Brian’s Column: Reflections on Memorial Day 2008

Did our fathers die on the beaches of Normandy so we would cave to mandatory seat-belt laws, smoking bans, drug testing, and 0.08 BAL? (etc.)
by Brian Wright

Statue of Liberty“Son, I’m never going to wear a seat belt; it’s my right as an American to drive as and how I choose—[Dad was a highly skilled driver who would probably, eventually have come to wear seatbelts voluntarily].  It violates everything I believe in… and fought for.  I won’t do it, I won’t pay the fine, and they can put me in jail ’til the cows come home.”

For the previous 30 years Memorial Day has always had a somber quality for me:  My father, Truman, a WWII veteran, died on May 28, 1978, Memorial Day Weekend—I was 28 years old at the time.  [Then, to make it even sadder, last year we lost my brother, Forrest, also a veteran, possibly to the same heart condition that killed my dad.]  

Checking Wikipedia, the origin of Memorial Day was to commemorate Union soldiers who had died in the Civil War, then later expanded to remember all those who have given their lives for their country in military service. And though technically neither my dad nor my brother perished while fighting for their country, I feel the holiday belongs to them and, more important, to any American who stands for, argues for, fights for, and is willing to die for American liberty—the principles embodied in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

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You know sometimes I hear we should fly the American flag—the current 50-star version that drapes the hidden coffins returning from wars for profit of Halliburton, Lockheed-Martin, and Chevron—as a gesture of respect for all those who have given their lives for our country.  I used to feel that way.

But especially following the Oligarchy’s takeover of the US government, the current flag to me has come to mean something entirely different from the one carrying 13 stars in Liberty’s Day of Dawning.  It has now become a symbol of aggression and conquest by criminals who should have been sent to Sing Sing years ago… and also a symbol of shame that the American public has lacked the courage to so uphold the rule of law and restore the republic.

On Saturday, I’m picking up a breakfast carryout from Mr. Pita, when I notice two cars having been pulled over by Farmington Hills’ [Michigan] finest—I’m a Free Stater, but family and business affairs put me in SE Michigan frequently—within a time span of perhaps a couple of minutes.

I mention this to the man at the counter, and he says the cops are conducting a seat-belt sting operation on 10-Mile Road; they do it quite frequently, but especially on holidays.  I’m thinking, yeah, I’ve seen the federally funded TV ads, parent cops spanking us children citizens with $100 tickets to make us better and safer… and more obedient.

“America wasn’t founded so we could all be better.  America was founded so we could be what we damned well pleased.”—PJ O’Rourke

And I think back to my father, who in the 1970s when the government was threatening mandatory seat belt laws, told me, “Son, I’m never going to wear a seat belt; it’s my right as an American to drive as and how I choose—[Dad was a highly skilled driver who would probably, eventually have come to wear seatbelts voluntarily].  Such a law violates every principle I believe in… and fought for.  I won’t do it, I won’t pay the fine, and they can put me in jail ’til the cows come home.” Pop was a man of principle, at least on this issue (he hadn’t yet come to see that laws against other consensual activities, such as drug use, could be opposed for the same reasons and with the same conviction).

So there you are: the spectacle of public servants who are supposed to be protecting us from violence and theft taking the easy way out and stealing from us instead… or at least from the uninformed and/or presumably imprudent.  Unlike real criminals, we’re unarmed (at least in most states) and won’t defend ourselves against such legalized robbery.

Huge irony, isn’t it?  The average Michigan citizen is out of work, losing his home, paying the same prerecession state and local taxes; the federales are spending his children’s Social Security on overseas wars and occupations, and then some fat local yokel with a badge, a club, and a smirk of self-righteousness rips him off on the way to MacDonald’s… for the sin of disobedience.[1]

It’s enough to drive a man to drink.  But don’t do that!  One hundredth of a percent over the 0.08 blood alcohol limit—roughly three 5% beers for a 150# man or two glasses of wine for a 120# woman in an hour and a half —and they throw the book at you.  Believe me, being an occasional cash cow for the local seat-belt Nazis will cause you only one one-hundredth of the pain and suffering that will rain down upon your sorry rear end for violating any of the state’s arbitrary recreational drug restrictions—the modern-day equivalent of laws against Sin.

If you take a machete to a Boy Scout you’ll do some sunny-day, walkaround time and be paroled in a couple of years, but smoke a joint within 500 yards of a vacant playground—or commit any of a million other consensual yet religiously condemned faux pas—you become a sad ward, a mistreated-bastard foster child, of the system forever.

So what’s an average working man to do?  Everywhere you turn the government is clamping down the vice.  The list of things you can’t do, as well as the list of things you must do, increments daily.  Today seatbelts, tomorrow cigarettes—”Hello, Ma’am, we’re from the local air-quality survey team and we’re here to inspect your home for smokers and other degenerates; we assure you they’ll be sent to the best of our remediation camps.”  Actually, today cigarettes (in bars and restaurants). Okay, tomorrow, Real ID.  Nope, that’s an (almost) today, too—rebellion is afoot. Everything is in place now, thanks to the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act, etc. for wholesale arrest and internment of Americans… at least legally.[1]

The Truman Wright Plan: Just Say No!

