Friday, June 29, 2007

Personal Asides: It’s Tom Cross and Russ Stewart on Sunday’s “Shootout”…Introduction of Cardinal George Last Night…More Nonsense from Christopher Hitchens on Atheism…Oregon’s Version of Catholic Citizens…Liberals’ Plans to Neuter Talk Radio.


Cross and Stewart.

House Republican leader Tom Cross (R- Oswego) will be paired with indomitable questioner Russ Stewart (attorney and Nadig newspaper political analyst) Sunday. This will be the first time relentless questions have been directed at the top GOP leader on his earlier proposal to do a one-month budget, the defection of Rep. Paul Froehlich (R-Schaumburg) to the Democrats, intra-party wrangling over Kirk Dillard’s Obama commercial praising the Democratic presidential candidate and other things. That’s this Sunday at 8 p.m. on WLS-AM (890).

George Introduction.

I introduced Francis Cardinal George to the Chicago Legatus chapter last night at the Park Ridge country club with these words:

“If you read the `Sun-Times’ this morning you know that in addition to having two doctorates and being able to speak four languages, our speaker conducted the Morman Tabernacle Choir last night at Ravinia, an unique exemplar of ecumenism. And ecumenism…the willingness of various faiths to get along while pursuing different means to save souls…is an essential part of our country’s heritage.

“It brings to mind Knute Rockne who, as you know, was born in Norway a Protestant, was reared in Logan Square, attended Notre Dame, played football, taught chemistry there, became a football coach and converted to the Catholic faith. And as history records when he took over direction of the team, the then small college racked up impressive wins. One of the most hotly fought contests was always between Notre Dame and Southern Methodist.

“After several years, word reached the president of Notre Dame, Fr. Cavanaugh, that in firing up his team, Rockne was applying religious fervor to the game, telling his young players to defeat those Methodists for the honor and glory of the Catholic church.

“Fr. Cavanaugh was appalled at the lack of ecumenism. He called Rockne in and said that the next time Notre Dame plays Southern Methodist which would be in South Bend, Notre Dame would sponsor a joint ecumenical dinner for players of both teams on the night before the game. The priest ordered Rockne to deliver the keynote which would stress religious unity—and in the keynote this sentence would have to be incorporated: `God doesn’t care who wins the game between Notre Dame and Southern Methodist.’

“Rockne grudgingly agreed. When the schedule for Notre Dame to meet Southern Methodist came round, the two teams and their supporters met for dinner the night before the game in the main dining hall of Notre Dame. Fr. Cavanaugh introduced both coaches and then asked Coach Rockne to give the keynote.

“Rockne meandered a bit saying that the purpose of football is to build good sportsmanship, to use athletics to beat down animosity, to fight hard but also be gentlemen. Then he uttered the words Fr. Cavanaugh gave him: `After all, God doesn’t care who wins the game between Notre Dame and Southern Methodist.’

“There was a murmur of approval and a light scattering of applause. Then Rockne added: `God doesn’t care who wins, but His Mother does!’

Thus it is with this spirit of ecumenism that I have the great honor and high privilege of presenting the Archbishop of Chicago, Francis Cardinal George!”

More Nonsense.

Several days ago I told you of my trip to Barnes & Noble and my browsing through a handbook of atheism by Christopher Hitchens entitled “God is Not Great.” I answered some of his more ridiculous assertions. Yesterday, on my next trip to Barnes & Noble, like a horsefly drawn to manure, I picked up the book again and leafed through it. Here’s one: “Religion does not have the confidence in its own various preachings, even to allow coexistence between different faiths.” I thought immediately of the hundreds of interdenominational prayer breakfasts and the frequent marches against abortion including the massive one conducted each January 22 in Washington, D. C. where tens of thousands of Christians, Protestants and Jews—including Buddhists for Life—walk and pray together.

Another: “It goes without saying that none of the gruesome, disordered events described in Exodus every took place…All five bo9oks of Moses are an ill-carpentered fiction.” But this blanket statement flies in the face of the most complete biblical history including studies conducted by Robert Wilson of Princeton who knew 26 ancient languages and dialects so that could read fragments from the ancient Near East. Wilson was impressed with the accuracy of the biblical accounts. Also he disregards the fact that while in the 19th century, scholars believed the Hittites did not exist nor rulers as Belshazzar of Babylon or Sargo of Assyria, archeologists have now found records of these civilizations.

Oregon Catholic Citizens.

Oregon Catholic Citizens, an organization modeled after our own Catholic Citizens of Illinois, is pressing Portland archbishop John Vlazny urging him to replace his lay chancellor, Mary Jo Tully on the grounds that Tully has indicated in phone calls and email messages that she does not uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church. The bill of particulars published in “The Wanderer,” the oldest national Catholic weekly in the country, is almost unassailable.

OCC is an effective arm of the Church Militant. But one thing that is heartening is that compared with Portland’s chancellor, Chicago’s (Jimmy Lago) is not at odds with Church teaching.

So you see, Jimmy, don’t say you can’t get a fair rap on this website.

Neutering Talk Radio.

There is little doubt that with the defeat of the Bush immigration bill which was eagerly supported by Ted Kennedy liberals, blame will be placed for supposed “bias” on talk radio. Our own homegrown Lefty diaper baby, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) has already prepared legislation in that regard. As a talk show host myself, I know that the preponderance of AM listeners prefer conservative flavor to the issues—although in presenting broadcast journalism on state and local issues, I strive to have both sides represented and the program is well received. But when I had longer than an hour…especially on Saturday mornings from 8 to noon…I pretty much ran the show myself with the exception of an hour.

One point is: perfect objectivity is almost impossible to present…and were it possible to do so, it would be ungodly boring. A second: in the full panoply of opinion presentation, the networks favor liberal issue formulation; public radio, as we all know, favors liberal formulation (despite the fact that it’s aided by public funds, which it shouldn’t be). Most large metropolitan newspapers favor liberal formulation. Glossy magazines, “Time,” “Newsweek” and “U. S. News” are liberal. Cable is mixed. Fox favors a mix but I think it’s fair to say it comes down often on the conservative side (exception: where Fox supported immigration reform). CNN has liberal formulation as do MSNBC, CNBC.

I remember some years ago when my radio employer tried to encourage liberal radio and hired several protagonists. They all bombed. The fault wasn’t with them but the heavy ballast of listeners wanted conservative views.

Anyhow the next big battle will be over trying to impose the misstated “Fairness Doctrine” on broadcast radio. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) used the elitist look-down-your-nose snobbery tactic yesterday by telling the Senate that “talk radio” is “simplistic.” That’s the common usage of the word when applied to conservative thought and rationale. I’ve listened to Daniel Schorr on Public Broadcasting for years and on CBS before that…beginning when he tried to blacken Goldwater as having ties to Nazi propagandists. That wasn’t simplistic. Oh no. Have you noticed that not only are conservatives “simplistic,” all Republican presidents have been. Dwight Eisenhower was a addled-minded inactive chairman of the board…until we found out in the “Hidden Hand Presidency” that he was extraordinarily active…JFK was a genius…LBJ was compassionate…Nixon was an ogre and also a simplistic racist...Ford was a doddering bumbler who couldn’t stand up without falling down…Carter was of course a mega-master of details stemming from his background as a nuclear engineer…wait a minute he wasn’t an engineer at all. Reagan was an amiable dunce. Bush was an amiable preppy…Clinton was a genius of politics…George W. Bush a dolt.

All tarred with the same brush of being simplistic. Talk radio is simplistic because it’s conservative. I may be wrong but I think I have the more comprehensive radio program on state and local topics than is afforded on public radio. Or am I just an egoist? Your comments?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Personal Asides: Henry Hyde at 83…the FDR Induction at the Museum of Broadcast Communications.



Drove to Geneva yesterday to have lunch with Henry Hyde. Though wheel-chair-bound, he is much the same gentleman he was as the patriarchal leader of social conservatives in the House. A longtime widower, he married the former Judy Wolverton, his longtime top Illinois staffer who was his faithful helper for more than thirty years. He told two marvelous stories and his views of contemporary politics are cogent, though not mine to tell.

His memoir, Catch the Flaming Flag, will be published by National Review soon after which he will undertake a speaking tour to publicize it. He has written it with the editorial assistance of George Weigel, the famed biographer of the late John Paul II. The book will convey pungent opinions on foreign policy, Iraq, abortion (of course), immigration and many other topics.

He goes to and from Washington fairly regularly. Not long from now he will be given a signal honor in the House by having a room in the Capitol named for him—a room where Congressmen can study, discuss and, it is hoped, supply the same kind of humor and good will that Henry did during his long years of service.


No one who reads this website can imagine that I am not interested in Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose three major top aides I interviewed during the years and about whom I have much to say in “Flashbacks”. Thus I am going to the event in early July inaugurating the 32nd president’s induction into the Hall of Fame of great communicators—an honor richly deserved.

Colorful he was, brilliant in forensic orchestration, but I am not prepared to say he was a great president. To my personal edification, Amity Shlaes of Chicago…a former member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal…had a vitally interesting Op Ed the other day. Amity Shlaes had every opportunity to go Left and be a good little follower of the Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. school of liberal hagiography. Schlesinger it was who deified FDR by his first two books on his life, describing brilliantly but inaccurately the fact that the Depression was caused by capitalism run riot, a view shared by one of the great literary men of letters who was albeit a terrible economist, John Kenneth Galbraith. Shlaes has written a new book which I mean to get: The Forgotten Man which says what I have been maintaining with less literary effect than she in this place—that excessive capitalism didn’t do it but the well-meaning but ham-handed interventionism of Herbert Hoover, tax hikes and tariff hikes did the country in.

As you read Shlaes, remember that what I have maintained in the last paragraph is true. Born to liberal parents, a brilliant kid, who went to the U of C lab school where Marxism was inculcated early…thence to a liberal education at the U of C, she was destined to be a child of the Left. That she is a duenna of the economic…though not social…right is stunning.

Debates on FDR’s worth have consumed most of my seventy-eight years, starting with my father who, while shaving, instructed me on what Amity is maintaining now…and continuing through long periods with Hubert Humphrey and Gene McCarthy and some very liberal Republicans, counterbalanced by conservatives such as Walter Judd…then assailed by good and eloquent people like Jim Farley and Rexford Tugwell and Tommy the Cork.

One of the most ferocious debates about FDR would consist of my jousting with a very fine gentleman when we both belonged to the Cliff Dwellers Club. I am in the habit of wishing to digest my meals without someone telling me I am out-of-date, prejudiced, hopelessly conservative, archaic, outmoded…and at Cliff Dwellers you had no choice but to share a table with those who wished to propound liberal ideology while I sipped my soup. Because it was wreaking havoc with my digestion, I decided to leave the Cliff Dwellers…coincident with the illness and death of John McDermott, its president…and retreat to calmer surroundings. But there was one last debate.

This again I lost because I was too agitated while munching my chicken salad to adequately respond to my adversary. But that was long ago. And since then he may well have come to his senses—although not from any convincing I meted out to him. He maintained simply that Franklin Roosevelt was a distant relative of Jesus Christ…and there it shall be.

We let it rest there. I wonder what he thinks now.

His name was Jared Shlaes. Amity’s distinguished father.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Personal Asides: No Big Deal About Either Froehlich or Dillard…The Sad Death of Common Sense…Paul Potts…Christopher Hitchens.


No Big Deal.

Republicans have much more to worry about than fuming about Paul Froehlich who moved his tent from Republican to the Democratic side of the House…or State Sen. Kirk Dillard who seems compelled to praise Barack Obama on the basis of having worked satisfactorily with him in the legislature.

Froehlich appears to have been in an untenable political situation…alternately worrying about primary opposition from conservatives and, if re-nominated, having to face a tough Democratic candidate in a district which has been turning Democratic. Not gifted with many political skills, he decided to switch parties and avoid at least one fight anyhow. For one born without much philosophical ballast, it’s understandable.

There’s a kind of aura about Obama in exurbia where country clubbers pursue narcissism…where they support trendy candidates for what luster the candidates bring to them rather than what they really feel on the issues. When you’re sipping Chardonnay it’s something of a status symbol to say…fluttering your eyelashes to indicate you’re an intellectual…that, “I really do want to see Barack elected—because he gives me hope.” That’s all you have to say and some of your fellow country-clubbers will think you are, oh, so deep, so feeling, so above the pettiness and grubby business of politics. Kirk Dillard knows better but his base consists of lots of people like that—so he talks fondly of how nice Barack has been to work with. Harmless, really…even when he does a commercial about it.

If it strikes you as phony, so is all politics…all the players I have met in more than 50 years have been replete with contradictions… so shut up and make the best of it.

Death of Common Sense: (1) Southwick.

Contributor Frank Nofsinger has sent me an excellent piece called “the death of common sense” which I will relay to you one day. In the meantime, I have culled these two examples of its death—and see if you agree.

The Democrats get themselves so tied in knots trying to pursue their radical pro-homosexual agenda in order to please their base, that they are more to be pitied than condemned. Take the case of Leslie H. Southwick, appointed by President Bush to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. A meticulous attorney and superb jurist, his nomination is being held up by the ten-member Democratic majority on Senate Judiciary because…guess?

His “homophobic” beliefs. Southwick served as deputy assistant attorney general at Justice and as a member of the Mississippi court of appeals from 1995 until 2004 when he deployed to Iraq with the state’s National Guard’s 155th brigade combat team. But he falls short of political correctness with two cases for which he was intensively grilled by the Democrats at his confirmation hearings.

In one, Justice Southwick voted to uphold a ruling awarding custody of a young girl to her father instead of her bisexual mother in a decision where he actually referred to…gasp!...”the homosexual lifestyle!” Everybody knows there’s no such thing as a homosexual lifestyle; everybody knows it’s a phrase of derogation. Look at the Gay Pride parade and you will see they behaved just like anyone else on that occasion. That’s one count against him with the Democrats. The second has to do with a ruling Southwick made agreeing with the majority in which the court ruled that a white social worker, accused of uttering a racial slur against a co—worker, citing that while the slur was “demeaning” he agreed with the Employee Appeals Board’s decision that use of the term “had not sufficiently affected the workplace” to warrant her dismissal.

Because he had not acted in accordance with political correctness on these two issues, the Democrats are refusing to allow him to get an up-or-down vote.

Death of Common Sense: (2) Medical Board.

A North Carolina jury has sentenced Allen Holman to death for chasing his estranged wife while driving a car at high speed and ramming her from behind in full view of a police officer. A jury sentenced him to death in 1998; he dropped his appeals, fired his lawyers and has repeatedly asked the state to impose his death sentence.

But a Wake county (N. C. ) judge has delayed his execution. Why? The state requires a doctor to be in attendance to certify that the criminal is really dead and to sign some forms. But the state medical board says it will censure any physician who does so because a doctor’s participation in capital punishment is “unethical.” North Carolina is one of 13 states where the death penalty is on hold because judges cite concerns that inmates could endure extreme pain if lethal injections are administered improperly. Then, too, the AMA’s code of ethics points out that it is unethical for a physician to participate in an execution—and “participation” includes everything from administering the injection (well, I can understand this at any rate) to monitoring vital signs (here I cannot).

Here you who know me as a pro-lifer have guessed it. Of course the AMA or the North Carolina state medical board has no qualms about doctors participating in abortions.

Paul Potts.

I don’t know if you saw it the other night but a snatch was played on one of the networks from the Great Britain singing show, “Britain’s Got Talent.” It’s more than a takeoff on “The American Idol” but vaguely reminiscent of the old gong show, i.e. it’s entirely possible that somebody can walk out on the stage and stink up the joint. Anyhow, the experts were ready to laugh the next candidate off the stage when he walked out. Name: Paul Potts. Occupation: a South Wales mobile phone salesman. Potts looked like Jackie Gleason’s takeoff of “the poor soul.” Ill-fitting suit, terrible haircut, lumpy figure. Then he swung into “Nessun Dorma” and the audience including Britain’s top critic Simon Cowell (also of “Idol”) leapt to its feet at his conclusion. You can watch it again on YouTube.

Christopher Hitchens.

The other day after my friend John Powers and I finished coffee at the Corner Bakery at Old Orchard, we took a turn into Barnes & Noble. John went one way, I another. I spent a good hour and a half there browsing through Christopher Hitchens’ “God is Not Great”—a defense of his atheism. Of course is received a rave review from liberal critics including “The New York Times” but just a few instances convinced me that it is the most insufferable hyperbolic bunch of crap I ever read. Herewith:

o Religion produces a “maximum of servility.” Of course, just as Abraham, Moses and Job exhibited when they argued with God.

When I was young I imagined I could debate with God on some things. He was a very fair debater, allowed me time to make my points and meticulously observed the rules. And He has forgiven me all my sins. I am sensitive to His omnipotence but I don’t think I am servile to some of His bishops. (Perhaps I should be.)

o “No statistic will ever find that without [religious] blandishments and threats, [atheists] commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful.” But statistics with which I am familiar show that those who find God…particularly those in addiction…have much lower recidivism than others.

o Religion “does not have the confidence in its own various preachings even to allow coexistence with different faiths.” Graphically insupportable as the frequent collaboration between Christians and Jews will show. Of those who believe in Islam I am not so sure.

o “The nineteen suicide murders of New York, Washington and Pennsylvania were beyond any doubt the most sincere believers on those planes.” Again, dramatically insupportable. Todd Beamer, a young graduate of my own school, St. John’s in Minnesota organized the counterattack with the phrase “let’s roll.”

So as you surmised, I didn’t buy the book.

Flashback: The Luncheon with Tommy the Cork Shows the Initial FDR Loyalist and Also the Conservative Disloyalist Blocking the Democrats at Every Turn.


[Fifty plus years of politics written as a memoir for my kids and grandchildren].

Thanks to Walter Judd’s setting us up for lunch in 1975, I met and spent an hour or two with Thomas (Tommy the Cork) Corcoran at the Madison hotel’s Montpelier Room. He was instantly likeable to me because of several factors. First, he was an Irish Catholic Democrat as was my mother and shared with her a number of her presuppositions about the high and mighty Protestant-dominated establishment of her—and Tommy’s—time. Second, he was an instinctive liberal about the power of huge corporations, similar to her pioneering Democratic party view.

Third, he was a risk taker and exuberantly irreverent which appeals to me. Fourth, he had become a heavily conservative Republican on foreign policy so closely resembled to my own father that it was uncanny. Fifth, he was a dedicated son of the Catholic church with an inbred sense of Thomistic philosophy and Augustinian theology similar to my own. Sixth—and last—he had a great confident sense of fatalism similar to my own: that despite all the imperfections of the human spirit if one tries—really tries—to achieve through political activism what the Church instructs as good you shouldn’t worry too much when the Great Tavern Keeper raps his knuckles on the bar, rattles His keys and says, “gentlemen, it’s closing time!”

We got off to the right start at once with cocktails where he observed that he was in the Oval Office when multi-billionaire Andrew Mellon, Harding, Coolidge’s and Hoover’s treasury secretary, came invited at the behest of FDR. Mellon was in the throes of a comprehensive probe by the IRS which could, had it been successful, impoverished him and sent him to jail.

This trial for the man who single-handedly convinced Harding and Coolidge to spur the economy with tax cuts which produced untold prosperity for the American people (although Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. had propagated the myth that the good old days of the 20s had produced the Depression, a base canard)…this for the hero of the postwar economy! Roosevelt had initiated the IRS inquisition out of pique because Mellon had been so effective a financier of Republican fortunes. But now that Mellon had donated many hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art treasures to the Mellon Art Gallery (later to become the National Gallery), Roosevelt felt somewhat constrained to thank him.

The spry little financier was very polite to Roosevelt, said Corcoran, probably not fully appreciating that the inquisition was launched at Roosevelt’s own imperious command. Watching the two, Corcoran was astounded at the shameless charm that Roosevelt showed to the ill, old man who was in agony as result of the probe Roosevelt himself had launched. Mellon was astonished at the probe since he had paid several millions of dollars in income tax. All the while, “Roosevelt was about as kind and servile as it was possible to be,” he told me.

“I was astounded at the duplicity. Talk about an adder coiled to spring under the linen napkin overhanging a lunch basket. Roosevelt thought I would hugely appreciate it knowing as I did that he had initiated the IRS investigation and still was as charming as a serpent. I appreciated it but was appalled, almost sickened. Then I discovered that Roosevelt had managed to pay about $31.31 on a then handsome salary of $25,000, a feat accomplished by the cooperation of many Treasury accountants who had to go through hoops to justify…all the while loving the sight of this billionaire facing jail despite his philanthropy—special benefits for one who felt he was the Czar of the United States. Then later to know that Mellon died shortly before knowing that all the IRS could do couldn’t bring him down.”

After that things got interesting. He certified one item of local Chicago interest. He accompanied FDR to Chicago in 1937 to dedicate the Outer Drive bridge where the president unfurled his “quarantine the aggressors” slogan which anticipated his position on entry into the Second World War…a speech Corcoran was not fond of. After the talk they both went to see George Cardinal Mundelein at the mansion, 1555 N. State Parkway. Mundelein and Roosevelt were very close because Mundelein, a German-American, had shared FDR’s view that Hitler’s aggression should be stopped—and Mundelein had made a nationwide radio speech, amazing for a prelate of the Church, calling Hitler “that little paperhanger.” (Mundelein was instrumental in convincing the Detroit archbishop Mooney to silence Fr. Charles E. Coughlin as a favor to Roosevelt.)

One item that was important in Roosevelt’s mind at the meeting was how he could set up diplomatic relations with the Vatican which he sorely wanted while at the same time not alienate the anti-Catholic lobby which feared special concessions to Rome. Corcoran was intrigued at how Mundelein absorbed Roosevelt’s political problem, to pacify Catholic haters and still get the job done. Mundelein turned not a hair as Roosevelt outlined how he had to keep the virulent anti-Catholic south in line and still get the job done. Corcoran marveled that here were to dispassionate men of the world, accepting reality as it was and not pausing for a second to acknowledge the wrongness of the bigotry. They didn’t settle the issue at that time but Roosevelt said that Corcoran would be coming to Chicago surreptitiously to meet with Mundelein and get his ideas.

One thing leading to another and then as I have related elsewhere, Corcoran didn’t get back to Mundelein and the assignment until a year and a half later in 1939 when the war was on and Roosevelt pushed him to do so. Even then he went to great lengths to disguise his trip, saying that he had to take time off from the White House staff, then traveling to Chicago incognito. He met a few seminarians who picked him up at the Union Station and drove him over many miles of bumpy, rural roads to St. Mary of the Lake seminary in the former Area, Illinois, now re-designated Mundelein, Illinois. He spent the evening there, had dinner with the prelate and marveled that Mundelein seemed to fit the bill of an old Renaissance cardinal, suffused with political cannyness and wisdom, sophisticated as it is possible to be.

Mundelein told Corcoran over drinks that he had given the problem a lot of thought. He made a superbly political recommendation, worthy of the great master at legerdemain, Roosevelt himself. The recommendation: have no ambassador; don’t undergo the turmoil of naming him and trying to get him confirmed by the Senate which would give the anti-Catholics a forum. Instead, name an emissary to Rome—a wealthy person who would undertake the mission but not as an ambassador. Mundelein even recommended whom it should be. First, it should be a Protestant and no one familiar with the Church.

Second, it should be one in whom they could all have confidence—both Roosevelt and the Church. That person could be Myron C. Taylor, retired chairman of U. S. Steel. Taylor was not only a Protestant but a Freemason. Corcoran was delighted with the suggestion—worthy of Cardinal Richelieu himself. (Roosevelt did in fact name Taylor to the post who stayed as the eyes and ears of the U. S. throughout World War II).

That issue concluded, they had a sumptuous dinner and then Mundelein took him for a brief walk around the grounds. They entered the chapel. Mundelein turned on the lights; they both knelt before the altar and said a prayer. Then Mundelein pointed out softly that his plan was to be entombed in that chapel—in the altar. Mundelein was quite a rotund fellow and it occurred to Tommy that the dimensions of the altar were sufficient to do the job.

Then, the hour being about 11 p.m., Mundelein showed Tommy his apartment suite at the seminary where he would spend the night and said that Bishop Bernard J. Sheil, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, an Irishman known as a New Deal bishop…very pro-organized labor and anticipating the New Deal in support of civil rights, who headed the Catholic Youth Organization…would arrange for him to be driven back the next morning.

Corcoran went to bed and was awakened by a knock at his door at about 2:30 a.m. , stirring him from a sound sleep. It was Bishop Sheil. “I am sorry to bother you, Mr. Corcoran,” said Sheil, “but I have very sad and shocking news. Cardinal Mundelein has died, died after calling a servant for assistance. We think it is imperative for you to leave now—so that the newspapers don’t misinterpret why you were here. I think you will appreciate that.” Corcoran did. He got dressed hurriedly, didn’t shave and a seminarian drove him over the bumpy, rural roads to the city with Sheil in the car directing the way. When they arrived it was still dark so they had arranged a hotel room at the Congress for Corcoran, who slept in the next morning and caught a train to Washington in the afternoon, reading about the sudden death of Mundelein in the Chicago newspapers as the train rolled on to Washington.

He cabbed it to the White House after he arrived at Union Station and, told Missy LeHand he was back. He was ushered in promptly.

Roosevelt hung up a phone, wheeled around in his swivel chair and said: “All right, Tommy, out with it! What did you do to the old man?”

More about the luncheon soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Personal Asides: “Rubber Mark” Kirk Wants to Fight Illegal Immigration with Condoms…Victory for Conservatives in the Supreme Court McCain-Feingold Ruling…New York Times Gets Involved in Wall Street Journal Control by Slurring Murdoch’s Wife.


Rubber Mark.

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), desperately trying to appeal to the social lefties of his North Shore district…and heedless of appealing to the GOP base (believing they have nowhere else to go)… has now seized on an issue that first became popular with affluent exurban voters when eugenicist Margaret Sanger first trumpeted the notion that the fewer Have Nots there are the more will be for all of us Haves. Rubber Mark has been first to apply eugenics to the immigration issue.

Kirk recently told the House that the U.S. should distribute free contraceptives to Mexico since “a slower rate of growth of Mexico’s population would improve the economy of Mexico…reduce the environmental pressure on Mexico’s ecosystem…[and]…also reduce the long-term illegal immigration pressure on America’s borders.” Embarrassing, isn’t it? Actually, birth rates have dropped in Mexico since 1980, ranking at 2.5 children per family compared to 2.1 for the U. S. So distributing prophylactics to the Mexicans ranks almost as high as distributing them to U. S. school children in Kirk’s book.

Treat the Mexicans to rubbers goes in the same package as his embryonic stem cell bill, pro-partial birth abortion, gun control and pro-gay rights position. But we have to take it…or so we’re told…because Kirk is the only “Republican” congressman the 10th will ever have. In reality by shedding any recognition of conservatism, he is following in the footsteps of Childe Chuck Percy who lost conservatives with every step he took to the Left including his espousal of Nelson Rockefeller for president. Childe Chuck who said after a close call with conservative Democrat Alex Seith he had learned his lesson. Until he received a final tutorial from someone more liberal who didn’t swerve--Paul Simon.

When Kirk ran for reelection last year, he told me “you may not like my stand on social issues but you have to acknowledge that on national defense I support the president.” Yeah, until the day after election 2006. After his Democratic opponent Dan Seals came close to beating him, Kirk junked his support of the president and came out against the “surge.” Expect him to do more twists and turns…maybe even support Chuck Hagel for president…if it helps his reelection chances. It won’t. There was a time when Kirk could have been a good Senatorial candidate; not now with his feinting to the Left. You see, you can never get farther to the Left than Dan Seals; thus could history repeat itself with Kirk failing to attract the Left while losing the Republican base.

The courting of the Left goes on: a vote in favor of a Pelosi-supported tax hike, a vote against a bill to require hospital workers to notify immigration officials when they treat illegals. Bodies on the desert are littered with people like Kirk…Percy, John B. Anderson (remember him?) and Paul Findley (no one remembers him).

Too bad principle to Rubber Mark means something he must rise above.

Bush’s Court.

Last night an erudite dinner companion asked me how I believe George W. Bush will be remembered. My answer was jocular, irreverent and scandalously unfair because I was angry at the immigration issue. Let me in the cold dawn of morning restate the answer. Bush will be remembered, I believe, for taking the battle against terrorism to the enemy with the result that the homeland has been spared attacks on it since 2001. With verve, decisiveness and heedless of personal unpopularity, he delivered the battle to the enemy…albeit in a war which, like all wars, was run sloppily and beset with inaccurate intelligence. But I repeat: all wars are like this. Eisenhower was very nearly sacked when the initial battles in North Africa went poorly. MacArthur who brilliantly conceived the Inchon Landing was in fact sacked for not recognizing the danger of Chinese involvement in the Korean War. Westmoreland was sacked in Vietnam. The Civil War saw Lincoln frittering away time by promoting and removing generals until he found one who could fight and lead. That is the nature of war…and was the nature of wars in which we have been involved since the very first, the American Revolution where the Continental Congress favored generals Horatio Gates and Nathaniel Greene over Washington.

So first, Bush will be remembered as a president who disregarded personal popularity to do what was right (and that goes for immigration as well on which this writer is strongly opposed). Second, Bush will be remembered for doing what presidents had vowed to do since Roe v. Wade—make the Supreme Court more conservative. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush all made incremental changes and some disastrous backsteps. George W. Bush finally began to turn the tide with the appointments of John Roberts and Sam Alito. These are two enormously important and salutary benchmarks.

Earlier the new majority on the Court upheld the ban on partial birth abortion. Thanks to Roberts and Alito and newfound strength from Anthony Kennedy the pendulum has begun to turn. Yesterday the Court ruled 5 to 4 in upholding an appeals court ruling that an anti-abortion group, Wisconsin Right to Life, should have been allowed to air ads expressing the group’s point of view in the final two months before the 2004 elections. The portion of the McCain-Feingold Act unnecessarily limits free speech and violates First Amendment rights. Voting right were Bush appointees Roberts and Alito plus Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas. Voting wrong were Breyer, Ginsburg and Stevens (Chuck Percy’s revenge; it was Percy who convinced Gerald Ford to name the 87-year-old lefty).

Thus in the midst of great abuse, let this writer congratulate George W. Bush on turning the Court around. Mr. President, you will leave office with the same ignominy of Harry Truman but unlike Truman will live long enough to see your major actions justified without Arthur Schlesinger’s cosmetics. The only black mark will be your fallacious view on immigration—but it shows you’re human. The other black mark you can rectify before it is too late…by giving Scooter Libby a pardon, recognizing that the constitutional nature of the pardon does not involve whether the one being pardoned was right or wrong—but that in conferring it the president tempered justice with mercy.

Slurring Murdoch’s Wife.

Don’t believe for a minute that the struggle to keep Rupert Murdoch from controlling The Wall Street Journal doesn’t carry a threat to the Left. The New York Times hits the street today with an assault not on Murdoch but on his Chinese wife…carrying out all the vindictiveness of personal injury on her heritage and raising the bogey of the Yellow Peril…warning that when the 76-year-old Murdoch dies this former native of Commie-run China will control a major lever of American journalistic power.

Liberals don’t like to be accused of such pettiness and as result are spared generally but their minions who like to pretend they take the high road. The Times has never been one to waste time putting on gloves before they scoop up mud and hurl it. This story, originally slated for Sunday, is timed to appeal to the Dow Jones owners to spurn Murdoch’s overtures. I hope they don’t. Instead it would be salutary for someone to try to capture The Times from the arthritic old craven fingers of the Sulzbergers.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Personal Views: Reverend Jackson, Father Pfleger and the Famous “Chokehold”…And What is the Only Way to Get Jackson to Call off the Demonstration?



Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Father Michael Pfleger, the Gold Dust twins of Chicago radicalism, were arrested and detained for about an hour after another media event in front of Chuck’s Gun Shop in south suburban Riverdale.

This followed a minor scuff-up and confrontation on charges of criminal trespass involving the Big Two of the city’s ace self-publicists at a store which has, no one doubts, been obeying the law on gun sales. After being released, Reverend Jackson aka “The Pout” charged before the whirring cameras of the electronic media that the gun shop owner has a “chokehold” on the Riverdale police. As for the blond pinwheel of excitability, Fr. Pfleger, he vowed to go to the gun shop with Jackson every Saturday.

If anyone has a chokehold on events, it’s Jackson & Pfleger…both profiting brilliantly with the compliant media (the “Tribune” has yet to even report that the priest, an apparent student of another Catholic cleric, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, threatened to murder the shop owner and those legislators who dare oppose his variant of gun control). Jackson has long held a chokehold on the media and Pfleger has long held a chokehold on the Catholic archdiocese because of his pivotal position as gleaner of Democratic votes which may spell the difference to the layman chancellor, Jimmy Lago, who was one of the best precinct captains the Cook county Democratic party ever had.

The Only Way…

Last night on WLS, I asked my two radio guests… Mike Quigley and Jim Nalepa…how Jesse Jackson could be persuaded to drop the demonstration in front of an enterprise that is operating legally and within the confines of the law. Both were stumped.

The answer: Have the gun manufacturers offer Jesse Jackson a piece of the action for one of his relatives.

That way, if precedent be served (viz Anheuser Busch) the demonstrations will stop. I wish I had thought of it myself but I did not. It was the product of the ingenious imagination of Joe Morris. Congratulations, Joe.

Flashback: Why Did Anna Chennault Toast Gordon Liddy? A Slight Argument, an Introduction and Promise of a Future Meeting with the Famous “Tommy the Cork.”


[Fifty plus years of politics as a memoir for my kids and grandchildren].

The Anna Chennault party at her Watergate condo was invigorating—not the least because it stimulated a bit of a good-natured tiff between Dr. Walter Judd, former ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, 1960 Republican convention keynoter, 1960 consider-ee for running-mate with Richard Nixon and contributing editor to the “Reader’s Digest.”

Why, I asked him (as we conversed at the reception before the dinner party)…a venerable China hand, surgeon, missionary and spiritual leader of the China Lobby and future recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the hands of President Ronald Reagan, who kept the flame from flickering out in the hope that the “Captive Nations” of eastern Europe and Asia could ultimately gain freedom…why did Anna Chennault just have us raise our glasses in toast to Gordon Liddy of all people?

“Anna is a little more dramatic than many of us,” he confided. “She and Tommy [attorney Thomas Corcoran] played a role in Richard Nixon’s election. She views Liddy as a political prisoner. Not I. I think he was a burglar. But when you spend your life on the line as a war correspondent and enemy of Mao as Anna has, it’s understandable. Tommy, you know, is a widower and is close to her; they office together, he with his law firm and she with the Flying Tigers and other interests. Anna was vice chairman of the Nixon finance committee and was close to John Mitchell [Nixon’s campaign manager]. She’s Republican National Committeewoman for D. C. Through Mitchell she served as a kind of intermediary to Vietnam for Nixon during the 1968 campaign.”

Were you aware of this?



“Mitchell asked her to get in touch with President Nguyen van Thieu of South Vietnam.. She called the Vietnamese ambassador here. In any event, she is a patriot of Free China and became such a Nixon partisan that she is wholeheartedly in favor of what these nuts tried to do in Watergate. You have to understand—she’s a fascinating woman, close to Mme. Chiang kai Shek [widow of Chiang who died in 2003 at the spectacular age of 106] who has as a single goal to help people who were her allies for a free China—and she identifies Nixon and Liddy among them.”

What role did Anna play in Nixon’s election?

“Some say a minor one; I say a decisive one. On October 31, 1968, just a few days before election Johnson ordered a total halt to the bombing of North Vietnam, as a condition for the North and the Vietcong to join peace talks with the South which would be held in Paris. They knew that it was a ruse and saw it as a device to fool the American voters to elect Humphrey on the pretext that he would continue the peace process and end the war. I saw it that way and Anna and Tom did too, as a ruse. I told that to Nixon and Mitchell myself.”

So how did she do it?

“Anna urged President Thieu not to play ball with LBJ. She passed the word via the Vietnamese ambassador here at the behest of John Mitchell [Nixon’s campaign manager]. Her words were, `hold on, we’re going to win.’ She said it was a message from her `boss.’ The `boss’ was not identified. On Nov. 2, three days before election, Nguyen rejected the peace talks knowing that he and the South would be sold out by LBJ for a fast and easy peace.”

How do you know what she said and that she used the word “boss”?

“Just accept that I know it. Accept I know it because J. Edgar Hoover’s people taped her. By then, Hoover was disillusioned with LBJ and a Nixon ally. He didn’t pass it further to LBJ.”

How do you know he didn’t?

“Just accept from me that he didn’t. But Johnson suspected something—one dirty trickster knows another. So he called Nixon on the phone and accused him—the weekend before the election—accused him of using Anna as a go-between. Nixon hotly denied it. Then when the conversation was concluded, Nixon and Mitchell collapsed with laughter.”

How do you know this?


--accept that I know it.

(Then came a bit of a verbal scuffle, a mild disagreement with my old boss).

Okay, Doctor, but you’ve taught me short-cuts are the bane of politics.. But wasn’t that a breach of the Logan Act? [The Act passed under John Adams forbids Americans “without authority of the United States” to “directly or indirectly commence or carry on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States or to defeat the measures of the United States” prescribing a fine or imprisonment of not more than three years or both.”].

He chafed at the question.

“The Act is plainly unconstitutional. It has never gone up to the Supreme Court but I would imagine it would never stand. What exactly does the word `defeat’ mean or the phrase `defeat the measures of the United States’ mean? It would never pass muster before the Supreme Court; the act is a relic of John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts. I spoke with Thieu myself a year before when I was over there on a contract to write an article for `Reader’s Digest.’ You mean I couldn’t express my opinion when he asked me for it? Nonsense. I gave him the same advice Anna did later: if there is ever a change in administration, the Republicans will stand more firmly with you than the Democrats. I would have been right, too, if Watergate hadn’t happened, Nixon toppled and the Democrats tossed in the towel. But the Logan Act? How can any Act like that be enforced? It can’t without interfering with freedom of speech.”

Don’t you think it’s possible that she and Nixon sabotaged the peace process and kept the war going to weaken Humphrey’s hand and grease the skids for Nixon’s election?

“See, you’re regurgitating the liberal line! Nixon and Anna sabotaged nothing but the `phony peace process’ and the war could have been won had Nixon not been constrained by Watergate and had to resign. The ruse Anna foiled was the Democrats’ design to elect Humphrey president after which peace would vanish and the war would continue. Humphrey was either behind it or the knowing beneficiary. Just like a Humphrey issue you were involved with, Highway 35.”

He was referring to a sensitive nerve with me: the ruse that Humphrey pulled when Republican Elmer Andersen (for whom I was press secretary) was running for reelection as governor of Minnesota whereby for the sake of an 18-foot patch of substandard concrete on an off-ramp near Hinckley, Minnesota the U. S. Bureau of Public Roads allowed Humphrey to announce that the federal portion of the 90/10 split would be abrogated with the state’s taxpayers picking up the entire cost “due to Elmer Andersen’s grievous mistake”—which was overruled after the Democrats defeated Andersen.

Said Judd: “The idea that Humphrey was not above concocting a phony “peace process” to get elected and then have the whole thing crash and burn is not foreign to anyone who understood Sir Hubert,” said Judd as he sipped an iced tea, “but I spotted it along with others and Anna initiated a conversation via the Vietnamese ambassador to Thieu. Don’t give me that `extend the war’ business! You know better than that.”

No I don’t because if the Dems had done this to a Republican president wouldn’t you be outraged?

“Yes but there’s every difference in the world in the two parties’ approach to Communism as I tried to teach you—and I guess I didn’t do it very well. You draw conclusions from what you know of the past, just like a physician does with a patient. We know from the past that the Democrats have been soft—yes, I will put it that way—soft on standing up to aggression as soon as the going gets tough such as Vietnam. We know they were looking for any reason to get out. The Humphrey-LBJ strategy was to sedate the voter with the thought that peace would come to Vietnam without any intention of preparing for a definitive session. The end result after election would be Humphrey’s plan to withdraw and let Vietnam go to tyranny without looking like it had been pushed.”

Your conclusion, not certainty, of course.

“Yes but a conclusion based on evidence of the past.”

What did Humphrey do when he found out about the Chennault conversation to Thieu?

“Your buddy Humphrey…”


“No, it’s a fair statement based on the direct line of your questions tonight. I understand you had some of your St. John’s buddies on his staff and you were pretty friendly with him yourself. Well, your buddy Humphrey learned about Anna’s communication with Thieu on his campaign plane and he said `By God, when we land I’m going to denounce Thieu. I’ll denounce Nixon. I’ll talk about the whole thing!’ He never did.”

I said nothing but here was my conclusion:

Anna sure as hell did involve herself in foreign policy improperly, I think, and unethically-- whether the Logan Act is constitutional or not. But then in 1975, as my conversation with Judd took place, two senators—McGovern and Sparkman, went to Cuba and talked to Castro. Just as Jesse Jackson, Sr. did in negotiating the freedom of an American hostage or, for that matter, Gov. George Ryan did by going to Cuba and advocating a repeal of the embargo. Another example of both sides playing hardball—no, dirty ball—with foreign policy.

Judd may have been right—I think he was—to infer the LBJ peace overture was designed to elect Humphrey with the certainty that after election it would collapse…but the fact remains that Johnson was, after all, the president and I wouldn’t want to go to my Maker confident I had foiled a bogus peace when, in the years to come, under Nixon, 20,763 more U. S. soldiers would die; I didn’t like the Chennault interference or any other interference—Ms. Pelosi’s in the Middle East either--and don’t now. But in big league politics I always was a wuss. I was never as confident as Judd was of the absoluteness of an issue such as going to Thieu. Oh well.

“Now, that we’ve differed because of your softness on Humphrey and that I’ve straightened you out on the Logan Act, do you want to meet Anna?”

Very much. Can I meet Tommy the Cork at this party, too?

“Not at the same time. They’re both showmen. I’ll see to that next time you come to town. There she is over there by the grand piano. Let’s go.”

In introducing me, Dr. Judd spoke in fluent Mandarin to Chennault, so I am in the dark about what he said but I did hear my name flutter by expressed in Chinese—something like “dom reeiser”.”

He turned to me, “I said you are a good friend and good conservative Republican who worked for me for a time in the Congress and who can be trusted although he has had a soft spot in his heart about Hubert Humphrey and who at one time had some trouble with Mr. Nixon in the field of minority enterprise, did I not, Anna?”

Not exactly a thrilling introduction, Doctor.

“Yes!” she said with a twinkling laugh and stood on her tip-toes to reach my ear. “Oh,” she confided with a tiny dramatic hand cupped over her lips, “he said far more complimentary things about you also but I won’t reveal!”

She was—and is--a charmer, three years older than I, born in 1925 in Peking now Bejing as Chen Xiangmei, received a BA in journalism from Lingnan University in Hong Kong began as a war correspondent for the Central News Agency in 1944, met and beguiled out of his socks gallant Major General Claire Chennault (who was divorced and twenty years older than she), married him in 1947, had two daughters but continued to serve as correspondent for the Hsin Shen Daily News and broadcaster for Voice of America, then vice-president of Flying Tiger Line, member of the President’s Advisory Committee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, president of Chinese Refugee Relief and president of the General Claire Chennault foundation.

Well, the disagreement didn’t last long. Mrs. Judd who joined us later

joshed: “You must excuse Walter; he’s in one of his infallible moods again where he’s always right and to question him is to doubt the Deity. I’ve done it often and I’m here to tell the tale!”

He blushed and we shook hands.

I said to her, Would you convince your husband to let me use his good name to call Tommy the Cork Corcoran so that I might grab lunch with him sometime?

She looked at him over her reading glasses: “Well, Walter?”

He growled with a half smile. “Against my better judgment to let a liberal consort with our people, but if you wish, my dear, I’ll do it.”

Next time—the lunch with Tommy the Cork; and guess who picked up the tab?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Personal Aside: It Occurred to Me Yesterday in Springfield


I rarely go to Springfield but I went there on an intelligence mission—not lobbying venture—for a client. There with a relaxed dinner I looked at my tablemates…a bright young independent Democratic legislator…a talented advocate from an agency in the governor’s domain…and a very astute youngish Republican. Add to this an African American civic leader from Chicago and me…old…a veteran of many political wars with the scars to prove it.

As we sat around I heard everybody analyze why the deadlock between the Democratic governor and the Democratic legislature. It sounded very complicated. But then as we went around the table, it was obvious that if all of us were empowered to negotiate…and had at our beck and call a tall pitcher of cool iced tea…we could arrive at a satisfactory decision in about an hour…an hour and a half max.

As we went around the table, it is obvious there are only so many options that can be taken that give the Governor something…not all but something…Speaker Madigan something—not all but something…and President Jones something—not all but something…along with the reasonable views of House Minority Leader Tom Cross and a slice or two of views from Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson.

In essence: when you look at the options any reasonable group of people could iron out a compromise so that everyone could have some trophy or other but not the whole enchilada. And so as I went to sleep that night at the Abraham Lincoln, I wondered why if it would be so easily done for us—different people, different ages, different demands—why could it not be with the leadership.

And of course the answer is clear. It’s not testosterone as faultily charged but the desperate need to posture. And posturing, let me point out, is endemic to the political condition if half the components or all of them were women as well. If the media were to vacate to other things, for example, leaving just a skeleton crew around the Capitol…with the hot summer wending on…you’d find them dropping the posturing and settle it quickly.

Ergo: the media ever-present, playing on the political human condition of savoring posture, contributes to the problem.

Why don’t the newspapers and television decide to let the wire services cover it…and pack up all the gear and go home, leaving just a very few bare-bones communicators around? Just enough to report in concise fashion what the agreement is…and allow the analyses to wait until after everhybody departs? It’s the damned analysis…Madigan flinches…Governor barks…Jones won’t budge…that keeps everybody at nose-to-nose length in impossible postures.

When the editors call the analysts home, you will find it won’t take long until this bunch wraps it all up and goes home. In other words, this is the anticipation of a winning media event that blocks progress.

Flashback: Tugwell on FDR’s Sense of Humor and Tommy the Cork. .


[Fifty years of politics written for my kids and grandchildren].

A long dinner at the Hotel Bellevue Stratford in Philly following the Rexford Tugwell presentation at Wharton in 1975 included these observations.

Did Roosevelt have a sense of humor?

“Yes but he was both Puritan and patrician so his humor was generally very stuffy. You remember “my little dog Fala” line which he wrote himself in answer to a Republican charge that he made a Navy destroyer turn around in the ocean and go back to pick up his Scottie. He said that Fala had Scottish blood and was enraged with that attack by the Republicans. He drew laughs with it but it was not a knee-slapper. Or the story he told in Boston before a group of dissident Democrats who didn’t want him to run for a third term. Not particularly funny but illustrative. I was with him on that occasion. He told the crowd which was generally aloof due to the Irish having been worked up against the third term by Jim Farley. So Roosevelt told this story. Again: not funny particularly but illustrative.

“He said he had an uncle Caleb who lived in upstate New York and who was losing his hearing. He went to the doctor who sent him to a fancy clinic in Boston. The specialists spent a day peering into his ears and his medical history and one asked him: `Do you do any drinking, Caleb?’

He said, `drinking—what kind do you mean?’ The specialist said, `you know what I mean—alcohol. Do you drink a lot of whiskey?’ Caleb said he did `a mite.’ The specialist said, `well, I think it’s more than a mite. Caleb our scientists have just concluded a study which says that in rare cases, consumption of alcoholic beverages can destroy hearing. And it turns out that you happen to be one of those rare cases. So I can tell you this. If you want to save what’s left of your hearing, you have to stop drinking immediately. What is your answer to that?’

“Roosevelt said Caleb thought for a minute and said, `I like what I’ve been drinking so much more than what I’ve been hearing, that I’m goin’ to keep on gettin’ deef!”

“The audience roared because they knew what was coming next. And it came. Then he tied into Boston by asking, “What have I been hearing about Boston? Is Boston telling me to leave this job now when we are not yet finished restoring employment and defending the Forgotten Man who thanks to the Republicans has been left out in the cold?” That was a mild joke with a political thrust.”

You’re right, it’s got a political thrust but is not funny. Did he enjoy let us say, scatological humor?

“A sure way to disgust him is to tell scatological humor. But I did only once and it happened to go over quite well. ”

What was it?

“I’ll give you the context. There was an obnoxious far-right congressman named Stephen A. Day.”

He was from Illinois—Congressman Stephen A. Day, one of Colonel McCormick’s choicest conservatives.

“Not surprising. Anyhow on a slow day in the House—it was over the furor concerning the Supreme Court packing…which I thought was a bad idea by the way (it was largely Tommy the Cork’s doing)…Day got some headlines I suppose tailored for the Chicago Tribune by introducing an impeachment for Roosevelt. It bothered the president when he heard it because it had not been a particularly good day anyhow. I was with him and he growled about it. I told him that this pipsqueak congressman whom no one particularly knew reminded me of a farm story that circulated through upstate New York rural areas when I was a boy…about the camel who had decided to deflower the Sphinx. Well, Roosevelt was a patrician so reference to what you call scatology was not particularly his line—but I just left it like that…the camel who had decided to deflower the Sphinx. He put down his pen, took off his pinch nez glasses and asked with a guffaw, `what happened?’

“I said it was put down in poetry form and I recited it to him—a bit of doggerel you know. It started with the camel lusting after the Sphinx and seeking to deflower her. Then the rhyme goes this way: `Now the Sphinx’s posterior orifice/ Is closed by the sands of the Nile/ Which explains the hump on the camel/ And the Sphinx’s inscrutable smile.” He roared with laughter and delight. Later when I went back to the Ag Department the phone rang. It was him without a secretary as intermediary and he asked me to recite it to him as he wrote it down. I never heard whether or not he used it. But somewhere it resonated.”

You said Tommy the Cork was responsible for the court packing scheme. That’s Thomas G. Corcoran, the Rhode Island lawyer who became one of FDR’s political go-fers.

“He was much more than that. I understand you’re a lobbyist for Quaker Oats. Tommy would be one to study since he became and may still be by all odds the most influential lobbyist in Washington. But don’t copy his principles because he has none—none which I could discern at any rate. I don’t know how good a Catholic you are but you shouldn’t imitate Tommy’s Catholicism at any rate/”

How very interesting. How did his religion come into play?

“ He was a number of years young than I, born in Rhode Island, an Irish Catholic who went to Brown and then Harvard Law where he came under the influence of Felix Frankfurter. Frankfurter once told me that Corcoran was fighting the burden of inferiority that his Irish Catholicism imposed on him.”

Wait a minute. You’re talking to a guy who’s half Irish and all Catholic. What did that remark mean?

“Your church had a reputation in some so-called elevated circles of being autocratic and anti-free inquiry. This was before what you call the reforms of the Church came in with your Pope John. You may not care to hear it but there were Catholic prelates who believed university education vitiated Catholicism—casting skepticism about. Well, of course, a truly educated man is a skeptic as he searches for the truth. Tommy came from the kind of Irish upbringing that resented this—although Tommy was an excellent legal student with Frankfurter and Frankfurter got him a job as clerk to Oliver Wendell Holmes. If that wouldn’t make you a skeptic—clerking for Holmes—nothing would. Tommy ended up a strong advocate for domestic New Deal measures but continued as a steadfast anti-Communist which was consonant with his Church. Nothing wrong with that, of course.”

And then what happened to him?

’FDR asked Frankfurter to help him find bright young lawyers to review the nation’s securities laws. Felix recommended Tommy and Ben Cohen. They worked in the White House on what became the Securities and Exchange Commission. I looked in on their work but had my own to do in agriculture. But Tommy became far more than a legal draftsman. He put himself in charge of getting the Public Utilities Holding Company act passed. Then Senator Owen Brewster of Maine was opposed so Tommy went to him and put it flat out in tough Irish Democratic talk: `You vote for this legislation or I’ll see, from my White House perch, that construction on the Passamaquoddy dam in your district is halted.’ The Senate held a hearing and we all held our breath but the investigation, run by Hugo Black, cleared Corcoran. Tommy was unafraid and unrepentant, telling us `storms make the sailor if he can survive them.’ The president who enjoyed a good fight clapped Tommy on the back but Morganthau always held he was a crook. But—why do you get me started? There’s much more to the story.”

Such as?

“Roosevelt was so impressed with Tommy that he made him his personal emissary to the Hill—the very first, so far as I know, White House staffer who had as his portfolio the right to call all the shots to see that legislation FDR favored was passed. Louis Howe was on to him and had Roosevelt’s full-time ear, but then Howe died and Tommy reigned supreme from the standpoint of political tactics used on the Hill. One of the most important things Tommy did was intervene against Jim Farley who wanted to make New York congressman John O’Connor get the job of Speaker now that Bankhead had died. It was poisonous to go against Farley and FDR rather sat back and enjoyed it. Tommy’s candidate was Sam Rayburn so you know how that came out. That started Tommy having influence not just with Rayburn but Texas oil.

“Well you know the rest of the story as an FDR student. The Supreme Court under Charles Evans Hughes ruled unconstitutional some of the president’s key legislation including the NRA and my pet…one I worked on…the Agricultural Adjustment Act. I can’t say this for sure but I know Tommy either wrote FDR’s speech or contributed heavily to it—the speech that said that six of the nine justices were over age seventy. Roosevelt said he was going to ask Congress to pass a law enabling the president to expand the Supreme Court by adding one new judge up to a maximum of six for every current judge over seventy. Well I saw that in the newspapers I knew two things—it was Tommy’s work and it would fail to win public support.”

Did Tommy get the job of ramming the legislation through Congress?

“He did and Izzie Stone [I. F. Stone] became his consort, writing speeches for Congressmen and Senators to deliver. Tommy was counting on the continued support of Burton K. Wheeler of Montana, on Senate Judiciary but Wheeler became crazed…I mean this almost literally…and turned against Roosevelt like on a dime, opposing the measure and even insisting that FDR caused the assassination of Huey Long! The measure failed to win passage as seemingly everybody was against it. But then something happened to increase Tommy’s influence. One by one some conservative Supreme Court members began to switch, starting with Owen Roberts who said he changed his mind on minimum wage legislation. Tommy’s campaign was credited by some in the White House as having worked despite the bill’s failure. It was known as the `Switch in time that saved nine!’ Then Willis Van Devanter, a conservative Republican justice, decided to resign. Tommy convinced Roosevelt that his replacement should be Hugo Black, the Senator from Alabama who became a great civil libertarian. Roosevelt named him and was pleased.”

He sounds like a genius.

“He was but a perverted one. He took probably far more credit than he deserved—credit for finding Hugo Black, for naming Felix Frankfurter although there he probably did, for Frank Murphy and Bill Douglas who had been head of the SEC. Then when there was a hubbub over Hugo Black having been a Ku Klux Klan member, Tommy—and I am sure he did this—orchestrated Black’s act of contrition to the country and got him confirmed.”

What happened to end Tommy’s effectiveness?

“Events. Tommy was a domestic liberal but as an Irish Catholic a foreign policy conservative. That’s where I got off the boat because I was somewhat of a hot property myself and I went to Puerto Rico. Initially the Catholics, working through Tommy in the White House, got FDR to slap a arms embargo on Spain—on both sides, the Franco side and the republican side. Liberals wanted the embargo lifted so that arms could go to those opposing Franco. Tommy singlehandedly—and I mean this—blocked the move to end the embargo, working through the Catholic church. I fault Tommy greatly for this because he knew that Hitler and Mussolini would be supporting Franco and he blocked our supporting the anti-fascist side. That got the president perturbed with Tommy because his liberal instincts and that of Mrs. Roosevelt wanted to support the anti-fascists. That was the beginning of the end of Tommy the Cork.

“There, damnit, I have spent far too much time educating you, although I appreciate the Wharton foundation’s honorarium! I am going to bed and am going to fly back to Santa Barbara tomorrow. If you wish you might use your lobbyist’s credentials to seek out Tommy the Cork. Even now as old as he is, he is the most powerful lobbyist in Washington. I cannot help you further. Goodnight.”

I didn’t know how or if ever I would meet the famous Tommy the Cork—although he had been at Quaker’s premiere of a Lincoln documentary that was shown at Ford’s Theatre. Moreover as a white-haired widower, he was the escort of an attractive Chinese lady, the former Chen Xiangmes who as a reporter for the Chinese Central news agency under Chiang kai Shek had met and married a man many years her senior—Major General Claire Channault, who formed the “Flying Tigers” to help China repel the Japanese. I certainly couldn’t go up to Tommy the Cork then and so I discarded the idea.

A few years after the Tugwell experience, while in Washington on Quaker errands, I dropped by the office of my old boss, former Congressman Walter H. Judd of Minnesota…a former Congregationalist medical missionary to China and exponent of a sometime Free China… with whom I had stayed in touch and who was active in Far Eastern affairs with particular respect to Taiwan. He said, “Look here, if you’re not doing anything tonight why not go with Mrs. Judd and me to Anna Channault’s house to welcome some dignitaries from Taiwan?”

I said: I’d be delighted. Do you suppose Tommy the Cork will be there?

“Do I suppose? He is always with her. A delightful couple although Tommy is a lot older than she—but that’s not my business or yours. But Tommy is heart and soul a Catholic of the old school and fervent anti-Communist, as, young man, I hope you have continued to be.”

Later that evening we went to her house. Before we entered the dining room for dinner, she had a waiter pour wine for everybody. Then with the soft candle-light enhancing her spectacularly tiny form, dancing on the blue colors of her gorgeous Chinese kimono and highlighting her raven hair and slight olive coloring, she raised her glass and beckoned us to do the same.

We waited for her to pronounce the toast.

“To Gordon Liddy,” she said. “In prison three years so far and in solitary confinement. May he continue to be loyal to Richard Nixon, spill no secrets and be fortified by this toast and our prayers.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Flashback: Tugwell Talks About the Marvelous Openness of FDR.

[More than 50 years of politics for my kids and grandchildren].

Sitting at dinner following a bravura performance at the Wharton School from which he was summarily fired as a professor more than fifty years earlier, Rexford Guy Tugwell, former counselor to FDR, said that the high-point of his eighty-plus years was his ability to stroll into the Oval Office almost unannounced (the president had given orders that whenever Tugwell showed up he should be admitted within reason) and engage in witty and deep-rooted commentary about how the nation could survive the Depression.

“He had a marvelous openness,” he said. “But the best time to visit—and I soon learned that—was during what he called the `Children’s Hour’. That was after 6:30 p.m. when he would wheel himself up to a cabinet and pour drinks for us. To be there with Harry Hopkins and a cabinet favorite or two—especially Tommy the Cork—was the highpoint of my life. I have always thought that if more presidents had operated like this…with participants allowed to challenge him or bring him uncensored news from the battlefront that did not have to be ventilated through echelons of staff…the governance of this country would be immeasurably enhanced.”

At the “Children’s Hour” far more than the customary limit of adult beverage imbibing was allowed. On one occasion House Speaker Sam Rayburn gave the president a refined but nevertheless Texas-style dressing down for his liberalism. FDR grinned and hugely enjoyed it, said Tugwell to me.

“My job was largely that of research and writing memos,” he said, “and I would be closeted over at the Library of Congress many, many days. But the best thing I could do for myself is to gain a flavor of the real world by hearing elected officials sitting around in `Children’s Hour’ telling me how cockeyed I was by relying on strict research instead of testing ideas with them. Of course testing ideas is what I was doing by drinking with them—but the average politician is hopelessly conservative and leery of trying new ideas. We were polishing up new ideas all the time…Social Security, farm subsidies, soil bank, unemployment comp, the Wagner Act which gave unions power in the marketplace. I even spent the better part of one whole evening at Children’s Hour testing an idea I had which caused Roosevelt a great deal of interest.”

What idea was that?

“You’ve heard of the concept of the Guaranteed Annual Wage, a level below which the government was not to allow anyone’s earnings to fall. As a farmer I came up with the idea of the Guaranteed Minimum Diet…a level of nutrition that everyone has a right to…a level that would be guaranteed by the government in any number of ways. It never got off the ground because I had the bad fortune of springing it at a time when Henry Morganthau was there. Morganthau was, as you know, an unregenerate conservative.”

That I didn’t know.

“He was. And that was that.”

Do you think a current president could duplicate the informality that existed then? [It was 1975].

“No. Absolutely not. You have to remember that Roosevelt had a number of things going for him that most other presidents didn’t have. He was at a high-point of popularity, having been elected when the country was down on its haunches with a Depression. The country gave him a big Democratic majority in Congress. The media—well, not the newspaper and radio network owners exactly—but the media was wholeheartedly for him. People had ceded to him certain trust that he would lead them through and he took advantage of it by turning the White House into an experimental laboratory for new ideas. He was the right person to do it but under no circumstances would a president ever have that repository of trust from the people except then—either then or in a terrible war. And I am not sure a president should have that repository of trust in normal conditions. But he had it in his first and second terms.”

Did you ever see any hint that he was having an affair with either Grace Tully or Missy LeHand, two secretaries who by rumor were linked with him romantically?

“Not in the slightest and I have pondered this many times. How could this happen when the Children’s Hour people were so intimately close to each other and would have to pass this salacious news on. I have concluded that it didn’t happen. Oh, Franklin had an eye for a pretty ankle—all of us men do, I guess. But you must remember that he was not a normal man; he was severely paralyzed. I cannot envisage how and when this would have occurred.”

Were either Tully or LeHand with you at Children’s Hour?

“Usually Tully was—as a sort of oh what would you call it, female valet? Pushing him in and out of the room in his wheel chair on occasion when the servants weren’t there and he wanted to get something. I saw this happen once. But usually the servants were about..”

Did you notice any virulence or bitterness of animosity in FDR?

“I did. I remember he told me that he had no use whatsoever for Herbert Hoover—not because of the problems that Hoover caused with the Depression before FDR got there. But there was a time when FDR as governor of New York was called to the White House along with other governors to meet with the president on problems of the Depression. Hoover took a few of the governors in at one time so as to sub-committee it and not be overwhelmed with 48 governors all trying to yowl at the same time. Roosevelt was with other governors standing in the anteroom. There were no chairs. He felt sure that Hoover had arranged it that way so as to make it damned inconvenient and uncomfortable for him to stand, as he was weighed down with many bounds of steel braces. Then an attendant at the White House came up to him and asked if he could bring a chair to Franklin could sit down. FDR said stiffly no thanks…and he took it, standing up with two canes and a son or two—I think it was Jimmy—at his side.

“He told me later that Hoover had planned this. I thought it was just that no one had taken into account Franklin’s condition—but he carried that impression of Hoover as a cold fish, cruel almost, which I thought was inaccurate.”

Did you tell him?

“I did not. Once Franklin had his Dutch danger up and had made his mind up, you didn’t tell him.”

More at some future time.

Personal Asides: It’s Quigley and Nalepa for Sunday Shootout…A Brilliant Priest Leaves the Archdiocese for the Jesuits.


Quigley & Nalepa.

Independent Democrat Cook county board member Mike Quigley will be one of my guests on Political Shootout on WLS-AM Sunday night (8 p.m.) along with a man whom a growing number of fans hope can be convinced to run for the U. S. Senate against Dick Durbin…a man whom I referred to cryptically yesterday…Jim Nalepa. Jim Nalepa, a graduate of West Point, made a brilliant run for Congress in 1994 and could easily have defeated Bill Lipinski that year except for one Republican Riverside township committeeman who flooded her district with sample ballots marked for Lipinski—the indefatigable State Senator Judy Baar Topinka who was running that year for state treasurer and needed the help of the Democratic machine which delivered for her because she delivered for them. (She noted to a friend when she ran for governor last year that I—whom she described in terms that cast doubt on my mother’s heritage—cost her 16,000 votes in her losing effort. I am depressed to learn that was all I subtracted from her total but it was worth it…even to get Blago.)

Former S.J. Again S.J. Fr. Matthew Gamber.

One of the archdioocese’s finest priests, Fr. Matthew Gamber, who left the Jesuits to become a parish priest on the hope that his talents and skills would be used in evangelization, has decided to return to the Jesuits…not because the Jesuits are any better but because he will have a teaching assignment he cherishes. It is rumored he had been promised fulsome duties in the archdiocese which is in dire need of good priests…but in the three years he has been here he has not received such summons nor visited with the Cardinal. Nor, reportedly, has he had an easy time getting through the Iron Curtain on Superior street…this again by speculation not by personal verification by me.

One of the best priests I and his many admirers have ever known, Fr. Gamber did great things as an assistant at St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge which includes the institution of the 24-hour-a-day Eucharistic Adoration.

Perhaps had he marched with Jesse Jackson or paled around with such Catholics as Dick Durbin, Mayor Daley, Todd Stroger, Mike Madigan, Lisa Madigan, Dan Hynes, Tom Hynes and Emil Jones…all pro-aborts… he would have had his phone calls returned—at the least by Chancellor Jimmy Lago (Jimmy, not James being his Christian name). Who knows?

Good luck and many fond wishes to Father Matthew Gamber, again S.J. The archdiocese will miss you whether it knows it or not.

Flashback: Rexford Guy Tugwell and Jim Farley, a Sharp Contrast of Two Who Served FDR. This Precedent to My Going on Bruce DuMont’s Show This Sunday with the Subject FDR (Along with Eric Zorn and Others).

[More than fifty years of politics written for my kids and grandchildren].

In the middle 1970s while in California on a business trip (The Conference Board), I took a side trip to Santa Barbara to see Robert Maynard Hutchins, the renowned former president of the University of Chicago. He was running something called the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. Hutchins was an anomaly: a conservative educational reformer, he reinvigorated the University of Chicago by applying a standard that insisted on a core curriculum that boosted classics: a subject I was interested in since I was about to become chairman of an institution similarly interested in the humanities, Newman College in Saint Louis. Hutchins also hired Mortimer Adler whom I knew and the two of them went on to make genuine academic history (Lillian and I took the Great Books course as taught by Adler).

It is uncertain as to who converted whom to pushing university education to stress the liberal arts at Chicago. Hutchins became dean of the Yale Law school at age 28, scoring national attention in 1927. Two years later he was named president of the University of Chicago at 30. He quickly hired Adler and put him in charge of the program to move the U of C from what Hutchins felt was a highly priced trade school or “foundry” as he called it, to an institution that would celebrate the humanities. To Hutchins and to Adler, the well educated man would have four years of the humanities and then probably two or three years learning a trade. Adler invented the “Great Books” many of which, he jokingly told me, Hutchins had no time to read since Hutchins was busily publicizing the idea of the new university. He also invented the “Basic Program” which still exists, a movement based on the great books which does not provide university credit but a full-grounded 5-year superb education in the humanities which Lillian took. But it was Hutchins, not the abrasive Adler, who popularized the movement. He commented that he became aware of the need when interviewing beginning freshmen at the University of Chicago…many of whom said they were interested in securing justice for blacks and minorities…but could not adequately give a definition of justice.

Among other things Hutchins and Adler stimulated ideas in economic thought and made it a serious study rather than just a means with which to get CPAs and MBAs--manifested by the institution’s hiring Milton Friedman and a number of other Nobel prize winners in economics and the retention of George Shultz as dean of the business school.

. Of the two, Adler felt he was clearly the intellectual superior but having spent time with both of them, I felt it was a draw of genius: Hutchins for the well-balanced man and Adler, a Jew, then a converted Episcopalian (and before his death in his nineties, a Catholic. for brilliant but thoroughly compulsive engrossment in Thomistic philosophy. Adler popularized philosophical speculation with his landmark book “Aristotle Made Easy” which earned the enmity of philosophers who wish to remain obscure suffused in jargon. Adler made himself so universally hated among faculty members that after Hutchins moved on, he had to leave…yet of the two probably Adler’s mark on the institution is more indelibly recorded.

I wanted to get from Hutchins how to manage a university devoted to the humanities not trade school learning. He taught me much in the two days I spent with him. Incidentally, Hutchins told me that when things got tough for him at the University of Chicago, he had one fast friend on the board—John Stuart who was CEO of Quaker.

When I visited with him, Hutchins was running a great dream of his—the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions which was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers foundation. Then he called together the Fellows of the Center for luncheon which they ate family style, people like the heretical Episcopal bishop James Pike asking a nuclear physicist to “pass the bread. take one for yourself but leave some for others” and Harry Ashmore, former editor of the Little Rock “Gazette” during the melee over integration of Central high school there…while Hutchins, a Presbyterian minister’s son, would pontificate about John Henry Newman’s view of the theological doctrine of certainty differed widely from that of the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas.

One elderly gentleman who participated strenuously both with cogent comments and wonderfully irreverent repartee…the oldest guy in the group…got my attention. He was well in his eighties; they called him “sexy Rexy.” He was none other than a man whom I had frequently heard of in my youth when I had to read the “Tribune” editorials to my father while he was shaving—Rexford Guy Tugwell, who led Colonel McCormick’s hate parade for exerting “subversive views on governance.” Tugwell was the real intellect behind Henry Wallace’s radical reform of agriculture during the New Deal. He had been a key member of FDR’s “Brain Trust” a group of academics who helped develop socialist policies masquerading under different names during Roosevelt’s campaign…keeping them under wraps until he was elected and incorporated the New Deal.

Tugwell was born in upstate New York in 1891 and studied at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. He taught at Wharton but was ejected as a near Communist. He finished up at the University of Washington. He taught there, the American University in Paris and Columbia University. It was at Columbia where he met a group of people interested in the presidential career of Governor Franklin Roosevelt. They were all egg-heads and intellectuals. FDR kept them apart from a group of political pragmatists like Jim Farley which was engaged in getting him nominated and elected. Jim Farley told me he hadn’t been acquainted whatsoever with Tugwell until after election when Tugwell was unveiled. Tugwell told me that he hadn’t met Farley either. But they tussled after Roosevelt got in. Yet they had a lot of respect for each other. Tugwell asked me after I told him I had spent a number of hours with Farley in New York….asked me rather timidly…”and how is Jim? How old is Jim do you know?”

He was older than Rex—born in 1888 (Rex in 1891). Tugwell never occupied a very senior official post in the FDR administration…probably because of his candor which would have gotten him into trouble with the media…but he was more influential with Roosevelt than most cabinet officers—and spent more time face-to-face with FDR than most. As a guru for the collectivization of agriculture (although he couldn’t stand farm work because he was abnormally sensitive to hay fever), he became undersecretary and then head of the resettlement administration, a federal agency that relocated the urban poor to suburbs and impoverished farmers to new rural communities. He was the guiding genius who started the extensive federal experimental farm at Greenbelt, Maryland…which is still a marvelous institution. But the idea of federal planning, which he pioneered and his work at the Resettlement Administration did him in politically.

That’s where I heard of him as a kid because McCormick’s “Tribune” claimed Tugwell was out to radicalize farm communities and turn Republican suburbs into left-wing Commie cells. He also was the guiding spirit behind a number of Henry A. Wallace’s reforms including the soil bank, plowing under every second furrow of crops to get the prices up and other things. Tugwell became the “go-to” guy in the New Deal for economic planning…agriculture, minimum wage, social security, unemployment comp, although he was about as conservative as Farley was about federal relief programs. And he flatly opposed the idea of an extensive welfare system believing that being on the dole continually robs people of initiative.

He played a major role in forming the Civilian Conservation Corps. His idea was that experienced foresters should take under their wing a certain number of young men who would learn the trade while paid by the federal government. Once he had the idea, FDR gave him the job of handling all the details which was moot justice. Who would be chosen? How would they be housed? Who would build the CCC camps? Who would handle the unions which were outraged at all this? Would the boys build their own camps or would the union laborers do it?

Tugwell would talk to FDR by the hour about the European experience with insurance against the hazards of industrial life and insurance against unemployment. FDR was the doubter but Tugwell was the proponent. Roosevelt vetoed Tugwell’s most extensive plan and decided on a contributory scheme and sent Tugwell to the Library of Congress to collect actuarial figures about old age, accidents, illnesses. Together they worked out the idea that deductions from pay envelopes and enfoced contributions from employers could carry the costs.

Tugwell was sent to work with Sen. Robert Wagner (D-N.Y) who had been chairman of the National Labor Board during the first half of the NRA (National Recovery Administration). Against Tugwell’s advice, Wagner induced FDR to issue two executive orders—authorizing the Board to hold elections for determining bargaining agents and to present violations to the Justice Department for prosecution. Tugwell and Wagner thus devised the guts of the National Labor Relations Act which banned unfair practices such as sponsoring company unions by employers, interfering with employees’ choice of bargaining representatives and refusal tro bargain with elected agents. Tugwell sketched out the NLRB board to be set up.

In 1937, Farley personally asked FDR to get rid of Tugwell and he did in order to ease the heat. He told me, “Tugwell was one of those who was so radical that he could easily see that we would be defeated because he alienated a lot of people.” But Tugwell continued his private association with FDR. FDR told him he would get another job as soon as the heat was off…and he did. In 1942 he became the last non-Puerto Rican to become governor of the territory. He served from 1942 to 1946. After that, he came to the University of Chicago under Hutchins.

When I started teaching at Wharton in 1974 I discovered the file that led to Tugwell’s being ejected as a Communist. I looked at it and decided they had the old guy dead to rights. He was an intellectual communist but by no means a Marxist. The next year I thought it would be great fun to get him to speak at my class on April 12, 1975, the 30th anniversary of Roosevelt’s death. In order to get it done I had to fight with the U of Penn administration which was leery of it because of a number of wealthy conservative alums who remembered Tugwell. After I visited with President Martin Meyerson, he agreed but then there was another complication. For some reason, Tugwell called me up and said he couldn’t come. Why not? He was elusive. Then his wife called me and said that he didn’t want to come because as an old man in his eighties he had to go to the bathroom every half hour and he was embarrassed. Together we hatched a plan where I called him and said that because the kids at the school were so immature, his talk would have to last only a half hour at a time and then everybody would take a stretch. I could almost hear him sigh in relief and he agreed immediately.

His return to Wharton was a triumph. The alumni attended and found out the old guy was so much against welfare as distinct from agricultural planning and reforms that had long become part of government that he sounded like Barry Goldwater. One newspaperman from the Philadelphia Inquirer called me up and asked if he could attend the class. He was a young fellow greatly interested in New Deal history by the name of Steve Neal. Neal attended and that was the first time I met him who would go on to become a White House correspondent for the “Tribune”, later the “Sun-Times” political columnist and a historian in his own right who wrote some landmark books including the story of the 1932 convention that nominated FDR. His untimely death deprived us all of a friend and astute analyst and historian.

This Sunday I’ll be on “Beyond the Beltway” with Bruce DuMont along with Eric Zorn to discuss Roosevelt through the eyes of Farley and Tugwell…before I zip out and go to my own show on WLS which follows Bruce.

More about what Rex Tugwell told me about FDR which departs somewhat from what Jim Farley said…but then coincides…next time.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Personal Asides: Don’t Be Surprised if the Democrats Take the Easiest Course…Elizabeth Magnor Schedules a Concert…There’s a Possibility of a Much Better Candidate for the U. S. Senate than Most Who Have Been Mentioned Right Under Our Noses.

No Surprise.

It would be no great surprise to me if the Democrats running the legislature decide to take the easiest course…one outlined Sunday by Springfield correspondent Doug Finke which goes like this:

Since the House Democrats passed a low-growth budget in late May, the bill is still existent—stuck on a perch in the House awaiting an electricity rate compromise. If an agreement is reached, the Democratic House budget could be sent to the Senate where the Democrats have enough votes to pass it without Republican help. If Blagojevich signs it, it will allow the state to move through the first six months of the budget year—which would be next January. Then there would be another go-round where the Democrats would not need Republican help and a budget could be crafted without any interference by the GOP.

It was interesting to me to note that the two guests on my show Sunday…diametrically opposite on many things…conservative analyst Russ Stewart of Nadig Newspapers and liberal…at least I call him that…Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Accountability, agreed that this could easily be the interim solution.

Russ Stewart is always an interesting guest. Ralph Martire is fast becoming one also…one who sets all ten lights on the phones winking. I was impressed when he acknowledged that he is the author of the tax swap that Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) has been advocating. Martire may well be a true anomaly…a liberal who ran against Mike Quigley a few years ago and held him to a relatively narrow win…and one who posted a Topinka for Governor sign on his suburban River Forest lawn. I would imagine that his swap plan would have been implemented by Topinka had she won the governorship.

Elizabeth Magnor.

Elizabeth Magnor, a beautiful and fetching 20-year-old University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee) lyric soprano whose delicacy of phrasing and beauty of tone calls to mind Renee Fleming, has been singing since a little girl and has been highly praised by many including those who heard her at the Julliard School of Music in New York (but she was entirely too young to go to New York city). One of eight children of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Magnor of Brookfield, Wisconsin, Elizabeth has all the ambition and grace, plus quiet determination, to become one of the world’s leading sopranos.

She has the opportunity to sing in Lucca, Italy with the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in the summer of 2008. She has to pay her own way over there so she is putting on a concert…cost of admission $10 apiece…on August 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Milwaukee where she will be performing Lucia’s Mad scene, “Il dolce Suono” from Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” (which will also feature flutist Samantha Theuring).

The concert will be held at the St. John’s Retirement Home at 1840 North Prospect avenue, Milwaukee. The program will consist of songs by Franz Schubert, Gabriel Faure and musical theatre selections as well as the aforementioned opera scene.

Why do I bring this up? Eight reasons. (1) I am a pushover for lyric sopranos. (2) The mad scene of “il dolce Suono” is my favorite. (3) “Lucia di Lammermoor” is the best work that Gaetano Donizetti produced. (4) Milwaukee in summer is where my heart is; (5) the exquisite music will drown out the buzzing cicadas outside; (6) Wisconsin is a state the Republicans need to carry in order to win the presidency next year; (7) I am scouting out the St. John’s Retirement Home as a haven when I get tired of doing this stuff.

And (8) Elizabeth Magnor is my granddaughter.

If you attend, you will see two sets of grandparents fervently applauding in the front row along with her parents. If you cannot attend but want to support the next generation’s opera star, contact me.

A Much Better Candidate.

There’s a possibility of a much better Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against Dick Durbin than many who have been mentioned. Someone who talks authoritatively about foreign and domestic policy, an excellent communicator and a genuine patriot.


As they say, stay turned…but first tell you who you think I have in mind.

Personal Aside: Liberal Control Over Expression and Thought Spells….

Language Tyranny.

The trouble with liberalism today…as distinct from yesterday…is that it exerts control over expression and thought that interferes with candor, free speech, academic freedom and even, incredibly, freedom of assembly (as I describe below in “Flashback.”). Originally employed, to correct scatological descriptions of race or gender…downplaying the “n” word for example…it served a purpose. It never had a reputable history—never. But then as our liberal friends always do, they carried it to extremes. For a time the word “lady” was downgraded for “woman,” but now, mercifully, is back…although the phrase, “let me help you with that heavy package, little lady” is regarded as hopelessly dinosaur-ish.

Thanks to liberal tyranny over language, whites must be very-very circumspect in how they use the word “boy” in whatever sentence formulation before black males, no matter how unintentional. I remember a white senior Quaker executive who had spent a lot of time raising funds for the United Negro College Fund using the word “boy” in joshing… “now, sit down and be a good boy”… in jest to black Vernon Jordan while all of us felt uncomfortable that the executive had forgotten himself (Jordon took no umbrage but we felt embarrassed, thus showing how prevalent liberal language tyranny is). Bob Dole was needlessly humiliated in 1996 while addressing a black audience and saying inadvertently, “let’s call a spade a spade.” The onus is always on the speaker rather than the liberal-coined code that abolishes forms of language.

These examples are carrying political tyranny over language to absurdity—and I’d like to break it. In World War II after we were attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, it became commonplace to call our enemies “Japs.” Well, viewed strictly, is the word “Jap” so offensive because it objectively is…or because we are told it is? I personally feel no shame at using the word since the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. “Polack” is used without condemnation because the Poles obviously don’t have a large pressure group. “Kraut” is occasionally used for Germans (which is my paternal nationality) but there is no backlash because Germans don’t own a pressure group. It is interesting to see that “The Sopranos” and the three “Godfather” films feature Italian mobsters but there is no derogative use of “dago” or “teameo”, words used against Italians. But the “n” word is and will forevermore justifiably be regarded as a term of derogation because it has a long history as such; not “Jap” I shouldn’t think. Jap should stay as long as there is memory of Pearl Harbor.

In the early civil rights days…at least when I hung around with Hosea Williams in Atlanta in the second Andrew Young campaign…whites were called “chalkies” by blacks in the South. I was called one by him jocularly and didn’t take offense; rather liked it. Use of the word has died out now but I wouldn’t mind if it were resurrected. Likewise, the word “Negro” was given great prominence in the early 1960s over “colored people”…still in use as the “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People” —but then somebody…I don’t know whom…ruled that “colored people” should be supplanted by “Negro” which in turn should be supplanted by the word “black.” Still, “persons of color” is highly recommended for usage.

Then His High Mightiness Jesse Jackson (of course) ordered that the term “black” be supplemented by “African American.” Why “African American”? Why not just “African”? Because the Reverend had ordained it, obviously: no other reason.

Once I used the word “mulatto” in describing Barack Obama and was condemned for it. I could have said mixed race—but why not mulatto? He is the product of a black father and white mother. I am the product of a German father and Irish mother but there is no single word to describe this as there is between mixed race such as mulatto. So I have merrily gone on using some of these words—not the “n” one—because I resent having to check with the liberals’ latest issued glossary every day to see what word I am allowed to use. They are the arch-liberal language tyrants.

The most egregiously vile use of liberal tyranny over language occurred in the last election campaign against Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) when on August 11, 2006 he saw S. R. Sidarth, a video “tracker” who was following him taking videos for use by Allen’s opponent, Jim Webb. Pointing him out, Allen called him a “Maccaca or whatever he is.” I swear the designation was unknown to 99.9% of the American people but it is regarded as a term of derogation used in francophone African nations equivalent to the word “monkey.” Speculation grew that Allen may have heard from his mother who was born a francophone in French Tunisia. Then followed some of Allen’s old teammates at the University of Virginia who said in the 1970s he was using the “n” word frequently. Followed by a question he received at a dinner where he was asked if his mother was Jewish…meaning that under the Hebraic law if one’s mother is Jewish you are Jewish. That being true, Allen is and has been reared an evangelical Christian. He responded with some indignation which worsened the issue, some Jews believing he was dissing his heritage.

.His mother, Harriet Lumbroso was a Sepharic Jew and Allen later sought to recover by saying that he was disinclined to announce this because of some discrimination that might be visited upon his mother’s relatives in Tunisia. Not really believable. At any rate he came across as needlessly defensive, of his use of “Macacca,” his possible former use of the “n” word in the 1970s and his mother’s Jewish heritage. At any rate, Allen lost the election…and a chance at the 2008 presidency… quite possibly due to “Maccaca” and his immediate evasion at being called Jewish…but more probably because of the Iraq War and the effective criticism of it by Webb who was a Vietnam hero and novelist as well as Reagan’s secretary of the navy.

The word gay is an old, honorable word. But now you can’t even put it in quotations when referring to homosexuals because they have adopted it as theirs so no quotation marks are allowed…e.g. “He is gay.” That word has been abolished from the lexicon except for special interest exclusive use. By order of the High Exalted Church of Secular Liberalism.

Now political opponents of Barack Obama for president have lunged at his staff’s use of the word “Punjab” in connection with Hillary Clinton…and joined by the liberal media, of course, who reject any defense of it by assailing the defenders as themselves being soft on bigotry. This, quite frankly, is the most outrageously contrived reason for so-called racism that can be found. Only a fervid liberal community seeking more sacred cows would move on this issue.

It has to do with Obama’s campaign circulating a document critical of President and Sen. Clinton’s link to India so as to portray Sen. Clinton as having a poor record in opposing outsourcing and protecting American jobs. Understand that Sen. Clinton herself, speaking at a fund-raiser hosted by a major Indian-American supporter said, “I can certainly run for the Senate seat in Punjab and win easily.” She having said it and having undergone no criticism, the Obama staff turned out a campaign document headlined: “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)’s Personal Financial and Political Ties.” It detailed Bill Clinton’s holdings in an Indian bill payment company as well as the fact that he collected $300,000 for paid speeches from Cisco Systems, a company thast has shifted hundreds of jobs from America to India. Also the fact that Sen. Clinton is co-chair of the Senate India Caucus.

Nothing wrong with the idea or concept whatsoever; it is adequate grounds for political discourse. But not for the latter-day liberal language tyrants. To write this is to smack of…ugh…bigotry. Racism. All bowing down to some U. S.-Indian pressure group with a PAC that wants to silence favoritism to its origins…and liberal tyrants go along.

The liberal tyranny of language carries a gag rule to an absurd degree. The height of ridiculousness came several years ago when a city council member in Washington, D. C. said that the new mayor’s budget was “niggardly” in human services…causing one key black staff member to threaten to resign because of racism. The city council member was indeed ignorant of language but the mayor…a black man himself…was admonished not to use the term because at least one person took offense.

What language tyranny of today underscores is this: today’s liberals have very few absolutes so restrictions on language absorb the slack. You can criticize elements of the Judeo-Christian moral code and receive no opprobrium from liberals. You can freely criticize patriotism as being jingoistic. Or the flag. Or patriotic speeches. Or books on history that glorify our ancestors. Catholics are targets for any elitist snob’s sophistry.

Not Indian-Americans for now. That’s why this absurdity should be ended by journalists and others. They should declare they will re-utilize words that out of cowardice have been discarded in obedience to the Great Liberal Law of Language Tyranny.

Tell me what other words you feel should be sprung free from the isolation booth where they are held prisoner by the Liberal Language Tyranny.