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Big Brother: The Sequel
February 28, 2010 7:50 AM   Subscribe

The Patriot Act was originally signed into law by Bush in 2001, following 9/11. This bill gives law enforcement agencies the power to search your email, telephone records, medical records, record your telephone conversations, without your consent. It's allowance of indefinite detention of immigrants has been a major point of criticism from opponents. Today, President Obama, who previously promised to protect our civil liberties, has quietly extended the bill for another year.
posted by Malice (108 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:51 AM on February 28, 2010 [16 favorites]


I apologize for not having a better last link, but I can't find a decent news source yet. Here's the actual vote.
posted by Malice at 7:52 AM on February 28, 2010


I'm not even going to pretend to be surprised by this.

Huzzah for the lesser of two evils.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:56 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Indefensable.
posted by uni verse at 7:59 AM on February 28, 2010


I will point out that the only Nays were democrats or independents. Smaller government, indeed.
posted by fusinski at 7:59 AM on February 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


The actual vote link goes to the 2006 vote.
posted by Houstonian at 8:01 AM on February 28, 2010


Good catch, Houstonian. I didn't realize that. I'll see if I can find the right one.
posted by Malice at 8:03 AM on February 28, 2010


*sigh*

This administration is a master class increasing voter disappointment/apathy.
posted by graventy at 8:06 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:07 AM on February 28, 2010


This is troubling news indeed.
posted by fiestapais at 8:15 AM on February 28, 2010


Way to fire up your base there, Mr. President.
posted by octothorpe at 8:15 AM on February 28, 2010


Rabble rabble rabble ... ooh American Idol is on. TTYL~
posted by msbutah at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the same Obama that voted for telecom immunity, right? I guess what I'm getting at is that we knew long before he was elected that he was a pro-military, pro-surveillance kinda guy.

Perhaps my biggest problem with the crazed right-wing talking points is that they serve to marginalize legitimate opposition to our government's misguided and immoral policies. I felt the same way about truthers, but at least they weren't taken seriously by anyone. I really want to believe this is an intended effect of the media's portrayal of our "two party" system.
posted by polyhedron at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2010 [7 favorites]



Bad. But who knows how hard the CIA and/or Pentagon was prepared to fuck Obama if he didn't extend this. Let's not pretend the dying freak-show on C-SPAN has anything to do with anything.
posted by bukharin at 8:19 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


But... but... but... He's the good guy!?!
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 8:22 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


CHANGE
posted by Legomancer at 8:25 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


"As president, Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision."

PolitiFact shows this Obama campaign promise as "In The Works".

But yeah, like polyhedron said: Obama's flip-flop on telecom immunity made this a foregone conclusion. I note that even Greenwald can't seem to muster much of an outrage boner today.

Like they say: Privacy Is Dead. Get Over It.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:25 AM on February 28, 2010


I'll still plan to vote for them in November. You know, assuming it's not raining and there's nothing good on TV.
posted by ryanrs at 8:27 AM on February 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Two cheers for democracy!
posted by kimota at 8:27 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The last 'graph of the story:

The provisions have been cited as necessary by lawmakers in the aftermath of the failed attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up a U.S. commercial passenger jet and the shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Texas by a military psychiatrist who had been communicating with an anti-American cleric in Yemen.

So... we need the ability to wiretap people because of incidents that the wiretapping failed to uncover... brilliant.
posted by Huck500 at 8:28 AM on February 28, 2010 [29 favorites]


Today, President Obama, who previously promised to protect our civil liberties, has quietly extended the bill for another year.

Shouldn't that read "Today, CONGRESS, a body that is comprised of over five hundred contentious members, has quietly extended the bill for another year"?

Yes, yes, I know, Obama could have vetoed it -- but do you really think that if he had, that some blowhards in Congress wouldn't have raised shit if he did that, throwing yet ANOTHER monkey wrench into the attempt to finally get the fucking health care reform done?

I'm not happy either, but I'm also in favor of placing blame in the proper place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:30 AM on February 28, 2010 [30 favorites]


Does The Patriot Act Violate Free Speech?
posted by homunculus at 8:35 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't regret voting for Obama. I regret spending money and effort on his behalf.
posted by wrapper at 8:40 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Yes, yes, I know, Obama could have vetoed it -- but do you really think that if he had, that some blowhards in Congress wouldn't have raised shit..."

Wait, I thought it was the CIA that was making Obama do this terrible thing so completely in violation of his principles.

I know the dream of the Good Father is really hard to relinquish, but I wish you all would at least keep your fantasies straight.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:40 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos,

I appreciate the sentiment but that's a very tired argument used to justify all sorts of ridiculous extensions of power by the government. Why even have a presidential veto?

I would go so far as to suggest that kind of thinking is what has enabled the health care fiasco to be so very brimming with fail.
posted by polyhedron at 8:42 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


but do you really think that if he had, that some blowhards in Congress wouldn't have raised shit if he did that, throwing yet ANOTHER monkey wrench into the attempt to finally get the fucking health care reform done?

There are so many things wrong with this I don't even know where to start.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


While this is clearly disappointing, and not what a many (most?) Obama supporters wanted, I have to agree with EmpressCallipygos that tactically, he has no choice at this point.

