Illinois Conservatives Statement on Aaron Schock Resignation

News broke earlier today that Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) from the 18th district, will be stepping down from office. Stories have circulated for some time of various ethics violations, and his questionable spending of taxpayer and campaign donation money. Reports indicate that he will formally leave office on March 31st.

Here at Illinois Conservatives, we take no pride nor do we rejoice that yet another elected official is leaving public office because of civil or criminal improprieties. This, alone, is not a partisan issue: Illinois has become the laughingstock of the entire country, and even the world. “Chicago” as a term now broadly encompasses our state as a place of corruption, shadiness, and elected officials taking advantage of the office and the integrity it holds while hurting the taxpayers they were elected to represent. With Congressman Schock as the latest example, even 33 year old, youthful congressmen can be just as detrimental to recklessly spending our tax dollars as 50, 60 year olds who have served 2 decades or longer in office.

This is a sad day for Illinoisans, and although we surely aren’t new to being let down by our elected officials, this hurts many that (naively) believed that sending young faces to D.C. would suddenly shake up the old business in our nation’s capital. We could say the people of the 18th congressional district deserve better, but then they knew that already. It was hard to find a candidate with the strength, both mentally and financially, to primary an incumbent who is backed by powerful interests in and outside the district. Citizens were left with little to do, either run up a candidate who will offer nothing more than “symbolic opposition”, hold their nose and continue voting for Schock, or just not vote at all and lose more hope in that they will have responsible elected officials in office.

We can imagine today’s announcement was rather bittersweet for those in the 18th district, that although they will no longer have Aaron Schock as their congressman and that they may now have a representative who will better serve them, losing a representative in such a way is both embarrassing and tragic. However, we hope with such an event like this occurring allows those in the 18th a new opportunity, that whomever is chosen to replace Schock’s seat, that the voters hold their representative’s feet to the fire. And if the replacement chosen is no better than Schock in representing the district, the likelihood of rallying behind an opposition candidate is better.

The Future of Illinois Depends on Us

The Most Important Issue of the 2016 Presidential Election: The Supremes.

By: Andrew J. Englund

"Supreme Court US 2010" by Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States - Roberts Court (2010-) - The Oyez Project. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Supreme Court US 2010” by Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States – Roberts Court (2010-) – The Oyez Project. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Barack Obama has about 680 days left of his term.  And there are about 600 days left until Election Day 2016.  I believe that the most important issue for this election cycle will not be ISIS, various social issues, or even the Federal Debt which now tops $18 Trillion.  I believe that the most important issue will be what type of justices the candidate will appoint to the Supreme Court.  The president controls policy for four to eight years; however his Supreme Court appointments can sit on the court for twenty to thirty years, if not longer, leaving a far greater impact than any policy proposal.  Which is why John Adams appointed John Marshall to be Chief Justice of the Court in 1801.  John Marshall served as Chief Justice until 1835, his appointment was an obvious attempt by John Adams to disrupt the policies of Thomas Jefferson.  Even though John Adams was only President for four years (1797-1801), his Chief Justice controlled the court for thirty-four years.  This is why the Supreme Court is such an important presidential campaign issue.

The current Supreme Court has four loose constructionists, four strict constructionists, and one textualist (Scalia).  Here is the current make-up of the court: Chief Justice John Roberts, 60, appointed by George W. Bush in 2005; Justice Antonin Scalia, 78, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986; Justice Anthony Kennedy, 78, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1988; Justice Clarence Thomas, 66, appointed by George H.W. Bush in 1991; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 81, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993; Justice Stephen Breyer, 76, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994; Justice Sam Alito, 64, appointed by George W. Bush in 2006; Justice Sonia Sotomayor, 60, appointed by Barack Obama in 2009; and Justice Elena Kagan, 54, appointed by Barack Obama in 2010.

It is unlikely that Obama will have another Supreme Court nominee before his term concludes.  Justice Ginsberg has far too much respect for the Court to resign before Obama’s term concludes just so that her seat can be filled by a younger liberal justice, as has been suggested by a few blogs.  It is very likely that the next president will be able to appoint two or three justices.  If the swap is a liberal for a liberal, then the dynamic of the court will remain unchanged as is evident with the two most recent nominees.  However, if the swap is a conservative for a liberal or vice-versa then the dynamic of the court can change for the next twenty years.

