Thursday, January 21, 2010

Personal Aside: 99 and 44/100the % Pure: “It Floats!” Prescription’s Right for Illinois GOP.

                                                          Feast of  St. Agnes*
                            Ivory Soap: Very Good but Not Perfect. 
               As an old retired officer of a major grocery products company (Quaker Oats), I remember an everlastingly popular slogan from one of our competitors: “Ivory Soap—99 and 44/100ths percent pure.  It floats!
               The story behind the slogan is this. In 1878, the company was producing just another kind of hand soap which it called…unoriginally… “White Soap.”  Kind of catchy, huh?  Well, it wasn’t.  There were many kinds of white soap. 
              One day a factory hand left his big soap kettle bubbling while he attended to a very personal need.  Then he got involved in a conversation with some buddies. When he came back, he saw that he had been gone for far too long. The soap bars had changed drastically in  constituents and in fact were bobbing up and down on top of the steaming liquid.  The slag had melted away which had held the bars settle on the bottom of the kettle.  He was about to empty the kettle and toss the mess down the drain when he got another idea.
              He salvaged the bars of soap and took them past his immediate foreman supervisor to the office of the plant manager. The plant manager was intrigued.  They got hold of John Proctor, the owner.  The boiling process had removed almost all of the very normal impurities that affected and afflicted every other bar of soap.  Proctor decided intrinsic integrity, which soap manufacturers today continue to call purity, warranted a new name and a slogan. Voila! a major chapter in entrepreneurial history was opened.  To signify purity, a new name was given: Ivory.  And a new slogan “Ivory Soap—99 and 44/100ths percent pure: It floats!” (The factory worker was immediately promoted upstairs and died 39 years later a rich man—rewarded for his brilliant insight). 
              What sold John Proctor and what sells Ivory today is its sublime test. Just short of perfection.
                             “Yeah but Dillard Did This and That!”  

           Every so often I bump into somebody who says: “You’re for Kirk Dillard but he’s not perfect on…” and he goes on to elucidate one position out of the 24,000 a state legislator must vote on every legislative session…and one of 1,245,000 statements made in the extent of a long political career where fallibility can be perceived.
              Dillard not perfect?  No he isn’t.  Neither is the Dillard critic.  But then I was taught by my old theology professor, Father Ernie—with whom I spent 4 years in his rigorously meticulous classes (from age 17 to 21)—a valuable insight.
            “Gentlemen,” he said once, “you are very attentive but you are not perfect.  That’s because of the nature of the human condition—which is what, Mr. Roeser?”
            In my 1st year I was stumped—which proved Ernie’s point.  After the 2nd year, I could rattle this off:
            “I am not perfect because perfection means nothing is lacking which according to its nature it should possess.  That is the definition of infinite perfection which in itself has all possible excellence and excludes all deficiencies.  Only God is absolutely perfect.  The nature of virtuous humanity is that it has a finite nature and possesses all the advantages corresponding to its nature.”
            And he would say: “Right you are, Mr. Roeser—but even with those qualifications, sir, you are not perfect!”
            None of us had the guts to say “by that yardstick,  neither are you, Father Ernie!” because in those tender years, by God, we thought he was.   
            So Dillard’s  being not perfect suits me just fine. The important thing is that…for me and the things I believe…he is almost phenomenally right-on.  First things first: I’m a social conservative.  Which means legislatively I’m pro-life…and frankly a lot of sleazy things I’m against.
                                    The Key Voters’ Guide.  
            So comparing what I am with the excellently annotated Illinois Family Institute Voters Guild 2010 which was handed to me after church at Saint John Cantius last Sunday by a volunteer…here’s his record.  
           He is (a) pro-life…(b) against civil unions which extends marriage benefits for same-sex partners…(c) against medical marijuana which authorizes people to grow and possess 6 marijuana plants and 2 ounces of marijuana—which is important because what we don’t need in this country now is to send a message to youth that we’re lowering the bars on acceptance of a drug that enables them to run the risk of addiction and which when used in excess direly affects memory, judgment and cognitive ability (besides which the “medical” part is a dodge because pharmacology has many substitutes to relieve pain other than smoking grass).
             Continuing: (D) he’s against the archaic notion of an Equal Rights
Amendment which would move toward elimination of major gender distinctions and gender-distinctive organizations i.e. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and would propel women to register for Selective Service…(e) is for the Marriage Amendment that would institute a ballot referendum before Illinois voters  to enable them to decide whether the state Constitution should be amended top define marriage as between one man and one woman.
            Still continuing: and (f) is opposed to “sex education” in schools which requires them to teach so-called “age appropriate” information including (according to SEICUS which stands for “Sexual Education and Information Council of the United States”)-- a group that opposes abstinence training as detrimental to youth), including training in condom usage and presentation of homosexuality as a positive alternate life-style. 
            In addition to which he’s on record as opposing a hike in the state income tax from 3% to 4.5% and is against authorizing Illinois drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens. 
            Finally…something which wasn’t listed on the flyer…is this.  At a time when neighborhoods are threatened with the specter of lawlessness, the  goofy idea that if you take away guns from average people, crooks will somehow obey and there will once again be peace in the valley.  Not so. Far more important, as Prof. John Lott has written—without refutation—is that there should be encouragement for law abiding citizenry to own weapons and subscribe to the canons of safety…for their own protection and that of their families.
                                      Conceal Carry.

