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ACLU Warns of Next Pass At Telecom Immunity

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the try-try-again dept.

Communications 201

The ACLU has reportedly uncovered another pass at telecom immunity and is urging concerned citizens to speak out against what they call a "dangerous backroom deal." "But now, word comes that House leadership may be working hand-in-hand with Senator Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who has spearheaded efforts to give immunity to law-breaking phone companies that provided mountains of customer data to the government without warrants. As discussions continue, it's critical that House leadership avoid buckling to pressure from the White House or Senator Rockefeller at all costs. House leadership — and every representative — need to draw a line in the sand, by rejecting any compromise that would undo the achievement we fought so hard for in February."

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201 comments

A letter worth signing. (4, Informative)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306144)

Please follow the link and sign the ACLU petition [aclu.org] and call your local representative. Domestic spying should be exposed and eradicated. The principle is more important than party politics.

Re:A letter worth signing. (1, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306274)

Like they really care about a list, nor is it going to stop the evential passing of a bill..

Actually, it might just serve as the list to first go after when they get total control. You sure you want to make yourself a target?

That's why I donate to the ACLU (4, Interesting)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306352)

If they're going to come for me, they're going to come for me.

Why be a pussy?

Re:That's why I donate to the ACLU (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306642)

If they're going to come for me, they're going to come for me.

Why be a pussy?

As I read that it sounds like you are asking yourself, as you should be.

Re:That's why I donate to the ACLU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308382)

If they come for someone else first, you have advance warning to get out.

Re:A letter worth signing. (2, Insightful)

mweather (1089505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307788)

We must all hang together or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Re:A letter worth signing. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306490)

Sockpuppets of twitter should be exposed and eradicated.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:A letter worth signing. (-1, Troll)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306970)

If the ACLU is involved...I just feel dirty signing.

Re:A letter worth signing. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308298)

If it comes down to deciding which organization is a lying, cheating, corrupt organization....

I would side with the Government before I would side with a bunch of idiot lawyers like the ACLU.

Re:A letter worth signing. (1)

Pentahex (1050778) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307974)

It has nothing to do with domestic spying, it's just the democrat party throwing a huge bone to one of their special interests. The trial lawyers don't care about national security or even civil rights. But they love class action and contingency fees more than their own mother.

Stupid question... (3, Interesting)

nebaz (453974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306150)

Does Congress even have the power to grant immunity? They think they have the power to do anything they want, but is providing blanket immunity even constitutional?

Re:Stupid question... (3, Informative)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306178)

Congress has the (sole) power to determine what is and is not illegal. Inherent in this is the ability to grant immunity. And as I have already noted here [slashdot.org] , the prohibition on ex-post facto laws does not preclude retroactive grants of immunity.

Re:Stupid question... (4, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306300)

Congress has the power to make laws that might be valid or might not..

The supreme court has the final power to decide what is illegal and not illegal. Personally id say the power to determine is really in the hands of the court.

Re:Stupid question... (5, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306364)

While the Supreme Court has the nexus to declare what might be ex post facto, or un-equal protection under the law, you first have to have the nexus to be an injured party. As long as the lists are secret, you will never know, and therefore cannot have nexus until the FIA brings it to light, if not redacted, 25 years from now. By then, everyone will hopefully have forgotten (is the hope, I'm sure).

So, litigation is moot under the proposed laws. That's why it's important to fight the immunity and hit the congressional urge (and heavily lobbied) to offer the telcos immunity. My view is that it'll be weaseled in somehow, because we have no guts, and no glory in the Congress. I wish it were otherwise. Vote in November.

For not answering? For being a bad man? For fun? (4, Informative)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307906)

the Supreme Court has the nexus to declare what might be ex post facto, or un-equal protection under the law
That would be the same court staffed by people who think that torture is not punishment [youtube.com] ?

        STAHL: If someone's in custody, as in Abu Ghraib, and they are brutalized, by a law enforcement person -- if you listen to the expression "cruel and unusual punishment," doesn't that apply?

        SCALIA: No. To the contrary. You think -- Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don't think so.

        STAHL: Well I think if you're in custody, and you have a policeman who's taken you into custody-

        SCALIA: And you say he's punishing you? What's he punishing you for? ... When he's hurting you in order to get information from you, you wouldn't say he's punishing you. What is he punishing you for?


Oh, that's great, you have dishonest monsters deciding what is equal protection and what isn't! Fantastic!

Re:For not answering? For being a bad man? For fun (3, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307990)

There are a few bad apples on SCOTUS. There are a few bright moments, too, including some handed to the Bush administration. All is not lost, but it certainly isn't balanced well, we'll agree. Nonetheless, it's the law of the land. Civility demands respect, even if we don't agree. It's then incumbent upon us to vote to ensure our sentiments are hopefully followed on the next appointments. Sometimes, they are.

Re:For not answering? For being a bad man? For fun (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308580)

It's then incumbent upon us to vote to ensure our sentiments
What the hell are you on about? Since when do presidential candidates talk about what kind of judges they want to see appointed to SCOTUS? You "the majority rule of democracy will solve every problem" people make me laugh. Maybe if we had a national referendum with veto power over SCOTUS nominations or better yet referendum veto power over individual SCOTUS decisions you would have a point. Even if the US were a pure democracy (and we sure as hell are not) and could vote directly on everything it would still mean that as many as 49.9% of the population might think the decisions were ridiculous. Personally I think the least you majority rule folks could do when the discussion turns to SCOTUS is STFU because they are the least democratic aspect of our government. They are intentionally undemocratic.

Re:For not answering? For being a bad man? For fun (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308630)

There are a few bright moments, too, including some handed to the Bush administration.
Like the whole presidency?

Civility demands respect
When they respect my rights, I respect their authority.
Otherwise I wish to see their blood refresh the tree of liberty.

Re:For not answering? For being a bad man? For fun (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308688)

We might agree that we live free or die. As I have but one death to give, it'll be for something other than the phone company's foolishness under a boorish president's whim. There's better to fight for, methinks.

Yet civility requires tolerance. My 'rights' are unfortunately open to misinterpretation. But I forgive, otherwise my unyielding ways might be misspent. YMMV.

Re:For not answering? For being a bad man? For fun (3, Insightful)

MorePower (581188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308082)

SCALIA: And you say he's punishing you? What's he punishing you for? ... When he's hurting you in order to get information from you, you wouldn't say he's punishing you. What is he punishing you for?

Damn! I mean DAMN!
It should be blatantly obvious, he's punishing you for not giving him the information he wants!

Re:For not answering? For being a bad man? For fun (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308698)

SCALIA: And you say he's punishing you? What's he punishing you for? ... When he's hurting you in order to get information from you, you wouldn't say he's punishing you. What is he punishing you for?

Damn! I mean DAMN!

It should be blatantly obvious, he's punishing you for not giving him the information he wants!
And since he's a judge supreme, we can't ascribe his statement of opinion on law to incompetence. We must therefore admit it was motivated by malice.

Re:Stupid question... (1)

speroni (1258316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307178)

Congress ONLY has the power to exercise the rights given to them as outlined in the Constitution.

No where in the Constitution does it give congress the right to excuse corporations who violate the rights of civilians.

I might quote Benjamin Franklin in saying (roughly) "Those who are willing to trade freedom for the illusion of security deserve neither freedom nor security."

Re:Stupid question... (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307588)

It does however give them the right to pass laws that determine who is responsible for a crime. In this case, passing a law granting telecomms immunity when the executive branch of the federal government asks them to commit a crime, simply passes all of the blame to the executive branch. This of course means that no one will be held responsible because the executive branch is entrusted to enforcement of law. IANAL: this is not legal advise. This is mental masturbation.

Re:Stupid question... (1)

speroni (1258316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307806)

In danger of giving the playground response of Nut-uh... It does not. The "Who is responsible for a crime" falls upon the Judicial branch.

If the Legislative branch were to try to pass such a law it would be unconstitutional. The effort to pass THIS law is unconstitutional.

I agree, this does not excuse the executive branch from trying.

I also agree, this is nothing more than a mental exercise since our govn't has spun way out of control.

Re:Stupid question... (2, Informative)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308702)

Actually, the way it works in practice is, it's legal until SCOTUS rules on it. Problem is, SCOTUS can't/won't rule on the legality/Constitutionality of a law until it's brought before them after the trial, the appeal, etc. And even then, they can refuse to hear it.

Re:Stupid question... (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307610)

Where in the constitution, however, are corporations responsible for the rights of citizens? They are not.

As a result, Congress can immunize them from doing so because it is Congress that created the laws to punish them in the first place; if those laws to punish them were unconstitutional, so be it, but it renders unnecessary the need to immunize them.

Re:Stupid question... (1)

speroni (1258316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307884)

No one and nothing, has the right to violate even one of my rights. Do you want to give your rights to Microsoft and Coca-Cola?

Re:Stupid question... (1)

LowlyWorm (966676) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308106)

If you read the US Constitution carefully, there is a great deal of lassitude in this area. There are even provisions for suspending the Constitution in times of war or national emergency. This is exactly the tact the Bush administration has taken to justify wire tapping for the ubiquitous war on terrorism.

1984.... (2, Insightful)

etinin (1144011) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306152)

Your government will begin with this, soon they'll be deploying cameras in people's houses. It is totally absurd for any government agency to have access to private data without a court order. If things are going to work like that, then a corrupt agent will be able to browse through a lot of confidential information without having to pass through any bureaucracy...

Re:1984.... (2, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306472)

Well, if we delegated the power encompassed by the IRS, the SSA, and the various other control mechanisms in place from the Fed to the states, we could undo a lot of arguably wrong-headed old precedent.
Creating a "new" tradition of un-intrusive Federal government would really put the "P" in Progress for many of us.

Re:1984.... (1)

OMNIpotusCOM (1230884) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306934)

Why does everyone invoke 1984 for things like this, but completely overlook the blatant harm and unregulated power credit of bureaus having every piece of information about you?