For whatever reason, Obama decided that his administration was going to live or die based on health care reform, and if he does something to screw it up now, he'll never accomplish anything.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:43 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This country will not be a country again until we realize that putting a person's civil liberties at risk is tantamount to putting their physical lives at risk. This country was founded on the idea that it's better that 1000 criminals go free than ONE person is imprisoned illegally. If you aren't willing to die for that ideal then you are not American - you are a coward. Constitutional scholar my ass.
posted by any major dude at 8:44 AM on February 28, 2010 [28 favorites]


From homunculus's link:
The government contended, even filing a legal brief on behalf of the PKK in an American court would be a crime. Here is an exchange in 2007 between Judge Sidney Thomas and Justice Department lawyer Douglas Letter:

"If they file, for example, an amicus brief here, that would be a criminal act?"

"Yes, because Congress wants these organizations to be radioactive."

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that as applied in this case, the law is unconstitutional.
Yay 9th circuit, I guess.
posted by ryanrs at 8:47 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


While this is clearly disappointing, and not what a many (most?) Obama supporters wanted, I have to agree with EmpressCallipygos that tactically, he has no choice at this point.

He could easily have just pocket vetoed it, perhaps holding it hostage over the heads of Republicans who refuse to assist or get out of the way with health care reform. If their platform is built on the plank of things like the Patriot Act, then it's an effective chip at the table.
posted by hippybear at 8:48 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Agree with Empress Callipygos too.

As much as this sucks balls. Blame the fact that (mostly through a lot of lies, fear-mongering stuff) this country is a lot more right wing than Obama.
posted by angrycat at 8:49 AM on February 28, 2010


angrycat: "Blame the fact that (mostly through a lot of lies, fear-mongering stuff) this country is a lot more right wing than Obama."

Updated list of those whom Obama is powerless before:

1. CIA
2. Congress
3. Right-wing voters

The thread is still young. Who else can we add?

How about... oh, I don't know... Giada de Laurentiis? That enormous head of hers is pretty frightening.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:57 AM on February 28, 2010 [12 favorites]



We mefites have an uncanny ability to ignore reality and political consequences.
posted by notreally at 8:59 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


...but she makes some mean pasta.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:59 AM on February 28, 2010


Yes, yes, I know, Obama could have vetoed it -- but do you really think that if he had, that some blowhards in Congress wouldn't have raised shit if he did that, throwing yet ANOTHER monkey wrench into the attempt to finally get the fucking health care reform done?

I'm not happy either, but I'm also in favor of placing blame in the proper place.


The last time it was extended, I laid the blame at the feet of Bush. This time, I lay the blame at the feet of Obama.

Sorry, but fair's fair. Especially when, a few weeks ago, it finally seemed like he'd grown a pair.
posted by parliboy at 9:03 AM on February 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


This country is NOT as right-extreme as the media portrayal may lead you to believe.

Capitulate to win? That's not how it works.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it subverts the entire democratic process. How will you ever elect politicians who will enact their beliefs if they must kow-tow to a vile, ignorant political-industrial media complex?

Don't vote for people who will sacrifice your rights for political gain. If we can't get health care this time, we must display the strength of our convictions. Unfortunately, it seems our convictions are extremely willowy.
posted by polyhedron at 9:05 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apparently here's the actual, actual vote.

I assume everyone contacted their Representative prior to heading here to snark.
posted by ecurtz at 9:06 AM on February 28, 2010


ecurtz, that says, "BILL TITLE: Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act"?
posted by Houstonian at 9:09 AM on February 28, 2010


Capitulate to win? That's not how it works.

That's what you think! Soon we'll have those Republicans just where we want them!

This is part of the long con, right? RIGHT?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:11 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, look on the bright side - soon the Democrats will have that coveted 41 seat majority that has allowed the right wing to control congress thus far. THEN WE'LL SEE SOME HEADS ROLL!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:13 AM on February 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


About a year ago, I was chatting with a friend about the position of the religious right in the Republican party. I remember saying that the Republican leadership was just stringing them along with pandering and empty promises, never intending to deliver. What fools they were, pledging their allegiance to a leadership that looked down on them with utter contempt.

I guess what I'm saying is, the Democrats owe me some pandering. I mean, shit, at least pretend we're on the same side.
posted by ryanrs at 9:18 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank you for the 9/11 Wikipedia link. I totally forgot that happened!
posted by birdherder at 9:21 AM on February 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


You people talking about how Obama had no choose need to open your eyes. There is remarkable convenience in a law like this. It's been made clear that through the PA people suspected of terrorism can be held indefinitely, legally denied habeas corpus, etc. It essentially allows the state to disappear anyone who may ever conceivably become a problem, regardless of their innocence or guilt. The more aggressively it's used, the less excuse anyone has to say Obama's soft on terrorism, and the less likely any of these perceived threats are o be able to organize and actually attack. Is it a deterrant? In the short term, it allows us to illegally search and seize and lock up anyone with a turban who looks at you cockeyed, but in the long run, we are investing in anti-American sentiment that will pay dividends over the next couple of decades. Seriously. Your excuses are as tire and frustrating and poorly reasoned as the administration's.
posted by orville sash at 9:23 AM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


From Irregular Times, "The vote was 315 in favor of extending the Patriot Act without reform, 97 against, and 20 not voting. Search for information about the roll call of this vote online tonight, and you’ll just find this nameless tally of numbers. You won’t find the names. Why?

