Panel, Earthquake Election

By Nancy Thorner – 

Jim Lakely, Director of Communications at The Heartland Institute, welcomed guests to the European Crystal Banquet, 519 W. Algonquin Rd., Arlington Heights, commenting that it was the kind of venue Donald Trump would appreciate being at.  A brief history followed of the move The Heartland Institute made in the summer 2015 to its headquarters at 39 Arlington Heights where freedom and liberty are respected, having been located in the corrupt City of Chicago prior to the move for 32 years.  Lakely further stated that The Heartland Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit, free-market think tank that doesn’t support political candidates.

With the introduction behind him, Mr. Lakely signaled the beginning of what he said would be an “amazing positive and happy program” which would delve into the “an earthquake of an election.”  In Lakely’s words:  “We are here tonight to talk about the earthquake of an election on Nov. 8th.”

Lakely invited each panelist one by one to join him on the stage, introducing each panel member until all four were lined up on stage.

Heartland’s All-Star Panel:

DAN PROFT, radio host at AM560, senior fellow at Illinois Policy Institute
KATHLEEN MURPHY, communication director at Illinois Opportunity Project
PATRICK HUGHES, co-founder of Illinois Opportunity ProjectJIM LAKELY (moderator), director of communications, The Heartland Institute

When seated on the stage, Jim Lakely proceeded to direct each question to a specific panel member, after which the other panels members were invited to jump in at will to add their thoughts.

Jim Lakely’s first question was directed to Dan Proft.  In doing so, Mr. Lakely referred to how Dennis Preager, a radio talk show host on WLS AM, spoke about the two presidential choices available to American voters.  It was a choice between two candidate.  On one door was Man Eating Lion.  On the other door was Maybe Man Eating Lion.  The people choose Trump, the Maybe Man Eating Lion.  In jest Lakely referred to Trump’s maim of hair.

Question 1:

Did American voters in the Midwest and Rust Belt just save the American experiment — dodge the bullet — from forces on the Left to save Western civilization?  

Dan Proft believes that we have, to some extent, halted the onslaught of the Left.  Proft, in a light-hearted way, questioned the nature of Lakely’s question:  “How did we go from low expectations to talking about saving Western civilization?”   Proft credited Victor David Hanson of National Reviewas recognizing early on Trump’s winning message, how the elites, wherever they may function in society, are worse than you think they are.  A plus is that Trump comes into office without owing the establishment anything.

Joe Walsh was quick to add his opinion about the Trump victory:  “This election was about the uprising of us, regular Americans, against a broken political establishment.  It had zero to do with the Republican Party.  It was against the elites.”  In agreement with Proft, Walsh doesn’t believe Trump owes the Republican Party a thing as an outsider.  Walsh spoke of going to Washington, D.C. with the same spirit of an outsider to serve in the House.

Patrick Hughes spoke about the Supreme Court and what a Hillary win would have meant had she been able to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Alito and possible other retirements.  Presently under attack is free speech, abortion rights, the 2nd amendment, etc.  With good, solid Supreme Court appointments our Constitutional principles can be reset, as justices now up in their 80’s, and who ascribe to a Living Constitution, choose retirement during a Trump presidency.

Dan Proft, ever the scholar, warned that the election of Trump was only the beginning, as elections are but the means to policy ends.  It was a big election for Trump.  Not even Trump could stop Trump.  He did try and couldn’t.  Proft was not charitable to House Speaker Ryan and other Republicans legislators who did nothing to help Trump.  As such, Republican legislators in both the House and Senate must have their feet held to the fire, for there will be policy fights. There must be no doubt that Trump is the new sheriff in town.

Joe Walsh likewise harbored strong feeling about holding Republican feet to the fire.  Paul Ryan was scorned by Joe in Ryan’s refusal to help Trump in his election bid, which held true of the Republican Party as a whole. It was because of Trump that Ryan could resume as speaker.  As Walsh warned:  “We won a battle, but the war continues. We still have a long way to go.”  As many conservatives realize, “We are losing the battle over American values.”  As Walsh related, “Had it not been for 12,000 votes in 3 states — Michigan, PA, and Wisconsin — Trump would have lost.”

Question 2:

It’s crazy out there.  What happening on the streets of America right now? 

