Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Updated June 9, 2004 at 2:20 am:
Berkowitz on Jack on Guns; Berkowitz on Blago/Speaker Mike and their 2:00 pm meeting today with the other three tops [they are not even close to an agreement; the dispute, I am told by my operatives close to the five tops, could go into July]; Berkowitz on what Speaker Mike and Blago have in common; it always comes down to school vouchers.

Archpundit ( on June 8, 2004, links to my June 3, 2004 [3;30 am] entry, below, which consists of that portion of the transcript of my May 23, 2004 interview with Jack Ryan that relates to gun control and school choice/school vouchers (as well as those portions of two interviews that I did with Barack Obama in 2003 and 2002, respectively, relating to school choice/school vouchers.

Archpundit then lists a few questions for me. I have been tracking, if not stalking, Jack for the better part of the last decade and Barack, for about the last 5 years. So, although I can speak for neither, I am happy to try to answer any questions about either, with the caveat that we won't know if I got it right until I get a chance to ask them on my show, a press conference, etc.

Archpundit's First Serious Question For Berkowitz:

He [Berkowitz] asks Jack Ryan about his views on gun control and Jack gives reasonably decent answers. The question I have though is that Jack has said he wants background checks that are instant--would that include a law preempting Illinois waiting periods of 72 hours for hand guns and 24 hours for long guns? Or preempting the FOID requirement?

From his [Jack Ryan's] issue page he says:

Quick and instant background checks that are not de facto waiting periods are a first step towards guaranteeing the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens while at the same time keeping firearms away from those who shouldn’t have them.

To me, this reads as if Ryan doesn't support current Illinois law and that is perhaps arcane, but very interesting.

Berkowitz responds:
Archpundit, that might be too strong an inference by you. The general issues above come up in part with respect to closing the gun show loophole, which allows guns to be sold without the background check that is required by gun stores. If a three day waiting period is imposed on trade shows, that would close down the trade shows, many of which only last for about two days. So, the instant background check technology allows the gun shows to exist without (1) being used as a loophole for "bad guy," sellers and buyers of guns to avoid the background check requirement and (2) without infringing on the Second Amendment.

Now, if you could show the legislative intent of the Illinois gun purchase waiting period, if there is such, was intended to provide a "cooling off," period to avoid hot heads from buying and using guns illegally, I would imagine that Jack might argue that such a law might be a 2nd Amendment violation, which he might wish to see the Supremes overturn but which he would follow until they did. Also, if I am wrong and he would not think this was a 2A violation, then I doubt he would want the feds to preempt the state, wrong as he might think it was, as Jack Ryan generally favors government action, if we are to have it, by the unit smallest and closest to the people. Of course, there are exceptions to that principle that he would support, e.g., the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, or so I would bet.

Second Serious question to Berkowitz from Archpundit:

The interview also goes into some very good details on vouchers that people should take a look at if they have time to think through what is being said. Jack isn't unreasonable in terms of understanding the level of costs, though accountability still needs to be present (no one touched that so no assumptions are made about whether Ryan has good or bad ideas there).

Berkowitz responds:
Well, I think Jack Ryan would say accountability, at least as viewed by Archpundit, is a misplaced concern. If the school is not viewed as accountable or performing by the parent, the backpack and the student wearing it go elsewhere the next year, and so does, the $10,000 voucher. Indeed, why not give the $10,000 voucher as four coupons of $2,500 each, and you would see schools charging by the calendar year quarter. If the school was not performing after a quarter, some parents would choose to leave. That kind of market power by consumers tends to concentrate the minds of school owners wonderfully and very quickly, if not in a fortnight.

I mean, Archpundit should ask himself who sets the accountability standards for computers. Well, I think Dell knows you can go to any one of a number of competitors. That fear of losing customers tends to make Dell pretty accountable. Same with cars, watches and indeed, blogs. The reason people like Jack Ryan favor school vouchers/school choice, especially for the inner cities, is that they want low income minorities to have similar, if not identical, market power and accountability to the market power and accountability that Cong. Jackson's parents got by sending Jesse Jr. to St. Albans, that Speaker Mike Madigan and his wife got by sending Lisa Madigan to the Latin School, that Governor Blagojevich and Patti get by sending their daughter to a Montesouri school and that affluent suburbanites get, albeit to a lesser extent, by sending their kids to high priced public schools, with the cost of admission being the ability to live in the affluent neighborhood and pay the high property taxes, mortgages and rents.

People in affluent suburbs generally have small populations of students overseen by accessible, small school boards. A parent in Wilmette has less control and accountability than Blago has at Montesouri and Speaker Mike had at Latin School, but more than parents have at CPS. All Jack is saying is give choice a chance- and you will see accountability will be no more of a problem than saying Dell.

BTW, someone ought to tell Blago and Speaker Mike, before their 2:00 pm meeting today with Emil, Frank and Tom that Blago and Speaker Mike have something in common, after all: Both chose to opt out of public schools for their own kid and neither has chosen to be consistent and come out publicly for school choice/school vouchers, although Speaker Mike has said some nice things, I believe, years ago, about school vouchers.

BTW2, all of this stuff about the dispute between Blago and Mike relating to who can be a grown up on state finance, Mike talking about Blago's indiscretions and Blago talking offensively about Lisa is amusing but way off the point. This is all about Blago infringing on Speaker Mike's turf by trying to assist state reps. with their funding and resources to get re-elected. My operatives tell me those actions by Blago upset Speaker Mike immensely. I mean, after all, as Tip said, all politics is ultimately local and there is nothing more local to Mike than controlling his Reps' ability to get to and stay in the House.

Jeff berkowitz can be reached at