Of the $50 million in political contributions from business, labor, professional, and issue interests to state candidates in 1999- 2000, $11 million came from the 20 largest contributors, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform’s “Sunshine Database” (http://ilcampaign.org/top20). The Illinois Education Association ($1.4 million) and the Illinois State Medical Society ($1 million) were the only seven-figure donors.

Great moments in public service. From the fall issue of “Woodstock Developments,” published by the Woodstock Institute: “Recently, on the one-year anniversary of the passage of Illinois’ predatory lending regulation, Woodstock and its colleagues issued a memo” on how the law was being enforced by the state Department of Financial Institutions and the Office of Banks and Real Estate. “The regulators were not aggressively examining the largest subprime lenders; did not have an appropriate fine structure to discipline violators; and were not releasing public information on examination schedules and results. Shortly after the memo’s release, Woodstock and other groups met with the regulators and discovered that they had finally fined a violating lender, whose name they would not release.”

Things you just can’t say if you want to stay in Congress. According to downstate Republican Paul Findley (www.rense.com/general29/lib.htm): “I was a member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in June 1967 when Israeli military forces took control of the Golan Heights, a part of Syria, as well as the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. I continued as a member for 16 years and to this day maintain a close watch on Congress. For 35 years, not a word has been expressed in that committee or in either chamber of Congress that deserves to be called debate on Middle East policy. No restrictive or limiting amendments on aid to Israel have been offered for 20 years, and none of the few offered in previous years received more than a handful of votes. On Capitol Hill, criticism of Israel, even in private conversation, is all but forbidden, treated as downright unpatriotic, if not anti-Semitic.”

The faraway professor. According to statistics compiled about the 1999-2000 school year by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO “Month in Review,” September 2002), “about one in every 13 postsecondary students enrolls in at least one distance [on-line] education course and the Department of Education estimates that the number of students involved in distance education has tripled in just 4 years.”

“Supposedly ‘arts-poor’ areas…still contain significant amounts of informal arts production,” write Alaka Wali, Rebecca Severson, and Mario Longoni in a May report to the Chicago Center for Arts Policy at Columbia College. “In the community area of Grand Boulevard, for example, statistically represented as one of the more ‘impoverished’ neighborhoods in Chicago (median household income was $7,907 in 1990, population has decreased by 22 percent between 1990-2000), where one of our case studies was located, there are 78 places of worship with choirs, arts programs and classes in the major park in the neighborhood, a creative writing program at the public library, a coffee house that hosts regular spoken word open microphone performances, and several service organizations that are either offering arts programs or promoting neighborhood artists.”

Department of sanctimonious hypocrites. Conservative WYLL radio host Kevin McCullough explained why conservatives shouldn’t defend Senator Trent Lott’s advocacy of segregation in his December 16 opinion column (www.illinoisleader.com): “Integrity is everything to the conservative movement. Honesty, morality, character all count.” Hence Lott’s segregationist statement “is morally unacceptable. For conservatives like Hannity or Limbaugh to give him a pass or to attack the opponents on other instances when liberals have been inconsistent in this very issue is also morally unacceptable.” Well said–but wait a minute. Were all these highly moral conservatives too busy patting themselves on the back to notice when Lott said the same thing in 1980? Or when he told the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 1984 that “the spirit of Jefferson Davis lives in the 1984 Republican platform”? Or when he repeatedly associated with a white-supremacist group in Mississippi during the 1990s?