The People Ignored or Ignore?



Obama’s Journey: All Aboard!!!!

“All aboard?” The conductor cries out.  The people, men, women, and children file in.  The train fills quickly.  Finally, after what are only mere minutes, the engine turns.  Steam, or today, diesel fumes, billow out the pipes.  We are off on a road of no return. It is another election season. In truth, these never really begin nay end.  The cycle is as the chug-chug of any locomotive; it is continuous, monotonous, a wearisome drone.  The series starts as it always does, with hope, dreams of change, and the catechetic realization that the Messiah has come.  Soon we see this redeemer is but a man or woman, a meager mortal.  He, be he the President of the United States, the Libyan “Leader,” the “boy next door,” the “good girl,” you or me is not the savor we imagined.  

Days, weeks, or months pass.  It might even be a near three years. Nonetheless, sooner or later, perchance, all along, we realize he or she did not liberate us from all that keeps us down.  Indeed, after a while, the people proclaim Ignore this Mr. President. You already ignore.  Yet, in truth, the writer just as most the rest of us ignored reality all along.  The promises we attributed to Candidate Obama were not as we thought we heard. On any and most every subject, our redeemer realized as he or she pledged.  The problem was, as it is, we ignored, as we do today, the obvious.

Our rescuer never had omnipotent power.  He did not come with the supreme excellence we saw in the blinding lights of a projected image.  He was, as he is cautious, conservative and well connected.  She too has her flaws.  Diplomacy? That was never her style.  She Demands. Now he commands.  The President, just as the Philanthropist, is the Chief.  How did they achieve such authority and acclaim, we the people anointed, appointed and bestowed powers upon them that allow them to speak for us.  We knew who he or she was.  Yet, we told ourselves, in time, what was would be different. Hence, with all the others, we hopped onboard. Inconvenient realities?  Statements and actions contrary to what we wanted to believe? Ah, the public said in harmony, these too will pass.

In 2008 the people could have heard what hearkens forward to today’s veracity.  Obama Supports FISA Legislation, Angering Left  As Senator, Barack Obama forgave the indiscretion of wiretaps.  He voted for what was characterized as the “compromise Bill.”  The compromiser was conciliatory months before he was elected.  Six days later, other actions prompted the headline Obama’s Supreme Move to the Center, just as he has consistently done as President. Perhaps those no longer aboard think of tax breaks and the recent reforms foregone and agreed upon.  The President still does.  The question is will he again  concede and why might this be a possibility? We the people ignored the power of our silent approval

People persuaded or desperate to believe act as parents of a very young and irresistible child.  You may have seen these, easily swayed by cuteness, Moms and Dads on the train.  The tot held dearly in the arms of those who love him or her defies any and every request.  Still, Mom and Pop smile.  Looks or words of scorn are set aside.  Parents tell themselves the behavior is but a phase. Besides, in the moment, seconds after the transgression, the child cried out, “I will listen Mom.”  “I will not do it again.”  Daddy, “I did not mean to . . ”  Just as the caregivers, the bandwagon forgives the unforgivable.  

Oh, you protest. “He lied.”  “She told an untruth.” “What of the promises, those broken and the ones now characterized as a work in progress?”  Well, there always were assurances and excuses.  The need to compromise, at least temporarily is a truism, when needed.  One can say that the unfilled vows are of this milieu of compromise..

It is we who pledged much, who pulled the wool over our own eyes.  When we climbed on board we chose to suspend disbelief.  Now we scream.

I am so angry, frustrated, depressed . . . .  pick an appropriate descriptive adjective. This is a BAD deal.  It would have been far better to have a drawn a line –  A LONG TIME AGO.   You CANNOT fix the deficit problem simply by cutting  . . .

Others muse “I hate Obama,”  It seems “support for Obama depends” on the person.  Objective observers, if there are any, laugh.  How silly the scene.  Humans blame others for what they feel.   The President did as he said he would do on the campaign trail, for the most part, with few exceptions.  Indeed, how many of us when immersed in realities out of our control, acknowledge that perchance, we must take a different path?

Mister Obama is no different than the child who charms a Mom or Dad.  Just as any “newborn” does, Barack endeared himself to us by being a novel entrance into our mundane lives.  “He is cute!” exclaimed and enthusiastic country.  Magazine covers were devoted to his appearance.  President Beefcake? was quite the comer.  On board that train, heads turned.

