Missouri for Feingold

Draft Russ Feingold for President in 2008

Sunday, November 12, 2006

So long, and thanks for all the hits...

Cross posted from my other Feingold blog

As you have probably heard by now, Senator Feingold has decided not to run for President. You can read his statement here and a good article about it here.

As many of you can guess, I'm pretty disappointed by this. As my last real blog post made clear, supporting Russ Feingold wasn't just about the war, or civil liberties, or fair trade, or campaign finance reform, as much as I care about those issues. It was about who Russ Feingold was. Despite being a legislator in the (until last Tuesday!) minority party, he is a leader. He is a man of vision, courage, and integrity.

Simply put, the reason I worked as hard for him as I did wasn't just that I liked his positions. It's becuase I knew that, if elected, he would not let me down. That's a pretty rare quality for a leader. Honestly, in my lifetime I can only think of a few other individuals I could say that about, and they are mostly either dead (Senators Paul Simon and Paul Wellstone, Governor Mel Carnahan) or fictional characters (President Josiah Bartlet, Captain Jean-Luc Picard).

Who's left that's alive and real? No one who might run. Bill Bradley seems to be done with politics. Howard Dean has promised he won't run since he's DNC Chair. Dick Durbin seems to think the other senator from Illinois is better suited for the Oval Office than he is.

So, yeah I'm disappointed. I wanted someone to run who I knew wouldn't let me down.

And I wanted someone who would challenge the conventional wisdom.

I was born nine months after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, and it seems like Reagan has defined the entire political landscape for the whole time I've been alive. Government is bad. Politicians can't be trusted. America can't solve it's domestic problems, so just ignore them. The suffering of your fellow Americans doesn't matter. That's the Reagan-Bush philosophy, and somedays it feels like it's been tacitly accepted by too many Americans.

And when Democrats nominate moderate candidates, they don't challenge that philosophy. Moderate Democrats are definitely better than Republicans, but they aren't going to achieve the goal I want. The goal I want is greater than getting the U.S. out of Iraq. The goal I want is greater than raising the minimum wage. The goal I want is greater than preserving our civil liberties.

What I want to see is a New Progressive Era in American politics. Let's challenge those Reagan-Bush assumptions. Let's get Americans to believe in themselves and their government again. Let's apply all our abilities to solving the problems facing this nation.

So, I can't say I'm excited by the prospect of hearing the Democratic candidates talk about their programs for tax credits for job creation. Yes, that's a good thing...but it's not big enough. And as the great architect Daniel Burnham once said, "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood, and probably will not be themselves realized."

Russ Feingold's campaign would have had the magic that would stir men's blood. Russ Feingold's campaign could have led to a New Progressive Era.

Win or lose, Russ Feingold's campaign would have, in the words of Leo McGarry, "raise[d] the level of public debate in this country, and let that be [it's] legacy."

But it's not to be.

I could say good things about all of the remaining potential 2008 Democratic candidates. And I could say bad things about all of them. Instead, I'll say nothing. For now, I'm just a spectator in that race. Perhaps, somebody will suprise me. Perhaps, the conventional wisdom will still be flouted. I hope so.

So that's pretty much it.

Except for this. The title of this post isn't just because I thought it would be fun to put a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference in here. I mean it.

Thank you to everyone who has read this blog; especially those who read it regularly. It meant so much to me to know I wasn't alone. And especially those who went on to start their own Feingold blogs or sites; especially ilya s., fitzy, and the whole RunRussRun.com steering committee. Thanks to Tony Palmeri and Roger Simon, for giving me the chance to see my name in the paper. And thanks to my friends and family who read this, and were still willing to admit they knew me.

I'm kicking around the idea of maybe starting another political blog. Not for a candidate, just for my thoughts. I might do that after Thanksgiving, or after my finals. I hope you folks will check it out if I do.

So, farewell, fellow Feingold fans. I guess we won't be going Forward with Feingold after all...but I hope you all keep doing whatever you can to move America Forward!

Best Wishes,

Daniel R. Kuehnert

Friday, November 10, 2006

Taking Back Harry's Other Seat

First off, a little apology to anyone who has stopped by here in the past couple of months, hoping that I'd finally gotten around to updating this blog. It was hard to find the time, and I felt that, given the intensity of the Senate race and the Stem Cell Amendment race, it would be difficult to keep this up to date on the 2006 races, and no one much was thinking about the 2008 races.

