The Lady Speaks

Fight Tyranny

Those Senators who vote to allow the government to continue spying on the communications of Americans without warrants and to immunize those telecoms which complied with illegal directives by the Executive Branch — to a degree which is still unknown — should be haunted from here on out by the words of some of our Founders and historic figures.

John Adams:

But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.

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July 9, 2008 Posted by | America, Congress, Constitution, Election '08, Government, Politics, Senate | Leave a comment

Let Freedom Ring

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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 form the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to 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 shown 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. –Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

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July 4, 2008 Posted by | America, Congress, Constitution, Government, Independence Day, Protest | 2 Comments

Huckabee Wants a Christian Constitution

Remember that stuff we learned in classes like Civics and American History and Principles of Democracy? Well, some of us learned. Obviously, considering El Pollo Loco is still the President, some of us slept through them.

But I digress….

We learned that the founders, having the examples of the Old World right there in front of their faces, believed in a government invested and run by its people. A government without a state-sponsored religion, that allowed any of its citizens – well, the white and male ones — to hold any office regardless of their private religious beliefs and practices.

Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave after hearing Mike Huckabee talk to a Michigan audience yesterday.

From Raw Story: [and yes, there’s video — Jenn]

“I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution,” Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. “But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that’s what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.” [my emphasis]

Say what??

Shortly after this aired, small rumbles were heard coming from the ground near Monticello.

You know what we call this, Mike Huckabee, when someone takes a perfectly good Constitution — one that’s lasted 230 years or so — and changes it to “God’s standards”? We call that a “theocracy.” We also tend to call it “complete and utter bullshit spewed from the mouth of a madman.” (Well, most of us do. The Christianist nuts who support you call it something else, I’m sure.)

Let me give you a few examples of countries in which “God’s standards” reign (or reigned) supreme: The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, The Islamic Republic of Iran

But wait … there’s more! Saudi Arabia? Oligarchy for the wealthy, theocracy for everyone else. Iraq used to be a dictatorship, but we went and brought them “freedom,” so now it’s a …. fucking mess. Democracy, theocracy, and thuggery.

Back in what’s often called the “Dark Ages”, there were Christian-based governments all over Europe. Britain, France, Spain, etc. Know what came of that? Lots of rich priests, religious wars, and a whole lot of Inquisition.

Here at home, the Massachusetts colony, founded by people — fundamentalists, as a matter of fact — who sought relief from the religious persecution they faced in Britain only to turn around and make religious persecution the heart and soul of their laws.

Roger Williams, he man who founded Providence, Rhode Island was expelled from the Massachusetts Puritan colony in 1636 for dissent. 1

Rhode Island, the colony founded by Williams, was the first colony to truly embrace religious freedom was established in 1647 and became a destination for those persecuted for their beliefs. Just five years later, it would become the first colony to abolish slavery.2

The Salem “witches” weren’t the only ones killed by the religious fervor of our Pilgrim ancestors. Four Quakers were killed by the colony, including a woman named Mary Dyer, for “repeatedly defying a law banning Quakers from the territory.” 3

In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville, had this to say about his tour of the United States and the idea of separation of church and state.

I found that they [clergymen, including several Roman Catholic priests] differed upon matters of detail alone, and that they all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point.4

Now, lest anyone think I’m completely against all forms of religion – no. Do I hate Christians? No. In fact, a great many people I love and care about are Christians. However, I am against the government enshrining the principles of any one religion, regardless of its name.

I do not want a Christian-based, nor an Islamic-based, nor a Hindu-based, nor a Wiccan-based government. I want a government that keeps its nose out of religious affairs except when those practices and doctrines are in direct conflict with the law (ie: no sacrificing of infants, no dancing naked on Main Street, etc.) and/or presents a danger to those outside the religion (ie: Christianist militia-types planning attacks).

Truth be told, if you want to kill all your followers with poisoned koolaid, the government and the ATF should stay out of it. A few less crazies cannot be a bad thing.

