Patterico's Pontifications

10/28/2023

Constitutional Vanguard: The Republican Party Will Eventually Be Wrong About Everything — Including Israel

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:53 am



Hi. It’s been a while. My latest newsletter is an 8,000-word rant on how the Republican Party is wrong about almost everything under the sun–mainly except for issues based on identity politics. We all know how the GOP sucks on Donald Trump, the 2020 election, vaccinations, contempt for law enforcement and for the importance of character in our leaders, and so forth. I go over all of this and more in detail. But where I think I add the most value is in discussing one of the issues the GOP sucks on that has received relatively little attention: renewal of section 702 of FISA. I explain that there are sound reasons and dumb reasons to oppose section 702 renewal:

The sound reason that section 702 is controversial is because it was designed to target foreign nationals and not U.S. citizens—but controversies have arisen about the extent to which that surveillance scoops up incidental communications with U.S. citizens, and how to handle those communications.

A recent report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) discusses how the FBI in particular (the NSA does a better job) tends to abuse its access to the incidental information thus collected. The members of the PCLOB all think section 702 information is critical. But in terms of dealing with the abuses, the board’s members split on their recommendations for addressing this issue. All of the board members agree that some reform needs to happen, but they disagree as to what, exactly, should happen.

One recommendation, supported by the majority of the PCLOB, is to have the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) authorize any query of the incidentally collected information for information about a U.S. person. But even among that majority, there is disagreement. Two members would require the FISC to conclude that the query would be “reasonably likely to retrieve” foreign intelligence information or evidence of a crime (for the FBI). The third member of the majority would require this decision to be made according to a higher “probable cause” standard.

The two members in the minority do not want to involve the FISC in these decisions, but instead want to institute reforms in the FBI—to fix its “structure and culture,” improve auditing and compliance, and codify privacy and civil liberties protections for making such queries.

All of these are serious and weighty issues being discussed by adults, and should form no obstacle to renewing section 702, which is critical to our national security. The only question is: renewal on what terms? But this is a sensible and indeed necessary conversation.

And then we have the dumb reasons to oppose section 702 renewal—which, of course, is the stuff that Republicans yammer about. Basically you can boil it down to this: THE FBI DONE OUR PRESIDENT TRUMP WRONG WITH THAT THERE FISA AND WE GOTTA REPEAL IT!

At the end, for paid subscribers, I explain my theory that the GOP could end up being wrong on Israel too. It seems unthinkable now, doesn’t it? After all, the left is the side that is fanatically pro-Palestinian, and pushes easily debunked narratives about matters like the Israeli (OK, Palestinian) bombing of a hospital (OK, its parking lot) causing 500 deaths (OK, a small fraction of that). How could the GOP end up going down a similar road. Couldn’t happen, right?

I’m not so sure.

Donald Trump. Tucker Carlson. Vivek Ramaswamy. Senator Mike Lee. Jack Posobiec. Charlie Kirk. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Lauren Chen. Sounds like the lineup at next year’s CPAC, doesn’t it?

And they’re all parroting a similar line.

. . . .

So no, I’m not saying “Democrats are better than the GOP on Israel.” They’re not. But again, remember how the Ukraine issue started out. Republicans were basically solid on funding Ukraine, with a fringe right paleoconservative minority objecting. Democrats were reasonably solid too, but had their own fringe to contend with. Now, you don’t hear much more about the fringe on the left that opposes Ukraine funding. But the fringe on the right has taken over a larger and larger part of the GOP conference in Congress, aided by Trump’s hostility to Ukraine over insane 2020 election conspiracy theories. Now, it’s not clear a package containing aid for Ukraine will get past the House. And President Biden’s unwavering support for Ukraine seems to spur a lot of grassroots GOP voters into thinking that anything Biden supports must be bad. So opposition to Ukraine funding is now far-right orthodoxy, and they get spitting mad about it.

Is it really that tough to imagine something similar happening with Israel?

I pepper this section of the newsletter with specific examples of the New Right criticizing Israel and making noises about how we should not go to far in supporting Israel, from Trump praising Hezbollah, to Vivek Ramasmarmy saying “no money” for Israel, to Mike Lee retweeting a video of an insane Douglas Macgregor rant about Israel’s “war crimes,” to Lauren Chen praising Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes’s Deep Thoughts on the conflict, to Jack Posobiec comparing Israel’s actions to the bombing of Dresden . . . and, well, if that were not enough, there’s more. And I document it all.

If it seems unthinkable that the GOP could end up turning its back on Israel, just think back to how strong GOP support for Ukraine was over a year ago.

The New Right and Trumpism are still ascendant, and they are still incandescently stupid. That has consequences for everyone–including, possibly, even for Israel.

Read it here. Subscribe here.

