Posts Tagged ‘rights’

Follow-Up on the PATRIOT Act.

9. February 2011

Well, you all did it, congratulations! The PATRIOT Act failed to receive the necessary two-thirds of votes necessary to pass it on the suspension calendar, so the three provisions that were set to expire will now do so, it seems. They were eight votes short of the two-thirds majority and the eight votes that were being counted upon by the GOP leadership that did not vote for the Act were all tea party freshmen. To them, I extend my greatest thanks.

I know my Representative voted for the legislation again, but if you don’t know how yours voted, you can go here and see. Democrats are italicized, Republicans are not, North Texan representatives are all in the Yea box.

As this was assumed by all–including me, to be honest–to be a sure thing to vote to extend the sunset provision, I believe that this has been an important step in refocusing our nation’s security practices back into the realm of constitutionality and sanity. When we find that the government’s capacity to “keep its citizens safe” (although that is fully an impossibility, but I will address this fact in a separate post) is not diminished after the hopeful retirement of the PATRIOT Act, I hope that we as a nation will see how silly and counterproductive that legislation was.

What good is living “safely” if you are not free to live securely in your person, without fear of arbitrary and unannounced government intrusion therein?



7. February 2011

The USA PATRIOT Act is up for reauthorization in the House tomorrow. Unfortunately, there are only forty minutes of scheduled debate and no opportunities for amendments. Please write your Representative and tell them not to vote for it under these conditions. The PATRIOT Act abridges your rights in the name of national security. A power so unlimited in the hands of the government deserves to be well-regulated and well-debated.

If you would like to write your Representative, I have a form letter below that you may feel free to use, or you may compose your own email.

Representative __________,
I implore you, do not vote for a suspension calendar with the USA PATRIOT Act on it. Though terrorism can be a threat, there are more effective ways to fight it than allowing for a suspension of Americans’ constitutional rights and allowing roving wiretaps, secret searches and other breaches of personal privacy and security.

You certainly have the security of the nation at heart, of that I have no doubt, but I beg you to recognize that by supporting an Act of dubious constitutionality and the restriction of law-abiding Americans’ rights, you might be inadvertently bringing about the end goal of the terrorists: the destruction of the American society which you and I both value so greatly.

Thank you for your time,

If you would like to write your Representative but are unsure who that is, you may quickly find that information here.

Nine Years Later.

11. September 2010

We all know what happened on September 11, 2001. No one alive for that can escape memories on this ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. I’d just like to share a few revelations that I came by a few weeks ago that is rather pertinent to today.

In the height of the mosqueversy, my father found himself looking up the footage from the morning of September 11. We watched the coverage from all of the old news shows and the films by people who were in the vicinity that morning. We saw innumerable shots of the planes flying into the buildings, shots which ought to have been unimaginable, but are now accepted as reality. We even saw some clips of the people jumping. Those are really the shots that prompted me to write this.

Can you imagine being in that position? I can’t. You literally have to choose between burning to death or jumping out of a window. Those are your only two choices left to you as a human being about the direction your life will take. Nothing you did made you deserving of this fate. I honestly cannot fathom what it was like to have to make that choice. But there were people that had to.

What right did those terrorists have to put these people in that position? None. There was nothing that justified the indiscriminate murder of these people who had simply gone to work one morning, as they had done for years or decades before. No one should have the ability to put anyone in a position where they have to choose a slow, agonizingly painful death of fire or an eleven second death of free-falling off of the ledge of a building.

I must admit, thinking about what the terrorists did confused and angered me. How could you do this to someone? How could you justify this to yourself? What right do you have to kill these people, or give them the choice between two terrifying deaths? Almost nine years after it had happened, I was still infuriated at these terrorists. No one should be able to force other people to make those sort of choices.

But the fact is that they can. They have, and they very well might again. I’d just like to ask everyone to think about the kinds of horrors that people have done in the name of groups. Religious, nationalistic and social affiliations have caused uncountable deaths over the course of time. The Crusades, the World Wars, all of the civil wars throughout the world, the Ku Klux Klan, the IRA, these are all examples of unnecessary deaths motivated by group ties. The fallacy inherent in that is that these groups are somehow more valuable than the individuals of which they are comprised.

But the individual is traditionally, in America, the exalted form of society. We are guaranteed individual rights by the Constitution and our justice system was set up so that the individual has many protections against the establishment or state. We are spoken to of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that’s what we’ve come to expect. We’ve got to have our lives and liberties in order to get a chance at happiness. But in the name of groups and their all-important goals, we lose liberties and, oftentimes, lives.

