Tag Archives: Patriot Act

Too political?

My daughter told me that I’ve become too political. That set me thinking. It is true that I pay much more attention now.

I hardly paid any attention in the 70s and 80s. I was too preoccupied with small children in the first of those decades. Graduate studies, two teenagers and an inter-city commute took over in the second decade. In the 90s, Clinton and his impeachment, his relentless pursuit by members of the political establishment who abandoned even the pretense of commonality, riveted my attention.

When an unprecedented, horrific attack on a complacent nation spurred the newly installed triumvirate of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to curtail our civil liberties with the Patriot Act, I was galvanized. I warned anyone who would listen to me that proud and prosperous German Jews were decimated because they believed “it can’t happen here.” It can happen here. History has taught us that no government, no society, is immutable. I was afraid we were falling down a slippery slope, and indeed, that was when Americans lost not only their privacy but their faith in the impregnable fortress America. The same powerbrokers plunged us into a war we couldn’t win. Surveillance, fear, and torture insinuated themselves into the American experience.

In the Obama years, blind hatred and the corrosive antagonism between Democrats and Republicans further undermined American democracy and paved the way for the clownish but unfunny despot who is doing his best to undermine and sabotage the institutions that made America powerful and just.

How can one not be “political”? How can one ignore Trump’s peevishness, his enthrallment with himself and his desires, his reckless onslaughts on long-established norms, his ignorance, mendacity and deliberate sabotage of arduously wrought pacts to rescue the planet and provide care for the poor and the sick?

American democracy is under siege. Only activists, roused by anger and fear, can sway the politicians who have the power to save the Republic.

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Filed under American Society, government surveillance, Politics, Trump

A blank page is a formidable foe

Medical Practitioner WritingA good writer should be able to write about something—anything—even nothing, as the writers for Jerry Seinfeld did so successfully for years. How did they do that?

Well, here I am, facing a blank page on a Thursday night and committed to post something on the blog. (Since yesterday’s post went up after midnight, I could cop a plea on the basis that I’ve filled my quota for today. But that wouldn’t wash, because then yesterday’s slot would be left empty-handed.)

This afternoon I was writing about how first the Patriot Act and then the monster it spawned, the pervasive NSA, chill my blood; why their power and secrecy awaken dormant terrors leftover from childhood. But that’s a longer story for another day.

How many times have I read that you have to force yourself to face down the blank page and enter some words— free association, a grocery list— anything to get the juices rolling.

I could write about the sudden flood I unknowingly waded into this afternoon.  Continue reading

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Filed under Musings, Personal, Writing

Sen. Rand Paul assails the Patriot Act

(Montage of Sen. Rand’s remarks by Talking Points Memo)

Opposing the extension of three provisions of the Patriot Act without debate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Thursday eloquently argued in favor of restoring the civil liberties abrogated by that legislation. I don’t normally agree with Rand, but in this we are absolutely on the same page. We share the some of the concerns I expressed in the article I published earlier this week at Women’s Voices for Change: “We have authorized the government to eavesdrop on every telephone call, scan every email and search private records and property, all without the owner’s knowledge or consent.”

“Just because we believe in the Constitution doesn’t mean we don’t want to capture terrorists. We just want to have some rules,” Rand insisted. “Do you want them trolling through your Facebook? Do you want them trolling through your emails? Do we want a government that is unrestrained by law?”

Ultimately, Rand’s efforts were in vain. The Senate voted to renew the expiring sections like the notorious library provision, which allows the government to examine the list of books anyone checks out from the library without the subject’s knowledge or consent.

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Filed under People, Politics