Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't Panic! Mark Kirk Has Not Left the (GOP) Reservation

That last comment string was getting a bit long, so I figured I'd report in on a conference call that Congressman Mark Kirk hosted tonight for 10th District Republican leaders - mostly precinct and township chairmen and committeemen (and women). Kirk realizes the 'firestorm' his vote on the 'Cap and Trade' climate change bill has caused, at least on the right side of the political spectrum, and understands that he need to explain his reasoning, clearly and simply, and (frankly) give people the opportunity to vent.

I think that many Republicans who were initially (and may still be) very upset with Kirk's vote in favor of the bill needed (and need) to: 1) vent their frustration and confusion; 2) hear Kirk's explanation as to why he cast the vote he did; and, 3) be reassured that Kirk has not walked off the reservation. I think the call accomplished those goals, and he will continue to reach out to his constituency in the 10th District in the coming days and weeks.

I won't repeat the entire call blow-by-blow, but a few points stand out.

First, for those folks who have wondered (not without some cause, perhaps) as to what the heck Kirk received in return for his vote from the Emanuel/Pelosi machine, the answer was nada, nothing, zip. In fact, Mark shared that on Friday, President Obama called him twice and Kirk refused to take the call (too busy reading the bill, I assume). Apparently, that was the very first instance The One ever experienced of someone in Kirk's position not taking his call. Hopefully it won't be the last. So, for anyone who was worried that Kirk had been bought by the Dems, that's not the case.

Second, Kirk pointed out that on every other major vote that has occurred in this Congress, Kirk has voted WITH the Republicans and against the Obama administration. On major legislation like the Stimulus, the budget, the Ledbetter Act, Kirk voted with the GOP 100%. Kirk is also gearing up to be a leader on the Republican alternative to ObamaCare, which has all the markings of being a far more important (and much bigger blow to the economy) than the Climate Change bill.

Mark talked a lot about the upcoming fight on health care, and the GOP realizes that you cannot fight something with nothing. While some might contend that given the resources of the Obama administration, and there is no way the GOP can come up with anything that will counter the Obama plan, Kirk begs to differ. He stated that he and his people have written about 75% of the GOP answer to Obama's health care takeover bill, so get ready for the next major battle in Congress to take place very soon. I'm confident that the GOP will support Kirk's position and understand that one vote does not a lost cause make.

Kirk admitted fully that the Climate Change bill was "imperfect." But, as an opportunity to support renewable energy and encourage technology-forcing change in this country that would finally begin to wean ourselves from foreign interests, it simply could not be ignored. While Kirk also acknowledged that the Dems had rushed the bill through, he also noted that even the GOP leader, John Boehner, has always said that people do not remember procedural issues months after a vote; it's the substance of a bill that resonates with the voters. Kirk also noted that the word from his constituents in the 10th was overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, and that serious opposition only developed in the final 48 hours before the vote. As Mark said on the call, in a situation where the will of the public seems to be in flux and somewhat capricious, you have to trust to your own best judgment, and as one of the few people who spent a lot of time reading the bill and meeting with folks like Midwest Generation (which supported the bill), Mark had to vote the way his heart and mind told him.

Mark reiterated that the financial impact on taxpayers would not be significant; especially here in Illinois, where we already have a more stringent renewable energy requirement (25%) under state law than is called for in the climate change bill. Mark also emphasized his commitment to developing domestic power sources such as nuclear energy. Try getting that from the Dems.

Kirk's primary goal with his vote was to show support for a plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil, which hardly anyone can argue with as a goal important for our economy and national security. In the end, you may not agree with his vote, but as we've said here time and again, we'd rather have a thinking Congressman that will vote his heart and mind (and agree with most of the GOP 90% of the time) than the alternative (imagine the Dan Seals perspective not just on climate change, but health care and other critical issues).

Kirk will continue to engage the voters of the 10th District until every constituent that wants to make his or her voice heard by the Congressman has had their say. He may not convince you, and you may not forgive him, but he still has my vote, and hopefully the vote of many thinking Republicans in the 10th.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Congressman Mark Kirk Explains His Vote On Climate Change Bill

I spent a good portion of the weekend alternatively wondering what Congressman Mark Kirk's explanation was for his vote in favor of the Waxman Markey energy bill, commonly known as the 'climate change' bill (technically, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or "ACES" as the acronym-builders would have it), and then reading the posts and comments of many, many upset Republicans on various blogs and newspaper websites. As we explained here last week, many view this bill as nothing more than an astonishingly large new tax on the American people, which will further add to the bloat of government, stifle the economy, and reduce our ability to compete with the likes of China and India (which have no such qualms about moving full speed ahead with their economic development, carbon emissions be damned).

Those of us who have backed Mark Kirk for the better part of nine years now knew he had to have a good reason for taking this vote. But, there wasn't a lot of information coming from Team Kirk. Over the weekend, my friend Antonietta "Ant" Simonian, Executive Director of the Lake County Republican Federation, grabbed Mark for a half hour on his cell phone and got his explanation. There has also been an e-mail going around, although the regular distribution seems to have been messed up, as I usually get two copies of everything Team Kirk sends out, and I did not get this one.

In any case, reprinted below is Ant's blast e-mail to the Federation mailing list, and Kirk's detailed e-mail explanation of his vote. I'm still left wondering why, if Team Kirk anticipated the adverse reaction of many supporters, why they didn't get out in front of this story earlier, as some of the speculation I read over the weekend even suggested that Kirk must have made some trade with Emanuel/Pelosi machine for his vote. If you don't fill the vaccum with something, people are going to speculate. With even folks like Anne Leary at BackyardConservative calling for Kirk's head, there's a lot of damage control that needs to be done by Kirk.