The reason is that the House Democratic leadership voted on the renewal of the Patriot Act in such a way as to hide the vote from the American people. Go to the web site of the Clerk of the House, and you’ll see no vote from today about the Patriot Act at all. What you will see is Roll Call 67, “On Motion to Concur in Senate Amendments” for H.R. 3961, the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act.

That’s the vote on whether to extend the Patriot Act without any reforms of its abusive spying programs. It doesn’t look like it, of course, but the Patriot Act extension is what’s referred to by “Senate Amendments”. The Senate Democrats sneaked the Patriot Act extension into a Medicare reform bill, and then voted by voice vote to approve the amendment so that no politician would have to have their name attached to this shameless abandonment of liberty. The House Democrats benefited from the maneuver as well, being able to vote on unnamed amendments related to Medicare reform, rather than having it on the record for everyone to see that they voted to renew the worst abuses of the Patriot Act without any effort to protect Americans from their spying powers at all."
posted by Houstonian at 9:23 AM on February 28, 2010 [32 favorites]


Shouldn't that read "Today, CONGRESS, a body that is comprised of over five hundred contentious members, has quietly extended the bill for another year"?

Yes, yes, I know, Obama could have vetoed it -- but do you really think that if he had, that some blowhards in Congress wouldn't have raised shit if he did that
Why would he veto a law he was asking for? Congress doesn't pass bills like this if law enforcement (in the executive branch) asks for it. People for the administration were testifying on behalf of the bill.

If Obama wanted too, he could completely ignore the patriot act and not have the FBI/CIA/etc use any of the extra powers. If he did that, there wouldn't be any need to reauthorize it. Every year they have to actually ask to have it reauthorized.

In particular the DOJ has been talking about the Zazi case as a reason why they need all these surveillance powers.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 AM on February 28, 2010


While this is clearly disappointing, and not what a many (most?) Obama supporters wanted, I have to agree with EmpressCallipygos that tactically, he has no choice at this point.

For whatever reason, Obama decided that his administration was going to live or die based on health care reform, and if he does something to screw it up now, he'll never accomplish anything.
Again, if the Obama administration wasn't using the patriot act, there would be no reason to reauthorize it. The Patriot act grants additional privileges to the government, which they are under no obligation to take advantage of. If Obama didn't support the patriot act, it's unlikely there would have been a vote.
posted by delmoi at 9:30 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


All the more reason to buy one of these... Where's your messiah now?
posted by Gungho at 9:31 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, shit.
posted by brundlefly at 9:36 AM on February 28, 2010


While it was always clear to me he would let the Patriot Act stand, mostly because I watched him say it was a good thing but just need to be twerked a tad, I think he should have brought it down in flames. Certainly that would have helped with the opposition constantly painting him as someone who is going to hand the country over to islamic terrorists at any minute. I'm sure they wouldn't have used that at all to whip the tea partying gun stocked groups into a raging fury that led to serious, serious problems. Not at all.
posted by cashman at 9:41 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Gun-toting nationalist radical hate the PATRIOT Act just as much as any lily-livered pacificist progressive radical, for what it's worth.

The Tea Party people are very misunderstood. While there is a large segment that consists of cryptoracist talk radio Republicans, there are many marginalized people who have self-identified as conservative their entire lives and are outraged at the massive spending and total disregard for civil liberties our government has been engaged in.

That is to say, to lump all Tea Party folks into the same group as neoconservative chickenshit, I mean chickenhawk, future Dyncorp lobbyists is EXACTLY the problem.
posted by polyhedron at 9:48 AM on February 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


in looking to explain ecurtz's actual actual vote link

i needed to see why: "There are 6 versions of Bill Number H.R.3961 for the 111th Congress"

of which item 6 is "To extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 until February 28, 2011. (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate)"

which is referred to as

H.R. 3961.ENR

posted by Hammond Rye at 9:52 AM on February 28, 2010


so if Obama had wanted to pick a fight, he could decry the practice of sneaking the PATRIOT ACT into the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act as H.R.3961.ENR

but he didn't.

better luck next year guys.
posted by Hammond Rye at 9:59 AM on February 28, 2010


Way to fire up your base there, Mr. President.

This.

But when that base doesn't show up, it'll all be Nader's fault, or the gays, or whatever the hate-target's going to be in 2012.
posted by rodgerd at 10:11 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can't claim Obama's signing as capitulation when his own party voted 2:1 in favor. It's one thing to take on 95% of the Republicans single-handedly, it's a completely different story to take on 67% of the Democrats at the same time.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:15 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


While there is a large segment that consists of cryptoracist talk radio Republicans...

...a large segment of religious nutcases, a large segment of Ron Paul zombies, a large segment of birthers, a large segment of racist paleoconservatives, but nevertheless... wait, what were we talking about?
posted by Behemoth at 10:15 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This country was founded on the idea that it's better that 1000 criminals go free than ONE person is imprisoned illegally.

