Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Earth is the State's, and the Fullness Thereof

Armed revenue farmers harvest a crop at a DUI checkpoint.

When George W. Bush signed the death warrant for the habeas corpus guarantee last October, he was consummating a process that has been underway for decades in our law enforcement and "justice" system.

Bush's destruction of habeas corpus, which took place when he signed the Military Commissions Act (better described as the Death of the Republic Act of 2006), is kindred to other developments in which the Regime – both the central government and its state and local franchises – acts on the assumption that the earth is the State's, and the fullness thereof, and that its domain includes ownership rights over all of us.

The most important function of the habeas corpus guarantee -- the “Great Writ” that serves as the foundation of the Anglo-Saxon concept of liberty under law – is to protect individuals from summary imprisonment at the ruler's whim: Within a specified time of arrest, the State must “present the body” of the suspect and justify the detention to a judge.

This is an indispensable guarantee of individual liberty. It is also, in a very real sense, the most important guarantee of property rights, since control over one's person is the fundamental property rights issue. Classic libertarians extol the concept of self-ownership; a Christian libertarian perspective would define the question as one of self-stewardship under God's sovereignty.

In either case, the State does not own the individual. That, in my view, is the whole point of habeas corpus.

Totalitarian regimes are built on the assumption that the State owns its subjects.

A corollary of that premise is that anything can be taken from the subjects as the State's supervisors see fit.

Here's a very suitable recent illustration of those assumptions in action.

The Santa Fe City Council has enacted “a tough, anti-drunken-driving ordinance that would empower city police to seize vehicles driven by repeat offenders and sell them at auction," reports the Free New Mexican. “The ordinance would allow police to sell the vehicles of those arrested on a third or subsequent drunken-driving charge if they already have two convictions. Likewise, those caught drinking and driving on a license suspended for driving while intoxicated might have their vehicle forfeited and sold immediately.”

That is to say, the property would be forfeited and sold upon arrest, not following conviction. This ordinance appears to be patterned after one imposed on New York City in 1999.

City Councilor Patti Bushee describes this confiscation-without-conviction measure as “the ultimate hammer. It's not like they had an innocent slip-up. These are people who're just not doing the right thing and have a real problem.”

That description comes from a political official, so it's safe to assume that it's a lie. It is certainly a misrepresentation, since as the Free New Mexican points out, the ordinance wouldn't require for authorities to wait “for offenders to accumulate multiple convictions to enact municipal sanctions. Upon a first arrest -- before conviction in a court of law -- suspected drunken drivers could have their vehicles immobilized for up to six months unless they agree to install an ignition-interlock device.

As with every measure enacted by the criminal syndicate called government, an engine of corrupt enrichment lurks behind the facade of humanitarian necessity:

“The Police Department is requesting $119,250 to start the program and believes it can realize revenues of up to $150,000 during the first six months of operations. Funds from the program, above its operating costs, would go into DWI education and drunken-driving prevention efforts, said City Councilor Karen Heldmeyer, chairwoman of the city Finance Committee.”

Given that the revenue estimates are already in, and parasite constituencies are already lining up at the trough, assurances from City Attorney Frank Katz that “suspects would be given the right to an administrative hearing promptly following their arrest to contest whether the police had a probable cause to arrest them and take their vehicle” are just so much verbal flatulence. Odds are pretty good that the “administrative hearing” would be conducted by a municipal functionary, rather than a judge.

Katz insists that conviction isn't necessary to justify seizure and sale of an automobile from a suspected recidivist drunk driver; mere “probable cause” is sufficient: "It's enough to throw them in jail; it's enough to take their car."

Here's where Katz's cute analogy breaks down:

A criminal suspect can indeed be thrown in jail based on probable cause – but habeas corpus requires that the State justify that incarceration, and before the sentence is carried out, the State has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Under Santa Fe's seize-it-and-sell-it ordinance, an innocent driver's automobile can be stolen and pawned by the police, and the proceeds spent by the city on – oh, I don't know, something worthwhile like an office beer bust -- long before a trial.

One small victory: With the help of the Institute for Justice, Carol Thomas of Millville, New Jersey, was able to get back her 1990 Ford Thunderbird after it had been stolen by the local police under the pretext of "civil asset forfeiture."

