Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 16, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

CENSURING BUSH....A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll has some good news: it pegs George Bush's approval rating at a dismal 37% and it gives Democrats a 13 point lead in a generic congressional ballot (50% prefer a Democratic congress compared to 37% who prefer a Republican congress). Unfortunately, there's also some bad news: apparently we've done a lousy job of mobilizing public opinion against the NSA wiretapping program. In what looks to be a properly worded question, the poll shows that the public still supports the program by a margin of 52%-46%:

So is Russ Feingold's motion to censure Bush a good way of shifting public opinion on this issue? Maybe, although the transparently faux-naive way he introduced it makes me think he might have gotten a little too fond of his reputation as Mr. 99-1. (As in, "Golly, I'm shocked that my fellow senators aren't instantly flocking to support this obviously controversial motion that I sprung on everyone without a word of warning.") As near as I can tell, Feingold has spent more time since Sunday playing up his maverick status to reporters than he's spent actually lining up support for his censure motion.

Bottom line: Feingold (and the lefty blogosphere) are right that Dems need to show more spine, but it doesn't follow that every possible attack on George Bush makes political sense. The attacks still have to work and still have to resonate with the public. See Clinton, William J, impeachment of for more details on this.

Still, even though I'm not impressed either with Feingold's sincerity or his political savvy, I hope he figures out a way to make this work. What's done is done, and, like Atrios, I think Democrats are foolish not to support his motion now that it's out in the open.

Next time, though, I hope we either let our leadership lead or else fire them. A little consultation could go a long way toward making Democrats look like an actual party, not a herd of cats.

Kevin Drum 12:03 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (118)

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Comments

Must I remind you of the heavy price Republicans payed for impeaching Clinton?

Posted by: HeavyJ on March 16, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

I would be interested in a two question poll.

The first question would be the one shown in your blog.

the second question would be changed to read "getting a court order up to 72 hours AFTER starting the wiretap"

It seems that virtually everyone would support the second question.

However, the key, IMO, would be when you reversed the questions. Would the answers be the same if the order of the questions were reversed?

Posted by: neil wilson on March 16, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Must I remind you of the heavy price Republicans payed for impeaching Clinton?

Exactly. There's nothing wrong with being right, even if it doesn't poll well.

Does your ass hurt from yesterday's spankings by Digby and Glenn? It should.

Posted by: craigie on March 16, 2006 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, although I'm normally the first to jump all over the generally weak willed Democratic leadership, on this one it really does seem that Feingold was grandstanding.

But right now it doesn't seem like he pre-viewed this with anyone. And if that's right - he certainly didn't do the cause any favors. If he had and they had said no, that's one thing. But to spring it from left field?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 16, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

That 37% that keeps coming up again and again, who are these people. My wife and I just shake our head. Is there anything that these 37ers won't agree to. I've often asked my students what type of society becomes a 1984 society? The answer: This one.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on March 16, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

The attacks still have to work and still have to resonate with the public. See Clinton, William J, impeachment of for more details on this.

Kevin, you are right of course. Blue state liberals like Russ Feingold and the angry left wing blogsphere are trying to attack a popular President Bush in his widely supported War on Terrorism. The American people support the legality of the NSA program because they know it's the best way to fight the terrorists. Liberals are only hurting themselves by trying to censure Bush when the American people back him.

Posted by: Al on March 16, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

With the question worded that way, I'm surprised that even 35% strongly oppose.

If the question had been worded "Do you think the government should be allowed to monitor large numbers of telephone calls without any kind of court order or oversight, even if some of those calls were made to or from suspected terrorists?" then I think you'd get a better sense of what public opinion on this subject really is.

And yes, I do think that a motion to censure would help crystallize public opinion on the subject.

Posted by: erica on March 16, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

What exactly was the "heavy price" paid by Republicans: control of congress and the executive? Kevin advocacy of the Dither Option for Democrats is just what the doctor ordered if more election day losses is what we want.

Posted by: John on March 16, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

"The American people support the legality of the NSA program" But it isn't

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on March 16, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Notice the question did not have the word "illegal" in it. But hey, it passes Kevin's "agrees with what I think" test.

Posted by: Rob on March 16, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

There's nothing wrong with being right, even if it doesn't poll well.

Comments like this make me cringe. Kevin happens to be exactly right on this matter. The censure is political theater, not policy. There is no principle at stake here, just points to be scored.

Either the censure will work as a ploy to weaken Bush politically, or it won't, but there is no other criterion for success in this matter. When it's all said and done, no additional orphans will be fed, or tax cheats imprisoned.

Sure, I'd love to see the censure-Bush movement succeed. But if it goes down in flames, I'm not going to smugly declare victory because it was the "right" thing to do.

Backbone is nice, particularly on issues that substantively matter (e.g., war; the wire taps themselves, rather than the censure motion that has sprung up in response to the wire taps; etc.). But effective strategy is nicer.

Posted by: crabshack on March 16, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

This is NOT a properly worded question! The warrantless wiretapping is not simply for suspected terrorists. It's for anyone who might have some tenuous link to a terrorist.

Read Glenn Greenwald's (heard of him?) site if you want to actually learn something.

Posted by: chris on March 16, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Looking again at the numbers, the 33% who support the wiretapping are the same 33% who would support the president pretty much no matter what. The rest of the country is aware that there's a problem. I'll bet if you asked the "somewhat supporters" and "somewhat opposers" about their concerns, those concerns would be essentially the same. (Speculation on my part, though.)

Posted by: erica on March 16, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

What is wanting is a paper record...

Those who are willing to "clear bush" for breaking a law, and those opting to censure him for it.

Lieberman has already outed himself with his famous Bush smooch...
The time has come to air out the whole closet...

Let's see who believes in the rule of law and who believes in the rule of Kings.

Let's get a paper trail on the latter....

Posted by: koreyel on March 16, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Al - please give us the facts and details from which you aver the legality of the NSA program.

It seems to me that no one outside of the NSA, White House, and a few briefed members on the Hill, actually know what the program entails.

Therefore, I highly doubt a dumbass troll like yourself knows shit from shinola about this program.

Prove me wrong.

Posted by: NSA Mole on March 16, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

>John: "What exactly was the "heavy price" paid by Republicans: control of congress and the executive?"

Precisely.

>Al: "[appoved GOP desciptors] Russ Feingold and the [aproved GOP desciptors] blogsphere are trying to attack a popular President Bush in his widely supported War on Terrorism.[tradmarked 2002]"

Heads up: "popular" is no longer how we describe Dear Leader. Approved adjectives now include "stalwart," "unshakable," and "not running for re-election."

Posted by: HeavyJ on March 16, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Old democrats are so stigmatized by the Vietnam War, that I doubt't they will ever see anything related, resembling or close to it as anything that will benefit them. Hence the stigma with censure. Democrats, group of no leader, no ideas, no coherent message and no spine.

Posted by: Mini Al on March 16, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie: As near as I can tell, my opinion is about 99% the same as Atrios's. So what's the problem?

As for Glenn, aside from being wildly insulting and condescending, his post mischaracterized what I said, attributed things to me that I didn't say, and made up opinions that I've never expressed and don't share. Why would anyone take his rant seriously?

I sure hope we win in November, but as near as I can tell a lot of commenters here don't really care about that. Sure, Feingold's censure motion makes us all feel good, but the way he went about it was politically stupid. He's a big boy and knows better. This is more about cementing his reputation than about actually trying to get support for censure.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on March 16, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

crabshack's got this one exactly right.

the censure is a pure political move, not a policy move.

the only way it gets scored is whether it helps or hurts dems politically.

