One of the reasons that I'm not too attached to the specific details of the Snowden story (aside from supporting him, of course) is that it's just a piece of a much larger picture. Snowden's "NSA direct server access" is but a tiny speck in an ocean of civil liberties problems.
In this case, the government is effectively using a quasi-military/police force to control who can travel the country. (Yes, I know you can drive, but for business travelers, air travel is many times the lifeblood of their work) People are banned from traveling, in many cases from performing their livelihoods. They do not know how they got on the list. They cannot get off the list.
In charge of all of this is an agency, best I can tell, that has a mission of making all transportation safe from random terror attacks.
It's insane. Aside from not protecting anybody, can you begin to imagine the ways such a system could be abused? It staggers the mind.
There are probably around 100 people in the entire country that shouldn't fly. But the way this no-fly list is constructed, it will continue to increase year-by-year, without any incentive to pare the numbers back. Is anybody doing the math on the kind of economic impact such a system will have over a few decades?
I've said it before. We need to completely disband the TSA. Structural adjustments are not going to fix its scope creep, conflict of interest with the military industrial complex, and lack of competence. It's just gotta go.
The default description of the Surveillance State is "Orwellian". But in a recent post for the Atlantic, Rebecca Rosen argues that "Kafkaesque" is much closer to the mark. The arbitrary, inscrutable, and inescapable nature of the No Fly List encapsulates this character perfectly.
Sadly, John Brunner doesn't get much love. His novels greatly influenced my worldviews.
No citizen should be victim of unknown charges and/or evidence that impacts their free movement through society.
Why should I need to be a citizen to not have my human rights violated? If it is in the UN Declaration of Human Rights then chances are your country signed it, agreed that would be the minimum standard, that these rights were inalienable and most importantly, that they applied to everyone.
You have to admit it seems a bit silly (at least from my side of the pond) that when it comes to human rights the US seems to ignore the UNDoHR and when it comes to it's international drug policy it enforces the UN Single Drug Convention all over the world with aggression to the point that no country in the world besides Peru can even make cannabis legal in their own nation state without violating international law (which WILL be enforced).
That being said, I specifically did not say 'US citizen' for a reason. I was being inclusive about a general human right as a citizen anywhere to freely move through a society anywhere. It was a conscious choice on my part, and was meant to be more along the lines of the UNDoHR. So, I meant human citizen, as there are very few stateless persons (yes, there are some, but I'm not really bothering to get into that issue).
It's not that Americans don't care about anyone else on the planet (I doubt they care less than people in Western European countries). It's that Americans aren't willing to bind their sovereign freedom of action. The idea of "human citizen[ship]" is anathama to American thought, because citizenship implies reciprocal rights and obligations, and Americans viscerally hate the idea of being obligated or beholden to anyone else. Hell, a lot of Americans think that the arrow should be pointed in the opposite direction: more state sovereignty (i.e. people within states should be less obligated to rules made by the federal government).
Recognition of and respect for human rights need not be bound to sovereign freedom of action, as you put it. Freedom of action does not have to imply freedom to coerce.
And for myself, I don't like to argue in terms of any sort of thing, "natural rights" or "God's law" or whatever, that a doctor couldn't find if he cut me open and poked around. To me, the ability to act is the only thing that exists, and "rights" are just people in a community agreeing to use collective force to enforce whatever they decide to call "rights." The idea that the community as a whole can be bound to limit its ability to act with respect to people outside that compact is to me not a sensible thing.
And I think that while most Americans wouldn't phrase it precisely in that way, their thinking is along similar lines. We're a country that strenuously reserves the right to do whatever the hell we want, bound only by our own collective conscience. We want to do right by people, but we get to be the final arbiters of what's right and what is justified.
The folks who architected this nation most certainly did, and since they're the ones who devised the sovereignty of the states and embodied the individualism and self-reliance and runs undercurrent to your claim that Americans "hate the idea of being obligated or beholden to anyone else" I think it's perfectly fair to characterize the debate in those terms. And they did in fact see these as universal rights: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."
Anyways, specifically I take issue with your claim that "the idea of "human citizen[ship]" is anathama to American thought, because citizenship implies reciprocal rights and obligations." Obligations, yes, but it does not follow that the extension of our recognized rights to all people is in any way contradictory to our ideals, your personal views on collective rights notwithstanding.
> but it does not follow that the extension of our recognized rights to all people is in any way contradictory to our ideals
No matter what theory of the nature of rights you subscribe to, as a practical matter "rights" are limits on collective action. To say that, say, a non-American in Yemen has "rights" is to say that there are things that the American people, acting through Congress, cannot do. That is what is inconsistent with Americans' perceptions of the world. Not because we think people in Yemen are a lesser sort of human, but because Americans don't accept the idea that there is some higher power that can decide what America can and cannot do.
Don't believe everything you see in the news or from opinion polls.
For instance, the first article of the UDHR states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. What it should say is something more along the lines that no form of government may make a law that prevents any human from being born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Something like that.
Granted, it's possible to strike the article from the document regardless of which way it is worded but I personally like documents such as this to have language that government is restricted from infringing my rights as opposed to government telling me what rights I have.
I wonder if this is still a country that would vote for such a document. We plainly have no respect for the ideas that it represents.
Would the government vote for it again, if voting for it was anything other than a meaningless gesture? I suspect not. Not if it actually had teeth.
To quote Marvin Simkin, "Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote."
The same argument could be made for felon's rights, by the way. Either a person is too dangerous to be free or you have no business taking away his rights.
No, this is not the case. The power of the majority over the minority is limited by the constitution - the Bill of Rights proscribes the oppression of the minority at the hands of the voting majority. The constitution itself is protected from the majority (the government) by the credible threat of a well-armed populace who are willing to fight to protect it.
Oh. That's certainly not what I understood from the quote. How is the government the majority? And then, what's the oppressed minority? The other members of congress?
I always understood that quote to mean the majority, as in, the majority of the population. Otherwise it's mixing majorities and minorities of different things, which makes no sense.
In the U.S. the law making branch of the government is comprised of representatives elected by the people. These representatives necessarily draft laws to suit the majority who elected them. Ergo, the legislative branch wields power at the behest of the majority, analogous to the wolves in the quote. Governance by mob rule, i.e. pure democracy, entails no inherent constraints on what the government (comprised of law makers elected by the majority) could do to or take from the rest of the populace. We are, instead, a constitutional republic, which constrains the majority-elected government to a narrow set of powers enumerated in the constitution.
The quote was written in 1992 in reference to two lawsuits in the state of California, itself a constitutional republic. One resulted in the quashing of a state law which was supported by the majority but nonetheless violated the state and federal constitutions. The other resulted in the removal of a cross from a popular public landmark. Much outcry was made at the time that the will of the majority was being thwarted.
I'll leave here the entirety of Simkin's posting that contained the quote:
The ACLU's cross lawsuit and the Libertarians' tax lawsuit share an interesting theme. We have been treated to the spectacle of politicians pleading for permission to continue breaking the law. In the case of the jail tax, it is particularly ironic that the lawbreakers say they need the illegal money so they can lock up the lawbreakers. Ask not for whom the lock clicks.
Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote. Those rights are spelled out in the Bill of Rights and in our California Constitution. Voters and politicians alike would do well to take a look at the rights we each hold, which must never be chipped away by the whim of the majority.
The constitution only "protected" the minority - by limiting government action - because the majority shares a democratic consensus that those rules should be followed, even if they go against some particular law they support. Otherwise, they could have simply forced the issue, even in violation of the constitution. Besides, the constitutions themselves have ways for the majority to amend them.
The constitution is just a mechanism for the citizens to have a better defined set of shared democratic beliefs. It doesn't have magical protection powers.
Yes, of course the Constitution is simply a piece of paper. It has no special powers. You can find plenty of people, perhaps even a majority, who are in favor of incremental abuses of the government such as this latest NSA scandal. You would find very few who would support wholesale dissolution of the constitution. The government could try absent consent of the people, but would face certain rebellion.
The Constitution can of course be amended, but requires more than a simple majority - a super-majority of the federal legislature to pass and ratification by 3/4 of the states. This of course does not happen often.
But fundamentally, of course the Constitution and the government exist at the behest of the people. It does not have magical protection powers. It does, however, have the protection of an armed populace willing to fight to defend it, even though some of those same people support laws that infringe on other's rights.
That's what's terrifying about the surveillance. While it could be genuinely benign right now, it only takes one bad election to put the equipment in the hands of very bad people who could do amazingly bad things with it.
