A few weeks back, the government of Sweden sent out a booklet to every household in the country urging citizens to prepare for war or other crises. A few months back, they told citizens that they should be prepared to last for at least a week without any help from the government. Last night, in the most unsettling move yet, they mobilized the entire Swedish Home Guard for an “unannounced preparedness exercise.” All 40 battalions have been activated, effective immediately.
Stephen’s point about never having to mobilize about the US is well made but a different thing came to mind when I read this.
What about “Swedish” Muslims?
Are the muslim citizens including in this call up? Are muslim immigrants who have been granted asylum included or are they considered “no go” as well?
If they aren’t included I’d be in the official explanation as to why, and more interestingly if they OBJECT to not being included. If they are I’d be interested in how they assimilate in the home guard situations or are they organized in segregated battalions a la the 10th Cavalry during the Indian wars and is such a move at the government’s request or theirs?
I don’t have time to research any of this right now but I think these are excellent questions and in closing here is one more question to make you go hmmm:
If muslims in Sweden are not included in this drill to what degree might this drill be not solely directed at deterring potential Russian aggression.
When potential World War Three (or Four) antagonists collide:
The Center for Strategic and International Studies Friday released a report calling on officials to urgently pay attention to threats against US space systems and ground stations.
The report, Space Assessment 2018, reviews open-source information on the counterspace activities of other countries, especially China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, as well as examining the counterspace activities of some other countries and of some non-state actors.
China, the report notes is a “rising space power that is progressing steadily in the development and testing” of anti-satellite systems using weapons launched to intercept a satellite or attacking the target from orbit, as well as having advanced jamming, cyberattack, and other capabilities “that can threaten a variety of US space systems.”
Although Russian space systems have deteriorated since the fall of the Soviet Union, that country is now modernizing its space capabilities, according to the report, “and has revived or developed new counterspace weapons of nearly all types.”
North Korea and Iran are behind Russian and Chinese capabilities, the report says, but “each is making quick progress thanks to technology transfers from other countries and their own ballistic missile programs. “
Battle space. In case you weren’t worried enough.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here. She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.
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My advice post for the GOP is on hold for a day or two because of events in Syria. Here are 10 thoughts under my fedora on the subject.
I’m really thinking that Putin are falling for MSM propaganda on the president’s weakness. I think the Russians and/or Syrians and/or Iranians wrongly perceived that Trump’s public desire to be out of Syria meant open season to use gas, big mistake (and please don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting that the Syrians might use this gas without the consent of the Russians.
Watching the coverage on CNN was interesting. Because there was no warning that this was coming there was no coordination with Democrats on how to react and since they can’t hit Trump for punishing Syria for gassing innocent people they had to play it straight to a large degree. They really didn’t like that.
Another interesting problem for the MSM was the contrast between Trump doing what he said he would do on Syria and the Obama administrations making threats and red lines that meant nothing. The only bright side for them was contrasting Trump’s previous statements before he was in the White House.
I was wondering how long it would take MSNBC to call this a “wag the dog” scenario. Unfortunately for them there has been a week of talk about Syria and gas which makes that entire argument weak, there is also the help from England and France which is not something you can coordinate in a day or two which really hurts the credibility of the argument, but that won’t stop most “never trumpers” from playing that card.
it’s also worth noting Trump got a lot of credit for getting a coalition together for this attack, even Joe Scarborough who certainly can’t be accused of carrying Trump’s water complemented him on this. I was surprised he was able to get the French, the British were less of a surprise. It’s amazing how nations are more willing to hit your allies when you go around poisoning people on their soil.
A few days ago at work a friend from Haiti was very worried about Putin’s threat to shoot down anything attacking in Syria. I told him not to worry because it was a bluff. Today has confirmed that to be true although that’s not how it will be played in Russia. Every time they play that game Russian and Iranian prestige in the area drops like a rock.
This has got to be a huge worry for Iran, North Korea and China. After all if Trump is willing to go toe to toe with Putin he’s certainly not going to show any restraint on Iran and you had better believe little Kim has noticed this.
Don’t think for one minute the contrasting messages between Trump and his generals to the press is an accident. This president is a big believer in keeping the other side guessing. The conflicting messages are to cause the maximum confusion to the enemy as they decide what to do next.
