Monday, October 15, 2007

JMO - Our Democracy isn't anymore.

Reading some articles in the newspapers over the weekend I realize - gee, that quick too ("Like Duh!") - we've lost our democracy with our civil rights and liberties. And why do I think this now? Well from the newspapers I read Friday through Sunday, here is what I gleaned our government is doing to us, pretending to trust us but not really.

First, a former senior executive for Qwest communications company said the National Security Agency (NSA) requested direct and unfettered access to the major communications companies' telephone and Internet servers in the country in February 2001, seven months before 9/11. Now, that's the biggest WTF I've read about in some time. The access to wiretap every American wasn't about fighting terrorism, but simply being big brother.

Second, the Defense Department (DOD) has used their legal warrantless letters for background information about military personnel and company employee with contracts with the Defense Department to collect data on regular Americans who don't qualify under their legal authority. About half the letters of request were for non-military and non-contract employees. Just regular folks like you and me.

Third, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) has told Canadian Airlines they must turn over the passenger lists of all airlines flying over the US. Now they only have to provide the lists for flights landing in the US, but not for flights from Canada to Mexico, Central or South America. This violates Canada's right to privacy laws and corporate laws for airlines operations. But TSA said they have to comply or face punitive actions.

Fourth, the federal government agencies contract with a number of private companies to collect and compile data on Americans. These companies are immune from laws governing agencies, and as such, have a free hand to do what they want in their work. And there are few if any laws governing what they do with the information or what rights and protections we have for our data in their possession.

Lastly, the President and his Administration have yet to prove the existing anti-terrorist laws are working to protect Americans. All of the agencies involved with anti-terrorist have demonstrated they haven't followed the laws governing the civil rights of Americans - the case of the man in Portland, Oregon who was arrested and detained for two weeks without a warrant, access to lawyers or the courts, and telling his family - his wife and children. He was released and received a settlement and apology but it showed the government's power in the name of fear.

The best example is TSA airport and airline security measures. To date not one person has been convicted and sentenced of terrorist acts on any flight within the United States. Not one! All terrorists are stopped on international flights into the US. And so why do all airline passengers have to be screened and searched and all their check-in and carryon baggage checked and searched? And why are we restricted to so few items now?

And yet George Bush is demanding more powers. For what? If it's not really to fight terrorists, what else is there except targeting Americans. I'm saddened we're on the downward side of civil liberties, rights and protections, and our government will have so much power over citizens there won't be a way to change it. And I don't see any of the poltical parties trying. It's about power and control, and the politicians know it.

In the end we're losing our democracy over one act in the whole history of terrorism. And taken out of context and perspective, it's been used to turn our democracy into a police state. Except we're paying the bills.


  1. America is a Constitutional Republic NOT a Democracy.
    We never have been or ever will be a Democracy.

  2. Our country is both. The type of government we have is, as you say, a constitutional republic, but our form of government is a democracy. These are not mutually exclusive types and forms of government, but different facets of the same government.

    And, as people are pointing out, then we are losing both, the rights and the power of the individual described in the Constitution and laws, and our democracy to oversee the republic as defined in the Constitution. We are slowly becoming a hierarchial republic where the power, rights and votes of the majority are being lost to a small ruling economic and political elite.

    Except now that elite is changing the power balance where the President is not one of three branches of different powers but one encompassing all three branches for its own agenda. And sadly our Congress, in its fear of being unelected because they're not "strong enough" adbicated much of its power to the President.

    And the President's Administration has stolen power from the judiciary in the name of secrecy and the war on terrorism, both of which are shams, not for fighting terrorists - which they easily could do under the old laws by being innovative and persistent in their work (eg. FBI's pre-9/11 knowledge of the terrorists), but for controlling the government to their goals and deny people access to the truth.

    But hey, like everyone else, it's just my opinion.

  3. And I forgot to ask, why is your profile private? Normally I let anyone with a blog on eBlogger post, but I have to say I may change that if people who post comments fear being public. So, what do you have to fear or hide that the light day would show the world?

  4. I didn’t know it was private. It asked for my google account which I provided.
    My own blog is nothing fancy nor am I with goolge for my blog. It is more of a place for family and friends to look around.

    Back to yours and my comment. I have to disagree. We are a republic period. We the people elect individuals to represent us. We do not as individuals draft or vote on or for legislation. That power is invested in the people we elect.

    Thus we are a representative constitutional republic.

    I am not happy with the way our country is headed. Nor do I agree with the people I vote for. That is why I vote and work within the political system to hopefully find / promote and elect a person that has my goals and beliefs.

    Please keep in mind I am a strict Constitutionalist and I don’t disagree with what you say so much as how you say it.
    One of the down sides of being a republic and not a democracy is that a small minority of the population can and does dictate what happens to the majority. We have both seen what small highly vocal groups can do with in a representative republic.


  5. Thanks for the response, and I'll agree that we see government slightly different. We are a constitutional republic which defines the framework of our democracy, where individual have liberties, rights, and protections. Our democracy is majority rule for the protection of the minorities.

    As for "strict constitutionalist", I've never understood that description since The Constition and Amendments only defines the framework of our government and nation. It doesn't get into specifics beyond some relative absolutes - which is another conumdrum, and that is left to the form of our government as a democracy where people have power and votes to elect their representatives and leaders.

    In the end, however, it's that we losing both our republic and democracy, the Constition is under attack by small elected and non-elected groups, including both political parties, and the rights of the individual. Switch words (republic<->democracy), if you want, I don't care - it's not a political science debtate, the results are the same.

    Dare I even say, in this age of Internet surveillence by secret government agencies, we need a revolution?

  6. I agree with you completely. We may see things differently but we both can agree that we as a nation are going the wrong way.

    As for being a constitutionalist, what is not in the constitution is relegated to the state. The federal government has no business being in education, health care and many other such things. That power is left to the state and thus more to the people in that state.

    The constitution spells out the federal governments job very well. But it seems to me that they are more concerned with Iraq or health care or education or (insert your peeve here) than with protecting and securing our borders.

    We sit on different sides of the fence, that’s ok, that is the way it should be. We both want this country to be healthy and strong with a secure future. I suspect we both work very hard to make sure it will!

    Now off to read your next article!

  7. I agree with the interpretation of the Constitution defining roles and responsibilities of the federal and states government. However, it seems the depression, creating massive public works programs, social security, etc. and WW II, with national interests, etc. kinda' killed that notion.

    And while I agree with the separation of federal and state governments, that's what has created the need for better consistency across the nation as states can't do the job anymore without taxing themselves to death or the alternative.

    For example, could Louisana bail itself out of the damage from hurricane Katrina or even sustain the New Orleans without massive continuing federal aid and emergency funds?

    The states needed and got federal aid to ensure national standards, and that's a fair argument, to me at least, for the federal government to get into states' issues as education, health care, minimum wage, environmental protection, etc.

    The problem is Congress has gone too far with some of the funding, especially Defense spending, and special funds and earmarks. And now states are dependent upon federal aid for many programs, such as SCHIP, and can't afford to lose that source.

    And I agree about the borders. Last I heard entry into any country is the front door through legal channels. Our country has the most lax borders and immigration laws of any industrial nation and many other nations. And the sad reality is the solution will be hard to swallow but better down the road for the nation as a whole, something the President, Congress and HSA should think about.

    Interesting debate. Thanks.