Friday, March 17, 2006

Do All Wisconsin Senators Have No Shame?

E. J. Dione has a piece today lamenting that Senate Democrats a running from Sen Russ Feingold's call for a censure of President Bush for the NSA secret wiretap program. As usual, he completely misreads the issue, the electorate, and the facts on the ground.

First, I have to say that rarely is there a columnist who gets it so consistently wrong as Mr. Dione. I mean every single time. He even somehow avoids getting things right on accident, as even a broken clock accomplishes twice a day.

In this case, he thinks that Feingold's "bold leadership" will energize the base around an issue that he mistakenly thinks most Americans disagree with the president on. He repeats the lame canard about Democrats needing to not cede the issue of national security to the Republicans, and that the GOP is somehow hyping up the terror threat to stay in power, because they have a better relationship with their base. None of it really makes any sense, unless you get your entire sense of the electorate from the Daily Kos.

If Russ Feingold is the Democratic nominee in 2008, the loss for the Dems will be catastrophic - losses Barry Goldwater and Walter Mondale would wince at. The GOP could run Homer Simpson and still be assured 60% of the vote. The reason is because we live in a fairly conservative country, and Mr. Feingold is making the cardinal error of being honest about the liberal agenda. That, and the left won't have Bush the Boogy Man to rally against any more.

Bush's number are down not because people are tired of the conservative agenda and are yearning for some liberal ideas (even if they had them). They're down because of increasing frustration that Bush isn't conservative ENOUGH on issues ranging from immigration, spending, the port deal, etc. Does anyone really believe the Democrats will spend less, get tougher on the border, or will be more aggressive when killing terrorists? That's why when election time comes, and people have to make a choice instead of just complain, the Dems will continue to lose.

Sen. Feingold claims that it's not about who's tough on security, but about breaking the law. But does anyone believe it? Was he at the forefront of the impeachment movement when President Clinton committed perjury in federal court, or call for his censure when he used warrantless wiretapping far more widely and less narrowly focused than Bush, for the sole purpose of "formulating policy"? Is he proposing amendments to the woefully inadequate 1978 surveillance law that would meet today's technologies, today's threats, and today's need for speed? Is he being honest about what the "domestic" wiretapping is - calls to or from foreign nations known to sponsor terrorism, made to or from people known to have terror ties? Of course not.

Some Democrats are starting to get a little religion, and realize that as cathartic as the Russ Feingolds of the world might be to the rabid Bush Hating left, his agenda is a recipe for disaster electorally. E. J. Dione doesn't understand that, and probably never will. And as long as the party base insists on following such terrible advice, they will continue to lose. This accomplishes nothing except to continue allowing the GOP free rein to spend too much and ignore critical problems, such as the border. And as I've said many times, that is bad for the country.

And of course, all of this doesn't even address the motivation this kind of circus provides to our enemies. "Even his own government is turning on the criminal Bush!" Our enemies most powerful weapon is their propaganda machines, so effective in a world that has never known a free press. Does Senator Feingold really not think these fascists will not be emboldened by this?

So shame on Senator Feingold. And shame on the misguided, such as Mr. Dione, who would harm our nation by rallying to his cause.


noneed4thneed said...

Actually Feingold was one of the few Democrats to vote to hear the Clinton impeachment trial. In the end he voted against impeachment, but he wanted to know more facts on the case.

As for Homer Simpson (who I am pretty would be a Democrat) beating Feingold with 60% of the vote, how do you explain Feingold getting 330,000 more votes in Wisconsin than Kerry did? Kerry won Wisconsin by 12,000 votes, Feingold did a lot better.

Orrin Johnson said...

I was against the push for President Clinton's impeachment. But let's be honest here - the facts of Clinton's perjury were really not in dispute. (The Arkansas bar certainly didn't think so.) If Feingold's agenda really was about "breaking the law," then he would have voted to remove him from office. But his agenda then was to protect his party's president while looking independent and concerned for his more conservative constituents. His agenda today, now that a political party not his own is in the White House, is shortsighted personal political gain, whatever the consequences to the nation, the war effort, national security, or even his party. He could not have made more clear than neither he nor the party base he is appealing to are serious about the threats to our nation, and thus they cannot be trusted with our national security.

I explain his local electoral success the same way you can explain Tom Daschle's longevity in my home state of South Dakota - he's an incumbent who brings home the bacon. That's how it works. (And frankly, for an incumbent, Feingold put up a pretty poor showing even in Wisconsin.) But nationally, he would face the same fate as another far-left midwestern senator did in 1972.

Finally, I have to note that you seem to be unfamiliar with Homer Simpson's stances on gun control, entrepreneurship, Gerald Ford, and commitment to marriage. Although one can't forget his rift with H. W. Bush...

SirWhoopass said...

I think Homer would be, more accurately, a libertarian. He opened the only chapel in Springfield that performed gay weddings. He opposed the Bear Tax. He supports gun ownership rights.

Although he did endorse Sideshow Bob, Mr Burns, and Krusty when they ran for office. All as Republicans.

Cato said...


I was about to disagree with you on one particular point: That Bush's numbers are down because he isn't conservative enough. I was going to say: "No, his numbers are down because he's an (expletive deleted) fascist!"

Then I realized...he's fascist because he is socially liberal and fiscally liberal. The way back towards conservativism would be to be more fiscally conservative. And if he was really a conservative I wouldn't mind so much. Because that's what he said he was. So yeah, I guess you're right. He's not conservative enough.

That doesn't mean we should give him a free pass on anything, especially foregoing warrants. Don't ever bet on the executive branch to not abuse power, Orrin. You'll always lose. And we will too.

Cato said...

That should have been "socially conservative and fiscally liberal" sorry.

Orrin Johnson said...

Fascist? Seriously? Come on - you know better than that. The Taliban were fascists, as was Saddam. Osama is a wanna-be fascist, and where he is successful, fascism will exist. The Saudi, Iranian, Syrian Ba'athist, Cuban, and North Korean governments are actual fascists. If Bush was a fascist, Feingold or his family would mysteriously die in an "accident," Bush would have won in 2004 with 80% of the vote, and he would not step down in 2008. Let's be realistic here, and not minimize real evil in the world by applying hyperbolic language to a policy disagreement.

Every President (including Carter) has used this form of intelligence gathering, most without the checks Bush has ensured exist. He informed the Democrats on Congressional intelligence committees before he began. The number of people targeted are VERY small, and limited to those with known terror connections making international calls. The program must be renewed every few months. Where speed is not a crucial factor, warrants are still sought. (A warrant application for a FISA court is not a one page form - it is hundreds of pages long.) The Patriot act was improved and passed overwhelmingly, because most of our elected leaders realize that there are very, very real threats to our nation, threats which they have a responsiblity to address and attempt to prevent.

I accept that this is a small intrusion on my freedom. But the facts simply don't support a "slippery slope" argument in this case, especially in light of their use throughout recent American history.

I would consider it a far greater violation of my freedom by the government if I am killed by a dirty bomb or infected with a bio-weapon that could have been stopped if only the FBI would have listened to a cell phone call made to Pakistan or the Sudan. I consider terrorism far more of a "nuisance" than the feds bugging my phone tomorrow if they find out today that I'm calling some "business associates" in North Korea. I'm not blind to the threat of our own government's overreach, but we must not be blind to the outside Islamo-Fascist threat, either. I think most Americans share that sentiment, which is why the wiretap issue is such a political loser for the Dems.

As for Feingold, you should be more outraged that anyone. The Republicans have tended left because the Democrats, led in part by the good Senator from the Land of Cheese, have gone off the deep end of the left side of the pool. No one takes them seriously on matters of national security, except for their foam-at-the-mouth base, and rightfully so. Clinton, for all his faults, pushed the center of political gravity in this country back to the right because the GOP had to move further that way to distinguish themselves. Bush has done exactly the opposite, at least domestically, and that's a bad thing. And so long as Feingold is seen as the mainstream of his party (he sees himself as a moderate because he's "only" calling for censure), the politicians will be more and more irresponsible with money, warrants, and big government in general, which I know is what you are ultimately opposed to.

