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This website is dedicated to the defeat of United States Representative Joe Knollenberg of Michigan's Ninth District.

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Nancy Skinner Endorses Gary Peters

On Feb. 25, Nancy Skinner announced that she was ending her congressional campaign and endorsed Democratic rival Gary Peters. Peters is now the leading Democratic candidate to face Joe Knollenberg in November.

“The truth is that it takes enormous resources to beat an incumbent, and given the way our late primary is structured, a costly primary is a gift to Knollenberg”, Skinner told the Royal Oak Daily Tribune. “Gary Peters has been able to amass those resources and support at a level that I have not been able to this point, and to win this seat in November, Democrats will have to consolidate their forces behind him.”

Peters thanked Skinner for her decision, which will let him focus on the general election.

“I thank Nancy Skinner for her dedication and service and I look forward to working in a united effort to defeat Joe Knollenberg,” he said. “Whether it’s Knollenberg’s votes to outsource our jobs to other countries, his vote against giving our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan a bonus, all the while voting to raise his own Congressional pay, our community must have new representation in Congress.”

Skinner’s strong performance against Knollenberg in 2006 propelled the Ninth District on to Democratic watch lists for the 2008 election.

“Nancy Skinner’s decision today to withdraw from the 9th Congressional District race demonstrates what a selfless Democrat she is,” said Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. “She ran a great race in 2006 which demonstrated Joe Knollenberg’s vulnerability.”

Voters Turning on Joe Knollenberg

From Roll Call:

Democrats believe Republicans’ votes against the current bill to expand SCHIP could be fatal in next year’s elections. To underscore this point, Van Hollen in his letter referenced a DCCC-sponsored poll of Knollenberg’s district conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 2 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic firm based in Washington, D.C. The poll of 413 likely voters had a margin of error of 4.8 points.

Van Hollen said it was proof positive that Knollenberg is vulnerable because of his position on the current SCHIP bill. The poll memo prepared by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research noted radio ads by the DCCC and television spots by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees - both hitting Knollenberg on SCHIP - and credited them for softening up support for the Congressman among voters.

According to this survey, portions of which were obtained by Roll Call, Knollenberg’s lead over his likely challenger, state Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters (D), was at 7 points - 42 percent to 35 percent - a 5-point drop from the advantage the incumbent held in April.

Knollenberg’s 7-point lead turned into a 7-point deficit after respondents were read both a push question characterizing his position on SCHIP, and the Democratic and Republican arguments for and against the program.

Nancy Skinner Announces Her Candidacy

From Nancy Skinner’s official website:

It certainly was a difficult decision to make.

It took a great deal of soul searching to come to my decision. I know what I’m in for, having run as the Democratic nominee from the 9th Congressional district in last November’s election. I was told then that it was a suicide mission to take on 14-year incumbent Joe Knollenberg, who walloped his previous Democratic challengers by 20 points. I believed differently and asked myself if people like me, who were so passionate about bringing about change, didn’t run for office, who would? So with the help of the entire Skinner for Congress team, we worked past exhaustion to get our message out – that alternative energy and advanced technology is the solution for our troubled auto industry and imperative for our national security and environment. And we nearly won, getting 47% (127, 690) of the vote to Knollenberg’s 51% (142, 390).

The race for November 2008 has begun, and with the early announcement of former lottery commissioner Gary Peters, some have argued that a primary should be avoided at all costs and that I should not run again, ironically, even for a seat I nearly won. While I can somewhat understand the argument behind “we can’t afford a primary,” recent developments in Washington, DC have persuaded me that we can’t afford not to have one.

There is a serious divide among Democrats on some big issues, including the war in Iraq and our energy future. I believe that too many Democrats, boxed in by their fear of the perception of being “against the troops,” have acquiesced to continuing this endless war.

President Bush is now asking for $190 billion more – bringing this historical travesty to nearly a trillion dollars. Even former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says candidly that this war was about oil. Greenspan predicts great turbulence in the oil markets ahead and that shocking oil prices may force Americans into driving plug-in electric vehicles.

Imagine if just $20 billion of that amount had been allocated to Michigan’s auto industry, to make a rapid transition to advanced technologies like plug-in hybrids or fuel cell vehicles and the hydrogen infrastructure to accommodate them. Instead of fighting change, Michigan could have led the way to energy security.

The fact is, too many politicians on both sides of the aisle are too fearful to be courageous and take the path of least resistance. Government is too big and bureaucratic and increasingly it is serving only the special interest groups that fund political campaigns. As we saw in Lansing, the process itself is broken.

Do I relish the idea of running again? No. The truth is that modern campaigning means the candidate will spend most of their time in a small room, on the phone, begging for money. This is to be able to afford the most thirty-second spots on TV attacking your opponent. And running in a primary is even more difficult because it feels like a family spat. The bottom line for me, as someone who has been very passionate and active in progressive politics for most of my adult life, is that the stakes are too high and the time is too short for me to walk away from what I know needs to be done.