Fortunately, those 2006 races turned out pretty darn good for progressives in Missouri: the Stem Cell measure passed, the minimum wage was hiked, and Jim Talent was told to take a hike! Pretty exciting stuff, but it is just the beginning...

Throughout this campaign, Senator-elect McCaskill talked about the importance of the Democrats taking back Harry Truman's senate seat. Now it's time to focus on taking back Harry Truman's other seat: the one in the Oval Office.

And who better to take it back than Russ Feingold? Like Harry Truman, Russ Feingold has the vision to use the White House to fight for universal health care and other measures that will make the economy work for everybody. Like Harry Truman, Russ Feingold has the courage to stand up to the Republicans and tell the truth the American people. Like Harry Truman, Russ Feingold has the integrity to do what he thinks is right no matter what the polls or the pundits thinks.

Missouri will be the key to the Democrats taking back the White House in 2008. In the past century it has voted for the winner of the Presidential election every time except 1956. So, let's start laying the groundwork for winning Missouri for Russ Feingold!

To get more involved, go to RunRussRun.com, and if you'd like to help work on the Missouri for Feingold blog, just send me an email, I'd appreciate the help!

Why Not the Best?: A Rededication

Crossposted from my other Russ blog...

I’ve been working on this blog for about 23 months now. I haven’t been able to work on it regularly. It’s been difficult to fit in at times, first with my job, and now with law school. But I’ve tried to keep it up, and I’ve encouraged others to start their own Feingold blogs and websites. Now, I want to explain to readers new and old why, exactly, I’ve been blogging in support of a dark horse candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination since December of 2004.

I could begin my story back when I first started the blog. Or earlier than that, back in 1999, when I first heard about Senator Feingold and his campaign finance reform efforts. But I think the story actually begins earlier than that. It begins one day when I was in study hall in high school.

I liked to spend study hall in the library, so if I got bored with my homework I could look at the books. I especially liked looking at the biographies, and one day, I don’t remember when, I came across a paperback copy of Jimmy Carter’s 1976 campaign autobiography: “Why Not the Best?” I don’t know if I ever read the whole book, and I don’t remember much about it, but the title always stuck in my head. I think it is the only question people should ask when choosing their leaders: “Why not the best?”

And that’s why I was disappointed after Election Day 2004, when all the talking heads began chattering about possible 2008 Democratic candidates. They described various candidates in terms of their name recognition, their fundraising, and their perceived electability. But nobody talked about why these potential candidates make be good presidents. Nobody seemed to be asking the question “Why not the best?”

And that’s a problem because no matter how important it may be for obtaining the office, being President of the United States is not about courting big donors. Being President of the United States is not about being all things to all people. Being President of the United States is not about being able to get 50.1% of the vote in a swing state.

Being President of the United States is about vision. It’s about courage. It’s about integrity. It requires the best. And that is why I’ve been blogging in support of Senator Feingold for 23 months. Because he has what it takes to not only be elected president, but to be a great president.


Senator Feingold was one of less than two dozen senators who had the vision to vote against going to war in Iraq. And He was the only senator to see the danger in giving President Bush everything he wanted in the PATRIOT Act. Senator Feingold has a vision of an America that protects itself from terrorists while also protecting the liberties that have defined the United States the land of the free.

Senator Feingold had the foresight to oppose corporate-friendly “free trade” agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that have hurt workers here and in our neighboring countries. And Senator Feingold has a vision of creating a global economy that works for everyone.

As soon as Senator Feingold arrived in Washington, D.C., he saw the stranglehold that big donors and lobbyists had on the political process. And he has constantly worked to fight for campaign finance and lobbying reform. Senator Feingold has a vision of an America where the government works for the public interest, not the special interests.


Senator Feingold was alone in the Senate, opposing the PATRIOT Act. He was in a small minority in the Senate, opposing the Iraq War. He was the first senator to propose censuring President Bush because of his illegal wiretapping program. Senator Feingold has not been afraid to stand up to an Administration that is willing to stop at nothing to destroy those who oppose it; as Max Cleland and John Kerry can attest to.

Of course, the pundits wrote Senator Feingold off because of his courage. They thought it was “political suicide” to oppose the PATRIOT Act and the war. Well, Senator Feingold has survived “political suicide” so many times, he must have more lives than a cat. In 2004, Senator Feingold was reelected by his largest margin of victory: the people of Wisconsin know courage when they see it.

