DraftRuss.Org Blog

Russ Feingold for President

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tom Vilsack: Run another term? The Iowa Gov race in 2006

ABC News: The Note: What Do Mindy and Katie Think About Iran's Nuclear Capability?: "
There's a movement afoot in Iowa to convince Gov. Tom Vilsack to please, please, run again, and while it cites David Yepsen for inspiration, it is not a special access program masterminded by the influential political journalist. Some of Vilsack's prominent supporters have created a website, LINK , that urges the governor to keep his mind firmly in Des Moines, forget about 2008, and seek a third term.
By announcing the Web site, Vilsack drafters hope the governor will use it as a way to open the door to another run. He is not term limited, but long ago announced his intention to not seek another four years.
But the door to re-election is shut for now. An adviser to Vilsack says he doubts the governor will change his mind soon; asked on Monday, Vilsack said he wasn't inclined to run and said there are many good candidates preparing to run.
Now then: Vilsack could take Yepsen's advice and at least drop hints that he might be willing to do it, and then he'd have some oomph to put behind his efforts to deal with Medicaid costs and property taxes this term.
The Web site names Jerry Crawford, Gordon Fischer, and Rev. Carlos C. Jayne as alleged supporters of its effort.
Iowa SoS Chet Culver (D) has coveted the seat for years; development czar Mike Blouin is another potential Democratic candidate and is reportedly a favorite of the governor. State Assembly Minority Leader Mike Gronstal is also thinking about a run.
Some Vilsack supporters are worried that Culver will win the nomination but lose the general election.
Republicans angling for the state house include Rep. Jim Nussle, Bob Vander Platts, and Doug Gross. Nussle and Gross will tussle for GOP establishment support. "

Although I'm uncommitted to the idea, I am interested in this. Tom Vilsack has done something, like most politicians, to make everyone mad at him at some point or another. This includes myself. But overall, I must say that he's been a great governor. He's had very little to work with in terms of cooperation from the legislature, and I like him because he's a sincere advocate for children. This is not surprising, considering his background and his childhood. Vilsack has said repeatedly, NO! We'll see if he's sincere.

I've heard talk of Tom Harkin stepping in the race. A Tom Harkin versus Jim Nussle race would be the most insane, dirty, and intense campaign I could think of. My money would be on Harkin in that knife fight. But I think Harkin probably enjoys his 6 year terms and the work he does in the US Senate.

All of this talk is because the Democratic field is looking pretty thin for winners. The leading favorite is Chet Culver, son of former Senator John Culver, and the current Secretary of State. Chet seems pretty thin on details, and it's hard to have much of a broad range record as Secretary of State. He's taken lots of heat from the press and the GOP about how he handled the 2004 election, specifically sending out voter information packets, which the GOP of course claimed was a waste of money. Being known as a waster of government resources won't get you elected governor of Iowa.

I personally really like Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal. He's a good and able man, but I'm not sure how he'd play across the state. He's really a wild card.

State Rep. Ed Fallon is the most progressive Iowan alive perhaps, but I can't see him winning. Plus, when he endorsed Nader in 2000, that really upset many Democrats, just as Nader himself still does to this day. It is worth noting that Rep. Fallon was also the only legislator to endorse Dennis Kucinich in 2004.

Mike Blouin is also interesting. He's a former Congressman, and also head of Dept. of Economic Development. I'm not totally sure, but I believe he is pro-life, which could turn off the Democratic base.

For the GOP, Rep. Nussle is one of the most powerful men on Capitol Hill. He's chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. In other words, Chairman Nussle is in charge of the committee that writes the budget. And we all know what great budgets congress has put out in the past few years. I personally don't see Nussle winning, but I've been wrong about plenty of things.

Bob Vander Platts is a Sioux City businessman. Think of a stereotypical conservative midwestern Republican businessman. That's this guy.

