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Senate Committee Votes to Authorize Warrentless Wiretapping 927

LividBlivet writes, "The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that not only authorizes, but extends, US warrentless wiretapping. No accountability. No oversight. No definition of 'terrorist.' No record of who voted for what. Great way to devolve a democratic republic into a fascist theocracy. Me worried? Yea." Here is the text of SB2453, the National Security Surveillance Act (PDF). Confusingly, the committee also voted out two other bills, one of which "all but declares the warrantless wiretapping illegal," according to Wired.
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Senate Committee Votes to Authorize Warrentless Wiretapping

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  • Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:06AM (#16103443) Homepage Journal
    I don't know who is more dangerous, the "Islamofascists" who are behind terrorism or the Neocons who are willing and able to give away all of our Constitutional rights and freedoms. The thing that gets me is that I cannot see an endgame to the Neocon strategy as it is based on a continued fear and principals of isolationism. What are they getting out of the deal by giving away our rights?

    Your first chance, should you disagree with these strategies (rights erosion, elimination of civil liberties, etc...etc...etc...) is to exercise your Constitutionally given rights (for now) and vote this November for a change. Elect those individuals that will best represent the people, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at home and abroad. Make these people responsible for what they say and do by linking their jobs to their implemented law and take back your country.

  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Franio ( 964631 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:09AM (#16103467)
    And what do we do when "individuals that will best represent the people, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights at home and abroad" are not on the ballot?
  • by Kainaw ( 676073 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:12AM (#16103491) Homepage Journal
    Going to Thomas - where the REAL text of the bill is located - it clearly requires FISC and Congressional oversight. It does allow for emergency authorization of a wiretap, but not without later Congressional oversight. So, without meeting the narrow definition of an "emergency", these wiretaps have to be authorized by FISC and then go to Congressional oversight. How is that considered "no oversight"?
  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:12AM (#16103495)
    Or, what do we do when they are on the ballot, and the people vote for them, but the official election results once again differ wildly from exit poll results, as they hve in every election since 2000?

    Exit polls were the gold standard of election forcasting...until 2000. Funny...that's when all the trouble started, isn't it?
  • No worries here. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boyfaceddog ( 788041 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:13AM (#16103508) Journal
    This is just political tactics. These loosers will tack this brick onto some Democratic feel-good bill, like free Housing for All, or National Health Care, or Puppies are Good.. Then the Dems will be forced to kill their own bill and the GOP will tell the world how the Evil Democratic Party (tm) doesn't like National Health Care or poor people or puppies.
  • by knightmad ( 931578 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:16AM (#16103527)
    From where did this "Islamofascist" expression came? I'm not a native english speaker, and this expression makes absolute no sense, except if I'm missing some context-dependent information that is out there. Islamic theocracy (that is, according to the most distorted views on both sides, the ultimate goal of the islamic terrorism) and fascism are so different concepts that "islamofascism" sounds like an oxymoron.

    I don't know, I'm guessing here, but it sounds like an attempt to label the "other side" fascist, in order to evoke towards them the anti-fascist feelings that survived after the WWII, and also to avoid to be labeled themselves as fascists.

    Anyway, it is a lame expression (meme) and I doubt there is an equivalent for it currently in use in any other country/language.
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:17AM (#16103543)
    Stick a fork in the Republic, it's done.

    Ave Caesar!

  • Filibuster (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:19AM (#16103557)
    Consider encouraging Democratic (and Republican - though that's unlikely) senators to filibuster this.

    Senator contact list []

    It looks like filibusteris the only realistic option [] on this one.

    Oh, and vote however you prefer to end this destruction of personal and public liberties in November. I'd HIGHLY suggest Democratic in most cases this election.

    Ryan Fenton
  • Re:Vote! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HiroProtagonist ( 56728 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:20AM (#16103571) Homepage
    Run for office.
  • by helifex ( 921775 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:21AM (#16103589)
    I agree. It's an absurd construction. I (like you) assume they believe that labeling thier enemy fascists will help misdirect the publics attention from there fascist behavior.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tgd ( 2822 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:22AM (#16103593)
    I don't know who is more dangerous

    When is the last time you were directly threatened by a "islamofacist"?

    Yup, me neither.

    Gues we know the answer to that question, then.
  • by ChePibe ( 882378 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:23AM (#16103601)
    No definition of 'terrorist.'

    While I realize the author's complaint regarding the law, it should be noted that the definition of terrorist has changed at least a dozen times since the term was coined in the 1790's - scholars who study terrorism for a living still don't have a working definition of what it means to be a terrorist that is widely accepted, and most books I've seen on the matter take about a chapter to come up with a loose working definition but ultimately apply a "you know it when you see it" approach.

    Defining a term whose meaning moves a great deal - and has strayed so far from its original meaning - is no easy task, and present USG definitions from State and DoD aren't too satisfying either.
  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:23AM (#16103605)
    "Of course, with Republicans owning (not by 2/3 thank god) the majority in the house, the majority in the senate and the white house, what else would you expect?"
    To be perfectly honest, I don't think you could really expect Democrats to do much better. The party has cozied up to Bush and the GOP to such an extent in recent years that they have completely lost the will to provide any real challenge to the administration beyond the occasional displeased remark, or half-hearted disagreement with a particular bill/nominee/etc.

    They let Bush have his way for so long, I don't even think they realize how pathetic they've become.
  • by MECC ( 8478 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:24AM (#16103629)
    Actually, by declaring 'war on terror' (the pretense for invading Iraq and his mad rush for 'war powers'), GWB has done something that hasn't happened since King Charles I of England started a war with Scotland in 1637 without consulting Parliament. Parliament later didn't give him an army when the Irish rebelled, and in 1649 beheaded Charles.

    GWB is trying to take the country in the direction of Caesar-like rule, in that a leader under the pretense of fighting defending the empire/country could act with total impunity and a complete lack of accountability. He's actively fighting the constitution itself, even though he twice swore to defend it. Separation of powers in a standing government isn't just a hallmark of democracy - its a sign of being a civilized society.

    Also, its one thing to temporarily alter the separation and balance of powers laid out in the US constitution during a time of war - but in this case war has not been declared, and it also a 'war' with absolutely no end in site. As long as there is one terrorist group "plotting and planning", the undeclared war will continue. This is clearly a grab for permanent power, and he's using the pain of 9/11 to do it.

  • How Congress works (Score:2, Insightful)

    by glorpy ( 527947 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:32AM (#16103698)
    As a reminder to those of you who want to believe that the Senate is a rubber stamp for its committees, Senate and House committees are merely supposed to filter out the meaningless and/or ineffective gibberish, not decide whether they should become law or not. By that standard, they did their jobs.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daigu ( 111684 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:34AM (#16103715) Journal
    What are they getting out of the deal by giving away our rights?

    Easy question to answer. More money and more power.

    Make these people responsible for what they say and do...

    The problem with American-style "democracy" is that it is all too easy to control the tyranny of the majority. It is easy to move from tyranny of the majority to simply tyranny. The major problem is not the people in power - they simply exploited the flaws in the system to their advantage. The major problem is that the system can be gamed by profiling voters, media control (did you see that extended ad by the president that he did from the Oval Office a few days ago?) and so forth.

    The sad fact is that despite this administration's incompetence on everything from Iraq to Katrina, it is still going to be a tight race. If the Democrats happen to take back a piece of Congress, they might become a minor thorn - but these guys will never see the jail terms they so richly deserve. Further, they have set the precedent where this will happen again a few presidents from now - and it will likely be even worse.

