What is a Fusion Center, and why should I worry?

Free Talk Live Catherine Bleish talks about how the Feds have purchased the local police using grants.

A quick summery of Fusion Centers and the dangers they pose to civil liberties.

Bleish: This (fusion centers) is a back-door way that your local and state law enforcements are being both federalized and militarized. So now you have the Department of Homeland Security coming in sticking their fingers into your city police departments, into your state highway patrol. And it is getting individuals who are meant to keep the peace, it’s changing their focus to defending the homeland and the war on terror.

We visited the Phoenix fusion center; they actually said, ‘If you are planning a rally or an event in Phoenix or in Arizona they will run your name through the fusion centers databases with no criminal predicate,’ no reason whatsoever, just to check.

This may seem as not much to worry about, but imagine there were background checks on any of the other first amendment rights. How would you feel if going to a house of worship, posting an opinion online, or contacting an elected representative resulted in a background check?

When protected rights are considered suspicious terrorist activities, it’s time to start worrying.

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Show Me ALL Your Papers!

Planning Racial Profiling Incidents In Arizona

I’m glad to see Americans concerned about police stopping people and asking to see their papers. Unfortunately, a lot of the debate has centered around the racial aspects of the Arizona’s immigration enforcement rather than the civil liberties violations.

Not that there isn’t a racial aspect to the Arizona law. If the subject was only about the civil liberty aspects, however, maybe people would see broader implication: People have to be prepared to prove to the police they are not breaking the law.

There have been several cash seizures by police where people have the option of forfeiting their cash or be arrested for money-laundering. Your money can be arrested if you are unable to prove it was obtained legally.

States that allow concealed firearms require you to carry the registration. Again, papers are needed to prove you are allowed to conduct a legal activity, rather than assuming a constitutionally protected right to defend yourself.

The idea of a needing to carry papers to prove you are not doing anything illegal is not new–however, the idea we shouldn’t be considered guilty unless we can prove innocence is new to some.

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Good Job ‘Supporting’ the Constitution Hare

“I don’t worry about the Constitution on this, to be honest.”

Congressman John Boccieri of Ohio being questioned about the health care law.

Off-camera: Where in the Constitution…

Rep. Hare: I don’t worry about the Constitution on this, to be honest.

Off-camera: [Laughter.] Jackpot, brother.

Rep. Hare: What I care more about — I care more about the people that are dying every day that don’t have health insurance.

Off-camera: You care more about that than the U.S. Constitution that you swore to uphold!

Rep. Hare: I believe that it says we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now you tell me…

Off-camera: That’s the Declaration of Independence.

Rep. Hare: It doesn’t matter to me. Either one…

[Lots of childish sniping.]

Off-camera: Where in the Constitution does it give you the authority to…

Rep. Hare: I don’t know. I don’t know.

Off-camera: That’s what I thought.

Later on Phil Hare responded to the video.

”I support the constitution, I served in the military for six years. I don’t need anybody including Mr. Schilling and his political crew telling me I don’t believe in the Constitution. I’m proud of my vote I cast. Millions of people now will have healthcare that never would have had it before and if they want to play ‘gotcha stuff” on whether I support the Constitution, that’s shameful, because I do”

The congressman is basically trying to make the argument that the morality of saving lives trumps all other concerns. In short, morality trumps legality. He supports the Constitution–as long as it is in keeping with his own moral views. Like so many other politicians, Hare fails to see the danger in this line of reasoning.

The problem with Phil Hare’s statements is not the constitutionality or morality of health care; it’s the assertion that question of constitutionality is irrelevant and meaningless.  The rule congressman Hare follows here is that his own moral compass supersedes the Constitution. He fails to see the contradiction in cases where his morality may conflict with the document that gives his authority legitimacy.

The Constitution is legal basis for congress, the federal government and the health care law itself. If the legal authority of the Constitution is irrelevant, that in turn makes the authority of  congress and any laws passed by congress irrelevant.

Update: Hey, you’re totally misreading what I said about the Constitution

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Morality = Constitutionality?

From reading arguments about the constitutionality of health care reform, I’ve come to the conclusion that people equate morality with constitutionality. The legal arguments they make are really justifications following their own moral compass. When someone says they believe something is unconstitutional, often they mean immoral.

I don’t mean this as a criticism, but perhaps an insight into explaining what people accept or believe to be constitutional or unconstitutional. Often it seems to me that people cherry-pick what they believe is unconstitutional, and I scratch my head trying to figure out the underlying dynamic in their decision process.

Weigh these three issues separately, and ask yourself which ones are constitutional or unconstitutional.

  • Forced to buy health care insurance, or pay a fine, or go to jail.
  • Forced to buy firearms or pay a fine.
  • Forced to buy electricity or move out of your home. (An Arizona woman lived in her car after her home was condemned for lack of electricity.)
  • Forced to buy clothes to wear in public, pay a fine, or go to jail.

My point is it’s rare when someone see all these as equally constitutional or unconstitutional.  A lot of the thought process of deciding the constitutionality of something is based upon a personal moral compass. Most people would say its constitutional to force people to buy clothes, but would probably object to being forced to buy at least one of the other items on the list.

