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Buzzer Beater: Krone Takes on Harvard and Mt. Carmel then on to Clinton, Blagojevich and Other Oil Slicks

Phil Krone 9 June 2010 One Comment

Forgive me folks, but I’ve had a bad two weeks with my computer. In 2000 I signed on to Earthlink and when high speed cable became available via my local monopoly Comcast I signed on to it; so now I get Earthlink via Comcast, and outside of Chicago I use a Sprint stick instead of Earthlink dialup. Being a total idiot with computers (don’t ask me what a URL is, or the difference between a browser or a server), I just pay everyone, but when things don’t work I expect to have everything fixed. As you can imagine everyone likes to pass the buck. I just write it off as the cost of doing business, but I truly feel helpless and so dependent upon this technology I don’t understand.

A Tale of Two Graduations

On Thursday, May 27 I attended the Harvard commencement, specifically to witness the graduation of Michael Aktipis as a newly minted lawyer. Michael, of Greek (father) and Austrian (mother) ancestry is from Oakbrook and he previously graduated from Northwestern (BA magna cum laude), then earned an MA as a Fulbright scholar and then a PhD from the London School of Economics and Politics (LSE) as a Marshall Scholar. I met him on a train from Cairo to Aswan in 2004 quite accidentally. He was travelling with three fellow Marshall scholars and I was getting off in Luxor. That accidental meeting led to my securing sponsorship for part of two conferences he presided over at LSE, and I have encouraged him to go to law school (he’s just too good to be a pure academic).

Presiding over the Law School graduation was Dean Martha Minow, also raised in Chicago, the daughter of Newt and Jo Minow.

Mike and his wife Stephanie (who received her PhD in marine biology from Harvard last year) will be living in Washington/London the next two years because he has accepted a position with Cleary Gottlieb, one of the super international law firms. Stephanie, though the leading expert on snails (I too am an expert on snails, the best are served at Kiki’s at 900 N. Franklin) is becoming a very important resource on invasive species. They are a very formidable couple and will contribute much to the future welfare of our nation and world.

After Harvard, I returned to Chicago in time to attend the Sunday, May 29 graduation of Mt. Carmel High School because of my young protégé Enrique Voltaire, son of one of United’s best middle management executives, Calanita LaGuerre. He graduated as a member of the Elysian Chapter of the National Honor Society and will be going on to Penn State. His older brother Emilio starts his junior year at Michigan State this Fall. They are my youngest mentorees and I am so proud of their achievements.

There are many excellent public, private and religious secondary schools in Chicago, and while I have a great affection for many of them, including Whitney Young. Parker, Latin, Peyton, Leo, Hales Franciscan, Marist and my Alma mater Lake View Mt. Carmel is a special, special place.

Under the leadership of President/Principal Fr. Carl, this institution has managed to attract many more applications than they can accept, and while their physical facilities are now in the middle of an almost all black community, more than 60% of the student body is white, the remainder African American and Hispanic and Asian.

This is a phenomenal achievement and Fr. Carl deserves all the support he can get for the work he and his colleagues accomplish, particularly in offering scholarships on merit and need. Otherwise, Enrique could not have attended, though he worked summers to help assist his mother in paying the tuition to augment his substantial but insufficient scholarship. Father Carl believes that everyone in need has to contribute in some way to paying their way. He is a great believer is a behavior based society in which responsibilities match rights.

Harvard and Mt. Carmel, two graduations within four days, and the Mt. Carmel graduation had to be held in a much larger venue than their own auditorium so it was held at Rockefeller Memorial on the University of Chicago campus. The U of C was founded as a Baptist school but Rockefeller Chapel could easily pass for a medieval French Gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral c. 1100-1400.

Emmy Rothschild

About sixteen years ago my wife and I decided to have special birthday parties for my mother and her mother and father. On my mother’s 80th Birthday we took her to the Pump Room, on my father in law’s seventy fifth birthday we rented Mt.Vernon after hours (he being a direct descendant of Mary Ball Washington (George’s mother), and on my mother in law’s 75th Birthday we took the family to the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia.

