Beyond the Cusp

April 17, 2013

Another Visit to the Liberty vs. Security Debate

No article on this subject can avoid quoting one of the numerous variations on the Benjamin Franklin quote where he said something close to these reputed words, “People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.” Often simply quoting Ben Franklin is enough to consider the discussion closed, but where does one draw the line allowing for the most amounts of freedoms and liberties while also ensuring comfortable levels of security. This is where the normal discussion debates the different segments which governments utilize in order to provide security and in this information and computerized age the line can be crucial and must not be drawn with any lack of clarity. The advent of miniaturization, high powered optics, computerized facial recognition software, super-sensitive microphones, spy satellites capable of reading newsprint from orbit, thermal imaging which can “see” through walls, laser sound detectors which can monitor conversations in a room by measuring the slightest vibrations of the glass in a window, abilities to activate cell phones in order to use the camera and microphone to monitor the room were the phone sits, electronic data surveillance capabilities and processing with untold capabilities, universal electronic monitoring capabilities, and other items which easily have the ability to make privacy a quaint old idea whose time has long passed. The majority of the capabilities mentioned above have existed and been utilized by the majority of governments in the industrial world since the middle 1980s or the early 1990s at the latest. The capabilities available to current government agencies leave the citizenry absolutely no place to hide and their lack of knowledge of any person of interest that is being monitored could only be explained by human error. For those who might propose that there are limits on the government spying on their own citizens, I am happy to report that you are correct in your belief that laws guard the individual against unofficial warrantless searches and data gathering. Unfortunately, for quite a while now there has been a treaty between the English speaking nations of Canada, Britain, United States and Australia concerning this problem. By this treaty a list of persons of interest from each country is presented to the other nations who in turn request surveillance on these individuals of their home country by one or more of the other countries. Often each of the member countries would request different set of requests thus should one request be discovered the rest of the investigation would remain undisturbed. The home country then collects the information and passes the raw data which is processed by the foreign nation. Once the data has been organized and processed it is returned to the home country which wished to observe one of their citizens.

The one reassuring item is the ability that governments have displayed for incompetence and missing the forest for the trees. I would not want my privacy or worse to depend on the government’s incompetence but with the investigatory powers available to the government with all the modern data processing and state of the art sensors, no individual is beyond the government’s ability to be able to tell you all of your most guarded secrets and even the smallest of facts no matter how mundane and inconsequential. With all the technical abilities available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies it is remarkable that any crime is able to be committed without the authorities lying in wait before the crime has been committed and nabbing the lawbreaker in the midst of the crime. About the only thing lacking for the government to attempt to emulate the movie “Minority Report” are the psychics wired up to a computer in the basement of the FBI future crimes division. The government is currently gathering agreements with credit card companies, banks, credit unions, communications companies, utility providers and so much more to get them to allow the government to splice into their data banks and use all the data they have gathered on anybody without any need to bother any officials for permission. This includes the coming smart meters measuring electricity and in the near future smart grid appliances which will be capable of reporting each individual appliance and its use of power. This will also allow remote control of these appliances, remote setting of thermostats on heating and airconditioning units, even recording the number of times the power to the refrigerator increased by the small amount that turning on the light causes when you open the door. So many items which were purely science fiction a few decades ago are now or soon to be possible to government in order to inspect every tiny bit of minutia concerning your life.

Benjamin Franklin would become apoplectic if he was transported to our modern world. Once he realized the powers to intrude into the citizens’ private life by government he would likely turn hermit and remove all electronic devices from his residence. Paranoid delusions would be the likely psychological diagnosis of Ben Franklin’s mental breakdown as he was taken away babbling something about liberty has died in his dear loved country of America. The debate of how much liberty or freedoms we might compromise upon to grant government the necessary powers to make us more safe is mute and no longer necessary. We no longer have any liberties or freedoms against government interference and monitoring of every iota of our existences to trade away for security. The real problem is that even with total knowledge at their fingertips the government is still incapable of providing us with absolute security. Yesterday’s bombing in Boston stands as a case in point. About the only power the government does not possess is to be able to read your mind and know your intent, though there is a partnership between the government and Google working on understanding how the mind thinks and developing AI (Artificial Intelligence) where the government will permit Google complete access to the vast majority of their collected data collected by government agencies such as the IRS, Census Bureau, and many others at all levels of government, Federal, State, County, Township and City. They are gaining permission from all levels of governments around the nation with promises of providing better services and other benefits from this research. The amounts of data mining being accomplished by government at all levels is beyond imagination and the lack of security in our persons, houses, papers, and effects has dwindled out of existence and with it our rights as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment which reads;