Posted by: bob on March 16, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

> As near as I can tell, Feingold has spent more
> time since Sunday playing up his maverick status
> to reporters than he's spent actually lining up
> support for his censure motion.

Works quite well for McCain; perhaps Feingold is thinking ahead a bit? Unlike, say, the DC Dems?

BTW, while Clinton's poll ratings may have gone up during the impeachment, his ability to actually get anything done for the rest of his presidency was destroyed, so we might want to think about that one a bit more.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 16, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

As long as the Democrats think everything is about Bush, they will lose in 2006 and 2008.

Look at the obsession with Bush's approval numbers. The obsession is bizarre. This is 2006, not 2002! Bush is not running for re-election!

If the Dems were smart, which they are not, they would spend their effort laying out an agenda for the voters. But their obsession prevents them from doing the smart thing.

Posted by: Paddy Whack on March 16, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

On a slightly different topic, do you think some of the reluctance to support Feingold on this topic stems from the realization that Feingold might actually have a shot at the Presidency? (Assuming that I'm right that nobody who voted yes on Iraq can win.) If you're solidly in the camp of Hilary, Joe or Joe, maybe you're not that enthusiastic about supporting Russ.....

Posted by: erica on March 16, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

The latest wave of public opinion polls shows that President Bush's downward spiral continues unabated. The Wall Street Journal reports that Bush's approval rating has plummeted to 37%, with CNN coming in at 36%, a precipitous 10% drop from January. And while a comparatively upbeat Washington Post survey from March 6th put the President at a 41% approval rating, a devastating assessment from the Pew Research Center showed Bush at only 33%, the lowest mark of his presidency.

For the full story, see:
"Poll Watch: Bush and GOP Spiral Downward."

Posted by: AvengingAngel on March 16, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK


AL: Kevin, you are right of course.

Thanks, Al, for confirming my instinct that Kevin is completely wrong.

KEVIN DRUM: the transparently faux-naive way he introduced it makes me think he might have gotten a little too fond of his reputation as Mr. 99-1. (As in, "Golly, I'm shocked that my fellow senators aren't instantly flocking to support this obviously controversial motion that I sprung on everyone without a word of warning.")
The warning came months ago when his "fellow senators," you, and all of us were informed that Bush was breaking the law and when he didn't stop doing it!


Posted by: jayarbee on March 16, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe, although the transparently faux-naive way he introduced it makes me think he might have gotten a little too fond of his reputation as Mr. 99-1.

You mean a little too fond of being the only person in the Senate with any sense and character? Heyzeus! It's the fucking lilly-livered "moderates" bashing Howard Dean all over again.

Happened to catch "the scream" on the tube last night. Unhinged my ass. It was a war cry. Too bad the "powers that be" are all a bunch of gutless pussies.

Feingold and whoever in 2008! Stay away Hillary, you idiot.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 16, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting article yesterday from CBS news about a recent study performed by psychologists about "the neural basis of any form of political decision making."

They found with political topics and strong partisans "it was the portions of the brain that process emotion, not rational thinking, that became active." In short: rational thought off, emotions on.

As a mental health professional, I can attest to the premise that it is not always in your best interest to go with your emotions that happen to be surging at the moment. And I say this as a true Bush hater. My bona fides include dry heaves after he was elected followed by a several month depression.

Food for thought, particularly after walking through the minefield of hyperbolic comments from Kevins post yesterday about Feingolds censure proposal.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/11/20/opinion/meyer/main584753.shtml

Posted by: Cognitive Dissonance on March 16, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

The attacks still have to work and still have to resonate with the public. See Clinton, William J, impeachment of for more details on this.

Yes, indeed, the GOP may never recover from the grievous injuries they sustained from that crazy impeachment stunt. It's a really good thing that all the Democrats except Feingold have the good sense not to bring down that kind of long-term public scorn upon themselves.

Seriously, Kevin, do you think the GOP would be in better shape today than they would be without the impeachment? I can't imagine Bush would've beaten Gore without it. Remember? Bringing "honor and dignity" back to the White House? Remember?

Fuck, dude, you need to lower your dose of Centrisma, and actually think about what you're saying.

Posted by: dj moonbat on March 16, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, let me sum up your problem, the DLC's problem, and the overall problem with Democrats:

You are holding off your attack, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

It'll never arrive. EVER. You make those moments. You don't wait for them.

So you sit, and you wait, and the fucking world collapses around you and you STILL wait -- and worse yet, you backstab anyone trying to fight because while you won't attack Republicans until the perfect moment, you'll stick the shiv in a Democrat anytime you see the slightest opening.

You don't want those stupid bastards fucking up your perfect strategy, after all.

You keep waiting for the big kill, Kevin. I'm sure one day it'll arrive. The rest of us will keep fighting, hoping to fucking God we can keep it together until you grow a pair of balls.

Posted by: Morat20 on March 16, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Loved the way Feingold stood up Soledad Canyon on CNN - Reminded her of the manner in which the media has become lap dogs for the Administration.

So, the hell what, if he is grandstanding - Without the majority, he knew it would never pass - But, at least he has the guts to stand and deliver - The rest of the Demo leaders on the Yellow Brick Road need to meet Dorothy and Toto to help them find their brains, heart and backbone. Need more Jimmy Stewarts and fewer Bert Lahrs.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 16, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

So what's the problem?

The "problem" is that the president willingly, knowingly broke the law, admitted he did so, and has declared he will keep on doing it, and the GOP thinks that's just fine.

The "problem" is that if you say "well, this goes to the heart of our system of government, but it doesn't poll well, so fuck it," you really truly don't stand for anything.

The "problem" is that this exposes - again - what a bunch of cowards the Washington Dems are. As Digby says, if you want to appear strong and committed, you can do that by, you know, actually being strong and committed.

Atrios is also right - now that it's out there, they have to deal with it correctly. But it's not wrong that it's out there.

Posted by: craigie on March 16, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Couple great points by Kevin in this post:

1) The Democrats are doing miserably communicating the core of the warrant less spying issue. Do we see any coordination making sure that it's repeated constantly that under FISA you can start wire-tapping 72 hours without a warrant - NO.

2) I know most of us liberals thought Feingold's idea was a good one. But really - springing on his alleged team-mates completely by surprised? How the heck was that supposed to be productive?

3) Look at Feingold's history. He has not had a consistently good record on some of his calls. His give the administration the benefit of the doubt on just about all appointments doesn't look to inspirational now, does it?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 16, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Bottom line: Feingold (and the lefty blogosphere) are right that Dems need to show more spine, but it doesn't follow that every possible attack on George Bush makes political sense. The attacks still have to work and still have to resonate with the public. See Clinton, William J, impeachment of for more details on this."

Kevin, you're cruising for another Greenwald Smackdown. Jeez, you're sounding more like the dithering Richard "On the one hand ..." Cohen with each passing day. Just take a stand, dude, and stick by it.

Posted by: Doofus on March 16, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I actually support your point that political theatre must be judged, politically, onh whether it succeeds or fails. And while I supported Feingold's motion initially, I think that his failure to gain the substantial backing of Democrats should indeed be viewed as HIS failure, especially as it looks like he did not communicate his intentions and lay the groundwork.

Regarding the question, I think it has a critical inaccuracy. The phrase "despite the fact that Congress has passed a law requiring a court order for such wiretaps" would get closer, in my opinion. Of course, that gets to be a mouthful. Which, I think, is why we have a representative democracy in the first place, and particularly need leaders who can tackle these complex issues and reach clarity. But that doesn't answer the question of whether Feingold has succeeded...

