Beware what they imply

This ain’t from a Chicago newspaper, and it’s a longer excerpt than I usually fall prey to, but it’s quite good about the importance of party affiliation as way to cut through “superficial campaign positioning” when judging national security issues, and it’s beautiful in identifying B. Obama as our decade’s Jimmy Carter:

Hillary has been posing as a foreign policy moderate for some time now.  Obama is apparently as left as left can be, yet he covers this stance with soothing moderate rhetoric.  In a way, Obama is the new Carter.  Carter won, despite his relative obscurity and inexperience, because he was the breath of fresh air needed by a country exhausted by Watergate.  Carter’s religious convictions and seeming moderation were emotional balm for a traumatized nation.  It never occurred to anyone that Carter’s foreign policy might make the first serious break from America’s Cold War toughness.  Best keep all this in mind when listening to Clinton and Obama.  They’ll jump through campaign hoops to prove their toughness.  But in the end, we’ll get a Jimmy Carter foreign policy from either one of them.

Thus Stanley Kurtz in “NRO Corner.”


Columnist on wry

Neil Steinberg’s wife heard him on the radio.

"You sounded good -- very cheerful," she said.

"I was just feigning cheerfulness," I admitted.

"Well, feign it when you get home, too," she said.

It works for me, she said.


From his parents do we know him?

Clarence Page asks if we know Obama’s middle name, gives it, says now we know.  OK, but do we know he’s the son of two Ph.D.’s?  Now we do.  The Hussein middle name is easily dismissed.  So what?  Lots of people have it.  But two Ph.D.’s for parents?  Not only rare but instantly controversial.  Do we really want so academically infected a person to rule us? 

Besides, his hot-seller book is brainless, to go by Dick Morris’s account of it:

In reading Senator Barack Obama’s #1 bestseller, The Audacity of Hope, one begins to wonder whether he is another cynical politician or just a helplessly naïve neophyte.

Morris, a Clinton specialist from a ‘way back, excerpts with alarming aim:

Sometimes he sounds downright juvenile. Consider this missive, which opens chapter five: “One thing about being a U.S. Senator - you fly a lot.” Brilliant! It gets worse: “Most of the time I fly … in coach, hoping for an aisle or window seat” (But not always.) “ … there are times when … I fly on a private jet.” Then, “the flying experience is a good deal different.” Wow.

Obama’s first book got a rave from the Time Mag cover-story writer-cum-sycophant — it “may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician.”  Give him credit for the “may be.”  Otherwise, just gasp.

Or accept it.  In the Time writer’s account, Obama does come to life.  Ditto in lawyer-novelist Scott Turow’s Salon story.  The more recent book is the one that made him the big money, however.  And helped his candidacy.  Bad books do that.  He has all that education to live down.  The American people get suspicious.  Ever since Woodie Wilson the Princeton president. 

Can we imagine ourselves electing another in his image?  Dems give us Gore and Kerry, Repubs give us GW, whom I vastly prefer.  But the son of two Ph.D.’s?  That’s the thing to learn about the Big O.  See how that flies once he’s on the hustings full-time.


Trouble, I got trouble

It troubles me that a certain sentiment “troubles” Dawn Turner Trice in today’s Chi Trib.  Her issue is Bill Cosby talking up hard work and perseverance to school parents when he recently settled a sexual harrassment suit.  She is troubled by people’s paying it no attention because they like Cosby’s message.

She’s come a long way since January, 2001, when she gave considerable ink to a similar view about Rev. Jesse Jackson, exposed as a philanderer and father of an illegitimate child.  Rev. J. had “taken a jump [actually several, over many months] and left a package,” realizing concerns voiced by an A.M.E. pastor in Iowa City about a handsome visitor who was giving his pretty daughters some attention in the summer of ‘63.

Not a problem, according to one of Trice’s sources in a Tribune piece.

"You deal with this the same way you deal with Bill Clinton," [Lorn Foster, an American politics professor at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.] said. "You teach fallibility."

In that respect, Foster said, almost every newsmaker in the 20th Century has had indiscretions and public failings.

"Really, if you use that criteria for not teaching Jackson . . .  how do you teach Franklin Delano Roosevelt? How do you teach JFK?" Foster said.

Trice was not troubled by this, but she is by Cosby-excusing.  Almost six years have elapsed, and that may be why.  Who knows?  In any case, my being troubled at her being troubled has less to do with Cosby vs. Jackson — middle-class values vs. victimhood in rebellion — than with a writer trying to disguise her feelings.

You can condemn someone faintly but tellingly.  That is, you can be troubled when you’re actually pissed off, or should be, based on the data you present.  In which case as a writer, you’re in trouble.


Later, from Nancy from Lake Bluff:

Where was Dawn Turner Trice during all of Bill Clinton's transgressions?  I suppose she agreed with what Clinton stood for, so all else was forgiven.
She was confusing as hell about Clinton and other private-lives revelations in June, 2004, when she felt “conflicted” about what matters, picking and choosing as to what would make her vote this or that way.  This girl drives you nuts with her self-analysis, telling us how she feels all the time.  What is this, a sleepover confab or a newspaper column?
Otherwise, nothing on the record.


In the tank

Let’s hear it for Gurnee neighbors of Chi Bears DT Tank Johnson for calling the cops about his pit bulls, pot smoking, and gunfire.  Ditto for Gurnee and other N. Suburban cops who knocked down his front door to get the loaded guns, etc. and rescue the two kids from accidentally getting plugged. 

Bad cess to Tank for failing to adapt to new surroundings, i.e. middle-class, law-abiding, orderly behavior as practiced in crispy-clean ‘burb as opposed to gun-totin’ SW U.S., where he came from and pot-smoking friends of which he has too many.

This is the issue here, not repressive gun or drug laws, which often deserve to be the issue.  Adapting to surroundings is the thing: when you move into a neighborhood where people’s accepted ways of doing things are new to you, study these ways and adapt, unless you reject them as incompatible with your mores and moral code.  In that case, either get out or hunker down for a long-haul squabble if not fight to the death. 

Ah, but nobody thinks Tank Johnson was making a statement for gun and drug law reform.  Nobody.  He was just sloppy about running his own household, including, by the way, his not being married to the mother of the two little kids, which says something about his casual approach to a life of orderly behavior. 

