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Congress Makes Deal To Renew Patriot Act For 4 Years 350

airfoobar writes "A four-year extension to the highly controversial Patriot Act is set to be rushed through in the coming week." Techdirt has its usual trenchant critique. I hope it's not unpatriotic to raise doubts about "one of the critical tools the intelligence community has to keep America safe."
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Congress Makes Deal To Renew Patriot Act For 4 Years

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  • Four More Years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:45PM (#36185732) Homepage

    Of Tyranny.

    • Re:Four More Years (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ironchew ( 1069966 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:47PM (#36185762)

      At least we can count on both the Republicans and Democrats to stop their partisan bickering for a moment, and reach across the isle in solidarity to screw the American public over.

      • Will this really pass in the senate? I'm hoping it wont.

        • Of course it will. The President has all the necessary evidence.... er votes to make sure the Senate goes along quietly.

          • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:20PM (#36186100)

            Apparently you haven't heard about the Hope and Change he's going to bring us.

            • by Squiddie ( 1942230 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:10PM (#36186574)
              He's altered the deal. Hope he does not alter it any further.
            • Why would you care if old 'Hope and Change' does anything about revoking the patriot act? it's not like the alphabet soup agencies are going to stop spying on people and wiretapping without warrants if they don't have a law to back their actions. There needs to be some legislation that gives teeth to laws that protect our constitutional rights from federal actors. Bush jr. has admitted to the illegal federal wiretapping program, and I have yet to see a single person go to jail. If some federal agents see ja
              • by cavreader ( 1903280 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @10:06PM (#36187436)
                Do you know that right before the US got into WW2 FDR unilaterally instituted wire tapping across the country. At the time both political parties had just passed a law to specifically prevent wire tapping and they also passed the neutrality act at the same time. FDR was able to barely skirt around the neutrality act with the lend lease program even though it was obvious to everyone exactly what he was doing. For the wire tapping he did not even try to cover it up. He wrote a letter to the Justice Department basically directing them to use wire tapping, Congress be damned. He performed these acts because he personally believed the US was going to have to fight in the war and as President it was his responsibility to make sure the country was prepared. The political parties and ideology of that era were dead set against getting involved in the war. The anti-war protesters back then makes today's anti-war protesters look like full blown war mongers. FDR made these decisions even though he knew it was a impeachable offense. The animosity he attracted against him make today's Bush 2 detractors and critics look like hearty supporters. Chances are if the US had not gotten in the war he would have been impeached and certainly would not have been be elected to 4 terms. The bottom line is that the outcome of the war validated his actions and turned him from being called a dangerous law breaking no good President who was violating the constitution into being called one the best Presidents of all time. The amazing thing, at least to me, was that Carter, Bush1, and Clinton were asked if they would have would have made the same decisions and accepted the same risks that FDR made and all of them said they would. Even Carter!! I guess the point is that the constitution should be adhered to but it is not a suicide pact and some situations call for bold actions and today's complaints about us losing our rights is not anything new.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              He did bring Hope and Change. He brought the hope that things would change. That's close enough, right?

            • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

              Of course if you resolve what was hoped for hope no longer exists hence to retain hope you can never provide what was hoped for. As for change, well, there has been a colour change ('er',from red to blue) and, there has been an intellectual change (from puppet dope to smart ass). You just really need to look at 'hope and change' from the viewpoint of a marketing agency lawyer.

              As long as the US public are going to act like a bunch of rabbits at night staring down the highway at the bright shiny promise of

        • I'm very liberal and always end up voting democratic using the "Who seems like the lesser of two evils," standard. So you could say I'm usually more optimistic than many about the democratic senate.

          I have no hope that the senate will block it.

          I don't know if this is optimism or pessimism, but I suspect a few democrat senators will vote against it. Not enough to raise the issue with the apathetic public mind you, let alone block it's passage. Just enough to give their opponents ammo to say "Democr
          • Re:Four More Years (Score:5, Interesting)

            by petsounds ( 593538 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:48PM (#36186890)

            There's nothing wrong with optimism. Our country was founded on it (along with slavery and the genocide of natives). But you are placing your optimism in a failed party system, instead of individuals. The Democrats and Republicans have both had their chances to turn a new leaf and do the people's will, but their entrenched interests are set in a self-winding clockwork of greed, power, and obligation. When they act in the banner of "national interests", it is the interests of their campaign funders, partisan base, lobbyists, and future employers in which they act, not the interests of people at large who they supposedly represent.

            Obama was a last chance for the Democrats. I think most of us not under the influence of corn syrup and reality shows wanted to believe that Obama was somehow an internal revolution in the Democratic party; someone to whom only the people he was accountable to. But then we saw the bank bailouts, the tacit approval of Bush/Cheney crimes, the defense of wiretapping and assassinations of US citizens, the abandonment of a promise to close Guantanamo, the frail response to the "Arab Spring" revolutions, and in those revolutions we saw ourselves. Except that we don't seem to yet have the unified anger against the systemic violations of liberties to rise up in any meaningful way. Not when people like yourself are still clinging to the ghost of Kennedy.

            The only way we can move forward as a country, and avoid a kind of Romanic crumbling of our nation, is organizing around a third party. A third party that represents and addresses the people, not corporations. This is only possible if we leave behind the ridiculous social bickerings of abortion and religious contentions and unite as a wide swath of Americans against the entities and individuals controlling America. But maybe I'm just a dreamer.

          • by ClioCJS ( 264898 )
            If your votes aren't keeping the country from going down the tube, are they really helping? If I put a 2-inch band-aid on a 6-inch gash, I'm slowing down the bleeding, but does it really make a difference? I'm not trying to start an argument, just trying to make people think.
      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        They must have finally found the Sword of Bipartisanship? [theonion.com]

    • ... same as the old boss. And don't expect the Democrat Senate to vote it down or Obama to veto it, just because they're not Bush Republicans.

      • Re:Meet the New Boss (Score:5, Interesting)

        by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:32PM (#36186216)
        He's not exactly the new boss. It's been years.

        Anyway, how many voters outside the slashdot crowd are even aware the patriot act is still with us let alone oppose it? That doesn't excuse Obama or any of the Democrats, but it's never going to go away until more people start caring about it. Rather than bring up that saying year in year out, why not, oh, I don't know, do something to raise awareness about it?

        I mean, I guess that doesn't get you slashdot karma...
  • When? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:47PM (#36185760)
    So when do we get to question the necessity of this thing? The war in Iraq has been over for awhile (more or less, in theory, not that that had anything to do with the origins of the Patriot Act anyways) and now Osama bin Laden is dead. I realize that the government would like to keep it in effect forever just because of the power it grants them, but shouldn't they at least have to come up with some kind of new excuse by now?
    • Re:When? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:52PM (#36185806)

      It going to get extended forever.... Like Syrian "state of emergency", which was in place for over 20 years.OR Egypt, when it was active since 1967 - 44 years!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_emergency#Egypt [wikipedia.org]

      So yes, "Patriot Act", 10 years and counting!!

      • Re:When? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:02PM (#36185924)

        Better, the National Security Act of 1947.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Act_of_1947 [wikipedia.org] - that established the CIA and started giving legalized spying huge budgets.

      • Re:When? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by scotts13 ( 1371443 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:18PM (#36186084)

        It going to get extended forever.... Like Syrian "state of emergency", which was in place for over 20 years.

        Here in Pennsylvania, we still pay a special tax enacted to pay for repairs following the Johnstown flood in 1889. Once they get hold of power OR money, they never let go. Ever.

        • Re:When? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Bemopolis ( 698691 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:35PM (#36186244)
          And now you know why those of us who opposed the PATRIOT act when it was initially proposed opposed it. And were called terrorist sympathizers by FOX News and the like on top of it.

          Nothing dies slower than a bad idea.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ArsonSmith ( 13997 )

            And why everyone should appose progressive ideals no matter what party they come from.

            • Re:When? (Score:4, Informative)

              by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @09:55PM (#36187370)

              Considering domestic spying has been mostly directed at leftist dissidents (Martin Luther King Jr, War Protesters, 'Communist sympathizers' etc...) I find it odd that you would be considered a progressive cause. Doubly questionable since most of the people *fighting* the Patriot Act in the first place were leftist progressives.

      • Re:When? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:03PM (#36186528)

        It going to get extended forever.... Like Syrian "state of emergency", which was in place for over 20 years.OR Egypt, when it was active since 1967 - 44 years!

        scroll harder [wikipedia.org]

        "During the Watergate scandal which erupted in the 1970s after President Richard Nixon authorized a variety of illegal acts, Congress investigated the extent of the President's powers and belatedly realized that the U.S. had been in a continuous state of emergency since 1950."

