Senate approves warrantless wiretapping and telco immunity, throws out the Fourth Amendment

Stephen sez,
NY Times has reported that the Senate just approved a bill extending the warrantless wiretapping program AND giving the telcos immunity from prosecution for violating the law and the rights of their customers for compliance in earlier illegal warrantless wiretapping.

And Barack Obama voted for it!

Listen to your phone calls? Record your conversations?

Yes we can, yes we can...

That sound you hear? It's the Bill of Rights being torn in half. Talk about losing the war on terror. Who needs external forces threatening your way of life when your elected lawmakers are doing such a good job of it? Link (Thanks, Stephen.)


  1. Cory, It’s getting to the point where we aren’t really electing them anymore. (See past two presidential elections.)

    Far be it from me to say something good about a Republican, but McCain did better than Obama on this one by sitting it out…

  2. Aww Shit. What happened to the various senators who claimed they would filibuster the bill?

  3. Now what?

    Who is Barack Obama?

    We have just peeked behind the curtain. Whatever else happens, it is not because we didn’t know who the players are.

    Old Mexican saying:

    Sobre aviso no hay engaño

    “There is no deceit if you have been forewarned”

  4. Phikus, McCain hasn’t voted on a ton of stuff. He is hardly even doing his job. As a side note, Ron Paul didn’t vote on this either.

  5. Now’s the time to stop caring, officially, if you haven’t already.

    Look at you go, Liberty!

  6. I think it’s fair to say, based on McCain’s previous statements, that he’s in full support of this path, too. I have confidence that either Obama or McCain would be equally prepared to douche out on liberty.

    @#4, an old Guatemalan saying:

    Presidential elections are about quien es mas mentiroso que el otro

    “who’s the bigger liar.”

  7. American voters need to have a minimum standard of acceptable behavior in their candidates. I suggest that failing to honor the oath of office should be reason enough to put a candidate on the Do No Elect list.

  8. Well, you can’t say that lack of experience has kept Barack Obama from being a model legislator. After all, legislation is all about compromise: Compromising your beliefs, compromising the law…

  9. Please oh please when the time comes (and it WILL) that McCain says, “I didn’t vote for that,” someone has in their new spine from Amazon and says, “But you didn’t vote at all.”

    Silence. Is. Assent.

  10. @#10

    Hillary voted no on this bill, but her record on privacy issues up to this point isn’t exactly something to be proud of.

  11. You know, I think I’m going to take my voter registration card, tear it up into little pieces and mail it to Senator Obama with a letter saying how disappointed I am in his vote. How I felt so good about casting a vote for him in the primary. But here is one less vote he will be getting. Here is one less vote anyone will be getting… ever. I am sick of this. My elementary level education was at a church run school (Missouri Synod Lutheran) in Texas. I was taught much about our history and traditions. As part of my schooling I had to memorize the Bill of Rights. Thirty years later it means nothing to me. Its all lies. Its all over. The really bad people have won. They don’t dress funny or have strange accents. They look like us. They talk like us. They are us. What now happens to the citizens of this country is exactly what we deserve. My life goals now are to be a good little ‘sheeople’ and live as ‘under the radar’ as possible. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to avoid having my life come to a premature end in a gulag in the Nevada desert.

  12. Not voting is the new voting. Most of them have done it to avoid something or other.

  13. By the way, something I’m not entirely clear on if anyone knows:

    This bill leaves the door wide open for spying on anyone, even American citizens, if they’re sending messages from outside the US. Does that mean that if my internet traffic passes through a server somewhere outside of the country, even if I’m personally in the United States, it’s fair game? Not that it matters, since the telecom immunity portion of this bill guarantees that my domestic communication will be spied on with impunity, anyway.

  14. “Does that mean that if my internet traffic passes through a server somewhere outside of the country, even if I’m personally in the United States, it’s fair game?”

    Yes. Assume that everything is being scanned and encrypt. This is a very serious issue for business communications, since the amounts of money involved in major transactions may well tempt the watchers to intervene.

    On the broader topic, the 4th amendment has been getting toasted for a long time, as the ACLU has observed. This is the end of a long, painful process.

  15. Oh, yes. ACLU on privacy issues.

    BTW, let me stress that, even in Obama turns out to be a conservative Democrat (discouragingly likely), he is probably still a better choice than McCain, who is beholden to the wingnuts. It may be the choice between Goldwater and LBJ, but I think it’s a real choice nonetheless, so hold your nose and vote. I’m still wishing for a progressive, though. Save us, Al!

  16. *weeps*

    Barack Obama, you broke my goddamn heart.

    He’s turned into another goddamn authoritarian. Who’m I gonna vote for now?

  17. I too am angry at Obama about this. If there was ever a time to take a principled stand, this was it. And if there was ever a pol who could turn this issue into a teachable moment, it’s Barack.

    I always felt Barack was a center-hugger at heart, which is why I voted for Edwards, who was at least making the leftiest-sounding noises.

    However — and this may not be the best time to bring this up for some of you — not voting only helps the status quo. Think of 1968, or 2000.

    If you can’t bring yourself to support Barack, then please check out Act Blue and find some good Congressional candidates to donate a few dollars to, whether they’re running in your district or not.

    We need a far better Congress than we have, regardless of who wins the Presidency.

  18. Let’s look at the numbers:

    47 Republicans voted for it, along with 21 Democrats.

    27 Democrats voted against it.

    The bill won on Republican support. Every Republican who voted, voted for it. Either they agreed with it, or they didn’t agree but still voted with the party. Disappointing, but that’s nothing new.

    With that in mind, for the bill to lose every Democrat voting would have had to vote against it. And you won’t ever see that. What interests me is that 21/27 split on the Democrats.

    First, it shows that Democrats aren’t afraid to disagree with their party. Even if you don’t like it today, that kind of courage is a good thing in general, because it often means they are listening to their constituents or their personal judgment instead. Of course, this is where the majority of responses will tell me how, naturally, everyone Democrat who voted the wrong way is corrupt.

    Second, and I know I’m probably going to get called an idiot for saying this, but maybe they know something the public doesn’t. This whole thing has been shrouded in secrecy from the start, and members of congress are briefed on a need-to-know basis. Those extra details may have influenced their vote.

  19. The final roll count is here.

    All republican senators voted for the bill, with 2 abstentions (McCain and Sessions).

    Of the 49 democrat senators, 28 (55%) voted against it. Kennedy abstained (hospital, I think) The rest voted in favor of it.

    There are 2 independents. 1 voted in favor (Joe Liebermann) and one voted against (Sanders).

  20. @#18

    I don’t think the Goldwater/LBJ analogy holds up, since in that election there was an existential threat (hot war with the Soviet Union) on the table. Absent that threat, nobody should ever hold their nose (and close their eyes, plug their ears, take a couple shots, etc.) and vote for a character like Lyndon Johnson, who has to be up there pretty high on the Worst Presidents Ever list. The only reason Johnson doesn’t get the level of disdain he deserves is because he was followed up by Nixon.

    Not that I don’t think that Obama is preferable to McCain, but the negatives of McCain aren’t enough that I’d vote for Obama. The major difference in my mind is in foreign policy, where McCain is completely psychotic. But all we have to go on with Obama foreign-policy-wise is a promise to (someday, some way) pull out of Iraq, but after the last couple of weeks of action on his part, taking Obama at his word is a dubious proposition.

  21. oops. off by one up there.
    in short:

    republican: 47 yea, 2 abstain
    democrat: 21 yea, 27 nay, 1 abstain
    independent: 1 yea, 1 nay

  22. Does the EFF still have any way of moving forward with its attempts to uncover the truth about what happened here? How is it even possible to sue the government for improperly spying on you if that information is classified? Also, where does this put the United States in relation to other countries in terms of surveillance policy? Considering how common CCTV cameras are in the UK, I would assume GCHQ would have already been granted carte blanche to do this sort of thing over there.

  23. Randwolf – there were good reasons to use good encryption long before any of this.

    In fact, the US Government may have been the second to recognize that need. I think the Germans were first with the Enigma.

  24. anyone talking about voting for a third party in the presidential election deserves a label that would get me disemvoweled and possibly banned.

    Suffice it to say that the only way a third party vote makes sense is if the two main candidates are equally evil in every way. If one is better than the other, you either hold your nose adn vote for the lesser of two evils, or you vote third party and effectively abstain from having any impact on the outcome, at which point, you are supporting whoever wins. If the worst of the two candidates win, then you voted for that candidate.

    Anyone who argues that voting third party in a presidential election is NOT supporting whoever wins and somehow “sends a message” is smoking crack.

    All you people who “sent a message” by voting Nader in 2000? You can see just how much your “message” affected George Bush’s policies. Thanks a lot.

    Also, Tweedledee/Tweedledum arguments will be mocked as well. Gore wouldn’t have invaded Iraq, and we wouldn’t be in this quagmire now. And the white house wouldn’t be saying that the “jury is still out” on global warming or that we need to “teach the controversy” about evolution.

    No, the tweedledee/tweedledum arguments were crap in 2000, and they’re crap today.

  25. @#28

    The EFF is now trying to get a court to rule that Congress infringed on the powers of the judiciary by granting blanket immunity. That tactic actually has a fair enough chance of succeeding, so don’t lose hope yet.

  26. The twin towers of freedom and privacy have just collapsed with cameras rolling…

    Oh God, why did they do this to us? Why do they hate our freedoms? Why do they hate America? What did we do to deserve this attack?

    Wait!!! Oh shit!! There goes the Tower 7 of human rights!! Oh, the lack of humanity…

    Welp, we finally found the specific location of these top terrorists in the world who truly hate our freedom… our own quasi–government located right smack in the middle of Washington, D.C.

    How the hell did these fuckers get into D.C.? Didn’t anyone check these terrorists’ passports?!

    Maybe it’s time for a preemptive strike against these terrorists by voting every one of these assholes OUT of office.


    Cow-Tip : If you aren’t using PGP for all your business communications that have proprietary info, you are just asking for other business entities (a.k.a. parts of “our” privatized government) to pluck them right up and exploit your business secrets for financial gain. PGP, look into it.

    If you believe that our privatized government wouldn’t ever steal your business secrets… you deserve to get them stolen.


    Øbama sucks… but is less suck than McCain.


    Obama, Change We Can Belie- [scratch!! rip!!] ok, nevermind… just give us change we can’t believe in. I suppose that’s better than no false promises at all.

  27. @#30

    This attitude is why the two main parties can nominate steadily worse candidates every year but people will still vote for them. Nothing that the Democrats have done since taking the House and Senate gives me any confidence in the “lesser of two evils” principle. If you think that the Democrats are being forced to vote for terrible bills like this by the political climate you’re kidding yourself. They want these powers. This is a key principle to understand, and it’s playing out in front of us right now that a Democrat is almost certain to take the White House: If the Democrats are given an opportunity to wield tyrannical powers, they will take it and abuse it just as quick as any Republican.

