WORDS OF A WELL-KNOWN AMERICAN

Next month a movie about this American will be released.  Is he a patriot or a traitor?  A villain or a hero?  Do you feel the same way about him now as you did two years ago?

How do your opinions compare?

We all have opinions about our country. While some of us are Democrats and others are Republicans, and while some are Libertarians and others are right of the Tea Party, we can generally all agree on certain aspects of the American government and our basic freedoms. Nobody wants our rights taken away and we all want to be good patriots, but what is a good patriot?

constitution_1_of_4_630

“Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen…” and nothing would seem more certain than this. That is what one well-known American had to say recently, but not all are in agreement with his point of view.

“How can that be?” you might ask. Protecting the country, the Constitution and the countrymen would seem to be the highest priorities for a true patriot.

He added that we also need to look out for “encroachments of adversaries, and those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries.  They can be bad policies.” There are many Americans who believe that bad policies are hurting the country. Ask anyone who claims to be in the Tea Party. They will tell you that Obamacare is killing this country. Ask many on the left and they will tell you lack of gun control is killing our children.

But this is not the sort of thing this well-known American is talking about. It could just be “simple overreach and — and things that — that should never have been tried, or — or that went wrong.”

75-liberty-bell-philadelphia-firstread

So the encroachments on our freedoms could be the sort of thing that intrudes on our privacy.  “If we want to be free, we can’t become subject to surveillance. We can’t — give away our privacy,” he told a reporter.

But is that what we are doing? Are we no longer free if we allow the government into every aspect of our lives? Is it right for them to collect data on our computer use, our telephone calls, our visits to neighbors? Shall they put cameras and sound recording equipment at major intersections? Should they fly drones over our houses to see what we are doing? What is to be done to preserve our American way of life?

“We have to be an active part of our government. And we have to say — there are some things worth dying for. And I think the country is one of them.”

The problem would seem to many that the average person is not an active part of government. People do not vote. They do not become educated on government policies, although they may re-post misleading graphics to Facebook. They do not protest the encroachment on the things we think are protected in the Bill of Rights. They do not speak out.

BillOfRights

Some may believe that we have to give up liberties to stay safe, but this American will question whether recent historical events “justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our Constitution says we should not give up.” It is a tough issue, to be sure. Do you think we should give up freedoms to the government without proof as to why this should be? What about the Fourth Amendment?

It would seem the Fourth Amendment might be encroached upon by some programs at home. Do we really believe “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated?” If so, are recent actions of the government violating this idea?

This American does not necessarily disagree with the government’s need for surveillance but adds, “It’s the dirtiness of the way these things are being used. It’s the lack of respect for the public.”

So do you agree that is the problem with government programs? Are some policies bad, or at least the implementation of the policies, because they do not hold respect for the American people? These matters of government programs and their effects on our lives are a sticky business. Do you think things are worse because Obama is the President? Do you think things were worse when Bush was the President? Do you think we would have been better off with Romney or Mrs. Clinton or even Donald Trump?

Consider carefully and think to yourself how well you agree or disagree with the quotes above? It seems hard to disagree with an American who is defending American beliefs. Do you agree surveillance is necessary for freedom? Are you disloyal if you disagree? Now ask yourself, are you a good American? If you are a citizen of this country my guess is you think you are a good American. Are you a real patriot?

“Do you see yourself as a patriot?” a reporter asked this well know American, now living overseas.

“I do,” Edward Snowden replied.

If I now told you all the quotes above are from Snowden, what do you think of them?  Could your opinion possibly have changed about those patriotic quotes?

Joseph Gordon Leavitt will play the lead in the Oliver Stone film, Snowden.

IT’S LEGAL TO BE A MORON – CLARIFYING THE 1ST AMENDMENT

1st amendment cartoonThe first amendment says you can say, write, or publish whatever you want without fear of being arrested, shot, imprisoned, or otherwise legally penalized. On television, the internet, as film or in print. From your mouth or on your blog, even if what you are saying is incredibly stupid, baseless, and factually incorrect. Even if it offends everyone who reads or hears it. As an American, being a loudmouthed jerk is constitutionally protected.

However. The first amendment does not say you are required to utter, write, film, broadcast, or publish whatever idiocy crosses your mind. Just because you can does not mean you should. The Constitution protects your right to be a moron. It does not mandate you actually behave like one.

Those are your rights. My rights include the right to ignore you.

A right is no substitute for using your brains.

WORDS OF A WELL-KNOWN AMERICAN

How do your opinions compare?

We all have opinions about our country. While some of us are Democrats and others are Republicans, and while some are Libertarians and others are right of the Tea Party, we can generally all agree on certain aspects of the American government and our basic freedoms. Nobody wants our rights taken away and we all want to be good patriots, but what is a good patriot?

constitution_1_of_4_630

“Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen…” and nothing would seem more certain than this. That is what one well-known American had to say recently, but not all are in agreement with his point of view.

“How can that be?” you might ask. Protecting the country, the Constitution and the countrymen would seem to be the highest priorities for a true patriot.

He added that we also need to look out for “encroachments of adversaries, and those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries.  They can be bad policies.” There are many Americans who believe that bad policies are hurting the country. Ask anyone who claims to be in the Tea Party. They will tell you that Obamacare is killing this country. Ask many on the left and they will tell you lack of gun control is killing our children.

But this is not the sort of thing this well-known American is talking about. It could just be “simple overreach and — and things that — that should never have been tried, or — or that went wrong.”

75-liberty-bell-philadelphia-firstread

So the encroachments on our freedoms could be the sort of thing that intrudes on our privacy.  “If we want to be free, we can’t become subject to surveillance. We can’t — give away our privacy,” he told a reporter.

But is that what we are doing? Are we no longer free if we allow the government into every aspect of our lives? Is it right for them to collect data on our computer use, our telephone calls our visits to neighbors? Shall they put cameras and sound recording equipment at major intersections? Should they fly drones over our houses to see what we are doing? What is to be done to preserve our American way of life?

“We have to be an active part of our government. And we have to say — there are some things worth dying for. And I think the country is one of them.”

The problem would seem to many that the average person is not an active part of government. People do not vote. They do not become educated on government policies, although they may re-post misleading graphics to Facebook. They do not protest the encroachment on the things we think are protected in the Bill of Rights. They do not speak out.

BillOfRights

Some may believe that we have to give up liberties to stay safe, but this American will question whether recent historical events “justify programs that have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our Constitution says we should not give up.” It is a tough issue, to be sure. Do you think we should give up freedoms to the government without proof as to why this should be? What about the Fourth Amendment?

It would seem the Fourth Amendment might be encroached upon by some programs at home. Do we really believe “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated?” If so, are recent actions of the government violating this idea?

This American does not necessarily disagree with the government’s need for surveillance but adds, “It’s the dirtiness of the way these things are being used. It’s the lack of respect for the public.”

So do you agree that is the problem with government programs? Are some policies bad, or at least the implementation of the policies, because they do not hold respect for the American people? These matters of government programs and their effects on our lives are a sticky business. Do you think things are worse because Obama is the President? Do you think things were worse when Bush was the President? Do you think we would have been better off with Romney or Mrs. Clinton?

Consider carefully and think to yourself how well you agree or disagree with the quotes above? It seems hard to disagree with an American who is defending American beliefs. Do you agree surveillance is necessary for freedom? Are you disloyal if you disagree? Now ask yourself, are you a good American? If you are a citizen of this country my guess is you think you are a good American. Are you a real patriot?

“Do you see yourself as a patriot?” Brian Williams asked this well know American, now living overseas.

“I do,” Edward Snowden replied.

If I now told you all the quotes above are from Snowden, what do you think of them?  Could your opinion possibly have changed about those patriotic quotes?

Daily Prompt: You’ve Got the Power – And I plan to keep it!

The never-ending election of 2012 gave me a lot to think about. Laws, God, faith, and freedom were suddenly no longer personal issues, but matters of public policy. I have always felt threatened by zealots. I am not zealous about matters of religion. What I believe is a moving target. I think about faith and religion a lot and I’m open to ideas, circumstance and experience. The result is that I don’t have any set of rigid beliefs or principles about faith or God. I was — am — of the opinion that I am not obliged to make a choice on this issue. It’s personal. It’s private. If I feel like sharing it with you, that’s up to me and if you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. I do not require the world to be made in my image or the image of my beliefs.

After a lifetime of pondering and reading, thinking and debating I reached a simple conclusion: I don’t know what The Truth is — and neither do you.

BillOfRights

We already have the very best law we could write. It’s the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In this amendment, the Constitution explicitly prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

This law was adopted on December 15, 1791 as the first of ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights. We don’t need a new law. We merely need to honor the ones we already have. In the spirit of that law, I will let my conscience be my guide and everyone else should do the same.

Americans balk at being told what to do, much less what to think or believe. It’s our national bottom line: to believe, think and feel as we choose. And talk about it, argue about it, write about it, preach about it. And it’s okay because the right to believe is accompanied by the right to proclaim your beliefs to the world. What is not protected — and is explicitly prohibited — is your right to impose those beliefs or force anyone else follow them.

