Russ Feingold

  • Aired:  02/21/12
  •  | Views: 13,975

Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold stresses the need for America's leaders to understand foreign policy and focus on Al Qaeda's global threat. (7:45)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE).

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT SERVED FOR 18

YEARS AS A UNITED STATES SENATOR

FROM WISCONSIN.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED "WHILE

AMERICA SLEEPS: A WAKEUP CALL

FOR THE POST-9/11 ERA."

WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM RUSS

FEINGOLD.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HOW ARE YOU?

>> VERY GOOD.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON.

>> Jon: THE BOOK IS CALLED

"WHILE AMERICA SLEEPS."

IT IS ONE OF THE SCARIEST

BEDTIME STORIES YOU COULD EVER

READ.

(LAUGHTER)

IT'S A CHILDREN'S BOOK, AM I

RIGHT?

PICTURES TO COME.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> Jon: IT SORT OF BEGINS 9/11

AND SORT OF HOW... TALKS ABOUT

HOW THE GOVERNMENT LOST OUR

MINDS A LITTLE BIT, WENT INTO

IRAQ, DID A LOT OF THINGS.

AS YOU'RE WATCHING NOW-- AND WE

WERE TALKING ABOUT THIS WITH THE

AUDIENCE EARLIER-- DO YOU FEEL

US MOVING IN THAT DIRECTION

AGAIN WITH IRAN?

AND DO YOU THINK... IS IT EASY

FOR AMERICA TO BOMB THEM SINCE

IT'S ONLY REALLY ONE LETTER OFF

ANYWAY?

(LAUGHTER)

>> THERE MIGHT BE SOME

CONFUSION.

THE PROBLEM IS AFTER 9/11 WE

SORT OF HAD THINGS RIGHT FOR A

WHILE.

THERE WAS SORT OF A FEELING OF

UNITY, WE WERE GOING TO PAY

ATTENTION TO THE REST OF THE

WORLD.

THE WAY WE WENT INTO AFGHANISTAN

WAS MEASURED.

BUT THEN IRAQ OCCURRED AND ALL

OF A SUDDEN WE DECIDED WE HAD TO

DO SOMETHING... IT WAS LIKE A

GAME OF RISK.

YOU HAD TO INVADE A COUNTRY AND

YOU HAVE TO KEEP YOUR TROOPS

THERE.

THEN YOU INVADE ANOTHER COUNTRY.

SO WE DID AFGHANISTAN, WE DID

IRAQ, AND NOW IT FEELS LIKE

INSTEAD OF LOOKING AT THE GLOBAL

THREAT OF AL QAEDA AND OTHER

ISSUES, NOW IT'S ALL IRAN.

IRAN 24 HOURS A DAY BECAUSE IT

SUIT IT IS PURPOSES OF THE

CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES WHO WANT

TO TRY TO EMBARRASS THE

PRESIDENT.

SO WE DON'T HAVE THE GLOBAL

ATTENTION THAT I THOUGHT WE ALL

AGREED WE HAD TO HAVE AFTER WE

WERE SURPRISED AND AWAKENED ON

9/11.

>> Jon: COULDN'T WE-- IF IT IS

RISK-- JUST, AS I WOULD END

THOSE GAMES, KNOCK THE BOARD

OVER?

(LAUGHTER)

>> IT'S AN IDEA.

I'D PREFER THE GAME OF SCRABBLE

IN THIS SITUATION.

>> Jon: SURE.

SURE.

>> WHERE YOU HAVE TO KIND OF

THINK IN TWO DIRECTIONS.

YOU MIGHT NOTICE THAT YEMEN IS

CLOSE TO SOMALIA AND THAT'S

CLOSE TO WHERE THERE'S AN

ISLAMIC GROUP IN NORTHERN AFRICA

WHO ARE CREATING SOME OF THESE

PROBLEMS.

>> Jon: WAIT, YOU'RE NOT

SAYING THAT WE SHOULD BOMB THEM?

>> HERE'S WHAT WE OUGHT TO DO.

WE OUGHT TO AT LEAST KNOW WHAT'S

GOING ON.

AND WE DON'T HAVE A PRESENCE IN

THE REST OF THE WORLD.

>> Jon: IT'S CHANGING SO

QUICKLY.

EVEN THE TIME IT TOOK TO JUST

PRINT UP A BOOK-- A LOT OF THIS

FOCUSES ON YEMEN AND SOMALIA--

NOW IT'S SHIFTED TO SYRIA AND

IRAN AND SO MANY OTHER PLACES.

IT MOVES SO QUICKLY WE ALMOST

DON'T HAVE TIME.

>> IT'S HARD.

THE ANALOGY I USE IS WHEN WE

WERE KIDS THERE WERE JUST SEVEN

OR EIGHT...