My beloved doctor, Steven Rothschild and his brother Mark, had the tables turned on them slightly. Their mother invited her whole family to share her 75th Birthday in Quebec City, Quebec at the incomparable Chateau Frontenac. Because I was in Boston in Friday and had to be in Chicago on Sunday I decided to crash the party on Saturday night in Quebec (Boston to Quebec to Chicago, a variation of Dick Morris’ triangulation). It worked. It was a total surprise and added to the festivity.

Both of Emmy and Ed’s children and their wives and five children (Emmy’s grandchildren) were there, so it was a perfect occasion for them (even without me, though my presence was akin to Elijah’s in a very small way).

Two days later I had lunch with my doctor, previously arranged, as Tuesday June 1 was my Chinese 70th Birthday. I was born on March 1, but the Chinese believe you are nine months old when you’re born, and so June 1 was indeed my Chinese birthday. That evening my wife Joan and I celebrated in Chinatown appropriately.

The Blagojevich Trial

Illinois and the nation are fortunate to have Judge James Zagel presiding: a man of integrity, intelligence, wisdom and common sense. The trial will be fair and adhere to all the constitutional guarantees accorded to defendants. I attended the very first day during the initial phase of jury selection and he was doing a masterful job, proven by the silence of both the attorneys for the prosecution and the defense.

An accomplished writer and occasional actor, he understands everything involved in this case, and while he will not permit it to become a ‘media circus’ he understands that this is not a typical commercial case.

Realizing that all his decisions are subject to appellate review he will not quash legitimate subpoenas, but I doubt he will compel the President of the United States to testify. We might very well see Rahm Emanuel, Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Roland Burris testify, but you can be sure that the parameters for questioning will be well set by the Judge.

I hope the Judge allows the proceedings to be televised or at least taped for posterity. In fact, our system calls for ‘public trials’ but beyond allowing the first dozen or so people standing in line to gain admission for free as well as a certain number of media, the rest of the seats might be sold each day either for a price certain or by auction, and perhaps a number of seats should be auctioned off for the complete trial, regardless of length of the trial, sort of like a ‘season pass’ as one highly regarded attorney suggested to me. (This would help defray the national debt – even if ever so minutely).

Lasting at least six weeks and as long as half a year, with heavy but appropriate editing, there should be a good book and movie come out of it. George Clooney or Brad Pitt cold play the Governor, but it would be unfair to have anyone other than Judge Zagel to play himself, and at this point in his career he might think of doing this after going on senior status.

Justice select Elena Kagan

Since I wrote in this column several weeks ago that Elena Kagan’s lack of judicial experience was not unusual, given the fact that Chief Justices John Marshall, Charles Evan Hughes, Earl Warren and William Rehnquist as well as Oliver Wendell Holmes and Felix Frankfurter had no prior judicial experience either, the opposition to her confirmation seems to have evaporated. Also I pointed out that she will be the first third woman to serve on the high court at one time.

I hope no one shouts out that we need to take turns from now on. Boy, girl, boy, girl, etc. Because that could be interpreted another way: choose a woman for every vacancy until we have nine women, and then keep it that way for 192 years and we will have matched the record established from 1789-`1981 (one of the women would have to be black for perfect symmetry).

I have urged that our President appoint only women until he gets to five. He many not get a fifth. But if he gets a sixth the guy might be Cass Sunstein. I don’t think Barack Obama will choose more than five women in a row. I also believe his fifth appointment will be a black woman. I also believe that Bader Ginsburg and Breyer will resign in Obama’s first term, Bader Ginsburg in 2011 and Breyer in 2012.

Clinton for Vice President

The Chicago Blackhawks look like they will win the Stanley Cup. The last time they won was in 1961 and they haven’t come as close as they are now since 1971. But having won 3 out of 4 games, with 3 games to go, the odds on winning at least one (not being an owner I hope it comes soon) are in their favor.

