Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

For shame indeed

An attempt to weaken the Patriot Act, specifically a repeal of the government's right to keep track of your reading habits, I guess to make sure that you're not reading subversive literature, got shot down by Congress today.
As we all know, the Patriot Act is the sacred cow of those who want to return to McCarthyism. First Amendment rights to speech and assembly and privacy are severely restricted. (Though I imagine not enough for Ann Coulter, who has wet dreams about making being a Democrat illegal like being a Communist used to be.)
The administration promised that they would only be using these restrictions to go after terrorists. (Which, in retrospect, makes no sense. How do they know they're terrorists without investigating them? And if they know they're terrorists, why not arrest them?) I guess they neglected to inform us that they would then proceed to consider anyone who wasn't "with them" a terrorist. When the Patriot Act first passed, I thought it was a little hysterical to think it would be used to keep dibs on the administration's enemies list. Three years later, and it's hysterical to think they're not using it that way. Peace activists and even people who were just reading anti-Bush materials in public have been spied on. No doubt countless others have been spied on for all sorts of reasons, but we don't know for sure since the Patriot Act makes sure that no one who had to turn over reading material is legally allowed to say so. It could be you, and really there's no way of knowing. (Which of course makes me a teeny bit nervous since my reading habits can be, well, eclectic.)
In another retread of the McCarthy era, Democrats in Congress echoed Joseph Welch's famous question of Joseph McCarthy about his utter lack of decency by chanting, "Shame, shame, shame," as 10 Republicans changed their votes under pressure from those in their party who feel that freedom is, well, un-American. One would hope such a moment would get the same kind of play that Welch's admonishment did, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting.

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