Lisa knows bigots

Far be it from me to tell Chi Trib reporter Lisa Anderson and her presumed editors how to do their job, but what about her lead today in her story “Court told board urged creationism: Witness says she was shocked by bigotry”?

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Nine months pregnant at the time, Dover High School alumna Christy Rehm found herself so shocked by some of the religiously bigoted statements made by members of the Dover school board in June 2004 that she feared she would go into labor, she testified in federal court here Wednesday.

It’s settled then.  The statements were bigoted.  Thanks, Lisa.  We would have had to make that judgement ourselves if you hadn’t put it that way.  On the other hand, if you had written “some of what she considered religiously bigoted statements,” we would have been inclined to read further.  As while starting a mystery novel or any good story.  You’re allowed to do that, Lisa (and presumed editors) — report it fair and balanced (copyright Fox News), letting us decide.

I made myself read on, however, just to check, and found this as Exhibit A:

"This country wasn't founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution. This country was founded on Christianity, and our children should be taught as such."

And this as Exhibit B:

the comment came from Bill Buckingham, a vocal critic of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which states that life evolved through random mutation and natural selection. The theory is widely accepted by scientists,

witnesses said.  (Buckingham denies it.)

Lower in the story, we read of subpoenaed reporters, a Mich. State U. prof who says the intelligent-design argument (at issue here) takes us “beyond the boundaries of the natural world” and so does not belong in a biology classroom, same prof saying Intel Design takes us back to pre-Enlightenment days, and a Baptist pastor saying its alternative is “bonehead happenstance.”

So some good reporting, but that lead ‘graph hurts, because it MAKES US SCEPTICAL ABOUT EVEN THE REPORTING.  Don’t Lisa and her (presumed) editors get it?  Their credibility is at stake.

By way of ex-Jesuit commentary on story substance — in addition to the above ex-newsman analysis of the story as such — the courtroom argument apparently was between science and religion.  What, no philosophy?  Some very sophisticated scientific, nay mathematical minds plump for Intel Design, arguing in philosophical mode to their conclusions.  And who’s Enlightenment-oriented more, the firm believer in an accidental universe (the pastor’s “bonehead happenstance”) or the arguer from data, in this case incredible amazing complexity that works? 

Finally, it seems less a matter of answers than of questions.  Some are verboten, it seems.  There are no mysteries.  Which is scientism, not science, it seems to me.


Lisa Anderson said thanks for my “thoughtful comments,” adding that it would have been clearer if she had written "said she found herself so shocked...."  Good.

Reader Wade had already read her lead a few times and thought that if Rehm had said the statements were bigoted, the lead was correct, at least in paraphrase. It's she who voiced the conclusion, not the reporter.  If she said something else, the lead was wrong.  If she didn't SAY "what she CONSIDERED bigoted statements," then it wouldn't be right to add that element to the lead, even if that approach makes the story sound less pre-judgmental or even biased.  To which I responded, “Quote marks would have done it,” adding a little later:
That said, you have me thinking.  The paraphrasing route seems familiar.  Accepted practice, that is.  So I may be questioning accepted practice.  The problem may antedate the Bush 2 administration, plus Clinton, plus . . .  Our heroes of Front Page were rascals, we now think.  Things changed?  May change again?
Thus progress might be made.  Anyhow, that paraphrasing is misleading, I have decided; in fact, it’s inaccurate.  Lisa’s self-correction as above sounds about right.


On mark

From Romenesko-Poynter this gem:

Hartford Courant
One of JoAnn Klimkiewicz's sources for her "Newspapers in Crisis" piece is newspaper design consultant Alan Jacobson. He says: "No reader is clamoring for longer stories. They want to get in and out quick. But what newsrooms value is not what readers value. A hundred-column-inch story about the white rhino is not what sells the paper on Sunday. ... Newspapers don't want to hear that, but it's true."
Wish I’d said it.



LA Times tells how media contributed to Katrina chaos (Drudge headlines it):  “. . .  a frenzied media recycled and amplified many of the unverified reports.”

. . . newspapers and television exaggerated criminal behavior in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, particularly at the overcrowded Superdome and Convention Center.

Mayor Noggin did his part:

Indeed, Mayor C. Ray Nagin told a national television audience on "Oprah" three weeks ago of people "in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

And Oprah, having nodded and sympathized, plans to have him on again to explain himself.  NOT!

Police Chief Eddie Compass — who resigned today, by the way — appeared with Mayor Noggin on Oprah, telling of  "little babies getting raped" at the Superdome.

So ladies and gents, keep your grains of salt ready next time you hear or read reporters getting excited.  That’s our lesson for the day

Missing while indicted

Just caught Michael Brown of FEMA fame or infamy, giving as good as he got from congressional inquisitors, among other things describing Louisiana as a “dysfunctional state,” in contrast to the other states he dealt with during Katrina.  It had no disaster coordinator, for one thing.  Why not? he was asked.  He’d been indicted, answered Brown.


I do believe this guy is on to something:

I'm starting to get bored with reporters giving us a "front row" seat when a hurricane makes landfall. It was impressive the first couple of times they did it, but it is now old hat and all I can say when I look at the sheer silliness of the melodrama is, "Do we really need this kind of reporting and is their play-by-play reporting really newsworthy?"

Bored isn’t the half of it.  How’s depressed?  (Blog gateway www.instapundit.com has this.)


Pioneer Press got with the seminarian-crash story.  Finally.  It adds to what’s been said, raising the question whether charges would be filed against the pizzeria, Emil’s, on Route 176 in Mundelein, for over-serving the driver. More:

Neither of the deceased were wearing seat belts. Both were outside the car by the time help arrived, but it is unclear to what degree, if any, the young men had been moved.

Rowlands did not present himself as a police officer; the impersonating charge is based on the badges that were found.

All calls by Pioneer Press to St. Mary's were referred to the Chicago Archdiocese.

Rowlands is due back in court in Waukegan on Oct. 4, Spaulding on Oct. 19.

Pioneer Press got with the seminarian-crash story.  Finally.


This guy make-a me laugh:

Why Geffen could never partner with Tribune to own LAT

Los Angeles Times
David Geffen, who wants to own the Los Angeles Times, has reportedly said he'd be happy with modest profits. "This means there's no way he could ever be a joint owner with the Tribune Co., because a statement like that at a board meeting could land him at the bottom of Lake Michigan," writes Steve Lopez. "Those of us who work here are split as to whether we'd prefer local ownership by an ego-driven private wannabe who doesn't know what he's doing, or corporate geniuses based somewhere in the Midwest."
Posted at 9:08:01 AM

By Romenesko of Pointer.


Brian, are you grieving?

Los Angeles Times
NBC anchor Brian Williams says reporting Hurricane Katrina has moved him to consider other areas of coverage that he says need to be addressed. He tells Matea Gold: "I will be asking my network to lead a discussion on the issues of class, race, energy, the environment, disaster planning, Iraq -- all those things and more. This encompasses so many of the major issues of our time." (Related AP story.)
— from Pointeronline’s Jim Romenesko letter. 
B. Williams has discovered the other America.  He doesn’t ride the subway enough maybe?  In and out of limos, is he, with barely time to tip the driver?  He does one story and has ideas for entire coverage for his bosses, stem to stern.  Well (a) it won’t sell, because people won’t want to hear his moanings and groanings and (b) his list is all left-wing: nothing about the state of marriage in the U.S., especially among blacks, and its ravages; the decline of literacy coast to coast, especially among blacks; the increased sense of dependence on government as opposed to personal responsibility, especially among blacks.  He’s got the same old tired subjects and you know where he will get his coverage playbook when the time comes.  What a jerk.
(For ongoing top-flight inner-city coverage, see Manhattan Institute and its City Journal, with special attention to Heather Mac Donald, author of The Burden of Bad Ideas: How Modern Intellectuals Misshape Our Society, an Ivan R. Dee book out of Chicago.)

Chi Trib uber Sun-Times, big

Sun-Times gave the fatal Mundelein seminarian drunk-driving crash story page-God-knows-where Metro Briefs treatment on Sunday, but Chi Trib has been all over it, moving it along almost daily.  Today, five days into it, the Trib has breakthrough info that the seminarian car owner has an “Ohio rap sheet” in a 2001 corruption case, which was news to church authorities.  This blog’s brother, The Churches, has extended coverage of news and web accounts.

More: The Mundelein Review, a Pioneer Press paper and owned by the Sun-Times owner, has nothing on the crash that can be found on the web.  Nor does any other Pioneer paper.  I don’t get it. 

Cup only half empty

Chi Trib’s second-day story on Afghan voting is “Observers say 50% turnout in Afghan election a success,” which is a sort of correction on yesterday.  Trib’s woman in Kabul has been talking around, relying less on Fatima, who got confused and who’s to blame her? 

That was yesterday.  Today she has various experts she calls on or listens in on to tell her what’s happening, namely the “chief election officer,” the U.S. ambassador, Al Qaeda's deputy leader (per Al Jazeera TV), “some people,” the head of “the Afghan Research Evaluation Unit, an independent research group in Kabul” (per AP), someone from “the International Crisis Group think tank,” a 19–yr-old high school student, and an unemployed 53–year-old.

This was a busy day for her, and my guess is she plopped down on a bar stool when her story was filed, for a stiff one, and then to bed. 

May I ask, however,

* Chief election officer of what, appointed by whom? 

* Whence this Afghan Research Evaluation Unit and who are they, and how are they to be characterized?  Objectively, of course.

* Ditto re: the International Crisis Group think tank?

It would be good to know these things, even as one sympathizes with the harried reporter in a foreign land where explosions occur often enough to be noticed.  (And indeed, a little Googling finds the latter two with fine web sites -- http://www.areu.org.af/ and http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm -- that present them as serious operations to be taken seriously.)

Finally, an idea: compare the list of legislators, impossible to sift through for sake of voting responsibly, with our Cook County judges ballot.  No comparison, it would be seem, but she does compare 50% voting with far lower percentages voting here, saying or suspecting that they are not to be compared, because for Afghans it’s brand new and we are inured to it — this, by the way, is a comment she gleaned from above-mentioned “some people.” 

It would be indeed churlish to ask (a) how many and (b) who; so I will pass over these twin questions in silence.


Cup 3/4 empty as usual

Chi Trib reports Afghanistan elections, hailed by some as huge success story in implanting democracy, but can’t help itself, drawn as moth to flame to bad-news aspect:

“Afghan elections largely peaceful But turnout isn't huge and ballots confused” is a soft-lead story (“Fatima picked up a ballot but did not know what to do next”) featuring problems. 

Where the hell is the excitement about this?  It’s as bad as Jim Warren yawning (and telling us about it) at an impeachment hearing.  Who are these detached people and where do they get off shouldering responsibility for informing us about great events?

“[M]illions braved fears” to vote, we are told in the 7th ‘graph.  But “some people did not seem nearly as enthusiastic as in last year's” election, we are told in the 8th.  And there were fewer, “it also appeared.”  (To whom besides the reporter and in how many places.)  And that’s it for the achievement. 

This color story, going with “Afghans go to polls First parliamentary election since 1969 is marked by confusion, intimidation reports, apparent low turnout” (a Newsday story) is it as far as the Trib web site goes.  The Newsday story probably ran in the day’s hard copy too; I am not going back to the dining room table to find out. 

The Newsday lead is businesslike, which is always good but too often not emulated:

PAGHMAN, Afghanistan -- Afghans voted yesterday in their first parliamentary elections since 1969, virtually completing the formation of a national government to replace the militant Muslim Taliban regime.

This sounds very good to me, but wait.  2nd ‘graph:

But many Afghans voiced confusion and uncertainty about the process. The day lacked the confident, celebratory atmosphere of October's presidential election, and turnout appeared to be lower than last year, monitoring groups said.

At least he cites monitors, presumably placed around the country.  It’s a cautious tale, with “journalists and election monitors” nationwide reporting cases of voters not knowing how to vote.  And the winners could be former oppressors, as a Paghman strong man of whom “a street vendor” says a criminal courtroom should be his location, not a ballot.  Otherwise, the reporter cites Human Rights Watch, the vendor presumably giving color to a story that in sum alleges widespread fraud without saying so. 

Why not?  Insufficient evidence?  And who are the monitors?  Not Jimmy Carter, I trust.  And Human Rights Watch?  Is it another International Red Cross, whose top man tore into “selfish” U.S. at tsunami time?  I’m suspicious of international bodies, period.

