Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot,
by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse.
" -- Me

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

DasGov: "You Can Trust Us to Do the Right Thing."


When you drill down through the bullshit, rationales and rhetoric defending the NSA's hoovering of essentially everything that goes across the telecommunications networks, that's what they are saying: That we can trust them not to overstep the boundaries between what is legal and what is not.

First, I question the premise for that. The NSA may be adhering to what is legal, but only because the Congress expanded the definition of what was legal for them to do. The NSA gets wiretapping authorization from a court which has turned down less than a dozen requests out of 30,000. You're eight times more likely to catch a ball during a major league baseball game than the government is to get a warrant request denied by the FISA court. Congressional oversight, at least until the current brouhaha erupted, has apparently been about as effectual as scolding a clowder of feral cats.

Second, the "trust us" advocates are, in my view, deliberate ignoring the bedrock principle of the Constitution and our entire system of government, which is this: Government cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

The Founders were some of the smartest and well-educated men and women[1] in the American Colonies. They had a far deeper understanding of human history and abuse of power than 98% of the people in Congress today.[2] They understood the truth that power corrupts. Hell, they lived through it. They were well aware that Prime Minister Pitt said as much in 1770.[3] They were aware that politicians, in particular, grow to regard their perquisites of power as their just due. They were well aware that powerful people tend to conflate their wants and desires with what is proper for their office.[4]

So when it came time for them to design a government, they did not choose the "trust us" form. They wrote a Constitution of limited powers.[5] After pushback from the states, they immediately passed the Bill of Rights to protect citizens from an intrusive government.[6]

Our government has been pushing to limit the rights and liberties of Americans ever since. From the Alien & Sedition Acts of 1798[7] to the satirically named "USA Patriot Act", our history has been a long process of government and often the courts, trying to limit the rights, freedoms and liberties of Americans. I suspect that the Founders expected as much. We have the right to make our voices heard to those legislators, 90% of them, if the truth were known, would rather only talk to lobbyists and bribe-givers large campaign donors. Oh, they try and make it as hard as they can, from delaying mail to their offices to making it inconvenient to go see them, but we still have the right to speak to them. Or to yell at them in large groups.

Government, of course, keeps trying to limit the rights of citizens, from "First Amendment Free Zones", gun laws, and laws and court rulings that have eviscerated the Fourth Amendment. When it is convenient for the Feds, they have used material witness statutes to get around the Fifth Amendment. By uttering the majickal word "terrorism", they have gotten around the Sixth and Eighth Amendments. They have outsourced torture to ex-Soviet block nations and Arab nations. They have engaged in torture, only calling it "sharp questioning".[8]

The sad thing is that a lot of Americans seem to be just fine with all of this. Admittedly, the poll questions are suspect, at times,[9], it would seem that, just as with the gun control arguments, those who pay the most attention and those who say that they care about the issues seem to come down on the side that the government does not favor.

The lesson there is that if you care about this issue, you need to speak up. You need to contact your congressvermin. Maybe, if your senator is Lindsey Graham or Diane Feinstein, you shouldn't suggest to them that they are so full of shit that they should be composted, but you get the idea. Be respectful in pointing out that they are pro-police-state fascists.[10] Push back against the promulgators of reduced liberties and freedom. Let them know that this is an issue that can swing your vote.

And if you happen to be one of those people who has made four-figure donations, politely suggest to their fundraisers that you intend to hold them accountable for this.

Point out to them that we do not have a "you can trust us to do the right thing" form of government. If we did, we wouldn't need a written constitution, one that makes it very clear to everyone that we have no such form of government.

It's up to all of us, gang.

("DasGov" is borrowed from my co-blogger, Eck!)
_________________________________
[1] I include Abigail Adams in this group.
[2] Probably the same for the Executive branch. Probably a lot less for judges.
[3] "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it."
[4] "Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal."- Richard Nixon
[5] Not like those pissant local zoning codes that say "all uses not permitted are prohibited."
[6] Only one of them has been respected without contest.
[7] The 1798 act had a three-year lifespan and the country damn near fell apart over it. There wasn't just opposition, there were serious calls for a revolution in opposition. The opposition may have led the intellectual groundwork for the Civil War.
 [8] Sorry, "enhanced interrogation".  It was the Gestapo who called it "sharp questioning". Oopsie
[9] And about as subtle as "would you rather have the NSA listen into your telephone calls or die in a terrorist bombing?" Not to mention that I would argue that those who care more about their privacy are less likely to answer a pollster's questions.
[10] There I go again.

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