Third Party & Independents Archives

The Downward Spiral

To abuse the 1984 metaphor, we’re hearing an incredible amount of doublespeak coming from Capitol Hill in the aftermath of the passage of the Patriot Act II by Congress. In the span of about three months, we’ve seen Congress go from blocking the renewal of the Patriot Act to having it pass 89-10.

In addition to Bush’s usual claims about how vital the Patriot Act is to the “War on Terrorism”, he had this to say:

"This bill will allow our law enforcement officials to continue to use the same tools against terrorists that are already used against drug dealers and other criminals, while safeguarding the civil liberties of the American people."

Some of the powers of the Patriot Act may be tools similar to what are used against drug dealers and criminals, however, those powers are now free to be applied to American citizens based on a whim. The problem here is not entirely the power that is given by the Patriot Act, rather it is the lack of protection provided against the abuse of those powers. Let’s take a look at one of the ‘safeguards’ that President Bush is talking about.

Under the original Patriot Act, individuals who have been subpoena-ed by the government were not permitted to disclose the fact that they had been subpoena-ed. Well, now they’re still not allowed to discuss the subpoena for a year, but after that year has expired, they can request the right to talk about it from a judge. Forget about being guaranteed the right to publicly discuss whether or not you were wrongly accused, or whether or not any of your constitutional rights were trampled, you have to get approval from a judge to speak about your experience. Tell me how this is an adequate provision to “safeguard the civil liberties of the American People”?

I’m not the only one concerned, but somehow Sen. Arlen Specter can simultaneously vote for renewal, claiming it is “an acceptable balance”, and then state

"I want to put down a benchmark to get extra protections which better comport with my own sensitivity to civil rights."

Apparently, Sen. Specter and the Senate Judiciary Committee is already drafting legislation to revise the bill he just voted for. So, the Patriot Act, as it stands, does not give Sen. Specter all the protections he would want, but he voted for it anyway. Not only that, but he defends his position as well.

Defn: Doublespeak

I will once again laud Sen. Russell Feingold for standing so firmly on this issue, even going so far as to spend most of the day Wednesday defiantly reading the Constitution aloud. If only all our senators would stand their ground with similar voracity, we wouldn’t end up with all these fragmented leaders with one foot on each side of the fence.

Although the bill is not expected to have much delay in passing the House, and I don’t need to remind anyone of Bush’s veto usage, take some time to make your voice heard. Contact your Representatives. But, it seems that the Patriot Act is doomed to pass with flying colors as we continually pass into a new era of behemoth government.

Posted by Andrew Parker at March 3, 2006 1:51 PM
Comments
Comment #131169

Andrew:

I am no backer of the Patriot Act—in many ways, the way I understand it, it is an abomination that punches holes in the Constitution.

But I wonder. Even if Congress had had the good sense to clean it up, and close some of the more ludicrous loopholes, what would have prevented our President from pulling out another ‘signing statement’ and say, ‘I don’t agree with this—so I’m going to do what I think best for the country anyway’?

This executive free-for-all regarding laws and the Neo-con ‘interpretation of convenience’ of the Constitution is really becoming nerve-racking. And the rubber-stamp Congress scares me even more. Is American liberty locked up in Gitmo too?

My only solace this past week is that one of my senators voted against this Act—will wonders never cease?

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 3, 2006 5:48 PM
Comment #131171

Andrew:

I recognize your concern about civil liberties, and I want to ask an honest question: How many of these concerns have become real instances?

For instance, I know the Patriot Act allowed the government to check on what books people were taking out of libraries, but as I’ve heard it, there have been no actual instances of the government using the Patriot Act to conduct such checks.

I can see that the Patriot Act allows for certain actions on the part of the government, but I really wonder how many of these actually take place. Is it a situation where people are more concerned about what MIGHT happen than what is actually happening?

Some people see a slippery slope, but we’ve been on the slope for many years. We’ve had instances when we’ve taken steps further down the slope, only to move back up the slope as times permitted. The most notable steps down the slope that I can recall occurred during WWII, and after WWII we moved right back up the slope.

I truly don’t see many actual instances where the Patriot Act has been used to hurt people. I know there’s question about the people in Gitmo (though their situation has nothing to do with the Patriot Act) and I know Padilla’s situation is in limbo (don’t like that much), but what are the real life instances that you fear? Perhaps you can help me understand…thanks.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 3, 2006 5:59 PM
Comment #131191
Andrew:

I recognize your concern about civil liberties, and I want to ask an honest question: How many of these concerns have become real instances?

For instance, I know the Patriot Act allowed the government to check on what books people were taking out of libraries, but as I’ve heard it, there have been no actual instances of the government using the Patriot Act to conduct such checks.

I can see that the Patriot Act allows for certain actions on the part of the government, but I really wonder how many of these actually take place. Is it a situation where people are more concerned about what MIGHT happen than what is actually happening?

Some people see a slippery slope, but we’ve been on the slope for many years. We’ve had instances when we’ve taken steps further down the slope, only to move back up the slope as times permitted. The most notable steps down the slope that I can recall occurred during WWII, and after WWII we moved right back up the slope.

I truly don’t see many actual instances where the Patriot Act has been used to hurt people. I know there’s question about the people in Gitmo (though their situation has nothing to do with the Patriot Act) and I know Padilla’s situation is in limbo (don’t like that much), but what are the real life instances that you fear? Perhaps you can help me understand…thanks.

Would you hand your neighbor’s ten year old the keys to your house and liquor cabinet when you went on vacation simply because you can tell yourself “Don’t worry I’ll know if he does anything?” This isn’t about trust, it is about responsibility- OUR responsibility as citizens to define boundaries for our government. If you don’t think that someone will be quick to abuse this system, then you really need to undertake a study in human nature.

Posted by: Amani at March 3, 2006 8:48 PM
Comment #131202

joebagodonuts:

You’re joking right? Do you know how impossible it is to get any kind of documentation from your President? “Executive Previlege” means you don’t tell anyone what your doing. They even changed the Law so that NOBODY gets to read them 20 YEARS from now.

