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United States

HomeSec In the News 711

The U.S. Homeland Security bill is steamrolling through Congress, on target to be passed within a couple of days. Since its passage is guaranteed, in whatever form it finally ends up, lawmakers are attempting to tack on their own pet projects to the bill so they can ride its coattails. A CNet article mentions that a version of the Cyberspace Security Enhancement Act has been appended to the HomeSec bill. William Safire blasts the addition in the New York Times. The Times has another story on the bill that notes some of the corporate pork that is also being added to the bill.
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HomeSec In the News

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  • Unchecked power? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by me3head ( 621221 )
    Is there any legitimate reason for the US's current process to ammend a bill. The way that anything can be added, related or not, seems like a poor way to go about things, can anyone think of a positive reason for this power?
    • Re:Unchecked power? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:08PM (#4669272)
      Yes. Adding ridiculous provisions to a bill is another way to stop it from passage. Add enough crap and when it comes up for final passage, it will be voted down because instead of a $200 million dollar bill its turned into a $2 Billion dollar bill.

      The legislative system has many places like this where it is possible to destroy a bill. Remove it, and you give the majority more power in Congress.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:42PM (#4669633)

      The thread is about un-checked power. I find it more than ironic that the same Conservative idealoges, like Safire, who a few days ago were gloating over the so-called Democrat debacle and basking in the sunshine of pending tax cuts, now see that the Right Wing of the Republican Party and his Conservative/Libertarian instincts, are not the same thing.

      If the Federal Government gets these new functions to collect information, it will be just the first step in a series of new powers that could lead to a social, political and cultural disaster in this country. Every year in the US tens of thousands of people die driving cars. It is tragic, and it has never had a direct effect on our personal freedoms and rights. Over a year ago 3,000 people parish, just a tragicly as the car deaths, from an act of terroism that has effected many other places in the world, but came here for the first time with a bang, and almost overnight our personal freedoms and rights under the Constitution are under seige. Is the Right Wing of the Republican party that opportunistic, or is this a co-ordinated attempt to re-order society to fit a venal and dangereous ideal of how humans should live their lives? It is time for men and women of good will to start asking these questions and demand answers. If we don't, forums such as this one could become a thing of a past we will be damned for not protecting.
    • by overunderunderdone ( 521462 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:49PM (#4669697)
      Is there any legitimate reason for the US's current process to ammend a bill.

      Of course there are - legislators need some ability to edit the legislation that is submitted to them from the committees. BUT, there are also many illegitimate uses of the ammendment process as well. Since the threshold is lower to pass an ammendment than a stand-alone bill you can abuse it in ways that have nothing to do with editting a bill to make it better. If you want something that wouldn't pass on it's own you can tack it on to a completely unrelated bill that will pass (usually something absolutely essential like the spending authority - no one is going to shut down the entire US government just to kill your little pet issue). If you don't like an otherwise popular bill you can tack on unpopular ammendments to ensure it's defeat.

      This is why Presidents like the idea of a line-tem veto they can strip out all the special interest clutter without killing the entire bill. Of course that adds a lot of Legislative power to the Executive branch in a way that can also be abused. It would be better if ammendments had to at least show some degree of relatedness to the bill in question. But who would decide which ammendments were legitimate or not? You know that power would be abused. And the ammendment we are talking about here would obviously pass such a test - as wrongheaded as it is it is certainly pertinant to a homeland security bill.
  • by NixterAg ( 198468 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @12:56PM (#4669139)
    The president needs a line-item veto. Bush Sr. wanted it. Didn't get it. Clinton wanted it. Didn't get it. Until the president has the ability to veto the individual components of a piece of legislation, we'll always have this type of pork.
    • Providing the President opposes it. When one party holds single majority, expect rubberstamping.
    • Just because the president has a line item veto, doesnt mean that he'll veto what he is "supposed" to. I wouldnt be surprised if the administration has congressmen tack on ammendments for them.
      • Still, it will provide an executive check on the legislative branch's penchant for bloating legislation. It will force Congress to be more fiscally responsible and will help eliminate deficit spending. As it works now, the president says "I want this piece of legislation". Since Congress knows he'll sign that piece of legislation they're likely to tack on 10 billion or so of expenditures totally unrelated to the primary bill. It's especially exploited when the president and Congress are controlled by different parties.
    • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:01PM (#4669200)
      Bush Jr. (or any other president) would only use the veto to kill of the other side's pork and goodies, not his own. I'd also expect it to be widely abused by whoever's in power to promote their own political agenda, rather than for the good of the people to eliminate non-germane pork.

      Corporate freebies tacked onto bills in the current environment will be allowed to stay, since they paid the current President and party for them.
      • That's why (Score:3, Informative)

        by wiredog ( 43288 )
        there's an override provision.
      • by garver ( 30881 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:06PM (#4669902)

        Pork is pork. Its all bad. Its all superfluous to the bill it gets attached to. Its stuck there because it wouldn't get passed any other way. If it can't stand up on its own then it should never happen.

        I don't care who's in power, be it W, Clinton, or Bugs Bunny, pork is always some one abusing their power to pay for votes/campaign contributions.

        Screw line item votes. We need a committe of English teacher reviewing each paragraph in a bill for consistency, coherence, and relevance.

    • Until the president has the ability to veto the individual components of a piece of legislation, we'll always have this type of pork.

      I'm no expert on politics, but wouldn't you get yourself into this type of situation:

      Original bill: Let's make it illegal to wear a black suit.

      Amendment: ...except to funerals.

      Assuming it only goes through congress because someone tacked on the amendment, should the president then have the ability to veto just the amendment?
      • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:09PM (#4669294)
        That's not an example of line-item veto. The president wouldn't get veto per-ammendment, the veto would be by spending item. For example, if Congress passed an appropriation bill that's called "The Space Flight and Ketchup Act of 2002" and it went through Congress unammended with $500 million to NASA for the Space Shuttle project, and $100 million to the FDA for research on preserving ketchup better, the president could approve the money for NASA, but veto the FDA's project. Right now, the president would be faced with a double-or-nothing decision. This would only apply to bills where funds are going to more than one place, it would not allow him to do something like accept a copyright law but eliminate consumer protections.
        • Just to put it into more context...

          Lets say that a bill is going through Congress to put better controls on Ketchup manufacturing, because some people got e.coli from ketchup. This is going to sail right through; think of the children! So they start tacking on little bits that have nothing to do, really, with the problem at hand. "100 million to the FDA for improved Ketchup testing. And 500 Million to NASA. For, umm...space..ketchup...testing."