16 Responses to “Constitutional Vanguard: The Republican Party Will Eventually Be Wrong About Everything — Including Israel”

  1. P.S. I have a note in the newsletter about how very very long it has been since my last newsletter. (I have obviously been neglecting this blog too.) There are reasons, but I still feel tremendously guilty about the paid subscribers. So for those folks, I have a small offer to try to make it right. If you’re a paid subscriber who has been thinking: “where’s my damn newsletter” scroll to the end of the newsletter for that note.

    Patterico (67a175)

  2. One quibble. While I have no issues with vaccination for me, I find that vaccinations for pets are terribly unvetted (npi) — it’s like a large number of deaths are acceptable.

    Particularly FELV for cats, which has killed 3 of my cats over the years (two with immediate and eventually fatal reactions, and one by way of a sarcoma at the injection site known to be caused by FELV).

    I’ve not had any issue with pets getting rabies shots, although they are less important (just as a measles shot is less important than a Covid shot as the herd is already immune). The incidence of rabies is so low that the human rabies vaccine usually needs to be flown in and most doctors haven’t a clue about symptoms.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  3. As for the GOP, I am constantly reminded of Darth Vader changing his deal with Lando in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s like a relationship that starts turning sour and gradually gets worse. I still have hope it can be turned around, as the California example of a failed GOP isn’t very attractive.

    Even if you do not support the GOP as it is, you should still be sending money to sane GOP candidates. Nikki Haley seems to agree with most of the objections that Patterico identifies, and she has an outside change of defeating Trump.

    I’m not real big on hand-wringing.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  4. Dear Patrick: I read until the end of the essay. I support you wholeheartedly. You are in my thoughts and prayers…but you are tough enough to need neither.

    Simon Jester (c2d90d)

  5. Oh, I’ll take both, Simon. Nobody is tough enough that they should reject a prayer or a kind thought. I appreciate it.

    Patterico (67a175)

  6. You are in my thoughts too, Patterico. Thank you for everything over all these years, and all my best wishes for you and your loved ones.

    nk (caf19a)

  7. Mike pence drops out of race because he is a traditional conservative and republican party is now POPULIST party! They are only wrong from a traditional conservative point of view not a populist one. The only place conservatism and populism intersect is on social issues like god, guns and gays.

    asset (146fb6)

  8. Great newsletter. Depressingly, unassailably accurate.

    lurker (cd7cd4)

  9. FISA surveillance was illegally misused, the FISA court was deceived, and when it’s discovered after being used in the grossest fashion, no one is punished.

    How can you reform that without punishment for wrongdoing? If you can’t punish wrongdoing, how can they be allowed to have the tool?

    Randolph Carter (d4138e)

  10. Constitutional amendment: The Attorney General is appointed by the losing presidential candidate.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  11. @10 deputy attorney general may get thru with congress making law.

    asset (143fda)

  12. You can punish them for something else – because anyone who intentionally did something wrong in one place, surely did something intentionally wrong somewhere else. That’s the entire principle behind the idea of punishing small crimes so people won’t do worse.

    Sammy Finkelman (0a5f89)

  13. The New York Post has en editorial about how (parts of?) the BI was protecting Biden or members of his family during the time Trump was president.

    tps://nypost.com/2023/10/29/opinion/grassley-letter-slams-pathetic-doj-biden-corruption-coverup

    In a bombshell letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, Sen. Chuck Grassley alleges that top Justice and FBI officials repeatedly, over the course of years, moved to shut down investigations into the Biden family.

    Grassley says more than 40 confidential sources provided “criminal information” related to Hunter Biden and others in the clan to the FBI — with those cases rapidly closed, largely because of bogus findings that it was all “foreign disinformation.”

    Per the senator, the FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act squad began investigating Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings in January 2016 — when Joe Biden was still vice president.

    It finishes:

    Again, all this happened in the Trump years, meaning top FBI and Justice officials were working to protect the Bidens on their own initiative — with Team Trump utterly oblivious.

    We have utmost regard for Grassley and the House investigators who are finally exposing these outrages, and we hope Republicans nominate a 2024 candidate who’s actually competent to root out this rot — not just rant about it.

    Sammy Finkelman (b434ee)

  14. I don’t expect any of the current group of candidates to “fix” the worst of Trump. let’s say we somehow get Nikki Haley as candidate and she wins. Will she be able to reverse Trumpism in 4 years? No
    Maybe one of the candidates is capable of being transformative, we just cannot see it now, but instead is capable of being transitional. I’ll take transitional over 4 more years of Biden followed by 8 years of, heaven forfend, Gavin Newsom

    steveg (762342)

  15. @14 Newsom/AOC or AOC/newsom if were lucky!

    asset (a35a9e)

  16. Bad lucky

    steveg (6050f6)


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