Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Personal Asides: Frank Nofsinger Wins but Eric Zorn Has a Challenge .Jack Franks May be Third Guest on My Radio Show Sunday The GOPs Blago Impeach Nonsense Fr. Greeley and the JFK Disneyworld Fantasy.
Connecticut contributor Frank Nofsinger wins the Goodnight, Irene trivia. One winning line: Gonna take another strong downtown. Another: Gonna jump in the river and drown. Many others sent the right words including Rich Manak. Good show.
Trib columnist and blogger who originally got me excited about blogging (which he possibly deeply regrets) Eric Zorn answers the trivia and submits one of his own another verse from Goodnight, Irene.
Stop your ramblin, stop your gamblin/
Stop stayin out late at night/
Go home to your wife and family/
To which from memory I submit: And stay by your fireside bright. Maybe wrong.
Eric also asks a question which I cant answer. The Weavers who sang (I think Im right about this) the first Goodnight, Irene song also sang a song Ill see you in my dreams which was bowdlerized from Ill get you in my dreams but introduced by ..whom? Got me.
State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) may well be on Political Shootout Sunday night but his plans are uncertain. He will be in Washington, D. C. to meet with Sen. Hillary Clinton in connection with his becoming chairman of the Illinois Hillary Clinton for President campaign. As Jack is also a key member of the Illinois House chairman of the Government Affairs committee chairman (so named by Mike Madigan) of the Committee of the Whole he has a lot to dobut his plane may just arrive back in Chicago from Washington on Sunday to enable him to participate in the WLS show (8 p.m.). If he can make it, Ill have three guests instead of the usual twothe others being arranged even as we speak.
Just because the Democrats cannot govern is no reason for the Republicans to make themselves appear to be opportunists and worse by introducing bills for Governor Blagojevichs impeachment. Unless they want to make themselves look more ridiculous than they already do since theyoutside of Tom Crosshave not come out with an alternative budget or counter-proposal of any sort to the governors positions except to wring their hands and chorus that everything looks awful.
The Illinois liberal Democratic government is non-functional but there is one thing worse than thatan Illinois liberal Democratic government that is functional under the regime of Governor Pat Quinn who (a) knows what hes doing and (b) makes a much better case for his lefty philosophy than does Blagojevich.
Fr. Andrew Greeley is just about alone among his generation for glorifying everything Democratic and finding anti-Catholicism lurking behind every sofa. A 78-year-old relic from the days when Catholics were ghettoized called fish-eaters and mackerel-snappers were thought to be insufficiently patriotic because they followed the Pope in Rome he carries that memory painfully so it colors even the sensible things he has to dowhich are seldom enough enunciated. The first time I met Greeley when we were both age 13 and he was going to Quigley, I realized that from the cut of his jib. As a man of 78 myself, I and many colleagues like me never felt we were ghettoized in fact was very proud of the unique differences we had: i.e. the black smudge on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday the abstention from meat on Friday the sign of the cross which so many of us foolishly made as we came up to bat. Evidently Andy was pained by all this and his career has been to advocate that Catholics melt indistinguishably into the crowd. Now Catholics are indistinguishable in the crowd but rather than being glad, Andy is rubbing his scabs for the good old days of martyrdom when in his lopsided view we stood alone.
Ive always thought Andy starts first as an Irishman bitter at Britain and the Brahmins who treated the Irish as servants then as a Democrat bitter at Republicans and big business which he is in highly charged emotion believe are against Democratswhen in reality at least 50% of modern business executives are Democrats and liberals. Not to Andy. He is in his own pecularized time warp.
Friday, in his pathetic partisan offering last week masquerading as analysis, Andy instructs us of John F. Kennedys greatness using a story in Time as a guidepost. I dont know what it said since I have long discarded Time as a reputable magazine but Andy we will always have with us.
Friday, Andy started once again to deify JFK, the quintessential Irishman, Democrat and so-called martyr to the establishment. The concept is hilarious. It is a carry-through from the hagiography of the publicitors JFK had around him: Arthur Schlesinger the historian who became a courtesan in return for the dollies that the Kennedys left for him after they were sated John Kenneth Galbraith, the economist who never spurned higher spending or tax hikes Ted Sorenson who lectured for me at Northwestern who ghost-wrote and ghost-thought for the Master. They all got something out of it: Schlesinger the women discards Galbraith an ambassadorship Sorenson some fame and the appointment as CIA director from the most incompetent modern president, Jimmy Carter (which appointment he had to decline because his post-JFK radicality on Vietnam would have made him impossible to confirm).
Poor Andy carries the flame but he has received nothing. So he continues with a vision of JFK that is as realistic as Disneyworld as fellow Chicagoan Joe Epstein phrases it yesterday in The Wall Street Journal. Here are the fallacious points that Andy makes about JFK.
1. Caution made him a great leader. That was caution all right on April 17, 1961 when he sent 1,500 Cuban exiles trained and armed by the CIA to invade Cuba at Cochinos Bay (Bay of Pigs). Invaders were told that U. S. forces would follow. They never came. Castros tanks and troops held them off at the sea making it impossible for them to make a beachhead on the shore. After three days of fighting, 1,100 survivors surrendered; we paid Cuba $53 million in food and medical supplies for their release. The JFK publicity machine blamed Eisenhower for it although it was executed by the Lost Prince of Camelot. The media were sold that this mistake sobered JFK and made him grow in office. The Bay of Pigs emboldened the USSR to think JFK was a pushover and so it built nuclear bases in Cuba capable of striking the eastern two-thirds of the U. S.
Thus the Cuban Missile Crisis was a direct result of the Bay of Pigs. The media was sold the idea that we were eyeball to eyeball with the Russians and they blinked. They removed the missiles in exchange for our pledge not to invade Cuba. Three months later we removed our missiles from Italy and Turkey secretly. This this nation believed and still does that JFK was the hero. Since we avoided a nuclear holocaust, he deserves creditbut that the Cuban missile crisis happened at all was due to the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Our emergence without a war can be laid to Kennedys credit given that the threat in the first place came from Kennedys mistake at the Bay of Pigs. After goofing up foreign policy with the Bay of Pigs, JFK did become cautious: damn right. Cautious about everythingcivil rights, the Berlin crisis of 1961 where the Soviets built the Berlin wall. He led by increments but for the Bay of Pigs.
2. Conservatives and Republicans condemned Kennedy for his restraint. Not so. I was in close touch with Rep. Walter H. Judd (R-Minn.), who, as ranking member of House Foreign Affairs, was the leading spokesman in Congress, having worked for him earlier. Republicans cooperated with Kennedy in verifying what was at one time a rumor of the Cuban missiles. The first news of the missiles came not to the JFK White House but to Sen. Kenneth Keating (R-N.Y.) who, when he was in the House was a close ally of Judd. Keating and Judd made the news known to Kennedy and supported the White House efforts on the Cuban Missile crisis. As an assistant to the governor of Minnesota who was in close touch with Gov. Nelson Rockefeller who was preparing to run against Kennedy in 1964, the word was: dont rock the boat while we are facing down the Soviets. Greeleys charge that the GOP condemned JFKs restraint is total Disneyland.
3. The establishment media never liked Kennedy, an Irish Catholic from Boston. Now thats the height of ridiculousness, isnt it? I guess this makes Andy feel good the establishment was after Irish Catholic Kennedy and the Democrats in the same manner that Andy fancies theyre after himan Irish Catholic Democrat. In his dreams. What a laugh! No modern president FDR included has had the benefit of such adulatory news coverage as Kennedy. Kennedys escapades with women were kept quiet by the establishment media as Ben Bradlee, later editor of The Washington Post, as he himself revealed in a book after Kennedys death. The idea that the establishment never liked Kennedy because he was a Catholic is Greeleys fantasy. And the fact that the establishment is after Greeley who has become a multi-millionaire for his soft-core novels is another fantasy.
4. Kennedy would not have escalated the Vietnam War. No one knows but there is utterly no reason to believe that Kennedy who escalated the troops in Vietnam from Eisenhowers 750 to 16,000 was a closet dove.
5. [H]is behavior on those critical days in May, 1963 entitles him to the title of a great president. Now what was that, exactly? It was the speech at the Wall: All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin and therefore as a free man I take pride in the words `Ich bin ein Berliner. A memorable speech; brilliant, actually. But the speech while influential could certify that either president was great.
6. Reagans speech at the Brandenburg Gate was grandstanding. He means Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! Neither Kennedys nor Reagans speeches were Gettysburg quality. But Reagan persisted against protest of nuclear freeze advocates (like Andy) and the heat he took by deploying Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe in December, 1983 despite critics like Andy. With the Soviet economy in a shambles, Gorbachev could not match Reagans push for Star Wars and other expenditures. In December, 1988 during a visit to the U. S. Gorbachev declared an unprecedented unilateral reduction in Soviet armed forces and vowed to withdraw significant numbers of tanks and troops from eastern Europe.
7. It was this long tradition of restraint, of which the missile crisis was the high point, that eventually won the Cold War and not President Reagans grandstanding Oh, Andy, stuff a sock in it. The record of who won the Cold War is very clear and it wasnt John F. Kennedy.
8. Upon reflection, I realized that the country had fought a lot of wars, most of them against pushover enemies: Indians, Mexico, Spain, Panama, Grenada. But when the country stumbled into a war that it could not end quickly, the public lost interest and then rejected the war: Korea, Vietnam, Japan in 1945 before the bomb. Even the Revolution until the French came along. Where do you begin? Wars against Indians were enduring and Americans stuck with it. The American people did not grow tired of the war with Japan before the bomb. The country was single-minded and if there was any controversy it was that we were concentrating on winning the war in Europe first rather than in Asia where we were attacked. The Korean War was undeclared by Truman and could even be called unwarranted in view of its history; it started off on an unpopular note but the people didnt grow tired of it. On the contrary with the firing of MacArthur there was a great drive to win it stemming from Mac Arthurs stem-winding speech to Congress. I will grant Vietnam became unpopular and Panama and Grenada were small voltage ones. So?
10. Kennedy, whether he knew it or not, was following the Catholic teaching on waronly when there is absolutely no other choice. Well, that is unverifiable. The four conditions of Jus Ad Bellum which we learned in theology are 1. The damage inflicted by the aggressor must be lasting, grave and certain. 2. All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective. 3. There must be serious prospects of success. And 4the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. Frankly, was our entry into World War II with all the maneuvering FDR used prior to Pearl Harbor concomitant to the four conditions? Youd have to stretch to justify 1 and 2 and 4 was highly specious.
By this dictum was Kennedys sending 16,000 men to Vietnam after Ike had sent 700 or so consistent? I think not nor do I worry particularly that it was not. The reigning philosophy articulated by the domino theory described by Eisenhower was that communist aggression anywhere was a threat to world peace. That isnt covered by Jus Ad Bellum and Kennedy certainly didnt hold back because it wasnt. Other conditions dont seem to apply.
Our problem is that with the war on terrorism, the Jus Ad Bellum does not apply and theologians should take into account the modern techniques of terrorism the fact that those waging war on us are not combatants but terrorists as per 9/11. All of this would warrant a preemptive strike whenever or wherever it would seem prudent.
Aside from these things, hey, Andy did a good job.