Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
ACLU, Otherwise Known As Democrats
Along the lines of the discussion between Good Lt. and the Two Girls mentioned below, we look into the source of all this disagreement. There is this lingering controversy on which many would like to express an opinion one way or t’other, but few would like to actually engage in a prolonged discussion of the controversy itself. The controversy is, does the American Civil Liberties Union exist to protect the rights of you and me, and stand by to safeguard our freedom during the darkest of times when no one else will?
Or do they exist simply to stir up talking points against Republicans and get Democrats elected?
The ACLU today condemned the U.S. government for gaining access to vast troves of international financial data with no judicial or Congressional oversight nor definition of how the information is being used.
The program, revealed this morning the New York Times, outlines how the government received the cooperation of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, more commonly referred to as Swift, to monitor financial transactions. Swift is a Brussels-based consortium that serves as a clearinghouse for transactions worldwide. It was reported this morning that tens of thousands of records gathered by Swift have been turned over to the CIA, the FBI and the Treasury Department at the request of the U.S. government.
The following statement can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:
“The revelation of the CIA’s financial spying program is another example of the Bush administration’s abuse of power. The invasion of our personal financial information, without notification or judicial review, is contrary to the fundamental American value of privacy and must be stopped now. It seems the administration feels entitled to flip through all of our checkbooks. How many other secret spying programs has the Bush administration enacted without Congress, the courts or the public knowing? We need a full accounting of what information has been demanded by the U.S. government, how they have used it, with whom it was shared, and how they intend to repair this grave breach of trust. This program is a glaring example of how this government thinks nothing of widespread abuse of power.
“The government contends that the program is legal since Swift is ultimately a messaging service and not a bank, exempting it from U.S. banking laws. However, Swift is established and owned by banks to assist directly in banking activities. Swift is subject to both U.S. and European law, and it is wrong for the U.S. to demand information without following the established channels.
“Once again, this administration has performed an end-run around the legislature, allowing for no Congressional approval or oversight, and violating the freedoms Americans falsely believed they could take for granted. Congress should call them to account.”
I suppose reasonable minds may disagree about this. But I just don’t understand how it’s necessary for a party-neutral private organization tasking itself with the preservation of our civil liberties, regardless of the direction from which threats to those liberties may from time to time arise, to discuss “another example of the Bush administration’s abuse of power,” or to instruct us to believe “this government thinks nothing of widespread abuse of power.”
It seems to me an organization ready to stand vigilant watch over our civil liberties, would fancy itself to be an indispensable resource in a free society regardless of who’s running what. And here they are coming perilously close to saying, although not quite articulating it outright, that if we can just get rid of the current administration then the rivers in civil-liberties-land will flow with melted chocolate, the clouds will be made of marshmallows, and everybody’s farts will smell like cinnamon toast.
And among those with long-term concerns about what we call “civil liberties,” a general consensus has been achieved, rightfully so I think, that this just isn’t how it works. Power is vested in an administration that doesn’t care about civil liberties, and then power is vested in another administration that cares passionately about civil liberties. Power is then vested in a whole bunch of other administrations that are somewhere in between the first two mentioned…administrations come and go, falling anywhere they will in the spectrum of civil-liberties-respecting administrations.
Nothing changes as far as how closely the liberties must be watched, in order for them to be kept. Doesn’t the ACLU get it? The liberties are in danger ALL THE TIME. Our elected leaders don’t actually earn our “trust,” in the conventional sense of the word, no matter what they do. Not over the longer term, they don’t.
Director Romero, pointedly, fails to offer a reason why the information-gathering of the international records is unacceptable. This is why we have what are called “civil liberties” — the term has been abused to the point that it’s nothing more than a figure of speech. If he were to say “this is unconstitutional” then he’d be offering an argument that would be quashed, the minute someone experienced with law explained how the holders of international accounts aren’t protected by our Constitution. If that refutation were not to be forthcoming, for some reason — and it certainly would have to be — it would then be up to Director Romero to provide the citation of what Article, or Amendment, was being violated.
And then it would be up to the legal community to articulate what had been going on with that Article, or Amendment, since the day it was ratified. Every precedent within that timeline, conflicting with the excoriation that Director Romero wants to indulge, would be problematic.
And so we don’t use the word “unconstitutional” about situations like this anymore. Not very much. We like to talk about “civil liberties” instead. It lets us tell everybody else what to think, while sounding like we’re resting our case on some Master Document somewhere, when there really is no such thing.
Why should the Bush administration not be gathering these records, exactly? The ACLU pronouncement of angst and vituperation, quoted above in entirety, does not say. As Surber pointed out, not only would this be a brand-new right, if it is to be asserted that some shenanigans are going on here, but according to the status quo we emphatically do not have any variation of the right being discussed because of the procedures followed regularly by the Internal Revenue Service, if by no other agency. In other words, in its haste to condemn the Bush administration which can’t wait for anyone to actually look anything up in a rulebook — the ACLU has, in Surber’s words, “minted a brand-new right.”
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