I was listening to Christian Radio in a red state recently and heard a news break between the adulational Christian soft rock/country exhort Christians to vote their conscious. The commentator was, to my liberal ears, neutral in his repeated statements about voting one’s conscious until he said “I honestly believe that if the liberals win the presidency we will see Christians going to jail.”
Some of what followed I couldn’t hear behind my own laughter, but I think he said something about a liberal senate, house, and presidency having unchecked powers to criminalize evangelicals and jail them for their beliefs.
On the one hand this sort of fear mongering seems just bat excrement crazy, and a fringe not representative of the mainstream of conservative thought. On the other hand…
I got a Toyota Landcruiser as a rental car for the first time. It was kind of absurd as a rental. Oversized and a bit mushy, but otherwise it was a perfectly competent car. I still don’t get the “luxury 4WD” concept. I understand luxury cars – they are about comfort. But I don’t get a vehicle that’s premise is to be durable and tough yet coddles it’s occupants as if they’re eggs. You should be able to climb into a 4WD vehicle covered in mud and not think twice about the interior.
I got a chance to experience the new UAL business class pods on a UAL international flight routed from Zurich through San Francisco to Sidney. As it is one of the first six 767’s out of about 100 with the new Panasonic seat pods, a system-trained UAL employee was on board to answer questions. My observations are:
After almost eight long years of unrelentingly horrible news, of an enervating, depressing, distressing litany of stupidity and manifest religious extremism cloaked in political lies finally, finally there is one slim measure of clear thought, of defense of right of justice of decency.
It is narrowly targeted, it is in defense of the civil rights of a minority, but it is good and right and in the right direction and it deserves our full support.
The Travelers Privacy Protection Act (TPPA) is a bill that attempts to address what should be unconstitutional and illegal searches of electronic devices by DHS. Now most people might not know or even believe if they heard the rumors that DHS has claimed the right to confiscate any electronic device they want anyone carries into the US. They can keep your stuff forever. They don’t have to get permission from a judge, they don’t need probable cause or reasonable suspicion or any legally meaningful threshold to justify these seizures.
Not surprisingly, the DHS is reluctant to give up the convenience of a paperwork and accountability-free operation and there’s not too much evidence yet that they’ve been unreasonable in their use of this power, but absolute power corrupts absolutely and it is merely a matter of time before tales of intolerable abuses come to light unless the usual and assumed checks and balances are applied.
So contact your representative now and support the Travelers Privacy Protection Act, written by Feingold, Cantwell, and Smith. It sets a fairly low but legally significant standard of “reasonable suspicion” for search and limits the search to 24 hours. If DHS needs more time, they must find (either on the device or by other means) justification for “probable cause,” which may justify seizure.
Only the United States presumes such unchecked power to snoop through people’s private lives. No other country will seize devices without any judicial oversight. A very strong argument for applying minimal legal standards to DHS seizure is that failure to do so will ultimately justify other nations taking the same position. While the US has, for the bulk of those who pass under suspicion, protected nominal rights it is not necessarily true in other countries and the data on our laptops and phones might be used for political or industrial gain.
The US must strive to set the standard for protecting rights or we will continue to lose any premise of moral authority in world affairs.
Lots of cops… What for I wonder.