Not only do we need to ensure that a conservative is elected President, but the GOP must remain in control of the Senate so that the nominees have a greater chance of being confirmed.  We do not want any of the textualist or strict constructionist nominees to be “Borked” by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I do not know who will be the Republican nominee for president, nor do I have a horse in the race.  I am suggesting that in order to really have an impact on the culture in Washington DC that we need to ask our candidates what types of justices they will nominate.  We need to pressure them to pick textualists or strict constitutionalists.

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Modern Day Slave Traders – Employee Temp Services

Is it conservative to attack a business segment that provides a perceived necessary service? It is in my opinion when such services get in the way of allowing labor economics & economics on the whole to play out the way it should.

More & more companies are turning to employee temp agencies to fill positions. In this way, these companies don’t have to worry about actually doing the hard work of advertising for positions & interviewing – the temp agency does it for them.

However, despite temp agencies “finding people jobs”, these agencies are actually hurting workers & the economy at large.

You see, when you are a “temp”, these agencies get a cut of your pay. Recently, I talked with a temp worker at a local factory & he told me after everything was said & done, he takes home up to $3.10 LESS an hour once the modern day slave traders take their cut.

In essence, temp agencies are nothing more than legalized pimps. Seriously. What’s the difference between someone pimping prostitutes & taking their “cut” & a temp agency taking their “cut”. Nothing.

So how does this affect labor economics & the economy as a whole?

In some cities, such as mine, the unemployment rate is at about 5.6% which means by all measurable standards, our city has reached “full employment”. “Full employment” is just a fancy way of saying that most of those unemployed are unemployed for a reason whether because of their backgrounds or lifestyles (ie. drugs) or because they have chosen to remain unemployed for whatever reason. A slim minority of that “full employment” are people actively pursuing a job but cannot find one.

When unemployment is that low & the labor pool is that low, it would mean that wages would have begin to rise in order to retain current employees – since employees can actively look know there are more jobs than people to fill those jobs. It would also mean that wages would have to rise in order for these companies to attract new employees & keep them from going to other companies instead. How does this happen? Because labor & wages work on the same principle as any goods & services – supply & demand. The greater the demand, with less supply means prices goes up. Scarcity. In the same way, scarcity in labor means prices (wages) should go up as well as demand is high while supply is low.

Unfortunately, the temp agencies get in the way of any possible wage increases because they step in front of any negotiating power that a current or prospective employee might have with an employer. Companies just call up a temp agency & order new employees like ordering any other goods they order to conduct business. No need for an increase in wages. Plus, after 90 days companies can release these temps just to bring them back again for 90 days, never to be hired full-time. I knew a guy that worked at a factory for 7 years without being hired full-time. He probably would have continued working as a temp if he was still alive today.

On the whole, if the temp agencies are taking money off the top from an employee’s wages that’s less money to be spent buying goods & services. In the long run, that’s bad for the economy. For instance, I talked with another temp worker at a local factory who quit after 2 days because he realized that after the pimps took their cut, he was taking home less than minimum wage an hour.

Temp agencies also create a problem that many have failed to recognize. Low wages & no job security. What clarion call does that speak to? The unions. I am amazed that unionization hasn’t taken hold in more factories & other job sites as the use of temporary workers has exploded across the nation. Yet we sit back & allow temp agency pimps & slave masters push harder & harder against our workers. Most of us reading this site don’t want any further encroachment by unions into the workforce – public or private – yet we stand by & allow the wages of workers deteriorate by temp services?

I, for one, have decided enough is enough. I talked with our Economic Development Director at my city & I asked him – and received a positive, affirmative response – to write into any  new economic development agreement from here on out that NO TEMP SERVICE can be used in the employment of workers in the creation or retention of jobs at their facilities.

Do the math. If just one temp agency had 300 workers out slaving for them & this temp agency is taking their pimp cut, how much money are they making on the backs of hard working Americans every given day/week?


Robbing the City of Effingham to Pay for Effingham County Schools

Updated & edited to reflect information learned from the Dec. 3rd Effingham City Council meeting.


Late last year, many of the area school boards started floating the idea of a 1% countywide sales tax increase to pay for buildings & maintenance within their districts. Effingham Unit 40, being the largest school district, balked at the idea. With 52% of the students in the county, the other school districts had to wait until Effingham Unit 40 was ready to vote to place the issue on the ballot. That waiting it seems has come to an end.

The proposed idea would be a “tax swap”. The county school districts will ask the county voters to pass a 1% sales tax increase in exchange for property tax relief. According to Mark Doan, Superintendent of Effingham Unit 40, the increase in sales tax would generate $5.3 million which would then be divided up based on school district population – so Effingham Unit 40 will receive 52% of the $5.3 million totally roughly $2.7 million. The rest of the money would go to the other school districts within the county.

