And It's Typed So Nicely

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You can almost see the fragrant steam rising off this preposterous letter in defense of the PATRIOT Act. The authors manage to establish what nobody has contested: that not every provision of the act provides cause for concern, and that some provisions are even beneficial. But it also scrupulously avoids discussing the provisions that civil libertarians have raised concerns about, except to aver, without backing up the claim, that objections consist of "inaccurate rhetoric."

Most hilarious line:

In passing the Act, Congress extensively debated the commonsense updates in the law and provided safeguards for civil liberties.

Yes, in the six weeks between September 11 and the passage of the final version of the 342 page bill amending 15 complex statutes, debate was extensive. I hear a few of the legislators voting on the bill had even read the whole thing. Or had their staffers read it. Or read the title, anyway. I mean, it's called the PATRIOT act; what more do you need to know?

Runner up honors go to the spectacular bit of post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning evidenced here:

After the Act was passed, terrorist cells were dismantled in Oregon, New York, North Carolina and Virginia. Terrorists were prosecuted in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. In other words, the Patriot Act's tools are protecting us.

And after sleeping with me, my girlfriend got over a cold. In other words, I have magical powers of sexual healing. I'd better send an open letter to Congress.

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  1. Get up get up get up get up, let’s make love tonight

  2. I have this tiger repelling rock. I don’t see any tigers around, so it’s obviously working.

    Yes, I know, I took serious liberties with that Simpsons quote.

    “Let the bears pay the bear tax, I already pay the Homer tax.”

    “That’s home owners tax”

  3. “Before September 11, 2001, law enforcement, intelligence, and national security officials were prevented by legal and bureaucratic restrictions from sharing critical information with each other, and with state and local police.”

    Now that the Patriot Act is facilitating the sharing of critical information, I’d like to know, when operating within the borders of the United States, what kind of record do “intelligence” and “national security officials” have in regards to respecting the Constitutional rights of American citizens?

    I’d like to know, but I think the Patriot Act prevents anyone who has this information from telling someone like me about it.

    P.S. Okay, so Bork signed it, that’s understandable; how else is he going to find people to prosecute for sodomy? But why did Jack Kemp sign it? …say it ain’t so, Jack!

  4. William Weld’s signature is fairly disappointing too, as far as politicians go.

  5. Especially given that Weld blurbed David Boaz’s “Libertarianism: A Primer.” Though, in what I assume is a slip, he referred to it as a “100 proof shot” of libertarianism. Which, as all good lushes know, would mean it was half watered down…

  6. I went to the FreedomWorks website (FreedomWorks is the result of a merger of Empower America and Citizens for a Sound Economy), and they have several pages devoted to nothing but privacy.

    http://www.freedomworks.org/privacy/index.php

    I can’t find a mention of the Patriot Act anywhere on the site.

    They do, however, have a page about TIA, and I quote, “TIA is an enormous threat to our privacy, our Constitution, and our freedom.”, and then there’s this, “TIA flies in the face of the American tradition that the police conduct surveillance only where there is evidence of involvement in wrongdoing.”

    Nice.

    Jack Kemp appears to understand that TIA stinks, but FreedomWorks can’t find anything bad to say about the Patriot Act and Jack Kemp just signed a letter supporting it.

    Okay.

    This must be what we’re talking about when we talk about nuance.

  7. Cum on over to my bed. I’ll show you magical powers!

  8. “Before September 11, 2001, law enforcement, intelligence, and national security officials were prevented by legal and bureaucratic restrictions from sharing critical information with each other, and with state and local police.”

    That was based largely on court interpretations of some particular laws; court interpretations going back to the early Reagan administration. Some fairly minimal language could have changed that situation. Furthermore, since PATRIOT addresses far more than that particular issue, it would seem that this only partly justifies the law.

