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Congress Expands FBI Powers 954

Dave writes "Well, since the Patriot Act II never got off the ground, looks like Congress has done the Justice Department a favor, according to Wired News, and added in some of the most controversial provisions into a non-descript intelligence spending bill. Now the FBI can subpoena information about you from practically any business or organization - without approval or permission from a judge, and with a gag order on the targeted organization. These spending bills are generally considered confidential and usually are not subject to public debate, so despite the far-reaching implications of these new powers, it's not being publicized like the Patriot Act was. Time to get out my patriotic hat and pin before it's too late."
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Congress Expands FBI Powers

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  • More? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Luigi30 ( 656867 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:45PM (#7550489)
    So... now we have even less freedom? I'm starting to think about moving to some country where we can't be persecuted like this! Like... Russia maybe?
  • Wow, what a shock (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:48PM (#7550528)
    At least this is happening under a Republican administration, so all the lefties will raise a stink about it.

    A Democrat would happily do the same thing, you just wouldn't hear about it - the right would shut up because they support it, and the left wouldn't want to speak out against "their guy".
  • Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Evil Adrian ( 253301 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:48PM (#7550530) Homepage
    Invading the privacy of innocent people to get at the guilty... I love it. You know, if the law of averages worked out in its favor, like if 99% of the people they spied on were involved in something, I wouldn't have a problem, but I'd imagine that less than 0.001% of the population is up to no good, and who knows how many they spy on.

    I'll probably disappear now that I posted this, because I'm sort of enemy fucking combatant for disagreeing with the abuse of power...
  • by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:50PM (#7550544) Homepage
    Only 1 more year, then Shrub's gone. It should be sooner -- in a saner world, Ashcroft and Bush would have been imprisoned for Treason for some of this stuff, war crimes for some of the rest of it, and impeeched for a the last bit. But hey, we don't live in a sane world right now, we live in Neo-con-bizzarro world.

    Even after Shrub is thrown out on his ear, the little power trip Ashcroft and his cronies are on will either 1. be ignored and abused by the other side or 2. be reigned back into control, or outright removed.

    Personally, my gut says it'll be #1 -- there's no way the democrats will try to push it when the republicans can use it as a campaign platform.

    Guess what they say about a slippery slope is true.
  • by setzman ( 541053 ) <[stzman] [at] [s ...> on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:50PM (#7550551) Journal
    I think the only thing that can stop this shit is a popular revolution. Look at Georgia. The government was corrupt, the people rose up and toppled it. From what I've heard it was nonviolent as well. It will take similiar action here for this to be stopped.

    Unfortunatly, if you rise up against the US Government, you are a terrorist, and such a movement would likely be crushed by the military, which is mostly right-wing. A guerilla war against the government and popular uprising would be required.

  • Re:So.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plalonde2 ( 527372 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:50PM (#7550554)
    Canada weather is nice today. But you try living in Austria in 1939.
  • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ActionPlant ( 721843 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:50PM (#7550555) Homepage
    Not available to public debate? Seriously, it's scary. When something that impacts us this greatly, and gives an arm of the government this much authority is put through and passed without us being able to say anything about it, that's WRONG. The people who are in office are there because we put them there to represent our views. When we are going to finally get that concept in our heads and boot these idiots from office?

  • Re:protecting self (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BillFarber ( 641417 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:51PM (#7550566)
    all i have to say is 13 more months of Bush

    I didn't realize that Bush was in Congress.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:51PM (#7550567)
    See, it's getting to a point where writing and bitching might not do any good. And you know, that is exactly why the 2nd Amendment exists, but it's TERRORISM to even suggest that, even though the Founding Fathers founded the country the same way...
  • by lcde ( 575627 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:51PM (#7550570) Homepage
    Write to whoever you want. If you don't have a multi-billion dollar industry behind you don't expect any reply. Maybe you might get a autographed picture of your representative to hand on your wall.

  • by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:51PM (#7550575) Homepage Journal
    and try to enjoy it.
  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd.bandrowsky@gma i l .com> on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:52PM (#7550589) Homepage Journal

    All of this conservative rhetoric about the government as a bunch of jack booted thugs, and now, they go and do exactly what they claim to oppose.

    After three years of total Republican rule, we have the largest and most intrusive government ever. So much for limited government and free enterprise out of the so-called party of limited government and free enterprise.
  • by greechneb ( 574646 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:54PM (#7550614) Journal
    Plain and simple, the voters. How many people truthfully voted in the last election? Probably less than 30% of the registered voters. Yeah, I know it's tough to take that 15 minutes out of your hectic day, but if you don't like who is in there now, it can be changed. Unfortunately at this point, not enough people really give a damn.
  • Re:Sigh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:55PM (#7550631)
    And I thought that the Republicans were against big government.

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:57PM (#7550650)
    Just mentioned this to several of my "older" co-workers...

    One told me I was insane for caring. "This went on in the 1950s and nothing bad happened why should you care now?"

    Another said, "Well, I have lived a bit, traveled, moced about, have and have had friends on both sides of the law, have worked inside and outside of law enforcement, have been the victim of FBI intimidation when fighting racial hate crimes, have a Criminal Justice degree and completed half of law school, and with all that still find myself a free and able individual with nothing to fear from the law. So, no, I don't think you are being realistic."

    When we have people that honestly believe this is for their benefit it will only get worse. It is truly a sad day when people choose to ignore history and believe that flag waving, rights waiving, non-sense that is fed to us daily by a near facist government.

    Just my worthless .02,
  • by vudufixit ( 581911 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:58PM (#7550667)
    I've noticed Presidents usually keep a lot of their predecessors' policies intact. Don't count on any Democratic successor to Bush to make a serious attempt to repeal any of this Patriot Act crap. IIRC, wasn't the "clipper chip" an idea initiated under the Clinton regime? Democrats may be "liberal" but they're just as quick to trade our privacy and freedoms for so-called security if they think it'll score points with voters.
  • American Dream? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by silicongodcom ( 241132 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:02PM (#7550714)
    How long until we need to rotate the American Flag icon 180 degrees?

    (That may sound like a troll if you haven't read the.. what's it called? oh ya.. Constitution)
  • by djeaux ( 620938 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:02PM (#7550721) Homepage Journal
    Soren Kierkegaard wrote:
    "Which is harder, to be executed or to suffer the prolonged agony that consists in being trampled to death by geese?"

    Spot on comment about Joe Sixpack. What will get his attention is when all those NRA-endorse politicians start sneaking in gun control under the guise of "protecting us all from terrorism."

    Just a big fat MHO, but I think those silly yellow-orange-red alerts are just as terrorizing to the American public as some dude hiding in a cave in southeast Afghanistan.

  • by Dovregubbens Hall ( 583591 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:04PM (#7550737)
    Why don't you just learn something from Georgia then? What they did was bus a whole lot of people into the capital, move slowly and without arms towards the parliament, then the presidential residence.

    The key here is that unarmed civilians marching in large numbers are a whole lot more difficult to shoot at than a bunch of loonies with guns.

    But then, it means that americans need to get off their fat asses, which is not going to happen any time soon.