Anyway, here's Ant, followed by the Kirk e-mail:

Over the past few weeks, partisans on both sides of the aisle bombarded media outlets with praises and warnings of the legislation. I spoke to Congressman Kirk this afternoon and expressed my concern on his vote for the legislation. I wish I could repeat the conversation verbatim (nearly 25 minutes) as it continues to demonstrate his intellect, his commitment to public service and to leading by example. A "no" vote would have been tremendously easier. The extreme rhetoric on both sides resulted in Congressman Kirk conducting his own research based on more non partisan sources including Midwest Generation (provider of energy to the 10th Congressional District), NASA, NOA, and the Congressional Budget Office. Kirk read each of the 1,200 plus pages of the legislation and voted his conscience. Below is his statement and I thank you in advance for reading it. If you wish to express your opinions, please e-mail me at antruns7@gmail.com.

Warmest Regards, Antonietta "Ant" Simonian
Executive Director, Lake County Republican Federation

Statement by Congressman Mark Kirk

For 2009, our top goal should be energy independence. I support exploring for energy off our coasts, expanding nuclear power and building a natural gas pipeline across Canada to lower heating costs in the Midwest - an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy.

As a Navy veteran, I think is time to set America's policy towards defunding Middle Eastern dictatorships by cutting our foreign oil bill, giving our troops less to worry about. That is why during the debate on the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) bill, I voted for the Republican Forbes (R-VA) Substitute, based on the text of the New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence, H.R. 513. Our "Manhattan" energy bill set a goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil by 50% in 10 years and 100% in 20 years. The bill cost $24 billion but would eliminate the $400 billion Americans currently spend on foreign oil. Our bill backs solar, wind, hydro, clean coal and nuclear power. It enhances research, especially in nuclear fusion, bio-fuels, carbon-capture systems and efficiency upgrades. Unfortunately, this bill was defeated by a vote of 172 to 255.

While less ideal than the Forbes Substitute, the underlying ACES bill would still lower our dependence on foreign oil by diversifying American energy production. It is time to break the boom and bust cycle of high gas prices and the need to deploy three separate armies to the Middle East (Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom). As you may know, I am a veteran of the Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom missions.

With regard to the main thrust of the ACES bill, I am also concerned about growing air pollution, both from our country and overseas. I do not think we should ignore this problem. While the ACES bill is overly complicated, I voted in favor of the legislation to address these problems, looking forward to major improvements in the Senate.

In 1998 and 1999, I served as part of the U.S. delegation to both the Kyoto and Buenos Aires UN Climate Change conferences. In those years, there was a significant debate about the amount and effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide. I was a skeptic and spent hundreds of hours on the subject of 1990s climate science. In the Congress, our job is to learn as much as possible from the latest peer-reviewed non-partisan scientists and then plot the best course for our nation.

There is now a growing scientific consensus that the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide affects average temperatures. According to the National Academy of Scientists, carbon dioxide levels rose to a high of 290 parts per million 130,000 years ago, causing a 20 degree increase in temperature. As carbon dioxide levels fell, so did average temperatures. Both Presidents Bush and their advisors recognized this long relationship and put forward their own plans to reduce the recent rapid growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide, both here and abroad.

According to NASA, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose from a pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million in 1850 to 385 parts per million today. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the rate of increase is accelerating, from 376 parts per million in 2004 to 385 today. The National Academy of Sciences reports that the earth's average temperature already increased by 1.4°F, from 56.8°F in 1920 to 58.2°F in 2007. NOAA also reports that due to a 30% drop in winter ice covering the Great Lakes since 1972, evaporation may be the cause of Lake Michigan's declining water level.

If we examine the lowest-case NASA projection, they expect the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide to rise to 440 parts per million by 2020. I am a strong supporter of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. When they reported the Democratic health care bill cost $1.6 Trillion, we should take notice and rewrite that bill. That is why I have become one of the leading Republican authors of an alternative health care bill that will be the Congress's least expensive bill, costing our Treasury very little. I read their report on ACES carefully too. CBO reports that peer-reviewed scientists expect the world's average temperature to increase by 9 degrees by 2100, lowering U.S. economic output by 3% annually. In sum, they estimated the costs of the bill per household at $140 annually.

The main section of the ACES bill affects entities that emit more than 25,000 tons of carbon annually, roughly 7,400 sites across the U.S. (e.g. the current Clean Air Act already covers 22,000 sites). The best way to understand this bill is to look at its effect on our district's main source of electricity, the Midwest Generation electrical plant in Waukegan. If you go to any beach in our district, you will see it on the northern Lake Michigan shoreline. In sum, Midwest Generation burns coal to produce four million megawatt hours of electricity, serving 330,000 households annually in northern Illinois. Under ACES, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would issue permits for the four million tons of carbon this plant plans to emit in 2012. Half of the permits would be issued for free, half at a cost of $15 per ton, totaling $33 million in new costs (electricity generators using solar, wind, hydro and nuclear technologies do not emit carbon and would not pay such costs).