This seems like kind of a dumb idea.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:32 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's got (almost) nothing to do with terrorism.

According to a July report from the Administrative Office of the US Courts (thanks to Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post), of 763 sneak and peek search warrants issued last year, only three were issued in relation to alleged terrorist offenses, or less than one-half of 1% of all such black-bag clandestine searches. Nearly two-thirds (62%) were issued to investigate drug trafficking offenses.

It's the war on drugs. Same as before.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:46 AM on February 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


This seems like kind of a dumb idea.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese


It sure does, until someone in your family gets wrongly imprisoned without a trial.
posted by any major dude at 10:51 AM on February 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


here's a link to the congressional record re: H.R.3961

interesting reading.
posted by Hammond Rye at 10:53 AM on February 28, 2010


there are many marginalized people who have self-identified as conservative their entire lives and are outraged at the massive spending and total disregard for civil liberties our government has been engaged in.

Yeah, so that's been happening for about nine years, and there's only been a black guy as president for one. Forgive me for daring to inquire about the timing of these sudden feelings of "marginalization."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:55 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


to lump all Tea Party folks into the same group as neoconservative chickenshit, I mean chickenhawk, future Dyncorp lobbyists is EXACTLY the problem.

If there are Tea Party folks who aren't happy with being lumped into this group, then they need to leave the Tea Party, which is entirely defined as this, and create a new party of their own. You see, that's what happens with parties -- people get lumped together under the umbrella that defines the group. Don't like it? Well, either work hard and visibly to change the definition or form a new group. But until the Tea Party redefines themselves away from this, I don't see any reason not to lump anyone who claims membership into that definition.
posted by hippybear at 10:57 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


To help clarify things (I interpret this as NOT a sell out to end all Obama sellouts, everybody)

John Conyers (D-MI), when addressing the House, had this to say to fellow Democrats:
As one who has found that the USA PATRIOT Act needs a great deal of improvement and that there have been many excesses and sometimes abuses of these broad powers over the years, I have found that too little consideration of the impact of this type of surveillance on our civil liberties has been looked into. And that's why the Judiciary Committee has undergone an extensive process over the past year and reported out a bill that attempts to reform these provisions and enhance congressional oversight. In the other body, the Judiciary Committee has also passed out a bill that improves, in my view, the PATRIOT Act. So we're very close to real reform.

The House bill has new protections for library and bookseller records. It clarifies the reach of roving authority to prevent ``John Doe'' blanket wiretaps. It tightens the standards for national security letters that have been abused in the past. It has extensive new reporting oversight and sunset provisions to greatly strengthen congressional oversight and makes other changes to the related provisions of law.

Please understand, Members, that this extension is not the final word on the PATRIOT Act, and what we will do is use the time between now and the year that will elapse to improve and pass real reform.

Now, while I would prefer to do this now, it is not to me strategically wise nor logistically possible to accomplish this at this time. And with the provisions expiring in a matter of 3 days, the other body has sent us this extension bill, so there is no reasonable possibility that they could pass a broader measure such as a Judiciary-passed bill at this time.

In other words, we have no other choice but to go along with this extension because there isn't sufficient time. Well, tomorrow is the last day of the week. It's physically impossible. So under these circumstances, it seems to me the best course is to merely maintain the status quo and work with the other body and the administration towards some improvements that I have in mind. I can announce we've made progress towards reaching common ground, and I believe an orderly path forward between now and during the next year will lead us to a much better result.

Now, although this extension doesn't reform underlying law, we recognize there's some value in a process that brings us quickly to another sunset date. Experience has taught that there's nothing like an approaching sunset to bring both the executive branch and the other body to the table with the will to see this resolved. So while I'd rather pass the Judiciary Committee bill out and truly make the reforms that I think are necessary, because of the time constraints that we find, I recommend that we take the next year and continue the process.

I urge your careful consideration of this very important measure.
posted by Hammond Rye at 11:03 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every day I grow more despondent about the state of my country. My only hope is that someday, people look back upon this period with the same incredulity that we now feel when we look back at the McCarthy era.
posted by audacity at 11:05 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Conyers comments make me feel a bit less disappointed, but I do wonder what would be wrong with just not extending the act as it stands. Was the existing national security law really that weak before 9/11?
posted by immlass at 11:07 AM on February 28, 2010


This country is NOT as right-extreme as the media portrayal may lead you to believe.

... The problem with this line of thinking is that it subverts the entire democratic process.


You know, I like many things about your country, but you are what you do.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:08 AM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


It sure does, until someone in your family gets wrongly imprisoned without a trial.

Well, the alternative doesn't have to be a system without trials. It could mean a justice system that is weighted to favor protecting the community rather than the individual.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:15 AM on February 28, 2010


Which means what, exactly? How does a pre-9/11 system fail to protect the community, and how has the Patriot Act made us safer?
posted by mek at 11:47 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]



HammondRye, thanks for the piece from Conyers.