Posted by: anon on March 16, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it's not terrible question wording, but as someone who works in polling, I would have prefered "warrant" to "court order." People don't know much, but they do know what a warrant is (they watch cop shows). A court order sounds like the government has to wait around for a court to order them to wiretap terrorists, which of course isn't the situation at all (polling questions should be written to be understandable to a high school graduate). I also would have said "people with suspected links to terrorism" rather than "suspected terrorists."

I would also have used a follow-up question to determine if people changed their minds when they hear that a warrant can be granted up to 72 hours after installing the wiretap. For fairness' sake, another follow-up should be asked to those who initially opposed, to determine if they still oppose if, for example, it may mean that some investigations into terrorism will be blocked or that sort of thing. I would bet those that oppose won't change their minds, but those that agree might.

Posted by: kjwldn on March 16, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

See Al, Paddy Whack's got the hang of it!


Heads up: "popular" is no longer how we describe Dear Leader. Approved adjectives now include "stalwart," "unshakable," and "not running for re-election."
Posted by: HeavyJ on March 16, 2006 at 12:26 PM |

Look at the obsession with Bush's approval numbers. The obsession is bizarre. This is 2006, not 2002! Bush is not running for re-election!

If the Dems were smart, which they are not, they would spend their effort laying out an agenda for the voters. But their obsession prevents them from doing the smart thing.
Posted by: Paddy Whack on March 16, 2006 at 12:30 PM |

Posted by: HeavyJ on March 16, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

I sure hope we win in November, but as near as I can tell a lot of commenters here don't really care about that.

Wow, Kevin, way to take a page from tbrosz' playbook. Would you care to name names?

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's snark level with Feingold is surprising. Is there some history I don't know about? I feel like I'm reading Kausfile ...

Posted by: David on March 16, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Question to all the 'real' lefties here: What, exactly, prevents Feingold from being both a true believer and a team player simultaneously? Would he have shown any less 'sense and character' by giving the rest of the party, or at least the leadership, a heads-up? I really don't understand what difference it would have made, except, at the very least, give the party a chance to prepare a reaction.

Posted by: bob on March 16, 2006 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

That's a properly worded question?

The illegal warrantless wiretaps don't have anything to do with terrorists per se as mentioned in the poll question. How many times does it have to be stated before it sinks in: Bush et al can easily get a warrant from the FISA court to wiretap a suspected terrorist. Are the Quakers now terrorists? How about vegans? How about journalists? Does anyone seriously think these groups are in league with al Qaeda? The question isn't and shouldn't be about "wiretapping terrorists." Its about warrantless wiretaps of 1000s of ordinary American citizens.

Posted by: lellis on March 16, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

wingers, disgust with Bush, which we are seeing so much of in the public lately, is code for "disgust with the right wing."

So the "not running again" device won't work for you. Besides, your best shot, McCain, is running with his nose up georgie's ass, pretending to be him.

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 16, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

As usual, Kevin is quick to criticize the Dems for their disorganization and lack of ideas, but as usual, he never offers any substantive idea or plan of his own as to what they should be doing. This is because Kevin's understanding of most topics is very superficial. Remember his post regarding the NYC transit workers' strike back in December or January? I think the Pillsbury Doughboy is the best representative symbol of Kevin's grasp of anything.

Posted by: coffeequeen on March 16, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Kevin's snark level with Feingold is surprising. Is there some history I don't know about?"

To follow up on David's question: Kevin, are you coming down hard on Feingold because YOU think he's got a shot at the Presidency and you have someone else in mind?

(And yeah, saying that commenters on this site don't care whether the Dems win is a really cheap shot.)

Posted by: erica on March 16, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I agree with your commenters. The Democratic party is not yet far enough left. It is still possible that some moderates might vote for them.

A big move to the left is in order, so that all pretense of moderation is removed. Hell, Democrats will have no problem getting elected when they represent the views of fewer people than they do now.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 16, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Bottom line: Feingold (and the lefty blogosphere) are right that Dems need to show more spine, but it doesn't follow that every possible attack on George Bush makes political sense.

No, but if he deserves it, regardless of any political sense, that is where "show more spine" is relevant.

Backbone is nice, particularly on issues that substantively matter (e.g., war; the wire taps themselves, rather than the censure motion that has sprung up in response to the wire taps; etc.). But effective strategy is nicer.

Yes it would be nice to have backbone and effective strategy. Currently, the Democrats have neither. I fact, they have had neither for a long time now. If they can first show some fucking spine, regardless of how it polls, then they have something to start with. IN fact, based on how spineless they have been, I'd suggest that showing spine is strategy.

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on March 16, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Why do people persist in believing that the impeachment of Clinton was a bad move?

Dealing with the "Clinton problem" is what kept Gore out of office. Yeah, it was an overreach, but it was a smart one.

The Republican brand was massively strengthened as the party of "tough & committed to our values" and the Democrats' brand as "weak and permissive" was powerfully sealed.

The impeachment just wasn't a bad move. It's what kept Gore from being elected in spite of peace, prosperity, moderate governance, and a balanced budget.

Posted by: theorajones on March 16, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

1) The Democrats are doing miserably communicating the core of the warrant less spying issue.

The Democrats in Congress don't have a clue what the core of the warrentless-spying issue is.

Cragie does

The "problem" is that the president willingly, knowingly broke the law, admitted he did so, and has declared he will keep on doing it, and the GOP thinks that's just fine.

No one knows whether the Democrats, Feingold excepted, think that's just fine, or horrible, or whatever....

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on March 16, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Next time, though, I hope we either let our leadership lead or else fire them. A little consultation could go a long way toward making Democrats look like an actual party, not a herd of cats."

Having watched the Daily Show bit a couple of days ago about how our leadership handled the Paul Hackett nomination, I vote we fire them.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 16, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Look at the obsession with Bush's approval numbers. The obsession is bizarre. This is 2006, not 2002! Bush is not running for re-election! Posted by: Paddy Whack

No. Actually, it's beginning to look like 2006 will be 1974. Bush may now be a bigger liability to the Republican party than Nixon was.

Nixon inherited a war. Bush started one. Nixon attmepted to address environmental and oil issues. The Bush administration policies have done nothing but aggravate them. Nixon made bold foreign policy moves toward China and Israel. Bush has done nothing but piss-off everyone in the world. Nixon had a confrontational VP. Bush has one that spends most of his time in hiding and is the most unpopular since the advent of polling.

Oh no. Bush's fading influence has nothing to do with the coming elections.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 16, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

AI

What are you talking about? Pres. Bush has a 33% approval rating from the latest Pew. Clinton was at more than twice that rating during the height of the impeachment. Censure is the smart thing to do, because impeachment is impossible. Other polls have shown a majority of Americans agree with impeachment IF it is proven Bush "illegally" wiretapped or purposefully mislead us into War.

Other than temporarily making the GOP like like vindictive crybabies, two
presidential elections, and control of the Senate as well as further gains in controlling the House does not seem to indicate a major hit taken by the GOP by the Impeachment. It formed the basis for their political surge - "moral integrity."

Feingold is right. KD we should fire the consultants, and the Dem Leadership better start listening. Bloggers are not liberal or leftist just because they use the internet. We are all mostly moderate with the same core beliefs that MOST Americans share. We are just sick and tired of the BS panzy ass, wimpy, turn the other cheek behavior. Stand up and sound off like you got a pair. That is what the GOP does. They don't stop. The will kick you, smash you, and bury you in a hole after they beat you; and then cover the hole with cement and guard it 24/7 to not let you out.

This is a fight for the future of the Country not a GD intramural college debate. The rules have been re-written after they were broken by the GOP. Take your shots and stand up. Everbody loves Rocky. Did he run away? No he got up after every brutal beating to take more until he outlasted his opponent and final KO's them. You can't just fight when you know you are going to win and run otherwise. That is the cowards way. We cannot win any fight with the makeup of Congress and the Senate, but can't just quit either.

Bush: "if you don't stand for something, then you don't stand for anything." i.e. Dem Leadership.

But: "If you don't stand for something you will fall for Anything." Just do something. Hoo Rah, Feingold!

Posted by: txexspeedy on March 16, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, Democrats will have no problem getting elected when they represent the views of fewer people than they do now.

By contrast, of course, no one represents' c.n. wacky views.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yes it would be nice to have backbone and effective strategy. Currently, the Democrats have neither. I fact, they have had neither for a long time now. If they can first show some fucking spine, regardless of how it polls, then they have something to start with. IN fact, based on how spineless they have been, I'd suggest that showing spine is strategy.

Word.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Don't be too hard on Kevin. He really thinks that there is a vast pool of Moderate voters who just happen to have their meters a bit right-of-center at the moment (even ignoring that the "center" is now pretty far right). He thinks those meters will swing over a bit left-of-center in 2006/2008, all the usual moderate Dems will be elected, and they will implement their usual moderate, rational policies. Meanwhile the Grown-Up Republicans will step in to clean up the mess W has made of their party, and everything will be back to normal by 2012.

I don't think so, personally. Bush and Cheney are operating as a wrecking crew right now, destroying as much of the federal gov't as they can by 2006. And they are getting ready to launch war on Iran. I don't think there is a big pool of moderates anyway, but I REALLY don't think anyone will vote "Moderate" in 2006.

And at this point, I am now with Atrios that the DC Dems are finished one way or another.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 16, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

I'd agree that the question isn't that well worded. as noted above, "warrant" is more accurate, and there's the phrase "listen to telephone calls between suspected terrorists and Americans" which makes it sound like the program is about tightly focused survailliance of very likely suspects & not large scale trolling through the communicaitons of a whole bunch of people who just happen to be calling someon outside the US. In fact, the phrase "listen to telephone calls between suspected terrorists..." is hard enough to reasonably disagre with that I think it probably need to get broken up if we want to know how people feel about what the NSA program actually does.

Posted by: URK on March 16, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

"A little consultation could go a long way toward making Democrats look like an actual party, not a herd of cats."

Sure, some coordination to help "mobilize public opinion" would be a good thing, but the statement impies that Joe Q. Voter thinks that the Democratic party's position on the censure motion is inconsistent.

Joe Q. Voter does not know the censure motion exists, nor does he have an opinion on the Democrats' response. If Mr. Voter does, eventually, get some vague notion the Democratic message is incoherent and muddled, it's largely because they have absorbed the "Conventional Wisdom" of pundits (like WM).

Said pundits are usually trying to fit their story into an easily digested (and readily saleable) narrative; i.e., see "weak on Defense" and "hostile to religion" for recent examples. Others include "the threat from WMDs, and even the "incompetence of the Bush strategy in Iraq" (since that only questions the process, not the ends).

Posted by: luci on March 16, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Properly worded question? No. Not even close. If the question were properly worded it would read "do you support spying on American citizens without basis or oversight" in violation of the 4th amendment, without any evidence of wrongdoing and without the person(s) spying being accountable?

There has been absolutely no, zero, zip, nada evidence provided that the victims of Bush's spying were "suspected" of anything.

If the question were framed and worded "properly" there would be no support of it.

The premise of the question, that the victims were rightly "suspects" or knew terrorists is unproven and likely false. Therefore the data and your conclusion are false.

Posted by: Chrissy on March 16, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

This is not really news. Most polls taken on the NSA subject, if the question includes two important items of information ("without a warrant" and "related to terrorism") have resulted in majority approval. Polls that leave out one or the other tend to result in higher or lower ratings respectively.

The more details someone is given, including details of what oversight there actually was, it seems the more likely they are to approve. The wording of the questions is critical.

Not surprisingly, people who are confused to the point where they have the NSA wiretapping the Quakers are not going to approve of it.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 16, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

The question on wire taps is interesting, but misses a lot of the complexities.

For example, would it change your mind if you knew that Congress passed a law requiring a court order and that failure to do so, was a crime punishable up to 5 years?

Would it change your mind if the President asserted the right to ignore the law and proceed without a warrant do to his inherrent power as commander in chief?

Would it change your mind if the President asserted his right to lawfully do such searches without a warrant, do to the Authorization of Force passed by Congress despite the fact that it makes no mention of the wiretapping laws or spying which includes persons in the United States.

Would it change your mind if you knew that federal law required the President to notify all members of the Intelligence committees, but he unilatarially decided only to tell the chairman and minority leader of the committess while maintaing they would be prosecuted if they told others on the committee?

Posted by: Catch22 on March 16, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK


BOB: Would he have shown any less 'sense and character' by giving the rest of the party, or at least the leadership, a heads-up? I really don't understand what difference it would have made, except, at the very least, give the party a chance to prepare a reaction.

How much time do they need for that reaction? I knew about it on Sunday, and I'd be willing to bet that at least several senators knew about it before then. What's more important than their reaction to Feingold's measure is their reaction to Bush's law-breaking, which they've known about for some time now. The fact that, with that knowledge, they've prepared no meaningful reaction, makes Feingold's action not only appropriate, but also fitting insofar as they may have been excluded regarding it's introduction, because they have proven themselves uninterested in enforcing the law governing this matter. Every moment the Democrats sit on their hands over this issue gives the president's lawbreaking legitimacy.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 16, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

To anyone who might be swayed by cn's "move to the left...views of fewer people than they do now" rhetoric, please note that a move toward guts and gumption is NOT a move to the left. It's just a decision to approach issues honestly and with common sense.

We've been scared of this "move to the left" stuff long enough, because we DO care about strategy and whether the Dems win. But enough careful parsing is enough. Craigie is right--the GOP thinks it's just fine to break the law, and it's time for anyone who has a better idea to get up and say so.

Posted by: erica on March 16, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Feingold like Murtha showed some balls. Good for him. Not getting behind him makes the dems look weak.

They had to know a censure resolution was coming. Are there some meta-strategy problems with this play. Sure, but then every play meta-strategy problems. The secret to winning is that it becomes a habit, same with losing. Rather than stutter about who did what, let's get on with doing it, rather than talking about it.

Posted by: patience on March 16, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

theorajones has the other key (besides 9/11) to politics in this country for the last 8 years:

"The impeachment just wasn't a bad move. It's what kept Gore from being elected in spite of peace, prosperity, moderate governance, and a balanced budget."

Forget how effective policies are. Democrats are tainted: a little bit slimy, a little bit libertine, a little bit untrustworthy, etc. etc. They also have sex.

That is, of course, the point. The GOP's raison d'etre. The line that has been sold to the David Broders, the Tim Russerts, the Chris Matthews, the Nedra Picklers of the world. It also helps that they personally enjoy large GOP tax cuts on their ample salaries.

So yes, impeach, censure, malign, impugn, besmirch, and otherwise destroy Chimpy. Just make sure he stays in office to the end, firmly affixed to the GOP machine he runs.

Posted by: HeavyJ on March 16, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

As long as the Democrats think everything is about Bush, they will lose in 2006 and 2008. posted by: Paddy Whack

Wait a minute. It worked for you guys when everything was about Clinton.

Thanks for the advice, but your intentions are rather transparent.

Posted by: Paddy O-Furniture on March 16, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

To anyone who might be swayed by cn's "move to the left...views of fewer people than they do now" rhetoric

Since conspiracy nut thinks the Republican Party and the G8 are all Socialist, his view of what constitutes "left" is naturally suspect.

