Monday, February 27, 2006

3, 97 and Other Primary Numbers

Yesterday, I was accused of doing a "hatchet job" by an out-of-district critic. So today, I will try hide behind the facts and go straight to your Chicago Sun-Times:
Just 3 percent of the campaign contributions that Democrat Tammy Duckworth raised last year came from the west suburban congressional district that the wounded Iraq war veteran hopes to represent. ***

Most of the cash all four Democratic and Republican candidates raised came from somewhere other than the 6th Congressional District.

But Duckworth's numbers were the most lopsided, with 97 percent of the $115,973 in itemized contributions she had in her fund Dec. 31 coming from outside the district's borders.
Jeepers, that sure doesn't look good. I guess the D.C. Dems better just keep their heads down and hope no one notices.
"It obviously shows that she's a candidate that is being fielded from outside the district," Democratic rival Christine Cegelis said. "She lives outside the district. And her support is from outside the district."
Darn that Cegelis... She and her supporters are always thinking a Congressional Representative should actually be from the district.
"Three percent is minuscule," said Jonathan Collegio, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee. "She is raising money from Chicago Democrats and the Democratic Machine."

The Republicans noticed that the Emanuel candidate has shallow roots in the District. And Mr. Collegio was kind enough to give us a one sentence glimpse of Roskam's negative campaign theme should the out-of-district candidate represent the Democrats in November.

So 6th District Democratic primary voters now have something else to ask themselves before going to the polls: In November, will Dems be able to convince the ticket-spliting, independent swing voters of the 6th District that the out-of-district candidate with the out-of-district funding would be the district's best representative?

Cross-posted at Illinoize

Tribune Endorsements

From your Chicago Tribune's 6th District endorsement of Rahm Emanuel's candidate for the 6th District:
Christine Cegelis, a software engineer, picked up 44 percent of the vote against Hyde in 2004.
Holding Hyde to the lowest percent of the vote in decades.
She's running again.
Actually, Christine never stopped running. Christine has been out and about in the 6th District, meeting with her neighbors, getting to know their concerns about the direction in which our country is headed. Since 2004, she has been building on the grass-roots network of supporters who pulled in 44% of the vote without any support from Washington.
But Democrats have a better candidate in Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq war who has fresh and pragmatic views on trade, health care, taxes and other issues.
And what criteria does the Tribune editorial board use to determine what views are "fresh and pragmatic"?

Let's ask Don Wycliff, the Trib's Public Editor:
[T]he editorial board is guided in making its decisions by what might be called the "Tribune manifesto," a statement of philosophical principles and attitudes. Based on a 1969 editorial that marked a change of administration--nay, a change of era--at the newspaper ***. One exemplary paragraph:
The Tribune believes in the traditional principles of limited government; maximum individual responsibility; and minimum restriction of personal liberty, opportunity and enterprise. It believes in free markets, free will and freedom of expression.

These principles, while traditionally conservative, are guidelines and not reflexive dogmas.
So the Tribune, whose editorial page is still considered generally conservative, bases its endorsements on a "manifesto" formulated back when the paper was even more conservative. Are we to believe that the Tribune manifesto reflects the views of Democrats in the 6th District?

Back to the Tribune's analysis of the Emanual candidate:
She has some well-considered views on how the U.S. and Iraqis can finish the job there and bring American soldiers home.
And just what does the Tribune see as "well-considered views" when it comes to Iraq?

Well, let's take a look at the "well-considered views" of the man the Chicago Tribune endorsed for president in 2004:
Bush arguably invaded with too few allies and not enough troops. He will go to his tomb defending his reliance on intelligence from agencies around the globe that turned out to be wrong. And he has refused to admit any errors.
But, nevertheless, the Tribune endorsed George W. Bush.

The Tribune endorsed the candidate who "arguably" invaded with too few troops and not enough allies...
and insufficient armor for our troops...
and no plan for reconstruction...
and a self-evident inability to protect Iraq's "democracy" from a sectarian civil war...
and who still -- STILL -- has refused to admit any errors.

You know, it's almost enough to call into question the Tribune's judgment when it comes to candidates and their views on Iraq.

And how did the Tribune cap off that regrettable endorsement from the fall of 2004:
For three years, Bush has kept Americans, and their government, focused -- effectively -- on this nation's security. The experience, dating from Sept. 11, 2001, has readied him for the next four years, a period that could prove as pivotal in this nation's history as were the four years of World War II.
And since then we have seen how "effectively" the Tribune's "readied" candidate bungled the aftermath of the Katrina disaster.

We have seen how "effectively" the Tribune's candidate has let Iraq descend into chaos.

We have seen how "effectively" the Tribune's candidate has turned our nation's ports over to the royal families of the United Arab Emirates -- one of only three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban government that protected Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda.

Nice call, Tribune.

And, if nothing else, 6th District Democrats should ask one question when contemplating the value of the Tribune's endorsement in the Democratic primary: Who did the Chicago Tribune endorse in the 6th District in 2004?

Henry Hyde.

The Tribune's endorsement history gives us a clear record of the Trib's philosophical principles and attitudes.

Now 6th District Democrats have to decide which candidate best represents them and their philosophical principles and attitudes.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Christine Cegelis on Air America Radio

Christine Cegelis will be appearing on this evening's episode of RadioNation with Laura Flanders.

