A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal--guidelines, focus, etc.--go to www.theamericandissident.org. If you have questions, please contact me at todslone@hotmail.com. Comments are NOT moderated (i.e., CENSORED)!]
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia, not to mention Sweden, England, and Austria.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Friday, August 16, 2019

The Iconoclast

The above cartoon was drawn in 2006.  The only real question to pose:  Is The Iconoclast at all iconoclastic?  My conclusion was a definite NO.  Iconoclast would definitely imply harsh criticism regarding the academic/literary establishment.  For its editor, Phil Wagner, "Poetry and prose from authors interested in the creation, sharing, and transmission of ideas, imaginings, and experiences. Getting rich or famous from publication here is unlikely, but more people in more places actually read Iconoclast than the vast majority of other small press literary magazines."  Not a single word on The Iconoclast website encourages "iconoclasting" (criticism).  Mind-boggling, or rather numbing, indeed!  Perhaps it is time to give The Iconoclast an award for Literary Magazine Title Misrepresentation!  In essence, The Iconoclast is as establishment as it gets.

In any case, yesterday I was "battling" with a Quebec publisher, Jean-Sébastien Larouche (L'Ecrou) who, for some reason, had not learned the establishment credo:  thou shalt not respond to criticism.  He was recently highlighted in Le Devoir (Montreal) as an iconoclast, which is why I questioned and challenged him... and indeed he was anything but an iconoclast.  Then today I looked over Poets & Writers magazine online and noticed Matthew Zapruder was highlighted.  The name rang a bell.  So, I checked to see if indeed I'd sketched a cartoon on him.  And sure enough I had (see https://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2016/03/matthew-zapruder.html).  After the posted cartoon is a dialogue de sourds I created with him, questioning and challenging his statements.  He unsurprisingly never responded.  And thus I wondered would The Iconoclast publish it... knowing quite well it would not.  After all, it is listed in Poets & Writers magazine directory, which refuses to list The American Dissident... just like NewPages.com.  For the literary establishment, The American Dissident and I simply do NOT exist...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Supervisor Mike Muehlbauer Fish and Wildlife Service

(My Bones!)

The following essay account was sent to Fish and Wildlife Service, which never responded, and to Customs and Border Protection, which sort of responded eventually (see response following the essay). But the latter essentially ignored most of the points made in the essay.  It was also sent to Down East magazine, which never responded... for evident reasons.  The CBP response was robotic and was not signed with the name of a human.  What else could one expect from the Government?  The official list of bones taken from me is included after the CBP response.  Below is a photo of my confiscated bones, which would have caused immense harm to the American environment... of course.

An Open Letter to Customs and Border Protection 
And Fish and Wildlife Service
"We’re Just Doing Our Job"—Notes on a Border Crossing

