A Rotten Bunch

What is it with the corruption and dishonesty of Illinois politicians?


Running for Congress in 2000, Mark Kirk told a Chicago Tribune reporter he had almost drowned in Lake Michigan as a teenager. "I should be at the bottom of that lake, but I was given a rare gift of a second life," he confided. "And to be given a second chance means it has to mean something. For me, that means making a difference through public service, and it all comes from the lake."

This brought to mind what Oscar Wilde said of one of Charles Dickens' scenes: "One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing." After Kirk's earnest tale, no one should have been surprised that he has a genius for creative self-promotion.

Now we learn that Kirk, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Illinois and a member of the Navy Reserve, made unfounded claims to have been the Navy's intelligence officer of the year, commanded the Pentagon war room, come under fire in Iraq, and served in both the 1990-91 and the 2003 Iraq wars. But even now, he can't give straight, believable answers about his embellishments.

The congressman has never been one to minimize his talents. Once, in a candidate debate, he responded to a question about immigration reform by announcing grandly, "I could answer that question in Spanish, since I attended Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico." Kirk finds himself amazing and expects you to agree.

But his resume inflation has given voters a powerful reason to abandon him in a race that should have been idiot-proof. This year is shaping up to be a Republican bonanza, Kirk is moderate enough to appeal beyond his own party, and his Democratic opponent, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, has all the heft of a helium balloon.

Maybe this seat, like the Cubs, carries some curse. It was once occupied by Democrat Carol Moseley Braun, whose ethical controversies led to her defeat in 1998 by Republican Peter Fitzgerald. He was so honest and capable—I'm not joking here—that the Illinois Republican Party found him impossible to bear, inducing his retirement after one term.

In the next election, one serious contender was accused of physically abusing his wife, another allegedly asked his wife to have sex with him in front of strangers at sex clubs, and a third moved abruptly from Maryland to enter the race. Prevailing over them all was Barack Obama, who showed little interest in being a senator and decided he would rather be president.

After Obama departed with two years left in his term, an egotistical mediocrity named Roland Burris took over. He was appointed by Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose alleged efforts to auction off the seat led to the federal corruption trial that began this week.

But with the incumbent unwilling to take his chances with the voters, the office will fall to either Giannoulias or Kirk, who seem to be determined to raise our opinion of Burris.

Giannoulias ran for treasurer in 2006 on the strength of his experience as an officer at Broadway Bank, which it turned out made loans to convicted felons while he was there and was closed down by the government in April. Now he indicates he was fetching coffee when all the bad decisions were made.

By this point, the average Illinoisan, ordered at gunpoint to choose between the two, would reply, "Shoot." It's a familiar dilemma in a place where state government has four branches: executive, legislative, judicial, and correctional.

What is it about Illinois? The state has a history of corruption and self-dealing so extensive that it perpetuates itself. Many honest, well-meaning people avoid our political arena for the same reason they avoid swimming in the sewer: It's nasty, and their presence doesn't make it smell any better.

Kirk was notable for avoiding any hint of ethical scandal, but his very distance from the usual muck may have led him astray. He was not satisfied being smarter and better than your run-of-the-mill Illinois politician. He had to make himself out to be a combination of Superman and Beaver Cleaver.

But voters are not expecting greatness or nobility from their senator. They only ask the political gods to send someone who doesn't lie, steal, or bargain with corrupt officeholders.

The political gods have given their answer to that prayer: Ha. Ha. Ha.


NEXT: Wrong Stop

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  1. Good morning reason!

  2. Good morning Suki!

  3. Congratulations Chicagoans on your ice hockey match last night!

    1. It took only half as long as the Cubs, so far…

      1. Aw, poor Cubs fans. Every year they tell me it is their year.

        1. They possess the self-delusion gene, which makes them oddly complacent. Not to be confused with Cleveland’s inferiority-complex gene, which makes them crazy with envy.

          1. But we digress. How ’bout them Blagos?

            1. Is that the Obama buddy going to trial? A friend jokes that he is the only person to ever live in Illinois that hasn’t been subpoenaed for that one.

              1. I inherited that man.

              2. I’m looking forward to the booking photo where he will be rug-less.

            2. The lack of alt-text on that pic has me totally lost about the article.

  4. OT: This guy has the right idea on eminent domain.…..annon.html

    1. Must read. That man is my hero of the day.

    2. OMG I’m in LOVE!

      1. He isn’t against the principle of eminent domain. He says he only wants a fair price in accordance with government policy. Not exactly Tank Man, but a radical by Chinese standards.

