The Grand Old Partisan of Illinois

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Halvorson's spokesman (accidentally) admits that she is part of the problem in Springfield

Yesterday’s Politico story (ht to Rich Miller) about the race in the 11th District contains this stunning revelation:
“She hasn’t talked to [Governor Blagojevich] in at least a year. She’s been invited to meetings and just hasn’t gone,” said Halvorson spokesman Brian Doory. “They don’t really have anything to discuss.”
Really?!? The Senate Majority Leader doesn’t really have anything to discuss with the Governor? Maybe that explains why absolutely nothing constructive has been accomplished in Springfield lately.

Nice move, Doory. You’ve attempted to distance your boss from an unpopular figure by admitting that she’s shirking what is a fundamental component of her current position.

I don't know about you, but if I was trying to get a promotion, I wouldn't tell my boss that the reason I shouldn't be held responsible for the failures of my current work team is because I haven't even spoken to any of them in over a year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Un-Planned Parental-consent debate in Aurora

For years, pro-life advocates have argued in favor of tougher parental notification and consent laws by pointing out that it’s ridiculous for a teenage girl to need her parent’s consent to get her ears pierced or her tonsils removed, but not if she is having the highly invasive ‘medical procedure’ that is abortion. And for years, pro-choice advocates have dismissed that line of argument as silly, pointing out the obvious (and, for the purpose of their arguement, ironic) truth that abortion is hardly comparable to ‘ordinary’ medical procedures.

But, in the course of arguing that there was no reason to disclose to Aurora residents that the "medical building" being constructed by Gemini Development Corp. was really a Planned Parenthood clinic, pro-choice advocated have apparently changed their tune:

Planned Parenthood leaders have said they followed all developer guidelines -- a point on which city leaders agree -- and that the city zones for medical buildings and not for "podiatrists, general internists and plastic surgery."

Daily Herald, August 25, 2007

Since pro-choice advocates, including Planned Parenthood, have long argued - for reasons that make their operations sound more like “social services” than purely “medical” care - that abortion should not subject to standard parental consent requirements, it seems disingenuous for them to now suggest that they are merely performing “medical” services on par with podiatry or internal medicine.

Either Gemini Development Corp's application to develop a “medical building” was based on insufficient, if not downright misleading, information (in which case, the city should deny them their final occupancy permit), or Planned Parenthood is giving away the pro-choice arguement against parental consent laws. After all, if what they are doing is no different than foot surgery, than why should they not held to standard parental consent regulations.

Also posted, with comments, at Illinoize

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Friday, July 06, 2007

An early analysis of the 14 District GOP Primary

From Eric Krol, in today’s Daily Herald:

A Hastert retirement would set up a likely Republican primary pitting Oberweis against Aurora state Sen. Chris Lauzen. The two conservatives would battle it out for their party’s base of support

If that's what the field looks like heading into Februrary, my prediction is that Lauzen wins.

In the 2006 Republican primary, Kane County represented 58% of the total votes in the 14th District. Kendall represented 17%. Obviously those two counties, Kane in particular, are must wins for the nomination. Oberweis' poorest showing in Kane was in 2004 (29%, compared to 56% and 40% in ’02 and ’06, respectively) when the race included a State Senator from Kane (Rauschenberger). I think the same dynamic will play out in ’08, and Lauzen will beat Oberweis in Kane.

In Kendall, Lauzen already has a base (his district includes part of the county), while Oberweis has seen his number go down from 61% in ’02 to 42% and 37% in ’06 and ’04, respectively, even though no “favorite son” was in the picture in the later two cycles. Once again, I predict a Lauzen win in Kendall. Lauzen also won most of the western counties in the district when he ran for Comptroller in '98.

If Oberweis is willing to set his sights lower than Governor and U.S. Senator in order to get elected, maybe he should skip Congress and run for Lauzen's State Senate seat.

Also posted at Illinoize

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Jesse Jackson, Jr. is an idiot

There’s really no other way to put it.

Perhaps the esteemed Congressman should sit down and read the Constitution before running to the nearest TV camera and declaring that the President should be impeached for committing “very serious crimes” against it.

Article II, Section 2 very clearly states that the President “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.”

It doesn’t take a law degree from the University of Illinois to understand that exercising an explicitly proscribed power is not a crime against the Constitution. So, whether you think “Scooter” should be hung from the nearest yardarm or given a ticker-tape parade, you cannot deny that President Bush was well within his Constitutional authority to commute his sentence.

Unless, of course, you are an idiot.

Also posted at Illinoize

Monday, May 14, 2007

Obama and the Illinois Guard

Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax intern, Paul Richardson, linked to an AP story (via the Grand Island, NE Independent) on the concerns of several Governors regarding their states' National Guard preparedness. For good measure, the AP also threw in a quote from Democratic Senator Barack Obama, who, they report, recently wrote a letter to President Bush regarding this issue.

Now, what AP fails to mention is that none of these Governors (including our very own Rod Blagojevich) ever denied the consent required by the Armed Forces Reserve Act of 1952 for federal mobilization and deployment of their states' guard units. Perhaps someone should remind Senator Obama that his fellow Chicago Democrat is, thus, at least partially responsible for the National Guard's equipment being “stretched thin in his home state of Illinois.”

If the Senator is really concerned about the readiness of our Guard - and not just scoring political points with his party's base - he would be writing letters to the Governor as well as the President.

Want to take bets as to whether or not he's doing that?

Also posted, with comments, at Illinoize

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Oberweis and the 14th

I am starting a new job next week that will leave me with little to no time to blog, and I’ve decided to use this, my last post, as a counterpoint to my fellow partisan, Charlie Johnson, regarding the ‘virtues’ of Jim Oberweis as a candidate to replace Denny Hastert in the 14th.

First off, let me say that unlike Charlie, I feel no amount of sympathy for Oberweis. His “political mistakes” were not merely the early foibles of a “good, if often frustrated, politician.” They were, more often than not, bitter, negative and highly aggressive (and not to mention expensive) attacks that back-fired. And rather than demonstrating a “learning curve,” his series of unsuccessful campaigns revealed him to be a man looking for a powerful office (any office), not a chance to serve his fellow citizens.

While Oberweis may have had a claim to a “team player” reputation after 2004, he ruined it in 2006. Writing a check and smiling at the unity breakfast did nothing to undo millions of dollars of extremely negative ads smearing the eventual nominee. I’m certainly not saying that Judy would have won if not for Oberweis, but, on balance, what he did to hurt her (and thus the party) far outweighed what he did to “help” after the primary.

Strictly speaking, Charlie is right to say that the 14th district race could play to “all of his strengths and few of his weaknesses.” Unfortunately, Charlie fails to recognize that the few weaknesses that will be exposed are significantly more important than any financial or tactical advantage. Most important, as I alluded to above, is that while Obwerweis was getting his statewide “learning curve” on, Schmitz, Lauzen (and LaVia) were all working hard, serving large constituencies within the 14th district. You’d think that after his multi-million dollar losses to Durkin and Topinka, he would have learned that primary election voters value ‘working your way up' over walking around with a bag of money, hunting or an office to hold.

Also posted, with comments, at Illinoize

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Illinois: The Land of Obama

There's a a really great story over at Capitol Fax about the Governor using state letter-head to explicitly “support Senator Obama in his bid for the Presidency.” I certainly agree with Rich that this is troublesome...but perhaps not nearly as troublesome as an issue the Governor brought up while trying to defend himself. Rich says that Blagojevich’s office pointed “to the fact that the guv urged the General Assembly to pass a bill moving the ‘08 primary.” Let’s explore that point for a moment.

The Governor, as well as the Speaker, have both explicitly discussed this bill in terms of benefiting Obama. Madigan admitted that by introducing the bill, it was “rather apparent that I'm trying to help his candidacy,” and the press release from the Governor’s office in question above urges the legislature to pass the early primary bill in order to “send an early message in support of Senator Obama.” It seems to me that passage of this bill would be tantamount to a political endorsement of Obama by the Government of the State of Illinois.

Perhaps the Governor should wait until after the bill passes, then he can send out all the letters in support of Obama he wants under state letter-head. Then he can say that he's just promoting an official state program.

Also posted, with comments, at Illinoize

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why I don't trust Obama

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in an interview with Rockford Register-Star columist Aaron Chambers:

“I can’t judge where there have been improprieties and where there haven’t been because I haven’t been intimately involved in what’s been happening in state and local politics over the past couple years.”

Excuse me, but doesn't endorsing and cutting commericals for a State Treasurer candidate count as involvement? Doesn't endorsing and headlining rallies for a County Board President candidate count as involvement? He did both within "the past couple of years." What about recent his endorsement of the Mayor's bid for re-election - isn't that involvement?

And what does it say about Obama that he would endorse someone for re-election despite being unable to judge whether or not they have been involved in any improprieties?

If this is Obama's idea of bold, daring new leadership, then the Senator seems poised to disappoint a lot of people.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What's in a Name?

The Sun-Times reports that Governor Blagojevich signed a bill “requiring candidates who have changed their names within three years before running to have a ‘formerly known as’ under their name [on the ballot].”

It seems that a number of candidates for judicial offices in Cook County have changed their name to sound Irish, because, “candidates with Irish names…tend to sweep judicial elections.” Well now, thanks to a bill signed by the Governor and sponsored by fellow Illinoize blogger State Rep. John Fritchey, only truly Irish candidates get the benefit of such ridiculously thoughtless voting habits.

