2

July, Lincoln and Springfield

 

 

Last Friday my family and I made our annual pilgrimage to Springfield to attend the Lincoln Museum and go to the Lincoln Tomb.  As we made our way though the Museum we encountered, for the second year in a row, a large number of Amish touring the Museum, the women wearing long dresses and poke bonnets that made them look as if they stepped from the 1860s.  The Amish were obviously fascinated by what they were seeing and talked among themselves in “Pennsylvania Dutch”.   Illinois has had a large colony of Amish in the Arthur, Illinois area, about 72 miles from Springfield, since the 19th century.  (Although the Amish are as theologically as far from the Church as it is possible for Christians to be, I should note that I have a huge amount of respect for them.  They take care of their own, and ask nothing from the larger society in which they live, except to be left alone, a sentiment which resonates with me.)

After the museum, as usual we had a first rate lunch at the nearby The Feed Store.  (Nothing shouts Midwest more than eating in a restaurant with a name like that.)  (I highly recommend their barley soup, their tuna fish salad sandwich, and any of their many variants of cheesecake.)

We finished our day at Lincoln’s tomb praying for the repose of his soul and the souls of his wife and kids.)  Once again I thought to myself how nice it was that the first or second greatest President in our history, has his tomb in a cemetery open to all, where there are no guards, no charges for admission, not even for parking.  You simply pull up to the small parking area next to the tomb, go in and make your way through the tomb.  We owe Mary Todd Lincoln for that.  After Lincoln’s murder, there was an attempt to have Lincoln buried in Washington with a grand mausoleum being erected thereafter over his remains.  Mary Lincoln would have none of it.  She took her dead husband, and had the remains of her dead son Willie exhumed, and traveled with them both back to Springfield for burial.  She wanted nothing more from Washington except to get out of there as quickly as she could, a city where she had suffered grief that makes her such a poignant figure in American history.  (An exhibit in the Museum shows her framed by a rain stained window, sitting forlornly, mourning the loss of Willie.  My bride and I, sadly, having lost a son know precisely how she feels.)  We made sure to rub the nose of the nose of the huge bust of Lincoln outside of the tomb.  Most noses of Lincoln on metal statues and busts in Illinois are shiny due to the Illinois superstition that rubbing the nose of a bust or a statue of Lincoln brings good luck.  With my son taking the Illinois bar at the end of July, it can’t hurt.

It wouldn’t be a McClarey expedition if we didn’t buy books.  We bought books yesterday at the Museum and the Prairie Archives bookstore in Springfield which boasts a collection of a quarter of a million books. Most of the books were about Lincoln or the Civil War (surprise!) and here are those books:

Lincoln the President:  The Last Full Measure, J. G. Ballard and Richard N. Current (1955).  This is the fourth and final volume in Ballard’s study of Lincoln.  At the time of his death in 1953 he had written only eight chapters.  In his will he suggested either historian Allan Nevins or Richard N. Current to finish his work if he could not.  Current took up the challenge, even though he had never written about Lincoln before, and completed the volume in 1955.  He later became one of the great Lincoln scholars of his day, writing numerous books on Lincoln and dying in 2012 at age 100.  Now I have the complete set.  I think I will read it backwards like witches are said to say their prayers. Continue Reading

35

Dissolve Illinois!

 

John Kass, the only reason to read the Chicago Tribune, has a column calling for the dissolution of the failed State of Illinois.  Go here to read it.  I see my chunk of the State would go to Indiana.  I could live with being a Hoosier if it meant being out from under the thumb of Cook County.

 

 

My preferred solution of course would be Illinois separating into two new states:  The Land of Lincoln and Cook County.

 

Alternative names would be God’s Country and Hell.

 

Heartwarming News From My Village

HT_Dwight_Township_02_jrl_160329_31x13_1600

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.

Proverbs: 19:17

 

I am proud to say that the two young men were members of my daughter’s graduating class:

 

Luke Arnold and Ryan Kodat were enjoying a snow day off from school in 2013 when they saw Herter out in the cold. A few hours later, they saw Herter again and approached him, learning that he was trying to make his way to Springfield, Illinois, to see his ailing father.

The two friends went back to Kodat’s house to get extra clothes for Herter and brought along Kodat’s father, who bought Herter a train ticket to Springfield, about 90 miles away.

“They got him on the train and that was it,” Kaiser said. “They’d just done something nice for him, not knowing it was a true story or not.”

No one but Kodat and Arnold’s family and close circle of friends knew about the good deed until Herter’s letter and check arrived at the high school last month.

