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Happy Independence Day ...

Discussion in 'Legal' started by pax, Jun 24, 2005.

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  1. pax

    pax Member

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    So today I'm scurrying around getting ready to go camping next week. There are sleeping bags to find, groceries to purchase, clothes to launder and pack. I have to find the box of last year's unused fireworks and hunt down the kites and frisbees for the kids.

    We always go to the beach over the 4th of July. The beach we go to is on Washington's Long Beach Peninsula, a 26-mile long stretch of flat sand that is so hard-packed that it's legal to drive upon. We join thousands of other revelers on the beach the night of the 4th, with giant bonfires and plenty of private fireworks. The spectacle of so many thousands of people firing off fireworks is awesome -- and truth be told, I always do get a kick out of watching other people's money go up in smoke.

    Later in the evening, the City of Long Beach shoots off fireworks too. It's usually an intense display which lasts over 45 minutes. Even so, it almost cannot compete with the miles upon miles of private fireworks from party-goers who barely slow their own activities during the public show.

    Afterward, we douse the bonfire and wake our sleepy children to help us hunt for lost belongings by the tenuous light of a nearly-dead flashlight. We always lose something. One year it was my husband's keys.

    This year, even before I step onto the beach, I already feel as if I've lost something. I don't have a lot of joy thinking about the fireworks stands, hot buttered popcorn, or the free candy from the small town parade which precedes the main event.

    As I type this, Congress is set to begin debate about an Amendment to the Constitution that would definitely limit freedom of speech -- and political speech at that. The most interesting part of that proposed Amendment is that it's also definitely an infringement upon the right of an ordinary American to do as he pleases with his own property.

    Not that this sort of thing is shocking anymore, really.

    This week, for instance, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that has torn the foundations from beneath private-property rights in this country. The Court ruled, in a sharply divided opinion, that local governments may seize private property from individual citizens for no other reason than to enhance the government's tax base. That is, the city council may decide that their income from taxes on property you currently own would be higher if WalMart owned your land, and may therefore seize your land and hand it to that megalith.

    There are other ominous rumbles on the horizon. Nothing new, really, just the standard "ho-hum" fare familiar to any reader of the evening newspaper:

    The Defense Department found a loophole which allows it to create a database containing records of all the nation's schoolchildren. This enables them to better enforce the Selective-Service registration requirement, for the draft which we are repeatedly assured is definitely not being considered by any of our elected officials.

    The FBI, in conjunction with Homeland Security through a provision in the newest incarnation of the Patriot Act, is lobbying Congress for -- and will probably receive -- the ability to seize the private records of any business, anywhere in America, secretly and without a warrant.

    A few days ago, the New York Times reported that the Social Security Administration relaxed its privacy policies and has provided data on citizens to the FBI in connection with terrorism investigations.

    CNET is reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice is quietly shopping around the explosive idea of requiring Internet service providers to retain records of their customers' online activities, including chat room logs, online purchase records, private emails and bulletin board postings. If DOJ gets what it wants, your local ISP will be legally required to retain logs of all your online interactions -- and to surrender those logs to the feds upon request. And lest you think your email is secure because you use an encryption software, be advised that the Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that the mere existence of privacy software on a suspect's computer was enough to establish criminal intent.

    Reuters is reporting that the IRS is investigating whether unauthorized people gained access to sensitive taxpayer and bank account information. It seems that the Government Accountability Office (is that an oxymoron?) launched the probe because it believes the IRS "routinely permitted excessive access" to computer files. The GAO team was able to tap into the IRS data without authorization and gleaned personal and financial information about individual US taxpayers.

    Again, that sort of thing hardly shocks us any more. It's certainly nothing new.

    This past Monday, the Associated Press reported that the federal agency in charge of aviation security collected extensive personal information about airline passengers even though Congress forbade it and officials said they wouldn't do it. The story is that TSA gave pasenger name records to its contractor, EagleForce Associates, records containing data such as name, address, phone number and credit card information about individual travelers. EagleForce then compared the records with commercial data to attain first, last and middle names, home address and phone number, birth date, name suffix, second surname, spouse first name, gender, second address, third address, ZIP code and latitude and longitude of address for those same travelers. EagleForce then produced CD-ROMs containing the information and provided those CD-ROMs to TSA, and TSA now stores that data.