We are a nation of laws and there are so many. We are obligated to obey them or deal with the consequences.

Traffic rules, tax laws, zoning laws. Laws pertaining to education and ownership of property. Registration of vehicles, licenses to practice our professions. We have laws within laws: national laws, state law, local law. Laws of our county, town and village. Laws against crossing the street against a red light or dropping trash on the sidewalk. Rules about where you can go, where you can ride, drive or walk, bring your dog or your children. There are laws about where you can consume food and beverages as well as what food and beverages you can consume and at what age you have the right to consume them. Laws about when we can play music, hold a parade, or smoke a cigarette. There are rules governing every aspect of our lives … except in matters of faith, conscience and personal belief.

We have the right think and believe whatever we choose, and to talk about it without fear of prosecution or persecution.

This is not a Christian country. We have no national religion. We have more Christians — alleged Christians — than any other defined religious group, but that does not give them any special rights under the law. Personally, I came close to accepting Christianity until the bullies of the Christian right decided to try and take all my freedoms away. That was a deal-breaker for me. I might have come to it on my own, but I will not be bullied. I can be convinced, but I will not be coerced.

Flag on our Library

The Constitution of the United States is a brilliant document. It is — as all good legal documents are — subject to change and interpretation based on the realities of the world. The courts and the people have added amendments and altered how its provisions are enforced and applied.

Against all odds, that first amendment has stood the test of time. There’s a reason why it’s up there at the top. It’s the foundation of what we believe as a people, a beautiful thing. We should honor it. In doing so, we also honor ourselves, our country, our Founding Fathers and show that we have faith in our nation’s ability to recognize what is right. Instead of looking for new laws and rules, let’s try following what we’ve got and see how that works out.

– – –

Did you sell your freedom? Did you get the check yet?

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s not by accident that in the Bill of Rights — the preamble to the U.S. Constitution — is the first amendment. It concerns the three fundamental freedoms on which we base our society. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and press and  freedom of assembly — including the right to complain and petition to the government — are basic to our way of life. These are the bottom line. If you take them away, it changes everything.

Our Last Freedom: Wave Bye Bye

Welcome to the new world, because two out of those three freedoms are already gone and we’re working on getting rid of the last one.

Freedom of religion was the primary reasons most Europeans settlers came to North America. Most were looking for a place where they could practice their religion in their own way … not that it stopped them from oppressing anyone who didn’t like their version of religion, but I digress. Hypocrisy is as American as apple pie. The very first settlers came to escape religious oppression, so first and foremost, we guaranteed the right to practice — or NOT practice — religion. This right is absolute. No interference is acceptable. But if all you very Christian fundamentalists have your way, we won’t have religious freedom either. You’ll move your version of God into our classrooms, courtrooms, and bedrooms. Those of us who aren’t Christian or just don’t like your version of Christianity? Tough. You have God on your side, as has every oppressor throughout history.

It doesn’t matter how right you believe you are. You have no right to impose your religious beliefs on me. I have the right to not agree with you, to practice something completely different than you do, and if I so choose, to practice nothing at all. But you’ll never understand that.

The Lost Freedoms

Freedom of speech and of the press has kept this country from losing itself many time throughout the years. Those nosy reporters determinedly seeking truth then telling the world what really happened or is happening have always been our first and best line of defense against oppression.

That protection is gone. It no longer matters what the constitution says. Virtually all media outlets are owned by big corporations whose goal is to sell whatever version of “truth” will make the most money for them. News is company policy. It has nothing to do with truth, right, or wrong.

We have lost that protection — and ironically, we didn’t lose it to the government. The law protects the press from government encroachment. What our founding fathers never considered was that we would sell our freedom to the highest bidders. We didn’t need protection from our government; we needed protection from each other.

The press is owned by corporations made up of people for whom money is everything. Journalists are gone. Now, we have stooges whose job it is to make sure whatever their parent corporation wants, they get. Advertisers have final say on whether or not a story is released. If news makes a major advertiser look bad, it disappears.

Movie and book “reviewers” don’t bother to offer real opinions. Why bother when you can rewrite press releases provided by the studio or publisher? The same thing happens in the world of technology. Writers enthuse and praise hardware and software they’ve never seen or tested. Their “reviews” are based on corporate public relations packets.

Freedom of Speech from the Four Freedoms serie...
Freedom of Speech from the Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell

Our “free press” is gone. Don’t blame the Democrats. Don’t blame the Republicans. Blame yourself because you were too lazy to fight to keep your freedom. You let them hoodwink you, believe whatever you are told like good little sheep.

We are lied to, propagandized, and intentionally misled by politicians, so-called writers, and talking heads who cannot be trusted. If we catch them lying, we say “Oh, everyone does it” and let them get away with it.

