The Iranian Showdown
After watching the events unfold concerning British soldiers allegedly entering Iranian waters, I've decided that there seems to be one critical piece of evidence missing from the discussion. On the one hand you have Briton swearing up and down that its soldiers were in Iraqi waters. On the other you have Iran saying the exact opposite.
Water is a funny thing; it's really hard to place boundary lines on it. Therefore, in today's modern navy, they must rely on G.P.S. to know where they exactly are. Am I to believe that in all this, neither side has provided evidence showing exactly where the boat was detained and boarded? I mean, come on. If you're going to create an international incident, wouldn't you think it'd be prudent to have evidence showing exactly where you stopped the offending boat? Furthermore, are you telling me that not even the United States Navy, with two aircraft carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf, doesn't have ship movement logs? I thought they were suppose to be able to keep track of hundreds, if not thousands, of potential targets.
Even the radar image at right provides enough information to figure out where each one of the blips on the screen is located. If Briton had such evidence, don't you think they'd be quick to show the world? How much more evidence would you need to prove your case? No, we're not getting the whole story here.
On a side bar, when you see Tony Blair getting all upset about the Iranians showing British soldiers on the television, ignore it. I believe the Geneva Convention states that you can't broadcast images of hostages or Prisoners of war, but these British soldiers are not that class. Right now, these soldiers are charged with trespassing... no different than if your neighborhood thug trespassed on your property. So, calm down, Tony. You're making an international incident out of a mole hill. (I may be wrong on this, so correct me if I am.)
UPDATE: Since I posted this, I've discovered that the British government has indeed made public coordinates that they claim show the British sailors were in Iraqi waters when they were captured. Vice Adm. Charles Style said the British boats were seized at 29 degrees 50.36 minutes north latitude and 48 degrees 43.08 minutes east longitude. Here's a link to Google Maps for those that are interested. One thing to note: in discovering the above coordinates, I've also discovered a long standing territorial dispute between Iraq and Iran. Mark, at South Puget Sound Libertarian, also makes note of this discrepancy in his March 30th post. Quoting from this Yahoo! News article:
[T]he position, outside the Shatt el-Arab waterway in the Gulf, is an area where no legal boundary exists, leaving it unclear whose territory it lies in, said Kaiyan Kaikobad, author of "The Shatt al-Arab Boundary Question."
"What we do have is a de facto state practiced boundary -- a line both countries have been observing on the spot," he said. "The problem is that though the British have drawn a line where they claim the de facto line is, we haven't seen an Iranian version."
So, both the Iranian and British governments could be right, and they both could be wrong in their claims.
Labels: Briton, Iran
Quote for Today
"Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country."
~George Washington (letter to Benedict Arnold, 14 September 1775)
I'm guessing his use of the word post is slightly different than mine. ;)
Will Subpoenas Help?
My thought on the "showdown" between the Executive and Legislative branch:Bush, I'm sure, will instruct his minions to just keep their mouths shut.
Labels: Accountability, Alberto Gonzales, George Bush, Harriet Miers, Karl Rove, President, Presidential Appointees
Double-Edged Pens and Tinfoil Shields
In October 2006, Bush signed into law the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Quietly slipped into the law at the last minute, at the request of the Bush administration, were sections changing important legal principles, dating back 200 years, which limit the U.S. government's ability to use the military to intervene in domestic affairs. These changes would allow Bush, whenever he thinks it necessary, to institute martial law--under which the military takes direct control over civilian administration.
Now imagine this President--or any future president--declaring martial law. What good would a declaration of martial law be if the only troops you had to send had no experience on how to conduct themselves in an urban policing environment? It would literally be chaos. That's when I had an epiphany. What better way to ready military troops than to send them somewhere on the globe to conduct a "dry-run" of urban policing to better hone their tactics. Iraq and Afghanistan have proven a perfect environment for this purpose. Think about it. If they can learn to police an unruly group that has shown little respect for laws and authorities, how much easier will they find Americans to be? It would be a cake walk, I'm sure.