And courage doesn’t just mean standing up the Republicans, it requires standing up to members of his own party when he disagrees with them. Senator Feingold angered Tom Daschle as much as George Bush when he stood up to speak out against the PATRIOT Act. Senator Feingold was the only Democratic senator to vote against dismissing the impeachment charges against President Clinton without hearing the evidence first. That move didn’t win him many friends in his own party, but he thought it was the right thing to do…and that leads to…


Senator Feingold has won the respect of his Republican colleagues like Orrin Hatch and John McCain by being a man of integrity; staying true to his word and his principles. In 1998, when he ran for reelection, he refused to let the Democratic Party spend soft money for him, instead following the rules he proposed in a campaign finance bill that had not yet passed. Senator Feingold will not accept a pay raise during his six-year term, instead returning the money to the U.S. Treasury. And that is but one of five promises Senator Feingold made to the people of Wisconsin on his garage door in 1991, and has kept ever since then.

I know that to some people it is not enough that Senator Feingold would be a great president. It is not enough that he is a man of vision, courage and integrity. All they care about is one question: will he win?

I don’t know. I don’t possess a crystal ball, a deck of tarot cards, a time machine, or any other device that allows me to see the future. But I think he can win.

I think he can win because he has been elected to the Senate three-times from the Midwestern swing state of Wisconsin-the most average state in the nation according to a recent study-and he won it in 2004 with a much large percentage of the vote than John Kerry received.

I think he can win because Election Day 2006 saw dozens of victories for Democratic candidates who share Senator Feingold’s values of fighting terrorism while protecting civil liberties; of making the global economy work for everybody; and of making the government work for the public interest, not the special interests.

And I think he can win because I believe Americans are tired of voting out of fear. Republicans win by feeding on our fears of the worst that could happen. But Americans rejected that on Tuesday. Americans want to vote for something, and they want to vote for the best. They want to vote for a man of vision, courage, and integrity who will spend everyday he’s in office working for the public interest.

And that’s why I’ve been running this blog for 23 months.

Because I believe Americans want the best, and I believe it is the duty of the Democratic Party to offer it to them.

And because I still firmly believe, as I wrote over a year ago, that working together we, the people of the United States of America, can move our country and the world forward towards new horizons of opportunity, justice and peace.

So, once again, I say: Let’s go forward together! Let’s go forward with Feingold!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Return to Russ

Hey fellow Missourians for Feingold and others who might read this...I'm sorry I havem't posted much (er, at all) since starting this blog a while ago. I was really busy (as the post, crossposted from my other Feingold blog, will reveal). Right now this is probably the least interesting Feingold state blog around...but that's gonna change.

I'll have a Missouri-specific post soon...until then, enjoy my return to blogging...

Okay, so, first things fist: Why has it been so damned long since I've blogged?

Well it's a funny story. First, I had a major paper due in one of my classes, then I had to study for final exams, then I actually had to take final exams, then I engaged in this insane thing called the law review write-on competition, then I was out of town and without internet access, and then I was starting a new job.

Okay, so that story wasn't funny at all. But it was true, and I hope that's good enough. I consider this blog and working to make Russ Feingold the next president of the United States one of the most important things I do...however, at this point, it isn't always the most urgent thing I have to do. I'd like to promise that I'll never go this long without updating the blog again...but I think a better (and easier to keep) promise would be to stop making promises about how often I can get around to updating this thing.

I'll update it when I can, and when I do, I'll always do my best to make it is informative, intelligent, and entertaining as possible. Rest assured that I continue to believe that Russ Feingold is the best choice for the Democratic Party in 2008. In fact, every time I watch the news I wish I had the time and energy to blog here, because every time I watch the news I am reminded that this party and the nation need a man with the vision, courage, and integrity of Senator Russ Feingold.

Okay, the apology out of the way, let's talk about some of what was going on in the world of Russ since I've been gone...(Warning, this post is long...after all, I'm trying to make up for almost three months of not posting...)

Gay Marriage: On Wednesday the Senate rejected the Republicans latest attempt to write discrimination into the Constitution, once again rejecting the proposed amendment banning gay marriage by a vote of 49-48. While I am grateful to all the senators, Democratic and Republican (yes, seven of them actually voted against it) who helped defeat this amendment, this is a Feingold for President blog so, naturally I have to call attention to the fact that not only did Senator Feingold oppose the amendment, he has taken an even stronger stand for civil rights than the vast majority of his fellow senators, declaring his support for full marriage equality. As this (month old...yeah sorry about the delay, again) article notes:

In a speech here Saturday night to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Senate Democrat Russ Feingold vowed to help defeat the Wisconsin referendum, declaring that marriage "is not always and should not always be between a man and a woman."

Along with his state, Feingold may provide his own case study in the politics of gay marriage. Like most Democrats, he opposes a constitutional amendment defining marriage, an amendment that is expected to fail in the Senate next month. But he has gone a significant step further and declared his personal belief that gays and lesbians should be able to marry. He is one of only four U.S. senators - and the only potential 2008 presidential candidate - to do so.

Feingold has surprised even some gay rights advocates by stating his endorsement in such plain and unequivocal language, in contrast to the personal qualms about gay marriage typically voiced by political figures who support civil unions. Along with being honored at Saturday's dinner, the senator drew several standing ovations.
"It goes against a lot of what people were brought up to believe, let's face it," Feingold said in an interview last week. He said he declared his views because he was going to have to vote on the Wisconsin referendum.

"I thought it was best just to say what I really have concluded, that this is really the ultimate civil rights issue, not just a state's rights issue, and that I support gay marriage. If two people care enough about each other that they want to get married, they ought to be able to," he said.

I applaud Senator Feingold for once again ignoring the fear-mongering tactics of the Republicans and taking a bold stance in defense of civil rights. I hope that the people of Wisconsin will follow Senator Feingold's lead, and the state's Progressive heritage, and reject the referendum.

Of related interest: please check out Equality for Feingold, a blog for GLBT supporters of Senator Feingold; Senator Feingold's press release (from April...) announcing his support for marriage equality;, and Senator Feingold's Diary at DailyKos calling the gay marriage ban "A Shameful Political Ploy."

National Intelligence
: Unfortunately, unlike on the gay marriage amendment, the majority of the Senate did not follow Senator Feingold's lead when it came to opposing the confirmation of General Michael Hayden as CIA director, which passed by a vote of 78-15.

Senator Feingold's confirmation votes are always fascinating to observe as he tends to give great deference to the president to choose his own people, much to the chagrin of some of his supporters. Senator Feingold voted for the confirmations of John Ashcroft as Attorney General, Condi Rice as Secretary of State, and John Roberts as Chief Justice. He's certainly no partisan hack when it comes to these votes (or any votes really) and when he opposes a nominee (such as with Attorney General Gonzales and now General Hayden) there's probably a pretty damn good reason for it.

From Senator Feingold's statement in opposition to the Hayden confirmation:

"I voted against the nomination of General Michael Hayden to be Director of the CIA because I am not convinced that the nominee respects the rule of law and Congress's oversight responsibilities. General Hayden is highly experienced and talented. But, as Director of the NSA, General Hayden directed an illegal program that put Americans on American soil under surveillance without the legally required approval of a judge. Having finally been briefed about this program last week, I am more convinced than ever that it is illegal. Our country needs a CIA Director who is committed to fighting terrorism aggressively without breaking the law or infringing on the rights of Americans. General Hayden's role in implementing and publicly defending the warrantless surveillance program does not give me confidence that he is capable of fulfilling this important responsibility.
The stakes are high. Al Qaeda and its affiliates seek to destroy us. We must fight back and we must join this fight together, as a nation. But when Administration officials ignore the law and ignore the other branches of government, it distracts us from fighting our enemies. I am disappointed that the President decided to make such a controversial nomination at this time. While I defer to Presidents in considering nominations to positions in the executive branch, I cannot vote for a nominee whose conduct raises such troubling questions about his adherence to the rule of law."

During the Senate confirmation hearings Intelligence Committee chairman Senator Pat Roberts used his old catchphrase: "I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead."

Now that quote makes me feel like my head is going to explode; and it likely has the same effect on the rest of you. I thought for days about what would be the best thing to say to criticize such a ridiculous quote and the even more ridiculous ideas it stands for. Then I realized Senator Feingold had come up with the perfect response...over four years ago, in the debate on the PATRIOT Act in October of 2001:

"Of course, there is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists.

But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America."

Of related interest: The transcript of a great Feingold speech on National Security from the National Press Club ; a good commentary from TomPaine.com on that speech ; and Senator Feingold's statement about the death of al-Zarqawi.

Censure: Yes, it's been a while since Senator Feingold first introduced the idea of censuring President Bush for the domestic wiretapping program. Yes, it's no longer the talk of the town. But that doesn't mean the idea has disappeared and that doesn't mean it is not worth talking about.

The time that passed has proven that at least one of the arguments against the censure resolution was bunk: it did not galvanize support around President Bush...at least it didn't galvanize the support of the between 60 and 70 percent of Americans who continue to disapprove of the way President Bush is doing his job.