    So, let's not pretend that voting this November is anything major shall we? Yes, people should vote and we should do what we can to deal with the immediate problem - but it does not solve the bigger issue.

  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jtharpla ( 531787 ) <> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:34AM (#16103729) Homepage
    Actually, technically we're not at war. The President publicly declared the end of the war in Iraq like 3 years ago. And Congress never voted him new authority to be at war. So while there's cleary still conflict, the President does not have the authority, as his war powers ended 100 days after he declared an end to hostilities. The fact that this sticky point has been missed by most people shows that we have already come to accept the rewiting of the past to fit the present, just as Orwell feared. Yes, this truly is the Long War--the end of which will always be conviently adjusted to fit those in power.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:36AM (#16103754)
    I'd expect backwards inbred bills with either party owning majority over all three branches.

    It's the whole "party" crap that's the problem. These people supposedly have important jobs to do but instead of trying to do them to the best of their ability their busy playing the most moronic games you can imagine based around whether the president, or a potential judge or whoever, is a member of their gang or the other gang. It's stupid, it's pathetic and it's dangerous.
  • by dereference ( 875531 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:40AM (#16103787)
    The President is tasked in a time of war to protect the country as he/she sees fit, and guess what we are at war. Our enemy has said that they are at war with us.

    Oh, I see. So I guess Congress no longer needs to declare war, what with all the bureacratic trivialities of debate and voting; as long as our "enemy" says we're at war, we are. Ah, that should be a real time-saver. I sure hope that's a troll, but I fear you were serious (albeit terribly misguided).

    Yes, Congress grants special power to the President in a time of declared war, but only when Congress agrees indeed there is a war. The "war" on terror, the "war" on drugs, and the "war" on child pornography are all marketing campaigns at best, not actual legally-declared wars.
  • by kent_eh ( 543303 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:40AM (#16103788)
    As someone who has been a tourist in your country often in the past, I am worried.

    And I haven't travelled to the Paranoid States of America since 2001. Nor do I have any plans to travel there in the forseeable future.

    Just keep off my damn lawn.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cheeze ( 12756 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:43AM (#16103812) Homepage
    Can we declare war against an intangible target?

    War on Terror is hardly a war in the definition of the word. War on Drugs is the same way.

    Who and what are we at war with right now?

    Afghanistan? Didn't we win and pull most of our troops to Iraq?
    Iraq? I thought Bush declared "Mission Accomplished"
    Terror? Terror comes in all forms, including saying things like "if we pull out of Iraq, we will be attacked again."
  • by CaymanIslandCarpedie ( 868408 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:45AM (#16103839) Journal
    Just because I was curious about a more exact meaning of "fascit" (wasn't really sure the exact meaning through out time) I ran to wikipedia for a quick read and found this among the descriptions about fascits.

    This meant embracing nationalism and mysticism, and advancing ideals of strength and power as means of legitimacy, glorifying war as an end in itself and victory as the determinant of truth and worthiness. An affinity to these ideas can be found in Social Darwinism. These ideas are in direct opposition to the ideals of humanism and rationalism characteristic of the Age of Enlightenment, from which liberalism and, later, Marxism would emerge.

    and I'm left thinking..... which side of this "war on terror" does this sound like?
  • by knightmad ( 931578 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:46AM (#16103858)
    You know what is sad? Being a Brazilian (and consequently a South American), I've studied (and saw the demise of) the exactly same thing that is happenning now on the U.S.: a mix of fascist and populist government, conducted mostly by the militar and industrial elite. It's all the seventies again, but this time, on North America instead of down South, and without the clear military coup. It is a proven working tactic: unite the people against a common enemy (like Argentina against England over Falklands/Maldivas island) so there is a "us vs. them" feeling, leaving no room to internal dissent, stir passionated nationalism (like Brasil with the Football world cups), use the internal GDP growth as a way to create an illusion of prosperity while, in the reality, the only thing that is growing is a concentration of the wealth (on of the Brasilian military slogans was something like "let's first make the cake grow and later, to share it", what, of course, never happen), institucionalize mistreatment of prisoners (you think CIA is not torturing, well, they taught Latin America dictators the joys of the interrogation tactics in the Escuela de las americas, and they used it gladly against the average joe when they got ride of all dissidents), etc.

    The saddest part is that, at least down here, people took 30 years even to realize what was happenning, and even if the military regimes came down, people in politics are still the same, only changed the party names.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gr8_phk ( 621180 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:49AM (#16103883)
    The President is tasked in a time of war to protect the country as he/she sees fit, and guess what we are at war. Our enemy has said that they are at war with us.
    There are a couple problems with that. 1) Only congress can declare war - and hence enable the wartime powers of the president (see that constitution thing). Foreign governments (or anyone else) can not invoke an escalation of the presidents power - duh. 2) Even if I concede that we are at war, who is the enemy? How do we decide when it's over? A war on "terrorism" is not well defined - you can always say there may be someone plotting something that falls under that term. We have not had a "terrorist" atrack on the US in 5 years. Where is this war you speak of? Iraq? That's "peace keeping", not war any more.

    Yes, the modern world has problems that were not anticipated when the constitution was written. However, the behavior of the current administration IS the type of thing the constitution was designed to protect us from, and those protections are getting thrown out. OK, as far as I know, bush is not an evil dictator and probably has good intentions. But how do we know the next guy won't be? Or the one after that? What about behind the scenes abuse of a system challenged only in "secret" courts? WTF? New laws enacted without record of who voted for them? WTF? Now that I think of it, your post must just be an attempt to stir the pot. I guess that makes me a sucker for responding.

  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The AtomicPunk ( 450829 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:51AM (#16103910)
    I wasn't aware exit polls showed Libertarians winning ...

    Surely you aren't so blind as to think this is a republicrat vs. demopublican issue. They both approved the war, they both approved the patriot act. There's no real dissent, except for a handful of folks -- like Ron Paul (Libertarian in Republican clothing)

    As long as YOU keep voting for either one of the two halves of the dominant party, we're all screwed.

    The "football team" voters that root for "their" team regardless of what they stand for, and rationalize everything their team does, are the real cause of all our problems.

  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:51AM (#16103914) Homepage Journal
    I plan to vote this November.

    Thank you. It is your right.

    ...because I'm convinced that the "good guys" (and we ARE them, by & large) cannot win against an insidious, merciless, and determined enemy by being Dudley Do-Right and playing with one hand tied behind their back.

    If you are not willing to do what is *right*, then you have already lost any moral high ground. There are times that one needs to stand up for what is good and reject efforts to take from others what we have written into our governing documents. Conflicts can be resolved and yes, sometimes fought much more effectively with creativity, thought and carefully planned action. However, with a culture of doing what we are told and not questioning or thinking, we appear to be willing to cede power to those who appease us with thoughts of fear and shiny things.

    I couldn't care LESS if the government is reading my emails, listening to my telephone calls, or keeping me under direct surveillance, aside from being annoyed that they're wasting their time. Yawn.

    This is a fundamental problem. What happens when you get caught up in this because one of your co-workers does something unacceptable to whomever might be in power. The thing to realize is that this government as it currently stands, may represent you and your beliefs, but individuals change and governments slowly morph and the constituency changes (and the US is changing). So, if you are willing to give your government so much power, what happens in 50 years when they do not represent you or your beliefs? Think down the road just a little more...

