Fall of Berlin Wall anniversary offers lessons for misguided millennials

Blogger next to Berlin Wall slab at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in 2018

By John Ruberry

Saturday was the thirtieth anniversary of one of the most profound events of the 20th century, the fall of the Berlin Wall. What began as a bureaucratic slip became a people power moment as oppressed East Germans stormed the wall checkpoints and with the help of West Berliners, literally began hacking away on what Winston Churchill called “the wall of shame.”

It was also a wall of failure. The smartest and most gifted people of communist East Germany were more likely to seek freedom and prosperity in the West. The brain drain threatened the stability of East Germany, so after receiving permission from his fellow dictator, the USSR’s Nikita Krushchev, Walter Ulbricht ordered construction of the wall in the summer of 1961.

Just a few days ago Dennis Prager explained on his show that there is a difference between a dictatorship and a totalitarian state. Augosto Pinochet’s Chile was a brutal nation in the 1970s, but if you didn’t like it, you could leave Chile. Not so in the USSR, until its final days, where my wife was born, or in the absurdly-named German Democratic Republic. East Germans who tried to escape to West Berlin would have to conquer not just the wall, but also beds of nails, attack dogs, and barbed wire, as well as avoid sharpshooters in watch towers. The number of people killed attempting to escape in the 28-year existence of the wall is disputed–about 200 is a common estimate.

Of growing up in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, Mrs. Marathon Pundit told me this morning when I was discussing this post, “We were slaves, really.”

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll released last week shows that over one-third of millennials approve of communism, which betrays the failure of our schools and universities that seem much more interested promoting the 56 genders and waving their fingers at guys like me over “white privilege.” Oh, the founders of the communist movement, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were white dudes. As were the earliest communists in power, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky. All five of them came from middle class or wealthy backgrounds. They had white privilege.

OK, millennials!

The lessons of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the evils of Nazism obviously should never be forgotten. But what is overlooked by schools and society are the murderous regimes of Stalin (20 million killed, maybe more), Mao Zedong (65 million killed, maybe more). and Cambodia’s Pol Pot (1.5 million killed and perhaps more, roughly 20 percent of that nation’s population).

Another 30th anniversary involving a repressive communist regime passed this summer–the Tianammen Square protests in China that ended in the slaughter of pro-democracy activists. For 24 straight weeks there have been pro-Democracy protests in Hong Kong. The more things change…

Ulbricht and his successors’ East Germany didn’t have the high death count, but it excelled in mental torture. Its KGB was the Ministry of State Security, commonly known as the Stasi, whose goal was to “know everything about everyone.” Two movies are essential viewing for millennials–actually for everyone–to learn more about East Germany. Both of them are available on Netflix, Karl Marx City, a documentary, and The Lives of Others, an Academy Award winner for Best International Feature Film. Fittingly, The Lives of Others is set in the year 1984.

Apologists for communism regularly point out that the reason these Marxist regimes failed is that the wrong people were in charge and “real communism” has never been tried. It is they who are wrong. People in power, for the most part, have one thing in common. They want even more power.

There are exceptions of course. King George III asked an American what George Washington would do now that he had defeated the British Empire. When told that the general would return to his farm, the king replied, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Is that lesson being taught in many American schools? I doubt it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Joe Walsh absolutely should not be taken seriously as a presidential candidate

By John Ruberry

While Da Tech Guy was technical hiatus, former Illinois Republican congressman Joe Walsh announced his presidential run, which is why I’m only now weighing in.

I’ve had mixed feelings over the years on Walsh, who was part of the GOP Tea Party wave in 2010 but was essentially gerrymandered out of office by Illinois Democratic Party boss Michael Madigan. His triumph, without any Illinois Republican Party financial support over Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean was a shocker, many people viewed his chances of winning as dismal because of a then-ongoing child support dispute with his ex-wife and a lawsuit, since settled, from his onetime campaign manager over fees he said were owed to him.

The only positive thing I heard during that 2010 race about Walsh was from my wife. She was thoroughly impressed by a speech he gave at a Tea Party event where I live, Morton Grove, Illinois. She predicted, “He’s going to win.”

Always listen to your spouse.

