Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Godzilla never seems to mind that he's crushing Tokyo


     Seven hundred days? Where has the time gone?
     That's easy. Washed over the waterfall of wasted opportunity. With the entire state of Illinois soon to follow, battered on rocks, then breaking apart as it plunges into the frothing financial abyss.
     Unless . . . .
     Well, unless nothing. This isn't going to be fixed. Not now. Not next month. Maybe not next year. Maybe not ever. We're at the light incense and pray for Superman stage of the problem.
     It is disingenuous for the Sun-Times, my beloved mother ship, to post a daily front page count of how long it has been since Illinois has had a budget. The idea is that doing so will somehow shame our leaders into coming to an agreement and getting on with the business of trying to right the capsized and foundering vessel that is Illinois.
     But really, if embarrassment were a possibility with the speaker of the house and the governor, this would have resolved itself long ago. I've met crackheads living in a nest of blankets on Lower Wacker Drive who had a more highly developed sense of shame than these two jokers.
     I do not want to fall into the easy "a plague on both their houses" trap. Yes, they are equally unpleasant men.

     Bruce Rauner is a callous, sneering billionaire who comes across in person like the human model of C. Montgomery Burns on "The Simpsons." Rauner expressed no interest whatsoever in public life beyond enriching himself until, perhaps bored, he took some of his bottomless lake of money and began fire hosing it at Illinois—a kind of political waterboarding. Eventually the state, sputtering and gasping, cried uncle, and elected him governor over Pat Quinn. Good old Pat, standing at the mound in his zigzag T-shirt, lowered his head as if weighed down by the brim of his enormous baseball cap, uttered a sigh and padded home.
     And Mike Madigan is a grim slip of a man: think of a last year's jack-o'-lantern mounted on a broomstick, the whole thing marinated in vinegar then hung out to dry.
     Rauner is definitely in the wrong. He's kneecapped the budget, tying it to a variety of side issues—castrating the unions, demanding term limits so that no future Madigans can spawn. With typical my-way-or-the-highway Republican scorn, he demands capitulation then denounces his opponents for holding as fast to their convictions as he does to his own. Even as unions founder, corporate profits soar, and non-CEO salaries—surprise, surprise—stagnate, Rauner insists that the union bogeyman must be defeated before someone tosses a life ring to Illinois.
     If rich old white men like Madigan and Rauner were being hurt by this impasse, it would have been resolved yesterday. But it damages the poor, the struggling young—who rely on public universities and colleges that are dropping staff, injecting furlough days into their academic calendars, and, in general, suffering on starvation rations. Plus those with disabilities, victims of crime, and all the unfortunates who must fall back onto a safety net that both men are pawning to the rope merchant.
     Am I near the end? Good. Because this is pointless. Rauner doesn't need to compromise—his kids are fine. And Madigan can't without prying the fingers of what remains of the Illinois middle class off the bottom rung of the ladder. So as the days and years dribble away, our two leaders, like Godzilla and Rodan, grapple and roar and roll around, smashing the model Tokyo to flinders.
     Godzilla never seems to mind the buildings being crushed beneath him, does he? Mothra doesn't flinch before pulling down the sparking power lines. You never see the guys in the rubber suits pause, thinking, "Gosh, I hope those people on that bus are OK. . . ." They're monsters. They don't care. That's he definition of being a monster. Not caring.
     If either Madigan or Rauner care about the state being ground to kindling under them, there is scant evidence. The people of Illinois, we care big time. We can't afford not to. But nobody hears our voices over the din; they must be muffled by those thick rubber suits.


  1. Most of the plague belongs on Rauner's head.

  2. Rauner/Madigan=Gojira/Rodan. PERFECT! Then this: "a safety net that both men are pawning to the rope merchant." Why I stop by every gd day!

  3. That Rauner is such a loser, he paid $6.9 million in his Illinois tax return for 2015. As Governor he's not drawing a salary or taking any benefits, double loser. Dump Bruce and send him packing to a loser state like Indiana. What Illinois needs for a governor is a winner, someone like Chris Kennedy or J.B. Pritzker. They have the bulk of their assets in a charitable trust, where they can appreciate tax free. All either one need do is pledge to make everyone in Illinois winners, by distributing all court filings necessary to allow any Illinois citizen to establish a family charitable trust. Then have a court filing mill in some place like Madison County where all applications get stamped approved. Now there is a curious loophole in the U.S. tax code, a charitable trust is not required to actually engage in charitable activities or donate funds to a charity. To keep this loophole in place, be sure to keep those campaign contributions flowing to Senators Durbin and Duckworth.

    1. Hey Bernie, why don't you try paying a little attention to what these men have done or might do in office, instead of obsessing over their wealth?

    2. It seems our opinions are often at odds, what we need is to bond by engaging in team work. It's a dirty job but I'm sure you're up to the task. I'll gut punch Rauner and hold him down, you can pants him and start pulling money out of his ass. Look it's working, Illinois' budget is starting to come into balance! Oh no, behind you there's Madigan gobbling up all the money, with some kind of grin on his face. It seems several thousand more politically connected state employees are ready for early retirement, with six figure pensions and full benefits. It worked for a while, sorry I couldn't come up with a better idea.

    3. Bernie, sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but incomprehensible sarcasm is even lower.

    4. At times I try hard to reach the lowest form of wit, alas Kathy Griffin's recent stunt, which I found terribly amusing, has beaten me to the punch. Such matters should be alluded to with a certain subtle grace.

    5. Sorry Bitter Scribe, for being in a silly mood today so I'd like to answer you're original observation seriously. It's not so much obsessing over rich peoples wealth, but a belief out tax code is out of whack. The federal, state, sales and property taxes are in need of reform to make things more equitable. A more steady revenue stream can be achieved without crippling Illinois' economy, so we can fund programs that are essential. It's frustrating to see peoples attention diverted by trivialities, while our treasury gets looted by insiders. Off topic, but we had a good debate with many excellent comments last year about the water disaster in Flint Michigan. For anyone interested, WTTW will be showing a NOVA segment covering the topic tonight at 9PM.

    6. Yeah, well, thanks for trying to explain, Bernie, but I still don't get you. Yes, the tax code needs reforming, but that won't happen until the impasse in Springfield gets settled, and the only way to do that IMO is to get Rauner out of office. Harping on what a wonderful guy he is* because he pays a lot in taxes and doesn't take a salary is missing the point.

      *If that's what you were doing. Your attempts at sarcasm are usually incomprehensible to me.

  4. The First thing Rauner did as Governor was cut his own taxes by $750,000. All he wants to do is kill all the unions, and he's unwilling to govern--which is compromise Rauner is actively hurting education and the most vulnerable in our state--all for tax cuts for the richest.

  5. The only good thing to come out of the budget impasse is this column.

    "think of a last year’s jack-o’-lantern mounted on a broomstick, the whole thing marinated in vinegar then hung out to dry"

    Now that's an insult.

    "Rauner expressed no interest whatsoever in public life beyond enriching himself"

    And that sums up the "conservative" point of view quite nicely.

    Lest we forget, Madigan is quite wealthy himself, though not on a Rauner level. Few are.

    But in the end, all American politics, now, and perhaps forever, are about what's best for the wealthy. They have suffered enough.

    All we have to do is help them become richer. The golden age of prosperity for all will follow. Really. No, really.

    Thanks Neil. Nothing is going to change so all we really have left is bearing witness. Thank you for bearing witness. The Rauner's and Trumps of the world will win - it is after all a rigged system. But as long as we bear witness, they are reminded that we are wise to their con - and that provides the tiniest bit of comfort.

  6. There's only one remedy, and that's to get Rauner the hell out of office.

  7. As far as I can tell, only one billionaire has been up to the job he was elected to.
    That was Mike Bloomberg, as mayor of NYC.
    I have a friend who's pretty right wing, but even he admitted Bloomberg did a good job & his take on him was simple: Bloomberg is smart, while all the rest of the billionaires elected aren't, they're just lucky to be rich.

    As for our wretched governor, he's an amateur & unfortunately, it appears that his Democratic opponent will also be a political amateur, either Chris Kennedy, who thinks his last name still means something or that conniving real estate tax cheat JB Pritzker, who has zero government experience, but a large checkbook that he's willing to blow & then prove he's incompetent.
    Kennedy would at least be able to attract some decent people to work for him, but on the whole Illinois is doomed!

  8. I like the Spanish word "sinverguenza," which literally means "without shame" and translates as "scoundrel."


    1. That word sounds like a disease, which I guess still works.

  9. Today's rivalry isn't as ruthless as when hired thugs were dumping other papers' delivery trucks in the Chicago River. Many of us at either organization also have worked at the other. We are, in many cases, personal friends — even marriage partners — careful not to share much about what's happening at work. But that institutional rivalry is intense. And surely it provokes the Sun-Times and the Tribune to serve this metropolis better.

    --CTribune editorial.

    Tribune political reporter's wife was on felon ex-gov. George Ryan's clout list and landed himself's own wife a plum state job doing nothing all day. Gross. Glad Trump's feds are keeping an eye on this Chicago trash.

    Can't even wrapports the dead fish because of cheap soy ink. Blech.

  10. I believe Rauner is the one politician worse than Trump. He really doesn't care who gets harmed by his actions, or if the public approves of his actions.

  11. If Illinois voters ever realize how much power they really have, they could change the course of Illinois in one election. Simply vote against every incumbent and when the dust settled, we'd have a budget within a couple weeks or so. But that will never happen because, like lemmings over a cliff, voters vote the way they always have and expect different results. Einstein's definition of insanity I believe.

    1. Well, if one side or the other were willing to capitulate, we'd have a budget lickety-split as well. But Madigan is unwilling to sell out the unions and Rauner won't back down on his "reforms."


  12. Nothing to see here . . .
    •Retired Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (D) makes $132,384 a year in state lawmaker pension – from a short eight-year ‘career’ as a state senator (plus some pension spiking tricks).
    •Former Governor Jim Edgar (R) costs taxpayers $337,816 per year: a $156,324 pension, plus an $181,492 salary (FY2013) at our flagship University of Illinois at Champaign.
    •In 2010, former Governor George Ryan (R) had a $197,028 annual pension ($16,419/month), but it was stripped away by the successful public corruption prosecution conviction.
    •Even former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert (R) cashed in for a $28,020 ($2,335/month) legislative state pension before heading off to his congressional career.

    --Forbes March 31, 2016


Comments are moderated, and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.