          Now, the President has the ability to only say 'yes' or 'no' to the entire law, as presented to him. This is, I think, how it should be; y'all need to attack the root problem of fucked up laws going through Congress. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; America's political system would work far better if y'all used it as intended, and abolished the concept of the 'career politician.'

    • The better solution would be for the president to veto bills with pork. As pointed out below, a line item veto would result in just one set of pork being veto'd.
    • the Line Item Veto would be narrowly defined to vetoing budget items, and probably wouldn't apply here.

      Also, there's some debate that the Line Item Veto is yet another way that we are increasing presidential power. Some point out that the office of the president has gradually been accruing more and more power, and that it is upseting the balance of power in the government.

      Personally, I support the Line Item Veto, but I can also see where it's detractors are coming from.
    • by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:13PM (#4669343) Homepage
      The immediate problem with the line-item veto is that it is unconstitutional. [washingtonpost.com] Sometimes the Supremes get it right (6-3). :)

      So of course it could be enacted as a constitutional amendment. This would be a grave error IMHO, as law-making authority belongs with the lawmakers, in Congress, not the White House, which has the veto as final sanity check on Congress (and over which the Framers pointedly permitted a 2/3 vote of Congress to override). A line-item veto would wreak havoc: the President would be able to "pass" a statute other than Congress intended (there's no reason the President would be limited to so-called pork -- why not dissect the statute's principal topic?). Why would anyone have this great faith in a single person to do the right thing -- Presidents engage in pork barrel politics, too, and surely we can all think of at least one President on the last thirty years we wouldn't have trusted with this.

      If you have a problem with the lawmaking process, don't increase the power of a lone executive with whatever agenda; focus on the 535-member Congress, as the Framers intended. They did not want a monarch, or even an imitation one.

      In fairness the debate on this is long and complex. I won't pretend to present or be able to present a full balanced picture. But grant that the issue is much more complex than a magic bullet for pork-barrel abuses, and look into it more than sound bites permit.
      • How about a "loopback" line-item veto?

        Scenario: The President vetoes a couple of items, and thus "'passes' a statute other than Congress intended," as you aptly pointed out. The line-item-vetoed bill automatically goes back to Congress just like a vetoed bill, with one possible action added: Congress can vote on the bill as vetoed. If passed, it immediately becomes law without a return trip to the White House.

        IMHO, that would keep the President's legislative power in check, while giving him an official feedback channel in the process. The possibilities for additional checks and balances that this system would provide seem to be worth examining.

        Don't tell me, this is an old idea, right? Okay, go ahead and tell me.
  • All of the corporations are salivating at the prospects of the all-Republican, all-the-time federal government. Every corporate giveaway they want, they'll get, not the least of which I predict will be more goodies for Valenti & Co.

    I'd expect most of them to be tacked onto Defense or Security bills, since by this time all but the late Paul Wellstone are terrified politically of asking anything but "When do we vote yes on it?"

    • by NixterAg ( 198468 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @12:58PM (#4669168)
      Don't even try to put all of the blame for this on Republicans. Democrats and Republicans are equal opportunity pigs when it comes to piggyback legislation.
      • You do realize that he's right though? I mean its pretty much proven that both parties are whores, but the Republican party is especially fond of corporate handhands as the expense of consumers.

      • I'm not blaming the Republicans for the phenomenon, but I will blame them for the large amount of corporate giveaway we'll see in a Republican controlled house, senate and presidency.
        • by Christianfreak ( 100697 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:21PM (#4670078) Homepage Journal
          Umm which party was it that has had senators step down and presidents questioned over illegal campaign contributions? Yes that would be the Democrats I believe.

          I don't think it matters what side of the aisle you are on there are illegal corporate goings ons within the parties.

          I'm tired of that same huge wide brush that gets painted over and over again, Republicans are for the rich, the corporations and right wing that want to remove abortion! (nevermind the conservative justices on the supreme court have upheld it) and the Dems are for the little guy, the average joe and the environment, think of the children! vote for the Dems! Funny how top ranking Dems *cough*Al Gore*cough* and interestingly enough the Entertainment industry use that brush the most. Hmmm they don't have an agenda at all do they? Just out for the little guy ... sure.

          Then when the citizens of this country (however dumb you may think they are) voted the Republicans into power, all the Dems got their panties in a tizy and Al Gore came on TV and cried how unfair it was. (Not that I'm saying the Republican's wouldn't have done the same).

          The problem with politics in this country is that somewhere along the way the politians started putting Party before Country and People. Washington wonders why there is such division in the country. I say its because all the people who vote have a vested interest in one party or the other and no one else cares. If they want to see the apathy go away then both parties need to put the people back in power. Senators and Representatives need to stop listening to the special interest groups and educate themselves on the issues

          Finally the Party system should go away. I don't believe the original framers wanted political parties. They wanted individuals chosen by the people. We need to get rid of this Dem/Republican crap once and for all. /soapbox
      • Right, but now we've got one party in power. So whomever that is will be the greivous offender for the next two years. Much more so than when the power is divided.

        I'm a conservative. But I find unchecked Republican power much more frightening than unchecked Democratic power. The Democrats are just inept...
        • There ARE ALWAYS checks. The citizenry can recall elected officials. If we made a mistake by electing Republicans, then in two years we can correct it. However, I believe, the Republican philosophy is better suited for the world we live in.

          Our economy will certainly (hopefully) get a jumpstart if nothing else

    • by SaturnTim ( 445813 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:02PM (#4669210) Homepage

      Wow... The same site that screams FUD when it comes to an OS will allow this kinda post every day. IT's sad.

      Keep in mind that the newly elected congress hasn't started yet. Yes, this is still a democratic majority that is letting this happen.

  • by PhysicsGenius ( 565228 ) <physics_seeker AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @12:57PM (#4669151)
    Ever since Washington and Jefferson, this is how Congress has worked. And patriotic Americans understand that trying to dismantle the political process doesn't show proper solidarity and unity of purpose. Please don't post this kind of story in the future.
  • Insane (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @12:57PM (#4669157) Homepage

    I'm sorry for saying this. It's not constructive and rather anti-US, I suppose.

    But from all the things that look stupid about US politics from this side of the ocean, this phenomenon of tacking on loads of totally unrelated stuff to some bill must be the worst.

    Has any politician who did this ever defended this process in public? Is there one politician left who takes this whole democracy thing seriously?

    • Has any politician who did this ever defended this process in public? Is there one politician left who takes this whole democracy thing seriously?

