Friday, May 29, 2009

Personal Aside: Had Enough of Illinois’ Laughing Stock Politics? Elect Ron Gidwitz Governor for One Term—at Least--to Do the Unpopular Necessities.

It’s No-Nonsense Time.

For the 56 years I’ve been either covering politics or working in it full-time…from writing for a small daily, stringing for the AP, running campaigns for Republicans, assistant to two congressmen, governor’s press secretary, assistant secretary of commerce, foreign service officer in the Peace Corps, corporate veep of government relations, founder of an anti-vote fraud organization here in the hey-day of old man Daley, president and chairman of the City Club and college adjunct professor… now blogging and working on a 5-day-a-week Internet paper…I’ve largely distrusted so-called “personality candidates” who want to get elected basis their charm, cordiality and good looks.

I always found the pretty-boys and pretty girls who get elected are more consumed with their own appeal than facing up to the tough issues. I’m fortunate in that for the most part, the politicians I helped get elected were of the hardy, tough kind—opposite of pretty boys. Two examples.

A Mayo Doctor in the U.S. House.

One was Dr. Walter Judd, MD, a former top surgeon at Mayo who went to China as a medical missionary during the Chinese-Japanese war, was captured by the Japanese and held prisoner and who came back to the U.S.…turning down many posts where he could do well—including a head of surgery post at Mayo to practice medicine in Minneapolis and lecture on Japan’s aggressive intent.

For several months after he resettled in the Twin Cities, he opened his Saturday night and Sunday afternoon talks to churches and civic groups recounting how he removed a piece of shrapnel from a dying Chinese baby marked “Made in the USA” (when we sold scrap iron to Japan). People listened to him as he warned about aggressive Japan—but sloughed it off…until, that is, he made one such speech at a Lutheran church basement. He had just finished when somebody ran up to the rostrum and broke in on him, announcing that Japan had just attacked Pearl Harbor. It was the afternoon of Sunday, December 7, 1941.

The next week a citizens committee asked him to run for Congress, to replace the isolationist congressman who represented Minnesota’s 5th district. Judd had been too involved in doctoring and serving as a missionary surgeon in China to give much attention to domestic politics—but he reckoned he was a Republican…so he agreed to run for the office.

I was his assistant in Washington when this no-nonsense doctor warned the House and the country that the only way to handle the threat of communism was not via détente but by application of firmness. His counsel flew in the face of the prevailing liberal sentiment which argued we could solve our problems with the USSR and China on the cheap. His tough talk to constituents didn’t endure him to them—but they respected him so much they reelected him time and time again. No pretty boy, his face pock-marked with skin cancer from too much exposure to x-ray treatments before radiation was spotted as a danger, he lived to well past ninety…was called a reactionary and war-monger…and ultimately was defeated after 20 years of being right. His last public act was at the age of 93 when he received the nation’s highest civilian award—the Presidential Medal of Freedom—from the hands of a man who early on listened to him and took his message to heart: Ronald Reagan.

A 1-Term Governor Who Saved Minnesota.

The next non-pretty boy I worked for was a multi-millionaire in Minnesota who was born in Chicago, orphaned early, worked his way through the University of Minnesota, became a salesman and acceded to the post of president and CEO of a small industrial adhesive company in Saint Paul. He turned it into an industrial giant. At the age of 52 he saw that Minnesota was running into serious trouble after a generation of liberal wastefulness, high taxes and profligate spending. He resolved to run for governor. His great wealth was a boon for him because while his competitors bowed and scraped to raise money, he was secure enough to turn bad money down—as result he drew friends to him who raised a unparalleled amount because they saw that someone of his no-nonsense caliber should become governor in a solidly Democratic state that had boasted three Democratic potential presidents-to-be: Humphrey, McCarthy and Mondale.

He won for governor. I was his assistant when he outlined super-tough measures to put the state in the black again—measures his friends warned would make him a one-termer. The legislature passed his program…no tax hikes, instead tax reductions and harsh spending cuts…plus a renewal program that restored the economy of the hard-pressed Minnesota Iron Range. Sure enough, by the time his term was up, he was defeated—by 91 votes out of 1,250,000 cast. But he became celebrated as one of the best…if not THE best…governor the state ever had because he had the courage to prescribe the tough medicine it needed which restored it to solvency.

But next week I’ll speak at the University of Minnesota which will honor the 100th anniversary of his birth (he died at 95, richer as result of his brilliant business career post-governorship than ever) and the dedication of a huge library which he endowed to the university.

Illinois has the Worst Moral Climate in History.

Compared to the condition we have now in Illinois, the problems of Minnesota in the early 1960s were like a Sunday school picnic. We not only have flagrant spending and high taxation, we have a sickeningly immoral situation in our politics…from the Democratic party… that can make one throw up. Consider: a junior Dem U. S. senator who was caught on tape trying to wheedle his appointment via what would be regarded as near-bribery…A Dem governor who was first arrested, then impeached, then fired by the legislature for corruption, unmatched since the days of the Kingfish Huey Long in Louisiana.

His Dem successor who moved up to governor but for most of the time kept his mouth shut about the boss’s evident corruption—and whose campaign manager offered to make “face time” available to lobbyists at the tail-end of the legislative session for $15,000 a pop…and who wants to hike your income taxes steeply…A likely Dem challenger to the Senate seat a young man who conferred loans from his family’s bank to Outfit leaders… A federal prosecutor probing the hiring and kickback practices of the Dem mayor of Chicago, the leader of the Illinois Democratic party, an outfit that has been in charge of Chicago since 1931, longer than the old Soviet Union..

All these things have come to pass because…as bad as the Democratic party has been… the Republican party of Illinois forgot its mission. It served up a bulbous-nosed back-slapping old pol to become governor on the basis that he could get along with everybody. He sure did. He’s serving a term in jail now. He was the latest descendent of a line of Republicans who inured to the Democratic party practices in the past, blocked any glimmer of Reagan high principles to invade the precincts of the state. Thus the GOP became known as the stepchild of the Dems—with campaigns that didn’t mention tax hikes but following elections, tax and fee hikes came.

The question now is…as I mentioned in this place yesterday…what is the Republican party going to do now? The answer seems to be: nothing.

No tough messages for reform. No resolve to get behind a good candidate. In fact nothing at all. A few candidates have come along on their own…one who runs a suburban government with the same-old, same-old. Another the political strategist who ran Alan Keyes’ campaign —and a mayoralty campaign in Cicero…Cicero…and who does a guest spot on radio. A third who publicizes his inexperience…his total non-involvement up to now in politics or governance…now asking to take up the top state post to provide leadership and governance, asking voters to supplant Democratic corruption with one tabula rasa—who might well be too naïve to see corruption until it bites him and the state in the ankle.

Gidwitz…One Term of Tough Medicine.

It has become clear to me that the man we need now is one who is not going to trade on charm or windy bromides…but one who knows more about state government through dint of experience…more also about education and taxes through his background as civic leader and business entrepreneur…than anyone else in the lists. He’s Ron Gidwitz. He hasn’t hired me or rented me and frankly he and I aren’t very close friends. He helped out on The Chicago Daily Observer but then between John Powers and I we got the thing started and continuing…and have far outstripped his contribution—so he’s certainly not our Daddy Warbucks. Nor does he want to be the sole Daddy Warbucks for his candidacy—although he has given millions of dollars to worthy causes in philanthropy.

I met with him the other day and am satisfied…after my 56 years in the Republican trenches in two states…that he is willing to run for governor—IF. If those who are looking around for a candidate understand that there are tough choices and prescriptions to be made…and IF they are willing to help him get elected to prescribe that medicine.

But don’t get me wrong. He has enough to do with a very successful life…in entrepreneurial activity…in philanthropy…in civic leadership… without running 7 days a week for governor—or serving 24-7 in a job that will, at this time in state history, be anything but ceremonially pleasant. And certainly he’s not going to run for this post—or fund it--all by himself. For one thing…as my old boss, the governor of Minnesota said (who had more bucks than Ron): financing it by yourself is a recipe for disaster. And further, if you have to do it all by yourself, it lets the people off the hook who should be pushing the wagon.

I’m writing this now certainly not at his behest but because I see that without a man of this stature and guts, Illinois will turn to yet more of the same-old, same-old for governor. If that happens, you can consign the state to the bottom tenth in unemployment and the top third in higher taxes. But it’s not my call to make…nor is it his.

It’s the call to make of those who have the power to raise the money to get this job done. If they sit on their hands and say, aw he’s rich—let him do it…they’ll miss the boat. Then they will settle for one of several types: a soft-spoken cipher with no governmental experience who surrounds himself with high paid flacks to say the popular thing, who in debate and on the stump will be unable to answer questions except in broad, meaningless generalities, about the intricacies of governmental mechanics…a familiar states attorney who is very popular in his county but has tried many times before for state office and hasn’t done particularly well—although able he is…and nice young man who touts his inexperience in government as his only recommendation.

With that I close. Which is it to be?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Personal Asides: GOP Fund-Raisers Have Not the Faintest Idea Who Should Run but is McKenna Preparing to Capitalize on the Impasse?…The Senate GOP Shouldn’t Filibuster but Summon Frank Ricci…The Dem U. S. Senate Majority is Rolled by Obama.


Capitalizing on the Impasse?

By all odds, the Illinois Republican party should be out on the hustings with a top-rated candidate for governor. Reason: never has the Democratic party of Illinois ever looked worse. Its junior Democratic U. S. senator stands condemned as a bribe-giver wanna be. Its past Democratic governor has been arrested, impeached and tossed out on his ear. Its current Democratic governor glided into the lieutenant governorship using the ill-gotten dough from his predecessor since the two ran as a team: and didn’t squeal in protest until his boss ran into trouble with the feds.

Moreover the current Democratic governor is unable to deal with a recalcitrant Democratic legislature on ethics—his credibility dashed because of his campaign manager’s offer to lobbying groups to buy face-time with the governor at $15,000 a pop—for which the governor has blamed his staff rather than manfully taking the blame himself. The Democratic governor and the Democratic legislature are considering raising taxes in a recession: a sure toxic that can lead to defeat.

The Speaker of the Democratic House is dragging his feet on ethics reform presumably because the proposed rules will be too strict for his step-daughter, the Democratic attorney general who wants to run for governor, to meet. The Democratic state treasurer who wants to run for the Democratic senatorial nomination is a young banker who bankrolled with loans some of the Mafia.

With all that going on, you’d think the Republican party would be priming for a fight with a battalion of potential candidates knocking on its door. Not so. And the reason is simple.