During his single term in Congress, for the most part I supported Walsh. I met him at a different Tea Party event and I was impressed that he was familiar with my blog, Marathon Pundit, and what I wrote about him. Still, I always thought he was a bit nutty. But that goes for many politicians of course.

Walsh seemingly found his place in 2013 after when Chicago conservative talk radio station WIND-AM hired him for its coveted afternoon drive-time slot. Early on his show was enjoyable and informative–regularly trashing President Obama on just about everything, including the economy. Salem Radio Network picked up his show for national distribution in 2017, while he was a third-tier talker, his future was still bright.

Then something snapped within Joe. If you are familiar with the 1970s movie, Network, like the mentally unbalanced TV anchorman Howard Beale, Walsh changed. Beale went from decrying big government and big business every night to preaching that the latter wasn’t really bad after all. Then Beale’s ratings dropped. As for Walsh, who was never completely on the Trump Train, earlier this year he began to sprinkle his program with bits of criticism of Trump–which quickly became a flood. I tuned out and so did many of my friends. How many others bailed? I dunno. WIND-AM stopped subscribing to Nielsen in 2016. I listen to other radio shows besides right-wing talkers, it’s a good idea to see what the other side is up to. But like Beale’s later performances, I felt I was being preached at by Walsh, not spoken to. Not fun. So on my way home from work I’d connect my iPod and listen to Mark Levin’s podcasts instead.

Since his announcement, Walsh has been struggling to get noticed, just as the other Republican challengers again Trump have. Those other candidates are another nut-job, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, and former Massachusetts governor William Weld, the vice presidential candidate in 2016 on the Libertarian ticket.

Presumably because last week President Trump made his first appearance in Chicago since his election–not surprisingly he trashed the city–Fox 32 Chicago’s Mike Flannery interviewed him this weekend on his Flannery Fired Up program. Playing devil’s advocate, Flannery mentioned the “booming economy” and Friday’s strong jobs report, Walsh countered on the economy, “It was booming under Obama.” Which one is true, Joe? What you said this weekend about Obama, or your unilateral condemnations of Obama as president, including of course on the economy?

No one should take Walsh seriously as a presidential candidate.

And then there is this Tweet.

And then this one:

But we will still be hearing from Walsh every now and then; the mainstream media, which mocked him for years, fell in love with Walsh after he announced his campaign against Trump, I mean that he is running for president. With the anti-Trump media it’s all about hating the president.

Oh, I did say Walsh was “a bit nutty,” right?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Fifty years ago: The Kinks release Arthur (or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire)

By John Ruberry

Fifty Octobers ago a brilliant musical work was released that Rolling Stone called, “By all odds the best British album of 1969,” adding, “It shows that Pete Townshend still has worlds to conquer, and that the Beatles have a lot of catching up to do.”

The Who issued Tommy that spring and the Beatles’ last recorded album, Abbey Road, was released in September.

What was that “best British album?” Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) by the Kinks, written and produced by Ray Davies.

To celebrate, the Kinks, who broke up in 1996, but the surviving original members appear to have re-formed, last week released a twelve disc vinyl collector’s edition filled with remixes, demos, mono versions, new songs, and a never-released Dave Davies solo album.

There’s shorter version also available too. On Friday I downloaded the 1 hour 22 minute edition on Apple Music, with mono versions (why?), some alternative cuts, and one new song, “The Future,” credited to Arthur and the Emigrants (with Ray Davies).

Arthur is a great as I remembered. But the album was released at a troubled time for the Kinks. Fed up with the band’s lack of success, bassist Peter Quaife left. In 1965 the Kinks were banned by performing in the United States by the American Federation of Musicians. The ban, which to this date was never explained, was lifted in 1969, but much had changed by the end of the 1960s. The Who, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles had expanded their fan base–it was always large for the Beatles–and they also expanded the breadth of their music.

