RADIO DAY . . . Radio talker Bill Bennett on WIND competing with Don & Roma on WLS, both AM in Chicago, is like Shakespeare vs. Mickey Spillane. Bennett has a working philosophy of being guided by callers. Always reasonable, never cranky, smart guy, lots of experience. Caller the other day said he’d heard Katie Couric on the NBC Today show listening respectfully to NBA player Riotous (But Still Righteous) Ron Artest and the players rep. Artest waved his new CD for viewers, making a fifteen-minutes-of-fame sales opportunity of being suspended for fighting fans in the stands. The players’ rep, Billy Hunter, connected the players’ riot to the Iraq war, implying that we are desensitized to violence and that’s why Artest et al. fought fans. (I did not make that up.)

Matt Lauer on the same show, on the other hand, hit Artest hard with his record of suspensions for bad behavior, including smashing a TV camera. Artest responded that he had paid (been fined) $100G for that smashed camera and asked mockingly, "Where’s the camera at?" Laura Ingraham, whose show follows Bennett’s on WIND, made much of that. She’s funny and works off good insights, as how silly it is to blame the culture for one’s actions when conservative culture warriors have been mocked and scorned for decades for knocking the culture. She is a sort of Ringling Brothers to Bennett’s Shakespeare.

Meanwhile, if you want ongoing, daily critique of TV people like Couric (and often Lauer), you do not go to mainstream media (MSM) reps but to Media Research Center (MRC), whose web-based reporting is based entirely on this day this, that day that. Picky, picky, in view of one MSM media reporter in an email to me some months back. It's called inductive reasoning, I replied. MRC’s Brent Bozell et al. – another site is Accuracy in Media – nail the daily cases of left-wing bias. I would have thought a nod in that direction was in order by the MSM fellow, but he did not want to hear about it.

Jim Romenesko, of Poynter Institute, has quite thorough web-based coverage of (mostly left-oriented) media shop talk. It’s a good place to find MSM replies to bloggers and others, but it’s usually no place to find what MRC and Brent Bozell discover from their right-wing (majority-voter) perspective. Romenesko does a good job telling what LA Times and Wash Post writers say about bloggers, for instance.

One of the latter has a very long column billed as "Unconventional Wisdom," in which he delivers conventional wisdom about bloggers – "spectacular lack of judgment . . . abundant arrogance" – repeating the objection that they should never have run with those exit polls. This is an aside, however: the column is about exit polls, as for instance, that Republican voters are traditionally underrepresented in them, and networks’ unwillingness to ignore them this time, though cautioned to do so by a major exit pollster. The columnist is Wash Poster Richard Morin, q.v.


Chicago, get ready for chaos, warns suburban moneybags fellows with whom Sun-Times Saturday columnist Tom Roeser had lunch with. Daley II riding for a fall with multiple scandals, signs of mismanagement. Two congressmen in the wings, neither of them a Harold Washington. Daily crisis press conferences a-coming, Louis XVI revisited.


FOUND IN FALLUJAH . . . Run quick, Chicagoans, and get yr Trib with its p-1 James Janega latest from Fallujah, where Marines found torture chambers and terrorist banners and more.

(It’s P-1 in hard copy, with jump to last pg of first section, story of the day, paired with Liz Sly’s out of Baghdad, an overview about coming elections, but it’s hard to find on the Trib’s web site, whose p-1 has the black-victim picture Trib editors love to run, going with YESTERDAY’S p-1 hard cover story with frightening, not to say scare, headline, "Poor live housing nightmare while investors reap benefits." Wait, Chi Trib site caught up to its hard copy sometime after 6:30, when it still had yesterday’s stories. Something wrong here: is this a Toonerville Trolley of a news operation, or isn’t it?)

Janega’s "Blood, knives, cage hint at atrocities: Tip leads U.S. to alleged al-Zarqawi house of torture" – a much more matter-of-fact announcement than yesterday’s – is his usual telling what he sees and hears. It closes with what’s written on the wall of a "dungeon-like room, pitch-black" except for Marines’ flashlights next to "a bloody fingerprint" – in English and Arabic the cryptic words:

"Put . . . "
"Kept . . . "
"Plan . . . "
" . . . to pass on"

– all in English and Arabic – and beside them one more word, "written only in giant Arabic loops:

Janega also tells of:
* "a steel bar bolted into the bathroom wall," from which "a chain dangled,"
* "a cage tucked into a corner, cobbled together from rusted bits of wire, chicken coops, broken crates and twist ties . . . tall enough for a person to stand in,"
* "a disassembled hand grenade, rubber gloves and numerous bottles of chemicals," including potassium cyanide identified by a translator, who "at that point Sunday afternoon . . . was the only one who could talk."


PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS: “Most agree on this: The United States has an image problem,” says Sun-Times’s Lynn Sweet in today’s column over-ambitiously entitled, “What in the world awaits Condi?” as in Condoleezza Rice, our new sec. of state. Muslims and Canadians do not approve of our war in Iraq, for instance. Golly.

The goal is "to advance U.S. interests and security and to provide the moral basis for U.S. leadership in the world” by “public” diplomacy, says Sweet. An undersecretary’s position, currently empty, would normally handle this.

“There is a sense of urgency,” she says, felt by whom she does not say. She discusses this “public” diplomacy in spin-control terms: counter the lie right away, nip lies in buds.

But then she notes that the “regarded” Colin Powell, apparently meaning well-regarded, did not travel enough and so neglected “personal” diplomacy, staying home to protect his Rumsfeld-threatened turf. But Rice’s turf is not threatened. So:

“Rice should start traveling.

“A lot.”

(Paragraph structure in original.)

The unfilled-undersecretary-post problem is left behind.


Then (no transition) we are told about Congr. Henry Hyde, who “wrote . . . public diplomacy-related provisions in” (into?) a bill intended to reform our intelligence operation.

What's more, we have not enough translators. This problem is “massive,” in case you thought the lack of both public and private diplomacy was big.

Wait. “Back on [to?] public diplomacy.” Period.

(Sweet’s mother was scared by a telegraph operator, as boys in the 40s gibed about an untoward penchant: the penchant-holder’s mother had a nasty fright during pregnancy, leaving the holder with said penchant. If a kid repeated himself, his mother had been scared by a broken phonograph needle. Not brilliant but serviceable on the playground.)

Then Sweet speaks of a “Broadcasting Board of Governors” and its “startups” since Sept. 11, 2001.

“But public diplomacy is more than just good PR,” she writes, meaning radio programs – the “startups” just mentioned. Then she names more things to do, including “grants to developing nations to develop its [their?] own free press, putting content on the Internet and increasing money into [italics added] Arabic and Chinese language training. It's the whole message.”

I’ll say. But excuse me. I have to go increase some money into the parking meter. They are nasty about that stuff in Oak Park, demonstrating no diplomacy whatever.


Can't imagine who's doing a better job in Fallujah than Chi Trib's James Janega, here with another day in the city that became a battlefield. He eyeballed the aftermath in houses, spotting family pictures and sandbags (used by insurgents), dusty Koran and English-speaking textbook, prayer rug and teacups, a can of men's black hair color with "Happy Days Again" written on it in English.

In one such house, he writes, an insurgent waited in the dark and when a five-man U.S. squad opened the door, rolled a grenade toward them that killed one and wounded four. Claim cards are left in each house so that the owners can eventually be compensated by us.


EMBEDDED . . . Chi Trib's James Janega showed up for work again in Fallujah, hanging out with GIs including Sgt. Marc Veen, 24, of Chicago, watching him at his rooftop post plugging an enemy sniper. "He would have gotten one of my buddies," Veen told him.

He was with them as they rested or slept. One marked a grenade he meant to launch later. "This is 4 my buddy," he inscribed. His buddy had been killed the previous day. "It hurts," said the sergeant, from Norristown, Pa., who'd been at it for three days. "I can't really think about it because I have to look out for my guys."

"Grief he pushed off," wrote Janega. "Rage he kept."

The dead buddy's wife (now widow) "lives across the street from my wife," the Pa. sergeant said softly. "I'm all about fighting."

Later the chaplain, preaching in a ruined kitchen, quoted St. Paul: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." He spoke "with his right hand raised and eyes clenched shut, ignoring muffled blasts from the street."

"We pray to the heavenly father for our wives, our children, our parents. . . " he said. "Give us victory, victory, victory."

A few weeks ago, in Chicago, Janega was reporting on what Judge Anne Burke told Loyola U. audiences about clergy abuse and bishops. I noticed a change in the electronic version, with the notation that a mistake had been corrected and thought, that's 21st-century journalism: mistakes can be corrected.

