Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘President Barack Obama’

16th September 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that leaders from the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar (sometimes colloquially referred to as Burma) are set to travel to the United States of America. In fact, popular pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi appears poised to make a sojourn to the US, her first in some time. To quote directly from the official website of Voice of America, voanews.com:

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Burma’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is set to embark on a visit to the United States, highlighted by awards and meetings with senior U.S. government leaders and the Burmese community… In her first trip to the United States in two decades, Burma’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, will be given awards for her long struggle for political reform in Burma and will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama…

Readers are encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full.

For those unfamiliar with the efforts of Aung San Suu Kyi it should be noted that notwithstanding overwhelming adversity she has remained a staunch supporter of democracy for citizens of Myanmar and was recently elected to that nation’s lower house of parliament. However, she is not the only official from Myanmar who appears set to make a notable trip to the United States. It would appear that the current President of Myanmar, Thein Sein, is also slated to make a US voyage. In order to provide further elucidation regarding these events it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Jakarta Globe, TheJakartaGlobe.com:

Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Myanmar leader Thein Sein is to visit the United States for the first time as president of the fast-reforming nation, officials said Wednesday, after Washington waived visa restrictions…“The president will visit the UN and US for three days,” a Myanmar official told AFP, adding that the Myanmar leader is set to leave for the US on September 24. US President Barack Obama last month ordered an exception to a visa ban on Myanmar’s leaders to let Thein Sein travel freely during the UN summit…

The administration of this web log asks that readers click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail.

Those unfamiliar with current US-Myanmar relations should note that there are a number of restrictions placed upon Burmese leaders when it comes to US travel. Some could speculate that the exception granted to the President of Myanmar in the form of a visa waiver could be a sign of an increased desire to normalize relations between the somewhat reclusive member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the USA. That said, the future status of relations between the US and Myanmar remains to be seen.

more Comments: 04

16th August 2011

Frequent followers of American political developments may have noted the results of the recent Iowa straw poll, a non-binding poll taken to gauge the sentiments of the sovereign State of Iowa‘s electorate. The substance of this posting is not an analysis of that poll, but an analysis of the response of the so-called “mainstream media” in the aftermath of the poll. In order to provide further elucidation it is necessary to quote directly from an Associated Press article featured on Yahoo News at Yahoo.com:

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Ron Paul, once seen as a fringe candidate and a nuisance to the establishment, is shaping the 2012 Republican primary by giving voice to the party’s libertarian wing and reflecting frustration with the United States’ international entanglements. The Texas congressman placed second in a key early test vote Saturday in Ames, coming within 152 votes of winning the first significant balloting of the Republican nominating contest. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota won the nonbinding Iowa straw poll, but Paul’s organizational strength and a retooled focus on social issues set him up to be a serious player in the campaign. “I believe in a very limited role for government. But the prime reason that government exists in a free society is to protect liberty, but also to protect life. And I mean all life,” he told a raucous crowd on Saturday… Later Saturday, Paul won 4,671 votes, or roughly 28 percent of the votes from party activists who flocked to a college campus for the daylong political carnival Paul’s narrow second-place finish pushed former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty down to third, leading Pawlenty on Sunday to abandon his effort to challenge President Barack Obama next November… [sic]

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this enlightening story in detail.

Of interest to this blogger is the fact that only recently the campaign of Ron Paul was viewed as “outside the mainstream” by some commentators, but that view appears to be fading away. Meanwhile, Representative Ron Paul is not the only candidate to have apparently gained ground in the aftermath of the Ames Straw Poll as Representative Michele Bachmann, the winner of the poll, has seen something of a “boost in momentum” as of late. Although the campaign is far from over and an ultimate Republican nominee remains to be seen, the 2012 campaign is shaping up to be quite interesting and arguably unique from an historical perspective. This stated, there is little doubt that President Barack Obama will be a formidable adversary in the upcoming general election (as evidenced by his strong campaign in 2008). Therefore, those, like this blogger, who follow politics the way others may follow sports or favorite TV programs may find the 2012 campaign to be exciting indeed.

In the world of American politics it has often been said that “Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows”. This maxim is quite correct, but perhaps a variation on this theme is appropriate under the circumstances: “Budget Deficits Elicit Strange Solutions”. It recently came to this blogger’s attention that many American States and the District of Columbia are contemplating implementation of various forms of online gaming. To provide further details on these developments this blogger is compelled to quote directly from a recent article posted on the CNBC website, CNBC.com:

The District of Columbia is not thrilled that its residents are traveling to Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to gamble in casinos. Starved for cash, like states across the country, the district wants some of the millions in revenue that gambling generates each year.So district officials want residents to gamble closer to home — inside their homes, actually. Or in cafes, restaurants and bars. By year’s end the district hopes to introduce an Internet gambling hub that would allow Washington residents to play blackjack, poker and other casino-style games…It’s an idea gaining currency around the country: virtual gambling as part of the antidote to local budget woes. The District of Columbia is the first to legalize it, while Iowa is studying it, and bills are pending in places like California and Massachusetts. But the states may run into trouble with the Justice Department, which has been cracking down on all forms of Internet gambling…The states say they will put safeguards in place to deal with the potential social ills. And they say they need the money from online play, which will supplement the taxes they already receive from gambling at horse tracks, poker houses and brick-and-mortar casinos…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting article in its entirety.

Frequent readers of this web log may recall that the current federal restrictions imposed upon certain facets of online gaming are the result of the rather dubious legislative machinations surrounding the passage of the SAFE Port Act (sometimes referred to as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 or UIGEA). As a result of this legislation, some online gaming operators have been subjected to fines and/or sanctions (including the threat of incarceration) for allegedly illegal activity. Therefore, the possibility that States and federal jurisdictions may be contemplating online gaming as a possible source of revenue may come as a relief to some within this interesting and often misunderstood industry. In any event, hopefully arrangements can be made to provide a reasonably beneficial framework from both an operational and revenue generation perspective.

It should be noted that under most circumstances gambling is illegal in the Kingdom of Thailand.

For related information please see: Online Gaming Lawyers.

more Comments: 04

28th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some in the American Capital are urging the United States President to unilaterally raise the American debt ceiling notwithstanding apparent lack of Congressional approval for such action. In order to provide further elucidation on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Politico, Politico.com:

Rep. James Clyburn and a group of House Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling if Congress can’t come up with a satisfactory plan before the Tuesday deadline. Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, said Wednesday that if the president is delivered a bill to raise the debt ceiling for only a short period of time, he should instead veto it and turn to the phrase in the Constitution that says the validity of the U.S. government’s debt “shall not be questioned…”

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this fascinating article in detail.

An interesting facet of the quotation cited above is the fact that political obfuscation seems to be in use in order to misdirect the public from the glaring logical disparity between the notion of an American President unilaterally raising the American debt ceiling and the clearly delineated separation of powers in the Constitution (the separation between the powers of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches) which explicitly rejects such a notion. Furthermore, some commentators have noted that Congress has explicitly set a debt ceiling thereby manifesting their political will with regard to the raising of American debt. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the Financial Times website, FT.com:

If there is no increase in the debt ceiling by August 2, then the Treasury will not have enough money to meet all its commitments without borrowing more money, which it will not be able to do without breaking a wartime law from 1917 that created the debt ceiling.

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.  Further relevant insight is found by quoting directly from the aforementioned section of the 14th Amendment which is posted upon the Wikipedia website, Wikipedia.org:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read about the 14th Amendment and its history in detail.

The important phrase in the above citation is “authorized by law”. To provide illumination regarding the importance of this phrase it is necessary to understand how American law is made. In order for a law to be enacted in the United States it must be passed by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate before being placed upon the desk of the American President for either signature (which denotes enactment) or veto (which can result in the overall defeat of a proposed bill). Should the President veto a piece of proposed legislation then that piece of legislation can overcome said veto only if the House and Senate vote by a 2/3 majority to enact said legislation. Nowhere has it ever been noted that the American President may unilaterally impose debt upon the American public without authorization from the peoples’ representatives in the body of the United States Congress. In fact Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution vests exclusive authority to raise debt in the Congress, to quote directly from the enumerated powers of the United States Constitution as noted on the Wikipedia website Wikipedia.org:

The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;—And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read more about these powers.

