Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Personal Aside: Two Political Events-My-Dear-Boy: Vallas and Wright.


I: The Non-Announcement.

It was a typical political tease. A proven administrator with boundless energy leaps up to the rostrum and executes an enthusiastic stream-of-consciousness about his goals and objectives. He was greeted with a standing ovation and when he completed his breathless talk, the audience arose to its feet again. Midway in the talk he gave a gentle slip…which was not a slip really but was intended to be such…that if he talked too long he would “lose votes” in the future. Everyone applauded and nodded while he softly declaimed and said it was a slip of the lip. This was Paul Vallas, a friend of mine, at the City Club of Chicago of which I’m chairman. Jay Doherty, City Club president who has instilled energy and vision into the Club had been deeply involved in Vallas’ prior campaign in 2002 for the Democratic nomination—which he lost by inches.

Probably the most significant thing Vallas said was not fully amplified by the media which covered it as a major league event (which it was). At least the major newspapers didn’t cover it. Vallas opined that if…if…he were to run for governor again, he would campaign fore-square for educational choice since he would do nothing for political accommodation that could possibly hurt school children. The heavily Democratic component in the audience did not give him an applause at that point because as everyone knows, the teachers unions have held that party’s educational programs in a hammer lock and vouchers or educational choice…the granting of state aid to students enabling them to go to private or public schools…is regarded as a disincentive to public education by that lobby. I watched Zoe Mikva, the ex-congressman, ex-appellate judge’s wife, at that point. She batted not an eye.

Vallas noticed the air going out of the balloon temporarily (it returned soon after) and leaned across the rostrum and asked me if this means that the Republican party would support his candidacy. Of course! I said but I have no idea really if it would. There are other things of interest to Republicans than vouchers or educational choice. Social programs are one and in his race in 2002 Vallas didn’t budge on abortion or any of the issues of interest to social conservatives—but it is fair to say neither did he as a candidate hustle them with the energy that Rod Blagojevich did.

Nevertheless, there are several aspects about the Vallas presumptive candidacy that are interesting.

First, he makes it clear that he will finish his contract as chief of public schools in New Orleans before he can decide his future. That contract ends next year which is coincident with the year’s grace that a candidate will have to have to run an acceptable campaign for governor in 2010. He is interested in appearing on my radio show via telephone hookup at a future time which of course would be highly appropriate. But his signaling his likely intentions now will lead House Speaker Mike Madigan who has a daughter potentially in this race to…do what?

Second, Paul Vallas was an outstanding campaigner in 2002 with one flaw. It was his refusal to fly. He despises flying; it is a phobia that grips many people. But the 2002 campaign was severely limited by this malady…if I can call it that. Transporting a candidate downstate and then back to northern Illinois is insuperable with wheels and not aircraft. I suppose one could negotiate it by scheduling events at a clump here and downstate so he accomplishes them in a workmanlike way. But as all of us who have been in campaigns now, events…my dear boy…events…occur that necessitate quick trips to Chicago or other outlying sections of the state. Finally, were he to become governor, how would he handle necessary trips on occasion to Washington, D. C., to testify in behalf of, meet with key agency heads. Would he have to be driven there? Is it possible he can overcome this severe disinclination to fly?

Third, magnificently equipped candidate he is…a former city budget chief, a former top aide on budget to Sen. Phil Rock who was the longest-serving state senate president…what about financing his campaign? Paul Vallas is not an independently wealthy man. We know the perils that befall campaign funding especially in this cesspool environment that Rod Blagojevich has left as legacy. If he runs again (barring an indictment) the governor will have a hefty fund of many millions for his campaign. Dollars are not the indispensable ingredient but how will Paul…a clean, honest, I believe incorruptible man…manage in the battle for funds?

Fourth, I suppose I should know this but the legend of how Paul Vallas improved the Chicago school system has not dawned on me yet. I always keep hearing how the grade scores are mired in mediocrity. I am not aware that for all the hard work Paul has provided, the city schools are a shining exemplar…are they? Or am I wrong?

Fifth, was his overture made from the rostrum that perhaps…just perhaps…there could be a place for him in the Republican party, an intriguing flirt—or does it have substance? There are several well-qualified names that have been raised as Republican candidates. If it is to be assumed that a Vallas would have to face a hefty battery of challengers in the Democratic side, it is also to be ascertained that he would face a group of similarly equipped people on the Republican side. If he is serious about a party switch…and I frankly don’t think for a second he is…he has to weigh the alternatives.

I suppose it is always great to have a policy wonk run for office because you know he won’t be controlled by other policy wonks. For that reason, I would love to see Paul Vallas run and be opposed by a Republican policy wonk who would not need to resort to bumper-sticker mentality to get his points across.

II: The Anti-Obama Wright.

When Barack Obama made his Philadelphia speech which many heralded, I was a dissenter because I saw the impossibility of his being able to mediate between the ranting racist raves of Jeremiah Wright and reason. Impossibly, Obama decided to do just that. He announced that he could no more repudiate Wright that he could the black community. That nonsense became a total disaster. For one thing, Obama was implying that the black community was joined at the hip with this demagogue!

I said that the prudent thing for Obama to have done is to blame himself for not becoming aware of Wright’s intransigent racism earlier but now that he has become aware, he was severing connection with Wright and the congregation. That is unconventional politics but for Obama it would have been the only prudent course to follow. He would not lose many votes doing this and the statement would have protected him from a future eventuality which happened earlier this week.

That was when Wright did the inevitable. He moved so far to extremism that barring his ability to excite an immature and emotional crowd of adult-children, he could cause no harm to Obama whatever. Now Obama is typically going half-way. He is excoriating Wright, not shim-shamming him.

The positive thing that has happened in the rupture with Wright is that this devil is being exorcised. If the media follow suit, the next rants by Wright will be downplayed…which will interfere with Wright’s very cynical stratagem: to become the leading black demagogue and thereby reap the rewards of a profitable book deal, big speaking fees and national celebrity. Ostensibly this rupture will not hurt Obama at all and will in fact aid him since he has no reason whatever to fool around any further with this racial racketeer.

But with this episode we have learned much about Barack Obama. He has the courage of a mashed potato sandwich. He wants to become mediator-in-chief. He has failed in his first test by not understanding the nature of his enemy. His desire to take this mediator-in-chief on tour to Iran and Syria shows its folly. He who can’t apprise his own community has no call to pretend he can do so for the world.

Personal Aside: The Two Reasons Jeremiah Wright is Punishing Obama….and What Can Obama Do Now About this Guy?...Mary, the Mother of God?


Two Reasons.

Knowledgeable African Americans, some of whom attend Trinity United Church of Christ, tell me that there are two reasons why the former pastor Jeremiah Wright is punishing Barack Obama and endangering his campaign for the presidency by Wright’s racist vitriol.

Central is the fact that Wright has now gained a national media presence which means (a) a book with lavish proceeds, (b) paid speeches and (c) folklore celebrity as the nation’s angriest black. Up to now Wright was the well-received minister who is not entirely singular in the black community since hating whitey is a sure-fire way to build a congregation. The proceeds from a prospective book and the lavish honoraria he can draw would make Wright a very-very rich angry black man.

Second, I am told that Wright has a definite animus now against Obama. The bad blood started when Obama cancelled an appearance by Wright at Obama’s announcement. Wright got the impression that Obama wanted it both ways—to capitalize on black anger at whitey in order to set the African American grassroots afire…and distance from Wright so that Obama can continue as the moderate, the youthful member of the post-civil rights generation typifying a new day dawning in race relations.

The thought that Obama and Wright are close today is totally unrealistic, especially after Wright’s continuing to stir up race animosity as with his incendiary speech to the NAACP where he spoke before an audience that included Marion Barry, Cornel West, Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther party and Jamil Muhammad of the Nation of Islam. In the speech Wright praised Louis Farrakhan, announced that Zionism is racism, branded the U. S. as a terrorist nation and reiterated his view that the government created the AIDS virus to cause the genocide of racial minorities. He wants nothing less to capture the role of chief spokesman for the black church in America.

He dissed Obama by implication, referring to Obama’s Philadelphia speech saying “we both know that if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected.” About Louis Farrakhan he said: “Louis said 20 years ago thqt Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion. He was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter is being vilified for and Bishop Tutu’s being vilified for. And everybody wants to paint me as if I’m anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago. He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century. That’s what I think about him….Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains; he did not put me in slavery and he didn’t make me this color.”

What Now?

It is obvious that Obama made a grievous mistake in handling the Wright crisis. In his Philadelphia speech he ambiguously disengaged from the ranting racist minister while at the same time refusing to disown him, saying that he could no more disown Wright than he could disown the black community.

The time has come when if Obama wants to save his campaign from extinction in the general election, he has to disown Wright and disown those who agree with Wright. With many churchgoers like those crowding into Trinity and into the NAACP, a rant like Wright gives an occasion to act like children when a fellow classmate taunts the school principal—jump up and down, bounce off the walls and play mistreated rabble, specious in hyperbole (“in chains”) and self-hatred (“he didn’t make me this color”). And white radicals share in this as well, witness our blond act-up adolescent, Fr. Michael Pfleger. In fact it is a childish and churlish behavior produced by a subset that has had far too much done for them and far too many allowances made for misbehavior—the trademarks of the white, affluent guilt-ridden liberal. I shucked my liberal guilt a long time ago. The Democratic party, held captive by angry militants, is becoming a worthless vehicle by tolerating this Wright-Farrakhan-anti Semitic stuff.

The ball is in Obama’s court. We’ll see what he’s made of…this man who presents himself as the leader of the future. You have said you’re going to lead us to a new unity when you are president, Barack. Well you’re not president yet but already you’ve got a revolution of bigotry and racism on your hands—and what are you going to do about it? Straddle? Waffle? Or what?