The statement—the very rationale for bureaucratic insanity/inanity—that stuck in my mind during my forced two-hour stay at the border-patrol building in Calais, Maine was indeed:  “we’re just doing our jobs.”  It is a statement that conveniently deflects from any questioning and challenging of policy and/or behavior.  Also, since the Holocaust is being evoked again in politics, well, weren’t the concentration-camp guards just doing their jobs?  Hmm.  
This year, crossing the border had become a royal pain in the neck for me, a common U.S. citizen.  In May, I’d decided to visit Campobello Island just over the bridge from Lubec, Maine.  There, the Canadian border patrol agents rifled through my car and did a computer search on me.  I began getting impatient after waiting an hour.  Finally, I told the agent I no longer wanted to visit the island.  He said, technically I was in Canada and had to wait for the search to be completed.  Eventually, he agreed to let me turn around because the computer search was taking so long.  He stepped out of the building to make sure I turned around back to the U.S. about 200 yards away.  Five minutes later, back at the U.S. border, again my car was searched.  That took about 45 minutes by U.S. border patrol agents.  I asked why they hadn’t simply contacted the Canadian agents.  But one of the U.S. agents said they did not contact them because that was not part of policy.  I asked him what precisely they looked for when deciding to search a person, while not others.  He failed to provide a concrete response.  Last September, Canadian border patrol agents did a search on me when I crossed over at Calais, ME to Saint Stephen, New Brunswick.  They’d found a guy on the computer with a similar name to mine with a criminal record and so questioned and questioned me over and over. 
But the worst by far was yet to come on June 18th, when I crossed back into the U.S. at Calais, Maine.  There, I arrived at the border at 3 pm.  “Please park over there, we’ll do a quick search,” said the border patrol agent in the booth.  And so I parked, while another agent escorted me into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection building.  There I was told to sit down on the long marble bench without back or cushions.  I chose to stand up because I’d been driving since eight in the morning from North Sydney, Nova Scotia.  None of the agents seemed to know precisely what was permitted and what was not permitted.  Not even the supervisor seemed to know.  One of them asked about my Newfoundland experience and mentioned how he too liked to collect bones.  Meanwhile, one or several other guards were rifling through my car and would not permit me to observe the search.  The agent interested in bones informed that the small moose antlers I had in the car might pose a problem.  Yet, I told him that I’d crossed over in September with a moose antler and the agent had said it wasn’t a problem.  “Well, one of the antlers is a bit suspicious because it looked like it might have been sawed,” he said.  “Well, they butcher moose on the beaches in Newfoundland,” I said.  
Time passed and I paced back and forth in the long building… back and forth.  “Sir, do you have a cellphone?” asked an agent.  “No,” I said.  An hour passed… I began losing patience.  The agents would not tell me how much longer I’d have to wait.  “Just sit down,” said another agent.  “That marble slab is as uncomfortable as it gets!” I responded.  “You ought to have a few cushions on the thing.”  No comment.  That was the only place to sit.  There were no magazines to read, nothing at all.  Different agents kept telling me it wouldn’t be long… and to just have a seat.  But I didn’t want to sit.  So, I continued pacing back and forth, back and forth, as if in a jail cell.  I asked one of the agents why I was chosen to be searched and not the cars behind me.  In essence, I wanted to know what guided the profiling.  Eventually, he handed me a pamphlet, “A Look at the CBP Traveler Inspection Process,” which stipulated “CBP officers use random inspections to concentrate on finding those few passengers who are not obeying the law.”  Random?  Hmm.  My neighbor had thought it might be my long unkempt hair… and indeed maybe the hell it was.  “Sir, do you have a cellphone?” asked another agent.  “No,” I said again.
