back to article NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators

A law bill to reform some of the NSA's mass surveillance of innocent Americans died in the US Senate this evening. Democrats pushing through the proposed overhaul were two votes short of the 60 needed to break a Republican filibuster. While the bill would not have completely dismantled the NSA's spying operations, privacy …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please hold...

    ...While we get rid of the Jellyfish GOP. I do no know how to explain them or why they are such silly ninnies, but they are. It will take us at least one more election cycle, possibly two to get rid of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Re: Please hold...

      Sure, go ahead and swallow the propaganda whole. The Dems want to save us from the big bad government, and the GOP wants just the opposite.

      Note the actors involved. All the supporters are the usual leftist suspects, and not one shred of the GOP reasoning for opposition is given in the article, leaving the intended impression that they are just pure evil. The attempt at mind control is palpable.

      I admit I've not followed this topic, but I just did a bit of searching and sure enough, it looks like this bill is really designed to look like spying reform without actually doing real reform, and has the crucial benefit of choking off any actual future reform the incoming GOP majority might want to institute.

      The original bill got watered way down so that Obama would be "able" to sign it. Of course now that the Dems got stymied, they and their press minions are jumping all over the GOP in a coordinated attack which was probably planned for just such an eventuality.

      There was another reform bill earlier this year which the Dem house leadership helped to kill, so their hands are not clean. Okay, the GOP isn't much better, but they are NOT the Big Bad here.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Please hold...

        I thought the article did explain at least one republican's issue with the bill: it really didn't do what it was purported to do.

        Now, whether killing the bill was the appropriate or a sincere response or not is another matter.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: I thought the article did explain

          The article reads like the partisan hit piece it is. The whole thing reeks of Democrat Good, Republican Bad. Just take the descriptions of Leahy and Cruz. From an objective standpoint Leahy is as far to the left as Cruz is to the right. Furthermore, it is now the Republicans fault when the Dems had complete control of Congress for long enough to pass 0bamacare. And I mean COMPLETE control. There was nothing the Republicans could have stopped in either the House or the Senate. In the House they had majority and the majority has ALWAYS written the rules for the House. In the Senate they had 60 votes. That's enough to shut off any attempt at a filibuster even under the old rules before Harry Reid went nuclear on judges.

          Yes, killing the bill was entirely appropriate. We've just had an election and a whole bunch of seats changed hands. At most, the Lame Duck Congress should only pass such bills as are necessary to keep the country running. This shouldn't be one last chance to stick it to the voters who rejected the current makeup of the House and Senate.

          1. MacGyver

            Re: Lame Duck Congress, more like Lame Ass Congress

            I would be happy if ALL candidates had to take/retake the SAT (or at least the ASVAB) to be eligible for a seat in congress. At least we would know that they had the minimum education we expect a 17 year old to have.

            I have seen entirely too many on both sides that didn't sound like they should be making cookies let alone laws.

            If technical people need to be certified to work on routers and servers shouldn't the people that are making laws that govern situations involving ALL routers and servers be held to the same standard, or at least be able to tell one from the other?

            Who should be on "The Committee on Science, Space and Technology"? How about scientists not 30 lawyers. Seriously only about 5 are qualified to be on that committee out of the 40 that are. Most of them have no idea about what they are voting on and therefore they shouldn't be voicing any opinion.

          2. BillG Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: I thought the article did explain

            The article reads like the partisan hit piece it is. The whole thing reeks of Democrat Good, Republican Bad.

            I read the same thing. I've lost respect for The Reg.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Please hold...

        Note the actors involved. All the supporters are the usual leftist suspects, and not one shred of the GOP reasoning for opposition is given in the article,

        You and your twelve upvoters need to learn to read. Amash's objections were quoted at length. They're indented and in fucking boldface.

        It's certainly true that many people on both sides of the aisle are more than happy to keep Federal government surveillance programs essentially unchanged, with only cosmetic attempts (like this one) at "reform" as a pretense of addressing constituents' concerns. It's also true that there are a handful on both sides (including Amash on the right) who are keen to see real reform.

        But throwing a hissy fit and acting like this article - which cites critics of the bill, quotes Amash, and is if anything critical of the bill in itself ("As for non-Americans, there was little in the legislation to cheer about") - is somehow pro-Democratic Party propaganda just makes you look ridiculous.

    2. Hud Dunlap
      Unhappy

      Re: Please hold...@Billy Catringer

      Two election cycles to get rid of the GOP? Did you pay any attention to the election results?

      I would be happy to see the GOP and the Democrats for that manner go away. The problem is we have too many people who just vote R or D at election time.

  2. Gray
    Trollface

    Damned if ye do; damned if ye don't

    It's with decidedly mixed feelings that an American considers this bill and its defeat. About the closest analogy one can make is to compare it to a bill regulating wife beating. Everyone abhores wife beating, but it's come to be accepted as inevitable in certain social strata, so hence the need for rules for permissable beatings, and rules to punish those actions that cross the line.