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:04PM (#7550742)
    really? the voters? We get a choice between Moron and his party 1 and the other Moron and his party 2.

    It's like getting a choice between Windows ME and Windows 98SE.
  • by Uma Thurman ( 623807 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:06PM (#7550760) Homepage Journal
    What do you mean passing laws "without consent" from the citizens?

    Over half of the citizens of the US don't vote, so they HAVE COMPLETELY CONSENTED to being fucked in the ass by their politicians.

    So who are we going to blame for this? Let's start with the people who don't vote.
  • by marderj ( 725013 ) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:09PM (#7550807)
    You are wrong. People like Timothy McVeigh are the reason ignorant members of Congress propose ridiculous legislation like this. I'm not saying what they're doing is right, but don't make Timothy McVeigh some kind of hero for having the "balls" to stand up to government. He murdered innocent people. Nothing good came out of what he did. It is just downright disgusting to suggest this is the way to bring about change when we still have the power to do so through democratic elections. I'm also not buying this crap that Congress is trampling all over our rights without our consent. We are the ones that gave them their power. We can take it away. Don't glorify violence. Go out and vote.
  • Unconstitutional. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:10PM (#7550818) Journal
    The congress has just passed a law which violates the fourth amendment. Somebody needs to sue to have it overturned, and quick.

  • Re:More? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyberlync ( 450786 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:10PM (#7550824)
    "When they came for the communists, I was silent, because I was not a communist;
    When they came for the socialists, I was silent, because I was not a socialist;
    When they came for the trade unionists, I did not protest, because I was not a trade unionist;
    When they came for the Jews, I did not protest, because I was not a Jew;
    When they came for me, there was no one left to protest on my behalf."

    Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)
    In reference to the Nazi governments
    policy towards 'dissidents'
  • by mgs1000 ( 583340 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:11PM (#7550836) Journal
    It appears as though armed rebellion is a right enshrined in the constituition.

    Tell that to Lincoln.

  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:12PM (#7550850)
    Not to single you out, but writing to your represenatives is just a first step. Who can stop this kind of crap from ever happening? Only you can, by participating in your democracy. You can and will make a difference; the only problem is, it isn't easy.
    • Did you vote? Did you do your best to become informed about the issues and candidates?
    • Do you know who your representatives are? Do you know what they stand for? Do you know their voting record?
    • Do you give money to organizations that support your beliefs?
    • Do you give money to politicians that support your beliefs?
    • Do you volunteer to support those groups or politicians?
    People will tell you that you can't make a difference, that democracy is for the rich, that the elections are fixed and the candidates are identical, so voting is moot anyway. Those people are trying to control you; to make you so numb and so confounded that you do nothing. Listen to those people, and you are guaranteed to not make a difference.

    "By the people, for the people" means that WE are in charge of running the country, and we as a people have been asleep at the wheel for too long. Democracy works best when the citizens do their best to participate. Conversely, it works poorly when people feel disenfranchised, get an "I hate politics and refuse to pay attention to it" attitude, and watch TV instead.

  • by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:12PM (#7550851) Homepage
    ...Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

    Popular uprising would, indeed, be required - and if we had that, we wouldn't need an actual revolt (our government is somewhat "long established and should not be changed for light and transient causes"). A majority of the population will still be listened to by our elected officials, but the majority is either ignorant, apathetic, or both ("more disposed to suffer"). Things will probably have to get much worse before they get better.
  • by spleenhead ( 633571 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:13PM (#7550860)
    Many times we hear about people going to jail for various crimes even when the authorities misuse their powers. I think most people dont care since the criminal was really doing something illegal.

    The media, however, needs to make a big issue out of the innocent people whose rights are trampled by misuse of power. It is for them that the system of checks and balances was created to begin with....

    Its media attention like this that will build the political motivation to oppose these new laws

  • Re:So.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr Caleb ( 121505 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:16PM (#7550900) Homepage Journal
    That is so insightful, it's scary.

  • Re:More? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinshit ( 591885 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:16PM (#7550903) Homepage Journal

    The point is, jackalope, that the US Constitution was set up *specifically* to avoid the type of government that the current administration is turning into. Given a paranoid executive, an ever-expanding budget, and completely unfettered ability to act, any government investigative organization will inevitably begin to maintain files on every citizen of that country. The potential for blatant misuse and corruption is enormous and, again, one of the things the Constitution was specifically designed to prevent.

    However, since the Constitution appears to the current US government to be only so much ancient toilet paper, this comes as no surprise. What remains encouraging are a few semi-enlightened souls in Congress who seem resistant (although not nearly enough for my tastes).

  • by AoT ( 107216 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:16PM (#7550905) Homepage Journal
    with the way cops are treating even non-violent protesters in miami [] i dont know that you'd get to far. why do you think the government is researching so many new crowd control methods?
  • by Dovregubbens Hall ( 583591 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:18PM (#7550932)
    Yeah, sure. You'll have your brains blown out before you even get close to Washington DC.

    The issue isn't the arms, the issue is to get enough people to stand up. The world just saw a peaceful revolution in Georgia the other day.

    Try that instead. Get a million people walking unarmed to the White House and take it over. If they start shooting at unarmed civilians, then you know you live under a tyranny, and other tactics may be in place. But before you've tried that. talking about a violent revolt is just wrong.

  • by pr0t0plasm ( 183810 ) <pr0t0plasm&luckymud,org> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:21PM (#7550957) Homepage
    "It's been a rollercoaster ride over 4 decades, a carefully orchestrated whole-cloth infiltration of all levels of Federal and State government, a project that has seen the cooperation of intervening Democratic administrations, no less, and until now, no one ever noticed.. "

    You left out the systematic undermining of the constitutional separation of powers, the co-option of the media into the ruling elite, and widespread voting irregularities, but other than that, it's a pretty good summary. I'm also hardly the first one to mention it (see or
  • by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:21PM (#7550964)
    That is not right. You shouldn't have to give these idiots MONEY to have them vote according to the people. Isn't that what a "represented democracy" is supposed to be? Personally, I think we need a forceful overhaul in this country and implement a true democracy where any American 18 or over can cast a vote. The votes are counted and a law is either passed or not passed based on those votes. We could have a big vote every 6 months. Where X number of laws/issues could be voted on. It would be the job of congress to lobby us to try to get thier laws passed. The problem with a "represented democracy" is that those who should be representing the people are often representing those with the largest donations.
  • Re:Exactly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hoplite3 ( 671379 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:24PM (#7550996)

    It's not just scary, it should be illegal. I understand that some military and spy funding needs to be done in secret, but when the congress established how to handle these delicate issues they were negligent. They SHOULD have forced any secret spending bill with non-spending riders to no longer be secret. It only makes sense. If you want the $50 billion for some assasination laser kept secret, fine (well, not that fine, but I can cope). But when you attach a rider reducing the privacy of citizens, that whole bill should now be open for public debate.

    This is an end-run around democracy. We can't stand for it. What's worse is that the legislation is difficult to litigate over. You can't sue for a breach of your rights because the company that helped the government isn't allowed to come forward. The system of checks and balances is being hampered here too.

