Last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he would be going on a trade mission to Illinois. The mission was to steal Illinois businesses and convince them to relocate their trade in the dream state of Texas. As a prelude to the visit, Perry narrated an ad that aired in Illinois and was aimed at Illinois businesses.
“This is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and I have a word of advice for employers frustrated by Illinois’ short-sighted approach to business. You need to get out while there’s still time,” the ad said.
For some reason, Gov. Pat Quinn took offense to this.
“We don’t need any advice from Gov. Perry,” Quinn said when asked about the ad.
“I know Rick Perry. He’s a big talker. I think people saw that in the presidential campaign,” Quinn also said.
Quinn wasn’t done.
“His state, frankly, is water-challenged,” Quinn said, adding the coup de grace: “Any company that’s thinking of going to Texas had better check on their water. We know how to do things, and we don’t particularly need Rick Perry’s advice.”
If he wasn’t already, Perry is probably off of Quinn’s Christmas card list.
Oddly, Perry didn’t mention one area where Texas unquestionably outdoes Illinois – armadillos.
Although they range beyond Texas, that state has so many of them that the armadillo is the official state small mammal. Illinois has no such designation.
Plus, armadillos have not mastered basic traffic safety, which means many of them end up as road kill.
So, if you have a hankering for highway-harvested possum on the half shell, Texas truly is your destination state.
Both the House and Senate for years have started floor sessions with a prayer, usually delivered by a visiting member of the clergy.
Mostly they are sort of bland affairs that don’t take specific positions on issues before the General Assembly. At best, they may make reference to, say, the state’s financial problems and ask that lawmakers be given wisdom in dealing with that.
That’s why the opening prayer in the House Friday caught some by surprise. It was delivered by Father Thomas Koys of St. Bartholomew parish in Chicago.
At first, it sounded like a standard opening prayer. And then …
“Help us all to see that the monies voluntarily given by the people are more suitable for building our hospitals, schools and bridges than monies obtained through involuntarily imposed, heavier and heavier taxes,” Koys prayed.
Huh? Build a bridge with charitable donations? Koys was just getting started.
“God, I ask you to strengthen especially those citizens who will suddenly become criminally liable for the simple act of standing up for the sacredness of the conjugal union of matrimony if certain proposed laws are passed,” Koys continued.
“Not because we are trying to force anyone to do something against their wills, but because the state would be forcing us to do something against our wills.”
Proponents of same-sex marriage can point to very clear language in their bill that precludes the situation Koys mentions. They’ll tell you no one is being forced to do anything against their beliefs.
Before delivering the prayer, clergy are given a letter in the House saying that court decisions require the prayer to be non-sectarian and not be used to proselytize. But the House doesn’t prohibit clergy from espousing specific positions on issues facing the General Assembly during the opening prayer.
However, it’s sort of hinted to lawmakers who invite the clergy that they should discourage that kind of prayer from their guests.
It pretty much never happens in either the House or the Senate out of deference to a “congregation” that includes different religious beliefs and a wide range of political beliefs. That’s why when it occurs, it’s so jarring.