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29 December 2005

Principled Leadership

A few days ago, I started Doris Kearns Goodwin's incredible, critically-acclaimed book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. I just love books like this, which give a view of the intricate history and political setting of a time period, showing how the players figured into it. It's far more than another biography of Abraham Lincoln; by following Seward, Chase, Bates, and others as well, you get a pretty good feel for how things happened, instead of being told what things happened.

Anyway, I love books like these. I was struck, however, by a passage I read earlier (on page 122, for those with a copy of the book). Regarding then-Congressman Lincoln's opposition to the Mexican-American War. Although he entered the House of Representatives after the fighting was over, when pressed to take a stand, he voiced his opposition to it, despite knowing that the war was popular with his constituents and the country as a whole. As would be expected, this hurt Lincoln politically.

... Compelling as Lincoln's criticisms might have been, they fell flat at a time when the majority of Americans were delighted with the outcome of the war. The Democratic Illinois State Register charged that Lincoln had disgraced his district with his "treasonable assault upon President Polk," claimed that "henceforth" he would be known as "Benedict Arnold," and predicted that he would enjoy only a single term. Lincoln sought to clarify his position, arguing that although he had challenged the instigation of the war, he had never voted against supplies for the soldiers. To accept Polk's position without question, he claimed, was to "allow the President to invade a neighboring nation . . . whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary."
(bold emphasis mine)

Sound familiar, anyone? Naturally, my thoughts turned to Senator Russ Feingold, who is himself known for principled, politically unwise votes. Of course, the most natural connection to make would be that Senator Feingold voted against the Iraq War but for the infamous $87 Billion that posed problems for Senator Kerry.

It's also interesting to see that although the conservatives are with the Republicans now and the progressives are with the Democrats, conservative rhetoric (ie. "treasonable assault") hasn't changed at all. Indeed, Senator Feingold, the only one at the time with a plan for Iraq, had his position totally misrepresented countless times.

For those who haven't read the book, or who don't know the history behind the Republican nomination battle in 1860, no one expected Abraham Lincoln, an unknown, one-term ex-congressman to win. The "presumptive nominee" was New York Senator William Henry Seward, and Ohio Governor Salmon Chase and Missouri Judge Edward Bates were both considered strong possibilities. But Lincoln, through taking principled stands on the issues, speaking eloquently and passionately on them, and by building a network of support going into the 1860 convention, surprised the nation by winning the nomination and the White House.

Now, am I saying Russ Feingold is a modern Lincoln? No. But as Mr. Lincoln showed in 1860, sometimes the impossible happens, when a person of strong character is in the right place at the right time. As in 1860, in 2008 the presumptive nominee is a certain New York Senator. And there's also a man of strong character coming out of the Midwest, who I think will surprise a lot of people.

Anyway, it's amazing what we can learn from history.

22 December 2005

December General Update

First, in the Senate. Last night, a compromise was reached in the Senate-- the USA PATRIOT Act has been renewed for six months, during which time more work can be done to protect our civil liberties. Senator Feingold explains what this means for the future in a Daily Kos diary. Check it out, as always it's worth reading. Also, told us of Feingold's role in the ANWR drilling debate.

With the PATRIOT Act, the NSA spying on American citizens, and Senator Feingold's showing his strength and leadership qualities, there's been a lot of buzz online about 2008. DKos, of course, is an excellent place to sample this, the latest diary I've seen suggesting that Senator Feingold has the same characteristics as a man who saved the world. What higher praise can you get than that? He is the right choice for 2008.

Doubtless, more buzz will begin with a discovery made by Joe Connolly with Friends of Feingold, then subsequently reported by RussForPresident. From the Federal Elections Commission:

Presented by the Federal Election Commission


Candidate listings may appear here as a result of draft committees or independent expenditure committees
registering with the FEC. If no official documents of an authorized committee appear below, the
individual identified here has taken no action to become a candidate.


Office Sought: President
State: Presidential Candidate
District: 03
Party: DEM (Democratic Party)
So. This is a very promising sign. He hasn't declared his candidacy, but obviously seeing his name listed is enough to make any Feingold supporter leap with joy.

Lastly, to all you Michigan supporters: e-mail me if you're interested in getting involved. I'm hoping that 2006 will be a very busy year for us.

16 December 2005

Cloture Vote - Feingold wins

Final tally:


61 votes were needed for cloture. Feingold wins, Senator Kerry was even seen congratulating him.

Check out Ilya's (of liveblogging thread on DailyKos for the play-by-play announcing.

That was exciting!

Pat Leahy's talking now, let's see what comes next... more updates may follow later.

