Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

ACLU Director: Bush Was “Very worst President for civil liberties”

January 13, 2009

A couple days ago on the Colbert Report, Steven Colbert interviewed American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Director Anthony Romero.  In the interview, Romero said that Bush was the “very worst President for civil liberties,” and later that he was “the worst President in 8 long years.”  Perhaps he meant “for 8 long years,” since he was the only President in the past 8 years, so Romero’s statement really didn’t make sense.  (Sorry this is up a few days late – I lost me entire draft that I wrote the 1st time, and that took a few hours to do.)  Anyway, watch the video, and I’ll discuss his statements below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So, what do I think about Romero’s statements?  I think his high school American history teacher would be ashamed of him.

Now, I’m not arguing that President Bush has been a champion of civil liberties.  I think he overstepped his powers, and I think the Republican Party (and some of the Democratic Party) stood by and let him.  And now, the Republican Party is paying for it, and this country will be paying for it for years to come.  Still, I don’t think that Bush did it just for fun.  He had legitimate reasons, but I think he went too far at times.  Anyway, let’s look at 4 Presidents who I think did much worse for civil liberties than Bush has:

John Adams

Why John Adams?  The Alien and Sedition Acts, that’s why:

First, we have the Alien Friends Act (officially titled “An Act Concerning Aliens”) (we’re going to leave the Naturalization Act out of this discussion since it isn’t relevant, but technically was the first one to be passed).  Let’s take a look at the first 2 sections of the bill:

An Act concerning Aliens.

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States at any time during the continnuance of this act, to order all such aliens as he shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States, or shall have reasonable grounds to suspect are concerned in any treasonable or secret machinations against the government thereof, to depart out of the territory of the United States, within such time as shall be expressed in such order, which order shall be served on such alien by delivering him a copy thereof, or leaving the same at his usual abode, and returned to the office of the Secretary of State, by the marshal or other person to whom the same shall be directed.  And in case any alien, so ordered to depart, shall be found at large within the United States after the time limited in such order for his departure, and not having obtained a license from the President to reside therein, or having obtained such license shall not have conformed thereto, every such alien shall, on conviction thereof, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three years, and shall never after be admitted to become a citizen of the United States.  Provided always, and be it further enacted, that if any alien so ordered to depart shall prove to the satisfaction of the President, by evidence to be taken before such person or persons as the President shall direct, who are for that purpose hereby authorized to administer oaths, that no injury or danger to the United States will arise from suffering such alien to reside therein, the President may grant a license to such alien to remain within the United States for such time as he shall judge proper, and at such place as he may designate.  And the president may also require of such alien to enter into a bond to the United States, in such penal sum as he may direct, with one or more sufficient sureties to the satisfaction of the person authorized by the President to take the same, conditioned for the good behavior of such alien during his residence in the United States, and not violating his license, which license the President may revoke, whenever he shall think proper.

SEC 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, whenever he may deem it necessary for the public safety, to order to be removed out of the territory thereof, any alien who may or shall be in prison in pursuance of this act; and to cause to be arrested and sent out of the United States such of those aliens as shall have been ordered to depart therefrom and shall not have obtained a license as aforesaid, in all cases where, in the opinion of the President, the public safety requires a speedy removal.  And if any alien so removed or sent out of the United States by the President shall voluntarily return thereto, unless by permission of the President of the United States, such alien on conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned so long as, in the opinion of the President, the public safety may require.

APPROVED, June 25, 1798.

Alright, now we have the Alien Enemies Act (officially titled “An Act Respecting Alien Enemies”):

An Act Respecting Alien Enemies

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That whenever there shall be a declared war between the United States and any foreign nation or government, or any invasion or predatory incursion shall be perpetrated, attempted, or threatened against the territory of the United States, by any foreign nation or government, and the President of the United States shall make public proclamation of the event, all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being males of the age of fourteen years and upwards, who shall be within the United States, and not actually naturalized, shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured and removed, as alien enemies. And the President of the United States shall be, and he is hereby authorized, in any event, as aforesaid, by his proclamation thereof, or other public act, to direct the conduct to be observed, on the part of the United States, towards the aliens who shall become liable, as aforesaid; the manner and degree of the restraint to which they shall be subject, and in what cases, and upon what security their residence shall be permitted, and to provide for the removal of those, who, not being permitted to reside within the United States, shall refuse or neglect to depart therefrom; and to establish any other regulations which shall be found necessary in the premises and for the public safety: Provided, that aliens resident within the United States, who shall become liable as enemies, in the manner aforesaid, and who shall not be chargeable with actual hostility, or other crime against the public safety, shall be allowed, for the recovery, disposal, and removal of their goods and effects, and for their departure, the full time which is, or shall be stipulated by any treaty, where any shall have been between the United States, and the hostile nation or government, of which they shall be natives, citizens, denizens or subjects: and where no such treaty shall have existed, the President of the United States may ascertain and declare such reasonable time as may be consistent with the public safety, and according to the dictates of humanity and national hospitality.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That after any proclamation shall be made as aforesaid, it shall be the duty of the several courts of the United States, and of each state, having criminal jurisdiction, and of the several judges and justices of the courts of the United States, and they shall be, and are hereby respectively, authorized upon complaint, against any alien or alien enemies, as aforesaid, who shall be resident and at large within such jurisdiction or district, to the danger of the public peace or safety, and contrary to the tenor or intent of such proclamation, or other regulations which the President of the United States shall and may establish in the premises, to cause such alien or aliens to be duly apprehended and convened before such court, judge or justice; and after a full examination and hearing on such complaint. and sufficient cause therefor appearing, shall and may order such alien or aliens to be removed out of the territory of the United States, or to give sureties of their good behaviour, or to be otherwise restrained, conformably to the proclamation or regulations which shall and may be established as aforesaid, and may imprison, or otherwise secure such alien or aliens, until the order which shall and may be made, as aforesaid, shall be performed.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the marshal of the district in which any alien enemy shall be apprehended, who by the President of the United States, or by order of any court, judge or justice, as aforesaid, shall be required to depart, and to be removed, as aforesaid, to provide therefor, and to execute such order, by himself or his deputy, or other discreet person or persons to be employed by him, by causing a removal of such alien out of the territory of the United States; and for such removal the marshal shall have the warrant of the President of the United States, or of the court, judge or justice ordering the same, as the case may be.

