Friday, March 31, 2006



Well, kiddies, you know about Eric Carper and you know about Tom Carper, the former Mayor of Macomb, and potential candidate for Congress, but there's another Carper in the political forefront right now.

You see we've got these great big asian Carp in the Mississippi River just north of here and the're a threat to the aquatic biota and even a navigation hazard. What to do about the Carp? Another potential candidate for Congress is trying to restore them to useful citizenship.

Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, called on his fellow lawmakers Friday to earmark $750,000 in state funds to market the voracious, non-native species that can grow up to 100 pounds and crowd out other fish.“At the end of the day, I think this is going to be a way for us to turn a really terrible problem into a really positive solution,” he said.The money, which could be included in the state’s next budget plan, would be used to help companies reduce the population of the nuisance fish. Once harvested, the fish could be transformed into plant fertilizer or used to provide a cheap food source for prisoners and the poor worldwide, Jacobs said.

So, you see, at the end of the day, Jacobs, too, is just another "Carper"

Host note: Tom and Eric, just a play on words.

Host note2: Thanks to our friends at the Inside Dope for the concept

Host Note3: To the legal scholars, would it be cruel and unusual punishment to serve carp sandwiches to prisoners without Pitchers of beer?



He who loses wealth loses much; He who loses a friend loses more; but he who loses courage loses all


Thursday, March 30, 2006




A special thanks to our friends from the "Inside Dope" for watching this
Translated into English, this means that our Beloved Sister Blog will still be free to decide who the "real democrats" are, even when they're on a federal ballot. It also makes it unlikely that a swat team will soon be kicking in the door of UMRBlogs sumptuous, high tech World Headquarters here in the UMRB anytime soon--although I'm pretty sure Gonzo's already tapping my phone.

Prominent bloggers and others have fought to ensure that Federal campaign finance regulations and restrictions weren't applied too broadly to internet communications. This ruling ensures that blogs and individuals continue to have the same freedom as newspapers and other media as they should.
The Federal Election Commission decided Monday that the nation's new campaign finance law will not apply to most political activity on the Internet. In a 6-0 vote, the commission decided to regulate only paid political ads placed on another person's Web site. The decision means that bloggers and online publications will not be covered by provisions of the new election law. Internet bloggers and individuals will therefore be able to use the Internet to attack or support federal candidates without running afoul of campaign spending and contribution limits. "It's a win, win, win," Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub said, adding that the rule would satisfy concerns of campaigns, individuals and the Internet community about whether the campaign finance law applies to Internet political activity....The law was never intended to regulate private citizen communication on the Internet," said Commission Vice Chairman Robert D. Lenhard. "I believe that we have achieved that goal today." Commissioners said the new rule also specifically changes several other FEC regulations to make it clear that Internet activity, such as blogging, e-mail communications and online publications, is not covered by the campaign law. For example, the rule says individuals can use union or corporate computers or other electronic devices for political activity, as long they do it on their own time and are not coerced to engage in such activity by the union or corporation. Bloggers would be entitled to the same exemption from the campaign finance law that newspapers and other traditional forms of media receive. "There will be no second class citizens among members of the media," Toner said.



'06 primary:

Rock Island County--Just under 12,500 dem ballots (17th CD same)

Adams County--Just under 3800 ballots (17th CD=2560)

Fact of life:

Year in and year out, Adams County accounts for .0.6% of the Statewide primary vote

This means in internal state democrat affairs our County, like a major league infield, frequently gets hosed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006



Took a little road trip today to another county, one that just happens to be in the 17th CD. Now, my purpose was not political and I initiated zero political discussions.

Still, I learned of no fewer than 8 people making phone calls trying to line up the nomination for Lane Evans' seat. Some of these names were amazingly bad choices. Some were excellent but not electable and some were the usual suspects. If I heard this much background noise on an innocent little road trip, I can't imagine the pounding the County Democratic Central Committee Chairmen are taking.

I'm hoping nobody I care about deeply will get into this. If you're running every two years, you're running all the time. When you're not running, you're begging Abrahamoff types for money. It's a Gulag. Leave it to the Blind Ambition types, friends, and enjoy your lives. Potomac fever is hazardous to your health.

When this derby's over, somebody is going to form a new 12 Step program called Cong-anon.

Great compliment to the Wicked Witch of the North, Version 2.0, that these guys are lining up to run against her.

NA, NA, NA, HEY, HEY ......UH,....HELLO?

NA, NA, NA, HEY, HEY ..........UH, HELLO

Well, I heard the insightful discussion about 'blogs from our friends on local cable access program, City Desk (Yes, I know it sometimes comes in over the airwaves, too. Still, like "Wayne's World," it is just so cable-appropriate).

I think I heard a prediction in there that these blogs that popped up during the County Clerk campaign would just disappear. That is not the intended case here. The Adams County Clerk's race was a distraction from the stuff we want to cover, important, but a distraction. We're more interested in issues than personalities.

I've been journalling on line for two years. Didn't just start because of there was a primary afoot. This site's driven by thoughts, not hate of any one candidate or family and certainly not by any one set of election returns. Don't look for us to be gone any time soon. We also don't require Rich Miller's (although we respect his work) help in selecting topics.

There's a colloquial Vietnamese idiom that's used to anwer the question "How are you". Literally translated, it means "Not Dead Yet!". That's were we stand. On line journalling in some form by me dies when I do. And, no, I'm net setting up an online poll on the "Over and Under".

Tuesday, March 28, 2006



Andrea Zinga wishing Lane Evans the best and thanking him for his service--after she blasted him for the grievous offense of developing Parkinson's--is the height of hypocrisy. She is a digrace to the wonderfully civil congressmen of both parties this state has produced over the years, including Abraham Lincoln and Bob Michel. Andrea, don't try to be gracious now, just be yourself. Wicked witch of North, Version 2.0, is going to indistinguishable from Version 1.0. In fact, it might all just morph into Mark Baker, Version 5.0.


A recent poll shows Shrub's approval rating at "4", that's people, not percent. That is two twins and two Ehmens. In order to improve his image, the White house has had a massive staff shakeup. They fired Andrew Card.