What is it with the Rockefellers? (1)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306154)

OMG can that family just back off? It's bad enough that name appears in dozens of conspiracies throughout the 20th century, but now they want to destroy the Internet? Wow, those guys need to get their political power taken away fast........

Re:What is it with the Rockefellers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306426)

Right, you'd think a Rockefeller wouldn't have to take bribes from the telcos.

Maybe someone needs to re-print the list of people that J.Edgar Hoover kept tabs on. It might make some of these Congresscritters notice how a supposedly good idea can be used to destroy their privacy and free speech rights along with the rest of us.

For how long? (2, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306156)

Seriously, how long are we going to be able to keep up the fight? It's obvious the current administration and the telcos will just keep making one run after another until one gets through; and don't bother suggesting that we will actually hold them accountable at some point. That's laughable.

So the question becomes, how long until we burn out?

Re:For how long? (5, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306216)

The current administration? Given the current balance of power this isn't as much a move by the current administration but by both parties working in unison. Sure, some will use it as a token "it's not me" vote but in the long run this isn't just Bush & Co or even the Republicans...

Wake up from your dreaded party politics dream and you'll see the real nightmare.

use proper measurements on the scale (3, Insightful)

vague_ascetic (755456) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307672)

There are indeed valid, substantial questions regarding Jay Rockefeller's campaign contributors and the FISA Bill's telecom immunity clause. My questions about him go back farther to when he was minority committee leader, and was being pussy-whipped by Sen. Roberts (Can's-Ass) about Robert's promise to have the Intelligence Committee investigate the administration's use of pre-Iraq War intelligence, and even get around to issuing subpoenas, so Feith and Wolfowitz would get their asses hauled down to assert their 5th Amendment rights under oath while being televised nationwide. There are several Democratic Senators whose defense of civil liberties is very questionable.

However, your intimated assertion of a partisan parity is absurd, and a wild flight of fantasy from reality.

Let's investigate reality without the rosy-tint of you blurry lens:

Senate Roll Call Vote #20 on February 12, 2008, The FISA Amendments Act [senate.gov]

  • Vote Total: 68 Yeas - 29 Nays - 3 NoVotes
  • Yeas by Party: 48 R - 20 D - 1 I (Lieberman)
  • Nays by Party: 0 R - 29 D - 1 I (Sanders)
  • NoVotes by Party: 1 R - 2 D - 0 I

Clearly, The Democrats are The Lamer of Two Evils.

Re:For how long? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306232)

Until the next administration. If its a democrat, you have a chance.

If its McCain, I recommend investing in lube. We'll need a lot of it.

Re:For how long? (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306316)

Until the next administration.
Last time I looked, Congress passed laws, not the President. Also, last time I looked, the House was controlled by the Democratic party which was also the majority part in the Senate. So how is a new administration going to make any difference?

Re:For how long? (4, Insightful)

Delwin (599872) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306340)

Veto.

Re:For how long? (2, Informative)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306382)

The problem has been that the President must sign them, and if vetoed, then a 2/3rds majority must overrule his veto. That doesn't happen much.

A Democratic president that has a Demo congress has a better chance of breaking logjams, for constitutional and party-whip control reasons.

Re:For how long? (2)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306410)

The problem has been that the President must sign them, and if vetoed, then a 2/3rds majority must overrule his veto. That doesn't happen much.
What makes you so sure that Obama or Clinton would override a bill passed by their own party on this issue?

Re:For how long? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306536)

Of Obama, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/07/intel-advisor-breaks-with_n_90427.html [huffingtonpost.com]

Of Clinton, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-hamsher/hillary-clinton-a-bundle_b_70052.html [huffingtonpost.com] which shows she skipped an earlier vote on the subject. However, she differs from Obama's lobbying efforts, where most of the bribery, oops, influence begins.

Re:For how long? (3, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306944)

For reference, Obama, Clinton, and McCain are all deep in the pockets of the RIAA and a million other lobbying groups. Every major candidate is owned by various industries. On this specific issue, Obama is known to oppose telecom spying immunity while McCain is a fan of it.

Re:For how long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307314)

While I have no doubt there are some ties to lobbying groups, for the most part Obama seems to be the cleanest of them all. At this point I don't care much who gets in office so long as they're able to help America get back to being America.

Unfortunately I only see one serious candidate at this point that MAY do that.

Within the scope of how long can the American public hold out? This presidential election is crucial. People are very tired of attempting to defend what has been 7 years of onslaught. Their voices aren't heard over the din of the shortsighted masses.

Re:For how long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307212)

Because neither of them are complete fucktards?

Re:For how long? (4, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306398)

Most of the outrages perpetrated by the current Democratic Congress have been the work of just enough of its "majority" members, of which Rockefeller is a prime example, knuckling under to the White House and going along with pretty much all the Republicans to pass every evil bill the Bush administration demands. Most Democratic representatives and senators are voting against these bills, but given how fine the balance of power is, all it takes is a few Democrats to go along with the Republican party line. Presumably, under an Obama or Clinton administration, the Rockefellers and Feinsteins and Liebermans will continue to be gutless for the White House, only this time they'll be gutless stooges for the (relatively speaking) good guys.

