Sunday, July 31, 2005

A beautiful building for the greatest city in the world

Courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times, these are drawings of the proposed Fordham Spire, which would be the tallest building in the nation.

I hope it gets built.

Just stunning.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

More progress in Blue America on energy and corporate accountability

Here are a few posts that remind how Illinois, the bluest state government (is bluest a word?) is leading the way.

Jack Franks' (D-Woodstock) work on corporate accountability has left Illinois as the best state in the Union on ensuring that public dollars spent to subsidize private companies for economic development are disclosed publicly. Here's a quote from Greg LeRoy, author of The Great American Job Scam (buy it here), from this AlterNet interview (a little long so you get the background):

Lakshmi: So what is the "great American job scam"?

Greg LeRoy: It's an intentionally rigged system that enables companies to get huge tax breaks and other taxpayer subsidies by promising good jobs and higher tax revenues -- and then allowing them to fail to deliver and suffer no meaningful consequences.

And this is a system that costs the American tax payers $50 billion a year?

Right, that's the estimated total spending by states and cities.

One of the points you make in the book is that it is very hard to get this data, right? There is no disclosure, with these corporate deals being negotiated behind closed doors. So the very heart of your argument -- that corporations don't deliver on the increased tax revenues, increased jobs, etc that they promise in return for these tax breaks -- is obscured by this lack of disclosure.

People who develop these estimates at the state level are dealing with broad aggregate numbers. It would tell you nothing about any specific company, whether it did or did not create jobs, did or did not generate tax revenue. In most states, we are completely in the dark.

Having said that, 12 states now have some form of annual company-specific disclosure. We're very excited because just recently Illinois, just began reporting data. There are four states now that disclose some of their data on the web and we think Illinois is the best.


That website is here, by the way. It's nice to be the best, right?

Another piece of good news is a biodiesel bill that Representative Feigenholtz and Senator Cullerton worked on that requires almost all local governments in the state to start using a blend of 98% oil diesel fuel and 2% biodiesel fuel has been signed into law by Governor Blagojevich. The bill is HB 112.

A site called Grain Net has a story here.

One complaint: neither Chicago sponsor was mentioned in the story. And my friend Jay who works for both of those legislators put in a ton of work on this legislation, and *he* certainly isn't credited either.

The bill is here. Check out how we started -- we asked for 50% biodiesel at first and funded by a 0.1 cent increase in the gasoline tax. Those two items were shot down rather quickly. But it is good policy to tax gasoline far more than we do. It's in Illinois' economic interest to tax our imports (like gasoline) to make the products we export (like biodiesel) more attractive.

This bill was a unanimous bill, to be fair. I wonder if raising the gasoline tax would get support if the money went to smart Illinois investments like biodiesel.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Dream of a veto-proof Senate majority. . . . and then walk a precinct

There are 33 Democratic state senators (counting Independent James Meeks). With 36 Democratic state senators, the Democratic caucus could override a veto of the governor.

And that would shift things around quite a bit.

Right now, a lot of progressive ideas, especially a 5 percent income tax to invest in Illinois' future, get stifled because the governor is an opponent.

With a veto-proof majority in the Senate, that dynamic would lose a lot of steam.

And this isn't so inconceivable. Are there three seats that can flip from R to D in the next year?

How about the many open seats that moderate, intelligent Republicans are leaving?

Senator Dave Sullivan in Park Ridge (where the Jan Schakowsky organization has been growing) is a great example.

Senator Steve Rauschenberger (who has a blog of his own for his gubernatorial race here) represents an increasingly Latino district in Elgin. . .and Latinos like the D.

And the big Tier One target race is likely to be Rick Winkel, a thoughtful Republican in an increasingly-Democratic district (one of the two state reps earned 62% of the vote last time against a very good Republican opponent) where hard-charging Michael Frerichs, the Champaign County Auditor and another thoughtful public official, is considering a challenge to Winkel. (This would be a real showdown between two smart, shrewd, savvy politicos -- I was a student in Champaign when Rick Winkel rode the 1994 GOP sweep to the state House on a very-smart 'Save the Chief' campaign on campus).

That's three.

And that's a veto-proof majority.