    And I don't feel any safer. I mean, the New York bombing reports seemed to say that to prevent terrorist strikes, we just need a little better cooperation between intelligence agencies and fewer "blinders" when suspects come from supposedly friendly nations. What we got instead was another intelligence department that does fuck-all, two wars with questionable success, and a ever-increasing restriction of our personal freedoms.

  • by NixterAg ( 198468 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:24PM (#7550999)
    It is truly a sad day when people choose to ignore history and believe that flag waving, rights waiving, non-sense that is fed to us daily by a near facist government.

    Judging by your eloquence in the statement above, it's really no wonder your co-workers think you're insane. To suggest that the United States goverment is 'near facist [sic]' shows your own lack of knowledge when it comes to history and shows your lack of understanding as to what the word 'fascist' really means and represents.
  • Re:More? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by johnnyb ( 4816 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:26PM (#7551014) Homepage
    Interestingly, they haven't come for anyone yet. When they do, come and get me, and I'll be on your side. They are just watching people. I'm, personally, glad for the watching.
  • Re:More? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:27PM (#7551026) Homepage
    They locked up their riched man for being corrupt and accepting bribes.

    In the US they'd have elected him to office!
  • by swissmonkey ( 535779 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:27PM (#7551028) Homepage
    For sure.

    Once you make legal what was previously illegal, it's not a violation anymore.

    That's what people are complaining about.

  • by NastyGnat ( 515785 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:27PM (#7551032)
    I happen to be one of those "right wing" military folks and as far as I'm concerned you can have your revolution.

    My job ISN'T to stop citizens from revolting, it's to protect the constituition. I'd hope many of my follow soldiers would recall stuff like Kent State and do what is right rather than what they're told. As far as I'm concerend our government is going WAY to far with the crap it's coming up with. That's why first of all, I'm going to VOTE. It's not going to be for a democrat, but I wish there was a viable candidate other than the Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft bunch.

    On the other hand most of what I see in here in left wing propaganda. I don't guess you'll need the second amendment when your peacful revolt fails. Even though honestly I'll admit a million angry left wingers on capitol hill stalling government OUGHT to be enough to overwhelm police and military as well as incite SOME kind of change.

  • No.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msimm ( 580077 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:29PM (#7551056) Homepage
    The right-wing has been doing things right for years, while we write short essays, donate a few dollars or email our representatives they have organized fundraisers, church events and gone door to door. I think its a matter of seriousness. They take what they do very serious. The go out into meat-space and change things.

    Personally, I'm tired of being so certian that I'm right that I sit smugly back an do the bare minimum (if anything at all). Those radical hippies have turned me off on politics, but maybe their not what its all about?
  • by Dinny ( 16499 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:29PM (#7551059)
    Clearly the "singular goal" part is just silly. But it's not unreasonable to say that a unifying characteristic of the republic party is to make business men richer. It doesn't have to be a conspiracy or planned out. All you need are a few confused ideas about how government and economics work and away you go. If you fundementally believed that any given manager contributes more wealth to company (and thus is more important) then all of this subordinates combined I believe your general interpretation of the world would lead to business owners and upper management getting more money. It could seem correct to you, with no outside influence that business owners should be given breaks and incentives, because they are worth so much more then everyone else.

    There are many other ways to get there without a conspiracy, I'm just providing one possible example.
  • by derfel ( 611157 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:29PM (#7551061)
    I remember receiving a response to a message I sent about the DMCA. It basically said "this is a very complicated issue, but copyrights are very important to this economy and they must be protected." I read that as "I don't really understand what's going on here, but big contributors stand to lose money if I don't do what they say." Talk to everyone you know about this. Write down a simple explanation of what's going on spread pamphlets around your neighborhood. If we all did this, things might turn around.
  • by smack_attack ( 171144 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:30PM (#7551073) Homepage
    they said in septermber they've NEVER used this power of the patriot act

    They are lying [].
  • by nate1138 ( 325593 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:31PM (#7551085)
    Yup, agreed 100%

    Republicans are evil, Democrats are stupid. Bipartisanship means something stupid AND evil...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:32PM (#7551091)
    It's harder to shoot at people when they are unarmed, why don't you just take notice of that and realize the 2nd Amendment is a thing of the past?

    Tell that to the unarmed students at Kent State who were fired upon by armed National Guard troops.

    Tell that to the unarmed war veterns who were camped in Washington D.C. until they were routed out at the point of the sword and the gun by regular Army troops, by the men who would later be regarded as the heroes of WWII.

    The only reason the black protesters for civil rights in the south weren't slain, is because the federal government was on their side against the states.

    This country doesn't care if you're unarmed or not. Perhaps peaceful means work elsewhere, but not in good ol' bloodsoaked America. Go up against them in numbers (or in situations) strong enough to disturb them, and you will die. At least your stupid disregard for the usefulness of the Second Amendment will die with you.
  • by Umrick ( 151871 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:32PM (#7551092) Homepage
    No violations?

    I'm just curious, as I really would like to know. What about the violation to a person's right to a timely trial? Aren't there a fair number currently jailed thanks to the Patriot Act that have yet to have their day in court?
  • Re:More? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:32PM (#7551110) Homepage Journal

    The difference, of course, being that "hippies" that set fire to things have committed a punishable offense and drawn the justified attention of law enforcement. Peaceably assembling, however, whether you, the FBI, and anybody else who thinks the government should be allowed to run amok likes it or not, is not a crime and, therefore, law enforcement has exactly NO business poking its nose into those peaceful demonstrators' lives. Milling about with the protestors to make sure they stay in line is one thing. Actively engaging in snooping into their lives is not only quite another, it's highly disturbing behavior from a government that's growing less and less interested in what "the People" care about and what their best interests are.

  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:33PM (#7551118) Homepage
    Or perhaps we should just disallow 'donations' to political offices. We don't allow it in the judicial arena, why should we allow it in the politic general? While we're at it, we should take the power away from congress to vote their own raises. The government should be accountable directly to the people. There are just too many issues to the general public to vote on every single one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:33PM (#7551121)
    When you can't find out who has been investigated, through what means, when, and why, it becomes damn near impossible to suspect, much less prove violations. A perfect example of that, since you brought him up, is Jose Padilla. An American citizen held indefinitely without charges being filed and without access to an attorney. All this because he was labeled an "enemy combatant" while on a plane where he committed no act of violence. When people effectively disappear based on unproven information supplied by the government, it becomes really hard for me to believe that the issue *can* be blown out of proportion.

    * Not defending the actions of Jose Padilla (whatever they may have been), just believing he should have the right to a fair trial like every other citizens
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:33PM (#7551124)
    > People like Timothy McVeigh are the reason ignorant members of Congress propose ridiculous legislation like this. I'm not saying what they're doing is right, but don't make Timothy McVeigh some kind of hero for having the "balls" to stand up to government. He murdered innocent people. Nothing good came out of what he did. It is just downright disgusting to suggest this is the way to bring about change when we still have the power to do so through democratic elections. I'm also not buying this crap that Congress is trampling all over our rights without our consent. We are the ones that gave them their power. We can take it away. Don't glorify violence. Go out and vote.