The polling data is much better now. Shrubbie's approval rating is now five, Two twins, two Ehmens and Mrs. Card.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Rev. James Meeks says he's considering running for Governor as and Indy or some kind of minority party. I never thought he was an advanced a whack job but I'm now about convinced. The same thing happened in '90. All it did was cost our friend, Neil Hartigan, the governorship. It gave us 8 years of Jim Edgar and his heart surgery. As with most Republicans, heart surgery was microsurgery. If inner city people want friends in Springfield, they don't advance their cause by siphoning off democratic votes in Chicago. Pastor Meeks, get hold of yourself! You're a smart man trying to build a cult of personality. This idea is a hair ball to coughed up, spit out and discarded.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


(with due credit to Butch and Sundance)

Some of our friends seem to be experiencing advanced dyspepsia about some number of apparent republicans voting in the recent democrat primary. When we consider that many of these are the very same friends who pulled GOP ballots in the 1999 and 2003 Aldermanic primaries and who toiled in the vinyards of the 4th Ward trying to entice democrats into the GOP primary to help a republican they admired, it is a little difficult to understand the nature of the complaint. Still, It seems a sound approach is to first define the activity causing the excess stomach acid, then to quantify it and finally to define what should have been done.

What Really happened?: The turnout in Adams County was a putrid 17.7%. Crowding at polling places was not an acute social problem. There were no parking problems. This turnout was nothing for any of us to be proud of. Yes, there was a snow emergency in the a.m. Yes, the GOP ticket did not offer much of a draw. Predictably, the guy who seems like the kind of decent person we'd like to see in politics, Mowen, lost to Miss Congeniality, version 2.0. She celebrated by taking the weekend off to engage in her favorite activity, pulling the wings off of butterflies to see if she can actually hear them scream. The democrat ticket at least had an interesting statewide race and one local race, hotly contested. A little crossover would have been natural and predictable.

Going back four "off year" elections, the highest democrat turnout was 2700 and the ballot split was usually more or less two to one, republican to democrat. Part of that is probably just underlying partisan inclination, simple redness in a red county. Some of it is just dull races on our side over time. With all due respect for Steve Crabtree, just for an example, folks were not exactly kicking in doors at six a.m. to support him. Some of the disgusting low turnout is an increasing tendency among Walmart/NASCAR nation to skip voting. Finally, the long standing ratio here of republicans to democrats may be explained, to some extent, as it's just a fact of democrat life that our people are a little harder to haul. There are a million theories why (fewer listed phone numbers, more people with multiple jobs and more single parents lead the hit parade.) but it's a fact. So a continued low turnout level would never be surprise. A major shift in the two to one ratio would be quite surprising.

Well, we all got that ratio surprise. Due to the snowstorm, it was very difficult to recognize the change in dem/GOP ratio as a bona fide trend until about five in the afternoon on election day. It held true all day but the sample was initially too small to make any reliable conclusions. About 7800 souls showed up to vote. They split almost right down the middle GOP/Dem. That's cutting the expected ratio in half. This ratio appeared to hold up precinct to precinct throughout the day. Certainly, in committed Republican precincts, it was a little higher and in traditionally Democratic precincts, there were few more Democrats ballots by comparison. Nevertheless, it was really hard to tell the difference by ward or precinct. The ratio cut across ward lines and township lines. It held up all day, all over.

Over any period of five or more elections we can see a fluctuation in the number of Democrats ballots requested. Naturally, this ebbs and flows with the local interest in any particular race. The same thing is usually true on the Republican side. If you look very closely at this, you can see there is a somewhat measurable bloc of voters, 500 to 700, under the best of conditions, who fairly reliably vote in primaries but move back-and-forth between parties. A good guess would be these are folks who simply feel a civic duty to vote but can't generate any enthusiasm for one party over the other.

Because people move from precinct to precinct within the county and move to other counties and do not always vote in consecutive elections, this is a difficult number to ascertain. This year it is perhaps even more difficult because of the snowstorm and the initial experiment with early voting. It is impossible to know what percentage of this "swing primary voter group" would be inclined to participate in the early voting and whether the the early voting opportunity actually increased the number of "Swing primary" voters, decreased it or had no effect on it. Intuitively, we would feel the weather may have decreased it but early voting either increased it or had no effect on it. Still, that's just a guess. We just won’t have data on this for a while.

If we assume that these are "swing primary" citizens are motivated by a strong civic duty, then it is reasonable to believe not a huge percentage of them were dissuaded by the snowstorm. Just to have an assumption, let's suppose that a usual and predictable 500 such voters was reduced by at 10% to 450. Without polling data this would be impossible to prove or disprove but it appears a sound working assumption. Without data we have to make an assumption. This one seems sensible but if someone else wanted to tweak it up or down by 100, they’d get no argument from me.

These are not strictly Republican primary voters, even though they might have voted in the last two Republican primaries. There is no evidence to suggest that these folks came to the democrat primary with any particular predisposition for either candidate. One can argue that the Challenger had an advantage from recent advertising in and one can argue that the incumbent had an advantage from simple long term name recognition. As to the "Swing primary" voters, we simply do not know.

How many true GOP "Drop-ins"?: This leaves about 650 "New" democratic primary voters who appear to have come from habitual Republican primary voters for whom we must account.

In one ward we have a statistical aberration because, in 1999 and 2003, approximately a hundred (using round numbers) known Democrats voted inthe Republican primary. Thus we have to reduce the remaining 650 possible crossover votes by 100, actually reverse crossovers, for a total of 550. Certainly, this is not an exact number but it is a useful working assumption.

Anecdotally, we know that some of this number, prominent, quotable people, voted for the incumbent. We really do not know and cannot know that this body of some 550 people voted as a group. The only even moderately effective way to do this would be by exit polling and even that technique can be misleading. But it is still statistical malpractice to say "Dave Bockhold's family voted for the Clerk, therefore all these crossovers were votes for the incumbent." There's just no statistical support for that. It's a silly proposition and one for which there is no statistical support. The elections is close in the Rural County, Collar Townships, Dem. wards and Republican Wards, yet we are supposed to believe it is not close among one demographic, apparent crossover voters? With great respect for Dave Bockhold, does he speak for all those foks? Anyone who says they know how this bloc voted is just guessing.

Thus, there's a really no accurate assumption that we can make about these folks. We know that both sides had crossover efforts. We know that the challenger's side was more experienced at negotiating crossover votes than the incumbent’s. We know that the challenger's side had large numbers of GOP primary voters deeply in their debt for the crossover efforts by democrats in 1999 and 2003. It is reasonable to believe that Carper's crossover effort was more effective that Volms, despite the white hot publicity trumpeted by the local paper since the election. (A headline with no empirical support is just a guess in bold type). The newspaper is not talking about the folks who pulled up to polling places in utility trucks and took their first ever democrat ballot. I'm pretty sure they were not there to vote for Georgia Volm. As noted, each side has bystanders reports which confirm crossover activity by the other side. Because there was no exit polling, eveybody has anecdotals but nobody has hard numbers. We could go precinct by precinct and show that the GOP infusion in some areas was necessarily Carper-driven. We could go some other places and show it was strong Volm support. That would still be more supposition than it's worth. So it is anybody’s guess how these 550 or so folks voted as a body, if at all. The only thing we know for sure about them is that they are true crossovers.

