Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Veepstakes

The possibility that an '08 Democratic ticket will have Senator Feingold on it is still open.

Obviously I would welcome this eventuality, and it might revive this and other Feingold blogs. But I've refrained from discussing or speculating about this because this is/was a Feingold for PRESIDENT blog. I wasn't interested in second banana.

But since the good senator has left us no choice, now I suppose it can be open season on all the bananas.

For many, myself included, Senator Feingold would be the perfect balancing choice for VP, given that the presidential nominee will be some mushy faux-centrist type. On the issue of Iraq (which may loom as the issue of the day) the Democratic nominee will almost certainly have voted to allow President Bush to start this war (Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Biden, etc.) or at least supported the war in principle (Vilsack). Edwards at least has admitted he made a mistake, while the others now pretend they weren't really for it before they were against it.

Unfortunately Feingold is unlikely to be selected, even though there are good reasons to pick him. Why? Well there are a number of reasons that anyone could point to (twice divorced, too liberal), but I'm pretty sure the one major reason will be his vote against dismissing the impeachment charges against President Clinton. It was a vintage Feingold move, showing his independence of Democratic orthodoxy and his willingness to let the Republicans make fools out of themselves if they wanted to. But the Democratic Party is very much in love with President Clinton, and Feingold's vote may have shown too much independence for the party establishment to forgive and forget.

Regardless, it gives those of us in Feingold land something to be cheerful about!

Is Nothing Sacred?

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I did, and I am very thankful for that.

However, while I was busy enjoying time with my family, both immediate and extended, some of the folks at the local Safeway were busy working. I had to run to the store the night before to pick up some last minute items for T-Day, and what do I learn? That Safeway is open on Thanksgiving Day from 6am to 11pm. Which means that some poor saps had to spend our national day of thanks toiling instead of being able to enjoy the day with the people they love.

I am kinda old fashioned about some things, and this is definitely one of them. It is downright un-American to be open on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day when you don't have to be. Obviously some people can't have the day off (cops, firemen, etc.), but most everyone else can, so why not give your workers a break?

Could the workers use the money? I'm sure they probably could. But here's a radical idea: Give them a PAID holiday! Could the folks who actually work be making more money than normal (i.e. time and a half, double time). I would f***ing hope so, but again, if the company is interested in seeing its workers with more money, they can give them a raise or a bonus.

The bottom line is that there is very little need for most places to be open on Thanksgiving or Christmas. And even if they feel compelled to be open they at least should have the decency to close early and let their workers go home and be with their families. Anything else is un-American.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Remember, The Good Guys Won

Now that the first salvo in the "Democrats War Against Themselves" has been fired, let's take a moment to remember and reflect on what actually happened on Election Day:

The Good Guys Won! (via Talking Points Memo)

The backing music on this? My buddy Billy Bragg playing a Woody Guthrie tune called: All You Fascists.

Update: I added a title to this post.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What DanK Said!

If you're inclined, take a stroll over to Missouri for Feingold and read DanK's thoughts on the premature end to Senator Feingold's 2008 presidential run. I think he captured almost everything I have thought and felt since yesterday.

I will only augment his fine statement to say that Senator Feingold is not just good on a lot of liberal/progressive issues. He is good on issues that really count (to me), and he has chosen to fight on those issues.

On issue after issue after issue Senator Feingold has shown that he "gets it" about what are the greatest threats to the health and well-being of our democracy. From his leadership on campaign finance reform to his resolution to censure President Bush over domestic spying, he has demonstrated that he understands how fragile our democracy is, and how easily it can be hijacked by those who have agendas inconsistent with the good of the people.

While I am definitely disappointed about the senator's decision I am also reminded that things could be, and have been, worse. At the end of the day we are fortunate to at least have him in the Senate doing good work.

Like DanK I'm not sure what I plan to do with this blog. For now I'll continue to post the odd thought here and there, and probably make a more concrete decision after the holidays.

For the next few days (or maybe minutes) just sit back and continue to savor the Democrats' victory on Tuesday, before the infighting makes us forget what Tuesday night and Wednesday morning felt like.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Feingold's Out

Whoa! This was a bummer to wake up to this morning.

