I found out this week, as reported by Wired News and a San Antonio paper, that a key provision of the former Patriot II Act (which would have allowed lots of new violations of our freedom in the name of stopping terrorism) was passed as part of the funding bill for intelligence agencies (which is kept secret as a matter of course).
Long rant continues: In section 374 of this bill, the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act (which refers to section 5312 of title 31, United States Code), “financial institution” is redefined broadly to include not only banks, but also casinos, credit card companies, and the U.S. Postal Service. Apparently the United States government can now look at lots of new kinds of your records with impunity—and they don’t even have to suspect you of any crime!
Did I mention what day Bush signed that law? Saturday, December 13th, 2003. That was the day Saddam Hussein was captured (avoiding temptation to put “captured” in quotes). I’m sure that was only coincidental.
Oh, also Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted there’s no concrete evidence of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda, despite the administration’s success at implying that link to the majority of Americans. More on that from the Washington Post (link via one38.org [“And Then…”])
Also via one38.org: The “S” Factor seems to explain why people like Bush. “People are stupid” is one of my mantras these days, unfortunately.
Maybe all those stupid people identify with Bush. Bush thinks that people giving up looking for a job is a good thing for the economy (since that causes a .2% decrease in the unemployment rate). The below is from ABC News:
The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 percent in December, the lowest level in 14 months, although hiring came to a near standstill and frustrated jobseekers gave up their search.
“Take your pick: ‘awful, sobering, pathetic,'” lamented Bill Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock Financial Services.
The 5.7 percent jobless rate, down 0.2 percentage point from November, was the lowest since October 2002. But the decline reflected the removal of almost 310,000 people who quit looking for jobs, not because they had found them. The government’s rate counts only people actively seeking work.
“The rate is going down, but it is going down for the wrong reasons,” said Cheney. “That doesn’t make you feel really good about the state of the jobs market.”
Job growth is expected to be a key issue as November’s presidential election nears, and President Bush could become vulnerable. The economy has lost about 2.3 million jobs since he took office, giving him the worst job creation record of any president since Herbert Hoover.
Bush seized on the lower jobless rate as reason to be optimistic about the economy.
“We want more people still working,” the president said at a small business forum. “But nevertheless, it is a positive sign that the economy is getting better.”
Things are looking up in America, aren’t they?
Maybe people will wake up between now and November. In the meantime, I can hardly stand it. Look, I just want to live my life the way I want and not have to worry about the government intruding on it. I also don’t want us to bomb other countries and I want people who have vast accumulations of wealth they get from exploiting other people to have to pay to help out the most needy. Is that too much to ask?
(I could go on and on. However, I want to actually get up from my computer and do something. I don’t understand how people can blog all day, every day. I admire that single-minded sickness (and simultaneously pity it) but I can’t be part of it.)
This pales in importance, but if Pete Rose is reinstated into baseball and is allowed to get into the Hall of Fame, I will have a bonfire of all of my Major League Baseball paraphernalia. Hats, shirts, programs from 1990—hell, all of my baseball cards, whatever. (Maybe I’ll take a page from Rose’s book and sell the valuable ones first.) I will take pictures of this bonfire and I will send them to Bud Selig.