He is not a globe-trotting Hollywood star spouting geopolitical opinion and ignoring protocol which most have to undergo in adopting foreign-born kids.  Nothing so vulgar.  He is nothing but a slob with bad habits who doesn’t know how to live — not in Gurnee, anyhow, which he is in process of discovering.  Pray for Tank’s enlightenment in the matter.


Disputed OP condo development . . .

. . . in 400 block of N. Maple has townhouses next door, on NW corner, at Superior. Across the street is a house garishly festooned with anti-war messages, including a banner in German stretching its width. This is Oak Park’s best-known incipient development because it’s too big for neighbors’ taste and they have been complaining and the village board has been discussing.

If the developer were to trade it for the also much-discussed Colt Building on Lake Street a few blocks away, as he is reported in Wed Journal to have said he might, his fame would go off the charts for at least 15 minutes, probably 15 months until he had completed transformation of the Colt into lavish condos with shooting gallery on first floor — just kidding, all you literalists out there.

Do those anti-war signs and banner violate an ordinance somewhere, somehow, by the way? Remember the Greek restaurateur who was given a hard time because he ran Greek letters across his garish awning on OP Ave. across from the Green Line stop? Commercial establishment, yes, but do we want garish signs on residential blocks? Especially one where neighbors have made such a case against a new building with too many units? I don’t know the answer, as one or other trustee has said he doesn’t know the answer to other, less pertinent, conundrums.

As for Trustee M., one who has said he does not know answers, for him I have some characteristically good advice: Go easy on your trademark frontal attack at board meetings or you lose your shock appeal. Getting in the face of the mild-mannered board president, for instant, suffers from the same law of diminishing returns that devalues currency. From respect born of discomfort, other trustees’ response could degenerate to there-he-goes-again. It’s a problem.

As it is for bloggers, who on the formality scale of one to ten come to two or three.  They have no time for vast ideas, only half-vast ones, it seems.  I don’t know the answer.


Tribes punish

No better account of neighborhood tribalism in the big city is readily available than this in Chi Trib about the Bridgeport Squealer who talked to Feds and even wore a wire when meeting with another Bridgeporter, both in City Hall employ.

There were harassing phone calls and slashed car tires, [his lawyer] said. There was also graffiti on [his] house. And finally, last Easter morning, there was a large bottle tossed through the glass front door of the home he shares with his wife and three young children . . .

. . . .

[His] wife, Christine, who also grew up in the neighborhood . . . wrote of the couple's loss of friends and said that most of the harassment was kept from their twin 6-year-old boys and their 4-year-old until the bottle was thrown through their door and the noise was so loud that one of the twins awoke crying.

Christine Katalinic wrote that she was infuriated. She said she ran to his room to find "a frightened young boy sweating under his covers in fear." Even now, they are sometimes afraid to be downstairs alone, she wrote.

AP in Sun-Times:

Katalinic and his wife and children became the target of community harassment that ranged from phone calls in the middle of the night to slashed tires and graffiti.

[Judge] Coar said he could understand if Katalinic lost friends because he had violated the law.

''But for people to turn against him or any other person because they owned up to a crime and breached this unwritten code of silence is shameful -- absolutely shameful,'' Coar said.

Not what we usually mean by grassroots democracy.

Points made inadvertently

“Internet chatters posing as journalists” is Harry Jaffe’s phrase in a 11/16/06 Washingtonian piece about how MainStream Media won the election and bloggers et al. lost.  “Major news organizations and experienced journalists” had the stories that persuaded voters.  He goes on to cite anti-admin (& other GOP) stories — Abramoff corruption, secret prisons, phone call monitoring and others.

In time, journalists freelancing as bloggers on the Internet might have greater impact on American elections, but if last week’s voting is any indication, the political landscape is still being painted by the reporters working for major media outlets.

He rejoices in mainstream dominance because it’s under credible attack by web-based independents who never went to journalism school and do not submit to gatekeeping by people such as Dan Rather.  But crowing over such a victory would have been unseemly indeed a few years ago.  Jaffe would not have bothered. 

That’s one thing.  Another is that he rejoices in Mainstreamers’ victory for what party?  Why, their party, what else?  Go MSM Dems!


St. Luke, St. Luke, St. Luke, St. Luke, darn it!

Scripturally illiterate copy desk alert:  If Andrew Greeley attributed the Christmas narrative to St. Jude, as here in Sun-Times, he deserved protection from sounding like an idiot.  If he didn’t, as is much more likely, the reporters Shamus Toomey and/or his editors deserve excommunication or worse from the Society of Newspaper Copy Editors, which if it does not exist, should.

What, no workhouses?

One kick-ass reputation, severely damaged:

"Even though we have these kids with disabilities, we're not restricted," said Adrienne Watkins, the assistant principal. "Everyone takes part. It's hard to understand if you don't see it."

I thought I understood, gazing around the room. Not only understood, but felt a moment of joy. Is this not the best of what we are? Our society -- dominant, money-crazed, steamrolling Western culture -- nurturing the most afflicted among us, enfolding them in care, encouraging them to enjoy life to the fullest that they can? And the Ignatius students -- on a school vacation day -- about as far from the cliche of the indulged teen imaginable, not only giving of themselves but grateful for the chance. It seemed a glimpse of heaven.

Just one thing: Eastern cultures do better at this?

Einstein Bagels, To Be or Not To Be?

Reader G. asks my position on Einstein Bagels' remaining in OP. Well he might. I was the Northeast River Forest correspondent from Einstein's, at Harlem & North, the OP corner, for several years in the late 90s, sharply and keenly observing cops on break and other fauna -- always sympathetically, to be sure, as when they were gearing up for an uproarious Fourth in North Austin.

Alas, I have not developed my position on Einstein's, which is preparing to evacuate. For that I must consult my Filthy Capitalist Mindset, neatly balancing my deep love for community values with my Filthy Capitalist desire for maximized profits or at least enough to allow one even to stay in business (and lots of bad guys, including Great American Bagels, to name one, would like to see E. Bagels get out of their darn way), in OP or anywhere else. It's a bagel jungle out there, you better believe it. 

How parishes thrive

Rev. Jack Wall is leaving Old St. Pat’s after 24 years.  He found four people when he arrived, now there are 3,000.  It hosts the famed “ass mass,” attended by spouse-seeking young Catholics.  It’s solvent and thriving, which is no small thing in our time.  Wall is off to the Extension (bishops’ missionary) Society, where his exquisite marketing skills should find an outlet.

Yes, marketing.  Wall has not let his light remain under a bushel, to adapt his Leader’s phrase.  Not only has he worked hard, beginning by hands-and-knees scrubbing of an encrusted rectory-kitchen floor.  He has demonstrated entrepreneurial shrewdness of the first order, finding a niche and filling it.

A, he has ridden the Irish-heritage pony hard.  The place reeks of Celtic ambience and draws disaffected or wandering Irish people from far and wide.  B, he has made it a hot gathering place for the young, whom he dispatched sometimes to various help-neighbor works such as tutoring kids at nearby, historically all-black St. Malachy’s parish on the West Side — historically not since its start, which was as Irish as St. Pat’s but declared black in the wake of black migration.  C, he has raised money and made important political connections, such as with the incumbent Mayor Daley and family.

None of it would matter if he and the other staff did not preach and teach and work hard for their own people, inspiring them to work for others.  But neither would this preaching etc. have mattered without the marketing.

His is the first of the Chicago Triumvirate of niche-marketed parishes which have been immensely successful in the last 30 years.  St. Sabina on the South Side is a black cathedral.  Rev. Michael Pfleger has made of that once-Irish bastion a gathering place for the well-heeled but race-conscious black community.  Al Sharpton has “preached” there (scare quotes by me).  So has “Minister” Farrakhan, who we presume did not make his crack about what’s under the Pope’s cassock.  But believe me, apart from these distractions from The Message, that St. Sabina jumps with Christian-related noise and joy.  Solomon in all his glory had not an orchestra like Sabina’s.

The other of the Three is St. John Cantius, whose modern founder and pastor, Rev. Frank Philips, who had been sent there by his Resurrectionist superiors to close the place — farsighted and idealistic they were, indeed — went to Wall for advice.  About niche marketing of The Word, to be sure, though Fr. Frank did not use the phrase when he told me about seeing Wall.  St. John C. is traditionalist, has had Latin masses (in addition to English) from its renovation by Fr. F.  It has become a mecca for Catholics enamored of old-time Catholicism who also like splendid music.

All three churches are grand and old and sparklingly renovated.  All three parishes are busting with Catholics.  God hath wrought this in part through marketing skills of his ministers.


Barack, we hardly know you

Dick Morris on Barack O. as potential non-Hillary who wins the Dem ‘08 nomination:

His book is filled with feature-story fluff about his background, eloquent philosophizing on the state of our nation and its history, and freshly scrubbed naiveté about the political process.

But it lacks any substantive ideas, policy innovations or even any insightful analysis of public issues. Unless he can step beyond such Oprah-level content, the national press corps will have him for breakfast.

Wish I’d said that.



Was severely tempted to join the crowd commenting on Frank James’s posting, “How Could this happen to a citizen?” on the Chi Trib “Swamp” blog by its Wash. correspondents — “Beyond the headlines, beyond newsprint.”  James wrote about how badly suspected terrorist Jose Padilla was treated, as reported in NY Times.  But why should I help Chi Trib sell its web site when I can help sell my own, highly lucrative, site?

So here’s what I would have written, on this, my own, highly lucrative site: 

Frank James’s grandson to Frank many years hence: “And what did you do in the War Against Islamo-Fascism, Grandpa?”

Frank: “I did what I could to turn the populace against the Bush admin’s efforts to subvert our constitution, which my colleagues and I all consider a suicide pact, Frank the Third.”

I write this though my heart goes out to James, who found the pictures of Padilla “deeply disturbing.”  Indeed, James wrote,

On seeing these photos and reading the story, many Americans will likely ask, how can it be that an American citizen with due-process rights under our Constitution, a citizen who has not been found guilty of the allegations against him by a constitutionally sanctioned authority, was subjected to such treatment? What if he's innocent?

Yes.  The beauty of blogging is its capacity to bring out deep feelings entertained by those we rely on to tell us what’s what in the world in fair and balanced fashion.  Way to go, Frank!  Up the blogosphere!

Close call

Firefox just saved my bacon, as it does with its anti-phishing service.  Bank of America stuff this time.  BEWARE!

Race in Michigan, Iraqi democracy, Bush secretive, etc.

* Steve Chapman in Chi Trib: Mary Sue Coleman, U of Mich pres., protesting 58% vote against racial preferences in admissions, "has been a staunch champion of . . . correcting racial discrimination by practicing racial discrimination." She defiant, standing in schoolhouse door.

* Slouching toward realpolitik:
Trib's Clarence Page: "Americans appreciate the neo-conservative dream of spreading democracy through the Middle East [once described by GW as a way to prevent terrorism], but the Iraq disaster offers us a painful lesson on the limits of our grasp." Comment: How we deal with corrupt Iraqis is one thing, but leaving the field to the bad guys is another. There is such a thing as their morale too, is there not, to be strengthened by our departure?

* Devastating
Novak column about firing of Rumsfeld and what it says about GW, who he says is "no malevolent tyrant" but like all Republicans in White House since Eisenhower, subject to "congenital phobia" about leaks. He is "secretive and impersonal" in his firing of people contrary to assurances. It's "not a good sign for for his concluding years as president," says N.

* "Autumn leaves, packs its bags," begins a poem by Andrew McNeillie, "Les Feuilles d'Automne" in Times Lit Supplement of 11/17/06, leaving me to wonder for a fraction what that comma was doing there. Between subject and verb? Let's not have it, OK? Then I saw that this was not the tried and true "autumn leaves," adjective and noun, but the same, subject and verb, as in "Autumn leaves [and] packs its bags." The poet had my attention.

* Up to 17 Chi aldermen are to be targeted for political extinction by Service Employees union. Question to be, per
Mark Brown in Sun-Times 11/28, are they with the working man or not? No, it's are they with the unionized working man or not. The workers paradise of total unionization not yet arrived, we must keep in mind union exclusivity. Some have no chance to belong to a union. Some choose not to when given the chance. Either way, workers of the world have not yet united, notwithstanding many a heartfelt appeal to do so, at least since Marx and Engels.

The chief beef against the aldermen and women is their vote against the "living wage," a.k.a. big-box (store) ordinance which would have dictated what Wal-Mart and Target pay employees. This ordinance would have benefited the proletariat, say Service Employees, even as it kept out of Chicago a lot of low-price merchandise which the proletariat buys right and left: see shoulder to shoulder shoppers at the suburban Forest Park Wal-Mart, where the proles are finding what they want and the village is reaping sales tax to beat all.


Problems not solved

"Black Progress" Through Politics,” by Walter Williams opens with this:
Blacks and Hispanics, especially blacks, are the most politically loyal people in the nation. It's often preached and taken as gospel that the only way black people can progress is through racial politics and government programs, but how true is that? Let's look at it.
He goes on to inspect conventional wisdom that may have special meaning for Oak Park, where block-by-block westbound Chicago segregation stopped in the late ‘60s and race relations are never far away. He notes startling economic gains by blacks before politics went their way.

In 1940, poverty among black families was 87 percent and fell to 47 percent by 1960. . . . [I]n various skilled trades, the incomes of blacks relative to whites more than doubled between 1936 and 1959. . . . [T]he rise of blacks in professional and other high-level occupations was greater during the five years preceding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than the five years afterward.

In 1940 a mere 15% of black children were born outside of marriage, in contrast to today's 70%. By the mid-'60s, when sociologist, later UN ambassador and senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan sounded the alarm about breakup of the black family, the rate had risen to 26%.

Crime has become a horrendous problem, having reached "a level . . . unimaginable to most Americans and unimaginable to blacks of yesteryear."

In 2005 “blacks were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims, and 94 percent of black victims were murdered by blacks,” so that "the overwhelmingly law-abiding residents of [black] neighborhoods [live] . . . in fear of assault and battery, rape, robbery and various forms of intimidation."

The neighborhoods have become "economic wastelands." Their "most stable" residents leave. From political leaders comes no relief. Instead come government programs, cementing blacks' dependency on them, as Democratic candidates did at the Oak Park Library last spring. Republicans at an earlier meeting -- not as well organized -- talked policies to help small business.

In Oak Park, school discipline and achievement come to mind as what angers blacks. Many a step has been taken to alleviate this anger. Focus has been on school programs. But how much difference have programs made? Not much. We would have heard about it. Rather than eliminating the problems, we have lulls between storms of protest and heightened political activity, such as the recent pressuring of state legislators to order up a study followed by a report finding no evidence of unfair discrimination, followed by another lull.

There must be a better way.

AddMe.com, Search Engine Marketing


Squabble by Dems

Democrats struggle to get House in order
Party's diversity will test its unity

is the head on p-1 Chi Trib, bottom left. Story by Zuckman reads well, has the Will Rogers item up front, reference to his

once-clever statement that he was not a member of any organized political party, he was a Democrat.

But to make their struggle the price paid for diversity, that shibboleth of contemporary socio-political talk, as in the head, is suspicious. We are used to newspapers talking this way about Dems. It's conventional wisdom. When splits occur among Republicans, however, it's a fight between conservatives and moderates, with sympathies in direction of the latter.

And of course, there's the admirable distance achieved in reporting Republican announcements or tactics. You can count on it: no reporter will be fooled by Karl Rove. With Dems, on the other hand, there's affection: there they go again, those lovable rascals.

So I see it. I could be wrong.


Rummy's war

Amer Spectator has a credible critique:

Donald Rumsfeld tried to run a businesslike war. But warfare is not business; it is not fought at the margin. By striving to do just enough to win, we have done too little. The right strategy is to do too much.

Citing ongoing Brookings Institution reports — its Iraq Index — Harvard Law prof William J. Stuntz concludes:

More soldiers mean less violence, hence fewer casualties. The larger the manpower investment in the war, the smaller the war's cost, to Iraqis and Americans alike. Iraq is not an unwinnable war: Rather, as the data just cited show, it is a war we have chosen not to win. And the difference between success and failure is not 300,000 more soldiers, as some would have it. One-tenth that number would make a large difference, and has done so in the past. One-sixth would likely prove decisive. [Italics added]

As in cities, “more cops on the street” is the answer. 

If the goal is to cut our losses, the best move is not to pull back, but to dive in--flood the zone, put as many boots as possible on the most violent ground. Do that, and before long, the ground in question will be a good deal less violent.



Sausage fight

Chi Trib has a front-pager that belongs in a neighborhood section, if there were one on Saturday, but to the general reader I know best, myself, is meaningless.

Lawsuit over sausage cuts family links at plant, stores

Bobak brothers sever ties; ruling sets limits on wholesale operation

has intense meaning to the Bobak family and their customers — and the story made the cut to the web site page, getting even bigger play than hard copy — I’m sure.  For the first three paragraph-sentences — a triple lede — we are given so little information, it hurts:

When Stan Bobak discovered what his brother was doing, he was shocked. Then he got angry.

But in a way, he also was relieved to have solved a mystery: So that's why John wasn't ordering as much sausage as he used to.

The accusations of a betrayal are as sensational as they sound.

Look.  I do not know Stan Bobak and am not in a position to feel his pain, or shock or anger, whatever.  I am glad he was relieved, of course, on general principles, and I am in general prepared to be shocked or even angry that John had cut down on his sausage order.  But neither do I know John.  And if the accusations of betrayal are as sensational as they sound, I would like to figure that out for myself, rather than be told before I know what the hell they are.

The story continues as best it can, already dealt a body blow by its amazingly leisurely lede that but for the sausage reference might have been about marital infidelity — for not ordering sausage substitute hanging with Stan’s wife — or murder — for not ordering etc. put not showing up for weeks on end.

A reorganization occurred, presumably of the sausage company, which we are told is well known — sorreeee, I didn’t know!  One brother would handle the sausage, the other the kielbasa etc. 

But then Stan says he caught John making his own sausage and trying to pass it off in his stores as those made in Stan's plant on Chicago's Southwest Side.  [Make that “Stan caught John,” etc., “he says,” if you don’t mind.]

This crucial info comes in the fifth paragraph-sentence, too far down, folks, for your usual Saturday breakfast-table-reader who is dedicated to Father Tribune from his youngest days but does have other things to do and read.

End of next ‘graph, we get the local angle: John has three stores, in Burr Ridge, Orland Park and Naperville.  So.  This one’s for YOU there, in and around those three marvelous towns.  Why did not Chi Trib say so in the first place?  The rest of us, in Oak Park and elsewhere, could have gone on to various AP and LA Times stories strewn throughout today’s paper, wishing happy reading to sausage-buyers and -eaters in those three marvelous towns, strewn over the southwest suburbs.