Meanwhile, the Kinks were in a way marooned in England. Like children forbidden by their parents from playing outside after a blizzard and the usual resultant bitter cold temperatures, Ray Davies and the Kinks were locked inside and forced to rely on what they could find at home musically to entertain themselves. Much of their mid-1960s output owed much to British Musical Hall, the tunes of their parents. Music Hall in Britain is what Vaudeville was to America, only it spawned a distinct musical style that centered on spirited singing and catchy melodies that begged for sing-alongs. Famous, or used-to-be famous Music Hall songs include “Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay,” “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag,” and “I’m Henery the Eighth, I Am.” That last one was a 1960s hit for Herman’s Hermits. That band scored another hit with “Dandy,” a Kinks song.

The Kinks first American hit was “You Really Got Me” in 1964, that tune and similar early Kinks aural assaults inspired two genres, punk rock and heavy metal. In 1967, the Music Hall-inspired “Mr. Pleasant” was the last Kinks single to break the Billboard Hot 100 until “Victoria,” the opening track of Arthur.

The Kinks clearly were back as hard rockers with “Victoria,” but there are still are Music Hall influences on Arthur. This is a concept album meant to be the soundtrack to a television play that never aired. Even in success they failed. When introducing a song on their last album, the (mostly) live To The Bone, Ray laments, “It kind of summarizes everything we’re about, the Kinks. Because everyone is expecting us to do wonderful things and we mess it all up, usually.”

The Arthur narrative centers on an elderly English suburbanite who symbolizes the disappointment that in 1969, Britain was not a classless society, as was hoped for after World War II ended.

From the album’s liner notes (courtesy of the Kinda Kinks site):

Arthur? Oh, of course–England and knights and round tables, Excalibur, Camelot, “So all day long the noise of battle roll’d among the mountains by the winter sea.” Sorry, no. This is Arthur Morgan, who lives in a London suburb in a house called Shangri-La, with a garden and a car and a wife called Rose and a son called Derek who’s married to Liz, and they have these two very nice kids, Terry and Marilyn. Derek and Liz and Terry and Marilyn are emigrating to Australia. Arthur did have another son, called Eddie. He was named for Arthur’s brother, who was killed in the battle of the Somme. Arthur’s Eddie was killed, too–in Korea. His son, Ronnie, is a student and he thinks the world’s got to change one hell of a lot before it’s going to be good enough for him. Derek thinks it’s changed a bloody sight too much–he can’t stand England any more, all these bloody bureaucrats everywhere, bloody hell, he’s getting out. Ronnie and Derek don’t exactly get on.

Families split along political lines? You mean like now? Brexit versus EU? Donald Trump versus Elizabeth Warren?

Derek and family’s move to Australia mirrors the Davies’ sister Rosie and her husband, Arthur, relocation to Down Under a few years earlier, which inspired the 1966 Kinks’ song, “Rosie Won’t You Please Come Home.” That tune, as with many Kinks songs, is also a story. While watching Ken Burns’ Country Music series on PBS, one of the commentators mentioned that many of the greatest country songs involve stories, sometimes dramas. Which deep down is why I love the work of the Kinks. Their music is compelling. The tales they tell even more so.

One story from Arthur, a Music Hall romp, is “She Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina.”

She’s bought a hat like Princess Marina’s
To wear at all her social affairs
She wears it when she’s cleaning the windows
She wears it when she’s scrubbing the stairs
But you will never see her at Ascot
She can’t afford the time or the fare
But she’s bought a hat like Princess Marina’s
So she don’t care.

He’s bought a hat like Anthony Eden’s
Because it makes him feel like a Lord
But he can’t afford a Rolls or a Bentley
He has to buy a secondhand Ford
He tries to feed his wife and his family
And buy them clothes and shoes they can wear
But he’s bought a hat like Anthony Eden’s
So he don’t care.

The saddest song I know of, from anyone, is another story from Arthur, “Some Mother’s Son.”

Two soldiers fighting in a trench
One soldier glances up to see the sun
And dreams of games he played when he was young
And then his friend calls out his name
It stops his dream and as he turns his head
A second later he is dead.

Some mother’s son lies in a field
Back home they put his picture in a frame
But all dead soldiers look the same
While all the parents stand and wait
To meet their children coming home from school
Some mother’s son is lying dead.

The music on Arthur rises to the occasion too. Unlike many late 1960s efforts, the horns compliment, not dominate, the songs. And the Kinks, led by lead guitarist Dave Davies, are at the top of their instrumental game here.