      • by kbahey ( 102895 )

        We Egyptians just had our revolution and ending the state of the emergency was a key demand. It has not been met yet, but we know where Tahrir Square is, and will go there if it is not ended by election time.

        Will you Americans do the same for the Patriot Act (and many other civil rights detours since 2001?)

    • I realize that the government would like to keep it in effect forever just because of the power it grants them, but shouldn't they at least have to come up with some kind of new excuse by now?

      Has the Federal Government ever backed away from more power, at least since the Jackson administration? There's not much you can do at the Federal level except watch it crumble under its own weight, but come join us in New Hampshire where we're fixing government from the bottom up. These folks will help you get here:

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:48PM (#36185778)
    "Whenever a controversial law is proposed, and its supporters, when confronted with an egregious abuse it would permit, use a phrase along the lines of 'Perhaps in theory, but the law would never be applied in that way' - they're *lying*. They intend to use the law that way as early and as often as possible."

    - http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=169254&cid=14107454 [slashdot.org]

    • "Whenever a controversial law is proposed, and its supporters, when confronted with an egregious abuse it would permit, use a phrase along the lines of 'Perhaps in theory, but the law would never be applied in that way' - they're *lying*. They intend to use the law that way as early and as often as possible."

      The answer is simple - amend the law to fix the parts that need fixing. It's done all the time. Good grief.

      Senate passes Patriot Act changes [usatoday.com]
      Posted 3/1/2006 11:11 AM Updated 3/1/2006 9:48 PM
      By John Diamond, USA TODAY
      WASHINGTON — The Senate added civil liberties protections to the USA Patriot Act on Wednesday, clearing the way for renewal of the anti-terrorism law passed shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
      The 95-4 vote ended months of bipartisan debate centering on privacy rights. Subse

  • by rogueippacket ( 1977626 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:49PM (#36185780)
    It's only unpatriotic if you don't stand up while your country slowly degrades.
  • Obligatory stat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @06:57PM (#36185848) Homepage Journal
    SUVs kill many more Americans every year than died in the September 11 attacks. And yet we are willing to sacrifice our freedoms to ostensibly prevent terror but are not willing or wanting to do anything to prevent those monstrosities from killing a massive number of innocent people every year.
    • Re:Obligatory stat (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:03PM (#36185934)

      Or swimming pools.

      In 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging ten deaths per day. An additional 496 people died, from drowning and other causes, in boating-related incidents.

      http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html [cdc.gov]

      • 3,443 in one year is quite a bit different than nearly that number in just a couple of hours.

        • Re:Obligatory stat (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bug1 ( 96678 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:57PM (#36186466)

          If all that years drowning victims died in just a couple of hours, would swimming pools be more dangerous ?

          • I imagine theyd make a rather bigger deal about it on the news, which is more relevant to the discussion than "how dangerous" something is.

            Perception plays a big role in all of this.

        • Not really.
          Sure 9/11 had vastly more deaths per hour, except over only couple hours in the year instead of 8760 hours.

        • Re:Obligatory stat (Score:5, Insightful)

          by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @09:14PM (#36187098) Homepage
          Just shows you why you shouldn't trust statistics. 3443 is in exactly the same ballpark as the number of people who died on 9/11 (which I believe was your point). How many other people died in the U.S. in 2001 of terrorism? You might include the Anthrax victims, but that was just a handful of people (I don't have the exact number, and I'm honestly too lazy to look it up), but that number is trivial compared to the 9/11 death toll, so for all intents and purposes, we can call the number of people that died in 2001 of terrorism in the U.S. to be roughly 4,000.

          So, if you want to consider a yearly sample, that's 3443 deaths in swimming pools to 4000 deaths due to terrorism...pretty much equal...makes me think that maybe we should pay roughly the same amount of attention to deaths in swimming pools as we do to terrorism.

          But you argue that the death toll on 9/11 happened in a few hours. Okay, that's true. So somewhere on the order of 1,000 deaths per hour, then? Yes, many died in the initial four plane crashes, but the WTC didn't fall for a while longer -- call it four hours from the first impact (again, I don't remember the exact number, and I'm too lazy to look it up right now, but this is close enough to make my point). In swimming pools, that's (3443 deaths / year) * (1 year / 365 days) * (1 day / 24 hours) = 0.39 deaths per hour. Whoa! That means that terrorism is roughly 2500 times more common than deaths in swimming pools!!! Obviously, we need to spend much more time combating terror than we do combating deaths in swimming pools!