I’m figuring that by Sunday the MSM and Democrats will have decided on a unified theme to go with here. All of it will depending on the polling they see. If the polling is mixed they’ll go all in with the “wag the dog” business suggesting that all of this was to distract from Comey and Cohen citing a lack of public evidence of Syrian actions while at the same time not demanding any such evidence the administration has be made public so as not to allow Trump to justify his actions. Secondly they will contrast his previous remarks to his current actions to back up the whole “wag the dog” meme. If the polling proves this to be popular they might just decide to get behind it to head off the GOP taking credit.
In terms of politics this is the worst possible thing to happen to the left. Trump leading an international force to confront a country using chemical weapons is very presidential and it comes as his polling is some of the best we’ve seen for him in a while. A foreign policy success combined with a strong economy might just give the GOP enough courage to fight back against the left’s TET offensive, particularly if it’s combined with an effective slogan, but that’s the post I’ve put off till tomorrow.
The United States has survived a Civil War and two world wars, and the Cold War.
But can it survive Russian bots? And a search for “monsters.”
Thirteen Russians were indicted on Friday–none were arrested because they don’t live here–for interfering in the 2016 presidential election by acting as “trolls” from St. Petersburg. These “bots” utilized Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stir up controversy and discord. The group that the accused were associated with was appropriately known as “the Troll Farm.” The scheme was hatched in 2013, a year before Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president, which you’ll recall was initially viewed by nearly everyone as a sideshow and a stage for the real estate mogul to promote his businesses and his Celebrity Apprentice television franchise.
Last spring Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced his appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as the special prosecutor on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and…any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
As with the indictments of former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort, who briefly was Trump’s campaign manager, and Rick Gates, none of this has anything to do with so-called Russian collusion between Trump World and Russia. The same can be said of the plea deals between former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and low-lever staffer George Papadopolous. These four men clearly fall under “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” The last two pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials but not colluding with Russia. The first two have been charged for actions that predate Trump’s presidential run.
Which led the president to remark on Twitter a few hours ago, “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”
I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!
So far Rosenstein, remember he’s the man who appointed Mueller as special prosecutor, agrees.
“There is no allegation that any American is a knowing participant,” Rosenstein said when announcing the indictments of the 13 Russians. “There is no allegation that the charge altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
And the search for “monsters,” Trump calls it a witch hunt, goes on. While Mueller seems to be on to something with the bots, where was Barack Obama when the Troll Farm broke ground during his presidency? Obama famously and wrongly ridiculed Mitt Romney for calling Russia “our number one geopolitical foe” in a debate. Shortly before leaving office, Obama did tell Vladimir Putin, “cut it out.”
All the same, America will survive the bots.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. His wife, who was born in the Soviet Union, is not a Russian spy, she assures him.
I’m reading the Mueller indictments and I’m noticing several things that could be charged of dreamers and other fun stuff.
Section 1 and section 24 notes that it’s against US law for “certain foreign nationals” to enter the US without a visa providing truthful and accurate information to the government. Apparently these laws don’t apply to dreamers and those who brought them.
Section 4 states defendants posed as us Citizens and attempted to use social media to attract US audiences.
Section 5 talks about hiding the actual source of funds used, sort of like the Democrats and the Clinton campaign funding Fusion GPS and hiding the sources of their Trump dossier
In section 16 several of the defendants accused apparently were associated with this organization till 2014 long before the 2016 elections and primaries.
section 30d notes a defendants’ trip to Atlanta for four days in 2014 and the submission of an expense account to his bosses, quelle horror!
Section 34 will get ignored a lot as it notes that the groups posed as black lives matters activists, muslim activists, christian activists, border activists and groups like “south united”. This suggests they were playing all sides which won’t fit the media narrative.
Section 35 notes they spend “thousands of dollars of US dollars a month” on social media ads. Seriously THOUSANDS of Dollars a month? Are you kidding me?
section 41 talks about identity theft including social security numbers, again this could be a charge of against the DACA kids.
section 43 says these activities were directed against Hillary, Ted Cruz and Rubio (and others) by supporting Trump … BERNIE SANDERS
I’m still reading expect a lot of updates
Update: Oh my God section 44 accuses them of using HASHTAGS ON TWITTER and section 45 says other people unknowingly retweeted some of their stuff
Section 57 notes that these groups held and promoted multiple rallies both supporting and opposing the results of the 2016 election including a “Trump is not my president” rally. I wonder what MSM reports about that Nov 12th NY rally says?
Section 58 notes these guys started deleting emails to avoid investigations and did so as far back as 2014 and 2015. I wonder what Hillary might say about that? Maybe they were all about Yoga.
Sections 60 -65 Wow! they bought Facebook ads to promote rallies including a Support Hillary Save Muslims rally in DC (section 63) and even offering to pay for a megaphone and fliers for a “March for Trump” rally (section 62). A megaphone! oh the humanity!
Section 85 completes the list, the illegality here is that they pretended to be americans and didn’t register as foreign agents while doing activities that if done by Americans would be completely legal? Does that mean that DACA folks and illegals who have held political rallies will be indicted next?
Section 89-95 on count 2 and section 96 again notes identity theft and moving money via such theft., boy this could be an indictment of the illegal alien DACA crowd if they wanted. But they don’t.
My take. There seems to be nothing here in terms of a grand conspiracy to change the election. You are talking minor rallies, buying megaphones, tweets and facebook groups and the spending of THOUSANDS of dollars in web ads.
If this is the big conspiracy there seems to be a lot lacking, particularly any kind of link to the actual Trump campaign. I suspect this will not stop the MSM to spin this as proof of the big link to the Trump campaign to sway the election.
This doesn’t even reach the level of small potatoes, and anyone who tells you any different is a liar trying to spin you.
Update: btw just because these are small potatoes doesn’t mean that we should let these folks off for violating the laws concerning illegal lobbying, destroying data in an investigation or identity theft. If these people violated the law they should be prosecuted. I think it would be nice if we held Hillary Clinton, Democrats and illegal aliens to the same standard.
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“But… but maybe he’s only a little crazy like painters or composers or… or some of those men in Washington.”
Julian Shellhammer, Macy’s toy department head in Miracle on 34th Street.
“On 24 March 1943, Päts was sent to forced treatment in psychoneurotic hospitals first in Kazan, then in Chistopol in Tatar ASSR. His forced psychiatric hospitalization was justified by his ‘persistent claiming of being the president of Estonia.'” Wikipedia biography of Konstantin Päts, the Estonian president who was deposed by the Red Army.
“I mean, psychiatry: it’s the latest religion. We decide what’s right and wrong. We decide who’s crazy or not.”
Dr. Kathryn Railly in Twelve Monkeys.
Last month during a two-day long private meeting with over a dozen members of Congress–all Democrats save one Republican senator–Dr. Bandy X. Lee, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Yale, said of President Trump, “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.”
Lee is the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book where 27 mental health professionals–meaning, I assume, as professionals that they earn their living in that field–rant about the “dangerousness” of the 45th president.
Two days ago The Atlantic’s Elaine Godfrey reported that Lee says there are Washington DC-based shrinks and legal organization who are willing–and no, this is not from a 24 script–to work to commit Trump against his will if White House staff issues troubling reports about him.
Trump Derangement Syndrome has reached a disturbing low, but no doubt the last. (Oh, I can make that diagnosis because I am not a mental health professional and TDS is not a clinical term.) Some people, with as many degrees slapped on them as you’ll find ads on hockey rink boards. just can’t accept the fact that Donald J. Trump is president. Are Lee and her cohorts intelligent? In a way, yes. On the other hand there is documentary about the fall of Enron entitled The Smartest Guys in the Room.
Ah, but there is some good news. The American Psychiatric Association reaffirmed its 1973 condemnation of what it calls “armchair psychiatry.”
Today, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) reiterates its continued and unwavering commitment to the ethical principle known as “The Goldwater Rule.” We at the APA call for an end to psychiatrists providing professional opinions in the media about public figures whom they have not examined, whether it be on cable news appearances, books, or in social media. Armchair psychiatry or the use of psychiatry as a political tool is the misuse of psychiatry and is unacceptable and unethical.
The Goldwater Rule, as Alan Dershowitz points out in the Washington Examiner–Dersh voted for Hillary Clinton by the way–goes back to the 1964 presidential election when a magazine, based on interviews with 1,100 psychiatrists, deemed that the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, was unstable and therefore mentally unfit to serve as president. None of these smartest guys in the room had examined the Arizona senator, who served in the upper chamber with distinction for two decades after his landslide defeat, nor had they even met him.
The winner in that presidential election and the man Dershowitz voted for, Lyndon B. Johnson, got us entangled in the Vietnam War which led to the deaths of 58,000 Americans.
The “experts” were wrong.
The Trump-is-crazy meme will probably fade away soon, but not completely, I fear. But the left will proceed with more plots to remove Trump from office, which so far have included the Hamilton Electors (before he was sworn-in), Russia, emoluments, tax returns, and of course Russia.
Here is my non-professional mental health advice for those of all you Trump Derangement Sufferers: Deal with the strong likelihood that Trump will be president for the next three years–and probably seven. Presidents who run for reelection usually win. Accept it and find a way to get on with your lives, without watching CNN or MSBNC during every waking hour. I cannot promise happiness, no one can. But I suspect you will be less miserable.
Oh, by the way, Trump is not crazy. Not even a little bit.
After missing the true nexus of recent events in Russia, it should not be surprising that the media have embraced the “good” side of the 1917 Communist takeover.
Having spent a fair amount of time in Communist countries, I didn’t see much of this good side of Communism, which is one, if not, the most evil political philosophy in the history of the human race.
Communist subjugated people, stripped them of their dignity, and killed millions.
Nevertheless, the media have found many positive aspects of this criminal culture in analyses of the 100 years since Lenin and his cronies took control.
Not surprisingly, DaTimes is the most egregious purveyor of fiction about the Russian revolution in its series called “The Red Century.”
Here is an excerpt from one story about how women in Communist countries had better sex.
Some might remember that Eastern bloc women enjoyed many rights and privileges unknown in liberal democracies at the time, including major state investments in their education and training, their full incorporation into the labor force, generous maternity leave allowances, and guaranteed free child care. But there’s one advantage that has received little attention: Women under Communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure.
Can DaTimes seriously argue that Communist dictators were responsible for major improvements for women, including education, training, child care, and working environment? I suggest that DaTimes assign only one of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn books to its reporters and columnists.
It should be noted that DaTimes still hasn’t returned the 1932 Pulitzer won by Walter Duranty, the newspaper’s hack in the Soviet Union. He insisted the stories of a Ukrainian famine that killed millions were false.
DaTimes also describes New York City’s salad days as a hotbed of Communism in the United States. The New Republic put its criticism of the series well:
…when you read about how American Communists and fellow-travelers had the best of intentions and were on the right side of history, bear in mind that these people were at best noble dupes and useful idiots for an evil empire.
At least Bret Stephens, who seems to have lost his way since joining DaTimes, doesn’t follow the lockstep approach of his news organization.
Although he didn’t point the finger directly at his employer, Stephens wrote last week:
An ideology that at one point enslaved and immiserated roughly a third of the world collapsed without a fight and was exposed for all to see. Yet we still have trouble condemning it as we do equivalent evils. And we treat its sympathizers as romantics and idealists, rather than as the fools, fanatics or cynics they really were and are.
But DaTimes is not alone in its quest to resurrect the good life of Communism. DaPost tries to erase from the map a variety of current Communist countries, such as China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Cuba because they no longer practice “true Communism.” Only North Korea still does.
It would seem that the progeny of the useful idiots who participated in supporting Communism during the Cold War have taken up residence at some of the nation’s news organizations to rewrite history.
I suggest we toss Communism ideology on the scrap heap where it rightly belongs and only remember the evil it did.
There still seem to be some including in media, who can’t seem grasp the concept that despite their name, their proclaimed opposition to Nazis and their violent confrontations with the equally vile David Duke crowd ANTIFA is nothing but a bunch of violent leftist thugs.
So that being the case I’d like to thank the Russian Federation for giving the perfect analogy for this situation (via hot air and twitter)
They fleshed out their objection in a facebook post that said in part:
There are various ways to deal with inconvenient historical facts. You can take them on the chin or ignore them. Sadly, the latter is what the Polish authorities have been doing recently. You see, politicians in Warsaw continue to deny the Soviet Union’s participation in Poland’s liberation from fascism and the restoration of Polish independence, after the Second World War.
This argument would have some weight if it wasn’t for two simple facts:
The Russian Invasion of Poland in Sept 1939.