In any case, this Newsday and echoing Tribune (color) reporting is rather in contrast with “A HAPPY DAY IN AFGHANISTAN” at www.instapundit.com, where we are linked to a CanWest News Service story out of Kandahar, “'Optimistic' day at polls,” opening with

Afghanistan's elections Sunday proved a mostly peaceful anticlimax to recent violence, appearing more like a national festival than a national crisis.

and picking up four ‘graphs later:

What patrolling Canadian soldiers witnessed instead [of widespread violence] on Sunday was a virtual national holiday. Afghans casually strolled down the streets of their two major cities after all non-essential traffic was ordered off the road, on their way to do something they thought would ensure a brighter future -- vote.

"Everyone is so happy. It's like we are waiting for Christmas to come," said Abdullah Shahood, a 22-year-old poll observer for candidate Abdul Razziq.

"Everyone is optimistic." 

Oh?  Tell it to your basic Mainstreamer, typified too often by Chi Trib.  If an early “Where the hell” in an commentary such as this is a betraying of one’s opinion, that’s o.k. when suspicion of MSM outlets has reached unprecedented levels.


Alderman for pull-out

Alderman Natarus of the 42nd ward took a header yesterday in council chambers during debate on whether to call for immediate pull-out from Iraq.  Sun-Times, relying on the highly professional Fran Spielman, gives the debate its own story.  (The alderman is o.k., by the way.)  She quotes opponents of the resolution — it passed 29–9 — to good effect:

Balcer of the 11th  (the Daley ward, for non-Chicagoans) recalled “demoralizing” protests when he was serving in Viet Nam, from which he “still carries scars.”  Cardenas of the 12th said, “We can’t turn our backs [on our troops] and say . . . that the lives that were lost were for no reason.”  Burke of the 14th, saying he had opposed the war from the start, said, “anything we do to dilute or . . . undermine [soldiers’] morale is wrong.”  Preckwinkle of the 4th (liberal Hyde Park) and Stone of the 50th were quoted in support of the resolution, Stone having oddly changed his mind when he saw 25 coffins being returned to Cleveland — as if he did not know soldiers die in war.

Chi Trib, on the other hand, collapsed the alderman-collapsing and pull-out vote into one story (Trib usually does not give the same weight to local coverage as S-T) and also quoted both sides but not Balcer the ‘Nam vet with bad memories of protest, characterizing the Burke statement with a “Burke fumed” (earlier “declared”) when the eminently useful “said” was applied to all others.  In fact, it’s even “said” when Cardenas yelled “Call 9–11!” when Natarus fell. 

It’s a little thing that injects color in the midst of data.  Anyhow, Burke fumes a lot, doesn’t he?  He generally looks as if he’s about to fume or just did.  It’s his nature.  Between the two stories, S-T’s is more interesting, though the pull-out ordinance sponsor, Moore of the 49th (Loyola U. territory), gave his rationale in the Trib for all to cheer or jeer: “It is the obligation of elected officials closest to the people,” he said [declared? noted? proclaimed? intoned?] to goad president and Congress to do the presumably right thing.

Yes, and it’s also a neat distraction from corruption in city hall.  Not that Natarus collapsing isn’t too, but it’s hard to plan that.


Scratching backs

So what do you think, Chicago Newspaper readers?  Would you like Sun-Times and Trib exchanging front pages on the day before publication, as NY Times and Wash Post have been doing (secretly) for 10 years?  Editor & Publisher has the story.  Something in the back of my 73–year-old mind with 63 years-plus newspaper-reading experience tells me that you would not, but rather that it’s scandalous that it happened.  What think you?

Later: Reader Bill asks whatever happened to the scoop concept?  To which I noted that the Editor & P story discussed it amazingly as reflecting long-time “rivalry” between NYT and Wash Post, but it’s a price-fixing story in my book.

AG Madigan revisited

I'm glad you resurrected that albatross plan of Lisa re going after abortion counsellors who suggest alternatives to pregnant clients. She hasn't done it YET, but why? Not change of heart -- afraid of George? asks astute and informed reader D., meaning Cardinal George, implying that he would go after HER if she went after THEM.  Hmmmmm, as my editor correspondent C. would say.


She's not heavy, she's our girl

Chi Trib Magazine’s cover story yesterday is seductive because it moves along and reads well, but it’s still a puff piece for a politician — Attorney Genl Lisa Madigan.  “Not everybody expected Lisa Madigan to do a good job as attorney general. Some thought she'd be an outright flop” is the nearest it comes to a mumblin’ word of negativity. 

