Tuesday, November 13, 2012


The heroic Alamo defenders included fighters from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia,Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana,  Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina,Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

Here's just one example:  Andrew Jackson Sowell came to Bexar and the Alamo from Tennessee in advance of  Col. Bowie as a scout and forager  He was scouting when the Mexican army attacked.  He couldn't get back to the Alamo so he attacked the Mexicans as they repositioned..  He seized the Gonzales cannon and survived.  He settled in Texas and later became a decorated Texas Ranger.

(Note:  there were also fighters from England, Germany, France, Ireland and Denmark.)

So, having been assisted in their finest hour by heroic fighters from all over the United States, these ingrate dickweeds want to freaking secede.  I guess they don't get the whole "Provide for the Common Defense" thang.

Men like, Bowie, Crockett and Sowell who came from all over this land to stand with you, say, "You're welcome, Assholes."

Sunday, November 11, 2012


My assignments in the military took me to all branches of service and their respective bases/posts.  I would never have met these guys, had I not served and my life would have been much the poorer for it.  Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent or even the moderately guilty.

Jack, USAF, Washington--a Mormon gone completely rogue.  Spoke three languages and read at least three books a day.  Before the invention of the microchip, was a human spreadsheet, able to put complex data in an order where you could run scenarios with it.  Once loaned to NASA to tell them how they were storing their data incorrectly.  He served four years.  He did so many evil things to the Soviets that, had he stayed in, the cold war probably would have been over by 1970.  After the Soviet Union dissolved, he worked in the Ukraine to improve their schools.  He died about six years ago and there is still a hole where he used to be.

Jim, U.S. Army, Special Forces, North Carolina--Small, wiry man.  facile mind.  World Class poker player.  Was literally my running buddy.  We used to do training runs on a beautiful beach during our lunch hours.  A wonderful, funny man with a steely demeanor if and when anything happened he thought wrong or unfair.  He was also a closet gay.  This consummate soldier was killed in an ambush in Vietnam.  I do not know the details but I am confident he was a hard target.  I visited him on the wall my last trip to D.C.

Bob, USN, Iowa, -- Perhaps the highest IQ of anybody I have ever known.  Spoke and wrote in at least three languages, an expert in port topography and Chinese Geography.  The guy was a ranked bridge player with a bucket full of master points at a very young age.  I played in some events with him.  It was like drawing Ben Hogan in a two man best ball.  He was a bit of a hermit and didn't let many people in.  He's the only guy I knew whose bland job title was, itself, classified.

Francis a/k/a "Frankie" Sgt, USMC, Little Egypt, Illinois--One of those guys who does everything right.  He had perfect military bearing and played his rank role just right.  Off duty he was as personable as anyone you could ever ask for.  Everyone wanted to go out with Frankie when he went out, not necessarily because he was a great guy--which he was, but because he was a "chick magnet".  His rejects were more interesting than what most guys could scare up on their own.  Frank did 20 and retired but died soon after from multiple ailments related to Agent Orange.

Craig, Chicago, USCG--I met him pulling him out of a cold harbor.  Teased him about having to rescue the rescuer but we all know it happens sometime.  He hated college and was desperately in love with a girl who lived, like, a block from a Coast Guard station.  He concluded he should drop out of college, join the Coast Guard and surely they would send him to where his lady love was.  Sure enough, it happened just like that.  Only problem was the girl promptly got engaged to someone else.  Craig fell in love the Coast Guard and made a career out of it.  Ultimately, the Coast Guard sent him to six years of college (which he loved the second time around).  He's retired and still a civilian instructor at a station about a mile from where he grew upHis two sons are serving, one in the Coast Guard and the other in the Marine Corps.  In his spare time, he plays cards and gripes about the Government.

The point of this self-indulgent walk down memory lane is that military experience is enriching far beyond discipline and testing oneself.  The world and its people become your classroom, if you will just let it unfold for you.   

Saturday, November 10, 2012


What a relief!  We have put the public through such trying times, asking them to understand the supposed $716B "cut" in Medicare, the difference between and Embassy and a Consulate, and when manufacturing Jeeps in China is not really outsourcing.