  28. Let me expand upon that Cow-Tip: If cleartext communications are leaving your business, you are possibly subjecting them to illegal surveillance by your own country’s government and/or businesses, and you are most definitely subjecting them to surveillance by foreign government and business (often one and the same) who do not have to answer to any of the laws that protect you.

    However, and any security professional will tell you the same, the biggest threat to your corporate and personal livelihood remains the trusted insider.

  29. Absolutely, #30. Can’t people count? Do simple sums? Nader elected Bush. Perot elected Clinton. Forget the third party bullshit. Protest votes are self-indulgent, holier-than-thou posturing.

    I also think that nominating Obama in the first place was holier-than-thou posturing. This is still a racist country. He can;t win. Rove & Co. are going to shred him like a wet kleenex. I assure you, I won’t be a bit happy when I say, I told you so!

  30. @#35

    He feels this bill, while granting immunity for past and present actions, will bring the program itself under review.

    This is called a “lie”. The FISA court already had sole legal oversight over the granting of warrants. This bill actually weakens the oversight that already existed, by only allowing the court to review the procedures that the President uses to determine who to monitor, rather than being able to review the validity of specific cases.

  31. Nancy and Harry living up to the promises?

    Harry Reid voted against it, if that’s who you’re talking about.

    I don’t know who Nancy is. There are 16 female senators right now. None named Nancy.

    All 5 female republican senators voted in favor
    Hutchison (R-TX), Yea
    Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
    Snowe (R-ME), Yea
    Collins (R-ME), Yea
    Dole (R-NC), Yea

    11 democrat senators total
    5 votes aye
    6 voted nay

    Or about 55% voted against the bill, which is pretty much how the whole democratic party split on this bill.

    Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
    Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
    Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
    Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
    McCaskill (D-MO), Yea

    Boxer (D-CA), Nay
    Stabenow (D-MI), Nay
    Klobuchar (D-MN), Nay
    Clinton (D-NY), Nay
    Murray (D-WA), Nay
    Cantwell (D-WA), Nay

  32. To #20, and the “if you have nothing to hide” argument- Do you really think that the government only employs people who don’t abuse their power? Really?

    Well, I guess that when it gets down to it, there are bad people who are breaking laws in the privacy of their homes. If the government could put cameras and microphones in ALL of our houses, and do random checks, then we would all be safer, wouldn’t we? After all if we have nothing to hide…and it’s for our own safety…

    We are one step closer.

  33. Here’s my comment from the Gadgets thread, if that’s OK.

    Change you can believe in! My butt. How many times does this guy have to reverse course, flip-flop, turnabout, and on and on. Anyone left who thinks he’ll keep any promise to withdraw troops or prosecute the current administration? Anyone left who thinks he’ll turn back the clock on the sweeping changes Bush implemented increasing Executive Branch power and privilege? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    So, the conventional wisdom is he had to do this or face a firestorm from the Republicans. Republicans calling a Democrat soft on national security that’s a new one. Do whatever you want Obama, Republicans would never think of outing you for promising to do X and then doing Y, over and over? If being wary of looking soft on security was the case and nothing could be earned by voting nay, then close your door and turn off the lights. At least pretend to preserve some of your credibility. Don’t worry, he can cry about Nader costing Democrats the White House.


    “Anyone talking about voting for a third party in the presidential election deserves a label that would get me disemvoweled and possibly banned.”

    Which party do you work for?

    Does anyone honestly believe this tripe? Gore and Kerry ran two of the worst presidential campaigns in recent history. In the pool hall there’s a saying, you gotta win both matches. Gore lost both; the one in the voting booth and the fight in the parking lot afterwards. Yes, we got what we deserved. At this point a third, fourth, or fifth party is our only hope. Bouncing back and forth between these two flavors of BS is exactly what they count on. The only way to make your vote count is to vote against both these back stabbing ______ .

  34. @35:

    He feels this bill, while granting immunity for past and present actions, will bring the program itself under review.

    This is rubbish. He isn’t approving of it so that he can gloriously destroy it later. This is not a summer blockbuster or a fairy tale. He voted for it because he supports it. Open your eyes, Dude! Wake up! Write this on the goddamn whiteboard 500 times:

    He voted for it because he supports it.

  35. The reason there wasn’t a filibuster was because >60 senators supported the bill. It takes 60 votes to limit debate in the Senate.

    I live in Texas and I’ll be writing in Chris Dodd on my ballot this November

  36. @ 35 WeightedCompanionCube, thanks for the link! :)

    (Just sitting here twiddling my thumbs and reading comments… *whistles*)

  37. Oh man, this is so depressing. This is the kind of stuff that happens in banana republics.

    At this point, the only remaining question is how does one go about seeking political asylum and where is the best place to do so. I’ve had it with the US. I want out.

  38. Which party do you work for?

    I work as an electrical engineer designing chips for consumer products. I don’t do any campaigning or volunteer or paid work for any political party.

    Does anyone honestly believe this tripe?

    I believe it. I wouldn’t call it tripe.

    Gore and Kerry ran two of the worst presidential campaigns in recent history.

    Since I answered all your direct questions, here are a couple for you:

    Do you personally think Gore was a better presidential candidate than Bush Jr in 2000?

    Did you vote for Gore or for a third party candidate in 2000?

    short yes/no, gore/nader answers will suffice. Spinning the answer isn’t neccesarry.

  39. #42: Which party do you work for?

    I think he’s running cattle round-up for the Democrats, in case anyone’s thinking about bailing on Obama after this. So I guess he won’t be upset that I’m voting for Barr, since the conventional wisdom is that Barr takes votes away from McCain. (Not that McCain ever had a chance of getting my vote in the first place.) As for it having no practical effect, I disagree. It’s a strategic vote. The Republican party is going to be a pile of ashes after this election cycle. If enough people vote for Barr that the story is framed as the Republicans losing because they no longer appeal to the small-government wing, that improves the odds that the libertarian(ish) insurgency within the Republican party gains greater influence in the chaotic restructuring that takes place post-November. This is one of those points in history when one of the two major parties is going to undergo a massive ideological shake-up, and there’s an opportunity for libertarians to aim it in a more positive direction.

  40. I’m very disappointed with Obama. I’m still voting for him, but he’s slowly becoming the lessor of two evils.

  41. By the way, by “running cattle round-up for the Democrats”, I don’t mean in any official capacity.

  42. Hey Cory,

    Between this and “Little Brother” I’ve been looking into encryption (PGP, SSL) but, I can’t wrap my damn head around implementing the stuff.

    I use windows, and I started with the goal of “hey, why not send Cory an encrypted email”, and track down the public key. I notice it says GPG key, so I wiki search that, then go to see about getting and using it. Upon looking at the FAQ and “mini-howto” my eyes began to bleed.

    BoingBoing, EFF, or anyone else have or are going to put out, something like a “Complete Retard’s Step-by Step Guide to Internet Privacy”?

  43. As a foreigner, all I can say is that this is a very unfortunate event. Obama should have known better and chose wiser.

    If you want to send a message to Obama telling him this is unacceptable, I would encourage all supporters to boycott fund raising for a defined period of time.

    I don’t write this with the intention or desire to see his campaign strangled for funds, but a sharp, short boycott of contributions is the strongest signal the American people can send and this juncture in your history. Those citizens of conscience I think must work to undertake this.

    This is not a strategic liability in the long run; Obama maintains a sizable fund raising lead and a heart start in popular support. However, there must be repercussions for the candidate from the American populace for such an egregious vote. Further, I believe it could be argued that any representative that did not vote an emphatic “Nay” on this resolution would be violating their oaths and worthy of condemnation (abstention is not good enough on these important votes, shame on Ron Paul for not attending).

    This is a precedent that cannot remain if you wish to see the true demise of the Bush ascendancy. If there is not a hard tack towards a principled defense of Rule of Law democracy, little hope remains for the United States. As a Canadian (aka ripe target), the developments in the United States are an intimately foreign affair; the elephant in the bed, the sneezer who transmits the cold (to borrow to oft quoted sayings). So for my sake, and yours, I think the only way to help right the American ship of state is a concerted fundraising boycott against Obama for a limited, predefined period of time.

  44. @ Buddy 66:

    Obama can win. He may not, but he can. Granted, this decision didn’t do much for him.

    You’re right about this being a racist country, but I think that one thing you are eliminating from your equation is that this year will see record numbers of minority and women voters, and that bodes well for the Dems. After all, a lot blacks and latinos are racist, too.

    I disagree with everyone who says that we should “hold our noses,” though. Maybe if you had an oversize safety pin I could borrow, but no. Obama loses my vote. He’s every bit as influenced by big business as McCain, and he’s proven it indefatigably.

    I may just vote for McLame, if only to hasten the demise of this once great nation. We would have to retroactively unelect every single Senator who supported this measure. The road to recovery is too treacherous for fat, lazy bastards like us. It’s all downhill from here.

    A different kind of war. Hopefully one where the entire stinking world blows up.

  45. Candidate? No.

    Voted for Gore, yes.

    Gore was a terrible candidate.

    And I’m upset with him not Nader.

    And I apologize for bing so upset, but I was hoping against hope to live long enough to see just one of these __________ do the right thing for this country.

  46. *correction to my above post – forgot Ron Paul is a congressman and not a senator. sorry.


  47. @#54

    I would also recommend this:

    Glenn Greenwald, Trevor Lyman, and a few others started up a liberal/libertarian blog cabal to go after the scalps of Steny Hoyer, the creative force behind the bill, and a few vulnerable “Blue Dog” Democrats who voted for it. If just one Congressman loses their seat (or has trouble keeping their seat) as a result of their vote on this bill, it will send a very powerful message to all the others.

  48. @#58

    Don’t be sorry; he was absent for the House vote. He seems to be missing a lot of votes recently.

  49. A little closer to the original subject, please. At this rate we’ll be arguing about Franklin Pierce soon.

  50. Senators Obama and Feinstein have betrayed the Constitution they swore to protect; I can’t in good conscience vote for them now, not for any government position.

  51. As Kevin Klein said in “A Fish called Wanda” – DISAPPOINTED.

    Why so soon? Shouldn’t the first date (albeit a one year first date) have resulted in chocolates and roses? Not a cynical admission that he actually has a wife who will not let him follow what I thought were his first impulses (back at the bar, he looked at my eyes and melted my resistance) I’m used to being strung along for at least a little while.

  52. Second, and I know I’m probably going to get called an idiot for saying this, but maybe they know something the public doesn’t.