With money being raised from the sales tax increase, the respective school boards would then lower their property tax rates. The amount saved would vary on which school district a person owned property.

What really is happening here is a TAX INCREASE, NOT A SWAP! Plus, the sales tax increase that the school districts are asking the county to pass is actually a tax on the City of Effingham!!!!

This “solution” to the budget woes of the area school districts is flawed in so many ways it’s hard to find a place to start!

1. The sales tax increase is permanent. There is no sunset to this tax increase.

2.  Effingham Unit 40 residents will be “saving” nearly half of what other county school district residents will see yet Effingham will be the one being taxed the most (more on that further down).

3. The sales tax increase will hurt economic development in Effingham. Effingham has one of the lowest sales taxes at 6.5% in the state & as such, it helps Effingham when recruiting & retaining businesses. Plus, with the special tax district located at Kohl’s, people will be paying 8.5% sales tax (Kohl’s has a 1% special tax district rate on top of the standard 6.5% rate).

4. The sales tax increase is not a solution to the district budget woes, only a band-aid on the problem. As budget woes continue in the future, any “savings” in property taxes will evaporate as property taxes increase to accommodate the costs of public education.

5. The sales tax increase will not solve in-class budgetary problems since the sales tax increase money can only be used for buildings & maintenance.  In addition, with more money & less pressure on the overall budget, teacher unions could argue for more compensation & benefits which they have allowed to erode over time due to those same budget concerns. As a result, property taxes could increase to pay for any possible costs associated with future contracts with the teacher unions. Brian Costin with the Illinois Policy Institute in an Oct. 29, 2012 article in the LaSalle News Tribune stated,

“We have found some districts use the sales tax to pay off bonds which frees up property taxes for other things such as increases in salaries & benefits. So there wouldn’t be any real property tax savings or abatement in those cases. It’s definitely possible that a teachers union would look at this as an opportunity at the negotiating table”.

6. The sales tax increase will not keep property taxes low forever. In the same article quoted above, LaSalle County passed a .5% sales tax increase to build Peru Elementary. The district’s property tax was reduced for a total of 3 years before the levy exceeded the pre-sales tax increase rate. Who is to say it won’t happen in Effingham County as well?

7. The sales tax increase will give the area school districts carte blanche to build & spend on their facilities at will without any further input from their respective district residents. When the current Effingham High School was built, it took 2 ballot tries to get it passed & it only passed the 2nd time largely due to the city of Effingham kicking in $4.1 million in TIF money to reduce the amount needed to bond out for construction of EHS. The voters will be ceding their right to check the spending of their local school districts if they pass this sales tax increase.

8. The sales tax increase could result in further reduction of state funds for area schools. How? The state could view the increase in revenues as a chance to further reduce funding for our districts since the area school districts would have an alternate source of revenue outside of state funding. There is no current state law that requires the state to continue to fund our schools at their current levels in communities where this sales tax increase has been passed.

9. The sales tax increase is such a awesomely good idea that only 8 counties have passed it out of 102 counties in Illinois! If it’s such great business sense to increase the sales tax to help fund schools, why haven’t the other 94 counties passed this great tax increase?!

10. Where is the data that shows new school buildings will spur economic development or cause people to move into Effingham County?

11. The argument that 54% of purchases are made by people outside the county of Effingham is a straw man position. It’s being used to get people to think they won’t be taxing themselves but that they will be taxing “other people”.

12. This is a tax directly on the city of Effingham itself since 88% of all sales tax in the county is generated within the city limits of Effingham. As astutely pointed out by conservative activist Stephanie Rieman & also mentioned by Commissioner Matt Hirtzel at the Nov. 19th Effingham City Council meeting, every voter within the city of Effingham could vote no on the sales tax increase & it could still be imposed upon the city by a majority of voters in the county. Must be nice to be able to tax someone else for your direct benefit.

13.  How much more money does Effingham Unit 40 need? When is enough, enough? We get taxed by the federal government which pays for federal grants to schools. We get taxed by Illinois on our income to pay for schools. Lottery money supposedly pays for schools. 60% or so of your property tax bill goes to schools. When you register your kid for school, you pay activity fees, etc. The last year we registered our son & daughter at EHS, we had to pay about $500 in fees alone. All that taxation & fees for public schools & I didn’t even mention how much it costs for lunch money every week.