APPROVED, July 6, 1798.

And lastly we have the Sedition Act (officially entitled “An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States”):

An Act in addition to the act, entitled “An act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States.”

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That if any persons shall unlawfully combine or conspire together, with intent to oppose any measure or measures of the government of the United States, which are or shall be directed by proper authority, or to impede the operation of any law of the United States, or to intimidate or prevent any person holding a place or office in or under the government of the United States, from undertaking, performing or executing his trust or duty, and if any person or persons, with intent as aforesaid, shall counsel, advise or attempt to procure any insurrection, riot, unlawful assembly, or combination, whether such conspiracy, threatening, counsel, advice, or attempt shall have the proposed effect or not, he or they shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and on conviction, before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and by imprisonment during a term not less than six months nor exceeding five years; and further, at the discretion of the court may be ho]den to find sureties for his good behaviour in such sum, and for such time, as the said court may direct.

SEC. 2. And be it farther enacted, That if any person shall write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the constitution of the United States, or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act, or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any person shall be prosecuted under this act, for the writing or publishing any libel aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the defendant, upon the trial of the cause, to give in evidence in his defence, the truth of the matter contained in Republication charged as a libel. And the jury who shall try the cause, shall have a right to determine the law and the fact, under the direction of the court, as in other cases.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That this act shall continue and be in force until the third day of March, one thousand eight hundred and one, and no longer: Provided, that the expiration of the act shall not prevent or defeat a prosecution and punishment of any offence against the law, during the time it shall be in force.

APPROVED, July 14, 1798.

Alright, CLEARLY the things that Bush has done against civil rights (as outlined in the interview above – things like Guantanamo, wiretapping, etc…) weren’t as bad as what Adams did.  If Bush were to follow what Adams had done, we’d be deporting Iraqis and Afghans left and right.  We’d probably be deporting the French and Germans who are speaking out against the war too.  And I’m guessing that CBS and Dan Rather would be in jail for around 2 years and would be paying around $2,000 for that false report that CBS did a few years ago.

Now, on to our next civil rights violating President:

Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln had 18,000 rebel leaders arrested and held in military prisons without trials.  Let’s look at the specific case of Maryland cavalry Lieutenant John Merryman (he assisted in kicking Union troops out of the area after a riot broke out as the Union forces were changing trains at  a station) in the case Ex parte Merryman, 17 F. Cas. 144 (1861):

Lincoln wrote a letter to General Winfield Scott on April 27, 1861, allowing Scott to suspend the writ of habeas corpus within the vicinity of the “military line”.  Originally, this was kept a secret, but by May of 1861, several members of the Maryland legislature had been arrested without grounds or stated charges.

Merryman said that this was illegal and took his case to the U.S. Circuit Court, and the judge at the time was Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.  Taney sided against Lincoln, but Lincoln decided that he would just ignore the ruling.  It is then rumored that Lincoln may have quickly issued and then retracted an arrest warrant for Taney, but the historical accurateness of this claim is disputed.  Anyway, several other cases similar to the Merryman case went before federal judges, but Lincoln ignored all of them.  Eventually Congress suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

Now, compare this to Bush.  Bush hasn’t arrested 18,000 American citizens, and he hasn’t ignored nearly as many court rulings as Lincoln had either.

On to the next President:

Woodrow Wilson

President Wilson signed into law the following  2 bills: the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918.  Let’s take a look at those real quick.  First, we have an excerpt from the Espionage Act of 1917:

Section 3

Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall wilfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies and whoever when the United States is at war, shall wilfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall wilfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States, to the injury of the service or of the United States, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.