          But wait...we can look at it another way, too. Since 9/11, we've had the Ft. Hood shootings and a several other attempts, but the numbers are essentially unchanged since 9/11; there have been no other terrorist attacks in the United States that caused even one order of magnitude less deaths than 9/11. By that metric, then, it's roughly 4000 deaths due to terrorism in the U.S. in TEN YEARS, meanwhile, roughly 3000 people per year are dieing in swimming pools. That means you are approximately nine times more likely to die in a swimming pool than in a terrorist act in the U.S., and by that standard, GPP is correct: when compared to any other mundane risk we accept without thinking about it, the time, effort, money and liberty that we are throwing away fighting terrorism is absolutely absurd .
    • Like the federal funding for those businesses considered "too big to fail" , it's not about HOW you SCREWUP but the SCALE that matters.

      Killing scattered individuals by the many tens of thousands (annually) is insignificant compared to the ~3000 killed in the (single incident) 9/11 attack.

      Seriously folks, if you cant to talk about "the bazillions killed annually" why not badger the government to do something about the destruction of society caused by smokers/cigarettes/tobacco.

      History shows clearly that s
    • But SUVs are patriotic. Anyone objecting to them must not be patriotic. Say... you're not objecting to SUVs are you?

    • Maybe if it was all in the same symbolic event, planned and perpetrated by Land Rover.

      Though the US Government's response would be to shut down Toyota.

  • Looks like for this and the tax breaks for billionaires our Congress is going to pretend it isn't permanent, but still make it last forever with endless extensions.

    Kinda like copyrights too, I suppose. I was just referred to a site that had the individual tracks of "Gimme Shelter" so you could hear the details of what was going on, but this recording from 42 years ago had been pulled down because of the copyrights.

  • P.A.T.R.I.O.T. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.

    It's an initialism, not a word. "Patriot" has nothing to do with the Act.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:03PM (#36185926)

    "We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate." -- Jefferson

    "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first." -- Jefferson

  • by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:09PM (#36185990) Homepage Journal
    Apparently Questioning the (claimed) continuing necessity of The Patriot Act has been declared UnPatriotic.

  • Not that it really matters any more. I doubt even the supreme court bothers to read the constitution or declaration of independence anymore.

    People have undeniable human rights/liberties. And it doesn't matter if you are a citizen or not most of the time. If you are here legally or not.

    The fourth amendment is very simple. It provides simple oversight, a paper trail and accountability. What is so difficult with getting rubber stamps? A judge in this manor represents little better than a notary.

    • "People have undeniable human rights/liberties."

      Says who, exactly? No one with any real enforcement power seems to agree.

    • by digsbo ( 1292334 )

      I recently got into a heated debate with someone who claimed to be a supporter of the democratic process. Then I started asking him why, and he indicated something along the lines of "it's legitimate because it's self rule". So I continued and asked if it was self rule when military action was taken and I didn't want it to be, or the RIAA took some action to get a law passed he didn't agree with, and so on. And eventually he admitted that he liked democracy when it worked, but when it didn't, he'd want t

      • But this isn't democracy. Look it up. Who was asked to vote whether the troops went into Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan? This is Elective Oligarchy.
  • by superdave80 ( 1226592 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:13PM (#36186038)

    We need to get more Democrats into office this next election to get rid of the Republican majority in the Senate so these evil bills won't get passed!

  • How can we get rid of every politician who votes for this?

  • Of course is is unpatriotic to question any security measures that a government feels it needs to do in a time of economic, political, and military crisis. Trains with people in them? Don't know what you're talking about... but I am sure the government has the best interest in our pure and noble society at heart... don't question, don't think - merely recognize if a government needs to violate your civil liberties to make you safe, it is done in your best interest.

    DISCLAIMER: The above was sarcasm. I am

  • Veto (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animal Farm Pig ( 1600047 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:23PM (#36186134)
    Any chance Obama is going to veto this? He's Mr. Change-You-Can-Believe-In, right? Waiting on the change...
  • by hackus ( 159037 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:36PM (#36186248) Homepage

    Nobody is really surprised right?

