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Welcome to the Police State

Big Brother is WatchingThanks go to John Seiler at Cal Watchdog for writing about this interesting twist on the Patriot Act gone awry.

It seems that two young Irish folks, on their way to a vacation in Hollywood, California, were barred from entering the United States after a joke tweet that they were going to “destroy America” and “dig up Marylin Monroe”.

Leigh Van Bryan, an Irish national, was handcuffed along with his companion, Emily, and kept under armed guard in a cell with those accused of, shall we say, more heinous crimes, the nature of which, you would want to keep them out. The exact tweet, according to the Daily Mail, was, “Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?”

They were allowed to make their way through passport control at LAX before they were detained by armed agents. According to the Daily Mail,

Despite telling officials the term ‘destroy’ was British slang for ‘party’, they were held on suspicion of planning to ‘commit crimes’ and had their passports confiscated.

While being questioned on this tweet, he was also asked about another tweet that essentially said they were going to “Hollywood Bloulevard and digging Marilyn Monroe up!” This tweet was a direct reference to The Family Guy, an American produced sitcom cartoon.

Altogether, Leigh and his friend, Emily, spent 5 hours in custody while Homeland Security Agents questioned them and, apparently, looked for the shovel they were going to use to desecrate Ms. Monroe’s grave with. They then spent another 12 hours in a holding cell waiting for a return flight to Europe.  Never mind the fact that our Homeland Security Agents should have better things to do than prevent grave robbing and harrassing young kids on vacation, the article really points to a more ominous issue, as Seiler pointed out.

We are supposed to be relatively free in our private lives to conduct our business and our personal affairs, free from general restraint of the government. This should also mean that we should not be subjected to general spying by our government or intrusion on our personal affairs. While it can be argued that Twitter and Facebook are somewhat public, it does not mean the Feds should be in everyone’s business checking each tweet or posting. Quite honestly, tactics like these, where Homeland Security is surveilling the Twitter universe looking for any threat however small, has some serious 4th Amendment issues involved.

But, this is how it has gone, ever since that fateful day in New York. It wasn’t long before the Government used the fear instilled in every American to institute a “Homeland Security” department through the Patriot Act. I still get chills up my spine when I hear these words because it reminds me of a certain regime during World War II and their justifying everything in the name of the “Fatherland”. And, over the years, even though the threat has been dealt with, the Government continues to spy on its people and do so with impunity justifying it in the name of, well, homeland security. Obama had the opportunity to eliminate or largely change the Patriot Act. Most people assumed he would. Instead, he showed just how paranoid the entire Federal Government has become  toward its own people when he renewed the Act. He has even gone further to strengthen the Act (Oh, and lets not forget the REAL ID Act) and eliminate 4th Amendment rights through recent executive orders that allow detention without justification. Yes, that’s right. You can now be detained and held in secret without due process if they suspect you are an enemy of the state. Forget habeus corpus, forget due process, forget any semblance of your rights.

I wonder what George Washington would think?

So, there you go. We berate Syria, Egypt and other countries because they stifle freedom by turning off Twitter and censoring Facebook in the name of their national security We cry foul when China decides to censor Google searches in the name of national security. At the same time, our own Government, one which is supposed to be the servant of the people, not its enslaver, is doing the same thing to us. And, it is because we stood by and did nothing as a couple of young kids from England, on holiday, were misunderstood by Big Brother and sent home branded enemies of the state.

Like John Seiler said, welcome to 1984 — in 2012.

Devore and Spitzer Battle it Out on Twitter

The dust has settled on the county redistricting plan and Tustin is firmly entrenched in the middle of Orange County Board of Supervisors District Three. Bill Campbell is termed out and a small war of words is heating up between two early candidates for the job. I am speaking, of course, about Todd Spitzer and Chuck Devore.

It is literally a small war of words because their battleground is the the social networking and micro-blogging service, Twitter. Twitter allows a person to send short messages of 140 characters or less to their followers. Short and concise are keywords on Twitter. Wikipedia describes it as the “SMS of the internet”. But, it is much more than that. It is micro-blogging at its best.