Obviously, the reason why we are winning is because of the team, but the team gets on the ice because of the ownership and manager, and their play is largely set by the coach.

Politics in some ways is like a sport. In Rich Daley’s campaign for State’s Attorney in 1980 which he won by about 16,000 votes out of 2,000,000, I said I didn’t mind losing if we did everything we could have done, but if we didn’t do everything we could have done, over which we had control, than we deserved to lose.

Therefore, once again: I like Joe Biden. I love Joe Biden. It was absolutely correct to have chosen Joe Biden to run for Vice-President in 2008. But in 2012 the running mate for Barack Obama should be Hillary Clinton.

There were many who wanted her to be the candidate in 2008. They had their points but they were wrong. They thought it would bring the party together. They thought it would consolidate all of the primary voters. They thought it necessary to appease the women. Those points had merit. However, it might have been viewed by many as capitulation. Secondly it might have negated, at least somewhat, the clear anti war position Obama made central to his campaign. Third, Hillary would have still had her and her husband’s baggage as a target, plus her high negatives with Independents and Republicans, and certain specific negatives, some going back to her years in Arkansas.

But in 2012 she would be the choice of the incumbent President. In her service as Secretary of State she would have proven that she is a team player. She has sublimated her ego magnificently, and it appears that she really works well with the President on a one to one basis, as frankly does Joe Biden.

Frankly, I don’t know how the transfer takes place. If she is nominated for Vice President in July/August 2012 can she continue as Secretary of State? I think not. Could Biden resign in early 2010, Clinton chosen as Vice President to replace him and he become Secretary of State. Perhaps. He could then remain as Secretary of State well into Obama’s second term, and then possibly make way for Ambassador Holbrooke. There are several other scenarios, but the bottom line is that this is not in any way, shape or form a dump Biden strategy. It is to maximize the strength of the 2012 ticket in a manner which could not have been thought of until the early part of this year.

Whatever happens in 2012 Hillary Clinton is the presumptive presidential nominee in 2016 which I will explain later, not the least reason being that she is four years younger than Vice-President Biden. There are some of her most devoted supporters that are encouraging her to challenge Obama in the 2012 primaries. That would be a fatal error, worse than Ted Kennedy challenging Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Drill Baby Drill

I have a slew of ideas on what needs to be done vis a vis the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, but I frankly don’t have enough technical knowledge to give a conclusive answer (nor do, obviously, the technical experts).

However the following are clear:

This is not the President’s fault. What political blame could be placed belongs to those who have advocated off shore drilling

Secondly, this is not at all comparable to Katrina. Katrina was a ‘natural’ disaster. This was man made.

The most important things on the table now are:

1. Fix the immediate problem as soon as possible.

2. Prepare for future problems so that we will not be faced with the same lack of ability to reach a much quicker remediation.

3. Agree that there has to be much more stringent regulation of offshore exploration, drilling and pumping.

4. Understand that there are international issues at stake, that include more than 12 and 200 mile limits and start preparing to deal with these issues diplomatically and under the rule of law.

5. Stop being contentious and strident in discussing potential solutions and recognizing that there are governmental, political, environmental, engineering, scientific,technical and other dimensions to resolving all of the issues, problems and opportunities.

The other large oil companies have been very silent during this crisis and BP has tried to be well intentioned but have failed.


Phil Krone is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer and a candidate for US Senate in the New York Democratic Party..

One Comment »

  • Dan Kelley said:

    Correction: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., had substantial experience as a state judge in the state of Massachusetts before being nominated for a position on the US Supreme Court. Holmes has been on the state supreme court for two decades before Theodore Roosevelt nominated him for the position of Associate Justice. He was confirmed unanimously by the US Senate.

    Elena Kagan, who was an unsuccessful judicial nominee under President Clinton (the US Senate did not even bother to convene hearings as to her appointment) has been an unimpressive Solicitor General is no Holmes. Apart from public relations work, in terms of unfavorability, the Kagan nomination compares closely with that of Harriet Miers.

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