You can also buy this stuff at Jewel or Dominick’s stores or on Archer Ave. near Midway airport.  Fine.  Is it tasty?  The issue was decided in favor of these locations in federal court.

"In retrospect this could have been solved very easily," said Stan Bobak, the eldest of the three Bobak sons. "John could operate as many as 100 retail stores if he wanted, God bless him. But we would handle the wholesaling. But he didn't do that. He started making sausage."

That’s it!  The buried lede!  It all began when John started making sausage!  Do that and cut the story in half, and you have the makings of what might bring back or keep a few readers.  Forget your media bias, undeniable though it may be.  Forget your absence of local coverage: we have it here, gone terribly astray.  Here is the answer to hemorrhaging circulation for mainstream newspapers: Look in your every story and FIND THE BURIED LEDE, damn it, before they BURY YOU!

And offer a free quarter-pound of kielbasa to all who can prove they read the WHOLE STORY, stem to stern.


The mayor and the tattler

Mayor Daley says convicted and sentenced 11th Ward politician Donald Tomczak “disgraced his family. Basically, he destroyed himself."  He talked that way just the other day about his former aide Forrest Claypool, who did not endorse Daley’s choice for county board president.  It’s what comes to mind for Daley.  He thinks familially, or we should say tribally.  Tomczak stole money from the public, whom Daley is sworn to serve.  But that’s not what comes to mind for him.

Daley had hired Tomczak in 1989 after saying he’d fire him, because his people had muscled Daley’s in the just completed campaign.  But he apparently valued the man’s ability to get things done.  Asked about this, he said he did not “care what allegiance [people] had as long as they were doing the job,” citing what his father, the first Mayor Daley, had taught him, and his “church beliefs,” which enjoined that he “never be vindictive."  This is sickening.  Days after virtually threatening Claypool, he preaches forgiveness.

Chi Trib’s John Kass is buying none of it.  Daley “protected” Tomczak, who

ran trucks on water projects, took at least $400,000 in bribes and commanded armies of political patronage workers hired in violation of federal court decree.

He quoted a prosecutor:

"Clearly, some of Mr. Tomczak's crimes were condoned, they were facilitated and I believe in some respects they were honored by high-ranking portions of the City of Chicago.”

As for disgracing oneself,

When Daley's guys do federal time with their mouths shut [Tomczak's isn’t], the mayor praises them, or sends their sons $40 million in city contracts.

It’s Tomczak’s tattling that got him the mayoral condemnation.

Meanwhile, back at the county, the interim board president has made higher-paying work for an employee close to the Stroger organization, billing it as reform.

Eighth-ward supporter Joann Robinson is set to get an $11,000 raise from her current forest preserve job. She'll be making $91,000 while overseeing a seven-person department that includes a newly-created deputy HR director who will be making $65,000 a year.

Her unenviable task?  To make sure hiring is on the up and up. 

“Business as usual,” said the soon to be destroyed Claypool, describing it as:

"Raise property taxes to pay for more bureaucracy and [lucrative] jobs for political patronage appointees. If this is indicative of the type of reform we can expect going forward, it's going to be a rocky four years."

Get ready.


This county ain't ready for reform

Black politicians have to learn how to wink and nod like white ones. They are entirely too obvious in their corruption, as in freely discussing the jobs they expect to get as payoff for supporting Todd Stroger for county board president.

"If percentages are based on jobs, then I'm doing damn good," Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) was overheard telling Ald. William Beavers (7th) [at a victory party], referring to the vote he got out for Stroger and the county jobs he expects in return.

"I expect him to reach out to a good guy like me for recommendations for qualified candidates in top jobs he has control over," Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) said, complaining about the lack of West Siders among 26,000 county employees.

Even with FBI nosing around, such supporters as Brookins and others are expecting rewards, not to mention Stroger's "godfather," Beavers, who won his own county board seat and will be Stroger's "muscle," per S-T.

Race pride is all well and good, but jobs and the power that comes from controlling them are what keeps machines oiled.

Meanwhile, S-T sins against the light with this editorial comment, with which they are stuck in view of their ridiculous campaign endorsement:

By electing Todd Stroger president of the Cook County Board, voters handed him and the Democratic Party the responsibility for cleaning up the mess that is county government. The question looms about whether he is sincere about doing that, or whether he filled his campaign with empty promises of reform merely to defeat Republican Tony Peraica.

Perish the thought.


Race is the thing?

Sun-Times’s Mark Brown and Mary Mitchell see mainly race in the county board presidency race.

The political divide between Chicago residents and Cook County suburbanites -- and between blacks and whites -- was on stark display

said the one.

[T]he outcry over the way Todd Stroger ended up on the ballot resulted in a [black] backlash and cranked up loyal Democratic ward bosses,

said the other, even if nobody knows better than blacks "how poorly county government is working."

Mitchell is saying blacks also know better than anyone else how to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

[T]hese are the people who can tell you in great detail what improvements are needed at Cook County Jail because a disproportionate number of African Americans have relatives locked up there.

A lot of African Americans can also point out the failures at John H. Stroger and Provident Hospitals because many black families have depended on these hospitals for medical care over the years.

And, unfortunately, the faces of the youth detained at the Juvenile Detention Center are also overwhelmingly African American.

It didn't matter, says Mitchell, because inheritance works for others, mostly white, and they bowed to "the tit-for-tat factor." That's dumb, but Mitchell doesn't say so, letting it go at presumably informed analysis.

The most she allows herself, and we should appreciate her restraint, is to hope Todd Stroger "comes into his own" as board president.

As for Brown, it's not new that blacks and whites vote differently, "but there had been signs in recent years that [a city/suburban, black/white split] was starting to fade as Democrats increased their numbers in the suburban areas."

Not this time, when corruption was the dividing issue. It bothers him to see the vote "break down along racial lines" for any reason, however. Why? Because "no matter who wins, [this election] has disrupted the alliance that I think has produced the best results for Chicago and Cook County residents, that being the collaboration of progressive white Democrats and African Americans, often in conjunction with independents and Republicans."

The best results? Not for residents and users of county jail, hospitals, and juvenile detention center, per Mitchell. He worries that this racial divide will interfere with defeating Richard Daley for mayor. But rather than enabling Daley, it demonstrates Daley power.

In any case, he entertains nothing like Mitchell's fond hope for young Stroger, expressing his own fervent hope that "nobody actually expects [him] to bring real reform to county government." In this he also parts company with his own paper's deeply mysterious editorial board.


The Cardinal is for Burning?

Euros and Democrats blame us for our bad image abroad, but so does at least one prince of the church. That’s Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who told a seminary audience in Chicago 10/29:

"The world distrusts us not because we are rich and free. Many of us are not rich, and some of us aren't especially free. They distrust us because we are deaf and blind, because too often we don't understand and make no effort to understand.”

"We have this cultural proclivity that says, 'We know what is best and if we truly want to do something, whether in church or in society, no one has the right to tell us no.' That cultural proclivity, which defines us in many ways, has to be surrendered, or we will never be part of God's kingdom."

He has talked this way before. In September, 2002, at a downtown club luncheon sponsored by Lumen Christi Institute, a U. of Chicago campus organization, and the Catholic Lawyers Guild, he fingered the U.S. government as the enemy. (Scroll down to "CARDINAL GEORGE OF CHICAGO ON BEING CATHOLIC IN AMERICA")

Church leaders could one day be prosecuted for refusing to ordain women and bless homosexual unions, he told this audience, adding that he hoped they would be with him when he went to jail. The going-to-jail scenario is something he could not have imagined two years earlier, he said. He did not say what changed his mind, except to identify it with a pattern of expanding domestic "police power."

Overseas, in his 12 years (1974–86) as a Rome-based world traveller for his religious congregation, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate — something he mentioned also in the recent sermon — he felt welcome as a Catholic, except in communist countries, but suspect as an American. In the U.S. he found the opposite was true, he added, not explicitly excluding Chicago, where being Catholic is definitely not a disability. Indeed, he finds it "hard sometime to be both Catholic and American," he said, enunciating quite an extreme position.

Americans' "cultural blindness" to the resentment others feel will destroy us "as a nation," he said in 2002. Other nations resent us because we "oppress them," he said, or they think we do after "50 years of intense communist propaganda. Be that as it may, "we can't impose our way of life" on others, he said, without specifying how we do that, and "we live in a fool's paradise if we don't realize" that.

In his recent comment, he said, "There aren't many places where I can say that, there aren't many places where I would want that to be said for me, and I wouldn't want to be quoted outside of this context." But the alert and energetic religion writer for the Sun-Times, Cathleen Falsani, was in the congregation taping him, and two days later he was front-page stuff in a city where the front page has special meaning. How naive can a prelate be to speak to a church full of people as if it were just us chickens?

He had apparently felt that way at the Union League Club in 2002, where in the middle of the chickens was a fox in the person of an old, old religion reporter who took notes, for gosh sakes.

And he did so also in remarks a few months ago at a gathering of philosophers at U. of Chicago, where he offered "a strange, Manichean interpretation of twentieth-century history" as understood by a writer in left-leaning Commonweal Magazine. The writer objected to George’s "conflating spiritual and political power in a way that will prove unhealthy both for the church and for the world." George had said secularization of Europe had started with Woodrow Wilson’s attempting to make the world safe for democracy and in the process excluding Pope Benedict XV from the peace talks.

It’s an interesting enough point, but more interesting is why George goes off on tangents, conflating, to seize on a handy word, his role as religious leader with one as geopolitical commentator.

Finally, there was George’s bizarre order issued in June 2002 from an Oak Park pulpit that cameras should be removed and pencils should be put down by reporters, whom he likened to communist spies.

Two months later a Chicago priest, lashing out in a sermon against critics and news reports of his leadership of a home for troubled youth, quoted George: "This is the time, this is the season, for picking on Catholics," telling the priest, "John, they're coming after you."

Why stop at him? I think the cardinal would like us all to be very careful.


Barack, we hardly knew ye

"Hypocrisy, Anyone?" asks the perspicacious and engaging James Taranto at Online Journal:

"Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois today urged hundreds of blacks not to vote along racial lines next week in Maryland's Senate race. Obama, the only black U.S. senator, came to the state to rally support for Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who is white. Cardin's Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, is the first black candidate ever elected statewide and has been courting black Democrats."--Associated Press, Nov. 3

"The nation's only black senator, Barack Obama, D-Ill., asked voters at two black churches and at a Nashville rally to elect [Harold] Ford, a Democrat who is trying to become the first black senator from the South in more than 100 years. 'I know that all of you are going to work the next couple of days to make sure it happens, because I'm feeling lonely in Washington,' Obama said at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. 'I need my dear friend to join me.' "--Associated Press, Nov. 5

My wine, Jackie C., S-word, Blago's bishop

* On reading Sun-Times about Mike Ditka Wine:

Soon TBA: Jim Bowman Wine. Piquant and zesty, sure to rouse the laziest taste bud, and good for you too. Chockful of vineyard and crushing-floor vitamins. Grapes beaten down by bare-footed Venetians stomping to tune of "Figaro." Soon, at your nearest drug store or cheap-wine location.

* On reading Chi Fed of Labor endorsement ad (from people who HATE Wal-Mart) filling page 7, not linkable:

Union candidates don't wear glasses: Baby Todd S., pictured, is shown unusually lens-free. Only two Republicans make an appearance, of 37, all county candidates. Only Stroger has pic, being flagship union candidate, held most important by biggies with ad purse strings. The two Republicans are Elmwood Park president Peter Silvestri for county board, and Jill C. Marisie running uncontested (so why endorsement?) for judge. The latter is the late mobster Jackie (the Lackey) Cerone's granddaughter, for what that's worth. Her father, Jack P. Cerone,

earned a reputation as a labor lawyer, fighting for union workers in numerous contract fights with Chicago city officials -- from the 1980s when he fought for Laborer garbage collectors and seasonal street cleaners to the late 1990s when he salvaged victory for the Decorators Union in a trade show row.

Thus the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, in a 10/22 story about his taking over a Pittsburgh brewery. He's a solid union man, to be sure.

* On reading about ex-Socialist now Green Party goober-natorial candidate Whitney excoriated and warned against by Republican opponent Judy Barr T.:

He says he wouldn't shoot self in foot by volunteering his Socialist past but wouldn't deny it either. Has plausible defense: As young man with care for "working man," he fell for socialism, later rejected it. Which is a recommendation, if anything. His are "mainstream" ideas, he protests.

But what's not socialism-inspired about them?

