Archive for the ‘U. S. Constitution’ Category

Privacy in the Modern Age, Part 1

PrivacyInTheModernAge_1   <– PDF

Introduction

The Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This particular Amendment was to ensure that one abuse, among others, that had been inflicted the colonists by the British government could not be repeated under the Constitution: the infamous ‘writ of assistance’.  The historian John Fiske [1] gives a summary:

“In 1761, it was decided to enforce the Navigation Act, and one of the revenue officers at Boston applied to the superior court for a “writ of assistance”, or general search warrant, to enable him to enter private houses and search for smuggled goods, but without specifying either houses or goods.  Such general warrants had been allowed by a statute of the bad reign of Charles II, and a statute of William III, in general terms, had been granted to revenue officers in America like powers to those they possessed in England.  But James Otis showed that the issue of such writs was contrary to the whole spirit of the British constitution.  To issue such universal warrants allowing the menials of the custom-house, on mere suspicion, and perhaps from motives of personal enmity, to invade the home of any citizen, without being held responsible for any rudeness they might commit there, – such he said, was ‘a kind of power, the exercise of which cost one king of England his head and another his throne;’ and he plainly declared that even an act of Parliament which should sanction so gross an infringement of the immemorial rights of Englishmen would be treated as null and void.”

James Otis was a Boston lawyer, and one of the principal proponents of independence in the 1760’s.  He was in declining mental health and suffered permanent injury in 1769 after being severely beaten by a British customs officer.  However, he was able to sneak out of his house and fought against the British in the Battle of Bunker Hill (17 Jun 1775), escaping afterwards back to his house.

The Fourth Amendment requires any agent of the government to apply for a warrant, to be sworn under oath before a judge, describing what is to be searched and what evidence they have already obtained that would justify such a search.  It has always been a feature of American justice, at least at the local level, with two exceptions: it never applied to slaves, and it did not apply to free black people in the South during the Jim Crow era (1890’s to about the 1940’s).  The Democratic Party was an advocate for slavery and later was responsible for Jim Crow.

But we now have three problems not contemplated by the authors of the Constitution.  First is the growth of electronic technology; secondly, the power of corporations that control the electronics technology; and third, the union of those corporations and the government.  At this point in our history, the average American, unless he practices good electronic security, has virtually no privacy at all.  The following essays will describe these risks, and what you, the average American, can do to protect your privacy in the digital environment that we now wallow in.

But before we get to details, let’s first establish how the Fourth Amendment should be interpreted, and by extension, how we should think of individual privacy.  To me it means different things in the three cases I’ve mentioned.  Toward the government alone (case 1) it means, “My affairs are none of your business unless you have prior evidence that justifies investigation.”  Toward corporations, and the cooperation between corporations and the government (cases 2 and 3) it means, “My affairs are none of your business.”

There is one cardinal rule that we should remember in regard to privacy in the electronic environment: if a violation of your privacy is possible, it is being done unless the government and corporations prove under oath that it is not.  Even then, take their claims with a grain of salt.

Reference

[1] John Fiske, John Fiske’s Historical Writings, NY: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1896, Vol. 10, p. 14.  It is the same as Fiske’s original The American Revolution, 1891, Vol. 1, p. 14.

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Posted in Bill of Rights, fourth amendment, government powers, U. S. Constitution, writ of assistance | No Comments »

The Biden Administration

The Biden Administration   <– PDF

Let us first take stock of where we are politically in America.

