Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Personal Aside: Blago Sticks it to his Party with Burris Appointment.


Dems Resolve to Stick it to Burris Because They Hate Blago.

A Black Alan Dixon.

Roland Burris’ appointment to the U.S. senate by Gov. Blagojevich seriously complicates an already jumbled political atmosphere for Illinois Democratic leaders.

The best description of Burris is that he’s a black Alan Dixon. Listen, that’s not a bad referral. I very much liked Dixon and like Burris. Dixon was a thoroughly honorable moderate senator…a friend of mine…who was the only senator who had served the state in all three branches: judicial, legislative and executive. He was far from aloof. Like Burris, Dixon, an inveterate glad-hander and non-confrontational regular Democrat who served as senator from 1980-93 and was known as “Al the Pal,” was sunny dispositioned and reasonable.

Like Dixon, Burris is personally honest and has charted a moderate course in Democratic politics. He is a young looking 71, was the first black to be elected statewide in Illinois. He served as comptroller from 1979 to 1991 and attorney general 1991 to 1995. He has not always been successful in politics but was never defeated by a Republican. He lost the Dem gubernatorial nominations in 1994, 1998 and 2002, the last time to Rod Blagojevich. He ran for mayor of Chicago against Richard M. Daley and got walloped in 1995. Why he did it only a Burris intimate could know. He ran…even in a hopeless contest…because that’s what he wants to do in life.

Normally…if it were not Blagojevich making the appointment…Burris would be an acceptable Senator from the standpoint of all the factions in the Democratic party. He was born in Centralia and has wide acquaintances in downstate Illinois. He is not brilliant but dependable, no genius certainly nor particularly interested in philosophy…but entirely a-piece in a senate with very human traits. When you get beyond the professional affability you see a huge, almost uncontrollable egomania…something Alan Dixon never had. He and his adoring wife are in love with the same man: Roland Burris. Years ago, he told a friend of mine quite seriously that “my destiny is to be governor of Illinois.” He wasn’t kidding. He sees himself in other things as Destiny’s Tot.

That’s why I think…although he denies it…if he does somehow get to the senate, Roland Burris will flatly run for election. This stuff he has been saying that he will only serve until the next election is balderdash. No one can believe this if you really know Roland Burris. He’ll run. That’s what Roland Burris does.

An Anomaly in Politics.

He is supremely interested…even at 71…in self-advancement in politics. Yet for all of that, he has never identified himself with issues seriously. Whenever he ran for governor in the Democratic primary, he glossed over issues: concentrating only on clichés. He stays away from ideology and from substantive issue discussion. Almost as if issues didn’t matter. Running mattered. That’s what Roland Burris is. A candidate. He runs. That’s what he does. For what office, against whom doesn’t matter. Philosophy doesn’t matter. There’s always a chance…slim though it may be…that he can win. Publicity as a candidate completes his view of himself. That’s why last night he made a round of TV stations…starting with Channel 2. It signified: Roland is Back. That’s what he does.

Although he ran against Daley for mayor, there was never a rupture in their relationship. He has been a successful lobbyist and has contributed funds to Blagojevich, yes, but also to Obama and to Joe Biden. For blacks who want to continue their view of racial progress, he has been a trailblazer. For all other races and nationalities, he is a known quantity. He has said he would not run for the seat at the next election.

Harry Reid has said Burris is unacceptable because he has been appointed by Blagojevich…and Jesse White, the Illinois secretary of state, maintains he won’t certify him. I think this is petty and stupid, taking out on a reasonably honest official the earmarks of vendetta that the Democrats have been known for. The fairly modest campaign funding he gave Blagojevich is not in any sense a payment for the appointment. But Democrats are convinced they want to drive a stake through Blagojevich’s heart if they have to wound an honorable public official of their own party to do it. But to kill off Roland Burris in order to get even with Blago is a fool’s errand. They may kill Blago and Burris but will seriously wound themselves and place them even further in doubt as a responsible vehicle for government.

Legislative Dems Can Blame Themselves.

Blago must hate the Democratic party because he has really stuck it to his party this time. But one thing he got right. He had long stated that he would name a senator before the end of the calendar year. Because the legislative Democrats…with few exceptions… were so piggish about trying to force a Democrat to succeed Obama, they vetoed the idea of a special election. Only Jack Franks and a few other Dems were smart enough to welcome a special election. Pat Quinn, that pillar of Jello, first said he wanted a special election, then an appointment, then an appointment followed by a special election, then a special election. Now an appointment and special election basis his comments last night. He has become an unintended fop, a fool. Thus the Dems have themselves to blame for the governor embarrassing them…forcing them to oppose a black—and a well-qualified black—for the senate.

While all Senate Dems have said they would reject anyone Blago names, in the case of Burris it’s going to be difficult. Burris has no disqualification in his makeup. Thus there is a very real question as to whether that body can legally deny a well qualified individual to their membership simply and purely because the members dislike a sitting governor who at the time he made the appointment still controlled all his legal faculties. Denying Burris may become a question that goes to the Supreme Court. The Court might turn down the question since it impacts on the procedures of another branch—but just might rule that unless you can prove the lack of fitness for a legally appointed senator, that body has no right to deny him.

Bobby Rush was the first to play the race card…saying the Senate is 100% white and the Dems are going to veto a well-qualified black. That really hurts. The party that has invented racial quotas and political correctness now is hung up on its own hypocrisy.

By his appointment of Burris, Blagojevich has certifiably proved that once and for all it’s time to throw off discordant one-party Democratic rule in Illinois—because these guys simply cannot govern. So filled with hatred for Blago, they will refuse a qualified black man for no other reason than Blago named him.

That won’t carry water.

Personal Aside: Oh that Brilliant David Frost to Capture Nixon So!


A Tale with Two Digressions.

There is no earthly reason why I should defend Richard Nixon who fired me as assistant commerce secretary in 1970...when I had four kids and a wife to support (fortunately it all worked out)—but defend him I will from the worst thing that can happen to a president barring assassination, the fictionalizing of history in which he played a vital part. A leading candidate for the Academy Award is a dramatization of an interview between David Frost, a British journalist and Richard M. Nixon. You see TV clips all the time with a lumbering actor with slumped shoulders playing the wretched, defeated Nixon and a young, bright journalist, Frost.

In real life, in 1977 David Frost paid $600,000 to interview the former president in the hope that Frost could get him to blurt out his guilt for Watergate. The 6-hour program ran in mini-series form for several nights in 1977. I saw it, actually, in Cambridge, Mass. where I was teaching politics as a John F. Kennedy Harvard Fellow.

I had every reason to be interested in the program as I had had several meetings with Nixon before his presidency…the most notable at the home of my employer, the CEO of The Quaker Oats Company, in 1966 when Nixon was in town to campaign for a group of candidates in an effort to rehabilitate himself—one being Charles H. Percy, one, a candidate whose campaign I headed, John Hoellen who was running against Roman Pucinski for Congress…and for another candidate in whom I had a great interest, David Reed who was opposing the wooden-legged old black denizen of the plantation-style Democratic machine, Rep. Bill Dawson.

Digression 1.

Here you will have to endure an extensive digression…the first of several—but indulge an old man, will you? Nixon held an impromptu talk session in Lake Forest at my employer’s home and forecast a number of things—most of which didn’t turn out. He shrugged off Ronald Reagan’s bid for governor of California as very un-special and said that it would be impossible for Reagan top win moderates to his side against Pat Brown. The fact that Nixon lost a challenge to Brown two years earlier was recognized by everyone…but it was more than a dissing of a competitor. It was obvious that Nixon felt Reagan was a lightweight…obvious because he said so. Reagan, he said, was a bad candidate despite his charisma because he was so inured to the screen that in everything he needed a director—and the heat and immediacy of a campaign barred this kind of handling.

How wrong Nixon was! He was wrong that night about a great many things…and he was wrong about my program to provide limited federal assistance to minority…largely black…entrepreneurs.

Digression 2.

When I was hired in the Commerce department, he enthused to me that if the program went well, blacks might well flock to the Republican party. In a handwritten letter to my then boss, Secretary of Commerce Stans, he expanded on it. I doubted the program would help the GOP although I was exceedingly favorable to it…but knew better, having worked with blacks a variety of urban affairs roles in Chicago. I took the job on a long-range basis, to gradually build a larger middle class among them which would be based on their affinity for their churches…and so stabilize society.

Digression 3.

The steps I took were so unpopular they got me fired…steps which if I had to do over again, I might seriously reconsider because I am a more conservative man now and I have come to believe that blacks in the long-run must help themselves. Whitey helping them engenders bitterness. The most unpopular of my nice acts of noblesse oblige was to give black business owners who might be bidding on federal contracts to get a piece of the action in the same way the Small Business act offered a percentage of contracts to white non-big business. That affirmative action step was followed by a federal policy that private businesses have used ever since—conferring on minority businesses a share of contracts. In short, the programs we devised worked to build up the black middle class…but did nothing to cut down on the root causes of black poverty, the destruction of the black family that came from Lyndon Johnson’s ugly and misnamed War on Poverty.

One reason I was fired was because Nixon’s reelection was geared to a southern strategy under South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond who was angered at our fomenting a non-Republican black economy in his state. Thurmond getting mad was greatly feared by John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman who took care that Stans canned me. The second reason I was fired was because I interfered with Maurice Stans’ list of Republican big business contributors in a largely successful effort to convince the then Big 3 automobile manufacturers to encourage more black dealerships. When I started there were just four black-owned car dealerships in the country. By the time I was peremptorily interrupted there were 100 dealership opportunities conferred on blacks through cooperation with my office and Whitney Young’s Urban League. I was fired because Stans, who had been Nixon’s bag man, felt that in importuning James Roche of GM, Henry Ford of Ford and Lynn Townsend of Chrysler that they would feel they “gave at the office” and would be less inclined to contribute big bucks to Nixon in 1972, in a campaign which Stans was to be the top fundraiser.

End of Digressions.

As one who knew quite a good deal about Nixon either firsthand or from others, I was intrigued with the David Frost interview. The interview was heavily promoted but was largely superficial. The most interesting part, to me, was Nixon’s view about the Tom Huston schema, a blueprint designed to collect thoughts about how to counteract domestic terrorism. Those who were not around in the late 1960s should know that controlling terrorism was front and center in both parties since the radical opponents of Vietnam were afoot. In fact, when I got to the Peace Corps as number three, we soon found our building…a private office building… taken over by ex-Peace Corps volunteers who were radicalized, who flew the Viet Cong flag out the window and were ultimately dislodged from their perch. We got them out by cutting off their food so when they got hungry, they vacated to the nearest McDonald’s and we recaptured our base. No big threat…just inconvenience.

