Thursday, November 27, 2008

Personal Aside: Don’t Chide Obama for Naming Retreads: The Lefty Moves Will Come Soon Enough—in the Form of Court Appointments.

Conservatives shouldn’t chortle too much over the beginning appointments made by Barack Obama, jibing that they are re-treads from retaining George W. Bush’s secretary of defense Bob Gates to picking Hillary Clinton for secretary of state, recycling Paul Volcker (an original Jimmy Carter appointment) to plucking up Larry Summers and making him a White House adviser. I had feared from the outset that the appointments would be denizens of the Harvard or University of Chicago faculty lounges…theorists with no experience whatever, similar to those Franklin Roosevelt picked and who paralyzed the recovery.

I would damn sight rather be governed by Bob Gates as defense chief, Paul Volcker as head of an economic commission and Larry Summers than some of the names who were suggested. At any rate, Obama will turn leftward in time…which will upset us all: with appointments to the federal bench and regulatory agencies.

Sometimes conservatives bother me…as when they engage in the absurd hysterical laughter that judging from the above appointments, Republicans have won the election. What nonsense. In that connection, while I share the view that Rush Limbaugh is a priceless resource for conservatives, when I tuned in to him yesterday he was condemning Obama for saying that he would supply “the vision—that’s my job.” Well, frankly, Rush, it IS. And it doesn’t mean he is going to be hands-off. Ronald Reagan supplied the vision during two years of his administration without concentrating unduly on specifics. That’s what Obama is saying, Rush! Let’s not in our rush to chortle over re-treads prod them into changing course and naming true lefties.

Every so often, conservatives ought to sit back and listen to themselves…and on this Thanksgiving Day…thank God that thus far the appointments made have been reasonably centrist from the Democratic party’s standpoint.

Don’t worry—the time is coming when we will see the leftward tilt…pray God it’s not unduly heavy…of this administration.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Personal Aside: Durbin Pleads for George Ryan Pardon…Marion Brooks Keeps a Straight Face to Interview Jeremiah Wright…“Catholic Colleges” are a Misnomer—with Few Exceptions.



Yesterday, the leading political hack of the U. S. Senate, Dickie Durbin…born without a sense of shame so he matriculated well in that cavern of raise-your-eyes-to-heaven hypocrisy…pleaded for George Bush to pardon Republican former Gov. George Ryan because good ol’ George “has suffered enough” for his transgressions—and his wife, Lura Lynn wants him home for Christmas. As this website predicted, the publication of a laudatory biography of Ryan and Durbin’s plea were orchestrated by Jim Thompson…whose lieutenant governor Ryan was and who can likely sully Big Jimbo in the annals of history if he is not pleased with Jimbo’s due diligence in his behalf. Jimbo assigned his top lawyer, Dan Webb, who has the boyish face of a cabbage-patch doll, to take the case. Any ordinary hack could have done as well as George lost on all counts before the jury…and all pleas subsequently failed.

NBC-TV assiduously played Dick Durbin straight last night and magnanimously failed to mention why bulbous-nosed ol’ George is in stir: because five kids were cremated in an accident caused by an illegal alien who got his CDL courtesy of bribing one of George’s crooked driving inspectors. I’m sure Mrs. Ryan misses ol’ George for it was she who contacted Durbin. I would imagine Rev. Willis misses his kids, too but nobody cries for them—certainly not Dickie Durbin who has apparently some debts to pay to the old fraud who betrayed his trust to bed down with the Democratic party in order to taint the jury pool with liberal benefactions…going to Cuba to salute Castro…switching from pro-life to pro-abort…switching on O’Hare to please Richie Daley…and before the polls closed in 2000 when he was state chairman of the Bush effort, met with Daley to concede Illinois.

I doubt whether Durbin’s professionally somber puss on NBC will impress George W. Bush who has at least one deserving candidate to pardon—Scooter Libby who didn’t deserve being convicted on a case that started out as who-leaked-Plame when in fact the prosecutor knew who it was all along and told Bob Novak and others to shut up about it.

Marion Brooks.

Another stellar star on NBC-TV is Marion Brooks…she of Atlanta fame who as a TV journalist there conducted a 4-year sleep-in with the mayor…showing her unique brand of ethics—after which she was promoted here…in contrast to Amy Jacobson who took a dip in a swimming pool with a news source and hasn’t been forgiven yet.

But Marion is uniquely sensitive to race which is why she is here. Now voila! she came out to WVON to interview that terribly wronged raving black racist Jeremiah Wright. She carried the assignment off without cracking up…citing everything favorable—coverage of a Protestant pastor friend of John McCain who is an anti-Catholic bigot…and exclaiming oh-dear-the-media carried Wright’s stories far more copiously than the GOP pastor…forgetting to add, of course, that Wright god damned the United States and accused whites of inoculating black babies with HIV. Just a slight oversight in her reportage.

“Catholic” (Ahem) Colleges.

A study by the Cardinal Newman Society’s Center for the Study of Higher Education has released a poll surveying Catholic college students’ behavior and beliefs. Get these figures:

60% of Catholic students polled say abortion should be legal. 60% say premarital sex is not a sin. 57% say same-sex “marriage” should be legal. 39% say they heard college officials encouraging contraceptive use. 31% say they have heard college officials encouraging acceptance of homosexual activity. Findings were published last week in the “National Catholic Register.”

The reason I am so everlastingly bitter cranky about so many Catholic bishops in the U.S. is because they have done such an abysmal…almost criminal…job in refusing to deal correctively with so-called “Catholic” colleges. I was lucky enough to graduate from a university that pursued the old verities—a university I refused to send my kids to later because it has taken on the coloration of abject secularism.

Defenders shouldn’t shove off on me the hoary excuse that colleges and universities won’t respond to ecclesial prodding…prodding meaning threatening to remove permission to use the name “Catholic” from these secular (and worse) institutions. A prelate who dilly-dallies out of timidity from pulling the “Catholic” designation from DePaul and Loyola…which flaunt the name in their promotions but which are nothing less than recruiting stations to lure the very young into homosexual lifestyles by (in DePaul’s case) instituting a minor, Queer Studies: 101…is failing his duty as a bishop--notwithstanding protestations to the contrary. The reasons are many but the central one is that many bishops are ceremonial political figures, fearing the condemnation of the media for being “authoritarian.” Gee, you’d think they’re running for office, trying to win plaudits from various constituencies. Well, they’re not. Or they shouldn’t be.

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, said the data was collected in May and June of this year. The 506 respondents are current or recent Cathllic college attendees age 18 to 29. They represent at least 128 different Catholic colleges and universities constituting 62% of the total number of 208 institutions. More data: 46% of current and recent students said they had engaged in sex outside marriage…84% said they had friends who engaged in premarital sex…one out of five knows someone who has had an abortion or helped pay for one…57% said attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their participation in Mass or confession. 54% said their attendance had no effect on their support of Catholic teachings…56% said the experience had no effect on their respect for the Pope…6% who were Catholic while attending a Catholic college are not now Catholic. Only 1% who were not Catholic while attending college are today Catholic.

Women more likely than men tend to engage in sex outside marriage—50% to 41%...and listen to this: more men than women said attending a Catholic institution had a positive impact on them i.e. receiving the sacraments and supporting church teachings, 40% to 23%.

Thus don’t tell me just being a bishop now is worthy of near-deification Catholics of the `50s used to confer. Most of the men in years past were bishops…in every sense of the word. Not glorified semanticists, p. r. men for fund-raising as many—even most—are today. These don’t get nor do they deserve the sanctimonious status they receive today.

Not in the face of these numbers. Not when so many parade down church aisles…preening their authority with crosier and miter…warming to the accolades of the largely mal-catechized sheep… lack the intestinal fortitude to do anything about it—fearing reproach from their own priests, from wealthy alums…from powerful largely Democratic political leaders who affiliate with the secular “Catholic” colleges… and in the press.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Personal Aside: The Age of Obama—a Déjà Vu of the FDR Era that


Didn’t Solve the Depression or Unemployment.

If you are of a certain age…as I am…you can readily see even now the definite similarities between Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency and the 12 years of Franklin Roosevelt. I’m a geezer expert on FDR’s influence on this country: he was the only president I knew in my entire life, from kindergartener to high school senior. Like Obama, FDR depended on the support of a largely adulatory media. He tried to socialize the economy in fruitless experiments while liberals cheered his “decisiveness” and good intentions…notwithstanding that he “solved” unemployment only when we went to World War II. Could it happen again?

From 1933 to 1945 the Hyde Park country squire in the White House who (a) single-handedly commanded the media (except it seemed for the Chicago Tribune and the Hearst press ) and (b) experimented with the economy. Nothing…utterly nothing…worked in the long run until 1941 when the “national defense” program and Pearl Harbor cured joblessness.

For seventy-plus years Roosevelt was been regarded as a national hero. But now a spate of books has been recently published telling irrefutably of the failure of the Roosevelt administration to solve our economic problems: in fact, more than this—actually prolonging the Depression and threatening to regiment our people while the contemporary media gloried in the “decisiveness” and “flair” of FDR. Sheep-like, led by deceptive media…their photographers lowering their cameras as the paraplegic president was hoisted aboard planes and yachts, keeping his paralytic physical condition largely blacked out from the public (as they did 20 years later with JFK’s womanizing in which the “Washington Post’s” Ben Bradlee was an active witness, he deciding it would not be seemly to report the truth)…the media largely propagandized the American people to reward liberal good intentions with their votes, neglecting to emphasize the failures.

The Threat of Floyd B. Olson.

A myth embedded in history holds that Roosevelt prevented either a “right-wing” fascist or Communist party coup—take your choice-- and saved the U.S. by inventing the beneficent corporate state. The threats supposedly came from three challengers, Fr. Charles E. Coughlin, Huey Long and Dr. Francis Townsend. Largely fictitious. Coughlin was never a threat since as an obedient priest he allowed himself to be silenced by his bishop at the behest of liberal-leaning George Cardinal Mundelein of Chicago…Long, a raving demagogue who appealed to back country southerners and no one else, was assassinated in 1937…and Townsend was a one-trick pony specializing in an fantastic pension schemes (he died at 93 in 1960).

But on the horizon there was a genuinely electoral threat. As a transplanted Illinoisan to Minnesota, I engaged in a lifelong study of him. He was a charismatic, blond half Norwegian half Swede wildly popular governor of a third party…maybe not Red but decidedly pink and as charismatic as FDR…the former Hennepin county (Minneapolis) prosecutor, Gov. Floyd Bjornstjerne Olson, the Farmer-Laborite from Minnesota who threatened to put all Minnesota’s electric utilities, iron mines, grain elevators and meatpacking plants under state ownership. Reelected with huge majorities he was the nominee for the U.S. Senate—and certain to be elected where he would plot a national career--when he died at the Mayo Clinic at age 44 in 1936 of stomach cancer. There was never a serious contender for Roosevelt’s crown since then.