The House, with six more seats to pick up, looks a lot tougher. (There are 65 House Dems now, and 71 are needed for that veto-proof majority). But anything is possible. It will just be Governor Blagojevich at the top of the ticket (no U.S. Senate race, no presidential race), so if we Dems want to play to our strengths, we ought to be refining our message of what a Democratic state government has delivered for Illinois in the last four years -- higher wages and healthier people without a tax increase.

So if you'd like to build up a veto-proof majority, what are you waiting for? Get involved. Start practicing on your friends and family about why electing Democrats makes our lives better. We always have a more difficult message than Republicans. Practice. And convince people to vote for us -- either the people in your circle of friends and family or strangers in your precinct.

I don't really shop. But I like the name Marshall Field's

So check out this website: (thanks to Zorn for the tip).

Thursday, July 28, 2005

CAFTA passes, atrocious NPR report and Illinois hearing

The Central American Free Trade Agreement passed early this morning by a one-vote margin. One of the swing yes votes? Democrat Melissa Bean. What a downer. What's the point of electing Democrats if they protect Republican incumbents on the toughest vote of the year? Bad advice, in my view, to vote yes. Sure, the Tribune came down hard on her, but I don't think the district would have turned on her because of CAFTA.

I heard an NPR report on Marketplace yesterday and it was absolutey atrocious. Here was the storyline:

First, a Democratic Congressman (I think it was Carl Levin) articulated the opposition to CAFTA based on the lack of any significant worker rights in the Central American nations, and the inevitable pressure to lower wages with this agreement.

Then an economist said he was lying. Lying! He said that when Democrats say they oppose CAFTA because of downward pressure on wages, their noses grow.

Then the Democratic Leadership Council guy came on and said that Big Labor was lobbying hard for this agreement, and old-fashioned protectionism is the real reason why some unfortuate Democrats were still stuck in the past and voting against trade agreements.

Finally, the commentator for Marketplace simply suggested that the Democrats support for labor could come at a political price as Big Business is keeping track of who is against this agreement and will settle the score at the next election.

They basically said that Democrats who oppose the agreement were lying, out-of-touch, about-to-lose-their-next-election weasels.

And they say that NPR has a left-wing bias?

Finally, Senator Sandoval is the Chair of the Commerce and Economic Development meeting, and the Committee is holding a subject matter only hearing on CAFTA this Monday from 10 am to 1 pm for a discussion and debate on the role of trade agreements on the Illinois economy. The hearing is an opportunity to discuss ways to improve future trade agreements and opportunities that the CAFTA presents. The public is invited to participate and the posting is here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Labor's split will be a lifesaver, not a disaster, for Dems

I'm headed over to Navy Pier to the AFL-CIO convention in a moment to see Governor Blagojevich sign HB 1480 that protects the right to picket a workplace during his speech to the delegates, and I want to throw in my bold predition: the new CIO that is almost certain to form with the Change To Win coalition will be a godsend for the Democratic Party in 2006, not the disaster that some Dem strategists are bemoaning.

(Quick history: the reason why the UN of labor unions is called the AFL-CIO and has the hyphen is because of the merger of two distinct federations, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations. The former was the original federation and has existed for almost a century, while the CIO was formed in the 30s by dissident unions that felt the AFL at the time was too slow, too bureaucratic and too entrenched to really organize workers into unions in order to raise their living standards. In the 50s, the two got together. But the unions and organizers and workers who invested in the CIO were the energy and heart of the successful labor movement that raised living standards. Similarly, the Change To Win people are likely to the be the most energetic and successful organizers in the next decade).

The Change To Win coalition is not unlike the Dean wing of the Democratic Party. They are impatient with D.C. insiders and realize that we need new ways to engage with people and a far bolder message and plan than we have been peddling for the last couple of decades. I think if you like Dean, you like the Change To Win split. If you fear or dislike Dean, you don't like the split.

And I like Dean.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Barack's advice for progressive Democrats -- applied in Illinois?

An AP story in the Belleville News-Democrat here has this choice section on Barack Obama's advice for progressive Democrats:

Obama also angered some liberals for supporting Condoleezza Rice's nomination for secretary of state and refusing to join a group of Democrats who protested the certification of the Electoral College votes from Ohio, alleging numerous irregularities.

"There's a lot of freight placed on symbolic gestures," Obama says. "I don't think that plays well with the American people. ... Despite the fact that I come from what would be considered the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, I don't always agree with the strategy and tactics of some of my friends on the left."

Even so, the phone keeps ringing. He has helped raised money for U.S. senators in Florida, Michigan and New Jersey this year, collecting chits along the way.