Joe… Do YOU trust the man YOU voted for?

Posted by: Aldous at March 3, 2006 10:45 PM
Comment #131207

Don’t worry. If we get subpoena-ed by the government and we are told not to speak of it … All we have to do is call the NYT’s.

Posted by: bugcrazy at March 3, 2006 10:52 PM
Comment #131214

The downward spiral is completely predictable. Look at history. Government is simply doing what all governments do (over time).

They grow corrupt.

Only the voters can change it, or suffer the consequences, again, of their inaction.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 3, 2006 11:33 PM
Comment #131226

joe,

“For instance, I know the Patriot Act allowed the government to check on what books people were taking out of libraries, but as I’ve heard it, there have been no actual instances of the government using the Patriot Act to conduct such checks.”

the problem is, you wouldn’t know if they had. how do i know? because they *HAVE* in fact *ALREADY* been forced to relinquish such information; the reason you don’t know this is because, as delineated in the PatAct, these libraries are *NOT ALLOWED TO DISCLOSE* this fact to the public.


Posted by: diogenes at March 4, 2006 12:35 AM
Comment #131229

Amani:

Sounds like you made my point for me, in a way. I’m asking Andrew whether his concerns are for POTENTIAL abuses or whether his concerns are for ACTUAL abuses. From your post, I’d guess you are concerned about the potential for abuse.

I’ve seen our country have great potential for abuse, but not do it. I cited how in WWII, numerous civil liberties were curtailed, but after the war, those same liberties were returned. Under the theory that once given away, liberties will never be returned, that shouldnt have happened. Yet it did.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 4, 2006 12:54 AM
Comment #131254

joebagodonuts,

It is the ‘job’ of the dems to be paranoid while they are out of power.

Politics in our Nation, decisions, opinions, are all based on polls and what the party in and out of power thinks they can use to get the vote. Plain and simple.

Our Nation is a ‘political joke’.

Posted by: bug at March 4, 2006 2:30 AM
Comment #131256

joebagodonuts:

Then to use your argument, once the War on Terror is over, once the war in Iraq is over, these curtailed freedoms will return.

Who determines when this happy day arrives?

Who determines when GWOT is sufficiently won to ‘allow’ the Constitution to be fully realized once again?

When will we know that our freedoms are once again intact?

Two points: This ‘war’ (which has not been declared by Congress, by the way), has already lasted longer than this country’s participation in WWII, your example. Are you willing to have your freedoms curtailed two years from now, five years from now—perhaps under a Clinton presidency? I’m not.

Point two: Four months ago, noone knew that this administration had been spying on Americans without warrants for three and a half years, defying the law and keeping the rest of government either totally in the dark, or swearing the very few they told to upmost secrecy. No oversight? No transparency? That equals abuse of power and law-breaking—and now the lap-dog Republican Congress says, don’t worry, we’ll change the law to suit you, Mr. President, sir.

A one-party government run by a party that despises government and thinks government is the enemy is asking for trouble. No oversight, no checks-and-balances, and you have the makings of fascism. We the citizens of this country must draw the line in the sand for these plutocrats, as Amani said earlier. One of the ways to do that is to insure a two-party Congress, where open debate, law-making, and investigation are possible once again. That means, voting out the Republicans, just enough of them to make this dysfunctional government limp along another two years, without (hopefully) getting us all killed.

If that doesn’t happen, we’re in bigger trouble than I thought.

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 4, 2006 2:56 AM
Comment #131258

“Who determines when this happy day arrives?”


That is my question.

We know that once something is made a law it never goes ‘back’.

Our country has become a nation of laws based on polls.
What can we do about it?

Posted by: bug at March 4, 2006 3:09 AM
Comment #131270

Tim:

Terrorism forces us to make changes.The brutality and efficiency of today’s weapons makes it essential that we change. I’m certain that you agree with these statements on their face, since almost everyone is unanimous in their desire to prevent terrorist acts. That’s why people are calling for border enhancement, better port security, why people are willing to wait longer to board airplanes etc.

Those things might be among what you consider acceptable changes. Over the years, we’ve developed laws, such as FISA to deal with electronic wiretapping, and we continue to modify our intelligence gathering to accommodate the new landscape of the world, all in order to prevent terrorist attacks, among other things, from happening.

We all draw the line at different points. I have no problem with the datamining wiretapping that’s been done by the NSA. Where you see it as a step onto the slope—perhaps a large one—I see it as a pragmatic step to prevent terrorist attacks. In that regard, if its successful, then I am for it. That’s my opinion and my line—not necessarily yours.

You make a good point about the nature of the GWOT, as opposed to a more finite war such as WWII. Yet I don’t see the current curtailment of liberties as offensive. When the government made laws making me wear a seatbelt while driving, I went along with it. While it restrained me a bit (pun intended), I saw the rationale in it, and had no problem. I see the datamining exercise in the same manner.

Its not that I am blind to the possibility of abuse—its more that I hear shrill cries of concern over the POTENTIAL for abuse as if its already happened wholesale, when I don’t see that it has. Thats why I asked Andrew for examples of wholesale rights violations.

Lastly, I didn’t hear complaints from Democrats in the Carter or Clinton years when Democrats held authority in the White House and Congress. Were you as appalled then by the ‘fascism’ of government, by the lack of debate and checks-and-balances? Or is it just that now as a minority party that you raise those concerns. Its easy for the minority party to want a bipartisan process—that’s just natural. The question is whether you and the Democrats will want it if and when the Democrats regain the majority.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 4, 2006 7:48 AM
Comment #131287

Republicans are cowards who panic at the sight of Rumors of Terrorists.

Joebagodonuts, did you know the Government will investigate you if you pay off all your credit cards? Apparently, BushCo can freeze your bank account while Homeland Security investigates.

