Danger, Danger!

It seems that the battle for liberty will never end. Even our most basic liberties, such as the rights to a fair trial, free speech, free religion, and a free press, enshrined in the US Constitution by our forward-thinking founders who feared that later generations may try to impose the yoke of tyranny on our Republic, are constantly, ceaselessly under siege. Don’t be fooled; this attack on the people does not spring solely from the outside, from freedom-hating communists and Islamists, but also from within our own ranks.

At the present moment, it is clear that many of our elected officials were lying through their teeth when they “solemnly swore” to uphold the Constitution of the United States, among which pack of tyrants is our own President! Yes, if you’ll remember from a few scattered news stories back in December, Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Year 2012, containing language authorizing the indefinite definition of American citizens without cause or trial. Sure, he claimed to have “serious reservations” about the aforementioned arrest powers, but those turned out to be false after he vigorously defended the law in court.

Back in June, I didn’t find it necessary to talk at length about NDAA or explain why our right not to be randomly seized for any reason whatsoever is absolutely sacred (it’s the difference between peace and Soviet Union-era forced labor camps), as New York District Court Judge Katharine Forrest ruled the disputed sections of the Act unconstitutional, but now, the Lil’ Stalin Act is back in play. You heard me right; Obama and his attack hounds lawyers have appealed Forrest’s decision, and for at least the next 10 days, before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals makes its own ruling on NDAA, the injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the law has been suspended.

Would this be a good time to panic? Probably not. The military’s right to indefinite detention of US citizens (and legal resident immigrants, for that matter) is so blatantly unconstitutional that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals will more than likely agree with the honorable Judge Forrest. Even if the appeals court’s ruling should fail; the “Freedom 7” journalists will bring NDAA to the Supreme Court, where it will be unlikely that Obama will win given the current Court’s disposition on the right to trial (it has ruled in favor of it 3 times since 2003).

There is obviously something to fear in the current state of our habeas corpus rights; most obviously the possibility (however small) that the case against NDAA will end in a loss for our republic and its Constitution, but also the danger that draconian laws in this vein will keep coming regardless of the courts’ desire to uphold our rights.

Consider that NDAA 2012 saw a near-unanimous approval in the Senate (92-8), a huge margin of victory in the House (283-136), and was met with relatively little concern by the people. This is disconcerting. We live in an age still populated with repressive dictators (i.e. Kim Jong-Un, Vladimir Putin), and yet the people of the United States are eager to forget that the “American Freedom” that we pride ourselves on is built not by good will, not by the smiles on campaigning politicians’ faces, but by laws which narrowly restrict the authority of government officials.

Without a vigorously enforced Constitution, we might as well end up under the thumb of Big Brother, constantly in fear of being executed, jailed, or simply removed from the public. This isn’t what we need to turn to, we still live in a democratically elected system, and we as citizens have the power to take action and stop the USA from turning into the USSA. Contact your Congressman/woman. Get informed about your rights. Don’t vote for politicians who want to take away our rights, and get the word out to others so that they will do the same. Remember, if it takes 100 keys to open a door, every key counts, so no individual standing up for his/her rights is “wasting time” or “unnecessary” for the movement to succeed.

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Elected Angels

Whenever we see President Obama appear on TV and express his support for democracy and a prosperous nation, most of us would probably believe that he earnestly means the words that come out of his mouth, that he completely supports popular government.

When we watch old speeches of Josef Stalin promising his people freedom and prosperity, on the other hand, we immediately identify his statements as a farce, an empty attempt at fooling the populus into believing that he is not the hideous tyrant that he is.

Such is the conventional view that the sons and daughters of most Western nations are brought up on; children are taught from a young age that Presidents are good and dictators are bad. When we grow older, we often retain the tendency to be more skeptical of the leaders of more authoritarian nations, and are likely to afford a greater amount of trust to people like Clinton or Obama than to people like Mussolini or Milosevic.

However, does the democratic process of election unequivocally separate those who intend to rule with an iron fist from those who intend to rule by the people? I think not.

Take a look at the following articles; one’s on Putin, and one’s on Obama.

http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/World/Story/A1Story20120714-359072.html

http://news.antiwar.com/2012/07/13/obama-order-gives-power-to-seize-control-of-all-communications-systems/

In the red corner, we have Vladimir Putin, who has written into law a provision declaring NGOs like Human Rights Watch or the World Wildlife Fund as “enemy agents” (what kind of weapons do human rights advocates carry?), and re-criminalized the slander of state officials. Putin is generally deemed as reprehensible in the US; he’s had a history of using loopholes in the law to increase his power, seized control of media outlets to weaken the influence of opposing candidates, and held executive dominance over Russia even when Dmitri Medvedev, his faithful subordinate, held the office of President. Scary, isn’t he?

In the blue ring, we have Barack Obama, who has claimed that he has the authority to take control of the Internet, phone lines, or any other communications systems in the event of an “emergency”. Disliked by some but lauded by many, Obama’s had a history of attempting to write the laws by himself (he attempted to make ACTA into a law without putting it to a Congressional vote), signing laws that would give him the authority to arrest anyone at any time (and then trying to undermine the authority of judges who declare those laws unconstitutional), and launching drone strikes that end up killing civilians.

Is the President truly that much more moral than Putin?

Don’t make the assumption that I equate Obama with Putin; Obama has a greater degree of respect for human life and welfare, however, he has very little respect for the limits of his own power. He has pushed for draconian legislation that would, if not for the intervention of judiciaries (and sometimes Congress), give him power that would make the Founding Fathers vomit.

As such, we shouldn’t put any executive governmental figure –democratically elected or not– beyond strict scrutiny of his/her fundamental attitude towards government. The corrupt heads of the Russian political system, like the wrongdoers of the Bush and Obama administrations, are all people, and as human beings in power are capable of (and prone to) committing heinous crimes, we must never turn our backs upon people, lest we be consumed by an ever-expanding sphere of governmental authority.

Election 2012: Choosing the lesser of two evils

Political campaign ads have become all the more common on the Internet in light of the upcoming Presidential election this November. Up until now, I had paid little attention to them, as I consider Romney to be the more favorable candidate (he is less friendly to Big Government than Obama is), but now, for those interested in preserving liberty, the presidential and congressional elections must be carefully balanced in order to prevent some dastardly legislative plans that each party has in store.

Obamacare on the left, cyber-tyranny on the right

The Democrats’ “Affordable Care Act” is a ticking time bomb waiting to  make costs and prices skyrocket with its mandate that all Americans purchase health insurance, and since we can’t rely on the Supreme Court to actually uphold the Constitution, it will take a repeal by a Republican Congress to prevent the ACA from being implemented.

If Romney is elected this November, a slight majority of Republicans in both houses of Congress will probably be enough to send Obamacare packing, but if Obama wins the election, however, anything less than a 2/3 Republican majority in both houses of Congress will not be able to stop the ACA before it is implemented.

Unfortunately, such a significant majority of Republicans in Congress, with or without a President of the same party, is not particularly appealing. The Republican Party has been more supportive of the draconian stream of cyber-“security” legislation which threatens to give the government unprecedented access to our data and unreasonable authority to deliver felony sentences for minor copyright infractions, and with the right number of legislators, it could turn such dangerous measures into law.

To be fair, Republicans aren’t the only ones supporting measures that would essentially destroy our freedom on the Internet, and since SOPA and PIPA were never put to a vote, we can’t assume that the majority of Republicans in Congress inexorably supported them, but as the opponents of CISPA (a bill that, while less potent than SOPA, is nonetheless undesirable) in the House of Representatives were predominantly on the left side of the aisle, it would be safe to guess that the Democratic Party is more likely to guard the Internet than the GOP.

The dilemma

No matter how the elections turn out this November, both CISPA-esque measures and Obamacare could end up going through. No action, in any area of life, produces an inevitable result, and thus, it behooves us to balance the possible consequences of any electoral outcome.

It seems to me that a very thin Republican majority (perhaps 52-48) in both houses of Congress, as well as a Romney Presidency, will result in a likely repeal of Obamacare without a likely pass of CISPA, as it will allow both parties to counteract one another’s dangerous ambitions. The liberty that lies at the foundation of the US Constitution was produced by compromises that prevented groups of people from exercising their whim when it grew inimical to the public, and that is the way we must progress in the future in order to prevent the death of the freedoms we hold dear.

Ignorance is bliss…until they send you to Gitmo

“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.” -Martin Niemöller

I’m going to go ahead and assume that most American adults aren’t very involved in or informed about politics, given that more of them can identify the Kardashians and whatever the hell they’re up to (I wouldn’t know) than our own vice President, Joe Biden. Scary, huh? What if I told you that the public knows more about The Simpsons than our own rights? More Americans can identify them than our 5 First Amendment rights, so tell me: How can you protect your freedoms if you aren’t even aware of them? 

“Oh, but the government would never attack my Fir-”

Not true. Take the recent case of Tarek Mehanna, who was convicted of “conspiring to kill U.S soldiers in Iraq” just 12 days ago. What were the charges brought against him? Discussing the morality of suicide bombings online and with his local Islamic community, translating texts from Jihadi websites from Arabic to English (we all know that translation means endorsing), and researching the 9/11 attacks. The ACLU’s attempts to dismiss the case on the basis of Tarek’s First Amendment rights were met with a sound rejection by a District Court. Whether the case will be appealed in the Supreme Court has not been determined yet, but that’s beside the point. You probably didn’t know about this until just now, neither do majority of people, whether they follow the news or not. Hell, I didn’t know about this until 20 minutes ago, so why am I blogging about this? It’s not simply because it’s an attack on freedom (those have happened and will continue to happen all across history), nor is it because there is a chance that the courts won’t serve justice in the end. It’s because mainstream society doesn’t realize the danger our freedoms are continually in, nor does it particularly care.

You could argue that big-time news stations such as FOX or MSNBC don’t pay enough attention to civil liberty-related events such as Snyder v. Phelps, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, or the passing of the NDAA bill (well, there is some concern for NDAA going around, but it’ll have to be handled by the courts at this point), but that’s only because what the news shows reflects what the people want to see. And what do the people want to see? Apart from whatever crawls out of Hollywood, the issues with the most attention given to them are all about the budget, debt, and jobs. Those are critical issues, but why are people paying more attention to Hollywood when Congress is trying to turn the President into a dictator? Especially in a democratic country, it is part of our duty as well as part of our power to monitor and defend our freedoms, because who else will? Our system of checks and balances was created to counterbalance the ambitions of elected officials, but when we, as a people, let down our guard and trust the government, don’t expect officials to be Mahatama Gandhi when it comes to unchecked power. The government may say they are only fighting terrorism today, but when checks and balances are replaced by trust and complacency, and liberty is sacrificed to preserve safety, nobody will run to your defense when the FBI comes to your doorstep and takes you away for crimes you never committed.