Section 4

If two or more persons conspire to violate the provisions of section two or three of this title, and one or more of such persons does any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be punished as in said sections provided in the case of the doing of the act the accomplishment of which is the object of such conspiracy. Except as above provided conspiracies to commit offences under this title shall be punished as provided by section thirty-seven of the Act to codify, revise, and amend the penal laws of the United States approved March fourth, nineteen hundred and nine.

And here’s an excerpt from the Sedition Act of 1918:

Section 3
Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States, or to promote the success of its enemies, or shall willfully make or convey false reports or false statements, or say or do anything except by way of bona fide and not disloyal advice to an investor or investors, with intent to obstruct the sale by the United States of bonds or other securities of the United States or the making of loans by or to the United States, and whoever when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause, or incite or attempt to incite, insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty, in the military or naval forces of the United States, or shall willfully obstruct or attempt to obstruct the recruiting or enlistment services of the United States, and whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States or the Constitution of the United States, or the military or naval forces of the United States, or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy of the United States into contempt, scorn, contumely, or disrepute, or shall willfully utter, print, write, or publish any language intended to incite, provoke, or encourage resistance to the United States, or to promote the cause of its enemies, or shall willfully display the flag of any foreign enemy, or shall willfully by utterance, writing, printing, publication, or language spoken, urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production in this country of any thing or things, product or products, necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war in which the United States may be engaged, with intent by such curtailment to cripple or hinder the United States in the prosecution of war, and whoever shall willfully advocate, teach, defend, or suggest the doing of any of the acts or things in this section enumerated, and whoever shall by word or act support or favor the cause of any country with which the United States is at war or by word or act oppose the cause of the United States therein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or the imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both: Provided, That any employee or official of the United States Government who commits any disloyal act or utters any unpatriotic or disloyal language, or who, in an abusive and violent manner criticizes the Army or Navy or the flag of the United States shall be at once dismissed from the service..

Section 4
When the United States is at war, the Postmaster General may, upon evidence satisfactory to him that any person or concern is using the mails in violation of any of the provisions of this Act, instruct the postmaster at any post office at which mail is received addressed to such person or concern to return to the postmaster at the office at which they were originally mailed all letters or other matter so addressed, with the words “Mail to this address undeliverable under Espionage Act” plainly written or stamped upon the outside thereof, and all such letters or other matter so returned to such postmasters shall be by them returned to the senders thereof under such regulations as the Postmaster General may prescribe.

Under these acts, a man was put on trial over his statements about not wanting to buy Liberty Bonds.  In addition to that, over 50 American newspapers had their mailing privileges stripped, and all German-language or German-American newspapers had their mailing privileges removed.

In addition to these 2 acts, Wilson also allowed the American Protective League to assist law enforcement agencies.  The APL was formed by Chicago businessman A.M. Briggs, under the permission of U.S. Attorney General Thomas Gregory.  The group was given government-issued badges and they officially “organized with the Approval and operating under the direction of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigation.”  The APL was a group of 250,000 people spread across 600 cities who helped crack down on those who were believed to be helping the Germans or opposing the U.S. government.  The group illegally detained U.S. citizens who were members of labor and pacifist movements.

Again, this is nothing close to what George Bush has done.  If Bush were following the epionage and sedition acts, CBS executives and Dan Rather would have been fined and put in jail for running  that false story about President Bush’s Air National Guard service.  Instead, Rather kept his job (for a while) without any criminal charges being filed.  Clearly Wilson was worse than Bush when it comes to civil liberties.

And that leads us to our last liberty looter:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Perhaps the most infamous (probably because it’s the most recent) violation of civil liberties was FDR’s Executive Order 9066, which was the executive order for the internment of Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals.  Here’s a copy of Executive Order 9066:

Executive Order No. 9066

The President

Executive Order

Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas

Whereas the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises, and national-defense utilities as defined in Section 4, Act of April 20, 1918, 40 Stat. 533, as amended by the Act of November 30, 1940, 54 Stat. 1220, and the Act of August 21, 1941, 55 Stat. 655 (U.S.C., Title 50, Sec. 104);

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order. The designation of military areas in any region or locality shall supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, and shall supersede the responsibility and authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect of such prohibited and restricted areas.

I hereby further authorize and direct the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area hereinabove authorized to be designated, including the use of Federal troops and other Federal Agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.

I hereby further authorize and direct all Executive Departments, independent establishments and other Federal Agencies, to assist the Secretary of War or the said Military Commanders in carrying out this Executive Order, including the furnishing of medical aid, hospitalization, food, clothing, transportation, use of land, shelter, and other supplies, equipment, utilities, facilities, and services.

This order shall not be construed as modifying or limiting in any way the authority heretofore granted under Executive Order No. 8972, dated December 12, 1941, nor shall it be construed as limiting or modifying the duty and responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with respect to the investigation of alleged acts of sabotage or the duty and responsibility of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, prescribing regulations for the conduct and control of alien enemies, except as such duty and responsibility is superseded by the designation of military areas hereunder.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The White House,

February 19, 1942.

