Monthly Archives: November 2005

>OBSERVATION: How bad is the GOP hurting?

>Taking into consideration the public opinion reports, the results in the recent state elections and the general reporting, one could easily presage big trouble for the GOP in the 2006 mid-term elections. Not as well covered by the press are the equally abysmal polling results for the Democrats. Despite the ebbing enthusiasm for Bush II, the Democrats are hard press to convince the public that they are any better. If there is any conclusion to be drawn, it is that a “plague on both houses” is the prevailing sentiment. This suggest little chance of a Democrat bust out in the by elections.

While the press made much of President Bush losing two state governorships, it failed to adequately point out the fact that both seats belonged to Democrat incumbents – and New Jersey was a long shot going in. There is not a lot to suggest that the voters were swinging away from the GOP.

The upcoming election season of 2006 may not be all that great for the GOP, but we should not place too much to emphasis on current issues. Historic trends must first be considered. If the GOP loses in 2006 far exceed “normal” off year outcomes, THEN we can begin to look at true voter shifts.

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>REACT: She’s baaaaaack.

>The good thing about Hurricane Katrina, it seemed to have knocked Cindy Sheehan off the media “must publicize” list. But, just when I was putting her non-presence on my Thanksgiving list, she re-emerged as the biggest turkey of the day. She is back in Crawford, Texas hoping to spoil President Bush’s holiday dinner.

I like what George Will had to say about her. He opined that she is a Republican plant, designed to make the anti war claque look both nasty and stupid. Those were not exactly his words, but the point was made.

Outside of the media desire to bring down the President, one is hard pressed to see the news value in her crusade. Despite her national exposure and photo ops with the likes of Jesse Jackson, she is hardly able to muster enough protestors to sell out a small town high school play. Let’s face it. For all the media hype it receives, the anti war movement is pathetic — even more so BECAUSE of all the media hype. Without the benefit of much press attention, an old geezer like Billy Graham can fill a coliseum just by promising to show up.

With web sites, book deals and even talk of a movie, the mournful Cindy is the Martha
Stewart of the disloyal opposition. She even got herself arrested, too. A badge of honor to the strident left.

Like the ant at a picnic, Sheehan does not amount to much in reality, but there is an annoying pestiness about her. For me, she has one redeeming value, however. She serves as a convincing example of the liberal bias of the major news media.

>SIDEBAR: Political stridency (case in point #2)

>Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a “box,” that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public “bar” (judge’s bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion.

The most recent incident of right wing political stridency run amok (previous blog item) reminded me of another incident … or maybe several more incidences … of the damage done to good old conservatism by the extremists in our own house.

As most every knows, I am a very hard-line pro-lifer. That did not prevent me from being attacked by one of the religious vigilantes.

Several years ago, I was leading a fight to reopen Chicago’s lakefront Meigs airport after Mayor Richard Daley shut it down and painted an “X” on the runway. The effort to reopen was successful, much to the chagrin of the mayor. So, five years later, Hizzoner bulldozed the runway like a vandal in the middle of the night. But, that is another story.

During the earlier battle, I received an irate call from what I had always perceived to be a pro-life friend. He screamed into the phone, threatening to never associate with me or my activities again. (Listening to him at the moment, I considered that a blessing). In fact, I have not seen nor heard from him since (definitely a blessing).

One prominent personality in my Save Meigs coalition was Richard Phelan, fromer president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Despite his Catholic upbringing, and the plea of his fellow communicants, Phelan personally ordered the restoration of abortions at the county hospital. Needless to say, I was among those who thought excommunication was not inappropriate. However, those were the days of Cardinal Bernadine, who was more interested in his civic public relations than Catholic doctrine.

I explained to the caller that Phelan was the attorney for a group of pilots how had sued the mayor over the issue. But, that was not a suitable response. Having my airport cause supported by Phelan was unacceptable, period. It apparently was my obligation to myopically confront the former board president in the most hostile manner at each and every opportunity. For the caller, society had only one issue.

Finally, in frustration, I told the caller that if he could bring evidence that they were performing abortions at Meigs airport, I would cease my campaign to have it reopened, and disassociate myself from the scorned Mr. Phelan.

