What is a Fusion Center, and why should I worry?

Free Talk Live Catherine Bleish talks about how the Feds have purchased the local police using grants.

A quick summery of Fusion Centers and the dangers they pose to civil liberties.

Bleish: This (fusion centers) is a back-door way that your local and state law enforcements are being both federalized and militarized. So now you have the Department of Homeland Security coming in sticking their fingers into your city police departments, into your state highway patrol. And it is getting individuals who are meant to keep the peace, it’s changing their focus to defending the homeland and the war on terror.

We visited the Phoenix fusion center; they actually said, ‘If you are planning a rally or an event in Phoenix or in Arizona they will run your name through the fusion centers databases with no criminal predicate,’ no reason whatsoever, just to check.

This may seem as not much to worry about, but imagine there were background checks on any of the other first amendment rights. How would you feel if going to a house of worship, posting an opinion online, or contacting an elected representative resulted in a background check?

When protected rights are considered suspicious terrorist activities, it’s time to start worrying.

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Thoughtcrimes: Smoking and Abortion

State to force stores to post graphic signs vs. smoking (boston.com)

Massachusetts is poised to become the first state in the nation to force retailers to prominently display graphic warnings about the perils of smoking right where cigarettes are sold — at tobacco sales racks and next to cash registers.

Images of ominously darkened lungs, damaged brains, and diseased teeth could start appearing before the end of the year in more than 9,000 convenience stores, pharmacies, and gas stations, if a proposal by the state Department of Public Health is approved as expected. Other posters would direct smokers to where they can get help to stamp out their habit.

This story has been described on the blogs as another nanny-state proposal. The proposal does seek to control behavior through punishment, but that’s where the nanny analogy ends. In real life, eventually you outgrow a nanny, a nanny can be fired, or you can choose not to pay for an unwanted nanny.

car moneyNannies don’t try to prevent children from doing things they are allowed to do, and they don’t punish children following rules. Nannies can’t force you to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines for not complying with their wishes. Nannies can’t force businesses to post images in an effort to drive away customers.

“If somebody is trying to quit smoking and they go back to the store and they’re tempted — oh, just one pack — we hope this will help them make a different choice,’’ said Lois Keithly, director of the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program.

Thought police or thoughtcrime are more descriptive terms for what is taking place here. If you even think about smoking, you can be punished with unpleasant images or your crime. The “crime” being consideration of a legal action that is not governmentally approved.

George Orwell - 1984Massachusetts is not alone in forcing adults to think state-approved thoughts before performing a legal activity. Oklahoma passed a law that requires women seeking an abortion to see a vaginal ultrasound of the fetus and to hear a description of the fetus.

To those who endorse using the government to force others to think the thoughts you’ve chosen for them: How would you feel about an image of big brother right next to your own on your drivers license, or how about big brother posted right on your front door?

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Thoughtcrimes: Smoking and Abortion

State to force stores to post graphic signs vs. smoking (boston.com)

Massachusetts is poised to become the first state in the nation to force retailers to prominently display graphic warnings about the perils of smoking right where cigarettes are sold — at tobacco sales racks and next to cash registers.

Images of ominously darkened lungs, damaged brains, and diseased teeth could start appearing before the end of the year in more than 9,000 convenience stores, pharmacies, and gas stations, if a proposal by the state Department of Public Health is approved as expected. Other posters would direct smokers to where they can get help to stamp out their habit.

This story has been described on the blogs as another nanny-state proposal. The proposal does seek to control behavior through punishment, but that’s where the nanny analogy ends. In real life, eventually you outgrow a nanny, a nanny can be fired, or you can choose not to pay for an unwanted nanny.

car moneyNannies don’t try to prevent children from doing things they are allowed to do, and they don’t punish children following rules. Nannies can’t force you to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines for not complying with their wishes. Nannies can’t force businesses to post images in an effort to drive away customers.

“If somebody is trying to quit smoking and they go back to the store and they’re tempted — oh, just one pack — we hope this will help them make a different choice,’’ said Lois Keithly, director of the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program.

