The War At Home

6 12 2011

Allow me to say this in the most eloquent way possible: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU IMBECILES THINKING?

The imbeciles to whom I refer are, of course, the duly elected members of the US Senate, led by Carl Levin and John McCain, who passed the abortion known as the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill passed the Senate 93-7, which ought to give anyone with the vaguest shreds of intelligence the galloping heebie-jeebies. Whenever something makes it through any branch of Congress with near-unanimity, we (the People) can count on a thorough ass-raping, sans lubricant.

This particular assault on our collective sphincters is nominally about funding the US military. McCain and Levin tossed in an amendment which would basically give the President- any President- unlimited authority to use military force against anyone “who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” That sounds dangerously vague. Someone please define “substantially supported” for the rest of the class, because it seems our elected representatives in the Senate didn’t bother with such picayune details. How about “associated forces“? Anyone? Buehler?

I’m reasonably certain that this bullshit is unConstitutional on its face, but I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV. Oh, and this lovely abomination is not subject to any such minor distinctions such as duration or national boundaries. For all time and everywhere on Earth (and, presumably, to the ends of the Universe), the President of the United States can identify any group or individual as “substantially supporting an associated force“, and that person (such as you or I) or group (such as, for example, the Boy Scouts or the Elks Lodge) could be snapped up by the Marines or Navy SEALs and deposited in Gitmo without benefit of habeus corpus hearing or any other pesky legal proceedings. How can you get a lawyer to plead your case when you are being held in a military detention facility in another country? Under this bill, anyone suspected of substantially supporting al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces would not have any due process or civil rights otherwise guaranteed by the Constitution- you won’t get a phone call, you won’t get to speak to an attorney, and there will be no speedy trial. You can be deprived of life or liberty at any time, anywhere in the world, on the say-so of whoever happens to be occupying the White House.

Didn’t we have a Revolution a couple of hundred years ago over far less vexatious abuses? Let’s take a look at the Declaration of Independence, shall we? I’ll just sample a few of the perfidies laid at the feet of the British monarch to see how they shape up today.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

George the Turd doesn’t come off as that bad a guy compared to our own Senators. I wonder how that worked out for him?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Oh, yeah. That. I believe we may owe our British cousins a bit of an apology.

There were ninety-three (93) Senators who voted for this vile bit of legislative filth. Unless your Senators are on this list [Coburn – (R-OK), Harkin – (D-IA), Lee – (R-UT), Merkley – (D-OR), Paul – (R-KY), Sanders – (I-VT), Wyden – (D-OR)], they have failed to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Every other Senator has betrayed the public trust and has voted to turn our Republic into a military despotism, and they have thereby forfeited their right to continue in their present positions. Every last one of the Senators not listed above should be recalled, immediately, and turned out of office. If they are very lucky, that would be their only punishment for such a betrayal of the American people and Constitution. Lifetime imprisonment would be far more just, but might be legally unjustifiable under the Constitution. Of course, if this pernicious bill becomes law, the President could simply declare all of them de facto enemies of the state and lock them all up in some foreign hell-hole for infinity plus ninety years. That would be justice for their attempted raping of American liberties and ideals.

Here’s an idea: has anyone besides me noted that Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul are on the same side of this issue? Those two are cultural and political opposites. If they can agree that this bill is anathema to everything America supposedly represents, how could ninety three other Senators have voted in favor of this contemptible legislation? What are they afraid of?

The War at Home is coming here, by legislative decree. America has been declared a battleground in the halls of Congress. Now and forever, war without end.

Cry, “Havoc!”

Current status: Shaking with rage

Current music: Whip It by Devo

Is Anyone Paying Attention?

27 11 2011

I realize that thinking about our politicians and their manifold stupidities tends to cause projectile vomiting and blinding headaches, but it would behoove all of you who enjoy the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution to start. For those of you for whom thinking of any sort is actively painful, allow me to clarify that- everyone in the United States should start paying attention to the shenanigans going on in the halls of government.

It seems that a few Senators with an “R” in parentheses after their names have managed to sound out all the big words in Orwell’s 1984, and decided that they liked some of the ideas presented. They liked it so much that they proposed a bill to basically make the “War on Terror” more or less permanent and give the US military authority to detain and indefinitely imprison any American citizen on suspicion of being engaged in terrorism. By the way, for those of you who aren’t in shock after reading that, this includes American citizens within the continental United States. Put more simply, YOU could be arrested by the US Marines in your back yard if someone with a grudge called the local office of the Department of Homey Scrutiny and said you were building bombs for Al Qaeda. You could be hauled away in cuffs and tossed into a cell for the duration of the “War on Terror”- which would now be essentially endless.

There are those in this country who might be okay with this- provided it happened to people they dislike or merely disagree with. Those people are fools. Worse than fools, they are willing to sell themselves and their children into servitude in the vain hope that doing so will make sure those uppity moose limbs, ay-rabs, messicans, and hippies won’t be able to sully their precious American landscape with their differences. Without meaning to, these imbeciles are building the walls of their own future prison cells, because they don’t realize that THEY are a trouble-maker with different ideas to someone else.

This sort of Byzantine use of power is becoming ever more widespread, and is by no means exclusive to the Federal government. The Feds are merely the level of government least responsive to citizen anger. Witness the tale of Timothy Siaki, an American citizen who happens to be deaf. When police were called to a disturbance, they found Timothy and his fiance engaged in a loud argument- because both of them were deaf, they were arguing in Ameslan (American Sign Language), but they were so agitated that they were vocalizing as well. The police naturally arrested Timothy because he wouldn’t respond to their commands. This is easy to understand, since Timothy can neither read lips nor read or write English. His fiance tried to tell the police that she was in no danger, but they ignored her, because she also could not speak properly, and none of the cops bothered to get an Ameslan translator. This failure to get someone who understood Ameslan involved lasted for 25 days, during which time Timothy was almost deported by Immigration. He was almost deported despite the fact that Immigration agents knew he was an American citizen. I hope the lawsuit Timothy filed after his release leaves the police department and Immigration in bankruptcy.

