Monday, January 31, 2005

Feingold Buzz in the Blogosphere

Looks like the Senator's trip to Florida has led to more speculation about his presidential ambitions and prospects around the net:

The Florida article was the subject of discussion at Daily Kos, and also led Tim Tagaris at the Swing State Project to wonder about Feingold's presidential chances.

Meanwhile, Chris Bowers at listed the ten Democrats he sees as most likely to run in 2008, and in his tentative cattle call he listed Senator Feingold as third most likely to get the nomination, after Hillary Clinton and John Edwards! It's just one man's opinion, but I'll take it!

Finally, conservative Corey at did a power ranking of the who he sees as the 50 most likely Democratic candidates, and Feingold is seventh. Not bad.

In fact, all of this Feingold buzz is very good; we've got the beginnings of a great netroots campaign that could make Russ Feingold the next President of the United States! Let's keep it going!

EDIT: Also, Ron Gunzburger at talks about Feingold's Florida trip. Ron got to meet Russ and have his picture taken with him...lucky guy!


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Feingold in Florida

Looks like Senator Feingold headed south again last week, going to Daytona Beach, Florida. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported on a speech he gave. Among the highlights:

In Bush's first term, Feingold opposed the president's policies on the Iraq war, USA Patriot Act, Medicare reform, education policy, environmental regulation and abortion rights. He made clear he was leaving his own presidential options open after a club member asked if he plans to run.

For now, Feingold said, he wants to be "part of the process" of identifying a candidate likely to succeed George W. Bush in 2008. That involves helping to create "national organizations of people to make that happen," he said.

A decision to run hinges on "whether I feel I'll be the best candidate to win," he said, adding, "I'm not going to even worry about that right now."

I also like this comment of the Senator's:

Club member Al Smith, a local physician and registered Democrat, asked Feingold if "the party can stand another liberal from the Northeast (as a candidate) and still survive as a party?"
Feingold replied that the country is looking for a candidate they can feel connected to, whether liberal or conservative.
I think that's true. I don't think that many people really felt strongly that John Kerry's positions were too liberal, I think Kerry had a hard time putting his positions forward in a way that connected with people. I liked Kerry, but I never felt that connected to him.

Of course, as a Midwesterner, I think there is a big difference between nominating a liberal from the northeast and a liberal from the Midwest. But that's just my bias.

Thanks to Daniel S. for posting this story at The Kentucky Democrat, or else I might not have found it!


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Talkin' John Ashcroft Confirmation Vote Blues

Actually, I'll also be talkin' about Condi Rice and Alberto Gonzales, I just saw a chance for a tribute to an old Bob Dylan song title, so I had to take it.

As you all probably know, four years ago Senator Feingold voted to confirm John Ashcroft as Attorney General. Since then I have seen a number of Democrats online declare they'd never vote for Feingold for President because of that vote. To those Democrats I respectfully ask: "Are you freakin' kidding me?!" Sorry, I don't believe in one issue voting, so one vote seven years ago (from 2008) voting makes no sense to me.

Senator Feingold has repeatedly stated that he believes a president deserves to have his cabinet nominees confirmed regardless of ideology as long as they are capable of doing the job. This is different from judicial nominees, as Senator Feingold explains in this great 2002 Progressive Magazine interview:

Q: Any regrets on your Ashcroft vote?
Feingold: No. It was the right vote. When the President picks someone who is his ideological soul mate, that's his right, in my reading of "advise and consent." I do think, though, the more you get up the ladder, when someone is no longer accountable to the President, and more importantly, will stay in office after the President, the standard gets tougher and tougher.
Q: You mean for judges?
Feingold: Well, first, independent commissioners. People whose terms go for five years or longer, like FCC commissioners. That's a higher standard. Then district judges, who are appointed for a lifetime but can be overruled. Then Court of Appeals judges. They're not the highest level, but they're almost the final word. And then, of course, the Supreme Court.

