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06/30/2004 Archived Entry: ""

Tom Toles' "A Connection"; Dick Locher's "Whack-a-Terrorist"; Dana Summers' "The Hand Over".

From our unofficial co-blogger Gordon P. "Here's a thought-provoking question:

Cheney used the "F-word" on the Senate floor; apparently he isn't being charged with a Senate Ethics Violation based on the persnickety technicality that "The Senate was not in session at the time" --- but since it was transmitted live over C-SPAN, does C-SPAN get hit with the FCC's Shiny New Draconian "Obscenity" Fine? Or does C-SPAN also escape being charged, on the technicality that it is on Basic Cable, not the airwaves, and that (so far) the FCC isn't applying the new "Obscenity" rules to cable? Or are they going to be _really_ obnoxious and invoke something like "Executive Privilege" or "Legislative Immunity" to claim that C-SPAN is part of the Federal Gov't, and therefore "exempt" from Federal Regulations, including the new FCC "Obscenity" regulations???"

My answer: there has always been a legal line drawn between broadcast television and cable because the latter presumes payment for access, which presumes consent to the content and control over it. I am sure that would be the reason offered for the lack of sanctions against C-SPAN. Your point is well taken, however. Cheney's "slip" was no less egregious (by the standards of the Puritan censors) than Janet's. Indeed, I believe Cheney's was a slip, and not publicity seeking, albeit he is unrepentant and Republican-at-large refuse to apologize. To me, the most interest point was that Cheney's obscenity was inspired not by an attack on his patriotism or the honor of his daughter but by criticism of Halliburton.

The incident has inspired some decent spoofs, however. For example, NewsNews: Satire for the Unwashed Masses ran an article entitled Cold War Erupts as Kerry, Cheney Brandish F-Bombs which observes, "Before Cheney's attack, the Republican's possession of the F-bomb was long rumored but unconfirmed." The Spoof reports, "The committee investigating rampant schizophrenia in the White House released their preliminary findings saying there appears to not be any evidence of a "collaborative relationship" between Vice President Richard B. Cheney. Helen Dewar and Dana Milbank reported it verbatim in the Washington Post: 'Fuck yourself,' said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency." And, then, there is the Craig Kilborn joke: "Over the weekend, my lady friend started talking dirty to me in bed. And I said, where did you learn to talk filthy? And she said, Vice President Cheney."

If you wonder why I try to lead with humor, then look no farther than an mass-distributed email addressed to "Free-Marketeers Around the World" that I received yesterday from Free-market.Net's Sunni Maravillosa. After reading it, you may better understand that I laugh to keep my spirits up and chase away the shadows. In a piece entitled "Speechless: Amazingly, it's happened to me," Sunni writes,

"I guess the fact that you're reading this doesn't mean that I'm completely speechless, but for this entire month I have been unable to muster my usual enthusiasm for my work, and for my nonpaying passion, which is writing about freedom. I've felt it building for some time, yet was unable to identify its source. June 21 provided
an unambiguous jolt that I'm still trying to overcome. No, I've nothing against the start of summer (although that happens on June 20 now). June 21, 2004 is the date the U.S. Supreme Court put the nail in the coffin of the Bill of Rights. For all practical purposes, we can declare them dead -- and, similarly to what happened to Tom Paine, the death seems to have been largely unnoticed.

"The First Amendment has been dead for years, as governments at all levels have stifled free speech of commercial, religious, sexual, and political sorts when it's suited them. While I've not learned of any laws passed respecting the establishment of any religion, the Ten Commandments court battles, pledge of allegiance lawsuits, and any number of other legal activities have shown that many in this country are very motivated to create or reinforce legal precedents that encourage certain types of religious expression, often at the expense of others.

"While the most good news, Constitution-wise, may stem from recent progress against Second Amendment foes, the fact that an individual's unalienable right to keep and bear arms has been soundly trampled by jurisdictions from the Supreme Court down and legislators at many levels shows that it's dead, too. Has been since 1934, in case anyone's keeping score.

