Dover Bitch

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hey, it's me! How are you?

Even when DB is on the road, it's always clear enough when the power has gone out at home or the computer has crashed or is waiting for some error message to be dismissed. Not psychic... it's just that the two dozen junk emails that slip through the spam program running on the home PC turn into about two or three hundred.

Hard to believe that these emails really generate any revenue for anybody, but they must, otherwise there wouldn't be a zillion of them, right?

But then there are the ones that try to trick you into thinking that they might be from a friend ("Haven't talked to you in a while!"), only to turn out to be peddling some penis drug. They start off with a deception and then ask you to trust them with your penis.

Which brings DB to the president.

Dahlia Lithwick really nailed it yesterday, when she wrote the following:

In the days after Sept. 11, everyone agreed that we needed to recalibrate the delicate balance that had been struck between security and civil liberties. It now appears, however, that while the American people thought they were bargaining in good faith with their president, he was nodding and smiling and taking what he wanted in secret.

At the start of this "war," Congress thought it was authorizing the use of force in Afghanistan. But now we've learned that in so doing it also gave the president limitless powers to break the law. Congress thought it was passing the Patriot Act. But it was actually giving the government broad and seemingly open-ended new surveillance authority. We believed the executive branch to be bound by the rule of law—by the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions and the ancient writ of habeas corpus. But the president was redefining torture, disregarding international conventions, and granting himself broad discretion to name and imprison enemy combatants for years on end.

Americans believed they were bargaining in good faith with their government over the original deal struck in 1978 when Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA was supposed to represent a compromise between security and civil liberties, by making it illegal to spy on Americans without judicial oversight but setting the bar for such oversight quite low. Even as amended by the Patriot Act—which further lowered the standards for a FISA warrant—the statute still purported to adhere to the fundamental bargain: Americans would not be spied upon by their government without basic constitutional checks in place.

Exactly right. Americans all understood that there would have to be some sacrifices. The president told us that he understood the importance of protecting our civil liberties. He didn't ask us to sacrifice them. In fact, he didn't ask us to sacrifce anything. He told us to go shopping.

In the face of this great tragedy, Americans are refusing to give terrorists the power. Our people have responded with courage and compassion, calm and reason, resolve and fierce determination. We have refused to live in a state of panic or a state of denial. There is a difference between being alert and being intimidated, and this great nation will never be intimidated.

People are going about their daily lives, working and shopping and playing, worshipping at churches and synagogues and mosques, going to movies and to baseball games.

Life in America is going forward, and as the fourth grader who wrote me knew, that is the ultimate repudiation of terrorism.

And something even more profound is happening across our country. The enormity of this tragedy has caused many Americans to focus on the things that have not changed, the things that matter most in life: our faith, our love for family and friends, our commitment to our country and to our freedoms and to our principles.

All the president's defenders this week, like DB's favorite Bay Buchanan, have been trying to say that Bush was just talking about the Patriot Act, when he was talking about wiretapping in 2004:

"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretaps, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

The president may have been talking about the Patriot Act, but he looked us in the eye and told us that he understood our concerns. He told us that the checks we expect to be there will still be there. He told us that our understanding of our Constitutional protections is shared by the White House.

Now, we are told that he's got methods to protect us, secret methods that every American knows can be abused. Methods that many suspect have already been abused. But he asks us to trust him to do the right thing. He starts with a deception and then asks us to trust him with our civil liberties.

DB's message to spammers in all offices: Take your penis drug and stick it in your ear!

UPDATE: This (CanOFun) wmv video clip of MSNBC's David Schuster reeling off Bush's speeches on civil liberties really says it all.

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