A New Can Of Worms
11 October 2003
Big Blow to Kathuria
Just got word from an interested party (one that I trust) that the Chicago Tribune dug around Chirinjeev Kathuria's resume. Apparently, it won't be a pretty picture. The story should hit tomorrow.
As Drudge would say,....developing....
10 October 2003
Cheeseheads with Guns
PolicyGuy John La Plante, who keeps an eye to our friends to the North -- Cheeseheads -- notes that Wisconsin is moving forward on a concealed carry law.
Illinois is further being marginalized on 2nd Amendment issues. Pretty soon Illinois will have the toughest gun laws in the nation by simply standing pat on the issue.
The Lynne Kiesling Points to Some Good News Out of California
It seems that in her estimation, the Gubernator is getting off to a fine start on the energy policy front.
Danniel Henninger Scores a Trifecta, Today
Henninger confirms what a lot of us have been saying about the country, today. Namely, that (1) the political center is shifting to the right. (2) there is no reason why guns, abortion and taxes aren't winning issues for Republicans and (3) Conservative is cool.
Illinois is a small "c" conservative state that is slow to change. Eventually, as a bellwether state, we will catch up with the rest of the nation. It just takes time.
Good for Hot Rod!
Every once in a while Hot Rod comes through:
"A budget-balancing move by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to force a large environmental foundation to surrender half its endowment to the state has alarmed environmental activists and philanthropists.
The administration says it has the right to grab $125 million from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, a private non-profit organization, because the state created the group and the budget signed this spring ordered the transfer to what a spokeswoman called 'environmental purposes."
The Donor's Forum in Chicago are crying foul. And of course there will be a lot of hand wringing in the General Assembly. But, quite frankly, the move on the part of the Governor will play well in Peoria. The more carping done, the better the Governor will look.
School officials admit they've failed to desegregate reports the Sun-Times:
"Using the bluntest language to date, Chicago public school officials admitted Thursday they've failed to fully desegregate the system but disavowed a report by their own expert who charged not enough money has been going to the most segregated schools.
Still, officials said they wanted out of the desegregation consent decree after spending $2 billion and more than 20 years on the effort. They blamed the system's dwindling white population--now at only 9.6 percent--and 'other factors beyond our control.''
Forced desegration came about...en, 1976? This is kind of like, oh ... I don't know... the Catholic Church stating that it was... maybe.... wrong about Galileo 500 years too late.
White flight from the cities has been the result of desegration. Even here in Springfield where African American represent 13 percent of the city population, they represent a disproportionate 50 percent of District 186 public school students.
The private schools in the city are bursting at the seams and the surrounding rural community schools are almost growing too fast as people flee Springfield's east and north ends for the greener pastures of places such as Pleasent Plains.
As stark as the evidence is, I find it highly unlikely will see a reversal of these disastrous policies. Those who have emplaced them have too much to lose.
09 October 2003
The Casino Industry is Being Heard From Again
Poker Magazine confirms some things I mentioned in a commentary last month:
"Casinos say they're losing business to Indiana boats that have lower tax rates and, by extension, more money to spend on marketing and incentives.
'We continue to lose market share,' said Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, a trade group.
The shift has been most noticeable in the Chicago area, where boats on the Illinois side have been losing ground to boats on the Indiana side for more than a year. Also, the two Illinois boats in the St. Louis market have posted slight declines in revenue, Swoik said.
Illinois has shocked the casino industry by sharply raising taxes two consecutive years. The first round, which took effect July 1, 2002, lifted the top tax rate to 50 percent, up from 35 percent. The taxes are assessed on a casino's adjusted gross receipts, which essentially are total bets minus total payouts. The top rate, which applied to receipts above $200 million, was the highest in the nation.
But this year, Illinois imposed more increases, boosting the top rate to 70 percent for receipts above $250 million. The state Legislature boosted tax rates as much as 7.5 percentage points for lower levels of receipts. Also, lawmakers raised the admission tax to $5 a customer, up from $3.
Blagojevich projected that the moves would raise an additional $200 million in annual revenue for Illinois. But a state economic panel says the revenue gain this year will total $160 million, or 20 percent below the original estimate. Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, warned this year that efforts to balance state budgets by increasing taxes on casino operators might backfire.
The latest Illinois tax increases were a blow not only to the biggest boats but also to the middle-market operations. But the new rates do more than boost a casino's overall tax bill and cut into its bottom line. They make the operators look harder at how they spend marketing dollars. Generally, that means fewer incentives for customers whose level of play is unlikely to yield significant new revenue. "
Opponents of casinos argue that they have a monopoly in Illinois. Clearly, if they are losing market share to Indiana and Missouri, the boats are not a monopoly.
Whether or not you like gambling, it does seem to be a good example of how tax policies impact businesses.
Only In Illinois
Forbes.com reports that Illinois parents are suing an Oak Park school over wireless network:
"A pioneering elementary school district outside Chicago has been sued for installing a wireless computer network by parents worried that exposure to the network's radio waves could harm their children.
According to the complaint, filed in Illinois state court, parents of five children assert that a growing body of evidence outlines 'serious health risks that exposure to low intensity, but high radio frequency radiation poses to human beings, particularly children.'
The Oak Park Elementary School District set up a wireless network to connect its schools to one another in 1995, long before such networks became wildly popular. A spokeswoman for the district, Gail Crantz, said it complies with all government regulations for wireless networks."
Is that the stench of trial lawyers I smell?
08 October 2003
John Cox Bows Out
Via Illinois Leader:
"On Thursday, Republican John Cox, will abandon his bid for U.S. Senate and endorse State Senator Steve Rauschenberger.
Cox's campaign spokesman Andy Bloom said today that he would not be allowed to comment until tomorrow's press conference at 11:00 am."
John has a lot of good ideas. I hope he continues to be active -- I very much hope he continues to work with me -- and he generally stays active in political circles. He is definately one of the good guys!
Lessons for Illinois??
Lexington Green of theChicago Boyz offers some insights on Arnold that hopefully will be learned here:
"I have been copied on a round of emails among California Conservatives who supported McClintock to the bitter end and loathed Arnold -- all this as if beating the Democrats was some kind of side issue. They are all, like me, pro-Life. They are not, unlike me, people who think that incremental gains and actually winning elections is an OK strategy."
He goes on to say in an email response posted on the site:
"I saw one report that Arnold won with 51% of the vote. In other words, he doesn't need the conservatives at all. He doesn't have to answer their phone calls, ever. So much for McClintock's principled stand. He and his (on current reports) 12% have proven their political irrelevance -- a Republican candidate can take an absolute majority in California in the face of their active opposition. Wow. McClintock and his supporters held a weak hand and they played it very, very badly, doing a serious disservice to their (and my) cause. Reagan would never have made that kind of missplay. Anyway, despite the best (i.e. inept) efforts (de facto, intent aside) of McClintock and his allies to serve as spoilers and keep the Democrats in, they and their de facto allies Grey and Cruz have (thank God) lost after all."
Illinois conservatives take note!
Speaking of Moral Bankruptcy
I was Only Following Orders
The SJ-R editorial today is far kinder to Tom Clay and the other state workers who gamed the system than I woul've been:
"STARTING LAST AUGUST, 40 term workers resigned from their jobs, obtained new jobs for a few days, quit those jobs and returned to their original positions. By doing that, they began new four-year terms, with the probationary period ending just before Blagojevich took office.
Nifty, huh? It was until Blagojevich decided not to tolerate their trickery and fired them. Workers were given a chance to return to their old terms, accept a two-week suspension and sign a form admitting what they did was wrong.
Clay and several others did just that. However, Clay crossed out a sentence on the form admitting he had done something wrong. That was probably a mistake. Clay finished out his term and was then terminated - he feels unfairly.
WE DO NOT DOUBT that Clay was a quality worker for the state. He got good performance reviews. That would indicate to us that he's also bright, which would make us believe he surely must have understood it was wrong to attempt to secure a new four-year term by deception - even if it was at his supervisors' suggestion."
There are state workers who did nothing wrong, didn't game the system and weren't friends of George but were still egregiously fired by Hot Rod. They are getting either new jobs or their old jobs back. That's good and Hot Rod should be pummeled for it.
But to hear people like Clay hide behind their supervisors is just pathetic. This country trains 18 year olds that just following orders is not a justification for your actions. We can expect a 19 year to be ethically mature enough to know right from wrong, yet we can't expect an $70,000 per year state of Illinois bureaucrat to know better. That is just sad.
It shows how morally bankrupt Illinois has become.
Denying WMD Becomes A Bit Harder
The WMD Evidence presented by the Asian Wall Street Journal (link requires subscription) today suggests that we are be ill served by the press and the Federal Government:
"The unclassified portion of Mr. Kay's report contains 10 single-spaced typed pages of revelations about Saddam's WMD programs. It is worth the time to read through them at http://www.cia.gov/
Mr. Kay's team found a prison laboratory complex 'possibly used in human testing of BW agents' -- and not declared to the U.N. The home of an Iraqi scientist brought the discovery of strains of biological organisms, one of which can be used to produce biological weapons. The team found new research on 'BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin,' none of which were made known to the U.N.
The team also found programs for unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, that could possibly be used to disperse WMD agents. We know from other sources that Iraq also had route-mapping software that covered U.S. territory. As to Saddam's nuclear program, the report says that 'the testimony we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior government officials' makes clear that 'Saddam Hussein remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. These officials assert that Saddam would have resumed nuclear weapons development at some future point.'
Saddam's program of mass deception has made the Kay team's job especially difficult. It arrived at some sites, such as the Revolutionary Command Council Headquarters in Baghdad, to find documents burnt to ashes, computer hard drives destroyed and equipment cleaned of all traces of use. The assumption that Saddam is still alive and in the country also creates a sense of fear among those in the know. Mr. Kay reports that two Iraqi scientists working with the weapons team after the war were shot -- and one was killed -- apparently as a signal to anyone else who would cooperate.
None of these facts have been allowed to get in the way of those who posit the Imminence Test and the Stockpile Standard as the new goalposts for clearing President Bush and Prime Minister Blair from the charges of waging unjust war. Both are postwar inventions, and transparently political devices to portray the war in Iraq in the worst possible light."
Despite all the evidence that the Administration was correct, we still have Kofi Anan trying to take down the narrow doctrine of pre-emption; journalists still doubt any evidence of WMD unless it's on the tip of an ICBM; and the left still continues to lie.
Rush Limbaugh often accuses the press of being "willing accomplices" of the left. I often disagree with that statement. However, it is clear in this case that press is mis-leading the world -- not just the U.S. Saddam Hussein did have these weapons; he did have these programs and had we waited or caved it would eventually have been too late to do something.
If there is something to blame the administration for it is this. The Administration is not brow-beating the press into changing their story line to the truth -- not spin, not propaganda -- but the truth. The Administration is to blame for not condemning reporters in private and in public for not telling us the whole story and allowing misperceptions regarding the causes and aims of the war to fester.
We've seen evidence of this on the rebuilding of Iraq, the press can just no longer cling to we're losing the peace story line in the face of all the evidence of the contrary -- no thanks to the Administration. It is time the Administration did the same on WMD.
For the Administration to not correct the press, to not combat the lies from the anti-war left and their allies in the Democrat Party suggests to me that the Administration is just as reprehensible and equally irresponsible as their most vicious critics.
07 October 2003
Governor Sending Delegation to Canada to Study Drugs
Hot Rod is sending a "fact finding mission" to Canada. Oh, well better now than January. Efforts to highlight the safety issue must be beginning to hit home with the Govenor:
"'I've asked the best and the brightest minds from the various areas of state government that would be involved in a drug importation plan to go see how the industry works in Canada,' Blagojevich said in a news release. 'We want to help taxpayers and consumers in Illinois save money on prescription drugs, but we want to make sure we can do it safely and effectively.'
The trip to Canada will cost about $12,000, said Abby Ottenhoff, a spokeswoman for Blagojevich."
I do know one writer I spoke with regarding the Institute's brief on the subject spoke with Abby Ottenhoff about supply chain safety issues.
Once you get past the simplistic arguments about cheap drugs, you find yourself in a veritable quagmire. The more people learn about reimportation; the more they learn about compulsory licensing; the more they learn about the rest of the world free riding off of them, the better off we will all be as a more sensible national discussion can then occur.
Are Illinois Manufactures Agressive Enough In Marketing Overseas?
According to a report in the Suburban ChicagoBusiness Ledger the U.S. Commerce Departments say, no, we're not:
"A recent study by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that more than 360,000 jobs or roughly 7 percent of all private sector jobs in the state are directly tied to manufacturing jobs linked to manufactured exports.
Despite the impact exporting has on Illinois' economy, few state manufacturers have taken advantage of the demand abroad for American-made goods, said Michael Hetzel, vice president/Americas Pro QC-International in Chicago and a board member of the International Trade Club of Chicago.
"A lot of the small- and mid-sized manufacturers are misinformed about what it really takes to sell products overseas," Hetzel said. "Many American manufacturers have this feeling of fatalism that U.S. companies cannot export and compete globally yet the U.S. is the largest exporting nation in the world. I feel many Americans aren't aware of that fact."
The biggest complaint among Illinois manufactures is that China is undercutting them with unfair trade practices. They're probably right, but apparently there is more that they can do to help themselves.
One suggestion, National Manugactures Association and maybe even the Illinois Manufacturers could redouble efforts to aid their members' export efforts through education, training and networking. Members, however, are going to have to suspend their pre-conceived notions and keep open minds about foreign trade. Our small "c" conservative culture in Illinois might make that difficult.
This is Rich...
SJ-R.COM - Durbin: CIA leak was vengeful act in Today's SJ-R:
"At a news conference, the Springfield Democrat said someone in President Bush's administration revealed the secret information to journalist Robert Novak. That unknown person committed a crime that is 'as close to treason as you can get,' said Durbin, who serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Attorney General John Ashcroft isn't likely to pursue an aggressive investigation into the matter, Durbin contended, so a special prosecutor should be given that responsibility.
'There is no other way to approach this,' he said."
Of course when it's Durbin under the microscope, we get a different story:
"An FBI investigation into possible leaks of classified intelligence about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is heavy-handed, according to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.
The Illinois Democrat contends the way the agency is investigating whether a member of the Senate leaked the information to the news media proves President George W. Bush's administration doesn't want Congress to conduct an independent evaluation of the attacks.
Durbin told the Chicago Sun-Times that the FBI was "ramping this investigation up to high levels" by asking members of the Senate Intelligence Committee for telephone records, schedules and other documents indicating any conversations lawmakers had with reporters.
"The personal interviews were not enough," Durbin said. "Now they want my personal schedules."
So, when its the FBI investigating Durbin one standard applies, but when the FBI -- career officials are handling this investigation not Ashcroft -- investigates anyone else it should apply a more aggressive standard. And people wonder why they don't even like the guy on Capitol Hill.
06 October 2003
Chicago Boyz Blog Bash!
It's in Berwyn, Il. This might be a must attend.
Wilson Scandal Becoming Surreal
If He is soooo worried about his wife's security, then why does he continue to promote his cause so publicly?
Why would you draw even more attention to yourself?
This scandal is taking on the pattern of the Clinton years in that these marginal characters making themselves house hold names in order to bring down the President. We've seen this before. It's quickly reaching the Vince Foster level of credibility.
05 October 2003
Price Illusion and Health Care
James Jaffe in today's Chicago Tribune gets to the heart of our Nation's health care dilemna:
"When the government announced the National Claritin Sale by effectively halving the price of the popular allergy drug for some users, it kicked off the latest round in the game of hot potato to decide who pays for medicine in America.
Contrary to political rhetoric, statistics suggest that consumers are winning. Each year, the percentage of the nation's health bill we pay directly out of pocket actually declines while our employers and our government pick up a growing share.
The bad news is that we're still paying more each year, even while our percentage of the total is falling. Economists would say we're paying for a slowly shrinking share of a rapidly growing pie."
We don't really see how much we are spending on health care because our costs are shifted to our employer, our insurer, or the government. We pay very little for health care services so we tend to purchase more than we need, because, afterall, it's not coming out of our pocket. This makes us more likely to use health services, for say cold relief or allergies, when we don't need to.
We have collectively deceived ourselves with the illusion that health care is cheap. It's not.