Clearly, Congress is the only branch of the American government with the enumerated power to authorize the borrowing of funds in the name of the American People. Therefore, the notion that a President taking such action unilaterally and without the approval of Congress is spurious, fallacious, and downright dangerous as it goes against the plain language of the enumerated powers noted in the provisions of the Constitution itself. Here is an interesting further point to ponder: could the unilateral action of a President which raises the debt level of the United States, notwithstanding Congressional refusal to do so, be construed to be a “debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States” since said action would expressly contradict the will of the Congress (as manifested in the form of the debt ceiling itself) which, pursuant to the provisions of Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, has the exclusive authority “To borrow Money on the credit of the United States”? It is a rather subtle point, but an interesting one nonetheless.

Issues pertaining to the American debt ceiling can, as noted in previous postings on this web log, have an impact upon Consular Processing since every US Embassy, US Consulate, or American Mission abroad could face closure in the face of a US government shutdown that could arise as a result of a failure to reach an agreement regarding the American debt ceiling. There is a theoretical possibility that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) could remain open despite a Government Shutdown since that agency is self-funded. However, such a development remains to be seen. That stated, in order to overcome this obstacle American legislators need to engage in a good faith negotiation regarding the US debt. Using specious arguments to propose questionably legal activities serves no good purpose since such activity could result adverse circumstances for all concerned.

–Benjamin Walter Hart

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

 

more Comments: 04

24th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that there is some speculation regarding the possibility that some sort of repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) may not necessarily be forthcoming. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Lez Get Real website, LezGetReal.com:

None of us have seriously expected that the House of Representatives would take up the Respect for Marriage Act. After all, the Republicans have to try and hold onto what is left of their base, and at this point, they are just scared that the rest of the country is going to turn their back on them…It is not surprising. Boehner is wasting valuable money in order to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court after parts of it were declared unconstitutional and President Barack Obama abandoned the defense of it on that basis…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this insightful article in detail.

The question that this blogger would pose regarding Republican support (or lack thereof) for at least a change to DOMA is this: since when did Republicans casually overlook glaring issues such as that of States’ Rights? Pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution of the United States of America public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every State shall receive Full Faith and Credit from that State’s sister States. Although the federal government is permitted to regulate as to the “effect” of such acts, proceedings, and records; it would appear to this blogger that said government is not permitted to abrogate State acts, proceedings, and records via mere “non-recognition”. That stated, a final resolution on these issues has yet to be seen.

On a related topic, it would appear that the sovereign State of New York has heeded the call of her citizenry and thereby placed them one step closer to the ultimate goal of full LGBT Equality. In order to provide sufficient insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the New York Post, NYPost.com:

The Big Apple said “I do” to a new era of gay rights this morning and celebrated New York City’s first same-sex weddings. Chelsea residents Phyllis Siegel, 77, and Connie Kopelov, 85, got hitched at the marriage bureau on Worth Street in Lower Manhattan at 9:02 a.m., setting off wedding bells across Gotham. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is openly gay, witnessed the ceremony that was officiated by City Clerk Michael McSweeney. ‘‘It was just so amazing,’’ said Siegel, who has been with her love for 23 years. ‘‘It’s the only way I can describe it. I lost my breath and a few tears.’’ She added: ‘‘This is the first day of the rest of our lives…’’

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this well written article.

The State of New York joins other American States such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in providing marriage benefits to same sex couples. Frequent readers of this blog may note that this news is perhaps cold comfort to the many same sex bi-national couples who are currently separated due to enforcement of the provisions of DOMA. Pursuant to the language of DOMA, even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in one of those jurisdictions in which said unions are legalized and/or solemnized are not permitted to obtain visas such as the K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or IR-1 visa in the same way as different-sex couples. That stated, proposed legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) or the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) should resolve these issues, but passage of said legislation remains to be seen.

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

more Comments: 04

21st July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that multiple media outlets are reporting upon the recent Senate hearings discussing the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide sufficient insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Lez Get Real, LezGetReal.com:

Al Franken looks bored. That is not surprising. Committee hearings are rather boring. The Senate Judiciary Committee has been hearing evidence both for and against repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. While the hearing heard testimony about the financial and symbolic damage that DOMA does to couples, it is unlikely that the Respect for Marriage Act will get anywhere in the House where the Republicans will ignore it. Heading up the push for the RFMA is Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. When DOMA first came in, Senator Leahy voted for it, but a decade and a half later, he has changed his mind and is pushing to end it. He has also hailed the decision by President Barack Obama to support the repeal of DOMA…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this interesting story. This blogger must admit that he was rather pleasantly surprised by the questioning posed by Senator Al Franken which can be viewed by clicking on the relevant links above.