Gone are the days when the so-called “A-List” of sturdy contributors and fund-raisers from the business community were able to sit down, interview and decide to finance and back good candidates. When I moved back here from Minnesota in 1964 (a bad year for the GOP) the crowned heads of the senior business community would meet for lunch weekly, in Room 100 of the Chicago Club. The leaders of all the major industries were there—men who had given much of their lives and free time to civic, philanthropy and politics. One was my boss, the CEO of Quaker. At age 36, I attended as a go-fer, taking notes and seeing the questions they asked were satisfactorily answered. Who were they? Most of them are dead now but they represented the banking industry, consumer goods, engineering: about 20 in number with lists that ranged into the hundreds who wanted to join them. The great unwritten rule was that they were to decide on candidates without any “deal” being made with the candidates to help their particular industries if and when they get elected.

You can fault the process but it worked well. They picked candidates they would raise money for and once agreed they went out and by God raised money in sufficient amounts for the whole ticket, from top to bottom: U. S. senator, governor, attorney general, treasurer, secretary of state and on and on. If a guy didn’t get their support, he was free to run and raise his own money. Some did and beat the system. Not often, though.

That group of 20 would be exhilarated now because of the great opportunity beckoning for their party. By now they would have completed the interviewing candidates informally at lunch and taking notes. Long before this they would have come forth…in private…with a suggested ticket and a budget. But that hasn’t happened now. Why not?

Because the Republicans are bereft of those men (almost all of whom are dead or long retired)? Very possibly. Instead of a gang of 20 or more, very-very tiny minority of prosperous givers meet occasionally with the state Republican chairman, Andy McKenna, as their head. The meetings are lethargic and mainly gossip, all the while nothing is done. Mainly names are lofted up and shot down. This candidate is too old, this candidate has freckles, this candidate ran once before for something and antagonized my Aunt Julia. This candidate who’s a lawyer was at one time a tort lawyer and we gotta block him.

The result of this glacial pace is that we are almost at June in the crucial year before election and no major league candidates have been encouraged to run—with the pledge of solid campaign support. No ticket has been suggested, a ticket that needs finances in double-digit millions. Some think the reason is that there is a purposeful stall: that McKenna wants to see it stall on dead center so he can arise and say, “okay fellas, since nobody will do it, I will.” McKenna is a man of wealth and his father who is key in all this has great connections.

That’s a possibility but the real reason for the stall may well be the inexperience of the tiny group that deliberates. Only two of them ever ran for anything statewide. Collectively, the small group frankly may not know the trade of raising significant money. The trade that old gang of 20 knew.

My point is simply this. The main line job is governor: because from that reasonable party-building can occur. Who do they favor for governor? Mark Kirk is not available. But who’s for senator? Had they given a thought about…for example…Terry Barnich? Odds are they never heard of him until he was killed. No, I don’t think they would have given him a shot. The state central committee had rejected him once before—before they went for Alan Keyes. That’s what I mean by culpable inexperience.

There’s a guy running for governor with a foot-long Polish name who uses as an argument his inexperience. Inexperience in raising money, inexperience in knowing anything at all about governing, inexperience at knowing any of the legislators. He says it’s a big selling point. Do you want a brain surgeon to remove your tumor who’s chief claim is that he isn’t burdened by past surgical mistakes? Do you want an airline pilot who is a citizen pilot, willing to take a crack at the controls if somebody hands him a manual?

Inexperience in party processes is evidently the malady. Nobody…but nobody…knows what to do. Never, ever have I seen my party so bereft of fund-raising strategic judgment bearing on candidate selection and encouragement. The more I think of it…

The more I think of it, it may very well be a purposeful stall: for Andy McKenna. Well… given what he’s done as state chairman …with his quiet, understated approach…he could become the candidate for governor of a party that frankly doesn’t know what it should be doing. And thus isn’t doing it.

If so, seeing how unlettered he is in state government, he’ll be the practitioner of the original Amateur Hour. Like Major Bowes, not American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. What he should do is tell us if this is his game or not. And if not, what’s the delay?

Paging Mr. Ricci, Mr. Frank Ricci!

It’s clear that filibuster will not be used by the GOP to defeat Sonia Sotomayor. And if she gets confirmed there will be no unbalance of the court because she’ll replace a liberal. But there’s a lot the Republicans can do to make her confirmation process a teaching moment.

For one thing, they can call Frank Ricci to testify. He’s the white fireman who is dyslexic but still emerged sixth out of 77 candidates in the exam to be lieutenant in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. No one was promoted but after he did so well in the test, Ricci and 17 other non-black firemen including an Hispanic sued the city for racial discrimination. I know something about affirmative action in that when I installed it in the Commerce Department on minority business development in 1969, I put in an order for 10 years. This is affirmative action hiring under Title VII.

A federal district judge ruled against Ricci and his fellows so they appealed to the 2nd Circuit on which Sotomayor sits. A panel of three judges including Sotomayor approved the district judge’s finding without adding their own analysis. One non-paneled Hispanic judge appointed, as it happens by Bill Clinton, protested the ruling saying “the opinion contains no reference whatever to the constitutional claims at the core of this case…This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal.” His name: Judge Jose Cabranes. His being upset about it led to the U. S. Supreme Court taking up the issue. It heard arguments on the case in April. It will rule in June before Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings.

The first thing the Republicans should do is to be sure Ricci and his supporters are subpoenaed to the confirmation hearings. It is long past due when the bogus “affirmative action” idea…which unfortunately I advanced in my unenlightened years…be scrapped. And the American people are certainly on the side of that being done according to many public opinion polls.

Senate Dems Roll Over for Obama on Gitmo.

One reason Harry Reid is going to be defeated in Nevada next year is that like Tom Daschle he represents a state that is in fundamental disagreement with its incumbent’s stands which he has to embrace as Democratic leader. You remember Harry’s telling all of us that he firmly opposes any suspected terrorist from Gitmo being transferred to prisons in this country. That was then. The choice was: either Obama had to recede from his foolish decision to close Gitmo or the congressional Dems would. Well the answer from Reid is this: the Senate Dems will likely do it.

And to seal the bargain, Reid went on TV in Las Vegas and propagated a bare-faced lie: that there are those in Gitmo who are being held without proof and who, accordingly, have not been proved to be suspected terrorists—so they are the ones who should be transferred here.

What nonsense. A brief review of the Gitmo issue is required. On Jan. 21, 2009 Obama issued his first executive order in keeping with his foolish campaign pledge: he was closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and calling a halt to military commissions created to try terrorist suspects held there. But obviously the insiders at the White House knew they were in a tough spot. So they delayed the order for a year while they purportedly searched around for other alternatives for the 240 detained there. Then the AG, Eric Holder discovered that Gitmo is in full compliance with the provisions of the Geneva convention. Twelve separate inquiries at Gitmo found no evidence of abuses…the so-called “torture” techniques had been applied to just three suspects during eight years…the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point found that 73% of the detainees are “a demonstrated threat” to the U.S….the detention facility was created by act of Congress immediately after 9/11 “against those nations, organizations or persons” responsible for the attacks of September 11.

The Left has cycled this into a scandal that has no basis in fact and by pressuring the weak Harry Reid into sanctioning removal of some really bad guys is endangering the peace and security of the United States.

If these guys come to our prisons and start indoctrinating domestic felons with the A, B, Cs of terrorism, Harry Reid and his marble-smooth oracular buddy Barack Obama will be history…Reid in 2010…Obama in 2012. Unfortunately American lives will be taken needlessly for the sole purpose of allowing the Messiah to continue to look good with the American homegrown Left.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Personal Asides: More Sadness Anent Terry Barnich…Burris’ Pathetic Pleading…Obama’s Dilemma about North Korea…His Pick for the Supreme Court.


Terry Barnich.

I have just learned something more about Terry Barnich, the patriot who as a civilian was killed on Memorial Day in Iraq: He was preparing to come home to Chicago in July and begin a run for the U. S. Senate on the Republican ticket. That really makes me feel sad. Dear God, in so many ways—what a loss.

Burris Agonistes.

Hungry for the Senate appointment to the point of being tumescent about it, Roland Burris was caught on the feds’ tape pleading for the appointment and all but offering to buy the seat. That tape should settle everything about his possible future candidacy for the office. Were he to run for election and win, Illinois would go down in permanent…not temporary disgrace…as voters countenanced his blatant attempt to office-buy.

Robert Blagojevich says: “…[I]f you guys can just write checks that’d be fine, if we can’t find a way for you to tie in.”

Burris pleadingly agrees: “Okay, okay, well we, we, I, will personally do something, okay.”

Burris adds: “I know I could give him a check. Myself.”

He never wrote a check because the federal heat came on too quickly—but that doesn’t dismay Burris who lies so volubly his very soul could turn to ashes, saying:

“These transcripts verify the accuracy of my previous public statements on this matter and demonstrate once and for all there was no `pay to play’ involved in my appointment to the United States Senate or perjury I my recounting that process.”

The truth isn’t in him. Ugh is all I can add.

The conversation starts with Burris telling Robert Blagojevich: “I know you’re calling telling me that you’re gonna make me king of the world. And therefore I can go off to, you know, wherever and do all these great things. I’ve been trying to figure out what the heck, you know, I can do.”

To which Robert Blagojevich responds: “ We’ve had a number of conversations about, you know, anything you might be able to do.

Burris says—rightly—he is concerned about how fundraising on his part would be viewed if he got the Senate seat.

“And I’m trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in consideration for the appointment.”

Says Robert Blagojevich: “I hear ya. No, I hear ya. I understand your concerns, Roland.”

Burris rattles on: “And God knows, number one, I, I wanna help Rod. Number two, I also wanna, you know, hope I get a consideration to get that appointment.”

Disgusting. No shame. He ought to quit right now. But when one has no shame, that wouldn’t even be considered, would it?

North Korea Missile Firings.

North Korea’s firing of a round of short-range missile last night in addition to having launched a ground-to-ship missiles into the East Sea dramatizes the folly of us importuning the UN to do anything. It is an impotent body and by trying to get it to deliver anything outside of a nasty note to the offender we’re just wasting time.

Of course President Obama is a great one for beseeching dictators to act nicey-nice. But what should happen is that we should begin negotiations immediately to encourage Japan to utilize nuclear technology…which would rectify the imbalance which in term would serve to stabilize China.

That’s what should happen. Whether it will remains to be seen. Don’t hold your breath. That’s what would happen if George W. Bush were still in control. Now we have an orator, ladies and gentlemen. One who sees his first job as ordering roofs in the United States to be painted white to help conserve energy.

First things first.

Obama’s Supreme Court Appointment.

The most compelling assessment of the lack of excellence in Obama’s Supreme Court appointment comes, paradoxically, from an unlikely source—“The New Republic’s” legal analyst Jeffrey Rosen whose review of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s (2nd Circuit court of Appeals in New York) credentials appear in the May 4 issue of the magazine.

After pointing out Sotomayor’s political bona fides as the first Latina to go on the Court, Rosen writes of those on the 2nd Circuit who know her well “there are…many reservations about Sotomayor. I’ve been talking to a range of people who have worked with her, nearly all of them former law clerks for other judges on the 2nd Circuit or former federal prosecutors in New York. Most are Democrats and all of them want President Obama to appointment a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court [sic]. …[N]early none raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices as well as a clear liberal alternative.”

My, the fact that Rosen thinks she’s a lightweight sort of cheers me up.

“The most consistent concern was that Sotomayer although an able lawyer was `not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench,’ said one 2nd Circuit clerk for another judge. `She has an inflated opinion of herself and is domineering during oral arguments but her questions aren’t penetrating and don’t get to the heart of the issue.’ During one argument, an elderly judicial colleague is said to have leaned over and said, `Will you please stop talking and let them talk?’”

Rosen goes on and on. The upshot is that this is a very mediocre judge who has traded on her nationality…not unexpected from the likes of Barack Obama.

I would imagine the Republicans would forego filibustering for two reasons. First, a number of them…six or so…voted for her during her last confirmation hearing. Second, there will be the old liberal caterwauling about how awful it would be for Republican senators to vote against an Hispanic. Very unpersuasive. A whole list of Hispanic candidates was submitted by George W. Bush i.e. Emilo Garza, who were vehemently opposed by the Democrats in the Senate. Third, the seat being vacated is of a liberal and the appointment of another liberal would not change the balance.

But watch out: the next vacancy will see Obama appoint a fiery liberal and the fight will be on.

However, this fight may not be over at all as one can never predict what will come out of a confirmation hearing. Errors can be made, goofs can be made, negative research can be turned up.

But in the meantime the one argument that doesn’t hold water is the one that says: oh-oh, Republicans can’t be seen as opposing a…gasp…Hispanic! Balderdash.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Personal Aside: Terry Barnich, R.I.P.


Terry Barnich, RIP. Valiant Defender of Peace.

Those who have listened to my radio show through the years remember Terry Barnich. He was a superbly equipped conservative with great knowledge of business, government, the law and politics who appeared on it many times. He was lawyer, former general counsel to Jim Thompson, former chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission and president of New Paradigm Resources, a firm specializing in strategic planning in the energy field.

I am deeply sorry to report that Terry, whom I guess was about 55, was killed yesterday…Memorial Day… in Iraq where he had been serving his country as senior adviser for law and policy to the Iraq transition office of the Department of State. He was killed while riding in an automobile convoy yesterday (they are about 8 hours ahead of us) just outside Fallujah, in the province of Al Anbar roughly 43 miles west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. A roadside bomb—an IED (improvised explosive device)-- took his life. Terry was single (divorced) and had no children but many friends and admirers.

In Illinois, Terry was known as a deeply engaged and serious student of public affairs and endowed with sagacity and a luminous wit. In fact when I heard the surprise that he had allowed his name to be entered in the lists of people the Illinois Republican State Central committee was considering to run for the U. S. Senate following the resignation of Jack Ryan, I became deeply supportive. Unfortunately he was not chosen: if he had, Terry would have run a brilliant campaign against Barack Obama.

He embodied everything the GOP was…and is still… looking for: deep understanding of the issues, articulateness, with an exceeding attractive personality and mien and superb legal training, a graduate of Fordham law school. It will interest some to know that Terry surmounted the beliefs of some establishmentarians in the GOP in that he told me often he was a pro-lifer which position would have come out in his own campaign. Always professional in his politics, he ran the primary portion of the Topinka campaign for governor, leaving after he steered her to the nomination. I wrote at the time that the Topinka campaign would miss him greatly. It did and it is my belief that her campaign in the general would not have failed had Terry stayed.

It was at that point that Terry decided to serve his country as a civilian in a post where he was needed greatly—in Iraq. He went there in January, 2007 and…to highlight the tragedy of his death yesterday…was within weeks of coming back home. In his post there he served as general counsel to the electricity section of the State Department’s reconstruction office. In addition he served as legal adviser to the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, developing a modern of law and regulatory format necessary to attract private investment in the future. At the same time he served as liaison to policy-makers at the U. S. embassy in Iraq and the Iraqi embassy in Washington. When the president, vice-president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, national security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs came to Iraq Terry Barnich was one of their top briefers.

Terry Barnich had great personal magnetism, still was low-key. He was a friend and above all a great American patriot. Giving up the comfortable life as a highly respected business executive here, he volunteered to served his country by living in a 150-foot trailer in the Green Zone, the heavily-guarded area of closed-off streets in Baghdad which is where U. S. personnel live. Before his untimely death he had already survived a very close call: he missed being hit by two rockets by 44 paces and about eight seconds. He worked from 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. His statement he left with us months before this tragic death summarizes his greatness of heart:

“I like to think that in some small way I will have contributed my part in transferring certain knowledge to the Iraqis that will permit them to otherwise accelerate their seizing control of their own future and make this experiment in liberty a success.”

Chicago, Illinois and the nation have lost much with his death as well as the Republican party which could have derived inestimable benefit from the limitless gifts Terry had to offer if he had lived to return home. I’ll pass along to his many friends plans for a memorial service as soon as I hear.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Personal Aside: O, Sweet Irony—Thus Far, Quinn Foiled by His Own “Reform”…The “Cutback Amendment” He Pushed in 1980.

Remember the “Coalition for Political Honesty”?

Thus far, Gov. Patrick Quinn has been unable to get much of his program through the legislature…especially his income tax hike and ethics package. And the reason is—at least up to now—that the state House, while solidly Democratic, is not disposed to pass much of either. Reason: While the House is composed of 70 Dems to 48 Republicans, its leadership is held tightly in the fist of Speaker Michael Madigan. There are many reasons why the Dems of the House are contrary but foremost is that they are run totally by Madigan who has a personal interest in seeing that Quinn does not make a good record as governor: Madigan’s step-daughter Lisa will almost certainly challenge Quinn for the governorship.

But Madigan would not have such a strangle-hold over the House if in 1980 Illinois voters hadn’t passed what was known as the “Cutback Amendment.” Up to then the House was divided into 59 legislative districts, each of which had 3 representatives. It was a product of post-Civil War days when there were concerns that the political minority would be overwhelmed by the majority—so to ameliorate the situation there was constituted a modified form of cumulative voting. Each voter was given three legislative votes to cast and could cast either one vote each for three candidates or three votes for one candidate—known as a “bullet vote” or ½ votes each for two candidates.

The unique 3-member-per-district House was adopted with the Illinois state constitution in 1870. The intention—to reduce the divisive effects of partisan wrangling by virtually guaranteeing minority party representation in all districts—was accomplished and lasted until 1980. The practical effect in almost every district was to allow one minority party legislator to serve. For example in most heavily Democratic legislative districts, say in Chicago, two Democrats were elected and one Republican. But the Republican was usually an independent and not under regular party discipline…so the Republican could more easily vote his or her conscience. And then in most heavily Republican or downstate districts, the normal outcome would be two Republicans and one independent Democrat, with that Democrat able to vote the way he or she really felt, secure from Democratic discipline.

The irony is that in 1980 there came along in Chicago a liberal “reform” hustler who was a genius at grabbing headlines and TV face-time with a grassroots movement called “The Coalition for Political Honesty.” The head of the Coalition was one who preached consumer reform ala Ralph Nader but also political “reform.” And the political “reform” he hustled was to “cut back the size of the state House” from 177 members to 118 by eliminating 3-member districts. The “reform” hustler was 32-year-old Pat Quinn who with his brother ran the letterhead group composed of mailing lists—purportedly “grassroots”--that capitalized on the whims of idealistic journalists and high-minded liberals plus some instinctive conservatives who felt that by cutting the number of House lawmakers from 177 to 118 you’d get some “economy.”

My instinct as a government relations veep for The Quaker Oats Company…but also as chairman of an election watchdog organization in Chicago known as “Project LEAP” which was anti-machine politics…was to oppose the Cutback Amendment because I thought sure that it would serve not the ends of “reform” but tighten the grip of the two parties so that independents couldn’t breathe.

True, as with all things, the 3-member plan didn’t always work to my or conservatives’ satisfaction. It was a boon to liberals. As history shows, Republican Gov. Richard B. Ogilvie was determined to emulate Nelson Rockefeller and build a big government for which he needed to pass an income tax. He was joined by so-called conservative Russ Arrington who was a big government practitioner. They passed the state income tax—even with much of the grassroots philosophy of my party opposed to bigger government and income tax funding-- thanks to the device...and onus for the income tax killed Ogilvie’s political career and delivered the legislature to the Democrats. Ogilvie could not have gotten the bill passed without the aid of inner-city Republicans. The GOP House voted for the income tax 91 to 73 (69 Republicans, most from Dem sectors and 22 Democrats, most for GOP sectors voted for it; 25 Republicans and 48 Dems, including Clyde Choate the Dem House leader voted against, as did for example Alan Dixon). The Dems used the onus for voting in the income tax to beat Ogilvie for reelection and to elect a Democratic majority.

Notwithstanding that favorable result for liberals…and actually because of it…Quinn bamboozled many Republican and middle-of-the-road voters to ditch the 3-member districts on a bogus issue that it would save taxpayer money. That it would speed diversity. That it would increase two-party competition. Hah!

The result: incumbents were favored, newcomers had a tougher time getting elected. Quinn maintained that “this complicated and collusive election system is consciously designed to protect incumbents and limit political competition and accountability.” The exact opposite happened. As result of Quinn’s ill-considered “reform,” incumbents were rewarded and newcomers had a tougher time getting elected. Both parties in the House became insulated from independent thought and the House became a pawn of a small group of majority people: Madigan, Flynn Currie, et al. In essence it spurred the Big 4 power bloc: Speaker, House minority leader; Senate President, Senate minority leader…with many of the other members calling themselves “mushrooms,” larded with party fertilizer and kept in the dark.

And of course, fittingly, his misguided “reform”…which was designed only for his short-term political benefit… has come back to bite Quinn—now governor. Had the old 3-member system prevailed…the one he killed…he would not be hogtied by a opaque, laconic, arrogant, savagely partisan and self-consumed Speaker who wants nothing more than to help his step-daughter. So Madigan should feel grateful to Quinn for changing the rules so that he—Madigan—became Czar Madigan…and Quinn should he gnawing his knuckles in frustration that he did this to himself.

For now, we conservatives should be happy that the Quinn “reform” may short-circuit his tax hike…but that’s incidental. As with all other things, Quinn’s promises never bore fruit. In the campaign of 1980 he said the new system would immeasurably simplify things, cutting down the number of bills introduced. Not so. In the four general assemblies preceding the Cutback, an average of 3,512 bills were introduced. By 1987-88 just a few years following Cutback, 4,311 bills were introduced. And the number has spiraled yearly since.

Nor has the House workload declined as Quinn said it would. In 1979-80 20 bills per member were introduced. In 1987-88 it was 28 bills per member. Much higher now. And concerning electoral competition? The state House has taken on the character of the U.S. House regarding incumbent protection. In 1984, 95% of House incumbents were reelected; in 1988 it was at 98%. From 1984 to 1990, 426 incumbents ran and 414 were reelected (97%) compared with incumbent reelection of 95% in the three elections before the Cutback.

Nor did the Cutback did not save money as Quinn prophesied. These statistics are taken from the articles “The Cutback Amendment and Diversity in the House” by Robert B. Schaller in “Illinois Issues” magazine for December, 1990 and “The Cutback at 10” in July, 1991 by David Everson, professor of Political Studies at Sangamon State.

We can’t and won’t go back to the old days but--. Obviously as old liberal hustler now unelected Governor Pat Quinn could testify if he ever leveled…which he doesn’t… things have gotten a lot worse since then.

The paradoxical summary: Conservatives can thank liberal Quinn for imposing a strait-jacket on the House which delivered the power to Czar Madigan so that the income tax hike…to the specifications set by Quinn…won’t make it—all to make Madigan’s stepdaughter look good in 2010.

Liberals can curse liberal Quinn for knocking out the 3-member district so that the income tax hike he wants will certainly not make it.

But all the same, apart from these short-range temporary disadvantages due to faulty gubernatorial leadership and not change in the system, the 3-member district system would have immeasurably aided independence within the two parties instead of the regimentation and stultified system we have now: for which we can thank Pat Quinn.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Personal Aside: So-Called “Human Rights” Lefties Roil Obama in White House Meeting Prior to His Big Speech


“Let Us Bear Any Burden…”

Barack Obama is learning the hard way with the closing-Gitmo issue how campaign demagoguery conflicts with governing. His speech before a masterly David Axelrod-contrived backdrop of the Constitution and Declaration as symbols mesmerized at least one source--the zombie-like Associated Press.

Minutes after the president delivered his oration (which contained no solution to the impasse) the wire service’s Steven Hurst wrote an analysis piece that could be used for the 2012 campaign brochure, terming the former U of Chicago untenured law lecturer who allowed his law license to expire “a constitutional scholar.” Axelrod probably connected with a forest of upraised hands conveying High 5’s for that sucker story embellished with loving whopping inaccuracy.

Oh and how the dazzled Hurst went on, prattling that the president glided “through a long, carefully reasoned brief in the rotunda of the storied National Archives” which sneered in contrast at former Vice President Dick Cheney’s “message across town in a cramped-by-comparison conference hall at the conservative [sic] American Enterprise Institute.” The AP continues to label such think-tanks as AEI and Heritage as “conservative” but name groups like the liberal Brookings “non-partisan.” Just another thumb-in-the-eye from the wire service

In the welter of praise for Obama the “scholar,” Hurst never got around to reporting that despite Axelrod’s Cecil B. DeMille like backdrop…and the soft strains of violins Hurst certainly detected in his imagination…Obama failed to deliver a solution to the problem he created for himself when he huckstered the Left to his cause of closing Guantanamo in January, 2009 without a plan in God’s green world about what to do with terrorists. Nor did it occur to the journalist to refer to the leaked Pentagon report that concludes one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from Gitmo has gone back to terrorism.

When I first began as a stringer for the AP in central Minnesota in 1953, writing and phoning in stories for $40 a week, I would have been slapped silly by the AP editor in Minneapolis for missing part of the story—but now the wire service has fallen upon tough times, prompted in part by its liberal outspokenness. Among other papers, the “Tribune” is discontinuing its subscription with them…as are others… and the AP manager just told an off-the-record town hall meeting of writers that he has to cut 10% of the staff in 2009…which means that with a total complement of 4,000 at least 400 will be let go.

Let us hope that one of them will be the roundup writer who…assigned to cull colorful quotes from economics academe…credited two to far-lefty Nobel prize-winner Paul Krugman (Princeton don and the writer of a regular column for The New York Times who admittedly yearns for a socialist economy), only to find that Krugman was quoting others. And that another to join a buy-out will be Hurst, an Obama-clone with 30 years of liberal thumb-sucking from Jimmy Carter through Fritz Mondale, Al Gore, John Kerry and Obama.

Not much reporting has come about an unannounced White House meeting on the eve of the President’s speech between a number of so-called human rights advocates…who believed Obama’s campaign rhetoric on “torture” and Gitmo. The only place I saw it was, believe it or not, on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow as reported by Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff (whose bosses had rejected the story of Monica Lewinsky performing fellatio on the disinterested body of Bill Clinton as unbelievable, which rejection did us all a favor by leading to the ascension of Matt Drudge—but I digress).

Obama called the meeting to apply the same old snake oil, showing that in his heart of hearts he is sympathetic. He began as he always does on everything else: blaming George W. Bush for the “mess” Obama inherited. But one of the audience interjected that for a man who is severely critical of Bush, Obama is following the 43rd president’s path so closely as to see his policies labeled the “Bush-Obama” policy.

Obama became offended at the suggestion—deeply offended. Not long later it was announced that 48 terror suspects at Gitmo will be sent to other nations. How did that happen when the word was that “other nations” including European ones refused to accept any? The answer is as old as the Peace Corps in which I served. Foreign aid is the key. You take so many or you’ll have trouble getting foreign aid.

The same process was used in a much more positive way when the Peace Corps was founded. R. Sargent Shriver the first director found that developing nations were not interested in inviting the new agency believing that it was composed largely of blond, blue-eyed liberal arts majors from Winnetka (among other places) to teach the natives English as a second language when they sorely needed to built latrines and roads.

But p. r. demanded developing nations request the idealistic young volunteers. So Shriver got on the horn and told the leaders of these nations with the same directness that the Soup Nazi did in “Seinfeld.” No soup for you (i.e. foreign aid) if you don’t line up and take these kids. The line immediately formed to the right and Shriver became celebrated for his powers of persuasion to convince the developing nations to buy JFK’s program…getting JFK’s new agency going like a house afire.

The Politics of Gitmo.

You’ll notice that the Senate voted heavily…94 to 6…against funding Gitmo’s close-down. Our little hustler Dickie Durbin voted with the president but Roland Burris…deciding he didn’t need yet more baggage…went the other way.

It will be interesting to see Chris Kennedy…who is surely practicing before a full-length mirror, jabbing the air with one finger while the other hand rests securely in his jacket pocket, ala his uncles…will do about some of these things. Axelrod’s heirs at his old firm are preparing to do the handling.

Let’s see how would I write it to get the old Kennedy effect ala Jack and Teddy…echoing Ted Sorenson and re-cycling it with Bob Shrum rhetoric (which has never won a presidential election no matter how oracular). Aha, I’ve got it:

Chris says at his announcement maybe at Maggiano’s Little Italy where I can stuff my face with delicious food as I thrill to his words:

“Now the trumpet summons us again—not to bear arms, not as a call to battle but to the great task of supplying to those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of misery a fresh detachment of former terrorists…at least let us hope they are former…together with the admonition to these host nations to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of our president’s campaign pledge to empty Guantanamo. Therefore I say: Ask not what America will do for you until and unless you accept the wretched refuse of our Guantanamo’s shores which will enable our president to get this damnable burden off his back. Then we shall talk of gratitude in the form of big bucks in aid as you begin anew the quest for peace before the dark powers of destruction which you have accepted overwhelm.”

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Personal Asides: 3-1/2 to 22! That’s the Ratio of Conservatives to Liberals on the Two Major Chicago Newspapers…What Will the New Pro-Life Majority Mean to Politics Here?


Overwhelming Liberal Imbalance.

In all of Chicago’s so-called “mainline print media”…which is often called the Old Media (for a good reason)… there are only 3-1/2 conservative voices compared to a total of 22 liberal columnists. Does that strike you as diversity? Especially since the generic preference for Congress is 41% Dem and 36% Republican?

And the fact that polls have shown a rightward tack on abortion, Opinion Dynamics supporting pro-life 47-44, Gallup finding Americans supporting pro-life 51-42 (due principally to the growing use of ultra-sound which show parents that there’s a live human being in there, not a gallstone.

It verifies what I have said for a long time: the big papers which constitute the Old Media are ramming liberal and Left views down our throats. Not because it sells: it obviously doesn’t—but because that’s the ideological persuasion of the elites…and by god they insist you like it or lump it. Or as the callow Richard Roeper has said drawing himself up in full arrogance: that’s life in the big city. Meaning: we decide, you have to take it.

. And liberal leftism is a major reason for the decline in Old Media popularity, don’t you kid yourself.

The only conservative voices in the Chicago leftward tilted media? Here they are.

Start out with John Kass of the “Tribune” whose magnificent column on Obama at Notre Dame is unrivaled among all the pieces I saw on the issue. He is deserving of a Pulitzer prize…and I imagine he’ll get it, surmounting the leftward posture of the journalistic jury. That’s 1.

The only regular local Op Ed writer is either paper who is conservative on social as well as economic issues is Dennis Byrne, who writes weekly for “The Tribune”. He is a superstar and gets a full 1 for a total of 2 for the “Tribune.”.

They are matched with 8 liberals who are:

Steve Chapman (a so-called libertarian but as an ex-“New Republic” writer supports decriminalization of drugs and opposes much national defense issues that equates with the Left); David Greising (a business columnist but when opportunity arises is smugly anti-conservative); Manya Brachear, religion writer who also blogs; Clarence Page in Washington, who got a Pulitzer and who concentrates on race issues, unremittingly liberal; Phil Rosenthal (a media writer who keenly dislikes conservative talk radio hosts; Mary Schmich who crusades for same-sex marriage; Dawn Turner Trice who tells whitey what it’s like to be black and victimized and Eric Zorn, (who opposes even a moment of nondenominational silence in public schools).

Over at the “Sun-Times,” there are one conservative: Jack Higgins, the paper’s Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist…probably the most brilliant cartoonist in America…for 1. Steve Huntley, a regular columnist, is conservative on most economic and foreign policy-defense issues but is pro-choice (and who doesn’t write on social issues)—so I give him ½. That’s a total of 1-1/2 for the paper, pitted against these 14 liberals:

Mark Brown, Roger Ebert (Pulitzer prize winning film critic who feels so strongly liberal that he writes an occasional political commentary on the editorial page); Cathleen Falsani; Rev. Jesse Jackson ; Carol Marin; Rich Miller; Mary Mitchell; Suzanne Ontiveros; Richard Roeper; Neil Steinberg ; Lynn Sweet; Rick Telander (a sports writer who peppers liberal opinions in his columns); Don Terry and Laura Washington.

Thus the official city wide mainstream print media total: 3-1/2 conservatives to 22 liberals.

Official editorial page slant is hard left for the “Sun-Times” and liberal for the “Tribune”—both supporting same-sex marriage and abortion. The “Trib” editorials generally stands with business on most regulatory issues.

It could be argued that since Chicago is a solidly Democratic town, the Old Media is right to reflect it. But THIS MUCH? Given the nature of newspaper readers…more literate, more cerebral than those who get their stories from Jon Stewart at Comedy Center or their jollies from Jay Leno…a more balanced flavor…even a little bit… would make sense. But both are seriously imbalanced. The “Sun-Times” has resolved to go hard-left in an ill-advised stab at getting more black readers and trendy Lakefront-ers. That hasn’t really worked out since it’s bankrupt.

The “Tribune” is governed by focus group marketing groups which , chosen by hollow advertising types, leans to the let us say Hinsdale country club, trendy, gated community white shoe Left…the group actually voting on stories dug up by reporters which hadn’t even appeared yet. So that’s why the paper is so vapid. On policy, its corporate board dictates what it believes on all but “inside politics” to its stenographer editorial page editor…who in turn is on a pivot, swayed also by his “editorial board” which includes the paper’s ex-cookbook editor. Publisher Zell has no principles except money, admits he goofed on buying the paper and thus is ultra-pragmatic on all issues. But this hasn’t worked out either since the paper like the “Sun-Times” is bankrupt.

Of the two papers, the lefty “Sun-Times” is distinctly the better one from the standpoint of coverage, investigations and breaking major news, consistently out-shooting the liberal “Tribune” on city and state politics and human interest grippers. Understaffed, under-funded it valiantly out-pointed the “Trib” once again last week on Todd Stroger’s tax problems.

The overall liberal “Tribune’s” non-opinion content is lethargic, sleepy, predictable, boiler-plate, purveying conventional wisdom—made individual and catchy only by John Kass. Both papers crusade editorially and in slanted news coverage for anti-Judeo Christian same-sex marriage…running rough-shod over Chicago’s majority religious sensibilities—including black religious groups which endorse biblical formulation of heterosexual marriage. No matter…as the “Sun-Times’” Mr. Roeper says…speaking for both papers and who poses cross-armed like an ideological gulag guard: “that’s life in the big city.” Take it or leave it.

Readers are leaving it.

But still the liberal propaganda mill with the Old Media goes on.

And if they were to cover the end of the world both would echo the apocryphal New York Times’ headline:


What Hath God Wrought?

Don’t hold your breath thinking that the newly released pro-life rating across the general public will propel any change in the Old Media—but it conceivably will with some elected officials.

The Old Media is rooted in the past in more ways than one and cannot change. If survival meant anything at all, Old Media would have shifted long ago. Like the Captain on the bridge of the Titanic, Old Media is determined to forge straight ahead…heedless of danger. Thus it will go down—and welcome to the ocean depths.

With politicians it’ll be different. Not initially because pols have to devise a way to accommodate public opinion—but the change will be felt in time for FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act). President Obama ran with the pledge of making it the first order of business in his presidency. Last week at his news conference he said “it is not high on my list of priorities.” He knew what was up with his own private polling process.

But his Lefty base will insist that it come up.

When it does, you will see the first breath of change in Republican pro-aborts. There will be many manufactured reasons for the switches. Mark Kirk will say that while he’s pro-choice he doesn’t like certain features of the bill, will wince and grumble. His heavy pro-abort district of the secular rich will be slow in coming around. But with other Republican pro-aborts the signal will be to change and change quick.

It will be catching with some regular Democrats. Look upon it as the equivalent of gun-control. Remember when the Democrats and RINO Republicans were hot for the assault weapon ban? Then 1994 saw more than 50 House seats change partially due to reaction to too-stringent gun measures. You saw what happened yesterday to the bill allowing guns in the national parks, didn’t you? Democrats helped lead the way.

If the numbers hold on abortion…and I think they will since most of the change appears to come from clear, modern-designed ultra-sound perceptions (newer pictures now show faces so that the prospective parents can thrill to the fact that unborn little Charlie has a nose just like his grandpa)...something we pro-lifers have been pilloried for since 1973 but insisted all along…the framework will start changing on this crucially important social issue.

Not so gay rights. That will become an even stronger liberal cause celebre.

But one thing at a time. And don’t think Obama is so rigid that he can’t deviate from ideology. Look what he did on the Iraq pull-out, on building up more troops for Afghanistan. On releasing the torture photos. On military tribunals.

He hasn’t gotten to where he is by thumbing his nose at public opinion. He’s smooth as silk. Pretty soon abortion “rights” will be zip on his agenda as well. Look for him to appoint a real cipher to the Supreme Court…someone who will be able to, Obama hopes, glide to confirmation without difficulty. I think he might name Gov. Jennifer Granholm who is a pro-abort Catholic all right…but who can bob and weave with the best in answering questions. But that won’t dull the opposition.

Won’t happen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Personal Aside: Don’t Be Too Sanguine that the Senate Job Belongs to Another Kennedy. Too Much of Anything (Even Chocolate) Can Make One Sick.

Chris Kennedy.

With luck, a Kennedy fatigue is hitting the nation right now…and it might not miss Illinois. The semi-announcement via Sneed that Chris Kennedy will seek the Democratic nomination to succeed Roland Burris is timed to make us all say “whee! Another Kennedy just when Uncle Ted is fading out!” Or as they say about all Kennedys, he’s “growing.”

Now it so happens I know Chris Kennedy who runs the Merchandise Mart and like him very much. I was hoping he would stay out of politics but alas it is not to be. Thus we are in for a spate of stories that tell us after years of living in a privileged family, Chris wants to give something to the nation. John gave the nation the Bay of Pigs followed closely by demonstrated weakness which led to erection of the Berlin Wall, concluded by the Cuban Missile Crisis after which JFK decided heroically that the best counter to Khrushchev would be to step up our military presence in Vietnam.

Bobby gave something to the nation too. He warned his big brother to stop diddlying around with Judith Campbell Exner as his mistress because the lady was hot-hot-hot. No, not just in the carnal sense. J. Edgar was probing her and the frequency of telephone calls that interrupted the Great I Am from meetings of high policy.

Let’s review the bidding on the Kennedys.

It was regarded by the media as a great faux pas yesterday when Harry Reid told them that “as far as I know” Ted Kennedy, who missed a session because of cancer treatment, is okay. The AP described this as a gaffe. What are we supposed to do, avoid mentioning the imminence of death for a 77-year-old with a cancerous brain tumor who a generation ago allowed a 28-year-old woman to die of oxygen deprivation in a car he overturned while Irish drunk because he feared being nailed by the media for being out with a woman not his wife?

That’s known as the “Kennedy allowance for moral dereliction” by the media which has been going on ever since JFK slept with…among many others… Exner, the courtesan friend of Mafia boss Sam Giancana…who passed notes between the Kennedys and the Outfit outlining ways to assassinate Fidel Castro, she having been made pregnant by our legendary president which unborn child she disposed of with an abortion—by her own testimony.

Media don’t mention these things about Kennedys in polite society. Instead media say “that was in the past. Look how he’s grown since then!” Why old roué Ted who was canned from Harvard for cheating on his law exam is now the Lion of the Senate!

Back to the subject: What can we do to put another mop-haired toothy pro-abort liberal Catholic in the chamber? Will media repeat the error they made a few months ago when it subjected Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg (but she uses the surname Kennedy) to what she felt was torturous questioning about the issues. Caroline who was supposedly a front-runner for appointment to succeed Hillary Clinton turned out to be just another goof-up who hadn’t voted very often and who peppered her interviews with arrogance (asking NYT reporters if they worked for a gossip sheet: she had an in with the front office) and a series of “ya know-ya-know-ya-know’s.”

She is divorced and very close to dauphin prince heir Arthur [Pinch] Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times who has split from his wife. The newspaper thought it was just ducky to have Caroline Kennedy represent the state in the Senate—but it didn’t happen, after which the paper criticized the governor who made a different appointment.

Let’s see: who else among the stellar litany of Kennedys have been in politics? Let’s see, there’s Ted’s son Patrick J., a pro-abort Catholic who is a congressman from Rhode Island who has admitted being treated for cocaine use as a teenager and sought treatment for an OxyContin addiction in 2006, who was accused of pushing a security guard at LAX after which Los Angeles prosecutors decided not to pursue criminal charges against him but for which he paid the guard in an undisclosed civil settlement. And who abandoned a yacht off Martha’s Vineyard for which he paid $26,000 in damages in 2002.

The same year the Coast Guard was dispatched to his yacht after he and his date became embroiled in an argument off Martha’s Vineyard. Yes the same Kennedy who in 2007 refused to return $6,600 in donations from then fugitive Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu. I mean the self-same august Rep. Patrick Kennedy who crashed his 1997 Mustang into a barricade on Capitol Hill at 2:45 a.m. on May 4, 2006, appearing to be intoxicated to Capitol Hill police but who claimed he was merely disoriented from prescription drugs Ambien and Phenergan, while anonymous sources say he was seen drinking at the Hawk & Dove bar before the accident. Standard sobriety test was not administered and Kennedy was driven home by an officer. The very same Kennedy who told the press “I never worked a f------ day in my life.”

The identical Patrick Kennedy who made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs on June 13, 2006, being sentenced to one year probation and fined $350, ordered to attend a rehab program that includes weekly urine tests and twice-weekly meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous. Of course, the self-same Patrick Kennedy who on April 15, 2006 was involved in an accident in Portsmouth, Rhode Island to whom Rhode Island police did not issue a citation notwithstanding that a woman witness said Kennedy was impaired, his handwriting on the police report unintelligible. Yes that’s the same Kennedy who joined his father in endorsing Barack Obama in 2008 as “the perfect antidote to George Bush.”

Then there’s Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a pro-abort Catholic, who was elected lieutenant governor of Maryland but who lost the governorship in 2002 but has a kind of religious fervor, having written a book announcing that churches “have lost their way”: “Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way.” Mixing God with politics: God, that’s one thing the Kennedys never did. When they managed to get their annulments, God wasn’t involved in the slightest, was He? And the Churches they dealt with, principally in the Boston archdiocese, knew the way to the money font, didn’t they?

Followed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. the Catholic pro-abort environmentalist who at age 30 was arrested in a Rapid City, South Dakota airport for heroin possession after having been found unconscious in the bathroom with a needle stuck in his arm, leading to a search of his carry-on bag that uncovered 183 milligrams of heroin. He was named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” and says “as an environmentalist I support wind power.” Wind power is right.

