Usually when I write one of my blogs I figure out what the title is going to be before I actually sit down and write what I want to say. I look for something pithy, or cute, or cutting, or grandiose. My purpose is to get the attention of a reader and grab that attention long enough until my entire blog is read.
Something I read this morning in the NYT has triggered something deeper. Joe Arpaio has been the renegade sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona for a long time, and in my mind, has been most famous for keeping jail inmates wearing pink underwear and uniforms while enclosed in small tent cities subject to the rash elements. Today it Is reported in a letter summarizing a three year long investigation by the U. S. Justice Department that charged the sheriff with long standing invidious discrimination against Latinos. For example, as reported, “The letter said Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely than non-Latinos to be stopped on Maricopa County roads. It noted many examples of arbitrary and unlawful immigration crackdowns, of crime sweeps initiated not because of crime, but because the office had received reports of people with “dark skin” or speaking Spanish. (One such raid was conducted in Sun City, a retirement community, two weeks after Sheriff Arpaio received a letter complaining that employees at a McDonald’s there did not speak English.) After finishing reading about Sherriff Arpaio’s misdeeds, I fancied myself writing a blog entitled “What do you expect?” The gist of this potential blog was going to be along the lines of “nothing should surprise us when it comes to this guy.” But the Justice Department letter triggered something deeper. It also noted that the good Sheriff did many of these things with the blessing of the Department of Homeland Security (a name which still brings shivers to my spine for its neo-Orwellian implications).
Now I digress to note that within the past month Congress has passed a law enabling the president of these United States to arrest and imprison any American citizen without legal recourse for what could be alleged as terrorist activity or support. Throw in a little thinking like Gingrich’s manufactured Palestinians (i.e. borderline crazy thinking) and acquiescence to Sheriff A’s conduct (already well-documented) and one does not have to go to far to conclude that a writer of blogs in America might conceivably be imprisoned and stashed away for life by a president who simply disagrees with what the blogger writes and seizes the writer under the rubric of terrorist activity or assistance. The statute, as passed, gives the writer no relief whatsoever, no guarantee of judicial review, no utilization of the principles of our society that are based on the rule of law, nothing whatsoever.
Now, I must digress further. During my career as a trial lawyer, I would assess and present cases to juries in terms of conduct of drug corporations and doctors as violative of red lights. For example, Eli Lilly and Co. violated a red light in the marketing of the drug Oraflex in 1983. The company ignored the red light of 400 deaths of elderly people in the United Kingdom and the concerns of the physician hired by Lilly who warned that the dosage of the drug was too high and thus toxic to the elderly. Lilly simply went ahead and marketed the drug in the United States and killed an additional 3000 people without telling anybody, FDA, physicians, or users, about this red flag.
To allow a single individual of the United Sates, i.e. the president, to snatch someone off the streets of America without explanation and imprison that person without any legal recourse whatsoever, is stupid, unconstitutional and dangerous on its face. That is the red flag about which I write; The need to modify what I say or think or write lest I BE THE ONE WHO IS TAKEN AWAY. This is creepy, scary stuff.
P.S. to read what one U.S. Senator (Al Franken) thinks about this issue, go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-franken/why-i-voted-against-the-n_b_1154327.html