Via Run Russ Run, below is what the man himself had to say:
Dear Friends and Supporters,

On Sunday, November 12th in Racine, I will hold my 1000th Listening Session with the people of Wisconsin. Before reaching that milestone, I want you to know that I've decided to continue my role as Wisconsin's Junior Senator in the U.S. Senate and not to seek the Democratic nomination for President in 2008.

Like many Americans, I am excited by the results of the November 7th election. My fourteen years in the Senate have been the greatest privilege of my life and I am extremely pleased with what we have accomplished. During so much of that time, however, we Democrats have not only been in the minority but have often been so deeply mired there that my role has often been to block bad ideas or to simply dissent. That is a very important role but I relish the thought that in this new Congress we can start, not only to undo much of the damage that one-party rule has done to America, we can actually advance progressive solutions to such major issues as guaranteed healthcare, dependence on oil, and our unbalanced trade policies. The Senate of the 110th Congress could also well be a place of greater bi-partisan opportunities for change; something I am very proud to have been effective at in both Republican and Democratic Senates.

I hope all of you know how much I have appreciated the incredible response you have given me and the efforts of our Progressive Patriots Fund since January, 2005. In addition to all of our work in Wisconsin and D.C., I have traveled to seventeen states trying to promote the election of progressive Democrats in all states. At every stop from Birmingham, Alabama to Burlington, Vermont, to Ft. Dodge, Iowa, to Las Vegas, Nevada, people have agreed with my view that we need to stand up for a strong, principled Democratic party that is willing to replace timidity with taking the risks of promoting a platform of bold solutions to our nation's problems. Unfailingly, people responded well to my positions: opposition to the Iraq war; calling for a timeline to redeploy our troops from Iraq so we can focus on those who attacked us on September 11th, 2001; my opposition to the flawed provisions of the USA Patriot Act that threaten the freedoms of law-abiding Americans; my call for accountability for the Administration's arrogant disregard for the law especially with regard to illegal wiretapping; fighting for fiscal responsibility including tough common sense budget rules that will help end the reckless policies that have heaped a mountain of debt on our children and grandchildren; as well as my strong belief in guaranteed healthcare for all Americans and substantial investment in alternative energy sources and technologies.

Yet, while I've certainly enjoyed the repeated comments or buttons saying, "Run Russ Run", or "Russ in '08", I often felt that if a piece of Wisconsin swiss cheese had taken the same positions I've taken, it would have elicited the same standing ovations. This is because the hunger for progressive change we feel is obviously not about me but about the desire for a genuinely different Democratic Party that is ready to begin to reverse the 25 years of growing extremism we have endured.

I'm sure a campaign for President would have been a great adventure and helpful in advancing a progressive agenda. At this time, however, I believe I can best advance that progressive agenda as a Senator with significant seniority in the new Senate serving on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Judiciary and Budget Committees. Although I have given it a lot of thought, I cannot muster the same enthusiasm for a race for President while I am trying simultaneously to advance our agenda in the Senate. In other words, if I really wanted to run for President, regardless of the odds or other possible candidates, I would do so. However, to put my family and all of my friends and supporters through such a process without having a very strong desire to run, seems inappropriate to me. And, yes, while I would strongly prefer that our nominee in 2008 be someone who had the judgment to oppose the Iraq war from the beginning, I am prepared to work as hard as I can through the Progressive Patriots Fund, and consistent with my duties in the Senate, to maintain or increase our gains from November 7 in the Congress and, of course, to elect a Democrat as President in 2008.

Most important, I want to continue my work as a Senator from this wonderful State of Wisconsin. Our fourteen year ongoing conversation that has taken place in hundreds of communities in Wisconsin in the form of open Listening Sessions is the principal reason I have been perceived as "ahead of the curve" on many key issues. Simply listening to the reasoning and passions of Wisconsinites remains the best source of good ideas and common sense I've ever encountered.

I love this country very much and am so lucky to be able to serve it in the United States Senate. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement.



