Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Personal Asides: Echoes of the `82 “I Wuz Robbed” Statement by Adlai III Continue—With Refutation by Phil O’Connor….Glenn Beck.

Feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus, Patron of Midwives* 
Was Adlai Robbed?

Recently Adlai Stevenson III re-issued an old charge that he had made to me and others: His legitimate election as governor in 1982 had been stolen from him by Jim Thompson workers. This corroborates what Mayor Jane Byrne told friends of mine confidentially—that she was doing “all I can” to win reelection for Big Jim.

The Stevenson charge turns on three allegations: First, substantial vote fraud in Thompson’s behalf, aided, paradoxically, by the Democratic machine. Second, the refusal of the Illinois State Supreme Court to approve a recount even though the margin of Thompson over Stevenson was very close—about 5,000 votes. Third, the curious division of the Supreme Court which denied the recount—with Seymour Simon voting with the Republicans…after which a certifiably reelected Thompson hired Simon’s son John for a key state job.

Here is a response from a distinguished source: Dr. Phil O’Connor who was Political Director of the Thompson campaign and who served in many high positions of state government including Chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. While I notice there is no reference to either Seymour Simon or his son John in this piece, Phil earlier pointed out that John Simon was well known to Jim Thompson since he had earlier served as assistant district attorney to Thompson and that the hiring was not unusual.

It’s only fair to say that I was the head of Project LEAP….the now dormant anti-vote fraud organization in Chicago at the time….and visited with then Mayor Byrne over a curious fact that our inspectors discovered….vote fraud being undertaken in significant measures for a REPUBLICAN! Her explanation told me that she was a passionate Thompson booster. But this is Phil’s time. So here we go with Phil’s response.

By Phil O’Connor. 
Recently, when Dan Rostenkowksi passed away, on his Sunday show on WLS radio, Bill Cameron played a tape of seminar that Rosty particpated in with a number of other politicians. One of those was former US Senator Adlai Stevenson III. In a segment discussing the controversy over whether John F. Kennedy's 1960 winning margin in Ilinois was made possible by vote fraud, Stevenson took the opportunity to gratuitously suggest that he had been been the victim of Republican engineered vote fraud in his loss of the governor's race to Jim Thompson in 1982.

Nothing could be sillier or more contrary to the historical record. I was Thompson's political director in that campaign and oversaw much of the post-election effort to preserve his of just over 5,000 votes that was in place after several days of votes trickling in -- mainly from about a hundred late reporting and missing Chicago precincts. My favorite example of late arriving ballots was reported to me at the time by a brilliant young woman lawyer who had taken off work to spend 24/7 at the Chicago Board of Elections. Someone showed up with a paper shopping bag full of ballots. What passed for a seal on this ballot box was twist-tie on the two cord handles of the bag. I can assure you that it was not bag of Thompson votes.

Here are just a few facts that help demonstrate that Senator Stevenson is bit out of touch with reality on this one [the election of 1982]. 

 1) More than 50 Democrat precinct workers and judges of election were convicted or pleaded guilty to wholesale fraud – the outright stealing and fabrication of votes in large quantities. This counted for thousands of votes in just the several dozen precincts implicated. Our research at the time indicted that there was considerably more. In some cases as 50-60 voters in a precinct voter after the polls closed and were so disciplined that they voted in alphabetical order.

In one celebrated case broadcast on national television, an elderly man in a near west side nursing home was recorded as having voted three times -- once absentee, once in the on-site voting program for nursing homes and once in the precinct on election day. When the reporter asked him how he could be so sure that he had not signed two of the ballot applications, he raised his arms from under the table to reveal that he had no hands. The poor man then demonstrated how he held a pen between his wrists to make an X as his mark, the same sort of X that had appeared on the one valid application..
2) In some of the more tightly controlled precincts, such as in housing projects, there were "express lines" for Punch 10 so that people could be herded in to vote a straight ticket under the watchful eye of the local political cadres.
3) The discovery recount of 5% of precincts showed that thousands of votes for Stevenson in Chicago would have been rejected as improper since there were no judge of elections initials on the ballots as required by law. Very few Thompson votes were in the same posture anywhere in in Illinois. The Stevenson people had done their 5% discovery as well. They found very little in the way of even administrative irregularities, let alone indications of wholesale fraud.
4) Many precincts in the City reported inflated numbers that varied from the actual figure as determined in the review of the precinct paperwork. In many cases this was so simply because the judges of election could not do the arithmetic. The mistakes were not entirely unidirectional, of course, but the nature of the calculation procedure was such that errors tended to inflate totals rather than deflate them.

Thus, Stevenson votes were being recorded, perhaps innocently enough, that did not really exist. However, all of these non-votes and all of those mentioned above were in Stevenson's vote total as certified by the local officials and then by the State Board of Elections, but would have been subtracted from his total in a recount, assuming an honest count by the tribunal.
5) Despite all of the above, however, the most stunning effort by Stevenson to grab the election was the effort to claim that many thousands of votes in Lake County would be rejected in a recount. These thousands of vote, if found invalid, would have disproportionately hurt Thompson since he won the county with a large margin. The basis for the challenge was quite remarkable. Lake County had ballots that, after the ballot box was opened and the votes were to be counted, would have half of the ballot torn off at a perforation.

The judges of election, at the time the ballot had been given to the voter, would have initialed the ballot in a small box that straddled the perforation. When the ballots were torn to be fed into the counting machine, it was often the case that the initials would be largely on the side that was torn off. That half of the ballot was thrown away. This, Stevenson's lawyers said, rendered invalid those ballots for which too large a portion of the initialing had been tossed along the half of the ballot.

The truly Kafkaesque part of the story is that the Lake County Clerk and, therefore, chief election official, was none other than Stevenson's own Lt. Gov. running mate, Grace Mary Stern, who has since passed away.

She was in charge of the voting system in Lake County, had chosen the perforated ballot style and oversaw the rule providing for the torn off side of the ballot to be disposed of. Stevenson's legal team was in the position of defending the proverbial client who shoots his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.

One of Thompson's lawyers, Jim Montana, cut through all the baloney by whipping out a sample of the perforated Lake County ballot for the Supreme Court to see. Stevenson's lawyers screamed bloody murder and the judges ended up laughing them out of court.
 6) Ultimately, there was no recount for two reasons. First, Stevenson had failed to show that if there were a full recount that there was any likelihood of the outcome changing. Indeed, our side had shown that the more likely result was an increased margin of victory for Thompson. Second, the court found that in any event there would be no recount because the recount law was unconstitutional.

That law had created a special purpose court and was therefore in violation of the state constitution. The court let stand the certification of the vote by the State Board of Elections that was based on tallies submitted, after canvass, by the over 100 local election authorities in the Illinois. I should note that our side had been so confident all along that the recount law was unconstitutional in the extreme that we did not even bother to argue or even raise the point. We believed that the court would see this without any help from us.

The historical record is clear enough, Senator Stevenson's effort at revisionism notwithstanding.

Glenn Beck: If This be “Demagoguery” Make the Most of It.

     The much condemned Glenn Beck “Restoring Honor” rally on the Washington Mall was shorn of any politics or inducements to vote against a candidate or to support another or cheer one party ticket. The single most repeated name throughout the rally was that of the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity. There were oodles of piety as speakers beseeched Americans to return to God; great gobs of patriotism; tributes to slain Special Forces soldiers; verbal pageants to patriotism including one led by Sarah Palin, benefactions to American history. The New York Times calls it demagoguery but if so, let’s make the most of it.  
     The most significant thing to see…for me…was the sight of multi-thousands of white middle class citizens shouting approval to the memory and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Still it was sufficient to anger the Sun-Times’ Mary Mitchell who draws umbrage at the fact that white folks “desecrated” the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech. But then Mitchell, who was evidently hired by the paper to fill the niche of  God’s Angry Black Woman, doesn’t like whitey much anyhow.   
      Digression: The Sun-Times hires its columnists to fill demographic niches with the one requisite that none be conservatives. . Hence Richard Roeper is the aging long-in-the-tooth lefty white  “kid” from the suburbs who is nearly fifty and unmarried but with beaucoup girlfriends.  Neil Steinberg is the wisecracking Jew who like Jon Stewart thinks it fun to ridicule religious feeling under the misapprehension that anything that worships God is sanctimony.  [Now don’t get your underwear in knots that because I call Steinberg what he endlessly refers to himself as: a Jew. Somehow it is often taken as an insult to refer to one as a Jew. Hell,   I’m probably more Semitic in support of Israel and its holistic traditions  than  he for whom Torah II seems an arrant secular humanism]. Mark Brownrepresents the legions of dumb pad and pencil slave-reporters who vote only one party, cannot consider any other,  and who seem to write as with crayola in dull monosyllables.  
         Digression Continued: Carol Marin pushing 60, is the eternal wide-eyed like Little Annie Rooney (“Gloryoski, Zero!”)  cum Girl Scout circa `60s feminist  who would suffer a cerebral hemorrhage if she ever entertains a conservative thought.( Her niche: League of Women Voters, pro-abort misguided reformism nicely-nicely)…  Esther Cepeda is the papers purveyor of Latino jingoism. (“Consider how better baseball has gotten thanks to the Latinos!”)… Cindy Richardsis a world-weary suburban ex-commentator,  ex-teacher  now reporting to us on films, drooling over Drew Barrymore talking phone sex with her reel and real boyfriend (niche: bored, rich suburban housewives thrilled with the excitement of musing about decadence )… 
        Still More: Roger Ebert is the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic whom I suspect got his trophy as so many got theirs—with artful flavored leftism in his critique (give me Joe Morganstern anytime) who loves…absolutely hungers…to dabble in revolutionarily leftwing writing.  (Niche: the insouciant East Lake Shore Drive Maoist set)…Syndicated Chris Hitchens is the obligatory atheist Mother Teresa ridiculer, having written a derogatory book about her which he tastefully called The Missionary Position who has notified us that he is dying of cancer, responding as to whether he will repent to which he says “never!” (Niche: he appeals to those jerks not included in all of the above).  
         Back to Glenn Beck. I am convinced that Glenn Beck has become a national treasure…and no, I don’t want him to run for president. He is much more valuable as a private citizen.  He’s not perfect but has several qualities that are indispensable to the country right now. First, he is an unabashed patriot but unlike Rush, Hannity and some of the others albeit worthwhile commentators, he eschews partisan politics in order to focus on enduring qualities such as patriotism. I don’t need him as a spiritual guru as the values and sacraments of my authentic Church supply all the inspiration I need. But I do look at him as a kind of returned Moses of Patriotism…inducing us to return to habits of life that embodied a promised land. 
         The thing that gets me about Beck is that he is on fire with U. S. history and the reason why is clear.  He has come late to ideas.  I was fortunate enough to have absorbed lots of the things from the time I was a school child 70 odd years ago that stir him to excitement…so it is wondrous to see him burning up with enthusiasm for ideas that are enduring and seemingly passed into mist generations earlier. I had just about given up that the noble ideal of patriotism and respect for God will not be restored in my lifetime—but I was wrong. 
       I don’t expect I’ll learn new things from Beck—although who knows?—but hearing him re-tell the old things with his great passion convinces me he’s a great gift to this country.  True, he’s not perfect. His dismissal of the threat of homosexual marriage, for example, is fatuous—but he embodies so many other good things that I’ll willing to grant him some slack.  
     *: St. Raymond Nonnatus Patron of Midwives [1204-1240]. He came from Catalonia in Spain.  His name in Latin means “not born” which refers to the fact that he was born by Caesarean section…a process so dangerous in those days that his mother did not survive.  Thus he has been designated as the patron of  pregnant women, of childbirth, of children and midwives. His life was short hence this bio will be as well.  He was ordained priest as a member of the Mercedarian Order which was founded to ransom Catholic captives of the  Moors of North Africa.  He traveled to North Africa and when his ransom money ran out is said to have offered himself as captive in order to free some others.  That was not a good idea. Legend says the Moors bored a hole through his lips with a hot iron and…efficient devils they were…padlocked—yes padlocked—his mouth to prevent him from preaching.   
         Believe it or not, he survived and was ransomed by his Order and returned to Span.  He died at Cardona, six miles from Barcelona. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Personal Asides: Readers’ Colloquium on Cussing a Real Winner! Congrats! Now About Michael Voris.

  Feast of St. Fiacre of Erie, Patron Saint of Cab Drivers*   
                                    About the Layman Michael Voris. 
          Congratulations all those who commented last week regarding my article on whether cussing is a sin were thoughtful, witty, insightful and learned. A great collection of scholarly work came in for which I am very grateful.  So grateful am I that I’m going to ask you something. 
           Let me ask particularly our Catholic readers (of which there are a good number) …if you haven’t already…watch one Michael Voris on Internet TV and give me your thoughts about this man who is fast becoming a tremendous educative influence in the Church.   
          If you’re not aware of Michael Voris you should be.  In my humble opinion, he is the best thing to happen to the Catholic Church since Fulton Sheen.  Sheen was incomparable but Voris has more bite than Sheen about laxity in the Church. Of course, Sheen was a high ecclesiastic and couldn’t be expected to criticize his colleague bishops (although he had a monumental fight with his superior, Francis Cardinal Spellman, over access to monies raised by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith which wound up in Rome with the Pope deciding in favor of Sheen). 
         Voris is a layman with a theology degree, is a former Fox TV producer and reporter and has a real snap in his commentaries.  
          Voris can be seen on his relatively new website RealCatholicTV.com.  If you haven’t done so, do yourself a favor and go to the website and get a taste of some of his commentary.  . 
          Here’s an example of Voris at his best. 
        Fr. Michael Rodriguez, a parish priest in the El Paso diocese wrote a letter to the El Paso Times and outlined with particular specificity the mortal sin that is homosexuality—expressing compassion and solicitude for those caught up in the practice but also echoing the Catechism in warning Catholics that it is not to be dismissed lightly. He pronounced it without rancor but cited  orthodox theology, saying that the probability short of divine mercy is that one who dies without having confessed the sin and having received absolution, faces the grave possibility of hell. 
         No sooner had the article appeared than the bishop of El Paso, the Rt. Rev. Armando X Ochoa, wrote to the same paper undercutting Fr. Rodriguez and spewing the usual polite palaver so common to liberal churchmen and politicians. No words of condemnation but an excursion in politically correct, feel-good rhetoric. 
                                The Namby Pamby Bishop.  
           Here’s the bishop’s response. My own views are contained within in [brackets]. 
       “As Church [liberals and unregenerate radicals in the Church never say “THE Church” but “Church” as in “woman Church” etc.  Why? They don’t want to indicate that Catholicism is THE Church, so as not to offend others] we want to journey with everyone as they search for meaning in their lives. We believe that Christ offers this meaning. The use of harsh words of condemnation is not the approach Christ invites us to have toward one another.  Intolerance [i.e. contrasting right from wrong] closes the door to learning and deeper understanding or one another.  Furthermore, it leads to divisiveness [God knows we don’t want that: we want “unity.”  Christ never tangled with anyone did He?  He never engaged in divisiveness, did He?  Naw.  He was get-along-go-along]. Too many people have suffered because of a profound lack of compassion and a perceived arrogant indifference.”   
       Ochoa’s statement was covered very favorably in the dallasvoice.com, which bills itself as “the premier media source for LGBT Texas.”  Now I invite you to look at Michael Voris’ commentary on this.   
       Frankly, very little of Michael Voris involves what shocked establishment Catholics call “bishop bashing.” The only other recent one was also excellent, to my mind.  A parish in New York city has been infamous for its near-celebration of homosexuality…so much so that it is an open question whether it is facilitating the practice. When Archbishop Timothy Dolan was at Mass, the proud members of Dignity were singled out with praise and a TV clip caught the archbishop smiling and applauding.  Voris used the event to criticize the obvious support and scandal Dolan had given…which prompted Dolan to issue the weakest, most nebbish-like statement you ever saw. 
                          He’s Too Tough for Catholic Answers.  
        To me, Voris was doing what any alert and well-informed layman should do.  But it was enough for Catholic Answers, the Karl Keating-founded resource of apologetics to ditch Voris’ stuff from its video library.  Now I have great respect for Catholic Answers and for Keating…but it was in no mood to support criticism of certain bishops. . 
          One of the finest presentations by Voris shows how the often fraudulent “spirit of Vatican II” was hijacked.  As I lived through that time and saw the American heretical beginning at St. John’s with a then so-called “great” theologian, Fr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB…who ultimately refused to sanctionHumanae Vitae, it taught me things I never really knew about what was happening in Rome between the eras of John XXIII and Paul VI. Voris goes into great deal about one who may well have been an ultra-liberal saboteur in the Church, the main conspirator for so radically changing the liturgy of the Mass—Archbishop Annibale Bugnini of whom Dietrich von Hildebrand said: 
         “Truly, if one of the devils in C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters have been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy he could not have done it better” than Burgnini (who died in 1982).  In 1960 he was placed in a job that enabled him to exert a decisive influence on the liturgy, Secretary to the Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy of the 2nd Vatican Council.  But he was evidently moving too fast and too radically because he was summarily fired by John XXIII.  Rumors then abounded and continue to this day that Bugnini was a Freemason, one dedicated to secret antithetical hostility to the Church.   
        Whether he was a Freemason or not, after John XXIII’s death,  Bugnini was just as speedily rehired by Paul VI.  Then he carried on until the great denouement.  
                                   Controversy about Voris.  
      One presentation by Voris have been criticized recently.  One was a brief 2-1/2 minute or so talk where he seemingly despaired of democracy and expressed the wish that an all-wise oligarchy should run this country i.e. supposedly make it a theocratic state. It didn’t bother me because I recognized the idea from Aristotle’s Politics where he cites the various forms of government—monarchy, oligarchy, democracy—and says that all have faults but…as an ideal…an oligarchy composed of supremely wise men is to be preferred…declaring at the same time that perfection is not attainable.  
         Aristotle wasn’t talking about a theocratic state, of course (he was a pagan) but of an oligarchy of so-called wise men to win the state. He so much as admitted that this would not be possible because men can not be wise all the time…but that was the ideal.   
      To me Voris’ speculative opinion is much the same.  Who among us…looking at the nitwits in major chunks of both political parties…have not speculated on how these jerks ever got elected and in the midst of despair about failed economic, social and international policies growled that a few conservatives with good ideas who wouldn’t have to worry about placating an insouciant electorate could save this country?  I know I have—knowing all the time that it is wistful thinking and that  I was not calling for a theocratic state or an oligarchy.  
         Voris killed that tape after semi-apologizing it with a “mea culpa” but I think he was a little too susceptible to the criticism that came not from it but from misunderstanding of it. Were I he, I would not have pulled it but explained that it was a speculative view akin to that of Aristotle in his Politics.
        Enough for now. Click on Michael Voris and sample a few delicious commentaries which run on average of only a few minutes apiece. 