Listen live here.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

"In An Illinois Primary, Three's A Crowd"

In These Times examined the local response to the D.C. Dem's hamfisted intrusion into the 6th District primary:
“We felt [Duckworth’s entry] was heavy-handed meddling by the DCCC and Rahm Emanuel to try to intervene in the grassroots politics of DuPage county,” says [Doug Cole, chair of the York Township Democrats]. “Everything they do drips with centralized arrogance and is as autocratic as any ensemble of Republicans.” Christian Century Senior Contributing Editor Jim Wall, a former Democratic congressional candidate and state central committeeman from the area, is supporting Cegelis and thinks voters will resist both Scott’s direct religious appeal and Emanuel’s outside intervention.

Cegelis, who says she originally ran because she feared the prospects for the next generation were declining, accepts the competition but felt surprised and frustrated by party leaders’ intercession. “That was a real shocker to me,” she says.

Even many Duckworth supporters have regrets. “Frankly, I don’t think it was handled all that well,” says David Axelrod, Duckworth’s media consultant and a leading national Democratic strategist.
But I thought that we locals were supposed to just defer to the Washington brahmins because they were so politically savvy.

Mmmmaybe not.

Again via Gapers Block.

"Go Christine!"

The Nation's Katha Pollitt weighed in on the 6th District Democratic Primary:
Go Christine!

I was never wild about the Band of Brothers idea *** and not just because it is such a male (and white) bunch of tired and dreary no-idea candidates. It's a gimmick. A militaristic gimmick. It says Daddy's back and he hates those commie pinko peaceniks just as much as you, patriotic red-blooded red-state America!

What's next, Band of Preachers?

Tammy Duckworth is a great human-interest story, but that's not a reason to support her candidacy. Running her is an act of considerable cynicism-- but it seems to be working. *** The centrist mantra is working it's magic: Already you're having trouble telling the difference between the candidate who walks the walk and has grassroots support, and the candidate who is basically a photo-op. Who says Duckworth is the more electable of the two, besides the pols who recruited her to run?

Duckworth wants to stay in Iraq, she's allied with the more conservative wing of the party, and she seems to have very little substantive to say about most issues. She' s trying to push out of the way a candidate who has a lot of support, more local roots, who ran an incredible race last time, and who has much better politics.

I would trust Cegelis a thousand times over Duckworth to take progressive stands once elected, including on women's rights and abortion rights. Duckworth told the Washington Post she thinks abortion shouldn't be a federal issue. That's not exactly a ringing defense of abortion rights, since unfortunately it IS a federal issue.

If it's all the same to you whether the US stays in Iraq or not, if you think women candidates are fungible and it makes no difference that one has been part of progressive politics in the district for years while the other was trying to get into active combat because (according to the WashPost) she thought flying helicopters was cool, by all means, support Duckworth.
And now Joe McCarthy Jr. will call on Illinois Democrats to rebuke Ms. Pollitt in... 3... 2... 1...

via Gapers Block

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tribune: Cegelis Supported by National Progressive Fundraising Committee

In a piece focusing on the national attention on the 6th District Democratic primary, your Chicago Tribune takes a look at Christine Cegelis' endorsement by the progressive, grass-roots Democrats at DFA:
Christine Cegelis won the backing of a campaign fundraising committee formerly headed by Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean and now run by Dean's brother.

Cegelis "is just a great candidate; she's got a good ground game, she's really good on issues," said Jim Dean, who heads Democracy for America. "She ran a terrific campaign [last time,] which has a lot of folks fired up, and we just kept that going."

Democracy for America is an outgrowth of Dean for America, the Internet-based campaign and fundraising arm of Howard Dean's unsuccessful 2004 White House bid. Though Dean failed, his Internet operation was credited with creating new interest in politics among youths and became highly successful in generating money for Dean and congressional candidates. ***

In 2004, Cegelis was supported by the DFA and named to Howard Dean's "Dean Dozen" of congressional candidates. Her 44 percent showing then was the best of any Democrat against Hyde in 30 years, leading Democrats to believe the seat is winnable this election.
Naturally, the Trib, like your Sun-Times, also discussed Sen. Obama's appearance in the new tv ad for the DCCC candidate. But Christine, like her supporters and the DFA, is focusing on her grass-roots strength:
Cegelis downplayed Obama's commercial in the 6th District congressional contest.

"I've always been told someone will vote for a candidate they have met and shaken hands with," she said. "And let's face it. I'm that candidate. Tammy has been in this district for what, two months? I've been running for more than two years," Cegelis said.
As I have said from the time that the Washington Democrats started trolling for a 6th District candidate, this primary will be a showdown between two fundamentally distinct campaign styles: a high-tech, D.C.-funded advertising blitz versus a 6th District resident's grass-roots team of neighbors talking to neighbors.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

"They Are Won By Men (And Women)"

Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. - attributed to General George Patton Jr.

Although analogies between elections and wars are at best trite and at worst dangerous, they are called campaigns. And that analogy can be stretched further in the campaign for the 6th District Democratic nomination, where we can divide the competitors into those who will be fighting a high-tech air campaign and those who will be conducting a guerilla ground war.

