Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I hope Ned Lamont ends Joe Lieberman's career

Joe Lieberman has been such a destructive force for the Democratic Party (in my lefty view). I've sent my twenty bucks over to Ned Lamont's campaign and have been making a few phone calls into Connecticut on his behalf as well.

Guess the Joe-mentum ran out of gas......

And the best part about the Lieberman campaign? Neither Barack Obama nor Dick Durbin went to Connecticut to campaign for him! Lots of Dem senators did (Boxer jumps to mind), but I like to think our guys were smart enough to put the need for a muscular, smart Democratic face above their personal friendship with the smarmy, moralizing, holier-than-thou incumbent. Senator Lieberman may be a nice guy, but his politics of rolling over for the Bush Administration on the invasion of Iraq symbolized D.C. squishiness. As Obama said at his kickoff event a few years ago, "Democrats get to Washington and they somehow lose their backbone!" That's why Lieberman has been bad for Democrats, and if he loses tomorrow, expect to see a lot more backbone in DC.

Representative McKeon bows out after a decade

I'm a little late to this party, but I'd like to wish Representative Larry McKeon a happy and active retirement. He is a fellow blogger (check it out here), and his posts somehow capture part of his personality. For example, the headline on his post announcing his retirement is "Well, I made a decision"

Not: "McKeon to Retire". Just, "Well, I made a decision". Something endearing about that.

It's one reason I like the General Assembly so much. It's a very human place.

By the way, be sure to go to the State Fair for either Governor's Day on the 16th of August or Republican Day on the 17th (depending on your party). It's a vivid reminder of how nicely accessible our state leaders are. No matter how powerful the elected official, when they are wearing a short sleeve shirt and sweating in the sun next to the cow made of butter, it's a nice egalitarian aura.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Big Business strikes back against Senator Collins' law on Sudan divestment

Senator Jacqueline Collins has championed a law (SB 23, here) that requires all public pensions to divest from any investments in Sudan. Technically, it prohibits the Treasurer from depositing any funds or contracting with any financial institution that does business in Sudan. Sudan is one of the saddest places in the world, where a genocidal campaign is waging.

To try to stop the horror, the State of Illinois is trying to avoid profiting from the misery of others. The state law requires all public pension funds to get a certification from private equity firms that they are not investing in Sudan (until the genocide ends). This has caused some administrative problems for investors and private companies, as they can no longer profit in the Sudan and today they fought back.

In federal district court in Chicago, they have sued the State, claiming that the state law is not permitted by the federal Constitution, because it resembles foreign policy and that's implicitly prohibited. (I don't recall that debate in Philadelphia....)

Keep in mind, no American companies are permitted to invest in Sudan, pursuant to a federal law passed in 2002. So only non-American companies are impacted by the Illinois law. And these non-American companies are getting together to use the resources of our country (the federal judiciary) to ensure that our pension funds can finance their operations in Sudan.

The main plaintiff in the case is the National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org), a big money organization out of D.C. that always seems to be advocating for lower wages and higher profits (funny how that works out). They managed to recruit eight Illinois pension funds to join the case.

Senator Collins released a statement arguing that state pension funds have no standing to sue the state, and that divestment is not foreign policy -- it's just disassociation with a genocidal country. Governor Blagojevich defended the law as well. This bill, by the way, was co-sponsored by Peter Roskam and Ed Petka and passed out of the Senate unanimously. It also earned 89 votes in the House and was supported by both Governor Blagojevich and Treasurer Topinka. But where there's money to be made.....

Here's an article from the federal government. (Yes, that's our government press at work. But, a good article nonetheless).

I hope those conservative judicial activists don't infringe on the authority of Illinois to decide where and with whom to invest our billions in pension funds. I really can't imagine the Founding Fathers, each of whom believed passionately in states' rights, would have taken the view that a state could not direct their own funds away from a particular foreign nation. Part of me hopes this case goes to the Supreme Court, as I'd find the debate interested, particularly to see what Justice Scalia, Mr. Original Intent, would say.

Anyway, it seems a little sad that a bipartisan initiative that will likely help end an ongoing genocide is the subject of a lawsuit because profits are apparently more important that helping to stop a genocide.