Those unfamiliar with the currently unfolding debate involving DOMA should note that that legislation in its present form precludes those in a same sex marriage (even one solemnized and/or legalized by one of the sovereign American States) from receiving similar benefits compared to those in a different-sex marriage. For example, a same sex bi-national couple is unable to obtain visa benefits such as the K-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, or the CR-1 visa in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts. Meanwhile there are many other federal benefits that are not generally accorded to same sex partners. In order to provide further elucidation on these points it is necessary to quote directly from The New Civil Rights Movement website, TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com:

Immigration for Bi-​National Couples. Nearly 26,000 same-​sex couples in the United States are bi-​national couples who could be forced to separate because they cannot participate in green-​card and accelerated citizenship mechanisms offered to non-​citizen spouses of American citizens…There are 581,300 same-​sex couples in the United States, including 50,000 to 80,000 legally married same-​sex and another 85,000 who are in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships. Approximately 20% of same-​sex couples are raising nearly 250,000 children, and DOMA deprives them of the legal and social protections being married offers. Additionally, almost one-​fourth of same-​sex partners are people of color, over 7% of individuals in same-​sex couples are veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and same-​sex couples live in every congressional district and in almost every county in the United States…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click through the hyperlinks noted above to read this very insightful article in full.

It should be noted that in the United States House of Representatives legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) have been introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler in order to provide some sort of remedy to the current predicament faced by LGBT couples. As noted in the first excerpt quoted there is pessimism regarding the reaction of Republican legislators to the aforementioned proposed legislation. That stated, there are significant States’ Rights implications of these issues especially in light of the language regarding Full Faith and Credit in the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. Therefore, speculation regarding willful ignorance of issues pertaining to DOMA and the RFMA by the United States House of Representative may ultimately prove unfounded although vigilance may still be necessary in the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

more Comments: 04

10th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that reports have come out regarding the possibility of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heading the World Bank. To quote directly from the official website of The Telegraph, Telegraph.co.uk:

Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, has been in discussions with the White House about stepping down from her foreign policy job next year to becoming head of the World Bank, it has been reported. Mrs Clinton, the former First Lady, Senator for New York and rival to Mr Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary race, is said to be eager to become the first female president of the World Bank should the post become vacant next year.”Hillary Clinton wants the job,” a source close to Mrs Clinton told Reuters, which broke the news of the possible move.

The administration of this blog encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more.

Issues associated with international banking have been making headlines in recent weeks. Such reports became more acute following the arrest of the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in the sovereign State of New York on sexual assault charges. Readers are asked to keep in mind that Mr. Strauss-Kahn has not been convicted of any crime as of the time of this writing and therefore, in the eyes of American law, he is innocent until proven guilty.

Readers may note that leadership of the international banking community made news in the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after calls were made to consider an Asian candidate for the top IMF posting. Officials in China also have been reported to have made statements regarding the position of IMF head. It remains to be seen just how these issues will ultimately play out and who shall eventually be at the helm of international banking, but for observers of global relations, economics, finance, and politics this is certainly a very interesting time.

In rather unrelated news (but pertinent to this blogger), it was recently reported that the Great State of Kansas has experienced a very uncommon weather phenomenon. For further elucidation it may be best to quote directly from the official website  of KSN News, KSN.com:

WICHITA, Kansas — Last night Wichita experienced a very rare weather phenomenon known as a “Heat Burst.” At 12:22 a.m. the temperature at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport was 85 degrees. At 12:44 the temperature spiked to 102 degrees. This was a 17 degree increase in only 20 minutes. Winds also gusted between 50 and 60 MPH. The heat burst winds and temperatures rapidly dissipated as they spread across Sedgwick and Southern Butler Counties…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read more from this insightful report.

Kansas is often the scene of incredible meteorological phenomenon, but an increase of 17 degrees in a time span of 20 minutes is tremendous by anyone’s estimation. Hopefully, such developments will not have an adverse impact upon the people, agriculture, and ecology of that jurisdiction.

For other relevant information please see: Department of State.

more Comments: 04

6th February 2011

Those who read this blog frequently may have noticed that the administration has been keeping track of the proposed extension to the so-called “Patriot Act.” It appears that there are efforts being made on Capitol Hill to streamline the passage of a bill which would extend this important Act. To quote directly from a recent article on RT.com a Russian News Source for global news:

Now that the major provisions of the Act are about to expire, the US Senate’s Judiciary Committee is in a real hurry to rubberstamp the extension of the Act rather than discuss and debate the far-reaching measures.