            Kirk Dillard early on was the author of the Conceal Carry bill. It didn’t pass because its commonsense flew in the face of conventional and misguided liberal “wisdom.”   But he authored it and still stands by it.
           Does this mean he’s perfect?  Of course not. Every official …even the best of them…differ from what you and I might call de rigeur. I remember 69-year-old Ronald Reagan, then the ex-governor of California, standing before the bar of criticism of right-to-lifers because as governor he mistakenly…and I say it was a huge mistake…signed into law the most liberal abortion bill in the country—rivaling the bill signed by Nelson Rockefeller of New York.  Reagan said it was a mistake.  Big mistake.  
           His critics said there was another guy running for president who had a more perfect record…not just on pro-life but on lots of things—not having ever voted for a tax hike (when Reagan had to grudgingly sign a big tax hike to balance the state budget).  They were right:  Congressman Phil Crane of Illinois was far more perfect on conservative issues than Reagan. In fact of him it could be said that he was 99 and 55/100ths % pure whereas Reagan was in the 44/100ths % category.
                                    The Rap Against Reagan.
            Phil Crane whom I knew well then, supported consistently for congressional reelection all through his nine terms in the House,  campaigned against Reagan in the New Hampshire primary saying…truthfully…that Reagan signed the biggest tax increase in California history…that he created an entirely new agency in a state that was then in technical deficit, to fight smog…that he had vowed to sign the Brady gun control bill…that as a former union leader he strenuously opposed the Taft-Hartley Act, a landmark in labor-management relations…that he supported a California constitutional amendment that allowed professedly gay teachers in public schools to teach (so long as they were not advocates of their lifestyles).  
             On all these things, Crane was right.  But somehow the people saw in Reagan not just a conservative but a personality with a kind of twinkling civility that could convince people to his side.  
              Crane got 1.8% of the vote in New Hampshire. A decent man and a patriot he went back to the House and continued to serve honorably and well.
            Reagan went on to what historians epitomize as glory.
                                  Yeah, But the Obama Ad…
            The biggest rap used by some conservatives against Kirk Dillard is that he did a TV tape that was used in an Obama commercial in 2008.  Sure. But when they say he voted for Obama, that’s the dividing point. Wrong. He voted for and campaigned for McCain.  Do I think the Obama statement was a mistake? Of course, just like I think…
             And this is far-far worse…Reagan’s support of a draconian abortion bill was…just as I think Reagan  was wrong to set up another governmental agency to fight smog when the federal was all that was needed…that he did a dumb thing by appointing Sandra Day O’Connor who was never pro-life…or that he did another dumb thing about appointing Anthony Kennedy to the Court…or that he took back his early tax cuts in his first term by yielding to a slight tax increase.  Or that he yielded to the temptation that he could bargain with the enemy ala Iran Contra—motivated by the concern he felt for the imprisoned CIA operative Buckley which impelled him to make a series of bad decisions which he owned up to.
           I could go on and on. The big things he did, though, cancelled them out (all except, in my mind, his irrevocable abortion bill signing).  He won the Cold War. He instilled the confidence that spurred the economy to prosperity. With his twinkling civility he sold the concept of traditional conservatism to the American people.  He pushed SDI which caused Gorbachev’s knees to buckle. 
                                       A Twinkling Civility.                                   
         All of which proves Fr. Ernie’s contention: we are human. We are not perfect. The only Perfect Being is God. All of us are well down the line. But the major thing is not just one’s actions, it’s what one believes.  Increasingly, modern liberalism—an respectable belief when I traveled with candidates including some Democratic ones—increasingly modern liberalism has been taken with the creed of secularism.
          …That the view of man being affected by divine providence is.;.well…embarrassingly corny…that the trouble with a seriously professed Christianity is that it postulates that God created the world and thus implies that all man’s development depends ultimately on Him (they’re right!)…that production of goods and services and the utilization of the state as ultimate Protector constitutes the real bases of society.  And this leads to the ultimate liberal heresy:  The material is the only reality—and the material is in man’s power to control. Man does not need to depend on any Deity beyond man’s own genius to transform this world into a paradise on earth.
           So I say: enough with the knit-picking. This guy said such-and-so at a church picnic 12 years ago…this guy has freckles.  It’s time to understand that what is needed to run state government is experience, sagacity, good will…all these things plus what Reagan had to got him through many a tight spot—and which Kirk Dillard has:
            God willing he will be elected and continue as the man he is…not perfect but endowed with a tough inner core…flavored with a twinkling civility.
         *: Feast of St. Agnes [circa AD 304].  From a wealthy Roman family, she was celebrated for her beauty and purity, consecrating her virginity to God. Her physical beauty ultimately did her in. She turned down many suitors and so in retribution one denounced her  as a Christian to Diocletian the Persecutor. The consummately evil Diocletian sent her to a house of prostitution assuming she would be corrupted. Far from it: she influenced for good the women inmates. Enraged, Diocletian had her beheaded. She is buried on the Via Nomentana.  Many miracles are attributed to her. She is revered as the patron of virginal innocence and is occasionally represented in Christian art as a lamb—hence agnus or Agnes.

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