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29 June 2005

Bush speaks; Feingold responds

Not too much time tonight, but, the big news item today was President Bush's speech at Fort Bragg. Read it if you didn't see it, it's basically more of what we've already heard before.

Much more important to this blog, however, was Senator Feingold's statement in response, via Interesting stuff.

More another time, I promise.

27 June 2005

Time for some happiness

So the world can seem kind of depressing from time to time.

It can seem kind of depressing when you're faced with the prospect of 12 more years of war. It can seem kind of depressing when our leaders work to divide us. It can seem kind of depressing when you see what's really going on around the world.

So I have decided, with all the power given to me as a blogger, that today you shall laugh for at least a few minutes. This has absolutely nothing to do with Senator Russ Feingold, or politics, or really anything at all. It's just time for some happiness.


I realize some people have different tastes in humor, so if any of this isn't funny to you, well, go on and find some other joke page. 'Cause you really do need to laugh every once and a while.

From one of my favorite joke pages (some formatting changed)...

One day, in the Smith household, Mrs Smith turned to her husband and asked if he thought it would rain that afternoon. Mr Smith replied "of course not", whereupon their Russian friend Rudolph interrupted, saying "I am sorry, but you are wrong. It will rain heavily". Said Mrs Smith to her husband, "Oh no ... Rudolph the Red Knows Rain, Dear."
A traveller from the city takes a trip in the country by car and drives over a hare. The man is horrified to having killed a creature, looks at the hare and tears run down his face. A farmer stops by takes in the picture, puts his hand an the mans shoulder and consoles him:
"Well fix this up in no time". he turns to his truck, brings out a spray can and sprays all over the hare.
"What will that do" inquires the traveller.
"You just watch and see" replies the farmer.
After a little while the hare shivers, then shakes, jumps up, ducks under the fence, turns and waves with a front-foot at them. He runs a bit further, turns and waves again. And so it went until he disappeared over the hill-top. The traveller just cannot believe what he has just seen.
"What on earth is in that can" he wants to know.
"Well" replied the farmer "Nothing special. Hair restorer with permanent wave"
A certain pub had a pet cat that was loved by all the patrons. One day the cat died and the whole pub was so sad the barman thought he had to do something to cheer up the customers. So he cut off the tail of the cat, had it properly stuffed and mounted over the bar as a sort of momento to cheer everyone up (yes, I know, it doesn't meake sense , but we are talking about england!). Everyone liked the idea of seeing this tail in a glass case that reminded them of happier days. So far so good.
One night AFTER closing time (big HINT necessary to understand the joke) the barman was clearing up when he saw a frightening sight: the ghostly appearance of the cat who had died, but without its tail.
Of course the cat's ghost explained that he could not go to the great cat paradise in the sky without his tail! The barman looked very sad, pointed at a notice on the wall and said
" I am truly sorry, but I am afraid that after closing time we cannot retail spirits after midnight!"
Oooh, there's a lot more where that came from. Check out that page. Good stuff.

21 June 2005

Feingold and the netroots

At MyDD and DailyKos over the last several days, there have been some interesting polls to gauge support for 2008. Today, both Chris Bowers and Markos looked at the results, and a lot can be learned both from their takes and from the comments of readers.

The results of the DailyKos poll were:

Daily Kos community poll. 6/20. 13,389 respondents. (No trend lines):

Clark 26 (3,496)
No Freakin' Clue 17 (2,320)
Clinton 10 (1,461)
Feingold 10 (1,433)
Edwards 8 (1,077)
Other 7 (1,088)
Warner 5 (689)
Richardson 4 (659)
Biden 3 (497)
Kerry 2 (341)
Bayh 2 (328)
Vilsack 0 (88)

(The MyDD poll did not include Senator Feingold as a choice.)

Looking at candidates only (and not "No Freakin' Clue"), Senator Feingold comes in third place, within 30 votes of Hillary Clinton, while both trail Wesley Clark. There are a number of ways we can look at this.

First, there's the Chris Bowers pessimistic view:

Feingold Electability has always played a role in choosing candidates, and among the netroots it is no different. Clearly, recent personal events have damaged Feingold's perceived chances to both run for President and to become President were he to run. There was a time when I believed wholeheartedly that Russ had a chance to build a netroots movement much, much larger than what Dean put together in 2003. However, that does not look as though it will come to pass now. In the past, he had led these polls both at Dailykos and MyDD. Now, I imagine he will have a difficult time regaining that position.

