Might As Well Give Him Permission, Because He'll Do What He Wants Anyway

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It looks like the PATRIOT Act will be extended as is for six months while its critics push for more restrictions on the government's surveillance powers. But as one of those critics, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), remarked the other day, "I don't know why the president is concerned about the PATRIOT Act, when he apparently believes that he can just do all this stuff by himself anyway."

NEXT: The NSA's Phone Tree

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  1. “I don’t know why the president is concerned about the PATRIOT Act, when he apparently believes that he can just do all this stuff by himself anyway.”

    It’s just like what they did with Padilla. When one set of legal arguments gets shot down, use an entirely different set. That the two may contradict each other is irrelevant to the practical use of having a Plan B.

  2. Well sure the President has the power to fight terror. But he’s just like one guy you know (even though he’s like this really suuuuper guy ;D What happens when Al Qaeda runs a candidate for the Senate, and the incumbent can’t get ahold of his challenger’s brother-in-law’s financial records? What then huh? I ask you, What Then!?

  3. Wisconsin can be proud. No death penalty, and a senator like Feingold.

    A civilised state.

  4. All I can think is that if all this stuff is officially written into law, Bush & Co. don’t even have to bother doing an end-run, or defending themselves when it comes to light.

  5. A civilised state.

    If you don’t mind sky-high taxes, an intrusive nanny-state, a crooked thug of a governor, and a hostile legal environment for gun ownership.

    Until Feingold repudiates his anti-freedom of expression laws, he is not on my good list no matter what else he does.

  6. I am not crazy about Russ’s campaign finance b.s., but any guy who had the balls to vote against the USA RA RA FUCK YEAH PATRIOT WE’RE COMING FOR YOU ACT the first time around is alright in my book. We all wish guys like Feingold and McCain would draw the civil liberties line a little further on the “liberty” side, at least they draw a line at all. Nowadays guys like that are getting hard to come by.

  7. Or “farther” on the liberty side? I am forever screwing that up.

  8. Again, I’ll say that while the Bush administration isn’t the first to use nefarious methods, he seems to have this unusual need to make sure all the bad things he does are technically legal. Granted, this could be just to cover his own ass, but I think it strikes deeper than that.

  9. I think it could be either here, Jeff. Farther usually pertains to physical distance while further has to do with degree. I guess technically it should be further, but since we’re using a line metaphor I don’t think farther is necessarily wrong.

  10. Way to focus on the big stuff, RC.

  11. Yeah, King George is out of hand. He harbors delusions of grandeur. In this republic we have impeachment proceeding to bring “leaders” so afflicted back to reality.

    Wisconsin can be proud… a senator like Feingold.

    He’s the best Dem on the war-wants pull out now- great on Patriot. But lets not get carried away. He’s a very big spender as he votes consistently for big government. Nothing to be proud of about this:

  12. Oops I didn’t put the link in. Sorry. Let’s try it again.

    Feingold is a very big spender:

    http://www.ntu.org/main/components/ratescongress/details_all_years.php3?senate_id=135

  13. Russ Feingold:
    Even if he cured cancer… and AIDS next week, he would still owe two presents.

  14. Wisconsin …
    A civilised state.

    Except on Sundays during Packer games or during deer season when apparently you need combat training to stay alive.

    http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2004/11/23_hemphills_hunterreact/

  15. Seriously though, somebody teach Feingold some basic econ (no small task), and I’d vote for the guy.

  16. funny title

  17. Joe, I don’t think it’s overreacting to chastise and not forgive a guy who helped eviscerate the First Amendment. Bush may be violating the Fourth, but Feingold rode to popularity on gagging Speech. It’s pretty disgusting. At the same time, we should take what we can get.

  18. Until Feingold repudiates his anti-freedom of expression laws, he is not on my good list no matter what else he does.

    If nothing other than absoloute purity is ever going to be enough, why exactly should any politician ever care about supporting libertarian values?

  19. I live in Madison WI. Let me tell you, Russ is a progressive Democrat and his voting record is consistent with progressive philosophy. The local political rag here (www.progressive.org) loves this guy. He has his draw backs to be sure. I would agree that he spends too much money on questionable things and concepts.

    So let me ask the die hard Libertarians here. When the hell is the conservative movement going to put forth actual spend thrift conservatives that are not obsessed with national “defense” (As if we have “defended” ourselves very much since WWII)? If a lot of conservatives did not perceive the environment solely as a commodity to be bought and sold, I bet a killer centrist collation could be formed in this country that revolved around tolerance, free thought and expression, liberal trade, and a sensible mixture of private property interconnected by public right of ways.

  20. Way to focus on the big stuff, RC.

    joe, I regard things like government confiscation of wealth, government micromanagement of increasing swathes of our lives, government control of expression, and government control of the means of self defense (all central planks of Russ Feingold’s political philosophy) to be pretty big stuff.

    Yeah, its great that he voted against the Patriot Act, although I would note that being against torture takes about as much political courage as being in favor of fuzzy kittens, but this man, on balance, is no friend of liberty.

  21. Randian,

    “eviscerate the First Amendment?”

    Could you please name for somebody who wasn’t allowed to express himself during the last presidential election because of Russ Feingold? An idea, argument, or position that wasn’t allowed to be expressed? A person who was materially harmed for expressing himself in contradiction of McCain Feingold?

    I’m not saying you have to like this law. But let’s not get all shrieking hysterical because the pathways to bribe politicians have gotten slightly narrower.

    “Violate the Fourth” meand federal spooks are tapping the phones and reading the emails of Americans without warrants. “Eviscerating the First” means, what? That there are some legal hoops to jump through? That you can’t write as big a check as you’d like to a politician?

    A little perspective, please.

  22. I am not sure a new law is necessary. A well-timed fire in the Reichstag, um, I mean Congress, might help Bush get past all these pesky Constitutional “literalists.”

    On the plus side, I was very glad to see Bush take responsibility for his decisions with regard to Iraq and the war on terror. But I was also a bit chagrined: all this time I had been blaming the poet laureate.

  23. “Eviscerate the First” I agree is a little hysterical, but the McCain-Feingold does a little more than just limit how big a check you can write to a pol…it keeps the pols already in, in.

    That’s a lot bigger than just limiting contributions. Does the wording say exactly: “This law will allow incumbants to maintain their posts more easily…”? No, of course not, but that is one of the effects.

    I agree that Mr Feingold has really surprised me with how eloquently he’s been railing against PATRIOT…but that doesn’t mean I think he’s really got me in mind…

  24. >He’s a very big spender as he votes consistently for big government.<<br />
    No, he’s not. Russ Feingold is one of the most consistent Senators, Democrat or Republican, in voting against big spending bills. He is very much a deficit hawk.

  25. Could you please name for somebody who wasn’t allowed to express himself during the last presidential election because of Russ Feingold?

    Sure, I wasn’t able to express myself during the last presidential election. I would have liked to have sponsored TV commercials for Badnarik but the threat of federal prosecution under BCRA kept me silent.

  26. I posted this in a thread from yesterday, but it makes more sense here:

    I heard Bush give a speech saying that it was “unconscionable” that someone leaked the fact that Bush authorised secret spying of US citizens, and that the knowledge of that fact was helping the terrorists win.

    And he said it with that annoying fucking smirk on his face almost the whole time.

    I hate that man…but I would never do anything to harm him, Mr Secret Service agent.

  27. mccain-feingold will do more long term damage than the patriot act does, i betcha.

  28. >http://www.ntu.org/main/components/ratescongress/details_all_years.php3?senate_id=135<<br />
    Didn’t see your comment with the link at first. And it has nothing at all to do with your claim that Russ is a ‘big spender.’ The scorecard looks at tax votes and spending votes with an emphasis on tax votes. It’s ridiculous to include votes on tax cuts at a time of high deficits.

  29. A little perspective, please.

    Abb-so-fucking-lutely you pinko prick. Let’s get a little perspective.

    The president is listening in on phone calls without a warrant. But I assume every phone call I make is being listened to by someone. Unless you’re using voice scramblers and encryption on your communication you’re deluding yourself if you think it’s private. So now the president and his goons know what a dick I think he is, and maybe even the name of that goat and where I bought the Vaseline. Please

    On the other hand BCRA is an ACTUAL ENFRINGEMENT OF MY FUCKING FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS ASSHOLE.

  30. What RC said. Which was:

    I regard things like government confiscation of wealth, government micromanagement of increasing swathes of our lives, government control of expression, and government control of the means of self defense to be pretty big stuff.

  31. Oh, I see. You’re a loony, Warren.

    Go watch “Enemy of the State” a few hundred more times, drink a beer, and chill out.

  32. What about Warren’s comments @2:09pm today, joe?

    Or are you just going to focus on his “loony” statements and not take a bite of a statement with real substance, as usual?

    Maybe it’s because you wear dentures? I didn’t think you were that old. 😉

  33. So this argument is about which is worse, violating the first or the fourth amendment?

    I’ll just say that maybe Feingold deserves both a pat on the back and a slap in the face.

  34. LoganFerree:

    And it has nothing at all to do with your claim that Russ is a ‘big spender.’

    It most certainly does. NTU ratings are primarily issued on the basis of total government spending voted for.

    Russ Feingold is one of the most consistent Senators, Democrat or Republican, in voting against big spending bills.

