A New Can Of Worms
05 April 2003
As If the War Were in Doubt

"The tide turned," writes RW Apple in an "analysis" in today's New York Times.

Obviously, Mr. Apple must believe that this war was in doubt. You've got to be kidding me.

This war was never in doubt and the debate over quagmires, not enough troops, etc. have more to do with budgets than combat. R.W. Apple has been around Washington enough to know that and see it for what it is. He chooses not do so. Typical of the clowns at the NYT.

What Dubya Reads

How Books Have Shaped U.S. Policy by Michiko Kakutani gives us an intellectual tour through the Bush Administration.

I've read four or five collections of essays by Leo Strauss. I've always been influenced by the neo-con movement, but I've never seen Straussians so closely associated with it. It makes sense.

I've always thought of neo-cons as former liberals who had been mugged by reality. Irving Kristol leaps to mind -- interestingly he isn't mentioned in the article. I've never been a liberal, but apparently I am firmly in the neo-con camp.

Senate reversal gives governor OK on bonds

"That disturbs Republican critics. They warn that playing the stock market with borrowed money could cost the state dearly if the rate of return on the invested funds does not surpass the interest rate that must be paid on the bonds."

I find it odd role reversal that the democrat Governor is putting his faith in markets and Republicans criticize it as risky. Isn't this what we wish to do with a portion of Social Security. My beef with the plan is that it fronts loads the savings. We take the $2.5 Billion in savings and spend it now. I have a lot of faith in the stock market, but no one has that much faith.
It's A Little Early to Write-off Blagojevich

Tom Roeser get's a little ahead of himself in predicting the demise of Blagojevich. His handicapping of the Repubican field is a bit premature as well.

Judy Baar Topinka has come out for some reasonable restrictions on abortion which puts her with 80 percent of Americans. That's hardly a die-hard social liberal. She may have problems with social conservatives but if she continues to be solid on the state fiscal front she will be the choice of businesses.

The ILGOP is actually going to do some white papers for candidates and they are recognizing the importance of coalitions. We have the Bush Administration to thank for that. Now it will be a matter of following through.
04 April 2003
A Tough Business Climate Will Get Worse

The Chicago Tribune gives a glimpse of Illinois' future: "So business in Illinois may be facing a triple whammy--more state-ordered mandates, rising costs and higher taxes. What do you think that means for the business climate? Jobs disappearing. Investments going elsewhere." And the liberals running the state legislature just don't care.

Is the Guv Staying Above It All?

State deficit plan has new life even though Governor Blagojevich is largely missing in action. He has cancelled public appearences and hasn't been seen in Springfield as the legislature wrestles with the threatened loss of Philips Morris' tobacco settlement payments and his pension bond arbitrage currently on life support. Who wouldn't want to avoid that?

"I do have to cut him some slack that he's expecting a baby any day,"one senator is quoted as saying. "But in the past, I think we would have seen Jim Thompson, we would have seen Jim Edgar, and we would have seen George Ryan." However the govenor was willing to take time to attend Mayor Daley's press conference earlier this week.

I will say that if you want to highlight the need for reform in this state as governor, you stay out of the way and let the legislature behave as it normally does. If that doesn't build a swell of support for reform, nothing will.

Rosy Scenario is Back

Pension bonds' backers see roses, but not thorns according to Greg Burns of the Chicago Tribune.

There is risk in any investment so one wonders how much of this is huffing and puffing. No one had a clue what was going to happen to the US economy in the 1990's, so I am not as inclined to be as negative. Illinois missed out on much of that boom because of it's business climate and risk averse policies -- and I'll even argue business leaders are partly to blame. Perhaps a little risk around here is what the doctor ordered.

On the other hand... Senate Emil Jones has been floating selling off the tobacco settlement money as a way to balancing state books. However, his own rank and file has just defeated appeal bond reform, that would've saved Philip Morris from bankruptcy. A bankrupt Philip Morris threatens the Tobacco industry's Master Settlement Agreement in something approaching 45 states. Not only are we shooting ourselves in the foot, but a lot of other folks, too.

Senate Democrats are risking, through their obstinance in the face of truly necessary action, undercutting their governor. They need those tobacco payments to close the budget gap, but then again they would like nothing more than to raise taxes. Losing Master Settlement Agreement money may be the excuse they need. But, given the Emil Jones preference for borrowing against future tobacco monies, you have to wonder if anyone is charge at the Capitol.

Confused? Welcome to Illinois.
03 April 2003
Been Away

Yesterday I was in Chicago all day, away from my computer. A lot happened while I was gone. The State Senate rejected the Governor's $10 Billion bond proposal. The Governor's staff is currently trying to buy votes with pork. I've suggested to a couple of lobbyists and a legislator or two that stringent spending limits be implemented in exchange for allowing the governor to gamble in the bond market. It didn't sink in. Typical.
Half truths from the Educrats

More lies. I've contacted SJ-R reporters John Reynolds and Adriana Colindres to suggest they try to get the other side of the story. I'd also note that 500 protested against ERA last week, that was a much stronger turnout than 200 or so on education funding. The education establishment is going nowhere in a hurry.
SJ-R.COM - 50 school districts reject tax increases

Read this spin: "They did better than people were thinking in terms of the number that passed, certainly better than last fall," Batchu said. "However, I think there is a dual message."

This is dribble. Does anyone actually believe that people vote against hiking their own taxes and yet are more than willing to have state legislators hike them instead?

Clearly, as you read these stories we are only getting one side of the argument. And it is the side that keeps losing. You think reporters would pick up on that.
31 March 2003
Military Mirrors Working-Class America

Bringing back the draft is a stupid idea. And my old prof. Jay Williams offers a good bit of common sense on the civil-military cultural gap. A couple of points. (1) The rich have been getting out of the draft since the Civil War. That has always been the case. Ivy league graduates are not representative of society as a whole, so why would they show up in the military? Contrary to popular belief, they don't the country, it runs itself. (2) The military has been a method of upward mobility for the world's poor since the creation of national armies. Of course they are overrepresented. In many countries the military is seen as a modernizing institution because they teach members to read, instill discipline and employee the young.

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