Posted by: Gregory on March 16, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

"it doesn't follow that every possible attack on George Bush makes political sense. The attacks still have to work and still have to resonate with the public. See Clinton, William J, impeachment of for more details on this."

With the exception of Kevin Drum's early support for the invasion of Iraq, this is the single dumbest thing I've ever seen (the otherwise reasonably intelligent) Kevin write.

Have you forgotten what party now controls all three branches of government, and most statehouses, and has the MSM eating from their hand on a daily basis?

My word.

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on March 16, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, Kevin, do you think the GOP would be in better shape today than they would be without the impeachment? I can't imagine Bush would've beaten Gore without it. Remember? Bringing "honor and dignity" back to the White House? Remember?

DJ Moonbat: This is brilliantly concise and utterly destroys the "Republicans only hurt themselves when they impeached Clinton" claim. Thank you.

Posted by: Baldrick on March 16, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you say:

Bottom line: Feingold (and the lefty blogosphere) are right that Dems need to show more spine, but it doesn't follow that every possible attack on George Bush makes political sense. The attacks still have to work and still have to resonate with the public. See Clinton, William J, impeachment of for more details on this.

OK. But look at how you load your words. Feingold's move to censure is a particular proposal that we should be willing to judge on its own merits, without suggesting that it's similar to "every possible attack." Why not suggest that it's a gentle, bloodless reminder to the chief executive that he is gamboling far beyond the pale and that he'd better get back within it?

If you look at the censure motion on its merits, please tell us, is there any statement in it with which you disagree?

It's not an attack, and it's not impeachment (that comes later).

What makes political sense is whatever wins.

You're halfway there, hoping Feingold figures out how to make it work. But it's not up to him any more. If you agree with his proposal, why not help to make it work.

Whether it makes political sense or not, it appears to make legistlative, constitutional, and ethical sense. Or do you disagree?

Posted by: Frank on March 16, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Even with the minimal, ineffective Democratic response to the NSA warrantless spying, and only two consponsors of the resolution, more people support the resolution than not.

Imagine what could happen if Dems (and any Republicans who'd like to distance themselves from the sinking ship of the admin) would hammer home what this regime's expressed view of their powers really is: elected dictatorship.

Posted by: Nell on March 16, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I agree with your commenters. The Democratic party is not yet far enough left. It is still possible that some moderates might vote for them.

Conspiracy nut, just what the fuck are you talking about? When exactly did observing the Constitutional separation of powers become "left"? When did a resolution to censure a faux-conservative half wit become "left"? Do you even know which thread you're posting to?

Asshat.

Posted by: Baldrick on March 16, 2006 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

To anyone who might be swayed by cn....

Good one, Erica!

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 16, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

P.S., Kevin: Your assumption that Feingold must have nothing but cynical motives for his Censure motion just reeks. Not everyone's as craven as you, apparently, are. To wit: "Anytime a congressman introduces a measure that's certain to fail, it's done for reasons of political theater." Um, not necessarily, dude. Sometimes a congressman will introduce a motion certain to give a voice to a voiceless constituency. Right now about half of all Americans believe Bush probably broke the law when he discarded FISA and engaged in eavesdropping on Americans without a warrant. But is there 50% of Congress actively representing said Americans? Is there 50% of this supposed "opposition" party actively representing said Americans? No, and no.

Feingold is doing what no one else, so far, had the guts to do: represent people like me (and there's tens of millions of us) who've heretofore been unrepresented in the midst of this constitutional crisis. You call such representation "political theater," I call it democracy. You call Feingold an insincere person. I call that projection.

And FWIW, Kevin, I think Glenn handed you your ass yesterday, and I don't even think it was close. You may disagree, but I'm willing to bet you're in the stark minority, probably even here on your own blog.

But Al and CN are still with you, so congrats on that. Enjoy each other.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on March 16, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Good one, Erica!
I agree, Ace, I'm looking forward it happening.

But I've decided I find this interesting:
it gives Democrats a 13 point lead in a generic congressional ballot
Generic Dems lead generic Repubs by about 10% when the Repub wins. What did we learn here?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 16, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I basically agree with on Feingold's censure. Even if it had no chance of passing, he should have lined up support and a plan of attack before springing it. (And part of me cynically wonders if he was doing it more to set himself as the leading insurgent candidate.) I also agree that the Dems are morons for not leaping to it. Regrouping and joining in the attack is much smarter than dithering over a key issue, no matter how you slice it.

You know, people keep saying the NSA scandal isn't a winner for the Dems, and maybe it's not. But the way the administration has moved forcefully to block any investigation, and the general half-assed incompetent way they've run just about ever other area of government leads me to suspect that a full investigation would reveal at least some major asshattery in the implementation of this program. I think they're scared of it, and I think there must be a reason. But as I said, I could be wrong.

Posted by: Royko on March 16, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Baldrick
When exactly did observing the Constitutional separation of powers become "left"?
Dang, and to think I about missed this drivel. I like the Constitutional separation of powers. What does a censure have to do with this?
When did a resolution to censure a faux-conservative half wit become "left"?
Uh, Frist wanted to bring it up for vote. It was the Dems that ran. So it's apparently not a leftie idea.

Do you have any idea what you're talking about?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 16, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Those pusillanimous policy parsers, otherwise known as Democrats, should take a larger view before they shrink from censure talk like violets in the summer sun. Their wimpy wisdom is that impeachment hurt the Repuglies, but it actually helped them.

People dont gather information and make informed decisions when they vote, its more a process of osmosis. A whole year of screaming headlines about someone sucking on Clintons penis, the impeachment that followed and the various scandals all came to nothing, but the very volume and amount of shouting gave the Clinton administration an undeserved aura of sleaze, which greatly influenced the next election.

Given that predicting how human beings are going to act in any situation is completely impossible, and given the huge rate wrong guesses by political pundits on nearly every issue, it is laughable for us to predict how the public would react to a censure attempt, especially with Bush down for the count.

So, the truly prudent thing to do is do what you believe is right. History is chock full of apparently hopeless causes that suddenly caught fire. One things for sure, that never happens to policy parsers. Go ahead, wimpydems, censure. If he public comes our way, great. If they dont, you can live with yourself.

One last thing to think about, wimpydems. The impeachment hurt the Republicans so badly, in the next election they won both houses of Congress and the Presidency.

Posted by: James of DC on March 16, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

The more details someone is given, including details of what oversight there actually was, it seems the more likely they are to approve. Posted by: tbrosz

For the wiretapping in question, there has been no oversight, no judicial review of legality. That's the problem.

Nice try T-Bone.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 16, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Basically, you have not stated any basis for saying

Still, even though I'm not impressed either with Feingold's sincerity or his political savvy ..

You're quite mistaken. Feingold forces Dems to either a) take a stand; or b) look like the craven, unprincipled, poltroons they really are. Further, the censure motion (c) substantively raises the legal issue at hand: Bush has broken the law. Not only that, but (d) should the Dems come to their political senses and stand with Feingold, the situation will expose the Republicans for the unprincipled, rubber stamp that they are, adn (e) accelerate the Bush's situation towards an increasingly untenable critical mass.

You have stated no basis for, or even any argument for, the bizarre notion that Feingold has no political instincts. You are plainly incorrect to say so. This is a substantive act, not theater. The fact that the measure will not pass by no means indicates that the motion is not effective in acheiving its aims.

Feingold is not naive. But Democratic 'leaders' need to be called to account, as well as Bush. And he has to insist they are in the wrong using some sort of rhetoric.