Posted by: Aldous at March 4, 2006 10:34 AM
Comment #131294

Aldous:

I typically don’t respond to posters who show such little intelligence in their post as your have historically done. I recognize your attempts at sarcasm—its just that sarcasm without any humour often comes off as whining.

But I’ll engage on this since you directed your comment at me. If we look hard enough, we can always find things to complain about. You seem to look awfully hard, as most of your comments are complaints. I prefer to live my life more optimistically. Its more fun—you might consider trying it.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 4, 2006 11:51 AM
Comment #131313

joebagodonuts:

At this point, I am no more willing to have a one-party Democratic government than I am a GOP one. I have no illusions about any one party running government.

Your argument that you haven’t seen any widespread abuses of the Patriot act, and that people’s concerns of potential abuses aren’t the same thing, I wonder about. Glad you’re comfortable with unsupervised wire-tapping by this administration—I’m not. I sometimes wonder if the Dems weak-kneed, spineless responses to GOP abuses of power are because the Bushites have the goods on them via spying, and have threatened to use it. The problem is, is we don’t know. Nobody is looking over the administration’s shoulder to see that these are legitimate investigations. Nobody. Certainly not Congress.

The actual dangers of terrorism have to be kept in perspective, just as you insist that potential abuses of the Patriot Act must be balanced with actual cases of abuse. The potential for harm via terrorism is relatively low—the potentials for abuse of human rights are greater. Gitmo, Abu Graib, detention and torture and thumbing our nose at the Geneva Conventions has had a very damaging effect on our ability to find allies in this war.

Probably the most dangerous aspect of all of this to my mind is this vague, open-ended nature of this ‘undeclared’ war. We’re going to do end-runs around the Constitution and the law to get these bad guys—don’t worry, we’ll let you know when things are under control again.

This administration has lied, misled, fabricated, misinformed, and covered up intelligence regarding the run-up to Iraq and the conduct of the war (the insurgency is on its last legs), they promised warrants for any wire-tapping by the government, they promised keeping the American people safe—all the people—then failed miserably with Katrina.

I am no longer willing to give this administration the benefit of the doubt. They earned my mistrust. I don’t care how big and bad the terrorist threat is—ultimately, in the end, this government, the way it is being run, to my mind, carrys the potential for much graver, much more long-lasting damage to this country and its values.

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 4, 2006 2:18 PM
Comment #131316

joebagodonuts:

I appologize if I came on too strong. I can get a little heated.

As Tim said, if I am going to believe that these are temporary measures to fight a war, then I would like to know just what it will take to achieve a victory against this nebula of anxieties. It’s like fighting your shadow: If we caught Osama Bin Laden today, I am confident that this wouldn’t constitute the end of the “war”. Likewise if we annihilated the whole of Al-Qaeda, I am convinced that we would find new enemies, perhaps even our own domestic ecoterrorists. As I see it, the way we deal with terror is going to be passed on as a permanent legacy, much like how we deal with drugs, and if we choose an approach which means a permanent sacrifice of basic legal rights, I am certainly going to say no thanks.

Posted by: Amani at March 4, 2006 2:47 PM
Comment #131317

Amani:

No need to apologize. I understand your point of view—I simply don’t subscribe to it. Its not even so much that I disagree with your viewpoint, or Tim’s for that matter (although his characterization that Bush has “lied, misled, fabricated, misinformed, and covered up intelligence” is a bit over the top for me.

We all have things we are willing to accept and that which we are not. I don’t know if its urban myth or not, but I hear that if you type certain derogatory or threatening things about a President on the Internet, there are filters that will pick up certain words. Assuming this is true, I dont have a problem with it. It’s certainly an infringement on privacy, but it simply doesn’t affect me at all.

I don’t like the idea of total lack of oversight, but I don’t think that’s where we are either. Consider the issues that have become part of the public awareness: Abu Ghraib, war plans, wiretapping, the DPW ports deal etc. If there were a total lack of oversight, we wouldnt know about such things—they’d be truly hidden from view.

I welcome a true two party system where one party serves as a check to the majority. In today’s political landscape, the minority party’s goals are not to be that check, but rather to be a constant pain in the neck until such time that they can become majority. This is true of both parties, and in both cases, it hurts the country.

Its kind of like a backup quarterback trying to undermine the starting QB; despite the fact that it hurts the team, it helps the backup if the starting QB faces difficulty. Problem is, I want the team to win. I just wish the political players had the same motivation.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 4, 2006 3:24 PM
Comment #131341

joebagodonuts,

What GOOD has the patriot act done? Where are the terrorists we have arrested because of the patriot act? Why give up our rights when doing so doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the war against terrorism? The same with the torture. What great information have we gotten from that?

I am waiting…

Posted by: Max at March 4, 2006 9:32 PM
Comment #131372

Joebagodonuts: fair enough, but let me leave you with some final thoughts. Feel free to do the same.

No need to apologize. I understand your point of view—I simply don’t subscribe to it. Its not even so much that I disagree with your viewpoint, or Tim’s for that matter (although his characterization that Bush has “lied, misled, fabricated, misinformed, and covered up intelligence” is a bit over the top for me.

I agree that many characterizations of Bush’s motivations have been over the top. It is hard to know a man’s heart but easy to make him a demon in yours. However, it is not as hard to anticipate the effects of his actions. I should mention that I am not a partisan, and I am speaking in generalities here. If this were a liberal administration acting in the same fashion I would be just as quick to criticize.

I don’t like the idea of total lack of oversight, but I don’t think that’s where we are either. Consider the issues that have become part of the public awareness: Abu Ghraib, war plans, wiretapping, the DPW ports deal etc. If there were a total lack of oversight, we wouldnt know about such things—they’d be truly hidden from view.

What you’ve seen is a few individuals putting their careers, their reputations, and their freedom on the line to get this information to us, for one reason or another. The Executive’s response to these revelations has been to to obscure or block the legal channels, punish the whistleblower, further restrict information, and stifle debate. In other words, every time something questionable comes to light refinements are being made to make oversight more difficult. Even if the process has not yet been perfected, can there be any question as to the ultimate goal? We can take action and draw a firm legal line, or we can sit back and hope that some prescient individual will always be along just at the right moment and find a way to warn us; but in my experience the world isn’t as full of well placed altruists and heroes as we would like to believe.

We all have things we are willing to accept and that which we are not. I don’t know if its urban myth or not, but I hear that if you type certain derogatory or threatening things about a President on the Internet, there are filters that will pick up certain words. Assuming this is true, I dont have a problem with it. It’s certainly an infringement on privacy, but it simply doesn’t affect me at all.

This one is a bullet to the heart. I don’t know what lengths I would go to to protect your freedom.

Posted by: Amani at March 5, 2006 2:53 AM
Comment #131383

Amani:

Don’t take my comments to suggest that I don’t take freedom seriously. Its the level of freedom that I am talking about. Please understand that we all give up a measure of freedom already. I cited examples of how we give up freedoms everyday willingly (wearing a seatbelt, allowing bags to be searched before boarding an aircraft etc). Most accept these ‘invasions’ of our freedoms without complaint because we see the rationale and necessity of them.

I doubt you’d come rushing to my aid to drive off a policeman who was ticketing me for not wearing a seatbelt, or for infringing upon my choice to drive at a high rate of speed. On the other hand, I too would fight for freedoms of speech even for those whose opinions I abhor, yet you won’t find me supporting someone’s right to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre.

Max:

I won’t stoop to trying to define examples for you. One measure of rationale is that we have not had an attack since 9-11-2001. That’s of course a loose way to define whether the Patriot Act is working or not.

The reality is that if you recognize anything about intelligence gathering, it should be that you don’t publicize the successes. In WWII, we spent tons of money on codebreaking to help us learn of our enemies’ plans. We didn’t publicize it any time that we did break a code, so without examples and using your kind of questioning, we could potentially conclude that all that money was wasted. But…we found out years later that it was money well spent.

I think the measures in the Patriot Act help keep us more secure. There’s not really even much argument about that. The argument centers more on how much we should be willing to give up in order to be secure. And that’s where many disagree.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 5, 2006 7:38 AM
Comment #131488

The Patriot Act is nothing more then a crime fighting bill. I am very disappointed that it was extended. This is very shameful.

We will reget this.

Posted by: LP Mike Sylvester at March 5, 2006 11:35 PM
Comment #131511

The Patriot Act is nothing more than a criminal subversion of our constitutional rights, and a great many of us already regret it…

none more than I.

Posted by: diogenes at March 6, 2006 1:00 AM
Comment #131583

JBOD-

The use of the powers of the Patriot Act are shrouded in secrecy. We’ve already seen the current administration abuse executive priviledge to circumvent the standards for surveilance on citizens who are clearly not terrorists. I have no trust in the government’s ability to sit on their hands when they have such powerful weapons as the patriot act, and virtually no accountability because anyone involved is required to be silent. Violating that silence can mean your separation from society, and a removal of your ability to warn others of the dangers you experienced.

So, for you to ask whether I am afraid of potential or actual abuse is not the point. The potential is obviously there. There is so much secrecy that if and when there is actual abuse, we might never know. From this position of not knowing, you can defend the act as necessary, and villainize anyone who comes under the gun, or you can look at it from another point of view. I’m afraid we don’t see it the same way.

Posted by: AParker at March 6, 2006 12:07 PM
Comment #131603

AParker:

The Patriot Act was just renewed with some changes by the Senate of the United States. It was done so in a pretty bipartisan fashion as well, passing by an 89-10 margin.

I don’t see the secrecy in that. Of course there is going to be some level of secrecy in how its carried out. Unless you want all intelligence activities carried out on the evening news, there always will be a veil of secrecy.

But the Patriot Act is approved of by Congress—what more do you want from it. Yes, there are 10 out of the 99 votes that are against it, but that’s how a representative democracy like ours works. To suggest, as diogenes did above, that the law is a “criminal subversion of our constitutional rights” is simply to ignore the Constitutional method of passing laws in our country. Perhaps mr. diogenes is unaware of how laws get passed, or he just wanted to provide an ignorant slam, but this was done legally and in full view.

I don’t understand what more you might want, AParker, other than our branches of government working together to debate a law, revise the law, and then vote on it.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 6, 2006 12:57 PM
Comment #131631

“To suggest, as diogenes did above, that the law is a “criminal subversion of our constitutional rights” is simply to ignore the Constitutional method of passing laws in our country. Perhaps mr. diogenes is unaware of how laws get passed, or he just wanted to provide an ignorant slam, but this was done legally and in full view.”

perhaps mr. bagofdonuts is ignorant to how a republic works. you can vote all you want and pass all the legislation you want, but certain rights are guaranteed to us despite your laws. this legislation was not a constitutional amendment, which is far more difficult to pass, not to mention the only way to abridge the rights guaranteed therein (try reading it).

“this was done legally and in full view”

few realize the implications of this legislation, including quite obviously, yourself.
many legislators fail to read legislation before they pass it (this is common), which hardly constitutes “full view”, and i’ve already adressed the legality of this legislation, or lack thereof.

nice “ignorant slam”, though.

Posted by: diogenes at March 6, 2006 2:24 PM
Comment #131635

JBOD-

I do not know why you respond to things I do not write. I said the use of the powers of the Patriot Act are shrouded in secrecy, which would explain why you haven’t seen any evidence of abuse, because any use (including abuse) is secret. The rest of your comments have no bearing on the point of my article or my subsequent response.

Posted by: AParker at March 6, 2006 2:32 PM
Comment #131690

AParker:

I asked you whether you’d like all intelligence activities out in the open. While it would hinder intelligence capability, it would certainly shine the sun on all the activities. My point was that the law was voted on and approved by the Senate, and the House will probably follow in suit. If they are accepting of it, then why should you assume that nefarious activities will occur out of it?