Under that order, somewhere around 120,000 people were held in internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 62% of which were American citizens.  Compare this to Bush, who has held around 800 people in Guantanamo.  And those people weren’t even American citizens!

The point that I’m trying to make in all of this is NOT that I justify Bush’s actions.  I think he has overstepped his Constitutional bounds, with the wiretapping and his signing statements.  But to say that he’s the WORST President for civil liberties is just insulting to American history.  I would be ashamed to be Romero’s American history teacher right now, because clearly, he has forgotten some very important parts.  Looking back 20 or so years from now, the history books will be kinder to Bush.  I don’t think he’s anywhere near perfect, but he’s certainly hasn’t violated civil liberties as much as the 4 Presidents that I’ve just listed.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Michigan House of Representatives Votes 68-32 to Ban Texting While Driving

December 15, 2008

Alright, this is somewhat of an old story, but I really wanted to do a post on it, and I got caught up with exams last week:

On December 4th, the Michigan House of Representatives voted on House Bill 5117, A bill to amend 1949 PA 300, entitled “Michigan vehicle code,” (MCL 257.1 to 257.923) by adding section 602b.

The bill was introduced by Steve Bieda (D-Macomb).  Here’s the original version of the bill:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

SEC. 602B. (1) A PERSON SHALL NOT READ, 1 WRITE, OR SEND A TEXT

2 MESSAGE ON A WIRELESS 2-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE, INCLUDING A RADIO

3 TELEPHONE USED IN CELLULAR TELEPHONE SERVICE OR PERSONAL

4 COMMUNICATION SERVICE, WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE ON A HIGHWAY

5 OR STREET IN THIS STATE.

6 (2) A PERSON WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR A

7 CIVIL INFRACTION.

I like this version of the bill.  It’s quick, and to the point.  Frankly, I think the House butchered this bill (although they did add a couple good clauses).

Here’s the version that was passed by the House (along with my commentary):

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

SEC. 602B. (1) A PERSON SHALL NOT READ, 1 WRITE, OR SEND A TEXT

2 MESSAGE ON A WIRELESS 2-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE THAT IS LOCATED IN

3 THE PERSON’S HAND OR IN THE PERSON’S LAP, INCLUDING A WIRELESS

4 TELEPHONE USED IN CELLULAR TELEPHONE SERVICE OR PERSONAL

5 COMMUNICATION SERVICE, WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE THAT IS

6 MOVING ON A HIGHWAY OR STREET IN THIS STATE. AS USED IN THIS

7 SUBSECTION, A WIRELESS 2-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

8 A GLOBAL POSITIONING OR NAVIGATION SYSTEM THAT IS AFFIXED TO THE

9 MOTOR VEHICLE.

I will say that lines 6b-9 were a good addition.

(2) SUBSECTION (1) DOES NOT APPLY 1 TO AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS

2 USING A DEVICE DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (1) TO DO ANY OF THE

3 FOLLOWING:

4 (A) REPORT A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT, MEDICAL EMERGENCY, OR SERIOUS

5 ROAD HAZARD.

6 (B) REPORT A SITUATION IN WHICH THE PERSON BELIEVES HIS OR HER

7 PERSONAL SAFETY IS IN JEOPARDY.

8 (C) REPORT OR AVERT THE PERPETRATION OR POTENTIAL PERPETRATION

9 OF A CRIMINAL ACT AGAINST THE INDIVIDUAL OR ANOTHER PERSON.

10 (D) CARRY OUT OFFICIAL DUTIES AS A POLICE OFFICER, LAW

11 ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL, MEMBER OF A PAID OR VOLUNTEER FIRE

12 DEPARTMENT, OR OPERATOR OF AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE.

Again, another good provision.

13 (3) ENFORCEMENT OF THIS SECTION BY STATE OR LOCAL LAW

14 ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES SHALL BE ACCOMPLISHED ONLY AS A SECONDARY

15 ACTION WHEN THE OPERATOR OF A MOTOR VEHICLE HAS BEEN DETAINED FOR A

16 SUSPECTED VIOLATION OF ANOTHER SECTION OF THIS ACT.

Here’s where they really butchered it in my opinion.  Making this a secondary offense means that in order to give somebody a ticket for texting, they have to have been pulled over for something else.  I have 2 problems with this: 1) It gives cops a motive to pull somebody over for something that they normally wouldn’t pull somebody over for, so that they can give them a ticket for texting; 2) It should be a primary offense.  While driving to work on Southfield Freeway (M-39) I’ve had several encounters with teenage drivers (mostly girls) texting and coming into my lane.  I did have a guy do the same thing the other day, except that was on Fort Street (M-85), but it was in the 35 MPH area, so it wasn’t quite as dangerous.  How permanent this will be is up for debate.  Originally, Michigan’s Click It or Ticket seat belt law was a secondary offense, but that changed pretty quickly.

17 (4) AN INDIVIDUAL WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR

18 A CIVIL INFRACTION.

Same as the original bill.

