My high school German teacher was from a family that moved to the United States prior to the First World War and settled in New York. When war came, someone threw a brick through their store window, but they survived that, and the Second World War when it came along, as well.
One summer (in the 1960s) she took her husband and two daughters to Europe, partly to visit relatives she’d never met, but with whom her own family had kept in touch over the years. I suppose she already knew that most of them lived in a town only a handful of miles away from one of the famous Nazi deathcamps — I can’t remember now which one.
She was apalled when her relatives all claimed that, even at the height of the camp’s activity, none of them suspected what was going on there, even as the ashes from the ovens settled on their rooftops and windowsills. One relative had a shop where he manufactured metal hooks of the kind they hang sides of beef from in a slaughterhouse, or the carcasses of pigs, but even he claimed ignorance — although the Nazis had ordered hundreds of these hooks for delivery to the camp, and they were the wrong size for sides of beef or the carcasses of pigs.
That was back in the days when we thought “It Can’t Happen Here”. A civilization never arrives at a place like this without plenty of baby steps taken toward it. Not only wasn’t Rome built in a day, it didn’t collapse in a day, either. Neither did the British Empire nor the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. And the roots of the War Between the States stretch down and deep to well before the American Revolution.
America has taken plenty of those baby steps, especially recently. Perhaps the most disgusting footprint to be seen in the last few years appeared on an offical government website offering “federal business opportunities” to vendors. It immediately made me think of that German hookmaker.
The federal agency in question was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Tobacco — that fine, upstanding example of government “help” that we all remember so well from their part in the massacre of dozens of innocent men, women, and children at Mount Carmel near Waco, not to mention their racist company picnic, the Good Ol’ Boy Roundup, or the fact that their principal stock in trade is enforcing a 40 year old unconstitutional law cribbed directly from the above-mentioned Nazis.
These are the same worthies who are instructed by their bosses to lie in court if that’s what it takes to get a conviction, who employ “testing procedures” — with no written or objectively established protocols — to incriminate innocent gun owners, and who think nothing of destroying the businesses of gun dealers based on questionable evidence. What these latterday goose-steppers wanted, from the lowest bidder willing to supply them, was 2000 Leatherman Micra combination tools.
And to learn more about the BATFE, see The Gang – http://www.thegangmovie.com
I happen to like Leatherman tools a lot. It’s fairly likely you do, too. I carry two of them myself, the original model (with needle- nose pliers) and the little Micra model (with scissors). I use them both every day. My family all have them and we’ve given a great many as gifts. Some folks think they’re a bit pricey, and prefer cheaper, often foreign imitators, but as a machinist, I greatly prefer the real thing.
That’s one of the reasons that I found the FedBizOpps.gov website thoroughly annoying, even though the actual transaction appears to have occurred several months ago, in November of then 2007. ATF wanted their Micras blue (mine are stainless), and they wanted them especially engraved, to wit:
Always Think Forfeiture
Now what, I pretend to hear you asking, is “asset forfeiture”, and why is any of this worth writing an essay? My lawyers friends tell me (yes, I have actual lawyer friends) that it’s a process which has been around throughout all of American history, one of those peculiar, all-too-convenient leftovers from medieval Europe that, like sovereign immunity, we should have pitched in the garbage when the Constitution got itself written (I sort of thought we had with the Fourth and Fifth Amendments).
Basically, the government has the legal power to steal anything from you it wants to steal, for any reason it wants to, or even no reason at all, and it never has to give any of it back, even if you are proven innocent of whatever they accused you of, and sometimes even if a judge orders them to cough your property up. After all, didn’t Obama himself say the Constitution’s “just a piece of paper”?
This extremely ancient form of corruption, probably already old when Sumerian cops were filching apples from the marketplace, got an enormous boost back in the 1980s, when the federales were having a difficult time prosecuting individuals for various things that would never have been crimes in the first place, in a truly decent, free society.
The problem, the feds reasoned in their dimwitted way, was lawyers — in that their victims usually had them. Maybe if they took away their victims’ money (and anything else that wasn’t nailed down) before they prosecuted them, they couldn’t afford lawyers and would be easier to prosecute. It would be so much easier than going to all that fuss and bother of having to trump up charges, fake evidence, play footsies with the media, intimidate witnesses, stack juries, and find malleable judges.
The stolen goods go to the agency that steals them. The local highway cops have a racy firebird they stole this way from somebody a few years ago and then disfigured with a police paint job featuring the acronym D.A.R.E.. Like any thieves, they love showing it off. I’ve been told they take it around to all the schools to teach kids that theft is perfectly okay if you fill out the right paperwork. Every time I see it out on the street I have to resist the impulse to vomit.
But I digress.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, what those engraved Micras represent is a “sales tool”, of the kind some corporations hand out to their field personnel. You’ve seen the stuff yourself, cheap ballpoint pens, rulers, staple removers, all with jaunty little slogans printed on them to keep that sales force perky and productive. Sometimes they’re gifts for customers — drug outfits give all kinds of junk to physicians — sometimes they’re a reminder to the sales people themselves.
Except that the government doesn’t have to settle merely for cheap ballpoint pens, because they’re doing it all with your money and mine. And what they’re reminding their “sales force” to do is to steal all that they possibly can, as a first, highest priority that supersedes investigations, arrests, or any of that other irritating “due process” junk.
It’s like Attila the Hun handing out decorative daggers to his barbarian hordes engraved with “Always remember, loot before you burn!” That’s what we’ve come to.
How do you like it? —