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"strange Days Indeed."

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"Strange days indeed."






"Strange days indeed." — Lyrics from the song "Nobody Told Me"


It's appropriate that the above song by John Lennon was released in 1984, the year used as the title by George Orwell in his classic novel about a world where the individual was subordinate to the state, and where Big Brother oversaw a society where terms like "blackwhite," "Newspeak" and "Memory Hole" represented conditions we could never have believed possible in the United States.


But recent events bring Orwell to mind in our country, seemingly turned upside down, where our mere appearance could lead to our neighbors reporting us as suspicious and in need of observation by authorities.


Strange days, indeed.


Instead of Orwell's "Big Brother," the U.S. has "Big Sis," aka Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).


Big Sis — the woman who gave us intrusive airport pat downs — has co-opted several hundred Wal-Mart stores to telecast her recorded message telling shoppers to report to the government any "suspicious" behavior they witness.


Since no definition is given of what constitutes the type of behavior, Americans are being encouraged to profile one another.


One need not expand the imagination far to envision reports involving everything from unusual clothing, to personal mannerisms, to political statements on T-shirts.


The "Big Sis" effort is even gaining an ally in the private sector with the recent introduction of the latest iPhone application, one that carries the Orwellian moniker of PatriotApp.


A Florida software company — "Citizen Concepts" — founded by a group including a pair of people claiming past experience working with DHS, created the program that will allow the user to simply tap a screen to link with a government agency and report various activities.


The icon, which features an ominous looking eye, carries the title "Suspicious Activity" and will allow the user to report a neighbor directly to the FBI.


Another of the nine icons is titled "Pandemic" and allows the reporting of unspecified "exposure" to the Centers for Disease Control in case someone in your car sneezes on you.


Yet another option allows the reporting of "Government Waste," a link to the General Accounting Office the next time we see Congressman John Conyers allowing a family member to use his taxpayer-funded, $1,200-a-month, premium Cadillac Escalade.


And of course there's the obligatory link to the Environmental Protection Agency.


There's nothing wrong with expecting Americans to look out for their own safety, but they already do.


There are countless neighborhood watches in our country where homeowners help each other protect property.


It's difficult to imagine an American who doesn't know that we dial 9-1-1 in the event of any emergency.


It's difficult to imagine that the endless presence of "Big Sis" at Wal-Mart, or that eyeball icon at "PatriotApp," is going to stop a single terrorist act.


And it's not difficult to imagine that these programs will lead to the call for even more undertrained government employees to sift through the mountains of paperwork that will potentially be created, most of which will be destined for the "Memory Hole."


More prudent than expanding a "blackwhite" world where "Big Sis" and her bosses won't acknowledge the terror threat of radical Islamists, would be a government effort to explain the customs of Muslim religious worship that need not be feared, and the tell-tale behavioral signs of extremists who mean to do us harm.


These are strange days indeed, inviting comparisons to past events of Nazi Germany and the old USSR.


But we can never claim that nobody told us there'd be days like these — Orwell did.


Frank Beckmann is host of “The Frank Beckmann Show” on WJR-AM (760) from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday. E-mail comments to letters@detnews.com.



© Copyright 2010 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.


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"STRANGE DAYS INDEED" is a great title for this piece. The picture he presents of big brother is extremely troubling. At the same time the author, Frank Beckmann is extremely troubling as well.


First his presentation seems to have been drawn from this AM's Washington Post article that was posted on here,




Where the Washington Post detailed how big brother in the form of the DHS is now watching everything. Curiously Beckmann (extreme right wing radio host) does not seem to have given them any credit. Could have been the fact that the right wing refers to the Washington Post as "Pravda on the Potomac".


Both the Washington Post and Beckman truly present a vision of Big Brother Watching that should be disturbing to everyone. I came away with the feeling that the acronym DEA is now being replaced by DHS.


On a secondary level one needs to understand that Bechman is probably the most right wing of any local on air personality in Michigan. As a hardcore conservative, he frequently makes Limbaugh sound like a liberal (same station too, WJR). The conservatives have a serious hard-on for Naplitano (head of DHS). After she took over DHS she made public an internal DHS memo warning about right wing extremist that had been written and buried during the Bush administration.




Her background includes doing investigative work on the Oklahoma bombing during her stint with the Dept. of Justice. The fact that she made the document public enraged the extreme right wing and she was sued by folks that hail from Michigan, the Thomas More Law Center (Domino's Tom Monaghan).


The bottomline is both the story and the reporter are very, very scary. "Strange Days Indeed"!

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Wow. Wal-Mart as a quasi-government agency. That is a frightening thought, especially when you add in the fact that Wal-Mart is one of the most globalized companies in the world. It is already “too big to fail.”


A little rambling music please-


If all Wal-Mart employees were to unionize we would have our first globalized workers union.

That in of itself constitutes the creation of a nation, as the true definition of a nation does not include geographical or man-made borders. Any large group of people who share a common cause or belief is considered a nation.


For better or worse, the repercussions would be profound.


Ok, let’s get back to the topic. All of this scrutiny we are being placed under seems like this is all a win for the terrorists, no?

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I'd like to get one of those phones just so I could report a bunch of really stupid crap to waste a LOT of their time.


Hey, for those of us who possess an "inner Frank Rizzo quality" this could be a lot of fun.


darn, I absolutely HATE WALMART and won't set foot inside one of their stores for a variety of reasons...but, first and foremost because of what they have done to our brother Joseph Cassias.


Do they really broadcast over the intercom to their shoppers for them to report suspicious behaviour in their stores right now?




Maybe "the men in blue" who are about to be laid off in various municipalities around the state can now work the new security desk at Walmart? :thumbsu:





p.s. Sheriff Bouchard does look like he could be a Wallyworld manager... :rock:

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