Jesse Walker of Reason is bummed that Russ Feingold lost: http://reason.com/blog/2010/11/03/a-farewell-to-feingold.

So am I.

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Bill Kauffman
Bill Kauffman was born on November 15 (also the birthday of Bobby Dandridge) in the otherwise forgettable year of 1959. He was an all-star Little League shortstop for the Lions Club Cubs but soon thereafter his talents eroded. After an idyllic childhood in his ancestral home of Batavia, New York, birthplace of Anti-Masonry, he was graduated from Batavia High School in 1977. He earned, more or less, a B.A. from the University of Rochester in 1981 and went therefrom to the staff of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the only dairy farmer in the U.S. Senate. Two and a half years later he left Moynihan’s staff a bohemian Main Street anarchist who loved the Beats, the New England transcendentalists, early 20th century local colorists (Sarah Orne Jewett his Maine gal), cowpunk music, and the crazy old America. Neil Diamond and Karen Carpenter, too, but don’t tell anyone. He bummed around out west for a while, sleeping in bus stations and writing derivative poetry in Salt Lake City flophouses (nah, he’s not a Mormon, just a BYU fan) before an ill-starred year in graduate school at the UR. He took a seminar with Christopher Lasch and thought on it. In the spring of 1985 he flew west to become an assistant editor with Reason magazine. He had great fun in Santa Barbara with that crew of congenial editors drinking far into the night at Eddie Van Cleeve’s Sportsman’s Lounge, but in ’86 he flew east to become the magazine’s Washington editor. Always homesick, Kauffman persuaded his lovely and talented wife Lucine, a Los Angelena, to move back to Batavia in 1988 in what he called a “one-year experiment”—the year to be measured, apparently, in Old Testament terms. They’re still there—or, more accurately, five miles north in Elba (apt name for an exile!), where Lucine is Town Supervisor. She may well be the highest-ranking Armenian-American elected official in the country, at least until the voters of California send Cher to the U.S. Senate. Take that, Turks! Lucine and Bill have a daughter, Gretel, 17, who writes and acts and plays piano and French horn. Their lab mutt, Victoria, whose tail graces the accompanying photo, is now departed, to their sorrow, but a cat, Duffy, darts in and out of the house when the mood strikes. Bill is the author of nine books: Every Man a King (Soho Press/1989), a novel, which was recently rescued from the remainder bin by a New York Sun article proclaiming it the best political satire of the last century (the Sun thereupon set); Country Towns of New York (McGraw-Hill/1994), a travel book about God’s country; America First! Its History, Culture and Politics (Prometheus/1995), a cultural history of isolationism which Benjamin Schwarz in the Atlantic called the best introduction to the American anti-imperialist tradition; With Good Intentions? Reflections on the Myth of Progress in America (Praeger/1998), his worst-seller, a sympathetic account of critics of highways, school consolidation, a standing army, and the Siren Progress; Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town’s Fight to Survive (Henry Holt/2003; Picador ppb. 2004), a memoirish book about his hometown which won the 2003 national “Sense of Place” award from Writers & Books; Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists (ISI/2006), which the American Library Association named one of the best books of 2006 and which won the Andrew Eiseman Writers Award; Ain’t My America: The Long Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle American Anti-Imperialism (Henry Holt/ Metropolitan/2008), which Barnes & Noble named one of the best books of 2008; Forgotten Founder: Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin (ISI/2008), a biography of a brilliant dipsomaniacal Anti-Federalist who warned us this was gonna happen; and Bye Bye, Miss American Empire (Chelsea Green/2010), a cheerful account of dissolution. Bill is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and a columnist for The American Conservative. He has written for numerous publications, including The American Scholar, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Nation, Chronicles, the Independent and The Spectator of London, Counterpunch, Orion, University Bookman, and Utne Reader. He is vice president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, which owns the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn Baseball League. Come summertime, he can be found in the 3rd base bleachers at Dwyer Stadium. He is also active in the officerless (of course) John Gardner Society. Bill is more handsome than the photo on this site would suggest. See books written by Bill Kauffman.

11 COMMENTS

  1. I like this:

    I’ll take a LaFollette progressive over a Wilson or Teddy Roosevelt progressive any day

    I agree. Of course, I would also take a Wilson or Roosevelt progressive over any one of the dozens of unimaginative, interest-group-besotted, post-Great Society liberal redistributionists that call themselves “progressives” in Congress these days, and I’d even reluctantly take most of them over the all-to-many corporate hacks who think protecting the freedom of Wall Street is the same as protecting the freedom of us all. Which all just goes to show that principled politicians are pretty thin on the ground these days.

  2. I have no clue what the results of this last election are supposed to mean. Voters seemed to have paid no attention to anything the cadidates said or did. Instead, they just pulled the Republican leaver for the hell of it. “Lets see what happens if I do this.”

    Ohio, a state my wife and I called home for a few years, is perhaps the most glaring example of what I’m talking about. The state’s court system is still clogged with cases related to Coingate and the various other Republican scandals from the early part of the decade, yet Republicans are now back in charge of all statewide offices. The Attorney General–Richard Cordray, one of a handful of people nationwide actually trying to hold the banks and Wall Street accountable for their part in the housing debacle, was among those who lost. I might add he was defeated by Mike DeWine–a former senator, who attacked Cordray for being, “too anti-business.”

    Also, I just read a post on one of the new sites, wherein the incoming chairman of the House committee on banking said the Federal Reserve should not enforce the provision of the recently passed Wall Street reform bill known as the Volcker rule. The Volcker rule basically says banks cannot engage in the most egregious forms of proprietary trading, unless it is at the bequest of a client.