1. Mandated wages -- as gross an interference in property ownership as the supposed mainstream will reveal

2. Higher income tax -- the more you earn, the more you pay

3. Universal tax-paid health care -- same-old same-old for all and consequent health care dilution.

Each is government-induced wealth distribution that undercuts overall prosperity.

* On reading about "Bishop" Arthur Brazier (consecrated by what other bishop, reporting to what presiding bishop or pope or even district conference?), distinguished pastor of black mega-congregation Apostolic Church of God on S. Side, telling members to ignore reports of corruption and vote for Blago anyway:

How would you Episcopals or Catholics or Methodists (or members of Congregation B'nai whatever) like that? Not very much, I ween.


The head's the thing . . .

. . .  followed by the lede (opening sentence). They sell stories. So editors look to heads and ledes. Advice to them: send your copy desk to word school. Put them to reading verse, including blank verse such as this from Poetry for October:

Look! I bear into this room a platter piled high with the rage my mother felt toward my father! . . . . She -

just kept her thoughts to herself. She just -

followed him around the house, and every time he turned a light on, she turned it off.

Look. If that’s not to your liking, have them read E.B. White or Joseph Addison. Whatever you do, promote language, so that your front page does not have this for a head:

Economy's political sway shifts

followed by the (not) clipped and biting:

Seemingly positive numbers don't guarantee boost to party in power

Look, it’s not an ax murder, salable on its face. It’s the economy, and I won’t, a la James Carville, add "stupid." Or is it? Look to the lede:

With so much change sweeping America's workforce, the Republicans are discovering it is not necessarily easy to gain political traction from a generally favorable economy.

Is this what you call punching up the news? Are discovering? Not necessarily easy? Political traction? Reader, pay attention. Your mind wanders. It’s your daily Trib before you. Wake up. The second ‘graf, a logical enough follow-through:

The October jobs report showed unemployment fell from 4.6 percent to 4.4 percent, while employers added 92,000 non-farm jobs to their payrolls. Also, the government revised upward the number of jobs created in August and September.

Unemployment down, new jobs, more than we thought! We’re getting somewhere now, except for punching down the news, which is not that the report showed something or government revised something, both subjects of their sentences when they should be add-ons: according to the report, the government said, etc. Does the writer, William Neikirk, think the news is that a report showed or government revised? If so, he’s been too long in Washington, whence this story comes.

Anyhow, we haven’t yet got to the good part, as apparently understood by the writer and contained in the third ‘graf:

But structural changes that have roiled the job market in recent years have changed the meaning of these numbers for many Americans, particularly less-skilled workers who are finding it more difficult to remain in the middle class.

Is this the lede he wishes he could have used, describing as it does the cloudy lining of the silver cloud? It’s as if Neikirk couldn’t bring himself to blare forth this excellent pre-election news.

Maybe that’s what makes his exposition weak and flabby. He may be conflicted, poor fellow, desiring but not quite willing to announce to his readers that this excellent economic news doesn’t matter, because this year it’s not the economy (stupid), which it used to be when Democrat James Carville said it was.


Buying the farm

Chi Trib has a Wash Post piece on the left column, front page, and an NYT piece on the right, which is what you call cost efficiency — they bought the services, why not use them? — in an age of shrinking circulation, worse than reported, by the way.

The first story has the head “Study: A world without seafood,” which is alarming, to be sure.  We have until 2048, say 14 researchers from Canada, Panama, Sweden and the U.S. writing in Science mag.

"We really see the end of the line now," said lead author Boris Worm [sic], a marine biologist at Canada's Dalhousie University,

It’s not that bad, say some, including a fishing industry group that suggests “aquaculture,” farming fish as we farm grain, as a solution.  Bad idea, say the scientists, one of whom objects to its artificiality:

"It's like turning on the air conditioning rather than opening the window," said Stanford University marine sciences professor Stephen Palumbi, one of the paper's authors.

But we do that sort of thing and live better because of it, do we not?  Was the argument used once against farming in general because people lived on what they could gather? 

Anyhow, assuming the problem is as urgent as they say, it would be solved if only . . .  If only what?  Article doesn’t say.

The NYT story is about our government’s posting nuclear-weaponry info on a web site which the Iranians viewed and learned from.  It’s a story broken by NYT and widely distributed — Google News says in 351 articles.  So Trib’s going with it may be a sort of cost-efficiency windfall for which no man should blame them, least of all one as fair-minded as I.

On the other hand, the top half of page three — and this is a broadsheet, remember, with lots of page three to be half of — is NYT with “Iraq investigator’s job eliminated,” about ending oversight of construction work; all of page six except a big ad, given to two AP stories, “Russian Tea Room hopes for . . . “ and “Evangelical Leader quits . . . ,“ followed in the rest of Section one by seven more AP and two LA Times stories, not counting shorts.  All nicely presented, with pix galore. 

Maybe this has been standard for some time, but it does seem that farming out is rather important to Chi Trib, if not to scientists with an eye to our fish supply.

Obama besmirched

Barack Obama, in the news a lot, but not for audaciously hoping.  Rather, he’s in it for taking a favor from Illinois’ currently best known indicted political insider.

Chi Trib’s John Kass explains it pithily here, following on yesterday’s Chi Trib reporting. Sun-Times’s Mark Brown explains it here.  Upshot is, O. dipped a toe into corruption of the sort he condemned in Africa or didn’t know what he was doing, either of which tend to smudge the image that attaches to a presumably idealistic newcomer with “the flawless, unlined visage of a carefree young movie idol.”

There’s another matter, his falling into line with the presumably non-idealistic old-timers when it comes to local politics, specifically his failure to endorse a fellow Dem reform candidate in the primary last April followed by his endorsement of the feckless, reportedly hapless son of an old-timer now incapacitated and unable to run.  Chi Trib’s Eric Zorn gives this the attention it deserves.


Nervous from the service

In this we have Sy Hersh letting his hair down for some Canadians. A good editor would take him off the war beat and put him to covering tennis somewhere. He has forsaken journalism for advocacy. Not the first to do so, there will be others. But he is clearly a guy who knows what the story is before he writes it. He needs some surprises. It will be better for all of us.


Voting on paper

Egad, even before I read this of January 29, 2004, I was suspicious of the paper record requirement in Illinois, remembering chads and the like and the contested 2000 Fla. vote:

Howard Dean says on his website, "I support pending legislation to require that all voting machines produce an actual paper record that voters can view to check the accuracy of their votes, and allow election officials to verify votes in the event of irregularities."