(Just in case anybody didn't follow the above: Failing an exam or lacking training are not crimes you can be charged with, so under the principle "Either you have enough evidence to charge them with something or you have no business restricting them from doing anything," we have no business restricting anyone from doing anything on those bases.)
I imagine what the OP meant was that you have no business restricting them from doing anything otherwise lawful if they have not been charged with a crime (for example travelling or calling someone etc). Otherwise the statement is nonsensical and means they don't accept civil society and the rule of law (your interpretation).
This is a founding principle of many legal systems - that laws and restrictions have to be clearly explained and open to challenge, and judgements have to be public - and yet it has been violated in the West for some time by no-fly lists and watch-lists which have no way of being challenged, no explanation as to why people end up on them, and often no way to get off.
Yes, it absolutely does. Life as a free person is dangerous, and being free necessarily means not being protected from potential harm caused by others. It means people are held responsible after the fact, but not restrained prior.
The difference I would say about your examples is that the actions of those people will potentially infringe directly upon the rights of others so there is probable cause for prior restraint. But even in those cases you can point out that the person wishes to perform a singular direct action without adequate training on another person that will most likely result in the harming of that person. You are at least accusing that person of wanting to do something that will likely be bad, with evidence to back it up, since performing surgery without training is a bad idea. I'm sure you can find examples of why it's a bad idea.
I would see that as quite different than preventing a person from boarding an aircraft with absolutely no evidence or, in some cases, even an accusation of any wrongdoing.
When driving a car you are the operator and need to show you can do so safely without harming others on the public road. You are not required to have a license to be a passenger in a car on a public road.
When flying in an aircraft you are a passenger and therefore no license is required. But be assured that guy up front flying the airplane has his pilot's license that shows they are capable of doing so safely.
When you are restricted from driving on a public road due to lack of a license that is society actively accusing you of being a danger to everyone else. The issue you are trying to compare this to are people being on a no-fly list that don't know why they are on this list and no one will tell them.
That's the main difference, the accusation. If the police were confiscating driver's licenses from people and forcing them to walk instead of driving without explanation, then that would be the same thing.
Now, if you have a history of attempting to bring down airplanes while in flight while you were on board, then they could rightfully restrict you from entering any other planes. At least in that case there's the accusation.
But I don't understand your thought of being restricted without trial as a strange concept. It's done all the time. Try to enter a restricted government building or a military base without permission and see how far you get. Even better, enter a stranger's house and see what happens. There are numerous restrictions in a free society that in essence helps maintain that freedom. Assuming that these restrictions are placed equally on everyone then that person next to you is restricted from doing things to you that you won't like just as much as you are restricted from doing them to him.
Of course, these restrictions can get oppressive and abusive if allowed to get out of hand.
For instance, in many US states you are not required to have a license to operate farm equipment on a public road. There's likely many reasons for this but the rules of the road in those areas do not restrict you in those cases.
If I had a large enough tract of land that a shortcut going through the middle was beneficial to people around the property I can put up a sign at the entrance that states if you wish to use my road on my land then you follow my rules. It's the same principle.
Also, many a young teenager legally learned to drive a vehicle, cars or motorcycles, on private land even though it would be illegal for them to do so on a public road.
2. You can re-take the exam if you fail it the first time.
3. You can operate a bicycle or be a passenger on any bus or train without a driver's license.
Your argument is not applicable. Riding a plane does not involve operating a giant machine on a public road around other giant machines and pedestrians.
That seems fairly different from restricting travel by air.
You can't leave out the crucial bit that it's all about border searches, for people who have recently crossed the border. All the policy means is that border searches don't literally have to occur at the border (they might be on a major cross-border thoroughfare somewhat inland).
The 4th amendment has never meant that the government or customs needs a warrant to search people at the border.
Are you suggesting that if I haven't recently crossed a border, I'm somehow immune to these searches, or have a right to refuse them?
“Although motorists are not legally required to answer the questions ‘are you a U.S. citizen and where are you headed,’ they will not be allowed to proceed until the inspecting agent is satisfied that the occupants of vehicles traveling through the checkpoint are legally present in the U.S.”
That suggests to me that CBP, at least, sees these stops as rather custodial.
It doesn't read: "all searches require a warrant except those specifically listed." The text plainly allows searches that are not "unreasonable."
As a matter of historical practice, borders searches, for customs purposes and otherwise, are considered reasonable. Warrant-less border searches were authorized by the First Congress in 1789.
Indeed, one of the primary ways the federal government was to be funded was through taxes on imports, which implies the existence of a customs function at the border. Do you think the framers envisioned a customs system that couldn't enforce its tariffs without getting a court order to search incoming ships? They obviously didn't envision that, because one of the first things Congress did was to set up the framework for warrant-less customs searches.
Do you know what, if any, limits are placed on border searches? Is literally anything "reasonable" there, or are the limits just different?
Re: border searches, I'm not well-versed so I'll just point you to the wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception. Long story short, it still has to be reasonable, it's just that the bar is lowered because you should expect to get searched at a border.
As far as I understand it, the idea is that due to the separation of powers, the people who judge whether a particular search is reasonable are not the same who create and implement them, so yes, there is in theory some protection of rights.
Sadly, this is entirely false. The Border Patrol routinely sets up suspicion-less searches on Interstate 5 in California, 60 miles from the US border with Mexico. The vast majority of those stopped and searched are U.S. citizens who have not crossed the border recently.
Further, Iowa City is a long way from the border. 400 miles, perhaps.
Ameida-Sanchez v. US
But the search of the petitioner's automobile by a roving patrol, on a
California road that lies at all points at least 20 miles north of the
Mexican border, was of a wholly different sort. In the absence of
probable cause or consent, that search violated the petitioner's
Fourth Amendment right to be free of "unreasonable searches and
if there are people who are guilty of something, they should be prosecuted and jailed. There are procedures for that. There is no "actually you did not do anything, but you're high risk for flying" approach in any law-respecting country. Either you're guilty or you're not.
People find ways around.
The more people they add to the no-fly list for no reason, the more people will be willing to travel with fake documents. Or create business around the block (those people can probably fly airwave). Soon, there will be so much work arounds that the one or two terrorist per century that would have been deterred by that measure will just have plenty of options to bypass it as well.
Seriously, though -- think about it. Secret system -- who knows how it's being gamed.
"because the government says so"
No trial, no hearing, someone somewhere in secret made the decision and you had nothing to say in that matter. Or if you tried, you would be charged with interfering with government business, or "national security" and jailed for a random amount of time.
Really that different to what the US government is doing right now?
You can restore civil liberties by enacting or repealing laws. You can't do it when no effective executive mechanism exists (i.e., all your bureaucrats, police, and other officials are on the dole).
Widespread corruption, IMO, is far more dangerous in the long term than what we're seeing right now in the US.
Yes, this is bad. Yes it should be fixed. But let's check the "ZOMG WE'RE IN A COMMIE GULAG!" hyperbole at the door. The less seriously we take this the more reason the government has to pick the "sane compromise" position which involves no-fly lists and universal-but-mostly-invisible surveillance.
Billions of people have lived in "commie gulags". Most of them could still live their lives, and normalized any limitations they lived under. Stay within those "reasonable" restrictions, and you'd be OK; suggest breaking down those restrictions, and you'd be subject to the wrath of other citizens ridiculing your "hyperbole".
The "sane compromise" is standing by core principles. We learned to institute such principles as foundational law precisely because "sane compromises" and "mitigating circumstances" went very, very bad; if we deviate from them again, we will again learn - the very hard way - why those principles were enshrined in the first place. If the government decides you should be prohibited from doing X, a warrant must be approved by a judge, the restriction presented you in no uncertain terms, your accusers available for questioning, a court available for redress of grievances, and means for acquittal possible involving a jury of fellow citizens - not some secret list you can't even see to confirm whether your name is in fact on it.
Stand by your principles. Don't spin the argument.
A secret list limiting travel by common means, with no more visibility than a bureaucrat's perfunctory "you're on the no-fly list, go away", with no way to confirm or challenge it, is absolutely a hallmark of life in the USSR.
It's not spinning the argument. It's the point of the argument.
Completely untrue, the ACLU has gotten several people off the no fly list, used FOIA requests to gain access to it, etc.
Anyone on the no-fly list is effectively banned from travelling, just because the US are such a large country and the alternatives are plainly too exhausting.
Again: most constitutions guarantee freedom of movement. The reason it is written there is because the framers had experience with travelling restrictions and how they were used against political opponents. This last lesson seems to have been forgotten.
I can't even begin to imagine the burden of being an American living in Alaska or Hawaii and being on the no fly list.
If I say Bush/Obama is similar to Hitler in ways X and Y people stop listening and get mad, even if the comparison is dead accurate.
I think it is dangerous to dismiss those types of comparisons.
Under this philosophy no comparisons can be made to history because invariably one of the two situations is more extreme than the other (inviting cheap intellectually bankrupt "Do you REALLY think that Foo is as bad as Bar?!?" comments that exclude the possibility that a metaphor may not be implying exact equivalence, merely parallels. Think about it, if I call a friend "Benedict Arnold" for abandoning me at a bar, am I actually accusing him of treason? No, of course not.) or circumstances were different ("Yeah, but those were Bolivians. WE are Alabamans. These are not comparable.")
Godwin's Law, despite its good intentions, has become a monster.
On the other hand, I think people have an anti-Godwin reaction where they assume this is happening even when the comparison really is bad. To me, the value of Godwin's Law is to remind us that comparisons to Nazi Germany usually carry more emotional weight than actual insight, and when we encounter them, we need to ask ourselves whether the aspect of Nazi Germany being called out was integral to its evil or just incidental. A lot of so-called comparisons are just thinly disguised slander of the form, "Our government officials are drinking a lot of water these days. Do you know who else drank water? Hitler!"
While it is important to keep this in mind, one must also always keep in mind that many valid comparisons to emotionally charged events will be made. Nearly everything in recent memory that is worth making comparisons to will have emotional baggage. Forcing people to tread lightly around issues that could have an emotional impact has a chilling effect on discussion, particularly when there is no similar weighting against comparisons to events with positive emotions.
Compare someone to MLK or Churchhill and few eyebrows will be raised; compare someone to the relatively mild Khrushchev and you will have half a dozen objections within seconds.
It is almost as if the meme of anti-bullying made the jump from schoolchildren to world leaders.
Make the case for what the problem is with what Bush or Obama is doing, fine; after you've made the case use an example of an act of Nazi Germany that is genuinely similar in the relevant respects to make the point that the problem isn't merely theoretical, sure. But directly compare Bush/Obama to Hitler ... well, unless your goal is to provide an emotional boost to people who have already bought into the substance of your complaint, you shouldn't do that, and its quite right that people start tuning you out when you do that, especially when you open with it.
In the end, manipulation will just polarize, as the targets of manipulation accept the party line or reject it, which then adds distrust to all information coming from that source.
And here we come to politics...
If your argument is that Obama's endgame is subjugating all political critics in preparation for the extermination of Muslims and invasion of Canada, then please actually articulate it (but yeah, you can probably expect people to stop listening and get mad). If that isn't your argument, why try and insinuate it?
No let's not. We absolutely need to be reminded of the frogs that got turned into frog soup in the next pot over.
The former is important and useful, the latter is counter productive as the people that realize you are exaggerating then have a reason to discount everything you say without examining it to closely, as you've already shown yourself willing to manipulate to get your way.
Just calling it a "commie gulag" does not minimize the fact that for many people they were "for the betterment of the country and its protection."
So: yes, one needs to take the worst to memory in order to prevent the bad from happenning. History is filled with good-willing governants.
Yeah but if it's YOU, it's 100% of people as far as you're concerned. No one cares that you're a 4 year old, the computer says no boarding and it is so.
This is so wrong on so many levels of Americanism. It's just Soviet, that's what it is.
No. They won't. That's because not a single shot will be fired in retaliation to government intrusion and control. Not a single thing will be done about it.
How ridiculous that the onus is on the citizen, not the officer, to make sure the citizen is not subject to unreasonable search (meaning: The officers will try and see if they are "allowed").
Also, don't confuse having to register to aid in central planning with ease of travel. As an American, I traveled all over HHA and rarely had to show my papers. So, no, there certainly weren't questions...not like you alluded to.
Erm, yeah, American visitors were treated differently from native subjects. No shit.
Wow. I'm pretty sure that aiding central planning wasn't the goal of resident registration.
This is what is happening in the US with the no-fly list.
What really gets me though is that people are truly shocked that the piece of paper held up as some illusion of rights is, like everything else, simply not worth the paper it is printed on.