I would also like the various religions to keep their noses out of government. I don’t want the Mike Huckabees of the world telling me what I can and cannot do based on what their particular sky god says. If you believe abortion is wrong, don’t have one. If you think premarital sex – or sex in general – is wrong, don’t do it. If you think homosexuality is wrong, don’t have gay sex. If you think the use of birth control is wrong, stop using it.

When it comes to morality, the only person your gods or goddesses should be able to control is yourself.
But, most of all, stop telling the rest of us how to behave.

And now, a few words from one of our Founders, before he begins tunneling to the center of the earth:

“[If] the nature of… government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope.” –Thomas Jefferson to Pierrepont Edwards, July 1801. 5

“History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” –Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813. ME 14:21 5

“I have been just reading the new constitution of Spain. One of its fundamental bases is expressed in these words: ‘The Roman Catholic religion, the only true one, is, and always shall be, that of the Spanish nation. The government protects it by wise and just laws, and prohibits the exercise of any other whatever.’ Now I wish this presented to those who question what [a bookseller] may sell or we may buy, with a request to strike out the words, ‘Roman Catholic,’ and to insert the denomination of their own religion. This would ascertain the code of dogmas which each wishes should domineer over the opinions of all others, and be taken, like the Spanish religion, under the ‘protection of wise and just laws.’ It would show to what they wish to reduce the liberty for which one generation has sacrificed life and happiness. It would present our boasted freedom of religion as a thing of theory only, and not of practice, as what would be a poor exchange for the theoretic thraldom, but practical freedom of Europe.” –Thomas Jefferson to N. G. Dufief, 1814. ME 14:128 5

“Whenever… preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science.” –Thomas Jefferson to P. H. Wendover, 1815. ME 14:281 5

– – – – –

1. Wikipedia

2. Wikipedia

3. Women’s History

4. Democracy in America,1835, Book One Part 3 Chapter 17, Section 6. “Principal Causes Which Render Religion Powerful in America.” via Wikipedia

5. Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government

January 16, 2008 Posted by | America, Christianity, Constitution, Election '08, Government, Politics, Religion, Republicans | 5 Comments

Bush is the Law, Bitchez

h/t to emptywheel

I’m just posting this in its entirety. No words from me are necessary.

Although, I would like to say: if you read all this, and your reaction isn’t “HOLY F**KING CRAP! These people need to be impeached, if not sent straight to The Hague!” then you should definitely apply for a job within the Bush misAdministration.

US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on the floor of the Senate this morning:

We will shortly consider making right the things that are wrong with the so-called Protect America Act, a second-rate piece of legislation passed in a stampede in August at the behest of the Bush Administration. It is worth for a moment considering why making this right is so important.

President Bush pressed this legislation not only to establish how our government can spy on foreign agents, but how his administration can spy on Americans. Make no mistake, the legislation we passed in August is significantly about spying on Americans – a business this administration should not be allowed to get into except under the closest supervision. We have a plain and tested device for keeping tabs on the government when it’s keeping tabs on Americans. It is our Constitution.

Our Constitution has as its most elemental provision the separation of governmental powers into three separate branches. When the government feels it necessary to spy on its own citizens, each branch has a role.

The executive branch executes the laws, and conducts surveillance. The legislative branch sets the boundaries that protect Americans from improper government surveillance. The judicial branch oversees whether the government has followed the Constitution and the laws that protect U.S. citizens from violations of their privacy and their civil rights.

It sounds basic, but even an elementary understanding of this balance of powers eludes the Bush administration. So now we have to repair this flawed and shoddy “Protect America Act.” Continue reading

December 7, 2007 Posted by | America, Bush, Cheney, Constitution, Human Rights, Law, White House | 1 Comment

Turncoats

Forty-one “Democrats” watched as President Bush threw a hissy fit and promised to hold his breath till he turned blue…and – like bad parents everywhere – caved to his demands. Only two – TWO! – Republicans voted against the power grab.

Where’s SuperNanny when you need her?

