The Privileged Class

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So I guess once you're elected to Congress, you're immune from drunk driving laws; you can stash the evidence that you've committed a crime in your office, because investigators aren't allowed to search it; if you kill someone because you've got a lead foot and blew a stop sign, the taxpayers will cover your financial liability; and, we learn today, you can commit whatever Internet-related crimes you please, because the police aren't allowed to search your computer.

Meanwhile, the same  Congress that has immunized itself from much of the law is also responsible for the ever-expanding federal criminal code, which we can thank for our shamefully enormous and still-soaring prison population, which is by far and away the largest in the world.

You have lawmakers who feel they're above the law. And who at the same time are criminalizing anything and everything they find tacky, repugnant, or immoral.

Forgive the lofty language, but you know what?  This isn't healthy for our republic.

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  1. Don’t forget those who read your emails and listen to your phone calls and otherwise abuse their authority and keep it all secret through executive privilege or FOIA exemptions.

  2. Or detain people without charges or authorize torture and hide behind state secrets and classified documents and…

  3. our shamefully enormous and still-soaring prison population

    Blame trans-fats and a still insufficiently zealous TSA.

  4. Our republic? The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.

  5. What?

    Sorry, I was watching a VH1 special on Lindsey Lohan that I Tevo’ed the other day.

    I hope she gets out soon. Her DUI charge was sooooo unfair…

  6. I have a cunning plan.

  7. Please share! Your cunning plans are always the best. 🙂

  8. We should make all citizens members of Congress, ushering in an era of unprecedented freedom and perks.

  9. Pro Lib,

    In this new congress, I propose that every citizen receive $100 million.

    To raise the funds, we can increase the Arbitrary Dispersement Tax.

    All in favor of the measure?

  10. China would probably be beating us in prison population if they weren’t executing 8,000 people a year.

  11. Hey joe, why doesn’t the great and fair Democratic majority repeal these exemptions?

  12. Cesar,

    Sorry joe, but Ha!

  13. WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Florida’s top police agency said Wednesday its investigation into former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley’s lurid Internet communications with teenage boys has been hindered because neither Foley nor the House will let investigators examine his congressional computers.

    Maybe they could get the evidence they need if it was part of a reality TV show.

  14. Radley

    As always, you frame the point perfectly. The angles you tend to cover are relevant to everyone who care about how we live today. (unlike the common ferret-owner type of libertarian indignation) The more of your stuff that gets in this magazine (or any other media), the better.

  15. CRIMETHINK, we arrest and jail 8000 people every five days on marijuana possession charges alone, so they’re going to have to jack up the pace in China if they wanna compete in the Big Leagues.

  16. Radley,

    I’ll gladly second what Gilmore just said.

  17. The joke is that apparently only 100 people domestically are being wiretapped, per today’s report.

    That defies all logic, and it is one of the most humiliating lies I’ve read today.

  18. Our republic? The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.

    QFT. I think I’d actually vote for Jar Jar Binks before most of our current senators.

  19. I love how the government (illegal wire tapping) and now government officials are able to (ab)use the law to protect themselves from the law. Makes me feel safe. What’s that called again, a Receive-33?

  20. Janklow had also pardoned his son-in-law for a DUI I believe when governor.

    Our prison population has far too many innocent people in it for petty drug use, et cetera, but I hate to frame the issue on prison population alone.

    Doing such, the debate tends to veer off into a basic hard or soft on crime in general which isn’t the point. If we were to be generally soft and inconsistent on crime, that is harmful of individual liberty writ large.

    But when we frame the issue in terms of useless laws and the zealous prosecution of victimless crimes, it takes that whole soft on crime aspect out of the equation.

  21. Our republic? The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.

    But that’s impossible. How will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?

  22. Fear – fear will keep them in line.


    China would probably be beating us in prison population if they weren’t executing 8,000 people a year.

    The difference is, the majority of Chinese prisoners are political prisoners, while the majority of our prisoners (at the Fed level, at least) are there for drug offenses. Arguably,
    they are political prisoners as well.

  23. State Representative Bob Allen, Republican from Titusville Florida was arrested for offering a police offer $20 to suck his dick (Allen wanted to suck the cops dick, that is). Allen pulled into a public park at 2 or 3 am, went to the bathroom, then had the offending encounter. At first, Allen reasonably explained that there were a lot of “black men” in the park, and he was afraid he was going to become “a statistic” so, naturally, he offered to pay a black dude to get some lip on cock action. When the scandal broke, he blamed Cubans (the state speaker is cuban) for their skepticism towards such reasonable white-man-afraid-of-black-man-so-he-offers-a-suck-of f strategies towards crime reduction. Now the court papers come out, and Bob Allen blames a lightening storm for scaring him out of his wits, and into a $20 blow job.

    This post is copyrighted, so even though it’s a hilarious story, you’d better use even a word of what I wrote, ’cause it’s pure comedy gold, Jerry. Comedy gold.

  24. I’m sure that my man Jeeves will figure out a way to get us all out of this, right after he makes us all a perfect pot of tea.

  25. Our incarceration rate will make us a nation in decline, if we are not already. I admit that without much forethought or self-control I proselytize my friends nearly every day about the slow-moving disaster of the expanding Federal criminal code.

  26. At one point the Empire abolished the Senate, which is probably a good thing; but who’s our Darth Vader now that Rove is out? (I’m assuming Cheney as emperor.)

  27. Petraeus could be Vader, if it weren’t for the fact that Vader actually, you know, had powers.

    Petraeus-Vader has been elevated by the neocon blogosphere into fucking Patton riding Alexander the Great piggyback, and it’s on the basis of virtually no discernible accomplishment.

    So Petraeus can be Vader, but we’ll all have to just pretend that he has force powers. Act like we’re choking when he force-chokes us, etc.

    OK, I stole that last bit from Robot Chicken.

  28. Fuck, Radley, between this post and This one from Ed Brayton about how the White House has recently decided it can ignore FOIA requests, I had two fucking lousy bookends to a fucking lousy day.

    What you do is important, but geez, this shit is just hella depressing. Thanks.

    Oh, and Lamar,

    You’re right–the new addition of Cubans and lightning to Bob Allen’s reason for being scared is comedy gold. Thank you.

  29. Once again Reason blames the lawmakers and not the culture that made them possible and the voters who put them there. Congress did not elect itself. They mirror us.

  30. Taktix?,

    My cunning plan only included citizens, so we can tax the heck out of the illegal immigrants.

  31. Aggravating, simply aggravating.

  32. Congress did not elect itself.

    That’s what you think.

  33. Why do you think they employee so many people to “protect,” them as body guards. I would want protection to if I was fucking over a few hundred million people every day.

  34. ed,
    Who says Reason isn’t blaming the voters?

  35. I know I’m late for this one but…

    Prepare, folks. The revolution cometh.

  36. My cunning plan only included citizens, so we can tax the heck out of the illegal immigrants.

    Pro Lib,

    I figured we’d just sell them into slavery to recoup the cash.

    All,

    I was also trying to point out how horrid a direct democracy would be.

  37. Here’s the part Mr. Balko doesn’t mention, from the Byrd story he links:

    The Fairfax County police officer who investigated the accident had started to write the 81-year-old Senator a traffic ticket when Bryd pulled a copy of the U.S. Constitution out of his pocket and pointed to a section that he said the cop prevented the cop for ticketing him for anything because he, as a member of Congress “shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest” both while attending a session and traveling to or from the Capitol.

    Byrd spokeswoman Ann Adler says the Senator, an acknowledged Constitutional scholar, “almost always has one (the Constitution) in his pocket.”

    Byrd was taken to the nearby Fair Oaks police station where the shift commander put in a quick call to Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan. Horan told the cop that if the Senator wanted to claim Congressional immunity for the ticket, the cops would have to honor it. With everything else that had happened in Washington in recent months, a traffic accident probably couldn’t be classified as “treason, felony or breach of the peace.”

    Horan said he was familiar with the immunity clause — Article 1, Section 6, of the Constitution — because he had encountered it once before during his 32 years in office. Another member of Congress, also from West Virginia, invoked the clause to escape a speeding ticket 20 years earlier.

    So, in this case at least, Byrd did not feel he was above the law – the Constitution itself says that he’s immune from being charged with minor crimes.

  38. Dan T.,
    The purpose of that clause is not to get out of speeding tickets, which didn’t exist (unless there were horse speed limits) at the writing of the Constitution. The purpose was to prevent the executive branch from molesting and hindering members of the legislative branch on the way to vote on something controversial.

  39. So, in this case at least, Byrd did not feel he was above the law – the Constitution itself says that he’s immune from being charged with minor crimes.

    So is that why he later accepted the ticket Dan? I love how you say “Radley left this out” and then you leave something out.

    Theoretically, Byrd could be, at any time, going “to or from the Capitol.” Even if he wasn’t, he can just say he was, and that’s that. That isn’t the intention of that rule.

    Kind of like when I had a pistol permit in NY that allowed me to carry “to and from fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, shooting events or practice”, so I just carried hiking boots and a fishing pole in my car at all times.

  40. I assume pro-war commentators and seasoned Foreign Policy “experts” like Michael Young are also excluded from the searches right?

    so come on guys…as long as you are “reasonable” about foreign policy you don’t have anything to worry about.

  41. Look, I’m really tired of all the talk about the government spying on you people. I’m going to track you all down and have a good talk with you. See you soon.

  42. So is that why he later accepted the ticket Dan? I love how you say “Radley left this out” and then you leave something out.

    I guess you got me – I honestly didn’t realize that Byrd later accepted the ticket, although if he did then Mr. Balko should not have included it as an example in the first place.

  43. Rejecting the parliament is the fastest way into dictatorship. Do you know America what you are doing?

  44. mr. balko always manages to darken my day.

    shit man mel brooks had it right:

    “it’s good to be the king.”

  45. Byrd wasn’t the example, you dimwit; it was the drunk drivers.

  46. So is that why he later accepted the ticket Dan? I love how you say “Radley left this out” and then you leave something out.

    Speaking of leaving things out, Byrd was charged $30 for court costs. As the article says, he still enjoyed privilige.

    As I read the story, Byrd accepted the ticket after he was sure the fix was in. Nice option if you can get it.

  47. A superb article — I’ll be sending the link to a number of people.

  48. Didn’t you get the memo? Once elected to the House or Senate, you have achieved the status of Prince. The rest of us are just peasants. Well, maybe not yet. But once elected Prince, they work together to raise our property taxes to the point that they can eventually tax us off our land and make the transition complete.

  49. You can’t just go about enslaving people, Taktix?, that’s unconstitutional. However, if we were to arrest and “duly convict” all of the illegal immigrants, well, the 13th Amendment expressly exempts convicted criminals from its terms.

    I just hope this new found power doesn’t go the heads of the roughly 300 million new members of Congress. Maybe that’s more like 200 million–we don’t need to include minors.

  50. There’s a kernel of truth to the notion that our politicians reflect the people who elect them, but it isn’t the whole truth. In the end, power corrupts. By maintaining the tradition of two-party leadership, we’ve given our politicians too much power and too much opportunity to build protection into their powers. Incumbents have to spend exponentially less money to maintain their seats than challengers to unseat them. Third party politics are practically non-existent.

    Our government, as it stands, is deeply broken. It’s all legal and above-board, because we allowed them to pass the laws that allow them to protect their privileged status. What we need to do is tear it down, go back to the drawing board and start over. Politicians need to become public servants again, not overlords and masters.

  51. I’ve got some sympathy on the aren’t allowed to search your computer.

    Remember, when the police SAY, search your computer, what they MEAN is, take your computer away indefinitely. Unless and until found guilty, he and his staff have to do their jobs somehow.

    I’m not sympathetic to them having special privileges, though, or being able to commit crimes in office without investigation. Police SHOULD just be imaging drives and not taking property as part of busts, and they SHOULD be investigating Congressmen as easily as other people.

  52. The implicit issue in the 2008 elections is the arrogance of the Privileged Class – besides those matters Balko mentions, they range from the way from McCain believes that his ideas on “clean government” trump the Bill of Rights to some cretinous congress critter yelling “It’s my money” while quarreling over a piece of pork down to our illustrious local police forces who seem to spend more time protecting their rogue brethren than they do catching criminals. (But I’m from Chicago, “Second City to None in Corruption”.)

    If John Edwards could forget his 1890’s class-warfare oriented sort of populism and start running against governmental arrogance, he might be able to get somplace. Oh well, into ever life some sunshine must fall.

  53. “What we need to do is tear it down, go back to the drawing board and start over.”

    I agree with your overall point and feel the same way. Without making any implications as to what methods you intended – I wish to make my own point that we should not make “tearing it down and starting over” the banner under which we stand to make that happen. Tearing down ones house means that you have to have another one ready to move into – unless you want to spend time in the snow and rain.

    What I would love to see is to see a group of very wise people get together and do a state by state, for the Senate, and a district by district vetting of the candidates for the house for the primaries. Then come up with real contenders for the incumbents who could get the attention and backing necessary to win.

    Let’s say that I no longer want my very secure Senator to be my represtative due to his refusal to represent his constituents on the immigration issue. The problem will be that he WILL be reelected in the GOP primary. So then, in the general election, I will have two choices, my current Senator or a Democrat who, by the very fact of declaring himself a democrat can not be trusted to stand firm for me on this issue (or any other issue for that matter, they all promise and never deliver) – no matter what promises s/he makes. So, I’ll be forced to reelect my Senator who will continue to please those who have the power to put him in office – instead of the people of this State.

    And that is where the problem lies. We need one more layer to the primary. A layer where good, involved, informed and organized people help to select viable candidates in the primary that have a chance of winning. People selected by the people, not special interests.

    Problem is, I’m not an organizer, and I’m fairly new to my state and county – so I don’t know whom those people would be. But what we need are real challengers, put forth by the people in the primaries rather than in the general election.

    I think this is one place where bloggers could get involved in helping to organize a pre-primary to make the primaries more meaningful.

    I do it if I could – but I have no idea how. I wish all of you super bloggers would take up that charge!

  54. Tearing down ones house means that you have to have another one ready to move into – unless you want to spend time in the snow and rain.

    I have a plan for the house; I just need a builder.

    The way to avoid having a “privileged class” is to not let people stay in these positions long enough to forget where they came from. To that end, we need serious term limits–no more than two for senators and four for representatives. It’s ridiculous that Robert Byrd has been in the Senate for over 48 years; I doubt that the Framers had something like that in mind (especially since people didn’t live that long back then).

    But on top of that, we also need term limits for government bureaucrats as well, because otherwise, they’d be running the show in the absence of longterm members of Congress. I’d say ten years, tops, for any government job save the military and things like NASA and the postal service. Nobody should otherwise spend an entire working life suckling at the government teat. If you have a talent for something, get a job in that field, and if you don’t, it’s back to school for you. Entrenched bureaucrats tend to get even more out-of-touch with the real world than the elected representatives whom they serve.

    So there’s the idea; the trick is to get it implemented. Any suggestions?

  55. From the Memory Hole – there stands Jim Traficant, D-Ohio. Famous for his floor speeches in the well of the US House of Representatives. He is in prison for exposing, on a nightly basis, the hideous fraud and treason of what is popularly referred to as the United States, and it’s priviliged class, members of Congress. You can debate all you want as to whether Traficant was railroaded or simply caught … but the fact remains there is no one like him standing in the house telling the truth. Not even Ron Paul comes close to the affairs and deeds Traficant spoke to every evening. So, if we’re ever going to overturn the oligarchy of the Party of Power that occupies Washington, and return to our Constitution, remember the lesson of James Traficant.

    The people who occupy Washington will brook no revelation, disclosure nor Light.

  56. Kev – I agree with you that the easy solution is term limits for our senators and reps. Problem is that the Princes currently in power refuse to allow it. But it needs to be done. It really is THE solution. In a way, it is just like the military – fresh blood keeps moving through.

    Interesting concept re: long term bureaucrats in key positions. I’ve always thought revamp civil service and replace it with a military like structure – up or out.

  57. If the Kings Men need 2 follow the Kings Rules…Perhaps the rules wouldn’t b so silly.

    Like the 55 mph speed limit. And the .08 BAC and that pesty zero tolerance on Marijuana.

  58. “who at the same time are criminalizing anything and everything they find tacky, repugnant, or immoral.”

    So why are there so many laws? Thesefolks have shown time and again by their personal behavior that they find precious little “tacky, repugnant, or immoral.”

  59. “…criminalizing anything and everything they find tacky, repugnant, or immoral.”

    This is the impulse behind “hate crimes” legislation, where “the crime” becomes defined as an affront to a specific individual or group (e.g., “homosexuals”, “Muslims”).

    For example, the recent flushing of the Koran incident at Pace Univ., the guy was arrested under NYC “hate crimes” statutes.

    Indeed, this isn’t healthy for our republic.

  60. Wonder why there are so many laws in a nation that that bellows democracy and freedom on every pulpit? Control, simple and easy. Laws are in place to protect property, wealth, and positions. My college professor blew my mind when he demostrated that over 80% of our laws are based on assests and wealth. That is to say that the laws serves those with assests and wealth.

    The priviledged class throws out a new bogey man every 2 decades or so to remove the microscope from themselves. Facists, communists, now terrorists. The problem now is that terrorist is a very losely defined term. If you disagree with policy you have no say in, are you a terrorist or will you be displaying characteristics of a terrorist. Recently the NYPD labeled librarys and coffee shops as incubaters of terror ideology. In essence knowledge and open forums is the fertile soil of hostile dissent.

    It’s a power grab folks, the elite are not stupid as some of us think. They are organized, share common goals and are beginning to see that the old “bread and circues” of Rome is all you need to take what you want.

    I would like to think that we have a future. In fact we do not, private armies such as blackwater and private prisons constructed by halliburton are the beginning. Failure to improve infrastructure or aid to collapsed American citys is not a mistake or oversight…its the open and direct result of politicians and the corporations they are in bed with emptying the public funds for thier own ends.

    I’m not a doomsayer, only a humble, practical, observant patriot watching the ship run ashore. I recommend picking up several well written books concerning urban survivalism, farming and basic engineering.

    Goodluck my friends, more so for your children.

  61. The USA is in the midst of class warfare.

    The masses are indoctrinated from an early age that as things are is correct, proper and as it should be.

    Disagree with authority and be labeled as unAmerican, unpatriotic and against the troops.

    Several Founders wrote what the masses should do when a government no longer represents them.

    The elite class has federal laws in place that would imprison the Founders for 20 years with a levied fine of one-quarter-million dollars.

    The federal government, America’s elite class and the corporate structure is a greater threat to our freedoms than all foreign terrorists combined.

    We, the people, are in peril and the threat is from within.

  62. “”China would probably be beating us in prison population if they weren’t executing 8,000 people a year””

    Don’t give them any ideas

    “””Once again Reason blames the lawmakers and not the culture that made them possible and the voters who put them there. Congress did not elect itself. They mirror us.”””

    They are human, but that does not justify their actions, nor does it push the concept of self-responsibility onto others. Sure we have some responsibility about whom we vote. In 2004 America wanted more Bush and we’ve got it (pun intended). But no one is more responsible for one’s actions than one’s self.

    “”””What we need to do is tear it down, go back to the drawing board and start over.””””

    I disagree. The problem is not our system of government but the people elected, and the inability of citizens to pick good candidates. This is America after its citizens have given their minds to the 24 hours news channels. We are failing the Constitution. The Constitution is not failing us.

    “””It’s a power grab folks, the elite are not stupid as some of us think. They are organized, share common goals and are beginning to see that the old “bread and circues” of Rome is all you need to take what you want.”””

    Bingo!
    It’s all about power getting more power. Information is power, and they want the ability to record and analyze every little thing you do and they want to prevent you from doing the same. More open society, more closed government.

  63. Give me a break. You are worried about the Fed? Do you not think that Barnes and Noble and Amazon haven’t kept track of every purchase you ever made. Every time you swipe your card at the grocery store, your credit score, your loans, all for sale to anyone willing to pay a price. Every key stroke you ever entered is tracked by people wanting to sell you something or get your vote. About the only one who can’t easily access it is the Feds.

    And as for 80% of the laws being to protect wealth and assets – I think we can assume since you are still green enough behind the ears to still believe what your professors say, that you have not yet acquired any wealth or assets that you would like protected. Isn’t that GOOD that 80% is to protect your assets? The other 20% are to protect your person, rape, slander, gun control, driver’s licenses, and other laws which limit what YOU can say, think and do. Do you really want that percentage reversed?

    If you want to worry about Princes turning you into peasants – worry about taxes. That is how they take what you work for and give it to people who sit on their asses and exchange their votes for bread and circuses. What happens when property taxes get so high that you have no land, no prospects of owning land and the price of living goes up? You become a peasant, dependant on the state for a place to stand.

    It’s always amusing how the young think that the government will be their nanny – yet they think everyone who runs the government is not to be trusted with even knowing what library books they have rented. Like any of us have any privacy any more anyway. Personally, I could care less if the government knows what I read. Anyone with a terminal and a check book ANYONE can find out anything and everything they want to know about me in a matter of minutes.

    Grow up. If you are lucky, someday you will have wealth and assets of your own that you want protected. If not, the best you can hope for is to be a ward of the state, whoring your vote to which ever politician promises to throw you the best trinkets from the taxes that they took from those who actually worked hard for it.

  64. Becky,

    Unlike you I know that true happiness in life is not about wealth and assests. Its about qaulity of life and the right to make those choices as you see fit regardless of how much you have in the bank.

    You only discredit your own argument by saying that my mindset will change once I recieve wealth and assests. Thats the entire point of this thread…absolute power corrupts absolutely. Your curcular logic just denounced your entire post. I recommend you go speak to an educated individual or get educated yourself. I would rather trust an individual who has a doctorate in history and political science rather than what Bill O’Reilly spews into your ever willing mind.

    Wire tapping, domestic survalance and the ilk are passed off as “protection” to the populace, however it always ends up enslaving the populace. This can be seen most recently with the FBI misusing the patriot act to collect information on passive anti-war protestors. The governments job has never been to know what books I read…ever. If your willing to give up your freedoms for protection than I would have you read a quote from Ben Franklin…you know the guy that helped form this nation; “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” It begins with books, then phones, then spy satalites, then DNA, etc etc.

    Please come to the forum with more understanding of the topic next time. This was not a debate regarding welfare, and your childish attempt to use my comments out of context is nothing more than an authoritarian tool to cloud and obfuscate the true debate. Your motives are transparent.

  65. **I would rather trust an individual who has a doctorate in history and political science**

    That’s because you are young and stupid. Talk to me when you are older and have a little bit of life outside the nursery. And as for my not having a quality of life – what makes you think that I do not. You know nothing about me. You have no idea what degrees I hold. I happen to think Bill O’Reilly is an idiot, did you make that assumption because I simply disagreed with you?

    You seem to have missed the point about what power of the politicians is about. It is not just getting out of traffic tickets, but it is the power of the politicians to take what you own, what you work for and redistribute it any way they wish – with you having little or no control over it.

    Come back to the argument once you have something more than an sheltered life paid for by mommy and me to draw from.

  66. Becky,

    As I know nothing about you, you also know nothing about me. Your orginal post was an immediant attack on me because I wrote some things you did’nt like..so in essence you made the first assumptions about me because you disagreed with me. I see this alot in op eds in various publications and through pundits on television who cannot handle a dissenting view point. Once again your own arguments come back to bit you in the behind, its becoming predictable.

    It appears we can both agree our public funds are misappropriated by our elected officials, yet you only want to speak of the welfare nation. I agree with you on this..welfare is a safety net, not a life style. Yet I go further in stating that not only are we wasting funds on lazy, non-productive peoples. We are also losing funds to mismanaged and illegal wars, corporate kickbacks, non-bid contracts, religious tax breaks and private hedge funds. If your gonna knock down straw men make sure you include them all.

    I may be younger than you, but I refuse to become another cog in the machine that has proven to be malfunctioning. I will continue to question authority..thats not youth, thats patrotism. Do not conflate your govenrment with your nation, A patriot adores, protects and keeps vigil over thier nation…not thier government. A patriot displayes tough love and tosses up the mirror in the face of corruption.

    I love capatalism, because I am a fan of technology, only in America can we continue to innovate and produce more and more wonders for the benefit of mankind…capatalism breads innovation. Yet unfettered deregulation of corporations and lobbyists pervert that delicate union between democracy and capatalism.

    Its not a crime to be rich, not at all. But once long ago those who became rich were those who worked hard and had new ideas. The ruling elite got rich in the modern age by lying, cheating, stealing, and in some cases outright murder. They take those same philosophys to the offices they win and continue to use those as a means of stabalizing thier careers and accumulate more wealth. Of course that means they open the doors to others who think like them….soon enough, bang you have corruption so rampent that anyone young or with a brain in thier head should have a healthy amount of distrust for anyone in the status of authority.

  67. We can both agree on unfettered deregulation of corporations and lobbyists pervert that delicate union between democracy and capitalism.

    I always find it amusing when people who support commmunism or capitalism say utopia would result if only it capitalism/communism were able to be pure. No, history has already proven that pure capitalism results in child labor, etc. and pure communism requires a tyrant to enforce it and results in slave labor. In the end, there is no utopia on this earth – we can only try to achieve a balance by passing laws that help to protect the weak while allowing the engine of self-interest to generate wealth.

    But I have to disagree when you say, “But once long ago those who became rich were those who worked hard and had new ideas. The ruling elite got rich in the modern age by lying, cheating, stealing, and in some cases outright murder”. It has always been that way and unless genetic engineering modifies the human race to something we are not now, it will always be that way.

    Rather, long ago there were Kings and subjects. Kings didn’t get to be kings by hard work, they got there by power, treachery and murder and politics, just like the tyrants of today.

    I understand your desire to be suspicious of authority, and well you should be. I know that I am. But it is more complex than just ranting against the government as being out to get you.

    What keeps you safe in this country is the BALANCE of power. Our forefathers set up a system where the most ruthless and the most powerful are balanced by others equally ruthless and powerful who have achieved heights in the other branches of government. It was a brilliant plan and the only thing that keeps us, the people, in the loop is the bill of rights – freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, etc. and of course, your vote. A vote is just a notice to those vying for power what you would be willing to pick up arms and fight for should they attempt to suject you to their whims.

    It is popular to say that dissent is the highest form of patriotism – but that is jingoistic and simplistic. It is much more complex than that. It is a willingness to work collectively towards maintaining a civilized society.

    And that gets me to my point. What we are faced with now are forces who wish to destroy the delicate balance of civilzation that your forefathers – Greek, Roman, onto today have gifted to you in form of a represtative government. The terrorists seek to destroy this by blowing up bombs in discos to achieve political and power grabs through the use of terror. You allow them continue to do so at the peril of your freedom. As such, you will need to work with your countrymen, through the form of your government to stop them -if you wish to continue to live in a civilized society. No one of us can do it alone. And as such, you will have to give up some freedoms to prevent them from coming to your town and taking it over through force. Because that’s the way it was, long ago. And these terrorists want to return it to that way. It is up to you to decide how best to balance the need between freedom and civilization. There is no right or wrong – only balance.

  68. You all just have class envy. 😉

  69. Becky,

    It appears we are coming to a consensus regarding the topic at hand. I am glad to see that thoughtful and reasoned conversation can dissolve emotional outbursts. We are closer to an overall agreement yet your last line does frighten me some…

    “you will have to give up some freedoms to prevent them from coming to your town and taking it over through force. Because that’s the way it was, long ago. And these terrorists want to return it to that way”

    I cannot, at the very fiber of my being, agree with that. Only because it is fear mongering to believe that terrorists are going to march into our citys and claim control, that would never happen. At the same time after watching movies like Brazil and Children of Men and V for Vendetta the narrative that these writers express it that terrorism can be state sponsored by the very individuals that claim to represent us. Yes its a stretch, yet at the same time its not impossible, or far fetched. False flag operations got us into 2 wars before; Vietnam and the Spanish/American war. Both were lies and orcastrated events to motivate the population into warfare. Care to put freedom on the table as a wager this time?…I do not. So you see the basis for my distrust. Why hand over freedoms when they have already proven several times that they can make the information as they see fit to create the situations that best serve them.

    To simply hand over freedoms based on unrational fear is not what our founders intended. We are Americans. we display strength when we need to, compassion when required. We endured the dust bowl, both world wars, and countless other tragedys in our brief, young 200+ republic without relinquishing our core freedoms, and we can do it again.

    Have a great weekend! 🙂

  70. It’s amazing how some of you categorize Congresspeople as “the ruling ?lite” while I see much of contemporary Congress as a self- absorbed, infighting, rather pathetic bunch.

    And I see the self-anointed ?lite as (the fourth estate) newspapers, blue state self-proclaimed intelleck-tuals (try John F’n Kerry here) whose shtick is to purport to care about “you”.

    My version of an ?lite class is every bit as threatening to the survival of your “liberties” as Radical Islamists who are, indeed, bent on eradicating “your” way of life.

    And way more threating to your “liberties” than the Patriot Act and the FISA laws.

  71. Thank you for the discussion. We will have to agree to disagree. While it is true that ” terrorism can be state sponsored by the very individuals that claim to represent us” you have to really close your eyes and click your heels to ignore the Islamist threat. It is clear that you have chosen to do so and as such there is little more we can debate.

    I will give you one last parting word of advice. Read a little history. We reliquished some of our freedoms in every war that we fought. Your freedom was bought with the blood of those who refused to be subjected to tyrants. There has never, not for a moment in history, been a time when there was not someone willing to take your freedom from you were good men and women not strong enough to resist.

    Have a good weekend.

  72. Tanstaafl,

    The reason they are terrorists is because they have no power, thats what makes them use terror as a tool.

    I recently went to London over the winter, there is literally 1 camera for every 10 people in London. Try walking down the street knowing that your every move is being watched, that every call I made back home was being intercepted. I was even involved in a random pat down inspection before going into the subways. That is not American, and if we allow one or two liberties to die when does it stop? There will always be a bigger bogey man around the corner to get scared about.

    What makes my brain split open in shear disbelief is when people say…”they wanna destroy your way of life” When in reality, releasing our freedoms because of terror IS DESTROYING OUR WAY OF LIFE

    Can you spot the irony in your comments now?

  73. Becky,

    I do not disregard terrorism as a substantial threat, and I don’t proclaim to know how to fight it the right way. All I know is that right now its not being done the right way.

    Also, concerning your point about history and freedoms during wartime. Let us not forget that we, America, were the ones who trained these men and left them to die after the russian invasion of afghanistan, is there any confussion as to who made who?

    “Blowback” is the word used by historians and many experts regarding our foriegn policies. It is a hard fact to swallow, only now if we can retrace our steps that got us here, can we begin to change them. More of the same will only lead future generations in a sick unrelenting cycle of war and fear….it must stop.

  74. No guy, I can’t spot the “irony”.

    Not a single individual I’ve discussed the Patriot Act with has been able to cite one single change to their own lives.

    Not one.

    As for proliferation of cameras in large cities of the world, get used to this wave of “the future”.

    Maybe you’d want to look into acquiring a relatively isolated plot of land somewhere in the wild wild west of the US that might (just might) still be protected from usurpation by imminent domain.

  75. “What makes my brain split open in shear (sic)disbelief is when people say…”they wanna destroy your way of life” ”

    I’ve read all the fatwas.

    Combine those words with “terrorist” acts and selected targets over more than 2 decades and it seems like a reasonable assumption.

    And for the record, (“the CIA”) didn’t JUST train bin laden’s mujahideen and leave them on their own in Afghanistan. Bin laden thought it propitious to join in the American effort to repel the Soviets, but always ordered his men not to mix and mingle with those horrible infidels.

  76. Richard Nixon used his wiretapping for political means to spy on democratic officials. J Edgar Hoover used his powers to spy on people he thought were his enemies. Carl rove and Alberto Gonzalas used thier powers to politicize our justice system to ensure a republican majority in a democratic nation. The FBI used the patriot act to gather information on quaker anti-war protestors….quakers! For what end, they were Americans displaying thier right to dissent, and they sent spys and tapped thier phones.

    If you wanna talk about “the future” then you better get ready to live with terrorism, its here to stay and nothing you do short of a police state will stop it. People had no concept of vehicular man slaughter at the turn of the century, and nothing we’ve done since has stopped it…..but we go on, like we always do, and without giving up your freedoms.

    Terrorism is what the 21st century is going to have to deal with, and soon terrorists will come in all religions and skin tones….the unibomber, timmothy McVey, the IRA, abortion clinic bombers….one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter

    You cant afford to be this niave Tansaafl

    You need to look closer.

