Sunday, March 19, 2006

Following Feingold For Five Days

Since he introduced his censure resolution (see previous blog post) Russ Feingold has been uplifted by polls, dissed by pals, and insulted by prickly politicians. He also produced a petition and made things plain at a press conference.
Posted by Picasa Russ Feingold

On Monday, at an online site for several newspapers in Madison, Wisconsin, Casey Hoff composed an overview of the reaction of Feingold’s colleagues:
“So far in the Senate it's 99-1, against Feingold. Barack Obama, when asked about Feingold's resolution, said, "I haven't read it." John Kerry whined, "I really can't right now" as he was walking to lunch. Hillary Clinton, the darling opportunist, declined to answer any questions about it.

The message, or "signal,” if you will that a total rejection of Feingold's proposal without any intellectual debate sends is the worst possible signal. It says to the rest of the world that thoughtless partisan bickering has once again trumped issues of principle; that principle being that a President must follow the law and the Constitution, even during times of war. The republicans resort to name calling, the democrats resort to hibernation, and the national media resort to a mindless, endless game of "strategerizing" about the next election cycle.
We are supposed to be a nation built on principle, with respect for the law and for our most fundamental document, that being the Constitution. Without a respect for the Constitution, our nation has no moral fiber; no backbone.”

Monday's ‘Question of the Day’ at MSNBC:

What do you think of Senator Feingold’s proposal to censure President Bush?

Was it a) Political Grandstanding?

Or b) a way to hold him accountable?

74% of the respondents believed ‘b’, a way to hold Bush accountable.

(33,730 people responded)

Senator Tom Harkin joined Feingold in adding his name as a sponsor of the Censure Resolution. Harkin explained:

"Nothing is more important to me than the security of our country. Of course, we need to be listening to the terrorists' conversations. And sometimes there is not time to get a warrant.

That's why the FISA law allows the President, when necessary, to wiretap first, and obtain a warrant afterward. But that's not acceptable to this above-the-law President. He rejects the idea that he should have to obtain a warrant before or after wiretapping.”
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On Tuesday, I (and many others) received an e-mail letter from Senator Feingold. In his letter, he reinforces his reasoning and asks for a show of support by signing his online petition (link below). His letter states:

“The reasons for censure are clear: the President authorized a program that illegally wiretaps American citizens, on American soil, without a court order; he also actively misleads the public and Congress on the existence and legality of the program.

Every American wants to fight terrorism and fight those who wish to do our country harm. We all stand together in that fight. Every American wants the government to be able to wiretap terrorists, and we can under current law! However, this President, or any President for that matter, cannot decide which laws they will obey or cherry-pick which articles of the Constitution they will uphold - and this President continues to do just that. He must be held accountable.

I will continue to push my colleagues to stand up to a President who plays fast and loose with the facts, our freedoms, and our nation's trust. Please sign my resolution to help send the message that we can't afford to let the President be cavalier with our rights.”

Link to petition:

Meanwhile Wayne Allard, a Republican Senator from Colorado provoked his listeners at Fox News radio by accusing Feingold of “siding with terrorists” and inferred that he (Feingold) had committed a treasonous act. The firestorm among Democrats and fellow Republicans resulted in numerous demands for Allard to apologize, even some have indicated that to level such a serious charge in a frivolous, and unsubstantiated matter now required Allard’s resignation.

Within two days, a poll on the matter of censure taken by the American Research Group was complete. It demonstrated that Feingold’s resolution enjoyed a great deal of support among the American people.

48% of all voters favored the censure, with 9%

Among Democrats, the approval for censure rose to 70%, and 42% of Independents approved. [11% of Independents remained undecided. ]

The third U. S. Senator to speak out in support of censuring Bush's illegal wiretapping: Barbara Boxer(D-CA). According to her Press Secretary, Natalie Ravitz: "Senator Boxer has said she would vote for the Feingold resolution,"

On Thursday the 16th, Senator Feingold held a press conference. His purpose:

“I want to follow upon the events of this week concerning my
proposal to censure the president with regard to this illegal
wiretapping program through the NSA.

