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I’m really sick today.. You see, when I was growing up, I was a history buff. I read childhood biographies of famous people, usually with the book behind the textbook while the teachers droned on and on, but once as a tyke, who upon seeing the obligatory National Park Film in the Williamsburg Visitors Center, after Patrick Henry sat down, I swore, I would always fight to protect the Constitution…. At that moment, even little as I was, I think I understood that I was temporary… But the Constitution like God, needed to be around forever…
With childish enthusiasm I imagined myself at times on the bridges of Lexington and Concord, roaming the swamps of South Carolina, and firing my muskets at King’s Mountain, and most importantly, crossing that line in the dirt on December 31, 1776 when no one else wanted to, to enlist till the end of the war.. . When it made the real difference, I said, I would step up at my own peril..
Today, I feel as George Washington must have, perched upon his horse on the New Jersey banks of the Hudson, watching the British inhabit New York and knowing there was nothing he or anyone else could do about it… Overmatched, the cause of freedom had taken a body slam.
Perhaps it is more like going back 2000 some years though. And being full of great optimism and hope for a burgeoning empire, a group of city states destined to prosper and rise, one whose morals would be impeccable, and suddenly without warning, ones best friend pulls out a knife and shoves it into your flesh and others pull out theirs, opening wounds where they can.
The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution states that …. oh damn, here it is in it’s entirety.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Granted there have been times, particularly at war, when protecting Americans meant going against the grain of this… If someone is about to shoot you, I mean, it certainly would help if you know about it first…..
The problem with too much accumulation of information, is that once you have it, it can be used. Assurances along the lines of “I’ll never do that”… always down the line get replace with platitudes of…. ” I did it because I could…” or… ” I needed to.”
So having every thing you’ve ever done electronically in a file instantly accessed by simply typing in your name, can be a bit disconcerting… It’s a catch 22. If you have not a single demerit because you lead such a bland life, you get castigated for being a wallflower and uninteresting. On the other hand, if you take risks to live life fully, you get castigated for the errors you made… Either way, those with the power will use it to castigate you for something…. And though disguised as their trying to put you in your place, it is really their effective attempt to prove to others they wield power…
Today’s Senate voted overwhelmingly to continue the FISA Admendments Act. Like ACTA or CISPA or any other internet freedom restricting acts, had opposition been organized, it may have demanded another outcome. But today’s bill arose out of nowhere, and leadership demanded it pass, and pass it did….
Numb today, I understand the implications. It is like we chose to keep Japanese interned in concentration camps after the war was over. It is that bad.. If we are doing it for the Japanese, eventually someone argues, why not anyone else? And really, how else can one answer such an argument except to expand the offense to a greater scale?
I didn’t find about the attempted coup until waking up 3 am today. I did see outrage that Zuckerman’s picture was Twittered off a private feed! The silence over government taking our freedom, and the outrage over the release of privacy, is a stunning comparison. It begs the question: what is wrong with all of us? Shouldn’t the outrage be the other way around?
For the first time that I can find, we as a nation, have chosen to continue a war-powers act, on into peace-time. 9/11 is gone. Bin Laden is dead. We’ve preditor’d out Al Qaieda’s 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, in command. We are out of Iraq. We will soon be out of Afghanistan. We are not in a war for our nation’s survival. So why does the government need access into every American’s email, facebook account, twitter, photo’s? Why does the FBI need to show up at your facebook friends home, with a letter stating that you are under surveillance and then asking questions of their relationship with you, then forcing their silence by telling them that they can be prosecuted themselves if they even reveal to you that they’d had contact with government officials? Gee, did you ever had a friend get weird on you suddenly, like for no reason?
Should our government be allowed to do that?
According to the text of the Fourth Amendment listed above…. Absolutely Not.
And it was over before the child in me could even get his powder cartridge out of his gunnysack…
You have a Herculean task before you… Essentially to clean up what Republicans have left behind.
However, it would be fair to warn you that my support for the Constitution of the United States of America, and my sworn duty to obey it to the best of my abilities, has me fearful of some the changes you propose for public safety. As an American, I have the right to live unsafely if I wish…
My ancestors had the same right.. They chose to come to America… and because of that… here we are today.. Our ancestors chose to travel west for opportunity, and because of it, here we are today.. Our ancestors chose to sign up and wear blue, to keep the grays from splitting us apart.. and because of that, here we are today…
I want that same right to maximise any opportunity that may present itself before me..