14. The sales tax increase is a regressive tax! The upper class can afford the extra expense of the increased sales tax on purchases & they will also see the greatest reduction in their property taxes (see point #2). The middle class & the lower class residents, who are already on tight budgets, will feel the weight of this tax the most. In addition, the lower class & lower middle class residents are more likely to rent than to own a home & therefore will not see any benefit promised by the area school district superintendents.

15. The sales tax increase will force those residents who choose to send their kids to private schools to pay even more for public schools that they don’t use. The school districts want their money though yet we can’t use school vouchers to use tax money to pay for school choice?

16. What happens if (when) Illinois forces the local school districts to handle teacher pensions? You will see your property tax “swap” disappear nearly overnight.

17. Illinois raised income taxes 67%. Now you will be asked to raise the sales tax rate by 15% from 6.5% to 7.5%.

18. How is it that all the area school districts (including private schools) have seen a reduction in number of students since 2005, yet they all need more money via a sales tax increase…on top of Effingham Unit 40′s 6.25% increase to this year’s property tax levy?? As reported by Greg Sapp at WXEF,

Doan also shared the fall housing report for the districts in Effingham County.  Unit 40 enrollment is down 4% from last year and is down 13.21% since 2005.  In that same period, Beecher City district enrollment is down 33% and Teutopolis district enrollment has dropped 23.4%.  Dieterich district enrollment has dropped 9.6% and Altamont district enrollment is about steady from 2005.  

As far as parochial school enrollment, Sacred Heart enrollment is down 27.9%, St. Anthony Grade School enrollment is down 8.4%, and St. Anthony High School enrollment is down 17.5% since 2005.

That means a drop of 15.2% in enrollment in the county since 2005.

Coincidentally, a 13.21% decrease in students over the course of nearly 10 years has not been met with a 13.21% decrease in the amount of administration or administrative salaries.

19. The most shocking part about the sales tax increase??? QUID PRO QUO. It has been communicated to myself & at least one other Commissioner via City Administration & others that we shouldn’t fight so hard against this sales tax increase because we need Superintendent Mark Doan’s help when we revisit the TIF & Enterprise Zones in the near future because Mark Doan sits on both of those boards. In other words, it has been suggested that we pull our punches because if the schools get what they want, then we will get what we want.

As you can see this sales tax increase is first & foremost a tax DIRECTLY on the city of Effingham. From there, you can now see how HORRIBLE of an idea increasing the sales tax is. As an elected Commissioner on the Effingham City Council, I have to put our city residents’ needs first & keep in mind what is best for our city as a whole, now & in the future. I will not be intimidated by anyone to be quiet about this. I will not hush my voice on this issue because of some kind of  “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality. This sales tax increase proposal is wrong, plain & simple. I will not stand watching our city be directly taxed & then watch the redistribution of wealth of tax dollars to residents outside our city. I urge you to call your school board members & demand they vote no on placing the sales tax increase on the ballot. Effingham Unit 40 is the key. If they vote for this, then the other districts can & will vote for the sales tax increase ballot.

Brian Milleville, Commissioner of Public Health & Safety, Effingham City Council

Obamacare and Volunteer Ambulances

As we get deeper and deeper in Obamacare nationwide, one may wonder “what will this do to the local paid on-call and volunteer ambulance services?”

According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, the number of volunteer firefighters in the United States has declined by more than 14% since 1984. With an increase in the amount of training needed to become a volunteer firefighter, the local departments are struggling in their search of finding new members. As the age of each individual member increases, it has a lot of leaders concerned with what will happen in 5 or 10 years, when most of the current members move on. With 81.4% of fire departments in Illinois classified as “volunteer” or “mostly volunteer” by the United States Fire Administration, this could become a huge problem.
Around 75% of call for services for the volunteer and mostly volunteer fire departments are actually for ambulance calls. Ambulance fatigue among volunteers runs rampant. This isn’t unpredicted, however. Volunteers are expected to leave their families for a few hours to respond to an ambulance call that may or may not be a true emergency. A study out of London (reported in J Accident Emergency Med. 1998 Nov;15(6):368-70) found that over 36% of ambulance calls were “unnecessary”. Common excuses by the patients were “I didn’t have a ride”, “I thought I might be seen sooner”, and “I wanted my family to know I was really sick”. The common reason why patients say they aren’t scared of the ambulance bills are “insurance will cover it” and “government will pay it”. With statistics like this and with patients who possess these mentalities, how could you blame a volunteer for not wanting to leave their family for an ambulance call that very well might not be an emergency?
This problem will likely get a lot worse. Obamacare will likely add over 800,000 Illinoisans to Medicaid. With Obamacare coming, this question may arise: How many more calls for service will this bring the fire service? Can the understaffed and aging POC and Volunteers keep up? Obamacare is mostly viewed as an underfunded liability in the fire and EMS business. Medicaid reimbursements continue to decrease and take longer to arrive. Currently, the wait is between nine and twelve months, and the reimbursement level is .15 cents for every dollar billed. With Obamacare’s increase in people added to Medicaid, more people will be able to call for an ambulance and not ever have to worry about a bill. What will deter people from calling the ambulance out of convenience?
The possible consequences of this is troubling. With an increased number of calls for service, the response time will be extended. With more Medicaid patients being added, can the ambulances stay in business with such a small reimbursement number? Can the volunteers recruit enough new personnel to be able to staff the ambulance that will be needed? Will more full-time firefighters need to be hired so that staffing is taken care of, which would result in higher taxes? Only time will tell, but we are at a cross-roads.

