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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Big Brother Is Watching

When news of the government’s collection of phone and internet data first came out, the people and agencies responsible tried to assure everyone that it was only general data that was being collected and that it was all for our own good. Senator Feinstein told us that she knows “people are trying to get to us” and that wholesale data collection is “called protecting America” [1]. Senator Graham was all for “Verizon turning over records to the government,[1]” as long as it’s to catch terrorists.

But last week, freelance writer Michele Catalano wrote about an unannounced visit from 6 armed men that belies the claims that only general data is being collected and that only terrorists are being targeted. Several weeks ago, this writer’s family made various internet searches. She, the wife, researched pressure cookers [2]. Her husband googled backpacks, and after the Boston bombings, her son read news stories about how the bombers found bomb-making instructions on the internet.

Several weeks later, 6 armed men in plain clothes pulled up to her house in 3 black SUVs while her husband was at home. Two came to the front door, while the other 4 surrounded the house. Her husband was a really good sport, and let them into the home, where they performed a cursory search, and asked questions about their alleged ownership of pressure cookers. In the course of discovering that the family was not a terrorist cell, they told the husband that they perform about 100 such visits per week.

Does this sound like general meta-data gathering to anyone? To me, it sounds like the government is gathering very specific and very individualized data about what we are doing on the internet without probable cause. The 4th Amendment gives citizens the right to “be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,[3]” and that right is clearly being violated.

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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in Corruption

 

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Go Team!

Sports fanatics don’t choose their favorite team in a rational manner. They don’t sit down and calculate which team to root for based on the current line-up, statistics, and what is best for the sport as a whole. They go with their emotions. The team that makes them feel the most fired up is the one that gets their devotion, and logic simply has no part in it.

In today’s political arena, the same kind of decision making skills are being applied by lawmakers and voters alike. Logic is tossed aside in favor of blind loyalty and rooting for the home team. Reasonable discourse and exchange of ideas become less and less common as each side becomes more focused only on being the victor in every struggle, and not on doing what makes the most sense for the country.

Political fanaticism doesn’t require a lot of critical thinking, just blind obedience. Facts and reason cannot sway someone who makes choices based on allegiance to a party. This kind of thinking has brought us a health-care bill that even the legislators who voted it into law don’t want to follow. It leads to protests over a law that simply requires abortion clinics to maintain the same safety standards as any other surgical clinic. And it results in the ostracization of any politician who dares disagree with their party’s position, as well as any number of other silly and childish behaviors.

Dr. Ben Carson, speaking of lawyers as politicians, asked, “What do lawyers learn in law school? To win, by hook or by crook”[1]. That is what our government has turned into, two teams who only want to be the winner, by hook or by crook. But this is an illusion: we are one team on one field. Turning politics into a game only ensures that no matter who wins, America still loses.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Political Divide

 

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