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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Libertarian In Paris, Part II: Can An Over-Zealous Yet Inept Department of Homeland Security Treat People Like Dogs AND Keep America Safe At the Same Time?

The news out of Boston yesterday reminds us once again that we live in a dangerous world. We can fret over it and cry out for someone to give us some semblance of sanity, but we can never be made 100% safe in this world as it exists–and we have no control over the set-up of its existence. The government attempts to give us the illusion of safety through the pretense of being proactive in the wake of disaster but is there a thinking human among us who actually thinks that any measure of gun control currently being debated would have saved those children in Sandy Hook last December? The answer is no, yet we continue to allow our collective emotions to control our responses as we clamor for some measure of relief from the horror.

President Obama refuses to call the bombing in Boston yesterday “terrorism.” Who cares what Barack Obama says about what happened yesterday? He claims he will seek out and arrest those who are responsible for the bombing and we applaud him for his leadership. Apparently, I’m supposed to be enamored of a government official who makes a meek statement about making responsible people responsible for their actions. I think not.

This brings me to my morning’s slight dilemma: Publish Part II of my criticism of the Department of Homeland Security as scheduled or postpone it? As I watch the Corporate Media flood America with shock, horror and outrage in between commercial breaks I get a further sense that America is running away from reality once again. We are sitting and watching endless video loops of the horrific scene as our national talking heads scour the streets of Boston looking for the next gut-wrenching eyewitness account. Meanwhile, we are spoon-fed soundbites of outrage meant to mollify our anger from our Federal officials who are afraid to admit that what they are actually doing to stop terrorism is impotent at best, dangerous and reckless at worst.

The Internet is ablaze with accusations from each stupid side of the political spectrum. The Left desperately hopes it was a middle-aged white guy mad about paying his taxes, meanwhile the Right hopes it was an Islamofascist terrorist. Right now all we know is that innocent civilians were once again targeted by a madman–once again, history repeats itself.

The government pretends it is working hard to keep us safe, while it refuses to admit that a measly human-controlled government is powerless to stop evil. Understanding that, I’m going to live my life in the way I intend to live my life. I'm shocked and grieved by the horrors out of Boston, but every day I am shocked and grieved by evil. What happened yesterday is just a millennial-long manifestation of that insidious threat to us all–freewill. I will choose to use my freewill to try to rise above the muck of humanity and not be controlled by it.

* * *

To recap: After arriving on our flight from London Sunday night, I was flagged by DHS agents at passport control and shepherded to an immigration holding cell, presumably because my re-entry back into my own country was deemed a threat to the officer who checked my paperwork. After forty-five minutes of watching DHS agents humiliate and ridicule three other non-native-Americans I was called to stand before a DHS agent who sat on the high side of a six-foot-high desk designed solely to intimidate the human beings called to stand in front of it.

I have chosen to call my attending agent Officer Punk, because quite frankly, young men who swagger their authority whether at a traffic stop or an immigration desk, simply because they have it without earning it through a life well lived, are punks.

* * *

Officer Punk: Who are you traveling with?
Me: My wife. I answered that already.
Officer Punk: Spell her name.
Me: [I spelled it]. Why?
Officer Punk: Who is [name of my first wife]?
Me: My first wife. We’ve been divorced since 1987. I answered that already. What’s that have to do with anything?
Officer Punk: Okay, you can go.
'Okay I can go?' Really?
Me: Eh, tell me why I’m here.

Officer Punk stamped my passport and gave me a look that told me I was now endangering my ability to leave if I didn’t just go quietly. Too frigging bad, Officer Punk. It was as if he had just come to the realization that this was all just an incredible waste of his time. I didn’t bother to mention the inconvenience on my end.

My first wife and I went through a nasty divorce that dragged on for the better part of twenty years. In fact, every time I’ve shared stories of nasty divorces with those likewise afflicted, I win. I have never met anyone able to even approach outdoing my stories of how nasty and depraved a divorce can be if you are unlucky enough to divorce the wrong person. That being said, as much as I would like to share those stories with you because it would make you all feel sorry for me compelling you to send me money and presents, I have to respect the privacy of a person who deserves neither (privacy or respect). Wow, that felt good!

In any event, from late-1986 until mid-1993 and then again from 2001 to 2004, my ex launched salvo after salvo of legal invective at each me. I did return fire even though I would have preferred to just go on about my business, plus I was completely out of money. At our attorneys’ suggestion, we filed a Mutual Order of Protection (MOP) against each other in August 1988. My attorney advised me to file it in order to protect my rights to see my kids, and her attorney advised it get filed in order to make my rights to see my kids harder to enforce. There were never any court or police issues from either side regarding the MOP, but in all fairness, that wasn’t because we didn’t try: Seriously, we hated each other. She still hates me. It’s nice to be important.

So there you have it. I was flagged for re-entry into my own country by an over-zealous DHS “official” who saw 25 year-old paperwork and decided to act to protect America’s interests. I have left the United States and re-entered a total of 27 times since 1988, with the bulk of those re-entries coming in the five years immediately following the issuance of the MOP. I haven’t even thought about it in 24 years, and certainly haven’t been detained because of it ever. For some reason, Sunday night it became an issue to the federal government.

It’s kind of important to note that this was not a warrant or a legal order to act in any prescribed way (such as distance or contact). It was part of a divorce proceeding.

But more than that, what this was, was a complete and utter refusal of my rights as a US citizen in the false name of safety. What possible reason could a DHS agent have to detain me because of a 25 year-old legal ploy to make a divorcing couple hate each other even more? Here are some other questions I had for the DHS:

  • Did the DHS officer (Officer The Situation) sense that my current wife was in some sort of danger?
  • Did Officer The Situation sense that upon my return from London I was going to cause a ruckus when there is not any record in the 35 years I have been an adult that I was prone to causing one?
  • Did the DHS have a quota of Americans it needed to harass so as to seem fair and balanced to the non-citizens it obviously takes great joy in harassing?
  • What the hell exactly was the point?

Me: Excuse my, what the hell exactly was the point of this?
Officer Punk: {With a great deal of annoyance plastered across his face} There is a Mutual Order of Protection between you and [name of she who shall not be named].
Me: From twenty-five years ago…
Officer Punk: It stays on the record forever.
Me: So what? It’s not a warrant. How can you take my passport?
Officer Punk: We’re just checking. You can go now.

I decided it was going to be a waste of time to press the matter, not from any sort of fear of authority, but I had already been forced to waste almost an hour of my life after a seven hour flight and I wanted to go home.

* * *

I decided to write about this because it bolsters what I endlessly say: The government is not interested in solving problems. The government is interested in perpetuating them so as to congeal its own power.

Where was the power to make us safe the government has conditioned us into thinking it has? It wasn't present because it doesn't exist. It’s a lie.

At Newark ‘Liberty’ Airport on a Sunday night in April, an old woman, a crippled old man, a middle-aged woman and me were detained and treated like criminals. There may have been good reasons to detain the other three non-citizens, but even the DHS itself was unable to come up with a valid reason for detaining me.

At the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon, at least three people were killed and dozens, if not hundreds, injured, some of them gruesomely and no one has a clue (yet) who the perpetrator is. Police were standing ten feet from the first bomb, yet it still went off.

Do we need border control? Yes. Are we serious about border control? Not from what I’ve observed. Is America any safer dragging up 25 year-old divorce proceedings of a person who has not had any interaction with the police (other than four or five speeding tickets) in his adult life?

You tell me America, you’re the ones who insist the Republicans and Democrats, and the government they force on us, are taking care of us.

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