      It's called compromise. I'm on the edge on this bill, but...if you give this to my state/pet issue you have my vote
      • by Damek ( 515688 ) <adam@da[ ].org ['mek' in gap]> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:04PM (#4669882) Homepage
        It's called compromise. ["]I'm on the edge on this bill, but...if you give this to my state/pet issue you have my vote[."]

        That's not called compromise, that's called bribery.

        The way it should work: "I'm on the edge on your bill, but... if you agree to vote on my (different) bill, you have my vote on yours."

        Unrelated bills and laws should not be tied together for any reason. If you can't get enough votes for your bill, then maybe there's something wrong with the bill, and then it should be discussed so a better solution can be found - and the better solution should not involve an unrelated issue.

        There really oughtta be a constitutional amendment to outlaw or discourage bills that address more than one issue... Or something...

    • Re:Insane (Score:5, Funny)

      by DeltaSigma ( 583342 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:04PM (#4669235) Journal
      We're not a democracy, we're a republic! And my elected leaders have informed me that I am pleased with this situation...
    • Re:Insane (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tswinzig ( 210999 )
      Is there one politician left who takes this whole democracy thing seriously?

      What democracy? The US does not have a democracy.
    • Re:Insane (Score:3, Flamebait)

      by bogie ( 31020 )
      Don't you get it? The best way to combat terrorism is to take away your citizens rights and treat them like terrorists.

      Oh wait....that's a horrible idea. Ooops too late were fucked.

      The citizens of this country had their chance when we voted recently. They fully knew based on party which group would be for retaining individual privacy and which group was out to demolish it.

      There is no doubt that some sort of homeland security policy was going to be passed, but with people voting the way they did, they insured what we are seeing now.

      I blame the people.
      • Re:Insane (Score:3, Insightful)

        by firewort ( 180062 )
        Come now.
        You do realise that Bob Barr (republican from Georgia) was one of the most pro-individual-privacy legislators there was. He was bad on leglization of medical marijuana, and he lost his primary, but don't go overboard with association of one party for privacy and one against.
        • Bob Barr (Score:4, Informative)

          by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai&gmail,com> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:36PM (#4670248) Homepage
          He lost his primary precisely because he opposed key anti-privacy provisions of the Homeland Security Act. After that, the GOP targeted him for un-election, and the Rush Limbaugh listening suburbanite dronies of Cobb County out-voted the hard-core, pro-privacy conservatives who used to be Barr's core constituency. The fact that the Georgia Democrats redistricted Barr into Newt's old district didn't help much, either.

          Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of bones to pick with Bob Barr, particularly when it came to the religious freedom of our Armed Forces. But I'm sad to see him go, because now we need privacy advocates more than ever before.

    • Re:Insane (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:30PM (#4669519) Journal
      Jimmy Carter. Whether or not you agreed with him on issues, he never did anything slimy in his life. The man was a saint. It lost him his second election. He had a lack of vision, and he wasn't willing to smooth things over. So the picture he painted was too bleak, and the people decided they would prefer an actor that told them what they wanted to hear. Reagan had vision... and was slimy as all Hell.

      Anyway. Is there anyone I didn't just offend? That wasn't the point...
    • Re: Insane (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot ( 19622 )

      > But from all the things that look stupid about US politics from this side of the ocean, this phenomenon of tacking on loads of totally unrelated stuff to some bill must be the worst.

      You should see how it looks from this side of the ocean!

      > Has any politician who did this ever defended this process in public?

      The pork is almost invariably something to pay off the legislator's own constituents, so they don't have much motivation to question the practice. Of course, people in other states/districts may no like it, but they don't get to vote for the pork packer, so s/he doesn't need to give a flip what they think.

      This is just another way that money taints elections, slightly more indirect than the campaign donor system. The people who could outlaw it are the ones who benefit from it. (I.e., it's another way of buying votes.)

  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @12:58PM (#4669163)
    MSNBC has a good article up [msnbc.com] about this"

    A last-minute addition to a proposal for a Department of Homeland Security bill would punish malicious computer hackers with life in prison.
    • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:09PM (#4669288) Homepage
      Reminds me of the law for luddites at the turn of the century .. it was called the "life for a loom" law. Basically, destroy a loom, and you die.

      Typically, when people use technology in ways unforseen or unwanted by lawmakers (I'm not arguing that cracking systems is moral, but there are cases where it isn't immoral.), the punishment isn't really meant to suit the magnitude of the crime. Its mean to scare the shit out of would-be hackers.
    • by gabriel-dialupusa ( 555359 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:12PM (#4669320) Homepage

      Well, it's very important to have the punishment fit the crime. After all, killing people deserves like 5 years in prison, whereas r00ting a box deserves what, life?

      Clearly, the punishment fits the crime.

    • If we follow the link to findlaw, we find:

      Hackers will face harsher penalties if they knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, death or serious bodily injury using the computer as an "instrumentality" for committing their crime. Although there is room for debate about how this provision will be implemented, it seems reasonably limited to distinguish garden-variety hackers from hacker-terrorists.

      Society has always been sickened by those who posess tools, knowledge and position but chose to harm others. Without the text of the abomination before me I can't really judge it, but it looks like a provision to punish people who try to harm others with a computer. It's strange that the federal government would wish to add this federal crime on top of the normal state laws against murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, etc. regardless of tool used. Not too strange when you consider that government always seeks more power.

      Consider the source for the accuracy of the statement, "... [the] bill would punish malicious computer hackers with life in prison." M$ would like to lock up people that interfere with their ability to extort money from the public. This is why they continue to use inflamatory terms like "pirate" to describe file copy without permission, and put negative conotations on terms like "hack". They only wish they could put "hackers" in jail and are doing everything possible to convince the public that it is morally correct to do so. It's foolish to even think in those terms, but trust M$ to help themselves by putting the words into your mind in that form. Some "news" is better left unread. The MSNBC article is obviously not a good one.

  • Cracking for Life (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I love that they are going to give life for cracking, wether you are white, grey, or black hat. Yet, this very same group of people are not willing to do a thing to stop CEOS/CFOS such as Ken Lay or Anshutz/Nachio who literally steal and plunder off with 100's of billions of dollars.
    BTW, We have all but shut down the company (Anderson) that was monitoring, but the company that did the actual theft.
    We live in interesting time.
  • Specify that an existing ban on the "advertisement" of any device that is used primarily for surreptitious electronic surveillance applies to online ads. The prohibition now covers only a "newspaper, magazine, handbill or other publication."