Term Limits, General Assembly & Governor Power. Why?

Term limits are popular with people and there is no doubt about that. Many don’t like either the US Congress or our IL General Assembly as a whole which helps fuel support for term limits. While term limits on the surface are a good idea, underneath it all there remains problems that term limits cannot solve.

When someone gets elected to the IL General Assembly – or Congress for that matter – chances are they will be re-elected for years afterwards & will only find their way out of office by retirement or resignation due to corruption or being handed a cushy government agency job. Sure, there are instances where a seat changes hands due to redistricting as a whole, redistricting to create a split district politically or there is a wave of voter discontent as evidenced by the Tea Party movement in 2010.

I’m not sure when an elected official crosses the line to becoming entrenched in office. It would seem some would say 8 years. I don’t quite understand how one derives a useful political life is 8 years like some kind of Logan’s Run Carrousel scenario. But what happens at the end of those 8 years?

Changing the person in office doesn’t mean the voters will get somebody completely different politically – or even less “corrupt”. That is a major flaw in term limits. Plus, what stops a lame duck legislator(s) from voting for whatever they want in the last part of their outgoing, term limited time in office? A conscience? Doubtful. We’ve seen that lack of conscience during other lame duck sessions of the General Assembly.

Besides, elections are the ultimate term limit decider…but more on that a little later.

Redistricting/restructuring the General Assembly is also being proposed. The current idea is to lower the number of State Senators & increase the number of State Representatives. Downstate will be the loser in this proposal. My State Senate district, the 54th, already stretches from Madison County down to Washington County over to Effingham then south to Marion County. The 55th Senate District already stretches from Coles County all the way down to White County. How will expanding the size of the State Senate districts make those districts more representative of the people or make those holding that office more accountable? It won’t on both accounts.

The other provision suggested to reform the General Assembly by changing the vote from 3/5ths to 2/3rds to override a Governor’s veto. I have mixed feelings on this issue. On one side, it allows the Governor to be a true check on the Illinois legislature & the veto override was once set at 2/3rds during at least one previous incarnation of the Illinois Constitution. At the same time, Illinois has a history in populism (Jacksonian populism/democracy, Grangers movement, etc) that has traditionally  kept the General Assembly as one of the strongest branches of the Illinois government & those past incarnations of the Illinois Constitution are proof. A move back to a 2/3rds required vote to override a veto would weaken the General Assembly against a Governor who would use the veto power often. Additionally, not every measure passed by the General Assembly is veto proof – even in the Democrat super-majority in the General Assembly now so the chances of a veto being overridden would diminish.

Ultimately, the power to change the Illinois government doesn’t lie with the legislature, the judiciary or the executive branch. It doesn’t even lie with a referendum to change the Illinois Constitution.  It certainly doesn’t lie with any candidate or non-candidate promising to be a reformer like some conservative political prophet. The power to change Illinois government lies within one office & one office only – the Precinct Committeeman.

The gripes about term limits are really rooted at angst against political power & who possess that political power. We falsely lay that power on elected officials (leadership positions aside for the sake of this argument). The reason why the higher ups, the “establishment”, the “insiders”, whatever you want to call them, have the power is because we allow them to have it – because we choose to leave our precincts empty.

I’m sure you are like me & have received emails from candidates asking your help to sign and/or get signatures for their petitions so they can appear on the ballot this upcoming Primary election. Have you received the same email from your party “leadership” about finding people to run for Precinct Committeeman? How about an email reminding you to pick up your petition & get it signed to re-run as a Precinct Committeeman? No? Me either. Perhaps that’s because these same people know that the actual power to change anything lies within the Precinct Committeemen.

The ELECTED (not appointed) Precinct Committeeman gets to vote on who the Chairman of the county party will be for the next 2 years. Why is that important? Because having the right (figuratively & literally) Chairman can help decide the direction of the county & state parties & office holders. As an example, imagine if there were a majority of conservative Chairmen in the room when they decided to pick Rodney Davis over Erika Harold to replace US Rep. Tim Johnson on the ballot. Do you think outcome of that pow-wow would have been the same?

In addition, the Precinct Committeeman gets to vote on who represents their Congressional district on the State Central Committee, who as we should know by now, selects the next Chairman of the state party – who then in turn sets the direction of the state party.

Lastly, but certainly not least important, the Precinct Committeemen are the ones who help get candidates elected (or defeated) by leading the door-to-door, get-out-the-vote campaigns. They also do what they can to increase voter-turnout of their candidate of choice to get that person re-elected or get somebody defeated in the next election. Getting people to vote. Now there’s your term limits.

If you want term limits by throwing out the bad politicians, if you want to change your party from the ground up & if you want to really change Illinois government to being more responsive & more responsible then recruit others and run yourself as to make sure there are conservative Precinct Committeemen on the ballot this spring. Outside of Cook County, it takes just 10 signatures of registered party voters in your precinct to get on the ballot to be a Precinct Committeeman. Just 10 voters’ signatures to be elected to the single most powerful office in Illinois. 10 signatures to begin the road of real change in Illinois government.


The Unrepresentative Representative

US Representative John Shimkus (R-IL15) knows how to talk a good game. He has found a great way to keep his district eating out of the palm of his hands & as a side effect, has allowed him no serious challenger in a primary or in the general election. The reason? Because he portrays himself as a “good conservative”.

Having heard Shimkus speak on multiple occasions, I can pretty much tell you what he will say & he’ll sound like the most conservative person in the room when he does it. He’ll start off thanking everyone & move on to say something about God. From there, he’ll talk about his military background. Finally, he’ll talk about how messed up Washington is & about all the bad things the Obama administration has done or is planning to do to us. Simple. Straightforward. Prime Cut red meat for the Republican conservative faithful.

His speeches always get a rabble or a harrumph out of the crowd. I used to be one of them.

I used to campaign for John Shimkus. I walked precincts for him in the late 90s. I used to tout how John Shimkus was an example of how the people have sent someone good & right to Washington. But I woke up from that fantasy world. I wiped away the scales from my blind eyes & I started actually looking at John Shimkus’ voting record in the US House. What I found I didn’t exactly like.

I could make a long list here of previous votes/bills that were giveaways to the bio-fuel lobby (Open Fuels Standard Act of 2011) or were fluff legislation congratulating someone or some Eastern European country for doing something. We’ll stick with recent memory for this article to keep it as short as possible.

– Shimkus will tell you how the government should stay out of our lives, yet he was quick to help defeat, with the help of the Wicked Witch of the West Nancy Pelosi, by voting against Rep. Justin Amash’s amendment that would have barred the NSA from snooping in on US citizens not already investigation.

– Shimkus is nowhere to be heard of or seen of when it comes to Obamacare being applicable to Congress & their staff. A pending new regulatory ruling will allow Rep. Shimkus to keep his insurance while you & I will not be as fortunate starting later this year & into next year.

– Shimkus has sided with President Obama by allowing project labor agreements (aka union rules) to be required for all federal contracted bids. Every vote on to overturn President Obama’s Executive Order 13502 regarding PLAs whether by amendment or on the rare occasion when inserted into a bill’s language has met with a no, abstain or non-vote from Rep. Shimkus.

Rep. Shimkus has been in office since 1996 (several terms after his self-imposed 2 term limit). He’s a Boehner Republican. He’s the kind of guy that Speaker Boehner can count on in a crunch to vote his way. He’s a team player. Go with the flow.

Rep. Shimkus has become the Unrepresentative Representative. I look to the district north of us & I’m a bit jealous. Rep. Rodney Davis has a primary challenger in Erika Harold. Sad part is that Davis has drawn a challenger & he has a better voting record the Shimkus.  Shimkus has a worse rating (36%) than Davis (42%) on the Heritage Score Card. Shimkus even scored worse than Sen. Mark Kirk! Rep. Shimkus is the last on the Republican list before you start getting into the Democrat portion of the list! Yet Shimkus never draws a serious usurper for his crown in a primary.

Nothing will change. Shimkus will go on voting against conservatism. He’ll go on giving speeches about how conservative he actually is, whitewashing away the reality of his voting record. The Republican rank & file will believe every word he says. The Republican County Chairmen in his district will continue to defend him to the death. And he’ll go on getting re-elected. If assumption is the mother of all f–k ups, then apathy is the mother all of Shimkus’ reelection wins.


The Wussificaton of our Kids…in Effingham?!

We’ve heard the stories from other school districts – no Musical Chairs, no Duck Duck Goose, no Tag, etc. Why? Because these games are inherently unfair or somebody might feel left out.

I live in one of the most conservative areas in Illinois – Effingham County. Fox News once said that Effingham County is the “base of the base of the Illinois Republican Party”. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard what took place at Effingham Junior High School this past week.

My girlfriend’s granddaughter was running for 8th Grade class President at EJHS & therefore, there would be an election by her peers.  My future granddaughter was ready to campaign & was excited at the prospect of winning class President. She even spent her own time after school designing homemade campaign fliers.

Then she went to school.

When she went to the EJHS Office to get her fliers approved so she could hang them in the hallways, she was informed by the secretary that her campaign fliers were not going to be approved. Of course, she was upset by this because she had spent so much time making her posters.

When she got home, her mother called the school to find out why her daughter’s homemade campaign fliers were not approved. The answer? “Because it would make it unfair for the other candidates”. She was also informed that all campaign posters are supposed to be done using computers to make it fair.

Two problems.

First, isn’t making students do the work on computers inherently unfair? Not every student has a computer at home & if they do the work at school not every student has the same computer & creative skills to make a campaign poster that would look like everyone else.

Second, what is more inherently unfair than elections, whether in life or in school? Somebody has to lose & somebody has to win. In life, some candidates have a bunch of money, others do not. Some candidates have a grassroots effort in place & others do not. So why make elections fair in school? What possible lesson can you teach a kid if you level the playing field for a school election?!

Life is unfair & life’s outcomes are unfair. Yet our schools are teaching our kids that life IS fair & outcomes should be as fair as possible. That’s not how society works. That’s not how our economy works. That’s not how the workplace works. And it sure isn’t how elections work.

I’m ecstatic that my future granddaughter won her election but the ends don’t justify the means. She should have been able to campaign as she saw fit within normal school rules. The same goes for the other kids who ran for school office.

Why get bent out of shape over such a trivial thing when she won? Because “rules” like this are wussifying our kids to the reality of life & cuts down on any creativity or imagination they might have – the later an important skill to have in the workplace. This time it’ll be making school elections fair. Next time it’ll be getting rid of games that produce a clear winner & loser. Then it’ll be nobody gets an F on anything. Slippery slope my friends. Always, always be mindful of the future.

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Winners & Losers with Illinois Gay Marriage Passage

Every debate has a winner & a loser. One side prevails as another does not. This concept also applies to the gay marriage bill in front of the Illinois General Assembly.  Greg Hinz at Crain’s Chicago Business points out that lawmakers are just a few votes shy of passage of gay marriage in the Illinois House. Hinz puts the number between 55 -57 votes in favor, just short of the 60 needed. A few months ago, I was informed that the Illinois House was at least 12 votes short of passage – so the opposition in the Illinois House is starting to falter. So who will be a winner & who will be a loser if gay marriage passes the Illinois House & is eventually passed on to Gov. Quinn to sign?

Winner – Dan Rutherford – Rutherford, if you recall, was the lone Republican Illinois Senator to vote in favor of civil unions during the lame duck session of the General Assembly in 2010 before taking office as Illinois Treasurer. If gay marriage is approved, then Rutherford is provided some cover for his vote & any opposition he faces in the primary will have lost a campaign issue against Rutherford.

Loser – Bruce Rauner – As a social liberal, Rauner was counting on pulling in the moderate & liberal votes in the Republican Primary for Governor. If gay marriage passes, then that issue is largely off the table which allows any of Rauner’s opponents to focus on his other social liberal stances be it gun control or Rauner’s pro-choice beliefs – both important issues to Republican Primary voters who generally trend conservative.

Winner – Pat Brady – The Captain always goes down with the ship. Brady put his reputation on the line by openly advocating for gay marriage passage earning him the ire of conservatives, including myself. Brady’s support of gay marriage, which violates the Illinois Republican Party platform, has paved the way for his resignation sometime in the future but Brady will find comfort with the other social liberal Republicans in the Loop & Beltway circles. Even after Brady decides to resign, I’m not sure we have heard the last of him (see Andy McKenna).

Winner – Gov. Pat Quinn – As a very unpopular incumbent Governor, Pat Quinn needs all the “good” press he can get going into what seems to be a very difficult potential Democrat Primary. Quinn will be able to show his liberal colors & appease some, but definitely not all, his critics on social issues. Quinn’s victory lap will be short lived however as SB1 will once again pit Quinn against the unions he double –crossed after he was reelected.

Loser – Lisa Madigan – The current Illinois Attorney General, wannabe Democrat Governor candidate, will have lost a campaign issue just as Bruce Rauner will have lost one against his nearest opponent. Quinn will be able to say that he actually did something about gay marriage whereas Lisa Madigan merely sat on the sidelines cheering him on. She also loses a campaign issue in the General Election if Rutherford (assuming it’s basically a Rutherford/Rauner two way battle) wins the Republican Primary. But she still carries the Madigan last name…which is & always shall be a loser in my book.

Winner – Trial Lawyers – Once again, trial lawyers win. How? Because of all the discrimination lawsuits that will follow after passage of gay marriage in Illinois. Florists, wedding reception halls & other businesses have been sued by gay “couples” because those businesses refused to offer their services to them as we have seen in other states that passed gay marriage. It’s only a matter of time before a lawsuit against churches denying services to gay “couples” also happens, despite assurances by gay marriage supporters/sponsors in the General Assembly that houses of worship are exempt from the gay marriage law.

Loser – Illinois residents – Once again, the Democrats in the General Assembly have decided to focus on the real issues like medicinal marijuana & gay marriage versus handling the soft, unimportant issues like pension reform, budget deficits, faltering state credit ratings, high unemployment, anti-business regulations/policies & taxes. Priorities, priorities.

Loser – Conservatism in Illinois – Conservatives will have failed to pressure a handful of Republicans actually left in office in the Illinois House from breaking the ranks & joining the Democrats in voting for gay marriage. Conservatives were thwarted from getting the required votes to oust Pat Brady as Illinois Republican Party Chair – surprisingly with help from other conservatives either tacitly or openly. Even medicinal marijuana passed with barely a whimper. Not only does the Illinois Republican Party need to do some soul searching over this summer but conservatives must also do the same.

Winner – Senator Mark Kirk – Kirk has successfully thrown away any semblance of conservatism that he barely showed when he ran in 2010. Putting Mark Kirk’s recent anti-gun, pro-immigration reform posturing aside, Kirk has openly supported Pat Brady & passage of gay marriage in Illinois. Kirk has shown himself, as the highest office holding Republican in Illinois, to be a force within the Illinois Republican Party. Kirk will enjoy many of the same campaign benefits in 2016 that Rutherford will enjoy in 2014.

Push – State Sen. Jason Barrickman & other Republican pro-gay marriage votes – I’m calling it push for right now for Barrickman, et. al. Time will only tell if there will be backlash against the Republicans that vote or voted for gay marriage. Barrickman is already doing damage control & others will be watching closely for any fallout from his decision. Some Republicans that vote for gay marriage might even find themselves with primary challengers. 2014 is a long time way still but in the world of politics 2014 might as well be tomorrow.

Losers – Dillard, Brady & Co. – Running to the right of anyone in the Republican Primary for Governor to win conservatives will be that much harder. Gay marriage isn’t like the abortion issue where laws can be passed to rollback or restrict abortions. Once gay marriage is passed, the other candidates that might jump in can certain say they are opposed to gay marriage but any hopes of overturning it or restricting will be solely in the wheelhouse of the Illinois Supreme Court – which leans liberal. Anti-gay marriage will be a rallying cry, but it’ll be as effective as Bruce Rauner calling for Illinois to be Right to Work state.

Winner – The Slippery Slope – Pandora’s Box will be opened if you will. It is only a matter of time before polygamy is approved, which support for such action has already begun. It’s also only a matter of time before religious organizations lose their non-profit, tax-exempt status because they will be openly “discriminating” against gay “couples” by refusing to engage in marrying gay “couples”. In a state as broke financially as Illinois, removing the tax-exempt status would fill the Illinois coffers, not unlike how Henry VIII figured out when he broke from the Catholic Church & founded the Church of England.