While Kodat and Arnold, now both 21, went on to college and technical school, Herter discovered a surprise in his own life. According to his letter, he came into an inheritance of more than $1 million from his father.

He is now living in California, working as a stand-up comedian and writer, according to his Facebook page.

“He said to do whatever we wanted with the money, but it had to be in memory of his father and in honor of the two boys who helped him,” Kaiser said.

Kaiser and the district’s superintendent, Dr. Richard Jancek, decided to create two $500 scholarships for Dwight seniors to be awarded each year for the next 10 years. The award recipients will be selected after submitting an essay on a random act of kindness they’ve done. Continue Reading

8

How Corrupt is Illinois? This Corrupt

Understanding Illinois Politics

 

 

Ah, my home state.  Just when you think it has hit rock bottom it sinks lower.  Paul Mirengoff of the Powerline blog gives us the details of the latest outrage in the Land of Lincoln:

 

Arthur Bishop, the new director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), was convicted in the 1990s of bilking his employer, a substance abuse counseling center, out of money received from its clients. According to the center’s director at the time, Bishop created a bogus program for convicted drunk drivers. He took money from patients and provided them with forms they wrongly believed would allow them to get their driver’s licenses back.

Unfortunately for Bishop’s victims, the center wasn’t licensed by the state to provide that service at the time. Bishop pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, is standing by his decision to make Bishop the state’s top child-welfare official. He claims to see no connection between Bishop’s corruption and his ability to lead a department that has been plagued by charges of failure to keep track of its money. In December, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued a Chicago businessman and friend of a former DCFS director to recover millions of dollars in state grant money the businessman allegedly misspent.

If Quinn can’t see the connection between stealing and unfitness to run a large government agency, perhaps he can connect the dots on Bishop’s own “children and family” issues. Court records show that a paternity case was filed against Bishop in 2003, when he was a DCFS deputy director. DNA tests showed he was the father of Erica Bishop, then 17.

According to the child’s mother, Bishop, who was married to another woman when Erica was born, “denies his own daughter’s existence” even though “he visited us on numerous occasions at my parents’ house when she was a child.” The mother further alleged that Bishop “even asked me if he could live in with me if his wife put him out after she learned the truth.” Continue Reading

5

Illinois 48th? I Protest!

In a USA Today story Illinois is ranked as the third worst run state in the Union:

48. Illinois

> Debt per capita: $5,041 (11th-highest) > Budget deficit: 18.5% (9th-largest) > Unemployment: 8.9% (10th-highest) > Median household income: $55,137 (16th-highest) > Pct. below poverty line: 14.7% (tied for 24th-lowest)

Illinois has the worst credit rating in the U.S., having received the lowest rating of any state from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. Explaining its reasoning, Moody’s pointed to the state’s underfunded pension and ongoing weak fiscal practices such as bill payment delays. Only 40.4% of the state’s pension obligations were funded in 2012, the worst rate in the nation. Illinois also had the fourth-largest debt in the country at the end of fiscal 2011 at nearly $65 billion. The state faced high foreclosure and unemployment rates in 2012, both among the worst in the country. Continue Reading

15

Is Dick Durbin the Dumbest US Senator not Named Barbara Boxer?

 

 

 

 

John Hinderacker of Powerline asks the crucial question:  is Dick Durbin (D. Ill) the dumbest Democrat?:

 

The competition is intense, but Durbin is definitely a contender. Here is the latest evidence:

In preparation for a previously announced hearing on controversial “stand your ground” laws announced after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., sent letters to more than 300 possible corporate backers of the American Legislative Exchange Council, requesting their position on such policies in states across the country.

This is Durbin’s press release announcing the “stand your ground” hearing in his Senate Judiciary subcommittee:

Around 30 states currently have some form of “stand your ground” laws on the books. September’s hearing will examine the gun lobby’s and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in creating and promoting these laws; the way in which the laws have changed the legal definition of self-defense; the extent to which the laws have encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations; and the civil rights implications when racial profiling and “stand your ground” laws mix, along with other issues.

There are multiple layers of stupidity here, so let’s try to itemize at least some of them:

1) Self-defense is a matter of state, not federal, law. Why is Durbin’s Judiciary Subcommittee holding a hearing on a topic that cannot, and will not, result in federal legislation?

2) “Stand your ground” had nothing to do with the Trayvon Martin case, as both prosecutors and defense lawyers said, and as we and many others have explained countless times. Is Dick Durbin really one of the few who don’t get this?

