Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thought While Shaving: Joe Walsh—Too Poor for Congress?

   Feast of  St. Casmir*
                 The suburban-based  Daily Herald… engaged in its usual task of helping elect Democrats…has just contrived a unique scandal to bar a conservative  Republican from going to Congress.   He is poor. He is having trouble making ends meet. The bank repossessed his condo. 
                Russell Lissau’s lede (aka “lead”) or beginning point in the story of March 3, says: 
                 “A suburban congressional candidate who’s stressed the need for fiscal restraint lost a condominium to foreclosure last October, the same month he announced his bid for office, court records show.”    
                 Hinted-at “moral” of the snidely written story by Lissau:    By no means should someone who is facing  this grueling experience which faces tens of millions in this recession be allowed to go to the U.S. House where matters of taxation and public spending are resolved. 
               Meaning that… 
               The House of Representatives…or “the people’s house” as Thomas Jefferson (who died in  bankruptcy by the way)… described it and for which he wrote its first parliamentary rules…should not be tainted by anyone who has had trouble in making do in an economic downturn. 
               The Herald has found…presumably to its and its liberal editors’ presumed horror…that Joe Walsh the 8th district GOP nominee used to own a condo…which went into foreclosure and Walsh and wife and children lost it to the bank: get that!  
        In responding to the Herald, Walsh said “I am not a wealthy man.” He and his family lived the past few years on salary that averages $40,000 a year.  Forty grand?  In Washington D. C. 40 grand is what you pay a kid to do spare office work part-time on a computer (of course it’s paid by the taxpayers).   
               Who is this rascal wastrel Walsh, this-this shirker of fiscal restraint? 
              After graduating with a masters in public policy from the University of Chicago, Walsh did social work in the Chicago inner city, taught U.S. history in community colleges and ran a non-profit that rewarded the disadvantaged with private vouchers for education.  After his marriage ended in divorce, Walsh got the condo.  Four years later he remarried, needed a bigger place. With their family now of 5 kids, he got one and put the condo up for sale but that was 2008 at the beginning of the big downturn and no takers. So the bank has it. Big deal.  And greatly different from the trials besetting the average family. 
               I know that when you read this you will agree with me that… 
               Consider Lissau’s Daily Herald lede again:  
              “A suburban congressional candidate who’s stressed the need for fiscal restraint lost a condominium to foreclosure…”  
               That lede is so ridiculous I vouch it would be blue-penciled in any responsible city room…including that of The Chicago Reader where a copy editor as good as say Mike Miner (my favorite media columnist) would, I believe,  shove it back to Lissau and say “please…try again. Remember our readers deserve better.” It implies Walsh lost his condo through lack of personal fiscal restraint.  
                Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. Lissau doesn’t know—nor does he claim to…so why the dirty innuendo except for politics?. 
              And since he know, it’s an implied insult to readers who have shared Walsh’s problem to suggest lack of personal fiscal restraint caused the foreclosure when any objective study of the mortgage meltdown shows government’s responsibility in abandoning traditional lending standards and substitution of 100% loans as the Fed made banks flush with reserves to lend.  
                As a matter of fact, it can be argued that Walsh’s bitter personal experience with his condo makes him more highly qualified than most to Congress basis his own case history.   Lincoln’s failure at storekeeping and Truman’s bankruptcy in a clothing store were not impediments—in fact they may have been advantageous since they learned from hard knocks  what average folk must.  
              Lissau’s implied condemnation of Walsh as being fiscally imprudent in his own personal affairs suggests the journalist’s reliance on…oh let me guess…someone like Eric Adelstein, the surrogate of David Axelrod, who steered Melissa Bean, the Democratic congresswoman whom Walsh is opposing to her initial victory. I know Eric well having watched Bean enter my WLS studio with an aide representing Eric…an aide who sat next to her during the interview with an open loose-leaf book of boilerplate issues from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aka the D triple C lest she make a mistake.   It was the only time I allowed such a thing for which I have been kicking myself ever since.  
