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July 31, 2006

Money matters

All the Illinois Q-C legislative candidates have filed mid-year campaign finance reports except Sen. Mike Jacobs, whose report wasn't listed on the State Board of Elections website when I last checked at 8:30 tonight.

Here are the links. The number after each candidate's name is the "cash on hand as of June 30" amount.

State Rep. Pat Verschoore, District 72: $105,376.12. He has no opposition in the general election

State Rep., Mike Boland, District 71: $137,011.02. His opponent is ...

Steve Haring: $12,040.09.

James Beals, running against Sen. Jacobs: $4,561.79.

Sen. Mike Jacobs: current report not available; he had $179,187.99 on hand Feb. 19.

Beals' biggest contributors are GOP senate leader Frank Watson, $2,000; and the Rock Island County Republicans, $2,000.

Follow the links, explore; share your observations.

Posted by jcb at 08:25 PM | Comments (60)

July 28, 2006

36th District Stuff, Part Two...

I had high hopes for the post entitled "36th District Stuff" (below) when I broke it from an earlier comment string. It started with people needling James Beals about whether he had a job and what it was. Mr. Beals responded in civil fashion, and a more or less civil discussion followed for a time.

"Less civil" won out, despite appeals from the better class of commenters. I knew the battle was lost when "Values Matter"'s request for grown-up discussion immediately drew a response that began "No, this is fun..." and continued with a junior high round of name-calling insults, aimed in this case at Sen. Mike Jacobs but typical of what first Mr. Beals and now both men are catching.

Mr. Beals has hung in gamely, answering hard-put questions about himself and even coming to the defense of Sen. Jacobs. If Sen. Jacobs is participating in the discussion, he's doing so anonymously. But I assume he's sick of it all, as Mr. Beals clearly is. And as I am.

So we're going to try again. It's to be a discussion for the grown-ups. Those half-dozen or so commenters who are utterly determined to drive every discussion into the gutter are going to have to go somewhere else -- start their own blog if they want. There, they can can say whatever they want to about Mr. Beals or Sen. Jacobs or me. But they're going to have to have their "fun" somewhere else.

Good-bye guys.

For the rest of you -- let's talk first of a Western Illinois University campus in the Quad-Cites, which is at the top of just about everyone's to-do list.

The next step revolves around $14 million or so in state money that's included in a bill to be voted on this fall. On the plus side, the bill's got money for a lot of things a lot of people all around the state want. On the minus side is the uncertain answer to the question: Where's the money coming from?

A similar something-for-everyone bill passed into law during the George Ryan administration did a lot of good for a places (among other things, the Q-C got a new Rock River bridge out of it). But it also contributed to the state debt that leaves a lot of people wary of a repeat. The money's got to come from somewhere, sooner or later.

So what next?

Posted by jcb at 11:54 PM | Comments (4)

July 27, 2006

Does this have legs?

Bernard Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register has checked in with his story on on the Phil Hare-Andrea Zinga finance filings.

Zinga campaign manager Charlie Johnston grumbled to Schoenburg, as he did to Q-C reporters, about filing a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission about the fact that some donors gave Hare twice the amount that is normally allowed in a quarter.

Hare's people say the double donations are OK because half was for the bizarre "primary" election and half is for the general election. They say they checked with the FEC to make sure accepting the money was OK in the circumstances.

Here's the letter Hare's committee filed with the FEC about the matter.

So, is this going anywhere?

Posted by jcb at 09:56 PM | Comments (24)

July 26, 2006

Moving against the presidential power grab

It's not one of those issues to be readily reduced to a bumper-sticked slogan or a 10-second TV spot aimed at the base, as we've seen in the cases of flag-burning, same-sex marriage, abortion and immigration, among others.

It's merely more important to the future of the Republic than any of those, or perhaps all of them put together.

It's time for serious people to talk seriously about what is known as a "signing statement." That's the device our presidents have used for some 180 years to declare that some provision or another in a bill being signed into law does not apply to the executive. The device, in short, by which the president declares he is above the law.

Our current president has made use of this device more often than all his predecessors put together -- an American Bar Association task force said in its report this week that '`From the inception of the Republic until 2000, Presidents produced fewer than 600 signing statements taking issue with the bills they signed. According to the most recent update, in his one-and-a-half terms so far, President George Walker Bush ..... has produced more than 800.''

