Since 2015, there has be a secretive new surveillance tool, commonly referred to as a "Stingray," being used by the FBI in cases around the country. The device, which acts as a fake cell phone tower, essentially allows the government to electronically search large areas for a particular cell phone's signal—sucking down data on potentially thousands of innocent people along the way. At the same time, law enforcement has attempted use them while avoiding many of the traditional limitations set forth in the Constitution, like individualized warrants. Our own Homeland Security has given grants to law enforcement to buy them. Of course, “officially” for fighting terrorism. Ignoring 4th Amendment protections for a moment, the use of the Stingray violates Federal Communications Act provisions also. Many states have upheld these warrantless searches. Recently the DC Court of Appeals, citing the 4th Amendment ruled that stingray use without a warrant is unconstitutional. A victory for freedom.

The First Amendment seems to get more attention these days than any other. You would think that with all of the attention, people would actually take the time to learn about it and figure out what protections it really offers. But alas, knowledge is a lost concept in America. We all laugh at the stupidity of those who defend sports stars from claiming some infringement on their rights. Dumb statements and misguided at best arguments. Many well intentioned folks though misunderstand the constitution and make claims that private companies like Facebook, Twitter and other social media are somehow depriving folks of their first amendment rights. Here is a great site that highlights success in fighting real infringements on first amendment rights. The thing I find interesting isn’t merely their successes. As you go into their various success stories, you get to see actual first amendment issues that you might never realize are protected conduct.

Americans are creatures of habit. We get used to doing the same things, used to stupid rules and laws, and were brought up with the notion that you “can’t fight City Hall”. Government bureaucrats live on this notion. They love the fact that people “accept” the BS that they do. Well, there is a group that is changing this paradigm. The Institute for Justice’s “Ask Why” initiative challenges governments idiocy and is winning. Obviously they would like to motivate people across the country to “ask why” locally. They get involved legally when they can. This is a great site that highlights government stupidity and actual success in overcoming the rules. It’s a great motivator and reminds us that “You CAN fight City Hall”.

The duty of Americans to hold their politicians accountable is paramount to our country’s well being. Attending and speaking out on issues of concern at City Council, County Commissioner and School Board meetings seems to be an American tradition. Well, one school board decided that they would go through the motions of appearing to encourage such public participation but then made restrictive rules on actually doing it. It created the rule that the Superintendent would have to “pre screen” your “request” to speak and then could delay your request forever. The good news is that the court ruled that they couldn’t have this delay process built into the request to speak process. The bad news is that they ruled that the only reason that the school district lost here is because they had a policy that allowed someone to speak. In other words, if the school district merely eliminated the public forum part of the meetings, you would have no right to speak. …

I have some friends that legally immigrated from Pakistan many years ago. For those who are old enough to remember the Cold War, Pakistan used to be one of our best friends in the region. We talk about politics from time to time and one time he asked me a question, “why does the US allow lawyers to be politicians?” He went on to tell me that Pakistan didn’t allow that. That society works best when people understand the law. Lawyers want people to be ignorant of the law so that they can make money. Words of wisdom.

The notion of safe spaces in colleges and universities always seemed bizarre. This author goes beyond the bizarre and suggests that the entire concept has damaging effects on our society. Well written.

We know that Seattle is a 487 utopia. Unlike a lot of 487 places, they came late to the party, so they don’t have all of the old baggage like Baltimore, Atlanta, Birmingham, etc. And they have money. Their latest trick is to force everyone to fund their craziness. The courts get to decide if that’s wrong.

The old maxim that “a license is no more than permission from the government to do something that is otherwise forbidden” is more true than ever. In the old days, the government required licenses in order to protect the “chosen”. Remember when the government granted the American Medical Association a monopoly on deciding who can provide healthcare, the first thing they did was to close medical schools so that there would be less doctors and the remaining doctors could make more money. These days, it’s transitioned to a money making venture for governments. And we all lose.

Every 10 years America performs the census. Although the modern census is used for all sorts of social BS, the original purpose was to determine how many congressmen each state got. How many is easy. Deciding the districts is harder. Elections do have consequences and the majority party gets to draw the lines. This Is a great analysis of the current Supreme Court’s role in Helping.(2 comments)