Happy Independence Day?

This is a sad 4th of July for me. It’s one thing to celebrate the beginning of our country, but quite another thing to realize what we have become. I can’t separate the two.

How can I celebrate a country that has allowed the President to have a “kill list” with any person who is merely suspected of being a terrorist on the list? They can be shot or a bomb dropped on them and anyone who is with them when it happens is just collateral damage. What happened to the rule of law, warrants for searches and charges being filed and a trial in a courtroom? We still have indefinite detention, and even if they didn’t detain American citizens (Do you trust them on this? I don’t.), but only non-citizens, what can be done to one will eventually be done to all. Anyone who participates in a protest can be suspected of terrorist activity. There doesn’t seem to be a definition of that word, terrorist. It seems to change with the circumstances and the whims of the accuser.

Our military is misused. We go to war to protect “our interests” rather than defending our country against foreign military attacks.  And speaking of the military – we have been militarizing our city police and county sheriffs. Look at the equipment these guys have these days. Tanks? Huge guns? Drones? OH…drones. Yes, those, too. Won’t be long and we will have thousands of them in our skies. They say this is to “keep us safe”?

Just writing something like this may land me on a list of some sort. I am complaining, after all. I’m looking back at how our founders didn’t trust big government and didn’t want a standing army. They didn’t want a government that could do to citizens even a fraction of what ours can, and does, do to us. I guess this article, along with all of our email, phone calls and whatever else they can gather up, will be in their huge database. If you wonder what I’m talking about, just do a search of “NSA database.”

We have a government agency in our airports that has a Ha-Ha I See You Naked Machine, which one can refuse to stand in front of and have their naked body viewed by a stranger, only to then be mauled by the gloved hands of a different stranger. The only basis for such invasive government activity seems to be that one is traveling. Even Henry Kissinger was groped by TSA agents who didn’t even recognize his name. This one truly turns the 4th Amendment on its head.

The abuses and losses just go on and on.

So, how did this mess happen? I read the other day that someone once asked Alexander Solzhenitsyn how Russia became a Communist state? What happened to allow that? His answer was that “the people forgot God.”

Now, if you have read much of my political or spiritual writings on this blog, you know that I am not in favor of making Christianity into a civil religion. I think when a country declares itself to be a “Christian Nation” and then behaves like ours does, invading countries that have not attacked us, going back on promises made to other countries and to groups of people who were fighting off dictators (ones we didn’t support),  just generally running over anyone who gets in our way, it gives Christianity a bad name worldwide. I don’t care if we have “In God We Trust” on our money, or not. I don’t care for the trappings of a show of religion. The church does not need the support of the state, and in fact, it seems to weaken the church when it has had that. The church, and all religions, only need the freedom to practice their beliefs and to speak out in the public square.

But, what happens when the people forget God? What happens when Christians forget about the dignity and reverence for life? What happens when they forget that all men are created in God’s image and deserve to be treated accordingly? They vote their pocketbook, that’s what. They look at their retirement accounts and want more regulation. We’ve got it, folks, and it’s intrusive.* They look at their bank accounts and vote for more welfare and care of every sort. We’ve got that, too. And everything we get takes something away. It takes our privacy and our dignity in being able to live our lives like adults who are able to care for themselves. We get protection that we need to be protected from.

So, now what we have is a President who has a “kill list” and local police who look like soldiers when they do raids and they act like soldiers, too. We have unreasonable searches in our airports and homes. Our papers (all our communications) are subject to the scrutiny of the federal government without our knowledge or consent. No dignity. No respect. This is what happens when we forget God.

*Someone showed me the questionnaire that is required by the Dodd-Frank Act. It asks not only about investments, but also, “For Natural Person, Estate, and Trust clients: Is the client, clients (sic) family member or other person who shares the client’s household a government official?” If the answer is “Yes” they want the name, relationship to the client, jurisdiction, etc.

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SOPA & PIPA

Tomorrow is the Big Day. There will be an internet blackout by some sites in protest of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). I won’t be online tomorrow. If I can figure out how to make my whole blog private I’ll do that, unless I figure out how to post a protest banner or something. The technical stuff gets ahead of me. But free speech, I understand.

A lot has already been written about what this is and why folks are upset, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. But for those of you who may live in other countries and don’t know what all the fuss is about, I’ll say this: We already have laws against content piracy with consequences for the thief. I’ve heard of people going to jail for downloading music illegally. In my opinion, that’s pretty harsh. What more do they want? Hollywood wants providers to be held accountable. So, sites that have something posted that has been stolen could be shut down without a trial or anything.

We have already seen our government hold people in detention without charges, and now they have written it into our laws, so American citizens can be held indefinitely without charges. Last night in a political debate we heard Mitt Romney tell us we are supposed to trust him and President Obama with indefinite detention! We are mauled by TSA agents and exposed to radiation and humiliation by scanning machines at our airports in order to “keep us safe” while our Constitutional rights against unlawful searches are ignored. Our government has even had European governments protesting when  they wanted the internet providers who are located in Europe to keep records of emails for longer than EU law allows. The laws in Europe concerning this take a person’s right to privacy into account. We are seeing our rights chipped away bit by bit. If they are able to pass these bills, or any others like them, we could see sites shut down supposedly because they contained pirated content, while the effect would be to stifle our ability to speak to each other concerning our government. Some of us can easily envision our government, who thinks we need to be humiliated at airports and held without charges, (and even more, but isn’t this enough?), shutting down the internet site by site in order to keep public peace. I read that Occupy Wall Street set up their website in Canada to keep the US from shutting them down. See what we are facing here?

I’m only one person, but I’m not the only one. Even if I was, I’d still protest. I’m going to go now and catch up on some email. I won’t be online tomorrow.

ADDENDUM: I just read a blog by Reddit that explains a lot more about this than I previously understood. This is bad in so many ways. Here’s a quote: “SOPA and PROTECT IP contain no provisions to actually remove copyrighted content, but rather focus on the censorship of links to entire domains.” Please go here and read this blog; it’s really good!

ADDENDUM II: I managed to get the Stop SOPA ribbon that WordPress provided on my Home Page. Now I’ll just clean a closet or do some art or something tomorrow. When the protest is over, I plan to come back and write about some birds.