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Thoughts on Privacy, The Constitution, 'Heavy-Handed' Government, And the Presidential Candidates

Like many people, I've done some research and soul-searching about whom to vote for in the 2008 presidential campaign. My preferred candidate, John Edwards, dropped out of the presidential race before the primary in my state. During the Massachusetts primary, I voted for Edwards anyway with the hope of giving him some clout to influence the party platform at the Democratic convention this summer.

Last year, i read Naomi Wolf's book ("The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot"), which I believe should be required reading for all Americans; especially youth. Then, I read Wolf's recent article, "Why Barack Obama Got My Vote" which also resonated with me.

After doing some research, I can tell you that both NSPD-51 and HR 1955 scare the living daylights out of me. If you read about these two items, I think that they will scare you, too. These are not partisan issues, since politicians and citizens and both sides of the aisle find this legislation extremely troubling. I've written to my Congressional House representative, Stephen Lynch (D-MA), a couple times and so far he refuses to reply about why he voted for HR 1955.

I fully understand why the Bush administration would craft something like NSPD-51, and would this administration would love for the House and Senate to approve something like HR 1955. (The Senate version of HR 1955 -- S 1959 - is under discussion.) It's no surprise given the Vice President's interest in Executive Privilege. (If you want to learn more about HR 1955 -- or S 1959 --, Ronnie Bennett has written an excellent description in her Time Goes By blog.)

Regardless, I worry that our Congress is not functioning as a co-equal third branch of our federal government, while the Executive branch has co-opted the Judicial branch, which has lost its independence. To me, all of this combined spells bad times for a government that is supposed to be of-, by-, and for people -- not of-, by-, and for- the rich or corporations.

If you haven't read the United States Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, please take a moment to read them. They are wonderful documents.

What does all of this have to do with identity theft? Plenty. As government agencies collect more and more personal data bout citizens, that data must be stored someplace. And, government often contracts out many functions to private companies. Which means our personal data ends up in lots of places. We citizens have a right to expect our government to be responsible and to explains what it's doing (and not hide behind "we can't discuss that due to national security"). Many call this "transparency." For me, part of transparency is an explanation of where our personal data is collected, used, shared, and archived; plus adequate data security protections, and timely notice after a data breach.

A government that isn't open, honest, and transparent with the explanations it provides, basically treats its citizens like children... or slaves. I do not want to be treated like a child, or a slave.

To me, Barack Obama seems most trustworthy with balancing the needs of government, consumers, and corporations. Barack Obama seems to provide a healthy balance of trust and competence without going overboard with a hawkish, pro-war tendencies while returning our government to a government of-, by- and for the people. I feel that if we don't bring some order, sense, and accountability to our government now, we may lose the chance forever.

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