Thought police or thoughtcrime are more descriptive terms for what is taking place here. If you even think about smoking, you can be punished with unpleasant images or your crime. The “crime” being consideration of a legal action that is not governmentally approved.

George Orwell - 1984Massachusetts is not alone in forcing adults to think state-approved thoughts before performing a legal activity. Oklahoma passed a law that requires women seeking an abortion to see a vaginal ultrasound of the fetus and to hear a description of the fetus.

To those who endorse using the government to force others to think the thoughts you’ve chosen for them: How would you feel about an image of big brother right next to your own on your drivers license, or how about big brother posted right on your front door?

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Ethnicity: Another Reason for Private Competition in Public Schools

These two racially charged stories of government involvement in the public school system make a another good argument for getting government out of the public schools. It’s unfortunate that what brings these stories to the public’s awareness in the racial element, because the underlying problem of forced political education is obscured.

Arizona governor signs bill banning ethnic studies (rawstory.com)

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill targeting a school district’s ethnic studies program, hours after a report by United Nations human rights experts condemned the measure.

State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the bill for years, said he believes the Tucson school district’s Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people.

Michigan Grade School Ends Black-Only Lunch Group (npr.org)

“Lunch Bunch is no longer,” district spokeswoman Liz Margolis said in an e-mail to AnnArbor.com. “It will be discussed among staff and some parents and be reworked. It has a valuable goal of assisting children who are not performing well on the MEAP, and this effort will continue.”

Dicken Principal Mike Madison drew criticism from parents following his decision last week to take members of the African-American Lunch Bunch on a field trip to hear a black rocket scientist at the University of Michigan speak. Only black students were invited on the trip.

The Old Rock SchoolhouseIn the United States there is a commonly held value of respecting other opinions; this respect is not present when it comes to educating the youth on issues dealing with race and ethnicity.

If there were respect for opposing views, there would be open competition among public schools and the force of government would not be used to teach community standards on racial issues.

The issue isn’t about how Arizona or Michigan chooses to teach students on issues of race; the problem is ignoring that parents can not choose how their children are taught. The choice for parents is to either pay for private schools or move to another school district.

It does not matter to me if you are for or against how either of these states handles race in schools. If it were left up to me, I would not have the subject taught at all–not use the force of government to see that my view was forced upon everyone.

If there were private competition of public schools, there would still be schools that teach racial issues like the ones in Arizona or Michigan, but it would also open the doors for schools focused on reading, writing, and arithmetic instead.

A free market for schools would allow parents to make the decision for themselves, there would be an open market for schools teaching parents version of political correctness–and, more importantly, a market for schools NOT teaching political correctness.

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Another Supreme Court Nominee, Another Political Spectrum Debate

With Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court we have to live though a plethora of opinion pieces trying to define this nominee on the political spectrum. The same questions come up each time, are they liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, left or right.

MoneyAs a libertarian, I’m all too very familiar with the annoyance of having others summing up my views as either left or right. Watching Supreme Court nominees go through the process always brings out empathy for the nominee because labeling is something libertarians constantly deal with.

There is no absolute mutually agreed upon scale to sum up political views. Labeling the political philosophy of others is relative to the philosophy of the one offering the opinion.

Bill Ayers sees President Obama as a moderate and Ann Coulter sees John McCain as left-wing. Europeans see most of American politicians as being conservative and the reverse is true that Americans see European politicians as liberals.

Summing up all a person’s views as either being left or right isn’t very informative. From what’s floating around the blogs, Elena Kagan is not liberal enough for endorsing the Bush administration’s category of ‘enemy combatant’ and too liberal for kicking military recruiters off a college campus.

Not that my opinion of the next person on the Supreme Court matters, but instead of applying a label to their views, please list the view in question and then explain the view relative to well known politicians views and spare me the labels.