So, with fair warning, any criteria you propose to tame the Internet, which limits the right I hold so dear, the right to express my opinion with impunity, will cause you to lose the battle of public opinion… because I will fight you there..
The rules for engagement are as follows… YOUR PROPOSALS MUST FIT WITHIN THESE GUIDELINES… Once offered in high prose, but for everyone’s benefit today, I have put them in street language… For after all, that is where these values need to be upheld… on the streets of this great nation…
The ten basic rules are as follows…
1) You can’t tell me what to believe, or make me go home and shut up.
2) I’ll go armed and defend myself, thank you.
3) You can’t make me let someone else live in my house.
4) This is MY house; if you can’t demonstrate a compelling need to
snoop, stay the f*** out.
5) This is MY sh**; keep your greedy hands off it. And don’t go
accusing me of Evil without evidence.
6) If you’ve got evidence, lay it on the table. And no fair getting
a confession by pitchforking me in the ass.
7) I ain’t guilty just on YOUR say-so.
8) You can’t keep me in jail just because you want to.
9) As to the rest of my life, you can’t tell me what to do or not
10) And neither can your big fat uncle in Washington.
Keep these in mind.. As long as you remain within the parameter of what I have sworn to cherish and uphold, you will continue to have my support… especially the fourth, since it’s misuse directly applies to us bloggers….
Justice Scalia stated in the Guantanamo case that following the 4th Amendment to the tee, requiring a warrant, would cost American lives.
Ironically allowing handguns in DC will no doubt do the same…. That comes from following the 2nd Amendment to the tee.
Why is violating an amendment that kills people the same as enforcing an amendment that kills people? If you are going to kill off people, why not enforce ALL the amendments of the Constitution when they yield the same result?
Tyler has an account of his personal brush with Scalia, here.
This idea came to me while reading Nancy’s excellent coverage of the Senate’s consideration of the FISA bill which is under reconsideration after a weakened version was passed by the House.
Always a man of principal, Biden voted against it, because……it goes against the entire Constitution.
Likewise, always the political expedient…….Carper voted with the Republicans to push spying on American much further than at anytime in our history……
My initial thought was: what’s wrong with those Republicans….. Don’t they know that Obama will become our next president and that they have given him unlimited access to all of their confidential information?
Then, from somewhere deep, or somewhere far away…..I don’t know where… It hit me….
Whoa….. That may not be such a bad idea after all….
Let’s just take Nancy’s blog on this day as an example of how we, progressives can use that power for our own good…..
Let’s start with her comparison between Florida’s Crist and Delaware’s Minner….. Let’s assume the Delaware Natural Heritage National Park is struggling to gather support and is getting killed by developers who greedily put their own self interests above the state and national interest…..
The progressive community suddenly is emailed a tape of a certain developer in a sexual conversation with someone other than his spouse. Suddenly that developer is shadowed by a slew of silent citizens armed with digital camera phones, and fourteen pictures of him in embarrassing poses splatter the local blogosphere. Every public event in the future made by that developer becomes a defense of his morality. The issue becomes moot…..
It’s a tool that in the right hands, could make America a great place.
Any developer would have every conversation taped, and with the slightest misstepp, his sexual escapades would become the general public’s newest conversation piece….
Let’s turn our attention to local matters.
The Middletown Coalition which is working on the 301 Corridor.
Once again those developers who are trying to gum up the works, could be rendered harmless.
We would know how much they stood to make, how much they originally paid for parcels lying in the path of their preferred proposed path, and how malicious they were in their intentions to manipulate public opinion and just how much they used to grease their wheels of those making the official decision ( ie.bribes)…… With just an email to one or two blogs, within a few days, the entire state would know of the shenanigans going on behind closed doors….
And we could always threaten to enter their sexual peccadilloes (you know they have them) into the public arena…..
Just pause and think….. how easy government could become if we could just neutralize stupid developers to being non players in our states business.. “It’s a consummation…. devoutly to be wished…..” Can you imagine for a second just how easy it would be, if to get things done we had a town meeting, made a decision, and then moved on?
