killed others.
Hagmann has moved his site to another server so that it can remain online.
Stories like the above have fueled concern among some people about the federal government's intentions, particularly as the presidential election approaches.
In fact, let me add a story of my own. In my own community, in the greater Los Angeles area, I've personally seen now on at least three occasions flights of military helicopters zooming just above treetop level along the 101 Freeway corridor.
These were definitely military choppers. Each time, they were in flights of two. Twice, the flights included a cargo/personnel chopper and an attack helicopter packing wing-mounted weapon pods. The third time, it was two of the attack choppers.
After each sighting, I called our local military base and was told there were no flights over that area and that their pilots wouldn't be allowed to fly that low if there had been. The local newspapers and stations had no clue that anything had even happened.
So what can you make of all this? Most of these stories have plausible explanations.
In the case of the St. Louis Army training, the National Guard often moves its units around in the summer for training exercises, so a Maryland-based unit might conceivably find itself practicing in Missouri. For the hollow-point shells order, perhaps Homeland Security was just making sure it spent its budget so that it wouldn't be cut back the next fiscal year. In the case of the helicopters, maybe some big shot just needed to get from Point A to Point B and the military publicist just didn't feel the public needed to know.
Maybe other suggestions are just paranoia.
The problem is, the human capacity for self-delusion cuts both ways. Just as we may jump too quickly to the conclusion that we're about to enter a state of martial law, we also have a tremendous ability to ignore the obvious and see no evil even when it is practically screaming in our faces.
Going back to the helicopters for a moment. On the occasion of one such sighting, I was outside a convenience store with two other people when the choppers flew overhead. The parking lot and surrounding sidewalks were fairly busy. I would guess at least 20 to 30 people were walking around outside, not to mention all the people in cars stopped at the intersection, which easily accounted for another 20 people at least.
The choppers approached, the noise of their rotors making the air vibrate. They were literally low enough that I could almost have made out the faces of the pilots if they hadn't been wearing helmets. I pointed out the choppers to my companions who also remarked on how low and loud they were. We counted the number of missiles on the racks of the helicopters.
The amazing thing, though? I didn't see anyone of the 50 or more people around us look up. I remarked on that fact to my companions, and they also looked around and noticed everybody else seemed too wrapped up in "whatever" to notice something very unusual happening just a hundred feet over their heads.
It was almost a creepy feeling, and it did feel for a few seconds like we were being invaded or had been invaded and nobody noticed except for our little group.
The real issue that has Americans on edge, though, is signified by the Truth Team ordering a website shut down. Anyone who has been really paying attention to this administration knows that we are living under the thumb of a president who is a solipsistic narcissist with no conscience about breaking the law if it suits him.
President Obama's recent actions have given a clear indication that he believes neither Congress nor Supreme Court can check his powers, and he has been gathering more power to himself. He has made it clear that he would prefer to be a king rather than a president.
He has also made it clear that as his poll numbers slip among various constituent groups that strongly supported him the last time, he is growing increasingly desperate and is willing to do whatever it takes to try to lure supporters back to his camp.
Under this president, at this time, the scenario of impending martial law is believable in a way that it never has been before. Obama has Americans in a battlefield frame of mind. But how can you know for sure what the government's intentions are?
The best course may be simply to be prepared. As Col. William Prescott said, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes."