Happy Fourth

I hope we can take this day and reflect not on war and violence but on peace and honest discourse. A look at our American history draws  the conclusion that we have rarely lived up to the ideals set out in the Declaration of Independence. We should take a moment to celebrate the dissenters from the use of violence as a means to an end in this country and around the world. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t practice at home what we supposedly preach around the world. We support regimes  who are the antithesis of the ideals set out in the document that we adopted 240 years ago. Why? To protect a source of energy that’s use pollutes the atmosphere. It is time to stop and take a new approach to our life at home and our presence abroad. We have much work to do in our cities and towns and must succeed there before we can be any type of an example around the world. Sadly our political process does not seem to produce the type of individuals who recognize  this imperative. It is up to each and every one of us to change and bend the course of the American future in the direction set out by our founding fathers two and one/half centuries ago.

Utah v Streiff

A person leaves a location which is being surveilled for narcotics activity. He is stopped by the police who search him and recover narcotics. There was no probable cause for the stop. There was no “reasonable suspicion” for the stop other than the location from which the individual was seen leaving just prior to the stop. After arrest, the police learn that the individual has a “warrant” for an unpaid traffic violation from years before. It would be argued that as the above stop was no good, then the evidence was inadmissible as “fruit of the poisonous tree”. This has been the bench mark of the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure as secured by the Fourth Amendment. Not so fast says the Supreme Court in Utah v Strieff as the discovery of the warrant post arrest now legalizes the unlawful recovery of evidence.Guess who wrote the opinion?

In a followup, I guess we should not be surprised by…

Activists question Chicago police use of cell phone tracking technology

Since at least 2005, the Chicago Police Department has had equipment that can locate cell phones by their signals. While the department says it uses the equipment only to locate people during criminal investigations, some activists are seeking information about whether police used the technology on lawful protesters or innocent bystanders.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Chicago Reader found that police began at least six investigations…

Read more:

We would like to but we can’t tell you….

According to a recent report, Law Enforcement across the country are seeking funds for a super-secret device created by the Harris Corporation that can track cell phones, emails, and other data by acting like a cell phone tower and is small enough to fit in a suitcase. While it might focus on particular source, it can sweep the whole area in which it is located. It costs upwards of 500,000 dollars and goes by various names (StingRay, Kingfish) and is the rage of law enforcement at the moment. The problem is whoever buys it cannot talk about it as they are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. So taxpayer money will be spent (annual cost after initial purchase is approximately 40 thousand dollars a year) on a product whose name brand will not be revealed, will not be seen, will not be demonstrated, and we will not know when it is employed or what will be done with the data acquired by its use.

When one considers that the only terrorists threats that seem to have been thwarted before they happened are ones created by the government itself, I question the expenditure of any public funds for the above purpose. We are heading to 1984 and constant government surveillance without an iota of probable cause and we don’t seem to really care. Wake up America…


Crisis on the Border…

Of all of the problems and travails our society faces today, the gathering of refugee children on the Texas border seems the most depressing and frustrating to this writer. I speak not to the reasons these young children risk life and limb to escape the suffocating poverty and violence of their birthplace. Conditions which to an extent can be traced to our “War on Drugs” and the collateral havoc it has generated. I speak to the reaction of those who would send these unfortunates back to the hell that is their homeland. I believe this includes the Administration which says one thing on the subject but seems to be doing another. All I hear the president saying is we have to send them back. Why? We are a land of immigrants. These are children. What is wrong with us? There is a segment of our society that has truly lost its way when they can appear at the border and scream at these little children to go back home. I believe this reflects a real, deep sickness in this country and I fear for the future if this sickness festers. There are lessons to be learned from history as what happens to a society when it loses its way as ours seems to have done and turns itself inward in fear and isolation. The behavior of some on this issue shows that we are not the shining city on the hill but more the dark alley of hatred and despair. This is a moment where this country can truly stand out as a beacon of freedom and safety. We are failing this moment miserably.


Paul Krugman writes….

The top twenty five hedge fund managers made a total of 21 billion dollars last year. This is twice as much as all of the kindergarten teachers in the country combined. Those teachers are smart, highly educated and work hard as I am sure some of the hedge fund managers might. But let us not pretend this vast amount of wealth is good for job creation. These men only speculate… they do not create. If they disappeared tomorrow the fate of their fellow man would hardly change.  What this shows that the income gap in this country is real, it is growing and it is not earned in conjunction with other societal benefits. In fact the vast wealth in this country today was inherited and not created by job creators or hard work that also benefited others.It is only a matter of time that inherited wealth will be the biggest source of great wealth. What is the history of societies who experience such a large gap between the haves and have nots….that history suggests revolution in one form or another. Jefferson said such was essential for the survival of democracy. I wonder…