Now let us look at abuse of power at the State level. It seems a High School class in Kansas were taken to the capitol and chanced to hear a speech by the governor. One of the students went on Twitter and said a few unkind things about the governor, then described her feeling that the governor did not represent her interests or her political views. Someone on the governor’s staff read the comments, and then contacted the girl’s school administrators to punish her for her temerity in saying unpleasant things about the governor. I realize that Kansas is not the most important state in the union, but surely even the governor of Kansas has better things to do than harass high school students who exercise their 1st Amendment rights to voice their opinions.

Since we’re discussing schools, it seems that a Catholic school somewhere in this country has decided that certain books are forbidden for their students- including a large number of classics such as Milton’s Paradise Lost. One student has decided to bring those books to school anyway, and has even gone so far as to start lending the books to her fellow students. For those of you old enough to remember the Soviet Union, this sort of thing used to happen all the time in the USSR. Then, books were banned for political reasons. In the “Land of the Free”, it largely happens for religious reasons. Granted that a religious school might not want to carry “controversial” books in their school library, but there ‘s no reason why students should be forbidden from reading the books on their own. Haven’t these idiots ever heard of the Streissand Effect? How about the best way to lead a pig? Taking the trouble to ban a book and publicly punish those who defy the ban merely guarantees that more students will read the works in question.

What do all of these incidents have in common? Bureaucrats and administrators who are insulated from public displeasure. Senators can count on their idiocies being forgotten by the time their six-year terms are up, so they don’t bother even pretending they are working in the country’s best interest anymore. Immigration officials hold secret proceedings out of the public eye for deciding on deportation- even for American citizens. State governors theoretically should be more susceptible to the peoples’ will, but the antics of the current crop of governors with an R after their names seem bent on acting like tin-plated despots in their own little fiefdom (This does not exonerate those with a D after their names, by the way. The most overt examples of corruption, cronyism, and abuse of power just happen to be from republicans recently, but democratic governors have their own traditions of the same crimes). School administrators who are so well insulated from the public they allegedly serve that they can impose censorship and generally rule their domains with an iron fist.

So what can we, the People, do about all this? First and foremost, pay attention. These abuses and excesses happen because those committing them correctly assume that the fickle public won’t remember anything past the next TV season. Once you start paying attention to the antics of these blights on the body politic, you’ll start to realize that we (the People) are paying these drooling jackasses to violate our civil liberties and build a police state against our will. They work for us. If they fail to perform their jobs to our satisfaction, fire them.

Elected officials- especially at the Federal level- should only be concerned with ensuring the most effective means of guaranteeing the things written into the Preamble to the Constitution:

We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America.

To accomplish all of these things, our elected oafish-als are supposed to be bound by the rules set forth in the body of the Constitution and the various Amendments thereto. By my reckoning, every last one of the abuses and excesses listed above violate that last italicized item in the Preamble. They also violate the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and/or 7th Amendments to the Constitution. Why are we (the People) paying these imbeciles to trample our civil rights underfoot?

Because none but a loudmouthed few seem to be paying attention, and fewer still seem to care.

Current status- Disgusted

Current music: Banditos by the Refreshments

The Security of a Free State?

15 11 2010

We, the People. Those three words should be genetically engraved into the brains of every American. The meaning of those three words is- or should be- self evident: The people of the United States are supposed to rule this country. The Preamble to the US Constitution starts off with those three words precisely to make clear the fact that the people are supposed to hold all the cards when it comes to government.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Reading further into the Constitution further clarifies this inescapable fact of American government. Even the most casual perusal reveals that the Constitution is written to limit the power of government. Several of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights start with or include some variation on “Congress shall make no Law …”, and then go on to list a bunch of things the government cannot do. Not things the People cannot do. The 9th and 10th Amendments make it even more clear:

IX-The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

For those of you who didn’t pay attention in Civics class, allow me to translate: any particular right or privilege, whether or not it is specifically written into the Constitution, is reserved for the People.

X- The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Once again for those who slept through Civics: All rights and privileges not specifically assigned to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the People.

Any moderately sentient creature in this country should therefore be aware of the fact that the government is supposed to be limited in power. How, then, have we come to the quasi-police state currently in effect in these United States?

What am I talking about? How about someone who decides that he or she doesn’t want to be either irradiated by a backscatter x-ray device or groped by low-paid government functionaries? Some would say, “Too bad. Submit to getting molested by the Gummint or don’t fly.” Sorry, Charlie. That is as much a lie as “I promise I won’t cum in your mouth” or “If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.” If you decide that you aren’t willing to be groped or irradiated by government stooges once you have entered the security area, you no longer have the option of just leaving and turning in your ticket. You are required to complete the screening. In at least one recent instance, the victim of this government-sanctioned sexual assault decided that he would rather walk, but was accosted by security goons and told he would not be permitted to leave the airport unless he completed the screening which he had refused to allow to begin.

