Friday, February 27, 2009

Personal Aside: Liberal Academe Has the World Upside Down in “Rating the Presidents”—Washington No.2…and Worse, Wilson No. 5 and Coolidge 26.


Further evidence that most of our country’s college professors are goofed up if more is needed…when I taught at Harvard many of the papers I received prior spell-check were misspelled, badly or barely punctuated and wretchedly written…is the recent C-SPAN ratings of U. S. presidents by arrogant practitioners of Ivy League universities some of whom are clearly educated beyond their intelligence. Can you believe this? Number two is George Washington…topped by Abraham Lincoln in first place. The order should be reversed. I can’t believe it: Washington number 2!

Evidently the following major event in U.S. history doesn’t cut ice with these elitists of academe: After Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown on Oct.19, 1781 which effectively ended the war, Gen. Lewis Nicola, writing to Washington on behalf of his fellow senior officers of the Continental army, said his colleagues were wholeheartedly against the idea of a republic as a form of postwar government, saying it was unworkable, a hopelessly idealistic system that was bound to fail…and urged creation of either a monarchy with Washington as king or a dictatorship with Washington the unelected leader for life.

Washington instantly repudiated this idea as repugnant to his character and convictions. Later the officers…angered that they were unpaid…formed a cabal around Gen. Horatio Gates, hero of the Battle of Saratoga, who was all too eager to become king. They mobilized and confronted Washington for their pay at a memorable meeting in Newburgh, N.Y. Washington met them and disarmed them by force of character, laying the groundwork for the republic we have now. Winning the Revolution, dissuading a kingship-dictatorship, becoming the first president where everything he did launched a precedent…and after all this he’s only No. 2?

Third place in this litany of bowderlized political correctness goes to liberal idol FDR who worsened the depression, extending it by poorly-conceived statist programs until World War II which caused an artificial boom…a war which he manipulated us into by inciting Japan through a choking trade embargo…a war that restored rosy prosperity that was as artificial as a patient’s cheeks burning with fever.

Number 6 belongs to that pillar of marital fidelity, JFK… who botched the Bay of Pigs, failed to impress the Soviets to the extent that they built the Berlin wall…leading to the Cuban missile crisis where the president had Bobby defer to Khrushchev by pulling our missiles out of Turkey…all the while hyping the confrontation as a “the USSR blinked first” bogus victory…due to the propaganda of pandering Ben Bradlee of The Washington Post, his partying buddy whom…a liberal scenario we have been led to believe ever since.

10th place belongs to Ronald Reagan who ended the Carter stagflation-sagging economy with tax cuts and Volcker-led tight credit which wrung inflation out of the system…who won the Cold War. Yet Reagan is topped by…outrageous!...Woodrow Wilson (9th). That would be the same Wilson who hoodwinked us into World War I by insisting Americans have a right to travel on belligerent ships such as Cunard’s Lusitania despite warnings from the German government that British merchant ships were continually carrying munitions and henceforth would be regarded as military vessels. Yes the same so-called 9th greatest president of the United States—a purported idealist—who maneuvered us secretly to enter World War I which inevitably produced the inequities that prompted World War II…which in turn led to the Cold War. Certainly one of the most duplicitous stratagems involved the Lusitania.

The Lusitania, secretly loaded with munitions in the U. S. for Britain, was sunk by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915 with one torpedo—killing 1,198 including 128 Americans and 102 children. The 31,000-ton vessel sank in 18 minutes, spurring suspicions it was loaded with munitions which exploded—steadfastly denied by Wilson. Goaded by Wilson’s government propaganda agency under hired propagandist George Creel…the first such created…American public opinion exploded in a furor leading to demands we go to war against Germany.

The horror of German barbarity in sinking the Lusitania (without mention that it was an arms ship, of course) trumped up by Wilson’s Creel director of the U.S. Bureau on Public Information, was invented out of whole cloth…along with Creel’s fictitious story that Germans celebrated the anniversary of the Lusitania torpedoing, as a national holiday—a myth which angered the U.S. public to the boiling point.

In 1915, Wilson sent three angry well-publicized notes of protest to the German government, insisting the ship was a peaceful merchant vessel. After his reelection in 1916 in which his slogan was “He kept us out of war,” Wilson used the case of the Lusitania and other events as a pretext for war, justifying the hopes of Winston Churchill, then 1st lord of the admiralty: “It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores in the hope of embroiling the United States with Germany…If some get into trouble, better still.” Following his reelection, the sinking of four other merchant ships armed with U.S. Navy guns, qualifying them as military vessels, led Wilson to request a declaration of war with Germany in April, 1917.

Lusitania a Munitions Carrier.

U. S. divers in 2006 explored the hulk of the Lusitania where it lay off Old Head of Kinsdale, Ireland. They found 15,000 rounds of .303 ammunition in its hold, bullets used by British machine gunners and an additional 4 million rounds in its bow, enough to easily warrant it as a military vessel. Loaded to the gills with illegal arms, that’s why the ship exploded and sank so quickly when struck by one torpedo. And those passengers who were aboard never knew they were on a floating grenade. Nice guy that Wilson, huh?

Why did Wilson want to go to war? When Chicago’s Jane Addams, a Nobel peace prize winner, came to him pleading that he use his influence to keep out of war (which had been his campaign theme), he told her crassly: “As head of a nation participating in the war, the president of the United States would have a seat at the peace-table but…if he remained the representative of a neutral country, he could at best only call through a crack in the door.” In other words, he wanted to play a decisive role at the world’s poker table as a “statesman.” Now you see, don’t you?

Harding and Coolidge Duds?

Ranking way down the list…at 38th of a total 43… is Republican Warren Harding. Aw gee, you always heard Harding was a dud, didn’t you? After all wasn’t he picked for president in a smoke-filled room in Chicago’s Blackstone hotel? No other president was chosen that way, ever! Yeah, right. He had the terrible Teapot Dome scandal.

Well let’s clear the air. When he came to office (following the sainted, Ph.D Woodrow Wilson) the top income tax rate was a staggering 73% with many wealthy putting their income in tax-free municipals. Under Harding the tax rate was lowered to 40 and later 25%, producing a prosperity the lasted a decade and not an illusory prosperity that triggered the Depression, either: a fallacy spawned by John Kenneth Galbraith who viewed affluence as sinful (unless he shared in it).

Teapot Dome was a largely fabricated “scandal,” concocted as one because the oil reserve in Wyoming was leased to private oil companies that provided the Navy with refined oil for storage in exchange for crude—which angered militant conservationists. At the same time, the secretary of the interior received a $100,000 loan from one of the beneficiaries. None of the investigations by Democrats implicated Harding (who had died before the “scandal” was uncovered). His successor, Coolidge, beat the Democrats to the draw by naming two special prosecutors, a Democrat and a Republican. To make matters transparent, Coolidge demanded and got Harding’s old attorney general to resign.

All three ex-Harding cabinet people were acquitted…but in the media the fact that Harding had done nothing wrong and was uninvolved in Teapot Dome proved irrelevant. He has been a punch-line for corruption ever since. His so-called “scandal” was minor league compared to the ones that erupted under Harry Truman…rated 5th highest among all the presidents by the scholars. Oh, and Harding supposedly sired an illegitimate daughter? Didn’t happen. There was a woman, Carrie Phillips, in his life in Marion, Ohio, his hometown, but he turned her aside and stayed with wife Florence.

Silent Cal and Prosperity.

Harding’s successor, Calvin Coolidge, stands at a lowly 26 in the ratings. All he did was engender such prosperity with tax and spending cuts that by decade’s end, the U. S. controlled 34% of total world production, Coolidge achieving this largely by “hands off”—spurning grandiose government programs bearing the catchy slogans of “Square Deal,” “New Deal,” “Fair Deal” and “New Frontier.” A plain-speaking Vermonter by birth, who disliked pomp, he cut taxes by $1.2 billion each year he served, reduced the public debt by $2.4 billion each year, installed a budget system over the government for the first time in its history, cut public spending $3.4 billion per year, reducing expenses to the country’s pre-World War I level. Yet, he’s way down there at 26, below Zachary Taylor who died after a year in office.

Now we go zooming up again to the top…back to number 5…to consider that icon created by David McCollough and others—Harry Truman.

The Strange Fascination with Truman.

Harry Truman has been the beneficiary of liberal adulation ever since he fired Douglas MacArthur, despised by the left. Also because he initiated the Marshall Plan that purportedly saved Europe from Communism and NATO which shored up European defenses. But balanced against this: he cut off aid to Chinese nationalists allowing the Communists to take over China, creating a problem we are wrestling with yet.

In the Truman scandals, an assistant attorney general for tax policy was indicted and 166 IRS employees either resigned or were fired for corruption. Truman named a special prosecutor to ferret out corruption but his own attorney general fired him, following which Truman fired the AG. More than 400 federal employees either resigned or were fired due to too-close involvement in Communist activities.

Truman refused to fire the purported ranking Communist in the government, Harry Dexter White assistant to the treasury secretary who was primarily responsible for vetoing aid to the Chinese Nationalists. Rebuking Republicans who insisted White was an articulate instrument of the Communist conspiracy, in pique Truman named him instead to a high policy post at the International Monetary Fund. After his death, White was named as a Soviet spy and espionage agent in the Venona papers recovered from USSR files following the collapse of that country.

Some day I swear I’ll do my own rating of the presidents. Washington will be restored to first place and the man who served when I was born, Calvin Coolidge will be `way up there.

What Would Silent Cal Say?

Speaking of Silent Cal, what would he say about the current economic mess if we dug him up today? We’d ask him what George W. Bush should have done to ward off the crisis. His answer: nothing. And what should President Obama do now to heal the economy? Again: nothing.

He’d say: “I refer you to the old New England axiom that when left alone, economies never fall into recession. You see, the free markets went out of kilter because in a liberal-focused campaign by both Presidents Bush and Clinton there was an attempt to use government pressure to artificially increase home ownership—particularly by minorities. Good aspiration but coercion doesn’t belong in the housing market—or any market.”

He’d continue: “The government got involved fooling around with the underwriting standards starting in the early 1990s when regulators, well-meaning but liberal academics boosted weakening in mortgage underwriting standards as an `innovation.’ Balderdash! This weakening increased home ownership but also the price of housing, leading to the housing price bubble. That bubble, tied to relaxed lending standards, spurred speculators to buy homes without putting their own money at risk. And so the foreclosures rose which started affecting other elements of the economy like a string of popping firecrackers.”