If we don’t care about truth, why should they? A lot of us wouldn’t recognize truth if it banged us over the head and many of our most upstanding citizens don’t care whether or not something is true. As long as it agrees with their prejudices and preconceptions, it’s okay with them.

Freedom of assembly? What’s that? Remember Kent State? How about Occupy Wall Street? How freely have they been allowed to assemble?

We aren’t free. We sold our first amendment rights and I never even got a check. Maybe it’s in the mail.

Can we reclaim our freedoms?

What do you think? We the people have been brainwashed. We think freedom of religion means freedom of MY religion, the Christian religion. We don’t care who we trample as long as we win. We don’t protect anything but our own interests and we don’t care who gets hurt in the process. If freedom means you get to do whatever you want and what happens to anyone else is not your problem, then it’s not worth much anyway.

Americans don’t want to see how thoroughly they are owned. Big business bought the press, the electoral process, and you. Me too, though I’m going screaming and kicking. People really think Fox News is news. If they read it in a newspaper, or hear it on TV, it must be true. Whatever anyone proffers as  truth, they believe it without corroboration, despite there being unlimited versions of truth all competing for their allegiance.

Corporate America will never allow we the people to run our own lives again. We will never be allowed to assemble or ask for redress of grievances. There will be SWAT teams to make sure we disperse.

Though we still have freedom of religion, a lot of people are eager to take it from us and plenty more seem more than willing to help them.

We have the Internet, but for how long? We kept that by the skin of our teeth just last week. Don’t think the same corporate interests who tried to push SOPA and PIPA through congress won’t try again. Next time, they’ll wait until you aren’t looking.

Every day, another piece of our freedom gets chipped away. We let it happen. We buy lies. Hate overrules common sense. We vote for anyone who says what we want to hear, even if these are people from whom we would normally not buy a used car. It’s easy to lose your rights, harder to get them back.

At least I grew up in a free country. Do you care whether or not your grandchildren have the same opportunity?

Maybe it’s just as well I’m getting old. I don’t want to see what it’s going to be like in this country in another 50 years. It’s too awful to contemplate.

Constitution of the United States – Official

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

The work of many minds, the U. S. Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise.

The US Government maintains a number of sites that have wonderful resources for anyone who really would like to now what this nation is about. If you have never read the constitution … the whole thing, you should. People are always quoting pieces of it out of context, but it is so much  more — and so much better — than that.

English: This is a high-resolution image of th...
This is a high-resolution image of the United States Declaration of Independence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are the three foundation documents of our nation and every citizen should be thoroughly acquainted with them. Lacking that, everyone who lives here and wants to live here should at least read them, the original, not what someone else says they are. The originals speak for themselves. Most people, most politicians, newscasters, pundits, and regular citizens misquote these documents or take sections out of context that change or distort their intent. Read them yourself. They aren’t long, they aren’t hard to understand.

The "Committee of Five" that drafted...
The “Committee of Five” who drafted the Declaration of Independence. Photo: Wikipedia

We had a remarkable group of people who wrote these documents with a single intent: to make this nation in which we live a good and safe place. They did an amazing job especially considering the times in which they lived and that no one had ever done this before. To craft a nation and a functional government from the ground up (so to speak) was no small achievement. Ours is the original, the first, and in the opinion of many scholars, the best such document ever written. It has proved itself legally sound and adaptable to changing conditions.

These days, everyone and their uncle  Bob seems to think they know better than our founding fathers, those remarkable men who crafted a document that would make us a nation. I doubt these would-be hijackers know much of anything.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

Our Constitution is a brilliant and well balanced document. It allows change to adjust to historical alterations in the world while preventing any one segment of the population or political structure to take over the government. The Constitution protects us from those who would rewrite our laws based on their own biases and agendas. On many levels, it saves us from ourselves.

Madison, Jefferson, Adams and the rest of this remarkable group avoided using  fancy and complicated legalese to produce a document that would be understandable to everyone — with no special training required. Anyone can (and no doubt will) quibble of the precise meaning of this sentence or that, but the overall intent of the document is clear.

To all those who don’t like our Constitution, but claim to be true patriots as opposed to those who want to retain the freedoms we were given on its creation: consider the implications of your own rhetoric. Who is the patriot and who is talking treason? Those who would rewrite the fundamental principles on which our nation and laws are built or those figure we should stick with the Constitution?

The U. S. Constitution was written to be accessible to any average citizen, even a child. Please read it. I am sure you will like it! Don’t miss the Declaration of Independence either. It is pure poetry!

See on www.archives.gov