    Our society can be changed (for better or for worse) through the use of four boxes. Soap, ballot, jury, and ammo.

    What the kook you're replying to so desperately needs to understand is that there are some Damn Good Reasons why the four boxes are intended to be used in the right order.

  • by Varitek ( 210013 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:34PM (#7551140)
    Does anyone care to guess how many violations or abuses that have been uncovered where a private citizens rights have been violated?
    At least one.
    Did anyone guess Zero? Because thats exactly how many violations there have been. Zero. Period.
    The powers granted by the Patriot Act have helped to uncover and break up Al Queda cells and even prevent the detonation of a dirty bomb in New York by Jose Padilla.
    So even you know about Jose Padilla. We don't know if Jose Padilla was going to create a dirty bomb - because his constitutional right to due process has been ignored. Despite being a US citizen, and being arrested in the US, he's been held for over a year in military custody without being charged, without being allowed to consult a lawyer, and without being brought before a judge. You don't think his rights have been violated? Charge Padilla! []
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:35PM (#7551157)
    I guess it needs to be defined for you then:

    A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.

    We are being told what to do be a single entity (the current regime), we are having the FBI look into demonstrations and their leaders as to stop possible terroism during those (and of course it is under the guise that it is for the good of the people protesting), we are told to go to a country and fight for its freedom to protect our own, and I don't even want to get into the racial profiling going on everyday regarind terrorism.
  • Re:More? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:35PM (#7551167) Homepage Journal

    I don't see this reference as too far off.

    Yea, blocking people from going into a federal building and blowing one up. That's pretty much the same thing, huh? While we're at it, I suppose you're going to tell me that stealing a candy bar and killing the shop owner are about the same thing, right?

  • Re:More? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arkanes ( 521690 ) <arkanes@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:36PM (#7551178) Homepage
    So whats the justification for having them, then?
  • Re:More? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 24-bit Voxel ( 672674 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:36PM (#7551179) Journal
    I believe the point of the files, in theory, is that if you are a dissident, they pull your file and arrest you for whatever they have on you. It equates to totalitarianism. You disagree with Big Brother, you go to jail. That way, the proles never have a chance to step out of line. The KGB had files on many of its citizens. Do you know much about how the KGB ran Russia? It's fascinating stuff, I must tell you. Do you know what KGB stands for?

    KGB = Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (Committee for State Security, USSR)

    It's not a matter of if the files will be seen by people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:38PM (#7551210)
    "What no one seemed to notice was the ever widening gap between the government and the people...And it became always wider...

    "The whole process of this disconnect coming into being was built around diversion...

    "Nazism gave us some other dreadful, fundamental things to think about ...or, rather, provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway...

    "Nazism kept us so busy with continuous changes, accusations and 'crises' and so fascinated ... by the machinations of the 'national enemies' without and within) and the government's 'responses' to them, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us...

    "Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted', that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures' must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing...

    "Each act curtailing freedom... is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow...

    "You don't want to act, or even talk, alone... you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble' or be 'unpatriotic'...But the one great shocking
    occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes...

    "That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring: the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit (which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms) is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. ...

    "You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father... could never have imagined."

    Source: They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University
    of Chicago Press, 1955)

    "We will not wait as our enemies gather strength against us. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action, and this nation will act." G.W.Bush, West Point, June 2002

    "In this new world, declarations of war serve no purpose. Our enemies must be defeated before they can harm us. I will never declare war, but will take action!" Adolph Hitler, June 1940

    "Not too many people will be crying in their beer if there are more detentions, more stops and more profiling. There will be a groundswell of public opinion to banish civil rights," Peter Kirsanow, Bush's controversial appointee the U.S.
    Commission on Civil Rights

    "I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people, and the West in general, into an unbearable hell and a choking life."
    Osama bin Laden, October, 2001
  • PROVE IT! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mac73117 ( 122267 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:41PM (#7551278)
    I haven't seen one piece of information that states that the Patriot Act or another infringement on our rights has improved our 'security'. You'll reply that we haven't had a terrorist attact in that time. You know what, you're right. You'll also notice that we've bombed or occupied most of the nations that aid these terrorist. These terrorist have also targeted sites closer to home (Israel, Saudi Arabia).

    The FBI has ALWAYS had the power and authority to stop wrong-doers. What this legislation does is further remove the checks and balances that keep our government from becoming the tyranny we defeated over 200 years ago. Point: Pre-911 you want to tap a phone get an emergency warrant from a judge. Now you can just tap without impunity.

    I could go on and but it will mean more if you look it up yourself!

    Pardon the rant, but I'm sick and tired of the sheep hiding behind the 'its the government so its ok' or the 'if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to hide' arguments.

    We've spilled alot of our blood to secure our freedoms and now we're pissing it away in the name of security. The FBI knew about the 911 attack. The bureacracy stopped the flow of information to the necessary people. Why don't the fools in Washington legislate THAT!

  • Re:More? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by johnnyb ( 4816 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:43PM (#7551321) Homepage
    Interesting, but these people were not working for the Bush administration, they were local cops. I'd say your beef is with them.

    There are always cops who are bad and arrest people just for being people they don't like. I just don't see how this has anything to do with the federal government, since this is a local official with completely different jurisdictions. I don't think GWB has called up all of the local police forces and said, "I want you to do me a favor..."
  • by MarkusH ( 198450 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:44PM (#7551339)
    "I don't care who the people vote for, as long as I get to pick the candidates." - Jay Gould
  • Comment removed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by account_deleted ( 4530225 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:46PM (#7551359)
    Comment removed based on user account deletion
  • by GospelHead821 ( 466923 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:47PM (#7551372)
    How do you enact these policies? You'd have to pass a law to do it, right? Congress is currently responsible for the passage of laws. How're you going to push that through Congress? They don't want to give up all that money.
  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:48PM (#7551398)

    All takes is voter participation, an understanding of what's at risk, and why it's important to REMOVE those currently in office who vote in favor of these kinds of messes. For some, I imagine, it will be a difficult proposition as they will need to choose between their freedom, or their welfare check.
  • by pr0t0plasm ( 183810 ) <pr0t0plasm&luckymud,org> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:51PM (#7551433) Homepage
    If you don't like the parties, don't just keep complying. If the Libertarian wing of the Republican party (or better yet, the Culturally Conservative wing too) can be convinced that their organization's leadership represents the plain-and-simple Profiteering wing of the Republican party, then intra-party politics could actually get interesting.

    That will, as an above poster notes, mean actually talking to people and organizing events, but it may be the best means of restoring some spectrum of choice to the American ballot.
  • by mandie ( 69148 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:51PM (#7551454)
    Although the "official" Lutheran church of Germany went along with the Nazis, there were many pastors of conscience (like Niemoeller) who spoke out and acted against them. I can't remember if he was one of the ones imprisoned and/or killed; I'm pretty sure he was at least put into a camp at some point.
  • Re:More? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mattcelt ( 454751 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:53PM (#7551477)
    Now if only they'd come for the trite and the histrionic :-)

    Hopefully they'll come for the carelessly apathetic first. ;-)

    There are three kinds of people:
    Those who make things happen.
    Those who watch thing happen.
    Those who wonder what the hell just happened.
  • Re:Bomb (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stile 65 ( 722451 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:55PM (#7551500) Homepage Journal
    It was a joke. That's why it's modded Funny. :P
  • by scot4875 ( 542869 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:57PM (#7551529) Homepage
    Republicans are evil

    Never ascribe to evil that which can just as easily be mere incompetence. (or something similar).

