Vote for me and I’ll do what the Pope says. That’s apparently how some Catholic church authorities expect politicians of their faith to campaign, judging from a U.S. Catholic report (April). A January 16 Vatican document, “Doctrinal Note of Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life,” calls on all Catholics “to respect and protect the rights of the human embryo, safeguard the family, protect children, oppose attempts to legally equate cohabitation or homosexual unions with marriage, promote religious freedom, work against ‘modern forms of slavery’ including drug addiction and prostitution, work for economic justice, and promote peace.” A few days later Bishop William Weigand of Sacramento told California governor Gray Davis that he should quit taking communion until he starts using his office to block abortion rights.

Quick! Someone get us a new poet! From the new book by Cornell planning professor Matthew Drennan, The Information Economy and American Cities: “The Chicago evoked by Carl Sandburg, ‘City of the Big Shoulders,’ has vanished. In its place is a city of sharp elbows in tailored suits.”

Percentage of eighth-grade history teachers who expect most of their students to know that the New Deal was FDR’s program to cure the Great Depression, according to a recent survey conducted by Christopher Barnes of the University of Connecticut and published by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research ( 27.

How badly did Illinois blow its budget? According to a survey at (February 11), in dollar terms Illinois’ budget shortfall over the next 18 months ($4.1 billion) is the fifth worst in the country, behind California ($34.6 billion), New York ($12 billion), Texas ($7.8 billion), and New Jersey ($5.7 billion). But as a percentage of the state’s budget, Illinois’ shortfall (11.3 percent) is only 22nd, tied with Virginia.

Bush league. According to a January 10 press release from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (, the number of environmental enforcement criminal cases referred from the EPA to the Department of Justice in 1998: 486. In 2001: 328.

Jumbo shrimp. Military music. Civil war. Justice Scalia. From a March 19 Associated Press report: “Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia banned broadcast media from an appearance Wednesday [at the City Club of Cleveland] where he will receive an award for supporting free speech.” The day before he’d told a John Carroll University audience, “The Constitution just sets minimums. Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires.”

Now we know why Illinois schools are so well funded. From a recent Illinois Campaign for Political Reform press release: “Breaking their own record by more than a million dollars, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) made over $3.14 million in contributions in the 2002 election cycle. The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), along with its largest local, the Chicago Teachers Union, gave more than $1.95 million.” They were the two largest contributors to Illinois politics in 2001-’02, according to candidate reports filed at the State Board of Elections.

Evidence that even free publications can be overpriced. From the advice pages of the spring issue of Illinois’ Divorce Magazine: “Q: I’m attracted to my lawyer. Is it OK for me to date or sleep with him? Should I wait until my divorce is final? A: The short answer to your question is ‘No.'” (The long answer makes clear that the short answers are no and yes, in that order.)