Monday, November 27, 2006

Durbin: Run, Barack, Run!

From Sen. Dick Durbin:
I want to see Barack run for President in 2008. I believe that he is the right man to lead our country at a time of such turmoil around the globe, bringing Americans together at a time in our nation's history when we need unity more than ever.

Barack has said publicly that he is considering a run, and part of his consideration will doubtlessly include measuring the level of his support from Democrats across the country. So let's show him how strong that support is.
You can sign Sen. Durbin's petition push Sen. Obama into the race here.

Death and Taxes Inflation

"Every single day you work without a raise, you're paid an increasingly smaller amount of money in exchange for an increasingly larger portion of your remaining life." -- The Alias Kid aka Kid Alias

Think Progress has taken a look at the proposed increase in the Illinois' minimum wage:
On Nov. 16, the Illinois State Senate approved a $1 increase in the state minimum wage, putting it at $7.50 an hour. The proposal would go into effect on July 1, and would increase every year to account for inflation.

Conservative lawmakers objected to the measure, saying a minimum wage increase would come “at the expense of Illinois jobs” and put “our business climate in jeopardy with the surrounding states when we increase the cost of doing business.”

But a March 2006 report by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that increasing the minimum wage actually helps job growth:

[T]his report examined recent state-by-state trends for small businesses employing fewer than 50 workers and found that employment and payrolls in small businesses grew faster in the states with minimum wages above the federal level than in the remaining states where the $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage prevailed.

This report also found that total job growth was faster in the higher minimum wage states. Faster job growth also occurred in the retail trade sector, the sector of the economy employing the most workers at low wages, in the higher minimum wage states.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, “Illinois’ minimum wage last was raised in 2003 to $6.50 an hour. At that level, a mother working full-time to support her child makes $13,520 a year, barely above the federal poverty line.”

It’s now up to the Illinois State House to bring the minimum wage legislation to the floor for a vote. An increase would mean a direct raise next year for 308,000 people in Illinois.

Think Progress, Kid Alias and I want you to Call Your Rep and ask to have this modest -- $7.50/hr X 40 hrs/wk X 52 wks/yr = $15,600/year -- minimum wage bill brought to the floor for a vote.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"Reform-Minded Leaders"?

From your Chicago Tribune:
The conservative, free-market "Chicago School" of economics lost its leading thinker Thursday with the death of Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman at age 94.

For decades, Friedman tirelessly promoted his belief that private competition works better than government mandates, influencing the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations as well as reform-minded leaders from Chile to China.
The Chilean "reform-minded leader" to which the Tribune's Greg Burns refers is General Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte.

Gen. Pincochet lead the military junta that ended South America's oldest democracy via a violent coup deposing the nation's democratically elected President Slavador Allende. During Gen. Pinochet's war on his nation's elected government, the army surrounded the presidential palace to prevent any escape -- while the air force bombed it. President Allende died from a gunshot wound before he could be captured.

Gen. Pinoche ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, during which his regime was responsible for tens of thousands of human rights violations and murders. Those murdered during Pinochet's rule were said to have "been disappeared."

It is unknown exactly how many Chileans were killed by government and military forces during Gen. Pinoche's reign, but The National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation Report listed 2,095 deaths and 1,102 "disappearances" -- with the vast majority of victims coming from Gen. Pinochet's political opposition.

Pinochet's police and military also routinely used torture against dissidents. The National Commission on Political Prisoners and Torture determined that no less than 28,000 people were abused by the regime.

During his military dictatorship, Gen. Pinochet launched an era of economic libertarianism and privatization. To formulate his economic policy, Gen. Pinochet relied on the so-called "Chicago Boys," who were economists trained at the University of Chicago and heavily influenced by the monetarist policies of Milton Friedman. Gen. Pinochet's "shock treatment" policies -- abolition of the minimum wage, trade union rights, the privatization of the pension system, state industries, and banks, and slashing of taxes on income and profits -- were dubbed "The Miracle of Chile" by Milton Friedman.

But what did the Pinochet/Friedman "Chilean Miracle" look like?