Re:For how long? (2)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306566)

No, the 'next administration' isn't really that important. What is important is the next Congress.

And last election, anyone with a D next to their name got in. This election, those Ds that aren't actually Ds have had primary challenges they're going to lose, and get replaced with real D.

The Republicans, right now, are pretending that it takes 60 votes to get anything they don't like through the Senate. Meanwhile, somehow, three or four Democrats caving to the Republicans give them 52 votes, which is somehow enough to pass things.

This is because the Senate Majority Leader is a complete fucking moron who lets the Republicans 'pretend' to filibuster every bill. Anyone but Reid in 2008, please.

But, anyway, if the same thing happens in 2006 that happened in 2006, and there's no reason to think it won't happen as strongly, all the fake Democrats in the House will be thrown out for real ones, and another 1/3rd of the Republicans in the Senate will be thrown out for Democrats.

...the next six months will be a desperate attempt for immunity for all sorts of crap, not just for the telecoms, and the two months after that will be near-total panic. The actual best thing we could do at this point is shut down Congress to keep them from bribing and forcing those bills through.

Re:For how long? (1)

Bartab (233395) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306924)

And last election, anyone with a D next to their name got in. This election, those Ds that aren't actually Ds have had primary challenges they're going to lose, and get replaced with real D.

What a simpleminded, biased, and totally incorrect worldview.

Those "not a real D's", what some are calling Blue Dog Democrats won their office because they were, in your words, "not real D's" Somehow, you'll have to come to grips with the fact that in many places in the country, Democrats are a distant second choice.

And of course, your claim that "anyone with a D next to their name got in" is silly tending toward stupid. If it was true, the house would be 100% "D"

Re:For how long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307434)

It may have been hyperbole, but it was somewhat accurate. The fact that many republican senators didn't want the president campaigning for them is evidence of the backlash against the current adminstration (and the republicans have been unified behind this adminstration)

No, not everyone with a D got in. The republicans lost 6 seats out of the 15 R incumbents running, which is fairly significant, since incumbency is usually a golden ticket to being (re)elected.

Also as a technical note, only 33 or 34 seats are ever up in a given normal election in the senate, which was the GP was talking about. The house tends to be much less important.

more evidence of the left's lameness (1)

vague_ascetic (755456) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307988)

Attitudes like yours are a significant cause for the flight of Americans from the Democratic party. How many times are you going to play your asinine circular firing squad game before you realise nobody wins?

Please offer valid citations for your defamatory statements about Reid, or admit that you are not in fact motivated by a will to defend liberty, but instead by the same lame-brained liberealities that got the party sodomised by the new right in the first place.

Christ Almighty! - Evil to the right of me, and imbeciles on my left!

Re:For how long? (1)

capologist (310783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306920)

Voting against our Commander in Chief? Traitors!

Re:For how long? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307420)

The Democrats aren't "good guys" either. For every thing about them that is better than the Republicans, there's something else that's worse. And both of them are weighed down by party politics that prevent true visionary thinking from actually improving the government.

Re:For how long? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308714)

The problem, of course, is, the lesser of two evils is STILL evil. That's just something you just can't paint over.

Re:For how long? (1)

capologist (310783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306866)

If McCain is President, the legislation or lack thereof will be irrelevant. He'll do what he damn well pleases, and use the "National Security depends on executive action being hidden from the prying eyes of the public" excuse to block discovery and effectively prevent litigation. Just like W.

Senate Dem majority is a myth (5, Informative)

vague_ascetic (755456) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307352)

49 D - 49 R - 2 I

Reid is the majority leader by virtue of Lieberman's two-timing hide. Care to guess which side of the isle he votes on FISA and telecom immunity?

You also need to consider that cloture votes (an agreement to end debate and go to a vote on a bill or specific debated issue in a bill, requires a super-majority of 60%. Back when the Democrats used this to block a handful of Bush's most activist of right-wing judge appointees, they were criticised as being undemocratic. Now that Republicans have have used the tactic to effectively shut down any attempts by Democrats to right wrongs from the last 7 years, the Democrats are called inept or in collusion.

A fine example of this tactic is : Roll Call Vote #340 [senate.gov] on September 19, 2007. It was a cloture to vote on Senator Specter's Amendment #2022 [loc.gov] to The Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 - the purpose of which was to restore habeas corpus for those detained by the United States. The voted count was 56-Yea -- 43 Nay -- 12 NoVote. The Party affiliation of the vote was:
Yea - 49 D - 6R - 1 I (Sanders)
Nay - 42 R - 0D - 1 I (Lieberman)

Habeas corpus is a Natural Right, which the Constitution states can only be suspended in times of domestic invasion or public insurrection. To assert that a sneak attack by 20 detemine F**ks, which to this Nation's great misfortune, coincided with an administration so arrogant, ignorant and derelict, it failed at its primary duty to defend America constitutes an "invasion", is to chase after a well dressed bunny down into a dark hole in the ground. This should not be a partisan issue, and REAL conservatives understand this clearly. Read Kenneth Starr's written opinion to The Senate [liberatedtext.org] .