While not meaning to minimize the seriousness of drunk driving – an often lethal act of irresponsibility that should be severely punished when it results in crimes against persons or property – the anti-DUI campaign is a malignant racket.

Financial writer Christopher Solomon points out
: “In several states ... your license may be suspended for 90 days simply upon your arrest for DUI, regardless of whether you end up being convicted.” For many people, loss of a driver's license can mean immediate unemployment.

To understand just how the DUI enforcement system has been engineered to extort guilty pleas – and, of course, revenue – from the innocent, consider the case of Stan Willcutt, an unassuming construction worker from Lee's Summit, Kansas.

In his early 40s, Willcutt is a walking collection of chronic injuries received from a long career in construction. His back, for example, is so infirm that a good sneeze can throw it out. This is what happened to Willcutt on April 7 of last year, as he was driving home from a doctor's appointment. The sneeze, and the resulting back pain, caused Willcutt momentarily to lose control of his car. His vehicle clipped a highway median, puncturing the front-left tire.

As Willcutt changed his tire, the Lee's Summit Police materialized, telling him they'd received reports of a drunk driver. Willcutt, who had a 20-year-old DUI conviction on his record, had given up all alcohol consumption.

When the officers demanded that he take a field sobriety test, Willcutt warned them that his injuries – dentures that caused him to slur his speech, two ankles left weak and unsteady from multiple breaks, and bad back – would make it difficult for him to pass the test. He complied, nonetheless, with predictable results.

(It should be pointed out that there are sound and compelling reasons to regard standard field sobriety tests as little more than a bizarre variety of compelled performance art.)

After his performance was deemed unsatisfactory, Willcutt requested a breathalyzer test, which measured his blood-alcohol content at 0.00 percent.

He was arrested anyway. Once in jail, he was required to provide a urine sample, which likewise produced a 0.00 percent reading for alcohol, amphetamines, barbituates, benzodiazepine, cannabinoids (Marijuana), cocaine, methadone, opiates, phencylidine and proxyphene.

Nonetheless, Rachel Brown, the vindictive, careerist shrike who serves as city prosecutor, went ahead and filed charges against Willcutt anyway – on the assumption that the complete lack of evidence against Willcutt didn't validate his innocence.

“You have people driving under the influence [of substances] that don't show up on the initial panel,” Brown insisted, maintaining that the judgment of the arresting officers was more important than the scientific evidence.

If Brown's reaction strikes you as kindred to the bizarre rationales used by the Bush junta and its supporters to justify the Iraq war despite the absence of Saddam's fearsome WMD arsenal, you're very perceptive.

Within weeks, Willcutt – who had few financial resources to draw upon – had spent over $1,000 on legal counsel. After the case received local publicity, Brown grudgingly dropped the DUI charges, only to press careless and imprudent driving charges against the long-suffering construction worker.

“I'm frustrated and mad,” Willcutt told a local magazine. “I'm wondering why the town I grew up in is raking me over the coals.”

The answer to Willcutt's implied question – why is the government doing this to me? -- is quite simple: Because it can, since those running the State consider us to be its property.


Anonymous said...

"I'm frustrated and mad," Willcutt told a local magazine. "I'm wondering why the town I grew up in is raking me over the coals."

The answer to Willcutt's implied question - why is the government doing this to me? -- is quite simple: Because it can, since those running the State consider us to be its property.

And conversely, we consider them to be our parents. Of course, "those" that think and act simply "because they can" are obviously immoral or amoral, corrupt, unprincipled, and are likely to be outright liars, cheats, thieves, etc. And since "those" are born out of the belly of "us," what does that say about "us"?

In fact, when you say "received local publicity" and Rachel Brown dismissed the charges, I say that the State merely expected an uproar from said publicity, but that doesn't indicate that there was indeed an uproar by the public at large of any sort.

Let's recap, who is the largest employer, bar none, in the U.S. today? Answer: G-o-v-e-r-n-m-e-n-t (including it's various regional appendages at the local and state level) dwarfs all other employers; the many tentacles (support arms) of gov't within the private sector NOT included, just the pure government octapus head.

