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How will Obama Justify Executing Americans Without Trial?

Good news comes this morning for Americans who believe that the President of the United States should not be held above the law.

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Obama Administration must release secret memos that describe the legal justification for Barack Obama’s order to have an American citizen killed because of mere suspicion that the American was involved in a crime.

Barack Obama has asserted that not only does he have the power to kill, without trial, Americans whom he decides are likely to have been involved in criminal activity, but that he also has the power to withhold the legal reasoning  by which he claims this power.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States severely restricts the power of the government to inflict criminal punishment. It reads: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The American Barack Obama ordered to be killed was not suspected of any crime arising in the “land or naval forces, or in the Militia”. Given that, what legal justification can Barack Obama possibly give for this execution without trial?

Green Versus Green For Congress In New York

Back in November, I wrote a critical article about the Green Party, wondering why the party had failed to find congressional candidates to run in most of the districts across the United States. Since then, many congressional candidates have stepped forward. In some districts, more than one candidate has come forth.

Such is the case in New York’s 21st congressional district, where the incumbent Democrat Bill Owens is not running for re-election. The deadline for candidates to register campaigns for federal office with recognized parties there came at the end of last week.

Matt Funiciello is one Green candidate for the seat. He emphasizes his record as a peace activist, and promises a “platform devoid of corporate funding”. A specific campaign platform has yet to be communicated by Funiciello, however.

Don Hassig is also missing an explicit campaign platform, though it’s clear from his writings that he emphasizes environmental issues. Most recently, he spoke out against fracking in Massena.

Green voters need to hear a great deal more from these candidates before they can make an informed choice, but it is a sign of Green strength that a choice within the party is being made at all.

Dark Data And Cash

This morning, I decided to bake crescent rolls, out of a tube, for breakfast. It’s a simple, easy pleasure I indulge in every now and then, but I like to keep it to myself.

So, instead of getting in a car with satellite navigation that could transmit a record of my journey to corporate headquarters and the NSA, I rode my bike to the store.

bicycle gears

It was a small grocery store, not one of those big ones with cameras that track their customers with facial recognition software.

crescent rolls

I paid cash, and didn’t swipe a frequent shopper card.

image

When I got home, I baked the crescent rolls in an old analog oven with mechanical knobs, totally unconnected to the Internet of Things.

stovetop burner

How many rolls did I bake? When did I buy them, and when we’re they ready? Did I buy anything else to eat? Is there a predictable pattern to when I eat these rolls?

That’s for me to know, and the engines of Big Data to wonder. Through the power of physical, disconnected objects, I have exercised the power of dark data, the cultural equivalent of dark matter.

Are Women Men’s Transferrable Property? Tradition Says Yes.

Do you yearn for a return to “traditional values”? Consider this essay from the Chalcedon Foundation:

I’ve been Daddy’s girl from Day One. My first word was “Dada.” I’ve always wanted to do what Daddy was doing, go where Daddy was going, read what Daddy was reading, say what Daddy was saying…. Little wonder people call me “Daddy’s Little Clone.” I mean, take a look at the picture heading this column! No wonder that, for fairness’ sake, in family votes, our two are counted as one.

But does this exhaust the ways in which I might be reckoned “Daddy’s girl”? Beyond being an X-chromosome donor, may we think of the “-’s” in “Daddy’s” in the possessive sense, and affirm with legitimacy that Daddy is my owner? That “my heart belongs to Daddy” is certainly true. But do daughters, per se, belong to their Daddies?

…I define courtship as the discovery of a life-partner for a daughter under the direct oversight of the father. Any man seeking to beg, borrow or steal a daughter’s hand without her father’s endorsement is seeking to gain, in unlawful ways, “property” not his own. Daughters are Daddy’s girls in the objective sense, and this particular daughter rejoices in that truth. I am owned by my father. If someone is interested in me, he should see him.

I don’t feel qualified to discuss the role of sons, but it seems clear that there is a peculiar relationship between the father and the daughter. Since a daughter is, by the grace of God, always under authority–there being a transfer at marriage from a father’s to a husband’s–daughters are “Daddy’s” uniquely. While he must raise his sons to be loving husbands and fathers who make houses possible, he raises his daughters to be submissive, godly wives and wise mothers, to make houses homes. He raises a son to be a provider; he raises a daughter to be provided for.

