While flipping through the channels one Saturday night, I stumbled upon my old nemesis: Bill Maher. Now I know the idea of Maher being a douche bag is a tough concept to handle, but go with me here. I’ve always wondered how this lunatic managed to convince HBO his verbal diarrhea is worth airtime. Desperate for something to watch, I decided I would tolerate his latest garbage, and with record speed he managed to piss me off. Maher’s latest rant involved New York’s former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s recent resignation from office over an alleged prostitution deal. His gripe was not with his speedy withdrawal from politics, but rather, the circumstances under which the Democrat’s spotless reputation was tarnished.
Spitzer has fallen victim to the Democrats’ favorite piece of legislation to come from the Bush administration: the Patriot Act. In order to detect terrorist activity within the United States, the Patriot Act has a provision allowing the Treasury Dept. to demand more information from banks when suspiciously large transactions are made. These new guidelines are even stricter than the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act, which ultimately achieves the same goal. The BSA was specifically created to target money laundering schemes, while the Patriot Act has expanded this power to detect terrorists within the United States. After Spitzer began transferring large sums of money from his account, banks became suspicious of the former governor’s spending habits, suspecting money laundering or campaign bribes. However, the federal government instead learned the money was being sent to a high-priced prostitution service.
So the next logical step would be to leak the information to the public, right? Maher seems to think it’s unfair for the government to use laws designed for terrorism to bust up services providing pricey good-time girls. Well sir, you are an idiot. If you think that law is always used the way it was intended, you clearly don’t know anything about public policy. And before you start whining about how the Patriot Act is used unjustly, the law did exactly what it was meant to do, though with the added bonus of successfully bringing down a corrupt government official. New York’s government is better off without Spitzer.
I’m curious what this late-night nut-bar thinks the government should have done once they found out old Eliot was getting some on the side. I can imagine Maher saying we should let it go, and that the governor isn’t harming anyone or that it’s none of our business. Once you’re sworn into public office, your personal business becomes the business of the American people. Maybe Spitzer should have been a little more careful with his personal finances, but to blame the Patriot Act for exposing him is foolish. Nobody likes to see civil liberties on the chopping block, myself included. But with al-Qaeda itching to annihilate every American, I’m willing to accept some adjustments. Spitzer should too, but I guess he didn’t realize he could be a target for investigation.
We live in a new time, with new threats. We all want to be secured against terrorism, and the only real way to do that is to allow the government to extend its ability to monitor all people in our nation. After 9/11, President Bush had to do something big to ensure our nation’s safety, and what we got was the Patriot Act. If someone has a better suggestion of how to keep track of pissed-off terrorists in a nation of 300 million people, I’m sure Congress would love to hear it.
I try to take Maher’s advice with a grain of salt. The man honestly believes our nation should legalize ALL drugs and prostitution, and he even voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. Clearly he doesn’t have the brains to make sound political judgments, but to hear him wrongfully slander a piece of legislation crucial for securing our nation irks me to no end. What’s more, laws dating back to the 1970s would have busted Spitzer just the same. So while the Patriot Act may have tightened restrictions just enough to allow the government to nail Spitzer, ultimately the governor was doomed. An even more important lesson, though, is to go for “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” or “Metalocalypse” when looking for more intelligent late-night entertainment.