Archive for the ‘first amendment’ Category

The Biggest Fascist Paramilitary You Never Heard Of

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Ever heard of Infragard? Well, I hadn’t, until I opened the March 2008 issue of The Progressive. We should have, though, should have heard a lot about it.

Infragard consists of 23,000 private industry officials, organized into 86 chapters overseen by the FBI, who act as intelligence sources for the Bureau and the Homeland Security Department, in exchange for getting “near-daily updates” on terrorist threats before the rest of us and, as The Progressive learned, sometimes before elected officials. According to its website,, “350 of our nation’s Fortune 500 have a representative in Infragard,” and an Infragard executive reports that “Infragard members have contributed to about 100 FBI cases.”

Here’s what may be the best part: according to Matthew Rothschild, author of the Progressive article, “One executive, who showed me his Infragard card, told me they have permission to ‘shoot to kill’ in the event of martial law.”

The second-best part: because these people are in the private sector rather than government, the administration uses the trade secret exemption to bar the release of information about the Infragard program under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Now, there’s nothing wrong, and a lot that’s right, with either individual citizens or businesses giving information on crimes and terrorism to the police and other elements of the government. But that process should be transparent (allowing, of course, for anonymity for witness protection).

But this is different. With Infragard we have big corporations deputized as something like an old west posse, but those corporations have access to lots of information about the rest of us ordinary schmoes that is not supposed to be in the public domain. There’s a good chance that includes the people who hold our mortgage, car, and credit card loans if we have them, manage our health insurance, and sell us books, videos, plane tickets, recreational activities, and just about everything else.

And the sheriff has a recent history of going on illegal fishing expeditions through the private affairs of regular citizens not because they’re suspected of anything in particular, but just because you never know what us untrustworthy citizens might be up to – especially if we belong to groups that express disagreement with BushCo’s behavior, like the Quakers, or the ACLU, or a lot of the writers at this and other progressive blogs.

Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” That quote is usually attributed to Benito Mussolini; he never really said that, but it does seem to sum up the essence of fascism as practiced in a number of countries, and it seems to be a pretty close description of Infragard.

And don’t think we’ll automatically be able to breathe a big sigh of relief if a Democratic administration takes office 327 days from now – the executive branch, and its functionaries, seem to like to accrue power and hate to give it up, regardless of party. After all, they know that they can trust themselves to use it only for reasons that meet with their own approval. This administration has indeed been cruder and more aggressive about it than most, but both parties have overseen way too many witch hunts. It’s the corruption of power, not of any particular party or left-wing or right-wing orientation. In fact, Infragard was started under the Clinton administration, although it has expanded quite a bit under Bush.

So next time there’s a big terrorist attack in the U.S., or another major natural disaster like Katrina, don’t be too surprised if you see Wal-Mart and Bank of America managers, along with Blackwater’s boys, rolling down your street packing iron. After all, if that’s what it takes to keep Osama from taking away our civil liberties…

The Seven Dirty Words Live On

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Old LadyComedian George Carlin used to do a gag called, “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on TV“. He used the words prolifically to make the point that they were simply words - not bombs nor bullets nor anything else that might cause lasting harm. In fact, I’d say that 99% of the adult US population has used at least one of those words at some point and the remaining 1% are liars.

So here we are, several decades down the road. We’ve weathered wars, natural disasters, terror attacks, and dozens of other momentous events, but we’re still apoplectic when poppa says a bad, bad thing. In fact, a bad word slipped just this morning. It was the word that begins with a “c” and ends in “unt”. It happens to be the title of one of the monologues in the Vagina (not “va-jay-jay“) Monologues and that is exactly how Jane Fonda used it when she let it slip on the Today Show.

And That Goes Double for F*ck
Fonda isn’t stupid. She knew what the reaction would be. It appears that she simply didn’t parse the word carefully before saying it and the NBC censors didn’t hit the 10-second delay button in time. NBC cut the offensive language in the west coast edition of Today and apologized to viewers for the slip up. There was a similar stink, and attendant apology, last month when Diane Keaton inadvisably said f*ck on the air. One would think those apologies would be sufficient, but of course, that would be much too simple.

