Jul 30, 2013

Restore the Fourth meets with Rep Greg Meeks

Six Restore the Fourth organizers (myself included) met with Congressman Greg Meeks to discuss his 'Nay vote' on the Amash/Coyners Amendment that was to defund NSA's unconstitutional blanket surveillance of all Americans.

Jul 26, 2013

Amash Amendment: Spying On Americans Should Not Be Done With American Tax Dollars

Wednesday night by a 12 vote margin the Amash Amendment failed and nearly defunded domestic unconstitutional surveillance currently being done by the NSA. This thoroughly bi-partisan effort of 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats, had come so close to being successful despite leadership of both parties had pressured their rank and file members to oppose the amendment. If it is so essential for the security of the nation (though I do not hold the opinion that there is even an external existential threat to America) to disregard the fourth amendment then make the argument, and repeal the amendment. Until the fourth amendment is repealed, then any and all general searches without a warrant or "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" is unconstitutional. Under the Patriot Act's section 215 the activities of the NSA wholesale surveillance of the American public (or just the Americans with internet access and conducted telephonic communications) were illegal*; rather than stop this illegal action it is the bi-partisan defense of the criminal activity both within the Congressional leadership and the executive branch (the activity started before Barack Obama was inaugurated), that 'secrecy is needed but trust us it is all legal'. When someone shows themselves to be a liar, it is sage advice to believe that they are liars; when intelligence community keeps perjuring themselves in front of congressional hearings going back as far as the 1970's with the Pike and Church Hearings, then we the American people should take as a fact that clandestine services and those individuals speaking on their behalf are not to be trusted.

The President's statement refer the Amash amendment as a "...hastily [attempted effort] to dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools" as if the previous 5 years that he was unaware of what was being done in the American people's name is the reason that unconstitutional surveillance should continue. On January 21, 2009 when the President began his first term he may have not had the same reaction as the American public or their 205 members of the House that was shocked that the actions taken supposedly for the benefit of the American people were actually being done to the American people, but to claim that no action should be taken to reform the intelligence gathering of America's "enemies" after it turned out to be the American people themselves being "enemies" is ridiculous and sickening. What the President and the other defenders of constitutional debasement need to be reminded that their positions do not exist to hide decisions from the hoi poloi but instead to allow the American people make educated decisions when they mark their ballot as well as redress their government and participate in their own government in between elections.



*(b)(2) shall specify that the records concerned are sought for an authorized investigation conducted in accordance with subsection (a)(2) to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.


Jul 17, 2013

Virtual Tiger Trap of America, Great Firewall of China And Other Innovations in Repression

Totalitarian government clamp down on free flow of ideas and communication under the presumption that doing so will extinguish any subversiveness. That same hetero-ideology that is being attempted to be eradicated is what burnishes the open society with so much innovation and economic progress. So a Nazi or a Soviet regime is successful to instill fear throughout the populace that anyone could turn them into the authorities and they may disappear for saying a disparaging remark; in the fear-centric world of a totalitarian regime the economic innovation also comes to a screeching halt since what was acceptable economic activity yesterday is still acceptable today and no new business paradigms are ever attempted. People's Republic of China under Mao was certainly a totalitarian regime, But Deng Xiaoping was able to open up the country at least economically and provided pseudo-property rights to get GDP growth going. As the rise of the Internet made it essential for China to participate in the global economy, the CCP found it necessary to allow the Chinese people to have access to the internet for commerce but necessitated a solution to prevent political or anything non-economic from being communicated. Thus the invention of The Great Firewall of China that prevented domestic Internet communications of undesirable (at least by the CCP's judgement) ideas or speech that was not benefiting the state/status quo.

In many third world totalitarian regimes counter-intuitively there often were elections held; these elections never were intended to let the people's voice be heard instead they were to identify where or even who was the opposition. It typically was so effective that the people (to avoid being disappeared) voted unanimously for the tin-pot dictator, who then go to the world community to show that his people loved him.

The combination of both technological surveillance and use of misdirection is where the American innovation in political repression gets both genius and diabolical. Instead of blocking websites proactively and other known undesirable forms of communication the American intelligence community allows every American with an Internet connection to freely say anything they want to whomever they want, and nothing changes in their day-to-day life. All 300+ million Americans have their communications cataloged and archived, with some secret algorithm scanning to determine who may be a threat (threat to whom and what constitutes as a threat is evidently not up for discussion), so at some future date FBI agents on the order of the Department of  Homeland Security comes and arrests a citizen either at home or at work. Any attempt to ferret why the citizen was arrested will initially be informed "Sorry, but that is classified." A tenacious attempt to get information about a love one may very well result in the questioner also in custody. Let all of the citizens run around on the internet looking up subversive information about Ag-Gag rules, financial service industy's improprieties, and the like; they can be deemed terrorists after the fact and receive the "Bradley Manning" treatment stuck in a hole for years without ever being charged. Bonus points for constitutional flexibility since it is unlikely to have public attention and therefore never need to be taken out of the hole.

But the defenders of the status quo will respond to my dystopian perspective: "Sean you have it all wrong, America isn't like that-- we are the land of the free and home of the brave. We have a constitution that strictly forbids what you are describing." The constitution is no defense if there is no means to determine what the government is doing under the veil of secrecy. The U.S. government has already dispensed with the fourth amendment since it is very explicit: ."..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. Can not get less particular in describing who and what is to be searched than everybody and everything. Edward Snowden's whistle-blowing  has had a very telling response from those already in the know, no on has denied the veracity of Snowden's claims. So we know it is true that all of our internet communication and telephonic communication both content and metadata is being archived for the past 7-8 years and also going forward for the foreseeable future.

