Russ Feingold Emerges with Progressives United

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I like Russ Feingold, a lot. His successor in the US Senate actually said in the campaign that he didn’t believe US Senators should speak out publicly on matters of war and peace and should rather communicate their views privately and discreetly to the White House.
I’m not kidding. I wrote about it here.
But Feingold has emerged and has launched a new group called “Progressives United.”
— Steve Clemons

Comments

19 comments on “Russ Feingold Emerges with Progressives United

  1. WigWag says:

    It is also interesting to note the similarities between the demonstrations at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 and the demonstrations in Cairo in 2011. Both we’re led by incensed young people demanding change and both sets of demonstrators faced off against regimes that they believed were old-fashioned, corrupt and prone to violence; the regimes of Richard J. Daley and Hosni Mubarak.
    So how did it all work out?
    Well in the case of the Egyptian demonstrators it’s too soon to tell.
    In the case of the Chicago demonstrators, the main thing they accomplished was scaring the average American citizen thus facilitating the election of a man most of the demonstrators despised and who had been an enemy of the left for years.
    Ironically, only 12 years later, a substantial portion of the generation that cheered the mass action in Chicago completely changed its political stripes and voted for Ronald Reagan; helping him defeat Jimmy Carter in a landslide.
    It is also interesting to note that while Richard J. Daley was hated for his willingness to have the police violently confront the demonstrators, anger at the Daley family soon passed. His son, Richard M. Daley was elected Mayor of Chicago 13 years after his father left office, a position he served in for 22 years.
    Mass actions frequently cause results that are completely unanticipated and may in fact end up being the opposite of what was hoped for.
    Richard M. Daley eventually succeeded his father; who can say that Gamal Mubarak doesn’t have a good chance to do the same thing?

    Reply

  2. WigWag says:

    “And we’re already ruled by Jamie Dimon, the Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street neoliberal financial economists who are no more progressive than Margaret Thatcher. So what does it matter if we get Jeb Bush instead to do all the same things?” (Dan Kervick)
    Do you really think that there’s very little difference between what an Obama presidency would do as compared to a Jeb Bush presidency, a Mitt Romney presidency or a Mike Huckabee presidency? How similar do you think their domestic policies would be? What about their foreign policies?
    Which of the potential Republican presidential candidates would have pushed for the new START Treaty with Russia? Which would have appointed Sotomayor or Kagan to the Supreme Court?
    Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had it with Obama too. I don’t like his foreign policy and if the Republicans nominate Romney I’ll probably vote for a Republican presidential candidate for the first time in my life (even though there are numerous things about Romney I don’t like either).
    Watching our progressive friends excoriate Obama reminds me so much of the way that progressives excoriated Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Humphrey was a hero of the civil rights movement and he was a progressive’s progressive in almost every way. He had impeccable leftist credentials coming out of Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer Labor Party. But for the unpardonable sin of refusing as Vice President to criticize the Viet Nam policy of the President he served (Lyndon Johnson), the left abandoned Humphrey when he ran for President against Nixon.
    The 1968 Presidential election was incredibly close; in fact it was one of the closest elections in American history. Nixon won 31,783,783 votes and Humphrey won 31,279,839; a difference of less than one percent (Nixon did win the Electoral College overwhelmingly). George Wallace ran as a third party candidate in this election and took votes away from Nixon. The only reason Humphrey failed to defeat Nixon is because disenchanted progressive democrats refused to cast their ballots for a Vice President who wouldn’t criticize his boss about Viet Nam.
    What did these stubborn leftists accomplish? The ensured the election of a criminal who gave us Watergate. They ensured the election of a candidate who surreptitiously expanded the War to Cambodia and Laos. They ensured the election of one of the leaders of the House Un American Activities Committee and the tormenter of Alger Hiss. They ensured the election of the man who invented the “Southern Strategy” that empowered Republicans for a quarter century.
    How would the world be different today if instead of sitting on their hands, this bunch of deluded progressive democrats had abandoned their foolish pride and voted for Humphrey instead of staying home?
    It’s hard to know what motivates leftists. Is it that they’re dumb? Is it that they’re ideologues? Is it that they’re stubborn egotists? Or is it that in their heart of hearts they’re really conservative Republicans.
    By all means all you progressives out there, start a third party or just stay home and don’t vote for Obama.
    You will be following in a fine tradition.