Conservatives are p*ssed and jumped on the story like flies on sh*t - NewsBusters and right wing diva, Michelle Malkin to name two. Newsbusters put it this way, “Besides her left wing activism, famous North Vietnamese propagandist Jane Fonda spouts foul language on morning network television, when some children almost certainly saw it.”

Um, yeah. I wonder what word the commenter uses to describe Fonda in private?

Oh, Go F*ck Yourself
True, children could have seen it, but they also could have seen or read it on the NewsBusters and Michelle Malkin websites, both of which carried the monstrous offense to humanity verbatim. The kiddies could have also seen more traumatic fare, like death footage from Iraq, but I didn’t hear the moth*rf*ckers pis*ing and moaning about that.

I’ve toned the words down in this post out of respect to those who find them offensive, not because they offend me personally. But I have been known to say, co*cksu*ker when I’m aggressively cut off in traffic or the word t*ts in the throes of passion. I’m not perfect and neither are those who choose to make an issue of it, not even Dick Cheney. After all, he delivered a pithy message to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of Congress a few years back.

The Big Dick told Leahy to, “go f*ck yourself” (NSFW).

‘Nuff said.


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What does Jonah Goldberg mean by “Liberal Fascism”?

Friday, February 8th, 2008


‘I promise …’

In the full knowledge of the commitment that I am freely willing to undertake as a student, I promise to respect each and every member of the college community without regard to race, creed, political ideology, lifestyle orientation, gender or social status sparing no effort to preserve the dignity of those I will come in contact with as a member of the college community. I promise to Bergen Community College that I will follow this code of responsibility.

1. Honesty, integrity and respect for all will guide my personal conduct.

2. I will embrace and celebrate differing perspectives intellectually.

3. I will build an inclusive community enriched by diversity.

4. I am willing to respect and assist those individuals who are less fortunate.

5. I promise my commitment to civic engagement and to serve the needs of the community to the best of my ability.

At least as originally proposed,

“The pledge would not be optional,” Susan Baechtel, a college spokeswoman, said Wednesday. “If you don’t agree, it is President Ryan’s vision that you cannot attend the school.”

She said students who violated the code would be subject to judiciary hearings now reserved for offenses such as assault.

Eugene Volokh, professor of and expert in constitutional law, explains the problems, from a constitutional standpoint, with this here.

Bill Helff, president of the college’s faculty union, explains the problem with it from a slightly different standpoint:

“I’ve been there 38 years and I’ve never sworn to embrace anybody,” said Helff. “Next I’ll have to be nice to administrators?”

Thing is, see, this is America. We dig our freedom…the freedom to not be nice if we don’t fucking feel like it and to think others are bone-headed assholes for trying to take away our freedom in the name of enforced niceness, and to say so without being sent away to the re-education camp or expelled from the community altogether.

Judge orders BushCo to confirm existance of emails.

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Three cheers for Judge John Facciola! He has ordered BushCo to provide proof that the missing emails exist.

He has given them five business days to come up with proof “whether the millions of e-mails from 2003 to 2005 that have been deleted from White House servers in fact exist on back-up tapes.”

BushCo has been dancing around this issue for years now. They have consistently refused to answer the question by tossing out that good ol “Executive Priviledge” bullshit. The fabulous folks at CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) have been bull-dogging the living shit out of BushCo about the missing emails with various court cases they have brought, regarding the Firing of the USA’s and originally the PlameGate debacle. From the Jurist writeup:

Facciola’s Tuesday ruling in The National Security Archive v. Executive Office of the President, consolidated with a lawsuit from CREW, requires the White House to reveal whether the back-up tapes are catalogued, labeled or otherwise identified to indicate the period of time they cover and the data they contain.