Proud independence is no noble goal for a woman, and the spirit which pursues it is no part of a godly girl’s trousseau. Of course, those who exalt independence, denying headship to a husband, will certainly deny it to a father. Thus, they find the idea of courtship offensive. But those who acknowledge that God’s way is right (Luke 7:29, 35) find the idea of “authoritative stewardship” quite pleasant!

…As strange as it may sound, in the peculiar relationship of the father and daughter, God, as it were, takes a back seat. God has created a hierarchy such that the daughter is directly answerable to her father, and her father then answers to God. This doubles the father’s responsibilities, because he must account to God for the way he raises his daughter.

The father’s ownership, of course, is an in order to thing. God has given the daughter to the father so he can raise her in the fear and admonition of the Lord, protect her from harm and want, protect her from other men, and sometimes, protect her from herself, even from foolish decisions she might make on her own.

If we’re understanding this properly, just think of the impact it has on courtship. In modern “dating,” the girl is seen as belonging to herself. Therefore, it’s a logical conclusion that any man who wants to be romantically involved with her has only to ask her permission. But if it’s true that the father owns (has lawful authoritative stewardship rights over) his daughter, then the young man must seek the father’s approval. It’s not simply up to the girl. This changes the tone of any relationship there might be. If it’s the father who must give his approval, the young man knows that he is being watched, and he has to prove himself worthy. God has given fathers a lot of insight into the character, impulses and designs of young men. Flowers and sweet words might win the daughter; but Daddy’s a man, and it’s a lot harder to pass Daddy’s tests. Further, a godly father is aware of his daughter’s capabilities and needs, and can often see more clearly than she whether a young man is a complement to her and whether she can aid him in his calling. The order of God, as indicated in his word, is that God himself defers to the will of the father when it comes to his daughter. God says, “You heard your father. The answer is no.” Thus, the will of the father regarding his daughter IS the will of God.

So I really am “Daddy’s girl.” And no man can approach me as an independent agent because I am not my own, but belong, until my marriage, to my father. At the time of my marriage, my father gives me away to my husband and there is a lawful change of ownership.

We can still see traces of this thinking in conventional wedding practice: the father walking the bride down the aisle and handing her to her new husband, a man asking a woman’s father for “her hand.” It wasn’t too many generations ago that a father could refuse to transfer ownership, regardless of what his daughter thought. The fundamentalist Touchstone magazine considers this a boon:

There is not androgyny; rather, the sexes are distinct; and there is order. “Men are created and called to initiate, and women are created and called to respond.” In marriage, the husband is the head of his wife, and the wife is to submit to her husband. God has placed parents in authority over their children, and children are to obey their parents.

In the Old Testament, a female, under normal circumstances, was always under protective male authority, either the authority of her father or the authority of her husband—there was no in-between time when she was independent and autonomous. Furthermore, a father was responsible for his daughter’s sexual purity: if she was found not to be a virgin on her wedding night, her father would be publicly shamed.

In preparing for marriage, sons and daughters should be trained differently by their parents. “A son is reared up for independence. He is trained to leave, while still respecting his parents’ godly counsel. A daughter is brought up to be transferred from one state of dependence to another. Sons leave; daughters are given.”

The next time you hear someone say they want to see a return of “traditional family values,” think of what that tradition implies: half of you out there are owners, and the other half of you are property. This is not a hidden agenda. The question is, are you willing to go along with it?

How is an Eternity of Tarnation for Non-Eternal Sin OK?

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night. — Revelation 14:10-11

I’m not a mathematician, but I’ve been told that infinity divided by any number is still infinity. Infinity divided by 1 is infinity. Infinity divided by 10 is infinity. Infinity divided by 10,000? Still infinity. Something delivered in infinite doses is infinitely out of proportion to whatever issue it is meant to address — no matter the size of the issue.

With that in mind, how is it right, just or good for a God to damn a soul to eternal, unending, infinite tarnation as punishment for a finite sin?

Garden Vampirism

I admire the way that bloodroot, to match its sinister name, emerges from the ground wrapped tightly in a cloak, like a white-haired undead Transylvanian count protecting himself from the rays of the rising sun.

image

Values Are Vital PAC Uses Las Vegas Money To Push Its Agenda

In 5 days, there will be a primary election in Florida’s 19th congressional district. U.S. Representative Trey Radel has resigned, and a general election to fill the position in the U.S. House of Representatives for this year’s remaining months will be held in June.