Give us some evidence, or argument, at least. But maligning Feingold when his political acumen is the only one retaining any visible credibility is nothing short of willful stupidity. Yes.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 16, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

theorajones at 12:53 made a point I was going to make ... that the impeachment circus was crucial in getting the Shrub elected.

So bring on the clowns!

The other Dems got to get some backbone. Got to stop parsing every poll down to its last nuance. Got to start leading, dammit.

Good for Feingold. He's got my support for Pres. so far, just for being bold about the Chimperor.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 16, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

jayarbee:

I should be clear that I agree with you on the substance of the issue; domestic spying is almost certainly unconstitutional, probably impeachable, and in either case, profoundly at odds with our society and form of government.

So believe me, I would much rather it were the case that we could hold this President accountable in some way. But facts are facts: for as long as we fail to control even a single branch of government, the best we can do is damage control. And so we have to give some serious weight to the importance of winning elections. And it is far from obvious that this is a winning political issue for us.

Put another way, if sitting out this fight is the cost of winning a few more house or senate seats in November, that is a price I am willing to pay. Now maybe there is no tradeoff here, and we can have both. But that is something you will have to convince me of, rather than assert as obvious.

Posted by: bob on March 16, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Notice the question did not have the word "illegal" in it. But hey, it passes Kevin's "agrees with what I think" test."
Posted by: Rob

Thats because the illegality of it is still a matter of opinion. In MY opinion terrorists have no protection under the constitution. If you are a terrorist or are cavorting with them then they should be prepared too get listened to when they make phone calls back and forth. All perfectly legal and understandable to me.

Censuring Bush would be like spanking a kid just IN-CASE he/she did something wrong, But...we don't know...exactly. So lets spank him just in-case.

Posted by: Lurker 42 on March 16, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Further, the censure motion (c) substantively raises the legal issue at hand: Bush has broken the law. Not only that, but (d) should the Dems come to their political senses and stand with Feingold, the situation will expose the Republicans for the unprincipled, rubber stamp that they are
Frist wanted to bring this to a vote. Shouldn't you be praising the Republican leadership for doing exactly what you want done?

I mean come on, we're all working together here. I'm in favor of bringing it up for vote.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 16, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

My favorite part of Mr. Greenwald's post was where he defended Feingold's pure and righteous motives for voting against dismissing the impeachment charges against Clinton.

Posted by: kc on March 16, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Those are fair points about Feingold's tactics.

I'm glad you don't get hung up on that stuff, however, and realize that taking a stand against Bush's fundamentally un-American acts is principaled, serious, and important.

The fruitcakes who endorse trading our basic rights for a promise of protection from terrorists (a promise made by a patently incompetent and corrupt administration) need to be stopped.

Posted by: Sean on March 16, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

"My favorite part of Mr. Greenwald's post was where he defended Feingold's pure and righteous motives for voting against dismissing the impeachment charges against Clinton."

*Thwack!* *Thwack!*

Get that strawman!

*Thwack!*

Get it!

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on March 16, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Long term strategy? From the DLC crowd? More of the same I'm sure, but it won't work.

Here's a long term strategy. We here in the Banna-Republic south would just love to vote for some straight talking Democrat. Right now there are a whole crapload of dissaffected Repubs that would switch parties in a heartbeat if the Dems would just grow a pair.

Instead you and your consultant brethern want to play touchie feelie with the religious types.

The good ol porn-lookin beer-drinkin good ol boys wouldn't mind seeing the thumpers get their come-uppance. Dean knew it, and the fact that the Amys and Kevins of the world are more concerned about hurting the feelings of rabid thumper nutcases does nothing to assuage Bubba his suspicions that the Democratic leadership stands for nothing, and will fight for nothing.

You want a strategy? How about proving to a intrusive-goverment fearing southern-libertarian that we are on his side? That we are oppossed to this whole dictatorship thingie. We are, aren't we?

No one outside the little Washington bubble can figure out what is so hard about this.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

There is just to much at stake here to keep ones head so far up ones ass. Fight, or get the hell out of the way. Thats what Russ is saying and it needs to be said.

Fuck all your chinkenshit plotting.

Posted by: SnarkyShark on March 16, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

KD, Methinks thou doth complain too much.

Following the mealy mouthed, endlessly equivocating centrists, like yourself, hasn't yielded boo on checking the abuses of power by the Bush administration.

Feingold has some success by demonstrating that one man with courage does make a majority and you whine about his tactics.

KD, you won't get invited to the table to plot how to clip the wings of the Neo Cons because you don't want to be at the table. So quit sniveling that your invite hasn't arrived.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on March 16, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK
Next time, though, I hope we either let our leadership lead or else fire them.

Well, certainly the leadership should be chastised, if not fired, for so far having failed to lead on these issues, but I see no reason to demand that the caucus either follow blindly or replace the leadership with people they are willing to follow blindly.

That's just dumb.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

How can anyone who isn't part of the Bush cult (aka the GOP) make the argument that impeaching Bush is in some way equivalent to impeaching Clinton.

The charges against Clinton were a joke.

Bush has fundamentally abridged the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution, among other things.

The President should be held accountable. If this country doesn't become a fascist shadow of itself, historians will laud Russ Feingold and they will seek to understand why people like Kevin Drum--people who were smart, informed and had nothing to lose--failed to have the courage to act against obvious unconstitutional behavior by the president.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on March 16, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK
Long term strategy? From the DLC crowd?

"We're going to keep rolling over until the Republicans get tired of kicking us around."

Posted by: cmdicely on March 16, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

"We're going to keep rolling over until the Republicans get tired of kicking us around."

Thats worked soooooo good this far........not.

Posted by: SnarkyShark on March 16, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Thats because the illegality of it is still a matter of opinion. In MY opinion terrorists have no protection under the constitution.

What about rapists and mass murderers and pedophiles and drug dealers? Do they have protection under the Constitution in YOUR opinion? If not, then surely it's OK for the government to listen to someone's phone call or break into their home or arrest with no charge and throw them into prison for the rest of their life, right, if they merely suspect that person of being a murderer or drug dealer or rapist?

Posted by: Stefan on March 16, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kevin:

Glenn showed me up for the sodden piece of milk-toast I am, so I'll attack the accuracy and honesty of his post without citing any specific examples. Then I'm taking my ball and going home!

Posted by: athos on March 16, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

KEVIN - You say that the poll shows that the public "supports the program by a margin of 52%-46%". BUT, KEVIN, THIS IS NOT WHAT THE POLL SAYS!!!!!!!!!!!

There is a very crucial difference:

The poll says that by by a margin of 52%-46% the public supports wiretapping conversations between SUSPECTED TERRORISTS and American citizens without a court order.

The poll should ask: "Do you support wiretapping the international communications of American citizens?"

BIG DISTINCTION.


Posted by: Teej on March 16, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The illegal warrantless wiretaps don't have anything to do with terrorists
per se as mentioned in the poll question. How many times does it have to be
stated before it sinks in: Bush et al can easily get a warrant from the FISA
court to wiretap a suspected terrorist. Are the Quakers now terrorists? How
about vegans? How about journalists? Does anyone seriously think these groups
are in league with al Qaeda? The question isn't and shouldn't be about
"wiretapping terrorists." Its about warrantless wiretaps of 1000s of ordinary
American citizens.

Posted by: lellis
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BING .. BING ... BING ... Folks, we have a winner.

Posted by: G.Kerby on March 16, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

98-1! Stevens missed the vote.

