15 July 2012

Where Have All Our Freedoms Gone?

Thank you for all who participated in my survey. Some of your responses made me think and I love that! We should all love to think about these issues, for we'd find they're probably not so easy to simply accept or dismiss. Within each new law or legislature there are multiple layers which should be examined before leaping to simplistic conclusions and cries of "GESTAPO!"

So, let's talk "rights," which lay the foundations for the "freedoms" we are allowed to enjoy. The Bill of Rights is our Nation's go-to guide for protecting it's citizens life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We are a country founded on saying "F-you" to an unfair authority as well as a national religion. Our country was largely based on being able to rise up against tyranny. Let freedom ring upside yo' heads! Woo-Hoo! 'MERICA!

That's cool. We are free. But we have to weigh that freedom with being a part of a society. And in society, we have to work together to maintain order and function. Also in a society, your freedom ends where I begin  and sometimes that line is blurry. This is why we have laws in addition to our rights.

But we always hearken back to our constitution and the original Bill of Rights to keep those laws in check. You may hear a lot of quotes from the Bill taken and applied out of context to further someone's insistence their "right" to be a jackass is, like, totally protected. It's kind of like Bible-mining, you can find a quote to bolster anything if it's general enough.

So what are our rights, the ones we are afforded by our constitution? Click HERE to find out. This is the main source I will be using, as it has easy links to court decisions and interpretations.

And now, let us explore some of your grievances: 

1. "The freedom to get on an airplane without... being digitally unclothed for a random stranger." You are correct that this was something you were able to freely do before and not now. Unfortunately the balance between freedom and safety on an airplane is a tedious one and there is nothing in the Bill of Rights that helps you, because flying is a privilege, not a right. Even though your job puts you up to flying all the time, nowhere is it stated that Americans have a right to fly anywhere. You're on your own in regards to transportation. Unfortunately, while it is an invasion of privacy, it seems to be a constitutional one. We are supposed to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure (4th Amendment), but apparently, not only the government, but the airlines and airports, and the reluctant acceptance of the people, deem it reasonable. For the record, I don't like those things either,(and thankfully I've never had to deal with one) but the only answer is we have to come up with something better than stripping people naked, harassing them and all manner of bullshit at the airport. Technology will catch up, I hope.  *Oh, wait, it has! And the results are terrifying.

2. "Can not buy a gun without a background check and a two week wait period" and "right to bear arms without the bs bureaucracy." First off, I would like to ask, who are you both in such a hurry to shoot? I know at least one of you already owns firearms, and you both live in low-crime neighborhoods, so what's the panic about? Aside from that, you have the right to keep and bear arms. The Bill of Rights says, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This is a little vague, of course, because it doesn't clearly tell us where individual rights and state's rights intersect on the matter and where to go from there. But it isn't hard to buy firearms. In Illinois, the process is simple, apply for your FOID card, get approved (you can appeal even with certain felonies on your record, just not with domestic violence or battery within 5 years), and go to your local gun shop. The wait is 24 hours for a rifle and 72 hours for a handgun. Bada-bing. You're ready to kill some one or thing, not much bureaucracy involved. As for regulations on what types of firearms you may own and where you can carry them, sorry - it is not your right to have a bazooka or grenade or walk into town with a rifle on your back. The Bill of Rights does not protect this. To be honest, it is about a "well regulated Militia." Are you part of a well regulated Militia? I'm not talking about people who read war books and run around in the woods or folks who play Call of Duty all day and think that makes them a soldier. You'd be hard-pressed to even call those Militia guys in the upper- peninsula "well regulated." And keep in mind, 200 years ago, they didn't have automatic weapons, modern bombs, or, I don't know, MILLIONS of people living in close proximity in urban areas. Times have changed, yet your simple right has not been infringed.

UPDATE: The Supreme court decided in 2008, with DC v Heller, an individual can bear arms for self defense within the home and not have to be part of a militia. In 2010, with McDonald v Chicago, it was decided that it is constitutional for an individual can keep and bear arms. A state cannot ban their use and can only impose restrictions up to a certain point.Many states handle these restrictions differently. 

