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How about ending a real war?

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011 - Posted by Rich Miller

* A local congressman is complaining that he can’t use taxpayer funds to say “Merry Christmas” in his official mailers

Rep. Joe Walsh, an Illinois Republican, and Rep. Mike Ross, an Arkansas Democrat, are trying to overturn a rule that forbids the use of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” in taxpayer-funded congressional correspondence.

Congressional rules state that mail containing holiday greetings cannot be “franked” — Hill lingo for receiving taxpayer reimbursement for postage — according to a memo from the “Franking Commission Staff” obtained by The Washington Examiner.

And people wonder why nothing ever gets done in DC.

The House has banned the phrase since 1974, but Senators can apparently use it in their official mail, so this shouldn’t be a big deal. But leave it to Walsh to scream bloody murder about a trivial matter. Instead of going all-in on the alleged War on Christmas, how about using all that boundless energy to end the all too real, disastrous, un-American, budget-busting and morally bankrupt War on Drugs? Now, that would be something to brag about

War is over if you want it

And before he flips his lid yet again, maybe Walsh should ask Franking Commission Chairman Aaron Schock, a fellow Illinois Republican, why he hates Christmas so much. Just kidding, of course. Schock apparently hates Hanukkah as well. OK, kidding again. It’s not Schock’s fault. The rule goes way back to 1974. Whatever. It’s a joke. Merry, um, holidays, Aaron. Hope it’s a great one.

* Meanwhile, Rep. Jack Franks is at it again

A bill inspired by U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh’s child support issues would forbid people owing more than $10,000 in back child support from running for office in Illinois.

House Bill 3932, filed Tuesday by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, would require statements of candidacy to include a statement that the person running for office is not delinquent by $10,000 or more.

Walsh, a tea party Republican freshman representing the 8th Congressional District, is facing allegations in court by his ex-wife that he owes her more than $100,000 in back child support. Walsh has not been found delinquent or in contempt of court in the ongoing dispute.

While Franks said Walsh, R-McHenry, was his inspiration for the bill, he wants to make sure that people holding office are taking care of their family responsibilities.

“I think it’s important for people to take care of their families first, and preclude people from public office if they fail to take care of their primary obligations,” Franks said. “Nothing is more important than taking care of your family.”

* I told subscribers about this odd development yesterday morning and again today. The group simply started its recruitment drive way too late

With the congressional candidate filing period to begin Friday in Illinois, another potential challenger to U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, has said no.

Sen. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville, said Tuesday he would not oppose Johnson in the newly created 13th Congressional District that runs from Champaign-Urbana south to the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis.

He said he was contacted by a group last week that said their polling indicated he had the best chance of any other area Republican to unseat Johnson.

“There was no proactivity on my part, in any way, shape or form. The phone calls that came to me late last week came totally out of the blue,” said McCann, who was elected to the state Senate last year. “I had not sat back and contemplated it, up to that time, at all. These gentleman called me and told me about the polling.

* And congrats to Congressman Kinzinger...

One of Washington’s most eligible bachelors is taking himself off the market.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno, 33, said this morning that his girlfriend of more than a year, Riki Meyers, 31, is now his fiancée.
“I haven’t taken the plunge yet,” he said. “I’ve taken the pre-plunge.”

Meyers, a captain in the Air Force, is currently stationed in Charleston, S.C., but is scheduled to relocate to the Washington area sometime in February, Kinzinger said.

* Other stuff…

* U.S. Rep. Bob Dold tries to explain his tax vote

* Why Dorothy Brown Wants Another Term as Circuit Court Clerk

* Santa’s ready with lots of gifts for good — and bad — Chicago pols

* VIDEO: Christmas at the Illinois Governor’s Mansion


  1. - Stones - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 1:41 pm:

    Walsh proves again that he is a ranting lunatic. Why should the taxpayer pay for a holiday mailing anyway? Use of the franking privilege has gotten way out of hand with many of the regular congressional mailings. My guess is the Tea party folks would be inclined to agree.

  2. - Abe Frohman - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 1:57 pm:

    A little off topic, but I just got a franked piece of mail from Bob Dold a few days ago. How the hell can anyone from either political party claim to be a steward of the taxpayer’s money and send out this crap. This piece is in full color, stock paper, folds out into three sections on each side and talks about how Dold is an “independent” and working with both sides of the aisle. I am out of the game, but my best guess is if a campaign paid a vendor to send one of these it would probably cost a couple hundred thousand. These clowns can’t even come up with $200k to staff the VA clinic a few extra hours a month, but they got no problem sending this out.

  3. - Ahoy - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 1:57 pm:

    Given the nation’s budget situation, maybe we should be finding more ways to reduce what congress members can mail out. Maybe all mailing documents should go through a rigorous screening process before money goes into printing and postage.

    While we’re at it we should probably do the same with Rutherford’s office…

  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:07 pm:

    The Post Office, one of the right’s favorite whipping boys, is going down the tubes yet they have to support the archaic, free franking boondoggle that Walsh and others can’t get enough of.

    If anyone desperately wants to hear Merry Christmas from Walsh, he can post it on his website. Or pay for it from campaign funds.

  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:11 pm:

    Now, in addition to enriching murderous domestic gangsters who wreak havoc in our streets, the War on Drugs has destabilized a country of 113 million right on our southern border, where great swaths of Northern Mexico are now under control of the cartels.

    Nice Return on Investment.

  6. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:13 pm:

    ===The talks were “above my pay grade,” Mr. Dold said.===

    Then perhaps the 10th needs to be represented by someone who can think for himself, and vote responsibly for his district, instead of nodding his head like a bobbing head dog in the back car window whenever party leaders speak.

    Dold blew this one, his vote against the bill to extend tax relief for the middle class will follow him all the way to the elections.

  7. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:24 pm:

    I wish Rep. Franks would run for Governor. A fiscal conservative Democrat would be a great fit for the job, and a welcome change from business as usual.

  8. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:25 pm:

    Anon, I like Jack, but if you think Quinn is a media hound….

  9. - Colossus - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:26 pm:

    Don’t know if you saw this on Salon, but it explicitly asks for an RoI study on the Iraq War to determine objectively if it was “worth it.”

  10. - Team Sleep - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:35 pm:

    Franking comes out of a member’s budget. A freshman member’s budget is fairly small, so whatever Walsh, Kinzinger or Schilling - just to name three MOCs who face tough primaries or reelection bids - spend on franking comes from their budgets and can’t be used for staff salaries, office expenses and travel. In a sick way, it behooves a freshman like Joe Walsh to not shell out a ton of cash for staff and rent so he can spend more on franking. However, the franking commission is also not always easy to work with. They turn down quite a few puff pieces and mass mailings and have the ability to strip a member’s franking privileges. Do they allow puff pieces? Yes. Are some of the mailers egregious? Yes. But nothing is worse than some of the flowery ILGA crap I’ve seen over the years.

  11. - shore - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:36 pm:

    Abe-I have friends who have gotten FOUR pieces of franked mail from dold in the last 2 weeks. Sometimes rich posts pictures of the mail. If he gets bored, I will email them to him to post. If you took off the us government label, you would think they are campaign materials. Also this friend lives in dold’s new district. would be interesting to see if he is only sending it to the new 10th constituents.

    “budget busting war on drugs”-the us government spent $2.2 billion on the war on drugs overseas last year. $10 billion on pork projects a few years ago. You tell me which is “budget busting”

  12. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:37 pm:

    ===the us government spent $2.2 billion on the war on drugs overseas last year===

    And domestically?

  13. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:41 pm:

    I wish Franks would run for governor to, it’d mean he couldn’t run for re-election to the House.

  14. - Esquire - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 2:42 pm:

    Dorothy Brown makes many a lawyer yearn for the likes of Aurelia Pucinski as Circuit Court Clerk.
    Her office cannot even get court calendars printed and distributed on time.

  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 3:31 pm:

    Shore, the numbers I can find show the drug war costs a total of about $15B federal and about $25B state and local. A year.

    The US has spent over a trillion dollars on this war since it began, according to the AP.

    But, yeah, pork spending is the real problem.

    Pork spending doesn’t needlessly lock people in steel cages. Nor does it destabilize entire countries, nor drive trade underground so that terrorists can profit.

  16. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 3:44 pm:

    Rich, in a perverse way, you could add to your cost estimates the $10 billion a month or so we’re spending in Afghanistan.

    Of course, in state situation, we’re actually supporting the producers of more than 90% of the world’s heroin.

  17. - TwoFeetThick - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 4:05 pm:

    Ah yes, ye olde “pork spending is bad” argument, which I’m sure any number of us on this blog could back up by finding some ridiculous “Squirrels on Treadmills Get Tired” study funded by “pork.” As has been pointed out here many times by many people, it’s only “pork” when it goes somewhere else. When the road crew is out in front of your house re-configuring that dangerous intersection, that can’t possibly be pork funding paying for that, now can it? I think a lot of people who complain about “pork projects” really don’t know what they’re saying. Is there waste? Of course, there’s always waste in anything government and private companies do. But there’s a lot of worthy projects that are someone else’s “pork.”