19 (5) IF A LOCAL UNIT OF GOVERNMENT ADOPTS AN ORDINANCE

20 SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR TO THIS SECTION, THE ORDINANCE SHALL INCLUDE

21 THE SECONDARY ENFORCEMENT PROVISION IN SUBSECTION (3).

Again, another butchering happened here.  Not only do I disagree with the basic premise of subsection (3), but I disagree with subsection (5) based on the fact that it’s the state government sticking its nose into the business of local municipalities.  If I city wants to make  it a primary offense, good for them.  If they want to keep it a secondary offense, that’s fine too (although I disagree with that decision, they’d have that right).  But to take away municipalities’ rights to make this a primary offense is just wrong.

22 (6) POINTS SHALL NOT BE ASSESSED UNDER SECTION 320A FOR A

23 VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION.

Again, another terrible amendment to the bill.  There’s no reason that people should be texting while driving.  Tack on the additional punishment of points and that will deter people from doing it.

24 Enacting section 1. This amendatory act does not take effect

25 unless House Bill No. 5396 of the 94th Legislature is enacted into

26 law.

Alright, so that’s the bill as passed by the House.  Currently the bill is in the Transportation Committee of the Senate.

I wanted to post a copy of the roll call vote:

Roll Call No. 1003 Yeas—68

Accavitti Dean Johnson Opsommer
Amos Dillon Jones, Rick Pearce
Ball Donigan Jones, Robert Polidori
Bauer Ebli Knollenberg Proos
Bennett Emmons Law, David Rocca
Bieda Espinoza Law, Kathleen Sak
Booher Farrah Leland Schuitmaker
Brown Gaffney Lemmons Scott
Byrnes Gonzales Lindberg Sheltrown
Byrum Green Mayes Simpson
Clack Griffin McDowell Smith, Alma
Clemente Hammel Meadows Smith, Virgil
Condino Hammon Meisner Stahl
Constan Hansen Melton Stakoe
Corriveau Hood Miller Valentine
Coulouris Hopgood Moss Wenke
Cushingberry Horn Nofs Wojno

Nays—32

Acciavatti DeRoche LeBlanc Pastor
Agema Garfield Marleau Pavlov
Angerer Gillard Meekhof Robertson
Brandenburg Hildenbrand Moolenaar Shaffer
Calley Huizenga Moore Sheen
Casperson Hune Nitz Spade
Caswell Jackson Palmer Steil
Caul Lahti Palsrok Walker

In The Chair: Sak

So, it’s pretty apparent that the vote fell mainly along party lines, but there were definitely a good amount of cross-overs (6 Democrats and 21 Republicans).

Representative Caul (R-Isabella) told CM-Life  reporters that he voted against the bill because it was “overstepping the government’s role. … In this case, it’s difficult for enforceability, whether it’s someone using a cell phone or eating a cheeseburger.”

I’m an advocate for personal freedoms (I voted for Proposal 1), but I think allowing texting while driving  goes too far.  Ban it, and enforce that ban.  Hopefully this will pass the Republican-controlled Senate, and with as much Republican support as  this got, I think it will.  I’ve been advocating for a bill like this for a long time, so I’m glad that it’s making some progress.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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A Thank You to Our Veterans

November 11, 2008

I know I’m getting this up kinda late in the day, but I just haven’t had time before this (and I’m actually pushing back a blog post I wanted to do so that I can do this one before I have to leave for meetings and stuff).

I just wanted to say thank you to all of our veterans today.  I am so grateful for your service to this country.  Without you, I might not have the freedom to be writing this blog post right now, so I just wanted to take some time to thank you.  And I encourage others around America to do the same.  If you know a veteran, call them up today and thank them.  Continue to pray for our troops overseas, and our veterans who are back here at home.

A nation can be judged by how those who fight for freedom are treated.  Our veterans should be treated with the utmost respect and honor.  I am proud of our veterans, and above all, I am thankful that they have been willing to sacrifice for their country.

You are true American heroes.  God bless you all.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Effigy of Sarah Palin Hanging by a Noose is Despicable, but Legal

October 28, 2008

I’ve seen some pretty weird Halloween decorations before, but this one probably tops them all.  In West Hollywood, California, Chad Michael Morisette has put up an effigy of Sarah Palin hanging by a noose with John McCain up on the chimeny with flames coming out of it (as well as skeletons and spider webs on other areas of the house).

Well, this made some people very unhappy and even sparked an investigation the FBI as well as the Los Angles Police Department.

The LAPD has determined that this doesn’t rise to the level of hate crime (I don’t remember if the FBI has finished its investigation).

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore told reporters, “I’m not defending this; I’m not criticizing it.  It doesn’t rise to the level of hate crime.  Now, if there was a crime against bad taste–.”  When asked about an effigy of Barack Obama, he replied, “That adds a whole other social, historical hate aspect to the display, and that is embedded in the consciousness of the country [but I am not sure that it would be a hate crime].  It would be ill-advised of anybody to speculate on that.”

Morisette claims that it’s  all in fun, saying, “It should be seen as art, and as within the month of October.  It’s Halloween, it’s time to be scary, it’s time to be spooky.”