    Holy shit! That alone may be worth my privacy and soul! No more X10 ads! WHOOOO!
  • Newspeak... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cap'n Canuck ( 622106 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:04PM (#4669231)
    It seems George Orwell was off by about twenty years....
  • by zaphod ( 2284 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:04PM (#4669232) Journal
    Before everyone starts panicking over all our "lost privacy and rights", just remember what most working people have to do every year in April. The data collected by the IRS and the power the IRS has over everyone is enormous! Remember, both Nixon and Clinton severely abused the IRS' power by auditing all their enemies. The government takes all the money it wants to before you get any of it. They then redistribute to whomever they want to buy votes from (be it Corporations or Unions - take your pick).

    This is nothing new and it's nothing that only "evil right-wing" conservatives do either. So, before everyone blasts this bill, think about the IRS and the power they already have (and have had for decades).

    Just my $0.01 (after taxes).
    • by sg3000 ( 87992 ) <sg_public@@@mac...com> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:11PM (#4669965)
      > Remember, both Nixon and Clinton severely abused
      > the IRS' power by auditing all their enemies.

      Nixon maybe, Clinton no.

      Remember, our country spent almost $70 million dollars and two independent councils with unlimited subpoena power to investigate Clinton, and the only thing they came up with was some fellatio. Bill and Hillary go down as the most heavily investigated couple in the history of the U.S., so unless you've got a real court conviction to back up your accusation (which would be an impeachable offense), then don't bother lumping him in with Nixon.
  • The House and the Senate are each Republican, with a hefty margin. The President is Republican.

    The only consolation I have is that there are some kinds of laws that they simply can't pass without having them over-turned, because of the Consitution.

    I have never had such an appreciation for our nation's founders, or the term "tyranny of the majority", until now.

    God Bless America. And hold on to your britches: it's gonna' be a helluva' two years.

    • The post-September 11 USA Patriot Act, which is now law, created a narrow "emergency exception" to this rule. Pursuant to this exception, ISPs are allowed to share the contents of an e-mail or electronic communication with law enforcement agencies if the "provider reasonably believes that an emergency involving immediate danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure of the information without delay."

      (Emphasis mine)

      Apparently prior to 9/11 ISPs were prohibited from giving away that information without a warrant. Now they are allowed to, but apparently not compelled to. This is an important distinction. Would an ISP violate customer faith and give out this information in situations that really don't warrant it? I doubt it. I doubt they'd give away anything without a warrant, allowed or not, simply because it costs money to store that all that crap and then look it up.
  • When did the word Liberal become an epithet along the lines of "motherfucker" or "idiot" or "cocksucker"?

    Furthermore, why are there so many young people that are so conservative these days? It's scary. Conservatism in young people manifests itself as militarism and social Darwinism, and if that's what our country is going to become, no wonder the rest of the world wants us dead.

    Time to start looking into Canadian job opportunities.
    • by laetus ( 45131 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:28PM (#4669498)
      I agree with you that people's political expressions should be respected, though not necessarily agreed with.

      But then after complaining about Liberal being equated with a host of slurs, you insinuate a few of your own about the Conservative label.

      Conservatism .. manifests itself as:
      • militarism - so, if you are a Conservative you believe in Imperialism or Fascism?
      • social Darwinism - so, Conservatives are all uncaring, heartless, disciples of Ayn Rand?

      Please, if you're going to gripe about labels, at least don't engage in the behaviour yourself.
      • by kin_korn_karn ( 466864 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:43PM (#4669646) Homepage
        First of all, You will not change my mind by pointing out flaws in my language. So what if I don't express myself perfectly? I'm not claiming to be a master of the language such as Hemingway or Fitzgerald.

        Secondly, this is fighting fire with fire. If the conservative pundits want to reduce it down schoolyard style bullying and name-calling, well, the people have demonstrated that they don't get it when one party tries to be above that (see the Clinton years for proof, where the location of his dick was more important than his policy). You have to speak in a language they understand.

        And yes, the conservatives of today, especially the young ones and the ones that haven't been out of their $200k house in the upper-middle-class suburbs in months, are fascists, militarists, and heartless disciples of Randian social Darwinism. You can see it all over the net. People who have never been around the poor or people who have been HELPED by government programs sit in judgement.

        If you went to college on a Stafford loan, you were helped by a gov't program. If you've ever been on unemployment, you were helped by a gov't program. It's not just hypocrisy, but pure ignorance. The arch-conservatives would gladly get rid of student loans because that's a way of assisting those who don't deserve it, who couldn't find a way to pay for themselves. And to these arch-conservatives, unemployment insurance is just a way for lazy fucks to leech off the system.

        The extreme conservatism that's going on in the USA right now is calculating, cold, and heartless in nature, and it mixes this false patriotism with the moronic "america kicks ass" mentality and it makes me fucking ill. I won't change my mind on this point.
    • Re:Liberal as insult (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sg3000 ( 87992 ) <sg_public@@@mac...com> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:21PM (#4670077)
      > When did the word Liberal become an epithet

      Newt Gingrich started the game back in 1994 when Bush Sr. lost the 1992 election. They put together a plan to make the world "Liberal" worse than "Communist" and basically wage the same war on the Democratic party that they waged on Communists before that. For more enlightenment, read David Brock's Blinded by the Right [amazon.com].

      It doesn't go both ways though. I have never met a Democrat or Liberal that responds to the other side with the same visceral reaction as a conservative when you say, "Liberal"

      Conservatives have learned since 1992 that if you say something enough times people will take it as conventional wisdom. For example, despite the fact that the media in general has been giving G.W. Bush a free ride since Sept 11, 2001, they still claim there's a "Liberal bias" to the media.
  • by lildogie ( 54998 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:06PM (#4669256)
    If the uber-database of all data about all US citizens gets created, it will be our duty to make sure that the national leaders share the pain.

    We must make sure that these all-encompassing privacy sacrifices are made by members of all three branches of government, as well as the little guy.

    If there's anything a politician doesn't want, it's to have their every move tracked and reported and handed over to the party in power. Likewise for CEO's. Imagine how the U.S. vice president would feel if a list of lunch dates were mined from his credic card records, as well as the credit card records of all of those energy brokers.

    It's up to the citizenry to make sure that there are no exceptions made for politicians in the recording of everyday transactions.
    • by loosenut ( 116184 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:12PM (#4669979) Homepage Journal
      We must make sure that these all-encompassing privacy sacrifices are made by members of all three branches of government, as well as the little guy.

      That's the most intellegent comment I've seen on Slashdot in a long time.

      In order for a government to be trustworthy, it has to welcome transparency and openness. David Brin refers to "societal T-cells", people and organizations who make sure the government is performing in the interests of the people, not special interests. Any good leader knows this, and will welcome criticism.