    Of course, that ignores the original posit that wife beating was never legal, a restraint that over time has been weakened by the reality that only rarely is wife beating lethal to the victim and constant calls to the police have been an expensive inconvenience to the government. Thus a certain compromise of principle has resulted.

    If this analogy is a bit too obtuse, consider that the US Patriot Act authorized general warrants, which are patently unconstitutional (as wife-beating is clearly unlawful) but over time since 9-11 we have come to accept as inevitable that certain less egregious constitutional violations have proven convenient for government purposes. Now, however, it's feared by some that unchecked violations are proving lethal to democratic governance (as unrestricted wife-beating is lethal to the wife) and we're being asked to regulate the situation.

    Problem is, once we decide to regulate it, we would also legitimize and authorize it ... both the hypothetical wife-beating, and the all-too-real unconstitutional post 9-11 surveillance practices.

    It's a pity these issues require complex analysis. Politicians and despots love simplifying such questions for the benefit of the masses.

  3. KrisMac

    Do I care enough to comment???

    not much.. Americans get the government they deserve... they happily shit all over the rest of us anyway by assuming that through self-professed "American Exceptionalism" they can claim license to employ unrestrained surveillance wherever the hell they like - so long as its not in their own back yard...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do I care enough to comment???

      You just tarred 300,000,000+ human beings with the excesses of a few out-of-control bureaucrats. Tsk.

      1. KrisMac

        Re: Do I care enough to comment???

        Those 300,000,000+ have not done enough - and are continuing to not do enough - to bring those few out-of-control bureaucrats to heel.... complaining about the effects of your apathy on yourself does not win you an awful lot of sympathy from those outside of your cosy walled garden who are also impacted directly by the effects of your apathy...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do I care enough to comment???

          "Those 300,000,000+ have not done enough - and are continuing to not do enough - to bring those few out-of-control bureaucrats to heel...."

          Hey, we're trying to get rid of the Democrats as fast as we can, okay? Give it time. Starting next year Obama won't have Harry 'stone wall' Reid to shelter behind, and a lot of those Dem senators will have to start going on record with actual votes. I expect they will make Obama swallow at least a few vetoes, yum.

          Unfortunately Obama will remain encysted in the White House two more years, continuing to do damage. Well, the US will just have to deal with it somehow.

          1. KrisMac

            Re: Do I care enough to comment???

            You may be right for all I know - as an outsider I only see the effects of ill-advised American policies such as the global NSA data dragnet, not the intricacies of how they are enacted. That policy has now been in-place for what, over a decade now? (That we know of?) And if I am not mistaken was created by a Republican, and then only strengthened by a Democrat?

            What makes you feel that the next Republican in the seat will do anything different?

            Also, it seems to me that no matter who is ensconced, (I won't presume to use your pejorative), within the Whitehouse, the 'few out-of-control bureaucrats' who seem to be taking the blame for enforcing those policies will still be there - doing precisely what they are doing right now...

            Changing the figurehead at the pinnacle of power rarely if ever does anything to alter the corruption within the edifice upon which that power is based... it is only the fact that Americans in general seem to be willing to turn a blind eye to that corruption that allows it to continue - that and the willingness of a seeming majority of Americans to sell their Freedoms in return for Security... something which I believe one of your early Presidents commented on as undesirable??

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: Do I care enough to comment???

              It is idiots like Big John who blindly support one party while hating the other that are responsible for the mess we're in. People who don't use their brains and simply think what their masters on Fox News or MSNBC tell them to think, and who love the "simplicity" of straight ticket voting.

              He thinks electing a republican to the White House will change things. That's what the people who elected Obama thought, shows how well that works. Why would anyone be so stupid as to think it works the other way around? Bush sure as hell fucked up his share of stuff, just like Obama did, just like the next guy (or gal....Big John has been trained by his chosen media sources to hate and fear another President Clinton every bit as much as democrats' chosen media sources will train them to hate and fear a third President Bush)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Do I care enough to comment???

                Great preemptive strike, Doug. You have all the nasty adjectives down pat. "Blindly." "Hating." "Fearing." And let's not forget 'othering' me by referring to me in the third person. You do realize that trolling is frowned on here? Do you have anything at all constructive to say, or does your repertoire extend only to bad-mouthing people?

              2. dan1980

                Re: Do I care enough to comment???

                @DougS

                Re: MSBNC/Fox.

                One difference I feel is worth noting is that MSNBC seems less insistent on asserting that it is 100% neutral and unbiased, as opposed to Fox, where the presenters get most incensed when it is suggested that their programming and production leans to the right.