Mary, the Mother of God?

To imply that Mary cannot be the Mother of God because Sacred Scripture does not use those explicit words is an unsatisfactory explanation. The Trinity, for example: nowhere is it found in the Bible, yet it is the preeminent doctrine of Christianity. Beyond that, using pure logic, “Bookworm” is right. Mary is the Mother of God because Jesus Christ, her Son is God. Moreover the prophetic text of Isaiah 7:14 just about covers it. Written more than 700 years before the birth of Christ, it prophesied that the Messiah was to be born of a woman and yet he was to be “God with us.”

Anticipating a future question, when I say Mary is the Mother of God does this mean that “if God is Trinity and Mary is the Mother of God, she is the Mother of the Trinity?” Nope. By saying Mary is the Mother of God, we are not saying Mary is the source of the divine nature among the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity—nor is she the source of the divine nature of the second Person of the Trinity incarnate. Here’s an analogy. My wife Lillian is the mother of our four children—but this is no way implies that she is the source of their immortal souls. God directly and immediately created their souls as He does with every human being. Nor does this mean that Lillian is merely “the mother of their bodies.” She is the mother of all four, period. She did not give birth to a body but to human persons who are body and soul composite. Meaning that though Mary did not provide Jesus with His divine nature of His immortal human soul, she is still his Mother because she did not give birth to a body, a nature or even two natures—she gave birth to a Person. And that one Person is God. Thank you Thomas Aquinas!

The Coming of Age of Radicalism: 1966 in the Affluent North Shore Suburbs.

An article appearing last week in The Wanderer, the nation’s oldest national Catholic weekly.

By Thomas F. Roeser

CHICAGO—My first experience with the immediate predecessor of the Barack Obama “we-want-change-and-don’t-care-how-we-get-it” generation came in 1966. I was working for Quaker Oats as a public affairs officer (euphemism for lobbyist) and got involved, in deference to my CEO boss, with a group of young affluent types—staffers and volunteers--trying to elect Charles H. Percy to the U. S. Senate. The Vietnam war was hot and seemingly endless. A number of these children of affluence were embittered, angry at the war and chafed that they wanted change. What kind of change they didn’t know or care.

Percy was the wunderkind of upward, materialistic mobility, a young, (then 47) blond business executive who had started as a poor kid selling newspapers under the El tracks in Rogers Park during the Depression. While teaching Sunday school, he impressed and got virtually adopted by a wealthy guy owner of a small camera-manufacturing plant who saw Percy as the son he never had. He hired Percy after he got a University of Chicago BA degree. Percy’s suave salesmanship got the company invaluable federal government defense contracts which made Bell & Howell a big-time industry leader. The owner then made him heir, vice president and director of the company in one fell swoop at age 23. Promising Bell & Howell he’d come back, he enlisted in the Navy in World War II.

When Childe Chuck returned from the Navy he made CEO at 27, became a multi-millionaire at 31, hit the covers of Time and Fortune and turned into a world-famed salesman for free trade. Thereupon he became (a) a liberal Republican--meaning an internationalist and “compassionate” regarding the disadvantaged as well as an early supporter of Planned Parenthood; (b) a regular staple in the media, a model for everything the “socially responsible, progressive, new wave of Rockefeller Republicans should be” and (c) a guiding star for those youthful ambitious liberals who sorely wanted to imitate his career. But there was a sprinkling of early radicals included. Those who talked change but didn’t define what the change would be.

Because of an affected eastern accent, resonantly-attested support for more governmental help for “the poor” and contradictorily wearing a hearing aid although a Christian Scientist, Percy struck me early as a 14 carat phony. His daughter marrying a Rockefeller helped him with the then influential eastern seaboard Republicans immensely. Sharon married Jay, who flitted interminably around during the Percy senatorial campaign and became the Democratic governor and senator from West Virginia, a cornpone state whose votes you could buy for 25 cents on the dollar just as his uncle Winthrop had done in Arkansas.

As the corporate political officer, I was told to help Percy’s campaign--if I wanted to eat. Ah, yes. Put like that, the answer was easy. So I became familiar with a variety of would-be change agents, for the most part the affluent progeny of Big Business successes, vastly different from me in outlook--who looked disdainfully at that time at the workaday commercial processes that made their daddies rich.

They were rich (my parents weren’t). Their fathers were moguls i.e. the Galvins of Motorola, the Stuarts of Quaker Oats, the Ingersolls and Beres of Borg-Warner (mine was an ex-newspaperman turned travel agent). They matriculated at big name eastern universities (I went to St. John’s, a small Benedictine college in Minnesota). They were reared for the most part on the upper-crust North Shore near the Lake (I lived on the un-trendy bungalow belt of Chicago’s northwest side). They were either fashionably Presbyterian or Episcopalian (I am Catholic), Most of them spent spring breaks from their eastern colleges at Hobe Sound, Fla. and summers at the Cape. I clerked at in railway freight houses in Chicago. Well, one Spring break I drove with my folks to Waupaca, Wis..

Billy Ayes: Change Agent.

Most of the Percy political staffers continued being infected with their mild Protestant liberalism and receded once placed in corporate jobs--but for two radical exceptions. One was Diane Oughton, whose father was a wealthy stock broker, a denizen of the North Shore. Another: was Billy Ayres, the son of the socially prominent and corporately liberal Tom Ayres, CEO of Commonwealth Edison, the giant utility which had been founded by Samuel Insull to monopolize generation of electricity in Chicago and its exurbs. Billy Ayres was professedly interested in politics solely as an agent of change. Change for what? He really didn’t know. Nor did Oughton. Uninterested in history, unfettered by absolutes, bored by religious thought, they just wanted action—or locomotion. They got it.

Oughton and Ayres resemble many of the Obama generation--frankly uninterested in details or issues or history, bored with incremental change, hotly opposed to “lobbyists” and “exploitation.” They had absorbed a kind of ennui from their universities and wanted to “rumble” which was the word then used to produce seismographic eruption of change, not knowing or caring what disruption it would mean so long as it was a break from the past. Not long later Oughton and Ayres left for New York to join two Kathys: Bodine and Wilkerson.

Boudine, differing from her fellows by being born to a radical New York Jewish family was educated at fashionable Bryn Mawr where she studied medicine before dropping out, had studied in the Soviet Union the year preceding for which she was paid 75 rubles a month by the Soviet government for teaching on a collective farm (what she could possibly have taught Russian peasants is anybody’s guess). Wilkerson was also from New York, had gone to Swarthmore, had been consumed by civil rights voluble about “change” but so poetic about it she never really defined what she wanted.

After Percy got elected, Boudine, Wilkerson, Ayres and Oughton moved out of Chicago and became a team, They got heavily involved in the Weatherman Underground. Boudine described herself to one of her friends as a “fifth column” of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army. The Weathermen put into practice their love of change, bombing the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, the New York Police Benevolent Association, the New York Board of Corrections, the offices of several multinational companies.

Boudine returned to this city for the purpose of getting involved in the Days of Rage at an Oct. 8, 1969 rally in Chicago that was coordinated with the trial of the “Chicago 8” that fomented rebellion at the Democratic National convention. Two years later, she, Wilkerson and Oughton and two others moved into Wilkerson’s dad’s town house in Greenwich Village which she borrowed on a ruse while Pop was on vacation. It was a brownstone built by a founder of Merrill Lynch. They were making a pipe bomb in the basement intended to wreck a soldiers’ dance at Fort Dix, N. J. when it exploded prematurely killing three including Oughton. But the high octane of the explosion and the ruins of the pulverized house didn’t deter Boudine—although it did Wilkerson who went into hiding for 10 years, surrendering in 1980 and serving a year in prison.

Boudine achieved the maximum change in 1981 when at age 38 she and other members of the Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army robbed a Brinks armored car in Nanuet, N. Y. Having dropped her infant son off at a baby sitter’s as befitted a proper mom, she took over the wheel of the getaway vehicle, a U-Haul truck and waiting in a parking lot as her accomplices confronted the Brinks truck making a delivery. They leapt into the truck, wounding a guard and killing his co-worker. They took $1.6 million in cash and rendezvoused with Kathy. Police chased Kathy as she was driving the U-Haul and stopped her. She got out and feigned innocence to four police officers while the rest of her crew hid in the back. She convinced the cops to relax as they questioned her. Then her accomplices leaped out of the U-Haul and surprised the cops. One was killed. The gang scattered along with Boudin but were later apprehended.

In Bedford Hills, Connecticut facility, Boudine worked with AIDS patients and in adult education, devising teen programs to help adolescents whose mothers are incarcerated, a parent education program helping inmate mothers to be responsible parents, an adult literacy program and a college program which provides courses to incarcerated women. You will be interested to know that while incarcerated she published articles in the Harvard Educational Review and has become a published poet. While in stir, she pursued her advanced education as a doctoral student at the City University of New York. She was granted parole in August, 2003 and was released. She never expressed contrition, has been regarded as having masked her radical politics to gain freedom. She still wants change although no one really knows what change to her means.

Kathy Boudine, now 65, is still not interested in history or issues. She’s mute now, having testified before the parole--so we don’t know how she feels. Kathy Wilkerson now 62 with a grown daughter, is different. She has just written a memoir where she says “I abandoned myself to the sanctimoniousness of hating my enemies.” She’s completely contrite. That leaves Ayres and his famous consort now wife—Bernardine Dohrn.

The Sedate Hyde Park Couple: Ayres and Dohrn.

