Category Archives: Obit
Former Representative Jim Traficant (D-OH 17th) was critically injured in a tractor mishap on his daughter’s farm in northeastern Ohio. The 73 year old Traficant was believe to be pulling a vintage tractor which tipped over him inside the barn and trapped Traficant underneath the machinery. Paramedics found Traficant unconscious and eventually medivaced him to a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio where he was kept in a medically induced coma to try to stabilize him before he expired.
In a case of sad irony, the accident occurred on the farm which became the focal point of the two month trial in which Traficant represented himself and was convicted on ten counts which included bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion. Thus, the House of Representatives expelled the eight term Congressman on a vote of 420-1 in 2002.
Traficant served seven years in federal prison before being paroled in 2009. While in prison, Traficant turned to art as therapy, which he would sell online to pay for more art supplies. But being in “Club Fed” did not deter Traficant from running for office. In fact, Traficant ran for his old Congressional seat while behind bars and won 15% of the vote vying against his former aide Rep. Jim Ryan (D OH-17th now 13th)
Traficant was a flamboyant figure on Capitol Hill. Traficant insisted on styling a pompadour which Traficant himself called “the weed whacker” but a hairdo which others likened to muskrats mating. In prison, it was became evident that Traficant just sported a bad toupe. Traficant also insisted on wearing out of style clothing in the well of the House, like denim suits and wide lapel sports jackets.
What drew great notoriety for Cong. Traficant was his eccentric, amusing and “earthy” One Minute Speeches.
Traficant would often punctuate his political rant by saying “Beam me up!”, thereby repopularizing the Star Trek catch phrase. Assuredly, Traficant’s quip of “Beam me up” sounds much better than supporters trying to sing it in a polka honoring the paroled Congressman.
These attention grabbing speeches would generate publicity as light hearted news for the low information voter, but these epic rants reflected the blue collar, common sense sentiments of his Mahoning Valley constituents.
James Traficant was a flawed but faithful fellow. May the heavens beam him up and he yields back whatever is left.
Mickey Rooney (ne Joseph Yule, Jr), who had been in show business for virtually his entire life, died at the age of 93 in North Hollywood, California. Rooney was a childhood star who starred in over 300 films and television shows. Rooney was honored with two Academy Awards, one for his role in Boytown (1938) and an honorary Oscar in 1983 for fifty years in the movie industry.
Rooney also earned an Emmy in 1981 for his portrayal of “Bill” about a mentally disturbed man struggling with deinstitionalization.
Despite his enormous acting talent, Rooney led an erratic off-screen life. Film historian Jeanine Basinger opined: “Mr. Rooney had talent to burn, and he burned it…He has done everything there is to
do in show business, all with equal success, and it might be said, equal
failure.” He was married eight times, struggled with substance abuse, womanizing and gambling.
While some may turn askance at Rooney’s messy personal life, it is remarkable how Rooney became an evangelical Christian late in life and continued to share his faith until his passing. In the 1970s, Rooney shared how his Christian conversion occurred in the coffee shop of a Lake Tahoe casino when an angel, disguised as a busboy, whispered “Mr. Rooney, Jesus Christ loves you very much.” After that encounter, Rooney became an active member of the Center for Spiritual Living (a.k.a. Church of Religious Science), founded by Ernest Holmes.
Rooney also relished his relationship with Boys Town, the orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska founded by Servant of God Monsignor “Father” Edward Flanagan in 1917, who is now being investigated by the Vatican for sainthood. The film Boystown was a fictionalized retelling of the “City of Little Men”, with Rooney in his first dramatic role portraying troubled youth Whitey Marsh and Spencer Tracy in the role of Father Flanagan. Father Flanagan dedicated his life to the belief that there is no such thing as a bad boy and the film dramatized the mission.
|[L] Fr. Flanagan and [2nd from R] Mickey Rooney reading first draft of Boys Town script (1938)|
After Boys Town finished filming in ten days and was quickly turned around for release, MGM movie mogul Louis B. Mayer wanted to scrap the film because the grim tale of crime and poverty was too different from MGM’s typical fair. Mayer reportedly exclaimed: “It will never sell. There’s no sex. There’s no songs.” To persuade the MGM studio head, Rooney retorted: “It’s a song of freedom. It’s a song of rehabilitation. It’s a song of
youth, no matter what color or faith you are. It’s about praying. It’s
about living a good life.”