Seriously, isn’t the fact that voters are selecting judges based on ethnicity to begin with a much more disconcerting issue? Granted, I’m not sure much can be done about that. In a democracy, people are certainly free to base their vote on whatever superficial criteria they want. But how far should the state go to help them do so? Should we start including the race or religious affiliation of a candidate after their name on the ballot, in case someone wants to base their vote on that?

Also posted, with comments (and a debate with Rep. Fritchey), at Illinoize

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hastert Raises Cash and Questions with Recent Mailings

A story in today’s Roll Call (subscription required) reports that former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), who is expected to retire before the 2008 election, recently sent out a mailer soliciting funds for his campaign committee. The story goes on to explore the various reasons why “the Coach” may be loading up his coffers, and the circumstances under which he may pull the trigger on retirement

Hastert is clearly positioning himself to become a power broker in both his 14th District and throughout the state. In terms of his retirement, Roll Call notes that there are concerns a special election could lead to a free-for-all, and encourage a strong Democratic candidate (not mentioned by name, but presumably Aurora State Rep. Linda Chapa-LaVia) to enter a race that would otherwise require them to risk their current positions. I think they are right, and thus my original prediction that Hastert would force a special election was based on faulty and incomplete reasoning. In regards to the Republican nomination, they speculate that Hastert could follow the example of Illinois Democrats Bill Lipinski and Lane Evans, and run through the primary only to drop out and have his organization push for his chosen successor (reportedly Batavia Republican State Rep. Tim Schmitz).

As someone who was critical of Lipinski and Evans, I’d be very disappointed to see Hastert do the same, especially when there is an effective but far less objectionable alternative available. As Roll Call reminds us, "campaign finance laws allow Hastert to give unlimited soft-money donations on the state and local level in Illinois from his campaign committee." I think it's more likely that he will use his war chest to help Schmitz in a primary by shifting funds to local and state Republican office-holders who agree to endorse him.

Coincidently, such moves could also add some muscle to Hastert’s endorsement of Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney if the Illinois primary is moved up.

Also posted, with comments, at Illinoize

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hey, Britney and Lindsay turned out alright, didn't they?

From the The Wall Street Journal’s consistenly spot-on Best of the Web, January 19, 2007:

They're Called Boys
"Some Say It's OK for Girls to Go Wild"--headline,, Jan. 17

Actually, many of them are called 'sex offenders.'

Possessing, buying, selling and distributing sexually suggestive images of minors are all criminal offenses under state and federal law. But according to a report by Sheila Marikar of ABC News, the creation of such images by minors themselves is a positive thing:

Your 14-year-old daughter shows up on MySpace in a bikini. Her 13-year-old friend is wearing a miniskirt that might make Britney Spears blush. Time to panic? Not necessarily. [...]

While young women may express their sexuality more overtly than they have in the past, for the most part, their behavior isn't cause for alarm. It's a necessary step in growing up.

Much of Marikar’s story is based on an interview with LynNell Hancock, who thinks that this phenomenon is merely the latest chapter in the long history of adolescent rebellion, and that parents should simply “relax.” Who is Hancock, you might ask? A respected child welfare counselor or developmental psychologist? Nope, she’s a Columbia University journalism professor who “covers the youth beat.”

Okay, let’s pretend that Professor Hancock’s opinions are relevant enough to discuss and….discuss.


"Adults think that kids take everything literally — if [teens] pose in a bikini, they're suddenly sexually active. It's odd that adults who are supposed to think more conceptually are thinking so concretely."

Huh? She think it’s odd that parents are thinking about the possible consequences while their children do not? (Someone, please tell me she doesn't have tenure!) Granted, it's possible that Hancock is right to suggest that there is no connection between this phenomenon and a rise in teenage sexual activity. Since the only study cited by Marikar's report was done before the launching of YouTube and MySpace, it can hardly be used to validate either parents' concerns or the professor's dismissals. Hancock’s Columbia colleague, John Broughton, a professor of psychology and education, isn’t much help. He says:

"What adults don't get is that MySpace and YouTube are very complex and really quite innovative media that have a whole set of conventions of their own, which are not really meant very seriously and not taken very seriously. It's not really as personal as it seems." (emphasis added)

No, I think adults do "get" it, professor. It’s not personal. It’s about objectification. And any decent psychologist should know how destructive a force that is, particularly in the realm of sexuality. To that end, Jaana Juvonen of UCLA raises some very interesting questions:

"It's the kind of dialogue that's missing from our schools at the moment: Have you thought about what that kind of picture does to people? What is the likely reaction for people who see that picture?"

