Thursday, October 8, 2015

Recording the Police: When Your Constitutional Protections Mean Nothing

by Nomad

US constitution RightsYou may not know this but you really do have a constitutionally-protected right that is routinely ignored by law enforcement. And worse than that, there's not a lot you can do about it.

Civil liberties attorneys will tell you straight up that you have a right to photograph and videotape any public official doing their jobs when plainly visible in public spaces. And yes, that includes on-duty police officers. 

The Interference Limitation
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) adds that it is perfectly legal and that right includes recording the "outside of federal buildings, as well as transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties."

Delroy Burton, chairman of D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Union and a 21-year veteran on the force joins that chorus:
As a basic principle, we can’t tell you to stop recording. If you’re standing across the street videotaping, and I’m in a public place, carrying out my public functions, [then] I’m subject to recording, and there’s nothing legally the police officer can do to stop you from recording.”
There are some important limitations, of course.
In the course of recording, you do not have the right to put your life or the lives of others in danger. You cannot break the law in order to record, such as trespassing or disturbing a crime scene. You should not interfere with officers attempting to keep the peace in, for example, a riot or civil disturbance.  

The recording should be done in a transparent manner, and not in a surreptitious or covert way. If you record public servants without their knowledge, you could be accused of - get this- eavesdropping. Privacy laws protect the police too.

As Burton puts it succinctly "Record from a distance, stay out of the scene." As long as you are not directly involved, nothing more than a citizen witness, the police have no right to tell you to stop recording.
That's the theory, anyway.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Forgetful Senator Graham and a Flooded Two-Way Street

by Nomad

When it comes to helping people in need, Americans have always been fairly generous. Austerity-obsessed Republicans  however sometimes tend to forget what goes around, comes around.

The Great Flood of 2015
In the aftermath of extensive and deadly flooding in his state, Republican presidential hopeful Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is now making a pitch for much needed federal relief. The situation is pretty dire, from the news reports.

Some residents in the effected areas have lost everything. Even as the rains have subsided, the dangers are still mounting. Dams have been breached and other infrastructure have collapsed and rivers are still rising.
CNN reported yesterday:
Eleven people are known dead in the state due to weather-related incidents. Of those, seven drowned, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. Four others died in traffic accidents.
Local media is proclaiming the flooding a "catastrophe of incredible proportion."

The Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, declared the flooding on this massive scale was a "1000 year event." A risky thing for her to say. It's almost (but not quite) as if she is saying that the climate has changed. Or something.
She'd better watch that kind of loose talk. In the past she has received campaign funding from the climate-change denying Koch brothers.
According to one source, “The Kochs love Nikki Haley." But it is a fickle kind of love as changeable as the weather.
Greenpeace points out that the brothers have for decades been actively financing climate denial groups and lobbying against a federal and state level any climate change legislation. It's really not much of a secret.

As you might or not know, Senator Graham is- in his meek and hopeless fashion- running for president and with a showing of less than 1%, right down there with Jim Gilmore, George Pataki, and Rand Paul

If an effort to show off his leadership skills, he told Wolf Blitzer:
"Let's just get through this thing, and whatever it costs, it costs.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pearl S. Buck and the Privileges A Woman Must Give Up

by Nomad

A quote from a famous writer of the 1940s gives some stern advice for women voters of today. You can no longer afford the "privilege" of being complacent. 

Whenever I see women cheering in rallies for Republican conservatives, I wonder what kind of mindset would support the very elected officials who have showed so little respect for women's issues, such as women's health and reproductive choices. 

I ask myself how can so many women vote against their own interests. Where do these women come from?
One source gives a snapshot of the female conservative.
Married women are more likely to be conservative and, as the report shows, they're the one bright spot in a dark picture for the GOP. More importantly, while single women are more liberal, they don't vote as often as married women.
With so much at stake, why would any woman decide not to vote?

For such people, one writer gave a finger-wagging talking-to to women who don't concern themselves with politics.
In her 1941, book Of Men and Women,  Nobel Prize–winning author Pearl S. Buck wrote that certain attitudes had to change if women were ever going to make a positive impact politically:

What she has to give up will be her present privileges,
-the privilege of remaining ignorant in spite of education,
-the privilege of mental laziness,
-of not having to think thoroughly through any thing because she knows the ultimate decision will not rest on her,
-the privilege of being willful and capricious and irresponsible,
-the privilege of idleness and of having time to spend lavishly on self-adornment and amusement, and
-the privilege of escaping from the problems of life, by retreating from them into her home and considering that her whole duty is there.
She is, in short, to become an adult creature ready for the responsibilities of liberty."

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Oregon, Obama and The Greatness of an Angry Man

by Nomad

In the aftermath of the Oregon shooting, the visibly upset President Obama spoke to reporters and to the nation.
He was not shocked. It's hard to be shocked when, as the UKGuardian points out, there's been on average a mass shooting – involving four or more injured people – nearly every day. There have been an astounding 994 mass shootings in 1,004 days. The president was angry and he made no effort to disguise the fact.

Somehow, said the president, this has become routine. The events, the reactions, the tears and the prayers. Why must this keep happening before something gets done. Is this something we have all become numb to?

He said the burden of guilt falls ultimately on the American people for not demanding more from their representatives in Washington in their respective state legislatures.
"This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones."
"This is not, Obama said, "something I can do myself."
He asked the American public to consider the ways they can get their government to change the laws and to save lives. "To let young people grow up." He declared
"That will require a change of politics on this issue. If you think this is a problem then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views."

The Intrinsic Good: Why All Conservatives Should Be Rallying Around Same-Sex Marriage

by Nomad

You would probably never consider the Supreme Court decision against same-same marriage bans to be a great victory for the conservatives. And yet, that's exactly what it was. They just refuse to admit it.

The Friends of the Court
The term, AMICI CURIAE, in Latin means the "friends of the court." These are respected citizens who offer fact-based evidence  as well as reasoned advice to the Supreme Court judges. This assistance is unquestionably a great asset to the justices.when they are tasked with difficult rulings. 

Such consultants are also failsafe against making judicial blunders. In theory, the more input from varied sources is given, the more balanced and well-thought out that decision will be.  
The group is normally made up "social and political conservatives, moderates, and libertarians from diverse backgrounds."

One look at the list of participants would reveal the truth about Senator Ted Cruz's ridiculous charge that the “tragic” Supreme Court decisions were a case of "judicial activism." In the case of the same sex marriage ban ruling, the group came from all walks of life.   
Many have served as elected or appointed officeholders in various Presidential administrations, as governors, mayors, and other officeholders in States and cities across the Nation, as members of Congress, as ambassadors, as military officers, as officials in political campaigns and political parties, and as advocates and activists for various political and social causes.
To claim this group of around 280 men and women from such varied political and social backgrounds could have an activist agenda is preposterous in the extreme.

When the SCOTUS was reviewing the constitutionality of state-level same sex marriage bans, the Amici dutifully reviewed as much information as it could find on the legality of same sex bans. Around 55 court cases were referenced and 19 authoritative texts were also consulted before they reached their conclusions.

The counsels, in addition, reviewed the constitutional and statutory provision with care. Due to the importance of the case and the ramifications of the decision, the amicus brief not a hastily drawn-up brief.