- Does serving as First Lady count as executive experience?
- Discerning the differences between loyalty, patriotism, and looking to transform your city or nation.
- Tired of hearing quasi-religious political platforms that serve the interests of “killing our enemies” or benefiting the filthy rich? Check these out.
- Refocusing the education reform discussion.
- A bipartisan discussion on the extension of the PATRIOT act.
- A list of the 50 best cover songs ever.
- Some info behind the sped-up re-authorization of the PATRIOT act.
- A drug war-style raid on a house that had some small connection to viewing a pornographic website a year ago.
- A Macbook thief gets pwned.
- Police officers in New Mexico can take guns away from drivers who pose no threat.
- A Mexican teacher has been honoured after video footage showed her calming pupils (via singing to them) as a gun battle raged outside her school.
Obama signed the extensions while he was in France. I can imagine the old timers complaining that the “founding fathers” did not intend for the POTUS to sign laws via autopen:
Look at the relevant section of Article I, Section 7:
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated,
Was the bill “presented” to the President? Well, according to the media reports he reviewed it so most likely a copy was transmitted to him in Europe.
Did he “sign” it? Is signing via electronic device from thousands of miles away what the Founders had in mind? Probably not, but they probably also didn’t have ball point pens in mind either. It isn’t the means of signing that’s the issue but the manner and, in this case, the cause for concern should be that at a document is “signed” by the President without him actually being in the room, or the country. It may be Constitutional, but I hope they turn the machine off at night so someone isn’t granting pardons under the rug.
This law has its objectors. One to mention is Senator Rand Paul. He is basically met with this rhetoric about patriotism:
Paul and the other dissenting Senators better give up their objections and submit to quick Patriot Act passageor else they’ll have blood on their hands from the Terrorist attack they will cause. That, of course, was the classic Bush/Cheney tactic for years to pressure Democrats into supporting every civil-liberties-destroying measure the Bush White House demanded (including, of course, the original Patriot Act itself), and now we have the Democrats — ensconced in power — using it just as brazenly and shamelessly (recall how Bush’s DNI, Michael McConnell, warned Congressional Democrats in 2007 that unless they quickly passed without changes the new FISA bill the Bush White House was demanding, a Terrorist attack would likely occur at the Congress in a matter of “days, not weeks”; McConnell then told The New Yorker: “If we don’t update FISA, the nation is significantly at risk”). Feinstein learned well.
Greenwald challenges the myth that there is no bipartisanship in Congress.
So when they were out of power, the Democrats reviled the Patriot Act and constantly complained about fear-mongering tactics and exploitation of the Terrorist threat being used to stifle civil liberties and privacy concerns. Now that they’re in power and a Democratic administration is arguing for extension of the Patriot Act, they use fear-mongering tactics and exploitation of the Terrorist threat to stifle civil liberties and privacy concerns (“If somebody wants to take on their shoulders not having provisions in place which are necessary to protect the United States at this time, that’s a big, big weight to bear,” warned Feinstein). And they’re joined in those efforts by the vast majority of the GOP caucus. Remember, though: there is no bipartisanship in Washington, the parties are constantly at each other’s throats, and they don’t agree on anything significant, and thus can’t get anything done. If only that were true.
I would add bipartisan support for Israel to that short list.
Conor Friedersdorf explains why this matters to us and brings Barack Obama into the mix:
Contrary to the misleading reassurances of PATRIOT Act apologists, some provisions of the legislation aren’t merely likely to be abused by law enforcement in the future — they’ve already led to civil liberties violations, many of them documented circa 2009 by the Justice Department. Through National Security Letters, for example, law enforcement is permitted to obtain sensitive information from the banks, phone companies and Internet service providers of any American citizen. The FBI doesn’t need a warrant to request this private data, and the target of the snooping needn’t even be suspected of any connection with terrorism! More than 6,000 Americans were spied on in this manner during 2009 (the most recent year data is available), and the federal government has itself documented flagrant FBI abuses. All that’s missing is a desire to fix the problem. There are plenty of other objectionable PATRIOT ACT sections too: the “lone wolf” provision, roving wiretaps, Section 215 notices. All are worthy of study, especially since now the American people won’t learn more about them through a Congressional debate.
President Obama’s support for this latest re-authorization matters because it bears on a central promise of his candidacy. During Election 2008, he made it seem as though a vote for him would signify and end to the Bush Administration’s excesses in the war on terrorism: its tendency to needlessly sacrifice civil liberties even when less intrusive measures were sufficient, its disdain for checks and balances on executive authority, its habit of using scare tactics to insist that national security legislation be passed quickly and without a debate. Hope. Change. Those were the slogans. They weren’t about getting Osama bin Laden, nice as that was.