Here's a state-by-state breakdown
of House reps' votes from govtrack (I found it easier to find your representatives and see the information through maps).
posted by fizzix at 12:49 PM on February 28, 2010


Please understand, Members, that this extension is not the final word on the PATRIOT Act, and what we will do is use the time between now and the year that will elapse to improve and pass real reform.

Any compelling reason why should I believe him? Kinda done with taking the word of politicians just because they talk a good game.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:55 PM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Updated list of those whom Obama is powerless before:

1. CIA
2. Congress
3. Right-wing voters

4. Wall Street
5. Banks
6. The press
7. Q
8. People who are not "reality-based"
9. Cordwainer Bird
10. The Minotaur
11. Dracula
12. Mirror universe Barack Obama
posted by fuq at 12:56 PM on February 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


I apologize for not having a better last link, but I can't find a decent news source yet. Here's the actual vote.

That's the vote in 2006; the tip-off is that Sununu is no longer New Hampshire's senator.
posted by orthogonality at 1:21 PM on February 28, 2010


Lentrohamsanin: "Any compelling reason why should I believe him? Kinda done with taking the word of politicians just because they talk a good game."

- I'm sure he's pro-choice.

- How can you tell?

- Well... he's just so good-looking.

posted by Joe Beese at 1:22 PM on February 28, 2010


Which means what, exactly? How does a pre-9/11 system fail to protect the community, and how has the Patriot Act made us safer?

I'm not worried enough about the Patriot Act to know the answers to this. I just took exception to the claim that "it's better that 1000 criminals go free than ONE person is imprisoned illegally." It seems like an extremist point of view. I don't believe that the rights of the individual must always be paramount. We don't apply that philosophy in other areas, like taxation -- the government takes some of the individual's wealth in order to better provide for the collective. And sometimes we have to give up civil liberties in exchange for a safer community.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:35 PM on February 28, 2010


Giving up civil liberties ≠ being illegally imprisoned.

Are you advocating one, the other, or both? This is unclear.

What is clear, to me, is that none of the civil liberties we have sacrificed in the last decade have made us safer; on the contrary, these new powers are being used to further endanger us, both abroad and at home. The president now has the unquestioned power to indefinitely detain us without charge; to assassinate American citizens for what they say; and to massacre civilian villages. Where is the benefit?
posted by mek at 2:21 PM on February 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


we were besotted with our new man, never thinking he would think, speak, or sign anything that was incongruous with our thinking. how could we have been so wrong?
posted by littlebiggy at 2:21 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


7. Q

Star Trek guy or the winged serpent?
posted by brundlefly at 2:24 PM on February 28, 2010


brundlefly: "7. Q

Star Trek guy or the winged serpent?
"

Both! It should probably have two list entries, but the Q's are very effective at bipartisanship.
posted by Drastic at 2:26 PM on February 28, 2010


10. The Minotaur

Previously.
posted by homunculus at 2:29 PM on February 28, 2010


Is Using A Minotaur To Gore Detainees A Form Of Torture?
posted by mek at 2:31 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


And sometimes we have to give up civil liberties in exchange for a safer community.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Ben Franklin
posted by Huck500 at 3:29 PM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obama, look. Sit down. We need to have a talk. Seriously Obama, come on. You want some coffee? OK. This is hard. Look. When I first went home with you that night, you seemed really awesome. I - no, just let me finish, OK? You seemed awesome. And you were, for a while. But Obama... you're kind of a sleazy asshole, and it's just not working out. Don't call me anymore, don't have your friends call me, OK? I'm sorry, but people just grow apart, you know?
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:47 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I'm not actually ready to completely give up on him, but I'm hanging by a pretty damn thin hair.)
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:48 PM on February 28, 2010


Good thing Massachusetts Dems picked Martha Coakley -- instead of Mike Capuano
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2010-67
posted by akash at 4:33 PM on February 28, 2010


Yes, he did!
posted by hamida2242 at 5:00 PM on February 28, 2010


It could mean a justice system that is weighted to favor protecting the community rather than the individual.

And sometimes we have to give up civil liberties in exchange for a safer community.


I hear it works pretty well for China.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:03 PM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess that I'm still in love with Obama to the extent that I'm not too into him being called a sleazy asshole.
I mean, look, how much deep shit are we in? Economy wise/environment wise/inequality wise? Don't get me wrong, I hate the Patriot Act and don't think it makes us safer.
But the idea that somehow Glenn Beck is responsible for the view that the U.S. is right-oriented is just wrong. It doesn't square with the Facebook groups some of my relatives join -- shit that really angers and saddens me -- but their opinions, nonetheless.
If Obama is to be thrown away as the standard of the left -- who's the replacement? I'm asking seriously, here.
posted by angrycat at 5:24 PM on February 28, 2010


"Sleazy asshole" was more to go along with the whole breakup joke than my opinion of him. In all seriousness, I think he believes a lot of what he says (I've never thought him to be anything but a mostly business-as-usual politician with some progressive ideas), but he's so absolutely terrified of offending a vocal minority that he bends over on every issue like this every single time. He was elected on the promise of ending crap like this, not continuing it.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:20 PM on February 28, 2010


To extend the metaphor, it's like The Right is his old abusive boyfriend that he keeps going back to and trying to please, even though The Right hates him and treats him like shit because The Right is a closeted homosexual (OK, OK, but I had to work that one in) and it's really putting a strain on our relationship.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:25 PM on February 28, 2010


For the record, I'm not "in love with" Obama. I never thought he was Superman anyway. Because I just never forgot what my sixth grade civics class said about the checks and balances and the powers of the different sections of government. I never thought he was going to be able to automatically pass laws -- because NO president can automatically pass laws. And no president has EVER been able to pass laws.

