Friday, August 26, 2005

Minor Update

Hey folks,

Well, I survived my first week of law school. Huzzah!

Looks like Our Man Russ has been making a bit of news this week due to his Iraq withdrawal timetable proposal, his Meet the Press appearance, and his trip to LA. I'll link to some columns and such about those stories on Saturday or Sunday, and offer some of my own commentary too. Right now I'm too tired for all that, but I just wanted to get a little bit of blog business done, so:

Meet the Press: Still don't know what Senator Feingold said in his Meet the Press interview? Well head on over to New Jersey for Feingold, where Jerry Troiano was kind enough to post an mp3 of the interview. Guess this means I don't have to give my wonderfully wacky Gilmore Girls/Russ on MTP/Game One of the World Series tape away to another desperate Feingold fan. That's a relief.

Updated links: I've made some changes on the link list to make it more up to date. Unfortunately, there's been a net change of zero sites. While I've added links for Tennesseans for Feingold and the Feingold for President petition (sign it if you haven't! I command you!) I unfortunately had to say good bye to two links: some months ago 44th President changed from an interesting blog about Democratic contenders for 2008 to a bunch of random junk, I don't know why, but I don't think it's worth linking to now. Also gone was the Russ friendly Badpolitiks blog as its blogger Drew has gone on to better things, mainly running a Congressional campaign. If you know of any sites that should be added to my links, as always, post a comment or send me an email.

Good night, hopefully I'll post some more tomorrow.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Feingold Meets the Press

What's this? Three posts in a week? Am I overcompensating for not blogging for so long? Or preemptively overcompensating for all the not-blogging I may have to do because of law school? Perhaps. Or maybe it's just been a good week for Feingold fans.

For example, the Senator was on Meet the Press this morning to discuss his Iraq withdrawal plan. I thought about posting a notice about it yesterday night but I figured not many people besides me come here between 11 pm Saturday and 8 am Sunday. I didn't even catch it when it first aired, but I watched it when they replayed it on MSNBC at 9 pm central time. For those who didn't see it, the transcript is available here and a video clip is here, it's the second of the ten clips. And if you are really desperate to see it, I can send one of you the videotape I recorded it on when I was watching it. It also has the season finale of Gilmore Girls and part of Game 1 of last year's World Series, if you really want to see either of those, too.

Now, on to the show: what did you think about Russ's appearance? Please post away about that in the comments.

What did I think about it? Well, thanks for asking! You're so considerate!

I thought it was pretty good, on the whole. I think Senator Feingold tends to do pretty well on TV. I think his best assets on TV are that he comes across as a straight shooter (because he is one), and it's obvious that he's very knowledgeable, and he manages to stick to his point without ever seeming to lose his cool. Throughout the interview there were moments when it was clear that David Gregory (the moderator subbing for Tim Russert) was trying to get the Senator to say something that could be embarrassing or controversial now or in the future. I think for the most part the Senator avoided them (for example, pointing out the difference between what he is proposing and a strict deadline and not falling for that question about if we are more or less safe with Saddam gone.) Generally, I think there is something about his personality/nature that makes him able to usually avoid both the hair-splitting, nuanced Senate talk of John Kerry and the foot-in-mouth disease of Howard Dean (and I love Dr. Dean and think most of his "verbal gaffes" were blown out of proportion, but sometimes he walks into them.)

There is one moment that kind of worries me for the way it could play if Senator Feingold runs for President (though, it would depend on how the war plays out between now and then.) It comes from this exchange:

MR. GREGORY: But it still goes to the bottom line point, which is if the goals are not achieved, if there is still an insurgency, if there is continued sectarian violence, the prospect of civil war, do you then still advocate bringing troops home before their success?

SEN. FEINGOLD: Potentially. There are three different possibilities. One is the success, the very strong success, then we can come home by that date. The second is we get close to success and then we have to have a little more time. A third possibility is that the situation simply has become so inconsistent with our overall goal of fighting terrorists around the world that we may have to say, "Look, we have to come home anyway." But I think we make that assessment in time.

MR.GREGORY: Even if--even if it means effectively...

SEN. FEINGOLD: Potentially.

MR. GREGORY: ...admitting failure?

SEN.FEINGOLD: Yes, because the question here is do we succeed in the fight against al-Qaeda and the extremist elements around the world that are attacking us? That's number one. As important as the Iraqi democracy is and as wonderful as it is that we make progress in that regard, the most important thing is protecting the lives of Americans here and abroad, and if this Iraq operation is inconsistent with that, at some point, we may have to consider leaving. And that's why I'm hoping that we can create a time frame for success and then bringing home our troops.

The bold emphasis is on the part that kind worries me. It's hard to avoid images of some kind of attack ad (from the Republicans or a more hawkish Democratic primary candidate) with a grainy black and white picture of Russ and "FAILURE" in big letters talking about how Russ Feingold doesn't care if US troops fail in their mission, whereas Candidate X supports the war and the troops and believes America will always win and nothing bad will ever happen if s/he's elected.