This is a document that has been used to justify slavery, prohibition, woman as property, Jim Crow laws, the "sanctity" of marriage etc. If history shows us anything it is that regardless of whatever is written down, the laws of the land will be made by the popular opinion of those that have power, and how they interpret things. The USA is no different than Rome, feudal Europe or France under Napoleon, despite the best intentions of its founders.
Prohibition was instituted through the proper constitutional channel of the amendment process -- and repealed the same way. You may view it as the extreme opposite of the gay marriage issue today: a sweeping prevailing mindset that turned out to be a really bad idea in the long run.
As for women, Jim Crow we worked those out too. I can't respond to your '"sanctity" of marriage' comment, because all I'm getting is vague left-wing ire.
Those rights on that piece of paper have saved us from much government tyranny. Indeed, without the Bill of Rights, we would have lost many of them long ago. The founders were rightfully wary of government in this regard. Why is the 9th Amendment there at all? Does the government treat us as serfs or as sovereigns?
The Constitution is not perfect: it did not foresee the level of political activism present on the Supreme Court throughout the years. The Court has been amending the Constitution for far too long without proper oversight. We should not be able to predict the votes of the Justices, since most of us are not constitutional scholars. Yet we can...
The USA is different than most countries throughout history, but it has lost its way. The latest NSA / IRS news could be seen as simply the last in a long train of 'repeated injuries and usurpations' to and of our Liberty.
Really? Have you lived outside of the USA at all? Because I fail to see how anyone who has can make this statement. Life is no better or worse. The constitution does absolutely nothing.
Indeed, without the Bill of Rights, we would have lost many of them long ago. The founders were rightfully wary of government in this regard
This says more about American culture than it does anything else. Of course Canada survived without a constitution for most of it's existence, the UK still doesn't have one, and Australia doesn't have a Bill of Rights. In fact, most countries in the world don't have a constitution as America knows it to be. They seem to be doing just fine.
The USA is different than most countries throughout history,
No, actually, it isn't. The principles of the USA were in place in Athens and Rome thousands of years ago, the Magna Carta and the Republic of France more recently. Stop believing your own mythology.
The UK does not have a codified constitution. There still exists a set of laws and conventions that make up the UK constitution.
Australia doesn't need it to be in the constitution that slavery is against the law. It's been illegal here since before the civil war (throughout the British Empire in the 1830s). We did have some slavery - 'blackbirding' - and it was illegal without having to be in a constitution.
There is absolutely nothing magical about a constitution, it's just that generally making changes to that particular piece of law is defined as being more difficult than other bits of law, given that it also describes how the whole thing works. In the US, if you can get your law attached to the constitution, it's harder to repeal since you need a greater majority to do so. That's all. There's nothing that makes rights more special because they're 'in the constitution'.
Do you really think that something magical happened in 1775 for the history of humanity, or do you think perhaps it was just another example of the (rather established) idea of republicanism?
Food for thought: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republicanism
What I'm pointing out is that "most" has a definition, and less than 1% doesn't meet that critera.
The problem in the US is that our politicians have learned exactly how to abuse the system in a way that attracts the least ire from the general populace.
People in the US are likely to start protesting and getting angry over things like income taxes and fuel tarifs. That would get the ball rolling and then they would escalate their protests to things that matter.
Obviously our system does not quite work as intended, but I'm not sure I see how protesting in the street could be effective, or if it was effective how that could be a feature rather than a bug?
You might not be able to afford that billboard on the street corner, but you can afford to stand there with signs and still attract attention. Protesting is mass communication for time instead of communication for money.
Personal example: Nearly every time I've seen a group of picketing workers outside an office building has been the first I've heard anything of their employers' practices. Even if I might care as a customer, why would I know about it?
Interesting point. In that respect, isn't the media coverage and outcry on the internet accomplishing the same thing?
> Personal example: Nearly every time I've seen a group of picketing workers outside an office building has been the first I've heard anything of their employers' practices. Even if I might care as a customer, why would I know about it?
I hadn't considered this case, and you're right that it can serve a purpose locally.
Instead of an example like that, when I hear protest I tend to think first of political gathering, e.g. the Occupy protests, which appeared to be more an example of special interests trying to spur legislative action than a method of communication.
People do express their dissatisfaction, though it seems to be dwindling with more acceptance of whatever is being thrusted upon them..