As the US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California put it “They expire in three weeks and I think there’s no time really to go into the changes.”

Let’s take a look at the above quotation for a moment. The Senator would appear to be saying that the bill should be passed “as is” without significant discussion due to the fact that there is “no time” for any discussion. Doesn’t this conflict with the fact that within the same quotation the Senator notes that there are three weeks left before the Patriot Act expires? How then is there “no time” to discuss the bill, when there are in fact approximately 3 weeks left to discuss the bill? This blog posting was not written to discuss the details of the Patriot Act, but instead to discuss the issue of what appears to be legislative shirking. In recent history there have been several examples of a disturbing trend within the Federal Legislature. Namely, the notion that bills coming before said legislature which have incredible ramifications for the American people and the Institutions that make up the American way of life should be “passed first and discussed later”. RT.com delves into this issue further:

There was ‘no time’ either for real debate back in 2001, when the Patriot Act was adopted weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

According to Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, the lawmakers had not even read what they were passing.

“What happened once the Patriot Act was passed, the Fourth Amendment right – to be protected from unreasonable searching was just thrown out.”

To provide clarity to the reader, Congressman Kucinich is referring to the Constitutional Rights guaranteed under the 4th amendment to the United States Constitution which, to quote from Wikipedia, states:

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.

RT.com continues:

The Congressman was one of the very few who openly opposed the Act.

“We have a challenge to the essence of democracy with the very existence of the Patriot Act,” Denis Kucinich warns. “And of course its name – the Patriot Act – who would want to oppose the Patriot Act, because it makes it sound as though you’re a patriot if you are for it. But actually the idea of tying patriotism to the destruction of cherished constitutional privileges needs in itself to be challenged.”

This blogger does not point this out in an effort to criticize Mr. Kucinich, but strictly speaking pursuant to the plain language of the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as quoted above, the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures is a RIGHT, not a privilege. Those reading this posting who would accuse this blogger of being overly interested in semantics should note that there is a substantial distinction between rights and privileges in jurisprudence. As usual, Wikipedia turns out to have the most concise synopsis of the differences between rights and privileges in layman’s terms. To quote directly from Wikipedia’s entry on the issue of rights vs. privileges:

A privilege is a special entitlement to immunity granted by the state or another authority to a restricted group, either by birth or on a conditional basis. It can be revoked in certain circumstances. In modern democratic states, a privilege is conditional and granted only after birth. By contrast, a right is an inherent, irrevocable entitlement held by all citizens or all human beings from the moment of birth.

The above digression is not intended to be a jab against Mr. Kucinich as his use of the term privilege was likely unintentional. Instead, this digression was an attempt to elucidate the importance of the distinction between rights and privileges.

To get back to the issue of the Federal Legislature’s apparent reluctance to discuss the Patriot Act extension on the basis of “time constrains” the question must be posed: what is the United States Senate’s job if it is not to discuss pending legislation? According to the website senate.gov, United States Senators are paid 174,000 USD per annum. To quote another page from senate.gov:

Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. They are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80 percent of his or her final salary.

The compensation of United States Senators is not really the crux of this posting, but the above cited figures are noted in an effort to show that US Senators are not uncompensated for their service to the United States of America. This begs the question: what are they compensated for? The short answer: to legislate, which includes discussing pending legislation or proposed extensions to previously enacted legislation! In many ways, the United States Senate was specifically designed to be a deliberative body which would slowly and intelligently scrutinize proposed legislation, or to quote US Senator John Kyl on senate.gov:

George Washington likened the House to hot tea, and the Senate was the “saucer” that cooled it.

Clearly, the Senate’s raison d’etre is to do exactly the opposite of what Senator Feinstein has suggested. Instead of acting as a “rubber stamp” the Senate is to be the great “scrutinizer” of proposed legislation. It should be noted that this is not the first instance in recent American history that expedience has been cited as a valid reason for railroading through legislation with little or no scrutiny. To cite just one example: the bailout legislation. To quote Representative Brad Sherman from California when discussing said legislation on the House floor:

The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and sustaining a panic atmosphere. That atmosphere is not justified. Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday, that the sky would fall, the Market would drop two or three thousand points the first day-another couple thousand the second day-and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no. That’s what I call fearmongering. Unjustified. Proven wrong. We’ve got a week, we’ve got two weeks to write a good bill. The only way to pass a bad bill: keep the panic pressure on.

