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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
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Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

November 23, 2004
On election eve, while Bush and Kerry were duking it out over battleground states, including Wisconsin, Dairyland's Democratic Senator Russ Feingold was giddily giving his acceptance speech with less than half the vote counted. He somewhat facetiously and with a suppressed laughter thanked his opponent Tim Michels for a race well (or dirtily on Michels behalf) run and went on to excitedly accept his third term as senator.

While other senators (i.e. Wisconsin senator Herb Kohl) are making millions owning NBA basketball teams, Russ Feingold is notoriously the "poorest" senator on the payroll. He declines pay raises, and as a third-term senator only collects a first-year, first-term senator's salary. Though he is still making much more annually than the majority of his constituents, the divide is not so great, and he is seen as an equal rather than a newly born aristocrat. Establishing camaraderie between Wisconsinites and their senator, Feingold holds yearly "listening sessions" in each Wisconsin county. In what would be an empty promise from most politicians-hearing the public's concerns-Feingold makes tangible.

It is his charisma, honesty and progressive ideology, controversial but not isolating, that has made Feingold a threat to right-wing conservatives and appealing to his constituents at large.

Staunch Republicans, though they won't come out and directly say it, seem to have quite the distaste for Senator Feingold. The Republican Party of Wisconsin's Web site has an entire collection of articles uniformly titled, "Out of Step With Russ Feingold." Under the heading are individual articles from conservative media outlets with such titles as-"Feingold Turns His Back on Wisconsin's Most Vulnerable Citizens," "White House Slaps Russ Down" and "Feingold's Goofy Fight." Why does the Republican Party in Wisconsin spend so much time discrediting a senator that Wisconsin residents have kept in office since 1992? Because of that very reason, he is a threat. Now, who is really out of step?

Senator Feingold, a Rhodes scholar and University of Wisconsin and Harvard Law School graduate, is best known for his recent campaign finance reform legislation in conjunction with Arizona Republican John McCain. Both senators aim to rid elections of unlimited amounts of soft money contributions donated by the wealthiest of the wealthy-corporations, rich individuals and unions. Ideally, Feingold has spoke of publicly funded elections, but has also alternatively offered the idea of capping individual contributions made at $100 per person. Political corporate whore mongering is itself responsible for many, if not most, of the social ills plaguing those people outside of the wealthy upper two percent, but Feingold should be as well recognized on a larger scale for his progressive take on social issues, terrorism, health care and the environment. He is pro-life, anti-death penalty, in support of universal health care, in favor of raising the national minimum wage, opposes corporate tax breaks for outsourcing jobs overseas, and against the occupation of Iraq.

Recently, Feingold voted against Bush's Medicare bill, which works to further privatize the health care industry, driving up the cost of both Medicare premiums and prescription drugs. He also supports the effort by US citizens to obtain legal, safe prescription drugs from Canada, and internationally. In unison with health care, Feingold has been admirable in his support for the environment. As well as fighting conservative efforts to loosen restrictions under the Clean Air Act, Feingold repeatedly opposed the drilling for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Sadly, he didn't get his way.

One of the few black marks on Feingold's reputation, through liberal eyes at least, is his vote to confirm John Ashcroft as attorney general. Now, with Ashcroft's resignation, the sting of his vote is less painful, and it is comforting to know that Feingold, though voting in favor of the man, was one of the foremost, if not only at times, critics of Ashcroft's policies. And it's the policies that last a whole lot longer than the individual who puts them in place. Senator Feingold justifies his vote in saying, "When the president picks someone who is his ideological soul mate, that's his right, in my reading of 'advise and consent'" (The Progressive, interview with Matthew Rothschild). But, does that still make it right? Fairness over ideology? Whatever the reasoning, Feingold went on to solely oppose the Patriot Act-a senator who was intelligent and had enough foresight to cast a vote favoring retention of our civil liberties in the shadows of an elusive enemy that was at the time more concrete. While conservatives are burying their heads in either the sand or their pocketbooks, Feingold has rightly called the war on Iraq both unfocused and unjust. He opposed the creation of the Homeland Security Department and has voted against giving the Bush administration billions for new military spending, most to be spent on weapons, not reconstruction.

Feingold, in his twelve years as senator, has kept with Wisconsin's forward-thinking past-Progressive magazine, a party of the same name, and senators Bob Lafollette and Gaylord Nelson. Senator Feingold gives the liberal majority confidence that Wisconsin will forever be a blue state, no matter how close Republicans have gotten to matching our output in the polls, maddeningly trying to smear our progressive reputation.

SEE ALSO: www.russfeingold.org
SEE ALSO: www.progressive.org
SEE ALSO: www.wisgop.org
SEE ALSO: www.jsonline.com

--
Abbie Amadio
The last we heard Abbie Amadio, a former contributor to LAS, was based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

See other articles by Abbie Amadio.

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