The Winner of the Simon Eulogy Sweepstakes

While I don’t want to treat the death of a great man as a joke, it is true that some of the eulogies in op-eds are boiler plates and some really capture the essence of the person being eulogized. I thought that many were quite good this time with Kass being one of the best. Even a bit better is Rich Miller’s weekly column which has a unique take on Simon. Given taste varies widely, I’ll defend the choice by saying I had a Grandmother much like Rich’s father and so I relate to his point better. My Grandmother never voted for Simon, but she did respect him more than most other ‘socialists’. And yes, she is rolling over in her grave at one of her grandkids–actually several. I’m the only one that votes in every election so while she may not approve of my choices, they will be tormented forever in the afterlife for every election they missed.

For the 1990 election I remember a friend, in our obsessive youth, all of a sudden noticing that Paul Simon wanted to spend more money on social programs than we generally trusted the government to do (a relative notion compared to more conservative readers). To me this was an odd objection simply because, well duh, Paul Simon was very liberal. I pointed out his support for balanced budgets and I believe the friend voted for him. But the discussion was strange because I had never realized how much I had bought into Paul Simon’s legend. This disturbed me that I had bought into a public persona. Later, in a fit of realizing what I should have long ago, it dawned on me that it wasn’t just a public persona, but a truly decent human being.

Paul Simon, dad explained back then to his completely astonished sons, was honest. Unlike most politicians, dad said, you could trust Simon’s word. Barely out of high school, Simon bought a newspaper and used it to rail against the mob and its political allies in the Metro East. He had real guts, dad said. Simon eventually owned a string of newspapers throughout southern Illinois, demonstrating a considerable business savvy, which my father admired.

I’ve always found it astonishing that a staunch conservative and Dillard Republican like my father would have so much respect, even reverence, for one of the most liberal Democratic Senators this state has ever produced. But dad’s opinion helped me to understand that Simon’s voting record wasn’t why voters gave him two terms in the Senate and would have gladly given him as many as he wanted.

It was the fact that voters believed they were electing an honest, decent, intelligent, thoughtful man to represent them to their nation’s highest legislative body. It wasn’t about sound bites, or good hair, or the latest wedge issue. It was, instead, about the pride in knowing that they were sending one of their state’s very best citizens to Washington, DC. They trusted him to do the right thing, even if they didn’t always, or usually, agree with him.

My grandmother did vote for one Democrat I think, but that was before I was born. It turns out that the Republican Sheriff arrested my father for some sort of weapons violation when my father shot a peeping tom who turned out to be said sheriff’s cousin. Today, the entire process would have been different, but in rural McLean County in the 1960s, my Dad was within his rights and that signalled the final straw for that Sheriff’s political career. Or maybe that was the primary where he was thrown out–if that is the case, she never spent more time in the booth than to punch the Republican straight ticket.

Miller’s father is voting for Dean now, perhaps showing a similar trajectory that Goldwater followed. As he aged Goldwater moderated his views on several issues. The most hysterical was his gruff take on gays in the military–it doesn’t matter if a soldier is straight, it matters if they can shoot straight. The most important being his realization what Glen Canyon damn did to the nature of his beloved Arizona. The most practical being taking on pricing in the cable/satellite business that opened up competition in such services.

My grandmother, on the other hand, is just shaking her head at me for my likely vote for Dean. Of course, at least I’m voting.

Denying A Federal Judicial Appointment=Slavery

Well in Leader La-La land that appears to be the argument. So the next time there is a Democratic President and they appoint a liberal African-American or Latino any opposition will be based on their race and not ideology, right?

I didn’t think so.

Really this whole line of argument needs to be declared dead by a corrolary to Godwin’s Law:

Godwin’s Law prov. [Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin’s Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. However there is also a widely- recognized codicil that any intentional triggering of Godwin’s Law in order to invoke its thread-ending effects will be unsuccessful.

In this case making ridiculous arguments that compare a fight over ideology to slavery should just be ruled as forfeiting the argument.


Spitting on the grave of not yet buried Paul Simon, are the Rosemont and minority investors who are whining that they only got their investment back with a small percentage of interest.

Here’s a small lesson in capitalism–if you invest in a corrupt enterprise you risk losing your investment. A stunning feature of capitalism is that the state let’s business fails if it is inefficient or it breaks the rules and is penalized.

Emerald executives agreed two years ago to sell the license and give all the profits from the sale to the state after state gaming regulators accused the company of failing to disclose alleged organized crime connections of some Emerald shareholders. Ms. Madigan insisted those shareholders and any Emerald executives accused of wrongdoing should not receive their money back.

If you want to invest in gaming, make sure your partners are clean. If you can’t verify that, invest elsewhere. Risk is an inherent part of any investment. As it is, the investment should be null and void. The company that entered into a contract with the State of Illinois violated the law and should have to forfeit the asset of a gaming license as a penalty. Instead, Lisa Madigan has brokered a deal to let investors essentially break even. While that bargain is not perfect, Madigan was wise to move the process along and avoid costly court battles. However, if investors insist the State pay them back and hold up the sale of the license in court–screw ’em and terminate any right to the license.

Speaking of the East Side

The problems in District 189 continue. Yesterday, the Belleville News-Democrat reported that six demoted administrators will maintain their salaries in their positions as teachers and desk job administrators. The longer story does point out that if they stay at those jobs during the next year they will be returned to the level of pay for the positions. The good news here is that the District is holding principals and special ed administrators accountable for results.

Synergy Alert

For those in the St. Louis Metropolitan Region:
(shamelessly stolen title from Eric Zorn)

I have an article on the absurd complaints about the suspension of site-based management in the SLPS in the Arch City Chronicle. Full story is only available in dead tree edition. Think of old grandmother’s warnings about shacking up if you wonder why.

For those looking for a great Christmas gift, consider the ACC and The CommonSpace membership together for the fabulous price of $60