Thursday, December 21, 2006

Libertarian Party

I have received many calls, comments and e-mails reacting to my decision to join the Libertarian Party and serve on its National Committee; all but a handful of these have been very positive. One reason for this positive response has been the fact that my decision was based not on a desire to improve my chances to be elected to office -- a frequent motivation for many of those who switch from Democrat to Republcian or vice versa -- or on a change in my philosophy of governing. My desire to work for maximizing individual freedom and liberty and minimizing government power and intrusion into citizens' lives, has not changed. I have simply found that the only party in America that is truly, deeply and consistently supportive of that philosophy, is the Libertarian party. The Republican Party, in which I labored proudly for decades, and for which I still have deep respect, has lost its way and strayed far from a philosophy rooted in a similar desire for minimizing government power and maximizing individual liberty. I saw nothing that offered hope the Republican Party had any interest at all in even beginning the process of returning to its philosophical roots or to work to restore the checks and balances envisioned by our Founding Fathers. The Libertarian Party, on the other hand, offers not only that hope, but that reality.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Finally! Congress Set To Revive Constitutional Liberties

For five years our constitutionally-guaranteed civil liberties, including our precious right to privacy, have been beaten unmercifully by the Administration, and the Congress has stood idly by and turned a blind eye, without any oversight. That may now change. Incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy pubicly announced yesterday that his committee in 2007 will work to restore constitutional checks and balances for those vital rights. Hopefully, it's not too late to revive the patient.

Government Watch List Mania Continues

It has recently come to light that the Department of Homeland Security has been compiling and using yet another secret "watch list" of US citizens and others, and assigning each individual a score of some sort. No one outside of the brainiacs who develop and maintain the system know what information is being used with which to assign a "terrorist" index, or whatever, to each person; you have no way of knowing the accuracy of either the information going into the computerized database or of the score thus assigned that emerges from the "black box." Privacy problems with earlier such watch lists led the Congress to prohibit the DHS from from continuing the practice, at least until the serious privacy problems already identified with earlier versions fo the lists had been corrected.

The DHS has an interesting response to concerns that this latest watch list effort may be a violation of the legal prohibition against the DHS using such mechanisms. The Secretary apparently believes that the congrssional prohibition notwithstanding, simply because Department officials have given speeches about watch lists, and because a few members of Congress have been briefed on it that this latest watch list, known as the "Automated Targeting System" or "ATS," is okay.

This is a lovely new defense that criminals can now rely on, I suppose: even if you do something that is prohibited by law, so long as you describe for a few people in very general terms what you are doing, then it's okay! Is this a great country, or what?