Kats (wildrider) wrote,

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I'm Walkin'

Yesterday morning, driving to work, there was roughly twice or three times as much traffic as there normally is. I thought maybe it was national get-in-your-car-and-drive day but I hadn't heard, but apparently all it was is most of the Phoenix area schools started. On Friday? In the middle of August?

What do I know about such things anymore?

I forgot completely I had a review due yesterday. I haven't read the book. Fortunately, it's short and I got my deadline pushed to next Friday. Oops. Maybe it's time to take a hiatus from these, but I sure would hate to stop reviewing some of these independent artists - they need the exposure, and I like helping them (and I'm the only one on our mainstream list who gives them any).

It was a very fast and hectic week. I feel as though I got very little to nothing at all accomplished; no workouts, no packet sent out, never once finished at work (although we're getting a little smoother at the new process, it's still taking twice or three times as long to do things; "more efficient," my ass, Corporate). I did get a massage on Thursday, and my therapist recommends stretching, which I have been trying to do, and said I hunch forward too much, which is causing the tension (and the pain). I need to work on stretching exercises that open my chest and roll my shoulders back. I've been trying to be more conscious of my posture (which I know sucks).

It's only two weeks until my bunion surgery. This doctor scheduled an EKG - not sure why, I'll ask my PCP on Monday morning. I have to get the blood work done, too, and frankly, THAT makes me much more nervous than an EKG. I'm not worried about my heart, but when they take my blood, I fall down. So I'm going in late Monday morning, and getting off at 6 - this may be a test to see if I would like to move my hours from 7:45 to 4 to 9:45 to 6. I'm so torn. On the one hand, yuck, getting off that late - but traffic would be fine coming home, and I wouldn't have to go to bed so darned early. I'd be able to sleep until 7, even on days when I went to the gym (instead of getting up at 4:30).

The air pressure, up-and-down humidity, is killing my sinuses. I've had that low-grade headache for ages, and it won't go away, no matter what drugs I take. *heavy sigh*

This morning we got up early, went to take Barb's mom to the airport, sat with her until the flight crew took charge of her (so there won't be any chance of her missing the flight, like last time), then we went over to the Farmer's Market to shop a little. It was nasty, yucky, miserable hot out (the website claims it's only 101/103 with 29% humidity, but it feels a LOT hotter/yuckier). Now, just catching up on the soap (at least it looks like they're going to wrap up the current storyline before the promised "cliffhangers" before it moves to Direct TV), sitting around reading through LJ and the usual Caturday activities.

Oh, and

ETA: This was the one I meant, but the second one is good, too:

The Fear of Fear Itself

Published: August 7, 2007

It was appalling to watch over the last few days as Congress — now led by Democrats — caved in to yet another unnecessary and dangerous expansion of President Bush’s powers, this time to spy on Americans in violation of basic constitutional rights. Many of the 16 Democrats in the Senate and 41 in the House who voted for the bill said that they had acted in the name of national security, but the only security at play was their job security.

There was plenty of bad behavior. Republicans marched in mindless lockstep with the president. There was double-dealing by the White House. The director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, crossed the line from being a steward of this nation’s security to acting as a White House political operative.

But mostly, the spectacle left us wondering what the Democrats — especially their feckless Senate leaders — plan to do with their majority in Congress if they are too scared of Republican campaign ads to use it to protect the Constitution and restrain an out-of-control president.

The votes in the House and Senate were supposed to fix a genuine glitch in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to obtain a warrant before eavesdropping on electronic communications that involve someone in the United States. The court charged with enforcing that law said the government must also seek a warrant if the people are outside the country, but their communications are routed through data exchanges here — a technological problem that did not exist in 1978.

Instead of just fixing that glitch, the White House and its allies on Capitol Hill railroaded Congress into voting a vast expansion of the president’s powers. They gave the director of national intelligence and the attorney general authority to intercept — without warrant, court supervision or accountability — any telephone call or e-mail message that moves in, out of or through the United States as long as there is a “reasonable belief” that one party is not in the United States. The new law all but eviscerates the 1978 law. The only small saving grace is that the new statute expires in six months.

The House handled this mess somewhat better than the Senate, moving to the floor a far more sensible bill. Mr. McConnell certified that the House bill would address the problem raised by the court. That is, until the White House made clear that it wanted to use the court’s ruling to grab a lot more power. Mr. McConnell then reversed his position and demanded that Congress pass the far more expansive bill.

In the Senate, the team of Harry Reid, the majority leader, gave up fast, agreeing to a deal that doomed any good bill. The senators then hurriedly approved the White House bill, dumped it on the House and skulked off on vacation. Representative Rahm Emanuel, the fourth-ranking member of the Democratic House leadership, said yesterday that his party would not wait for the new eavesdropping authority to expire, and would have a new, measured bill on the floor by October. We look forward to reading it.

