The rule of law (and not man or woman) is vital to a free society. If might makes right there is little room to do business, to invest, to build wealth, to be secure in one’s person, to be an actualized human being. If contracts can be dismissed and government officials and their cronies (in government and the nominal “private sector”) can do as they please because of their connections, we have a problem. And that is what we have now, and it’s getting worse.
(From The New York Times)
The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.
While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”
Crony capitalism comes in many forms. Bailouts for big banks. Subsidies for sugar, corn, and Hollywood. Overly inflated defense contracts. Bridges to nowhere which benefit certain bidders. There are thousands and thousands of examples. But perhaps one of the most insidious forms is when telecommunication companies help the government to spy on Americans without a specific warrant.
The 4th Amendment means something. It is the law. Just because we have people seeking to do us harm does not mean that the 4th Amendment isn’t the law. We have always had bad guys looking to do us harm. We had 45 years of Cold War without flushing the Constitution down the toilet. Indeed we understood that the Constitution fundamentally was the reason we were fighting the Cold War. We should keep this in mind.
At the same time, the government has been fighting in court to keep the identities of its telecom partners hidden. In a recent case, a group of AT&T customers claimed that the N.S.A.’s tapping of the Internet violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. This year, a federal judge dismissed key portions of the lawsuit after the Obama administration argued that public discussion of its telecom surveillance efforts would reveal state secrets, damaging national security.
So the judge said that the lawsuit could not go forward, even though the issue at hand concerns the potential serious violation of the Constitution, because of “national security”?
National security may be an issue, but does it trump the exploration of whether an action is lawful? I suppose that in this case it does. But that should not be.
We must be clear here. We are not saying that spying is unnecessary nor that it shouldn’t be done at all. There are real threats to American security and surveillance within the parameters of the Constitution are reasonable and likely necessary. But extra-constitutional surveillance, even if it makes things easier for the NSA, and/or speeds their efforts is not OK. Such a state of affairs is extremely dangerous for everyday people who are doing absolutely nothing wrong. The government is not God. The everyday American should be able to know that as a citizen they are protected by the rule of law, not subject to the whim of a bureaucrat somewhere.
The Left-fascists, the PC police, the thought police, the progressive regressives, the anti-intellectual advocates of post modern newspeak, whatever you want to call them, are bullies. They are shallow thinking bullies. They know that if there is a debate around certain issues they will lose and lose badly. As such they seek to shut debate down before it begins. That is their only defense because they know deep down that their worldview, based on the Hegelian-Marxist dialectic is excrement.
But it’s their religion and they cling to it and their gun control.
I remember in college my professor explaining to us that the US system of government was too slow. That it was inherently difficult – too difficult he argued. A parliamentary system was much better and would allow “things to get done.” My professor, it was clear resented the restrictions placed on government by the Constitution.
One gets the sense that Obama feels the same way.
It is fair to say that the Republic is in serious peril and that this president has done GREAT damage to this country.
The silver lining to the Obama presidency has been that many people have finally become aware of what our system of government is supposed to look like. Many more people have read the Constitution since Obama came in than before. For too long Americans took our system for granted. It has taken an accelerated assault on the Bill of Rights and our founding document generally – from the White House – to wake at least a large minority up.
Because people who typically go into government are power hungry control freaks who have something to prove to their dads, the elementary school bullies they grew up with or both. That’s my theory.
Good. For crying out loud, somebody should.
I hope that one day we will look back on the Patriot Act in the way we look back on Prohibition now, a huge mistake which gave away too much power to government and undermined the very spirit of what it means to be American.*
I’m actually for restoring the whole Constitution. What do you say?
Sorry folks but Obama in many ways embodies the worst of “progressivism.” His administration is concerned with control, especially of the political narrative.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. – The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Sorry but if one believes in following the Constitution one should have absolutely no beef with cannabis legalization on a state level. It is clearly a state issue if one understands the 10th Amendment. The federal government has no business prohibiting use in the states. None. Absolutely none.
We need to break from the old 20th Century statism which has bloomed as the baby boomers have gotten into positions of power. We need a renaissance of liberty in the universities, in the media, in our schools, in our home life. And like most big social movements it will have to come from the bottom up. (And it has been.)
There is little interest in the official circles of government, academia, or the media in a resurgence of liberal (in the classical sense) thinking. Statism and soft totalitarianism have served them well. They are after all the people in power.
And sadly this political class has done a good job of convincing many everyday people that they simply can’t survive without the state taking care of them. Though the political class never says it openly there is the presumption that most people are little better than animals. That is why everyday people dress the way they do. Have the jobs they do. Eat the terrible unhealthy food that they eat. Waste their time doing what they do.
Liberty, you see only works (and they would never say that it “works”) in theory for smart people. You, you the great unwashed? You can barely put food in your mouth. Best to let the government do it for you. It’s for your own good. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Oh little serf, these ideals will only cause you frustration. Focus instead on doing what you are told. You’ll be much happier.
But what about, “Give me liberty or give me death!”
America is not Europe. We are a country founded by individualists, scoundrels, dreamers, and doers. We do not have the aristocratic legacy of the Old World with its stifling worldview and distinct class system within an ever present welfare state. We are a free people. This country was an escape from Europe. This country is a free land. This freedom is ingrained in our DNA. It is what makes an American an American, no matter that American’s ethnicity. We are bound by an idea not geography or ancestry. America is indeed exceptional in that regard.
The War on Drugs is now 100 years old. It’s caused unfathomable heartache. It’s fattened the wallets of police departments and drug dealers alike. We have prisons full of people there because of drugs. Lives have been torn apart. Families have been torn apart. Countries have been torn apart.
The War on Drugs has made a mockery of the Constitution. Do you think the founders ever envisioned the police digging through the possessions of American citizens in a search for intoxicants? I don’t think so. I think the founders (at least most of them) would have been horrified.
And yet Americans have long been conditioned to accept the gross invasions of privacy which come with the drug war.