People don't pay anywhere near enough attention to who's in Congress, and what they're doing -- and THEY'RE the ones who draft this shit in the first place. I have a problem with what happened, but I'm blaming an ineffective democratic party before I'm blaming one specific person.

In other words, blaming Obama for what Congress did is like blaming the surgeon when the HMO screws up your deductible.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 PM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I hear it works pretty well for China.

It works very well for Singapore.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:13 PM on February 28, 2010


Search for information about the roll call of this vote online tonight, and you’ll just find this nameless tally of numbers. You won’t find the names.

Awe, COME ON! This is just so… blatently… I mean, fuck, man. This is just a fucking joke now, isn't it? Let me guess, this was slipped into the same bill that had the Senate Expropriation Bill E-5948 to secure the skins of 600 kindergartners so all the members of Congress can get themselves some new hats, right? The one before the bill where they created a new federal holiday dedicated exclusively to celebrating hemorrhoids? Did this include the Alternative Fuel source proposals that had the Cat Addendum, S-A-2049?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:27 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


In other words, blaming Obama for what Congress did is like blaming the surgeon when the HMO screws up your deductible.

Well, this was his, or Rahm's, explicit plan: a hands-off approach to HCR, hoping that the Senate would put together a passable bill. The wasted year which resulted is everybody's fault, but most of all it was due to a complete leadership vaccuum. Obama believed that Harry Reid could achieve a transcendental bipartisan reality, which is so completely absurd I don't know whether to laugh or cry. HCR is only alive today because this hands-off plan was finally abandoned for a confrontational approach.
posted by mek at 8:33 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


People don't pay anywhere near enough attention to who's in Congress, and what they're doing -- and THEY'RE the ones who draft this shit in the first place. I have a problem with what happened, but I'm blaming an ineffective democratic party before I'm blaming one specific person.

Actually, I think you're the one who's not paying enough attention to congress here. Anyone can write legislation, what congress does is sponsor it. Often times, lots of people will work on it, including lobbyists. As long as you have someone in congress to sponsor the legislation you write.

In the case of the Patriot Act, it was written by the DOJ under bush, not by anyone in congress. There is a huge amount of interplay between congress and the DOJ/Whitehouse when it comes to national security stuff. After all, the Whitehouse/DOJ/CIA etc are going to be the ones who implement it. And as I said, the DOJ has been asking for various patriot act powers and saying that they need it.

In other words, blaming Obama for what Congress did is like blaming the surgeon when the HMO screws up your deductible.

Only if that surgeon actually had been negotiating with the HMO over their policies, and specifically asked that they not cover operation X, Y, and Z and then gave you one of them, or something.

The idea that the power relationship between congress and the president, currently, is that of a doctor and an HMO is ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 8:39 PM on February 28, 2010


Also, this reauthorization is really small potato compared to the other stuff the Obama administration has been doing on civil liberties.
posted by delmoi at 8:51 PM on February 28, 2010


It works very well for Singapore.

I've run into plenty of Singaporeans who beg to differ.

Of course, they can't do it too loudly if they don't want to end up broke or in jail.
posted by rodgerd at 9:08 PM on February 28, 2010


Surely this...
posted by Thorzdad at 7:24 AM on March 1, 2010


To me Conyers statement actually rings pretty true. The existing law was about to sunset, congress hadn't gotten around to drafting any substantial reforms or other measures to replace the admittedly flawed Patriot Act legislation, but at the same time, simply allowing the current law to expire would have gotten all the National Security obsessed bozos (and there are a lot of them, both in government and the electorate) not to mention FOX news and its various affiliates whipped into an apoplectic frenzy, and potentially been used as an excuse to stall everything else going through the legislative process (as if the Republicans even needed another excuse to obstruct basic legislative functions like confirming cabinet appointments).

The situation in Washington is a hell of a lot less favorable to progress than most seem to realize. For one thing, you can't just go around firing or overruling career DOJ staff or even political appointees when you can't manage to get existing, well-qualified candidates through confirmation processes.

I'm sorry. I believe sincerely that there will soon be a serious effort made to remedy the Patriot Act's excesses. Until then, there are a number of supplemental executive orders that seem to me in practice to override some of the more worrying provisions in the Patriot Act.

And what makes you think Congress wouldn't have just overridden a presidential veto?

They passed the damn extension with something like a 76% majority voting yea! That's plenty of votes to override a presidential veto. Vetoing it would have been a stupid, pointless exercise in showcasing the executive branch's impotence.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:55 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oops. The Conyers' Statement.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:56 AM on March 1, 2010


This is a surprise? To anyone? Check out the fall of 2009.

Sep 15, 2009: Obama seeks Patriot Act extensions.