    I think they know there’s a good chance their candidate’s going to be elected this fall and they want unlimited spying powers.


    I think they know they’ll get called terrorist-enablers if they stand up for the Constitution, and it’s easier to just roll over forh the Bush administration…even though they’ll then get called terrorist-enablers anyway.


    I think they know they themselves have been spyed on for the past seven years and they’re terrified of having their dirt leaked.

    Or all the above.

  53. Anyone see this?

    Obama seems pretty reasonable in his response:

    There’s another corny bit about “working as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago”, but he also says:

    “Now, I understand why some of you feel differently about the current bill, and I’m happy to take my lumps on this side and elsewhere. For the truth is that your organizing, your activism and your passion is an important reason why this bill is better than previous versions.” He claims this is because “The exclusivity provision makes it clear to any President or telecommunications company that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court.” He also says, “I support striking Title II from the bill, and will work with Chris Dodd, Jeff Bingaman and others in an effort to remove this provision in the Senate.”

    FWIW, I think Obama actually wrote most of that email.

  54. ….and there it goes. Goodbye, 4th Amendment, you were fun. Hang your heads, your leaders have failed you today, America.


  55. I wonder if this is a signpost on the way to the end of the “American Experiment” much like the Soviet version of Communism didn’t seem to work out, the American version of Democracy is something else that doesn’t seem to be working out. Maybe it ended a while ago, maybe this is the point where it ends… but either way the America which the founders envisioned isn’t whats going on today.

  56. Method,

    But the claim that this bill is better than the previous one is just a lie. Is it a lie Obama is telling or one he has been told? Probably the former.

    There is already an exclusivity provision in the current FISA law. But thanks to today’s vote, that provision amounts to jack squat, because this bill all but guarantees that the issue won’t be able to proceed in the courts, so no one will be held accountable for violating that exclusivity provision. What’s more, given the broad powers the new bill gives to the executive branch (essentially legalizing the previously illegal Bush program), the exclusivity provision means even less.

    What good is an exclusivity provision in a law that effectively says “spy on whoever you want as long as you swear it’s really important to national security, and as long as you keep an eye on yourself and decide you aren’t doing anything wrong”?

  57. @#69
    See #39. He’s throwing out “we made sure that no law supersedes the authority of the FISA court” as though that is some great improvement the Democrats managed to add to the bill. The reality is that no law superseded the authority of the FISA court to begin with. That’s clearly written in the original 1978 version of FISA, so saying it again in this bill is a redundant non-accomplishment. The bill does see fit to reduce the actual oversight capabilities of the FISA court, though, as I explain above.

    The politician you respect is a liar. I had to face it with Ron Paul, and now the day has come for Obama supporters.

    Have (a little) hope. Remember the Church Committee that laid out the massive domestic spying of an earlier era and led to the creation of FISA in the first place? We’re probably going to have another thing like that down the line, provided we don’t fall full-bore into dictatorship mode over the next ten years.

  58. #72
    Be careful not to confuse the telecom immunity portion, which legalizes unlimited domestic spying, with the new restrictions on the FISA courts, which legalize unlimited overseas spying. FISA exclusivity doesn’t apply to the NSA domestic spying lawsuits. Those lawsuits go before (or should I say went before?) regular courts, not foreign intelligence courts.

  59. all you people crying “WOLF!” make me laugh. thank you, weightedcompanioncube, for being a sane voice in this din of insanity.

  60. What the hell should I have expected from a Congress that thinks the internet is “a series of tubes and not a dump-truck”?

    I’m going to find a large bottle of alcohol and cry into it.

  61. Waterhouse,

    I don’t think I was confusing the two. It’s just that the original exclusivity provision said essentially ‘following the terms of this law is the only way you get to spy,’ and the new immunity provisions say, ‘except for that whole breaking the law thing that you’re now off the hook for,’ which retroactively neuters the exclusivity provision.

    Also, as I’m sure you aware, the ‘unlimited overseas spying’ includes communications where the other party is in the U.S.; so those calls are both foreign and domestic, so to speak.

  62. #75, Definitely. Everyone is being totally hysterical and making it impossible to think, which is what danah boyd is complaining about. Also, there’s a lot of political kabuki here with how people voted, which is how the American democratic system works, for better or worse.

  63. Obama appears to not just have broken the hearts of his young progressive supporters, but stamped on the pieces. Folks, I’m sorry.

    “I don’t think the Goldwater/LBJ analogy holds up, since in that election there was an existential threat (hot war with the Soviet Union) on the table.”

    If McCain invades Iran, we will probably have World War III. Vote, damnit, vote.

    “However, and any security professional will tell you the same, the biggest threat to your corporate and personal livelihood remains the trusted insider.”

    Actually, it’s more likely to be the lack of backups, still the first and best security measure.

    “Between this and ‘Little Brother’ I’ve been looking into encryption (PGP, SSL) but, I can’t wrap my damn head around implementing the stuff.”

    I judge the install procedures of the free GPG beyond most users; it’s a job for experts. Either: (1) hire someone to install it for you or (2) just buy PGP.

    In general, use Firefox and Thunderbird. Run Internet Explorer and Safari as little as possible. Don’t run Outlook Express.

    PGP: []
    GPG for Macs: []
    ccrypt (simple general-purpose file encryption): []
    Don’t know much about Windows, but try here: []
    PGP does support Notes and Office/Outlook.

  64. @70(tony), they failed us long ago. at least in the past they werent so damn in-yer-face about it. remember ikes warning “beware the military-industrial complex.” we now truly begin to reap those fruits.

  65. Sirdook,

    I understand what you mean, but the laws related to spying on communications entirely within the United States are different from laws related to spying on communications where the message comes from overseas or involves American citizens abroad. If the government wants to spy on domestic-to-domestic communications they have to get a warrant from a normal court. If they want to spy on communications that come from outside the country or involve Americans abroad, they have to get a warrant from the FISA court. So FISA’s exclusivity doesn’t really apply to the NSA wiretapping that is the subject of the lawsuits, since that program would have fallen under the oversight of normal courts, not the FISA court.

    And I am aware that the ‘overseas’ spying includes communications where one of the parties is in the U.S. The legal distinction throws it into the separate FISA court system, though, which is what I’m getting at.

  66. It would appear that the Executive and Legislative branches of the government have given up on the fourth amendment; if the Judicial branch doesn’t save us, we are doomed. But hey, at least Mars has water! Pack the wagons!

  67. For my fellow leftist/progressive folks here, I would strongly encourage you to stop looking for a candidate that is 100% pure on every issue you care about, and start thinking strategically. Unless a candidate sticks to making the right decision 100% of the time, then they are going to be some small bit evil. Since NO political candidate can make the right decision 100% of the time (they are human, and also have to do what is necessary to win sometimes), that means that it is always a choice about which is the lesser evil.

    Electoral politics is not about finding the saintly individual that represents everything you believe in and expressing you ideals by voting for them (or abstaining from voting if nobody meets your ideals). Electoral politics is about making tough choices about how to get the country into a better position. No perfect, just better. And electoral politics is only one of many necessary steps that people have to take when we make change for the better. The most important is that we have to organize and demand change no matter who is in office. Change doesn’t happen by having the right person elected and then everybody sits back while they fix everything. The point of electoral politics is that you vote for the person you would rather be campaigning against for change.

    So for those here, who’s disappointment I share about Obama’s bad decision on this bill, who claim that this means mean that should not vote for him, please think again.

    I remember these kind of remarks in 2000 about how Gore was bad, and the Democrats are bad (both true), and how that means it doesn’t matter if Gore or Bush wins, they are the same, so don’t vote or vote for nader, to send a message or vote your values. And 2000 is a great example of the problem with that reasoning. The effect of nonvotes / votes for Nader was certainly not that the democrats or republicans got a strong message and had to move to the left. Nonvotes and votes for third parties in the U.S. do not send a message. (They do allow the nonvoter or third party voter to send a message to themselves about how pure and principled they are that the would not vote for a bad man or a bad party, but thats all)

    8 years later, most people seem to have more clarity about the fact that yes indeed George Bush was a terrible, terrible thing for this country, and probably worse that Al Gore would have been, and that matters. It matters in the American and Iraqi lives that have been lost, in the lives lost to Katrina, in the lives that may be lost or diminished due to the lack of a sensible energy policy, the list goes on. My point here is that we need to look at candidates with greater resolution. Our 8 bit lenses see a few bad things from each and tell us they are the same, don’t vote for either, but if you really care about the concrete effect of lives that an administration will have over the next 4 to 8 years, then its worth choosing less death and destruction, and give us a better fighting chance to force change upon them.

    So please, for the sake of the lives at stake in this election, look as closely and strategically as you can at what we have to gain and lose based on our voting choice.

    I learned a while back not to have illusions about politicians being pure and good representatives of my ideals, and though I am disappointed by Obama’s decision on this bill, it doesn’t change my game plan: help Obama win, then fight him as hard as we can to make him make better choices. And more importantly, organize year round to change the country by bringing together all of us who need our democracy back to have power together to make that change.

  68. Pls BBrs. Cl n.

    f crs, Hssn wll vt “ys cn” fr ths.

    ntl th cpylft/cvl lbrtrns cm dwn frm thr Slcn Vlly ch-chmbr bbbl nd strt spkng n bsc hmn lngg tht ddrsss rl frs tht rl mrcn wh knw nthng bt nd cld cr lss bt BBrs, Twttrs, FndngFrnds, Scl Mtrts, nln Cmmntts, Wb -2 nd Shmglng, rctnry crprt frcs wll, srprs, srprs, xplt frs.

    t lst thy’r chrng n nd nd Chn…..

    1. Lewis,

      That really didn’t make the cut for civil discourse. I’ll assume that your passion for the subject got away from you, if you want to present the same ideas in a less bellicose fashion.

  69. why does everyone keep blaming bush for the current mess? The organ grinder’s monkey?

  70. Wow, both of my senators voted for the bill. Guess who aren’t getting my vote next time!

    Still not sure about who I’ll vote for in the presidential elections thought.

    What actions can I personally take to fight this? What are the ACLU or the EFF doing to fight it?

  71. Our two party system has utterly failed us. And the old plan of action, voting “lesser of two evils”, is what has finally brought us to this place and time.

    The Democratic Party is a joke and the Republicans too.

    The only way to send a message and to start to remove both of these corrupt parties is to open the doors to third parties.

    It doesn’t matter which third party you choose to pick but for me I’m going with Barr and the Libertarian party.

  72. When our elected officials betray the constitution, they do not deserve their office. If you vote for them after that, YOU betray the constitution (it’s just a piece of paper, but it’s all we got).
    Justifying your vote on the grounds of gamesmanship, or voting for the lesser of n evils, evades a more basic responsibility.