The order came in advance of a ruling on motions from CREW and the National Security Archive to expedite discovery to determine what relevant email still exists. The US Department of Justice has been unresponsive about what back-up tapes the White House possesses, although it has said that the White House has maintained all back-up tapes since CREW filed suit. The issue of missing e-mails has been an ongoing controversy in the Bush administration, arising first during the CIA leak investigation, and again last year during controversy over the firings of eight US Attorneys. AP has more.

The court order can be read here.

Crossposted at Its My Right To Be Left of the Center

Electing a President has begun

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Thankfully, the rising sun in the east will gradually warm our nation to hope over desperation with the eventual replacement of King George in the White House. No offense to all our British friends intended. Here in America, since 9/11, we have been living under a dictator that even an election that replaced political leadership in both houses of Congress did not deter the President. Signing statements continue and future generations will see his laws stricken down as un-constitutional.

History will prove out that George Bush was the worst President of all time simply because he thought he was omnipotent and without question. He is the third rail of Republican politics and you do not see too many advertisements with him hugging the candidates from his own political party do you? He is the equivalent to the persona non grate in the (stolen) election of Al Gore for President where Bill Clinton could not step on the welcome mat because he was never invited. While Bill Clinton sold out the respect of the office he served, George W. Bush sold out his nation to the highest bidder. No matter what good they each have or had done as President, the perception is the rule.

We as a nation need hope and for that matter many of the current candidates for President do not deserve even remotely the chance at serving in an office that represents you and I to the world. If you want to send your sons and daughters off to war for the next eight plus years then by all means vote for a candidate that thinks King George is right! Make sure you have a huge cemetery plot picked out because any war in the Middle East will take a couple thousand years to settle. History is funny that way. Fight them there or fight them here works till there is nobody left here to send there. It’s a fanatical religious war that has been going on since the times of Jesus Christ and it is not going to end any time soon. Supporting our military to protect our shores and not some desert goat grazing argument between feuding tribes is questionable with some of these candidates for President. Top three MSM dictated winners from both parties are clueless but rhetoric buys votes.

Who has a plan that makes sense to get our nation back to what matters at home? You have to ask yourself if your opinion can be bought and if so for what price? Can your vote be bought in one breath and your rights sold in the next sales pitch as an American citizen? You can read in the papers every single day the amount of self esteem that the big three of each party are willing to sell. Character is replaced by what you want to hear but the truth is not. The truth never goes away no matter how you try to bob and weave around it. It’s like serving fried fish for dinner on Friday. Somehow it still lingers in the house on Monday. How can you vote for a person that is supposed to support all of the American people when they blow off one states voters to fight for another states on yet another day?

It’s amazing how the comparison of many of the top three leaders advertisements is so much like buying sliced deli meats at the supermarket. You can buy the mass produced product that was sliced months ago with a use buy date or you can vote for quality deli meat that you saw sliced and delivered to your hand one on one. It isn’t pre packaged and you have to buy what they tell you that you need, you can pick what you want. The top three in both parties are those pretty packages of meat and the rest are sliced to your liking as an American. I recommend custom cut slices and only the amount I need.

This post is being written during the Iowa Caucus, I have no clue who will come out the winner or loser in the race for President but I can hope that the folks of Iowa saw through the sales pitch of the top three from each party and tossed them all to the curb. That may not be what happens but it is the process that has begun to replace the Dictator in Chief. That I am truly thankful for.


Cross posted at Papamoka Straight Talk and Micael Linn Jones

Bush tries to push through Justice Dept appointment..Senate says not so fast frat boy.

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

From AP via TruthOut:

A nine-second session gaveled in and out by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., prevented Bush from appointing as an assistant attorney general a nominee roundly rejected by majority Democrats. Without the pro forma session, the Senate would be technically adjourned, allowing the president to install officials without Senate confirmation.

The business of blocking Bush’s recess appointments was serious. It represents an institutional standoff between Congress and the president that could repeat itself during Congress’ vacations for the remainder of Bush’s presidency.