Is Santa Fe aggregately in a near-riot over these corrupt plans? Do the folk even view these policies as corrupt?? If I was a wagerer, I would wager on both counts a Vegas whale bounty that a resounding "NO!" is the answer, especially the former. "Hey, it sucks, but it's the way it is, and drunk driving is against the law, besides drunk drivers kill people! So just adapt...drink and be merry, party...BUT just don't drive! hardy, har, har!...[more useless yack]" would probably not be a totally inaccurate, or atypical, response from a random sample of the good and vigilant citizenry of the capital village of NM.

Other than the real victims of these State acts, and in some cases even those pour souls as well, the only liberty and freedom that many folk seem to really give a rat's derriere about these days is sexual or hedonistic in nature. And as long as the "colliseum" (TV and other media) is keeping the commoners seduced, placated, and drunk with pleasure and leisure - whether with sports, sitcoms, trash movies, or talking heads performing for the media circus - it will remain that way.

BTW, had you heard that Ron Paul filed the paperwork to run for President in the 2008 election? Of course, I fully expect the G.O.P. establishment to squash his candidacy in every possible way and, naturally, we'll all hear the media marionettes' broken record spiel that he is "unelectable."

According to the article, he ran as a Libertarian in 1988, but will run as a Republican this time supposedly.

From the story: Paul limits his view of the role of the federal government to those duties laid out in the Constitution. As a result, he sometimes casts votes at odds with his constituents and other Republicans.

The part about casting votes at odds with "other Republicans" is a fait accompli and not surprising, but at odds with his own constituents? That could be Faux News' own play on words, of course; even if only a half-truth, it still says a lot about the national electorate's mindset, even in Mr. Paul's own district.

Anonymous said...

The image of a church service being stormed by g-men raises questions. To take up arms or not to take up arms? What's a Christian to do?

Forcible disarmament--one of life's little oxymorons--especially of entire people groups, is of course wrong, because it's often a one-sided disarmament resulting in a blood bath.

But what about when the decision gets more personal? How do I teach my son to be a real Christian man? I've just emerged from five years in an independent fundamentalist Baptist church, the local expression of which promoted an ideal of Christian manhood which was a composite of the Nietschean Superman, and the Jungian warrior, and the God-fearin', Bible quotin', weapon-totin' he-man "destined to blow the brains out of the rag-heads coming against God's chosen people Israel."

I made the church switch, and I currently teach 4th and 5th grade Sunday school at a generic Christian church, where those serving in the military are listed in the bulletin and prayed for, but the pastor refuses to be a mouthpiece for the political viewpoints of the "Religious Right."

I was teaching about the command to love one's enemies, and one little boy piped up, "Well, that's kind of hard to do when you're in the army!" The best answer I could give at the time was to reply that Jesus never condemned soldiers who came to him for help, and the Apostle Paul explicitly says that rulers are allowed to bear the sword to maintain order in, and to protect, the populations they are governing. I also added though, that is the responsibility of a US citizen to determine whether or not a war is really being fought to protect people before agreeing to support it. I gave the brainwashing of the German population by the Nazis as an example. And left it at that.

But I could have said more. How far the typical Bush-supporting Baptist has strayed from the earliest anabaptist moorings of men like Menno, for example, who concluded that all contemporary wars were ultimately greed- and power- based, and decided they weren't going to prostitute the call to be soldiers for the Lord by being soldiers for the (then very politically powerful) Roman Catholic church any more. The pacifism of the Mennonites is a modern day expression of that way of thinking about war.

Recently, I finished reading "The Battle or the Axe:One Man's Dramatic Escape From Persecution in the Sudan" by William Levi. I would be pleased to have my son have this man as one of his Christian heroes.

I also read several books about the Church in China last summer. Some of the saints there are actually PRAYING for persecution in America to energize some of the slumbering materialistic church here. The Church in China is a growing and vibrant, although still very persecuted church. The organization "Voice of the Martyrs" reports the same thing about the Church in other restricted countries.

I believe they are going to have their prayers answered. It is frightening, and very encouraging at the same time. It's a critical time for deepening one's walk with God. It is my belief that the Lord will have different instructions on how to make it through (even if making it through includes martyrdom) for different folk. That fact used to trouble me---but not so much any more.

Anonymous said...