Or imagine if you overheard an wealthy impressionist painting was to be dumped at a public auction. Pick it up for a couple of dollars and sell it for its real worth, applying the profit made to the Cheney/Bush deficit……..
Or imagine if we had “the goods” on our own Carper and he voted our way for a change…..
Just think of the ramifications of how great life would be if we had inner knowledge of the RNC’s involvement with the coloring of Fox News. They could say what ever they wanted after that. The world would laugh at them each time…. Fox News would become Fox Snooze. Imagine if suddenly criminal charges started cropping up against executives of Fox News deriving from insider stock trades, from deliberating skewing news stories, all backed with evidence allowed only because of this new bill being proposed by Republicans. Again, the world would move forward at light speed…..
The Establishment would be forced to obey the laws of the people, and not the other way around for a change……..
Finally, imagine if the lunacy spouted from Rich Collins turned out to come from a cross dresser, or a men’s room hanky panky dude, or one of a Sussex County’s prostitution rings largest client, or a member of one of New York’s seedy bath clubs, or etc…etc… Who could take his current irrationality worth a grain of salt? The only receptive audience I can imagine who might be captivated by his current illogical statements, would be others who suffer the same persuasions…..
So Carper may be on to something. The best way to forever destroy the Republican Party and its interests, would be to simply expose it for all to see…….
It is hilarious that Republicans support their own demise…… Let them fall on their own sword I say…..At least the old FISA law offered protections to even them
Those of us who study history are often amazed how little things taking place miles away will ultimately cast a huge impact over all.
Imagine living in Georgia, waking up on April 19, 1775 working the farm, eating and going to bed without even remotely having a clue that over a thousand miles away, a shot fired would be heard around the world.
“Honey, did you hear ‘dat noise?
“Yep, somebody must be out catchin’ ‘em some food.”
And now some two hundred and thirty-three years later, after fighting first for this country, then against this country, then against opponents of that country, then against a country of opponents, and finally Georgia is where it is today.
And it all originated on a Green in the center of Lexington, Massachusetts . There, blood was spilled in defense of the truly original American notion that: I’m fed up and I’m not going to take it anymore.
Tomorrow an event of much greater magnitude will take place and probably will go unnoticed by even WDEL. Before I go on, can anyone guess what it will be?
I refer to the revised FISA bill that goes up before a Senate vote tomorrow, February 12th, 2008. Those of you who do not follow Constitutional politics may be scratching your head, wondering why this would even be considered on the scale of the Battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775.
First: some background.
FISA was originally passed after Nixon had confused the concept of National Security with that of “Nixon’s security”. Thereby assuming both were synonymous, it was morally perfectly acceptable to bug the Democratic headquarters thereby enabling Nixon to stay in power by knowing in advance where Democratic “punches” would land.
FISA didn’t change much. It just said that someone else needed to look over the Executive Branch’s shoulder, and approve and insure that American values were protected. After 9/11 Cheney used the hysteria to say that no one should be looking over their shoulder. Having someone do so would endanger our safety. Although it made little sense, many went along and allowed it to happen.
To everyones surprise but mine, these new powers were not focused on terrorists. They were used predominantly on government employees, to vet out those within the State, Energy, and Defense Departments who might latter oppose ridiculous policies when they came forth. Fortunately the legislators put an end date, thereby killing this policy on a certain date. December 31, 2005.
In a hasty move, an extension was rushed through before the Congressional August holiday, extending the powers until two Friday’s ago. ( If your computer and internet connection seems to responding better today, you now know why. )
Tomorrow a vote takes place on a replacement FISA bill. Included in this bill is a blanket protection of immunity of all telephonic companies who complied with illegal searches of citizens records: searches that had no bearing on National Security. The telephone companies answer is, as expected: “Cheney made us do it.”
In a usual courtroom case of first degree murder, twelve members of the jury usually do not acquit a murderer of a spouse and innocent children, simply because he was told by someone else to do it. However it is certainly possible, that the trigger person could deal with the D/A and get a much reduced sentence by explaining the truth as it REALLY happened. There is a benefit to society in doing so. Currently there are at least seven lawsuits against these telephony companies who broke several basic privacy laws that have stood for centuries. By granting immunity to these companies there will be no way of getting them to testify, thereby enabling the American public to determine once and for all, that no wrongdoing was evident.