I'd suggest that this dialogue not be limited to the classroom. Any organization that has contact with youth - including families - should find a way to address this issue. We shouldn't wait for girls to turn into statistics by ignoring this legitimately alarming phenomenon.

Friday, January 05, 2007

It appears history repeated itself

Fred Barnes, speaking on Special Report with Brit Hume, December 14, 2006 (brought to my attention by commenter “District 14” on my December 22nd post to show how Republicans were trying to exaggerate and exploit the seriousness of Johnson's condition):

There is a long history of the doctors reports about politicians from the president on down about doctor's reports being untrue. You really have to be wary of them... I'm not saying we -- anybody has told an untruth about Senator Johnson, but this does happen."

From Roll Call, January 4, 2007

The office of Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) disclosed late Wednesday that the veteran lawmaker has been unable to breathe regularly on his own since emergency brain surgery was conducted last month to fix a brain hemorrhage, an indication that his condition has been significantly more delicate than previously acknowledged

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The not-necessarily-final, not-necessarily-fatal role of a presidential candidate

Does it matter that Barack Obama did drugs when he was in high school and college?

That’s the question that will (if not already has) come to dominate Obamamania, thanks to a Washington Post story that ran yesterday.

This, and the questions that naturally follow, are difficult to answer, and inevitably exposes almost anyone who gets into the debate to charges of hypocrisy. How can Republicans say it mattered while supporting a President who, by his own refusal to talk about it, has ostensibly acknowledged that he did drugs in his youth, as well? Doesn't the fact that Obama openly acknowledges it make it less scandalous? Does something that a person did 20+ years ago really matter today?

I’ll take the last question first. And the answer is: it depends. To me, the question can’t be generalized. Does it matter if you stole a candy bar when you were kid? If you did pot as a teen, or coke in college? What if you committed negligent homicide as a 37 year old Senator? At what age, and at what level of criminality, do you draw the line for dismissible “youthful indiscretions?”

The question of how – or if – you talk about it once you enter public life is far more important, and even more difficult. Seemingly every presidential candidate since 1992 has dealt with it in their own way. Bill Clinton didn’t inhale, and he was rightfully mocked for trying to have it both ways. George W. Bush wouldn’t discuss his youth at all, except to say that he had found redemption through Christ and changed his ways, and has been criticized for being dishonest and hypocritical. Barack Obama wrote in his memoirs that he did drugs, and then joked with Jay Leno that inhaling was “the whole point” (and, yes, made a caveat along the lines of “don’t try this at home, kids”). Will Obama’s handling of this delicate subject be as ultimately successful as that of Bush and Clinton?

My guess is that the “middle America” voters Obama is courting (and needs to win) are more like Bush. They think that even if parents did drugs in their youth, they shouldn’t tell their kids because they might get the impression that they, too can experiment and still turn out okay in the end. America is not like Illinois, where the partisan scales have tipped so far that a Democrat can successfully campaign as a champion of education while telling students how they need only be C-students to become Governor. Ridiculous as it was, there’s a reason Bill Clinton told us that he “didn’t inhale.”

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rest in Peace, President Gerald R. Ford

Gerald Ford is often remembered for his distinction as the nation's only "unelected" President. I will always remember him for another: he is the only President to have been an Eagle Scout. As a fellow Eagle myself, as well as a former executive with the Boy Scouts of America, I have tremendous respect for the young men who attain this award. As an adult Ford was honored by the BSA with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award for bringing the Scout's "servant leader" attitude to the halls of government, always putting the needs and interests of country over those of self. His integrity and decency are an inspiration to anyone who believes that politics can and should be about doing the right thing, even when it's not the popular thing.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Durbin’s Schiavo/Johnson Strawman

From today's Daily Herald:

It was ironic that some of the same people that were arguing for Terri Schiavo after 15 years in a somewhat vegetative state should live on, were pronouncing Tim Johnson a goner after 15 hours and brain surgery.”

Yes, that would be ironic, if only it were true.

I challenge Mr. Durbin (or his apologists) to cite one prominent advocate for continuing Ms. Schiavo’s life-support who 'pronounced' that Mr. Johnson would likely either die or be unable to return to the Senate. (Of course, I acknowledge that some did join in the rather widespread speculation of what might happen if that were to occur.)

Mr. Durbin is right to say that the Schiavo episode “had more to do with politics than it did with medicine.” But Mr. Durbin’s transparent attempt to drum up indignation over some imaginary hypocrites on the other side of the aisle doesn't make him much better. To whatever extent Congressional Republican leaders are guilty of having exploited Ms. Schiavo’s situation for their partisan gain, Mr. Durbin is equally guilty of exploiting Mr. Johnson’s for his.