You may recall, before “Barry” Obama ever took office a headline read, Time Nears Completion of Every Possible Obama Cover Variation.  Joseph Biden also captivated, proclaimed, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Biden said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”  How could a bandwagon of people resist that dazzling smile, the cheerful disposition, and the brilliant mind, all in one man?  America did not.

I recall my own experience.  As someone who did not support Senator Obama for President, I too stood in line. I drove miles and waited for hours just to see and hear him.  A crowd of thousands packed the stadium.  We endured heavy rain as we waited.  Yet, all remained patient.  Once the doors opened, the ample audience climbed on board.  Another long delay did not quell enthusiasm.  Nor did the countless oddities.  I listened and heard the masses applaud pronouncements that were and are contrary to the supposed “Progressive” platform.  I wondered, as did a Sun Sentinel Reporter.  The day after the “demonstration” of love and idolatry, Anthony Man penned, Did Obama know where he was for Sunrise rally?

In those days, the American people ignored the glaring contradictions and deluded themselves in regards to the challenges.  As a nation, we were enamored.  The possibility that someone might show us the way entranced the electorate.  People “hoped” this charismatic gentle man, “No Drama Obama” would be the calm after the storm.  Thus, with abundant anticipation, people said, ‘Come on board Barack.” Be our Commander-In-Chief.  Do as the public thinks should be done even if you never said you would.

A President should lead.  A President should stand for something.  A President should not be afraid of speaking bluntly –  to those who oppose him politically, to those who support him, to the American people.

Today, these same individuals utter in disgust or with much “disappointment” in a man who is as he told us he would be, ” You have on occasion demonstrated that you know how to do that. ”  Innumerable inquire with seemingly infinite support, Mister President,” Why did we not hear that blunt speech as this crisis was developing?”

In 2008 you inspired people with your words, with your call to something better…. Increasingly, many of us are giving up, pulling back, because we find we are not listened to.  Our concerns, if not ignored, are dismissed.

So go ahead Mr. President.  Ignore me.  Ignore all the voices that have been trying to explain to you, trying to help you help this country.  You might as well.  It seems as if you have been ignoring us all along.

In truth, it took two.  Hand-in-hand  we traveled with our peers, the future President, and together we gave rise to the rally cries.  Obama is the Change.   We have hope.  We believe, “Yes, we, he can!”  Once we were all aboard we proclaimed in unison, Senator Obama has the Audacity to Reclaim the American Dream..  He was indeed the candidate with the compelling biography. His mere presence propelled us to become passengers.  Today, together on the train once more, riders offer only remorse.

In the days and years to come, persons who never boarded the train, people who remained stalwart on the platform at the station will express the sentiment; once again.  The public ignored the candidate who is now President..  Just as assuredly passengers will shriek as they have “There are achievements.   I do not deny that.  But they are far from what we were promised, far from what we had reason to expect.”  Indeed historians and scribes will reason. Nonetheless, proclamations will persist, and defensive postures will seek solace in the safety of a crowd..

People will adopt a plea .”Perhaps it is arrogant to think my personal thoughts are of any value to anyone other than myself.  Yet when I offer them, people respond.  So long as they do, I will from time to time offer them.  As I did yesterday.  As I am doing today.”  Hmm?  Might these words be as candidate and President Obama would say?  As long as there are people aboard I am “fired up.” “Ready to go.” Climb onboard Americans.  Get ready for another ride.

References. Resources. Rally ‘Round and Ignore . . .

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Obama; State Secrets A Shame



Countdown: Turley on Obama Administration Invoking State Secrets on Surveillance Program

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today, the Obama truth is revealed.  Change has come in the form of familiarity.  Some American’s are embarrassed.  Others embrace what, when presented by the previous Administration, they rejected.  Apathy helps most Americans to avoid a sense of shame.  It was announced;  Obama defends Bush-era secrets.  This Administration has gone further to establish government sovereignty.  As a nation, the Obama White House tells citizens, our country will be better protected if details about the surveillance program are considered “Top Secret – Sensitive Compartmented Information.”

Several knew this too would come to pass.  Authentic transformation was but a tease meant to achieve supremacy for Senator Obama.  In the Summer of 2008, the Illinois statesman voted to give George W. Bush more power than even the former President requested.  The issue; the  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA.  The controversial ballot cast by then Senator Obama did not capture the attention of most.  People were consumed by woes that were more personal.  Privacy is a right most in the United States take for granted.  Until an event in an individual’s life awakens awareness for what was taken away long ago, most do not realize in America the Administration is legally able to watch and listen to a residents’ every move.

