Russ Feingold Answers Bloggers Questions

Blogpac had an hour long conference call with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) today. I only made the last half hour, so hopefully Markos, Jerome or Chris, Matt, John or Bob will be writing about it and can fill you in on the rest.

My first question to him had to do with crime legislation. It went something like this:

You introduce a lot of bills that you must realize don't have a chance of passing anytime soon - like the bill for a moratorium on the federal death penalty. Which ones do you think can succeed this year, and which will you work hardest for?

His answer went something like this.

He is optimistic about changes to the Patriot Act. (He was the only Senator to vote against it.) Particularly those contained in the SAFE Act. These can be accomplished now. The provisions that have to go are those on library records, sneak and peek search warrants, abuse of administrative subpoenas. The provisions that sunset should not be renewed.

Mandatory minimum sentencing is a disaster. Even Justice Rehnquist has said so. With the death penalty, we need to take it one step at a time. It's one brick at a time in a ten to twenty year process. We can begin now by planting seeds. Now is the time for reforms such as DNA [testing for innocence.] The rest will come.

My second question had to do with civil liberties. Since he has been such a staunch defender of them, introducing bills such as the one to block the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, I asked what are the most serious threats to civil liberties we will face this year?

Sen. Feingold responded with Patriot Act II. He was sharply critical of the Administration's handling of detainees, its policy of not allowing them lawyers, and in particular, the unprecedented secrecy of this Administration in keeping things from Congress and the public.

He said the worst legislation is buried in bureaucracy...hidden, so that they need someone to tell them it's there.

And yes, one blogger asked him about his plans for 2008. He said it's too early to decide or even focus on being a candidate. The task of Democrats right now, including him, is to figure out how we can connect with people all over country.

As a third term senator, he is in a position now to help turn things around, to get other democrats elected in 2 years. That's what he intends to do.

He did say that whoever the candidate is must be someone who can win. He would question anyone who announced he was running today, because that person would not know whether he or she could win, because none of us even know what the world will look like in 2008.

He added that we are "being served miserably" by those now in control.

As the conversation was wrapping up, he expressed a lot of praise and appreciation to bloggers for what we add to the discourse. I asked him if he had his staffers report on what the blogs were saying.

He said he gets up every morning at 6, makes the coffee, and enjoys an hour of quiet. His wife gets up at 7. She goes straight to the computer and begins reading the blogs, sharing the information with him. She also gives him assignments, like reporting something she reads and asking him, "What have you done about this?"

Then it was over. As I said at the beginning, check out the other bloggers on the call, because I know he talked about things like campaign finance reform, NAFTA, the need to defeat the "nuclear option" in the Senate, and many other issues.

It was a very productive conversation and I feel very fortunate to have been able to participate and share the contents. I've written a lot about Sen. Feingold the past two and 1/2 years, you can access all of the coverage here.

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    Re: Russ Feingold Answers Bloggers Questions (none / 0) (#1)
    by Kitt on Thu Feb 10, 2005 at 09:04:01 AM EST
    Russ Feingold sat down with Brian Lamb of CSPAN over the weekend (Sunday, I think) for those interested.