  9. Nice broadside Julian. My respecto-meter reading for National Review just fell a little bit more.

  10. “And after sleeping with me, my girlfriend got over a cold”

    You know, honey, I don’t appreciate you bragging about our sex life in your columns…

  11. Too right, Julian. 100 proof libertarianism would be half watered down.

    ‘Course the problem with the 200 proof stuff that y’all drink around here, as any southern boy (or any Scot) could tell you, is that 200 proof stuff makes you go blind and stupid. Even the cask-strength 120 proof stuff is damn near undrinkable, unless your nose is non-functional. To really flog the metaphor

    Rothbard – 200 proof libertarianism.
    Friedman – 100 proof.
    Bush – 30 proof.
    Kerry – near beer.

  12. The authors manage to establish what nobody has contested: that not every provision of the act provides cause for concern, and that some provisions are even beneficial

    Many people have called for the repeal of the harmful portions of the Patriot Act. However, other people have simply called for “the repeal of the Patriot Act” — signs to that effect have appeared in virtually every “peace” march since the act was passed. These people either (a) think the entire Act is bad or (b) would rather repeal the beneficial portions of the Act than take the time to add an extra qualifier to their demands.

    So, assuming that these people aren’t all just a bunch of jerks (admittedly not a safe assumption for the “peace” movement), some of them do in fact honestly think the Act is just plain Bad.

  13. Dan,

    Which of course is beside the point.

  14. If you’re suggesting that there’s an important distinction to be made between protestors who want to do away with the most egregious sections of the Patriot Act and protestors who want to do away with the Patriot Act entirely, then your objection is strikingly petty.

  15. “Before September 11, 2001, law enforcement, intelligence, and national security officials were prevented by legal and bureaucratic restrictions from sharing critical information with each other, and with state and local police”

    That’s a bold-faced whopper. The DOJ spent MILLIONS implementing the Regional Information Sharing System (RISS) for this specific purpose.

    And wasn’t the 1997 Effective Death Penalty Anti-Terrorism Act (or whatever the hell it was called) passed for the sole purpose of giving the feds a methadrine-like shot in the arm in their “war” against domestic terroristm?

    From what I can tell, the PATRIOT ACT is merely an opportunistic attempt by Justice to implement all the controversial provisions that weren’t included in the former bill.

  16. Speaking of knee-jerk, emotional legislation, I just heard that Congress passed a bill to make it illegal for the courts to review the pledge of allegiance. I’m sure Reason will jump all over this, but let me take the first shot.. jesusfuckmechrist.. they are ultimately trying to force everyone to make a loyalty oath to the christian desert god.. buddha help us

  17. Dan, yes I would like to repeal the whole Patriot Act.

    Cletus, I think you’re right on the money for the whole purpose of the Patriot Act.

    Mr Nice Guy, yes, we’re fucked.

    (Now I’ll put my tin-foil hat on and go back to being quiet.)

  18. If you’re suggesting that there’s an important distinction to be made between [misc. whining cut for brevity]

    I’m not suggesting anything; I’m simply pointing out that Julian’s claim that nobody thinks the Patriot Act is *all* bad is just flat-out wrong. There is no shortage of people who think that the Act is completely bad — in fact, some of those people post here.

  19. Dan,

    Care to give us a few examples please?

  20. Mister Bourne asks a good question; got any examples?

    Even if this distinction really exists, what are we supposed to conclude from this marvelous observation? In what way is your objection that some people are against all of the Patriot Act relevant?

    Logical relevance–that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about petty.

  21. Lowdog:

    “yes I would like to repeal the whole Patriot Act.”

    Why the whole thing? Much of it is civil liberty neutral. Why not just get rid of the parts that are a threat to civil liberties or wasteful? Trying to dump the whole thing will only impede our efforts to jettison the aspects of it that we really need to jettison.

  22. I mean, at least defense is something that our government is actually supposed to do.

  23. Care to give us a few examples please?

    Well, there’s this obscure little organization called the Libertarian Party, but there are plenty of others which you can find here, and here, and here, or by getting off your lazy ass and learning to Google.

    In what way is your objection that some people are against all of the Patriot Act relevant?

    If you don’t already understand why objective truth is relevant to the assessment of a claim then I see little reason to bother explaining it to you.

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