  73. The only way to send a message and to start to remove both of these corrupt parties is to open the doors to third parties.

    That message the Nader voters sent in 2000, boy, that was a doozy, wasn’t it? Made Bush stand up and listen, eh? Set him straight in a hurry. Changed the way government does business, didn’t it? Rewrote the election procedures. cleaned up government. reinstated civil liberties.

    Which is to say 8 years after all those people voted for Nader, I’m still waiting to see what change that actually caused.

    other than helping Bush into the White House, I mean.

    What real, measurable, changes did voting for Nader in 2000 produce? I’m not aware of any. It’s still a majority-vote-wins election process. And that process still reinforces the two-party system.

    And we got 8 years of Bush instead of Gore because of it. That’s the one measurable thing it did.

    But the true-blue Naderites will deny the one real effect they had, and find something else to blame for Bush getting into office. And while they deny their Bush Assistance program, they then keep harping about all the great and wonderful things that their third party vote will do this time around.

    Voting for third party in a majority-vote-wins presidential election is abstaining from the vote because it will not affect which of the two primary candidates will win.

    And people have already said it about McCain abstaining from this FISA bill: it’s the same as supporting the bill.

    You abstain from voting, or if you vote for a third party in a majority-vote-wins presidential election, then you’re helping and endorsing whoever wins. And if McCain wins because you wouldn’t vote for Obama, then you supported McCain getting into office.

  74. “Before we all torpedo the best candidate we have had in 30+ years over this FISA thing, be aware of the two facts: (1) there is a long-established government contractor immunity doctrine in American law & what the telecoms did after 9-11 in obeying government demands for compliance is right in stride with that doctrine, and (2) in any event, the federal government is likely required to indemnify the telcos for any judgment or settlement they’d have to pay. Is this really the make-or-break litmus-test the netroots is clamoring for? No way. Is this just another example of liberals eating their own? You betcha.”

  75. I heard some analyst on NPR say that this law may still leave a loop hole to go after the telcos – not with lawsuits (civil), but with criminal penalties. May be a stretch, but worth some hope come January.

  76. “stop looking for a candidate that is 100% pure on every issue you care about”

    Oh, for heaven’s sake! This isn’t 10% impure–this is a flat-out cave-in on a major issue. Of course it hurts! Sure, I’m thinking strategically, but I sure wish I didn’t have to.

  77. “Hold your nose and vote” and fulfill the self fulfilling prophecy.

    The only way third parties are ever going to matter is if you people start voting for them

  78. We need a ceremony where all those senate whores and congressmen that voted this bill up stand up in front of a shredder, on the six o’clock news, and each feed copies of our constitution through till it is actually confetti. This would be a public confirmation of their labors of the last eight years and the demise of freedom and liberty in the USA. How is that for a legacy?

  79. Seriously, if this shit keeps up, I wonder how much longer before Americans start voting with bullets?

    Between this, the very hypocritical government secrecy, human rights abuses and systematic attempts to keep us from voting… it’s almost as if the elite wants to see some fireworks here at home. I mean, I know they are evil fucks.. but are they also THIS damn stupid??

    How much longer till this country explodes in dissent? How much longer before we have to change our name from America to something else just so we have some sense of closure here?

    This is NOT America anymore. America is DEAD.

  80. “The only way third parties are ever going to matter is if you people start voting for them”

    only if there’s also substantial electoral reform.

    “Seriously, if this shit keeps up, I wonder how much longer before Americans start voting with bullets?”

    oh, gods, don’t even think it.

    “America is DEAD.”

    “America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath–America will be!”

  81. “Who needs external forces threatening your way of life when your elected lawmakers are doing such a good job of it?”

    I’ve been saying this for years.

    Al Qaeda doesn’t even need to fuck with us anymore. They attack us once and let our own government carry on the torch of scaring the crap out of everyone and making them miserable.

    Honestly at times I’ve been tempted to point to the things being done to Americans, by Americans, and suggest that perhaps it was part of the terrorists’ plan all along. What better way to paint the US as a den of evil than to illustrate how viciously we turn on each other when threatened.

  82. @100 Cowicide.
    I wonder the same thing all the time. If only people would start to react. Really react. Its like watching a kid get bullied and you just know that if he hit the f**king bully in the face the bully would turn out to be a coward, OR the bully would pull out a gun and at least then everyone else could really see the bullies true colours. One way or the other…just get it on.

    Why don’t the states just start to seceed. What do the states have to loose? Surely Shit like this is why the idea of secession exists in the first place.

    Washington gets all of its power from taxation and the union. No union and Washington DC becomes a very odd little state like entity that Virginia could chose to absorb.

    New Hampshire has a very lively secessionist movement and Colorado has kicked the idea around.

    After a breakup of the union, the states could form new, smaller unions based on common economic and social interests. California, Oregon and Washington states could join up and form a trading block. The North East could unite, etc. It would be the end of the drug war and of the horror of US imperialism. Taxes would stay in the state and people could move depending on the kind of environment that they wanted to live in. No more federal agencies…just think about how amazing that would be.

    Local governments are far more accountable. The way the world is moving towards larger unions is only benefiting corporations and politicians.

    Secession just makes sense. What good is the Union anymore?

  83. ‘m slpng sndr frm nw n, thnks t ths lw nd ts ffcts. Fr ths f s wh spprt ths lgsltn, th rctn f ts dtrctrs s mrly cng n th ck.

  84. Love the color of your pajamas, foneybook….oh I shouldn’t be watching for such a purpose…

  85. Screw this.
    When do the prosecutions for the Supreme War Crime of Invading Iraq begin?
    What do Americans owe Iraqis for destroying their country?
    Most Americans wish to end the Occupation. Do their voices count?
    This is distraction, the slaughter continues…
    When can Iran operate on the great principle of “Pre-emptive Strike” which your Leader felt justified in advancoing and acting upon? Or is that a Doctrine only for Democratically -elected Mass Murderers?

  86. Hmmm, the moderators’ use of linguistic “slaps” is interesting.

    So here’s the rated “G” non-Blue Mandy version: especially in the US, people outside the Creative Class social level are in real pain and due to fissures as a result of globalism, feeling less and less secure in the world.

    This is the context that must be addressed in fighting to uphold our civil liberties. Instead of censoring commenters or on the “community” side, of having egos hurts because our “role models” are imperfect and make a mistake relating to online communities questions we are all trying to figure out, those of us who believe Access to Knowledge is a fundamental human right, those who believe the War on Terror must understand a more sophisticated “network” analysis, those of us “outside” the global market-world-Boing-Boing-SF-mid-1990s-we’re-awesome-changing -the world-web fans need to spoken to with condescension, an “arrogance of reason” and a little humility.

    [Thanks for keeping the vowels in, fingers crossed] whoever you are.

  87. “I’m sleeping sounder from now on”

    Me too. It’s just so nice having a Nanny State to keep me safe in my wittle comfy bed.

    BTW, I have a rock that keeps terrorists away. I’m willing to sell – let me know.

  88. People are in “real pain” because they get imprisoned/placed on parole for smoking weed…and so the Police are for many people the enemy, no help at all…ask the people in pain..
    People outside the “Creative Class” (so many Classes) are in pain because their Leaders and Media told them it is a good thing to destroy countries that just happen to have the cheapect energy on the Planet….so that US OIL CO.s expensive-to-produce oil remain viable…
    The problem is not those outside the “Creative Class” feeling pain but rather those in the “Ruling Class” who profit from that pain….
    As to Civil Liberties, I’d be happy to see the “Ruling Class” be elected out but I guess that does not happen in the USA…
    Oh and how much has War Department spending increased
    in real terms since the end of the Cold War?
    “Never mind that. What we must discuss is the tone of some of the comments…”
    Distraction so the slaughter can continue…and it’s mostly the “Poor Class” doing the fighting and struggling with their horrific wounds…such a generous health-care system… but that’s not important, we must discuss the lack of civility in the “Left” (so-called)….

  89. @ntns, ls wnt t pblcly bjct t yr sbjctv s f “dsmvwlmnt.” t ws rnc n th dy tht th NYX shnd lght n ths prctc, mkng t sm lk th rctnry, ftn ms-sd prctc t s, y gn ms-rd yr fns’ pssn.

    Ys, m pssnt bt th ss; ddn’t vr nt ny ht spch; ddn’t slf-prmt myslf; wndr bt th hypcrsy hr nd pprct th rlr rspns bck, bt wndr why mr gnz-lss rnst blggng/cmmntng wrtng styl s s frd by r BngBng gds.

    @mthd, chck t my rspns t th rrgnc f rsn by th ntnss, Dnh Byds nd Cry Ds f th wrld.

    wnt t b clr tht cnsdr Cry frnd (hpflly nt strngd), rspct Dnh mmnsly nd pprct wht hrd jb mdrtng BB s.

    BT — t’s tm tht w ll xmn r wn “rrgnc f rsn,” tht w ll lk n th mrrr nd wndr, s “scrty” ftr “ntnl scrty”, rwlln stt prctc psss, “rtnl” ndvdl mght dmt th nd t r-cnsdr sm f r wn bst prctcs dwn t th grnlr lvl.

    Ys, fl pssnt bt ths sss nd hp BB wll r-xmn ts mdrtn nd cmmnty plcs s thy r lttl lss hypcrtcl, mr hmbl nd whn ppl ctlly D crss “ht-spch” r “vndctv” ln, ths nstncs r hndld n wy tht yr wn cmmnty cn ndrstnd nd spprt.

    1. Lewis,

      If you have comments about moderation, you can post them in the Moderation Policy thread, after you’ve read the post and the comments.

  90. Isn’t there an old Texas practise of using “Flash Bombs” to scare a herd into going the direction desired?
    In retrospect, in light of the changes in Gov practice re war, wiretapping, Geneva Conventions, torture, War spending….
    Was 9-11 a tactic to get the herd moving in a desired direction?
    Using “cut-outs”(old CIA term)?
    No 9-11, none of the worst changes in Gov could stand scrutiny…
    The changes made do not without Media distraction pass scrutiny even after 9-11…
    The wiretapping started pre-9/11….
    In fact no matter who or what motivated the Criminal Attacks of 9/11, the Gov response to it is unforgivable…
    Who can forget GWB climbing onto the mass grave, the still smoldering rubble to swear revenge? Was that not his best moment?
    Personally I hate all politicians who climb onto fresh mass graves to promote war against other people ….

  91. I bet that Madison is spinning in his grave. After all, he’s the one who wrote the BOR.

  92. As a Canadian, I usually shake my head in dismay at American gun culture and the militia thing. Not after this.

  93. If our system of politics is such that we feel we have no realistic choice to influence politics other than voting for the least evil of two choices, the system is fundamentally broken. If democracy is fundamentally broken in the US, talking about voting no longer makes much sense. Voting for a democrat, third party, even refusing to vote at all…all these things only matter in a functional democracy.