Des Moines Lawyer Doug Gross lost to Vilsack in 2002. He's got a permanent scowl on his face. He really didn't look like a compassionate conservative one bit. Gross is very smart and able, but I can't see him winning an election for anything, ever.

Letters from around the world

So far, in just one month, we've received hundreds of letters of support for Senator Feingold. We're currently going through them, and weeding out freepers. There haven't been to many of them, and the few who have, have been sorely lacking in wit. That kind of goes without saying when thinking about the rhetorical skills of 90% of freepers.

These letters have been moving and inspiring. From mothers of Iraq War veterans to people without health care, to those who feel like their rights are slowly being taken away, people across this nation are responding to Senator Feingold. We've received letters from all across the US, from many adoring constituents of Wisconsin, from citizens in other nations, and from US Territories. The message is clear:

Senator Feingold, the nation needs you.


ABC News: The Note: What Do Mindy and Katie Think About Iran's Nuclear Capability?: "AmericansForRice, the first major Web-based movement to urge Secretary Rice to run for President, will be expanding its online presence in the next few weeks.
Matt May, formerly a C-SPAN archivist, will be their blogmaster. And the group will soon install a dedicated phone line to reach its staff, which, while it ain't a fundraising team or a caucus commitment, is a good place to start. AmericansForRice is the brainchild of Dr. Richard Mason, a Miami Republican, and has active co-chairs in at least three other states. Mason and his allies plan to seed movements in all 50 states."

I really can't see Dr. Rice as too much of a politician. While it is obvious that being National Security Advisor and Secretary of State are such high profile jobs that they are political in nature, I haven't seen her excel in this whatsoever. Not to mention, that it's not really clear what her views on domestic issues are, and therefore, not clear what her appeal to the Republican base would be.

Either way, it's something to be aware of. The Draft Russ website wasn't started by anyone employed by the media (like this), nor party insiders (like Draft Wesly Clark). Just two dudes from Iowa - a student and a food bank worker.

Monday, February 14, 2005

ABC News: Bush Urges Renewal of Patriot Act

ABC News: Bush Urges Renewal of Patriot Act: " President Bush on Monday urged Congress to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, the Justice Department's widely criticized anti-terrorism law.
'We must not allow the passage of time or the illusion of safety to weaken our resolve in this new war' on terrorism, Bush said at a swearing-in ceremony for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the Justice Department. "

Senator Feingold was the only US Senator to vote against the USAPATRIOT Act. What bothers me, is that this act is frequently called the USA Patriot Act, by the media, by right wingers and conservatives, and even by liberals and progressives.

There is nothing patriotic about the act of stripping civil liberties of free citizens of a democracy. The "USAPATRIOT" part, is merely an acronym, that stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act." Nothing about the bill is "USA," or American, and nothing about the bill is patriotic. It's just an acronym, and a cheesy one at that.

So no more USA Patriot Act. It's the USAPATRIOT Act. I'll also accept the U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, but by using this silly name, we're playing in the the hands of those who wish to trade away right for the feeling of security.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

What John Edwards is up to now...

News From The Associated Press: "MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards, getting the 2008 campaign cycle off to an early start, said Saturday that poverty 'is one of the great moral issues of our time' and he pledged to help fight it.
'It may seem like an impossible task to end poverty, but that's what skeptics have always said about the great struggles we have faced,' he said. 'If we can put a man on the moon, cure polio, and put a library on a little chip, then we can end poverty.'"

John Edwards' message has always really appealed to me. The "Two Americas" stump speech that he developed over the course of the campaign really resonated with my core Democratic instincts. It was, in essence, everything Kerry was trying to say about the economy throughout the 2004 general election. John Kerry, unfortunatley, speaks "Senate-ese." (Hint to John Kerry: We speak many languagues in the US, but that is not one of them) I'm giving away a little secret here, but in the 2004 Caucuses, John Edwards is who I was counted for (for those unfamiliar with our strange process, we don't exactly cast ballots) and I am proud of that.