And, at the risk of violating the Geneva Convention by torturing this analogy, it seems that this endorsement by Democracy for America will garner the Cegelis team more grass-roots foot-soldiers:
Francine Busby Christine Cegelis Mary Jo Kilroy Lois Murphy

Yesterday was Justice Samuel Alito's first day on the Supreme Court bench. The high court now has a majority hostile to women's reproductive rights -- and their first order of business is hearing a case that could substantially alter the right to choose. We don't know what the Court will decide. But we do know that the best way to protect our rights is to elect a Democratic majority to Congress this November.

And that's why I am excited to announce the next DFA-List -- Francine Busby, Christine Cegelis, Mary Jo Kilroy and Lois Murphy for Congress. These four women are running in winnable districts. If we are going to elect a Democratic majority in 2006, we need to fight for victories in these races. Read more and make a contribution to their campaigns today:

Time and time again, DFA has surprised the pundits, winning in districts where Democrats have feared to tread for far too long. Today, I urge you to get involved in these critical races so we can take our country back in 2006!
Although there are those outside of the district who discount and denegrate the value of grass-roots boots on the ground (grass-boots?), I still think that a door to door, face to face ground campaign can overcome an assault of postcards and cable t.v. ads flown in from Washington.

Otherwise, to me, just what the hell is the point?

Note: As a former infantry platoon leader, I can see that the poor military/election campaign analogy, "battle-hardened" though it may be, has been stretched too thin and must be retired from service.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Getting To Know The Foreign Power That Will Control America's Vulnerable Ports of Entry

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday. ***

Lawmakers from both parties have noted that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the United Arab Emirates as an operational and financial base. In addition, critics contend the UAE was an important transfer point for shipments of smuggled nuclear components sent to Iran, North Korea and Libya by a Pakistani scientist.
Well, Mr. Bush may be willfully and woefully ignorant of the foreign government to whom his administration is turning over control of our nation's vulnerable ports, but you don't have to be as clueless as the president.

Click on the picture of Captain Hammad to learn more about Dubai Ports Authority.

Note: We need to give the president the benefit of the doubt -- I'll bet Mr. Bush would have gotten involved in the decision making process much earlier if only someone had told him there were cartoons.

Port o' Bull

Just so we're clear -- The United States is so threatened by radical Islamic terrorism that American citizens should surrender our fundamental Constitutional rights, but we're not so threatened that we shouldn't turn over management of our nation's ports to a company controlled by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates?

Okay, clear as mud.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Emanuel Honors Olympians

Lynn Sweet's blog has a Speech of Hon. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois in the House of Representatives.

He then pledged to find each of them a Democratic Congressional primary in which to run.

Big Games in a Big Tent

Larry the Archpundit noticed that the gay-obsessed Illinois Family Institute are upset that Chicago is hosting the Gay Games VII but taking a pass on the Republican National Convention.

While the piece is generally the type of journalism we've come to expect from the IFI -- i.e. IFI "reporter" Peter LaBarbera quotes IFI "Executive Director" Peter LaBarbera -- one of LaBarbera's complaints about the Gay Games stood out:
The Chicago "Gay Games" face an additional challenge of competing with an alternate homosexual athletic contest in Montreal, also in July, called the "Out Games." The two homosexual sporting events are recruiting from the same pool of athletes, and the Out Games just landed world renown lesbian tennis star Martina Navratilova to open their competition.
Yes, you read it right -- The Illinois Family Institute's Peter LaBarbera is concerned about Chicago's Gay Games because it may not be able to attract enough homosexual athletes!

But Mr. LaBarbera shouldn't worry -- one doesn't have to be gay to compete in the Gay Games:
The Gay Games are open to anyone. There are no qualifying events, no minimum or maximum requirements, and no mandatory affiliations. The Games are built on the founding principles of Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best, and promote a supportive environment, free from bigotry, where participants achieve success by their own measure. ***

[N]early 50,000 individuals of different races, genders, sexual orientations, national origin, physical and athletic abilities, health statuses, ages, religious and socio-economic backgrounds have come together from around the world in the spirit of Participation, Inclusion and Personal Best.
So even if you are a straight as Abraham Lincoln -- or as gay as Abraham Lincoln -- you are welcome at Chicago's Gay Games.

Alas, the same could not be said of the Republican National Convention.

Cross-posted at Illinoize.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Five Years of Magical Thinking

The AP reports in your Chicago Sun-Times that Henry Hyde accidentally identified the Bush foreign policy as a childish fantasy.
Illinois Republican Rep. Henry Hyde, who is influential on foreign affairs matters, questioned the wisdom and effectiveness Thursday of American efforts to spread democracy, a cornerstone of Bush administration policy.

With Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice poised to testify to the panel that Hyde chairs, the House International Relations Committee, he questioned what he called the ''Golden Theory'' -- that the United States can produce peace and stability around the world by financing and encouraging democracy.

''The magic formula of democracy alone'' will not work, said Hyde (R-Ill.), who represents a west suburban district. It must be paired with ''unbounded power'' and ''an open-ended commitment of time and resources, which we cannot and will not do,'' he said. ***

''But without that long-term dominant American position, the odds of success are long indeed,'' Hyde said.

He did not mention President Bush or Rice, and she did not respond to his remarks.
And in case you have forgotten, we have already made an "open-ended committment" of 400 BILLION DOLLARS to Bush ''Golden Theory'' experiments in Iraq and Afghanistan -- with an Shiite religious bloc electoral victory and a resurgent Taliban to show for it.

Note: I held off until the afternoon to post this to allow our Republican friends to have the first crack at addressing this apparent split between their 6th Dist. Saint and the Bush Administration's Mission from God. But like the vice president shooting an old man in the face, it seems that this is something that they would rather ignore and pretend never happened.

Taking a Stand Against Taking a Stand

Conventional wisdom tells us that those who oppose the war in Iraq are all dirty, rude creeps and that those who support the war are all upstanding, gentlemen patriots.

So I have no doubt that this Sun-Times account of Cindy Sheehan's speech at St. Xavier University will be completely disregarded:
Sheehan was hired by the university's student activities board to give a speech titled "One person can make a difference, not one more," aimed at getting people involved in the peace movement. ***

Sheehan suggested she was going to stay away from politics on this night, telling an audience of more than 300 -- including protesters who stood on the bleachers with their backs to her -- the story of why she became involved in the anti-war effort and how one person can make a difference.

She talked about how her son shared a birthday with John F. Kennedy and died in Iraq on April 4, 2004, the same date Martin Luther King was killed. That's when the protesters in the crowd started heckling her.

When she started reading her daughter's anti-war poem, something that spurred her to the peace movement, about 20 protesters inside the gym walked out, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and screaming at her. ***

She said, "Let's talk about supporting the troops," and went on to list the problems such as poor quality body armor and having soldiers eating rotten food. "Let's talk about cutting VA benefits for when they come home. Let's talk about kids committing suicide because they're not being treated for post-traumatic stress."

She went on to say: "If you care about the troops, do more than carry a sign or put up a bumper sticker . . . if you support this war and President Bush, march to your recruiter's office and sign up."
Oh yeah, one more thing -- the invasion and occupation of Iraq is costing the U.S. the better part of FOUR HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS.

Hastert Says "No" to Ethics Proposal

Lynn Sweet of your Chicago Sun-Times reports that Denny Hastert feels that the foxes are doing a fine job of guarding the henhouse:
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday that the Republican leader is dead set against a proposal by Sen. Barack Obama to create an independent panel to probe ethics complaints.

Hastert's strong resistance to a plan Obama (D-Ill.) wants to make the centerpiece of his ethics crackdown puts the two Illinoisans on a collision course.

"He is against having a private investigating panel," Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said.

"It makes no sense," Bonjean said. Instead, Hastert believes allegations of wrongdoing can be handled by members in the ethics committee -- though the House ethics committee has been dormant for the last year.

I asked Bonjean if Hastert's opposition was negotiable.

"No," he said.
If asked what the two most politically foolish things one could do in Washington D.C. today are, my answer would be:
  1. Defend the "ethics" of House Republicans, and
  2. Needlessly confront the most charismatic man in Congress.
But for some reason, Denny Hastert has taken a position that combines both of these Herculean challenges. A gifted politician like Denny must recognize the cost of taking such a position, so why would he do something so politically inadvisable?

There is only one rational explanation: that Hastert believes that an truly independent ethics probe would be even more politically costly to him.

Kinda makes you wonder what Denny thinks an independent ethics probe would uncover.

6th Dist Dem Round Table on 91.5 FM

Your Chicago Public Radio will host a 6th District Democratic round table on today's 848 program. All three candidates are expected to debate the issues facing the district with 848 host Steve Edwards.

Click here to listen live or tune to 91.5 FM between 9 and 10 this morning.

There are comments on the debate at Illinoize.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Machinists Union Behind Christine Cegelis In 6th Dist. Race

I was going to post a little something about Christine Cegelis earning the endorsement of the International Association Machinists and Aerospace Workers, but Hiram got the jump on me:
International Association of Machinists Backs Christine Cegelis In The Congressional 6th

This is a big endorsement for Cegelis - the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is a big union with a big local presence in the 6th Congressional District. It means money, boots on the ground and access to 6,000 local members in the 700,000 strong union. Plus, with union airline employees hurting in jobs that paid a decent wage, this may be a highly motivated union membership. It certainly will cause some recalculating about Christine Cegelis' chances in the race.
Christine explained why this endorsement is so important to her and her campaign:
They work here, they live here, and they understand the issues that affect this District. This isn’t a symbolic or long-distance endorsement. It’s my friends and my neighbors and hard-working constituents who deserve better than they’ve been getting from the decision makers in Washington. I couldn’t be more proud. Or more encouraged by the faith they’ve placed in me.
This kind of local, rank and file endorsement puts motivated district residents out on the street getting out the vote. And that face to face, neighbor to neighbor communication and motivation might just edge out the bulk-rate postcards in this race.

Cross-posted at Illinoize

6th and 848

Your Chicago Public Radio will have a segment entitled "Democrats hope to turn the tide after Henry Hyde" on today's 848 program.

Click here to listen live or tune to 91.5 FM between 9 and 10 this morning

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"One of the worst days of my life."

