Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beneath the Shadow of Lincoln



Governor Rod Blagojevich

This churlish thug with the Elvis hair has continued
the tradition of shameful hypocrisy and graft in government
in the once majestic State of Illinois.

I lived in Illinois for two years. Before I moved there,
I had envisioned the land of Lincoln, the breadbasket of
America, where good people were neighbors sharing
Christian values of family, patriotism and even where
the purest proletarian spirit embodied a type of
Utopia dreamt of by Karl Marx, where the opportunistic
Industrialists feared to tread. Nothing could have been
further from the reality of the 21st Century in Illinois.

While aesthetically, Illinois didn't disappoint me with it's
vast beauty, quaint farmhouses and overall small town virtues,
the state of the State was pitiful. Throughout Central
Illinois, surrounding the goodness of Lincoln's aura, a
depressing recession, the precursor of a vaster global
meltdown, was already consuming each little hamlet.
Mom and pop stores were boarded up, replaced by nationally
syndicated chain giants and their minimum wages for
the hapless masses, with limited options.

Even with the Walmarts and Burger Kings offering barely
survivable subsistence, the proportion of working and tax-paying
population, was rapidly being eclipsed by the welfare economy,
and cynical mentality of a corrupt nanny state.

In 2001, John and I went to the Illinois State Fair, in
Springfield, to see Bob Dylan, and experience a classic
tradition of the heartland. At an indoor cattle exhibit, we
encountered Governor Ryan, who was giving a cursory
speech extolling the agrarian creed of Illinois.

To my shock, John, (who had drank his weight in good
German beer), shouted out, "You're going to PRISON,
ya bum!" Ryan literally recoiled, and so did I, frankly,
taken aback by his bold hubris in a convivial environment.
John shrugged and said, "Well, he is going to prison."

Ryan was visibly shaken, and a wave of silence enveloped the
crowd, followed by a tittering, and the distinct impression
of a few claps. Someone in front of us turned around and gave
John a hearty thumb's up. John stood there, arms across
his chest, defiant and smiling, drinking in Ryan's
red-faced discomfort.

It's not often when we get to tell our corrupt masters
where they belong.

So, here we are seven years later, with Ryan serving
six years in prison, and the new Governor looking at
at least the same humiliation and punishment. To
say it's not more than a coincidence is to be hopelessly
naive. There's something rotten in the State of
Illinois, to coin a mighty phrase.

John loves and hates Illinois. He loves it for the right
reasons, being it's diverse and natural resources,
long stretches of idle space where the crowds of urban
jungles are distant, and the legacy of Abraham Lincoln,
sanctifies the land. His ancestors lived, raised families,
owned businesses, farmed and built lives on this land for
something like ten generations, and are buried in the land.
His roots run deep.

He hates it for it's corruption, underworld of welfare
witches, mobsters, crooks, drug dealers, pimps and hos,
and putridity of polluted air, where the relentless
wheels of industries turn pure corn, and soybeans, not
into food, needed to feed 1 billion starving people,
but, into toxic fumes, which permeate the air
with a stench that is closer to skunk than popcorn. The
natives say it's the smell of money, but, that rings
false. Only the Industrialists are rich. Everyone
else gets sick. When I worked in the hospital, I
saw the sickest sick people I have ever treated,
if that makes sense.

It has become a place where the working class is
poorer and more downtrodden than those on
government assistance, where teenage pregnancy
is pandemic, and the wheels are turning backwards,
hurling more decent people into the widening cauldron
of savages, gangsters and malingerers, while the rich
are richer than ever, and more corrupt than imaginable.

There aren't many major industrial plants or companies
planted between the corn fields, in this region in Central Illinois,
where CEO misconduct, ignominy and scandal haven't
reared their heads. Yet, nothing changes for the better,
and the greedy and wicked only close ranks and
replace their imprisoned predecessors, never altering
their mode of criminality in doing business and polluting
the land.

It seems like the sanguine Al Capone has forged a more
permanent legacy than the humble honest God-fearing,
Abraham Lincoln. It's a bizarre world where the wicked are
esteemed, and the honest farmer is not only struggling to survive,
but an anachronistic reminder of the origin of the American
dream of individual independence and hope. Just as crops
for food are passe', in lieu of being transformed into petroleum
replacements, so is honesty, decency, and hard work in pursuit
of independent prosperity and autonomy lost to a bygone
age when the air didn't burn the lungs to breathe.

John took me to Springfield one afternoon to see
the capital. I expected to visit the capital buildings,
and sights associated with it, but, instead was
driven to a remote cemetery up a winding path.
It seemed strange to devote time to visit such
a place, and even stranger when I stumbled
behind him climbing through this burial place
for people who meant nothing to me.

Finally we came to rows of plain graves dedicated
to the thousands of young lives lost in the Civil
War, and in particular the graves of the unknown
soldiers. As a history buff, it tweaked a chord of
emotion, but, that chord became an orchestra
when he turned me around to notice what was
casting a shadow upon us standing there by these

There was an unexpectedly huge memorial to
Abraham Lincoln, and his own grave, buried
along with the prosaic marker of the unknown soldier.

It was such a moving contrast, that I felt chills to
my bone marrow. Outside of witnessing
Golgotha facing Jerusalem, I can't imagine anything
stirring me as spiritually and emotionally as
the interned bones and memorial to one of
our country's greatest Presidents. To me,
Lincoln was more than just a great President.
My admiration of him was enduring from
childhood, having awe for him as a Christian
leader, an American patriot, the Emancipator,
and servant of God, in the tradition of Moses,

It's even more moving to consider how 146
years following the Emancipation Proclamation
we are about to inaugurate our nation's first
African-American President, also representing
the land of Lincoln. This event would embody
every last ounce of Lincoln's vision for America,
and I believe that Barak Obama has many
of Lincoln's virtuous qualities. He is color-blind
in choosing his cabinet, and already has worked
on uniting the nation for the common good,
after our country has been divided into factions
of ultra right and left wing detractors.

Under the shadow of Lincoln, Obama's place is
true. Yet, narcissistic, evil power-mongers
like the Governor, are more than a blight,
because he has tainted our newly elected leader
before he has a chance to take the oath of office,
heralding in a new era of hope for this divided

Beyond the repulsion to the dirty deeds
of corrupt men in power in Illinois, there is
a bitterness that good men are also tinged with
their stench, like the verdant country fields
in Central Illinois under the relentless smoke
stacks of greedy industry destroying the air.
The greater irony is that the air and people
are being sickened in pursuit of making
the ethanol fuels we are expected to
embrace as our salvation. More hypocrisy,
lies, and corruption from evil industrialists
following the greatest False Prophet of our age,
Al Gore.

All Obama can do is distance himself, but, it still
affects him, and his natural nemeses are already
drawing a nexus between him and the tradition
of corruption in Illinois State Government, on
every last level.

As far as I'm concerned, Blagojevich should be
taken out and shot as a traitor, but, we don't
do things like that anymore. Besides, the last
corrupt Governor abolished the Death Sentence
in Illinois.

And I don't think this is the end of what is
rotten in the State of Illinois.

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