The media did not devote much time to Senator Obama’s, measured move.  More importantly, from a business perspective, news stories that address surveillance do not receive a larger share of the audience.  Perchance, auspiciously, for our current President, last July campaign distractions dominated the news cycle.  In 2009, talk of the economy is thought most essential.  Indeed, the United States had already experienced an authentic transformation.

After the infamous attacks on September 11, 2001, the electorate accepted the Bush Administration’s truth.  That is why there are few cries of alarm for the White House’s current claim.  The two are close to the same Each Oval Office expounded; there is a constant threat of terrorist aggressions.  Presidents’ need to have the power to act on “Intelligence.”  Privacy for citizens must be forfeited.  The Patriot Act needed to be passed.  (Please read the text.)  The Commander-In-Chief must have all the authority he or she requests if the American people are to stay safe.  

Hence, convinced of the need to be forever vigilant, countrymen and women changed near a decade ago.  The public became accustomed to constant shadowing.  In the recent past and present, the press presumes correctly.  There is no need to question what collectively, the public concluded justifiable.

It was as it is, apt to assume there was no tale to tell when Congress, with Obama in the Senate authorized the wonderful world of unlawful White House sanctioned wiretaps.  Nor is there a public interest story when the current occupant of the Oval Office through the Department of Justice proclaims, undercover work, legal or not, is necessary.  Americans have come to acknowledge, in dire times such as these, perhaps, the Administration needs be above the law.  The people need not have the power to sue for improprieties or illegalities.

Perhaps, this explains what was and continues to persist.  Less than a year ago, little time was spent on what candidate Obama justified as wise.  The few who expressed apprehension were eschewed.  Thoughts that often, history is repeated, were rejected.  Fear that what occurred today might follow was thought folly.  Regard for the notion, a President with power will not likely relinquish authority bestowed upon him or her, was ridiculed.  Then, as now, those scant individuals who voiced distress were easily dismissed as cynics.  They were relegated to the position of people without faith in the greater cause.  

Supporters of President Obama, sustain hope.  Activists felt, and continue to believe; this time is different.  Barack Obama, or the people who coalesced to create a vibrant civically responsible community, will indeed prevail.  The population is the change we can believe in, or would be were it not for the fact that under the direction of the Obama Justice Department, the government can wiretap without a warrant and still, not be charged with a crime.

Only this week, loyalist recount the rhetoric and rejoice in the knowledge; in countries such as Turkey Obama is a hit! Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, on MSNBC‘s Hardball said Obama “is putting himself forth as . . .president to the world.”  Countless partisans are reassured, assured; as Commander-In-Chief, the man who promised to work for the people, would do what was “right” for everyone on this Earth.  

Yet, less than three months in office, the tide has turned, and not for the better.  Obama Administration quietly expanded Bush’s legal defense of wiretapping program.  Indeed, as President, Barack Obama did as he pledged not to do.  Candidate Obama had declared There would be No warrantless wiretaps if you elect me.  Yet, trust in that promise has become another American shame.

(L)ate Friday afternoon, the  Obama DOJ filed the government’s first response to EFF’s lawsuit (.pdf), the first of its kind to seek damages against government officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bush’s NSA program.  But the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the “state secrets” privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and  (2)  a brand new “sovereign immunity” claim of breathtaking scope — never before advanced even by the Bush administration — that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is “willful disclosure” of the illegally intercepted communications.  

In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad “state secrets” privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and — even if what they’re doing is blatantly illegal and they know it’s illegal — you are barred from suing them unless they “willfully disclose” to the public what they have learned. . . .

This brief and this case are exclusively the Obama DOJ’s, and the ample time that elapsed — almost three full months — makes clear that it was fully considered by Obama officials.  Yet, they responded exactly as the Bush DOJ would have.  This demonstrates that the Obama DOJ plans to invoke the exact radical doctrines of executive secrecy which Bush used — not only when the Obama DOJ is taking over a case from the Bush DOJ, but even when they are deciding what response should be made in the first instance.  Everything for which Bush critics excoriated the Bush DOJ — using an absurdly broad rendition of “state secrets” to block entire lawsuits from proceeding even where they allege radical lawbreaking by the President and inventing new claims of absolute legal immunity — are now things the Obama DOJ has left no doubt it intends to embrace itself.

