I Highly Recommend

this article from the Illinois Leader.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Choose Life license plate obsession of the right wing is weird and completely out of whack to important issues, but whatever. What it does do is show very well how bills get killed in the Illinois House. The creation of sham committees that never meet are used quite often and are an easy way to avoid legislative responsibility.

On the other hand, this whine by Kevin McCollough is poorly informed as usual:

Last Wednesday U. S. Congressman from New York Charlie Rangel said on FOX News Channel, "I don’t think we should be bombing women and children…" Even for the mildly maniacal Rangel this was a moment in which he seemed crazed even by his operating norms. The sidewalk warriors went into action and by the end of the week the lunacy had been denounced at every water cooler in the nation.

McCollough might have noticed that Charlie Rangel served in combat in Korea. Whiny punks who have delusions of being sidewalk warriors might criticize his ideas, but damn well not his sanity or right to express himself about war.

Let American Die

Conventional wisdom in St. Louis is that American Airlines must be saved to save the hub status in St. Louis. Regular readers know that I think this is incredibly stupid and anti-consumer, but more importantly, efforts to keep inefficient airlines alive hurt consumers by keeping inefficent business models alive. Fortunately, Daniel Gross at Slate agrees.

But maybe they shouldn’t. What if we’re in the midst of a several-years-long era of lower demand, transparent pricing, and rising competition from upstarts free of expensive contracts and airplane leases? These airlines might emerge from bankruptcy with lower debt loads and better union contracts and find they still can’t compete. They might be setting the stage for a round-trip journey to Chapter 11?call it Chapter 22. Perhaps instead of trying to save all our airlines we should let some of them die off.


Bush League Move By Blago

While I think some of the whining about a New York aide is a bit silly, Rich Miller rightly takes Blagojevich to task for the faux pas of going to a legislative district in a negative mode when there is no campaign.

Rutherford was not amused. "To physically appear in my hometown, a half a block from my legislative office, on a day that I physically cannot be present to talk about something legislatively maybe isn’t the best way to encourage something to be accomplished," Rutherford told the Bloomington Pantagraph. "The way to work with Dan Rutherford is to pick up the phone and call."

Rutherford is a straight shooter and this sort of tactic is a good way to piss him off. To make matters worse, Blagojevich isn’t going to get far in Pontiac without some nod from one of the state Republican Represenatives or Senators. Pontiac is rock solid Republican town that a Democratic Governor needs to work with not against for support.

Hello Gary!

Gary Hart has added ArchPundit to his blogroll.
Why thanks! and I’ll be returning the favor!

I’ll be adding Dean’s as well, and well one can hope that I’ll be able to add a blog by Alan Keyes for the humor value.

Up DATE: It might be helpful to point out that despite writing a book with William Lind, Hart thinks he is a fruitcake.

Neal Bites for the Guv

The Sun-Times came out in support of Blagojevich’s plan to restructure Illinois’ pension debt. Now, Steve Neal has jumped in trying to sell it as an obvious choice.

The problem is that it isn’t clear that the deal is that great and the profits are taken up front. The revenue crunch isn’t likely to be one year, though this will be the worst. If a 10 profit is booked upfront, why is that a good thing? It continues the states’ tendencies to take one-shot deals to cover continuing expenses.

Not to be overlooked, it assumes that the return will be 6%. While that might be likely, the State of Illinois needs to fully examine the effects if that assumption fails and what it will do to Illinois bond ratings.

Finally, the fact that business supports the idea shouldn’t be surprising given Illinois state businesses will benefit from the sale and transactions.

Neal overlooks all of these issues which a responsible legislature should.

Watching MSNBC

Why does anyone care what Michael Savage thinks about embedding reporters? Admittedly, I’m happy to criticize the military on some things, but I think the generals are capable of making the correct operational security issues.

On the Arnett issue, yeah, Arnett said some pretty stupid things. I think the biggest issue from National Geographic is probably that he didn’t clear it and for MSNBC, well, he should have known to parse his comments better. There is a serious question of journalist ethics at issue, but let’s be real, the problem was his specific comment.

I’m not even that particularly comfortable with as strong of a conclusion as he made being said over Iraqi television. If he had qualified that a particular tactic hadn’t worked, that would be different.

From the journalistic ethics point of view, he became more of a story than a reporter and that is never good.

Finally, the good news, Nathan Bierma confirmed to me that Keith Olbermann is back on MSNBC. That almost makes up for hiring Savage.

