IlPundit’s analysis of Poe’s announcement

I’m a bit under the weather–yes still. I need out of Saint Louis is the underlying problem, but IlPundit analyses the political maneuvering of the Administration and for those of us quite critical of them, he points out they are good at this game even when it seems like they are fumbling.

I’m backed up on e-mail too-I should be getting to it over the weekend and hopefully some new postings.

Sweet Drops the Ball


Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about whether as a historian I can talk about how the Declaration of Independence was written, what Thomas Jefferson stands for, and whether it is good for American families to go on a walking tour of Washington to see historically the absolute fact that the Founding Fathers were deeply committed to the idea our rights come from God.”
I asked Gingrich if he were the most effective messenger, considering his behavior.

“You’ll have to make that decision.”

I did.

It’s not about the message. Just the messenger.

What the Declaration of Independence has to do with Belgian Education Policy in the Congo is an open question, and would have been fun to ask, if for no other reason than to deflate the obnoxiousness.

Belgian education policy in the Congo, 1945-1960

It doesn’t mean that Newt is unreasonable to talk to, but his professional expertise isn’t in American History and claiming that as a credential in such a case is weak.

Yeah, because that is Jim Edgar’s Legacy

From Cindy Richards:

However, if Blagojevich insists on trying to squeeze school funding out of the already dry well of the state’s general fund, he may be remembered not as a fiscal conservative, but as a man who lacked the political will to finally fix things for kids.

So, no mention of Jim Edgar’s lie about doing the tax swap during the 1994 campaign and then turning around and attempting exactly that?

I’m happy to slag on the Governor, but let’s not forget the garbage that got us into this place. Edgar is one of the most popular public officials in the State of Illinois to this day, but he lied about school funding and then failed to pass it. It’s hard to say that such a stance is going to hurt a Governor’s legacy.

That said, the rest of the column lays out a clear and coherent argument about the problem with the current system, but it doesn’t go far enough.

Over reliance on property taxes hurts rural schools and inner ring suburbs (AKA Daily Southtown areas) harder than areas that are relatively property rich. That is where the school are hit the hardest.

Ideally, a system should be set up where the State provides a minimum amount a community needs to run a school system and then it can tax itself if it wants to improve that level of education. With the state of the rural economy, the capacity to tax many rural districts is very, very small.

The problem is that we also simply have too many school districts. Many of the rural districts need to be forced to consolidate and when they do that, they need to be assured the consolidation assistance is there for them.

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I Get Letters

Since I created in late January, we have received a tremendous outpouring of support from conservatives throughout Illinois and received several offers for donations and over a thousand hits in under two weeks time. I?m very pleased to report the interest in the site has far exceeded my expectations. There has been much speculation about my motivations and background from Internet bloggers like yourself so I?d like to clear a few things up.

First off, I suppose it’s true as site creator, I am ?involved from Evergreen Park? which is in Illinois but not in the 18th district. I find it somewhat ironic since the blogger reporting this does not live anywhere in Illinois (see Eric Zorn column) but does an Internet blog exclusively focusing on Illinois politics.

Since LaHood is interested in ?gettting his name out? in northern Illinois and the rest of the state for a possible gubernatorial campaign, I think it is appropriate to create a site so that all Illinoisans can know what LaHood really stands for. I also think it?s appropriate to discuss LaHood?s background in the 18th since he felt free to run around proclaiming that ?Phil Crane hasn?t worked his district?, though I am quite certain LaHood has never lived in Crane?s district for one day in his life. Perhaps he visited and met some folks upset with Crane, and likewise I have met many 18th district Republicans who are disgusted with LaHood.

Regarding your comments that ?Peter Fitzgerald had horrible poll numbers and he didn’t like being Senator?, I would love to see any ?poll? where Fitzgerald was trailing Obama in a hypothetical matchup, let alone a poll that would show him losing to Obama by 40 percentage points. If no such poll exists, I can state pretty confidentially that LaHood erred in proclaiming we could ?do better? by lynching the incumbent.

