Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Monday, July 23, 2007

The 'Russ Feingold' diaries

As many people know (by now,) Senator Russ Feingold regularly posts 'diaries' out on Daily Kos.

On July 13th, he posted a diary about Democratic progress in ending the war in Iraq. His diary was immediately 'hijacked' by loud and almost endless demands, pleas, and intelligent arguments for impeachment. I don't think a single comment was really about the diary itself. Russ came out to Kos, and he was immediately jumped: he was the one representative people hoped would listen.

Within the comment section, he responded at least once; saying that he didn't believe that impeachment was a 'good use of time'; that there was much work to be done, and that impeachment would be a lengthy process.

This of course, spurred even a greater flurry of angry, frustrated comments. People discussed precedent, the rule of law, danger to democracy, the destruction of our government, the destruction of our good name around the world, and mostly the gross illegality of this administration. The comments were at times amazing, and in total very consistent.

Hundreds of people came out of the woodwork to voice their concerns.

Later in the week, Russ came back. He posted a second diary, this one specifically addressing impeachment and again reiterating his thought that it wasn't a good use of the time remaining in this congress.

While some have pointed to Republicans’ decision to impeach President Clinton, I am also concerned about the over-use of impeachment. And I am conscious of the fact that I would have a specific role to play as a sworn, impartial juror should an impeachment be tried in the Senate. If charges come to the Senate, I will approach them and the trial with the same seriousness that I had when I participated in the Clinton impeachment trial. I would not prejudge the case one way or the other should it come to this.

I fully respect the anger and frustration many Americans feel with this Administration. I share much of it. But on balance, I think Congress’s time is much better spent ending the war in Iraq, conducting the oversight that was absent for the last six years, and advancing progressive legislation.

Once again, Kos posters came right back at him about the continual filibusters and obstruction by the GOP (implying that the Democrats weren't getting much accomplished anyway.) They also reiterated the continuing damage being waged on United States citizens, detainees, Iraq, and the climate by this 'unitary' executive branch (and no, I won't capitalize unitary - it is the antipathy of all that is American, a contradiction of our precious Constitution, and as such does not deserve to be acknowledged.)

The second diary filled up with fiery impeachment comments just as the first. There are, at this point 1889 comments posted. He apparently read all of the comments, and even added an update:

UPDATE: I know that many of you disagree with my approach to this issue, but I thought it was important to make it clear where I’m coming from and explain why I am not calling for impeachment.

I certainly do believe in holding this Administration accountable and upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. That’s why last year I called for the President to be censured for his authorization of the illegal wiretapping program. I thought that was the appropriate course because it would have put the Senate on record in condemning the President’s wrongdoing. I still think that the censure resolution played an important role in focusing the public and the media’s attention on the issue. And I am working to make sure that Congress finally exercises its oversight responsibility by holding hearings and demanding information about the wiretapping program, the U.S. attorney firings and other abuses of power.

Many of you also wrote that if I recognize that the President and Vice President may have committed impeachable offenses, than it is our responsibility to impeach. As I pointed out, it is the role of the House to impeach, and it is the role of the Senate to try impeachments. But the Constitution left it up to the judgment of members of Congress whether or not moving forward with impeachment is best for the country.

Please keep the comments coming. I’ll do my best to read them all. I very much appreciate your honesty and directness. This exchange is very important to me.

Yesterday, Russ came back out to Kos again, explaining his plan to censure Bush and Cheney:

The last time I posted on Daily Kos, it certainly generated a lot of interest, even though many people disagreed with what I had to say. I read all of the comments and I know many of you disagreed with me. As always, I appreciate how honest and passionate the Daily Kos community is about the issues that matter and even when we don’t agree it was important to have the civil exchange that we did.

After that last post, you really got me thinking. While I still am not convinced that Congress should pursue impeachment, you made some great points about how important it is to hold this administration accountable for its terrible misconduct. That includes tough oversight by Congress, but we should do more than that. The history books should show that Congress formally condemned this President, and others in the administration who have so brazenly misled the American people and undercut the rule of law.

Wow, imagine that. He was listening and thinking about our responses. And he came right out and said it publicly.

At this point, everyone was attacking him (they are still attacking him today,) declaring that he has betrayed the people and that he 'doesn't understand' the desire for impeachment and the reasons for demanding it.

There are now over 1000 comments posted to yesterday's diary.

Members of the Daily Kos community may be outraged and angry with Russ. And yet... just look what he has done. We now have three Russ Feingold diaries full of impeachment fury -- diaries that will stand for all to see, that will be seen, simply because they were posted by Senator Russ Feingold.

I may be out on a limb here, but the fact that he came back... well, I have a theory.

I do believe he is on our side. He is a brilliant man - he was a Rhodes scholar and he graduated Harvard with honors (law degree) I think we are pushing it, if we think Russ doesn't 'get it.' Russ gets it.

If you look at the other yahoos and bozos who somehow managed to get elected to our government -- Russ can think circles around them. And he's a completely ethical guy... he's our wizard (to put it in Hogwarts terms.) He may in fact be a little too clever for us, in our anger and frustration.

Think about his recent diaries. They generated a firestorm of impeachment comments - very well-thought out and fiery comments. Excellent comments. What a gold mine of impeachment fury.

After the first round, he came back yet again and egged everyone on, to produce still more fiery comments. Another gold mine. Another huge repository of great and insightful impeachment comments. And then he came back again yesterday, but this time he offered something... something that he, as a Senator, can actually deliver. And he gave everyone credit for making him think. He told everyone that he was listening. What he didn't say, but that everyone should contemplate... is that due to his diaries, there are now three repositories of impeachment arguments that are impossible to refute. It is impossible now for anyone in Congress to say that 'the people' do not understand impeachment, and that they do not support it. The comments show how smart the people actually are.

Russ can't initiate the impeachment process himself (it has to start in the House,) and he will have to serve as a juror if impeachment leads to a trial in the Senate.

Russ is helping us. He's even willing to be a lightning rod for the cause. Do we really believe that other congressmen and senators somehow missed Russ Feingold's diaries - and all of the comments they generated? Please. I even emailed the links to Bruce Fein, in case they might be useful.

Everyone is watching. And they know the American people are outraged. And thanks to Fox's O'Reilly (who blasted Daily Kos on several recent broadcasts) many conservatives are now reading the site as well. And they will see these arguments, and I suspect some of them - exposed to this information for the first time - will pause and think.

All because of Russ. No one would have bothered with anyone else's diaries, but because they are Senator Russ Feingold's diaries -- everyone is paying attention.

We never lost Russ. But at some point, we might stop attacking him... and go after the House. It has to start in the House.

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