The Nature of Things: Crossover voting

The Nature of Things: There's more than one kind of SPAM

Maybe I'm getting overly optimistic about something that is just an aberration in politics, but are we beginning to see some chinks in the armor of the political left?

It should not go unnoticed that California's Sen. Diane Feinstein accused the Sierra Club of obstructionist behavior for lobbying against a bill to allow some thinning and fireproofing in the overcrowded forests of the West. Sen. Feinstein, who is about as liberal as one can get without falling off the charts, had been working with Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, who is one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, on legislation to get some management back in our national forests. It's too bad there isn't more of this kind of cooperation between political rivals when there are problems that can be resolved by working together.

Apparently Sen. Feinstein was getting sick of seeing her state's beautiful forests go up in smoke every year, so she decided that saving our forests was more important than getting the green votes and campaign money from the Sierra Club. Of course the sticking point of the Craig/Feinstein bill was the language which would have removed some of the restrictions that permitted endless obstructions by injunctions and lawsuits to disallow any use of chain saws to thin the fuel loads in our overcrowded forests. Without that language, the bill could never accomplish anything.

Another landmark victory for common sense came from Sen. Barbara Boxer. Sen. Boxer has a long record of voting against gun ownership and is right up there with senators Shumer, Kennedy and Clinton in fighting the National Rifle Association. But guess what ... she voted to allow the arming of airline pilots so they can shoot hijackers.

The reason she strayed from the pack of gun-haters in her party was that she was horrified to learn that the next line of defense against what happened on Sept. 11 was to order the Air Force to shoot down any hijacked plan before it could crash into any more of our shrines of democracy in America.

There are some risks involved by the two senators from California. The radical greens from their party don't look kindly on any politician who deserts their cause and are quick to demonize anyone who departs from their agenda. So where will these extremists go with their votes and money? Probably they will add their support for Ralph Nader's Green Party. (And by the way, thanks to Ralph for helping put George Bush in the White House)

While we're on the subject of senators who go their own way by voting the opposite of their party's agenda, something needs to be said about Oregon's Sen. Gordon Smith, the only Republican senator on the West Coast. Sen. Smith did just the opposite from Feinstein. He voted to please the Sierra Club on drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge ... instead of supporting the Bush administration's energy will, which would make America more self-reliant of foreign oil.

I can't believe that with his knowledge of the almost zero impact that drilling will cause on this frozen wasteland that he was voting his conscience. In my opinion, he was trolling for the green vote. he was so intent on getting re-elected in his Senate race with Bill Bradbury, who was the darling of Oregon's environmentalists, that he wanted to show his "greenness" by voting "no" on drilling.

I'll bet that if the politically astute senator from Pendleton would research the votes that gave him an impressive win, he will find that green voters all voted for Bradbury anyway. You don't win these extremists over by just tossing them a bone now and then. they only tolerate politicians who vote their way ALL of the time.

Other than that, Sen. Smith is a great guy. It's just that he should remember who sent him to Washington in the first place. If he will stay with the conservative agenda of his constituents, his re-election will take care of itself.

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