“Roosevelt breathed a sigh of relief when Olson died,” retired New Deal brain truster Rexford Guy Tugwell told me in 1973 when I interviewed him the first time where he was a fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, Calif. (later he came at my behest to lecture to my class in politics at the Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennylvania. “Rex is right,”echoed James A. Farley, FDR’s old campaign manager and postmaster general when we discussed history in Farley’s office at Coca-Cola Export in New York a year later.

To preempt Olson, Tugwell (who outlined them retrospectively for my Wharton class in 1974), designed several New Deal statist “reforms.” He had gone to Rome to interview a man early New Deal theorists thought was the man to copy in this country. His name: Benito Mussolini. Sitting down at Mussolini’s desk, Tugwell perfected the concept of the NRA (the National Recovery Administration) which he copied as a virtual stenographer taking notes dictated by Mussolini himself. This tyrant intrigued Tugwell because of many reasons—foremost being he was an adroit former journalist and ace propagandist.

Il Duce is now a figure of mirth for his portrayal by Jack Oakie as the rotund, be-medaled “dictator of Bacteria” in The Great Dictator but was hugely admired by New Deal statists in the early `30s. Tugwell was fascinated by the intellectual amalgam Mussolini was—part nationalist, corporatist, syndicalist, master of state propaganda and lord prosecutor of “subversives.”

Hoover as Bill Gates.

FDR came to power not only because of the Depression but because the nation was disillusioned with Herbert Hoover. Before he was president, Hoover never had a failed day in his life: a brilliant mining engineer and businessman, he became a multi-millionaire before age 40. He was the `20s Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg. The voters clamored that they wanted not a politician but a businessman to run the country. But being president is far different than running a business. Calvin Coolidge complained that you couldn’t tell this “wonder boy” anything: so he made gigantic mistakes unaided.

The first thing he did after the 1929 crash was to call business leaders together and got them to agree not to lower wages or prices. So they got around it by letting thousands of their employees go. Then Hoover raised taxes, saying a balanced budget would spur Wall Street’s confidence in the government. Higher taxes were the worst thing one could do with a torpedoing economy. Following which he signed a punitive protectionist trade bill, Smoot-Hawley. It triggered an international trade war against us where Europe punished our manufactures. By 1932 everybody agreed he was hopeless.

Roosevelt wasn’t any better—although he was a free trader-- but he had superb press.

What Hoover and Roosevelt never understood…and economists of the day missed until Milton Friedman… was that the U. S. was in deflation, a money drought. The Fed was very young (having been formed in 1913) and the concept of open market economics, where government buys bond and sells bonds to soak up money from the economy was virtually unknown at the time. But big media were charmed by Roosevelt as they never were with Hoover--and went along, glorifying in the thought that he was willing to experiment, i.e. to spend the country out of Depression ala Keynes. Or so they thought.

FDR failed spectacularly--but the crowd he attracted to Washington to help him were adjudged as brilliant, liberal, witty…and the more flops they created, the more the supine mainstream media loved him. Then an interesting thing happened—which just may repeat itself today.

The Depression went on so long…with joblessness averaging in the mid-teens …that people decided the condition would stay in perpetuity. Thus the American people accepted it as de rigeur and cheered his “innovations” as experiments no matter that they didn’t work. They wanted FDR to succeed. His ideas were so intricate, so cerebral, so exciting. John Maynard Keynes’ ideas were paramount: they were so more persuasive than old-hat economics. And Keynes’ ideas are back again…front and center…with Obama. We’re in for it, folks. Another round of failures ballooned into triumphs by the media fawning over an exciting presidential figure.

Amity Shlaes’ Book.

One extraordinarily fine book about the failures of the FDR days is by Chicago-born Amity Shlaes, whose father and I often debated over lunch decades ago at the Cliff Dweller’s Club. Amy Shlaes became a free-marketer and a strident libertarian, editorial page member of “The Wall Street Journal” who now writes a column for Bloomberg News. She spent five years researching The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression [Harper: 2007]. The good rap on Roosevelt which even now is part of media lore is that he made things better by his style: taking charge. Did he? Here are some numbers from Shlaes.

1929 the year of the stock market crash under Hoover, unemployment stood at 5%. By 1931 under Hoover: 17.4%.

Then the glory days of Franklin Roosevelt.

1933, the first year of FDR 22.9%...1934 under of FDR 21.2%...1935 FDR 21.3%...1936 FDR’s reelection 15.3% ...1937 FDR 15%...1938 FDR 17.4%...1940 FDR 14.6%..

With 1941 came the wartime national defense years and unemployment shriveled.

Disastrous FDR Schemes.

These are some of the disastrous things Roosevelt did which gained media plaudits but worsened things:

…Ordered the Fed to exchange all its gold with the Treasury for certificates, devaluing the dollar by 59%, hiking gold price to $35 an ounce which increased domestic prices. He told the nation it would have to endure it for a time—then a Fed chairman who made exactly the worst diagnosis: the Depression came from overinvestment by business not monetary contraction (which was the root cause)…so the Fed didn’t expand the money supply for the remainder of Roosevelt’s first term which suffocated recovery.

…Launched the Federal Emergency Relief administration to impel the states to hire unemployed to build small-scale public facilities, then the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which hired 3 million plus respectively which didn’t dent the jobless rate: when their public service time expired, unemployment zoomed back to where it was.

…Rammed though Congress a new tax on business’ retained earnings in addition to hiking top individual income taxes at 79% prompting the rich to seek off-shore tax shelters, causing revenue which had started to rise in 1936 to plummet in 1937.

…Mandated Treasury and the Fed to hike their reserves to guard against inflation, prompting commercial banks to do the same, cutting back on bank deposits and loans, forcing businesses to slash production and lay off workers.

…Ordered full speed ahead on federal spending for relief and public works, causing an additional $3.75 billion for public works. Still no good: unemployment ranging from 17% to 18% through 1939.

…Aped Mussolini by creating new government-sponsored towns similar to what Il Duce did in draining the Pontine marshes to found a model cooperative community called Mussolinia (later renamed Arborea). Tugwell, under-secretary of agriculture built Greenbelt, Md. as a Mussolini-style model--and Casa Grande, Ariz., where farmers would share the land “from each according to his ability” deriving earnings “to each according to his need.” The Congress ended Casa Grande because it was too Red-tinged and Tugwell was fired.

… Launched a vendetta against the rich seeking shelters from the 79% top personal income tax rate by declaring it immoral for them to take tax deductions and exclusions “to escape their obligations.” To set an example, he pursued Andrew Mellon, Harding-Coolidge’s treasury secretary (who spurred prosperity in the `20s with tax cuts) through the federal courts charging fraud. The IRS had given Mellon a clean bill of health. FDR rejected this. He sent Justice to prosecute Mellon for “tax evasion.” He failed, the courts finding Mellon not guilty only after the aged financier died. Concurrently Roosevelt perused the returns of other wealthy taxpayers and leaked their names and details to friendly media.

…Vowed to veto Social Security if businesses were allowed to individually give better than government benefits for their workers. He insisted his Social Security principle be not voluntary but government- mandated. Ironically Democrats offered serious opposition to the legislation. In the Senate, Bennett Champ Clark (D-Missouri) proposed an amendment to enable employers to opt out of Social Security if their pension plans gave more generous benefits than SS did. His amendment carried 51-35 in the Senate that was Democratic 2-1. When the House reconsidered it, FDR vowed to veto the entire package unless it were taken out during the House-Senate conference. It was. Pro-FDR commentator Robert S. McElvaine summed it up neatly: “Social Security was important as a symbolic gesture to demonstrate that Roosevelt’s heart was in the right place.” (Italics mine).

…Applied Mussolini’s codes regulating business—the Tugwell brainstorm copied from Mussolini. The NRA, symbolized by a blue eagle affixed to all store windows with the slogan “We Do Our Part,” run by a crusty retired general negotiated 557 industrial codes ordering businesses to set minimum wages, maximum hours, child labor restrictions and occupational health and safety rules. Then came the so-called “Sick Chicken case,” which sentenced two brothers who owned a poultry store to 2 years on a felony. They violated the NRA rule that consumers had to accept the live chickens poultry stores gave them regardless of whether the chickens looked good to the buyers or not. The erring brothers allowed customers to pick the live chickens they wanted from the pen as a free choice—against federal law. The New Deal ruled the customer is not permitted to select the chicken he wants; he must take the first chicken the butcher hands him, unhealthy looking or not—no substitutions. Which caused a panic because public health officials believed tuberculosis was being spread through sick chickens. Customers insisted on choosing healthy-looking chickens they assumed were not sick. Result: the Supreme Court invalidated the entire NRA…in retaliation for which Roosevelt vowed to pack the Court.

…Forced farmers to plow under their crops notwithstanding there was hunger abroad in the land—a favorite Tugwell scheme taken from Il Duce. Roosevelt sought to reverse a decade-long depression by forcing farmers to reduce their acreage under production, imposing taxes on food processors and paying subsidies to farmers who plowed under their crops and slaughtered their livestock and poultry. During its first three year farm income increased by 50% but all the increase resulted from the subsidy payments. The farm program is still with us.

…Clamped down on workers’ rights by nixing voluntary participation in unions. By passing the Wagner labor-relations act, FDR made it far easier for unions to secure a closed shop and win a bargaining monopoly. Union contracts no longer sanctioned voluntary participation and made it illegal for employers to act “contrary to the interests of unions.” Even if employees go on strike, the act made it an unfair labor practice for an employer to hire replacements, get work done and carry on the business.

…Tried to pack the Courts. After the Supreme Court found a number of New Deal acts unconstitutional…and after Roosevelt was reelected by a large margin to a second term, 523 electoral votes to 8…he determined to enlarge the court by supporting legislation that would require Supreme Court justices to retire at 70—and if they didn’t, adding an FDR-appointed justice for every over-70. Result: he could appoint a half dozen justices to his liking. Then he broadened his “court reform” to include lower courts as well. His legislation was rejected by the Senate but the Supreme Court moved leftward out of intimidation when one jurist switched positions. It was called “the switch in time that saved nine.”