Oct 8, 2009: Obama Sides with Republicans; PATRIOT Act Renewal Bill Passes Senate Judiciary Committee Minus Critical Civil Liberties Reforms

Nov 23, 2009: Obama Quietly Backs Patriot Act Provisions

Dec 18, 2009: Under the radar, Obama pushes for Patriot Act renewal

This country was founded on the idea that it's better that 1000 criminals go free than ONE person is imprisoned illegally. If you aren't willing to die for that ideal then you are not American - you are a coward.

Thanks. It's nice to have a hard-and-fast rule that distinguishes the "real Americans" from the cowards.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:10 AM on March 1, 2010


You can't claim Obama's signing as capitulation when his own party voted 2:1 in favor. It's one thing to take on 95% of the Republicans single-handedly, it's a completely different story to take on 67% of the Democrats at the same time.

But I didn't vote for 67% of those democrats. I voted for some guys that didn't make it into Congress. And I also voted for the guy who could say "you know what dems? The Patriot Act is bullshit. It doesn't protect Americans, and it doesn't stop crazy people from doing things. Voting for it might make you look good for Fox News and their viewers, but nobody who watches Fox News in earnest is going to vote for you. So fuck you. Grow a pair. This act is dead."

I know it isn't quite that simple. I also know it takes time to fix the problems that Bush & Co. made during his time in office. But man. People on the left busted their asses to ensure that we ended that tyranny. We rose up, we campaigned. We got involved politically. That we did so was a big deal for a lot of us, because we had been told our entire lives that we were apathetic, irresponsible, not involved in the political process, etc. etc.

Many people had some pie-in-the-sky ideas that Obama would fix all of our problems in six months. Obviously that's silly, but throw us a fucking bone. I just don't see where Obama and a Congress that is still super-democrat is getting something done that makes me feel like it was worth it. "Not as bad as the last guy" isn't what we were pushing for. I am so fucking tired of capitulation. I don't know why we ever started bothering with bipartisanship, since it takes two groups to be willing to make bipartisanship happen, and I don't see any willingness on the part of the Republicans to do that.

I just want one thing. One thing about which I can say "yes. That is a good thing. Obama & Congress made that happen. I'm glad I voted for him."
posted by nushustu at 11:46 AM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I didn't vote for 67% of those democrats.

But you and I are not the final say in this Democracy.

Like it or not, plenty of other people did vote for those 67% of Democrats you despise. A lot of people even voted for far right candidates.

You'll have to convince those other voters to support more progressive candidates if you want to see a more progressive congress.

In the meantime, the congress is still composed of large numbers of Democrats and Republicans who supported the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, Telecom immunity, and lots of other legislation you or I might take issue with. That's not an excuse, it's reality.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:16 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


You'll have to convince those other voters to support more progressive candidates if you want to see a more progressive congress.

SG has it. And I'm not sure that the rising chorus of left anger at Obama is going to convince other voters to vote in a more reasonable way. You can reason with them, manipulate them, but screaming Obama is not liberal enough accomplishes nothing, except to make them believe that Obama and his socialist army are coming after their guns. Which is really funny, in a way, given that Obama has been far less pro gun control than I want him to be.

And I don't really understand how a veto-proof Congressional vote on this matter justifies the Obama hate, anyway.
posted by angrycat at 4:16 PM on March 1, 2010


“I'm not happy either, but I'm also in favor of placing blame in the proper place.”

Yeah, I agree generally. And I’ve defended Obama on some things on that principle.
This? Not so much.
He’s not doing what he said he would do (he might have meant it, might still be trying and can’t. But ‘can’t’ is for people looking for excuses)
Ahhh, I understand the realities. But I was hoping there would be more fractiousness and in-fighting, not just among the Dems, but among the GOP (which, they’re suffering and yet, continuing to successfully influence things – weird), which would have let things like this die or at least be contested acrimoniously enough that people could smell it in the wind one way or the other. Got a bit tired of thinking better of people and expecting changes. Who knew it didn’t matter either way? Live and learn.

As it is, I’m looking for a word stronger than ‘motherfucker.’

“You see, that's what happens with parties -- people get lumped together under the umbrella that defines the group. Don't like it? Well, either work hard and visibly to change the definition or form a new group.”

Just like the Dems and liberals who voted for this. Oh, wait, they’re not ‘true’ liberals or Democrats. Were there people getting 3rd parties back? I didn’t see too big a showing. Gosh, maybe I don’t believe in the principles of freedom because I’m not a ‘progressive.’ Anything I should be calling myself so folks don’t ignore the fact I’m on their side on most things? Last time I checked I don’t have a yacht in the marina.

“It could mean a justice system that is weighted to favor protecting the community rather than the individual.”

Yeah. Work makes you free. We don’t apply the innocent until proven guilty philosophy in other areas like taxation because money is negotiable, justice should not be.