When asked by Jonathan Singer at myDD about another of the criticisms of the resolution, that it was all a political ploy by Senator Feingold, the answer reveals yet another reason why Senator Feingold would be a great president:
Feingold: Well, obviously it wasn't a political ploy, and I think most of the people asked in a poll like that don't know who I am. Anybody who knows who I am knows that this is the kind of thing I have been doing throughout my career when I think something's wrong, especially with lawbreaking or possible lawbreaking.

I was the only Democrat to vote to hear the evidence in the Clinton impeachment trial. I was one of the first two Democrats to call for an independent counsel when there were concerns about Democrat President Clinton's campaign finance practices. So I think anybody who really knows me knows that not only was this not political but I would have done this if a Democrat President was making such outrageous assertions about executive power as George Bush is doing.

After the Bush Administration I don't know if there is anything America needs more than a president who understands and respects the limits of executive power.

Of course, the fact that the criticisms of the censure proposal are wrong isn't actually a reason to support it. So, here is the reason I support it, stated as simply as possible: I don't want to have to explain to future generations why, when the president decided he could stop following the law merely because he didn't it like it any more, nobody stood up to tell him he couldn't do that.

So please, if you haven't already, head on over to Senator Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund website you can sign up in support of the censure resolution as a citizen co-sponsor; and then to MoveOn.org you can sign a petition in support of censure that will also be sent to your senators and representatives.

While I wish that Congress would have chosen of it's own accord to stand up and hold the President accountable, at the end of the day the responsibility lies with us, the American people, to demand that Congress take action and tell the President that we will not stand idly by while he breaks the law. I hope that we don't fail in that task. As the distinguished jurist Learned Hand once said, "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it."

(And obviously I've been in law school too long if I think quoting Learned Hand somehow magically makes my argument more compelling.)

New websites: Several new Feingold state websites are out there: Wisconsin, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas! Also of note, is RussForge a website for creating and sharing Internet resources for the Feingold movement.

And thus ends the update. See you in another two and a half months! (Kidding, kidding...)

Seriously, my thanks to everybody who read through this post and continues to read this blog. If you made a comment or sent an email in the past couple of months and didn't get a response, I apologize and please send or post it again and I'll get back to you. I really appreciate all the feedback I get.

Until next time, keep going Forward!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Welcome to Missouri for Feingold!

Hello, and welcome to Missouri for Feingold!

My name is Dan, and you may remember me from such blogs as http://russfeingold.blogspot.com and...well, pretty much that one.

So. why am I starting another blog supporting Russ Feingold for President...especially when I don't update the one I have nearly regularly enough?

Because I believe. Because I believe in America, the democratic process, and the Democratic Party. Because I believe in Russ Feingold. And because I believe in Missouri.

And yes, I believe Russ Feingold could win Missouri.

Why? Because I believe Russ Feingold stands for the same common sense Midwestern values that the people of Missouri believe in. That the government should balance its budget rather than amass huge deficits. That politicians should represent the people, not special interests. That the most important qualities in political leaders are common sense, honesty, and integrity.

Or, to put it another way, Russ Feingold stands for the same values as the only Missourian to become president, Harry S. Truman.

Harry Truman first gained national attention heading the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense (the Truman Committee), fighting war profiteering during World War II. Russ Feingold has made a name for himself fighting to eliminate government waste and clean up the political process.

Harry Truman famously put a sign saying "The buck stops here" on the desk of the Oval Office. Russ Feingold has worked harder than any other Democrat to hold the current president accountable, and not let him pass the buck.

Harry Truman was the first American president to call for Universal Health Care. Russ Feingold has said, "Health care for all Americans is the most pressing domestic issue today. It's far past time for the President and Congress to deliver health care to everyone."

Perhaps Harry Truman's greatest act was the Marshall Plan, helping rebuild Europe after the devastation of World War II. When the idea was first proposed a Gallop Poll showed that only 14% of the American people supported it; yet Truman went forward with it. Russ Feingold has constantly done what he thought best for the nation regardless of the political consequences-triumphing after the pundits wrote him off as having committed political suicide.

America wants another president with Truman's courage, honesty, and vision. And Russ Feingold is that man.

On my other blog I coined a slogan of Feingold for President supporters with "Forward with Feingold" . And that's a great slogan; but I think there's another phrase I've gotta use while ending this post: "Give 'em hell, Russ!"

Of course, Senator Feingold never gives anyone hell, he just gives them the truth...