3. "Can not say the pledge of allegiance in school or anything to do with God" and "ACLU trying to remove God from everything, including the pledge of allegiance." This is simply not factual. At my daughters' public elementary school, they are to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance and the school pledge within the first few weeks. You most certainly can and do say the Pledge in our nation's public schools. The ACLU has a right to free speech and to challenge anything they want. It is up to the Judicial branch of our government to weigh those claims against the Constitution and make a decision. So, again, your rights are not infringed. You may pray to God all you want. Your child may say grace at the school lunch table without repercussion or use their mandatory moment of silence (IL) to thank Jesus for their art teacher's low-cut top or anything else. God is a frequent topic in public schools. So, please. Case dismissed. And to go a little deeper here, the words "under God" were added in 1954. Ever since there has been controversy and court cases over it, the decision being whether or not a school can request children stand and pledge an oath to their country and God is a matter of State's rights. No one can be forced to recite it, however, teacher or student. That would most certainly be unconstitutional. 

4. "The Patriot Act." Now we're cookin' with gas. This is a legitimate concern, due to alleged abuses. The Patriot Act was signed into law by G.W. Bush on October 26, 2001 to give our Law Enforcement more leverage in catching terrorists. Much of it revolves around foreign intelligence and suspected terrorism which does not impinge on our freedom, lest we wish to freely terrorize our countrymen. There are also provisions for speedy aid to victims and service men and womens' families. The real controversy centers around the way Law Enforcement is able to gather information. The Patriot Act enables officers to gather information via wiretap, computer, and other electronic devices without much in the way of a warrant and allows the FBI to acquire any tangible records (books, paper documents) it needs to investigate someone suspected of terrorism or computer fraud. None of these methods are supposed to be used against any citizen based solely on the activities protected by the First Amendment. Therefore, this is a tricky one. The Patriot Act itself does NOT impinge upon YOUR rights, but if/when Law Enforcement uses it against someone because they don't like what they are saying about the government on the internet, that would be/is a violation of your rights & freedoms. The 4th Amendment protects you against unwarranted search and seizure, but there is no protection for suspected foreign or domestic terrorists (and I am okay with that.) However, there are "slippery slope" implications that can/do threaten citizens, depending on who is in power, and what they deem 'dangerous' or 'criminal' enough to warrant illegal surveillance. Unfortunately, this was pushed through in the fervor of the 9/11 attacks and needs to be revisited for sure.

5. "FISA" FISA is the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act signed in 1978 by Jimmy Carter to provide oversight in regards to surveillance of foreign entities and domestic citizens involved in espionage and the like. It was created to deter government from using covert surveillance on anyone they wish, such as political activist groups, like Nixon was doing. FISA actually protected your rights and freedom not to be a target of surveillance if you're simply an activist and not a terrorist or spy. To use FISA, the government has to prove you're a "foreign power, or agent of foreign power." Recently this was expanded to include terrorism, since terrorists often do not operate for a specific government. The controversy centers around the inclusion of being able to spy on an American citizen suspected of espionage or colluding with terrorism and granting telecom corporations immunity for cooperating with the government in surveillance. This is another case of government agencies needing some badass powers to catch the creeps who want to blow us up, plant bombs, sell our weapons secrets and do things that threaten our national safety and security and having to balance that with our First and Fourth Amendment rights.. When used as intended, this is NOT an infringement of your rights (unless you're making "innocent" calls to an undisclosed cave in Iran?) What can be an infringement on some people's rights (but, really, not YOURS. You're not that important) is if the government gets your phone/internet records without warrant for reasons that do not include any foreign threat or terrorism, and no one can punish the phone company for handing it over. But sleep easy, FISA isn't something you need to worry about unless you're involved in probable foreign espionage or terrorism. (Besides, they'd use the Patriot Act against you, it'd be easier.)