                But the big problem with this world, politically, is that people cleave to one party or another rather than voting on the issues. This can be seen in the people just repeating slogan and assertions rather than thinking for themselves.

                Nowhere was this more apparent (and embarrassing) than the ridiculous repetitions of the "Obama's death panels" that came in opposition to the Government's healthcare plan. It was a ridiculous thing to say in the first place and anyone repeating it was demonstrably guilty of toeing the party line without any form of independent thought.

                1. Tom 13

                  @dan1980

                  Your continued denial that the panels which restrict access to healthcare, particularly at end of life, are anything other than Nazi style death panels does not change the fact that they are indeed Nazi style death panels.

                  But then again I don't expect people who've been Gruberized to be able to rationally consider anything.

              3. cyrus

                Re: Do I care enough to comment???

                I already hate the next President.

            2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Do I care enough to comment???

              "that and the willingness of a seeming majority of Americans to sell their Freedoms in return for Security... something which I believe one of your early Presidents commented on as undesirable??"

              Yes, but he was a wanted terrorist (at least by the British at the time).

            3. beep54
              Angel

              Re: Do I care enough to comment???

              @KrisMac: Changing the figurehead at the pinnacle of power rarely if ever does anything to alter the corruption within the edifice upon which that power is based...

              This might be a good time for us all to re-read Barbara Tuchman's "March of Folly".

              Also, I totally blame the Intertubes.

              1. KrisMac

                Re: Do I care enough to comment???

                I agree, Ms. Tuchman's thesis that Governments quite frequently take actions that are against their best interests is rather on the money in the case of the NSA dragnet spying. In effect, taking that action has lead directly to an increased level of paranoia, distrust of American intentions and reliance on encryption amongst the rest of the world which only serves to make the US security intelligence mission harder to achieve - so certainly self defeating in the long run.

                Irrespective of the relative merits of the legislation that was voted down, (other posters have noted that it was really just a piece of political theatre designed to entrench the status quo rather than true reform), I feel this latest vote also aptly demonstrates Group Think in action. From an outsiders perspective, (and I do understand the weakness of such a perspective in the lack of details), there appears to me to be very little to differentiate the two sides of American politics. Both sides effectively reinforce and continue the policies of the other with what appears to be very little reference to any mandate they each might receive from 'the people'.

                It seems to me that the Vision of '..by the People, for the People..' put forward by the USA's Founding Fathers is these days mostly adhered to only by exception...

            4. Rick Brasche

              Re: Do I care enough to comment???

              that's a lotta commenting for someone pretending not to care enough to comment. Passive aggressive much?

              1. KrisMac

                @Rick Brashe Re: Do I care enough to comment???

                Passive aggressive? Possibly - but also perhaps you might concede that I could be more interested in the conversation surrounding the event rather than the event itself?

                None of these things occur in a vacuum, and the inability of the USA to reign in its rapidly emerging police state is of concern to the whole world. I happen to live in a Westernised, developed economy in a relatively peaceful part of the world, (Australia), and for much of that I have to thank the past good works, intentions and invention of the United States. And I AM very grateful for all that the US has done for this part of the globe.

                But being grateful for past actions does not mean that I have to like what I see happening to the US today - nor the creeping osmosis effect of that police state being inserted into my own country by local politicians who appear to act in 'monkey see, monkey do' lockstep with the way things are progressing Stateside...

                So, NO: Not interested in this vote since it has achieved nothing of substance, but critically interested in the overall situation.

            5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Do I care enough to comment???

              That policy has now been in-place for what, over a decade now? (That we know of?) And if I am not mistaken was created by a Republican, and then only strengthened by a Democrat?

              It wasn't created by any one person, or any one party. Plenty of folks eagerly contributed to the present US police state. Blaming it on one side or the other just perpetuates the fiction that there are sides.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Do I care enough to comment???

            Why do you think that having a choice between democrats and republicans is meaningfully democratic?

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Do I care enough to comment???

              If the USA was an actual democracy, the "electoral college" wouldn't exist.

              "The People" could vote Hairy-Ass McCracken in on a 90% landslide, but the Electoral College still wouldn't appoint him to office.

          3. Someone Else Silver badge

            @ Big John -- Re: Do I care enough to comment???

            Starting next year Obama won't have Harry 'stone wall' Reid to shelter behind, and a lot of those Dem senators will have to start going on record with actual votes.

            No, they won't. They'll do the same thing the Republicans did for the last 6 years....they'll filibuster every whackadoodle bill that Yertle The Turtle brings to the floor.

            Democrats have learned from the Masters.

    2. solo

      Re: Do I care enough to comment???

      Frankenstein couldn't get the revenge, if I summarize, right?

    3. Gray
      Flame

      Re: Do I care enough to comment???

      I'll tell you what, Sparky ... whilst us Americans try to deal with the political upheaval and constitutional upsets here at home, why don't we just leave all that pesky Middle East / Ukraine / ISIS terrorist business to you Brits & Europeans to handle, hmmm ? Care to step up to the plate and take a swing at it?

      I'd think we could better use our resources and wealth here at home solving some serious domestic problems, and let you folks take on the role of defending yourselves from the bad actors. Why don't you start with Putin and his westward creep into your neighborhood? Or maybe you can put a few hundred thousand of your own into Syria and Iraq to stem the tide of black-flagged decapitators? I'm getting just a little sad at the price we're payin', and more than a little pissed at you slingin' yer bullshit at us. Alright?

      But actually, I'd bet that if we pulled all of our US people out, and closed all the US bases, and pulled ourselves out of NATO and left it to you to man up and pay for, you'd shit a gold brick faster than your pols could scream, "Please, think of the impact on our economy!"

      1. Thought About IT

        Re: Do I care enough to comment???

        I think you've put your finger on the solution there, Gray. We've been sold all these intrusions into other people's countries and our privacy as necessary to keep us safe, but all it's done is to reduce our safety and cause death and destruction elsewhere. If the US sorted out its own internal problems, starting with its totally corrupt government, the rest of us might feel a lot safer.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Do I care enough to comment???

          " but all it's done is to reduce our safety and cause death and destruction elsewhere. "

          Damned right sparky.

          The absolute best recruiting tool for turning mild-mannered family guys into hate-spewing enemies of the state is letting him see his wife and children blown up by a bomb launched by an jittery ampthetamine-crazed US Navy pilot who'd have trouble identifying the right target, let alone putting anything near it. It doesn't matter that the pilots were ordered not to attack. The fact remains that they did.

          Yes, that's right. They really do feed amphetamines to navy pilots and the resulting carnage is fairly predictable.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do I care enough to comment???

        "Whilst us Americans try to deal with the political upheaval and constitutional upsets here at home, why don't we just leave all that pesky Middle East / Ukraine / ISIS terrorist business to you Brits & Europeans to handle, hmmm ? Care to step up to the plate and take a swing at it?"

        Sorry, Americans. You don't get to go out and play with the other kids until you've helped clear up the mess you made there. Or did you somehow think none of that was your fault?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do I care enough to comment???

          "Sorry, Americans. You don't get to go out and play with the other kids until you've helped clear up the mess you made there. Or did you somehow think none of that was your fault?"

          So, the US is responsible for:

          The problems endemic to the Middle East

          Islamic conquest

          Russian conquest

          I might argue that the last two things only got out of hand after a hard-core, antiwar leftist got into the White House, but he has such good intentions that I won't do that. The first point is a lot older than the US, and I believe the British had a hand in creating many of the more recent problems, no?

          1. MacGyver

            Re: Do I care enough to comment???

            @BJ

            Anytime I hear that someone "can't wait for Obama to leave" I pretty much know right away that:

            1) Your easily led.

            2) Don't have any idea about what you are talking about.

            3) Watch Fox news while pumping your fist in the air screaming Yeah!!.

            4) Are white (and probably southern).

            5) Have a memory that only goes back 6 years.

            6) The word "Begazi" while be coming out of your mouth shortly.

            Let me guess, you also think the Earth is 6,000 years old, and jesus is coming soon? Listen, I'm no great fan of president Obama's accomplishments to date, but he did help get millions of people healthcare (in order to get rid of the whole "prior condition" bullshit), and if you could read charts and graphs you would know that the country is better now than when Bush left. There is no need to argue back, I was just reminding you what your "lib-tard" cousin or brother-in-law probably already tells you all the time on Facebook, that you are kind of simple-minded and really shouldn't voice your opinions in a public place.

            1. Michael Wood 1

              Re: Do I care enough to comment???

              And you still haven't learned to user a spell/grammar checker.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Do I care enough to comment???

              "There is no need to argue back..."

              Thanks for letting me off the hook, MG, but you needn't have bothered. Obviously you have me all figured out. Must be an innate talent of yours. ;-)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Do I care enough to comment???

            "So, the US is responsible for: The problems endemic to the Middle East. Islamic conquest"

            Do you REALLY have a set of balls so large that you'd try and deny that the US has spent the last 10 years trying to smart bomb inconvenient former 'friends' into oblivion across the entire region? Did 2001-2003 simply not happen in your world? ISIS exists because a sane Iraq doesn't and that particular pile of shit is sitting steaming on your doorstep, and mine, because of the United States. And Tony fucking Blair.

            "I might argue that the last two things only got out of hand after a hard-core, antiwar leftist got into the White House, but he has such good intentions that I won't do that."

            Really? Not, say when that slack-jawed drooling yokel a fair few of you apparently voted for landed on an aircraft carrier and informed us all that today was 'mission accomplished? I'm very very fond of Americans, and America, but really mate - you've as much work to do sorting out the arseholes in charge as we do.