My question to you is: did you actually look last time or did you just accept what you were told?

Re:Senate Dem majority is a myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307608)

Wow! The irony of Kenneth Starr writing that letter. Mr. Starr abused the Independent Counsel position to such an extent that it was eliminated. One can be quite sure that if an Independent Counsel existed today it would be investigating the many, many acts of corruption in the Bush administration.

my spin (4, Interesting)

vague_ascetic (755456) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307882)

I am one who has for many years believed that the two party system was the ultimate root cause for the Nation's ills, and have also loudly asserted that if your vote was based on a "lesser of two evils" decision, without question, you have voted for evil.

The Bush Administration, and concomitant GOP Congressional dereliction, has taught me a bitter lesson though. I must now choke back the bile that rises in my throat, whenever I long nostalgically for the time in America's past, when a President's lies were only about acts of consensual sex, a cum-stained blue dress, and tobacco products with odd exotic aromatics; instead of a President's lies about Natural Liberties, Immoral War, and the Blood-stained Iraqi Sands.

This is the cause for a correction in my analysis. While it is wrong to vote for a lesser of two evils; a very good argument can be made to support a vote for the lamer of two evils. The GOP has not yet begun to experience the pain that is necessary to purge the excessive resident evil within. There need be a return to a state of polar equilibrium in quantities of evil, or there need be the end to the Republican Party, as a clear and present danger to the people's liberty. There is no third way.

The oath was: against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic, or to condense it down to a Bushified black and white: are you with the Friends of Liberty or Against Us. Choose wisely...

Re:my spin (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308568)

If we have many parties to choose from, we get an altogether different breed of representation. The chances are, you'll find someone who is not evil, and who is committed to doing some good for the electorate. The problem is that evil (at the very least, on this scope) is relative, and what you consider good, someone else will consider evil. You could vote for your favourite, and he may even win, but you leave vast tracts of the population feeling very disgruntled and under-represented. Still, a certain group is happy, and change comes naturally.

With two party politics, both parties constantly play off each other, but only over relatively cosmetic issues. The core issues are mostly the same, and are designed to make everyone only slightly disgruntled. So, next to no-one is really pleased with the resulting government, but no-one is devastatingly unhappy either (hence, the lesser of two evils). The other problem is that change is very slow, because it requires a lot of public focus.

They're different systems, both with their advantages and disadvantages.

Re:Senate Dem majority is a myth (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307712)

My question to you is: did you actually look last time or did you just accept what you were told?
Actually, I did look ... what I found was a page on the senate.gov website, which I expect to be authoritative on this subject:
http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/history/one_item_and_teasers/partydiv.htm [senate.gov]

I did notice the 49 seats each, but also noted that there is also one Independent Democrat. A certain Joe Lieberman. Clearly, just like many Democrats and Republicans, he does not always vote with "his" party.

Is there a difference (4, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306366)

As an European, I might not see the subtle differences between Democrats and Republicans, but to my eyes, they look so similar I can't really see the choice.

Re:Is there a difference (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306464)

There isn't but most Americans are too lunkheaded to see beyond the politics of their parents and their parents parents, so on and so forth.

I love how smug Democrats and Republicans are when we've seen the damage that both parties do.

Re:Is there a difference (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307244)

Shear nonsense. As pointed out above it is a minority of the majority party siding with the minority party under white house pressure. I'll agree there isn't much difference between the DLC types and Republicans but members of the progressive wing are very different from conservative Republicans.

Its the media that likes to focus on petty issues instead of real solid differences that gives the appearence of the two groups being the same.

Re:Is there a difference (3, Funny)

spikedvodka (188722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307600)

You mean like the old joke:

A guy is sitting in the front row of a "town meeting" in an overwhelming republican town, when the R presidential candidate comes to speak.

the candidate asks "So who here is a republican?" everybody else raises their hands, so he asks the gentleman in the front "So why aren't you a republican?"
"Well, my father was a democrat, his father was a democrat, as so was his father before him, so I'm a democrat."
"Well, what if your father, and his father has been idiots?"
"Then I guess I'd be a republican"

Re:Is there a difference (5, Insightful)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307008)

Republicans used to be the party in favor of lower taxes & smaller government & farmers. Foreign policy tended to be hawkish. They'd let you have guns and God, but not porn or gay sex. Right wing.

Democrats used to be the party in favor of civil rights & bigger social programs & friendly with labor. Foreign policy tended to be dovish. You couldn't have guns or put up a Christmas tree on public land, but you could have porn and/or gay sex. Left wing.

Now they both tax the crap out of us, spend us into a world of deficit, screw the working/middle class and infringe on our rights while cutting social programs. Or maybe it has always been that way, and I'm only starting to notice. Hmm ...

Seriously though, although the Republicans are generally right of center and Dems are generally left of center, since there are only 2 parties each party covers a lot of ideological ground and there is some overlap in the middle. With both parties being mindlessly poll-driven, I feel like most of them are simply parroting the feel-good position of the day as it comes to them from their handlers, making both sides sound remarkably similar overall. Mostly they just argue over who gets the blame or the credit, depending which way the poll numbers are going.