With unemployment showing no let-up by 1940, FDR finally resorted to the draconian effort…

Spurring a national defense program in 1940, hiking defense spending from $6.8 billion that year equal to 7.7% of GDP to $92.7 billion or 41.9% of GDP. The national draft and wartime massive industrialization finally “solved unemployment.”

Following which in the “interest of national security” he—along with Republican California Attorney General Earl Warren…

…Herded legitimate U. S. citizens into camps to “protect the nation.” In 1942 FDR signed an executive order compelling U. S. citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry to be taken to internment camps for the duration of the war. More than 120,000, 62% of them U.S. citizens, were forced to abandon their homes, farms and businesses.

Because Robert R. McCormick, the editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune fought FDR all down the line, the president threatened to indict him on charges of sedition and treason. During wartime, treason carried with it the death penalty! He rethought that one when advisers told him it smacked of Naziism.

See Any Similarities to Today?

As I’m writing this, Barack Obama has announced he “would create 2.5 million jobs by rebuilding roads and bridges while developing alternative energy sources and more efficient cars”—adding like FDR: “We have acted bravely and above all together. That is the chance our new beginning now offers us and that is the challenge we must rise to in the days to come. It is time to act as the next president of the United States.”

Liberals say supply-side has failed…has brought us to this point of disaster. Now Keynesianism has returned with massive spending ala FDR. Plus: the Mussolini-like attempts to shut down free speech with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer vowing to encourage the new Obama FCC to re-impose the misnamed “Fairness Doctrine”—to mandate conservative talk radio devote “equal time” to liberals, notwithstanding that they haven’t been able to make it thus far in the marketplace.

Plus again: Just as the fascists burrowed down into regulating family life, the New Order is touting a “Freedom of Choice’ act which invalidates all state strictures limiting abortions.

Il Duce, whose dead body was hoisted upside down in April, 1945 at a Milan petrol station would have cheered these programs and their boastful language.

Thus in 2009 as it did beginning in 1933, the struggle will be played out against a charismatic and powerful liberal president determined to ride roughshod over individual rights--aided by a largely uncritical and adulatory media.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Personal Aside: Bill Brady the Expedient?…Archbishop Raymond Burke’s Engrossing Interview.



Some supporters of Kirk Dillard who lost the Senate minority leadership to Christine Radogno have a lingering suspicion that Bill Brady tried to have it both ways in the caucus. One of the issues dealt with abortion. Dillard is pro-life; Radogno is not only a pro-abort but pro-gay rights and is thisclose (as Sneed would say) to Terry Cosgrove of Personal PAC (who may well have promised money to reward a newly pro-abort-led Republican contingent in the senate). Brady is once again running for governor in 2010 leaning toward the stance of Goldilocks…not too hot…not too cold…just right: a moderate pro-lifer but friend of everyone.

So, Dillard people say, to Dillard people he gave a thumbs up indicating he was on their side. To Radogno supporters he gave a slow, knowing wink which they interpreted was favorable to them. Dillard people say he voted “present” in the caucus via supposedly secret ballot (which they say wasn’t very), then hustled up to the desk to make the motion that the caucus solidify itself by voting unanimously for Radogno.

“He’s very, very slick,” said one Republican operative who has watched him closely. “But of course, being slick only takes you so far. He views himself as his own best expert on shaping his public image.”

If the Radogno deal is true, Brady had outfoxed himself with some social conservatives. They remember his strange, anti-self interest conduct in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary. Liberal pro-abort, pro-gay rights Judy Baar Topinka who was thought to have made a private deal with Dems for a tax increase (for whom tireless tax hiker Ralph Martire, godfather of the tax “swap,” put her lawn sign in front of his Riverside house) was in the lead, followed by pro-lifer Jim Oberweis and then Brady. The logical wisdom would be for Brady to chip away at Topinka, the front-runner.

Not so. Brady repeatedly kept zinging conservative Oberweis which from a strategy standpoint didn’t make much sense (Ron Gidwitz, in contrast kept a steady steam of commercial fire on Topinka as could logically be expected). Topinka won the nomination and at the unity conference was rewarded with a Brady kiss—called “the Judas Kiss” by some observers. Earlier this year, when he ran the Fred Thompson campaign here…which died aborning…he worked closely with Nancy Kimme, the top Topinka aide who supposedly…(or was it Topinka herself?)… made the crack to the media that if George Bush came here to raise money for Topinka’s candidacy, the president of the United States would have to bunker down in a secure, undisclosed location because of the Iraq war. Typical slur from the anti-conservative Topinka-Big Jim Thompson-George Ryan faction that blocked Reaganism in Illinois for decades.

Now comes this case, if confirmed.

At least one top social conservative leader has signified he has had enough and will under no circumstances support Brady’s gubernatorial bid. Others say they have more personal reasons to withhold a Brady endorsement. Stay tuned.

It’s up to Brady to clear himself on how he voted—with demonstrable proof…or the center-right coalition he seeks to build—social conservatives plus Jim Edgar-style moderates—will lose its right front wheel. As some say, it’s better to deal with a out-front pro-choice candidate whom you can believe than a supposed pro-lifer you can’t trust.

Archbishop Burke’s Interview.

Authenticist Catholics are talking about the revelatory interview Archbishop Raymond Burke has given from Rome to “The Catholic World Report” magazine. The former bishop of Saint Louis who was on the way to being hard-line on pro-abort Catholic pols receiving Communion…was unaccountably plucked out of his archdiocese and transported to Rome to the office of Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s version of the Supreme Court. Everybody agrees a red hat comes with the job. But WAS it a promotion or was it the Curia’s way of kicking upstairs a prelate who was embarrassing the droves of pro-abort Dem Catholic pols like the Kennedys who don’t want someone to publicize their discomfiture at being nominally Catholic? Since the 15th century, the Curia has contained nests of back-scratching, upwardly mobile, ultra-pragmatic ecclesial types who have weaseled and jockeyed without filling in busy Popes on their indirection. Niccolo Machiavelli took notes from a crowd like this in his time.

For now, let’s say the plot that “promoted” Burke was truly Italianate.

Who knows for sure? The highly touted office sounds like nothing more than a glorified personnel court to me…a far cry from the catbird seat of effectiveness the archbishopric of Saint Louis was under Burke—where he was in marked contrast to many faint-hearted bishops who shrink from controversy…including some wearing red hats, crimson being the color of martyr’s blood they are sworn to shed in defense of the Faith. The only inkling we’ll have is when the successor to Burke is picked. If he’s a get-along, go-along Charlie or wimp as some of the majors are, it’s a cinch the Curia has struck. If he’s as tough as Burke, you can bet it’s the Papal intention.

In the meantime, Burke answers questions in the magazine with characteristic directness. About whether he’s happy with the appointment: “Well, I am always happy to do whatever I am asked to do.” Hmmm. Doesn’t sound like he’s clicking his heels in the air, does it? Another question: what kinds of cases does the Apostolic Signatura handle? Answer: “The most common are...`administrative contentious cases’…for instance the transfer of a pastor. The pastor may make a recourse claiming that the transfer was not handled in a just way. Or a religious may have some complaint about an act of her or his religious superior and claim that it has affected him or her unjustly—those kind of cases.”

Boy, those cases don’t sound like they’re filled with juridical or canon law precedents do they? Not widely different from the run-of-the-mill chancery cases held down the road in every diocese. My guess until we’re shown otherwise with the caliber of his successor: score one for the Curia.

Other questions in the interview: Some say your statements on canon law regarding denial of the Eucharist to those who are manifestly unworthy `risk politicizing the Eucharist.’ What do you say to that? (Note: Cardinal Francis George made that very same comment in parsed phraseology with superb delicateness). Burke: “It is not a question of politicizing the Eucharist. It is a question of showing the right respect for the Eucharist and also safeguarding individuals from committing sacrilege. And so we have to refuse Holy Communion to public officials who persist in supporting legislation contrary to the natural moral laws, after they have been duly admonished.” Short, direct and sweet. Bad news for the Durbins, Daleys and 99% of the…ahem…Catholic public servants in the Democratic party and a few in the Republican viz Tom Ridge, Judy Baar Topinka and many others.

Further question: If I read your article correctly, you place equal responsibility on both parties: the communicant and the minister, whether he is a priest, deacon or extraordinary minister. Burke’s answer: “Yes, that is correct. And it is not a question of my opinion on the matter. Church discipline demands that not only the individual communicant be attentive to respect the Holy Eucharist but that also the minister of the Holy Eucharist show respect for the sacredness of the Holy Eucharist—it is the most sacred reality in the Church.”

The clarifying follow-up: Why do you think that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ documents on worthy reception of the Eucharist only place responsibility on the communicant? Burke answer: “Because the documents are not complete. They do not report the Church’s discipline in its completeness. The Conference of Bishops did not want to take up what is clearly the discipline of the universal Church, in canon 915, placing the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the minister of Holy Communion to deny Holy Communion to a person who approaches to receive and whom he knows to be persistent in public and grave sin, after having been admonished.”

Unsaid: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C., now retired, the leading Democrat go-to prelate…buddy-buddy of the Kennedys, the Kerrys, Durbin, Pelosi and others…distributed the incomplete word to the USCCB before the election of 2004, abridging a letter from then Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, rendering a magnificent service to the Democrats at election time—getting them off the hook.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Personal Aside: Rahm Will be Prime Minister—Until He Either Quits, is Deposed—or Hit with a Potted Plant.


Tom Daschle…Eric Holder…Penny Pritzker…

While pundits speculate the identity of the heaviest hitter Barack Obama will name to his administration, they should not waste their time. Barring Paul Volcker (if he’s appointed treasury secretary), he’s already been named…and he’s not in the cabinet. And while he lasts (which may not be long), Rahm Emanuel, 49, of Chicago will be the virtual prime minister of this government. A NewYork Times photo of Obama’s top advisers…including the veteran Paul Volcker…showed Emanuel standing in the front row with hands on hips, a picture of saucy authority. Almost as if to say “these are my guys!”

He’ll be prime minister until he either quits, is fired or whacked on the head with a potted plant hurled by an angry fellow staffer. Assuredly, there’ll be controversy involved. I’ve written about him before but never told the story completely…as one who knew well the man known in Washington as “Rahmbo the Magnificent” in early formative years (he went to my Quaker Oats retirement party but we don’t talk now because of the retribution he tried to wreak on the late Henry Hyde in vengeance for Hyde’s bringing out of House Judiciary a bill of impeachment against Bill Clinton),

Chiefs of staff to presidents come in two categories. They are either paper shufflers or prime ministers. All of George W. Bush’s hires from Andrew Card his first to the current faceless professional Josh Bolten were paper shufflers, overshadowed by powerful cabinet forces and political guru Karl Rove. All of Bill Clinton’s top staffers…except Emanuel… were passive. Emanuel’s personality is a forceful prime minister type but is so terribly abrasive and profane he may well not survive beyond a few months unless there is a dramatic change in personality. He was, in fact, demoted as Bill Clinton’s political director to a lesser role because Hillary Clinton couldn’t abide him. Later, in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton needed him and moved him upward again where he took over the p.r. strategy to defend his boss from impeachment (which didn’t work) and then from Senate conviction (which did).