              Now concerning the beneficiary of the Herald story and its prior warm, adulatory editorial baths, Melissa Bean… 
              Remaining demurely silent and ostensibly non-judgmental concerning Walsh’s poverty is Democrat Bean who does not have to face eviction or loss of homes (she maintains two of them) as she is drawing down $174,000  annually.  She can’t be evicted from her offices as the taxpayers pay for them.   
              Bean is protected from falling into poverty through her own miscalculations by an excellent pension plan gratis taxpayers, excellent medical care and hospitalization if she requires it at Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval or any other comparable facility gratis taxpayers.   She does not have to rustle up funds to travel because she gets  federal travel back and forth from Illinois gratis taxpayers.   Postage for her office is paid for her as is the usual services of  any office—phones, emails, faxesgratis taxpayers.   She does not have to dig down deep to pay for staffs in Washington and here, plus pension gratis taxpayers.  
               Her $174,000 yearly salary is automatically raised on a cost of living basis gratis taxpayers and she doesn’t have to undergo the embarrassment of voting for her own raise (Congress has to reject it and it doesn’t do so) gratis the House under both Dem and GOP leadership with the raises paid gratis taxpayers.  
              If she chooses to arrange foreign travel as part of her congressional prerogative and it is approved by her committee of her political party, it will be gratis taxpayers. Why just recently a 5-day trip to Germany was taken by two senators and their spouses which included side excursions along the Rhine which amounted to $70,000 per person not counting cost of travel by military aircraft.  Gratis taxpayers.  
              Is poverty or modest net worth a horrible contemplation for the electorate of the 8th district which Bean represents?   I don’t know how poor the average person is who enters congressional service…but I know that Dick Armey saved rent money by sleeping on his office couch at night and using the washstand to shave…and that Mike Quigley has done or still does the same—but history does tell us about how poor some of our founding fathers became after public service. 
             After he left the presidency, Jefferson, author of the Declaration, former governor of Virginia, founder of the University of Virginia, 3rd president of the United States was so hounded by creditors that he put Monticello…his dream home…up for sale at an auction—offering it up to bidders who paid $10 for the privilege of bidding on it. Beclouded with tears, he couldn’t watch the process. The winner of the auction couldn’t stand it either—so he contributed it back to its owner.   
              Jefferson’s prospects didn’t improve. After he died in 1826 at age 83, his family had to sell Monticello to pay his massive debts. 
             Following his White House years, the 5th president, James Monroe, had to sell his mansion in Oak Hill, Virginia…designed by Jefferson… to pay his debts. After his wife’s death he  moved to New York city to live with his daughter and her husband. He spent most of his days walking New York city streets lost in thought.  Given the poor communications of the era, the passers-by had no recognition of the tall, 6-footer, the last Revolutionary war officer to serve as president and the architect of the “Era of Good Feelings.”  
             And Andrew Jackson, the 7th president, retired to his estate The Hermitage with a total of $90 in his pocket.  He borrowed from friends to keep up the 1,200-acre farm and hoped to recoup from sale of cotton, his major crop.  Covering the debts of his adopted son, Andrew, Jr. worsened his finances. He was spared from losing his farm by the intercession of friends when the country was hit by the economic depression following the panic of 1837.  
             I somehow doubt that The Daily Herald would judge Jefferson, Monroe, Jackson, of course, as purveyors of lack of fiscal restraint.  But then, Jefferson, Monroe and Jackson are long dead.  And Joe Walsh whom the paper despises for his opposition to tax hikes and unlimited spending, could well become the next congressman and owe nothing…utterly nothing…to this wanna-be urban liberal journal.  
              Still, I am not through with Lissau or The Daily Herald.  The article says Walsh does not live within the boundaries of the 8th district, pointing out that for this he “was criticized in the media [guess which one?] and by some political opponents.”   It admits that under federal law this is allowed.  Period. 
