At the end of last week, after I wrote about the Democratic Congress’ spineless cave-in on the White House’s desired FISA legislation, our good friend Eric Earling made a flailing attempt at a point here:
Mark Halperin makes this observation about the FISA compromise today, supported by Barack Obama and 105 House Democrats (including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer):
Watch to see how liberal bloggers and the commentariat react.
Locally, Lee, aka Sound Politics commenter “thehim,” is not pleased at all.
Washington Democrats Brian Baird, Norm Dicks, and Adam Smith joined Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Dave Reichert in voting for the measure.
More proof the netroots does not represent the mainstream of American politics on the issues of the day.
Now someone who isn’t a complete idiot could probably figure out simply by looking at Congress’ approval ratings to know that what Congress is doing is not a good barometer of public opinion. And as I’ve been reading through Great American Hypocrites, the latest book from Glenn Greenwald, the process by which Eric ended up in this bubbling stew of idiocy is well documented.
When it comes to beliefs in limited government, Republicans in this country went from being true believers of constraining executive power (when Clinton was in the White House) to being unapologetic big government advocates now that Bush is there and we’re “fightin’ the terra’ists.” As Greenwald explains:
Being an American who believed in the core political principles of the country always meant adhering to these standards and embracing these values. Today’s Republican Party, acting contrary to its election rhetoric of conservatism and limited government power, has repudiated, trampled upon, and made a mockery of the core principles defining our country.
Today in the right-wing world, the very ideas that they spent the last several decades loudly touting and that long defined America have become the hallmarks of leftist radicalism. And the media has dutifully ingested this new framework. Thus, our Beltway establishment first looked the other way, then acted to protect the President of the United States once it was revealed that he was spying on the communications of American citizens in violation of the leftist doctrine called “law.”
One could also look at the statements by conservatives Bob Barr and Ron Paul to understand that opposition to the FISA bill is not coming solely from “liberal bloggers,” but also from principled conservatives as well. This issue isn’t about left vs. right here. It’s about keeping the Executive branch of the government in check, something that should be important regardless of who’s in the White House, or regardless of whether you have a more liberal or conservative view.
Earlier this week, I was reminded of why this matters as I took a trip down to Covington to see my in-laws. As I’ve mentioned before, my father-in-law is a staunch Republican, even to the extent that he has serious doubts about McCain’s Republican credentials. He’s retired now and spends his days working on his long-time hobby: building engines and exploring alternative energy solutions for homes and vehicles. His latest tangent is with Kei Class Japanese trucks.
As Dana and I pulled into the driveway, he was standing next to one of the trucks. I could tell he was excited to give me a demo. The vehicle looked like a Smart Car turned into a pickup truck with the steering wheel on the right side. He had a second one in his workshop and we hopped in for a quick drive around the block. As we took off down the street, I said to him, “Is what we’re doing legal?”
He replied, “No, do you want to ask me if a care?”
I laughed and said, “No, I already know the answer to that.”
He and I have obviously had quite a few discussions on politics over the years, so he knowingly said, “I think you and I have some overlap in our thinking on this.”
Kei class trucks are in legal limbo in this country (as you can see from this thread). They are not up to federal emission standards and therefore there’s a question as to whether or not it’s legal to drive them on the roads – even if your particular state registers it and gives you a plate. These vehicles get fantastic gas mileage for a pickup truck (~45-50 mpg), so their popularity is starting to take off. The attitudes towards the federal government expressed in that thread by those in Mississippi and Tennessee over a law that was limiting their freedom isn’t much different that the attitudes expressed in California and Washington over medical marijuana laws. And as you might expect, I find the federal laws to be unjustified in both cases.
Whenever the topic of FISA comes up, Bush supporters blindly cheer on the ability for the President to monitor our communications without warrants, yet few of them seem to apply this logic to when a Democratic Administration is in power. When the reality of an Obama Administration sets in, and their wild caricatures of what he’ll do take shape in their minds, the idea of giving him the power to spy on people without oversight in the name of national security takes on a different light – especially considering that it’s not hard to equate either gun control or combating global warming with national security.* As an Obama supporter, I’m relatively confident that he’s not the kind of leader who would abuse that power, but that’s beside the point. No President should have these kinds of powers. With no oversight, they’ll inevitably be abused for political purposes. This is why we have things like the 4th Amendment in the first place.
When I brought this up in the comment thread to the Sound Politics post, commenter Russell Garrard summed it up quite well:
When an Obama says that he wants to register all semi-auto guns just in case any terrorists are stockpiling them, we right-wingers will scream like stuck pigs. But nobody will take us seriously**, because we’ve already made the argument that “if you’re not a terrorist, you’ve got nothing to worry about.”
Is it asking too much for the main blogger at Seattle’s most popular Republican blog to grasp this fact? Apparently so.
* For the record, I agree with the court’s decision today that D.C.’s gun ban is unconstitutional.
** Well, Mark Halperin might.
UPDATE: Washblog diarist Jeffuppy breaks down the bullshit from the three Democratic Congressman from Washington – Baird, Dicks, and Smith – who voted for the FISA bill. All three of them are either blatantly lying about the bill or they never read it.
UPDATE 2: McJoan posts more information and provides a good roundup of links.