     *: Saint Fiacre of Brie, Patron Saint of Cab Drivers (circa 304).  He was reared near an Irish monastery, the brother of one who would also become a saint, Syra of Troyes.  He initially went to study in the monastery because in the 4th century they were the only repositories of learning.  What caught Fiacre’s attention was the science of healing herbs.  Soon he became quite an authority on them.  Because people believed his skill with the herbs tied him to the healing arts, they began to interfere with his privacy—for if he was anything, Fiacre was a recluse.  So tired out with crowds of people coming to visit him and his alchemy in the monastery, he decided to flee to France where he planned to live as a hermit.

        When he arrived in France he applied to the Abbot of a monastery for permission to use a portion of its land for the raising and study of healing herbs. There he was just as unlucky as he was in Ireland with flocks of sick people who came to see him to sample his herbs.  Because his herbs healed some, the legend grew that Fiacre himself was a healer which got him into trouble because one old woman claimed he was an intercessory of the devil. But the Abbot defended him and pointed out that Fiacre seemed to have personal healing power which would have to come from God not Satan.

        The legend grew that he had the gift of healing by laying on his hands. Frenchmen claimed by doing this he cured blindness,  polypus and fevers and a type of tumor called “le fic de S. Fiacre.”

        Then Fincre became known as patron of many disabilities. For example even today in France he is known as the patron of…fertility (against barrenness)…patron of healing hemorrhoids…healing piles…healing syphilis…healing all venereal disease.

        And he is seen as the patron of cab-drivers as well.  How did that happen as there were no cabs or cab-drivers  in his time?  Prepare yourself for a big stretch. In the 18th century in Paris there was an opulent hotel named in his memory—Hotel de Saint Fiacre.  That hotel rented carriages.  People who had no idea who he was called them “Fiacre cabs” and eventually just “fiacres.”  Those who drove those cabs assumed Fiacre as their patron.  He is regularly pictured as a monk carrying a spade and a basket of vegetables surrounded by pilgrims as he blessed the sick.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thought While Shaving: Why I Cuss (not Curse) and Can’t Imagine it’s a Sin.

  Feast of St. Monica, Mother of St. Augustine*   
             Now that I’ve been writing this blog for five years, it’s time I…well not make a confession…but make an affirmative statement.  I cuss.  It’s a habit I got from my father who was an eloquent cusser.  I think I know about as much theology as the average guy who took four straight years of theology and philosophy from Ernie…and I’ll tell you, I still can’t imagine anyone thinking use of swear words is a sin.  I exempt denunciations that invoke the name of the Son of God for expletives.  But let me ask you this?
What’s wrong with letting it go with a string of cliché imprecations when you stub your toe in the dark or are demoted at work or miss a train when the next one won’t be arriving for an hour and you will miss luncheon with someone who wants to introduce you to a potential client? 
           Do you think not swearing is virtuous?  Saying “heck” instead of hell?  Forget it.   
            Oh I admit that use of swear words is a breach of etiquette; they shouldn’t be used in front of children.  But let’s get this straight: What I categorize as swear words are not words of obscenity that degrading sexual congress.  Although, friends, I’ve got to say this: When telling a story to adults…and quoting someone who for effect used an obscenity…I don’t find it a mortal or even venial sin to reproduce his conversation.  And I find it sanctimonious as hell (there I go again) when somebody—usually a woman—simulates going into a dead faint because I describe someone I despise as…putting it euphemistically…a person of illegitimate birth or a male whose mother is a female canine.  
           The wildest concoction of political correctness is this.  Suppose I say about a miscreant who has verbally assailed me as— 
           “That person of illegitimate birth!”  Or “that guy whose mother is a female canine!” 
         That would pass the respectability test but also produce exchange of  strange looks from others at the table but that’s it.  They wouldn’t faint away with shock…but why should they look askance, look around the room and hope no one overheard… regard me as indelicate and a boor if I say— 
         “Do you know what that officious  bastard wrote in The New York Times today?  He tried to dress up research in embryonic stem cells as vital to saving lives when he knows—fully knows—that adult stem cells can do the job. You know what?  That sonuvabitch simply glories in defending an act of snuffing out lives!” 
        The fact remains that I feel better when I say this…and that’s important—important to let repressed steam be released…a safety valve that spares bottled up blood pressure. 
        Let’s be clear. Cussing fate with a string of denunciatory colorful words is different from cursing where you call down evil on someone.  Or invoke God to strike someone dead. That’s altogether different. I would judge that to say “goddammit” is different than slowly pronouncing “God damn so-and-so!”  Although I’ve been known to do that as well.  But seriously calling down evil on someone and invoking God to do it is blasphemy. 
          Ernie once told us that to curse rational creatures is a grave offense against justice and charity.  When I sat in his classroom so long ago listening to him I thought—and still think—but if you say this to yourself and do not poison this guy’s reputation by enunciating it to someone else but to yourself in solitude, what’s wrong with that?  It makes me feel better.  And who hears it when I mutter to myself?  Ever since that time I have doubted Ernie on that particular item.  How do you sin against justice and charity if you growl to yourself imprecations against an unfeeling boss for example?   
         Another thing Ernie would say is this: “To curse irrational creatures such as the weather or animals who let us say defecate on the floor is a venial sin of impatience.”  Wha? Do you understand what I’m getting at here?  Is it not possible that we are too Jansenist in this business of cussing?  Do we imagine that General George Armstrong Custer at the battle of Little Big Horn…when suddenly surrounded by 3,000 Indians who seemingly came thundering out of the hills from ostensibly nowhere…and remembering that he foolishly left a supply of Gatling guns at Yellowstone because he felt they would not be needed…said: 
          “Oh my gosh where did these darned Indians come from all of a sudden?  And gee whiz, I wish I had the Gatling guns!” 
            Ernie also said this: “To curse the evil spirit as the enemy of God and human beings is lawful.”  That means I guess I can say: “God damn the devil and all his works!”  
          But Ernie, being Ernie, added: “Exclamations that in themselves are not sinful may become so for other reasons such as the danger of scandal.” 
          Why don’t you share with me your views…theological and otherwise…about the vice—I’ll admit it is that—of cussing? 