    Our country is broken beyond what can be repaired by our broken electoral system. This doesn’t mean it’s time to get all moody and cynical or pretend like we’re going to leave the country. It means we need to start organizing. We need to take the energy and passion we have for electoral politics and apply it to projects and movements that can actually influence society.

    Start local workshops about encryption. Organize a group to monitor police behavior in your area. Do creative public protests to draw attention to the rights we’re losing. Find people who are suffering right now from having their rights stripped and ask what you can do to help them. Insert your own way cooler idea here.

    There’s plenty of hope for change today, it just doesn’t come through politicians.

  94. The Democrats are a three ring circus in different tents. I admire the Republican Party, I don’t agree with them, but I do admire them. Republicans have a vision for their country, they have a plan to achieve that vision, and they work together to do so.

    For better or worse we are stuck with Obama, and his party is still voting to save their local butts, while Republicans keep hammering away. Republicans have successfully drawn together their voters. They help their voters make the connection between local success and a national vision, and vice verse.

    Democrats being the only alternative, means everyone left out of Republican politics gets lumped into the Democratic party. The solution is more political parties. With more parties voters would feel their needs were represented, giving them better connections to their party leaders. This makes people feel like their vote counts. Smaller parties bring together geography separated like-minded people. Creating openly discreet groups under a Democratic umbrella would reduce squabbling by codifying the coalition building process both locally and nationally. This creates obligations to deliver votes locally and nationally.

    The Democratic Party is diverse, that is good, but that diversity is also our Achilles’ leg. The Democrats would be better served by embracing and organizing that diversity into more effective smaller groups. It’s not like the minorities, marginalized by both party leaderships, once banded together would suddenly vote Republican. Both parties would probably compete for their votes the same way they come a courting Union voters, Cuban voters, etc. Smaller parties must create inter-dependent alliances. In fact these smaller parties would probably draw members from the Republican party as well. Republicans are not as monolithic as their voting implies.

  95. AIRPILLO@102: Al Qaeda didn’t have much to do with it in the first place. We’ve had this perpetrated upon us by our own government since 1963 (ok, 1913 technically, with the Federal Reserve Act, but it really picked up steam in Dallas in 1963 and because we collectively looked the other way, it was time to give us a nudge on 9-11-2001 so they could have a new war and context to dash the rest of our rights.) This ain’t nothing new.

    1. Method,

      Try to avoid language like ‘hysterical’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’. It gives other commenters the impression that you don’t respect them.

  96. perhaps this is a good thing. Before, they spied on you anyway illegally. Now you know for a fact they are listening to everything you say so you will be more careful and not give them anything.

    Doesn’t make sense, does it? By making their spying overt, they kill effectiveness. Unless the object isn’t spying. Think of the Mafia. A group aware every thing they do or say is spied on. For decades. Are they out of business? Are they even intimidated? Take your new lesson from them, learn all they use.

    People survived in East Germany under the Stasi, thrived even – if they had the right qualities. Time to go with the flow and become what the changed environment demands. Remember: it is only criminal if a minority is doing it. Otherwise it is called “social mores”. Those exploiting their temporary edge from driving the sheep will be more frustrated if the people join them whole-heartedly instead of futilely fighting them. I recommend reading Herbert’s Dosadi Experiment.

  97. First, it is important to note that I am not American but my wife (Democrat) is. I am therefore directly affected and involved as a result of this.

    On a side note, it is great to be treated like a criminal each time I arrive ‘home’. There will be a further slap in the face when I have to advise them in advance of my arrival later this year.

    Obama has supported the FISA vote despite knowing that the current President’s actions of phone tapping were in direct breach of the law and therefore illegal. The immunity for telecommunication companies is irrelevant here.

    What IS relevant is the Constitution, the Fourth Amendment, and the Rule of Law. From the Wikipedia entry re the Fourth:

    (LINK: Link )

    “…judicially sanctioned search and arrest warrants must be supported by probable cause and be limited in scope according to specific information supplied by a person (usually a peace officer) who has sworn by it and is therefore accountable to the issuing court.”

    When Obama is President it his duty (under oath) to defend the Constitution and uphold the law. Knowing that someone has committed a felony and failing to act upon this is, I believe, a felony in itself.

    I wonder what Mr. Obama’s intentions are with regard to overturning some of the egregious actions that the present incumbent has enacted, what he intends to do with regard to restoring the Constitution to its true status, ensuring he represents and represents the TRUE will of the American people.

    I am sure this extract from the DoI is familiar:

    “He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

    He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

    Sound familiar?

    Justice and the Rule of Law should prevail. Mr. Obama, by agreeing to the FISA bill is clearly acting against the will of the people. Voters should remember that and be asking Mr. Obama his position regarding the upholding of the Rule of Law.

    Show by your actions that you WILL ‘hold [YOUR] leader’s accountable’ and not use ‘I cannot promise to agree…’ as a syntactical get out clause.

  98. Subsequent events often illuminate the springs and sources of the Past.
    How long was it after the burning of the Reichstag that the true perpetrators were discovered? And what had transpired in the interim?
    Read more History, there is nothing new under the Sun…

  99. From the NY Times article:

    “While the N.S.A. would be allowed to seek court orders for broad groups of foreign targets, the law creates a new seven-day period for directing wiretaps at foreigners without a court order in “exigent” circumstances if government officials assert that important national security information would be lost. The law also expands to seven days, from three, the period for emergency wiretaps on Americans without a court order if the attorney general certifies there is probable cause to believe the target is linked to terrorism.”

    It seems like 95% of this site’s readers/writers think EVERYONE in the US is subject to sweeping, rampant “illegal” wiretapping and the fourth amendment has been completely abolished. That simply isn’t so. If by some insane reason the government suspects I (specifically) am a national security threat, establishes probable cause, and decides to issue an emergency wiretap and then proceeds to listen to me talk to my girlfriend about what we want for dinner, who f*ing cares? Personally, I dont give two craps about how much spying they do on specifically targeted foreigners. You all remember the thwarted attack on Rammstein AFB some months ago? That was prevented due to the NSA sharing information gathered by these very wiretaps with German authorities.

  100. Finally, I state again that regardless of who perpetrated 9/11, it is the actions of your Politicians since that day that have brought odium upon the USA and it seems tears to the eyes of many many of its children….
    I somehow doubt that this Administration was good enough to nail the ID of the Perps WITHIN HOURS of the Attack…IIRC Sec State General Powell (son heads Fed Comm Commission, regulator of all Media Mass in the USA): “This was Al-Qaeda.” within 15 hours of the Attack…who needs to investigate? And of course since perps all DEAD only charge left for Gov to pursue in Afghan hills and Iraqi Oil Fields is “conspirators” guilty of CONSPIRACY (breathing together)….
    So who is the “conspiracy theorist”?

  101. @#29 – The Romans were using encryption ±2000 years ago.

    @#79 – PGP is “pretty good” as the name implies, but still crackable. There are millions of unbreakable encryption schemes available “in the air” but none for sale it seems.

    Recommend we all start using encryption even if it is imperfect. Wiretappers still have to spend *at least* a coupla hours trying to break your code — it just aint worth the time so they can read your email to grandma (or whomever).

  102. Nt t dmnsh th srsnss f th sttn, bt hw mny f y trng yr hr t r ll fr gn cntrl lws?

    Th 2nd mndmnt ws jst phld by th Sprm Crt.

    Dn’t try t s th rgmnt tht nly mlts shld hv gns; s ws pntd t drng th crt dlbrtns, th Frmrs hd ntndd ths t b nthr ln f dfns n th vnt tht n rgnzd plc frc r rmy ws vlbl. ls, t s yr dfns gnst tyrnncl gvrnmnt. Ths s nt bt rdncks nd gngbngrs bng bl t kll gm nd sbrbnts; ths s bt prsrvng yr frdm.

    Y shld b scrd tht y hv t b pt nt dtbs fr mrly wnng gn. Th frst stp tyrnncl tkvr cld d s pck p ll th lgl gns (lvng th crmnls wth th nly gns.)

    n tht, sy, tks wy THR Cnstttnl rghts. Lk th Frth mndmnt. Myb ths wll nvr b sd fr nythng thr thn tmtd scnnng fr cd wrds; hwvr, f trps strt rmng th strts Bghdd-styl shrtly ftr th gns r cnfsctd, wll, dn’t sy ddn’t tll y s.

    Qstn th mtvs nd llgnc f nyn wh wnts t tk wy NY Cnstttnl rghts.

  103. #57: “The supreme court will never let this stand.”

    The current court – maybe.
    A court with a McCain appointment or two – definitely.

    I will vote for and support Obama despite this FISA vote. No candidate is ever perfect, and I will not be divorcing my wife for her few annoying flaws.

    Life is full of compromises and gray areas.


  104. BTW – I found the link @#128 by searching the phrase, “encrypted drive implies guilt”

  105. if you find yourself oppressed by armed police and soldiers, take a gun from them and reply in kind.

  106. I am truly ashamed of Pelosi for pushing this bill through the House and Feinstein for supporting this measure in the Senate. So much for them representing ‘San Francisco values.’

    I guess money still talks, even in San Francisco…

  107. Ths s smthng ‘v bn thnkng fr whl, bt nw ‘d jst lk t cm t nd sy t:

    wll stnd by th gn wnrs nd dfnd th 2nd mndmnt f thy’ll stnd by m nd dfnd th 4th nd 5th (nd 1st nd 6th nd 9th, nd myb vn th 3rd, wh knws?).

    Ths ffr ds nt pply t th NR.

  108. @136
    I find myself oppressed by the endless sea of wrongdoers that the armed police and soldiers shield me from.

  109. “It doesn’t matter which third party you choose to pick but for me I’m going with Barr and the Libertarian party.”

    That’s great. The Greens and granola heads elected Bush in 2000, and now the goddamn libertarians are going to elect no-brain McCain. jUST GREAT.

    TWIMC, It’s becoming like a mantra: Learn the difference between discreet and discrete.

  110. Bb Ftt Dp: ‘ll tk y p n tht.

    dn’t ndrstnd th trdtnl lfty ppstn t wnng rms. Th Bll f Rghts ws wn by bldy, rvltnry wr. Whn th ppl’s vts, th ppl’s wll, nd th ppl’s rghts rn’t hnrd by th gvrnmnt, t’s th ppl’s rspnsblty t clm thr rghts by frc.