    Locking up a 20-year-old kid for years because he sold some weed is what is a waste and should be criminal. Minorities spending a disproportionate amount of time in prison simply because the drug they got caught with is the dreaded crack instead of the way more expensive powdered coke - that’s a waste and criminal. This whole “war” is a ridiculous failure, and a ginormous waste of money and resources. We’d spend less if we just legalized everything and used the money and resources to deal with the negative consequences of that. Helping someone with a problem is way cheaper than destroying every aspect of their life by throwing them in prison.

  18. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 5:01 pm:

    I also have a positive opinion of Rep. Jack Franks, but…

    It should be up to the voters who runs for office. If the voters choose to elect a serial killer, someone not a natural born citizen or even a foreigner, it should be a matter for the voters.

  19. - Jake From Elwood - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 5:25 pm:

    Channel 5 had a story last night about Cicero Town President Larry Dominick and his holiday comic book that was produced on the public dime and portrayed Dominick as some sort of holiday superhero. Ray Hanania was attempting to justify it. Interesting stuff.

  20. - muon - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 6:51 pm:

    Noting Rich’s quote in the other thread about the requirements for Congress, would Franks bill put an unconstitutional requirement on the ability to run and serve as a Congressman?

  21. - Apple - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 7:45 pm:

    Rich - At least Franks would be a coherent media hound.

    Muon, read the bill text. State’s are given the ability to dictate the method in which candidates are included on the ballot - think of required signatures and statements of candidacy. Modifying qualifications for office would require a constitutional amendment. This bill, I believe, would instead tack on a requirement for a candidate to attest to not being back on child support on his or her statement of candidacy.

    Is this pushing the line and constitutional questionable? Sure. But I think we can acknowledge what this proposal is, and isn’t.

  22. - muon - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 7:55 pm:


    I did read the text, and if it said that the candidate had to disclose whether or not they owe over $10,000 I would agree with you. However, the bill says that the candidate must swear that they are not delinquent in excess of $10,000. A candidate with excessive delinquency seeking the ballot would have to swear falsely or be barred as a candidate. This seems to place a requirement on candidacy beyond the ones in the US Constitution.

  23. - Skeeter - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 8:28 pm:

    The Dorothy Brown thing is painful to read. She is without a doubt one of the worst public officials around. She simply does a terrible job. The files are often missing. Pleadings are almost always missing from files. Filed motions do not show up on judges’ dockets, and her clerks would waste the time of counsel by having them re-file motions than simply hand a copy of the motion to the judge. The on-line court dockets are a joke. They have almost no resemblance to the actual file.
    In contrast, in federal court all orders entered are automatically e-mailed to counsel of record on the day the order is entered. In the past 10 years that I’ve done a lot of federal court work, I have yet to find a single error in an online docket for federal court. The clerks and courtroom deputies are almost always polite and helpful. Because of them, it is a joy to practice in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Northern District of Illinois.
    Considering what is being done about three blocks away, Brown is a complete failure. She has no clue.

  24. - Apple - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 8:28 pm:

    muon, there’s a legal distinction between ballot access and constitutional qualifications for office. If I don’t collect the requisite amount of signatures, I won’t get on the ballot. There is no constitutional requirement I collect those signatures, but the state requires me to do so in order to be included. This bill is positioned similarly. All that said, and as I conceded, saying it’s constitutionally questionable is putting it delicately.

  25. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 11:28 pm:

    Rod set the bar pretty high. Quinn’s sunday press conferences may have seemed schticky a decade ago, but he pales in comparison now.

    Remember, not a single press release went out under Rod unless his name was in the headline.

    As for Franks, he’s less camera hog and more Merry Prankster. It’s usually good-natured, unless Jack decides that he just really thinks you’re a tool, in which case Jack’s Brain works day and night plotting ways to make your life Miserable.

    In other words, Jack’s not doing it for the headlines, he’s doing it for Walsh.

  26. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 11:31 pm:

    ===he’s less camera hog and more Merry Prankster.===

    That’s brilliant, and when I think about it, I believe it’s spot on. I never thought to look at Jack that way, but I’m pretty sure you’re right. I knew I liked him for a reason.

  27. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Dec 21, 11 @ 11:57 pm:

    Thanks Rich. Very high praise, especially considering the source.

    And thanks too for advocating for Schnorf elsewhere on the blog today. He’s one of the sharpest guys I havent met yet.

  28. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 12:06 am:

    ===He’s one of the sharpest guys I havent met yet. ===

    Yes you did. I introduced you around the Rail this year. At least, I think I did.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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