            "The first point is a lot older than the US, and I believe the British had a hand in creating many of the more recent problems, no?"

            Yes, they did. But unlike you, I don't keep my head firmly planted up my own arse, busily pretending that's not the case.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do I care enough to comment???

          funny, this is what we should say to Europe and all the shit their colonialization f**ked up for centuries until they decided to bail from the last one before WWII and left the world to deal with the garbage. Middle East, India/Pakistan, Vietnam...you're like yuppies who look down their noses at "stinky" people like garbage men and sewer crews that are the only reason the Urban Hipster isn't buried in his own filth.

          1. Roj Blake Silver badge

            Re: Do I care enough to comment???

            "funny, this is what we should say to Europe and all the shit their colonialization f**ked up for centuries until they decided to bail from the last one before WWII and left the world to deal with the garbage. Middle East, India/Pakistan, Vietnam...you're like yuppies who look down their noses at "stinky" people like garbage men and sewer crews that are the only reason the Urban Hipster isn't buried in his own filth.I kind of agree with this. If Europeans had never colonised North America the world would be a far better place."

            I kind of agree with this. If Europeans had never colonised North America the world would possibly be a far better place.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Do I care enough to comment???

        "whilst us Americans try to deal with the political upheaval and constitutional upsets here at home, why don't we just leave all that pesky Middle East / Ukraine / ISIS terrorist business to you Brits & Europeans to handle, "

        If it wasn't for american interference in foreign affairs, most of these current issues wouldn't have occured in the first place.

        Bashir: put in place by an CIA-organised coup

        Iran: Resah Palavi (The Shah) put in place by an CIA-organised coup

        Iraq: Hussein put in place by a CIA-organised coup

        Bin Laden: Former CIA operative, trained and financed by the CIA.

        Israel (one of the biggest destabilising influences in the Middle East) - a state FOUNDED on terrorist practices (Every single type of attack seen in the middle east today was pioneered by Jewish Extremists) and propped up unilaterally by the USA.

        Saudi Arabia: A repressive state, which has funded much global terrorism - but that's OK because the King is personal friends of the Bush family.

        Starting to see a pattern here? Every single USA action in the middle east in the last 60 years has made things WORSE.

      4. Ignorance is bliss

        Re: Do I care enough to comment???

        Well, we 'mericuns have overthrown any government we don't like, installed and supported dictators in tens of countries, bombed anyone who gets in the way, and interfered in ways big and small with people all over the planet for the last 70 years. Resulting in the messes all over the planet that we have now. How's that working out?

        I guess you think that the big brains, the neocons of all stripes, the 'mericun exceptionalists (D and R and folks like you alike), the big 'thinkers' in the big Think Tanks, somehow have a better handle on the situation than the regular Joe Averages? I don't think so, they are just as much prisoners of their own group-think as members of any other tribe or sub-tribe, and probably more—because their bloated salaries depend on it.

        The agencies that are called upon to 'protect' us have shown that they are incompetent, and not only incompetent, but ruinously expensive. The 'Defense' department hasn't won a war since WWII. The 16-and-counting competing internal and external spy agencies can find out NOTHING of any importance in time to be useful, and the results are politicized anyway. The FBI is reduced to truly pathetic sting operations to justify themselves, and on and on.

        All our politicians' so-called 'solutions' are short-term and increasingly reliant on brute force.

        The rest of the planet can only hope that the U.S. runs out of money (that is, the US dollar collapses) sooner rather than later.

    4. ShrekD'Ogre
      WTF?

      Re: Do I care enough to comment???

      It is not Americans that cause these problems. It is the fault of the self supporting and illegitimate plutocracy that has replaced our democracy. Our government has become so corrupt that nothing short of a bloody revolution and all out civil war could change it. I keep seeing all the "we hate Americans" bullshit on this site. It is the government that is the problem not the people.

  4. dan1980

    Filibusters are just plain wrong.

    Yes, they have been used for goals that I consider worthwhile but it is no way to run a democracy. Representative democracies - at least in theory - involve the representatives voting on issues on behalf of their electorate.

    A filibuster is a direct, blatant attempt to prevent that happening. There have been changes (as I understand only applicable to the current congress) but the fact is that there is still an allowance to, essentially, try to prevent measures being passed by an ordinary majority.

    It's simple - decide what votes are required for a given type of motion and leave it at that.

    If one Senator attempts prevent a vote then they are trying to silence the voice of those people who voted in the rest of the members. I am rather glad that Australia doesn't have such nonsense. (And yes, I realise that it's not just the US.)

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      >Filibusters are just plain wrong... it is no way to run a democracy

      Which is ok, because America isn't a democracy, its a republic.