    All told, there is now about 2-3 Trillion in revenue going to a huge bureaucracy now that is supposedly protecting us from Mr. Goldstein. If any of you actually think that this will be peacefully dismantled, I you are living in a dream world.

    Folks it is time to face the unpleasant facts, this government is not going to stop there, it will continue. If any of you out there are angry, I would advise you to be very very careful about what you say and do moving forward because we are way past the point of making any sort of changes using the voting box.

    Meanwhile we will have endure:

    1) Endless wars...Pakistan is now up to bat.
    2) 1/3rd of the human population in the US on food stamps. At the rate it is increasing, half of all Americans will be on public assistance in just 4-5 years.
    3) Rampant destruction of our currency by foreign interests.
    4) Our cities crumbling, once shining jewels of industry and innovation and opportunity for the future of children, now destroyed by this government and its policies to the fascist corporate state. Our youth will know no security, will own no home and will have no food let alone a career.
    5) Congress is plotting with the centralized agricultural fascists to make it illegal to grow food. This government has blown up levies and damns and has siphoned away millions to destroy private farmland to protect commercial real estate for the bankers. Meanwhile food prices have hit record all time highs in wheat, corn and more Americans everyday can't feed themselves.

    The Europeans get it. The Icelander's got it. Americans unfortunately don't get it yet. I am left wondering when they will?

    Maybe when half of the population is on food stamps, will that be what it takes?
    Watch your kids die with rationed health care?
    Maybe it is the 27 trillion in currency maniuplation illegally transferring the wealth of the country to the Black Nobility in Germany, Great Britain?
    Maybe it will be the fact the brightest spotlight this year in jobs was McDonalds hiring 50,000 workers?
    Or maybe watching our wife and kid be sexually molested in public by the TSA?

    Or maybe, just maybe....it will be when the government declares everyone in the USA a terrorist if you disagree with these outcomes?


    • by hsjserver ( 1826682 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:14PM (#36186600)
      1. Pakistan is not, nor never will be up to bat. They have nukes, and that's a good deterant. The military there knows they need us as we need them. Our combat in Afghanistan and Iraq will end, though we'll probably have an influence there for quite some time (as we should, we broke it, we should fix it) 2. The increased use in food stamps is due to continued economic stagnation of the middle and lower class. The recession will end, the numbers will go down. Food stamps are useful for creating economic growth. For every $1 of food stamps creates ~$1.40 in economic growth while the economy is slouched. 3. What? No. China is manipulating their currency to keep exporters in their country happy, which is why they have out of control inflation. We need our dollar to lose some value in order to increase exports here, and restore jobs (the lack of which is the main reason for economic troubles here, not debt). 4. Our cities are crumbling, that's why we need a renewed investment in infrastructure. It creates jobs and has a stimulating effect on local economies. It will cost us, but it will cost us more if we don't. 5. I don't take anyone who can say "Congress is plotting with the centralized agricultural fascists to make it illegal to grow food." seriously. I would love to see some evidence of this, because there is none. As for blowing up levies? Which is harder to replace and costs more money? Farmland, or cities? It was a tough choice, but the answer is clearly cities. Commodity prices always go up, that's the cost of countries like China and India entering the first world, and freak weather damaging crop output in the Ukraine. Also, rationed health care? What? I didn't realize it was a scarce good, and for many Americans rationing would be an improvement, as they have zero health care now. You're a fucking clown pal.
      • For every $1 of food stamps creates ~$1.40 in economic growth while the economy is slouched

        You really need to back that statement up with hard data.

    • Rampant destruction of our currency by foreign interests.

      I realize the surname is unusual, but Bernanke is not foreign.

    • Watch your kids die with rationed health care?

      Nothing says "crackpot" like a paranoid fear of healthcare reform.

    • Endless wars...Pakistan is now up to bat.

      I wasnt aware that "sanctions" and "tying aid to their anti-terrorism efforts" could be equated with "war".

      1/3rd of the human population in the US on food stamps. At the rate it is increasing, half of all Americans will be on public assistance in just 4-5 years.

      Less than 15% of Americans are below the (by world standards, quite lavish) poverty level [wikipedia.org]. We arent at some all-time high here-- in fact, we're a full 10% lower today than we were 50 years ago. And if you keep increasing benefits for the poor (which I would note are at an all time high), I fail to see why more people would not avail themselves of handouts.