From Thomas:

Yeas Nays PRES NV
Democratic 41 181 0 9
Republican 186 2 0 14
Independent 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 227 183 0 23

Oh, and those 23 who didn’t vote? Would it surprise you to know that Republican presidential candidates Paul, Tancredo, and Hunter didn’t bother voting? I guess they had to get their beauty sleep for their appearance on ABC’s This Week. (via Firedoglake)

Here’s a list of the infamous “41”:

Read the list

August 5, 2007 Posted by | America, Constitution, PA 10th District | Leave a comment

The 4th Amendment Is Dead

The “new and improved” FISA bill was passed by a majority in the House, with 25 41 “Democrats” crossing the aisle to support the death of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.

The government – with the supervision of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez – can now spy on us all, no warrants needed. Probable cause has been replaced with “reasonable suspicion.” And, should any of us – or any of our relatives – do anything that seems “hinky” to the Feds … our assets can be frozen.

Ben Franklin said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. “

Unfortunately for the United States, and for all Americans – even the kool-aid drinkin’ redcoats – that is exactly what the Republicans and 25 41 “Democrats” have done – given up our essential liberties in return for the elusive promise of “safety.”

It’s funny, but I’m old enough to remember a time when the our government was against this shit. Oh, wait … that was back when it was the Russians doing it to their people…

– – –

For those freaking over the upside-down flag:

THE FLAG CODE
Title 36, U.S.C., Chapter 10
As amended by P.L. 344, 94th Congress
Approved July 7, 1976

§ 176. Respect for flag: No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

You tell me: What’s more dangerous to lives and property than the government having the right under the law to spy on all forms of communication used by anyone, regardless of the possibility that they are connected to, or a part of, a terrorist group? Not to mention, the right to haul any and/or all of us who disagree to a prison without notifying our families, without telling us the charges against us, without allowing us to have legal representation…

“The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures…The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one.”

– Hitler told the Reichstag, March 23, 1933

 

August 5, 2007 Posted by | America, Constitution | Leave a comment

Is YOUR Mascot a Racial Stereotype?

“Chief Illiniwek” of the University of Illinois will perform for the last time tonight. In fact, as I write this, the student who dances as Chief Illiniwek may have already made history as the last person to do so.

From YahooSports:

The University of Illinois’ controversial American Indian mascot was set to perform his last dance, and men who have previously portrayed Chief Illiniwek said they want the tradition to live on in some form.

The mascot, whose fate was decided by school officials last week, will take center stage at Assembly Hall for one last performance during the men’s basketball game between Illinois and Michigan on Wednesday night.

[snip]

Removing the chief frees the university of NCAA sanctions after the organization deemed Illiniwek — portrayed by buckskin-clad students who dance at home football and basketball games and other athletic events — an offensive use of American Indian imagery and barred the school from hosting postseason athletic events.

I applaud the decision of the University of Illinois to comply with NCAA regulations and join the 21st century in ending the use of a stereotype.

Now, it’s past time for state and regional high school sports leagues to follow the NCAA’s lead and mandate an end to “an offensive use of American Indian imagery.”

My daughter’s school calls itself, no kidding, the Redskins.

I have a lot of problems with this, and have since we first moved here. Let me give you a few examples of what I find offensive: 1) in the sports section of their website (which I won’t link to, for privacy reasons) there are “cute” little caricatures of Indians in feathered headdress and buckskin leggings holding basketballs, pretending to be swimming, performing a split and holding pompoms, 2) their mascot is a chief in feathered headdress, 3) there’s a freakin’ tipi on the track/football field!

For one thing, they’ve mixed up their tribes. The Plains Indians wore the feathered headdress seen on the mascot, not the Susquehannas and/or the Lenni Lenape (Eastern Delaware Nation) which actually lived in this area. Also, the Native tribes of this area lived in longhouses, not tipis.

This is important to note because the school is about to celebrate its quasquicentennial (125 years) and thus, was founded about the time of the Indian wars. Back in the early years of the school, people weren’t thinking about ethnic stereotypes, they were busy reading about the Bighorn, Sand Creek and Pine Ridge massacres. (Although, back then, they didn’t call them massacres. They were “battles” won or lost by the Army.)

Second, the administrators, boosters, players, etc, don’t seem to understand that the word “Redskin” is an ethnic slur. One of the most offensive phrases used by this school – and its faculty, students, and alumni – is: “Redskin Pride.” Literally, this phrase makes me gag.

