Memorial Day 2015

For many Americans, this day has become nothing more than a holiday, and, as odd as that may sound, that is to be expected.  Despite almost a decade and a half of continuous warfare overseas, our armed forces have so effectively removed our land from the grim reality of the death and destruction of war, that a day meant to commemorate our military dead seems to have no more meaning to the average citizen than the unofficial start of summer, or as the day of the great mattress sale.  Perhaps, that is just the normal progression of things.

Nevertheless, it is more than good and proper that those who have given their lives in the service of their country be remembered by somebody, anybody, if for no other reason than all of us are diminished if we don’t.  The maintenance of personal values requires periodically remembering that there are bigger things in the world than yourself.  We have all been touched in some way by the sacrifices of those who, as Lincoln said, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”  To take such devotion for granted is simply wrong.

On the surface, our leaders in government seem to know this.  “They fought for your freedom” is one of the most common political phrases around.  Memorial Day is an opportunity for politicos around the country, from the President all the way down to the local mayor, to gather at the flagpole and show that they keep faith with the fallen.

But it takes more than a yearly ceremony to keep faith.  It takes an acknowledgment that what they died for still matters.  It takes a demonstration in everyday living that what they valued is still alive.  For the health of the Republic, our elected leaders need to put certain ideals into practice.

What do we see, then, in our great country?

The repeated invasions of countries or initiating acts of war for the most specious of reasons, sometimes at the exclusive behest of the President.

The purposeful killing of American citizens overseas by our government without public evidence, warrant or a trial.

Admissions by our government that its officials authorized torture, and a Vice President who endorsed them.

Intelligence agencies repeatedly spying on millions of citizens without a warrant, and then lying to Congress and the people about it, without consequence.

Courts that find the spying illegal, but then allow the guilty agencies to continue what they are doing.

By law, warrantless, reporting of everyday financial transactions of ordinary citizens to the government.

Civil confiscation laws that take people’s property without evidence or trial, and make the victim prove their innocence instead of the government proving their guilt.

Structuring laws that make any person a criminal for spending their money in any way they see fit.

DHS procedures that quietly but firmly require an Individual to be cleared by the government each and every time they travel or that person will not be allowed to use commercial transportation, no matter what their reason, again, without evidence, warrant or a trial.

Inspections by the TSA that violate the Fourth Amendment and qualify as sexual battery in Florida.

Trillions of dollars in new debt to pay for a security bureaucracy, and taxation that reduces everyone to mere renters from the government.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, no senior government official ever goes to jail for any crime.

Is this what Valley Forge, Omaha Beach, and Desert Storm were about?  Did those who fought for our freedom for the last 240 years fight for this?

Ceremonies can be touching.  They have a place in the process of remembrance.  However, it would be a far more fitting tribute to those who fell if our leaders upheld the rule of law instead of merely saluted a flagpole.  Memorial Day should be more than just propagating the illusion that liberty continues as it always has in the USA.   It is quite clear that liberty is under attack.

After all, what soldier sacrificed his life for massive debt, fewer liberties and endless war?

Pete Blome is a retired military officer and Chairman of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party.


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




The New Ms Jean Weber

On Saturday, June 18th 2011, Ms. Jean Weber took her ailing mother to the airport so she could go see relations in Michigan.

Her mother was elderly, frail, and battling illness. She had to wear special undergarments because her age and infirmities made self control difficult. Travel is hard for her. She could not walk far enough to make it through an airport scanner. But she was determined to see her family in Michigan. With the help of her daughter, Jean, she would get through it somehow. For her part, Jean felt a daughter’s love and wanted her mom to get on her way in as little discomfort as possible.

Jean knew about airport security, but she didn’t worry. After all, this is Okaloosa; this is home.

Out of earshot, she watched as her mother was frisked by the TSA. She saw how rudely and hard the strangers placed their hands. It worried Jean because she knew how easily her mother bruised.

But something else was wrong. Her mother was shuffled out of view to a separate room. After some time a TSA agent came out and unceremoniously gave Jean an edict. In order to get on a plane her mother would have to remove her diaper for inspection.

Jean couldn’t believe it.

Jean’s Mom wasn’t offended. She was tired. She came from that generation that saw true hard times, and accepted official imposition in stride; maybe too much in stride. Seeing her family in Michigan is what mattered.

But to Jean, a heartfelt departure had turned kafkaesque. She had to physically assist her mom. Just getting to a restroom was a chore, and once there she had to help mom intimately disrobe for the TSA bureaucrats.

The inspectors told her she had a choice, but Jean knew she really didn’t. If you don’t comply, you don’t fly. There is no crime, judge or jury involved. There is no discussion of compensation for monetary loss or the fourth amendment. The TSA even claims, in court, the privilege to strip search anyone.

The emotion was too much. Jean came out of the bathroom crying. In the ridiculous shuffle of bags, tickets, wheelchair, jackets and removed undergarments, she misplaced the pass that allowed her to accompany her mom in the TSA “secure areas.” Ever helpful, a TSA agent told Jean she displayed “unusual behavior” by crying and not having a pass. Jean was subjected to an even more rigorous physical inspection as a result.

By now this process had taken a long time, and the aircraft departure was very near. Jean’s mom was still far from the gangway, and there was little time. Jean was still being questioned and frisked, so she asked that her mom be escorted to the plane.

As she watched her mom depart flanked by the TSA, she thought to herself that one of the last memories she would hold between them was this demeaning inspection.

Jean says her friends would laugh at the thought that she was complaining against the TSA. She is a private person, and minds her own business. She doesn’t get involved in “political” topics.

This event changed her. She has a new view of what it means to be an American.

Ms Jean said when she was a kid she used to watch the show “Davy Crockett.” She remembered a quote from that show, “Make sure you are right. Then go ahead.”

Ms Jean has filed a local complaint with the TSA over this incident, and she plans to file a national one as well.

Personally, I am not reassured by a complaint form.

Our government has forced us to argue for things that should be self evident, such as the fourth amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and the rule of law for everyone including government officials. To me, it is as if leaders in government have lost their senses.

The Sheriff of Okaloosa County should enforce the laws of Florida, especially those relating to battery and lewd and lascivious molestation, and arrest the TSA agents responsible for the acts perpetrated against Ms Jean’s mom.

Only then will this madness end.

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.