In 1973, prior to the implementation of Friedman's policies, Chilean unemployment was only 4.3%. Following ten years of Gen. Pinochet's rule in 1983, unemployment had rocketed to 22% and wages adjusted for inflation declined by more than 40%. In 1970, 20% of Chile's population lived in poverty. By1990, the last year of Gen. Pinochet's Friedman-style economics, poverty had doubled to 40%.

With regard to bare necessities, in 1970, the daily diet of the poorest 40 percent of the Chilean population contained 2,019 calories. By 1980 this had plunged to 1,751. In addition, the percentage of Chileans without adequate housing jumped from 27 to 40 percent between 1972 and 1988.

And how were things going on the other side of the tracks? In 1970, the richest one-fifth of the population controlled 45% of the wealth compared to 7.6% for the poorest one-fifth. In 1989, the wealth controlled by the richest one-fifth jumped to 55% of the wealth while the wealth controlled by the poorest one-fifth fell to just 4.4%.

Of course we are all familiar with China's "reform-minded leaders".

Gen. Pinochet offered Milton Friedman the opportunity to use the nation of Chile as the living laboratory for his economic experiments and the Chilean people as his guinea pigs. And Milton Friedman was so eager to conduct his economic experiments on the human beings of a real nation that he worked hand-in-glove with one of this hemisphere's worst human rights abusers and legitimized the monster who destroyed his nation's democracy.

These are just some things we should keep in mind when considering the legacy of Milton Freedman. And that we should keep in mind if, during a future election campaign, the Tribune endorses a "reform-minded leader."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

An Accounting of the 6th District Primary's Costs

Despite its zombie-like return in the Tribune's hagiography of Rahm Emanuel, the Cegelis campaign's fundraising issues have been overblown and deliberately misunderstood.

Although I've addressed the money issue repeatedly and at length before, let's review the facts:

First, Christine's campaign time and again met the fundraising benchmarks set by Emanuel's DCCC. Fundraising goals that the campaign was assured would earn them establishment support -- only to see Dems Inc. change their story and increase their demands when her supporters, locally and on the Internet, met the DCCC fundraising challenges. The ability to raise money only became an issue when Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Durbin began openly courting potential primary challengers.

There were definitely money problems though. As Larry the Archpundit has thoroughly documented, a lot of money was wasted on various highly-compensated campaign "professionals" who added little or no value to Christine's grassroots campaign. But I must point out, that waste took place during Cegelis Team 1.5 ("Team 1.5").

Team 1.5 was the campaign crew that was mostly held over from Christine's initial insurgent run against Henry Hyde. They were still new to the game and, unfortunately, too damn naive. Team 1.5 were told by Dems Inc. that they would have to not only have to raise a hell of a lot of money -- see above -- but would have to run "a professional organization" staffed by "campaign professionals".

Yes, the very campaign "professionals" who bled Team 1.5 dry were recommended to the campaign by the same DC Dems who later lambasted the campaign for that waste.

After it became impossible to ignore the fact that the Dems Inc. folks were somewhat less than honest with deliberately undermining the campaign, Team 2.0 -- a crew of Kucinich veterans and grassroots locals -- was brought aboard, the dead-weight "professionals" were ejected and the bleeding was stopped. But the money was already gone and the campaign was crippled from that point forward.

So what's my point?

First, that fundraising was not a problem for the Cegelis campaign until it was deliberately impeded by the party leaders' vocal search for an alternative candidate. And second, that the wasteful flow of money out -- for which the campaign was rightfully beaten about the head and shoulders -- was due to its following the "professional" advice of "professionals" recommended by Dems Inc leadership. Both of which served to undermine the local candidate.

Is that tinfoil hat thinking? Nope, just go back to contemporaneous accounts of the primary race -- even by those who didn't support Christine -- and you will see that it is all there. I didn't bring it up earlier because I didn't want an honest review of the dishonest primary to distract from the party's campaign against a dangerous, right-wing nut-job.

Sadly, they managed to lose the race anyway.

But if you want to venture into the Land of Tinfoil Hats, consider for a moment how Mr. Emanuel's clipping of Cegelis served Mike Madigan's opposition to Illinois participation in Howard Dean's "50 State Plan".

Had Christine -- a member of the Dean Dozen -- won the primary, she could have would have invited the DNC's chairman and his "50 State" workers into the 6th District and the Land o' Lincoln. But with the Dem Inc. candidate as the nominee, Mr. Madigan was able to successfully and very nearly thoroughly exclude Dean's DNC teams from Illinois. Thereby leaving the Illinois Democratic power structure intact, consolidated and unchallenged.