Why the heartburn?: Well, if both sides did it, why are the Carperites unhappy? First, their estimable candidate didn't win. That always makes for unhappiness. Second, they are the crossover experts. They've been tinkering with this technique Since Gary Sparks was chairman. It must be galling that somebody else actually used it to advantage. Finally, it must be difficult to have GOP big jocks talking about their family's votes for GV openly. Before we get off of this, though, we really should address some questions. Chuck Scholz was elected in 1993 with crossover votes. That was a good thing. Why was this a bad thing? Why was it OK for democrats to vote in the GOP primary for Tony Sassen x 2 and Ray Coleman and even Mike Rein but it is not a good thing for Repubs to vote in the Dem. Primary? Speaking of those races, is it not reasonable to assume that those Republicans who were helped by the now-Carperites reciprocated this time and went into our primary, urged their friends and family to do so as well, and plugged for Carper? That is, after all, how the game of "strange bedfellows" is played. I think it's not only a reasonable but compelling assumption. In short, there is a touch of hypocrisy in the crossover specialists screaming about a crossover vote.

What Should the Clerk have done?: -- It is not legal to hire polling place bouncers to keep potential crossovers away from the polls. Snipers on adjoining roofs is a little extreme. Disappearing ink pens for the crossovers is at least creative but it would be hard to limit them just to GOP voters. The pens recirculate. Perhaps our friends think GV should have taken out a radio ad asking not GOP voters pretty please not to cross over. Maybe some billboards. Are you starting to get the idea this debate is a little silly?

Rules of Engagement Were the same for everybody--We all knew this was a self-selection primary. We all knew that there was risk in a full out attack mode campaign by Carper bringing in non-traditional primary voters. We all knew that the GOP primary was the sound of one hand clapping. Nobody changed the rules in the middle of the game. We all went after the same population base. We could all adjust our mailing lists. I'm sure nobody over at Camp Carper was stupid enough to leave the mailing lists just to "double D" voters. We surely didn't. We could door-to-door with more creative walk lists and in areas we might not take on in a restricted democratic primary. It would have been foolish not to. This was not a county convention and it was not a caucus. Neither side was foolish enough to run it like one. I won't say it was a fair fight, but that's another column for another day. It seems to me our friends only disliked the rules of engagement after they saw the results.

Next Column: Precinct by Precinct Chaos.

Friday, March 24, 2006


de Tocqueville's Democracy in America:

Parties in the United States”

(Volume I, Chapter X)

GREAT DISTINCTION to be made between parties—Parties that are to each other as rival nations—Parties properly so called—Difference between great and small parties—Epochs that produce them—Their characteristics—America has had great parties—They are extinct—Federalists—Republicans—Defeat of the Federalists—Difficulty of creating parties in the United States—What is done with this intention—Aristocratic or democratic character to be met with in all parties—Struggle of General Jackson against the Bank of the United States.

A great distinction must be made between parties. Some countries are so large that the different populations which inhabit them, although united under the same government, have contradictory interests, and they may consequently be in a perpetual state of opposition. In this case the different fractions of the people may more properly be considered as distinct nations than as mere parties; and if a civil war breaks out, the struggle is car­ried on by rival states rather than by factions in the same state.

But when the citizens entertain different opinions upon subjects which affect the whole country alike, such, for instance, as the principles upon which the government is to be conducted, then distinctions arise that may cor­rectly be styled parties. Parties are a necessary evil in free governments; but they have not at all times the same character and the same propensities.

At certain periods a nation may be oppressed by such insupportable evils as to conceive the design of effecting a total change in its political constitution; at other times, the mischief lies still deeper and the existence of society itself is endangered. Such are the times of great revolutions and of great parties. But between these epochs of misery and confusion there are periods during which human society seems to rest and mankind to take breath. This pause is, indeed, only apparent, for time does not stop its course for nations any more than for men; they are all advancing every day towards a goal with which they are unacquainted. We imagine them to be stationary only when their progress escapes our observation, as men who are walking seem to be standing still to those who run.

But however this may be, there are certain epochs in which the changes that take place in the social and political constitution of nations are so slow and imperceptible that men imagine they have reached a final state; and the human mind, believing itself to be firmly based upon sure foundations, does not extend its researches beyond a certain horizon. These are the times of small parties and of intrigue.

The political parties that I style great are those which cling to principles rather than to their consequences; to gen­eral and not to special cases; to ideas and not to men.These parties are usually distinguished by nobler features, more generous passions, more genuine convictions, and a more bold and open conduct than the others. In them private interest, which always plays the chief part in political passions, is more studiously veiled under the pretext of the public good; and it may even be sometimes concealed from the eyes of the very persons whom it excites and impels.

Minor parties, on the other hand, are generally deficient in political good faith. As they are not sustained or dig­nified by lofty purposes, they ostensibly display the selfishness of their character in their actions. They glow with a factitious zeal; their language is vehement, but their conduct is timid and irresolute. The means which they employ are as wretched as the end at which they aim. Hence it happens that when a calm state succeeds a vio­lent revolution, great men seem suddenly to disappear and the powers of the human mind to lie concealed. Society is convulsed by great parties, it is only agitated by minor ones; it is torn by the former, by the latter it is degraded; and if the first sometimes save it by a salutary perturbation, the last invariably disturb it to no good end.

America has had great parties, but has them no longer; and if her happiness is thereby considerably increased, her morality has suffered. When the War of Independence was terminated and the foundations of the new govern­ment were to be laid down, the nation was divided between two opinions—two opinions which are as old as the world and which are perpetually to be met with, under different forms and various names, in all free communi­ties, the one tending to limit, the other to extend indefinitely, the power of the people.The conflict between these two opinions never assumed that degree of violence in America which it has frequently displayed elsewhere. Both parties of the Americans were agreed upon the most essential points; and neither of them had to destroy an old

constitution or to overthrow the structure of society in order to triumph. In neither of them, consequently, were a great number of private interests affected by success or defeat: but moral principles of a high order, such as the love of equality and of independence, were concerned in the struggle, and these sufficed to kindle violent passions.

The party that desired to limit the power of the people, endeavored to apply its doctrines more especially to the Constitution of the Union, whence it derived its name of Federal.The other party, which affected to be exclusively attached to the cause of liberty, took that of Republican. America is the land of democracy, and the Federalists, therefore, were always in a minority; but they reckoned on their side almost all the great men whom the War of Independence had produced, and their moral power was very considerable. Their cause, moreover, was favored by circumstances. The ruin of the first Confederation had impressed the people with a dread of anarchy, and the Federalists profited by this transient disposition of the multitude. For ten or twelve years, they were at the head of affairs, and they were able to apply some, though not all, of their principles; for the hostile current was becoming from day to day too violent to be checked. In 1801 the Republicans got possession of the government: Thomas Jefferson was elected President; and he increased the influence of their party by the weight of his great name, the brilliance of his talents, and his immense popularity.

The means by which the Federalists had maintained their position were artificial, and their resources were tem­porary; it was by the virtues or the talents of their leaders, as well as by fortunate circumstances, that they had risen to power. When the Republicans attained that station in their turn, their opponents were overwhelmed by utter defeat. An immense majority declared itself against the retiring party, and the Federalists found themselves in so small a minority that they at once despaired of future success. From that moment the Republican or Democratic Party has proceeded from conquest to conquest, until it has acquired absolute supremacy in the country. The Federalists, perceiving that they were vanquished, without resource, and isolated in the midst of the nation, fell into two divisions, of which one joined the victorious Republicans, and the other laid down their ban­ners and changed their name. Many years have elapsed since they wholly ceased to exist as a party.

The accession of the Federalists to power was, in my opinion, one of the most fortunate incidents that accompa­nied the formation of the great American Union: they resisted the inevitable propensities of their country and their age. But whether their theories were good or bad, they had the fault of being inapplicable, as a whole, to the society which they wished to govern, and that which occurred under the auspices of Jefferson must therefore have taken place sooner or later. But their government at least gave the new republic time to acquire a certain stability, and afterwards to support without inconvenience the rapid growth of the very doctrines which they had combated. A considerable number of their principles, moreover, were embodied at last in the political creed of their opponents; and the Federal Constitution, which subsists at the present day, is a lasting monument of their patriotism and their wisdom.

Great political parties, then, are not to be met with in the United States at the present time. Parties, indeed, may be found which threaten the future of the Union; but there is none which seems to contest the present form of government or the present course of society.The parties by which the Union is menaced do not rest upon princi­ples, but upon material interests. These interests constitute, in the different provinces of so vast an empire, rival nations rather than parties.Thus, upon a recent occasion the North contended for the system of commercial pro­hibition, and the South took up arms in favor of free trade, simply because the North is a manufacturing and the South an agricultural community; and the restrictive system that was profitable to the one was prejudicial to the other.

In the absence of great parties the United States swarms with lesser controversies, and public opinion is divided into a thousand minute shades of difference upon questions of detail. The pains that are taken to create parties are inconceivable, and at the present day it is no easy task. In the United States there is no religious animosity, because all religion is respected and no sect is predominant; there is no jealousy of rank, because the people are everything and none can contest their authority; lastly, there is no public misery to serve as a means of agitation, because the physical position of the country opens so wide a field to industry that man only needs to be let alone to be able to accomplish prodigies. Nevertheless, ambitious men will succeed in creating parties, since it is diffi­cult to eject a person from authority upon the mere ground that this place is coveted by others. All the skill of the actors in the political world lies in the art of creating parties. A political aspirant in the United States begins by dis­cerning his own interest, and discovering those other interests which may be collected around and amalgamated

with it. He then contrives to find out some doctrine or principle that may suit the purposes of this new associa­tion, which he adopts in order to bring forward his party and secure its popularity: just as the imprimatur of the king was in former days printed upon the title page of a volume and was thus incorporated with a book to which it in no wise belonged. This being done, the new party is ushered into the political world.

To a stranger all the domestic controversies of the Americans at first appear to be incomprehensible or puerile, and he is at a loss whether to pity a people who take such arrant trifles in good earnest or to envy that happiness which enables a community to discuss them. But when he comes to study the secret propensities that govern the factions of America, he easily perceives that the greater part of them are more or less connected with one or the other of those two great divisions which have always existed in free communities. The deeper we penetrate into the inmost thought of these parties, the more we perceive that the object of the one is to limit and that of the other to extend the authority of the people. I do not assert that the ostensible purpose or even that the secret aim of American parties is to promote the rule of aristocracy or democracy in the country; but I affirm that aristocratic or democratic passions may easily be detected at the bottom of all parties, and that, although they escape a superficial observation, they are the main point and soul of every faction in the United States.


This is what occurred in America; when the democratic party got the upper hand, it took exclusive possession of the conduct of affairs, and from that time the laws and the customs of society have been adapted to its caprices. At the present day the more affluent classes of society have no influence in political affairs; and wealth, far from conferring a right, is rather a cause of unpopularity than a means of attaining power. The rich abandon the lists, through unwillingness to contend, and frequently to contend in vain, against the poorer classes of their fellow cit­izens. As they cannot occupy in public a position equivalent to what they hold in private life, they abandon the former and give themselves up to the latter; and they constitute a private society in the state which has its own tastes and pleasures.They submit to this state of things as an irremediable evil, but they are careful not to show that they are galled by its continuance; one often hears them laud the advantages of a republican government and democratic institutions when they are in public. Next to hating their enemies, men are most inclined to flatter them.

Mark, for instance, that opulent citizen, who is as anxious as a Jew of the Middle Ages to conceal his wealth. His dress is plain, his demeanor unassuming; but the interior of his dwelling glitters with luxury, and none but a few chosen guests, whom he haughtily styles his equals, are allowed to penetrate into this sanctuary. No European noble is more exclusive in his pleasures or more jealous of the smallest advantages that a privileged station con­fers. But the same individual crosses the city to reach a dark counting-house in the center of traffic, where everyone may accost him who pleases. If he meets his cobbler on the way, they stop and converse; the two citi­zens discuss the affairs of the state and shake hands before they part.

But beneath this artificial enthusiasm and these obsequious attentions to the preponderating power, it is easy to perceive that the rich have a hearty dislike of the democratic institutions of their country. The people form a power which they at once fear and despise. If the maladministration of the democracy ever brings about a revo­lutionary crisis and monarchical institutions ever become practicable in the United States, the truth of what I advance will become obvious.

The two chief weapons that parties use in order to obtain success are the newspapers and public associations.

If we substitute "politically advantaged" for "rich," does this great commentator describe something we could find right here in Adams County today, something not limited to just one party?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


This local primary campaign has brought new people to democrat politics. This really happened in two ways. Some people who have never been involved have become interested. Some folks who have been involved in a relatively small way in the past have moved up to strategic and drafting roles. This is good for the local party.

Where do we go with that? If they all walk off and don't stay involved, we will have profited nothing. If they walk off, we'll also know this was just a campaign about personal enmity and grudges. If they take these developing talents to other candidates and other elections, we will be stronger for it.

With respect for both sides, whoever wins, I suggest that all of the players on the losing side of this primary make a commitment to one candidate for the fall. I also respectfully suggest that you do it within four weeks of the primary so we all know where our resources, human or otherwise, are located. I'm not asking you do anything I haven't done for the last 35 years.

At the end of the day, all this primary gets us is a nominee. There is much to do and the general election will be here before we know it. We can move forward together no matter what the outcome is. In fact, it's not optional. In the words of Bill Clinton "We go up or down together." That's our history--both ways--and our destiny now.


If we believe in the democratic process, then we have to believe that every opportunity to let the people speak is a good thing. Well, tonight, a boatload of people spoke (we'll do the numbers here later) after a hard fought election. Issues came to light and the citizens of our county had the chance to decide how they felt about them.

Folks in our party were energized. We competed with one another but we were energized nonetheless. Some people stepped into new roles and learned new things about the political process. Even some "old dogs" might have learned some things about what works in a high interest primary. It's safe to say that some of my old assumptions have been challenged about how a local primary is to be run in the information age.

None of this happens if Eric Carper doesn't take his shot, as he is constitutionally entitled to do. None of this happens if he doesn't galvanize tens of dedicated supporters into an impressive "ground game" campaign and an obvious monster election day effort.

So we all sharpened our political swords. We all got a little better at what we do. We might even have learned some new tricks. Our energy and our skills package have been expanded, all because Eric Carper offered himself for public office!

Eric, Georgia Volm may have gotten a few more votes than you did tonight but there were no losers. The Democrat Party has more tools in its toolbox tonight because of you. Somebody had to be disappointed and the other had to be the nominee. This time you're the disappointed one. You don't leave this exercise any the worse for wear. You presented your energy, your beliefs and your obvious family values. You brought a large group of people together and you made about 1800 new friends. Another day, it might be different. Until then, know you made a contribution and be proud of your effort. You stretched us all out and made us better. God Bless you and your family for supporting our party and its principles.

Enjoy a rest and we'll see you while we support our now stronger party, stronger thanks in large part to you.
Upbeat footnote: Very, very classy message on Eric's revised webpage. Nicely done. I'll leave the link up for the rest of this week.

Our friends had a provocative topic up this morning. There were a fairly large number of comments on there when I first looked. Some of them were cruel and cheesy. Looked like some of them were GOP hardheads and some were from Volm people. In either case they were out of bounds. I put in two posts--no reason not to. One was polite and concilliatory and discussed the turnout. The second, very short, was making fun of myself for spelling a word wrong. They were both attributed to me, using my UMRBlog (in blue) ident.

When our friends whacked the rude posts, they whacked mine, too. The democratic principle of free speech for conflicting views is not prospering at our sister site. Fear of ideas is not a good starting point for healing or to build an inclusive party.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Rule One: Remember, Same two teams play next week;
Rule Two: Candidate are like laboratory animals. The public recognizes they are necessary but does not form any real attachment to them and particularly does not want to hear their woes;
Rule Three: Pledge your support for your party and promise to help it in any way you can;
Rule Four: As soon as the election returns are in, stop making your campaign points--they either had traction or they didn't;
Rule Five: Thank your supporters and staff early and often;
Rule Six: Have something kind and gracious to say about your opponent;
Rule Seven: In case of anything that doesn not seem to fit into Rules three through six, refer back to Rules One and Two

Went over to see how our friends were doing this snowy day and got this message:

"Comments on this blog are restricted to team members. You're currently logged in as UMRBlog who is not a team member of this blog."

I was not trying to make a comment. I was just reading the comments and I got this warning that my comments were not wanted.

Is it because it's election day? Keep in mind I got blasted for posting anonymously, which I didn't do. Now they make it impossible for me to post any way but anonymously. Which way do you want it, friends?

No wonder they are of one mind. It's like Oprah. Any conflicting thoughts are banished. It's the american political equivalent of North Korea!

Here, all a responsible commentator has to do is wait until I clear the box. No secret handshakes, decoder rings or passwords required.

Monday, March 20, 2006


On Sunday, I purposely moved the "de-linked" thread up next to the "up or down together" thread. In so doing the point I was trying to make had nothing to do with whether my site has lots of links to it. The placement of those threads was to make the point that democrat/progressives had nothing to fear from free speech and differing thoughts and that two democrat sites, even if disagreeing on a primary, could support each other by linking. Fear of speech is one of the most anti-democratic things we can project. Failure to work together is a good way to ruin a party. Ask the American Whig party. It blew up in the 1850's because they wouldn't hang together.

So, Nicky, my pal, it is not "beneath" me to argue that U/G made a grievous error when they linked me and then struck the link simply because they didn't like some of my thoughts. It is a fundamental part of who I am as a democrat Promoting the Marketplace of Ideas is not beneath anybody. It's a principle of governance. This is way beyond personalities.
If we really fear hearing other thoughts, maybe we're truly not about any great democrat principles. If it's just about worshipping at the right barstool, then we're going to have problems. If it's only about saying things that don't make our old line friends uncomfortable, what good is that?
BTW, you don't hear me barking about QP not linking us. It's what I expect from the narrow bandwidth party, but not from my democrat brothers and sisters.

It is heartwarming when anyone wants to be a democrat and harmless when they say "I'm a registered democrat!". Harmless but false. In Illinois, we register gun owners, pets, automobiles and nurses, to name a few, but we don't register political party selection when we register voters.
Illinois is a primary self-selection State. We don't register by political parties.
When a voter shows up at the primary polls, he or she is whatever he or she indicates. Whichever ballot one asks for is given by the election judges without any investigation beyond that the voters is identified and registered as a voter. In Illinois, one can be a democrat in one primary and a republican in the next.
"I'm a registered democrat" is, on its face, a harmless profession of faith. It is also factually incorrect, as applied to anybody. One is a democrat because that person self-selects to be a democrat and the self-selection process takes place every election cycle. I surely wouldn't hold it against anyone who wouldn't take a pledge he or she knows to be false.
When someone says to me "I'm a registered democrat." I know his or her heart's in the right place. I also know that he or she doesn't know stickum about how elections and registration work in Illinois.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


In democrat politics, one either believes in the free exchange of ideas or one doesn't. Apparently the blog supporting the challenger for County Clerk doesn't.

You may recall they voluntarily linked us at an early stage of their development. After a little technical difficulty, we also linked them (we try to link as many schools of thought as our day job permits). As of about four Saturday afternoon (first time I noticed, anyway), we have been "unlinked". What was there for them to fear from another progressive, local site?

What an interesting and lame gesture.


Saturday, March 18, 2006


This blog has been the victim of a "Denial of Service" hack. We caught it and restored it March 17 but overnight a better attempt has been made and we have not been able to repair all the damage.

Wonder who would do such a thing to a little one-horse blog with its author so hopelessly out of touch with the grass roots?


Friday, March 17, 2006


The merely annoying has become the patently absurd. After the Clerk challenger's mouthpieces have attacked this blog for merely reporting that the challenger had spread negative information about the handling of materials by "prisoners", (oh there's that naughty "P" word again --I'm sure he meant to say "convicted traffic offenders") thereby implicating our fine sheriff, I stupidly thought the guy would have the good sense to at least stay off that kick.

Then I got my mail yesterday.

Ever leading with his chin, the challenger has mailed a two page piece that closely resembles the bottom of a bird cage. Now he claims citizens should have mandatory acid reflux over ""work-release" prisoners being allowed to "handle office records".

Where do we start with such a moving target? How about this? SWAP and "work-release" are not even vaguely the same thing. Where are these "work-release"people being "released" from? The Adams County Jail, huh? Imagine that! Who runs the Adams County Jail? Oh, right, it's that Adams County Sheriff. And who would be resposible if they were doing something they were not supposed to do (which, of course, they weren't)? The Sheriff.

All I am doing here is pointing out the natural consequence of what this candidate (not any other living, breathing human being--this candidate)has done. In our society, we are not allowed to toss a grenade into a large groupof people and say "Gee, I hope nobody gets hurt." This is equivalent behavior. The allegations are his. He either couldn't figure out that this would be uncormfortable for the sheriff or he didn't care. Maybe no price is too great to pay to hurt our current Clerk............ as long as the challenger doesn't have to pay it.
Then he has his grassrooting blog attack us for pointing out the obvious--once you use the "P" word, you've inevitably created a headache for the one guy in the world who least deserves it, Fish. With respect to the candidate and his committee, it was a poorly thought out gambit and it shouldn't have been done. Regarding the accusations against me, it's a bad rap and a candidate with integrity would disclaim it. In the meantime, I happen to think he's a nice guy and I'll assume he doesn't know about it. It still says a lot about the folks who know better.

Guess there's one other possibility. Maybe he's just into prison flicks. Maybe this whole embarassing escapade is just an outcropping of his DVD collection, featuring the "Shawshank Redemption" and "Cool Hand Luke". Go figure.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


It's impossible to put a pretty face on dishonesty.

Mr. Carper is the one who said this "work" was done by "prisoners." This Blog has never said anyone from SWAP did anything wrong. But Mr. Carper's blog crowd is now accusing us of teeing up the Sheriff.

We didn't say the "P" word first and we didn't do anything but respond to Mr. Carper's allegations. If he can't track down his alleged facts and makes reckless allegations that spill over onto my good friend, the Sheriff, he has to be a man and take responsibility.

Having his minions accuse this blog or Ms. Volm or Mr. Husar of anything negative is just a real good indication where "the buck stops" in Mr. Carper's world. There comes a time when someone must take personal responsibility for incorrect allegations or even just a lack of precision. It's not too late, Eric. Step up and take ownership of your own campaign brochure!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


In a brochure "Paid for by Carper for County Clerk/Recorder Committee"

Eric: "Georgia Volm has used prisoners to do work in the County Clerk/Recorder's office. The day I walk in to (sic) that office, prisoners will no longer be allowed to work in that office."

That was the marker the Carper campaign laid down. They couldn't prove it and now they say that's not what they meant. It's not a process designed to develop intelligent debate.

On the other hand, it does raise the question, what "prisoners" was he talking about?Perhaps he meant his committee which has become a collective "prisoner" of its own, moving target, allegation.

Personal note to Ed Husar: Need an extra copy of the brochure?


This is a conversation that didn't take place about December 15, 2005. It should have taken place, but it didn't. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The parties to the conversation are "Roots" (Short for "Grass Roots Superstar") and "Sheriff" (short for "Sheriff".) The conversation didn't go (but should have gone) something like this:

Roots: Hi, Sheriff. Ya know I'm running against the current incumbent County Clerk in the primary.

Sheriff: Kind of like Bob Kuhn?

Roots: Something like that. Who's Bob Kuhn?

Sheriff: He's the guy who tried to take my job away from me in the '02 Primary. You remember '02, don't you? That's where I needed votes and you didn't vote in the primary?

Roots: Primary? That's the thingy like I'm gonna do now, right? You had one of those too? Cool. (voices heard in background on Roots' end)...........Long pause..........Well, my committee took a long time to decide whether I should vote in that primary and, by the time they made up my mind, it was June and the primary been over three months.

Sheriff: Whatever. How can I help you today, Roots?

Roots: Well, I'm calling to make sure I don't do anything that would hurt your general election--that's what they call that thingy they have in November, right?--by using some information in my campaign?

Sheriff: What information would that be, Rootsie?

Roots: Well, I'm not sure I understand it too well but somebody who hates the current county clerk told me that prisoners were doing work in the Clerk's office. It's some kind of special program. I think it's called "Paw Pals" or something like that.

Sheriff: How about SWAP?

Roots: I suppose. "Paws", SWAP, same letters of the alphabet.

Sheriff: So what's your question for me?

Roots: Did they work in the Clerk's Office?

Sheriff: Let me check my records (pause). No, they didn't work in the Clerk's office. They worked in the storage and destruction area on some Clerk's records for part of one day about three years ago. Took some already boxed and packaged records to be destroyed. They usually work setting up furniture for polling places too. Did your souce tell these guys are closely supervised by a deputy and searched after each duty?

Roots: No, nobody told me anything like that. I thought they were just loose in there rummaging around in vital records, sniffing the whiteout and cutting themselves payroll checks, maybe smoking a little dope.

Sheriff: Whoever told you that is either trying to make you look stupid or hurt me politically by making me answer some goofy charge that has no basis in the Real World. This is just routine SWAP work. Happens in Public Offices and civic events all the time. Saves a boatload of money for the taxpayers.

Roots: Well, thanks. It sounds like somebody's grudge is so strong that person would have me do or say anything to hurt the current clerk, even if it hurts you and isn't true. I'll make sure to stay away from it.

Sheriff: Thanks for calling. You did the right thing to check it out with me first.

(Phone Disconnects)

Sheriff: (To self) Lemme see, Grass Roots worker but couldn't find his way to to the polls to help me in '02. Couldn't figure out on his own that this was a crock? Hmmmmmm, My keen Law Enforcement instincts tell me there's something wrong with this picture.....Note to self, try not to share a podium with this one. It's only a few months till March.




Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Other than to disagree with you over a primary election, please show me where I have "slapped" any "mouths". The only entry or response in here that is even borderline rude is to some moron who couldn't read.

Primaries necessarily divide people who are usually allies. That is regrettable in some ways .

I disagree with some party insiders abandoning a performing incumbent. That's a fact. Is my sin that I do it openly? Would it be OK if I just kept it private? Or is it that the incumbent is supported by people you're not allowed to like? Rest assured, I damn sure didn't make my decision whom to support based upon who agreed or disagreed with me. I don't agree with anybody all the time.

I started this thing out begging everyone involved to disagree without being disagreeable. The only calls for civility at the beginning were coming from me.

You complained about something. Back it up. Show me the metaphoric "slap in the mouth." Unless you're the moron who can't read, it's not there. If you were the moron who couldn't read, you deserved it.


I don't like the c&p format (for me) but this is a very interesting overview of the Treasurer's race by DJW . There a few typos but it is pretty clean, disengaged analysis. The comments are as interesting as the analysis.

As I have said here before, I'd be proud to support either man but I really can't figure out what Knox County suing Maytag for "runaway shop" has to do with investing Illinois' taxpayers' money.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Our City lost one of its fine citizens and I lost a precious friend. Life will never be quite the same for me with John Didriksen gone. There is a large group of people, friends and family, thinking the same thing because we said goodbye to John today.
With the possible exception of President Clinton, I've never known anybody with more talents than John. He was just "scary good" at a vast array of things.
He was also a world class needler. He could tease with the skill of Don Rickles but the gentleness of Mother Theresa. As great a needler as he was, I never once heard him say anything intentionally hurtful. There was always a little grain of truth in his needling, something that would help the subject improve. If you listened closely, you could hear a natural teacher in his needling.
He constantly found ways to let his friends and family know they were appreciated. It is an unusual thing for a man to tell another male friend "I appreciate you." or "I enjoy the time we spend together.", but not for John. He was a totally natural person, without pretense or need to act macho. If he didn't show his appreciation in words, he did it with his skilled hospitality.
He and Martha raised two great young adults and he had to bury one of them just three weeks ago. If you doubt that life's not fair, consider that. John fought cancer valiantly for four years. He buried his precious daughter and then still fought to stay alive for, among other reasons, his wife and family, in their grief, needed him. I cannot imagine the pain he bore while making that fight. He left us at age 62, far too young and too soon.
Damned if I know what the message is all of this. My heart aches for his family. All of us who loved him are dealing with loss as well. We can't all be as talented as John but we can aspire to be as open as he was to those he loved and to remind them how much they mean to us. That's a start.
Thank you, my friend, for our time together and the example you set. They didn't come any better.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


The Clerk Challenger has put up a tabbed link web site. It's very user friendly but it is not interactive. It's linked on the right.

Good for him. It's always a plus for the democratic party when its candidates present in the newer media. Yes, I've seen the comments on some errors on his site and there are some gross ones. Still, the way to get a site up is to get it up and tweak it on the fly.

I may not like his content much but I applaud him for establishing a site. He and his campaign are entitled to an Official Upper Mississippi River Basin Blog Attaboy for the effort.


Well we now have juvenile behavior to "correct" the original anti-intellectual behavior.

It really shouldn't be at all difficult for both sides of this primary to make some effort to be civil. Our party has the capacity to behave at something above a seventh grade level. I wish we would begin to show it.

I'm new at blog hosting. No doubt there are plenty of things wrong with my site. Criticize this site all you want. Just like anybody else, I didn't sign up for personal attacks, particularly from nameless, faceless, unaccountable snipers. I know at least two of the originators of the U/G and they are better than that. Perhaps they'll show it soon.

There is, however, one thing that can't be said about this site. Nobody can truthfully say we've excluded or even edited a post that disagrees with our position on anything. Yes, you might actually have to wait a few hours for your post to appear, but it won't be whacked simply because it argues with my position.

What an interesting additional gesture.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I'm moving this up because at least some folks obviously missed it on Mar. 1

I took a few minutes this morning to look in on my friends at Quincy Underground. Blogs and Boards are funny things. The originator starts them out to be one thing and go one place and they become something else and head in a direction the originator never intended.

As I stated many days ago, I am out of the business of commenting on other Blogs for at least three more weeks due to the demands of a major project. It was with some surprise, then, that I read accusations in the U/G that I'm posting there anonymously. So let me respond to that:

1. I have not;

2. When I post in some membership Boards, I always use a "handle" and stay consistent with it thoughout the thread. Never done that in the U/G. Always been myself. If I ever post there again, it will be as myself;

3. Use your head. If I wanted to be covert in my support of the County Clerk, I would have started that way and stayed that way. If I even wanted to visit the U/G without the moderators knowing I'd been there, I know how to do that. There is no reason now for anon. posting. What would I have to fear? If a "friend" were going to be mad at me because we differed on a primary, then he or she wasn't much a friend to begin with.

4. My sentence structure and active vocabulary are pretty recognizable. If you rely on word count to "identify" what you believe is my writing, not only are you not to first base, you're not even in the "on deck" circle.

5. Call your first witness to prove this silly proposition and put his testimony here.

U/G's originators are great people. I don't hold them responsible for what their visitors spew.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Well, today we interrupt the scintillating discussion of whether one candidate is a loving husband, who stole what yard sign and whether a current elected official speaks sweetly to her employees for a discussion of a trivial little topic, dealing with death.

This is topical for me because one of my most precious friends died while I was out of town Wednesday.

How does one help a grieving family? What does one say to the survivors? How do I deal with my own loss, while not adding to the grief of the survivors?

All of that frankly still baffles me. One of my jobs in the military was on a 9 man team. Five us got out and went home. Four died before they could get out. My own sister, fifteen months younger than me, died when we were young adults. All but one of the great men I considered mentors are dead. We buried another precious friend in November and the lively young adult daughter of another in February. I'm experienced with death.

Still, I struggle with all the questions above. I have come to believe there is no magic phrase that helps and there are no real good Rules of Thumb. Kind words about the deceased sometimes help, sometimes cause pain. Mostly, I think it's best just to express sympathy in the most straightforward way. If a survivor needs something else, they'll tell you.

Where I have been a survivor, I have appreciated the mere act of coming by to express condolences. Where somebody has run on or said something insensitive, I have chosen to believe that we were all just doing the best we could.

Where I have walked away from a bereavement situation feeling like what I have said was unhelpful, I have chosen to take it as a sign that my spiritual growth was not yet complete and I would be better in the future.

Dealing with death is not an enjoyable blog topic, but it is a universal part of the human experience.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Two ethnic names and two distinguished citizens in this one. I know and like both of them. The office is an open office. The incumbent is Spike and she's running for Governor and from her old boyfriend, employee, tax cheater, snitch. You can't make this stuff up.

Paul Mangieri is a 17 year navy veteran, father of a whole mess of kids and elected two or three times State's Attorney of Knox County. He may have been the first democrat ever elected to that job in the history of Knox (nobody's sure)--one hell of an accomplishment! A smart, earnest guy and, of course, from Western Illinois. If Paul has a general downside it's that he's become kind of a perpetual candidate and he doesn't run very well outside Knox County. The latter knock is probably unfair because Paul's senate run was in the context of Shrub's reelection, a negative context. If Paul ,has a treasurer-specific knock, it's that he's never handled institutional investing.

Alexi Gianoullias has never run for office before. He has an interesting resume. Environmental Policy Maker, Lawyer, Professional basketball player, commercial and developmental banker. He's involved in the management of four banks and numerous community projects. He is the author of a couple of loan programs to restore toxic sites to public use. He's under thirty and looks younger than that. He plays baskeball Sunday nights with, among others, Barak Obama. He is, in word and deed, a political rookie but he's a smooth-acting rookie.

Rod Blagojevich's '02 campaign taught us the public finds a good "new world" story compelling. Lexi has that. He's a first generation Greek-American. Lexi is more telegenic. Paul will come off as earnest and good, which he is, but the TV camera will love Lexi. Lexi will be able to raise more money. Finally, Lexi has impeccable credentials for the job. He has handled money and investing almost all his adult life.

This is a close call between two attractive democrats and good guys. Much as I bark about a candidate from downstate being important, I just can't ignore Lexi's compelling electability and his more relevant experience. I'll be honored to support either one as our party's nominee but, with due respect to Paul, I'll vote for Lexi March 21.

And, of course, we do thank Spike for offering us this open office on a silver platter.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Like Spike's old boyfriend, I'm down the road tomorrow. Probably won't be in front of computer before Thurs. a.m. some time. This means your comments might be stuck for a little while in moderation land. We'll get to them as quickly as we can.

We have had some hot topics up and the comments have been decent. Thank you. I've not had to edit or scratch anything. Your ideas, however contrary to mine they might be, are welcome here. Nobody's profanity, sexual innuendoes or attacks on anybody's character are welcome.

Be patient. I'll get you in.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


A screwup is a screwup, no matter how otherwise "nice" the person who made it.

Eric Carper, a very nice guy from a very nice family, in his own brochure, has placed into issue the question of prisoners "working" in the Clerk's office. He's an engineering guy. He's supposed to know that one examines a problem from all angles before attempting to proclaim a solution. He obvously didn't.

First, who's in charge of the physical plant at the courthouse? By law, it's the Sheriff. The Sheriff can send in anybody he wants to transport refuse or carry discarded documents to be destroyed. So, when Eric attacks prisoner use, he attacks the titular head of our party, our Sheriff, who happens to be on the ballot this fall. One really would have thought Eric's many advisers might have mentioned that to him before he mailed out a brochure comtaining such a claim.

Second, they keep records about where supervised prisoners work. Those records are accessible to the public. I'm sure Eric's crack committee checked that all out before the brochure went out to many households. A fair conclusion to the Question "How much did prisoners 'work' in the Clerk's office." could be stated "Not nearly often enough!".

All of which kind of gets us to the third point which is the concept of SWAP anyhow. Why should the highly skilled employee's of the Clerk's office waste their time carrying discarded material to be shredded or doing other menial tasks when there are people who will do it at no cost to the taxpayers, thus allowing the highly trained deputy clerks to continue plying their skills in their specialties?

Fourth, there is no recorded instance of a prisoner handling any services for the public in any part of the courthouse. That is left to the union members, who do it admirably. The courthouse crawls with peace officers and other court officers. Does anybody seriously think for one minute such a thing could go on unabated and unnoticed?

Fifth, Eric says he will bar prisoners from the Clerk's office. I guess this means the women who work there had better take a work-hardening course to lift the discarded documents designated to go to destruction. Maybe we can get some back belts for them. Of course, the clerk can't bar work -release prisoners who have legitimate business in the clerk's office. That would be an interesting conversation "You can't change your voter registration address, you're a prisoner!" "You can't get a marriage license, you're a prisoner!"

Sixth, this lame issue is a symptom of his whole campaign concept "Vote for me because the incumbent's not nice!" or the more refined "Vote for me because I'm not Georgia Volm!" That stuff usually only resonates with a small number of people but, for the sake of argument, let's say it succeeds in March. What does he have left to offer the General Electorate? "I've been on the ballot since December and I haven't ever once told you my credentials or why I'm a good choice, but by God, I'm not Georgia Volm!" The electorate would properly say "So what?"

I will concede one thing. This is not the lamest argument he could have made. Of course, he's making that one too. I'm saving it for later.

I ,for one, would be interested in his background, experience and education. The Clerk is the Election Official, Comptroller, Recorder, Archivist, Parliamentary Secretary and Retirement representative for County Government. What does Eric have in his background that would show he can do all those jobs well?

If Eric Carper wins our primary, I want him to be electable. I'll want to help him. That'll be a tough trick if he doesn't start telling us pretty soon why he should be Clerk instead of why somebody else shouldn't.