The Mayor of West Hollywood, Jeffrey Prang, told reporters, “While these residents have the legal right to display Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin in effigy, I strongly oppose political speech that references violence–real or perceived.  I urge these residents to take down their display and find more constructive ways to express their opinion.”

I agree with the Mayor here.  The point of a hate crime is that it has to threaten violence, or be violence toward a person because of discrimination (and hate crime isn’t a real legal term, but it’s easier to just say “hate crime”.  For the law that defines hate crimes, see U.S. Federal Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 13, § 245).  There is no threat of violence here.  Now, if this were done of Obama, I would say the same thing.  If it’s in a Halloween decoration, it’s generally not intended as a violent threat (as the sheriff’s department found in its investigation).  As long as it’s not being done to encourage violence for racist reasons, it’s not a hate crime.

So, I think this was over the line, but it’s still protected as free speech by the First Amendment.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Cop Arresting Cameraman for Filming Peaceful Protest: “I Can Do Whatever I Want”

October 27, 2008

I was looking through some news stories and came across this story from WCBS (CBS 2) in Newark, New Jersey (WCBS is out of New York City).  Watch the video and I’ll have some analysis below:

Whoa!  The most disturbing part of that was the police officer’s comment, “I can do whatever I want” in response to the reporter, Christine Sloan, saying, “You can’t arrest him.”  (I don’t have the officer’s name – if somebody could find it, that’d be awesome!)

After arresting the photographer, Jim Quodomine, the officer even threatened Sloan, saying, “[This is] none of your business.  Stay away or you’ll be sitting in the car.”

Latrice Smith, a witness of the incident, told WCBS, “He went to put the camera down.  Before he had the opportunity to [do so], the police officer came and knocked it down. … [The officer] just started grabbing him, putting handcuffs on him, grabbed him by the neck.  It was out of control for no reason.”

Another witness told WCBS, “I couldn’t believe how they grabbed him.”

Kudos to Councilwoman Mildred Crump for standing up for justice here.  The officer CLEARLY violated the the photographer’s First Amendment rights.  Hopefully the investigation goes through as Crump has demanded and the officer is fired.  I’m a Law and Order Conservative.  I can’t stand  criminals and I love police officers, but this guy clearly overstepped his bounds.  The cameraman was on public property, and thus had a right to videotape whatever he wanted (which is ALSO why it’s legal for the government to videotape YOU in public – it’s not invading your privacy – you’re out in public – just wanted to bring that up really quick).

This cop needs to be fired.

I’m honestly surprised that he still pressed charges against Quodonine for disorderly conduct.  I’m pretty sure that Quodonine will have those charges dismissed by the magisstrate (and if not, he’ll win an appeal).  If I were him, I would be outraged.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Illinois City Bans Trick-or-Treating for Teenagers

October 27, 2008

Well, this is about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a while.  Belleville, Illinois passed an ordinance last Monday that restricted trick-or-treating.  That sounds normal, right, most cities limit the time that kids can trick-or-treat.  But the city isn’t just limiting when; they’re also limiting who can trick-or-treat.  And it also limits the wearing of masks, to only Halloween (unless you’re under 12).

Here’s an overview of the ordinance (unfortunately, Belleville is a little slow in uploading their meeting minutes, and all they have right now is a copy of the agenda, so this isn’t the exact wording of the ordinance):

  • Limits trick-or-treating on Halloween from 5:00 P.M. until 8:30 P.M.
  • Bans anyone in above the 8th grade (anybody older than 13 or 14) from trick-or-treating on Halloween, unless they are a “special-needs” child, and then they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Allows children age 12 and under to wear a mask and/or disguise any day of the year, but restricts anyone above 12 to being able to wear a mask and/or disguise only on Halloween.
  • Prohibits any and all child sex offenders from going to any event and/or holding any event for Halloween where any child (other than his/her own) will be present. Child sex offenders must also turn out their outside lights on Halloween night, and they are banned from handing out candy.

OK, so bullet points 1 and 4 I have no problem with.  It’s 2 and 3 that I have an issue with.

But before I go on, let me give you some quotes that Mayor Mark Eckert told reporters:

We believe that Halloween is for little children.  We just feel that we need to go that extra mile to protect the children.

We were hearing more and more about bigger kids knocking on doors after 9:00 at night and the people who lived in the homes were scared.  The seniors were especially scared.  They didn’t want to be the recipient of some kind of trick, but they didn’t want to open their doors late at night, either.

Sexual predators can’t have parties.  It’s not right, it’s wrong.  They lost that privilege.

OK, so I get the principle behind this, but here’s where you have a problem: Those teenagers out after 9:00 P.M. would be out past the overall curfew anyway, so they’d already be breaking the law.  What is the need for another law here?  If they’re out past 8:30, they can be arrested (I’m assuming that’s the punishment).  So that right there would solve your teenagers out late problem.  Banning trick-or-treating for anybody above the 8thgrade is simply ageism.  You cannot discriminate against somebody like this.  I’ll accept a curfew (although I have problems with those at times too), but to ban outright the practice of trick-or-treating for ANYBODY (other than felons who lose some rights when they’re convicted) is discrimination, and in my view, illegal!