I met Billy Ayres a few times in the campaign, but saw his father, Tom often. The CEO of Commonwealth Edison, chairman of the board of Northwestern University and the Chicago Symphony orchestra, he was the mediator between Mayor Richard J. Daley and King when Martin Luther King marched in Cicero to protest segregation. Tom Ayres was ever-present when the chieftains of Chicago corporatocracy would dine at Room 100 in the Chicago Club and think up joint projects for their gofer (me) to report on to them at the next luncheon. After the Percy campaign, Billy also was dissatisfied with what passed as change, although he couldn’t define what change he wanted. So he joined the “Weathermen,” composed of radical leftists who split from the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), taking their name from the Bob Dylan song “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

The only strict rule of the Weathermen was they were to be polygamous and Ayres dallied a bit with Oughton and many others but after Oughton was killed in the bombing, settled down in old-fashioned monogamy with Bernardine Dohrn. Born in Milwaukee, an honors graduate from the University of Chicago and a J.D. at its law school, she had traveled to Cuba and met there with representatives of the North Vietnamese and Cuban governments.

Theirs was revolutionary love at first sight. They did such togetherness things as writing a Weatherman philosophy that read: “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents: that’s where it’s really at.” And since the family that bombed together stays together, they participated in such homey projects as establishing a “white fighting force” to help the “Black Liberation Movement,” issuing a “Declaration of War” against the U.S. government to achieve a classless world of communism and carrying out such projects as bombing government buildings.

Ayres and Dohrn were the Gold Dust twins, she often decked out in thigh-high boots and miniskirts. In 1968 after the Mansion family murders in Beverly Hills, Dohrn told an SDS audience admiringly: “Dig it! Manson killed those pigs. Then they ate dinner in the same room with them. Then they shoved a fork into a victim’s stomach!” In 1969 she was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. After she failed to appear in court both of them went underground. Later they were indicted for crossing state lines to incite a riot and for conspiracy to bomb police stations and government buildings.

Ayres and Dohrn were on the lam for ten years, turning themselves in to the law in 1980. All told they lived in 15 states (including Logan Square in Chicago) taking the names of dead infants who were born the same year as they, moving to safe houses of hospitality run by followers of Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh. They were never prosecuted despite their involvement in 25 bombings the Weather Underground boasted of--because the government violated the privacy of the two who bombed the Pentagon. I ask: bombers free because their civil liberties were infringed while they were trying to bomb away our liberties! Is this a great country or not?

“I don’t regret setting bombs,” Ayres told The New York Times in 2001. “I feel we didn’t do enough.” Now as residents of Hyde Park, Billy Ayres, 63 is a “distinguished” professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago and advocate of progressive education (what else?) and his wife, Dohrn, 66, is an associate professor of law at Northwestern, having earlier practiced law at the svelte Loop law firm Sidley & Austin.

They have been embraced by the liberal community of Hyde Park. It was at their house that retiring state senator Alice Palmer introduced them and their friends to her potential successor in the legislature, Barack Obama: community activist, lawyer and former president of the Harvard Law Review. Billy Ayres knew Obama well, having served on the Robert Wood Johnson foundation with him which dispensed monies for public health projects.

Hyde Park: Largely Protected from the Poor.

Where else could former bombers greet a liberal Democratic candidate but in Hyde Park, the largely wealthy University of Chicago neighborhood (1.65 miles), a core area grouped between 47th and 51st streets known often as “Hyde Park-Kenwood.”? Home to, in addition to the U of C, the Catholic Theological Union, a liberal seminary for 28 Catholic religious orders (not the archdiocesan seminary), the Chicago Theological Seminary (part of the United Church of Christ, Obama’s affiliation whose recently retired pastor cursed the United States) and the McCormick Theological Seminary (highly liberal Presbyterian).

Highly chic and highly tolerant of radicalism like New York’s Greenwich Village it is a protected community from racial riff-raff because of the University of Chicago’s controversial support of one of the largest urban renewal plans in the nation (the “Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference”) with “the goal of creating an interracial community of high standards.” Meaning quotas: no black poor need intrude. As result the community that was once threatened by ghetto intrusion saw its average income soar 70%, its black population decline by 40% with substandard housing purchased, torn down and replaced so that poor residents could not afford to remain while middle-class blacks were offered increased opportunities for employment and home ownership.

Result: an artificially managed “diverse” community which Barack Obama represented as a state senator. While other Chicago communities have to make do with the dislocation of poor into earlier middle-class neighborhoods, Hyde Park with its intelligentsia which preaches liberalism to the city is sacrosanct because of a quota goal that limits the poor. Thus does Barack Obama who talks change-change-change with no description of what is involved, who has not disowned a raving black racist pastor, whose description of middle class America shows condescension for them “clinging” to religion, guns and coldness to others who are not like them because of their “bitterness,” whose wife says she only became proud of America when voters supported her husband, is welcomed by two unrepentant bombers and a community that is encased in an artificial university-managed cocoon that has kept the riff-raff poor from intrusion.

When the word got out via ABC-TV’s debate that a key campaign meeting for Obama’s state senate run was held at the Ayres-Dohrn house, a furor engulfed the liberal community. Obama called it “a distraction.” Billy Ayres’ brother, Rick, called it “McCarthyism.” Both city daily newspapers complained editorially and liberals insisted it took the spotlight off Obama’s and Clinton’s views—but, of course, both are in agreement on all issues of substance.

And predictably, Obama supporter Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Catholic supporter of abortion rights and gay marriage—who can always be counted on to go with the liberal flow (unlike his father) joined in to the great praise of the news media. Ayres, he said, “worked with me in shaping our nationally renowned school reform program [sic] and is a valued member of the Chicago community.” Memo from me: I don’t know what school reform he’s talking about: after millions of dollars expended, Chicago is still near the nation’s bottom in literacy. But it sounds good.

Continued Daley: “I don’t condone what he did 40 years ago but I remember that period well.. It was a difficult time but those days are long over. I believe we have too many challenges in Chicago and our country to keep re-fighting 40-year-old battles.”

Daley, who wins by 70%, rents himself out cravenly on all liberal, even radical, issues. He doesn’t have to but is so panicky he might not get elected he feels he must. Had he stayed the course with his father’s beliefs he would still win—but by an estimated 68%, given the power of the machine and the beneficent giving of big business to his coffers. But he doesn’t believe in taking chances. So there he is—doing whatever it takes to garner the 70% even if he has to keep in stride with Ayres and Dohrn in order to win support from the Obama generation: Don’t talk to us about details or the past or history—but change-change-change. The Obama people can’t tell you what change they want. Daley can’t either.

The other day I interviewed a legendary Hyde Park liberal-radical on ABC radio, the dean of all Hyde Park liberals, former Alderman Leon Despres, who is 100 years old and still has all his buttons. To tell you how radical he was and is, he proudly attests that he brought a pile of fresh laundry to Mexico in 1939 to Leon Trotsky, the former second-in-command to Lenin who had fled there to save his life from a Stalin purge (Stalin finally to Trotsky by planting a mole in his staff and when Trotsky sat down to dinner and fastened his bib, the mole raised an axe and turned him into twins).

Before that, Despres gave Trosky clean clothes. And then he allowed Trotsky’s pal, famed muralist and active communist Diego Rivera to paint Despres’ wife’s portrait while Despres took Rivera’s wife the noted communist painter Frida Kahlo to the movies. Touching.

As he reminisced with me on the radio about Hyde Park , Despres said he wants to live long enough to be able to say that a president of the United States lived in Hyde Park. He meant Obama.

I didn’t have the heart to tell the wheel-chair bound centenarian that one already had. The only president to have lived in Chicago did so for two years as the toddler son of a shoe salesman at The Fair store on State street, a salesman with a severe drinking problem. The future president lived with his parents and year-older brother in a second-floor cold water flat in Hyde Park.

His name: Ronald Reagan.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Personal Asides: Answers on the Fig Tree…Theological Wonk Question 7…An Addendum to Chris Robling’s Astute Illinois Review Post.


The Fig Tree.

I’ve got to tell you Jesse Taylor is right—although everybody who wrote on this question made signal contributions. Leon Dixon was also on the mark. Fig trees in the Holy Land, scholars tell us, bear fruit twice a year, in June and in September. Jesus had come to Jerusalem for the Passover, which occurred on April 15. His encounter with the fig tree occurred the week before Passover. No fig tree would bear fruit that early. Mark tells us “It was not the time for figs”; Jesus knew that. The fig tree did have leaves. So it appears He did not go to the tree to get fruit. Scripture scholars reason that it was a diseased tree notwithstanding. Some scholars say Jesus “cursed” the tree; others maintain He did not but made a prediction. The event seems to have been meant as a symbol of the Jews of that day, which is why Jesse Taylor and Leon Dixon are right.

In the Old Testament, the fig tree is the favorite of all trees. It is the first tree mentioned in the Bible, in the account of the fall of Adam and Eve they “sewed fig leaves” to cover their nakedness [Gn 3:7]. Throughout the Old Testament, the fig tree is seen as the symbol of prosperity. The fig tree grows to a height of between 35 and 40 feet, has spreading branches and has broad, thick leaves which give shade in the summer. They are often planted in vineyards; they flourish in stony soil. The fruit can be eaten fresh or dried; dried figs are made up in cakes and were even applied for medicinal effects. Along with the vine, the olive and the pomegranate, the fig is one of the most common fruit trees in the Bible. ` The fig tree carries fruit for 10 months a year.

Christ’s announcement “May no fruit ever come from you again” was a judgment on His people and its interpretation has been criticized by later ecumenists. The fig tree served as symbol of God’s chosen people. The Messiah had come but His people did not recognize Him and were about to crucify Him. They were as spiritually barren as the fig tree was physically barren. Scripture scholar, the leading Catholic scholar of his time, John McKenzie SJ writes “the fig tree which is bearing no fruit is a symbol of an unbelieving Israel, which is cursed [McKenzie’s word] for its unbelief and remains barren.” Obviously this is not 21st century politically correct but there it is, in one interpretation anyhow. The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin disputed this in one of his trips to Jerusalem in company of Jewish rabbis and scholars.

