A New Can Of Worms
29 August 2003
324,6126 Have Thrown the Towel In and Left Illinois
Danniel Henninger reviews the migration from high tax blue states (Gore voters) and the red states:
"The economies of California, New York and Illinois have been supported for years by inflows of foreign-born immigrants, and they still come. But this census shows large net losses even of recent immigrants in these three blue states. Almost certainly these are the most motivated, successful new arrivers, who know a lot about maximizing their gains. "
Henninger rightly notes that the most important votes cast our with out feet. Illinoinans have been for some time now.
Everything You Ever Needed to Know About the Mid-east in Two Paragaphs
Bernard Lewis in today's WSJ:
"These anti-American forces fall basically into two groups. The first, and in the long run the more important, come from the camp of al Qaeda and related religious movements. For them, America is now the leader of Christendom, the ultimate enemy in the millennial struggle which they hope to bring, in their own time, to a victorious conclusion. In the writings and speeches of Osama bin Laden and of his allies and disciples, hatred of America is less significant than contempt--the perception that America is a "paper tiger," that its people have become soft and pampered--"hit them and they will run." This perception was bolstered by frequent references to Vietnam, Beirut and Somalia, as well as to the feeble response to subsequent terrorist attacks in the 1990s, notably on the USS Cole and on the embassies in East Africa. It was this perception which undoubtedly underlay the events of Sept. 11, clearly intended to be the opening barrage of a new war against the Americans on their home ground.
The response to this attack, and notably the operations in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, brought a rude awakening, and that is surely why there have been no subsequent attacks on U.S. soil. But the perception has not entirely disappeared, and has been revived by a number of subsequent developments and utterances. Compunction--unwillingness to inflict as well as to suffer casualties--is meaningless to those who have no hesitation in slaughtering hundreds, even thousands, of their own people, in order to kill a few enemies. Open debate is obviously meaningless to those whose only experience of government is ruthless autocracy. What they think they see is division and fear--and these encourage a return to their earlier perception of American degeneracy. Such a return could have dangerous consequences, including a renewal and extension of terrorist attacks in America. By terrorist attacks, they believe, they will encourage those whose response is to say, "Let's get out of here"--perhaps even procure the election of a new administration dedicated to this policy."
28 August 2003
The Real Fight in Alabama
With all the chest thumping going on over the 10 Commandments and Judge Roy Moore's questionable judgement, it's easy to overlook the real fight in Alabama:
The fight is between the Republican Govenor Bob Riley and his attempt to foist a $1.2 billion tax hike on Alabama citizens ostensibly to close a $625 million budget hole.
OpinionJournal - John Fund's Political Diary tells the tale:
"Alabama Gov. Bob Riley should worry more about the supporters of his $1.2 billion tax increase than his opponents. The massive tax increase--twice the state's budget deficit--faces voters on Sept. 9. And polls show that it will be voted down."
A couple of notes to pass along regarding the fight in AL:
1. The Governor and his Democrat allies claim that raising taxes twice as much as necessary to close the budget gap will mean more money going into education. Opponents argue that none of the proposed tax increases are earmarked for education.
2. Governor Riley has already admitted that he is now a one term Governor. The lesson here is, if you want to have a political career, then don't raise taxes.
3. Tax opponents have organized across the Republican coalition. They've been adept at letting everyone have a seat at the table and allowed them to speak their minds. By doing so they have gotten support from groups even when agreement hasn't been unanimous. The Governor's agenda started out leading in the polls. Since tax opponents have engaged its been 20 points behind.
I wonder how much of Governor Blagojevich's new taxes go to the three areas he has named as priorities, public safety, education, health care?
26 August 2003
John La Plante's commentary on the need for Medicaid Reform was picked up today by Illinois Leader.
Just as we were releasing this last week, Dan Hynes, who must have our lines bugged (just kidding), announced that Medicaid payments were beginning to flow again. This is because of the President's $350 billion Jobs and Growth Plan passed by Congress earlier this year:
A "significant reason" for the recent cash-flow improvement, she said, was a $211 million payment the state received Aug. 6 from the federal government - part of $700 million in economic assistance the state expects to receive during the new fiscal year.
