Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduces extension of Patriot Act sunset

GovTrack: S. 1692: Text of Legislation, Introduced in Senate.

With the bill linked above, Patrick Leahy is attempting to move the end date of the USA Patriot Act from December 31st 2009 to December 31 2013. On October 8th the bill was read twice and submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Leahy is chair.

Specifically what S. 1692 will do is amend the USA Patriot Improvement and Re-authorization Act of 2005 by changing ‘2009’ to ‘2013’ in various sections of the law which reference the bill’s “sunset”, a fail-safe date placed into the law in order to make it more palatable to its detractors. The next step for Leahy’s bill is for it to leave the Judiciary Committee and enter debate on the floor of the senate.

If Leahy’s amendment goes through, the USA Patriot act and all that it allows will stay with this country for another four years. This law needs to run its course and end this December.

For eight years now we’ve lived in a shadow of fear brought on by first the destruction of the World Trade Center, the fall-out caused by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and — not the least — the fear-mongering actions of our representatives in congress, of which the Patriot Act is one.

The structure of the United States is such that we can either entertain personal and civil liberties, or we can give all of that up for the illusion of perfect safety. We can’t have both. The Patriot Act represents the latter. It’s time for the former. There is still time for us to contact our senators and representatives and let them know that we’re done with the Patriot Act and the fear it represents.

Support for Vermont secession

Second Vermont Republic

You may have read about this on Monday via the AP, or you may have seen it in The Onion. Whichever source you heard the news from, I urge you to support — even if not a Vermont resident — this movement. While only 13% of the population of Vermont are behind a secession movement, it is a vocal and viable minority. As a natural born citizen of Vermont, and a former resident, I am lending my ethical support to these folks.

I’m not a revolutionary. I’m not a radical. I’m not an anarchist. I have read very carefully the movement’s points of order, and reasons for secession. What I found were some very salient points. Points that I was initially inclined to believe were overly utopian, but I caught myself on that point.

Why shouldn’t residents of a region feel entitled to safety, peace, economic security, in addition to the other rights granted US Citizens by the Bill of Rights? The movement towards creating the Second Vermont Republic is emphasizing those points in a peaceful separation from the United States. They hold up Switzerland as a political and economic model, and I don’t believe they are far off. However, there are questions the movement will have to answer if it is to succeed.

How will residents of the Second Vermont Republic make their living? The service and manufacturing industries — according to my data — are the largest in the state. Will there be enough support for both of them for individual families to sustain or improve their ways of life?

Will federal grants to public universities continue to be funded, or will there need to be a new method of supplying research grants to the University of Vermont and the like?

Will there be tariffs on trade? Will there be a need for a Vermont passport? What about Vermont’s relationship with Quebec?

I will look for answers to these questions as time passes, and perhaps they are even addressed within their manifesto. I will continue to follow the progression of this movement, and let them know that a native son of Vermont, who was born on town meeting day, is rooting for their success.