promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

Posts Tagged ‘civil liberties’

Fort Hood, fear mongering, infringement on civil liberties

In liberty and rights, politics on November 24, 2009 at 3:00 am

The tragedy of Fort Hood, like Sept. 11, 2001, is being turned into another excuse to partake in anti-Muslim rhetoric and to call for the infringement on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. So too, may the tragedy be used as a catalyst to infringe on the privacy of non-Muslim Americans.

Consider the following statements by conservative darling Sarah Palin in a recent interview with Fox News:

“Profiling in the sense of finding out what his radical beliefs were. Profiling, in the context of doing whatever we can to save innocent American lives, I’m all for it then.”

And this statement by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) in a recent interview with CNN:

“I’m not only worried about these types of people potentially being in the military, I’m concerned about these folks being everyday Americans, around America, living among us who may have become or are in the process of becoming radicalized.”

This kind of fear-inducing rhetoric is nothing new in American politics. It was used to rally the America people against American Japanese during World War II and to justify their relocation to internment camps. Similar rhetoric was also used during the “Red Scare.” Americans need to realize that if they do not believe in civil liberties for those they fear, they do not believe in them at all.

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Conservatives’ rosy-colored retrospect of the Bush years

In politics on November 8, 2009 at 1:24 am

Americans suffer from long-term memory loss. Their short term works just fine. It’s every four to eight years, when the changing of the guard occurs in Washington D.C., that they seem to forget what they learned from their own party. When the other “side” returns to power they are once again happy to cling to their partisan beliefs and take comfort in their partisan news sources.

Point in case: the conservatives.

During the eight years of the Bush administration, many conservatives learned a lesson. The scales fell of their eyes, so to speak.

After 9/11, many conservatives, caught up in the fervor of patriotism and the fear of terrorism, supported George W. Bush. When he stood at ground zero and spoke through his megaphone, they listened. But as the war on terror escalated, along with the war on domestic terror, many on the right began to have their doubts.

The PATRIOT Act, Military Commissions Act and renewal of FISA were just some of the actions by the Republicans and Bush that began to raise red flags for many conservatives. Even FOX News lost much of its likeability with its war trumpeting, support for the PATRIOT Act and belittling of 9-11 “truthers” and Ron Paul supporters. Many on the right began to realize that the two-party system was, in reality, a one-party system. Their long held beliefs that the Republican Party was the party of small government and liberty were shattered.

And when Bush bailed out the banking industry, simultaneously increasing the national debt and federal government power, conservatives appeared to have had enough.

But nine months into the leftist Obama administration and conservatives are once again tuning into FOX News — confident this time, Beck and Hannity are on their side.

It’s as if conservatives are betrayed “lovers” who swore never to go back to the party they loved after being cheated on. But after professing its undying love and promising to be faithful, the Republican Party/FOX News machine has once again wooed many conservatives.

Conservatives now are more concerned with ACORN and socialism than they are the permanent threats to their civil liberties George W. Bush created. They have forgotten their brief, anti-war sympathies and traded them in for a watchful, ready eye on Iran. 

Perhaps conservatives and liberals will never permanently reject the parties supposedly representing them. Maybe it’s human nature to want to believe in ideological differences and take sides. If four to eight years is all it takes for partisans to forget the atrocities committed by their own party, perhaps a one-party system is what they deserve.

PATRIOT Act here to stay

In liberty and rights on October 8, 2009 at 4:22 am

Today, the Judiciary Committee will continue its debate on the renewal of key provision of the PATRIOT Act that are set to expire in December. While some Democrats are unsuccessfully trying to amend the PATRIOT Act to provide increased privacy protection for American citizens, all are in favor of renewing the provisions.

However, FOX News inaccurately described the provisions as being on the “chopping block.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even a bill proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont to amend some of the provisions has been dramatically weakened. The new version, according to The New York Times, is a “significantly weaker substitute that he hammered out with Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.”

The Times continued to opine:

“Most disheartening, that substitute dropped language that would have allowed the government to secretly obtain Americans’ business records or ‘tangible things’ only where there is some connection to terrorism or espionage. Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat of Illinois, proposed an amendment to require a terrorism connection, but it failed.”

PATIOT Act provisions considered especially dangerous by the ACLU include:

  • National Security Letters (NSLs).
  • Material Support Statute.
  • FISA Amendments Act of 2008.

The abuse of National Security Letters by the federal government has been especially frightening. NSLs are what the government uses when it wants to “compel internet service providers, libraries, banks, and credit reporting companies to turn over sensitive information about their customers and patrons.” According to the ACLU, 50,000 of these secret record demands go out each year.

It’s not surprising that these provisions, originally “sunseted” to protect the American people, are being renewed. Likewise, it is not surprising that President Barack Obama, in George-W.-Bush-fashion, supports renewing them. What is surprising is the lack of outrage from the American people. Perhaps they are too busy listening to the fair, balanced and inaccurate reporting of Fox News.