Just wondering how committed are the sports fanatics in US/Latin America/India or movie fanatics in India and then comparing the (missing) outrage when liberties are at stake.
The constitution and judicial review are not perfect, but they're far better than than naked and unchecked power of government(s).
"Women as property" did not occur in the United States. Denying suffrage rights to women as well as difficult of divorce were unjust, but us wasn't a particularly bad offender in that respect: many civilized countries gave women the vote after US did; many US states gave women the right to vote long before the right was extended nation-wide.
> The USA is no different than Rome, feudal Europe or France under Napoleon, despite the best intentions of its founders.
Well, I'd think there are some subtle differences, don't you think?
If you're going to compare US to any other country, compare it to UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. You'll find 1) the human rights records of all of these countries are on average similar 2) they're still far better than most other places, including other western countries.
I do think that a written constitution is better than de-facto basic law and custom: e.g., freedom of expression has been particularly strong in US due to the first amendment.
Which is why warantless surveillance is such a big deal: even amongst liberal democracies US is probably not the worst offender here, but (to use your parallel to Rome) this may be the proverbial Rubicon -- plain disregard for the text of the US constitution for "reasons of state" or "greatest good for the greatest number."
I will argue this: the "rights revolution" (namely extension of constitution to restrict federal and state governments) happened contrary to the worst _literal_ intention of the founders. The fact that we were able to preserve the "meta" spirit of the founding movement without codifying the repressive prescriptive mores of the 18th century is a huge testament to the constitution.
Well, 'some', not 'many'. And they kept repealing it, too. New Jersey had it for 17 years (if you owned enough property... very unusual for women of the time), Wyoming for 18, and Utah women were given the vote, voted the wrong way, and then had it taken from them. That's not empowerment, that's being a political football.
"On August 30, 2010, the [ACLU] filed a "targeted killing" lawsuit, naming President Barack Obama, CIA Director Leon Panetta, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as defendants. They sought an injunction preventing the targeted killing of [a US citizen], and also sought to require the government to disclose the standards under which U.S. citizens may be "targeted for death". Judge John D. Bates dismissed the lawsuit in an 83-page ruling, holding that the claims were judicially unreviewable under the political question doctrine inasmuch as he was questioning a decision that the U.S. Constitution committed to the political branches."
Coincidentally, or likely not coincidentally Judge John D. Bates, is also the presiding Judge of the FISA Court as shown in the Rules of Procedure for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (See: http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/rules/FISC2010.pdf)
I do not agree, but at least the US government has an argument that by disclosing publicly known or suspected terrorists, it may jeopardize our national security interests. How the hell can that be logically extended to the idea that disclosing the criteria to get on the "kill list" or "no fly list" jeopardizes our national security interests?
And then they still won't let you appeal it. I wasn't aware though that No-Fly extended to boats, that makes it criminal. The only way to get off the continent then is to go to Canada or Mexico (or another SA country) and hop on a non-US associated airline. That is criminal.
Frustrated by unauthorized documentaries of slaughterhouse abuses, the agriculture industry hired corporate lobbyists to hire Congressmen to insert laws that would ban PETA activists from using the US air transportation system.
These have been implemented in a number of states recently, although I'm not sure if any of them included the watchlist provision in the final draft.
I would argue that details matter here and there is no valid generalization here. Neither of these are good things, but which is worse will depend on the details, and specifically how you define "good solution" and "bad solution".
Doing the wrong thing for the right reason seems in general to be worse, at least in terms of outcome, than doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
Can you give any examples of where you think this isn't the case?
If you do something right for the wrong reason then you have absolutely nothing to learn from and have made no progress at all at finding the correct solution for the problem at hand.
- the Russian monarchy is bad, let's put a "Communist" dictatorship in place
- 1930's German farms can't support its people, let's invade Eastern Europe
- modern Britain can't afford to pay for all of the hospitals/schools it needs right now, let's pay the private sector to build them for us, keep paying for them for the next 20 years and then find out that we own none of it
- terrorists sometimes communicate on the internet, let's bug everyone's conversations
Problem: Some humans are currently suffering.
Solution: Destroy the universe.
(The libertarian are also not perfect on these grounds, but perhaps somewhat better.)
