Saturday, June 21, 2008

Papers, please...

“Papers, please….”

Sad to say, America has now devolved into a quasi-twilight zone where travel will soon be controlled by TSA Gestapo agents. It seems that now you will no longer be allowed to fly on internal flights within the continental United States without surrendering a picture ID. Up until today, those who objected to having to show a picture ID to travel within their own country were still allowed to fly after going through a secondary security check and quick questioning by a TSA officer. After today though, it’s no ID/no fly.

Look, I understand the need to keep air travel safe & secure and to catch terrorists and ne’r-do-wells by any & all means, but we’re becoming a police state because of it. You are now no longer free to travel within your own country on an airplane without surrendering your papers, something that used to only happen on international flights. Before long, there will be armed agents of the Feral Gummint™ at bus stations and train stations, asking for your identification. Eventually they’ll be randomly checking you at highway waypoints. And then we’ll be having to get travel permission to cross state borders on vacation, and wandering jackbooted thugs will accost you on your walk to the store, demanding your papers….don’t laugh; in 1930 people never thought it could happen in Germany, either.

You used to not need a passport to hop across the border to Mexico or Canada. Not anymore. Being one of those without a passport, because when I did all my overseas travel in my youth, I was under military orders, I am saddened to think that if I happen to find myself in Maine, my former home state, and decided on a whim to hop over to New Brunswick, I’d be screwed. I know a lot of guys who would drive to Tijuana from their military bases just to get authentic Mexican food and a wild night on the town. Without investing in a passport, that plan is crapped out too. It’s not that you can’t enter Canada or Mexico without a passport; the US just won’t let you come home.

Again, I’m all in favor of immigration control and a tight, well-defended border. I have no problem with a border fence to keep illegals out. Hell, sow a minefield if you have to. But now I gotta drop a hundred bucks & wait a few weeks for a passport (unless I drop another 60 clams to expedite it….money talks when you need a bureaucrat to move faster than the speed of snail) if I want to drive across the border for a few hours. The last time I border-hopped was in 1998, I believe, and that was a simple 6 hour drive to Montreal for a concert, and all I really had to do was show my license and state my reasons, both coming and going. Sure, that was still 3 years before 9/11 and it was a kinder, gentler time.

I guess what I want to say is just be watchful about how many freedoms we allow to be taken from us in the name of so-called security. Before long, if unchecked, we’ll be surrendering papers to secret police on every corner, since they can already tap your phone and read your email. Don’t try to tell me they can’t; there’s a huge office complex next to Fort Meade where the NSA (No Such Agency™) has filters attached to the junctions of the info superhighway and wee bugs that pick up when key words are uttered into cells or sent via emails. Your cell has a GPS transmitter in it to track you down, under the guise of finding you if you call 911 and can’t speak. The Patriot Act allows the Gummint™ to do pretty much whatever it wants all in the name of combating terrorism, and if you resist then you’re obviously not a patriot. You’re an anti-American scumbag aiding the forces of Evil. Just be a docile sheep and believe them when they say they’re protecting you.

Ten years from now, I hope I’m wrong. I’m really not some sort of conspiracy-theorist worried about black helicopters and wearing a tinfoil hat to keep “them” from finding me. I’m just a realist who is very concerned about an erosion of the freedoms I swore an oath to protect when I enlisted in 1987.

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