We need courageous, progressive members of Congress willing to follow their conscience - even when it conflicts with their party leadership. And we do need more women. We have only two women among our 15-member delegation. That’s sad, but it’s understandable. It’s harder for women to mobilize the resources in the political arena, which is mostly controlled by men.

A primary election will allow voters to test their would-be leaders. Will you vote to de-fund the war in Iraq and safely bring the troops home? Yes or no? No blurry lines and messy middles. There is no need for bruising or negative personal campaigns. The Democratic presidential campaign has offered us a great choice of candidates who are competing on the idea battlefield, not the personal. No one says Senator Barack Obama shouldn’t run against Senator Clinton because he might hurt her chances against the GOP nominee? It’s called democracy – it’s called America.

So let’s allow each candidate for this great office to voice their ideas and actually let the people decide who they want to represent them in Congress; not the big donors, not the party insiders, but the people. It’s not an easy personal choice for me to make, but in my heart I know it’s the right decision.

That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for the United States Congress.

Nancy A. Skinner

Joe Knollenberg: Banging the War Drums

We need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and becoming the dominant power in the Middle East. I believe that with every fiber of my being regardless of what the political polls may say. If we don’t confront the evil in the heart of the Iranian president, the world will regret it. You know that is true. I know that is true.

Isn’t that exactly what you said about Iraq, Congressman? The only thing that the rational part of the world regrets about that is that they believed you and President Bush. That we got bogged down in an endless war that has cost billions of dollars and tens of thousands of innocent lives, all while making the world safer for terrorists.

And now you want us to do it again? On your word? On the President’s word? Again?

Shame on you.

Joe Knollenberg Votes Against Children

Joe Knollenberg has done a lot of terrible things while blindly obeying President Bush and the Republican Party - many involving the war in Iraq - but he’s reached a new low. How can a man sleep at night after deciding that his political party is more important than the health of American children?

The expansion of the S-CHIP program is supported by over 80 percent of Americans, but Joe Knollenberg thinks it is too expensive. He thinks it is more important to fund a failed war than to provide health coverage for our children.

Or maybe he doesn’t think at all. He follows the President like a lemming, and he wants to take all of us over the cliff with them.

Joe Knollenberg: Blindly Following the President on Iran

In recent days, President Bush has once again started “talking tough” on Iran as he looks for another excuse for his failed policies in Iraq. And who is right there, ready to do his master’s bidding?

U.S. Congressman Joe Knollenberg.

Knollenberg is one of two sponsors of a new House resolution condemning Iran and Syria for their support of Hezbollah militias in Lebanon. That’s a wonderful sentiment, but the timing is a blatant attempt to help the Bush Administration pave the war for a war against Iran. Otherwise, why push this resolution now, nearly 18 months after the crisis that provoked it?

The resolution demands that Iran and Syria follow two U.N. Resolutions, one passed in 2004 and the other in 2006. It also makes a timely demand for Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, just 473 days after they were taken hostage. Did Joe Knollenberg just hear about this story?

Perhaps Rep. Knollenberg thinks that a meaningless gesture on behalf of the president will distract 9th District Voters from other things - like his recent vote to deny health-care benefits to children. His excuse? The bill might have provided health care for illegal immigrants.

That sums up Joe Knollenberg pretty well, don’t you think? “Children? I’ll worry about them later. Right now, I have to make sure none of those people are getting seen in our emergency rooms!”

Joe Knollenberg Stays The Course on Iraq

From Representative Knollenberg’s own website:

“I believe Congress should heed the advice of General Petraeus. We all want this war to end as quickly as possible, but our policy decisions must be guided by what is best for America’s national security interests. Defeat in Iraq is not an option I am willing to concede today.

“The key question before Congress now is whether arbitrarily pulling back our troops will force the Iraqi people to assume greater responsibility for the security of their nation or whether doing so will erode the security gains that have been made in recent months and make it impossible for the Iraqi people to assume responsibility for the security of their nation.

“I trust our generals in Iraq more than I trust politicians who seem to be more interested in scoring political points than winning this war. I have faith in our military. I believe we have the best soldiers in the world. The surge is providing important security gains. And I don’t want this progress reversed because we attempt to micromanage the war from the halls of Congress. We should begin pulling down our troops based on the advice of our commanders on the ground in Iraq.

“I have spoken out against the mismanagement of the war effort, but it’s time to look forward instead of harping on past mistakes. I understand that many of my Democratic colleagues are downright hostile towards President Bush. But this is America’s war, not President Bush’s war. It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to stand together behind our soldiers as they fight for a successful resolution in Iraq. There is no disputing that America has a lot on the line in Iraq. There is no disputing that America will be less safe if the terrorists win in Iraq. The stakes for our nation and for our allies in the Middle East are high. That’s the reality we face, and it’s a reality we must address in a bipartisan manner.”