These are just examples of equating moral views with constitutionality. It doesn’t mean there aren’t other valid reasons to find health care reform constitutional/unconstitutional, or that people are incapable of awareness of their own moral objections.

Listening to the debate on health care using constitutional grounds is more akin to playing the board game Monopoly. We might just as well be arguing the house rules for what happens when you land on “free parking,” because the official rules become irrelevant when arguing your own moral values. It might be less confusing if the core moral value behind the positions were debated as opposed to trying to make legal arguments.

I’m not a constitutional scholar and wouldn’t pretend to be able to argue these issues constitutionality. I’m just as guilty in wanting the constitution to match my own morality. My own moral compass wants the constitution to protect the minority from having to buy what the majority is selling, even if it’s not specifically spelled out in the constitution.

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Manners Should not be an Issue of Law

Supreme Court Considers Westboro Baptist Church Protest Of Military Funerals


Some people try to make a distinction between free speech and hurtful speech. It’s still a matter of popular speech vs. unpopular speech, because the majority are the ones deciding if speech is hateful or not. This is clearly what happened in states where the Westboro Baptist Church was banned from protesting at funerals, while the majority was free to say hurtful things about the Westboro Church.

Unpopular speech is what the first amendment is there to protect, because popular speech is self-protecting. Imagine if DC ever tried to ban something as popular as the Bible, there would be a heavily armed group of millions on their steps the next day.

The less popular a view is, the more likely it is someone will try (and succeed) in having it banned. The core moral value of free speech protection is in protecting speech the majority finds repugnant. For free speech to have any real value, it has to include unpopular speech.

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Can’t we have Freedom of Politics?

I know science is a method of study, but to me the term “Political Science” is an oxymoron just as “Christian Science” is an oxymoron. Political views are based upon personal morality; there is no science in politics. Nothing makes the belief in a democratic republic an absolute fact; the only fact is a form of government can match personal beliefs. I believe in freedom and democracy because they are in line with my own ethics.

It is easy to find volumes of writing supporting my belief in democracy, but nothing turns the belief ino fact. There are strong arguments to be made for many political views, but at their core, all political systems are a solely a matter of belief. In America, it is not uncommon to hear someone refer to the founding fathers as types of apostles and the US Constitution as the Bible.

What if we were all forced to choose between only two religions? And yes, by “all” I mean even the atheists would have to pick a side. What if all the religious beliefs were forced into two camps, the same way political beliefs are? Undoubtedly we’d see people wandering back and forth between the groups, depending on the hot issue at the moment.

I don’t know enough about them all to figure out which groups would kinda get along, so I have randomly thrown some religious traditions together:

Option 1–Methodist, Presbyterian, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Vaishnavist, Islamist, and Wiccans

Option 2–Catholic, Lutheran, Atheists, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Jewish, and Jehovah’s Witnesses

Each would try to convert you to join their faith with the same scare tactics politicians use. The Methodist, Presbyterian, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Vaishnavist, Islamist, Wiccans would try to convince you to join them, because if the Catholic, Lutheran, Atheists, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witnesses get their way, Satan (or similar demonic figure) will rule the earth.

The two groups would have leaders that artfully explain why theirs is the one true faith, while simultaneously pointing out the sheer evil and foolishness of the opposing faith.

I’m sure we’d also hear the worn out defense mechanisms kicking in when an obvious hole in philosophy is pointed out. When the Catholic, Lutheran, Atheists, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Jewish, and Jehovah’s Witnesses are cornered with “You can’t believe in God and no God at the same time,” I’m sure the response would be, “Well, at least we aren’t as crazy as the Methodist, Presbyterian, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Vaishnavist, Islamist, and Wiccans–they worship God and Goddesses and Vishnu.”

Leaders would come in two varieties, similar to the leaders in the Democratic and Republican parties. You’d have the totally full-of-BS leaders that know the views held by their side are incongruent, but are adroit enough at spin to make it sound like one cohesive religion. The other variety of leader would be totally nuts, because they’ve somehow managed to hold all the conflicting views in their head without any cognitive dissonance.

There would be some members of these religions that stick to a set of congruent beliefs of their own, but they would be the outcasts for being heretics–AKA wing nuts, moon bats, tinfoil-hat-wearers.

I’ve heard Democrats poke fun at fundamentalist Christians, and then Republicans chuckle at new age religions. What strikes me funny is the religions they make fun of are more congruent in their own views and values than they themselves are with the views of their choosen political party.

There really is no political freedom in America when the final choice comes down to Democrat or Republican. There is a choice, but it is hardly a free choice when the choice is “Pick the one that sounds the least insane.” We have freedom of religion in America, so why can’t we have freedom of politics?

photo credit: Stuck in Customs

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Paris Hilton 2012

Donofrio v. Wells – Buried in the US Presidential 2008 elections, there was a case challenging the ballot process. The Supreme Court declined without comment to hear the Donofrio v. Wells case. The case (PDF) challenged Senator John McCain and then Senator Barrack Obama’s eligibility to hold the office, because there is no law that you have to prove US citizenship to get on the ballot. One of the candidates on the same ballot was Socialist Workers Party candidate, Roger Calero. Roger Calero has never hidden that he was born in Nicaragua.