    I think both parties are stupid. True evil actually requires a degree of intelligence, which I certainly haven't seen from either party.

  • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:59PM (#7551570) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately for your cold, dead hands the current state of the US Military is such that it could pretty easily resist a popular uprising. For example: Iraq. The main body of resistance would be uprooted and the rest reduced to piddling attacks which, while annoying, would not upset the current regime.

    Funny, the "piddling attacks" in Iraq ARE upsetting the current regime. If the US can't keep order there, imagine trying to keep order in a vastly larger country, and more important, maintaining Big Business (tm) in such a condition of "piddling attacks".
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:01PM (#7551601)
    I'm fine with the cops PROACTIVELY having extra troops on hand and dispersed throughout the crowd.

    I'm fine with the cops PROACTIVELY having vehicles strategically placed to remove any individuals who break the law.

    I'm fine with the cops PROACTIVELY having cells set aside for possible law breakers.

    I'm fine with the cops PROACTIVELY having riot gear assigned prior to any demonstrations.

    I am NOT fine with cops spying on citizens that have NOT broken ANY laws.

    The laws that we HAD were a result of past abuses by the authorities.

    Now we're seeing those protections removed.

    Do a google search on:
    fbi bomb bari

    Educate yourself about your government's activities.
  • Re:More? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pyros ( 61399 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:01PM (#7551607) Journal
    Well, the reference you defended was likening peaceful protestors to terrorists. You defined an illegal activity engaged in by protestors, and the_mad_poster defined an illegal activity engaged in by terrorists. So while I agree that is was stretching the bounds of what you technically said, it was a logical way to prove the point that peaceful protestors should not be likened to terrorists purely based on the legality of their respective actions. The comparison should only be made on the actions themselves. Barricading a building to prevent government representatives without causing physical harm of damaging property is not similar to killing people. The motivation is the same but the actions are not, because of the underlying philosophy. So the reference really wasn't all that valid.
  • by mikeswi ( 658619 ) * on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:02PM (#7551612) Homepage Journal

    They are for less government regulation remember? (oh wait)
    They are for less spending. (oh wait)
    They are for the little guy. (oh wait)

    You know, for those reasons and others, I voted Republican in '96 and would have again in '00 if my car hadn't broken down on election day. I voted for the guy in my district (Jack Kingston) that voted yes.

    At this moment, I am ashamed of saying that. It's as if the entire purpose of the Republican and Democratic parties have shifted completely to the opposite since Bush was elected.

    The Republicans are now the liberals, wanting to change every damned law in a way that contradicts their original purpose so they can micromanage people's lives. The democrats are now the conservatives fighting to keep the laws as they were intended. God, even Bob Barr (R-GA) joined the ACLU after losing his district in the redistricting of Georgia.

    Anyone wondering why this is a big deal, you need to ask yourself one question. What does the Justice Dept have to hide that makes them so determined to avoid citizen oversight? What are they doing that the people won't like?

    Here's a list of who voted yea and nay. []

  • by Hentai ( 165906 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:02PM (#7551618) Homepage Journal
    Isn't it funny that those boxes have been neutered in reverse order?

    We get gun control laws first, because noone "sane" would notice - they never get that far because it's not that bad yet.

    Then, once there's enough gun control to make armed resistance too difficult to pull off, they start neutering the jury - re-working laws so jury notification can't happen, and twisting the legal system's procedures around until only idiots and sheep can get appointed to an actual trial jury.

    Then they start disenfranchising everyone, finally moving on to trickery and outright ballot manipulation to get their way.

    Then they start going after the protesters.

    Sneak up slow enough, and you won't even be able to tell what's happening - after all, it's not like it's much worse than our parents had it, right?
  • by Slider451 ( 514881 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:04PM (#7551631)
    Your right to bear arms isn't a threat to the government. It is, however, a threat to your kids, spouse, friends, neighbors, postman, local law-enforcement...

    I could not disagree more. It is indeed a deterrent for reasons already stated in this thread. It's not about who has the bigger weapons. It's about having a means to resist if, God forbid, it ever comes to that. 2 million servicemen (the entire U.S. military, including all services, active, reserve, and guard) cannot hold back the other 250 million of us, even armed with sticks, tanks not withstanding.

    Also, the U.S. military is composed of educated volunteer citizens. In other words, us. If it comes to true tyranny by our own government, many soldiers will leave their posts and join the resistance.

    But there's a large gap between mass resistence to government tyranny, and a few paranoid, disillusioned militia members. I hope we can always tell the difference.
  • by j-turkey ( 187775 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:07PM (#7551669) Homepage
    20-1 says Bush gets re-elected. I don't think anyone can outspend him and this administration's fuck-ups over the Iraq war have been totally glossed over and buried. I won't vote for him but I still think we're going to be stuck with Junior for 4 more years.

    I'm not sure that I agree with you on that. Americans are pissed and I think they'll stay pissed. They still feel particularly misled about going to Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein from selling WMD to terrorists. No WMD have turned up, and the evidence linking Iraq to US-terrorism are weak at best (however, if I recall correctly, Hussein was offering a $60,000 stipend to families of Palestinian suicide bombers hitting Isreali targets). Furthermore, Americans are pissed that Bush went into Iraq, guns ablazin', with no exit strategy other than to ask Congress for more money -- this is still leaving a horrible taste in the mouths of voters (it will continue to unless he fixes it). There is also the matter of Cheeny hiring his former firm to take a large chunk of rebuilding Iraq with no RFP issued. Americans are sick of his rhetoric -- every time this guy is asked the tough questions about Iraq, he spews out the same "I don't know anyone in their right mind who thinks the world would be better off with this guy in power". His response doesn't answer the question, and all that it does is makes it clear to me that in Bush's mind, the ends certainly justify the means.

    In order to get re-elected, Bush will have to pull some serious rabbits out of his hat. Specifically, he'll have to show some pretty convincing evidence of WMD in Iraq and get Iraq settled with the majority of our troops out of Iraq with an Iraqi government in power.

    Unless he fixes these issues, there's no amount of campaign spending that will erase the memory of Bush's fuckups in foreign policy. He's got all the rope he needs -- I'm certain that he'll finish the job of hanging himself. After a presidency like this one (the next year notwithstanding), you must think that all of your fellow countrymen are a bunch of assholes if you think that they'll vote for this guy again. Living in America my whole life (and being an American), I've met a fair number of other Americans in a fair number of regions. Most of the ones I met seem like pretty nice, intelligent people. I sure as hell hope for my sake that they can put 2 and 2 together on this one. I think that they will.

    PS -- FWIW, I don't think that we'll do much better with Democrats in the White House.

