June 27, 2006

Speaking the truth to power

Senator Russ Feingold's appearance on last Sunday's Meet the Press with Tim Russert was an eye-opener. Feingold's performance was near flawless, with not a misstep during his grilling by Russert. (though admittedly, Russert didn't get beligerant with him, but when he did try to hammer Feingold, Feingold came out smelling like a rose.)

Feingold has called for a censure resolution against Bush for his illegal actions in wiretapping American citizens without court approval, has characterized this illegal action as an impeachable offense.

Feingold's censure resolution had the predictable result of Democrats running like scared rabbits away from it. Even though this was just a call for censure for clearly illegal acts by this president, Dems, showing just how spineless and under the thrall of their conservative consultants they are, refused to stand up and be counted, even though most of the country would have supported them if they had. Why they refuse to stand up to Bush is simply infuriating.

It sometimes seems as if Bush and Cheney must have incriminating video of each and every one of them for them to act so sheepish and spineless.

But before you rush to assume that Feingold's resolution or views are too "out there" for someone like Obama to support, just watch or read the transcript of MTP and see how rational Feingold's case truly is.

Feingold responded to Dick Cheney's criticism, made the often overlooked point that our actions in Iraq have played directly into Bin Laden and al Queda's hands, and provides many facts which most Americans haven't had the chance to hear.

I highly recommend that readers either read the transcript or better yet, watch the interview here.

The more I see and hear from Feingold, the more impressed I become.


At 6/28/2006 6:51 AM, Blogger Dave Barrett said...

I also have been impressed with Feingold. Have you noticed how seldom he is mentioned when the corporate media discusses the 2008 presidential race?

At 6/28/2006 12:56 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Unfortunately, the holdover from WJC's success is the belief that only DLC moderate types can win. Feingold's an aberation. The first time he was nominated, four DLC types split the vote and he sneaked in the nomination, then clobbered the Repub. There's room for good old, lefty activism in the party outside of California.

Obama's not DLC. Blanche Lincoln's not. There are those who say Jennifer Granholm's gonna lose because she's not DLC enough. We'll see. The most important thing to be in this election cycle is "not-Bush" and "pro-consumer".

Anyway, it was fun watch Feingold just toss caution to the wind and say "It's freakin' illegal....let's line up and see who supports this crap!"


At 6/28/2006 2:08 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I'm sure that the "conventional wisdom" on Feingold has already cast him as some "far-out" candidate, even though, as the transcript and video prove, he's eminently rational and sensible.

How long before he's compared to Eugene McCarthy or George McGovern? Just a "peacenik" candidate from Wisconsin.

I was glad to see him get a prominent forum on MTP, and thought he did excellent there.

I also hope that as the primaries draw near, that he begins to get more attention and funding.

The interview also touched on his almost lone vote to confirm Justice Roberts, a position he still stands by. That should insulate him a little from being branded just some (shudder) "liberal".

And give that a substantial majority of the country now realizes the folly of our invasion of Iraq, Feingold having been one of only a handful of votes against the war to begin with can't help but seem precient and show him as one of the only politicians who didn't get stampeded into supporting this mistake by political winds.

At 6/28/2006 2:36 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

I didn't see the previous comments here before I posted the above, which reminded me of one more thing I wanted to say about a Feingold candidacy: we were robbed of an honest debate about the war in Iraq during the '04 election. The idiot Democrats, rather than go with someone who opposed the war, went with the Whatever The Polls Say Kerry, who thought he would be innoculated from criticism by his three months in VietNam. You'll notice he did all he could to suppress his anti-war "Winter Soldier" days and refused to release his full military, financial and health records. Kerry is now AGAINST the war, before he was for it before it was against it, etc. So instead of a REAL debate about the war, we instead had to relive Kerry's and Bush's military service in the '60s. The Democrats didn't want to debate the war in '04----will they want to in '06 or '08?

At 6/28/2006 2:46 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

urm sez: "Obama's not DLC". Then what to make of this where Obama says that Democrats must court evangelicals? Crass political move or heartfelt belief?

At 6/28/2006 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The two guys that impress me at this point are Feingold and Mark Warner.

I saw them speak on C-Span in early June. Click on this link, then drill down on the matching link under "recent programs" to launch the speech:

RTWH: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and fmr. Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) (06/04/2006)

At 6/28/2006 5:25 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Unfortunately, he gets almost no props for the courageous Roberts vote because of their prior association.

Speaking of that vote and Alito's too, wouldn't you have liked to have had a listening device inside Liebermann's head monitoring his self-talk on those?