Nor would he go easy on his own party. “ It worsened when George W. Bush and the Republican Congress started spending money like drunken sailors. Total federal spending rose from 18.% of GDP in 2000 to 20.7% in 2008. Remember every extra point of GDP taken from the private sector by government cuts real GDP growth by 0.2%, causing more anxiety and calls for more government intervention. Bush should have put on the brakes with spending. But no--.”

Then, he’d reflect: “Bush made a mistake by panicking in the 2008 campaign…even though he wasn’t running… because he was scared he’d get tagged with the legacy of depression. So he pumped in gobs of federal money to supposedly (in his words) `save the free market economy’. Bush should have done nothing rather than spending $350 billion in so-called “stimulus” that grew government even more. Some institutions got money but not Lehman Brothers which failed-- causing more financial chaos. Which scared Bush even more so he proposed a $700 billion bank bail-out plan (TARP) with his dumb treasury secretary allowed to get started without any relief in basic accounting rules…the result being a collapse in the velocity of money and the worst decline in real GDP since the early `80s. What Bush should have done, he would summarize, is nothing because if left alone economies can only grow.

“Then along comes Obama pledging still more government interference. His $790 billion stimulus contains a floodtide of Christmas tree spending.”

Yet, Coolidge wouldn’t end on a sour note. He’d instill a dash of optimism: “ You’ll all suffer a lot—but because the Fed has pumped into the system an incredible amount of liquidity, the economy will recover. After all the government was committing identical mistakes in the late `60s and `70s which produced a 30% decline in the S&P 500 in 1974. Folks shouted it was the end of the world…but it spurted 32% in 1975 anyhow.”

“But I tell you,” he’d likely say in his Vermont-bred twang notwithstanding he was governor of Massachusetts, “the only thing that stands in the way of more total devastation and a fiscal deficit triple the size of last year’s huge budget gap is the lingering attraction of gold. We’ve got to get back to the gold standard. A big mistake to ever leave it. Private gold currencies have been the medium of exchange throughout history. It’s a counter to inflation. Under a gold standard, if folks think paper money printed by Uncle Sam is losing value, they have the option of switching to gold. Fiat money loses its value when government creates more than can be absorbed by a productive economy…which centers in certain sectors initially—housing, financial assets—but eventually raises prices in general. And inflation makes suckers out of savers.

“Remember this,” he’d say before returning to his family plot in Plymouth, Vt., “if capitalism is to be saved, it can’t be via the con game of diluting the value of money. There’s your Congress paying for 40% of the federal budget with money created from thin air. Such money will lose its capacity to serve honestly. Our paper currency can’t provide a reliable store of value. Now’s the time to quash the exclusive monopoly of Fed notes as currency. Listen, I’ve been dead a long time but even I’ve heard of legislation introduced in the Indiana state senate which would allow all citizens the option of paying in or receiving back gold and silver as an alternative to the Federal Reserve notes for all state transactions. We ought to pass that on a federal level. End of interview. Best of luck, America: I’ll be watching, pulling and praying for you!”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Personal Asides: Red Dye #40…Bernardin Death… Quinn’s Intended “Progressive” Income Tax Hike?...Burris to Play the Race Card Via One Who Knows How.


Fever Mystery Solved.

Remember not long ago when I was hospitalized while physicians probed the cause of a mysterious fever…which began promptly at 4 p.m. every afternoon with chills and continued until bedtime where, as I slept, the fever passed and I would awake drenched in sweat? It was like the TV series “House” as everyone from infectious disease specialists to general practitioners to interns reporting on the symptoms for their med school exams, to nurses who volunteered to guess, to medical residents who took notes…all these things. But all they could do for me practically was to pile more blankets on me when I trembled with the cold and take them off one by one as I perspired. Where, I prayed, was Dr. House?

I was finally discharged and directed to go to a physician who would take a bone marrow specimen which might possibly point to leukemia among other things. But on the day I appeared in his office, my blood test was normal and the bone marrow deferred. Now, what caused it all? And who discovered the cause of the mysterious fevers?

What caused it was my internal reaction to a medicine given me weeks earlier—to bolster the iron content in my blood as I am incorrigibly anemic. And who discovered it was Lillian Roeser, my good wife. ..who has no medical degree but a bachelor’s in English (with honors) from Loyola—which she earned after raising her children and becoming a grandmother. No medical detective but an observant wife, she deduced that I did not have these periods of freezing and sweating until I was on the iron regimen. Doctors at the hospital discounted it but on her insistence took me off the pill. Days later after the dastardly effect wore off, I was okay: the first day being when I visited the guy for the bone marrow. Specifically, what I was allergic to was Red Dye #40 with which the tablets were impregnated.

We are negotiating with Fox for Lillian to do a series of cameos on the show for big-big bucks—which will allow me to live a life of luxury with her that I knew I was always meant for. Our children and grandchildren now call her “Dr. House.” Just shows you the perspicacity of wives…especially after they have been married to a medical specimen for almost 50 years.

Memo Addendum on Bernardin.

Two of my readers deduced that…in my coverage of Alderman Burke and his fictitious eulogy of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin…I had him dying of AIDS. One in fact gave me a distinct version of hell by declaring that I am in need of repentance. In fact I never wrote this: The ex-seminarian Steven Cook did die of AIDS but where and how he contracted it is anyone’s guess. What I did was to quote Paul Likoudis who reported quite correctly that…contrary to myth…Cook did not repudiate his earlier testimony but that after prolonged negotiation with archdiocesan lawyers averred that he did not trust his memory—after which settlement the records were sealed. Bernardin did visit Cook in a highly publicized event and “forgave” him…similar to the visit made by John Paul II to his intended assassin, Mehmet Aci Agca, in jail and forgave him.

Quinn’s Intended Tax Hike?

There is little doubt that (a) Gov. Pat Quinn will massage the media with dire tales of Illinois red ink…seemingly changing for the worse by the day…that he will be pictured as being “forced”—utterly “forced”—to recommend an income tax hike. While the media’s symphony strings quiver in the background trembling with the notion of the poor who will be turned out in the snow, it is obvious he’s going to ask for it. But now the rumor has started…not by the pro-Quinn media certainly…that (b) he will ask for a “progressive income tax,” and putting the matter on the ballot, so as to underscore his populist credentials.

Presumably legislative Republicans to a person will oppose…although I’m not sure about that…but Democrats, of course, will be expected to go along with few exceptions. Anyhow, the media serenade will largely support the proposal originally recommended by Karl Marx (to the distaste of today’s liberals) “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”—the argument that has colored liberalism since the days of Franklin Roosevelt.

Illinois being such a stridently Democratic state, the predictions made by those who see advantage for Lisa Madigan in this, may not come to pass. Her almost belligerently aggressive stage poppa is reported to think that Quinn will be maimed by asking for the tax hike and that, by opposing him in the primary, his dimpled darling can capitalize on it. I dare to think otherwise. If Lisa doesn’t endorse the tax hike, she will not do all that well in a Democratic primary which is so inured to justify them in behalf of “social needs” etc. etc. If she does, there will not be any difference between her and Quinn. Her only hope…if she enters the primary at all…is that Quinn will have encountered rocky times as governor (corruption, misfeasance et al) to which she will show a bright contrast. At least that’s how I see it. But what do I know? All I know is her father’s golden rule: Do unto others before they do you.

In summary, I think you can count on Quinn proposing a “progressive” income tax.

Burris and the Race Card.

Roland Burris hired the adroit and smooth Del Marie Cobb as his p.r. maven: an almost certain indication that this aggressively, unrealistically egotistical little man with the elevator shoes that cause him to rise to 5-foot-six will do what Burris has done for a living: run-run-run. Cobb will work in tandem with him as the duo plays the race card. On “Chicago Tonight” hosted by the feminist Carol Marin and attended by the limp, liberal Jim Warren, formerly of the “Tribune” but not now, thank God…

…the high point of his service as Washington columnist being that he criticized Cokie Roberts for compromising her journalism by accepting speaking honoraria: a criticism that Warren dropped after he got some speaking offers himself. He is now fittingly situated on clown-buffoon Chris Matthews’ MSNBC (you remember Matthews, whose latest escapade was exclaiming “oh God!” on mike when Bobby Jindal appeared to answer Matthews’ unmanly-appearing love, Obama whom he earlier said caused a tingle to run up his leg).

Under patronizing non-examination by Marin and Warren, Cobb got away with a good deal that was unchallenged…including the stated reason that Burris lied because he has been out of public life for a few years and so doesn’t understand about 24-hour all-news cable: as if that’s a rationale for his failing to tell the impeachment committee he lobbied aggressively for the job and offered to raise money for Blago in an intended quid-pro-quo which didn’t work because Blago was too toxic.

Cobb zinged Dick Durbin (nothing wrong with that on general principles but for the one thing he probably shouldn’t be accused of) for “blindsiding” Burris—as if Burris hasn’t blindsided himself…which to Cobb meant Durbin telling the media that Burris should resign (a novel definition of “blind-siding”). Of course Cobb was un-contradicted specifically by Marin and Warren.

Take this down as gospel: Burris will not leave the Senate voluntarily. The only way he can leave is to be ejected by vote of the body as was Republican Billy Lorimer of Illinois in 1911—and the Senate is far too concerned about being called racist to do this. So Burris will stay and Burris will run for election. The duo that runs Democratic politics in the state, Mayor Daley and Speaker Madigan, are aiding the candidacy of Cheryl Jackson of the Urban League so that she can siphon off black votes from Burris. This possible train-wreck can bode well for Republicans if for no other reason than Illinoisans might be heartily sick of the Democratic party’s inability to govern. My candidate is Peter Roskam but I imagine he will not run since he is inured to being a lifer in the House (and is pleased with his membership on Ways and Means). I think it’s pretty clear that Mark Kirk will try it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Personal Aside: Cut the USCCB Off at the Pass (When the Basket is Passed at Mass for its Lavish Upkeep at Their Marble Palace).


As a general group…with a few notable exceptions…Catholic bishops are mostly pols and eminently forgettable. I remember watching them in solemn conclave a few years ago when they were trying to recapture respect after their lamentable weakness in ditching Anne Burke as Review Board chair because she called the turn on them.

