Saturday, June 26, 2004

Uh, Captain, I don't think we should land on that planet.

Well, humiliated by their own all-too-public cannibal orgy in regard to Jack Ryan's marital escapades, Illinois Republicans are attempting to make lemonade out of their own steaming innards. Here's their wacky new scheme, with the Illinois Leader as head Flying Monkey: plans to sue for Kerry divorce records

Friday, June 25, 2004

CHICAGO - This afternoon, Leader Media President Dan Proft announced that plans to file suit to obtain Massachusetts' Senator John Kerry's, the presumptive Democrat nominee for President, sealed divorce records from his first marriage to Julia Thorne which was later annulled.

"The Chicago Tribune and a Los Angeles Family Court judge have established a new standard for the release of marital and custodial documents," said Proft referring to the recent Jack Ryan decision. "Okay, then everyone in the public arena needs to be held to that standard. John Kerry is the start, but there will be others we will seek to hold to this new standard."

Proft was a paid staffer for the Jack Ryan for US Senate campaign in Illinois. Ryan announced today that he would be withdrawing from the race.

Developing story . . .

Uh, OK. If this even gets off the ground, I don't think it's going to get very far. It certainly isn't going to get much public sympathy. Julia Stinson Thorne is a very private person and supports her husband's candidacy. I'll bet the records were sealed because they would dredge up a bad time in her life.

I've looked for more information on the details of that first divorce, and can't find anything much, except for an old Usenet post that in turn links to a deleted Hesiod entry. I'm not sure what that's about.
I've continued looking, and I found this yadda-yadda-yadda on a blog with a major agenda:

MORE SLEAZE: The sickening, scumbags, and "crooked liars" of the rightwing attack establishment are also going after John Kerry over the breakup of his first marriage to Julia Thorne. One of the "crooked liars" calls it "John Kerry's New Gingrich Problem." They argue that Kerry dumped his wife due to political ambition, in the midst of her

The truth, of course, is 180 degrees from what the "crooked liars" say it is.

According to Julia, herself:

[t]wo years after her first suicide attempt (in 1980), she separated from Kerry "because I had to be on my own. I had to force myself to be my own person, to call my own shots. My choice was not to do this within my marriage. It was very hurtful to John. But at that time I was not thinking rationally. I was all emotion."

March 8, 1994, Boston Globe. Kerry did not actually divorce his wife until 1988, although they remained separated for that entire period.

Later, he sought an annulment so he could re-marry Teresa Heinz. Ms. Thorne thought it was "disrespectful," but still supported her husband, and did not contest it. She believed it did not comport with Church doctrine.

UPDATE: More details from the Washington Times:

"Julia Th0rne says she sees no need to contest her ex-husband's request because she does not recognize the validity of the church proceeding.

Mrs. Thorne says she still supports Mr. Kerry politically and is glad he is happy in his new marriage to Heinz food fortune heiress Teresa Heinz.

But Mrs. Thorne, an Episcopalian, said the church's approach to the issue "was disrespectful to me . . . and devoid of any sense of the humanity of what this means to me and the children."

Washington Times, April 11, 1997.
So, she called the CHURCH "disrespectful," not John Kerry.

UPDATE: Even more details from an April 10, 1997 story in the Patriot Ledger:

"[Julia] Thorne said she does not think she needs to contest Kerry's request for an annulment because she does not recognize the validity of the proceeding, and wants to allow Kerry and Heinz to participate fully in church practices."
So, I went looking for the original article from the Patriot Ledger. I don't know if the archive was wacky, or if I did something wrong, but I couldn't pull up the 1997 article. The latest date I could get was 2000. If you can grab this article, please post it.

It sounds as though Julia didn't contest the annulment, and that, in fact, it was granted. How else to explain the "participate fully in church practices" comment?

Also, Andrew Sullivan asserts that the annulment was granted, but I think it's from a weird source: The Washington Blade.

So it sounds as though Julia Thorne may have suffered from depression for a long time--probably long before there was widespread awareness and a reduction in its stigma quotient. She's written openly about her depression since, and I think I'll try to read her book to see what she has to say on the subject. But I think, just like Kerry's military records, this is going to go nowhere, and if the Illinois Leader insists on pursuing it, I think they're going to end up with even more egg on their face. Folks, I think, for your own good, you should quit while you're behind.

Want some cheese with that whine?