They've all been blatantly unconstitutional, Mr. Bush's 800-plus and all the 600 that came before him.

The Constitution gives a president but three options for dealing with a bill presented by Congress. He can sign it, in which case it becomes law; he can ignote it, in which case it becomes law after 10 days; or he can veto it, in which case it does not become law unless each house of Congress approves it by a two-thirds majority.
There's nothing at all in Article I, Section 7, that provides any other option, no excepts, ifs, howevers or excepts. Nothing about "signing statements." No line-item veto.

The only constitutional choice a president can make when confronted with a bill that he believes -- rightly or not -- impinges upon his rights and responsibilites, is to veto it. That view was shared by early presidents and their advisers. Louis Fisher of the Congressional Research Service said the originator of the signing statement may have been Andrew Jackson, who used one to limit the reach of a new law in 1830.

The then-sitting Congress objected, as did subsequent congresses when other presidents followed Jackson's precedent. But none have pushed the issue, settling instead for groaning and grumping, accepting the resulting gray area. As a result, the practice steadily grew until 2001, when the current president launched his blizzard of signing statements.

The report the bar association released this week begins thusly: "RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association opposes, as contrary to the rule of law
and our constitutional system of separation of powers, the issuance of presidential signing statements that claim the authority or state the intention to disregard or decline to enforce all or part of a law the President has signed, or to interpret such a law in a manner inconsistent with theclear intent of Congress..."

The report urges the president and Congress to seek and support a judicial resolution to the issue.

Sen. Arlen Spector, R-Pa., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is taking the lead. He said on the Senate floor this week that his committee will seek legisation to "… authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president’s acts declared unconstitutional."

The issue has been ripening since the time of Andrew Jackson. Its difficult to see how Congress cannot at last proceed to assert its constitutional role --its rights, its responsbilities. Those are being eroded, one signing statement as a time.

I do not want to see a further accretion of presidential power, not for this president, nor for the one who follows him nor for the ones who follow after. Overweening executive power wasn't and isn't part of the plan.

There's an excellent overview of the issue in a memorandum written by assistant attorney general Walter Dellinger in 1993 for President Clinton's counsel Bernard Nussbaun. While Mr. Dellinger's conclusion -- that signing statements are constitutionally defensible --is wrong, the memorandum covers both viewpoints thoroughly. You can find it on the web at www.usdoj.gov/olc/signing.htm#N_1_.

Posted by jcb at 08:36 PM | Comments (6)

July 19, 2006

Malin inclined to pay partisan bill; not me

It's the picture that keeps popping into my head.

It was on the front page of the QCT on Tuesday, the day after Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Davenport.

It's an ugly thing, depicting two Davenport police officers towering over two ladies of considerable years. The ladies are dutifully following orders to remove the flimsy little sticks from the American flags they were waving as they trudged with other political marchers along River Drive. Collecting the little sticks was necessary for the security of the vice president, the officers said. (Picture)

This is what we paid for? We citizens of Davenport picked up a huge chunk of police overtime on Monday, so that aged ladies could be deprived of little flagstaffs? To protect a man who was two full blocks away, ensconced behind a small army of Secret Service agents and local police officers?

I want my money back.

Probably won't get it though. Probably will get stuck with tabs from both ends.

Mr. Cheney's visit was purely an affair of partisan politics. No press conference, no speech to the chamber; just a quick trip to a private home for a pricey fund-raiser for congressional hopeful Mike Whalen. There are rules about such things: On such partisan trips, the cost is to be borne by party or candidate. Come next round of campaign finance reports, we'll discover how much we taxpayers got in reimbursement for the veep's journey.

I've looked at such reports at various times. The reimbursement figure sometimes strikes me as being kind of light, given the complicated logistics of moving a president or veep around and providing security, reasonable or not. I'm guessing the cost of a couple of planes and the small army of security comes close to matching Mr. Whalen's take, whatever that amount turns out to actually be.

Couldn't the national party have just given the amount directly to Mr. Whalen, and skipped the trip?

That would have at least spared Davenport taxpayers whatever their contribution to the tab turns out to be, since Craig Malin, our city adminstrator, told the QCT he's inclined to pick up the costs. Story said he described the security expenses as the “cost of a community being worthy of visiting.”

Excuse me?

A 'community being worthy of visiting' does not pay overtime to send out police officers to force aged citizens to dismember the little flags they wave in patriotic protest.

A 'community being worthy of visiting' does not send officers into the streets who are so poorly trained and instructed that they understand their task to be ordering aged citizens to dismember the little flags they wave in patriotic protest.

A 'community being worthy of visiting' does not send officers into the streets who are so poorly trained and instructed that they understand their task to be to even temporarily detain a newspaper photographer recording their actions in a public place, as the QCT says happened on Monday.

A 'community being worthy of visiting' does not stick its taxpayers with the bills for a partisan fund-raiser.

Mr. Malin's inclinations aside, I think the city council needs to send a bill for police overtime to the Whalen for Congress committee. And if some Dem of such bigwig status requiring extra police comes here for Bill Braley or anybody else, they get a bill, too.

Our cops are busy. Plenty of real work always stacking up. The politicians want them for purely partisan affairs, the politicians can pay.

QCO comments on this column

Posted by jcb at 05:31 PM | Comments (2)

July 17, 2006

The mike's open...

President Bush's open-mike incident is what it is.

This Times (of London) Online story includes a transcript.

Posted by jcb at 10:30 PM | Comments (12)

Here comes the Veep ... and there he goes

Dick Cheney's come and gone, and everyone's survived so far as I know, though I was worried about some of the people who trudged up and down the hills of Davenport's McClellan Heights in the protest march. It was beastly hot and humid and a fair number of the 100 or so marchers were, well, past middle age.

The marchers gathered in Lindsay Park, in the Village of East Davenport, for speeches and sign-waving, then hoofed it along River Drive to Forest Road, then up the hill on Forest Road to a point catty-corner from the exit of the home where Cheney appeared at a $500/$1000 fund-raiser for Mike Whalen.

The Veep probably didn't catch sight of the protestors; he apparently was on his way a few minutes before the group arrived at the spot where they would have been in view.

A good many of the guests at the private reception at the home of Chuck and Jodi Ruhl did see and hear the protestors as they left. None seemed perturbed.

A fair of number of drivers who passed the marchers honked and waved; I only heard one cat-call and it was pretty mild: "We won, you lost, get over it." one driver yelled.

There was quite a bit of grumbling among the group about the amount of money it cost Davenport to provide all the cops who were thicker than flies around the neighborhood to bolster security so the Veep could attend a private fund-raiser.

I'd just as soon not pay for it either, with my Davenport tax dollars or my federal tax dollars. Will probably catch it on both ends though.


Earlier stuff:

I'm kind of caught in-between events related to Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Davenport in an hour or so.

It's about five blocks over to 2740 Nichols Lane, where Mr. Cheney will be appearing at a $500/$1000 per person fund-raiser on behalf of lst District congressional hopeful Mike Whalen.

It's a long block in the other direction to Lindsay Park, where anti-Cheney protestors plan to gather. I'll probably walk down there and check out that aspect of the visit, since the fund-raiser at the home of Chuck Ruhl Jr. and his wife, Jodi is closed to the media. (If I had $500 to blow, I'd find out whether a media person could buy his/her way into the veep event.)

The area over around Nichols Lane already is swarming with police vehicles and various security personnel.

I can only hope the considerable public expenditure on security helps assure Whalen a successful fund-raiser.

Posted by jcb at 03:21 PM | Comments (4)

July 15, 2006

The bigger lid problem

Found out tonight that I'm worried about the 'coons, now that we've all got new garbage cans.

Was out on the patio, having a smoke, when four of them -- two adults and two teenage-size -- sauntered up the terrace before stopping when the spotted me. Passing the garbage can on the way in, I realized they'd be disappointed. I'm thinking they're gonna have trouble opening the heavier, hinged lid on the new one.

If that's so, and all over town, lean days are ahead for our 'coon buddies.

I've never minded when they stop on their regular rounds. They're neat, they don't dump the cans; just pop the lid and take exactly what they want, never leaving more of a mess than the occasional chewed-up bread sack or a few stale-bagel crumbs.

But what now, now that the cafeterias are closed? I suppose hunger may spur some 'coons to solve the bigger lid problem. Be interesting to see.

Posted by jcb at 12:28 AM | Comments (3)

July 13, 2006

Gathering in the dollars...

Vice-President Dick Cheney will arrive in Davenport Monday with approval ratings in about the same place as the president's -- in the toilet.

But his target audience on this visit is the minority who approve, and within that minority it's those with enough money to cough up $500 to $1,000 to listen to the vice president explain what a great congressman Mike Whalen would make.

The invitation-only reception at the home of Chuck and Jodi Ruhl will be but a small part of the high-powered money-raising effort Quad-Citians will see between now and November as congressional contests for open seats on both sides of the river turn into dollar-driven slugfests.

The numbers are going to be astounding -- obscene, actually -- to those of us who struggle with ordinary household budgets and watch in dismay as the monied crowd bids on our representatives. Whalen's already spent $544,000, just to get through the Republican primary. Bruce Braley spent $403,000 to get the Democratic nomination.

Besides Cheney, presidential adviser Karl Rove's already been in the district to raise funds for Whalen; John McCain is in the district this week, on a raise-money-for-Mike mission. Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh's been here for Braley, who also was tabbed last week to give the national Dems' response to President Bush's weekly radio address.

The high-profile events reflect the intense interest the national parties are taking in Iowa's First, where incumbent Jim Nussle is giving up the seat for a gubernatorial race. Democrats see the district, carried by John Kerry by 19,000 votes in 2004, as one in which they can gain one of the 15 or so seats they need to take control of Congress.

The spending in Illinois's 17th District hasn't been so outlandish so far, but with the withdrawal of incumbent Lane Evans, the district is suddenly in the national spotlight, too. A safe Democratic seat with Evans in the race, it's now in play. Both Republican Andrea Zinga and Democrat Phil Hare say they'll be reporting more than $200,000 cash on hand when they file finance reports this month. That's just the beginning: Hare's campaign says its goal is $1.4 million; national Republican PACs and officials will counter with massive infusions into Zinga's campaign.

A great deal of the money will be used for television ads that will quickly drive the dialogue to the lowest common denominator, a collection of code phrases, smears and distortion that will make thinking people ill and serve to misinform the unthinking.

Some lines of attack are easy to anticipate. Braley is a lawyer, and lawyers are pouring big bucks into his campaign -- $384,000 in the primary alone. The attack ads will sneeringly talk about "trial lawyers" as the greatest evil besetting the nation today. Lawyers ARE easy targets, but when the crowd that'll be paying for Whalen's campaign starts talking about "trial lawyers" what I hear is "fix the system so I can't get sued."

As an aside here, a story from Montana, where on a recent vacation I saw some ads from senatorial incumbent Republican Conrad Burns and Jon Tester, a crew-cut Democratic state legislator. The race is close, in part because Burns had $220,000 of Jack Abramoff's money in his pocket when the music stopped. The Burns ad features a barber talking about how Tester may have crew-cut but there's nothing all-American about him -- he's just a flag-burning, gay-loving, tax-hiking liberal who, besides that, is a lousy tipper. Tester countered with an ad featuring his real barber, who of course had a different view than the fake Republican barber. Among other things, the real barber says Tester is a decent tipper.

With the dialogue already at that level, my Montana friends are already cringing at what's still to come.

My recommendation is: Ignore the ads -- follow the money. Between the Federal Election Commission's website and sites like www.opensecrets.org and www.vote-smart.org the money is easier than ever to track. You can find out who's giving, by name, by industry sector and by interest group. Just figure out which interest groups you figure represent your interest, and vote for the candidate most of them are supporting.

By their donors you shall know them...

Posted by jcb at 02:26 PM | Comments (3)

July 12, 2006

Beals and his broken jaw

The 36th District Stuff post below includes an off and on discussion about James Beals and his broken jaw. Would have been a lot more comments but my toleration for anonymous smear artists is wearing pretty thin.

Anyway ... the jawbreaking incident occured Dec. 28, 2005, at Hollars Bar & Grill, 4050 27th St. in Moline. Beals played a game of darts with a stranger. He won. As he was telling a friend about the game, the loser "came up on side and hit him," then left.

The friend later told police that Beals "was acting cocky over winning."

Witnesses jotted down the license plate number of the pickup in which the loser left the bar, and a few hours later police arrested James M. Bray, 26, of 125 5th St. Silvis. He was "highly intoxicated" at the time of his arrest at the Torchlight in Silvis.

On Feb. 1, Bray pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery/causing bodily harm and was fined $100 and court costs.

After being struck, Beals was taken to Illini Hospital. A missing lower tooth was "imposted in the lower lip." His jaw was broken as well.

Beals has filed a damage against the bar's owners and Bray. The claim against the bar is based on the Dram Shop Act, which holds that bar owners can be held responsible for the acts of intoxicated patrons. Beals asks for "a sum not to exceed the statutory limits..."

The count against Bray says he "...without legal justification battered" Beals, who requests damages "in excess of $50,000 plus costs." A status hearing is scheduled later this month.

Sources for all the above are Beals lawsuit and documents in Bray's court file.

Posted by jcb at 06:32 PM | Comments (16)

July 11, 2006

Davenport things...

An open riverfront with unfettered public access equals good. Limited public access and blocked views equals not so good.

That's my conclusion after watching the Quad-Cities riverfront evolve for 34 years. Where factories and levees once made it generally difficult -- or impossible -- to get to long swaths of the river, green space, bicycle paths and public amenities now reign on both sides of the Mississippi.

The change isn't happenstance, but the result of conscious, sustained commitment by people and governments in both Iowa and Illinois. The right commitment it's been, too, in the long-term picture. That's why it's sad when some portion of the riverfront closes up.

Davenport's allowed one such closure, with its approval of Rhythm City's plan for a 10-story hotel at the site of the old Dock Restaurant, and is now facing a request for a second one. A developer want to throw up an eight-story luxury condominium building at 1065 East River Drive, in a .64-acre tract between Wakeen's Family Boating Center and the Boathouse Restaurant, both of which lease land from the city.

The site of the proposed condos, including river frontage, is privately owned, but the city gets two chances to review the idea. J.J. Conlon, the developer, wants the zoning changed from light industrial to planned development district, and wants to swap the river frontage for city-owned land on the non-river side. Maybe there's a decent deal to be made there, if city fathers think more high-rises on the riverfront is really the right plan. I don't.


The city's now facing what was likely an inevitable challenge to the speed cameras the council decided last year to stick up at various places around town. The computerized system detects speeding cars, takes a picture that captures the license number and in due time the speeding ticket arrives in the mail.

A guy named Thomas Seymour got one and decided to fight it, contending that there's no proof he was driving the car and that he is in effect being asked to prove he's innocent, which of course is backward to the way things are supposed to work. The Iowa Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has joined the case.

The city argued in court that the tickets are civil rather than criminal matters, and therefore the presumption of innocence has nothing to do with it. There'll be more arguing before a judge rules who's right.

I'm hoping he goes with Seymour. The speed cameras and the red-light cameras bring a Big Brother-feel to the town that's unpleasant, though that might be tolerable if the cameras provided some measurable increase in safety. Haven't seen any statistics that would indicate that's the case. What's measurable is the revenue to the city -- $220,000 or so in just more than 10 months.

The picture I get is that the cameras are nothing more than automated, city-sanctioned pickpockets.

Posted by jcb at 10:30 AM | Comments (3)

July 09, 2006

17th websites

Phil Hare now has a website up www.friendsofphilhare.com. Not much there yet.

Andrea Zinga's site has been up for a while.

The interested should bookmark both.

Posted by jcb at 10:25 PM | Comments (7)

July 06, 2006

Cheap and easy

Decrying the state of American politics is cheap and easy sport these days. Not much fun in it, really.

Despair more than "fun" is appropriate in places like Illinois, which is enduring a third consectutive gubernatorial election in which executive corruption is a dominating theme.

Back in 1998 Republican George Ryan was elected governor after a campaign he spent fending off questions about investigations into his conduct as secretary of state. Nothing there, he said, and if there was, it was the fault of underlings whose actions he knew nothing about.

By 2002, the bloodhounds of U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald were so close and baying so loudly that even the brassy Ryan chose retirement over seeking a second term. (Didn't save him. Indictment and conviction followed.)

Enter Democrat Rod Blagojevich, who campaigned as the anti-Ryan, the man who would clean up state government. He's seeking re-election now, fending off questions about the several investigations into his hiring and contract-awarding practices. Nothing there, he says, and if there is, it's the fault of underlings whose actions he knows nothing about.

May be a lot of "know nothing" involved, given Mr. Fitzgerald's declaration that "our investigation has now implicated multiple state agencies and departments and we have developed a number of credible witnesses" to fraudulent hiring practices.

The statement gave Republican Judy Baar Topinka a bigger club with which to beat Blagojevich, who in the meantime has been busy raising the specter of George Ryan. Topinka, the gov says, was state treasurer during the Ryan party and should have done more to shut it down.

The best that can be anticipated is that, through the flying mud, there may be an occasional mention of pension funding, the state debt, the ever-dreary condition of the schools and other such matters.

In the meantime, people who might well serve us better often find it difficult to get involved. In Cook County an eerily familiar scenario is playing out. County Board President John Stroger won the March primary and a week later had a stroke. No one but family and doctors have seen him since. This week, he issued a letter declining the nomination and recommending that his son, Todd, replace him on the ballot. The letter was unsigned. Eyebrows went up; a second version, containing a scrawled signature, appeared the next day.

Democratic committeemen will decide who the nominee will be. Good luck to any candidate not named Stroger.

In the 17th Congressional District version of this soap opera, at least seven willing people were deprived of the chance of a full-blown shot at the Democratic nomination after incumbent Lane Evans won and then declined the nomination. Lots of people feeling shut out, because, well, they were. Before that, of course, was the 36th Senatorial District thing, where we swapped the old Sen. Jacobs for a new Sen. Jacobs in advance of the primary election.

Giving the favored one an appointment in advance of an election is a practice of both parties, old and if not honorable, at least common. Its evils include a hardening of the institutional arteries, which in turn contributes to consectutive gubernatorial campaigns in which the major issue will be who's the Biggest Crook.

The major battlefield will be television, which will dispense vicious ads, the enormous cost of which will be borne by people who are going to expect something in return for their investment: Honest, efficient government probably doesn't top many of the wish lists.

Is it too late for an independent candidacy? A place to turn for those many people who are more than ready to declare a pox on the houses of both major parties?

Posted by jcb at 10:35 PM | Comments (20)

July 05, 2006

Religion and politics....

Down in the hills of Southwest Missouri, where I grew up, a commonly imparted bit of wisdom was "don't mix religion and politics." Sound advice, on several levels.

The Everyone Loves Hillary discussion on campaign finances has drifted off topic, onto religion and politics. So, ignoring that good advice from Missouri, let's mix them, and try to be civil as we stir. The discussion so far:

Posted by: NMP at June 28, 2006 09:26 PM: Since Clinton and Obama both just came out touting the need to woo back people who celebrate religion and faith where does that take the Party that has unleashed the attack dogs on those of Christian faith over the last several decades? Can either of the two find someone in the party that can woo the Christian voters in the multitudes they seek?

Will they soften their positions on many issues that Christians consider important or will they do as I have heard expressed so far in that they are just rewording the same pitches with Christian happy talk? I do not think happy talk that just pays lip service to issues will get them the voters they are looking for. And what will they do with the ravenous attack dogs that use the Internet and media as a Coliseum for their sacrificial entertainment of the religious faithful. Can or will the rabid in the Party withdraw their fangs when talking on religious points and issues? It is obvious Hillary (who looks like a good candidate) unlike the far left God haters of the party, realizes that advantage and need to draw back the voters lost in the 80’s and 90’s during the Democrat systematic suppression and purge of believers in God. It is evident both her and Obama see the move as crucial to future Presidential elections.

Posted by: Jim Mowen at June 29, 2006 07:45 AM: The article in the D/A seemed to be the standard 'trying to appease the Christian vote' but as suggested, it seems difficult to remain faithful to the Democrat base (which is needed to proceed) and appease the faith community.
Let's face it, the Democrat Party (as Lane Evans showed, by his votes) is the party that is for abortion, taking 'under God' out of the Pledge and gay-marriage (not exactly issues that will give a Christian a warm-fuzzy).
It is one thing to talk faith, it is another to govern in a manner that is consistent with faith (and that will bridge the gap that the Democrat Party seems to have with the faith community).

Posted by: Values Matter at June 29, 2006 11:09 AM: I am a Democrat of faith, a former Little League coach, heavily involved with my kids' education & lives, who resents the constant attempt by right-wingers to paint us as lacking in faith. Every Democrat I know in the Quad Cities adheres to his or her faith. Our very politics -- education, health care, environment -- is guided by our faith.
The last thing I need from conservatives is a lecture on faith.
Posted by: Jim Mowen at June 29, 2006 09:30 PM:
Of course, the question becomes...faith in what? I am talking about being a Christian (which means 'Christ-follower). I do not intend on insulting anyone, but I do not understand how one supports the issues that I mentioned (pro-abortion, taking 'under God' out of the pledge and gay marriage) and can reconcile that with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
You use the same old, "education, healthcare, environment, (and you forgot...war, poverty, etc)" as though Conservatives do not believe in those issues. The fact is that conservative believe in these issues every bit as much as liberals, we just disagree on the route in which our government should be involved - and conservatives tend to believe more in empowering the individual to deal with these issues, rather than relying on government to solve all of our problems.

Posted by: values matter at July 5, 2006 12:58 PM: To Jim Mowen ... I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ by my quiet adherence to faith and values and attending church. I don't need that language in the public dialogue, but nor do I oppose that. That's a false issue. Every Sunday and every day of the week you can follow Christ.
Christ believed in tolerance and diversity and so, therefore, the issue of gay marriage or gay unions should not be so earth shattering.
The real issue of faith is that faith guides the actions of both political parties. Better education, better health care, more tolerance and diversity, stopping child abuse, ending poverty -- those are goals tied directly to faith.

Posted by: Jim Mowen at July 5, 2006 06:10 PM: 1. Jesus taught many things but nowhere did He teach 'quiet adherence.' He was anything but 'quiet' in what He did.

2. "Christ believed in tolerance and diversity" - He did? Please show me a scripture or two that might lead one to that conclusion (I believe that you will look for a long time). Jesus loved all, as any Christ-follower should do as well, but He did not condone behavior that He found sinful.

3. I have absolutely nothing but agreement with your last statement - every one of the issues that you identify should be addressed by our political leaders (whether they are people of faith or not).

Posted by jcb at 09:01 PM | Comments (32)

July 04, 2006

On fireworks and flag-burning

The snap of firecrackers and bottle rockets echoes through the neighborhood, mixed with heavier stuff now and then. Been going on since Saturday, along with several decent home fireworks shows. I don't mind -- enjoy it actually. May even have been a few things launched out of my yard when we got home from the Rock Island-Davenport show last night.

I watched from the Arsenal Bridge, close enough for a great view. Reflections off the river were a bonus. Downtown Davenport blazed with lights; the Skybridge was, of course, red, white and blue. The hill above downtown sprouted fireworks, too. Pretty spectacular altogether.

John Adams would approve. Back in July, 1776, with the Declaration newly approved, he wrote to Abigail, saying the day ''ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

We're with you, Mr. Adams, even if a lot of the fireworks are illegal now and even if a good many of the people setting them off may never have heard of you.

So, here's an idea: Iowa and Illinois and the other PC states that ban fireworks ought to give it up, legalize them; just make all purchasers pass a test on the events of July 4, 1776.


July 4 is as good a time as any, too, to say again that amending the Constitution to ban flag-burning is a downright terrible idea. It keeps coming back though, pushed by cheap politicians looking for cheap applause, selling out great principles as they do so.

The latest attempt to provose a Constitutional amendment fell short in the Senate by a single vote last week. (Roll call.)

It's sad and scary that 66 United States Senators were willing to vote for this bit of nonsense. They need to re-read -- or finally read -- United States v. Eichman, the 1990 case in which the Supreme Court reiterated its reasoning on the flag-burning issue.

Among other things, the court said, "since any suggestion that the Government's interest in suppressing speech becomes more weighty as popular opposition to that speech grows is foreign to the First Amendment. While flag desecration -- like virulent ethnic and religious epithets, vulgar repudiations of the draft, and scurrilous caricatures -- is deeply offensive to many, the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."

The politicians who question that reasoning would protect freedom's symbol while destroying its essence.

Posted by jcb at 11:50 PM | Comments (2)