I suppose my comment above MIGHT have made more sense posted in
THIS discussion! Dixiedog, I've dropped the umlaut :)

Anonymous said...

"What's a Christian to do?"

The answer, expressed in Revelation, is to "come out of not a partaker of her plagues".

The question, of course, is how.

Will -

Along that line, I'd be interested in your take on the "licensing" related and vehicle "title" issues, if you are familiar with them.

My studies show pretty clearly, "patriot mythology" notwithstanding, that a license for piloting of a car for personal and family business (as opposed to compensation, 'for-hire') is not required in any state I am aware of.

Furthermore, the title process is a transfer of ownership, under contract - you give the state your vehicle, they give you a sticker that lets you avoid harassment.

The problem ultimately boils down to - you agreed to the stupid rules, even if by fraud,
and they'll take back "their" property if irritated.

I don't like it either, and it wouldn't be the first time government has defrauded people of their Rights -
but the solution would then have to start with,
"Don't ask permission for something you have a Right to do."

Anonymous said...

Will, are you cross posting your writings to other locations on the web? If so, where? I'm not interested in having to ask Google's permission to post here.

William N. Grigg said...

Anonymous, I'm going to be cross-posting to a couple of different forums pretty soon. I'm sorry that the filter is necessary: There have been several porn spam-type comments posted here, and the only way I can pre-empt this (at least that I know of) is to pre-screen comments before they're posted.

The Owner said...

Isn't one of the problems of the State the fact that, even with habeas corpus, the judges, being controlled by and members of the State, are still liable to act in a political manner and get away with it?

We had habeas corpus before the Padilla affair, right? That didn't stop the administration from detaining him without charges anyway.

This is a point in support of a market-provided judicial system, I think.

dixiedog said...

Will, it seems Google with their behind-the-scenes updates to their Blogger system trashed by login on your comment thread for some odd reason, since I doubt you'd of done it ;). Oh well, there's nothing I can do to fix it.

anonymous jr. As Will pointed out, it's not Google from whom you're "asking permission," but Will screening the comments before posting them. You can sign in as "anonymous" or with whatever handle you want and, in my experience anyway, if Will approves the content it's posted.

dixiedog said...

miraclewhipofidaho: I suppose my comment above MIGHT have made more sense posted in THIS discussion! Dixiedog, I've dropped the umlaut :)

Lawdy, is that the one and only "Mayo" who periodically posts at V.P.?

If not, 'cuse me.

If so, you won't need me to define the acronym ;). Howdy ma'am! However, you've knocked me for a loop with "dropped the umlaut." That would mean what exactly?

Speaking of V.P. folk, I wonder if this mark call here is also the regular poster over there, as well? Judging by the content of the post, I'd say that he indeed is.

Anonymous said...

Dixiedog-- The umlaut (over the "a" in miraclewhip) was an affectation I dropped after a while. The haloscan comment section at VD's wherein you were helping me with the umlaut code has probably vanished, by now, too.

I've heard Will speak at a few JBS events, and was impressed. I started liking him even more when I started reading his blog. My husband, who is a big Will Grigg fan, may let me post here once in awhile without getting angry (which, after a few of my marathon arguing sessions at VD's he justifiably became!)

Anonymous said...

Here is a comment from my local RE attorney that specializes in RealEstate - interested in your response: "Bill, I don't think the reasoning on the Property Tax Idea is all that great. Property tax is a tax imposed by the county through power granted by the state. The state is sovereign. An ad valorem tax imposed by the state or a subdivision of the state is not against the constitution. It would be totally different if the tax were being imposed by the Federal Government."

Bill Moser
Greensboro NC

Jerri Lynn Ward, J.D. said...

I served on a jury at the trial of a man accused of DUI (marijuana). He admitted that he had smoked it--but said he was not under the influence. He also claimed that he told the police that he would fail the sobriety test because of head surgery which affected his balance. The officer who stopped him testified that the defendant didn't tell him about the surgery or his balance problem.

He was turned over to another cop for the test. He failed and was charged.

We saw the tape and it revealed he told BOTH officers about his balance problem. They just weren't listening.

Moreover, the sobriety test and the officer's in-court demonstration of the test were so absurd that not one of my fellow jurors believed that they could pass it sober!

We acquitted him. His attorney couldn't believe it when we did.