On the Democratic side, there’s only one candidate: April Freeman. There are four Republicans contesting their party’s nomination for the post, however: Lizbeth Benacquisto, Curt Clawson, Michael Dreikorn, and Paige Kreegel. A Republican is favored to win the general election, so there’s a great deal at stake in the Republican primary election.

whose values are vitalYesterday, a political action committee operating under the name Values Are Vital spent nearly $100,000 on advertisements designed to change the course the primary election. The ads promote one of the Republican candidates, Paige Kreegel, while seeking to undermine two of her opponents: Lizbeth Benacquisto and Curt Clawson.

Voters in the 19th district may well be asking themselves just whose values are being represented by the Values Are Vital PAC. Specifically, where did the money for these political commercials come from?

Some of the records for the payments made by the PAC lead into a dead end. Some of them were made to a company called “Morado & Associates, LLC” – but there is no online trace of such a company. Most of the money was channeled through another group, “Jamestown Associates”, which is headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey. The source of the cash used by the Values Are Vital organization is equally distant. 3 out of 5 of the top payments to Values Are Vital – totalling almost half a million dollars – come from a lawyer in Las Vegas.

Are the Republican voters of Florida’s 19th congressional district content to allow political operatives from Nevada and New Jersey to tell them which values are vital? We’ll find out when the polls close Tuesday night.

Not the Voice of God You’re Hearing? Sound Check!

If the voice speaking within your head and heart is telling you that it's OK to harm other people by denying them food, healthcare and basic civil rights, If the "Voice of Truth" you're hearing says there is some justification for treating people with cruelty, callousness, prejudice and contempt... here's a hint.  That's not the voice of God you're hearing.
A friend who participates in a Facebook group called the “Christian Left” shared this image with me the other day. I wonder if my friend has read the Bible lately. Consider the acts of God and the commands by the voice of God in these books of the Bible:

Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Samuel
Revelation

Mass killing. Sexual assault. Mutilation. Infanticide. Torture. Slavery. Prejudice. Callousness. Contempt. Cruelty. Starvation. Disenfranchisement. Plagues. That’s what God inflicts on people and asks people to inflict on other people.

This image meant to be affirming of my friend’s politics. I get that. I understand that this image is meant to be a way for my friend to say that she doesn’t like denying people food, healthcare and basic civil rights, that she doesn’t think it’s nice to people with cruelty, callousness, prejudice and contempt. I just wish she would come out and say that when she says “God,” she means “me.” I wish she would come out and say that when she says “Devil,” she means “people I strongly abhor.” I wish she wouldn’t use an appeal to Biblical authority to justify her otherwise admirable values. The authoritative standard “for the Bible tells me so” has been used so many, many times in our history to justify atrocity. The best defense against this is critical thinking, not more appeals to the same wretched authority.

Would You Wear Atheist Shoes?

atheist shoes“Whether you’re an atheist looking to tickle the world with a foot-first declaration of godlessness, or someone who’s just keen on the aesthetics and craftsmanship of what we do, we really do hope you’ll give our shoes a go.” This is the message from Atheist Shoes, a small operation run out of Berlin. Atheist Shoes have been in production for almost two years now, producing shoes with the message “Ich Bin Atheist” imprinted into their soles, so that when the whether is rainy or snowy, atheist walkers can leave the German message – I am atheist – wherever they step.

Is that something you would do – if you’re an atheist? Why would an atheist need to leave the message of atheist identity in an evaporating path behind them? What is this supposed to achieve?

If you are in the camp of declaring your non-theistic identity through your footprints, does it change your decision that Atheist Shoes sells a model of their footwear in a color they call Kitten Testicle Grey? “For those grown-up enough to be comfortable with complexity, there is nothing black or white about these shoes. Their rich grey is a friend of smutty urban streets and, being as soft as a kitten’’s nik-naks (& the same colour in the case of our kitten) their slipper-like comfort will keep a smug look on your face all day long.”

(No kitten testicles are actually used in the production of the shoes, or in the maintenance of this web site.)

Condoleezza Rice and DropBox Collude With Heartbleeding NSA

Last week, the world found out about the Heartbleed bug, “the worst vulnerability ever on the Internet”. It’s a gaping hole that allows hackers to easily gain people’s passwords to the majority of web sites and online services. It’s been open for years, and the worst part of it is that hackers who have been exploiting it have left no trace, so we can’t know when our private information has been taken from us.

condoleezza rice dropboxWhat does that remind you of? The National Security Agency has become little more than a collection of hackers given carte blanche by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to snoop, search and seize through Americans’ private information whenever they like, without providing search warrants or other reasonable legal justification for doing so.

