Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Caught in the Net
Last week I noted how Wisconsin's Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate think the Patriot Act is just fine. For further enlightenment into the depths of their cluelessness, TomPaine.com helpfully provides the comments of David Cole of Georgetown University Law School. For one thing, Cole rebuts Tim Michels' assertion that the Act does little more than expand existing investigative powers used for criminal investigation to national security cases. Wrong again, Timmy. The threshold for Patriot investigations is far lower than in traditional criminal cases--and any investigation, from legitimate inquiries to fishing expeditions, is under a strict gag order that will keep most of them from ever becoming public.

More importantly, Cole provides a talking point that every one of us ought to memorize, to respond to the argument that as far as the Patriot Act goes, "If you don't have anything to hide, you don't have anything to worry about"--an argument that's coursing through the body politic today as the Supremes hear the Hamdi and Padilla cases. Simply stated--yes you do. Are you willing to gamble that our government, which can screw up a one-car funeral, is going to act with perfect wisdom in all terror investigations? Or is it more likely that innocent people are going to get caught in the Patriot net--a net woven through and through with secrecy to keep it safe from the annoyance of having to provide due process?

Elsewhere, the Bush campaign's latest TV ad, which accuses John Kerry of voting against "vital military hardware," such as body armor for troops in the field, is through-the-looking-glass crazy, for one thing--and extremely misleading, as the folks at FactCheck.org note. By the same logic the Bush/Cheney campaign uses to smear Kerry, Cheney himself and George Bush the Elder would be equally guilty.

Every time Bush slams Kerry, the campaign sends me an e-mail solicitation for a contribution. As a result, I am getting three or four of these a week. True, Howard Dean did it, too, but not as often, and not as stridently. Yes--in one way, at least, John Kerry is more strident than Howard Dean. If Kerry would show half the determination to beat Bush that his staffers are showing in hopes of getting my money, the race wouldn't be so close. (James Ridgeway of the Village Voice has given up on Kerry entirely.)

And finally, I direct your attention to the first blog that actually claims to be inspired by this one--my old friend Willie out in Arizona has launched his new blog "Baseball is My Life." He is about to discover that maintaining a blog is the biggest, most entertaining time-waster since the yoyo.

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