But the problem with Congress last week was that Democrats were afraid to explain to Americans why the White House bill was so bad and so unnecessary — despite what the White House was claiming. There are good answers, if Democrats are willing to address voters as adults. To start, they should explain that — even if it were a good idea, and it’s not — the government does not have the capability to sort through billions of bits of electronic communication. And the larger question: why, six years after 9/11, is this sort of fishing expedition the supposed first line of defense in the war on terrorism?

While serving little purpose, the new law has real dangers. It would allow the government to intercept, without a warrant, every communication into or out of any country, including the United States. Instead of explaining all this to American voters — the minimal benefits and the enormous risks — the Democrats have allowed Mr. Bush and his fear-mongering to dominate all discussions on terrorism and national security.

Mr. Bush claims that he has kept America safe since 9/11. But that claim ignores the country’s very real and present vulnerabilities. Six years after the 9/11 attacks the administration has still failed to secure American ports, railroads and airports from terrorist attack, and has put the profits of the chemical and nuclear-power industries ahead of safeguarding their plants.

Mr. Bush also worries Democratic strategists by talking about “staying on the offensive” against terrorism, but it was his decision to invade Iraq that diverted resources from the real offensive, the one against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr. Bush’s incessant fear-mongering — and the Democrats’ refusal to challenge him — has had one notable success. The only issue on which Americans say that they trust Republicans more than Democrats is terrorism. At least those Americans are afraid of terrorists. The Democrats who voted for this bill, and others like it over the last few years, show only fear of Republicans.

The Democratic majority has made strides on other issues like children’s health insurance against White House opposition. As important as these measures are, they do not excuse the Democrats from remedying the damage Mr. Bush has done to civil liberties and the Bill of Rights. That is their most important duty.


The Need to Know

Published: August 11, 2007

Like many in this country who were angered when Congress rushed to rubber-stamp a bill giving President Bush even more power to spy on Americans, we took some hope from the vow by Congressional Democrats to rewrite the new law after summer vacation. The chance of undoing the damage is slim, unless the White House stops stonewalling and gives lawmakers and the public the information they need to understand this vital issue.

Just before rushing off to their vacations, and campaign fund-raising, both houses tried to fix an anachronism in the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires the government to get a warrant to eavesdrop on conversations and e-mail messages if one of the people communicating is inside the United States. The court that enforces the law concluded recently that warrants also are required to intercept messages if the people are outside the United States, but their communications are routed through data exchanges here.

The House and Senate had sensible bills trying to fix that Internet-age problem, which did not exist in 1978. But that wasn’t enough for Mr. Bush and his aides, who whipped up their usual brew of fear to kill off those bills. Then they cowed the Democrats into passing a bill giving Mr. Bush powers that go beyond even the illegal wiretapping he has been doing since the 9/11 attacks.

The new measure eviscerates the protections of FISA, allowing the attorney general to decide when to eavesdrop — without a warrant — on any telephone call or e-mail message, so long as one of the people communicating is “reasonably believed” to be outside the country. The courts have no real power over such operations.

The only encouraging notes were that the new law has a six-month expiration date, and that leaders of both houses of Congress said they would start revising it immediately. But there’s a big catch: most lawmakers have no idea what eavesdropping is already going on or what Mr. Bush’s justification was in the first place for ignoring the law and ordering warrantless spying after 9/11.

The administration has refused to say how much warrantless spying it has been doing. Clearly, it is more than Mr. Bush has acknowledged, but Americans need to know exactly how far their liberties have been breached and whether the operation included purely domestic eavesdropping. And why did Mr. Bush feel compelled to construct an outlaw eavesdropping operation — apart, that is, from his broader effort to expand presidential power and evade checks and balances?

It’s not that FISA makes it too hard; the court approves virtually every warrant request. It’s not an issue of speed. The law allows the government to initiate surveillance and get a warrant later if necessary.

Instead of answering these questions, the administration has done its best to ensure that everyone stays confused. It has refused repeated requests by Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, for documents relating to the president’s order creating the spying program, and the Justice Department’s legal justifications for it.

When this issue resurfaces, Mr. Bush will undoubtedly claim executive privilege, as he has done whenever he has been asked to come clean with Americans about his decision-making. But those documents should be handed over without delay for review by all members of Congress. We also agree with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has petitioned the FISA court, which normally works in secret, to make public its opinion on the scope of the government’s wiretapping powers.

If Mr. Bush wants Americans to give him and his successors the power to spy on them at will, Americans should be allowed to know why it’s supposedly so necessary and how much their freedoms are being abridged. If Congress once again allows itself to be cowed by Mr. Bush’s fear-mongering, it must accept responsibility for undermining the democratic values that separate this nation from the terrorists that Mr. Bush claims to be fighting.

Tags: articles, lolcats, reviews, work
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