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 Message
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/23/2003 6:20:00 AM  

Message 1 in thread 

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>The worst is the third. Thought it was a good idea at the time, but the
>polls change your outlook. Although I would give them a point or two if they
>could give me a couple real reasons for the change (things that actually
>happened that they hadn't foreseen for instance).

The problem is that the bill submitted as the Patriot Act which was ramrodded
through Congress on the theory that if you didn't vote for it you were
therefore Un-Patriotic...is that it wasn't a complete document.

It was hundreds of pages of material that largely referenced *other* documents
not included in the package. So you had entry after entry along the lines of,
"amends sub-section A of regulation B to read "may have" instead of "must
have," and unless you go out and get Regulation B and read it you don't know
what it is you just voted on. There were a lot of senators who wanted more
time to read the thing through, but the Administration wouldn't brook any
delays, and anyone asking for one was marginalized as being against patriotism
and self-defense.

The so-called Patriot Act has led to some of the most egregious acts of the
last fifty years, and then some, commited by our government against its own
people.

Jose Padilla, a low-life but still an American citizen, has been held without
access to an attorney, his family or a judge since May 2002 under provisions
declaring him an "enemy combatant," a term that has no legal standing but is
buttressed by the Patriot Act (which, by the way, in phase 2 which is pending
before congress stipulates that any American citizen can have his citizenship
*revoked* if he is found to be giving money to any agency which may have
unsavory connections, even if he didn't know about those connections, where
previously only a citizen could chose to give up his citizenship).

Hundreds of people -- mostly foreign nationals and some citizens -- are still
being held as Padilla is being held, without charge, indefinitely.

No abuses of civil rights?

Tell that to the National Library Association, which reports that nearly 20% of
its members have been forced to comply with government requests that they turn
over information on reading requests.

Tell that to Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who came to that country as a boy,
went to college, got two degrees, married, went to work for a tech company, had
a wife and kids and was considered a stand-up member of his community, highly
respected...who was arrested without charge whlie passing through the US on his
way back to Montreal and held for *six months* during which time he was sent to
a Jordanian interrogation facility and subjected to inhumane conditions before
being finally released without charge.

No civil rights abuses under the Patriot Act?

Tell that to Donna Huanca, a docent with the Art Car museum, who was handling a
showing of anti-war art (most commissioned pre-911) and who found herself being
questioned by Terrence Donahue of the FBi and Steven Smith of the Secret
Service, who also wanted the names and addresses of the artists in question, on
the grounds that the art was Un-American.

Tell that to A. J. Brown, a freshman at Durham Tech in North Carolina who had
agents from the Raleigh branch of the Secret Service show up because they heard
she had anti-Bush posters in her dorm room. (They had already done background
checks on her, including finding out that her mother is in the military.) She
received further calls from them, including some asking if she were working
with the Taliban...this based on having expressed anti-Bush sentiments.

Tell that to the American Booksellers Foundation, which recently sent a letter
to its member stores saying, in part, that due to the Patriot act "the federal
government expanded authority to search your business records, including the
titles of the books purchased by your customers. . . . There is no opportunity
for you or your lawyer to object in court. You cannot object publicly, either.
The new law includes a gag order that prevents you from disclosing 'to any
person' the fact that you have received an order to produce documents."

The Patriot Act gives the government unprecedented abilities to pry into every
aspect of your private life. They say this is just for tracking terrorists,
but about a week ago the FBI announced that it had successfully used the new
freedoms gained under the PA to pursue a regular criminal investigation, and
the office of Homeland Security was invoked to try and find out where the
democratic congressmen in Texas had fled to in an attempt to stop the massive
redistricting under way there.

I could literally go on for another five pages with just the initial breaches
of privacy and civil rights that have already been committed by this
administration, let alone what's happened more recently, and what is in Patriot
Act II that is even more egregious.

There are a growing number of reps in the Senate and the House -- mostly
Democrats but also a growing number of Republicans -- who feel that they were
taken advantage of in the days following 9/11 and co-opted into passing
something they would never have passed in the open, under other conditions,
trusting that all the sub-references and changes being requested were in
everyone's best interests.

