Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, July 03, 2005

July Fourth

While we’re celebrating the Fourth of July this year, we all need to remember the official name of the holiday — Independence Day. (Yes, I know you know that already.) If there was a truth-in-labeling act for holidays, we’d have to call it Bow Down And Worship Our Perfect Government Day. This would reflect the attitude of too many Americans.

Remember the original meaning of the word “Patriot”? The original Patriots overthrew their colonizers. They were rebels. This word has mutated beyond any possible recognition since the founding of our country. Today’s “Patriots” (at least that’s what they call themselves) insist on unquestioning blind allegiance to the government. What happened?!?

“There should be a revolution every twenty years.” Can you name the left-wing rabble-rouser who said that? Would you believe Thomas Jefferson. When Jefferson got elected president, he repealed the Alien and Sedition Act — passed by Congress two years earlier — which called for imprisonment of anyone publishing “false, scandalous or malicious writing.” The law had been passed in order to stifle dissent from the minority party — Republicans.

The popular American archetype has always been the cowboy riding off into the sunset. Americans have always been proud of their independence, self-reliance, rugged individualism. “Don’t tell me what to do.” “Don’t fence me in.”

At some point that changed to “hey, don’t question our leaders.” “Oh, OK, I’ll happily bend over and let you do what you want to me. No Sir, I’m not questioning your leadership Sir.” “Sure, you can go ahead and spy on me and monitor every move I make. I don’t have anything to hide.” What the F#%&# happened?

The War on Drugs has probably been the most disgraceful and most long-standing assault on our Constitution. This is how everyone slowly got used to having Big Brother towering over us. After several decades of draconian prison sentences for victimless crimes, Americans have gotten numbed to the feeling of an Omnipresent Orwellian government regulating everyone’s every move. This got the government’s foot in the door and laid the groundwork for the Patriot Act.

The manufactured hysteria over ***DRUGS!!*** is so prevalent that we’ve all just sat on our hands while millions of people have been incarcerated for crimes that affected nobody else. Millions of otherwise-sane people support this War on American Citizens just because, well, we just can’t allow this sort of thing, this, this permissiveness. Drugs are bad, M’Kay?

This isn’t a partisan issue. Some of the most gung ho drug warriors have been Democrats, and some conservatives have actually remembered their own slogans about individualism and limited government.

Debra Saunders, a conservative columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle (yes they do exist in San Francisco), periodically writes about specific individuals who have been caught in the middle of the War on Drugs. She gives the person’s name and a brief biography, and a description of the crime and sentence: thirty years in prison, maybe even life without parole, for a woman whose boyfriend is a drug dealer, or someone who was a passenger in a car where a drug deal was being made. Putting a human face on these tragedies really brings home the total insanity and perversion of the War on Drugs.

And just to show how sick and twisted some people are, Debra Saunders gets a certain amount of hate mail after each one of these columns. People tell her the War on Drugs doesn’t go far enough, these wicked drug abusers are being coddled and should get even longer sentences, etc.

Believe it or not, there’s actually an Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees equal protection under the law. And yet our prisons are filled with non-violent drug users who are serving far longer sentences than most armed robbers and rapists. Whose definition of “equal protection under the law” is this?

Now there’s a bill working its way through the House of Representatives which would provide up to ten years in prison for anyone who knows about illegal drug use and doesn’t report it to the police. This bill, introduced by Essen Scheisse Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, has been publicized by many bloggers but there hasn’t been a peep out of the mainstream media. Is this the America we want? “Independence Day”? Independent from what?

If you think the War on Drugs is one of the most stupid and mean-spirited projects in our government’s history, please check out the Drug Policy Alliance. They’re trying to inject a little sanity into our government’s drug policies.

After four or five decades of the War on Drugs, we were numbed and sedated and stupefied enough that we were ready to bend over and spread ’em for: the Patriot Act.

If you liked the illegal searches brought on by the War on Drugs, you’ll love the Patriot Act. Now you can have your library records searched. Your home or place of business can be searched without a warrant, and they don’t even have to inform you.

If your response to the above paragraph is “so what, what are you hiding?” or “they can search me; I don’t have anything to hide” — you don’t deserve to live in a democracy. You need a one-way ticket to the police state of your choice.

Certain provisions of the Patriot Act have been deleted in the House, but they’ll probably be reinstated by the Senate. Bush has threatened to veto the bill without those provisions, and his bitches jump when he says jump.

The generalization is that liberals are against the Patriot Act and conservatives are in favor of it. But there are a lot of exceptions, and there’s a growing bipartisan concern about an out-of-control federal government. Two rightwing former Congressmen, Bob Barr and Dick Armey, have strong Libertarian beliefs and have worked extensively with the ACLU. Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho, has been one of the biggest critics of the Patriot Act.

