by Mike Palecek
It’s springtime in Minnesota and the Minnesota Wild are in the hockey playoffs.
And that makes everyone around here where we live, in northern Minnesota, think of book tours and tax protests and Canada.
There are a lot of ins and outs in this story, a lot of what have you’s, a lot of strands to keep in the old guy’s head, but I will try.
… A while back, in the Bush days and the Iraq war days, the post-911 days, very bad old days, I wrote “The American Dream,” a novel, to try to stop war and tell the truth about what really happened on Sept. 11, 2001. And then I borrowed a bunch of money, scheduled about 80 book tour stops all around the country and took off in an old Honda Accord with bumper stickers that said “Impeach Bush” and something else that I can’t remember.
Well, I wrote a column a day while on the road and Tony Sutton of Cold Type Magazine published them, in volumes I & II, because it took me two years to complete the tour.
One of those stops, on the Year I midwestern-eastern swing, was supposed to be Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada.
I had only been to Canada once before, that was in Vancouver, on a western trip with some friends after we had graduated from Wayne State College in Nebraska. Vancouver was so cool. Every single girl was beautiful and the bars were all in hotels. Everyone had pints stored on their tables and I think the idea was you could stay as long as you still had pints. That was so cool, we thought.
Well, I still had the picture in my mind of a big, round smiling face on the Canadian flag hoisting a warm pint of King Snedley’s when I tried to visit a second time, about twenty years later, in the Bad Days.
Oh … and on that book tour I carried around a copy of a letter to the IRS. Scroll way down to the bottom of this for that.
From Cold Type Magazine
editor, Tony Sutton
Road Trip I
Hello – and
goodbye – Canada
“Kid, have you rehabilitated yourself?”
I went over to the sargeant, said, “Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I’ve rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I’m sittin’ here on the bench, I mean I’m sittin here on the Group W bench ‘cause you want to know if I’m moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein’ a litterbug.”
– Arlo Guthrie, Alice’s Restaurant
PEMBINA PORT OF ENTRY – Oh, Canada.
Did you even notice I was gone?
I was in Canada from about 3:30 p.m. to about 5:15 p.m. this afternoon.
I was trying to get into Canada to go to my book reading in Winnipeg tonight at Mondragon Books.
They asked me at the window who I was, what I was doing, where I was going, what kind of books did I write, what I was thinking.
Umm, political fiction. Why?
Then they sent me inside. Park under the ramp.
Talk to the customs people, no, go over there instead, to the immigration folks.
I can do that. How you doing, eh?
How about that Red Green Show, huh? I mean, eh? You know him? I love that show. I want to move to Canada sometime. You folks seem like nice people. You count your votes, here, right? How do you feel about anthrax?
Do you have a passport?
Umm, no, I didn’t think you had … I thought that was next yea …
Birth certificate? How do I know you are really an American citizen if all you have is an Iowa driver’s license.
Hey. How about those Maple Leafs, huh? You skate? I can’t skate. I wish I could skate …
Have you ever been arrested? … But I never learned. … Yeah, I guess. Hey, lots of ducks around here, eh? I used to hunt. I don’t hunt anymore. Bet it gets cold up here.
Sit down. There.
Well, I guess you guys are stuck with me now. I always thought Canada was kind of an option. You know, go up there and sit in the park, feed bread crumbs to the moose.
But now it looks like this is kind of it.
Canada kicked me out because I have been to prison for protesting against the United States military at Offutt Air Force Base.
I thought they would appreciate something like that. I thought Canadians were different.
Well, the young woman immigration officer, agent, takes my papers, Iowa driver’s license, back to some room down the immigration hall and disappears for about half an hour, while “Mom & Pop Back To Winnipeg From The Winter In Miama” get high-fives from the immigration and customs staff, and I’m sitting over in the corner on the Group W bench.
The young woman Canadian person came back and told me to come through the swinging doors with her and please step into the second open door on the right.
We sit down and she explains that I can pay $200 to make an application to get considered to enter Canada. Then the application will be studied and a determination will be made as to whether I have been “rehabilitated” enough to sit in a borrowed rowboat and drink Moosehead Beer.
Then I am escorted out of the building – young immigration woman keeps my dissolute Iowa driver’s license in her hand and tells me where I need to turn around to head back to wherever the hell I came from.