The supposed security of cloud service sites like DropBox have been paper thin. Companies like DropBox have been encouraging Americans to place their most private and valuable information online in accounts on their “secure” servers, without having the necessary protections in place to ensure that the information isn’t stolen and exploited by strangers. DropBox users have been vulnerable to both the NSA and to privateering hackers, using vulnerabilities like Heartbleed.

On Friday, news came out that suggests the Heartbleed security nightmare may not have been as purely accidental as it first appeared to be. Sources within the NSA indicate that the NSA knew for at least two years that Americans were made insecure by Heartbleed, but decided to do nothing about the problem, because Heartbleed was a valuable tool for the NSA’s own hacking activities, enabling the military agency to rapidly increase the size of its Big Brother electronic surveillance program.

Actual security for Americans in general, it turns out, was never really the goal of the National “Security” Agency. The rogue military spy agency purposefully kept Americans insecure so that it could grab more power for itself.

Neatly weaving these two threads together into a web of deceit and betrayal, this news came just a couple of days after it was revealed that DropBox announced that it would be appointing Condoleezza Rice to its Board of Directors. Condoleezza Rice, as head of the National Security Council under George W. Bush, was one of the leaders tasked with expanding the electronic surveillance powers of the NSA.

The new activist group Drop DropBox writes, “Rice not only spoke in favor of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretap program and expansive domestic surveillance program, she authorized the warrantless wiretap of UN Security Council members. Given everything we now know about the US’s warrantless surveillance program, and Rice’s role in it, why on earth would we want someone like her involved with Dropbox, an organization we are trusting with our most important business and personal data?”

Why would DropBox want someone like Condoleezza Rice on its Board of Directors? This shouldn’t be interpreted as a rhetorical question. In the past, Condoleezza Rice has specialized setting up data seizure programs that violating the constitutional rights of Americans, in order to centralize power for the people who employ her. It’s safe to assume that DropBox would like her to perform the same job for them.

Really, that’s what commercial cloud services are all about. Companies offer people “free” storage, and then feel free to search through their private information, mining it for useful data that it can then use or sell for profit. We cannot trust cloud service corporations like Google, DropBox, Droplr, Wuala, Cloudme and Carbonite any more than we can trust the NSA.

The hiring of Condoleezza Rice is merely one of the more blatant flags of privacy abuse from the tech sector. Abuse of user privacy is rampant in Silicon Valley, and in Washington D.C.

Corporate and governmental hubs of power have been consumed by a surveillance culture in which top executives presume that they have the right to seize and whatever information they want, to use for whatever purposes they can dream up. They don’t believe that the law, or the Constitution of the United States, applies to them anymore. They believe that digital technology has made our legal and constitutional rights obsolete.

Congress and the Supreme Court confirm this belief by refusing to take action to curb rampant hacking by corporations and the Executive Branch. American voters add their own assent when they re-elect politicians who have allowed Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable search and seizure to be made irrelevant.

Shame on us all. We have not yet begun to suffer the worst of the consequences of this collective apathy.

With Extra Political Parties in California, Big Two Still Pack Big Punch. Why?

Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News points me to fresh polls in a California Secretary of State race reopened by the revelation that gun control candidate Leland Yee had been brokering illegal gun sales on the sly. The story of Leland Yee is surely an entertaining one, but the polls in the race he leaves behind are interesting too.

Let’s look at the polls in this open moment, when sheer shock leaves possibilities open:

April 11 California Secretary of State Poll

In case you’re curious, that’s a different Pete Peterson up at the top of the ticket from our favorite gut-the-poor billionaire.  But look down the ticket.  There’s a Green there.  Greens have ballot access in California, but in this race the Green candidate isn’t appealing to voters, with a 5% poll share.

Look elsewhere, to the most recent political party registration report for the state of California, which shares the locations with the highest third-party registrations:

Locations in California with the greatest share of third-party registrants

As you can see, there is no county in California where a third party has as much as a 6% share of registrations.  In some cases, as with Americans Elect, the low registration share is a result of a defunct organization.  But the Greens, whether you agree with them or not, have been working for a long time at building their political party share; their organization is active and enduring, if small.  And if you have ever had a conversation with a member of the Libertarian Party, you’ve felt the zeal, a zeal that gives off the impression that there are more Libertarians out there then there really are.

Ballot access proponents have focused on the mechanics for getting third parties on the ballot.  But once they’re there, what keeps them from rising?  What keeps these third parties down?  Tell me what you know.