Now, an American hero has ridden to our rescue.  He's given us a sex scandal.  We've got sex, emails, a possible triangle and a "bang your biographer" subplot (See, we know this one--Thanks, Jack Welch.).  Now, we've got something everybody can understand back in the public eye.  Whew!

Not only is it easy to understand but it is easily predictable.  Sundry of the Watergate and Iran-Contra born-agains will comment on public (or pubic) corruption.  Franklin Graham will say it's because the Godless Democrats are in charge and Howie Kurtz will opine that the press is having way too many thrills reporting about it.

There will be hearings.  There will be books.  And the only conclusion will come as we all discover new, shiny objects to take our attention off of this one.  

Friday, November 09, 2012



As a general rule, successful organizations are headed by folks who are either "concept" people or "detail" people. Coach Royal was one of those unusual folks who is both. Well before anyone had conceived of the huge pyramidal organizations that are now commonplace in college football, Coach Royal visualized and built the prototype at the University of Texas.

In order to do that, he had to first conceive of it and then to figure out in detail how it could be operated without a global loss of control. Before most other coaches accepted the simple truth that the boosters were the consumer and the players were the best barometer of morale, Coach made a point of staying in touch with those two constituencies. This had the effect of creating a groundwork for what is now the highest grossing athletic department in college athletics.

In addition to this considerable and groundbreaking set of talents, Darrell Royal was a modern American philosopher. One of the reasons I attend continuing education and skills training is the Darrell Royal quote that hangs on my wall: "Luck -- is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." Of course, as coach freely admitted, this is not original material but a paraphrase from Napoleon, Bud Wilkinson and even Woody Hayes.

It is fair to say that Darrell Royal was a man of great power. I was privileged, quite by accident, to spend a day with him totally out of the limelight. He was earnest, humble and thoughtful. You would never have guessed that he was held in awe in the Southwest.  Much of what he thought, he stated in the form of a question ("Do you find it difficult to get a clean hit on the ball from dormant Bermuda?"  [after he fluffed a pitch shot]). He was careful never to interrupt anyone else, always waiting until the speaker had completed a thought.

In short, I felt coach to be an incurably positive guy. That's a tough thing for the world to lose. There are simply not enough of them around.  I count myself lucky to have known him, if only fleetingly.


I literally met Mr. Flick over breakfast.  I was eating at a golf course in Southern California and the grill room was crowded.  I was alone at a four top table and he asked if he could join meHe introduced himself and I did the same, but I already knew who he was.  I was eating already and he quickly ordered his food.  After he ordered, he asked what I did for a living and I told him.  He asked me how much I read in conjunction with my work and how often I needed math skills.  He asked about the Mississippi.  He asked about the Cubs.  He was tremendously inquisitive and seemed interested in the importance of teaching (children, not golf.).  It was a fun talk.

More than anything I was impressed by how fit and stylish he was.  He was not teaching that day and yet he could have looked good in a photo shoot: muted plaid pants, dark red cardigan, bone white shirt and highly polished white teaching shoes.  He was not  young then but, even if one didn't know he was a celebrity,  one look and  you would know he was special.  Pride in one's work is a big loss but I understand Mr. Flick has passed it on to many teachers over his lifetime.  Another loss during this historic week.


Thursday, November 08, 2012


Tuesday night was, obviously, a "shock and awe" experience for Mitt Romney.

As details of his painful and disappointing night leak out, I find myself being disappointed at the glee some folks are finding in hearing about and/or rebroadcasting stories about Mr. Romney's pain and disorientation. I really do not understand this phenomenon. All the guy did was to run for the highest office in the land. He raised the money. He did the work. To be sure, there was a lot about his style and sense of entitlement that many folks found unlikable.

In the final analysis, we have electoral choices because relatively qualified people take the risk of running for public office. In each contested election, somebody walks away disappointed and, whether through fatigue, denial, just plain bad staff work or combination of all the above, usually hurt and confused. There are fewer rejections more personal than an electoral rejection.

On top of all that, the guy actually give a very decent concession speech and was particularly gracious to his campaign staff and his running mate.

