Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Another political rant, wiretaps

I realized that I have been putting up a lot of pictures, and really need to intersperse these with some thoughtful posts. Well, at least posts with words and not pictures. Don’t know why I feel like I need to do this, but for some reason I do.

The latest round of letters to the editor in our local paper deal with the NSA wiretaps. I am surprised at the number of people that don’t mind giving up part of our constitutional protections in order to protect us from ‘terrorists’. Sorry, but I feel the worst form of repression is caused by leaders that think they know how to ‘make things better’ and feel they have to ‘protect’ us by taking things away.

Why does every new law passed seem to take away some of our liberties instead of expand them? Why do politicians feel they have to make things more restrictive? It’s not just on the federal level; our state, county and city politicians and bureaucrats all make more laws every session and never seem to repeal old ones. It’s always “well, you can’t do this now because it’s best for you”.

It’s our President saying “the Constitution puts me above the law, so I can do anything I want to”, with the result being an intrusion onto our personal activities.

News articles in today’s paper show him at NSA defending the taps. If everything were legal why didn’t these go before the judges after the fact? If anybody should show respect for the law it should be those in charge.

Yesterday on TV was a general also defending the wiretaps. He kept quoting the fourth amendment to the constitution. He kept arguing that there was nothing in there about ‘probable cause’, so he could listen in on phone conversations if he felt it important to the national security. The person asking questions evidently had a copy of the Constitution and tried to read from it, but the general kept saying ‘no, you are wrong, I know it and that is not what it says’. Well, from the national archives web site, article 4: “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.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the discussion, evidently our ‘National Security Agency” (NSA) began wiretapping telephone calls within the US without warrants, even though they are not supposed to. Any wiretaps in the US are supposed to be approved by a judge, who would issue a warrant to do so, so as to have an independent person or body evaluate the need. Congress set up a special judicial panel to approve secret wiretaps, which could be applied for up to fifteen days after the tap in cases of emergency. The NSA recorded thousands of phone calls in the US, and never went for approval by this panel. One of the judges on the panel recently resigned because of the government attitude. Our president said approval and warrants were not required because of two things: as president he did not have to abide by the law that congress passed because this was an emergency, and when congress authorized him to attack Iraq it also permitted him latitude to do whatever it takes (or he wants to do) without regard to any previous laws. Most of congress disagrees with these reasons, and two lawsuits were recently filed to contest this attitude.

Not only is it time for a new President, but it’s time that people of importance in our government actually read the Constitution to understand what they are supposed to defend, not read it to find the loopholes.

And now for something completely different.

Explanation for Rob: There are a lot of advertisements here in Las Vegas for events put on by the big casinos. Right now the Wynn has two regular shows: “La Reve” and “Avenue Q”. Avenue Q was brought from a Broadway play showing in New York. It involves puppets that are involved in rather ‘adult’ situations. Wynn is running many radio advertisements for this show, many times a day. Segments of the show are part of the advertisement. One of the segments that are played is a song ‘The Internet is for Porn’. I’ve been listening to this little song snippet several times a day for several weeks now, and for some reason it is stuck in my head, so it seemed very appropriate when I started seeing references to ‘cute’ web sites. Didn’t mean to pick on you, but thank you very much for your response. It was very uplifting. (are those things real?)

From Deana, her eight year old nephew studying Martin Luther King had to write about their own dream. He wrote “I have a dream that the war will end. That peice will come to the world. I have a dream that enemies will become friends. I have a dream that fighting will become playing. I have a dream that doing bad will become doing good. I have a dream that friendship will rule the world.”
Don’t think many people could do better.

And for Clare:

1 Getting a TEN WEEK vacation to roam wherever one wants.
2 Being able to just take off (OK, there was a lot of planning involved) and go places with no thought of people that read your blog every day.
3 Knowing somebody that is about to go on a long vacation, and anticipating the stories they will have on their return.

(Spoken by an American who gets two weeks of vacation a year and works for companies that get offended if you really want to take that time away from work)

Note: for those of you that don't want to get political on your own blog, feel free to email me your editorials. I’ll be happy to put them here without listing your name.

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