Tom Huston, a White House staffer, had been put in charge of drawing together ideas on how to counteract terrorism were it to become a national phenomenon—just as White House staffers under more serious bases do it now. Huston postulated several approaches…conservative, moderate and draconian. The draconian scenario would be considered only if the republic were in danger. In formulating his scenario, Huston drew from the only example in U.S. history relevant to this condition—the Civil War when Lincoln could look out his White House window and see the smoke of the Confederate army bonfires in Virginia. Well, with a threat like that you would understand that Lincoln had to take drastic measures. And he did. He suspended habeas corpus. He detained enemies of the republic in jail without charge. He seriously considered placing Chief Justice Roger Taney, a Confederate sympathizer, under arrest (he never did so). Those were drastic days.

I remember very well Nixon’s description of the Huston report and said…rightly…that with the nation under attack—even under siege as it was with Lincoln—there can come a time when the president must act without conferring with the Congress. At times of great crisis when the survival of the nation is in danger, Nixon said, when the president finds he must do something, it is not illegal. Well, that’s one way of looking at it. My way somewhat different. Say Confederate troops are invading D. C. and you’re the president, what you do to save the country cannot be run by the Congress and its interminable committee system…so you just do it. In any event, Nixon was NOT referring to Watergate. He was referring to quite a different proposition. And Frost knew it. And all of us who saw the interview knew it.

Ron Howard, the director of this re-incarnated show takes some outrageous liberties with its production. Since Nixon was never tried for his so-called crimes of Watergate since he had been pardoned, Howard has the actor playing Frost vowing that he will get the ex-president to show his true colors. How to do it. In a phone call he made to Nixon before the taping, Frost led the old man on…so the scenario goes…and Nixon makes the statement “when the president does something, it is not illegal.” Then Frost sets the trap and in the interview leads Nixon skillfully to declaring the self-same thing with respect to Watergate.

Well, a Bronx cheer and a rude noise greeting to Ron Howard the former Opie of the Andy Griffith show who is hungering for an Oscar…and who so hungered for one that he bought the rights to the sacrilegious “Da Vinci Code” which has invented the tale that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalen, the two sired children and spent their lives in France…after which the Roman Catholic church conspired to keep their secret safe for 2000 years. The novel was a sensational best-seller but Howard’s attempt to get an Oscar for it bombed…as did the movie. Now this is Howard’s latest attempt.

There are, of course, terribly indecent liberties taken in the film. First, there was no phone call in which Nixon led Frost to his conclusion that he could be trapped in saying what the president wanted to do is by its very nature legal. No phone call. Second, as I have mentioned, Frost asked Nixon about the Huston report and Nixon explained it fulsomely. Third, the film concludes that with the interview, Nixon was destroyed as a human being…and Frost was propelled to the stratosphere of fame. Wrongo. After the film was made, Nixon embarked on yet another resurrection. He went to Oxford, performed at the Oxford Union and started work on a series of books. The strange fact is that after the interview, Frost never really blossomed again. He is now Sir David Frost and is all but forgotten.

Some of these things in abbreviated fashion are contained in an article in “The Weekly Standard” by John Podhoretz, editor of “Commentary” magazine. When we are quite beyond this current fiction phase of docu-drama, we will find that (1) Nixon was never a threat to our civil liberties, Watergate or not; (2) he was with all his faults, one of the more significant presidents of our time because he skillfully capitalized on a split between the USSR and China which immeasurably helped us in the Cold War.

But I suppose you could say that David Frost has triumphed since this little bald odd ball, the former Opie, Ron Howard, has so manipulated the minds of our young people who are bereft of history thanks to our debased culture…but no.

The truth will out. I just wrote this to tell you how bad and untrustworthy our culture really is. And when you watch Andy Griffith in black and white and you see that little tousled haired kid, learn once again that appearances aren’t everything…given what a jerk Ron Howard has grown up to be.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Personal Aside: “You know…You know…You know” Well, I’m Very Glad You Asked Me That”…The Cotton Candy Political Words That Taste Sweet but Say Nothing.

Last week I wrote that Barack Obama will be regarded as a pol who stitches together two (sometimes more) contradictory views and conveys these impossibilities with profound, pseudo-thoughtful pauses.

Since then, we have had the priceless Caroline Kennedy interview with 310 “you knows” sprinkled through a statement in less than 10 minutes—sometimes with two “you knows” in a sentence. Next to her, Sarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric…which liberals ridiculed…was like the famed Greek orator and statesman Demosthenes [384-322 B.C.]. It occurred to me that both Obama and Kennedy have one thing in common. They emit cotton candy political words that taste sweet but have no nutritional content.

After I wrote this, a friend and reader of this website contacted me with a brilliant example of political talk where the rhetoric is cotton candy but the nutrition is zilch. It is an obscure but brilliant Irish song from a political reporter who, after many years of covering politicians with doublespeak, finds he has contracted the same malady. It is known as “The Politician’s Song” by one Mickey Connell—and here it is in its entirety:

Well for twenty frantic, fruitless years, I worked in Dublin town
Reporting for newspapers I was busy writing down
All the words of politicians in my endless quest for truth
Twas at such a wasted exercise I squandered all my youth
That’s the cause of my misfortune as I’ll explain to you
For I find myself talking like politicians do
And if anyone should ask me, do I take sugar in my tae
I grasp them firmly by the hand and this is what I say…


“Well, I’m very glad you asked me that for at this point in time
In the circumstances that prevail there is in the pipeline
Infrastructural implications interfaced with lines of thought
Which lead to grass roots viabilities which at this time I’d rather not
Annunciate in ambiguities but rather seek to find
Negotiated compromises which are at the bottom line
For full and frank discussion which would serve to integrate
With basic fundamental principles to which we all relate
Not in doctrinaire philosophy which any fool can see
An inescapable hypothesis confronting you and me
So in the interest of the common good now you need never fear
For I’ve got the matter well in hand and I’m glad I made things clear.

“Now as you can imagine this has greatly changed my life
An example was the fateful day on which I wed my wife
All went well until the moment the priest asked me with a smile
`Do you take this woman for your wife?’ and swiftly I replied:


“Well, I’m very glad you asked me that…”

Now I’m lying on my death bed and I’m filled with mortal dread
For I know that very shortly I will certainly be dead
And when Saint Peter asks me if I’d like to come on in
I’m sure to face damnation for I know I’ll say to him:


“Well, I’m very glad you asked me that…”

Caroline, of course, is no match for Obama since her “you knows” is nothing less than an intellectual stammer. She has nothing whatsoever to say. Obama does but he contradicts himself as when he said first that he would meet all the world’s leaders including its dictators without preliminaries…and then said he would do it of course but his staff would do the preliminaries—and then insisted he had not contradicted himself.

It’s my view that we will see the end of the Caroline Kennedy attempted media love-match very soon. No one this vapid can last for long, not even a Kennedy. The liberal media are falling out with her with the exception of Pinch Sulzberger…but that again is another story…uncovered by the media of course but another story nevertheless.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Personal Aside: Weighing in on Bush.



George W. Bush will be regarded one day…long after most of us are dead (at least I)…as an extraordinarily gifted president. Just how I will detail later. Oh, not that he didn’t have faults. As Ben Jonson wrote of Shakespeare: “Players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare, that in his writing whatever he penned, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been—would he had blotted a thousand.”

I wish Bush had blotted many things. For one, his record of not vetoing a single bill in his first term. I hated his excessive spending, his weakening education reform in deference to Teddy Kennedy, his very strange alliance with Richard M. Daley (giving the mayor all the federal money he needed for O’Hare expansion instead of supporting a third airport, while getting nothing in return), his definition of “compassionate conservatism” as encompassing higher federal expenditures and aping liberal excess, I am still waiting for Bush to redeem himself in my eyes by granting a full pardon to Scooter Libby since Pat Fitzgerald’s conclusion he lied (that the late Tim Russert told him about Valerie Plame’s employment with the CIA) when Russert’s memory could well have been as fallible as Libby’s.

But all this Byzantine stuff was far beyond the purview of Fitzgerald’s quest (since the prosecutor knew WHO leaked the news and in fact told everyone who also knew to shut up about it)…a bizarre circumstance. Still, despite all this, Bush managed on a commutation of Libby’s prison term: also bizarre. In that connection I hope in the short time he has remaining as president, Bush pardons Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, border agents who have served 2-1/2 years thus far for discharging their weapons during a struggle with a real criminal, Osvaldo Aldrete Davila who left behind 743 pounds of marijuana as he fled back to Mexico.

Indeed, I fault Bush for naming an AG like Alberto Gonzales who sanctioned the outrage of listing Patrick Fitzgerald with other district attorneys who were purportedly doing a “mediocre” job—an outrage since Fitzgerald is genuinely one of the greatest and most fearless prosecutors of our time. I fault Bush’s retreat from Reagan’s goal of reduction of farm subsidies. I profoundly regret his support of an expanded prescription drug feature of Medicare which is leading critics to predict this program alone will be $8 trillion in the red over the next 75 years.

That Having Been Said…

That’s all the blotting I can think of at the moment—but these things are greatly overbalanced by Bush’s resoluteness and courage as a wartime president and…not any less important…as a fearless supporter of pro-life initiatives which to my way of thinking defines the titanic battle to restore traditional god-cognizant culture in the United States. The first job of a president is to preserve the peace and liberty of the United States. No other president…I do not exclude Ronald Reagan from this…could have measured up better than George W. Bush. The WMD issue should be brushed aside—because WMDs WERE there…undeniably…in the form of biological weaponry. At such a time following September 11 you want a president who is firm, not equivocating. No less an authority than Bernard Lewis, the unrivaled expert on the Middle East, has said that until Bush made his decision on Iraq, the consensus among Arabs and Islamics was that they could perpetrate anything and get away with it. No more, wrote Lewis. No more. Which is certifiably the reason why for the remainder of Bush’s two terms, this country suffered no further attacks on its mainland.

Unlike many, I do not fault his conduct of the war. His predecessor, Bill Clinton, was impotent in early forays: the Khobar Towers bombing, the attacks on our embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole. The most impressive event in our national defense in my own lifetime of 80 years was Bush’s brilliant reconstituting of the American strategy vis-à-vis the Islamic world. Was the Iraq War brilliantly prosecuted? Not at first—but at the end, decidedly yes.

All wars are run as an untidy business. Dwight Eisenhower was called back to Washington, D.C. to account for short-sightedness in the North African campaign…before he went on to become the architect of the greatest invasion force in history. I well remember when I was 17 and fully cognizant of the conduct of World War II, the German counterattack in the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944 through January, 1945. The Christmas of 1944 was a dismal one for this country. We would gather by the radio to hear Gabriel Heatter begin his news commentary on Mutual Broadcasting, “ah, there’s good news tonight.”

I remember when he began his commentary, “oh, I’m afraid there’s bad news tonight!” And bad news it was. Allied forces were overconfident and relied on sloppy reconnaissance. Nineteen thousand Americans died, an unsurpassed death toll in U.S. history for one battle. For a time it looked like the Germans would succeed in their goal in the forested Ardennes mountains in Belgium, France and Luxembourg…their goal being to split British and U.S. forces in half, to encircle and destroy four allied armies and capture Antwerp—triggering a pressure in the West to negotiate a peace treaty favorable to Nazi Germany.

I remember the talk then in behalf of cutting and running and negotiated peace. There was talk in some quarters of impeaching Franklin Roosevelt and pressuring him to recall Eisenhower who critics said was “responsible for this disaster.” But no wars run smoothly. Just as Lincoln found his general only after firing incompetents one by one until he came upon a relatively underrated general with a drinking problem, Ulysses Grant only in 1864, a year before victory, Bush had to let Donald Rumsfeld (a friend of mine) go and turn to another defense secretary...only after he secured a pledge from a skeptical Robert Gates that Gates would support a surge (something Gates was on record as opposing earlier)—leading Gates to find a new general, David Petraeus…one who prosecuted the war with diligence—even though the news media, disinterested because we are winning, focuses away from it.

The salient point is this: it looks very much like Iraq will become a democracy and the foremost ally of the U.S. which could well be a turning point in the war on terror. Therefore, rising to the challenge when we were attacked and providing a courageous defense of our country will give George W. Bush extraordinary status in years to come. If you compartmentalize presidents by accomplishments as does the historian Alvin Stephen Felzenberg does in “The Leaders We Deserved” [Basic Books, 2008], you will find that in the future Bush will rank with Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt in prosecution of war—topping Harry Truman whose effort in Korea led to a futile, negotiated peace by others. Now to other compartments…

The Economy.

Bush tax cuts initially turned a near-recession inherited from Bill Clinton to prosperity. His income tax rates went down for the first time since 1986. In addition he cut taxes on capital gains, dividends and estates and enlarged the child tax credit. These steps led to prosperity for most of his two terms. The recession…which may well become depression…occurred on his watch for which he will receive largely undeserved blame—but it is a fact, largely unobserved by the bitterly biased mainstream media, but this is the 11th recession of the World War II postwar period and the 33rd in U.S. history.

While it is undeniable that Herbert Hoover worsened the economic climate by a tax hike and protectionism, a case cannot be made…no matter what Barack Obama has stated…that the reason for the severe downturn was caused by George W. Bush. If as Obama charges “deregulation” caused it…which it did NOT…deregulation was in effect before the advent of George Bush. Alan Greenspan who failed to see the crisis was in office as Fed chairman before Bush came on the scene. Beyond this, there is no doubt that Bush tried to avert the crisis of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac only to meet steadfast opposition from the Democratic majorities in Congress—including Barney Frank.

It is too early to judge whether Henry Paulson or Ben Bernanke have worsened the crisis—although there is no doubt in my book that Paulson’s stop-go tactics have not helped. We simply don’t know whether the recession will worsen to depression. If it does, assuredly Bush…whether he deserves it or not…will wear the collar. Until that judgment is made, Bush’s reputation…as prime defender of the U.S. against global terrorism…will dominate his legacy.

Largely uncovered by the secular media, however, is another great accomplishment—uncovered because the media are hugely unsympathetic. That is the slow redemption of the possibility of American cultural traditionalism reflected in wise and courageous pro-life steps taken by this president.

Pro-Life Accomplishments.

One must start off by marveling at the pro-life consistency that the president has shown—a greater consistency than was demonstrated by Ronald Reagan, assuredly. It begins with his fore-square appointment of two magnificent justices to the Supreme Court—Sam Alito and John Roberts. Bush’s record is , as Edward Whelan (president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center) has said, 2 for 2. Reagan’s was only 1 for 3 (Antonin Scalia being a very good pick)…and frankly with all deference to Reagan, there was an ample opportunity for the 40th president to avoid choosing Sandra Day O’Connor whom everyone alert knew was a pro-choice leader in the Arizona legislature.

(Mike Deaver and others saw the opportunity in appeasing the secular media by becoming the first president to nominate a woman to the high court. The liberal media never credit things like that when they are done by a conservative president…anymore than it has noted that Reagan was the first to have an African American national security adviser or that Bush II was the first to have a African American woman secretary of state. It means nothing to the media which only celebrate actions done by Democrats. In fact the media believe that the natural custodians of the federal government are Democrats and when Republicans take over, they are temporary usurpers.) Earlier this year I asked Ed Meese how Anthony Kennedy…a keen disappointment…made it through. Meese answered that Kennedy had attested to and insisted he was a pro-lifer. The blandishments of the media…stating that “Kennedy is capable of growth”…known as the Greenhouse effect, named after the Times’ Linda Greenhouse…was responsible.

Against this average…and that of his father who scored 1 for 1 (Clarence Thomas, an excellent appointment and David Souter a bad one), Bush performed very well—signally, in fact. Unfortunately Bush was not given any further opportunities to name Justices so the social conservatives (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito) are outnumbered by one with the feckless Anthony Kennedy bouncing like a rubber ball between the factions. Bush can count himself lucky that he was spared Harriet Miers—and only the engendered opposition of social conservatives and talk radio prevented it. She was chosen just as Sandy O’Connor was—based on preconception that an appointment must be a woman.

Finally there can be no doubt that a heroic…I use that word unqualifiedly…stand was made in defense of life beyond judicial appointments. He signed the ban of partial birth abortion and the Born Alive bill which Obama wantonly killed as judiciary chairman in the Illinois senate. He stood off very strong pressures from the left on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and by doing so, stalled for enough time that science developed alternative means.

There is no doubt that since abortion and the exploitation of innocent unborn life has become an issue, George W. Bush…of all the presidents…has compiled the finest record.

This is long enough for now. More evaluations later.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Personal Aside: Note to Media—Look at Clinton Gifts As You Would Possibly Rice’s or Cheney’s. None Are So Blind as Those Who Will Not See.


The greatest political scandal in this country comes not from Blago’s trying to hustle a Senate seat…or an Indian potential giver to the governor so that Jesse Jackson, Jr. can get the appointment…but the willful refusal of the media to look at stories straight-on, rather than the cross-eyed way they apply them to shield the Democrats and liberaldom from criticism. . Where is the journalistic interest in the massive donations foreign governments and prominent individuals made to the William J. Clinton Foundation—donations which are bound to tie Secretary of State designate Hillary Clinton in irrevocable appearances of conflict of interest.

Where’s the media skepticism? Not visible. A placid, nondescript story filed by the Associated Press last week…obligatorily reporting the Clintonian disclosure… sounded as boring as a laundry list. Can you imagine what would have been written if these people had given to contacts close to Dick Cheney? Saudi Arabia, Norway and other foreign governments have given Bill Clinton $46 million and contributors with important connections in India have signed off far more. Suppose we were at the start of the George W. Bush administration and it turned out that such governments and foreign notables conferred hundreds of millions to the Dick and Lynne Cheney Foundation. You’d have the Grey Lady of New York city, “the New York Times” raising a stink…Katie Couric’s eyes would pop out…Bob Schieffer would shake his grey head…Charlie Gibson would peer over spectacles perched on his nose… and “60 Minutes” would pull Mike Wallace out of retirement to produce a spectacular. Yet thus far, not a single syllable has been raised that I know of by our journalistic custodians of ethics on this matter.

One donor is the Blackwater security firm which is in hot water for failure to adequately honor its government contract to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq. Another is Yahoo as a corporation with additional gifts by its executives. It is engaged in disputes concerning its unwillingness to surrender internet information to the Chinese—an issue certainly to be bucked up to the secretary of state’s desk. On another issue, Yahoo released e-mails that identified two Chinese journalists, allowing China to imprison them…an issue that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is now negotiating and which Hillary Clinton will fall heir to.

Government contributors include Saudi Arabia (donor of between $10 million and $25 million) as well as hefty gifts from Norway, Kuwait, Oatar, Brunei, Oman, Italy, Jamaica and Tenerfe in the Canary Islands—not to forget the Dutch lottery which gave from $5 million to $10 million. Again—where’s the media skepticism?

Not to be ignored is the heavy preponderance of contributions from India at a time when, after her presumed confirmation, Hillary Clinton will have to serve as an honest broker between India and Pakistan in their hot confrontation between the deadly attacks, by Pakistanis, in Mumbai. . Gifts in the millions came from Amar Singh, an Indian pol who hosted Bill Clinton when he visited India in 2005 and who also met Hillary Clinton in New York last September to discuss an Indian-U.S. pact on nuclear fission production. Then you get Tulsi R. Tanti, chairman of Suzion Energy Ltd. who is interested in setting up power generators in India and China…the Confederation of Indian Industry, a trade association and David Katragadda, an Indian mega multi-millionaire with important stakes in media, entertainment, technology, health care and financial services.

And not just foreign interests: U.S. givers with ties to foreign policy big-shots. Slim-Fast’s S. Daniel Abraham a board member of the prestigious American Israel Public Affairs committee (AIPAC) which lobbies for Israel gave between $1 million and $5 million.

It’s not that I suspect any or all of these donors to exert leverage to lobby for improper interests—but the quietude and so-what nature of the supine, pro-Democratic party cross-eyed media (so liberal they can’t see straight) is dozing complacently as warm and cuddly friends of liberaldom…aroused only when they perceive some political advantage by assailing conservatives and Republicans on the same general nature of disclosures which they all but ignore when it pertains to the Obama administration. At one time, when Hillary was running against Obama, disclosure of this list would have been used ferociously by the press. Not now. She is a fixture in an Obama administration which…never better said than by its No. 1 media courtier MSNBC’s Chris Matthews (readying a Democratic senatorial campaign in Pennsylvania while he draws his salary from NBC)…the Big Foot media “want very much to succeed.”

The Week Past: Indian Givers for Blago at Behest of the Jacksons.


Obama supporters here are angered and exasperated that what had been regarded as a perfect transition up to mid-December has turned into a media scandal-hunt for connections between the president-elect and the soiled Rod Blagojegvich regime. The vaunted Democratic party is reeling from the stench. Worse, there are no Republicans to blame as the Dems control the legislature, all state constitutional offices and the state courts.

Gov.Blagojevich has declined to resign to the keen disappointment of Democrats everywhere. Friday he held a news conference…well not a conference since he wouldn’t take questions—but a cameo appearance…wherein he said “I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until I take my last breath!” One of his attorneys, Sam Adams, said he would only resign if it became absolutely clear he could not govern. Adams compared Blago’s low ratings to those of Harry Truman.

So Dems continue to suffer--not just from impeachment of the governor which began last week…but from the fear that a special election for the U.S. Senate just may propel a Republican to the seat by an electorate sorely turned-off at Democratic party corruption. A Republican senator from Illinois? How bizarre! Impeached or not, Blago will be tried on charges of official misconduct alleged by the U.S. attorney, “abuses of official position, political hiring and firing of state employees, so-called `Pay to Play’ allegations, acts performed without legal authority” and any additional charges that may come up in public testimony.

Apparently caught up in the sticky spider web is Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. whose unseemly lust for the Senate caused him to take leave of his senses and got him huddling with Blagojevich. It also got him to push his kid brother, Jonathan to round up a group of Indian entrepreneurs to hold a “fund-raiser” for Blagojevich aka a bribe to convince the governor to name Jackson. The event was held on the Saturday before U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s minions hustled Blago out of his house at 6 a.m., put him in cuffs and took him to the federal building where he was indicted.

Jackson, gaunt from gastric bypass surgery two years ago after his will for dieting failed, looks like an emaciated skull on a beanpole—which hasn’t helped him in repeated news conferences at which he denied his evident ambition to get Blago to give him the Senate job was excessive. He has hired an attorney to untangle him from Blago spider web as did his old man the once pro-lifer turned pro-abort Rev. Jesse Jackson aka The Pout… and brother Jonathan. The senior Jackson held a news conference at which he denied his own culpability but the media failed to cover it full throttle since he couldn’t think of a rhyme for “Blagojevich.” Jesse, Jr. has made a startling effort to reclaim his idealism by announcing that he has been in touch with the Feds since last summer, trying to trap Blago…and that he and his wife Alderman Sandi turned down the governor’s offer to name Jackson’s wife as head of the state lottery in return for a $25,000 campaign contribution. Sounds thrillingly honest but if so, Patrick Fitzgerald might ponder, where did the Indian givers to Blago…called together to pony up, ostensibly at Jonathan Jackson’s behest…come from?

Speaking of Fitzgerald, while I think he is just what the doctor ordered to clean up Illinois, there are times I think he’s a zealot. Last week, in my estimation, he over-reacted when he impounded Blago’s campaign fund, the only source of money the governor can use to pay reasonably competent lawyers to defend him. Fitz did this same thing with George Ryan. It comes perilously close, in my book, to disarming a defendant and rendering him powerless before the huge preponderance the Feds have in prosecution. I think Pat has the good on Blago but he needn’t make the battle unfair by stripping the governor of legal assistance to make his case. But then John Kass, whom I regard as the best newsman-commentator in this town…possibly the nation…says that Jimmy DeLeo will see that the governor has decent representation. That eases me somewhat. (If Kass doesn’t get the Pulitzer for his great stuff on this mess, the prize is fixed).

Meanwhile what Drudge calls the Silence of the Rahm, a cocoon of muteness, has descended over Rep. Rahm Emanuel who has been slated to become Obama’s chief of staff. What worries the Obama media people is not that Rahm is caught on tape with Blago and his staff a full 21 times—but that Emanuel’s propensity for 4-letter words will be revealed and cause a distinct toxic shock to idealists who believe Obama will bring a wafting air of clean breeze to politics. If worse comes to worst, Emanuel will have to decline his White House job and allow himself to be tossed by the Messiah under the same bus as he did Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayres, Bernadine Dohrn and Louis Farrakhan…which means Rahm may have to quit and keep his House seat so as to spare Obama embarrassment.

Last week, media was keeping vigil outside the office building where the governor and his wife met with this town’s foremost criminal lawyer, Ed Genson, who is admired by his fellow legal shark buddies for getting rock singer R. Kelly off from charges of having sex with a minor (but Genson failed to get Conrad Black acquitted for financially plundering the Hollinger company which owns the Sun-Times).

Genson, an elderly, colorful red-haired, bearded alley fighter who rolls into a courtroom on a motorized scooter (suffering from a degenerative bone disease), is an expert on delaying tactics. The congressional impeachment of Bill Clinton took four full months—but, Genson points out gleefully, Clinton didn’t contest the process which made it run quickly. The only comparable case is the impeachment of Gov. Evan Mecham (R-N.M) in 1988 which took a month to get a conviction…but Genson dismisses that by saying Mecham didn’t defend himself effectively.

Blago could put on a stall by taking an inordinate amount of time to legally respond to charges—but on the other hand, reportedly at least 25 people have gone to the U.S. attorney to declare they were shaken down by the administration and the chief of staff and deputy governor have resigned with insiders quietly spilling the beans to Fitzgerald with the possibility of a mass resignation of staffers in protest to Blago’s unwillingness to resign.

Also last week, Lt. Governor Pat Quinn called for Blago’s resignation and then impeachment—not surprising because either one would make Quinn governor. Quinn has spent a lifetime crusading as a kind of ersatz Ralph Nader…reducing the size of the state House membership by a third on expectation it would save money (wrong: it propelled the chamber into a vise-like control of four top leaders while the balance of the House membership think of themselves as “mushrooms,” covered with fertilizer and kept in the dark).

Quinn, who normally is very sanctimonious—rolling his eyeballs to heaven to attest his own honesty--fumbled badly by taking four definable but inconsistent positions on how Illinois should find a senator to replace Obama. First he said without equivocation that the legislature should provide for a special election rather than hold still for a governor’s appointment. Second after consulting with the Democratic hierarchy, he said the state should continue with a gubernatorial appointment (the Daley forces worrying that the state is so regurgitating from the Blago scandal that the electorate might…gasp!..elect a Republican senator). When the prospect of appointment displeased 71% of the state via recent poll, Quinn invented a third way: he should name a senator who would serve only until a special election is held…something which may not fly under the constitution. Finally—yesterday on TV, he retreated to his original stance, supporting a special election. This day-by-day change of heart is not much different from Blago.

All the while Attorney General Lisa Madigan, took a case to the Illinois Supreme Court asking for permission to appear before it to urge the court to declare Blago unfit to hold his office. She used legal terms but meant in plain Chicago-ese that Blago is blotto or nuts and should be removed by the court. But Madigan is herself interested in the governorship and could benefit directly if Quinn, becoming governor, names himself to the senate making her the governor. The Democratic controlled court refused to consider her motion.

At the same time, Madigan’s step-father, House Speaker Mike Madigan, technically a Dem pro-lifer (because he represents the conservative white southwest side of the city) but tight-lipped laconic who presides unblinkingly while his Democratic majority passes pro-abort and pro-gay rights legislation, has moved very-very slowly so as not to interfere with his dimpled darling daughter’s dominance of the news. Finally after a legislative poll showed his House members favoring impeachment 108 to 1, he set up a committee which is studying the possibility of impeaching the governor. It would work like the federal law—the House brings forth the charges and the Senate sits as jury with the chief justice as judge.

The same poll showed 90% of state lawmakers favoring a special election. A statewide Rasmussen poll has 79% of all Illinois favoring instant jail for Blagojevich. They evidently don’t want to bother about the niceties of a trial, evidently.

Also, the U. S. Senate’s number two Democrat but number one jellyfish, pro-abort Dick Durbin, immediately came out for a special election but was called on his cell phone by Daley who reportedly thundered so loudly that a terrified Durbin had to cover his ears —whereupon Durbin said immediately he wants an appointment.

Throughout all this, you’d think the Chicago Tribune would be in hog-heaven since it disclosed the feds’ taping Blago…but not so. Blago was quoted saying he wouldn’t help its owner, real estate billionaire Sam Zell, palm off Wrigley field on the state taxpayers unless Zell fired his editorial writers who have been very critical of the governor. Fitzgerald, hearing the tape, asked the paper to hold off blowing the whistle while he gathered prosecutorial evidence. The Trib sat on the story for a while but got cold feet, fearing the rival Sun-Times would scoop it on its own story—so it broke the story. But it was too early. Fitzgerald didn’t completely have the taped goods on Blago and condemned the Trib for botching his prosecution. Result: the paper and Zell missed a great opportunity to be as close to a national scandal as the Washington Post was with Watergate.

The result from the Trib’s cold feet is that some legal authorities feel that Blago’s criminal attorney Genson may have a pretty good case in defending the governor. After all, no criminal act seems to have been perpetrated and it’s no sin or crime to be taped talking dirty or bringing up on the phone possible recompense for naming a senator. Fitzgerald, however, says Blago crossed the line when he discussed with an aide obtaining a $300,000 a year job from the Service Employees International Union in return for naming its favorite to the senate. Prosecutors have brought a good number of corruption cases utilizing laws that make it a crime for an official to deprive the public of “honest services.” But this requires evidence that the official tried to seek something of value in return for an official action. It would have aided Fitzgerald’s prosecution if Blago were taped actually offering the senate seat in exchange for a personal favor like cash, a job or job for a family member. To some lawyers, the tapes Fitzgerald has is just talk—not a firm inducement to corruption. Yes, the stuff Fitzgerald revealed is said to be a mere snapshot of what he has. But there is no doubt that the panicky Trib squashed the opportunity for more incriminating evidence.

Which is bad news for the Trib empire and the arrogant Zell who’s had a truly bad 2007-8, paying too much for the Trib media empire, then running into near-bankruptcy trying to get out from under its huge debt. He’s a runty motorcycle enthusiast, who with slit eyes and a reddish beard, bears a remarkable resemblance to medieval paintings of Lucifer…and who like the one he resembles insists everything and everyone has a price. He has been quoted as saying he cares not a whit for the newspaper business (merely wants to make it pay before he dumps it), adding that Pulitzer prizes mean nothing to him—because they make him pay higher wages to its recipients.

