I rise today in defense of my home state, my beloved Illinois, where top soil is so rich you can make soup from its deep, black loam and where agriculture was first elevated to a science to become the wonder of the civilized world.
We grow a lot of things in this state; corn, soy beans, hogs, cattle, dairy products, - all in numbers that are the envy of the rest of the world. Our higher education system is second to none in turning out both scholars and people who love to party. ( I would suggest you avoid Macomb, the home of Western Illinois University, on a Saturday night unless indulging in Bacchanalia is your thing.) Besides that, Illinois features some truly remarkable points of interest. The two story outhouse in Gays, IL is a family favorite as is the captured leg of Santa Anna housed in the state capitol of Springfield. And who would want to miss visiting the largest Catsup bottle in the world located in the bustling tourist hub of Collinsville?
Why, my own little town of Streator has a statue of one of the angels of World War II, the Coffee Pot Lady. During the war, Streator saw about 1.2 million servicemen pass through town (we were a major hub for the old Sante Fe line) and faithfully doling out coffee and sandwiches as the trains stopped for fuel and water were dozens of women who made the long trip for the soldiers seem a little less impersonal and frightening.
I highlight all these natural and man made wonders located in Illinois because it seems that my home state is taking quite a beating in the national press and on blogs of late and I figured someone had to stand four square behind the natural beauty, the slow, deliberate pace of existence, and the emphasis placed on what is really important in life here in the Land of Lincoln; God, guns, and goofy politicians.
Indeed, it is sickening to have commentators who know nothing of Illinois or her people spouting off about the corruption in state and local government here. To all who are not from this state who have found the Blagojevich scandal a perfect opportunity to feel morally superior to us Illinoisans and write vicious, ignorant screeds about our "culture of corruption," I say butt out!
Just what do you think you know about it, huh? And who do you think you are? If anybody is going to throw bricks at our politicians, it's us. And we don't need any help, thanks. We've been doing it for 190 years and by God we've got it down to a science and don't need outsiders horning in on our fun. Our rope necktie parties are for locals only -- no Cheeseheads or Hawkeyes allowed.
It cuts to me the quick that all these silly, snarky bloggers feel it necessary to disrespect the politicians in my state. Besides that, they are pikers when it comes to revealing the true nature of our political culture. Only native Illinoisans can come up with descriptions of our political heroes like "They are a carefully nurtured nest of nefarious nabobs who see politics as a cross between a slot machine and a gold mine."
Out of staters don't even come close and their attempts at describing what they can only dimly understand usually fall flat. For us Illinoisians, it is a matter of DNA; we are born with the ability to appreciate and become outraged over the rank dishonesty, the grasping, conniving, plotting, brazenly evil nature of our politics. It's so much in our blood that I heard tell the Red Cross has considered keeping donations from Illinoisans in state so as not to infect such political paradises as Minnesota and Kansas. They also fear mixing blood from here with that of people from states like New Jersey or Louisiana. The monster that would create, once let loose upon the country, might doom us all.
Columnists, pundits, and TV talking heads can't decide whether to opine as if auditioning for The Last Comic Standing by trying to outdo one another with unfunny jokes about the scandal or scream about political corruption being endemic to the way Illinois politicians do business. Endemic? Tell that to a Chicago pol and he's liable to give you a wary look, wondering why you think he needs a high colonic and perhaps contemplate how he can make a "pay to play" scheme go by getting a kickback from the enema bag manufacturer.
Besides, the idea of someone from New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, getting into a high dudgeon over corruption in politics is laughable. And that goes for just about anyone else anywhere in the US except maybe Montana where the ratio of guns to crooked pols is no accident. They take clean government very seriously in Big Sky Country. They also are not so politically correct as to have forgotten what good uses a little tar and some feathers can be put to.
For you New Yorkers, I might ask if Tamany Hall rings a bell - a city machine so corrupt that cockroaches were denied membership for being too clean. And all you Pennsylvanians who are on your high horse about Chicago political shenanigans, I direct your attention to your current governor, the Majority Leader of your Assembly, and how many other pols caught up in scandal just this year. Alaskans have so much to be proud of what with their senior senator, his family, their lone congressman, and half the Republican party on the hook for taking favors from an oil company supplier. Let's not forget New Jersey and its parade of criminal Newark mayors not to mention governors who resign in disgrace for showing favoritism to their boyfriends.
As for all you good government goofs in Minnesota, I've got just two words for you; Al Franken.
Reading a couple of articles about corruption in this state in Wikpedia is hardly the same as having grown up with it. To those of us native to Illinois who have spent our lives watching the comings and goings of governors, legislators, aldermen, lawyers, judges, businessmen, and Chicago city workers as they walk in and out of the jail in Pontiac, scandals like Blagobust are more than mere entertainment. They are reminders to all that "There but for the grace of God and a federal phone tap go I."
So quit your yapping about stuff you really know little about. Whatever corruption scandals you've had in your own state cannot possibly prepare you to think, write, or spout about the Olympian nature of Illinois political stink. Our pols are greedier, more inventive in their criminality, more brazen in their disrespect of the law, and more breathtaking in their deeds of derring-do as they try to stay one step ahead of the prosecutor and two steps ahead of that former business partner they've cheated out of ill gotten gains.
Ed "Fast Eddie" Vrdolyak, the infamous alderman and political thorn in the side of former Chicago Mayor, the late Harold Washington, was quoted as saying that he "talks to everyone as if they're wearing a wire - even my wife." Vrdolyak was the target of numerous investigations through the years but prosecutors could never catch him.
In his later years, after losing his clout, Eddie "retired" to private law practice and was considered a wise head in Chicago politics, nurturing many young up and comers, showing them the ropes until he was finally caught in a bribery-kickback scheme involving the sale of a medical school building to a Vrdolyak crony. Those charges may very well stick because Eddie forgot his own ironclad rule; his partner in crime wore a wire to several meetings where the illegal scheme was discussed.
The moral of the story is that not only could an Ed Vrdolyak only exist in Illinois but that only an Illinois pol could go down with such ironic juxtaposition attending his demise. That combination of Greek tragedy and Vaudeville comedy is why the rest of the country is so ill-equipped to comment on our troubles with politicians.
So I'd appreciate it if you just left us alone to wallow in our own muck, thank you.
Rick Moran is associate editor of American Thinker and proprietor of the website Rightwing Nuthouse.