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Quality of Life comes with Consumer Choice

John Stossel – Big Government Bullies Part 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED94grKcVfU

In this segment, John Stossel interviews Spirit airlines CEO, Ben Baldanza. Spirit airlines is known most recently for charging carry-on baggage fees. Ben Baldanza defends the practice of charging for carry-on bags and states something insightful about capitalism and consumer choices.

Stossel: What do you think of Senator Schumer saying these fees erode the quality of life?

Baldanza: Well the quality of life, I think, comes with consumer choice, to some extent.

Audience: Applause

Baldanza: To me it’s like going to McDonald’s and saying they have to sell french-fries with every hamburger. Now a lot of people buy french fries with a hamburger, but what if you don’t want french fries? McDonald’s still can sell you just the hamburger and not make you pay for the french fries.

There is a loss of the quality of life when the right to decide for yourself what you are willing to pay or not pay for is taken away. Regulations which decide what consumers must buy or cannot buy are encroachments on freedom and diminish the quality of everyone’s’ lives.

McDonald’s recently did experience regulators telling them what they cannot sell, as Santa Clara County did when they recently banned the selling of toys with meals. Deciding for others how and what they can spend their money on diminishes freedom and the quality of life.

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National Day of Prayer – A Deal with the Devil

Some criticism surrounding the controversy over the National Day of Prayer should go to religious organizations–for not complaining about the federal government trespassing on their territory.

ChapelWhy would  religion want endorsement from a group not especially known for moral fortitude? If gamblers or pornographers called for a day to honor religion, there would be massive objections. So where are the objections when the endorsement comes from a group so widely considered morally bankrupt as our politicians?

Religion is far more popular than Washington D.C.; religion being promoted by government is like iPad getting an endorsement from the Kindle. Does it hurt more than it helps?

By endorsing National Prayer Day, politicians hope to borrow some of religion’s popularity,  thus piggyback into projecting an unearned sense of holiness–directly profiting off of God’s popularity in the polls.  How does that promote either religion or morality?

Why do religious organizations tolerate government claiming any authority over prayer? If all the religions in the US declared their own National Day of Prayer, it would have a lot more meaning than a day declared by the government. The significance of the prayer itself should not be overshadowed by who claims they think it should be officially recognized as a good idea.

Most politicians support any position only so long as it serves their purpose. Even sincere politicians have different agendas than religious organizations; politicians can just as easily not support prayer, or endorse something entirely contradictory to a religious agenda if it get votes. By acknowledging government as a legitimate authority on religious matters, religious organizations put themselves at risk for the day when they find conflicts between their interests and government interests.

I think the Rev. Franklin Graham is starting to get the idea that politicians use religion for their purposes and it does not work the other way around.

There were millions of evangelical Christians that voted for Barack Obama in the last election. I don’t think they’ll be at the table next time. I think they’ve seen things from this administration that concern them, that worry them.

On this, federally declared National Day of Prayer: I pray for religious leaders to recognize that accepting a blessing from a politician is making a deal with the devil.

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National Day of Prayer – A Deal with the Devil

Some criticism surrounding the controversy over the National Day of Prayer should go to religious organizations–for not complaining about the federal government trespassing on their territory.

ChapelWhy would  religion want endorsement from a group not especially known for moral fortitude? If gamblers or pornographers called for a day to honor religion, there would be massive objections. So where are the objections when the endorsement comes from a group so widely considered morally bankrupt as our politicians?

Religion is far more popular than Washington D.C.; religion being promoted by government is like iPad getting an endorsement from the Kindle. Does it hurt more than it helps?

By endorsing National Prayer Day, politicians hope to borrow some of religion’s popularity,  thus piggyback into projecting an unearned sense of holiness–directly profiting off of God’s popularity in the polls.  How does that promote either religion or morality?

Why do religious organizations tolerate government claiming any authority over prayer? If all the religions in the US declared their own National Day of Prayer, it would have a lot more meaning than a day declared by the government. The significance of the prayer itself should not be overshadowed by who claims they think it should be officially recognized as a good idea.

Most politicians support any position only so long as it serves their purpose. Even sincere politicians have different agendas than religious organizations; politicians can just as easily not support prayer, or endorse something entirely contradictory to a religious agenda if it get votes. By acknowledging government as a legitimate authority on religious matters, religious organizations put themselves at risk for the day when they find conflicts between their interests and government interests.

I think the Rev. Franklin Graham is starting to get the idea that politicians use religion for their purposes and it does not work the other way around.

There were millions of evangelical Christians that voted for Barack Obama in the last election. I don’t think they’ll be at the table next time. I think they’ve seen things from this administration that concern them, that worry them.

On this, federally declared National Day of Prayer: I pray for religious leaders to recognize that accepting a blessing from a politician is making a deal with the devil.

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Fans of Government and their Victimless Crime Laws

This article caught my attention because it good example why not everyone is a fan of government. Several examples show common traits of bad government: discrimination, encroachment on personal freedom, behavior modification, hypocrisy, and the difficulty of getting rid of laws.

Tour Eiffel au fin du jourParis trouser ban for women could be lifted (Telegraph.co.uk)

A law banning women from wearing trousers in Paris may finally be lifted more than two centuries after first being enforced.

Discriminates against women, check.

The curious rule was first introduced in late 1799 by Paris’ police chief, and stipulated than any Parisienne wishing to “dress like a man” must seek special permission from the city’s main police station.

There are those who will say it was a law for the times, and since we don’t know what things were like back then, we shouldn’t judge. It’s an encroachment on personal freedom regardless of the century. They would not have passed the law if there weren’t some women wearing trousers at the time.

But a group of ten French MPs has now submitted a draft bill to parliament to remove the law, which has survived repeated attempts to repeal it.

In 1892, it was slightly relaxed thanks to an amendment which said trousers were permitted “as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse.”

Then in 1909, the decree was further watered down when an extra clause was added to allow women in trousers on condition they were “on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars.”

Spell out when its appropriate to wear trousers–behavior modification, check.

In 1969, amid a global movement towards gender equality, the Paris council asked the city’s police chief to bin the decree. His response was: “It is unwise to change texts which foreseen or unforeseen variations in fashion can return to the fore.”

Difficult to get rid of a bad law once it’s on the books, check.

Given that trousers are compulsory for Parisian policewomen, they are, in theory, all breaking the law.

I’m sure no policewomen in Paris has been charged with violating this law. Here is government hypocrisy of not following laws they are supposed to enforce.

Sister Antonette
Nun's Habit still legal in France. Ban on burqa = religious and sexual discrimination.

Last by not least is the failure to learn from history. France is considering banning the burqa. While France is trying to shed one discriminatory encroachment on personal freedom, it’s trying to add an almost identical one.

Compare the trouser law in France to laws in the US. Replace the word “trouser” with any of the following: motorcycle helmet, recreational drug, gun, seatbelt, or pornography. US laws have the same underlying dynamics and flaws.

Until the US government follows its own rules and removes discriminatory laws which invade personal liberty and seek to modify behavior, there is no reason to cheer for the government.

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Ron Paul Brings Change, Hope, Accountability, Transparency

White House Wonder Twins Blocking Fed Audit

The “Wonder Twins” referred to in this video are Treasury secretary, Tim Geithner, and White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. The video has an interesting point about what might happen if the Audit the Fed bill passes.

This clip points out there is bipartisan support for the bill in the house and the senate, and yet the White House is opposed.

The White House is trying to prevent change and hope and accountability and transparency. If they lose, and we accidentally get change–sorry Obama–through the senate and the house. Well, then Obama is going to have a very interesting decision to make.

Is he going to veto financial reform to protect the Fed and Wall Street? Well if he does that, then it’s game over. There is no way that anybody in the country can pretend that Obama is for actual change.

The video fails to mention the person who has been working on this issue for thirty years. The person behind this bipartisan bill to bring change, hope, accountability and transparency is Ron Paul.

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