Archive for the 'Law' Category

14
Jul
08

Warrantless Wiretapping and You…

I must say, I was rather blindsided by the recent warrantless wiretapping move by Bush and the Justice department. I have been even more intrigued by the many varied and interesting takes on it’s legality. However after looking at all the different sides of the argument, I am confronted by some rather disturbing points that lead me to a rather disturbing conclusion.

Among the articles I read was an interesting article by a Harvard Political Review writer who makes the seemingly irrefutable claim that not only are warrantless wiretaps legal, but they are necessary. The article makes a strong argument for the legality of the new law, however I couldn’t help but notice that it made some rather glaring assumptions in two important aspects. It seems to make the president entirely immune to the law, and it does not actually explain why this is even necessary…

Is the president not subject to the law?

First, the fact that any legislative change had to occur for this would indicate that it was not legal prior to the enactment of these changes. This would mean that Bush had, in fact, committed a crime, and is In effect, rewriting the laws to make his actions legal after the fact.

I don’t know about you, but I was not aware that as president of the United States of America, you were allowed to do whatever you wanted. Yes, as president, you are vested with much more power than the average citizen. But You are still a citizen, and STILL beholden unto the law. In fact the president should be even more so than the average citizen.

I find it irritating that Bush is treating the law of this country like his own personal diary, and Ignores and rewrites them to suit his purposes. This last act is just another in a long string of actions to legitimize actions that would clearly have been illegal had he been subject to the same laws as everyone else. If the president of the United states is simply allowed to change laws whenever it suits their fancy, then the laws become meaningless.

Is it really necessary?

Now even if we disregard the legality of his actions, there is still the issue of the actual need for such a law. This new legislation ostensibly makes it OK for anyones privacy to be invaded without explanation or accountability, so long as it is for the purposes of international surveillance. Here’s what makes no sense to me. The whole purpose of the warrant, as I see it, is to demonstrate a valid need for such an invasion of privacy to occur. This step is needed in order to prevent the abuse of innocent civillians on a random whim. It is there to prevent the needless violation of an American Citizens rights.

Why, exactly, would the government see the need to be able to wiretap anyones phone without a warrant? I do not get this part. Is the government unable to carry out wiretapping programs because of the current laws? And if so, why would that be? Perhaps because they would be illegal otherwise? And is there not a good reason for it’s illegality? Why is it so damaging (according to Bush) to have legal oversight of his international wiretapping programs?

Lets face it, these wiretaps are primarily going to be on US soil, so don’t kid yourself, this is just as much about the legalization of the violation of the rights of American Citizens as it is about fighting terror. Personally, I see no advantages of warrantless wiretaps. And what’s even more telling, is that in spite of the massive media coverage on the issue, there is precious little discussed by anyone, about why, exactly, warrantless wiretaps are a useful, effective and necessary anti-terrorism tool. In fact, I could find no articles that convincingly covered any good solid benefits to it. None. Not one.

Don’t beleive me? Try it yourself. And I’m not talking about the possible benefits of wiretaps on US soil. I mean any concrete reasoning and or evidence/proven benefits for warrantless wiretaps as opposed to the judicially approved warrant based approach. Go look for yourself. And please come back and tell me I’m wrong. Because what really bugs me (pun intended) is that this law effectively also opens the door for a wide range of other wiretap programs that they need not tell anyone about. You do the math.

My conclusion…

There are only two possible advantages I see to this, and neither of them are particularly encouraging good.

First, there is effectively no legal accountablility. None. If you are not required to get a warrant, you don’t have to justify your actions, and you can effectively do whatever you want. This is not a good thing. That process exists to prevent mistakes, keep people in authority in check, and most of all, make sure no laws are broken. Now… Nada.

The second, and rather galling reason, in this bloggers humble opinion, is that under the new law, Bush can no longer be held liable for his illegal actions. My take? There is no need for Warrantless Wiretaps. The prez is simply trying to avoid massive lawsuits…

Obama’s support for the FISA “compromise” – [Salon.com]
Senate Approves Bill to Broaden Wiretap Powers – [New York Times]
Bush’s Wiretapping: Legal and Necessary – [Harvard Political Review]
NSA WARRANTLESS SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM – [Federation of American Scientists]
Three Media Mistakes on Warrantless Wiretapping – [Electronic Frontier Foundation]
The Threat to our Freedoms: President Bushs Authorization of Warrantless Wiretapping – [Espionage Unlimited]

Advertisements
13
Jun
08

Subjective Objectivism and Road Rage…

A recent incident got me thinking about how ones emotions and perceptions affect ones Judgment on the road. Now I will readily admit to being a bit of a lead foot, and this often puts me in a unique position in terms of how I view traffic, as I tend to always be one of the faster vehicles of the road.

However even from your Sunday driver perspective, the reactions of some other drivers make no sense to me. Here’s one (out of numerous examples) of what I’m talking about.

So I’m moving along in the passing lane, going by a string of cars moving slower than I, when I encounter an SUV, just cruising in the passing lane. Now, as I stated before, I’m admittedly a leadfoot, but I’m not entirely inconsiderate. This vehicle is not moving particularly fast, but there are cars in the lane to this drivers right, and so I just hang back and wait for the driver of this humongUV to have an opportunity to move over to the cruising lane. About five minutes later, this SUV clears the cars to the right, and comes up on a stretch of road with no other cars for about half a mile ahead.

Now In my mind, I’m thinking “OK, now this driver should move over to the right, and let me pass.” Not necessarily because I think the driver should be able to read my mind, but rather because the shoulder of this particular highway is sprinkled generously with “Stay right except to pass” signs. Now common sense would dictate that a driver, confronted by a quarter mile of empty road between them and the next closest vehicle ahead, and repeated confirmatory signage, would move to the right, right? You would think so wouldn’t you. Except I wait for about a minute, then two, (maybe even three) and…

Nothing. No blinker, no attempt to change lanes, not even a glance to the side. After a mile or so of cruising like this, I’m beginning to think this driver is zoned out or something. Nonetheless, we are coming up on another group of cars, and not wanting to spend the rest of my life stuck behind Miss Daisy’s driver, I decide to pass this vehicle on the right. Now here’s where the fun begins.

As soon as I signal, get into the right lane and start to accelerate to get around this massive canyonero, it SPEEDS UP!! And no, I’m not talking just a little faster. I’m talking pedal to the metal, “Pass me over my dead body…” speed. Now for a second I’m a little perplexed. Then, seeing that we are rapidly approaching a body of vehicles, my lead foot instinct kicks in, and having a much faster vehicle, I simply gun it and go around the rapidly accelerating hulk of steel.

Now perhaps I cut back over into the passing lane a little closer than this driver would have liked, (I don’t think I did, however I’ve learned that perceived safe passing distances to be a subjective thing), or I somehow inadvertently upset this drivers paradigm of the universe, or maybe being passed just didn’t sit well with this driver, but their reaction thereafter was… I’ll describe it as… very intruguing.

Because as luck, (or my lack thereof) would have it, we were stuck in a clump of cars with a similar Sunday driver in the lead, and Mr/Mrs. Canyonero took to tailgating me to within six inches of my rear bumper for the next few miles. Because clearly, I had passed unsafely/cut them off, and this driver felt that I needed to be taught how to drive safely. Eventually I wearied of this game, and threaded my way through every little nook and cranny I could find in traffic, knowing it could not follow, until I was clear of the irate steel monster…

Now here’s the question. What is it with the “lane hog” mentality? I fail to understand this. If you want to drive at 10mph below the speed limit, by all means, do so, but why sit in the passing lane while doing so, and impede all other traffic who actually would like to drive at the limit? If you all go look at your drivers manuals, you will realize that the far left lane is a PASSING LANE, NOT a DRIVING LANE.

Why then, do people guard the left lane as if their very lives depended upon it? Is it so difficult to stay in the right lane until you need to pass? And even if you are passing other vehicles at a good clip, if the next vehicle is a good quarter mile ahead of you, must you sit in the left lane until you get there? Does it take that much effort to change lanes?

And perhaps the most perplexing behavior are those who cruise at some constant (but relatively low) speed in the left lane, but suddenly accelerate to prevent you from passing if you try to pass them on the right! In the name of all things good in the world, what is your malfunction? If you want to cruise at Xmph, then cruise at Xmph, I certainly won’t hold that against you. And while annoying, I can see (sometimes) where it does make sense to stay in the left lane.

But if you cruise in the left lane, with no other cars to your right, and a string of cars behind you, and you fail to understand why you need to move over to the right, you NEED remedial driving lessons. Or a wet trout to the face. Whichever would be more effective. And if, in the stated scenario you decide you need to actively and aggressively prevent another vehicle from passing you on the right, then you need both remedial driving lessons and COUNSELING.

Why? Because honestly, If you do all of the above, you have got to have some rather serious issues.

Now I’ll also mention that, on most roads, moving out of the way of vehicles that are moving faster than you is not only a common sense act of courtesy, in many places, it is the law. Not that I place much stock in the validity of all of the laws of the road nowadays, but people constantly cite the speed limit as the reason why they should not have to move over. I hear things like “I was driving at the speed limit, so anyone who wants to pass me will be speeding, so nobody should need to have to pass…”

LOL What?

Seriously, if you are worried about people obeying the law, then you need to obey the law yourself and move over, you little hypocrite…

And perhaps the most irrational actions come from those who go into full “Road Rage” when people who try to circumvent thier inconsiderate (and illegal) road hogging behavior, in the only way they have available to them. Passing on the right.

Now I understand that for some folks, ones car is considered an extension of their home. And as a result, people tend to treat road incidents like they have been accosted in their own living rooms. Well, let me point out a few things to remember.

First, If you truly, honestly feel like your car is an extension of your home, then you should fully expect that everyone else feels the same. And hanging out in the left lane is the equivalent of making everybody else wait in line for the bathroom. Treat the left lane like the bathroom.

Do your business and get the heck outta there as fast as you can. If you don’t you should not be surprised or angry when people start banging on the door. If you are, then you are fully admitting that you are being a selfish, inconsiderate jackass.

Here’s the reality check: Even if you consider your car an extension of your home, you also just so happen to cruising your mobile La-Z-Boy on public roads that you have to share with everyone else. Stop acting like the road is there for your use alone. I have a tendency to speed, I will admit that, but I also stay out of everyones way, avoid tailgating as much as possible, and generally try to be mindful of the needs of other drivers. And If I see someone moving faster than I, I get the heck out of their way, regardless of how fast they are going. In fact it is in your best interest to do so. Any other mentality is simply foolish.

Honestly. If you are one of those people who consciously just cruise in the left lane all the time regardless of what’s going on, you are an inconsiderate jerk. And if you are of this ilk, and also actively and aggressively attempt to deter any attempts to pass you, then you are a jerk who needs some serious counseling…

08
Jun
08

Irresponsible Youth or Irresponsible Parenting?

Yesterday I read an article about an underage girl, Alisha Dean who, at 13 years of age, decided to trawl the internet for some men with which to “get her groove on”, using a myspace page that depicted her as a 19 year old divorcee. The end result? Two men in jail for statutory rape.

Williams, 22, went to see Alisha Dean’s father, Jerry Dean, after several dates with Alisha. Alisha had told Morris Williams she was 18. Her Myspace (now edited and private) said she was 19 and divorced. But after having sex with Alisha, Williams got worried. Things she said and did tipped him off, and he went to see Jerry Dean, who told Williams that yeah, his daughter was only 13. Then Jerry Dean called the police to press charges. – [The Dreamin’ Demon]

The saddest part of all of this, in my mind, is that the latest victim of Alishas lies and deception, Morris Williams, tried to do the right thing when he discovered that she was underage. He went straight to her parents. Specifically, her father . Who promptly had him put in jail.

I looked at the various pictures floating around on the internet, (There is one on the site linked to below) and quite surprisingly, Alisha does not look like a 13 year old. And her (now corrected and private) myspace page, certainly comes across as a young (but legal) divorcee looking for a distraction. I bring this up because I asked the same question many others will ask: “Well how do you confuse a 13 year old with a 19 year old?” Well, call me gullible, but if you asked me how old Alisha was, based on her pic and her MySpace page, 13 would be somewhere out in left field…

Here’s what I think. Statutory rape laws exist for a good reason. Young men and women are more likely to have poor judgment, and are easier to take advantage of than adults. These laws are intended to protect them from themselves. However, I also think that, as with any law, there are always exceptions. To write laws in such a way that they deny that possibility, paves the way for frequent gross miscarriages of justice.

And in this case, there are a lot of things wrong with the way it’s written. In particular, they overlook several rather glaring problems. Like, for instance, legal adulthood does not automatically make a young adult wiser, smarter or any less prone to deception. The transition from 17 to 18 years of age, by itself, does little in the way of added life experiences.

And also, and more importantly, the fact remains that even older, more experienced people are not immune to deception and lies, and may end up in violation of these laws with no knowledge or intent to do so. And In my opinion, any law that can be accidentally broken by someone who had absolutely no intention of doing so, and had no way of avoiding the violation without employing unusual or unreasonable means (eg “card” every date), is a bad law.

But even more unfortunate, is that there is an rather serious side effect to laws that are written this way. They are very easy to abuse. They make the presumption that youth is an acceptable excuse for bad behavior. Newsflash people! IT IS NOT. Only in the mind of a parent who has failed to properly discipline and raise their kids does this make any kind of sense. But this allows underage people to act in a socially unacceptable manner with relative impunity. This, I beleive is perhaps the biggest flaw with this law.

But perhaps my biggest issue with this case in particular, is that Alishas parents, and her father in particular, have failed to acknowledge the error of their daughters ways. And, more to the point, he has not appeared to have taken ownership of the fact that he has a loose, mature looking daughter seducing men into underage sex. How can you have this happen twice, and yet still jump wholeheartedly onto the “He should go to jail for sleeping with my underage daughter” bandwagon? Wouldn’t a responsible parent be asking “What is wrong with this picture?”

At what point, seeing the great lengths that your daughter has gone to engage in an illegal activity, do you, as a parent, step in, and try to steer your child right? When she starts asking about the Kama Sutra? When she starts asking if the spare bedroom could be converted to a nursery? During the baby shower? When?

Having no insight into the Dean household I can only speculate, but the fact that Alisha’s Myspace page apparently seems to remain up, and Alisha has not been grounded, with no cell phone, no TV, no BlockBuster, and and no internet, for life, personally, I think Alishas parents need to be in the jail cell next to Morris Williams…

Alisha Dean Doesn’t Look – Or Act – 13 – [The Dreamin’ Demon]

18
Dec
07

Disney characters are not immune from the law…

Apparently, even fictional Disney cartoon characters are subject to the law. At least in Italy. NOT!:

Tweety may get a chance to take the witness stand and sing like a canary. An Italian court ordered the animated bird, along with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and his girlfriend Daisy, to testify in a counterfeiting case.

In what lawyers believe was a clerical error worthy of a Looney Tunes cartoon, a court in Naples sent a summons to the characters ordering them to appear Friday in a trial in the southern Italian city, officials said. – [Yahoo/AP]

HA. Yeah Right. Tell ya what. Tweety may be a canary, but he isn’t gonna sing like one. And let’s not forget Mickey Mouse is an old Gangsta. The Italian Mafia ain’t got nuthin’ on Old “G”s  like Mickey M. He and his family run Disneyland, and they ain’t takin’  no nonsense from the law. The Italian authorities know how the Disneyland gang rolls. That’s why they are scrambling to remove their names from the subpoena. Ain’t nobody tryin’ to git whacked or nuthin’.

Heh. They’re lucky if Daisy Duck didn’t actually hear about it otherwise she would have insisted Donald put a hit out on someone for it…

Tweety, Donald Duck summoned to court – [Yahoo/AP]

17
Dec
07

Personal Responsibility: an archaic ideal?

What happened to the days when people took responsibility for not only thier own actions but the results if accidents that happen to them?

 An injured woman who slipped in an Alaskan parking lot can sue the federal government for failing to remove snow and ice, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Monday. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

When did it become par for the course for people to sue for slipping and falling on ice? More importantly, why does that make sense to anyone? People don’t intentionally put ice out to make people fall. It’s not a malicious act. It’s an act of nature. Why should anybody be forced to expend the time, energy and/or cash clearing out their own sidewalk? Because it’s on their property? Hogwash!