How did Emanuel land his job in the White House with Clinton? Fresh from being what he himself called “the top raiser of Jewish money” in Chicago for Mayor Richard M. Daley, he started on the 1992 campaign trail as a fund-raiser beginning with the New Hampshire primary. But soon he would become far more than a chaser after rich contributors. Then the most serious rival to Clinton was Paul Tsongas, the ex-Massachusetts senator. Knowing that Clinton would face a serious challenge due to his proclivity for womanizing, Emanuel did two thing: he spread the word that Tsongas’ earlier serious bout with cancer was coming back (true: it happened) and convinced the Clinton team they should raise tons of money up front for use in a crisis which he knew was coming from Clinton’s womanizing and evasion of the draft. They agreed.

The crisis came with the disclosure during that New Hampshire primary of Clinton’s relationship with Gennifer Flowers and the controversy over his efforts to evade the draft in the Vietnam war. Tsongas had to withdraw because of lack of funds but thanks to Emanuel-raised money which enabled them to top Al Gore’s totals,, Clinton survived. That guaranteed Emanuel a top berth in the future Clinton White House…as political director and fund raiser.

Where will Emanuel’s influence be largely brought to bear for Obama? On a wide variety of fronts. Expect that the interest of the Democratic party will be foremost, followed—and only then—by the well-being of Israel. The Democratic party is foremost with Rahm. He has told me, “with me the patriotism for America is tied indissolubly with the Democratic party.” And Israel? He said: “Israel next—but you get what I mean? The Democratic party is tied in my mind to the United States. And then Israel.” But that doesn’t mean Emanuel would be as anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian as you would expect. He thinks his father is an old hat Israeli revolutionary.

His father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, was and still is the dominant factor in his life. Dr. Emanuel is a prominent pediatrician here who was born in Jerusalem and was a member of a militant Zionist group that had claims to being a terrorist organization and for whom he passed secret codes before the creation of Israel. He and his wife (Martha Smulevitz) the daughter of a local union organizer, a civil rights worker who once owned a Chicago rock and roll nightclub, named their eldest son Rahm because it means “lofty” in Hebrew. The family surname was originally Auerbach but Benjamin changed it to Emanuel when his brother, Emanuel Auerbach, was killed in a street riot with Arabs in Jerusalem. Result: everyone in the family carries the name Emanuel. The name Emanuel means “God is with us.” Rahm Emanuel is the namesake of one Rahamin, a Lehi leader.

Rahm has too high an appreciation for public relations to go around as a self-designated savior-wannabe for Israel. But his father isn’t. When Rahm was named chief of staff, his father blurted out to the Jewish daily Maariv: “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why shouldn’t he do it? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to mop the floor of the White House!” Israel’s oldest daily, Haaretz wrote this headline: “Obama’s first pick. Israeli Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff” (Italics mine). Emanuel apologized for his father profusely. The old man’s views were not politick. Beyond that, they weren’t correct.

Rahm knows Hebrew well…is as familiar with the Jewish bible as a scholar…and has been to Israel many times—at least 20-- knows the country from one end to another and corrects town misspellings in newspapers (I’ve seen him do it). In the first Gulf war in 1991, he packed up and left a comfortable job here to go to Israel where he served as a civilian volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces and repaired truck brakes in a northern Israel army base. I admired him for that. He and I were on public radio here in those days and we saluted him. When he came back, Emanuel had many colorful stories to tell. Once he told a number of us including me that he was indeed a soldier in the Israeli army; another time he claimed dual citizenship. Both were exaggerations to impress us--but were gaffes he had to live with later when they were exposed as whoppers and which he has much regretted.

Again: His militancy for Israel doesn’t mean he’s an Ariel Sharon partisan or wants to reclaim Palestinian lands. No way. He’s a Shimon Peres man (the current president of Israel) who wants Israel to survive all right—but through negotiations, rather than by continual warfare. But he takes care to see the hot button issues are not neglected. He was the only Democratic House member from Illinois who voted to sanction the Iraq War when all other Democrats voted no. Reason: the engagement was very popular with Jews immediately after 9/11 and while they don’t count for much as voters in his district, he was thinking of the national constituency that rewards his party with huge donations, top-heavy for their scant numbers (as the chief fundraiser representing the Jewish community, he raised an unheard of $72 million for Bill Clinton).

Kid Brother Ari.

Beginning in New Hampshire, raising that $72 million in what he himself freely called “Jewish money” to me, he relied largely on his kid brother. Ari (for Ariel) Emanuel, 46, is a hugely wealthy Hollywood agent who was the inspiration for “Ari Gold,” the hustling Sammy Glick character on HBO’s film “Entourage.” Ari and three others from a talent agency decided in 1995 to start their own firm. Ari was fired when the owner found his assistant rifling the files to use for his own venture but that didn’t stop Ari. He now heads his own boutique agency, Endeavor, the most powerful in Hollywood with an estimated $100 million in revenue yearly.

Ari doesn’t get much press (and doesn’t want it) but he did score in 2006 by calling on Hollywood to blacklist Mel Gibson for Gibson’s alleged anti-Semitic remarks following his DUI arrest. But there was more than religious outrage in it for Ari: Gibson was represented by a rival agency. Earlier, in 2002, Ari was sued by some of his Endeavor employees who alleged he allowed a friend to operate a pornographic website out of Endeavor’s offices, a suit that was settled for $2.25 million. Memory of that settlement sort of took the edge off some of the self-righteousness Ari used against Gibson. Rahm and Ari are as close as any two brothers can be.

If anything, in the White House Rahm Emanuel will utilize the views of Niccolo Machiavelli, employing the twin tactics of lion and fox i.e. the ends justify the means and there is no act so evil that some good cannot be deduced as flowing from it. That is the philosophy that he has pursued in his entire career and his politics. As he has succeeded in politics by brutal force…moving up through the ranks of the Cook county Democratic party by joyfully stabbing competitors…drawing a ring around what he would tell me is “big money, developer money” and being able to deliver it on cue whenever Mayor Daley needed it. He is a profane and scatological telephoner, slamming down the receiver and bellowing out a stream of epithets either at the last person he called or fate. He is not dismayed by using old-fashioned city patronage in his own behalf. He is still being probed by the U.S. attorney here for using city workers in his first congressional campaign.

Moving Upward Relentlessly.

His exhibited old-fashioned entrepreneurial talent in his own behalf after he left the Clinton White House. Using his Clinton political connections he got himself incardinated as an “investment banker” at Wasserstein Perella, head of its Chicago office where, hanging on the phone to his friend Bob Rubin, the former treasury secretary, he “negotiated” by proxy eight deals in 2-1/2 years as a Chicago banker, including the acquisition by Commonwealth Edison of Peco Energy and the purchase by GTCR Golden Rauner of the SecurityLink home security unit from SBC communications. Thereby he made $16 million plus. He made much more since.

Then he got Clinton to appoint him to the Freddie Mac board in 2000, earning him $31,060 in that year and $231,655 in 2001 in salary and mortgage deals. During his tenure on the board, Freddie Mac was torn up by scandals involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities. An oversight board accused the board of having “failed in its duties to follow up on matters brought to its attention.” He resigned from the board in 2001 after the scandal broke. A friendly Chicago media have kept his board service virtually a closed secret ever since.

Once off the board, Emanuel leveraged his connections with Daley for whom he had raised scads of dough to run for the House to fill the old Dan Rostenkowski seat. He had six competitors for the nomination. Emanuel publicized that he was a “lifelong Chicagoan.” Wrong: he was born here but since early childhood a north shore suburban boy and went to the tony schools in Wilmette. Also, he was Jewish in a district where Polish is the strongest ethnic tie.

His top competitor out of six was a Polish legislator, Nancy Kaczak who was the leading candidate. Then elderly Edward Moskal, president of the once powerful Polish American Congress endorsed Kaczak called Emanuel a “millionaire carpetbagger who knows nothing about our [meaning Polish] heritage”…alleging Emanuel had dual citizenship U.S. and Israel and had served in the Israeli army. It was a rumor that had much basis by Emanuel’s own prior bravado …telling his friends how he braved fire as an Israeli soldier…but it was false. Now Emanuel shrieked that it was all lies, proved he didn’t have dual citizenship and Emanuel hustled sympathy in the compliant press as being a victim of anti-Semitism. Kaczak fell back in confusion…trying not to embarrass patron Moskal and yet not siding with him. Benefiting from the disarray, Emanuel won the nomination tantamount to election. But not before legions of city water department workers spent thousands of hours in his primary campaign, thanks to his relationship with Daley.

When he came to the U.S. House in short order he pushed himself forward enough to become member of the prestigious Ways and Means committee (very rare for a first termer). Even more significant, his fund-raising got him the chairmanship of the House Democratic Congressional Campaign committee (where he scored great recognition by raising massive funding with the help of brother Ari and capturing the chamber in 2006). Following that he used the names of House freshmen he helped elect to leverage himself to number four in the Democratic leadership. In fact he might have stood a good chance of moving up to Speaker after Ms. Pelosi—but the chief of staff berth is more attractive than standing in line waiting for her to retire. He has developed a plan, though. He is reported thinking about getting his own chief of staff elected to keep his Chicago seat warm and return himself later to resume the run for the Speakership. Don’t put that beyond him.

As Chief of Staff…

As to what issues he will try to juggle as chief of staff: Be forewarned that there is little if any policy matter that he won’t try to be involved in from the Middle East to the economy (on Ways and Means he was rather pro-business from the standpoint of liberal Democrats, favoring tax cuts rather than being punitively anti-rich; generally siding with the Big 3 auto companies against lefty environmentalists). But he will be left-wing on almost everything else—especially social issues where with Supreme Court appointments he will be resolutely pro-abort.