They were not.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/23/2003 6:21:00 AM  

Message 2 in thread 

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>Gore's platform included more gun control. Gun control
>violates the Second Amendment, which guarantees the Right to Keep and
>Bear Arms, which is indeed a civil liberty.
>

Let's be more specific. What it actually says is:

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the
right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

First, the rights invoked refer specifically to "a well regulated militia."
Anti-gun law advocates tend to omit that part of the sentence out, as you did
just above.

Second, most of what's been advocated is simple gun registration, which dose
not interfere itself with the ability to keep and bear arms.

Third, bear in mind that some of the Al Qaeda docs that surfaced during the
campaign refer to the fact that those working inside the US should purchase
guns legally, not buy them off the street, because they're so easy to obtain
here. The resultant theory is that good gun registration laws could help to
prevent the use of such guns by, say, terrorists.

But the administration is too busy prying into your choice of books at the
library to look into who's buying weapons that can, oh, I dunno...kill people.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/25/2003 4:40:00 AM  

Message 3 in thread 

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>That's a good theory, but it just doesn't hold up. If a terrorist can
>construct a pretty decent fake identity -or- steal an existing
>identity, they'll happily be able to register the document using either
>a constructed or stolen identity, completely circumventing the intent
>of those laws.
>
>So, since registration is completely useless in that respect, why
>hassle the law-abiding citizen, especially given the history of
>registration?

Except that your premise is false. The terrorists who hit on 9/11 rented
apartments, vans, bought tickets all *in their own real names*. So we haven't
seen that happen.

Also, the majority of guns that are used in daily crime were stolen from
law-abiding citizens in household robberies or the like. Being able to track
back a stolen weapon could be of great use in legitimate enforcement.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/25/2003 4:40:00 AM  

Message 4 in thread 

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>What does bother me are statements such as the one about how many dems voted
>for it. I hear that and similar statements used time and again as some sort
>of vindication. It's not.

You're correct, it's not. And here's one big reason why it's not.

It's funny how quickly history gets forgotten.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
asked for time to go over the document and he began to ask for some changes.

Then John Ashcroft announced that Congress had *one week* in which to pass the
bill, warning that further terrorist attacks were IMMINENT, and that Congress
would be held to blame for any such attacks if it failed to pass the bill
immediately.

The only way this could be done was to pressure the Senate leaders to push
through the bill WITHOUT allowing for debate or amendment. And this is what
was done.

Democrats were told that the bill had to be passed IMMEDIATELY because more
attadcks were imminent, and weren't given time or opportunity to debate the
bill. That part of the process was shut out by the administration's claims
that it was needed Right Now or more people would die.

Further to the point, of the dubious areas of the Patriot Act that were passed,
there are degrees to which they could be used. They could be used lightly, as
needed...or they could be used as a club. The former was assumed; the latter
was the fact.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/25/2003 4:41:00 AM  

Message 5 in thread 

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>i'm sorry, i forgot, remind me again how many guns were used in the
>combinedattacks of sept 11th? or the wtc attack of 93? or the OK city
>bombing?

None. But we're now in the grips of the pre-emptive administration, and guns
*have* been used to mow down whole schools, there has been talk among the
terrorists about the ease of getting guns here (so that puts it right on the
board), and if the DC snipers don't qualify as a form of terrorism then I don't
know what does. So yes, it is an issue.

But to the point in general that you raise... here's some comedy for you. When
the administration put out the list of things you can't carry onto an airplane,
they made sure that things like nail clippers were included (even though
nobody's used them yet in a hijacking) and left ON cigarette lighters, which
WERE used by the "shoe bomber," after pressure was placed by the tobacco
industry...which kinda makes you wonder where the administration's real
concerns are, doesn't it?

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/25/2003 4:41:00 AM  

Message 6 in thread 

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>The folks who wrote the phrase "well-regulated militia" meant that the
>militia would operate smoothly.

Sorry, that doesn't parse. "Running smoothly" is a qualitative judgement, not
an organizational aspect, and the Bill of Rights was written to be very
practical. The idea that "regulated" meant something different in the 18th
century is one of the sillier things I've heard in a while...that word goes all
the way back to the latin "regulum," and meant then what it means now.