Posted by: Drew Miller on March 16, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

I simply can't get over all the nervous nellies who keep bringing up Clinton's numbers going up in the face of the Republican impeachment effort. This is why Dems keep losing elections they should win in a landslide (e.g., Massachusetts governorship). They are afraid to antagonize a small, already polarized subgroup, and use this to justify their refusal to take a position on important issues. No wonder the Repubes have been cleaning their clock on national security until recently. Agonizing over major issues simply does not look good in the polls. Call it the battered wife syndrome, I suppose. There is no downside to censure EXCEPT if they diddle. Appearing decisive would give them more momentum than any rally to the defense of "their" president could offer Repubes. Note that the strong opposition to censure is nearly identical in percentage of population to the Bush approval rating. This is not the 35% they should worry about.

Posted by: buck turgidson on March 16, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Still, even though I'm not impressed either with Feingold's sincerity or his political savvy

Kevin, that's a terrible statement. So you trust Reid's sincerity but not the one guy who seems not to compromise himself all the time. I fail to see how you can question Feingold's "sincerity", at least in relation to any other Democratic politician, and as for political savvy, we can see in the latest polls that his move opens the door for Democrats to stop being cowards and to get on the offensive.

Posted by: Jimm on March 16, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Dang, and to think I about missed this drivel. I like the Constitutional separation of powers. What does a censure have to do with this?

con-nut, I had to step away. You have confirmed my belief in your utter mental obtuseness. "Constitutional separation of powers" refers to the overarching plan of our founding document. That document delegates power to the Congress to write the laws and power to the President to "faithfully execute" them. George Bush, in breaking the FISA law, has asserted his superiority to the laws written by Congress. This trespasses on the domain of the legislature. And fails to fulfill the obligations of the Executive to "faithfully execute" the laws.

As I said above, this has nothing to do with "left" or "right". It has to do with the unconstitutional usurpation of powers not delegated to the Executive by the Constitution. Those who fail to understand why so many of us feel so passionately about this issue fail to understand this simple fact.

Incidentally, Kevin, this also explains why many of us believe that Feingold is right to propose censure whether or not it is a political winner. (The fact that I believe that it is a political winner is just gravy.) Congress must act to suppress this blatant power-grab by the Executive, or the Constitution is meaningless, and we should stop congratulating ourselves for representing "Freedom" and "Democracy" anywhere in the world.

And con-nut, you are still an asshat.

Posted by: Baldrick on March 16, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Among the NBC News/Wall Street Journal polling questions, some are confusing or biased in ways that generate more support for the president than is really there.

For example, section 18:

I'm going to read you a number of actions and positions that George W. Bush and his administration have taken over the past few years. For each one, please tell me whether you strongly support that action or position, somewhat support it, somewhat oppose it, or strongly oppose it.
Going after Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda
Many good-thinking Americans strongly support the idea of "Going after Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda" but believe that George W. Bush has done a very poor job of actually doing this, and moreover, lacks any cogent plan or strategy to do this. We strongly support the idea but strongly oppose the actions and failures to take appropriate actions.
Promoting the USA Patriot Act, which gives the government greater ability to spy on and prosecute suspected terrorists
Why not "...which gives the government greater ability to go on fishing expeditions, spy on innocent Americans, inspect library borrowing records of children and their teachers, and ..."? It's totally unfair that they put editorial support for the USA PATRIOT act right in the question.
Making the tax cuts of the past few years permanent
Why not, "Increase the federal deficit, which is already at record levels, adding a huge interest burden to current tax payers and a huge repayment burden to our children and grandchildren?" Note: I'm not suggesting that the question should be worded in this way either. But saying "do you like tax cuts" is like offering free candy; unmentioned is the cost in terms of increased interest costs, increased deficits, lack of transparency, and inability to spend on worthwhile programs.

These are some examples of the shortcomings and pro-Bush bias of the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on March 16, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

I admit that I've participated in a few how-can-you-be-so-stupid-Kevin posts (re Iraq and Memogate), but some of the comments about Clinton's impeachment indicate vert short poltical memories. Repubs now control the govt. in spite of the impeachment, not because of it.

All this manly-man talk about "backbone" and "balls" ignores the fact that most Americans place more trust in Genesis than Darwin. GWB's poll numbers show they're finally getting a clue, kinda the way someone who's under a car starts to think it would've been a good idea to look both ways before crossing the street, but nothing would have convinced them to do it beforehand.

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on March 16, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

And among the most cynical aspects of "making the tax cuts permanent" is the idea of abolishing the estate tax, which under current law affects under 1% of all estates. Under current law, the first $2,000,000 is exempt; married couples can exempt $4,000,000. When they say "Make the tax cuts permanent" they don't mean "freeze the estate tax where it is now" which would not be a bad idea they mean "freeze the estate tax at zero." This is a dishonest polling question.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on March 16, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

One dumb thing about the question: it says "phone calls between suspected terrorists in other countries and American citizens in the United States" - with no comment on which way the calls are going. I thought it mattered, in that many argue (semi-convincingly to me) that calls from outside are arguably fair game in the general legal sense for intercept, but not those going out. Of course, we still need to reconcile it all with FISA... and many claim the process has been abused anyway - any more on that? Remember that reference to a reporter?

Posted by: Neil' on March 16, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

delegates power to the Congress to write the laws and power to the President to "faithfully execute" them
Oh, that's what the hell you were talking about.

There were several court cases establishing the right of the President to intercept communication into and out of the United States for national security reasons. Even the FISA court agreed with this.

Now if intercepting said communications is a right of the President, then Congress cannot take it away from him because of that separation of powers.

And you're correct, that is not a matter of right or left.

Here's what interests me, I comment about the ongoing rallying cry to throw all the non-moonbats from the Democratic Party; and you respond to that with a one-sided appraisal of the NSA program. Then you call me stoopid.

Good work.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 16, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Uli writes: Repubs now control the govt. in spite of the impeachment, not because of it.

That, sirs and mesdames, is just another way of saying the Repukes never paid a thin red cent worth's of political damage as a result of the impeachment. To be afraid to censure a president for breaking a law and violating the bill of rights is to be afraid of your own shadow.

Posted by: John on March 16, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Correct me if I'm wrong, law talking guys, but I don't think a warrant is the same as a court order.

Posted by: Boronx on March 16, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

a warrant is one kind of court order. In this case we're talking about a court order to search something, i.e., listen in on conversations.

Posted by: John on March 16, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

When you say things like "Next time, though, I hope we either let our leadership lead or else fire them," you're showing a little faux naivete yourself, aren't you, Kevin? In this Democratic Party, with our current Democratic Senate, there's no way to show leadership if you don't just get up and start doing it. As soon as Democrats go behind closed doors, we can be sure they're discussing and strategizing to make sure they won't have to lead. If Democrats had shown ANY leadership on ANYthing in the Senate over the past 12 years, I'd say you've got a point about relying on the current leadership of the Party. But who have we had? Gephardt? Daschle? Now Reid (reportedly better but he's failed at everything he's tried so far) and Pelosi (also better, but also essentially a loser). Why would anyone who wants to distinguish himself in the Democratic Party as a leader follow or wait around for those losers to lead? And why should I trust anything you have to say about leadership when you take such quick, and snarky offense at someone who's actually doing it?

Posted by: NealB on March 16, 2006 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK


I totally have to disagree with Mr Drum on this.
I am completely convinced that Russ Feingold harbored no illusions about getting any support for his resolution.

However, Feingold was the only oen to vote against the Patriot act, and he has constistently been a civil right advocate in senate.

This is a matter of getting things on the record. When the law broken so flagrantly, adn we have the culprits' confession in public, Feingold is doing his duty, according to his conscience.

The purpose was served, namely to inform the american people that the president broke the law.