I've always agreed with Chris Bowers on a wide variety of issues, but here I don't. Russ Feingold, a lesser-known senator from Wisconsin, essentially ties Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and overwhelming favorite for the nomination. Having never run a national campaign relying on the internet and bloggers (unlike Clark) and without showing any active interest in the presidency, only hints, and still relatively unknown, even in the Democratic internet-activist community, this is a strong showing, especially when considering his recent divorce. Where Bowers seems to think that this is a sign that Feingold is sinking, I prefer to see it as a sign that he can bounce back.

Indeed, in the DKos poll, it's especially impressive that he could do so well, considering the disagreements that Feingold, Markos, and others there have had on regulating blogs.

On the Kos discussion thread, at one point Feingold supporters were challenged to explain why he was a good candidate. The entire discussion is an interesting read, but here are a few highlights:

From KainIIIC-

He is a progressive, midwestern senator who perhaps has one of the best voting records in our nation. If questioned by anyone as to his voting record, he delivers a straight and articulate answer, rather than the "well i voted against this because, uh, well... yeah" we may get from some of those senators.

His votes on trade issues(vote against NAFTA, CAFTA, etc.) will certainly help out in the midwest, not to mention his status. That means he'll flip Iowa, and have great success in Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia and maybe Arkansas.

While most people say that him being Jewish would hurt him, it would actually help flip Florida to blue.

NO ONE in the country will ever get the impression that Feingold is a fake politician, that he's two-faced, or that he will deceive you. He votes with integrity and conscience, he talks with integrity, and hell he looks like a human-form of integrity.

He would probably run as a mid-western populist in the west and would have a great chance of picking up NM, CO, NV, and perhaps MT.

His candidacy would make the idea of the rest of the midwest turning red be absolutely ridiculous.

From Miss Blue-

TV Appeal

Great speaker - speaks plain English, easily understood by even vegetables. Doesn't mince words - says what he thinks, gives his reasons why he thinks that way, simple, short, and sweet.

Voting record that needs no defense. No hidden agenda. His record is 100% consistant with his spoken beliefs.

Appeals across the board. Has the backing of teachers, police, firemen, unions, farmers, environmentalists, soccer moms. Not a target of the NRA.

Brings the Midwest to the table, can definitely offer pluses to the Heartland and the West. Carries the East, and has started building bridges with the south.

Feingold has had a townhall meeting with every county in the state, all 72, every year since first being elected Senator. He knows how to build, and keep, grassroots support.

Owes NOTHING to corporate money. Does not take soft money. He is a big believer, proven by his record, of small government, fiscal responsibility, and a balanced budget.

All of this will sound good to Dems, and moderate Repubs.

And that's just two comments. It's clear that even if some of the momentum Senator Feingold had in February was lost, there's still a lot of support out there.

As the only possible candidate listed who was anti-war from the start, and with so much potential support from the Dean movement, the recent straw polls show that in the netroots, there's plenty of support for the maverick senator from Wisconsin.

18 June 2005

Quick Update

Just a quick site update...

Over the past several months, as this blog has grown little by little, I've been adding links to the side bar, and I just want to drawattention to them for a moment.

My latest additions, which I encourage everyone to check out, are Michigan Liberal, a Scoop-style site modeled after MyDD and Daily Kos, and that shows a lot of promise for organizing the progressive and liberal communities in our state, and The Rural Populist, a blog focused on rural issues and populist ideals. Brian Depew, who kindly commented on a previous post and said that he will soon be moving to our fair state, seems like an intelligent, forward-thinking guy. The rural point of view is particularly important to me, living in rural southern Michigan.

Those are the latest, but all of them are worth checking out.

Iraq Withdrawal?

So I'm back in the United States after a short trip north of the border, and, after a week and a half without internet access, I was surprised by the amount of Feingold-related news.

So, here's a quick sampling of what we had... In no particular order:
Feingold and Fighting Bob, Feingold and Evan Bayh, together in Wisconsin, money matters, and lastly, this just for fun.

However, the two biggest stories were the white powdery substance mailed to his Middleton office, which Jerry Troiano at NJ for Feingold basically has covered, and Senator Feingold's Iraq pullout legislation.

A number of people have made noise about this (including over at the new and improved website), but I want to add my own comments, if I might.

From a Common Dreams press release:

“While I was in Iraq in February, I was able to witness firsthand the truly amazing resolve all of our troops in Iraq – I cannot describe how very proud I am of all of those who serve. It is with that trip and those soldiers in mind that I will introduce a resolution tomorrow that calls on the President to clarify the objectives and timeframe of the current U.S. mission in Iraq, including a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops. And I will work with my colleagues to hold the Administration accountable for meeting our goals and achieving clear standards of success.