“How much longer will this be taking?” again I asked.  “It’s a process,” said an agent.  “It won’t be more than another hour.”  “Well, is there a reason why the process is taking more than the few minutes you’d said when I arrived?”  Seeing my impatient back and forth pacing demeanor, the agents then got the supervisor, who came over and wanted to shake my hand.  I refused to shake.  “What are my rights as a citizen of the U.S.?” I asked.  “Apparently, I have no rights here.  Why do you not need a search warrant to do what you’ve been doing?”  The supervisor then said, “the problem is the bones and we have to get the fish and game agent now.”   “Is he in another state?” I asked.  “No, he’s in the office next door and almost left for the day,” he responded.  “If he wasn’t there, we would have had to confiscate everything and who knows what else.”  “Well, why is it taking so damn long?” I asked.  “Some people have to wait eight or even 24 hours, you know,” he said.  “Sure, but not because they collected a few old bones on the beach in Newfoundland,” I said.  “Why aren’t there any signs here that clearly stipulate NO BONES?”  No response.  
Perhaps in the mind of a bureaucrat, somehow it was better for the wildlife when hunters were  given licenses to kill the wildlife and throw away their bones, than for a person like me to simply pick up a few of those thrown-away bones when walking on the beach and take them back into the U.S.  Go figure, as my ma used to say.  As time continued onwards, again I got a tad testy and asked what the hell was going on.  One agent found a tomato in the car and showed it to me.  “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that,” I said.  “Can I eat it now?”  “No!” he said.  “Why not?” I asked.  No response.  How much more time I asked again and then again.  One of the agents said, “oh a few more seconds.”  “Well, I’ve heard that before,” I told her.  “Well, not more than a half hour,” she then said.  “Well, I’ve heard that one too,” I said.  She looked at me testily.  It looked like there were six agents working on my case here and there.  With our border crisis, one would think there were more important things for them to do.  But no.  It really disgusted me.  “Mr. Slone you live on Commerce Rd still?” asked an agent. “Yeah,” I said.  Then later, the same questions from yet another agent:  Where did you go?  Why did you go there?  Do you have family there?  Where do you live?   
Periodically in response to my growing frustration, the agents would say, “well, I’m just doing my job.”  And I’d respond, “some job!”  “It’s all bullshit 101!” I said to one of them.  “With all the human trafficking and drugs, you’re just doing your job wasting time looking over some old moose antlers.  Insane!”  Then one of the agents handed me two sheets of paper he’d just printed out.  I’d told him that prior to my departure I had looked on the internet to see what was permitted over the border and saw nothing on bones at all.  The first sheet was titled “Lacey Act” (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service—International Affairs).  It stipulated:  “Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold…”  The second sheet was titled, “Marine Mammal Protection Act” and stipulated:  “All marine mammals are protected under the MMPA.  The MMPA prohibits, with certain exceptions, the “take” of marine mammals in US waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S.”  Were bones necessarily products?  [When I eventually got back home I again googled “what can’t be brought into the U.S. from Canada.”  The first entry was the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP):  https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1273/~/food--bring-personal-use-food-into-the-u.s.-from-canada.  And so I read through the webpage… and not a single mention of bones!  Why not?]  
After a while, I asked one of the border patrol agents if the fish and game agent had come.  He pointed to another guy who was walking around behind the long counter.  “What the hell is going on?” I finally said to the fish and game agent.  “Well, I’m just doing my job!” he said.    
The supervisor, a nice guy, asked if I were thirsty and brought me a bottle of water and packet of saltines.  He also gave me a comment card and said I could fill it out.  But why bother?  It was just more bureaucratic bullshit.  The game agent was now actually bagging up the bones he’d taken out of my car, as if they had been found at a freakin’ crime scene.  “Can I take a photo of the bones?” I asked.  To my surprise, he said I could.  So, accompanied by a border patrol agent, I got my camera out of the car and took several photos.  Hell, the bones were my property.  “Can I take your photo too?” I asked.  “No!” he said.  “Why not?”  No response.  “Can I take a photo of the long marble slab seat in the building?” I asked.  “No!” said the border patrol agent.  I was surprised they didn’t cuff and put me into a holding cell in the basement.   “Sir, what’s your address?” asked the game inspector.  “How much more time is this going to take?” I asked.  “We’re just getting the paperwork done now,” he said.  And I paced back and forth, back and forth.  Those bones meant something to me.  I knew where I got each one.  They were personal souvenirs of my exploring.  They ended up taking the whale tooth I’d found on the beach in Frenchman’s Cove, the moose spinal cord I’d picked up on the beach in Three Rock Cove, as well as the two moose teeth and three small antlers.   