Likewise, it may be true that Crane didn?t ?work his district enough?, but I an assure you that here in ?Evergreen Park?, our Congressman, Representative Bobby L. Rush, doesn?t bother to ?work? ANY part of his district except perhaps the Gresham-Englewood area and plenty of Democrats wish they could get rid of him in private. The difference is that Rush is not vulnerable in the general election because guys like Barack Obama don?t stab their incumbent in the back during the general election and provide ammo for the Republicans.

The most perplexing part of your blog is the section that argues 4 out of 5 alternatives to LaHood on my site are somehow ?wet dreams of Democrats and Blagojevich? Apparently you are stating that these candidates are less ?electable? than LaHood because they happen to be conservative, even though many of them have won over areas in the heart of Democrats, Inc. turf of Cook County, whereas LaHood has only proven he?s ?electable? in an ultra-safe Republican district.

Patrick O’Malley thrice won over a heart of Cook County district that is over 60% Democrat ? and is represented by the likes of Bobby Rush, Ed Maloney, Jerry “the iceman” Butler, etc. His district is entirely in Cook — filled with ?minorities? and ?blue collar union workers? and even includes a few parts of the city of Chicago.

Birkett ran neck-and-neck against the Madigan name in the worst GOP year ever and managed to carry over 43% of the vote in ultra-Democrat turf like Chicago’s 19th ward, and, as my site notes, was the STRONGEST non-incumbent Republican candidate on the statewide slate in 2002.

Shimkus, like LaHood, is ?little known outside of his downstate district?, but unlike LaHood, he represents a combined district that was once held by Dick Durbin, David Phelps, and Glenn Poshard.

It?s true that ?John Kerry won the state by 10 points?. I fail to see how a presidential campaign relates to a gubernatorial campaign. I could use the same faulty logic to point out Republicans won 7 out of the last 8 gubernatorial races, therefore any Republican is virtually guaranteed victory. On the national level, the GOP has faired poorly in the Midwest (including Wisconsin, Michigan, etc.) in recent presidential elections, probably they continue to run candidates from ?safe? Republican regions in the south and western U.S. The ?Median Voter Theorem? was ignored when the ?right-wing? Ronald Reagan, a native-born resident of Illinois, was the party?s nominee in 1980 and 1984. The result of this ?error? was the Republicans won all but three counties in this state and carried Illinois by double-digit margins.

In any case, thank you for your interest in I hope my email cleared up some of the misapprehensions and inaccuracies you have about the site.

Yours truly,

Bill M. Leubscher


Keep it up. Interparty warfare by the Republicans is great from my perspective. And trust me, I’d love for Pat 0’Malley, Birkett and Shimkus to be the face of the Illinois Circular Firing Squad Team. Keep up the good work.

BTW, the problem with the notion of the site supporting or opposing LaHood is it’s effort to portray itself as a grassroots organization based in his District. Feel free to meddle down there. It only helps the Dems.

Leader Correction Watch Day 1

The Leader, ever factually challenged, has screwed up again and this time at the expense of Modern Vertebrate.

He can join in the long waiting line of corrections. Of course, I’m on Day 241 of the Leader Correction Watch Concerning Jill Stanek’s column that claimed the Jack Ryan divorce case was sealed since the divorce was finalized. And Day 242 of the Leader Lawsuit Watch as to whether they’ll sue to unseal John Kerry’s unsealed divorce files.

The Liberal Vs. Conservative Media

IlPundit and IlliniPundit are having a discussion on media bias. For many who read ArchPundit, you know I come down as tending to think the media’s bias is more towards controversy and creating a storyline than to a particular ideology, though I’ll admit the underlying bias of reporters is towards being liberal compared to the general population.

To understand this, one has to understand what is going on when one self-identifies as a particular ideology. The seven point scale utilized in the National Election Study goes from Very Liberal to Very Conservative. Is someone who claims to be very liberal just as liberal as someone who is very conservative? Or more importantly is someone who identifies as slightly conservative as close to moderate as someone who is slightly liberal? Probably not and the problem is based on how people answer such questions.