Still, it’s what we have come to expect from the magazine, which operates in its own sphere, as the space it inexplicably occupied when on the Sunday after 9/11 four years ago, it ran a cover story about Bill Ayers, former fugitive from Feds, in which he had kind words to say about terrorism.  The Trib apologized for the piece in run-of-paper, page two; the Mag has its own “preprint” time table, and it was scrap the issue with all its ad wealth or ship it and apologize.  A no-brainer, that.

It’s awfully tacky of me to bring this up, but with her regular (St. Clement church) mass attendance getting several paragraphs and her mother’s Catholicity including Jesuit college graduation also in the running, is it too much to ask that the c– and a-words might have turned up?  Choice and (oh, how hard a word to say) Abortion?  And her being solidly in the camp of C. when it comes to A.?  And having promised to her Planned P. supporters when running for A.G. that she would emulate her friend Elliott Spitzer, NY state AG mentioned in the article as corporation-buster and consumer advocate, and go after abortion counsellors who suggest alternatives to pregnant clients?

That, my friend, is a no-brainer: You’re damn right it’s tacky, and shut the heck up!  OK, ok, ok, ok, ok . . . I don’t mean no trouble.  Really I don’t.  I don’t, I don’t, I don’t . . .   Sighhhhhh.

Feverish about FEMA

Let us hear it now for Dennis Byrne in Chi Trib with his “GULF COAST CRISIS: Spreading blame from pillar to post,” in which we read a truly helpful solution:

Abolish the Federal Emergency Management Agency and give its job to the media, Rev. Jesse Jackson and other know-it-alls who accused Hurricane Katrina rescuers of incompetence, indifference or racism.

Yes, but putting FEMA down is a serious recommendation by Jacksonville State U. econ teacher Christopher Westley at the Mises Institute site.  “What if there was no such thing as FEMA?” Westley asks, intending to say, I’m sure, what if there WERE no such thing as FEMA, because there is one and the condition is contrary to fact.  He delivers a list of things FEMA did badly or didn’t do well, including the off-again, on-again $2,000 federal donation to survivors, saying its director Mike Brown (who later resigned, as we know) would have gotten a Ken Lay-style indictment to contend with if he were in private business.

If there were no FEMA, no such wealth distribution (to say nothing of the waste) would take place, while much of the currently squelched efforts by private individuals, non-profits, and firms would be flourishing all along the Gulf Coast.

FEMA was being generous with “other people’s money.”  Its concern as a public agency is primarily public relations, not public relief, concerned about

drawing attention away from decades of federal levee management and federal flood insurance programs. This is about not losing the black vote in the city that practically invented vote-buying. Even if relieving human suffering is on FEMA's radar screen, it is far down its list of major priorities.

We can’t be sure if he’s right about particulars in his own indictment, because he relies on MSM, which got fairly hysterical in the last week or two and were commended for it by the lately somewhat worked up Editor & Publisher, the trade gazette whose editor urged news anchors to gin up opposition to the Iraq war.  Objectivity is becoming the hobgoblin of superstitious men, to adapt Emerson, who said it about “a foolish consistency” and probably meant it, such was his peculiar mindset.  But this FEMA-basher makes good Mises-style points about government inefficiency.

On the other hand, consider this about the Katrina relief effort so far from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:  “Journalists who are long on opinions and short on knowledge” got it wrong, says Jack Kelly, meaning these MSM’ers I mention above — MainStream Media performers, for you uninitiated.  It was one of the worst ever, said various instant hurricane mavens.  No it wasn’t, says Kelly, it was one of the best responses ever.

“The federal response here was faster than Hugo, faster than Andrew, faster than Iniki, faster than Francine and Jeanne."

He’s quoting a Florida Army National Guardsman who has been mobilized six times for hurricane relief and ticked off the record this time.

[It] took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 2002. But after Katrina, there was a significant National Guard presence in the afflicted region in three.

. . . . More than 32,000 people have been rescued, many plucked from rooftops by Coast Guard helicopters.

The Army Corps of Engineers has all but repaired the breaches and begun pumping water out of New Orleans.

Shelter, food and medical care have been provided to more than 180,000 refugees.

As for newsies beefing about how long it took — instant mavens all or most — consider what’s said by a former Air Force logistics officer with his advice “for us in the Fourth Estate” on his blog, MoltenThought.  "You cannot just snap your fingers and make the military appear somewhere," says the AF man, Jason van Steenwyk.

