Every culture has its romantic ideal. In Europe, it’s the knight. In the Middle East, it’s the army of Saladin. In the United States, it’s still the cowboy. The heroic lone wolf, standing for what is right amidst a sea of contradictions and solves the problems of the world all on his lonesome. The outward display of that figure, the six-gun dangling from his hip, his fingertips just millimeters from it, is primarily the work of fiction. There have been far more Hollywood showdowns at high noon than the real Old West.
Instead, the ideal itself, the rugged individualist, has taken a tremendous beating over the years. We are being conditioned to shut up and take whatever is dealt to us. Instead of conditioning people to be Marshal Dillon, our young people are being taught to be the damsel in distress.
Recently, the State of Indiana Supreme Court ruled that a man doesn’t have a right to resist law enforcement entering your home without your consent, or a warrant. It spurred up a firestorm of controversy, but it’s hardly the first move in this direction.
For years, there have been states that have what is called a “retreat first” law. These laws require someone to try to leave the site of a potential violent encounter rather than permitting them to defend themselves. This also includes retreating from your own home should someone break in. You, the lawful citizen, must act in a manner that empowers the criminal element. Thank God Georgia isn’t one of those states.
The moves all push towards creating a nation of docile subjects who turn to the state for the answers to their problems. There are arguments now that guns aren’t necessary because the police will protect us. Of course, the Supreme Court case Castle Rock v. Gonzales says otherwise.
“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.
A Federal Judge in Arizona has blocked the key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law from going into effect tomorrow:
PHOENIX — A federal judge on Wednesday, weighing in on a clash between the federal government and a state over immigration policy, blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law from going into effect.
In a ruling on a law that has rocked politics coast to coast and thrown a spotlight on a border state’s fierce debate over immigration, Judge Susan Bolton of Federal District Court here said that some aspects of the law can go into effect as scheduled on Thursday.
But Judge Bolton took aim at the parts of the law that have generated the most controversy, issuing a preliminary injunction against sections that called for police officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws and that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times.
Judge Bolton put those sections on hold while she continued to hear the larger issues in the challenges to the law.
“Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely pre-empted by federal law to be enforced,” she said.
• The portion of the law that requires an officer make a reasonable attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there’s reasonable suspicion they’re in the country illegally.
• The portion that creates a crime of failure to apply for or carry “alien-registration papers.”
Over the past 48 hours, I’ve been wrestling with myself over which way to go in the runoff for the Georgia Senate race. In case you don’t know. The Libertarian Party candidate, Allen Buckley, was the difference in the race. He may make an endorsement in the race, but it’s unclear which way he’ll go.
Essentially, this is a runoff between two big government candidates. One has consistently lied about his record while claiming to be a small government conservative. The other is a progressive who has a decent stance on civil liberties issues.
Despite the Justice Department coming under fire for its seizure of AP phone records, which put the press in the middle of the Obama Administration’s war on whistleblowers, Attorney General Eric Holder is planning another controversial move.
Holder, who is certainly no stranger to scandal due to the DOJ’s involvement in Operation Fast and Furious and his subsequent refusal to turnover documents related to the gun-running scheme, is planning to use “regulatory power to make smaller changes” to gun control laws:
In an interview with Attorney General Eric Holder, after discussing the IRS scandal of seizing AP phone records, NPR’s Carrie Johnson checked in with Holder on the issue of gun control. According to Johnson, Holder stated that although the White House lost the battle over expanding background checks for gun purchasers, the administration will be trying again later this year to push gun control in Congress and using their “regulatory power to make smaller changes in the meantime.” Confirming the administration’s unrelenting commitment to what many believe is an infringement of the Second Amendment, Holder declared that the goal is, “moving the needle in the way in which the American people want, which is to make guns less accessible to people that should not have them.”
During the debate in the House of Representatives over cyber-security, the White House issued veto threat over CISPA due to Internet privacy concerns. Despite that strong stance on a controversial piece of legislation, there have been a number of news stories recently showing various government agencies willingness to ignore constitutional protections to gain access to e-mail and other forms of electronic communication and files.
In fact, it’s the official policy of President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that agents do not need a warrant when they want to gain access to e-mail and Facebook accounts:
The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.
Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they’re not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.
During a commencement address at The Ohio State University, President Barack Obama praised government, played down the role of the individual, and urged students to reject the voices of tyranny.
“We, the people, chose to do these things together — because we know this country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition,” President Obama told graduating students. “Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works.”
“They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner,” he continued. “You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”
The shot against “individual ambition” is ironic because President Obama himself is the defintion of that term. He was an Illinois state senator who gave a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Later that year, he was elected to the United States Senate. By 2007, he was campaigning full-time for his party’s presidential nomination, which he won in 2008, and would subsequently be elected president.
If that doesn’t define ambition, what does? That’s not a shot against him, by the way. President Obama’s personal story is one that should be admired. The problem with him, of course, is the policies he pushes, which leads us to the next point.
On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation backed by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) that would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require that law enforcement obtain a warrant before it can search Americans’ e-mails and other online file:
A Senate committee today backed sweeping privacy protections requiring the government, for the first time, to get a probable-cause warrant to obtain e-mail and other content stored in the cloud.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the package on a voice vote after about 30 minutes of debate, and sent the measure to the Senate floor, where it faces an uncertain future.
The legislation, (.pdf) sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the committee’s chair, and Michael S. Lee (R-Utah) nullifies a provision of federal law allowing the authorities to acquire a suspect’s e-mail or other stored content from an internet service provider without showing probable cause that a crime was committed if the content is 180 days or older.
Under the current law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the government can obtain e-mail without a warrant as long as the data has been stored on a third-party server — the cloud — for 180 days or more. The government only needs to show, often via an administrative subpoena, that it has “reasonable grounds to believe” the information would be useful to an investigation.
Nearly a week after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the controversial legislation, it appears that the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act — commonly known as CISPA — has been shelved, at least for now. Citing Internet privacy concerns, the Senate will not take up the bill, but will instead work on new legislation that addresses cyber attacks on the United States:
The Senate will not vote on a cybersecurity bill that passed the House earlier this month, according to two Senate staffers, dealing a blow to a measure that sparked opposition from privacy advocates and the White House.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, “believes that information sharing is a key component of cybersecurity legislation, but the Senate will not take up CISPA,” a committee staffer told HuffPost.
A staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee said the committee also is working on an information-sharing bill and will not take up CISPA.
“We are currently drafting a bipartisan information sharing bill and will proceed as soon as we come to an agreement,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Thursday.
The White House had already issued a veto threat on CISPA, citing privacy concerns, as ironic as that sounds given some of the things this administration has pushed. This is also quite similar to what happened last year when the House passed CISPA and it was killed by the Senate.
Despite a veto threat from the White House, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill that puts Internet privacy at risk:
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), H.R. 624, was approved in a 288-127 vote despite ongoing fears from some lawmakers and privacy advocates that the measure could give the government access to private information about consumers.
Ninety-two Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of the bill and just 29 Republicans opposed it. The bill secured enough votes to override a veto.
That’s greater support than last year, when a similar bill passed 248-168 with the support of 42 Democrats. Twenty-eight Republicans opposed that bill.
Click here to see how the representatives from your state voted.
While most agree that more needs to be done to protect the United States from hackers and other cyber threat, it needs to be done in a way that ensures Internet privacy. The bill, as currently, simply doesn’t go far enough to that end. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently noted that CISPA gives immunity to companies that improperly share data with the government.