The following is from the transcript released by Vice President Dick Cheney's office of his interview regarding his accidentally shooting and wounding a friend during a hunting trip on Sunday:
He was dressed in orange, he was dressed properly, but he was also -- there was a little bit of a gully there, so he was down a little ways before land level, although I could see the upper part of his body when -- I didn't see it at the time I shot, until after I'd fired. And the sun was directly behind him -- that affected the vision, too, I'm sure.

But the image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling. And it was, I'd have to say, one of the worst days of my life, at that moment.
"The image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind."

"It was one of the worst days of my life."

There can be no doubt that shooting another human being is one of the most traumatic events one can experience.

But I'll reserve my sympathy for the thousands of Iraq war veterans -- with their repeated tours of the worst days of their lives and the many terrible images that they will never be able to get out of their minds.

Less is More

Yesterday, your Chicago Tribune reported that between 2000 and 2005, 3,282 complaints about animal welfare licensees -- pet stores, shelters, kennels and municipal animal control centers -- were filed with the Bureau of Animal Welfare.

But when Animal Welfare needs to punish a licensee who is out of compliance with state law, regardless of the seriousness of the infraction, they only had two options: 1) revoke the license or 2) suspend the license. So the only punishment available to the Bureau is shutting down the facility -- the licensing equivalent of the death penalty.

As a result, neither option is even considered except in the most egregeous cases and as a result only three of the 3,282 cases (.09%) went to revocation or suspension hearings.

And no licenses were revoked or suspended.

State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) believes this situation calls for a smaller, but more frequently used, stick:
[Bellock] is sponsoring a bill that would give the Department of Agriculture disciplinary options less severe than closing down a facility but strong enough to prompt compliance.

Under the legislation, the department could fine licensees $200 for their first violation, $500 for a second violation within three years and $1,000 for a third violation and mandatory probation.

Bellock said she wrote the legislation after consulting the Department of Agriculture. Squibb said the department has not taken a formal position on the legislation, but said it was "viewed favorably."

"The more tools we have to do our job, the better," he said.
Congratulations to Rep. Bellcock for sponsoring what appears to be some fine, common sense legislation.

Gov. Ryan Walking?

In a shocking move, the George Ryan defense team yesterday called Susan Sarandon as a character witness.

Or something.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Postmodernism 1, Premodernism 0

Drawn! The Illustration Blog points us to this "refreshing response to all the cartoon-fuled anger in the news lately":
The story so far: Danish paper publishes cartoons that mock Muslims. An Iranian paper responds with a Holocaust cartoons contest. Now, a group of Israelis announce their own anti-Semitic cartoons contest. Amitai Sandy, the publisher of Tel-Aviv, Israel-based Dimona Comix, and founder of the contest jokes, “We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!”
But the images are waaaaaay too offensive to post here. Like so much humor, the idea is far funnier than the execution.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

S.D. Provides Lesson for 6th Dist. Dems

A couple of days ago, I asserted that Christine Cegelis appears to be the only solidly pro-choice candidate in the 6th District Congressional race. Since then, a ficticious correspondant asked me if the issue of women's reproductive rights is really a decisive issue in this race.

After all, the argument goes, neither Duckworth nor Scott is calling for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, so why is it so important to send a strong defender of a woman's right to chose -- someone like Christine Cegelis -- to Congress?

Well, to see the answer to this query, we need to take a look at an example of what happens when the Democrats stop forcefully defending women's reproductive rights. Unfortunately, such an example is readily available in the form of the late, great state of South Dakota:
A bill to ban nearly all abortions in South Dakota and a constitutional amendment to protect the unborn will be debated in separate legislative committees on Wednesday. ***

Major points in the bill are:
  • The legislature accepts the conclusions of the task force "based upon written materials, scientific studies and testimony of witnesses'' that life begins at the time of conception. That conclusion, the bill said, "is confirmed by scientific advances since the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, including the fact that each human being is totally unique immediately at fertilization.''
  • The legislature also finds that abortion should be prohibited in South Dakota to protect the rights, interests and health of the pregnant woman and the unborn child and the mother's "natural intrinsic right to a relationship with her child.''
  • No person may knowingly perform or assist an abortion. The penalty is a Class 5 felony, which carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison and $5,000 fine.
  • Contraceptives aren't prohibited if given prior to the time when a pregnancy could be determined through conventional medical tests.
  • A licensed physician can't be charged for performing a procedure to prevent the death of a pregnant woman, but the doctor must make what are called reasonable medical efforts to preserve both the woman and the unborn. The woman can't be charged, either.
The bill doesn't include an exception for victims of rape or incest.
The proposed constitutional amendment to ban abortion, sponsored by Sen. Julie Bartling (D), does not include exceptions either.

Didja notice that parenthetical letter following the name of the anti-choice amendment's sponsor? That's right, she's Democrat.

And that's what happens my Democratic friends and neighbors, when you head down the slippery slope of electing Democrats who are less than strongly pro-choice -- you eventually end up saddled with "Democrats" who sponsor constitutional amendments to end women's reproductive rights.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Imitation is the Sweetest form of flattery.

No blogger has over-relied on the work of your Chicago Sun-Times' D.C. columnist, Lynn Sweet, more than "So-Called 'Austin Mayor'".

Well, if you count Sweet-inspired belly-aching, Tom Roeser might come close.

But when I loot her reportage, I do my best to give credit to her and her S-T home.

But I guess they do things a little differently at the Moonie-owned Washington Times.

UPDATE: Ms. Sweet comments on the "quote heist" at her S-T blog.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Durbin Calls for Public Financing of Elections

The Hill says that Sen Durbin is moving for the granddaddy of all political reform:
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin and Sen. Chris Dodd, the ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee, said yesterday that they will push for public financing of federal elections.

The revelations follow public financing proposals that two senior House Democrats unveiled late last month. ***

Durbin, of Illinois, is the second-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, and Dodd, of Connecticut, is the most senior Democrat on the committee with jurisdiction over regulation of campaign finance.

Durbin told The Hill that while he supports the lobbying reform proposal endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), he believes that current campaign fundraising practices must also be addressed to tackle the problem of corruption. Specifically, Durbin said he is measuring the level of support for a public financing bill within the Senate Democratic caucus.

“I’m reaching out to the caucus to find out the level of interest,” he said.
Alas, Sen. John McCain, Republican Senator from Arizona, dismissed the proposal with a flat “no.”

Wouldn't Sen. McCain have looked much less intemperate and foolish if he had kept his communications with Illinois other Senator that short and simple?

Let's Lynch the Landlord, Man

Lynn Sweet, of your Chicago Sun-Times, reports that there is renewed GOP foot-dragging over ethics and lobbying reform legislation:
[I]n the House, the initial push by Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) for speedy change has been slowed with the election of Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who is not in a rush -- so far -- to put anything to a vote.

The fundamental role of lobbyists -- and whether Congress needs to crack down on itself when it comes to lawmakers accepting gifts and free trips and subsidized rides on private planes -- is only on the agenda because GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes in a still-unfolding scandal.
But Ms. Sweet doesn't tell us why the GOP's new leader has put the brakes on reforming the -- wait for it -- Republican Culture of Cronyism and Corruption.

For one reason why Boehner might be against cleaning house in D.C., we need to check out this article in the S-T.
House Majority Leader John Boehner rents a basement apartment from a lobbyist whose clients had an interest in legislation overseen or sponsored by Boehner, according to lobbying records.

Boehner (R-Ohio) pays $1,600 a month rent for the apartment owned by lobbyist John Milne and his wife, Debra Anderson ***

Lobbying records show that [Milne] represented Buca di Beppo and Parasole Restaurant Holdings Inc. -- both restaurant companies -- to lobby on the minimum wage, an issue handled by the Education and the Workforce Committee chaired by Boehner. The restaurant industry has opposed increases in the minimum wage.

Milne also represented the parent company, Buca Inc., to lobby for the Small Business Tax Fairness Act, which had provisions to speed up tax breaks for restaurant buildings. While the measure did not go through Boehner's committee, he was among the sponsors. The proposal for quicker depreciation is a major objective for the restaurant industry.
Although a spokesman assures us that the Congressman pays his landlord fair market value to rent the apartment, there was no word whether his landlord pays fair market value to rent the Congressman.

How Many Pro-Choice Candidates Are In The 6th Dist. Primary?

One might think that it would be easy to answer that question, but this story from the Daily Herald indicates that Christine Cegelis may be the only solidly pro-choice candidate in the race:
Neither Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, technology consultant Christine Cegelis nor college professor Lindy Scott thinks the landmark Roe v. Wade case legalizing abortion nationally should be overturned.

But Scott, who teaches at Wheaton College, calls himself “pro-life” anyway and points to his membership in a group called Democrats for Life. Scott said he “cherishes life” and would work in Congress to promote spending on day care to encourage women to not have abortions.

Cegelis said Scott is trying to have it both ways on the issue. Scott said he’s merely being “consistent with my beliefs. It doesn’t satisfy the far left or far right.” He also argues his approach would help redefine the debate in which single-issue voters break to the GOP on abortion.

Requiring parental notification when a minor wants an abortion also divides the Democrats. Cegelis opposes such a law while Scott supports it.

Duckworth’s position, though, has been elusive. She told the Daily Herald last December she opposed parental notification. Asked Friday, she initially said the idea appealed to her if a judicial bypass for cases of incest and abuse were included.

When pressed, Duckworth said, “I really don’t know.”

So it seems that, if keeping the government out of a woman's reproductive choices is important to you, there is only one choice in this race.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

GOP Budget Targets Widows and Orphans

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
President Bush's budget calls for elimination of a $255 lump-sum death payment that has been part of Social Security for more than 50 years and urges Congress to cut off monthly survivor benefits to 16- and 17-year-old high school dropouts.
"Budgets are moral documents that reflect the values and priorities of a family, church, organization, city, state, or nation" -- Jim Walis.

And this GOP budget that victimizes widows and orphans reflects the values and priorities of the Republican party.

Monday, February 06, 2006

IL-6 Dem Primary in a Nutshell

In the comments at Illinoize, "Michael in Chicago" hit the nail squarely on the head:
[W]hen Cegelis wins the primary and the Dem establishment falls in line, funding will no longer be an issue. But should Duckworth win the primary, her liabilities will still remain.
And I have received assurances from several reliable sources that the Democratic establishment will get behind whoever wins the primary.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

2 Cents on 6th Dist

I may finally have gotten all my crap in one sock, if only for the moment, so I am going to take a few a couple of minutes to address the dialog between michael in chicago and Rick Klau. (1, 2, 3)

While I'll be pulling comments out of context, I don't intend to deliberately misrepresent anything anyone says and I encourage MiC and Rick -- or anyone else -- to call me on it if I do.