While Hitler was invading Poland from the west officially kicking off World War 2 in Europe, the Soviet Union was invading from the west in accordance with their nations pact with Hitler. Ed Morrissey explains:
Soviet troops invaded Poland from the east after Nazi troops had invaded from the west. That pact not only sealed Poland’s fate for decades, but also that of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and that of Finland for a much shorter period. Had the Soviets not signed that pact, World War II might never have happened at all
Six years before the famous photos of US troops shaking hands with their Russian allies as their armies met in Germany coming from opposite directions, Russian Troops where shaking hands with German Troops as their armies met in Poland after diving up the country between themselves.
It wasn’t until June 1941 when Hitler attacked west turning on the Soviets that the Russian people and the Soviet government joined the “Down with Hitler” and “Down with Nazis” team.
The Coming of the Iron Curtain.
After the US and British forces drove the Germans out of France, Holland, Belgium and Italy and Caused them to pull out of Greece, Denmark and Norway those countries had their independence restored, and government of their people’s own choosing put back in place. Even in the western part of Germany and Berlin, popular democracy was restored and people were free to live as they choose.
Meanwhile not only did the Soviets retake and keep Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that the Nazis had grabbed on their way east they occupied Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech and Slovak republics) set up puppet governments and ruled with an iron hand and crushing popular movements for self government in Hungary and Czechoslovakia from 1945 till the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The Soviet Union did the Nazis out of Poland but it was the efforts of St. Pope John Paul II, Lech Walessa and the Reagan Administration that finally led to the actual liberation of Poland over 40 years after the last Nazi solder had retreated.
So what does this history teach us? It reminds us of two critical facts
The Soviets and the Nazis were rivals both trying to expand evil empires that brought slaughter and oppression to those who they ruled.
That you can be the most effective Nazi killers of all time (as the Soviets were) but still be no good rotten bastards who should be condemned, confronted and contained for the sake of humanity and freedom.
That in a nutshell is the reality here in America when it comes to ANTIFA.
No amount of anti Nazi rhetoric on behalf of ANTIFA makes the anything other than a bunch of masked thugs no better than the Nazis or White Supremacists who they rivals of and the only reason why they are portrayed otherwise is the same reason why the crimes of Communists like the Soviets get short shift in media and academia is because they share the same leftist ideology.
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The last time I talked to James O’Keefe was at CPAC 2017 I did a walking interview with him about his latest undercover video concerning CNN which he labeled #cnnleaks
His reporting of insider video at CNN that you can find here and here followed the usual path of a Project Veritas leak, bloggers like myself reported on what was going on and the MSM completely downplayed it as “totally overrated” video by an activist guilty of “selective editing“. This piece at Politico was typical:
For a few days, Project Veritas founder and conservative activist James O’Keefe has been hyping the release of what he said were hundreds of hours of undercover audio recordings of employees at CNN.
Some staffers at CNN were legitimately alarmed that O’Keefe would be releasing tapes that could be embarrassing for the network. O’Keefe is known for his undercover video recordings, though questions over deceptive editing and concerns about the questionable tactics used to obtain those recordings have plagued some of his prior work. Before releasing the tapes Thursday, O’Keefe was featured on The Drudge Report and on Sean Hannity’s radio show, where he previewed their release.
Instead, what O’Keefe released on Thursday landed with a dull thud in the media world.
This was and has been the united narrative of the MSM concerning all of O’Keefe’s and Project Veritas’ undercover releases for the last couple of years, and this narrative exists for three critical purposes:
To discourage any member of the MSM, local or national to play the actual videos on airM
To Keep the narrative about O’Keefe as an “unreliable” source so to discourage an member of the MSM, local or national, from bothering to view said “unreliable” reporting off air.
To make sure that no member of the general news consuming public that isn’t already inclined to follow or believe O’Keefe sees and/or believes what O’Keefe reports
That final item being the end result that they were shooting for.
This has been a pretty effective tactic, for example during the election campaign when O’Keefe’s reporters managed to catch Democrat operatives creating astroturf and bragging about it the MSM was able to keep it out of the “mainstream” long enough for the party to go into Damage Control mode and allow the MSM to portray it as a non issue. Similarly, while his reporting from inside groups planning to violently disrupt the inauguration was used by the secret service and led to significant arrests and disruption of planned Anti-Trump violence, the MSM was able to keep it out of the news until people were actually charged and even that got little or no coverage.
showing a CNN producer admitting that the whole Trump/Russia I’m sure they expected to do what has always worked for them in the past resulting in the story breaking and being commented on in conservative media while leaving the rest of the country and indeed the world at best completely ignorant of his reporting or at worst writing the odd story about how insignificant it is.
Alas for the media in general and CNN in particular there is a new wild card in play, and that card is President Donald Trump and his twitter account
So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!
O’Keefe’s video coming right on the heels of those last two Trump tweets already have a leg up because they meet the narrative that President Trump is advancing. What do you suppose will happen when the president decides to tweet out the video itself?
Suddenly the whole bury/discredit plan goes out the window.
Now it’s possible that the president might not tweet commenting on the O’Keefe video as of this writing 2:51 EST on Tuesday he has not, but given its potential to damage and discredit a political enemy the odds of that are very slim, but even if he doesn’t thanks to his tweets of just a few hours before and the MSM narrative brought on by the latest CNN Russia story that was retracted and the departure of three reporters over it, O’Keefe’s excellent undercover reporting is likely to reach far beyond his previous audience.
And that, more than anything else is why the MSM wants Donald Trump to stop tweeting.
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“I can’t stop the revolution, but until it comes, let’s have some fun.” Prince Felix Yusupov to Rasputin in the film Nicholas and Alexandra.
And with the revolution of course came the collapse of Czarist Russia.
The beleaguered state of Illinois set a couple of futility records last week. It became the first state since at least the Great Depression to go two straight years without passing a budget. In response, Standard & Poors and Moody’s dropped Illinois’ bond rating to one level above junk–the lowest ever recorded for a state. And both agencies alluded that a junk rating may be coming very soon.
The 2017 Illinois General Assembly session ended on Wednesday. It can still pass a budget, but it will require a three-fifths majority to do so. To be fair, the state Senate, which has a supermajority of Democrats, did pass a budget that included a huge income tax release–with no Republican votes. But the real legislative power in Illinois lies with House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who has held that job for an unprecedented 32 of the last 34 years. Madigan is also the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party–and if you are a Democrat in office in the Prairie State you almost certainly owe multiple favors to Madigan, who is also a prodigious fundraiser and jobs provider, and of course those jobs include seats on the General Assembly and the state attorney general’s office, which his daughter holds. Madigan, an adept gerrymanderer, draws Illinois’ legislative districts, which is why Democrats have that supermajority in the state Senate and until this year had one in the House.
Illinois’ governor is Bruce Rauner, a Republican who is a first-time public office holder. Rauner is willing to sign a budget bill that includes an income tax increase, but only as part of a grand bargain that also contains reforms such as term limits, a property tax freeze, workers compensation law changes, and tort laws that are more business-friendly. Is Rauner completely blameless? Of course not. Perhaps he should bolster his negotiating chops or remove an item or two from his Bring Back Illinois agenda. But Rauner, who three years ago became the first Illinois governor to win a majority of the vote since 2002, was dispatched to Springfield to battle the status quo of failure.
Madigan of course has the votes to pass a budget in the House. But he is only interested in maintaining his speakership and of course his power–even though Illinois is circling the drain. It currently has over $14 billion in unpaid bills and at least $130 billion in unfunded pension obligations. The Boss doesn’t want his minions in the House to face voters next year after voting for a tax increase. Madigan would rather rule a collapsing Illinois than share power in a prosperous one, which is the same governing philosophy Russia’s last Czar used.
That’s not to say that the General Assembly hasn’t accomplished anything this year. It passed a $15 minimum wage bill that is seen as a jobs killer by businesses. Why do I say that? Because Cook County, where I live, recently passed a $13 minimum wage bill that suburb after suburb–and it’s important to note that suburban Cook is heavily Democratic–is opting out of because of fierce opposition from small business owners. Rauner is expected to the veto minimum wage bill. The GA also passed a bill allowing for an elected Chicago school board. While I normally support more direct democracy, an elected Chicago board of education will quickly, if not immediately, become beholden to the well-organized and hyper-leftist Chicago Teachers Union, which refuses to compromise on issues such as having teachers pay more into their woefully underfunded pension funds. And the General Assembly passed legislation that will make it easier for Illinoisans to change their birth certificate gender if they have not undergone gender re-assignment surgery.
Meanwhile the 800-pound gorilla in the room–Illinois’ dire financial situation–is growing bigger and becoming more malodorous every day.
Illinois has become 1916 Russia. The collapse is coming. Perhaps it has arrived.
John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Illinois resident, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.