Free Markets, Free People

rights

Cell phone jamming: violation of civil rights or good law enforcement tactic?

I come down on the side of the former – a violation of my civil rights.  When does the government unilaterally get to decide  if I’m able to talk to someone (or communicate by other means, such as Twitter) on a device I’ve contracted with a private company and for which they provide service?  When it sees a compelling public safety risk. 

And what would define that public safety risk?    Well that’s kind of up in the air.  Take the expected riots in Chicago for the NATO summit.

Apparently that qualifies

According to the Daily Beast, a little known Bush era regulation gives law enforcement the ability to jam cell phones … you know like they did in Tehran when the people attempted to stand up to their government.  Or Syria?

Not only do the FBI and Secret Service have standing authority to jam signals, but they along with state and local authorities can also push for the shutdown of cell towers, thanks to a little-known legacy of the Bush administration: “Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) 303," which lays out the nation’s official “Emergency Wireless Protocols.”

The protocols were developed after the 2005 London bombings in a process that calls to mind an M.C. Escher work. First, the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) formed a task force— composed of anonymous government officials and executives from Cingular, Microsoft, Motorola, Sprint, and Verizon—that issued a private report to President Bush. Another acronym-dragging committee, also meeting in secret, then approved the task force’s recommendations. Thus, according to NSTAC’s 2006–07 annual issue review, SOP 303 was born.

"In time of national emergency," the review says, SOP 303 gives “State Homeland Security Advisors, their designees, or representatives of the DHS Homeland Security Operations Center” the power to call for “the termination of private wireless network connections… within an entire metropolitan area.” The decision is subject to review by the National Coordinating Center, a government-industry group responsible for the actual mechanics of the shutdown. The NCC is supposed to “authenticate” the shutdown via “a series of questions.” But SOP 303 does not specify, at least not publicly, what would constitute a “national emergency,” or what questions the NCC then asks “to determine if the shutdown is a necessary action.”

“[T]he termination of private wireless network connections …”.  That should send a chill up your spine.  This is the realm of dictatorship. 

What if I have nothing to do with whatever the disturbance in the area might be?  What if I have an emergency?  What if I can’t get to a land line?  Who in the hell are these people to deny me access to a private service I pay for and they don’t?

And all for their convenience, because that’s the point.  Protesters use wireless services and social media like Twitter to organize.

Instead of Law Enforcement learning to monitor that and react sufficiently well to blunt its effect, they prefer to use the sledge hammer approach and shut down service to all in an area.

I have a contract with a provider.  That provider agrees to provide me uninterrupted service for payment.  I pay.  Government decides to void that contract at its own whim and possibly endanger my life and safety by doing so.

Oh, and here’s a little ground truth:

“It’s the nature of law enforcement to push the envelope,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police instructor and professor of police practice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s act first and litigate second.”

Understatement of the year.  For instance:

While it’s against the law for individuals or nongovernmental organizations to sell or use jammers, the devices are easily found online. The U.S. military was among the first to use communications shutdowns, and local government demand for the technology has been building for years, even as the legal rules for its use have remained ill-defined. Prison wardens want to snuff out the use of smuggled cellphones by inmates; school officials hope to disable students’ phones; the National Transportation Safety Board wants to disable all “portable electronic devices within reach of the driver” while cars are in motion.

I’m sure you can dream up many more rights abusing nanny state scenarios (yeah, jamming illegal prison cell phones actually seems legit) than those listed.  Imagine a state banning cell phone use in cars and installing jammers along all major highways.  Imagine a car wreck with injuries.  Imagine the law suits to follow.

For once the ACLU and I are on the same side:

The ACLU, Verizon, and a coalition of public-interest groups noted that cellphone blackouts would, with few exceptions, violate the Constitution and federal communication law, as well as threaten public safety by eliminating the means to share vital information or call 911.