     *: Feast of St. Monica, Mother of St. Augustine [332-387]. Born in North Africa, Monica earned her sainthood the hard way. First she was married to Patricius, a dissolute pagan who was often unfaithful to her, a boozer and violent in temper when he was drinking which was often, reportedly.  Second her mother-in-law lived with them who had a scathing tongue and who sided with her son in all disputes, never staying out of them but intruding with bias and ill-feeling. Suffering through all that should have made Monica a saint anyhow—but she fell into alcoholism (I can understand why) which she conquered.

         Freeing herself of that old devil booze, she then proceeded to win his conversion. He was baptized in 370 and while she expected the remainder of their lives to be spent in calm and forbearance, he died the following year. She had three children: Augustine, Navigius and Perpetus…of which as we know Augustine was her greatest blessing but for years her greatest trial. The early Augustine lived such an irregular life that they argued often as she sought to get him to change his ways—finally throwing him out of her house. But she didn’t give up, turning to prayer, fasts and vigils hoping to achieve by these things what arguing failed to do.

        Augustine became, as we know, a great intellectual and teacher but still in his early adulthood did not change his ways.  In fact as he admits in his Confessions, he misled his mother on when his ship would leave for Rome and so when she showed up at the dock, the ship had already departed.  She caught the next ship, followed him to Rome and from there to Milan.  She contacted and was highly esteemed by Ambrose (later canonized), the bishop of Milan who converted him first to the moral life…enabling him to send his mistress away…and then to Catholicism, being baptized in 387. No convert to go halfway, Augustine rejected Monica’s suggestion that he marry in favor of the celibate life.  Gloriously happy, Monica set out on a journey to Africa with him but died on the way, at Ostia the same year her famous son was baptized.  She was only 55 but she earned her canonization through suffering, prayer, penance and humiliation. Humiliation? Nothing like being left on the dock while the ship carrying her son sails without her.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Personal Asides: The Primaries Would Be Almost Perfect with Possible Murkowski Defeat. More.

  Feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa*
                      Here’s Hoping Joe Miller Wins in Alaska. 
        In 1959 when I was a young staffer working in the House during the Eisenhower’s administration, both Alaska and Hawaii entered the Union. The smart prognosticators said that there was a political balance: Hawaii would send a Republican delegation and Alaska a Democratic one.  It turned out exactly the opposite: Hawaii has been as solid a  Democratic state…with only a few exceptions, U. S. Senator Hiram Fong, its current governor, Linda Lingle and a newly elected congressman, Charles Djou (who must run again this November… while laska has produced a Republican harvest of votes and lawmakers.   
         Speaking of Hawaii, here’s a digression which comes to me as I think of it… 
          On opening day of the Congress, in January, 1959, where the two new states were admitted, Congressman Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.), before he became majority whip, was walking down a corridor with a staffer friend of mine when he greeted a young man coming toward him in a crowd of newly elected Democrats.  He was Hawaiian House member: Daniel Inouye.  “Hi, ya Danny!” O’Neill intoned without them having been introduced. 
          My staffer friend marveled that his boss knew everybody in the House, even the new members.  Inoue had just arrived and the majority leader called him by first name.  How did he know he was a congressman from Hawaii?  O’Neill dismissed it as nothing. 
           Then he responded with the ultimate in political incorrectness.  It would be enough to cause almost anyone to pass out.
          “ Not that difficult. After  all, how many one-armed Japs do you think we have here?” he roared while my friend, politically sensitive, winced. 
          That’d get thecapitolfaxblog.com crowd to faint, wouldn’t it?  Yet that was the funny, irreverent way with O’Neill whom I came to know very well. Inouye a highly decorated veteran of World War II, of Japanese extraction, lost his right arm as a combat soldier in Italy earning 15 medals and citations for bravery.   
            When Henry Hyde heard the remark he passed it on to Inouye who loved the comment. 
            Inouye moved over to the Senate and is one of its most powerful members, chairman of Appropriations.  At age 86, he is certainly a shoo-in for reelection this year, having just squeaked back in 2006 with 78% of the vote.  
       But digression aside (a residue of old age), it’s Alaska I want to talk about. And the possible Republican primary defeat of Sen. Linda Murkowski--a pro-abort Catholic--by a highly qualified but veritable unknown, Joe Miller, 43, Fairbanks; Kansas-born; a pro-lifer; calls himself non-denominational Christian; married to Linda, father of eight kids (yes, that’s right: 8);   West Point undergrad;  Yale educated lawyer; highly decorated veteran of the first Gulf war (Bronze star); after which he moved to Alaska because he loves the great outdoors, major partner in a Fairbanks law firm; a former state and federal magistrate there which job he quit to run for State Rep (a race he lost); close friend of Todd Palin, endorsed by Sarah Palin and a Tea Party favorite.  
       True, my excitement could be premature. At last count he was ahead of Murkowski by 1,900 votes (45,909 to 43, 949) with 98% of Alaska’s precincts reporting.  If he can hold onto his lead with about 8,000 absentee ballots to be counted in the next week or two (most of them paper ballots) he’ll be in a good position to be Alaska’s next senator because the electoral record pro-Republican is pretty clear.   
        The thing I like about Miller is that he has violated most of the “rules” that liberal pundits say is essential.  They say you’ve got to have a load of money to fight an entrenched incumbent: Miller had very little.  They say you should have a “moderate” record, i.e. don’t get bogged down on “pesky” social issues: Miller did just the opposite. He vociferously pointed out Murkowski’s pro-abort record…asking her if she ever voted for an unconstitutional bill. She said firmly she had not. Miller: “Then tell Alaskans where is Roe v. Wade authorized in the Constitution?”  He continued: “Where is embryonic stem cell destructive research? Where is TARP?  Where is cap and trade?”  She countered that the Constitution mentions the army and navy but not the air force…but it was a very weak response. 
           In essence it was her record on abortion that hit her hard in the polls  Tuesday’s primaries would be a smashing success for me if Joe Miller holds on and defeats Murkowski.  .   
         There’s no publication that exceeds thecapitolfaxblog.com in touchy-touchy race sanctimony (it groaned in fear that the stonewalling juror in the Blago trial might just be black: she was and so what?).  As a wondrously comprehensive publication (and I must salute it for candidly saying something Richard M. Daley does not want to hear: Chicago is bankrupt) 
        Yet it’s often marvelously blind-sided on political correctness.  Seemingly, to it the mere mention of race being used as a political cudgel is a no-no.  Certainly for Republicans.  It went after State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) yesterday for an allegedly “insensitive” remark he made about the Quinn appointment of Michelle Sadler as his chief of staff.   
       It gave prominent coverage to a very ordinary Quinn news release and video alleging that Dillard was playing the racial card when he described Sadler thusly: 
      “While she as an African American-Asian woman is a political choice it remains to be seen if she can govern state government.” 
        Yikes! (to borrow the publication’s favorite kid exclamation)…have we gotten to the point that it is “insensitive” to…even with nuance mention …the racial identity of a key governmental-political appointee in government and the possible benefit to the elected official who names him/her?  Answer: Yes, insensitive if the one who mentions it is a Republican.  Meaning: a Democratic  appointment can be made with the benefits of racial identity in mind but a Republican is in danger of being “insensitive” if he/she alludes to it.  Journalists can do it, understand.  And thecapitolfaxblog.com does it all the time.  Just don’t let Republicans get caught referring to an appointee in any terms other than an “individual.”  
          For proof of the double standard, here is ultra-sanctimonious thecapitolfaxblog.com worrying about the possibility of Democrat Alexi Giannoulias being politically disadvantaged from the all-important (to Democrats) black vote by a candidate…almost unknown…running for the Senate seat for the Green Party. 
         To it, It’s okay to mention race in connection with a super-close election where the Green candidate just might siphon a fraction of the vital black vote away from Giannoulias, resulting in a Giannoulias loss to…ugh…Republican Mark Kirk.   Even if the Green candidate urges the banning of all nuclear weaponry and wants multi-lateral nuclear disarmament (you know what that would mean: we’d disarm and they would say they would but won’t)… and attests that Wall Street has brought more harm to the black community than anything else.  That’s a Jesse Jackson, Sr. stretch of imagination.  
         The Green party candidate is LeAlan Jones, a 31-year-old radio and film producer from Englewood. Thecapitolfaxblog.com forgets its racial sanctimony to dig deep into a scary disadvantage for Giannoulias: 
         “Jones has no political or governmental record and paltry cash—plus a monstrous helping of chutzpah.  He owns one unmistakable asset—he is African American. Jones may be a Green but the color of the moment is black.” 
          Now just for a moment, consider if Kirk Dillard said that.  The statement thecapitolfax.com made is true—as true as Dillard’s earlier one about Michelle Sadler.  But what would CapitolFax.com say if the senator made that remark?  “Grossly insensitive!” it would thunder. 
         That’s why the liberal mantra of “insensitivity” on Republican mention of race in politics is so hypocritical. Yet, if you want to be “in” on all the political news…plus gossip…you must subscribe and read the blog.    
                                                 Phil Krone. 
         It’s with a great deal of sadness that I note the death of a good friend of mine, Phil Krone.  He died Sunday of liver cancer.  I knew Phil for 46 years, when he was a young volunteer for Chuck Percy…through his colorful attempt as Republican ward committeeman to name himself to the state House to succeed Pete Granata…past his rejection for that post, his subsequent resignation and his turning to the Democratic party where he became an enduring friend of the original Mayor Daley, his son, Neil Hartigan, Tom Hynes, Tom’s son Dan…and also a host of Republicans including me. 
         Phil and I were on the radio weekly beginning in 1980 in a kind of cult program, “Inside Politics with Bruce DuMont” on WBEZ.   He was a most unusual guest, endowed with an eerie sense of premonition of things that could well come true in politics. I remember particularly when Gov. Jim Thompson was running for reelection against former U. S. Senator Adlai Stevenson III.   Stevenson had almost defeated Thompson in 1982. In fiscal and spending matters he was more conservative than Thompson. He stressed Thompson’s insincerity: that on the campaign trail Thompson would oppose tax hikes and after election would change his mind: complete duplicity. 
          As he made his case, it seemed for a long time that Stevenson would win the election.  As I was chairman of Project LEAP an anti-vote fraud organization, I had first-hand knowledge that for the first time, the mayor of Chicago was secretly calling the shots on The Squid for Thompson’s victory. But it was destined to be close. 
        Indeed, I am among those who firmly believe that Stevenson did in fact win the governorship… because he came in behind Thompson by 1/7th of 1 percent—which meant that a relatively small amount of voter fraud magic had decided the outcome. 
        Following the paper-thin margin, everybody expected a recount. But then,  a quirky Illinois law was invoked that maintained  the state Supreme Court would have to order a recount.   The Supreme Court failed to do that by one vote…that of Democrat Seymour Simon who was a dissident of The Squid.   Later Thompson made a favorable hire that, it could be argued, pleased Simon and his allies.  
         Four years later, Stevenson challenged Thompson again. Stevenson seemed to have all the best arguments on his side…the tales of Thompson vowing not to raise taxes before election and then finding suddenly that he had to after election.   Stevenson had a devastating argument.  We were on the radio and Phil said something that we all laughed at.  It was this: 
       “You’re all talking about a Stevenson victory this second time around.  Ah but there is one thing that can reelect Thompson.  As you know, Lyndon Larouche has a field of candidates running in the Democratic party against Stevenson’s slate.  If some of those candidates were to get through—particularly the candidate for lieutenant governor, Mark Fairchild—Stevenson would be in a terrible bind.  He would have a choice of either running with a decided nut for lieutenant governor…someone who says that the Queen of England is engaged in a lesbian love affair with Golda Meir, the prime minister of Israel…or having to leave the Democratic party and run as a third party candidate which would surely cause him to lose to Thompson.” 
           We all sat transfixed at the theory but were highly skeptical.. Most of the supposedly alert media was reporting that Stevenson’s choice for lieutenant governor, State Rep. George Sangmeister of Frankfort was unopposed. He was a fine lawmaker and his name was well-known to Illinois Democrats. Similarly, Stevenson’s choice for secretary of state was Aurelia Pucinski, the daughter of Roman Pucinski a longtime congressman and alderman and a leader in the Polish community. We dismissed Phil’s analysis as fatuous. 
     We laughed it off only to find out on election night that Mark Fairchild had indeed won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, defeating Sangmeister, entitling Fairchild to run as a teammate with Adlai Stevenson III, both sharing the same ballot designation, meaning that if Stevenson were elected governor Fairchild would be lieutenant governor and logical successor to the governorship if something were to happen to Stevenson. A Larouche candidate for secretary of state, with the Anglo-Saxon name of Janice Hart pummeled Aurelia Pucinski, qualifying Hart to run for a major post in state government.  It was a fluke of flukes.  
        Phil Krone was eerily prescient.  Just as he mentioned, Stevenson had no choice but to leave the ticket and run on a third party ticket—the Solidarity Party.  That third party confusion caused Stevenson to lose one more time to Big Jim—this time by a big margin.  
          In all my years either covering or working in politics and government, I have never seen a long-shot prediction like Phil’s come true. And I haven’t seen it happen since. 
          On this issue and on many others, Phil Krone was indubitably right.  Since that historic prediction in 1986 I have never failed to recognize and testify to Phil’s innate genius. Toward the end of his life…while afflicted with liver cancer…he would write for John Powers and me in  The Chicago Daily Observer.  
       He was not always right but many, many times he was.  And always right or wrong or as a charming conversationalist at a lunch table,  he was an intriguing, amusing and brilliant friend whose death I mourn greatly.  Rest in Peace, my old friend.  I always wanted you to become a Catholic. I tried and missed: instead you became an Episcopalian. Anyhow, you are in my prayers—and heaven’s doors are open to Episcopalians too: especially those who are good men like you, Phil..  
      *: Our Lady of Czestochowa.  This is a feast in honor of a portrait. A legend says it was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist but no one knows for sure. What is known is this: It was brought by Crusaders from Jerusalem through Constantinople and bestowed to the Princess of Ruthenia.  Then it was removed to Poland in 1382 after Ladislaus of Opole discovered it in a castle at Beltz. He invited a group of monks in Poland to be its guardians.  In  1430 a devastating attack by pagan militants resulted in damage to the painting…and to this day despite attempts to repair it, there are slash marks on the face of the Virgin which are still visible. 
      Since then men have fought…and many died… to keep the painting from harm.  It was transferred to a monastery at Czestochowa…at first exhibited in a small wooden church and later in the present day basilica and defense wall the surrounds the buildings.  It withstood the attacks of the Swedish invasion of 1655.  The great Polish victory over the Swedes endeared it to the Polish nation.  As result, King Jan Casimir in 1656 proclaimed the Mother of God to be the “Queen of the Polish Crown” and the shrine designated as the spiritual capital of Poland. After a good deal of carnage including that of World War II, the Shrine of Czestochowa in Poland attracts many thousands of pilgrims who come to honor the Virgin Mother.  An exact copy of the painting is installed at St. John Cantius parish in Chicago where I attend Mass every Sunday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One Man’s Opinion. One Surprise in the Primaries but Florida, Arizona Look Good for November. Colorado’s Ken Buck Was Right the First Time.