So why would anyone want a man who engaged in such a noble undertaking to suffer? Why are people amused at the story of his confusion and the need for a field trip for him to compose himself and the shutdown of all the telephones for the staff contacts?

For my part, I am sorry for the Romney family's pain, grateful for their service to our country and would be fine if they make another $200 million in the next few years.

I very much like it on my side wins but I don't want anyone the worse for having engaged in the process.

[There is an exception to this general rule.  Watching Rovie pretend he was trying to prevent a journalistic error in the Ohio call, when is fact he was trying to avert a $390M disaster was just simply too funny.  Rovie and Morris can suffer a little and it's all right.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


It seems to me there were two lessons from the national election yesterday.  They are both pretty obvious but It never hurts to summarize the obvious.  Here Goes:


Maybe to say the same thing another way, don't be a one trick pony.  If you were all social issues, all of the time, you lost.  If you were all fiscal issues all of the time, you lost.  If  you were all negativity all of the time, you lost.  Whatever else McCaskill, Donnelly and Murphy were, they were folks who could speak relatively deftly on a broad range of issues.  The Congressmen who were obstructionists in the last two years were hanged by their own rope.  They were too much "Dr. No".  The electorate was reaching out for balance.  Locally, Frese was too stern and too partisan, to the exclusion of having a vision beyond the obvious piggy bank.  Donahue was too generalist and legislative, never really bothering to address the TASKS in the office.


Just looking at Adams County, five to seven thousand extra people come out when the presidency is on the ballot.  Who are these people?  Well, obviously, they are folks not interested enough to vote in off year elections.  They are not political insiders or news junkies.  They are folks whose lives include a vague understanding of politics and government and who have some stake in their own governance.  Still, they are more interested in their kids' schools, family activities, jobs, churches, hobbies and sundry other activities.  Given that they are not true believers, they tend to have moderate center or center-right belief systems.  In our case, they may be the people who did NOT remember that L. Donahue used to be a big shot or that her parents were really nice folks.  These are probably people who couldn't pull Bud Niekamp out of a photo lineup.  In short, these are people who are unlikely to be captivated by small guerilla groups like the TEA parties.  They are, in short, persuadables.  This is one reason why the 2010 approach was unsuccessful in 2012.

Of course, there's a correlative lesson here as well, for both parties:  Always conduct this year's election.  Don't replay last year's.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


For the uninitiated, SWAG = scientific wild-assed guess:

Illinois CD 17  Bustos 51+ Schilling 48+ 

The only argument for Schilling being in Congress was that he wasn't Phil Hare.  Bustos put on a Hell of a campaign and Schilling lost "nice guy" points when the attack ads on Bustos started.  Also Schilling was behind on the Belvidere assistance and the Freeport runaway shop.  The Tea Party elected a nice, if not nimble dude in 2010 and the not nimble catches up to them this time.

State Senate    Sullivan 52+ Frese 47+

Note: first time Sullivan doesn't win Adams County

Just a really cringeworthy campaign by both of these guys.  Sullivan had an excuse.  He had to run while convalescing from major abdominal surgery.  Frese has no excuse.  This was a winnable race and I believe it will prove out that he pissed it away.  Interesting to see the aftermath here.  Ten years ago Frese was a nice guy, citzen-politician.  By becoming County Chairman and running this attack campaign, devoid of fresh ideas beyond a generic "I'll spend less."  He leaves office looking partisan and thuggy.

People just love John Sullivan but endless attack ads have a way of raising questions about a guy, the kind folks don't ask you to your face.  I think you'll see Sullivan talk a bit more to the folks back home about spending and budgetary matters and a little less about how everybody gets along to do the people's business in the Illinois Senate.

Adams County Circuit Clerk

Geschwander 14322  Donahue 15128

There is no, repeat, no argument for Donahue occupying this office.  Does anybody really believes it is her life's ambition to file papers in the county courthouse?  But this is an old population and the old people still have fond memories of Donahue's family.  Also, Donahue is very personable (except when she's pissed) and an able campaigner.  Geschwander got much better at greeting the public but is not a natural backslapper/babykisser.  In addition, Donahue is a Republican and in Adams County that is the tie breaker (whether things are tied or not.).