I emailed Janega to that effect, and he got back, full of apology for making the mistake in the first place. He surprised me with that. Reporters err; it was correcting the error that had struck me. The guy is conscientious, as is clear from this battlefield reportage.


Chi Trib's James Janega rode a tank to work. If Sun-Times man Tom Fitzpatrick got a Pulitzer for on-spot reporting for his deadline piece on Weatherman rioting in Chicago in the 70s, what about the guy who tells us what the tank gunner says -- "Wow. We're the only ones left here" -- when word comes of enemy success up ahead in the mean streats of Fallujah?


Copy editing Chi Trib (somebody has to do it):

Consider this of 11/12/04, "Experts see states as force in fighting global warming," in which Stevenson Swanson and his editors can’t decide if he’s talking about warming or states or Bush, who won’t sign the Kyoto treaty.

NEW YORK -- [Delete: With the re-election of President Bush, state governments and big business will likely be the biggest forces pushing policies and developing innovative technologies aimed at reducing U.S. emissions of the gases scientists say are causing global warming.]

[Delete: That forecast by leaders in the environmental and business communities is based on the Bush administration's opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement that seeks to cut the amount of so-called greenhouse gases that enter the atmosphere, where they trap heat.]

The nation’s environmental and business leadership is unanimous in its opinion that what Bush won’t do about global warming, someone else will have to do, namely the states and big business. [If not unanimous, then what? Don’t just say leaders. How many, please, if that’s not too much to ask.]

The Kyoto treaty, which Bush rejected, requires industrialized countries to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate-changing substances on average by 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels.

[Delete: When the president] Bush [we know he’s the president] rejected the treaty in 2001 [Delete: he said the agreement was], calling it fatally flawed because it excluded developing nations [Delete: such as], including China and India. Forcing U.S. businesses to reduce their emissions while letting companies in those countries off the hook would drive up the cost of American products and cost jobs, Bush said.

[Delete: An August report by an administration official indicated that the buildup of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere was the most likely explanation for global warming, a shift from the administration's previous position of emphasizing the scientific uncertainties of climate change.]

In support of Bush, the administration emphasized the scientific uncertainties of climate change but in August reported [Delete: report by an administration official indicated] that global warming [Delete: the buildup of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere was] is the most likely explanation [Delete: for,] thus producing significant doublespeak. [just kidding about the doublespeak reference, which is what Swanson means or what he says means if he doesn’t know it but may constitute editorializing]

But Bush still believes that rejecting [Delete: the] Kyoto [Delete: accord] was [Delete: the] right [Delete: move], Environmental Protection Agency Administrator [top dog? source of just mentioned August report, unaccountably unsourced by Swanson?] Mike Leavitt [yes, top dog: I looked him up; he’s Michael O. Leavitt, former governor of Utah, though apparently just good old Mike to Swanson] told [Delete: The] Associated Press since the election. [Delete: in a postelection interview with]

In any case [got to have transition here, can’t just string things together, even if the items are pearls], the administration favors voluntary over mandatory measures [Delete: programs] to reduce the emissions from automobiles, power plants and factories that Kyoto supporters blame for warming. Moreover, the administration has [Delete:] also allocated several billion dollars to support [Delete: the] development of new technologies such as hydrogen cells that [Delete: would] power cars without producing carbon dioxide. But such technologies are thought to be many years away from widespread use.

. . . etc. etc., all to make Swanson’s meaning clear, so as to keep readers’ attention.
More more more, from (now) several blocks away, in the Apparel Center . . . Sun-Times religion writer Cathleen Falsani, who often takes a celebrity approach to her beat – her Hugh Hefner interview comes to mind. – had an
11/12/04 interview with a considerably more attractive subject, a woman who saved Jews from Nazis in the 40s. She opened with fairly feckless questioning: "What is morality? Who is moral? And whose morals are we talking about anyway" but then declined to enter this "Great Moral Debate of ‘04," writing, "I will demure."

No. She will be demure about it – reserved, modest, shy? Hardly. No "be" is missing, but an "e" has sneaked in to do damage to her message. She will "demur" – show reluctance. And even then she’s doing more than show reluctance; she is declining or even refusing.