      And we should be afraid of leaders who try to hide behind one-way mirrors. Like Cheney and his secret energy commission meetings...
  • Somebody has to get in touch with the Pentagon's Design Dept...the Information Awareness Office logo [drudgereport.com] just screams "Big Brother is Watching YOU - and he knows how to cut-and-paste from the clip art library."

    Whatever happened to the classic seal/coat of arms? I think the logo is creepier then the future Safire describes in his article!

    (ok, not really. But still...)
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:08PM (#4669270) Homepage Journal
    I can see the politics of the Democrats... try to get a bill through that is mildly better than the one that would sail through after the Republicans are sworn in.

    Great politics... rotten policy.

    The problem through this entire election season has been that the Democrats have worked so hard to be good Republicans. They've done such a good job of it that they became indistinguishable from their opponents!

    So the liberal Democrats, disillusioned, stayed home. The on-the-fence voters, given a choice of Bushnik vs. Neo-Bushnik, leaned slightly but just enough towards the leopard that hadn't changed its spots.

    Here in Texas, John Cornyn [johncornyn.com], the Republican candidate for retiring Phil Gramm's US Senate seat, ran vicious ads against Democrat Ron Kirk [ronkirk.com]. The ads painted Kirk as a radical, knee-jerk liberal, and built up an incredibly stupid guilt-by-association link by associating him with Hillary Clinton. The truth is that Ron Kirk, as mayor of Dallas, was the most business-friendly proto-Repo you could imagine.

    So Kirk ran ads telling how he was so buddy-buddy with Dubya, and not liberal at all -- very true statements.

    Bushnik vs. Neo-Bushnik. Cornyn is now the Jr. Senator from Texas.

    That's alright, though... the Democrats' spinelessness has given the Republicans enough rope to hang themselves. It's a good time to be Green [greenpartyus.org]!
    • This is exactly the thinking that's going to lose the Democrats the next election. The real problem is that the Democrats have absolutely, totally, and utterly won the last half of the twentieth century. Consider the Dem's platform circa 1950: social security, civil rights, affirmative action, welfare. We live in the world set forth by those policies. So now that every last goal to the finest detail of the party at that time has been achieved, what is there left to do? The party of the "little guy" is disadvantaged by the fact that the little guy now belives that if he works hard enough, he become a big guy. The Democratic party's message is hopelessness: big business rules everything, you can't overcome them, so vote for us and we'll at least make sure you get a scrap from the table.

      Of course, the message the Dem's take away from the last election, as evidenced by this post, is "we need to promise a bigger scrap from the table!"

      The reality is that rather than fighting the man, the little guy wants to be the man. The difference between now and 1950 is that he can be. Is there still progress to be made? Of course, but I can show an example from no matter what miserable circumstance you wish to conjure of someone who simply would not take no for an answer and was able to build something great for themselves.

      Today, a Republican dreams of what he can build; a Democrat dreams of what he can tear down.
      • social security, civil rights, affirmative action, welfare. We live in the world set forth by those policies.. I hate to be a snide European again, but have you checked out the number of Americans living below the poverty line? Without medical insurance?

        That being said, you have indeed suceeded in affirmative action and civil rights matters - except you legal system which incarcerates a very large portion of your population - notably along the poor/rich line, since rich people do white collar crime which is not very harshly punished while poor people tend to car-jack, do drugs and generally steal - and those offenses are punished much harder. Three strikes is a prime example of a law that is biased towards the poor who really do need to steal to survive - a pizza slice here, some groceries there and maybe a bike over there - and you get more time in the slammer than the CEO of Enron possibly can.

        So - no - I would not claim that the Democrats completely won 1950-2000. Also, looking at international trends in democracies, you might conclude that the move was a result of larger movements than just America itself.

  • Is it just me..? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr_gerbik ( 122036 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:08PM (#4669279)
    Is it just me or does the CNET article fail to read between the lines? They say the CSEA will:

    Promise life terms for computer intrusions that "recklessly" put others' lives at risk.


    Permit limited surveillance without a court order when there is an "ongoing attack" on an Internet-connected computer or "an immediate threat to a national security interest."

    But if an intrusion really did put others' lives at risk, wouldn't that be enough evidence to lock someone up? If there was an "ongoing attack" that threatened national security, wouldn't that be enough to get a warrant or approval for a wiretap?

    The fact of the matter is, this bill allows for a further greying of line that separates our freedom from our protection. It gives the government an inch so that they can take a mile.

  • "Under the CSEA, ISPs will have wide discretion to determine when it is appropriate to turn over our email and other customer information to the government. Terrified of government reprisals and confident of their ability to invoke the "good faith" exception, a very low standard that is hard to enforce, they will likely turn over information at the drop of a hat."

    I'd like to mod this +1, Insightful. As far as ISP's are concerned, it comes down to a choice between giving in to law enforcement or protecting the rights of their customers.

    I think this battle has already been decided.
  • by mr_gerbik ( 122036 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:11PM (#4669315)
    According to CNET this bill will "Specify that an existing ban on the "advertisement" of any device that is used primarily for surreptitious electronic surveillance applies to online ads."

    Maybe they should rename it to the X10 Popup Protection Act... then all the nerds will get behind this bill.


  • by kootch ( 81702 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:13PM (#4669332) Homepage
    From the article: "The bill... would also extend protection against liability suits for airline screening companies and many other businesses that contract with the department"

    So basically, nobody can hold the screening companies liable for their fuckups. One of those idiots that is fucking off and allows a terrorist to get through the metal detector with a gun won't be held liable when the terrorist shoots up the plane. That's great.

    So what's left to keep the security companies in check? Obviously not the threat of a lawsuit. Makes me feel really safe in the coming years.
  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:16PM (#4669367) Homepage Journal
    I'm a little bothered by the anti-union stuff in bill setting up the Homeland Security Agency.

    I'm a lot bothered by the free hand it gives the president in personnel choices.

    They're setting up a huge, unaccountable, powerful government agency -- the kind of monstrous bureaucracy that Republicans got into self-righteous hissy-fits over when proposed by Democrats -- that is effectively be a bottomless pool of patronage jobs for campaign workers, old school chums, and other ideological boot lickers.

    No Civil Service exams . . . just spend a summer setting up campaign signs for Representative Porkbarrel and you'll have a cushy lifetime job compiling lists of people who checked out suspicious library books.