Let’s be honest. This is a small school district, 95% or so white. There’s little native ancestry here, if only because their ancestors wiped out the native populations with their diseases and their wars. These people have a misguided sense of pride if they can use the word “Redskin” as if it were some type of positive attribute – one to which they have no claim.

Over the summer, my mom got into a bit of a verbal tiff with a booster who had the utter audacity to say they weren’t demeaning anyone. It was, she said, a way of “honoring” the Native peoples.

Huh?

How utterly stupid. As a person of Native ancestry, I don’t feel “honored.” I feel insulted. My Native ancestors were not “Redskins.” Those ancestors were of the Bear Clan of the the People of the Standing Stone (Oneida Nation) of the Six Nations of the Iroquois.

The Six Nations’ Articles of Confederacy – creating the oldest known participatory democracy – later inspired the framing of the Constitution of the United States. In fact, the Six Nations’ confederation was considered so important to the writing, a delegation of Iroquois were asked to meet with the Continental Congress, and John Hancock was given an Iroquois name: Karanduawn, or the Great Tree. (Read more.)

Do you think those whose ancestors were slaves, would feel “honored” if the team was called the “Niggers”? Do you think anyone of Jewish ancestry would feel “honored” if the team was called the “Kikes”? Do you think any of the multitudes in this district who came from Irish and Italian immigrants would feel “honored” if the team was the “Micks” or the “Wops”?

Of course not!

Those are all derogatory words used to debase another race or belief or ethnic background, and are recognized as such by nearly every sentient being in this country. There is no such recognition for the constant slurs against Native peoples used by sports teams across the nation, professional or otherwise.

Let’s put it this way, for those still so blind that they continue defending the use of “Redskins” for their high school teams: Would you feel comfortable calling anyone a “Redskin” while you were busy dumping money in a slot machine at Turning Stone or Salamanca?

Ooh! I saw that! Made you a bit uncomfortable, eh? It’s one thing to yell “Go Redskins” at a football game, and quite another to actually use it in a place where the owners are “Redskins.”

It’s past time for all sports teams to replace names and mascots which represent “an offensive use of American Indian imagery.

February 22, 2007 Posted by | America, Constitution, Education, Ethnic Stereotypes, Native Americans, Pennsylvania, Protest, Sports | 10 Comments

Happy Birthday Ben Franklin!


Picture from Famous Philadelphians at About.com

Today is the 301st anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth.

He didn’t become a supporter of the cause for independence until 1765 and the Thomas Hutchinson Affair – the governor of Massachusetts pretended to be a supporter of the American people, but instead still worked for the King. Franklin sent home copies of letters written by Hutchinson, wherein “Hutchinson called for, ‘an abridgment of what are called English Liberties.'”

One of Franklin’s quotes is much repeated today: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

From ushistory.org:

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706. He was the tenth son of soap maker, Josiah Franklin. Benjamin’s mother was Abiah Folger, the second wife of Josiah. In all, Josiah would father 17 children.

[snip]

When Benjamin was 15 his brother started The New England Courant the first “newspaper” in Boston. Though there were two papers in the city before James’s Courant, they only reprinted news from abroad. James’s paper carried articles, opinion pieces written by James’s friends, advertisements, and news of ship schedules.

Benjamin wanted to write for the paper too, but he knew that James would never let him. After all, Benjamin was just a lowly apprentice. So Ben began writing letters at night and signing them with the name of a fictional widow, Silence Dogood. Dogood was filled with advice and very critical of the world around her, particularly concerning the issue of how women were treated. Ben would sneak the letters under the print shop door at night so no one knew who was writing the pieces. They were a smash hit, and everyone wanted to know who was the real “Silence Dogood.”

[snip]

Franklin continued his civic contributions during the 1730s and 1740s. He helped launch projects to pave, clean and light Philadelphia’s streets. He started agitating for environmental clean up. Among the chief accomplishments of Franklin in this era was helping to launch the Library Company in 1731. During this time books were scarce and expensive. Franklin recognized that by pooling together resources, members could afford to buy books from England. Thus was born the nation’s first subscription library. In 1743, he helped to launch the American Philosophical Society, the first learned society in America. Recognizing that the city needed better help in treating the sick, Franklin brought together a group who formed the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751. The Library Company, Philosophical Society, and Pennsylvania Hospital are all in existence today.