We owe our brave servicemen and women a concrete timetable for achieving clear goals, not vague, open-ended commitments. Having a timetable for the transfer of sovereignty and having a timetable for Iraqi elections have resulted in real political and strategic advantages. Having a timetable for the withdrawal of troops should be no different.”

Senator Feingold's resolution is exactly what we've come to expect from him; it challenges the Bush Administration to give us a clear plan and strategy, without demanding an immeadiate, and perhaps unwise, withdrawal. It recognizes that there is still a lot of work to be done in Iraq, and that once we're in, we've got to stay in for some time. After the damage already caused, pulling out now would leave the region even more unstable than it is now. Senator Feingold sees the realities of the situation.

At the same time, though, this recognizes that the public is growing tired of this war. It was marketed as a quick, clean, efficient thing. "Greeted as liberators" and whatnot. Since the initial fall of Saddam Hussein, there has been no clear plan, and absolutely no exit strategy. What we have with Feingold's resolution is a chance to work out the next phase.

There have been some recently who have suggested that Senator Feingold could emerge as the anti-war candidate of 2008. And at first glance, that sounds great. It'll be a great way to be noticed. It'll get a lot of attention, it'll get him in the newspapers and on CNN's "Inside Politics", and it could even win the New Hampshire primary for him. But, in my opinion, it won't win the nomination or the general election.

An anti-war candidate would have demanded an immeadiate withdrawal, and Senator Feingold did not do that.

An anti-war candidate is framed entirely around that issue. If Senator Feingold gets noticed as an anti-war candidate, should he run, it would mean that health care, and education, and civil liberties, and half a dozen other issues that would be important to us would be shoved to the back page. The anti-war candidate makes noise, but doesn't win. He opens up the door for someone else to win. Eugene McCarthy was an anti-war candidate in 1968, and that's exactly what the country needed then to get LBJ out of the race and Robert F. Kennedy into it.

Other events of that race aside, I'd rather be supporting Bobby Kennedy than Eugene McCarthy.

There have been a lot of comparisons between Senator Feingold and Howard Dean, and I agree with a lot of them. But I think people are wrong when they say Dean was the anti-war candidate of 2004, because he wasn't. He was critical of the Bush Administration on numerous fronts, and laid out a good, progressive agenda, and he just happened to be anti-war.

Come 2008, I suspect that most Democratic candidates will be campaigning against the war, only because it's the popular thing to do. That won't be the issue. The issue will be finding the person to lead us out of the war. And that's Senator Russ Feingold.

Sorry for the sort of disjointed post here. It's late, and I'm tired. For those interested, the text of his resolution can be found here.

03 June 2005

An Apology and A Beginning

First off, I'd like to apologize to anyone who has been expecting regular postings lately. The second half of May was a very turbulent time in my life, unfortunately, and the past six months or so have been pretty rough overall. I wasn't even able to send that letter I wrote until this morning, sad to say. But with summer and blue skies and green grass, I think things are calming down again, so expect regular updates in the future. Except for next week, though, when I will be out of the country. But after that, all will be back to normal.

That's out of the way. Now, for the excitement...

Even though I haven't been writing much, I've still been following the news about the 2006 and 2008 races, the presidency, and, of course, Senator Russ Feingold. May seemed to be the Month of Hillary, with quite a few articles on Senator Clinton and her possible bid for the presidency. More recently, there's also been buzz about a Hillary Clinton vs. Laura Bush campaign. Hey, why not? It's fun to think about, and everyone deserves a little bit of buzz in the news now and then. Meanwhile, Senator Feingold has been continuing to do his job, with legislation intended to help the people of Wisconsin.

Then, in the Google News Alert e-mail I have set up for news about him, there was a link to this. And I came to the same conclusion of the author at that link: this could be the first step toward a bid for the presidency. Senator Feingold's PAC, the Progressive Patriots Fund, has launched a website to help further their goals and message.

Okay, so launching a website doesn't sound too exciting, does it? Well, to me, it does. With the website, the PAC will have a much easier time raising money and working to accomplish what it is trying to do, and it will raise Senator Feingold's visibility quite a bit. It's the first step toward a campaign website, in much the same way that Wesley Clark's WesPAC website has kept him visible for a potential 2008 run. So I'm excited, even if it's a touch premature.

It's still far too early for any major moves by Senator Feingold. But every now and then, something might be a good sign.