      Our cities crumbling, once shining jewels of industry and innovation and opportunity for the future of children, now destroyed by this government and its policies to the fascist corporate state. Our youth will know no security, will own no home and will have no food let alone a career.

      Could you possibly use more hyperbole? Have

    • 2) 1/3rd of the human population in the US on food stamps.

      Huh? Do you have a source for this? The population of the US is about 309 million. WP's article on food stamps says there were about 43 million people on food stamps in the US as of November. That makes 14%, which is quite a bit less than 1/3.

  • ...that all of these complaints about the Patriot Act having no meaningful review in committee or otherwise before it was passed and ditto with the current extension didn't happen when Obamacare was passed with an admittedly unreviewed 2000+ pages of legislation.

    "I love these members, they get up and say, 'Read the bill!' What good is reading the bill if it's a thousand pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?" -- John Conyers (D-MI)

  • patriotic acts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epine ( 68316 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:44PM (#36186330)

    In the unsurpassed words of Hermann Goering as cribbed from http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/ [liberty-tree.ca]

    "Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

    That quote alone was worth winning the war, for which America was justifiably proud. Gosh it's hard to remember that far back.

    All my life I struggled to identify myself on the liberal/conservative axis. It wasn't until I read Tibshirani and Hastings on PCA that I figured it out. The choice of principal component is often rather arbitrary when you have a cluster of aligned traits. In other words, the axis of ideology can be projected in many different ways, most of which are valid to the same approximate degree. When you subtract out whichever one you pick first, you've grabbed most of the explanatory power of the entire bundle.

    One meme about conservatism is that it is more threat sensitive. I don't agree with that. Conservatism is more sensitive to threats from without. Liberals are more concerned from threats from within. In one case, you want to defeat the Nazis; in the other case your wish your own society not to become the Nazis by succumbing to the same Patriotic tendencies.

    • by epine ( 68316 )

      s/Hastings/Hastie from my previous post. Hastings is one of my in-laws, when I was trying to comment on out-laws.

      My hands were a bit preoccupied by Tibshirani having the syllable "shi" same as Satoshi which nearly tripped me up yesterday, because my brain is determined to spell Satochi.

      Why does "shi" is Tibshirani look right, when "shi" in Satoshi looks like a complete put-on I pondered as my hands mangled Hastie's name.

    • Re:patriotic acts (Score:4, Insightful)

      by shadowofwind ( 1209890 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @10:58PM (#36187752)

      The choice of principal component is often rather arbitrary when you have a cluster of aligned traits.

      That makes sense. Though it seems that for the traits to be aligned, they must be different facets of the same trait.

      Conservatism is more sensitive to threats from without. Liberals are more concerned from threats from within.

      Granted that the sensitivity to 'threats' is directed differently in Liberals and Conservatives, the within/without division doesn't seem to me to stand up very well. For example, conservatives are obsessed with the cultural rot that they call liberalism. That's a threat from within. They're also at least as afraid of expanded government power as liberals are, but they're concerned about it in different areas.

        It seems to me that the whole liberal vs conservatism ideological split is not much more than a costume for a power struggle. Conservatives don't worry about government power when they see it acting in their own interests relative to those of other groups. Likewise for Liberals. Yes there are cultural an psychological differences, but these don't seem adequate to explain the actions or rhetoric of liberals and conservatives. Bush was hated by liberals, but most are merely disappointed in Obama for advancing the same policies. Likewise people like Bill Clinton, Obama, and Janet Reno have been hated by conservatives for things that they have only mildly criticized in people like Gringrich, Bush, and Rumsfeld.

  • by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @07:56PM (#36186454)

    Don't get me wrong, I'm with most of /. on here but you have to understand that it's not really all that controversial in the context of the vast majority of American voters -- i.e. in the context that ultimately counts. We tend to surround ourselves with people that are ideologically similar to ourselves (not a bad thing) but when we then mistake our particular choice for the populace at large we get a myopic view of the whole political spectrum (bad).

    This isn't a partisan complaint. I used to live in rural Idaho and was shocked to be confronted by some (not all) residents there didn't realize how far to the left of them much of the rest of the country was. Similarly in Boston I am continually shocked not by the lefty politics but by the complete lack of perspective that some (not all) on the far left have regarding how far out of the mainstream they are.