        1. Always negotiate from a position of authority, like behind a loaded cannon.

          1. Even if the cannon is firing promotional t-shirts?

            1. That’s when you’re the puppetmaster.

  5. Ah, Illinois – the only state that can rival my proud home state of New Jersey in corruption.

    1. Nice try, Yankees. But not even close to the level of systemic corruption we have in Louisiana.

      1. Louisiana rivals nations in corruption!

        1. Years ago when felonious, LA Gov Edwin Edwards was running for a second term, he was challenged by the ideologically addled David Duke. Edwards supporters printed these great bumper stickers.

    2. I think you forget, if Blago is convicted, that will make 4 of the last 5 elected Illinois governors to go from the Mansion to the Big House.

    3. C’mon; IL, NJ, LA all pale in comparison to the Empire State! New York rocks when it comes to criminally inclined elected politicians and civil servants! Think of it, we have politicians and civil servants prosecuted by prosecutors who eventually wind up in prison or resigning over criminal acts!

      You just have to appreciate the irony.

    4. As bad as the corruption is in some places in the U.S., we do have politicians who go to jail indicating at least some measure of justice (and deterrence for other scum). Think of all the countries around the world where corruption is so rampant that justice is out of the question.

      1. “Corrupt politician” is a tautology.

  6. What does it say about the people in Illinois to keep running and electing these people. And why does it take a GOP nominee to finally get Reason/Chapman to ask the rhetorical question. Compared to the rest of things recent Illinois political theater has provided Kirk’s serial “misspeaking” seems quite minor. Last I checked the beacon of integrity Daley was still mayor of Chicago? Or has Chapman not noticed?

    1. careful, simply living in Illinois doesn’t make us all part of the idiot mob that keeps electing ‘those people’. It does make us all Blackhawk fans for the day however.

      1. No, not at all. I assure you, those of us in the rest of the country don’t blame people living in Illinois for Illinois politicians.

        It’s all those people in Illinois cemeteries that we curse daily. They Won’t Stop Voting!

      2. Given that your team was playing the Flyers, I think most of the country are Blackhawk Fans for the day. Congrats!

    2. One word — Chicago.

      1. One more word — unions.

  7. I have run into a few pathological liars in my time, most moderately successful. It amazes me.

  8. ROTFL, like there is any such thing as “honest” politics! Too funny dude.

  9. Its quite remarkable, really, how little coverage Blago’s trial is getting.

    There will be fireworks, though, when the defense puts on its case. They want White House insiders to testify, they want the full wiretaps introduced, all kinds of stuff that is bound to smear all kinds of people in stinky, stinky, Blago mud.

    I can hardly wait.

    1. It should be a lot of fun. Them dems may regret impeaching Blago, if he goes down he is going to take as many folks with him as he can.

      1. I predict an untimely demise for Blago before he gets to drag down the other douches.

        1. Again, and I want to make this clear, I did not have sex with that man, Mr. Blagojevich.

    2. I think the deal was cut long ago, “make no trouble and you’ll get the minimum security Club Fed treatment. Our media people will keep it all on the down low.”

    3. That explains WHY its getting so little coverage. BP is running nice cover for them.

  10. So, the author poses and interesting question in both the title and 90% of the article…. and then fails to answer it.

    1. A Rotten Bunch
      What is it with the corruption and dishonesty of illinois politicians?

      ,by Jerry Seinfeld

      What is it with all these corrupt politicians? I mean, these guys are so freakin corrupt for cryin out loud. What’s the deal with thaaaat?

  11. In the next election, one serious contender was accused of physically abusing his wife, another allegedly asked his wife to have sex with him in front of strangers at sex clubs, and a third moved abruptly from Maryland to enter the race.

    Well, at least he did not physically assaulted his wife! Uh, I am referring to the second guy.

    I mean, abruptly moving from Maryland – that has to be worse than forcing your wife to perform in front of an audience!

    1. 1) he never actually forced her to perform, he just tried to get her to, consensually.

      2) the keyes thing was hypocritical… Who knows if the ryan thing was. Strange sex clubs wasn’t a campaign issue. Keyes had claimed to be opposed to carpetbaggers.

  12. Yo, fuck, Illinois!

    1. Whatever. How is that budget deficit going? Just 9%, I got you beat at 36%. Suck It!

  13. Ahh the Land of Lincoln where an elected governor is almost guaranteed to go from the governor’s mansion to a prison cell. This makes me wish for the days of Jim Edger.

    1. Jim Edgar was no saint but he apparently was not a felon (which makes him an outlier).

  14. “Culture of Corruption” seems like a good name for a metal band, if it isn’t already.

  15. Jonathan Toews for governor!!!

  16. I’ll also add, to those of you who seem to think that irrational voting and general stupidity are somehow reserved for Illinois voters, let’s keep in mind that the entire country elected Barack Obama president two years ago, all while pretending that he somehow rose to the position of senator in Illinois without being involved in machine politics.

    1. The Reformer from Chicago…well, there’s your problem.

  17. How many governors in a row have to be kicked out for corruption before you just stop having a governor?

  18. Illinoisan

    Illinoio / Illinoia?

  19. TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT…..TO ALL THE COMMUNIST IN THE IG,FBI,CIA,AND U.S. Senators and the left wing media outlets.///// VERY QUIETLY Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, CITIZENSHIP CASE REACHES THE SUPREME COURT ;;;GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.
    Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama
    In a move certain to fuel the debate over Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama qualifications for the presidency, the group “Americans for Freedom of Information” has Released copies of President Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, college transcripts from Occidental College . Released today, the transcript school indicates that , underMmslim Barack Hussein Obama, the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship.
    This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, detractors have been seeking. Along with the evidence that he was first born in Kenya and there is no record of him ever applying for US citizenship, this is looking pretty grim. The news has created a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about legitimacy and qualification to serve as President article titled, Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama Eligibility Questioned,”Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, first official visit to the U.K. In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama’s legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey . This lawsuit claims Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio’s case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of citizenshMmslim Barack Hussein Obama,citizenship or qualification to serve as president.

    Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still ongoing but that the final report will be provided to the U..S. Attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder has refused to comment on the matter…


    Subject: RE: Issue of Passport?

    While I’ve little interest in getting in the middle of the Obama birth issue, Paul Hollrah over at FSM did so yesterday and believes the issue can be resolved by Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama answering one simple question: What passport did he use when he was shuttling between New York , Jakarta , and Karachi ?

    So how did a young man who arrived in New York in early June 1981, without the price of a hotel room in his pocket, suddenly come up with the price of a round-the-world trip just a month later?

    And once he was on a plane, shuttling between New York , Jakarta , and Karachi , what passport was he offering when he passed through Customs and Immigration?

    The American people not only deserve to have answers to these questions, they must have answers. It makes the debate over citizensh Mmslim Barack Hussein Obamaip a rather short and simple one.

    Q: Did he travel to Pakistan in 1981, at age 20?
    A : Yes, by his own admission.

    Q: What passport did he travel under?
    A: There are only three possibilities.
    1) He traveled with a U.S. .. Passport,
    2) He traveled with a British passport, or
    3) He traveled with an Indonesia passport.

    Q: Is it possible that Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama traveled with a U.S. Passport in 1981?
    A: No. It is not possible. Pakistan was on the U.S. .. State Department’s “no travel” list in 1981.

    Conclusion: When Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama went to Pakistan in 1981 he was traveling either with a British passport or an Indonesian passport.

    If he were traveling with a British passport that would provide proof that he was born in Kenya on August 4, 1961, not in Hawaii as he claims. And if he were traveling with an Indonesian passport that would tend to prove that he relinquished whatever previous citizenship he held, British or American, prior to being adopted by his Indonesian step-father in 1967.

    Whatever the truth of the matter, the American people need to know how he managed to become a “natural born” American citizen between 1981 and 2008..

    Given the destructive nature of his plans for America, as illustrated by his speech before Congress and the disastrous spending plan he has presented to Congress, the sooner we learn the truth of all this, the better.

    If you Don’t care that Your President Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama is not a natural born Citizen and in Violation of the Constitution, then Delete this, and then lower your American Flag to half-staff, because the U.S. Constitution is already on life-support, and won’t survive much longer.

    If you do care then Forward this to as many patriotic Americans as you can, because our country is being looted and ransacked! the commander

  20. Anyone who is surprised at the results of IL politics, noting that the voters there simply vote for their government jobs (something like 3/4 of all IL jobs are government), is asleep. That’s as simple as it is: tax-financed patronage jobs or government protections (licensing, etc…) have been handed out to more than 51% of voters, and the rest of the state are unphilosophical government school graduates who lack the intelligence or education to vote for free market candidates. The minority of intelligent people have terrible, unorganized, and uninspiring Libertarian candidates to vote for. The IL LP leadership repeatedly loses ballot status, even when it’s handed to them on a silver platter (as in 2006). They fired the one guy who was doing anything (their executive director Jeff Trigg), as well as the chairman who wanted to support his activity and work with him (Jerry Kohn), and they now complain that “nothing got done”. Had they not done this, they would be a burgeoning major party in IL right now.

    Unfortunately, the voters of IL are the only ones dumber than the IL Libertarian Party.

    Since the government schools in IL refuse to teach history or philosophy, they have produced a general public that is historically and philosophically illiterate. The result of this course of action, is perpetually floundering collectivism.

    It all makes perfect sense to me. That’s why I got the hell out of IL. I agree with George Carlin on this one: spin the toilet water faster, hurry up with flushing the whole mess down the drain. At this rate, in 50 years, the parasite politicians will just leave their self-created wasteland for a more suitable host, and free market frontiersman can return to the overgrown wilderness with a new, more concise, more voluntary constitution. Of course, they will return to compete with the burgeoning ghetto of Chicago’s black market, which will never die, emboldened by 100 years of mindless prohibitionism.

    The politicians and their willing prey piss, wail, and moan about the prairie state of affairs, but the second someone mentions a viable alternative, they throw up their arms in disgust and say “We can’t do that!”. Or “That would be anarchy!” LOL! (More anarchic than the west side of Chicago on a hot July night, with cops and crooks engaging in mindless violence against each other in a brutal attempt to enforce a prevailing social order on an unwilling populace?)

    Atlas is Shrugging in Illinois. “The hog-slaughterer of the world” is now whimpering for federal handouts so it can pretend it is fiscally solvent. The producers have fled the city for the suburbs, because they are not allowed weapons of self-defense that any two-bit hood can get for a few hundred in the black market. Perhaps a better comparison than ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is that Chicago is “Alongside Night”.

    And the quote about Obama is exactly right: the machine favors him, even though (or perhaps “especially because”) he does not comprehend basic economics. Anyone can repeat flowery rhetoric, but ask a politician to “get out of the way”? Sorry! That’s not in the vocabulary of either the IL voter, or its dunderhead class of bumbling socialist powermongers.

    And who governs the IL voters/sheep? Mostly ex-prosecutors, the people most responsible for the ravages of the incessantly-failing prohibitionism of IL and the entire USA. Most prosecutors are power-seeking authoritarians, well-versed in voir dire silencing of truth, justice, and the US Constitution from all mention, both in the courtroom and in politics.

    Anyone who is amazed at the corruption of IL politics is simply not paying any attention. It’s GIGO: Garbage in, Garbage out.

    It isn’t the politicians in IL who are corrupt: it’s the clueless voters and the system of corruption itself.

    After all, who wants a job handing out patronage jobs to sullen socialists waiting to collect their unemployment checks? Only the person who sees it as an opportunity for power. Nobody else wants that job, and nobody else can get it.

    With the notable exception of Scott Bludorn (who ran for office in a very statist and comfortable district), the IL LP candidates don’t even walk their districts. They don’t want to win. And even Bludorn focused on existing voters: the people so stupid they voted for the existing system.

    Nope, no “hope and change” for IL!

    It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

  21. How much federal dollars were stolen for Illinois to build Interstates 24,39,57,64,65,72,74,80,88,90,94,155,280,290,294,355,474. Do we need this many options in the event of a nuclear attack? They’re all under construction all the time anyway.
    Why is every worker at every hotel or restaurant more aloof and arrogant than the pettiest bureaucrat in all of France? Illinois is our axis of evil.

  22. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

  23. All politicians are tempted by power and tend toward corruption. Illinois politicians are just better at giving in.

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  27. Sometimes I sound like I’m arguing, when I’m actually not. I just have a way of putting my posts stronger than intended.It’s easier to keep out of the conversation and not take the chance of being misunderstood.

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