  1. We have endured a biological attack by China for the past 11 months in the form of the Wuhan virus. Fortunately we had President Donald “America First” Trump in office who was able to organize the government bureaucrats and the smart people in the research community to develop a vaccine in record time, something that very few people thought was possible, given the standard interval is about five years. The media claimed he was a fool to even try it.
  2. All summer long, Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA led “mostly peaceful protests”, mostly involving burning down police stations, federal courthouses, and many businesses, while the local police stood by and the Democratic leadership endorsed, encouraged, and applauded these street armies. The local politicians only allowed the police to arrest a handful of them, and few were prosecuted. The media made the appropriate excuses for these Marxist mobs.
  3. The governments of many states, mostly led by Democrats, decided to use the Wuhan virus to shut down their local economies, ruining many businesses and putting many out of work. At first it was to “bend the curve” of infections, but it soon became a test of how much tyranny the public is willing to put up with. The real goal, as always, was to somehow make the federal administration look bad.  The media made the appropriate accusations against Mr. Trump.
  4. The Democrat Party abused the judicial system during the summer of 2020, using the Wuhan virus as an excuse to obtain decrees on voting procedures that superseded the powers of the State legislatures. This happens to be unconstitutional, since Article 2 of the Constitution clearly states that only a State legislature can enact electoral laws. The objective, as we saw in November 2020, was to deluge the electoral system with fraudulent mail-in ballots that could not be verified.  That is how the Democrats got Joe “Wimpy” Biden elected President.  The media defended the unconstitutional activities of the judicial activists who ignored the Constitution.
  5. A great many affidavits attesting to electoral fraud were received and Republicans brought them to both state and federal courts, but all of those challenges were rejected on procedural grounds. No evidence was ever examined by any of the courts (as far as I know). The Republican lawyers made a huge error in not demanding that all the evidence be preserved for future examination, including the ballots, signature cards, voter rolls, and time-tagged tallies in the voting machines.  It is tantamount to a baseball batter bragging that he will hit a grand slam on the first pitch, without bothering to check if there are any guys on base.  That error allowed the Democrats to destroy all the evidence; now it is impossible to prove the veracity of the affidavits; we will never know how much fraud there was.  We now have six or seven States that run Presidential elections the way local elections are run in Chicago and Philadelphia.  The media demonized anyone who believed that something was not right.
  6. A rally was held on 6 Jan 2021, in which Mr. Trump listed the various ways in which the election results were questionable, and then encouraged the attendees to peacefully protest in front of Congress. Congress was at that time certifying Mr. Biden’s election. But ANTIFA members and a handful of not-too-bright Trump supporters engaged in a BLM/ANTIFA-style mostly peaceful protest at the Capitol, involving breaking windows, smashing down doors, and occupying Congressional offices.  A total of five people died: a police officer from head injuries, a protester from gunshots, and three others of “medical complications”.  The electoral balloting had to be stopped, and the members of Congress had to be led to a safe place until the Capitol police could remove the retards.  Now here is an important insight: all summer long, the Democrats in Congress praised the actions of the “mostly peaceful protestors” around the country who invaded people’s places of business, robbed them, and burned them to the ground.  Millions of Americans were inconvenienced for months by the BLM/ANTIFA mostly peaceful protests.  But, when the same tactics were employed against their (Congress’) place of business, inconveniencing them for a few hours, it’s an “insurrection”.  Poor babies; but I doubt they will get much sympathy.  The media chanted “Trump led a coup, Trump supporters are guilty of sedition and insurrection”, right on cue.
  7. The tech giants Amazon (led by Jeff “I own that too” Bezos), Google (led by Sundar Pichai), Facebook (led by Mark “Junior High” Zuckerberg), Instagram (owned by Facebook), YouTube (owned by Google), and Twitter (led by Jack Dorsey) have banned most conservatives (defined as anyone who is not a card-carrying Democrat) from their platforms on the grounds that conservatives are a general menace to society. They even managed to put PARLER (a competitor to Twitter) out of business. The media approved of the suppression of free speech.
  8. Today the Democrats impeached Mr. Trump for “inciting a riot”, despite there not being a single sentence in his speech that called for one. Maybe he should have called for a mostly peaceful protest. The media will brag how they won the revolution.

So, to summarize, as is typical in revolutions:

  1. Pressure from below by the BLM and ANTIFA street armies.
  2. Pressure from above by the suppression of speech by the tech monopolies, doing indirectly what the government cannot do directly — on behalf of the Democrats.