EWTN was running the entire plenary session and swigging my obligatory scotch and soda (one only per day) I was watching when they got involved in theological semantics. Of course Bishop Wilton Gregory was presiding who was desperately concerned with his image…theology not being his thing…and the mitered class fell into minor disputes—the only ones making sense being (as could be predicted) the doughty bishops of Lincoln, Nebraska, Fabian Bruskewitz, Camden, N.J., John Myers and the fabulous auxiliary bishop of Chicago…civil lawyer, head of a poverty law center and long distance runner, Thomas Paprocki. Sitting there I said to myself: Hell, I know the answer they’re struggling for…from either Fr. Ernie’s Philosophy or Fr. Emeric Lawrence’s Theology.

They rambled on and on until the chair decided to call on the venerable Avery Cardinal Dulles for an exposition. Named a cardinal because of his erudition since he did not have an apostolic see, Dulles…advanced in years…hobbled to the microphone and gave concisely the same answer I had. Minor league question which Bruskewitz-Myers-Paprocki all knew and agreed on but which Dulles clarified. It was then I saw for the first time that these bishops…excepting the above three…are for the most part about as gifted as the people you could find jostling together on any El platform.

In fact if I had anything to do with communications at the largely irrelevant USCCB (United States Catholic Council of Bishops) I’d terminate the TV coverage: doesn’t do them any good. A better idea yet would be to end the legacy that Joe Bernardin left us in his Italianate climb to the top: the entire USCCB. It’s nothing more than a trade association and a very poor one at that. There they sit in a marble temple in Washington, D. C. playing UN Security Council, each festooned with a microphone. That’s where our contributory money goes: for little boys to play big shots.

Of course as our own archbishop is the head of it, they won’t close down their marble temple and unhook the individual microphones. For many, it makes them feel important. But they are not important…most of them. By the time most of them get to the bishopric they have learned to play the game and have had their backbones replaced by spaghetti, all the more to be dominated by the highly perfumed, wily old fraud who can parse his way around with the best of them and who has often escaped unwelcome media attention by the skin of his teeth, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, aka the Democratic National Committee’s personal agent in the hierarchy.

They won’t get rid of the marble palace or McCarrick either but one thing they can do for me…they can stop issuing these goofy press releases from USCCB HQ such as appeared in “The Sun-Times” the other day.

The story was headlined: BISHOPS’ GROUP PUSHES CHEAP DATES FOR COUPLES…and starts off: “The U. S. Conference of Bishops has pitched 10 ideas for cheap dates—including a pedicure for hubby or midnight bowling—to help; couples maintain wedded bliss in tough economic times.”

It continues: “`If money is tight, don’t worry. We’ve come up with 10 suggestions for romantic dates at little or no cost.” It includes seeing what you can do without electricity on a tech free night, when phones, computer, television and lights are turned off…Planning a picnic by spreading a blanket on the living room floor. “Romanticize the occasion by adding some wine, a rose and mood music.” Another is midnight bowling. Yet another is “Evening at the Ritz”—“dress up and go to the lobby of an elegant hotel. Sit in the lounge and order a drink or snack. People watch and fantasize.” Also: Home spa. “Create a home spa for the evening. Put on some soothing music, light some scented candles, give each other a massage. Give your husband a pedicure or paint your wife’s toenails, if you dare.”

I have two suggestions.

One: Let them paint their own toenails. Some already do I’m sure.

Two: Take a piece of paper and refigure your contributions to the bishops…preferably down to zero…marking the occasion by memorializing the weak-tea formulation they made at election time which can be construed as allowing support for Barack Obama…remembering their fund-raising which just so happens to give a million or two to ACORN.

That and deciding to cut them off entirely at the pass…the passing of the collection basket at the times when the USCCB is begging for its lavish upkeep. I mean it. You should continue to give generously to your parish and auxiliary charities (not Catholic Charities which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state) but to specific ones (I nominate The Port which deals effectively with the South Side poor).

Cut them off at the pass, I say and end the ridiculous suggestions from celibates on how married people can spend their time. And if there are no special pass-the-basket occasions, ask your pastor how much he is assessed for charades like this and formulate your own giving to him accordingly, deducting with precision.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Personal Aside: Bill Moyers PBS’s Secular Saint Was LBJ’s Dirty Little Sneak Who Probed Valenti’s Sexual Preference. But Who Knows As Media Keep His Secret.


During the 1964 presidential campaign, LBJ’s top assistant Walter Jenkins was found misbehaving with a male consort in the Men’s Room of the Mayflower. In those days, homosexuality for a political person was regarded as deviant…unlike today when it is publicly announced to great fanfare ala House Financial Institutions chairman Barney Frank whose current boyfriend is ensconced—conflict of interest and all-- with a big job in…no homophobic allusions, please…Fanny Mae.

I well remember the furor that ensued. Johnson, pathologically worried that he would lose to Barry Goldwater, ordered that all top staffers be examined by J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover even sent his inspectors…believe it or not…to key congressional offices including two contestants for the Democratic vice presidential nomination, Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy. Humphrey passed muster as a certifiable heterosexual as did his staff. McCarthy was also judged okay—but when the FBI guy approached one of McCarthy’s legislative aides…a guy I went to Saint John’s with, incidentally…he no sooner sat down, pulled out his yellow legal pad and uncapped his fountain pen…when the guy yelled excitedly: “You got me! I’m one!”

Had he shut up he would have submitted to the basic questions and the FBI guy would have left. I must say I always had my suspicions when on a very snowy day…rare for Washington…the guy showed up with a fractured wrist. He had parked his car on a hill near his apartment and when he approached it, somehow the thing started to roll down the hill toward him. He stood there and stuck out his wrist, of all things, and the car collided with it and snapped it! Which started us chortling that now it was certain that he had the limpest wrist in town. He grimaced wryly. Little did we suspect…oh well. But his blurted confession mandated that he leave his job…incredible because the FBI agent told us later he was bored with his assignment and he was giving everybody a pass anyhow.

LBJ was so consumed with fear that he ordered a probe of one of his closest friends, Jack Valenti. He called his ultra-loyal little Billy Moyers into his office and ordered Moyers to skulk behind Valenti’s back and get J. Edgar (who may or may not have had some problems himself: I am not entirely sure he did, though) to launch a thorough study of Valenti. He wanted Valenti to get far more stringent treatment than anyone else because Valenti was closer to Johnson than almost anyone else and the great God Jehovah Johnson certainly didn’t want a second close guy on his staff to be a ringer…else people would think Johnson HIMSELF was one God forbid.

So the obedient little rodent Moyers had J. Edgar investigate his and Johnson’s close friend. Actually it is extraordinarily problematic why Valenti would even come under perusal since he was an incorrigible ladies’ man but somehow Johnson had heard that he was too close to a male photographer.

Valenti proved to be okay but last week in a front-page story the Washington Post broke the story. Valenti who wound up as the very rich lobbyist for the motion picture industry is dead but believe it or not the guy who carried out his boss’ orders and got J. Edgar to probe Valenti unbeknownst to Valenti, Bill Moyers, happens to be highly regarded as the liberal conscience of the media…the man who has been all over the tube on taxpayer-paid and foundation-funded PBS. Moyers has been concerned for many years over intrusions of privacy. He just hates the idea of the U. S. defending itself by violating the rights of terrorists. He has growled over the machinations of Richard M. Nixon who had phones of his staff bugged.

This is the very same Bill Moyers who managed in concert with the Justice Department the intrusive bugging of Martin Luther King’s hotel rooms, receiving the transcripts of King’s scatological conversations with his white girl friend, having them duplicated and sent around the White House for the prurient pleasure of all.

The media, predictably, has gone very light on the story. I don’t remember it being in either Chicago daily newspaper. Certainly not used on PBS or public radio. And of course Moyers whose name has been on the records as signatory for these probes told the Post he cannot recall…cannot recall…his memory is unclear after so many years that he may have been simply re-checking the details Hoover gave LBJ.

Do you remember how the media howled with delight when a certain conservative Republican senator from Idaho got involved via a wide stance in the Men’s Room at the Twin City international airport? And now they hardly give this one a mention. Where is Brian Wilson of NBC…the ex-Carter intern…who used the Idaho senator yarn? Where is perky Katie Couric? See what I mean when I say liberal journalism is not just slurring those with whom it disagrees but remaining mum…see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil… when your side is embarrassed?

A cardinal sin as pronounced by one of our Illinois pundits is homophobia. Another is hypocrisy.

Not a peep out of this whitened sepulcher about Moyers. Off limits, you know. And now you know all the news, America.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Flashback: Fr. Emeric Lawrence OSB Begins Theology: 101 with a Question: Why Did God Create All This? And Out of What?


Continuation of excerpts from lessons taught at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, a Benedictine monastery 16 miles from Saint Cloud (population then: 20,0000) and one and a half miles from Highway 52 enclosed in a deep forest as per Benedictine trait of building universities-monasteries away from population centers. These notes are from Theology: 101, Sept. 23, 1946 with the professor, Fr. Emeric Lawrence, OSB. Fr. Emeric had just returned from Marine chaplain duty where as a lieutenant he was awarded a silver star by Gen. Holland (Howlin’ Mad) Smith for courage at Tarawa. He was also my French professor.

As students walked into the classroom, one of them—Bede Hall by name, a graying, 40ish ex-GI on the GI Bill—exclaimed, “Open the window! It smells like a French [scatological word for bordello] in here!” Then, noticing the sudden silence, he wheeled around to see standing behind him in all his austere Benedictine attire, immaculate roman collar and black clerical habit, the class’s professor, Fr. Emeric who said: “We assume, Mr. Hall, you are expert on such things. The class will be seated and we will start immediately.

I begin this class with a question which I will ask…let’s see…Cornelius Whalen (is he here? Where? Ah yes). Mr. Whalen…given that we know God is self-sufficient, why did He create us…the world…the universe? Stand up, Mr. Whalen. Incidentally let’s get one thing straight, gentlemen. We sit up straight in this class, not slumped and when called upon for recitation we stand up. Somewhere in this university, someone of my confreres, has tolerated slumping and recitation from your chairs. It is catching on though not with Fr. Ernest nor me. Not here. Not here.

While I am about it, I notice de rigeur the wearing of GI jackets signifying that most of you are just out of the military service…and I honor that. I am one with you and was released from service in July. I was a chaplain in the South Pacific during MacArthur’s island hopping and we chaplains hopped along with him…and I wore a military jacket as well. But gentlemen I saw that it was clean during my service. I had a colonel as commanding officer…a Lutheran minister may God reward him for his patience with me…who insisted we wore crisply clean GI jackets.

And looking at this room I see that few GI jackets are crisply clean…Mr. Gaylord is wearing one. Gentlemen, we have a saintly old man here…a brother, Room 323 in the main monastic building…named Brother John who works from 9 to 4:30 pm and who has been our tailor and cleaner here since the 1920s and for a pittance he will clean and iron your things—and if you do not have the money he will do it gratis—although two dollars is not is not a munificent sum. See that if you choose to wear your GI field jacket here, you visit Brother John beforehand.

Now I have kept you standing a long time, Mr. Whelan and I see you are shifting from one foot to another [laughter], so why did God create us given that He is entirely self-sufficient? What? Speak up Mr. Whalen. [He responds that God was lonely].

Sir, that is a very sophomoric and frivolous answer…that He wanted company. And you are not even a sophomore but a freshman. The idea that God created us out of a sense of need is incorrect. Mr. Brooks. He did what? Yes. Correct. In fact more than correct: it is theologically incisive. He created it out of LOVE. He created it because He know we would like it. He did NOT create it because He had need of it: He created it because He knew we could gain from it.

Gentlemen, it is the nature of goodness that it radiates outward and since God is Ultimate Goodness He wishes to enlarge His joy to us. Saint John the Evangelist says…here in your text…that “God so loved the world,”, meaning He loved things less than Himself…but here is a distinction: He did not initially make the world for US, He made it as Goodness always does, for His own pleasure—and, here is the distinction, that His pleasure was to bring into existence things that could take pleasure in existence. I repeat and I suspect it will be in your first examination…whereby I see that you are now properly writing…that God brought the world into existence for His own pleasure that the world and we ultimately could take pleasure in existence.

How different that is from the scientist’s version of existence—not contradictory as you will find from Professor Schoffman in the Science Hall. —but theologically. Professor Schoffman, speaking as a scientist, is prone to say from a purely scientific standpoint that science always starts the questioning with something already in existence and goes back to something that has already been created to find the answer. But that is exactly the point and why pure science is not entirely satisfactory. I ask why there is something here at all. Philosophers and theologians ask why ANYTHING exists. And the answer is that God exists because what He is demands existence. You get it, Mr. Roeser? What He is demands existence.

But this universe which He created does not demand existence. Why, then, does it exist? It exists because God created it for His own pleasure and so to expand the pleasure. He created it out of NOTHING. A carpenter creates a chair but to build it he must have wood. God created the universe out of nothing. Now when I say this, Mr…let’s see…Mr. Orville Hesch…stand up, Mr.Hesch, yes thank you. Mr. Hesch you do not have a GI jacket; you are too young to have served, apparently—but your sweater is, to put it mildly, Mr. Hesch is clearly in need of Brother John. Enough digression. Now think about this Mr. Hesch before you respond. When I say God made the universe out of nothing, is it the same, Mr. Hesch, as if I said God made the universe FROM nothing?

Ah, give Mr. Hesch time to think. [Hums to the class’s delight: dum-de-dum de –dum-de-dum-dah-de-e-e-dah, resembling one of the Top 40 on the Lucky Strike hit parade: “Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me.”].

Time’s up, Mr. Hesch. Again the question…now answer carefully: when I say God created the universe out of NOTHING is it the same as saying God created the universe FROM NOTHING? You respond what? Correct! Now [wheeling around to survey the whole class] be honest, how many of you would have answered as Mr. Hesch did? Honest. Mr. Hesch is only eighteen years old—most of you are in your twenties—and have had the matchless experience of being in the military as Cornelius Whalen and , I and many others have…and he responded correctly. Mr. Hesch before you sit down, please amplify. What is the distinction between the two? What? You say…? No, I’m sorry, Mr. Hesch eighteen years of life apparently has its limits [widespread laughter].

We go now to Mr. Bede Hall, grizzled veteran of the European theatre whose service in France gave him experience in comparing temperatures in classrooms to certain Bordels Mobiles de Campagne [laughter] and whose jacket evidently accompanied him from the Bordels to this class since evidently it has not been cleaned or pressed since then and which sorely needs the attentions of Brother John the Tailor. I ask you Mr. Hall what is the distinction between the two…that God created the universe out of nothing versus God created the universe FROM nothing? You say…what? The same? Not even close Mr. Hall, not even close—as radically different as the smell of Bodels Mobiles de Campagne from this room. When it is said erroneously that God made the universe FROM nothing it implies that he used material…nothing…from which to make the universe. But when I say God created the universe OUT OF NOTHING, it presages that God used no material whatever in the making of the universe. See Mr. Hesch?

Mr. Hesch nods his head. See Mr. Hall? Mr. Hall shakes his head. Mr. Hall as I am your prefect in the GI barracks I will share coffee with you tonight after the study hour begins to further delineate this for you. This is a magnificent difference, Mr. Hall and if we concentrate our minds on the difference we see the aweful…I use that word in its original sense a-w-e-f-u-l…majestic sense of concept of the goodness that is God. The answer is clear but a-w-e-f-u-l: God does not depend on things for His knowledge of things. Or as Augustine says in your reading [“De Genesi ad Litteram”] “He made things He knew; He did not get to know the things He had made.”

Conversely, if God abandoned anything He had made, it would simply cease to be. As Augustine adds: “Unless His continuing providence were present in the things He created and preserved them by the same power with which He created them, they would immediately lapse back…into nothingness.” Therefore we see the universe and all that is in it…ourselves included…as being held in existence from moment to moment by God’s continuing will to hold it—and us—there.

That, gentlemen, is the first great theological insight of this course. Failure to see the world this correct way has led man to make such mistakes as to make the angels weep.

Enough for now. More again sometime. When I last talked with him at dinner in 1962 at the Abbey, I was press secretary for the Minnesota governor and on sabbatical…to decide what I would do in the future—accept a private sector job in Minnesota or stay with politics after the election that defeated us that year (I chose politics). Then he expressed his discomfiture with Fr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB who was leading a so-called reformist-dissention cadre of intellectuals pursuing the “spirit of Vatican II.” Emeric said: “I do not see much in Godfrey’s so-called `spirit of Vatican II’ that matches the literal achievements of Vatican II and you can derive from that that I am gravely disturbed.” Later Godfrey was one of the very radical theologians who criticized “Humanae Vitae” so Emeric’s views proved out. Emeric has lain in the Abbey cemetery for only 10 years, having died in his mid-90s, celebrating Vatican II but not its so-called “spirit.”

Friday, February 20, 2009

Personal Asides...

Truth comes hard in Democrat-controlled Chicago. Last week it came dribbling out under extreme pressure when U. S. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) admitted—despite the version from his earlier sworn testimony—that he tried to raise money for Gov. Blagojevich who named him to his post. Blago’s brother hit him up for $10,000 but he couldn’t raise a nickel, Burris said, but he was appointed to the job anyhow. He’s the subject of a criminal investigation and also a U. S. Senate ethics committee probe.

Struggling with denial for weeks, Burris’ acknowledgment may get him indicted for perjury, censure by the Senate ethics committee, pressured for resignation or face the onus of being kicked out of the Senate by vote of his peers. Latest example: When asked by ace interrogator Jeff Berkowitz host of “Public Affairs” on cable, whether he considered it wrong to try to raise money for a governor who in return had the power to name him to the Senate, Burris replied: “I was never considered for the Senate.”

Everybody sitting near me drew a sharp intake of breath. Never considered for the Senate? Had Burris just suffered a stroke?

“I was never considered BY the Senate,” Burris corrected.

No meaning. Of course he wasn’t—at that time.

Burke, Burris and Bernardin.

He was introduced at the City Club by Alderman Edward Burke, the most powerful alderman who has spent a bloviating lifetime surveying his own greatness. Burke compared Burris to Joseph Cardinal Bernardin who noted that the cardinal (like Burris he hinted) was accused unfairly.

Unfairly? Here’s the story before it was converted into myth. A former seminarian from the Cincinnati archdiocese, Steven E. Cook, filed a $10 million lawsuit against Bernardin and a Cincinnati priest. The suit accused the priest of numerous coercive sexual acts against him in the mid-1970s and then delivering him to Bernardin, then archbishop of Cincinnati, for the same purposes. The suit was settled out of court with Cook declaring finally that he could not trust his memory. Contrary to liberal myth which Burke continued to perpetuate at the City Club yesterday, Cook never retracted his charges and never declared they were inaccurate. Four months after the suit was introduced, it was settled out of court and the terms are sealed.

According to the book “Amchurch Comes Out,” by Paul Likoudis, now news editor of “The Wanderer,” the nation’s oldest national Catholic weekly, Bernardin’s lawyers were involved in settling another case in which seminarians in Winona, Minn. accused him and three other bishops of sex abuse at which reportedly Cook was in attendance. Settlement stemming from the lawsuit has also been sealed. What is known is that his closest friend was Msgr. Frederick Hopwood, accused of abusing hundreds of boys dating back to the early `50s. And here from Likoudis’ book is an eye-opener: coming to the legal defense of Hopwood was the Chicago archdiocese’s powerhouse law firm, Mayer, Brown which negotiated cash settlements to Hopwood’s alleged victims.

Let us say it was fitting as the introducer of an unregenerate liar that Burke recycled the old Bernardin myth for hype.

Truth the Scarcest Commodity in Chicago.

Truth is the scarcest of all commodities in one party Chicago where Democratic control has exceeded by five years the life span of the old Soviet Union which it closely resembles in style. You look at the over-coated slab-faced men standing on the parapet reviewing the marchers at the St. Patrick’s Day parade and you say, “where’s so-and-so?” Not there. Demoted: reason not given. And like the commissars, Dem pols here rely on falsehoods and denial. Sort of like the erring husband who, confronted by his wife in flagrante delicto, pleaded with her: “Are you going to believe me or your own eyes?”

Denial a Chicago Dem Art Form.

Political lying and denial of the truth here began as an art form by Czech immigrant Dem Anton Cermak in 1931 who said he would bring reform to the city; instead he built lockstep obedience and struck a businesslike agreement with the Outfit which passed on appointment of police captains… past 1955 when county clerk Richard J. Daley ushered in mammoth vote fraud while shouting “there is no dishonest vote counting in Chicaga” [sic]…and continues to this day with his son, Richard M. masquerading as a dutiful Catholic and parishioner of Old St. Patrick’s (the mother church of the Irish Democratic party) while he supports pro-aborts, gay marriage and a taxpayer-paid museum celebrating sexual perversion techniques…also cutting deals with all variants of the left including Billy Ayres the terrorist for whom Daley got a job as “Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior Scholar” at the University of Illinois-Chicago in return for Ayres’ lefty friends support of the machine.

Denial has marked the Catholic pro-abort machine stalwarts who have risen above principle, including the second ranking machine leader with Daley, the Speaker, Michael Madigan (who technically votes pro-life in conformity with his southwest side constituency but who as legislative presider flagrantly aids the left), his daughter the outspoken pro-abort and pro-gay rights state attorney general, Lisa; the state comptroller, Dan Hynes (scion of his pro-abort father, former state senate president Tom), current state senate president Catholic pro-abort John Cullerton, the pro-abort African American president of the Cook county board Todd Stroger and their chunky, always perspiring little gopher-hustler, Catholic Dickie Durbin, the once pro-life downstate congressman, who after capitulating to the machine became the pro-abort second-ranking U.S. senator.

But every decade or so despite denial, truth escapes from the most disciplined political lips, squeezing through tightly clenched Dem machine teeth. Not long ago supine liberal reporters at a Daley news conference gasped on hearing him say city workers are lazy clock-watchers. He had just announced that he had unloaded four of the city’s most valuable assets for a $6 billion mountain of cash called “privatizing” where the unspoken credo is that the favored companies kick in lavishly to Daley campaign coffers.

But the media was stunned…stunned…at his words in defense of turning over key city services to private companies…figuring he was turning senile or having a stroke…when they heard him say this about city workers:

“They’re not customer-related. They’re gonna leave at 5 o’clock! They’re gonna leave at 4:30 or 4:00! I’m sorry: we’re on a time clock! The walk out! But in the private sector when you have a customer, you’re gonna stay there making sure they’re happy and satisfied. We can’t compete with the private sector. The private sector has a complete idea of who your customers are. Government doesn’t have any customers. They only have citizens!”

His truthful explosive spillover was caught on imperishable TV tape.

The knee-jerk liberal news cadre were shocked that Daley would speak so about the legions of patronage workers who, in addition to their municipal duties, work the precincts for the Dems in order to keep their city jobs, ensuring liberal victories. And so was the influential Chicago Federation of Labor president, Catholic Dem pro-abort Dennis Gannon who blasted the mayor. “Firemen were out at Holy Name at 3 a.m.” [which suffered a disastrous fire last week when de-icers on the roof burst into flame, resulting in an estimated $30 million repair bill]…When you had that huge water main break on the North Side, they didn’t care about the clock. They were there to do a job for the taxpayers.”

Then just like as in the old USSR when a commissar made a verbal boo-boo, Daley convened the media and in machine mumbo jumbo denied he said what the TV tape says he said. His blurting out the truth proves the theological dictum that there is a redemptive quality to all men—even Chicago Democratic politicians—who on rare occasions allow veracity to escape their lips through some conscience glitch in the brain.

Daley cleared it up by reverting to denial. He said:

“My words were taken out of context. I never said city employees were clock watchers. The media made it all up to manufacture a confrontation! I said that some people just watch the clock—government workers or anybody else—and leave. But here in Chicago, we’re fortunate that people just don’t watch the clock. I never said city workers of…Chicago are not good workers. Would you correct that for me?”

Then he reverted to self-pity as did his father 50 years ago when he exclaimed “My enemies are crucifying me! They’re even criticizing me!”

“I know it’s hard because I’m a ping-pong ball for the media. If you don’t have the Daley name, I guess they don’t read the newspapers. But just correct that…Don’t misinterpret what I say to bring confrontation against city workers. That’s really unfair! City workers work hard! I talked about the city in a positive way. But you’re [the media] trying to follow me in a negative way so you have people yelling at me! I know that’s your gig but be responsible!”

But the biggest example of Chicago Dem lying, evasion and denial was uncovered last week.

Burris Withholds Truth Under Oath.

Lie like a trooper if you wish, but when you prevaricate or withhold the truth under oath, that’s a horse of a different color as Bill Clinton will tell you. Withholding and fudging the truth is what Dem Roland Burris did last Jan. 8 when he appeared before the state legislature’s impeachment panel to testify as to his cleanliness, his fitness to be accepted as a U.S. Senator under appointment by the nation’s most corrupt governor, Dem Rod Blagojevich. Burris, a fidgety little man with elevator shoes bringing him up to 5 foot six, is an entirely forgettable bit player: but he has a uncontrollable ambition for high office.

Blago named Burris to the Senate for one reason only: to influence the federal jury pool later on in the year which is expected to be heavily black. A dissenting juror can save Blagojevich from jail—only one is required—and if the juror is black and is grateful to Blago for naming a black Senator, so be it.

Burris accepted the job and faced a skeptical legislative committee which figured the fix was in. No, said Burris squinting into the TV lenses. After all he was the first black Illinois state comptroller and attorney general. Everybody on the committee knew he has always been regarded as a hack despite his historical significance…that he lusts after honorifics and political jobs with such intensity that he makes everyone else look under-motivated…that he believes God has ordained him for greatness…that although in good health at age 71, he has built a huge tombstone in his family cemetery that calls himself “trail-blazer” and lists all his political posts.

The tombstone has enough space left for the engraver to chisel U. S. Senator from Illinois but it hasn’t happened yet. And may never be added. .

The Mess Burris is In.

This is the fix Burris is in. U. S. Senate Democrats required that Burris testify “fully and truthfully” to the House impeachment committee in Springfield before agreeing to seat him. But when he appeared before the committee, Burris withheld some key facts. On Jan. 8 State Rep. Jim Durkin, a pro-life Republican and co-chairman, asked Blagojevich’s appointment this question:

“At any time were you directly or indirectly aware of a quid pro quo with the Governor for the appointment of the vacant Senate seat?”

To which Burris answered: “No sir.”

Durkin followed up by asking if Burris talked to any members of the governor’s staff—and listed their names including Rob Blagojevich, the governor’s brother. Burris picked out one name Durkin listed and said he had talked to an ex-staffer about business Burris could pick up as a lobbyist during which time he told the ex-staffer “you’re close to the governor; let him know that I am certainly interested in the seat.” That was it.

Durkin then changed the subject. No follow-up questions were asked about other contacts. This would have been the time for Burris to mention he had had further contacts—but he stayed mum. He says now that because Durkin switched subjects, he—Burris—didn’t have time to mention other contacts. Hmmm. Sounds fishy to many. Later…after being sworn in as senator…Burris filed two affidavits with the committee correcting the record--one admitting he was called three times by the governor’s brother who each time asked for his fund-raising assistance (which Burris says he turned down) and had talks with three additional close associates of the governor and a labor leader with ties to Blagojevich about being appointed to the seat. Some suspect he filed the affidavits to square himself with the U. S, attorney who may have phone tape recordings of his discussions. “No-no-no!” Burris says.

Now Burris has changed his story a third time. To no one’s surprise for those who know him well, Burris admitted to the Tribune he lobbied intensively for the job.,,and when Blagojevich’s brother asked him to raise money for Blago, Burris tried… really tried… but because the governor was so unattractive he couldn’t raise a nickel. Now records show Burris strove repeatedly to get his name considered by Blagojevich.

Thus the fact that Burris didn’t pay to get his Senate job is not his fault. He couldn’t get anybody to pony up but he tried and Blago named him anyhow. But in essence, Blago had said the job was up for bid and Burris was eager to bid for it and to pay for it, cash on the barrelhead but couldn’t convince anybody to come to his fundraiser for the governor: a big difference from his original testimony. If he had told the committee this in January, he wouldn’t have passed muster.

The Mystery of the Hidden Affidavit.

Here’s another intriguing glitch. Burris’ clarifying affidavit was sent to the House majority leader, pro-abort Catholic Dem Barbara Flynn Currie. She is exceedingly close to Speaker Madigan and is known as a tireless administrator who sees her work through one prism: will it benefit the Democratic party? Yet, in this case (her story goes) she glanced at the front page of the affidavit and dropped it absently in a file as the legislature adjourned following Blago’s impeachment. And she didn’t tell her boss Madigan about it? Incredible to anyone knowing Currie and Madigan.

The reason she kept mum, some unkind Republicans reason, is that the stimulus package was up for a vote in the U.S. Senate where every pro-Obama vote was essential—and she didn’t want Burris shamed or disqualified before the vote.

Following the stimulus vote, the Sun-Times last week scooped everyone else by unearthing the affidavit.

GOP Demands Criminal Probe.

Immediately, Republicans demanded that the Sangamon county (Springfield, Ill.) states attorney study the possibility of a criminal indictment for perjury against Burris: he has agreed to do so. With outrageous chutzpa, the hatchet-faced Ms. Currie expressed pleasure that Burris was eventually “forthcoming.” True if by forthcoming you mean crossing one’s fingers and hoping an interrogator will skip detailed questioning.

Then when the news came out, In a series of emotional news conferences, Burris blustered and said criticism of him is all a Republican plot and all Durkin’s fault because he didn’t follow up with detailed questions that would have elicited the correct answer from Burris.

Now, state lawmakers will have to ponder what to do with him. They may reconvene the impeachment panel and grill him once again. Initially, cynical Chicagoans believed Burris’ salvation may hang on the fact that he is black—but toward the end of last week it became evident that he is losing even in that constituency. The city’s leading black columnist, Mary Mitchell of the Sun-Times,, who is forever zinging whitey, has great doubts about him. The city’s most notable guilt-ridden white liberal writer who wishes he were black so he could share the suffering,, Mark Brown, called Burris “a lying little sneak.” And the Tribune which although gutless and country club liberal even mustered up the editorial courage to demand: “Quit, Mr.Burris!”

With the exception of black talk radio, a radically chauvinist outlet, the expected avalanche of African American support for Burris has been lagging. The Dem party may well support a Burris primary challenger in 2010—State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a so-called “wonder boy”—who quite coincidentally was traveling to Greece with Sen. Durbin. That in itself is strange since youthful and energetic as he is, as a vice president of his family’s Chicago bank, several years ago Giannoulis approved a loan to Michael (Jaws) Giorango, who was twice convicted of bookmaking and promoting prostitution. Despite this Barack Obama endorsed him in 2006 (Giannoulis and his family raised gobs of money for Obama’s Senate run). But House Speaker Madigan, chairman of the state Democratic party and part of the ruling duo of the party with Daley, pointedly refused.

All Because Dems Didn’t Want an Election.