What could get him fired or prompt his resignation? His horrendous temper and insulting personality plus the dirtiest mouth with repetitive “f” words on Capitol Hill. Presidential chief of staff is a very sensitive post—one suited for a soft-spoken not stentorian negotiator. A number of those who sat there discovered this and wanted out—including Donald Rumsfeld, who served Gerald Ford. Rumsfeld found that holding his temper was no fun so after he convinced Gerald Ford to drop Nelson Rockefeller as veep in the 1976 election and Henry Kissinger as national security head (leaving Kissinger merely secretary of state)—he had Ford name him secretary of defense. John Sununu who was a gruff gatekeeper for George H. W. Bush and who often clamped down the phone receiver instead of saying goodbye made enough enemies in a few months to be canned.

They had tempers but nothing like Emanuel’s. Emanuel once mailed a dead and rotten fish to a former coworker after they parted ways. That’s become famous Emanuel lore. But this one I’m going to relate takes the cake.

On the night after the 1996 election where Republicans took over the House, humiliating Clinton and himself while Emanuel was political director of the White House, the Chicagoan stood up at a dinner with colleagues, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of Clinton’s and his own betrayers who didn’t carry their states in the election. At the mention of each name he yelled “Dead!” and plunged the knife into the table after each name as waiters and waitresses stood frozen with fear. Silence engulfed the meeting and then he stalked out.

All I can say is: Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Personal Aside: Why Would Hillary Take Secretary of State?...the Logical Question for Dan Hynes that was Unasked During the Carol Marin Interview…the “Sun-Times” is Nothing More than a Dirty-Mouthed Sheet.



Why in the world would Hillary Clinton who wants to be president one day take secretary of state in an Obama administration? It’s plain Obama doesn’t want her since he didn’t leak the offer—Hillary’s people did. Since the Clinton forces leaked it they’ve been busy dissing the job. I can understand why.

Taking secretary of state puts Clinton directly under Obama’s thumb. She could be removed by the president at any time and as private citizen would be out of the news altogether. She also would be involved in a dog-fight to determine who’s making policy. Obama certainly would want the lion’s share of credit for foreign policy moves…and as with all presidents would see that if things didn’t work out, the blame would be placed on the secretary of state.

In addition, Hillary would be bumping up against the national security director whomever that would be…and against David Axelrod, to be the president’s top imager, who loathes her because Axelrod never made out with consulting assignments when Bill Clinton was in the White House…as well as Greg Craig, the lawyer who defended Bill against impeachment but who defected to Obama early…Craig manufacturing the argument contradicting Hillary’s boast that she played a major role in foreign policy-making as First Lady.

Hillary would be much better staying as senator from New York all the more to be protected if and when Obama runs into trouble with his program.

Ask Not.

The logical unasked question which should have been tossed to State Comptroller Dan Hynes on “Chicago Tonight” last night was: How do you liberal Democrats answer the charge that you cannot govern…when you have a clear-cut majority in state House and Senate, all the state constitutional offices…as well as the governorship…and you cannot get along sufficiently to avoid a train wreck? Further…how does it happen that Cook county is governed from top to bottom by liberal Democrats and the county is in shambles? Hynes kept whining that he cannot meet with the governor and the governor can’t or won’t try to solve state problems. Well, then, why hasn’t Hynes and the other panjandrums tried to impeach him—actually called for his impeachment? Hynes is pie-tin in depth and a waffler.

The reason the question wasn’t asked is that the questioner, Carol Marin is a liberal Democrat—and so that logical question would not have occurred to her in her cross-eyed (so Democrat she can’t see straight) perspective.

The Slut-Times.

Looking over the “Sun-Times” yesterday, I toyed with the idea of canceling the subscription…and also that of the “Tribune”…but for the inconvenience of reviewing the week’s news for my Sunday radio show (too cumbersome to go to the Internet and pull down stories). But honestly, the paper has taken on the aura of slowly drifting, decaying excrement in a yellowed, un-flushed toilet bowl.

The filthy tabloid produced by that schlock Michael Cooke makes it hard to even bring to the breakfast table. Here’s the main story—the gay high school for Chicago is deferred. Then on the inside, an editorial advocating a gay high school. Then Laura Berman, the paper’s sexologist has a column urging more people to be swingers. Her column is written for ordinary run-of-the-mill sluts…her niche audience actually. Actually it will be comforting to see the paper go down…as it rivals its cousin “Tribune” in a race to the bottom. My first preference is for “Tribune” to go down, then the “Sun-Times.”

I understand I missed the piece that said the clever Q-T columnist Zay Smith has been demoted to street reporter. Q-T while resolutely liberal was one of the cleverest things in the paper due to Smith’s cogent workmanlike editing and commenting. Score one more triumph for Cooke as he continues to degrade what was once a great newspaper.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Personal Aside: “Who, Me?” Catholic Citizens Calls for Boycott of Radical ACORN Funding Group…Whom Would You Name to the Senate if You were Blago?


Who, Me?

Chicago’s Catholic Citizens of Illinois is calling for a contributors’ boycott against the radical Catholic Campaign for Human Development—for which collectors’ plates will be passed next Sunday in every archdiocesan parish Mass. The baskets will be passed notwithstanding that for many years, CCHD has been either openly or surreptitiously cooperating in supporting programs that are deleterious to true Catholic social policies including right-to-life.

The CCHD nationally has been a supporter of ACORN which is the far-left wing of the Democratic party. In line with the age old duplicitous nature of left-wingers in the church (notably the late Msgr. John Egan, called a saint by the unknowing but who cooperated with Saul Alinsky and was one of those who launched “Call to Action,” a group that often has been engaged in vocal heretical practice vis-à-vis church teaching). The usual technique is that money is conferred to hostile, pro-abort groups and when called to account, a representative of the bishops says “huh? Aw gee, we’re sorry!’ Sort of like the way Fr. Scott Donohue (a great “who, me?” actor) did after pro-abort Hillary Clinton was invited to speak in behalf of the Mercy School for Boys & Girls while she was a Democratic presidential candidate.

The first stage of “who, me?” was for Donohue to say he didn’t invite Clinton at all—it was a committee of supporters. When the committee of supporters said that they voted for Clinton to come, all right but it was Donohue who invited her, he said, “What? Who, me?” The cardinal signed off on it.

Then the cardinal’s people said, “no he didn’t.” “Yes, he did.” Following which they correct themselves, “well, he was told about it too late so what could he do, poor man!.” That same kind of indirection, Machiavellian strategy, really has guided the CCHD in its support of radical groups for many years. “Who, me?” In the meantime, the collections go on. And many of those in the pews either doze on or forget.

The CCI Statement.

Mrs. Mary Anne Hackett, president of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, a group of authenticist Catholics which is not affiliated with the bishops, Sunday called upon all Catholics to boycott the CCHD. She can be reached at (708) 354-5373. A portion of her statement follows:

“The CCHD was sold to Catholic parishioners with a slogan of ‘a hand up instead of a handout’ but instead, CCHD has heavily invested in the political organizing techniques of Saul Alinsky, a Marxist organizer from Chicago who founded the nationwide Industrial Areas Foundation which in Chicago is known as United Power. United Power has been financed by various mainline Protestant churches and has made great inroads into the Catholic church in Chicago, recruiting parish ministers and receiving funding from various parishes through dues and contributions. For all practical purposes, United Power is an extension of the far-left wing of the Democratic party.

“In a November 4 report in the ‘Washington Times,’ the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced it has hired forensic accounting specialists to investigate more than $1 million in church funding to voter-registration group ACORN suspecting that the money may have been spent in criminal acts that would negatively impact the tax exempt status of the Church.

“The CCD has given more than $7.3 million to ACORN over the past decade for about 320 projects, including $900,000 in 2008 and $1,110,000 in 2007. In June of this year, the Catholic church allegedly froze a $1.2 million grant for 38 ACORN chapters after the community-organizing group was accused of voter fraud in 15 states. Critics of CCHD have clallenged the USCCB to provide evidence of the freeze and confirm that no paymengs have been made to ACORN in 2008.”

President Hackett added, “It is well known that ACORN played a major role in the current financial crisis by intimidating banks through public rallies, invasion of bank lobbies with large groups of ACORN activists and picketing bank executives’ homes. ACORN bullied banks into making loans to people who could not repay them. To avoid vilification as racist, local banks were forced to make loans to unqualified borrowers even allowing them to use food stamps as collateral for the loans.”

End of Hackett statement.

ACORN Sprouts Vile Weeds.

ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) claims to have more than 350,000 members and more than 850 chapters in more than100 cities across the U. S. It endorsed Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential primary (Obama along with other lawyers had represented the group in a 1995 lawsuit). Since then it has been prominently listed as a front for the Obama campaign and Justice department and FBI agents are scouring the group’s records in response to citizen complaints of militant extra-political action.

The archdiocese of Chicago has approved the collections scheduled for this coming Sunday at every Mass.

It will be indeed interesting to see if…and how…the Chicago area media will cover news of the boycott before the collections are taken up this Sunday.

Whom Would You Name to the Senate?

Understand, Blago is bent on self-destruction. But also he’s a man of surprise. If you were Blago, what would you do?

The easiest thing to do is to name that old buzzard Emil Jones. He’d fit right in with Ted Stevens (too bad Stevens won’t be around). But Emil would find a fast friend with Bobby Byrd the ex-Klansman. They’d put race aside to grovel in earmarks up to their armpits. No, that would be too predictable for Blago to do.

Blago’s prime enemy is U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. So name Fitzgerald to the Senate to get him out of the way. Naw. Fitzgerald is too canny to take the job.

Another irritant may be U. S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. who is hustling the media and everyone else to get named to the job. In fact, he has transgressed the line of decorum…is absolutely slobbering over the job. What would you do if you were Blago and you wanted to have some fun? Name Sandi Jackson, Jackson’s wife and alderman, a lawyer in her own right, to the job and watch the fur fly. They’d arrive in Domestic Relations Court in short order.

You are Blago and you worry about Lisa Madigan running against you in 2010. Name her to the Senate. She probably wouldn’t take it. Her poppa would forbid it, saving her to run for governor. Then name poppa. No good. Although Mike Madigan would be the most laconic lawmaker since Blind Tom O’Brien served in the House.

How about that burr under Blago’s saddle Pat Quinn? Now HE’D TAKE IT. You betcha. Quinn has been salivating for higher office since he and his brother started that misnomer the “Coalition for Political Honesty” which under the duplicitous rubric that it would reduce numbers in the House set up the Big 4 leadership and made everyone else mushrooms. Do you know how holy he looks when he lies—which is just about all the time? Look at his eyes when he’s rolling them…saying that “the peeepul” have to get this and that? Those sanctimonious eyes look like they’re going to pop out of his head when he’s straining, the veins standing out on his forehead to affect sincerity. But there’s also a look of guilt in them: some still residual in that old con. He seems in pain when he lies. Looks like that statue of Saint Sebastian in the Vatican basement shot full of arrows, gritting his teeth and suffering—offering it up.

Suppose he would name Michelle Obama? That’d be a true Blago whacked out decision. Take everyone by surprise. He’d get the blacks back with that.

Name Mike Flannery of Channel 2. He’s earned it and he’d take it and he’d be so happy to vote straight party-line to support Barack. A better choice would be Eric Zorn who’s earned it too…but he’d bore the hell out of us by making distinctions. Also he’d have to bring Mary Schmich along to help him sort out the variegated ethical niceties…the kind without absolutes, of course.

A public service to public television would be to name Joel Weisman—getting him out of WTTW…thus creating a Jewish seat—the first in state history. He’d take it too. One thing: you’d have a grinner there—a grimacer, actually…in contradistinction to Durbin who’s a frowner to make believe he’s engaged in such tiring hard work that is the people’s business.

Name Carol Marin of the “Sun-Times,” Channel 5 and Channel 11 whose earned it as well in a lifetime of hemophiliac service to liberal causes with never a break in lefty regularity. She too would take it in a minute. Can you imagine her in the Senate, its Mother Superior? Looking reproachfully at her colleagues…taking the floor to pronounce “icky poo” on pragmatism and shaking a manicured forefinger to those who are cutting deals?

Republicans should hope he names Neil Steinberg. Brash, loud, anti-Catholic, erratic. Obnoxious who’d tell everybody how he stopped drinking. He’d take it and as such even the moribund GOP would have a chance against him.

Too bad Andy Greeley is sick. He’d be a natural choice. He’d take it in spades and become the best wheeler-dealer there age 80 or not, immaculate in his black suit and roman collar. A true Cardinal Richelieu. No, Wolsey? Maybe. Naw—Archbishop Cranmer more appropriately. Chuck Schumer would have a devil of a time getting to the TV cameras as Andy stepped between them and the sage of New York. Andy’d have great fun in service of dissent. The Pope said priests should not hold public office which even got Fr. Drinan to quit. Not Andy. (I pray for Andy every day at Mass…did so even when he was well. Or appeared to be well).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Personal Aside: Breaking News--“Tribune” Tells Us There’s No Daley Machine. Imagine That!

The “Tribune.”

Yesterday in a front page article in the weirdly kaleidoscopic “Tribune”…where the editorials aren’t found in the main paper but behind the obits in the second section…(and which I call kaleidoscopic because each day shows a different pattern of subjective judgment—what you’re told definitely yesterday is different from what you’re told today and what you will be told tomorrow)…a news story by Rick Pearson and Bob Secter informs us that “there may be no more enduring caricature in politics than that of the Chicago machine led by a powerful mayor with life or death say over an army of the city’s elected officials.”

Hah! Too bad Andy Greeley isn’t well enough to read that! Get well, Andy! I’m praying you will. When your venue runs out at the tabloid there’s a place for you with the kaleidoscope. Now, think that Pearson—Secter thought one over for a minute. What you thought was a machine in Chicago is illusory. John Kass that paper’s premier columnist and the late Mike Royko, columnist for three papers (Trib, Sun-Times and old Daily News) have been in gross error. Pearson and Secter tell you so. But then tomorrow you shake the kaleidoscope and somebody’ll tell you different.

“There may be no more enduring caricature” of the Daley machine holding life or death over its minions. That will be news to the jailed Bob Sorich, Daley’s patronage chief convicted of running a scam to promote political hiring out of Daley’s office…and to his assistant Tim McCarthy and Patrick Slattery and John Sullivan. They were all sentenced to jail as part of an enduring caricature. They willy-nilly rigged a hiring scheme to reward job candidates they imagined were favored by the mayor with jobs and promotions: all the while it was a caricature. Daley didn’t want it and does not run an organization that would do such a thing.

It comes as a startling revelation also to Don Tomczak, a boss in the Chicago water department, who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. He’s in jail because he admitted to doing something wrong…to sending an army of workers out to elect Rahm Emanuel in the 5th…when nobody on the 5th floor of city hall wanted that done. What a jerk! The mayor didn’t want it, Emanuel didn’t want it but Tomczak did it anyhow.

If this inclines you to change your thinking about Chicago, don’t let it. Remember that this comes from this town’s not-long-for-this world’s kaleidoscopic newspaper…where every time you shake the box a different picture emerges with special patterns. This comes from a paper that is sick at its soul and shuffling on shifting sands of no absolutes except what pleases people today. Liberalism in addition to being a spiritual disorder…and the substitution of a desire for egalitarian attainment of heaven on earth rather than waiting for the Hereafter… is the disease of a stupid paper which wonders where its readers and advertisers have gone—wonders: why? WHY? Conservatives, high school grads, white blue collars, the staple of readership have been told in so many words by grad school journalistic elites they don’t belong. It’s a new day dawning!

Pearson who’s supposed to be the kaleidoscope’s political reporter—which is a laugh: he’s cross-eyed meaning he can’t see straight because he’s so liberal Democratic—has told you the image of Daley the boss of a machine is an enduring caricature. Nice, liberal pretty picture: a non-partisan Daley. Shake the box and there’s yet another liberal picture from an earlier story. . Michelle Obama “is poised to be the new Oprah and the next Jacqueline Onassis—combined!” Shake the box once again…on the same day Pearson wrote of no machine…on another page, squishy soft cross-eyed John McCarron did a puff piece on David Axelrod. Axelrod “an idealist…also a pragmatist who likes to see progressive ideas get done, not just voiced [who] helped position Mayor Richard Daley”…now GET THIS: “as one of the world’s true authorities on urban innovation.”

More from Pearson: Shake the box again. You find: At the outset of his career, Obama was “largely irrelevant to Daley.” Shake it hard now and what do you find? “While Obama never relied on city patronage workers…his ascension as an outsider was aided by powerful people who were also key players inside Daley’s sphere of influence.” Gee, irrelevant to Daley but helped by his key players. See what I mean by kaleidoscopic? Widely different pictures and almost all in one Pearson-Secter news story.

Give it a hard shake this time. Really hard. Here’s Abner Mikva, the dinosaur of liberal party regularity…once an independent who sold out to the regulars aeons ago—the guy who was Bill Clinton’s ethics chief and who found nothing to do…and what does Honest Ab say? “You get a lot of leeway if you’re from Hyde Park.” Really? You get leeway if you play ball with Daley.

Ab, how did you get elected to Congress after having been beat by the last Spanish American war veteran to serve in the House Barrett O”Hara? You sold out, Ab. Remember? That’s how you got the wherewithal to move to Evanston, Hyde Park North and get elected. You played ball. That’s how you got the federal judgeship, Ab. Don’t con us. You played ball. And from there to the Clinton White House. You played ball. The mayor doesn’t give a damn what you think of the country—check this out with Bill Ayres—SO LONG AS YOU PLAY HIS OWN GAME. How did Bill Ayres get to be a “distinguished professor”? Because he’s a distinguished academic? You think? Give up? Because he’s in tight with city hall. No, not because his old man was Com Ed boss. Because he…Bill Ayres…has paid his dues. How did Marilyn Katz get all these big p. r. contracts with the city—because city hall gives a damn about the 1960s SDS? No, because Katz plays ball.

But at this point the “Trib” kaleidoscope is stuck. It shows pictures of varied dimensions, many hued colors—but all cross-eyed liberal. With very few exceptions…I can think of only one…it won’t show the political picture the way it actually is because it’s another “New York Times” wanna be. But it never will be. It’ll only be what it is: a USA Today xerox near-lefty propaganda circular. That’s why as a paper it’s not long for this world. I personally hope…because I hate defectors…it folds up ahead of the “Sun-Times.” The kaleidoscope paper is a coarse, ugly creature in lurid makeup and not worth the time it takes to spread it on the bottom of a training bin for a not yet housebroken puppy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Personal Asides: Where in the World is Q-T?... Flannery Defends his Chris Matthews Journalistic Style…Fr. Robert Barron: Catholicism Reduced to Only Social Justice is Transitory.



Has anyone seen Q-T aka “Quick Takes,” the witty and very-very Democratic “Sun-Times” column written by Zay Smith? I liked it even though it skewered lots of my favorites. Hasn’t been seen in the paper for days.


Wednesday on a feature hilariously named “Truth in Politics” on Channel 2, Mike Flannery, the station’s political editor…the local version of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews (who every time he sees Obama feels a tingle up his leg)… undertook to defend charges of media bias for Barack Obama that ignored legitimate charges against the candidate. This is the same Flannery who two weeks ago on the Friday night WTTW séance of cross-eyed trained seals (so liberal Democratic they can’t see straight)…aka Joel Weisman’s “Chicago Week in Review” …said he was “crossing my fingers” that no gaffe would be committed by Obama that would interfere with his election. Yes, the very same Flannery who wrote in a paid commercial Chicago advertising supplement to “The New York Times” that he asked Obama when he was a state senator for a picture with him and his kids when he gets to the White House…and an ornament from the White House Christmas tree. The laudatory article could have been written by David Axelrod…and maybe was for all we know.

His byline on that article should have gotten Flannery transferred off the Obama beat by any first-rate TV station. Then, his statement that his fingers were crossed in Obama’s behalf should also have gotten him permanently axed. But news quality is so low in Chicago that one only has to pass two qualifications to do a standup in front of a camera: be warm with a temperature of at least 98.6 and be cross-eyed (liberal Democrat).

If there were an objective standard to journalism here, a question should be asked of Flannery: how much was he paid for the article booming Obama? Another: Since the article was an in-kind contribution to the Obama presidential campaign, was it listed in their disclosure forms?

Seriously, the disgraceful thing about Flannery’s attitude and upfront campaign contribution to the Obama campaign is this: news consumers of CBS 2 Chicago as everywhere else have the right to news that is supposedly objective—including hard news…unfavorable as well as favorable… about the candidacy of Obama. Chris Matthews is at least a commentator and certifiably so when MSNBC removed him as an election night anchor and all responsibility for coverage in favor of his opining. He’s now reported to be readying himself to run as a Democratic candidate for the U. S. senate from Pennsylvania…and has allowed his name to be used in polling opposite Arlen Specter. At least we know where he’s coming from. Flannery is reputed to be the station’s political editor and carries the responsibility to be objective—at least in appearance.

Flannery has not hinted his interest in Democratic political office; yet you never know—good name, good location (Beverly). And he is allowed to masquerade as political editor by acting as a commentator ala Matthews. Flannery and Matthews are almost identical in their views—Matthews more hyperbolic. Like Matthews, Flannery looks and sounds star-smitten when he refers to Obama.

In “Truth in Politics” (that they can bill it as thus without being knocked down by a lightening bolt is miraculous in itself) this is what he says:

FLANNERY: “We don’t speak for the media, only ourselves. The Barack Obama that [sic] we have known for years is patriotic, the same in private as he is in public. Perhaps that made our coverage different.”

HUH? Can you parse this logically? Let’s see (a) he is patriotic in private as he is in public and (b) “that made our coverage different.”

FLANNNERY: “We largely ignored the uproar over 1960s radical Bill Ayres.”

THIS IS THE KEY. OF COURSE YOU DID. Finally getting down to admitting it. Ayres was a radical only in the 1960s? Not now? In his latest TV interview Ayres says he’s still radical, that in the 1960s he didn’t do enough. Flannery: “1960s radical” despite he has never apologized for his bombing the Capitol and Pentagon and has said he only regrets he was not more successful. Plus that he was photographed standing on the American flag a few years ago?

FLANNERY: “Obama once worked with Ayres on school issues. So did Mayor Daley and big business leaders. So what?”

HUH? You’ve been covering Chicago politics here for years and don’t know Daley by this time? Unlike his father, Richard M. is INCLUSIVE…a giant sucking machine, sucking in everyone regardless of ideology…from Bernie Stone to Rick Garcia to Mike Pfleger, asking only that they support him and keep their ideology. Daleyville does them favors and squeezes support out of them in recompense. How do you think Billy Ayres got to be a “distinguished professor?” And how did he chum with business leaders (notwithstanding his own father’s high standing)? He’s “in” with the Daleyites. Why do you think Billy Ayres is clam-silent about the Daley machine? He’s in with the Daleyites. Why do you think Mike Pfleger hasn’t been canned for violating the canons of the Mass at Saint Sabina’s and turning it into a Democratic rally? He’s Big Time with the Daleyites as Jimmy Lago the archdiocese’s lay chancellor…who really runs the Church in Chicago…Eddie Vrdolyak’s heaviest precinct captain …understands with a wink and a nod. You’re Marilyn Katz of the SDS in the 1960s, renounce nothing but play ball with the machine and get juicy p. r. contracts. Do you think she’s become more conservative since she has been drawing dough from the city? Talk to her sometime.

FLANNERY: “There were times when Chicago reporters pressed then-candidate Obama hard.”

HUH? Hard? Were you one of them, Mr. Flannery? Didn’t see much of it from you on your station.

FLANNERY: “For months we wanted more answers about his former friend, Tony Rezko than Obama was willing to give.”

HUH? He got away with not giving you answers didn’t he while your adulation continued. Did you go on the air and demand answers? We never heard much about it from you on your station. In the face of this stonewalling why did you cross your fingers while on WTTW hoping he would get elected? Why is it that it took a blogger, Fran Eaton, to go to Jeremiah Wright’s church and get the DVDs that were for sale…why neither you nor anyone else locally made a move to buy them? Why was it following Eaton’s disclosure it took an ABC national correspondent to do the same thing while Chicago pro-Obama media masseurs like you, Flannery, looked the other way?

FLANNERY: “Reporters had another judgment to make when Obama’s critics called him inexperienced. Obama was a U.S. senator with more national experience than either George W. Bush or Bill Clinton had as candidates.”

HUH? With that p. r. puff you really deserve the 3rd string slot in the Obama White House press operation you might get from Axelrod, Flannery. Or a shot at running for the House from local Dem slate-makers…which old WBBM geezer John Madigan always wanted and never got despite his pandering service to the Democratic party in the `60s equal to yours now. If you think sitting at a senatorial desk for a few months confers “national experience” which tops running a major state or even heading up its energy resources panel, you’re a hopeless naïf.


Fr. Robert Barron.

One of the most hopeful signs of renaissance in the Chicago Catholic archdiocese is the emergence of a first-rate scholar and speaker…Fr. Robert Barron…who has the communication skills equivalent to a latter day Fulton Sheen without the dated histrionics. He is the holder of the Francis Cardinal George professorship of Faith and Culture at Mundelein seminary. For a short time many years ago he was stationed at St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge where in his early formative years we heard him and were mightily impressed. Cardinal George has seen to it…laudably…that Fr. Barron has a megaphone for the cogent expression of philosophy and theology. In the latest edition of the archdiocesan newspaper, “The Chicago New World,” he has a column and faith and culture. Last week his topic was the intertwining of Catholicism with social justice.

He was reviewing a book by Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel, entitled “Being Catholic Now: Prominent Americans Talk About Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning.” You should get a copy of it. Fr. Barron points up two these that come up with regularity in the Kennedy book. “The first is the favoring of ‘the faith’ or ‘spirituality’ over the institutional church and the second is the reduction of Catholicism to the works of social justice.”

On Kennedy’s attempt to distinguish “faith” from the institutional church, Fr. Barron says: “[T]his acknowledgment should never lead one to conclude that the faith is divorceable from the hierarchical structure of the church as though the Catholic faith could float free of the pesky interference of priests and bishops. The church is neither a philosophical debating society nor a political party but rather a mystical body, hierarchically ordered in such a way that authentic teaching and sacraments come thropugh the ministrations of the ordained.”

Kerry Kennedy related how her mother, if offended by a homily, would get up and lead her brood of children out of church. Barron: That image appears to be “Donatism of the left. In the 4th century, St. Augustine battled the Donatist heresy which held that only morally praiseworthy priests could legitimately administer the sacraments and preach. The great saint insisted that the power of word and sacrament does not come (thank God) from the personal worthiness of the minister but from Christ who works through them.”

He adds: “The second theme that disturbed me could be found in almost every essay in the book. In reflection after reflection, we hear that Catholicism amounts to a passion for service to the poor and the marginalized. Again and again, the contributors said that what they prized the most in their Catholic formation was the inculcation of the principles of inclusivity, equality and social justice.

“The church’s social teaching comes in for a great deal of praise throughout the book. But in the vast majority of the pieces, no mention is made of distinctively Catholic doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, redemption, original sin, creation of grace. For the most part it would be difficult to distinguish the social commitments of the contributors from those of a dedicated humanist of any or no religious affiliation.

“The problem here is that the social teaching of the church flows necessarily from and is subordinated to the doctrinal convictions of classical Christianity. We care for the poor precisely because we are all connected to one another through the acts of creation and redemption…We worry about the marginalized precisely because all of us are cells, molecules and organs in a mystical body whose head is Christ risen from the dead. And our work on behalf of social justice is nourished by the Eucharist which fully realizes and expresses the living dynamics of the mystical communion…

“…My fear is that a Catholicism reduced to social justice will, in short order, perhaps a generation or two, wither away.”

That’s about as good as Sheen and Dorothy Day on their best days.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Personal Aside: What is the Next Logical Step for Republicans?


Party Should Turn More Conservative.

Every time the national GOP loses the presidency, it becomes more conservative than when it owned the White House. That was the case in 1933 after Herbert Hoover a New Deal-style anti-free market experimenter lost and conservative congressional Republicans changed the party’s philosophy. Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency largely applied Bob Taft’s domestic policies—but also his military ones: Ike rejecting Nixon’s urging for boosting troops in Vietnam or wasting more money on defense to fight the illusory JFK-propagated “missile gap”. Jerry Ford’s loss led to the rise of Reagan conservatism.

So what is likely to happen to the Republicans now that they are in the wilderness? They should speedily become more conservative than George W. Bush has been. But before we go there, let’s take a brief backward look at the election in order to put it in perspective.

The Meltdown was the Deciding Factor.

After every losing election the GOP produces fly-speckers who say “if…if…if.” If he had gone to Ottumwa, Iowa rather than Des Moines. If he had picked Romney instead of Palin. If his staff hadn’t tried to micromanage Palin. If he had a ground game. If he hadn’t accepted federal financing (I agree here most of all). These things are speculative and counter-productive. The mid-September economic meltdown did it. Period.

Going out of the gate, with the unpopularity of the Iraq War and President Bush, the Republicans had no right whatever to imagine they could win in 2008…but McCain started to. Why? The country was center-right and Barack Obama was not. All the way along until mid-September even with the adulatory pro-Obama media working against McCain, it seemed to work--John McCain clocked at 2, 3, 4 or even 5 points ahead of Obama despite all the national media hype that inculcated the man from Chicago as destiny’s savior. With mid-September came the economic meltdown. Since that time, McCain ran 4,5, 6 or 7 points behind depending on the poll you read., was right on the button: Obama won with plus 6.5% of the electorate. In electoral votes of course it was greater—365 to 162 (270 needed to elect). So we should stop muttering if-if-if. The meltdown did it.

Loss but Not a Disaster.

The Democrats did not gain enough in the Senate (plus 6) to put down a Republican filibuster—such as may well occur if they try imposing a “Freedom of Choice” act to override Hyde amendment protections or return to the mid-named “Fairness Doctrine” which would put conservative talk shows in a strait-jacket. In the House Dems gained plus 26. No tidal wave there. Nor in ideology. Polls show now Dems comprise 39% of the electorate, Republicans 32% contrasting with the 37-37 tie in 2004. Nor is the spread in Congress dismaying. After his victory in 1976 Jimmy Carter had bigger margins in the Congress. Moreover—and this is most important—22% of the electorate call themselves liberal (up one point since 2004) and 34% call themselves conservative (unchanged since 2004). Forty-four percent constitute a swing vote—self-identified as moderate—compared with 45% in 2004. That is amply sufficient to build another coalition—if care be done that while continuing George W. Bush’s laudable social policies, it does not simulate his foreign or domestic views.

There were no huge gaffes in the 2008 campaign that Republicans need to torture themselves with. Sarah Palin was just what the doctor prescribed as needed—a bright conservative pro-lifer to energize the dominant evangelical base…and her addition to the ticket undeniably aided the effort, no matter what the liberal media think. In fact their frenetic hatred energizes her case for 2012.

Three Signal “Events.”

Often I have cited Harold Macmillan’s view of politics that it is not engulfed so much in strategizing as in “events, my dear boy, events.” I list the salient events that changed the campaign as three. First, the brilliant defense of pro-life by McCain in the most intellectually stimulating two-part interviews at the Saddleback church run by Pastor Rick Warren. In his interview Obama seriously blundered by saying the question of when life begins “is above my pay grade.” McCain surged with conservatives at that point who set aside all doubt that he was their guy.