    For the record, the TSA's action was entirely illegal and undoubtedly deliberate. Shall we expect that any employee, anywhere in government service, will spend any time for breaking the law for their employer? That seems unlikely indeed.

    So here we are, headed into the week preceding the Independence celebration of these here United States.

    But these days there doesn't seem to be much independence to celebrate.

    Copyright 2005 by Kathy Jackson aka "pax."

    Please do not distribute further without written permission from the author.


    pax

    People never believe in volcanoes until the lava actually overtakes them. – George Santayana
     
  2. fjolnirsson

    fjolnirsson Member

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    Wow, Pax. That sums up how I've been feeling just perfectly.
     
  3. critter

    critter Member

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    Good read. If you aren't disturbed, you are not informed.
     
  4. XLMiguel

    XLMiguel Member

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    Bummer du jour. Thank you for your thought-provoking post.
     
  5. pax

    pax Member

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    Thanks, guys.

    pax
     
  6. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    I have a hunch the founding fathers would rebel against our federal government and many of our state governments.
     
  7. hillbilly

    hillbilly Member

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    This 4th, fly one of these..........

    http://www.gadsden.info/


    I plan on flying one of these this 4th.



    I also plan on taking some good friends to a shooting range that's about two miles from the lake cabin I will wind up at.

    Seems like better things to do than feeling down.

    hillbilly
     
  8. CentralTexas

    CentralTexas Member

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    I just came to this thread after

    reading the other one where the guy is writing a book but scared to order a "How to make a silencer " book for research out of fear the govt will come after him. I really want to cry....
    Well written PAX, have a great 4th!
    CT
     
  9. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Pax - your writing skills just go on getting even better - very well put - and immense food for thought as we approach another ''4th''. Thank you. :)
     
  10. Larry Ashcraft

    Larry Ashcraft Moderator Staff Member

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    pax,

    Thank you for putting it better than any of us could.

    Larry
     
  11. sm

    sm member

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    pax-

    beautiful writing for sad times.

    Thank you-

    Steve
     
  12. kal

    kal member

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    Hmmmm.....I was thinking. Since the American citizen has the right to defend his property against intruders, invaders, AND GOVERNMENT......I believe one day some body is going to pull out that gun he has been saving for a rainy day. :eek:
     
  13. Leatherneck

    Leatherneck Member

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    Pax,
    You continue to amaze. You're a treasure.

    Erosion is a slow process, whether of beach, or mountain, or rights. When do we cry "Enough!"?

    TC
     
  14. Biker

    Biker Member

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    Well written Pax. Thanks.

    It's been a long time since I felt this sad.

    Biker
     
  15. Boats

    Boats member

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  16. Snake Eyes

    Snake Eyes Member

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    Well written and thought provoking.

    But what I really wonder is.....





    ......Do they still have the bumper cars in Long beach???
     
  17. Nightfall

    Nightfall Member

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    This Independence Day, I will exclusively be celebrating the past successes of our Founding Fathers. Our current condition isn't worthy of fireworks and BBQs. :(
     
  18. pax

    pax Member

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    Snake Eyes ~

    Yup. And they still have the Go-Kart racetrack, which never ceases to amaze me. :what:

    pax

    If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. -- George Orwell
     
  19. Chipperman

    Chipperman Member

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    Sadly, a well written synopsis of current events.

    It's getting to the point that every time I listen to the news, I expect to hear of another way that civil rights are being undermined.
     
  20. Kamicosmos

    Kamicosmos Member

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    I'll be working all weekend, and on the 4th itself. Nothing says freedom like holiday pay!

    Oh wait....uh. Damn. :(

    Good article Pax.
     
  21. Old NFO

    Old NFO Member

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    Good writing Pax, I just wish there were more postive things to write about... Having said that, I agree we are in a decline of personal rights.

    It is reminiscent of George Orwell's book "1984." In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," and "Ignorance is strength."
     
  22. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Member

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    Pax, thanks for ruining my weekend. ;)

    On a more serious note, are you submitting that piece to any newspapers? It's definitely on the level of the writings of major columnists.
     
  23. pax

    pax Member

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    Monkeyleg ~

    Sent it to my little local. Haven't heard back from them, yet.

    pax
     
  24. Headless Thompson Gunner

    Headless Thompson Gunner Member

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    If you've written any other essays I'd like to read them. Can you tell me where to look for them?
     
  25. thereisnospoon

    thereisnospoon Member

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    I have tissues for sale...

    .... :cuss:
     
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