I was an early adopter of Twitter. In fact, I opened an account a year or so after it hit the internet and, like most early users, had no idea what to do with it. I had no followers, didn’t know what a hashtag was and forget trending. But, I had an account and, before long, I actually had tweeters following me. For the average, everyday user it’s a fun social tool. For a serious blogger it is a necessity. I get some of my best information from Twitter. Bloggers thrive in the tweeting world. And, the race between Devore and Spitzer is a prime example.

Chuck Devore joined Twitter in 2008 and, had been an avid user even before he announced his candidacy for the Third District.  Chuck tweets all things political with a conservative viewpoint. If you want to know how Devore feels about any political topic local, state or federal, I suggest you follow him at @ChuckDevore. Chuck is thoughtful and usually well reasoned. One thing you can do on Twitter is tweet directly to one or a number of users, even if they are not following you. It is one of the most powerful features of the service. Ask Chuck a question or give your opinion to him and you are likely to hear back from him, and often many of his followers, almost immediately (unless he is busy watching the GOP debates). Chuck comes into his own on Twitter.

But, it’s Devore’s active Twitter campaign against Spitzer that is noteworthy. Shortly before both of them formally declared their candidacy, Devore started in early and was attacking Spitzer for his record of supporting labor unions. He attacked Spitzer’s vote in favor of expanding public safety pensions during his previous stint as a Supervisor, even though he was joined by the other conservatives on the board who also voted to approve them.

Unfortunately, Devore overstepped the bounds of good sense when he jumped on Spitzer’s “union junket” to Las Vegas.

@ToddSpitzerOC parked $54,150 in embarrassing Labor $ into a slush fund used for Vegas trip. See: #ocgop

It turns out, the junket was the annual Baker to Vegas race, a famous endurance event that attracts teams of law enforcement officers from all over the world. Spitzer says his expenditures went to support the DA’s team which he claimed was a proper use of the funds.Devore still has mud on his face from that faux pas as the local prosecutors association backed Todd and everyone in blogworld (except CalWatchdog) blasted Devore.

Although Spitzer has a Twitter account, until recently, he has not been nearly as active on it, apparently preferring more traditional (and easier to understand) forms of communication such as his website and Facebook page. In fact, Todd tweets an average of once every two days compared with Chuck’s nearly five per day ( if anyone is interested, I average 1 per day but I didn’t really start tweeting until two years ago). Still, Todd has managed to slip in a zinger or two and he tweets more often these days. He outed Devore for financing his housing in Sacramento with the per diem lawmakers receive for personal expenses while in Sacramento.

So Chuck Devore admits he took the per diem to finance his second residence in Sacramento. Now that there is…

Newsflash, Todd, Devore isn’t the only assemblyman to ever do that.

Todd also has his own style. He rarely attacks Chuck directly but prefers to set the record straight when it is skewed by his opponent. He also likes to tout his own fundraising ability compared to his opponent, raking in $100,000 to Chuck’s $70,000 in the first part of the year. As both Chuck and Todd like to remind everyone in Twitter world, Todd also has a sizable bank account of campaign funds from his assembly days and later during his shunted effort to run for Orange County District Attorney.

Devore would like to paint Spitzer as just as much a union lackey as any democrat. The only thing is, it just doesn’t come out that way. Spitzer has signed on to GOP headmaster Scott Baugh’s “no union campaign money”. He also says that, while he did vote for enhanced pensions during his first tenure as Supervisor, he certainly would not do that today, knowing what he knows now. What Devore doesn’t seem to get is that the endorsements have less to do with money than with the man.  Spitzer gets all of the public safety union endorsements because he likes public safety, touts law and order in his Republican oriented ideology and public safety likes him. They really like him. Get this, even our own mayor, Jerry Amante, likes Todd.

So, This looks to be an interesting race between two well-known and well-liked Republicans. No Democrats in sight. But, why would a democrat waste their money on a foolish quest in this bastion of republicanism? Still, you never know. In any case, if you want to see bare knuckles digital fighting at its best, sign in to Twitter and follow @ChuckDevore and @ToddSpitzerOC. I promise you some interesting dialogue over the next year with plenty of commentary from us.

Oh, and you can follow us on Twitter at @keepdapeace.