  • by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:21PM (#4669420)
    They named a former aide to John Kerry to be their representative to the new department. His task is (among other things) to; "be proactive in influencing requirements prior to RFI/RFP stage.", See here [theregister.co.uk].
  • Only in the Senate (Score:5, Informative)

    by EconomyGuy ( 179008 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:24PM (#4669451) Homepage
    While the Homeland Security Bill is most certainly assured to pass now that the Republicans will control all of the 108th Congress (don't forget, its still the 107th, and the Dems still control the Senate) that doesn't mean all of the items being tacked on by the Senate will actually make it into law.

    The House of Representatives already passed HR5005, the Homeland Security Bill, and did so with such tight rules that there was no chance for riders to be added. As such, when the conferees from the two houses to sit down and rectify the differences in the bill, the House will not have the pork that the Senate has... and I would go so far as to say that much of the pork will be stricken.

    The computer hacking bill, on the other hand, has already passed the House. I was actually in the gallery at the time and watched the bill pass without a single objection. Even the floor leader managing the opposing side was in support of the bill. I don't know where "our" lobbyist was on this issue, but it was already decided long ago.

    During the last few weeks of Congress there is a "great sucking sound". In other words, all of the bills that have been stuck in committee are suddenly tacked on to popular bills. Its been going on for years, and it is actually one of the few things that diminishes the power of the committee system, which in itself has some highly undemocratic practices. But that doesn't mean those items make it pass the conference committee.

    Oh, and one last thing, about the line-item veto. Its not that the President's want it and didn't get it... Congress granted the power but the Courts ruled in unconstitutional because the President is not supposed to be vested with such power. If he did have that power, what would stop him from taking off items that would help members of the opposing party while keeping on items that help his own party? No, the power of the purse needs to stay in the hands of Congress. But we as voters need to stop rewarding Congressmen just because they send $50,000,000 toward our district.
  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:26PM (#4669478)
    Anyone else reminded of the Simpsons ep with the meteroite? (This is from memory, so don't flame me because it's not word-for-word.)

    Senator introduces bill to save Springfield, everybody is happy.

    Random Senator: "I'd like to add an amendment to that bill to allow funding for the perverted arts!"

    Head Senator: "All in favour of the amendment"

    Everybody else: "Yay"

    Head Senator: "Motion Passed. All in favour of the Save Springfield/Perverted arts Bill"

    Everybody else: "Nay"

    - cut to Kent Brockman
    Kent Brockman: "I've said it before, and I'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work."
  • by tswinzig ( 210999 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:26PM (#4669480) Journal
    SLASHDOTIA - The community known as Slashdot has announced today it's decision to secede from the United States of America. President and Commander(Taco)-In-Chief Rob Malda made the announcement shortly after new announcements came of ridiculous "rider" bills being tacked onto popular legislation.

    Mr. Malda was quoted as saying, "with a Republican controled [sic] house and senate, we are loosing [sic] our RIGHTS as Americans! Well, those of us from Slashdot that live in America, that is. Therefore we are announcing the immediate secesion [sic] of Slashdot from the United States of America. We are drafting our Declaration of Independance [sic] as I speak. Thousands of my fellow Slashdotians are currently modding proposed wording for the decleration [sic] up and down, right now." He added, "Of course, I will be in charge of the final proofreading."

    Fellow Slashdotian staffer Roblimo was quoted as saying, "Yes, we are hoping for a declaration that is +5 Insightful, but I fear we could end up with +5 Funny. It really depends on who happens to be participating in the conversation for the 1 hour it will take us to draft the document."

    When asked how Slashdot -- devoid of a military -- figures to fair any better than the South did during the Civil War, Mr. Malda simply responded, "Two words: Slashdot Affect. [sic]"

    Back to you, Dan.
  • Smaller gov't (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:29PM (#4669510) Homepage Journal
    One time i voted republican because I was for less gov't and fiscal responsibility and now they stand for the opposite. Bush's solution to all problems is spend more. I was a rich kid and never had to budget for anything. In fact in the business world he was a disaster!

    Lets see in the US gov't we have the following agencies to "protect" the citizens






    And probably a few others. All of these agencies are empires in their own right and the interface between them is largely opaque and there is lots of redundancies and external friction.

    Why do we need another empire!

    BTW, Canada has one the RCMP.

  • by _fuzz_ ( 111591 ) <.me. .at. .davedunkin.com.> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:32PM (#4669540) Homepage
    Specify that an existing ban on the "advertisement" of any device that is used primarily for surreptitious electronic surveillance applies to online ads. The prohibition now covers only a "newspaper, magazine, handbill or other publication."

    Will this get rid of those X-10 pop-up ads? If so then I'm all for it!!! ;)

    (and I don't need to hear about how Mozilla can block those, I already know)

  • by jaredcoleman ( 616268 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:38PM (#4669603)

    That kind of surveillance would, however, be limited to obtaining a suspect's telephone number, IP address, URLs or e-mail header information--not the contents of online communications or telephone calls.

    I wonder... is email header information analogous to the address, return address, and postmark of a snail-mail letter? Is the post office currently allowed to track these w/o a warrant?

    How much time would the gov waste if we all sent blank emails to Kabul?

  • by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:45PM (#4669657) Homepage
    I'm no great Safire fan -- he is occasionally credibility impaired (he makes things up), his defense of Israel verges on blindness, he continually tries to rehabilitate his former employer Nixon, and so on. But on occasion he leaps out with the ferocity contained in the NYT column to defend civil liberties -- in the libertarian get-the-hell-out-of-my-backyard-you-government-spi es tradition -- and gets it right, in the morally correct sense. Because he has credibility with the right, his words here carry much greater political influence that a stack of Mother Jones and The Nation reaching to the Moon. And I am grateful for his courage; he could just as easily sit it out, or mouth the sonorous rah-rah rant of the police state crowd.

    Ensure to us citizens a country of security -- but without devastating our own. I have seriously begun to contemplate using cash more than traceable credit, and I'm not particularly paranoid, and yes I "don't have anything to hide." I just don't like buying a bag of Fritos wondering whether it will eventually raise my health insurance premiums because I don't eat right. Don't laugh, it could happen, in a thousand ways less fritoless (er, frivolous) than my example.

  • by smack_attack ( 171144 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @01:47PM (#4669676) Homepage

    I guess we don't need to know what happened, just what we were told what happened by the president.
    • http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/2002/nov06/thomas .html [mit.edu]
      also: http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/11.15E.thomas.cond emns.htm [truthout.org]


      Journalist Helen Thomas condemns Bush administration

      By Sarah H. Wright
      MIT News Office

      Veteran journalist Helen Thomas brought the grit and whir of a White House press conference to Bartos Theater on Monday evening, speaking with passion about the media's role in a democracy whose leaders seem eager for war.