3) As Durbin’s own press release states, around 30 states have some some sort of stand your ground legislation. That is a clear majority. There is a reason for this. Most people think such laws are a good idea, as shown by, for example, a strong 45%-32% plurality in this Rasmussen survey. It is not necessary to investigate the influence of some nefarious “lobby” to explain why popular legislation is enacted in 30 states.

4) Durbin’s attack on the American Legislative Exchange Council is a sad page in the current left-wing playbook. A previously little-known good government group (albeit one with broad support and participation among both corporations and legislators), ALEC found itself in the left-wing crosshairs a year or so ago, and has remained there. Why? Roll Call’s blog offers a clue: Continue Reading

7

Today Detroit, Tomorrow Chicago?

 

 

 

 

I view Detroit and its bankruptcy as a harbinger of things to come.  The blue state social model of ever higher taxes, ever expanding benefits for members of public employee unions and one party rule by the Democrat party is coming to an end.  The ending will be painful for people luckless enough to live in blue states, as I do, but this parasitical form of government ultimately destroys the private economy host it feeds on.  Walter Mead at Via Meadia has been prescient in seeing this:

 

It looks like Detroit may yet have competition for the distinction of America’s most poorly run city. The unprecedented triple-drop in Chicago’s bond rating and the city’s shiny new long-term debt figure—$29 billion—should have pols quaking in their boots. The Chicago Sun-Times has published some distressing numbers from Chicago’s recent audits:

In addition to the pension, law enforcement, and emergency response concerns that remind us of a certain bankrupt city across the lake, the report notes that three of Chicago’s four largest private employers (JP Morgan, Accenture LLP, and Northern Trust) are in finance. It seems like blue cities have a codependent relationship with the one percenters progressives claim to hate.

It hasn’t all hit the fan quite yet, but Chicago seems perilously close to real trouble. The city is all out of money, and with an imploding public education system and harrowing levels of violence, it is losing residents fast. Illinois, which itself lost more than 800,000 people to out-migration in the past two decades, is essentially Chicago on a larger scale, with hundreds of billions in unfunded pension liabilities and complete political sclerosis. The state cannot bail out Chicago, and judging by the feds’ reluctance to even lift a finger for Detroit, Chicago shouldn’t expect much more. Continue Reading

8

Illinois Taught Obama All He Knows About Governing

Lincoln Weeping

 

 

Well, the Land of Lincoln, and the home state of the South Side Messiah, has another distinction:

 

 

The Land of Lincoln now has the worst credit rating of any state in the nation:

llinois’ credit rating has taken another hit.   Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service downgraded the state from an “A” rating to “A-minus”, making it the worst in the country.

The New York ratings firm’s ranking means taxpayers may have to pay tens of millions of dollars more in interest when the state borrows money for roads and other projects.

The downgrade is the latest fallout over the $96.8 billion debt to five state pension systems.

The downgrade now ties Illinois with California, but California has a positive outlook.

Illinois’ fragile overall financial status netted it a negative outlook, putting it behind California overall.

The ratings came out now because Illinois plans to issue $500 million in bonds within days.

Finally…we beat California at something.

 

 

Continue Reading

6

Why Illinois Is Bankrupt

 

,

 

My beloved state of Illinois has a terrible economy, and a shrinking tax base but that is apparently no problem for the bi-partisan pirates who have been plundering the Land of Lincoln for decades:

When Republican state Rep. Roger Eddy announced his retirement from the House Thursday, you could hear the “ding, ding, ding” of a slot machine all the way from Springfield.
Eddy hit the pension jackpot.
He is retiring early from the House to run the Illinois Association of School Boards, which, among other activities, lobbies the Illinois Legislature. His start date is July 1 — although now that he’s leaving the Statehouse before the end of the spring session, he said it’s likely he’ll work for the association before July.
Why the sudden defection? One likely reason: He’ll be much richer in retirement, thanks in part to taxpayers.
In his new job, Eddy will not only stay in the Teachers’ Retirement System, he can collect more in benefits from it. He has been working both as a state representative and superintendent for Hutsonville Community Unit School District 1. He has been part of TRS through his Hutsonville job, where he earned a salary of $107,400. His new salary is expected to be at least $200,000, and his pension will be based on that.
Illinois Statehouse News reported that Eddy’s pension as school superintendent would have been about $70,500 a year. It will climb to at least $141,000 in his new job. His predecessor at the IASB, Mike Johnson, is earning an annual pension — get ready to swallow hard — of $193,273, according to TRS.
But that’s not the end of Eddy’s pension largesse. He’ll be eligible in two years to begin collecting a pension of about $24,000 a year from his nine years of part-time work in the Legislature. Illinois Statehouse News projected his lawmaker pension carries a lifetime value of $584,273. Eddy is 53 years old.
Continue Reading

15

The Land of Lincoln Votes

 

By thy rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois,

 O’er thy prairies verdant growing, Illinois, Illinois,

 Comes an echo on the breeze.  

