In any case, it appears that the government is now able to (and has been for a while) track who you're calling though, according to Newshour, not the actual contents of your calls. Still, “Holy slippery slope to a scary distopian future Batman!” (you have to say it really fast, otherwise it doesn't work).
The irreverent part of me wants to suggest that the “They're going to take all our guns,” conspiracy theories from the right are in and of themselves a conspiracy to distract us from this actual bid to compromise our liberty (and it's working). The regular parts of me are all just scared.
There's a cool article on NPR right now discussing the correlations between this (not so new) legislation and both Orwell's 1984 and the writings of Franz Kafka. I haven't read any of the source material but I have read plenty of articles comparing every damn thing to Orwell's 1984. I have to say that the correlations pointed out in the article are quite startling. There's much less scare mongering and many more actual lines of similarity. It makes me wonder where this country is headed and if that's a place any of us want to go.
In any case, this is one of those subjects that I (currently) lack the knowledge or experience to judge and I'm off to read Orwell's 1984 and Kafka's Great Wall of China (which must have an English translation somewhere I'd have to think). While I'm at it I'd probably better read the actual text of the Patriot Act pertaining to my questions and maybe even the whole of the president's speech. Good thing it's summer vacation.