    That’s ridiculous. The record shows that he’s among the worst in this area.

  35. I’m with Stretch. You shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which amendments you support at the expense of the others. The Bill of Rights is a package deal, not a la carte.

    For that reason I oppose both gun control and the PATRIOT Act. And I don’t buy the “but we’re at war!” crap, either. Leave my privacy alone, assholes. Thank you.

  36. Lowdog, ok.

    Warren, that’s adorable!

    No, seriously, can anyone name…

  37. Below is the part of the speech I heard Bush saying…and he said “shameful” not “unconscionable”. Sorry, but it’s kinda long. Still hate what he has to say, though.

    QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Are you going to order a leaks investigation into the disclosure of the NSA surveillance program? And why did you skip the basic safeguard of asking courts for permission for these intercepts?

    BUSH: Let me start with the first question.

    There’s a process that goes on inside the Justice Department about leaks, and I presume that process is moving forward.

    BUSH: My personal opinion is it was a shameful act, for someone to disclose this very important program in time of war.

    The fact that we’re discussing this program is helping the enemy.

    You’ve got to understand, and I hope the American people understand, there is still an enemy that would like to strike the United States of America, and they’re very dangerous.

    And, you know, the discussion about how we try to find them will enable them to adjust.

    Now, I can understand you asking these questions. And if I were you, I’d be asking me these questions too.

    But it is a shameful act by somebody who has got secrets of the United States government and feels like they need to disclose them publicly.

  38. Christ that’s scary.

  39. “So this argument is about which is worse, violating the first or the fourth amendment?”

    No, the argument is about PERSPECTIVE. M-F is, at worst, a very minor intrusion into anyone’s First Amendment rights. Anyone can still get their message out – they just can’t hide behind phony groups, and they have to be up front about their affiliations.

    The NSA program, on the other hand, actually involves government agents intercepting peoples communications, without a warrant.

    A First Amendment violation of similar degree would be similarly serious. It really has nothing to do with picking a preferred amendment.

  40. LoganFerree:

    The scorecard looks at tax votes and spending votes with an emphasis on tax votes.

    WRONG!

    From the NTU site:

    “In general, a higher score is better because it means a member of Congress voted to spend less money.”

    http://www.ntu.org/main/misc.php?MiscID=13

  41. But joe, even you personally could not make a television commercial against Jeb, or whomever the next Repub nominee is going to be, a certain period of time before the next election. And you don’t see anything wrong with that? And I’m not talking about you giving money to the Dem party and them not being able to run an ad (still wrong), I’m talking about you.

    Again, while I agree that it’s super fucked-up what Bush did (read my quote of his smirking-ass remarks above), the M-F is actually a law now, and will do it’s damage over and over and over again.

    And you don’t see anything wrong with it? You actually believe all it does is increase transparency?

    Hmm…

  42. Lowdog, Warren, ugh,

    Don’t fret; impeach.

  43. No, the argument is about PERSPECTIVE. M-F is, at worst, a very minor intrusion into anyone’s First Amendment rights

    Okay, so Feingold is very strong on the 4th amendment and only slightly weak on the 1st. Yay, Feingold!

    Seriously, though, I understand your point and if I could only get rid of one it would be the PA. That said, M-F sucks in its own right and just because its powers are less sweeping than the PA doesn’t mean we shouldn’t denounce it. Plus, as was mentioned, M-F is already law and will most likely grow in scope over the years. At least there’s doubt about the PA, and it may eventually be dismantled…that is as long as we have courageous protectors of our sacred 4th amendment rights like Russ Feingold.

  44. No, the argument is about PERSPECTIVE. M-F is, at worst, a very minor intrusion into anyone’s First Amendment rights. Anyone can still get their message out – they just can’t hide behind phony groups, and they have to be up front about their affiliations.

    Legislation passed into law, rubber stamped by SCOTUS, that blatantly (IMHO) violates a core principal of our Constitution, is far worse that imperial actions by an Administration which are still undergoing review by the other branches.

    That’s my perspective. Russell Feingold can still suck my balls.

  45. M-F is, at worst, a very minor intrusion into anyone’s First Amendment rights. Anyone can still get their message out – they just can’t hide behind phony groups, and they have to be up front about their affiliations.

    That is exactly false. M-F is a huge intrusion into anyone who runs as an independent’s First Amendment rights. It has the sole function of keeping the establishment in power. The two major parties with their vast network of lawyers, accountants, and financiers, are able to side step the law (by channeling the money to phony groups). But without that network, virtually any campaign activity at all puts you in violation of BCRA. Anyone who runs for office as an independent faces a very real threat; “If you dare make a difference in this election we will sic the law on you, and you and your family and your supporters will all face prison and bankruptcy”.