  • by trauma ( 62841 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:08PM (#7551688)
    No. The evil of the congress and the senate is only surpassed by the ignorance and stupidity of the average citizen.

    I agree the current system is horribly broken, but we shouldn't just move everything to popular vote for the same reason presidiential elections are currently not based on a strict popular vote: all it takes is one smooth-talking demagogue to sway the opinions of millions of uninformed people. Legislation would become a battle of TV ads.
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:15PM (#7551751)
    There's usually an election coming up.

    If the clowns in DC don't want to support you, write some more letters and find someone running for office who will.

    Then get all your friends and their friends and their friend's friends out and VOTE.

    Sure, you'll be on the government's list for your anti-American activities.

    Sure, copies of those letters you've sent will show up in those governmental files.

    Sure, there will be agents sent to investigate you.

    But there's a very good chance you won't be killed.

    When you look at that in an historical perspective, it really doesn't get any easier.
  • by teromajusa ( 445906 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:26PM (#7551870)
    " all it takes is one smooth-talking demagogue to sway the opinions of millions of uninformed people. Legislation would become a battle of TV ads."

    Which differs from the current situation how?
  • by Ivan Karamazov ( 657617 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:26PM (#7551884)
    I think you might be missing something. Apparently, a lot of people approve of this kind of stuff. Bush's approval ratings are pretty high and slashdoters represent only a minority of the population. Apparently, American Democracy is working the way it was intended to--albeit with results that we, the minority, don't approve of. Unless, of course, you think more people would be against these policies than are currently, if only they were better educated. Perhaps it's time to start campaigning for media and education reform--did you know that every day there are 310 hours of conservative talk radio and only 5 of progressive talk radio? We might also want to give a few of our hard earned dimes to the Democrats. Who would you feel more comfortable with running our country, the Teacher's Unions, Labor Unions, EFF, and the ACLU, or Big Oil, Enron, Clear Channel, and the pharmaceutical companies?
  • by Shajenko42 ( 627901 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:27PM (#7551893)

    The big problem is that the constitution doesn't recognize money as a form of power.

    And unfortunately, the Supreme Court has ruled that money is a form of speech, making it so much harder to make any meaningful campaign finance reform.

  • by smithwis ( 577119 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:28PM (#7551909) Journal
    This sounds pretty dangerous. Democracy is a scary thing and our founders knew that -- the tyranny of the majority and all.
    That's why they set-up checks and balances like the supreme court. We don't have to give up those checks and balances if we adopt a direct democracy(rather than a representative democracy). The Supreme Court could still rule a new law unconsittutional. The president would still have to sign it into law.

    However, I'm not so sure were quite ready for direct democracy. We would need a serious overhaul of our voting system, and how would we keep states like New York and California from having unfair power, just to mention a few possible issues.

    What happens when the majority of Americans vote for something like - lets take all the money of the people who actually work and give it to the freeloaders...Oops sorry that is already happening.
    A bit trollish dontcha think?

    Is that the kind of country you would like to live in, one that does the will of the majority, rather than the right thing?
    How does a direct democracy change this?
  • by sunbird ( 96442 ) <sunbird@r[ ] ['ise' in gap]> on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:47PM (#7552119)
    This article originally appeared in the New York Times []. The article refers to a memorandum authored by the FBI. Does anyone have copies of it to post? Here are my favorite quotes:

    The memorandum . . . warned about an array of threats, including homemade bombs and the formation of human chains.

    Hmmm... leave it to the FBI to see a "human chain" as a threat. Here's another one:

    The memorandum discussed demonstrators' "innovative strategies," like the videotaping of arrests as a means of "intimidation" against the police. And it noted that protesters "often use the Internet to recruit, raise funds and coordinate their activities prior to demonstrations."

    So let's see here: we can't videotape the cops because they feel "intimidated," but of course the same doesn't apply to police, who routinely videotape [] activists. In fact, videotaping and photographing the police is essential to stopping police repression [] of peaceful protests.

    And using the internet to "raise funds" and "coordinate activities" is suspicious?

    I guess I should just turn myself in.

  • by ChaosDiscord ( 4913 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @06:59PM (#7552235) Homepage Journal
    I seem to recall Pastor Niemoeller was a Lutheran minister... and that Martin Luther was a noted anti-semite? Didn't many Lutheran clergymen applaud Kristallnacht?

    What is your point? It's not terribly clear, and it almost looks like you're saying that we should disregard the famous Niemoeller quote because he's Lutheran. If so, that's one of the stupidest things I've heard in a long while.

    Perhaps some Lutheran's supported the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazi's. Perhaps even most were. I have no idea.

    So what?

    It's quite clear from Niemoeller's quote that he was expressing remorse for failing to stand up for, among others, the Jewish people! Whatever else had happened, he personally was saying that this was wrong.

  • by sharkdba ( 625280 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:05PM (#7552277) Journal
    Is that the kind of country you would like to live in, one that does the will of the majority, rather than the right thing?

    Interesting point, but now you're opening another issue: who decides what's the right thing?
  • by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:08PM (#7552314) Homepage
    There have been recorded and documented misuse of the existing Patriot act. The most curious has been the now occassional use of "anti-terrorism" laws and provisions to prosecute common drug offenders. I am reminded that German facism also started with the prosecuting of the "unpopular" in society outside the scope of normal law.

    I also remember that even in periods when normal constitutional protections still did exist intact in this country, they were major abuses by some. How soon we forget the bugging and domestic spying on Dr. King, or the Nixon plumbers engaged in domestic espionage against percieved political "enemies", in the press and elsewhere. Even under the existing Patriot act and certainly under these new extensions, these and other past outragous might well now be technically "legal".

    The consitution exists in it's limited form to protect citizens from the potential danger of their own government, both as understood from direct experiance (of prior British rule), and of potential and percieved dangers and risks to liberty that were only guessed at at that time.

    The framers of the contitution were generally pessimists, for they thought constitutionally protected freedoms would only last at most a few generations before there would be need to start over...but while perhaps wrong on time scale, on this, like so many other things, they may yet, unfortunately, be proven correct in time.

  • by butane_bob2003 ( 632007 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:13PM (#7552361) Homepage
    Well, delegation tends to work well in large complex systems. This applies to any large system, not just a nation. Without delegation, the legal process would come to a griding halt. It's difficult and expensive enough to hold elections for the delegates. Most Americans are too busy working for a living to be bothered with going to the polls for all the local and state elections. Many don't even bother to vote on presidential elections. A big vote every 6 months to cover all the new laws would take each voter about 3 months to complete. Most people would not have an informed opinion either way, lazier folks would cheat and just randomly punch 'yay' or 'nay' to get it over with. Campaign reform *is* needed. If I had my way there would be less Texas oil millionaires in office and more in jail.
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:14PM (#7552370) Homepage

    Even if you assume that belief was still held by Lutherans in the Nazi era and specifically by this Pastor, that only makes the quote more poignant.

    You must not only stand up for the freedom of those groups who you aren't a member of, you must also stand up for the freedom of those groups who you don't like.

  • Re:Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bun ( 34387 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:19PM (#7552439)
    "The genius psychic reporter was able to identify undercover police officers because they looked like anarchists?"