Downsize DC is a very worthwhile non-partisan organization that’s working to fight the growing intrusiveness of the federal government. They’re against Big Government — Period. You won’t agree with them on everything unless you’re a Libertarian. But at a time like this, people of all political viewpoints need to band together. We all need to stand guard against Big Brother. He’s watching.

Another bipartisan grassroots issue is the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on property rights. If a developer wants to raze your house and build a hotel or office building on “your” property, this constitutes “public use,” same as a railroad or highway. Pretty sick “reasoning,” huh? If you’re pissed off at this decision (isn’t everybody?), you might want to join the Castle Coalition to prevent your property from being seized by the government.

Americans of all political viewpoints need to be aware of the dangers of giving the federal government too much power. Remember, they work for us; it’s not the other way around. Hahahahahaha. Seriously. That’s how it was originally supposed to be. Our Founding Fathers would be spinning in their graves if they saw this lazy corrupt trust-funded group of self-serving country-clubbers trampling over the rest of us. And to top it all off, these underworked, overpaid, overfed blobs just voted themselves another pay raise. Tea party, anyone?

We need to remember Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We need to maintain a balance of liberty and security, and in the past few years we’ve tilted waaaay overboard on the side of security.

This year when we’re celebrating Independence Day, let’s all remember that cowboy riding off into the sunset; Clint Eastwood saying “feel lucky punk?” Think of the Patriots dumping tea into Boston Harbor. And for God’s sake break out of that hypnotized, stupefied mindset of “Great Leader has spoken. We must listen and obey.” It’s way too unbecoming, too perverted, for a country that was founded by rebels.


Blogger Snave said...

Be careful! There are folks trying to tell us that the Sedition Act should apply to people who express dissenting views.

Just kidding. Great post!!

July 3, 2005 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger denise said...

May I indulge in a liberal confession 'round these parts?

I went out with a bunch of male homos (i'm a femme homo) and at the end of the night, we were to burn a flag that we stole from one of the bear-daddy bars. turns out, the flag wasn't all that flammable, AND...i couldn't bring myself to burn it with the rest of the bunch.

does that make me an uber-patriot, or just a little paranoid?


July 4, 2005 at 2:17 AM  
Blogger Gun-Toting Liberal said...

Amen, bro! That was a very fine post you made there. I am finding that the right (as in, average, right-leaning Citizen) is getting more and more tired of seeing this erosion of our civil liberties under this Government.

It's quite creepy, and it's no time for partisan bickering (as you pointed out). We need to start firing some people in Washington, BIG-TIME. Blog ON, and happy Independence Day to y'all.

July 4, 2005 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger Brother Kenya said...

Nice job, Tom. I wanna know what ever happened to the rugged individualist militia men who made such a fuss during the Clinton years. If they meant what they said then, they ought to be royally pissed now!

July 4, 2005 at 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Snave: Kidding, hell. I think a lot of people would love to bring back the Sedition Act. It could happen.

Denise: That sounds like an interesting evening you had. Might as well just call yourself an uber-patriot; after all, it's the Fourth.

Gun-Toting Liberal: Thanks. I think a lot more people of all political viewpoints are getting worried that the government is just too powerful and too controlling. And we definitely need to fire some of those corrupt politicians.

Brother Kenya: I've often wondered about those militia groups too. Right after the Oklahoma City bombing, those groups were all over the news. They were all paranoid about the federal government; and they all wanted to declare their independence (and enforce it). Then after a few weeks they all vanished from the headlines. I don't know what happened to them, but we could sure use them now.

July 4, 2005 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Unadulterated Underdog said...


July 4, 2005 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger I.M. Dedd said...

Who would have thought we'd ever yearn for the return of the right wing milita?

Super post. Happy belated Fourth.

July 5, 2005 at 3:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

passed in order to stifle dissent from the minority party — Republicans.

Small clarification - the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed and repealed several decades before the birth of the current Republican Party. Jefferson's Republican Party has been commonly known as the Democratic-Republican Party since the days of Jackson, when it split into Democrats and Whigs. Both the current Democratic and Republican Parties are in some ways descended from Jefferson's Republicans -- the Democrats via the Jackson faction, and the Republicans largely from the Henry Clay/John Quincy Adams faction.

July 5, 2005 at 9:36 AM  
Anonymous Trevor said...

Good post, very worth reading, and close to my own heart.

See you when the revolution comes around again.

July 5, 2005 at 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

OK Democrat: Happy Birthday indeed.

I.M. Dedd: Happy Fourth. Yeah, where are all those militia groups when we need them? Not the militia part maybe, but just their fear and hatred of the federal government. I guess when Clinton left office they thought everything was just hunky-dory.

