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. 

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