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San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Republican Plank # 4: Constitutional Hypocrisy On Display

The Republican platform makes a huge deal about how they are the party of the Constitution.  Here is a part of what they profess to believe:
"We reaffirm the Constitution’s fundamental principles: limited government, separation of powers, individual liberty, and the rule of law. We denounce bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice, and religious intolerance. Therefore, we oppose discrimination based on race, sex, religion, creed, disability, or national origin and support statutes to end such discrimination. As the Party of Abraham Lincoln, we must continue to foster solutions to America’s difficult challenges when it comes to race relations today."
The Republicans profess to support limited government yet they make no substantive efforts to reduce the size and scope of government whatsoever.  As we have seen in previous posts, the Republicans oftentimes expand the size of the federal government more than the Democrats, especially when they are fighting their wars of imperial expansion.  Fiddling around with million dollar government spending projects does not get to the heart of the issue.  Federal entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare are bankrupting the country.  No Republican ever has, or ever will in my belief, propose the abolition of those programs.  If the Republicans really want to realize their stated goal of limited government they should eliminate all programs, bureaus and laws that do anything besides provide for defense of the homeland and judicial services for the citizens of the Socialist Democracy of Amerika.  In other words, the Republicans should become Libertarians.  There is a reason Republicans are not Libertarians and that reason is that they are socialists, just like the Democrats.  Unlike the Democrats, however, the Republicans pretend to be proponents of the Constitution and the free market.  That makes them hypocrites also.
Republicans love to wax eloquent about their concept of the "rule of law."  The rule of law that they worship is little more than an amalgam of an enormous body of rules, regulations and laws, many of which contradict each other and that frequently have nothing to do with morality.  The Republican's war on drugs is a case in point.  It is an abject failure.  It has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and destroyed millions of lives.  Yet Republicans persist in their mistaken belief that it is the business of the federal government to create laws about the drugs the citizens of this land choose to use.  Where, I wonder, is that to be found in their precious Constitution?
Just like the Democrats, the Republicans drag out their profession of faith in the right of the federal government to create privileged classes.  Despite the fact that it is diametrically opposed to the Constitution, the Republicans believe that certain members of various racial, sexual, religious, and ethnic sects have the right to special government privileges that the rest of us do not enjoy.  They proudly proclaim their allegiance to the "Party of Abraham Lincoln" with apparent ignorance of Lincoln's position on the noble black man.  Go here for the truth about Lincoln's opinion about blacks.
The Republican profession of faith in individual liberty is tough to swallow in light of the Patriot Act they drafted, enacted and continue to renew and enforce.  The Republicans profess their belief in the Fourth Amendment when they write, "Affirming the Fourth Amendment 'right of the people to be secure in their houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,' we call for strict limitations on the use of aerial surveillance on U.S. soil, with the exception of patrolling our national borders for illegal entry and activity. We oppose any attempts by government to require surveillance devices in our daily lives, including tracking devices in motor vehicles."  The plank about the Fourth Amendment is quite bizarre.  By singling out aerial surveillance as their prime example of a potential threat to our right to be free of government surveillance, the Republicans make a point that nobody is contesting.  I have never heard of anyone being followed around by a government airplane or helicopter.  The problem we have in this country is the total abolition of the Fourth Amendment when it comes to our right to be secure in our persons, possessions and papers.  I have written about this before here.
The Patriot Act is the most egregious recent example of the abolition of the Fourth Amendment by the hands of the Republicans.  It was thrown together after the events of 9/11 to give the federal government sweeping powers to spy on the citizens of this country and effectively abolish all Fourth Amendment rights of the citizenry.  According to this website, "The USA PATRIOT Act passed the Senate by a vote of 98 to 1.  Russ Feingold (D-WI), a strong civil libertarian who was unfortunately defeated in the 2010 election, was the sole opponent. The bill passed the House by a vote of 357 to 66.  Of the 66 constitutional defenders, 62 were Democrats, 3 were Republicans, and 1 was an Independent. Five of them--Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Mark Udall, and Tom Udall--now serve in the Senate."  Where was the Republican opposition to a clearly unconstitutional new body of law?  It was nonexistent.