Or how about the young man facing seven years in prison in New Jersey for following both the letter and spirit of the law? The victim in question was moving from Colorado to New Jersey to be closer to his son, who lived with his ex-wife. One day, as he was driving from his mother’s house (where he was staying until he got moved into an apartment) to his new apartment, dear old mom decided that he was a little despondent over some squabbles with his ex and started to call 9-1-1 out of concern. She changed her mind without talking to anyone, but the police responded anyway. Once they heard her story, they called the young man on his cell and asked him to return to his mother’s house. Once there- despite the fact that they determined he was not a danger to himself or others- the police searched his car and found the three firearms he was carrying to his new place in the trunk. These firearms were properly packed away in locked containers in the trunk of his car, without ammunition, in accordance with federal and New Jersey gun laws. The police arrested him anyway. At his trial, the judge refused to allow him to present evidence that he was complying with state and federal laws for transporting firearms, and refused to answer questions from the jury during deliberation about any exemptions to the draconian New Jersey laws regarding firearms. As a result, a man with no prior criminal record who was scrupulously following state and federal laws was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Then there is the increasing frequency of prosecutorial misconduct resulting in the imprisonment of completely innocent citizens. In the latest such outrage, a man spent 15 years behind bars because the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence and deliberately lied in court to send an innocent man to jail and pad his win-loss ratio. When this misdeed was finally uncovered and the man was freed, he found he had no legal recourse against the prosecutor who framed him. He can’t even get compensated by the state for wrongful imprisonment, because the law doesn’t allow for such compensation except for people freed by DNA evidence.

How could these events be reconciled with the  traditional American sense of justice or a supposedly free society? They can’t. We, the People, have allowed the pinheads in pinstripes who infest our nation’s capitol to filch away our liberties in the hopes of gaining a false sense of security against a host of non-existent existential threats. There are, in fact, a lot of people who would dearly love to kill lots of Americans. The security theater in place to supposedly “protect” us from these people has not substantially decreased the probability of such an attack, but it has made huge strides in increasing the power of the government at the expense of individual liberty. All over the country, police agencies are increasingly treating the citizens they allegedly serve as enemy combatants, while unctious politicians pass ever more laws to restrain the power of the people and vastly increase the power of the government, and well-meaning fools elect poltroons who will cater to their fears and whims. Take a look at the people you elected to represent you in Congress. How many of those people do you think will “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” if it means losing the next election or turning down the next bribe? Whatever number you came up with, divide by ten. The result will still be far too high, but will be closer to reality.

We, the People, are allowing our elected leaders to pull the wool over our eyes and steal our country away from us. We have allowed professional politicians to hijack our government- which is supposed to be “by the People, of the People, and for the People.” How much legislation out of Washington has been by, for, or of the People recently? As far as I can tell, it has all been by, for, and of the interests of a well-connected few at the expense of the People. And we are letting it happen.

All of those new Congresscritters you dolts sent to Washington this past election should be sent a clear message from we, the People: “That cushy job in DC is yours on a probationary basis. Any hint of putting your own self interest before that of the country will be repaid with expulsion in 24 short months. Ignore this warning at your peril.

Science fiction author Ed Howdershelt once said there are Four Boxes to be used in defense of liberty: Soap, Ballot, Jury, and Ammo. Please use in that order. We are currently using those first two boxes. I am using the first box to encourage the rest of you to use the second. If our elected representatives fail to adequately represent us in accordance with the US Constitution, vote the bastards out. If they pass laws which diminish the liberties of Americans, open up that third box and take the bastards to court. We are supposed to be sovereign in this country, and its high time the tax-fattened swine in DC get reminded of that fact. But it is up to us.

Current status: Pissed off

Current music: Lizstomania by Phoenix

E Pleb Neesta

26 09 2010

Long ago, when people watched TV in their caves with their pet dinosaurs standing guard outside, there was a TV show called Star Trek. It was, in its day, considered groundbreaking, although it is hard to explain why to those who only discovered it after its many siblings and descendants. The special effects are pretty hokey, for one thing, and the producers ran true to type and decimated the show’s budget each year- eventually shutting it down altogether as being unprofitable. But some of the writing for the show was first-rate science fiction.

Veteran viewers of Star Trek may recognize the words of this post’s title as Yang “Worship Words”, from one of the better episodes called “The Omega Glory“. Like most episodes, the special effects blew chunks, the science had only tenuous connections to reality, and there were plot holes big enough to fly Enterprise through. The episode did bring up a couple of interesting points- mainly regarding the Yang “Worship Words” and their Holy Documents (the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence).

There are a lot of people in this country waving the Constitution about like a magic wand, claiming that all our societal ills will be done away with merely by acknowledging its power. To many of these people, the Constitution is a Holy Document, the words written on it are their “Worship Words”, and somehow only the enlightened few who are treating the Constitution as a magical talisman have divined the mystical secrets within. We should therefore vote for them, regardless of how mind-bogglingly stupid too many of them are.

I would caution those people to at least make an attempt to understand those words. These folks seem to believe that merely quoting passages from their Holy Document negates all arguments against their political positions, but display an appalling lack of understanding about the meaning of those words. They also routinely demonstrate only the most tenuous understanding of the Constitution and its history.

Far too many people seem to believe that the Constitution was intended to limit the power of the central government in favor of greater powers for the states. This demonstrates a seemingly willful disregard of actual history. The document which accomplished the things these folk are advocating was called the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution was created to correct many of the colossal fuck-ups created by the Articles- by giving more power to the Federal Government at the expense of the states. The men at that Constitutional Convention were understandably wary of the powers of a central government, but also knew that the Articles of Confederation made it impossible for the United States of America to be anything more than an ironic title. They got together and hammered out a series of compromises (often in smoke-filled back rooms, taverns, and clandestine private meetings) to create a single nation under a centralized Federal Government, to which the States would be subordinate.