      Actually, the 82-year-old former United Press International reporter didn't just speak: she surged into her topic, giving everyone present an immediate sense of the grumpy wit and fierce precision that gave her reporting on American presidents Kennedy through Bush II such a competitive and lasting edge.

      "I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter," said Thomas, who is now a columnist for Hearst News Service. "Now I wake up and ask myself, 'Who do I hate today?'" Her short list of answers seems not to vary from war, President Bush, timid office-holders, a muffled press and cowed citizens, pretty much in that order.

      Angered by what she views as the Bush administration's "bullying drumbeat," Thomas referred early and often to her own hatred of war, quoting from poets and politicians to bear down on President Bush and his colleagues.

      Winston Churchill, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Louis Brandeis, George Santayana, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. all made appearances in Thomas' sweeping portrayal of what she sees as the administration's betrayal of both the character and will of the American people and the principles of democracy.

      "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war. Bush's policy of pre-emptive war is immoral - such a policy would legitimize Pearl Harbor. It's as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam," she said to enthusiastic applause.

      Thomas ignored the clapping just as she once ignored the camera flashes and shouting matches of the Washington press corps.

      "Where is the outrage?" she demanded. "Where is Congress? They're supine! Bush has held only six press conferences, the only forum in our society where a president can be questioned. I'm on the phone to [press secretary] Ari Fleischer every day, asking will he ever hold another one? The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul."

      Like any star, Thomas, who resigned from UPI in 2000, appreciated her audience's thirst to get the insider's view of our national leaders, and she gave generously, in snapshots, though the Reagan and both Bush regimes were cast in darker hues.

      "Great presidents have great goals for mankind. During my years of covering the White House, Kennedy was the most inspired; Johnson rammed through voting rights and public housing; Nixon will be remembered for his trip to China and for his resignation; Ford for helping us recover from Nixon; and Carter for making human rights the centerpiece of foreign policy," Thomas said in an even, respectful tone. She just sighed over Clinton, who "tarnished the Oval Office."

      Thomas' mood became visibly more somber at the mention of Ronald Reagan's military buildup and at the name Bush. Again and again, Thomas warned the MIT audience, "It's bombs away for Iraq and on our civil liberties if Bush and his cronies get their way. Dissent is patriotic!"

      After her talk, Thomas participated in a panel discussion with MacVicar Faculty Fellows David Thorburn, professor of literature, and Charles Stewart III, professor of political science. Philip S. Khoury, dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, introduced the speakers.

      "Helen Thomas offered a very powerful indictment of the current behavior of the Bush presidency in her comments on the incoherence and inconsistency of Bush's policies and the danger to civil liberties of Bush's rhetoric," said Thorburn.

      He compared the lack of public awareness of an antiwar movement in 1965 and 1966 with the wide public debate about Iraq going on today. "An aroused citizenry can instruct the government," he said.

      Stewart also focused on the current public debate about Iraq, declaring that it may be a "hopeful sign. The polls say Americans don't want to talk about Iraq - they want to talk about the economy, about education. But the press has continued to point out the important thing. Everyone knows there's been a dance between the President and Congress over Iraq."

      Thomas didn't let the press off the hook, though. "Everybody learned the lessons of Vietnam, including the Pentagon. In Vietnam, correspondents could go anywhere - just hop on a helicopter and report on the war. Now we don't have that access. It's total secrecy. The media overlords should be complaining about this. I do not absolve the press. We've rolled over and played dead, too," she said.

      Asked to advise young journalists, Thomas pounced. "Remind the politicians you interview that you pay them, that they are public servants. Remember every question is legitimate. And don't give up. There's always a leak. There's always someone who's trying to save the country," she said.

      The talk was sponsored by the MIT Communications Forum.

  • by jackjumper ( 307961 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:04PM (#4669871)
    Did anyone read Saffire's column? Unbelievable.

    Here's the letter I just sent out to my representatives:

    I am writing to ask you to make every effort to prevent the so-called "Total Information Awareness" system that John Poindexter and the Defense Dept's Information Awareness Office want to create. This system would systematically snoop on most every public and private action that you take. My understanding is that a provision of the Homeland Security Act contains this odious measure. As William Saffire says in the New York Times (or is quoting him a DMCA violation?):

    "Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend -- all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."

    To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you -- passport application, driver's license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance -- and you have the supersnoop's dream: a "Total Information Awareness" about every U.S. citizen"

    This sort of surveillance should be absolutely repellent in an open and free society, and I am discusted that it is being considered at all. Personal privacy and government openness should be the hallmark of the United States. It seems that the Republican government wants to turn that on its head. This is an invitation to abuse - if we visit the ACLU web site are we going to be on some Defense Dept list? What about this letter? This measure would be an incredible chilling of free and open debate.

    This measure must be defeated.

    Thank you

    Tom Haviland
  • by khawaga ( 144956 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:07PM (#4669916)
    The big problem is the increasing scrutiny that we will all fall under. And the fact that we are moving towards a war under the vaguest of terms. Hate to do it, but I'm gonna have to drop a quote:

    "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power... Power is not a means; it is an end...not power over things, but over men...In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement...There will be no loyalty, except loyalty toward the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother... Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever. " - George Orwell
  • EFF Opposition (Score:3, Informative)

    by Caballero ( 11938 ) <daryll@@@daryll...net> on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:08PM (#4669929) Homepage
    You can read more about it and contact your senators.

    http://action.eff.org/action/index.asp?step=2&item =1723

  • In other news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cervantes ( 612861 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:41PM (#4670298) Journal
    The bill also tacks on loosely worded research funding for Texas A&M. It also lets the White House decide who gets hired and fired, bypassing employment standards regulations (who's gonna be suprised when it's 99% white?). The government can now slap wiretaps whereever they think appropriate, and ISPs can divulge information without fear of reprisal. The nice people who make the smallpox vaccine are now protected from litigation, as are the nice people who make metal detectors, and the nice security guards who man them. So when the big bad man carries his briefcase of smallpox through JFK International, you won't be able to sue anyone for reading Archie Digest when he was supposed to be watching the screen, and when it turns out your smallpox vaccine was in fact a dose of really, really dilluted cherry Kool-Aid, well, sucks to be you.

    In other news that undoubtedly went unreported, your faithful representatives have bitten the bullet, and given themselves another pay raise. Now your Reps, Senators, VP, and about 1000 other people (literally) make over $154,000 a year, not including kickbacks, expense budgets, under-the-table exchanges, contributions to their re-election fund...

    God Bless America.