>> Jon: IS THIS ABOUT RISK

AGAIN?

>> THIS ISN'T ABOUT RISK.

THIS IS ABOUT SEVEN OR EIGHT

BASEBALL TEAMS WHEN WE WERE KID.

WE KNEW ALL THE BASEBALL TEAMS.

NOW THE WORLD IS ALSO VERY

COMPLICATED COMPARED TO WHAT IT

WAS WHEN WE WERE KIDS.

WHEN WE WERE KIDS IT WAS THE

SOVIET UNION AND THE UNITED

STATES.

YES, THERE ARE MANY PLACES WE

HAVE TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT?

WE DON'T HAVE A CHOICE ANYMORE.

WE HAVE TO LEARN ABOUT THE REST

OF THE WORLD.

WE HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT WHO IS

ACTUALLY WILLING TO WORK WITH US

IN PLACES LIKE NORTHERN AFRICA

AND SOUTHEAST ASIA.

WE CAN'T GO "GEE, TODAY IT'S

IRAN.

TOMORROW IT'S YEMEN, THE NEXT

DAY IT'S INDONESIA."

IT DOESN'T WORK.

>> Jon: TO SUM UP, YOU'RE

SUGGESTING THAT WE SHOULD DO

LIKE THEY DO IN BASEBALL--

CONSOLIDATE.

THERE SHOULD ONLY BE SIX TO

EIGHT COUNTRIES?

>> THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT.

TO MAKE IT LIKE A GAME OF RISK

WHERE YOU HAVE THESE HUGE GLOBS

OF COUNTRIES.

>> Jon: CAMPAIGN FINANCE WAS

AN ENORMOUS UNDERTAKING FOR YOU.

McCAIN-FEINGOLD OBVIOUSLY TOOK

YOU... HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO

PUT THAT?

>> IT TOOK EIGHT YEARS TO GET

THAT DONE.

>> Jon: EIGHT YEARS TO GET

THAT DONE.

SO WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ON THE

STATE OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE IN

AMERICA TODAY VIS-A-VIS IS THERE

ANY?

(LAUGHTER)

>> IT COULD BE BETTER.

THE TRUTH IS THAT

McCAIN-FEINGOLD WAS BIT ON

THIS FOUNDATION AND ACTUALLY

WORKED TO STOP DIRECT

CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE POLITICAL

PARTIES AND POLITICIANS RAISING

IT.

WHAT THE SUPREME COURT DID IS N

CITIZENS UNITED WAS DESTROY THE

ENTIRE FOUNDATION AND NOW WE

HAVE CORPORATIONS AND UNIONS

ABLE TO USE THEIR TREASURIES

DIRECTLY TO DO THE STUFF THEY'VE

NEVER BEEN ABLE TO DO SINCE THE

GILDED AGE, SINCE TEDDY

ROOSEVELT.

>> Jon: YOU KNOW I REMEMBER

AFTER McCAIN-FEINGOLD PASSED

THE 527s CAME OUT.

WAS THIS A LOOPHOLE THEY FOUND

ALMOST IMMEDIATELY?

>> NO, THEY COULD NOT DO THAT

DIRECTLY FROM THE CORPORATE

TREASURIES AND ACTUALLY I

BELIEVE THAT WAS ILLEGAL AS WELL

AT THE TIME.

THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN COURT.

WE DON'T HAVE AN AGENCY IN THE

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT... THE

FEDERAL ELECTIONS COMMISSION

DOESN'T ENFORCE THE LAW.

SO WE HAVE A TERRIBLE SITUATION

UNLESS THE SUPREME COURT

REVERSES, WHICH I THINK IT MAY

AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE, IF

THE PRESIDENT IS REELECTED AND

ABLE TO GET DIFFERENT SUPREME

COURT JUSTICES.

IN THE MEANTIME, WE HAVE A

MELTDOWN AND A VERY... THE WORST

CORRUPTION PERHAPS IN 100 YEARS.

>> Jon: IS CITIZENS UNITED THE

ISSUE OR IS IT THE ISSUE WHEN

THEY ULTIMATELY DECIDED MONEY

EQUALS SPEECH?

IS THAT THE MORE FUNDAMENTAL

FOUNDATION OF THIS THAT MAKES IT

MORE DIFFICULT?

BECAUSE ONCE YOU DECIDE THAT, AS

LONG AS YOUR MONEY DOESN'T YELL

"FIRE" IN A CROWDED THEATER...

(LAUGHTER).

>> WELL, THE COURT NEVER

ACTUALLY CONCLUDED THAT MONEY IS

SPEECH IN ALL CASES.

THEY SAID IF IT CAUSES

CORRUPTION OR APPEARANCE OF

CORRUPTION YOU CAN REGULATE IT.