Rick said:
It’s incredibly disappointing to see such pointless, counter-productive commentary being leveled. I even heard from one township chair this weekend that a precinct captain who supports Christine — a precinct captain! — vowed to tell everyone in his precinct to vote Republican if Duckworth wins the primary. Talk about missing the bigger picture!
While I don't doubt for a minute that the precinct captain said that, I also don't believe for a minute that he or she intends to follow up.

That is the sound of someone who feels that he has been stabbed in the back. Democratic grassroots workers in DuPage County have never had the rug pulled out from under them before -- hell, there's never been a Democratic rug in DuPage county before -- so they are reacting with hyperbolic statements of protest.

That threat to vote for Roskam is the sound of a Democratic foot soldier who's busted his hump through thick and thin and now sees his candidate being undermined by the DC party bosses. It is equivalent to saying, "If they let that Walmart move in and destroy our downtown businesses, I'm going to burn it to the ground." Pushing Roskam is an empty threat merely intended to express extreme displeasure.

And grassroots Dems would not have to resort to threats of voting Republican if their warnings that they might just sit on their hands during the general election carried any weight with the party bosses. But it has become increasingly clear that those party bosses -- and many Dems outside the district -- see little or no value in the work and opinions of 6th District's grassroots Democrats.

So, yes -- wildly hyped statements like the one Rick quotes are a sign of the passion and commitment the Democratic ground troops have for the Cegelis team. But using threats made out of frustration and exaspiration to demonstrate that the Cegelis supporters are less committed to a Democratic victory is something less than fair.

In addition, I find it noteworthy that the demand for Democratic party fealty is always so one-sided. I hear many stories of Cegelis zealots who won't pledge to fully support the Democratic candidate if someone else wins -- or is it the same story repeated again and again? -- but I never hear anything about the supporters of the other candidates. Specifically, will the DCCC candidate's deep-pocket financial donors pledge to support Christine if she wins?

Shouldn't those supporters commit to backing the winner no matter who it is? Or are they exempt because they don't live in the district? And what about the DCCC candidate's grassroots supporters? Why don't they tell us they will get behind the Democratic candidate in the general election, even if their candidate doesn't win? If I ever see one, I'll be sure to ask.

Rick says:
I’m puzzled by the talk of “infrastructure” when Michael points to it as Christine’s competitive advantage. Is that where all the money’s been spent? *** All the volunteer legwork in the world will not reach the casual voters who will likely make the difference. A motivated base is great, and I’d love nothing more than to see it in full force on primary day. But a motivated base alone will not win this election.
But it isn't a question of two months of Cegelis' volunteer legwork versus two months of the DCCC candidate's volunteer legwork plus an expensive media buy. If it were, I would start rolling up the tent.

Instead, this is the question that the primary will answer -- Which will win out: Last minute, high-priced media or more than two years of getting out and meeting the Democratic voters in the district?

I'm betting on Christine's months and months and months of meeting 6th District Dems, getting to know them and know about the issues that concern them -- and by that I don't just mean being able to identify the issues concerning the district, I mean knowing what problems are facing the district and having an intelligent, well thought out, locally tailored plan for addressing those problems. And why am I confident in the ultimate triumph of shoe leather over D.C. funded media?

Ironically enough, it is people like... Rick Klau.

As he said in his post, Rick knows and likes Christine Cegelis and did work on her campaign website. And why is that? It wasn't because of a piece of campaign lit that was mailed to him. And it sure wasn't because he saw one of her ads on television. It was because he has met Christine and has gotten to know her over the course of her long campaign for congress.

And Christine has gotten out to meet and know literally thousands and thousands of Democrats in the district. She has shaken their hands and listened to their stories of struggling in Bush's America and why they believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. And she looked them in the eye and personally promised to work hard for them in Washington.

While the number of people that Christine could meet in the last couple of years is fewer than the number of people who can be reached by an expensive media blitz, but we shouldn't forget the universe of voters that we are talking about.

We are not talking about everyone in the 6th District or even every voter, that race will be run in November. We are not talking about every 6th District Democrat or everyone in the district who might consider voting for a Democrat.

Nope, the only people we are talking about are the 6th District Democrats who will take the time, on a Tuesday in March, to figure out where there polling place is and then vote in the Democratic primary -- a primary where the Democratic governor is effectively running unopposed. In other words: the Hardcore 6th District Democrats.

And many, if not most, of the Hardcore 6th District Democrats have met Christine. And many, many more know someone -- someone like Rick Klau -- who has met her.

Maybe a shotgun blast of mass media is enough to undermine all that sweat and shoe leather, but I don't think so.

Well, that's my two cents for now. Maybe I'll post more later -- or at least proofread this post.

Note: After giving this the once over, I see that it may look like I am ripping on Rick. Nothing in this post should be construed as criticism of Rick Klau -- that man who should be considered a friggin' hero by anyone who believes in the importance of grassroots political activism. Period.

Update: This commentary is posted in a slightly more digestable format at the Illinoize blog.