The questions remain: Do you want all intelligence activities made public? If not all, which activities do you want publicized? If not publicized, does that mean that bad things are happening?

diogenes:

If legislators don’t read legislation before voting on it, then lets dump them. If that’s your argument for why a law is good or bad, its a radically flimsy argument.

Last I checked, laws are made. They can then be determined to be in violation of the Constitution or not. We are seeing that with the abortion legislation in South Dakota. For now, it has been signed into law. Under the legal system, if challenged, then the constitutionality of the law will be determined by the SCOTUS. Unless I’m mistaken, the fact that you think the Patriot Act is unconstitutional doesn’t hold sway. Its what the SCOTUS thinks about it, if it gets challenged at their level. Until its ruled unconstitutional by them, I’ll not hold your opinion as the arbiter of the land.

Posted by: joebagdonuts at March 6, 2006 5:43 PM
Comment #131692

JBOD-

I am not advocating putting all intelligence activites in the open. However, requesting that such broad and immense powers to invade privacy be placed under proper supervision with adequate powers given to the accused to challenge their right to privacy can be done without significantly hindering intelligence capability. That’s my personal belief, you may think differently.

Additionally, I am not assuming anything (much less the unreasonable stretch that congressional approval implies ‘nefarious activity’ - don’t insult my intelligence to inflate your position.). Rather I am stating my distrust towards the current administration for the precedent they have set in abusing executive priviledge and avoiding consitutional limitations.

Posted by: AParker at March 6, 2006 5:59 PM
Comment #131704

i refuse to play this cyclical game with you joe,
we’ve been over and over this. the SCOTUS cannot rule on the PatAct by virtue of the secrecy built into it. the PatAct is unconstitutional by definition. you can play all you wish at ‘it hasn’t been declared so’, but that does nothing to address the fact.

“If legislators don’t read legislation before voting on it, then lets dump them. If that’s your argument for why a law is good or bad, its a radically flimsy argument.”

first off, yes, let’s dump them… this sad truth is widely known, as well as admitted by members of congress. if you really believed your statement you would support VOID, so obviously this is an attempt at misdirection (since you do not).

secondly, do not put words in my mouth. if i wanted them there, i could find a better way of saying them. your flimsy strawman of an argument was never my own. as we are discussing, my argument is that this act is unconstitutional , and therefore it is very, very bad.

now, you can argue whether undermining our constitution is a bad thing, i suppose; however you cannot argue that this act is anything but a subversion thereof. this is not opinion, this is fact.

before you attempt an insulting, ill-considered response, again mischaracterizing the nature of my post or the facts within it, i would ask you to spend some time actually reviewing the facts.

honestly, if you’re going to act like a neocon, then i intend to ignore you like one.


Posted by: diogenes at March 6, 2006 6:57 PM
Comment #131842

AParker:

I meant no disrespect to your position. You are concerned about abuses—I am pointing out that there is potential for abuse, but the Senate would see that potential as well. And yet they still voted for the Patriot Act in a bipartisan manner. The fact is that there is potential for abuse with or without a Patriot Act. At some level, we are forced to trust our elected officials. If we cannot, then we should get rid of them, which is what elections are for.

I did not say that congressional approval implies nefarious activity. I merely pointed out that you think there is going to be nefarious activity—I wonder why you think Congress would be so blind to it to vote the law in despite this.

diogenes:

You’ve obviously not seen my posts regarding VOID. While I support VOID’s intent, I don’t see it as realistically happening. I see it more likely that Republicans would vote out Democratic incumbents, and vice versa, rather than voting out ALL incumbents. Ideally, we could get rid of the bad representatives and keep the good, but the differing definitions of good and bad prevent that from happening other than in theory.

I don’t know what words you think I put in your mouth. I quoted you a couple times—but I used your own words.

You say the Patriot Act is unconstitutional (your words, not mine). I say that is not determined yet, and I’d suggest that the Senate disagrees with your opinion. I base that on the fact that they overwhelmingly voted to renew it, and why would they vote for something that is obviously unconstitutional.

I don’t think a law is unconstitutional until proven unconstitutional. Sort of like a tax deduction—you can take it up front, but the IRS may eventually rule against it….but until they actively rule against it, the deduction stands.

There is and will be the ability to challenge the Patriot Act. It is not unassailable. Again, though, you seem to think that its obviously unconstitutional. If so, why did the Senate just approve such an obviously unconstitutional act? Perhaps there is more to the story than you are willing to see—perhaps there are those who dislike the act, but recognize constitutionality in it.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 7, 2006 8:46 AM
Comment #131858

JBOD-

You’re still putting words in my mouth. It seems that you cannot conceive of these Congressmen/women being corrupt. I point out here that the Patriot Act’s renewal was blocked less than three months ago due to major concerns by a majority of Senators (from both sides). Without a major change to the act, those concerns have disappeared. This seems suspicious to me, and I am concerned that this shift in support is based in corruption. These are my concerns, I am not assuming that it is truth. However, those concerns are all the more strengthened by the track record of the current administration.

Again, with the voting, it is not as simple as voting out those we see as corrupt. My vote will not do that. To get rid of corrupt representatives and senators, one would have to awaken a huge number of individuals to that corruption. The problem is that most of these voters are absorbed in their pre-formed opinions and are not open to hear about any corruption within the party they champion. So, don’t pretend that my concerns are simply solved by voting.

What I see as our difference here is our trust in our representatives. Perhaps you don’t trust them as much as you come across as doing. You also claim that I think there will be “nefarious activity”. If you’ll recall, those are your words, not mine. I never said there will be anything of the sort. Remember? My concern is the potential for the abuse of the powers to invade the privacy of innocent citizens for political gain/control. Can you not conceive of how a power-hungry individual might use these powers for themselves?

Additionally:

The fact is that there is potential for abuse with or without a Patriot Act.

This is an absolutely terrible argument. Do you actually think that because the government already abuses its power, we ought not to be concerned about giving more opportunities for abuse? If this is truly your opinion, this conversation can serve no more purpose. I just can’t see what else you could mean by that statement.

Ultimately, we are never forced to trust our elected officials. I don’t have to trust them because I didn’t vote all of them in, and I don’t necessarily trust the majority of voters to see beyond their blind partisan alliance. I didn’t even vote for the people who are currently representing me, but that doesn’t mean that my voice and opinions between elections doesn’t count. (And that’s what I hear in your comments about voting… Just vote them out if they’re corrupt… what do you think I try to do? I can’t do it alone, or even with the relatively few individuals who do see what’s going on. In essence, that’s why you see me writing about what I do here at WB.)

Posted by: AParker at March 7, 2006 10:48 AM
Comment #131879

AParker:

You also claim that I think there will be “nefarious activity”. If you’ll recall, those are your words, not mine. I never said there will be anything of the sort. Remember? My concern is the potential for the abuse of the powers to invade the privacy of innocent citizens for political gain/control.

“the abuse of the powers to invade the privacy of innocent citizens for political gain/control” is the nefarious activity that I talk about. Just because I term it nefarious and you didn’t doesn’t mean we disagree on that. You are concerned about bad things happening. That’s exactly what I’ve said.

Do you actually think that because the government already abuses its power, we ought not to be concerned about giving more opportunities for abuse?

I’ve obviously not made my comment clear to you. What I’ve said is that IFFF government wants to abuse its power, it matters little whether there is a Patriot Act or not—the power will be abused. I’ve never advocated not being concerned about abuses of power. What I am saying is that its not the Patriot Act which leads to abuses.

We ARE forced to trust in our elected officials to do their jobs. We should trust BUT verify. If I delegate a job to you, I have to trust that you will do it. But….its also my job to verify that you are in fact doing it. The only other alternative is to do the job myself. As voters and citizens, we essentially are delegating jobs to our elected officials.

I think we may be closer to agreement than you might think. We both want oversight, we both question the effectiveness, veracity and even honesty of our elected officials. And we both see that abuse can take place. I think the big difference in our opinions is that I don’t see the Patriot Act as being bad, and you do. I think you see it as an undue invasion of privacy, while I see it as a necessary tool in the fight to prevent terror. I’m willing to give up some privacy in order to achieve the prevention of attacks. It seems I’m willing to give up more than you are.

If you still think I’m putting words in your mouth, then you have my apologies. That isn’t and hasn’t been my intent.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 7, 2006 11:41 AM
Comment #131894

JBOD-

First, your example of trust is still only a one-to-one trust. What we have in government is obviously more complicated. I did not delegate the job to those in charge (I voted for someone else), I do point out (verify) where representatives do or do not meet my expectations. The job is delegated to them, but I (personally) cannot hold them accountable, nor do I (personally) delegate their responsiblity to them. As a result, I do not have to trust them, specifically, trusting that they fully comprehend the concerns that I have. And I certainly cannot trust them to see beyond their own re-election, and the commitments they have to keep to maintain their power.

You are correct, if the government wants to abuse their power, they will do so, with or without the Patriot Act. But, I’m talking principle here, if they want to abuse their position, let it be clear that it is in no way acceptable. Let there be no ambiguity that their actions might be permitted through some broad and nebulous power-distributing act. If congress says these things are okay, and in addition, there is little to no oversight, there can be such gross negligence in the application of that power and no one to speak up for those being trampled. I find that the version of the Patriot Act that was passed is abhorrent in this aspect.

I think you hit it on the head, you’re willing to give up more than I am. That’s fine, you’re free to do that. But I see that your position is held by a majority of people, and as such, my concerns will likely never be addressed in the form of legislation. Maybe you’re right, perhaps we can keep giving government more power to ‘fight terror’ and nothing will come of it, other than our safety. On the other hand, looking at history, this has the several of the markings of the slow steady march towards a facist state, and that is my ultimate concern.

Posted by: AParker at March 7, 2006 12:32 PM
Comment #131901

AParker:

Thanks for clarifying your position and meaning about “trust”. I agree with you. I was referring not that you voted for someone, but that in the voting process, someone gets elected. If we trust our method of government, then we also must trust the results, even when we disagree with them.

I think if you compared this time in history to the WWII era, you might see the same signs of a slow steady march towards a fascist state. It didn’t happen then—I don’t believe it will now. In 20 years we can look back and see who was right.

Thanks for the dialog. You opened my eyes to some of your points—I hope I was able to do the same.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 7, 2006 12:58 PM
Comment #131913

we have constitutional rights. if those rights are infringed upon, it is unconstitutional. no one need recognize it as such, for it still remains unconstitutional. congress voted to renew the PatAct because they are cowards, and because they value reelection above all else (VOID them).

your comment,

“I don’t think a law is unconstitutional until proven unconstitutional.”

…applies to people, not laws. whether or not those who use this ‘law’ to violate my rights are actually criminals is a matter for the courts. nevertheless, the PatAct is not a person, and has no right to due process.

i think you are confusing the word “unconstitutional” with the process of checks and balances. my outrage stems from the fact that these checks and balances have also been subverted - part of the unconstitutionality of this, and several other recent, ‘laws’.

let me try an example that has helped illucidate such matters of constitutionality and legality for others in the past. if someone cheats on their taxes and isn’t caught, are their actions legal? certainly not. if someone is murdered, yet no one is convicted or penalized for the act, has any crime been committed? certainly so. if bush were to declare the abolition of all branches of government save the presidency, who would declare this action unconstitutional, exactly? by your definition, it wouldn’t be.

thus, the age-old adage, ‘it aint illegal if you don’t get caught’, does not hold up… and the PatAct is a subversion of the constitution.

Posted by: diogenes at March 7, 2006 1:49 PM
Comment #131918

JBOD-

Thanks to you as well, but let me say a couple of things. First, I suppose that I do not trust our current method of government, as it is enacted today. Second, that by historically, I mean not to look to just US history, but to the history of actual facist states and how they originated. (Some from the WWII era, but even beyond that scope) And we are seeing some of the early signs of facism, and I intend to point those out, so that we are on our guard and so that we will hopefully do our parts to keep government accountable. And yes, you did indeed give me some perspective. Peace.

