We do not NEED legal black hole prison camps. We do not NEED torture or extraordinary rendition. We do not NEED massive warrantless searches and seizures of telephone or banking records. As far as I can see, we do not need any of the great book of civil-liberty eroding measures passed under the name "PATRIOT Act". I don't think any one can point to a single terrorist or act of terror halted by these actions or enactions. The seven terrorist-wannabees that were just apprehended were caught the old-fashioned way--by an informant. All these things are just what people in power think they want in order to stay there.
Regarding the Senate's one-vote turndown of the so-called "flag descration amendment'. Another good thing: this is a pure wedge issue, and a pernicious one at that. The flag may be the symbol of our democratic republic, but the Constitution is the substance. To dilute the substance to protect the symbol makes no sense. Furthermore, to suggest that such an amendment honors our war dead is simpleminded at best: I do not believe that any American soldier has died "for the flag" since the Civil War, when colors were still carried onto the battlefield as a rallying point. I believe that if you summoned up the ghost of any World War II 'G.I. Joe' and asked if he died for the flag, he'd say, "Hell, no! I died to protect my country, my home, my family, our way of life. There was no flag in the foxhole where I died."
Of course, to knowingly desecrate the flag is an offensive act, intentionally so. But you know, America was founded by a lot of ornery people, and it is our right to occasionally offend if we feel it is necessary.