Concluded for now with Kerry Kennedy, Catholic pro-abort who was married to Andrew Cuomo, now New York AG who have since divorced, the author of the book “Being Catholic Now” and writer of the article “Women’s Rights Still Not Perfect in America.” A shame she can’t try that title on the late Mary Jo Kopechne, locked in that blue Oldsmobile, gasping for breath, about whom her uncle, a friendly biographer notes, never could bring himself to admit that he caused her death.

So you can see from this lustrous list that all of us are waiting for Chris to officially enter and lead us…where? Anywhere the media want us to go. Starting with his announcement that he is a pro-abort Catholic. On and on.

Chris--anything you can do to avoid killing somebody will be a decided plus for one who may…or may not (as I suspect)…become the next Senator Kennedy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Personal Aside: Angels & Demons? A Lying Anti-Catholic Novel Brings Religious Hatred to the Big Screen…with Opie Directing.


Angels & Demons.

It’s payback time for the Catholic Church which stands for such anti-social things as marriage between man and woman, marital fidelity, preserving human life from conception through birth to natural death…enough to enrage one Dan Brown, a former songwriter and pop singer who undertook to mislead the public by conjuring up a conspiratorial tale with the Catholic Church as demon in the book “The Da Vinci Code” —a tale alleging that “all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in [the] novel are accurate.”

What a laugh! He describes the Opus Dei prelature as a “religious order” with its leading protagonist “an Opus Dei monk.” Simple checking would have told Brown that it is not a religious order and that it has no monks whatever. Brown carried on the fiction as he rolled in the millions by declaring that his work is “research-intensive” and “entirely factual.”

As Satan is the progenitor of lies, it is clear that the work is demonic as well as a published sacrilege. It is only natural that Hollywood would seek to exploit its longtime grudge with moral absolutes to produce a film directed by none other than Ron Howard, formerly the innocent little Opie Taylor in the Andy Griffith TV series. As demonism is its own reward conferred by the Prince of this World, the film has garnered $758 million worldwide.

The theory…much accepted by some liberal nominally “Catholic” women I know (angered that they can’t be priests)…is that the hideous old Church, flailing around in hatred of women, has concealed for 2000 years the fact that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene whose body is in fact the Holy Grail and a group was formed…principally Opus Dei…to preserve the secret. Of course the female lead in the film played by Audrey Tautou turns out to be a descendant of Christ and Magdalene—just so happens. Probably the most damning condemnation was made by Sir Ian McKellan who played in the picture: “While I was reading the book I believed it entirely…Bu when I put it down I thought, `What a load of codswallop!”

Now the balding, 55-year-old Howard and his star Tom Hanks have produced another, a film based on a book that was written prior to “The Da Vinci Code” but which has the same demonic inspiration, “Angels & Demons.” It is riddled with error posing as fact. “The Wanderer,” the oldest national Catholic weekly for which I write a column, has researched it and here are two of many examples. As I write it’s about midnight on Monday so I’ll complete this tomorrow with more clarifications of the scurrilous lies written by Brown, perpetrated by actor Tom Hanks and propagated by the balding, red-haired, buck-toothed, grinning, gaping director Howard:

1. Hank discovers evidence that an ancient secret society, “The Illuminati” has surfaced in Rome and intends to detonate an “antimatter” bomb in the Vatican during the conclave to elect a new Pope. The book maintains that CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) has produced particles of antimatter “the most powerful energy source known to man” whose “single gram…contains the energy of a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb—the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.” CERN says it is not possible to use antimatter as an energy source: “It would be very dangerous if we could make a few grams of it but it would take billions of years.”

2. The film says, “Outspoken scientists like Copernicus…were murdered. Murdered by the [Catholic] Church for revealing scientific truths. Religion has always persecuted science.” Copernicus [1473-1543] was a devout Catholic who devised the theory that the earth revolves around the sun. He dedicated his theories to Pope Paul III. Copernicus died of natural causes.

3. Hanks says to his girl friend (the descendant of Christ, I mean): “Aha! This is the traditional seal of the Vatican—the sacred symbol of the Holy See or `holy seat’ of government, the seat being literally the ancient throne of St. Peter!”

Peter never had a throne in Rome or anywhere else. He was constantly on the run in Rome while he was building the Church and evading those who eventually murdered him by crucifixion around AD 65.

4.“In 1857 Pope Pius IX decided that the accurate representation of the male form might incite lust inside the Vatican. So he got a chisel and mallet and hacked off the genitalia of every single male statue inside Vatican City. He defaced the words of Michelangelo, Bramante and Bernini”

Sorry, Piux IX was a grand benefactor of Italian art and art historians have not identified any Michelangelo statuary that had been so defaced.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Personal Asides: Notre Dame Protest Went Well…Axelrod Slur Against Miss California Contradicts Obama’s High-Flown Rhetoric…How Liberal MSM Almost Gave Us John Edwards.


Notre Dame Protest.

My pro-life activism began right after “Roe v. Wade” in 1973 and granted, when compared to others in the movement I am a relative newcomer—but I have headed two pro-life organizations and have never seen nationally a more successful protest than the one carried out yesterday against Notre Dame for inviting Barack Obama to address its graduation class and to give him an honorary doctorate of laws. Three points:

1.The arrests and disturbances on campus were salutary but there was no violence. 2. A high point was the turn-down of the Laetare medal by Mary Ann Glendon, a high-minded refusal of what was intended as a cynical balancing act by the Notre Dame p. r. department. 3. The coincidental report by Gallup that pro-lifers are now in the majority vs. pro-aborts helped boost the coverage. I thought the coverage by and large was fair and respectful of the pro-life position.

Axelrod’s Slur Against Miss California.

You have perhaps been touched by the words of President Obama at Notre Dame calling for “open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words” in debates on cultural issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Touching. Very touching. But as usual with the Obama White House, they don’t follow their own high-minded advice. Take David Axelrod who just before Obama delivered his stirring encomium, described Carrie Prejean, Miss California, as a dog for the only reason that she opposes gay marriage.

Axelrod whom I’ve debate many times in years past…before he became the media guru to Obama…is reputed for his so-called devastatingly clever wit and is celebrated for brilliant slash and burn tactics. He rarely gets tabbed with the blame because his best lines are usually leaked to favorite media writers without his name attached. But last week he made sure his name was attached. He appeared on the haughty NPR high-brow-toned “Wait-wait! Don’t Tell Me!” When the subject of Obama’s dog came up and how he got his name, Axelrod couldn’t help himself.

He said that he was called in to judge the efficacy of three names proposed for the Portuguese Water Dog who was eventually called “Bo.” Axelrod said his first suggestion was that the dog would be named “Miss California.” An obvious heavy slur at Carrie Prejean…referring to her as a dog, an insult delivered to women by men of another era…meaning ugly, stupid. He imparted that slur to a young 21-year-old whose only offense to extreme radical-liberal sneerers like Axelrod is that she supports marriage’s definition as between a man and a woman. Axelrod’s supposedly devastating barb evoked gales of laughter from the superciliously liberal NPR radio audience.

If I had been on the show with him (as we have in the past) I would have countered with the suggestion that the dog be named “David Axelrod’s Mama.” Meaning that he who calls a beautiful young woman a dog should be termed what he is: a son of a bitch.

Zombie Media’s Responsibility for John Edwards.

In the heat of tumescent passion, liberal media…acting like adolescent rockers who jump excitedly up and down as they wait for the concert to begin…gave us JFK, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—each worst than the last. They very nearly gave us an all-time worst.

I refer to John Edwards who with no legislative record became one of liberal media’s golden boys…rising from a half-term of back bench obscurity in the Senate where he did nothing at all to try for the vice presidency in 2000. . Then he tried again for national office in 2004, becoming the Dem veep nominee with early dibs on the presidential nod four years later.

Edwards claimed to be the son of a South Carolina textile “mill-hand” (actually he was a supervisor). He was the first of his family to go to college, graduating from North Carolina state and the U of NC law school. Specializing in the plaintiff bar, when very young he became a successful personal injury lawyer, trading on his Gentlemen’s Quarterly good looks. He was the first to hire focus groups as ad agencies do to help him adopt down-home language that would impress juries.

In a short time he became the hottest trial lawyer in the south: winning verdicts of $152 million. Thirty percent and more would go to the winning lawyer which enabled Edwards to amass a fortune of nearly $50 million. In January, 1997 he took the case of a 9-year-old girl seriously injured by a faulty swimming pool drain. In his summary statement to the jury, Edwards brought up his 16-year-old son Wade who had been killed in a Jeep accident a year before. Now listen carefully because you will hear this again: Edwards said he was so torn up by the loss that he climbed up on the mortuary slab and held the dead body tightly in his arms, pledging to validate his dead son’s great promise by eternally representing people victimized by big business…as with the case of his little girl client.

The jury wiped its eyes of flowing tears and gave him a victory. With that verdict alone he won $25 million in compensatory damages, the biggest jury award in North Carolina history.

Now, fiery, young (45) and pencil-thin, frequently primping his boyish hair style before the mirror, with a finely chiseled profile, natural smile and slim torso that competed with Tom Cruise, he was (a) a recognized trial lawyer, (b) very wealthy and (c) a 3-time state marathon finisher. So he decided to run for the Senate in 1998, billing himself first as a lawyer for the hard-pressed middle class…but later after focus groups weighed in, portrayed himself as advocate for the poor and powerless, soft-pedaling that his practice was based on suing doctors and driving up health costs for hard-pressed citizens while earning himself millions.

Ex-poor boy now lawyer for the poor: This tag is what attracted big liberal media. He beat 51% to 47% a lackluster 70-year-old Republican hog farmer incumbent with the antebellum mint julep name of Lauch Faircloth who embodied the old, rural, conservative, pitchfork North Carolina that new voters wanted to shrug off.

Right off the bat, Edwards shocked observers by pursuing a far-out liberal tack in the Senate for a senator from North Carolina—but he wanted to serve only one term and either go up or out. He became vehemently pro-abortion and pro-gay rights, urging repeal of the Defense of Marriage act under Clinton, opposing a proposed amendment defending marriage as being only between a man and a woman, endorsing “universal health care,” casting votes at odds with his state including supporting a liberal trade bill with China even though his state’s textile industry could lose much.

Edwards’ term would expire in 2004 so he had to get a move on. In 2000 he strove to become Al Gore’s veep nominee at the Dem national convention. He wasn’t picked but spoke to delegations in Massachusetts, New York and California, adopting a cosmopolitan approach with a stem-winding style tuned to a honey-flavored southern accent and got marked as a comer. He sold his law practice for $5 million and bought a $3.5 million mansion in the high-toned ultra-liberal Georgetown section of Washington where denizens drink together and empathize about the black, poor and dispossessed—but where none live.