Now, the mask/disguise ordinance.  You’re telling me that a 16-year-old kid can’t wear a mask outside at a Halloween party the night before Halloween (Devil’s Night if you live here in Detroit)?  Or what if a Star Trek convention comes to Belleville?  Are you telling me that masks aren’t allowed?  It’s ridiculous!  Unfortunately, without the ordinance I don’t have the city’s legal definition of “disguise” but would this apply to people dressed up as Santa Clause?  Are you going to haul away the Salvation Army Santa for being in a “disguise” on a day other than Halloween?  It’s dumb.  It restricts the Freedom of Speech (this isn’t a dress code in school we’re talking about here – this is just being out in PUBLIC generally!)!  It’s asinine, ridiculous, and it’s unconstitutional.

I hope somebody old goes out and trick-or treats, or wears a mask the day after Halloween so that this can be taken to court and overturned.  I’m a Law and Order Conservative – I abide by the laws.  I don’t speed.  I don’t drink underage.  I’ve never stolen a candy bar.  But when the law goes against Constitutional principles, it MUST be disobeyed so that it can be challenged in court, and this is one time where I say, “Break that law!”

Done Ranting

Ranting Republican
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Fire Marshal Handcuffs Woman for Swearing

August 21, 2008

Alright, so I heard about this on the radio earlier this week, but I’ve been so busy getting ready for college and other stuff that I just haven’t had time to post this.

So, here’s what happened:

On August 4th, in La Marque, Texas, 28-year-old Kathryn “Kristi” Fridge went with her mother to the local Walmart (FM 1764 and Interstate 45) with her mother and 2-year-old daugter to get supplies in preparation for impending Tropical Storm Eduardo.

She went over to buy batteries, but there were none left.  Fridge told reporters, “I was like, ‘Dang.’  I looked at my mom and said, ‘They’re all f***ing gone.'”

Captain Alfred Decker, the La Marque assistant fire marshal (certified by the state of Texas as firefighter, peace officer, fire investigator and fire inspector) came up to her in uniform, and told her, “You need to watch your mouth” (quote from Fridge).

Fridge told reporters, “I was like, ‘Oh, OK.  Sorry?'”

Decker ordered Fridge to follow him to his car, because that was where his citation book was, but she protested.  She eventually listened, but as he led her to his car, she yelled to some on-lookers, “Can you believe this?  He’s f***ing arresting me for saying ‘f***’!”

She later told reporters, “When I got outside, I saw he was a fire marshal — I saw his car.  I said, ‘You’re not even a cop!’  He said,  ‘I can do this.'”

Decker then asked for her name, and she spelled it out both verbally and in sign language (according to her – Decker hasn’t commented because there’s a pending court case).  She said that this angered him and he handcuffed her.

But La Marque Fire Chief Todd Zacherl said that because Fridge made a scene, Decker was forced to act.  He told reporters, “She cussed him, she cussed everybody. By now, we have a huge group of people looking.”  Fridge denies this saying that she never cursed at Decker.  Her mother (Kathryn Rice, from Santa Fe) backed up her story, saying, “She never got nasty with him; she never cussed at him.”

Zacherl went on to say that Decker handcuffed her for his own safety, because Fridge was being belligerent and Decker had to turn his back to get his citation book and run her name to see if she had any warrants.

Fridge was then ticketed for disorderly conduct (a Class C misdemeanor) and then released.

On August 7th, Fridge went to the La Marque Fire Department to speak with Zacherl, and she took forms to file an official complaint, but as of last week had not filed the papers yet.

She told reporters, “I’m not out to sue or get money—I just want them to drop this ticket.  Yes, I probably shouldn’t have cussed in public, but he took it way too far.”

Zacherl disagreed, saying, “When you’re in uniform, you have to uphold the laws.  It’s like if he was on the way home and saw a drunk driver—he had to act.”

Personally, I think the fire marshal was perfectly in the right here.  He handcuffed her for his own safety.  He didn’t arrest her, he detained her.  This is a common practice that police officers use to ensure their safety.  It was HER who caused the scene, not him.  It was either handcuff her or call for back-up (which would mean calling the police department, since it’s not the fire marshal’s job to back somebody up like that).

As for the legality of the ticket, it’s perfectly within Texas law.  You can’t go around swearing.  The public as a whole has decided that they do not want profanity allowed in public (they did this by electing the officials who put that law into practice, and have not disagreed with that law by passing a citizen sponsored initiative to overturn it).

This was done in a public place where there are children who don’t need to be subjected to profanity.  I know little 3-year-olds who go around using the f-word because their parents just curse whenever they want to.

This isn’t a violation of free speech.  I can’t go up to a little 4-year-old and say, “Hey you little f****er!” so saying it within hearing distance of anybody else violates that principle of “breach[ing] the peace”.