Daley Worries About Olympics.

Daley who is monomaniac on winning the Olympics for Chicago in 2016 when he will be 74 and in his 27th year as mayor in this one-party town is worried that the bad press Illinois is getting on corruption may jeopardize it. The mayor’s zest for the Olympics has nothing to do with sports competition and everything to do with a floodtide of construction, land acquisition and jobs which would nurture the machine in perpetuity. He enlisted Barack Obama to do a taped commercial for Chicago last Nov. 11 to the international Olympics committee…saying, arrogantly, that the games will come just as he—Obama—is concluding his second term. The president-elect didn’t mention any federal funding for the Olympics, much to Daley’s disappointment but possibly it could be tucked into his overall grandiose plan to spend to stimulate the economy. Daley hopes Obama will open the federal spigot in the same way the mayor’s great and good friend George W. Bush helped pay for the never-ending O’Hare airport expansion: one possible reason for the odd couple’s close friendship…although what Bush got out of their pact is unknown.

Except for “The Reader’s” ace urban affairs/political writer Ben Joravsky , the push for the Olympics has been shrouded in public relations mist generated by Daley for which he should give thanks to the supine Chicago media. Initially he declared the Olympics wouldn’t cost the city anything. Then, just after he was reelected to a four-year term, the U.S. Olympics committee said it wouldn’t support Chicago as the U.S. nominee unless it “put some skin in the game”—a gambler’s term for kick in some dough. A week later Daley had the city council earmark $500 million of taxpayers’ money to support the games. He explained the $500 million would only be spent if private monies weren’t available to cover the costs—not unlike a Ponzi scheme. He then sketched all the advantages the city would get: four 15,000-seat arenas for field hockey, tennis, swimming and equestrian events…a 75,000 track-and-field stadium and 15,000 units of housing for an Olympic village.

Media here fail to note that the infrastructure for the 2012 Olympics in London, originally budgeted at $3.6 billion, has ballooned to $14 billion already and is still growing. Nobody brings that up but then in a city whose one-party government has outlasted that of the USSR—why should they?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Personal Aside: Stitching Together Contradictions Makes Obama Sound Reasonable but It’s an Intellectual Ponzi Scheme.

The very first time I interviewed Barack Obama on radio…shortly after he won his state senate seat…I noticed how adroitly he took questions from call-ins. He sounded so preeminently reasonable. Then I realized what he was doing…something he has carried through to this very day with his latest news conference as president-elect.

Not that he has been the first to ever think of it…but--. With me as now, he stitched together two contradictory views and linked them with a “but.” That’s why he sounds reasonable. Most other politicians when pressed come down on one side or the other—particularly George W. Bush. They do it frontally because they know that unlike campaigners in the mid-19th century, they can’t say one thing in Chicago and the opposite in Omaha.

Not Barack. He doesn’t say one thing in Chicago and the opposite in Omaha. He links diametrically opposed arguments together with the conjunction “but.” As on gun control. “Of course the 2nd amendment as part of the Constitution should be preserved,” he said, “but--.” But what? “The death toll on the streets can only be reduced by a combination of steps including responsible gun control.” What is “responsible gun control?” Well, he supported the Washington, D. C. gun confiscation law and later the Supreme Court decision outlawing it. The supine media, which has been an auxiliary to his strategy, never probes.

On abortion: “When life begins is a question that is above my pay grade.” Oh? But then, “I believe firmly in a woman’s right to choose.” Well, why are you stating your support of abortion when, in fact, by your own admission you don’t know when life begins? And further: “The goal should be to reduce the number of abortions.” Why…if you don’t know when life begins? So why are you in support of.. as a first order of business…signing into law the so-called Freedom of Choice Act that overrides any state restrictions on the process? And at the same time joining with Doug Kmiec to advocate a policy of fewer abortions via greater federal spending on social policies? When he proposed just this kind of thing on my show I deduced the point was to rouse pro-aborts to his side while at the same time calm pro-lifers that he really wanted a declining number of abortions.

In a very real sense, it’s like an intellectual Ponzi scheme—endorsing both sides with smooth rhetoric and moving on. Likewise in his eloquent concern to overcome the recession, he stresses stimulus spending and infrastructure. Now construction jobs pay on an average $22 an hour contrasted with the national average of $18 but everybody knows…or should know—certainly the media ought to realize—that infrastructure up-building doesn’t work well with a globally-based competitive service economy. Do you think that 25,000 workers losing their jobs in financial services on Wall Street last week will regain them as construction workers repairing the Interstate highway system? I think not. No mention whatsoever of tax cuts—because that is foreign to Obama’s thinking…or at least has been thus far.

But still he goes on…and whenever I see him on the tube I remember his first interview with me…stitching together impossibilities and moving on. I tell you it’s Ponzi only in the realm of ideas. Contradictions mean nothing to him. Once it was thought that he would move into power and steer the country hard-left. Not so, evidently. He is going to depend on the swooning media to reconcile his contradictions while he proceeds to make it up as he goes along. Small wonder the Left is angered. I’d be angered too if I had invested so much time and energy. What we have here appears to be a flim-flam man enabled by the adulatory media.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Personal Aside: Unpredictable Views--Ray LaHood is Good Choice for Transportation Secretary…Impounding Blago’s Rights…Jack Franks is Unique—a Democrat Who’d Make a Fine AG…Com’on Mike!


Just to confuse those who think I’m predictable, my views on the following are at odds with standard Republican thinking…but so be it.

LaHood Pick an Excellent One.

My view…based on knowing him well…is that Rep. Ray LaHood is an excellent choice for transportation secretary—despite the fact that he has been a member in good standing of the Combine (although untouched by any ethical problems). Something which always stands ace-high with me: Ray is a solid pro-lifer and was a close friend of Henry Hyde who introduced us the first time. I was disappointed when Ray’s bid for the Republican nomination for governor didn’t work out. He’s a spender but also a prescient legislative craftsman…and given Illinois’ liberal bent would have been a great pick for the top job. Having a Republican pro-life governor would have satisfied me and many others.

Assuredly, there have been times when Ray and I have been divided…as when he criticized Peter Fitzgerald for refusing to be a get-along, go-along guy on pork and when he backed Andy McKenna to oppose Fitzgerald in a primary (that didn’t happen). But I have had a high regard for Ray based on the skilled way he presided over the House in very difficult times. Both parties acknowledge that when the waters got choppy and Dennis Hastert passed the gavel over to LaHood, it was in fair and skilled hands. As per the impeachment resolution against Bill Clinton. LaHood is one of the very few congressmen I’ve seen who knows intimately the working procedure of the House and the nuances of legislation.

From the standpoint of Barack Obama…needing a Republican in his cabinet…the choice of Ray LaHood is infinitely preferable to someone like Chuck Hagel whom I thought would get a nod (and who, for all I know, may still get something although I hope not).

Impounding Blago’s Right to Fair Trial.

The “Sun-Times” last night posted on its website the exclusive that the feds have seized and frozen Blago’s campaign fund from which he is paying his attorney, Ed Genson. There’s no doubt in my mind that the governor is guilty and should be impeached…but it strikes me that here again there is a quality of zealotry in Pat Fitzgerald that ought to be constrained: the same zealotry that took an original case of who-leaked-Plame’s-CIA-connection…began by the prosecution knowing full well who the leaker was…cautioning the leaker and Bob Novak to shut up about it…and ended up convicting Libby for supposedly (I still don’t think the charge was proven) lying on another matter. It struck me then and does now that Brother Fitzgerald wanted to demonstrate to the world that he was not intimidated by the Bushies and for proof served up Libby’s head on a platter. As highly as I regard Fitzgerald, that episode unsettled me.

The act of stripping Blago’s resources so he cannot pay for his own defense attorney by the Feds strikes me the same way. I guess they did this to George Ryan, too which led Big Jim to take his case pro-bono…but somehow in that action, too, the Feds seemed to put their thumb on the scale of justice. When you consider the huge preponderance of legal weight in the prosecution paid by the taxpayers, to pre-dispose the defendant to be deprived of adequate legal counsel, seems to me a bit much. Of course I am not a lawyer but I would like someone who is tell me how that action can be justified.

In that connection, Genson seems to have a case that it is historically the duty of the state attorney general to defend the governor no matter what his excesses…and that it would make sense for Genson to be appointed a special attorney general. After all, people, we’re not supposed to be running a kangaroo court here with the defendant standing naked before his enemies.

Jack Franks a True Leader.

As many who read this website know, I have a specially warm and high regard for State Rep. Jack Franks (R-Woodstock), chairman of the House Government Affairs committee. From the outset of his career, he has impressed me by allowing common sense and basic fairness to trump partisan politics. While he and I disagree…and have disagreed…on issues of pro-life and the presidency (he supported Hillary Clinton)…I have long been struck by his basic fairness (as well as the fairness of his wife, Debbie).

If all works out, Jack will be one of my guests on Sunday night’s show on WLS-AM from 8 to 9 (870 AM) along with John Powers, the president of the Chicago Daily Observer. I was particularly impressed that Jack early on became one of the first to spot Rod Blagojevich’s failings and spoke up about them when it was rather unpopular in his party to do so. If I’m not mistaken, Jack may have been the very first…in either party…to discuss the matter of impeachment. Now Jack is disagreeing with a huge majority of his party yet again by supporting a special election for the U. S; senate—when so many of his fellow Democrats are thinking only partisanly: worrying that Republicans just may win the seat and allowing that fact to dictate. These are very good reasons why Jack should run for attorney general of Illinois, a job for which he is uniquely qualified. I’m not saying I endorse him because we disagree on some fundamentals (besides which my endorsement would be a decided handicap for him)…but it is refreshing to see a talented young man reach out for higher state leadership…one who has qualities of character and intelligence which the state sorely needs.

Com’on Mike!

There are times when the laconic, thin-lipped Mike Madigan who gives off that discreet secret smile that says “if-you-only-knew-what-I-know,” is too foxy for his own good. His long delay before marching on to impeachment struck me as a bald attempt to give his dimpled darling daughter adequate media time in her presentation to the Supreme Court—nothing less. Now he’s thinking more as the Democratic state chairman than as Speaker…obviously stonewalling the idea of a special election…for party purposes. And this knack of imitating the squid by inking the waters with blurry substance by charging that Tom Cross was an enabler of Blago…while Madigan himself was Blago’s campaign chairman in 2006…is too much to take. Cross saw correctly the need to govern rather than dispute—something Madigan who is a super-thin-skinned Irishman who cherishes grudges and shamelessly pushes progeny does not.

Maybe if the supine media would stop flirting with him…larding him with salve, telling the world he is the supreme legislative master…and start going after him more aggressively on this…his maestro on image might convince him to act the statesman for once.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Personal Aside: Fr. Ernie on Bernie Madoff and Blago.


Yes, my venerated philosophy professor, Fr. Ernest Kilzer OSB…with whom I spent four long years in tutledge…died aeons before Bernie Madoff whose $50 billion Ponzi scheme conned affluent and sophisticated investors and Blago conned reformers—but the yellowing papers of my notes (1946-50) tell what Ernie would say today about the evil that lurked unseen in the heart of a supposedly philanthropic and gentle man.

“Gentlemen, take your seats,” Ernie said on April 26, 1947. “Consider the two-fold nature of man. If we can stop this gabbing about, Mr. Hesch, I ask you and your loquacious colleagues to consider the two-fold nature of man. For our natural life we are dependent by inheritance upon Adam—which means that in the two-fold circumstance, our souls are a direct creation of God. And yet—and yet—Mr. Roeser what is it you’re drawing on your notepad. Ah, I see: it is a man. You are obviously contemplating the fact that the nature of man is compacted with each soul united at the beginning of life with a carnal body which is quite sufficient to ensure for man a damaged nature. Thus we have the disorder in the elements of our nature as had Adam: a body rebellious against the soul with warfare of the soul’s power against our human nature—imagination, let me say, far too powerful with passions and emotions swinging us…swinging us veritably…to sin.

“Further, gentlemen, let me point out that we live in a world which has lost the necessity of its obeying us. From Adam onward, man has been fighting for his life and his rights in a universe that no longer acknowledges him as its lord. You see through history the greatest conqueror bought to his death by a snake—or now, even more humiliatingly, by a microbe. As you can see, the harmony is wrecked…wrecked. What once was perfect balance is upset. To Adam who disobeyed, God said “The earth is cursed in thy work.” At creation, God looked upon all He hade made and saw it was very good. Now there is a disorder in it—not part of God’s design but by Adam’s sin. And what happened as result—let’s see, Mr., Mr. Brusseau. You say—what? Speaker louder, sir. You say—good so far as you go but let me amplify.

“We are born without supernatural life…not because Adam, having lost it, could not transmit it to us…no-no…for as we have seen, Adam almost surely regained it for himself. No, the supernatural life is not transmitted by inheritance as our bodies are. We are born without it—not because Adam didn’t have it to give to us, but…and this is important, gentlemen…but because the condition on which God would have given it to us at the first moment of our existence was that Adam should not fail. But he failed.”

The next day: “There was to be Atonement. God knew what He would have to do that the race of man would return to His friendship—for which He gave sanctifying grace to individual men. There would be for men a second chance. But it comes with the condition that each man shall be tested individually. This, gentlemen, is known as the testing of the will. The will is free to choose God or to choose ourselves against God. Now this latter choice is seldom presented as a choice of self—but by means of seeking happiness according to one’s own desires…which may be directed to anything whatever that is—but against the will of God. But do not despair, gentlemen, buffeted as you are with improper desires. Remember—we know that God knew what He would do to un-do the catastrophe of man’s fall. It is not for nothing that the very first statement made by God of what He would do was not delivered to Adam or Eve but to Satan—and He made it in terms of absolute victory over the Devil. His head was to be crushed.”

And the next week, Monday: “Naturally a generation living a devitalized life—half-wasted in looking for happiness where it does not exist and avoiding suffering where it cannot be avoided—is not happy. Unhappiness is always unused or ill-used spiritual energy and man has within himself so many energies made for God that lacking God these energies cannot be satisfied—and can only turn in upon man and rend him.”

My Conclusion.

Therefore with Madoff as with Blagojevich, there is no need to cry out for more laws…more regulation. Madoff accomplished his scam not through hedge funds: hedge funds were victimized here. He accomplished it not through a weakness of regulation: The SEC investigated him in 2005 and 2007. The conclusion is that it is impossible for stricter finance regulation to block a Blagojevich or more complex securities supervision to prevent a Madoff. The ultimate lesson is about men not politics in the case of Blagojevich, about men not regulation of finance as with Madoff. It means in the case of Blagojevich that we must pay stricter diligence to those like him who importune us with the promise of perfect social justice on earth which is not in anyone’s province. It means in the case of Madoff the watchword must be diversification and diligence.

As Ernie concluded his last lecture before our graduation:

“It’s been a rewarding four years, gentlemen—for me…not for you. But there will come a time when you remember these years. You who have taken notes, keep them. Now I leave with you the injunction of Saint Paul from Romans 5. 18. It goes, ‘One man commits a fault and it brings condemnation on all [Adam]. One man makes amends [Christ] and it brings to all justification, that is life. A multitude will become acceptable to God through one man’s obedience, just as a multitude through one man’s disobedience became guilty.’

“Now go to your graduation but so long as you shall live, remember this. My concern over these years has been not with the Will but the Intellect. Not with sanctity but sanity. Some time, pray it comes soon, you will appreciate this.”

More excerpts from the four-year treasure trove from Ernie’s lectures--some other time.

Personal Asides: Baar Topinka Trying to Recycle Herself for `10…McCain Shouldn’t Be Viewed as GOP Spokesman.



Judy Baar Topinka, the prematurely orange-haired Tugboat Annie of the Republican party, the Catholic pro-abort and pro-gay rights successor to the Thompson-Edgar-Ryan-Hastert wing of the bipartisan Combine, is seeking to recycle herself as candidate for governor in 2010. In radio appearances she has hinted at a sequel to 2006—seeking to return to a career where she had...

…refused, as state Republican chairman, to endorse Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald for reelection at a time when Fitzgerald was pondering his future…because Fitz was too adamant in refusing to knuckle under in obeying orders from Washington (and Denny Hastert) to name a tame pro-Combine puppy from Illinois as U.S. attorney…following which she…

…reiterated her non-support of Fitz when she appeared on my radio show…then when the heat came on, turned tail and contradicted what she had said to 100,000 plus listeners on the radio—proving that the truth isn’t in her…after which she later…

…notified the president of the United States as Republican gubernatorial nominee that he could come to Illinois to raise money for her only if he did it in a secure, undisclosed location…preliminary to her later tactic of…

…failing to come up with anything like a counter-budget although she was state treasurer—declaring only that Blago should not have had the state pay for inserting warming rods under the pavement leading to the Springfield mansion—all the while she…

…flirted with a tax-hike leading Ralph Martire who candidly supports a net tax hike to put a Topinka placard on his Riverside lawn…the same Topinka who glories in the descriptive “irrepressible,” leading her on a dull news day to…

…veer off state issues in a talk by blasting the Chicago Cubs as inveterate losers, thus alienating every Cub fan a few days before election.

Her latest hint-bid for governor followed a statement a week ago by Jim Edgar, who had sobbed before reporters when he decided not to run, saying he now regretted that decision but adding the voters of Illinois have themselves to blame by not voting for Topinka in `06.

Her likely entry into the race will see her allied once more surreptitiously with pseudo-conservative Bill Brady who aided her in 2006 by running interference for which he was rewarded with a kiss…aka the Judas Kiss…after she won the nomination. The two are expected to team up once more against any conservative. Well, the old strategy won’t work this time as it did two years ago. Bill is better known now—although not as well known as he ultimately will be…and Judy-Judy-Judeee is used merchandise.

McCain’s Spokesman Role is Over.

John McCain was the best candidate the GOP could have fielded last year and campaigned valiantly. The true Messiah of Nazareth Himself could not have won in the midst of an unpopular war and looming recession—so Republicans ought to quit rehearsing what McCain might have, should have, would have, done…i.e. not going to Ottumwa, Iowa but instead Cedar Rapids—all the foolish rationalizing. But at the same time…

…the party should recognize that never has a losing nominee continued beyond the date of his loss as purported top GOP spokesman. Not Herbert Hoover after 1933…nor Alf Landon after 1936, Wendell Willkie after 1940, not Tom Dewey after 1944-48, nor Barry Goldwater after 1964…not Richard Nixon after 1973…not Gerald Ford after 1977…only Ronald Reagan after his presidency (until his health failed) in tribute to his uniquely successful presidency. This means that McCain’s preemptory rebuke to the RNC not to go after Blagojevich should be disregarded—even rebuked…not as an insult but by the simple fact he now does not carry the same authority he did as nominee…but he is now just another Republican senator. McCain is not the titular leader of the party since he was not elected. If he wants to run errands for Barack, let him—but he can leave the toga of party leadership on the RNC doorstep, folded up neatly for someone else to try on.

The sooner he is told this by the party—not unkindly but nonetheless candidly…the better. Other Republicans who aspire to the nomination or even those who do not should now be listened to—Romney, Palin, Huckabee, Thompson, Jindal, Barbour et al.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Personal Aside: It’s Rahm’s Scatalogical Talking Style That’ll Do Him In…Now Quinn Wants to Appoint? A “Temporary Senator?” Huh?...Who Let “Honest Ab” In?...What’s This Nixon-Frost Stuff?...Obama Moving into Blair Smells Like Emanuel…What’s This....

Personal Aside: It’s Rahm’s Scatalogical Talking Style That’ll Do Him In…Now Quinn Wants to Appoint? A “Temporary Senator?” Huh?...Who Let “Honest Ab” In?...What’s This Nixon-Frost Stuff?...Obama Moving into Blair Smells Like Emanuel…What’s This About Simon-Douglas? Who’s Obama Forgetting?...All These and Thoughts While Shaving.

The “F” Word Multiplied.

There’s nothing wrong with Rahm Emanuel having talked multiple times with Gov. Blagojevich concerning the Senate vacancy…but what will do him in will be the ugly, officious and scatalogical tone of the conversation. Typical Rahm, when I knew him, he was staccato-ing the “f” word. Didn’t turn me off but a book written about him by a sycophant in the Washington bureau of the “Tribune” last year made a point of saying that this word is still being peppered throughout his conversation—and that he explained it by saying that at home with his family everybody talks like that (sic). That’s the same Rahm whom I knew well 20 years ago when he wanted to get on the radio and kept calling me, “Tommmmeeee! How do I get on?”

