Category: USAPatriot Act

Eighteen years later, I will fly no flag…

On this day, I will not wave my credentials as an American.

Why? Because I am angry and ashamed of what we have become.

Continue reading “Eighteen years later, I will fly no flag…”

Connecting the Dots, Part 8…

Connecting the Dots, Part 8…

When you were a kid, did you ever read Dr. Seuss’ book The Sneetches and Other Stories? You know the one I’m talking about. Continue reading “Connecting the Dots, Part 8…”

I was off by a month. My bad.

I was off by a month. My bad.

When I started writing online, way back in 2004, my blogging was a combination of minutiae designed to keep a then-deployed husband in the loop on day-to-day life at home. We were not quite to the end of W’s first term, but it was already clear to me what his election meant to the country, in terms of an erosion of civil liberty, of a dramatic (but by no means complete) shift to the right, and long term lasting damage to our reputation as a world leader by his creation of the USA Patriot Act.

In an ever-increasing feeling of depression and anger over last November, I’ve lashed out repeatedly at people who still seem to think that we are operating “business-as-usual” even in the face of abject corruption and cronyism not seen in decades in this country, going all the way back to the Gilded Age of the robber barons. Continue reading “I was off by a month. My bad.”

Asking for a friend…

Asking for a friend…

I keep seeing variations on a theme on my FB wall and elsewhere regarding protesters being late to the party and that we should stop blaming the people who voted third party and heal ourselves through compassion. This is the response I wrote to the direct question on my wall, to answer a question from a friend. Continue reading “Asking for a friend…”

Aftermath (Part 2): Bread and Circuses…

Aftermath (Part 2): Bread and Circuses…

It’s been a while. Sorry about that. With all the distractions and changes between November 9 and January 29, it’s nearly impossible to take in everything that’s happening. There’s another name for these things: Bread and Circuses.

We are so used to paying attention to entertainment, to the spectacle, we’ve lost the ability to concentrate on what’s important. And the far Right know it. In fact, they’ve been working extra hard to ensure we’re too distracted to see what’s really happening here. Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 2): Bread and Circuses…”

Slippery slope…

Slippery slope…

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Clearly I’ve struck some nerves recently and folks are beginning to ask for my opinion. That makes me feel less like I’m shouting into the wilderness. Which is good, except that this might be a very short term opportunity to get the point across if the government gets its way with Net Neutrality…But I digress.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think government is great for a lot of things, most notably caring for its citizens and ensuring that we’re treated fairly and safely. Except, well, when we’re not, because we’re not something we should be.

See, here’s the thing: This inconvenient clause in the Constitution that protects us from self-incrimination, the Fifth Amendment (part of the Bill of Rights) is supposed to keep us safe from harm. Combined with the Fourteenth Amendment, which covers equal protection under the law, and we ought to have ways to ensure that we are covered in case another citizen within the reach of government decides we’ve done something wrong.

Some of us have come to expect the safety of due process, and the value of privacy. Unfortunately, others view these same things as hindrances to Truth, Justice and The American Way TM.

We are seeing the argument play out right now, in the public eye, as the FBI exerts pressure on Apple to crack its iPhone privacy code, so that the former can investigate the contents of the iPhone discarded by the San Bernardino shooter whose name remains undisclosed here.

Well, okay, so maybe they have a point. After all, it’s possible the contents of that phone could hold valuable data. Certainly it was used for a variety of things, which the FBI wants to see. Even Bill Gates has some concerns about the issue, though considering the sheer weight of snoop involved in Win10, I’m surprised he was willing to weigh in at all.

The question is, where does it stop?

The FBI says it’s focused on finding and following any leads it can.

“Maybe the phone holds the clue to finding more terrorists. Maybe it doesn’t,” FBI Director James Comey said in a statement released Sunday night.

89.3 KPCC: What the FBI might be looking for on San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

See, if it was just this one phone, and just this one time, it might be okay, just this once. But, and I can’t say this clearly enough, it’s NOT this one phone, this one time.

No. In fact, as far as we know right now, there are over a dozen phones IN ADDITION TO this one phone, that they’d love to check if they can only figure out how to crack Apple’s security.

And that, friends, is what has me worried.

Have you read the USA PATRIOT Act? The capitalization is not an accident. It’s an acronym that stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.

According to the Department of Justice’s archive, the Act was passed with bipartisan support by both the Senate (98-1), and the House (357-66). This legislation has damaged the right to privacy guaranteed by the above-listed amendments to the Constitution, and the Act’s provisions used repeatedly in controversial ways I’m certain the Founding Fathers would have rejected out of hand.

(Don’t like Wikipedia? Great. Follow the footnotes and go read WHY these items exist in the entries the way they do.)

Fast forward to December 3, 2015 and the guy who finally had enough of the racist remarks that he and his wife decided to make their Bonnie and Clyde-style exit, 2A-protected guns a-blazing, and now all of a sudden we see that we need yet another way to infringe on our rights to privacy because his phone might lead to other Lone Wolf shooters.

Not, you know, like this one, or this one, or even this one. Nope.

Tell me, because I’m really curious, just what unlocking one–or even a dozen–iPhones will do to protect your safety or mine? How much do YOU use YOUR cellphone every day, for all sorts of things, like figuring out how to get from Home to Work, or to the school, or the doctor’s office, or any of hundreds of different locations? How often do you search for things on your phone that might be questioned?

Imagine: I write these articles after I search for material. Sometimes Duck Duck Go won’t produce the results I want, and I don’t always (mostly never) remember to use Google’s Incognito function.

Am I a terrorist? Hardly. I don’t even own a gun, though I do know how to shoot and when I was younger I was fairly good at it.

Idealist? Yeah, but more pragmatic, really. Cynical, even, which is why I view this latest push the same way I view those innocuous cameras that watch us EVERYWHERE, on the road, at the ATM, at Walmart, buying dinner at McDonald’s. And why every time I pull out my ATM card, I worry that the next time I could make a mistake and discover that I can’t buy a thing because I no longer have access to my money.

It’s not that I’m fearing for my own life, really. I make a relatively small noise in a really REALLY HUGE pond, so I’m not that concerned I’m suddenly going to attract the sort of scrutiny that makes one fear jail time. Not at the moment, at any rate. But with the USA PATRIOT Act still in place, all this time, and knowing what we do know about the effects of extremism at home and abroad, it does make one wonder just what the authorities would do if they could peek into the dark corners. It certainly makes me think that curtains on the windows aren’t just for blocking sunlight.

If you think these issues of privacy are overblown, I invite you to (re)read George Orwell’s book 1984 and see if you still hold that opinion afterward. You could simply read this letter written by Orwell to Noel Willmett in May, 1944, three years prior to writing the book.

How did Orwell know?

If this is the primary focus for the coming year, we’re doomed…

If this is the primary focus for the coming year, we’re doomed…

I’m watching the Democratic Debate tonight on ABC. It’s not just me, I hope. Who’s wondering why the focus is so sharp on Daesh. No matter what the candidates have to say, they’re dragged back to talking about Assad and war.

Does this sound familiar to you? No??

Really.

I wonder why that is.

Isn’t it interesting that as much as Bernie Sanders wants to talk about income inequality, about endemic racism, about gun control, about infrastructure, about the things we MUST concentrate on to survive, we have to spend HALF of the debate on foreign policy, most notably endless war in the middle east. They’re FINALLY addressing the domestic issues in the second hour.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find this format immensely frustrating.

I see too many parallels in the extreme focus on threats that we created by our own actions, without accepting any sort of responsibility or admitting our role, that’s just crazy.

I want to know what we’re going to do here. I want to know why we haven’t been talking about these things that matter to us every day, like the cost of groceries.

Domestic policy should have been the first thing out of the gate. We need to focus our attention here, balancing education, infrastructure, making things better for everyone, not just the rich. And we need to ditch endemic racism, enforce equality, make sure that freedom isn’t compromised out of a misguided sense of fear and paranoia.

I want to hear that they’re going to ditch the Patriot Act and Citizens United, and close the tax loopholes and pipeline that ships our money out of the country.

As long as we keep the spotlight on war, as long as we continue to fight the war without dealing with the home issues, as long as we keep producing wounded warriors instead of jobs, this isn’t going to change.

No matter how loudly the media focuses on the issues off-continent, we need to look within. We can’t break the cycle if we don’t stop these wolves from forcing the focus elsewhere.

If we can’t fix our own home, the terrorists win.

“Sick of the slant?” Inadequate description…

“Sick of the slant?” Inadequate description…

Truth hurts.

Why am I living in an apartment I can’t really afford, trying desperately to make ends meet and stay afloat in an increasingly hostile world? Because we reacted like the trained monkeys we are when the government told us this was what we had to do in order to protect ourselves.

I said it before and I’ll say it again, because I believe that I’m right: Osama Bin Laden might have chosen the wrong way to communicate his problems with the way the US functions, but I understand the cause behind his actions and I can understand why he did it. That single belief ultimately cost me my marriage.

The USA Patriot Act was, and remains, the single most damaging thing our government has ever done to us, but it isn’t the only thing. I have friends who have suffered permanent physical damage because of our need to Remember. Until this week, when our leaders suddenly pulled a solution out of thin air, we might have gone to war AGAIN. Some of us are actually disappointed (??!?) that we’re NOT going to war against Syria.

Really?

If we had President Romney instead of President Obama, it wouldn’t have been a question, because Romney represented the corporations and they WANT us to be at war.