Guardsmen need to receive mobilization orders; report to their armories; draw equipment; receive orders and convoy to the disaster area. Guardsmen driving down from Pennsylvania or Navy ships sailing from Norfolk can't be on the scene immediately.

Relief efforts must be planned. Other than prepositioning supplies near the area likely to be afflicted (which was done quite efficiently), this cannot be done until the hurricane has struck and a damage assessment can be made. There must be a route reconnaissance to determine if roads are open, and bridges along the way can bear the weight of heavily laden trucks.

And federal troops and Guardsmen from other states cannot be sent to a disaster area until their presence has been requested by the governors of the afflicted states.

Uh-oh.  We know whom he’s talking about, the do-nothing governor of Louisiana.  She dithered, as we know, watching her mayoral counterpart dither too, leaving 200 or so school buses unused.  (Uh-oh the other way: Kelly reports 2,000, which is effectively rebutted at Media Matters but not before being widely and inaccurately reported, mostly by conservative outlets but also by George Stephanopoulos at ABC News.)


Star section in Sun-Times

Tom McNamee is editor of the Sunday Sun-Times Controversy section that debuted in mid-July.  He and the paper’s higher-ups deserve credit for running stuff you find on Conservative Book Club reading lists and in Reason Mag, such as today’s excerpt from One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self-reliance, by feminist antagonist Christina Hoff Sommers and American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Sally Satel, M.D. and “How Not to Fight Fat,” which makes fun of federal “disease detectives,” by the eminently contrarian libertarian Jacob Sullum, author of Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use (and he’s not talking about what you get over any counter).

The section also has a delicious religious joke, winner of competition organized by ShipofFools.com, which has an 1879 Reformed Baptist calling an 1915 version “heretic scum” and pushing him off a bridge — a guy he’d been trying to talk out of suicide before he found him out.

This Ship of Fools site is a gem, by the way — it shows how one thing leads to another, if the first thing is at all Internet-based.  It features “the Mystery Worshiper,” in the British Isles and elsewhere, which has included Chicago, where the RC St. Mary of the Angels in Bucktown and the Episcopal Church of the Ascension on LaSalle Street.  It’s lively, intelligent commentary, cleanly written.

Can’t say enough for S-T and McNamee for breaking new ground here.


A light shines

If you want to read about people with guts and spirit in the midst of flooded New Orleans, try A do-it-ourselves shelter shines: A community bands together in civilized self-sufficiency, in stark contrast to the misery in official New Orleans shelters.  in The Baltimore Son, by Kelly Brewington.

Blame explained by ABC

"If the city and the state are stumbling or in over their head, then it's FEMA's [Federal Emergency Management Agency's] responsibility to show some leadership," said Jerry Hauer, director of public health preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Right, but by the nature of bureaucracy — following orders, scheduling things, etc. — it’s the rare director that jumps right in, knocking heads and getting things done.  (Is this Jerry Hauer such a director?)  Directors know that’s a good way to find oneself job-hunting.  It’s the nature of things, as hurricanes are in the nature of things.  And believe me, howls would have been heard from French Quarter to Latin Quarter and all other quarters of the continental U.S. if restoring order — a sine qua non in such cases and especially in this one — had resulted in shooting someone, assuming it didn’t and excepting New O. cops reportedly getting “at least five” bad guys, themselves shooters.

Note, by the way, that looking to feds is advised after “city and state are stumbling or in over their head.”  Who thinks they weren’t in this case.  The governor didn’t do this or that, thinking the mayor would do it.  The mayor wept and cursed on radio — both in over their heads every bit as much as New Orleans.

It’s all in an excellent short rundown by ABC, “Who's to Blame for Delayed Response to Katrina? New Orleans' Emergency Plan Not Followed, Federal Government Slow to Take Lead”, which is enough to make MSM-bashers like me think again.


Bush power

Fred Barnes said it last night on Fox News: Bush may be low in popularity but high in power in Wash.  In today’s WSJ Opinion Journal, he spells it out.

Mr. Bush knows how to win elections. And he knows how to drive his agenda, especially in Congress. Last winter, bills curbing class-action lawsuits and reforming bankruptcy law--both favorites of Mr. Bush--were enacted. Then, during a two-week span in July and August, he won congressional approval of the controversial Central America Free Trade Agreement, overdue energy legislation and a highway bill slimmed down to meet his specifications. The day Cafta passed, thanks to aggressive lobbying by Mr. Bush himself, his job rating was at 44% in the Gallup Poll, the lowest point of his presidency.

He has reason now to “feel burdened but still optimistic . . . politically bruised by his administration's response to Katrina but hardly crippled.”  Supreme Court appointments that effect or restore a conservative, non-collectivist tilt; estate tax abolition that puts profits where they belong, at home and not in Washington; overall tax and immigration reform, etc.

Wash Post’s Dan Balz has a different “take,” as they say in Hipsville:

When terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001, Americans came together in grief and resolve, rallying behind President Bush in an extraordinary show of national unity. [Blah blah blah]  But when Hurricane Katrina hit last week, the opposite occurred, with Americans dividing along sharply partisan lines in their judgment of the president's and the federal government's response. [Blah blah blah]

His headline is “For Bush, a Deepening Divide — Katrina Crisis Brings No Repeat of 9/11 Bipartisanship.”  Is the wish father to the thought here?

Hey, it’s all about bipartisanship, smooth sailing, COOPERATION WITH THOSE WONDERFUL DEMOCRATS.  But can’t wonderful people be misguided too?  There’s “deepening polarization of the electorate” that has left him “with no reservoir of good will among his political opponents.”  RESERVOIR OF GOOD WILL?  WHOM IS THIS FELLOW KIDDING?

He takes 1,029 words for this analysis.  Barnes takes more but says more, going lighter on the grand fluffy statement.  Anyhow, take a look.  We (I) report, you decide. 



Let my river go

Mr. Bush, tear down that levee” is blogger Rishon Rishon’s plea, based on New O’s having outlived its usefulness — except maybe for the French Quarter.  Let the Mississippi “take its natural course,” he urges.  It’s a move that “should appeal to both small-government supporters and environmentalists.”

If this isn’t thinking outside the box, what is?


Bush muttered etc., NOT

An ABC-Wash Post poll — “Bush Not Taking Brunt of Katrina Criticism” — has pundit-stunning results about who’s blaming whom for the Katrina aftermath. 

Three out of four think state and local govts. were NOT adequately prepared for the hurricane.  Two out of three say the feds were not adequately prepared.  Forty-four per cent blame Bush, 55% do NOT. 

Another case of NOT believing what you read in (most) newspapers.  It puts vent-rant by Sun-Times woman Sweet et al. in perspective, does it not?  Those people are talking to themselves and their friends, which is good to keep in mind.



AP style point

The AP story Bush Chooses Roberts, Weighs Other Vacancy pretty much routinely tosses this off:

Like Rehnquist, Roberts is deeply conservative.

I’m trying to remember when AP et al. of the mainstream said anyone is deeply liberal.  It’s not how they talk.

Bush mutters, relief sputters

CHI NEWSPAPERS: . . . Lynn Sweet has a scoop Sunday 9/4/05 in a column that her eds. gave top billing in Sun-T's fairly new and rather good Controversy section.  Eds. called it "For this one, BUSH deserves the heat." The scoop was the no-holds-barred self-revelation. It came by way of an atrocious pseudo-journalistic self-therapeutic outpouring which she began, "I want to vent." This comes under her pic in which she's looking at the camera with a very hard look.

Now newspaper professionals are supposed to tell about the world, not about themselves, which is why this is pseudo-journalistic, and from a Washington bureau chief no less. And from one only days removed from holding N. Shore Dem Rep. Schakowsky's hand in public, helping her to get over her husband's guilty plea for stealing money for the sake of his own emolument and continued operation of his "public interest" organization, non-profit of course (nothing so sleezy or infra dig as for profit). Her Schakowsky column was just what the spin doctors ordered. Schakowsky could not have been more pleased. In fact, Sweet often produces p.r. releases under guise of columns, as Chicago Newspapers pointed out in her glowing account with publicity shot Aug. 11 of one Christine Cegelis, a Democrat going for Henry Hyde’s congressional seat in DuPage County. She hadn't chosen the picture, she responded in an email, nor did on Sunday she place her column about Bush, nor give it such BIG PLAY. She writes the columns, however. I call it pseudo-journalism. 

It’s also exhibit #1,379 (applied locally) of Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas’ claim or admission that mainstream media are worth 15 points to a Dem presidential candidate, later knocking it down to five, while still saying they “absolutely” wanted Kerry to win.