Arthur was not a hit but it enjoyed modest sales, unlike its pastoral predecessor The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, which wasn’t able to crack Billboard’s Hot 200 Albums chart. The stage was set for the Kinks’ return to well-deserved prominence one year later with Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One. That album of course contained “Lola,” their biggest American hit since 1965’s “Tired of Waiting for You.”

The Kinks were back.

But then it was time to “mess it all up” again. There wasn’t a Part Two of the Lola album. The next year the Kinks released a country rock collection, Muswell Hillbillies which began another decline in popularity. Only this time their time in the wilderness would last much longer.

Oh, one more item. After 50 years, the play Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire will finally be performed. That will happen later this year on BBC Radio.

God Save The Kinks!

John Ruberry blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago teachers demand smaller class size by striking, but enrollment is already declining

Chicago Teachers Union member at a 2012 Occupy Chicago rally–classes were in session that day

By John Ruberry

Chicago Teachers Union members are on strike again, 300,000 students and their parents have to reshuffle their weekday routines. 

In Chicago and many other big-cities, school is more than being an educational institution. Three quarters of Chicago Public Schools students qualify for government paid-for or subsidized lunches, many also qualify for breakfasts under similar circumstances. 

Or maybe schools in Chicago are less than being an educational institution as barely one-in-four students read at grade level, despite most schools having “College Predatory” and “Excellence” in their names. But CPS schools serve, even when there isn’t a strike, sadly as day center centers.

While meals are still being provided at CPS schools since the strike began last week, the walkout is hurting those that the Chicago Teachers Union purports to represent, the kids and their families. Parents are taking time off work to watch their children. Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, has offered teachers a 16 percent pay raise, but union leaders say that they are striking for, wait for it, the kids and their hard-pressed parents.

On the other hand, the CTU is advocating for a financial program for teachers and support staff so they can purchase a home in Chicago. Wait, aren’t Chicago taxpayers paying teachers and other CPS employees so they can buy a home? There is plenty of affordable housing in Chicago, just not so much in the fashionable neighborhoods on the lakefront.

The quick reaction to the strike is that Chicago has no more money, as the city is essentially bankrupt due to unfunded public worker pension obligations, including those for teachers. But somehow the cash to end the strike will be “found,” although it will likely involve borrowing from Judas so the city can rob Peter to pay Paul. If that last sentence doesn’t make sense then you are not from Chicago

One of the CTU’s key demands is a familiar one, smaller class size. But that issue should be taking care of itself as for three straight years CPS enrollment has dropped by 10,000. Twenty-six CPS high schools have fewer than 270 students and two of them fewer than 100. These schools were built to accommodate much larger enrollments. But that didn’t stop CPS from opening a new high school in Englewood, a neighborhood whose population has dropped by two-thirds since 1960.

And Chicago’s overall population is declining, leading the charge of the Illinois Exodus that has been going on for five years now

Incompetent and corrupt government reaps a poor harvest. And the money that Lightfoot will need to “find” to end the Chicago teachers strike will hasten the Exodus. And fewer taxpayers means less money.

John Ruberry blogs from the Chicago area at Marathon Pundit.

Review: Season 5 of Peaky Blinders

By John Ruberry

Earlier this month Season 5 of Peaky Blinders arrived on Netflix. If you haven’t heard of the BBC show, it centers on a Gypsy organized crime gang from Birmingham, England.

The Peaky Blinders are named for the razor blades the actual hoodlums,-they were an 1890s gang–wore in their flat caps.

The television Peaky Blinders, who usually refer to themselves as the Shelby Company, Ltd., are led by Thomas “Tommy” Shelby (Cillian Murphy), a World War I veteran. The first season takes place in 1919, Season 5 begins in the auspicious year of 1929.

Tommy, at the end of Season 4, is elected to Parliament as a member of the Labour Party.

A new season of course brings a new primary villain, this time it’s Sir Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin), a minor member of the British nobility who also sits in the House of Commons. If you are American, it’s likely that you’ve never heard of Mosley, but he’s one of the most notorious figures of 20th century Great Britain. He didn’t go as far as Benedict Arnold did during the American Revolution, but had the Nazis defeated Britain in World War II, it’s probable that Mosley would have been prime minister—with Edward VIII restored to the throne. A 2005 poll of British historians determined that Mosley was the Worst Briton of the 20th century. Jack the Ripper took the title for the 19th. Mosley not surprisingly was a virulent anti-Semite.