There is little doubt that John Edwards will run for President once more. Fighting poverty is very near to my heart. In my real-world job, I work for a Food Bank and I am involved with advocacy for low income people, mostly dealing with hunger. I sincerely hope that John Edwards will work hard for this now (since he doesn't exactly have a job) and not just talk about it.

I would still support a Russ Feingold candidacy over a John Edwards one. I had real problems with Edwards' record, or lack thereof on many things. That is why he wasn't my first choice at the caucuses. Senator Feingold is someone that I believe really has both the message, and the record to successfully sell that age old Democratic message to all Americans, both red and blue staters.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Feingold on C-Span's Q&A

>> Feingold's Q&A Interview

Senator Feingold was on C-Span's Q&A last night, covering topics from 'what it means to be progressive' to 'why the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform was effective and what to do next' to 'why earmarks should be separate votes', just to list a few.

The appearance was excellent. Feingold's answers, as always, gave me further insight into where he stands and why. One particularly interesting bit caught my attention:

"I grew up believing that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s the way I understood it. But I don’t think it’s my job to sit in judgment on people on that issue. I believe this is up to the states. And I generally think a society where people who are monogamous, where people who love each other come together and form stable families is better than the opposite. And so, I don’t think it’s my job as a United States senator to pass judgment on who should be married."

This is one of the strongest stands I've seen Feingold take yet in favor of getting the government out of our bedrooms. This is a big issue for me because I've never seen the purpose of letting someone in an office somewhere tell you who you can love and how you can love them, permitted you're not infringing upon anyone's rights.

One final note: www.draftruss.com was mentioned on the program. We were referred to as "a blogger who follows your every move". That's not entirely the case, given that we are more than a blog, we're a movement. Every time that anyone out there gets involved, you are as important as we are

It's somewhat amusing,though, that we were painted this time as being one person with an obsession while last time, on The Note, we were more or less accused of being a task force on the senator's payroll. One of these days those silly pundits'll learn that not everything works in extremes.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Netroots and Russ Feingold

MyDD :: If these were the choices in 2008, who would you support?: "If these were the choices in 2008, who would you support?

Evan Bayh 17 votes - 8 %
Hillary Clinton 18 votes - 8 %
John Edwards 44 votes - 21 %
Russ Feingold 107 votes - 51 %
Bill Richardson 22 votes - 10 %

208 Total Votes"

It's not scientific by ANY measure, but I think that it's a sign of the netroots' support. No, Feingold isn't probably supported by 51% of the netroots, but think of it in this way. With Dean now a reformer at the helm of the party, the netroots want to a reformer as the candidate.

There are many things I could say about the netroots, but most importantly, the community is mostly reformers. Until they had a way to communicate (through blogs and the internet), no one would listen - at any level of the Democratic Party.

JS Online: Feingold sizes up presidential race

JS Online: Feingold sizes up presidential race: "Talking at length about his political plans and the future of his party, Sen. Russ Feingold said he would consider running for president in 2008 if there is enough encouragement and interest from Democrats and if he thinks he has a real shot at winning the nomination. "

Well our goal is simple - he's already thinking about it - and we need to convince him that "there is enough encouragement and interest" out here for him to take that chance.

"If at some point people say, 'Hey, we think you ought to run for president' (and) it's a serious thing, I'm going to listen. I would only run if I honestly believed that I was the guy that really could win, that I was the person who was the best candidate to run," said Feingold, who sat down Wednesday at a reporter's request to talk about the Democratic Party and the 2008 presidential contest.