Apparently, you were born yesterday (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308638)

The Dems have always been hawkish until Clinton. FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson were ALL major hawks. FDR put us squarely into WWII though the country did not want to do that. Truman put us into Korea. While Eisenhower put us into vietnam, Kennedy escalated and then was going to pull out. Of course, he took on USSR via the cuban missle crisis. Johnson escalated vietnam Heavily. Carter was rebuilding our military after 'nam. He pushed for us to have a greater number of smaller ships, but reagan defeated that and pushed us back into battleships that were retired again. In addition, he pushed us heavily into stealth aircraft. However, he screwed up the iranian hostage (though there is enough proof that reagan cut deals with the iranians and kept our hostages there for another 9 months longer; f&^king traitors). Even the Abrahams tank got its start via carter. All in all, only clinton was dovish.

As to balanced budget, well, the last republican who cared about lowering the deficit was Poppa Bush, and Nixon in 68 was the last republican to balance a budget. Clinton balanced in 2000. reagan and W. both ran up huge deficits, and to a lesser degree, Bush I, Nixon and Eisenhower.

Want to keep your guns with republicans around? Yeah, right. Hard to do, when they spy on all the trades and transactions and know all that you do. Just because it is not in the open, does not mean that the feds are not tracking all this.

So what differences are there? Damn little. And how long has that gone on? Since 1980, i.e. more than 25 years. About the only real difference that I see is that the republicans are TOTALLY corrupt and do not care if anybody knows as long as they do not go to jail.

Seriously, there is NO real difference between you, a freaking right wing nut, and the vast majority of left wing nuts. Neither of you have the moral capability of doing the right thing for America.

There a difference (1)

vague_ascetic (755456) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308066)

at least presently. Admittedly it is nuanced and difficult to perceive. I would have preferred a more secluded place for this pointer, but if you poke around the relevant part of the namespace presently given as mine in this note's header (it will be obvious is you visit), you'd probably begin to perceive them.

Re:Is there a difference (1)

Boronx (228853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308286)

Here's the difference: Only about half the Democrats (speaking of congress here) voted for this war based on lies that has murdered tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Almost every single Republican voted for it.

A sizable chunk of Democrats want to hold the Bush administration accountable for this crime, Almost no Republican does.

Almost all Democrats are against Telco (and by extension, Bush) immunity, but enough are willing to vote with just about every single Republican that it's always in danger of passing.

And so on.

The Democrats are cripplingly corrupt and evil, the Republicans are totally corrupt and evil.

Re:For how long? (2, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307480)

Until the next administration. If its a democrat, you have a chance.

That much foolish naiveté in an adult is unpardonable. If you're a child, then it's forgivable, as you may yet learn about the nature of politics, power, and corruption as you grow.

Re:For how long? (1)

Delwin (599872) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306252)

That depends on how many voices join the chorus. If we can gather more support than just /. and a few other sites and either take this mainstream or at the very minimum keep gathering steam then we can hold out until the next administration. No matter what things will be changing come 2009. We have no idea how they're going to change, but change they will.

Re:For how long? (4, Informative)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306312)

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Re:For how long? (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 6 years ago | (#23308044)

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
And the US of A is doing its best to head into a recession.

Quite frankly I don't see how anyone over there is able to Afford Such A High Price.

Re:For how long? (3, Funny)

24-bit Voxel (672674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306328)

It really does seem to be both parties working together.

In the past for social change to become in the public awareness it has taken a bad economy or an intolerable immediate social situation. Given the track record of the Republicans over the past 30 years the best path to force social change would be to keep electing them so that they destroy the economy and the standing of the US in the rest of the world to such a level that only public outcry and massive social change can bring us back. Naturally, no one wants this so we are stuck between a rock (iraq) and a hard place.

/sarcasm on


So do us all a favor and vote for the worst candidate from here on out. It's the only way. It will bring out social change faster than the small bandaid method we are currently employing. This is the best way to 'burn out'.

/sarcasm off


Note: this message has been edited for the sarcasm impaired.

Re:For how long? (4, Funny)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306396)

So do us all a favor and vote for the worst candidate from here on out. It's the only way.

He's been in the White House for seven years. I don't think we're getting the results you were hoping for.

Re:For how long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306420)

Just remember part of the American Myth is that sometimes things fall to a state where a blood sacrifice and self sacrifice are needed to begin setting things right.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson

According to the mythos it's moral and ethical to slay in cold blood those who've wronged you and their agents when all regrdress and avenues are exhausted. Just don't expect to survive yourself. It's a condition which lends itself to spectacular self-correction, but it does mean employment at a large telco does care very severe and niegh impossible to quantify risks.

