Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Personal Asides

...Eric Zorn’s Blog with Predictable (But Not All of Them) Responses to My Obama Column…What Rudy and Conservatives Need to Do…To Kevin Phillips, the Founders Were Theocratic Sell-Outs…Excessive Patronage—40,000 Jobs in Chicago—Has Caused the Corruption…These Things and a King’s Last Words on a Scaffold.


Try as he might, Eric Zorn can’t kick the conventional liberal clichéd view patented sometime in the `60s when his mind was molded. In his “What in the World Has Happened to Tom Roeser?” on his oft-interesting blog, you will find his boiler-plate view and a host of sprightly readers’ independent comments. Go first to and thence to columnists, finally to Zorn. Encouragingly, some readers understood what I was getting at: an indictment of shallow liberal stereotypical thinking which makes them cry “rah-rah! Obama for President!” when he’s done nothing whatever early in his first term…


Not all thinkers frozen in clichés are liberals. Some conservatives cannot fathom how Rudy Giuliani could be a satisfactory candidate for president for conservatives. Try this: Giuliani simply changes to pro-life (he doesn’t need to amend his pro-gay stance since he eschews gay marriage) saying that when he saw first-hand on 9/11 the desolation surrounding the taking of innocent life, he was led to a profound reexamination. Great events have changed other men. Lincoln was changed from a kind of temporizer before the Civil War. If Rudy cannot change and is rooted to the old concepts, of course he must be passed-up. My point is that conservatives should pray for him, plead that this not happen and begin to powerfully persuade for change.

Conservatives need to understand that the Republican choice other than Giuliani is disturbingly mediocre. We cannot always count on the Democrats to continue to re-nominate dolts. If you think there’s something exceptionable about George Allen (whose only recognition is being the son of a dead football coach) you have allowed your partisanship, love for the GOP moniker and desperate hope for victory to overrule your judgment…


If you share my view of Judy Baar Topinka as decidedly the more liberal candidate in the race for governor, there should be some formal resolution among conservatives lest her tragic election close the two-party system for at least four years, solidify it as the second liberal party and bar future change. And please don’t bother reiterating the hoary idea that because liberals run the GOP establishment there can be no change…it’s entirely unconvincing (change happens all the time). Or that ASCME endorsed Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar. That is precisely the problem…


Not long after my view of Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy came the news that the apostate ex-conservative-turned left-wing radical was lecturing at Barnes and Noble stores in order to drum up sales. Fair enough. But he cannot continue to bank on the political illiteracy of liberals charmed by his renunciation of conservatism ala David Brock. Some liberals know more about history than Phillips can appreciate. For example, the man who says we are now in a theocracy has ignored the past which was far more supportive of religion linked with state than the case today. Historian Paul Johnson wrote earlier this month of some hideous examples in an article unrelated to Phillips.

Take the founder of Pennsylvania William Penn’s pronouncement in his “Preface to the Frame of Government of Pennsylvania (1682): “Government seems to be part of religion itself, a thing sacred in its institution and end…an emanation of the same divine power that is both author and object of pure religion.” Thus spake the founder of Pennsylvania, the setting for the Declaration of Independence!

George Washington in his first Inaugural, praying to “that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the council of nations” to bless his government, pointing out that he was “tendering this homage to the great Author of every public and private good” for “no people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States.” Thus the dark conspiracy of religiosity began. And Abraham Lincoln who relied “on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land” and who issued the Emancipation Proclamation by invoking “the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

The first awareness came from Tocqueville: “[I]n France, I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.” The father of the nation’s public school system, Horace Mann who believed that religious instruction should be undertaken in the schools if it were non-sectarian, ordering it be implemented “to the extremist urge to which it can be carried out without invading those rights of conscience which are established by the laws of God and guaranteed by the constitution of the state.”

The most dramatic statement was from President William McKinley which, I must admit, shocks even me. At the time of the Spanish-American war and the annexation of the Philippines, he told a gathering of fellow Methodists that “one night late it came to me this way….There was nothing left for us to do but to take them all and educate the Filipinos and uplift and civilize and Christianize them and by God’s grace do the very best we can by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.” Suppose somebody caught George W. Bush telling evangelicals something even remotely approaching that!

