Monday, July 31, 2006

Russ Roundup for July

Hey folks, I didn't mean to go through the whole month without another blog entry, but that's just the way it went. It wasn't much easier to fit the blog into my life with my job then it was to fit it in with school. Guess I'll just have to make the time by eliminating something else...eating and sleeping have always struck me as rather pointless...

Anyhow, here's some of the big events from the Month in Russ:

Patriot Corps: Earlier this month Senator Feingold and his Progressive Patriots Fund announced the creation of the Patriot Corps: a group of fifteen field organizers who the Fund will hire, train and send to key races in Wisconsin and throughout the country. Sound like something you'd be interested in doing? If so, the application is here, and they are accepting applications until August 11.

Of course while hiring fifteen field organizers is great, twenty would be even better and the Progressive Patriot Fund has been trying to raise $25,000 by midnight tonight in order to be able to help five more campaigns. While I don't know how many people will read this before midnight, the Fund was within $4,000 of the goal this morning, so if you can, please donate here.

And Speaking of Donations...: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran an interesting article today looking at where the approximately $2 million Senator Feingold has raised this year has come from, and how that differs from other possible Democratic presidential candidates. From the article:

In the first half of 2006, the Wisconsin senator raised 62% of his funds from people giving $200 or less, a much higher share than any other potential candidate.

If you want to see the exact numbers, check out this post by Chris Bowers at MyDD. Here's a summary: the possible candidate with the next highest percentage of small donors? John Kerry with 32%, followed by Wes Clark with 28% and Hillary Clinton with 18%. No one else was in double digits and for several candidates, small donors made up 1% or less of their donors.

So why does this matter? For one thing, it shows who Senator Feingold represents and who wants him to run: he is the candidate of average people who care about the future of the Democratic Party and the country. And it shows that people are willing to invest in Senator Feingold's campaign. As ilya S. at wrote:

What Senator Feingold is doing is just great campaign building. People will do things for your campaign if they are invested. They will go out and knock on doors in the freezing cold of Iowa and New Hampshire, they will do mailings at 5 am and Meet Ups at 9 pm. They will do what they can to get you elected because it's not just about the candidate but about the campaign. Great things are on the horizon. The evidence is slowly appearing, but Senator Feingold is exactly right in his word choice. Should Russ decide to run, contributions of time and money will explode. And then we'll have a genuine people powered candidate for 2008.

Health Care: Of course, the reason Senator Feingold is able to attract the small donors is that they know that he is willing to stand up for them on the issues that matter, like health care (which Senator Feingold has described as the number one issue he hears concerns about at his listening sessions in each of Wisconsin's 72 counties).

Last week, Senator Feingold announced a proposal for a federal program that would help state governments deliver universal health care to their citizens. A fact sheet on the program is here and an article on it is here. From the article:

"The time has come to see if we can get across our ideological differences--which are serious -- and to see if we can at least get off the dime with the idea of pilot projects," Feingold, D-Wis., told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I thought it was time basically to break a logjam."

Feingold plans to unveil the legislation at a news conference in Milwaukee today, and introduce it in Congress later this week or early next week. He acknowledged it has little chance of passing this year, but said he wants to have something ready to go when a new Congress takes over next year.
I hope this program passes next year. Of course, that all depends on what kind of Congress we get, but I think Senator Feingold's proposal has a number of attractive features: it takes a first step towards the much needed goal of universal health care, it allows states the opportunity to be creative and try different types of programs while still giving them federal financial support (and as Tennesseans for Feingold noted on July 25: Senator Feingold spelled out the specifics of how to pay for it) . It's practical and creative, and it should pass...and then in the Feingold administration we could final achieve the dream ouniversalal healthcare for all Americans.

The health care proposal is one of a series of domestic policy proposals Senator Feingold will be announcing over the next six months, and I look forward to seeing the rest.

One issue? Hardly: Senator Feingold's health care proposal just makes me more amused by a recent criticism of Senator Feingold that I've seen popping up both in the mainstream media and by bloggers supporting other candidates: that Senator Feingold is a "one issue" candidate. An example can be found on this Hotline blog piece from the end of June.

This criticism is confusing because the people who use it never say what "one issue" they are talking about, and Senator Feingold has been a recognized leader on a number of major issues. And I don't just say this as one of his supporters.