    No, I don't believe the sky is falling, EITHER.

    While the sky is not falling, the US is only a couple hundred years old. There have been stable governments in history that have persisted for much longer than we have been around because of principals of government. When their principals changed or altered beyond a critical tipping point, those governments failed.

  • by QCompson ( 675963 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:53AM (#16103932)
    This is just political tactics.

    No special tactics are required here. By and large, this isn't framed as an issue of civil liberties, this is framed as an issue of national security. The majority of democrats in the House and Senate are too frightened to be called "weak on national security" to come close to opposing this. The republicans have been extremely successful in narrowing election topics to exactly what they want. The only issue that matters in November? War on terror and national security. Other important issues such as health care, the deficit, education, etc. are barely mentioned if mentioned at all. Iraq is often discussed, but the republicans have been very adept at morphing the war in Iraq into some sort of larger world war against terrorism (and thus any criticism of the war in Iraq is a tacit support for terrorism).

    The democrats will lose once again in November, because they never learn their lesson. Instead of choosing their own political battles, they willingly march right into the trap set up by the republicans. The campaign slogan of, "Look at me! I'm just as tough as that guy when it comes to terrorism! I'm just like him but I have a "D" next to my name!" isn't going to work.

  • by protohiro1 ( 590732 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:55AM (#16103950) Homepage Journal
    Narrow definition? I have read this bill, and it requires the most minimal oversight I could imagine. The president and attorney general can do WHATEVER they want as long as they sign an avidavit that says that it was important and then inform the congress about it after the fact. There is no teeth to the requirements and nowhere does it say when, if ever, the courts or congress could stop this activity. Ok Shaun, think about this for a minute. Do you really want to give the president and future, possibly democratic, presidents this power? How would you feel about Bill Clinton being able to tap your phone without warrent or court order merely by asserting (not proving or demonstrating) that you were talking to a terrorist?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:57AM (#16103965)
    uhmm... Both?
  • Re:Vote! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eccles ( 932 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:57AM (#16103967) Journal
    Do you like the ~$1250 we've paid so far per-person for the war in Iraq? As a part of a family of four, I know I'd like my five grand back.
  • by sethg ( 15187 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:00AM (#16103982) Homepage
    you think CIA is not torturing, well, they taught Latin America dictators the joys of the interrogation tactics in the Escuela de las americas, and they used it gladly against the average joe when they got ride of all dissidents

    As an American, I'm starting to feel like those were the good old days--when US officials were sufficiently embarrassed by torture that they tried not to get the blood directly on their hands.

    And I thank God that Bush is not as smart as, say, Pinochet [] or Stroessner []....
  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smilindog2000 ( 907665 ) <> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:01AM (#16103988) Homepage
    We exported freedom during Bush Seniors term, and continued it through Clinton's term. The Berlin Wall fell during Bush Senior, and we ended the Cold War. Bloodless revolutions for freedom and democracy happened throughout the world.

    This happened not because we rattled our sabers and conquered the oppressors. It happened because we made a shining example of what democracy can be, and because we convinced the world of our sincerity for a united world in peace. We earned the world's respect, and that made all the difference.

    Bush Junior has destroyed all that. Now the world arms itself to defend against us. We are no longer trusted. We no longer exemplify freedom, democracy, and human rights. Hopefully the EU can continue the cause while we figure out how to fix our broken democracy.

    There is exactly one person in Washington who represents your district in the House of Representatives. If he's a Democrat, his vote does not count. If he's a Republican, his vote will be whatever Bush wants, so again, his vote does not count. Is this a working democracy?
  • by oc255 ( 218044 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `klifklim'> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:02AM (#16104003) Homepage
    And most of this "warfare" legislation is happening within the borders of the US. This isn't wiretapping in Iraq.
  • by twifosp ( 532320 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:04AM (#16104015)
    Uhm, one moemnt please, let me check with our voting population.

    Ok, the two geysers in the back said no.

    The young hipster who listens to NPR said "Leave me alone you facist, I'm trying to protest a highway here".

    The under educated rural American could not be reached for reply. Allthough one of her 7 kids did throw a rock at my car.

    The middle class family I spoke with said, and I quote, "what are you talking about, this is America you left wing commie pinko terrorist supporting liberal". Well, at least the Father did, between commercials of Fox and Friends. The mother had no idea who her senator was, and the kids were trying to talk to me about government responsibility and all kinds of neat stuff, but who cares what they think, they were only 11 and 13. Not old enough to have purchasing power, or vote, so they don't exist.

    Well that's about your voting population. All 15% of em.

    Yea, so your answer is... no.

  • Democracy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hutchike ( 837402 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:06AM (#16104034) Homepage Journal

    From the article: "Specter has moved to have his bill voted upon next week by voice vote, called a unanimous consent motion, according to the ACLU's Graves. Such a procedure would leave no record of who voted for or against the bill." It sure gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to know that "freedom-loving Americans" are spreading their open and accountable flavour of democracy arould the world - not!

    According to the US Constition's 4th Amendment: "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." Now is the time to start helping the ACLU [] and EFF [] to bring this unconstitutional fascism before a federal court ASAP!

  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:10AM (#16104063)
    But yeah, al-q is real, and so were the London, India, USS Cole (sp?), etc. bombings - so not taking threats seriously - and personally - is pretty damned stupid.

    I've lived, studied and worked in London for 13 years now. I was on my way in to work when the bombs went off last year; I walked past police officers leading some rather shocked looking people away from (I assume) a bus. I was here when the IRA were still actively targetting the main land, I was here when some nutter was detonating nail bombs (one in a pub just round the corner from where I worked), I was here when a bus blew up outside the BBC building, etc.

    I guess I must be stupid though, as I certainly don't take the threat personally. Nor do I support some of the more egregious measures that are being taken in the name of the so-called war on terror. I refuse to allow myself to be cowed by the vague threat of being involved in an attack. I have far, far more chance of being killed crossing the road than I do of being blown up.

    Sure, the threat is real, and should be taken seriously. However, it seems to me that a lot of the things that are being done are knee-jerk overreactions that we'll be lucky not to regret in the future. I worry about the sort of world my daughter is going to end up living in, as much for the direction my country seems to be heading in as for the threat of terrorism.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fotbr ( 855184 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:12AM (#16104077) Journal
    Can't speak for anyone else, but I refuse to talk to exit poll people. My vote is my own damned business. And I've seen many, many people tell the exit pollers to go jump off a cliff (or other not-so-polite words to that effect).

    Maybe I just never understood why, when the exit polls said one thing, and the actual counted results show something else, it MUST be the counted results that were wrong, and not the exit polls that had incomplete data in the first place.

    That said, I'm convinced there were shennanigans from both sides in 2000 and 2004 -- but taking exit polls as fact is fundamentally flawed.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gulthek ( 12570 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:13AM (#16104084) Homepage Journal
    Mathematically infeasible. Socially infeasible. Logically tenuous.

    Your position seems based on ideals rather than rationality.

    The "football team" voters that root for "their" team regardless of what they stand for, and rationalize everything their team does, are the real cause of all our problems.

    Retort: the idealistic voters who ignore the fact that we have a two party political system and, instead of choosing the better of the two candidates available, choose to throw their votes away and allow the conservative side to gain a numeric advantage are the real cause of all our (political) problems.