"Many individuals discount the Third Amendment as archaic and irrelevant to today's American society. I beg to differ; and I view it as long dead, as well. Who needs physical soldiers quartered in one's home when the Patriot Act allows the ever-seeking eye of the state to peer into one's life increasingly easily, particularly by monitoring an individual's web and email activity? We don't bear the physical costs of soldiers among us; instead we bear the thousands of tiny cuts of taxes, fees, and limitations on our freedoms that becoming a Database Nation, as some like to call it, has brought us.

"Amendment Four, prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure, has also been gutted. At the national level (some pockets of resistance have been reported in some states, as readers of our Freedom News Daily newsletter know) there's apparently no such thing as an unreasonable search. I remember getting a very queasy feeling about this when the Supremes okayed random traffic stops -- way back in the 70s or 80s,
that was.

"The Hiibel case is the one that killed the Fifth Amendment, which had been struggling on life support for a while. I really can't say any more about this one, except to point you to a very compelling essay by Mr. Hiibel himself. He says it much better than I could.

"The right to a speedy and impartial trial has been nibbled away, as `voir dire' -- French for `jury stacking', as my friend Vin Suprynowicz says -- has made an impartial jury impossible. And in a case of great personal importance to me, the prosecuting attorney said, apparently with a straight face, that the speedy trial guarantee wasn't at issue because the defendant had been released on bond. If you'd like proof, read the news story yourself (the "speedy trial" sentence is near the end of the story).

"The Seventh Amendment -- guaranteeing a right to trial at common law for any case involving a sum over twenty dollars -- is another murky one. But no matter, it's dead anyway. Wasn't Laura Kriho denied a jury trial? And isn't it the case that once a lawsuit becomes certified as a class-action suit, all similar suits become part of it whether the plaintiff desires it or not?

"No excessive bail, fines, or cruel and unusual punishment? Is it cruel for the courts to order public humiliation, as is now becoming fashionable in some states? If not, how about ordering a couple not to have more children until they can prove they can care for the ones they already have? (What about the state meeting such criteria for the thousands of children they take away from families each year?)

"The Ninth Amendment is a real laugher these days. So few individuals understand what rights really are that we now live under regulations like the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whether it began with good intentions or not, the results are clear: it's become a politically-correct means of nannying individuals and organizations,
in the name of "rights". Almost makes me wish a right to be left alone had been one of the ten...

"And last, the Tenth Amendment, reserving rights not enumerated by the Constitution to the states or the people. How quaint! So, when will California, Colorado, and Oregon medical marijuana patients stop being harassed by the DEA? In fact, when will the war on all drugs (including those approved by the state but sometimes taken in larger quantities and/or shorter intervals than the state approves of by we the serfs) end? I dare not think how long this amendment has been spat upon -- it's easily a century.

"Lest anyone think I've gone all patriot or Constitutionalist, I can assure you I haven't. I don't think I've ever expected some words on a piece of paper, irrespective of how lofty they are, to protect me or "give" me anything -- especially not liberty. But others do. And that cuts to the core of why the Hiibel case has affected me so strongly. I haven't seen any mainstream (that is, nonlibertarian) coverage of the thorough destruction of the Bill of Rights. For that matter, the only sites I've seen that have protested the Hiibel decision are pro-freedom sites.

"The magnitude of the task before those of us who love freedom has been revealed, in the yawning indifference of Americans to this decision. I wonder how many of us are checking our "Claire Wolfe clocks", and saying something like, 'Wow -- how did it get to be half-past time to shoot the bastards without me noticing?' On June 21 the Supreme Court killed any pretense that may have remained of protecting the Constitution, and thereby U.S. citizens, from abuse at the hands of the state. And most of America scratched, belched, and turned on the TV. It's too early to say, but my optimism may have died that day too. I hope not, but for now, I continue to be speechless in response to the trends in the U.S."

To everyone on the edge of burn-out...hang in there! It is still the good fight and there are many reasons for optimism.

Best to all,

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