Saturday, February 26, 2005

Feingold Returns from Iraq Trip

As you may have known, Senator Feingold was part of a Senate delegation that visited Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tunisia during the past week. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a good article about the trip including Senator Feingold's thoughts on the current situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Below, I've quoted some of the more interesting parts of the article, but you should definitely read the whole thing.
Just back from a tour of Iraq and Afghanistan, Senate Democrat Russ Feingold said Friday he continues to view the ultimate success of the U.S. mission in Iraq as "dicey" and said the contrast with progress and security in Afghanistan is "striking."

"I am very concerned whether this situation (in Iraq) is moving in the right direction. It is very much in doubt in my view," said Feingold, who said the success of the recent Iraqi elections was "being exaggerated to some extent to the exclusion of many of the problems that remain."...

Feingold praised the U.S. troops he met with for showing "incredible courage and resolve."

But noting the severe constraints on the senators' movements in Iraq, Feingold said, "The fact that we were in that kind of a lockdown was one of the most important lessons" of the trip, emblematic of the security threats and lack of stability.

Other senators on the trip who had visited Iraq in 2003 said the security situation was markedly different this time, with much less freedom of movement and a far more fortified environment in Baghdad. ...

Feingold contended before the war that invading Iraq would not advance the fight against terrorism, and he has argued since then that ensuing events have validated his position.

Feingold said he also differs with the senators he traveled with over how to approach future U.S. troop withdrawals. While his colleagues oppose a timetable for getting out, Feingold said he believes a "timetable with conditions and flexibility is the way to go."

He argued that by laying out the path for withdrawal, the U.S. would help defuse the presence of American troops as a political issue for anti-American Iraqis. ...

Feingold said he was "heartened" about Afghanistan as a result of the trip, citing the attitudes of Afghanis toward the U.S. presence and the security situation.

Like Senator Feingold, I was opposed to the Iraq War from the beginning. I believe that Iraq didn't pose a serious threat to the United States at the time and that it had no real connection to terrorism. I think the case can definitely be made that the war in Iraq has made things worse in terms of terrorism by providing the terrorists with motivation, new recruits, and a new theater of activity.

I agree with the Senator about the benefits of having a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

I was really interested by the Senator's positive comments on Afghanistan; honestly, you don't hear much about Afghanistan in the media much more, but what I remember hearing wasn't very positive, although not as negative as the situation in Iraq.

A final detail from the article that I thought was really interesting is that Senator Feingold was the only member of the delegation who isn't on the Armed Services Committee and who voted against the war, and that he was invited to join the delegation by it's leader-Senator John McCain.


Feingold Birthday Event Coming Up

Thanks to Ben Masel for bringing this for my attention:

Senator Russ Feingold's Annual Birthday Event
10:30 a.m.

Club Majestic,
115 King Street,

Co-Host: $1,000 Sponsor: $500 Friend: $250
Suggested Contribution: $52/person
Please RSVP to Lenee Kruse at 608-831-7877 or
Payable to: The Feingold Senate Committee
P.O. Box 620062
Middleton, WI 53562-0062

I believe the $52 suggested contribution is in honor of it being the Senator's 52nd birthday. It's still a bit too much for me, and I don't live in Wisconsin anyway, but I'll wish the Senator an early happy birthday!


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Are you a Progressive Patriot?

Or, at least, someone who'd like to see Russ Feingold spread his message across the country, support like-minded candidates and possibly run for President?

Well, then, if you have some money to spare for a good political cause, you might be interested in donating to Senator Feingold's leadership PAC, the Progressive Patriot Fund. Here's the information on how-to; thanks to Jerry Toriano for posting it in the comments section:

If you are interested in mailing a contribution, please make checks payable to:
Progressive Patriots Fund
Attn: PJ McCann
P.O. Box 628008
Middleton, WI 53562

If you are interested in making a credit card contribution you have a few options:

1. You can send an email to with your phone number--they will call you and take down the information.

2. You can call PJ McCann's cell at 301-706-3363 or call the Progressive Patriots Fund office at 608-831-1308 and speak to Cole.