Rustling through the leafy trees,

 and its mellow tones are these, Illinois, Illinois,

 And its mellow tones are these, Illinois.

From a wilderness of prairies, Illinois, Illinois,

Straight thy way and never varies, Illinois, Illinois,

 Till upon the inland sea,

  Stands thy great commercial tree,

 turning all the world to thee, Illinois, Illinois,

 Turning all the world to thee, Illinois.  

When you heard your country calling, Illinois, Illinois,  

Where the shot and shell were falling, Illinois, Illinois,

 When the Southern host withdrew,

 Pitting Gray against the Blue,  

there were none more brave than you, Illinois, Illinois,

 There were none more brave than you, Illinois.

Not without thy wondrous story, Illinois, Illinois,

 Can be writ the nation’s glory, Illinois, Illinois,

 On the record of thy years,

 Abraham Lincoln’s name appears,

 Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois, Illinois,

 Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

3

Another Win For Governor Quinn: Illinois Has the Lowest Credit Rating of all the States!

 

I have designated Governor Quinn of my homestate of Illinois the worst governor in the country.  Not content to rest on his laurels, Governor Quinn has continued to misgovern the Land of Lincoln with the skill of a spendthrift who is afraid that he has a cent somewhere that remains unspent.  Such diligence will always reap a reward, and one has now come to Quinn:

Illinois, unable to solve its long-running financial problems, was given the lowest credit rating of any state in the country by Moody’s Investors Service on Friday, a move that will increase costs to taxpayers.

A second agency, Standard & Poor’s, left its Illinois rating unchanged but warned of a negative outlook that could lead to a downgrade in the future. A day earlier, Fitch Ratings also left the rating unchanged and declared a stable outlook.

Lower credit ratings generally mean the state winds up paying more interest when it borrows money by selling bonds.

Both Moody’s and S&P said they are troubled by Illinois’ failure to balance its budget and strengthen government pension systems, although a tax increase and other measures have helped.

Moody’s cited “weak management practices” and a recent legislative session that “took no steps to implement lasting solutions.”

Moody’s now rates Illinois “A2,” below any other state. Only one state, California, qualifies for the next-highest rating. All the rest are ranked higher. Continue Reading

14

Lying Worst Governor in the Country

Imagine California without the sunshine, New York without the cultural elan, New Jersey without Chris Christie. That’s Illinois.

I have previously deemed the Governor of Illinois, Patrick Quinn (D.), the worst governor in the country.  Go here to read the post in which I bestowed the title.  After his meeting with the Illinois bishops on Friday December 16, 2011, I have attached “Lying” to his title.  The bishops asked for the meeting to protest the constant pro-abortion advocacy of Quinn.  After the meeting here is what Quinn said:

“A lot of the discussion was how we could work together to fight poverty, help the people who are less fortunate and need a helping hand,” Quinn told the Sun-Times as he left a Christmas toy give-away on the Far South Side. “Getting people jobs, helping people who don’t have enough food to eat — that’s what the church’s social mission is all about.”

This was too much for the bishops and they released the following statement: Continue Reading

23

Illinois is Economic Road-Kill

This can be considered a companion piece to my worst governor post which may be read here.  The video above  consists of selections from a speech by author Joel Kotkin to the Illinois Policy Institute explaining some of the ways in which the powers that be in Illinois have made the state completely uncompetitive with other states in producing sustained private sector economic growth.  If I were starting out I would leave Illinois.  Nothing good is going to be happening in this state economically for a very long time.  The leadership of the state is completely blind to our problems and promote policies that drive businesses away and sink Illinois deeper in a fiscal morass.  Illinois’ woes are completely man-made, and Illinois, thanks to a majority of the Illinois voters, remains wedded to a model of high government expenditure, hostility to private enterprise and unending political corruption that makes effective reform for at least the next three years a pipe dream.

36

Worst Governor in the Country

 

 

In a crowded field, Pat Quinn, Democrat Governor of Illinois, can now officially be proclaimed the worst governor in the United States.

He has been vying for the title ever since he took over from impeached and removed Governor Blagojevich, currently bound for a long stay in federal prison.  Since taking over from his felon predecessor, he has the following accomplishments to his discredit:

In a midnight session of  the lame duck legislature in January of this year he increased, in the midst of the worst economic slump since World War II, Illinois personal income taxes by 67-75%, and, as a result, the misgoverned state of Illinois became a national laughingstock.