Posted by: AParker at March 7, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #131922

diogenes:

There are certainly obvious examples of what you talk about. A murder is a murder, whether anyone is caught or not. But it first must be defined as a murder, to the exclusion of the other possibilities.

Take the following: a man is found dead with an execution style bullet wound in his head. No gun is found, which presumptively excludes suicide as a cause of death. Is this then a murder? Possibly, but not definitively. It could be self-defense. The facts that I gave do not give enough information to make a conclusion. The same is true for your claim of the unconstititutionality of the Patriot Act. Its simply not the given that you present it as.

You call the Patriot Act a subversion of the Constitution. I respect your rationale for your opinion, but I don’t agree with it, and apparently neither do the 89 members of the Senate who voted for it.

I’m not sure on what basis you feel your opinion holds more weight than those who disagree with you, especially those with far more insight into the legal definitions of constitutionality than you or I have. You’ll note, hopefully, that I’ve held out the possibility that the Patriot Act could be unconstitutional, though I don’t think it is. On the contrary, you hold only that it is definitively unconstitutional, with no other option.

Perhaps you can show me specifically which part of the Patriot Act you find unconstitutional, and why. Perhaps we just need to disagree on our opinions, rather than try unsuccessfully to get the other to agree.

Whatever you choose, thanks for your opinions.

Posted by: jeobagodonuts at March 7, 2006 2:25 PM
Comment #131943

AParker:

I tend to look at the United States as being very different from other countries. I can see the roots of the fascist state that you refer to, but in the context of the United States, I don’t have the concern that I would have with regard to other countries. That might be idealistic, but idealism is one of the strengths of our country, I believe. I’ve seen our country impose similar restrictions of liberty before in our history, and not fall into fascism. I believe we will continue to do so in the present and future.

I agree with you that we need to be on guard. I truly do want oversight of our government, and I respect the role that a minority party should play as a check and balance. I fear that in our two party system, that role has changed to be one of simply trying to become the majority party at any cost. That is true of both parties.

I remain optimistic for our future, not blindly so, but with confidence that we will remain a great nation, albeit one with faults and one that holds itself to higher standards than most of the rest of the world. We will undoubtedly sometimes fall short of our standards, but we will continue to strive for our higher standards.

(And so ends the Doris Day/June Cleaver portion of our program) :)

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 7, 2006 4:33 PM
Comment #131947

When it comes to liberty, I’m a fan of Thomas Jefferson. He has always struck me as such a confusing figure, owning slaves, but proclaiming the necessity of freedom, helping found the republic, but simultaneously speaking of a need for violent struggle if liberty is to be constantly protected.

“What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusetts: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen-yard in order.”

Jefferson advocated essentially killing off through revolution the entrenched powerful seeking to limit liberty. Why should I give up liberty for defense. Is it really better to be safe and not be free? Certainly these are little things, but on a matter of principle, is not any liberty all liberty?

Just to clarify, im not advocating an overthrow of our government, but the 3rd presidnt of the United States sure was. If someone wants your liberty, they should have to kill you for it. The fact that America is allowing “the times have changed” to subvert our essential values is a sad thing indeed.

In the words of Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

These words have no compromise. It is clear, fight, die, stand up for LIBERTY, or you betray the ideal of liberty.

Now, all of that is well and good, and I dont necissarily agree with all of it (while i might myself be willing to die for the concept of liberty, im a pacifist so i cant really condone killing patriots and tyrants), but this is where America came from. Have we become comfortable, fat, weak slobs with little conviction and no will to fight?

www.iandanger.com/blog

Posted by: iandanger at March 7, 2006 4:47 PM
Comment #131956

“Have we become comfortable, fat, weak slobs with little conviction and no will to fight?”

throw in ignorant and cowardly, and we’ve got ourselves a winner. but truthfully, i think that in due time we will find out what this country is made of. the best of us are working too hard under the yoke of the corrupt, fat, lazy, cowardly few; they keep the majority of america passified by way of extreme exhaustion.


joe,

i must regretfully inform you that, despite several efforts, i have been able to decipher little of the cryptic, paltering jargon which comprises the PatAct. i doubt that many of those politicians whom you so unquestioningly trust could either. what i have seen, i have not liked. one such part is in title 18, part i, chapter 121, 2709 . of course, this was the original…

and just so you know, i’m not the only one who recognizes the unconstitutionality of the PatAct, as you mistakenly seem to think.

Associated Press: ACLU Says Patriot Act Unconstitutional

i know, no surprise there… but how ‘bout these gems;

Federal judge rules part of Patriot Act unconstitutional

and (unrelated case)…

Key Part of Patriot Act Ruled Unconstitutional

i am not surprised that you refuse to believe a stranger on a blog; yet i am astounded that you would believe a group of corrupt, lying, politicians (whom are daily being exposed as such) without investigating the matter yourself - i strongly encourage you to do so.

Posted by: diogenes at March 7, 2006 5:31 PM
Comment #132045

diogenes:

A couple points of fact here:

You’ve claimed that the Patriot Act is unconstitutional on its face, and that because of its secrecy, it cannot be challenged in a legal setting. Here are your words on the issue:
“…nevertheless, the PatAct is not a person, and has no right to due process. You also said, and I quote: ” the SCOTUS cannot rule on the PatAct by virtue of the secrecy built into it.

Yet you provided two links showing that the Patriot Act HAS in fact been challenged in court. The apparent secrecy that concerns you has not prevented people from having the standing to bring cases into federal court. An excerpt from one of your links:

“The ruling marks the first court decision (U.S. District Court) to declare a part of the post-September 11, 2001 anti-terrorism statute unconstitutional, said David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor”

So its directly as I’ve been saying. If its unconstitutional, then let it be adjudicated in a court of law—-that’s how our system works. By the way, I don’t know the specific steps for a case to reach the SCOTUS, but I do know that arguing before a District Court would be one of the steps in the process. Thanks for doing the homework to show that our system is useful, and for showing how it works in relation to the Patriot Act. I was dealing in theory—you’ve proven the case.