The Burris scandal was caused because Illinois Democrats feared a special election for senator would possibly go to a Republican so Blagojevich took advantage of the delay by making the appointment. By week’s end, leading Democrats here seemed agreed on pushing Burris off a cliff. How that would happen…by local indictment, release by the FBI of incriminating tapes, a statewide campaign of regurgitation against Burris or a rebuke by the Senate ethics committee leading to a vote of ejection…is anyone’s guess.

However, even if he were to be kicked out of the Senate, Burris couldn’t even cite this as an historic first for his tombstone. In 1909, a century ago, Republican William H. Lorimer, then the unsavory political boss of Chicago was elected to the Senate by the Illinois legislature as the constitution provided then. Two years later, a Democratic state legislator announced he had been paid a $1000 bribe to vote for Lorimore. Result: Lorimore’s election was ruled invalid by vote of 55 to 28 and he was ejected.

Odds are Burris will have his Senate service etched on his stone with no mention of the scandal…a fitting finis for a political career based on evasion and denial.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Personal Aside: City Club Appearance Shows Burris a Liar Once Again. And Barbara Flynn Currie Takes the Cake.


Burris’ Crooked Incompetence.

I’ve been a leader of the City Club since 1974 and I’ve never, ever seen a supposed top public official wallow in uncertainty, evasion and intellectual dishonesty as Roland Burris did yesterday. And that’s really saying something because I’ve known political hacks in two states and Washington, D. C. and have never seen one so pathetically star-crossed in self-duplicity. Even the City Club audience…always heavily Democratic and loyal…noticeably sagged in non-enthusiasm by the ineptitude of the performance.

He was introduced by Alderman Edward Burke with improbably super-charged praise. Why Burke decided to introduce him and identify with him is problematic. Burke doesn’t have to worry about a thing in politics, but still the florid and pompous introduction…pomposity being a trademark for Burke… did nothing for the finance chairman of the city council.

Then Burris started by reading a statement—and reading it badly…a statement that was obviously written for him. It answered nothing and contained no fresh facts. It called upon the audience to stand with him, not “rush to judgment.” Rush to judgment? After three different contradictory versions of his association with Rod Blagojevich, Burris is about as believable as Drew Peterson. With all the serious glitches that have occurred…the assuming of the case by the Sangamon county prosecutor…the consideration of his case by the Senate Ethics committee…the sober reexamination of his case by Sen. Richard Durbin…all we got is this: “You know the real Roland. I’ve done nothing wrong and I have nothing to hide.”

You could have fooled me. He said, astoundingly, that his changeable sworn testimony before the Illinois impeachment panel is as explainable as “one, two, three.” Really? He maintained the affidavits don’t contradict each other. He reminded me of the husband caught by his wife in flagrante delicto who says, “do you believe me or your own eyes?” Then at the City Club he responded to Jeff Berkowtiz’s question by saying—incredulously:

“No, I did not have conversations about my appointment—I’m talking about actually being appointed—with anyone other the governor’s attorney.”

There was the sound of escaping breath in the solidly Democratic group of rousing partisans as he said it. Of course he had conversations before his appointment: he hustled for himself countless times; he talked to Rob Blagojevich about his ambitions. He was hit by Blago’s brother for a $10,000 contribution. He tried to raise money for Blago but couldn’t because no one would touch him. Now he says his only conversation was with the governor’s attorney? And he expects us to believe that after the manifold corrections and restatements that have come out?

Fred Lebed, his former lobbying partner, with whom I sat attempted to make Roland look good but made him look worse. He said not just to me but to the media later that Burris talked to him for “maybe 30 seconds” about whether he should fund-raise for Blago. “I said `no way!’” said Lebed. You mean the former attorney general of the state, former comptroller actually asked his partner whether he should raise money for the governor at the same time Burris wanted the senatorial appointment heedless of the leprous ethical problems Blago was involved in?

As long as Burris draws breath, he will run for office…and make no mistake, he will do it in 2010 because that’s what is does in life. He will do it unless he is kicked out of the Senate (and maybe even then). The last Illinois senator to be ejected was Republican Billy Lorimer, the GOP boss of Chicago, in 191l, after a Democratic state lawmaker said he was paid a $1,000 bribe to vote for him (in those days, under the Constitution, state legislatures elected U.S. Senators). To be sure, Lorimer ran for other offices following the ejection but was never elected. Burris will do the same. The funny thing is that Durbin and the Democrats seem to be hailing the state treasurer, Alexi Giannoulias as the golden boy. But wasn’t it only a few years ago that Giannoulias as an officer of his family’s bank approved a loan to a mob figure…and the state Democratic chairman, Mike Madigan by name, refused to endorse him? And this is the guy the Dems want to run to replace Burris?

I’m struck by the seeming lack of black support for Burris. Oh, I don’t mean black talk radio which is blatantly chauvinistic i.e. the dumbest black is preferable to the brightest white. I mean the lack of support from African American leaders. I had thought that the groundswell that forced Harry Reid to accept him would repeat: evidently not so.

Currie’s Ingenious Duplicity.

Understandable as Roland Burris is…a pathetic little man with a W. Clement Stone mustache, puffed with unjustifiable pride—a psychological anomaly with mediocre abilities that never matched his ego…wearing elevator shoes to reach 5 feet six…the case of Barbara Flynn Currie is more fascinating. Here is an acknowledged brilliant woman, “summa cum laude,” with a master’s degree in political science who has been in the state House since 1974…the second ranking member of the Democratic House…as close to Mike Madigan as is possible to get without sleeping with him—a loyal top assistant. Superb administrative skills; astute; brilliant. And she receives an affidavit from Burris after his testimony to the House impeachment panel which she runs…and she pops it into a drawer and doesn’t read it? Evidently doesn’t share it with Madigan. And it has to come out through a leak to the “Sun-Times”?

And her oleaginous explanatory statement: “Any suggestion that I engaged in a deliberate cover-up, that I purposely delayed distribution of the information is totally false. Any suggestion that I should do a better job of reading my mail I a timely fashion is a suggestion I enthusiastically—and more than a little ruefully—embrace.”

Hahaha. As if we’re so dumb we can’t figure out the real reason she stuffed it in her drawer after showing it to Madigan. They wanted Burris to be able to vote on the stimulus package and didn’t want his troubles to impact of Obama’s haste to pass the stimulus package.

I’ll tell you: these Illinois machine Democrats are so intellectually crooked they can’t lay straight in bed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Personal Aside: The “Trib” Publishes Doug Kmiec’s Views on the Economy, God Help Us.


If Benedict Arnold were alive today and wrote an Op Ed to the “Tribune” on military preparations…even though he had been a traitor to his country…as a former general, hero of the Battle of Saratoga and strategist responsible for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga before he stabbed his country in the back, his views might well warrant publication--if for no other reason than despicable as he is, his column could convey challenging opinion on a subject with which he is expert.

In fact if Arnold were even to write his memoir as a betrayer of his country…even then…his insight would be of historic interest although one would be advised not to eat heavily before reading for fear of regurgitation. But, needless to say, if Arnold were to write his opinion of dentistry, no editor should care nor publish him. All this is to cite a truth that an editorial page editor should be wary of a writer who is not known for expertise. Were a plumber to submit a column on the War of the Roses an editor would be understood not to publish it. If Al Gore were to write an article on Aquinas’ Question 1, “The Nature and Extent of Sacred Doctrine,” the editorial page editor would have license to laugh it off.

Why then, in the name of God, would the “Tribune” publish Douglas Kmiec, once a distinguished lawyer, now a professor of law at Pepperdine, once foremost for support of pro-life and conservative social policies…now known for betraying his church’s foremost moral principle for an anticipated political reward to come so he can give the finger to his church…why would the self-same paper publish his views on the supply side economics and the Laffer curve? Probably because the commentary editor believes it would help Kmiec to win a broadened following: that and nothing else. That and the zest it gives her to contemplate the death of the GOP with which Kmiec titles his piece.

This appears to be the reason why the “Tribune” has done it—to rub Catholic noses in the excrement that Kmiec discharges…and to give him credibility on a subject about which he knows nothing (believe it: I have known Kmiec for many years).

The pro-abort “Tribune” was one of the earliest to publish Kmiec when he speciously suggested that…only a few Supreme court justices away from trimming down “Roe v. Wade”…the need for Catholics to support a pro-life president is foolhardy. His view was valuable then as evidence of an intellectual and spiritual traitor—helpful to understand the perfidy extant in the human condition. But Kmiec on the economy? Only Marcia Lythcott, the editor of its Commentary page…and the woman who chooses Garrison Keillor and who chose Kmiec to be published…can tell us. That she is superbly equipped for this duty can be seen because she is militantly pro-abortion so she is titillated by the sic-ing of Kmiec on Catholic readers—without ever countering anti-Catholicism…since to her defense of the church is of little consequence…and, hell, it’s a good bit of fun to serve up a Catholic traitor’s views on the economy, even if he knows nothing about the subject: kind of makes you feel warm inside.

It’s satisfying to Ms. Lythcott who stirs the mélange to stick it to social conservatives from all angles. She was, after all, a cookbook editor for the paper which propelled her…as well as her black activism…to the catbird seat where she decides what concoctions readers will have to face in the morning.

In raw political terms…something I know a good deal about…a candidate always fails when he loses his base. Ms. Lythcott doesn’t know much about the historic base of the “Tribune”…and is willfully ignorant of it… so she gives us a dash here of rampant libertarianism, a dollop there of lefty rationale elsewhere: a sprinkling of Keillor’s world-weary nihilism: anything but traditional thinking. Bruce Dold doesn’t know or care: he, after all, he didn’t have a vote on the paper’s endorsement of Barack Obama but the decision matters little to him. That the paper approved him who voted against babies born from botched abortions to be assisted to continue their lives is of little consequence to Dold. Joyfully he went forth to explain it on “Chicago Tonight.” All in a day’s work.

It is fitting that the Benedict Arnold to Catholicism be given a commanding appearance in the “Tribune” which itself shrinks from formulating a coherent philosophy except political correctness and endorsement of abortion. Were Kmiec extolling Jews for Jesus he would get no forum; or a critic of the Muslim faith. Well, bon voyage Ms. Lythcott, you and your enabler Mr. Dold. I give you a lot less credence than I do the “Sun-Times” now sans Michael Cooke. All in all, big newspapers crashing around us is not all bad: the steady diet of liberal editorial glop in “major” newspapers signify that they have it coming…to be succeeded by more authentic American opinion in the diverse media. Anyhow, when the Lucifer lookalike goes roaring off on his motorcycle having busted the joint, it will be a joy to see Ms. Lythcott return to the cookbook business and Dold sitting in the Edelman waiting room waiting for his interview.

Doug Kmiec on the economy indeed. What next, Ms. Lythcott: Doug Kmiec on how the Moroccans defeated the Songhai empire in 1591? Tell him to write it up: it’ll give him some depth.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Personal Aside: Burris Should Resign but He Won’t…They Kicked Burke Upstairs but He Won’t Shut Up! Former St. Louis Archbishop Needles U. S. Bishops.


Burris Won’t.

Watching the nervous, perspiring Roland Burris gesticulate before news conferences convinces me that he should resign…but he won’t. Gov. Pat Quinn should urge Burris to quit…but he won’t. Reason: the monolithic black voting bloc which pulls enormous weight in the party would not stand for it. If Quinn said that, the Reverend Jesse Jetstream would be on stage in a minute shouting rhyming couplets…and the blond white, wanna-be black priest Michael Pfleger would be there as well.

Who should run on the Republican side for the Senate in 2010? Should be Peter Roskam.

Burke Won’t Shut Up.

Just as a legion of U.S. presidents have been bedeviled by the inflexible federal bureaucracy whose bottom line is to endure and persist, Popes have often seen their wishes altered by the in-place curia…an institutionally impervious cushion of undesirable fat which all too often smothers pontiffs’ intent. No sooner was Saint Louis’ Archbishop Raymond Burke making great headway in his archdiocese and building an enviable record in behalf of authentic Catholic leadership than voila he was “promoted” to the Vatican. The Roman p. r. factory made it sound like he was installed at the right hand of Benedict with something known as the prefecture of the Apostolic Signatura—which few had heard of—but it turns out to be a glorified marriage court…the only advantage being that in good time the occupant gets a red hat.

It is a measure of the alacrity and fastidiousness with which the Curia handles its duties that thus far there has not been a successor to Burke in Saint Louis. Odds are that the delay is to let the vigor and refreshing candor of Burke be forgotten until the successor…a parsing, on-one-hand-then-the-other…is named. If they name a gutsy one, scratch the foregoing: but don’t count on it.

But from his berth in Rome, it is to his credit that Burke won’t shut up. Not long ago he put out an interview with that singled out a document issued by the U.S. Catholic bishops…and you know who heads that magnificent assembly…which Burke says is responsible for misleading 54% of Catholics who voted for the “most pro-abortion president” in U. S. history. The jibe by Burke is right so far as it goes but since relatively few Catholics go to Sunday Mass…directly attributable to the lethargy of the bishops and insouciant priests…whether a dull, parsing document is responsible is problematic. But there is no doubt that the document reflects the heavily perfumed hand of the most politically liberal of the bishops, a friend of the Kennedys, one who willfully withheld the gist of Ratzinger’s letter on pro-life, withheld it in order to protect his Democratic buddies: Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, retired of Washington, D. C.

It doesn’t matter that McCarrick is retired. With the unutterable weakness of the bishops’ organization he’s a lively liberal Democratic mole who has a lot to say and who deftly shaped the document while the leadership was fastidiously pursing its lips and talking like doctoral candidates. You have to hand it to McCarrick who is an old-line lefty ideologue and who totally outclasses and outmaneuvered the bishops’ leadership. In watering down the draft, he worked with the bishops’ number two—Bishop Gerald Kicanas. Kicanas, of Chicago, an ex-Quigley and Mundelein administrator, is noted for saying to the “Sun-Times” that he was more worried about Dan McCormack’s excessive drinking than his fooling around with boys…adding that if he had to do it all over he’d still ordain McCormack who is serving time in prison for child abuse. Everyone associated with the McCormack scandal in the Chicago archdiocese was been promoted in Chicago…Kicanas moving up to auxiliary bishop, then to Tucson, then to number two in the hierarchy of U. S. bishops.

As someone noted for the use of balanced, nicey-nice ecclesial language reflective of his two Ph.Ds once said “it makes you want to weep.”

What did the straight-talking Burke say about the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” that was distributed during the 2008 election? He cited the fact that the piece said that under certain circumstances a Catholic could in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports abortion because of “other grave reasons,” so long as they did not intend to support that pro-abortion position. This is exactly the rationale that the Kennedys…Bobby and Teddy…employed when they paid off two hireling theologians to rationalize how to square Hyannisport with the social left as outlined in “The Faithful Departed” written by Philip Lawler.

The bishops’ document “led to confusion” among Catholics, said Burke. “While it stated that the issue of life was the first and most important issue, it went on in some specific areas to say `but there are other issues’ that are of comparable importance without making distinctions,” he said. He cited an article by a priest and ethics expert of the Saint Louis archdiocese, Msgr. Kevin McMahon, who analyzed how the bishops’ document actually contributed to the election of Obama terming its proposal “a kind of false thinking that says “there’s the evil in the taking an innocent and defenseless human life but there are other evils and they’re worthy of equal consideration.”’”

Burke continued, “But they’re not. The economic situation or opposition to the war in Iraq or whatever it may be, those things don’t rise to the same level as something that is always and everywhere evil, namely the killing of innocent and defenseless human life.”

Sitting in his high-domed office at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at liberal, secular Georgetown University where he is a counselor, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick is right at home among the Georgetown intelligentsia.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Personal Asides: Milwaukee Prelate to be Named Archbishop of New York (Perhaps Tuesday)…Roland Burris is in a Heap of Trouble...A Fresh Look at the “Sun-Times” Sans Michael Cooke.

Dolan for Egan.

If my sources are right, the archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan, will be named archbishop of New York on Tuesday succeeding Edward Cardinal Egan. The significance of this is the clout Saint Louis, Missouri has in ecclesial appointments, as result of the closeness to Rome of Justin Cardinal Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia (and former archbishop of Saint Louis). A look at recent bishopric appointments shows that clout Rigali has. Archbishop Egan was auxiliary bishop of Saint Louis under Rigali.

There seems to be a tradition that holds Irishmen should be appointed as prelate of New York. Take a look at the history: R. Luke Concanen (1808), John Connally (1814) John Joseph Hughes (1842), John Cardinal McCloskey (1864), Michael Augustine Corrigan (1885), John Cardinal Farley (1902), Patrick Cardinal Hayes (1919), Terence Cardinal Cooke (1968), John Cardinal O’Connor (1984), Edward Cardinal Egan (2000). The only non-Irish were John Dubois (1826) and Francis Cardinal Spellman (1939).

You’re in a Heap ‘o Trouble, Son.

If Roland Burris were white, he’d be walking the plank in the U.S. Senate now—because it is evident he lied under oath while testifying to the state House impeachment panel by withholding the fact that he was called three times by Robert Blagojevich, the ex-governor’s brother, about being appointed to the Senate and had three additional close associates of the governor and a labor leader with ties to Blagojevich about being appointed to the Senate.

But being that he’s black, it is clear that Burris’ removal would spark a racial confrontation which the Democrats probably want to avoid…the same racial confrontation that occurred when Sen. Harry Reid tried to keep him from the Senate and Burris stood outside in the rain with an umbrella surrounded by black ministers. The onus of racial persecution caused Sen. Diane Feinstein to importune Reid to allow Burris to enter the Senate. But the disclosure that Burris allowed himself to be misrepresented is a blockbuster. Democrats are spooked by charges of racism since blacks are the biggest bloc of votes they have—unquestioning, lock-step…voting for each and every Democrat mindlessly, regardless of qualifications.

In prior testimony to the state lawmakers, Burris acknowledged only having spoken to one friend. He is seen on TV tape denying he had more contacts. He now says he didn’t have the opportunity to answer fully…which is baloney when you see the tape. All he had to do was add to his remarks. Burris wanted to go to the Senate so bad…a pathological need for recognition…he placed himself in grave danger. Now he’s wiggling like a fish on a hook, flipping this way and that. He has mustered some friends to own up for him. One is Rep. Danny Davis the organ-voiced, basso baritone who uses his mellifluous tones to obscure…as when he said last night that he never heard of Roland Burris doing anything wrong. With his rich tones, reminiscent of someone tuning up to sing Old Man River, Davis is confident…probably too confident…he can distract Burris’ critics from the hot trail.

Initially, Burris said, he was asked to raise money for Blago and refused. But there was far more to the story than he let on. So he submitted an amplifying affidavit following his joining the Senate, submitted it a full 10 days ago. State House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a hatchet-faced Democratic partisan, sat on the affidavit and kept it from the Republicans on the impeachment panel. Whether she thought it would never come to light or was just paralyzed with doubt no one knows. It proves one more time that chicanery and deception are tools in the Democratic arsenal.

The Democrats are really in a tougher spot with Burris than they ever have been before. Two Republican state reps recommended that the Democratic-controlled and now dormant impeachment panel call on the Sangamon county states attorney to consider criminal prosecution against Burris. If the states attorney does this, Burris’ value to the Democratic majority is tainted and he might have to temporarily step down to await a trial. If as is expected the states attorney doesn’t prosecute, it seems even worse for the Democrats. Burris will be serving under a heavy cloud and his election in 2010 will be problematic at best. His fishy story about not having had time to fully divest himself will lead to a primary challenge.

On the Republican side it appears the logical candidate to run for the Senate is Rep. Mark Kirk of the North Shore. Because he is a very strong pro-abort, he is just about sure to be shorn of any social conservative base in the GOP. He’s newly separated from his wife and is reported to be exhausted from a full year’s campaign for reelection against a very tough opponent in a district that is quite liberal. From the standpoint of the party’s base, Rep. Peter Roskam of the 6th district would be preferable but he is reported to be satisfied with the House since he just gained a seat on the House Ways and Means committee. GOP fortunes…as a party…would be better with Roskam running since were he to lose it is pretty likely a Republican could win his seat. Not so Kirk. There will probably never be another Republican elected in his district because the ideological content is so liberal.

Picture’s Brighter for the Sun-Times Sans Cooke.