Memorial Day, 2008:  It’s pretty clear—at least to the healthy minority of us government-school kids who took the indoctrination with a grain of salt and refused behavioral medications—that contemporary America is messed up beyond anything our liberty-bequeathing ancestors could have imagined.  From the perspective of freedom, we are absolutely FUBARed.

Unfortunately, a large part of my Coffee Coaster analyses and commentaries are taken up with just this situation: our dire political straits and ideas for course correction.  [I say unfortunately because I’d rather write a lot more human interest, which is truly entertaining and humorous, and I can’t because of this 900-pound gorilla of Kleptocon domination sitting right over there facing me on the sofa.]

The deal is that my small efforts at attempting to slay the gorilla, or at least getting him out of the living room, are only writing.  Same with so many of my colleagues in the libertarian resistance.  Which isn’t to denigrate the importance of language and conceptual clarity in conducting our political lives, only that writing isn’t the same as acting. Rather it is acting, but acting from a distance.  What we need is some here and now street action, some old-fashioned American civil unrest, some Truman Wright “come and get me you worthless government scum, because I’m not taking your girly-man orders anymore.”

A few months ago, I read of a federal act that had been passed to basically cripple the nutritional supplements business.  I thought, “why not just say no?”  Don’t comply, tell the FDA goons to stuff it, we’re not going to obey your rules, we’re putting our funds in Swiss accounts and sending our families to safe havens; we’re making a stand, come and get us you slimy, useless pukes.

Back in November 2007, the feds from the Treasury tried to make an example of Bernard von Nothaus of the Liberty Dollar, with an armed FBI raid that expropriated his entire operation.  His response?  He went back to work and is making a new series of precious-metal coins. Buy some.

The Hemp Industries Association, which wants to see agricultural hemp become a trillion-dollar a year business saving American farms and workers, sends out a bumper sticker: “Let American Farmers Grow Hemp.” Sure I like the bumper sticker, but aren’t we getting tired of asking for permission to do so many things that the government has absolutely no right to stop us from doing?  In the 20 states or so where hemp bills have passed the legislatures (while they wait for the lunatic DEA to remove hemp from Schedule 1 narcotics), what I’d like to see is a little Truman Wright initiative: a farmer’s libertarian resistance. “We’re planting hemp. Try to stop us.” Now, that’s a bumper sticker I’ll buy.

Then with, say, 100 citizen-Gandhian farmers from each of 20 states starting their plots and declaring their absolute rights as free men, what’s the government going to do?   Two thousand men, presumably armed and defending their properties and their Constitution, spread out all over the country.  That’s a movement real people everywhere will get behind.

No doubt as soon as the first year’s crop comes in, regardless of the severity of government response, most of the remaining family farms (~1.5 million) will be in the hemp business. How is the state going to stop that?  It’s not.  Do yourself a favor and rent the movie Gandhi this weekend, then read Henry David Thoreau’s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.  And of course watch the HBO miniseries John Adams (and read the book).

Well, I can spend all day thinking up areas where it’s time for citizens to take the Howard Beale’s “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore” approach to better government.  Leave your seatbelt off, ride your motorcycle without a helmet, refuse to pay unconstitutional taxes, assert your sovereignty over government officials, smoke weed, grow hemp, drink beer, refuse to show your identification… manicure nails without a license, whatever—do all these things and others advisedly, safely, and publicly.  If arrested and arraigned, insist on going to trial and informing the jury of its rights (and, of course, yours).  All it takes is one Gandhian moment, one instance of publicized success of the libertarian resistance, to bring the entire rotted empire to its knees.

On an immediate national scale, the Ron Paul phenomenon is not spent, not by a long shot, the Libertarians this weekend have nominated a would-be Ron Paul surrogate, former Georgia Republican Representative Bob Barr for President. This is good news in a couple of ways: he’ll probably take votes from the senile, explicitly Neocon warmonger John McCain—though Obama is probably the devil we don’t know (“ye may smile and smile—and brightly yap and yap—yet be a villain”). More important, let us hope the freedom people in politics draw attention to the only general principle of behavior that will get our country out of its mess: Constitutional liberty.

It is a movement that will not be denied.

What a pleasant thought on this day of remembrance: a tribute to the lives of all our American ancestors who understood and embraced the concept of individual freedom under the Constitution. Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Bro.

I love you and I remember. So do all these other fine friends of mine.

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[1] It occurs to me more and more that the lower-level neighborhood Kleptocon enforcers—and government officials generally who must answer more directly to the citizens—must face serious internal conflict about routinely being ordered to aggress upon their fellow citizens.  These are actual human beings, with families in the community; the guilt and shame have to be considerable.  Recall I addressed the need to turn the law enforcement community toward liberty in a couple of recent columns, reference [a] and [b].  C’mon guys, just say no!  The oppressors will lose their will, and you’ll be able to look yourselves in the mirror, again.

[2] Even though the US government seems to lack the resources—too many tied up in the outposts of empire—to carry out a totalitarian prison regime, it’s gaining valuable experience with Blackwater and other corporate-mercenary forces.  Hey, if they can torture and massacre in Iraq, managing detention facilities for “noncompliant” Americans will be like summer camp.

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