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Rant

Too much G

In 1992, I voted for Bill Clinton. Shortly after that, I was disappointed by almost everything that he did. At the time, I confused Democratic for Liberal, and Bill was such a good centrist. He moved the entire Democratic Party towards the muddled center. I switched parties, and voted down the Liberal line every election until they took my party away. (New York State no longer has a Liberal Party on the ballot.) So, I voted for Nader in 1996–and for “Grandpa” Al Lewis for Governor–and erroneously did the same in 2000. Well, I didn’t vote for Grandpa again, since he wasn’t on the ballot. Anyway, what Bill did to really annoy me was throw his weight behind an FBI initiative called the “Clipper chip.” This was supposed to allow the FBI to eavesdrop on any cell phone communication with minimal hassle. We were assured that they would only do so after receiving a court order. The reason for this chip was to make it easy to break the encryption on cell phone transmissions, because even if the Feds could easily get the court order, it didn’t mean that they could understand what they were listening to. But this was a bad idea on several levels. The first was the method of the “key,” by which the Fed would be able to tap the phone. The key was a long series of bits that would open up the phone’s encryption, but the government wasn’t about to tell anyone how long (it turned out to be 80-bits), which is important, because shorter bit-lengths are easier to crack. In other words, no one knew how secure a phone conversation would be, because some high-school kid could have broken into your Clipper chip. Or perhaps a business rival. Or a foreign agent. Another problem, which proved to be the death knell for the ol’ Clipper chip, was that it would be required by law on every phone sold in America (or made by American companies), where the law was applicable. Of course, criminals and nefarious types could just get their phone in some other country, where the cell phones wouldn’t be hobbled by the chip, thus defeating the very “purpose” of the chip. It was bad policy, and was abandoned in 1996, but the damage, in my mind at least, to the Clinton legacy was forever soldiered onto the circuit board of history. Or something. Bill Clinton was bad for personal privacy. And you know what? Privacy wonks called him on it. Clinton dismantled Welfare. And Welfare advocates called him on it. Clinton supported NAFTA (a policy signed into law under Bush Sr). And labor unions called him on it. Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell? Astoundingly bad policy. No Liberal would ever support that. Michael Moore called Bill Clinton the greatest Republican president we’ve ever had. And Moore was right. So, it confuses me that so-called Conservatives have such a tough time calling Bush Jr on his cavalier disregard for Conservative principles. He’s as conservative as Clinton was liberal. What’s more, where one could make a good case that Clinton tacked to the right (to his success, I admit), economically and socially, Bush, rather than tacking towards the left or the right, is actually sinking the sailboat all together. Bush is totally off the charts on principles, ethics, and morals. But so few Republicans, Conservatives, or, damn them, Democrats dare to speak up. It’s inconceivable! But maybe I’m not using that word right. Then we have Drudge. The man who tried to take down the Clinton Administration, does his best to prop up the decaying hulk of the Dubya Junta, by, of course, blaming Clinton. Doesn’t hurt to keep your eyes shut that tightly? Can you breathe with your head buried so deeply? Wake up! Wake up! There is more danger to our nation wrapped in our flag than the pathetic plans of men who dream of martyrdom.

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