Does Sen. Smith Believe in the Rule of Law?

By Dave Lewis of Wilsonville, Oregon. Dave describes himself as a life-long progressive, a part-time portrait photographer, and a frequent volunteer for the Democratic Party of Oregon.

On Monday, Jan. 28, 2008, Sen. Gordon Smith voted to invoke cloture against Sen. Chris Dodd's filibuster of an amendment to the FISA Amendments Act of 2007. (Thank you Sen. Dodd!) The passage of this amendment would have resulted in giving retroactive immunity to the telecommunication companies and to President Bush and his administration for any of the crimes committed related to the domestic spying on US citizens which was done without legal warrants. Sen. Ron Wyden understands the protections provided to citizens by the Constitution of the United States and as a result he voted no on cloture.

Full Senate Roll Call on Cloture

Clearly, the only reason to provide retroactive immunity is if laws were broken. There is significant testimony that the telecoms and the administration have been performing illegal wiretaps on US citizens long before 9/11 (it started 2 months after Bush took office):

Phone companies punished for refusing to comply with NSA program

Wanrantless wiretapping in place before 9/11

By voting for cloture Gordon Smith was accepting and affirming the act of breaking the law. He could actually have been independent and a statesman at the same time by saying no to the illegal wiretapping of US citizens by voting no on cloture. Instead he decided to support the lawlessness of both Pres. Bush's administration and the telecoms.

I personally do not want to see a Senator (or Representative) from Oregon engaging in legislation that promotes breaking the law. If Gordon Smith votes this way now in this case, he can do it again. Gordon Smith must be held accountable.

And Gordon Smith claims to be a member of the party of values? I think I now understand which values: $$$$$

Comments

  • genop (unverified)
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    Rule of law? No, but he does believe in the twisted golden rule: "Those with the gold rule"

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    Very well put, Dave. You've laid the heart of the matter open where everyone can see that Gordon Smith in fact does not believe in the rule of law.

    Jeff Merkley does believe in the rule of law and will make Oregonians proud of his votes in the Senate.

  • BCM (unverified)
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    "Jeff Merkley does believe in the rule of law and will make Oregonians proud of his votes in the Senate."

    Warning: High levels of improbability.

    Resolution: [we] (1) Acknowledge the courage of President George W. Bush, the President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, and express our support for the victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power; and

    (2) Praise the courage, dedication, professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States and their families in the defense of freedom.

    Jeff Merkley: Yes.

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    Posted by: BCM | Jan 30, 2008 1:53:49 PM

    Omitting context for the purposes of leading the reader/listener to a logically fallacious conclusion is a classic reich-wing tactic.

  • BCM (unverified)
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    You're right, I need to add context. The fact is that Merkley was for the War in Iraq before he was against it.

    2003-Votes for war resolution above.

    2007-"Jeff Merkley opposed George Bush's Iraq policy from the beginning."

  • dddave (unverified)
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    Rule of Law? Like you blueheads are taking Sleepy Ted to the woodshed for looking the other way all this time on the DMV giving Oregon drivers licenses to illegal aliens? Oh yeah, this is dem land, being consistent not required...

  • dddave (unverified)
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    Oh, almost forgot, you guys also mean the rule of law about annual sessions for the legislature? Emergency now means "whatever the hell we say it is" ?? God, please give us sessions every 5 years so they can have less opportunity to "help" us.

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    "Sleepy Ted to the woodshed for looking the other way all this time on the DMV giving Oregon drivers licenses to illegal aliens?"

    One doesn't need to look away; it's GOOD to give licenses to undocumented aliens. Unless you prefer being hit by someone without insurance because they can't get a license...

  • LT (unverified)
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    Thanks TJ! That's what I think. And as I recall, that is what Gov. Richardson said they do in NM.

  • Dave Lewis (unverified)
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    "God, please give us sessions every 5 years so they can have less opportunity to "help" us."

    Do you wait 5 years to go to your physician when you have a medical issue that needs to be addressed? Why would you want the legislature to not meet in a timely manner to take care of state issues?

    Is the Governor's actions illegal or are they merely an irritant to your point of view? I honestly am not familiar with the legal aspects of what you are claiming. Can you state what law is being broken? I will quickly cede your point if an actual law has been broken else I won't.

    If his actions are merely an irritant to your point of view then what the Governor has done (in your opinion) does not compare in the slightest to the act of subverting the Constitution of US by approving the use of illegal wiretaps on US citizens.

  • Tlaloc (unverified)
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    Here's my take on Smith: Swords crossed

    I don't particularly expect most here to agree, but if you want to know how people who think of themselves as progressives, and not democrats might look at the issue, take a gander.

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    See, that's my thought too, TJ. I understand the opposition to it and taken in a vacuum (kinda like BCM's dishonest characterization of Merkley's vote) it makes sense to deny a driver's license to those here illegally. But it's impractical as hell to actually go that route, and for the very reason you cite.

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    Kevin and LT agree with torridjoe! I'm storing the cache on this one!

    Someone's driving Lord, Kumbaya!

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    LOL - the burning question is, who is driving?

  • Dave Lewis (unverified)
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    "God, please give us sessions every 5 years so they can have less opportunity to "help" us."

    Do you wait 5 years to go to your physician when you have a medical issue that needs to be addressed? Why would you want the legislature to not meet in a timely manner to take care of state issues?

    Is the Governor's actions illegal or are they merely an irritant to your point of view? I honestly am not familiar with the legal aspects of what you are claiming. Can you state what law is being broken? I will quickly cede your point if an actual law has been broken else I won't.

    If his actions are merely an irritant to your point of view then what the Governor has done (in your opinion) does not compare in the slightest to the act of subverting the Constitution of US by approving the use of illegal wiretaps on US citizens.

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    Tlaloc,

    You are quite right that convincing folks like yourself to vote for the Dem candidate, along with strong & well aimed GOTV, is what it will take for Dems to defeat Smith.

    Having been represented or governed by genuinely moderate Republicans in olden times (Sen. Ed Brooke as a kid in Mass., moderate R governor in the early '70s, Lowell Weicker in Conn. in the '80s, Mark Hatfield a bit to the right of those guys in college here late '70s, & the hard to pigeonhole Bob Packwood), to me Smith does not seem to me moderate, just not ultra-conservative. Santorum is an extremist. The other PA senator, Arlen Specter, I would consider a moderate; Smith is well to the right of him.

    You point out the difficulty that voting out relatively moderate Rs makes the R party more uniformly conservative; having erred once in voting for the execrable Joe Lieberman over Lowell Weicker I understand the point. But the question to my mind about that with Smith is, does he ever really try to influence the R party in a less extreme direction? My view would be no.

    For me this particular vote and more generally willingness to part ways with Bush over civil liberties issues & his assaults on the constitution are a pretty good test of whether an R is moderate (or a D conservative, for that matter). On that score Gordon Smith flunks, as do a lot of other putative R moderates (e.g. Collins & Snowe from Maine).

    Smith's cooperation with Wyden shows that on some things he will put Oregon/NW interests ahead of party interests, but I do not see any evidence that he tries to moderate his party on the whole. And, of course, there is the question of which Oregon / NW interests he favors on issues where there are divided interests here. On those he is pretty uniformly conservative.

  • Tlaloc (unverified)
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    "You are quite right that convincing folks like yourself to vote for the Dem candidate, along with strong & well aimed GOTV, is what it will take for Dems to defeat Smith."

    I honestly hope the dem nominee is a solid contender, if he/she is (both current possibles are men, right?) then I'm very likely to vote for them. I just don't want the local democratic machine to think they can put a bowl of jello up and expect us all to vote for it because it is Bowl-of-Jello (D). :)

    (although I would vote for the Jello if we were talking about a Santorum-esque incumbent. I'd vote that Jello in a heartbeat.)

    "to me Smith does not seem to me moderate, just not ultra-conservative."

    I can understand that, although I think we have to recognize that politics have shifted a ways to the right since then.

    "But the question to my mind about that with Smith is, does he ever really try to influence the R party in a less extreme direction? My view would be no."

    Well I'd assume that out of survival instinct (and I think we can all agree Smith has those) he tries to keep the Rep party from leaving him behind in a march rightward. Furthermore his very presence means the party as a whole is more moderate, even if he does nothing to actively shift it. Aspiring congressmen are certainly going to look at what has worked for others in terms of being successful. I want them looking at Smith, and not Kyl or Allen.

  • Tlaloc (unverified)
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    Sorry I had to run to a Dr.s appt. I wanted to address the rest of your comment though.

    "For me this particular vote and more generally willingness to part ways with Bush over civil liberties issues & his assaults on the constitution are a pretty good test of whether an R is moderate (or a D conservative, for that matter). On that score Gordon Smith flunks, as do a lot of other putative R moderates (e.g. Collins & Snowe from Maine)."

    I can understand that being a "line in the sand" kind of thing. I've viewed it more as an example of the republicans being extremely adroit at keeping their people in line. I wish the dems had half that much solidarity most days.

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    Tlaloc, Fair enough, though I'd say it's not so much solidarity as discipline (now playing, Gordon Smith in "Of Senatorial Bondage ...) and another reason why Smith's putative moderation ain't all its cracked up to be.

    Moderate isn't in my view a word whose meaning shifts with the political spectrum. Smith seems to me to be pretty solidly in the middle of the Republican part of the current spectrum, but the rightward shift about which you are absolutely correct means exactly that the R party has become immoderate, has virtually kicked out all moderates.

    (Moderately) reasonable people can disagree about that, though, I suppose. In a way that's the nub of it -- to my mind moderation isn't so much an ideological position as an amenability to reason. Which doesn't get you around the problem of the basic assumptions from which reasoning starts, of course.

    <h2>Like what you say about Jell-o (I went to school with someone whose father allegedly was the one who put the hyphen in Jell-o) -- my position in 2004 was that I would vote for a fire hydrant for president before I'd vote for Bush -- someone commenting in the same discussion allowed that was o.k., as long as I wouldn't vote for Joe Lieberman. :-)</h2>
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