Wiretapping Bill Felled By Magic Bullet


It didn't take too long for the president's lusted-after legalization of the wiretapping program (sorry, terrorist surveillance program) to die on the vine. Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter has met his match in, of all people (when you're talking about defending the Constitution), Russ Feingold.

"We have seen the incipient stage of filibuster by amendment," the Pennsylvania Republican testily declared as he called off a vote to move his bill to the Senate floor. "Filibuster by speech, filibuster by amendment. Obstructionism."

The target of his ire was Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., who spoke against the bill for about a quarter of the panel's two-hour meeting and offered four amendments. Feingold, a possible presidential candidate, said Specter's bill would give the White House too much power to eavesdrop without a warrant in some circumstances.

Why did this fail? My theory is that 1)Democrats and some Republicans are philosophically opposed to it anyway and 2)said Democrats and Republicans are emboldened by the looming GOP defeat. I was out with a couple Hill staffers last night, and they were absolutely sure that the Democrats were going to win Congress in two months. The RNC's time machine was all for naught.

NEXT: The Boomers These Days...

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  1. I have a weird feeling we may be seeing Feingold going up against Frist in 2008. Feingold is probably going to end up being the most electable Democrat, and Frist is rapidly becoming popular with the center-right blogosphere. Granted, the blogosphere so far has shown an ability to only bring someone down, not get them elected, but if Frist plays his cards right he just might squeak in.

  2. Let’s not “in of all people” Feingold here-aside from CFR, he’s actually been pretty good (see: only Senator to vote against Patriot Act, among others).

  3. Feingold, in spite of the CFR stuff, would be the best president this country could possibly get at this point. Bush was supposed against CFR, but signed it into law anyway.

    Feingold is the only candidate I could see making significant steps to ramp down our involvement in Iraq and to rollback the civil liberties excesses of the past 5 years. The other democrats may talk a good game – although Hilary, not so much – but they would probably end up quietly keeping most of the what Bush has done.

  4. “Let’s not “in of all people” Feingold here-aside from CFR.”

    Adam, unfortunately, quite a few one-issue obsessives haunt these here parts. Please try to get with the program…torture, secret prisons, endless occupations of non-threatening countries, pandering to rabid christians and starting culture wars are all not really important issues. CRF, oooh scawy monsta.

  5. Based on what I know about Feingold so far, I would probably vote for him over just about anyone else who has a reasonable shot at winning in ’08. His stance on CFR is disturbing, but it’s kind of a dead issue at this point…short of legal challenges, CFR isn’t going anywhere, since incumbents of both parties benefit tremendously by it.

  6. I was at a constitutional rights conference this summer that featured both Glenn Greenwald AND Bob Barr as speakers (go figure). Surprisingly, Barr argued that Feingold was the one and only Democrat he could appreciate and admire as a defender of civil liberties. Of course, on just about everything else, Barr thought he was wrong…

  7. Uh oh. Weigel said something good about Feingold. Cue John in 5… 4… 3…

  8. Feingold has major problems vis a vis individual liberty

    Good for Feingold for his opposition to the war and the Patriot Act. And he’d be a more attractive Dem nominee than war hawk Hillary. However let’s not kid ourselves. He has other problems vis a vis individual liberty besides CFR. He’s a big government proponent who has received D’s and F’s from the NTU for his big spending voting record.


  9. Feingold is all about taxing and controlling. He is a good old fashioned paleo-liberal on just about every front.

    I mean, c’mon, someone who can toss aside the First Amendment as casually as he has can toss aside any protection for individual rights.

    Nope, some things should disqualify you from elected office, and in my view M-F should mean that neither Feingold nor McCain ever serves in any capacity again.

  10. RC Dean,

    So I take it you think Bush should be impeached for signing the bill?

  11. So I take it you think Bush should be impeached for signing the bill?

    *chirp* *chirp*

  12. crimethink,

    Well, it certainly oughta be enough (along with lotsa other stuff) to disqualify Bush from deserving the votes of folks who care about individual liberty. But RC’s point is strong and right on target.

  13. APL,

    Heh. Go figure. 😉

  14. When they tape the electrodes to my scrotum, at least I’ll be able to know that my taxes are marginally lower, and that they won’t have to install a scrubber on the chimney of the incinerator where they destroy my body.

    Great priorities, RC and Rick.

  15. I hafta side with joe on this one. Privacy invasion and destruction of civil liberties is more important than mere stomping of free speech.

  16. Yeah, but joe, why add insult to injury by taxing your estate to pay interest on the debt accrued purchasing those electrodes?

  17. joe,

    What you describe is a fearful possibility. I mean, you just know they’re going to re-use those electrodes, and probably not wash them between uses. I don’t want some guy’s genital sweat getting on my privates, you know what I mean?

  18. joe:

    Great priorities, RC and Rick.

    What?? That’s not fair. Who around here has protested the Bush administration’s attack on civil liberties more vociferously than me? And if there is someone, then I applaud him/her.

    So whatdya think, that we should forgive Feingold his transgressions against free speech and his general advocacy for big government cuz he’s good on other personal civil liberties? Check my comment. I give him kudos for his opposition to the war and Patriot. But he flat out sucks on other stuff.

  19. Joseph Majsterski:

    Privacy invasion and destruction of civil liberties is more important than mere stomping of free speech.

    Stomping on free speech *is* a destruction of civil liberties; is it not?

  20. Oh, thanks, crimethink.

    We’re having a nice, lighthearted discussion of the torture and murder of citizens by secret police, and you have to cast a pall over it with the image of some dude’s ball sweat.

    OK, Rick and RC, I admit, that was a little overboard.

    thoreau, you raise a good point. I don’t know what it is – I’m having a little trouble concentrating because I’m still a little freaked out about crimethink’s ball sweat – but I have complete faith in you.

  21. I meant to start that one comment: “Priorities? What?? That’s not fair.”

  22. joe,

    It’s cool. Thanks. You’re a class act.

  23. joe,

    Don’t worry, seeing as how I’m a registered Republican, I’m sure you’ll go to the torture chambers long before me, while the electrodes are still relatively clean.

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