The candidates for the 9th Congressional District seat that represents Evanston faced off this afternoon in a League of Women Voters sponsored forum at Niles North High School in Skokie.

Democratic incumbent Jan Schakowsky and Republican challenger Joel Pollak responded to questions on a dozen issues from national defense to health care.

Here’s a recap of our live coverage of the session.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Jan is at least, in a timid way, admitting the Israel problem

    Thanks for covering the debate.

    It shows that the greatest danger to U.S. national security – Congress’ obedience to Israel and eagerness even to humiliate the President on policy toward Israel, is hardly discussed. Were Jan not in Congress, I suspect she would be joining with the Jewish Voice for Peace in calling for an end to the decades long iron grip of the Israel lobby on Congress. We see the lobby in action now with Obama essentially begging Netanyahu for a <i>two month</i> settlement freeze.

    Pollack follows the Israel lobby line precisely – loudly denounce Iran and ignore the continuation of the settlements – though the settlement program is, and has been for the last 43 years, against official United States foreign policy.

    Pollack shows that, though he was born in South Africa, the lesson learned by that country with apartheid has not had any influence on his thinking.  He lauds U.S. military strength and American defense of freedom but ignores how our country doesn’t give a hoot about a poverty-stricken people living for decades under military law, a people oppressed with daily arbitrary arrests and property confiscation by a country that flouts not only international law but its own internal laws and is about to pass a loyalty oath demanding that those who are not Jewish must swear allegience to a Jewish state. If this sounds like something Mussolini might have come up with, it is.

    The United States stands for freedom and justice for all and absolute equality of all citizens under the law. We have made fools and hypocrites of ourselves before the world and understandably aroused outrage, in not hatred, in a large part of the population of the world because we not only except one and only one country, Israel, from what we say we stand for, but we pour ever increasing amounts of money and weapons to it regardless of what it does.

    Pollack will soon be a forgotten name as Schakowsky will, on her otherwise laudable record, sweep him out the door on election day. But when she returns to office, fellow Americans, keep at her with all your might to alter her automatic voting for Israel. If that country wants to thumb its nose at the world, imposing its will on the powerless, let it do so without us arming it to the teeth and sending it billions each year.

    Never has a single country thrown away such a huge fund of sympathy for naked territorial aggrandizement. The tide is turning rapidly against it. In fact, except for the Congress, it hasn’t a single friend left beyond its borders.

    If you love freedom and justice for all, then get involved to rescue Congress. Visit my blog for much additional information. By the way, the Republican candidate for governor, Mark Kirk, is the politician most lavishly funded by the Israel lobby.




  2. Pollak’s flip flopping on same-sex marriage

    "Pollak: Supports civil unions at federal level. Says states should decide about marriage. Opposes discrimination in workplace, etc. "

    Bill – Did you quote Pollak correctly here? For a Harvard Law grad, Joel is either terribly confused about the law, or intentionally misleading us.

      He says that he supports "civil unions at federal level"?  But he  wants to leave marriage up to the states? What is that supposed to mean? What is the Constitutional justification for that – if you believe that the Federal Government has no business recognizing marriage, why should it recognize civil unions?   Marriage matters at the Federal level when it comes to stuff like survivor’s benefits and health coverage for partners of Federal employees.  Where does Joel stand on that?  Would he give survivor’s benefits to ‘civil union’ partners?


      His   website  has a candidate comparison page :

    Jan: In favor of allowing same-sex marriage at federal level, repeal Defense of Marriage Act

    Joel:Marriage not a federal issue, favors allowing states to decide for themselves by law or vote

      Does Harvard Law graduate Pollak understand that the Defense of Marriage act forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed by states.  Thus the DOMA makes marriage a FEDERAL issue.  So the Feds would not recognize a same-sex Massachussetts wedding or a same-sex Iowa…but Joel says marriage should be up to the states?  Does  he therefore agree with Jan, that DOMA should be repealed and the Feds should recognize state marriages?

    Does Harvard Law grad Pollak understand that the DOMA allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed by another state? What about Article IV, Section 1  of the Constitution ( the  " Full Faith and Credit Clause" ):

     Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these States to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other State.

     What is his position on that?   If a man and woman get married in Iowa, that marriage is recognized if they move to  Illinois.  If a same sex couple gets married in Iowa,  under DOMA Illinois is not required to recognize this.  What about Full Faith and Credit?