We are the "some people" he is talking about. You are the "some people" he's talking about. Please send him a letter of encouragement, or get ahold of us. It's 2005, but we're building a movement here.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A WORD TO ABC "The Note" - Check your facts

ABC News: The Note: Like Going to the Racetrack: "Martin 'Lowell's Son' Meehan, John 'My Consultants Are Telling People I'm Running in 08' McCain, Christopher 'I'm The Key to Karl's Connecticut Hopes' Shays and Russ 'Draft Me For President' Feingold, the quartet behind BCRA, the first campaign finance bill that President Bush, ah, enthusiastically signed into law, has proposed legislation to reform the so-called 527 groups that famously brought us the Swift Boat veterans, the Texans for Truth, Ashley's Story, and the zillions of outside Democrats who swarmed Ohio on Election Day. "

Ok, so yeah - I don't work for Senator Feingold. I don't even live in Wisconsin. Nobody affiliated with the draft movement on ANY level I know, is involved with the Senator.

So, ABC News, quit making allegations. Ever think to check into it? Would you like to email me and ask me?


Feingold on the Death Penalty

Statement by WI Sen. Russell Feingold from Congressional Record for
Jan 24...

Abolish the Federal Death Penalty
By Russ Feingold

Monday 24 January 2005

Statement on Introduction of the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act
of 2005.