When has Joe Knollenberg ever spoken out about this mismanagement of the war? He has been President Bush’s biggest cheerleader during the whole process, ignoring all of the White House’s dishonesty.

Joe Knollenberg trusts our generals more than he trusts politicians? Where does that leave all the generals who have spoken out against our policies in Iraq? Why does he only trust the generals that have been approved by Republican politicians?

Joe Knollenberg doesn’t want to erode the security gains we’ve made in recent months? Apparently, he hasn’t been paying attention. According to the newest Pentagon numbers, the average number of daily casualties in Iraq has gone up approximately 12 percent since January 2007, the last full month before the surge began.

A national poll of Iraqis showed that only one-third of citizens feel safe traveling outside their own neighborhood. And, while the surge was supposed to give the Iraqi government time to make concrete progress toward national reconciliation, it hasn’t worked. In December 2006, 48% of Iraqis said they had “confidence in the ability of the Iraqi government to protect you and your family from threat”.

Now? After Joe Knollenberg’s “important security gains?”

The number is all the way up to 49%.

So, Congressman Knollenberg, when are we going to hear again about the mismanagement of the war?

Where Is Joe Knollenberg?

On Sept. 17, the House of Representatives voted down the Regional Economic and Infrastructure Development Act of 2007. This bill was designed “to provide a comprehensive regional approach to economic and infrastructure development in the most severely economically distressed regions in the Nation”.

On Sept. 18, the House passed the Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2007. This act would expand FHA programs to make them more accessible to “low- and moderate-income homebuyers”.

Representative Joe Knollenberg of Michigan’s Ninth District didn’t bother to vote on either bill.

Where is Joe?

Will Joe Knollenberg Pick Reality or The President?

In the next two weeks, Joe Knollenberg and the rest of Congress will be receiving several reports on the war in Iraq. Is it too much for the people of the Ninth District to ask that our representative in Washington look past the Bush Administration’s propaganda and take some interest in the real facts?

There’s not much hope. Representative Knollenberg is so uninterested in Iraq that he doesn’t have a section devoted to it on his official website. Instead, he lumps it into a “National Security and Immigration” section that spends more time on U.S.-Canadian border security than it does on an ongoing war.

Still, we have to hope that Representative Knollenberg is willing to find the truth and take actions to stop the madness in Iraq.

He’ll hear claims from the U.S. military that sectarian violence is down since the surge began. But will he take that at face value, or will he realize that the numbers are bogus? The military says that, instead of 1,200 Iraqis dying every month in the civil war, there are now only a thousand deaths each month. But to get that result - which isn’t great to begin with - they have to bury their heads in the desert sands and claim that car bombs don’t count as sectarian violence.

Car bombs, you see, are the result of “terrorists”. Of course, the President keeps telling us that we’re in Iraq to fight terrorism, so you would think that it would be important that more people are being killed by terrorists. Hopefully, Representative Knollenberg will think the same way.

Or the congressman could choose to believe the Iraqi government, which says that war-related civilian deaths are up since the surge began, not down. According to the L.A. Times, government sources said there were 1,773 civilian deaths in August, as opposed to 1,646 in February, the month before President Bush escalated the war.

We also need to avoid the trap of letting those numbers become just numbers. According to those same sources, about 15,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the first eight months of 2007. That’s five times more than were killed on 9/11 - and we’re in the fifth year of the war. The Iraq Body Count project estimates that over 70,000 civilians have died since 2003, enough to fill a large football stadium.

And remember, those are civilians. Not soldiers, not terrorists, not “insurgents”. We are talking about tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children who have died for no greater crime than being an Iraqi.

Maybe Congressman Knollenberg could rationalize all of this, if he believed that genuine progress was being made. But he must know that it is not. When Congress allowed the Bush Administration’s surge in the spring, it was with the understanding that the Iraqi government would be held accountable, and that if they didn’t step up, we’d stand down.

They haven’t stood up. The GAO’s official report says that the Iraqi government has met three of the 18 benchmarks that President Bush said would be so important. They’ve missed some of the big ones, too:

  • Instead of increasing the number of independent security forces, the number has actually gone down since March.
  • Political intervention in security matters continues to be a problem.
  • Security forces have continued to commit sectarian abuses.
  • Sectarian militias still control local security forces.
  • Only one of eight legislative benchmarks - the protection of minority legislators’ rights - has been met, and even that came with no accompanying protection of rights for minority citizens.

At the beginning of this year, many members of Congress, including Joe Knollenberg, said that would not support it after that unless significant progress was made by September.

It is now September. Violence is still high. The Iraqi government is still useless. There has been little or no improvement in Iraqi security forces.

And more than 500 American soldiers have died.

Joe Knollenberg has another chance to prove that his highest priority is the good of the United States, not the wishes of George W. Bush.

Does he have the courage to do it?

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