Hearty thanks to Hans Bader, a Washington lawyer who has done superb work defending freedom and constitutional rights for decades!
If you want to learn about the many ways the federal government violates your rights, wastes your money, and abuses its powers, you should read James Bovard’s Last Rights: The Death of American Liberty. It is only 306 pages long (not counting endnotes), but it contains more information than some encyclopedias. It is well-written and an easy read. When you plug passages from the book into WordPress, it generally ranks their readability as “good,” unlike most of my blog posts and newspaper columns, which are classified either as “OK” or “needs improvement.”
The Wall Street Journal has called Bovard “the roving inspector general of the modern state,” while Washington Post columnist George Will called him a “one-man truth squad.” Over the years, he has written 11 books and countless op-eds. His writings have been publicly denounced by the FBI Director, the Postmaster General, three cabinet secretaries, and the chiefs of the TSA, DEA, and FEMA.
Bovard describes the government’s failure to detect even the most obvious fraud in pandemic relief programs. For example, “the feds distributed $813 billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.” “The feds gave PPP loans to 342 people who said their name was ‘N/A.’” “In Florida, a PPP loan was used to bankroll a murder-for-hire plot that left a TSA agent dead.” “15 Illinois jailbirds used PPP loans to pay their bail.” Almost “$600 billion may have been lost to fraud” in such federal pandemic relief programs.
Bovard describes how vague federal laws are used to impose ever-expanding burdens on businesses and the public. For example,
Yaroslav Suris, a deaf man, sued Pornhub and similar websites for violating the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act]. Suris complained that, because of lack of closed captioning, he was unable to comprehend the action in Hot Step Aunt Babysits Disobedient Nephew. Pornhub offered captions for more than a thousand videos, but apparently not enough to satisfy the plaintiff….
The Biden administration invoked the ADA to make wearing face masks compulsory for all public school and preschool attendees…Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona claimed that governors and state legislatures that failed to require students to wear masks violated federal law. In August 2021, the Department of Education launched civil rights investigations, claiming that five states that prohibited mask mandates “discriminate against students with disabilities who are at heightened risk for severe illness from COVID-19 by preventing them from safely accessing in-person education.” …In July 2022, a federal appeals court overturned [a] lower court decision [against Texas’s mask ban] … since most of the schools with mask mandates had similar or higher COVID transmission rates than schools with no mandate….A Brown University analysis found no correlation between mask mandates and lower COVID case rates.
Bovard focuses most on the federal government, but he also describes the pathologies that afflict schools, law enforcement, and local governments. He describes how progressive government officials want to disarm law-abiding citizens, even as they fail to protect them from violence. In the riots that erupted in many cities after the death of George Floyd, “Big-city mayors made a partisan or ideologically motivated decision to refuse to deploy the police to quash rioting … to show solidarity with left-wing protestors,” noted law professor David Bernstein. Looting and killing followed, notes Bovard:
After Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered police to stand down and abandon a precinct headquarters, the building was burnt down, and looting and burning engulfed much of the city, leaving several people dead, dozens stabbed or shot, and scores of police officers injured. Fifteen hundred properties suffered up to $500 million in damage. Mayor Frey shrugged off the damage as “just brick and mortar.” The city’s homicide rate doubled after the riots.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to violent protests by announcing that he wanted police to use “a light touch because people are undeniably angry for a reason.” The chief of a New York Police Department union complained: “We are being told to stand down. We have a city that’s being destroyed.” For hours, police failed to respond to desperate calls after looting broke out, and they stood aside when the flagship Macy’s store on 34th Street was plundered. Almost 500 stores were looted or burned.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin forced police to abandon a precinct headquarters. Demonstrators quickly swarmed that area and proclaimed an autonomous zone. Durkan justified their action by referred to it as a “block party” heralding a “summer of love.” The following month, Durkin admitted that the autonomous zone helped spur a 525% increase in crome in Seattle. The city’s murder rate doubled in 2020. By 2021, police were so overwhelmed by a crime surge that they ceased investigating sexual assaults involving adults…
After violence erupted in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot hectored defenseless residents: “Do not pick up arms and try to be the police. If there’s a problem, call 911. We will respond. But … do not take matters into your own hands.” But the 911 system completely collapsed during widespread looting and shooting. Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods were ravaged by mobs that pillaged local store owners , who were mostly minorities. In the first weekend of June 2020, 85 people were shot and 24 murdered in the city…Chicago police failed to respond to more than 400,000 high-priority emergency service calls in 2021, including 14,955 assaults in progress, 1,352 reports of a person shot, and almost a thousand cases of a person stabbed.
Bovard describes the government’s absurd double standards during the coronavirus pandemic. During the lockdowns, government officials discriminated against religion and productive activity, and in favor of risky lifestyles. For example, small businesses were shut down to prevent potential human contact, yet lockdown advocate Anthony Fauci “declared that people who hook up with strangers via Tinder were entitled to make their ‘choice regarding a risk,’” and New York “city officials sanctioned ‘glory holes’ for sex with strangers” even as people were arrested for not wearing face masks. Pennsylvania’s governor “decreed that anyone visiting other people’s homes must wear a face mask,” even as Pennsylvania’s health department was producing a guide for people who “attend a large gathering where you might” have an orgy.
These are just a few tiny examples from Last Rights, selected more or less at random. There is much, much more in the book, which is available at Amazon at this link: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Rights-Death-American-Liberty/dp/B0CP9VCNDH
The New York Post describes some of the other kinds of government follies and abuses of power covered in the book.
 See Last Rights, pg. 83.
 See Last Rights, pp. 144-46.
 See Last Rights, pp. 43-44.
 See Last Rights, pg. 88.