Way to go Webb! Warms the cockles of my little black heart don’t you know? The individual in question is Steven Bradbury, acting chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Counsel. Bush nominated Bradbury for the job and asked the Senate to remove the “acting” in his title. Seems Bradbury signed two secret memo’s in 2005 that allowed the CIA to use “harsh interrogation techniques” on those damn terrorists.

Another interesting part of this cat and mouse game is that a bill sent to a president automatically becomes law 10 days after he receives it, excluding Sundays of course, unless he vetoes it:

That could be the fate of two bills Congress passed last week. One growing out of the Virginia Tech massacre makes it harder for people with mental illness records to buy guns. The other makes it easier for journalists and others to obtain government documents through the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA bill, for example, would become law on New Year’s Eve if not vetoed before then, according to Senate Judiciary Committee officials.

The gun bill is H.R. 2640. The Freedom of Information Act bill is S. 2488.

BushCo buddies buying more media outlets

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Damn that librul media! They aren’t staying on top of buying up all the available tv stations. Rupert has sold off some of his television holdings to another rightwing equity firm, OakHill Partners. From the RawStory writeup:

Oak Hill Partners lead investor Robert M. Bass, a longtime associate of President Bush, is also the founder of the Ft. Worth, Texas-based Bass Brothers Enterprises. Oak Hill issued a statement announcing the stations would be jointly managed by a broadcast holding company, Local TV, that was created by Oak Hill for the purpose of purchasing 9 other television stations from The New York Times previously this year.


News Corp. had originally intended to sell off nine of its US television stations; however Bass’s subsidiary, Local TV, could not purchase WHBQ-TV in Memphis, Tennessee as it had previously purchased CBS affiliate WREG-TV: “Federal Communications Commission rules allow market duopolies but only one of the two stations under a single owner can be among the market’s four top-rated stations there and there must be least eight unique station owners in the market once the duopoly is formed.”

I don’t want to hear about that liberal bias in the media. Not with these guys selling to each other to keep it in the ‘family’ as it were. With newspaper circulation dropping each quarter, television stations are vastly more important than print media as a form of news dissemination.

Father Knows Best

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

AT&T Wiretapping Your WorldFinally, a Democrat grew a pair. Instead of Harry Reid, the cajoneless wonder, Chris Dodd stepped up and threatened a filibuster over retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies spying on behalf of the government. The Knight of Shining Hair didn’t put the vote off forever, but he did delay action until after the first of the year, leaving enough time to win a few more rational senators over. But more importantly, he highlighted just how meek and timid the current crop of Reidsters really are. Harry doesn’t just look like the kid who got has ass kicked every day in gym glass, he put the “kick me” sign on himself and dared bully George to kick him. And as bullies are wont to do, George routinely kicks his empty crotch with relish at every opportunity.

Many will claim Chris’s backbone grew as he grasped at straws to keep his woe-begotten Presidential campaign going. My response is “big frickin’ deal”. The man took the right stand and it doesn’t matter to me if it was for all the wrong reasons or not. We are no longer standing on a slippery slope when it comes to eroding our once-sacrosanct civil liberties. We’re sliding hell-bent for leather down the world’s longest mud slide directly toward a brick wall a million times worse than anything America’s Evilest Home Videos has to offer. Someone has to put the brakes on, and strangely, mild-mannered Chris turned out to be the man.


Maxwell Dumb Keeps His Secrets

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Maxwell DumbThe Manhattan Project had nothing on Dubya and the Ball-Gagged Gang when it comes to secrecy. No shred of information is too small to escape declaration as a closely guarded, national security secret. I’m surprised they aren’t referring to the Big Dick as “Waylon Flowers” and Dub as “Madame” or bought some new-fangled stealth technology to make 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue look like an empty lot. All we need is a modern day Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and the tableau would be complete.

Although the administration was given a court order last year to provide records about Jack “The Black Hat” Abramoff’s visits “without redactions or claims of exemption”, the DoJ has decided once again that our laws are for the peons and not the lords. According to them, producing what the court legally requested “would reveal sensitive information about the methods used by the Secret Service to carry out its protective function.”

Now considering the Malibu-sized smoke coming from this affair, you’d think the Bushies would want to clear their names. This latest roadblock has the cloying smell of burning records about it and even the conservative Judicial Watch doesn’t buy it. Their president Tom Fitton says, “This is an extraordinary development and it raises the specter that there were additional contacts with President Bush or other high White House officials that have yet to be disclosed. “We’ve alleged that the government has committed misconduct in this litigation, and frankly this is more fuel for that fire.”

The DoJ defense? A 1976 appellate ruling about the raising of a commie sub that allowed the CIA to refuse to confirm or deny its ties to a Howard Hughes-owned ship, the Glomar Explorer. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m not seeing the connection between raising nookular subs and simple lists of visits by a crooked lobbyist. But then, I’m no Alberto Gonzales, or Michael Muckasy, for that matter.

There’s some secrebilitatin‘ going on with Plamegate too. Henry Waxman is all up in the White House’s shiznit about releasing the information collected by Patty Fitzgerald during his Plame probe. Fitz is all for it. The public is all for it. The White House, not so much. So much, not so much, that the number of “missing” emails at the White House has been upped from 5 million to…wait for it…10 million. Damn! Where’d those pesky things get to?

With the administration’s track record in these matters I don’t even see why they file legal briefs or put up even token excuses like these. They might just as well crank up their nookular-powered shredder and get rid of all the evidence while telling the American people, “Screw you! We don’t need no stinkin’ laws.”

The Shredder-in-Chief once said that his job would be a lot easier if this were a dictatorship … as long as he was the dictator. It looks like he’s truly gotten his wish.


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Watch Out, You Might Be a Homegrown Terrorist!

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

With little to no publicity or debate, the House of Representatives passed a truly scary law on October 23 - H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, sponsored by Representative Jane Harman (D-CA).  Please excuse this if everyone else already knows about it, but I hadn’t heard of this until my wife Jan passed on some scary info she heard on the radio and I did some online research.  This Orwellian expansion of the Homeland Security Act passed on a vote of 404 to 6 – Dennis Kucinich voted against it, sustaining my faith in him, and Ron Paul abstained from voting.

Looking at the actual text of this act ( ), it sounds benign at first.  The first problem one notices is that it includes some very vague definitions that just beg for abuse based on goofy interpretations.  That may sound paranoid, but we are dealing with an administration and a Homeland Security department that decided a couple of years ago the Quaker congregation of Lake Worth, Florida, were dangerous subversives that need to be spied upon because they committed the dangerous and despicable act of exercising their Constitutional First Amendment rights by protesting military recruitment at high schools.  Yeah, you can just see a bunch of old Quaker ladies having a suicide vest sewing bee, right?

Specifically, this act says that “`homegrown terrorism’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

It goes on to define “the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs” as “ideologically based violence.”

Considering that we’ve already seen the precedent, as in the case of the Florida Quakers, of treating legal dissent as sedition, this looks like a setup to give the feds another way to crack down on any public opposition to whatever the smirking chimp and his shrinking cabal decide to do next (like starting a war with Iran, for instance).  This may also have what the legal types call a chilling effect on people who would otherwise engage in that kind of public opposition.

Where I live, we’ve already seen this kind of thing.  In March of 2003, Albuquerque had its own police riot in response to a peaceful protest march against the Iraq war.  Cops on foot and on horseback blocked the path of marchers and herded them on a route chosen by the police; when the march got back to its starting point near the University of New Mexico, the ACLU’s report found that “As the crowd returned to the original gathering spot and crossed University and Central, officers struck people with batons and used horses to force stragglers to move more quickly. As protestors crossed Harvard Avenue, police launched tear gas canisters into the crowd. The officers eventually maced protestors and shot them with beanbag and pepper rounds, dispersing the crowd. In one incident, a police officer fired 15 pepper-gun rounds at a protestor who lay in a submissive posture in the street. Other protestors reported being hit with tear gas canisters that were fired into the crowd. Several arrests were made.”

