Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Wiping out Democracy (in the USA)

The high drama surrounding the Democratic walk-out during the last Texas legislative session goes on, with action splitting straight down party lines. This whole affair is about the abuse of power. My hope is that several indictments come out of this, though that is fairly unlikely, especially when it comes to the role played by US Rep. Tom Delay. He is ultimately responsible for the entire affair. His power play in the name of his party initiated the entire chain of events.

And, if all that wasn't ridiculous enough, the Texas legislature passed laws forcing children to take a moment of silence and to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day and allowing Texans to play Powerball while not acting on a proposal that would save lives by banning the use of cell phones while driving.

In Iraq, the hunt for weapons of mass destruction goes on. The lack of any credible find not only points toward hype as the major component of public justification for the war but also validates the viewpoint that Bush's personal agendas may have played a significant role in his decision to press forward. That said, it may be that the true and best benefit of the war may be yet to come and has not been readily discussed, i.e., that it may have become the catalyst for finally settling the Israeli/Palestinian struggle in the Middle East. No one wants an American invasion of Palestine or the region surrounding it, and it is now evident that American resolve and capabilities are stronger than once thought. Subsequent events, too, have demonstrated the Al Queda and perhaps terrorist action in general is more of a threat to existing Arab regimes than once thought. Taken altogether, these things may be taking us down the road to peace in that region. To ensure it happens, American must stay involved and work to further interests on both sides of the Palestinian issue.

Did you know that the US government is in the business of banning books? I didn't, at least until I stumbled on that fact last night during an Internet search. The particular book that caught my interest and that of the US government's was "The Federal Mafia" by Irwin Schiff. Mr. Schiff maintains that current US law does not authorize the collection of income taxes and was selling a book via the Internet that made the case for his stance. The government has blocked Mr. Schiff from selling his book by reclassifying it as a "scam". How this one is escaping First Amendment protection eludes me. I don't believe the government has the right to ban any book, no matter what the content. Isn't that exactly what the First Amendment was designed to protect ?

Americans have a duty to be concerned about where the country is and the private rights to free speech and thought that are disappearing. We are doing a much better job at disintegrating our own personal freedoms in the names of security, patriotism, and technology than any terrorist force could hope to achieve. Look at all these things that have happened and are happening around the country:

The passage of the Patriot Act which allows the government to perform surveillance on any person using a library's computer without their knowledge;

The establishment of a database into which every known fact about any citizen can be compiled (like in the Terrorist Information Awareness program--see this URL: http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,110990,00.asp);

The lack of due process involved with many processes conducted by the Transportation Security Administration;

The linkage of rights and privileges to a government perception about who your are or what activities you may be involved in;

The movement toward having to prove innocence vice having to prove guilt that many of these changes represent;

The suppression of opposition and free and open debate with respect to the war in Iraq, anything that opposes the current administration, or U.S. culpability in any event, including and especially relating to 9/11;

...and that's just the beginning.

Freedom rarely disappears in one grand stroke but in the slow melting away of personal rights.