Thursday, June 07, 2007

Destroying freedom one piece at a time.

The media today has two stories that illustrate the assault on American freedom conducted by the corrupt, incompetent, and morally questionable Bush government.

The first story concerns a list of 39 people which various human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, contend are being held in secret custody by the Bush administration. These are individeuals who have not had charges filed against them, who are not allowed their day in court, do not have access to an attorney. In fact no one in the government will even acknowledge they are in custody. They officially have been flushed down the memory hole.

Secret prisoners being held in secret prisons is not an institution of a free society. The terrorists who are doing the most damage to the United States are in government.

The second story involves the systematic stripping of Americans of their freedom to travel without state permission. Certain neighboring, friendly nations have routinely been open to Americans for visits without the need of federal travel documents known as passports. Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean nations have always welcomed Americans provided they have some form of ID. They still do.

It is the United States government that is restricting the ability of US citizens to travel without being screened by the federal government first. This is entirely a roadblock imposed by DC and not by foreign governments.

One of the hallmarks of the Bush administration has been utter incompetency at any task it has set out to do. They knew for months that these new restrictions on travel freedom were being imposed. And yet they were unprepared for it.

Thousands and thousands of citizens who had travel plans are finding the US government is screwing them up. Thanks George.

Passport appliations that were filed months ago are still being processed and people are missing their planes. The State Department blames the long delays on “unprecendented demand.” Bullshit. These people are not flocking for the documents because they are a new fad. They are there because George Bush is forcing them to be there. No one is clamouring for federal approval for their vacation plans.

Applicants are being told that a wait of four weeks can now be assumed to be 10 weeks instead. The “expedited service” which costs considerably more than normal passport service is no longer expedited and can take three weeks, almost the time it normally took for non-expedited service. Each passport issued costs travelers about $100 minimum. Then there is the cost of $60 additional for “expedited” service. No one counts the hours and hours and hours that thousands of people spend in line every day as a cost except economists. And Bush stopped listening to economists long ago. Actually he stopped listening to anyone long ago except that little voice he hears which he thinks is God.

According to the New York Times the feds are gleefully reporting that they expect to issue 14 million travel documents this year, compared to 7 million normally issued. If no one took the expdited service that would amont to revenue of $700 million. These really are mobility taxes. If you could travel to Canada without paying the US governtment last year but have to pay them $97 to do so this year that is a tax increase.

The no new taxes claims of the Bushians is a lie. This one change in regulations imposes a minimum of $700 million in new taxes. That is without anyone paying the expedited fees. And that doesn’t count the billions of dollars worth of lost time spent by citizens in endless lines begging uncaring bureaucrats for their documents.

The Times reports:
Much of the spike in applications is attributed to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which went into effect Jan. 23 and requires passports, merchant mariner documents or frequent-traveler Nexus cards for air travelers returning from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Next January, the requirement is likely to be extended to ship, rail and road travelers.

But somehow, the government seemed caught by surprise when crowds began besieging passport offices this spring.

Even now, callers to the automated national passport line (1-877-487-2778) are told that because of “unprecedented” volume, appointments can be given only to travelers departing in the next two weeks.

Callers who are leaving within two weeks are then transferred to a 24-hour automated line that often says they cannot be connected because of the volume of calls and urges them to call back during nighttime hours. The line then goes dead.

By the way, if anyone thinks the Democrats intended to undo these policies, well, all I can say is I own a bridge in Brooklyn which I’m willing to sell at a reasonable price. My advice is get those damn papers and go. I think Americans should travel. I’m just not sure you ought to go back.

It also shouldn't be forgotten how the government is using the anti-immigration lies of the bigoted Right to undermine the freedoms of Americans. In the name of "securing borders" the newest immigration legislation includes requirements for "employment verification." The Know-Nothings have been demanding just this sort of restriction on employment. It means that every time you seek a job you must prove to them that you have the right to do so with a form of ID that complies with the REAL ID system the Bushites are tring to put into place. Every time some special interest group whips up hysteria about something the Feds use it to strip Americans of more freedom. And this hysteria need not be just on the Left but can be on the Right as well. That the anti-immigration crowd, many of whom are just open racists, scream about immigrants is used to track the employment of every American.

At this time there are three campaigns that are being used to erode liberty. One is the "war on terror", the second is the campaign to "stop global warming" and the third is hysteria over "illegal immigration." And the one that is the least troublesome, though not welcome, is the hysteria on warming. I find it odd that people who hate Al Gore because of his warming hysteria are rushing out to support a candidate who beats the immigration drum which leads to legislation like this one. I've even seen fake libertarians who support these requirements of recording federal identification for every employee. It is very alarming for liberty when even some "libertarians" embrace such measures.

How do you destroy freedom? The same way you eat an elephant -- one piece at a time.

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