The decision of “Sun-Times” editor Michael Cooke to go to Toronto to be with his great and good friend John Cruickshank of the Toronto
”Star,” is indeed good news for the struggling Chicago tabloid. In fact, the paper just emerged with a terrific scoop…beating the “Tribune” all hollow…the story of Roland Burris’ withholding of vital information from the state House impeachment panel.
Content-wise, apart from some flaky columnists, the “Sun-Times” has every claim to the status of Chicago’s major newspaper. Pound for pound it is far more impressive than the “Trib” which has only John Kass who tops everybody. But Kass is only one guy. The “Sun-Times’” front pages have been…while garish…at least newsy and not like the girly “New York Post” which Cooke was obviously aiming for. Reporters like Fran Spielman who covers city hall, Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney who broke the splendiferous Burris story are unexcelled. Columnist Michael Sneed has enviable connections to the Feds and regularly scoops the “Tribune” on prosecutorial news. Andrew Hermann regularly scores on his urban beat. Jack Higgins the cartoonist has won the Pulitzer prize and stands in glaring contrast to the “Trib” which is so insecure in its philosophic moorings it cannot hire a cartoonist for fear it would alienate somebody higher up: pathetic. Dave Roeder is a first-rate business reporter.
The only vacuous side lies in its dull as dross Mark Brown and its snotty, brash wise-guy with a curled lip against Catholics, Neil Steinberg. Even Carol Marin is getting better as a political columnist…although Richard Roeper will never get better but evidently is rated as a TV celebrity. He has the depth of a pie-tin. Mary Mitchell is a special racial pleader because Cooke had a dream that he could get black readers by being chauvinist: never happened. Cathleen Falsani is a flower child who never grew up masquerading as a religion columnist…a favorite of Cooke’s… but the paper’s regular religion writer, Mike Thomas is an adult.

In fact I’m rather excited about the “Sun-Times” sans Cooke. The “Tribune” seems to me to be less and less competitive. For one thing it still sticks with the old “New York Times”-wanna be with the front section dealing only with national and international while the city is burning up with local news. Yesterday the Burris story was buried and written as if the writer was somnolent. The awkward and confounding decision to put the editorials behind the obits on the second section shows that the paper has no feel for issues or ideas. The editorials themselves are spotty. With the exception of the Cook county material which is good, the only solid contributor is not a full-time “Trib” staffer at all, but Dennis Byrne who is outstanding. The rest is fill…the inevitable Garrison Keillor who writes boilerplate liberalism. Very undistinguished hash. John Kass is the only star but make no mistake he is a super-star…far outdistancing anyone else on either paper. The “Sun-Times’” editorials on pretty weak on local issues…more of a slap-dash version in contrast to the better stuff in the “Trib” when the county board and Daley are considered.

But overall, the “Sun-Times” sans Cooke has the stuff to succeed and overcome the anemic “Tribune” which, without Kass, is zero, zilch.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Personal Aside: From Selective Leaks—the Judd Gregg Story.


New Hampshire’s Steady Leftward Drift.

Sifting through my contacts…Senate staffers, old—and I mean OLD--Commerce hands and business lobbyists from New Hampshire, this is the story I’ve pieced together about Judd Gregg’s abortive stint as potential secretary of commerce:

At 62, having been governor, U. S. congressman and Senator, Judd Gregg is beginning to see the handwriting on the wall—that New Hampshire is becoming a Democratic state—and he has no desire to lose his first election next year (others say he is too pessimistic but he’s a laconic, thoughtful New Englander with no particular charisma). In the old days a New Hampshire Republican with distinguished lineage could be expected to serve until they carried him out of the Senate on a stretcher. That normally would go to Gregg (superb education: a governor’s son, Philips Exeter and Columbia university undergrad and Boston University law school. At 31 he was elected to the New Hampshire executive council—the only such body in the country--where a handful of elected trustees serve as a legislature… which dates from colonial times, engaged in approving expenditures and confirming state appointments.

Gregg distinguished himself as a Reagan Republican on the Council and as such ran for the U.S. House in 1980 the same year Reagan ran for president and was elected handily. He is almost identical to Reagan on issues…fiscal and social…but without the charisma. In 1988 he ran for governor of New Hampshire and was elected to two terms…New Hampshire being only one of two states to retain the 2-year term tied to a two-term limit. Things worked out smoothly so that by the time his second term ended in 1992, Warren Rudman was ready to retire as a Republican (well—a squishy liberal Republican) senator. Gregg was ready to succeed him, normally a slam dunk by old New Hampshire standards…but good old Rudman, a pro-abort and liberal (who had given us his great and good friend David Souter by fooling John Sununu that Souter was a conservative) had other plans. Rudman found a primary opponent for Gregg…a pro-abort like himself, a retired businessman named John Rauh who attacked Gregg strenuously for being pro-life.

Like Vermont, New Hampshire has been filling up with refugees from New York city. Gregg took the campaign easily, expecting to coast into the nomination but he very nearly lost it…beating Rauh by only three points (48% to 45%). To his great credit, Gregg’s service in the Senate has not been shaped by his fears of not getting reelected. He has been a taciturn policy wonk and is regarded as one of the superb fiscal experts in that body…and has been a bear-cat on spending. He had no primary opposition in 1998 and won the general by a landslide. But the conservative base was steadily being eaten away by New York city immigrants…and to his astonishment, in 2000, Gregg’s once highly vaunted political organization could not deliver for George W. Bush (the way Hugh Gregg’s team had done for Bush’s father).

Liberal Republicans (aided by snake-in-the-grass Rudman) set up some traps for Gregg in his next reelection drive. Rudman found one Tom Alciere, a former state rep, to run against him in the primary but Alciere was found to have posted messages on the Internet supporting the killing of a police officer (good candidate selection, Rudman!) and Gregg was re-nominated. For the general election, Rudman had found another winner—a former state senator Ben Cohen who wanted an income tax. The fact that Cohen was willing to campaign on an income tax stunned Gregg who noticed that the electorate of New Hampshire was not all that turned off with higher spending (because Rudman among others, preaching balanced budgets, didn’t care about cutting so an income tax was sold as “responsible.”).

No one knows whether Rudman’s pal Cohen would have beat Gregg or not—because shortly before election, Cohen’s campaign manager disappeared with much of his treasury and Cohen stepped down. Desperate for a nominee, New Hampshire Democrats nominated…believe this or not…a 94-year-old woman, Doris (Granny) Haddock, a former leftwing activist ala Molly Yard who had walked across the U.S. in support of “campaign reform.” (Note: when she got to Illinois she was warmly greeted by our old Pat Quinn who thought it was worth a publicity shot or two to be photographed with her: it didn’t take).

Gregg beat Granny 66% to 34% in 2004. But in 2008 his colleague and close friend, Sen. John Sununu was defeated by former governor Jean Shaheen. The fact that Shaheen was not even a moderate but a raving left-winger, former national chairman of John Kerry for president, seemed to decide Gregg that he couldn’t win reelection in 2010. He seemed to undergo a period of torment where his soul was concerned. One, he decided he would not undergo a sudden liberal conversion in order to save his seat. But two, he thought he is ideally suited…with his strength on finance and taxes…to wind up his days as a CEO somewhere.

One really doesn’t lobby for private sector jobs from the U. S. Senate. Gregg had hoped that John McCain would have made the cut to the presidency and that he could be appointed secretary of commerce—a superb berth from which to go dialing for dollars and a high private sector position. But as we all know, Barack Obama got elected.

Iago aka Emanuel Whispers in His Ear.

With the Senate nearing the tipping point…60 votes…to quash a filibuster, Rahm Emanuel heard via the underground that Gregg would probably not run for reelection in 2010. Emanuel used some emissaries to feel out Gregg including Ray LaHood, the veteran Republican congressman who had agreed to serve as Obama’s secretary of transportation. LaHood returned to Emanuel and said that Gregg was interested in listening and had suggested Commerce might be attractive. Thus the negotiations started. Emanuel brought Gregg together with Obama and it seemed the deal was cut—but surprisingly, Obama didn’t put conditions on the appointment, such as how Gregg would vote on the stimulus package (well, in partial explanation, the stimulus package was not fully shaped up when the two met the first time).

Gregg is nobody’s fool and, of course, understood that Emanuel and Obama weren’t interested in anything more than moving the needle up to 60 Democrats. So Gregg said there would be no deal unless the governor of New Hampshire, Democrat John Lynch, would appoint a Republican to succeed him. Lynch came up with the perfect solution. Lynch should appoint Connie Newman, Gregg’s very-very liberal ex-chief of staff who while retaining her Republican affiliation had campaigned for Lynch. Newman would make Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe look like stick-in-the-mud conservatives. By all odds she would either not run for election in 2010 or be defeated since she had alienated the conservative base.

The deal was okay with Gregg since for reasons known only to himself, he liked Newman. So with the slippery Iago, Emanuel, cheering them on everything was set. But shortly before the deal was announced, Emanuel discovered that the House Black Caucus which didn’t know about the Gregg appointment was very much interested in seeing that the census was skewed to guesswork and polling so appropriations, geared to census numbers, could be hiked for urban areas…and beyond that, higher census figures in the cities through inaccurate polling, would swell numbers and create more congressional districts for Democrats.

The Caucus, vital to Obama’s White House, had gone through several periods of exultation and keen disappointment on Commerce. They were ecstatic when it was announced that Chicago’s Penny Pritzker would be named—then crushed when she rejected the job. Delighted when Richardson was named—then sent to the doldrums when he was rejected.

When the announcement of Gregg came, the Caucus which felt it had not been sufficiently consulted, was outraged. Emanuel went to talk to the Caucus shortly after the news of the appointment and the Caucus wanted to commit drastic surgery on him. For one thing, the Caucus said Gregg had even sought to eliminate Commerce from the budget and could not be trusted to play games with Census since he was…and is…a hard rock conservative.

Then Rahm Emanuel the used-car dealer came to the fore. He told the blacks that they shouldn’t worry…that Census would report to him—but…true Emanuel whose scale of bargaining approaches but does not match Maxwell street…he told them to be quiet about it, that the deal would be cut—to Gregg’s surprise—after Gregg would be confirmed. This caused great suspicion in the Caucus (rightfully so since some members had been burned earlier by Emanuel)…so one of the members of the Caucus leaked the information.

The roof fell in. Gregg who had planned to recuse himself on the stimulus package voted against it (although Obama and Emanuel had no kick coming since they didn’t ask him to recuse)…and following that, Gregg decided he had escaped being victimized and made a fool of by Emanuel. So he called Obama…bypassing Emanuel…and said the deal is off. Gregg’s wife told him she was glad anyhow because she couldn’t fathom him being an economic player for an administration that far off center in spending and taxes.

And that’s the name of THAT tune.