As his term wound down, hustler in a hurry Johnny Edwards did all the things hip liberal candidates must do. He flew to England to talk with Tony Blair. He got on Comedy Central to trade jokes with Jon Stewart. He burnished his liberal credentials by joining with the teachers’ unions to oppose school vouchers. He prepared for the 2004 presidential election where he strove to be different from others in the Democratic pack. Enunciating for the first time that “there are two Americas, one for the rich and powerful and the other for the poor,” he intrigued the New York Times because of his litmus-test liberalism, highly unusual for a southerner. The paper was thrilled, calling him “the next Bill Clinton”—proving to be righter than it knew. Vanity Fair said he was “the perfect politician.” People magazine named him “the sexiest politician” in its “sexiest people alive” issue.

All the while, he collected tons of both hard and soft money from the trial bar for his “New American Optimists” PAC and set up an exploratory committee for president in`04. He revved up the phrase “ordinary people” in every speech, promoting the “two Americas,” declaring George W. Bush ran a government for insiders. In essence, he ran a populist, left-of-center campaign…differing from other challengers (Sen. John Kerry [Mass.], ex-Gov. Howard Dean [Vt.], Gen. Wesley Clark,[Ark.] Cong. Dennis Kucinich [Ohio], Sen. Joe Lieberman [Conn.] ex-House majority leader Dick Gephardt [Mo.], Rev. Al Sharpton,[NY] ex-Sen. Carol Moseley Braun [Ill.] and Sen. Bob Graham [Fla.]) articulating a wide southern “yawl” accent causing some major Dem strategists to believe his persona could attract some southern and northern states which might otherwise go to Bush.

In the 2004 presidential primary heat he faced a John Kerry who initially had experienced a tough time resurrecting a campaign that sputtered in the field—but Kerry got the engine going to win the Iowa caucuses (Edwards placing second). But then Kerry really triumphed in New Hampshire and went on to win smashing victories in Arizona, South Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin to win the nod. Edwards was totally out of gas at the end but the final vote totals showed he had run second to Kerry nationally.

Immediately, Edwards put on his earnest, hangdog look and sought to importune his way onto the ticket as Kerry’s vice president, letting Kerry in on the supposed hitherto secret fact (remember this from his earlier personal injury trial summation?) that in 1996 after the car accident that took his son’s life, he had climbed onto the mortuary slab next to the body and promised he would spend the rest of his life…not fighting exploitative big business but to serve America in government…begging Kerry to give Edwards that chance to serve the country by naming him his vice president.

The only trouble was that like others in the Senate, Kerry had heard Edwards use the story before and was turned off by the cynically maudlin appeal. Yet at the end he gambled on the possible appeal Edwards would have in marginal states and picked Pretty John for veep.

With the Kerry-Edwards loss to Bush-Cheney in 2004 (Bush 50.7% with 286 electoral votes; Kerry 48.3% with 251), Edwards, now a private citizen, went back to the drawing board for a run in 2008. The day after his concession speech, he appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live! and said his wife, Elizabeth, had breast cancer. That story drew national headlines and sympathy. Further, he said he renounced personal injury law but would do largely philanthropic work. He took on some highly visible lectureships with universities. outlining programs he said would “end poverty.” He came out against the appointments of John Roberts and Sam Alito to the Supreme Court to further massage the liberal vote for `08. At the same time, his wife Elizabeth endorsed same-sex marriage.

Now, rich as he already was, he decided to rustle up some cash.

So he invested some of his personal funds with, and became senior adviser to, the Fortress Investment Group in Manhattan. Ah but a mistake. It developed the company…specializing in sub-prime loans…foreclosed on dispossessed and homeless victims of Hurricane Katrina. When the Wall Street Journal reported this, Edwards announced he would donate money to help the Katrina poor. So he invested $100,000 in the radical group ACORN, thus ingratiating himself with the radical leftwing community group.

Now he prepared for the big denouement of his life. A private citizen but as one who had benefited hugely from favorable media in his scant, unproductive Senate term, he was off and running in 2007 for president in 2008. On March 22, 2007 in the middle of his presidential campaign, he announced that his wife’s breast cancer had returned and was diagnosed as Stage IV with metastases to the bone and possibly the lung. No longer curable but however treatable, the story gained national coverage. The duo said they would however go on with the campaign as partners. The media was ecstatic.

There was only one problem. He and his wife had a secret. In 2006, Edwards had conducted a sexual affair—and very possibly sired a child--with a female campaign video-photographer. He told his wife, then continued with the affair… all the while playing the family man candidate, devoted to his cancer-stricken wife who courageously campaigned with him…the two playing a ruse on their campaign staff, donors and the media. They continued his campaign for president and hers for First Lady, , reasoning that, after all, Bill Clinton had survived Gennifer Flowers so why couldn’t he?

The first glimmer of the truth came in October, 2007 from a very unpopular, racy rag and to the eyes of many a somewhat disreputable source—The National Enquirer. The Enquirer is not a paper you want to be seen perusing while on a bus. Still, it had broken numerous stories and it is a testimonial to the refusal of the mainstream media to be detoured from their ideology that the story was ignored from the fall of 2007 until July, 2008.

Bob Schieffer of CBS News, chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation…and a close friend of Edwards’…said to radio host Don Imus that he was going to ignore the story since rumors pop up every day. That was nothing less than unethical big media collaboration with a presidential candidate. Whenever you see Schieffer on the Sunday network, remember, he deserves to have been fired for journalistic malpractice.

But even without media’s investigation, the campaign seemed to go pfffft. Pretty John was beaten soundly by Obama and/or Hillary Clinton. He ran 2nd in Iowa, 3rd in New Hampshire, 3rd in Nevada, 4th in South Carolina (Edwards’ home state) and 4th in Florida. Obama was almost tied with Clinton but the heart of the Democratic party was with the first African American to be a major presidential candidate. Edwards was all but a dead letter—but there was always the vice presidency with Obama!

Then Edwards was discovered by the self-same Enquirer reportorial team visiting his ex-mistress and her child at midnight at the Beverly Hilton hotel! He was cornered by the rag newspaper at her hotel in the middle of the night, stammered, ran into the Men’s Room and hid, calling hotel security on his cell phone to escort him out without answering questions.

Now the liberal media couldn’t ignore it and so on August 28, 2008 John Edwards was forced to admit to ABC News that his earlier denial had been a lie. He denied he was the father of the baby. An associate of a personal injury law firm close to Edwards named Andrew Young, manfully claimed he was the father. But that dodge didn’t wash. He was so happily married that nobody believed him.

Blaming himself for being afflicted with narcissism, Edwards did the obvious: he took himself out of the veep pool. But narcissism kicked in again and days later he put himself back in the Dem veep pool, saying “I’m prepared to seriously consider anything, anything [Obama] asks me to do for our country.”

But John Edwards’ presidential joy-ride was over.

Now feds are studying whether election laws were broken due to $100,000 payments were made to his mistress from his campaign fund which is against the law, the law mandating if found guilty he will serve a maximum of 10 years and pay a $10,000 fine. Elizabeth Edwards has launched a nation-wide media tour to sell her tell-all book. On Oprah! she said she doubted the baby is John’s. That was a mistake, triggering the ex-mistress to demand a DNA test to prove whose baby it was: for the first time she said it was Edwards’.

Now consider: Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if, as much of the liberal media wanted, he had been elected president or vice president? That he wasn’t is not the fault of Big Mainstream Media which flunked the test media are supposed to fulfill: examining candidates on character and fitness. Rather than do that, much of Big Media, notably Bob Schieffer, aided and abetted deception and ruse.

The moral of the Edwards story for us to ponder: He almost made it to the top because of the corrupt liberal media. The same media which terms abortion “choice” and sodomy a “civil right.” And have huckstered for us a President Obama who, like Edwards, had not completed his first Senate term and who under normal circumstances…if powerful media were not interfering with cries of “racism”…could very well be disqualified from service under the Constitution’s Article II—refusing to corroborate the requisite that a president must be a “natural born” citizen: accepting a facsimile of his original birth certificate. A charge that would have been lodged against anyone else is not going to be accepted by big media against Obama because they have decided that a challenge is code for “racism.”

Thus with media’s cooperation…indeed active collaboration…we have a president who says he will not rest he reformulates the American economic system to the sub-status of socialized Europe with a tripartite formula: nationalized health, federalized education from k-1 to college and a cap and trade carbon cash-cow tax that pays for the other two.

How to beat this leftwing media cycle of deception? Electing good people is key. But remember from this old cynic who has spent almost all his life either in media or politics: all politicians…Dems and Republicans, conservatives and liberals… are bottom-feeders, meaning they jostle each other at the trough to slurp up support and all but 1% say what they think will please. So at the top is where the substantive change should come: and that means reforming the culture-- radically formulating our education, revitalizing our religious zeal, patronizing only media outlets that love their country, seeing that our youth learn U.S. history, that they nurture belief in God and…choosing the best and brightest not necessarily for the purpose of running for office… but even more essentially, to go into journalism where they follow the ethical canons of news reporting and analysis.

In summary: pick good candidates and vote. But join with others to revolutionize the culture, return journalism to what it once was by making the necessary changes at the top.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Personal Asides: Pelosi Running Speakership into Real Danger by Calling the CIA a Liar...Toddler Will Play Race Card—and How!



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s news conference and assault on the CIA yesterday could have national repercussions…and disastrous ones…for the Democrats. So bad was her performance that even her supporters were aghast. The low-point was that after the conference when reporters were congregating outside her office door conferring with her staff, Speaker Pelosi opened the door and said: Don’t you guys have anything to do? Grrrr.

Even now thanks to the compliant, hugely pro-liberal mainstream media, few people realize how dangerous she is to the Democratic party with her continued charge that the CIA lied to her about water-boarding and that the agencies “lied to the Congress all the time.” Everyone in Washington legislative leadership knows you don’t go blasting the CIA which is as vicious an enemy to have as the IRS.

Her war with the CIA could lead to her possible dumping by the Democratic caucus. And here’s why.

Most think rightly that her adherence to her line that the CIA lied to her is just a political stratagem to avoid embarrassment—but right as this is, few know the CIA’s ability to ruin a congressional figure by the knack of selective leaking. And the fact that Pelosi is second in line for the presidency could well become a danger to the Democratic party. As a former foreign service officer during part of the Nixon years, I can tell you that one can oppose the CIA but if anyone says the agency has lied, it’s a major deal.

Let’s review the bidding.

It starts out with this incontrovertible truth: Nancy Patricia D’Alesandro Pelosi, 69, one of the richest members of Congress, is a hot-tempered Italian flibberty-gibbet and a 14 carat flake who doesn’t know the score, doesn’t know the issues but hates-hates-hates very well.