    Reply

  3. RWH says:

    “It is entirely possible that if Feingold or some other Democrat opposes Obama that Obama’s chance for a second term will be obliterated.”(WigWag)
    It seems to me that Obama’s every move these days is calibrated on maximizing his chance or reelection. Thus his obsequious submission to Zionist interests, to big business, and just about any other group who seriously challenges him. If this is the case I would suggest a serious movement to launch a challenge from the left. Perhaps that will get his attention. Until the fear of God is instilled in candidates I’m afraid we won’t get the changes the vast majority of the American public want.
    Incidently, I heard Bernie Sanders’ interview on PBS last night and it was OUTSTANDING! Too bad we have so few Bernie Sanders’s and Russ Feingolds. BTW, Wig, Nadine, et al, note those men are couple of enlightened and patriotic American Jews.
    On another note, Kathleen has lamented about the absence of discussion of the I/P conflict and its relationship to other ME topics on our MSM. If you want to get access to Al Jazeera, Amy Goodman, and other progressive voices critical of the ME status quo you can get this on DirecTV at channel 375 (Link TV). You will need a dish.

    Reply

  4. Dan Kervick says:

    “… if they’re smart they will realize that he’s the best they can hope to get.”
    Well, you know, we’re not that smart. So I would say Obama has to watch left flank, politically speaking.
    And we’re already ruled by Jamie Dimon, the Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street neoliberal financial economists who are no more progressive than Margaret Thatcher. So what does it matter if we get Jeb Bush instead to do all the same things?

    Reply

  5. Dan Kervick says:

    “… if they’re smart they will realize that he’s the best they can hope to get.”
    Well, you know, we’re not that smart. So I would say Obama has to watch left flank, politically speaking.
    And we’re already ruled by Jamie Dimon, the Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street neoliberal financial economists who are no more progressive than Margaret Thatcher. So what does it matter if we get Jeb Bush instead to do all the same things?

    Reply

  6. Kurt K says:

    South Carolina lawmaker wants separate currency for state
    By Liz Goodwin liz Goodwin Mon Feb 14, 12:52 pm ET
    A South Carolina state politician wants the state to develop its own gold and silver-based currency in case the Federal Reserve collapses and hyper-inflation ensues.
    “If folks lose faith in the dollar, we need to have some kind of backup,” State Sen. Lee Bright told the Spartanburg Herald Journal’s Stephen Largen. His bill asks a committee to look into the development of a state currency, citing the Constitution and Supreme Court precedents to prove the bill’s legality.
    Slate’s Annie Lowrey tracks down similar bills in Georgia and Virginia, and points out that the legislation reflects a larger trend of state politicians wading into monetary policy. A bill in Georgia would require all debts to the state be paid in pre-1965 gold and silver coins. The Virginia proposal would let the state print its own money. Meanwhile, one politician in Utah wants to cut out the middleman entirely and allow the state’s residents to run their very own mints.
    Advocates of currency alternatives to the dollar argue that the Federal Reserve’s quantitive easing techniques will lead to inflation. Texas GOP Rep. Ron Paul, who won the Conservative Political Action Committee’s presidential candidate straw poll last week, has been Congress’ most visible anti-Fed leader. Paul argues the Fed devalues the dollar, and proposes that the United States should gradually return to gold-backed currency.
    In addition to the nightmarish logistical challenges involved with a state adopting a new currency, Lowrey points out that commodity-backed currencies can also experience volatility. For example, if a state collects income taxes in gold and then a big new gold mine is discovered, the metal’s value would decline–together with the state’s revenue holdings.
    So for now, it’s probably bests for individual consumers to refrain from shifting over to sovereign state currencies–especially since none of the recently introduced currency bills stands a strong chance of passing. However, for numismatists looking to make a political statement, the Ron Paul silver dollar will likely appreciate–especially since federal authorities raided the libertarian minting operation that marketed it back in 2007.

    Reply

  7. Carroll says:

    Since Steve said we can go slightly off topic..and his post is about a ‘movement’ I am inserting this about the Anonymous group because it’s interesting.
    They could be overestimating themselves…but probably aren’t. We saw what a network can do, not in causing the Egyptian revolt, but in helping to organize it and keep communications going.
    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/201121321487750509.html
    Anonymous and the global correction
    A loosely organised group of hackers has been targeting oppressive regimes
    and has said this is just the beginning.
    Anonymous Last Modified: 16 Feb 2011 16:59 GMT
    Email ArticlePrint ArticleShare ArticleSend
    No corporate or government-owned cyberspace is immune from attack by the vast nebula of Anonymous, the non-hierarchichal online activist network bent on disrupting the websites and communication facilities of oppressive
    regimes, the hackers’ group claims.
    The tendency to relate past events to what is possible in the present becomes more difficult as the scope of the geopolitical environment changes.
    It is a useful thing, then, to ask every once in a while if the environment has recently undergone any particular severe changes, thereby expanding our options for the future.
    Terminology, let alone our means of exchanging information, has changed to such a degree that many essential discussions in today’s “communications age” would be entirely incomprehensible to many two decades ago.
    As the social, political and technological environment has developed, some have already begun to explore new options, seizing new chances for digital activism – and more will soon join in. It is time for the rest of the world
    to understand why.
    Service denied
    In response, a loose network of participants within the international Anonymous protest organisation attacked non-essential government websites – those not providing direct services to Tunisians – at the prompting of our contacts.
    Several such sites were replaced with a message of support to the Tunisian people, while others were pushed offline via distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, involving thousands of computer users who request large amounts of data from a website simultaneously, overwhelming it.
    Other assistance programmes followed, even after the deposed Ben Ali fled the nation that reviled him, with Anonymous and other parties working with Tunisians – both in-country and abroad – to provide the nation’s people with the tools and information resources they needed to begin building up new, reasonable political institutions capable of ensuring a freer civic life.
    Our “Guide to Protecting the Tunisian Revolution” series – a collaboration between hundreds of veterans of traditional revolutionary movements as well as practitioners of “new activism” – were disseminated both online and in print; aside from tips on safety during confrontation and the like, these also explain how to establish secure yet accessible networks and communications for Tunisians, as well as instructions on establishing neighbourhood syndicates capable of uniting in common cause.
    Already, such organisations are being established across Tunisia, just as they will be established elsewhere as the movement proceeds.
    The seeds of cyber revolution
    Anonymous is a means by which people across the globe can assist in the hard work being performed by the Tunisian people – who have long taken issue with their government, but first began protesting in earnest after a fruit vendor
    set himself ablaze in response to police cruelty.
    The Anonymous movement itself grew out of message boards frequented mostly by young people with an interest in internet culture in general – and
    Japanese media in particular; in 2005, participants began “attacking” internet venues as a sort of sport, and in the process honed their skills in a way that proved useful in “information warfare”.
    The Australian government was later attacked for introducing new internet censorship laws, and in the meantime, those within Anonymous who see the
    subculture as a potential force for justice have launched other efforts while also building new strategies and recruiting individuals from across
    the globe – some of whom hold significant positions in media, industry, and the sciences.
    For great justice
    In the meantime, there are obstacles to overcome. Those within the Tunisian government who seek to deny liberty to “their” people are easy enough to
    deal with; the greatest threat to revolution comes not from any state but rather from those who decry such revolutions without understanding them.
    In this case, the idea that a loose network of people with shared values and varying skill sets can provide substantial help to a population abroad is seen as quixotic – or even unseemly – by many of those who have failed to understand the past ten years, as well as those whose first instinct is to attack a popular revolt rather than to assist it.
    Elsewhere, a number of US pundits decided to criticise the revolution as possibly destabilising the region; many of whom once demanded the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan – and greeted every Arab revolt as the work of
    President Bush – but now see nothing for themselves in the cause of Arab
    liberty.
    Some have even portrayed the movement as the work of radical Islamists – yet most cannot find Tunisia on a map.
    Suffice to say that the results of our efforts are already on display and will become more evident as Tunisians use our tools and resources to achieve their greatest triumph. Those who wish to assist and are competent to do so can find us easily enough; the Tunisians had little trouble in doing so.
    Although we have made great progress in convincing individuals from across
    the world to join our efforts in Tunisia, other campaigns, such as those taking place in Algeria and Egypt – both of which have seen government
    websites taken down and/or replaced by Anonymous, more must be done before the movement takes the next step towards a worldwide network capable of
    perpetual engagement against those who are comfortable with tyranny.
    The revolution will be broadcast
    Whatever effort is required, such a goal is not only possible, but rather unambitious.
    There is a reason, after all, that those of us who have seen the movement up close have dedicated our lives to what it stands for, and have even violated the modern Western taboo of believing in something.
    I have been involved with Anonymous in some capacity or another for about six years.
    Looking back at my writing over that time, I have found that my predictions, while always enthusiastic, nonetheless turned out to have been conservative; when Australia became the first state to come under attack by this
    remarkable force, I proposed that we would someday see such allegedly inevitable institutions begin to crumble in the face of their growing irrelevance.
    Someday turned out to be this year.
    Today, I predict that Anonymous and entities like it will become far more significant over the next few years than is expected by most of our
    similarly irrelevant pundits – and this will, no doubt, turn out to be just as much of an understatement as anything else that has been written on the subject.
    The fact is that the technological infrastructure that allows these movements has been in place for well under a decade – but phenomena such as
    WikiLeaks and Anonymous have already appeared, expanded, and even become players within the geopolitical environment; others have come about since.
    This is the future, whether one approves or not, and the failure on the part of governments and media alike to understand, and contend with the rapid change now afoot, ought to remind everyone concerned why it is that this movement is necessary in the first place.
    The author identifies as part of Anonymous, a loose collective of internet
    hacktivists which uses the technological infrastructure on which the
    globalised world depends to maintain a vigilante presence online.
    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not
    necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

    Reply

  8. WigWag says:

    “Could this be a prelude to a primary challenge to Obama from the left? I certainly hope so. Whether from Feingold or someone else.” (Dan Kervick)
    The last three sitting Presidents to face a primary challenge were George H.W. Bush (from Patrick Buchanan), Jimmy Carter (from Edward Kennedy) and Gerald Ford (from Ronald Reagan). None of them was reelected.
    Prior to that, Lyndon Johnson was faced with the prospect of a primary challenge from Eugene McCarthy and perhaps Robert Kennedy; he didn’t get a second elected term either because he decided not to run.
    It is entirely possible that if Feingold or some other Democrat opposes Obama that Obama’s chance for a second term will be obliterated.
    If that’s what you want, Dan, my guess is that many people will be happy to see a Republican elected in 2012.
    As much as the left may be disappointed in Obama, if they’re smart they will realize that he’s the best they can hope to get. The idea that a Democrat to Obama’s left could be elected is frankly, ridiculous.
    Hoping for a primary challenge to Obama is the functional equivalent of hoping that the next President of the United States is a conservative Republican.

    Reply

  9. erichwwk says:

    Dan, I share your views, but not your reality.
    I see the national electoral process as so corrupt and dominated by Wall Street money that it seems better to boycott the 2012 election, to avoid lending legitimacy to that process, than to vote for a faux choice. The best we can ever hope for is an Obama, who sounds like change, but acts as bad, if not worse, than what we had before.
    It seems to me that the Egyptians have shown us the ONLY way out of this quagmire.
    If money can keep Feingold out of the Senate as Kathleen suggests, keeping him from the Presidency is a cakewalk.
    On a more positive note, it was refreshing to hear Bernie Sanders on PBS news tonight. Hope you caught it, as I’m not sure it’s archived.
    Here he is on SS, from his website, talking about SS in a way Obama never does:
    http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=F5268EDC-7481-4F52-8E71-0455B2DAB6C1
    But his PBS segment was much better, in a much broader context. Anyone know if tonight’s [wed. Feb 15, 2011] PBS News Hour snippet is available to share?

    Reply

  10. Progressive_Patriot says:

    Kathleen – You may be correct about the Senator’s personality,
    perhaps…I can’t really speak to that. However, I think you would
    be surprised to learn that the tone of his campaign was very
    much in line with those that he ran before. As the underdog in
    the early stages of his political career, Feingold thought outside
    the box and found clever ways to appeal to voters. As an
    example, take a look at his “Back of Hand” commercial from ’92:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRlwa0v9Cf4&NR=1 (He was
    very much like the late Senator Wellstone in this respect).
    Feingold has been a consistent Progressive and has stuck to his
    core beliefs from the very beginning. In that fashion, I believe
    his campaign was run by the same people who have been with
    him from the beginning and fortunately so. Prior to the election,
    Feingold’s team had constructed arguably one of the strongest
    grassroots organizations in the country and stayed
    extraordinarily active throughout the state.
    Then what happened you ask?
    Citizens United. Well, Citizens United and history.
    Aside from being a bad year for Democrats, Feingold lost in part
    because the newly elected senator – the one who thinks US
    Senators should not speak out publicly on matters of war and
    peace but rather communicate their views privately and
    discreetly to the White House – received millions of dollars worth
    of campaign assistance in the form of outside and annonymous
    independent expenditures. This is money Senator Feingold
    refused to accept. An interesting case study in how money can
    influence an election…
    WI, like many other states, was caught up in the Republican wave
    that swept the country last year and is now home to a Republican
    Governor, Republican State Legislature, and a tea party backed
    United States Senator. Nevertheless, when the votes were
    counted, Feingold was much closer to retaining his seat than
    many pundits expected he would be. While I don’t see him
    running against Obama – what do I know?? – I look forward to
    seeing what he does along the road ahead.

    Reply

  11. Dan Kervick says:

    “Could this be a prelude to a primary challenge to Obama from the left?”
    I certainly hope so. Whether from Feingold or someone else.

    Reply

  12. Paul Norheim says:

    Twitter is a somewhat dangerous tool. You’re a high profile
    expert or commenter – and after a really bad day, for
    whatever personal reasons, you drink too much whisky one
    night, and you start twittering. The next morning, you don’t
    even remember what you’ve done, but it’s already made
    headlines.
    Not everyone has the discipline required when you have
    access to a virtual megaphone 24/7. This doesn’t
    necessarily mean that you’re a bad person. I can think of
    plenty of great artists that have consumed lots of alcohol or
    drugs in periods of their life – I’m glad twitter wasn’t
    available for them. But now it is.

    Reply

  13. Steve Clemons says:

    Bill — Nir Rosen does not work for me and isn’t affiliated with
    the New America Foundation. He made a terrible mistake in his
    comments and was wrong. He also has brilliant and important
    insights very much worth listening to. Larry Summers made
    mistakes at Harvard and has much important to say that is well
    worth considering. Marty Peretz, who I believe has made a latter
    day career of anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim bigotry, nonetheless
    is brilliant on a variety of topics and well worth reading and
    considering in some ways. I don’t draw permanent lines for or
    against anyone — even John Bolton who I took on pretty
    seriously for a very long time.
    I understand your views and the statements of many others.
    Thanks for sharing here — but I won’t join those in maligning all
    aspects of Nir Rosen’s work and thinking — just like I don’t on
    Peretz or Summers. All best, steve

    Reply

  14. Martha W says:

    Feingold (as Senator) supported auditing the Federal Reserve. Has his stance changed from earlier this year?
    Also, what if every other nation on Earth, including now even Japan, who see 3, 4, 6, 8, 12% and 20% inflation are not wrong and it is, in fact, Ben Bernanke who is wrong.
    I would not be as worried if Bernanke got on TV and said, “Inflation is heading up to double digits, which is our plan”, but that

    Reply

  15. Cee says:

    I’m glad that he still has a role to play.
    Perhaps he’ll take on this issue in Wisconsin.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/15/wisconsin-state-workers-p_n_823476.html

    Reply

  16. Kathleen says:

    Every time I have heard Feingold speak at a hearing I have been moved by his no nonsense approach, his consistency and the integrity of his votes. During his latest campaign I was wondering about his team? It seemed like he was trying to appear to be light hearted too much. He seems like a very serious and principled individual. But some of his adds seemed silly. Not like Feingold.
    Anyone know who headed his last campaign? Did they steer him wrong.
    Anyway glad he has taken Citizens United (divided and dismissed) up

    Reply

  17. Kathleen says:

    Knew someone would step up to the plate to push the Obama administration. Love Feingold. Consistent.

    Reply

  18. Steve Clemons says:

    Wig — Politics is about options, keeping one’s powder dry, a lot of luck, and a little bit of surprise. I have no idea — but the future doesn’t move in straight lines.
    all best and thanks for all you are doing to get the tone of this place back to what it used to be,
    steve

    Reply

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