    As someone who has run for office as a Libertarian, M-F has affected me (and many others) personally and directly. It has deprived me my right to free speech, political speech regarding my grievances with my government. It has kept the powerful in power and it has stifled opposition. It is no minor incursion into the freedoms of the people.

  46. Legislation passed into law, rubber stamped by SCOTUS, that blatantly (IMHO) violates a core principal of our Constitution, is far worse that imperial actions by an Administration which are still undergoing review by the other branches.

    Agreed. And let’s not forget that McCain-Feingold makes it illegal for anyone to run an ad within 60 days of a congressional election that might actually remind voters that their senator or representative voted for shitty legislation like the PATRIOT Act. That’s just absurdly wrong.

  47. Lowdog,

    “And you don’t see anything wrong with that?” I see some problems, sure. The First Amendment implications might be a problem. But remember, the original “pinko prick” comment I made about the bill was, “I’m not saying you have to like this law. But let’s not get all shrieking hysterical because the pathways to bribe politicians have gotten slightly narrower.”

    They’re listenin in on the communications of people. With no warrants. And saying that they don’t have to follow they law, because the President says so. Show me a jailed protester, and you’ll begin to build a case for equivalency. But Warren having to spend on money on Badnarik’s media fund, instead of buying the air time himself, even if you find it objectionable, isn’t the equivalent of Big Brother tapping your phone whenever George Bush says so.

    “It has the sole function of keeping the establishment in power.” It keep hearing this. Well, “this,” phrased less hysterically: that the limits on donations and expenditures will favor incumbants. But since incumbants are the ones who have the capacity to most effectively solicit campaign funds (see Abramoff, Jack), the restrictions would seem to fall on them harder.

  48. Feingold rode to popularity on gagging Speech. It’s pretty disgusting.

    M-F … has deprived me my right to free speech, political speech regarding my grievances with my government.

    What is speech? Is it buying politicians? Was Abramoff simply… speaking?

    I’m all for being filthy rich. But I don’t think democracy is well served if the only people who can actually afford to “speak” are the filthy rich.

    The market determines the price of speaking, you know. Just as it does the price of silver or oil. When the really rich and powerful corner the market in a precious commodity, they distort prices and drive other potential buyers out of the market.

    That’s what your system of political spending does. It allows the market in free speech to be monopolised. The result? Nine months of hearing about the dangers of gay marriage.

    You’ve had the rich (or the richly backed) running your government for quite a while now. Don’t tell me that the two best possible candidates for president were that incompetent lying dangerous maniacal buffoon and the nudnik Kerry. The only thing either of them had going for them was… money. Lots and lots of money.

    And don’t tell me that some nutcase of a Libertarian ever stood a chance in hell of getting elected but for an election-spending law.

    Your financing system needs a drastic overhaul. McCain-Feingold was mere cosmetic.

  49. Rick, it’s hard for me to put much trust in NTU since they aren’t as transparent as other scorecards. They weight each vote but they don’t show the details. If Russ is so bad, why do other organizations like Taxpayers for Common Sense love him? http://www.capwiz.com/taxpayer/scorecard/?chamber=S&session=1082&image.x=3&image.y=14

  50. RC Dean said:

    “[Wisconsin is a civilised state]…if you don’t mind sky-high taxes, an intrusive nanny-state, a crooked thug of a governor, and a hostile legal environment for gun ownership.”

    So tell me again how a crooked thug of a governor is better than the Libertarian candidate who ran against him, Ed Thompson?

    Really, people. When you have quality candidates like Ed Thompson for WI governor and Jim Gray for US Senate from CA running under the LP banner, and the libertarian movement as a whole doesn’t do their damndest to get them elected, letting crooked thugs and the like be elected instead, where do we have room to bitch and moan?

  51. http://www.vote-smart.org/issue_rating_category.php?
    can_id=S0972103
    &type=category&category=Budget,
    %20Spending%20and%20Taxes

    sorry i can’t figure out how to paste better.

    but it’s vote-smart’s take on feingold.

    still: this says wonderful things about the man:

    “2003 Senator Feingold supported the interests of the Christian Coalition 0 percent in 2003.”

    heh.

  52. Well, “this,” phrased less hysterically: that the limits on donations and expenditures will favor incumb[e]nts. But since incumb[e]nts are the ones who have the capacity to most effectively solicit campaign funds […] the restrictions would seem to fall on them harder.

    It’s not purely a matter of hitting some “harder” than others. The restrictions fall on different candidates and different individual supporters in different ways. The way in which they hit third-party voters and candidates is by crippling the ability of a couple of people to back the candidate of their choosing with as much of a war chest as they can amass between them. It hamstrings their ability to compete in the arena of ideas, which requires getting the ideas out to the necessary audience by cutting off their most reasonable and likely source of funding.

