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 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 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 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 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. 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 made is true—as true as Dillard’s earlier one about Michelle Sadler.  But what would 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.

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