On a note about Nathan, I’ve long been confused as to why the Redeye in Chicago is so concentrated on the deadtree version. I think that might be a part of increasing young readership, but a key component of building young readers is interactivity. A blog, like Nathan’s, would be an excellent tool to build the brand. Apparently, the Trib Company doesn’t get that. Too bad.

Red Team Blues

Fred Kaplan reminds us of General Van Riper’s ability to "be a real pain in the ass", by actually fighting instead of laying down during exercises.

I think it is clear the best case hasn’t played out. That doesn’t mean we are doomed or that this is a disaster. The US will win, and hopefully, our losses won’t be too severe. There are some nightmare scenarios that could evolve with Syria or Iraq, but those aren’t likely to be immediate concerns. Short term, we’ll win, and long term we need to find a way to manage a very difficult country.

The Armed Forces response to Van Riper is familiar to those who follow any bureaucratic agency, but in particular the armed forces. Richard Marcinko used to get the brass pulling out their hair when he ran a Red Cell team that checked base security. Marcinko is a bit self-serving, but the basic point remains that bad news is often buried or prevented from occurring. Marcinko was repeatedly overruled and hated for exposing the weaknesses in bases’ defenses at one point flying a Soviet Flag and saluting it as he went past a sub base taking pictures–and no one noticed. The Armed Forces don’t like bad news, but the hard truth is that bad news tells you when you need to innovate.

It is clear that some of our troops were surprised by fake surrenders and other such tactics. Why not? Probably not enough bad news was believed.

Energy: The Adults Are Back In Charge

In the rush to blame everything that was wrong in California on the most obnoxious Democratic politician in America, a little problem crept up. Gray Davis didn’t design the regulatory framework for deregulation of power in California, Pete Wilson did. It is clear now that the power suppliers gamed the system and screwed the good people of California. Of course, this doesn’t account for how Dick Cheney could be so clueless. Willfully clueless.

California botched dereg under Wilson when his appointees handed the rule making process over to energy companies. Gray Davis deserves most of the scorn he gets, but in this case, the administration looked the othwer whay while millions of people were bilked by crony capitalism at its worst.

Turkey: The Adults are Back In Charge

Anyone remember when George Bush claimed US Foreign Policy would be more humble under his watch?

He was wrong and the perfect example is Turkey. How strong of an ally is Turkey? Despite 94% public disapproval of the Iraq War, allowing the US to use Turkey to stage attacks came within a handful of votes of passing. Reading the article it is clear that Turkey miscalculated as well, but the essential lesson for the US is that we were arrogant and assumed their cooperation when it wasn’t a sure thing. Instead of massaging the relationship, we tried to push them around and it didn’t work. The Northern Front would have been helpful and it was doable.

Link Via Talking Points Memo

Bring On the Loons

Via Berger:

Happy Times are here again…Head St. Louis GOP Loon Bill Federer is considering another race for the 3rd District.

In the same article, it looks like Carnahan might be entering the race making it a three-way with Stoll and Favazza. Of course, does one count Favazza as one person? Given his heft he might be worth three people or none given his lack of political heft. The interesting aspect of the development is that Carnahan had been rumored to be recruited for a state-wide run. His comments suggest he is headed for a try at Congress.

Back to the loon. One of Federer’s more amusing tactics was to sue Gephardt for breaking into his and his brother’s office. Who broke in on behalf of Gephardt? Unidentified individuals. Uh-huh.

He got into a tussle with a student intern that taped him at a parade–though he was acquitted of assault.

From the P-D 2000 coverage some other irregularities include:

* Mr. Federer’s former campaign manager has met with Gephardt aides and allegedly told them that Mr. Federer had failed to report political gifts.

* St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch has asked federal authorities to investigate Mr. Federer’s failure to report the proceeds from the sale of a book of religious quotes from national leaders.

* Attorney General Jay Nixon is investigating allegations of self-dealing between Mr. Federer, a Catholic charity his family runs and the Federer real estate company.

The Post-Dispatch did a good piece of investigative reporting in October of 2000. The last bullet above is the most interesting. The family runs a Catholic Charity and essentially what is a fundamentalist Catholic charity that owns a building which brings in income for rents of around $226,000. Those rents go directly to the Federer family real estate management company. Non-profits are prohibited from paying directors for services. Duh. The Federer’s don’t seem to understand the conflict and actually tried to defend the relationship. And Bill Federer was paid significantly for managing the property, yet many tenants claim not to have seen him for quite some time.

But he sued Gephardt for break-ins by unknown assailants. Uh-huh.

Federer is a social conservative who rails against teaching evolution and the usual litany of social ills. On top of that, he is a complete loon. I hope the Republicans run him becaue he is great political theater. And the Democratic candidate will have it even easier.