My particular reflection of the mythos takes a somewhat different turn; though I cannot deny the influence of my culture on my development. There is a moral imperative to do good where you can do good, and to work against injustice that's in your path. I can't be a moral person and be a bystander. To be a bystander is to invite, and indeed perhapse deserve, misfortune. (Of which I have my share.) There is a demand from the larger community upon me to love another's freedom and security and well-being as I love my own. A demand to refrain from taking which I do not need, that which I cannot use. One need not seek out wrongs in a world teeming with an endless supply to right, but one can't be a silent whitness.

It is its own small sacrifice. Some lies I cannot abide, some advantages I cannot press, some things I cannot let pass without at least comment. I might be a richer person in a number of ways were I not so burdened what many, if not most, would consider a serious character flaw. But I chose the reward: Peace of mind. The confidence of my own integrity.

What did we do on February? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306248)

Was I there? How did I get home?

What does it matter? (3, Insightful)

Aaron England (681534) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306310)

This is not a troll, but can anyone tell me what does it matter? Have the telecos been successfully sued in court for their indiscretions? Are we pursuing them in court? If the answer is no to both counts, then what does it matter if we grant them immunity.

Re:What does it matter? (4, Informative)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306408)

Money fuels litigation. No class to litigate means no legal expenses paid. Quid pro quo.

If there is immunity, no one can start a suit. But we still have many dragging answers from the administration about the nature of what happened, and to the extent it happened, and so the class of people injured (who then have nexus to sue) really isn't known yet. When it is, provided you really can sue, someone will. And I'll be happy to become a party to the plaintiffs that do it. Such behavior cannot be rewarded, and the damage to privacy and freedom in the name of security is done.

They're suing NOW (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306432)

> Have the telecos been successfully sued in court for their indiscretions?

They are being sued, but the case is still pending. This decision is intended to end the existing lawsuit. If they get immunity, it will be an even more uphill battle. It's already difficult.

Re:What does it matter? (1, Interesting)

Bman21212 (1067680) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306452)

It does matter. People (like the ACLU) do want to pursue them in court, and make an example out of them.

Personally, I am for immunity for the telecoms. What they did was wrong, but the Bush administration said it was legal. Companies should be able to take the government at their word for what is legal or not. Going after the justice department would be a much better solution, though a harder one.

The problem is that if we set a precedent that the government cannot be trusted by big corporations, than we will run in to problems later. Going the Google way and making a big stink when they overstep their bounds is good, as it forces them to be legal. But the telecoms should not be punished for doing the government's bidding. The government should be punished for not following its own laws.

Re:What does it matter? (1, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306476)

Agreed. They are going after the wrong people. I will admit that I tend towards being a conservative libertarian, but I'm leaning towards Impeachment just the same even though I've supported Bush in the past on a few issues (tax cuts mainly).

Re:What does it matter? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306720)

They're going after the telecoms via the civil courts because that's the only place that normal human beings can bring charges.

The Justice Department and the FBI should actually be investigating, but, guess what? They're not.

Remember, 'impeachment is off the table', thank you stupid fucking Democrats. Impeachment is the fucking table when the executive branch is breaking the law.

And even if it's not, it certainly should be the very first thing that showed up the second the executive branch decided not to cooperate with any investigation. Harriet Miers is almost 10 months late for her testimony because the executive branch has lied and claimed she has 'executive privilege'.

So, Congress is a bunch of cowardly asshats, and it's probably because a few of the Democrats knew what was going on also, and the executive branch won't investigate themselves. If it could get into court, the court has a chance of clearing it up, but private citizens can't file charges...but they can sue. See why the government wants telecom immunity? That is the one possible chance at this point.

In the end, I'm not that keen to see telecoms end up owing several hundred trillion dollars worth of damages to the people of the US, although I think it would be damned funny. But that's not the point of the suit. If the telecoms need debt forgiveness after all this comes out, I won't stand in the way, but right now this case is the only way to find out what's actually happening.

Incidentally, I wish libertarians would stop acting like 'cutting taxes' is some sort of 'policy'. Taxes should roughly match government expenses, slightly exceeding them in boom times and slightly below them in recessions. There's actually no possible debate about that, except maybe how much 'slightly' is. Plenty of debate over who and what to tax, but no debate on the actual amount of needed income, and thus no debate on the amount of income we actually need to collect in total.

You guys, however, like to pretend it's a 'policy decision', that any reduction is good and any expansion is bad, thus resulting in a rather horrible deficit at this point. A policy decision is less government in general, or in any specific. But any government program that exists must be funded to the amount that it is spending. It's not a damn choice, where we can just magically not collect money to pay for things.

Re:What does it matter? (1)

capologist (310783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306966)

We don't need tax cuts with an $8 trillion debt.

Spending cuts, sure. (Might have been nice to stay out of this trillion-dollar war in Iraq.) But at any given level of spending, cutting today's taxes just means raising tomorrow's taxes.

It also means putting upward pressure on interest rates, which makes mortgages more expensive, makes it more expensive for businesses to raise capital, etc.