He rammed through civil unions last year in December in another action of the lame duck legislature.

Quinn  got elected last year by a razor thin margin  largely by under the radar last minute internet ads posted by Personal PAC, a pro-abort lobbying group, headed by a Terry Cosgrove. As payback Quinn appointed Cosgrove to a $46,000 a year job on the Human Rights Commission.  Lake County Right to Life has good coverage on this story which may be read here.  Regular Guy Paul has been on top of the story at his blog here.

Now I happen to know Cosgrove from the days back in the Seventies when we were both attending the U of I. He is a lapsed Catholic, now a militant atheist, homosexual activist and fanatical pro-abort. He was head of the local campus pro-aborts and I was one of the founders of L.I.F.E. (Life Is For Everyone), the campus pro-life group. One time I saw Cosgrove at Mass circa 1980 at the Newman Chapel, at Saint John’s. Puzzled why he was there, after Mass I found out why. At the pamphlet rack in the back I saw that he had stuffed pro-abort obscene anti-Catholic pamphlets. I disposed of them. He also said in one memorable public forum that he carried a gun to defend himself against “militant anti-choicers”, as he phrased pro-lifers.  Quinn appointed him to the Illinois Human Rights Commission in April of this year. That a bigot like Cosgrove now has a seat on the Human Rights Commission in Illinois has a nice Orwellian touch.

Now Quinn has outdone himself and seized the title of worst governor.  As further payback to Cosgrove and his pro-abort pressure group, Quinn is going to attend the annual fund raising dinner for Personal Pac and present an award.  When challenged on this by every Catholic bishop in the State, and Cardinal George,  the ostensibly Catholic Quinn responded that giving the award was the “Christian thing to do.”  (Quinn obviously must have a unique gloss on the statement of Christ, “Suffer the little children…”.) Continue Reading

2

Teach One Day And Get A Pension

 

Even for Illinois this is putrid.  Two Illinois teacher Union lobbyists are able to collect teacher pensions because they each served as a substitute teacher for one day.   This of course is taking place in a de facto bankrupt state.

Over the course of their lifetimes, both men stand to receive more than a million dollars each from a state pension fund that has less than half of the assets it needs to cover promises made to tens of thousands of public school teachers. With billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, which serves public school teachers outside of Chicago, is one of several pension plans that are in debt as state government reels in a fiscal crisis. Continue Reading

13

Governor Quinn of Illinois Appoints Anti-Catholic Bigot to Human Rights Commission

The Governor of Illinois is Pat Quinn, a Roman Catholic and 100% pro-abort. He got elected last year by a razor thin margin  largely by under the radar last minute internet ads posted by Personal PAC, a pro-abort lobbying group, headed by a Terry Cosgrove. As payback Quinn appointed Cosgrove to a $46,000 a year job on the Human Rights Commission.  Lake County Right to Life has good coverage on this story which may be read here.  Regular Guy Paul has been on top of the story at his blog here.

Now I happen to know Cosgrove from the days back in the Seventies when we were both attending the U of I. He is a lapsed Catholic, now a militant atheist, homosexual activist and fanatical pro-abort. He was head of the local campus pro-aborts and I was one of the founders of L.I.F.E. (Life Is For Everyone), the campus pro-life group. One time I saw Cosgrove at Mass circa 1980 at the Newman Chapel, at Saint John’s. Puzzled why he was there, after Mass I found out why. At the pamphlet rack in the back I saw that he had stuffed pro-abort anti-Catholic pamphlets. I disposed of them. He also said in one memorable public forum that he carried a gun to defend himself against “militant anti-choicers”, as he phrased pro-lifers. That a bigot like Cosgrove now has a seat on the Human Rights Commission in Illinois has a nice Orwellian touch.  Challenged on the nomination, Quinn made the following truly hilarious statement:

Quinn said politics had nothing to do with the appointment, adding that Cosgrove is “a passionate advocate for everyone’s rights, everyone’s civil rights, everyone’s human rights.”

Continue Reading

12

What Faith Was That, Governor?

 

Pat Quinn is the Governor of the State of Illinois.  He was Lieutenant Governor under Rod Blagojevich and took over after Blago was impeached and convicted by the State Legislature.  Quinn bucked the Republican tide this year and won election to a four year term, narrowly defeating pro-life Republican Bill Brady.  In that campaign Quinn emphasized that he is a pro-abort.

Pat Quinn claims to be a Roman Catholic.  The State Legislature this week passed a civil unions (pretend marriage) bill for homosexuals.  Quinn has vowed to sign it.