  Feast of St. Louis IX, King of France.* 

                                         One Surprise: Scott. 
      By the time I went to bed…10:45 pm…there was mainly not entirely good news for conservatives in the primaries. In Florida the nomination of Marco Rubio for the GOP Senate  was a given—and it happened. Charlie Crist as the independent nominee has a problem: if he should happen to win, who would he caucus with?  If he says the Democrats, he is likely to lose the 20 plus percent of Republicans who have stuck with him.  If he says the Republicans he can kiss goodbye any chance that the large Democratic contingent that supports him will stay loyal.   
      I’m a little leery of the tea party’s Rick Scott victory over GOP A.G. Bill McCollum for Florida governor.  McCollum is as exciting as day-old warm Dr. Pepper but he could get elected.  Billionaire Scott the CEO of a health corporation had a run-in with federal authorities over fraud and had to settle.  So I’m not sure Scott can make it.  
      It’s too early for Alaska returns but I sure hope Palin’s endorsee Joe Miller beats pro-abort Catholic  Lisa Murkowski  for the Senate.  As I prepare to toddle off to beddie bye I’ll say a Pater and an Ave for Miller. 
      Arizona will renominate McCain who will win handily. Originally I was for J. D. Hayworth, a six-term congressman turned talk show host,   believing that Old John should retire and finally figure out how many houses…gratis his multi-millionaire wife…he owns.  But Hayworth stupidly got involved in a commercial instructing viewers how to extract more federal money for odd hobbies.  I’m glad it came out before the primary.  I guess I can live with John but he’s getting tiresome. 
      Obtuse Democrats are attempting to slug Colorado’s GOP senate nominee Ken Buck for one time saying that the 17th amendment…the direct election of senators…should be repealed. So Buck disavowed his old stand rather than fight it through. While repealing the 17th is not politick, the original idea that senators should be elected by the legislatures…changed by the 17th…was judicious and should not have been tampered with.  The founders saw this as a balancing fulcrum ensuring that Senators would go to Washington indebted to preserving the rights of the states.  
       George Washington explained the difference famously. He had a hot cup of tea and poured some in his saucer to cool it off.  That is the role of the Senate he said which is one step away from direct election but represents the sovereign states. Meaning in the House the passions are burning and the Senate was made to cool them.  Not any more thanks to stupid progressives who wanted the Senate also to be animated by direct infusion of passion from the people. Since then the quality of the Senate diminished.  No Clay, Webster, Calhoun but Al Franken, Nancy Klobuchar a sports columnist’s daughter and who can forget Dickie Durbin who had to cry before the whole Senate in apologizing for linking U. S. soldiers at Gitmo with Nazi guards at Auschwitz?  Durbin is the nation’s top pander-bear.  
      Read the new biography of Henry Clay and you’ll see that the founders were right.  He served Kentucky in the House which of course was selected by popular vote and then the Senate where he went to Washington indebted to the sovereign rights of Kentucky as a state. It’s time to appreciate the fact that the founders were not popular democrats with a small “d” but republicans with a small “r.”   They wanted a republic where congressional representation would be balanced between a House where representatives are elected popularly and a Senate where the members represent the states.

   *: St. Louis IX, King of France [1214-1270]. “It’s good to be King!” chortles Mel Brooks in “History of the World Part I.” And even better to have been King and a saint entitling you to eternity in heaven and the Beatific Vision. This is the story of Louis who followed his  father Louis XVIII as king.  Not everything good happened to Louis.  His reign was not always an unqualified success. He was lousy as a crusade leader; he had bouts of temper.  But get this—he ruled France at a time of its greatest cultural achievements.  Gothic cathedrals and great universities were built. At his table frequently was none other than Thomas Aquinas along with the founder of the Sorbonne. As leader of one of the crusades he was taken prisoner and ransomed. Once freed he lived like a….a…king—what else? He was in the midst of negotiating the return of the Greek Orthodox church to Rome when he caught typhoid and died…being escorted on the wings of angels to heaven.  He was canonized by Pope Boniface in 1297. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thought While Shaving: Ron Paul Supports Building the Mosque, Contradicting His Son. Then There’s Dickie Durbin vs. Harry Reid!

    Feast of St. Bartholomew*

                                                 Ron Paul.
         The latest statement from Ron Paul says we may well share some blame for 9/11 because we are too anti-Islam and have identified with the Neocons and their stand in the Middle East.  This is the same Ron Paul who has called for the disestablishment of the CIA and all American foreign intelligence systems. He is getting more like Lyndon Larouche every day. And to stand with him, paleos have to decide if they want to be weird cult followers or thoughtful conservatives. 
       Said Paul in a formal statement: “It has been said `Nero fiddled while Rome burned.’  Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians?  It looks to me like the politicians are `fiddling while the economy burns.’ 
      “The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1stamendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque. 
       “Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be `sensitive’ requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from `ground zero.’   
     “Just think of what might (not) have happened if the whole issue had been ignored and the national debate stuck with war, peace and prosperity.  There certainly would have been a lot less emotionalism on both sides. The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate raises the question of just why and drive by whom? 
      “In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.   
      “They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill-conceived preventative wars” 
        This harkens back to the Iman Rauf statement that indicates U.S. foreign policy invited the attack:   
       “If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to denounce Islam, need to denounce Islam would be difficult if not impossible.  
      “There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains: What exactly motivates this hatred? 
     “If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.”  
       The Ron Paul statement is in direct contrast to the statement of his son Rand Paul, the Republican nominee from Kentucky who opposes the mosque being built near Ground Zero. It’s time Republicans denounce the nutty Ron Paul for what he is: a crackpot and an unwitting ally of Islamic extremism. When are the voters of the 14th district of Texas going to resolve to rejoin the Union by defeating this crazy coot who is running for his…get this…11th full term?  So much for fighting careerism in politics!  
        Ah but old Ron and his kid Rand aren’t  the only contradictory elements emanating from the controversy.  Our senior U. S. senator Dick Durbin has endorsed building of the mosque and then attacked “politicians like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin who try to divide America with fear and hate over this issue…” He said they “betray the diversity which makes our nation great and the Constitution which they profess to honor.” 
         Strange, isn’t it, that The Dick didn’t mention Harry Reid, the majority leader of the Senate who opposes building of the Mosque and who Durbin wishes to succeed…meaning “I hope nothing bad happens to Harry Reid like losing in Nevada which will open up the job for me.” 
   *: St. Bartholomew [1st Century].  One of the original apostles—but the question is: Was he Bartholomew or Nathaniel? The Synoptic gospels speak of Bartholomew but John calls him Nathaniel. The two are considered the same man by current biblical scholars. Pantenus of Alexandria is said to have found in India during the second half of the 2nd century the gospel of Matthew written in Hebrew and reportedly left behind by Bartholomew. He is attributed by most scholars to have evangelized in India and Armenia where he is said to have been flayed alive before being beheaded at Derbend on the Caspian Sea.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Personal Aside: Of Course! A Black Woman Juror Holdout! Listens to NPR and Worked for State Health Agency! Was Fitz Asleep?