      The problem is that the people's representatives don't represent the people, they represent the people who fund them because the constituencies tend to vote for whoever puts on the most expensive advertising campaign. Plus, by the time a candidate is elected, they have sold out to so many interests, nothing new can happen. While people are still relatively wealthy, I suspect there will be little impetus for them to tear themselves away from the goggle-box and organise enough to swing the voting system.

      If we were in France we might expect a revolution, followed by some croissants and a siesta. Bringing back the phrase, "no taxation without representation" might also be appropriate.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "While people are still relatively wealthy, I suspect there will be little impetus for them to tear themselves away from the goggle-box and organise enough to swing the voting system."

        Global wealth is increasing. It's just increasing faster in "poor countries" than in "rich ones"

        Not that it's any consolation for Billy-Bob McTwat from Bumfuck Nowheresville, who's been laid off, can't afford a dentist for his rotting teeth and is just bright enough to hate who the media tells him to.

    2. Tom 13

      @dan1980: Filibusters are just plain wrong.

      No they aren't.

      They are a time honored tradition and they provide the means to slow down legislation in times of overwrought passion.

      The US government does NOT rest on the concept that a majority of the people should be able to enact anything they want. Quite the opposite. It rests on the concept that some laws are so wrong that no one should be able to enact them. Most of those are ensconced somewhere in the amendments, but the 10th amendment leaving rather a lot of wiggle room, the filibuster was devised by the Senate as one more means to ensure that the minority is not abused by the majority.

      I happen to find it abhorrent that the filibuster is used to prevent the execution of responsibilities in the Executive office, but that is a separate issue from the validity of the filibuster itself. I also recognize that this is an issue over which men of good character will disagree (even on the part I personally find abhorrent).

      What I think ought to be abhorrent to all men of good character is the way Democrats bent the filibuster out of its original shape more than 20 years ago. It use to be that if you were going to mount a filibuster, you had to actually filibuster. That is, you had to take the floor and speak against the bill, and you had to pass the floor to other people who wished to continue the filibuster. This was too inconvenient for Senator Byrd, so he introduced the two track floor for the Senate. So in its current incarnation, all a senator has to do is mark the bill for filibuster and it moves to the unused Senate track.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As usual, the headline analysis misses a lot of other parts of the bill. This started out as a bill to reign in the NSA, and instead made many aspects worse and also extended parts of the awful PATRIOT Act. Even the initial sponsors like Justin Amash (probably the most anti-NSA guy in Congress) and Rand Paul had long since abandoned what had become window dressing pretending to be real reform.

    Since Justin Amash is also the only member of Congress to explain every vote he makes on his Facebook page, I'll let him explain:

    "Today, I will vote no on ‪#‎HR3361‬, the ‪#‎USAFREEDOMAct‬.

    I am an original cosponsor of the Freedom Act, and I was involved in its drafting. At its best, the Freedom Act would have reined in the government's unconstitutional domestic spying programs, ended the indiscriminate collection of Americans' private records, and made the secret FISA court function more like a real court—with real arguments and real adversaries.

    I was and am proud of the work our group, led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, did to promote this legislation, as originally drafted.

    However, the revised bill that makes its way to the House floor this morning doesn't look much like the Freedom Act.

    This morning's bill maintains and codifies a large-scale, unconstitutional domestic spying program. It claims to end "bulk collection" of Americans' data only in a very technical sense: The bill prohibits the government from, for example, ordering a telephone company to turn over all its call records every day.

    But the bill was so weakened in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the last week that the government still can order—without probable cause—a telephone company to turn over all call records for "area code 616" or for "phone calls made east of the Mississippi." The bill green-lights the government's massive data collection activities that sweep up Americans' records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

    The bill does include a few modest improvements to current law. The secret FISA court that approves government surveillance must publish its most significant opinions so that Americans can have some idea of what surveillance the government is doing. The bill authorizes (but does not require) the FISA court to appoint lawyers to argue for Americans' privacy rights, whereas the court now only hears from one side before ruling.

    But while the original version of the Freedom Act allowed Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act to expire in June 2015, this morning's bill extends the life of that controversial section for more than two years, through 2017.

    I thank Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte for pursuing surveillance reform. I respect Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Rep. John Conyers for their work on this issue.

    It's shameful that the president of the United States, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the leaders of the country's surveillance agencies refuse to accept consensus reforms that will keep our country safe while upholding the Constitution. And it mocks our system of government that they worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.

    The American people demand that the Constitution be respected, that our rights and liberties be secured, and that the government stay out of our private lives. Fortunately, there is a growing group of representatives on both sides of the aisle who get it. In the 10 months since I proposed the Amash Amendment to end mass surveillance, we've made big gains.

    We will succeed."