Gov. Pat Quinn – who campaigned on the issue, lobbied members and was on the floor of the House for much of Tuesday’s debate – lauded the House’s action. Quinn said he would sign the bill if it passes the Senate, where a vote is expected today.

“My religious faith animates me to support this bill,” Quinn, a Catholic, told reporters after the vote. “I think, as a matter of conscience, this was the right vote.”

 

The Bishop of Springfield, Thomas Paprocki, wasted no time correcting the Governor:

After the Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation that would require the state to recognize same-sex unions, Governor Pat Quinn was quoted as saying, “My religious faith animates me to support this bill.” He did not say what religious faith that would be, but it certainly is not the Catholic faith. If the Governor wishes to pursue a secular agenda for political purposes, that is his prerogative for which he is accountable to the voters. But if he wishes to speak as a Catholic, then he is accountable to Catholic authority, and the Catholic Church does not support civil unions or other measures that are contrary to the natural moral law.

The Governor met the Bishop’s rebuke with a shrug of indifference:  Asked about the bishop’s statement, Quinn said, “I follow my conscience. My conscience is not kicking me in the shins today.” Continue Reading

5

Deliver Us From Blago

According to legend, the Vikings were so greatly feared by the people of northern Europe during the Dark Ages that they used to pray “From the fury of the Norsemen, Lord, deliver us!”

Of late, I suspect that many Illinois residents like myself are making a similar petition to be delivered from the fury of another force nearly as frightening.

I am speaking of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose trial on 24 separate federal corruption charges ended on Aug. 17 with the jury finding him guilty of just one charge — lying to federal agents — and deadlocking on the other 23. Federal prosecutors will retry Blago on at least some of the unresolved charges, but in the meantime, he has once again resumed his nationwide media blitz, protesting his innocence to anyone who will listen and making a complete idiot of himself in the process.

Continue Reading

11

Highland Park, Illinois: The Bell Revolt Spreads

In this post I discussed the outrage in Bell, California over “public servant”, yes that phrase often does have a humorous sound to it these days, salaries.  The revolt has now spread to Highland Park, Illinois, a fairly wealthy Chicago north shore suburb, population approximately 34,000, with a median family income of $100,000.00 per annum.  It is a limousine liberal type of town, which was in the news earlier this year when the assistant district superintendent decided to cancel a girl’s basketball trip to a tournament in Arizona in a transparent attempt to protest the Arizona immigration law.  Players and parents were mostly outraged by the decision.

Residents got a whole new reason to be outraged, when they recently learned of the sky high salaries and bonuses paid to Park District officials.  Ralph Volpe, head of the Park District, was paid $435,000 in 2008;  finance director Kenneth Swan’s salary leaped from $124, 908 in 2005 to $218, 372 in 2008;  facilities director David Harris went from $135, 403 to $339, 302 in 2008.  Total bonuses paid to these three tireless slaves of the people was $700,000 between 2005-2008.  The taxpayers of Highland Park are not amused.  Go here to read all about it.

Continue Reading

5

Edward Coles and Free Illinois

Edward Coles, the second governor of Illinois, is largely forgotten today, which is a pity.  His actions in 1824 helped lead to Union victory in the Civil War.

Illinois came into the Union as a free state in 1818.  However, a majority of settlers in Illinois initially came from the South and some of them brought slaves, illegally, into the Sucker State.  In 1822 Edward Coles, a 36 year old native of Virginia who had settled in Illinois in 1818, was elected Governor.  Coles came from a slave-holding family, but he had long been convinced that slavery was morally wrong.  When he arrived in Illinois he freed his ten slaves and deeded to each head of a family 160 acres of land to help give them a new start in a free state.  He ran for governor because he was alarmed with the growing strength of pro-slavery forces in his new home state.  In a tight four way race he won.

As Governor, Coles fought against laws in Illinois that discriminated against blacks and against indenture laws that attempted to establish black slavery in Illinois under another name.  In 1823 pro-slavery forces had a call for a constitutional convention put on the ballot in 1824.  Had a convention been called, there is little doubt that Illinois would have been transformed into a slave state.  Working feverishly, Coles and his allies narrowly defeated the call for a constitutional convention at the ballot box in 1824 and Illinois remained a free state.  Had the Civil War begun with an Illinois that had been part of the Confederacy, or, more likely, split in two as Missouri was throughout the war between rival Union and Confederate camps, it is hard for me to see a Union victory.  Illinois contributed a quarter of a million men to the Union cause, and without those men the war in the West could never have been won.