Mr. President, today I introduce the Federal Death Penalty
Abolition Act of 2005. This bill would abolish the death penalty
at the Federal level. It would put an immediate halt to executions
and forbid the imposition of the death penalty as a sentence for
violations of Federal law.
Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme
Court, there have been almost 1,000 executions across the country,
including three at the Federal level. At the same time, over 100
people on death row were later found innocent and released from
death row. Exonerated inmates are not only removed from death row,
but they are usually released from prison altogether. Apparently,
these people never should have been convicted in the first place.
While death penalty proponents claim that the death penalty is
fair, efficient, and a deterrent, the fact remains that our
criminal justice system has failed and has resulted in at least
117 very grave mistakes.
Nine hundred and forty-four executions, and 117 exonerations in
the modern death penalty era. That is an embarrassing statistic,
one that should have us all questioning the use of capital
punishment in this country. And we continue to learn about more
cases in which our justice system has failed. Since I first
introduced this bill in November of 1999, 36 death row inmates
have been exonerated throughout the country, 12 since I introduced
this bill in the last Congress in February 2003. Since I last
introduced this bill, 115 people have been executed nationwide.
How many innocents are among them? We may never know.
While executions continue and the death row population grows, the
national debate on the death penalty intensifies and has become
even more vigorous. The number of voices joining in to express
doubt about the use of capital punishment in America is growing.
As evidence of the flaws in our system mounts, it has created an
awareness that has not escaped the attention of the American
people. Layer after layer of confidence in the death penalty
system has been gradually peeling away, and the voices of those
questioning its fairness are growing louder and louder. Now they
can be heard from college campuses and courtrooms and podiums
across the Nation, to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room,
to the Supreme Court. We must not ignore them.
That our modern society relies on killing as punishment is
disturbing enough. Even more disturbing, however, is that our
States' and Federal Government's use of the death penalty is often
not consistent with principles of due process, fairness, and
justice. These principles are the foundation of our criminal
justice system. It is clearer than ever before that we have put
innocent people on death row. In addition, statistics show that
those States that have the death penalty are more likely to put
people to death for killing white victims than for killing black
After the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court in
1976, the Federal Government first resumed death penalty
prosecutions after enactment of a 1988 Federal law that provided
for the death penalty for murder in the course of a drug-kingpin
conspiracy. The Federal death penalty was then expanded
significantly in 1994, when the omnibus crime bill allowed its use
to apply to a total of some 60 Federal offenses. Since 1994,
Federal prosecutions seeking the death penalty have now
A survey on the Federal death penalty system from 1988 to early
2000 was released by the U.S. Department of Justice in September
2000. That report showed troubling racial and geographic
disparities in the Federal Government's administration of the
death penalty. In other words, who lives and who dies in the
Federal system appears to relate to the color of the defendant's
skin or the region of the country where the defendant is
prosecuted. Attorney General Janet Reno was so disturbed by the
results of that report that she ordered a further, in-depth study
of the results. Attorney General John Ashcroft pledged to continue
that study, but we still await the results of that further study.
The Federal Government must do all that it can to ensure that no
person is ever subject to harsher penalties because of the color
of the defendant's skin.
I am certain that not one of my colleagues here in the Senate, not
a single one, would defend racial discrimination in this ultimate
punishment. The most fundamental guarantee of our Constitution is
equal justice under law, and equal protection of the laws. Yet we
have a system in place today that raises grave questions about
whether that guarantee is being met.
While the Federal death penalty system is clearly plagued by
flaws, there are 38 States across our Nation that also authorize
the use of capital punishment. And like the Federal system, those
systems are not free from error.
Five years ago, Governor George Ryan took the historic step of
placing a moratorium on executions in Illinois and creating an
independent, blue ribbon commission to review the State's death
penalty system. The Commission conducted an extensive study of the
death penalty in Illinois and released a report with 85
recommendations for reform of the death penalty system. The
Commission concluded that the death penalty system is not fair,
and that the risk of executing the innocent is alarmingly real.
Governor Ryan later pardoned four death row inmates and commuted
the sentences of all remaining Illinois death row inmates to life
in prison before he left office in January 2003:
Illinois is not alone. Four years ago, then Governor Parris
Glendening learned of suspected racial disparities in the
administration of the death penalty in Maryland. Governor
Glendening did not look the other way. He commissioned the
University of Maryland to conduct the most exhaustive study of
Maryland's application of the death penalty in history. Then faced
with the rapid approach of a scheduled execution, Governor
Glendening acknowledged that it was unacceptable to allow
executions to take place while the study he had ordered was not
yet complete. So, in May 2002, he placed a moratorium on
executions. Unfortunately, Governor Bob Ehrlich later lifted that
moratorium and executions have resumed in Maryland.
The Maryland study was released in January 2003, and the findings
should startle us all. The study found that blacks accused of
killing whites are simply more likely to receive a death sentence
than blacks who kill blacks, or than white killers. According to
the report, black offenders who kill whites are four times as
likely to be sentenced to death as blacks who kill blacks, and
twice as likely to get a death sentence as whites who kill whites.
Maryland and Illinois are not exceptions to a rule, nor anomalies
in an otherwise perfect system. In fact, since reinstatement of
the modern death penalty, 81 percent of capital cases across the
country have involved white victims, even though only 50 percent
of murder victims are white. Nationwide, more than half of the
death row inmates are African Americans or Hispanic Americans.
There is evidence of racial disparities, inadequate counsel,
prosecutorial misconduct, and false scientific evidence in death
penalty systems across the country. While the research done in
Maryland and Illinois has yielded shocking results, there are 36
other States that authorize the use of the death penalty, most of
them far more frequently. Twenty of the 38 States that authorize
capital punishment have executed more inmates than Maryland, and
14 of those States have carried out more executions than Illinois.
So while we are closer to uncovering the unthinkable truth about
the flaws in the Maryland and Illinois death penalty systems,
there are 36 other States with systems that are most likely
plagued with the same flaws. And yet, the killing continues.
At the beginning of 2005, I cannot help but believe that our
progress has been tarnished by our Nation's not only continuing,
but increasing use of the death penalty. We are a Nation that
prides itself on the fundamental principles of justice, liberty,
equality and due process. We are a Nation that scrutinizes the
human rights records of other nations. Historically, we are one of
the first nations to speak out against torture and killings by
foreign governments. We should hold our own system of justice to
the highest standard.
Over the last few years, some prominent voices in our country have
done just that. And they are not just voices of liberals, or of
the faith community. They are the voices of Justice Sandra Day
O'Connor, Reverend Pat Robertson, George Will, former FBI Director
William Sessions, Republican Governor George Ryan, and Democratic
Governor Parris Glendening. The voices of those questioning our
application of the death penalty are growing in number, and they
are growing louder.
And while we examine the flaws in our death penalty system, we
cannot help but note that our use of the death penalty stands in
stark contrast to the majority of nations, which have abolished
the death penalty in law or practice. There are now 117 countries
that have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. The
European Union denies membership in the alliance to those nations
that use the death penalty. In fact, it passed a resolution
calling for the immediate and unconditional global abolition of
the death penalty, and it specifically called on all States within
the United States to abolish the death penalty. This is
significant because it reflects the unanimous view of a group of
nations with which the United States enjoys the closest of
relationships and shares the deepest common values.
What is even more troubling in the international context is that
the United States is now one of only five countries that imposes
the death penalty for crimes committed by juveniles. So, while a
May 2002 Gallup poll found that 69 percent of Americans oppose the
death penalty for those under the age of 18, we are one of only
five nations on this earth that puts to death people who were
under 18 years of age when they committed their crimes. The others
are Iran, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Saudi
Arabia. In the last decade, the United States has executed more
juvenile offenders than all other nations combined.
These are countries that we often criticize for human rights
abuses. We should remove any basis for charges that human rights
violations are taking place on our own soil by halting the
execution of people who were not even adults when they committed
the crimes for which they were sentenced to die. No one can
reasonably argue that executing child offenders is a normal or
acceptable practice in the world community. And I do not think
that we should be proud that the United States is the world leader
in the execution of child offenders.
As we begin a new year and another Congress, our society is still
far from fully just. The continued use of the death penalty shames
us. The penalty is at odds with our best traditions. It is wrong
and it is immoral. The adage ``two wrongs do not make a right,''
applies here in the most fundamental way. Our Nation has long ago
done away with other barbaric punishments like whipping and
cutting off the ears of criminals. Just as our Nation did away
with these punishments as contrary to our humanity and ideals, it
is time to abolish the death penalty as we seek justice in this
new century. And it is not just a matter of morality. The
continued viability of our justice system as a truly just system
that deserves the respect of our own people and the world requires
that we do so. Our Nation's striving to remain the leading
defender of freedom, liberty and equality demands that we do so.
Abolishing the death penalty will not be an easy task. It will
take patience, persistence, and courage. As we work to move
forward in a rapidly changing world, let us leave this archaic
practice behind.
I ask my colleagues to join me in taking the first step in
abolishing the death penalty in our great Nation. I also call on
each State that authorizes the use of the death penalty to cease
this practice. Let us step away from the culture of violence and
restore fairness and integrity to our criminal justice system.
I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in

