Durbin Does Good

Via Ralph

Durbin calls for a pardon

WASHINGTON — President Bush should pardon six Army reservists from Ohio who were court-martialed for taking equipment to carry out their mission in Iraq, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday.

In a letter to the president, Durbin said the members of the 656th Transportation Company may have committed a technical violation and an error in judgment but the military should not have treated this mistake as a felony.

“The punishment is completely out of step with the violation,” Durbin said. “Soldiers have been scavenging for equipment on battlefields from the time of the Romans to the present day. … Yes, they made a mistake, but it was not so someone could get rich; these soldiers were trying to protect their unit and accomplish their mission.”

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) earlier asked the Army to grant clemency to the reservists from the unit, which is headquartered in Springfield, Ohio.

Six reservists, including two veteran officers who had received Bronze Stars, were court-martialed for commandeering two tractors and two trailers left in Kuwait by other U.S. units that had already moved into Iraq and for stripping a third vehicle for parts they needed to repair their trucks.

Durbin said the 656th had played a crucial role in maintaining the gasoline supply between Balad Airfield and Tikrit.

Ummm…they didn’t make a mistake. They improvised, overcame and adapted. Wrong service, but that isn’t something to be prosecuted.

I’m Not the Only One

Who remembers the idiotic move by then Congressman Blagorgeous to try and require that napalm shipments be announced to communities they were being shipped through. This makes about as much sense as announcing when gasoline is being shipped through your community–actually less sense.

Napalm is essentially a jelly form of gasoline liked by militaries because it sticks to things like people and continues to burn unlike liquid gasoline that burns itself up too quickly.

Shipping it is safer than gasoline because if there is a spill, it doesn’t leak into the ground rapidly or spread itself nearly as wide as regular gasoline. But leaving it tanks does open up the chance that it will slowly leak out and enter things like water supplies where it is stored. Shipping it for permanent diposal is a good strategy and Blagojevich spent a bunch of time fighting it based on it having a scary name.

I’m Slow

and it’ll probably continue through the 9th of January just to warn you. Between the holidays, several projects coming to a head and a professional conference coming up, my time has been pretty slim. I should be posting more often than the last couple weeks, but don’t expect the usual volume until after the 9th or 10th. Political news slows down during this period anyway.

Republican Cattle Calls

One can’t even do a GOP Republican Cattle Call for any office because there are too many possible combinations. Rich Miller’s column from two weeks ago addresses a bunch.

Lauzen seems ready to jump in as well. Birkett is the Democrats’ wet dream. Few politicians are simply as unlikeable as he is. His bigger challenge is that if he challenges Madigan for AG, last time everyone assumed she’d be a plant from her father, but has shown an admirable independent streak and impressed a lot of people–she’ll be hard to target for anyone. Depending on who moves around, the only potentially vulnerable Dem in position is Blagojevich with the Treasurer’s spot possibly an open seat. If Hynes doesn’t take another run, that’ll be two open slots and a race for Governor leaving a nearly impossible run against White and an uphill race against Madigan.

Illinois Republicans aren’t in a strong position for this cycle though the biggest spot is up for a serious challenge.

I Didn’t Touch on the Politics

Because Miller got there first in his weekly column. It’s a winner, though one has to wonder why the Guv isn’t focused on other issues. It’s especially a winner with married women who are a key demographic.

And obviously parents need to be more involved in these things as Miller points out. What I’ll say in addition is that while parents need to pay more attention to what media their kids are consuming, that doesn’t mean that retailers don’t have a moral responsibility to watch out for kids. It’d be nice, if like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) the rating system was enforced at the buying or renting point and then parents can override that decision by accompanying the kids, but that didn’t happen.

Even if the Governor’s plan isn’t enacted as law, who wants to bet the industry starts paying attention more?

Sticking a Fork in the Free Book Program

Capitol Fax also has a bit on how the Govenor made a splashy announcement on a free book program for young children, but now it has been dropped without a peep.

When I read the initial idea, I wondered why one wouldn’t utilize Parents as Teachers as the distribution mechanism….

Not flashy enough even though it exists and would be relatively cheap.

One That I Won’t Criticize Him Much For….

I know the correct view in the blogosphere is that The Blagorgeous is a right wing fascist nanny state leftist who should be more libertarian about video games, but I’m at a loss as to why any decent business is selling Leisure Suit Larry to children. Or why it’s so absurd as to suggest kids shouldn’t be able to buy just any video game off the shelf.

Let’s be clear about the proposal. It affects children and children only. There are not limitations on what adults can buy or rent. We keep children from buying many things including sexually explicit movies and magazines.

Unless one argues that pornography should be available to children who want it and only it’s the parents responsibility to keep it from them even though the kids could theoretically buy it themselves, the issue is essentially the same except it includes violence as well. I see no reason that a responsible business shouldn’t already be restricting sales of such games to minors if they carry them.

Is he jumping on an issue and making a big public show of it? Absolutely. And welcome to politics, but that doesn’t make the position horrible.

There are materials we restrict from minors and we do it for a reason–it’s adult subject matter and it affects a developing mind more than an adult’s.

Should a 17 year old be able to play Doom? Most probably can handle it, but their parents can decide that and then the next year the adult can decide for himself or herself. Should a 10 year old play Doom? No. And if a parent wants to buy it for their kid, well, the law would allow them to be irresponsible, but the adult decides.