That sound you just heard was a bunch of Tea Party heads exploding.

Some of those compromises included the first twelve Amendments (the ten of which make up the Bill of Rights were just the first of those twelve Amendments ratified) to the new Constitution. These Amendments were compromise measures designed to protect the rights of the States and individual citizens against the power of the Federal Government.

I personally am appalled at the extent to which the last few Presidents (with the connivance of the Legislature) have expanded the powers of the Executive branch, and I am likewise nauseated by the growing power of the Federal Government in general at the expense of individual rights. I share these feelings with the manifold and diverse Tea Party groups around the country. One way in which the Tea Party folks and I part company is in the blind worship of the Constitution and the Founders.

When history becomes scripture and men become deities, truth is the victim.

The Founders were men, not gods. They had the same frailties and foibles as any other men. The Constitution they created was a committee effort, and therefore the result of laborious compromise and dirty dealing. It is not a Holy Document, the mere mention of which will assuage all fears and solve all problems. The Constitution is a set of limits and powers which are hopefully properly balanced to allow freedom and prosperity. Tea Party activists tend to ignore these facts in favor of cherry-picking sections from the Constitution which favor their positions. This is eerily similar to the way fundamentalist christians cherry-pick scriptures to justify their insidious deeds and words. The similarities are easily explained, because many of the most vocal and idiotic Tea Party activists are also fundamentalist christians. Far too many of the remainder are what can best be described as Constitutional Fundamentalists. Fundamentalism in any flavor is bad. Fundamentalism coupled with political power is indescribably bad. Political fundamentalism coupled with religious fundamentalism is a precursor to Hell on Earth.

The people who make up the Tea Party groups (not organizations, mind you- just groups) are starting to fall victim to the public perception that the rabid fundamentalist whackjobs who get most of the air time in the media represent the totality of the movement. It is therefore incumbent upon the Tea Party members to abolish this justified perception by acknowledging the fact that their movement appears to have been hijacked by utter fuckwits, and doing something about it. Not every criticism of a Tea Party candidate is the result of a sinister conspiracy. If criticism is justified, deal with it. Alleging that everyone who so much as looks cross-eyed at a Tea Party member is a Kenyan Muslim Socialist Wannabe only reinforces the public perception that Tea Party members are all a little bit unstable- particularly if the original criticism is true and well-deserved.

If the Tea Party truly wants to make changes to the political process, they will need to reiterate their core aims to the public. Tell the public what you plan to do, why you want to do it, and how you plan to make that happen. If you are truly a grass-roots movement of the average people in this country, this approach will pay the greatest dividends on Election Day. In doing so, the Tea Party will also need to deal with the rabid foaming loons in their ranks, to avoid seeming crazy by association. At present, every Tea Party representative who gets air time seems to be a rabid, fundamentalist christian bigot with an outspoken disdain for anyone who is not white and christian. All this will get you is enormous trouble in the political process and defeat at the polls. You want to be fundamentalists? Try getting your movement back from the paranoid xenophobes who have hijacked it.

Current status: Annoyed

Current music: Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits

Discontinuity of Meaning

26 08 2010

Okay, the derp is getting out of hand.

It seems a politician in Louisiana gave a speech to a group of constituents and said:

We are either going to go down the socialist road and become like western Europe and create, I guess really a godless society, an atheist society. Or we’re going to continue down the other pathway where we believe in freedom of speech, individual liberties and that we remain a Christian nation. So we’re going to have to win that battle, we’re going to have to solve that argument before we can once again reach across and work together on things.”

Do I read that correctly? This creature refuses to work with anyone who disagrees with him until they stop disagreeing? Is he really saying that individual liberties do not include freedom of religion- including freedom from religion? A sitting US congressthing- who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States when he took office- is saying this in public? This can’t be real, can it? It has to be an elaborate prank, right? Right?

I mean, just look at the words of the Founders of this country:

Letter from President Washington to Sir Edward Newenham, June 22, 1792-Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause. I had hoped that liberal and enlightened thought would have reconciled the Christians so that their religious fights would not endanger the peace of Society.”

Thomas Jefferson-The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.”

In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty; he is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”

Thomas Paine-Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.”

Jefferson again-Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

Letter from President Jefferson to Thomas Whittemore, June 5, 1822-Christian creeds and doctrines, the clergy’s own fatal inventions, through all the ages has made of Christendom a slaughterhouse, and divided it into sects of inextinguishable hatred for one another.

Speech by James Madison to the General Assembly of Virginia, 1785-During almost fifteen centuries, the legal establishment of Christianity has been on trial. What have been the fruits of this trial? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; and in both, clergy and laity, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

The men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to ensure that we could live free took great pains to make sure we, the People, remained free of religious tyranny as well. After all of that, this monumental ass-hat is couching his campaign rhetoric in religious terms. This speech would be right at home in Arabic or Farsi, and its sentiments are those of the Inquisition and the Crusades.

Now let us address the ridiculous notion that America is a “Christian nation”. Bullshit. In the first place, the First Amendment to the Constitution says- in part- “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

In the event a mere Amendment is insufficient to sway the theocratic pinheads who believe this creature’s tripe, let us re-visit another legal roadblock to establishing a christian dominion in the US: the Treaty of Tripoli.

the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…

For those of you who didn’t do well in History or Civics classes (which might explain the inexplicable rise to power of such fungi as Representative Fleming),  allow me to explain a key point, here. Once the Senate has ratified a Treaty and it is signed by the President, it becomes law. Article Six of the Constitution makes this fairly clear- even to mouth breathing retards who use superstition to catapult themselves to political power.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

That seems pretty straightforward. Only a complete and utter fuckwit would ever attempt to violate Constitutional Law in the blind pursuit of political power, right?

