There was a man in our town,
And he was wondrous wise;
He jumped into a brier bush,
And scratched out both his eyes;
And when he saw his eyes were out,
With all his might and main
He jumped into another bush,
And scratched ‘em in again.
ObamaCare and regulations implementing it — as well as Governmental snooping in general — are thorny “brier bushes” with enough brambles to “scratch out” all of our eyes. Those brier bushes have become like the plants in Little Shop of Horrors, which became vicious as they grew little nibble by little nibble and progressed to bigger and bigger bites.
President Obama’s transparent transparency
We can’t have “100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience.” But by giving up as much of our privacy as the Government wants, perhaps we can have all the security we want. Even if it were voluntary that would not be a good trade; and it is not voluntary.
Still, President Obama’s Administration is the most transparent ever. Just ask him.
President Barack Obama assured the American people yesterday that the NSA warrantless surveillance programs are entirely “transparent.” He then promised to extradite and prosecute the man who told the public about it. None of that causes any pause for the White House or its supporters. It makes perfect sense. Indeed, it helps explain how Obama promised the “most transparent” Administration in history and proceeded to expand a secret security state. It turns out that “transparent” simply means something different with Obama, just as the noun “war” is left to his definition. It turns out that transparent means that the government can see it — and see us. Total transparency in our new fishbowl society. [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
Democratic members have joined Obama in carefully parsing language to avoid the obvious rollback on privacy. They have focused on the question of whether the government is “reading” the content of emails and calls as opposed to gathering a wide array of information on who you are calling, how long, and from where. They ignore the obvious danger in such databanks in giving the government the ability to follow citizens in realtime. It is part of the effort, discussed earlier in columns, to redefine privacy in a new surveillance friendly image. Despite the fact that civil libertarians have scoffed at the distinction, Obama continues to pretend that the only danger is actually reading such calls and emails. [Emphasis added.]
For President Obama et al, “transparency” means whatever he wants it to mean; just as for President Clinton “is” and “sex” had whatever meanings seemed expedient. Does President Obama “welcome debate” on security matters? Not according to that horrid vast right-wing conspiracy site MSNBC.
President Obama often says he “welcomes debate” over his national security policies. But, more often, his administration works through classification and the courts to keep secret the very information relevant for such a debate.
“It’s not a very inspiring record, to say the least,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy. “With targeted killing, as in the case of domestic surveillance, declassification actually lagged well behind disclosure. The most basic facts–the U.S. killed [Anwar] al-Awlaki, the NSA gathers phone records of Americans unsuspected of any illegal activity, etc.–had to be leaked or publicly disclosed before the administration was willing to declassify them. This approach obviously tends to stifle and discourage debate, not promote it.”
Is he beginning to lose even MSNBC? Oh dear.
According to this Daily Caller article,
Domestic spying capabilities used by the National Security Agency to collect massive amounts of data on American citizens could soon be available to the Department of Homeland Security — a bureaucracy with the power to arrest citizens that is not subject to limitations imposed on the NSA.
Unlike the DHS, the NSA is an intelligence agency, not a domestic law enforcement agency. It cannot arrest those suspected of wrongdoing. That power of the federal government lies with agencies under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department, the Treasury, Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies.
That’s comforting. Aren’t all DHS folks upstanding, trustworthy citizens devoted above all else to respecting the Constitution? Surely, they are carefully supervised to ensure that they don’t stray from the straight and narrow — just like IRS employees who targeted conservative subversives and others the Administration considered pests. What might possibly go wrong?
Trust in Government under the “most transparent Administration ever?” Not so much these days. According to a Rasmussen poll released today, seventy percent believe the IRS decision to target conservatives was made in D.C. According to a CNN poll released today,
Last month only 37% of the public thought that the IRS controversy led to the White House, with 55% saying that agency officials acted on their own without direct orders from Washington. Now the number who say the White House directed that IRS program has increased 10 points, to 47%, virtually the same as the 49% who believe the IRS agents acted on their own. [Emphasis added.]
And, according to the Rasmussen poll linked above people are interested:
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 82% of voters nationwide are now following the IRS targeting story, including 44% who are following the story “Very Closely.” The overall number of voters who are following is up from 74% a month ago. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Might that mean that they trust the Government less? Or merely that Kim Kardashian, Kayne West et al have just become less interesting?
According to Thomas Sowell, trust in Government is very important. However,
When Barack Obama squanders his own credibility with his glib lies, he is not just injuring himself during his time in office. He is inflicting a lasting wound on the country as a whole.
But we the voters are not blameless. Having chosen an untested man to be president, on the basis of rhetoric, style and symbolism, we have ourselves to blame if we now have only a choice between two potentially tragic fates — the loss of American lives to terrorism or a further dismantling of our freedoms that has already led many people to ask: “Is this still America?”