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Liberties and Freedoms as envisioned by the Founding Fathers have evaporated before the heat of advancing technologies. There is virtually nothing which can be considered beyond the government’s ability to know if they are persistent and bring all of their capabilities to bear. The only hopes we have is to retain our protections against having such information from being used against us in a court of law. Beyond that we are likely fighting a losing battle. Our hopes for security of our privacy are now relegated to the whims of government bureaucrats and the officers of the government. Should this make you feel uneasy and raise your levels of concern then you probably have a desire to some level of privacy from the encroaching eyes, ears and sensors of government. It is not so much that we the people have surrendered our liberties, freedoms, and privacies as much as it is the government’s power to compromise these rights have become overtly formidable. How we regain the upper hand in this struggle is beyond me but that does not mean it is not an effort worth taking. If we can rescue even the slightest measure of our eviscerated privacies then any effort expended was worth the struggle.

Beyond the Cusp

March 15, 2013

If We Save Only One Child’s Life

If We Save Only One Child’s Life

 

Senator Dianne Feinstein, President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the rest of the legions of gun-grabbers all have a love affair with the phrase, “If we save only one child’s life our efforts will be worth the time and trouble we spend fighting those Neanderthal gun-nuts.” There is the false claim that nobody needs these so-called “assault weapons” to hunt deer. There are two problems with this argument. First, no soldier in their right mind would take one of these so-called “assault weapons” into a combat situation when real assault weapons capable of sustained fire or burst mode are available thus the weapons in question are nothing like real assault weapons. Second, the Second Amendment is not about hunting or target shooting or any other recreational pursuit requiring firearms and these spiteful politicians know this full well but persist in lying hoping that we the people are ignorant enough to take their words for everything. Fortunately, many people have begun to wake to the real meaning behind the designs of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Most are also relearning the justifications and revolutionary concepts behind the Declaration of Independence. Some have even traced the ideas and ideals back through the political philosophers whose ideas were the inspirations behind much of the forming of the United States and have even traced the concept that man is a noble creature capable of self-rule all the way back to the Magna Carta. There are those who have also traced the concepts of individual liberty and that government is formed to serve the people and that those who rule, even kings and other nobility, are forbid to take treasure of any sort, not gold, silver, gems, horses, cattle or other excesses greater than any normal subject possesses which is contained in the Bible in Deuteronomy and other books. These people also have become aware that the Second Amendment was written to allow the people to restrict government whenever it became unwieldy and broke the original promises made to the people and instead began to be an oppressive burden. To this end the Second Amendment was written to allow the common people to own the same weaponry as was utilized by any who were in the service of the government including the military or any form of law enforcement. This little truth puts the lie to the myth of legal gun control in the United States.

 