    Since it cripples the 3rd party’s chances, that leaves the incumbent vs. the challenger, both from major parties, ensuring that the options of voters – who won’t hear from the squelched 3rd party candidate due to his or her supporters’ legal inability to spend money promoting him or her – is to either vote for the incumbent or the only alternative with the backing of a major party that can grab donations $2,000 at a time.

    Whether or not this was intended and aimed at hamstringing third parties is beyond my ability to answer, and it’s irrelevant.

    The effect is to limit the ability of individuals – particularly those with unique views – from fully expressing themselves at the time that they should be at their most free to say what they think and to promote the discussion of their ideas, protests, policy prescriptions, what have you.

  53. VM – for you, for all your linking needs.

  54. Apparently the House would prefer one month as opposed to six.

  55. “Well, “this,” phrased less hysterically: that the limits on donations and expenditures will favor incumbants. But since incumbants are the ones who have the capacity to most effectively solicit campaign funds (see Abramoff, Jack), the restrictions would seem to fall on them harder.”

    joe:

    If a law were to be passed that eliminated 100% of canpaign dollars, could you see how incumbents would benefit? They are starting at a media advantage. They do not have to first achieve name recognition, then support. To the extent that relative unknowns want to run for office, limiting their ability to buy face time limits their ability to compete with those who already have it.

  56. can paign, egad. You know what I mean.

  57. joe,

    Specifically on discussions of the Incumbent Protection Act (McCain-Feingold), you seem to be approaching troll status.

    More money was spent in 2004 than any other election ($343.1 million), so the law didn’t exactly live up to its snappy title.

    Proof: http://www.opensecrets.org/presidential/index.asp?graph=spending
    B

  58. Alright, Joe.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/state/jul04/246844.asp

    This was all over NPR stations in Wisconsin. I’m surprised that it didn’t get more national coverage so that everyone would have heard about it.

    Of coarse, I’m on the other side of the abortion debate, but McCain-Feingold works the other way too: Planned Parenthood now can’t run ads during a campaign pointing out that a particular candidate is against abortion. Nor could an anti-war citizen group run an ad pointing out that a candidate is pro-Iraq war. Scary shit.

    Feingold sponsered a law being used to keep citizens from criticizing him during his re-election campaigns.

    Not all rights are equally important. Even if all our other rights were suppressed, if we still had freedom of speech, we could fight back. When freedom of speech is limited, particularly political speech, we’re really screwed.

  59. “For that reason I oppose both gun control and the PATRIOT Act. And I don’t buy the “but we’re at war!” crap, either. Leave my privacy alone, assholes. Thank you.”

    Honestly, I cannot tell you how many assholes have written into my local papers to say: “If y’ain’t got nuttin’ ta haad, don’ wurry.” And get fucking published! One guy actually said that the only reason to be against the evisceration of the Fourth Amendment is if one has something to hide.

  60. So what are you hiding, andy?

  61. mf is a good name for that bill.

    “in order to save political speech, we must restrict it.”

  62. I’m sure if the government knew half the shit I think I’d be in the hole for the rest of my life 😉

  63. Oh, by the way. Who here thinks that it’s not unreasonable to believe that the government puts spies on all “subversive” sites like this? This site surely isn’t underground enough to evade detection if that’s what they really wanted.

  64. Let me get one thing clear: there are certain amendments that are a little more important in today’s context. The Third, while still important, is less important than the Second, which I feel is the most important of all. So, yes, while the BoR is a package deal, you can still value what’s behind door #1 more than door #4.

    Anyway, if you’re going to get mad about what politicians do (like spy on us) but support and/or minimize the impact of our ability to get them thrown out (joe: “let’s not get all shrieking hysterical because the pathways to bribe politicians blah blah”.) then you deserve what you get. I think that taking away the ability to criticize politicians is WHAT BREEDS the spying-sort of behavior.

  65. Ayn – I was trying to let joe come to that brilliant conclusion himself, but he failed.

    And this just in: $453 billion defence spending bill! Some gems:

    The $50 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is to carry the Pentagon until Congress acts on another emergency war supplemental next year, which lawmakers expect to be from $80 billion to $100 billion.

    It is estimated that the Pentagon is spending about $6 billion a month on the Iraq war effort.

    Damn, it sure is a good thing we decided to go into Iraq, eh? I sincerely hope it works out and we get a decent return on our investment, but somehow I doubt it.

    And before any hawks ask me how I can’t care about the poor Iraqis…well, I could get happy if they do, indeed, create something resembling a democracy or republic without it being ruled by an ayatollah, but again, I doubt.

  66. andy, you assume libertarians are seen as being worth spying on.