I was not pleased by Ashcroft's confirmation but after thinking about it I came to understand and appreciate Senator Feingold's reasons for his vote. But to those who disagree with the Senator's confirmation vote for Ashcroft, I say remember that was only one vote. Look at the rest of the Senator's record, throughout the first Bush term-he was one of the most consistent fighters for progressive causes. Many of the Senators who opposed Ashcroft supported the war in Iraq. Some supported the Bush tax cuts. All supported the PATRIOT Act. Look at the Senator's whole voting record. I agree with Feingold's comments in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel piece from 2001:

Feingold argues that his position has been more consistent than that of lawmakers who opposed the attorney general's confirmation but have gone along with the policies.

"If you think about it for a minute, that's clearly the odd thing. To say, 'I'm worried about what John Ashcroft is going to do about civil liberties, therefore I will vote against him,' and then when he does something bad about civil liberties, you vote for it - that doesn't make sense," Feingold said.

Because of his stated views on Cabinet confirmation votes, I honestly was neither surprised or disappointed by Feingold's vote for Rice. I never bought into the argument that "a vote for Rice is a vote for war and for torture"; voting to confirm a Cabinet nominee isn't voting to support their views or past actions. If that were the case, I'd want the Democrats to oppose all of Bush's nominees, because I must disagree with them on some policy. But if you were disappointed in the Senator's vote to confirm Condi, keep on watching his votes throughout this second term. I am confident he will continue to be a consistent supporter of progressive views, including human rights and a sane foreign policy.

More surprising to me is his vote AGAINST confirming Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. I think his statement on the vote is definitely worth reading. The Senator states that he is voting against Gonzales:
Not because he is too conservative, or because I disagree with a specific policy position he has taken, but because I am not convinced that he possesses the abiding respect for the rule of law that our country needs in these difficult times in its Attorney General.

That's very troubling. I did not get to watch Gonzales's confirmation hearings, but from Senator Feingold's statement it sounds like Gonzales didn't even try to give the "right" answer to some very important questions. As I said, I haven't been too interested in opposing Bush's cabinet nominees, but Senator Feingold's statement really makes me worried. I hope everyone who has Democratic or moderate Republican Senators will contact them and urge them to oppose Gonzales's nomination. As the Madison Capital Times writes:
Before the Gonzales nomination is considered by the full Senate, wavering Democrats and Republicans who are generally inclined to back President Bush should reflect on Feingold's concerns. If Alberto Gonzales failed to pass the Feingold test, then, surely, he should not be confirmed as attorney general.


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Nader: Feingold would be a good President

Last weekend (January 8), I was watching Tim Russert's self-titled hour-long interview show on MSNBC (or CNBC) and his guest for the entire hour was Ralph Nader. Toward the end of the interview, Russert asked Nader who (besides himself) he'd most like to see as President; the first name Nader mentioned was Henry Waxman...and the next was, yep, Russ Feingold. (He also said Ted Kennedy would have been a good president.) Nader later mentioned that he was going to be meeting with some Democratic senators, including Minority Leader Reid, Barack Obama, and Feingold.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a transcript or video clip of this show online-if someone else can, please email me. However, I was able to find this old 1998 press release where Nader endorses Feingold for reelection. It's a pretty powerful statement on Feingold's behalf, and was made after Nader had already made his first run as a Green Party candidate in 1996.

I know a lot of Democrats, from all parts of the party, wish Nader would just shut up, but that's not gonna happen. And there is still a significant number of people out there who admire Nader, and vote for him, for the Greens, or don't vote. While some of these people are far-left ideologues would never vote for a Democrat, most of them would be Democrats-if the Democrats had a candidate who solidly stood up for their traditional values.

Some of Nader's issues are weird, but most of them-the environment, corporate responsibility, fair trade, worker's rights, universal health care-are traditionally Democratic issues. I think that Feingold is the best candidate who could appeal to Nader's followers while also appealing to more moderate voters, with his fiscal conservatism and personal integrity. Many Democrats would just like to ignore or berate Nader's followers, Greens, liberal independents, etc., but they should be reminded that having a "big tent" party can't just mean reaching out more to the center-right.

And now for the exciting personal disclosure the 2000 election, at the age of 19, I cast my vote in the state of Missouri for Ralph Nader for President. Some of my reasons for doing so seem dumb and naive (I supported Bradley in the primary and didn't like the way Gore treated him; I actually thought the Greens could become a national third party) some I feel are still legitimate (Nader talked about issues like poverty and corporate power that I care about-and that Gore basically ignored; the exclusion of third party candidates from the Presidential debates is disgraceful).