6. "H.R. 347" HR 347 is a 40 year old bill that states it is illegal to hang around on restricted grounds near the President, Vice President or any others protected by the Secret Service. You never had the freedom to enter a restricted area and harass the President, Vice President or their Families or Foreign dignitaries. You still don't. No change. Again, this is one of those things where people are worried of "implications" such as not being able to protest or heckle the President, Vice President or others protected by the secret service. As in, say, the secret service expanding their "restricted zone" to excessively large and unreasonable areas. It is your right and freedom under the First Amendment to peaceably assemble, protest and petition the government for redress of grievances. It is not your right to get too close to our leaders in restricted zones. Never has been. You can't go for a stroll on the White House lawn anymore, either, but really? Who cares. This means nothing.

7. "Habeus corpus infringement" and "free trade deals" and "media censorship." These are all very vague complaints. I would need you to be more specific. We all have the right to a speedy trial by jury and cannot be detained without reason, unless in a National emergency. Free trade is a huge undertaking and quite complicated, not sure what your specific issue, in regards to your rights and freedoms, is with it. As for media censorship... um, have you seen this thing called the internet?  You can find anything you want, uncensored, from  factual journalism to fearmongering horseshit. Have at it.

8. "Mandatory Healthcare" I'll talk about this in a later post down the line. I just don't have the time/strength/energy at the moment (I'm not getting paid for this, you know.) As for now, all I can say is so far, SCOTUS says it is constitutional. I'm not copping out here, I just need a full post to flesh it out. Not a simple paragraph.

9. "Businesses were not given a choice as to whether they wanted a smoke-free environment or not." This is an example of your rights end where I begin. I know you're a smoker and to be honest I understand your annoyance. Not only do you have to pay nearly $10 a pack, but now you have to huddle in little designated areas outside to have a smoke, even in bars, where smokers tend to like to smoke. But we're talking freedoms and rights here, and knowing what we now know about second-hand smoke, we cannot ignore the fact that smokers are raising non-smokers chances of lung cancer, heart disease, asthma and other lung disease, such as emphysema and COPD. Second hand smoke  causes 40,000-50,000 deaths a year. It causes cancer death in 3,400 people a year, worse asthma and asthma-related problems in nearly 1 million children a year, hundreds of thousands of lower-respiratory tract infections in children, resulting in tens of thousands of hospitalizations every year. So as much as I support your right to damage your own lungs if you so choose, you do not have the freedom or the right to give anyone else a grisly cancerous death, or asthma attack, or heart attack. People who work in bars and restaurants have a much higher risk of developing these conditions. So, I get your frustration, but given the real and serious carcinogenic danger of second-hand smoke, inflicting others with preventable disease is not a freedom you or any business owner are owed. (info from cancer.org, CDC, American Lung Association and WHO) 

10. "States chipping away at Roe v. Wade, and women's healthcare and privacy and reproductive rights via contraception." Roe v. Wade was a historic landmark decision by the Supreme Court to legalize abortion. It also gives the "trimester" approach in order of regulation. This means, in the first trimester, it is legal and private, between a woman and her physician, during the second trimester, you have to prove the life or health of the mother or fetus is in danger, but you cannot be denied outright. In the third trimester, each state has the right to accept or deny abortion, except when the life and health of the mother is at stake. The judgment centers mostly on the interpretation of privacy rights granted in the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 9th Amendments. This is a very thorny issue. Regardless of my personal feelings on the matter, it is one of those freedoms that is not guaranteed. This is a fight we will have to fight forever and in a way, it is necessary to check and balance the mother's rights and freedom with that of the unborn child's. This balance tips back and forth depending on each individual circumstance, the viability of the child, and the beliefs as to what constitutes "personhood." Again, abortion itself will have to be another topic for another post, because it is not as cut and dry as we'd all like it to be. (Though forcing trans-vaginal ultrasounds, I would say, is a complete invasion of privacy and to be honest, borderline rape-y.)

As for contraception, we are free to obtain and use it, since 1965, with respect to "marital privacy," an interpretation of the 9th Amendment to enumerable rights. In 1972, this was reaffirmed in respect to non-married couples as well. So there is no ban on contraception. As a matter of fact, the new healthcare mandate states contraception to be provided without copay and in the case of Catholic hospitals' refusal to pay, the insurance company has to foot the bill. So, that would be a huge step forward in regards to making contraception available and affordable. Couple that with mandatory health insurance, and pretty much everyone should be able to access the stuff very soon.I am aware certain groups are trying to make it harder to obtain, defunding planned parenthood and trying to ascertain that no one owes you contraception (and to be honest that statement has a point). However, the health cost of contraception compared to the cost of birth and subsequent life is fairly substantial. Fiscal conservatives should understand this. The mandate is constitutional because it applies equally and doesn't target any faith. I think all this controversy is a lot of hot air out of a dying and growingly antiquated school of religious thought. Most Christian religions, except strict Catholics and other small fundamentalist sects, support birth control. Accessibility, however, is your right... to fight for.

11. "Pursuit of happiness .... marriage equality constantly under attack...by bills passed to [overturn what has already been] passed in so many states already." Same-sex marriage is finally gaining traction. Generally speaking,  hiccups aside, homosexuals are gaining their equal rights, not having them them stripped away. But it is not happening in the swift and timely manner that you or I would like it to. The Declaration of Independence so famously says "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Now, if you want to use the word "creator" to mean your God and His intentions, I would like to remind you that our First Amendment in the Bill of Rights stops that silly train cold. Not to mention it only says "men" so... do we want to harangue all day or use the meaning as described by George Mason in the Virginia Declaration of Rights from June of 1776:    "That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain rights of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety." In 1967, the Supreme Court recognized in it's decision on Loving vs. Virginia that the “right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals” and “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness.” Marriage was deemed a “fundamental freedom” protected by the Constitution, and states cannot deny an individual of this basic right without an 'exceedingly good reason.' (Of course this was in respect to interracial marriage.) Add this to the First Amendment right for freedom from State religion and the Fourteenth Amendment, which states, "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." I would interpret this as gay marriage being a national constitutional right and freedom. This whole 'state's rights' garbage is, unfortunately, a more drawn-out way of having it become accepted over time. I think that is wrong, but again we are gaining, here, not losing. 

12. "Women's right to appear and speak in public hearings re: women's health or have the panel serving include women." I believe this is about Lisa Brown and her "vagina." What happened to her is bullshit. Pure and simple. Her colleague, Byrum was making a sort of "statement" by proposing a bill that applies strict anti-abortion legislature to vasectomies. So that's... not as defend-able. Men and women in our congress shouldn't be making spectacles. That is up for our entertainers to do. An indefinite ban from speaking on the floor isn't an appropriate "punishment," however.So yeah, this incident is total crap, but there has been a huge backlash and uproar over it, so I wouldn't worry that our rights are being stripped. Again, dare I say it, women are still gaining true equality. Regardless of the hot air and rhetoric, we are always improving our lot. (Though it is my personal opinion that it is SAD we still have to be doing this after how many years now???WTF?)  As an aside, my sister-in-law posted a humorous meme that said "If the word vagina offends you, you should probably stop being such a cunt."

13. "Right of public peaceful assembly is being beyond chipped away since... Occupy movement, Right not to be abused by the police in this process..." See HR 347 above. Claims that this bill "changes everything" are incorrect. Every legal site says the changes include the White House Grounds and scrap the word willfully out of 'willfully and knowingly enter a restricted area.' Only op-ed articles denounce the bill for fear it stifles free speech. Even the ACLU calls the truth "more mundane." While I believe in the right of the people to assemble and peacefully protest, let's be honest, a lot of protests devolve into a disorganized mess that involves destruction of property, criminal activity, and a mass of dickheads who don't even know why they're there. Law Enforcement has to weigh the safety of the people and preserving public property with the right for free speech and assembly. They don't want to be there; under the uniforms, they're people just like us.Some of them are shitty and abuse their authority, but that's more of an abuse of power, not a removal of your rights. Authority will always try and keep dissent away and dissent will always push back. The Occupy movement started out with a bang. They had a direct message and were peacefully camping out. Most Occupy protests went off without a hitch besides a few minor violations/scuffles. But then it drug on and IMO, the message became muddled as people started showing up with all kinds of unrelated grievances and demands for reparations. At a point it just runs out of steam and has to go. That is probably a good thing, for otherwise it just becomes background noise and people will start to ignore it. I think the fact that people did this shows our protesting rights are pretty strong. 50 years ago, their asses would have been beaten (Chicago Democratic Convention) or shot (Kent State.)

