The Watering Hole, Wednesday, September 30, 2015: We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident

Rights. What rights do we, as citizens of the United States have? Not a whole lot.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”–(Declaration of Independence)

The Constitution itself does not confer any rights. Any Constitutional rights are implied. They don’t get spelled out until you get to the amendments:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Ok. So there’s the right to peaceably to assemble. That’s why we have “free Speech Zones” far away from anywhere the President may actually be appearing.

Amendment II
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.

And the right to bear arms. But not military grade hardware. So if you’re actually going to fight it out with the United States Military forces in a firefight…good luck. One drone and you’re toast.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…

Can you say “Homeland Security”?

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,…and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Unless, of course, you are accused of being a terrorist.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…

Do you even know the difference between a suit at common law and a suit in equity? Bottom line, in the former, you can have a jury, in the latter, a judge decides your fate.

Amendment XV
Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Finally, the Constitution mentions the right to vote. Up to now, it’s been an implied right. And, to the extent it is a right, this amendment allows men to vote, even if they were once slaves. The right to vote still doesn’t extend to women, however.

Amendment XIX
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Four amendments later and the implied right to vote finally extends to women.

Amendment XXVI
The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

In reaction to the Vietnam war, where we were drafting 18 year-olds to die ‘for their country’ the inherent unfairness of sending young men (women weren’t drafted into military service) to fight and die, without their having a voice in politics gave rise to the 26th amendment.

What’s missing here?
The right to drinkable water.
The right to breathable air.
The right to food.
The right to an education.
The right to health.

In short, a whole lot of rights guaranteed (or at least promised) to people living on other industrialized nations are not guaranteed rights in the United States of America.

Here in the U.S. of A. we have the right to life – and some people would take this to mean the right to life of a fertilized egg as being more important than that of a living, breathing human being (the impregnated female).

We have the right to liberty – if your rich. The poor can get incarcerated for petty, non-violent crimes. The rich can rob and kill without fear of incarceration.

And we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. As long as your happiness doesn’t challenge the status quo.

Water rights, on the other hand, are bought and sold. And food? Ask Monsanto.

There’s no right to clothing, but you will get arrested if you do without.

And there’s no right to shelter. And, again, you can get arrested for being homeless.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that Nature’s God abhors imbalance; and that chief among the imbalances in Nature is the disparity in wealth between the haves and the have-nots.

Balance will be restored. The only questions are how, and at what cost.

OPEN THREAD.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, January 30 – Mad Men

Cool. Makes you wish for the good old days. Or not? How was it really in the 1960s for:

Women

One in 5 women with children under 6 and nearly one fourth of women whose children were over 16 held paid jobs in the Sixties. Their pay, however, was 60 percent of the male rate.

I guess we are still fighting over that equal pay thing.

Gays

Police activity against gay men was rife throughout the 1950s. Many homosexuals were blackmailed, although only a fraction came to the attention of the police. The film Victim of 1961 brought these issues to a mainstream audience. It starred Dirk Bogarde as a repressed, married homosexual taking on the blackmailers who drove his partner to suicide.

African Americans

On May 2, 1964, Dee and Moore were hitchhiking from Meadville, Miss. and were picked up by James Seale. Seale and other Klansmen took the two men into the surrounding Homochitto National Forest and tortured and interrogated them about a possible influx of guns in Franklin County meant to arm blacks against their white attackers. Later the same day, several of the Klansmen put Dee and Moore in the trunk of a car and hauled them across the Louisiana state line, 100 miles north to a spot on the Mississippi River. Then they dumped the men into the river, weighting their bodies down with a jeep engine block and pieces of railroad track.

Environment

Despite many efforts to keep the environment clean, some 200 million tons of pollutants were filling the air each year, and clean air in many cities had been replaced by smog. The earth, air, and water were deteriorating as construction of highways, malls, and housing developments caused the destruction of fertile, irreplaceable farmland. Disposal of wastes was another dilemma to be dealt with. Burning could release poisonous gases into the air, and burial could cause harmful decay.

People with Disabilities ?

[…]In the mid-1960s, most of the developmentally disabled patients admitted to large state facilities were children under the age of 12. States offered virtually no support to families hoping to keep their sons and daughters at home and no education for those children living outside institutions.

So Mrs. Burns handed over her son to an institution in Gainesville, Fla., two hours from Daytona Beach, where she and her husband were living at the time. He was screaming and crying and clinging to her legs. She was crying, too. He was just 8 years old.

 

We have come a long way since I was growing up in rural Bavaria.To me it was not paradise. I welcome the changes that happened since and am glad that I do not have to refight the battles that got us here and which were only started then. Color me paranoid, but I think shows like “Mad Men” set the atmosphere for taking us back where we do not want to go. I enjoy watching, but sometimes I shudder at the thought.

This is our Open Thread. Add your thoughts!

Watering Hole: Monday, February 20, 2012 – Republican Wars

The Republicans have declared war on the majority of Americans.  Here are some examples:

  • War on WomenVirginia’s State Sanctioned Rape by forcing women that are seeking an abortion to undergo an unnecessary, vaginal ultrasound probe WITHOUT informed consent.  The Nazis subjected women to various “experiments” without their consent, too.  The war on women continues with the Republicans pushing to make birth control illegal.
  • War on ImmigrantsRepublicans have passed “show your papers” laws in Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia.  The Republican controlled state government of Missouri is currently pressing a slew of anti-immigration laws.  These anti-immigrant laws have cost the taxpayers money.  Then again, since when have Republicans been truly concerned about spending taxpayers money?  NEVER.
  • War on Marriage/Sexual Identity – The Republicans want to decide who should be allowed to be married.  Love has nothing to do with marriage.  They want to tell you who can marry and who can’t.  It’s the bible or some verse in the bible that dictates marriage to Republicans.  Even if you don’t believe in the bible, you are still screwed.  They are at war with people’s sexual identity.  Why are Republicans so obsessed with sex and sexual identity?
  • War on Latinos/Hispanics… see above War on Immigrants.
  • War on SeniorsThe voter ID laws disenfranchise seniors that are unable to get to a state sanctioned photo ID location.  These seniors will be denied their right to vote.  The Republicans want to dismantle Social Security through privatization and they want to dismantle Medicare by giving seniors discount coupons to be used to purchase high premium, private health insurance.
  • War on Young Adults – Republican controlled state legislators and Republican governors are cutting funds for higher education which will make college more difficult for young adults to afford.  It will also deepen the debt for many college students that are already up to their noses in debt.  When college students exceed the amount of money that they can borrow through the federal government, they turn to banks which charge them a higher rate of interest.  The rate is variable so it can increase over time and private student loans are the ONLY loans that are not forgiven in a bankruptcy.  Default on a private student loan will follow them to the grave and payment can be taken out of a seniors Social Security check to pay back a private student loan.

Republicans have been waging wars on women, immigrants, marriage, Latinos/Hispanics, seniors and young adults.  Who is left to support the GOPers?  As far as I can tell, it would be racists, bigots, fundies/evangelicals, and the tea bag party.  Can they win an election with just that group of voters?

The Republicans are always screaming for smaller government yet all their “wars” sound like big government to me.

Late entry:  I forgot to mention the War on Gays.  This has been going on for as long as I can remember.  The link to yesterday’s Zoo post.  There are that handful of gays that think being “left” isn’t proper enough so they choose the people that hate them the most, the “right”.

This is our Open Thread.  Did I miss mentioning any “Wars on…”?  It’s your turn to Speak Up!

News Flash – Zygote Files Lawsuit Against In Vitro Fertilization Clinic

Seeking to do in the courts what the Pro-Lifers failed to accomplish in the ballot box, Attorney C. Michael Hunt filed a lawsuit on behalf of Zygote John and/or Jane Doe against the In Vitro Fertilization Clinic in Bethlehem, PA.

According to the Lawsuit, the Zygote has been imprisoned in a testube ever since its egg was fertilized in 1994. Since the Zygote is still a minor, not having existed 18 years, the lawsuit was brought through his and/or her Guardian Ad Litem. The Zygote is seeking damages for false imprisonment, an intentional tort under Pennsylvania law, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of its right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, guaranteed under the Declaration of Independence.

“This person is approaching the legal voting age” Hunt said in a prepared statement. “Yet he, or she, has never had the opportunity to go to school, to make friends, to run and play in the grass, or go to church and worship the God who gave him, or her, life.”

John and/or Jane Doe is seeking in excess of $10 million, and a court order granting him, or her, full and complete access to and use of a womb for a period not to exceed nine months.

“I Have A Dream”

This speech was delivered 47 years ago today.

“I Have a Dream”

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Delivered August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

Continue reading

FISA Court Denies Public Access

“In a decision issued late Thursday, a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) judge denied a motion from the American Civil Liberties Union seeking to bring a measure of transparency to the court’s legal review of the Bush administration’s new spying law.”

For years, the Bush administration illegally intercepted the emails and phone calls of millions of Americans. Rather than rein in this abuse of power, lawmakers on Capitol Hill caved in to the administration and gave the National Security Agency (NSA) even more expansive powers to spy on Americans than it had under the illegal warrantless wiretapping program President Bush secretly authorized in 2001.

“On July 10, less than two hours after the president signed the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) into law, the ACLU filed legal papers asking the FISC to ensure that any proceedings it might conduct relating to the scope, meaning or constitutionality of the FAA be open to the public to the extent possible. The ACLU also asked the secret court to allow it to file a brief and participate in oral arguments, to order the government to file a public version of its briefs addressing the law’s constitutionality and to publish any judicial decision that is ultimately issued. The FISC oversees intelligence surveillance, typically operates in secret and hears arguments only from the government.”

The Constitution is the bedrock of our democracy; it guarantees Americans the right to privacy and free speech. Electronic surveillance is highly invasive. By reading our emails and listening to our phone calls the government gets direct access to our thoughts, our feelings, our associates and our political views. Unrestrained and unchecked government surveillance not only intrudes upon Americans’ right to privacy, it also has the dangerous effect of chilling speech and political dissent. The power to spy is one that is easily abused and history is full of examples of what leaders are willing to do when tempted with unchecked power.

Continue reading

Rule by fear or rule by law?

Information Clearinghouse.

By Lewis Seiler & Dan Hamburg

Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of “an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.”

Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.

According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of “all removable aliens” and “potential terrorists.”

Fraud-busters such as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, have complained about these contracts, saying that more taxpayer dollars should not go to taxpayer-gouging Halliburton. But the real question is: What kind of “new programs” require the construction and refurbishment of detention facilities in nearly every state of the union with the capacity to house perhaps millions of people?

Sect. 1042 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies,” gives the executive the power to invoke martial law. For the first time in more than a century, the president is now authorized to use the military in response to “a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, a terrorist attack or any other condition in which the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order.”

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, rammed through Congress just before the 2006 midterm elections, allows for the indefinite imprisonment of anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on a list of “terrorist” organizations, or who speaks out against the government’s policies. The law calls for secret trials for citizens and noncitizens alike.

Keep reading….

This, my friends, comes under the technical heading of “deep doo doo.” Our own government is not just chipping away at our civil rights and protections, they are scooping them away with a back-hoe.

Y’all think when a Democrat gets in the White House everything is going to be A-okay? Sorry, not likely. National security, you know.

Americans, especially those in the slumbering category, take their Constitutional rights for granted: “Hey, I’ve got nothing to hide…” That complacent American fails to realize that he or she won’t be deciding the criteria about what ought and ought not be hidden. Rights so blithely signed away are not nearly so easily reinstated.

What’s it gonna be America? What is it going to take to make us hit the streets en masse, all across this country? Not just in the summer, or on special holidays, but ALL THE TIME?

Things might get “better” on January 20, 2009, but they will certainly not be right.

DOJ John Tanner Resigns as Voting Chief

via: BradBlog

The controversial head of the DoJ Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, John Tanner, finally resigned from his position as of 11am ET this morning…

Today, John Tanner resigned from his position effective immediately as chief of the Civil Rights Division’s voting section. His resignation email, with the subject line “Moving On” was sent out at approximately 11 AM to voting section staff. He said that he will be moving on to the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.

More from TPM Muckraker:

With Tanner, it had seemed like a matter of not if, but when. As we reported late last month, his travel habits had angered attorneys in the voting section, leading to an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

And that was after his comments about the tendency of minorities to “die first” led Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and others to call for his removal. When he went before the House Judiciary Committee in October, he was lambasted for his tendency of “basing your conclusions on stereotypes” (like, say, claiming that African-Americans have IDs more than whites because they’re always going to cash-checking businesses).

But most of all, Tanner’s reign is notable for his collusion with the political appointees who oversaw the section, an ongoing effort to reverse the Civil Rights Division’s traditional role in protecting minority voters, particularly African-Americans, into one of aiding thinly disguised vote suppression measures (most infamously Georgia’s voter ID law). It was an effort that some career DoJ attorneys later described as “institutional sabotage.”

I will hold my enthusiasm until I see who they replace him with..