The media did some reporting on the case but failed to mention Roger Calero was not a US citizen. Example – this Washing Post article mentions Roger Calero, but the article is focused on the politics that motivated the case and not the merits of the case.

Qualifications for President of the United Sates • 35 years old or older • Must be a natural-born U.S. citizen • Must have lived in the United States for fourteen years.

This case pointed out that anybody could get on the ballot. Here is Paris Hilton weighing in on politics during election. Paris Hilton isn’t old enough to run for President, but there is nothing to prevent Paris from getting on the ballot.


Worst case scenario would be after being elected President, it is discovered someone didn’t meet one of the three qualifications. If the President had signed bills into law would the laws be null and void? It would be utter chaos in the Congress; their fights would make South Korea brawls look like folk dances.


Picture John Boehner stabbing Nancy Pelosi with a US flag pole–that’s how bad it could get.

Some people say the qualifications are now irrelevant and useless so there is no point enforcing them. The people who wrote the US Constitution seem paranoid from our perspective two centuries later because they suffered from a host of abuses. Just because it seems paranoid now doesn’t mean its not a valid concern.

Picture 2012 rolling around and Paris Hilton runs on a 3rd party against Obama and Palin(all three are celebrities; it could happen). Hilton wins the “throw the bums out vote.” The Electoral College could refuse to vote in Paris Hilton, but I have to wonder if the members of congress would refute the will of the people and uphold the constitutional requirements.

Paris Hilton 2012 – isn’t that worth being paranoid about?

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Healthcare Debate – Abortion and Banning High-Heeled Shoes

The debate over abortion being covered under healthcare reform brought to mind the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. The act required states to legislate the age of 21 years as a minimum age for purchasing and publicly possessing alcoholic beverages. If a state did not enforce the minimum age, the state would be subjected to a ten percent decrease in its annual federal highway funds.

While it wasn’t called prohibition for citizens under the age of 21, for all intents and purposes it was prohibition. When it came to equal rights for those 18 – 20 vs. billions of dollars, billions of dollars won. Rather than go through the trouble of amending the US Constitution (as the 18th amendment did to prohibit alcohol) congress took a shortcut by withholding highway funds for states that didn’t change their laws.

One of the big sticking points on healthcare reform is funding for abortions. The debate is cause for alarm about those “unforeseen” consequences of legislature, because the door opens for a host of social issues to drawn into funding for healthcare.

The objection for funding abortions is based upon moral values and fairness values. Bringing either moral or fairness issues into the debate will be the new political battleground for decades.

Here are some future moral and fairness values for debate. Should people be denied health care coverage or be charged a higher rate for any of the following?

Sexual promiscuity – should others have to pay for the consequences of promiscuity?

Not married –single people live shorter lives so there is probably a correlation to higher health costs.

Sports – football, cheerleading or any sport that could result in an injury costs more.

Smoking, being overweight, unprotected sex, not exercising, and drinking alcohol costs more.

Any action only a few people engage in could easily be added to the list if an unnecessary risk is vilified loudly enough.

None of these items listed would be made illegal; as in the congress didn’t make it illegal for those under 21 to drink alcohol; congress made it so states couldn’t afford to keep it legal. It’s not farfetched to believe an individual’s funding for healthcare could be cut off or be forced to pay more for each category they fall into. Of course you’ll still be free to pursue the activities listed above–if you are wealthy enough.

Some of the items on this list might seem silly at the moment. Keep in mind the political pendulum swings back and forth. Four or eight years from now, I can foresee a campaign speech calling for health insurance tax for bars because alcohol is a health risk and driving home from a bar puts others’ health at risk. Bars also promote the spread of STDs, so it only makes sense to tax them for enabling sex. The bar tax would be followed by the sporting arena tax….and on and on.

We could all turn into our neighbor’s unnecessary health insurance risk. Granted there are a few people who take no risks or have any vices and will benefit from this, but I’ll bet they aren’t much fun to be around.

Enjoy high-heeled shoes while you can because I’m tired of paying for your dangerous lifestyle.

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A Second Civil War in America this Winter?

Interesting point in the video; if its possible to have a revolution in the US. If one percent of the population of the US (3 million people) were to join together they would be a larger force than all the branches of the military combined.

They are calling for a revolution over at the Democratic Underground and Free Republic.

If the left and the right fight a civil war…my bet is the right will win because they’ll have more firepower.

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Bible Reading Removed From Town’s Holiday Celebrations


The PC rules seem to say its OK to voice a belief on public property as long as that belief isn’t backed by a religious organization.

If a religious view is being voiced on public property there is the risk of a lawsuit.

Why has the separation of church and state has turned into denial of the existence of religion?

Separation of church and state was never meant to be a black marker to strike out beliefs we don’t agree with.

This case isn’t forcing religion on others any more that holding an environmental meeting and quoting Al Gore is forcing Gaia worship.

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