Rich Miller has a hysterical bit analyzing the Governor’s announcement scheming.

All that said, trying to write the legal definition narrow enough to pass Constitutional muster on the violence bit will be really difficult.

New Blogs

Maureen Ryan of the Trib is doing the Watcher on the Trib Site. It’s very good and contains lots of good TV gossip. I’m already a fan and will be permalinking soon.

Other new sites include
Decatur Democrat A good site for Macon County and downstate politics

WillyNilly focusing on Peoria

IlPundit, my favorite new one, though he hasn’t posted in a while–he used to post in comments under SpringfieldDem and I’m a fan of his.

Life Liberty and Chocolate with a reference to Catwoman as the author. I’m a sucker for Batman references.

Write Your Congressman

In 1964, three brave Civil Rights Volunteers, James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, were murdered in Mississippi for trying to help African Americans the right to vote. Although the murderers were identified, they were never tried, due to the racism of the time. Today, there is a growing movement, in Mississippi and across the nation, to bring the all of the killers to justice.

Congress is currently considering H.Con 457 – a resolution that calls on the Department Of Justice to offer their assistance to the State Of Mississippi in order to reopen the “Mississippi Burning” murder case. I am asking you to take five minutes today to write your Congressional Representative and ask them to support the resolution.

By clicking on the link below: you will find all of the information you need to

? Find your Congressperson
? Copy and paste a message regarding the reolution
? Read the resolution
? Learn more about the case
? Get more information

THANK YOU in advance for your help! James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman gave their lives for the cause of justice. We must not let them be forgotten – the murderers must be brought to justice! Please write to your Representative today!

Here is the link: http://www6.district125.k12.il.us/~bbradfor/howyoucanhelp.html

I know Mark Kirk has already signed on as well as Jackson and Davis. That this is being done by students make it all the better. Other bloggers–consider posting as well.

Pollster Chest Beating

Rod McCulloch compared his statewide results to the final results and he shows pretty good numbers this cycle (his 8th District poll kinda stunk, but that happens)

For the second straight election cycle, the most accurate statewide Illinois polling numbers came from McCulloch Research & Polling, a Chicago-based polling company, according to an analysis released by the firm today.

In both the Illinois U.S. Senate race, and the Presidential race in Illinois in 2004, MRP?s final polling results, were the most accurate when compared to other polling firms? numbers.

In the Presidential race, McCulloch?s October, 2004 Illinois poll, released the day before the election, showed Senator John Kerry with a lead of exactly ten percentage points. His final margin in the the state was actually 9.92%, or only .08% off of the Illinois poll.

Similarly, the Illinois Poll showed Barack Obama?s final percentage at 70.1%. He actually received 69.9% of the vote from Illinois voters on election day, or a difference of .2%.

While all statewide polls had Democrats John Kerry and Barack Obama leading consistently throughout the campaign, their final numbers and margins of victory were all over the map, depending on which poll you read, according to Rod McCulloch, the company?s pollster.

In the Presidential race, other polls released late in the campaign showed Senator Kerry?s lead anywhere from 8% (Chicago Tribune) to 14% (Research 2000). The final poll from SurveyUSA showed a 12% Kerry lead. Only McCulloch Research & Polling had the margin right.

In the Senate race, again, all surveys showed a solid lead for State Senator Barack Obama , but every poll except the October Illinois poll underestimated Mr. Obama?s strength in the polls. Rasmussen Research?s final survey showed Mr. Obama?s total at 64%, while the Chicago Tribune had him at 66%, Survey USA also at 66%, and Research 2000 at 67%. Again, the October Illinois Poll was the only one right on the money with regards to Mr. Obama?s final vote percentage.

These results mirror what happened in the 2002 Illinois Governor?s race, where again McCulloch Research & Polling was the most accurate. In that race, MRP?s October, 2002 Illinois poll, released the day before the election, showed the margin of victory for then Congressman Rod Blagojevich to be 6.8%. The final margin for Mr. Blagojevich was 7.12%, according to the State Board of Elections, for a difference of .34%.

When compared to other polls released late in that campaign, MRP again comes out on top. In a poll released on November 1, 2002, Zogby actually had Jim Ryan winning that race by .3%. Other polls released in the final days of the campaign were varied. Survey USA had Mr. Blagojevich?s lead at 14%, KRC Comm had it at 12%, Research 2000 showed a 11% margin, and the Chicago Tribune weighed in with a 10% spread.

What does this mean? He’s doing a good job on statewide polls over the last couple cycles.

Where Have I Been

I know, slow lately. I’ve been doing some other writing as well as battling a computer virus and a cold/sinus issue sweeping through the house.

One article I wrote got picked up in the St. Louis American’s Editorial

And the Mayor who said:

Because of the media circus, a lot of people are confused about what is
happening in the St. Louis Public Schools. I thought this piece by the
Arch City Chronicle was fair, balanced and thoughtful. I hope you find
it helpful.

I am considering a lawsuit for his use of Fair and Balanced-given Fox News I consider this a libelous statement.

And here is the actual issue if you want to read it. The most recent ACC has an article on Open Court Reading System as well. The forthecoming one next week will include a piece on the District contract.

I also wrote a bit in The Commonspace on the electoral outcome in Missouri and what it means to St. Louis.