Monday, December 19, 2005

The Broken State of the Union

Well, it is time for the first opinion piece. American politics have been getting scarier for a while now as the shrill ends of the political spectrum take over from the increasingly mythical center. Demagogues clash with propagandists, lobbyists carry more weight than constituents, and every idiot with a half-researched opinion can get on to a cable news network. Since the only research I am willing to take the time to do is read a few news sources, I just get to write on the web.

I was originally going to reference the slow death of fair use at the hands of the so-called “content industry.” The themes were going to be corruption and the greed of the few overcoming the rights of the many. It was to be a story about a segment of Big Business failing to keep up with technology and deciding the best way to continue would be to stop the technology. But unfortunately something larger is looming. People are suddenly talking about illegal wiretapping.

Politically, I’m what my Civics teacher might call a reactionary, in the sense that I would like a return to an older way of handling government. Farther to the right than the Right, if you will, more conservative than the Conservatives. Naturally, I hated President Clinton with a passion. Not the man, but rather what the man chose to do with the office of President. He embodied political expedience over principle, the feel good over the do good, and the use of other people’s money as the ultimate panacea. For a while I have considered President G. W. Bush the Republican incarnation of the ideas I hated about Clinton. And now comes the story about executive orders empowering an intelligence agency to eavesdrop on American citizens without any oversight. If the allegations are true, it is a worse affront to the values of the Presidency than even Clinton’s constant lying to protect himself. I believe that historically and constitutionally the founders of this country were pretty clear that the rights of the people were paramount. If the choice is between the rights of the people and the security of the people, the rights must come first. Period.

That said, remember that I am talking about the Federal government here, since I believe that the state and local governments should have a little more room to fit the whims of their communities (which is my reason why things like the death penalty and abortion should be handled at the state level). Also, the NSA has the right to tap foreign communications, so in my completely lay opinion, the tapping of calls coming in to the U. S. is probably legal. The question of whether calls that cross the borders of our country fall under the perview of the NSA is probably something that will have to be adjudicated. In any case, the choice of rights versus security at the federal level is one that has been decided in the wrong direction again and again of late.

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