Maybe you believe I overstate the case when I assert that the Patriot Act eviscerates the Fourth Amendment and makes a mockery of anyone who supports it and also professes to be a constitutionalist.  Allow me to make my case with a series of quotations from my own blog:
  • From January 17, 2012:  The "Financial Crimes Enforcement Network" (FinCEN) is a branch of the federal government created by the Patriot Act designed to greatly expand the scope of government surveillance of your financial transactions.  The Federal government had been tracking your banking transactions for years prior to the establishment of FinCEN.  Banks are required to disclose any transactions involving cash in excess of $10,000.  Under the Patriot Act a wide variety of other financial transactions became subject to government scrutiny.  All financial institutions are required, under penalty of law, to report, in addition to large cash transactions, any transactions involving foreign banks or financial institutions as well as anything deemed "suspicious" under the terms of the Patriot Act.  All reports are sent to the FBI for processing. Failure on the part of a financial institution to comply with the terms of the Patriot Act are severe.  The FinCen website states that "the unauthorized disclosure of an information request or the content of a request is subject to a criminal fine of up to $250,000 and a term of imprisonment of up to five years." I just found a copy of the Annual Report of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.  On page 8 of that report they boast that they received in excess of 17 million bank secrecy act filings in 2011.  Like most branches of government, FinCEN has no way to measure success.  So, FinCEN has decided that the greater the number of filings, the more they are accomplishing their stated goal of combating the war on terror. Now here is where it gets interesting.  The FBI, where these reports are sent, employs 35,704 people.  Of those 35,704 employees, 13,864 are agents.  If every agent at the FBI worked exclusively on bank secrecy act filings each agent would be responsible for 1226 reports per year.  Assuming that each agent works 2000 hours per year, each agent would be required to complete an investigation on each filing every one hour and thirty eight minutes.  Anybody believe that is getting done? Let's assume that the FBI investigates none of the currency transaction reports and only examines the suspicious activity reports.  After all, that is where terrorist activities are most likely to be found.  Each agent would now be responsible for 104 separate investigations per year.  Assuming that each agent works 250 days per year this works out to roughly one investigation every two and a half days.  Does anybody believe that even a tiny percentage of these filings are being checked out?  Is it not immediately obvious that, despite the fact financial institutions are criminally liable for not submitting these reports, the FBI is investigating almost none of them?  The FBI should imprison themselves for this gross violation of the Patriot Act. Two sidelights of interest:  1)  If each filing was for a different citizen of this country (probably not the case), it would follow that one out of every 19 citizens of the US had a secret report about their finances filed with the government in 2011 and, 2) As far as I am aware, no arrests for terrorist activity have come out of any of the 17 million plus filings in 2011.  If 17 million filings leads to no arrests for terrorism, maybe the government is wasting its time and our money. 
  • From August 24, 2012:   The Patriot Act was passed in 2001, prior to Republican control.  The Patriot Act is the worst piece of legislation to be passed in this country since the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) in 1933.  Under the terms of the NIRA the federal government effectively socialized all of American industry.  It was a part of FDR's New Deal.  The Supreme Court had the constitutional courage to nullify the entire thing in 1935.  Republican control of the House, Senate and Presidency provided the perfect opportunity to nullify the Patriot Act.  The Patriot Act is patently unconstitutional.  It eviscerates due process.  It suspends habeus corpus.  It grants police state powers to the government in actions taken against its own citizens.  It provides for secret searches, secret evidence, secret hearings and secret trials against US citizens accused of terrorist activities.  In a word, it destroys the Constitution.  What did the Republicans do to stop this egregious expansion of government power?  Nothing.  In fact, they renewed it.  Thanks, Republicans.