  67. One guy actually said that the only reason to be against the evisceration of the Fourth Amendment is if one has something to hide.

    If wanting to keep it means you have stuff to hide, wanting to include it in the Constitution of your brand new country must mean you’ve got a small nation’s worth of skeletons in your closet. What do people like this think the Founders were trying to hide?

  68. Lowdog called my point brilliant. I am blushing. No seriously, thanks.

    Dhex – Ha! Libertarians at least get honorable mention on the CIA’s website as a major political party, but if we get to the point where we’re considered important enough to spy on, I’m buying all of Warren’s drinks for a week.

  69. Well, before you get too high and mighty for the rest of us, Ayn, I must say that by “brilliant” I meant “even a 5 year old could figure it out”.

  70. Thanks Lowdog. As an avowed egoist, we wouldn’t want me getting out of control.

    The real question is why, here especially, libertarians rush to compliment politicians who “go against the grain” when the kind of stuff they are doing, like standing against P.A., is stuff they are SUPPOSED to be doing. It’s like Chris Rock when he said he hated it when people expected praise for “I take care of my kids!”

    “You’re supposed to take care of your kids you stupid motherf*cker”!

    The fact that we have to praise politicians for doing what they should is kind of sad, but really funny to those of us loaded on Scotch.

  71. Precisely how many senators did what they were “SUPPOSED to be doing” when the thing was first voted for?

  72. The Concord Coalition’s congressional scorecards rate Senator Feingold quite highly. Senator Feingold was also one of the few Democratic senators to vote for the Coburn Amendment, which sought to strip some of the pork out of the recent transportation bill.

  73. Has anyone here actually had their Fourth Amendment rights violated by the PATRIOT Act? No? Ok then, I guess we should just put it into “perspective,” right?

  74. I for one am shocke…aw fuck it.

  75. For Feingold, BCRA is just the tip of the iceberg. His ultimate wet dream on that matter is full government financing of campaigns. The average citizen would be completely shut out of the process except for a few government approved outlets (like newspaper editorials). If free political speech one of he most basic of civil liberties then Feingold is no friend of civil liberties.

  76. Adam,

    Do you think the Libertarian Party, for example, had any harder a time getting its message out in 2004 than it did in 1882 or 1984?

  77. Jason,

    “If a law were to be passed that eliminated 100% of canpaign dollars, could you see how incumbents would benefit?” Well, assuming public financing or mandatory media time wasn’t used to fill the void, yes I would.

    But the absolute elimination of a thing is going to have different effects than curtailing it.

    And don’t you recognize that the ability of incumbants to raise greater funds is itself an incumbancy advantage?

  78. I am not here to defend everything that Russ Feingold has done. But I will say that, given the times we live in, in 2008 I will register to vote in the Democratic primary, and I will vote for Feingold.

    We live in an era where the executive branch has asserted the power to detain us without trial, spy on us without warrants, and torture us. It is sad that America has come to that point. But our number one priority must be to stop that.

    It is a very, very sad sign of our times when campaign finance laws are the least of our worries. I wish that things were otherwise.

  79. “taking away the ability to criticize politicians”

    I’m sorry, has somebody’s ability to criticize politicions been taken away? I couldn’t help but notice a whole lotta politician-criticizing going on last year. Actually, I didn’t notice even the slightest decrease in the amount of politician-criticizing compared to previous elections.

    The only difference I’ve noticed is that the most corrupt politicans, and the most corrupt bribers (Delay, Abramoff, and the like) are now being indicted for their deeds, rather than chortling “What are you going to do about it,” because their way of doing business now requires them to break the law. This is a bad thing?

    Lowdog, I got you 4th grade-level point the first time. You’re just playing “No, you don’t get it” game to avoid discussing my counterarguments.

  80. I’m sure I’ll be accused of selling out principles. Well, we all have our breaking points, our moments when ideals give way to reality. It took a lot to send me back to the Democrats. To be specific, it took torture and detention without trial.

    And, to be clear, I won’t be voting for Democrats in other races. If the race isn’t close I’ll vote LP. If the race is close, I’ll still vote LP unless I see a good maverick running on a major party ticket. It’s only in the Presidential race that I’ll vote for a Democrat.

    And if Feingold doesn’t win the nomination? Then I’ll have to see who the nominees are in fall of 2008. If the GOP nominee is likely to keep this crap going, and I’m in a swing state, I might have to vote Dem anyway. But otherwise I’ll vote LP.

  81. LoganFerree:

    Rick, it’s hard for me to put much trust in NTU since they aren’t as transparent as other scorecards. They weight each vote but they don’t show the details

    Not transparent? The NTU is the one rating service that offers a true accounting of the fiscal frugality (or lack thereof) of members of congress. They weigh EVERY spending vote based on the total number of dollars that the rep or senator has voted to spend. Feingold earns mostly Ds (and an F) for his big spending.