  77. “….the unibomber, timmothy McVey, the IRA, abortion clinic bombers….one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter”

    One last stab, gotta go.

    I can draw a clear line between the UnAbomber (whose Manifesto I read closely and whose life I read about in detail), Tim McVEIGH (whose life I studied a little), wacko individualists bombing abortion clinics…

    …and the agenda of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the confessed slaughterer of Daniel Pearl) and Islamist wackos.

    Clear.

    Buenas noches.

  78. Guy – I enjoyed my discussion with you, and engaged in it with you, because you seem like a bright lad – despite having your head filled with the nonsense that passes for knowledge these days.

    Look – you really shot your wad when you wrote, “But once long ago those who became rich were those who worked hard and had new ideas. The ruling elite got rich in the modern age by lying, cheating, stealing, and in some cases outright murder”. That you could even write those words …. well let’s just say it’s clear you aren’t a history major.

    But don’t feel bad, you probably know more than I did when I was your age. There is hope for you yet.

    tanstafaal – I agree with what you wrote at 7:34. If we had decent reps – the Islamist threat would never have gotten this far. We need term limits!

  79. Make legislative service cumpusory through random conscription.

  80. uh, that’s compulsory

  81. Thank you for the discussion. We will have to agree to disagree. While it is true that ” terrorism can be state sponsored by the very individuals that claim to represent us” you have to really close your eyes and click your heels to ignore the Islamist threat. It is clear that you have chosen to do so and as such there is little more we can debate.

    I prefer to focus on the threat at hand (the steady erosion of rights and the consolidation of power in the hands of large corporations and the political elite) rather than the vague threat that’s at a distance (international terrorism). 9/11 was a tragedy, but it did not fundamentally change the American way of life at-large. Handing over our rights so that we can pretend we’re safer will.

    The constant focus on terrorism in America is ignoring the rampaging bear in your face so that you can stop the threat posed by the dog down the block. The real threat to America is letting our government get even more out of control.

  82. It’s called multi-tasking. Just because the roof is leaking doesn’t mean that you don’t need to address the overflowing toilet.

    We have to fight the terror threat as a civilized society. That means we have to give some rights to our government to do their job. That’s the bummer of living in a civilized world – you have to give up some of your rights and grasp the concept of a common good.

    Our government isn’t mommy who gives a sh*& about you and it isn’t a boogy man. It’s people working together towards mutually beneficial goals. Should you limit its power – yes. But granting reasonable rights to those tasked to protect you – such as spying on terrorists as well as those who cooperate with them is necessary for your own survival. If you can’t accept that – get a compound in Montana and let the rest of us work it out.

  83. “Read a little history. We reliquished some of our freedoms in every war that we fought. Your freedom was bought with the blood of those who refused to be subjected to tyrants.”

    Becky, in the future, please don’t confuse wars that preserved our freedom with wars that attain a questionable political goal. It’s insulting, and it forces me to agree with Guy Montag (by the way, ace posts, there, Montag).

  84. Guy–

    Please don’t assume those who disagree with you aren’t educated–this is an insult equal to “you should have an open mind,” addressed to a stranger.

    Give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s polite, and you won’t come across as a conceited twit.

    By the way, haven’t you noticed that academic consensus for the last forty years has always been in aid of big government, by which the academy lives? Big government, by the way, is antithetical to the liberty intended by our nation’s founding; any academic who doesn’t know that ain’t very educated. So the consensus is self-interested, and their political philosophy corrupt. Contemporary academic opinion is not a good argument for you to rely on.

  85. Mr Balko —

    Your post on Congress putting itself above the law has considerable merit. But then you weaken it by trotting out this irrelevant aside:

    “Meanwhile, the same Congress that has immunized itself from much of the law is also responsible for the ever-expanding federal criminal code, which we can thank for our shamefully enormous and still-soaring prison population, which is by far and away the largest in the world.”

    In fact, 90+% of US adult prisoners are in state/local custody. The federal criminal code, however much expanded, is not responsible for their incarceration. And most adult prisoners (~75%) are being held on charges of violence or crimes against property … hardly newfangled concepts.

  86. Heh, yeah, no kiddin! They’re also immune to laws and social condemnation for torturing and even killing children.

    https://reason.com/news/show/121088.html

    http://www.theagitator.com/straightfox.php

  87. Just to correct a myth that appeared above, the US did not train or fund Osama bin Laden while he fought the Soviets. The US funded native Afghans and not Arab fighters in Afghanistan. The Arabs (like Osama) didn’t need US funding; they had plenty from the Arab world.

    Here’s the State Department page on it: < a href=”http://usinfo.state.gov/media/Archive/2005/Jan/24-318760.html”>The US Did Not Create Osama Bin Laden

  88. Ah, I see no HTML allowed. For ease of copy & pasting:

    http://usinfo.state.gov/media/Archive/2005/Jan/24-318760.html

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