Since the sweat beading on the brow of this administration and the foreheads of all the telephon execs is telling, their innocence appears doubtful.
Therefore this ploy of granting immunity can be seen as an attempt to protect the “evil doers”, those very same who wish to undermine all American values.
The House has voted “No” shutting out any immunity for the telecoms. The only hope left to Cheney is for the Senate to vote Yes and then in secret negotiations with the House, re-add these immunity parts to this bill.
In the Senate, a yes vote looks likely, partly in thanks to Tom Carper. Hence, those few Senators still not compromised by Cheney, nor bought out by the telephony corporations, will attempt a last stand by use of a filibuster on the Senate floor. Chris Dodd leads the charge beginning with the procedural statement, ( Mr. President, I refuse to yield.) He will be joined by Russ Feingold, Ted Kennedy, and now, Patrick Leahy, each who will jump in with a question to the Senator long enough to insure that no puddles stain the Congressional carpet. These precious few will attempt to hold the floor until enough heat is put on the administration and Harry Ried by you, the public, forcing them to fold their hand.
So why is this important?
Great question. Up until this point the United States has been a nation created for the people, of the people, and by the people. If this bill goes forward, we will have switched our interpretation of the Constitution and become a nation for the corporation, of the corporation, and by the corporation. In other words, the needs of the corporation will from this point hence, take precedence over the needs of the citizen.
Some of us think that is just wrong. Corporations can’t vote. But with enough money and creative advertising, they can steer us to vote for who they want. But didn’t our ancestors fight so that we could be free and independent, and not beholden to some corporation?
Of course in a sense we are beholden to corporations most of our lives. Does one own your house? Your car? Does one cover your automobile accidents, your heath cost overruns? Does one supply your power, your fuel, our your paycheck? Stop and think for a moment just how much of your personal income is turned over to our corporations. Most if not all?
Now I don’t mine being beholden to a corporation if I am getting something that I want: a house, a car, a flat screen TV, especially if I couldn’t have any of those things without their help. But to have no recourse, and be forced to vote their way on issues, only because they know secrets of my past known to no one else, sends our country down the path to more corporatedom, than is good for the people. Essentially this bill will change Bedford Falls into Pottersville.
This bill tomorrow will help determine whether we hasten down the dark path of corporate domination, or whether we have tools at our disposal to check them and balance things when they step out of line. Will we be in charge, or will they?
This bill decides.
Right now, those corporations who chose to spy for the Bush administration are desperately trying to escape criminal prosecution. But if this precedent is allowed, any future corporations whether seeking past due amounts, or fishing to break your lease or steal your property, will always refer back to this bill to justify their further encroachment of our rights.
Little know fact: In Delaware three years ago, one jury actually took a stand, declaring by their verdict that even in the most justifiable of circumstances, even when used against the most odious, sickening elements of humanity, privacy issues were sacred and could not be touched.
There is precedent here. A jury of twelve random people has forced upon a court the decision that neither private individuals, nor corporations have any right whatsoever to release another’s private history. Tomorrow it is time our government itself become subject to the same laws as its citizens.
So while you go about your daily duties, somewhere far away, a handful of very motivated and angry Senators, are fighting for your’s and your grand children’s right to privacy. Whether they succeed or fail, their ripple in time will be felt perhaps as long as the next two hundred and thirty three years….
Finally a judge with backbone. In Oregon, two provisions of the Patriotic Act were deemed unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken. In her words it is obvious that the Patriot Act “now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”
The decision is an outgrowth from the mistaken abduction of a Portland lawyer as the perpetrator of the Madrid Train Bombings. In his earlier lawsuit, Brandon Mayfield won from the Department of Justice, the right to challenge the Patriot Act on some future date.
In her opinion, Ms Aiken noted:
“For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law — with unparalleled success. A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised,” she wrote.
Earlier in response to the governments request to have the lawsuit dismissed, Ms Aiken responded that the U.S. attorney general’s office was “asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so.”