    And if a state has a right to deny same-sex marriage, does it also have a right to prohibit inter-racial marriages? If Joel thinks marriages should be left entirely up to the states, this would be the logical conclusion. Does he favor overturning Loving v Virginia , in which the Federal courts outlawed any race-based restrictions on marriage?   If not, how does he justify it on Constitutional grounds, since he doesn’t want the Feds meddling in marriage?

    I think that Joel is trying to please his rabid Republican base, without offending the socially liberal population of Evanston – not to mention the large gay community in Edgewater.   


    I really would like Joel Pollak, Harvard Law Guy, to explain his interpretation of Amendment XIV of the Constitution,  the Full Faith and Credit clause.


    1. federal v. states

      In the U.S. with its relatively modern and, in 1789, relatively unique system of federalism,  regulation of sexual and marital relations — something most if not all societies have done — was left to the states. However, the relationship between the states, and what actions of one state another state must recognize, is a matter of federal law. As is, for example, federal tax treatment of same-sex marriage. So it’s a semi-copout for a congressional candidate to say it’s not a federal issue; at minimum it has federal ramifications, and if states all start doing different things, there is some federal role in arbiting the differences.


      However, it’s only a semi-copout because the Full Faith and Credit Clause has not been used to require a state to recognize all acts of other states, especially where contrary to the non-recognizing state’s expressed strong public policy, although some scholars would argue that it should be so used.


  3. Defending Israel

    “If those who surround Israel dropped their weapons, there would be no more conflict. If Israel dropped her weapons, there would be no more Israel.”

    The first time I heard this quote, it did not come from a campaign speech. I heard while serving in the military when I had a Top Secret clearance and learned about things I wish I didn’t know.
    I am proud of my country and the efforts we have made to make this world a safer place. We’re not perfect, but at least we get to vote for our leaders and to speak out when we disagree.  As far as knowing what we are up against, Pollak clearly understands it – in my opinion.
    1. ridiculous attack on Jan

      To have a difference of opinion on the Middle East or what U.S. policy is most likely to produce peace, justice, and security is one thing. To attack anyone who disagrees as anti-Israel is shameful and, in this case, to attempt to paint Jan Schakowsky as soft on Israel is, as the Sun-Times endorsement of her put it, "nonsense." Pollak’s attempt to attack Jan Schakowsky via Helen Thomas — which he has done in his literature as well as in the forum — is demagogic.

      As to intelligence clearances, plenty of folks with access to classified intelligence have come to the opinion that "more of the same" US or, for that matter, Israeli policy is not in Israel’s interest. Top Israeli intelligence and military experts have expressed support for the work and general approach of the pro-Israel, pro-peace group J Street, including Yossi Alpher, a former Senior Member of Mossad; Col. (Ret.) Shaul Arieli, former Commander of the Gaza Brigade; Shlomo Ben Ami, Israel’s former Foreign Minister and Public Security Minister; Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Shlomo Gazit, the former Commander of IDF Intelligence; Dave Kimche, the former Director General of the Foreign Ministry, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Ilan Paz, the former Head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank, and Danny Yatom, the former head of the Mossad. Pollak, however, again takes the demagogue route, claiming that J Street — who supports Schakowsky — "opposes Israel at every opportunity." Again, nonsense.

      1. actions speak louder then words

        Jeff –
                    I judge a person by their actions, not by their words. Jan and the Democratic leadership in Washington’s record continues to speak for itself and there are some of us who believe that if certain regimes get access to Weapons of Mass Destruction, they will use them as they have assured us they will. I welcome a peace process as does Pollak, I don’t support Israel on every cause, but how does a peace process begin when there is leadership in other countries who believe in the destruction of an entire country including ours? As history shows, we have been down this road before and I would prefer it not to happen again. Just my opinion which like it or not, I am entitled to.  
      2. Pollak’s extremist friends

        Even more disturbing than his smearing of Jan on the Israel issue is his association with various   bigots and right-wing extremists.

        For example, he has been endorsed by the notorious Pamela Geller :

        (Geller also believes Obama’s birth documents are forged. She regularly speculates that he is Muslim.)

        It’s obvious to anyone who reads Geller’s blog that she is, by the dictionary definition, a bigot. She has, for example, fantasized about Israel responding to Iranian attack by nuking the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. She has bought bus ads in several cities encouraging people to leave Islam. She believes the Dome of the Rock, an important Islamic holy site, "has got to go." She called for a boycott of Campbell’s over the company’s introduction of a Halal line of foods.   [ Full article at Salon Online ]

        [ Campbell’s introduced some halal soups for the Muslim market in Canada.  So what?   Dominick’s has a whole kosher section!  You don’t like it, don’t buy it! ]

        On Oct. 14, he will appear with  Jon Voight ,  the washed up actor best known now for being Angelina Jolie’s father,  who said the following about President Obama:

        "President Obama feeds these people poison, giving them the idea that they are entitled to take from the wealthier who have lived and worked in a democracy that understands that capitalism is the only truth that keeps a nation healthy and fed. Now the lie goes very deep and President Obama has been cleverly trained in the Alinsky method and it would be very important that every American knows what that method is. 

        It is a socialistic, Marxist teaching and with it, little by little, he rapes this nation, taking down our defenses, making new language for the Islamic extremists. The world looked up to us as a symbol of hope and prosperity now wonders what will become of the entire world if America is losing its power."

        he rapes the nation?  Is that kind of language acceptable?

        And then there is Joel himself.  He set up a website where he accuses Jan of ‘coddling terrorists’ because she favors civilian trials for accused terrorists (  which are working out perfectly fine  in New York, according to this article ).  Can  people disagree about legal procedure without being accused of ‘coddling terrorists’?  Not in Joel’s world.  Those who disagree should debate it honestly, instead of smearing people and accusing them of coddling terrorists

        Moreover,  in truly Orwellian fashion, he accuses Jan of ‘Intolerance’ because:

        "Not only does Jan support the building of the Ground Zero mosque, she demonizes those who oppose it…"

         So..supporting the right of Americans to build a community center ( or a mosque, or church, or whatever) on their own private property makes someone ‘intolerant’?    And given Joel’s tendency to demonize people who disagree with him on so many issues  [as noted by the Sun-Times], it seems hypocritical of him to accuse others of intolerance.

        And since Joel brings it up, what is his position on the so-called Ground Zero so-called Mosque?  Does he believe that Muslims have the same rights as other Americans, or not?

      3. Dangerous Times

        In a few weeks, I will be heading to court to testify against someone who was brutally attacking a woman on Noyes Street that I intervened in. Several other bystanders heard her screams, but no one bothered to come to her aid let alone call 911. If asked under oath how I knew the woman was being attacked from only what I heard, I would answer truthfully that I have been listening for it because I know how dangerous Evanston has become. This wasn’t the first time I intervened in a dangerous situation in Evanston.
        Last week, explosive packages were sent from the Middle East meant for the Chicago area and specifically Synagogues. The sound of a bomb going off is also something I have been listening for as another attack on our soil seems all but inevitable. Liberals like you and Congresswoman Schakowsky believe we have little to fear from this continued threat and can be resolved by conversation. Jan being soft on terrorism would be an understatement and that is why I said I wish I didn’t know what I know.
        Tomorrow, we all go to polls to exercise our rights to elect our leaders. As we have seen recently in the news, some of those in the military who are fighting for our right to vote may not get their own votes counted. Cynics like me believe this was done intentionally especially after witnessing serious voter fraud in Evanston that went unchallenged and unreported. This is all continued Machine politics as Congresswoman Schakowsky and most of the elected Democrats from 2006 have done little to change what they were elected to do. We’re still in Iraq and escalating wars, we’re still bailing out banks and Wall Street, we’re still in Guantanamo Bay, we still have Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, we are still bombing innocent civilians, we still have little transparency in Government, and Illinois has gone over the cliff financially with the rest of the country right behind us. And somehow two years later it’s still President Bush’s fault.   

                     I would say criticizing Congresswoman Schakowsky and voting for an alternative is quite justified under the circumstances – in my opinion.


        1. Hyperventilating perhaps?


          Stop. Take a deep breath.  Lions, tigers, and bears! Oh my!!  The monsters under your bed are not as scary as you’ve worked them out to be. 

          Good for you for intervening in a situation on Noyes.  One attack does NOT a trend towards a more dangerous Evanston make.  Not to minimize the specific incident you became involved in, but brutal attacks have been with as long as we’ve had human beings on the planet.  There have always been heroes such as you and cowards such as the bystanders.  You make no case such a deterioration in civil behavior has occurred.

          As for bombs from the Middle East from the ignorant wretches who hate those unlike themselves, they too are nothing new.  Mankind goes on and progresses in spite of them.

          When it comes to your scary secrets from your top secret clearance, as the Irish Catholic mother said to her son, though: "Tom – get down off the cross; we need the wood."  Your martyr complex is getting a bit overwrought.

          You rant the elected Democrats of 2008 haven’t done what they were elected to do.  Nevermind the fact the obstructionist alternative – the Republicans you propose we vote for tomorrow – had enough votes to filibuster and block the majority will at nearly every turn with demands for supermajority rule (more on that in a moment.) 

          Yes – we’re still in Iraq – but it’s not an escalating presence as you state; rather it’s a diminished presence – still too much for many but too little for the taste of the alternative party you support.  Yes, it IS an escalating sitaution in Afghanistan, necessarily so. This was a BOTCHED operation from the beginning.  Again, it’s NOT the Dems who started the mess, but the mess is what it is and its a bipartisan, multi-national effort to extricate ourselves from it (else why would Petraeus enjoy the support he has? Did Obama have another option?) For the rant against banks and Wall Street – what was the alternative proposed?  When Congress first rejected the proposals top economists and advisors urged, worldwide financial markets went into meltdown panic and Congress in a matter of hours was forced to face the reality of disaster and reverse course.  I’m listening for, but not hearing, a credible alternative!  As a gay man, it hurts me greatly that ‘dont ask dont tell’ still exists.  But are you trying to argue the alternatives we have to vote for tomorrow are in favor of repealing it?  Au contraire mon ami. Skipping a few of the point-by-point rebuttals, let’s jump to your defense of Bush.  Yes – two years later we’re still cleaning up from the ineptness of his 8 year reign, such a big historical disaster was his rule.  What?  You were hoping for Hoovervilles?  That’s what we’d have now had the actions of the past two years NOT been taken.  It’s what we may yet face if we return control to those who created this mess.

          Lest you take any of this rebuttal as an argument you’re not entitled to your opinion, let me quickly lay that to rest — especially since you seem so sensitive to that point in other rebuttals to your posts.  I respect your right to your opinion.  That doesn’t mean I respect your opinions, only right to state them.  I challenge you to better frame your arguments and make your case.  The cause of intellectual honesty demands it.  So far, I find your arguments ill-made and unpersuasive. 

          Two closing thoughts. 

          One, as for tomorrow. If your side wins the day – and it may (sadly, in my view) – gridlock remains with us.  For, as your side has demanded supermajority rights as the only forward, you’ll still lack supermajority control.  Ah, the wisdom of the Founding Fathers.  Unless and until we as a nation get over this period of division and come together to celebrate our similiarities and common interests more than we sledgehammer the wedge of our differences and disagreements, divided we may yet fall since united we seem unable to stand.

          Two, as for your listening for crime in Evanston and exploding bombs in the local synagogues … oh you cynic you.  As the law of attraction notes, you’ll create what you expect.  Expect bombs and attacks – and you’ll find them.  Expect peace and security and you can have that too.  In the words of Henry Ford:  "Whether you believe you can or can’t, either way you’re right."  You label yourself a cynic, so of course that’s what you’ve become.  I dare you to dream differently.


          1. Whoa

            If Tom needs to stop hyperventilating, you need to stop drinking coffee.

            Are you angry?  Or just worried?

            Or are you frustrated? 

          2. None of the above.

            And, I suspect that’s the choice many would like to find on the ballot tomorrow, too!  😉

            Not much of a coffee drinker.  Prefer my cup of tea (decaf, please.)

  4. Schakowsky is union lackey

    Jan Schakowsky is deep in the unions pocket.

    A few years back Schakowsky backed a union-led movement to strip Evanston’s St. Francis Hospital of it’s non-profit status. Yes, union groups claimed St. Francis did not provide enough charity care.

    So the unions with the help of Schakowsky and local Democrat aldermen (all of them) gave voters a referendum to take away St. Francis’ non-profit status. Voters, thankfully, rejected the referendum. The reason why there was a referendum in the first place is the unions were using strong-arm tactics to get the Resurrection Hospital system to unionize.

    Schakowsky gave the unions her support with fliers and robo calls. But this behaviour from Schakowsky is the norm. She is on record saying she would like to end the private healthcare industry altogether.

    Someone ask Schakowsky how that would help the Illinois economy since five of the top ten largest Illinois employers are private healthcare insurance companies.

    Also consider that Schakowsky’s husband, Robert Creamer, is a convicted felon for fraud. In light of that fact alone, Schakowsky could not be hired in many private accounting and law firms.

    So I ask, how in the world can Schakowsky be voted as Congresswoman?

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