Sometimes we–“we” being humans–have the tendency to make important decisions based on the actions of a few in the name of many. Sometimes we tend to ignore the trees for the forest, if I might paraphrase a bit.

What I propose is that we stop hating people based on their group affiliations. Stop hating the Muslims because of what the terrorists did. Stop hating all Americans because of the foreign policy made by a few people who have been dead or out of office for decades. Hell, stop hating all Americans because of the foreign policy crafted by those who have recently left office. If you’re going to hate someone, do it because of what he or she did. If you want to hate me, do it because you hate something I’ve done. Hate me because I insulted you or because I hit you and didn’t apologize or because I wouldn’t let you copy my paper. But don’t hate all libertarians or Americans or white people or women because of what I did. And don’t hate me because I’m an American and you don’t like what some other American did.

What I propose is that we keep the individual at the forefront of our thoughts when we make decisions. Before saying that you can sacrifice the lives of a few because it may advance progress toward a certain goal of a particular group, think about it. The motivations are not the same, surely, but the result may be. People, real, breathing humans, may be forced to make the decision between two certain deaths because of what we do.


24. March 2010

The Senate healthcare bill passed. Yesterday, President Obama signed it into law. Mark Levin and the AGs of several states are suing for various reasons (though the two are not filing jointly.)

Other than that, I have nothing to say. Anything I say now is probably something that one of the various internet/print/television pundits has already said many times over. The bill is bad. It’s unconstitutional, and none of the Democrats who voted for the bill care about that. In the immor(t)al words of Alcee Hastings, “There ain’t no rules here, we’re trying to accomplish something…all this talk about rules…when the deal goes down, we make ’em up as we go along.”

Hopefully the bill gets struck down by the Supreme Court. Though, I’m afraid that it will be too late, if the ruling does ever come. Government entitlements, once enacted, are almost impossible to repeal.

I would like to thank the 34 Democrats that voted no, for whichever reason, be it reelection campaigns or a real opposition to the bill. It was real’ nice of y’all.

I would also like to condemn Bart Stupak for selling out in the end. After all of the time he spent saying that he would not vote for the bill unless the wording was changed, he capitulated in the end for a useless document that did not achieve what he originally wanted. You’re a real stand-up guy, Bart. Way to stick to your principles in the face of adversity.

We’ll get through it somehow, though. The 2010 midterms are going to be a really fun thing to watch.

Why Must the Government Do It?

24. March 2010

“First, I propose that the government set up a study to find out the effects of outsourcing.”

I heard these words in a speech by a student in the University of Mississippi in my public policy class. As far as I can tell the speaker is a conservative, not that you could tell that by the content of this sentence. It seems that even the most conservative of students feel that when the problem is big, it’s time to turn to the public sector for the solution.

Be it a result of the government-contrilled public schooling in which most of today’s youth is raised or smply a dependence on goernment which permeates its culture, this disease is both widespread and deadly. If the future of this country isn’t weaned off of a default dependency on government, well, we’re in trouble.

It seems that the larger the problem is, the more extensive the role of government in the proposed solution. Your knee hurts? Go see the doctor. “Forty-seven million” uninsured? New government programs for everyone! Sepcifically, the speech from which the opening quote came was about the outsourcing of American jobs. The speaker expressed interest in having the government create a study to investigate the effects of outsourcing on the American economy. Immediately, I wondered why the government was charged with this task.

Is the government impartial? No. Its only real concern is the continuation of its existence, and as far as concerns go, that’s a pretty important one. One for which almost anything, including personal liberties and, hell, even Constitutions can be sacrificed.There is no length to which it will not go to preserve itself, and that includes the manipulation of data to appropriate government funds in a way it finds favorable. (Census, anyone?)

Is the government extraordinarily capable or efficient? Don’t make me laugh. The number of significant statistical and factual blunders committed by this Administration in the past few months is laughable. Remember the nonexistent congressional districts in which jobs were created by stimulus money? The near-constant revisions of jobs numbers and economic indicators? Trusting the government to get things right and get them done quickly is naïve.

Is the government, or has it ever been, better than private sector firms at providing services? One of the primary assumptions of this blog is that the answer to this question is almost always a resounding “no”.

So here’s how the original quote ought to read:

“First, I propose that an independent private-sector firm study the effects of outsourcing.”

I guarantee the private sector report is more accurate.