Directed to Kathleen Murphy, Kathleen wasn’t about to blame the entire millennial generation.  Not all are protesting and not all are protestors.  Those who are are being fueled by the mainstream media, college professors, social media, etc.  Millennials came of age during this century’s Great Depression. They have not experienced market-made success, but instead see government as a way to improve life.  46% believe their future will not be as good as their parents.  Only 16% feel their lives will be better.  1/3 of Millennials live at home with their parents; only one in three are unemployed.  But the protestors are hypocrites.  All would have been fine had Hillary won, but anger attributed to shock over how people could possibly have voted for Trump has fueled the protestors. Trump, as president elect, is not acceptable to the protestors, and anyone who voted for Trump is labeled a racist.  It is, however, the protestors who are the intolerant ones.  For the protestors, Trump’s win gives them the license to disregard the rule of law and reality.  In regard to those who were shocked that women voted for Trump, Murphy had this to say, “Why would many women choose not to vote for a criminal?

Pat Hughes spoke about his16-year old daughter and how selecting a college is close at hand.  In light of what has been happening at colleges in the aftermath of Trump’s victory, more and more colleges have been crossed off by Hughes because they have given in to students who have seemingly been traumatized beyond the ability to function over the election of Trump.  The University of Michigan has brought in puppies for students to pet.   Hillsdale College was mentioned as an exception, but not all college-age students can attend Hillsdale.  Hughes predicted that the protestors will look back on this time in their lives and regret their actions.  Accordingly, Hughes believe the radicals of today will grow up.  Hughes is more worried about radical feminists   Noted was how difficult it is for a woman to be a conservative, and how they are shamed for being so.

Dan Proft spoke about what is happening to young people today in college situations and equated the problem to a “lack of self-awareness.”  Students believe they have a Constitutional right not to be offended and to be shielded from words that they do not wish to hear.  Such opinions must he recognized and combated.  In regard to Hillary, the firewall for Hillary’s win was supposed to be college educated women and Rust Belt states.  In the end Hillary only won 51% of women.

Joe Walsh chimed in to explain how a Trump victory was possible in what is a divided country.  Trump won because of 112,000 votes in three states.  Hillary couldn’t bring out the young, single women, or the blacks she needed in her camp to win; however, they are still out there.  Walsh admitted that he completely under estimated how bad a candidate Hillary was.  No one likes her, not even Bill!  She was an extremely flawed candidate.  This election was a wake-up call for Democrats.  Walsh believes such a mistake won’t happen again

Dan Proft, in expanding upon the comments by Walsh, reiterated how the Democratic Party has now become a Coastal Party and Illinois.  The election of Donald Trump ushered in a schismatic shift in power.  Republican now hold two-thirds of state legislative bodies, along with 33 state governorships.  Proft hopes that some of the good working state models will be adopted by Trump at the federal level.

Pat Hughes sees positive momentum going into 2020, if polices are enacted that provide positive results for the American people.  It is essential that we start now to build our coalition so the momentum is there in 2020 to continue and expand Republican control.

An article to follow will feature Question 3:  How important milestone was it by breaking the Democratic Super House majority.  Will it be more of the same or is there some chance for needed reforms to be enacted?  and Question 4:  What is the Alt-Right and should we be afraid of it?  

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


 How to rescue Illinois from being the worst state to the top tier of states in the nation seems to be an overwhelming and an almost impossible Herculean task to accomplish, given the political and financial issues which plague this state, but it can be done.

Such was tenor of the event sponsored by the Illinois Policy Institute, Reform: This way – Lessons from states that got it right, as five courageous leaders who championed bold changes in their own states were assembled at the Roiling Green Country Club in Arlington Heights on Tuesday evening, May 7th.  The event was moderated by WLS-AM radio host Dan Proft.

Each of the five panel members revealed the stories behind the strategic decisions made in each of their states on issues common to all, which resulted in transformative policy changes through which other states were emboldened to adopt the same strategies.


