Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I don't know whether WikiLeaks is good journalism or in the public interest.  I get the sunshine arguments.  The arguments about how this is not anything but confirmation of what other countries already knew was going on.  Guess I'll leave all that to the self-annointeds like Howie Kurtz.

Here is what I know a little bit about:  To work with classified information, you make a pledge to hold it close and to follow the rules about computer usage.  It isn't easy.  Just in my case (I keep people's secrets for a living). it limits the way I can use a computer, how I store stuff, what kind of smartphone I can use and sometimes even whether I can acknowledge somebody, sitting right next to me, is within my acquaintances.  Handling classified information is equally complicated and solemn. 

So, when someone takes on the duty to keep secrets and then, for whatever reason, redistributes them, it's beyond reprehensible.  It really doesn't matter whether they do it for money, love, recognition or advancement of a political purpose.  It really doesn't matter whether they're leaked to a foreign power or a media outlet.  If you undertake to keep secrets and you violate that undertaking, you're a puke.

BTW, for those of you scoring at home, someone who thinks the classification stamp shouldn't be used on a given piece of information has lots of options to make that right.  A worker with access who thinks he sees evidence of  a crime being covered up by classification has at least two discreet paths to a just result.

Think whatever you will about the publisher of WikiLeaks, but let's not make the leakers some kind of heroes.  They, by definition, are not.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


So, somewhere around 80 new peeps got sent to congress with the mandate to shrink government spending.  Last couple times that happened, it didn't work out that way after they took office.  

Ronald Reagan said he would achieve a balanced budget.  He never even proposed one.  What he did was probably correct because we finished off the cold war by printing defense dollars faster than the Russkies could create redeemable rubles.  Still the budget grew in high single or low double digits all of his years.  

Then came the "Contract with America"  class.  Their terms saw two 13% increases in federal spending.

A lot of so-called Progressives will argue that this means the conservatives are liars and promise-breakers.  I don't think that is necessarily the case.  I think these unkept promises are just evidence of how difficult it really is to turn the ship of state around.  

So that's the one argument that this isn't going to be any different.  It's just too hard to resist deeply entrenched spending or, worse "relatively out-of-control" spending (This is an actual CBA term).

The argument that it'll be different this time is more interesting.  These new electees are much more accountable to a smaller, more identifiable, more critical group of people than before.  If nothing else, the tax protesting types have shown they know how to win GOP primaries.  The pentagon and the bureaucracies will push back hard.  It is possible that the newly composed Congress could achieve a "Near No-Growth" budget.  If they did, it would mean the rudder on the ship of state had at least been turned, even  if not a full turnaround. 

If you see six and seven percent gross increases in expenditures, I guess it's "hate the game, not the playah."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


OK, kiddies, here is where this legislation is different from anything ever passed in the history of the republic:

The U.S. Government is requiring its citizens to buy something it doesn't sell.

If that is factually incorrect, please call my attention to where it has happened before (Ground Rules:  State Gov't doesn't count.  War Bonds don't count.  Please save me your skreed on whether it's a good bill or bad bill and for God's sake, spare me your Constitutional Scholarship Paper.).

I say we've never done it before.  Show me where we did, if we did.  

Monday, November 08, 2010


Oh, wait.....That was Rand Paul discussing where he'll make his to date mystery budget cuts.

I'm not sure but I think he pimped the Shrubster a little about the "two wars". 

Click here

Sunday, November 07, 2010


In Chicago over the last three days, substantially all "Black Leaders" have been meeting to come up with a "consensus black candidate".  The obvious strategy here:  Pick one black person and let the white people cut each other up.  Fair enough, I guess, but let's play a little, imaginary game......

Suppose that all the "White Leaders" (Irish, Italian, Polish, Lithuanian, You Name it) met to establish a "consensus white candidate."  You think anybody would find that offensive?  You think there might be some outrage at the overt racial play and the desire to head off black candidates?

It's been 45 years since the Great Society Civil Rights enactments happened.  In some sectors, we didn't achieve equal justice under law.  We just flipped norms onto their heads, where it's OK for black people to do something that would repugnant, if done by whites.

And the Chicago newsies just cover it like it's a perfectly normal political event.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


I admit it.  I've used assistance from an India-based personal services firm.  Got some good work for about 72 bucks.

But some things are just too important to outsource...Like the Presidency.  It just doesn't feel right:  "This is Barry.  How may I help you?"

Friday, November 05, 2010


Yesterday, I had to talk to a witness in a faraway state.  It took many calls to finally reach her.  She apologized for all the long distance expenses, leaving messages on her machine.  I explained to her that they hadn't cost me anything because I had flat-rated VOIP.

"You mean you're talking to me on a computer?"


"Well I'm hanging up and calling you on a REGULAR telephone.  I'm afraid you might give my (probably rotary) phone a VIRUS!"

She Did, both.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen:  I give you Sheriff Karl Groesch.

Nothing against the other fellow but Karl is one of those good guys who takes his work seriously but doesn't take himself seriously at all.


On Larry King live, describing Obama as "detached" and "out-of-touch" and the Screamer is a SUPPORTER!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


...Patting itself on the back, let me tell you who REALLY decided this election, writ large (See, Iowa generally, Ohio generally , Illinois Senate Seat).

There were basically three tiers of clearly defined voters who acted in numbers this time.  First was the Upper Middle to Middle class folks who cared about nothing but avoiding any additional taxes. They came out in large numbers.  Then there was the working poor who were just pissed off at the party in power.  These two groups are loosely lumped when talking heads sloppily refer to the "tea party" vote.  Most of these people would not self-identify as "TEA party"  They are pissed off all by themselves.  They didn't need any movement to be pissed off.

But the Third Tier is where this election is decided.  That tier is the HCND's.  That stands for "Hopey-Changey Neo-Democrats".  These are the (mostly) first time voters who had to call the doctor in 2008 because they were experiencing an Election lasting more than four hours. They worshipped the ground BHO walked on and were excited to be in the process.  They heard "Houston, this is our time.  This is our moment" and never bothered to ask the questions "Time for What?" and "Who is 'us' ?"  All they knew was they were gonna make history.  Well, been there, done that.  This time, instead of making history, they were history.  Each of their Hopey-Changey little feet found 315 other places to be and they somehow never got around to voting.  They weren't mad.  They weren't even disenchanted.  They were just dillentantes who had moved on to some other new hobby.   It was basically "Why should I vote in this boring, old mid-term.  Nobody's going to Grant Park afterward.  Let's get a movie." 

Some sociologist someday will do a white paper on this being the most perishable political movement in the post modern age.  I will simply, going forward, refer to them as the HCNDs and leave it at that.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


These little beauties are authored at around five p.m. on Saturday.  They will pop up @ five p.m. on Election Day so nobody can say Your friendly bloghost cheated.

ADAMS COUNTY TREASURER:- The stakes are very low (I know many fourth graders who could do this job adequately) but this is probably the most interesting race here and the most difficult to call.  Ankrom is  bright and technologically able.  He has almost too much personality.  Occasionally, while what he has to say is almost always worthwhile, he lacks an "off" button.  His ground game has been much better than Asher's.  Asher has all the personality of a radish.  He has the endorsement of the dearly-loved outgoing treasurer and a little experience working in the office.  He clearly has no idea how an assessment results in a tax, but he doesn't need to.  As he correctly says, the job is to deposit the checks and send the money to the entitled taxing bodies.  So he is a good fit for the job.  It takes not much talent and that's exactly what he seems to have in this area..  As I see it, Asher has three advantages: He was born here; He's a Republican and He's in that office now.  Ankrom has two:  He's smarter and more presentable than Asher and he's a Roman Catholic (yes, it is OK to talk about demographics when you're talking about politics--I don't work for NPR.)  In my book the guy with three advantages beats the guy with two.  Asher 52%  (It should be noted, I got Donahue and Sullivan wrong so don't call your bookie on this one)

ADAMS COUNTY TURNOUT--We have just under 40 thousand voters.  A decent off year turnout would be 22,000.  People were already really disinterested in politics.  Then along came the McCoy/Schilling/Munzlinger approach of pounding the airwaves with "Vote for me because the other guy's a puke!"  This clever ploy has resulted in a massive gag reflex that is sure to induce voters to have about 256 other things to do on election day.  Adams County Turnout 20,450 (but there still won't be enough parking at my polling place)

CIRCUIT JUDGE--Two nice guys.  Two adequately funded campaigns.  Slight edge in Ground game to Scholz.  Large edge in TV production to Scholz.  It's almost like Bob's TV producer was out to sabotage him.  Nobody wants a pugnacious judge and that's what Bob's TV makes him look like.  Very difficult Circuit to campaign in with three different TV Markets and influence of four metro daily newspapers.  In a non-presidential year, the reliable voter Circuitwide is softly democrat.  Scholz wins Adams, Pike, Calhoun, Cass and Mason.  Adrian wins Brown, Schuyler and Menard.  Scholz 53%

COUNTY CLERK--While the other races feature a good bit of partisan bickering, this is the opposite universe. Neither party seems to want to own either candidate.   Schaefer's request to be placed on the ballot was met by the guys in the Republican Central Commitee with all the joy of an adult mumps diagnosis.  He's a really good guy but he has all the speaking skill of a hockey puck.  Volm is efficient, effective and presentable but, and some of this is not her fault, has a gift for annoying the people in her own party.  So this is a "cringe and cross over" contest.  The bottom line is that Schaefer has no discernible talent for the tasks of this office.  Volm leaks five hundred or so Democrat votes but 2500 Repubs cross over.  It's the correct result.  Volm 55%

PHIL HARE OVER/UNDER--Not all of Adams County is in Hare's District (yes this is the last year for this abomination of a district and there is no reason for it to continue to exist.).  This race is probably gonna be decided by the slivers of Sangamon County and Macon County that are in the District.  There are just not enough people here in Adams to make a difference.  Having said that, Phil cut his own throat here by exposing himself to an open forum and that set up the now-famous video-editing.  The Chance Score any elective proposition is 20%.  I think Phil has been damaged enough that he goes under the Chance Score.  Also, Schilling has done an excellent job of remaining in the Witness Protection Plan when it comes to any actual issue that matters to the district so no one here is pissed off at him.  Hare in Adams County 18%

REGIONAL SUPERINTENDENT--Two very nice women here.  Democrat has run a somewhat innovative campaign.  GOP candidate has run the standard GOP Cookie Cutter Campaign (see, "Wallace, Loren").  With the Repub the appointed incumbent and well connected in the biggest school district in the Region, the challenger's only viable gambit was to try to cancel out an Adams County disadvantage with an overwhelming Pike Co. Majority.  Unfortunately for her, the Pike Co. GOP seems to be pretty well organized and she got started a little late on her "Southern Strategy".  Most people I talk to see Niederhauser in a walk.  I think it will be closer than that.  Niederhauser 52% Overall, by winning Adams and losing Pike.  Take note that Veile is an attractive candidate in every way and we may not have heard the last of her.  After redistricting and John Sullivan goes to Congress, she would, for example, make a mighty fine State Senator.  I guess it should be added that pretty much the only folks watching this race closely are maybe a dozen educators looking to add a pension.  Even the most sophisticated of citizens cannot identify how anything the ROE does impacts the quality of their lives.

MCCOY OVER/UNDER--It's difficult for me analyze this race because both men are such valued friends.  The question is not "who will win?"  Fischer has not pissed off nearly enough people to lose the office yet (there is always a critical mass for a Sheriff, but we are far from that.).  McCoy thought he would be running against a non-incumbent and that Fischer would be off to be US Marshall.  When that didn't happen, he was left with a campaign he didn't want and a pack of advisers who foam at the mouth and bay at the moon.  Since his '06 fairly civil campaign didn't get any traction, he decided to adopt a drive-by accusation campaign.  The whole thing was kind of "charge du jour" with no unifying theme and poorly explained positions.  You'd be hard pressed to find a taker for the other side of a straight-up "who will win" bet on Fischer.   So the question becomes does McCoy do better than '06? That looked something like this  

Brent A. Fischer (D) 12,763
Jon McCoy (R) 9,636

This would be 56.5% for Fischer last time.  Does McCoy's scattergun, angry campaign this time do any better for him than his ability-based campaign last time?  Can he pull any better than 43.5% by accusing people of "stealing"?  Normally, I'd say "no".  No question that carefully placed, well document attack ads have traction.  But Jon's were neither.  On the other hand the environment this election is a little differentThe few people who are active are active mostly because they are angry.  By and large, they are not angry at Fischer, but they are more susceptible to a quasi-populist, miserly approach, simply because they are already angry over things financial.  On the other hand Fischer has maintained good will with the rural community and other law enforcement in general.  The people who are already angry are mostly Republicans anyhow and the people who are political independents are unlikely to have been able to follow the rather convoluted bouncing ball that was McCoy's electronic campaign (Besides, a candidate has to be careful that his radio effort actually mentions his own name more often than his opponent's.).  I'm gonna guess that McCoy vaults the "over" mark and goes from 43.5% last time to 45% of a smaller sample this time. 

McCoy upgrades to 45% 

Three Quick Gut Hunches:  Brady (close) Lexi (close) and dems lose one Illinois Congress Seat and it's not Hare.

Finally, an observation:  The multiple polling places and the edgy nature of some of the newer judges has changed, not for the better, the atmosphere of our polling places.  What used to be a community greeting exercise has become a series of churlish grunts.  No wonder turnout is not on the upswing. 

Monday, November 01, 2010


Around noon on Saturday, you could stand in Quincy and listen to a strange, noiseless force field.  Happens every Saturday before a General Election.  That's the sound of voters making up their minds.  Advertising thereafter bounces off the individual voter's invisible protective shield.