Clearly, Representative Sherman was not a supporter of the “legislate first, ask questions later” philosophy. That said, the financial legislation that resulted in the banking bailouts would appear to have been, at least partially, the result of high pressure tactics utilized by those hoping to see that legislation’s passage. What was the result of passing such important legislation without careful analysis? Significant amounts of money allocated as a result of the bailouts has not been accounted for and many Americans have noted their disapproval of the way in which public funds were allocated. Meanwhile, the economy continues to be turbulent. Prior to the passage of the bailout bill, expediency was one of the major themes trumpeted by those in support of the legislation’s passage. In the aftermath of the bill’s passage there are many who wonder if it might not have been better to have taken a more deliberate approach toward that legislation.

Federal legislators’ seeming lack of enthusiasm about discussing the extension of the Patriot Act comes on the heels of recent announcements that Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation appear to have violated the civil rights of a substantial number of Americans during the last decade. To quote directly from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s official website eff.org:

EFF has uncovered widespread violations stemming from FBI intelligence investigations from 2001 – 2008. In a report released today, EFF documents alarming trends in the Bureau’s intelligence investigation practices, suggesting that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed.

The Patriot Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001. There are some who may infer that the passage of the Patriot Act is linked to the apparent violations which have been discovered by EFF.org. Those interested in the the full story on the apparent violations allegedly perpetrated by the FBI are encouraged to check out the full story on EFF.org.

Readers should note that this blogger believes that there is room for debate on any issue which is being proposed for passage by the US Congress and that all Americans are entitled to their opinion regarding the Patriot Act, or any other law for that matter. However, failure to properly vet legislation prior to passage by the US House and Senate should be alarming to anyone no matter what the subject matter of the proposed legislation may be. The following is quoted from a recent article posted on the Voices section of the official website of the Washington Post, WashingtonPost.com:

The Sensenbrenner bill [The House's version of the proposed Patriot Act Extension Bill] is expected to easily pass the Republican-led House next week. The measure would then go on to the Senate, which will be in recess the latter part of next week. The Senate would next be able to take up the bill when it comes back during the week of Feb. 14.

Both chambers are in recess during the week of Feb. 21 for the President’s Day holiday, and by the day they come back — Feb. 28 — the provisions will have already expired.

That means that if the Senate doesn’t act on the House-passed legislation during the week of Feb. 14, the provisions would either expire or both chambers might be forced to call a pro-forma session during their President’s Day recess.

Again, the implication of this quote would seem to suggest that there is not a great deal of time to pass this legislation. In reality, at the time of this writing there are 22 days left before the expiration of the Patriot Act. If the House or Senate is required to come out of recess or forgo a vacation in order to facilitate debate or discussion on a bill that has a dramatic impact upon the rights of US Citizens wouldn’t that be a good thing? After all, isn’t that what legislators are paid to do? Again, the substance of the Patriot Act is not the main point of this article. Instead, this post is written in an attempt to point out the apparently recent habit of the US legislature to enact important legislation with little or no discussion or debate in the name of expedience.

It should be noted that President Barack Obama in conjunction with the previous Congress authorized a previous extension to the Patriot Act in February of 2010. To quote directly from the website ThatsMyCongress.com:

Yesterday, to top it off, the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate passed a reauthorization of Patriot Act provisions without any reform to them. This passage was made via voice vote, a move for secrecy so that no one could track the vote of a specific senator on the issue. The vote to make American citizens’ private lives transparent to the U.S. Government was made in a way to make American senators’ votes opaque to U.S. citizens.

The 2008 promise by Democrats to reform warrantless wiretapping, intrusive surveillance, restore constitutional protections, reject national security letters and reform the Patriot Act has not simply been forgotten. The promise has been broken.

Again, to reiterate, any piece of legislation that would allow the government to gain access to “any tangible thing” during an investigation is, by virtually anyone’s estimation, an important piece of legislation. Therefore, in extending such legislation shouldn’t there at least be discussion? One would think.

For related information please see: Patriot Act Extension.

more Comments: 04

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.