I thought President Obama said the old war on terror was over. Be that as it may, this article at You Viewed/Editorial makes a lot of sense:
The next time you hear Obama prattle on about the need for secrecy to maintain “national security” keep in mind the fact that the term is actually meaningless to him and his staff. To them EVERYTHING is viewed through the PRISM of politics and how the given situation/event can best be spun to make them look good. There is never any selfless consideration of what’s good for the country, only what’s good for Obama and his Statist agenda.
If you doubt that this could be the case just pause for a moment and consider Fast & Furious, Benghazi, Sequestration, IRS, James Rosen, AP Phone Records, PRISM, War On Whistleblowers, et al. Observed with an eye towards Obama’s political survival the administration’s seemingly bizarre actions make sense.
ObamaCare’s thorny new regulations
They don’t have anything to do with national security, except this: according to this article at Dancing Czars,
Ushered in quietly by the most corrupt and tyrannical administration in United States History; We the People can no longer expect any right to privacy which was not written by our Founding Fathers into the Constitution or Bill of Rights but has been upheld numerous times by the Supreme Court. [Emphasis added; but see my comments in the section on Roe v. Wade.]
According to Washington Examiner article linked at Dancing Czars,
A new 253-page Obamacare rule issued late Friday requires state, federal and local agencies as well as health insurers to swap the protected personal health information of anybody seeking to join the new health care program that will be enforced by the Internal Revenue Service.
It does not seem to matter whether those “seeking” to join the new health care program do so voluntarily or because they are required to do so over their strenuous objections: like giving up privacy for more security — do it whether you love it or hate it.
Protected health information, or PHI, is highly protected under federal law, but the latest ruling from the Department of Health and Human Services allows agencies to trade the information to verify that Obamacare applicants are getting the minimum amount of health insurance coverage they need from the health “exchanges.” [Emphasis added.]
The ruling, explained on pages 72-73 of the book-thick guidance, does not mention any requirement that applicants first OK the release of their PHI. HHS already allows some exchange of PHI without an individual’s pre-approval, especially when for a “government program providing public benefits.” Officials said the swapping of information is simply meant to help figure the best insurance coverage of Obamacare users.
The new ruling surprised some congressional critics. “This sounds as if HHS will have access to protected health info to me,” said one top Hill aide worried about how well the administration will protect that information.
Conservative groups including Americans for Tax Reform have raised questions about the release of PHI in the aftermath of the IRS scandal.
PHI includes an individual’s medical history, test and laboratory results, insurance information and other data.
Abortion and the bramble bush
Might some of the “brier bushes” that grew out Supreme Court abortion decisions help us to scratch our eyes back in again? Perhaps help us to see and deal with the thorns that are scratching out our eyes? Those decisions were based on rights of privacy — rights not expressly mentioned in the Constitution. There is plenty of room for speculation here, and I shall try to take advantage of it. My thoughts are still in early stages of gestation (much like a ten week old fetus).
Roe. v. Wade, decided many years ago in 1971 and followed ever since with few exceptions, was predicated on a right of privacy — one nowhere expressly articulated in the Bill of Rights or elsewhere in the Constitution. As Mr. Justice Blackmun wrote,
The principal thrust of appellant’s attack on the Texas statutes is that they improperly invade a right, said to be possessed by the pregnant woman, to choose to terminate her pregnancy. Appellant would discover this right in the concept of personal “liberty” embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment‘s Due Process Clause; or in personal, marital, familial, and sexual privacy said to be protected by the Bill of Rights or its penumbras, see Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965); Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438(1972); id. at 460 (WHITE, J., concurring in result); or among those rights reserved to the people by the Ninth Amendment,Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. at 486 (Goldberg, J., concurring). [Emphasis added.]
an exhausting a lengthy history of abortion laws, the Court continued:
The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however, going back perhaps as far as Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251 (1891), the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution. In varying contexts, the Court or individual Justices have, indeed, found at least the roots of that right in the First Amendment, Stanley v. Georgia, 394 U.S. 557, 564 (1969); in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 8-9 (1968), Katz v. United States,389 U.S. 347, 350 (1967), Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616 (1886), see Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 478 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting); in the penumbras of the Bill of Rights, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. at 484-485; in the Ninth Amendment, id. at 486 (Goldberg, J., concurring); or in the concept of liberty guaranteed by the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, see Meyer v. Nebraska ,262 U.S. 390, 399 (1923). These decisions make it clear that only personal rights that can be deemed “fundamental” or “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,” Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319, 325 (1937), are included in this guarantee of personal privacy. They also make it clear that the right has some extension to activities relating to marriage, Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 12 (1967); procreation, Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541-542 (1942); contraception, Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. at 453-454; id. at 460, 463-465 [p153] (WHITE, J., concurring in result); family relationships, Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 166 (1944); and childrearing and education, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 535 (1925), Meyer v. Nebraska, supra. [Emphasis added.]
