Monthly Archives: December 2013

Regarding that 4th Amendment… Some History and Perspective On Where We Are

[For once I give full credit to Wikipedia, and hopefully there is nothing in it that is not factual…]

All block quotes below are from Wikipedia, and all emphasis within block quotes are MINE, and were not in the original.

Please see the previous post for a rev up on this issue of NSA spying on our phone and email activities.

English law

Like many other areas of American law, the Fourth Amendment finds its roots in English legal doctrine. Sir Edward Coke, in Semayne’s case (1604), famously stated: “The house of every one is to him as his castle and fortress, as well for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose.[2] Semayne’s Case acknowledged that the King did not have unbridled authority to intrude on his subjects’ dwellings but recognized that government agents were permitted to conduct searches and seizures under certain conditions when their purpose was lawful and a warrant had been obtained.[3]

The 1760s saw a growth in the intensity of litigation against state officers, who, using general warrants, conducted raids in search of materials relating to John Wilkes‘s publications attacking both government policies and the King himself. The most famous of these cases involved John Entick, whose home was forcibly entered by the King’s Messenger Nathan Carrington, along with others, pursuant to a warrant issued by George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax authorizing them “to make strict and diligent search for . . . the author, or one concerned in the writing of several weekly very seditious papers intitled, ‘The Monitor or British Freeholder, No 257, 357, 358, 360, 373, 376, 378, and 380,’″ and seized printed charts, pamphlets and other materials. Entick filed suit in Entick v Carrington, argued before the Court of King’s Bench in 1765. Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden ruled that both the search and the seizure was unlawful, as the warrant authorized the seizure of all of Entick’s papers—not just the criminal ones—and as the warrant lacked probable cause to even justify the search. By holding that “[O]ur law holds the property of every man so sacred, that no man can set his foot upon his neighbour’s close without his leave“,[4] Entick established the English precedent that the executive is limited in intruding on private property by common law.[3]

Stay with me on this… it gets really good… Continue reading


A U.S. judge FINALLY rules NSA phone surveillance program is most likely unlawful

Thought you all might like this…

U.S. judge rules phone surveillance program is likely unlawful

December 16, 2013

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government’s gathering of Americans’ phone records is likely unlawful, a judge ruled on Monday and ordered the suspension of the collection of data on two phone company customers who sued the Obama administration.

In a significant challenge to U.S. spying authority, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington D.C. wrote that the government’s program likely violated Americans’ right to be free of unreasonable searches.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen,” Leon wrote, citing earlier court precedent….
….Leon expressed skepticism of the program’s value, writing that the government could not cite a single instance in which the bulk data actually stopped an imminent attack.

“I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism,” he wrote.

That is important, he added, because for the program to be lawful, the government must show its effectiveness outweighs privacy interests.

Have a read.

The displayed banner on the Bloomberg news program’s video reads:


No duh.

The 4th Amendment reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and PARTICULARLY describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

[emphasis added]

If this global search doesn’t violate this, then what else could possibly rise to that level of violation?

…”papers, and effects” I take to include emails and phone calls, but it is – as everything – subject to the courts to interpret that.  And I am certain that this has been done long ago.  Legal precedence is out there.

…”searches” certainly would apply in the NSA case.

…”PARTICULARLY” means that they MUST be specific.  Fishing expeditions are thus specifically BANNED.  (read the next post…) Continue reading

A New Climate Pattern?

Sometimes I do the weirdest things, just for fun.  Some might think they are boring, but sometimes my mind gets stuck on them and I have to see where they go.

Something caught my eye…

I was looking at the satellite graph for the UAH global lower troposphere temps over at, shown here:

The TOTAL global satellite temperature history of the lower atmosphere from 1979 through 2012. (2013 isn’t done yet.)

I noticed the huge 30-month-long dip after the 1998 all-time high. I thought, “Could that be a rebound effect?”

There was something of that kind that was then reflected in the graph of the Central England Temperatures (CET), the longest continuous thermometer record in the world:

The CET record since 1990.