But I would have to also have evidence that our government has disregarded constitutional protections of due process, specifically that some authoritative federal judge being instrumental to being deprived of freedom or life. Except there is already evidence that has been done to American citizens all without any judicial review nor anything other than  committee of people individuals who gather for "terrorism Tuesday" within the White House. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder when questioned why American citizens abroad could be killed without even an indictment via drones responded:
“Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security,” Holder said. “The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”
The previous 225 years since the ratification of the constitution it has been interpreted that due process was judicial process-- but here we have amazing legal innovation to squeeze what is clearly not constitutional to be pseudo-constitutional but only in practice while ignoring our tradition and legal precedent. So what would prevent our government from implementing my dystopian foreshadowing? Is it left to each of the individuals that are directed to carry out unconstitutional orders? The individuals that question the orders constitutionality, are they assured they won't be targeted for obstructing justice or prosecution under the Espionage Act or no actual crime charged but held in custody indefinitely in some legal limbo like the 80+ detainees held in Gitmo and have been cleared for release for at least 5 years now? Thomas Drake released budget overruns of NSA surveillance programs that were not classified in 2006 and was not charged until 2010 for violating the World War I era Espionage Act. But Barack Obama when coming into office in 2009 said repeatedly would look forward and not back regarding the unconstitutional torture/enhanced interrogation program, but decided to look back when he perceived the State was being embarrassed.

Arbitrary execution of law is a vacuum of law, and we were such a fine upstanding country that once long ago abode by our own self-determined laws. Alas that was so antiquated, so old fashioned, so 20th century.

Jul 10, 2013

Libertarian Father & Son Heroes Seem to Have A Racism Problem

Whenever one says "I don't mean to be offensive, but..." or "No disrespect, but..." you should always be prepared to be offended or disrespected. Similar to Ron and Rand Paul that keep having to say that their supporters, their newsletters, their staffers, their political party, their policies, are not racist. It came out yesterday that Rand Paul's director of new media and co-author of his 2011 book The Tea Party Goes To Washington Jack Hunter had the alter ego and column with Charleston City Paper as the "Southern Avenger."
Image used on Jack Hunter's Southern Avenger website in the past.
Jack Hunter has previously described his alter ego as "super hero/ pro-wrestler persona, and entertained FM rock audiences with his antics and conservative political views until his departure from 96 Wave in 2007." Though he has stated today through his blog "In radio, sometimes you’re encouraged to be provocative and inflammatory. I’ve been guilty of both, and am embarrassed by some of the comments I made precisely because they do not represent me today. I was embarrassed by some of them even then." He continues to be an unapologetic defender of the "Old South" and former chairman of the Charleston Chapter of the League of the South, a self described Southern Nationalist organization that seeks to establish a Southern Republic. Acknowledging that things he said while a radio personality was offensive and did not speak as to his beliefs as a political operative ignores all the stuff he has stated as a "serious" columnist and political operative.

Such embarrassing statements as: 


The second quote especially embarrassing to Mr. Hunter's employer Senator Rand Paul, since the Senator back in April incredulously asked traditional black college Howard University students "How did the Republican Party, the party of the Great Emancipator, lose the trust and faith of an entire race?” The question was asked with his new media director, and former chairman of the League of the South, present and staffing him at the Howard University event. Rand Paul should not be too surprised since he himself has defended the right of businesses to discriminate and that Title II of the Civil Rights Act that bars businesses from that practice (which was extensively used in the former Confederacy) on his first national cable TV appearance on the Rachel Maddow show in 2010; it is not too far of a leap to defending the "Old South" when purporting that all public service should be provided by private enterprise that should be allowed to discriminate against people based upon the color of their skin.

Like father like son. Ron Paul in the 1980's had a newsletter that had very questionable topics that expressed sympathies for white supremacy. When it came to light during his 2008 presidential campaign that his newsletter (that provided millions of dollars in income in between his stints in Congress) had routinely articles without bylines that were thoroughly offensive--Ron Paul excused himself for being  "moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name." Unlike the newsletter, Ron Paul has repeatedly stated in his own voice his opinion about about the civil war and how unnecessary it was as well as the tragedy that Lincoln imposed the supremacy of the Federal government over the state governments that they had just scrapped their inclusion into the America we celebrate every July Fourth. Ron Paul woefully ignores Civil War History by purporting Lincoln could have just bought the slaves instead of "starting" the Civil War. Ft. Sumter was taken by secessionists December 26, 1860 (84 days prior to Lincoln's inauguration) Confederate States Of America was founded February 4, 1861 (44 days prior to Lincoln's inauguration) with seven states four of which included slavery being the cause for secession by South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Mississippi. 

Father and son Paul both are apologists for racist institutions, and only have wishful thinking to save them from repeating the same systemic bigoted problems. They both believe that the magic of the private market will solve everything, ignoring all historically evidence to  the contrary. Do I think Rand Paul should dismiss Jack "Southern Avenger" Hunter? I don't particular care if he does or not, if it doesn't come along with acknowledgment from the Junior Senator of Kentucky that Jim Crow South could not have ended without government (specifically judicial intervention) and the antebellum South was a tyrannical racist police state not some revisionist version of a genteel Southern paradise that that "no good Lincoln" went and messed up for us "real Americans" that continue to toy with the idea of seceding from the America that has already come to a consensus racism in all its forms are evil.