But to believe that, you would have to be some kind of conspiracy nut -- capable of believing that the Illinois Democratic party leaders might be more concerned with maintaining their personal political power via stability at all costs, rather than with promoting progressive values.

Only a nut could possibly consider even the possibility of such institutionalized sleaze -- right?

So what was the 6th District's reward for Dem Inc.'s cutting down their local progressive candidate? The willful decimation of a thriving grassroots organization.

Well, that and
Representative Peter Roskam (IL-6).

You Want To Know About the 6th District. I'm Here To Tell You About the 6th District.

My good friend the Archpundit may not be willing to have the Cegelis debate again, but now that the general election is over it's time for me to wade back in.

First, I gotta ask the following: Had Christine Cegelis been the Democratic nominee who lost the general election, would Peter Roskam somehow be more of the Representative of the 6th District? Could he have been elected as some sort of Super-Representative if he had beaten a grassroots candidate? Would he get two votes in Congress?


So please don't tell me about how the Democratic nominee "came close."

As someone who's candidate "came close" in the primary, let me assure you that "close" doesn't count for squat. Close or not, the Republican candidate still won the damn election. Had Christine been unopposed by Dems Inc. in the primary, the worst case scenario, the absolute worst case scenario, would place us exactly where we are today -- with right-wing, extremist Peter Roskam as Rep-elect for the 6th District.

But that hypothetical loss would not have come at the cost of alienating anti-war Democrats and undermining the grass-roots Democrats in the 6th Dist/DuPage County.

During the primary, some new names and faces rose up as hard charging activists -- on the Internet and IRL -- through the Cegelis campaign. But very few of them were heard from during the general election campaign.

Some of them were no doubt turned off by the DC Dem's ham-fisted power-play -- not everyone loathes Peter Roskam enough to bite their tongue, swallow their pride and fall in line behind the nominee like I did -- but even more of them were not just turned off by the Duckworth campaign
, but actually turned away. Repeated efforts to reach out to the nominee's team were rebuffed -- often in the snidest and snottiest terms.

I don't know if they were embarrassed because their primary race was razor close or if they simply have no respect for grassroots workers, but the early message from the Duckworth team was crystal clear. It couldn't have been clearer if the folks in the nominee's camp literally said, "We don't need Cegelis workers. We don't want Cegelis volunteers. Fuck you and fuck off!"*

And please don't tell me about how much the 6th Dist race drew GOP resources and money from other races that the Democrats won. That was purely the function of the money that Dems Inc. poured into the race. That money that was raised by the party, as the party, not by the nominee's personal fundraising prowess. The DCCC could have distracted and annoyed the GOP by expending a similar amount of money whether the candidate was Tammy Duckworth, Christine Cegelis or a McDonald's Happy Meal.

But the Happy Meal, although an actual 6th District Resident, would not have had deep and
dynamic grassroots support. Christine Cegelis did. The nominee did not.

And so, the 6th District race was run by the professionals -- the people who know what it takes to win an election.

We all now know the results.

With a shoe-string budget, Christine Cegelis got 44% of the vote against Henry Hyde in 2004. In 2006, Dem Inc's candidate got 47% of the vote against the Republican party's non-incumbent, right-wing extremist.

A meager gain of just 3% -- in an election marked by a nation-wide Democratic tidal wave.

Do I think Christine Cegelis could have done better?

You're damn right I do.

*I did deal with one very pleasant Duckworth person via the internet very late in the campaign.

UPDATE: There are more comments and some remarks from Michael in Chicago over at SoapBlox.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Republicans Deny Critical Health Care to Newborns Americans

If you're like me you love babies and you love America -- and you have a particular fondness for baby Americans.

Sadly, the Republicans running our country seem to stop giving a damn about American babies immediately after they leave their mothers wombs.

From TalkLeft:
All children born in the U.S. are United States citizens. But the Bush-signed Deficit Reduction Act that went into effect in July prevents Medicaid from covering health care benefits to those born to undocumented residents -- unless the parents file proof of citizenship for the child, which is a catch-22 because the application form takes weeks or months and many of the immigrant parents don't want to alert authorities to their presence here.

Hospitals are just now catching up with the law's demands and doctors are justifiably outraged:
Dr. Jay E. Berkelhamer, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the policy “punishes babies who, according to the Constitution, are citizens because they were born here.” Dr. Martin C. Michaels, a pediatrician in Dalton, Ga., said that continuous coverage in the first year of life was important because “newborns need care right from the start.”

“Some Americans may want to grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants, and others may want to send them home,” Dr. Michaels said. “But the children who are born here had no say in that debate.”
Compassionate conservatism at work. Vote these xenophobic louts out November 7. These babies are citizens and entitled to every advantage we can provide. Every child is entitled to an equal chance to succeed. Medical care during the first year of life is critical.
Those on the religious right often crow that God has turned away from America because America has turned from God. Actions like this should repulse any deity worthy of that title.

There can be no doubt that immigration is a hot-button topic in this country, but does anyone really think it is best addressed by denying medical care to babies... to
American babies?

The Bottom Line

From Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker:
There’s a lively debate among historians over the question of whether the record of the forty-third President, compiled with the indispensable help of a complaisant Congress, is the worst in American history or merely the worst of the sixteen who managed to make it into (if not out of) a second full term. That the record is appalling is by now beyond serious dispute. It includes an unending deficit—this year, it’s $260 billion—that has already added $1.5 trillion to the national debt; the subcontracting of environmental, energy, labor, and health-care policymaking to corporate interests; repeated efforts to suppress scientific truth; a set of economic and fiscal policies that have slowed growth, spurred inequality, replenished the ranks of the poor and uninsured, and exacerbated the insecurities of the middle class; and, on Capitol Hill, a festival of bribery. ***

In 2002 and 2004, the ruling party avoided retribution for offenses like these by exploiting the fear of terrorism. What is different this time is that the overwhelming failure of the Administration’s Iraq gamble is now apparent to all. This war of choice has pointlessly drained American military strength, undermined what had originally appeared to be success in Afghanistan, handed the Iranian mullahs a strategic victory, immunized the North Korean regime from a forceful response to its nuclear defiance, and compromised American leadership of the democratic world. You can read all about it, not only in the government’s own recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate, which reports that the Iraq war has intensified the danger of Islamist terrorism, but also in a shelf of books—a score or more of them, beginning two and a half years ago with Richard A. Clarke’s “Against All Enemies” and continuing through Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial”—that document the mendacity, incompetence, lawlessness, and ideological arrogance surrounding the origins and conduct of that war.
So here's our choice: If you not only like the fact that America has been circling the drain since the GOP took power in Washington, then you should vote for the Republican candidate.

But if you think that America can and should do better, then you should vote for the Democrat.

It really is that simple.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Homestretch Proposal

Mark Evanier:
I don't know why the Democrats don't just run an ad blitz for the next few days showing Bush's recent statement that he'll keep us in Iraq even if his only support comes from his wife and his dog, followed by the clip of him saying he'll never dump Rumsfeld.

At the end, just have an announcer come on and say, "Somebody's got to stop him... vote for the Democrat."
Why do I quote so many of Mark Evanier's blog postings?

Because I'm afraid someone might catch me if I simply stole his brilliant ideas and claimed them as my own.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Another Damn Video

Maybe the DCCC aren't the worst thing ever.

Roskam: Too Extreme to the Max!

just when I thought the DCCC couldn't do anything right...

Sun-Times: Vote Joe Vosicky for the Illinois House 46th Dist.

From the Sun-Times:
46th: Democrat Joe Vosicky and Republican Dennis Reboletti are running for the seat held by former GOP House Leader Lee Daniels. Reboletti, an assistant state's attorney, has been active in local politics in the city of Elmhurst and Addison Township. We endorsed Vosicky in the 2004 race because of his concerns over the rising cost of health care and helping ex-offenders. We support him again.
You can support Joe's hardworking and effective campaign by:
1. Calling the office at (630) 758-0100.

2. E-mailing the campaign office.
No matter your campaign experience or inexperience, their staff will find the role where you can make a difference in this race.

One more vote can make a difference -- and one more volunteer can make all the difference in the world.


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