Oh, wait. That seems to be what we’re dealing with, here. Hmmm. At least such a pandering imbecile could never get elected by an intelligent populace …

Houston, we have a problem.

Current status: Cheesed off

Current music: In A Lifetime by Clannad

Sick and Tired

23 08 2009

Against my better judgement, I’m going to hurl myself into the breach of rational debate regarding the proposed reformation of health care in the US. This action I deem necessary due to the total lack of rational debate on the subject. Demagogues and pundits on all sides are substituting volume for facts.

Please take a moment and review the Constitution of the United States, particularly Article I. This article identifies the powers and limitations of Congress. Please note that this was written a long time ago by men who were among the intelligentsia of their place and time. They realized that they could not possibly foresee every aspect of future life in their newborn nation, and accordingly wrote the operating instructions to be a broad as possible.

This particular section (Section 8, appropriately enough) of the article seems to be the operative one:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Note that there is nothing specifically written permitting Congress to deal with something as complex as modern health care. Congress was never intended to be so deeply enmeshed in the private lives and businesses of the citizens. This was originally assumed to be a power relegated to the States. That said, the first paragraph might contain a loophole, sufficient for Congress to interfere in the day-to-day lives of the citizens.

provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States

Here’s where the baby goes out the airlock: Congress is empowered to provide for the general welfare of the United States.

The Founders made their Constitution deliberately ambiguous to allow for changing circumstances in a future they could not foresee. Many legislators are lawyers. Lawyers just love to make hay by wringing whatever meaning they can from ambiguous legislation. And therein lies the problem today.

Looking at the offending paragraph one way, Congress must provide for the general welfare of the United States as an entity. Therefore, Congress should not have the power to get involved in health care. On the other hand, the citizens are part of the United States, so one could use the exact same paragraph to justify Congress getting mixed up in private health care decisions. It is the nature of Government to create more government. Given that, Congress will interpret their operating instructions (the Constitution) in such a way that suits Congress’ purpose.

I am personally horrified at the idea of the US Government providing health care. I have lived through that while I was on active duty and since then through the Veteran’s Administration. Due to my service-connected disabilities, I am entitled to “free” medical care from the VA. And yet, I have private health insurance. I pay roughly five thousand dollars a year to a health insurance company because government-managed health care sucks donkey balls.

It is a truism that Congress is the opposite of progress. The US government is patently incapable of efficiency or cost-effectiveness. It is not possible for the Government to make a profit- government is inherently wasteful. It is often, however, useful and necessary.

Let us now cut through the layers of bullshit being tossed about by everyone involved in this alleged “debate”. There are US citizens who- for a variety of reasons- do not have access to adequate health care (however one defines “adequate”). Most of those citizens are living below the poverty line or are otherwise on government assistance of one sort or another. The government programs put in place to help those people are so badly managed that they risk bankrupting the entire nation and still fail to deliver adequate health care to those dependent upon it. We, the People, have a responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves. It is an inherent responsibility in our status as citizens and as humans.

If Congress insists upon trying to “fix” health care, let them create a program to help those who need it. The vast majority of Americans do not need the Gummint’s help to get adequate health care. Junk the Medicare program and replace it with a program allowing people making less than the poverty line to get medical care for a nominal fee per month. This care would be in the form of an identity card issued by the Government which would allow the card holder to get whatever medical care is required at any hospital. Card-holders who manage to get themselves out of poverty and no longer require the card will be required to maintain the nominal fee until any costs incurred while in the program are repaid.

As for the rest of us, we’re going to have to pay into this program as well. The hundred and fifty million or so workers in this country are going to pay a little more in taxes to cover this program. Done properly, this could take care of the so-called “health care crisis” without violently ass-raping the Republic to death. All of the various bills being bandied about in Congress are horrible examples of legislation. Here’s a clue to everyone in Congress: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Because the current “debate” is making me sick and tired.

Current status: Annoyed

Current music: Bad Day by Daniel Powter

Liberty Wept

6 04 2009


I’ve written at length about how our country seems to be turning into a police state. Police departments around the country are apparently regarding the citizens by whom they are employed as the enemy. In the name of the “War on Terror” or the “War on Drugs”, more and more of our precious liberties are getting filched away- nibbled to death by ducks. Merely understanding and standing up for one’s Constitutional rights is increasingly viewed with suspicion by almost every police department- or at least the ones which make the news. The most innocuous of behaviors is increasingly falling afoul of some Government regulation or another, which are frequently misapplied by law-enforcement personnel to the detriment of individual liberty in this country.

For example, a photographer standing on a public sidewalk in Phoenix, Arizona, was told by a police officer that he wasnot permitted to take a picture of one the Federal building. When the photographer asked what legal authority forbade taking pictures of a public building from a public sidewalk, he was brusquely told to “Google it”. There have been numerous reports of citizens getting harassed and even arrested for the “crime” of taking pictures or video of police in the performance of their duties on public thoroughfares. A group of police in Philadelphia have taken to raiding local grocery and convenience stores for the crime of selling small ziploc bags. Worse still, these Phillie cops go out of their way to disable all security cameras in the establishments they raid.

In the course of my job, I am frequently required to undergo periodic security training. The last annual training refresher I took instructed me to beware of suspicious activities such as owning firearms and practicing marksmanship. After hearing this little security tip, I immediately went to the Security manager for my building and reported myself for meeting several of the criteria which my training indicated were possible terrorist behaviors. He was less than amused, the more so since he would have to report himself under those same guidelines.