What is likely to kill him as Obama’s chief of staff is exactly what I telegraphed as soon as he was appointed. I wrote that his style…belligerent, arrogant in the extreme, short-tempered, explosive, profane, obscene…is likely to do him in, in a job that often requires the utmost of tact. Hence I think that you’ll find when the tape transcripts come out that Obama will decide that Emanuel keep his congressional seat and scrub Rahm’s being chief of staff. Throwing anybody under the bus who becomes an embarrassment is easy for the Messiah. In this case, he’d be right. One of the things that severed Richard Nixon from much of his following were the tapes that showed the low-level of his language which conveyed a subliminal disappointment to his allies. They had had a higher level of appreciation for Nixon than that whose private conversations were unknown up to that point.

While no one who ever met Emanuel has a high level of appreciation for his language skills, disclosure of that kind of talk to the nation is going to cause Barack Obama…who is noteworthy for throwing anyone under the bus who direly affects himself…to decide that Emanuel would be far more valuable in the House and as a private, backstairs confidant rather than the top staffer. And Obama will be right.

NOW He Wants to Appoint?

In the beginning, Pat Quinn who has the most sanctimonious eyeballs in the state…rolling up to heaven for sustenance and back to earth to demonstrate his purity…wanted to have a general election for the U. S. Senate. Now, when he assured of becoming governor, he wants to appoint a Senator. That figures. Probably wants to appoint himself? Nope—he ‘s heard from the Daley machine that there’s a real danger…if they have an election…that a Republican will win: NAMELY REP. MARK KIRK. He’s not my favorite but it’s interesting about Quinn who’s been on my show countless times.

Yesterday he was on “Meet the Press” trying to weasel his way through …saying maybe the state should have a “temporary senator” to vote on key stuff before an election is held. Wants it both ways. A temporary senator is unconstitutional, Pat. Hope he doesn’t plan to govern this way. I tell you: Put your hand on your wallet when this pre--canonized saint appears…another friend of Axelrod. He’s as bad as the others but has one great virtue: he has figured out how to get the most out of a campaign with the fewest dollars expended…including the smartest-very smartest-utilization of free media I have ever seen, having been rivaled only by the late Roman Pucinski.

Honest Ab.

An earlier version of Pat Quinn is now appearing regularly in news conferences calling for (a) the impeachment of, or (b) the resignation of, or (c) both. That would be Abner Mika aka Honest Ab. On Fox News yesterday he was billed as Obama’s personal ethics chief. Obama better watch Honest Ab. He’s originally from Hyde Park and touted himself as a great foe of the machine but played ball with them later-on—this, after he was defeated, fittingly, by the tottering, near senile last surviving Spanish American war veteran in the Congress, Barrett O’Hara…so old that he headed an investigatory committee as lieutenant governor following the Eastland disaster in the Chicago river.

Ab moved to Hyde Park North…Evanston…and got himself acquainted. He waited until thousands of the denizens from Hyde Park trailed in his wake to populate his district. Ab got elected to the House, served a few terms but was defeated. Then he wanted to go to the Supreme Court and almost made it, being named district judge and then appellate judge by Jimmy Carter. Then after Reagan, he quit and came home as a certifiable whitened sepulcher…returning to Washington to serve as Bill Clinton’s ethics czar. Yes, that’s right: Bill Clinton’s ethics czar in the era of Whitewater probes et al. I can understand Ab doing nothing about the fellatio going on upstairs in the little adjunct to the Oval Office because Ab is not crazy. He just knows when to spot unethical events and when not to. It was a common knowledge ala Betty Curry (Clinton’s secretary with whom worked years earlier in the White House). Ab would have to have been blind and deaf not to know what was going on. He was the ideal watchdog who, tossed a bone, didn’t bark.

Fair enough but who thought of him as the pillar of rectitude at Lisa’s press conference? Probably Ab himself who muscled his way in. That way he landed a juicy feature story in the “Trib” about himself as the wise old Jewish patriarch. The writer who was probably about 22 years old didn’t understand that truly Ab was the piano player on the bordello’s first floor trying to distract those from finding out what was going on on the second.


What’s this “Nixon-Frost” film that lefty critics are so ga-ga about? Are we that short of scandals…Blago…the Wall Street meltdown…last week’s Bernie Madoff hedge fund Ponzi scheme…that we have to dig up a 1972 break-in at the Watergate? Not only that—re-do a TV interview (which I watched originally) with actors simulating the q and a? The reason is, of course, that Hollywood liberals love wallowing in Watergate. The Clinton Whitewater thing is distasteful because the protagonist is a sullied liberal hero…the Kennedy years besotted with indecision ala Bay of Pigs and horrifying sexual excess is disturbing to their lefty psyches. So we have to go to old Nixon again—for a reenactment. Everything else has failed the lefty tastes: the “W” movie bombed. When you can’t make a buck with another Michael Moore extravaganza or a make-believe “documentary” on the president, you have to dig up Watergate—even if you have to re-shoot the old David Frost interview.

Obama into Blair?

There are some political moves that just smells of hyper-expedient pushy-ness. One is the sudden idea from the Obama forces that their Messiah should move into Blair House so as to be just around the corner from the White House when January 20 comes. In that way, the media would have two virtual presidents at one time…one on the way out, the other on the way in. You know where that idea came from? Guess. He’s mum now: pursuing the Silence of the Rahm as the feds study 300 hours of audio tape with Blago.


It would behoove our incoming Messiah to be more bipartisan, now especially since he must court Republicans in House and Senate to get anything done. When he held a recent news conference on Blago, he pointed out that Illinois has had a number of honest politicians…but he could only think of two semi-contemporaries (besides the inevitable Abraham Lincoln to whom he wants to be compared). They were former senators Paul Douglas and Paul Simon. Douglas was indeed a good man who showed great political independence throughout his life…particularly with his insistence that we could—if we strove hard enough—win the Vietnam War.

He was also the coiner of the immortal phrase “to be a liberal one need not be a wastrel.” The second, sanctimonious Paul Simon, was a showboat who never really accomplished anything in the Senate save getting his name in the papers…who criticized Chuck Percy for running for the presidency in his first term but then who himself ran for the presidency in his first term…and occupied the far-left wing of the Democratic party. A 24 carat phony and progenitor of Dickie Durbin. But neither Douglas nor Simon ever fought with Daley or interfered with the early Combine. Douglas made peace with them and Simon negotiated successfully with them.

Strange that the Messiah couldn’t remember the name Fitzgerald—as in Peter…who refused to follow the dictates of the Combine (ala Daley- Thompson-Ryan-Edgar-Hastert-Topinka)…who was penalized for it by being denied support by his own party’s chairman, Tugboat Annie Topinka…and who best of all named and fought for the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) as U.S. Attorney when it was against the dicta of the Bush administration’s Karl Rove who warned him that he could only name an Illinoisan. Fitzgerald, Mr. Obama, isn’t a too tough name to remember—is it? Guess it just got stuck in your throat. Of course it wouldn’t occur to the supine local media to prompt him on it, would it? Not when people like Mike Flannery are so-so in love with 44.

Maybe it does because somebody named Fitzgerald might just bring down a portion of the Obama house of cards starting with Rahm.

Thoughts While Shaving.

When…oh when…is that awful graffiti that passes for cartooning on the building standing on the corner of the Kennedy expressway near Ashland—sponsored by Bank of America…going to be removed? It was put up for the Chicago marathon: bad art then, worse now. A gross decline from the days when LaSalle Bank used to put up great highway art on the same spot…

These days I wear on my lapel a small pin with a Latin inscription from Psalms 146:13 reading NOLITE CONFIDERE IN PRINCIPIBUS. Translated: “Place not your trust in Princes.” Social conservatives err when they stake too much on the political process to change the culture. Politicians…all of them…are bottom-feeders, really: they react to the pressures that come from above to them. The culture will only be changed from the media which must be reformed. Change the media and pressure will be exerted on the bottom-feeders who will change society’s morals…

If I were to start my family-building again, I’d stress to my kids: get involved in the media. I tell every young person I see: get involved in public policy formation but DON’T run for office. It’s corruptive. The only way to run for office is to do what a Minnesota governor told me when I worked for him as a young man—and when I was thinking of running for Congress in Minnesota. “Don’t run until and unless you have made at least $20 million in the private sector”—as he had. Financial independence, he said, means all the difference in candidacies…

Money-raising in politics for a poor man is corruptive and the only way to keep one’s soul intact as a candidate is to make a pile before you run. Take a look at the people going to jail: unethical money-raising caused it. And NO, Cindi Canary’s goofy reforms won’t do it. The temptation will still be there for people of modest means to cheat and strike evil bargains to get financed. Laws won’t work and have not worked (witness McCain-

Feingold). Being financially independent—meaning wealthy in the extreme—before you run is all-important. Sorry but that’s the way it is. Politics is no game for a poor man or one of modest means.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Personal Aside: Father Ernie, Ambition, the Nature of Graft and the Virtue of Prudence.



“Gentlemen,” said Fr. Ernest Kilzer OSB to us sentenced to take four straight years (1946-50) of theology and philosophy of terminal boredom under his tutorledge, in response to the aged Abbot of Saint John’s dictum that such a monastic prison term meted out to indentured lay students would produce manifold Benedictine vocations: a bet that fell far short with me, “…gentlemen, I commend to you the words of Francis Bacon in `Novum Organum’…and my scribbling notes from Phil 201 continue…notes that exist 47 years after he was laid to rest in the Abbey churchyard. “It was Bacon, gentlemen…”

“…who said and I quote from memory `It is well to distinguish three species of ambition. First, that of men who are anxious to enlarge their own power in their country which is a vulgar and degenerate kind. Next, that of men who strive to enlarge the power and empire of their country over mankind, which is more dignified but not less covetous. And third, to endeavor to renew and enlarge the power and empire of mankind in general over the universe, such ambition is both more sound and more noble than the other two.’ You may trust that this will be contained in my semester’s examination.” Four straight years of conservative pre-Vatican II theology and Augustine-Aquinas philosophy have stayed with me yet—enabling me to earn not a farthing from it…but which serves as solace in old age.

…as when I reflect on the ambition generated by Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., a bright young man know rather well—an ambition for the U. S. senate for which he should never have yielded given the known venal characteristic of the potential confererer of such honor, Blagojevich. It appears it may be the case that young Jesse coveted the honor far too much and that he is now caught in a web with his father and brother Yusef as conceivably having brought to Blago’s attention that funds could be raised—ostensibly for noble purpose—to satisfy Blago’s requisite. Young Jesse should have known better because the entire political world was aware that Blago was on a glass side under a microscope perused closely by the feds; he should have imagined that Blago would be taped and that others acting in his behalf would be taped. His old man who has never been particularly sensitive to ethics could be forgiven…Yusef could be forgiven, his single brush with impropriety being the Budweiser distributorship, delivered by his father, with which he seemed to have escaped scot-free…but Jesse, Jr.

“Ambition, gentlemen,” droned the old priest, “comes from the despicable vice of pride. You will remember that the devil’s purpose is to seduce. His purpose is eminently logical. He approaches us with a suggestion in the imagination that grows into a specious reason in the mind—which (Mr. Roeser, as you chewing gum? Take that pacifier out of your mouth, sir!)…which, if dwelled on, influences the will by motivating us to do something that is actually bad but apparently good. Ambition can be an enchainment, a form of slavery, manipulated by the Evil One to whom one becomes the unwitting tool.”

Politicians do this all the time. They send emissaries which I presume young Jesse did. Jesse, Jr. cannot be held responsible for their words—or, I presume his father’s words (although the old man, if he really got on tape promising to deliver the dough, can spend the remainder of his golden years—well…enough of that). There is no doubt Barack Obama has been very close to young Jesse, having named him national campaign co-chairman. Young Jesse wouldn’t do it but the old man…so heedless of subtlety (as when he threatened before a live mic to un-man Obama) could.

Then, the federal government talks about the two hour long telephonic conference call where some joined, some left, others joined. Who would they be? Well, they would be Illinoisans, obviously.

In our fourth year of Thomistic Ethics, when he turned to the subject of graft in politics, aged Fr. Ernie (who had been domiciled in the monastery since he was 14) said, “gentlemen, graft in political behavior may be described as the acquisition of money, position or property by dishonest or questionable means, as for example the taking of one’s official status in the administration of government. First we must distinguish a sincere gift from graft proper. The more I think of this gentlemen the more I think this will be in the finals. How do we distinguish a sincere gift from graft proper? In practice the difference between gift and graft is not difficult to distinguish. How would you distinguish it…Mr. Roeser? You say—what?

“You say…WHAT? Repeat. Well, not exactly sir. You may sit down. The answer is equity. EQUITY. Equity requires the best person be chosen for a given post without denying the right of preference for those with whom the man in public office is more familiar and friendly. But if an appointment were to be made in consideration for a sum of money or other benefit donated by the appointee…why, then, this is stealing in disguise. Gentlemen the bell that rings ends our discussion—but remember: it is not enough to abstain from graft or from dishonest practices when the persons in question have been duly elected or appointed to positions of public trust. They are to behave in such a way that the people’s trust in their integrity not be jeopardized.”

Who would those Illinoisans on the phone be? They probably would be Emanuel and Axelrod for two. Are their participation evidence of culpability? No. Representing Obama, they have the perfect right to talk with Blagojevich. But by talking to this checkered man were they prudent? Ah, the matter of prudence again. In the fourth year discussing Aquinas’ view of ethics, old Ernie…laboring with a bad chest cold:

“Is prudence a virtue necessary to man? What does Aquinas say about it. Before we get to that—WHERE does Aquinas say it? Mr. Roeser. You say what? WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU. Ah, now I can. Yes, you are correct, sir, in the 4th article on the intellectual virtues. Now what does he say about prudence, Mr. Arth? Mr. Arth? Did you hear me? I asked, what does he say about prudence. All right, I’ll help you. Is prudence a virtue necessary to man? Yes, sir you are correct. This class is alert today! Prudence is necessary for human life because the good life consists of good deeds. Now, in order to do good deeds, it matters not only what a man DOES but HOW HE DOES IT. Consequently an intellectual virtue—which is what prudence is—is needed in the reason to PERFECT the reason…to make it suitably affected towards things ordained in the end—and this virtue is PRUDENCE! Consequently prudence is a virtue necessary to lead a good life.”

Some say Obama has not been drawn in to this matter. To that conjecture I agree. But it seems evident that his staff has…Emanuel and Axelrod—others as well. If so, by even talking to Blago given his reputation and the likeliness of the federal probe, they have sorely failed the test of prudence more than a month before they are to take office to help their president. And Rahm Emanuel most of all. As incoming chief of staff, as shrewd as they come, he should have avoided talking with the leprous Blago.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Personal Asides: How Awful About Patti!....Former Railroad Lobbyist Lincoln Might Twitch in His Grave but Not Turn Over—Completely.


How Awful About Patti.

Well, com’on, guys. Everybody, including a little lady whose husband is running into trouble and who herself might do a little time, is entitled to express a few vulgarisms…even obscenities…without the august, sanctimonious mainstream media raising their eyes to heaven. After all, we know that journalists don’t swear, don’t take the name of the Lord in vain and never-ever make un-fastidious allusions to the male-female reproductive process. I think the “Sun-Times” headline yesterday that gasps at the surreptitiously tape-recorded exclamations of Patti Blagojevich…gasps!...presses its fingers to its eyes so as to ward off a cerebral hemorrhage in astonishment…is really overdone.

And what is this stuff about the quick canonization of Dick Mell? Huh? Is that the same Dick Mell who was on public radio so often with me on the Bruce DuMont show where we’d have to clamp our hands over his mouth before we went on as he was in the midst of god-damning his political enemies? Now all he’s worrying about are his daughter and grandchildren. Why, goodness sake, I remember Dick Mell before he became a virgin. The guy whom Hispanics in his area call “the Old Gringo” because of his dirty tricks against them.

The guy who had a garage-full of Bernie Epton signs. The guy who plotted to get his son-in-law’s career jump-started. I remember being in his office when he was taking calls…my-my…what he was going to do to Rostenkowski before they agreed that they would lie down and not oppose Rosty…and then what he would do to Michael Flanagan…and what he SAID about Michael Flannagan being unmarried, And how he passed the word when Rod ran for governor as how he…Mell…would reward everybody who played ball in that election. Yes-yes-yes, he’s a saint all right.

We’re worried about Patti’s dirty mouth, are we? And there we have the sainted, white-haired old multi-millionaire saddened. Makes you tear up.

Hasn’t Stirred in Oak Ridge Yet.

The indictment of Rod Blagojegvich is truly the nadir of all Illinois…maybe national… politics…probably topping but not by much the record of Republican Gov. Len Small [1921-29] who cut fund-raising deals by letting murderers out of jail with pardons if their supporters would come up with some cash…that coming after his indictment as state treasurer for money laundering for which he was acquitted but not before he tampered with the jury that freed him. Blago is definitely the worst, having attempted to shop a U. S. Senate appointment for dough on the barrel-head. That never happened before here—but, then, who can be sure.

I take second to no one in condemning Blago but I must say I was rather troubled when Patrick Fitzgerald said that Lincoln must be turning over in his grave. Undeniably, Lincoln was the second greatest president…and more than that—a genius—which the first greatest, Washington surely wasn’t, But turning over in his grave?

Are we talking about the same Lincoln, the railroad lobbyist, who as state rep led his Whig party to appropriate $12 million…then a huge sum…for subsidies for railroad building and where, in the old capitol, he drew a map for a railroad from Galena in the extreme northwestern part of the state and a road to run north of St. Louis, three roads to radiate and then a road to run from Quincy through Springfield and another from Warsaw to Peoria…another from Pekin to Bloomington? I think we are. It led to a huge financial debacle with no projects being completed and all of the money either wasted or stolen…or paid to railroad lawyers of which Lincoln was the prime example.

Yes we are, that same Lincoln who became the nation’s premier railroad lawyer (read: “Lincoln and the Railroads” by John W. Starr)…the same Lincoln who was continuously one of the crack attorneys for the Illinois Central from its organization in 1849 until he became president…who was such a corporate insider that he traveled the Midwest in a private rail car with a free pass…who successfully defended the road against McLean county which wanted to tax the road’s property. He won and sent the railroad a bill for $5,000. That sum is roughly equal to more than $200,000 today, the largest sum ever paid at that time to any Midwest lawyer for a single case in the 1850s. Lincoln presented his staggering bill to the president of the road, George B. McClellan by name, the vice president of Illinois Central—yes the same McClellan who would work for Lincoln as the Union’s top general of the Grand Army of the Potomac, whom Lincoln replaced twice and who ran against Lincoln as a Democrat in 1864.

The IC board didn’t want to pay it so Lincoln and McClellan hatched a plan to get him the fee. Lincoln then sued IC for the money but meanwhile McClellan worked inside the company to get them to lay down for it so when Lincoln showed up in court, no lawyers from IC were there, so he got paid by default. Lincoln became the most successful railroad lawyer of his time…representing not just the IC but the Chicago & Alton, the Ohio & Mississippi and the Chicago & Rock Island. Nothing wrong with that nor with the fact that the New York Central offered him its general counsel’s job at a stratospheric salary…$10,000 per annum…then approaching a million a year—which he turned down because he would have to move to New York and he had political plans here.

Nothing wrong with that either. Nor by the standards of the time with the trip he took free on the railroad to Council Bluffs, Iowa where he purchased some property from his fellow railroad attorney Norm Judd who had acquired the tracts from the Chicago & Rock Island. Why did he do so when Council Bluffs was a town of 1,500 with little future? Because Lincoln knew there would be a transcontinental railroad sometime and that Council Bluffs would figure in the future as being a good starting point for the railroad. How did he know that coming from Springfield? Because the renowned railroad engineer (one who designed routes), Grenville Dodge, told him so.

And thus it came to pass that when he became president he proposed emergency legislation to create just that self-same transcontinental railroad and that he personally picked Council Bluffs, Iowa as the eastern terminus. And he named Dodge as chief engineer for the UP.

Nothing wrong with this stuff by the rubric of the mid-19th century. But he was not just a genius and humanitarian. He was more than that. He was one hell of a lobbyist, lawyer and manipulator. Of course he never sold a senate seat but he damn sure took care of his friends who took care of him.

He’s probably disturbed a lot about Rod but not enough to turn over in his grave. At least not yet. Of course there’s more to come out about Rod and so maybe the Great Emancipator is getting ready to make his move.