That is where we are.  What happens when Mr. Joe “Wimpy” Biden takes office on 20 Jan 2021?  The Democrats will take the opportunity to suppress the Constitution specifically and the rule of law in general; take away as many civil rights as possible; promote the interests of their favorites; demonize and ridicule their enemies (real and imagined); and attempt to acquire absolute power over everyone’s life.   The Democratic Party consists of vengeful, implacable, vindictive, hateful, hypocritical, arrogant know-it-alls, just like the “cool kids” back in junior high school.  Watch out: people who have never graduated from junior high at an emotional level will now be running the country.  How do we know Mr. Biden is a wimp?  The same way as in junior high: the kid who always swaggered around, talking tough, but scared to death of being challenged to prove it.  Unfortunately, as in junior high, the big talk may be enough to ward off any common sense ideas.

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Real World Graduation, Question 91: Legal Exemptions

RealWorldGraduation_Question_91_Legal_Exemptions   <– PDF

A Bill was introduced in House of Representatives during the 111th Congress (2009-2010) called H. R. 45 (6 Jan 2009), named “The Blair Holt’s Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009”. The bill, if passed into law, would require

1) Every person to obtain a federal license to buy, sell, or possess any firearm;

2) All persons who owned a firearm prior to enactment of the law to obtain a license for those firearms;

3) Each person to apply for renewal of the license every five years;

4) Payment of a fee to obtain the license;

5) All firearm sales to be permanently recorded in a federal database;

6) All persons seeking to buy or possess a firearm to submit to a background check;

7) A possessor to report theft or loss of a firearm to federal authorities within 72 hours;

8) Secure storage of all firearms such that persons under age 18 cannot access them;

9) Firearms owners to permit the federal government to search without warrants any facility where firearms are stored, manufactured, or held;

10) Persons seeking a license to pass an examination on handling, use, and storage of firearms; and

11) Imposition of various penalties for violations of any of the foregoing.

However, Section 801, called “Inapplicability to Governmental Authorities”, states:

“This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall not apply to any department or agency of the United States, of a State, or of a political subdivision of a State, or to any official conduct of any officer or employee of such a department or agency”.

One of the stated justifications for the bill is “to protect the public against unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of qualifying firearms to criminals and youth”.

Why is it necessary to exempt every level of the government and their employees from this Act?

a) Requiring government agencies and their employees to comply with this Act would reduce their efficiency.

b) Requiring government agencies and their employees to comply with this Act would cost too much money that could be devoted to more important objectives.

c) Requiring government agencies and their employees to comply with this Act would cause unnecessary confusion over which agency is to defer to which other agency.

d) Requiring government agencies and their employees to comply with this Act would interfere with the powers of the governments under the respective Constitutions.

e) All of the above.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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Posted in Bill of Rights, critical thinking, Federalist Papers, government powers, gun control, James Madison, Revolutionary War, Second Amendment, U. S. Constitution | No Comments »

Real World Graduation, Question 84: Cabinet Nominations

RealWorldGraduation_Question_84_Cabinet_Nominations   <– PDF

Article 2, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution states, regarding the office of the President:

“He shall have power, by and with the consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law; but the Congress may by law vest the appointments of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in courts of law, or in heads of departments.”

The President’s Cabinet members fall under the category of “officers of the United States”, and require confirmation by the Senate.  A member of the U. S. Senate once voted against the creation of a federal Department of Education (although it passed).  But now, many years later, he has been nominated by the President to be the Secretary (head) of the Department of Education.  On what grounds should the Senate confirm or not confirm him?

a) His original opposition to the creation of any federal Department proves that he cannot be trusted to lead any department. Therefore the Senate should not confirm him.

b) The Senate should not confirm him. The fact that he voted against the creation of the Department proves he is opposed to education, so schools will get worse under his “leadership”.

c) The Senate should not confirm him. If he voted against the creation of the Department, then it is likely that he has contempt for teachers, teachers unions, Department of Education workers, and children in general.  Such a person would not command respect within the department.

d) The Senate should confirm him only in the interest of getting him out of the Senate. True, his original vote proves he is unqualified, but he will do less harm overall as a member of the bureaucracy than as a member of the Senate.

e) The Senate should confirm him only if he promises not to change current policy and promises to recuse himself from budget debates; that way, his biases against education will have no practical effect.

(The answer is on p. 2 of the PDF.)

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