That the other democrats are not lining up behind him is not a big deal. That's just realpolitik. One can discuss wether it is the right thing or wrong thing to do, morally, or politically. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation, that is best handled by getting it on the record, and leaving it at that.

The game being played by democrats right now, are wedge issues, except this time not to drive a wedge between voters, but a wedge between congress and president. I think we will get lots of issues similar to the the Dubai affair, where republicans will have to chose between president and public opinion. In all those cases democrats will go WITH public opinion, and they will grind support fro president and or republican congress to bits, slowly but steadily.

It will lead republicans do do some Bush bashing of their own if they want to remain popular in their home states, and we are seeing signs this is already happening. The republican pirate ship is cracking up and sinking.

This will be an easy ride for democrats.

Posted by: bugritpundit on March 16, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Kevin,

apparently we've done a lousy job of mobilizing public opinion against the NSA wiretapping program.

Please see your 1:04 post.

That is all,

justmy2

Posted by: justmy2 on March 16, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Kevin,

I sure hope we win in November, but as near as I can tell a lot of commenters here don't really care about that. Sure, Feingold's censure motion makes us all feel good, but the way he went about it was politically stupid. He's a big boy and knows better. This is more about cementing his reputation than about actually trying to get support for censure.

Please see your post at 1:04pm.

That is all.

justmy2

Posted by: justmy2 on March 16, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

All right, cn, I'll bite, what is your Vision for America? Have you been trying to tell us that it does NOT include the "values" of George Bush? But that in fact you are just waiting for the love from the dem-socialist POV?

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 16, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

They're lying again.

The question is bogus:

Using wiretaps to listen to telephone calls between suspected terrorists in other countries and American citizens in the United States without getting a court order to do so

But the FISA law (50 U.S.C. 1801) defines "electronic surveillances" under the act to be those that target a "United States person". If the call is between a "suspected terrorist[]" overseas, and a "U.S. person", FISA doesn't even apply, and a warrant is not needed ... if they're targeting the "suspected terrorist" (and as long as they're not physically doing the snooping on domestic soil). It's like the Mafia don calling their tailor; no warrant on the tailor is needed to listen to the tailor's half of the conversation ... as long as they're not tapping the tailor's phone and listening to all his calls, whether to the don, or their wife, or whoever. The warrant allows for the "associate" (the other end of the conversation) to be recorded as long as the call is to or from the "target". And the "target" ought to be the "suspected terrorist[]" (for whom, not being a "U.S. person", no warrant is needed).

So the situation above is legal, as long as the snoop is on the "suspected terrorist" abroad.

Wrong question.

I still don't know why people don't point this quite simple and straight-forward fact out. This is the way the law works and has essentially always worked. What Dubya seems to be wanting to do is to "target" U.S. persons; to snoop on all calls of people here he thinks (or alleges) are "terrorist buddies", without a warrant, and even without probable cause vetted by a judge, to do the snoop.

Cheers,

Posted by: Arne Langsetmo on March 16, 2006 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

We also have to keep pointing out that Dubya lied to us: He said, while the program was ongoing, that for surveillances, you need a warrant. Or maybe he was telling the truth, and simply admitting he knew he was breaking the law....

Either way, he's a whistle-ass unfit to be preznit.

Cheers,

Posted by: Arne Langsetmo on March 16, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Ace
All right, cn, I'll bite, what is your Vision for America? Have you been trying to tell us that it does NOT include the "values" of George Bush? But that in fact you are just waiting for the love from the dem-socialist POV?
Dang, you guys are just jumping around on this thread. First, I don't want any love from socialists. Socialism is a failed idealogy, and the fact that the Dems are pursuing it is what makes them an utterly non-viable alternative.

On including the values of GW, I can't tell you that, because darn if I can figure out what his values are.

My vision. I believe in a strong US, economically strong, and militarily strong. Economic strength comes from growth, not from redistribution. Wealth is not fixed, do not treat it that way. And economic growth is what lifts people out of poverty. I was reading a guy's calculations a while back proving that there were no poor people in the US. Because the amount the government spent on the poor was sufficient to raise all the poor people above the poverty line. I suppose you've noticed that we still have poor people, so what good has transferring wealth done for them? (The author no doubt stroked the numbers, but consider that our poverty rate is not decreasing even with the amount we spend. So there is a point even given the numbers were stroked>

On the other hand, the sheer economic growth of the US means that our poor people have cars and color TVs. There was a visitor to the US that wanted to see "fat poor people". Our poor are well off by world standards, because of our economic growth.

And militarily strong because the world ain't filled with love yet. If it is desired to do something about Darfur, who's going to do it absent the US? And Yugoslavia: Europe begged us into that one because they collectively didn't have the moxie. And Saddam's old incursion into Kuwait? And don't even think about starting with the "imperialistic" bullshit. As the man said, the US has only asked for enough land to bury her dead.

But I'll make a deal with you on the military. When the rest of the world loves one another, I'll talk with you about reducing our military.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 17, 2006 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for biting, but you strike out as usual.

You base your political left vs right view on economic theories. That make no sense.

Dems are not socialists. You apparently have no clue about socialism. Having a welfare state is not counter to economic growth. Which is why Europe is where it is happening now, and why US is lagging behind. Not because they have socialism, but because their citizens are in pursuit of happiness. They're pursuing the american dream, while america is living the neocon nightmare.

My advice:
Learn, and more importantly, understand economics.

Learn, and more importantly, understand internatinal affairs.

And what kind of goblefygok is your comments about "not enough love in the world", as an argument for wasting even more money on military. The reason we spend so much on military now, is because wingnuts are using it to push a political agenda. It is by far the most expensive way to get anything done.

$300B in IRAQ only brought death and destruction.
You could have airdropped enough dollar bills to blanket the country, $15,000 per Iraqi citizen, enough dough to house and feed them for 10 years.

Iraq being a low price economy, it would be like dropping half a million dollars per capita over USA.

Does it make sense airdropping dollars? Nope. But it shoews how little sese it makes to use massive military power to push a political agenda.

US spends much more on miulitary than any other contry, while not being able to provide basic healtcare to a large portion of the population. These kinds of political priorities might make sense if you're a military dictator, but for USA it is taxing our economy, and our reputation.

If you want military dicatorship, you should vote republican. But stop pretending it's "freedom on the march". Stop the charade and put Idi Amin on the ticket.

Posted by: bugritpundit on March 17, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Europe is where it is happening now
GDP growth
- France 1.5%
- Germany 0.8%
- US 3.5%
It apparently isn't happening in Europe as fast as it's happening in the US.

And I'm not going to take the time with you to point out extensive parallels between Marx and Democratic policy. But I'll give you a few hints:
- Steeply progressive taxation for wealth redistribution
- Businesses filling social needs instead of pursuing profit
- Instigating class warfare
- Heavy government regulation of business
And keep in mind that a third of Dem House members belong a caucus founded by socialists. This is part of the current plan of the socialists to hide behind the Democratic Party. It's all on their website.

$300B in IRAQ only brought death and destruction.
I thought they were rid of a totalitarian ruler and have been holding elections. Gosh, I guess I'll have to review my knowledge base.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 17, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I decided to look up a few more GDP growth rates for you in economically booming Europe
Belgium 1.5%
UK 1.8%
Switzerland 1.2%
Italy 0.0%

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 17, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, there it is, the GDP growth of the European Union as a whole: 1.7%

About half the growth of the US.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 17, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

cn...

are those eurpoean govenrments racking up hundreds of billions of spending using deficits like the u-s?

do you know?

Posted by: thisspaceavialable on March 17, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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