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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
[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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Darwin’s post on the Russian professor who predicts the breakup of America, reminded me of an intriguing book I read decades ago, The Nine Nations of North America, by Joel Garreau. It was fun to read although I thought that only three of the regions were close to being true nations: Dixie, Mexamerica and Quebec.
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.”