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 GOP’s 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 can’t answer. “The Weavers” who sang (I think I’m right about this) the first Goodnight, Irene song also sang a song “I’ll see you in my dreams” which was bowdlerized from “I’ll get you in my dreams” but introduced by…..whom? Got me.

Jack Franks.

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 do—but 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, I’ll have three guests instead of the usual two—the others being arranged even as we speak.

GOP “Impeach”.

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 Blagojevich’s “impeachment.” Unless they want to make themselves look more ridiculous than they already do…since they—outside of Tom Cross—have not come out with an alternative budget or counter-proposal of any sort to the governor’s 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 that—an Illinois liberal Democratic government that is functional under the regime of Governor Pat Quinn…who (a) knows what he’s doing and (b) makes a much better case for his lefty philosophy than does Blagojevich.

JFK Disneyworld.

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 do—which 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.

I’ve 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 Democrats—when 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. Kennedy’s greatness…using a story in “Time’ as a guidepost. I don’t 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. Castro’s 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 credit—but 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 Kennedy’s credit given that the threat in the first place came from Kennedy’s mistake at the Bay of Pigs. After goofing up foreign policy with the “Bay of Pigs,” JFK did become cautious: damn right. Cautious about everything—civil 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: don’t rock the boat while we are facing down the Soviets. Greeley’s charge that the GOP condemned JFK’s “restraint” is total Disneyland.

3. The establishment media never liked Kennedy, an Irish Catholic from Boston.
Now that’s the height of ridiculousness, isn’t 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 they’re after him—an 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. Kennedy’s 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 Kennedy’s death. The idea that the establishment never liked Kennedy because he was a Catholic is Greeley’s 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 Eisenhower’s 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. Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate was “grandstanding.” He means “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Neither Kennedy’s nor Reagan’s 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 Reagan’s 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 Reagan’s grandstanding…”
Oh, Andy, stuff a sock in it. The record of who won the Cold War is very clear and it wasn’t 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 didn’t grow tired of it. On the contrary with the firing of MacArthur there was a great drive to win it stemming from Mac Arthur’s 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 war—only 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 4—the 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? You’d have to stretch to justify 1 and 2 and 4 was highly specious.

By this dictum was Kennedy’s 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 isn’t covered by “Jus Ad Bellum” and Kennedy certainly didn’t hold back because it wasn’t. Other conditions don’t 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.


  1. Does Fr. Greeley have a ministry? As long as I've known of him he's been a secular person, writing novels, opinion columns and teaching sociology in college.

    It seems the Sun Times like him as a priest who speaks against the direction of the Catholic Church.

    In my opinion, Greeley isn't a Catholic priest if he doesn't do the work of the Church. If you meet a non-practicing attorney, you don't ask him for legal advice. If you want the opinion of a priest, you don't go to a romance novelist.

  2. Donald J. SkaggsJuly 10, 2007 at 9:11 AM

    I see Kjellander is no longer treasurer of the RNC. Is he still IL commiteman?WLYJF

  3. Tom, you called it once again, this time on one of the Hancock's most famous residents, Greeley. Unfortunately, there are multitudes that share his attitude toward JFK and so on that reason is impossible. Facts mean nothing to them. Also, is it not true that meatless Fridays originally came as a PR move to promote the New England fishing industry and was not picked up by the Vatican until years later? I have heard that. Please set the record straight if you know. Thanks, as always.

  4. If you want the phones to light up, forget Franks. Have Schaumburg St Rep Froehlich on as your Democrat.

  5. Tom-
    As I remember, The Weavers were semi-communists of the Pete Seger ilk. Maybe I'm wrong, but I was never impressed by their warblings.

    As to the USA Catholics "inventing" meatless Fridays to please the New England fishermen, that is the greatest laugh I've had all day.

    Your correspondent obviously doesn't know that New England was until around
    about 1830-40 a bastion of the protestant faiths, especially what is now termed Congregationalist, with also Quakers, Calvinists, etc.

    "No Dogs Nor Irish Need Apply" was often posted in this cradle of liberty.

  6. I never suggested the USA Catholics did anything to help the New England fishing industry. Nor did I ever suggest the two movements were contemporaneous, (and I do not know how you could have derived that from my post.) I had heard that New England fishermen originally created this promotion to advance their industry, and the Church picked up the same concept later as a way to demonstrate sacrifice.

    I am more than aware of New England's history. My point was, I heard that "meatless" Fridays were originally invented by the New England fishing industry for commercial purposes , and the Church's observation of same was a later development,(of course, unrelated to trade purposes.)

    If I am incorrect on that, let me know; but my post was mischaracterized.

  7. Tom, I agree. The impeach Blago thing is complete and utter nonsense.

    There are no valid legal grounds for starters. And the hypocricy is just too much. Our GOP never said a peep on the subject when it came to our own George Ryan (and there likely were valid legal grounds in that case), and then we still have senior George Ryan people still in senior posts running our State Party. Plus we won't even oust Kjellander (Individual K)from an internal party post.

    The handful of reckless hypocrites pushing this should really stop throwing the rocks in their glass house.