Continue Reading

1

Prayer at an Abortion Mill

Rockford, IL July 16, 2010 – Before the Northern Illinois Women’s Center opened on Friday morning to end the lives of children in the womb, four Catholic Priests firmly stationed themselves at all four corners around the abortion mill and began praying the powerful prayers of the Church found in Fr. Thomas Euteneuer’s book Exorcism and the Church Militant.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Eph 6:12

Almost immediately upon the Priests’ beginning their prayers in unison, the landlord of the abortion business came out of the building like a shot.

He wandered back and forth around the parking lot. Then he roamed the sidewalks, calling the Priests and pro-lifers names.

It certainly seemed that while the Priests were surrounding the abortion mill with prayer, the landlord, who is well-known for his dislike of the Christian religion and Catholic Priests, could not stand to be inside the building….[Read the rest!]

Prayer for the Closing of an Abortion Mill
Priests for Life

11

Illinois is Broke

Long time readers of this blog know that I reside in the Land of Lincoln.  Illinois now has the distinction of perhaps being in the worst fiscal mess of any state in the Union, as this recent article by Josh Barro for Real Clear Markets indictates:

If you go to Sacramento this week, don’t be surprised to hear champagne corks popping and chants of “We’re #2! We’re #2!” The cause for celebration? Illinois has overtaken California as the worst credit risk among American states.

As of Monday, the credit default swap spread for Illinois general obligation bonds climbed to 313 basis points for a five-year contract — meaning a bondholder must pay over 3% of the bond’s face value per year to be insured against default.

That’s a higher price than for all but seven sovereign entities tracked by CMA, and slightly higher than California, whose five-year CDS spread sits at 293. Investors rate Illinois’s debt as slightly riskier than Iceland’s or Latvia’s, but not quite as big a gamble as Iraq’s.
Despite this environment, Illinois chose to issue an additional $300 million in taxable Build America Bonds last week. Unsurprisingly, the markets were not keen and demanded a high price: the new 25-year bonds were sold with a yield of 7.1%, a spread of 297 basis points over 30-year treasuries. Illinois’ last long term issues, in April, had spreads of 205 and 210 basis points, meaning investors were already nervous about Illinois and are growing moreso.
This issuance provides further evidence that the ratings agencies haven’t fully appreciated the dire nature of state finances, at least in states like California and Illinois. While Illinois carries a Moody’s rating of A1, six notches above junk status, the markets put Illinois’s debt close to the borderline between junk and investment grade. Continue Reading

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Illinois State Song

Something for the weekend.   The State Song of Illinois with scenes from my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  My wife and I took our son down for his freshman orientation this week, some 35 years after I went through it. 

Another rendition sung on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Illinois is a wonderful state that has been long cursed with one of the most corrupt state governments in the nation.  Past time for the voters of the Land of Lincoln to correct this disgrace. Continue Reading

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Snipers and Riot Police Confront Tea Party Protesters in Quincy

[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 4-29-2010 at 8:24pm]

Apparently President Obama is doing his best to paint the Tea Party movement as a group of extremists and racists.

Witness the video below as an army of riot police in full riot gear and snipers on rooftops wield their weapons to intimidate the Tea Party protesters.

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Politics The Illinois Way

Illinois politics has always had a rather corrupt and colorful flavor about it.  Sort of Louisiana with bad winters.  Two examples:

1.    Alexi Giannoulias is the Democrat nominee for Obama’s old senate seat.  As the bare knuckles Republican ad above indicates, Giannoulias has been alleged to have substantial mob ties due to Broadway Bank , a Bank owned by the Giannoulias family and which made substantial loans to Chicago crime figures.  A comprehensive look at Mr. Giannoulias is here.

2.    Scott Lee Cohen, a wealthy Chicago pawnbroker, won the Democrat nomination for  Lieutenant  Governor on Tuesday.  Immediately after he won, it came out that in 2005 he was arrested for allegedly holding a knife to the throat of a former girl-friend, a woman who was once convicted of prostitution.   The woman failed to show up at a subsequent hearing, and the charge was dropped.  One might ask why none of his opponents brought this scandal up prior to the voters going to the polls.  I have no answer.  Governor Quinn, the Democrat nominee for Governor, has stated that Cohen must step down.  Cohen has indicated that he has no intention of stepping down.

Ah, the Land of Lincoln.  We may be the most misgoverned state in the Union, but I do believe we get good entertainment value from our politicians!

Update I: From my co-blogger, and fellow Illinoisan, Elaine:

The Cohen debacle is literally getting worse by the minute.