Fires were very dangerous threat to Philadelphians, so Franklin set about trying to remedy the situation. In 1736, he organized Philadelphia’s Union Fire Company, the first in the city. His famous saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” was actually fire-fighting advice.

[snip]

He started working actively for Independence. He naturally thought his son William, now the Royal governor of New Jersey, would agree with his views. William did not. William remained a Loyal Englishman. This caused a rift between father and son which was never healed.

Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress and worked on a committee of five that helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. Though much of the writing is Thomas Jefferson’s, much of the contribution is Franklin’s. In 1776 Franklin signed the Declaration, and afterward sailed to France as an ambassador to the Court of Louis XVI.

[snip]

Now a man in his late seventies, Franklin returned to America. He became President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania. He served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and signed the Constitution. One of his last public acts was writing an anti-slavery treatise in 1789.

Franklin died on April 17, 1790 at the age of 84. 20,000 people attended the funeral of the man who was called, “the harmonious human multitude.”


Picture from The Price of Liberty is Vigilance

January 17, 2007 Posted by | America, Constitution, Founding Fathers, Government, Inspiration, Pennsylvania, Politics | 2 Comments

Monday Morning Ramblings

“… the present ministry [King George], being instigated by the devil and led by their wicked and corrupt hearers have a design to take away our liberties and properties, and to enslave us forever.”

    — 1774, some farmers in Farmington Connecticut

Who said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”?

Isn’t it great how the US government can spy on us all, and most Americans will respond with a yawn and a sleepy, “What time’s American Idol on?” It’s just another step toward OrwellWorld, where the proles are kept compliant and complacent, where thinking is a crime, and where demanding one’s rights results in becoming ‘unpersons’ – expunged from the memory of the machines and the people.

Why? Because too many Americans are more willing to fight for a Wii than fight for the liberties guaranteed us by the Constitution. Because too many Americans agree with Nebraska bed-wetter Pat Roberts’ pronouncement, “You don’t have civil liberties if you’re dead.” Because too many Americans agree that the Military Commissions Act is a good idea. Because too many Americans ignore their own history in favor of the current shiny object dangled in front of them. “Oh, look! Britney Spears’ sex tape!!” “Paris Hilton Eats Paste!” “TomKat’s kid adopted by Angelina and Brad!”

Face it – we’re a nation with ADD. Our attention span is smaller than a gnat’s ass. Americans simply don’t give a sh*t unless something threatens them personally – their job, their family, their SUV.

Who cares about the words of Patrick Henry, when Survivor is on?

“Why stand we here idle? Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

— Patrick Henry – Speech in Virginia Convention March 1775

Who cares about the struggles of the Continental Congress and the patriots of the Revolution when the latest, greatest episode of Lost begins?

From USDOJ and Government Watch:

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam [sic] was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. [emphasis mine]

This isn’t about right-wing or left-wing ideologies, except that the right-wingers seem to be the ones driving the “Fear and Terror and 9/11” bandwagon. This is about the institutionalized destruction of our nation’s foundation. This is a fight all Americans should join because a freedom taken from one of us is freedom taken from all of us.

George Bush and his misAdministration are laying waste to our civil rights. They defend illegal wire-tapping and torture and illegal detentions and extraordinary renditions because we have to give up some of our freedoms in order to be protected from those who ‘hate us for our freedoms’.

Be grateful this George wasn’t in charge of the War on England. Maybe someone should teach him about General John Stark, a Revolutionary War hero, whose words became the motto of the State of New Hampshire:

The motto was part of a volunteer toast which General Stark sent to his wartime comrades, in which he declined an invitation to head up a 32nd anniversary reunion of the 1777 Battle of Bennington in Vermont, because of poor health.

The toast said in full: “Live Free Or Die; Death Is Not The Worst of Evils.” [emphasis mine]

Indeed.