Mickey Rooney took great pride in his association with Boys Town as exhibited in 2003 when he was named Mayor For Life at a ceremony in Girls and Boys Town in Omaha.
|[L] Mickey Rooney and wife of 35 years Jan Chamberlain at Boys Town in 2003|
As Rooney was promoting the Treasure Train (2011), he testified about his Christian faith and spoke with great affection about being the Mayor of Boys Town.
So as we mark Mickey Rooney’s passing, it is worth considering the values from Boys Town that there is no such thing as a bad boy and how dedication to Christ can clarify one’s life.
Mickey Rooney had his own ideas about his last wish. In his 1991 autobiography “Life Is Too Short”, Rooney ruminated about his short stature. Rooney wrote: “I’ve been short all my life. And if anyone wonders what my dying wish
will be, they can stop wondering. That will be easy. I’ll just tell
them, ‘I’ll have a short bier.’ ”
A short bier with a long legacy.
Last week, Stephen Colbert lost his 92 year old mother. Before returning to his satirical schtick, he offered an amazing brief eulogy for the woman who made him the man who he is today.
Colbert put his finger on an important lesson from his mother’s life was that dedication to family and faith allowed her to love life without bitterness despite tragedies which may beset us.
Late in Mrs. Colbert’s life, she sometimes needed prompting to keep her mentally grounded. One question which was always easy to answer was her favorite prayer, which was a children’s prayer in German which she taught several of her eleven children while living in Munich in the late 1940s. That memory certainly seems to summarize Lorna Colbert’s raison d’etre as well as giving a glimpse of heaven.
Jesukindlein kom zu mir,mach ein fromes Kind aus mir.Mein Herzerl ist klein,kann niemand hinein,als du, mein liebes Jerulein.
|Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in US Capitol complex|
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) died today at age 89 from complications from pneumonia. Lautenberg was the last Senator who served in combat during World War II. Lautenberg was elected to the Senate in 1982 and served three terms before retiring in 2000. Lautenberg was enlisted as a last minute candidate in October 2002 after Senator Robert Torecelli (D-NJ) was forced to withdraw from the race due contributions from a businessman with North Korean connections. After great controversy, the New Jersey Supreme Court allowed this extra-legal candidate swap and Lautenberg beat Republican Doug Forrester by 54%-45%. In Lautenberg’s second senatorial incarnation, Lautenberg won re-election in 2008 and had indicated that he did not plan to run again in 2014.
Fox News Channel political contributor Julie Roginsky offered laurels to Lautenberg, to whom she was a senior political strategist, for the man who saved thousand of lives from drunk drivers and secondhand smoke as well as banning those convicted of domestic violence from exercising their Second Amendment rights. Prior to the Soviet Union’s collapse, right center radio commentator Hugh Hewitt pointed out that Senator Lautenberg was instrumental at helping Soviet Jewry escape the Iron Curtain. Indubitably, Lautenberg was a quintessential modern liberal who approved of abortion and gun grabbing.
While I appreciate Julie Roginsky’s adoration for her old political boss, it seemed that almost all of his accomplishments and effective political presence occurred before he retired in 2000. Aside from acting as a leading voice against the George W. Bush Administration’s practice of engaging columnists like Armstrong Williams to publicize policies like “No Child Left Behind”, to this engaged political observer, Lautenberg’s legacy was being a reliable progressive vote. Senator Lautenberg 2.0’s biggest accomplishment seemed to have been a “Campus Fire Safety Act” prompted by a fire at Seaton Hall fire, that was then attached to a Higher Education Reauthorization Act in 2008.
To me, Lautenberg’s legacy is a reminder of how Democrats have consistently tried to manipulate election law when it suits their purpose and insure election. Under New Jersey law, Democrats missed the deadline for replacing a candidate, saying a candidate who wants to get off the ballot must do so at least 51 days before the election, and a replacement must be selected at least 48 days before the vote. Toricelli dropped out 36 days before voters went to the polls and the then 78 year old Lautenberg was switched in 35 days before the election. No matter to the Democrat dominated New Jersey Supreme Court, which rationalized the substitution by invoking “the general intent” of election law, acting “for the public interest” to preserve a vigorous “two party system.” The problem is that none of that lexicon existed in the public statute.
So despite all of the good works that Lautenberg lovers may lionize during his first stint in the Senate, this political animal laments that Lautenberg’s legacy is being remembered as a political hack who was used to eviscerate election law. After being ushered into office again, the best that can be said about the later Lautenberg is that he was a reliable liberal vote. At worst, the electoral corruption stinks of the worst of New Jersey and is a reminder of how broken the American electoral process seems to be.