Labels: Police State, Posse Comitatus, President
To Live Libertarian
My staunch Republican friend came into the store and struck up a conversation with me about whom our next president would be. He asked what I thought of the Democrats to which I responded that I thought they'd have us bankrupted by the end of the decade. He then asked which Republican I was voting for. I responded that I wouldn't be voting Republican unless Ron Paul were in the race. "Ron Paul who?" was his reply.He agreed with me that the Democrats would probably hurt us with their welfare projects and then told me that we, as a nation, would be a lot better off if a Republican were elected president. I disagreed and said that a libertarian-minded president would actually be the better choice. He responded that Libertarians were weak on foreign policy and that would imperil us a nation. I disagreed and remarked, "Besides... a whole lot less innocent people would die if 'my guy' held that office."
He paused for a moment, and then conceded.
Is Libertarianism an ideology? I agree that it is. But it may be more of a way of life... Much like living the Golden Rule.
Soon to be America's Most Wanted?
Paul Craig Roberts has two articles (here and here) at LewRockwell.com that I found to be right on the money. The Bush administration has been allowed to run roughshod over our Constitutional Republic for far too long without being held accountable. After reading his articles, I couldn't help but imagine walking into my local post office to see on their most-wanted wall the following posters:
One can dream...
And what was the "money shot" of his articles? I think the following sums it up:
The Bush administration’s greatest success is its ability to escape accountability for its numerous impeachable offenses.
The administration’s offenses against US law, the US Constitution, civil liberties, human rights, and the Geneva Conventions, its lies to Congress and the American people, its vote-rigging scandals, its sweetheart no-bid contracts to favored firms, its political firing of Republican US Attorneys, its practice of kidnapping and torturing people in foreign hellholes, and its persecution of whistle blowers are altogether so vast that it is a major undertaking just to list them all.
Labels: Accountability, Alberto Gonzales, Dick Cheney, George Bush, President, Presidential Appointees
Harassing Life and Liberty
The other day, I read an editorial by Fred Foldvary titled U.S. Judges Kill the Ninth Amendment. Mr. Foldvary claims that by it's ruling, the Ninth Circuit has made the Ninth Amendment null and void. I sent an email to Mr. Foldvary and requested a link to the case so that I could read it for myself. I'm glad I did. The conclusion he reached concerning the Ninth Amendment was a little dramatic, in my opinion.
Most of Mr. Foldvary's editorial hinges on the argument that Angel Raich has a common law right to use marijuana to help with her medical conditions. In reading the court papers, I discovered that the court said that she, in fact, does have standing to bring a case seeking injunctive relief... if she'd been charged. Unfortunately, she has not been charged with violating any federal laws under the Controlled Substance Act, therefore she has no standing to seek injunctive relief from the court. In other words, it's the wrong argument for this type of case. Strange as it sounds, she would have been better off if the DEA had arrested and charged her with possession of a controlled substance.
So, where does this decision leave Angel Raich? This is what I imagine will happen: She will continue to need marijuana to maintain her lifestyle. She will either grow it herself or get it from the two John Does referenced in the court papers. The feds will probably show up unannounced at random times and confiscate their marijuana plants in the name of king and country, but will never levy a single charge against them. They will claim that possession of the plants violates the Controlled Substance Act and because the courts have given the federal government jurisdiction under their expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause, they now have the authority to seize these plants from anywhere inside state boundaries.
The court, by not taking a proactive stance against federal overreach, has set up Angel Raich--and anyone else in a similar position--to be continually harassed be overzealous DEA agents. Fred Foldvary was correct to think the government was up to no good. While I disagree with his conclusion that they've gutted the Ninth Amendment, I do agree that the U.S. government has lost its remaining moral authority. This is another clear example of federal authorities harassing and otherwise making private citizen's lives hell, but never going so far as to step over that imaginary line where the courts would be able to step in and make them stop. That's what I think Angel Raich was seeking relief from.
Labels: Alberto Gonzales, Drugs, Police State
Quote For Today
Times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress.
~Justice Anthony Kennedy
...which proves that some laws are passed for no other purpose than to oppress.
Today's Pet Peeve
An article's headline caught my eye today, and the way it is phrased always irritates me. The headline reads: Video racing games may spur risky driving: study. Once and for all, inanimate objects can't do anything on their own. Without human interaction, they just sit there. The video game does not make you drive recklessly; poor decision-making on your part is to blame. The game doesn't hop into the passenger seat of your car and "spur" you on saying, "Faster, faster!"
This is the exact same misleading headline we see when it comes to gun violence. The typical headline reads, Man killed by assault rifle. So we're suppose to believe the gun sprung from the table and started shooting wildly into the room? I don't think so. Someone killed the man... and he used a gun to do it. Blame the man for his actions, not his tools.
