Saturday, September 29, 2007

10th Dems bring partisan politics to new low

The small, but vocal, left wing 10th Dem organzation has long adopted the questionable tactics of the far right - lies, innuendo and gotcha - to make political points. Their latest attempt at disinformation is to paint Mark Kirk as against kids even though he was one of several republicans who broke with the party to vote for the revised SCHIP bill. The legislation expands health care to children without taking medicare funding away from seniors as in previous versions of the Bill. Instead of acknowledging Kirk's vote and his stand for children, this group of militant lefties are picketing his office! It might be more effective to work on the democrats who voted against the bill.

But then this really has nothing to do with kids health care and everything to do with painting an untrue picture of Kirk in the hopes of helping their chosen candidate in the upcoming democratic primary (Kirk is running unopposed in his primary.) Dan Seals has been pretty much a no-show lately, while Jay Footlik has been hard at work raising money, meeting voters and updating his website. I haven't heard of Dan holding any district events or seen anything new on his website since he announced his candidacy. Maybe the 10th Dems think misinformation about Kirk's votes will help Dan, but their increasingly outlandish behavior on Seal's behalf only makes me wonder - Where's Dan and what is he hiding?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Moderates in Congress Pledge to Work for Bi-Partisan Solution

From The Hill

House lawmakers release bipartisan agreement on Iraq, seek end to rhetoric
By Bob Cusack
September 26, 2007

A group of 28 House lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan agreement on Iraq Tuesday and called on their leaders to “end the political rhetoric and focus on substantive approaches to improving stability” in the Middle Eastern country.At press time, Reps. Mike Castle (R-Del.) and John Tanner (D-Tenn.) released the multi-pronged “Bipartisan Compact on Iraq Debate.” The compact was signed by 14 Democrats and 14

In a release, Castle said, “Following months of gridlock, this is the most bipartisan agreement reached on the issue of Iraq in the House of Representatives. … I am hopeful this group can carve out the middle ground that is vital to achieving stability in the region and bringing our soldiers home from Iraq.

The eight principles that the 28 members agreed to are: bipartisan dialogue on Iraq; opposition to efforts to eliminate troop funding; a defined and measurable mission; a shift in responsibility to the Iraq government; adequate rest time for U.S. troops between deployments; safe and responsible redeployment based on recommendations from military leaders; transitioning of
the U.S. mission to counterterrorism; support of Iraqi forces; and robust iplomacy in the Middle East.

Members who signed the compact are Reps. Tanner, ene Taylor (D-Miss.), Bud Cramer (D-Ala.), Marion Berry (D-Ark.), Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), Brian Baird (D-Wash.), Nick Lampson (D-Texas), Dennis Moore (D-Kan.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-S.D.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Castle,
Thomas Petri (R-Wis.), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Phil English (R-Pa.), Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), and Charles Dent (R-Pa).

If your Rep is on the list give them a call and tell them to keep up the good work.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Brave Young Men Get Well Deserved Recognition:

From the Chicago Tribune
Congressional recognition U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (left) talks about teenagers Tyler Brown (from left), Zach Demertzis and Tom Foust, who were honored this week for saving the life of a woman whose car was stuck on railroad tracks in Glenview on Sept. 8 as two Amtrak trains approached. The trains demolished the car. Kirk gave the Glenbrook South High School students flags and copies of a commendation letter to be included in the Congressional Record. (Tribune photo by José More / September 23, 2007)

Speaking for Themselves Ahmadinejad, and Coulter Say Volumes

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - United States Consititution, Bill of Rights

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

For what its worth I don't think for a minute that Iranian President Ahmadinejad was speaking to the great American middle when he spoke at Columbia yesterday. He was certainly speaking to his own people, (an interesting take on the Iranian view of Ahmadinejad appears in the NY Times.) He was probably speaking to the larger Middle East and he might even have been speaking to some factions of the American left who would rather offer excuses for Ahmadinejad's extremism than agree with the American right in seeing him as a threat.

But I hope even the extreme left and the extreme right heard what I heard here in the middle - from we need more research on the Holocaust to we have no homosexuals in Iran - the guy is wacky and deluded - and yes scary, in the way meth addicts with guns are scary. I am ok with Columbia for letting the guy hoist himself on his own petard. We upheld one of the basic principles of a civilized world and the world now gets to judge Ahmadinejad by his own uncensored speech.

I feel the same way about the Daily Kos, Ann Coulter and the rest of the gang at the extreme edges. They should be allowed and even encouraged to tell us what they think because it lets the rest of us know just how extreme and unreasonable they are. General Betrayus? - an obscene comment about an acting general - but has the right to say it. Ms. Coulter gets to make tasteless jokes about John Edward's masculinity and some of the partisan blogs here on the north shore get to spin and spew hate and vilify anyone who doesn't dig their dogma. But that's ok. They get to say what they think and we get to judge them based on their own words.

The braying of the lunatic fringe can get your blood boiling, can frustrate, outrage and sometimes even entertain. Despite the shouting at the extremes it is the quiet, reasonable voices of the middle that must be heard.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The center is finally coming together...

From Today's The Hill

It can be lonely as a centrist in the highly partisan House of Representatives. But as the Iraq debate has become increasingly polarized, House leaders have turned their undivided attention to their party’s black sheep — who could hold the balance of power over congressional action on the war.

On Monday night, a week after Gen. David Petraeus’s report, Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) held a listening session with a group of centrist GOP lawmakers who have expressed concern over the continued political deterioration in Iraq. Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), who attended the meeting, described “quite a bit of movement in the middle.” He added: “Every vote we take on the war is extremely polarizing.”

In an attempt to quell some of the continued partisan rancor, Castle and Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) have been collecting signatures of like-minded lawmakers on a bipartisan agreement based on the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations. Castle declined to give specifics, saying that the deal’s language and the group’s membership have not been finalized.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has said he will meet with the bipartisan centrist bloc, although a meeting has not yet been scheduled.

“People want to win, but they are very frustrated and tired,” Capito said when asked what she had heard from her constituents. “The Petraeus report gave some people in the middle ground [insight] … and that’s a good thing.”

As the fringe becomes more polarizing

Two quotes from dems on the war in Iraq as quoted in this sunday's Tribune:

Rep. Christopher Carney, (D-PA) - "Certainly, the far left of my party is unhappy with my votes because I vote very similarly to Mr. Kirk, but I'm taking the votes I think need to be made for the nation's security."

10th Dem Primary Candidate Dan Seals - "Mark Kirk has been an architect, supporter and cheerleader over the last six years of the worst foreign policy debacle in a generation. The fact is we deserve elected officials with the courage and judgment to make America safer, not continue to support a disaster."

and one from Kirk:

Rep Mark Kirk, (R-IL) - "It's a great reality check for me because this allows me to sort of be very in touch with the 2 million Americans who are in uniform. Sometimes you can sense a real disconnect between Americans who wear the uniform and everybody else."

Carney and Kirk currently serve in both the armed forces reserves and in congress, and I would argue that both have the kind of courage and judgement needed to make hard decisions and not simply toss allegations without solutions. Kirk attended the meeting mentioned above and has been a leader of efforts to reach a bipartisan agreement. Seals has only indicated a willingness to engage in partisan electioneering on the backs of our armed forces.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Moderates may hold solution to Iraq war

I'll admit I enjoy a good political debate and even the occaisional down and dirty political fight. But the entrenched partisanship and increasingly ugly rhetoric surrounding the issue of the war in Iraq is going way out of bounds.

The latest troubling turn is the complete vilification in the blogosphere of Illinois Reps Dan Lipinski (D) and Mark Kirk (R) for their recent Chicago Tonight appearance where they discussed the need for a bipartisan effort to develop a solution for the Iraq War.

I for one think we should never have gotten into the mess, and I think everyone agrees that there were big problems with the way the war has been handled. But we are there. We helped make the mess so we have to help clean it up. We have a commitment to the people of Iraq as well as to the men and women in our military to figure out the best way to proceed.

The republican congress couldn't fix it and despite a supposed mandate the democratic congress can't seem to make the situation any better. Middle america is getting tired of the rantings of both the right and the left. Tired of the finger pointing, the expectations of failure from the left and the rose-colored progress reports of the right, mostly we are exhausted by the need to put a political spin on every aspect of this war.

We should expect moderates in congress from both sides of the aisle to get together and figure this mess out. I don't know if the Iraq study group plan Lipinski and Kirk are supporting is the way to go - but I do know that getting moderates talking about real solutions is the only chance we have to get out of this mess. Lipinski and Kirk may get blasted from the fringes - but here in the middle I say good start, keep it up and god-speed.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Marine calls for an end to partisan politics in war discussions

This OpEd in today's USA today makes a lot of sense. As the daughter of a marine and the aunt of a marine who served two tours in Iraq I appreciate the writer's service and his position:

Troops political pawn in Iraq war
By Marco Martinez

You can tell a lot about a nation by whom it trusts.

I am a former gang member-turned-Marine, not a statistician. But when I read that a Pew Research Center survey recently found that 76% of Republicans "have confidence" in the U.S. military to give an accurate picture of the war vs. only 36% of Democrats, the long-range consequences of a divided country became clear: We've become a nation that sees its soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as political pawns, not patriots. Like thousands of combat veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I am now home, working and attending college. Yet it is the pre-presidential election climate I see stateside that concerns me most for my brothers and sisters in arms.

Gen. David Petraeus, who has faced Herculean challenges of mortal consequence, will issue his report on progress in Iraq next week. Regardless of what he reports, it's worth reminding the American people — and all politicians in Washington — that the troops must not become the rope in a political tug of war on Capitol Hill.

When I hear members of Congress, such as House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., say that progress with the surge might create a "real big problem for us" in moving toward withdrawal, I think back to the hellish fighting my fellow Marines and I endured — and I feel ashamed that any American would make such a seemingly reckless political calculation. Knowing that a politician might view success in Iraq as an electoral problem is political zealotry in the extreme. Does Clyburn's remark, though his alone, reflect a growing anxiety among Democrats that success in Iraq might complicate plans for ending the war?

Political dissent is healthy, especially when the issue is as critical as the Iraq war. But so is human decency. When an anti-war protester at the college I attend found out I was an Iraq veteran, she called me "a disgusting human being." I felt sorry for her, so blinded by politics that she had abandoned basic civility. Thankfully, she doesn't represent most Americans who oppose the war. But I worry about those still on the battlefield, and the individuals they will face when they return to a nation embroiled in election politics.

Many combat veterans, like me, have the luxury of watching the political debates from the safety of America. Not true for the 190,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Undermining the efforts of those whom one claims to support is the height of hubris.
Is it too much to ask that politicians view U.S. progress in Iraq as positive and not negative? I pray not.

Marco Martinez, a recipient of the Navy Cross, is author of the forthcoming book Hard Corps: From Gangster to Marine Hero.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Making Book - Early Political Predictions

It's way to early to be doing this but I thought this might stir some comments while I'm betting on college football and roulette this weekend in Vegas.

What do you think are the sure things, long shots and best bet to beat the odds in the '08 election? Here are mine:

Sure thing: Obama wins Illinois but Hillary is the nominee.
Long shot: Republicans gain control in Springfield.
Best bet to beat the odds: Footlik wins the 10th CD democratic primary.

Have fun - I'll be putting it all on black 22!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

AAEI ads are false according to is a non-partisan group that reports on false advertising by politicians. They recently called out AAEI for telling falsehoods - most notably the comment echoed by Jan Schakowsky in the anit-war, anti-Kirk political rally sponsored by AAEI and Chicago Union SEIU last week. The full text of FactChecks analysis can be found here. Excerpts include:

A liberal coalition calling itself Americans Against Escalation in Iraq is running a TV ad that says the U.S. will be in Iraq for a decade to come and that the military draft will be reinstated. But the ad supports those conclusions by twisting the words of two senior generals. The ad falsely claims that Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said that the U.S. will "have to stay there for 10 more" years. Petraeus didn't exactly say that. He said insurgencies tend to last that long and hinted that some U.S. forces may have to stay there for a long time.

The ad says flatly that the draft will have to be reinstated should the U.S. remain in Iraq for a decade. But it supports its conclusion with a selective quote from Bush's war czar, who said no such thing. Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute actually called reimposing the draft "a major policy shift" that isn't currently needed. And the Pentagon said afterward that "no one in the Pentagon is considering a return to a military draft."

Americans AgainstEscalation in Iraq is a coalition composed of several liberal groups, including, the Service Employees International Union and the CenterforAmerican Progress, which is headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. The coalition announced Aug. 17 that it would run four ads as part of a broader effort to "turn up the heat on members of Congress who have opposed setting a timeline to bring a safe and responsible end to the war in Iraq."

The ad also shows a doctored headline. It cites The Hill, a Washington, D.C., newspaper, as saying in an Aug. 10 headline, "Petraeus hints at decade-long Iraq presence." But the actual headline says, "Rep. Schakowsky: Petraeus hints at decade-long Iraq presence." The problem here is that the words in the headline don't represent the conclusions of the newspaper; they are the words of congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who is a co-founder of the House Out of Iraq Caucus, an ally of the coalition running the ads.

My bet is that this is the same shady national outfit, not some home-grown grass-roots effort, that is responsible for last week's political rally masguarading as a discussion on the war in Iraq.
The election is still more than a year away and I am tired of the lies already!