In yet another case, a self-described libertarian was at an airport to catch a flight when the Transportation Security Authority agents became suspicious of the cash he was carrying. When they asked him how much he was carrying, why he was carrying it, and what he did for a living, he replied by asking if he was legally required to answer those questions. This was deemed suspicious behavior, and the police and FBI were called. The FBI disgustedly told the TSA to let the man board his plane. In defense of the TSA, my few experiences with them have been uniformly professional and courteous.

When police perform traffic stops, they often ask if they can search the vehicle. If they are not granted permission to search, their frequent reply is the statement, “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you shouldn’t object to a search.” I have no problem with the police saying this in an attempt to induce cooperation, but I do have a serious problem when refusing to permit a warrantless search becomes probable cause for issuance of a search warrant.

Since when did refusal to permit a search become probable cause? I’m pretty sure the 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution are reasonably clear on this subject, but I’ll let you be the judge:

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.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The supreme law of the land is the Constitution of the United States. Why, then, are we (the People) permitting our public servants to trample the liberties enshrined and guaranteed therein?

We (the People) have been sold a bill of goods by our elected officials. We are being told that these infringements upon our liberties are necessary to keep us safe from drugs, child molesters, terrorists, commies, albigensians, heretics, martians, or fill-in-your-boogieman-of-choice. And we (the People) have swallowed this line of bullshit with nary a twinge of remorse.

It has become easier to just go along with whatever new byzantine abuse of Government power comes down the pike than to stand up for our inherent liberties. The Rights guaranteed (not granted) by the Constitution are worthless if we (the People) do not stand up and demand that those rights be acknowledged. All rights come with concurrent responsibilities, foremost among them the responsibility to ensure the continuation of those rights.

Please note that I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. Anything you may have seen on TV may bear little or no relationship to the real world of police and courts. If you want legal advice, hire an attorney. Since I am neither licensed nor qualified to give legal opinions, the following is not intended to be legal advice. This is only my personal opinion and stated intent for my own actions when detained or arrested. Your mileage may vary. Follow this course of action at your own risk.

If the police want to search your house, car, office, or person, demand that they first get a warrant. When detained or delayed by the police for any reason, be courteous- but refuse to speak without an attorney. Ask if you are under arrest. If you are not under arrest, ask if you are free to go. If you are not free to go, demand to speak with an attorney. Do not raise your voice, swear, or argue. Simply refuse to speak without an attorney present.

Be warned, following this course of action will very likely result in increased police attention and possible arrest. The police will be extremely annoyed with you, and will use a wide variety of tricks to try and get you to talk to them. Even if you answer some of their questions, you are under no obligation to continue to do so. Here is the Wikipedia entry on the subject:

In the US, the Miranda warning is a warning given by police to criminal suspects in police custody, or in a custodial situation, before they are asked guilt-seeking questions relating to the commission of a crime. A custodial situation is one in which the suspect’s freedom of movement is restrained although he or she is not under arrest. An incriminating statement by a suspect will not constitute admissible evidence unless the suspect was advised of his or her “Miranda rights” and made a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of those rights (the term “Miranda rights” is somewhat misleading, as the mandated Miranda warning simply clarifies preexisting Constitutional rights). However, a 2004 Supreme Court Ruling upheld state “Stop and Identify” laws, allowing police to require biographical information such as name, date of birth, and address, without arresting suspects or providing them Miranda warnings.

The Miranda warnings were mandated by the 1966 US Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona as a means of protecting a criminal suspect’s 5th Amendment right to avoid coercive self-incrimination.

The wording of the so-called Miranda Warning varies from state to state, but the general meaning is fairly unambiguous. The police can stop you and demand that you identify yourself without necessarily placing you in a “custodial situation”. This does not necessarily mean that you have to provide some identification, only that you must give the police your name, date of birth, and address when requested. You are not legally required to answer any other questions, and you are within your rights to refuse to answer any further questions.

Given the increasingly hostile attitude of far too many police toward the citizens they allegedly serve, and the deliberate and methodical diminution of our precious liberties by both police and our elected officials, it is my opinion that everyone should do their utmost to protect the tattered remnants of our Constitutional rights while we still can. Furthermore, I call upon everyone to contact their elected representatives in both state and federal governments and remind them that they are public servants and we (the People) are the public. If those public servants wish to retain their cushy jobs and exorbitant paychecks, they had better start paying attention to the proper historical relationship between the US government and the citizens it is supposed to serve.

Here is a quote from Benjamin Franklin that needs to be more often on the public lips:

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

There are Four Boxes to be used in defense of liberty, in the following order: Soap, Ballot, Jury, and Ammo. On this page, I am calling for all Americans to use the first three. The precipice of tyranny is creeping up on us with cat-like tread. If we do not act now, we may soon be forced to resort to that fourth box. Like Pandora’s box, opening the Fourth Box will unleash horrors and chaos upon the world. Let us all work together to forestall its use. Write your representatives and senators. Stand up for your rights. Our liberties are under attack from within. Failure to use those first three boxes now leads inexorably to the opening of that Fourth Box, and nobody sane wants that.

Current status: Concerned

Current music: Man in the Box by Alice in Chains

Four Boxes

20 02 2008

Just over 30 years ago (12Feb78), the Government of South Africa decided not to pursue an investigation into the death of Steven Biko.

For those of you less than 30 years old, Steven Biko was a prominent opponent to the South African policy of apartheid (an Afrikaans word roughly translated as segregation). The South African Government officially divided the population of the country into distinct groups: White, Black, Colored, and Indian. As is usual with such stupidities, all groups were not treated equally. Whites held all of the power and most of the wealth and land. Everyone else was treated as a second-class citizen (at best). Laws were enacted and ruthlessly enforced to preserve the White monopoly on power.

This is an old story, and not unique to Africa. One group fears losing its power and becomes increasingly oppressive to anyone who threatens that power. The list of those who might threaten that power rapidly grows to include all of the population not actually in the Government. Increasingly draconian measures are needed to keep the population in check, and those subject to the Government’s rule grow increasingly rebellious in response. Oppression is generally a losing game for the oppressors, because eventually the entire population becomes part of the oppressed group. People who otherwise might tolerate the Government’s actions find themselves legitimately fearful of falling victim to those actions.

Steven Biko started several political organizations in South Africa- all of them vocal opponents of apartheid. This made Biko very unpopular with the Government. He was Banned- which meant he was legally forbidden to leave his home district, talk to more than one person at a time, or make speeches. Quoting anything he said- even casual conversations- was also against the law. Despite the Ban, Biko started several grass-roots organizations in his home district, mostly dedicated to helping the families of political prisoners and promoting self-reliance among the non-White population of the country.

In 1976, Black students in Soweto starting protesting against Government requirements that only English and Afrikaans were to be taught in schools. The protests grew violent as the police arrived to “restore order”. The majority of the protesters were marching peacefully, but a few were throwing stones at the police. A police unit was surrounded, and the shooting started. The protesters began rioting, destroying bars and beer halls and attacking the police- and every other White they could find. This led to a well-known White doctor who had devoted his life to promoting social welfare among Blacks getting stoned to death by the mob. In all, 23 people were killed.

Biko was tied to one of the organizations which had started the protests, so the Government focused its attention on him. He was arrested at a roadblock in August of 1977, and charged under the Terrorism Act. This law- passed a decade earlier- broadly defined “terrorism” as any act which might endanger law and order. Under those rules, Biko was deemed a terrorist and treated as such.

While in police custody, Biko suffered severe head injuries. He died of those injuries while being transported (naked, in the back of a land rover) 1,200 kilometers to Pretoria. The Government claimed he had died during a hunger strike. Once pictures of his beaten body were made public by Biko’s friends, the Government claimed he had inflicted the injuries on himself during a suicide attempt.

Nobody was buying the Government’s line anymore, and Biko’s death galvanized public opinion around the world against the South African government. 16 years after deciding that Biko had beaten his own head in, the South Africa Government finally gave up apartheid.

What’s the point of re-visiting this horrible bit of history, you ask?

In reply, I ask, “How many other Steven Bikos have been killed by their Governments without being noticed?”

Four boxes. There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty. In order, those boxes are: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo.

Steven Biko had been using the first two boxes, and his Government decided that it didn’t want to listen to him anymore. He was handcuffed in a cell and beaten to death by the police because the Government didn’t like what he had to say.

In the United States, most of us have been incredibly lucky. Most Americans do not get imprisoned and murdered by the police. But some of us have. I say, “us“, because we are all Americans. Injustice to any of us is injustice to all of us. The law is supposed to be blind. Everyone should be treated equally under the law. Whenever the faint odor of corruption wafts its way into our collective noses, we have a duty to root it out. Anything less is injustice. Worse, it is suicide.

Our Government has once again decided that certain people in this country no longer have the same rights as everyone else. Some people have more rights (elected officials, rich people, celebrities, etc), and some people have fewer rights (anyone with a relative in Saudi Arabia, for just one example). The Government tells everyone else, “Don’t worry dear. It’s for your own good. We’re just protecting you from Bad People. National Security, and all that.”

Am I the only one who detects the disagreeable odor of bullshit?

There is a procedure for dealing with this sort of issue. There is a special court set up for the purpose of getting warrants for eavesdropping on people or organizations deemed dangerous to the country. It’s called FISA- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under FISA, the Government can present its case to a judge, who decides whether or not to issue a warrant to permit surveillance, searches, and spying in the interest of National Security. In my opinion, this is the best choice of a bad set of options for protecting National Security and the right of the people to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure.

That’s not good enough for the Gummint. The Government wants the authority to spy on anyone, anywhere, anytime- without even the tiny degree of oversight provided by a FISA court.


The Government is already swollen with power. I see no need to furnish the tax-fattened hyenas who infest the Logic-Free Zone with any more tools with which to subjugate We (the People).

We’re back to the four boxes.

I’m using the first box right now. I’m calling on every American with the power to do so to make use of the second box. Find out how your elected representatives voted on the so-called warrantless wiretap legislation. Every single one of the political asshats who voted in favor of this lunacy should be told by his or her constituents to say goodbye to the halls of power. Vote against every last one of them. Forever. If your Congresscritter voted in favor of this law and was running for re-election against Mickey Mouse, you’d be better off voting for the cartoon character. Having a vacant office on Capitol Hill would be better than permitting power-hungry fuckwits to scissor away at our rights.

The Constitution of the United States is chock-full of rules designed to prevent the Government from becoming too powerful. We (the People) need to get back to the philosophy that Government cannot be trusted with power and money. We already know that giving money and power to Government is like giving a teenaged boy a case of beer and the keys to a Corvette. Both are recipes for disaster.

Back to those four boxes. If the first two boxes aren’t enough to limit the power of the Government, take the bastards to court. Public servants are supposed to serve the public, remember? We are the public. Hold the stupid bastards accountable for their actions- today. Tomorrow. Forever. Refuse to put up with the bullshit. Sue the motherfuckers!