    Note: Neo-Con takeover of the republican party. Salient point: existing parties can be almost completely reformed to new goals and ideals. Conclusion: possible to work within the system to achieve a goal.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:15AM (#16104105)
    The only way to keep the government from becoming a police state is to never give it the power to do so in the first place. You have to be insane to give this much authority over your life to the government. Will you trust it so much when Hillary is in control?

    You are a coward. You can't deal with the fact that freedom means that danger is sometimes unavoidable.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CreatureComfort ( 741652 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:20AM (#16104141)

    I always wonder when one of Bush's apologists trots out this arguement, just how far are you willing to take it?

    Your statement, "The President is tasked in times of war to protect the country as he/she sees fit," is a tremendously broad interpretation of the actual wording of the Constitution []. Before we get into those facts however, taking you at your word, since obviously to Mr. Bush he is the only person with the ability and vision to press this "war" to a conclusion, would you support his suspending free elections until the conflict is over? After all, one of those cowardly, treasonous Democrats might win a popular election, and obviously that would bad for the country. Why letting that happen, when Bush could stop it, might even be treasonous in itself by your, and his, arguement. Are you willing to take it that far?

    Now to burst your tiny little neocon bubble (inflated with the blustering breath of Limbaugh and Hannity), the Constitution, Article II only grants and requires the Exective to perform the following actions related to this discussion. Section 1 - "Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: 'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'" Also, Section 2 - "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;" Now, where in those words do you see the authorization for the President to "do as he/she sees fit"? BTW, since you are obviously so sincere in your respect for the Constitution, Article II - Section 8 makes it very clear that only Congress can declare war, to enable the Executive to exercise any extraordinary powers possibly granted in any other portion of the laws of this country. Congress has not done so, despite the rhetoric of the far right, and therefor your entire arguement about this being legal for the President is absurd.

    It's called checks and balances. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

  • Re:Vote! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by demigod ( 20497 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:27AM (#16104209) not taking threats seriously - and personally - is pretty damned stupid.

    Take the threat seriously by all means, but keep it in proportion. I heard the other day that you are more likely to kill yourself than be killed by a terrorist.

    Let's not forget other things more dangerous than terrorism, I'll just list a few.

    • Heart disease
    • Cancer
    • Drunk drivers
    • Not drunk drivers
    • homicide
    • AIDs
    • Firearms
    • ladders
    • Drowning
    • ...
    Fear can lead to the destruction our country. Something terrorist could never accomplish.

  • Re:A question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:27AM (#16104212)
    >I'm curious as to how the Fourth Ammendment protects you from having your international phone conversation tapped by agents from the other country you are talking to.

    Ask yourself, if the framers had had telephones, would they have included them in the forth amendment or not? My thinking is that they absolutely would have, as the British would have been tapping them like crazy to get those 'Colonial Terrorists'.
  • by Woldry ( 928749 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:32AM (#16104264) Journal
    Son't be silly. Once the Democrats win, they will find some other justification for keeping this act intact. No politician of any party would willingly relinquish power handed to them, no matter how bitterly they protested seeing that power handed to the OTHER guy.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:33AM (#16104273)

    Unless I'm reading it wrong, the parent poster's point is that until 2000, exit polling did jive with the actual result of the election. After 2000, it did not. Regardless of how flawed exit polls are, the dichotomy indicates a problem unless public behavior radically changed (and I don't think it has).

  • Re:Vote! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:34AM (#16104274)
    Instant Runoff voting [] - Removes the "throwing away your vote" issue, if they'll implement it.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:36AM (#16104292)

    "Fun" Fact: Public offices have minimum age requirements. For example, you can't be President unless you're at least 35 years old. Therefore, at least in terms of national politics, the scenario you describe can never happen.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:40AM (#16104330)
    Actually, everyone pretty much cherry-picks and interprets whatever they want out of the Bible. If you do this, you can justify or condemn ANYTHING, after-the-fact or otherwise.

    Like war? No problem. Jesus came to bring war. (Matthew 10:34)

    Hate war? No problem. Jesus warns you not to live by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)

    Whatever you want to support or condemn, from candy to stem cell research, there's a Bible passage for you. Pull it out, generously sprinkle on some interpretation, and BAM!--a religious belief of your very own.


  • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:40AM (#16104331) Homepage Journal
    "I'm convinced that the "good guys" (and we ARE them, by & large) cannot win against an insidious, merciless, and determined enemy by being Dudley Do-Right and playing with one hand tied behind their back. "

    You really aren't paying attention to what the issue is, are you?

    You've fallen hook line and sinker for the Neocon talking points.

    This isn't about the government's ability to get a wire tap and listen to those conversations. No one is trying to block that.

    This is about the fact that the constitution requires the government to get a damn warrant.

    During the Clinton administration, laws were passed allowing them to get those warrants after the fact, up to 72 hours after placing them!

    Tell me, how is requiring the government to be accountable for it's actions going to give the terrorists a leg up?

    How the HELL is requiring the government to follow the constitution, to actually leave a damn paper trail of who they're spying on, going to help terrorist?
  • Re:Vote! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Faylone ( 880739 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:41AM (#16104339)
    Excuse me while I climb up off the floor from laughing. "when the war is over"? Your thinking is great, as long as you assume the 'war' will end, and that they'd be willing to give up power if it did.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:43AM (#16104354)
    Mathematically infeasible. Socially infeasible. Logically tenuous.

    Only while people like you continue sitting on your arse doing nothing but insisting that the status quo is the best that can be expected. Politics is a participation sport.

    instead of choosing the better of the two candidates available

    You're making the assumption that it matters which of the two main parties you vote for, the policies remain the same. The biggest difference seems to be the way they want to pay for things, either taxation or inflation.

  • by Maximilio ( 969075 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:44AM (#16104374) Homepage Journal
    Fascist behavior like a members of Congress basically threating ABC to have their FCC license revoked for broadcasting free propaganda, and an ex-President also calling the ABC president asking for a movie to pulled because it slanderously portrayed entirely fictional episodes that shifted historical blame from a sitting president to an ex-president. . . .

  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by .killedkenny ( 589139 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:56AM (#16104516)
    One problem with that. Any Dems or Reps listed on the ballot have already sold their souls.

    Don't give me any malarky about voting for the "lesser of two evils". If you do that, you are VOTING FOR EVIL, and you deserve this broken government.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maximilio ( 969075 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:59AM (#16104543) Homepage Journal
    And being that 9/11/2001 actually happened, the threats of 9/11/2006 shouldn't be taken so lightly.

    You're more at risk of dying of the flu. Get a sense of perspective.

  • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @10:59AM (#16104548) Homepage Journal
    What part of Needing a Warrant do you NOT understand? Why is the need for a warrant something you're so eager to piss away? DO you understand that warrantless searches were one of the things the Revolutionaries were pissed off about when they started the Revolution in the first place??? Do you know ANY of the history behind WHY we require warrants?

    As for the whole "It has to be renewed every year" nonsense, all it takes is one rider in one bill to remove that Sunset clause. We saw that happen with The Patriot Act.
  • Encrypted!

    Seriously. The only thing that bugs me is I cannot get a good, wireless, portable encryption platform. My GSM cell phone might as well be an open book. Other than that, my SIP communication, and my GPG e-mail should be moderately difficult for the "powers that be" to crack.

    If all communication was encrypted, even if that encryption is breakble, the computational needs of large scale data mining would be impossible. If you need an NSA super computer to crack every e-mail, and it takes 1 hour of processor time per e-mail, you can't very well analyze one billion e-mails a day.
  • I did read the PDF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KarmaOverDogma ( 681451 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:03AM (#16104585) Homepage Journal
    Excluding the currently proposed revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, FISA already provides for the oversight of Wiretapping via the FISA Courts and Congress.

    Consider the following Facts:

    1) The FISA Court has the authority to hear and issue decicions in a completely secret manner, so that if the court chooses, neither the case or its decision will be made public. The FISA court has, on very rare (and mostly recent occasions) occasions chosen to state its decisions publicly, but this is quite unusual.

    2) From wikipedia ( _Surveillance_Act#FISA_court): "Proceedings before the FISA court are ex parte and non-adversarial. The court hears evidence presented solely by the Department of Justice. There is no provision for a release of information regarding such hearings, or for the record of information actually collected." This means that unless the FISA Court chooses to publicly release its findings, its decisions cannot be challenged by any other court (including SCOTUS) save the FISA appeals court, which only met once in US history, in 2002.

    3) FISA already has provisions which allow for the President to temporarily bypass the 11 member court, in cases that he deems of sufficient need, as long as the case is brought before it soon after. The President (via U.S. AG Alberto Gonzales) has acknowledged this provision but essentially said that it is too much trouble to have to go back to the FISA court every time he wants to start a new round of spying programs or make changes to them.

    Why then, is it neccessary to make any more changes to FISA?

    I did read the SB2453: like most bills it is full of very specific verbage and definitions. From what I could digest of it it has a lot of room for a President to wiggle through (IANAL, but the ACLU which has plenty of them and found it "stunning"). I also read the wired article. SB2453 makes me nervous precisely for the reasons you cite, listed below:

    "1) It's for people communicating the terrorists"
    Duh. And Who has the legal authority to define what terrorist is? While congress could define such security terms narrowly they usually do not, deferring to President, the DOJ or the Department of State. The DOJ and DOS heads are nominated by, guess who? the President, and rubber stamped by Congress. Judging by how many people in the US are subjeced to this domestic spying program, the current President has shown he thinks a lot of US citizens could be terrorists. That bothers me, but even more is the idea that FISA courts can be ignored completely here.

    "2) It's being overseen by a court."
    See my above comments.

    "3) it's ALSO being overseen by Congress."
    As I stated in the beginning, FISA is already under the jurisdiction of Congress but as a whole it has demontrated remarkably little oversight to the public with respect to the current domestic surveillance. Their "solution" to the President's illgal wiretapping of citizens has been to propose this bill, which purports to make it legal. So much for the concept that no one is above the law. I doubt the courts will allow it to stand. That is, if they even get the opportunity to review it; under the proposed bill normal citizens will no longer have the right to do challenge it, only the FISA court will, and it rarely lets us know what's going on.

    I think our best hope is for SCOTUS to declare the current program unconstitutional, but because Judge Taylor was so left wing in her outspoken criticism of the program, I think the strength of her decision has been weakened by it; IMO there was plenty unconsitutional about the program without having to spout so much left leaning platitudes.

    To sum it up: your argument is a Red Herring.

    Republicans are always so good at talking about how Government is intrusive and bad, but are almost always the first in line to vote our civil liberties away, one bill at a time. Then enough meek Democrats follow along for fear of being labled "soft on terrorism." The whole thing disgusts me.

    I know who I'll be voting for in November.
  • by Scaba ( 183684 ) <joe@joefra n c> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:12AM (#16104674)
    What we need to invent is a single word meme for End Times Christian Fundamentalist Neo Conservative.

    We have one: Republican

  • Paranoid? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maximilio ( 969075 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:19AM (#16104733) Homepage Journal
    I just listened to an interview with someone on NPR, a British citizen who spent 3 years at gitmo with no trial, who was tortured, and denied contact with the outside world. Why would I be paranoid about a government that would do that? Except that it's MY government, not some two-bit third-world tinpot dictator's government.
  • by geoffspear ( 692508 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:28AM (#16104828) Homepage
    On a side note, that "turn the other cheek thing" doesn't mean what people think it means.

    ...According to some people who don't like the message Jesus was trying to get across. I suppose they have a good figurative explanation with "historical and other factors in support" for the whole "blessed are the meek" thing, too. Yes, you too can have your Nietzschean Supermanness and your Judeo-Christian Morality all rolled into one!

  • by jeti ( 105266 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:32AM (#16104893) Homepage
    Well - I don't know much about King Charles I.
    But I see some frightening parallels to the Reichstag Fire Decree [].
  • Re:Reason (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darby ( 84953 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:35AM (#16104928)
    Have you considered that the harassment people who believe Bush is the better choice are subjected to by people like you and lots of others on Slashdot can make them reluctant to state who they are voting for when asked?

    Much more likely that they would be too cowardly and deceitfiul to admit to their hatred and contempt for freedom and their eager support of torture and murder as cowardice, blind ignorant hatred and a lust for murder are the defining characteristics of Republicans. Just look at the world today and realise that those sick animals voted for it twice.
    No sanity or morality could be involved in that choice.

    Oh, no, it's really their fear of harassment. What an idiotic statement.

    Presumably, somewhere in the black core of their souls, Republican voters are ashamed of their purely evil, hate mongering, murderous, theiving attitudes and therefore are embarassed to admit that they despise American values, freedom and the like.

    The simple fact is that they do support torture, murder, and the destruction of the great experiment. If they didn't wholeheartedly support those things over any sort of decency then we would not be in the situation that we are in.

    It's no surprise that such a vile, amoral cowardly lot as them would be too afraid to admit even to themselves what deeply and wholely evil scum they have proven themselves to be at every opportunity.

    It's basic simple common sense. No sane, informed person believes or has ever believed that Bush was a better choice than any of the alternatives. It's not possible to reach that conclusion as there is nothing to support it but a trail of lies and murder.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:40AM (#16104995)
    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
    You may recognize this text, from our Declaration of Independence. The framers of the Constitution were protecting these inalienable rights when they wrote our Constitution. You will notice that *privacy* is not among those rights listed.

    What part of "among these" do you not understand? And more to the point, what part of

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
    (AKA the 9th Amendment) do you not understand?!!
  • by AndersOSU ( 873247 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:42AM (#16105012)
    Actually, a good portion of the islamic fundamentalists should be considered fascists.

    Their stated goal is often times to have a islamic government, like Saudi Arabia, or Iran. I would argue that these are definately fascist governments. Fascists typically are authoritarian (check), highly nationalistic (in an islamic state the nation is suposed to represents the religion - so check), and anti-communist (see the Taliban.)
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:43AM (#16105035)
    First on the issue of throwing votes away. It only takes one vote over 50% to win, so any amount over that is unnecesarry - ie wasted. Therefore, unless the race is close, and you have a chance of casting the deciding vote, then voting for a major party has just as little practical effect on the result of the election as voting for a third party.

    Secondly, if the democrats actually defended civil liberties, then I would start considering the lesser of two evils. But they are just as bad as the republicans when it comes to throwing out our freedoms to appear tough on crime or terrorism. Furthermore the progressives have gotten as bad as the religious right when it comes to forcing everyone to live the way they want them to. The only civil rights issue that the democrats still defend are equal rights for gays, and other minorites. While I give them credit for this, it doesn't matter much if you are systematically eliminating everyone's rights.

