Friday, April 3, 2009

Personal Asides: 3 More Thoughts While Shaving.


1. Blago Indictment.

I hate to say “so what?”…but the indictment the media call “sweeping” has long been expected. Possibly the only real surprise is that the charges involve alleged wrongdoing Blago did even before he was inaugurated as governor. I think there’s still more to come including a separate indictment of Patti Blagojevich. The tissue of corruption may well extend to include some directors of state agencies.

One thing: Don’t dismiss the possibility that Blago may taint the jury pool so as to produce that one juror unwilling to convict. If that happens, the political fallout will be worse than if Blago gets convicted. There will be a wholesale run of recriminations in this state that will ruin the Democratic party in the short run. That’s just a thought to keep in mind. Blago is nuts but like a fox. He has been working on being the underdog for quite some time now. If he walks—watch out. Now to the Republican party.

As low an estate as the state Republican party is today, I think if its leaders can get together on the right candidate and spare the money waste in a fruitless primary, the party’s chances would be immeasurably enhanced. To my way of thinking, this would warrant a candidate of independent financial means who would not have to grovel in the sewer for contributions—a candidate who would be supported by donors of substantial financial means. This idea that it’s a poor man’s game is populist bunk. Unless the poor man is already a statewide figure who is extraordinarily well known…one who can attract funding from his own reputation…realism dictates that the candidate should be honest and wealthy, able to turn aside many unhealthy contributions because he has access to better resources.

Illinois is one state where despite the populist romanticism, a poor man will either be starved of funding or be forced to collect the contributions that will be tainted. It’s as simple as that.

2. The Ever Tiresome Judy-Judy-Judy.

It’s no surprise that Judy Baar Topinka is surfacing…from popping up in gossip columns mourning the death of her dog to catching a well-timed cameo appearance on Channel 7 at 6 p.m. in connection with the Blago indictment…to occasionally going to my church, Saint John Cantius at 11 a.m. Sundays on occasion and pro-abort, pro-gay rights or not, taking communion—which disturbs me not a little.

Once deemed “irrepressible” by her flack, she is an exceedingly old face now and eminently repressible. Just as when she ran for governor, she is idea-free aside of clichéd statements about how bad pay-to-play is.

More than anybody else, she should have been able to draw upon years of service as state treasurer to craft an alternative to Blago but that’s not her style. She’s as deep as a pie-tin. But conservatives should not fear she’ll run again for governor. Unless lightning strikes, she is aiming for a return to state treasurer. I don’t think she can do any harm there as a senior dowager pro-abort Catholic with a pathetic propensity to ride in gay rights parades. But my preference is Dan Rutherford for treasurer because he’s pro-life at least, is younger, far more vigorous and knows issues far more than does Judy who’s long in the tooth.

In fact I can see a pretty good ticket developing on the lower levels which include Paul Vallas as candidate for president of the Cook county board. Here’s what I would do.

I’d pick a prominent businessman/policy wonk for governor who can keep his personal pro-choice credentials if he would agree to oppose public funding of abortion and who has a latch-key sense of stringent economy with the determination to be unpopular as hell in pruning the budget…even if the union and teacher special interests burn him in effigy.

I’d pick as lieutenant governor a bright woman lawyer, mother who is acceptable to the pro-life movement…I’m thinking Kathy Salvi.

I’d run someone acceptable for comptroller but with the knowledge that he/she won’t beat Danny Hynes. If Topinka lusts for return as state treasurer…which is essentially a counting house job with no policy… okay--but Rutherford would be preferable: younger, more intellectually aggressive.

If Lisa Madigan makes a run for governor against Pat Quinn, leaving the AG slot open, I’d run Jim Durkin for it. If she sticks as AG as I suspect she may, forget it: run some bright young lawyer who’s dumb enough to think he can win but don’t let him in on the truth: that all it’ll do is get him some exercise.

Jesse White will be secretary of state until the state marks its two hundredth year in 2018 so forget it. But try Eric Wallace anyhow in hopes that the skies will part and 140,000 angels descend to work on his campaign. Even so, at age 84 White’ll win anyhow.

That leaves the U.S. Senate, doesn’t it? I’ve decided: count me out where Mark Kirk is concerned. He’s had to make abortion a sacrament in order to get elected in the 10th. Enough for me. This is where I’d like to see a primary with a good pro-life candidate. But who? Two points.

First. I’ve a feeling that Roland Burris’ challenger, Alexi Giannoulias, will lick Burris in the primary no matter how inestimably good Delmarie Cobb is…and she is an excellent political guru…just about the brightest political strategist I’ve met on either side in many years—but while the Dems will have their own primary struggle, we Republicans should have one as well. Kirk is much unloved…despised, actually… by the Republican base. I’d run Chris Lauzen for that spot and ensure that the GOP base would have two major reasons to turn out: Lauzen’s fiscal and social conservatism and Kirk’s hated record on abortion, embryonic stem cells and weasel-switching even on Iraq when the heat got turned onto George W. Bush before the surge worked: the one issue he assured us he was firm on.

Second, if Giannoulias gets the nod, his sleazy reputation as one who loaned dough to the mob from his family’s bank should do him in. If Burris wins the nomination, he will be running at a great disadvantage.

3. Obama May be a One-Termer.

Sounds implausible? Pay attention. Barack Obama needs expansive economic growth to justify his budget projections and to fund his surrealistically idealistic expansion of government. There is very little chance he will get that growth. Several reasons. One is “cap-and-trade” the program that would reduce emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere…but which is a Rube Goldberg creation—requiring all companies to participate in an auction to secure the right to emit the gas with the total emissions strictly limited.

It can’t work. Obama’s budget says the carbon tax will bring in $78.7 billion in 2012 but the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) also run by Democrats says $300 billion. Obama says by 2012 this tax will be the sixth largest source of revenue. Wildly speculative. Listen, the Obama budget foresees a furious expansion of economic growth from 2011-`13. And this will be enough to cut the deficit of $1.75 trillion in half as he expects? In Obama’s dreams. Cap-and-trade will stunt growth: John Steele Gordon says it will act very like a governor acts on a steam engine, “resisting any increase in revolutions per minute.” The supply of licenses to allow carbon dioxide to escape will be fixed, right? So the price of permits will inevitably rise as the economy starts to chug upward…meaning heightened demand will hike the price of energy which in turn will tamp down demand: as the economy tries to rev up, the harder the carbon tax will work to hold it down.

There’s a built in self-contradiction…as there is with hiking the tax on the rich who pay most of the taxes and who hire.

Can’t work, my friends. The only thing I worry about is that just as with Franklin Roosevelt, the populace will get resigned to low-voltage economy, shrug and say sluggish economy is inevitable. That saved Roosevelt…along with his undeniable charm…until World War II. But the same political determinants existing now were not present in Roosevelt’s time. The media in Roosevelt’s time…aside from Colonel McCormick and a few others…were overwhelmingly in his camp. Not so today with Fox News, talk radio and the Internet.


  1. I'm curious how you consider the 1930s media overwhelmingly pro-FDR. Opposition to the New Deal wasn't limited to Col. McCormick- the Hearst papers and many others were opposed, and a big majority of papers endorsed Landon and Willkie, although many anti-New Deal outlets supported entering the war.

  2. Did you cut yourself while reading Cardinal George's comments on Notre Dame?