Posts Tagged ‘progressive’

Donnelly re-elected; possible prospects for 2nd district progressives

November 24, 2008

By now most will know that Rep. Joe Donnelly was re-elected with 67% of the vote. Puckett received 30% with Libertarian Mark Vogel coming in at about 3%.

This is, of course, a landlside victory. But it’s worth considering that Donnelly did not face a serious opponent and Donnelly also surely benefited from it being a strong Democratic year. Donnelly has successfully portrayed himself as a conservative Democrat, a persona apparently palatable enough for the districts otherwise GOP-leaning citizens to cross lines in significant numbers to vote for him. There was never any real question that Donnelly would be re-elected.

It will be very interesting, however, to see what kind of relationship develops between Donnelly and the incoming Obama administration. Donnelly, as part of the Blue Dog Caucus, will be potentially determinative to the success or failure of some of the more progressive moves the new Democrat presidency and Congressional majorities might hope to enact.

If Donnelly emerges as a conservative dissenter within Democratic Party, he can expect the likelihood of an progressive challenge in the 2010 Democratic primary. Til then, it’s up to the citizens of the 2nd district to continue organizing and advocating for progressive values and action. The ground has to move beneath Donnelly’s feet; the ‘center’ must be nudged to the left by grassroots movement work. There’s certainly such activity in the 2nd district– here’s hoping it continues to grow during the next two years.

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Congressman chats with residents

February 13, 2008

From the Goshen News:

By JESSE DAVIS

[Donnelly Watch comments in Red]

Illegal immigration, energy independence, jobs and the War in Iraq were the biggest concerns local residents raised with Congressman Joe Donnelly, D-IN, during his “Congress on your Corner” session at Martin’s Supermarket in Goshen Sunday afternoon.

Dixie Robinson, city councilwoman for Goshen’s 2nd District, was among the first to broach the issue of illegal immigration, which dominated much of the discussion. She commented that local government argues that it is a federal problem and the federal government underenforces its own policies. Donnelly concurred regarding the federal level.

“It seems as though everybody has got their act together except for the federal guys,” Donnelly said, adding that in 2005 there were only three enforcement cases, “which is effectively zero enforcement.”

Donnelly has been a vocal supporter of the SAVE Act, a “three-part plan to drastically reduce illegal immigration by securing our borders, requiring employer verification of prospective employees’ legal status, and bolstering resources needed for enforcement of our immigration laws,” according to a statement released by his office Wednesday. He also confirmed for one attendee that Indiana only employs four ICE agents.

Other issues raised by attendees with regard to the immigration problem were drunk drivers, unlicensed drivers, crowded post offices on Friday afternoons due to Hispanics sending money home, the flooding of the job market with workers and an increase in signs written in Spanish.

[Ok, so immigration is definitely an important issue. But Donnelly’s one-dimensional ‘enforcement’ position reduces immigration to an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality and ignores the larger, quite complex factors at play. Donnelly’s inability (or unwillingness) to stand for principles of human rights and speak to the reality of gross international economic inequality as a primary element to this whole issue is indicative of his overall behavior as our Congressman thus far.]

The importance of energy independence also drew many comments. According to Donnelly, the biggest problems with the United States’ current situation are the exporting of oil from Alaska to Japan and the oil industry’s connection with the Middle East.

“We’re paying for our own war effort, then turning to Saudi sheiks and buying their oil. It’s like we’re funding both sides,” he said.

[I guess the above statement attributed to Donnelly constitutes this articles coverage of the discussion of the Iraq War. What about Donnelly’s votes in regard to the War in Iraq?]

Donnelly suggested several options to begin the trek to energy independence, commenting on his publicly stated position that the United States should be drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Pointing to the future, he explained that five years from now, ethanol will be manufactured from corn stalks alone, allowing the actual corn to be used for its original purposes and bringing the cost of grain back down.

[Joe, biofuels (or more accurately agro-fuels) are not a sustainable solution. Carbon emissions are a major problem and trying to switch one industrialized, privately-held, and centralized fuel source for another isn’t going to help us make the cultural changes so vital to our long-term survival as a species.]

Although attendance was initially light, 14 people had joined the discussion before its end.

“I thought it was great to have someone sit down with you and listen to your problems,” Robinson said.

When asked why he chose to hold a “Congress on your Corner” session in a location outside of his district, Donnelly stated his desire to ensure the ability of all his constituents to have access to him in order to express their concerns.

“More than anything, it’s about bringing the office to Goshen to hear the people and help work on their problems,” he said.

Tony Zirkle, the creative candidate

February 9, 2008

From Progressives, South Bend

by Don Wheeler

I noted with some interest a “Brief” which appeared in the South Bend Tribune. As is often the case, I think they missed the point.

It’s short, so I’ll reprint it:

Zirkle to provide free consultation
— South Bend

Tony Zirkle, a Republican candidate for Indiana’s 2nd district Congress seat, will open his law office on Sunday to provide free 10-minute legal consultations for anyone seeking to a suspended Indiana driver’s license reinstated.

Zirkle’s law office is at 110 N. Main St. The offer is open to any resident of Indiana’s 2nd District. The office will be open from 8am to noon and from 1 to 5pm. To make an appointment call (574) 968-8557. If demand is great, Zirkle will extend the service on future Sundays.

“I’ll tell them what they need to do to get their license validated again, ” Zirkle said. Cases involving driver’s license issues make up 10 to 15 percent of Zirkle’s practice, but he said he isn’t offering the consultations to attract more clients. “I can refer them out. I’m not doing this to get business,” he said.

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Notice who is eligible? Any resident of the 2nd Congressional District. What is the jurisdiction Mr. Zirkle seeks to represent? The 2nd Congressional District.

I don’t think the problem here is that Mr. Zirkle is trying to drum up business. Actually, this seems to be a quite legitimate way to try to drum up business.

No…buying votes is what comes to mind – or something like it.

Just me thinking out loud.

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Murtha links pullout to war funding bill

February 8, 2008

From the Associated Press/USA Today

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said Thursday that he is preparing legislation that would give President Bush the war funding he wants this year, but on the condition that troops leave Iraq by the end of December.

Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, said he’ll ask for a March vote on a bill that also would require that troops be fully trained and equipped when deployed.

Similar bills won House approval last year only to fail in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrower margin of control and 60 votes are needed to overcome procedural hurdles.

Murtha said he’s confident his bill will pass the House, but he’s not sure about the Senate. Bush has requested about $189 billion for operation/s in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress has approved $87 billion.

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Is there any question as to how Congressman Donnelly is likely to vote on such a war funding bill?

How will citizens of the 2nd district respond to the prospects for (yet another) war funding bill coming before the House of Representatives?

Donnelly endorses immigration bill

February 6, 2008

From the Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, IN)

Congressman Joe Donnelly has endorsed what he describes as a bipartisan measure aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

In a news release, Donnelly voiced support for a measure introduced by Congressman Heath Shuler, D-NC, called the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement, or SAVE, Act offers a three-part plan to reduce illegal immigration by securing the nation’s borders, requiring employer verification of prospective employees’ legal status and bolstering resources needed for enforcement of our immigration laws. Donnelly is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

“Our immigration system is broken,” said Donnelly, D-Ind. “Under the current administration, our immigration policy has failed to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants and to sufficiently enforce the law. I am committed to supporting a solution to the immigration problem. I believe the SAVE Act is an important first step.”

Specifically, the SAVE Act calls for the hiring of 8,000 new border patrol agents. In addition, the legislation provides the tools and resources necessary to recruit and retain these agents, as well as the technology and equipment they need to protect the border effectively.

“Secure borders are fundamental to our national security and a critical component of a sound immigration policy,” Donnelly said. “The SAVE Act would ensure that we are not understaffing our borders, and that Border Patrol Agents are equipped with the proper training and technology to do their jobs effectively.”

The SAVE Act would also require use of the E-Verify program by all employers within four years to ensure that their employees are here legally. The program would begin with the federal government, federal contractors and employers with 250 employees or more. Smaller businesses would be phased in over a four-year period.

“Until we crack down on businesses that employ illegal workers, the number of illegal immigrants in this country will continue to grow,” said Donnelly.

Finally, this act would increase the enforcement capacity of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, by employing more agents and training additional state and local law enforcement personnel. The legislation would also expedite the removal of illegal immigrants by expanding detention capacity and increasing the number of Federal District Court judges.

“Illegal immigration has become nothing short of a crisis in this country,” Donnelly said. “The SAVE Act offers an immigration policy that strengthens our borders and enforces our employment laws. I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get the bill to the floor.”

GOP to use earmarks issue on foes

February 5, 2008

From the Washington Times: 

Republican strategists say freshmen House Democrats are vulnerable to charges they broke 2006 campaign promises to fight pork-barrel spending as a result of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to disregard Republican calls for more earmark reforms.

Democrats facing criticism include Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas, whose 2006 upset victory over incumbent Republican Jim Ryun was in part due to her pledge to end abuse of earmarks, the process by which members slip pet projects into spending bills.

“Voters simply cannot trust Boyda to keep her promise to reform the earmark process,” said Kyle Robertson, campaign manager for Mr. Ryun, who is seeking a rematch. “Boyda know she has to rely on Speaker Pelosi funneling money her way so Democrats can keep the seat.”

The criticism of Mrs. Boyda, who declined to respond, reflects a national Republican strategy to reclaim the party’s reputation for fiscal responsibility and turn the pork-spending issue against Democrats.

Democratic targets include freshman Reps. Bruce Braley of Iowa, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Nick Lampson of Texas, Tim Mahoney of Florida and Zack Space of Ohio, according to Republican Party officials.

All serve in Republican-leaning districts and campaigned strongly against wasteful pork spending in 2006.

The strategy took shape last week when Mrs. Pelosi, of California, ended the caucus’ annual retreat without addressing the earmark issue, snubbing House Republicans who proposed a bipartisan committee to write reform measures and a moratorium on earmarks.

“House Republicans will use every means available to force votes on this issue until the earmark process is brought to an immediate halt,” House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, of Ohio, said yesterday. “American families are fed up with seeing their hard-earned tax dollars squandered by Washington politicians, particularly at a time when the middle class is being squeezed by the rising cost of living.”

Mrs. Pelosi said she is open to ideas to improve the earmark system. But she stood by the reforms adopted last year by the Democrat-led Congress, requiring members to attach their names to their earmarks and reducing the amount of earmarks to $13 billion, half the amount in 2006 and the lowest level since 2000.

“The Republicans are the last people who should be lecturing on earmark reform,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Doug Thornell. “They have absolutely no credibility on this issue.”

He noted that under Republican rule, pork-spending jumped from $12 billion in 1999 to $29 billion in 2006.

But a national Republican official said the Democrats’ silence on earmark reform this year signaled a shift away from campaign promises that helped them win the majority.

“They talked a big game in 2006, but now Democrats have become quite adept at playing the Washington parlor game of backroom dealing,” the official said. “This will catch up with them on the campaign trail.”