Obama says his party needs to do a better job of getting its message out to voters.

"I do agree that the Democrats have been intellectually lazy in failing to take the core ideals of the Democratic Party and adapting them to circumstances," he says.

He says the Democrats should "take it big instead of making it small" as they speak about globalization, the need for a tough foreign policy and the importance of faith and family.

"It's not just a matter of sticking in a quote from the Bible into a stock speech," he says.


I think that's a message we should continue to take to heart. First, symbolism is less important than substance. Maybe I'm wrong to advice Senate Dems to vote no on John Roberts. He is clearly intellectually qualified and has a judicial manner. But this is a substantive switch from a moderate conservate like O'Connor to almost certainly a reliably hard-right conservative like Rehnquist (and so far, conventional wisdom suggests that Roberts would be more like a Rehnquist than a Scalia, as the latter goes out of his way to slash away at previous decisions and impose his own 18th Century ideology on the Supreme Court, while the former seems to accept the consensus view of well-settled law).

But, more to the point, we need to improve our platform, and the way to do that is to make big plans. I don't particularly care about faith or family in politics, as I think that tends to be more a way to make some voters comfortable with a candidate and culturally self-identify with the candidate rather than a source of significant policy, but figuring out how to raise everyone's living standards is not easy. It's pretty easy to figure out how to make the rich richer and everyone else poorer -- cut taxes on wealth and high incomes and implement corporate-backed trade agreements that tend to protect the most powerful industries while putting downward pressure on wages. That's basically the GOP platform.

I actually think we need more bloggers -- yes, you! -- that write and think about what the Democratic policy ought to be, and especially how to help join and engage with the Democratic Party where the Party is the governing coalition, like in Illinois and in lots of counties and cities all over the nation.

So if you're a reader and you are at all inspired by Barack Obama's words above, post a comment, set up a blogger account, and start writing. I'll link to you. And let's intellectually work!

Labor showdown happening this week in Blue America's capitol

The big showdown in Chicago has started. (Well, officially on Monday, but lots of people are in town).

The AFL-CIO convention is this week here in the Capitol of Blue America. But all is not settled in the dwindling House of Labor.

The more aggressive, growth-oriented unions have decided that the AFL-CIO (which is sort of like the United Nations of labor unions in the U.S. -- no independent power and it is only as strong as the member unions allow it to be) costs too much and doesn't spend enough money on organizing new people into unions. They also think the AFL-CIO, kind of like the UN, it far too timid about throwing some collective weight around. They want to Federation to force reluctant unions to merge into bigger unions. These unions are in the Change To Win Coalition. Their website is here. And the AFL's response to the growth-oriented unions' proposals is here.

I like the spirit of the Change To Win unions. I'm not in a labor union, so I don't really know which plan makes the most sense. I do know that the unions in the Change To Win coalition tend to endorse better candidates in Democratic primaries than the non-Change unions (and the Obama-Hynes Senate '04 race is an archetypical example for me). So I hope they get their way.

By the way, I had been relying on Nathan Newman's blog for lots of labor insight, but he's set up shop with Talking Points Memo in a new House of Labor Blog with other writers, and you can check that out here. And our own Ramsin Canon, SEIU organizer, has a piece on the convention at Gapers Block here.

Parallel worlds: GOP gubernatorial primary and Dem Cook presidential primary

Welcome to wide-open primary-land.

In an odd mirror image, candidates are starting to pop now (which is early) in both the Democratic and Republican primaries -- but it is the statewide race on the GOP side and the Cook County Board presidential race on the Democratic side.

In Republican-land, Mr. Gidwitz is about to start running television advertisements and Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington is going to announce his campaign in the next few weeks (thanks to Rich Miller's blog for this scoop). Meanwhile, everyone waits to see if old veteran Jim Edgar will run for governor again.

In Democratic-land, Mike Quigley has already announced and Forrest Claypool is likely to announce before Labor Day (give or take a couple of weeks). Meanwhile, everyone waits to see if old veteran John Stroger will run for the presidency again.

(Now that's the first time Jim Edgar and John Stroger were ever put in the same sentence, much less paired up in a political analogy.)

These primaries are wide-open and it is extremely unlikely that the winner of either race will earn a majority of the vote. Already people are muttering how unfortunate it is that *this* guy is running, since all that will do is make it less likely that *that* guy will win the race, and sadly allow that other guy to win it.