Midwest sells its electricity to Commonweath Edison. Under ACES, EPA would refund to ComEd $30 million of the $33 million Midwest paid to EPA. The Act requires that this funding be used to reduce the cost of electricity to lower and middle income families. In the end, Commonwealth Edison would pass about $3 million in new costs on to northern Illinois consumers, or roughly $14 annually per home. As you can see, the costs of this bill are modest, mainly intended to move energy production in the United States to renewable technology. Midwest Generation also advised me they strongly supported the bill, as did Commonwealth Edison.

Major emitters can also invest in plants and trees that remove carbon from the atmosphere. By planting nine acres of trees, an emitter can offset a ton of carbon emissions annually. Many of these investments will help farmers and may be arranged by the Chicago Climate Exchange, using our city's expertise in trading credits for agricultural products. Under this legislation, we also expect total wind power generation to expand at an annual rate of 16%, doubling wind production from its current 3% of U.S. totals power to 6% over the next 10 years. Because the U.S. solar and wind production is still so small, the legislation also contains provisions to encourage the construction of new nuclear plants to power our economic growth. Recently, our country started building new nuclear power plants, with 17 applications for 26 new plants.

ACES also increases energy efficiency standards for homes and commercial buildings - but recently passed Illinois standards are already as stringent as the new federal standards. The effect of this bill will be to increase other states to the Illinois standards. By one estimate, such efficiency standards will lower household energy costs by $3,900 annually. This would cut our foreign oil bills substantially.

In sum, I would have preferred a bill that focused more on energy independence and less on some of the complications in this bill. Nevertheless, the 1990 Clean Air Act signed by President Bush established a cap and trade system to reduce acid rain that proved to be a great low-cost success. Much of the poisoned lakes in the east and New England have recovered from acid rain. In the coming Senate debate, I hope we can repeat this environmental success and aggressively back a national program to defund Iran and Venezuela by reducing America's need for foreign oil.

Mark Kirk
Member of Congress

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time Will Judge Mark Kirk's Vote on Climate Change Bill

Yesterday, the White House and Congressional Democratic leadership left it all out on the field in exerting every ounce of persuasion they had to muster enough votes to pass landmark climate change legislation. They succeeded - barely. The measure now moves to the Senate, where a combination of Republicans and moderate Democrats may modify it almost beyond recognition in its current state.

If Obama and Pelosi had not succeeded in passing this legislation, it would have been a major black eye for the Dem agenda, which would have come at a critical time, considering polls show that the popularity of Obama's programs (although not Obama personally) is slipping, and more Americans are leery of Obama's ability to lead the nation out of economic crisis.

Obama and Pelosi were not able to convince 44 fellow Democrats to vote for the bill - whether these Dems refused to go along because they are vulnerable in the next election and wanted political cover, or because they truly believed the legislation did not go far enough, that's probably a case-by-case determination.

But, they did convince eight Republicans, including 5th term Congressman Mark Kirk, to vote in favor.

The right-wing Blogosphere wasted no time in lighting up and denouncing Kirk's vote as a traitor to Republican ideals, given their view of the cap and trade legislation as nothing more than a astonishingly large new tax on the American people, which will further add to the bloat of government, stifle the economy, and reduce our ability to compete with the likes of China and India (which have no such qualms about moving full speed ahead with their economic development, carbon emissions be damned). No big surprise that many Republicans are disappointed with Kirk. (Heck, I even got a call from my mother-in-law in St. Louis who wanted to complain to me about it).

But, the real test of Kirk's vote will only come with time. While some die-hard anti-tax fiscal conservatives will probably not forgive Kirk, the real question is how his vote will play with the larger electorate. While the Dems will avoid crediting Kirk as much as possible, even though they needed his vote, they will not be able to paint Kirk as an anti-environment Bush-Rush-Cheney sycophant, at least on this vote. Kirk's mantra has always been "thoughtful, independent leadership," and this vote will certainly bolster his creds in bucking his party when he believes he should.

The more cynical among us will call this a soccer-mom vote, which is geared towards positioning him for re-election in the fairly liberal 10th Congressional District, or for U.S. Senate. Perhaps they are right. But in the end, Kirk has enjoyed a vast base of support from many, including Democrats, Independents and Republicans, who did not support his views or votes on every single issue. Not even TA does. But what I do know is that Mark Kirk is a brilliant Congressman that I still support, and would like nothing more than to see him stay on in the 10th, or even move up to Senate (although he'd leave big shoes to fill).

This Blog has always been more about politics than policy. Is there anyone out there that thinks that, overall, this vote hurts Kirk more than helps? Will this even be much of an issue, especially if the final measure (if passed by both houses) gets watered down to something that enjoys true bi-partisan support? I'm interested to hear everyone's view on this.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Team America Gets Inside Local Dems' Heads: "Don't You Just Hate it When Repubs Ridicule Us?"

Looks like Team America continues to get inside the Dems' collective heads, and has them playing political defense, well in advance of the 2010 election.

It appears we struck a chord with the oddly named "Eighth District Democrats and Independents" (EDDI), who apparently saw our recent post on the great GOP showing at the Libertyville Days parade, including a GOP float, Congressman Mark Kirk, State Rep. Ed Sullivan, County Treasurer Bob Skidmore, Justices Mary Schostok and Ann Jorgensen, representatives from Dan Duffy's team, and candidates such as Dan Sugrue.

As we reported, not much happening on the Dem front at that parade, although an alert Collin Corbett (president of the Lake County Young Republicans) reported in that there were a skant few Dem walkers that we missed... but the best part was, instead of live candidates, they brought a cardboard cutout of President Barack Obama and marched with him. You can't make this stuff up:

So, if I were the Dems, I would collectively be feeling sheepish, too. It does seem like we got to them. Check out the following e-mail that an avid reader forwarded to me:

RE: Don't You Just Hate it When Repubs Ridicule Us?