THAT'S WHY YOU HAVE LIMITS ON

CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS UNDER

FEDERAL LAW.

SO THE PROBLEM IS CITIZENS

UNITED.

IT OVERTURNED A LAW FROM 1907

THAT NOBODY EVER QUESTIONED AND

ANOTHER LAW FROM 1947.

SO BASICALLY THE SUPREME COURT

JUST MADE IT UP.

IT WAS ONE OF THE WORST

DECISIONS IN THE HISTORY OF THE

COUNTRY AND IT'S THE ONLY

DECISION...

(APPLAUSE).

IT'S THE ONLY DECISION I CAN

REMEMBER THAT THE AVERAGE

CITIZEN KNOWS ABOUT.

THEY KNOW SOMETHING'S WRONG AND

THIS WHOLE THING IS GOING TO

COLLAPSE AND WE'LL HAVE TO CLEAN

IT UP.

>> Jon: EVERYBODY YOU TALKED

TO SAYS THAT.

THERE'S NOT A POLITICIAN YOU

TALK TO DOESN'T SAY "THE BIGGEST

PROBLEM IN OUR SYSTEM IS THE

INFLUENCE OF MONEY."

"WHAT SHOULD WE DO ABOUT THAT?"

"I DON'T KNOW, WE SHOULD DO

SOMETHING ABOUT THAT.

".

(LAUGHTER)

EVEN McCAIN-FEINGOLD, YOU'RE

STILL... THE FOUNDATION IS STILL

THE TERMITE-INFESTED FOUNDATION

WE STARTED WITH.

WHY WON'T... WHY DOESN'T PUBLIC

FINANCING OF ELECTIONS JUST...

IF WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO

REGULATE IT, WHY NOT JUST SAY

THIS IS THE WAY WE'RE GOING TO

DO IT.

THE ELECTIONS ARE 12 WEEKS, IT'S

PUBLICLY FINANCED, THIS IS HOW

IT GOES.

>> WELL, PUBLIC FINANCING IS THE

ANSWER.

WE USED TO HAVE A GOOD SYSTEM

FOR PRESIDENTIAL PUBLIC

FINANCING AND IT SORT OF WENT BY

THE WAYSIDE, IT NEEDS TO BE

FIXED.

WE'VE NEVER HAD IT FOR

CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS.

>> Jon: WHEN DID IT GO BY THE

WAYSIDE?

>> UNFORTUNATELY IN THE LAST

ELECTION PRESIDENT OBAMA DECIDED

THAT... CANDIDATE OBAMA DECIDED

NOT TO TAKE PUBLIC FINANCING

AND...

>> Jon: AND HE'S GOING TO DO

SUPERPACS NOW.

>> HE'S GOING TO BE INVOLVED

WITH HIS CABINET MEMBERS WITH

THIS AND I DISAGREE AND SANTORUM

AND ROMNEY AND GINGRICH ARE

GOING TO THEIR ACTUAL SUPER PAC

EVENTS THEMSELVES.

>> Jon: BUT THEY'RE NOT

COORDINATING WITH THEM, JUST

TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO.

>> NO MORE THAN YOUR SUPER PAC

IS DOING THAT.

>> Jon: I WOULD NEVER

COORDINATE.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU CAN

WRITE CHECKS FOR.

>> THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO KNOW.

>> Jon: KING OF THE WORLD.

ARE YOU FEELING HOPEFUL ABOUT

THE FUTURE OF THE POLITICAL WILL

TO GO TO A DIFFERENT SYSTEM OF

ELECTIONS?

>> OH, YEAH.

I THINK THIS THING IS GOING TO

COME TO A HEAD.

I THINK PEOPLE ARE GOING TO FIND

OUT WHAT IS GOING ON IN SOME OF

THESE CONVERSATIONS YOU AND

OTHERS ARE HAVING WITH YOUR

SUPER PACS AND THERE'S GOING TO

BE AN EXPLOSION OF CORRUPTION

THAT BRINGS CHANGE JUST LIKE

McCAIN-FEINGOLD.

IT WAS THE SCANDALS THAT CAME

UP...

>> Jon: WATERGATE?

>> WATERGATE WAS THE FIRST ONE

AND THEN THE $400,000 CHECK FROM

THE INDONESIAN GARDENER UNDER

PRESIDENT CLINTON.

>> Jon: I LOVE HOW THAT ROLLS

OFF YOUR TONGUE.

$400,000 FROM THE INDONESIAN

GARDENER UNDER PRESIDENT

CLINTON."

DO YOU HAVE TWO SECONDS?

WE'LL THROW THIS UP ON THE WEB.

"WHILE AMERICA SLEEPS."

IT'S ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

RUSS

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