Only days earlier an evaluation of the Obama White House evoked concern.  Obama Finds That Washington’s Habits of Secrecy Die Hard.  Might Americans particularly those who trusted President Obama would change an Administration’s corrupt practices, consider, as a candidate, an aspirant  Barack Obama built the foundation that now supports him.  The Obama Administration, the Government opts for secrecy in wiretap suit.  Those who today continue to purport, “I pledge my allegiance to President, Barack Obama,” or even only to his plans, may consider the thought.  Past is prologue.  

If Americans do not acknowledge the significance of early actions on the part of Presidential aspirants, if the people hold onto false hope, the electorate hurts itself.  Rights to privacy lost will  not only  be retained but also enhanced.  If citizens trust a challenger will be the change we can believe in, even when he reveals he is not, then, we can expect what will come.  Telephones will be tapped.  Surveillance will pass for security.  The fact that Americans allowed the same intrusive policies to persist is our shame.  

References; the loss of civil liberties restored . . .

Fear Factor

copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

Originally Published July 13, 2008 [and perhaps, no less relevant today]

Someone once described courage as not never being afraid, but going on in spite of the fear. As a nation and as elected officials we seem to be running dangerously low on courage. Oh we have the tough talk down, we have the posturing, but do we really have true courage? Since 9/11 when at least 2,985 people died from the terrorists attacks I think that what has been lost in all the hype is some perspective. While this was surely a tragedy, the population of the United States in the year 2001 was somewhere around 290 million people. Based on those numbers the terrorist attacks killed less than .02% of the population, yet since the attack we have responded by invading sovereign nations, torturing our fellow human beings, and gutting our Constitutional protections.

We currently have a sitting President with plummeting approval ratings in the last year of his failed presidency and yet he is still able to bully a frightened Democratic Congress still fearful of the “national security” question in the upcoming election. This President should not be able to get even universal health care passed at this point. But when courage is needed in the face of not only terrorism, but also tyranny, once again our elected officials can’t seem to find any. Because of these fears, Democrats have caved on a number of issues trying to appear “tough” on terrorism. My question is what have we gained the last eight years with warrior sheep Bush in the White House being tough on terrorism? We must as a nation begin to demonstrate real courage by not allowing what the terrorists couldn’t take away to be taken away by the fear of terrorists.

Wiretapping orders approved by secret orders under the previous version of the surveillance law were set to begin expiring in August unless Congress acted. Heading into their political convention in Denver next month and on to the November Congressional elections, many Democrats were wary of handing the Republicans a potent political weapon.

The issue put Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in a particularly precarious spot. He had long opposed giving legal immunity to the phone companies that took part in the N.S.A.’s wiretapping program, even threatening a filibuster during his run for the nomination. But on Wednesday, he ended up voting for what he called “an improved but imperfect bill” after backing a failed attempt earlier in the day to strip the immunity provision from the bill through an amendment. NY Times

It is a sad day when even the presumptive nominee of the opposition party feels compelled by political expediency to succumb to the political reality that is now America. The thing that I can not understand is how can we as a nation ever expect unity when we can’t even look at the same information and agree on what we are seeing. It’s like looking at a man being lynched and someone calling it a suicide. We as the governed of this country must begin to exert some courage of our own and start demanding an end to this childish bickering and obstructionism. It is time for some truth and honesty about what is going on in the name of freedom.

If we continue to allow our freedoms to be eroded then the terrorists will have created another Tet offensive. In the Tet offensive in Vietnam the Vietcong engaged in an all out offensive throughout the South in an effort to demonstrate that no area was safe from their reach. While the offensive was a military disaster it was a political windfall for the Vietcong. It was the turning point of the war for many Americans because it showed the disconnect from what the government was saying and the reality on the ground. Do you think it mattered to the Vietcong that it was a political decision to leave their country and not a military victory?

In many ways we are encountering the same thing today with the war on terror. If we lose our freedoms then the terrorists have won. It won’t matter that it wasn’t a military victory, they don’t have the numbers or technology to accomplish a military victory. They will have won in the sense that we will live in a constant state of terror and we will no longer have the rights we are suppose to be fighting for. They will care less if our rights were taken by a jihad or loss to a fear mongering political class.

The real courage will not be found in Washington, they have proven over and over that many of them lack the courage of their convictions or they have no convictions. No my friends the courage must come from the people. Just as with the Tet offensive it was the grassroots movement that turned the tide against the war. It wasn’t the “dirty hippies” but just everyday folks saying enough was enough. They demonstrated the courage that was missing in Washington. They were willing to take to the streets to reclaim the idea of “government by the people”. We have never needed courage in this country more than we do now. Today we face the lost of our freedoms in the name of saving them.

Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.

~ Margaret Chase Smith

Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence.

~ Henri Frederic Amiel

Farewell To Privacy. Hello To Arms

Fr

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

The Courts and Congress have come to believe there is reason for fear.  Enemies are everywhere.  Those who wish to do us harm are in our homes.  They talk to us on our telephones.  Some sashay in through our computers.  “Evil doers” are ubiquitous in the United States.  Our open society places the public at risk.  We, the people, must defend ourselves.  Thus, the Supreme Court and Congress have given the government and us the means.  The highest judicial body in the nation has made it possible for the common man to protect himself with a pistol; Legislators provided the President ethereal firearms.  Indeed, individuals and the Commander-In-Chief were bequeathed more than either had asked for.  In 2008, we have entered the Summer of Separation.  In the United States we say, “Farewell to privacy.  Hello to arms.”

Absorbed in fear, Americans have detached themselves from the original intent of the United States Constitution.  We the people have embraced weaponry and rejected our right to privacy.  The populace, with assistance from Congress willingly chose to forfeit the Fourth Amendment.  authentic freedoms were  disemboweled.  If the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act  (FISA) stands, and there is no reason to think a Bill signed into law by the President of the United States and each House of Congress would not be fully implemented, the press and the people will no longer have unfettered access to information.  Nor can they disseminate data without intense scrutiny.  Chris Hedges, a twenty year veteran Foreign Correspondent for The New York Times, speaks to a truth that he lived and now fears will die.

The new FISA Amendments Act nearly eviscerates oversight of government surveillance.  It allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review only general procedures for spying rather than individual warrants.  The court will not be told specifics about who will be wiretapped, which means the law provides woefully inadequate safeguards to protect innocent people whose communications are caught up in the government’s dragnet surveillance program.

The law, passed under the guise of national security, ostensibly targets people outside the country.  There is no question, however, that it will ensnare many communications between Americans and those overseas.  Those communications can be stored indefinitely and disseminated, not just to the U.S. government but to other governments.

This law will cripple the work of those of us who as reporters communicate regularly with people overseas, especially those in the Middle East.  It will intimidate dissidents, human rights activists, and courageous officials who seek to expose the lies of our government or governments allied with ours.  It will hang like the sword of Damocles over all who dare to defy the official versions of events.  It leaves open the possibility of retribution and invites the potential for abuse by those whose concern is not with national security but with the consolidation of their own power.

Trepidation has long been a tool for intimidation.  A frightened fellow or female will happily adopt a policy or a pistol to relieve apprehension.  Perhaps, that it why after the events of September 11, 2001, Americans, panicked and the power elite prospered.  As the Twin Towers fell, the people cried out for protection.  Congress gleefully approved the Patriot Act; and as a nation, we pursued a course of action that was and is contrary to Constitutional principles.  Even early on, Americans said,  “Farewell to privacy.  Hello to arms.”

As the war thundered on, the public worked to avoid greater anxiety.  People purchased more guns for personal safety sake.  They feared the government might not be able to shield them from all potential harms.  Indeed, this attitude has been ubiquitous in American history.  The Wild West outlook often overrides logic or Constitutional law.  In America, there have been many Summers of Separation.

When humans think weaponry is the solution, as they do in a country where there are ninety guns per every one hundred U.S. residents, they will grab a pistol when faced with any problem.  The availability of petroleum has become a paradox.  Prices for fuel and food are high.  The cost for shelter is higher.  Homes are in foreclosure.  Job security is but a myth.  Employer provided benefits are elusive.  The cost for Health Care coverage is out of reach; yet, the gun that could end it all is close.

Immigration is also an issue that irks many in America.  When migrants flee to the States in search of financial freedom, the native-born feel further threatened.  The divide between the races causes much resentment.  Income inequity offers reason for rage.  Economic slavery causes tempers to rise.  In 2008, the effect of all these predicaments troubles the populace.   The American public is aggravated.  Currently, people feel less safe, less strong, and more scared.  Millions ponder.  Force can seem the great equalizer.  Hence, gun ownership is great.  The Small Arms Survey, released in August 2007 reveals Americans have a ready arsenal.

With fewer than five per cent of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 35-50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned guns.