This time around, Sweet tears into Bush's "flim-flam" (is that venting or not? she said that she would do it, and indeed she did). He went for photo-ops clumsily, she says. He indulged in “overwhelming understatement” of the problem — didn’t bite his lip, as the old actor Bubba could do so well.  She even gets "weapons of mass destruction" into the picture. Remember them? (Venting here: they are still on her mind.) But cable TV is bigger than ever, and he can't get away with it any more.

Along the way of her vent, Sweet offers doomsday analysis of the State of Bush, including the dire effects of the Cindy Sheehan performance, she being "the face of the anti-war movement," home life shot to hell and all.

But would not we more likely be convinced of Sweet’s analysis if it were not part of self-therapeutics? No wonder she resonates with Sheehan, and maybe with the hysterical, cussing and weeping on radio Mayor Nagin, whom she does not mention, much less suggest as part of the problem, having presided over a city that was already chaotic in some neighborhoods, thanks to a culture of lawlessness unhampered by police or courts, a city that had created its own witness protection program.

Nope. She may have presented her column as about her, but it's all about Bush, who again lied while people died? Something like that.  The woman is overwrought.

"The Bushes were managing images . . . This MBA president needs to manage people," she writes. Well he is the chief executive, isn't he? So what? Sweet drops all pretense of objectivity. She's venting to the girls and boys in the coed dorm. But never fear: on Monday she's back on the beat, calling them as she see's 'em. At least the objectivity format will be more or less back in place.  (She came back with another Democrat-oriented column, about Sen. Barack Obama on his way to Houston to be with Bush I and Clinton for a photo-op session — oops, not that, rather, to help out, you know.  She reverentially, even worshipfully, lobs qq at Obama, who obliges, as if it’s news that he does not blame the Feds more than local New O. pols, for instance.  What a guy and what a gal.)

In the end, for her Sunday column she calls on another detached professional, "Barbie Zelizer" (does Barbie sign her journal articles that way?), a professor at Penn, "a scholar [let's hope, if she’s a Penn prof] whose specialty is the impact of images" — "Gender and Atrocity: Women in Holocaust Photographs" is one of her studies — and guess what she says? The pictures of the hurricane aftermath send "a different message than what is being touted [hey, the professor talks like a headline!] the official line of the administration." Presented, she means; she's a clear thinker?  Big on images.

Let us not carp, however. Sweet got her quote. End of story, end (we hope) of vent, which by the way is called a rant in the blogosphere, but never in mainstream media hard copy, which abides by more rigorous standards, does it not?



Gouging is good for us

“Let ’Em Gouge: A Defense of Price Gouging” is good libertarian, capitalistic stuff from Cato Institute.  For instance:

[M]any of those . . . who will curse a blue streak if you put them in front of a camera and ask them about "Big Oil" are as we speak putting their houses on the market and enthusiastically gouging the living daylights out of anyone looking for a new home.

Who, me?

Point: getting the highest price is what we have come to expect and practice.  Oil companies are a fat target, but

no one ever rages against real estate price gouging. In fact, the opposite is the case. Business reporters gush about returns and politicians pledge to do whatever it takes to keep the real estate bubble afloat.

What fools we mortals be.  In any case, gouging is

good for everyone in the long run. Gougers are sending an important signal to market actors that something is scarce and that profits are available to those who produce or sell that something.

Yes.  It’s signals like this that tell us where to invest our moola.  A planned economy leaves such figuring up to commissars, who are notoriously no good at it.  The conclusion is clear:

Blame not the price gouger. Blame the government that won't let the price gouger do his job,

by controlling prices and rationing.  Tell commissars, czars, whatever we call them, to take a hike. 

Bush pere, Bubba, and . . . ?

GW taps his father and Bubba to help in fund raising for New Orleans.  They worked the tsunami beat and have gotten to know each other and enjoy ea. other’s company, per reports.  Conservatives have asked what’s going on here.  Apart from fund raising for big causes, at which Bubba is probably pretty good, there’s the marginalizing of nutty Carter, with his certifying foreign elections of tyrants and thieves, not to mention other quirks and follies dating ‘way back.  Ignore the guy.  Do not add to his cachet in a slightest bit.  Keep him in Plains if possible.  He’s a nuisance and in his way a menace.