So what happens if nobody owns the land that you happen to slip and fall on? Who do you sue? God? Mother Nature? How dumb is that? How can it be the rule of the land that if you have an accident on someones property, they are automatically at fault for it, even of they have successfully avoided any similar accident for years?

How about people stop blaming everyone else for accidents that are often just the fault of their own carelessness? How about being more responsible, like walking more carefully when they see ice? Or waiting for hot coffee to cool down before drinking it? These laws shield those who lack common sense, are allowing people to become dumber and dumber every day. Before you know it, we will all be stupid Eloi, hunted and consumed by legal Morlocks…

In icy Alaska, Army can be sued over fall – [Yahoo/Reuters]

10
Dec
07

A shave and a haircut does not a new man make…

A recent traffic stop prompted an unusual tactic by the vehicles owner:

Police said a Somerset County man fled a traffic stop, went home, shaved his mustache and changed his clothes, and reported the truck he was driving as stolen. – [Yahoo/AP]

Huh. So this dude flees a traffic stop for a simple faulty equipment violation, and tries to pull a Dana Carvey “Master of Disguise!” routine on the authorities. I’m sorry dude. Don’t quit your day job. Honestly, you ought to have a plastic surgeon on retainer for that kind of thing. Really.

Actually a better way to deal with situations like these is to lead police on a high speed chase that ends with you driving off a pier into some frigid water. That way nobody gets to see your face, and you could swim away from your sinking vehicle, take off your clothes, climb up on the beach and act like your sunbathing. Nobody would notice. Seriously.

Worst case scenario, you get trapped in your car and drown. But that way your are guaranteed not to get a ticket…

Hmmmm. Something’s different about you – [Yahoo/AP]

08
Dec
07

Teen MySpace Suicide. Preventable, but not the way you think…

An article today talked about a teen who committed suicide after a rather cruel Myspace prank:

The parents of Megan Meier of Dardenne Prairie, who hanged herself last year, said her suicide came minutes after she received mean messages through the social networking site MySpace. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now that is very tragic. Teen suicides are probably the saddest thing that can happen, and probably the most devastating thing that can occur to a parent.

A police report said that a mother from the neighborhood and her 18-year-old employee fabricated a profile for a teenage boy online who pretended to be interested in Megan before he began bullying her. – [Yahoo/AP]

OK now this is just plain mean and senseless. Some people really need to get a life. That 18 year old seriously needs a date or something…

After the case became public, Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt asked lawmakers to review state law to see if changes were necessary to better deal with cases that involve Internet bullying. Some municipalities have also considered or passed statutes to strengthen laws that deal with Internet harassement. – [Yahoo/AP]

Ah, of course. The obligatory knee-jerk, parent activist motivated legislative law passing that is bound to bite us in the rear at some point in the future…

What is truly sad about this incident, isn’t that internet laws aren’t tough enough, bullying laws aren’t tough enough or even, as an extreme example of the futility of this kind of lawmaking, that suicide laws aren’t tough enough. The truly sad thing was that the teen wasn’t tough enough.

Here is the thing. I have known kids who were beaten down and abused daily by their parents, who did not kill themselves. I’ve seen kids grow up in environments that would mentally cripple an adult. But they actually became tougher, stronger and more resilient.

When I was growing up, many of my friends and I were subjected to actual physical bullying. Not stupid disparaging emails. Actually, we didn’t have email. I would have preferred to be bullied by email. But the thing is, none of us contemplated suicide, only survival. None of them have committed suicide. Not one.

My point is this. The internet bullying isn’t the big problem. It’s the way kids today are raised. The ones that commit suicide tend to have considered it long before they ever do, and need special treatment. Or even better yet, to have been raised differently.

If it isn’t internet bullying, it will be failing a test, buckling under peer pressure, failing to achieve a goal later in life, who knows. No law will prevent that mindset. But good parenting, and where necessary, the right treatments, can. So let’s quit making stupid knee-jerk laws, and focus on how to treat suicide prone teens, indeed how to properly raise our kids so they don’t become suicide prone teens.

Seriously, if all it takes for your teen to kill themselves are mean emails from someone they really don’t even know, don’t you think there must be something else terribly wrong?

No charges in MySpace suicide case – [Yahoo/AP]




Feed Your Inner Objectivist

Add to My AOL
October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031