]1] At least, that's how I see it; I don't want to try to defend that claim in detail right now. Anyway, I'm not sure it's right to go only back to the Constitution and not further back, to more basic points about liberty. Liberals and conservatives do not support individual freedom, so they have no fundamental ideas to point to; it's just "I want this on this issue, but that on that issue."
Obviously, you seem to see things differently, but you are wrong, and having such a narrow view of other people will destroy your ability to understand them or have a productive conversation with them.
I'm not sure I agree with you, but I acknowledge that it's a complex issue and not one I'm interested in trying to hash out on HN. (Which I already stated in my prior comment.)
> Obviously, you seem to see things differently, but you are wrong, and having such a narrow view of other people will destroy your ability to understand them or have a productive conversation with them.
I think that's a really unjustified thing for you to say. Having different opinions about the Constitution does not "destroy my ability to understand [others] or have a productive conversation with them." No offense, but that's a really ridiculous thing to claim.
I didn't say you have no principles, I said you didn't have a principled defense of the Constitution (or something like that).
So, does you just assume everyone who disagrees with you on politics is automatically insulting? People constantly argue about Constitutional issues and that's perfectly acceptable political talk. If you find that insulting, you're going to have a problem.
> you demonstrated what I was claiming right in the message I was replying to.
I'm honestly completely baffled. I don't know what you're talking about, and I don't know why you think I was "dismissive."
I realize you don't know what I'm talking about. You're so out of touch that you can't even see how brash and irritating you're being here.
Don't accuse me of ignoring the Constitution sometimes and leaning on it other times when you don't even know what my positions are. Especially don't accuse me of that, then say you don't feel like defending the position. Don't accuse me of having "no fundamental ideas to point to" when you don't even know what my positions are.
If you don't understand what's wrong with stating "Liberals and conservatives do not support individual freedom, so they have no fundamental ideas to point to", then you're a lost cause. You don't understand others, you don't want to, and because of that, you're going to have zero success in arguing for your ideas.
Do you actually want to convince other people of the merits of your views? If so, you need to change your tactics, big-time. If not, well, the internet has plenty of room for argumentative jerks.
You chose to take my position on liberals and conservatives, which disagrees with yours, very, very personally, rather than just saying, "He disagrees with me on politics," which would have been a more appropriate response.
And you've said all kinds of things that clearly are abusive to me... I'm brash, I'm irritating, I'm unable to have a conversation with others...
If you took my disagreement with you over politics as personally insulting, how do you think I'm supposed to take your actual personal insults?
> Don't accuse me of ignoring the Constitution sometimes and leaning on it other times when you don't even know what my positions are.
I am accusing liberals and conservatives of that. So what? That is not personally insulting, rude, or anything else. No reason to get upset.
I don't want to continue this conversation.
Because I couldn't possibly be one of those? Because my friends and family couldn't possibly be liberals and conservatives?
95% of the country fits into the "liberals and conservatives" slot. How can you not consider that to be personally insulting?
Because I don't expect people to be insulted when I express disagreement with them about politics.
Being able to disagree about politics is absolutely crucial for a functioning democracy.
I think you're aggregating people in a way that's dishonest.
That's a ridiculous claim. Do you think that everyone who disagrees with you about something is automatically dishonest?
> Please, as a progressive which are my pet issues?
I don't know, but if you're a "progressive," you by definition want to coerce me (and believe me, that's not going to help me any.. I want to live my life under my own judgment).
At least the Canadian one allows you to protest. As a result only about a thousand people on the list.
Does anybody know if other countries reference the U.S. no-fly list? Could one of these plaintiffs drive to Canada and travel abroad that way?
It's a remarkably similar tactic to what the Nazi's used . The Nazis attempted (and succeeded) in demonizing anyone who didn't agree with their ideals. That's basically what our politicians are doing: demonizing anyone who is 'not a patriot', 'against national security', 'disagrees with American Exceptionalism'.
Also, to those who will inevitably think 'Godwin's Law': thank you for derailing a legitimate comparison.
So, "terrorismism" is just classical Terrorism.
So what are Americans doing about it?
We see people in Turkey, Brazil and many other parts of the world protesting against their government, while those in the US appear to be doing nothing.
What's it going to take?
Try driving to Puerto Rico or Hawaii.
Given the context of no-fly lists, you can see what that's about. But without that context, you are wondering just what in the world it means. Are those people not allowed to be Americans?