    No. I would say he identified them because they pulled tasers out of their pants and jumped into an unmarked police van. And don't say "How do you know it was an unmarked police van?" Anybody over the age of 3 can spot a ghost car.
  • Re:More? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:25PM (#7552487) Homepage
    No, no, no. All their rich men are corrupt. What the man they locked up did was to challenge the status quo.

    ALL of them could be locked up for being "corrupt". But the police chose to only arrest the one man who was too "liberal". Amazingly enough, all the other corrupt crime bosses got a pass.

    I say this to illustrate what is wrong about "law and order" police states. It all depends on who the leaders choose to prosecute. With careful selection, you can eliminate all your political enemies, and reign supremely corrupt forever.

    Who of Enron is in jail? Seven billion stolen by fraud, stolen while the administration cheerled them on and blamed hippies for shutting down power plants. But somehow, the Justice Department has time to raid a cathouse in New Orleans and slam Tommy Chong in federal prison for selling plastic tubes.

    It all depends on who you choose to see committing a crime. The crew who enabled Enron in California kicked out the only man who fingered them as the guilty party, and now control the governor. Wanna bet the Enron lawsuit gets dropped now? No criminals exist if no one prosecutes.
  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) * <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:25PM (#7552488)
    Majority? Certainly not the majority of the people. I wouldn't trust that either, but I can't think of a single issue that it's ever been allowed to speak on. The closest I can think of is the majority of Californians, but that is always a "choose yes or no on this piece of legislation which has been made as obscure as feasible" kind of question. Still, I can usually decide which I prefer, if in no other way then by looking at who supports it and who's against it. But the majority of the senators isn't that much more trustworthy, and no where near as limited. Their interests aren't the same as mine, and my ability to influence them is...minimal to say the least. By the time I've heard about a bill, their position has already been purchased.

    Vote against them? Sure. But the way the elections are structured there are only two viable candidates, and the opposition will come up with someone who is even worse. Condorcet voting would solve this, but is there any belief that we'll ever see that, even at the local election level?

    I find myself perpetually amazed that some people are able to actually be in favor of even one of the candidates that we are presented with. Most, however, are just choosing the lesser of two evils, and knowing as they do so that they are still choosing evil. This appears to happen all the way from the local level up to the federal level, but the degree of evil increases as you get one person "representing" a larger and larger populace. I suppose that it's better than the local baron fighting the folk in the next barony over, but it sure isn't good.
  • by S.Lemmon ( 147743 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:38PM (#7552587) Homepage
    It's simple really: Democrats are corrupt, Republicans are evil. The difference is subtle, but I tend to prefer corrupt. It implies one may have had some convictions at one time but just lacked to backbone to stand up for them, meanwhile evil has plenty of backbone - but it's devoted towards nefarious ends.

    I think many understand the Republicans are mostly out to serve a small wealthy elite, but perhaps they vote for them partly because they fantasize themselves as part of that "elite" one day. By way of objectivity, here's a brief litmus test - do you currently have plans to buy your *second* million dollar yacht? If so, by all means, you should be voting Republican.

    Meanwhile Democrats start out supporting the working class, but soon discover a fundamental law of nature - the rich have more money than the poor! Once they realize they'll always be out-fundraised by the Republicans, they begin to be tempted by those corporate special interests. Sure, at first they'll justify it and tell themselves "what's good for this large employer is good for my constituents", but the seeds of corruption have already been sown. Soon their opinions will be completely dictated by their corporate backers.

    The only real solution might be campaign finance reform, but while everyone says they want it, it's amazing how soon after elections the politicians on both sides forget about it.
  • by DynamiteNeon ( 623949 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @07:44PM (#7552626)
    "Is that the kind of country you would like to live in, one that does the will of the majority, rather than the right thing?"

    The problem here is that you're thinking exactly like the people who are currently in power. Why let all the people make decisions, when it's really only the rich or "intelligent" who are important, right?

    The main thing stopping direct democracy from working is the flow of information. I tend to believe that people are capable of making reasonable decisions if they're given enough information from both sides.

    Of course that's the problem when you consider Fox News and all the other big media monopolies. It's almost impossible to get unfiltered information. Everything is slanted to fit the current regimes idea of the truth.

    Plus, people have to actually have the time to care and think about these things which is difficult when they're working so many hours so they can buy crap from those same monopolies.
  • by bankman ( 136859 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @08:17PM (#7552873) Homepage
    You shouldn't have to give these idiots MONEY to have them vote according to the people.

    You're absolutely right.

    Personally, I think we need a forceful overhaul in this country and implement a true democracy where any American 18 or over can cast a vote. The votes are counted and a law is either passed or not passed based on those votes. We could have a big vote every 6 months.

    This is not a very good idea. Think about how easy it is to manipulate public opinion, especially with todays media's omnipresence. I also used to say that the people, ie. voters, should have more direct saying in general legislation, but the sad truth is, is that most people don't care about laws as much as we would like them to do. Most importantly they mostly don't understand the complexity of the legal and social system they are part of. Passing a popular law, like for example the government may not raise taxes on certain popular things (cars, real estate etc.), would sound wonderful to everybody, but would stifle the governments budgetary flexibility. See California and the European monetary union for examples.

    We don't want to pass laws on an emotional basis, which happens if you install a true direct democracy. Laws always have to be considered within their legal, social and historical context. Most people would only consider laws within their personal context, which doesn't always make sense for society in general.

    However, I could imagine having a public vote on vital things, like changing/amending the constitution where personal freedom is touched.

    This is difficult stuff. Just my 2 Eurocents

  • Re:More? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @08:48PM (#7553086) Homepage Journal

    Trite. I'm in the mood for a good flamewar though.

    You said:

    ...I don't see this reference as too far off.

    In response to Frymaster:

    ...yesterday they were justifying spying on anti-war prosters by claiming that lawful dissent was potentially terrorism. their big argument to support this assertion? anti-war demonstrators have attended "training camps"... and terrorists often attend "training camps". ergo: protesters == terrorists.

    For the reference to be "not too far off", the protestors in question and terrorists would need to be a relatively homogenous group. To be a homogenous group, they would need similar ideals and methodology (we'll ignore pointless details like demographics which would only further solidify my point).

    The protestors in question were qualified as "peaceful". Terrorists, by common definition, are violent. Strike 1. To further expand the point, though both are attempting to bring about political change or awareness, they are using completely opposite methodolgies.

    The camps in question are another point of contention. In theory, one who participates in peaceful protest would only want to attend camps where one learns passive resistance or some similarly non-violent form of social annoyance. Terrorists, on the other hand, wish to learn how to kill. Guns, bombs, hand to hand combat, etc. Kidnapping, hostage situations, suicide attacks. Violent collision with opposing ideals. Strike two.

    Never said that. Thanks for playing.