    As an aside, you cannot blame liberals voting for third parties for the result of the last presidential election or for democrats poor showing in congress. That is due to more people voting republican, not third party.

    I vote for the candidate I think is best in almost every election. The only time I vote for the lesser of two evils is when all the following are true:
    1. One of the two major candidates really is significantly worse than the other.
    2. the race is close
    3. I am in a swing state/district
    4. The race is close in my state/district

    The last presidential election was the very few times that has happened in many years.

    If the only "realistic option" is to vote for a major party, then we might as well admit that there is no solution to the problems that are facing the country today, because they are the ones who created them and they show no signs of changing track. I don't think that voting third party is a waste, but even if it is, I would rather waste my vote than be complicit in the destruction of our country.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:43AM (#16105046)
    While I agree with your point about wasted votes,

    Both bloody parties are OWNED by the powers that be now.

    It doesn't matter which side you vote for except on trivial side issues (like abortion).

    For everything that matters, we have one party, owned by big business and the wealthy.

    The republicans choose from 5 to 7 candidates *chosen* for them.
    The democrats choose from 5 to 7 candidates *chosen* for them.
    Then we all get to vote between the two "candidates" to pick a "winner".

  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @11:45AM (#16105067) Homepage
    That's idiotic, and I would know, I live in a country with a minority government: Canada. Such a situation forces politicians to *compromise* and *work across party lines*. In other words, the system becomes *less partisan*, which is a very good thing. In addition, a minority government situation makes it more difficult for the government in power to pass *any* legislation, effectively slowing down the pace of government. This is *also* a very good thing.

    Anyone who thinks the US two-party "democracy" is superior to multiparty systems in Canada, Europe, or Australia is clearly in need of education.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by demigod ( 20497 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @12:11PM (#16105366)
    I will be voting FOR the people that are writing/passing this legislation, because I'm convinced that the "good guys" (and we ARE them, by & large) cannot win against an insidious, merciless, and determined enemy by being Dudley Do-Right and playing with one hand tied behind their back.

    Please tell me how these US actions make them the "good guys"?

    • In November 2004, U.S. occupation forces launched their second major attack on the city of Falluja. The press reported major war crimes instantly, with approval. The attack began with a bombing campaign intended to drive out all but the adult male population; men ages fifteen to forty-five who attempted to flee Falluja were turned back. The plans resembled the preliminary stage of the Srebrenica massacre, though the Serb attackers trucked women and children out of the city instead of bombing them out.
    • After several weeks of bombing, the United States began its ground attack in Falluja. It opened with the conquest of the Falluja General Hospital. The front-page story in the New York Times reported that "patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs. Note:The Geneva Conventions states "fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the Medical Service may in no circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict."
    • "Dr. Sami al-Jumaili described how U.S. warplanes bombed the Central Health Centre in which he was working," killing thirty-five patients and twenty-four staff. His report was confirmed by an Iraqi reporter for Reuters and the BBC, and by Dr. Eiman al-Ani of Falluja General Hospital, who said that the entire health center, which he reached shortly after the attack, had collapsed on the patients.
    • In another gross violation of international humanitarian law, even minimal decency, the U.S. military denied the Iraqi Red Crescent access to Falluja. Sir Nigel Young, the chief executive of the British Red Cross, condemned the action as "hugely significant." It sets "a dangerous precedent," he said: "The Red Crescent had a mandate to meet the needs of the local population facing a huge crisis." Perhaps this additional crime was a reaction to a very unusual public statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross, condemning all sides in the war in Iraq for their "utter contempt for humanity."
    • The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, accused US and British troops in Iraq of "breaching international law by depriving civilians of food and water in besieged cities as they try to flush out militants" in Falluja and other cities attacked in subsequent months. US-led forces "cut off or restricted food and water to encourage residents to flee before assaults," he informed the international press, "using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population, [in] flagrant violation" of the Geneva Conventions.
    • In an investigation in which Marines were ordered by a superior officer to strip detainees and take their money, an investigator stated that, "the alleged conduct is a pattern of abuse of detainees in direct contravention to the Marine policy of 'No Better Friend, no worse enemy,' as well as the law of war. A Senior Naval Officer's conduct of publicly humiliating these Iraqis clearly jeopardized the Battalion's mission and the Battalion's standing with the public....these acts could have been a "tipping point" resulting in hostility against coalition forces."
    • A detainee named Awayed Wanas Jabar died in U.S. custody in Iraq after having his legs tied to the bars of a window and a strap of engineer tape tied tightly around his midsection. A preliminary inquiry stated that, "His position resembled that of a person who had been crucified." According to one Marine, the detainee seemed "exhausted, with his entire bodyweight appearing to be supported by t
  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @12:15PM (#16105409) Journal
    As other people have pointed out, all Bush has to go to war is his "authorization to use force" against "terrorists". It's been determined that not only was Iraq not related to Al Qaeda, members of the administration clearly manipulated intelligence to show that Saddam was, indicating that members of the administration knew that Iraq was not a terrorist target and therefore did not fall beneath the authorization of force.

    Even in your dream world where we are at war with every nutso who waves a rifle and claims so, Iraq was not part of Radical Islam (and in fact was our last real buffer against it in the region) and therefore the attack on Iraq was not justified by that. Since the terrorists did not flood into Iraq until we created the power void by removing its dictator with no plan whatsoever for future control of the country, you cannot claim that the terrorists there now are what authorized the attack initially.

    So the President directed the army to attack a nation that we were not at war with, that he was not authorized to attack. That sounds like an impeachable offense to me.
  • by Ender Ryan ( 79406 ) <[ ] ['' in gap]> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @12:26PM (#16105531) Journal
    We should never have helped Saddam come to power in the first place, never voted in a President who was his business partner, paid Saddam to invade Iran, said President should never have turned a blind eye when his business partner decided to invade Kuwait, and then changed his mind when the U.N. wouldn't STFU about it, pretending he was not business partner and friend of Saddam for 2 decades.

    What should we do now? Just a minute...

    We should never have invaded Iraq, removing the keystone preventing the country from sliding into a civil war based on long established rivalries between Islamic factions. We SHOULD have continued to focus on Afghanistan, and evaluating our mid-east policies.

    What should we do NOW? We should impeach GWB, vote out nearly all the incumbents, and force our government to once again operate for and by the people. And then, and only then, can we make any informed decisions about the problems we are facing today. Because as it currently stands, most of our information about our supposed enemies is coming from known liars who act solely in their own interest.

    Yeah, I admit it, it's a fucking pipe dream. Pretty much, we're fucked.

  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @12:33PM (#16105608)
    Actually I will blame you. If you didn't vote for Kerry, you basically elected Bush.

    Libertarian or any other 3rd party is a complete WASTE in a presidential election. I generally favor the ideas of non Dem/GOP candidates as they are more realistic. However, the 3rd party groups need to win some local elections before they can lay any claim to being a superior choice.

    Lets talk when there are more than 30 Libertarians in the the country you actually have convinced some people to vote for you and they will listen. Until then deal with the choices you have, not defacto electing the worse of the evils by claiming to vote 'better'.

  • Re:Vote! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by legoburner ( 702695 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @12:53PM (#16105820) Homepage Journal
    Douglas Adams rest in peace.