At the time the Bill of Rights was written, there was no telling when we might
be attacked, and we didn't really have the resources for a big standing army.
So you called on the citizenry...and of course the ironic thing is that calling
on them in this fashion usually meant knowing who had guns and who didn't.
Which of course is one form of registration.

Also, you have to put this in context. At the time this was written, the arms
under discussion were single-shot black-powder muskets. T'weren't much else
around.

I think you should be entitled to have all the single-shot black-powder muskets
your heart desires. If they could have foreseen Uzis and AK-47s and MAC-10s, I
think they would've worded that a bit differently.

(As to the "bear arms" provision, which means to carry them...we've accepted
that people can't just walk around armed, and to follow this line for a moment
further...do you think that someone should be allowed to own a gun if he's a
convicted felon? If he's mentally unstable or mentally handicapped? If he has
Parkinson's and can't fire straight? Because if the answer to any of those is
"no," then guess what? You just voted for gun control.)

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/27/2003 8:49:00 AM  

Message 7 in thread 

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>Do US planes have a total no smoking policy yet? Because once
>such a policy exists cigarette lighters will have no valid use.

Yes, but the tobacco industry's argument in getting the lighters on-board was
to say that when flyers land, the first thing they want to do is light up
immediately.

Don't blame me, that's what they said.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/29/2003 10:17:00 PM  

Message 8 in thread 

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>Someone help me out here. IIRC, I *think* I remember reading or hearing a
>news report post-9/11 about a study by the CIA, FBI, NSA, or..? ("We're all
>in the same alphabet soup.") Anyway, it was a study that had been done a
>few years BEFORE 9/11 in which they tried to determine ways that terrorists
>might attack us on our soil. And included in that report was the suggestion
>of suicide teams hijacking our planes and crashing them into key buildings.

Further to the point, a few years prior to 9/11, the CIA helped the French to
stop a plan that called for a plane to be hijacked and flown into the Eiffel
Tower. So the idea that such a thing was unheard-of was simply not true.

Even further still to the point...it would be very easy to know what the
administration knew about the coming attacks, but the Bush administration has
lobbied successfully to keep that part of the information from the
congressional 9/11 probe on the grounds of nationa security...which is ironic
since the whole POINT of the inquiry is to strengthen national security by
finding out what went wrong.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/29/2003 10:17:00 PM  

Message 9 in thread 

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>(Jms at B5) wrote:
>>>Do US planes have a total no smoking policy yet? Because once
>>>such a policy exists cigarette lighters will have no valid use.
>>
>>Yes, but the tobacco industry's argument in getting the lighters on-board
>was
>>to say that when flyers land, the first thing they want to do is light up
>>immediately.
>>
>>Don't blame me, that's what they said.
>>
> And this is suprising exactly how? I don't smoke, but I have been run
>over by people trying to get to the smoking areas after a flight.

Kurt, you're missing the point. I don't know if you're deliberately missing
the point or not, but either way that ain't the point. The POINT is that the
Bush administration, while making a big deal about keeping off planes things
that were NOT used by any real or potentail enemies (like nail clippers) has
allowed ON things that WERE used (a la a Bic lighter by the "shoe bomber," as
silly a sobriquet as you're apt to find)...which tends to suggest that their
concern really isn't about keeping people safe as keeping people *controlled*
while not annoying friends like the tobacco industry.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/29/2003 10:18:00 PM  

Message 10 in thread 

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> I've read stories of numerous people who had cigarette lighters
>confiscated from CHECKED LUGGAGE by TSA employees. I guess the
>"tobacco industry" isn't quite as powerful as you think it is.

Or the employees are taking things into their own hands to be sensible.
Nonetheless, that does not change the essential point: clippers are on the
verboten list, lighters are not.

On the subject of the TSA for a moment -- the Transportation Safety Agency --
is everyone here au courant about the fact that in 2004 the TSA -- which has no
authority as a law enforcement agency, these are the guys who find, search,
check and lose your luggage -- will be instituting a screening program for
flyers?

Under their program, for which they will draw information from a variety of
sources, law enforcement, plus what they call "soft resources," a lovely and
utterly undefined term, you will be placed into one of three categories: green,
yellow or red. Green, you fly no problem. Yellow, they may pull you aside and
check you out a little more carefully. Red...you don't fly and you're subject
to detention.