3. You can fill out this Contribution Form and fax it to the office at 608-831-1348

4. You can fill out the Contribution Form and email it to:

I hope some of you will donate-I'm gonna try to give something, and I'm pretty poor right now! But, unfortunately, in politics, money is still more important than rambling, infrequently updated weblogs. Which is a shame, because in a world where the opposite is true, I'd be George Soros!


Friday, February 18, 2005

Feingold establishes PAC, and other news

Hi everybody. First off, I'm sorry for not updating sooner. Sometimes I'm busy and sometimes I'm lazy and either way the blog doesn't get updated. But I'm trying to do better, and I thank everybody who comes here for their support.

Now, onto the not-that-new news: an article in the Appleton Post-Crescent about the Senator's appearance on "Q&A" includes this interesting detail:

Feingold filed a document with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 21 establishing the Progressive Patriots PAC. This leadership committee, soon to be renamed the Progressive Patriot Fund, will finance his travel around the country as he gauges public interest in his possible candidacy. The committee already has received between $2,000 and $5,000 in contributions, according to George Aldrich, who managed Feingold's Senate campaign last year.

Of course, establishing a leadership PAC like this is always described as one of the signs of someone who's considering a presidential run. I like the "Progressive Patriot" name-lots of Republicans would like us to believe that's an oxymoron, I'm glad to see Senator Feingold standing up to them. It's also a reminder of the PATRIOT Act and the Senator's lonely, principled vote on that.

Also, has an interview with the Senator up. No particular parts I want to quote, but it includes Senator Feingold's thoughts on the State of the Union, his ideas for health care and Iraq, and of course, he's asked about 2008 and gives the standard answer we could all probably repeat by heart. But, seriously, it's worth reading.

My thanks to Larry (whodat527) for bringing those articles to my attention!

Finally, a bit more recently, there was an article in the Sheboygan Press asking area residents what they thought about their Senator running for President, and the results were, frankly, shocking. Apparently, Democrats like the idea, and Republicans not so much! Who'da thunk it! Still, it's a good read. I especially liked this part:

Whatever Feingold's interests are, he's a long shot for the Democratic presidential nomination against major players such as New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, and last year's nominees, Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards, Zylman said.

"But Jimmy Carter came in below the radar and developed a grassroots network that helped him capture New Hampshire and it kept on going," Zylman said.

"Everyone said Bill Clinton wasn't going to make it either," Squire said. "You don't decide not to run because of your competition."

Feingold is no stranger to the underdog title, Squire said. When Feingold first ran for the U.S. Senate in 1992, he beat primary opponents James Moody and Joseph Checota. Following that, Feingold defeated incumbent Robert Kasten.

"He wasn't supposed to beat Kasten in the general election or Moody and Checota in the primary," Squire said.

Feingold will definitely be an underdog in the presidential race, but he knows how to win from that position by effectively communicating his message and cultivating the grassroots.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Feingold Reelection Ad Wins Award

No big news, but this was just an interesting tidbit I found on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's website under the heading "Awards in Business:

Eichenbaum/Associates' commercial "Morph" for U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) won top honors in the television category at the 2005 Pollie Awards.

I just think that's good news because, as much as we may wish it didn't, advertising plays a major role in politics, and clever ads have been important to progressive triumphs like the election and reelection of Senator Feingold and the late Paul Wellstone.

You can watch-or if your computer is horribly old and slow like mine, read transcripts of-the "Morph" ad, as well as all the rest of Senator Feingold's 2004 ads, and a few older ones, here at his reelection website.

I'm sure that'll be entertaining and educational for those of you with good computers!


Monday, February 07, 2005

"Q&A" Comments

Well, yesterday I probably gave C-SPAN the highest ratings its ever had against the Super Bowl, when I watched Senator Feingold's "Q&A" interview when it first aired at 7 central. And it was worth it. For those who didn't see it, check out the transcript and video here.