See the 2010 big dip? Followed by the big rise?  Another rebound effect there, too, but in the opposite direction? Continue reading

The GOP and Their Trailer Trash Problem

The following is a comment I posted at Washington Monthly, re Kathleen Geier’s “The End of Pork Rind Conservatism,” with a few modifications for here.  That article begins…

Last week, Michelle Goldberg wrote a smart and provocative blog post that didn’t get anywhere near the attention it deserved. In it, she argues that conservatives may be giving up the ghost, and abandoning the pseudo-populist brand of conservatism that, for decades, has been their mainstay, in favor of a more open elitism.

Goldberg takes as her main piece of evidence a new book by antifeminist activist Charlotte Hays called When Did White Trash Become the New Normal? A Southern Lady Asks the Impertinent Question. In the book, Hays mocks working class people for allegedly being fat, lazy, and poorly dressed. Oh, and she also apparently thinks poor folks who have diabetes are hee-larious. Classy!

Cool that Kathleen Geier brought up the Liberty League and the REAL old-style Republican politics.  I just read a history book about that era, Anxious Decades, America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1940, , and everything you say is correct: The elites wanted desperately to undo every piece of the New Deal.  But they couldn’t do it then via elections, not after the debacle of the Great Depression and Herbert Hoover’s 3-1/2 years of failure to make a dent in it via business-friendly actions.  They did undo a lot of the New Deal, but not through legislation.  They did it via the courts, with their unlimited pockets to pay for lawyers, plus an initially slightly business-leaning Supreme Court.  Trailer trash had nothing to do with it, and in fact, the trailer trash was on FDR’s side – because FDR was on their side.

Cool that Kathleen Geier brought up the Liberty League and the REAL old-style Republican politics.  I just read a history book about that era, Anxious Decades, America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1940, and everything Geier says is correct: The elites wanted desperately to undo every piece of the New Deal.  But they couldn’t do it then via elections, not after the debacle of the Great Depression and Herbert Hoover’s 3-1/2 years of failure to make a dent in it cia business-friendly actions.  

(Then, as now, the business mindset was that “What was good for business was good for America,” so they kept being shocked that business-friendly actions kept failing.  However, FDR and the Democrats got to learn a lot about what DOESN’T work, so by the time that FDR took office, they could avoid making the same mistakes.)

The problem at the ballot box for them was that there weren’t enough rich people to win elections.  If you really look at all their submitted bills NOW, they are all pro-business – just like back in the ’20s and ’30s, the Ponzi ’20s, the Great Depression, and the New Deal years.  I was amazed how much their approach to governing (as opposed to winning elections) was EXACTLY the same back then – endless arguments about balanced budgets, trickle-down (yes, THAT trickle down!), laisse-faire free markets, no regulations because business would correct itself, all that rot. Everything aimed to help the businessman and let Joe Main Street flounder. After all, there are plenty more Joe’s where the last one came from – especially for low-pay jobs which the business sector always favored; a dollar in the hands of the rich was good, while a dollar in the hands of Joe Main Street, “Why THAT must have been stolen from the rich! What is THAT guy doing with it?  What can we do to correct THAT!!!???

It has been the aim of the GOP to do exactly that – to make sure none of the wealth escaped the wealthy.

…After the FDR-Truman years, and even through the Eisenhower years, they couldn’t do much destroying of any remaining New Deal programs, because they didn’t control the Congress (in ’53-’55 they had the House but not the Senate) – but then Ike wasn’t a real Republican, either, and by then Keynesian was the economics of the day.  It was not until Bush II in 2005 that the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress plus the White House at the same time – and the VERY FIRST thing on Dubya’s agenda was . . . wait now for the punch line… Social Security.  He was there to do his master’s bidding, and he wasted no time, with his so-called “political capital.”  But even mentioning it cost him and the Republicans so much popular support that he lost any chance actually do it.

As I think about it, that could well have been the moment that the trailer trash realized that the Republicans were not really on their side, and the moment when the seeds of the Tea Party were sown. Continue reading