We (the People) need to remember what happened to Steven Biko. We need to remember why it happened. It happened because the Government was allowed to get too powerful. We (the People) need to use those first three boxes to trim the Government down to a manageable size- often. It’s cheaper and easier- on every level- to spend the time and money and sweat to keep the Government responsible to the People than to resort to the fourth box.

If we ever let things get to the point where we have to use that fourth box, the United States of America would cease to exist. We’d go the way of Yugoslavia. Internecine warfare. Ethnic cleansing. Genocide. Those are all Bad Things.

I’m just optimistic enough to think that America is still a Good Thing. So let’s keep it that way. Speak out. Vote. Sue, if necessary.

Current status: Somber

Current music: The Band Played Waltzing Matilda by the Pogues

… Cheaper to Die by the Vote

17 12 2007

I read an Op-Ed piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by an ex-NBC correspondent (and current University of Georgia Associate Professor of Journalism) named Dan Hazinski. Mr. Hazinski is apparently peeved about the wild and unruly nature of what he calls “citizen journalism”. You can find the article in its entirety here.

Mr. Hazinski then goes on to describe the manifold potential horrors from such unregulated “journalism”, and calls on the major news organizations (his words, italics mine) to apply discipline and monitoring of free speech and free press. I’m pretty sure freedom of speech and freedom of the press are what the 1st Amendment is designed to help protect. Of course, the 1st Amendment applies only to actions of Government. Mr Hazinski seems to want his “major news organizations” to (somehow) regulate everyone else’s free speech and press- that makes it all better.

Mr. Hazinski, how should your “major news organizations”  enforce this regulation? More to the point, how could they? Viewers and readers are abandoning the “major news organizations” in droves- driven largely by the lack of substantive content, pandering to the lowest common denominator, and sheer unprofessionalism exhibited by mainstream “journalists”. I suggest removing the beam from your own eye before mentioning the mote in ours.Here are Mr. Hazinski’s actual recommendations, copied directly from the article linked above:

  • Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.
  • They should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.
  • Journalism schools such as mine at the University of Georgia should create mini-courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedures, much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff’s auxiliaries are trained and certified.

Let’s take a look at the first item. “Major news organizations … establish standards … substantiate citizen-contributed information …

That sounds like a problem belonging to the “major news organizations” not the citizens. If you- as a journalist- received a tip from an anonymous source claiming that Barack Obama was a direct lineal descendant of Ethelred the Unready  and was therefore by right King of England and the United Kingdom, you would not immediately rush to your editor yelling, “Stop the presses!” Would you be more likely to do a little basic research to see if there was even a vague possibility of accuracy first? Why aren’t your journalistic brethren and sistren doing this now with “citizen-contributed” content? If your “major news organizations” are already failing to police their own behavior, why should anyone rational consider allowing them to police anyone else?

On to Number 2: “… clarify and reinforce their own standards …

Hmmm. I thought that was what we talked about in Item #1. If you want your mainstream media organizations to clean up their own acts, I approve. They (and you) have no business trying to clean up mine- except by setting a good example.

… and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.

Might have to run that one through the English-Greater Obfuscese  translator. To what “trade organizations” do you refer? Writer’s unions? Editor’s unions? Aunt May’s Guide to Professional Speaking? Blogging for Dummies? How are these “trade organizations” supposed to enforce these notional (not a typo) standards? If Uncle Wiley from East Armpit, Alabama wants to write a blog about how Jimmy Carter was the greatest President ever, will Aunt May’s Professional Speaking Enforcement Team descend upon the ancestral Wiley tar-paper shack and lock Uncle Wiley away for failing to properly use a semicolon?

Item number 3: “Journalism schools … certify citizen journalists …”

Let me see if I got this straight, Mr. Hazinski. You want Journalism schools to determine who does and does not have the right to free speech or free press? Did I miss some of the nuances in that third item? What the Hell have you been smoking?

If you- as a former journalist by profession- want to enforce standards of journalistic integrity, perhaps you  should begin with the “major news organizations” you would permit to regulate the free speech of others. If you do not like the content or doubt the accuracy of something written, broadcast, published, or blogged, there are several remedies at your disposal. Among these remedies:

  • You could ignore the subject
  • You could ignore the author/speaker/whathaveyou
  • You could take legal action for libel or slander

Note that none of these options  involve depriving the author/speaker/blogger of his or her rights to free speech or free press.

A side note for those of you who have not been paying attention: The Constitution of the United States does not grant rights to the people. Government cannot give you rights- it can only limit them or take them away … until you (the People) forget about your rights and vote to limit or remove them. The Constitution is mostly involved in limiting the actions and powers of the Government. Those rights you think you get from the Gummint are inherent, inalienable, and part of your birthright as Americans.

Whatsoever, for any cause

seeketh to take or give

Power above or beyond the Laws

suffer it not to live!

– Excerpt from MacDonough’s Song, by Rudyard Kipling

Mr. Hazinski is- of course- entitled to his own opinion. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is- of course- entitled to accept or reject any material according to their policies. I am also (despite Mr. Hazinski’s apparent disapproval) entitled to my opinion, and I can publish it on my blog. I can even urge everyone who is taking (or considering) courses in Journalism from the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia to seriously reconsider that choice. Any “journalist” who proposes such monumental poppycock does not- in my opinion- understand his own profession well enough to be a good teacher thereof. For those of you who wish to delve further into how the “major news organizations” got to be major news organizations, I highly recommend a thorough study of early American History. The “major news organizations” of the late 18th and early 19th centuries bear uncanny resemblance to the political bloggers of today.

But Mr. Hazinski does not approve.

Current status- Flabbergasted

Current music- Storms in Africa, by Enya