    If Russ is so bad, why do other organizations like Taxpayers for Common Sense love him?

    That rating only accounts for only ten votes! Ten!
    http://www.capwiz.com/taxpayer/scorecard/?chamber=S&session=1082&image.x=3&image.y=14

    That it is surely not a reflective measure of the senator’s overall fiscal frugality is evidenced by the fact that Feingold’s 70% is equaled by that well-known skinflint, Barbra Boxer! And those famous fiscal conservatives, Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton each earn 60% on this rating. In fact, only five senators score better than Kennedy and Clinton on the Taxpayers for Common Sense rating.

    In looking it over, I’m kinda suspicious that its real purpose is to make big spenders look like they’re not.

  82. Would anyone like to hear my story about the NTU?

    It’s true, and mildly amusing, if you’re a political junkie.

  83. &ltadorable little kid voice>
    Uncle joe, tell me a story. Please?
    </adorable little kid voice>

    (The “Uncle joe” part isn’t meant as a commie reference, although some will take it that way.)

  84. Jason Sonenshein:

    The Concord Coalition’s congressional scorecards rate Senator Feingold quite highly.

    Although far more credible as a measure of fiscal frugality than the Taxpayers for Common Sense accounting, it must be remembered that one can earn a good rating from The Concord Coalition by voting for higher taxes to pay for spending since the Concord Coalition is a “deficit hawk” organization whose prime objective is a balanced budget. So if you vote for lotsa spending, but also higher taxes, you can still get a good score from the Concord Coalition.

  85. joe,

    I would I would. And BTW, I sent them a question at your behest a while back. I think that the answer was null since I didn’t get a response, and they’re pretty good about getting back to me.

  86. joe,

    If you tell your story now and I don’t respond right away, it’s not cuz I don’t want to in case your story makes one of my favorite libertarian organizations look bad. It cuz I gotta go out and lavish my financial largess on the local merchants (i.e. I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping yet).

  87. Josh said,

    “Has anyone here actually had their Fourth Amendment rights violated by the PATRIOT Act? No? Ok then, I guess we should just put it into ‘perspective,’ right?”

    Given that violations can be completely hidden from the person whose rights are violated, how would anyone know about the violations, unless the government were incompetent or unlucky in one’s own case?

    An aspect of Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany, which was roundly lampooned by critics in the “free world,” was the general assumption that all phones were tapped, and government spies were everywhere. Mr. Bush’s stubborn defense of his surveillance policies has encouraged Americans to make the same assumption. We have now become the thing we scorned, not so many decades ago. People died to prevent the USSR from taking over the world so this kind of thing would never afflict us in the US. Yet here it is. So what is Mr. Bush protecting us from, exactly? Looks like we lost the war.

  88. Rick Barton,

    I tend to be more concerned with deficit spending than overall spending, as deficit spending shifts the tax burden to future generations, who can’t vote yet. Deficit spending therefore amounts to taxation without representation. Taxation with representation is a necessary evil. Taxation without representation is cause for revolution.

    Joe,

    Add me to the list of people who’d like to hear your NTU story.

  89. I tend to be more concerned with deficit spending than overall spending, as deficit spending shifts the tax burden to future generations

    But it also shifts the untaxed wealth to the future generations so at worst it’s a wash. For example, suppose the government wastes $1000 dollars, say, on a monument to limited government. It borrows the money by selling a 30 year T-bond and the debt grows at some interest rate. In 30 years it decides to tax your kid the principal and interest. But you (and the future generations) have had an extra $1000 growing at least at the government rate for that 30 years. You can’t really be worried that the debt will outgrow the extra funds left in your account because you can always just buy that $1000 bond yourself.

    Now, having said that, there may be other more subtle reasons to prefer one or the other methods of financing, but the simple analysis that it places a burden on future generations is simply not true any more than it would be a burden on future generations to leave them a business with $1000 in debt and at least $1000 in cash. Those future generations are now wealthier by at least the same amount as the debt we leave them. The real crime is the wasted $1000 because we, and all future generations, are $1000 plus interest poorer regardless of whether they tax us now or float us a loan. So in the end it is the spending, not the borrowing that is problem.

  90. Joe:
    Do you think the Libertarian Party, for example, had any harder a time getting its message out in 2004 than it did in 1882 or 1984?

    In relation to the GOP and the Democrats, yes I do. That’s the point of the outcry over M-F. Not the point you seem to want to imply, that the information age makes many more messages easy to distribute so restrictions on them, in any form, don’t matter.

