Lots of Illinoisans are crossing the Wisconsin state line–permanently

By John Ruberry

“He crossed state lines with an AR-15” is a typical bellyache from leftist pontificators about Kyle Rittenhouse traveling from his home in Antioch, Illinois to help protect a business in Kenosha, Wisconsin during the riots (oops civil unrest) there last summer. 

The northern city limits of Antioch end at the Wisconsin state line. So for many people, including for Kyle Rittenhouse, travelling to Wisconsin is a daily trip. He worked in Pleasant Prairie, which is sandwiched between the Illinois state line and Kenosha. And Rittenhouse’s father and other relatives of his live in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse of course was found not guilty–and it was the correct verdict–of charges surrounding the self-defense shootings of three rioters (oops mostly peaceful protesters) in Kenosha last summer.

Do you need to fill up your gas tank? Only naive fools top off their vehicles in Illinois when there is a Wisconsin choice a short drive away. For instance, last month Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I visited Illinois Beach State Park in Zion. On our way out of the park I told Mrs. Marathon Pundit, “Let’s head up Sheridan Road and fill up our car.” And so we did. At the BP station there–which is just 50 yards north of the Illinois border, we paid 40 cents less per gallon than we would have south of the Cheese Curtain. The BP station is a large one–there were about ten vehicles filling up. And each one had Illinois license plates.

What about permanent moves to America’s Dairyland?

Just north of that border you see many manufacturing facilities and warehouses, most of them are newly built. Many of them are businesses that formerly called Illinois home. U-Line has a massive warehouse in Pleasant Prairie, they moved there, bringing 1,000 jobs, from Waukegan, Illinois in 2008. That facility has many neighbors that are equally massive. But on the Illinois side you see farms and some small scale businesses.

Why are they leaving?

Writing for the Badger Institute in 2019, Mark J. Perry said, “On 14 different measures of labor market dynamism, economic growth, various tax burdens, business climate and fiscal health, Wisconsin comes out ahead of neighboring Illinois on all but one of those measures — state individual income tax rate.” Perry added, “On net, Wisconsin has gained 116,000 Illinois residents between 2006 and 2017, an average of nearly 40 residents every day from 2014-’17.” 

Illinois has other substantial problems. Its public pension system is the second-worst funded of the 50 states–at just 39 percent–while Wisconsin’s public worker pensions are the best-funded at over 100 percent. Only an amendment to the Illinois constitution to eliminate the pension guarantee clause, a default, or hyper-inflation can solve the pension crisis. Illinois regularly contends for the title of most-corrupt state. Since I was born four Illinois governors have served time in federal prison. No governors of Wisconsin from that period have suffered the same disgrace.

Violent crime and robbery is a growing crisis in Chicago and its inner suburbs. Chicago will probably exceed 800 murders this year–numbers that the city hasn’t seen since the crack-fueled street gang wars of the mid-1990s. According to Hey Jackass there have already been over 1,400 carjackings in Chicago–nearly double than the yearly total of 2009. Flash mob robberies are occurring not just in Chicago but also the suburbs, such as this outrage where a gang of thieves on Wednesday filched over $100,000 in merchandise from a Luis Vuitton store in DuPage County. Two days later in Chicago’s downsized Magnificent Mile a flash mob of shoplifters struck Neiman Marcus–filling up three cars of merchandise. Wow, up until recently finding even an illegal parking spot was nearly impossible on the Mag Mile. Of course no one has been charged in these flash mob thefts. 

So crossing the Illinois state line into Wisconsin isn’t just a common occurrence. It’s the safe and smart move for people and businesses. 

Who knows? Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I might make that migration north too. Without a rifle. We only own a handgun.

John Ruberry regularly blogs just forty miles south of the Wisconsin border at Marathon Pundit.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is wrong, there was a riot goin’ on in Kenosha

Car dealership last Sunday in Kenosha

By John Ruberry

The headline is a reference to the Sly and the Family Stone album from 1971, There’s a Riot Goin’ On. He’s largely forgotten now–although some his songs remain recognizable to the masses–but Sly Stone was the Prince of his day, a crossover artist, that is, he was very popular among blacks and whites. His band, unusual for the time, was multi-racial. Just like Prince and the Revolution.

The album title was a sarcastic reference to the riot that broke out when the band couldn’t, or Sly Stone wouldn’t, show up for a performance at Grant Park in downtown Chicago the prior year. Stone had a reputation for blowing off gigs, which added to the excitement, as well as the tension, of a Sly concert. Will the superstar show up?

Well on July 27, 1970 tension prevailed when Sly and the band were a no-show. Store windows were smashed, police cars were set on fire, rocks and bottles were thrown at cops, and three people were shot in what the contemporary media called a riot. Because it was one. The Chicago Sun-Times front page headline from the next day read “Rock fans in riot, 90 injured, 148 held.” Looking back to my own youth in the Chicago area I can now understand why my parents were horrified when I expressed my interest in going to rock concerts later that decade. The subhead of that Sun-Times article read, “Battle starts in Grant Park, spills over into Loop.” A look at the media images available on Google of the riot confirms the diverse spectrum of Sly Stone’s fan base.

Fifty years and a month later there was a riot goin’ on sixty miles north of Grant Park in a small Wisconsin city that has been devoured by Chicago and Milwaukee suburban sprawl, Kenosha.

Except Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, didn’t call it a riot, instead is chose such tame words as “unrest” and “disturbance.” Readers of the Journal Sentinel complained which led the paper to publish an article that explained the apologist tone (my words) of last month’s coverage of the Kenosha riots that broke out after Jacob Blake, a black man with an open warrant for his arrest, was shot seven times by a police officer in what is clearly a tragedy.

From that paper:

As we’ve seen in cities around the country this summer, protest participants and the activities surrounding them often change throughout the day and night. Peaceful protests can happen all day long and then fires can be set or violence occurs late at night by people not associated with the protesters. Would it be fair or accurate to label all that happened that day a “riot” — especially in a headline summing things up? We don’t think so.

And there are historical racial overtones in the use of that word in America.

As Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said on the PBS NewsHour in June, “There is concern that it is automatically labeled as a riot if it is African-Americans who are protesting, but it’s not labeled as a riot when you see the same kind of destruction after a concert or after a sporting event. So there are words that have that association.”

Of course the Journal Sentinel sent reporters down Interstate 41-94 to see Kenosha for themselves. There was vandalism, arson, and looting. In short, a riot. I visited Kenosha–after the riots were over–twice last week. My blog reports are here and here. Downtown every business was boarded up. So were the churches. Most horribly, an automobile dealership with about 100 cars in its inventory saw nearly every one of its cars set ablaze. Near that dealership Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois teen, allegedly shot two people and wounded a third during the, ahem, disturbance.

What occurred in Kenosha met the commonly accepted, unless you are woke, definition of a riot.

Yes there are peaceful protests and peaceful activists protesting the death of George Floyd and other outrages. But Antifa and the like, as I’ve remarked before, are using these protests as a Trojan horse to raise hell. See Portland. Even Chicago’s liberal mayor, Lori Lightfoot, admitted so, albeit in slightly more moderate language last month as I noted in this space before. “What we’ve seen is people who have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests,” she told Face the Nation, “and have come for a fight.”

With such reporting on “facts” it’s easy to comprehend why readership of daily newspapers such as the Journal Sentinel continues to plummet as these publications are more concerned about appearing woke and satisfying the left-wing echo chamber they choose to inhabit.

In another Chicago reference, a Black Lives Matter organizer, Ariel Atkins, said of looting, “That is reparations.” A New York BLM leader supported her claims.

Last week the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web James Freeman said of such contorted reporting and the questions of why the Journal Sentinel purses such a strategy, “No doubt citizens nationwide have the same question for many politicians and members of the press corps who have lately been extremely creative in conjuring euphemisms for destruction and lawlessness.”

Thankfully one such mainstream media euphemism for riots, which dates back to the Occupy movement, “mostly peaceful,” has been for the most part placed into forced retirement, but only because of repeated ridicule on Twitter and other social media platforms. As Mark Levin quipped on his show a few months ago, “Mostly peaceful means mostly violent!” But as you’ll see “mostly peaceful” has not been completely eradicated.

As for Kenosha, as I mentioned before, every downtown business was hit by looters. Even on the edge of the city malls were struck by vandals and thieves. Those businesses of course employ people. Families are supported by them.

There was a riot in Kenosha last month. A three-day long one.

Even if Milwaukee Journal Sentinel refuses to say so.

It could be worse. A chyron graphic on CNN with the backdrop of the cars on fire in the dealership pictured on top read “Fiery but mostly peaceful protest after police shooting.” That image was so wrong even Brian Stelter of the network criticized it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.