George McGovern and Gene McCarthy were wonderful Americans but one thing kept each of them from gaining a following. McCarthy was about a half bubble off of plumb, moderately crazed acting. McGovern (who I knew well and liked) had an almost effeminate demeanor. Feingold, while a brain, is a hard-charging, regular acting guy. Having said that, he does some weird stuff too. Remember when he "unilaterally disarmed" in his reelection campaign to make his point about campaign finance reform? He lost his large lead in the polls and had to scramble to get it back at the end. That's a lot of principle.

I like him because he is the poster boy for "You don't have to be DLC to be a successful democrat!".

Thanks for the review. It was interesting to see that someone thought pretty much what I thought when I first saw it.

At 6/28/2006 6:24 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

6 of the 7 Al-Quaida wannabes/plotters arrested in Miami last week were AMERICAN CITIZENS. If the Justice Department wants to do wiretaps without "court approval" then more power to them. And I think the majority of Americans will support that point of view.

Democrats like Russ Feingold can keep saying what they are saying and you know what? Democrats will still be sitting around the day after the elections scratching their heads wondering "Gee, what went wrong?" "Why can't we win elections"? "Why can't our message connect with mainstream Americans?"

Gee, I wonder. Consider the comments of Feingold and key Democrats and critics of the Patriot Act, in light of newly emerging homespun terrorist cells comprised of...you guessed it, American citizens.

Instead of "censuring" the President, why not "censure" all the nutjobs out there who are living in the shadows of our free society, trying to buy explosive materials and wreak havoc but who have not been caught yet. These are the people we need to go after. But instead, Feingold goes after Bush.

At 6/28/2006 11:05 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Huck, I'm right there with you. Feingold and Warner are the most appealing potential candidates in my view, judging from what I've seen and heard so far.

Both attractive, very articulate, energetic, represent new ways of thinking and doing things, and not easily put into a neat, stereotypical box.

I'll be sure to listen to the speeches you linked to. Thanks.

At 6/28/2006 11:10 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Dook 14:36,

Though I might not put it EXACTLY as you have, sadly, I can't argue much with your premise. I think you're right in saying that the Dems abdicated any chance to debate the war. They (or more rightly the DLC type consultants) completely took the war off the table as a big loser for the Dems. What a crying shame. Both for Kerry and for the country.

That's only one more reason I truly hope that these DLC conservatives get the big brush off when it comes to steering the next Dem candidate.

Their way of thinking caused the Dems to lose in '00, '02, and '04. Gee, do ya think maybe they ought to try something else besides kissing conservative and corporate asses and walking on eggshells to make sure not to offend them?

At 6/28/2006 11:18 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Sadly, I don't think you are aware of the facts as they stand. You've likely heard all this misinformation from the conservatoids and believe it.

The facts are these:

There is a Foreign Intelligence Survellance Court set up by statute precisely to reveiew any requests for surveliance to do with... you guessed it... foreign intelligence matters.

This court is composed of a few judges. Over the years they've approved roughly 20,000 warrants. They've declined about 4.

OK. Got that.

There is also a provision written into the FISA statute which allows for searches and wiretaps to be done BEFORE a warrant is obtained.

The agency involved then has to present the evidence to the FISA court AFTER THE FACT and explain why they had to move that quickly, and ask the court to rule.

IT IS A MATTER OF ESTABLISHED FACT that this FISA court almost NEVER turns down a warrent. As I said, it's happened a handful of times out of tens if not hundreds of thousands of warrent applications.

And the government can DO the surveillance WITHOUT A WARRENT already, and all they have to do is go back and get one after the fact and explain why they had to move quickly.

So Nico, given those facts. Can you explain to me why Bush/Cheney insists on bypassing even this rubber-stamp FISA court?

It's simply grabbing for the illegal power to SPY ON WHOMEVER THEY FEEL LIKE, whith NO OVERSIGHT WHATSOEVER!!!!

That is flat wrong, illegal, and unconstitutional in every way shape and form.

Please do some research and you'll find what I say to be true.

The government has a means to spy on almost anyone they want already, through the FISA courts. There is no legitimate reason for going around and above even that minimal oversight, PERIOD.

At 6/29/2006 1:27 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

Why does the White House avoid going through the FISA court to obtain a warrant? Because of national security.
For example: Lets's say that 2 judges (or lawyers) know who the White House wants permission to spy on. That is 2 more people who know. And that means potentially 2 more leakers. And the next thing you know it's in the New York Times (AGAIN) and our intelligence gathering has been compromised. I don't care how easy it is to get a warrant, loose lips cost lives and the fewer people know the better.
I hate to break this to you, but we can't trust anybody in this day and age. So that is probably why Bush wants to bypass the red tape to conduct surveillance.