The report went on to state that the common folk are better equipped with weaponry than law enforcement or the military might be.  Civilians who reside in cities, suburbs, and those who dwell in the countryside possess the vast majority of total firearms owned in the United States.  Citizens in a country built on might will use firepower to retain what they believe is their right. If they are refused the privilege to pack heat, Americans will seek recourse by any means.

Special-forces policeman Heller, a resident of Washington District of Columbia certainly did.  The lawman, aware that anyone on the street might be armed sought solace in a piece of hardware.  Mister Heller applied to register a handgun he wished to keep at home; the District denied his request since, at the time, the District of Columbia forbade civilian handgun ownership.  Disgruntled, and prepared for battle, as Americans often are, Officer Heller filed a legal suit.  He stated his Second Amendment Rights were violated.  The Supreme Court agreed.

A review of the actual Second Amendment which states Americans have the Right to “bear arms in times when a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State,” or research might have led the Justices to decide otherwise.  Nonetheless, in a summer steeped with separation from acumen, the Supreme Court ruled civilian gun ownership is a right.

The Administration, policymakers, and pundits think the decision wise.  After all, it is a dangerous world.  Americans need to be prepared to fight the ominous foe  Fifteen years ago,   near half of American households understood this.  People built arsenals.  Thirty-one percent of adult Americans owned a firearm in 1993.  Still, that armory was not enough to protect the citizenry from attack.  Years later, the munitions stored,  while likely larger, were no better protection.

Crimes occurred outside the home, on the streets of any given community and , just as predicted, some transgressions traumatized those within four walls. Few Americans ponder the weightier aspects of artillery in the American home.

Earlier this year (1997), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a mind-boggling report showing that the U.S. firearm-related homicide rate for children was 16 times higher than the combined rate for children in 25 other industrialized countries.  Meanwhile, the U.S. child rate of firearm related suicide was 11 times higher. . .

Last year, Congress nearly slashed the budget for the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), which collects and monitors firearm injury data and funds related research as part of its mission.  As a result of new funding mandates, CDC this year has been forced to dramatically reduce its firearm-related injury research, and CDC-funded gunshot injury surveillance programs will come to an end in several states.

All this comes at a time when gunshot injuries are expected to soon outstrip automobile accidents as the number one cause of injury death in the U.S., costing an estimated $20 billion yearly in medical costs and lost productivity.  Surprisingly little medical research monitors the kinds of firearm injuries that occur or the types of guns used.  While the CDC samples unshot injury data from 91 hospitals around the country, there is no comprehensive national surveillance system to accurately track how many people are wounded by guns each year..

Surveillance is the sham used to explain what Federal officials think a greater priority.  Those who have more power than a weapon might wield understand the statistics on civilian gun wounds would not please or appease Americans.  Information on gun injury might shift the fear factor.  If the people are to remain focused on foreign forces, then FISA, the Bill that keeps on giving to the politically powerful, will remain safe, and after all, is that not the truer issue.  As foreign correspondent Christopher Hedges reminds us . . .

It (the law) is about using terrorism (at home or abroad) as a pretext to permit wholesale spying and to silence voices that will allow us to maintain an open society.

Thankfully, when prized pistols are in question, it is easy to silence voices of dissent.  Physicians were not asked to speak before the Supreme Court shot down a ban on gun sales.  Had they had the opportunity Americans and the Justices might have heard  . . .

Doctors worried by Supreme Court gun ruling

By Maggie Fox

Reuters

Wed Jul 9, 2008 7:44pm EDT

Washington (Reuters) – Last month’s Supreme Court ruling striking down a strict gun control law in the U.S. capital will lead to more deaths and accidental injuries, the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine said on Wednesday.

They joined a growing clamor from medical doctors, especially emergency room physicians, who fear a surge of accidental deaths, murders, and suicides if handguns become more easily available than they already are.

The ruling struck down a law in Washington that forbade personal ownership of handguns.  The court made explicit, for the first time, that Americans had rights as individuals to own guns.

It won praise from President George W. Bush, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and guns rights advocates (and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama)

Justice Antonin Scalia, who voted with the 5-4 majority on the decision, said citizens may prefer handguns for home defense because they “can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police.”

Perchance, Justice Scalia would be comforted to know, that with thanks to his cohorts  in the Legislative Branch, when a city dweller or a rural resident telephones for assistance, he or she can be comforted by the thought the authorities are very close by.  Indeed, public officials may be plugged into the individual’s phone, and computer.  In the Summer of Separation, as powerbrokers in one part of Washington said , “Hello To Arms,” those on the other side of the Hill proclaimed, “Farewell To Privacy.”

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act established thirty years ago was all but rescinded.  The court system created to help public officials in a crisis is no longer needed to swiftly serve warrants when an investigation is requested.  The Constitution has been compromised.

Lawmakers are already justifying their votes for making major changes to that proven regime by saying that the bill is a reasonable compromise that updates FISA technologically and will make it somewhat harder to spy on Americans abroad. But none of that mitigates the bill’s much larger damage. It would make it much easier to spy on Americans at home, reduce the courts’ powers, and grant immunity to the companies that turned over Americans’ private communications without a warrant.

It would allow the government to bypass the FISA court and collect large amounts of Americans’ communications without a warrant simply by declaring that it is doing so for reasons of national security. It cuts the vital “foreign power” provision from FISA, never mentions counterterrorism and defines national security so broadly that experts think the term could mean almost anything a president wants it to mean.

The President is abundantly pleased.  The present Commander-In-Chief is now assured ultimate power.  Future potential Chief Executives, one of whom voted to support this conciliatory commitment to telecommunication companies, will forever retain the “right” to be spy on the citizenry.   In the Summer of Separation, cognitive and Constitutional dissonance is secure.  Congress and the courts assured us of this.

Congress cast aside the Fourth Amendment,  The Supreme Court rescinded the essence of the Second Amendment.  Our countrymen are now be free to carry a gun, and chat on an open line with the trigger cocked.  Former President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt  told us “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.”  Perhaps, the prominent predecessor could not have predicted a day when citizens would be convinced to embrace fretfulness, to forego freedom, and to sing, “Farewell to privacy.  Hello to Arms.”

References and Rights . . .

The American Legion Reply, Part II

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

A few days ago I wrote about my interaction with the American Legion.  I wrote at first to complain about the organizational support of FISA revision to include telecom amnesty.  The ongoing correspondence between myself and Mr. Steve Robertson of the AL continued into today.  While the correspondence has been amicable, we reached a cavernous divide in our thinking.  As of this moment much of my original and continuing concerns is not addressed.  The entire discussion is too lengthy for a diary, but I will try not to slant my coverage.  Representative parts are being chosen to the best of my ability.

My first comments to the AL were brief and spoke to the erosion of Constitutional rights if we allow retroactive amnesty for illegal acts in addition to the continued erosion of our right to privacy included in the bill.  The initial reply was soon revealed to be a form letter sent to all of us veterans who sent a reply in accordance with McJoan’s first posting.

Mr. Robertson responded to my concern about the failure to address a single one of my expressed concerns.

We only received 20 emails opposing S. 2248, so the same response to assure consistency in our official reply.  You must have been involved in some kind of an organized grassroots campaign to defeat S. 2248 in order to know that the same response was sent to others.

What a fine observation he makes.  I admit to being a political activist concerned with our Constitutional rights and wary of governmental invasion of our rights to privacy on all levels.

Then he continued saying

However, when I received another email in response, each was answered independently in an attempt to address specific concerns.

From here we continued a discussion today.

The first reply included

These measures are remedial at best however, do not provide the tools our intelligence professionals need to protect the Nation or the certainty needed by the intelligence professionals and their private partners.

To which I replied

What tools are missing?

In the same reply I asked again for factual support to the initial claim of terrorist acts prevented in past with information gained by surveillance.  My questions continued

Given the fact the government has a window of 72 hours before a warrant is required how does the current FISA act limt surveillance in any serious way?

The reply came quickly

Besides, it makes no sense to impose FISA requirements in the context of surveillance of targets located overseas.  Meeting the current emergency authorization and going through the FISA Court within 72 hours for every overseas foreign intelligence target, would quite simply overwhelm current resources and manpower, especially those linguists and analysts dedicated to covering al-Qa’ida and other foreign threat.

Maybe I am wrong but it seems to me if the Attorney General has enough information to justify surveillance that should satisfy the FISA Court without further ado.  Mr. Robertson chose to ignore that suggestion.

No real answer to most of my questions was provided.  My final piece of the conversation included my thoughts about telecom amnesty

Such amnesty is not acceptable under any circumstance if we are to hold to our democracy for the future.

 I went further to worry about the Fourth Amendment and Constitutional protection against the provision of laws with retroactive clauses.

The end result was an amicable parting.  No definitive or qualitative addressing of any of my real concerns was forthcoming.  Maybe some such will be part of the future, but is not part of today.

Peace.

Reminder for one and all.  I am running for Congress, DE-AL.  Please check out the website or the ActBlue page and support the effort.  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed.  Contributions of all sorts, both moral and monetary are most appreciated.

The American Legion Replied Today

copyright © 2007 Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

Originally written on February 28, 2008

The American Legion is asking its members to use their power in moving Congress to pass the Bush legislation giving full telecom immunity from prosecution for their cooperation in illegal wiretaps.  McJoan had a front page post at Daily Kos telling the sad tale.  In accordance with McJoan’s suggestion we veterans contact the American Legion, I sent an e-mail letter outlining my objections to the bill and requesting a reconsideration of their position.  A reply came to my mailbox moments ago.  Excerpts from their letter along with my thoughts and observations follow over the fold.

The letter begins with the usual platitudes:

Thank you for your honorable military service and for sharing your views and concerns with The American Legion.

I doubt they found any pleasure in my strong words about their stance.

The Department of Justice and the Intelligence Community are taking all the steps possible to try to keep the country safe during this current period of uncertainty.

The fearmongering goes right on.  Most of the uncertainty in these times is the direct result of administration mistakes around the world.  Many of the steps being taken by the Justice Department are illegal and immoral.  

These measures are remedial at best however, do not provide the tools our intelligence professionals need to protect the Nation or the certainty needed by the intelligence professionals and their private partners.

Private partners is the appropriate concern in this sentence.  The only concern is for protection of the telecoms from prosecution.  They have no real interest in providing increased intelligence capability.  There is plenty of latitude provided by laws in place today without extending retroactive immunity to the telecoms.  

(snip)

The American Legion believes S. 2248 would modernize FISA, ensure the future cooperation of the private sector, and safeguard the very civil liberties we all value.

The only liberty being protected by this extension is from prosecution and that extends to the telecoms.  Citizens are in no way served by the bill.

(snip)

Since enactment of the Protect America Act, the intelligence community has obtained information about efforts of an individual to become a suicide operative, efforts by terrorists to obtain guns and ammunition, and terrorists transferring money.  Other information obtained, thanks in large part to these new authorities, has led to the disruption of planned terrorist attacks.

I am about as likely to believe those lies as I am to accept any others put forth by the administration.  Let us see the proof or stop passing along false or misleading information.

(snip)

Currently, FISA’s requirements impair the ability to collect information on foreign intelligence targets located overseas.

Huh???  How can that be?  There are no real limits once the FISA Court issues a warrant.  In very few instances have those warrants been denied to date.

… the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment requires “probable cause” and  where the civil liberties of Americans are implicated.  However, this is illogical to require a showing of probable cause for surveillance of overseas foreign targets who are not entitled to the same Fourth Amendment protections.

So long as the interception is on American soil and may involve an American citizen I believe the Fourth Amendment applies.  I would prefer we extend the rights of Fourth Amendment protection to all communications around the world.  In that instance the FISA court could issue a warrant allowing the signal interception once the government proves the worth of the intelligence gathering in the first place.

The letter continues with lots more blah and blah about needs for intelligence gathering and is signed by Steve Robertson, Director ?National Legislative Commission.  The entire piece is one fine bit of propaganda.  Anyone interested in the full text can e-mail me for a copy.  Jerry at Northington08.com

Our nation has a history of surviving hard times as well as enjoying good times.  We are a resilient nation of diverse human beings.  Together we as a nation are the best in the world, but we must work together.  We are all in this political, geographical, and societal stew together.  We maintain our individual characteristics and yet we share a basic sameness in our humanity.

The future is in all our hands, fellow citizens.  There are definitive choices to be made today.  We, the voters, will determine the future.  I, for one, trust you will choose wisely in following your heart to support the person you feel most likely to bring a future of well being to our world.  If we can get some movement toward substantive debate and question and answer sessions that allow us to determine the exact nature of our choices, our choices will be so much more easily made as we are able to make informed decisions.

I say bring on those historians, social scientists, and natural science experts.  Let them ask real questions and let the media report the answers.  Let us see an end to the fluff and fun of what passes for interviews today.  Let us hear questions and answers of real substance for a change.  That is one change I support with every fiber of my being.  How about you?

Reminder for one and all.  I am running for Congress, DE-01.  Please check out the website or the ActBlue page and support the effort.  Your help is needed for the effort to succeed and is most deeply appreciated.