Friday, January 29, 2010


Picking a winner in this three-way race over eight counties is quite an undertaking. The nominee will face Chris Scholz in the November general. This is a non-presidential, almost certainly low turnout primary. It is difficult to detect that any of the candidates have any particularly highly developed expertise in election day efforts.  Making a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) about this is doubly difficult because, to various degrees, everybody here is a valued colleague.

One of the difficulties in examining this race is making sense of the volume of turnout between the population center, Adams County, and the other seven counties. As nearly as I can determine, none of the three candidates has any particular base in Menard County, which can be expected to have the second largest GOP voter turnout. There is a noticeable lack of palpable excitement in the local GOP for any particular statewide candidate. When one of these statewide candidates comes to town, all the usual suspects seem to show up. Then there is the primary date. We have never had an off year, gubernatorial primary in February before. The spontaneous, nonregular primary voter is those more unpredictable. My assumption, based on not much, is that any clear winner in Adams County is likely to win circuit wide.

If all that were not ambiguous enough, we have the relatively low bar ratings for each of the candidates. My own view of the ratings for all three GOP candidates is that they were a little stingy. I cannot explain those ratings but from my own observations and experience. I can say, without doubt, that there was no democrat lawyer plot to downgrade any of these candidates. Finally, I have never had the vaguest idea how bar ratings impact the electorate. In other words, "do actual human beings really care what lawyers think about other lawyers?"

Adding the ultimate layer of confusion are the three very different and distinct campaign paths of these three men have taken. Downey has waged an aggressive television and yard sign campaign. It is probably the nature of his job that it has been difficult for him to get to a lot of events in the outlying counties. Television in a low turnout primary is usually a losing proposition. Moreover, Downey (a really nice, warm man) is not displayed to best advantage on television. His stiff and stern presentation likely scares small children. While I am always the last to know about direct mailings to GOP primary voters (there are none of those in my house) I suspect his resource allocation has kept him from doing a lot of direct mail. This is a mere guess on my part, based on the finite nature of campaign money. On the other hand, Ed is a competent lawyer and makes a very nice personal impression. He is a veteran politician, having run for judge in a Southern Illinois circuit a few years ago (an interesting trick for someone who was full-time employed by Adams County.  He must have worn himself and his car competely out). Essential questions here are "what is the impact of television in a low turnout primary?" And "can a relatively poorly produced TV ad and only marginally camera -- friendly subject still move voters?"

Any discussion of Brenner has to begin with his undeniably appealing personality. He is just an awfully nice guy. He has a great many satisfied clients who are largely Republicans. His campaign has been a bit unconventional. I understand he is embracing a direct mail strategy. His campaign souvenir is a shotgun shell. This is true "to type" because he is a gun enthusiast but sort of presumes that all Republican primary voters are gun-huggers and that may or may not be true. By all accounts he has gotten around. His talking points are his family's deep roots in the community and the general nature of his practice. The second argument is fairly made.  He is an able generalist.  The second argument is a double-edged sword. Generally speaking, the tighter the regional candidate ties him or herself to Quincy, the more resentment or resistance the candidate runs into in the outlying counties and townships. Those votes count too. Brenner was also a little bit late to the party in having an Internet presence.  Downey was there first and Brenner's timing sort of made his presence look like "me, too." Not knowing enough about Brenner's direct mail, I have to say his only winning scenario is to pile up big numbers among old-line, habitual Republicans in Quincy and hold on for dear life as the other counties come in.

Adrian's principal advantage is that he is a known commodity in Adams County politics. I have not noted any particular Internet advertising presence on his part. His yard sign presence has been good but not great. Of the three candidates he probably stands the best chance of mounting some kind of relatively effective primary election day effort. He has family connections in rural Adams and Brown County. Brown is a small county but winning it would certainly not be a bad thing. He has some recent publicity from a relatively high-profile case and has conducted himself admirably in that context. Even people who opposed him politically are unlikely to quibble about his ethics and values. He has run countywide in Adams County before (although that was in a presidential year, a relatively high turnout election) and knows the mechanics of getting to events and tightening direct mail lists. It is likely he has the most experienced political help. His approach is the opposite of Ed Downey's. He is pitching his campaign to known, presumably Republican primary voters, on the apparent assumption that not a lot of independents will be requesting GOP ballots (or maybe any ballots -- this election being pretty much a major snooze for non-insiders.). Adrian has a couple of other marginal advantages. As nearly as I can tell his wife is  well-known and well-liked. His daughter is an athlete of some note. It is not a stretch to think that he has an advantage in name recognition, region-wide. On the other hand, it is fair to say that he has his detractors among GOP courthouse insiders.

The curious thing about this campaign is that I have seen no evidence of any of the three candidates campaigning on their relative ability or their opponents' relative inability to win the general election in the fall. Given that there are some ethical boundaries to what judicial candidates can and cannot promise or advertise, that argument might have to be a bit muted but I've seen no sign of it.

Because I do not see the inside baseball GOP direct-mail, I can only go on general impressions of the thrust of the various campaigns. Of course there is going to be a very small population base deciding this election. As between Adrian and Downey, Adrian's concept seems more sound to me. Downey is paying to broadcast a message to a population, about perhaps 2% of whom will actually vote in the eighth circuit GOP primary. (Note that a lot of the digital images Ed is paying to send are a) going into Missouri; b) being seen by people in the 9th Ciruit; c) Beamed into Sunny Iowa and d) being viewed by democrats and independents who have no intention of voting in a GOP primary.  On the other hand, if Adrian's strategy can simply get out most of the people who voted for him in the 2004 Adams County primary, that may be enough to win circuit wide.  On the other, other, other hand, Adrian has to worry about any turnout effort he undertakes having the misbegotten effect of turning out Brenner voters.

If the race were simply Adrian against Downey, I would handicap Adrian as the favorite. But it isn't. Brenner is a serious presence. He has satisfied clients. He has lifelong family friends. He has a decent collection of folks who have been in civic and community organizations with him. The question for him is not so much a question of Adams County politics. The question for him is "can enough people be exposed to his appealing personality, a circuit wide, to win a dull, bleak winter primary."

At the end of the day, your friendly Basin's hunch is that Adrian's organizational assets, local electoral history and campaign Assets in place., pull him through in a tight race.  Do not, however, bet the ranch, or even the North Forty, on this outcome. For all the reasons noted above, nobody really knows who's going to show up to vote on this thing, let alone in which counties.

The real fun will be in deconstructing the stats after the race is over.

In the meantime, we could have some more fun by your sharing your guess at the winner here and why.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


For those of you who have followed my boards that preceded UMRBlog, I'm sure you will recognize this screed.

"Gays, gasp, in the military.  What to do about them?"

How about nothing much?  Ask anybody with enlisted service.  We all knew who the gays were in our units and we didn't much care.  It just never was a big deal.

If you consider this a problem, you have to define the mischief.  The only possible mischief unique to gays only applies to CLOSET gays.  If they have secure military information, they can blackmailed into providing it to the forces of evil.  Openly gay people provide no more threat to security or morale than openly heteros.  Yes there is the possibility of sex up the chain of command, sexual exploitation and reverse sexual exploitation (where the one who doesn't put out fails to get the job or promotion), the very same threat with all human beings of all persuasions.

And please, please don't wail on the "cultural problems" in a paramilitary organization.  Gays have served heroically since at least the Roman Empire and still do.  It's a made-up issue.

So the Basin Solution is simply this:  If you want to serve in the United States Military, you have to tell us once, before you're sworn in, your sexual preference.  No closet.  Beyond that, your country welcomes your service.

See, that wasn't so difficult, was it?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Among the GOP Governor candidates, there is one guy my team can't beat, one guy who can't win a primary and one guy one of Dems could beat, but not the other Dem.  The last guy is ahead based on some polls but Who knows?  We've never had a Governor primary in February before so nobody knows anything about turnout.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


this is just funny.


There were serious acts of comity and accessibility being committed in Your County Clerk's office yesterday.  This needs to be looked into.

Had some business over there.  Walked in the main doors and two apparent election judges SMILED, STOOD and asked me if I was there to (gasp!) "early vote."  I told them "No, Thanks" and went to the desk.  A deputy clerk got up quickly and helped me with my business,  asking one pertinent question and then urging me to "have a nice day" (Don't you dare tell me what kind of day to have!).  Then, just to top it all off, I thanked the apparent election judges for inviting me to early vote and they committed two protocol violations.  They both thanked me and smiled.  They clearly had not read the early voting election judges' handbook or the the Adams County Clerk's Urban Legend Rudeness reputation Manual.

I have early voted before and this is simply not the way it's supposed to be done.  It used to be five forms of I.D., Full Body imaging software and a bomb-sniffing dog.  You hadda be a real man to early vote.  Now, those were the good old days.  A little pain brings out the flavor of a constitutional right.  Are we just going to let properly registered voters and taxpayers of our county get services in our Clerk's office without a sincerity test and a little hassle?   A little hazing ritual keeps out the riff-raff.

If this kind stuff keeps up, people will stop cringing before they have to go to the Courthouse for something. Why, they treated me like I was a.....uh...customer.  Oh, wait, that's what I was.


Monday, January 25, 2010


I can't wait to see how my "experience" is "enhanced" (click here)

It will be especially interesting to see if I can even tell that the lady putting out the samples of mini-corn dogs (available for purchase in 132 unit packages) is employed by somebody else.

It is certainly reassuring to know that this is being done to enhance my experience and not for some kind of cost-cutting purpose or to abandon older workers.  I would have worried about it otherwise.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Not long ago, I found myself in the presence of a molecular opthalmologist (practicing almost exclusively in genetics-based treatments), one of the top five experts on the migration of bald eagles and a heavy equipment salesman.

It turns out, Heavy Sales was a self-identified expert in wine. In fact, he was such an expert that he held forth on wine for more than an hour without coming up for air. This he did despite the obvious fact that Molecular Doc and I weren't drinking any wine at all and Eagle guy was nursing his first and only glass.

Soon the experience was over. I never got hear about Molecular Guy's latest work with Usher's Syndrome or Eagle Guy's view on the relationship between the Flood of '08 and the Mississippi loafing habits of the younger, male Eags.

I'll probably see Eagle Guy again but not in such a relaxed atmosphere where he could share some of his knowledge and enthusiasm with me. I'll probably never have another opportunity to hear (even the fourth grade version) about genetic medical applications and the equipment that enables them. More's the pity, Molecular Guy and Eagle Guy liked each other and clearly wanted to talk about each other's field. All I would have had to have done is sit back and listen.

Instead, Mr. Oenophile blocked out the conversational sun on a topic that interested no one at that table but him.

I've never been bothered by wine snobs before. Wine Bores are a completely different story.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


My RSS feed was out for a while.  No idea why.  When I fixed it, some of my feedees got bombed with my last six months of posts.  Apologies, operator error, I guess.

I'm good for about one a day.  Sorry for the bomb run.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Geez, I hope this is a spoof of some kind.


Speech is protected and money is speech. Way to go, Judgies.

No matter who you are and what you have, you can play (except in Illinois where we are so very proud of our campaign contribution caps.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010


The Brown election didn't tube "health care".

Hell, there was no "health care" bill on the table.

Why would anybody want to cram something down folks' throats that they didn't want? People, by a majority, want the disqualification of pre-existing conditions eliminated. They want non work-related portability. Most Repubs want it, too.

How about just passing a "health insurance" bill and letting that cook for a while. If we need tweaks, the people will support them.

This whole "health care" movement was taking gas before anybody knew Senator Elect Brown Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


For those who missed it (this would be everybody in Forgottonia), Comptroller Dan Hynes is Running against Governor Pat Quinn. In parts of the State where it actually makes sense to spend money on television (i.e., Buttload of democratic primary voters in the market area) Hynes is on TV attacking Quinn rather savagely for secretly letting dangerous prisoners out of prison early. Fair enough. Quinn is attacking Hynes for not being a credible source and pointing out that two of Hynes' employees are accused of doing some naughty stuff with either State Money or State property. Also, fair enough. None of that is confusing--Tedious, but not confusing.

Hynes is not on television in the Basin. Quinn IS putting up his "counter-attack" ad on the local stations. Now, that's confusing. Why counter something that the locals are not seeing? Why remind them or your very own "Willie Horton" caper?

Somebody should be thinking more about content than about placement.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Don't just read the article. Make sure you watched the vid, too.

Master Criminal at work.


San Diego in a war. True, they won't be able to run the ball much, but they don't rely on it anyhow.

Indy in a difficult clinic on pass coverages. If Balt. breaks a couple of long runs early, this one could get strange.

Dallas in a tractor pull. Neither team has a full complement of special receivers. Vikes DL is supposed to be special but Dallas' runs better and is healthier.

Hardest one for last. Saints over Cardinals. Key here is time for DrewB to throw. I suspect he'll have it.


Friday, January 08, 2010


How many draft slots did Colt McCoy cost himself by using the words "dead" and "arm" on national TV?

Thursday, January 07, 2010


I don't know the story on what exactly Leach did with respect to the player who had the concussion, so I have no opinion on whether he should or shouldn't have been fired. Still, I know he was an employee of a State. Generally speaking, when a State fires an employee, there must first be some manner of due process examination of the "for cause" violation. In Leach's case, they just handed a termination letter to his lawyer.

When all the huffing and puffing is done, the State of Texas is going to be writing a check, no matter how insensitively the Coach behaved.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Just kind of sitting here watching it come down and wondering what the TP'ers position is on snow removal. Since it's not in the City's Charter, maybe we should just wait around until the free market handles it or until it melts, whichever comes first. Man, think of all the overtime, fuel and chemical costs it would save.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


When you cut through all the esoterica, the health insurance reform effort had three pillars: portability; universality; and cost.

Skipping the polemics of whether government involvement in maintenance of carriers is good policy or bad policy, universality without cost control measures is just eminent domain in a different colored shirt.

Whether we like the way the House did it or the color of Pelosi's contact lenses, the house version addressed all three pillars.

The Senate, on the other hand, managed to do two expensive things. They bribed
with your money at least two members to vote for the thing. Then, in order to pass it, they took out the cost control provisions (OK, they left in the interstate boundary part, but that's lame). So they gave us portability and universality without the cost control features to make participation an opportunity instead of an obligation.

It's hard to argue that the delivery system now is very good. It is nothing more than one way of rationing (I laugh when people say "we'll go to rationing"--Rationphobe, we're rationing on wealth and employment now, not to mention geography. There's always rationing. We just use a different metering device from some other Western Countries.) It is equally hard to argue that the Senate version leads to anything any better. I don't think I'd love living under the House version either but at least it deals with all three pillars. The Senate didn't throw the baby out with the bath water. They held it under until it drowned.

Very strange.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


Everybody looks forward on New Year's day, 'cept me. I look backwards at memorable times. This holiday my stream-of-consciousness goes back to:

My Bride Catching the Bass from Hell on her birthday;

Summer School one year at WIU (curious decision). Breakfast was a cup of coffee @ Roe's Dairy and one game of pinball. Sometimes I could make that game last all day, in which case class took gas;

Pheasant Hunting with my Dad;

Being the first member of my family to graduate from College, by about four hours;

Being Sworn in to the Arksanas Bar with Bill Clinton next to me and Hillary Rodham behind me;

Getting three job offers on the same day;

Surviving telling my eventual in-laws I wanted to marry their daughter;

Watching in Awe as the Russian Army occupied Czechoslovakia;

Spending time with Hamilton Jordan;

Spending time with Spencer Haywood;

Going through my first Autopsy;

Putting my favorite dog to sleep;

Innumerable times when the Good Lord put his hand on my shoulder to rescue me from whatever damn fool thing I'd started before I killed myself or some innocent bystander.

Friday, January 01, 2010


Texas Tech fired a coach for brutality and his last name was not Knight?