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Anonymous coward

      "Since Justin Amash is also the only member of Congress to explain every vote he makes on his Facebook page, I'll let him explain"

      Yes, yes. Some people didn't like it. Got it. I've added a link to his post. I think the piece is fair: we do say *some* of the NSA's spying operations – not a complete shutdown of domestic surveillance.

      C.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Anonymous coward

        So much political grandstanding. Especially from those "Democrats" that used be in charge not so long ago and are now crocodile tearing. Don't believe any of those arseholes.

        "WATERED DOWN TO THE POINT OF IRRELEVANCE" or "IT'S ALL BULLSHIT AND SOMA" is the correct description.

        Why I Don’t Support USA Freedom Act.

      2. ecarlseen

        Re: Anonymous coward

        I still think you don't get it, as you're casting this as an essentially "Democrat vs Republican" issue. The anti-NSA and pro-NSA coalitions are pretty evenly split between the parties - a very unusual thing in American politics. For example, the ultra-Democratic senators in my state, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, have both historically been rabidly and unapologetically in favor of as much surveillance as they can get away with, often joining forces with neocon Republicans Lindsay Graham and John McCain on this issue. The two people who have made the strongest stands against the NSA in the House and Senate and really put the issue on the political map are Republicans Justin Amash and Rand Paul, respectively (although Paul has been edging his overall rhetoric a bit more in the neocon direction as he prepares for a Presidential run).

        Using this bill as an indicator of positions on surveillance is, as mentioned, extremely problematic because the whole point of it was generate political cover and let congresscritters say "OK, see, we did something about it, let's move on" while actually minimizing reforms. I would imagine that silicon valley's support is more due to the FISA provisions than anything else - the secret warrants have been their real bugaboo - and I frankly think they want the privacy issue swept under the rug just as badly as the pro-NSA people do because they do essentially the same things: gather as much information as they can on people for fun and profit. Maybe the EFF thinks that this is as good as they can get, or they are willing to settle for an incremental approach. I'd disagree with them - I think that with all of the horse-trading involved it's a net minus (the math is subjective, but whatever), but the biggest problem is that it lets everyone just move on from the issue.

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: ecarlseen

          'I still think you don't get it, as you're casting this as an essentially "Democrat vs Republican" issue'

          I do get it. We're not. It's obvious some Rs and Ds are voting against their own sides, but look at the voting record.

          C.

    2. Rick Brasche

      voting reasons?

      these should be mandatory for everyone. Even if written by a staffer, it's still attributed and while won't affect the low information voter, those of us with reading comprehension and memory longer than 10 years will find it extremely valuable

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: voting reasons?

        those of us with reading comprehension and memory longer than 10 years will find it extremely valuable

        Will we? In most elections, for most races, the choices I'm faced with are between "ugh" and "oh, hell no". A bunch of explanations for past votes is not likely to change that.

        There are positions on my ballot where additional information would be handy, most are for positions where, by state law, candidates are not allowed to make any substantive statements - judgeships.1 The other races where more information would be useful are the local ones where often many of the candidates can't be bothered to make their positions known, for example via the website run by the local paper for exactly that purpose, so I'm stuck trying to decide if I want to vote for any of the clueless and/or lazy folks who've thrown their hats in the ring.

        But for national office, lack of information on a candidate's voting record has never been a problem.

        1Which I firmly believe should not be decided by popular election, since there's no way for the populace to make an informed decision, short of reading thousands of pages of court transcripts. And probably not even then.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: voting reasons?

          " In most elections, for most races, the choices I'm faced with are between "ugh" and "oh, hell no". A bunch of explanations for past votes is not likely to change that."

          Then go in and spoil your ballot paper, or vote for the greens, or write "NO CONFIDENCE IN ANY" across it.

          "Not voting" is not an option. It's tacit acceptance of the status-quo and anyon dressing it up as a "protest" is leading you up the garden path.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: voting reasons?

        "Even if written by a staffer, it's still attributed "

        The average politician will deny he wrote it, then when confronted with the evidence, deny the denial, ad nauseum.

        There's a reason George Boole developed his special form of algebra - it was to analyse what policitians say and do.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Since Justin Amash is also the only member of Congress to explain every vote he makes on his Facebook page, I'll let him explain:"

      Short version: What goes into committee from the floor usually bears almost no resemblance to what comes out.

      Longer version: If an act says what it's going to do in the first paragraph, by the time you get to page 2 it usually turns out to be doing the exact opposite.

      Add to that the obscene practice of "riders" - tacking sections onto an act which have nothing whatsoever to do with the legislation at hand and usually seek to further someone's personal ends

      One could spend several lifetimes just unpicking the tangled incoherent mess of USA legislation passed in the last 50 years, let alone the 100 before that.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This bill *renewed* the absolute worst parts of the old PATRIOT act! This being delayed is a GOOD THING! Why is it being spun as a bad thing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why is it bad?