Soon after that, I realized that in order to win in modern American politics you have to be in one of the major parties-and you can't change things if you don't win. Since then, I have worked for Democratic campaigns for Senate, President, and Congress and have voted for the Dems in all elections, save a few city offices.

But still...I WAS A TEENAGE NADERITE! Feel free to blame all your problems from the last four years on me.


Friday, January 14, 2005

More from the Journal-Sentinel

Earlier this week the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel featured an article titled "Bigger Things Seem Possible for Feingold"; it's a good piece, read it here if you haven't already.

Among the interesting pieces of information in this article: Feingold was recently made a Deputy Whip for the Senate Democrats. It kind of surprises me that they'd give him a leadership position, since he's a maverick, but it's great news. I feel good knowing my two favorite senators, Feingold and Durbin, both have places in the party's Senate leadership.

There's also this quote from Feingold's recent Senate campaign manager:

"There is no doubt that Sen. Feingold will be looked at as a new voice for the party as it moves forward," Aldrich wrote in a statement. "He has every intention of continuing to use his voice to build the party, to speak out on important issues and to advance a progressive reform agenda that not only has a lot of support in Wisconsin but across the country."
Sounds good!

Also quoted in the article are Charlie Wishman and Eric Hungerford of

And speaking of, make sure to check out the discussion forums over there, I recently joined under the incredibly original name BloggerDan.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Senator Feingold: Goin' South and...Wearin' Ascots?!

Many of you have probably already read Senator Feingold's article, originally written for Salon, and recently reprinted in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, describing his experience and thoughts during a recent golfing vacation in Alabama. For those that haven't I encourage you to check it out. Here is a key section:

"Now some may think that Alabama and Wisconsin are the polar opposites of American politics.

But in both states I've found that (along with sharing a sincere appreciation of a good turkey dinner) too many hardworking people are losing their battles for decent paying jobs and adequate health care.

I'm tired of seeing the power-hungry persuade the hard-working people of this country that the only way to preserve important values is to vote against their own families' basic interests.

I believe that the working people of both states have sacrificed for other people's agendas for too long.

And I believe that any political party or political movement or political candidate who would consistently say this would be heard throughout America."

I definitely agree with Senator Feingold here: there is a national audience for a Democratic Party that puts forth a consistent economic populist message. I don't know if turning the red states blue is that easy, but we should give it a shot.

The Journal-Sentinel also printed a response from a Greenville, Alabama resident who, to put it mildly, disagrees. It's basically straight out liberal bashing, at one point comparing Feingold to the Bolsheviks. However, it is worth reading if only to get another perspective...And it's pretty amusing when the writer imagines that Senator Feingold "dons his smoking jacket and ascot and sips his cognac while sitting in his winged-backed chair by the fire." Does anyone have pictures of Senator Feingold in his smoking jacket and ascot? I'd like to see that!

Seriously, though, while I admire Senator Feingold (obviously) and agree with his message, I can see while some in Greenville and other parts of the south may have be angered by the piece and by the whole economic populist argument. Unfortunately, it can come off as arrogant and patronizing (i.e. "You silly poor southerners! You should care about health care, not abortion!") playing in to the liberal elitist stereotype. That said, I think Senator Feingold was very respectful and admiring of Alabamans in the article...But, then, I'm not from Greenville.

A final note, the Journal-Sentinel says that Greenville's mayor has invited Feingold back to see more of the city and the Senator agreed. I think that is good news. In Wisconsin, Feingold is known for having "listening sessions" in every county each year. Hopefully, when Senator Feingold returns to Greenville he'll have a listening session there, so he can hear what the people there are concerned about, not just tell them what they should be concerned about. That's the best way to get rid of the liberal elitist tag (well, after losing the ascot and smoking jacket...), and I think if he does that the people of Greenville will come away respecting him, if not agreeing with him on everything.


I'm Back!

Hello, anybody who's still checking this blog! I just wanted to say that I am back home in St. Louis with my computer and Internet access. I'll be going through the comments and the emails from the Yahoo group, so expect some more postings soon.

Hopefully, I won't have to be away from Internet access for this long again.

Who links to me?