  • From June 5, 2013:   National Security Letters are unconstitutional by definition.  They were created by the patently unconstitutional Patriot Act.  They are sent by the FBI to profit seeking companies for the expressed purpose of gathering intelligence information about the company's customers on behalf of the federal government.  By definition they invade the "persons and papers" of citizens of the SDA without the prior establishment of probable cause that a criminal act has taken place.  By definition they are issued without "judicial review".  That is just a fancy way of saying that they are issued without a warrant which is, of course, a direct violation of the 4th Amendment.  When a citizen of the SDA is being secretly investigated by the FBI it is illegal for the profit seeking company to inform the law abiding citizen that his papers and affairs are being scrutinized by these agents of espionage.  That, of course, is a direct violation of the 1st Amendment rights of the profit seeking corporation.  Everything about a National Security Letter is wrong, illegal, unconstitutional and immoral.  What I find absolutely amazing about this case is the fact that the violations of the 4th Amendment involved here are not even mentioned.  Apparently nobody involved in this case has the slightest clue that the 4th Amendment has been violated.  The entire cases revolves around the 1st Amendment and the prohibition against allowing the company that is being forced to turn over information about its customers to the FBI to inform its customers that they are being spied upon by their own government.   Although the 1st Amendment violation is egregious, it pales in comparison to the violation of the 4th Amendment that is taking place.  We have become so desensitized to the violation of our right to privacy that we are incapable of seeing it when it takes place right under our nose.  When a nation of sheeple gets to this point it is inevitable that government tyranny is right around the corner.  Expect secret arrests, secret trials and secret applications of punishment upon the citizens of this country in the near future.  Don't be surprised if your neighbor just disappears.  Most of all, do not answer your door when you hear a knock late in the night.  
  • From May 28, 2015:   The Patriot Act impacted investment brokers by making them subject to the provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act.  As a result of the Patriot Act all brokers were suddenly made responsible for turning over private information about their clients to the government at any time and without probable cause.  Any broker who refuses to provide the desired information can and will be fined and imprisoned for a violation of the Patriot Act.  The net result is that all information collected by your broker about your personal financial situation is available to the various government agencies (NSA, FBI, CIA, TSA, HS, etc) at their whim.  To make matters worse, the poor broker is also forbidden from telling you that you are being subjected to an unconstitutional and immoral investigation by your own government.  If he does tell you about the fact that you are being spied upon he will be fined and imprisoned.  What is a broker to do?
  • From June 6, 2013:  The Patriot Act illegally and immorally dissolved the 4th Amendment and permitted the NSA, the FBI and all of the other alphabet soup "national security" organizations to spy upon our daily activities without the prior issuance of a warrant or the establishment of probable cause.  The one limitation put upon those who immorally operate under the Patriot Act was that they had to at least pretend that the activities they were spying upon were somehow related to "terrorist" activities.  So when the FBI monitors the activity in my checking account they would do so under the guise of watching me for money laundering because they suspect I am in cahoots with the imaginary terrorists they are fighting.  This new behavior strips away the pretensions of the Patriot Act.  No longer do the spooks have to at least pretend that they believe we are terrorists.  They can now spy upon us for no good reason whatsoever.
  • From July 17, 2013:   The Fourth Amendment was lost long ago.  This amendment gives you the right to be secure in your person, possessions and papers.  This right was lost in 1970 with the creation of the Bank Secrecy Act.  That act permitted government agents to secretly spy upon your bank accounts.  The act also made de facto government spies out of all bank employees as they were required to provide information to the feds about your personal and, what had been previously private, financial transactions.  The Patriot Act further expanded the alleged legality of government spying upon its own citizens.  The most recent revelations about government spying upon SDA citizens (see 6-5-13 and 6-6-13) is only the logical and rational expansion of government power and tyranny.  How do the citizens of this land react to the fact that their own government has set aside the protections of the Fourth Amendment and now regularly spies on their every deed?  Quinnipiac University conducted a poll from June 28th to July 8th in which they asked SDA citizens what they believed about government spying.  The results were reported in the July 11th Denver Post.   When asked "what concerns you more about the government's anti-terrorism policies, that they have gone too far in restricting the average person's civil liberties or that they have not gone far enough to adequately protect the country?"  an astounding 40% declared that the federal government has not gone far enough in its efforts to spy on SDA citizens.  An additional 15% said they thought present policies were just fine.  In other words, a clear majority of 55% of the citizens of the SDA believe that present Fourth Amendment violating policies are just dandy. 
Had enough?  Me too.  The Republicans claim to be defenders of the Constitution.  They are liars and hypocrites and they need to repent of their lies and hypocrisy.

Note to regular readers:  I am heading to the South San Juan wilderness in search of several elusive peaks.  I will return to this blog on August 29th.  While I am gone you might want to read the Democrat and Republican platforms for yourselves.  I believe you will see that what I have written in the past nine posts is right on the mark.  

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