    And no, I’m not saying, “Republicans bad, Demcrats good.” I just want to know what the voters were thinking. In polls voters overwhelmingly say they are upset at Wall Street and the banks, yet they just voted for people who will be even more forgiving of the aforementioned parties’ behaviors. Perhaps voters will have yet another case of buyer’s remorse in the not too distant future.

  3. One of the yet obsessed-over results of this election is the strengthening of one of the principle legs of the prevailing dunce stool of the careening lapsed-Republic. One of the legs is , of course, a near total abandonment of fiscal probity. Feingold’s defeat can be chalked up to the bi-partisan swoon for fear and our tawdry march into a Security State where neighbors are encouraged to spy on neighbors and the government is unchecked in its disregard for civil liberties and privacy. The third leg is legion, take your pick of several malign forces. One of my favorites is the turning of Federal Politics into Media Event and Entertainment. All of course, are the general results of Military Adventurism.

  4. For complex reasons, of course, Feingold’s recent voting record in the Senate on major questions was nonetheless closer to that of “The Tea Party” than can be said for most Republicans…. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

  5. Alas- we’re all more than a little woebegone here in Dane county. Russ was a rare Dem. I’m sure it’s been a boon for the liquor stores and local breweries- I alone bought out the rest of the Staghorn Octoberfest from the grocery down the street and drank myself silly on Saturday.

    In a vain attempt on my part to look on the bright side, I commented to a coworker that at least Russ would come back to Middleton and become an active part of the Madison community again, to which my coworker responded that he’d do well to move to a state where he’s more appreciated and run there in the next election. I’d hope Russ would have more sense than that.

    Incidentally, we did gain more than half of a La Follette: Doug (a distant cousin of Fighting Bob) was the only Democrat to win a statewide majority and was re-elected to his post as secretary of state.

    And not incidentally: I just purchased your latest book, Mr. Kauffman, and I like it very very much. When I finish (I’m on the Hawaii chapter) I’m going to attempt to loan it to the aforementioned co-worker.

  6. Alas- we’re all more than a little woebegone here in Dane county. Russ was a rare Dem. I’m sure it’s been a boon for the liquor stores and local breweries- I alone bought out the rest of the Staghorn Octoberfest from the grocery down the street and drank myself silly on Saturday.

    In a vain attempt on my part to look on the bright side, I commented to a coworker that at least Russ would come back to Middleton and become an active part of the Madison community again, to which my coworker responded that he’d do well to move to a state where he’s more appreciated and run there in the next election. I’d hope Russ would have more sense than that.

    Incidentally, we did gain more than half of a La Follette: Doug (a distant cousin of Fighting Bob) was the only Democrat to win a statewide majority and was re-elected to his post as secretary of state.

    And not incidentally: I just purchased your latest book, Mr. Kauffman, and I like it very very much. When I finish (I’m on the Hawaii chapter) I’m going to attempt to loan it to the aforementioned co-worker.

  7. As a fellow Dane County resident, I reject the notion that we are all “more than a little woebegone” here. I’m not at all woebegone. I don’t miss Russ (and his not-so-maverickey voting record), just as I never miss defeated incumbents. Good riddance to all of them. And things will be even better when his cult of personality is tired of vocalizing the apparent dark age that is about to sweep Wisconsin under Ron Johnson’s tenure. When will we remember that all of them are hacks? In contemporary America, it takes a particular kind of person even to mount a serious campaign for federal office, much less win. Like the Epicureans, I am inclined to conclude that this “particular kind” is the more worthless sort of man.

    And yet they win nevertheless.

    Which brings me to my second point:

    Robert says this:

    I have no clue what the results of this last election are supposed to mean. Voters seemed to have paid no attention to anything the cadidates said or did. Instead, they just pulled the Republican lever for the hell of it. “Lets see what happens if I do this.”

    Well, isn’t that what the voters always do?

    • Ah- Welcome to the place-less place that is this internet: where every semi-anonymous Ignatius J. Reilly in the nation (even one from your hometown!) lurks in a bedroom, searching for something outrageous to take exception to, assuring those of us that speak for everyone that we in fact do not, and offering the latest bit of overly-pessimistic ejaculation designed to set us all straight. And I thought I was a cynic! I take it you’re happy with Ron, Rob?

      Hmmm. Not that I’m exempt from criticism- I’m as tired of writing lengthy indictments against our century as I am of reading them. (Perhaps this is not the [virtual] place for me. Though I must admit, some of the curmudgeonry is too eloquent and entertaining to ignore!) Maybe it’s time for me to take an extended break from the internet – or at least the comments sections – and make a cheese dip or two. All this cynical ranting is making me hungry.

  8. And, by the way, let’s not get our knickers in a bunch: Feingold will have a (good) chance of running for and winning the seat soon to be voluntarily vacated by Herb “Who?” Kohl, the other senator from Wisconsin, who appears to be good at little else beyond having his name affixed to buildings.

    Or he could run for governor in a few years.

    Or better yet, he and all the rest of them could go away. Forever.

  9. Feingold lost due to an unusually high percentage of straight party line voting, the syndrome already noted of “let’s pull the Republican level and see what happens.” (These days, its drawing a thin pencil line on a scannable paper ballot, but I miss the old level pull voting machines.) Ron Johnson is going to be a real embarrassment. He never offered a program, his platform was “Duh, I think I’d like to be a senator, aren’t you tired of Russ, but the way, do you know there’s not one accountant in the senate?” (I’d like to see a bus driver in the senate, if previous occupation is the criterion.)

    It would be nice if Kohl retires, and there is a powerful enough wave to bring Feingold back into the running. I don’t know if it will happen. He has plenty of support left here. Its the voters that swing this way and that who determine election outcomes. Right now, if they don’t get instant gratification, they swing again.

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