14. "My freedom FROM religion is often violated."  
It's funny, I feel like all this religious fundamentalism just gained traction in the last decade or so, with the advent of the internet bringing their beliefs out of the sticks. I grew up in a predominantly Catholic area (Technically, I am a christened and confirmed Catholic, isn't that something?), but Chicago is not the Bible belt, so I assume you grew up under very different circumstances. Freedom from religion doesn't mean that religious people's imagery and attitudes must be shielded in public, or that religious people don't have the right to make decisions based on their own moral code. Freedom from religion means that no one can pass a law that infringes on your right to be non-religious. Each bill and law must have a secular goal. It also means that no public or government place, such as courts or schools can force you to participate in a religious activity or endorse a particular belief. So, while it sucks to be living around a bunch of people who are fundamentally different and irreverent of your difference, it is their right to be intolerant as long as that intolerance does not lead to discrimination.

I wish religious fundamentalists would understand how important it is to protect the rights of the non-religious. Although Christians like to kumbayah when it comes to uniting against secularism, there is actually a huge rift between Catholicism and Protestantism that will never be patched, namely the fundamental relationship between man and God, or more aptly, man's ability to have direct authority over interpreting the Bible, or whether he must submit to the Church. That's kind of a big deal and it will never be mitigated. Hypothetically speaking, if they got all us Agnostics and Atheists out of the way, then worked on the Muslims, then the Hindus and the Jews, then worked their way through the Mormons, etc., what you have left is an ultimate battle Royale between the two sects of Christianity. Get rid of non-theism and you will all go down like a house of cards. Think about it, the Republican nominee believes God was once a man from another planet, and that he had real sex with Mary to conceive Jesus. I don't think a Catholic is into that sort of thing. And try telling a Protestant they must have many children in order to create bodies for "spirit babies." See? Even within Christianity there is a wide range of belief and practice.

Our founding fathers' knew this (Church of England v. Puritans v. Protestants) and they meant darn well what they said.NO STATE RELIGION. But they didn't say "and thus the people shall be free of wing nuts who petition to take science and critical thinking skills out of schools" or "no citizen shall be forced to look upon a nativity set on a front lawn" or "no one shall have to suffer a holy roller."

I'll also bring up contraception again, because I think what happened in congress recently illustrates the way the system must work. Obama mandated contraception free of charge, for all business health plans. The Catholics protested, because it goes against their religious beliefs. So a compromise was struck to still offer contraceptives to all these large corporations' non-Catholic employees, but the insurance companies will foot the bill instead of the Catholics. This way no employees' rights (in this case, access to contraception, a freedom soon-to-be granted to all citizens) are infringed upon and no Catholic business has to support something they deem a mortal sin.

Of course everyone is still shouting, but be patient. There will come a time when we cannot ignore what we have seen and what we discover about ourselves and this wild universe. I believe the truth will win, whether or not that truth involves a creator and if it does, what exactly the nature of this creator is (or isn't.)