    Daniel

  91. “But you (and the future generations) have had an extra $1000 growing at least at the government rate for that 30 years”

    Your analysis stumbles here, because you are making collective judgments about individuals. Not everyone will save that money, or use it productively. So if, say, a child whose parent invested in Enron is looked at, they are much worse off by shifting the taxes to a future date. Also, the only way you guarantee that your current money will grow at “at least” the government interest rate is to actually invest in government bonds (and even then, depending on how the money supply is deflated, that may not be true) which removes more capital from the market, where it could be used to spur entrepreneurial risk taking and innovation.

    I agree that government spending should be the focus, but I personally would rather that taxes not be able to be shifted to the future – it allows individuals today to think they can get something for nothing, if they can just forever delay paying the debt.

  92. “Uncle joe, tell me a story. Please?”

    OK. Once upon a time, after college, in about 1995, I sold art door to door. Nice prints of well-known artists like Van Gogh, Ansel Adams, Monet – you know, the art that even people who don’t know anything about art know something about. Plastic frames, real glass, $35 – not too bad.

    So anyway, I was going door to door in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and I happened upon a townhouse with a sign that said “National Taxpayers Union.” I knocked and gave my little spiel to the office staff. They told me that the boss was out, was very late coming back from a lunch meeting in fact, and that I’d have to talk to her. Then they started grumbling about her always doing this, and how some nice art for the office would be a good way to make up for it.

    So I stick around. She comes in a few minutes later, looking sheepish, and I give her my spiel. The other people in the office are staring at her with that “We wants some art!” look, so she decides she’s going to keep the troops happy, and agrees to walk out to my car to see what I’ve got.

    As we’re walking, I say, “National Taxpayer’s Union. I’ve heard of you guys.”

    She, suspicious (I was a longhair and all): “Yeah?”

    “Yeah, you’re the ones pushing the flat tax proposal.”

    (A little warmer) “That’s right.”

    Me: “Yeah, I saw that in Time Magazine.”

    She (smiling now): “Oh, did you?”

    Me: “Yeah. You know, that idea has really started to take off…”

    She: big smile

    “…since Jerry Brown made it part of his campaign platform.”

    She didn’t like that at all. “Well, what REALLY got it going was Speaker Armey’s support.”

    I don’t think I managed to sell her very much art that day.

  93. er, “deflated” in parentheses, should be “inflated”.

    One day, I will use the preview button, I promise.

    Jsut not yet.

  94. joe, you’re supposed to drop the bombshells AFTER they buy the art.

  95. thoreau, I have considered the base pursuit of profit to be subordinate to more noble pursuits, like being a smartass.

  96. Not everyone will save that money, or use it productively. So if, say, a child whose parent invested in Enron is looked at, they are much worse off by shifting the taxes to a future date.

    Perhaps that is true. But on the other side some people who, when forced to pay the tax now, will have less cash to say, put down on a car, which means they will end up borrowing more at a considerably higher rate than the government could have. They and their heirs will be worse off. Sure, we could get into marginal rates and all that and make arguments and counter arguments, but really, my point was that it is a much more complex question than simply saying you’re shifting the burden to the next generation.

    As for individuals who squander the money, sure that can happen. I should say my example is merely that the economy as a whole must, in the long run, beat the essentially risk-free rate. So in the aggregate future generations are better off by at least as much as the borrowing.

    Also, the only way you guarantee that your current money will grow at “at least” the government interest rate is to actually invest in government bonds (and even then, depending on how the money supply is deflated, that may not be true)

    No, if the government offers a contract to borrow money and you agree to lend it, you get exactly the interest the government pays. It is a simple fact – every dollar spent as interest by the borrower is a dollar received as interest by the lender. So, yes, it would guarantee that rate. But as I said, I was only using the individual rhetorically – the economy as a whole is more the issue.

    which removes more capital from the market, where it could be used to spur entrepreneurial risk taking and innovation.

    No it doesn’t. Capital doesn’t get removed from the marked unless it is destroyed or left unused for some reason. To the contrary, by leaving money in the economy now to spur that risk taking and innovation rather than removing it to waste it on building our monument, we are even more assured of beating the government rate, again, as a whole. What does get destroyed is wealth that is lost by paying for wasteful government projects.

    Anyway, the wasteful spending is at least an order of magnitude greater problem than the financing, even supposing there are subtle reasons to prefer one method to the other. I’m certainly not making this argument because I’m “pro-borrowing.” I simply think it is a terrible distraction to worry about borrowing and forget the much greater problem is spending.

  97. Damn that Chimpy McHitlerBurton for daring to infringe on terrorists’ right to blow us up! It’s like he thinks he was elected to defend the country, or something, the jerk.

  98. That’s one just too easy, TrollDave.

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