              "No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."

              "Odd," said Arthur, "I though you said it was a democracy."

              "I did," said Ford. "It is."

              "So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"

              "It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."

              "You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"

              "Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."

              "But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"

              "Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"


              "I said," said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"

              "I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."

              Ford shrugged again.

              "Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it."
  • Sigh. Not again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:22PM (#16106148)
    Eventually I'm going to either stop responding to these, or just write up and keep a standard response I can post. It saddens me to see Europeans with such strong opinions about the US and so little understanding of it. So I'll do a brief recap:

    1) If you are forming your opinions of the US based off of what you read on Slashdot, please stop. Slashdot is a decent source of Linux tech news but, in case you haven't noticed, rather alarmist and given to poor reporting. If you want a real picture of what's going on you need to get your news from multiple sources and try to avoid sites that have open bias (which /. does, especially the comments).

    2) Please take some time to learn about the legal system in the US. Your statement of "but the way he's amending the Constitution" shows that you don't have a very good understanding. Bush hasn't amended the constitution. The last time it was amended was 1992, the 27th amendment which states "No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened." I think you are confusing the questions over the constitutionality of some of the laws that have been passed with actual constitutional changes. Also, the president doesn't amend the constitution, congress and then the states do.

    3) Critically examine your own country and others you consider free to see what kind of big brother stuff goes on there. There's actually more of it than you probably think, some of it may even seem quite normal and sensible to you. None of that means you are anywhere near a dictatorship, but it's easy to lose sight of the fact that all countries grapple with freedom vs security issues. As a common example many European nations ban individual ownership of guns. Now you probably find this quite sensible, as guns can be used for criminal acts. However ask yourself: Doesn't it say something when a government trusts only it's agents with weapons, and it's citizens? The police and such are just people too, what makes them so special, other than being an arm of the government, that it's ok for them to have arms and not the public? I'm not looking for an answer here, I'm not advocating gun laws one way or another, just pointing out something that is often considered very normal and acceptable in terms of restricting liberty to increase security. They take away your right to have guns in order that less people might die from them. Perfectly reasonable, but slightly big brotherish none the less.

    So look, I'm not going to say there aren't some disturbing trends going on in the US right now and I sincerely hope the 2006 and 2008 elections bring a real shakeup, but you need to get some perspective. If you read places like Slashdot that are all doom and gloom, sure it may seem like things are horrible. However that's because that's what they like to report. They report the bad news, they do a poor job of reporting, and they tend to be alarmist and exemplify it.

    All I'd ask is that if you want to have any significant kinds of opinions on the US, that you take the time to research it and make sure they are informed opinions. "The sky is falling," type stuff isn't very useful. I personally have no opinion on the conditions in Holland. Why? Well I haven't researched them. I know a tiny bit from here and there, but not enough to form any kind of educated stance, so I haven't.
  • Re:Umm, they were (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:27PM (#16106228)
    And where does that mention that he can violate the other parts of the constitution in carrying out those duties? Even if only one half of the communication is from a US citizen, the president is still required to follow the constitution when spying on that person.

    Not to mention that we are not at war, so the president has no wartime powers.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:32PM (#16106290)
    There are various definitions of "war", you are fixating on the lawyer's view. I am using the more practical and realistic view, the soldiers view, and also President Roosevelt's view (explained below).

    I'm fixating on the lawyer's view on purpose. You know why? It's because the laws which give the President extra power during "Wartime" are based on the legal definition, and should only go into effect when the legal condition is satisfied!

    Perhaps you missed the GP's use of the terms "Korean War", "Vietnam War", "Gulf War", etc. That would be what some people would call context.

    I am the grandparent! If you re-read that post more carefully you'll see that I only quoted the "War" part of the Vietnam "War" etc. entirely on purpose, in order to illustrate that they were not, in fact, legally defined as wars!

    Even President Roosevelt acknowledged that war existed at the time of the attack not at the time of our declaration of war. Note the past tense of "existed" as he asked Congress for the declaration of war: "I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire."

    This serves to prove my point: Roosevelt understood the distinction between the legal and practical definitions, and therefore realized it was necessary to (legally) declare war despite the fact that a state of war already (practically) existed.

    In contrast, all the Presidents since (and most notably Bush Jr.) apparently do not understand this distinction, which is why Bush thinks he has powers that he doesn't actually have!

  • by ChristTrekker ( 91442 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:41PM (#16106412)

    All the voters have to do is rank the candidates - 1,2,3,etc. That's all - anyone too stupid to tell you who they like best, 2nd best, etc. shouldn't be voting. An individual cannot create cycles with ranks, though you can have "tie" preferences.

    All the matrix stuff is done by a computer. It can be verified by hand if needed (and I agree that this is an important consideration!), but it is a time-intensive process. (Instead of varying with V, it goes by V*C*C.) If you mention "matrix" when introducing Condorcet to the electorate, you've lost. But you really don't need to. It is much simpler, and still conceptually correct, to say that you use the rankings to simulate a series of head-to-head matchups, and the correct winner must win them all - after all, a real winner ought to be able to beat everyone else, right?

    If IRV isn't a good system mathematically, then it is not a good system practically! It is arguably not better than plurality, because at least with plurality, you know who the "lesser of two evils" is for tactical voting - with IRV you don't, because it becomes almost impossible to correctly guess how the runoffs getting to the final round will go.

  • Re:Vote! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by skadus ( 821655 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:44PM (#16106439) Homepage Journal
    Actually I will blame you. If you didn't vote for Kerry, you basically elected Bush.

    I have a friend that says the same thing to me all the time. Like I'm somehow the reason Kerry didn't win. Funny, at the time of the election my parents told me the same thing, only with the names reversed.

    I didn't like either of them. That's why I voted third-party. Otherwise, I wouldn't have voted at all.

    Between a Fascist and a Communist I picked neither, and apparently that makes me the bad guy? I may never get my ideal candidate into office, but at least I voted my conscience. Maybe if other people did the same thing there'd be some change in the government.

  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moeinvt ( 851793 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:45PM (#16106466)
    "Actually I will blame you. If you didn't vote for Kerry, you basically elected Bush."


    "Libertarian or any other 3rd party is a complete WASTE in a presidential election."

    Wrong again!

    The Republicans and Democrats have owned the House, Senate and White House for decades. Each party has also had the opportunity to control all 3 simultaneously. What have they brought us?

    Vietnam War
    $8 Trillion national debt
    2 Iraq wars
    The War on Drugs
    20M illegal immigrants
    The Patriot Act

    ALL with strong bi-partisan support, active or passive.

    The only wasted vote is one that is cast for Republicans or Democrats! They create the illusion of choice by squabbling over nonsense issues, but work together to screw us over on the real ones. Once you realize that they are just one big party pursuing a legislative agenda that is detrimental to the vast majority of U.S. citizens the only logical thing to do is vote for an alternative.
  • by natoochtoniket ( 763630 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @01:52PM (#16106558)
    Do you understand that warrantless searches were one of the things the Revolutionaries were pissed off about when they started the Revolution in the first place??? Do you know ANY of the history behind WHY we require warrants?

    The American Revolution was not the first revolution in history, nor was it the last. The people of various nations have revolted against tyranical government many times. I expect there will eventually be another revolution in the United States. The "Republican" party that presently holds power in the USA seems to want that to happen sooner rather than later.