But:

Now other efforts to cut through the legal haze have emerged. In response to the wireless shutdown in San Francisco last summer, California State Sen. Alex Padilla introduced what would be a first-of-its-kind bill stipulating that to cut off service a judge must sign off that the move is necessary to avert “significant dangers to public health, safety or welfare.” If approved, the bill, which has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, could become the gold standard for state policy. San Francisco transit officials codified their own policy, which remains quite vague, after the public backlash to their shutdown. It calls for “strong evidence” of dangerous and unlawful activity, a belief that an interruption will “substantially reduce the likelihood of such an activity” and that the interruptions are “narrowly tailored.”

No.  That agrees to the premise that government should have that power and then tries to define it “narrowly”.  I don’t agree with the premise of government’s right to do this.  If they want to talk about an exceptional power in time of a declared National Emergency, I’m willing to listen.  But we all know how wide “narrowly” becomes when law enforcement is given an ability to use such a power.  They’ll use it for their convenience, screw your rights.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Ruminations about SCOTUS/ObamaCare

A lot has been said and written about the oral arguments before the Supreme Court concerning ObamaCare.  Many have claimed you can’t base much on such arguments.

Perhaps.  But it seems to me that you can get an indication of the mood of the court if you consider them carefully and keep them in context.

What I’ve surmised over the past few days is the law is in deep trouble.  I think, if nothing else, the oral arguments pointed out how dismally weak and poor the arguments “for” this law are.

Of course, depending on how they would like to see the court rule, each side has found ways to spin these arguments to support their hoped for result.  No huge surprise there.

But I think the one thing that is clear is the court is pretty well split down the middle and along ideological lines.  And, as we’ve said for some time, in reality the result will hinge on the vote of Justice Kennedy.

However, I think you have to keep in mind that it won’t be a single ruling but one which entails several votes.  One on the individual mandate, one on severability and possibly, depending on how the severability vote goes, if portions or the whole bill ought to be struck down.  If the whole law is struck down, of course the expanded Medicare portion discussed yesterday will go with it.

That leaves you wondering where Kennedy is in his deliberation of the case.  Again, if looking at indications to be gleaned from the oral arguments, one could assume he finds it true that the individual mandate would “fundamentally change” the citizen’s relationship with government – and not to the citizen’s favor.  I think it is also true that he is not satisfied that the government has successfully articulated a “limiting principle” – a critical and key point in the discussion.

Finally, I get the impression, from yesterday’s arguments, that Kennedy is leaning toward “paving over” the whole law.  In other words, giving Congress a “do over” since taking the mandate out would create a law and a consequence that it is hard to argue was Congress’s original intent.  What is also interesting is the developing opinion that striking down the entire law would actually be an exercise in judicial restraint, not judicial activism.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Mr. Clement is asking the Court to conduct "a wrecking operation," before stating that "the more conservative approach would be salvage rather than throwing out everything." The Obama Administration didn’t say exactly that, but it did argue that the mandate is indispensable to its supposedly well-oiled regulatory scheme and if it is thrown out the insurance rules should be too.

But Justice Anthony Kennedy doubted Justice Ginsburg’s logic, since by taking out only the individual mandate the Court would in effect be creating a new law that Congress "did not provide for, did not consider." To wit, costs would soar without any mechanism to offset them.

"When you say judicial restraint," Justice Kennedy said, "you are echoing the earlier premise that it increases the judicial power if the judiciary strikes down other provisions of the act. I suggest to you it might be quite the opposite." Overturning the mandate alone, he continued, "can be argued at least to be a more extreme exercise of judicial power than to strike the whole."

This is a critical point.

I think it is clear the 4 justices traditionally identified with the liberal side of the court are fore-square for the law and will find some way to justify it’s egregious and unconstitutional over-reach.  And yes, no secret, I’ve always considered the law to be that and nothing I’ve heard in oral arguments has changed that.  I think Justices Thomas, Alito and Scalia are for finding the mandate unconstitutional and for killing the entire law.  I think Chief Justice Roberts is against the mandate although I’m not sure it’s a foregone conclusion that he wants to kill the entire law at this point.   However I think he’ll be persuaded eventually.

That would make Kennedy the guy … again.   No surprise for most who’ve watched the court for the past few sessions.  He often ends up as the swing guy.  You may disagree with my assessment of where he is in his decision making process, but his questions and comments, at least to me, seemed to indicate he was forming a particular opinion and that opinion favored both striking down the mandate and then striking down the whole law.

Should that be the case, and given the Democrats are unlikely to have an unassailable majority in Congress anytime soon as they did when they passed this monstrosity, this is indeed “the most important case in 50 years”.   That’s a “good thing” because the likelihood that a “replacement” will be passed in Congress becomes much less likely.   Kennedy’s vote could save America as we know it and protect us from a law that would “fundamentally” change our relationship with government and place us in a position of involuntary servitude to a government given license to run our lives in pretty much any way it see’s fit to pursue.

Here’s hoping.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Egypt, “Arab Spring” and International Women’s Day

Gotta love it (he said sarcastically):

The Freedom and Justice Party, political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, says it does not endorse gender discrimination, although the Brotherhood argues women should not be allowed to rule the country.

The party is the dominant bloc in both houses of parliament after a sweeping victory in a multi-phase general election that began in November. Women hold just two percent of the seats in parliament.

Because, you know, not allowing women to rule the country isn’t “gender discrimination” as the Muslim Brotherhood sees it (they too are adept at redefining words apparently).

A women’s conference organized by the dominant Islamist bloc in the Egyptian parliament has called for a council for families to replace the existing National Council for Women, a state-owned daily reported on Friday.

The conference, held Thursday on International Women’s Day, also condemned the 1978 U.N. convention against gender discrimination saying it was “incompatible with the values of Islamic sharia” law, the Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

Remember, the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate organization, or so say our apologists in the West.  And, as all can see, it is taking a very moderate position by making women 2nd class citizens in their own country again.

But *cough, cough* they don’t “endorse” gender discrimination.  Got it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Mad at Federal Government? Burn up other people’s property

The suspect in the LA arson fires is Harry Burkhart.  Burkhart lives in Hollywood.  What else do you need to know?

According to law enforcement sources, Burkhart has been involved in a dispute with federal immigration officials.

Burkhart appears to have been battling the U.S. government over the immigration status of his mother.

His solution?  Burning up other people’s property.

A string of 53 fires mostly destroyed the property of people he didn’t know and who had nothing to do with his dispute with the government.

The Los Angeles Times reports that it appears a U.S. State Department source pointed to Burkhart after he unleashed an anti-American tirade in U.S. immigration court recently, apparently in reaction to his mother’s reported deportation: A government official recognized him as resembling the man in the Hollywood+Highland surveillance video and alerted local authorities.

Oh, and his mom?

One woman told the [radio] station that the mother had indicated to her that her son wasn’t all right in the head.

Ya think?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Zuccotti Park cleared–enforcement of property rights? Or just the result of political pressure?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally made the decision to evict the OWS protesters from Zuccotti Park last night.  His decision, he claims, had to do with public health and safety.

Some time after 6 a.m., New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a written statement that while he supports the First Amendment rights of the protesters, his greater priority is protecting the public’s health and safety, and he took full responsibility for the “final decision to act.”

“Unfortunately, the park was becoming a place where people came not to protest but, rather, to break laws, and in some cases, to harm others,” Bloomberg said, noting that for some residents of the area, noise and unsanitary conditions of the Occupy camp had created “an intolerable situation.”

He added: “The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out — but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others — nor does it permit anyone in our society to live outside the law. There is no ambiguity in the law here — the First Amendment protects speech — it does not protect the use of tents and sleeping bags to take over a public space.”

Well there is ambiguity (there’s also a right to peaceful assembly although it is arguable the assembly has been peaceful), but note the thing he doesn’t site – property rights.  Or at least not directly.  He sorta, kinda alludes to it when he talks about the “exclusion of others”.  That’s a privately owned park which has been literally taken over by the OWS group and its owners have been denied the ability to make decisions about its use.  Why not just say the occupiers (because that’s what they call themselves – perhaps squatters is a better description) have been declared trespassers and removed?  To easy?

One of the pernicious problems I see all the time when it comes to government officials is their selective enforcement of property rights.   It seems to me that once the exclusionary tactics were applied where those who owned the park were excluded from using it as they wish, they had every right in the world to demand the eviction of the protesters. 

I obviously don’t know what the company that holds those rights had to say because it seems they weren’t really even given a voice in that sort of decision.  On the other hand, had they decided that it was good use of their property and gone along with the OWS protesters, shouldn’t their decision about their property had some weight?

I guess what I’m getting at is that other than a mention here and there, no one knows much about the owners or their druthers.

I’m actually sympathetic with the city’s reasons for clearing the park.  I think Bloomberg is exactly right.  But my larger point is where are the property owners in all of this.  Why aren’t they an integral part of this process? 

Property rights have been under assault in this country for some time.   The abominable Kelo decision was the cherry on top of the sundae that has all but destroyed those rights.   More and more I see government deciding how private property will be used and only enforcing laws on trespassing and the like when it serves their purpose (in this case I imagine that the pressure from those who lived nearby finally got to the point that Bloomberg was forced to act).

The right to private property (and its exclusive use) is a foundational right from which many other rights spring.  Like so much in this country, government has moved in on that right and while giving it lip service has intruded to such an extent in its execution that it is arguable if the right can be exercised properly anymore.  When that right is subsumed, all of our rights are in jeopardy.

We’ll see how much they’re in jeopardy with the upcoming ObamaCare decision.  It will either give us a new lease on our rights or, it may end up being the final nail in their coffin.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Health Care: When talking about liberty and rights is radical and extreme

The other day, Michelle Bachman said:

“We will always have people in this country through hardship, through no fault of their own, who won’t be able to afford health care,” Bachmann said. “That’s just the way it is. But usually what we have are charitable organizations or hospitals who have enough left over so that they can pick up the cost for the indigent who can’t afford it.”

That initiated the usual reaction from the left:

Before the advent of Medicare and Medicaid, charities did provide health care to those in need. But to suggest that they can do the same today is to misunderstand the enormity of the health care crisis, as charities simply do not have the capacity to handle the demand. As the number of uninsured creeps up to 50 million, for any politician to argue that government should outsource the task of keeping Americans healthy to charities is like saying that people should be punished with death if they are unfortunate enough to be poor or are priced out of insurance due to a pre-existing health condition.

And that’s one of the more family friendly reactions.

But let’s look at it.   First question, why is it that “charities simply do not have the capacity to handle the demand?”  Any takers?

Is it because there are no established charitable programs in place anymore because government usurped the need for them with Medicare and Medicaid?   Perhaps not wholly, but it certainly is one of the reasons.   Charities, like any other organization, focus their giving where there is a need.   And where no one else, usually, is helping.   No need, no priority, no charity.

Secondly, you see the insidious conclusion that “the demand” that would strain the capacity of charities can only be met by … government, of course.  Naturally there’s no way to really test that conclusion because government has destroyed the market for charitable health care giving.

So, as usual, government has helped create the problem (lack of charitable institutions focused on providing health care for poor) and now, according to the left, the government is the answer to the problem it created.  It may not be something you traditionally consider a market (charitable giving in health care) but there’s no question that government intrusion into the health care market changed the dynamic completely.

And finally the unspoken premise: Health care is a human right.  Sorry, but health isn’t even a “human right”.  Obviously health care requires the labor of others.   It requires their time and the abilities they’ve developed over the years.  It is their property to dispose of as they will. But bottom line, health care requires the labor of others in order to fulfill this assumed right.  

Clue: To be a right, the right must not violate the rights of others.  It cannot take precedence or priority over someone’s right to decide how to use their property – i.e. their developed and marketable abilities.   Period.  That’s slavery.   Here we see another twisting of a word that denotes a condition of freedom and liberty into one that demands virtual slavery from others.

You may or may not agree with Michelle Bachman’s statement.  But, in reality it is the way a truly free country should work.  Instead we seem to opt for “government is always the answer” (even when it is the entity that created the problem) and coercion is just fine for fulfilling utopian dreams.

Hard to call that “free” isn’t it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

OWS and NY neighborhood not getting along at all

Yes the rabble that calls itself Occupy Wall Street has those that live in the neighborhood of Zuccotti Park less than receptive to them or whatever their still undefined message is:

"They are defecating on our doorsteps," fumed Catherine Hughes, a member of Community Board 1 and a stay at home mom who has the misfortune of living one block from the chaos. "A lot of people are very frustrated. A lot of people are concerned about the safety of our kids."

See, the rabble demand “rights” but they apparently can’t find it in themselves to respect the rights of others, such as property.

Or the ability to walk down a street without being harassed:

Fed up homeowners said that they’ve been subjected to insults and harassment as they trek to their jobs each morning. "The protesters taunt people who are on their way to work," said James Fernandez, 51, whose apartment overlooks the park.

Or something as simple as keeping the noise in the neighborhood down:

"It’s mostly a noise issue," he said. If people can’t sleep and children can’t sleep because the protesters are banging drums then that’s a problem."

[…]

One elderly woman told a protester to stop screaming and was met with an even higher volume. "Get some earplugs!" retorted David Spano. "This is the street. I can say whatever I want! I can’t calm down, I’ve been struggling for 30 years!"

Nothing more ignorant than a man who claims his “rights” preclude any responsibility to anyone else.  Most understand that as both selfish and clueless.  Respect the rights of others?  Hey, this is a “revolution”, he’s been struggling for 30 years and that gives him better  “rights”.

At a standing room only Community Board meeting, members of the community voiced their anger, frustration and indignation to board members who essentially agreed.  They want something done.

Now comes the fun part for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  These people complaining are voters.   They’re the people who put him in office.   They want action.

Stay tuned.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

No Cojones — Jerry Brown blows off his responsibility to safeguard the rights of Californian’s

I have to say, the position CA governor Jerry Brown has taken on warrantless cell phone searches is a total abdication of his responsibility to the citizens of California:

California Gov. Jerry Brown is vetoing legislation requiring police to obtain a court warrant to search the mobile phones of suspects at the time of any arrest.

The Sunday veto means that when police arrest anybody in the Golden State, they may search that person’s mobile phone — which in the digital age likely means the contents of persons’ e-mail, call records, text messages, photos, banking activity, cloud-storage services, and even where the phone has traveled.

Brown’s excuse for vetoing it?

Brown’s veto message abdicated responsibility for protecting the rights of Californians and ignored calls from civil liberties groups and this publication to sign the bill — saying only that the issue is too complicated for him to make a decision about. He cites a recent California Supreme Court decision upholding the warrantless searches of people incident to an arrest. In his brief message, he also doesn’t say whether it’s a good idea or not.

Instead, he says the state Supreme Court’s decision is good enough, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court let stand last week.

“The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizure protections,” the governor wrote.

What wonderful reasoning, huh? Jerry Brown would never have had a problem with Plessey v. Ferguson because, you know, the court’s decision would have been viewed by him as “good enough”.

Why not make them decide then while coming down on the side of the citizens who believe that device is something which shouldn’t have open access to government?   Why not approve the bill and make the court decide it is wrong and must be repealed.  Why not make the court justify such searches?  Why not come down on the side of privacy and against the invasion of privacy?

Isn’t that what government is supposed to do – protect the rights of its citizens from unlawful search and seizure?  Brown has decided it is up to the citizens to sue to stop such an invasion and not him.  So he’s going to side with those who believe that there is no inherent right to privacy when it comes to one’s cell phone and make the citizen’s of California seek protection in the courts.

Total abdication of responsibility by an elected official – something that has become more and more commonplace even though, in most cases, not as blatant.  This is an assault on the 4th Amendment and it is being aided and abetted by a sitting governor.

Radley Balko notes the abdication as well and references something one of his commenters pointed out:

Cell phones are also not simple “containers” to the extent that modern phones show both local data and vastly more data information stored in cloud services, often all integrated together seamlessly to the user. These law enforcement searches are actually retrieving information stored in “containers” elsewhere.

In other words, this gives them instant access to data for which they’d otherwise have to get a warrant. It allows police to go far beyond searching just the device itself.  It allows them access to records and data far removed from where the search is taking place without a warrant. 

Now, you tell me: how difficult, assuming probable cause exists, would it be for the police to hold the device, submit probable cause to a judge and obtain a warrant without losing any of the expected “evidence” the phone would provide?

And, how many of you believe, given this abdication by Brown, that police won’t take advantage of and use “traffic stops” to seized and search cell phones of those they suspect of other crimes?

Yeah, they’d never do that.

Isn’t it the job of a governor to err on the side of the citizen’s rights?

Governor Brown should be ashamed – mortified – at the abdication of his role as protector of the people of his state.   And the people of his state should do what is right and make sure that when the time comes, he’s given his walking papers.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Competing concepts–why the left’s concept of government is dangerous and immoral

The left’s operating concept for government can be found in the words of Valarie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior advisor.  In her words are the very reasons why the left mostly fails when it comes to very basic things like job creation and relieving unemployment.   It is all to be found in the way they envision the role of government.  They don’t see government as an enabler – a role it does and should play – but instead as a provider.   And that was never a part of the vision of our founders.

 This is what Jarrett said to a lay Episcopal group in Washington D.C. on September 21, 2011 about the Obama jobs bill and the role of government.

JARRETT: He has a vision for our country, and I think his America Jobs Act’s a very positive signal about what we could do instantly to create some jobs because we know that’s the backbone of our community. We have to give people a livelihood so that they can provide for their families.

JARRETT: And its a vision, I think his is a moral vision, it’s a deeply it’s a vision based based very deeply in values. And taking care of the least of these, and making sure that we are creating a country that is a country for everybody not just for the very very wealthy. We are working hard to lift people out of poverty and give them a better life, and a footing, and that’s what government is suppose to do.

JARRETT: What he has said is that he is not willing to balance our budget on backs of the least of these, those who are most vulnerable those who depend so steeply on the safety net programs that our country….that is like a rock and foundation of our country. He says I am not willing to [inaudible] Medicare [inaudible], I’m not willing to hurt Social Security, I am not willing to make those choices while the very wealthy and the corporations and the most profitable are not paying their fair share.

There are many things to talk about in those three paragraphs.  The first, of course, is no government program will “instantly create some jobs”.  At least not in the sense of permanent jobs.  Oh it may be able to gin up some make work jobs – eventually.  But those aren’t the productive permanent private economy jobs that we so desperately need.  Government jobs are rarely productive economy building jobs.  They’re also rarely permanent.  Creating a few hundred thousand temporary construction jobs weather stripping schools is not going to pull us out of the economic crisis.  And most likely those jobs will end up costing more than they’re worth and doing little to address the real fundamental problems the economy faces.

But the real problem here is one of philosophy.  The line that bothers me most is the one which ends with “that’s what government is supposed to do”.  No.  It’s not what government is supposed to do.  Or at least that wasn’t the design laid out in the Constitution of the United States.  What was laid out there was a mechanism to enable private individuals to do those things necessary to improve their lives and productivity without using force or fraud to do it.  What Jarret is pushing the left’s vision of government’s role.

Government, as created by the founders, is there to enable and protect.  But it isn’t there to “do” what is claimed by Jarrett.  Because the founders knew that in order to “do” what Jarrett claims it would need much broader and intrusive powers.  And they knew that a government with broad and intrusive powers would continue to grant itself even more broad and intrusive powers while the citizens of the country were slowly bled of their power and rights.  Look around you – that’s precisely what has happened.

As brutal is this may sound, the beginning of this decline in freedom began with the institution of public safety nets and the dependency on government they brought.  Callus?   No, truthful.  Once a dependent class was created and justified (and could be relied upon to vote for the continuation of the welfare state), the current situation was assured – it wasn’t a matter of “if” we’d eventually find ourselves in the plight we find ourselves now, but “when”.

When is now.  Government dependency, which has precipitated its continued growth, has put us in the position of ruin.  Those who’ve whole heartedly helped us on the way and buy into this charade completely are now trying to sell the myth that our dire shape isn’t because of their well-intentioned but ruinous profligacy in the name of social justice, but the very wealthy and corporations – the very engine that has allowed them to keep this model alive for as long as they have – is the problem.  They’re not paying their “fair share”.  And the implication, of course, is if they would, all would be sunshine and roses.  That it is, in fact, because of them, and not the unsustainable welfare state these people have built, that we’re on the edge of the cliff.

Of course any rational person who has taken the time to look into what our politicians have done over the years and how unsustainable it is knows better than to buy into this line of pure and unadulterated nonsense.

Yet the shills and snake oil salesmen still push the myth and try to shift the blame to keep the belief that this situation is viable if only those filthy rich and corporations would finally pay their “fair share”.

It is personally frustrating for me to see people like Jarrett talk about “moral visions” when what she is pushing is a deeply immoral concept. 

Their model has failed the world over in many, many forms, caused true misery and yet there are true believers who simply refuse to accept that reality and feel the only reason that it hasn’t worked yet is because they weren’t in charge.

And when they finally do get their chance, this is the inevitable result.

Do we have a moral obligation to help others less fortunate than ourselves?  That’s for each of us to decide, not some nameless, faceless bureaucrat or leviathan government.   Should we provide for them? Again, that’s something we should decide and if we decide to do so, find a means of doing it.  But should government be in the business of redistributing the income of some to others.  I find nothing “moral” about that and, in fact, find it to be very immoral, because it eliminates my choice, overrides my priorities and essentially promises violence from the state if I don’t comply. 

That is neither freedom or liberty.  And last time I checked, those were the concepts this nation was founded upon.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

All the trappings of a police state

Imagine living in a place where the authorities can record everything you say or do without your consent, however if you do the same – for your own protection – that’s a felony punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

Sound like a place you’d want to live?

In fact, that’s precisely the case in Illinois. Watch this illuminating 15 minute video. If it doesn’t make you furious, then you simply don’t care about your Constitutionally guaranteed rights. And you’re perfectly fine with the creeping fascism that seems to be infecting parts of our country:

 

Recording conversations and events pertinent to your legal situation, standing and rights, especially when dealing with public officials in their official capacity, should not be in question.  Ever.  Wanting a record makes perfect sense and, as you might imagine, has a tendency to keep conversations and actions in line with the law and on a much more polite and civil level.

Most importantly, it is something you must have every a right to do.  Why is it they get a legal right to privacy (i.e. can deny consent) when the citizen doesn’t enjoy the same right?   That’s not how I understand the purpose of the Constitution and the rights it guarantees the citizens.  It is government it prohibits from violating the rights of citizens not the other way around.

I can certainly understand the law saying one must inform a public official that he or she is being recorded (a simple, “hey, I’m recording this” would suffice), but beyond that, I see no requirement that they give obtain consent for that recording to continue, especially while the public official is acting within their official capacity and executing the duties of their office. 

What this gentleman is going through is simply an exercise in raw power designed to intimidate.  Obviously the law needs to be changed and changed expeditiously.  But if that doesn’t happen – and it appears it won’t – his best chance is a jury trial.   Most people with any sense are going to reject the government’s case as overbearing, a violation of a citizen’s rights and just plain old un-American.  And as you can see in the video, any attempt to solicit information about the case from public officials was ignored.  That should tell you a lot about how confident they are about the case.

Bottom line: This is an example of the creeping fascism that is infecting our country.  This is “let me see your papers” territory.   And it needs to be firmly and swiftly nipped in the bud.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO