Your Rights Are Not What You Think

“Aden described the scene in a Facebook post Saturday, adding that the officer who told him that he wasn’t being detained has an “ignorance of the law and the Fourth Amendment” of the U.S. Constitution that should disqualify him as a customs officer.” (WTOP)

Regrettably for Mr. Aden, as well as everyone else that considers themselves a citizen of the United States, whether natural born or legally converted, the law is not that clear and the rights granted under the Constitution do not actually apply as you have been deluded into believing (and if you think a Founding Father or two just rolled over, join the crowd). The article What Customs and Border Officials Can and Can’t Do highlights this in chilling detail.

As more and more of us are learning, especially with the more tyrannical leadership under Number 45, the Constitutional provisions off you no protections within 100 miles of the United States Border. Let me say that again. According to the law, any member of the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CPB) has the legal right to stop you, perform an unsanctioned search and seizure, and detain you without a warrant. If your jaw just hit the floor, join the club. If you are confused, think about this. The Border of the United States is not just with Canada and Mexico. There is an invisible border twelve miles off the coast of the United States. Take a ruler. Draw a line from that 12-mile limit one hundred miles into the interior of the United States. Draw it one hundred miles from the US/Canadian border and 100 miles from the Mexican border. Tell me how many cities are inside that border? Tell me how much of the population fo the United States lives inside that line. Upset yet? You should be. Inside that zone, many of the provisions of the Constitution can be suspended without cause and there is nothing you can do about it. And it is only going to get worse, not better.

The person in the street shrugs, security comes first [B. Cockburn]. If that is your attitude, either you never plan to travel anywhere, or you do not understand how damaging this is to our foreign relationships. But as this sort of nonsense continues, it is likely that the United States will see a departure of its citizens. Those citizens that have the option to go somewhere else. The brain drain started when the IRS cracked down, in many cases irrationally, on funds overseas. This resulted in serious backlash in financial markets that is already causing issues with US funds abroad. This type of harassment of citizens and foreigners alike will have negative impacts. Travel, tourism, and good will are important in international relations. When the country’s citizens are treated as criminals, the only one left will be criminals.

I listened, now it is your turn

I did not write this, but it sums up the previous eight years and highlights just what the next four years will be. And if you think I have pulled my punches before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

“I listened as they called my President a Muslim.
I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys.
I listened as they said he wasn’t born here.
I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could.
I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.
I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.
I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.
I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was.
I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn.
I watched as they did just that.
I listened.
I watched.
I paid attention.
Now, I’m being called on to be tolerant.
To move forward.
To denounce protesters.
To “Get over it.”
To accept this…
I will not.
I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.
I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.
I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country.
I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.
I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.
Them. The people who voted for him.
The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.
I will do this so that they never forget.
And they will hear me.
They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.
They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.
They will know that I know who they are.
They will know that I know what they are.
Do not call for my tolerance. I’ve tolerated all I can.
Now it’s their turn to tolerate ridicule.
Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day forward is now Trump’s fault just as much as they thought it was Obama’s.
I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give.”

–Author Unknown

Why Primaries?

Sunday morning, I awoke to discover that Marco Rubio had won the primary in Puerto Rico. Two thoughts emerged from this.

First, why is there a primary in Puerto Rico? Or Guam? Or any other non-state, since none of these people get to actually vote in the Presidential Election because none of these jurisdictions send people to the Electoral College. They do not even have voting representation in the House or Senate. So why, exactly, was there a primary there?

And this brought me to my second question. Who, exactly is paying for all of these primaries? I have a sinking feeling it is me. In my little town, they had to pull out the voting machines and ran through the process as if it was a real election, including the full up election board. My question – why? Who cares? Why does this have to be done this way and, more importantly, why do I have to pay for it? The primaries are a function of the parties. They created them, they direct when they happen, and they throw a snit whenever one state or another decides to hold them out of some predetermined order.

Again, why?

I have to dig back through US history, but I cannot believe that this whole circus of primaries has been around since the beginning. And I am pretty sure most Americans would be relieved if they did not have to listen to all the vitriol and blovating that has been consuming the media for the better part of the last two years, and certainly since the beginning of 2016. Is there a reason that the United States cannot choose a President in less than four years? At the very least, is there a reason we have to go through the mess that is the primaries? Given how few people actually voted in the primaries, most have tuned out the noise. If the goal is to get more people involved, perhaps the cycle should be condensed. I know I would pay more attention if the elections stated in September and ended in November of the same year. Instead of starting in December, the month after the elections have occured.

President 2016 – My dog is declaring his candidacy

From this morning’s WTOP:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s John Kasich, a blunt governor who embraces conservative ideals but disdains the political sport of bashing Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to become the 16th notable Republican to enter the 2016 presidential race.