Denny: Record Gas Prices/Profits are merely a P.R. Problem

The boys and girls at ThinkProgress have taken a look at Denny Hastert's pow-wow with Big Oil. And it turns out that the problem isn't $3.oo/gallon gas or 10 billion dollar wind-fall profits.

Nope, Denny's office says its the lack of pro-petrolium propaganda:
House Speaker Dennis Hastert held a conference call yesterday with the oil industry’s top trade association, one day after Exxon posted a record $10 billion quarterly profit, mostly thanks to high gas prices. According to his spokesman, Hastert pressed executives on lowering energy costs:

Hastert inquired about industry efforts “to create a stable supply of energy that will lower oil and home heating costs,” Hastert’s spokesman said. “What he wanted to convey to the [trade association] is making a profit is just fine … at the same time, though, American families have a bottom line to meet.”

The call, which lasted all of 10 minutes, probably didn’t make much headway. Here was Hastert’s big idea:

Hastert reiterated a request he made to ExxonMobil last year to take some profit “and use it to communicate to the American public about what [oil companies] are doing,” his spokesman said.

In other words, the solution to Americans’ anger over high gas prices is not to actually lower prices, but to get oil companies to spread more propaganda about why high prices are “just the marketplace at work.”

"Communicate to the American public about what oil companies are doing"?

Well, since what they're doing is screwing you at the pump, communicating "what oil companies are doing" is an unlikely use of the petrol industry's record profits.

And have you ever noticed how Republicans are always willing to "just let the marketplace work" when it comes to retail gasoline pricing?

But when the production end of the oil industry faces some market costs, e.g. Katrina, middle east instablity, those costs are always passed on to the tax payers.

Internalize the profits and externalize the costs. Those one-way market solutions are a hell of a thing.

"Verdict First -- Reasoning Afterwards!"

How could Kevin Drum or anyone the least bit familiar with the judicial history of Richard Posner find this at all suprising:
Richard Posner is normally considered to be a conservative judge. Am I wrong, then, to be surprised by this?
The way I approach a case as a judge — maybe you think it heresy — is first to ask myself what would be a reasonable, sensible result, as a lay person would understand it, and then, having answered that question, to ask whether that result is blocked by clear constitutional or statutory text, governing precedent, or any other conventional limitation on judicial discretion.
Don't get me wrong. As a casual, one-sentence summary of judicial philosophy, this strikes me as pretty reasonable. But is it a conservative philosophy? After all, Posner basically suggests that first he figures out what he wants to do and then he takes a look at the law to see if he can justify his personal preference — which makes it pretty obvious that his reading of the law is going to be heavily colored by his initial instinct about what decision he wants to hand down. I thought that was the kind of thing that us liberals were always being accused of doing?
Judge Posner's approach can only be fully understood if one remembers that, under U.S. law, corporations have "personhood".

Judge Posner's decisions are almost entirely consistent with the statement: "I approach a case as a judge by first asking myself 'what would a corporation view as a reasonable, sensible result', and then, having answered that question, to ask whether that result is blocked by clear constitutional or statutory text, governing precedent, or any other conventional limitation on judicial discretion."

The key is not to confuse Judge Posner's concern for "persons" with a concern for mere human beings.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of the Union Review

For in depth analysis of George Bush's State of the Union 2006 speech, we now turn to Mark Evanier:
I am not watching the State of the Union address. I'm going out to run around the neighborhood in my gorilla suit.

It's more productive.
Thank you Mr. Evanier.

UPDATE: Apparently Peter David could not find his gorilla suit:
9:34: "We didn't know about their plans until it was too late." This is the point where Jon Stewart would cut to a clip of Condi Rice saying, "I believe the title was 'Bin laden intends to attack US'."

9:35: Hillary is shaking her head thinking, "You asshole."

9:35: The Master of Accountability insists that he must have an eavesdropping program that doesn't require accountability.

9:37: He has the gall to invoke FDR and JFK? ***

9:51: A firm grounding in math and science? Here's a fast way to start: Make it illegal for kids to have pocket calculators with them during math tests. What the hell is up with that?

9:52: We don't need more advanced math courses. We need more remedial courses. We've got a population that can't do the most basic functions.

9:53: Yes, we've become a more hopeful nation: And yet, no matter how much we hope, Bush is still there.

9:54: BUSH is talking about personal responsbility? That's like Hannibal Lecter talking about becoming a vegetarian.

6th District Scuffle

Michael-in-Chicago has posted an impassioned response to Rick Klau's post regarding the IL-06 fundraising numbers.

M-i-C makes many of the same points that I planned to make but for the lack of a few spare minutes to assemble my thoughts.

Rick posts his rebuttal here.

I hope to get all my crap in the same sock and pitch in my two cents later today.

But let me just say this for now (salty language alert!):

I do have a dog in this fight and I plan do my level best to help the Cegelis team win the election, so it does bother me when folks seem to dwell on the negative aspects of the fundraising, but I have to say that I am very pleased that there is so much interest in the 6th District race.

I can certainly remember a time when describing the outcome of a 6th District election as a foregone conclusion was an understatement. The District is up for grabs, the Dems can win the seat and that is a welcome change.

And anyone who says that Christine's campaign isn't one of the primary reasons that the 6th District is in play can kiss my ass.


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