If you just hate it when Republicans make fun of us,
you can do something about it July 4th and 5th!

Lake County Republicans have been heaping scorn on Democrats this week because we supposedly had fewer people in the Libertyville Parade than they did.

So let's show them what Democrats are made of and show up in droves for the Mundelein parade, Sunday July 5! Can we beat the Zion record of 118 marchers??? [snip]

Thanks in advance for helping support the Democratic and progressive voters in Lake County!

Eighth District Democrats & Independents (EDDI)

Well, I wish them luck. If you'd like to walk for EDDI, you can RSVP at illinoiseddi@hotmail.com or call 847-550-8631.

There. Never say I wasn't happy to help.

Mark Kirk News: The latest news about Mark Kirk is that there is no news about Mark Kirk, at least as to his plans for U.S. Senate. His love life is the subject of a light-hearted Politico post, though.

Mark Sanford and the Bizzaro Blog. Yes, we've heard about Governor Mark Sanford. Over at the Bizzaro world blog, they are pretty giddy about it, although they also note that we in Illinois had recent guv problems of our own. But maybe now that Patti B. has been kicked off the island, things will get back to normal for a while. At least with Sanford, we found out about his issues long before people got too excited about him as a possible presidential candidate in 2012. Although, if you'll recall, another adulterous president didn't do so badly, and his wife ended up with a pretty good job, too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Michael Bond's IL-10 Website Up, But Is He Still Hedging?

We reported a few weeks ago that State Senator Michael Bond (D-Grayslake), who aspires to win the 10th Congressional District seat currently held by 5th term GOP Congressman Mark Kirk, had apparently unintentionally let a few draft webpages from an under-construction website leak out on the Internet. That website had an address of http://www.michaelbondforcongress/, which made sense. As we said, the top-level page had only a "coming soon" message, but some of the lower level pages we could access clearly had a Michael Bond for Congress logo, which we previously shared:

Oddly, we heard nothing more from Bond on the Internet for some time, until over this past weekend, when a finished website for his congressional race finally went "live."

Even more oddly, though, the new Bond campaign website has a new address: http://www.bond2010.com/

The logo is very similar (sorry for the break, I had to capture the image from the website in two pieces), and it is unquestionably a 10th Congressional campaign website, as it is paid for by Michael Bond for Congress, and includes a 10th District map.

But why the change, and why the more 'generic' sounding website name? And why is the MichaelBondforCongress website still posting a "coming soon" message and not re-directing folks to the new site?

Is Bond still hedging that if Mark Kirk stays home to run for a 6th congressional term, Bond will bail and run again for the 31st state senate district (against, presumeably, County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt, who announced for the race some weeks ago) or maybe a state-wide office?

Mark Kirk in the News: Congressman Mark Kirk has been making some news lately. Here's a wrap-up->>>> Politico quotes Kirk in an article regarding the comeback of the GOP. Kirk continues his fight against earmarks and lobbyists who get rich off them, as reported by various sources. Kirk (singlehandedly it seems, sometimes) continues to stand up for Israel against the Iranian regime, sympathizers and business interests. Kirk helps to promote hybrid buses with bi-partisan support. Finally, Kirk helps get more funding for Great Lakes cleanups.

Wow. Kinds leaves ya breathless, doesn't it? Meanwhile, Bond bullies Metra into taking credit cards, but gives them no money to pay for it. Swell.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Is Imitation Really the Sincerest Form of Flattery? Visit the Bizzaro Team America for Kicks

TA regulars will get a kick out of this.

There's a new Dem blog in town named Blue Lake Special. (Is that supposed to be a play on Blue Light Special, of the old K-Mart days? I would have picked a different name...)

The format of the Blue Lake Special Blog seems somehow... familiar.... not to mention even more familiar if you compare it with the equivalent TA post (today's topic was State Senator Matt Murphy). Blue Lake could probably save some time if they just left a post up that essentially said, DON'T BELIEVE TEAM AMERICA! It'd probably be just as effective for their target audience.

I'm just surprised that it took them so long to come up with the Bizzaro-world version of Team America, since Ellen clearly isn't getting the job done in the counter-propaganda war.

Blue Lake has already stooped to stealing our photos without accreditation, but that should surprise no one who understands the Obama mentality of ignoring hard work and private property rights of individuals.

I'm not too worried about a little competition from another dimension. After all, Superman always triumphed in the end....

Back to our regular programming shortly.

State Senator Matt Murphy Announces for Guv Race (UPDATED)

One of our alert readers noted that State Senator Matt Murphy of Palatine has thrown in for the governor's race in 2010, after a few weeks of sending out some feelers. Trib coverage here; AP coverage here. The Daily Herald was apparently caught sleeping on this one; perhaps this is due to budget cutbacks?

Murphy joins a slew of announced and not-yet-announced candidates on the GOP side, including fellow senators Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady, DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom, DuPage State's Attorney Joe Birkett and businessman Adam Andrzejewski of Hinsdale.

Oh, and maybe another fellow, Congressman Mark Kirk.

Does Murphy's entrance into the primary battle mean anything, or is it way too early to tell? Is Murphy serious or running to build name recognition for later? And what of Kirk? Do more candidates in the primary help him or hurt him if he runs for guv? Would Kirk's entry clear out many of the amateurs?