The only reasonable explanation for the seizure of the bones was that somehow I might have been trafficking in moose and whale bones, perhaps even killing the creatures to get them, which of course was absolutely absurd.  Besides, the moose antlers were old and gray.  And the whale bone was only a foot and a half long.  And the tooth, well, how the hell did I obtain one whale tooth… if not on a beach amongst the pebbles and jetsam?  
The border patrol agents failed to respond precisely how my bringing those items into the U.S. could possibly constitute a danger to wildlife.  How did that affect #4 on the “Comment Card,” which stipulated that “The CBP [Customs and Border Protection] process is necessary to ensure the security of the United States”?  Insane!  Bureaucratic insanity!  Clearly, the agents illustrated that America was a bureaucracy, not a democracy!  “Three and a half minutes and I’ll have you out of here,” then said the fish and game inspector. 
I wondered how much public taxpayer money the agency spent on the six color paintings called “Glacial Erratics,” which were hung high on the wall above the area where the agents sat with their computers.  Anyhow, the agents left my car in a total mess.  They’d gone through everything and did not even try to put things back where they had been.  They should indeed need a warrant to search cars like they did mine.  They didn’t even ask me for my registration.  They just hunted in the car and grabbed it.  It really disgusted me, left me feeling helpless and emotionally depleted, nearly erasing the joy of the month spent in Newfoundland.  Those agents were not good guys; they were good bureaucrats.  And there was a big difference between the two.  Truth and reason inevitably fell victims to thriving bureaucracies.  What mattered was the bureaucracy, not truth and not reason.  
Two hours and 15 minutes later, they allowed me to leave.  First, the game agent showed me two printouts, “Property Receipt” (Department of the Interior/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/ Office of Law Enforcement), listing the items confiscated and said I had a choice.  And so, I signed the printout that said I wanted the stuff they confiscated back.  And if that meant a fine, then I’d fight the fine.  He placed a paste it with his name and supervisor’s name and phone numbers on it. 
Brent Lyons, Wildlife Inspector, was his name.  Mike Muehlbauer was his Supervisor.  “We’ll be getting in touch with you,” said the inspector.  
And so off I drove, just wanting to get the hell out of there.  Eventually, I stopped and got a coffee at Dunkin Donuts, then drove endlessly, now and then past signs:  “This Is a High Frequency Moose Area.”  Finally, I stopped at 7:30, opened a can of herring, ate it, then continued.  Hours later, I passed through Boston, my goal, so in the morning I wouldn’t have to go through the bumper-to-bumper traffic nightmare.  Somewhere in Hingham though, it was bumper to bumper stop/go near midnight.  Road work was the culprit.  Well, it didn’t last too long.  No place to park on 93, so I continued, reached route 3 Cape Cod and drove until finally a rest area sign.  I pulled over.  12:30 a.m.  I crawled into the back of the car, pushed the piles of my jumbled up stuff over, making a narrow path for my carcass to lie down.   Finito.   Why was I always being searched at the border nowadays?   From the border patrol building, I’d watched the other cars pass right through—no problem at all for them.  One would think the “we’re just doing our job” agents would keep a record of their past searches… and consult that record.  But apparently they didn’t…
Post Scriptum:  Well, on June 24th, I received a certified letter ($7 postage!) from Supervisor Mike Muehlbauer.  Bureaucrat language was akin to legalese, purposefully never quite clear at all.  It said I could file a “seized asset claim” and obtain the form from the US Fish and Wildlife Service office on request.  It did not state whether or not I’d have to go to court, a 6-7 hour drive, up in Calais, Maine.  Clearly, I did not want to do that or spend money on a freakin’ lawyer to get the assets, valued at 0$ by the supervisor himself, returned to me.  However, “storage costs” might be involved!  What about postage costs?  Would I be forced into a lengthy process every time now when I crossed back into the U.S.?  I thus sent my nightmare account to the supervisor and requested he respond to my questions, including the court question, so that I might make a decision as to whether or not to just give up.  My dad had said, “you can’t fight City Hall.”  Well, evidently, it was a hopeless battle to fight Big Gov and its vast army of faithful just-doing-our-job bureaucrats…