So Jack Ryan is now out of our Senate race, and much as Downstate would love to have participated in the hour-by-hour coverage of his trainwreck, dissertation and work deadlines took priority. But we see that our blue-eyed State Swinger couldn't ride off into the sunset without a mean, petty, and totally irrelevant snipe:
"What would take place, rather, is a brutal, scorched-earth campaign--the kind of campaign that has turned off so many voters, the kind of politics I refuse to play," Ryan said.
A bizarre thing to say, considering that Obama's campaign had absolutely nothing to do with Ryan's fall from grace. The culprits? The Republican voters who didn't properly vet Ryan in the first place, the (Republican) Chicago Tribune who sought Ryan's divorce records for reasons I don't fully understand, and state Republican officials, who saw the phrases "whips and chains" and "have sex in public" and got a bad case of the vapors. Buncha ninnies.

Talk about scorched-earth tactics. I don't believe for one minute that Obama would even have mentioned Ryan's marital transgressions. Of course, he didn't have to, but still. As expected, his response was to express sympathy and then to say he was glad to be able to bring the debate back around to the issues again. We love our Obama, and we don't want to hear the Republicans pouting in November that if it weren't for Ryan's sex scandal Obama would have been beatable, when we know that simply isn't true.

Downstate believes that the Republicans are being silly about sex once again, but also that if Jeri Ryan's allegations are true, this is still a character issue. We strongly agree with Juan Cole's assessment:
The troubling issue here seems to be that Jeri alleges that Jack tricked her into going to the clubs, so this was a compulsion he had that she did not share...If Jack Ryan would trick her that way, he might trick the public. So if what she alleged is true (and the Borg are incapable of subterfuge, it should be remembered), that would be the key issue. On the other hand, this all happened some years ago; he clearly had some sort of sex addiction at the time, which he may have kicked by now, and addictions compel people to do things they would not otherwise do. People change.

The one counter-indication I know of is the dirty trick Jack Ryan pulled of having Obama followed around by cameramen. That sounds coercive and manipulative, and falls within his earlier pattern of enjoying forcing others to exhibit themselves (the postmodernists might call it sado-alter-exhibitionism). In essence, he treated Obama just the way he treated Jeri. That is not a good sign.

Bottom line, the question for the good people of Illinois should not be whether Ryan is kinkier than Obama, but a) whether Ryan still uses people instrumentally to get his rocks off and b) whether Ryan could accomplish something for their state that Obama cannot.
And the answer to that two-parter is, respectively, "yes and no."

Friday, June 18, 2004

One of ours

Highly decorated Illinois soldier killed in Iraq
A highly decorated soldier from Lake Zurich was killed in Iraq. Major Paul Syverson III, died when his base 50 miles north of Baghdad was hit by a rocket. Syverson, who was injured while serving in Afghanistan, was scheduled to come home in two weeks.
Downstate sends condolences to the family, including the baby girl who will never know her father.

Sigh...bad timing...

I finally get around to starting my liberal blog, only to discover that there's now a snark shortage.

And, no, the alternatives are not an option.

So, anyways, I'll soldier ahead, snark or no snark!

I keep an online journal elsewhere on the Web. But increasingly, it's seemed that when I post political links to that journal they get kind of a lukewarm-to-chilly reception. I don't want to bore or offend anyone with the subjects that have been obsessing me more and more in the past few years, so I decided to separate those posts out into a separate blog.

I've named this blog "Downstate" because I moved to downstate Illinois after living in Chicago for around ten years and being used to believing that my city was the center of the universe. Now I live south of I-80, and it's a very different world, with very different kinds of issues. Chicago has an enormous infrastructure, and despite the fact that Mayor Daley is pretty much the biggest cog in the Chicago political machine, and kind of a goofball sometimes when he opens his mouth, the city really does run well, and for the most part, it takes care of its people.

Here we're not a terrorist target, but the landscape is a lot more fragile. A major company closes, or Walmart moves in, and seven or eight once-thriving farming communities vanish. And the fate of my employer, the biggest university in Illinois, is closely tied to the state budget. I know where I stand on the whole Illini controversy, but it's still giving me a tremendous headache. More about that later.

But I like Illinois a lot. We're a relatively progressive Midwestern state with a diverse population and one of the largest cities in the country (which can hold its own against many in the world). I live in an area where a lot of cutting-edge academic high-technology research is currently going on, and it's a very civilized place.

I know that there are other Illinois political blogs out there, some of them as liberal as this one. But I don't think one more could hurt.