In reaction to Obama’s disaster at Saddleback, liberal media felt for the first time that the election of their candidate was in jeopardy…and they dropped any pretense of objectivity in order to savage the candidate who was once their favorite Republican and censor stories that reacted unfavorably on Obama. That’s when the stories first started appearing about McCain’s “advanced” age of 72 (ridiculous: Churchill was 77 when he returned to power in 1951; Charles deGaulle was 77 and at the peak of his career when as president of France he declared an arms embargo on Israel in 1967). The attack culminated with leaked stories of how his reputed short-fuse would ignite world tensions (ridiculous again, the shortest presidential fuses in modern times belonged to the explosive Ike, then Harry Truman, then Bill Clinton).

Second, McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin which so angered the media because she was pro-life…and more: she had resolved to have a Down syndrome baby when liberals believe if abortion rights mean anything the “right” to end an inconvenient life by a mother was being negated. So they resolved to picture her as a naïf and bumpkin with no depth despite the fact she had far more executive experience…as head of the Alaska Oil and Gas commission and governor of the state… than did Obama who in his embarrassingly thin resume ran nothing: zero, zilch. The McCain campaign staff cooperated unwittingly by making her unavailable to conservative talk show media and Fox News, wasting much time preparing her for two liberal appearances where she was savaged—Charlie Gibson’s on ABC and Katie Couric’s on CBS.

Accordingly, media escalated minor news about Palin (the $100,000 wardrobe purchased by the Republican National Committee for her, for example that is being donated to the poor: a news story that stunningly was released by McCain staffers) and embargoed the Los Angeles Times video of a horrific toast Obama made to a Palestinian leader. The New York Times relegated to page 62 behind the corset ads Joe Biden’s scary recounting to NBC’s Katie Couric (who nodded approvingly, itself a weird circumstance) of how as president FDR stabilized the country after the stock market crash of 1929 by going on national television, not understanding that Hoover not FDR was president then and there was no television beyond experimental devices in `29…which cast doubt on Biden’s mental acuity since in his health record there are recorded two serious and separate aneurisms of the brain.

The third event was the economic meltdown which was beyond McCain’s or Obama’s power to avert or even ameliorate. By that time, the Sleepy Eye of the electorate opened wide, grasped that a world crisis was in the making and that Republicans were in power—so the Eye concluded there must be a change in command no matter what the risk.

Summary: The two given conditions for reelection being peace and prosperity, there are no examples in U.S. history where the party in office during wartime which also presides over an economic panic was returned to power: none.

For the future, what should be done?

I: Return to Taft Foreign Policy.

On foreign policy. The direction of foreign-defense policy in the Republican party can be changed without negating the past or pulling up all the stitches that have gone heretofore. Something has happened to take the war off the screen in the 2008 campaign: the surge worked; we’re winning in Iraq.

This leads to the question: Was Iraq necessary? After 9/11 we waited for terrorism’s second shoe to drop—and nothing happened. All the while other sites became targets: Madrid, Glasgow, London and Bali, the entirety of Denmark as well as, of course, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. All this time we have been safe from suicide bombers, germ warfare and skyscrapers being struck by air transports. Assuredly we are not out of danger, but when the presidential campaign regards Iraq as of secondary importance to Sarah Palin’s wardrobe it seems to me there are two conclusions to be drawn. (A) Either al Qaeda has been on vacation or (b) something serious has been done to frustrate their ambitions.

I would say that for now, since terrorism is off the table and presumably will be for the duration of the Bush presidency, out-of-power Republicans should accept the view of the nation’s leading expert on the Middle East, Bernard Lewis that Bush’s reaction to invade Iraq was correct—because for the first time terrorists were shown America has the will and energy to fight for which he credits Bush’s action in Iraq. Since he’s one of the world’s leading experts at age 92, I defer to him.

However I will say that the Republican party of the future should not echo the Bush policy of announcing we will eradicate all tyranny in the world to be replaced by democracy whether the inhabitants want democracy or not . This Wilsonian futility is self-evident.

Then what foreign policy should be adopted by the Republican party? I would say it is largely contained in A Foreign Policy for Americans written by Robert A. Taft circa 1951. He was not just a great constitutionalist but a skilled diplomat, having learned intelligent policies from his father, the 27th president who encouraged U.S. businesses to invest in under-developed nations (for the U.S.’s own good, thus it was called “dollar diplomacy”) . Young Bob learned at his knee and served first-hand as a legal counselor at Versailles where he learned the folly of Wilsonian idealism. In his book he wrote, “Our traditional policy of neutrality and non-interference with other nations was based on the principle that this policy was the best way to avoid disputes with other nations and to maintain the liberty of this country without war.” But he made clear that “it has always opposed any commitment by the United States in advance to take any military action outside of our territory. It would leave us free to interfere or not interfere according to whether we consider the case of sufficiently vital interest to the liberty of this country. It was the policy of the open hand.” (Italics mine).

Taft’s should be the policy leading to the future with the proviso of returning full measure to terrorists who strike at this country. Far different from the missions made by Condoleezza Rice where she junkets around the world as a constable of rectitude and screams at every unfriendly country including Iran that the United States won’t stand for this-or-that. That is world policeman stuff.

Nor is Barack Obama’s enunciated policies like Taft’s. Obama is willing to meet with America’s enemies without preconditions (it’s a good question whether he thinks we have any enemies). He was willing from the outset to abandon Iraq. Thus we would have lost the war and trivialized the lives lost there—a war we are now winning. That is not the Bob Taft view of the world who strongly opposed the Korea “police action” but determined that once we were in Korea to we must win it. He would have chosen Douglas MacArthur…the architect of “there is no substitute for victory” as his vice president. (How those two would have meshed, however, is anybody’s guess).

Another point. I have always been embarrassed by Republican candidates publicly pandering for Jewish votes here by threatening to engage in a Mideastern war solely to defend Israel and no other purpose. Here we were in 2008, at war in Iraq, at war in Afghanistan, on a rumble with Russia over Georgia, threatening to repulse Iran… and John McCain issuing yet another threat of war bearing on Israel’s survival. Almost like we are lashed together as one nation. Those who respect the policy of the free hand for U.S. involvement were and are genuinely disturbed with that talk.

I can understand our evangelical Protestant allies…invaluable supporters in all elections… see a symbolic Biblical tie between Christianity and Judaism which I share. Assuredly, Protestant evangelicals are an indispensable part of any winning effort Republicans are to make. They who voted for McCain by 92% are far more influential and effective in the grassroots for conservative elections than indifferent Catholics (only one in four who go to church) who voted for Obama 54%.

All the same, while we revere democracy in Israel (in fact we send millions of dollars in aid to it very year) the most pragmatic political argument to scotch the pounding of war-drums vis-à-vis Israel is this: 78% of American Jews voted for Obama who was pulled up short early in the campaign as being insufficiently pro-Israel and who was at times was even suspect as favoring Palestinians and was quoted in that famous toast as saying he learned much at the feet of an anti-Israeli Palestinian scholar.

Especially to nurture the tie with evangelical Protestants who comprise an essential part of our base, we should respect the historic ties between Christianity and Judaism. But let’s do it with less stentorian bombast than McCain, George W. Bush and others have stressed. Under Richard Nixon with Henry Kissinger at his elbow and under George H. W. Bush they pursued realistic not idealistic foreign policies. Realism should return to American foreign policy—essentially despite all the challenges, we cannot and should not send our secretary of state across the globe issuing dire warnings of war-war-war.

II: A Sharply Curtailed Domestic Policy.

On domestic policy, Republicans should get one thing straight: The only “compassionate conservatism” that counts is lessened government size, fewer oppressive regulations and tax cuts. Not by adding other government programs to those liberals have created which we label as ours…as did Bush and Good Time Charlie Speaker Dennis Hastert…when they passed their hugely costly new entitlement program for seniors.

On the economic meltdown: It was not caused principally by “business greed” (as McCain and Palin have erroneously said) but by government and political foul-ups…partially by Alan Greenspan’s arrogant mistakes at the Fed for which he is now contrite…but most significantly by Democratic favorites at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac named in 1988 by Bill Clinton who got hundreds of millions in bonuses, Franklin Raines and Jamie Garlick. A Bush OMB probe in 2004 found massive fraudulent bookkeeping at Fannie Mae but was blocked by Democrats, Congress refused to hold hearings.

All the while Fannie Mae gave millions to Democratic causes including ACORN and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), banking chairman along with Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), a member of the Federal Financial Management committee as well as Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), chairman of House Financial Services, an acknowledged gay whose boyfriend was a key executive at Fannie Mae. (Media blacked out this news). Raines and top executives were forced to resign in 2005, paid $31.4 million in civil fines, did not go to jail, received little media coverage and were allowed to keep their bonuses.

McCain introduced the “Federal Housing Regulatory Reform” act in 2005, saying ”if Congress doesn’t act taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market and the overall financial system.” Media gave it almost no coverage. Democratic recipients of Fannie Mae cash opposed it and it died aborning. Instead, the Democratic congress passed stringent anti-business bill, Sarbanes-Oxley which media gave extensive coverage to.

On the $700 billion rescue package: The proper conservative focus is given by the man I supported for president before George W. Bush defeated him and who has, I believe, a superb economic mind in the U.S. with a journalist’s ability to put ideas in plain words: Steve Forbes. “Belatedly, governments realized the only way to get credit flowing again was to make massive infusions of new equity into failing banks…Despite the crisis, the global economy still retains enormous strengths…The world is flush with cash. It’s frozen because of fear, but the cash is there. Productivity gains are burgeoning. So will this global boom resume next year, slowly at first and then with increasing momentum? It should. Whether that happens, however, depends on the next highly dangerous phase: the political aftermath.” The change in focus that came yesterday from Treasury seemed to indicate the rightness of Forbes’ position.

By which he means whether we follow policies that hinder growth or and retard or abort a full-blown recovery—“regulations that stifle innovation and taxes that harm the creation and deployment of capital.” Such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s crusade to add car makers to the list of taxpayer beneficiaries and to “let Main street share with Wall street” whatever that means.

Also: The out-of-power Republican party must be to take up what has been aptly called the elements of the “leave us alone” campaign of Grover Norquist—fighting government’s “takings,” defending gun owners’ rights, ending misguided campaign finance “reforms” that curtail free speech (in favor of unlimited contributions with immediate Internet disclosure), and by all means defending the taxpayer: reducing the corporate income tax rate, cutting the 35% tax rate on corporate capital gains, advocating a flat tax, abolishing the alternative minimum tax, abolishing the death tax and most important, creating a constitutional protection against taxes creeping back.

There: that’s off my chest. Enough for now. More at some future time.