      They say, don't open the Pandora's box (the vote box), as even the hope will fly away.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: anonymous coward

      You're assuming the Republican-controlled Congress won't renew it as is come June 2015.

      C.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Why is it being spun as a bad thing?

      Because it was a hard-left Democrat sponsoring this PR stunt.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Start with the obvious. Repeal the THE PATRIOT Act,

    And enough with the annoying-as-f**k backronyms?

    ON the basis of the comments of the original sponsor it sounds like more "security theatre," this time to give the appearance of reducing surveillance without actually doing it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To quote Cold Lazarus

      RON... RON... there must be a way to make what these people stand for spell S-H-I-T.

      1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: To quote Cold Lazarus

        ...there must be a way to make what these people stand for spell S-H-I-T.

        I believe that is most likely going to happen when the Keystone pipeline legislation is coupled with the drive to legalize pot in this country in order to get both through Congress. Perhaps something along the lines of the "Good Oil - Oh Dude, So High I Tingle" act. Yes, that's GOOD SHIT.

    2. Rick Brasche

      Re: Start with the obvious. Repeal the THE PATRIOT Act,

      here's legislation I can get behind: No Backronyms for any political use. Only allowed for hardware systems, and only universally acceptable for space program use. Amateur space programs included.

  8. PassiveSmoking
    Coat

    Why do bills in America have to have such infantile names? PATRIOT? USA-FREEDOM? CAN-SPAM, etc? Are American politicians really so childish they can only support something if it has a cute name?

    Wait a minute, what am I saying?

  9. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    This is why I am not a fan of either major party in the U.S.

    The Republicans used to be a more of a believer in civil liberties, but now they have turned into surveillance fanatics because of those nasty terrorists. At least they mostly spare us the kvetching about online pedophiles....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the fun fact:

    that among those voting to oppose the break, are many Democrats. Like most of the "obstructions" instantly blamed on the minority party, is that they can't do anything without the other party's complicitness.

    If it were a straight party-line vote, where everyone was in agreement with their party line, the filibuster would have ended.

    Does everyone forget how certain prominent West Coast Democratic senators went on record defending current NSA practices?

    There's enough blame to go around, but refusing to blame the goobers in charge when they're in charge, does nothing to help the situation.

  11. henrydddd

    PUBERS

    I guess the republicans don't consider massive spying on US citizens or massive military spending ( one trillion dollars each year and growing) to be big government, but do consider food stamps, medicaid, social security, wic, and other programs to help the poor and middle class to be big government at its worst. Thank God I have never voted republican. At least I can look at my face in a mirror without shame.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: PUBERS

      It wasn't so long ago that the Republicans were the progressive party in the USA and it was the Democrats who were the conservatives.

      The amazing tribalism of political party supporters is demonstrative proof that civil war is never very far away.

  12. Someone Else Silver badge
    Facepalm

    To paraphrase John Boner (R-Braindead Red State)

    "Let's be clear about this. A Keystone pipeline vetovote against the USA FREEDOM act would send the signal that this presidentCongress has no interest in listening to the American people," Boehner said. "VetoingFilibustering an overwhelmingly popular bill would be a clear indication that he doesn'twe don't care about the American people's priorities. It would be equivalent of calling the American people stupid."

    There...fixed it for you. (Although it doesn't really need that much fixing; it is pretty much bog-standard Republicon blatherskitery, which can be easily adapted to any situation where one has no reason to track hypocrisy.)

  13. MIc

    Keep in mind this bill renewed the patriot act and didn't really change the capabilities of the NSA. Basically this bill didn't do enough

  14. Mark 85 Silver badge

    No matter what party is in power, we, the people, have lost.

    It really doesn't matter which is power if you look at it rationally. Both are corrupt. Both are beholden to the money. There's no one in the Congress who's really "independent". They just use the party line for their excuses. They play the game with acronyms in the Orwellian sense and know it. We, as a country, and as a people, are screwed and most of us don't know it. We'd rather play with our shinies and believe that Wal-Mart still "buys American"... that our elected officials have our best interests at heart.

    Well bull!!! They have their own interests at heart first and foremost. Why fix things when you can blame others? Including the other party, other countries, other beliefs. They even blame us citizens for not being "patriots". Well, patriotism goes beyond following the party lines and if anything, it involves questioning the motives of those ruling us... both sides not just one party. They are all at fault and in many ways, we the people, are at fault also. First for electing them and then falling into the party line. Second, we ignore history as do the leaders.

    The sad truth is that Jefferson was right about "getting the government you deserve" and "trading freedom for security". Security is an illusion that destroys your freedom. The threat from the outside is probably less than the threat from our watchers.

    I've watched this downward spiral since the days of Kennedy and yes, it is downward and the landing will not be pretty. I grieve for what might have been.

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