Friday, December 16, 2005

PATRIOT Act Showdown

Hey everyone...I really feel like I've been negligent in not posting earlier, but I had my first law school finals, and it was just one of those times where the whole outside world seemed to cease to exist, even our favorite senator. So, now for the news you already now...

PATRIOT Act: The House-Senate conference committee's final compromise on the PATRIOT Act renewal was not much of a compromise but rather abandoned all the reforms Russ and his Senate colleagues passed to improve that now it's filibuster time. The vote on cloture should be later this morning, and according to the AP, Russ has the votes to sustain the filibuster.

Russ has been all over the media as a leading spokesman on the issue, including the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer debating the reauthorization with Senator Jeff Sessions; and blogging about the issue over at TPM's Table for One (the Senator seems to be becoming a more regular blogger than me!) I'm glad that it seems like the Senator's efforts will pay off, at least in defeating the motion for cloture today, and I would like to thank him, Senator Durbin, Senator Salazar, and especially Republican Senators Craig, Sununu, and Murkowski for standing up to the White House and the Republican leadership in Congress, and for standing up for our civil liberties! As Senator Feingold said, this is not a partisan issues, it's an American issue.

Also, as much as we like to talk about Russ' status as the only Senator to oppose to the PATRIOT Act in 2001, it is important note that he had some company: 66 members of the House of Representative opposed the PATRIOT Act originally, and they don't necessarily get the recognition they deserve so here they are:

Baldwin, Barrett, Blumenauer, Bonior, Boucher, Brown (OH), Capuano, Clayton, Conyers, Coyne, Cummings, Davis (IL), DeFazio, DeGette, Dingell, Farr, Filner, Frank, Hastings (FL), Hilliard, Honda, Jackson (IL), Jackson-Lee (TX), Johnson, E. B., Jones (OH), Kucinich, Lee, Lewis (GA), McDermott, McGovern, McKinney, Meek (FL), George Miller, Mink Mollohan, Nadler, Ney, Oberstar, Olver, Otter, Owens, Pastor, Paul, Payne, Peterson (MN), Rahall, Rivers, Rush, Sabo, Sanchez, Sanders, Schakowsky, Scott, Serrano, Stark, Thompson (MS), Tierney, Udall (CO), Udall (NM),Velazquez, Visclosky, Waters, Watson (CA), Watt (NC), Woolsey, Wu

My appreciation to them all.

Naturally some of the coverage about the PATRIOT Act debate and Russ's role in it have talked about it's impact on the 2008 primaries. I personally think the best summary about this was Schwompa's December 9th post over at Tennesseans for Feingold.

And speaking of state blogs: Yet another great new state blog for Feingold has been created, check out Ohio for Feingold. That makes five state blogs that I know of (New Jersey, Michigan, Tennessee, and Illinois as the others) so we are one tenth of the way to having Feingold supporter blogs in all 50 states! Let's keep going forward with this! Trust me, creating a blog isn't hard (having the time to update it, well, that's another story).

Happy anniversary: This Monday it was one year since my first post here. As far as I know, this was the first Feingold for President website out there; shortly after that came out and now there are all those great state sites in addition to the wonderful national efforts of and Friends of Feingold. This site is no longer "the" Russ Feingold for President site, as it was back when John Nichols mentioned it in his column a year ago today. And I couldn't be happier about that.

I am so thrilled and excited by the enthusiasm I've seen for Feingold on the netroots...from the state blogs, to his great performances in the MyDD and DailyKos straw polls, to the appreciation shown when Senator Feingold blogs...I find it incredible. When I started this site, I had no idea it would be possible that a year from then Senator Feingold would be considering a presidential bid and that he'd be mentioned as a possible candidate in almost every news story written about him. I would have seriously been happy if I just had a dozen or a hundred regular readers...instead I'm able to play a small role in a great movement, a movement that could help make Russ Feingold the next President of the United States!

I thank everyone who has read this blog, especially everyone who comments or emails me, and most especially everyone who's started their own blog, joined a Feingold yahoo group, made pro-Russ comments on MyDD or DailyKos or done anything else to help this movement.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to get online much over my break, so let me just repeat: Thank You! And let's keep going Forward in the new year!


Saturday, December 03, 2005

Big News and a Commentary

My usual apologies about not updating this blog nearly often enough.

Exciting News: Head on over to now, if you haven't in the past few days. Why? Because Senator Feingold will be having a Q and A over there, and you can submit your questions now by heading over there, registering, and posting them on the comments thread. Questions must be in by noon (central time) on Tuesday. This is a great opportunity for us, and a great indication of Senator Feingold's support for internet activism...let's make the most of it!

Some more exciting news over at is that the first issue of the "Forward" newsletter is out now...check it out, print it out, and hand it out to friends, family and strangers!

Commentary: Russ is a leader

One of the most frustrating criticisms I've encountered when promoting Senator Feingold around the web as a presidential candidate is that he is not and has never been a governor. That's hard to dispute. He does lack executive experience, but what is so important about executive experience anyway? I've thought about that a bit and realized that while most of the arguments in favor of governors as presidential candidates are fairly superficial (ie: they "communicate better" than senators) there is one very important thing that governors seem to have going for them over senators: leadership. A governor can point at everything good that happened in their state and claim that it is due to their leadership. A senator is only one of 100 people who vote on each bill. Does this mean that there are no leaders in Congress? Or that the only leaders are the committee chairs and others with titles designating them as leaders?

Hardly. Senators have a chance to be leaders every time they have to choose between voting in the best interests of the nation and voting for what is more popular, among Congress or among the country at large. And when faced with those votes Senator Feingold has always chosen to be a leader.

The examples are clear: the PATRIOT Act 99 to 1. The Iraq War Resolution 77 to 23. Senator Feingold had the choice to do what was politically expedient or do what was in the best interest of the country, and he chose the best interest of the country.

And after these votes Senator Feingold did not surrender to the then-majority views, rather he showed his leadership by continuing to work for the causes he believed in. And he got results.

When the PATRIOT Act was up for reauthorization this year, Senator Feingold fought to reform its harshest measures, and he and his Senate colleagues unanimously passed a reauthorization bill that made significant improvements in the act. (Check out this page from the Senator's website for more about the Senate bill's improvements in the PATRIOT Act.) And when the Senate leadership tried to force through a House-Senate "compromise" that would eliminate the reforms that are in the Senate version, Senator Feingold wouldn't stand for it and led a bipartisan group of senators who threatened to filibuster the bill over Thanksgiving weekend. The Senate leadership caved and thanks to Senator Feingold's leadership, this month will see a real debate in the Senate on how to protect America from terrorism while also protecting civil liberties.

Senator Feingold has also led the way in calling for the administration to come forward with a strategy and a timetable for bringing US troops home from Iraq. On June 14 of this year he called for a resolution asking the president to set a timeline for troop withdrawal. On August 17 he suggested a target date of December 31, 2006 for withdrawal. When he made that suggestion, only Barbara Boxer was willing to co-sponsor his resolution; fellow Democrats were openly critical of his suggestion. What a difference a couple of months makes. In mid-November all but five Democratic senators voted in favor of an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill that called upon the President to set a timeline for withdrawing troops. And thanks to the courage of Congressman Jack Murtha, last month saw the beginning of a real debate about US policy in Iraq in both houses of Congress and across the country. I don't hear the Bush Administration talking about a "generational commitment" of US soldiers in Iraq anymore...and if you think the administration doesn't take Russ seriously, check this out.

The PATRIOT Act and Iraq are but two of the issues of the issues where Senator Feingold has been a leader and the rest of the Democrats in congress have finally started following him. Russ has opposed the annual Senate pay raise each year he has been in office, this year the Senate rejected it. Russ opposed corporate friendly "free trade" agreements throughout the 1990s, this year almost all the Democratic senators opposed CAFTA. Russ championed the McCain-Feingold bill in the Senate for years before it finally passed in the wake of Enron scandals.

This is important because in the 2008 primary elections all the Democratic candidates will say that they opposed the harsher provisions of the PATRIOT Act, that there were mistakes made in going to war in Iraq, that they think that "free trade should be fair trade." And yes, these are all positions where all Democrats are generally better than Republicans. But all Democrats are not the same.

I don't want the 2008 Democratic nominee to just be someone who says the right things on the campaign trail. I want the 2008 Democratic nominee to be someone with a vision for what is best for America and the courage to work for that vision regardless of the political risks. I want the 2008 Democratic nominee to be a leader.

I want the 2008 Democratic nominee to be Russ Feingold because he has the ability to be the leader that the Democratic Party and the country need.

Request: Can anybody help me find a transcript of Senator Feingold's appearance on "This Week" last week? I missed it, and I had difficulty trying to download the podcast of it.

This, of course, would be the appearance where he said that the US is "overdue for a cheesehead president." The bappearancee of this apppearance has to go to Daniel Owen at Oval Office 2008 who titled his story about it "Hail to the Cheese." I seriously think we should consider using that as a slogan.

That's all for this time, until next time, let's keep going Forward!

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