   Feast of St. Rose of Lima.*
                                 Harvard Guesstimate.
     When the news broke that the Blago jury was hung up on 23 counts and could only get agreement  for conviction on one, I was talking on the phone  with an old Harvard buddy who was on the faculty the same time I was a Kennedy Fellow in 1977 (he’s since retired).  Since Kennedy Fellows are treated the same as faculty, we’d chow down frequently at a not too shabby place: the Harvard Faculty Club during January to June of that year. 
      What brought us together was this: He was interested in meeting Andrew Young, then UN ambassador who was doing a guest lecture at my class to interviewi him for a book he was writing.  He’s a sociologist and author…black and unconventional…and was rated as one of the best profs around. 
         My assessment still holds about Chicagoans’ cynicism which contributed to the passivity of the jury.   But when the news first came down,        nobody knew the identity, gender or race of the holdout juror.  He and I were speculating idly on the phone when he said this:  
        “ I’ll bet you the ranch it’s a black woman.” .
         Why do you say that?
         “Poor black women, black women without husbands,  particularly those who are Moms… far more than men…, support anyone who has been a conduit to government assistance because so many of them  are hooked on it: and Blago had his All Kids program and free transit rides for seniors. With a great number of  black poor women, marriage—at least to black men—is less important than it used to be. Take a look at the numbers. Far more black women are going to college than are black men.  In the number of business promotions, they greatly exceed men. This is very sad because as even Pat Moynihan discovered with his report on the black family in 1965, increasingly then poor black women looked upon black men  an almost useless commodity aside from being  sperm donors. That finding almost killed Pat with the liberals.  
       “Poor black  women who raise children by themselves must depend on government. And now even not-so-poor black women. That means that as jurors black women generally reward those defendants who though crooked have been involved in government and have endorsed governmental largesse for the poor. That’s not very surprising, is it?” 
         Well, I guess not now that I think of it. I’d like to refer to this on my blog. 
        “Okay so long as you don’t use my name. The statement I just made is exceedingly unpopular with the politically correct—and they rather not see it brought up.  They are in denial. You know what political denial is, don’t you?”  
       “Of course. Take a look at the issue of gun control.  It doesn’t work but is a staple to every liberal’s urban affairs repertoire (I was going to say “arsenal”) because without it the onus would be on chaotic families which produce kids running the streets who join gangs and shoot `em up. An indictment of the state of being, frankly. But don’t think this is largely a black issue.  It is starting to go with white divorced or single women who are moms as well.  They generally vote for Democratic candidates because they believe more assistance will come from the government if Democrats are in control—and they’re right.  But black women are particularly responsive as jurors when support of someone like Blago is involved. I’ll bet you a good steak dinner I’m right.  Agree?” 
        Yes if the payoff is at The Capital Grille.  
          “Capital Grille?  We’ve got one here in Boston on Newberry street. You’re on.” 
          Wait a minute. It hasn’t been proven yet.  If I win the dinner will be at the Capital Grille in Rosemont next to O’Hare. 
         “Not likely.  I’ll win this one.” 
        You think.  
       Then the word came out that the holdout was named Jo Ann Chiakulas.  The photo that flashed on and off over TV was indeterminate.    I called my friend at once. 
          You lose.   She’s a Greek.  Her name’s Chiakulas.
          “I’m still in the game.  I saw the photograph as well.  Can’t tell from the picture. But she’s a retired state public health worker with ties to the Urban League.  She listens to NPR and liberal talk radio shows.” 
         But her name is Chiakulas.
         “Not a factor. Probably married a Greek. You’re closer to the scene than I.  Once you find out, give me a call.”
         A day later I called and said:
           Okay, the Capital Grille in Boston it is. Tell me what made you call it right—right from the start.
           “Fifty years ago ethnic identity meant about as much to whites as black does to my African American colleagues—especially women.  An Irishman would, all things considered, vote to sustain an Irish defendant and so on. It has to do with the low esteem the Irish felt they were rated with other nationalities—Brahmins-- in some social circles.  Well the Irish were right.  Then they tended to stick together.   The same with blacks except not so much the men.  Black women are vulnerable votes for any defendant.  My guess is she lost her objectivity long before she was picked for the jury because of Blagojevich’s All Kids program.  And in case she forgot, you’ll remember that the young defense attorney what’s-his-name…” 
              Sam Adam, Jr.
         “--Sam Adams,. Jr…” 
         Adam. Singular.  Sam Adam, Jr. and his father Sam Adam, Sr. 
        “Ok, ok. Adam.  We out here are used to the name Sam Adams because--.” 
         Please.  I know about the Adams boys from Massachusetts. 
         “Junior was the guy who as he talked to the jury wiped a tear away and called attention to his developmentally disadvantaged son who benefited from All Kids.  Apart from the outrage that a wealthy young lawyer poached on the All Kids program which was designed for children of the poor, it was a not so subtle reminder to the jury to take into account an issue that had nothing whatsoever to do with the charges. It’s dynamite with black women. Especially former social workers, Urban League, workers with the state health agency.  My God, that prosecution was really inept to let her sneak by into the pool without a challenge!”    
            Looks like it.
         “Well, Blago can have his fun now but on the re-trial it’ll be different. As a matter of fact, this cocky-ness he’s showing is going to do him in.” 

*: St. Rose of Lima [1586-1617].  Born in Lima, Peru to a moderately wealthy family which later lost everything through imprudent speculation in mining, she chose not to marry and joined the Third Order of St. Dominic taking as her model St. Catherine of Siena.  She devoted her life to contemplation and penance to atone for the widespread sin and corruption in her contemporary society (which leads to the speculation: If she thought her times were bad, what does she think of what’s happening now?  She died at 31 and was canonized as the first saint of America, named also the patron saint of South America and the Philippines.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts While Shaving: Fitz Should Be Less Intense but Definitely Stick Around…Brackett’s Interview with Robert Blagojevich. More.