Sir Oswald pursues Tommy as an ally while Winston Churchill (Neil Maskew) does the same. Maskew is the third actor to portray Churchill in this series. What’s up with that?

The Black Tuesday Wall Street Crash puts pressure on the rest of the Blinders, particularly Michael Gray (Finn Cole), who in the first episode of the season awakens from a stupor in Detroit to learn that the Shelby Company money he invested in America has evaporated. He wants a bigger say in the family business, as does his American wife (Anya Taylor-Joy). The family matriarch, Polly Gray (Helen McCrory), Michael’s mother, continues to struggle to keep the family from tearing itself apart, and their battles now directly effect her lover, Aberama Gold (Aidan Gillen). Tommy’s older brother, Arthur, continues to battle his “animal inside me.” While Tommy and Mosley, politically speaking, court each other, the Peaky Blinders face a new foe, the Billy Boys, a Scottish Protestant gang, who joyously sing their fight song, which is based on the melody of “Marching Through Georgia.” The Billy Boys hate Gypsies and Catholics–the Shelbys are both.

Peaky Blinders has always played loose with history. Lighten up, though, it’s fiction!

On the other hand…

As 1929 winds down, Mosely announces the formation of a new political party, the British Union of Fascists. But after leaving Labour, the real Mosley first formed another new party, called, well, the New Party. After that came his fascist party. I bring this up because in his introductory speech as leader of the BUF, Mosley, complaining about Indian competition forcing the closing of British textile mills, sounds a bit like Donald Trump, with a dash of UK Independence Party founder Nigel Farage thrown in. I’m not a fan of historical parallels with the present, particularly when it comes to individuals. And I get it, many people believe in “Orange Man Bad.” But sheesh, can TV scriptwriters give us a break from that for once?

I see Season 5, quality wise, as a step back for Peaky Blinders, but better than the Russian sinkhole two seasons back. But a Season 6 apparently is in the works, and maybe even a seventh. And perhaps we will see a couple of other men portray Churchill. The 1930s offers many plotlines as the world marches again to war. Still, even a below-par Peaky Blinders is worth your time.

Peaky Blinders is rated MA. It contains graphic violence, drug use, and overt sexual activity.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Tlaib makes a bigoted statement and gets a pass, Blackhawks announcer gets pilloried for innocent remark

Blogger on the left, as broadcast on WGN-TV Chicago during a Blackhawks game in Nashville in 2018

By John Ruberry

Oh, the things the left gets away with…

Unless you are consumer of conservative media, or news sources from Detroit–I’m both of those things—you probably missed a piece of awful offal from US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), a member of “the Squad.”

If you live in the Chicago area, as I do, you probably heard about the “racially insensitive” comments made by longtime Chicago Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley during a preseason game against a German team.

Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, was touring Detroit’s Real Time Crime center, which utilizes facial recognition technology to identify criminal suspects. Tlaib has her issues with facial recognition forensics, She Tweeted in August, “@detroitpolice You should probably rethink this whole facial recognition bulls**t.”

In a tour last Tuesday of the center with Detroit’s police chief, James Craig, one that the Detroit News described as “tense,” the freshman congresswoman told Craig that only blacks should be employed as facial recognition analysists at the center. Yep. She said that. Her actual comments were, “Analysts need to be African Americans, not people that are not. I think non-African Americans think African Americans all look the same.”

Wow.

Craig, who is black, took the high ground by replying, “I trust people who are trained, regardless of race; regardless of gender. It’s about the training.”

Of course it is.

Craig later condemned Tlaib’s remarks. “If I had made a similar comment people would be outraged,” he told Detroit’s ABC affiliate, “they would be calling for my resignation.”

CNN.com covered the Tlaib facial recognition comments, as did Fox News, but the national media otherwise ignored her obnoxious remarks, although a Washington Post technology writer covered some practical issues with facial recognition in response to what she said.

In short, Tlaib got a pass because she is woke. She’s also a Democratic Socialist.

Not so Pat Foley, the television voice of the Chicago Blackhawks. I don’t know Foley’s politics. Perhaps he’s apolitical. But Foley, who is white, is not woke. He has not spoken of the glories of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. He does not make large contributions to left-wing organizations. He has not apologized for his “white privilege.”

Oh, what did Foley say that got the left so upset? During that ‘Hawks preseason game against Eisbären Berlin, while opposing forward Austin Ortega handled the puck, Foley said, “Ortega, who sounds like he ought to be a shortstop.”

Yep, that’s it. A Chicago Tribune writer deemed Foley’s quip “racially insensitive.” The Blackhawks, in their apology stopped short of that, calling what he said only “insensitive.” Sports Illustrated covered the kerfuffle.

The Blackhawks in that statement noted that Foley, a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award by the Hockey Hall of Fame, apologized to the Berlin team.

What appears to have ignited the controversy was a Tweet from an Hispanic hockey fan, Ghostchant, who distorted Foley’s words. “‘Ortega, sounds like he should be a shortstop’ instead of hockey.” Yep, “instead of hockey.”

But there is something else. Foley didn’t say “instead of hockey.” The Tweeter, who, if he has a sense of honor would place himself into his personal penalty box for a spell, added those words.

Here’s the entire Tweet along that “insensitive” comment from Foley.

In this split-second-glance-at-my-smartphone world, it’s easy to see why Ghostchant’s dishonest Tweet went viral. Many people look, get outraged, then re-Tweet or post on Facebook, without digging into the veracity of information on that puny screen, or, as I suspect in this instance, bothering to play the accompanying video clip.

Foley’s reputation has taken an undeserved dirty hit.

Tlaib, on the other hand, just keeps going.

What happened to Foley reminds me of a comment made by Nixon White House thug, Charles Colson, who later redeemed himself post-prison. “Anyone who opposes us, we’ll destroy,” he said, “as a matter of fact, anyone who doesn’t support us, we’ll destroy.”

That’s today’s left. Destroy first. Ask questions later. If at all.

There’s a lesson here. If you are a prominent person, unless you are deemed woke, you cannot comment on race or ethnicity, according to the rules of the high priests of the left.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Feds setting up a massive corruption net in Chicago area

Blogger post-race in McCook, Illinois in June

By John Ruberry

One thing hasn’t changed since the outage here at Da Tech Guy. Corruption in Illinois is rampant.

As I noted in this space, on the third day of 2019, Chicago’s most powerful alderman, Ed Burke, who has been in office for 50 years, was named in a criminal complaint centered on an extortion complaint from a fast food restaurant in his ward. In May, Burke was indicted on 14 corruption charges. Burke’s wife, Anne, sits on the Illinois Supreme Court. More on that later.

Around the time of the Burke indictment, the FBI raided the homes of Michael Zalewski, a former Chicago alderman, Kevin Quinn, the brother of another Chicago alderman, and Mike McClain, a lobbyist. All of them are close allies of Michael Madigan, Illinois House speaker for 34 of the last 36 years and the chairman of the state Democratic Party. Quinn’s brother represents the 13th Ward in Chicago’s City Council, where Madigan serves as Democratic committeeman.

Last Tuesday federal agents raided the suburban Chicago and Springfield offices of state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero). Half of his district is covered by Madigan’s House district. But the feds weren’t done last week. On Thursday they raided the village halls of McCook and Lyons, which are in Sandoval’s district. An insurance agency owned by the family of the mayor of Lyons was also raided. The mayor of McCook, a Democrat, is also a Cook County commissioner.

Clearly the federal government is on to something in Madigan’s geographic base, the Southwest Side of Chicago and its southwestern suburbs. Of course Madigan’s fierce grip reaches all the way to the Ohio River. However, Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor, urges caution in jumping to conclusions in linking these raids to Boss Madigan’s activities.

In other Illinois corruption news, in June federal agents raided the ward office of Chicago alderman Carrie Austin. And last month state Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), a distant cousin of state Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), was indicted on embezzlement charges.

Let me get back to Burke, or rather, the alderman’s wife, Anne. Earlier this month Anne was elevated to chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.

Only in Illinois.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.