Teddy Lane
No, seriously, I think Teddy announced his candidacy today. Somewhere between his morning stretch and that bowl of kibble. And, I think, he has all the right qualifications. He is friendly to babies, outgoing, photogenic. He has a strong platform related to ensuring his people are held together as a unit. And he loves the feel of the wind in his ears. I have never heard him say a bad word about anyone, and the fertilizer he spreads around is more robust that what I have heard coming out of the mouths of most of the Presidential candidates so far. The only downside to his personality is his tendency to run as far and as fast as he can when he gets off the leash or out of the yard. But with all the new improvements around the White House, I am pretty sure that getting out is not something he is going to do very often. So when you are considering the options for 2016, I want you to consider Teddy for President. After all, he is just as qualified as any of the other candidates that have declared so far. On both sides of the aisle.

 

Congress is Upset?

This morning, the Washington Post reported:

Some lawmakers, including top Democrats, express frustration that the U.N. Security Council gets the chance to vote on the deal this week, signaling the international community’s intention to dismantle the sanctions against Iran before Congress votes on it.NYTimes

I read this once, then I read it again. Then I forced myself to read it yet a third time. At some point, I thought the author was kidding. But no, if you read the New York Times article, you begin to understand something very important. That is that the United Nations Security Council, part of a a huge, multi-national organization is more responsive and flexible the the United States Congress.

The document in question is the Iran Nuclear Deal. About 180 pages in length. The United Nations Security Council members, apparently, has had sufficient time to read the deal and decided it knows enough to schedule a vote. The United States Congress, on the other hand, is getting ready to leave Washington for their summer recess, and therefore, will take the next sixty days to review the agreement, and then ponder whether it will vote. As a voting constituent, I ask two questions:

  • If this is such an important agreement, shouldn’t Congress delay their vacation to deal with the work in front of them?
  • If this is not so important, then why are they upset that the United Nations Security Council is voting before them?

Me thinks Congress doth protest too much. Either that, or they really are less interested in their doing their job, than they are keeping their job.

Enough With The False Anger Over Stores Opening On Thanksgiving

There is a current upset over stores opening on Thanksgiving here in the United States. Being born in Canada, I don’t care either way – Thanksgiving is not a sacred cow. But what I find amazing is the same people that are ranting about the stores being open on Thanksgiving seem to not care that these same stores maintain almost normal hours on Memorial Day, Labor Day, even Independence Day.  Nary a whimper about this.

In an article in the BBC, an article about “Life in a no-vacation nation,” it documents the, well shock, of an American now working in Australia where vacations are essentially mandatory. I have been making it my personal project to get the federal holidays repealed.  Why? Because no one, outside the federal government and a few select individuals get them. So why have a calendar full of them if you are going to have to work them anyway. I used to refer to the little four and the big five.  The big five were those sacred holidays – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  The little four were New Years, Columbus, President, and Veterans Day. In most real, non-retail companies, the little four were either forgotten entirely, or were shuffled around to make things easier, like the Friday after Thanksgiving, or the week between Christmas and New Year.

Lately though (since the turn of the 2000), even the big five seem to be pretty much ignored, especially if you work for a global company. The holidays are dates on the calendar and mean about as much as Saturday or Sunday do, or essentially, they are just days of the week that may or may not require you to be working. So why do we bother pretending that these days are “holidays.”

If we were serious, we would close everything on these days, much like what happens on Easter Sunday. Wait, what? Yes, until recently, Easter Sunday was the only day of the year when everything from retail to restaurants was closed. I mean signs on the door, we will not be open closed. And this was as recently as the middle of this century. Now things have changed and it is considerably less stringent than it used to be, but it does beg the question – if we can be closed for a non-holiday, why can we not close for such important days as the birth of the nation or Thanksgiving? Such false complaining really makes the rest of the world laugh at us more than they otherwise do. And by the way, why is the Friday also not a holiday?  Oh, that’s right, because we are all too busy shopping….

High court voids overall contribution limits

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court struck down limits Wednesday in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees. (WTOP)

I am not sure how anyone can see this as anything but a bad thing for American politics. It is now an open market for special interests and political action committees buying their seats in the legislature.  The 2012 Presidential process cost more than $1 billion dollars. With a national debt in the trillions, millions of people out of work and the Congress squabbling over who will pay for much needed benefits, people contributed more than a billion dollars to elect the president.

There is no more democracy in the United States. It is now just an issue of price. How much can you afford to pay?

 

The TSA Is Not Happy Unless You Are Not Happy

In case you missed it, the latest TSA/DHI scare has been released:

(CNN) — The U.S. government has warned airlines to pay particular attention to the possibility of terrorists attempting to hide explosives in shoes, a result of new intelligence, according to two people familiar with the situation. (CNN)

Of course, they are saying this is being done in an abundance of caution but honestly, I am not buying it. Call me cynical, but I believe it is more like this….

Because this affects only aircraft coming into the United States from overseas, not Canada or Mexico, I believe that the aviation administrations or the TSA equivalent in these countries were pressuring the United States to get with the program. There was no valid need to have people take off their shoes and subject themselves to what is essentially a strip search, so why was the United States still requiring it?  We have already heard the hue and cry from the so called flight attendants when the TSA tried to reduce the restrictions on knives being brought onto aircraft, so you can imagine the yelling that might occur if they dropped the constant screening of footwear.

But I am much more cynical than that. Despite protestations to the contrary, I fully expect that those of you who have shelled out money to the TSA to probe your background under the so called TSA Pre program and have been promised that you can keep your shoes on will find that you will treated no differently than us poor slaves who refuse to let the government have more access to our personal data than they already have.  So get ready America, you will have to keep taking your shoes off.  And to those of you flying the not so friendly skies, you will as well.

 

The TSA is behind the curve

This will come as no surprise:

The Homeland Security Department is banning all liquids from carry-on luggage for nonstop flights from the U.S. to Russia. The ban comes after the department warned airlines that terrorists might try to smuggle explosives on board hidden in toothpaste tubes. The warning said terrorist might try to assemble explosive device in flight or upon arrival at the Olympics. (www.wtop.com)

There is very little that I hear coming out of the Department of Homeland (In)security anymore that leaves me dumbstruck, but this was one of them.  The first thing that went through my mind was who is running the Game Theory office at the TSA/DHI, and have they ever seen a James Bond movie? Plastic explosives in a toothpaste tube is de rigueur in spy craft. Open any kids book on espionage and there it is.  So for the TSA to now, thirteen odd years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, ban liquids again is pretty stunning.

And then I am taken back to the Confessions of a TSA agent that appeared only a couple of weeks ago in Politico. The United States Government (in other words, you and me) are spending $150,000 per machine for full-body scanners, that do not work, and even if they did, there is a high likelihood that no one is watching the monitor anyway. And as been discussed numerous times, the x-ray machines, both above and below the security screening area cannot tell the difference between peanut butter and C-4, or chocolate powder and explosives.

So why, exactly is the TSA banning liquids on flights to Russia?  Because if no one complains about them banning liquids in this test scenario, they will be able to ban them in general, except for those of you silly enough to shell out $80 (or more) for their Pre-Check program, where the agency will, with your permission to boot, know more about you than anyone else.  All because they cannot procure, use, or understand the equipment that we are already paying too much for.

 

 

The Virginia Elections Are Over

As we wake up on the 6th of November, 2013, the Commonwealth of Virginia has concluded its election cycle.  And most of the results are in.  But it is not the results so much as the rhetoric around them that I want to discuss.

There are a number of Monday Morning quarterbacks that will be slicing and dicing the win of Terry McAuliffe.  There are many who will be crowing that the challenger, Ken Cuccinelli kept the vote close.  And in fact, the margin between the two candidates is only 55,420 votes.  Barely the margin of error.  Mr. Cuccinelli, in his speech was even heard to say that this was a referendum on the Affordable Care Act and the message was heard loud and clear in Washington. It is at this point that I put my hand up and ask, “did you even look at the numbers?”

Mr. Cuccinelli, a favorite of the Tea Party, has been arguing, despite other legal opinions to the contrary, that the ACA is a violation of the Constitution and the rights of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  He ran his campaign on it and as Attorney General of Virginia brought the first suit against it before the votes in Congress had been fully counted. As I said he lost by a little over 50,000 votes.  According to the numbers, a bit more than 2% of the total vote.  But before we start lifting up the new governor elect, or paying attention to the loser’s trumpeting, we need to look closer.

Mr. McAuliffe won the election with 1,064,016, Mr. Cuccinelli had 1,008,596. In total only 2,217,907 people voted in the election for Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 2 million people.  Let me put this in perspective.  The population of the City of Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth, is 210,309.  The population of the County of Fairfax, the population is 1.119 million. The entire population of the Commonwealth is 8 million. The total voter turn out for the election of Governor – the man who will run the Commonwealth of Virginia for the next four years was half of the total population of her most populated county.  If I added up the population of the entire National Capital Area, I would have a population in excess of two million people.

Now, there are those that will complain that not everyone in Fairfax, or Richmond, is eligible to vote, and that is a fair argument, so I went to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s voter registration site and downloaded the number of voters.  It is quite an interesting spreadsheet.  Based on the number of active voters in the Commonwealth, there should have been about 4 million people vote.  So less than half of what the Commonwealth identifies as active voters bothered to vote.  But to address the pundits who will argue that this election was a referendum of the viability of the Tea Party, or a vote against the  ACA, or even a vote for normalization, I ask you to consider this.  In the Commonwealth of Virginia, according to their own registrations, there are over 5 million registered voters in the Commonwealth. So while the turnout could be argued to be high for an off-year election, it was not even 50% of eligible voters. The new governor was elected with barely 1/5 of the voters in the Commonwealth casting a ballot.  This is not a mandate. It is barely a majority (as 1/5 voted against him). Yet clearly 3/5s of all eligible voters did not care enough to vote.

The take away is this. This election was little more than a blip.  Yes, we who live in the Commonwealth will have to live with the results for the next four years, but as the yelling and screaming about who won rebounds around the nation, remember this – it really does not mean anything.  So do not read anything into this. It was just a local election.