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Author Topic: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?  (Read 955 times)

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Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« on: March 28, 2012, 12:55:44 PM »
https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/how-big-deal-hr-347-criminalizing-protest-bill
http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-761010?hpt=hp_bn1

The thing that scares me is this law puts the public at large in the the crosshairs. The 'zone of no free speech' can easily be defined as broadly as the secret service wishes. (or is instructed) and makes it a FELONY to assemble, practice free speech or voice dissent against the elected people.

When did our elected officials lose touch?

Offline Oniya

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Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2012, 01:55:38 PM »
I'm guessing it was somewhere around deciding that a 'trickle-down economy' would really work, but I'd be willing to accept an earlier date.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2012, 03:00:01 PM »
I'm guessing it was somewhere around deciding that a 'trickle-down economy' would really work, but I'd be willing to accept an earlier date.

That would be a lot funnier if I wasn't seeing a 'Constitutional Scholar' like the president metaphorically peeing on the constitution with disturbing frequency.

Offline Solstice

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2012, 04:32:57 PM »
Your shock appears to be predicated on the assumption that elected officials are actually there to protect and represent the best interests of their constituents, rather than to pursue their own self-interest and continual reelection.

A nice assumption, but one which I am not certain we should necessarily be making.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2012, 04:54:21 PM »
Your shock appears to be predicated on the assumption that elected officials are actually there to protect and represent the best interests of their constituents, rather than to pursue their own self-interest and continual reelection.

A nice assumption, but one which I am not certain we should necessarily be making.

I'm a vet. One that took pride in serving my country. I was against the patriot act, I was against the NDAA 2012 measures. I feel very much that when we give up freedoms for security we get neither. I have been to other countries and seen what giving up these freedoms does to them.

It distresses me to see the people I vote for to protect my interests barter them away for essentially nothing. The is the United States of America, not the Incorporated States Inc. I took my oath of service seriously. I have always felt that EVERY citizen should be aware and responsible for their votes as a measure of self protection.

I won't apologize if I think that men and women should be more, not less, free to speak up against what their government does in our collective name.

Offline Chris Brady

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2012, 05:05:35 PM »
Callie, I don't think you read this statement.

Your shock appears to be predicated on the assumption that elected officials are actually there to protect and represent the best interests of their constituents, rather than to pursue their own self-interest and continual reelection.

A nice assumption, but one which I am not certain we should necessarily be making.

It's great that you are proud of your country, but don't believe your politicians make up the bulk of what SHOULD be right about it.  In fact, if anything the currently elected officials (in North America) have proven to the bane of any right thinking society.

Solstice has been saying what I've been trying to get across for years.  What you're electing isn't a leader.  It's a puppet, to appease the masses and distract them from the men behind the curtain, who truly run the country.

Offline Mathim

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2012, 06:04:55 PM »
I think the earliest we could consider them being 'out of touch' is when they decided that the common people were unworthy of voting for the President and thus creating the Electoral College. Talk about mutual respect.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2012, 08:05:16 PM »
Let's see some of the reasons I worry... In the last decade:

-In a radically growing number of states it is ILLEGAL to record, photograph or otherwise document the police.
-In more than a few states it is illegal to print or otherwise comment anything bad (true or not) on the meat industry. There is a difference between libel/slander and stating an opinion. Fun note: Under some of these laws, Upton Sinclair's The Jungle would have been blocked from being published. Ever.  That was a major factor in the creation of the Food and Drug Administration.
-It's  now been established legally, through TONS of lawsuits, that a farmer can be penalized and sued for cross contamination from outside crops. (Monsanto calls it 'theft')
-Corporations have more 'rights of speech' than average citizens thanks to Citizen's United. The campaign contributions of this election year are already bearing this out. Corporate 'trusts/thinktanks' have already spent more money since January than was spent in the ENTIRE 2000 election process.
-It's possible to be detained indefinitely, without formal charges, legal representation, or due process. Just because the government says you are a terrorist or a sponsor of terrorists. (Without a court, who evaulates said proof?)
-Now we can have loosely defined areas of 'relevant government facilities' declared as places where protesting is now a felony. With the criteria being defined by the secret service and/or government officials. Which leaves it open for a very very flexible scale on which 'dissent' can be evaulated.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 08:08:59 PM by Callie Del Noire »

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2012, 08:07:18 PM »
I'm guessing it was somewhere around deciding that a 'trickle-down economy' would really work, but I'd be willing to accept an earlier date.

I'd place it roughly when the first political parties were formed. Old G.W. had it right:
Quote
However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2012, 09:28:50 PM »
Quote from: CallIE del Noire
-In a radically growing number of states it is ILLEGAL to record, photograph or otherwise document the police.

In 2010, it turned out that security staff at the U.S. embassies to Norway and Sweden had been monitoring "the movements of suspicious people" in the city quarters close to the embassy compounds (in the inner city districts of respective capitals); these security people (CIA or the like) had routinely been given rather a free hand with police registers of criminal records and of police research data, stretching back many years, if they wanted to check up on any persons or groups that had caught the interest of said spooks; this had been offered top secret,. of course, by groups of select Scandinavian police and military guys, but with dim authorization from the government. The ministers in question denied all knowledge of this, which was dismissed as "laughable" by some journalists and intelligence work experts.

The embassies also took it upon themselves to stop passers-by from photographing outside the embassy compounds. It all happened without any obvious "image of threat" against those spots and their staff, and without any kind of judicial procedure.

It seemed very likely, too, that the intelligence and security staff of these places were not just setting up registers of "suspect people" of their host countries according to their own judgment, but may have been given access to similar very grey-zoned registers of political affiliations and activities (communists or leftists, mostly - not neo-Nazis) that have been kept - and denied knowing - by various shadowy agencies operating as henchmen of the Norwegian and Swedish social democratic parties, and the governments these have led (for many years, the SD used to have the long-term upper hand in the parliaments and governments here, though it's now a thing of the past).

The logical next step, of course, would be that the security people had been given access to data from internet traffic tapping made under secrecy in Scandinavia. Like everybody else we're part of this alphabet soup too, and in 2008 Sweden passed a controversial new law authorizing surveillance of traffic data and, if deemed necessary by certain semi-spook agencies, listening in on any internet traffic of "suspect nature" (the infamous "FRA law"). Just who could get access to the data they fished out, or to shadowy conclusions from it - you know, putting someone on a black list due to classified data - has been a running topic of debate ever since, among legal people, politicians, military and the general public, but no one, in 2010, had sufficient weight to clear up whether the embassies of other countries could partake in those data. Given how spinelessly our government has been acting sometimes (and in secret) when approached by American consults, it's not unlikely though.

All of the above would be illegal of course. An embassy is not entitled to doing its own police work on the streets of the host country, of shuffling through secret police files of that country or of stopping people from taking a pic of their buildings, just by the click of their fingers and without any clear mandate from the national police force. Okay., everyone knows that embassies routinely do some of this without asking, and I understand the concerns about terrorism given the embassy bombings in eastern Africa and - after these activities were dug up - the terrorist attacks in and near Oslo last summer, but Scandinavia has been almost completely free of seriously violent terrorist groups for a hundred years - Mr. Breivik was something completely new and special - and it's actually not good at all to give the discretion for "what kind of stuff counts as suspicious or anti-American" to the embassies and their own CIA people, when they're operating or surveying on foreign soil. This is pretty much the same lack of clarity as in the on-US-soil law you're talking of here.

Of course the response from the governments of these two countries was evasive and lukewarm: no one wants a quarrel with the U.S., even if it's mainly with its spooks and the people whom they report to, nor with one's own citizens. It did make a stir in the general public though. And if this is happening in Sweden and Norway then it's sure to be going on elsewhere
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 10:28:21 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Oniya

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Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2012, 02:28:06 AM »
That would be a lot funnier if I wasn't seeing a 'Constitutional Scholar' like the president metaphorically peeing on the constitution with disturbing frequency.

There's a political cartoon in there somewhere.  I'm just not sure where it could be published.

Offline Callie Del NoireTopic starter

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2012, 09:14:31 AM »
There's a political cartoon in there somewhere.  I'm just not sure where it could be published.

It depresses me. Truly. I cannot begin to say how much I'm disillusioned with the elected representatives of my country right now. I try to be hopeful and work to do my part to make the system work and give those I vote for my voice and opinions.

The more I see in the last year, the more I despair.

Part of me wonders how the two party system can be broken, because unless REAL leaders step up and do just that.. we'll wind up with no liberties and people getting shot in the streets and all the bad parts of the civil rights movement of the 50s/60s and 70s.

Offline Valerian

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2012, 11:49:16 AM »
Unfortunately, so-called governor Walker made Wisconsin sort of take the lead in policies like that.  His ill-advised and infamous "four persons constitutes a rally" statute is still, technically, in effect after being passed last December.  However, Tea Partiers are constantly complaining that the law isn't being enforced, because capitol police still refuse to do so unless the protesters are also breaking other (more sane) laws.  So around here it hasn't made any real difference; but then, that's usual for us.

On the federal level, I'm not sure if there would be a similar backlash from whoever would be mainly expected to enforce said law.  Locally, the Tea Party has been managing to alienate law enforcement more and more all the time; federally I don't think that's happening to any large extent.

Offline vtboy

Re: HR 347, or how out of touch are our elected officials?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2012, 03:15:02 PM »
Anybody read the Act? Here is a link:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr347enr/pdf/BILLS-112hr347enr.pdf

I trust no one is terribly troubled by the parts of the statute which would keep protesters a reasonably safe and non-intrusive distance from: (1) those committed to the protection of the Secret Service (e.g., the president, the vice president, a visiting head of state or dignitary); and (2) places where government functions would be obstructed (e.g., military bases, the interiors of government office buildings, etc.).

It has long been settled law that government may impose reasonable, content-neutral, time and place restrictions on the exercise of speech, without giving offense to the First Amendment. These sorts of restrictions, necessary to permit orderly functioning of government and to avoid excessive infringement upon the activities of others, generally have little impact on the visibility or effectiveness of protesters. For example, that those who protested for and against the Health Care Affordability Act over the last three days were confined to the street, as opposed to the interior of the Supreme Court, neither deterred the protesters from assembling nor the media from covering them.   

The part of the revised law which seems the most potentially problematic is subsection (c)(1)(C) which permits extension of the restriction to places used in connection with something designated a "special event of national significance." This standard strikes me as a bit too loosey-goosey, since it seems to give an unnamed someone or agency unfettered discretion to decide which events qualify. Perhaps some other federal statute identifies the decision maker, and reasonably circumscribes the decision maker's power. Or, perhaps the Act was accompanied by Congressional findings which will allow the courts to find implicit limitations on the granted authority and to determine whether, so limited, the authority is constitutional. Or, perhaps the power granted is just too broad and undefined to be tolerated under the First Amendment.     

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts. It seems unlikely to me, in any case, that H.R. 374 presages the arrival of an Orwellian state.