How does one know this? One looks it up in the Compact OED, here and here. The origin "perhaps" of each is the Old French "demourer" – ‘remain, stay’, influenced by ‘mur’ – ‘grave.’ The noun "grave," so that one is quiet as ...? Or the adjective, so that one is very ("tres") serious. I do not know. I am a copy editor, not a lexicologist.


Check out David Sullum's today in which he contemns (subjects to withering contempt) tax-funded stadiums. Yes, many the taxpayer, even those rooting in person for the home team, will say yea to that, what with Reinsdorf and friends getting hundreds of million from Mother Illinois for that new thing at 35th & Shields.

But would it not be better if the goateed, bespectacled, earnest-looking (and well-informed) Sullum, a doughty libertarian, had NOT opened with the damning admission that he has gone just once in his life to a major league game and found it boring? Is there no libertarian editor who could have told him, I know what you mean, but you have friends out there for whom this admission constitutes a self-damning admission of unreliability?

Jacob, don't do it, they would have said. Skip the confession about almost never going to a ball game and being bored when you do. It's not worth it.

That said, Jacob makes hash of the publicly funded stadium, with special attention today to the imminent rise of the baseball Senators. Its 41,000 seats will cost a half billion-plus in public money raised by a new tax on business, that source of all wealth whom we love to hate. Not to worry, says DC Mayor Anthony Williams, 364 new jobs averaging $260,000 will supply the deficit. (But how many of those jobs are popcorn vendors, how many pouty superstars?)

Furthermore, cruddy Anacostia, where the stadium would be built, will rise with the new Senators, or Nationals or whatever. Yes, with baseball-season in-stadium eateries, etc. Stadiums are a bonanza for parking lot owners and people with big back yards they can pave over or rooftops from which paid spectators can watch the game if the team owners have not blocked their view with various devices. And bars to which game-maddened fans can repair afterwards, yes. This is neighborhood revitalization?

80 economists don't think so, Sullum tells us. Nothing notable will come of a new stadium, they told the mayor, who almost certainly pitched their letter forthwith into the nearest spittoon. Spending just moves around, they said, citing "a vast body of economic research." And it normally takes a very strong man to withstand that kind of pressure. In fact, 37 cities were hurt by presence of pro teams 1969-96, according to a Cato Institute paper that had something to say about "significant negative impact on the level of real per capita income." That sort of talk may go with spectacles and goatees and people who don't go to games, but should we ignore it?

Meanwhile, in DC Sullum wonders what other effects there will be, thanks to the expected tax on large businesses (whose owners are outnumbered at the pools by owners of small businesses and owners of no businesses) and its expected lowering of wages and raising of prices.


WLS's Don & Roma raised, dodged issue about 100 lb. female cop overpowered and disarmed by 230 lb. carjacker whom she had pursued into a vacant lot. Made whole issue the dumb one about who�s right, mother who says he�s a good boy or cops who tell bad things he did. Callers immediately raised the other issue, whether this cop was the man for the job. These (male) callers, some of them apparently cops themselves, raised the not-ready issue gingerly and secondarily at first. But it soon became top item, with Don saying several times he didn�t want to talk about it.

Eventually a man called saying he�s a veteran of eight (not nine or seven) bar fights, saying a good small woman or man can get the better of a much bigger guy with the right punch administered quickly. And Roma chimed in to say there are 65 male cops who would also have been disarmed by this big guy. So Chicago�s hot conservative couple dodged the obvious.

What were they thinking when they brought it up in the first place? Tiny female cop easily bested by big offender, and nothing is to be said about lack of physical parity? Callers are put off, Don not wanting to go there, Roma getting defensive? What�s up in Don & Roma Land, newly repopulated by them after long contract-fight hiatus? They sell well and are worth a lot, but was what they say on air part of the dispute? How big a part?

(Yes, these are not newspaper performers, but radio talkers are people too.)


Notice, please, this in today's Chi Trib, by deputy edit page editor John McCormick, once of Newsweek, about "the press" missing a story because of its insularity. He shows (diplomatically) how Chi Trib ran stories that did not miss the story, in this case how the nation was veering towards "exercised values" vote orientation, while articulating nicely the beef vs. mainstream media -- MSM in blogger parlance. Yes, Virginia, Chi Trib is quoting National Review Online, and Newt Gingrich too.