She will only hand me back my license as I pass by her on the sidewalk.
I then drive back the quarter mile or so to the United States immigration complex, a crew whose acquaintance I cannot wait to make.
The American Immigration Window Woman asks me why Canada won’t take me.
She directs me to Garage Number Two, where I wait until the door opens and American immigration man motions me inside.
He asks me why Canada won’t take me.
Mrs. American Immigration Woman stands close by. They both have on fresh protective gloves, kind of a robins-egg-blue.
He asks what air force base I protested at that got me sent to prison. I tell him.
He asks if I have ever been to Fort Benning, the School of the Americas.
I say no, but I would like to go there sometime. Mr. American Immigration Man, young fat blond boy with crewcut, does not smile.
He is fingering, smelling, the money in my billfold.
He directs me to “the waiting room.” I know that’s what it is because it says “The Waiting Room” on the door. I can see the chairs inside.
I go sit down in one of the chairs and look toward where Mr. & Mrs. American Immigration Persons are ruffling through my undies and political fiction books.
I can’t see them. Because of the one-way window. You can’t watch them as they search your vehicle.
I can hear slamming and clanking and something like dirty socks being sniffed by a drug-smelling Mrs. Immigration American Woman, and I try not to imagine her walking into The Waiting Room with a smile on her face holding a bag of marijuana.
And then they have me. They can put me in Leavenworth or Butterworth or whatever new below-ground federal prison they have these days, and they never have to hear me talking about how Bush did 9-11 and killed Wellstone, ever again.
The door opens.
Mr. New Immigration Man, the other one must have gone home for the day, says that I’m set to go.
Turn right and head back to wherever the hell you came from.
Can I have the paper from The Country Of Canada that says why I can’t come in?
No, we keep that.
I turn right, head back to Grand Forks.
I look at the sheet on my passenger seat that Miss Immigration Canadian Person Woman gave me.
It’s a list of Canadian Consulates in the United States.
That is where I need to send the $200 to get them to study me to see if I am rehabilitated enough to fish in a decent lake.
I wonder how they would make their determination.
Are you glad you broke the law?
Do you support the United States?
No, not really. We suck. Our military is a bunch of thugs, paid killers. No money should go to them. In fact, I sent in a crossed-out tax form to the IRS in Kansas City before I left home on this book tour.
Well, son, looks like you will never see Thunder Bay – ever, in your lifetime. I think we are through here. We’ll take those flapjacks with us, and the flannel shirt, the cedar logs.
I told the woman with a smile that I was not rehabilitated, while we were sitting inside the second open door on the right.
I thought, being Canadian and all, she would understand what I meant. I wouldn’t even try that line down the road with the Americans.
They’d be like, what? Go Packers.
I really thought Canada would be different.
You know, like another country.
Go Maple Leafs.
And, finally, here’s something …
I was notified recently by the Internal Revenue Service that I have been fined $5,000 for “frivolous filing” of a tax document.
The story, quickly:
In the spring of 2007 and the spring of 2008 I took a book tour around the country. In 2007 I went east and in 2008 I went west.
Each time before I left home I sent a letter and a tax form to the IRS.
The forms each had a black Magic Marker “X” through them.
The letters indicated why I did not wish to cooperate with the United States of America.
It was symbolic. They had already received my money through paycheck withholding tax.
But even though merely symbolic, it’s something, some very little thing, in an effort to stand with those who have been stomped on by the government of George W. Bush, those in Iraq, and those in the United States, who have gone without health care, decent schools, roads, lived in poverty so that we might spread the American empire across the globe.
And it is now apparent that having a Democrat in the White House means only more of the same, a lesson we might have learned from living through the Clinton years, the bombing of Iraq, the sanctions on Iraq that killed millions, the increase in prison construction, the “reform” of welfare etc.
On the subject:
Howard Zinn’s recent article.
“House approves $96.7 billion to fund wars”
These people. These people have everything on their minds but public service.
My impression is they have power and the keeping of that power on their minds. We imagine that people who seek public office want to work for the social welfare and would naturally want to know the truth, but so often and for so many years we have been disappointed by putting our faith in our political leaders.
We have a semblance of representation, but not in reality.
