Dec 19, 2005

Badges? We Ain't Got no Badges. We Don't Need no Stinking Badges!

Everyone is a suspect, unless proven otherwise. The destruction continues.
I thought that we were a nation of laws and not a dictatorship. Are we subjects in a state where a divine king rules in God's name? Don't we have certain rules, like the...Constitution to uphold? But then again, these are difficult times; maybe we should bend the rules a bit. Or should we? I mean I can imagine several extreme situations where it would be appropriate to sacrifice an innocent child, to rape a person or to boil a limb if this would make the suspect talk. What if [insert extreme scenario here]?

If we are the land of the free and the home of the brave we must live up to our duty to protect our rights. The super-secret spying apparatus ordered by President Bush is illegal and not fit for a society where the people's civil liberties are respected. There have to be checks and balances, and in this case judicial overview. Even in this turbulent times where too many Americans are motivated by fear and willing to sacrifice their rights under the PATRIOT Act, there are some guidelines to be observed. Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (most commonly known as
FISA), a secret intelligence court was created to authorize government wiretaps in foreign intelligence investigations. Now, Bush did not apply to get permission from this court, nor his spying was on foreign subjects--a clear violation of US law in my opinion.

Let's see what our Constitution has to say about this:
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 (
Amendment IV)

I think it's quite clear under which circumstances and conditions the government can conduct reasonable search and seizures; and, please don't miss the important point about "probable cause" and, "by oath or affirmation." Where are those arch-conservatives, the "strict constructionists," those who call our national document "the constitution in exile" to stand up and defend it? Of course, they are absent, for they're hypocrites and activists who want to use "creative law-making" to curb individual rights and civil liberties. They are the same people who don't see the sentence, "a well regulated Militia" in the Second Amendment, and, thus, they want to extend the right to bear arms to include any killing machine invented!
A Nixonian Approach

Normally, we wouldn't spend too much time on the rants and actions of an inarticulate simpleton, except that this buffoon is the CEO of the country. Last time I checked, the President was bound by the Constitution. Actually, every US president swears to "uphold and protect" it. So, what am I missing here? Bush just admitted that he authorized secret spying on US citizens outside the scope of the law. Even the conservative senator Graham (R-SC) said, "I don't know of any legal basis" for Bush's secret spying. The chairman of the Senate's judiciary committee, Arlen Specter (R-PA) promised to hold hearings early next year regarding this issue, commenting that "there is no doubt that this
is inappropriate."

This Republican-controlled Congress does not investigate. What for? It's not likely they care. Most of them are social-darwinists! Never mind that the corruption stench is now unbearable; never mind that the country has been dragged into a costly war based on a pack of lies. Corruption knows no political parties, and the Democrats had their share in the 40 or so years they controlled Congress. But the Republicans managed to surpass this not only in magnitude but in the relatively short time of 5 years. We're seeing high crimes committed by persons in the executive and legislative branches, but no action is taken. I understand, they don't want to investigate themselves, and there are no ethics in the Ethics Committee. In the perverse moral universe of the current powerlogs, theocrats, and greedy fatcats, Clinton's sexual tryst was a much greater sin; a sin worth being impeached for! Can someone give Bush the thingy that got Clinton into trouble? Please! If this won't start the impeachment process [and I'm not holding my breath waiting for this to happen], at least Bush may calm down a bit. Give him some "Jesus juice" too. He seems very frustrated these days, doesn't he? A frustrated and a mean person like him with the kind of power at his disposal, is a very dangerous man to have in the White House.

"And during these holiday seasons, we thank our blessing" G.W.Bush, Belvoir, VA, Dec. 10, 2004.

Addendum: Today I came across a great editorial by The Nation. The editors point out that Bush's arguments--regarding presidential power and national security--were the same arguments used by Nixon who employed a host of federal agencies to spy, harass, and violate the civil liberties of many Americans, like the sustained wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr. The editorial reminds us that, "It needs to be repeated that in 1974, the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included abuse of presidential power based on warrantless wiretaps and illegal surveillance."
So, let's win back at least one chamber of the US Congress in the 2006 midterm elections, because that's the only way to have serious investigations. In other words, subpoena power!

Dec 10, 2005

The Triangulation of Hillary

I decided to help out Hillary Rhodam Clinton in her strategy to position herself as a national candidate for the presidency. Given the current occupant of the White House and his cohorts, there is no doubt in my mind that Hillary would be an improvement. If it came down to her and any Republican nominee, I wouldn't hesitate to vote for her. Let me explain what I mean though.

I don't believe there is a "silver bullet" that would take care of the beast--the regressive, authoritarian and kleptocratic policies as expressed by the Republican party today. Also, I think that the country will have to be moved gradually to the progressive side, because there are just too many conservative Americans unwilling and unable to take bold steps in that direction. So, I'm content, for the moment, to try to help the country move forward, toward a more liberal society. [see the definition of liberalism at the bottom of this blog's page] It's like trying to put out the fire that has engulfed our house due to the incompetence and criminal negligence of the current housekeeper that we elected to be in charge! I have been arguing this for a long time now, that first we have to save our house and then debate the finer points of how to make it more beautiful. Unfortunately, it has come down to this, a dire situation, thus we don't have the luxury of inaction because we can't agree on the color of the paint.