This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment‘s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment‘s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation. [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified, and must be considered against important state interests in regulation. [Emphasis added.]
Although the Court referred to a woman’s right to make an abortion decision, it necessarily went well beyond a mere decision. Not only could a mere decision have been kept private by not informing anyone of it, it could also have been implemented by traveling to a State where abortion was not prohibited and having an abortion there. The convenient implementation of that decision was what the Court sought to protect, and it held that implementation of a decision to have an abortion in a State where then prohibited, often at a public hospital, was within the embrace of the “right of personal privacy.” That interest was found sufficient to overcome any interest that a State might have in fetal well being and survival during the first trimester: a State could then require only that abortions be performed in medically appropriate facilities — much as it could require that appendectomies be performed in medically appropriate facilities.
State interests in limiting abortion were held to increase incrementally following the onset of “viability” — after the end of the first trimester — to the point that late term abortions could be prohibited except when necessary for the health of the pregnant woman.
Here is a lengthy analysis of the right to privacy. It begins,
The Burger Court extended the right of privacy to include a woman’s right to have an abortion in Roe v Wade (1972), but thereafter resisted several invitations to expand the right. Kelley v Johnson (1976), in which the Court upheld a grooming regulation for police officers, illustrates the trend toward limiting the scope of the “zone of privacy.” (The Court left open, however, the question of whether government could apply a grooming law to members of the general public, who it assumed would have some sort of liberty interest in matters of personal appearance.) Some state courts, however, were not so reluctant about pushing the zone of privacy to new frontiers. The Alaska Supreme Court went as far in the direction of protecting privacy rights as any state. In Ravin v State (1975), drawing on cases such as Stanley and Griswold but also basing its decision on the more generous protection of the Alaska Constitution’s privacy protections, the Alaska Supreme Court found constitutional protection for the right of a citizen to possess and use small quantities of marijuana in his own home.
. . . .
The future of privacy protection remains an open question. Justices Scalia and Thomas, for example, are not inclined to protect privacy beyond those cases raising claims based on specific Bill of Rights guarantees. The public, however, wants a Constitution that fills privacy gaps and prevents an overreaching Congress from telling the American people who they must marry, how many children they can have, or when they must go to bed. The best bet is that the Court will continue to recognize protection for a general right of privacy. [Emphasis added.]
The linked article does not deal with enhanced surveillance methods now used by our Government (the one that President Obama wants us to trust), blessed with ever increasing technological abilities. Face recognition technology? Gee whiz! No problem; there are only more than two hundred million photos of Americans in State and other governmental hands that could be used for that. What could go wrong?
I submit that privacy rights attempted to be extinguished by governmental snooping in general, as well as under
ObamaCare Affordable Care regulations, are no less significant than those which the Supreme Court imposed in Roe v. Wade. They are more significant, since they transcend mere lack of convenience for some residents of some but not all States.
Moreover, the privacy of personal medical records has long been reasonably thought to exist, and had long been relied upon by patients and physicians, when the information used in compiling those records was obtained. It also seems likely that, at least until recent revelations about the nature and extent of governmental were snooping made, there was similarly reasonable reliance on privacy when writing e-mails, talking on the telephone and doing searches on the Internet.
President Obama is not Dick Cheney
Despite all of this sort of thing, President Obama has assured us that he is not Dick Cheney. As Bryan Preston tells us at PJ Tatler, he is right.
Well, the manchild has a point. Dick Cheney’s IRS didn’t abuse Americans who just wanted to participate in politics. Dick Cheney’s NSA actually spied on terrorists and didn’t give mosques a free pass. Dick Cheney didn’t call an obvious terrorist attack on American soil “workplace violence.” Dick Cheney didn’t declare that the future will not belong to those who “slander” the “prophet” of Islam.
Dick Cheney didn’t leave four Americans to die in Benghazi and then blame their murders on a movie.
With current technology permitting
our masters the Government to know just about everything about us that it considers worth knowing, the old right of privacy articulated in Roe v. Wade may be just as dead as a two month old fetus aborted as authorized by Roe v. Wade. Advocates of the “rights of women” probably would not like that. If not, perhaps they should become more vocal about privacy rights in general, the erosion of which could erode the abortion rights based upon them.
If the Federal Government can already trample on our privacy sufficiently to know all that we know about ourselves (and probably even more) as well as to learn “facts” that may or may not be factual, what difference does it make now? The Government is said to own us.
I don’t know. Maybe, as in Lil’ Abner, we should just put things back “the way they was.” (Note: this was just a junior high school performance, but did an excellent job of it.)