Senator Feingold did a great job-intelligent and affable, as always. Lamb asked a lot of campaign finance related questions, and Senator Feingold did a good job pointing that McCain-Feingold, while imperfect, did get senators and congressmen out of the business of asking for huge soft money contributions. But it wasn't all campaign finance-we also learned that the Senator's younger sister was the first female rabbi in Wisconsin and that a guy named Henry Janes went around the country in the 19th century founding cities called Janesville-including the Senator's hometown.

And, of course, 2008 was brought up. The Senator gave his standard answer, but Brian Lamb briefly showed the website. Go C-SPAN!

Here are my two favorite parts of the interview:

LAMB: We get calls all the time on our call-in show that, people will say, this is a Christian nation.

Does that bother you when you hear that?

FEINGOLD: I don't like that. I don't think that's right. It's certainly one of the things it is, is a Christian nation. But it's also Jewish and Buddhist and Islamic, and for those who don't have, follow an organized religion.

One of the reasons that I believe so passionately in our Constitution, in our system of government, and in particular in the Bill of Rights, is that I do believe that the separation of church and state are essential for the freedom and the comfort of those of us who are minorities- those of us whose grandparents or great-grandparents came here to get away from religious persecution. That is fundamental to me and to my family.

And so, if it ever comes to the point where people say, well, you know, really this is a just a Christian nation, and others really are second-class citizens, that is not the America that I believe in. And I will fight to stop efforts to do that.

As an agnostic, I'm glad to see someone in Congress who understands and respects separation of church and state. Many of our founding fathers had views that offended the religious orthodoxy of their day, and they left God out of the Constitution for a reason. Thanks Senator Feingold, for reminding us that we're all Americans, regardless of our religious beliefs or lack thereof.

But here's the more important question, when looking at 2008:

LAMB: What's a progressive?

FEINGOLD: In Wisconsin, a progressive is somebody who believes firmly in individual rights, who believes that government should be used only when appropriate- not automatically, but where appropriate- to help solve our problems.

For example, if older people are inappropriately going to nursing homes prematurely, a Progressive says, maybe there's a way we can create a home and community-based program that will help balance that. That's a Wisconsin progressive.

But a Wisconsin progressive is also very pro-small business and pro-farmer. And also, tough as nails on spending.

Wisconsin progressives believe that if you want to do something, you should figure out a way to pay for it. So at the same time- so at the same time that I'm a person who is considered Progressive- sometimes called a Liberal- I also am known as one of the top one or two deficit hawks in the whole Senate.

I am the toughest on unnecessary spending. The Concord Coalition has put me on their honor roll. Because that's how we look at it in Wisconsin.

It doesn't matter what your political views are, you've got to pay the bills. You can't run up debts. That isn't about ideology, that's about good government.

And that's really the heart of Wisconsin progressivism. It's about clean, good government. And part of clean, good government in my view is not running up huge bills.

Am I the only one who thinks that's a message that will appeal to people across the nation, not just in Wisconsin?

Please read or see the whole interview!


Saturday, February 05, 2005

Sure, you COULD watch the Super Bowl...

...but do you really want to spend your time watching a football game, when you have a rare opportunity to watch a primetime in-depth interview with Senator Russ Feingold?

Yep, tomorrow at 8 pm Eastern (7 Central) Russ Feingold will be the guest on CSPAN's new interview program "Q&A"! The program is rerun at 11 pm Eastern (10 Central), if you don't want to miss any of the game.

Information on "Q&A" and Senator Feingold's appearance can be found here. Thanks to LeftistIndependent for reminding me of this appearance.

Also, check out the Feingold in 2008 images created by Andrew over at the Badpolitiks blog.


Friday, February 04, 2005

The Curse of the Senators?!?

No, this isn't about the old Washington baseball team that was famous for being "first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League", rather its about the most banal argument I've seen against a Feingold candidacy...and a Biden, Hillary Clinton, Edwards, Boxer, McCain, Frist, et al., candidacy.

You see, senators don't win the presidency. Pundits on all forms of media remind whomever listens that JFK was the last person to become President directly from the Senate, and that he and Warren G. Harding are the only two senators to be elected President. And the only non-incumbent Democrats to win the presidency since JFK were both governors.

