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October 01, 2004

Andy Griffith vs. Barney Fife

Lots of political junk to talk about today! I'll get to the debate in a minute, but first, let us celebrate a minor defeat of the Patriot Act!

Judge Victor Marrero of the Federal District Court in Manhattan struck down a part of the act that deals with surveillance, ruling that "it broadly violated the Constitution by giving the federal authorities unchecked powers to obtain private information."

The ruling came in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against a kind of subpoena created under the act, known as a national security letter. Such letters could be used in terrorism investigations to require Internet service companies to provide personal information about subscribers and would bar them from disclosing to anyone that they had received a subpoena.

Such a subpoena could be issued without court review, under provisions that seemed to bar the recipient from discussing it with a lawyer.

Judge Marrero vehemently rejected that provision, saying that it was unique in American law in its "all-inclusive sweep" and had "no place in our open society."

So basically, if you're an Internet service provider and you receive one of these national security letters, you cannot consult a lawyer over whether you are legally obligated to comply with it. You just have to give up the information the letter is requesting, or, presumably, get thrown in jail. Discussing the matter with a lawyer would be a violation of federal law, which means you'll get thrown in jail regardless.

Nice, huh? So much for due process.

California Governor Schwarzenegger has outlawed the force feeding of birds to create fois gras. That's a disgusting practice - *glares at Rappy* - and I'm glad that it will be banned eventually.

And now ... let us speak of Kerry vs. Bush, Round One!

Full disclosure - I did not actually watch the debate myself. I got through the first 10 minutes and then I couldn't take it any more. I just can't watch Bush grimace and glare and sneer for any length of time without hoping that someone sets him on fire. And since I don't want to be an angry girl, I turned off the television.

The overview of the debate in the NY Times is balanced and informative. That page also includes a link to view the entire debate online. The paper's analysis of the debate is helpful to put what was said into context. The editorial is also good, but slanted towards Kerry a little bit.

Tom Shales of the Washington Post provides solid analysis of the debate and the major networks' post-debate analysis. Howard Kurtz continues that line and says the media gave Kerry the win.

I guess some people like Bush for being so resolute and unwilling to deviate from his plan on how to succeed in Iraq. I see that as a refusal to admit that he's wrong, and to change course accordingly. I think most people, myself included, would respect him a lot more if he were to admit that his original plan for Iraq ended up being flawed, and based upon the information we have now - and more importantly, the different challenges we face in that country now (as opposed to when we invaded) - the plan needs to be revised. But this insistence that everything is going okay and that we'll win eventually is silly.

As as Kerry himself said - "It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong."

Bush castigates Kerry for being inconsistent - "He changes positions. And you cannot change positions in this war on terror if you expect to win." - but what he attempts to portray as inconsistency I see as merely reacting to a better understanding of the situation at hand. We've all said "yes" to some action and then, after we have all the facts, had misgivings. When Kerry voted to authorize $87 billion to fund the war, he made his decision based upon what he was being told - by the Bush Administration - at the time. When the truth came to light, it changed his opinion - as the truth is wont to do - and he decided that he disagreed with the request for additional funding, and voted against it.

That is the kind of person I want to be President. Someone who understands that things change, and your reactions to them need to change as well. Bush seems unable to allow that sort of flexibility in thought. Which is why no one will ever mistake the man for one of the great thinkers of our time.

Posted by Highwaygirl on October 1, 2004 11:09 AM to the category Political Rants
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