The first thing one must understand is that most people in the general public have a very poor understanding of what it means to be conservative or liberal. In laymans terms, most people express conservative sentiments, but advocate for liberal policies. Mark Russell used to use a joke that was that Americans are Ideologically Conservative and Operationally Liberal. They will pontificate about the need for smaller government and then wonder where the government federal government was when there is a single case of salmonella in Wyoming.

And the data on ideology and beliefs largely finds this to be true. If anyone wants the cites, I’m happy to send them, but this is a basic rundown on what political psychology says about the average citizen.

First, they are dumb. And I mean that–they don’t know much about politics, but they have lots of opinions about it.

Second, they often have little understanding of what one means by conservative or liberal. People will often identify as being conservative and call for universal national health care. Or they will insist on having their own insurance, but say that a single payer system would be good. That’s typically what we call an inconsistent view.

Third, they don’t think politics is always the identifying characteristic of their political view. People will say they are conservative–meaning personally conservative, but then be politically liberal when describing their political views.

Fourth, and a much simpler issue, many identify as being conservative or liberal along different dimensions of beliefs. Many social conservatives aren not fiscially conservative and many social liberals are fiscally conservative. One can also add a variant to economic issues where people might be fiscially conservative, but support relatively more government role in managing the economy.

Add all these together, and many people take the notion of ideology self-identification as a problem.

Now, in comparing members of the media to the general public, this wouldn’t be a big deal if they were similar, but the very act of being a member of the media means a person tends towards greater political sophistication and thus, more accurate labeling of the beliefs and more consistency between policy and self-identification.

The first problem then is whether the public is really that conservative. It is and it isn’t. I try and point this out regularly. The public is overwhelmingly against gay marriage, but clear majorities support civil unions for gays and lesbians. Care to sort that out for me?

A majority of people are against elective abortions, but support the notion that the choice of an abortion is between a doctor and the patient.

People think we have too many regulations, but are in favor of greater regulation of corporations in terms of corporate governance.

Now assuming that the press self-identifies still more liberal than the average is probably true and even with the above, I’d say that is likely–does that make the press liberal in its reporting?

Not necessarily—much of press coverage is geared towards covering controversy. If you want to confuse (or bore) the average beat reporter, try to feed them a story about positive developments in City Schools for which there aren’t loud critics. What’s the story? There’s a tremendous story in terms of how bureaucracies work and how tax payer dollars are working and educating kids, but newspapers rarely cover such stories because the editors often see it as boring (and yeah, I’ve been on the other end of editorial boards where the editors just refused to see it as a story and then complained about how two boards past screwed something else up).

The media generally looks for the easy story to tell with a he said she said format. Committed conservatives and liberals hate such coverage because it is often post modern–it doesn’t deal with the facts of the underlying issue, but with how both sides explain the facts. The problem is the facts are often clear, but the member of the media doesn’t have the time or the expertise to sort them out.

In putting out a daily paper the problem is exacerbated because you have deadlines. The Post-Dispatch has yet to run a solid story on the budget situation in the Saint Louis Public Schools despite two years of controversy. Who ran a story that established the facts? A friend who runs a local community politics paper and I wrote the story. I dare you to ask the former education correspondent Jake Wagman what a TRANS bond is and get a coherent answer or even a glimmer of curiousity.

Not only is reporting the controversy easier, it sells more papers. People don’t like to read about the minute details of a public budget unless they are weird–and yes, I’m weird. They do like to read about the School Board member who put a Biblical Curse on the Mayor.

While this can be considered a broadside against the media, there are exceptions and in general I’ll give some of the papers around Illinois some credit for really delving into issues. The Trib does some of the best fact based reporting on education and No Child Left Behind and, of course, on prosecutorial misconduct. The Sun-Times has done some good work on the City Budget. State budget issues are well covered generally in the Rockford Register Star by Aaron Chambers and Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax does a lot of fact based reporting that goes beyond the he said she said.

But the daily stories infuriate partisans because they don’t have the depth of reporting and fact reporting that ideologues want and so both sides have a case to make the media is unfair. Making matters worse is the rise of the pundit class that gets on cable and confuses belief with fact.

Overall is the media underlyingly biased to the left? Probably, but it affects news stories far less than you might think. The nature of the business affects the story content far more than any underlying bias.

Let me take issue with one bit from IlliniPundit though….CBS didn’t deliberately use false documents, they used documents that they did not effectively vet. There is a huge difference between incompetence–even if you want to believe the incompetence had a motivation in wanting to believe them, and an attempt to pass on what may have been forged documents. It was incredibly stupid to do, but it’s a far different type of mistake.

The problem of discussions about media bias is that they inevitably select on the dependent variable–a bad story that is biased one way or the other instead of looking for bias in a larger swathe of stories. But then, ideologues get the answer they want when they select on the dependent variable so it works out for them.

The Gleaner Tells Colleagues To Loosen Up

And makes a good point about how blogging will be reigned in eventually:

You finally have a place where you can gas on until you faint.

Sooner or later you will either develop a following or expire from lack of air. Maybe you can ascend to talk radio. Maybe you can disappear. Maybe you can libel someone and get penalized so far back into the economic dark ages that you won’t be able to upgrade your launch platform.

All bloggers should make sure they have personal liability coverage. It’s usually a part of your Home/Renters insurance coverage. I have it and it’s fun so you can reply: So sue me if you don’t like it.

Of course, you better make sure you are right too.

Throw your Dick Gephardt as VP nominee in comments.

Madigan doesn’t update everyday, but his stuff is very good and should be a regular read.

As should the Watcher by Mo Ryan and the Trib who has a great TV oriented blog and is linked at the left.


If I thought he knew about me, I’d swear he’s trying to tweak me lately,

Blagojevich vows to veto any income tax increase for education

CHICAGO (AP) ? Gov. Rod Blagojevich has said he would veto any school-funding reforms if they included increasing income taxes because he’s not convinced raising income taxes would solve inequities in state school funding.

“I’ll veto any bill that raises the income tax in whatever form,” the Democratic governor told the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board Thursday.

Just asking, but isn’t whether the inequities are addressed a detail that should be part of the consideration? Instead of saying that you are against any increase, how about setting out specific conditions under which you would accept such an increase–one of those being that it actually solves inequities….

Another conditions could be that such an increase is revenue neutral.

Via Ralph

That Pesky First Amendment

School officials in Wilmette have suspended students for a web site that was developed apparently away from school. I believe Eric Zorn has brought up this issue previously and it is one that concerns me as well. If the behavior did not involve school equipment in the creation of the site, the students should be eligible for civil suits for the content, but the school has no business being involved. The school cites the site as being disruptive, but so could a site attacking the due process of a school’s judicial code. Disruptive can often be a good thing in schools that often value conformity over democratic criticism.

Now, the students involved appear to be insensitive jerks who deserve whatever punishment their parents dream up and certainly have opened themselves up to a libel lawsuit and perhaps a harrassment charge, but the school’s role in this, as reported is inappropriate.

Just Shut Him Up

What everyone seems to have missed is the Blagojevich starve the beast argument that is damn near reminiscent of Grover Norquist:

“He said to me, ‘Well, don’t you want the revenue?’ And I said, ‘Frankly, no’,” Blagojevich said. “It’s going to get in the way of the kinds of things that we want to do. We’ll never get the cuts in some of the places we want to get cuts. We won’t be able to downsize where we want to downsize. We won’t be able to make a lot of the hard decisions that I think are necessary to get the budgets in a better position.”

The problem is that the cuts are endangering public lands, continuing the problem in public education and avoiding dealing with a problem that hasn’t fully hit Illinois as it has other states: Medicaid and CHIP.

I’ll give you a way to demagogue on the issue and still deal with funding–dedicate funding, document the amounts and whenever anyone tries to divert it, have a press conference about it. But insisting that further funding is the problem (a separable issue from gaming expansion in many ways) doesn’t work at those problems.

To the credit of the administration–there is a line that says they are thinking about management issues:

Deputy governor Bradley Tusk said the administration had examined structures of similar boards in other states, including the possibility of a full-time paid board. The “unfortunate answer,” he said, is “there’s no system that seems to work any better.”

Comparative studies are great and I’m all for them–they are good for business after all (my business for those who don’t get the joke), but you have to have a functioning board in the meantime.