Note that there is no means in place for correcting faulty information, no
means of veryifying information. One errant typo and you could be pulled aside
and detained. And as for who gets detained...there have been repeated cases of
people who were doing nothing more than showing up at protest marches being
detained or prevented from flying, at minimum missing their planned flights.

What are the criteria for being included in the red or yellow categories?
They'red not being too specific, again for "national security reasons," which
simply means they can do whatever they want with impunity and without having to
justify anything.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 11/29/2003 10:18:00 PM  

Message 11 in thread 

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><jmsatb5@aol.com> wrote:
>> > > None. But we're now in the grips of the pre-emptive administration,
>and
>> guns
>> > > *have* been used to mow down whole schools,
>> >
>> > *whole schools*?
>>
>> Well, I can not speak for all instances, but I CAN definitely say that for
>> the Columbine shootings, while Harris and Kliebold did not kill or injure
>> "everyone," their intent was to kill and injure as many as they could.
>> Hell, they even had bombs (bad ones) placed to try to blow up the entire
>> school! Now granted, bombs are not guns, but it DOES show that their
>intent
>> was to kill everyone if they could. If they could have done it with guns,
>> they would have. Just because no one has YET killed or injured "everyone"
>> at a school with guns, does not mean that they haven't wanted to or tried.
>
>But that's not at all what JMS said... he said, quite clearly, that it
>*has* happened (his emphasis, not mine). In fact, he even used the
>plural, to indicate that not only has this happened, but it has
>happened (n>=2) times!
>
>I'm noticing there wasn't a reply with a citation, so I'm going to have
>to assume there isn't one, and it was just (as I noted) sensationalist
>nonsense designed to evoke a emotional response instead of a rational
>one, which is pretty much one of the signs of a very weak debating
>position.

You know, there comes a point where the debate enters the range of
hair-splitting, and this is one of them.

Yes, Columbine is one example of what I was thinking of. Was every single
student "mowed down," was every student murdered where he or she sat? No. But
to therefore take that one word -- whole -- and totally dismiss the argument is
the worst kind of pettifogging. Was every student at Columbine murdered? Of
course not. But they shot their way down school corridors, through multiple
rooms, the library, the cafeteria, killing everyone they saw, and then blowing
up a section of the library...you may not thing that constitutes "mowing down"
the school, but I'd suggest you try that logic with the parents of the kids who
died that day. I think they would disagree with you.

Strongly.

jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: Gore's speech re civil liberty
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 12/1/2003 11:40:00 AM  

Message 12 in thread 

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>I missed this. I read lots of news every day, and somehow
>I still manage to miss some of the horrors. Does anyone know where I
>could read more about this one?

There are two really good sources for info tracking the latest on what the Bush
administration is doing.

The first is: www.smirkingchimp.com

The second is: www.buzzflash.com

Now, I pass those two on with a couple of caveats. What's good about both
those sites is that they don't actually offer content of their own, they serve
as a source of links to news articles appearing in various real, honest-to-gosh
newspapers and magazines, ranging from the Boston Globe to the Washington Post,
the NY Times, the London Independent, the Chicago Tribune, an assortment of
Canadian newspapers, Newsday, Time, CBS and CNN and on from there.

The Chimp also tends to link to some articles in places that wear their agendas
on their sleeves, and I generally tend to be very critical of anything I see
there. So when linking, notice where you're going and if it's an editorial or
a posting, clearly it bears less weight than an article in an established
publication. (Interestingly, I have found that I read stories that become of
great interest here in the international press long before they come to light
in the US...the Ambassador Wilson story being one such.)

The caveat on the buzzflash site is that their links -- the intro to same --
tends to show more of their subjective bias as well, though they tend on
average to link to more actual publications and fewer blogs or posts than the
chimp.

So as in all things, caveat emptor...but on balance, they provide a terrific
clearing house for tracking what the administration is doing. The thing to
bear in mind is that so much goes on in bits and pieces that it can slip under
the radar screens until you start to put it all under one umbrella, then you
see the larger picture.


jms

(jmsatb5@aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2003 by synthetic worlds, ltd.,
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine
and don't send me story ideas)

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