Thursday, June 23, 2011

Minor Musing about Politics and Liberty

A couple of days ago, The Madville Times posted about the apparent failure to get enough signatures to refer two bills made necessary by federal health care reform.  In the comments, Steve Sibson, Cory, and I were amiably discussing Hegel without a philosophical license. when Sibson ended the conversation by, "The end-game is the same…statism. The frog’s water is now boiling."

Given the topic, Sibson seems to be saying that health care reform will end the Republic.  Big government certainly carries inherent risks, but I've always been confused why health care reform was the issue that animated tea party supporters.

Why wasn't it the Patriot Act? Why did it take 10 years to see reports like this one?
Congress bumped up against the deadline mainly because of the stubborn resistance from a single senator, Republican freshman Rand Paul of Kentucky, who saw the terrorist-hunting powers as an abuse of privacy rights.

Paul held up the final vote for several days while he demanded a chance to change the bill to diminish the government's ability to monitor individual actions.

The measure would add four years to the legal life of roving wiretaps — those authorized for a person rather than a communications line or device — of court-ordered searches of business records and of surveillance of non-American "lone wolf" suspects without confirmed ties to terrorist groups.

The roving wiretaps and access to business records are small parts of the USA Patriot Act enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But unlike most of the act, which is permanent law, those provisions must be renewed periodically because of concerns that they could be used to violate privacy rights. The same applies to the "lone wolf" provision, which was part of a 2004 intelligence law.

Paul argued that in the rush to meet the terrorist threat in 2001 Congress enacted a Patriot Act that tramples on individual liberties. He had some backing from liberal Democrats such as Durbin and Udall, as well as civil liberties groups who have long contended the law gives the government authority to spy on innocent citizens.

"The Patriot Act has been used improperly again and again by law enforcement to invade Americans' privacy and violate their constitutional rights," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington legislative office.
 Why wasn't it NCLB?  Why did it take nearly a decade to read this?
“I think what you’re seeing is the Republican Party going back to its conservative roots and, yes, going back to its core principles and I think that’s a good thing,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in an interview here, adding: “I would argue that we did lose our way for a while.”

Jindal, who was an official in Bush’s Department of Health and Human Services and served two terms in Congress during the Bush era, cites No Child Left Behind as an example of wayward Republicanism.

“How does it make sense for Republicans to be imposing this one-size-fits-all approach from the federal level onto the states and the local school board when we’ve always believed that government that governs closest to the people governs best?” he asked.
Why aren't conservatives angered about situations like this one?
Risen claims the intimidation began under the Bush administration but has continued into the Obama era. "I believe that the efforts to target me has continued under the Obama Administration, which has been aggressively investigating whistleblowers and reporters in a way that will have a chilling effect on freedom of the press in the United States," Risen wrote.
When it comes to basic liberties, I have to agree with E.D. Kain who writes,
Rand Paul is quickly becoming one of the most important voices on civil liberties in the Senate, alongside a small cadre of others like Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden, of Oregon. I think it’s important to get away from the left/right Republican/Democrat politics and work to elect as many civil libertarians as we possibly can.


Several people have pointed out that Rand Paul’s free-speech record is pretty bad. Perhaps the civil libertarian label doesn’t apply. Still, on some level I’ll take what I can get. Paul has voiced sensible opposition to the Patriot Act, the TSA, and the war in Libya. He’s far from perfect, but he’s better than many nonetheless. So far, at least, he hasn’t plotted the assassination of a U.S. citizen.
I'll take every ally I can get in the war to preserve freedoms, but I get really confused by the items that become priorities that motivate anger.  All of the above situations seem to be more of a threat than health care reform which seems to be an insurance company protection act that might hit my pocket book but won't take away basic liberty.

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