IPI - Heartland 004


Listed below are panel members and the issues upon which each took courageous actions to effect positive change in their states.  Might they also work here in Illinois?:

  • Michigan state Sen. Patrick Colbeck – Right to Work
  • Indiana state Rep. Robert Behning – school choice
  • Former Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist – pension reform
  • Former Wisconsin Assemblywoman Michelle Litjens – budget reform
  • Opportunity Ohio President Matt Mayer – competitive federalism

IPI - Heartland 003
Photos by Nancy Thorner


First up was Indiana state Sen. Robert Behning speaking about school choice.   As a prelude to Behning’s remarks, a short video was shown that displayed how children from a poor family in Merriville, Indiana, thrived when given a chance to exit from a failing public school. An initial question was proposed by moderator Dan Proft as to how Behning managed to get the different school choice entities to the same place?  The solution:  All worked together and made sure that whether school choice related to charter schools or school vouchers, Indiana would become a leader in eduction reform. Parents would further know that in both charter schools and in a voucher system neither zip codes or income disparages would make a difference in the type of education a child would receive. Competition as being a positive for education was explained using the auto industry as an example.  When auto imports became a established in this nation, all makers produced better cars than they had during the ten prior years, spurred on by a need to sell cars to consumers.

Next up was Michigan state Sen. Patrick Colbeck with his Right to Work story.  As a newly elected senator, Sen.Colbeck’s  #1 priority was to bring his 20 years of problem-solving experience to state government.  He prides himself on being a problem solver, not a politician. In his first year Sen. Colbeck led the passage of Right-To-Work legislation in the Senate to stop the exodus of jobs and people from Michigan that had occurred over the past decade and to encourage job growth.  Colbeck sold his “bill of goods” by changing “Right to Work” to “Freedom to Work.”  Freedom to Work resonated with rank and file union members, important for the positive reception of his message.  Then too, groups such as tea party conservatives throughout Michigan were able to outnumber the other side in their communications with the public.  Colbeck applauded two committed freshmen legislators for contributing in his success.  Both ran for office with the passage of Labor Freedom on their agenda.  Cobeck noted how companies when wishing to locate often ask if a state is a Right to Work state.  Right to Work states include South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Indiana.


IPI - Heartland 002

Former Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist spoke about pension reform.  Senator Liljenquist spoke of the fear that is manufactured about the inability of people to manage their own money, with the stock market being the riskiest of all.  What gave the impetus for reform and got everyone’s attention, as a non-partisan issue, was what happened in Utah in 2008.  Utah had to focus on reality, and reality is not negotiable.  A one year’s market loss led to a 10% loss in Utah’s General Fund.  Resolved was that such a financial loss could not be permitted to happen again.  Unions did not accept the idea of going to 401 K accounts. Spurred on and encouraged by Union leaders, union members got up in arms to protest. To quell the unrest Sen. Liljenquist wrote individuals letters to each protester thanking them for their service and what they did for their state, reminding them that what happened in 2008 could never be allowed to happen again and that changes had to be made. Liljenquist’s writing campaign separated good union members from union bosses with the result that in 2010 pension reform drove voters to the Republican Party.  Results of the reform:  Money was saved beyond wildest dreams and retiree pension commitments could be met.  Utah is #1 in financial management, while Illinois is #48.

The only woman on the panel, former Wisconsin Assemblywoman Michelle Litjens, highlighted Wisconsin’s contentious budget reform.  Although Assemblywoman Michelle Litjens served for only two years, electing not to run for re-election because she had children in high school, and further realized that she had managed to make a difference in her two years, was an arch supporter of Governor Scott Walker and as such was in the eye of the storm.  When elected to office in 2010 it was her goal to fix things.  In 2009 Democratic control had run the debt up to $3.6 billion.  Binding educational laws had to be changed.  Two billion dollars was saved by having teachers teach seven hours a day instead of only five.  Another change was that the most recent hire did not have to be laid off.  Still another change was that teachers would now have to pay some of their own health insurance and pension costs instead of the Wisconsin paying all.  At one time there were as many as 100,000 protestors outside and inside the Capitol building in Wisconsin, requiring that the staff wear jeans and plaid shirt to get inside to blend with the protestors.  But they did it, they succeeded, by keeping the mission focused.  Litjens did admit that the legislators should have done a better job of selling what they had to do up front.  It was also advantageous that Gov. Walker’s recall election took place one year and two months after success was had at the political level with budget reform. Assemblywoman Liljenquist likewise wrote letters to protesters, as did former Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist in dealing with his state’s pension reform.

The final panelist was Opportunity Ohio President Matt Mayer who discussed competitive federalism.  Besides being President at Opportunity Ohio, a free market think tank in Dublin, Ohio, Matt Mayer also speaks on national security issues as a visiting fellow at Heritage where he heads a project evaluating how each state has met the modern threat of terrorism.  Mr. Mayer second book, “Taxpayers Don’t Stand a Chance: Why Battleground Ohio Loses No Matter Who Wins (and What To Do About it), is an in-depth case study on the perennial election battleground state of Ohio, including a microanalysis of Ohio’s political landscape.  Stressed by Matt Mayer is that competition is what made America great.  If a state refuses to reform, it loses any competitive edge it may have had to a neighboring state.  Mayer believes states should serve as laboratories of competition, with competition happening on a large range of activities.  Mayer expressed a belief in Illinois, that Illinois can win again instead of being last where it should be first and first where it should be last.  Grassroots efforts are essential in effecting change.  Regarding Ohio, the state was unable to pass Right to Work, even with Republican governor John Kasich, because, unlike Wisconsin, Ohio foolishly included the police and firemen in its budget reform legislation.

A short question and answer period followed.  One question dealt with “What needs to changed first in Illinois before policy can change — Culture or Policy?  Some remarks included:  Policy alone can’t effect change.  We can’t be all mind and very little heart.  We must do a better job at story telling to get our message out.  We must sell the benefits are well as the product, i.e., such as the difference a charter school can make in the life of a child. Grass roots efforts and social media rank high in getting messages out that are not in step with the mainstream media.  Humans benefit from good policy, while they suffer when bad policy is enacted.

Johnathon Greenberg, Vice President of External Relations at the Illinois Policy Institute, gave the closing remarks.  Greenberg called the free enterprise system the greatest force in human history.  Noted was how change will only happen in Illinois when things become dark enough so change can no longer be avoided and when there are those in Illinois who have the courage to lead.

What CEO’s are saying about Illinois can be found at

Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 08:29 AM | Permalink


Thorner: Lake Forest teachers continue strike while paid $30k more than average

Published at Illinois Review on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2o12

As a resident of Lake Bluff and a taxpayer, part of my property taxes go to fund Lake Forest School District 115, where high school teachers are now on strike and can be seen picketing in front of their state-of-the-art Lake Forest High School facility along McKinley Road in Lake Forest. Teachers from other school districts joined the picket line on Monday, Sept. 17 to show their union solidarity.

My concern lies with how the board is handling replacements. I assumed that the board was hiring replacements last week when Lake Forest High School students had three days off from school.

Now it appears that school is in session today (9/17) but not with the usual class instruction. The board said they will be providing “quality offerings” and giving passports rather than simply attending their scheduled classes.

If District 115 does not hire replacement teachers, then it will have no choice but to cave, as it stands to reason that kids simply cannot keep missing normal instruction.  I hope the board is presently lining up teachers for jobs and that they are being hired.

News of the LFHS District 115 teacher strike was discussed at WLS-AM 890 yesterday morning (9/17) with Dan Proft and John Kass of the Tribune.  Kass was a substitute host at WLS-AM during the 9:00-11:00 a.m. time slot.

Charles Greiss, head of the LF teacher union was interviewed by Dan Proft during his 8:00 a.m. morning gig at WLS-890.  According to Charles Greiss, Lake Forest has plenty of money in reserve to pay teachers more.  Furthermore, since the board hired the teachers that are now on strike the district can afford to honor what the union is requesting.

When Dan asked if the teachers at LFHS are worth $30,000 more than what is the average high school teacher salary in IL, Charles Greiss, whose base salary was almost $150,000 during the 2011-2012 school year, would only say that he had come from business to teach at LFHS and how teachers at LFHS must be paid more so the very best teachers can be hired for our kids.

Lisa Black, a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, must be complimented for her excellent followup articles, in collaboration with other Tribune reporters, in covering the latest strike activity in the almost daily Tribune accounts.

The Chicago and the Lake Forest Teacher strike went national on Sunday (9/16) at the American Thinker, a prestigious website with Thomas Lifson as editor.  Now Lake Forest is know throughout this nation for the absurd nature of its strike. No longer is the Chicago strike taking all the wind out of the sails.  The Lake Forest situation now is getting the attention that it deserves.

The heat must be kept on for LF Board #115 to toe the line.  The powerful influence of the IEA (NEA) must be confronted for who it is or else education in the state of IL will remain controlled by an organization that has become too powerful — doing little to advance educational standards here in Illinois — with a platform that vehemently opposes school vouchers and home schooling.

Education should be in control of local school districts, not vested in the IEA, of which LFHS teachers are members.