December 4, 2006 Posted by | America, Bush, Constitution, Domestic Spying, Government, Politics, Protest, Terrorism, Torture, War, White House | 1 Comment

Welcome to BushWorld

“To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed…”

“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.”

— George Orwell, 1984

From the Washington Post and Associated Press, in the Seattle Times:

Privacy advocates and business travelers Friday called on the federal government to scrap a Department of Homeland Security data-mining program that creates terrorism-risk assessments for every traveler entering or leaving the United States.

[…]

The Automated Targeting System (ATS), which has evaluated millions of Americans without their knowledge, began as a means of screening cargo but quietly was expanded in recent years to screen travelers and create risk profiles that will be retained for 40 years.

Customs officials say the program is necessary to protect the American public.

Travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, and some or all data in the system can be shared with state, local and foreign governments for use in hiring, contracting and licensing decisions. Courts and even private contractors can obtain data under certain circumstances.

[…]

The program, which singles out travelers for extra attention by customs officials, first was revealed days before the Nov. 7 elections in a Washington Post story published by The Seattle Times, after a notice describing it appeared in the Federal Register. Reaction was muted until The Associated Press reported on the issue Thursday.

Air passengers have been scrutinized for risks for 10 years, while assessments of some land-border crossers have been conducted for about two years, a Customs and Border Protection official said.

[…]

Government officials asserted that creating a vast database over time on travelers — including those who are law-abiding — will help analysts build models of normal and suspicious behavior. Ahern said there are 309 million land and sea border crossings and 87 million air border crossings each year — more than 95 percent for lawful reasons.

From the Privacy Impact Assessment for the Automated Targeting System:

Section 7.0 Individual Access, Redress and Correction

The following questions are directed at an individual’s ability to ensure the accuracy of the information collected about them.

7.1 What are the procedures which allow individuals to gain access to their own information?

Procedures for individuals to gain access to data maintained in source systems that provide data used by ATS would be covered by the respective SORNs for the source systems. In addition, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 U.S.C. 552) provides a means of access to information, including PNR data, for all persons, irrespective of the individual’s status under the Privacy Act.

With respect to data for which ATS is the actual source system (e.g., PNR), the applicable SORN is published at Volume 71, Federal Register 64543 (November 2, 2006). FOIA requests for access to information for which ATS is the source system may be directed to CBP in the manner prescribed by regulations at Title 19, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 103. With respect to the data that ATS creates, i.e., the risk assessment for an individual, the risk assessment is for official law enforcement use only and is not communicated outside of CBP staff, nor is it subject to access under the Privacy Act. ATS is a system that supports CBP law enforcement activities, as such an individual might not be aware of the reason additional scrutiny is taking place, nor should he or she as this may compromise the means and methods of how CBP came to require further scrutiny. Additional screening may occur because of a heightened risk assessment, or because of other concerns by the CBP officer, or on a random basis. If a reviewing officer determines that a person is not a match to a record or the record is determined to not be accurate, CBP has a policy in place which permits the officer to promptly initiate corrective action with regard to that record to avoid that person being identified for examination during future entry or exit processing based on that erroneous information.

7.2 What are the procedures for correcting erroneous information?

CBP has created a Customer Satisfaction Unit in its Office of Field Operations to provide redress with respect to inaccurate information collected or maintained by its electronic systems, which include ATS, TECS, IBIS, and APIS). Inquiries to the Customer Satisfaction Unit should be addressed to: Customer Satisfaction Unit, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Room 5.5C, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20229. Individuals making inquiries should provide sufficient information to identify the record at issue. [all emphasis mine]

You aren’t allowed to know what your file contains or the “score” you generated – or even whether or not you have a file and/or a score – so just how in the hell are you supposed to write to the “Customer Satisfaction Unit” [I love the Orwellian name] and ask them to correct the erroneous information they have about you???

Face it folks. We’re all in Guantanamo now.

What information is the ATS program collecting about you? Read the list at the Huffington Post.

December 2, 2006 Posted by | America, Books, Bush, Constitution, Domestic Spying, Government, Homeland Security, Intelligence | 4 Comments