                 Feast of St. John Eudes* 
                        Fitzgerald Indiscreet But Invaluable.  
         The Wall Street Journal editorial page thinks Pat Fitzgerald should be fired or resign…charging incompetence in securing Rod Blagojevich’s conviction on only one count—plus other grievances. What are they thinking of?  This guy has been the best thing that happened to Chicago since Herbert Hoover dispatched The Untouchables to get Capone. No prosecutor bats 100%.  But Fitzgerald has been, in baseball terms, a 400 hitter.  I would agree that his statement about Lincoln turning over in his grave was over-wrought…but dramatic overstatement is par for the course for prosecutors.   
        The litany of his successful prosecutions included former Republican governor George Ryan…a number of top aides to Mayor Richard M. Daley…James Laski the Democratic Chicago city clerk…participants in the Hired Truck scandal, Conrad Black, the former Canadian media mogul and Scooter Libby in the Valerie Plame case where a CIA employee’s occupation was leaked to a newspaper columnist which was against federal law.   
       The skilled prosecution of one of the most venal political crook ever to sit in the governor’s office, George Ryan, against all that Big Jimbo (former U,. S. Attorney and Winston & Strawn chairman Jim Thompson) and his multi-million-dollar defense could do, should entitle Patrick Fitzgerald to a bronze bust in the Chicago History Museum. I see Ms. Barr Topinka says Blago exceeded ol’ George in crime.  So far as I know, under Blago, no kids were barbecued alive in a fiery car because of a system of crooked license inspectors.  (Digression: I’ll pass up the State Comptroller choice rather than vote for old Tugboat Annie).  
        As stated earlier, sending old George upstream was only one accomplishment by Patrick Fitzgerald.  There was Fitz’s prosecution of Daley minions who screwed the city taxpayers by sending water department workers out to the precincts to help Rahm Emanuel.  The thing I enjoyed was the look of panic in the eyes of The Squid.  Remember, before Fitz was named, Daley was preparing to go on a vacation-business trip with the last federal prosecutor Scott Lassar…so chummy were they.   
         I usually agree with editorials in The Wall Street Journal but not this time. The fact that Blago was convicted on only one count is not due to a faulty prosecution but to Chicagoans’ acceptance of crooked politics: a cultural thing. (Digression: The one holdout juror served in the state Department of Health. I wonder if she got her job directly or indirectly from Blago’s people).  The editorial also faults him for the conviction of Conrad Black.  If Black had a good chairman of the audit committee on his board, he would have been spared conviction.  The audit chairman was Big Jimbo who admitted he only scanned the bills he was supposed to watch with a jeweler’s eye.    
           For me, Patrick Fitzgerald is a diligent and incorruptible prosecutor who has within him a bit of Inspector Javert, the fanatical police inspector who stalked Jean ValJean for years as portrayed in Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Miserables.  I was greatly upset on the Valerie Plame case when he accused Scooter Libby of obstruction of justice and perjury in  blocking the investigation seeking the identity of the individual who leaked her name and it turned out Fitzgerald knew all along that the leaker was Richard Armitage.  
        In that case, Fitz strained at a gnat.  He convicted Libby of lying quite apart from Fitz’s portfolio to find the leaker of Plame’s name. If you know all along who the leaker is and at the same time indict a guy for blocking information and perjury—when all the time you have the information—it comes down to indictment of  fruitless intent. Convicting Libby as a digression from his appointed task was a notable example of  Fitzgerald’s “Inspector Javert” tendency.    
          But by all means, Fitz should stay. The Bush people told Sen. Peter Fitzgerald that he could recommend any prosecutor he wished so long as he/she was an Illinois lawyer. Peter took that correctly as the fix was in and named an outsider, Patrick (no relation).  That decision has been good for Illinois and the nation. On second thought let’s make that two bronze busts—one for Pat and the second for Peter who named him. 
                       Brackett’s TV Interview with Robert Blagojevich. 
         It was painful to watch.  Like undergoing a public rectal exam by a cruel physician with cold hands. Robert Blagojevich didn’t have to undergo that kind of torture and why he did with Elizabeth Brackett of WTTW is anyone’s guess.  But he emerged as the gentleman he is.               
                        Don’t Get the Dem Governor’s Group Riled Up. 
       When not applying p. r.  salve  to the bruised reputation of Mike Madigan and a powder puff to that of his step-daughter Lisa, the other day CapitolFaxblog.com seemingly  praised Bill Brady for toning down his pro-life rhetoric so as not to appear “scary.” It says Brady is doing the wise thing not to rile up the Democratic Governors Association which feels pro-life is extreme. Gee whiz, we wouldn’t want to rile up the Dem, Governors Association, would we?  They’re so almighty powerful in the nation these days, losing state after state that their anger at a conservative Republican is something to dread. 
       Giving us all a lesson in Politics (101), the Internet missive instructs that “True believers always want their candidate to be as forceful as possible. What Brady showed…yesterday is that he wants to be the leader of the entire state—not just the base.” 
       Translation: When you’re pro-abort (or as the newsletter euphemistically says “pro-choice”) you’re eligible as “leader of the entire state.”When you’re pro-life you’re not. 
     The latest poll taken a few months ago which asked a representative sample of Illinoisans “do you call yourself pro-life or pro-choice” registered 48% pro-life, 46% pro-choice.  The figure has changed dramatically from when Peter Fitzgerald ran for the Senate.   Pro-life gained about 20 points since then. So applying Capitolfaxblog.com’s math, when you represent at least 48% of the people you’re not representing the whole state but when you reflect 46% you are. But the tactic is a stratagem and Brady would be dumb…if insincere in his beliefs…if he fell for it.  
       Ever since pro-lifer Brady has taken the lead over Pat Quinn, liberals have been flooding him with unsolicited advice—urging the Bloomington senator to cuddle up to the “moderates” on social issues and then on the “inevitability” of an income tax hike when he’s governor.  Their strategy is two-edged.  First by smoothing the “rough edges” of conservatism  off Brady, the Republican  base will be diminished and Brady may lose steam to Quinn. Second, if by chance Brady should win…as governor  he may become malleable enough to  soft-pedal  pro-life and anti-gay “rights” and with unctuous flattery even come around on an income tax hike.   
      That strategy is known as “growing” in office. You get elected and then you “grow” in maturity…ala George Ryan, Judy Baar Topinka and a host of country club candidates.  Catholic Richard M. Daley has “grown” by abjuring his religious tenets on pro-life and homosexuality.  Catholic Dick Durbin has “grown” also.  In short almost all the Democratic legislators have “grown.”  Marvelous.  
      No one is asking that Brady feature pro-life as the main issue in running for governor. But at the same time, it would be a drastic mistake for him to diss or dismiss pro-life if asked.  That’s all I ask. Remember what happened to Bob Kustra when he switched from pro-life to pro-choice.   I’m not saying Brady is considering switching: not at all. I’m saying that the centerpiece of the campaign should be on Illinois’ terrible fiscal crisis…but that when asked, he should not seem to back away or dismiss the issue.       
     Capitolfaxblog.com repeatedly professes  that social conservatism is a no-no for any Republican running statewide. That’s the publication’s personal opinion and bias—nothing more. It doesn’t recognize the latest trend in favor of proceeding along the same old liberal lines. 
        It forgets that pro-lifer Peter Fitzgerald won.   They conveniently forget that of all people, then pro-lifer George Ryan did—while admittedly behind the scenes he was dealing treacherously with Terry Cosgrove of Personal PAC to sell out on life and gay issues. But so far as the electorate was concerned, good ol’ George was the same guy who kept the same views as when he was lieutenant governor and speaker of the House.
       I have said Capitolfaxblog.com is exceedingly useful because it covers Illinois politics like a blanket—but it echoes lefty reportorial opinion by sticking to old, out-of-date circa-1980s-`90s  liberal concepts it grew up with and accepts as absolutes.  Example: It cannot understand this, but pro-life with certain variations in poll-taking questions has taken on the popular majority in the nation. It doesn’t believe it and moreover doesn’t want to believe it.  
            To it, the way to go is pro-abort, pro-gay rights (preferably gay
      marriage), hold on to the size of state government that exists now, agree to
      the “inevitability of income tax increases” and bow obsequies to the gifted
      leadership of the Madigans. I will say this: it is definitely the authentic voice
      of 98% of those reporters in the mass media. You have a couple of beers
      with most newspaper and TV reporters and you’ll hear the same opinions
      as are purveyed by Capitolfaxblog.com.  Frankly, they’re the same
      observations reporters expressed to me years ago when I was a press
      secretary.  No change since then.   
          That’s because most reporters are non-denominational unreligious (some
      flatly irreligious).  Most don’t go to church regularly and regard the subject\
        of religion as cracked and outer-worldly. 
              Accordingly, most big newspaper religion writers are like the quizzical
       Manya Brachear of the Tribune whose columning title is “The Seeker.”
        What’s she seeking? She doesn’t know. Meaning nihilist.  Or the one-time
      religion columnist Cathleen Falsani of the Sun-Times, a Wheaton college
      grad who went south, writes like a flower-child and who admits she
       cheered hurray! on hearing of the death of Jerry Falwell.  The only “good”
      religionists to them were the late Msgr. Jack Egan whose passionate
      support of liberalism trumped religion. Everybody else is to them like Pat
      Robertson—whacky (I’ll admit) who once told me  that God sent a
      hurricane toward his Virginia Beach TV studio and directed the
      storm to another course after Pat prayed—causing it to knock out the town
      of Front Royal. Most journalists think every believer is like old Pat.  They
      never heard of or interviewed the late Richard John Neuhaus.     
      Gene McCarthy used to say big media members are like blackbirds sitting on a telephone wire. Let one light there and the rest flock to join him on the wire.  He flies off and the rest soon join.  It is a tribute to CapitolFaxblog.com that on the subject of Illinois politics, it is usually the first blackbird on the telephone wire…to  be joined by most of the others. Let Capitolfaxblog. com fly off the telephone wire and the others fly with it…Rick Pearson…Lynn Sweet…the Sun-Times menagerie: Mark Brown…Neil Steinberg…Richard Roeper—and soon to come: Walter Jacobson the soon to return Channel 2-CBS “Perspective” walking liberal cliché.  
         Carol Marin, Apassionata van Leftward, doesn’t know what to think until she reads her Capitolfaxblog. com and follows it so closely in her column, on NBC and `TTW that she should pay it double for letting it do her heavy thinking for her.  
          Enough on CapitolFaxblog.com except for one more thing. I hate grammarians believing that in the long-run usage rules.  But there’s one exception wherein I hope usage never rules.  That is the phrase “like I said” for s “as I said.” The publication is determined to win the day with “like I said.”  I devoutly hope that day never comes.  At least not in my lifetime.  
    *: St. John Eudes [1601-1670]. He was born in Normandy, France the son of a farmer.  He attended the Jesuit college at Caen when he was 14 and despite his parents’ wish that he marry, joined the Congregation of the Oratory of France in 1623. He studied at Paris, was ordained in 1625 and cared for the victims of a plague that struck Normandy. He spent the next decade giving missions and became celebrated as a great homilist and preacher.  He founded a refuge for poor and fallen women in Caen, resigned from the Oratorians and founded his own Order, the Congregation of Jesus and Mary at Caen.  
         He founded seminaries at Lisieux in 1653 and Romen in 1659.  He had difficulty getting his new Order accepted at first but finally it was by Pope Alexander III. He shared with St. Mary Margaret Alacoque the vocation of making popular devotions to the Sacred Heart, a book about which he completed a month before his death at Caen on August 19.  He was canonized in 1925.