The hell with Singapore, Fox news and the tiny dick security obsessed fearmongering bastards wasting money on a policy that's counterproductive in the first place (no one is more useless than someone who thinks they're actually working at something).
None of those people are ever going to listen to anything but their own close circle self-interest. They don’t give a damn about the next quarter much less what THIS country is going to look like 20, or even 10 years from now.
I'm not saying it's got to change overnight - but where's the foundation for it?
Conyers can say anything. He can say the Obama Admin and the Dems can and will fly a helicopter. Unless they're starting it up, gassing it up, or even generally headed to the airport, not a lot of basis for proof there.

“You can't claim Obama's signing as capitulation when his own party voted 2:1 in favor. It's one thing to take on 95% of the Republicans single-handedly, it's a completely different story to take on 67% of the Democrats at the same time.”

Yeah. I was kinda hoping regular citizens would be more united than our current representatives. Unless we stop kicking each other in the nuts over labels, we’re probably not going to get anywhere. Think there are folks who maybe had profited from divisiveness due to racism and other such things who aren’t playing the same games now? Me neither.
To be fair I think Obama is genuinely trying not to be an authoritarian president and is attempting to understand and reason with everyone.

Only problem with that is, he’s failing.
Nice idea. And I think it can be done. Not working for him though. Sometimes you have to (metaphorically) smash people’s heads together to make them of one mind. Doesn’t make you all that popular. But you have to be willing to take the hit and be reviled as a bastard. Presidents have done it. Lincoln did it. And he’s considered one of the greatest presidents in history.
…’course, at the time, they shot him.

Actually, I like Obama’s stance on firearms. I’m pretty pro-gun. I’d probably shoot someone trying to shoot any president. Not after the fact, I like trials. Stuff shakes out. (Of course, maybe the government might decide the community doesn’t need to hear that sort of thing and they will ‘protect’ them.)
I get the disappointment with Obama. And I think it’s justified. And I think it’s more justified to lay blame at his feet on this particular thing than at each other.
His heart might be in the right place and any number of things, but his head is at least part of the Dem strategy. I know it’s politics. And I’m not looking for a Judas goat. But typically it’s outsiders that make the big changes. And he’s been embracing more insiders.
Some progress made on some fronts, yes. But I wouldn’t kvetch if it looked like the ball was rolling anywhere except further into the same territory here. Albeit perhaps more slowly.

Y'know, it's even worse because I know he's got aces up his sleeve and, while I still hope he plays some (losing optimism there), I was counting more on the GOP and the Dems having bad hands and folding. I wasn't thinking the game would just go on and on with 'check' and re'check', but there it is. Looks like no one's raising or even calling.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:37 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I was hoping there would be more fractiousness and in-fighting, not just among the Dems, but among the GOP (which, they’re suffering and yet, continuing to successfully influence things – weird), which would have let things like this die or at least be contested acrimoniously enough that people could smell it in the wind one way or the other. Got a bit tired of thinking better of people and expecting changes. Who knew it didn’t matter either way? Live and learn.

I'm still not seeing how this shifts the blame away from Congress, though. You were hoping for infighting amid the GOP, and more cohesion among the Democrats -- well, where we're seeing that fail to happen is, you guessed it, in Congress.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:53 AM on March 2, 2010


But you and I are not the final say in this Democracy.

Like it or not, plenty of other people did vote for those 67% of Democrats you despise. A lot of people even voted for far right candidates.


I don't even know what you're talking about. I never claimed to despise anybody. I vote Democrat. The people for whom I voted who didn't make it into Congress are Democrats. All I was saying was that more than half the country voted for a guy because he promised to fix some of the problems of this country. Sure, he never claimed it would be easy. And I didn't think he'd be able to fix every problem this country has. But it doesn't seem like he's even trying.
posted by nushustu at 11:47 AM on March 2, 2010


You'll have to convince those other voters to support more progressive candidates if you want to see a more progressive congress.

And that's where I tune out. Because THAT'S WHAT WE DID. We convinced people to support a presidential candidate and congressional candidates who were more progressive. We got a Dem in the White House and 60(ish) Dems in the Senate. These were supposed to be the people who did more progressive things. But instead, it's more of the same old shit. And that is one of the biggest tragedies of this whole debacle. Because if you thought people were apathetic about politics before, boy oh boy, just wait to see what the Dems piss-poor performance does for the Left's psyche.
posted by nushustu at 11:51 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


And that's where I tune out. Because THAT'S WHAT WE DID. We convinced people to support a presidential candidate and congressional candidates who were more progressive. We got a Dem in the White House and 60(ish) Dems in the Senate. These were supposed to be the people who did more progressive things. But instead, it's more of the same old shit.

Ah, but voting people in is only part of the job.

Staying in touch with the people we elect is the REST of it. Writing them to express what our opinions are so they can speak for us. Complaining and riding their ass when they don't. Voting them out if they still don't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:01 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still not seeing how this shifts the blame away from Congress, though”
Well, it doesn’t. I can blame congress and the executive branch.
And I was hoping for more infighting among the GOP AND the Dems. And more cohesion among the grass roots. I thought the Obama network wouldn’t just collapse like a wet noodle. Takes two to pull a rope taut, sure. People should have stayed in touch, kept networking. They didn’t so much. But he’s the president. Wouldn’t have been that hard to maintain that power base. Especially the way it was.
Didn’t happen.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:42 PM on March 3, 2010


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