"Don't you see it?", they say. "Senators don't win! Governors do! If the Democrats nominate a senator they will lose! Don't encourage a senator to run!" That argument does not, as its proponents insist, show that they have some astute knowledge of history or politics. Rather, it shows that they have the ability to look facts up in an almanac and then jump to conclusions based on those facts. If those facts convince you that Senators can't be elected president, then you must have thought that Bush would lose this year because the Redskins lost their last home game before the election. Seriously, it's the same thing.

Imagine the year is 1988. You are a Republican. You must be horrified at the thought that George H.W. Bush is gonna be your party's nominee. Doesn't anybody realize that an incumbent vice president hasn't been elected to the top job in 150 years?! Don't they remember that Nixon lost in 1960?! Now you know how we ended up with the glorious presidency of Michael Dukakis. Incumbent vice presidents just don't win.

What's that? Bush won in '88? But what about the history? Oh, so that was just a really silly argument that had nothing to do with reality? Same with the anti-senator argument.

But there are legitimate arguments for why governors do better than senators, right? Senators always represent the inside the beltway establishment, whereas governors are reformers who challenge the status quo, right? Like when the great reformer, Texas Governor George W. Bush upset the establishment candidate, the ultimate insider Senator John McCain?

But governors connect better with people, right? Yeah, I think Mike Dukakis connected better with people than John or Bobby Kennedy, don't you?

Yes, I know those examples are silly. They are meant to be. But I have a serious point: don't stereotype a politician based on the office they hold.

Yes, it's true that senators can have their records used against them. So can governors. Ask Mike Dukakis.

So, if senators are electable why have all the ones to reach the general election since JFK lost? (I'm not gonna bring primary candidates into this, lots of governors and former governors have lost in the primaries.) Well, perhaps Bob Dole lost because ran against a popular, charismatic incumbent president. Perhaps Barry Goldwater and George McGovern lost because they were associated with ideological extremists. As for John Kerry-well, there are a couple hundred theories on that.

As I said in my first post here I can't guarantee that Senator Feingold will run, will get the nomination, or will win. But I think he is the best choice for progressive reformers in the Democratic Party. He's a good man and would be a good president. I can understand why some Democrats could have doubts about him, and I can appreciate intelligent debate on the subject. But I don't appreciate him and his fellow 99 members of what was once called The World's Greatest Deliberative Body being dismissed with the banal bit of conventional wisdom that "senators don't get elected president!"

I don't believe in conventional wisdom. If I did, I never would have started this blog.


Great Feingold Article from the Journal-Sentinel

A new article from the Journal-Sentinel came out today in which Senator Feingold talks at length about his current plans and the possibility of him as a 2008 presidential candidate. Check it out here. One of the more interesting details:

Feingold is in the process of setting up what is known as a leadership PAC, or political action committee, a common vehicle for potential national candidates to make campaign donations and fund travel.

In the aftermath of his re-election, he has maintained a campaign staff of five in Wisconsin, including two fund-raisers. He ended 2004 with about $460,000 left over in campaign money.
So, in case you couldn't already tell...he's definitely serious about it.

This article's been commented on at a number of sites already, I can't think of much new to say now. But I think that Ficus (that's Chuck, right?) over at the official blog said it best (Chuck's comments are in bold):

"If at some point people say, 'Hey, we think you ought to run for president' (and) it's a serious thing, I'm going to listen. I would only run if I honestly believed that I was the guy that really could win, that I was the person who was the best candidate to run," said Feingold, who sat down Wednesday at a reporter's request to talk about the Democratic Party and the 2008 presidential contest.

We are the "some people" he is talking about. You are the "some people" he's talking about. Please send him a letter of encouragement, or get ahold of us. It's 2005, but we're building a movement here.
Yep; he's looking for encouragement-let's give it to him!

I haven't written a letter yet, but I'll work on it this weekend and post it on the blog when it's done.

Who links to me?