Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Personal Asides: Responding to Readers of This Blog—About “Flashbacks”…The Tribune…Rudy Giuliani…George Mikan…Garrison Keillor…Pope Leo XIII. And a Pop Quiz.

To all of you: thanks for taking the time to write and give all of us the benefit of your thinking about the issues covered on this Blog. David P. Graf takes issue with the fact that the Tribune’s main problem is its eschewing of conservatism: “The Tribune is in the mess it is because management’s plans didn’t quite work out.” He says the WB’s merger with its television stations was “less than a success and all papers, not just the Tribune have been whacked by the decline in advertising and hence revenue. Plus, the Tribune lost in the courts on its plans for media expansion and that put it back to square one. I just feel bad for the regular people and reporters who work there. It’s not going to be easy watching what’s going to be happening to them as the Tribune goes through the breakup process.”

Bob in PF takes issue with my slugging Garrison Keillor as a regular Op Ed columnist: “Take another look at that photo of Keillor on your site, Tom. Do you recognize genius? In the 70s—when I’m guessing that TV network’s domination of media audience was at a high, this struggling writer didn’t have to look in the mirror to follow his instincts to radio and he had the stuff to become a top earner in, of all things, public radio while adding rocket fuel to his career. You’ve written about the need for a conservative paper in the market and its prospects. You ignore that within the lifetimes of your grandchildren, the growth of big city newspapers will be grotesquely stunted. Those financing these papers must see it, too, and are seeking ways to make more revenue with their internet editions. Content aside, if the owners of these papers don’t harness the brains and instincts of Keillor, their audience will be shrinking. I offer only one solution to declining revenue and reqadership beyond increasing revenue from advertisers and readers of internet editions. Take a tip from Keillor. Solicit donations from your audience. Participate in fund drives.”

Also on the Tribune. One more from Bob in PF: “Tom, I frequently enjoy and am sometimes disappointed by all these Tribune columnists that you mention. But one of the main reasons I re-subscribed to the Tribune after a hiatus of several years is I like reading about the winning ways of the White Sox in the Cubs’ paper.”

On George Mikan, the great basketballer and failed candidate for Congress from John Powers: “Tom, George Mikan came out of that basketball powerhouse, Quigley Prep and brought us Ray Meyer, Andrew Greeley, Cardinal Egan and Mike McKaskey”… On my star-struck review of Rudy Giuliani. Lovie’s Leather: I have liked Rudy Giuliani. Although I don’t really care for his stance on social issues, he seems to have accomplished a good agenda for NYC. He probably wouldn’t be my first choice for president, but 2008 is still far off.. We’ll see.” D. Thomas [about Guiliani): “This guy is to the left of Topinka and yet you vehemently shun her and ogle over Giuliani. Come on, Tom, get real.”

More on Giuliani from Leon Dixon: “Rudy’s baggage train is so long that duh media would spend endless hours sorting through it all. I don’t believe Mr. McCain was a hero. He was a POW in contrast with draft dodgers like Bill Clinton or Howard Dean. A uniform is preferred even if, ala Dan Quayle or GWB, it was a National Guard uniform.” T. R.: “Take the good with the bad, Tom. While Giuliani isn’t a perfect Republican, he has leadership qualities that the Commander-in-Chief must possess. Much like Hillary, McCain swings back and forth depending on who he should appease on any given day.”

Lot on Barack Obama whom I said is popular with white liberals because he looks like the perfectly acceptable black man they wouldn’t mind their daughter marrying: kind of like Sidney Poitier, unlike a youngish version of John Stroger—a statement that got some mad and calling me a racist. I’m not, just focusing on the white liberals’ habit of selecting “acceptable” black leadership to whites. Angered was Charlie Ramp who wrote: “The idea that Barack Obama is popular because he is `a mulatto’ is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard. I sincerely hope the statement is some sort of political satire that has gone over my head and I don’t have to conclude it’s racist tripe. First, it’s flat wrong. Obama doesn’t look white. There’s no way he could be mistaken for a white man. Second, of all the factors involved in political popularity, why on earth would you focus on race and not the fact that he’s handsome? Or the fact that he hs no real record so voters can largely project their own views on this blank slate?”

Taking a neutral position is Mike Fiasco who says if Barack is popular perhaps it’s not that he’s only part black at all but is half black and “raised by his white mother in a white culture. If it feels racist only to reflect on his black heritage, doesn’t his white heritage also make him great?” Interesting.

On the gentle reproof I gave Mary Schmich of the Tribune by implying she’s boring, David P. Graf writes: “Did you read Schmich’s series on Cabrini Green? Maybe Zorn isn’t your cup of trea but he’s no dummy either. Why so free with the slams? And, Tom, you are selling Obama way short… look far more like a White Guy than he does (which isn’t surprising) but Obama is a breath of fresh air in politics. I’d like to think that he and Reagan could’ve been good friends if not ideological soulmates. Could you say the same of Reagan and other Dems like Pelosi?”…Greg Blankenship adds that Obama is presidential timber all right because he “did have the gall to state on the Senate floor in a debate on whether voters should show an ID before voting that the reason such measures were unnecessary was because there is no vote fraud in the U. S.” And Bob in P.F. feels that Barack made stronger comments against the Iraq War when he was running than he does as a Senator today.

On my criticism of the Tribune, from Patrick McDonough: “I really enjoyed this article. While I agree with much of what you wrote, I think the editorial staff tones down some of the staff writers oat the Tribune. Tribune staff writers such as Gary Washburne, Laurie Cohen, Todd Lighty and Mihalopoulos have powerful knowledge of events but might not be allowed to write how they feel because the paper might be scared of lawsuits. Fran Spielman has excellent sources and she seems to be trusted to write as she wants. I do not think the Sun-Times interferes with her. I also think the Chicago newspapers have come a long way in not blindly accepting the Daley administration spin. Also go to my web-site where we honor you. www.chicagoclout.com Thanks, Patrick.

On Flashback featuring Augie Andresen. Bob in PF: “Tom, no regrets about it but I just spent close to $30 on Jonathan Alter’s `The Defining Moment’ about FDR but am enjoying your memoirs here just as much—maybe more since they’re free—as Alter describes Roosevelt’s rise and the first 100 days…By the way, are you familiar with Leo XIII’s encyclical? Alter had a brief mention of it: `[New York Governor FDR’s] secretary of state in Albany, Ed Flynn, an educated man who was more than just the boss of the Bronx, began a series of conversations with FDR about Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical which shocked the world with its insistence on the natural rights of workers to form unions and receive a just wage. Soon FDR’s speeches began to strike these more liberal notes, quite [opposite to the] reigning conservative orthodoxy of the Democratic party. Think that encyclical would go over big with NAFTA supporters or all of us enjoying [cheap products made by exploited workers living] in the dorms subsidized by Wal-Mart and others’ overseas contractors and subcontractors?”

Your thoughts are welcome, even when they carry a zing! To Bob in PF: One can’t be a Catholic as old as I am without having been exposed to Leo XIII’s encyclicals. No one could graduate from St. John’s in Minnesota, the heavily pro-Democratic Benedictine place where I was an undergraduate, without knowing Leo backward and forward. Gene McCarthy ran all his races on the philosophy of Leo. Leo, who reigned from 1878 to 1903, was the oldest pope, dying with full faculties at age 93, wrote Rerum Novarum in 1891 supporting democracy, the just wage and the right of unions to organize but also condemning socialism and Communism. Leo decided to make accord with liberalism which was everywhere ascendant, making a clear division between his predecessor Pius IX, insisting the intellectual battle could be won and the faith would triumph in the end. I know you’re an opponent of NAFTA but I can’t tell you what Leo would think since trade was not very expansive in those days.

It’s anyone’s guess where he’d be on free trade. On one hand Leo favored workers rights, laying down the law to business to be just. On the other hand, he favored economic reform that would help small business and farmers whom he realized would be allies against the radical left. I suppose if we brought Leo back here and had him read the eloquent tracts you write, he’d agree because workers were the big thing with him.

Pop Quiz: Who was the singer—before Elvis’ hey-day—who performed, leaning over backwards as if he was in great pain, singing “Cry!” and “The Listen White Cloud that Cried”? I’m sure Frank Nofzinger will know. His name was Johnny something. I can’t remember his name myself.

I know no one who reads this Blog cheats, Frank and wouldn’t think of going to Google. Would you?


  1. I believe his name was Johnny Ray-

    This is a certified Google-free entry!

  2. http://www.washtimes.com/national/20060613-013549-5514r.htm

    "We did not enjoy the situation or appreciate the problem that created the vacancy, but let me say quite clearly, what is obvious in the last few months is the greatest scandal in America is not that one man broke the law but that 12 million illegal immigrants are in this country and Washington isn't doing enough about it," Mr. Bilbray told his colleagues on the House floor.
    Mr. Bilbray noted that 18 politicians made bids for the seat, giving voters a broad choice for whom they wanted to represent them after Cunningham's political demise.
    "There was one issue and only one issue that allowed me to be elected," Mr. Bilbray said. "It was not my experience, it was not my hard work, and God knows it wasn't my intellect. It was the fact the people in the 50th District wanted something done, they wanted a job and a message sent to Washington that now and here is the time to address illegal immigration."

  3. John Thomas Mc GeeanJune 17, 2006 at 6:34 AM

    Tom: It was Johnny Ray. I think I was about 12 years old when these songs came out. I remember seeing him on the "Ed Sullivan Show" which in those days was called "Toast of the Town" and was sponsored by Lincoln and Mercury dealers. In any event Ed had Johnny Ray on one night and Johnny took of his hearing aid to sing. I conclued he did't want to hear himself sing and neither did I.
    On Pope Leo XIII, he was a great one! He was 68 when elected and of frail health. The Cardinals didn't want a long Pontificate after the 32 year Pontificate of Blessed Pius IX. So they chose this guy Pecci, figuring it would be a short pontificate. The Papacy agreed with him since he lived to be 93. I believe he spoke 12 langauges fluently. At ninty someone told him "Your Holiness, you look wonderful." Pope Leo responded: Why do you put limits on Divine Providence?