Will the idea that conservative politicians actually stand for individual freedom ever get fully exposed for the lie it is?
The latest hypocrisy, right here in our own state, pertains to the retail sale of booze on Sundays. We live in one of only three states that still prohibits Sunday sales and, according to the Feb. 12 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, two-thirds of Georgians recently told pollsters they want to be able to vote on legalizing alcohol sales in their own communities.
A bill authorizing just that has been before the state Senate since last year, but Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle refuses to give it a hearing. The reason is obvious: Too many Republicans are up for re-election and they don't want to scare off the fire-and-brimstone peeps of the religious right.
In fairness, I should note that the bill is supported by most members of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Georgia – with one of two exceptions being Senate President Pro-Tem Eric Johnson, a Savannah Republican, who issued this memorable rationale: "There doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to chip away at the Sabbath."
Of course, most of our elected officials are more than willing to chip away at all manner of individual rights. While they decry the "nanny state" at every opportunity, you'd be hard pressed to find a more dogmatic nanny than the typical politician who feels the need to kiss the ass of Jesus. We saw it in the effort to close the Love Shack in Johns Creek and in the imprisonment of Genarlow Wilson for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.
We still see it with mind-boggling frequency at the national level, too, with the U.S. Senate's approval last week of a measure that authorizes warrantless spying on e-mail and telephone calls of Americans. The law, awaiting House approval at this writing, also grants retroactive immunity to telecoms that earlier conducted such spying at the Bush administration's behest (and for a huge amount of money), knowing it was completely in violation of a law passed in the aftermath of the Nixon presidency, when such spying was universally agreed to be unconstitutional.
The measure passed 68-29, with 19 Democrats joining every Republican in the Senate. (Hurrah for bipartisanship, otherwise known as "Democrats caving to Republican policies.") Efforts to remove the amnesty provision and impose some restrictions on the government's surveillance powers were similarly rejected before approval of the measure. So much, once again, for the Democrats' vaunted protection of our rights.
IF THE HOUSE adopts the Senate measure as written, it will expand the government's power to monitor Americans' international calls, whereas the earlier law granted power only to spy on terrorist calls that originate abroad but are routed through U.S. switching networks. Now all of your international communications can be monitored without a warrant or supervision of any type. If you trust the government to limit itself to international calls when there's no monitoring of the practice, let me tell you about J. Edgar Hoover's surveillance of everyone from peace activists to civil rights workers and other government officials during the Nixon era.
So the new law would permit the federal government to behave like a paranoid nanny who goes through your room looking for drugs and evidence of other suspicious activities. And you would have absolutely no recourse to stop it.
The same government has routinely denied it authorized waterboarding, then admitted it, then said it didn't matter because it's not torture, anyway – even though it's been recognized as such for centuries. It's the same government that has suspended habeas corpus, so that you can be abducted, flown to a prison in another country, interrogated and tortured without ever being charged with a crime.
You do not want to make your state-sponsored nanny angry, folks! She can waterboard you without notice or explanation. Isn't Nanny Bush's constantly vaunted "freedom" great?
NOTE: I want to thank the many readers who have written me about my columns on my father's death and his disinheritance of me. I am far behind on my e-mail and if you have not received a reply, I apologize.
It is true I felt foolish for trusting the positive feelings my father had expressed to me in the last two years but, honestly, I've always been the designated "patient" in my family. I see my father's action as another attempt to cast me in that role, which I gave up years ago. And giving it up required keeping my distance. But his action also confirms my own impression of his lifelong ambivalence toward me. Knowing the truth is never a bad thing.
Cliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology. For information on his private practice, go to www.cliffbostock.com.
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