McKenzie’s judgment is not flattering to the Jews but he was a first-ranking biblical scholar—and this seems to be the way it is in the judgment of many Christian scholars. Readers of divergent opinions and Jewish scholars may want to comment on this interpretation and indeed are welcome.

Catholic Theological Wonk Question 7: Mary, the “Mother of God”?

To say Mary is the “mother of God” is specious, many Protestant fundamentalist scholars say, because nowhere is the phrase contained in Scripture. The nearest thing to it is in Luke 1:43 where Elizabeth exclaims to Mary “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” It’s not the phrase “Mother of God” and Protestant fundamentalists say the text uses the Greek “kurios” in the sense of divinity at some times but also uses it in human contexts. Also, fundamentalist Protestants insist—rightly, it would seem—that God does not have a Mother since He always was and always will be. Without spending any research time or your search engine, if you insist on “Mother of God,” how would you explain it? This is a very tough one—so tough I think even Jesse Taylor might decide to punt. Your comments.

Chris Robling’s “Illinois Review” Post.

In the last several days in the “Illinois Review,” Chris Robling, a friend of mine for many years, has given an invaluable insight into the historical background of the institution that John Kass has aptly named “the Combine.” I urge you to read its two-parts. I quarrel with nothing he has written but would supply this addendum.

The “Combine” had its start in baby steps with the Richard B. Ogilvie administrations both as Cook county president and as governor of Illinois. Prior to that time, young people particularly worked in politics for awhile, took state jobs and then drifted off to the private sector. Think back and see if you can identify any ex-staffers of Bill Stratton who played important roles in politics of government following the Stratton terms—or staffers of Otto Kerner (don’t mention Ted Isaacs: he went to jail with Kerner) or Sam Shapiro. It was a time before huge public works, bond houses got so deeply involved in state government financing schemes. Ogilvie became a hero to the Democrats for one purpose only: he took the heat for passing the state income tax and he convinced the then patrician boss of the legislature, Senate leader W. Russell Arrington to introduce the bill. While many Democrats decorously stepped aside, Ogilvie took the credit for the enlarging of state government based on the Nelson Rockefeller model—and fittingly, he paid the bill. But Ogilvie was as nothing compared to what happened later. The shill for Cook county Democrats in the Republican party was, in fact, Tim Sheehan who was unalterably opposed to Ogilvie. Sheehan was very-very close to the Cook county Democratic party. He ran against the senior Daley but was in the fold—particularly close to Frank Annunzio. But Tim who was a very wealthy man didn’t profit from his closeness: he just enjoyed the favor of the Dem party.

The state income tax contributed significantly to the growth of state government. With Ogilvie came one Tom Drennan, the grim, humorless visage who kept a favor book. But Drennan’s and Ogilvie’s plan was to build a strong Republican party based on patronage and favors—not to align the Republican party with the Democratic. Ogilvie had begun as sheriff; he elected a Republican sheriff in his stead. He elected a Republican Cook county treasurer. Those were relatively innocent days. It really became a “Combine,” where the distinctions between Republican and Democratic parties were erased under Big Jim Thompson. Supposedly Thompson had an animus to conservative Republicans because he had been passed over by them as a Republican for Cook county state’s attorney. That’s the legend dispensed by those who want to give Thompson a rationale for what he did. Yes, he was passed over but I doubt whether that made him the Combine creature he was—and is. The needle on Thompson’s compass always pointed to City Hall.

Thompson begat the “Combine” that exists today. He didn’t make any bones about the fact that he had no differences with Democrats, nor does he today. Look at how he has cravenly served Blagojevich with his law firm, serving as Blago’s ahem “ethics” firm. Democrats were joined at the hip with the Thompson administration on everything—issues, pork, patronage and contracts. Therefore in biblical language, Thompson begat a legion of players with no political rudder—just the knack of cooperating with the Democrats others which put the Republican party to sleep. make money. Thompson had a kind of decorous flare about him that warded off trouble when he was governor but he begat George Ryan who had no flair at all but a pink snout that quivered with joy when he smelled power, patronage and returned favors. George Ryan was the legitimate heir to Thompson, not Jim Edgar. Chris can recall how his old boss Don Totten sought to run for lieutenant governor with Thompson and challenged Ryan. You know where Thompson would come down—for Ryan. Totten was an honorable man who had his own conservative views on public policy. Ryan had no views. If he expressed any views, they came out “oink.”

Witness how slavishly Thompson defended Ryan, putting his law firm to his service, enduring opprobrium in order to pay a debt heaven knows what for. Driving him to jail in his own limousine, cutting bonuses in his law firm to pay for the “pro-bono” service to this blustering bum. The Jim Thompson story is a tragedy because one with extraordinary intellectual and political gifts allowed himself to wallow up and down the legislative halls, doing errands for the Wirtz family liquor interests with questionable legislation that had to be undone, among others.

Another Thompson legatee cum Republi-crat hack was Judy Baar Topinka learned early, cutting deals with Bill Lipinski to sabotage a Republican who came very close to unseating him (she marked her sample ballots as committeeman for Lipinski which may have decided a very close race). Cutting deals with Bobby Rush and Blagojevich to head off Tommy Dart for treasurer. . She dissed social conservatives, abandoned her earlier pro-life record and rode in gay rights parade, blowing kisses to the crowds, heedless of any solidarity with her party. So you see, Bob Kjellander is just another player next to those who rose to influential positions as lawyers and heavily connected favor-dispensers. If Bill Cellini began under Ogivlie, he became a member of the college of cardinals under Thompson. George Ryan was promoted to lieutenant governor under Thompson and then as secretary of state and finally governor.

And if Thompson had been circumspect regarding the Combine as governor, he dropped all pretense as private citizen. He became known as a lobbying illusionist with no ideals, who would accept almost any client provided the money was there, gum-shoeing around the legislature plying his wares as no other ex-governor has done. His abandonment of caution exhibited itself in his service to the two crooks at the “Sun-Times” for whom he served as chairman of the audit committee, behaving like the watchdog that didn’t bark. And if the nadir of the Republican end of the Combine was Big Jim’s client George Ryan, with his responsibility for six kids being burned alive through license fixing, the nadir of the Democratic half certainly must end with Rod Blagojevich…and the steamy scene of Ali Ata bringing $25,000 in an envelope to Tony Rezko who ushered Ata into a conference room where there sat Blagojevich himself and the epitaph: “It had better be a job where you can make some money.”


With respect to whether Kjellander pressured Rove to fire Patrick Fitzgerald, I agree with Peter Fitzgerald in that I strongly doubt Rove would be dumb enough to move against a prosecutor of the highest visibility as Patrick Fitzgerald. But the “mediocre” rating came from somebody. Some day after we are all dead, historians may learn who. I think it was handed down to Alberto Gonzales directly from the Oval Office…and I mean the Occupant…for whatever reason we cannot fathom now.

For some unfathomable reason, George W. Bush has been in love with Richard M. Daley. If I didn’t know better I’d almost suspect it is unmanly. It is similar to the wistful, psychologically complex crush Richard Nixon had on John Connally. Nixon saw in Connally a suave operator which the jittery, uncertain, perspiring president with a shriveled ego viewed as cool. God knows nobody could imagine Rich Daley is cool. We will find out his attraction to Bush some day. Blame Rove and Kjellander for many things but don’t imagine they marked Fitzgerald’s enviable dossier as “mediocre.” That came from Bush himself—and will redound to his discredit in the full sweep of history.

Now that I re-read it, I see I have added a lot to Chris’ two pieces on the “Combine.”

Flashback: McCarthy Goes Ahead with His Desire to Run Again for the Senate in Minnesota.

Another Try.

In March, 1982 at age 66, handsome, white-haired Gene McCarthy held a news conference and announced that he was running for Hubert Humphrey’s old seat in the Senate. The seat was held by Dave Durenberger who beat Bob Short, Durenberger blossoming as a vibrant liberal Republican possible presidential prospect. McCarthy was facing the party’s favorite, Mark Dayton who was not only a multi-millionaire legatee of the Dayton department store fortune but had married a Rockefeller, Alida the sister of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (from whom Dayton was divorced).

McCarthy explained that his long absence from public office was a strength. “Having stood apart from it for twelve years. I’ll be able to come back to the Senate and say `Look, I’ve been looking at your from the outside and now I want to tell you how to operate.’” Not too astute a comment, I would say: implying the Senate had been languishing all this time waiting for Gene to return. Having endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980 over Jimmy Carter, he now turned on Reagan. He still lived in Woodville, Virginia but allowed that he was ready to move back to Minnesota whenever he would get around to it. He took that occasion to say that he was far better prepared to represent Minnesota than had he lived in the state and had read the political coverage of the St. Paul and Minneapolis newspapers—which made a big hit.

McCarthy said he would propose to his colleagues to reexamine the role of the Senate and turn it into something like the powerful institution that operated in republican Rome. But journalists were all over him about how he could square his earlier endorsement of Reagan with Reagan’s economic agenda and his record in central America. McCarthy didn’t do it but blasted the Democratic party whose nomination he was seeking as “a party that’s in utter disarray, that’s lost its way both nationally and locally, particularly on national issues.” The Rochester Post-Bulletin made fun of him writing editorially: “Vote for McCarthy and he’s get us out of Vietnam!”

His campaign was chock full of mistakes. Reporters following him around noticed his wristwatch was set to Eastern Daylight Time even though he was in the third day of a swing through Minnesota which is in the Central Time Zone. McCarthy spent $90,000 compared to Dayton’s $3.1 million. McCarthy gave the attitude that Dayton and the routine of campaigning were beneath him. At one debate between them, he slouched and seemed nearly asleep while his opponent spoke. In June, 1982 he declined to show up. The DFL convention endorsed Dayton with 947 to 8 on the first ballot. McCarthy stayed in Woodville, Virginia with his dog and was quoted as blasting Dayton. But being McCarthy he continued to run even without endorsement.

“I’ve observed people like him who come to Congress,” he said about Dayton. “They have a great concern for the poor and destitute, sort of a Christmas basket approach. They want to help the poor. It makes them feel good. And also, they sort of like to increase the number of the poor but they always work it from the bottom up. They’ll say more food stamps and rent subsidies and fuel subsidies and rebates and a negative income tax. But they don’t have any real understanding, I think, of how people live who are in between, who have to meet mortgages and pay tuition and thing of that kind.” He continued to travel across the state agitating the DFL and entered a senior citizens’ shot-put event and won. On September 14, 1982 Dayton won the primary by 3 to 1. McCarthy found that Democrats held it against him that he had not endorsed Hubert Humphrey for president I 1968 until it was too late to do any good. “They practically blame me for his death,” he said. At the loss he denied he was out of politics but said that he was out of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party for good. Abigail McCarthy made a meaningful comment—perhaps the most meaningful ever said about Gene McCarthy:

“He wanted to cut off everything and that is what he did…He had to be against his party, against his home state, people—and against his wife. It was a dividing point in his life—and he had to divide from so much to do it…so many things that mattered.”

He stayed at his home in Woodville and in 1983, on Labor Day, he suffered a mild heart attack, staying in the hospital for three weeks but said that his health was restored and it wouldn’t deter him from future political contests. He took a rest from running in 1984 when Reagan ran against Mondale. When asked his own preference, he said he voted absentee but hoped his ballot was lost in the mail.

I kept in touch with him and used university stipends to finance him as a lecturer—because he was a distinct link with history for the students. His off-the-cuff cameo-sized portraits of his contemporaries…John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter and the leading figures of the news media…made the classes he guested with me noteworthy. I have no doubt that the portraits were prejudicial and unfair but the spell he cast over students and professors made him an outstanding lecturer in an impromptu way. His size-up of congressional procedure was indispensable for classes which I taught since much of the course dealt with procedures. Here you had a man who spanned service in the House, the Senate, running for president and who talked brilliantly about taxes (from his experience on Ways and Means and Finance), foreign policy, the presidency: all this for $1,000 which was his fee which usually took in a faculty dinner the night before, breakfast with other faculty members, lectures to two classes and a cocktail party before he left. What’s not to like?

But throughout, he was the old McCarthy. Once he came in for a lecture and was discomfited. When I asked why, he said that the day before he had been playing tennis with Elizabeth Drew (I wondered idly what happened to Marya McLaughlin but decided not to ask). Elizabeth Drew is one of the outstanding contemporary political analysts, is a Wellesley grad, now the political columnist for “The New York Review of Books,” but had written for “The New Yorker,” had an interview series on PBS many years ago, has done a series of books…very-very good, incidentally…including on the 1980 presidential campaign, a biography of Richard Nixon. Her work is far-sighted and sophisticated: she’s a liberal but thoroughly non-idealistic about the political process. Anyhow, they were playing tennis and it turns out Drew was very competitive. She called “footfalls” on McCarthy. This outraged him and he was burning inside when he told it to me with an anger that belied its having happened a full day earlier. He was steaming because the day was foggy and he continually told me she could not possibly have seen from her place across the net whether or not his feet were offside. I decided that if there had been anything between Gene and Elizabeth Drew, it was ended because the last time I heard him talk of a woman with such bitterness, it was Eugenie Anderson who had the temerity to run against him for the senatorial endorsement in 1958.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Personal Asides: Erudite Theological Wonk Answers Flood Web Site (Deo Gratias!)…Wonk Question 5…Why I Still Believe Obama Will Get the Nomination.


Erudite Answers.

Once again I’m pleased…thrilled actually…with the quality of answers to Theological Wonk Question 4. For complete answers, go to Reader’s Comments of yesterday. High and original scholarship is evident in responses by Daniel Arquilla, Frank Nofsinger, Leon Dixon and Jesse Taylor who even dips into Revelation 21 for citations. Many thanks and I’m very-very impressed.

Theological Wonk Question 5: Why Did Jesus Condemn the Poor Little Fig Tree?

In Matthew 21:18-23, Jesus condemned the fig tree: “May no fruit ever come from you again.” Jesus was hungry and noticed the fig tree. Had there been figs He would have picked some and eaten. But Matthew 21:19 reports the fig tree did have leaves which would come only when the fruit was ripe. Mark’s notation [Mk 11:12-14] is that it was not the season for figs. What’s your interpretation? It seems to many like this is so unlike Jesus, to condemn a harmless fig tree. Was He in a bad mood or what?

Again, the honor code is in effect.

Obama and the Nomination.

Hillary Clinton’s smashing victory in Pennsylvania breathed new helium into her balloon; she got scads of new money and some commentators are hedging their bets, saying that possibly…just possibly…she will get the nomination because she can prove to the super-delegates that she has the popular vote (yeah but she’s counting Michigan and Florida which are disqualified), Obama doesn’t do nearly as well as she with the white working class, Hispanics et al. My prediction that he will get the nomination stands…for one reason that never seems to be paramount with analysts.

The super-delegates who represent the party establishment (and let’s not forget that many of them are elected officials themselves) reflect not their own whim but the party areas they represent. Traditionally, local and state Democrats think first of the local ticket and then the presidency. Take Illinois. African-American voters represent a rich vein of ore…a huge deposit…of the state vote. For their candidate to be pushed aside would invite…talk about bitterness…and worse. Many might stay home. No, none would be tempted to vote for McGovern but pols predict a serious drop-off of votes out of dissatisfaction. To my way of thinking, turning down the first credible black candidate of a major party for the presidency would be disastrous for 2008.

If…and this is only a hope…if Obama could be convinced to run with Hillary as vice president, it might somewhat ease the strain. But even here I think that with the huge expectations the liberal media have placed on him as Destiny’s Tot, the disappointment among blacks would be great. I can rationalize party establishmentarians saying that it would be far more prudent to cede the nomination to Obama basis the need to reward the party’s most dependable and huge base with the nomination. If he loses the presidency, so he loses—but coming so close to grasping the brass ring and have it slip from his grasp would be a terrible disappointment to blacks. Your views?

Personal Aside: Theological Wonk Quiz…Question 4: “World Without End”? But How Does This Square with “Heaven and Earth Will Pass Away”?...Obama on the Economy.


Theological Wonk.

Spirited and deeply reflective comments from all. To the question why Jesus submitted to baptism when He was God, Jesse Taylor avers He didn’t have to but was obedient to Jewish law. Frank Nofsinger remembers the book by Benedict XVI which points out that assuredly He was sinless but as He took on the sins of the world for redemption of the world, He decided to be baptized. All excellent.

The answer most theologians prefer: As a forerunner of the Messiah, John had instigated an sweeping campaign of repentance. Before John, Jews had baptized only proselytes but never other Jews…assuming that as children of Abraham they needed no baptism. But John’s stern message changed all that and instilled in Jews recognition of their own need of repentance. This is why Jesus came to John and why He told John: “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” [Mt. 3:15].

Fulfilling all righteousness would require that the sinless Lord further identify Himself with sinful humanity so as to give us an example to follow though He had no need of repentance. I give it to Jesse Taylor on points though Frank Nofsinger…if he is quoting Benedict right by memory…is tied. Congratulations all.

Query 4: World Without End? Wait a Minute!

When they pray what is known as the “Glory Be,” Catholic conclude with the phrase “world without end.” But how does that square with Christ’s words “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”—[Lk 21:33]. Which is it?

Obama on the Economy.

Barack Obama and his followers are still criticizing ABCs anchors George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson in the recent debate by peppering him with questions on Jeremiah Wright and Billy Ayres, saying that much more substantial issues needed to be raised. But there were such questions raised later in the program by Charlie Gibson and Obama didn’t really cover himself with glory in his answers.

Here are the economic questions Gibson asked—and Obama’s answers—the questions showing that unique among mainstream media reporters, Gibson is intimately familiar with taxation. Obama’s answers show that he is not as interested in a tax program that will serve as an incentive to collecting more revenue—but that he wishes to use the tax code to redistribute wealth and penalize the wealthy which is the classic Marxist formula. Here is the dialogue in its pertinent parts:

GIBSON: You have however said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC and I quote: “I certrainluy would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton, which was 28%. It’s now 15%. That’s almost a doubling if you went to 28%. But actually Bill Clinton dropped the capital gains tax to 20%.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased. The government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28%, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness. We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year--$29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair.

Stop Right There.

“That’s not fair.”

Do you see the difference in philosophy? Instead of setting a goal of raising more revenue, Obama really does want to penalize those who are successful—a detriment to the free market system. This is a classic statement of punitive action, leveling a burden heedless of whether more revenue is gained or not. This alone would be reason to defeat him. By this statement he is actively contradicting the entire rationale of economic growth. It is…no name-calling implied…classic socialism. The Marxian theory does not concern itself with economic growth but with economic contraction, the counterpoint to Adam Smith. All of the Marxian theory rests on a first assumption: a severing of any natural link between self-interest and the common good. Classic collectivism.

We Resume the Colloquy.

OBAMA (continues): And what I want is not oppressive taxation. I want businesses to thrive and I want people to be rewarded for their success. But what I also want to make sure is that our tax system is fair and that we are able to finance health care for Americans who currently don’t have it and that we’re able to invest in our infrastructure and invest in our schools…

Stop Again.

“What I want is not oppressive taxation.” But here Obama is encasing himself in political rhetoric that stitches together contradictions so it sounds nice. Capitalist production involves faith—in one’s own initiative, in one’s neighbors, in one’s society. Search and you shall find, give and you will be given unto: supply creates its own demand. It requires allowing the entrepreneur to keep as much money for himself as is possible consistent with the need to finance the government. Obama wants the government, not the market, to adjudge “fairness.” The socialist economy starts with a definition of needs and proceeds from there to a prescription of planned supplies. In a socialist economy, one does not supply until the demands have been specified. Here Obama is following classic socialist dogma. We must “finance health care for Americans” i.e. by the government. The government always aids this activity and Obama is specifying that the growth of the economy and freedom comes after more “investment” i.e. spending. We must “invest in our infrastructure and invest in our schools.” We already do but he is saying the well-being of the economy, allowing entrepreneurial freedom, comes AFTER more expenditures for our schools and infrastructure. Classic Marxian planning.


GIBSON: But history shows that when you drop the capital gains tax, the revenues go up.

OBAMA: Well, that might happen or it might not. It depends on what’s happening on Wall Street and how business is going. I think the biggest problem that we’ve got on Wall Street right now is the fact that we’ve got a housing crisis that this president has not been attentive to and that it took John McCain three tries before he got it right.

And if we can stabilize that market and we can get credit flowing again, then I think we’ll see stocks do well and once again I think we can generate the revenue that we need to run this government and hopefully to pay down some of this debt.

Hold It!

See what this is? It’s classic switch the subject. He dodges the straight up or down nature of Gibson’s question on economic growth by detouring to the housing and credit issues, another issue entirely—and a serious one-- but which deserves separate treatment. Gibson is talking about economic theory here, not housing and credit. Obama knows this and dodges. It is a diversion. He cannot or will not come clean on this issue. Why? I think it’s his inflexible collectivism. He simply will not concede that over the past 50 years whenever the tax rate on capital gains has risen, tax revenues have tumbled. It happened in the 1990s and the 1980s under Reagan—certainly in the 1960s under Jack Kennedy. That’s the reason Clinton agreed with the tax rate being cut from 28% to 20%.

Once again to refresh you: Obama says he would not raise taxes on middle-income earners, people he describes with annual income lower than between $200,000 and $250,000. But he’s for nearly doubling the top current capital gains rate to 28%. The simple truth is that Obama’s tax hike would slug tens of millions of Americans earning under $200,000 since in 2005, 47% of all tax returns consisting partially of capital gains came from households with incomes under $50,000---79% from households with incomes below $100,000.

In Conclusion.

Republicans shouldn’t need Jeremiah Wright or Billy Ayres to defeat Obama in the general. His tax plan should do it. But you must reckon with the great American public’s Sleepy Eye. It is asleep now. It will flutter its lid open during the climactic debate between Obama and McCain. Numbers are habitually the hardest thing to concentrate on in a debate—but if voters fully understand the disaster Obama will make of the economy and to them, they will vote against him.

It depends on the Sleepy Eye. Will it flutter open long enough to perceive it?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Personal Aside: The Theological Wonk Answer—and Another One.


Are There Definite Locations for Heaven and Hell?

Frank Nofsinger has the right answer for this one: yes. Incidentally, Jesse Taylor answered yesterday’s theological wonk question by saying that under Catholic rubric Old Testament prophets cannot follow the same course of canonization since their miracles were performed too early and cannot be verified. Well—okay…but the real answer as contained in yesterday’s web-site is that they are already saints and have been referred to as such. But thanks, Jesse and I’m sorry to have neglected your answer yesterday.

The answer to this theological wonk question on the placement of heaven and hell is that Christ twice referred to heaven as a place in John 14:2-3. The original word is “topos” meaning “dwelling place,” “abode,” “seat.”

Now…drum-roll please…the third Theological Wonk question.

Question 3: Why Was Jesus Baptized?

Yes, why? And that’s precisely what John the Baptist said to Him: “I need to be baptized by you. And yet you are coming to me?”

But He did. Why?


A Wanderer Reprint.

NOTE: Much of this is not new to this Website but divulgences of the Obama and Hillary strategies outlined in the bottom half is.

CHICAGO—No sooner had last week’s Wanderer arrived, carrying my article on Harold Macmillan’s warning about “events, my dear boy, events” being things that can topple the most sure-thing successful political campaign or administration, than a big event happened.

As the political world now knows, Obama spoke on April 6 to a closed-to-the-public fund-raiser in (where else?) San Francisco, to denizens of great wealth. It so happened an idealistic left-wing blogger for the liberal The Huffington Post.com, thoroughly in love with Obama, ponied up the necessary $2,300 to get into the event and brought her tape recorder which she secreted in her jacket. Her love for Destiny’s Tot died suddenly. There in that room-full of affluent lefty worshipers, Obama sounded like the University of Chicago law faculty lounge habituĆ© he truly was for a decade, and which he has successfully kept from the public. The gaffe was not in word choice but in snob content, allowing his anti-middle America views to leak out. She left, posted it and kaboom!

The Truthful Gaffe.

In a drawing room of the Left Coast mansion filled with contributors who nodded appreciatively, Obama said:

“You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and each successive administration has said that sometime these communities are going to regenerate—and they have not. And it’s not surprising, then, that they get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

It’s the view the secular Left has had of religion since Karl Marx formed it with his “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” published in February, 1844 and which is standard reading fare in any higher education study of Marxism. It was required reading for me in grad school many years ago. It maintains that “the criticism of religion” for the Left is “the prerequisite of all criticism.” Why? “The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion; religion does not make man.” Marx made no bones about it. “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature,” he wrote, “the heart of a restless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people” [italics mine] or, as it reads in chilling German: “Die Religion…ist das Opium des Volkes.”

This snob view endures in the Ivy League university faculty lounges, especially Harvard’s, As a late-blooming (age 49) Fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1977 I heard it many times but was impervious to it as a conservative businessman but it was a staple with, among others, the elegant John Kenneth Galbraith, the Keynesian economist, he of the lifted aristocratic eyebrow and epigrammatic acerbic phrases. Precisely at 5 p.m. every week day in the Harvard lounge, he signaled the barman who served sherry to him and his colleagues, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Richard Neustadt (the Kennedy school founder) and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Obama’s snide words are worthy of them--or even a snickering Gore Vidal.

To my mind, conservatives should thank God that our long-running presidential campaign season has allowed us to see what this candidate, shrouded in heroic mist, really thinks. One would imagine that he who says his own religious awakening came from hearing Jeremiah Wright’s “audacity of hope” sermon would extend the same courtesy to those hard-pressed in America’s small towns who believe in God. But no, in Obama’s words, they “cling” to religion; they “cling” to guns. They “cling” to racism.

They “cling” to anti-trade sentiment while he has been making hay by fanning the sentiments himself with his anti-NAFTA and anti-Colombian trade speeches. They “cling” to anti-immigration views. (But what of his vote for the Secure Border Act of 2006, designed to block illegal Mexican entry to the U.S. by the up-building of hundreds of miles of border fence? Should we conclude he was a hypocrite?) They “cling” to religion like the founders (most of whom were God believers) who so opposed an established church by writing Amendment I guaranteeing religion’s free exercise.

They “cling” to bigotry he said, as he flattered big time San Francisco wealth by mocking small town attitudes. They “cling” to guns. The founders made a special amendment to protect gun ownership as this former lecturer at the University of Chicago law school fully knows (especially in his own Hyde Park neighborhood where residents don’t live in a gated community as does Jeremiah Wright whose gratis mansion is being built in suburban Tinley Park by his parishioners).

Later, in an attempt to correct himself, in Muncie, Indiana the candidate said with further condescension “Lately, there has been a little, typical sort of political flare-up because I said something that everybody knows is true which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my home town in Illinois, who are bitter” [Italics mine]. That was not good enough for Chicago’s David Axelrod, Obama’s media strategist, so there came another disclaimer that still refrained from admitting a mistake—the usual politician’s cover-up for a botch: “Obviously, if I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that.” If? IF?

Obama’s Strategy.

But this isn’t what I wanted to write about at all. What I wanted to discuss was his strategy for winning which, until chaos broke loose in San Francisco at least, was succeeding. That strategy was born in Obama’s mind from his experience as a community organizer. He learned early in Chicago that he had a marvelous way of communicating to people—and he impressed Axelrod, a pietistic liberal ex-Tribune newsman turned multi-millionaire consultant and lobbyist, a Daley loyalist. As Obama spoke to crowds, both he and Axelrod noted several things: (1) When Obama talked in visionary, general terms, he easily carried the day with Democratic crowds and many left his meetings saying “that was the greatest speech I ever heard!” But (2) when he peppered his speeches with 6-point plans as other candidates do, the air went out of his balloon.

Obama and Axelrod reasoned that he should put his 6-point programs on the Internet and stick to making visionary speeches, sauntering up and down carrying a hand mike. The visionary approach is needed to generate a voter revolution, they believe, requisite because as president Obama can’t make the kind of changes he’s advocating with 51 to 49 majorities in Congress. His exciting message might well build a massive coalition of new voters that will sweep him to power and cower the “old bulls” in Congress and force them to see “that there is a mandate for change.” They have a point. But to get his victory he should be a man of the people—not a man of the U of C law faculty lounge. If he can pull that off he can win. If.

Yes, IF.

Now to Hillary and Bill’s strategy.

Hillary, my old neighbor from down the street in my Chicago suburb, has no style, is as tough as an old boot, an old pol-hack, but nevertheless has made a lot of amateurish mistakes along with Bill which contributed to Obama’s rise. For one thing, the Clintons presented her as the “inevitable nominee” which beckoned to ram her down the party’s throat—and it rankled many who sought an alternative. Then she started running too prematurely a general election campaign, picking and choosing among the caucuses to be skipped (big error). Finally neither Hill nor Bill perceived the phenomenal success Obama was having on crowds of new people from the post-Boomer generation who want Boomers like Hillary to hurry up, get old and get out of the way. At least a couple of million—that’s million!--have signed up for him on the Internet; many thousands thronged to see him in rock-star fashion. Their numbers foiled Hillary’s hope to kill off this upstart by Super Tuesday which didn’t work. They so goofed up their approach to him that their only hope now is to convince enough super-delegates that Obama is so gaffe-prone he cannot get elected…seeking to make the supers forget that Hillary has so many personality negatives perhaps she can’t win.

Making Obama the Black Candidate.

After all their grievous political errors, Bill Clinton was the one who came up with the idea that whittled Obama down to manageable size—and it may have been too late (although we’ll see).

He reasoned that Obama’s great mystique was that Obama was capitalizing on his background as Kansas white and Kenya black, of being raised by white grandparents with a fond longing for his absent Kenyan father who skipped out early (hence his first autobiography Dreams from My Father—a racial mix that gave him great credibility. He was winning his crowds on the basis that he understood both sides, underscoring his reputation as a candidate of unity. This has to be knocked down by making him indissolubly the black candidate, Bill reasoned—and he, not his wife, would have to make that point. Besides, he argued, since Obama is a novice in national campaigning, it is endemic that he will make some gaffes that could end his candidacy with the super-delegates—because he is insensitive to Middle America. (Astute observation).

Pinning blackness on Obama in a pro-black Democratic party was a sacrificially heroic thing for Bill Clinton to do since blacks were the only enthusiastic ones who stood by him when scandal plagued his administration over his own sexual misdeeds and continued to revere him. Nobel prizewinner Toni Morrison had called him “our first black president” and DeWayne Wickham, the black historian, had recorded that African Americans had higher support for the 42nd president than for Colin Powell or Jesse Jackson (this was before Obama). But Bill resolved to do it anyhow. He has continually suffered from guilt through his sexual daillances that humiliated his loyal wife who, to her credit, stuck with him.

The first thing he did was to say in a television interview that to elect Obama who had little experience in foreign affairs would be a “roll of the dice” implying that Obama hadn’t been sufficiently vetted. Next Bill engaged in a frontal attack. Twirling a hand mike like Obama and strolling up and down at a rally with perfect timing, he said Obama’s criticism of Hillary’s support of the Iraq War resolution was “a fairy tale,” concluding “give me a break!” No one had hit Obama that hard before. Actually, Obama was right. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, then chairman of Senate Intelligence, strongly urged a vote against the resolution and he was one of 22 senators to do so. Hillary was undecided what to do and feared to look weak on national security.

Just as he hoped, Bill’s charges drew black criticism which he had hoped would happen, ratifying his strategy. None other than the Rev. Al Sharpton, the most despised racial racketeer in the country, invited Bill to appear on Sharpton’s radio show. Sharpton’s attack aided by the largely white liberal “mainstream media” made the point Bill wanted--that Obama is the black candidate.

When Obama won heavily in South Carolina, Bill met with the media and said yes, indeed--the last black to carry South Carolina in a primary was Jesse Jackson who like Obama won it with a preponderance of black votes and a minority of white ones. Right he was. Jackson had been so feared by the Democratic white establishment that in 1984 it concocted the Super-delegate formula to counterbalance his ideological excesses in future conventions.

Then Hillary Clinton moved in, as subtle as Mack the Knife with a meat cleaver. On 60 Minutes the Sunday before the March primaries she said Obama was not a Muslim—“as far as I know.” Following which she gushed in a debate with her opponent, “isn’t it wonderful to have a woman and an African American in the race” to which Obama grimaced painfully.

Meanwhile Bill was working behind the scenes. Up popped Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to be on a national party ticket, to say that Obama was “lucky” to be black because that’s how he got where he was. To which Hillary decorously murmured: “well, I can’t agree with that” but said no more. At the next rally stop she said—her eyes wide with innocence--“I’m sorry if anyone is offended. We can be proud of both Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama!”

Bill Clinton’s argument that Obama might be prone to gaffes then began to pay off. But the first gaffe wasn’t from Obama. It involved fiery, anti-white sermons by Obama’s minister—a story the compliant Chicago major media refused to report—since no editor in cringing, white-owned Chicago media wants to criticize Illinois’ favorite son. But Jeremiah Wright became a big national story and Obama hurt himself with white middle class voters by saying he could no more dissociate from Wright than from the entire black community. Bill’s strategy was paying off but meanwhile his own wife was making her foolish pronouncements.

Hillary’s Over-Imagination.

While Obama’s impeccable faƧade was crumbling, Hillary was privately falling to pieces. Operating on three-hours of sleep a night, she rummaged through an old bag of exaggerated rhetorical tricks, desperate for anything to win. Earlier she had stunned her staff by putting on a southern accent in Selma, Alabama; dropping her ings in Appalachia, speaking with a cowpoke’s drawl in Wyoming (“concerns that keep ya up at night”), then switching back to deep south cracker in Mississippi.

But these were just stylistic dishonesties. Now came some disastrous flat-out prevarications which would have defeated her were she the nominee at the tag end of the presidential campaign. She was trying to bolster her claim that she has the experience to be president. When Obama’s people pointed out correctly that as First Lady she had no security clearance and was out of the foreign policy loop, she blurted “I helped bring peace to Northern Ireland” a claim that northern Ireland officials were forced to deny. Then “I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo.” But the borders were opened the day before Hillary arrived in Macedonia where she boasted she conducted such negotiations.

To change the subject from that gaffe, she started vividly describing an hair-raising war story—exciting a rapt crowd in Dubuque. She said she risked her life on White House missions in the 1990s, including a hair-raising flight into Bosnia that ended in a “corkscrew landing” and a sprint off the tarmac to dodge snipers. The slogan around the White House was, she said with a verbal swagger, “If a place was too dangerous, too poor or too small, send the First Lady.” But it turns out Hillary wasn’t quite flying into harm’s way that day. She was leading a goodwill tour in March, 1995 that included her daughter Chelsea, then 15, Sinbad and singer Sheryl Crow. She was greeted with a flurry of rose petals and a floral bouquet from a little girl. There was full news coverage of her arrival on video that contradicted her statement—including her autobiography Living History. These things prove Hillary is no natural at politics. Nor even a good liar. Obama for all his Harvard-style elitism is smoother at both.

Let it be said that this early in the game, his gaffes are not fatal, nor are hers—but it continues to look, to me at least, that he will get the nomination. Two reasons. (1) The Democratic party is hugely indebted to its enormous black constituency: it cannot afford to turn him back unless he really detonates, and he hasn’t yet. Rejecting their hugely favored candidate would impel many thousands to stay home on Nov. 4 with grave results all the way down the party ticket. (2) Beyond blacks, Obama has really built a huge army of enthusiasts new to politics, a multi-faceted, wildly diverse coalition—and largely white. To be sure, it’s not all amateurs. Multi-billionaire Warren Buffett will help on the economy along with curmudgeonly fiscal conservative Paul Volcker. And on national security, Gen. Colin Powell is sure to follow. Not bad for a first term senator who has served only a half-term.

Political pros are amazed at the quality of the new volunteering recruits……youth, largely white affluent do-gooders, intellectuals, 25-year-old entrepreneurial multi—millionaires…none with a sense of history or identifiable patriotism but who want to push Baby Boomers out of the way. To alienate them by refusing Obama who has the popular vote tallied would be suicidal. The only thing keeping him from the nomination is if he disqualifies himself with a MacMillan-like “event.”

Avoiding a gaffe or horrible “event” that alienates middle America should be easy for anyone—but for Obama it will not be. Axelrod is worried that his candidate is so inured to far-out liberalism and patrician-style radicalism he may not be able to distinguish it. Barring a gaffe or embarrassing disclosure, the White House is his.

The debates are where one looks for gaffes and Macmillan’s “events, events, my dear boy” to decide this nation’s future. If they occur, it’s likely a 72-year old will raise his arm (halfway, as he cannot do more) to take the oath next Jan. 20.

Personal Aside: Theological Wonk Question I: Why Aren’t Old Testament Prophets Saints? The Answer. Now Question 2.


Old Testament Prophets.

I’m very much gratified with the high quality of answers to the Theological Wonk question “why aren’t Old Testament prophets saints?” We really clocked some quality answers. Probably the best was from Daniel Arquilla who gave a four-pronged answer: that, he says, the Eastern Rite which is in communion with Rome honors the prophets…that the Carmelites, he says, have feast days for “St. Elijah” and “St. Elisha”—something I never knew…and the traditional Roman rite honors the “Seven Holy Maccabees.” A correspondent named Hank says the Old Testament saints have been recognized by common acclamation so there is no need for special treatment…and Leon Dixon says that while no one doubts their sanctity, they’re from B. C. anyhow and the calendar is crowded.

Excellent responses. It is true that there are no feast days for Old Testament saints in the Church’s universal calendar. In the early days of the Church only martyrs for Christ were honored on the anniversaries of their deaths. In 1600 a liturgical book, the Roman Martyrology listed all the saints who up to that time were recognized including these Old Testament prophets: Habakuk (Jan. 15), Isaiah (July 6), Daniel and Elias/Elijah (July 20 and 21), the seven Maccabees and their mother (Aug. 17), Abraham (Oct. 9) and King David (Dec. 29). In the litanies of the saints we remember “all holy patriarchs and prophets” who are Old Testament. The first Eucharistic prayer reminds us: “Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as one you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchisedech.”

In the funeral liturgy we pray: “Hear our prayers and command the soul of our servant [N] to dwell with Abraham, your friend and be rfasied at last on the great day of judgment.”

And ratifying Daniel Arquilla’s erudite comment: While the Church in the West recognizes Old Testament saints in these ways, in the Eastern churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, veneration of these holy people is more prominent, as Daniel has reported. There are a number of eastern churches named “St. Elias.” Finally since due to a lack of witnesses and information it is very unlikely a pope would canonize a person from the Old Testament. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t saints from the OT. (References from Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Rome and Fr. Raymond Ryland, chaplain, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio).

Question 2: Are Heaven and Hell Physical Places?

We all know souls are spiritual entities and do not need physical spaces to exist. However since it is the nature of man to have a material body, it would seem that when our bodies are united with our souls at the end of the world, there would be a physical space to accommodate those bodies. This question is worthy of The Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas so it is not a dumb question. Remember that in John 14:2-3 Jesus twice refers to heaven as a “place.” Without looking up the “Summa,” can you give me your reflection?

Reprinted from Monday’s Chicago Daily Observer: Will Governor Be Indicted Eventually? Most Who Speculate Say Yes Basis the Latest Cari Disclosure. Republican Best Potentials Listed.

By Thomas F. Roeser

Will Gov. Blagojevich be indicted? Let’s say that a cursory study of grand jury corruption probes from all 50 states…including those when the U.S. consisted of 48…shows that there has never been an occasion when so many allegations and testimony before federal juries has failed to yield an indictment of a major figure whose name has been so prominently mentioned. That doesn’t mean this couldn’t be the first time—but knowledgeable people say not for attribution that if Blagojevich isn’t nailed, it will be an historic first.

One deciding factor seems to be testimony last week at the Rezko trial by Clyde Robinson, director of investor relations at JER Partners, a private equity, real estate investment management company headquartered in McLean, Virginia which manages private equity real estate funds with clients totaling more than 100 institutional investors including some of the world’s largest public and private pension funds, endowments and financial institutions. The testimony didn’t involve Tony Rezko but it showed jurors the twists and turns that allegedly took place as political consultants pocket rich “fees” for doing nothing which are in many cases back-channeled into political contributions for Blagojevich.

Robinson said he was in a private meeting with Deborah Harmon, a principal of the firm in May, 2004. JER had bid for a $80 million investment package from the state, part of a total $40 billion Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois. In the midst of their meeting, a secretary interrupted them saying that a man was on the phone who threatened to have her fired if she didn’t put the call through. Robinson and Harmon looked at themselves questioningly and Robinson took the call.

Robinson asked the caller “can you tell us who you are?” The caller then purportedly identified himself as Joe Cari, a onetime fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee purportedly representing Gov. Blagojevich.

Cari urged Robinson and Harmon to immediately sign a contract with the state of Illinois that would steer a $750,000 finder’s fee to someone living in the Turks and Calcos islands of the Caribbean—a country composed of 8 major islands and many cays located 575 miles south of Miami. If not, the JER proposal would be “yanked from the agenda.” He said Cari explained, “I’m very close with the governor. This is how the governor handles patronage.”

When assistant U. S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton asked Robinson to clarify whom the caller was professing to represent, Robinson said: “The governor of the state of Illinois.” While the deal didn’t go through, the feds say that the source in the Caribbean was involved with Stuart Levine, a close Rezko associate and member of two state boards. Prosecutors allege that Rezko, 52, of Wilmette was the key figure behind the negotiations that required investment firms to pay kickbacks in order to win state business. Cari testified that Levine, the prosecution’s star witness, not only exerted great pressure on him but was “menacing” because JER hadn’t signed the consulting contract.

Many experts I have talked with say that a Blagojevich indictment can be expected. One who has said so on the record is Charles Wheeler, the highly regarded director of the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois-Springfield and a former “Sun-Times” Springfield bureau chief. If Blagojevich is indicted, the question arises as to whether he would resign in order to devote his full time to his defense—or continue in his post. A unanimous nose-count of the people I have talked with say that he would remain as governor. Only a conviction would remove him from office and it is likely, in their estimation, that this would happen given the thoroughly meticulous way U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald conducts a prosecution. If an indictment follows—as is expected—a trial of the governor could take place as early as this fall. Given that it may well not last as long as the trial of former Gov. George Ryan, Blagojevich could be found guilty pending future appeals in the early part of 2010, leading to the elevation to the post of Lt. Governor Pat Quinn.

It could mean that leading up to the next gubernatorial election of 2010 Quinn would be the new governor. It should be expected that Quinn would promptly announce he would run for election. While he has been a critic of the governor and led a drive to add recall to the state constitution, he has pursued a rocky road with Democrats of all stripes, from becoming engaged in a bitter battle as Harold Washington’s director of revenue, earning the enmity of many liberals for designing the disastrous “reform” of the legislature via referendum that has led to the dominance of the Big Four leadership which has turned the remaining lawmakers into virtual mushrooms—kept in the dark while major negotiations are going on. In a very real sense, the logjam between Speaker Madigan, the governor and Senate President Jones is a legacy of the misconceived Pat Quinn “reform.” To the minds of many, Illinois’ unique three-member districts worked well. Quinn’s demagoguery which ended it did not serve Illinois well.

For many reasons the electorate might be so weary of the fiery controversies surrounding the Democrats in the state that the electorate could well consider electing a Republican.

Who would that Republican be? At least one candidate who ran before is beginning to surface, State Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington. A knowledgeable lawmaker with a contagiously friendly mien, Brady, who is not a man of wealth, failed to raise significant funds to give his campaign a thrust in 2006. Another notable candidate is State Rep. Tom Cross, the Republican House leader who has impressed many with his savvy and ability to work with both sides. Pro-life lawmakers who work under his direction tell me he is fair and equitable to all sides, which is what I have observed in my dealing with him and his superb staff. Whether he wishes to run for governor or will stay with the house where he might well have the opportunity to be Speaker, is unknown. But neither Brady nor Cross are men of wealth and would have to depend on raking in the contributed dollar in large measure which occupies so much time and detracts from the stupendous job at hand of solving the state’s horrific problems. .

Many observers say that were the Republican party astute—which it is not—it would settle on a nominee without an internecine primary: a nominee with extensive personal wealth who would be able to fund much of his own campaign without engaging in demeaning deal-making and quid-pro-quos that accompanies so much money-raising where average Illinois politicians are concerned.

One such person would be the current treasury secretary, Henry (Hank) Paulson, a former CEO of Goldman-Sachs who is worth in conservative estimate at least $600 million, approximately as much as Mitt Romney. But the controversial bail-out of Bear Stearns by Paulson and the Fed would be a definite drawback in the election, leading to the question as to whether mercantilism has not dominated his economic thinking.

Another prospect would be Ron Gidwitz of Chicago who ran a thoroughly cerebral campaign for the Republican nomination in 2006, losing to State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka. Gidwitz took the Helene Curtis company then a local cosmetics concern and built it into a formidable empire. He matched his entrepreneurial acumen with solid civic and political leadership, having served as chairman of the state board of education where he demanded bureaucrats visit Illinois classrooms to see how their policies were working or not working. He was also chairman of the City Colleges of Chicago. For these reasons he was endorsed for the GOP nomination by the “Chicago Tribune.”

A supposed negative used against him in the last Republican go-round was that he is abrasive and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. That could be a definite plus at this late stage in Illinois where glad-handing and back-slapping, got the state to the sorry condition it is in now. The problems facing Illinois are stupendous—requiring one who can say “no” and who will be able to take the heat for decisions which though unpopular are necessary. I interviewed Gidwitz on my radio program last night. He is not leaping into the fray, is cautious and prudent and as a leader of generally moderate and libertarian philosophy can easily adapt to becoming a stable and conciliatory force to unite the party’s often violently quarrelsome internecine factions.

As one who has known him for decades and who worked with him when he was chairman of the City Club of Chicago and I its president, I respect him as an outstanding leader. Social conservatives should recognize that in him you have one who opposes public funding for abortion while supporting pro-choice as a personal view and one who does not espouse special “rights” for special groups that inhabit the liberal community, is sound on the 2nd amendment, is a proponent of vouchers in education.

In fact where he might have disagreements with the social conservatives—passage of a federal right-to-life amendment—is negligible since not even the strongest pro-life proponent (and I consider myself to deserve listing in that category) can allege the country is on the verge of taking that step. Besides which an Illinois governor facing such huge solvency problems will be glad not to be involved in something that would come down the pike decades in the future.

The purpose of this article is not to endorse—particularly where no candidates have emerged who say flatly they will run. And, for the benefit of disclosure, Gidwitz has invested in The Chicago Daily Observer but he is not the predominant investor. When an average working stiff like me joined with my colleague John Powers can top Ron in investing in this enterprise, rest assured editorial objectivity is not impaired.

But he and others will have to make their decisions but please God somebody with acumen and courage do something. The state’s continuing massive pension debt stands at $42 billion. A 1995 law requires the state to contribute $725 million more next year than the $2.1 billion contribution of this year. There is a $500 million increase in Medicaid liability. Item by item the problems are staggering. Repairs and maintenance for the Department of Corrections’ automobile fleet must be cleared through its top command since the department owes $2 million to the state agency that services vehicles—and doesn’t have the funds to pay repair bills.

Only half the 80 beds in the addition to the LaSalle Veterans Home is available to vets requiring nursing care because Illinois doesn’t have the $3 million needed to staff all the new beds—while at the same time 500 eligible veterans are on the waiting lists.

I firmly believe the state needs as Governor a Republican who can transcend the fighting of the Democrats—a governor who won’t be bogged down in his own fund-raising problems. Whoever it is should get on his horse soon.