Total Ballots Pulled Adams County


Adams County Results, President of the United States

Obama 9240
Romney 21560

Electrical Aggregation, Quincy

Narrowly Pass

There is a small government, libertarian argument against this and some folks have made it well.  The counterargument is "it'll save you money on your electric bill".  I'm guessing pocketbook vote here (although I'm not sure I know what a pocketbook even is.)

Judge Mays Retention

90%, Retained. 

Coulda saved the print costs on this one.  Hell, even the people Judge sends to the Pen think he's a nice guy.  That could be because he actually IS a nice guy.

Electoral College (Final)

Obama 284

Romney 254 

Of the nine swing states, I see Romney winning Fla., NC, Virginia and Colorado, Obama NH, OH, WI, IA and NV.  This is probably the last time we see Virginia red and It wouldn't surprise me if OH and VA are not official for more than a week.  It wouldn't shock me to see NV turn red either.  There are two red CD and a GOP favoring Senate race there.  But it looks like 15% of the turnout is hispanic, Obama probably holds on.  NV will not change the outcome in my scenario anyhow.  Wouldn't look for any victory or concession speeches tonight. 


I am sure virtually none of you is awaiting my predictions for this election cycle.

I have put them into the hopper and they will be autodisplayed about seven fifteen tonight.

Surely you are all now breathless with anticipation.

Monday, November 05, 2012


The reaction to several recent stories about heroin in the area and folks dying from heroin use has been most interesting to me.

When I was the chief prosecutor, everybody wanted to assure the community that, whatever other drug traffic we had, we didn't have heroin.  It was like the last threshold.  As long as we didn't have heroin, we weren't like "them".

Hell, kiddies, morphine sulphate has been circumnavigating the world for at least 700 years.  It is simultaneously ignorant and arrogant to suggest that any one community is immune to the traffic.  It has been in the tri-state area my entire adult lifetime.  It'll be here after I'm gone and it will be here no matter what alternative drugs the traffickers offer up to supplement it or in its stead.  The lure of morphine sulfate has triumphed over human frailty for time immemorial and will continue to do so.  Face it.

All of which makes the Pike County Sheriff's statement about the vigilance with which he fighting drug traffic more interesting.  First of all, woofing on your own performance in a death case is a little bit of bad taste.  More than that, however, is the obvious question, if you're doing such a great job against the traffickers, what's this heroin doing in your county?  

Of course, it's an unfair question.  100% detection is not possible and, by and large, heroin movers take precautions that other candymen don't.  Still, when you brag instead of just giving credit to all who worked the case, you're gonna get questions like that.

Stay tuned.  You haven't heard the last of the poppy here. 

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Here's the situation.  Donahue is already collecting two pensions and free medical care from the state.  Not a bad thing.  Not a good thing.  Just a thing.  She's gotten a bit tender of late on the whole pension thing.  Geschwander has straight-up painted Donahue as a double-dipper.

In response to this, Donahue says she won't accept the pension and health insurance from the taxpayers of our county.  OK, Peachy.  She doesn't need the health insurance.  The pension is more interesting.  Adams county is a member of Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.  Contractually, they must withdraw pension from employees' paychecks and make matching payments.  So far, that's where this whole psychodrama comes to a screeching halt.

So, what if you were a journalist assigned to cover this race?  Wouldn't you ask Donahue if she had checked with IMRF to see if it were even possible to decline the pension?  Wouldn't you call IMRF and ask what the rules were about elected officials declining to participate in a pension fund?  Of course you would.  It's just too easy. 

Maybe the office isn't viewed by local newsies as important enough.  Maybe since the race in 2002, nobody believes anything Donahue says about herself or her financing so fact checking isn't necessary.  Maybe it was just more interesting to write about other stuff rather than drill down into campaign flak.

But if an earnest journalist would have done this, we'd have known whether there was any basis at all to support Donahue.  Instead, we'll just have to guess at it.

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Lori Geschwander argues "I know this work.  I can do every job in the Circuit Clerk's office. Donahue doesn't and can't."

Laura Donahue says "I'm a celebrity with Statewide clout.  I can protect the office from [unspecified] naughty legislation."

That's all there is to it, folks.  Roll your own.