What I Learned on My Summer Vacation
by Karen Kwiatkowski
Over the past few weeks, my family drove around the American southwest, spending the bulk of our time in the Republic of Texas.
There was a visit to Durango, Colorado — lovely and expensive and Starbucky. There was a visit to Las Vegas, with its inflated real estate growth, corporate consolidation of the casino industry and unforgettable little old ladies facing machines armed only with a cigarette in one hand and all-the-money-in-the-world-if-I-can-just-get-lucky-this-time in the other.
There was a short trip to a beach in Santa Barbara, California, where the Chamber of Commerce charged for parking and publicly begged for donations to sustain their assuredly worthy efforts. There was a drive through Hollywood, where signs warned us that the state was taking pictures and passing an intersection twice in a four-hour period was big trouble. Signs also warned us that jaywalking would be severely punished. Maybe the rules are just for tourists, or "terrists" as my husband and I jokingly called ourselves in deference to the presidential pronunciation.
But Texas was especially nice. A guy at Fort Stockton took a look at our old van, and we chatted a bit. He said some Fort Stockton boys had returned from Iraq and given the 95 degree temperature in west Texas, I commented, "I bet they were prepared for the heat over there." The mechanic said "No, they said it was really cold, especially at night."
I had heard that about Falluja in November, but not from the mainstream media trying to put a happy face on our material destruction of that city. Never mind. People in Fort Stockton already know the truth. I tried to get more second hand war stories, but all the mechanic would say was that the stories they told were, "Interesting. Very interesting."
I have been told by Texans that their state can secede from the union and revert to an independent self-governed Republic. This is a legal myth — but it is simultaneously a very practical reality. Any of the fifty states and the odd territories could do this if they so chose. Sure, it might cause a war with Washington. With the troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Army broken, an argument might be made that now's the time.
My brother's Dallas neighbors homeschool their four children, read LewRockwell, and worry that the country is past the point of no return. They don't understand why people blindly accept the government story about 9-11, when the official story flies in the face of physical evidence and is undermined by bizarre governmental actions at home and abroad ostensibly as a result of that frightful day. They are thinking about an escape plan of some kind.
My brother, an engineer, laughs at the idea that the events of 9-11 deserve a second analysis, and supports the war in Afghanistan as a good way to go after terrorists. Over the past few years, he has gradually changed his mind on the disaster that is Iraq, and would prefer to have our troops home. He and his wife stay busy as productive businesspeople and wonderful parents.
But wouldn't you know, except for maybe Chalmers Johnson, my brother and his wife have one of the most complete and effective escape routes I've seen.
They are practical people who love their children.
The Dallas rumor rags say Austin cyclist Lance Armstrong may run for Texan governor. He'd win hands down, and what a refreshing thought. LiveStrong is written in Texan.
It's difficult to digest the big stories of the summer, and maybe the decade — our illegal and falsely justified invasion/occupation of Iraq, politically appointed spies and national security betrayers in White House circles, upcoming and maybe even nuclear attacks on Iran.
In Texas, where Governor Bush was never much to write home about, his global antics seem to be less a concern, although more than one person we met on the road there was thinking about a right of secession.
As noted recently, and powerfully, decentralization is the only real weapon against and constraint on present-day American fascism-lite. The Indian reservations we drove through in New Mexico and Arizona now have casinos. While government-style projects were still evident, there seemed to be a refreshed sense of hope you could see from the highway. It seems that just a few years of extra-national business — free of state restraints and excessive confiscation — is more effective than a century of federal badgering and nannying. To use a popular White House phrase, the centralist burden was at least partially "left behind" by the unseen power of decentralization and assertion of market sovereignty.
Speaking of extra-governmental experiments, it seems that some of the best tenants and workers in Texas are there illegally, working in both "legitimate" (taxed) and "illegitimate" (untaxed) environments. They have their priorities, and most wish to remain in their local community, undisturbed by either the law or their neighbors. This requires conformance to local community norms, even as the state capital murmurs its dissatisfaction, and the federal capital screams. Funny how that works.
Last but not least, on my summer vacation I watched the video of Million Dollar Baby. I particularly liked the stark difference between Maggie Fitzgerald and her welfare-check—cherishing family. Maggie had known that kind of life, and she left it behind for something far more unpredictable and individualistic and decentralized. In doing that, she learned what it meant to truly be alive. She created an escape hatch.
A lot of people are seeing the movie and absorbing its many messages. A lot of Americans, and those who like the old idea of America, have a natural leaning towards decentralization. A lot of people hate government nannyism, political lies, imperial agendas, and state socialism. More Americans than I ever imagined already have plans for an internal or external escape if our country continues down the road to a place where the Washington Oz insists that war is peace, and tyranny freedom.
It may be that America has always been just about the people who live here, and what they want and don't want, and what they do when they get fed up. Washingtonian rule, parasitical and eternally defensive, will have little choice but to hang on for the ride when a 100 million sleeping tigers begin to stir. Or perhaps only 100. Maybe just one tiger, with one eye open, can cause Washington to quake.
I'm optimistic. And it's good to be home!
July 28, 2005
Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., [send her mail] is a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and among other things, writes a bi-weekly column on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for militaryweek.com.
Copyright © 2005 LewRockwell.com