Where was I? Ah, helping Hillary.... Yes, I'm going to blast her for being such as hypocrite when it comes to the flag-protection measure. She's co-sponsoring new legislation to criminalize the "desecration" of the United States flag. The bill originated by Utah Republican Senator Bob Bennett, and it is a new effort to by-pass the Supreme Court's decision [Texas v. Johnson] in 2003 that upheld the right of a free people to burn their flag as a form of political protest. Hillary says she opposes a constitutional amendment, though I wonder whether this is just another stance of convenience since it would be extremely difficult to amend the constitution--a fact understood by the politicians who've used this path as seekers of cheap political thrills.

Why would Hillary co-sponsor a Republican bill? Because she wants to get traction in the so-called red states, to boost her patriotic credentials, to appeal to the emotions of so many Americans who, indeed, vote emotionally, often against their own interests. Where is the triangulation, you ask? Ah, it's obvious, as the discussion among her staff and supporters indicates: that is, she expects the "left-leaning," the progressive liberals will make enough noise in protest and thus give her "credence" of a "middle-of-the-road" politician! This blog is happy to oblige. Hillary may get her triangulated political position, but I suspect she will face stiff opposition within the Democratic Party. I suspect that she will soon be making clear her more conservative positions since she'll assume that, first, her senatorial race in New York is in the bag, and, second, that in order to fulfill her national aspirations she'll have to move to the center. I expect her to take tougher stances on immigration, and on the role of the US military/foreign policy--you know, America's duty to civilize and democratize the universe! Oh, not to forget that some bad people need to be "persuaded" to talk even if this means ..rendition. All in the name of safety and national security of course!

Appealing to the lowest common denominator is not a good trait of a politician who's a true leader with a vision for the future. But, it seems that Hillary has chosen this path for now. Things may change, though I very much doubt it as many Dems in Congress are afraid to be bold; otherwise there would be many more calls for the US to quickly withdraw from Iraq for example.

As for the flag-protection law, yes, this national symbol deserves respect, but the flag is not a sacred object in itself but rather a representation of our country, which, up to now, includes free speech. This great country won't be diminished if some idiot burns some material with the American flag on it. Gosh, we are already disrespecting our flag in many ways, as we use it for any imaginable purpose, much of it for commercial exploitation. It would be hypocritical if we allowed our flag to be used and abused for any other purpose other than as a form of political protest!

I teach a course on Democracy & Dissent at a university in New York and I've been urging my students to be politically informed and active; that dissent is a very important part of the democratic process because it is necessary to keep the dialogue going without fear that the authorities will persecute anyone for any speech they find objectionable. Unfortunately, Hillary today weighs in favor of fascist tendencies, the silencing of dissent, supporting the Big Brother's knows-best attitude, and the notion that Americans have to be protected against "evil" speech because they are not mature enough. No, Senator, even if some Americans aren't behaving like adults, having a Big Brother will only perpetuate immaturity and stifle the air we breathe. The flag it's a symbol with different meanings to different people--as it should be. We shouldn't try to force respect; it has to come from within for what the flag represents. I see our flag desecrated when it flies over any facility (like GITMO) where human rights are violated, or anywhere it is used as an excuse or a "reason" to curtail freedom & democracy! If you Senator want to talk about respecting our national symbol, then show it by making this country more egalitarian, and a heaven where human & civil rights are protected.

The proposed legislation appears to be no more than another cheap political thrill as I understand the bill currently in Congress. Destroying private property is already a crime, just as it is, if you trespass on federal property and burn a flag. Another provision is based on the vague language that flag burning is illegal if it's done for intimidating purposes--and Hillary equates this to the cross burning by the knuckle-heads of the KKK. This is ridiculous, just as ridiculous is the attempt of a blue-stater to become part of the red-staters group of bullies. There are a few courageous Dems who hail from red states who have voted against such cheap legislation even if this hurts them back home. I would have expected more from a senator who hails from New York. I guess she has been impressed by former Clinton presidential adviser and prostitute-toe-sucking Dick Morris's ability to triangulate. [Though she might want to check out a sample of Morris's views about her]

I hope that this post has been helpful to the reader, for its informational value. Hillary's adoption of this disgraceful piece of legislation hasn't gotten the appropriate attention and critique, except in the alternative media and the progressive blogosphere. If, by any chance, Hillary expresses her appreciation for our help, I will post her thanks here as soon as I receive them. Meanwhile, without having a need to triangulate myself, I'm declaring that Hillary's latest act removed any chance that I'd vote for her in the primary. I wonder if she believes that burning her effigy should be a punishable offense as well... you know, like disrespecting, or, trying to intimidate a US Senator! Humbug, I say, humbug!