Regarding Feingold's case for censure and his political aspirations: Good luck in making this case in a 30 second soundbite. Good luck communicating the minutae of the "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court" and why this censure of Bush is in our national interest.
I am sure that Joe Sixpack will understand all of this and he can go to bed at night feeling safer that Feingold forced the President of the United States to "play by the rules" when he wants to spy on terrorists who wish to do us harm.
Give me a break. And you wonder why the Democrats are destined to be a permanent minority and why they lack a coherent message? Listen to yourselves sometime.

You need a majority to win elections and you need to connect with all of the Joe Sixpacks.
These voters are not the most intellectual, informed, or sophisticated, but they have the numbers. They vote their gut instincts and national security...and they aren't going to buy this crap that Feingold is putting out.
Remember, Feingold's base is the leftist Madison, Wisconsin. That is a long, long way from Main Street USA and Joe Sixpack.

At 6/29/2006 2:08 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Nico, your argument about why the courts should be bypassed is absolutely ridiculous.

It makes the point exactly that this administration simply want to be an unchecked and totally out of control power, something which tosses the very constitutional structure out the window!!

How in the world can you even suggest that the president should just do whatever the hell he feels like, spying on citizens, etc. without any court oversight because a handful of judges "can't be trusted"?? !!!

That's insane!

You're truly arguing for a complete dictatorship. (I'll try to avoid the Nazi analogies, but it's tough)

Yeah, Nico, following your reasoning, why not just toss out the judiciary branch altogether, huh? If they can't be trusted with national security matters, how can we trust them with anything else? And while we're at it, what good is the legislature?

I couldn't get past the silly notion that one entire branch of government should be completely blown off by another because the judges might "leak." That's the wildest theory I've heard in a long time.

What about all the NSA people, law enforcement, FBI, etc. who would know about the surveillance? THOSE many people are sure not to "leak", but the handful of judges sworn to rule secretly on these matters on a routine basis might?

Please reconsider your view.

I admit that your view was so bizarre and stunning that it stopped me dead in my tracks before I even got to read the rest of your comment re: Feingold, but perhaps I'll get to that later.

At 6/29/2006 8:33 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

I have another surprise for you -We live in a constitutional republic, not a pure democracy with absolute freedom and openess.

Yes, we are supposed to have a system of checks and balances and a balance of power. But the truth is, for many years we have had an imbalance (some would say "abuse" of power, or "imperial presidency", etc.) For example: Ask yourself why no war has been declared since WW2. The War Powers Act is a complete abrogation of the legislative branch's contitutional authority to declare war. There are many other examples as well. Maybe we can AGREE that Congress likes to "bend over" and forfeit their power. By contrast, the judicial branch craves power. We are always hearing about judges legislating from the bench, judicial activism, judicial tyranny, etc. We need all 3 branches. But there is one upsmanship that goes on. That's politics.

I am sticking to my original argument; we'll have to agree to disagree. Things are done at the classified level all the time, in the name of national security. Some call it the "shadow government". It's not necessarily constitutional and it's gone on for years, I'm afraid.

There are also less subtle and legal ways that the executive branch can get one up on the other 2 branches. The "signed statements" are an example of this. Also, check out the sweeping powers that the president has in the form of "executive orders". Recent events have proven that there are leakers, there are those who abuse the freedom of press, and there are, to quote Michael Savage, "enemies within". I know that sounds Nixonesque and it is not lost on me that Presidents Nixon and Clinton tried to go above the law. Well enough of my yakking-next time we will discuss a few Democratic presidential contenders, past and present.

At 6/30/2006 1:01 PM, Blogger UMRBlog said...

Oh, Please! Is this Nicotine supposed to be some kind of original material?

Boil it down: We live in a Republic (Which proves what?) and "Judges Can't be trusted" (From which we're supposed to conclude we should only have two branches of Gov't, or just Gonzo?).

In the biblic sense, moderate sized pearls are being cast before rather robust swine.

TID, you can't teach something to somebody who already knows everything.

Upper Mississippi River Basin Blog
(but you can call me "UMRBlog".

At 6/30/2006 8:11 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

Sorry for getting so long winded and "carried away with the current". I really do try to edit down my posts.

At 7/01/2006 2:56 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...


No need for apologies. There is no limit on the size of comments. Of course, many people seem to have some sort of ADD and can't be bothered to read more than a short comment apparently. But don't let that cause you to feel like you can't explain yourself.

Of course, short comments are often more effective, but there are still a few of us who don't have to struggle to read through a few paragraphs.

I'm just concerned that it will become regarded as some sort of law that comments can only be a few short lines. That's simply not the case.

At 7/03/2006 9:52 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Umber- hey, what's wrong with an effemninate demeanor? Are you saying that women and/or persons who can be androgynous are not suited for politics?

Exactly what are you saying? You lost me on the hack at McGovern above.


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