Bush plan - doesn't solve a thing - according to them

ABC News: The Note: Like Going to the Racetrack: "'A Bush aide, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, was more explicit, saying that the individual accounts would do nothing to solve the system's long-term financial problems.'
'That candid analysis, although widely shared by economists, distressed some Republicans.'
''Oh, my God,' one GOP political strategist said when he learned of the shift in rhetoric. 'The White House has made a lot of Republicans walk the plank on this. Now it sounds as if they are sawing off the board.''"

Then someone PELASE EXPLAIN, why in the hell is the President doing this? Oh, because it has nothing to do with "saving the system," and has everything to do with destroying Roosevelt's New Deal. It's not about what actually good for the Social Security program, what would make it better, if it needs to be made better.

It's about starting a "ownership society." Whatever that really means.

All of the Republicans (and the fainthearted Democrats too) that walked out on that plank deserve to get whatever they get. I gave up having faith in this President a LONG time ago.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

PISTONS CORNER: Rasheed disdains political basketball

PISTONS CORNER: Rasheed disdains political basketball: "What will Rasheed Wallace and President George W. Bush talk about when the Pistons visit the White House at 3 p.m. today? Foreign policy? Defense strategy? Try nothing.
When asked what he would say to the president, Wallace said: 'I don't have (expletive) to say to him. I didn't vote for him. It's just something we have to do.'"

Well, the city of Detroit is what carried Michigan for Kerry. I don't have much to say about this other than to point out it's funny.