Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Angry Birds and Dreamers

The Oath of Office for members of Congress, taken by all newly elected members in an open session of each House:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
The Oath of Office for the President of the United States, taken by the President-elect, before he or she can officially take office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
At tonight's State of the Union Address, there will be a number of guests in attendance--as there always are--invited by various politicians for various reasons, from simple friendship to political patronage to making a statement of one sort or another. And with regard to the last, the guest list will include at least two undocumented immigrants, people who are here illegally, who are in violation of the law, criminals as a matter of definition.

Our elected leaders in Washington, D.C, all of them, have sworn to defend the Constitution, that fundamental document establishing our government and defining how our laws are made. It's really no great leap to allow that our elected leaders, in defending the Constitution, should not be openly defying federal law, nor should they be assisting in or otherwise sanctioning such defiance. That's really not too much to ask, is it?

At the same time, new information has surfaced indicating that the NSA has been using smartphone apps--like the ever-popular Angry Birds--to track people and to compile personal information about them, information like sex, age, buddy lists, address book entries, and, of course, phone call logs. And our elected officials aren't really doing anything about the NSA's transgressions. Oh sure, some are spouting off on cable news about these things, calling the NSA's actions "outrageous" and the like. But it's just bluster, just talk. Similarly, the President promised change, but basically left things exactly as they are now, left it up to the NSA to police themselves, to decide what they can and can't do.

And make no mistake here, on the issue of NSA overreach: this is not a Democrat/Republican thing at all. The previous Administration was no better then the current one. Indeed, it set many of these things in motion. Still, it's a Democrat in charge right now. And its Democrats who are showing total disdain for the law by inviting criminals to accompany them to the State of the Union Address.

On the one hand, they--led by the President--are willing to ignore the law in the supposed name of justice and humanity. On the other, they--again, led by the President--pretend that the law really matters, that they are actually concerned about government agencies being properly limited in their power, even as they actually do nothing in this regard, allow the continued abuse of power to the detriment of actual U.S. citizens. Who do they work for, again?

But I don't mean to sound unduly harsh, with regard to undocumented immigrants. In fact, I recognize that many--probably most--would be happy to just be citizens themselves, are trying to just live their lives, support themselves and their families, and are not engaged in criminal activity, per se. Apart from the fact that they are in this country illegally, of course. And let's be clear on this, too: their status as illegals is a consequence of an overt criminal act on their part (or their parents' or relatives' in the case of minors). So while I do sympathize with their plight, I'm not going to pretend they are not what they are, unlike our elected leaders, who apparently think they can personally choose which laws they get to follow, which laws they are supposed to defend and uphold.

Of course, we're often told--by those in charge--that there are just far too many undocumented immigrants now, that the government doesn't have the resources to identify all of them, much less take any kind of specific action against them. Yet, there are apparently enough resources to track the people who play Angry Birds, to compile information on them. At last count, that number was in excess of 40 million.

So again, our elected leaders ignore their duties, ignore the oath they took when they assumed office, in order to allow a massive illegal surveillance program of U.S. citizens and to score some political points by glad-handing people in open violation of the law. And tonight, they'll all get together and hear how the last is important, how it matters, while the first is really no big deal. Sure.

The State of the Union is, itself, a Constitutionally mandated event. It's a solemn occasion, or at least it used to be. Now it's apparently just a big show. With far too many clowns.

Cheers, all.

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