    Strike three. No kidding. I said it. There's a difference between using an example to illustrate another person's ludicrous "point" and claiming they actually said it. I might also note, proactively, that my example is NOT ludicrously exaggerated, because terrorists, protestors, and federal buildings would typically play out in the manner I stated. Peaceful protestors could be expected to block entrance to, for example, a courthouse. Terrorists could be expected to blow it up. If the reference is "not too far off", then, in your line of thinking, those two acts are relatively similar. Your only hope of squirming out of this is playing the "I didn't explain myself clearly" card by saying that you didn't say HOW they were similar. That's irrelevant though because, since you didn't, it's not unfair for someone to come along and take your statement at face value.

    Editorial: I don't think it was fair that the parent post to this one got modded Flamebait. The grandfather to it that started this was already modded down. The thread is obviously of minimal value and continuing to waste mod points brining it down further is stupid.

  • Re:More? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <> on Monday November 24, 2003 @09:01PM (#7553186) Homepage Journal

    There are 260 million people in the USA

    Actually, it's an estimated 292,674,546 [] as of 19:54 EST Nov 24, 2003

    I don't care WHAT the aim is. THEY aren't peaceful protestors then and they draw the fair attention of law enforcement. However, if they're just picking people because they protest, there's a serious check or balance missing somewhere.

    And no, the protestor's don't represent the People. Reread the post - I said the gov't is SUPPOSED to represent the People and I believe that's becoming less and less the case. And actually, even if you read it the way you did, yes, those protestors ARE part of the people in the context of the statement. They're, presumably, U.S. citizens and are / should be afforded the same rights as non-protesting citizens.

  • by ggwood ( 70369 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @09:51PM (#7553643) Homepage Journal
    All money can do is buy ads, not votes, but ads are time to make a case, so money is important. That said:

    Americans are restricted in what we can give to candidates for office. However, we can donate either a very large or unlimited ammount to special interest groups, which can donate large ammounts or just run ads for a certain candidate. Attempts to restirct this have actually lost in court, up to the supreme court (highest court in the USA) because such restrictions violate free speach.

    Instead, we have "quid pro quo" laws which make it illegal for elected officials to actually do anything which favors the people they have accepted donations for. The standard of proof seems to be, basically, a direct link between the donation and the action. Obviously, proving this is absurdly difficult.

    Example: anti-abortion group seeks to donate money to candidate. They just ask around until they find someone in a tight race who is anti-abortion. They give that person money. Person wins and votes against abortion rights. Obviously, there is no case here. The person already decided what they felt and then took the money. Sure, they might have been more vocal, spent more time or effort or pulled in more favors for abortion than they would have otherwise.

    Other example: energy company wants tax break. Donates to a candidate who has no background in energy policy at all. Perhaps has never voted on an energy bill. Candidate wins and pushes for tax break for energy company. How can one prove that that is not what the candidate origionally believed? Most likely, the candidate is anti-tax to begin with. Aren't they all?

    Discussion of this issue in America has become exteremely jaded. On NPR (national public radio, in America) on the fairly conservative finance program (Marketplace) I have heard repeated references to business "getting what they are paying for" from congress, and repeated references to "bought and paid for" politicians. I don't listen (radio/tv) to much coverage of congress, but I have heard Democrats accuse Republicans of quid pro quo, to which the republican simply replied your side does it, too.

    Further, ads from special interest groups (SIGs) in favor of a candidate are not supposed to have any input from that candidate. This is apparently violated constantly.

    These politicans should be beyond reproach, yet most are obviously taking bribes. How can we change that, and stay within the constitution?

    1. Force politicians to recuse themselves from any decision in which they have an interest, including having an ad run for them by an interest group.

    1a. All ads for a candidate should be subject to veto by that candidate.

    Want a pro-abortion SIG to endorse you? Fine. You can't vote on any abortion issues for the next term of office.

    2. Ads run against a particular candidate must pay to provide equal time to the candidate, available directly after the ad, to rebut the ad without pentalty of recusion on the topic, e.g. without regard to (1) above.

    2a. If any significant connections can be made between the candidate and the ad run against the candidate, the candidate forfits the reply time. Instead it would be used to indicate the connection.

    This is needed to prevent candidates from putting up "straw man" arguments against themselves and then attacking such ads in the free time allowed. Now, you might think that's crazy but actually this happens already in City of Los Angeles politics.

    3. Disallow corporations from any form of political donations or speach. Corporations do not have the right to vote, only real people do, thus there is precedence for disallowing them political speach.

    Sure, you can make an organization to promote any political cause you want, say the environment. You can take donations from anyone you want. You can run ads for any candidate you want, discussion them and the environment. Then they have to recuse themselves from any votes on that topic, b
  • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <roystgnr&ticam,utexas,edu> on Monday November 24, 2003 @11:07PM (#7554324) Homepage
    Or perhaps we should just disallow 'donations' to political offices.

    How far do you want to go with this? And are you imagining the probable unintended consequences while you make that decision?

    You could disallow donations to political offices, but continue to allow people and groups to advertise for politicians they approve of, in which case the current practice of "people give money to candidate or party, which buys political advertising with it" will just get replaced with "people buy political advertising directly". Washington will still be ruled by money, but now it'll be exclusively money from large contributors who can afford commercial time, instead of individual contributors.

    You could also disallow whatever you define as "political advertising" entirely, in which case (aside from the obvious First Amendment problems) people's opinions will be influenced by "the news" instead, and the segment of money which rules Washington will be restricted further: to those corporations large enough to own news outlets and slant the reporting they provide.

    It's not as if your Senators are whoring for campaign contributions to pay for their new mansion or yacht; those campaign contributions pay for the propaganda that gets fed to voters before election day and keeps the best funded candidates in office. Any attempt to limit that propaganda will just end up as a limit on free speech. If you want to reduce the influence of money on politics, the only way to do so is with an informed electorate who will be less susceptible to expensive advertising when deciding who to vote for. What's worse, producing an informed electorate will have to happen from the ground up. You won't find any easy "campaign finance reform" answers: try and anticipate the unintended consequences of "matching funds" type ideas (hint: most involve increased barriers to entry for independent and third party candidates), for example, and you'll see why.
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @01:29AM (#7555270) Homepage Journal
    Roe V. Wade.

    It did not establish a constitutionally protected right to have an abortion. It found that some anti-abortion laws violate a woman's constitutionally protected right to privacy.

    Now, if it can be unconstitutional to enforce an anti-abortion law because it violates someone's right to privacy, HOW IN THE FUCK can it be constitutional for law enforcement to spy on people who are not breaking any law?

    But our government is no stranger to contradiction. For example, Marijuana is a schedule 1 drug, meaning that it has "no medicinal purpose", but they provide some terminally ill people with it. Heroin is also schedule 1, but in the UK Diamorphine (heroin) is perfectly legal and used as a pain reliever for people in extreme pain.

    What's wrong with the world when a right wing republican, like myself, is arguing against providing law enforcement with more power and against the insanity of US drug policy?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 25, 2003 @04:33AM (#7556002)
    To rephrase Chris Rock in context of privacy and our pursuit toward the place called "There" :
    Privacy Act of 1974 - 10 steps forward
    Carnivore - 2 steps back
    USA Patriot Act II - 7 steps back
    THIS - 2 steps back

    But who's counting?
    -vince-ICS student UCI-

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp