Monday, March 06, 2006

Politics: News-Gazette endorses Eisendrath, IL-6 Democratic race, Barbara Boxer on Kos, Military Approves of Right Wing News, Censors Progressives

  • Eisendrath gets endorsed by the Champaign Newspaper
  • IL-6 Democratic Race for Congress: emotions are a bit raw
  • Barbara Boxer Diaries on the Daily Kos, takes on tough questions
  • Military in Iraq censors the internet: they allow access to right wing websites (Liddy, Limbaugh, etc.) but censors progessive ones (Air America, Wonkette, Al Franken). Note: this has been updated to show that not all progessive sites have been blocked; the best conclusion is that this is a result of some sort of automatic process and not political slant.

First, a bit of exciting news. The News-Gazette (Champaign) endorsed Edwin Eisendrath for the Democratic nomination for governor! (ok, they also endorsed the right-wing nut-job Brady for governor (GOP side), but I'll overlook that!)

Four years ago, Rod Blagojevich promised to contain state spending and to oppose any income or sales tax increases. The belief was that state government would act prudently and not spend more than it took in. But it has not. Every year since he became governor, the state's spending has exceeded its revenue. In the next fiscal year, for example, revenue is projected to increase $860 million; a $1.32 billion spending increase is budgeted.

Blagojevich promised one-time revenue shots – remember the plan to sell the Thompson Building in downtown Chicago and to market naming rights to certain state facilities? – that never materialized. He promised not to raise taxes, but he quickly imposed some $700 million in fee increases on Illinois businesses. Rather than cut spending, he deferred bills to future years by paying for some state operations – including much-need Illinois State Police cruisers – with bonds. Rather than funding an expansive health care program honestly – by paying for this year's services out of this year's revenue – Blagojevich deferred Medicaid bills from one fiscal year to the next; this year, some $1.75 billion in health care spending will lapse into the next fiscal year.

In his January 2003 inaugural address, Blagojevich pledged, "No more ducking the tough choices." But last year he cowered in the face of too many bills and too little revenue. Ducking a tough choice, Blagojevich took $1 billion that had been scheduled to be paid to the state's pension systems and diverted the money into the general fund. Illinois now has the worst-funded pension systems in the United States, according to Wilshire Associates' annual analysis of state pension funds.

Blagojevich promised to be "a pro-growth governor." "I've never understood," he said in his inaugural address, "people who love jobs but hate business." Ask almost any Illinois businessperson if they believe Blagojevich has been a pro-growth governor. Better yet, look at the job growth figures. Since 2000, Illinois has lost more than 187,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs, although the number of jobs did grow last year. Meanwhile, last month a state audit found that a state agency may have overstated the number of jobs created in a recent 12-month period by as many as 78,000 positions.

The governor also pledged to "govern as a reformer." But his term in office has been filled with accusations of "pay-to-play" politics, bolstered by his $15 million campaign fund that includes millions of dollars from individuals who got state appointments or businesses that received state contracts. Federal and state prosecutors are investigating several state agencies.

The only candidate opposing Blagojevich in the March 21 primary is former Chicago alderman and former Chicago Housing Authority director Edwin Eisendrath. He has promised to restore integrity to the state's budgeting process by spending conservatively and balancing programmatic needs with fiscal realities. He would never, he said, have raided pension funds to balance the state budget. Eisendrath also pledges to reinvigorate the Illinois economy by focusing on the state's strengths in health care, education, energy, hospitality and agriculture. He said he wants to equalize state support for education and the property tax system so that children in poor districts receive as good an education as those in wealthy areas. Currently on leave from his job as a college administrator, Eisendrath says Illinois must reverse its recent trend of cutting support for higher education, and should devote more resources to tuition assistance.

Eisendrath entered the race late and has been unable to mount much of a campaign against Blagojevich. But we're convinced by his record of reform and improvement at the CHA and by his thoughtful responses on issues that he would be a vast improvement as governor over the incumbent.

There is only one Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, incumbent Pat Quinn. He is endorsed.

Now, some IL-6 Politics from the Daily Kos, where the DCCC funded choice, Tammy Duckworth (wounded Iraq vet) is taking on Christine Cegelis, who ran in 2004 and picked up 44% of the vote against Henry Hyde. Ok, Kerry picked up 47% of the vote in the same district, but Ms. Cegelis was outspent 4-1. From what I gather, I'd probably back Cegelis if I lived in that district. But Duckworth is the darling of the establishment, and even has people like Dick Durbin and John Kerry backing her. The link is worth going to as the discussion is, well, quite lively, to say the least. There appears to be some resentment on the part of the Cegelis supporters, whereas others are saying "it is ok to back Cegelis, but please do it without putting Duckworth down as she is a fellow Democrat."

Chicago Sun-Times: Where's Duckworth's Ground Support?

Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 03:46:47 PM PDT

Chicago Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet has a must-read column today (Monday) contrasting Tammy Duckworth and Christine Cegelis events in IL-6 over the weekend:

highlights after the flip

It was snowing Sunday afternoon, and cold in north suburban Roselle, so I concede upfront that the weather impacted the turnout at a "family fun festival" campaign event for Democratic congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth.

There is a saying in politics: If you want a big crowd, book a small room. The classroom in the basement of a Roselle Park District building at 555 Byrn Mawr had space to spare.

During the course of more than an hour, no more than 20 adults showed up, not counting Duckworth staff and children, and I may be overestimating the size of the crowd.

It's not that the Duckworth campaign did not try to round up folks; I was hanging around her storefront headquarters in a Lombard strip mall Saturday afternoon, and I listened as about six volunteers spent hours making calls to drum up a Sunday audience.....

...without any substantial ground operation, how can Duckworth win?...

On Saturday morning, Cegelis had quite an organized canvassing operation going on in the Des Plaines headquarters of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

About 150 volunteers were stuffing campaign kits. They had lists of voters all ready, and the volunteers were dispatched to walk precincts....

For pictures and an idea what Christine's event was like, click here:

At her rally, Cegelis explained that she began running for the seat in 2003 because her children, now in their 20s, don't have the same opportunities that she enjoyed when she came out of college and she wants to go to Washington to change that.

When people ask her why she persists in this race despite everything that's being thrown against her, Cegelis said "because you should never underestimate what a mother will do for her children." That line brought the house down!

You know, if the DCCC et al. put the kind of effort behind USMC Major Paul Hackett's bid to defeat a vicious right-wing Republican (Jean Schmidt) in his special election last August that they are putting behind Duckworth's bid to defeat a progressive Democrat in this primary, we'd already have one less Republican seat in the House. Makes you wonder what their priorities really are, doesn't it?!

I would also like to highlight Sweet's comment about about Cegelis volunteers "stuffing campaign kits." We weren't just piling on literature for Christine, we were packaging the IVI-IPO (Independent Voters of Illinois) tabloid (with recommendations for progressive candidates up and down the ballot, including Christine) with literature for State Senate candidate Dan Kotowski, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District candidate Debra Shore (only candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club), and Cook County Circuit Court candidate Martha Mills (only candidate this year rated "Highly Qualified" by the Chicago Council of Lawyers), among others. These packets were to be given to voters in Elk Grove Township along with Cegelis's own "door knocker."

The reason we did this is that Christine is part of a whole progressive, good government movement. As Cegelis said Saturday, "this thing is bigger than just me."

Isn't this what grassroots Democrats are supposed to be doing for each other?! Anyone think Duckworth and her people will lift a finger to help worthy Democratic candidates in the area?

Finally, on a local blog, IL-6 resident "Michael in Chicago" posted the following comment:

Political mercenaries for Duckworth.

This quote in Sweet's article from William Brandt, who chairs Duckworth's finance committee, has really got me angry (emphasis mine):

But without any substantial ground operation, how can Duckworth win?

Said Brandt, "We have garnered the resources sufficient to give her the troops she needs for the ground war."

Translation: Duckworth's resources (aka: money) are sufficient (aka: big money) to give (aka: buy) her the ground troops she needs. First paid petition passers. Now paid canvassers too!?

I read this as Brandt is essentially saying that Duckworth has raised enough money that she doesn't need the support of those from the district. Duckworth has enough "resources" that they can "give her the troops" to do what residents of the district are volunteering to do for Cegelis.

For a campaign representative to actually give a quote like this in a major newspaper, essentially touting campaign's ability to put paid boots on the ground to overcome local volunteers the Cegelis campaign is attracting is astounding. The arrogance is astounding.

What type of representation do we want in DC? Do we to be represented by people who use their "resources" to provide ground troops, or do we want to be represented by a candidate who has an army of willing and dedicated volunteers from the community working to elect someone from their community?

I wholeheartedly agree with Michael's comments.

--Jim in Chicago

Tags: Cegelis, Duckworth, IL-6 (all tags)

Finally, a post from Barbara Boxer to the Daily Kos. She also answered questions in the comments.

Secretary Rumsfeld, where's the plan?

Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 04:38:06 PM PDT

Over just the past 12 days, more than 500 Iraqis have been tragically killed in Shia/Sunni violence in Iraq -- in the wake of the February 22nd bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, a holy place for Shia Muslims.

Our brave men and women in uniform remain in harm's way, caught in the middle of an increasingly violent religious conflict -- and the situation is in real danger of spiraling into a full-scale civil war.

This is progress? More on the flip.

You and I and millions of Americans have demanded an exit strategy, which the Bush Administration has still refused to produce. At a minimum, we've demanded a real timetable with concrete, measurable milestones so we can measure our progress towards withdrawing American troops.

Now, with full-scale civil war a real possibility, the Bush Administration must do more -- and quickly. President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld can't continue to bury their heads in the sand about the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq. It's time for them to wake up to the facts and plan for the worst: how to get our troops out from the middle of a potential civil war.

That's why I recently wrote to Secretary Rumsfeld, urging him to produce a plan for the worst-case scenario of full-scale civil war in Iraq -- and to share that plan with Congress. And I've begun circulating an online petition, which I'll personally be delivering across the Potomac River to the Pentagon this week.

More than 31,000 Americans have already signed my petition, and I want your name on it as well before I take it to the Pentagon.

Please sign my petition to Secretary Rumsfeld now!

Given this Administration's past failure to plan for the Iraqi insurgency after the American invasion, we can't take anything for granted. It seems that the Bush Administration can only see things through rose-colored glasses. And that's clearly not acceptable with American lives on the line.

The only way we'll know that they're prepared is if they develop a plan for dealing with an Iraqi civil war -- and share that plan with the relevant committees in Congress, so the American people can be reassured that the Bush Administration is ahead of the curve, for a change.

Our brave servicemen and women deserve no less than the very best from their civilian leaders. With your help and vigilance, we'll make sure that's what they get.

Please sign my petition to Secretary Rumsfeld now -- before I deliver it to the Pentagon this week!

I'm just wrapping up some votes in the Senate, but I'll be back shortly to read through and respond to some of your comments. Thanks so much for your continued friendship and support.


UPDATE: Thanks so much for all of your feedback and support. I hope I've addressed many of your questions in the comments below. In any event, I hope to see many of you in Las Vegas at the YearlyKos convention in June.

-- BB

Finally, we have a story which I hope is false. But to be blunt, the Marine Corps officers that I remember were not the sharpest knifes in the drawer. Tough, yes. Smart....uh...perhaps in some ways. But it has been my understanding that the military has gotten more and more hard core right wing since I left; I am sorry to say this but if my daughter were to be interested in attending Annapolis (where I graduated from), I am not so sure I would encourage her.

Update: a posted at the Kos says:

Dailykos (none / 0)

not blocked

Which blogs, you ask?

Instapundit is blocked, Hugh Hewitt is not. Roger Simon is blocked, LGF is
not. Daily Kos is not blocked.

Blackfive: Blocked.
Sgt Hook: Blocked.
Chief Wiggles (who was publically praised by President Bush for Operation
Give): Blocked.

Darn, there goes your conspiracy theory, guess you can put the tinfoil back in your pocket for now.

by brady4747 on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 09:40:27 PM PDT

Responding to:

It's Not Censorship. The Military Just Really Likes Right-Wing Masturbators, Addicts and Felons

Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 07:50:13 PM PDT

A Marine source follows up on Wonkette's report that CentCom is blocking certain undesirable websites from reaching the troops:

Anyway, I had a few minutes today and thought I'd look and see what else was banned on the Marine web here. I think the results speak for themselves:

  • Wonkette - "Forbidden, this page ( is categorized as: Forum/Bulletin Boards, Politics/Opinion."
  • Bill O'Reilly ( - OK
  • Air America ( - "Forbidden, this page ( is categorized as: Internet Radio/TV, Politics/Opinion."
  • Rush Limbaugh ( - OK
  • ABC News "The Note" - OK
  • Website of the Al Franken Show ( - "Forbidden, this page ( is categorized as: Internet Radio/TV, Politics/Opinion."
  • G. Gordon Liddy Show ( - OK
  • Don & Mike Show ( - "Forbidden, this page ( is categorized as: Profanity, Entertainment/Recreation/Hobbies."

Gee, I'm sensing a pattern here.

Bill O'Reilly ( - OK

Cost himself a pile of money by making sexually explicit phone calls to a female coworker while masturbating.

Rush Limbaugh ( - OK

Oxycontin addict, used his maid as unwilling drug mule. Currently not in jail for some reason yet to be explained.

G. Gordon Liddy Show ( - OK


Quite the standards, there. Color me shocked that they're allowing Republicans to use uniformed troops as props at campaign events, in direct and unambiguous violation of military rules.

  • ::

Tags: Wonkette, censorship, military censorship, Republican censorship (all tags)

All I can say is that I hope the following discussion participant is right:

this sounds bad (4.00 / 2)

really bad, but to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they pick sites from their user logs to block and found that thousands of Marines were reading Wonkette and none were reading O'Reilly? Okay, a stretch, but I'd like to see if blogs like Instapundit and RedState aren't also blocked before I call right wing bias on the censors.

Of course, the censorship should be condemned just for being, you know, censorship, which is bad enough without being right wing censorship.

by morinao on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 07:55:13 PM PDT


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