People who aren't obsessed political junkies but follow the news might recognize Feingold as one of the two sponsors of that campaign finance law (what other bill in recently history is as well known by the name of its sponsors?) Or they might recognize Feingold as the one senator who voted against the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001. Or they might recognize him as the first senator to propose a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Or they might recognize him as the senator who proposed censuring President Bush for his illegasurveillancece of American citizens.

So please, people who say Senator Feingold is a one issue candidate can you tell me which one issue that is? Is it campaign finance reform? Civil liberties? The war in Iraq? Overreaching by the executive? Or perhaps it's his constant support for fair trade? Or his proposal for universal health care? Since I'm the one blogging in support of Senator Feingold please let me know what the only one issue I care about is; that would really free up a lot of my time.

And one final thought: how many of the possible Democratic candidates besides Senator Feingold are associated in the mind of a generally informed citizen (but not a political junkie) with EVEN one issue?

There's Gore and the environment (he's also been outspoken against the war and the domestisurveillancece programs). John Edwards is making a name for himself by focusing on poverty. Hillary may be remembered for the Clinton Health Care plan, or for her attack on Grand Theft Auto.

I know the other possible candidates care about the issues and have ideas, but right now I can't say there is anyone who people would remember as "The guy who...[whatever]" while there are at least four different issues Senator Feingold might be remembered for.

Iowa: Senator Feingold headed back to the Hawkeye (and First Caucus) State two weeks ago. To read more about it check out the great coverage over at Iowa for Feingold (scroll down to July 16) and .

And a poll to vote in: The Racine Journal Times has a poll asking "Should Russ Feingold run for President?" Cast your vote in favor of Russ!

So that's all for this time...hopefully I'll have more later this week.

Until next time, keep going Forward!


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Look! My Name's in the Paper!

Yesterday, the Valley Scene, an alternative newspaper covering the Fox Valley in Wisconsin, hit the stands with a cover story titled "Russ Feingold: the Next President of the United States?" What makes this article different from previous stories about a possible Feingold presidential run? Why, it's the first article to quote me!

Okay, my ego-boost from being interviewed for a newspaper story aside, the article is really good, quoting Feingold netroots activists (myself and ilya from RussforPresident), Wisconsin supporters of Russ, and Wisconsinites who oppose Russ (but admire him for standing by his principles). While I'm a definitely biased here, I think it's one of the best articles about a possible Feingold for President run since the author (Tony Palmeri) interviewed actual Feingold supporters, instead of just quoting political science professors or Democratic strategists and dismissing the grassroots and netroots activists.

Anyhow, the Valley Scene's online edition isn't updated yet, but you can read the article on Tony Palmeri's website and post comments on his blog.

Here is the most interesting part (totally biased opinion):

Ilya’s enthusiasm is shared by Dan Kuehnert, a student at Washington University law school in St. Louis, self described “liberal nerd,” and creator of two pro-Feingold blogs: Russ Feingold For President and Missouri For Feingold. Dan’s been a Feingold fan since following the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill at age 18 in 1999. He says that even when he’s disagreed with Feingold (such as his vote to confirm John Ashcroft as Attorney General) he “always thought he acted really thoughtfully and followed his own principles.” Like Ed, Dan thinks that Senator Feingold's integrity and intelligence are characteristics we need in a president, and that “he has positions on the issues that are also what America needs: a president who will fight terrorism while protecting civil liberties, a president who will make government cleaner and more accountable, and a president who will make the global economy work for everyone, here and abroad, rather than just the big corporate CEOs.” If Feingold announced a candidacy, Dan would stand out in the freezing weather handing out flyers or knocking on doors, “and Senator Feingold's the only possible candidate I'd do that for.”

So, there ya go. Sometimes I wonder if I should change that "liberal nerd" quote. When I wrote it, I didn't figure anyone would read it. I don't know if my self-deprecating humor translates that well in print. Neither does sarcasm. Which pretty much leaves me with straightforward jokes about guys walking into bars with pigs under their arms...and I'm no good at those.

On the other hand, I have statrted two Feingold for President blogs, so maybe that line is just plain accurate rather than self-deprecating...

And if that paragraph isn't enough for you, you are in luck! Tony gave me premission to post our entire email interview on the blog. So here it goes...

Dan K.: The Tony Palmeri interview (Questions in bold)

*Why did you start a Russ Feingold for President blog?

