Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The highest court takes the low road

Attention "Supremes": People are not experiments.

People's lives are not experiments. People's families are not experiments. People's homes and businesses and visitation rights and survivorship benefits and wills...are not experiments.

People's civil rights are not experiments.

When you sidestepped the Constitution and installed in the White House a sociopathic idiot-child dry-drunk with a God complex?

That was an experiment.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Washington Post "addresses" a few TSA matters

In a post today by the normally clear-eyed Jonathan Capehart -- and in The Washington Post, no less -- you will see plenty of admiration for the way the TSA handles children and the elderly (they get to keep their shoes and jackets on!) as well as cheery support for the some-animals-are-more-equal-than-others Pre-Check program:
Anyway, all I’m asking is that the TSA treat the rest of us the way it treats little kids and old folks. Since 2011, youngsters under age 12 have been allowed to keep their ubiquitous light-up shoes on. And those age 75 and older have been able to keep their footwear on since 2012.[. . .] 
But there is a way around the shoe rule and others that would transport you back to the golden days of air travel when you could breeze through security and go right to your gate. It’s called TSA Pre. If the agency approves you after you’ve undergone its voluntary risk assessment, you get to keep your shoes, belt, and jackets on, and your laptop and plastic goody bag of 3 oz. toiletries get to stay in your carry-on. 
Looks like I better sign up for this thing.
To Capehart and the TSA apologists alike (who, to my profound disappointment, are well represented in the article's comment section): I must remind you that just because the intrusive and often-painful gropings of sex organs (which in many instances are both abusive and, according to FBI definitions of sexual assault and rape, illegal), the needless and forced removal of prostheses and artificial limbs, or any one of countless debasements and offenses to human dignity have not happened to you personally, doesn't mean that they haven't happened to other people all over the United States.

Innocent people who merely want to get from Point A to Point B in their own country.

As we have said so many times we're feeling metaphorically hoarse -- as well as afflicted with serious writer's cramp --  the TSA is an agency rife with criminals, from thieves to child-porn aficionados to rapists to drug-smugglers to (yes) muderers and spouse-abusers.

On top of all that, the agency itself is an unjustifiable use of tax dollars. It should be disbanded.

Furthermore, TSA Apologists, although you may have "breezed through" what is rightly described as, and proven by security experts worldwide to be, pure Security Theatre, those of you who are in possession of a modicum of conscience and a decent level of sympathy toward your fellow human beings should take a moment or two and read about at least some the agency's victims . Click the tab at the top of  the TSA News page, where resides an ever-growing Master List of documented abuses and crimes.

Read it and realize that your tax dollars support an indefensible, ineffective, fascistic agency that violates your Constitutional rights and emphatically does not make us safe. Reinforced and locked cockpit doors; alert, non-compliant passengers; and good, solid police work on the ground -- long before a terrorist even gets near an airport -- are what protect us from that which is statistically speaking, an event so rare that one has a greater chance of being struck by lightning -- four times more likely, in fact-- than  being involved in a terrorist attack.

Crossposted at TSA News Blog.

(Photo: veggiefrog/Flickr Creative Commons)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The droning

There are actually people, in the blogosphere, on Facebook, and on Twitter, who argue--with a straight face--that the Constitution (specifically the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees to due process before execution) doesn't apply if acting in accordance with it and following its directives might be risky, dangerous, inconvenient, or politically inopportune.

The Constitution exists precisely for such circumstances, as opposed to just those times when upholding the cause of justice is a simple, straightforward, innoxious exercise. Period, full stop.

Yes, there is plenty of danger inherent in sending armed forces into another country to try to capture, and bring to justice, an American citizen suspected of crimes. And it is pretty well laid out in the Fifth Amendment that when the United States is at war with a country, American armed forces, military and navy, may--in accordance with the rule of law--do what is necessary to defend the nation.

And furthermore, who could argue that flying into Pakistan, under that country's radar and without its permission, and attempting a capture-or-kill of the leading and most-wanted terrorist of our time--Osama Bin Laden--was not fraught with risk and dangerous in the extreme?

Bin Laden was not even an American citizen, yet the children living with and around him were spared, as we were repeatedly reminded by the media in the days that followed. A cynic might call that politically opportune.

But the droning continues elsewhere, in the villages and homes and hideouts of terrorists less well-known and headline-worthy.  Innocents live there too, but they aren't as lucky as the ones who slept under Bin Laden's roof.

To drone apologists and the various incarnations of "all's fair in love and war" they keep repeating, I say this: We are not at war with Yemen.

Nor are we at war with Pakistan.

In the case of targeting an American citizen, living abroad, for execution, why is it regarded as "whining", "puristic", or "naïve" to call out these crimes against humanity and the law itself for what they are?  How can a thinking, moral person be fully satisfied that a suspect's right to due process isn't being abridged when he is summarily executed--blown to bits--without having been afforded the basic rights that are constitutionally guaranteed to citizens, whether here or abroad? Denied the rights to confront his accusers and make a case for his own defense even, or to simply stand in front of a judge and state how evil this country is--or indeed to say nothing whatsoever, but to at least be given the chance to do so instead of having that choice--to speak or not speak--made for him, and done so brutally, antiseptically, irreversibly, and with concurrent harm to others?

And even if one were thus satisfied (and I am emphatically not), one cannot deny that the United States has been sending missile-loaded drones into that which our government deems "enemy territory" but which, while very likely serving as home and refuge to suspected terrorists, happens to be home to countless innocents, too. Ordinary families, that is, with their children, their animals, their homes, their places of worship, and even their emergency personnel--those brave souls we call "first responders", the people who rush to the scene when an explosion occurs in order to offer aid. All killed, by either the first explosion, or by the followup bombing, as happens in the execrable "double-strike" attacks, which wipe out any stragglers and even neatly take care the first responders--the medical personnel--whose life's work it is to attempt to save lives, not extinguish them.

All these people are killed along with the terrorist suspects.

They are not merely the unintended damage occasioned by war, because, again, the United States is not at war with their country.  They are not, Heaven help me, collateral damage. (What a hideous euphemism that is.)

They are rows upon rows of sooty-faced children: always motionless but for any still-flowing blood; often with bits of their skulls missing. Children who are no less innocent--and no less beloved by parents, family, and friends--than the white, middle-class victims of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut for whom President Obama, and countless others, publicly shed tears.

And I can't countenance any of this. Neither the wanton disregard for the rule of law, nor the wanton disregard for innocent human life--wherever it exists, and whatever its nationality, faith, or skin color.