Nobody asks you if you want to build more prisons. Nobody asks you if you want to bomb children in Iraq. Nobody asks you if you want your money to go to the poor, to schools, to roads.
Nobody ever asks.
So sometimes, sometimes you just have to tell them.
Every year we are asked to pay our taxes, send in our forms, pay for the bullets, the bombs that kill the children, the men and women.
We are given no choice.
Just as we were given no choice as children whether or not to rise before class and say the pledge of allegiance to America’s wars.
We’re not children anymore.
Our acquiesance has real consequence.
We pay to have people killed so that America and America’s businesses may expand influence and market area.
I don’t want to believe that.
I want to rather believe in the America I believed in when I walked alone into Mrs. Steele’s kindergarten class and saw written across the giant blackboard in gigantic white chalk letters: President John F. Kennedy.
They killed Kennedy and America has never been the same since.
But the ideal remains.
The dream of a good and just America remains.
We may never get there, but we must try.
We must try.
*When I was the Iowa Democratic Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, Fifth District, in 2000, I sent a similar letter to the IRS. That year I walked from my home to Sioux City, taking about a week, to deliver the letter.
That year I also received letters from the IRS, saying I owed them $500 for frivolous filing. I received two of those letters, followed by a final letter that said they had decided to forget about the penalty.
Here are the letters from 2007, 2008:
March 1, 2008
Internal Revenue Service
3539 Southern Hills Drive
Sioux City, Iowa 51106
Enclosed is my tax form for this year.
It is crossed-out because I do not wish to cooperate with the government of George W. Bush.
President Bush has chosen to spend our tax dollars on war and killing while cutting spending on social programs.
As a Christian, I cannot go along with this.
I must protest.
702 6th Ave.
Sheldon, Iowa 51201
March 27, 2007
Internal Revenue Service
Kansas City, MO 64999-002
Enclosed is a crossed-out tax form.
I will not cooperate with the murderous regime of George W. Bush.
President Bush and his administration planned and carried out the attacks on the United States on 9-11-01, in order to attack Iraq and steal their oil.
In the eyes of Bush and Cheney and Rove, the war is going according to plan. They and their friends are making millions, billions, from the oil, from the defense industry, while the poor go without, while social services are cut in order to pay for more war and killing.
As a Christian, I cannot go along with this.
I must protest.
I recently recounted this in a conversation with my wife and my son. My son said, “I thought the idea was to pay less in taxes.” I said, well, maybe I didn’t think it out too well. We laughed.
But I did. I thought it out. I thought it out, that it was something, the best I could do. Yep, we ended up paying the fine, people had to help us, all that.
But it was something.
Not great. Something.
War Tax Resisters Fund:
Des Moines Register: Iowa War Protester Takes Stand Against IRS
ALL THINGS SELF-PROMOTIONAL
Palecek book covers, inside art pages by various artists
Ben Heine, Allison M. Healy, Ian Ward, Russell Brutsche, Brian Barber, Monty Borror, Marylyn Felion, Robert Carter, Michael Paul Miller, Anthony LeTourneau, Jeremiah Palecek, Keith McHenry
The New American Dream Radio Show:
This week’s Guests, Thursday, May 8, 2014:
Jim Fetzer, Richard Flamer, Winston Wu.
Bigfoot Howls: Actual Bigfoot howls (I think) that I recorded near our home in northern Minnesota:
Like nine million other people in the United States I call myself a writer.
And like any writer I want to be read, that’s the main thing.
And thanks to my friend and radio show co-host, Chuck Gregory, who has been helping me since, well, way back when we put out The American Dream together and I drove my car all around the country, I have been able to make my books available.
Go here for Chuck’s CWG Press.
For a long time the books have been only print books, in the $15 or so range, which might be too much to afford.
Chuck is working to put all of my books in ebook form, which puts the price down to the $5 range if you like ebooks and have a way to read them.
Right now we have:
One Last Liberal Outlaw
A Perfect Duluth Day
The American Dream
… available in ebook form, ready for ordering.
We have these books yet to put into ebook form:
Looking For Bigfoot
The Progrrressive Avenger
Joe Coffee’s Revolution
Guests of The Nation
FREE on Smashwords
The Bigfoot Chronicles
SWEAT: Global Warming in a Small Town & other tales of The Great American Westerly Midwest
Thanks for taking a look.