The money comes from the economic stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Bush this spring. The funds actually increase the federal deficit, but the package is expected to reduce federal debts in the long term, said Steve Tomaszewski, an aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.
It seems the President and Congress gave the Governor a short term respite on the Medicaid front. This, as the story points out, is still a long term problem and I believe the time is now to start pushing for reform.
Chirinjeev Kathuria Gains National and International Attention
Illinois Leader has the rundown on Chirinjeev lastest exposure to national and international audiences. Political professionals keep telling me that he has no chance of winning. I would suggest that Chirinjeev has made a lot of money by people underestimating him. I also argue that you never say never in politics.
I had a cousin who was a slam dunk in the GOP Primary to take on now US Sen. Dick Durbin in the then Illinois 20th Congressional District. He was a slam dunk because his primary opponent was a John Birch Society member and my cousin had the GOP backing. The Bircher won.
Billl Clinton had no intention of winning the US Presidential nomination in 1992. He was running to position himself for the Presidency after George H.W. Bush's second term.
Patty Murray was wholly unqualified for the US Senate -- Oh, I'm sorry that is US Patty Murray.
Now, am I saying that Chirinjeev will win? No, not at all. I'm saying you can't take the man lightly.
25 August 2003
The Patriot Act and Crying Wolf
Robert Bork, someone I can hardly call myself a fan of addresses the civil libertarian arguments against the Patriot Act in a recent Commentary piece. His main thesis is that the threat of civil liberties has been exaggerated:
"As it happens, “phantoms of lost liberty” is a perfectly apt description for much of the commentary that has been offered on the administration’s initiatives. It is demonstrably true, moreover, that people who recklessly exaggerate the threat to our liberties in the fight against terrorism do give ammunition, moral and otherwise, to our enemies. Asserting as much does not impugn the loyalty of such people. They are perfectly free to say what they think, and as loudly as they please. But neither should they themselves be immune from criticism, even by a government official."
Yesterday, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute wrote In Defense of the Patriot Act which argues that misinformation and exaggeration on the part of the civil liberties industry threatens to undermine the War on Terrorism.
We've a little discussion on the Patriot Act at Jeff Trigg's Random Acts of Kindness. Jeff is not one of these "it's my way or the highway" libertarians that Jonah Goldberg often finds himself the victim of, instead Jeff is nuanced, reasonable and understands that libertarians and conservatives share a lot of common ground where we work well together. But, on the Patriot Act I believe he and a lot others, as Bork and Mac Donald compellingly demonstrate, are crying wolf.
The libertarians are not wrong to be wary, and I certainly thank them for being vigilant because I think the threat is real, but it seems most of these egregious violations of civil liberties have been little more than inconveniances than the emergence of the police state. And as both of the above authors point out, a lot of these activities carried on by DoJ have been either long accepted practices codified into law by the Patriot Act or have not been yet addressed by the Supreme Court. The danger here, at least in my eyes, is that civil libertarians do themselves damage by crying wolf at what turns out to be reasonable and legal activities -- activities they don't prefer -- but none-the-less legal.
What happens if the then discredited civil rights activists really do discover egregious acts on the part of government? Will they be believed?
Drinking Dish Water
The lead in a Bloomington Pantagraph story today:
"Illinois soil is good for more than growing corn and soybeans, according to Illinois winemakers in Lincoln on Saturday for The Art of Wine event."
No, Illinos soil isn't good for more than corn and soybeans. Please don't try, you'll just embarrass yourself.
Casino firms are beginning to show up for the third license. Three firms according to Gambling News are interested in the 10th license. However, it is still not all good news for the Governor:
"Although companies are not disclosing their bid amounts, Simkins said the 10th license probably isn't worth the $350 million that the state wants for it now that the tax rate is so high. "