Russ Feingold
Middleton, Wisconsin
I'm going to take some time and process all this.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Two Wrongs Make a Right, Lisa

Bart: Somebody ought to ruin Gabbo's career the way he ruined Krusty's.
Lisa: Two wrongs don't make a right, Bart.
Bart: Yes they do.
Lisa: No they don't.
Bart: Yes they do!
Lisa: No they don't!
Bart: Yes they do!!
Lisa: Daaaad!
Homer: Two wrongs make a right, Lisa.
-- ``Krusty Gets Kancelled''
It was with a wry smile that I sat watching Senator Schumer lecturing now outgoing Senator Allen about being a "gentleman" and conceding the election without forcing a recount. Apparently Allen got the message because he finally threw in the towel, and the Democrats did the near impossible by retaking the Senate.

I couldn't help but think back to Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 where the Republicans got all in a snit and accused Gore and Kerry of being spoiled sports for taking a close look at whether or not they may have actually won the election. So now they got their comeuppance.

Not that it matters now, but I would not have begrudged Senator Allen a shot at the recount. Here in Washington we went through 2 recounts before we got Governor Gregoire, and somehow we survived.

Anyway, good riddance to you Senator Allen. Perhaps you now have more time for your confederate flag and noose obsession.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Franchise

No, I'm not talking about Steve Francis.

I just exercised my right to vote, and thought I'd ruminate about some of my choices.

The most agonizing was for the US Senate. It was the last item I voted on and I needed all that time to decide what I could live with more: voting for Maria, or having her lose in a nail-biter election where my vote might actually have made a difference. In the end I voted for Maria, but I'm far from happy about it. I'm very concerned that if she wins she'll take the victory as a validation of her position on Iraq. Although here we are at the end of 2006 (the "year of transition"), and she should find herself well positioned after Election Day. If anti-war sentiment remains high, she can declare that there hasn't been enough transitioning. Or, she can declare that sufficient transitioning has occurred and continue to rubber-stamp whatever the White House wants. She will have arrived at this position without taking a definitive stand on Iraq at a time when the political fall out of a definitive stance is unclear.

Anyway, while I still think she's bad on Iraq, and I don't really trust her on most other issues, she has been surprisingly good in some areas. She voted against the Bankruptcy Reform Act, she stared down Senator Ted "NO!" Stevens and his Bridge to Nowhere, and she voted against Bush's Supreme Court nominees (including a vote to filibuster Justice Alito) (caveat: I personally agree with Feingold on Roberts, but I give Maria credit for understanding that her base was/is restless and she needed to tend to them). So throw all that in a pot, cook it for 52 minutes, and give her another 6 years I guess.

Other noteworthy items from the ballot, I voted against I920 and I933. I voted for I937, less because I agree with this formula for energy conservation, and more because a poor showing on this initiative could set back conservation efforts for a number of years.

There you have it! Here's hoping for a good Election Day. The Seahawks won last night, so that got the week off to a good start. I hope the Democrats can make it 2 for 2.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

2006 Elections

I haven't felt good on election night since 1992 (incidentally, the year Feingold won his first term in the Senate, but I wasn't really aware of that back then).

1994 was excruciatingly painful.

1996 held little joy for me after Clinton signed the welfare reform bill (which was merely the culmination of a number of betrayals leading up to that final straw).

1998 was ok, but Democrats failed to take back either house of Congress, and some of the other victories set the stage for later defeats (See, Gray Davis in CA).

2000, we all know, was a mess.

2002 was the most demoralizing election I've ever observed (compounded by the tragic loss of Paul Wellstone) with the exception of . . .

2004: Worst. Election. Ever.

All the talk about 2006 is about how big the Democratic wave will be. I hate to be a killjoy, but I'll believe it when I see it. Don't get me wrong, I think all the reasons that people cite about why this should be a Democratic year are true. But, to varying degrees, they're the same reasons why Dems should have won in 2002 and 2004, namely that people are finally fed up with the Bush Administration and the Republicans in Congress.

Maybe it's taken 6 years for people to finally get fed up. I hope that's true, but I'm not expecting it.

Here's hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst!