Things That Alarm Me: Some of the Encroachments Upon Our Liberties
As promised, I will now tell you of some of the things that go bump in the night. These things will keep you awake at night, if you fully comprehend what they mean.
First, feel free to go to the Dept. of Justice argument as to why they claim it's perfectly legal for President Bush to wiretap anyone without a court order. Try not to fall asleep. I would also recommend a very objective editorial today, titled Questions About Wiretaps Require Answers, Not Criticism.
But when you boil it all down, the bones of the problem remain: if the President of the United States is allowed to wiretap anyone at any time as long as we're in a war situation, then it would behoove an unethical President to always be at war; even if it's with a small tribe in Africa. He would then be allowed to pursue his powers, unchecked.
For those of you who consider George Bush a saint, this may be no problem. But, say the next president who comes into power is diametrically opposed to you. For Republicans, let's say this bogeyman is Hillary Rodham Clinton or Ted Kennedy. For Democrats, he'll be Pat Robertson. Or let's take it a step further and say that in 20 years, the first Muslim fundamentalist is elected. ...Now how do you like giving the President free reign?
Don't think it's not possible. If we eventually end up with multiple parties (as there are in some other countries) we could end up with multiple candidates - let's say 5, for this example. That means the vote is diluted and suddenly all a particular candidate would need would be a little more than 1/5 of the vote to win!
Please don't forget that the original founders always felt there was a serious need for checks and balances. If a President was to have complete authority under certain situations (which could be expanded to unlimited authority) then we would have a classical monarchy, wouldn't we?
The Big Bad Wolf
I don't know what you're seeing in your little neck of the woods, but we have some strange goings-on over here. Florida seems to be the Destination of Choice for terrorists, an ignoble distinction at best, and something that the Economic Development Board isn't really touting on their website. Nah, we're not the Middle East by a long shot, but we do seem to attract them as much as Madonna attracts the news media.
Let me preface what I'm about to say by telling you that I don't embrace terrorists. I see them as scuzzy, opportunistic swine that are indulging in hate crimes just as the Nazis did, and with the same self-justifications. In fact, I'm a lot more hardline that Bush is. If *I* had been President during the entire Iraqi scandal (with the same information he was given) I would have most likely bombed the heck outta Iraq (not stopping until I got Saddam & Sons) and then withdrawn.
I will be completely truthful and tell you that I don't care in the least about civilian casualties in other countries (though I would attempt to limit them). All I care about is protecting the U.S. If another dictatorship that is anti-U.S. arises, then "rinse, repeat," as the shampoo bottles say. I say this, because the United States is not the world's policemen. We cannot save each and every country, nor can we afford to. Go ahead and call me calloused. I am pragmatic and I would get the job done with a minimum of cost in American lives and dollars. I don't have the time or patience to be a "bleeding heart".
But here is a frightening article about a man (Sameeh Hammoudeh) who was accused of terrorism locally, locked away for almost three years, and finally acquitted by jury after a 6-month long trial. After that trial, he was kept another 8 weeks because "Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they did not agree with the jury's decision."
Hammoudeh says "I don't understand. Even if you are acquitted, the government is like wild wolves picking at you - this in a country with people full of love and mercy."
Could Hammoudeh still be guilty? Sure! After all, O.J. was guilty and was acquitted by jury. However, O.J. was then immediately released, regardless. The government cannot be allowed to make their own choices as to how to treat someone, if the laws of the land have been satisfied.
Hammoudeh is moving back to the West Bank (in the Middle East).
We're against censorship, right? We don't approve of banning books (as they did during the Inquisition), right? I have always firmly believed that everyone should be allowed full access to most materials unless they're children and the materials are blatantly sexual or violent. After all, if your point is the correct point, it should be easy to argue - so why would you be threatened? And if your enemy's material is accessible to everyone, it's so much easier to refer to when you deliver the stinging death's blow to their ideas.
Lewis Carroll very effectively poked fun at the government and the practices he didn't approve of. So did Jonathan Swift in "Modest Proposal", where he sarcastically proposed that the poor were such a burden that the only thing they were good for was producing babies. Therefore, instead of continuing to aid them, we should encourage them to sell their babies as food to be eaten (and he suggested they might be quite tasty). It was a powerful piece.
Neither writer would have been very effective if they were making fun of something that no one knew about, due to censorship.
And America is the land of the free, and free-speech must be treasured by all. Right? Wrong, according to people who are opposed to exposing children to the concept of Intelligent Design (ID).
(Please note: This is not the time or place for a thorough argument of ID and I can't enter into one. That will have to wait for another time. And ID is not creationism. There are plenty of creationism texts out there, but ID is simply evidence which shows the flaws in evolution. Some people mistakenly confuse ID with creationism. I am here to tell you that the two are viewed as separate entities to scholars, if not the common man - although opponents to ID would like to paint ID as a thinly-disguised attempt to promote religion. Additionally, ID really addresses the Origin of Life questions, and doesn't discount further evolution, at least to some degree.)
I wouldn't want to see a poorly thought-out ID textbook in the schools any more than I would want a poorly executed evolutionary one. But to completely rule out all ID textbooks (when they are not promoting a particular religion, but simply ideas that are contrary to the concept of pure evolution) is as wrong as banning Catcher in the Rye.
If ID is so idiotic, then fine! Allow full access to the books so that you can easily discount the concept. If you continue to scream for censorship, it is not only hypocritical; it is also apparently a sign of fear.
Please don't bother telling me that a belief in God is "silly." We might think you atheists are a pretty silly lot, too. But if it's so "silly", it is surely nothing to be afraid of. In fact, if you are opposed to a particular ID book, I would highly recommend you sharpen your pencil and start a counter-argument to it. You'll easily find a publisher, I can guarantee it. Make sure it holds up to scientific scrutiny; that's all *I* ask.
Check it out! I think I've just published a post that NO one will like! All I ask is that you stifle the knee-jerk reaction that we all can get sometimes, and really mull over my points first.