    I wouldn't for the world give up having a country with widely diverse viewpoints, which I think are essential to a healthy democracy -- I'm not out to make us all fickle and bland. Rather, I just want people to get a realistic handle on where there views on a particular topic fall relative to the other electorate. This is descriptive/empirical matter, not a normative/evaluative one -- it doesn't make you wrong to be to the left or right of 70% of the country on some topic but it is foolish not to be aware of where you stand.

    See, http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1893/poll-patriot-act-renewal [pewresearch.org] for details on where Americans actually stand. Of course, I would still like to see it defeated, but I'm skeptical that will happen given the poll numbers -- after all, it is a representative government (modulo some unconstitutional elements enjoined by the courts) and even if the votes aren't directly related to poll numbers, there is strong coupling.

    • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:02PM (#36186524) Journal

      if you explained to the average person that part of the reason they are patting down babies at the TSA is because of the patriot act, they will begin to understand it.

      if parts of the PATRIOT act applied to gun owners, they would be outraged.

      parts of the PATRIOT act apply to librarians, they have been outraged.

      everyone, in general, in america, supports their own civil liberties, and when they understand that civil liberties in general are under attack, they can come together once in a blue moon.

  • Read it. The great majority of the PATRIOT ACT is common sense - things our law enforcement has done for decades (without issue) when pursuing drug lords. Many of the overreaching pieces were taken out long ago. The sensationalism of the tinfoilers around here never ceases to amaze me.
    • by decora ( 1710862 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:04PM (#36186540) Journal

      because thats what the PATRIOT ACT modification of the Computer Fraud and Abuse act says.

      It is saying, essentially, that if you break certain parts of the Computer Fraud act, you are a terrorist. Not only are you a terrorist, but you can be prosecuted under RICO law, like a mafia member.

      oh, and then there are the hundreds of thousands of national security letters sent by the FBI to libraries and ISPs. is that 'common sense'? how many terrorists have they caught that way?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Common sense" would be not having to pursue drug lords in the first place because if you didn't have radical and unpopular prohibition of drugs YOU WOULDN'T HAVE DRUG LORDS IN THE FIRST PLACE. (or the associated violence, the creation of most stronger and more dangerous drugs, the erosion of civil liberties, expansion of the police state, having to show ID and be entered in a database to buy cold medicine, the huge population of nonviolent convicts, etc.) That these things are used as justification for a

  • Relax everyone! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by feepness ( 543479 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:42PM (#36186828) Homepage
    They'll repeal it the second we get Osama.
  • ...unfortunately. It's good politics. Our country has shifted towards authoritarianism. Cops have increased powers to violate your rights and get away with it if they, say, accidentally kill you or your dog. Corporations also have the same power to violate or by force of lobbying, repeal regulations. We've all surrendered personal freedoms for the sake of security.

    This slide isn't going to stop because Congress decides to stand up for individual rights. The change will start when people start demanding our rights back. Believe it or not, politicians do respond to pressure from the voters because they don't want to give up the limos and sycophantic admiration.

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Friday May 20, 2011 @07:28AM (#36189956)
    the intelligence community has to keep America safe from the Rule of Law and Privacy."
  • by spinkham ( 56603 ) on Friday May 20, 2011 @09:35AM (#36191004)

    Unless you've already written, called, and emailed your congressperson, stop bitching here.

    I've told mine in no uncertain terms that if they support this extension, I will not only not vote for them in the next election but will do everything I can to convince others to do likewise.

    Here's the letter I sent:

    Senator ___,

    It seems obvious that the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights is the basis for our great society and for inspiring other societies to be great.

    In my opinion, The PATRIOT act has been the single worst piece of legislation in curtailing both the spirit and letter of those rights, and where it has been able to be challenged in court, the court agrees with me. Most provisions have not been able to be challenged in this way not due to their legality, but due to the secrecy that they are implemented under.

    If liberty and justice are the founding principles of this country and the guiding principles of the Constitution and the 4th amendment, it is quite difficult to support a representative who would seek to extend this legislation.

    For this reason, I believe the ending of the PATRIOT act is the most pressing issue we have, and if you act to extend the act without massive overhaul, not only will you not receive my vote come next election, I will do everything in my power to convince others to vote against you also.

    Steve Pinkham

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