In the early days of the “war on terror,” Pelosi was ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence committee (run by Republican Porter Goss who ultimately became CIA director). In those years everybody…Democrats and Republicans…was concerned about a recurrence of terrorist attacks and the agency briefed key legislative leaders on plans to prevent these attacks by outlining how they could get captured terrorists to talk. Including water-boarding.

The briefing sessions by the CIA were held for key congressional leaders beginning in the fall of 2002. They were non-controversial then because Democrats along with Republicans wanted to avoid looking soft on terrorists. With few exceptions, those who attended the meetings say the CIA was above-board about water-boarding. Those who maintain the agency wasn’t are very-very weak about it and are doing so likely to spare Pelosi disaster: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and ex-Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.)

When Obama blistered “torture” under the Republicans and Pelosi followed suit, the House Republican leadership ignited the issue by saying she was complicit because she had heard about the water-boarding and had not protested. The agency itself leaked documents from the briefings showing that Pelosi attended a session on Sept. 2, 2002 along with Goss…one of 40 such briefings for members of Congress… and that the specific briefing Pelosi attended “was on enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah…and a description of the particular EITs that had been employed.” The leak was damning in that it all but showed Pelosi is a liar. The document is in the form of a chart outlining 13 such briefings attended by Democrats as well as Republicans, including Rockefeller and Graham.

The consensus is that Pelosi and others were almost certainly given thorough briefings by the agency including facts on water-boarding for the express purpose that CIA always wants to cover its backside with the Congress. As one who has dealt with the CIA as a staffer with a House ranking member on Foreign Affairs and later as a foreign service officer…and who in that capacity attended such briefings…I can tell you that it would not have been in the agency’s interest to withhold that information for fear of a terrible backlash that could jeopardize its congressional funding.

And it is ALSO a certainty that the CIA would NOT have told Goss and 38 others one thing about water-boarding and withheld the information from Pelosi. In fact, Pelosi took to the House floor to congratulate Goss on the fair way in which he ran the committee and to laud the CIA for doing its job admirably. If Pelosi was as opposed to water-boarding then as she is now, she could easily…as a leader of Congress…raised the issue and threatened (along with others) to hold back the agency funding.

She did none of these things. In fact she praised the agency. That was then. But as 2008 neared, it was to the Democrats’ advantage to stir up its left-wing base by howling at the supposed abrogation of human rights by the evil Bush administration.

Thus in 2008, with 7-1/2 years of safety from terrorist attacks the Dems as a party…and Pelosi as a leader fortified by the Left… moved to the presidential elections by seizing the liberal nettle and capitalizing on liberal sensitivities for so-called “human rights” by criticizing the Bush CIA. Pelosi herself said yesterday that she was thinking about the political ramifications of capturing control of Congress in 2008. This was seen as a sound political strategy, favored by the party’s left base and by numerous editorial boards.

With the election of Barack Obama there came his decision to placate the party’s leftward base by denouncing water-boarding and calling it “torture.” It is all part of a plan to demonize George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for the future: something the Dems want sorely to do (everywhere he went overseas a few weeks ago, Obama referred to the “mess” he inherited et al.). Back home here, he called “water-boarding” torture. Then there came the calls for a Truth Commission in the Congress…which Pelosi favors… to put the CIA on the griddle and fry the “truth” out of them, blackening the names of Bush and Cheney forevermore as devious mis-users of the CIA for their own purposes.

Now the CIA was never pro-Bush or pro-Cheney since the Iraq war began because it has taken the hit about not giving adequate intelligence concerning weapons of mass destruction…but a Truth Commission along the lines the Dems want to structure it would be dagger aimed at the agency’s heart.

Pelosi joyfully hopped aboard calling for a Truth Commission. Republicans countered with the disclosure that she is a hypocrite, that she was briefed along with other leaders in Congress on water-boarding —and by not complaining about water-boarding was complicit in what she now calls “torture.”

Pelosi countered in April with a dramatic news conference in which she insisted she was NOT told that water-boarding was going on…all but alleging the CIA had lied to her (which was denied by Republicans). This is a direct harpoon aimed at the heart of the CIA…so it retaliated with leaked information that she WAS told. Republicans who were also briefed added their fire, saying they were told about water-boarding.

Yesterday Pelosi countered with one of the most inept news conferences held by a top public figure that I have seen since I’ve been aware of politics…worse in a way than Richard Nixon’s “you won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.” At least Nixon gave it to the media straight from the shoulder and stalked out. She stumbled, stuttered, lost her place in referring to her prepared statement, contradicted her statement and ended up hugely embarrassing herself, saying that she was told by a staffer that the CIA had the ability to water-board but not that it was water-boarding. She inadvertently raised the possibility that is incredible: that conceivably the CIA told her one story and the remainder of the congress another: which would be foolhardy for the agency to do so.

Terrible p. r. for Pelosi, yes. But here’s where possible danger to her survival as Speaker comes in.

Yesterday by reiterating her call for a Truth Commission, she placed directly into the Republicans’ hands. This is a damnably foolish strategy because if one is held, Republicans are going to demand to put Pelosi under oath. There is very little chance that she can prove she is telling the truth. If this follows, lying under oath is toxic for an elected official: look what it did to a hitherto popular president, Bill Clinton. It got him impeached.

Thus at the very time when the Obama administration wants to keep the focus on legislation it wants to pass, Pelosi is helping the Republicans by demanding a Truth Commission that can very likely find her lying under oath…and resulting in forcing her to resign...following Newt Gingrich who the first dumping since Newt Gingrich who lost favor with his party after a disastrous loss of GOP seats in 1998 where his popularity stood at 28% (he resigned Jan. 3, 1999) and Jim Wright [D-Texas], who was forced to resign on June 30, 1989 after a House Ethics committee voted he was complicit in financial details concerning a book he had written and his wife’s employment.

It all verifies the bad judgment made by Rahm Emanuel when he was offered the post of chief of staff under Obama…but justifies the misgivings he had when he took the post.

He wanted the job because of its potential of enormous power…but he why didn’t he look around the House and see Pelosi at 69, the majority leader Stony Hoyer, 70 (second ranking Democrat) and the House Dem Whip Jim Clyburn (S.C.) 70 (third ranking)? Emanuel at 50 was the fourth ranking as chairman of the House Democratic caucus—and a logical successor from many standpoints. He has a lock on money, principally what is indecorously called Jewish Money on the Hill. More than the money, he is regarded by liberal Jews of the U. S. as their guy…also able to romance the more militant pro-Israel types. And he is devilishly smart and for all his eruptions the one administration figure who has a secure touch with the Israelis including 86-year-old President Shimon Peres who is a dove—but also as one who militant young Rahm who was (depending on whom you talk to) as a de-facto soldier dodging Scud missiles in the 1991 bombing of Israel by Iraq…or as a stretcher-bearer…he has enormous stature with the Jews. Far more so than does Hillary Clinton.

It was a terrible choice to make…much tougher than trying to decide whom he favored for the presidency, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama (since Obama was from Illinois it was a no-brainer: Obama). But by moving out of the House, Emanuel short-circuited his career. He knows it now. It was a great mistake for him…a terrible mistake: and unlike the astute Emanuel to have made. Chief of staff is a powerful post but it’s not a growth job like Speaker of the House for Chrissake. For proof, who were George W. Bush’s chiefs of staff? Joshua Bolten and Andrew Card. Know them? Where are they today? Who are the other chiefs of staffs under Bill Clinton? John Podesta…Erskine Bowles who worked for Carter? Where are they now? On and on. God, the more he thinks of it the more he KNOWS he made a stupid mistake in not staying in the House. He’d be the logical one RIGHT at age 50 to become Pelosi’s successor and after that the first Jewish president. What the hell happened to his reasoning power?

Oh well…calm down. boy. You can still turn it around.

What Rahm has to do is to cool the uproar down—or his boss’ program will be tied up in knots as Eisenhower’s was during the Army-McCarthy hearings. He has to: (a) sit down with Leon Panetta (ah, there’s a former White House chief of staff who’s found something useful to do, heading the CIA: big deal) and try to work something out…remembering that the CIA underbelly which really runs the joint doesn’t value Panetta in the slightest…(b) cool down Pelosi who is a hot-blooded Italian woman in a rage and also very unstable since she knows she’s boxed herself in but doesn’t want to apologize her way out of it…(c) soothe the important Left base that wants the Truth Commission to eviscerate Bush and Cheney alive…(d) placate Hoyer who hates Pelosi, blames her (rightly) for creating the mess and figures that if she is dumped, he’ll be Speaker…

(E) Cuddle Rep. Jane Harmon (D-Calif.), rich, Jewish and like Rahm close to Israel and who hates Pelosi and who Pelosi hates in return but who has far more smarts than Pelosi and knows the intelligence community inside out. She gives lip-service to Pelosi…and will make an effort to substantiate what Pelosi says to save her neck but Harmon’d like nothing better than to see her arch-enemy go out the door. But he has to convince Harmon it’s in her interest to help the crazy Italian now.

And when HE has time…and imagining he still has the burning ambition of the old Rahm I used to know 20 years ago…he should plot about how to get the hell out of this chief of staff job and get back in the House…in another Illinois district…by the time the old-timers—Pelosi, Hoyer, Clayburn—start turning officially senile: Pelosi sounds like she already started. He’ll have to work it so the legislature gives him a district (likely some part of the North Shore where he was reared) to run from so as a freshman—but still weathered and savvy—he can slip back to his old digs and start edging those tottering seniors out the door.


Todd Stroger has a problem…ah but there’s only one way out—and he’s figured out the way. The Daleys and everyone else in the white Democratic party…plus some acquiescent blacks…want him to opt out of running for reelection as president of the Cook county board. Well, the way the Toddler looks at it, why the hell should he? The way to stay in is to play the race card the way few have played it…running against the white bosses and their Tom surrogates who want him out, as a kind of martyr…building a rapport with poor blacks who know what it is to run into troubles with the tax man…fomenting a beautiful conspiracy surrounding Forrest Claypool—the white, southern Illinois WASP—who wants to take over…pointing out that time was when Illinois had a black U. S. Senator but now blacks are downgraded in powerful offices, not window-dressing offices (likely only Jesse White will survive unless he, Todd, makes it).

Time was when Cook county had a black county board president but they’re now after him…that all Toni Preckwinkle is, is a refined black lady who sleeps white (her husband, Zeus, is Caucasian)…that she has a lot of mileage on her vis-à-vis Tony Rezko. And she and Larry Rogers are put into the mix to cut up the black vote and give the nomination to Claypool. And the white-dominated media is for Claypool and agrees with the Daleys that Todd must go. The plan is to replace Burris with either that semi-crooked Alexi Giannoulias or goo-goo white multi-millionaire Chris Kennedy. And Forrest Claypool for president. Well, the hell with them.

That’s what The Toddler has figured out he must do. And as of now he’s prepared to do it.