Ultimately, I agree with you in that I wish Bush was more fiscally conservative and more socially libertarian. Feingold's stunt makes it harder to get Bush or the Republicans to tend that way, which means conservatives and libertarians lose. It also means that the next time someone makes a more legitimate stink about a less legitimate wiretapping program, people won't take it seriously, and then we ACTUALLY start losing our freedom.

PubliusRex said...

Cato et al. -

Bush is not a fascist. Comparing him to the likes of Mussolini, Hitler and Franco is laughable. John Kerry is close to being a fascist than George Bush, what with his brand of socialism and advocacy of "progress" including cloning and euthanizing brain damaged people. Fascism is/was an anti-conservative and fiercely anti Christian force. It was all about progress and new world orders.

Bush is a fiscal liberal (too liberal) who is conservative enough and not so libertarian enough to think that government has not run amok by stopping mothers from killing their babies.

Moreover, Fascists don't offer guest worker programs and amnesty. [I though Bush was too much of a unilateralist?!?!]

And no, the Patriot Act and listening to calls coming in from Al Qaeda from overseas is =/= fascism or communism. It's just not. Please tell me that's not where you're going.

PubliusRex said...

...and the whole balance of the seperation of powers requires each branch to push the limits of their powers. Or at least that's what the Federalist Papers say. Something about ambition counteracting ambition.

Not that listening to Al Qaeda calling the United States takes executive power anywhere it hasn't been. Afterall, Lincoln suspended Habeas, Clinton did domestic spying, Roosevelt interned Japanese and Wilson drafted men and sent them to die in France.

The executive has been strong for a long time - Bush didn't invent that. For that matter, all three branches are as potent as ever (see Roe v. Wade and Federal Hate Crime Legislation).

The real problem is the death of Federalism, not seperation of powers. That has nothing to do with Bush.

P. Rex.

Cato said...

1. Publius: I hope we all agree that the Japanese Internment was "too far".

2. Orrin: Ok, not fascist. What do you call someone who is fiscally liberal and socially conservative?

PubliusRex said...

Cato -

So Roosevelt was a fascist?

Is a draft fascist?

Orrin Johnson said...

I call such a person a Republican, right now, as distinguished from a conservative.

Bush is MORE fiscally liberal than I would like, but it's inaccurate to call him a flat out "fiscal liberal." At least he understands that cutting taxes = economic growth and increased revenue. That's more fiscal conservatism than any president since Ronald Reagan. His father raised taxes, and Clinton's "era of big government is over" cuts were almost all military.

And I would argue that Republicans right now are not significantly more "socially conservative" than Dems over all, abortion excepted. Who voted for the smoking ban? Who wants hate crime legislation? Who pushes for more business and labor regulation of the type that has crippled Europe? Who is pushing for more coercive social spending to induce certain behaviors? Which party's SCOTUS appointees universally joined the Kelo opinion? Which party's president passed the federal Defense of Marriage Act? We musn't forget that it was Al Gore and his wife who spearheaded the attempt to censor explicit lyrics in albums, and that it was Russ Feingold himself who co-sponsored the freedom-of-speech attack known as "campaign finance reform."

High taxes and pervasive "benign" regulation are the single biggest threats to our individual freedom, socially, economically, EVERYTHING. And as bad as the Republicans have been in those areas, the Democrats have been and explicitly promise to be far, far worse. Kerry promised MORE regulation and MORE taxes, not less. He also vowed to appoint more Justices who would expand the Commerce Clause (no medical marijuana) and restrict property rights (eminent domain abuse would have been rampant).

As for the Japanese internment, had we had more sophisticated tools (such as the Patriot Act or Bush's wiretap program) that allowed us to target individual people who were security threats (and they were numerous in early 1942), perhaps the government wouldn't have felt it necessary to cast such a wide and unjust net. Ironically, if Feingold were successfull in limiting our intelligence tools, muslims/arabs in this country would be at greater risk of Korematsu redux than they are now.

PubliusRex said...

Fascists are neither socially nor fiscally conservative. Nor does the use of that term make any sense in discussing politicians operating in an American style democracy.

Using them is silly demogoguery.