    Th dy wll cm whn w hv chc btwn ccptng tyrnny r stndng tll wth crg n r hrts nd rfls n r hnds, rdy t dfnd wth frc th rghts tht r cmptrts wn wth frc lng g. Tht dy mght nt b tdy, bt t wll cm. Wht wll y d whn t ds? Wht wll yr chldrn d? f y dny yrslf th ptn t dfnd yr wn rghts by frc, y’r lft wth th ptn f ccptng tyrnny.

    d wht cn t dfnd my rghts nd yrs by vtng t phld th cnstttn s mch s pssbl, by spprtng rgnztns lk th FF tht fght tyrnny thrgh ltgtn, nd by kpng my rfl n wrkng rdr. ws rsd lfty pcfst, nd s mch s ‘d lk t nvr nd tht rfl, knw my cvc dty nclds kpng t rdy.

    T prmptvly ddrss th nvtbl “bt th bd gys wll hv bmbs nd tnks, s wht gd s yr rfl” rgmnt; tk lk t th wr n rq nd ntc tw thngs: Frst, th wrld’s mst pwrfl mltry hs rgh tm spprssng fw mlln ppl wth smll r mprvsd rms. Scnd, th bttls wn n cts r lrgly wn by ft sldrs wth rfls. Th tnks, bmbs, nd plns gv grt spprt, bt grp f hmns wth rfls s th mst ffctv wpn t thr. Bfr rfls t ws bws nd sprs. t’s nt lkly t chng ny tm sn.

    1. Once again, this is not a gun control debate. Any attempts to hijack the thread to that topic will be disemvowelled.

  111. #126
    It seems like 95% of this site’s readers/writers think EVERYONE in the US is subject to sweeping, rampant “illegal” wiretapping and the fourth amendment has been completely abolished.

    I’m not sure how we got that idea. Maybe from the fact that the NSA was engaged in sweeping, rampant “illegal” wiretapping of EVERYONE in the US, and the Congress just shielded them from any civil or criminal liability.

    They don’t explicitly state, “The 4th amendment not longer applies, so you don’t have to get warrants to spy on Americans.” Just, “It’s ‘illegal’ to spy on Americans without a warrant, but you’ll never be punished for it. So, wink wink.”

  112. ntns: thnk y hv md mstk nd msrd th cntnt f my nw-dsmvwlld cmmnt. My cmmnt hd nthng t d wth gn cntrl lws t ll, r vn th scnd mndmnt xcpt fr ndrctly. t ws drct rspns t nthr cmmntr nd drctly rlvnt t th rgnl pst’s tpc f sslts n th frth mndmnt nd hw ctzns cn prtct thmslvs frm sch sslts n thr rghts. Why m nt llwd t prps tht ppl dfnd th rghts tht th rgnl pst cmplns r bng tkn wy? Pls rcnsdr.

  113. Know what I love about BB? I like to read articles about warrant less wiretapping AND watch Verizon ads at the beginning of BBtv spots. Makes me smile. Hey! Wait! Wait! could we have a BBtv episode that talks about Verizon’s participation in the spying AND the ad in the same spot? Please?? To top it all off here is an EFF link for fun.

  114. Thr s rsn why r lctd ffcls vtd fr ths. Thr’s prf tht wrtppng s wrkng t kpng r cntry sf. vn Sn. bm knws ths, nd h’s nt stpd. S f y thnk yr smrtr thn hm, g hd nd snd ff. Jst rmmbr, nythng y sy lvs frvr n th nt.

  115. “‘m nt sr hw w gt tht d. Myb frm th fct tht th NS ws nggd n swpng, rmpnt “llgl” wrtppng f VRYN n th S, nd th Cngrss jst shldd thm frm ny cvl r crmnl lblty.” – n t wsn’t. t ws nggd n swpng wrtppng nly f th cmmnctns gng crss th brdr. n thr shckng nws, gvrnmnt ls rds lttr tht g crss th brdr, nd srchs bgs f ppl wh trvl crss th brdr – wtht ny wrrnt, prbbl cs r crt rdr. nd t’s bn dng t fr cntrs.

    4th mndmnt ds nt prtct y whn y r yr cmmnctns crss th brdr, prd. gt t thrgh yr thck lrmst sclls.

  116. #150: Watch what you say? Where have we heard that before?
    Cited “proof” not fit for public consumption?

  117. #150: “Watch what you say?” Well Hello Ari! Where have we heard that before?
    Cited “proof” not fit for public consumption?
    There are many things proven to work which, nevertheless, are Criminal and Illegal not because they work but they work only too well…..oh you’re really talking why the Congress purported to “legalize” torture….aren’t you?

  118. ntns: ‘d lk t pnt t ths tm frm Bng Bng’s mdrtn plcy:
    “9. Drggng n n f ths tpcs tht’s grntd t gnrt hg thrsh tht gs nwhr, lk gn cntrl, brtn, r Mc vs. PC vs. Lnx. Y’r nly llwd t dscss ths f (.) thy’r rlvnt t th ntry; nd (b.) vryn n th dscssn s dng thr lvl bst t sy smthng nw.”

    Nw, vn thgh my cmmnt ws nt bt gn cntrl lws, cn ndrstnd tht ppl mght rd t tht wy. Hwvr, blv tht vn whn rd tht wy, t flflls bth ths cndtns. Why sn’t t vld, n dscssn f ttcks n ppl’s rghts, t sggst tht dfndng ths rghts my b prt f ctzn’s cvc dty? Hw cn w hv dscssn bt lsng r rght t prvcy f w rn’t llwd t dscss dfndng t?

  119. People lose their fundamental right to security when independent people start using weapons…

  120. @93

    That message the Nader voters sent in 2000, boy, that was a doozy, wasn’t it? Made Bush stand up and listen, eh? Set him straight in a hurry. Changed the way government does business, didn’t it? Rewrote the election procedures. cleaned up government. reinstated civil liberties.

    Sooo your idea is to not vote for who represents you or follows the Constitution, but instead to pick between which major party will screw you over less?

    By not voting for who will do the best job, then you shouldn’t vote at all. I get the point people have about Nader but the problem is we will always have the Nader effect if people keep limiting themselves to only voting for either one of the broke major parties.

    If more people instead of just giving up and voting Donkey or Elephant, got mad enough to stand up for whats right, third parties would be able to get the level of votes needed in order for real change to take place.

    Don’t lecture me about “wasting” my vote by voting third party, as your the one who causes the problem in the first place.

  121. #138:
    You forgot the words “their fear of” between the words “that” and “the”. Accuracy please….you’re not holed up under police protection and under fire from a lynch mob are you?
    Reading between the lines, you seem to be the kind of person who calls a spade a spade, you should strive for accuracy.
    I prefer Democracy to Phobocracy, personally, and my strongest support is the love of my fellow citizens (not some over-paid under-worked para-military force).

  122. you can bet your ass Nader would’ve voted against this.
    say what you want about himbeing a spoiler, a crotchety old man etc. etc.
    He is the only one who would actually do right for the people, not the corporations.

    “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

  123. @#139

    If your golden boy Obama can’t win in a landslide against McCain, that is not my fault. I have the right to vote and I’m sorry if I don’t agree with how you’d cast, but in light of the actions of both major parties I can’t not in good conscious vote for either Obama or McCain.

    And the Libertarians actually fight for the Constitution and wouldn’t compromise on issues this important. Wise up or cry about more of the same later on, your call.

  124. Talking of which, how did the warrantless wire-tapping clauses go in Europe the other day?

  125. There are some people working on educational material based on Little Brother, but it takes time and lots of proofing out before it can be released- one such set of lessons is being done for the Sacramento Society of Friends Meeting, but it has just been started and is a part time effort for now.

    Until then, read w1n5t0n’s links on or try out w1n5t0n’s instructables. If you just don’t get the concepts, try going to a local pc, tech, bsd or linux users group, as I am sure FISA and Little Brother are going to be the hot topics of discussion. Someone there can probably be of more assistance to you in implementing PGP/GPG right now.

  126. Regarding sweeping warrantless wiretapping… well… I heard from a friend of mine whose company has hosting at a couple of ATT data centers, that the big bell didn’t even wait for the FISA vote to put in racks and racks of DSC-1000’s in all of their data centers. You know the DSC-1000, they used to be known as Carnivore systems?

    If a Tier 1 provider is colluding with the Feds of their own free will to capture ALL data center traffic, then, yes, we are being spied on all of the time. Because there are very very few Tier 1 network providers, and everybody else has to traverse them in order to get somewhere else, that means a majority of network traffic, including VOIP, is being captured and sifted. And I would have to just guess that the other carriers aren’t far behind if the money/influence from the Feds is right.

  127. @ #20 posted by dunnright
    “If you have nothing to hide, what are you worrying about?”

    OK – go out into the street right now and remove your clothes.

    NOW, do you understand the difference between guilt and privacy?

  128. Wow… Who didn’t see this one coming?
    –Obama voting against protecting your privacy–
    McCain didn’t vote but at least he doesn’t hide his true colors…
    With that said, I’m voting for Nader!

  129. #30 – Really? So we should just go with the choices presented to us? You’re letting them win by buying into the status quo. That is not how democracy should or can work, though it is what we have come to accept. There is no logical reason that we should persist in a two party system of non-choice if that system is broken.

    I used to think that a third party vote was a waste, but I have revised that view. It can be more. It is not a waste to vote on your principles. If more people did we could have viable options to compete with the status quo. Perhaps current policy and economic trends will lead to people finally being outraged enough to make their voices heard. Are you outraged enough?

    Thank you #36 and #158.

  130. Don’t lecture me about “wasting” my vote by voting third party, as your the one who causes the problem in the first place.

    Even if you get rid of the two party system and get the perfect condercet voting method, you think that makes the idiots who would vote Bush a third term if they could, you think that makes those people suddenly stop voting or go away or something? At this moment, 25% of Americans approve of Bush’s work as president. That’s like 75 million people supporting the worst president in history.

    You think if you get rid of the two party system and implement the perfect condercet voting approach that those 75 million people will suddenly stop supporting Bush?

    your the one who causes the problem

    Welcome to democracy. If you think the people doing the voting are the problem, then what you’re really advocating is some form of Tyranny. Probably with your third party candidate in power. And don’t let anyone else vote.

    If more people instead of just giving up and voting Donkey or Elephant, got mad enough to stand up for whats right, third parties would be able to get the level of votes needed in order for real change to take place.

    This is third-party fantasy porn right here, on par with a plumber knocking on the door to do a house call and some woman answers the door naked. Bow chicka bow wow plays in the background.

    as if getting rid of the two party system will make the people who always vote for militant assholes to suddenly vote for a progressive, forward thinking, independent candidate who thinks wars are bad.