So, what are we to make of this article? What's the purpose of it being printed? I quote Joerg Kubitzki of the Allianz Center for Technology, who conducted the study along with researchers at Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians University:
The question of age restrictions, legally or voluntary, should be discussed not only for "shooter" games but also for this kind of games, which have an impact on traffic safety.
Nice. More regulation. Just what we need: to be saved from ourselves.
Labels: Computer, Police State, Social Programs
Learned in Law?
While this was interesting:
28 USC Sec. 541 01/03/05
TITLE 28 - JUDICIARY AND JUDICIAL PROCEDURE
PART II - DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
CHAPTER 35 - UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS
Sec. 541. United States attorneys
(a) The President shall appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a United States attorney for each judicial district.
(b) Each United States attorney shall be appointed for a term of four years. On the expiration of his term, a United States attorney shall continue to perform the duties of his office until his successor is appointed and qualifies.
(c) Each United States attorney is subject to removal by the President.
This, found in the "Historical and Revision Notes" section below the code, was hilarious!
Words "learned in the law" were omitted as unnecessary. Such requirement is not made of United States judges and no reason appears to make a distinction respecting United States attorneys.
This revelation certainly explains a lot!
It's Good to be the King's
This last week has shown that many of those appointed by the President view their service to this country from an unnatural perspective. Instead of viewing their place in government as one serving the American people, they've repeated time and again that they, "serve at the pleasure of the President." In other words, they feel they've been made the "official candlestick maker" for the kingdom, so the rest of us be damned! Furthermore, they're certain they'll remain in position as long as they keep in good standing with the king President for it is only he who can strip them of their officialdom. Unfortunately, in recent years this conclusion has proven correct.
They've learned to use the phrase, "I serve at the pleasure of the President" as a shield to protect themselves from scrutiny by the press and the American people. How can there be any legitimate representative democracy where accountability of public servants has been subverted by a President who's shielding his appointees from their misdeeds? No, Mr. Gonzales (and the rest who have uttered the following,) does not serve at the pleasure of the President, he may hold his office by appointment from the President, but he serves at the pleasure of the American people. All appointees would do well not to forget this!
Labels: Alberto Gonzales, President, Presidential Appointees
FBI: Warrants? We Don't Need No Stinking Warrants!
A few days ago it was revealed that the FBI got a little crazy with the rules governing its use of the Patriot Act to secretly obtain phone, business, and financial data about people in the U.S. Let me be the first to say that I'm not really surprised by this news. The government has demonstraited over and over again that it does not and will not respect boundaries placed upon them. It only returns to it's corral after being caught doing something its not suppose to be doing. It only stays in it's corral long enough for us to quit paying it any attention.
While reading other blogs on this topic, I paid close attention to what people had to say in the comments sections. Blogs, as it turns out, are a great source to get a sense of how people feel about various subjects. I won't share all their comments, but there were a few I especially liked. Here's the first:
At my increasing age, I seem to forget, why did we so hate those damn commies?
Were they bent on spreading Communism? How many countries did they invade, unprovoked and we condemned their actions? How many prisoners did they retain without due process? How many people were tortured? Didn't they believe that the ends justified the means?
Didn't they watch their citizens closely? Was that the KGB? Oh wait, didn't they have a "state" mandated identification? Papers, please!
Silly me, they were "godless" and persecuted everyone who didn't believe as they! Why does that sound familiar? And bad on you if you weren't a party member! Traitor! Treasonable! Unpatrotic! Get them up against the wall!
Don't dare to speak against the system! We, the poletariat should thank our comrades Bush, Cheney, Rove, Gonzales and the rest of the bourgeoisie- they are just trying to protect us by inducing terror. Thankfully, they don't have to live under the same laws or conscience as the rest of us.
My point is that the Patriot Act is anything but democratic. Counter-terrorism isn't the reason, controlling the populace is. Pre 9/11 we would not have allowed this. If the government is really trying to protect the citizens, then legal processes under the Patriot Act should be limited to anti-terrorism. If they find a gallon of white lightning or a ton of pot in someone's backpack, too bad- it isn't terror related and the person should walk.
Before the flames roar, I wish to point out that I paid my dues, trying to defend this country and have a deep belief in what was our Constitution. My daddy didn't keep me out of the war. So, while I protected YOUR right to flame on, I ask some respect to in disagreement.
