General Reveals Shaky Grip on 4th Amendment

General Michael Hayden, the Office of National Intelligence's deputy director of National Intelligence, the redundancy is a sign of things to come, was asked a very important question:

QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use --

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually -- the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But the --

GEN. HAYDEN: That's what it says.

QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But does it not say probable --

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says --

QUESTION: The court standard, the legal standard --

GEN. HAYDEN: -- unreasonable search and seizure (Philadelphia Inquirer).

If this does not chill you to the bone, then perhaps I should remind you, and Gen Hayden what the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution actually says:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Could someone please send them a copy of the Constitution? Or better yet, could someone enforce it? The Constitution can only be changed by amendment. Neither the courts, the congress, nor a president who thinks he's an emperor can change it by will. There is a process and it must be followed.

Gore: Domestic Spying threatens Structure of Government

WASHINGTON _Former Vice President Al Gore asserted Monday that President Bush “repeatedly and persistently” broke the law by eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant and called for a federal investigation of the practice (Yahoo! News).

It is good to see a Prominent Democrat speaking honestly and not equivocating about dangerous overreach of power by a presidency that believes it has imperial power.

I do have to say, I wish this Al Gore would have ran in 2000 with someone other than that traitor to the Constitution (Joe “Never Question the Emperor” Liebermann). Perhaps this is a good sign of things to do.

Evangelical Taliban v ACLU before the Supreme Court

by C.E. Dorsett Okay actually, the cases are Van Orden v. Perry, 03-1500, and McCreary County v. ACLU, 03-1693 [full story]. They are both cases involving those ghastly Ten Commandments monuments on Government Land! Now I hope the Court follows the tradition and law of the United States and continues to say that these displays are patently unconstitutional, but three justices have already made up their mind, and they are not on the side of the people, they are on the side of the Evangelical Taliban.

I have a strong opinion on these issues. I recite the Ten Utterances every week as part of my prayers, and just look around the site for a while and you will notice that I am a kind of religious person, but what these evangelicals are trying to do is wrong morally, religiously, and politically.

The Moral Argument (1)

It is wrong to force your religious opinions on others using the force of law. We are fighting a war against people that did that in Afghanistan, and are attempting to do it globally. It is amoral at best, and immoral at worse to wage a war to defend democracy from the encroachment of anachronistic, intolerant, solipsistic religion in the world only to allow it to thrive and take over our government here. It is simple: do you support the Taliban or not?

I, for one, believe that a religious state is always a dangerous state, to its citizens and to the world. We where right to topple the Taliban, and we mustn't allow one to entrench itself in this country. (Oops... a little late for that... I guess we'll just have to take this country back from the extremists too.)

The Moral Argument (2)

The double standard: if you want to post a message supporting of ethical conduct, why not post the five precepts of the Buddha?

  1. To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings.
  2. To undertake the training to avoid taking things not given.
  3. To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct.
  4. To undertake the training to refrain from false speech.
  5. To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness.

There is nothing objectionable in these five precepts. Nothing to even identify them as being from a particular religion at all. No Sectarian God to obey, no magic words not to say, no holy days to keep... just pure simple morality/ethics. Why not use these or come up with five, or even ten complete no sectarian sentences that will provide moral clarity to our fellow citizens?

Because morality is a front! This has nothing to do with the moral character of society, or acknowledging our history. It is a way for these evangelicals to propagate the myth that they are persecuted for their beliefs. It is about fear and power, because if they were Christians they would know that Christ himself condemned what they are trying to do.

The Religious Argument

To be honest, these “evangelicals” practice some strange New Age religion that claims to be Christian, and claims to be historic, but it relies on dangerous heresies and sociopaths (Darby, Wigglesworth, et al.) to connect itself to Christian history and tradition. I have nothing against a little heterodoxy from time to time to keep the faith on its toes, but you have to be honest. They are not Christian, and what's worse they are in clear violation of the teachings of Christ!

Holding a roman coin in his hand, “he said to them, 'Whose head is this, and whose title?' They answered, “The emperor's.' Then he said to them, 'Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's (Matt 22:20-21).'“ I have ask, in a secular democracy, does your faith belong to God or to the state? Where do the Ten Commandments belong? [Let me remind you that the first four are regulations dealing solely with religious faith (Exodus 20:2-17)] It is blindingly obvious that they belong in the church, not on state ground.

This is the doctrine of the two kingdoms (sometimes referred to as the kingdom of the left, and the kingdom of the right). It is one of the reasons we have separation of Church and State in this country. The Church should not interfere in the Government, and the Government should leave the Church alone.

The Political Argument

It is politically dangerous to validate anything with a seal of divine authority. There is no way to prove or disprove divine inspiration (and many have tried). To tag something as sacred in politics is simply a way to state: “We are too cowardly to debate this issue in the realm of ideas, so I will create an argument that you cannot debate at all.”

In a democracy, this is wrong, and must never be tolerated. What an individual or group believes is on thing, but in civil discourse, religious arguments have no place. Even the Vatican basis its Gospel of Life (anti-abortion/anti-death penalty) on the argument they human life is special, and as a result humans should never kill other humans in any way. They make both a religious and a secular/philosophical argument for their position. One for the church, the other for the state! That is the way it must be.

To mix Church and State in any way is a dangerous and destructive activity for both institution. For the best of both, they should be kept at a safe distance from each other