I started my blog back in December of 2004. I was one of those Democrats who, immediately after Kerry lost, thought "okay, what do we do four years from now?" I read every column and blog I could find about possible Democratic candidates for 2008 and I found them all disappointing: they were either focused on Hillary Clinton and how her nomination is "inevitable" or they promoted possible candidates like Evan Bayh, Mark Warner, or Bill Richardson arguing about their electability: arguing that they can win one or two key states and therefore the election and that is all that matters. And I found it discouraging that none of this dialogue asked what I think is the most important question: Who would make the best president?

I asked myself that question and my answer was Senator Russ Feingold. I got interested in politics again when I was 18, in 1999, and I read about Senator Feingold and Senator McCain and their fight for campaign finance reform; I just found it disgusting how much money went into politics and how hard it was to make even modest change to that. I followed Senator Feingold since then and even when I disagreed with him (such as his vote to confirm Ashcroft) I always thought he acted really thoughtfully and followed his own principles. I think that Senator Feingold's integrity and intelligence are characteristics we need in a president, and I think that he has positions on the issues that are also what America needs: a president who will fight terrorism while protecting civil liberties, a president who will make government cleaner and more accountable, and a president who will make the global economy work for everyone, here and abroad, rather than just the big corporate CEOs.

Anyhow, I knew Senator Feingold was the candidate I wanted to see the Democrats nominate in 2008 and I couldn't find any blogs or websites supporting him, so I decided to start one myself.

*What kind of response have you received?

It's been really amazing. In terms of emails and comments, the positive far out number the negative. But even more exciting are all the other Feingold for President sites that have sprung up: is a great national site for Feingold supporters to exchange ideas, and there is a project to start blogs for state Feingold supporters in each of the fifty states. So far there are around fifteen, and not just in "blue" states but also in places like South Carolina, Texas, and my state of Missouri.

And it's really surprised me. I thought I'd start a blog about Feingold, no one would read it, I'd forget about it and that's the end of the story. Instead I discovered that there are a LOT of people out there who think Senator Feingold's kind of leadership is what the party and the country need and are willing to work really hard for it, and I love that! It's why I keep going back to my blog, even when it's been hard to because of my job or law school.

*Do you think Feingold can get the Democratic Party nomination?

Yes, but I think he and his supporters will have to work hard for it. We'd be the underdogs going in but I think we could pull it off.

First why I think Senator Feingold can get the nomination: I think his courage and integrity get a lot of respect even from those who disagree with him, and I think everyone wants a president with those attributes. And then there are the issues I mentioned before: fighting terrorism while protecting civil liberties, make government cleaner and more accountable, and making the global economy work for everyone; I think those are issue that the vast majority of Americans, and especially the vast majority of Democrats believe in.

So why would we be underdogs: mainly because the conventional wisdom about Feingold already seems to be forming among the media and Democratic activists: he's not electable. And why is he supposedly unelectable: because he's twice divorced, Jewish, and, worst of all, he's liberal. And I find that really disappointing and kind of insulting to the whole idea of democracy: here's this great guy but we won't support him because we don't think other people will support him. And I think that's the wrong way to look at it, instead I hope that if people think Feingold would make the best president they'll be willing to work to convince others of that. And if people are willing to believe and willing to work, we can get Senator Feingold the nomination and the Presidency.

*If Feingold were to declare his candidacy, what kinds of things might you do for his campaign in addition to running the blog?

Simply put: I'd be willing to do anything his campaign would want me to do. If he runs, I'd take time off law school and go to Iowa or New Hampshire or Wisconsin or wherever the campaign is do whatever kind of work is needed. I'd love to do official blogging for the campaign, or any kind of writing or researching they'd need. But if they just need me to stand out in the freezing weather handing out flyers or knocking on doors, I'd do that. And Senator Feingold's the only possible candidate I'd do that for. If he doesn't run, I might give money to a candidate or do some work in Missouri, but I can't see myself blogging or giving up any significant amount of time for anyone but Feingold in 2008

*Is there anything else you would like to say?

Just to repeat what I wrote earlier in the question if Feingold could get the nomination: to anybody who is reading this and likes Feingold but thinks he might not win, just be willing to believe and willing to work and we can make it happen. The only way we will be able to bring this country forward is if we are willing to work for it.

End of Interview

So, what do you think? Do I have a future as a professional email interview answerer? Is that a profession?

Anyway, thank you to Tony Palmeri for the article, the interview, and allowing me to post it on my site!

Until next time...keep going Forward!

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