We’ve complained long and hard about the TSA and it’s terrible “security” practices for years. It’s a horrible agency that should have never been instituted. Fortunately, Rand Paul is on the case:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he will very likely re-introduce legislation to drastically scale back the Transportation Securities Administration’s reach by privatizing TSA security screening operations at airports and creating a series of passenger protections, Politico reports.
“I think we are going to,” Paul said when asked if he would take another crack at the agency. “We have two different bills, one to privatize the TSA and then we have another one which is a passenger bill of rights.”
Paul’s introduced TSA privatization and flier bill of rights legislation last summer after resisting a pat-down, which postponed his flight and caused him to miss a speech at a March for Life rally.
One bill would have ended the TSA screening operation and require airports to choose companies from the private sector to do screening. The other bill would have allowed certain people to opt out of pat-downs, required distribution of a list of fliers’ rights, and greatly expanded an expedited screening program for frequent fliers.
As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults, finds that 53% think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while 43% disagree.
In March 2010, opinions were divided over whether the government represented a threat to personal freedom; 47% said it did while 50% disagreed. In surveys between 1995 and 2003, majorities rejected the idea that the government threatened people’s rights and freedoms.
The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76% of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54% describe the government as a “major” threat. Three years ago, 62% of conservative Republicans said the government was a threat to their freedom; 47% said it was a major threat.
For one thing, under an Obama presidency, Americans will be able to leave behind the era of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and “wiretaps without warrants,” he said. (He was referring to the lingering legal fallout over reports that the National Security Agency scooped up Americans’ phone and Internet activities without court orders, ostensibly to monitor terrorist plots, in the years after the September 11 attacks.)
It’s hardly a new stance for Obama, who has made similar statements in previous campaign speeches, but mention of the issue in a stump speech, alongside more frequently discussed topics like Iraq and education, may give some clue to his priorities.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has really sunk to new lows with his accusations of Mitt Romney not paying taxes for ten years. Supposedly, this is based on an “unnamed Bain insider” who saw Mitt’s returns, but as Doug Mataconis has noted, that’s next to impossible and is utter rubbish. (John Stewart joined in as well, as Jason Pye wrote last week.)
The war over Mitt Romney’s tax returns is getting more bitter by the moment, with a top aide to Senate Majority Harry Reid blasting Republicans as “cowards” and “henchmen” for their attacks on the Nevada Democrat.
“They’re a bunch of cowards, and they’re avoiding the issue,” said David Krone, Reid’s chief of staff, in an interview with POLITICO on Sunday night. “Lindsey Graham, Reince Priebus — they’re a bunch of henchmen for Romney, and they’re all reading off the same talking points. They couldn’t hold a candle to Harry Reid.”
Krone added: “What Harry Reid said is the fact of what he was told. To turn it around, all their childish rants this weekend about calling Reid a ‘liar’ and all that, it just shows you how scared they are that Harry Reid was telling the truth.”
What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.
During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.
Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.
Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Rick Perry, looking to get back on top of the GOP primary, has unveiled a new reform plan that will “uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions,” as he puts it:
Blasting the congressional “creatures of Washington” for being overpaid and detached from the struggles of the people outside the Beltway, Texas Gov. and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry vowed Tuesday to eliminate federal agencies, set term limits for federal judges and push for a part-time Congress where both members’ pay and office budgets are sliced in half.
The three-term governor, speaking on a campaign swing in Bettendorf, Iowa, said he would lead by example by cutting his salary as president until the federal budget is balanced, and said that lawmakers who use information to profit from stock trades should go to jail — in what appeared to be a clear reference to recent news reports alleging insider trading involving House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul,” Mr. Perry said, according to prepared remarks. “We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions.”
I’m reading his actual plan right here, and I have to say, there are some good ideas here, and one very bad one.
As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches this Sunday, I cannot help but feel it will be a commemoration of not one, not two, but at least three different tragedies that have befallen the American people. The first is the obvious tragedy of the attacks themselves, which took thousands of lives in an act of barbarism and insanity. The second tragedy is what happened to the American consciousness afterwards. And the third is what our children understand about it.
I read earlier this week about a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The results were disquieting, to say the least. Some of the highlights:
- 71% of Americans favor surveillance cameras in public
- 47% support the government reading emails outside the US without a warrant
- 30% support the government monitoring emails within the country
- 58% support random searches involving full-body scans or patdowns at airports
- 35% support racial or ethnic profiling at airports
- 55% support the government snooping into financial transactions without a warrant
- 47% support a national ID card to show to authorities on demand (a “Show-Me” Card, if you ever watched Fringe)
- 64% believe it is “Sometimes necessary to sacrifice some rights and freedoms” in order to fight the war on terror
- 53% think you can’t be too careful dealing with people (which is a slight improvement from 2002, I suppose, which was 58%, but…)
- 54% would, between counterterrorism and civil liberties, come down on the side of civil liberties
Like I said, disquieting. All but the last should be far lower; the last should be far higher. Only 54% would go for civil liberties? That means 46% would put counterterrorism operations above what it actually means to be an American?
The Atlantic is reporting on a bill working its way through Congress that could potentially be disastrous for civil liberties and privacy on the Internet. The innocuously-named bill, the “Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011” requires that all ISPs maintain 12-month records of literally every element of your Internet activity. To obtain this info, all police have to do is ask for it - even for other crimes entirely unrelated to child porn.
This is the kind of nice-sounding, yet massively over-broad law that creates far more problems that it intends to solve. And yet it’s hardly surprising that the government is making a power grab under the banner of “protecting children”. That’s right up there with “helping poor people” and “stopping terrorism” in the list of excuses the state has used as a cover for invading our rights.
Clearly, this bill cannot become law. Anything we can do to alert people to it would certainly go a long way to shedding a light on this very problematic legistation.
Thanks go to Jayvie Canono (@OneFineJay) on Twitter for pointing me to this.
“Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. … Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the ‘new, wonderful good society’ which shall now be Rome’s, interpreted to mean ‘more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero (Roman statesman and political theorist)
For all of the lamentations of the last year directed at violations of the 10th Amendment by the federal government (and rightfully so), there is another amendment that is being blatantly violated that is even more frightening in its implications…the 4th. The 4th Amendment states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The basis for the 4th is rooted in the work of James Otis, in 1761 the Advocate General of Massachusetts, who represented Boston merchants under prosecution from the British crown. British soldiers used “writs of assistance”, which were basically open-ended warrants allowing them to search and seize anyone or anything they wanted, regardless of whether suspicion was warranted. Otis lost the case, but none other than John Adams declared that case to be the spark that lit the fire of revolution.
Bodyscanners, devices gaining widespread use in airports allowing TSA agents to see what amounts to a virtual strip search, have drawn some serious questions about our privacy over the past few years.
Proponents say they are an important tool to fight terrorism, allowing the detection of potential weapons not caught metal detectors. However, things just got complicated.
We all can agree that child porn is a truly despicable evil — so what happens when TSA agents are looking at naked scans of our children’s bodies? We found out recently as a 12-year old girl was selected for a body scan while she as on vacation with a friends family:
A Baltimore family is raising the issue after their 12-year-old daughter was pulled out of line in Tampa and subjected to what they say was an embarrassing and unhealthy scan. The girl was traveling with an adult friend of the family, not her parents.
The article does not specify who saw the scan, but:
Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said anyone can be selected from the line and given a body scan, even children, as long as they can hold their arms over their heads for five or more seconds.
Koshetz of the Transportation Security Administration said the faces and body parts on the images are blurry and never saved.
“There’s no way to associate that fuzzy black and white image to a particular person,” she said.