Consider this a 2010 guv open thread.
UPDATE: The Daily Herald put a short blurb up on the Murphy announcement on its website this morning, which appears to be the AP article, but I don't see an accreditation.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lake County GOP Out In Force At Libertyville Days

I spent the morning doing the Libertyville parade, which is always fun. The local GOP was well-represented. Strangely, there was nary a Dem to be seen in the parade (as far as TA could tell), although I heard they have a booth. I guess Dems figure they only have to come out during election years. Republicans, on the other hand, understand that they have to make an investment in the community and stick around for the long haul, not come out just when they are looking for votes.

Here are some of my better pix, courtesy of my trusty Blackberry:

Below is Judge Wally Dunn, Congressman Mark Kirk, a supporter of Justice Mary Schostok, and Sheriff Mark Curran

Here's Libertyville Township GOP Chairman John Emerson getting the awesome GOP float ready.

Below is State Representative Ed Sullivan, Jr. and longtime supporter Adam Beeson.

Here's Young Republicans President Collin Corbett and Kris Duffy (State Senator Dan Duffy missed the parade because he had 'flood repair' duty back at home)

Here's State Representative Candidate Dan Sugrue and his team, getting ready to march.

Below is the car driven by the team of Justice Mary Schostok and Ann Jorgensen, both of whom are running for retention to the Illinois Appellate Court.

This is Ed (didn't catch his last name), Donna O'Leary, and Ant Simonian, who is Executive Director of the Lake County Republican Federation.

Below are Lisa and Rod Drobinski and Justice Mary Schostok

Here's County Board Member Ann Maine, with our Sheriff, Mark Curran.

Finally, here's one more view of the GOP float just as it's about to get going.

Friday, June 19, 2009

No Perjury Charges Against Burris; Now He's That Much Harder to Dislodge

Today the Sangamon County State's Attorney stated that Senator Roland Burris will not be charged with perjury in regard to any of the statements he made during questioning or by affidavit during the General Assembly's impeachment proceedings against former Governor Rod Blagojevich.

What few people seem to be talking about so far, though, are the implications for the Dem senate primary, with an assumedly newly-invigorated Burris and his supporters making it a lot tougher to dislodge him from the seat.

You can tell Burris is already feeling his oats in the wake of the decision, as reported by Politico:

"I am obviously very pleased with today's decision by State's Attorney John Schmidt. His investigation was both thorough and fair, and I am glad that the truth has prevailed," Burris said in a statement emailed to my colleague Manu Raju. "This matter has now been fully investigated; I cooperated at every phase of the process, and as I have said from the beginning, I have never engaged in any pay-to-play, never perjured myself, and came to this seat in an honest and legal way. Today's announcement confirms all that," he said.

h/t Capitol Fax Blog

A messy multi-candidate primary with Alexi, Lisa and Chris Kennedy all fighting for votes against Burris might give Burris an actual chance (if he can raise some money, finally). Too bad Jan Schakowsky didn't stay in the race, too.

Wonder what Mark Kirk thinks about all this...?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Obama Won't Take A Stand on Iran, But Plenty of Time to Meddle in Illinois Elections

Apparently the issue of supporting democratic elections in Iran is too hot for President Barack Obama to touch. No, we wouldn't want to back up the people who are risking their lives out in the streets demanding fair elections and democracy... wouldn't want to offend the Iranian government (as illegitimate as it may now be), or they might not ever talk to us again.

But, Obama apparently has plenty of time to meddle with another political morass, namely, Illinois politics, and specifically, the impending battle to see who succeeds to his former senate seat, now held, of course, by Roland Burris. The big story of the news cycle is that Attorney General Lisa Madigan met with the President and his senior aides to discuss the senate race.

Are the Dems so scared by the prospect of Congressman Mark Kirk running for senate that bringing out their most popular (why, I'm not sure) politician is a move of desperation to try to ensure they don't suffer the embarrassment of losing the senate seat formerly held by the now-President? As many people have noted, now that the political landscape has changed somewhat with Quinn in as governor and not Blago, Lisa Madigan may be seriously rethinking her plan to run for that office.

Where does that leave Mark Kirk? Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business really thinks Kirk ought to run for governor. Hinz may have a point that running as a fresh state-wide face against the entrenched issues of Springfield may be more attractive now than ever. And, since most polls that I've seen show Kirk losing to Madigan in a head-to-head race, it's not a dumb bet that he will run for whatever race Lisa doesn't, or stay home to run in IL-10. Of course, if Lisa is just using this all to further promote a future political move down the road and decides to run for Attorney General again herself, that leaves Kirk's political future a bit more open.

PS- Ellen defends Obama's lack of backbone, and as usual, tries to blame Mark Kirk. She's apparently taking comments again on her blog, brave soul, so why not let her know how you feel?

BOND WATCH: The only public response I have seen out of State Senator Michael Bond's camp in response to the Venturi FEC complaint over alleged late FEC filings is in Charlie Selle's column in the News-Sun. Bond's people deny that Bond messed up his filings. We shall see. But he still doesn't have his Congressional campaign website up and running, and the links to the draft Bond web pages that we saw some days ago have now been taken down, it appears.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

State Senator Michael Bond Under FEC Investigation Regarding 10th Congressional District Bid (UPDATED)

The Federal Election Commission is reviewing a complaint against the campaign of Democratic 10th Congressional District candidate Michael Bond, who currently serves Illinois' 31st senate district.

According to Lake County Republican Chairman Dan Venturi, who filed the complaint against Bond with the FEC, Bond has declared himself a congressional candidate and expended money on behalf of his candidacy -- without timely filing the proper paperwork and disclosures (due 15 days after declaring one's candidacy). Venturi notes that, as reported by Team America some time ago, Bond has reserved a website address and several draft pages of the site can be accessed (although not by design, it appears).

In addition, it is beyond question that Bond officially declared himself a candidate weeks ago (April 29), as evidenced by a press release and statements to the media. According to Venturi, Bond's campaign could be subject to a fine for failure to properly and timely file his disclosures.

You can read the complaint and other documents, including the FEC letter sent to Venturi to confirm the initiation of the investigation (MUR 6195), here.

A recent search of the FEC database reveals that a campaign committee has been established for Bond, with a Brett P. Smiley (apparently of Rhode Island... what's up with that?) as its treasurer, but the committee statement of organization (FEC Form 1) was filed only as of June 1, 2009 (when Bond announced in late April). Bond later finally filed his FEC Form 2 (Statement of Candidacy) as of June 9, 2009. Bond signed the Form 2 and mailed it on June 3, 2009, which was after Venturi's complaint was received by the FEC. Whoops.

Bond has 15 days from the receipt of the notice letter from the FEC to write to it and try to explain why no action should be taken for being egregiously late with his filing. You can learn more about the FEC complaint procedure here.

For anyone who thinks this is a lot of hooey about nothing, the left has made no bones about making this an issue when it suits them. I don't know where this rates on the FEC penalty scale, but it sure isn't good to begin your campaign by proving you can't timely file your paperwork and have to explain yourself to the FEC after the GOP calls you on it.

UPDATED: FEC Complaint Procedure: We've been taking some heat in cyberspace for talking about the Venturi complaint and whether it was sufficient under the law. The issue is whether Bond needed to pass a $5,000 fundraising threshold to be considered a "candidate" under the election code, regardless of the fact that he publicly and clearly declared himself a candidate. Here's the bottom line- the FEC guidance on filing a complaint states the following:

"Receipt of Complaint

The Office of General Counsel (OGC) reviews each complaint to determine whether it states a violation within the jurisdiction of the Commission and satisfies the above criteria for a proper complaint. If the complaint does not meet these requirements, OGC notifies the complainant of the deficiencies.

Once a complaint is deemed sufficient, OGC assigns it a Matter Under Review (MUR) number, acknowledges receipt of the complaint and informs the complainant that the Commission will notify him or her when the entire case is resolved. Until then, the Commission is required by law to keep its actions regarding the MUR confidential."

The FEC, at least, determined that the complaint was sufficient such that it was not returned to Venturi for deficiencies, and was assigned a MUR number. The ball is now in Michael Bond's court to try to weasel out of this. I am by no means suggesting the FEC's actions to date are a review of the complaint on the merits, but if Venturi's allegations were as facially deficient as some would have you believe, why would the complaint have gotten this far?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mark Kirk on Warpath Against SuperPot, and Other Stories

Kirk Not Hot on SuperPot: Congressman Mark Kirk will hold a press conference today regarding his push for stricter penalties for selling so-called 'super pot' or 'kush' (as it apparently is known on the street). Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran agrees that this is a problem, as more and more of this stuff has been turning up in Lake County drug arrests.

Keith Turner Out for County Board: Democrat Keith Turner withdrew his name from consideration for the Lake County Board spot vacated by now-Waukegan Mayor Bob Sabonjian. Turner's planned appointment really pissed off Dem County Chairman Terry Link, who wanted his ally Bill Durkin nominated to fill that slot. County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt refused to appoint Durkin because he is County Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer's brother. TA hears Suzi already has some additional names under consideration, but something tells me Terry Link isn't going to get his way next time either.

Michael Bond Mandates Credit Cards on Metra, But Where's the Money? State Senator (and declared candidate for the 10th Congressional District) Michael Bond was finally able to get his legislation passed that forces Metra to accept credit cards. Big whoop. I am a Metra rider, and I have never felt inconvenienced by having to by my tickets with a check. But the point here is that Bond forced this down Metra's throat and provided no way to pay for the costs Metra will incur in gearing up to take credit cards. Metra estimates the cost will be $3 to $5 million annually. Wonder where they will get that money?

Can we say 'unfunded mandate'? Is the Michael Bond plan of governance to pick populist causes and force them through Congress, but have no plan to pay for the program? If you think this sounds like a typical Dem, I would have to agree with you. I don't think we need more of that type of thinking in Washington.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mark Kirk Warns of Coming Inflation Due to Obama Policies; Now He's a Traitor

Wow, another trip away on business and I come back to the left-wing blogosphere going nuts over the latest comments from Congressman Mark Kirk warning that the Obama administration's 'print and spend' monetary policy has got us headed for serious finanical trouble. Hear Kirk explain it all here:

You can read the transcript of the interview here.

But, the spin from the left is that Kirk is anti-American, a traitor, and devaluing America's financial interests and security... because why?... because he came out and told the Chinese what they already knew: the economic policies of the U.S. have this country headed for major trouble if we don't reduce the cycle of borrow and spend that shows little sign of letting up.

Treason??? Really?

Let's get real, folks. Mark Kirk didn't let the cat out of the bag to the Chinese. By all accounts, they may be a lot smarter than we are.

I can remember just a few short years ago when the left considered it 'patriotic' to rail against the Iraq war and President Bush, and to protest the 'unjust' and 'illegal' nature of it all. Now, under President Obama, it seems that the left will take any opportunity to squash dissenting opinions. Others have noticed this. Could this have anything to do with the fact that they are scared to death of Mark Kirk and his chances to take over the "Obama" senate seat?

The good news is, this tactic may well backfire for the Dems. Mark Kirk has now been established as a national expert on finance and especially with respect to the Chinese. He's been put on the same level as Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and the issue is who is being truthful with the Chinese, not to mention the American people. The Chinese response to Geithner when he told them their investments were safe: he was laughed at!!! (as Mark Kirk pointed out, you have to have some appreciation for Asian culture and politeness to realize how shocking it was for an audience to openly laugh at a foreign dignitary).

When you compare foreign policy experience among possible senate candidates, it kinda makes Alexi's highly-publicized junket to Greece to carry Dick Durbin's briefcase look a little silly, don't ya think?

Monday, June 8, 2009

HRO Day at the Races; Schakowsky Out For U.S. Senate

Yesterday, we attended the House Republican Organization day at Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights. The HRO took over the top-tier club and skyboxes and the rain managed to hold off while attendees discussed the craziness in Springfield and upcoming elections. Notable attendees included House Minority Leader Tom Cross and State Republican Chairman Andy McKenna.

The Lake County delegation was well-represented, including State Reps. Sandy Cole (who invited TA and family, thanks Sandy!), JoAnn Osmond and Mark Beaubien. Dan Venturi, Lake County Republican Chairman, and Suzi Schmidt, Lake County Board Chairwoman (pictured at right with Andy), were also there, and were both being quizzed on the direction of the Lake County Board (with three spots opening up for appointment just in the past few months). I also saw County Board members Linda Pedersen and Steve Carlson, and former Board Member Bob Powers.

I didn't win any bets, but I didn't lose much either. Anyone who thinks that gambling is the cure for the state's budget ills is a simpleton. At least, they won't be plugging the budget gap with my gambling tax contribution.

While there was much idle speculation and gossip, the only thing I felt worth reporting was that State Senator Michael Bond is apparently out there raising money for his 10th Congressional District bid, although he seems to be doing it very quietly, which isn't like him. As we've noted here, his website is not even functional at this point. State Senator Susan Garrett was also discussed as a rival for Bond in IL-10. The consensus among the GOP members I spoke with seemed to be that they'd all easily support Garrett if it came down to that, rather than be saddled with even more from the Link-Bond regime that has done so little for Lake County. So far, no strong GOP candidate to replace Mark Kirk (if that becomes necessary) has emerged, and the GOP is in a bit of a box while Kirk contemplates his future from the sidelines. No one from leadership (either national or local) has asked TA's opinion yet, but you can be sure we will be watching the emerging candidates closely (and offering our opinions and possibly an endorsement).

Schakowsky Out: As some on this blog predicted, 9th District Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said no to a U.S. Senate run. While this was fairly well expected, and Jan was not considered a top candidate by many due to her liberalism and felonious husband Bob Creamer, it will re-energize the other Dems (Alexi, Chris Kennedy, etc.) as the field begins to narrow. As Capitol Fax Blog points out, this is all basically another way of having something to talk about while we all (including Congressman Mark Kirk) wait for Attorney General Lisa Madigan to make up her mind on a possible U.S. Senate bid.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekend Update: Curran, Link, Kirk, Patti B., Groupies

Well, I'm back after a few days in DC this week on business. There's a lot going on, so let's get to it.

Sheriff Mark Curran's First GOP Golf Outing a Big Success: Last evening, we attended Sheriff Mark Curran's annual golf outing at Antioch Golf Club. It was a beautiful day for golf, and 41 foursomes filled the course to overflow capacity. Curran sold over 60 hole sponsorships (including one by the Team America Blog!), and offered 19 silent auction items and 30+ raffle items. TA even won some golf balls which he gave away, since I'm a sailor, not a golfer. My guess is he should have grossed $35 to $40 grand. Curran thanked all of his supporters and the Lake County Republicans, who he said welcomed him with "open arms" after his party switch.

Curran's first outing as a Republican after he bailed from the corrupt Democrats was especially important to show that he has the strong support of the GOP, and also to build up his war chest, as he will likely be the #1 Dem target in 2010 for revenge's sake.

Heard On the Golf Course- Terry Link to Resign? A completely unconfirmed rumor that was buzzing around the links yesterday was that State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) is thinking seriously of resigning from his senate post. The reason given was not health, but anticipated ethical issues that may break soon. I have to be skeptical about this, considering that Link has exhibited Teflon-like resistance to scandal taint, even when he's caught with dead people on his nominating petitions. But, hey, if it's true, I'll take it. It is to TA's everlasting shame that the Lake County GOP was not able to knock Link out after 3 hard tries, but as my old football coach used to say, 'never apologize for a win,' regardless of how you get it.

If Link did resign, that would most likely open the door for State Rep. Kathy Ryg (D-Vernon Hills) to move to the senate, and a new replacement for her legislative seat in the 59th District would be chosen, which replacement would run in 2010 against GOP challenger Dan Sugrue, who is eager for a second run at the position. Would Ryg play well in Waukegan and North Chicago without the Terry Link machine in top force to back her up like it's ushered in Link all these years? A good question.

Finality with Mark Kirk's Divorce but No Senate Decision... Yet.
I ran into Congressman Mark Kirk when I was in DC, and we talked briefly about his divorce from wife of eight years, Kimberly, which was finalized this week. The divorce, while regretful, was amicable, and Kirk's team has made sure no one in the press was surprised by this news. The divorce records won't be sealed, which indicates there's not much political fodder, if any, here, although the Dems (being the classless bunch they are) have already tried to make some hay of it. TA understands that Kimberly has already sent Mark a check for this campaign cycle and can be counted on to continue to be a strong supporter of Mark's efforts.

While the divorce may be final, Kirk's decision on whether to stand pat in the 1oth District (likely facing State Senators Michael Bond or Susan Garrett) or run for U.S. Senate for the Burris seat, is anything but. Kirk is still weighing his options, and may not make a decision until the Dem field becomes more clear. Jan Schakowsky is scheduled to make an announcement on Monday, but the much more interesting factor in Kirk's decision is likely to be Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

The joke among Kirk staffers is that buttons will be made that say "I Don't Know!" so perhaps people will stop asking them about Kirk's inclinations. They just don't know. As we have said here before, you may as well ignore the endless speculation and statements from people in the press who claim to know which way Kirk is going to go. They don't know either.

Patti Blagojevich Now the 'Tarantula Mom.' I know this isn't really 1oth District material, but I had to laugh this morning while reading about Patti 'Potty-Mouth' Blagojevich's exploits on the "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" show, and the reaction of former GOP gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka to Blago's prior references to her as a 'crazy old aunt.' Topinka responded: "That kooky old aunt -- she had three terms in the treasurer's office and never misplaced a dollar and returned $230 million in unclaimed assets and made a profit. Maybe former Gov. Blagojevich and his tarantula-eating wife ought to have thought of doing some of the same things and they wouldn't be in such trouble."

TA's Personal Aside: I had a great time in DC this week, and even met some fans of the Blog. So hi everyone- you know who you are. I've never had groupies before, so that was kinda fun.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Roland Burris - Just When You Thought Illinois Could Not Be More Embarrassed

I'm tired of having Michael Bond's mug on my website, and the comment string on that last post was getting way too long (not to mention the three-way flame war between commentors FOKLAES, Blue Prairie, and Tikkunolum was getting a little out of hand), so it's time to move on.

In the absence of any new info from Congressman Mark Kirk about his intentions on running for Senate or Guv (remember everyone who was telling you that they just KNEW weeks ago what Kirk was going to do because 'someone' told them?), and now that the Illinois General Assembly three-ring circus has subsided for the moment (it's now Governor Quinn's turn to start throwing blame around), papers like the Tribune are having a field day with pointing out the various lies told by U.S. Senator Roland Burris, that is, when they are not giving us the blow-by-blow description of Patti Blagojevich and her bug-eating trials down in Costa Rica (my wife at breakfast this morning: "Would you eat a tarantula 'for your kids'? Not sure I would.")

The best thing was the Tribune's cut-out and fold-together, 3-D Roland "Pinocchio" Doll. Burrisocchio's long nose features two quotes- one by the real Pinocchio "There are no strings on me!" and one by the real Roland "I'll send you my check by Dec. 15th." Hahahahahahahah. Can't find it online, so you'll have to buy the print edition to see it, but it's worth it.

I'm surprised the Tribune printed this. Remember the outcry from Congressman Bobby Rush and others when various politicians were refusing to help seat Burris?

I guess that when the Tribune starts printing little cut-out dolls of black politicians without fear of being labeled racist, you KNOW the guy is toast.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Have a Sneak Peek at the Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time Website of Congressional Candidate Michael Bond

A short time ago, we criticized State Senator Michael Bond, who has declared his intention to run for Congress in Illinois' 10th Congressional District, for apparently wavering on his commitment to run, as he has not publicly announced support for a successor (thus leaving himself a potential bolt hole back to his current job, should he change his mind) and also did not even have a campaign website up.

Interestingly, due to a probable programming oversight by Team Bond, for a short while (until the Bond folks figure it out, now that I've brought it to their attention), you can get a behind-the-scenes peek at Bond's prospective website for his congressional race. While the main page at www.michaelbondforcongress.com still shows a "coming soon" notation, you can get past the main page and drill down into a few of the "content" pages, like this one, for "volunters" [sic] if you type in the address directly or get it from Google after you search for "Michael Bond congress" where it comes up in the results. You can also get access to a page for "contacts," which seems funny to me, since it seems that he will express interest in hearing from people who live inside the 10th District, even though he doesn't. Who woulda thunk you cared, Michael?
None of the other buttons appear to work, nor are the other pages publicly accessible, it seems.

Here's what the Bond congressional campaign logo will look like, from the website:

Clearly, if Bond were ready to go all-in, this website would have been completely up and running by now. It's not like Bond just decided to run for congress yesterday. So, why the hesitation, senator?

A few tips: fix the spelling mistakes before going "live." Make sure the "issues" pages have some real meat, once you make them up: 1oth District voters are a highly-educated, notoriously independent lot. They won't vote for you just because you have a picture of you and President Obama together (it's on Bond's Facebook page, but not on the campaign website...yet). Dan Seals found that out. And I would change that dorky logo. The single star above "Michael" does nothing for me. And above all, don't allow the website to come up in a Google search until you're ready to roll with it.

Excuse me. I have to go capture a few screen shots from this draft website before it 'disappears.' It might become important later for some reason to have evidence that Bond had expended money in having a website designed prior to this particular date.