Unanswered questions
1. How does bringing across the border a few bones found on beaches affect wildlife in the U.S.?
2. Why was I not permitted to eat the tomato found in my car?  
3. Who gets to keep the bones (or are they eventually destroyed) and how does that affect wildlife in the U.S.?
4. Why are bones not even mentioned on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website?  
5. Why do search and seizures at the border not necessitate a search warrant?
6. Why can citizens be held indefinitely w/o a clear statement of the length of the holding?
7. Why is there only a long marble cushion-less/back-less slab for citizens to sit on at the CBP building in Calais, Maine?  
8.  Why is the profiling for searching a person not precise?  In essence, why precisely was I searched and not people behind me?  

For the most part, the six border patrol agents and fish and wild-life inspector, who dealt with me, seemed like nice guys.  But then what was a nice guy?  Was it a faithful bureaucrat, who followed all bureaucratic rules, no matter how crazy?  

Why not publish the following in Frontline magazine? Or is SILENCE GOLDEN at CBP, not just in Maine? No answers were ever provided for the questions posed at the end of it!!!
G. Tod Slone (PhD—Université de Nantes, FR), aka P. Maudit, Founding Editor (1998)
The American Dissident, a 501c3 Nonprofit Journal of Literature, Democracy, and Dissidence
217 Commerce Rd.
Barnstable, MA 02630
From: Customs and Border Protection Information Center
Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 8:16 AM
To: todslone@hotmail.com
Subject: Search Authority [Incident: 190807-000775]
Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support center. Below is a summary of your request and our response.

If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reopen it within the next 7 days.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Good morning,

Thank you for taking the time to write to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Compliments and Complaints Branch.

You asked us to respond to the following questions:

1. How does bringing across the border a few bones found on beaches affect wildlife in the U.S.?
     ANSWER:  The admissibility of animal bones is determined by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).  FWS has the final determination, not CBP.    Here is our FAQ on bones:  https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/63/kw/bones  Paragraph 3 "Bones, horns and hoofs that are imported as trophies may be imported without further restrictions if they are clean, dry and free of un dried pieces of hide, flesh, or sinew."  Unfortunately, until the bones are inspected, there will be no definitive answer if the bones are enterable. 

Furthermore, bones found in nature or on the beach can pose several concerns.  The bones could be infected, contain bugs, debris from the beach or other areas, etc.  This can introduce pests and diseases into the United States causing severe damage to the United States Eco system, agriculture, etc.

2. Why was I not permitted to eat the tomato found in my car? 
    ANSWER:  Because the food was undeclared and was already pending seizure.  The food must have been eaten prior to your arrival and once arrived, you are not permitted to eat something pending seizure.

3. Who gets to keep the bones (or are they eventually destroyed) and how does that affect wildlife in the U.S.?

    ANSWER: Bones that are seized are done so by the FWS.  Please contact FWS at www.fws.gov for further assistance.  Anything not declared even if not prohibited will be subject to seizure.  Most likely, the bones are then destroyed in accordance to regulations to avoid any introduction of pests or diseases into the United States.

4. Why are bones not even mentioned on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website? 
     ANSWER:  Simply go to https://help.cbp.gov and in the search field type "Bones"  I provided you with the link in question 1.

5. Why do search and seizures at the border not necessitate a search warrant?
     ANSWER:  U.S. Supreme Court decisions have upheld the doctrine that CBP search authority is unique and does not violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.  No warrant is required while in any Federal Inspection Service (FIS) are of an airport, land border, or seaport of entry.

6. Why can citizens be held indefinitely w/o a clear statement of the length of the holding?
     ANSWER:  We do not hold citizens of the United States indefinitely.  However, we have the authority to inspect your person, vehicle, luggage, vehicle contents, and electronic devices as necessary.  Further more, we have the authority to ensure you are who you say you are.

Please understand; CBP Officers may not answer specific questions about an examination that is underway.  Failure to comply with the CBP Officer’s requests, or attempts to evade questions, can result in a more intensive examination, which would extend the time to process a traveler’s admission into the United States. 

7. Why is there only a long marble cushion-less/back-less slab for citizens to sit on at the CBP building in Calais, Maine? 
    ANSWER:  You will need to ask Calais, Maine for clarification.  However, please understand, CBP is not in the hospitality business so our first priority is to secure the United States.

8.  Why is the profiling for searching a person not precise?  In essence, why precisely was I searched and not people behind me? 
     ANSWER:  CBP officers use diverse factors to refer individuals for targeted examinations and there are instances when our best judgments prove to be unfounded. Although CBP does use information from various systems and specific techniques for selecting passengers for targeted examinations, sometimes risk management is a completely random referral for most travelers.

There are many reasons for deciding to examine someone.  As mentioned above, CBP has a program of random checks that helps us calibrate our information in determining the travelers selected for inspection.  Many people think that CBP Officers only target people who look disreputable or suspicious and are therefore offended when the CBP Officer requests for them to wait for additional inspection. Please be aware that some of biggest contraband seizures have resulted from CBP inspections of "respectable looking" people, such as grandmothers, corporate executives, and college professors.

Thank you.

Compliments and Complaints Branch
U.S. Customs and Border Protection