Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Personal Aside: Sweet Justice Visits Specter. Rand Paul’s Victory Exciting Indeed. More.

  Feast of St. Bernardino of Siena.*
                                      Specter Outsmarted Himself.
            That canny old fox, seeing that he was going to be beaten by Pat Toomey, switched parties.  Well actually, he came home to the Democratic party because Arlen Specter started out in Philadelphia as a Democrat, then became a Republican, then as a denouement switched yet again back to the Democratic party…where…Deo Gratias…he lost to liberal Democrat Joe Sestak. 
         A few things about Specter.  (1) He typifies the worst in politicians because his only concern is saving his neck. (2)  But when he’s bought, he stays bought. Example: In 2004 he was just about defeated by Pat Toomey in the Republican primary when President George W. Bush came in to campaign for him.  The private deal they cut was this:  “Listen, Arlen.  I think we can pull you through but I gotta tell you I’m not doing this for the love of Arlen Specter because frankly, old friend, you and I have been on different sides for many issues. I wasn’t around but I can’t forgive you for knifing Bob Bork, although you did support Clarence Thomas. I can’t forgive you for opposing Rick Santorum.  But here’s the deal.  I get you reelected and you continue as chairman of Judiciary but you must…and I mean MUST…give my judges—especially Supreme Court judges—a fair shake which means…Arlen…you HAVE TO VOTE FOR THEIR CONFIRMATION.  If you say no, I’m outta here right now.  That’s the deal.  Do you say ok?” 
          Arlen said okay and Bush appeared, he sent Cheney and had his chief of staff attend a Specter fund-raiser; and Santorum did as well (which contributed to Santorum’s own defeat two years later when conservatives strayed from his fold). And Specter kept his part of the bargain. He not only voted for Roberts and Alito, he saw to it that they got confirmed.  Which meant that you can say about Specter, once bought, he stayed bought.  
          But now it’s all over. My druthers were that crafty old Arlen would win last night because he’d be duck soup for Pat Toomey to beat in November.  Joe Sestak is another pro-abort Catholic who rises above principle on social issues.   In Congress he was the highest ranking service man to be elected.  A handsome dog but I would hope that his 90% ADA record could be used against him in this conservative season.  He also is a twister, introduced a resolution to pull troops out of Iraq but continued to vote for war appropriations. 
          I think if the climate continues as it has, Pat Toomey can edge out ex-admiral Sestak.  
                                  Rand Paul: How Sweet it Is!
           Rand Paul’s smashing…and I mean smashing…victory as Republican senate nominee in Kentucky  sends the word to the country clubs that principle means something.  To me this was the delight of the night.  All that Dem talk that because he’s distinctly conservative he will be easy pickins’ for the Democrats to beat, doesn’t reflect how conservative Kentucky has become.  After all, look at Bunning (who ran into trouble only because of his erratic behavior) and Mitch McConnell and you’re going to tell me that Rand Paul is out of synch?  Sheesh!  See, I can write like a kid too. An 81 year old one. 
                                  Blanche Lincoln’s a Dead One. 
          People over at the Daily Kos who supported ultra-liberal Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter are saying that history sides with Lincoln who has won runoffs before and went on to win the general—although, assuredly, they want their pinko buddy Halter to take it.  Well…sorry not so this time. Polls have been unremitting in showing that the Republican nominee Rep. John Boozman can defeat either Lincoln or Halter.  Especially Halter.  But I think Lincoln will come out of the runoff the victor and lose to Boozman.   
                                   The Murtha District Stays Dem. 
           In the general election…the special election…to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D) in Pennsylvania 12…the John Murtha seat…the winner was Mark Critz, Murtha’s administrative assistant over Republican businessman Tim Burns.  The 12th is one of the nation’s most scenically beautiful but hardest-pressed regions, hard-bitten farmers (descendents of those who triggered the Whiskey rebellion in 1794) and now a district which is heavily coal and steel country.  The good news here is that Critz will just have time to get settled when he has to run for reelection next November when Republicans will have another crack at him. 
             All things considered, not a bad night. Not bad at all.   
*: St. Bernardino of Siena [1380-1444]. He was a Franciscan friar, born at Massa Maritima near Siena where he father was governor.  He was left an orphan in 1384 and raised by an aunt.  He showed an early interest in learning and voraciously devoured books on grammar, rhetoric, jurisprudence, theology and took a degree in canon law.  When an outbreak of epidemic broke out and many physicians and nurses died,, Bernardino and some friends took charge of a local hospital.   
      Then he joined the Franciscans as a friar, living at Colombaio near Siena where his monastic cell can still be viewed. He discovered he had a talent for preaching and was sent by his superior to Tuscany and then Milan where he became very popular.  He was given permission to be an itinerant preacher, traveling throughout Italy on foot sometimes preaching 3 or 4 hours a day.  The crowds were so large he had to use a pulpit in the open air.  He began a devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus.  He was tough on human weaknesses. He would conclude his sermons by holding up a weather-worn plaque with the initials I H S.  One day he excoriated gambling with such intensity that a local manufacturer who made cards and card-tables became impoverished. The gambling manufacturer thought for a while and then went into business making I H S plaques: and he did very well indeed.

       In 1473 he became vicar general of the friars and set up schools of theology at Perugia and Monteripido.  When his health broke down, he retired as vicar general and returned to preaching, this time riding on a donkey rather than walking.  He refused three bishoprics in his lifetime: at Siena, Ferrara and Urbino.  El Greco produced a masterpiece of a portrait of him.  He died of natural causes and from the outset was reverenced as a great saint.  

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