Re:What does it matter? (2, Interesting)

jschimpf (628722) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306652)

Ahem, the Telco's have hordes of lawyers to advise them if something is legal or not. What they did was NOT legal under the law when they did it. Remember this is a country of laws not of men, you cannot be told to do illegal things and then NOT be held responsible. The US government cannot order you to do illegal things. (Remember we hung German officials after WW II for "Only following orders") In any case these suites against the telcos are not for $ they are to discover the truth about what was done to us the citizens of this country.

Re:What does it matter? (3, Insightful)

Frequency Domain (601421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306654)

Personally, I am for immunity for the telecoms. What they did was wrong, but the Bush administration said it was legal. Companies should be able to take the government at their word for what is legal or not. Going after the justice department would be a much better solution, though a harder one. The problem is that if we set a precedent that the government cannot be trusted by big corporations, than we will run in to problems later. ...
I think you have it completely backwards. The USA is supposed to be run by laws, not by personalities. It seems to me the law was unequivocal in this case, but the telecoms went ahead and violated it on the say-so of the executive branch (which has no say-so on interpreting law, by the way). The telecom's lawyers should have told them that they were opening a big can of liability, and the fact that they're pushing so hard for retroactive immunity indicates that they know it, and are getting very concerned at the prospect of a change of administration. That's a huge tell - if they thought the law was on their side, they wouldn't worry about the next administration taking power.

If they are granted the immunity, it basically gives future administrations a precedent for saying they're above the law. Who cares what those pesky laws say, we'll immunize you if you do our bidding.

Re:What does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307686)

The law already grants immunity if the telecoms had a good faith belief they were acting in accordance with the law. The telecoms want congress to grant them immunity even if they knew they were breaking the law.

Re:What does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23307228)

AT&T is being sued for their actions in the NSA spying case, so yes they are being sued,

Re:What does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23308194)

there are over 20 lawsuits going on right now in multiple jurisdictions.

NO retroactive immunity!

What's wrong with investigations? (2, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306322)

If the telecoms don't have anything to hide, why would they be afraid of a few questions?

Uh-oh, Big Brother. It looks like that logic has a nasty way of working both ways. The only way to prevent this from happening in the future is to keep immunity out, sue every single telecom into bankruptcy, and throw every member of the Administration who was involved into prison.

Pff... hahahahah. Alright, it was worth a good laugh. Now please, go back to watching your televisions. The Factor is coming right up! Top news story? Reverend Jeremiah Wright is not an "honest man," and makes money selling lies...

Re:What's wrong with investigations? (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307800)

"Reverend Jeremiah Wright is not an "honest man," and makes money selling lies..."

Yeah, how dare he say that people hate us in the Middle East because we took a dangerous and selfish angle in our diplomatic relations to the region's influential states! We're perfect and there can be no repercussions for our actions! He's just racist against real Americans...

Some facts please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306386)

I'm all for preventing tel-com companies from acquiring immunity, but where are the facts? The notion of 'back room deals' seems a little vague. I mean, don't we still retain a shred of due process in this country? How could congress be so outright sneaky? The article doesn't provide any concrete information and it smacks of political propaganda. While I'd genuinely hate to see the telcom companies violating customers' rights with congressional backing, I can't help feeling there's something not right here....

In British English... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306430)

...'make a pass at' means something like 'reveal your sexual desire for'. What does it mean in American English? Given the context here of governments and telecom immunity I can only assume it means something like "fuc* in the ass".

Re:In British English... (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306890)

That's a pretty good description of what they are trying to do Citizen's Rights.

Re:In British English... (1)

Faylone (880739) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307476)

Either that, or in reference to a plane or such making a bombing pass

Re:In British English... (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307862)

In context, your interpretation is basically correct. Generally, to take another pass is to come at it again. As in pass-by again.

fuck 4 ma8e (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306434)

code sha'ring

This is really really important. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23306436)

What's at stake here is that an entire sector of corporation (allegedly) broke the law in secret, and once exposed, is now trying to make what they did suddenly legal.

What's at stake here is the public's right to discover who in our government (allegedly) requested that the law (allegedly) be broken.

What's at stake here is nothing less than the rule of law itself and whether the law is controlled by the People or by the corporations.

Think about the consequences if fucking telecommunications companies for God's sake get away with (allegedly) violating our rights to privacy guaranteed by the FISA laws...

Think about the consequences if the (alleged) pressure to break the law from our own government never is fully exposed...

Think of the consequences if justice is not served to those who deserve it...

If they get away with this, the grand experiment that is America has failed.

Allegedly.

Re:This is really really important. (1)

tarball (34682) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307634)

England has been ahead of us all the way. We've watched, criticized, and then let our (US) government do the same, and more.

The 2 parties, in one name or another, that have ruled us for 150+ years need competition.

tom

thank you scuttlemonkey (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23306502)

for posting this. Anyone who wishes to contact their Senator can do so here [senate.gov] .

But how do you feel about the ACLU? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307364)

Queue up the comments that distill to "I would rather give up all my rights than support the ACLU because they don't actively support the 2nd Amendment."

Re:But how do you feel about the ACLU? (0, Flamebait)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23307418)

That's okay. If this was a wingnut site, we'd be getting cracks about the "Anti-Christian Liberal Union".
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