There have been enough similar incidents in other places – law enforcement treating people’s physical presence and participation in a protest as what the new law calls “ideologically based violence” – to make it very reasonable to be worried about this.  It’s for damned sure that the next time there was an antiwar protest, people were deciding whether to participate based partly on the risk of having Albuquerque’s finest beat the crap out of them.

Mike German, the ACLU’s policy counsel, called the bill “wrongheaded” – he finds it spooky because it focuses on ideology and not on criminal activity. It calls for heightened scrutiny – read domestic spying - on people who believe, or might come to believe, in a violent ideology.  The ACLU’s view is that the government should focus on people who actually commit crimes, rather than those who merely think about violent ideas, which is legal.  So how does the government decide who “believes, or might come to believe, in a violent ideology”?  Well, what are the best ways to find out who is likely to engage in opposition to whatever the government is doing?   Law enforcement agencies already tend to monitor protest activities and groups who engage in them, and groups (like us) who see patriotism as something other than blind loyalty to the administration in power and tend to say so loudly and repeatedly.  I’d be shocked if they weren’t also looking at lists of subscribers to The Nation, Mother Jones, and similar fora; and for that matter, there’s considerable similar sentiment voiced in a lot of places traditionally considered right wing, like the editorial and letters sections in gun magazines.  There, too, there’s been some lively debate about the current war, and a lot of suspicion about the government’s patterns of bulldozing people’s Constitutional rights.

The law goes on to state some “findings” – a couple of dangerous ones:

The promotion of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence (eek, Quakers with picket signs!) exists in the United States and poses a threat to homeland security.

The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.  Internet censorship a la China, anyone?

It does go on to state that “Any measure taken to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism in the United States should not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, or civil liberties of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents.”  Oops, sorry I said anything – we don’t really have a thing to worry about, because our government would never cheat or violate our rights.  It also says that no one should be targeted for scrutiny based on race, religion, and so on, but makes one of the qualifications for membership on the Commission it creates (see next paragraph) expertise on Islam and other world religions (none but Islam specifically identified, but you know those damn Quakers… gotta watch the Buddhists too.)

The law goes on to order the creation of the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism, basically a combination of (1) a study group to figure out just what’s eating those darn domestic terrorists anyway and what we ought to do about it, and (2) a contracting office to funnel more money to private entities that the administration likes to have them carry out some of the Commission’s functions.  Chip Berlet is a senior policy analyst for Political Research Associates, an independent non-profit research organization that studies political violence, authoritarianism, and homegrown terrorism; he called this part “a slush fund for politically connected people inside the Beltway.”  I’d bet a nickel that Blackwater is getting ready to expand its repertoire of services the same way they did when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq suddenly created a demand for mercenaries security contractors.  After all, they did jump all over New Orleans after Katrina and pulled down a ton of federal funds for that.

It goes on to order the permanent establishment of a “university-based Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States.”  This will be a think tank to use psychosocial research methods to figure out strategies to control domestic opposition and “contribute to the establishment of training, written materials, information, analytical assistance and professional resources to aid in combating violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism.”

Finally, the law orders the study of methods used in other countries to control “domestic terrorism” with the aim of recommending adoption of new tactics in the U.S.  Doesn’t that just give you a warm fuzzy feeling?

It really does seem that party affiliation is irrelevant, and despite the fact that the 2006 election put Democratic majorities into both chambers of the Congress with the clearest mandate seen in decades, a mandate to get this maniacal executive branch under control and restore the balance of power among the branches of government, the majority of those Democrats will give the Bushies whatever they demand.  It really does seem that both parties are in favor of more intrusive and controlling government.  Maybe the Dems are already thinking about how they can use the expanded power the Bushies have grabbed for the executive branch if the Democratic candidate wins the White House next year.

Speaking for myself, I believe the only appropriate response is to get louder and encourage people not to be intimidated.  The best way to keep our Constitutional rights strong is to exercise the hell out of them and get as many other people as we can to do the same.