    We should also have learned another lesson from history. A tyranical government cannot successfully control the entire population. If an person becomes mad enough, he or she may do some act of violence against the government. If a sufficient number of people do so, the government cannot stand. That's what revolutions are made of -- just a number of people who decide that they can no longer tolerate the tyrannical government.

    The beauty of democratic elections is that a goverment can be thrown out of power without bloodshed. As long as the elections are honest and fair, and each government yeilds power to the next elected government, then a bloody revolution is not necessary.

    But, if the election is not honest and fair, then a bloody revolution becomes necessary.

    This, more than anything else, is what worries me about our paperless "voting" systems. I believe that our recent elections have not been honest or fair. There is no prospect that the people in power will voluntarily make the elections honest and fair, because they would lose power by doing so. If a large number of people realize that their votes are not really being counted, they may actually start the next revolution.

    The only way to avoid bloody revolution is to make the election process completely transparant, so everyone can watch the counting, and everyone can see that the process really is honest and fair.

  • by Dragon Bait ( 997809 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:10PM (#16107467)
    Good job being an unthinking drone

    Have you ever studied the life of Mohammad? Have you ever studied the butchery, slavery, rape that he did and condoned? Perhaps "unthinking drone" applies more to those who are ignorant of history.

    In case it matters, I voted against W both times. I've never bought into "the enemy of my enemy" concept. The Islamofacists may be redundant, but it is appropriate nomenclature.
  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @03:18PM (#16107557) Journal
    The legitimacy of the invasion is immaterial to the legitimacy of our current presence.

    So if I break some law, I shouldn't be punished as long as I stop breaking the law? Or does this logic only apply to Republicans? Over and over I've seen this, whether it's Republicans scrambling to save DeLay by repealing their ethics rules, or the Republicans scrambling to save DeLay's district by challenging their election laws, or the Republicans scrambling to legalize Bush's wiretap program (which cannot be viewed as anything other than an admission that he had broken the law).

    Breaking the law can be honorable, or even the right thing to do, but even King and Ghandi accepted and invited the punishement for the laws they broke. True followers of the idea of civil disobedience would accept no less, the remainder are just spoiled rich college kids who think they can do what they want without punishment. The problem is that now the spoiled kids are running the nation.

    I understand the "we broke it, we bought it" situation in Iraq, but once the bull has been let loose in the china shop, the correct answer is to get it out or put it down, not to make it the cashier. Bush should be impeached, and whoever replaces him (well, Cheney, obviously, unless he gets impeached too. I hear theres a whole line of people waiting to get that spot, the majority of them Republican, even) should not just turn tail and run.
  • Re:Vote! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crhylove ( 205956 ) <> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @04:19PM (#16108188) Homepage Journal
    Which bigger issue is that? The fact that they DO NOT COUNT OUR VOTES?!?
  • Re:mod parent up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:46PM (#16109038) Homepage Journal
    " No one is insisting having real choice for 3rd parties (or 4th or 5th) would not make this a better country."

    I disagree. If there were a viable 3rd party candidate out there that was moderate, I think they'd seriously threaten both sides, and force the Dems to come back from SOOO far to the left, and the Reps. from SOOOOOOOOO far to the right.

    I think if a moderate could get the money and TV time and on the ballots, they could clean the clocks of the 2 majors...or at the very least, scare the shit outta them enough to get them back from the fringes....

  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:32PM (#16109393)
    Fascism is also a fusion of government with corporate interests and those of wealthy and influential party members. German industrialists, especially the Thyssen family, one of Germany's richest, helped put the Nazi's in power because they thought it would be good for business, and that they would smack down labor unions. George W.'s grandfather Prescott Bush was a U.S. banker and broker for the Thyssen family, at Union Bank, during the same period they were bankrolling Hitler's rise to power. Union Bank's assets were seized for trading with the enemy when America entered World War II to the great embarrassment of the Bush family.

    Fascists use the power of government to enrich themselves and their business interests. They usually mouth their love for "free markets" at the same time they pull strings to have their party and government intervene in the "free market" to make them winners and their not so well connected competitors losers. If you want to get ahead in such a system you strive to advance your standing in the party, and the party rewards you with lucrative business, and by punishing your competitors who are not in favor with the party.

    Fascism is a decidedly anti labor political system, and very anti trade union, which is why it was often viewed as a bulwark against the spread of Communism and worker centric Socialism.

    Everyone is reluctant to use the term since World War II but the U.S., U.K. and especially China are decidedly Fascist leaning governments these days. China abandoned any pretense of Socialism or Communism when all the leading party members deduced they could get rich using their control of the government and economy if they just it coupled with a huge infusion of western capital so they did a 180 and blessed private ownership of capital, stock markets and profiteering. They almost overnight became a Fascist regime when they did.

    The origin of Islamofascism as a word in our lexicon is nothing more than a PR gimmick. After using the words "terrorist" and "terrorism" in every other sentence for five years the electorate has grown weary of them and they no longer register. No one knows what winning the "War on Terror" means. So the Bush administration is attempting to link the current "war on terrorism" with the glory days of World War II by linking today's enemy with yesteryears boogie man, in an effort to better paint the war as one of good versus evil. In fact it is really just a marketing campaign much like you would use to sell soap. The Baathist governments in Syria and Saddam's Iraq were quite Fascist in character. Al Qaeda has no resemblance to the term. The quagmires the Bush administration is in in Iraq and Afghanistan are no win situations but at least until they midterm election is over they want to pretend like they are noble causes like World War II was. Resorting to the use of the word Fascist in this particular struggle shows how rhetorically bankrupt they are.

    Another possibility is its becoming increasingly common for an increasingly large number of people to brand the Bush administration and the Republican parties as Fascists and it is a term that does have a degree of fit. By repeatedly referring to their "enemy" as fascists it creates the illusion the Bush administration must not be. If they are fighting "Islamofascists" how could they be Fascists too. Well its easy they still are, and maybe we need to coin a term that matches and does fit, JudeoChristianFascists".

    If you haven't seen it the Wachowski brothers film "V for Vendetta" which is out on pay per view now is a stinging jab at the rise of Fascism in Britain and the U.S. and the mechanisms that are being used to foist it on the ignorant masses.
  • Re:Sigh. Not again (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, 2006 @08:19PM (#16109979)
    Just two quick point before I go to bed.

    -The reason it is so disappointing that the US is going in the direction it is is just because, like the GP said, the US were seen as a leading country when it comes to democracy and freedom. I have lived for four years in the US, and I came to admire and respect the wisdom of the founding fathers when they made the constitution. It is really sad when you see someone you admired fall so easily for the oldest trick in the book (we need to take away your freedom so you can be safe). And yes, there are many countries in Europe which are more free than the US (Holland is definately one of them).

    -We (at least I) do not at all get my information from Slashdot. I watch national and international news (norwegian and BBC) and read International papers. I have even watched american news. Unfortunately, most newssources in the US is extremely biased and untrustworthy. CNN is what I mostly get here, and it is just too sad to even call it news. I think this is the most important problem the US faces - that the media is way too corporate, and there is not much understanding of journalistic integrity or the importance of media as the fourth estate. Democracy does not function without free and independent media.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 15, 2006 @03:49PM (#16116139)
    The legitimacy of the invasion is immaterial to the legitimacy of our current presence.

    The legitimacy of my stealing your car is immaterial to the legitimacy of my continued possession of your car.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982