              It doesn’t say that for a long time Bean lived outside the district as well. She still may—indeed I am informed she still resides outside the district. I suspect that is true since information about where she lives wasn’t included in Lissau’s story.   
              Hell, why botch up a good polemic and hatchet job on a conservative, eh Mr. Lissau?  
              Just another friendly gouge in the eye--from your neighborly Daily Herald people who publish Burt Constable. 
              If Joe Walsh wants to use this column to help him and his campaign, he is entitled.  He is gaining national attention for his support from the Tea Party’ers.  Unlike Bean he is for term limits.                     
      *: St. Casmir of Poland [1458-84], Prince of Poland and of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania who became patron saint of Poland, Lithuania and the young. Third of the 13 children born to King Casmir IV of Poland and Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of Emperor Albert II of Germany. He was born Prince of Poland in the royal palace at Cracow and was attracted to the religious life from early on. He had the benefit of a superb religious and intellectual education from the leading scholars of the era and area—Jan Dlugosz and Filippo Buonaccorsi.  He made his bed on the floor and spent a large portion of every night in prayer and meditation, wearing a hair-shirt and embracing voluntary celibacy for the remainder of his life. 
           At the age of 13, he was offered the throne of Hungary by factions discontented with the current king. Unwilling to serve but eager to lead the Hungarian army and defend Christianity against the Turks, Casmir came to share his soldiers’ view that the war they were expected to wage was unjust.  In doing so he won the approval of Pope Sixtus IV who felt he was doing the right thing—but Casmir’s father, Poland’s king, was angered. Casmir was called “the Peacemaker” which angered his King father even more.   So father would not allow young Casmir to return home but relegated him to a castle at Dobski.  There he remained for three months. Then Casmir disappointed his father again by refusing his command to marry the daughter of Emperor Frederick III because he was committed to celibacy.  
        While heavily into sanctity, Casmir was also ideally suited for governance and in his father’s long absences in Vilnius attending to the affairs of Lithuania, Casmir was the de facto king of Poland.  Between 1481and `83 he administered the country with great prudence and justice.  Weakened by excessive fasting he developed what is now regarded as tuberculosis.  On a journey to Lithuania he died at Hrodna at the age of 26. He is interred at Vilnius in the baroque Saint Casmir’s chapel in the Vilnius cathedral. He was canonized by Pope Adrian VI in 1522 and named patron saint of Poland and Lithuania. In 1948 Pius XII named him the special patron of all youth.


  1. Bravo! Mr. Lissau needs to get out and talk to some of the lowly readers of their paper. As a long-time subscriber, someone who has had his share of financial mis-steps, and as someone who has personally met Joe Walsh and heard him speak on two different occassions, I think I know why the Dems (and some of the Reps, too) are afraid of this guy and will take any cheap shots they can. Mr. Walsh will set a standard that dyed-in-the-wool politicians will not be able to meet - being a normal citizen of the United States. Can they not see that Americans want to truly be represented, not told what they want by people who have too much vested interest in being good little "party" politicians? Do they think that nobody is watching them spend trillions of dollars supposedly being paid for by us with money that we don't have? To them all, "You folks work for us - but not for long!" Our pockets are empty and we're not going to take it any more. We want government to go away, except for matters which continue to PROTECT our rights granted by the Constitution. Washington should handle the big stuff like that and leave the other stuff to state and local governing bodies. At least they're close enough for us to get our hands on when they screw us over. Tom, a great article!

  2. Joe Walsh has a trust fund... so does his second wife. Did you know that? He isn't poor and has been living on far more than $40k per year... get your facts straight. He is irresponsible with money and can't hold down a job... that's why he lost his condo. He turns in his son's college book receipts to his trust fund trustee then doesn't give the money back to his son who needs it for books. He is a deadbeat dad. Joe Walsh is a fake... a phoney... another Republican who talks the family values game but can't live up to it. Shame on all you supporters who don't bother to find out the truth about him.

  3. A year later and Walsh is still a laughing stock, but now he is the *th Congressional District's Mis-Representative