It's really too early to worry about something like that, especially in an interview that I thought went pretty well, but after what happened to Howard Dean, you've gotta worry. (I'm especially think about how Dean's "the US won't always have the strongest military" quote was spun into "Dean is unfit to be commander in chief.")

Another part I found interesting was his response to Gregory's final question:

MR. GREGORY: Final question: Can an anti-war Democrat be successful in 2008?

SEN. FEINGOLD: I think a Democrat who cares about national security, who gets this right, a Democrat who says, "Look, this administration has lost its way and gotten away from going after those who attacked us on 9/11" and who is willing to say that the Iraq invasion had some problems and that what's going on now is a problem, I think all of that can be part of a winning candidate. But we do have to be strong on national security. We do have to show the American people that Democrats care deeply about protecting American lives. And without that, no, I don't think we can win.

I think this answer was the most clear indication that the Senator Feingold wants to run for President. He knows that Democrats are perceived by voters to be weak on national security and he is determined to counter this image, yet he is unwilling to do what so many Democrats are doing by either embracing the president's policy in Iraq or even trying to out do it (ie: calling for more troops.) In essence he is attempting to do the very difficult task of running for president as a strong progressive Democrat, opposed to the Iraq war, without appearing weak on national security. Can he do it? I don't know, honestly, but it makes me even more interested to see what his upcoming national security speech will say.

I could say more but I need to go to bed, I have classes tomorrow, but I'm anxious to see what others here thought about the MTP interview. Let me know in comments!


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Feingold Continues to be Right on Iraq

Sorry if the title for this post looks like something you'd see on one of the Senator's press releases, but it is the most accurate thing I could think of to describe Today's Big (Feingold) News.

As reported in the Washington Post, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and across the liberal blogosphere Senator Feingold proposed a tentative deadline of December 31, 2006 for having all US troops withdrawn from Iraq.

As the Journal Sentinel wrote:

"The situation is becoming more and more untenable because of a lack of a clear plan to finish the task and leave," said Feingold in a telephone interview while he traveled between listening sessions in northern Wisconsin.

Feingold said he planned to put out a public proposal Thursday on the issue.

The Bush administration and even some critics of the war have argued that setting target dates for the withdrawal of troops would be artificial and embolden insurgents in Iraq.

Feingold said he rejected that argument because he was convinced that the indefinite presence of troops and the lack of a withdrawal plan fueled the insurgency.

Feingold said a deadline for full withdrawal- he proposed Dec. 31, 2006-should be flexible and subject to changing conditions. But he contended that setting even a target date would "help us to undermine the recruiting efforts and unity of the insurgents, encourage Iraq ownership of the transition process "and reassure the American people our Iraq policy is not directionless."

I don't know what more to say, except the man is right. In a saner America his position would be the position of the majority of American politicians, rather than just a very small, very brave minority. A timetable with concrete goals for the reconstruction of Iraq and the withdrawal of US troops would be beneficial to both the United States and Iraq, and I think it is clearly the best possible policy. The alternative of full immediate withdrawal that some would like to see is unrealistic and would be unfair to the Iraqi people, while the Administration's policy of keeping US forces in Iraq indefinitely, without a clear goal, as the insurgency stays bad or gets worse-well, that's not doing anyone any good. Looking at the president's approval ratings, it's certainly not doing him any good.

I sincerely hope the president listens to Senator Feingold and comes forward with some kind of timetable telling us what our goal is in Iraq and giving some estimate of when the mission will truly be accomplished. I also sincerely doubt that there is any chance of him doing that. So the next best thing would be for all the Democrats in Congress to get behind this proposal, and to make it one of the main issues of the 2006 midterm campaign. I'd just like to say that it would be okay for Congressional Democrats who voted for the war to support Senator Feingold's plan now. Many of them were misled, I'd guess most of them thought it would be over by now. I hope they can see that supporting this proposal would be the best thing they could do for our troops and for the Iraqi people: it would be showing them that eventually things will get better, their nightmare will be over, that there is a plan.

OTHER NEWS: Also, if you haven't already: sign the petition encouraging Russ to run for President. And if you just realized this site was still active, check out my Grand Reopening post below. It has some more Feingold news and, I think, some kind of reference to the Olsen Twins. I don't know, it's long so I didn't really read it...

I'll write more this weekend if I have the time.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Grand Reopening!

Okay, well it's not really that grand, and I guess I never actually shut down the blog or anything, but I do realize it's been about two months since I last posted and around four since I posted with anything approaching regularity. My apologies and thanks to everyone still reading. Hopefully I'll be able to do more regular updates now and I have a couple of thoughts about that kind of blog business, but I'll save that for the end. First, what's really important: the St. Louis Cardinals! Er, no, I mean, Senator Russ Feingold!

Russ Roadtrip Roundup: Senator Feingold is continuing to travel across the country listening to people, helping local Democrats, and (unofficially, of course) raising his profile as a possible presidential candidate. In July the Senator visited Pennsylvania and Tennessee. You can read accounts of those trips on the Progressive Patriots Fund website here. In addition, Jerry Troiano provides an eyewitness account, and some nice pictures, of one of Senator Feingold's Pennsylvania events at here at his New Jersey for Feingold blog, and the July 10th post on the Tennesseans for Feingold blog reports on his speech at the Democracy for Tennessee convention.

Later this month, in just over a week, Senator Feingold will be taking a trip to California, as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes:

Feingold will give speeches at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law on Aug. 22 and to the Town Hall Los Angeles civic group on Aug. 23. The Senate Democrat also will hold a fund-raiser for his political committee and tape a guest appearance on the "Tavis Smiley" show on PBS... His speech to Town Hall Los Angeles, which sponsors a speakers series, will be about the"administration's failure to develop a comprehensive national security strategy in the fight against terrorism," according to an announcement of the trip by his political committee, the Progressive Patriots Fund.

I look forward to hearing what the Senator has to say about national security, it is definitely one of the key areas where the Democrats need to come up with a clear alternative vision for the country. While I appreciate and agree with the Senator's argument for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and his insistence on protecting civil liberties while fighting the war on terror, I'd really like to see him (or any Democrat) put forward a more comprehensive national security program.

Speech subject matter aside, his California trip should prove helpful for both raising money and raising his profile, as it is home to many Democratic activists and donors. I'll be very interested to see the reports on this.

But even more exciting to those of us who hope to see Senator Feingold run for President is his upcoming trip to New Hampshire, his first trip there since 2000. As PoliticsNH reports:

In late September, Feingold will be the featured speaker at the first annualEleanor Roosevelt Dinner held by the Rockingham County Democrats. He will spend at least another day in the Granite State during the visit. He said he was first approached by Manchester Mayor Bob Baines about making a trip. He also plans to hold an event for Baines, who faces re-election this year.

All in all, Feingold said his goals for the trip were to listen to what people were saying and to help local Democrats. "Now I know that when a person comes to New Hampshire people start talking about the presidential race, but really what I plan to do in New Hampshire is really nothing different from what we have been doing in other states," Feingold said.

This year Feingold has visited Alabama and Tennessee.

Feingold's staff said they are beginning to reach out to Democrats in the state to plan events, among them possible a roundtable or a panel."I have found in other states that this dialogue, particularly among progressives, has been very helpful to them and my job was simply to listen and understand," Feingold said.

Well, since Senator Feingold knows that the New Hampshire trip will lead to talk about the presidential race, I'll just repeat the unoriginal but true observation that Senator Feingold could do great in the New Hampshire primary: as a maverick who believes in fiscal responsibility and cleaning up government he will appeal to the independent voters there and his stands on guns and the PATRIOT Act should appeal to the libertarian nature of the "live free or die" state. Yes, I think New Hampshire will like Russ once it gets to know him. Can't wait to hear how this trip goes.

One final thought on the subject of Russ's travels: He should come to Missouri! It's a swing state in the middle of the country where Democrats have been struggling recently. Why, he could even talk at Washington University law school! Just an idea.

Online Petition: An online petition has been started to encourage Senator Feingold to run for President. You can sign it here. I've signed it, even though I'm naturally a bit skeptical about online petitions (I mean, if they worked Karl Rove would be fired and the WB wouldn't have cancelled "Angel"!) But I think it's great as yet another way to show support for the Feingold for President idea.

My Letter From Russ: Now comes the exciting part where I resolve the cliffhanger from the previous post...Did I get a response to my letter from Senator Feingold? Yes. Was it all that exciting? Not really. Just your basic politician thank you note: "Dear Daniel, Thanks for sending me money. I look forward to asking you for more money in the future. Russ" (paraphrased for humorous effect) Guess that's what I get for sending it with a donation to the PAC! I heard that some people got more detailed responses to letters about a possible presidential bid, but I'm guessing maybe they wrote to the Senate office. Feel free to share your own letter to/from Russ experiences in the comments.

Blog Business: Well, if your read this far you must actually kinda like or enjoy this blog, so I'll run by some thoughts I've been having about the future of this blog. I am done with my horrible summer job that made it hard for me to blog, but I'm starting orientation for law school this week, so I can't so how much better my time constraints will be. However, I know that I really like writing the blog and I really believe in the Feingold for President cause, so I was trying to decide if it would be better to update this blog more regularly with smaller updates (maybe just links to articles or other sites with no additional commentary) or do it more irregularly but with longer posts and more of my original commentary, which is kind of what I prefer doing. Of course, maybe it won't really come to a choice between those but still, I'd kinda like to know what the crazy folks who come here would like (and I'm using "crazy folks" as a term of affection there).

Should I update it everyday, every other day, every week, only when there's big news, only when I feel like it? Should I focus on links to other sites and articles or on posting my own thoughts? Should I write shorter posts or longer posts? Should I forget about this Feingold thing entirely and turn it into an Olsen Twins fan site? You can post comments or email me to let me know what you think (or if you have any Feingold news items or links!)

Thanks for the support, I really do appreciate it.

Who links to me?