USA PATRIOT Act Showdown

Okay, so, I've really been neglecting this blog, but I have reasons. Lots of stuff going on, and illness in which my temperature peaked at 102.6 degrees. Blogging for Feingold wasn't my top priority. But there's been a LOT going on lately.

So what's the story with Russ "The Lone Patriot" Feingold? Well, he went from being the only member of the Senate to vote against the PATRIOT Act in 2001 to being the leader of a bipartisan coalition to stop the PATRIOT Act in 2005. has been following this very closely, and there are postings on the topic here, here and here. But the best source of information is Senator Feingold himself, right?

Isn't it nice that this week, he's been blogging over at TPMCafe Table for One? It's all worth reading. Senator Feingold, as always, articulates clearly and eloquently his reasons for opposing reauthorization of the Act as it currently is.

And before I forget, Jerry at New Jersey for Feingold tells us that Russ has been chosen to fill Gov.-elect Jon Corzine's seat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

So. He's leading the fight to protect civil liberties, is (hopefully) about to give the Bush Administration a major defeat on one of their most important pieces of legislation, and he's been given a spot on arguably one of the most important committees in the Senate (on top of already being on Judiciary, Budget, and Foreign Relations). Suddenly, I suspect a lot of people are going to think more seriously about going Forward with Feingold in 2008.

If you can, be watching C-SPAN 2 today from 10 to 11AM. Final debate on the PATRIOT Act reauthorization and the vote on cloture. I'll have another post then.

13 December 2005

Urgent: Join Russ Feingold's Filibuster!

I just signed this petition to support Senator Russ Feingold as he prepares to filibuster the reauthorization of the PATRIOT act. He's promised to do whatever it takes to force Congress to adopt a version of the act that protects us from terrorism, while still preserving our rights and freedoms. Please go to the website listed below and join Russ Feingold and me in helping to make America both safe and free.

With your help, we can make real change. Please join me by signing
this petition:


09 December 2005

Ohio for Feingold... and beyond

Another blog has entered the pro-Feingold community: Ohio for Feingold. As everyone knows, Ohio was the key state in 2004, and will likely be a battleground state once again, especially if things go well in 2006 for Democrats. If Ohio goes to Feingold, then Missouri, Tennessee, Nevada, West Virginia, Colorado, and Florida are all within reach.

So an early effort in Ohio is an excellent start!

Now, some of you may be wondering how you can help on the local level. Do you live in a state that doesn't have a blog yet? Start one! Do you live in Michigan and want to help out? E-mail me! Are you not sure if your state has a blog? Check out the 50 State section on! Do you want more information on Russ Feingold that can't be found on any of the websites you've checked out? E-mail me, and I will endeavor to find out everything you wish to know.

Over the next few weeks, watch for updates on this site... I'm going to be trying a few new things.

02 December 2005

At -- Town Hall with Senator Feingold

From time to time, I find myself thinking about the way the world is and how it got to be this way, and the historical causes of it. Nearly every time I start pondering such things, I notice that in so many critical points in history, just one or two people's actions changed the outcome of events and helped create the world today.

Wouldn't it be fascinating to ask those people a few questions? Wouldn't it be every history buff's dream to ask Thomas Jefferson where he got the inspiration for the beautiful language used in the Declaration of Independence? Or have a chat with Abraham Lincoln about what leadership really means, and how his wisdom could be applied to current events? Ah, it would be an incredible experience to sit with Albert Einstein just before he developed the Theory of Relativity, and ask him about his thought processes.

Unfortunately, none of us have those opportunities. Few men and women are remembered by history, and when an opportunity arises to gain insight into their actions, only a fool would let it pass them by. And now you could potentially have that opportunity.

At, Ilya just announced that Senator Feingold has agreed to answer our questions.
Since the last election, Senator Feingold has been travelling the country from Florida to Illinois and Tennessee to New Hampshire. Along the way he's told people his ideas for the Democratic Party and the Country.

Now, is honored to have a Q and A with Senator Feingold. Ever wanted to know why the Senator supported John Roberts? Or what his views are on Gulf Coast reconstruction? Here's your chance to interact with the Senator himself. Post your question in the comments and we'll get as many as possible answered.

Questions must be submitted by noon (central time) on Tuesday.

Note. you must log in on the left side of the screen to ask a question. If you don't have an account yet, it takes 10 seconds to register.
So quit reading my blog and head on over to right now to submit your questions. We have no way of knowing if Russ Feingold will be remembered as a great man along the lines of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Einstein. But this I think can be stated with certainty: Feingold will help shape the 2008 election, and has the potential to be a fantastic president.