15. Monsanto Abusing Farmers. This hypothetical tale refers to biotech giant Monsanto, known lately for it's Round Up Ready GMO seeds and Round Up herbicides to go with the seed (which has been genetically altered to handle Round Up's abuse), and their claims against farmers who have been found to be in the possession of Round Up seeds and plants. The farmers' claim seed blows in the wind and it ended up on their property, while Monsanto insists they are using it's special seeds illegally. This is another doozie can of worms that needs much more fleshing out, but I would say this: Monsanto is abusing the law big time and has help doing so with it's board members holding important positions in the FDA and Supreme Court. I am not going to go into GMOs here or all the terrible (and great, I have to say) shit Monsanto has come up with to poison us (and make our lives better, to be fair). But this is a legal abuse and definitely something that needs hashing out. Unfortunately our Founding Fathers didn't forsee a patent on life itself, so there is no precedent for this. On one hand, Monsanto has to protect it's "property" but on the other, if your property is a life form, once it's out there, it evolves on it's own and is it a corporation's right to "own" that? This is a huge underpinning with effects that reach throughout the biotech and pharmaceutical companies and it is way beyond my pay grade. You may think that's a cop out, but go on and really look into it. I'm not talking about watching a quick doc like "The Corporation" or some organic food manifesto. I mean really look into it. If your response is anything less than a total brain shut-down, you aren't going deep enough.

16. "I can't get wasted and drive my car naked on my neighbor's lawn." I know, right? What the f*ck is up with that??


In closing, we live in a pretty free society. Feel "free" to travel around the world and compare.(As the Viking points out, the countries with the most civil liberties tend to have the largest social programs).

I would also like to say it is always a good thing to be concerned about your freedom. When new bills and laws are up that are vague in interpretation or have far-reaching consequences that begin to encroach upon your rights and freedoms, INFORMED and THOUGHTFUL concern is appropriate. However alarm and panic is not. I have had it with discussions that always go down the rabbit hole of  the New World Order, or how big Pharma wants to keep you sick to make money off of you. Simply put, this is the sign of fear taking hold due to ignorance.

The thing about Google University is the lack of quality control. And in a way, that's a good thing, it means we do have free speech. No one can shut you down for spewing lies, pseudoscience, misinformation or nuclear stupidity. It's your right. To make sure I have a balance of correct information, I start (notice I said "start") with Wikipedia and sites that have a .edu in their web address. For instance I will not look up the Bill of Rights text on a site like "FREEDOMFIGHTERS" or "GODSPLANFORAMERICA" or "ATHEISTUSA" (all sites made-up for illustration). And while I will look at debate points of view from sites and blogs like these, to better understand where each side is coming from, I will not pull facts from these sites. They are run by, to put it mildly, unofficial people without authority to be laying it down on any subject.I also look at a few fact-checking sites, such as FactCheck, PolitiFact, Snopes and the Washington Post Fact-Checker. Then I try to piece it all together. It's a lot of work, but at least I know what I'm talking about and not relying on some windbag pundit to tell me what to think.

I am not saying that fear is never justified, either. But when it starts to pit American citizens into straw men wars, instead of mobilizing us to take smart action to protect our freedoms, we're doomed. They've won. (Whoever they are, of course). We're so busy fighting over things that don't exist and making a ruckus and hating each other for being different, while Congress, our Legislature and President weeble-wobble between securing us and screwing us, depending on who's interest pays the most money and what intended and unintended consequences that interest entails.

I have no grand solution for that (other than removing all non-salary money and gifts out of politics), but I offer a weapon: skepticism, rational thought and research. (Skepticism doesn't mean disbelief, only that you do not accept the things people say at face value.) Knowledge is power and it is the best remedy for anxiety and fear. That's all I got. 

7 comments:

Missy Piotrowski said...

Great post, Liz:). You obviously have done your homework. For the record, I was confirmed Catholic as well but since moving to the South, they are a true minority. Baptists reign here, and sometimes the scary ones. One of Luke's students, a senior in high school, could not understand that there COULD BE a B.C., because nothing could have come before Christ. That's how we roll in Georgia, apparently.

cath c said...

kudos for the thorough and reasoned research and statements!

was wondering how this was going to pan out...

misshum22 said...

Apparently the Old Testament did not count, then? Lol

misshum22 said...

I received this comment, not sure why it didn't post:

I'm sharing my spin on a few topics that helped you waste your weekend : )

I'm not in a panic because I have guns. I am "not in a hurry to shoot" anyone but you can bet your ass I would be if an intruder came into my home. Like millions of others, I would be ready to join a well regulated militia if an uprising was needed. Some anti gun lovers may even be hiding behind us. Bad guys always have guns. Period. No amount of bureaucracy will ever change that.

Aclu is most certainly trying to remove under God from the pledge. It's on their website. I think it bothers citizens because we are a Christian majority. And a lot of people, even lawyers, lost faith in our judicial branch. It's not surprising to hear lawyers tell you that our system is broken and corrupt. Most voters have no clue about the judges they vote into office. Appointed justices also have agendas and beliefs.

Most non terrorist people have nothing to fear about The Patriot Act & FISA though it doesn't sit well with many when the government expands laws in the name of safety and there's an increase in the potential abuse of power.

Hr347 is a modified senate bill. Again, by expanding the law, its much easier for prosecution and can be used to suppress legal protesters. They not only expanding protected areas, they removed "willfully" from the original paragraph so even a person who doesn't know its illegal can be arrested. A little far fetched but possible.

Regarding censorship... um, ever hear of fcc net neutrality, SOPA, PIPA? Some completely ridiculous stuff out there.

I could care less about non smoking establishments. What I do care about is that the government is making decisions for business owners. A bar owner, with a proper ventilation system,should have had a choice whether to allow smoking in their establishment or not. And I'm guessing people consuming alcohol in a bar aren't overly health conscious. Alcohol related accidents and deaths also affect millions of people just like second hand smoke. Hey, let's ban alcohol. Oh, wait. We did that and it doesn't work. BTW, non smokers should appreciate all the tax revenue. When everyone quits they'll be coming after you along with the sugar, caffeine, and fast food tax increases. It's all bad for you and your families, right?

I agree that voters have to keep themselves informed on issues. I can't believe how many people get their info strictly from their favorite actor or Opra. When people don't pay attention or get involved all the non sense gets passed.

The main concern I hear a lot from others is that the government is getting too big and are way too involved in our lives. Besides our taxes getting out of hand, we are being strangled by policies, laws, and regulations at all levels of government.
Our elected leaders need to stop playing mommy to everyone.

misshum22 said...

Anonymous,

1. I agree with the right to bear arms. And I have no problem with intruders being killed, believe me. To be in a well-regulated militia that is worth anything, you have to be well trained in not only weapons, but defense and strategy and probably guerrilla tactics. You should probably have military training and be as fit and sharp as a soldier, is all I'm saying. It's not a fantasy, like for when the zombies come or Big Brother comes and you'll be guns a blazin.' (I am not saying you think this, only illustrating that the reality of a militia capable of defending itself has to be real serious.)

2. I didn't say ACLU wasn't trying to remove God from the Pledge. It is their right to request an addition from 1954 added to separate us from the communists be removed on account of the First Amendment. It's up to our Judicial System to decide upon it. It doesn't matter what religion is the majority. The State shall not endorse it. I don't know if you read my part on religion, but all Christian religions don't agree on some pretty fundamental things.No national religion is a very important rule.

3. In regards to judges, you are right no one knows who they are. I believe we should. But the rest of your sentiment is a grand generalization that doesn't apply across the board.

4. HR 347 ALWAYS meant and said knowingly. They took out willfully because willfully meant you were there to commit a crime. So instead of knowing you were in a restricted zone to do bad stuff, it is simply knowing you are trespassing in a restricted zone. There truly is no change. You won't be arrested if you don't know where you are.

5. FCC, SOPA, PIPA - yes!! I agree that shit is out of hand. I could do another whole post on that.The good news is we did not let it pass, but must be vigilant.Behind that isn't so much the government, though, but corporations that want to protect their "property."

6. I still stand by my second hand smoking statement. A ventilation system does not help and the difference is 2nd hand smoke is not something you choose, like alcohol or smoking a cigarette yourself. You'd be, in essence, hurting other people.

Unfortunately our leaders try and find these weird balances between social welfare, keeping their constituents happy and pleasing the hands that feed them. It goes deeper than simply "the government" and the problems come from us as well as corporations as well as the government. IMO, of course.

steve said...

You rule, Liz!

misshum22 said...

Thx, Steve. Now if only everyone could see it MY way...