    As if getting rid of the two-party system will make the voters who are willing to sacrifice their liberties for the illusion of security will suddenly decide to vote for some third party candidate from the ACLU.

    What country do you live in, and have you noticed the voting public around you? You’re not going to make those people go away or suddenly shift their political beliefs if you implement condercet voting.

  131. @162,

    “I can’t not [sic] in good conscious [sic] vote for either Obama or McCain.”

    Now that you have declared, through a swarm of double negatives, that you ARE going to vote for one of them, which one is in the lead?

    Remember, it helps to be as conscious as possible when voting. It also helps to know the difference between it and conscience, or at least how to spell the difference.

  132. @ #171 – Democratic principle and electoral method are two different topics. Democracy gives us the opportunity to vote for whatever foolishness we prefer, even if its tyrannical and idiotic. I think the situation in Iraq has reminded us that you can’t force democracy on anyone. Getting rid of a two party system won’t make anyone vote more intelligently, but a change to something like proportional representation would make it more likely that more Americans’ voices are heard. There are more possibilities than the status quo.

  133. So, it appears that the democratic senators voted pretty much based on whether their state is red or blue. I list all the dem senators below by how they voted on the FISA bill, and cross reference with how their state voted in the 2004 presidential election.

    Pretty much, if the state went blue in 2004, they voted against the bill. If the state went red in 2004, they voted for the bill. There are a few exceptions that I can’t quite figure out. But it seems that the senators voted in a way that they think best represents their constituents and will allow them to be reelected.

    If so, the problem is in the voters, not the voting system.

    class senatorname (party-state) fisa-vote 2004-state-result

    2004-state-result => which presidential candidate won 2004 vote for that state d=democrat, r=republican

    vote follows 2004 presidential result
    2 Baucus (D-MT), Yea r
    2 Johnson (D-SD), Yea r
    2 Landrieu (D-LA), Yea r
    2 Pryor (D-AR), Yea r
    2 Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea r
    3 Bayh (D-IN), Yea r
    3 Lincoln (D-AR), Yea r
    3 Salazar (D-CO), Yea r
    1 McCaskill (D-MO), Yea r
    1 Conrad (D-ND), Yea r
    1 Nelson (D-FL), Yea r
    1 Nelson (D-NE), Yea r
    1 Webb (D-VA), Yea r

    vote follows 2004 presidential result
    2 Biden (D-DE), Nay d
    2 Durbin (D-IL), Nay d
    2 Harkin (D-IA), Nay r
    2 Kerry (D-MA), Nay d
    2 Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay d
    2 Levin (D-MI), Nay d
    2 Reed (D-RI), Nay d
    3 Wyden (D-OR), Nay d
    3 Boxer (D-CA), Nay d
    3 Dodd (D-CT), Nay d
    3 Feingold (D-WI), Nay d
    3 Leahy (D-VT), Nay d
    3 Murray (D-WA), Nay d
    3 Schumer (D-NY), Nay d
    1 Akaka (D-HI), Nay d
    1 Cantwell (D-WA), Nay d
    1 Cardin (D-MD), Nay d
    1 Clinton (D-NY), Nay d
    1 Menendez (D-NJ), Nay d
    1 Stabenow (D-MI), Nay d
    1 Sanders (I-VT), Nay d
    1 Klobuchar (D-MN), Nay d

    democratic state, but voted for bill anyway? sellout?
    3 Inouye (D-HI), Yea d
    3 Mikulski (D-MD), Yea d
    1 Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea d
    1 Carper (D-DE), Yea d
    1 Casey (D-PA), Yea d
    1 Feinstein (D-CA), Yea d

    republican state but voted against bill anyway! brave soul?
    3 Dorgan (D-ND), Nay r
    3 Reid (D-NV), Nay r
    1 Bingaman (D-NM), Nay r
    1 Brown (D-OH), Nay r
    1 Byrd (D-WV), Nay r
    1 Tester (D-MT), Nay r

    The one remaining democrat is Obama, who voted for the bill. He’s from Illinois, which went blue in 2004, but he isn’t just running for senate reelection.

    3 Obama (D-IL), Yea d

    So, the question would be if Obama voted against the bill, would he guarantee that he couldn’t win the presidential election? And given all the republicans voted in favor, and all teh dems from red states voted in favor, Obama wasn’t going to be able to stop the bill from passing.

  134. I was just in Chicago for a wedding, and spoke with another guest who was working on Obama’s campaign.

    I told him that Obama’s backing of this had completely neutralized my support for him–wondering what his quasi-official response would be.

    He said that the lawsuits’ being thrown out would only protect the telcoms from debilitation by financial disembowelment–which, of course, ‘we cannot afford’–and that this immunity would not prevent the courts’ ability to mete out criminal (as opposed to civil) justice.

    My immediate, regrettable reply was that ‘yes we can afford to let the civil suits proceed’.

    The better reply would have been ‘Can we afford to HAVE such telcoms, if we cannot afford to hold them SUBJECT TO LAW?’

    What would (or could) Obama say to that?

  135. Antinous, sometimes civility toward stupidity is tolerance of obscenity. I was making the point that next door to “the constitution is in shreds! the jackboots are at the door!” is “the government was behind 9/11”, which is factually a conspiracy theory. An impartial observer would see many of these comments as hysterical.

    1. method,

      If you meet an impartial observer, run, because it’s not human and will probably view you as a consumable resource.

  136. @#171

    A thousand times no. You missed all my points across the board.

    I’m not promoting a new tyrannical government, and I’m not even suggesting that the 75 million folks who like Bush shouldn’t be able to vote or that they’d magically disappear.

    The radical idea I’m suggesting is to not vote for crooked parties and politicians who have been repeatedly screwing the public over for decades. Stop the presses I’m out of control over here.

    If enough people stopped giving in and voting for the lesser of two evils each election year, we might have enough votes to counter act people who would blindly follow Bush down the path he is leading us.

    Also, can you name me another country that ONLY has two major parties that controls the whole government? There is bound to be an example that I just can’t recall right now but it seems pretty dumb to me that we do this every single election. We get two horrible choices, complain about it and instead of trying to fix the problem we tell each other to simply hold our noses and hope it turns out differently this time.


  137. @#172

    Whoops. Somewhere between the passion of my thoughts and my fingers, there was a confusion.

    I will not vote for either Obama or McCain.

  138. rpt: wrntlss wrtps pply nly t th phn clls t r frm brd. s f y’r gng wthrmn trrrst n nw yrk nd y’r cllng yr bddy bm n chcg, y hv nthng t wrry bt.

    gss wht, yr lttrs frm r t brd cn b pnd wtht wrrnt. whn y crss th brdr, yr bggg, cr r pckts cn b srchd wtht wrrnt, prbbl cs, r ny ffcl xcs whtsvr.

    n thr wrds, 4th mndmnt nvr, vr ppld t cmmnctns crssng th brdr.

    1. liberpolly,

      You’re on a time-out for two weeks. Drop us a note if you want to be reinstated when your two weeks are up.

  139. So who’s ready for that zombie outbreak? :D

    :[ This sucks. Yet another blow to the Constitution..

  140. Greg @ 171,

    I appreciate it doesn’t work that way in the US, but there are other democratic forms of government. In the Netherlands, we have a bunch of different parties, and no single party is ever alone at the helm. The cabinet of ministers will be made up of a coalition of different parties that have a majority of the votes (usually) and are able to compromise into working together. Opposition is strong with all the other parties in the second chamber. I’m sorry that I don’t know the equivalents, if any, in the US system.

    This is not perfect, but in my view it’s a whole lot better than the American system.

    To address your remark about the people still voting for Bush: in the US system, you can’t really tell if the people who are Republican really support Bush. I bet there are still a lot of people who believe in America (… brave and the free, etc) and want strong leadership, and believe that backing your leader is the way to go. This makes sense, especially in a society of “you’re either a winner or a loser.”
    Then there are the people who believe Bush really is doing a good job.
    I’m trying to point out the fact that there is little choice. Rep/Dem is lesser of two evils, and what you’re saying about third parties makes sense as well.

    My point is that I think that people would make less black and white choices (pro-Bush, contra-Bush / pro-war, contra-war / etc) if there would be some actual, measurable choice to make. From an outside view, your two parties aren’t all that far apart. Calling Dems left and Reps right makes your center of vision pretty skewed (not saying you did.)

    Conclusion, the two party system is broken. I think we can all agree on that bit though.

  141. broken = generating representative who do not share the views of the majority of their constituents.

  142. METHOD: “sometimes civility toward stupidity is tolerance of obscenity.”

    -You are absolutely right. Our tolerance of your ignorance is a case in point, but we are still trying very hard to do so anyway, though surely the point is lost on you. I’m not going to waste time attempting to present logic to a troll. Good day.

  143. blu@179: If enough people stopped giving in and voting for the lesser of two evils each election year, we might have enough votes to counter act people who would blindly follow Bush down the path he is leading us.

    Dude, seriously, you’re not getting it.

    IT isn’t that people think they’re voting for the lesser of two evils. It’s that 50 million people voted for Bush because they thought he was the best choice in 2000. Better than Gore. Better than Nader. Better than anything else.

    It is third-party fantasy porn to say that the 50 million people who voted for Bush would have voted for Nader if we had a better voting system. They wanted Bush.

    And it’s equally a third party fantasy to say that all the democrats who voted for Clinton and Obama to be their candidate in the primary would have voted for (insert unknown third party candidate here) if given the chance. They HAD the chance to nominate whoever tehy wanted. They voted for Clinton and Obama.

    Saying that people are just giving in to the two party system and would gladly elect your third party candidate if only we had condercet voting, is like saying “the lurkers support me in email”.

    No. They don’t. They nominated McCain and they nominated Obama. The next biggest runner ups were Romney and CLinton.

    Your fantasy is that everyone aorund you would vote for (insert third party candidate here) if they just wouldn’t “cave in” to the evil two party system. Which is convenient for you, because you’ve cast yourself as Don Quixote and you’ve taken on the mission of tilting this two-party windmill, and you think you’re attacking the cause of why people didn’t vote for (insert third party candidate here). And if you can somehow succeed in your mission, you think everyone will vote third party.


    Next time you’re walking around out in public, take a look at the people around you, and say this to yourself: Most of these poeple chose to vote for Bush or Gore in 2000. Most of these poeple chose to vote for Bush or Kerry in 2004.

    most voters aren’t voting for republicans and democrats against their wills.

    The lurkers do not support you in email.

  144. remmelt@186: Conclusion, the two party system is broken. I think we can all agree on that bit though

    I would love to see the US drop the electoral college crap and I would love to see a condercet voting method implemented for US elections.

    The main reason is the system as it is, takes away the voices of a lot of people, even people who vote for the main two parties.

