Daily archives: November 12th, 2008

PA Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll Dies

From WTAE TV Channel 4 in Pittsburgh:

[Pennsylvania] Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll has died.

The 78-year-old was being treated in Baltimore for neuroendocrine cancer.She was diagnosed in July.Baker Knoll was released from the hospital on Nov. 6.She said then she had entered a physical therapy program to deal with an infection that slowed down her recovery.She also said she intended to return to her duties.

The news is out of Harrisburg, PA.

Does Anyone Legislate in Springfield? Carol Marin and ‘Shrooms

Writing for the Sun-Times, Carol Marin is calling for true change in Springfield.  She’s calling for ‘Shrooms to rise up, come out of the dark, and, well, legislate.

That would be refreshing.

What is a ‘Shroom?

“‘Shrooms” — short for “mushrooms” — is code in Springfield for rank-and-file lawmakers who, thanks to the iron grip of their leadership, are irrelevant to critical decision-making. The term was coined decades ago when a House member stuck a sign on his desk offering a bleak commentary: “Welcome to the land of the mushrooms where they keep you in the dark and pile s – – – on your head.”

Whether it’s the all-powerful speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, or the I’m-the-Boss-Now Senate President Emil Jones, the rules that govern each chamber are meant to clip the wings of the rank and file and keep the leadership in complete control. Without a leader’s OK, forget about getting a bill out of committee, a prime committee assignment, a leadership post or heaven help you, forget about financial help come Election Day.

No legislation sees the light of day unless the bosses say so.  ‘Shrooms can go back to the dark and vote with the leadership.

The inactivity in Springfield the past few years impresses no one.  Senator Emil Jones makes sure his son gets his senate seat, Blago the Intransigent listens to no one, and Speaker Michael Madigan controls the Illinois House with an iron fist:

Jones, whose party returned to the majority after the tyrannical reign of his Republican predecessor, Pate Philip, was elected president in 2002. Allied with the incoming governor, Rod Blagojevich, the two united against Madigan and there’s been god-awful legislative gridlock ever since.

Look, we’ve been waiting for school funding reform in Illinois for decades.  Illinois still places second to last in the nation in funding for education.  Instead, we get lawmakers eminently impressed with themselves and their ability to win an election, and no one working for real change any more.  The Illinois Legislature is broken.

I can barely stomach attending fundraisers for legislators any more.  Many times I’ve watched representatives from Springfield come to Matteson, IL, fall all over themselves for their candidate, telling us why we should give a care for Rep. ‘Shroom, that we should give up weekends and week nights to campaign for Rep. ‘Shroom.

It’s time for reform.  Yes, it’s time for the ‘Shrooms, “futile fungi,” as Marin calls them, to rise up.  Illinois needs a Legislature full of legislators, not glorified Altar Boys and Girls serving the Magisterium.

Unless these ‘Shrooms are really only interested in re-election.  Then they deserve to wallow in s—, and we deserve the same for re-electing them.

Catholic Bishops to Confront Obama on Abortion

Obviously perplexed and upset at their demonstrable lack of influence during the presidential election, the one-issue United States Catholic Bishops are determined to confront President-elect Barack Obama on the issue of abortion.

Several bishops issued statements before the election expressing their belief that “Catholics could not in good conscience vote for a candidate who favored abortion rights after Obama pledged to pass legislation that would overturn state’s restrictions on abortion such as late-term abortion bans and requirements of parental consent,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

The problem, of course, is that the bishops, as a whole, view the abortion isolated from all other life issues, including, but not limited to, sex education, contraception, welfare, health care, etc.

Here’s the news from the Chicago Tribune:

In a direct challenge to President-elect Barack Obama, America’s Roman Catholic bishops vowed on Tuesday to accept no compromise for the sake of national unity until there is legal protection for the unborn.

About 300 bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their national meeting, adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and advised Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, president of the conference, as he began drafting a statement from the bishops to the incoming Obama administration. That document will call on the administration and Catholics who supported Obama to work to outlaw abortion.

This is going nowhere.  The bishops have a problem here. Obama won the Catholic vote.

From Zenit:

More than half of U.S. Catholics voted Tuesday for a presidential candidate at odds with the Church’s stance on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, despite the urging of more than 50 heads of dioceses to support pro-life candidates.

Brian Burch, co-founder and president of the Catholic-based think-tank Fidelis, spoke with ZENIT about the results of the election, and why he thinks a majority of Catholics voted for Democratic candidate Barack Obama, an admitted supportor of abortion rights.

The majority of Catholics get what the bishops are missing: life is bigger than one issue.

There was a time when the Catholic Church defined the beginning of life differently.  St. Augustine, for example, taught that human life began when an infant draws its first breath.  Augustine did not object to terminating a pregnancy.

Listen, I don’t favor abortion at all.  Frankly, I don’t know anyone who does.  No one wants to see unwanted pregnancies, and I know no one who actually wants to see more abortions.  But when the bishops insist that the only solution to life issues in this world is a law forbidding abortion, they are naive.

How do we build a society where there are fewer unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, and how do we support those who do become pregnant in these situations?  How do we create a world where there are fewer rapes, where there is less violence against women, where there is no incest?  Do we do this by passing laws that turn every pregnant woman and her doctor into criminals?

Absolutely not.  While that is an easy solution, it will not stop abortion, nor will it ensure that our society has “respect” for life.

The Catholic bishops have lived long without women in their lives.  This was not always the case.  There was a time when bishops and popes married happily and had families.

That was a long, long time ago, and they are out of touch on this one.