Lastly, I’ve not said you are the only one who thinks the Patriot Act is unconstitutional. What I’ve said distinctly is that there are many who disagree with you, yet you seem to blithely cast aside their opinions. With statements like “the PatAct is unconstitutional by definition”, you make it seem as if there is no discussion possible about the merits of the Patriot Act. I can find plenty who think its unconstitutional, and I can find plenty who think it is constitutional. I showed that 89 of 99 Senators voted FOR the latest iteration of the Act, which would lead me to presume that they think its constitutional. So its up for discussion, and not closed to discussion as you have seemed to suggest.

Thanks for your work.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 8, 2006 6:11 AM
Comment #132086

JBOD-

I totally hear what you’re saying. Although I’m not as optimistic as you are. I see that we’ve (sort of) been down this road before, however, I fear a more complacent consituency and a more determined group of leaders. I also hear from you something that is very important to me, and that is the downfall of the two-party system. I am also not optimistic that the voting public will ever transcend the limited two party paradigm. Everyone wants to know that a third party can win before they even consider throwing a vote in that direction. Oh well, we’ll see how everything pans out. Thanks for the discussion.

Posted by: AParker at March 8, 2006 10:15 AM
Comment #132166

AParker:

I’ve talked about a viable 3rd party before, but not one of the ones normally discussed. My thought is this: What if a third party emerged from BETWEEN the two major parties? Third parties right now, such as the Green party, tend to orient towards the outer fringes of the existing major two parties. Perhaps it would begin with the likes of McCain, Lieberman, and the “Gang of 14” relatively middleground Senators who kept the filibuster debacle from happening.

With people like McCain and Lieberman, there might be a level of crossover at the INNER fringe, which might allow such a party to tap into each major party’s weaknesses. In doing so, a third party might carve out a piece of each party’s voters, rather than trying to get just one party’s extra votes, thus making it instantly more viable.

Its a pipe dream, I suppose, since the folks like McCain and Lieberman have far more chance of losing big than of winning big, and so probably wouldn’t consider it. But whatcha think of the thought process?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 8, 2006 1:55 PM
Comment #132224

“Yet you provided two links showing that the Patriot Act HAS in fact been challenged in court. The apparent secrecy that concerns you has not prevented people from having the standing to bring cases into federal court.”

the secrecy prevents certain aspects from being challenged in a court of law - the ones that can be challenged have, and are being found unconstitutional. thus, the preponderance of evidence concerning the courts supports my argument, not your own.

perhaps, as this act is further implemented, more instances will arise. however, these instances will be after the fact; i.e., someone’s rights will already have been wrongly abused. (let’s just hope that it’s not us, right?)

you are correct in that i was too general in some of my claims, as i am too often wont to do (and you promptly exploited those generalizations), and that is more concession than you deserve considering your constant evasion of my original point.

“To suggest, as diogenes did above, that the law is a “criminal subversion of our constitutional rights” is simply to ignore the Constitutional method of passing laws in our country.”

so far, at least two rulings have upheld my claim. therefore, to claim that this act (or sections thereof) is not unconstitutional demonstrates a definite ignorance regarding the act, or the constitution itself.

“Thanks for doing the homework to show that our system is useful, and for showing how it works in relation to the Patriot Act. “

thanks for distorting and miscontruing the information i have provided on your behalf to ameliorate and bolster your own lackluster argument. here’s an idea, do your own homework, because….

“I showed that 89 of 99 Senators voted FOR the latest iteration of the Act, which would lead me to presume that they think its constitutional.”

… this is a rather naive basis for forming your own conclusion on the matter. whether or not they think it’s constitutional, they’ve already been proven wrong in the aforementioned two instances, as have you. one wonders, if they were to pass legislation which explicitly
expunged the entire constitution, would you think that unconstitutional?

again, i suggest you do some thinking of your own - cuz i’m done thinking for you, and those politicians you so eagerly trust don’t appear to do much thinking for their part.

Posted by: diogenes at March 8, 2006 5:36 PM
Comment #132250

diogenes:

Actually, the 89 Senators voted on the amended Patriot Act, not the original one. The court cases you cited both referred to the initial version of the Act, so your comment that “they’ve already been proven wrong in the aforementioned two instances” is inaccurate.

If you choose to believe that your citations of two Patriot Act court cases supports your argument that the Patriot Act cannot be adjudicated in the courts, well….I’ll let that stand on its own. It needs no further comment.

From the beginning, I’ve stated that the Patriot Act will be judged in the courts. It is not unconstitutional simply because you, or anyone else, thinks it is. There are obviously different legal ways to look at the Act, as evidenced by the legal minds who disagree on its constitutionality.

You seem to want to judge it simply by your opinion, whereas I’ll take up the method laid out in our legal system. Whether it ultimately is rendered constitutional or unconstitutional, I prefer my method to yours.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 8, 2006 7:42 PM
Comment #132271

joe

i think that anyone who happens to actually read what i have posted will come to an entirely different conclusion than yourself. i am tired of your mischaracterizations, as i said in so many words previously.

look into the issue or don’t, i no longer care. time will prove me right. your sole defense of the act is that no court has found it unconstitutional - this is no defense at all (they found the previous version to be so, and this one is little different). trust your honorable politicians - time will prove that a mistake as well. as it is obvious that you are bound by pride to your ignorance, i have given up the effort to enlighten you.

we can agree to disagree, or you can argue about that one too… but you’ll be doing so alone.

best,

Posted by: diogenes (i) at March 8, 2006 8:45 PM
Comment #132281

I’ll happily leave it to others to decide on how they think. I’ve not mischaracterized your comments—in fact, I’ve merely quoted them. If they don’t hold up to scrutiny, so be it.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 8, 2006 9:32 PM
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