    (I'm legally required to say that, now that Bush signed a bill re-emphasizing the importance of "God" in the pledge of alleigence, as well as "In god we trust" as your national motto. So much for separation of church and state, eh?)

    (And before your left-wingers start running your mouth off, I'll point out that the Democrats didn't oppose any of these bills, admitting that the soon-to-be Republican majority would make the effort useless. So much for standing up for what you believe in.)
  • by SuicidalSquirrel ( 97227 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:41PM (#4670301)
    Maybe if we all flood our Senators with the way we all feel about this bill instead of just ranting on Slashdot, they might actually notice. To get your Congressmen's email addresses (and links to their home pages for snail mail addresses) try this page [webslingerz.com]. Maybe you didn't vote (not like most of us had much in the way of a choice), but it's not too late to tell these people how Americans feel about the laws they want to govern us with.

    And is it just me, or are Congressmen's web pages very frightening places? I may have nightmares for days...

  • by refrain ( 151017 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:51PM (#4670400)
    As a concerned 11th-generation American, I'm completely aghast at this latest bit of totalitarian legislation. Evidently, the CSEA (and the USA PATRIOT Act, for that matter) won't require *any* government agency to have "probable cause" to read/acquire anyone's personal information anymore. The Executive Branch will not even have to report to the Judiciary or Legislature on its frequent-as-you-like cyber-dragnets. Just in case you Americans out there on /. weren't aware of it, the United States Constitution is supposed to protect you from this sort of unfettered tyrannical power. Here's the text of the Fourth Ammendment:

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    ("and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause" - well, I guess if we don't bother with the warrants anymore, it's not really violating the Constitution, now is it?)

    Granted, the Founding Fathers didn't include "emails" in the text. However, any reasonable interpretation of the intent of this Ammendment must include emails and other personal communications (as these protections had been extended to telephone conversations).

    Our government now has unlimited powers. My tax collector and the Dept. of Education may get to snoop into my private life at will. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: we no longer have a Rule of LAW in this nation. We now have a Rule of POLITICS. The politicos, the senators and congressmen who may pass this anti-American rubbish into law, should they do so, will be in direct violation of their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

    We are now ruled by the lawless (viz Adm. Poindexter, convicted felon). And by the time We The People give a damn, Soviet Russia will look libertine in comparrison!

    I just hope I don't get arrested for saying that one day.
  • I guess... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by talks_to_birds ( 2488 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @02:57PM (#4670483) Homepage Journal
    ...that the only real thought I have about all this is that, since this is going to be done by the government, it probably won't work..

    I mean, they're sure to screw it up.


  • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Thursday November 14, 2002 @03:22PM (#4670782)

    We all knew that this was going to happen. Most of us, anyway, saw it several years ago. DMCA, Stamp Tax. SSSCA, Tea Tax. Homeland Security Act, Boston Massacre. Did any of you pass American History? America did not rebel because Britain suddenly unilaterally invaded the shores with thousands of troups; It rebelled because the British Parliament steadily eroded what the colonists perceived as their basic rights. Insert citizens for 'colonists' and congress for 'parliament' and you'll see we find ourselves in exactly the same predicament now.

    On the one hand, you have a legal/democratic system that supposedly protects and represents your rights as a citizen. On the other hand, you have the reality of experience which says that congresspeople in D.C. don't really give a damn what you think. Frankly, your name isn't on that fat check they got for their reelection. Therefore, you don't count.

    So, the question once and again is, what are you going to do about it, sitting in your dimly lit basement out in suburb USA? Let's look at the list of possible responses:

    1. Do nothing. Result: This stuff still happens and pisses you off

    2. Bitch on Slashdot. Result: This stuff still happens and pisses you off.

    3. Write a letter to your Congressman. Result: This stuff still happens and pisses you off.

    4. Vote. Result: This stuff still happens and pisses you off.

    5. All of the above and join the EFF. Result: This stuff still happens and pisses you off.

    6. Stand up and protest, take to the streets. Result: people in power pay lip-service to your cause. Mostly, this stuff still happens and pisses you off

    7. Go on strike, refuse to return to work until stuff changes. Result: People in power pay lip-service to your cause, try to co-opt the outrage of your movement for their own gain. Pretty much this stuff still happens and pisses you off.

    8. Form a political party and vote for candidates who support the way stuff outta be. Result: Opposition parties roll over and fawn over your agenda while working behind the scenes to undermine it.

    9. Armed insurrection. Result: A whole lotta innocent people die. Old regime is sent to the wall to be shot. New regime ?

    The way I see it, slashdotters and champions of liberty ought to be on level 5 looking to jump to levels 6&7. Bring Wall Street and every corporate LAN to a standstill with a sick-out and you'll start to see some action. Advancing to higher levels would be great, but anything less will get you a big fat nothing.

    Now, as my high school history teacher liked to say: "chew and digest."
    • Do you think that it's even possible to get to Level 7 anymore? To create a movement with more than a handful of participants, you need some serious communication. With the power that is in the hands of the federal government now, it's a trivial exercise to stop this kind of activity before it gets a chance to orgainize (with subtle threats and/or payoffs).

      Your example of bringing Wall Street to a standstill by a walk-out of all IT workers sounds like Level 7 to me. How would you propose to organize such an event? You certainly couldn't do it quietly. You would be undermined in your efforts by the businesses you are trying to affect (their employees threatened with firing if they participate), and you yourself would likely be charged as a terrorist! All the rest would quietly fall back in line.

      The civil rights battles of the '60s worked because the issue (black inequality) was one that all but the most bigotted person could see the truth in, and because there was such a large population of people who felt oppressed. It certainly didn't hurt that they were represented by a brave and charasmatic leader in Martin Luther King.

      What's different today? Well, far fewer people (as a percentange of the population) are concerned enough with privacy and freedom to make enough noise to the apathetic majority. We don't have someone (yet) willing to stick his neck out on a grand scale (and likely die) for these issues. And (as I said above) the ability of the government to quietly diffuse dissention has improved by an order of magnitude since the '60s.

      Unfortunately, it seems to me that there are no intermediate steps any longer. The percentage of the population that falls into the "pissed off" catagory will grow until we hit Level 9 spontaneously, and that will be exceptionally ugly. It will also take years (with no previous levels to gather organization, the revolt will be chaotic and largely ineffective for a long time) for the current regime to fall, and the "new regime" will take that much longer to establish itself. Don't expect a united country when you're done with this, either: after such a period of chaos, there's no way anybody could pull the whole of the country back together, at least not right away.

      Maybe China will invade first, and the US will be spared self-destruction.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.