Here is a statement of the Fourth Amendment as people incorrectly imagine it to be:
Even if we accept the necessity of putting up with warrantless searches, the Fourth Amendment still doesn't provide much protection. It prohibits only unreasonable searches and seizures. It doesn't say what's unreasonable and it doesn't say who gets to decide. There are no guidelines at all. In practice, the cops and the courts decide. Since these are some of the main sources of abuse against which the amendment should have provided protection, the amendment is utterly worthless.
The Power to Choose vs. The Power to Tax
by Sam Aurelius Milam III
The power to tax is the power to destroy.1 However, there are ways to make taxation less destructive. Here's a suggestion. When the taxpayer makes out his check, allow him the option of directing the payment to any government agency or to any government supported institution. Thus, instead of Pay to the Order of the IRS, he could write Pay to the Order of the National Endowment for the Arts, or Pay to the Order of the Bureau of Land Management, or Pay to the Order of the U.S. Navy, or Pay to the Order of whatever he wishes to support. The IRS could simply log the tax as paid and forward the check to the indicated recipient. The power to choose, in the hands of taxpayers, is the power to determine the budget and to control the government.
by Sam Aurelius Milam III
The Supreme Court recently upheld the power of prosecutors to confiscate private property, ruling that such confiscation doesn't violate due process or constitute the unlawful taking of private property. The ruling rejected the appeal of a Michigan woman who was trying to recover the car that her husband had used to patronize a prostitute.2
Thus, the U.S. government is not only the world's premier perpetrator of armed robbery, it is also the world's foremost advocate of hypocritical self deception.
The Power to Whine vs. The Power to Work
by Sam Aurelius Milam III
You don't have to whine to be in a labor union, but it does seem to help. An example is the recent strike at the G.M. plants in Dayton, Ohio. To protect their jobs from potential competition, these people went on strike. Apparently, it didn't occur to them to protect their jobs by learning to do them better and more cheaply than the potential competition. The next time you wonder what's wrong with America, ponder the G.M auto whiners in Dayton, Ohio.
by John H. Webster
In California (and in Washington DC) we have two "houses" of representatives that are both based on district "Winner take all" elections. The result is a legislature that does a fair job of representing the majority of each district only on questions of regional importance.
Many of the most important questions that our legislature faces have nothing to do with regions, but instead have to do with philosophy and values. Examples abound: Death Penalty, Abortion, Drug laws, Government control of the market place, etc.
As an example, say that 30% of the population is against the Death Penalty. Since this issue has very little to do with regions, approximately 30% of the voters in each district would be against the Death Penalty. During times that this issue was a "Hot topic" each candidate would be forced to come down on one side or the other on it, and all that represented the minority view in each district would be defeated. The result would be that no candidates would be elected that represented the minority view.
The State Legislature would then proceed to make laws concerning this critical issue with not one representative voicing the view of 30% of the people.
One of the houses in the Legislature can be by proportional representation. For example, each major group that had a different political view would form a political party that would run state wide. Then when some group/party got 10% of the vote state wide, they would end up filling 10% of the representatives of that house of the Legislature thereby at least getting a voice in the legislative process. The elections would no longer be "Winner take all" and more people would vote their conscience rather than for the lessor of two evils.
I would further propose that before any bill would become law that it would have to get a super-majority (two thirds) in one house of the legislature, and only have to get a simple majority in the other. In practice this would mean that a bill of regional significance would have to do well in the house elected "by district"; a bill of philosophical significance would have to do well in the "proportional" house.
by Sam Aurelius Milam III
Suppose that in a hypothetical election, a Democratic candidate received 40% of the vote for a particular office, a Republican candidate received 30% of the vote, and the Independent and Libertarian candidates received 15% each. Since the Democratic candidate wins the election, sixty percent of the voters don't even get represented.
Suppose that every candidate for an office was always elected. The number of offices would not change but each would be filled by several officials instead of one. The purpose of the election then would be to apportion the power of representation between the candidates. Thus, in the above example, the Democrat would cast 40% of a vote in the legislature, the Republican would cast 30% of a vote, and the Independent and Libertarian would each cast 15% of a vote. The 60% of the voters who wouldn't be represented under the present system would be represented under my proposed system. Coalitions of fractional votes might easily outvote the so-called majority. Also, there would be more representatives in the legislature, several for each seat. Hopefully, this would make it more difficult to pass laws. A final advantage is that the system need not cost the taxpayers any more. The Democratic can get 40% of a paycheck, the Republican can get 30% of a paycheck, and the Independent and Libertarian can each get 15% of a paycheck, all according to the will of the voters.
by Sam Aurelius Milam III
In politics, people have a vested interest in making things as complicated as possible so they can justify their jobs. Consider electoral districts. They've been modified, revised, and gerrymandered so that some of them remind you of spaghetti, snakes, or worms. There's a better way.
Every state in the U.S.A. is already divided into counties (or parishes or whatever). These counties are the next political unit smaller than the state, somewhat like the states are the next political unit smaller than the Union. Instead of voting by electoral districts, why not vote by counties? The people of each county can elect a number of state assemblymen proportional to the population of the county. The county board of supervisors can appoint two state senators from each county. Then the people of the counties will be represented in the state assembly and counties will be represented in the state senate. There's no need for electoral districts.
As with most good solutions to a problem, this one has benefits beyond the immediate situation. In this case, the change will also tend to cause the state government to become a federation of politically independent counties. This decentralizes authority and moves the power closer to home. I like it.
Thank you so much for writing me about terrorism in the United States. I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts with me regarding this important issue now so prominently, and tragically, in the news.
As the cowardly and reprehensible bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, in addition to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, made all too evident, our nation is clearly vulnerable to terrorist attack. I am pleased to report that the Senate took a major step in the effort to protect Americans from the threat of terrorism when it passed the "Comprehensive Terrorism Prevention Act of 1995" (S. 735) on June 7, 1995 by a bipartisan vote of 91-8. I joined with a majority of my colleagues in supporting this legislation because I strongly believe that it will go a long way toward reducing the risk of terrorist attacks on our citizens and national landmarks.
In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, President Clinton called for "swift, certain, and severe" punishment for the perpetrators of that vicious crime. This five-year, $2.1 billion plan to combat terrorist acts will help to achieve that goal. More specifically, this legislation would:
My second amendment would prohibit the teaching or distribution of printed materials about bomb-making techniques by any person who knows the information will be used for criminal purposes. I am confident that these initiatives will help reduce the risk of terrorism in this nation.
I also strongly supported the inclusion of comprehensive habeas corpus reform as part of the counterterrorism bill. Under the current appeals process, convicted criminals are able to delay the imposition of their sentences for years, and sometimes even decades. In fact, since the death penalty was reinstated in California in 1978, more prisoners on death row have died of natural causes than have been executed.
I believe the habeas corpus provisions included in S. 735 strike an appropriate balance between the need to ensure due process to those convicted of both capital and non-capital crimes and the need of any rational judicial system to bring cases to closure.
Please be assured that I read your comments with interest and understand your concerns. I expect that this subject will remain high on the Senate's list of priorities and, as the discussion continues, I will bear your concerns in mind.
Once again, thank you for writing. I value your opinion and hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with me. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact David Long in my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.
With warmest regards.
Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator
By Don Cormier
In her book, The Chalice and the Blade, anthropologist Riane Eisler talks about two types of society — the "dominator" society, and the "partnership" society. "Dominator" societies tend to be rule-oriented, hierarchical, and violent. "Partnership" societies tend to be flexible, egalitarian, and peaceful. According to Eisler, the "dominator" model has prevailed in Europe since the last ice age — but the "partnership" ideal has never been completely suppressed.
From her recent comments in support of various anti-terrorism efforts, it is apparent that Senator Dianne Feinstein subscribes to the "dominator" model of society. She sees more laws and more inequalities of power as the solutions to our current ills.
About a century ago, a very different feminine voice was raised in support of the "partnership" way of life. From across the years, "Red" Emma Goldman supplies this response1 to the notions embodied in Senator Feinstein's letter:
It's a shame that Senator Feinstein's education apparently did not include heavy exposure to the works of Emma Goldman.
Regarding your article concerning rubbing pot over baggage at airports to foul up the system,1 this is both faulty logic and poor planning. I surmise that what you are trying to do is to prove the dogs are worthless, thus getting rid of them. Instead, what you would accomplish is increasing the number of dogs, increasing the number of agents, and delaying your flight if not missing it altogether, because you would be in jail. You would ultimately increase the size of government. What I propose is to smear the bags and other locations at the airport with the secretions from a dog in heat. Since most airport dogs are males, the result would be embarrassed agents forced to remove the love juices from your bags plus messing the dog over making him useless for the entire day.
— R. B.; Colorado Springs, Colorado
I'm not trying to prove that the dogs are worthless — they're very effective. I'm trying to find a way to make them worthless. The logic of my plan is that the Gestapo can't afford to always make everybody miss his flight. However, your idea has a big advantage. My idea wouldn't work unless a lot of people did it. Your idea would work if even one person did it, at least until the Gestapo switched over completely to female dogs. Maybe we should do both plans. Do you suppose that we could find somebody to synthesize eau de chien and package it in spray cans?— editor
I see all those TV commercials just the same as everybody else does, but what's really the quickest way to get rid of gray hair?
— Forty Something
Dear Forty Something
Scissors, hair clippers, or tweezers.
Smitten With Embarrassment Dept.
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor
do not approve of the language used in this article. However, I do
approve of the author's reason for using it. Defiance is a necessary
response to attempted censorship. I hereby join Steve Russell in
his act of defiance.
— editor, Frontiersman
Indecent Comment On An Indecent Subject
by the Honorable Steve Russell
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — You motherfuckers in Congress have dropped over the edge of the earth this time. I understand that very few of the swarm of high dollar lobbyists around the Telecommunications Bill had any interest in content regulation — they were just trying to get their clients an opportunity to dip their buckets in the money stream that cyberspace may become — but the public interest sometimes needs a little attention. Keeping your eyes on what big money wants, you have sold out the First Amendment.
First, some basics. If your children walked by a public park and heard some angry sumbitches referring to Congress as "the sorriest bunch of cocksuckers ever to sell out the First Amendment" or suggesting that "the only reason to run for Congress these days is to suck the lobbyists' dicks and fuck the people who sent you there," no law would be violated (assuming no violation of noise ordinances or incitement to breach the peace). If your children did not wish to hear that language, they could only walk away. Thanks to your heads-up-your-ass dereliction of duty, if they read the same words in cyberspace, they could call the FBI!
Cyberspace is the village green for the whole world. It is the same as the village green our Founders knew as the place to rouse the rabble who became Americans, but it is also different. Your blind acceptance of the dubious — make that dogass dumb — idea that children are harmed by hearing so-called dirty words has created some pretty stupid regulations without shutting down public debate, but those stupid regulations will not import to cyberspace without consequences that even the public relations whores in Congress should find unacceptable. In cyberspace, there is no time. A posted message stays posted until it is wiped. Therefore, there is no way to indulge the fiction that children do not stay up late or cannot program a VCR.
In cyberspace, there is no place. The "community standards" are those of the whole world. An upload from Amsterdam can become a download in Idaho. By trying to regulate obscenity and indecency on the Internet, you have reduced the level of expression allowed consenting adults to that of the most anal retentive blueballed fuckhead U.S. attorney in the country. The Internet is everywhere you can plug in a modem. Call Senator Exon an "ignorant motherfucker" in Lincoln, Nebraska and find yourself prosecuted in Bibleburg, Mississippi. In cyberspace, you cannot require the convenience store to sell Hustler in a white sleeve. The functional equivalent is gatekeeper software, to which no civil libertarian has voiced any objection.
Gatekeeper software cannot be made foolproof, but can you pandering pissants not see that any kid smart enough to hack into a Website is also smart enough to get his hands on a hard copy of Hustler if he really wants one? In cyberspace, there is the illusion of anonymity but no real privacy. lt is theoretically possible for any Internet server to seine through all messages for key words (although it seems likely the resulting slowdown would be noticeable).
Perhaps some of you read about America OnLine's attempt to keep children from reading the word "breast?" An apparently unforeseen consequence was the shutdown of a discussion group of breast cancer survivors. Don't you think more kids are aware of "teat" (pronounced "tit") than of "breast?" Can skirts on piano legs, er, limbs be far behind? But silly shit like this is just a pimple on the ass of the long-term consequences for politics, art, and education. You have passed a law that will get less respect than the 55 m.p.h. speed limit dead bang in the middle of the First Amendment.
Indecency is nothing but a matter of fashion; obscenity is the same but on a longer timeline. This generation freely reads James Joyce and Henry Miller and the Republic still stands. The home of the late alleged pornographer D. H. Lawrence is now a beautiful writers' retreat in the mountains above Taos, managed by the University of New Mexico. Universities all have Internet servers, and every English Department has at least one scholar who can read Chaucer's English — but not on the Internet anymore. Comparative literature classes might read Boccaccio — but not on the Internet anymore. What if some U.S. Attorney hears about Othello and Desdemona
the beast with two backs" — is interracial sex no longer indecent anywhere
in the country, or is Shakespeare off the net?
Did you know you can download video and sound from the Internet? Yes, that means you can watch other people having sex if that is interesting to you, live or on tape. Technology can make such things hard to retrieve, but probably not impossible. And since you have swept right past obscenity and into indecency, the baby boomers had better keep their old rock 'n roll tapes off the Internet. When the Jefferson Airplane sang "her heels rise for me," they were not referring to a dance step. And if some Brit explains the line about "finger pie" in Penny Lane, the Beetles will be gone. All of those school boards that used to ban "The Catcher in the Rye" over cussing and spreading the foul lie that kids masturbate can now go to federal court and get that nasty book kept out of cyberspace. But enough about the past.
What about rap music? No, I do not care much for it either — any more than I care for the language you shitheads have forced me to use in this essay — but can you not see the immediate differential impact of this law by class and race? What is your defense — that there are no African-Americans on the Internet, since they are too busy pimping and dealing crack? If our educational establishment has any sense at all, they will be trying to see more teens of all colors on the Internet, because there is a lot to be learned in cyberspace that has nothing to do with sex.
There are plenty of young people in this country who have legitimate political complaints. When you dickheads get done with Social Security, they will be lucky if the retirement age is still in double digits. But thanks to the wonderful job the public schools have done keeping sex and violence out, we have a lot of intelligent kids who cannot express themselves without indecent language. I have watched lawyers in open court digging their young clients in the ribs every time the word "fuck" slipped out.
Let's talk about this fucking indecent language bullshit. Joe Shea, my editor, does not want it in his newspaper, and I respect that position. He might even be almost as upset about publishing this as I am about writing it. I do use salty language in my writing, but sparingly, only as a big hammer. Use the fucking shit too fucking much and it loses its fucking impact — see what I mean? Fiction follows different rules, and if you confine your fiction writing to how the swell people want to see themselves using language, you not only preclude literary depiction of most people but you are probably false to the people you purport to depict. Do you remember how real language used by real people got on the air and in the newspapers? Richard Nixon, while he was president, speaking in the White House about official matters. A law professor and a nominee for Supreme Court justice arguing about pubic hairs and porno movies during Senate hearings. Are these matters now too indecent for the Internet? How much cleansing will be required of the online news services? Answer: Enough cleansing to meet the standard of what is appropriate for a child in the most restrictive federal judicial district.
This is bullshit — unconstitutional bullshit and also bad policy bullshit. To violate your ban on indecency, I have been forced to use and overuse so-called indecent language. But if I called you a bunch of goddamn motherfucking cocksucking cunteating blue-balled bastards with the morals of muggers and the intelligence of pond scum, that would be nothing compared to this indictment, to wit: you have sold the First Amendment, your birthright and that of your children. The Founders turn in their graves. You have spit on the grave of every warrior who fought under the Stars and Stripes. And what mess of pottage have you acquired in exchange for the rights of a free people? Have you cleansed the Internet of even the rawest pornography? No, because it is a worldwide system. You have, however, handed the government a powerful new tool to harass its critics: a prosecution for indecent commentary in any district in the country. Have you protected one child from reading dirty words? Probably not, if you understand what the economists call "substitution" — but you have leveled the standards of political debate to a point where a history buff would not dare to upload some of the Federalist v. Anti-Federalist election rhetoric to a Website. Since the lobby reporting requirements were not law when the censorship discussion was happening, I hope you got some substantial reward for what you gave up. Thirty pieces of silver doesn't go far these days.
— end of reprint
Religious freedom in a cultural complex is inversely proportional to the strength of the strongest religion.
— From Glory Road, by Robert A. HeinleinThroughout history, repression in the name of some belief system has been the greatest source of hatred the world has ever known.
— from Live and Let Live, by Sam Aurelius Milam III, Frontiersman, September 1995