As a postscript, I should add that the caller was not one of the highly visible anti-abortion activists, but a ubiquitous fellow traveler. Never the guy on the podium, but the one always yelling from the rear of the room. You know the type, I am sure.

>SIDEBAR: Political stridency (case in point #1)

>Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a “box,” that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public “bar” (judge’s bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion. Don’t you just want to slap a friend around when they go stupid on you.

I was recently dressed down by a conservative colleague for my friendship with President Clinton’s former Democrat National Chairman David Wilhelm. My compliment of Wilhelm brought on a venomous attack from the erstwhile ally, a guy who does not know David at all. The irrational hatred of the former President, and the relationship between him and David, was enough to not only personally slander my friend from the other side of the aisle, but to suggest my own disloyalty to the cause for merely associating with the guy — and even worse, liking him personally. My sin was nothing more than the temerity of saying something truthfully nice about a person on the strident right hate list – or in this case an associate of a person on the strident right hate list. I could not have been more berated if I had complimented Hitler on population planning at a Bnia Brith meeting.

Let me first clear the record. I think Bill Clinton was a morally and ethically challenged, to say the least. His only chance at a legacy is to become the First Hubby of the first woman President. There is no doubt he tarnished the very important moral authority of the White House. His foreign policy was a disaster, and he produced no great memorable programs. Clinton is doomed to be remembered in history more for his erection than his election.

He had three saving graces, however. First: He is what you might call a “charming rogue,” and we tend to like charming rogues. I always figured if Hillary did not kick him out of HER house, no reason for the country to kick him out of the White House. Perhaps that sounds heretical to my blood thirsty brethren. But as a devoted conservative, I think removal from office should be reserved only for the most heinous acts. Bad character and lying are not sufficient. I mean, how many could survive in office against such a standard? I do favor a recall method, however, since it is the people who decide, not the politicians. Then the standard of removal is no higher than public opinion as reflected in the voting booth – as was the case in California.

Second: Clinton was confronted by an overly exuberant GOP, looking less like savvy politicos and more like prune-lipped school marms. The fact that Clinton was not removed from office was more the fault of the Republican lynch mob perception than grassroots support for the Prez. Please understand, I think the impeachment was well deserved for his perjury, if not for his oval office cigar habit. The problem was the removal from office. That is where the GOP and the public departed.

(I had occasion to offer solicited advice to the House Judiciary Committee at the time. I suggested that the House and Senate GOP announce UPFRONT that they did not intend to remove Clinton, but only would impeach him as an appropriate black mark on his already questionable legacy. Without fear of removal, the public would have clamored for the impeachment. I would have removed the Dems most popular argument. Under such a scenario, I think the courts may well have gone beyond pulling Clinton’s law license and really indicted him on the perjury charge – resulting in a possible post-term conviction. But alas, my free advice was given equal value)

Third: If we conservative can get past the personal animus, we have to admit that Clinton governed more to the center than the left, except for a few egregious, and (mercifully) failed, programs pushed by the browbeater-in-chief, Lady Hillary. He did a few things we right wingers could even applaud. The manifest disappointment of the left should be our gauge on those issues.

For the most part, however, I was outspoken critic of Bill Clinton, as a President and as a person. So, what does all that have to do with David Wilhelm. That is the point. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Let me say that David is most certainly a Democrat partisan – even more than I am Republican. He and I can look at the same clock and not agree on the time of day, at least on most issues. On the other hand, David is one of the most descent human beings I have known – especially in politics. He is respectful of other opinions. A surprisingly mild and soft spoken guy. He has a heart of gold. I knew him before he was THAT David Wilhelm … and after. The experience did not corrupt him – literally or figuratively.

It bothers me that so many people see politics as a blood sport. Modern times seem to require the casting of every person into the friend or enemy camp. There are no subtleties, no nuances. You are saintly or evil. In fact, hardly anyone fits into those categories. Most people are a blend of good and evil, right and wrong – even the person you see in the morning mirror.

You may have noticed, I referred to my attacker as an “associate” and David as a “friend.” That was no accident. I much prefer the company of a good person with whom I have broad policy disagreements (and great debates) over that of a hateful ally. So the next time you may spot me having diner in a restaurant, the person across the table is more likely to be David Wilhelm than that other guy.

>OP ED: Governor Ryan: The $10 million baby.

>Illinois Governor George Ryan and his crew were bully politicians with a well known penchant for ruthlessly destroying the lives of the disfavored, while shamelessly enriching the lives of a rather sleazy band of insiders. Their lack of principle, absence of ethics and contempt for the public good have been established beyond any question. The only issue to be resolved is if their skullduggery rose to the level of punishable crime. In some cases, even that has been proven.

Now, we come to learn that this once powerful ne’er-do-good enjoys the pro bono (for the “public good?”) services of a major law firm at the expense of the partner’s profits, and the many clients who will have to make up some of the loss. Ryan already has consumed more than $10 million dollars in free legal services from Winston and Strawn, and the final figure is expected to be double that – not including appeals, if he is convicted. In the meantime, a lot of honorable citizens of modest means and minimal clout will find it impossible to be represented by lawyers willing to do pro bono work on their behalf.

Ryan’s attorney thinks the jury should know of his law firm’s generosity, least they think the former governor has a stash of cash. The Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer wisely suggests that to give that information to the jury is to beg the question, “why?” Good question.

It will be interesting to see if the Internal Revenue Service also will give the former governor a financial gift by not seeking the taxes due on the Winston and Strawn donation of services. For commoners, the provision of such services is a taxable event. But, that is another potential news story. But, maybe the press will also give Ryan the professional courtesy of not inquiring. No end to the potential gift list.

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Clause – even for naughty old men.

>OP ED: Liberals about to lose in court.

>Despite right-wing panic, George Bush knew he had nominated a solid conservative in Harriet Meirs. It did not play out that way. The lack of judicial record and experience that was believed to be a benefit backfired into a disadvantage. Instead of befuddling the opposition of both philosophic wings, it united them in fear – each thinking she would sell out to the other.

Not willing to make that mistake again, the President chose the only kind of candidate he will nominate, a strict constructionist conservative pro-lifer – currently Samuel Alito. Unless the Democrats are willing to block every Supreme Court nominee for the next three years, they have no chance of a pro-abortion justice. The Senate minority is disingenuous in saying there should be no “litmus test” while placing an absolute prerequisite on the question of one specific decision.

The battle may be long and ugly. The pledge not to filibuster is likely to be broken by desperate Democrats, and the Senate may have to change the filibuster rule to re-establish the simple majority “consent” envisioned by the founders (not a bad reform in its own right). The current Democrat position is nothing less than minority dictatorship – attempting to force the nomination of THEIR candidate by obscene obstructionism and character assassination.

Despite short term desperation tactics, the Court will soon shift decidedly to the right. The liberal allusion to “balance” is a public fraud – an arrogant euphemism for liberal dominance. The Supreme Court has nine members so that there is never a “balance” on any issue. The Court is not in balance today, it is a precariously liberal court about to become a conspicuously conservative Court – and the ramifications go well beyond the issue of abortion.

Though seemingly unrecognized, or openly confessed, abortion is not a winning issue for liberals. Most Americans disapprove of abortions, as a practice. Most Americans disfavor various extreme forms of legal abortions. Under the new court, the practice will not be extended. Via various legal challenges, it is more likely that the most egregious and unpopular abortion practices and laws will be trimmed, to say the least.

After time and legal evolution, it is even likely that Roe v. Wade will be overturned in a restoration of moral underpinning (as it should be). One hundred and fifty years ago, the Democrat-controlled Supreme Court declared that blacks had no rights as citizens. The Dred Scott decision was eventually overturned by moral enlightenment – and Republican appointments to the Court.

Even the overturning of Roe v. Wade will not ban abortions, as fear-mongering liberals peddle the argument. It simply de-federalizes the issue, leaving the states in the business of setting legal standards based on local values. If abortion is so popular with the masses, one presumes that states would legalize the procedure. Of course, if I were a pro-abortion liberal, I would not presume the assumption … nor the outcome.