Opps, gotta run, there is a knock on the door........
Posted by: Bill P. at March 12, 2007 07:56 PM
It would seem that we've become the new aggressor on the world stage. Its the same play, only the actors have changed.
Another person made an excellent point about accountability:
[The article headline reads,] "A new Justice Department report concludes that the FBI broke the law"
NO -- 'specific individuals' broke the law!
The term 'FBI' is a mere abstraction that cannot be 'prosecuted & punished' for law-breaking.
Thus, the government hides its crimes even when seeming to admit them. Names will not be revealed... and no specific prosecutions will happen; crimes go unpunished.
We all buy into this scam when we allow the government & news-media to place criminal blame on 'abstract government organizations'... rather than specific individuals who are known to have broken the law.
The "FBI" will publicly promise to sin-no-more, but its anonymous workers will do as they please.
Posted by: Paterson at March 13, 2007 07:14 AM
He's right, of course. Laws were broken, but no one will be held accountable. Its the same modus operandi over and over, ad infinitum. What good is any government if it can't be held to account for its actions? What stands between legitamacy and illigitimacy? Accountability. Without accountability, our relationship with government changes from citizen to subject. Its just that simple.
Finally, here's the last partial-quote. This one makes you realize how far down the path we've traveled to not having judicial oversight when it comes to issueing warrants.
I've never understood the point of most warrantless searches, and think the Court has gone so far in generating exceptions for exigency such that the exception has swallowed the rule. (*)
If any emergency will do to skirt judicial oversight, then every warrant will be issued under all perceived emergencies; until, of course, the practice of judicial oversight is rendered useless.
P.S. Please pardon any misspellings. I've lost the use of spell-checker in my computer upgrade. I think I need to reinstall Microsoft Word to get it back.
This is just a quick note that I'm migrating to a new computer. I've finally made the switch to XP (who says I don't like change?). Anyway, the process will take awhile so I might not post for a day or two... or three. We'll see.
Two quick notes:
Did you see the article where wealthy Venezualians are moving to Florida to escape Hugo Chavez's new socialist government? I wonder why? Mabey because socialism means taking from the "haves" and giving to the "have-nots". Didn't see that one coming, did ya?!? Chavez is going to end up with a country where the only people left will be wanting to feed off the government. It can only end badly. Did you see the article about the two Kuwaiti men who were finally released from Gitmo after the U.S. determined these guys were in Afganistan doing charity work, only to have to stand trial in Kuwait on charges of basically embarrassing the Kuwaiti government? They were eventually found not guilty. They were held at Gitmo for about five years. Their crime: being at the wrong place at the wrong time. This, my friends, is exactly why Habeas Corpus is so important. Innocent people need to have an avenue to contest their imprisonment. Who'll give them back five years of their life? I know I can't.
Labels: Chavez, Computer, Gitmo, Habeas Corpus, Social Programs
Quote of the Day
"Do you really want to live in a country where when 51 percent of the people raise their hand your unalienable Rights evaporate?"
My wife forwarded the following joke to me...
A woman walks into an accountant's office and tells him that she needs to file her taxes.
The accountant says, "Before we begin, I'll need to ask you a few questions."
He gets her name, address, social security number, etc. then asks, "What's your occupation?"
"I'm a whore," she says.
The accountant, somewhat taken back says, "No, No, that won't work. Let's try to rephrase that."
The woman says, "OK, I'm a high-end call girl".
"No, that still won't work. Try again."
They both think for a minute then the woman says, "I'm an elite chicken farmer."
The accountant asks, "What does chicken farming have to do with being a prostitute?"
"Well, I raised a thousand little peckers last year."
"Chicken Farmer it is!"
Even the U.N. Gets It
I don't give the United Nations a lot of credit, and, quite frankly, I wouldn't mind it if they disbanded, but this morning I read an article where Louise Arbour, the U.N. human rights chief expressed concern that "recent U.S. legislative and judicial actions ... leave hundreds of detainees without any way to challenge their indefinite imprisonment." The article goes on to state:
Arbour was critical of the ruling, calling on the judicial system to "rise to its long-standing reputation as a guardian of fundamental human rights and civil liberties and provide the protection to all that are under the authority, control, and therefore in my view jurisdiction of the United States."
If even an inept organization such as the United Nations can recognize the travesty of our newly-minted Military Commissions Act, you know it has to be bad.