When it takes the comedians in our world to speak the real, honest truth, because we can’t get it anywhere else, we should be asking ourselves just how much we should believe and we should DO something about it.

Cracked.com: The 6 Weirdest Things We’ve Learned Since 9/11

Jon Stewart Destroys Fox News Over Syria Coverage: ‘Who Cares HOW We Avoided A War…’ (VIDEO)

We could start by voting every last politician who supported and continues to support the USA Patriot Act out of office as fast as humanly possible.

You want your freedom back? That’s where you start. Can’t let the terrorists win? They already have. And the only ones to profit from it are the corporations (including our major news outlets) that make their money from the profits of war.

I don’t know about you but I want my country back.

Now.

dis·in·gen·u·ous

dis·in·gen·u·ous

Your word lesson for the day:

dis·in·gen·u·ous

Adjective: Not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.

Synonyms: insincere – false – devious – hollow-hearted

Okay, so I’m going to put this out there and get hammered for it, but I said almost a year ago that the GOP can’t complain about something THEY voted for in the first place. 

Forbes (2/7/2012): Congress Welcomes The Drones

My question is: Would this complainiing even be happening under a Romney/Ryan administration?

I’m sorry but signs point to No. The ACLU was unhappy with the first authorization back in 2012, so it’s no surprise they’re taking this up now. What’s surprising is how “suddenly” vehemently opposed everyone is about domestic drones. Shouldn’t they have thought about that last February? Really?C’mon, folks. Really.

And while we’re at it, this tidbit hit a couple of days ago too. Cue “I told you so” commentary:

Politics USA: The Koch Brothers Take Credit for Imposing Economic Hardship on Millions of Americans

Daily KOS: Americans for Prosperity Cheer on Sequester, claims Ownership

Just in case it wasn’t clear by reading the above, David Koch IS Americans for Prosperity (Wikipedia).

Why do we have Sequestration? Look above.

And remember, because in 2014 we have our first opportunity at payback…If we still have a country and people are still allowed to vote by then.

The end of the beginning…

The end of the beginning…

This week I did something I haven’t done since 1987. I attended classes in college.

There’s a long, relatively ugly story about why it took so long for me to go back, stemming from experiences with failure to meet expectations, ill-defined goals, and misunderstanding bureaucracy that might see the light of day here someday, but not now.

Trying to tie up loose ends so that I could be sure to have enough brain-space to focus on the two classes, I’ve devoted a bunch of time to filing (or round filing) an enormous amount of clutter around the house. There’s other clutter in my head that will take more than just opening a box, sifting its contents and pitching out the stuff I don’t need. Too much, really, to sum up here, and mostly trivial at that.

The highlights taking up brain space now include:

1. The ongoing gun ownership/regulation/insurance debate.

2. My petition to the White House: Repeal the USA Patriot Act in its entirety, which garnered enough signatures to go public but is now languishing in sophomore territory as the days tick down. 25,000 signatures before Feb. 7 seems unobtainable at this point. [The petition’s gone now; so sorry.]

3.  A long-term video sharing project; and,

4. Class reading – Western Civilization to Modern Times and 2-D Basic Design (Art 101).

That, plus my 20-hour job and the day-to-day chores (cooking, laundry, bill-paying and sleep, in pretty much that order), make up the majority of this week’s activities.

Obviously, something had to give, and this blog was something. I intend to keep at it, though, because the things I post are important to me, and ought to be important to you, whether or not you like what I have to say about them. I don’t plan to abandon this ongoing project now that I’ve started it.

Taking Western Civ this semester seems counterproductive if my goal for school is to formalize my web design and multimedia experience, so I can make a full-time job materialize. You’d be right, except that I am finding out all sorts of things I missed when I took history classes in the past. I’m seeking connections and reflecting on them here. What better way to understand those connections than to study them, especially as they relate to 1 and 2 above.

The reading is dense, to be sure. It’s giving me the opportunity to exercise my brain, which I think needs to happen. And I’m getting out of the house and out of the office. Change should, in theory, be good for me. Going to school means I can also get sharp about negotiating for my benefits.

So if you miss me, let me know.

And now a couple of words about 1., because I can’t resist the opportunity. Going to be brief, because I need to get ready for class, but also needs to be said.

WTF, NRA?

Seriously?!?

We all need to get a grip, and not on objects in our holsters. The Wild West was mostly myth, and a brief one at that. We don’t live in Tombstone, AZ, and even if we did, it’s mostly a tourist trap today. The sooner we stop romanticizing war, spies, gunslingers and violence in general, the better we will be at seeing people at either end of the gun.

The NRA represents the economic interests of gun manufacturers. They don’t give a flying you-know-what about you, your home or your family. They just want you to keep their clients in business and they will do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. Corporate Greed, meet the 98%.

Just say NO!

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