That's why we should hold a runoff election. Or hold an instant runoff election, like the Irish do. So we can have lots of candidates running but still have the candidate with the broadest support earn a majority of the vote and the seat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bush delivered for his corporate base: John Roberts

Well, we're screwed.

John Roberts practiced as a corporate lawyer and is a member of the Federalist Society.

That means trouble.

The Federalist Society guys are, by and large, radical in their activism of getting judges to impose the 18th century view of politics on the 21st century.

When they talk about strictly following the Constitution, that's what they mean: follow what the wealthy white men of the late 1700s thought about politics and justice and equality, not what people in 2005 believe.

And that is a radical change. Which is not at all a good thing for the United States.

For a long time, the Supreme Court was the bulwark of the reactionary forces, striking down attempts by Congress (elected by the people) to make life better with laws like a minimum wage and mandatory overtime after 40 hours a week.

Things could go that way again with the replacement of a moderate conservative like Sandra Day O'Connor who voted to uphold precedent in a bunch of big cases with an ideological conservative like John Roberts who will likely join the far right firebrands.

It's entirely appropriate for Democrats to veto a nomination based on ideology. Judges are rulers, and anyone who is 'very' conservative is by definition outside of the mainstream. That's reason enough to veto an appointment.

Stand strong Senate Dems! John Roberts might be intelligent and polite, but we deserve a mainstream Justice to replace a moderate conservative like O'Connor.

Clean Power -- in City Hall and from state energy regulators

Cute little tie-in, yes?

Good news on two fronts.

The Illinois Commerce Commission approved a plan to set targets for renewable energy for Illinois utilities to hit today. The bar is a bit low (only 8% by 2012), but progress is good. The 8% refers to the amount of total generating capacity of a utility in Illinois that will be generated from renewable sources like wind, solar or biomass. And that creates a market for entrepreneurs to start companies that make electricity from the wind or the sun because the utilities will be buying the product.

Jack Darin's blog with the Sierra Club here has more on the issue. It would be far better if the ICC required all utilities to buy a higher percentage of their power from renewable sources, instead of requesting the utilities to do so, but what the heck. This is an accomplishment and it is a good thing for clean power.

Another good development for Clean Power is the federal indictments in City Hall. Some of the clout-heavy people just got in big trouble for steering city jobs into political organizations instead of into merit selection. It's time for change in the capital of Blue America away from patronage-driven organizations and to more efficient, productive governments that inspire confidence in voters and taxpayers and deliver a better future for citizens. The corrosive impact of patronage retards progressive progress. It's long past time we accepted a post-patronage government and squashed the culture of tolerance.

One interesting note from David Axelrod: since when did patronage become a criminal case? I thought the Shakman decree was a civil matter. Mail fraud as a federal offense does seem like a stretch to criminalize patronage hiring. I'm glad that our U.S. Attorney is rooting it out, but I'd like to be more confident that Fitzgerald isn't stretching the statute either.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Where are all the good Illinois Republicans going?

Another honest, accessible Republican hangs it up.

The Illinois Leader reports that Representative Eilenn Lyons is not going to run again. She joins other suburban Republicans like Dave Sullivan and (presumably) Steve Rauschenburger who were excellent legislators but are not coming back in 2007.

That's a downer.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Grand Theft Auto saved my life. True story.

Tomorrow Governor Blagojevich will sign the No Video Games For Kids bill into law in Aurora. Smart politics to woo wealthy white suburban moms. But I'm not a fan of the bill. Because Grand Theft Auto is the best drivers education course in the world.

I played Liberty City quite a bit. When you drive a car, the best way to stop is to hit the brakes and pull the emergency brake (you can do both of those things in the video game).

So one day I'm driving back from Springfield (before I found the only civilized way to travel on Amtrak) in a winter storm. I'm driving up an entrance ramp too quickly and I start to spin out, skidding sideways up the ramp and in danger of rolling off the ramp. The foot brakes are useless, as I'm fishtailing wildly.

*Instinctively* I reach for the emergency brake and pull it, cutting my fishtail radius in half instantly and I come to calm stop, perpendicular to the ramp.

Hours of playing Grand Theft Auto had *trained* me to pull the emergency brake when I lose control of the car.


Now, maybe Grand Theft Auto didn't save my life that day. But it did save me from a potentially serious accident.