Unfortunately, far too many citizens in the great lands of the United States have settled into a comfort where they prefer to allow the government to usurp many of the responsibilities which the Founding Fathers took great care in assuring that such power would remain with the people to the extent that the United States Constitution forbade the government these powers. But as the people came to live in great concentrations in large cities, even megalopolises, they no longer provided for themselves in the same manner as the founding generation. No longer do most Americans ever meet the farmers and herders who raise their food. They often do not even know the people who live on their block, let alone most of those who reside in their community and definitely not the entire city. They have become cogs in a large machine. With this change the people no longer know the people who represent them in the government, not even the city government who are supposed to be the closest government to the people and the one that most affects their lives. Reading the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights and one realizes exactly what President Obama meant when he described the Constitution as a document of negative rights. He did not mean it denied the people of rights but that it forbid the government from growing or performing beyond strict limitations. The most striking evidence of this concept is contained in the Bill of Rights with the Tenth Amendment being the most glaring evidence of limiting the Federal Government. It reads, “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.” You probably could not find a better or more forceful way to state that the Federal Government is prohibited from exercising powers or jurisdictions beyond some strict limitations. The exceptions to the limitations are spelled out within the constitution and anything not listed there as a power permitted to the Federal Government or strictly forbidden for the States to perform, then the Federal Government may not exercise such powers. When reading the Bill of Rights you see that there are distinct rights listed which are granted to the people and the Federal Government is forbidden to curtail or limit these freedoms. Adding to the Tenth Amendment is the Ninth Amendment which reads, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This plainly grants that the rights of the people are limitless and beyond the power of the Federal Government to constrain, limit, or otherwise deny the innumerable rights which are granted to the people by the right of personhood. Such a powerful statement is one that was intended to warn politicians and public servants that they only held power at the permission of the peoples and the peoples did not have to turn to government for their freedom as it was theirs independent of the government and guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

 

Some claim that the most powerful of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights is the First Amendment which contains five freedoms placed beyond the reach of government. The First Amendment reads “ Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” These rights allow the individual great amounts of personal power over their life and to express their beliefs and opinions free of government influences or limitations; express grievance with the government and expect the government to respond and correct or repair damages or other infringements; report news and political opinions without restrictions or censorship by the government; and lastly to assemble in pursuit of goals or activities free of government limitations. The rest of the Bill of Rights has more restrictions limiting the government from injecting itself or its limitations and restrictions over the individual or group of individuals. The problem which people had always faced in restraining government came about as the government always had held all the power over the people and the people were unarmed. The government having all of the arms could even act beyond limitations which were supposedly established on them by founding documents or other legal writings. This was the entire concept behind the Second Amendment, to arm the people as well and as powerfully as was the government thus making the people the equal and not the subjects. The phrase that has found favor with many supporters of the Second Amendment is a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson which reads, “ When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” Now tell Senator Dianne Feinstein and President Barack Obama to leave our guns alone and simply inquire as to what part of “shall not be infringed” they do not understand.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 3, 2012

Our Problem with National Defense Authorization Act for 2012

Most of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 is perfectly justifiable and there is no problem with it. The authorization of $662 billion in funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad is something to be expected in such a piece of legislation. It also imposes new economic sanctions against Iran which is a nice plus. The whole five hundred plus pages are exactly what one would expect replete with summations and assessments of the numerous potential adversaries which may conceivably end up necessitating the attentions of our military. But, unfortunately, there is one small section buried within the legislation which empowers the President, and thus indirectly the Administrative Branch of the Government, with the ability to compromise an American citizen’s civil rights without gaining any approvals, warrants, writs, or involving any other branch of our government. This is the problem which needs to be addressed.

The questionable section gives the President the power to incarcerate indefinitely any American citizen “suspected” of “association” with terrorists without charge or trial. This, if I have my Bill of Rights correct, violates, at a minimum, Amendment IV, Amendment V and Amendment VI while it might also be inferred to violate Amendment VIII and Amendment IX for good measure. The problem is that unlike most laws, anybody who falls victim to this provision in the National Defense Authorization Act will be completely unable to challenge their incarceration in any court as they will be carted off to places unknown very likely without the knowledge of anybody as to what has happened or even where they disappeared to. All that will be known is that somebody is missing and beyond reach and unable for anybody to locate. This section needs for somebody with the financial and legal resources to challenge its Constitutionality starting in whatever court which is appropriate, probably a Federal District Court or higher. I would simply be ecstatic if there is some venue by which this is challenged directly at the Supreme Court as I am absolutely sure this is where it should be heard and will end up there eventually, the sooner the better. Hopefully some patriot somewhere U.S.A. will get their druthers up over this evil deviation from American ideals of justice and negation of American justice and take on the usurper powers who deigned to design this destruction of liberty before anybody is felled and made to simply disappear.

Beyond the Cusp

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