    Say you vote for a republican candidate in a state where most of the people vote for the democratic candidate. All the electoral votes for your state go to the democratic candidate. WHich disenfranchises republican voters in blue states and democrat voters in red states.

    But I think that most republicans would say that Bush or some republican candidate would better represent their views than some third party candidate.

    And I think that most democrats would say that Obama or Clinton would better represent their views than some third party candidate.

    Note that I say most. WHich means that most voters get representation in the election.

    The one time they do NOT get representation is when a lot of people vote third party, and their second choice (if we had a condercet system) would be to vote for the Democrat candidate. But because so many vote third party, the democrat loses, and the republican wins.

    Which means that MOST americans didn’t get represented in that situation.

    Third party folks like blu are advocating that it is the two-party system that is keeping people from voting for the third party candidates that they really want. But that’s fantasy, to think that everyone will end up picking your candidate if it weren’t for some bureacratic loophole.

    So, yeah, I agree the majority-vote-wins election process encourages a two-party system contributing to voter disenfranchisment, and the electoral college further contributes to voter disenfranchisement.

    But that doesn’t mean that everyone would suddenly vote for blu’s candidate if they had the chance.

  145. Anti-nous, you were like a referee who only calls fouls made against the home team in this comment thread.

    What CTerrian said wasn’t a threat. He was talking about being accountable for your arguments, say in case there’s another attack. I’m an Obama man, but what Liberpolly said in his last comment about Obama’s neighbor was kind of funny and made in support of his argument. And it’s totally incomprehensible what was offensive about Flaming Phonebook’s comment.

    But these are cool:
    “Was 9-11 a tactic to get the herd moving in a desired direction?”
    “The twin towers of freedom and privacy have just collapsed with cameras rolling…” (I kind of like this one, actually)
    Also, apparently I’m a troll.

    Discussions will always proceed smoothly if you selectively filter out one side of the argument.

  146. I understand.

    “But I think that most republicans would say that Bush or some republican candidate would better represent their views than some third party candidate.”

    Not only the system should provide in more than two parties, the population should also note that it’s in their best interest to vote for people who are (more) interested in their well being. It should no longer be “most republicans” (though there will always be republicans, like we have entire families that always vote for the christian party) or “most democrats.”

  147. It is third-party fantasy porn to say that the 50 million people who voted for Bush would have voted for Nader if we had a better voting system. They wanted Bush.

    Next time you’re walking around out in public, take a look at the people around you, and say this to yourself: Most of these people chose to vote for Bush or Gore in 2000. Most of these people chose to vote for Bush or Kerry in 2004.

    Quick point: wikipedia lists the population of the U.S. at 304,567,000, so most of those people probably just couldnt give a toss about Bush, Kerry, Gore or anyone else. Cant say I blame them, mind.

  148. method, you’ve got like a half dozen posts. Antinous’ history looks like a phone book. When you’ve managed even half the cut-and-thrust he has and still not been banned or hunted with torches and pitchforks – I’ll give you some credibility.

  149. remmelt@192: Not only the system should provide in more than two parties, the population should also note that it’s in their best interest to vote for people who are (more) interested in their well being.

    yeah, that’s another problem, but it isn’t part of the system, it’s part of the people. It’s been shown that people mostly vote along their political views, not along the lines of their own best interest.

    I point to the political views of people here who swear they will now vote third party instead of voting for Obama. If the race is close, they may cost Obama the election, and the only possible winner is McCain. At which point, these people voted against their own best interests, and put the candidate they least wanted in the white house.

    Education would help that, but then again, if voters were all geniuses, then they’d all be voting for the same, perfect, candidate, right?


    The point isn’t to have a system that works when perfect people are running it. The point is to have a system that works even when the people in it are flawed, screwed up, and in some cases downright evil.

  150. Though much of this discussion has been salient, we have digressed. Though late in this discussion, I like to reiterate: Here’s why it happened (for those who did not bother to click on the link to the related thread from earlier in the day):

    This is just a small sample, mind you:

    Telecom Contributions – 2006

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker of the House
    Time Warner $13,200
    AT&T Inc $13,000
    Comcast Corp $10,000
    Communications Workers of America $10,000
    National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $10,000
    Total Pelosi $56,200

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chmn. Sen. Intell. Cmte.
    AT&T Inc $16,000
    National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $16,000
    BellSouth Corp $14,900
    Total Rockefeller $46,900

    Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-CA), House Majority Leader
    AT&T Inc $12,000
    Comcast Corp $10,000
    National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $10,000
    Time Warner $10,000
    Total Hoyer $42,000

    Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader
    BellSouth Corp $31,050

    Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader
    AT&T Inc $22,000

    Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader
    NelNet Inc $19,600

    OK, contrast this list with this statement made by Barack Obama the week before the Wisconsin primary:

    “I am proud to stand with Senator Dodd, Senator Feingold and a grassroots movement of Americans who are refusing to let President Bush put protections for special interests ahead of our security and our liberty. There is no reason why telephone companies should be given blanket immunity to cover violations of the rights of the American people – we must reaffirm that no one in this country is above the law… It is time for this politics of fear to end. We are trying to protect the American people, not special interests like the telecommunications industry.”

    What we really ought to be asking is what turned him around? Since Obama has built up his war chest from primarily individual donors, Big Telecom had no hold on him. He was a professor of Constitutional Law so he must know 4th amendment issues fairly inside it out. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but this is what I think happened:

    A file gets dropped on Obama’s desk with a note. The file contains some bit of embarrassment of some kind that Barack or a loved one was involved in, which was obtained through illegal wiretapping. The note says: Vote for the FISA bill, or this gets leaked to FOX News.

    He then has a choice: Piss off a lot of his progressive base who will still probably have to vote for him anyway now that he’s THE candidate, for fear of McCain getting elected to the 3rd term of Bush (remember those Supremes who need to retire, again, right?) or else have absolutely no way to become president.

    So what does he do? He takes the first test of a true politician (not to be mistaken with a wise leader): The ability to make a deal that fucks your constituency in order to stay your continuance, even though the original dream you had upon running for office is now forever compromised by the hold they have on you, which will be flexed from time to time for “special favors”. It’s alright. You’ll get them when you have the power, right?

    This is how our democracy has been bought and sold.

    This is why it is even less possible these days to get to the highest post in the land with your decency intact than it is to find an honest cop. (Bless you Jimmy Carter!)

    Most people do not peer beneath the surface of anything, so our society has become so entirely image focused that the masses are all too easily manipulated. Bill Clinton was impeached for a blowjob, fer cryin’ out loud… We invaded another sovereign nation because some bad men from an entirely different nation flew some planes into some buildings!?!

    And now our government by the corporations and for the corporations has the keys to owning anyone. One leak of sensitive information and the genie can never be put back in the bottle. There was a lot of “you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide” going around in the 50’s, but that didn’t keep junior senator Joseph McCarthy from ruining a lot of innocent lives. (There are lots of more recent examples: Gerald, Missouri / Tuvia, Texas…) Innuendo moves at the speed of Dark.

    This message has been brought to you by our sponsors:

    FISA ™ It’s everywhere you want to be! Life takes FISA!

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled programing. Go back to sleep America!

  151. I have some experience working with third parties in the US, so I am going to give some of my perspective.

    Anybody can win an election. Anybody. All elections are won on their merits or lost on their faults, and it is up to the candidate and their staff to take proper advantage of either to win.

    Moreover, it is not necessarily the goal of a party to put someone in the White House. That is not the Libertarian goal, and it also isn’t necessarily a Green goal either. Both of those parties seek to be gatekeepers over who gets to that level, though, and that is wiser planning than thinking you can somehow control someone divorced from the populace at the executive leadership level.

    To that end, I signed on late with a campaign in CA to see what I could do about unseating a local House Rep who was going along with the herd in Congress. We lost. BUT, how did we lose? We took most of one precinct, and while we had high numbers in other precincts, we lost them. That one precinct had yours truly going from house to house, talking to people, discussing issues with them, etc. The other precincts had that happen sporadically or not at all.

    We did some calculations, and found that if one person had gone to each precinct and done what I did, the opposition would have won by a landslide. Had this not been a emergency midterm election to replace a deceased seatholder, the situation would have been much different with just a little more planning and volunteer organizing.

    The bottom line is that if you want to change things, you can. How effective that will be depends WHOLLY on your ability to get other people to play along.

    As far as Washington politics goes, your sphere of influence over that will be on the local level- you can elect, influence, and recall only on that level, so if you don’t concentrate on that, you won’t see much change anywhere else. That is why the Dems are not afraid of being tossed out- its not like a sizable portion of the House has been called back home and replaced by people who are saying, “Better watch out, ’cause your district is next, you lying polecats!”.

    It doesn’t matter WHAT party you get involved in on the local level, or if you start your own. Remember that the party on the local level is a microcosm for governance at higher levels- this is why our own Federal and State governments are so uninvolved in the will of the people, because their own people in their party locally were uninvolved. If you want better representation, you need to make things better where you are at.

    Its hard work, too. If you want to see change, think about how long it will take to clean up the local party where you are- or establish a new one as a local player. Now, you have to consider that you will be the root from which this involvement will branch out into the neighboring counties and districts around you. This will likely take twice the time you would have taken to effect lasting change locally.

    Now you have a movement.

    -references: Democracy in America by Alexis deTocqueville, which is a Chilton’s manual for a healthy democracy.

  152. Anybody can win an election. Anybody.

    How many third party candidates have won the presidency?

  153. Greg, ask me in forty years ;) That is a conservative estimation I’ve made on how long it will take to actually change things where I live.

    But at least I am not just sitting here whinging on about how useless it is to do anything but support the status quo. I’m going to go back to my planning session now. I suggest that if you are fed up with your party of choice and their choices, then maybe you should be at a local party committee planning session yourself.

  154. “The point isn’t to have a system that works when perfect people are running it. The point is to have a system that works even when the people in it are flawed, screwed up, and in some cases downright evil.”

    Sorry to dig up an old discussion but I just now saw that and had to point out how emphatically I agree with that statement, especially since it’s so damned relevant to this whole FISA Amendments Act fiasco.

    The way FISA has been buggered up currently has set up a system in which the system is either workable or completely wickedly evil, depending on who’s running it. It only works out for everyone’s best if it’s being run by perfect people. Perfect people don’t exist, that’s exactly why people wanting to spy on someone need to be forced to go and get permission from someone whose job is to interpret the law rather than enforce the law. Shackle someone whose passion is for catching and punishing lawbreakers to the authority of someone whose passion is upholding the letter of the law, and you do a lot to help people’s individual personal flaws from trampling freedom. That’s the brilliance of checks and balances, it’s all built around the assumption that people are going to fuck up.

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