The ACLU provides a contact tool promoting PATRIOT Act reform. Remember that January 18 Washington Post report finding that the FBI had illegally collected over 2,000 U.S. phone records over four years in large part by invoking (all together now) terrorism emergencies that did not exist? That ought to make folks more wary of giving the federal government all that extra power. And no, the fact that a Democrat is President doesn't mean we should trust the federal government more -- in fact, Mr. Obama has generally shown little appetite for abrogating the massive powers Congress ceded to Mr. Bush. It sure seems like he didn't even try that hard to close Guantanamo, doesn't it? So, yes, this is one of those times when you need to treat your government as if it were a maniac in need of restraints.
Meanwhile, Frank Luntz is back, advising Republicans on how to kill financial reform legislation: basically, call it a bailout, because bailout is a bad word, never mind that the bill that passed the House in December contains no $700 billion welfare handouts to financial corporations. I'd like to think Mr. Luntz's latest effort will fail, that folks will have trouble understanding how a regulatory crackdown on the financial sector could possibly constitute a bailout for said sector, but Mr. Luntz has gotten away with worse (the "death tax"!), and, sadly, it may not even come to that: Senator Dodd doesn't seem to think he can get meaningful reform done anyway, which I understand to mean that he's looking past the end of his Senate term and to his next job lobbying for the banks. That means you and you and you and you and I need to speak up. CREDO provides one petition, and USPIRG provides another.
Finally, the good citizens of Pennsylvania suffer yet another offense to their intelligence, as state Sen. John Eichelberger has introduced SB 707, which would amend the state constitution so that "only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid and recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth." You may remember Mr. Eichelberger as the fellow who claimed a fairly unprecedented amount of power over human evolution not too long ago by saying of gays, "we're allowing them to exist." Sigh. Now right-wingers rush to amend state constitutions these days because they worry that "activist judges" will overturn legislative acts banning gays from marrying. Why don't they worry about activist judges, oh, I don't know, calling corporations people? It must not hit home for them, though one day it will, and they'll probably all be in debtor's prisons by then. SB 707 has a total of 16 sponsors, out of a mere 50 state Senators in Pennsylvania, so we'll need to apply some people power to this monstrosity. Keystone Progress helps you do that.