It is clear that Phillips and his ally Garry Wills (who has written the same stuff) have mounted a rage of exceptions, citing today’s routine events as excessive and ignoring history. That is the meaning of de-construction in history. Their deconstructionist games should not go unchallenged.

Excessive Patronage

When I entered federal public service as an assistant to the Secretary of Commerce in charge of minority business enterprise, I checked and found that I was part of a very selective company: about 3,000 or so appointees who were named in a political capacity by the President. At last check, the mayor of Chicago has 40,000 patronage jobs. Is it not strange that the president has so few and a mayor so many? The president gets by reasonably well with the 3,000 number and has to rely upon the federal service of career personnel. Somehow there has grown up the mythology that a modern city cannot be run without 40,000 patronage jobs. But this is not the early part of the 20th century where political jobs nurture a community; it should be a time when the civil service is improved. And yet I don’t hear many calls for reform of the excessive number of patronage jobs and the reform of civil service.

When I entered state service, as an assistant to a governor of Minnesota, I was told that the governor had about 300 so-called personal posts that carried with them the responsibility to implement his program for a state of more than 3 million. The remaining numbers of state employees were civil service. We managed to run the state of Minnesota with those 300 posts and succeeding governors have done the same. There has never been a call for more political jobs in Minnesota; never been a call for more political jobs for the president to name in the United States. Why then are the huge numbers of patronage jobs sacrosanct here?

And Finally, Who Said This?

The king mounted the scaffold, turned to the crowd and said these words. Who was he? Try not to Google (although I doubt that Google would help you here). Give us an educated guess.

“Now for to show you that I am a good Christian: I hope there is a good man that will bear me witness, that I have forgiven all the world; even those in particular that have been the chief causes of my death; who they are, God knows, I do not desire to know. I pray God forgive them. But this is not all: my charity must go farther. I wish that they may repent, for indeed they have committed a greater sin in that particular. I pray God with Saint Stephen that they may take the right way to the peace of the kingdom. For my charity commands me not only to forgive particular men but my charity commands me to endeavor to the last gasp, the peace of the kingdom.”


  1. The King on the scaffold was King Charles I of England, the second Stuart monarch and grandson of Mary Queen of Scots. He was beheaded (1641?)in after trial upon the victory of Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarian party over the Royalists in the English Civil war. The King may have forgiven his executioners, but upon the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, all of the prosecutors and jurors in the King's trial were condemned, and several emigrated to the American colonies to evade execution by the British authorities.

    Submitted without search-engine assistance.

  2. Tom-

    My Google-free guess is Charles I of England. You said scaffold, but I thought king's were beheaded, never hung?

    P.S. You never thanked me for tearfully reminding you of Johnnie Ray's name

  3. regardless of whether you want to acknowledge it or not.

    Think about it--Second Amendment, Joe Birkett, partial birth abortion ban, parental consent, etc., she's even to the right of Jim Edgar.

    She makes Peter Fitzgerald look like a liberal on guns.

    Your speculation, conjecture and wishful thinking about secret future income tax increases does not substitute for reason or argument.

    Tom, don't be so blatantly for Blagojevich--we may need to pass a formal resolution about your support for Rod.

  4. Lovie's LeatherJune 21, 2006 at 10:21 AM

    Tom, you are extremely disloyal. Topinka didn't endorse Fitzgerald.... And now you won't endorse Topinka.... You are just as bad as her. I am extremely confused about what you have become, Tom.

  5. Tom,

    You were a bit extreme in the language you used to describe why Obama was popular with so many in the press. You shouldn't be surprised when people then take you the wrong way.

    Stick to your guns on Topinka. She's a Republican in name only. Her real party is the combine which has run Illinois for their profit for decades now.

    Regarding the founders and religion, it may surprise you to find that even though many of the founders were religious that they were not Christians in the sense understood today by the religious right. Furthermore, there was a strong opposition even back then among them to the entanglement of church and state. Yes, Washington and Lincoln did make proclamations invoking God, but Jefferson refused to do so. I've seen with my own eyes the New Testament that was cut up by Jefferson to remove all references to the miraculous.