Mailvox: Defending brave Sir Bill

RC writes:

I believe the Factor is doing much more good than harm by being on the air. Sure, you may be able to find some isolated cases when Bill should have zigged instead of zagged. However, we are living in a dangerous world at the moment. And please do not quote the founders regarding choosing between security and freedom. Everyone knows why the 2nd amendment exists. I do not believe it will ever be lost to us.

Precisely how is The Factor doing more good? How will boycotting France prove the answer to the continued loss of American liberties? O’Reilly is at best totally irrelevant, at worst, he is yet another cheerleader for the expansion of strong central government, the advocation of which a true conservative, PJ O’Rourke, once described as “treason to the human race”.

And if Mr. O’Reilly knows why the Second Amendment exists, then why did he suggest that one must be a nut to believe that private citizens should be able to own bazookas and machine guns? Is he aware that the Founders not only owned, but used, private artillery historically equivalent to modern large-bore howitzers and rockets? Is it ever better for the government to hold a monopoly on the use of lethal force? To again quote the immortal O’Rourke, this country was founded by religious nuts with guns. As the First Amendment has clearly been lost with McCain-Feingold, I think RC’s stated belief as to the positive prospects of the Second are naive. And of course he would rather I did not quote Ben Franklin, who might otherwise remind him that those who trade freedom for security will have neither.

I believe Bill’s point regarding harm caused by the Patriot Act has more to do with large numbers. In other words, is the Patriot Act a reasonable piece of legislation for our current national security situation? My view is that, on balance, it is reasonable–but you may find singular or isolated cases where the Act falls short at the expense of the citizen. Given the present climate, what else can reasonably be done?

Defenders of the Patriot Act invariably ask to know how it has been abused already. That is to miss the point. As the legal gymnastics of the Supreme Court and the Executive branch have proved with work-arounds such as Echelon – where the British listen to US phone calls and send the transcripts to the NSA so that the US government can honestly claim that it is not eavesdropping – and outright fictions such as the emanations and penumbras in which the right to abortion was discovered, the correct question is: can this Act be used by future US governments to abuse its citizens. And there, the answer is clearly affirmative.

What else can be done? There are many possibilities. The government can stop interfering with private airline security measures. It can stop granting visas to dead terrorists and their live cousins. The US government is part of the problem, not the solution, and giving it more power via stinking excretions like the Patriot Act will only create more problems in the future.