We all know that the worst car accidents are committed by under-18 drivers. And this bill makes it far more difficult for the children most in need of emergency driving training that Grand Theft Auto can provide to get that life-saving training. Governor, do you *really* want to kill our children drivers?

On a more serious note, I hope that we can keep an eye on ensuring that Governor Blagojevich and the Democratic Party remains the cool party (that is, attractive to young idealists), and not fall victim to alienating young people with a school-marm culture, as Danny Goldberg warns against in his book How The Left Lost Teen Spirit. My review of the book is here.

Lou Lang refuses to concede a status quo primary

All is quiet on the March 2006 Democratic primary front. Lisa Madigan, Dan Hynes, Jesse White, Pat Quinn and Rod Blagojevich all seem perfectly content to run for re-election, and no serious current of dissent seems likely to knock any of them from their constitutional office.

Except for a breeze from the far North Side of Chicago from Representative Lou Lang.

Representative Lang never took a shine to Governor Blagojevich. A fierce partisan (which is a high compliment), Representative Lang was the only elected official to stand up with Paul Vallas at his north side victory party in March 2002 during those heady two hours after 7 pm when he led the returns before Downstate results came in (remember, Vallas dominated Chicagoland in the Dem primary). Lang knows that schools need more funds in order to buy better futures for poor kids, and he believed that a gambling package is the surest way to turn on the school spigot. He was left high and dry by Governor Blagojevich early in the 2003 session, and Lang believes that Governor Blagojevich has been a disappointment.

However, a candidate for Governor in a Democratic primary needs three ingredients: the Speaker, the Mayor and $5 million. I'd guess that neither Speaker Madigan nor Mayor Daley are inclined to support a challenger in the primary, but I won't count Lou Lang out.

The key point is to keep the Governor's Mansion blue. Rod Blagojevich has earned a debt of gratitude from Illinois Democrats for running a disciplined, effective campaign in 2002 to break a 25 year GOP lock on the mansion. That was not an easy thing to do, even with all the weaknesses of a Jim Ryan campaign. If far sharper and sophisticated minds than mine calculate that Governor Blagojevich can't win a re-election campaign, a switch to a challenger like Lou Lang in November or early December is a possibility. It's a very remote possibility, however, because the Blagojevich re-election campaign has a compelling story to tell about the Democratic Party delivering for Illinois over the last three years.

I just hope that 2005 marked the end of the mini-triangulation strategy that Governor Blagojevich used in his first two years (differentiating himself from the 'bad guys' of the Democratic General Assembly and the 'bad guys' of the Republican Party, just as Clinton did to position himself in 1996 between the 'bad' elements of the Democratic Party and the 'bad' Republican Party'). Because I suspect that in November 2006, we Democrats are all going to sink or swim together.

The resurrection! The archives are back!

God bless Google. They played hard to get for a week or so, but they came through.

Someone named Robin at Blogger replied to my increasingly frantic emails. She (he?) found the archives. And brought them all back to life.

I didn't realize how much I missed these archives (blow-by-blows of Barack's primary, the '04 presidential primaries, the '05 session) until I got them all back.

I'd buy Google stock if I could.

Thank you Robin. Thank you everyone who cared about these archives and the blog.

I sacrified the 5 posts I had on the new blog, so I'll try to restart the conversation on keeping the mansion blue in 2006.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Treason in the White House.

If you leak the name of a covert CIA operative, that's treason.

Someone is guilty of treason in the Bush White House.

A year ago, the President's spokesman said that whoever was involved would be fired.

And now President Bush's closest adviser is involved.

So the President won't comment.

This is the worst example so far of how ruthlessly political these Bush people are. They are willing to sacrifice our national security for political gain. And when Bush's advisor gets caught -- thanks, by the way, to our fearless special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald -- they take the low road. They get quiet. They protect their own instead of protecting the country.


Freaking amazing: Earth Google. For free. Unreal.

Could you imagine if a decade ago someone told you that they work at a company with an image of the entire globe, coded by address, that can deliver up a birds-eye view of any part of the earth instantly.

And then they said it was for free. For anyone.

That's Earth Google.

It's here.

It's amazing.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Joe Birkett (and Rod Blagojevich) have the right idea on school money going to the classroom

Tom Roeser's always well-written Saturday Sun-Times column praises Joe Birkett's campaign platform to require 65% of all Illinois education dollars to be spent on classroom expenditures, as opposed to administrative uses.

Here's the heart of the column (which you can read here)

Under a Gov. Birkett, legislation would be prepared to require every Illinois school district to spend at least 65 percent of expenditures directly on K-12 classroom instruction, a marked increase from the 58.4 percent now expended. Educational reformers have long been critical of the bureaucratic overload that hobbles teaching because of top-heavy administrative staffs. Illinois has 881 school districts, each with a superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal and assistant principal. Some administrators in Illinois are earning as much as $300,000 a year along with lavish pensions. It's amazing when you consider that almost half of the 881 districts have fewer than 150 students.

Birkett has trained his prosecutor's eye on school reform here, and if adopted, the only ones complaining would be the administrative bureaucracy slashed by the 65 percent rule. The most recent tabulated school year by the U.S. Department of Education (2001-02) shows Illinois' revenue for K-12 was $16.5 billion, of which $9.8 billion went to classroom instruction (or 59.5 percent) and $6.7 billion for administrative (or 40.5 percent).


Wow. That's about $1400 per person in Illinois spent on K-12 education (which is probably not enough if we want to compete with China and India for the best-paid jobs in 2020 and 2030). But the shocker (at least to me) is that more than 40 percent of the dollars are spent on administrative uses.

Of course, 'administrative' doesn't mean 'wasteful high-paid navel-gazing bureaucrat' -- that figure includes (I'm sure) the cost of the buildings, the cost of maintenance and other absolutely legitimate costs. But it sure does seem very high.

There are way too many high-paid bureaucrats in Illinois in education.

This is a great issue for Birkett.

Fortunately, Governor Blagojevich was on this one from the start as he worked to abolish regional superintendents but got held up in the General Assembly. I think Birkett's solid platform is a good reason for Dems to renew their commitment to squeeze out waste in the 2006 session. We'd also get the kicker of taking the wind out of the sales of a great issue of perhaps the most aggressive GOP gubernatorial candidate.

Eliminating waste or administrative overhead is a progressive position to take. I'm glad Birkett is taking this progressive position, and the fact that conservatives like the idea should not give any pause at all to Democrats in Illinois who are, after all, in a position to implement this reform and get more teachers hired.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Olympics know how to pick a candidate

The Olympics have figured it out.

When they have five cities to pick from (New York, Paris, Moscow, Madrid and London), do they hold a U.S.-style election where the winner doesn't have to get more than 50% of the votes?

Heck no.

They have a runoff election.

If no city gets a majority of the vote, then they knock off the city that came in last and they vote again.

And in the final showdown of Paris versus London, finally, London earned a majority of the vote.

We should elect presidents (both U.S. and Cook County Board) this way, especially in primary elections.

Hold a runoff! Earn more than 50% of the vote or vote again!

New progressive legislative network launching from Montana for blue legislators

And they've got a blog!

The Progressive Legislative Action Network is setting up shop in Montana (where the Dems run the show, so of course, wages rise and the standard of living goes up for most people).

They have a blog here. I plan to be a regular reader. I might try to go out to Seattle for their kick-off on August 16th. I hope they plan to recruit heavily from Illinois legislative leaders who are setting the pace for progressive states in the U.S. -- the rest of the nation has something to learn from Illinois, the capital of Blue America!

Their blog is here and their main site is here. -- cool. . . .The blog is now on the blogroll.

I've gone to the Center for Policy Alternatives' conference (I blogged about it rather sloppily here), which is an overlapping (and already existing) organization, and maybe it's not so great that there are now two groups for progressive state legislators instead of one, but what the heck. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Independence Day: This year, I'm investing in the Democratic Party

One of my favorite anecdotes of the Revolutionary Way goes something like this: during the late 18th century when American patriots worked feverishly to transform themselves from subjects of the Crown to citizens of a nation, not every colonist cared. In fact, conventional wisdom at the time suggested that only about a third of all the colonists supported independence. Another third wanted America to remain part of the British Empire. And the final third didn't really care.

One of the most important events of the Western World where finally, self-evident truths that all men are created equal were legally expressed for the first time, and two-thirds of the people were either hostile or indifferent.

So, facing a corporate-evangelical onslaught on the New Deal (the latest battleground is the reactionaries' original tool to veto the New Deal -- the Supreme Court), we might draw a bit of inspiration and strength from the Revolutionaries of the 18th Century.

And I've decided to invest in the Democratic Party, with the egalitarian, candor-to-power spirit of Governor Howard Dean. I bought a Democracy Bond. It's $20 a month (more if you can afford it). And I think it's a good investment, as I trust the money will be spent outside of DC and in hiring organizers in red states.

Buy your own here.

The link is

Be among the one-third that work for liberty and justice for all. Invest and engage.

Here's Governor Dean's explanation for why a small-donor political party is crucial to the health of the Republic.


If our party is going to both compete in the short term and build for the long term, we're going to have to do things differently.

The Republicans raise more than $10 million a month in huge checks from special interests and lobbyists. They have created a money-for-influence machine unlike anything our country has ever seen.

A million of us contributing $20 a month can double their total. To do that, every single one of us will have to take ownership of this party. And that's exactly the point -- by making your 'Democracy Bond' commitment, and encouraging people you know to do the same, you can shift the balance of power in our political process.

The 'Democracy Bond' is a core commitment to our party and our values that every Democrat should embrace. We will only create lasting change if that sense of obligation and responsibility becomes a permanent part of our lives.

The other side has its game plan to win. They will divide America by race, religion, class, sexual orientation and any other way they can if it means a political advantage -- they will even exploit the sacred memory of September 11th. They will shamelessly appeal to the worst in us -- exploiting our fears and scapegoating the most vulnerable. And while they stoke resentment among the people, special interests and ideologues will bankroll their party and set the agenda.

The way to beat them is simple. We will unite and empower people everywhere. By doing so we will ensure that the Democratic Party is beholden to no one but the people -- and that when we govern, the concerns of ordinary Americans are our priority.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Jr. versus Daley for Mayor of Chicago?

Today Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. called for a massive voter registration drive to target the 650,000-some Chicagoans who remain unregistered while he decides whether to run for mayor in February 2007.

This is a good thing. More candidates make for better electeds. Candidates who run unopposed tend to be less sharp than those who survive a hard-fought election. If Jr. runs, the election will make Daley (assuming he wins) a better mayor.

You have to think that Daley is the favorite over Jr., as Daley remains one of the nation's greatest mayors. The persistent low-level corruption in city government is a significant problem, but perhaps the culture of tolerance that infects lots of voters as well as lots of electeds is finally changing in Chicago. Significant political opposition is a good thing, especially opposition that pushes to change the culture of tolerance.

There is something a bit depressing about two sons of powerful Chicago men facing off for mayor -- an echo of the 2000 presidential election.

Representative Paul Froehlich on O'Connor, GA vacancies

War of the Worlds over O’Connor’s successor

By guest blogger Paul Froehlich, State Representative, 56th District

Suppose President Bush nominates someone who is no further to the Right than, say, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is to the Left? Will Democratic senators be as cooperative with Bush’s nominee as Republicans were with Clinton’s?

The vast majority of Republicans voted to confirm Ginsburg in 1993 (the vote was 96-3). My prediction is that Democrats won’t give this President nearly as much slack on Supreme Court nominees as Republicans accorded Clinton. Moreover, I suspect many readers of Dan’s blog hope Democrats will not give Bush the same consideration that Clinton received. Readers may even want a partisan filibuster to stop any conservative, even if she is no more out of the “mainstream” than Ginsburg.

Obviously, the rules have changed since the Clinton years. Just as a change in the filibuster would come back to haunt Republicans some day, so this change in advise and consent of Supreme Court justices will some day affect a Democratic president.

On a legislative note, Rep. John Millner was appointed on July 1 to be Senator Millner, 28th District, filling a vacancy created when Kay Wojcik resigned. As Schaumburg Township Committeeman, I cast 36% of the weighted vote, and I cast it for Millner. I have only 2% of the weighted vote in Sen. Sullivan’s district. The leading contender for appointment to Millner’s vacant House seat is Randy Ramey, Pate’s stepson.

Friday, July 01, 2005

O'Connor retires: Now we're screwed

Here comes the judicial activism juggernaut: O'Connor retires and Bush has the chance to replace the moderate with a radical judge who wants to bring back 18th century politics to the bench.

Let's hope Bush betrays his radical base and appoints a moderate. Someone who disagrees with the idea that the New Deal should be repealed -- by judges!

Because if he picks a radical, we're screwed.