Old Ways Die Hard

In the movie “Braveheart” the evil king Edward III implemented a policy to ethnically cleanse Scotland of Scotsmen. Called Prima Nocta, it gave the local lord a special, legal right to sleep with all commoner, newlywed, Scottish women before their husbands do. Its purpose was to shatter cultural bonds and reduce the population to slaves. The modern mind finds this concept abhorrent since it has at its root the idea that all men are not created equal; that a crime is not a crime depending on who is doing it.

The American equivalent of Prima Nocta is now the TSA. The TSA can perform acts that are legal on one side of a yellow line on an airport floor but grossly illegal on the other, such as illegal search and sexual battery. Contrary to the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution, all American travelers must get permission to travel, passed through the TSA, before boarding commercial vehicles of all types (even a bus). Thousands of American citizens are on the TSA “no fly” list even though no charges are brought against them. This amalgam of legal hypocrisy rests on the idea that a person inherently consents to government search when they travel (what nonsense) and that the illegal search will prevent some sort of terrorist catastrophe. The thought that this can exist in the law, and that Americans now accept it as part of the price of travel, is as disturbing as it is ridiculous.

But the level of national outrage with the TSA has increased a notch as of late. TSA agents recently conspired to guide attractive male travelers to a fellow inspector who got his jollies by groping them. Because the TSA was typically inefficient in investigating itself, the evidence to prosecute these men was lost. The worst that could happen to them is they got fired.

Okaloosa County is no stranger to this TSA saga. It was here that Ms. Jean Webber’s chronically ill, 95 year old mother became national news when she was forced to remove her adult undergarment at the order of a TSA agent; a task Ms. Webber had to perform on her mother personally.  TSA agents have been involved in theft, smuggling, sending pictures of attractive “naked screened” passengers to tens of thousands of recipients, bribery and, now blatant sexual battery. Since very few travelers actually consent to having a stranger grope their genitals, (most endure it simply to get to where they need to be), everyone going through this procedure in Florida is having the crime of sexual battery committed against them.

In our land of the free everyone must get searched by the TSA without evidence or probable cause. Even Congressman Ron Paul was delayed from voting in Congress by a TSA search, which is a direct violation of the Constitution, Article I, Section 6, as he told them.

We now have an entire generation that has grown up under TSA illegality. What makes the destruction of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments so much more the worse is that TSA procedures will not prevent terrorism. Without fueling overactive imaginations, there must be a dozen ways that a fanatic can attack flight operations without even getting on a plane; without even seeing a TSA agent. When the government took over airport security, it gave a public subsidy to the airlines who otherwise would have had to come up with private measures to handle security. That method would have at least given people a real choice as to how they wanted to travel, not violated the Constitution, nor set up a privileged legal class.

The TSA should be disbanded. Airport security should be returned to those who have the greatest stake in its success, the airlines. Crimes should be prosecuted based on the act, not based on who is doing them, or where. The United States does not need a fake Constitution, nor does it need to propagate the idea that you’re privileged in the law if you work for the Feds.

Let’s leave the middle ages in the history books where it belongs.

 Pete Blome is a retired military officer, and Chair of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party




Is This Legit?

As a citizen, a veteran, and someone who has been interested in how our Republic is governed for my whole life, I have to ask a hard question. Is government, in general, losing its legitimacy in the USA?

Legitimacy is about trust. As a people, we trust that, overall, the government is acting in our best interest. Trust is hard to win and easy to lose.

Responsible leaders know the importance of maintaining legitimacy. Government by its nature is force, and when people see force at work in all its ugliness they need to know, at a gut level, that it is being used for good things.   If it is used for bad things it gets very hard for the average, decent person to tolerate government. People refuse. Taxes don’t get paid. Sacred cows get gored. Responsible leaders are supposed to speak up when going-along to-get-along goes too far and leads to a lack of trust.

But are they? The key to legitimate government in America should still be about protecting individual rights, free markets and a limited government. It’s these qualities that made America worth living in. This country grew into an economic and military giant because they lead to prosperity. If legitimacy is now based on government buying people off, as the cynical would say, we are certainly headed for a crash. “You can’t buy permanent friends with free candy.”

Individual rights are now considered secondary to other needs. Consider the Federal level alone. Instead of free speech, we have “free speech zones.”   Political competition is restricted by laws that embed only two political parties in power. Congress wrote a law that forces everyone to buy medical insurance. President Bush actually advocated eliminating Habeas Corpus.   President Obama proposed eliminating ammunition for the most popular type of rifle in private hands. The SCOTUS ruled way back in 1942 that the Federal government can control what a person legally makes, mines, or grows on his own property for his own use, even if no one else is involved. In order to use commercial travel, a person must get permission from the DHS first or they will not be allowed to go, no judge, jury or public evidence involved.   The TSA routinely ignores the Fourth Amendment. Intelligence agencies are spying on us, and they have publicly apologized to lying about that in sworn testimony to Congress. Police departments can legally use civil confiscation to take property without charges or even evidence of guilt. When did we become a country where our rights are protected by the Constitution, but only if we don’t actually want to use them?

America is the land of the managed market. A free market is based on voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. The tax code, the creation of our dollars, Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the minimum wage, bank and corporate bailouts, business regulation, government control of education, utility and infrastructure monopolies, licenses, permits, zoning, affirmative action, agricultural subsidies, and the massive government bureaucracy all depend on the idea some citizens should have privileges over other citizens in the law. Besides being unjust, this idea makes for higher costs, less choice and poorer quality. Today, the invisible hand of the free market has been replaced by a very visible thumb on the market scales. As the Roman Senator Tacitus said, “The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state.”

Finally, it is hard to claim our government is limited in its power when both Presidents Bush and Obama have assassinated U.S. citizens abroad without a trial or even presentation of evidence. Our government actually authorized torture. This is such nonsense since they can no more authorize torture than they can authorize rape or slavery. No higher functionary in government, no matter how guilty, is going to jail.

These are more than ugly trends. They are a bad way to govern. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, they make people think “Why should I put up with this?”

When they finally answer that they won’t, that is when the real problems begin.

Pete Blome is a retired military officer, Chair of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party, and At-Large Representative of the Libertarian Party of Florida