Not only do we have the domestic battery charge from ‘05 — which he did actually admit to in an interview nearly a YEAR ago — his divorce papers and other documents have been made public, and they allege 1) steroid abuse and ‘roid rages against his wife and kids, 2) attempts to rape his wife, 3) harassing messages written in lipstick on his (now ex) wife’s mirror, 4) failure to pay child support for his four kids while he was spending $2 million or so on running for lite guv, 5) numerous lawsuits against him, including his OWN BROTHER suing him for $200K (haven’t found out what for yet).

On top of all that, his major endorsers and campaign contributors included…. wait for it… Planned Parenthood and Personal PAC (a PAC known for endorsing only the most radical pro-aborts it can find). Even some liberals are shaking their heads at the irony of an allegedly “pro woman” PAC donating to the campaign of a domestic abuser and deadbeat dad!

Illinois politics, better than any novel!

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Clout and Catholic Education

Too often, Catholic education, particularly at the high school level, seems to be valued not so much for its moral and religious content as for its prestige in the community, or for its ability to produce graduates who get into the “right” colleges and get higher-paying jobs later on.

In my experience, Catholic high schools tend to be known in their communities as 1) schools rich kids attend, 2) a way to escape poor-quality public schools, 3) athletic powerhouses, or 4) institutions whose graduates enjoy disproportionate wealth and influence — the quality Chicagoans famously call “clout.”

Just today, in fact, I heard someone refer to alumni of a local Catholic high school as a “Catholic mafia” that allegedly dominates local business and politics. Although this characterization is probably not entirely justified, many alums of this particular school do seem to end up in positions of influence in the community.
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In Defense of Notre Dame

william-mr-daley

In the Land of Lincoln, when we have any great moral question to address, we often turn to the Daley clan who make their pronouncements from the Duchy of Daley, motto Ubi Est Mea, sometimes mistakenly called Cook County.  Now the brother of the current Duke, Richie the Lesser, William M. Daley, has come to the defense of Notre Dame and lambasted Francis Cardinal George for his statement taking the administration of Notre Dame to task for their planned adoration session with Obama on May 17.  Father Z has given this statement the fisking to end all fiskings, so I will let him do the honors.

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Illinois Deserves a Medal!

burris

These are grim economic times.  With the federal government spending money like a charter member of shoppers anonymous it is a safe bet that times will be getting grimmer yet.  In these days it is important that the people have something to smile about, rather as the Three Stooges  brought laughter during the Great Depression.

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Blagojevich Impeached

Blagojevich impeached in a cliffhanger, with the vote for impeachment only 114-1.  Here is the House report on which the impeachment vote was based.  Blagojevich is the first Illinois governor to be impeached which is rather remarkable when you consider some of the public thieves who have misgoverned my state.  Now on to the Senate for the trial.  Blagojevich is vowing to fight on, and I expect his legal team to pull every possible maneuver to delay the inevitable.

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Feel Better?

Not really.  This  New York Times article contends that my home state of Illinois is not the most corrupt state in the Union.  However I note that two of the three methods by which they obtain their rankings focus on convictions.  In a truly corrupt state,  convictions might lag because the engines of law enforcement are often part of the problem.  Based upon spending my entire life in Illinois, except for three years, I believe FBI Agent Robert Grant is correct,  if Illinois is not the most corrupt state, it is a strong competitor for the title.

Update I:  Lisa Madigan,  Attorney General of the State of Illinois, is attempting today to have the Illinois Supreme Court strip Blagojevich of his powers as Governor.  I agree with this article that her brief is extremely weak and would draw a “C” as the effort of a first year law student.  At any rate I doubt if the Illinois Supreme Court will step into this briar patch.  If the House acts swiftly to impeach him, Blagojevich may resign, but I do not think anything short of this will work.  To add to the banana republic quality that is part and parcel of current Illinois politics, Lisa Madigan is the daughter of Michael Madigan speaker of the House who has a long-standing blood feud with Blagojevich.  Lisa Madigan herself has long been thought to be hungering to be Governor.  Illinois politics frequently consists now of hereditary political fiefdoms that are passed down through the generations.  We have the reality of a largely feudal political system with none of the entertaining trappings.

Update II:  As usual, John Kass of the Tribune  has a brilliant column on the  farce that is Illinois politics.

Update III:  Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has an excellent  look  at the behind the scenes machinations of this mess.  I wholeheartedly agree with his conclusion:  “Calling this sewer “The Land of Lincoln” is a bad joke.  If Illinois voters aren’t inclined to make the kind of necessary changes, can they change the license plates to read, “The Land of Capone”?  It’s certainly a more accurate description.”