Last week, with the lack of prospect of senior administration
officials from the Justice Department coming before the Judiciary Committee -- those who actually had questioned the program -- and with the evisceration of the Intelligence Committee so that the majority of the committee won't ever be allowed, apparently, to even know the merits of the program,
in my view not only had the process been stopped, but there was no conversation anymore about one of the fundamental aspects of this, and that is that the president broke the law.

It is time for the president to return to the law. That is what
I am trying to accomplish here.

And so as this week has unfolded -- although obviously I am
sincere in wanting to pass this resolution -- my objective has already
been achieved.

And that is: I wanted the conversation to include the belief of most people, most experts and even some Republican senators and congressman: that the president did, in fact, violate the law and there has to be something other than talk about
passing a law to make it legal.”

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In addition to his desire for debate and further action against the illegal activities, Feingold explained why he filed a motion for Censure, rather than pursuing impeachment:
“I think this actually is in the area of an impeachable offense.
I think it is right in the strike zone of what the founding fathers thought about when they talked about high crimes and misdemeanors. What we can't do is just ignore the wrongful conduct. So this is a reasonable road. There's this tendency, as soon as the president and the spin machine comes out and says,
"This mean you folks are soft on terrorism."

We let them intimidate us.

And I think that just shows us to be weak rather than a party
that's ready to govern the country. And we need to show that we're strong. This is a way to do it.”

Most recently, the two Senators from Vermont: Patrick Leahy Posted by Picasa

and Jim Jeffords announced that they believed that hearings on the secret domestic wiretapping program and a vote on the censure resolution needed to be held.
“Sen. Feingold says he intended his resolution to prompt congressional investigations into the president’s actions on these issues. Republican leaders so far have been reluctant to allow that,” said David Carle, a Leahy spokesman. “Sen. Leahy believes in first things first, and the first thing is Congress doing its oversight duty in investigating the Bush administration’s illegal domestic wiretapping.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee, on which both Leahy and Feingold sit, have held two hearings on the domestic surveillance program.

I am glad that Feingold took a stand. Posted by PicasaThere are so many times that Democrats complain against Bush’s actions in the press, in their speeches and on the floor of Congress. Yet they seem incapable of taking action to rectify the problems.

he President has been caught in so many lies almost everyone has lost count. Our politicians talk the talk, say what the voters want to here, yet find it impossible to ‘walk the walk’ and take action. They seem to fear reprisals, or making a mistake, more than they worry about the degraded condition of the country and the constitution brought on by their inactions.

If they are not willing to punish the president, and any other member of the three b ranches of government for illegal behavior they have no right to ‘score voter approval’ because of their own behavior.

There’s no follow through. No personal responsibility for words, or inactions. The stereotype of politicians full of hot air couldn’t be more prevelent than they are today. If they are not willing to actually do their jobs, they are wasting our time and money and should be fired.

Why should any voter think that these inactive politicians are fit to govern? Why would anyone want to vote for a party made of minions too cowardly to support this measure?

President Bush’s popularity and approval ratings are at an all time low. Most people in poll after poll have described him as untrustworthy, and believe that he has lied to the American people. There are so many disasters in so many directions---Abramoff and other scandals, fighting a war in two different countries AND world wide against the noun of terrorism. Katrina, the budget, CIA leaks, WMD lies, saber rattling against Iran, and so on---can anyone think of a time in the past twenty-five years where the opposition party could be having a field day like this? Instead, the Democrats remain silent, waver, backtrack, whine, and keep their finger in the air to follow the wind. Why would anyone think for one minute that they were fit to govern? (Okay, neither are the Republicans but they have the power, and no one doubts they fight like terriers to keep it).

Senator Russ Feingold’s resolution is a no-brainer. As more and more of his ‘colleagues’ feel the way the wind is blowing they’ll be jumping in with their support. They shouldn’t have even paused this time. Sadly, they demonstrated their inadequacies by doing just that.

Additional information about Senator Feingold: