As a lifelong Illinoisan and a political junkie, I’ve come to expect bizarre things from our state’s politicians. However, I don’t think I’ve seen anything as bizarre in recent Illinois political history as this petition-circulating stunt by the campaign Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk:
David Applegate, a staff member for Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-Ill.) Senate campaign, was walking around at the Columbus Day parade in Chicago when he was approached by a woman with a clipboard.
She asked him if he wanted to sign a petition. That was odd in itself, since Applegate was wearing a Duckworth campaign shirt, and the woman was wearing a campaign shirt for Sen. Mark Kirk (R), whom Duckworth is trying to unseat. It got weirder when she said the petition was about raising the minimum wage, an issue Kirk doesn’t even support.
Applegate, confused, said he worked for Duckworth, and the woman walked away. He saw her again later, standing with another woman who was also wearing a Kirk shirt and holding a clipboard. He got closer and looked over one of their shoulders. There were “raise the wage” stickers covering the tops of their petitions, but peeking out from underneath them was Mark Kirk’s printed name.
You’re probably not going to believe me when I say this, but it’s true…an individual working for the Kirk campaign (not sure if it was a volunteer or paid campaign worker) tried to disguise nominating petitions to get Kirk on the Republican primary ballot for U.S. Senate here in Illinois as petitions for an effort to raise the minimum wage in Illinois, something that Kirk has strongly opposed. That is extremely unethical for the Kirk campaign to try to deceive Illinois voters that way.
With a whopping 91% of the vote, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates) has won the MoveOn Illinois U.S. Senate email straw poll. That means that Duckworth has been endorsed by MoveOn, a progressive political organization.
If I’m not mistaken, one must have been from Illinois and have been on MoveOn’s email list in order to get a ballot (for the record, I received an email ballot and voted for Duckworth). Although Wikipedia lists three candidates (Duckworth, former Chicago School Board member Andrea Zopp, and radiologist Robert Marshall) as running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, only Duckworth and Zopp appeared on MoveOn’s straw poll ballot.
The email in which MoveOn announced the straw poll results emphasized Duckworth’s military service (she lost both of her legs after a Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting over Iraq in 2004 was shot down) and support for the nuclear deal with Iran and attacked Republican incumbent Mark Kirk for being one of the most vocal opponents of the Iran deal:
The results are in, and MoveOn members in Illinois have voted overwhelmingly to endorse Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate!
Rep. Duckworth knows the costs of war more than most, having served in Iraq as a helicopter pilot before losing both of her legs in combat…
In contrast, current Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is one of the biggest war hawks in all of Congress. In addition to voting to invade Iraq, he railed against President Obama for pursuing diplomacy with Iran, even claiming that the President’s goal was to “get nukes to Iran.”
Make no mistake about it, Mark Kirk is dead wrong when it comes to his absurd claim that the Iran deal would result in President Obama giving nuclear weapons to Iran. In fact, the Iran deal would keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands and prevent another war that would cost thousands of American lives and billions of American taxpayer dollars. MoveOn members in Illinois have made it clear that Tammy Duckworth would be a better Democratic challenger to Kirk than Andrea Zopp, who voted for Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close dozens of Chicago public schools, mostly in predominantly-black neighborhoods, would be.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is, once again, making some downright offensive statements. This time, he (figuratively) put his foot in his mouth while talking about the fact that fellow U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is also a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has no wife:
“I’ve been joking with Lindsey, cuz he doesn’t have—did you see that?—have a rotating first lady. He’s a bro with no ho. That’s what we’d say on the South Side.”
Kirk the Jerk’s remarks were offensive for two reasons. First, he pandered to the black community. Secondly, he said something incredibly sexist about women.
Kirk the Jerk pandered to black Illinoisans in a absolutely ridiculous way. Not all black people in Illinois refer to men as “bros” and women as “hoes”. In fact, most black Illinoisans would find Kirk talking in that manner to be downright offensive. Additionally, Kirk the Jerk also implied that all women are prostitutes (“ho” is a slang term for a prostitute), which is flagrantly sexist.
Keep in mind that Kirk the Jerk is about as much of a South Sider as I am. (“South Side” refers to the predominantly-black South Side of the Chicago). Kirk is from Highland Park, a mostly upper middle class/wealthy suburban community in Lake County (I’m not sure where he currently lives), and I’m from Westville, a mostly poor/working class former coal mining town in Vermilion County, neither of which come even close to being like the South Side of Chicago.
Earlier today, a framework was announced in the ongoing talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations (the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany) in an effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies. There is a June 30 deadline for a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations.
It’s not just hawkish American politicians who are trying to sabotage diplomacy with Iran. Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Likud party and the Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, reiterated Israel’s commitment to sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal, saying that Israeli officials will continue their efforts to “explain and persuade the world in hopes of preventing a bad (final) agreement”.
Make no mistake about it, Israel and our own country’s warmongering politicians are the biggest threats to the United States. People like those U.S. Senators who signed the traitorous Tom Cotton letter, people like those in Israel who support their own country’s self-destruction, and people like those Republican presidential candidates who call for the U.S. to “stand with Israel” by opposing diplomacy with Iran are putting America at risk of a nuclear attack by Iran. That’s because sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies.
If you’re standing with Israel and opposing diplomacy with Iran, you’re effectively opposing the national security of the United States of America.
I find it highly outrageous that 47 members of the United States Senate, all Republicans, signed a letter in a blatant attempt to undermine attempts at negotiating a deal with Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, apparently violating the federal Logan Act in signing the letter.
The 47 Senators who signed the Cotton Letter are as follows:
Richard Shelby of Alabama
Jeff Sessions of Alabama
Dan Sullivan of Alaska
John McCain of Arizona
John Boozman of Arkansas
Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the ringleader of the effort to undermine diplomacy with Iran
Cory Gardner of Colorado
Marco Rubio of Florida
Johnny Isakson of Georgia
David Perdue of Georgia
Mike Crapo of Idaho
Jim Risch of Idaho
Mark Kirk of Illinois
Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Joni Ernst of Iowa
Pat Roberts of Kansas
Jerry Moran of Kansas
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader
Rand Paul of Kentucky
David Vitter of Louisiana
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
Roger Wicker of Mississippi
Roy Blunt of Missouri
Steve Daines of Montana
Deb Fischer of Nebraska
Ben Sasse of Nebraska
Dean Heller of Nevada
Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire
Richard Burr of North Carolina
Thom Tillis of North Carolina
John Hoeven of North Dakota
Rob Portman of Ohio
Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
James Lankford of Oklahoma
Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Tim Scott of South Carolina
John Thune of South Dakota
Mike Rounds of South Dakota
John Cornyn of Texas
Ted Cruz of Texas
Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Senate President Pro Tempore
Mike Lee of Utah
Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
Mike Enzi of Wyoming
John Barrasso of Wyoming
All 47 of those individuals who I named are traitors to this country who are more interested in starting World War III by undermining the sitting President of the United States and allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons that they could use to bomb the United States and our allies than doing anything that would actually be productive, such as fixing crumbling roads and bridges, making it easier for Americans to go to college, helping the private sector create more good-paying jobs, and so on.
Also, regarding the so-called “pro-Israel” lobby’s support for the Cotton Letter, the Cotton Letter puts Israel, as well as other U.S. allies and the U.S. itself, of even greater danger of an attack by Iranian forces, since the Cotton Letter is designed to undermine efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used by Iran in an attack on the United States and its allies.
I’m calling for the U.S. Justice Department to bring up all 47 of the senators who signed the Cotton Letter on federal criminal charges for violating the Logan Act, which legally prohibits U.S. citizens who are not authorized diplomats from negotiating with a foreign government.
I’m going to conduct a straw poll of declared and potential Democratic candidates in the upcoming 2016 U.S. Senate election here in Illinois. There is currently only one declared Democratic candidate, Tio Hardiman, a political activist from Chicago, but several other Democrats are considering. The straw poll includes dozens of potential Democratic U.S. Senate candidates, including several you probably didn’t think of as potential opponents to Republican incumbent Mark Kirk, and you also have the option of writing-in a potential candidate that I’ve not listed. I’ll keep the poll online until 10 P.M. Central Daylight Time on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, although I may decide to shut the poll down at a later date and time than that.
Yesterday, U.S. Representative Robin Kelly of Matteson, Illinois, who represents a congressional district stretching from the southernmost parts of the City of Chicago to Kankakee County, announced that she is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mark Kirk:
I am focused on serving the constituents of the 2nd Illinois’ Congressional district, but I am doing my due diligence and exploring whether there is a path to run for U.S. Senate in 2016. I have the experience at all levels of government, both elected and appointed, and believe I would be a strong candidate to represent Illinois in the Senate.
Kelly joins three other U.S. Representatives, Tammy Duckworth, Bill Foster, and Cheri Bustos, in considering bids. Of the four, Kelly was the most progressive in 2013 according to congressional vote scores by Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), although the ADA only scored a total of 20 bills in 2013, and Kelly was a House member for 18 of those votes. Kelly earned a 70% ADA score, followed by Duckworth and Foster (both 55%), then followed by Bustos (50%). Kelly usually votes the progressive position on most bills, except on some financial regulation/deregulation, national security, and domestic surveillance bills where she sides with conservatives.
Kelly is best-known for being a staunch supporter of common-sense gun control measures, such as background checks on gun sales. In fact, she ran her 2013 campaign in the special election in the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois, which was held a few months after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut, on various gun control measures. Kelly won a multi-way Democratic primary with a majority of the vote and went on to win the special general election with over 70% of the vote.
While I’d prefer that Jan Schakowsky or someone who is politically similar to her run against Kirk the Jerk, I think Robin Kelly would be a good representative of Illinois in the U.S. Senate.