On the radio show that I heard the story on, there was a caller who said she should file assault charges, since he touched her without her consent.  He is a certified officer, and has an obligation to uphold the law.  While upholding the law, he is exempt to some degree from assault charges.  He didn’t abuse her, he handcuffed her.  Criminals can’t sue cops for touching them as they are handcuffed, and this case is NO different.

The fact that there was an outcry because of this (although most reaction was in the fireman’s favor) shocks me.  Where is our sense of law and order?  There’s a difference between civil liberties and anarchy, but the two are beginning to become confused in the minds of many Americans.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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A Reflection on Independence Day 2008

July 5, 2008

So, I wrote early yesterday morning, a Happy Fourth of July post, and decided to just reflect on my day today.

Again, I had to work (double shift on a holiday = LOTS of money, which I desperately need).  I saw the DSO’s Salute to America again, and it just makes me happy to hear the patriot songs, followed by the 1812 Overture.  When I got home, I walked outside, and just looked up into the sky, listening to the sounds of parties still going on, illegal fireworks going off in the neighborhood, taking in the smell of back-yard “campfires.”  I just stared at the stars, and a bunch of wispy cirrus clouds moving in, making it just a beautiful night.  And I just started thinking about America and our independence, and it just made me happy.  But at the same time, there are troops overseas who can’t enjoy this happiness here at home, and that made me feel terribly sad.  I love this time of year, but it’s also an emotional time for me.  I don’t know why, but the subject of soldiers is just emotional for me.

I stayed out there for probably a half hour, just thinking about all of this, and even though Independence Day is officially over (at least in Michigan), I’d encourage everyone to just go outside and reflect a little.  It’s a nice break from everyday routines.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Happy Independence Day and a Thank You to the Troops

July 4, 2008

232 years ago today, our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence, declaring independence from England.  That was a new freedom for many.  Since then, millions of Americans have sacrificed their lives defending that freedom.

We often think of these brave men and women at “the important holidays” – today, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, etc., but they deserved to be remembered EVERY day of the year, after all, they didn’t just sacrifice their lives 3 days a year.

Today I saw the Detroit Symphony Orchestra perform their Salute to America concert at Greenfield Village, and I heard their tribute to the armed forces with their Armed Forces Medley.  As I heard each theme song, and as the members of  the branches of the armed forces stood up when it was their turn, a chill came about me as I looked around at all the men and women who were willing to give  their all for the  sake of the country.  The applause for those men and women resounded through the field, and it truly felt great to be an American.

Today, I ask all of us to remember that freedom is not free, and we must continue to fight for the principles that those men signed for 232 years ago.

I’d like to thank all of the troops currently serving, whether in Iraq, Korea, Australia, or Somalia, the troops on reserve, ready to go if needed, the veterans who have already served, the families of all of these great Americans – it’s a hard  life, and mostly, I’d like to thank those who have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.  Unfortunately, your sacrifices have been needed to keep us all free, but we will NOT forget your sacrifices.

Let us never forget this day and the people who have defended the principles of this day.

God bless you all, and God bless America.

Now go eat some FOOD!

Done Celebrating,

Ranting Republican
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A Thank You and Tribute to Our Troops on Memorial Day

May 26, 2008

First, I would like to take this opportunity on Memorial Day to thank our troops who are currently serving overseas, whether that be in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Australia, Germany, South Korea, or wherever, and those who are serving here at home.

Second, I would like to thank those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, to protect the freedom of this and other countries.  You’re sacrifices will never be forgotten by me, and I hope that they will never be forgotten by ANY American.

Third, I would like to reach out to the families of those serving in the armed forces, and those who have lost loved ones.  I have friends overseas.  I know what it is like to see friends leave, and although I have never lost a friend (thank God), it is still hard to see friends go overseas.  God bless you all as you go through one of the hardest times of your lives.

I feel that many people don’t appreciate, or at least take for granted, the sacrifices that so many have given to protect this country.  For instance, while at work today, we had a 1 minute moment of silence throughout the entire complex at 3:00 P.M.  For the most part, it was completely silent.  30 seconds into it, the manager of my department starts talking on the radio.  The same manager who had come around telling everybody to make sure that we observed the moment of silence was now blabbering on about something irrelevant in the middle of the moment of silence.  After the minute was over, I overheard some of the manager’s assistants who were at my location talking about how shocked they were that that happened.

And this is the attitude that has spread to a large part of America.  Sure, we celebrate Memorial Day with hot dogs and hamburgers and a day off work (well, not for me).  But how many of these people have a flag flying in their yard or a yard sign supporting the troops?  Not enough.

Be thankful that we’ve gone this long without a major war.  Be thankful that we’ve gone this long without a war that has threatened us here on our very soil.  Be thankful that we have men and women willing to fight for our safety.

I’d like to leave you with a video of Tim McGraw’s song “Already Home”:

God Bless America, and more importantly, God bless our troops, living and fallen, and their families, who are serving America today, and who have served America the past 232 years.

Done Thanking,

Republican Ranting
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