Anonymous: Thanks for the information.

Trevor: Thanks. See you at the revolution. And it won't be televised.

July 5, 2005 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger zencomix said...

Some good suggested reading on victimless crimes is Peter McWilliams book "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes In Our Free Country"

July 5, 2005 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I posted this on Bring it on but maybe your readers would like shed some incite on this:


Hey Eastwood never said "feel lucky punk" in a western. He did it twice in "Dirty Harry". Funny, in Dirty Harry he was a brutal cop that did justice his way and was above the law and really didn't give a rats ass about the rules. I find it interesting you used that quote in a post that technically is slamming the leadership and paralleled it to the Boston Tea Party. Aren't you sort of against the brutal enforcement thing? Eastwood is a Republican you know. Remember what he said about Michael Moore? You know, the part where he asked Michael Moore not to come to his door with a camera? Remember, he said he'd kill him. Using Clint deflates your entire post.

"A man's got to know his limitations"

July 5, 2005 at 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Zencomix: Thanks, I'll check that out.

Steve: I'm aware that "feel lucky punk?" was from Dirty Harry and not a western. I wanted to use Eastwood as an example of that American spirit of independence, individualism, being a maverick; and I couldn't think of any lines from any of his westerns. And I'm all in favor of law and order when real criminals are being dealt with. If Dirty Harry was going after potheads and topless dancers the movie(s) wouldn't have many fans.

I know Eastwood's a Republican (it's not a hanging offense) but there's also a lot of depth to him. He's a jazz fan, like I am; he produced an excellent film on the life of Charlie Parker.

I don't know anything about whatever happened between Eastwood and Michael Moore. I like the 2 Michael Moore films I've seen but I'm not his keeper. Whatever happens between Moore and Eastwood, happens; it's their problem.

July 5, 2005 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for the response.

On one hand you have Bush heading out guns blazing, ignoring the UN but yet you use Eastwood as a sympathy character for the left's plight. It's almost like you are saying Saddam or some gun wielding terrorist isn't a lying schmuck like you make Bush out to be. Just very interesting...

Secondly, depth doesn't have anything to do with it. Read my blog, I'd like to think I had some depth when I post about politics but also when I get away from politics.

July 5, 2005 at 10:52 PM  
Blogger Unadulterated Underdog said...

I thought a lot yesterday about what it means to be American. I was overjoyed at the sacrifice that has been given to protect our rights but I was ashamed at the abuses of power that have been taken from that sacrifice by a group of small men playing government. These small men, NeoCons for the most part, are like a disease. What we need is the antidote or the vaccine. A good old dose of reality should do it but how to shut their spin cycle down long enough to use it?

July 6, 2005 at 1:01 AM  
Blogger Nariel said...

Heh.. Eastwood's ability to play piano is because of my husband's Aunt! :0) She taught him everything he needed to know and was partly responsible i'm sure for his love of jazz music.
Good ol' Auntie W!! 91 years old this year and still ticklin the ivories!

July 6, 2005 at 6:38 AM  
Blogger halcyon67 said...

Snave, with this administration, that is true, just look at the Patriot Act.

Great article. I read the first two paragraphs, i was like "Yeaahh." LOL. :)

July 6, 2005 at 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

OK Democrat: You're right. This group of small men is like a welfare chiseler. They've taken the bounty created by all the sacrifices that built this country,and they've grabbed it all for themselves and they're using it as a ramrod to make themselves even more powerful. We need them out of the White House and out of Congress. Republican or Democrat, I don't care who replaces them. These wingnuts aren't Republicans any more than a band of Maoist guerrillas would be Democrats.

Nariel: That's neat. Thanks for telling me that.

Samantha: Yeah, the Patriot Act is pretty much the 21st century version of the Alien and Sedition Act.

July 6, 2005 at 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the last note on Clint Eastwood. I don't think being a jazz fan (a fan of black music) cancels out being right wing.

Look at Lee Atwater. He was a blues guitarist, played blues guitar with many black blues players - even had them play at the inagural ball.

But he had no problem damaging them and all black people by creating the Willie Horton commercial to win the race for Bush Senior


July 6, 2005 at 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Erik: I'm sure it's possible to be rightwing and into jazz or blues. I knew Lee Atwater played blues guitar; I didn't know he was actually good at it and played with black musicians. I always thought it was just a publicity stunt, part of their "big tent" strategy. I don't think Eastwood is rightwing (I don't really know much about his political views); I'd guess middle America but tilting to the right. His movies certainly reached a mass audience; that wasn't exclusively conservatives cheering for Dirty Harry.

July 7, 2005 at 9:59 AM  

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