Friday, December 16, 2005

The Intrepid Russ Feingold

The Bush Era is about the exploitation of fear. Both the body politic and our citizenry are currently regulated by fear, putting our own liberty in far greater jeopardy than our enemies have. When historians review the Bush Era, they will judge the leaders of our time with a harsh lens. I suspect historians will be especially critical of cowardly and unprincipled politicians such as the feckless Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, both advocates for making the most egregious elements of the obscenely named “Patriot Act” permanent. One can understand why the otherwise judicious President John Adams imposed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 . At that time, enemies surrounded us on our own soil and the republic was young.

It is disappointing that our standards have not improved in 207 years – particularly when one considers the lessons learned from the McCarthy Era and Watergate. Indeed, just when I don’t think my disgust for President Bush and his cabal of cynical fear mongers can go any higher, it is today learned that he sanctioned the grotesque rape of our privacy and allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States without the court-approved warrants typically required for domestic surveillance. To his credit, Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter has called for hearings early next year about the matter.

Lately, other politicians have also demonstrated resoluteness – including Republican Senators John Sununu of New Hampshire and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. However, only one politician had the foresight and judicious courage to vote against the Patriot Act four years ago – Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Not even the late progressive champion, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota could summon the courage to oppose the Patriot Act in the aftermath of 9/11. Feingold did and his warnings about granting the government too much power for a false sense of security were prescient.

Senator Feingold is a rare Democrat because he’s a progressive with authenticity and the courage of his convictions. This is not a Senator who requires a focus group or highly paid consultant to inform him what he should believe about Terry Shiavo, war, or who belongs on the Supreme Court. He certainly would never pander the way Hillary Clinton recently has regarding flag burning. To his credit, Senator Feingold also demonstrated backbone by approving new Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Unlike Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, NARAL and other pro-choice special interest groups did not bully Feingold – even though he is a likely contender for the Democratic nomination for President. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee he asked Judge Roberts tough questions and concluded he possessed the right qualifications and temperament to sit on the Supreme Court. I think he made the right call.

It was Senator Feingold who first suggested setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq back in November. Many Democrats rushed to distance themselves from Feingold after his courageous proposal for a flexible withdrawal date of December 31, 2006. Many of those same Democrats are today praising Congressman John Murtha’s position of redeployment after six months. As readers of the Intrepid Liberal Journal already know, I am a supporter of Murtha’s proposal. However, it was Senator Feingold who got the ball rolling. A U.S. Senator in the heartland without a military pedigree is far different than a liberal member from a safe district in the House of Representatives or one with an impeccable military pedigree such as Congressman Murtha. It took far more political courage for Russ Feingold to go against the grain and President Bush’s stifling “don’t cut and run must stay the course” rhetoric.

Finally, Senator Feingold has been a steadfast proponent of reforming the campaign finance system as a co-sponsor of the famous McCain/Feingold legislation. His career illustrates that his convictions are not for sale. I don’t agree with every position Senator Feingold has taken over the years. For example I think he made the wrong call in 1999 when he opposed President Bill Clinton’s military intervention in Kosovo. Nevertheless, this country could do far worse than electing him President in 2008.


VT Poet said...

I'm also impressed by Feingold. Funny that you should mention Hillary. There is a canyon between her and Feingold. Her only principles seem to be self-preservation and re-election. I hope she gets her rear-end handed to her this coming election.

Where are the Scardycrats? Bush has apparently broken the law if Nancy Pelosi [sic?] is to be believed. She states that the White House never explicitly described how they were utilizing the NSA. "Oh, we didn't tell you it was on Americans inside America? We didn't? Golly, I thought we did." If so, then Bush has broken the law. Period.

So. Where are the Scardycrats?

If Bush gets out of this then the man *deserves* to be President. I take my hat off to him. Any man who can lie so consistently and unapologetically, claim to be God's chosen (seriously), take a Nation into an elective war, break constitutional law and *then* have the brass body parts to accuse the press of endangering the country for exposing *HIS* malfeasance!?!

God Damn.

This man has a vision. His vision may not possess a shred of ethics, principles, shame, or scruples of any kind, but by God the man has a vision and will stick your thumb up your nethers if you don't like it.

Throw the scardycrats in the trash. Bush is one of the only men with guts in the entire DC.

Oh yeah... that guy... what's his name? Feinsilver? Sinegold? Goldfine? Wait... oh yeah... Feingold.

Did you say he was in the House or Senate?

Semper Fi said...

It seems to me that Feingold is just another Democrat that hates President Bush. In a time of war we need to stand behind our Commander In Chief. I don’t see Feingold voting against the Patriot Act as being courageous, I just see him as making the war on terror tougher.

If the President says that we need to eavesdrop on people who are helping the terrorists in the US why would anyone be against that?

I just think you liberals are crazy, even if you are intrepid.

* Semper Fi *

Rob said...

Semper Fi -

Respectfully sir, we are a government of laws and not men. I seem to recall conservatives raged against President Clinton over that concept.

If President Bush required domestic surveillance the law requires that he follow the VISOR protocol. It is simply not sufficient for President Bush to say, "this is what I need to do to protect you. Trust my integrity that I'll will do it judiciously."

He's suppossed to get a warrant issued from the courts. That is the law. Furthermore, we need a check to make certain that the RIGHT citizens are being targeted and that Bush is not simply being arbitrary. That is why we have a separation of powers.

In recent days for example we've learned that the Pentagon was spying on Quakers in Florida! That does not strengthen our security. If anything, it UNDERMINES our security because resources are not being allocated effciently.

President Bush could have easily obtained such warrants in the aftermath of 9/11. Most, including liberals such as myself would have understood. Furthermore, the civil liberties of citizens overall would have at least been given consideration by another branch of government.

I regret to say that conservatives want to strictly interpret the constitution until they find it inconvenient. It is not stupid to point that out. It is simply the truth. What is about the truth and the "reality based community" that makes conservatives so uncomfortable?


VT Poet said...

According to Wikipedia, traditional liberalism includes the following defintion:

"Liberalism seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on the power of government and religion, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a free market economy that supports private enterprise, and a system of government that is transparent..."

It is one of the reasons I support the NRA. The powers of Government should be strongly scrutinized and checked.
Semper Fi evidently believes everything the Government tells him.

Semper Fi,

The President can eavesdrop on people who are helping terrorists without breaking the law. There is a Fisa provision that allows the President to seek retroactive warrants up to 72 hours after the fact. Bush's claim for speed is simply a lie. The secret court that FISA created can be accessed at any time of the day, exists solely for this purpose, and *rarely* turns down a request (only 8 times out of 15,000 requests).

If the founding fathers decided we needed a constitution and the rule of law, well... Gee, Semper Fi, why would anybody be against that?