Okaloosa Needs To Stand Up to The TSA

I grew up loving the idea of airplanes and travel. I built and flew models as a kid. I pursued aviation as a teenager. I became a pilot in the Air Force. For personal and professional reasons, I’ve flown over much of the world, and not once did I hesitate because I had to fly to get there.

Now I hesitate.

It’s my government.

If an American travels today in his own country that person will have to, by law (Federal Register, Vol 71, No 135, 14 July 2006, page 40037), undergo a screening process run by the FBI and be given or denied the permission to travel on any public conveyance based on the results of this screening (without any charges or review by a judge). If that person is traveling by air, they will either be seen naked by an x-ray scanner or go through the humiliation of having their private parts involuntarily groped and prodded by a stranger in latex gloves. They must also run the risk of health effects from increased x-ray exposure. All the while, the American will actually be paying for this abuse from his or her own wallet. What is a crime anywhere else, has become policy in our airports.

I wish this were hyperbole.

In the name of making us all safe, security procedures have reached the logical extreme that had to come to pass once government was allowed to inspect us without the protections of the fourth amendment. We are now in a Kafkaesque world of bureaucratic compliance and individual submission.

I consider myself a reasonable person. I don’t go looking for trouble because I know trouble is always looking for me. The TSA has now forced me to either maintain my self-respect, at my personal or economic detriment, or give in to depraved authority. If I travel with my family, I must contend with the possibility that a stranger will touch my wife and children in the most intimate way. And all I’ve done is mind my own business.

And to think the new procedures will not eliminate, or even reduce, criminal acts. If a person is willing to board a plane to blow himself up, he will be willing to do other acts just as effective that do not require a screening process. In the meantime 300 million people will have to live with their most intimate privacy invaded, another legal double standard established, and a new source of abuse created as assorted perverts vie with each other to become TSA agents. Being secure in your person and papers, according to the constitution, will go extinct.

Of course, you could always not travel. Or you could take an uncomfortable bus, if the FBI will let you (FBI screenings and permission apply to bus manifests as well). Besides, taking a bus is difficult if you want to go to Paris, let’s say. Make up your mind early, though. If you decide once in the inspection zone that you can’t submit yourself to being seen naked or to sexual assault, the TSA claims it can fine you $10,000 for leaving uninspected. Get threatened with legalized sexual assault and get fined in the bargain.

Resistance is starting. Pilot and flight attendant associations are threatening to walk out. Holiday air ticket sales are in jeopardy. What will the American populace in general do is the question.

Okaloosa County must make a statement. The County Commissioners should instruct Mr. Greg Donovan, Airport Director for the County, to resist by whatever means possible the installation of full body scanners and prohibit the implementation of full body pat downs.

As a people we must have the courage to realize there is no ironclad solution to the problem of a criminal wanting to destroy himself and you with him. To give up your liberties for government protection and still be secure in your own person is an illusion.

You are not the property of the government. They do not have a right to inspect you simply because you travel. You do not need their permission for you to travel.

But look where we are.

As Eisenhower said, the safest place on earth is a prison.

No Where Else To Go

Difficult as it is for me to admit this, the big story of the election of 2010 is that the Tea Party had nowhere else to go, or so they think, so they went Republican.

By doing so they lost an opportunity to set things right. Despite the large gains in the House and Senate, the 660 state representative seats that switched sides, and the Republican sweep in Okaloosa, the name of the game in representative government is using citizens rights as a negotiating tool, managing the markets for the benefit of a few, and always bigger government. Tea Party supported Republicans are not going to change this game any more than Democrats are.

This forces a question. How can it be that in a liberty loving country like ours we are reduced to choosing one of two ancient political parties that do the same thing? That is the constant thought of those who want real political competition in America, such as me and my fellow Libertarians.

The law is part of the reason. If you want to fight politically, the law has been codified in such a way so as to allow anyone to speak from a street corner, but becomes a serious obstacle if you want to form organized opposition to the Republicans and Democrats (who wrote the laws). The Fort Walton Beach Tea Party, for example, decided to incorporate as a 501c(3) corporation because it allowed them to accumulate resources to advocate issues while having IRS not for profit exemptions. But at the same time it prevents them from presenting or financially supporting candidates for political office.

I find it ironic that the loudest political voice in Okaloosa of the last two years cannot present or support candidates. I am sure that pleases the Republican leadership in the County.

Of course, the Tea Party could have chosen to be a political party, but by doing so they would have to run a gamut of political reporting requirements (local, state and federal), and be subject to dozens of laws with felony level penalties. The Tea Party collects cash donations with a glass jar today, no questions asked. If they were a political party that would put them in jail. A simple restriction like this favors the Republicans and Democrats who have 150 years of organization, deal making and big money behind them.

And that is just one small piece of a very big puzzle.

Another reason is voter complacency. Does anyone doubt a Republican candidate would say they were for responsible, conservative government? But Okaloosa is filled with Republicans who have made the County budget bigger; made millage rates go up for cities, towns, and fire districts; refused to make the Mid Bay Bridge Authority be a cost effective government service, proposed sales taxes, and even had some who scandalously abused their office. None of this was responsible or conservative. Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of Okaloosans, Tea Partiers included, still gave their vote to Republican candidates.

This is what the Tea Party settled for. It’s a far cry from the outrage over bailouts and the corruption of the rule of law that formed them in 2008.

In all fairness, the Libertarians could offer but one candidate on the ballot to stem the tide this year, the redoubtable Alex Snitker. It remains the Libertarian Party’s ever present task to find and present more candidates to show people like the Tea Partiers that there is a better place to go than the Republicans.

And the need for an alternative is growing. Financial catastrophe is lurking out there. Decades of Republican and Democrat favors have produced a financial system rife with fraud, debt and unemployment. As a result, the Republicans were thrown out in 08. In turn, the Democrats were thrown out in 10.

Who will Okaloosa throw out in 12 when things are worse? And more importantly, who will Okaloosa put in?

Pete Blome is a retired military officer, member of the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party, and Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County.

Libertarians Liberal Side

Libertarian’s have a liberal side? Typically, it is believed that Libertarian’s are only about keeping the government from pilfering our wallets; which has merit. But, that is not the only government intrusion that we have objections to. The definition of libertarian is: one who advocates liberty, especially with regard to thought or conduct; one who maintains the doctrine of the freedom of the will. When government uses its power to subrogate the individual’s will, we see that as an intrusion of our rights as free people. It is not the duty of the government to subjugate the people to a narrow social or moral idealism.

“Our support of the individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove those choices”

We support the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Only actions that infringe on the rights of others can properly be termed crimes. We favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.

That sounds ludicrous to many people, and the abuses sound dangerous. But It should be the choice of the individual as to what they do with their bodies, even if it results in the detriment of their health. We are not the property of the government! We recognize that abuses will occur, but the greater danger is that the government will wage war on its own people.

Mike Maier, Treasurer, Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County