It was no passing fancy for Dean, who made “verified voting issues” a cause:

The grassroots movement for election integrity will take a leap forward this Tuesday, July 13 [2004], when supporters of voter-verified paper ballots (VVPBs) rally in 24 cities nationwide. Attendees at this nationwide "Computer Ate My Vote" day of action will present petitions favoring VVPBs and ask state election officials to sign a Pledge for Election Integrity.

It’s quite current, in fact:

The DNC will continue [9/27/2006] working with Congressional leaders, grassroots activists and state parties to build support for federal legislation to mandate a verified voting paper trail for voting machines that has been proven as the best method of securing votes. [Italics added]

Don’t Dems love to mandate things?  However, isn’t paper subject to manipulation and vote theft too?  Isn’t it something any precinct worker can do?  Yes.

Meanwhile, blowback:

“This notion that elections are stolen and that elections are rigged is so common in the public sphere that we’re having to go out of our way to counter them this year,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist [addressing disillusionment among black voters].

Now who has done more to promote that notion, Republicans or Democrats?


World citizen

BBC man is tagging along with the bad guys.  Anything for a story, or maybe he’s our new version of a man without a country.  If he plays his cards right, he could catch a beheading or stoning of woman caught in adultery.

Truth more naked than usual

Mayordaley II is the complete party animal in his criticizing Forrest Claypool for non-support of Todd (son of John) Stroger in the general election Nov. 7.  Claypool should “move on” after losing in the primary to John, then stroke-disabled but hidden from view of all but fam and handlers, who was replaced by son Todd only after deadline passed for independent filings.  Clever, those Cook County Democrats.

Daley compared it to 1983, when he lost the mayoral primary to Harold Washington, but then supported Washington in the November election.

Apples and oranges, said Claypool, thanks to how Todd got the nod.  Besides, Washington is not to be compared to Todd.  Claypool added,

"I would have hoped that Rich Daley supported Harold Washington because he was a good leader, not because he had to for political reasons.”

Well if that’s not a mortal blow to the resurgent Daley, surviving huge scandal reportage of a few months back and looking to re-election in April, it’s still worth noting by the blogging classes.  Anyhow, electing Todd will depend on swinging Claypool’s ward, the 47th (home of the city’s top recyclers), as noted by S-T’s Steve Patterson in this story.

It’s also noteworthy in Daley’s publicly characterizing Claypool as a political suicide for his intransigence:

"All of a sudden, because you don't get your own way, you decide to walk away?" Daley said. "I lost the election. I didn't destroy myself, I didn't destroy my family, I didn't destroy my political career."

Didn’t destroy his family?  Egad, what has Claypool done?  Mass murder?

(Add to this what Rob Olmstead observes in Daily Herald, that the Daley comment “might be interpreted as a thinly veiled threat to get in line.”  Yes indeed.)

Playing dumb

News feature stories lend themselves to puffing whom you wish, ignoring the obvious.  Thus Sun-Times has this by Dave Newbart, using already heavily puffed Obama cycle on which to hang something really nice about another Democrat:

Political neophyte Dan Seals has been compared to Sen. Barack Obama.

But Seals, who is trying to unseat Republican assistant majority whip Mark Kirk in the northern suburbs, downplays the comparison, saying the only similarity is their complexion -- both are African-American.

And neither looking particularly African, we might add.  Look close and you could swear we had here a North Shoreian with a great tan.

"I'm no Obama,'' he says [which is nice of him], though he enjoys [Barama’s] support.

Newbart supplies context, of course:

Still, eyes are turning to the race in the 10th congressional district as a Democratic surge across the country threatens Republican control of Congress. Challengers like Seals are hoping to turn the tide in a race once considered solidly in favor of the Republican but now looking less solidly red. The first debate of the campaign is tonight at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.

That’s boiler-plate analysis, which would have made a decent lede if you weren’t looking for the Obama Effect.



Nature of the media beast: 2nd-last paragraph of "Fox Joins Duckworth in Stem Cell Support: Actor campaigns for fed funding of research," S-T 10/25/06, p. 8, ripped from the headlines, as they say in up-to-minute talk shows: 

[Republican candidate] Roskam, at a campaign appearance Tuesday, said he strongly backs stem cell research -- as long as cells derived from embryos aren't used.

He said research using other types of stem cells -- those from adults or from umbilical cords -- has resulted in treatments for dozens of illnesses. That's a much better track record than embryonic stem cell research has so far achieved, he contended. [Question alert!]

Duckworth and her supporters noted that embryonic stem cells have been known to medical science only since 1998 and that research has been stalled by a lack of federal funding

But there's not time. The reporter and his editors, the whole damn newspaper, is on to the next thing. It's why Rush L. calls them "drive-by."

However, there was time for a sidebar, “Limbaugh: Fox just acting sick in ad,” for which someone called a neurosurgeon (one neurosurgeon, enough for any man) at a major New York hospital who thought Rush L. was "ludicrous."

What? No call for anyone on the Roskam claim? No. Not time.

Meeting Stroger

Not that Marietta B. was waiting for him, as the Beckett characters waited for Godot, but there he was, at a Brown Line stop:

I met Todd Stroger outside the Western El stop this
morning. I almost didn't even realize that it was him.
I was handed a flier by a well-dressed man as I was
approaching the station. I took the flier and
responded yes to his comment about the cold morning.
Then as I got closer a few more suited men were
standing near one another. One looked at me as I
approached and said, "Todd Stroger, candidate for
board president" and then kind of turned to the side
as if opening a curtain and the man behind him smiled
and said good morning. Only as I was almost beyond him
did I realize it was Stroger himself and so I stuck my
hand out and said "nice to meet you" both of which he

As I continued on my hurried way (I was running late)
I found myself [wishing] I had thought of
something more to say to or ask him. Preferably a
real doozie of a question that would leave him hemming
and hawing. Isn't that what we all wish for? (Italics added)

Yes, but at least she can verify there is a Todd Stroger or at least someone who looks like him.

Peraica and harassment case

This about Peraica in the Forest Park Review neatly summarizes the case against Stroger, including this, that “the reformer who was trying to work within the Democratic Party system lost the primary to a candidate rendered barely conscious by a stroke.”  Reform lost in the primary, in other words.  However you feel about Republicans, that’s important.  Whatever you consider the merits of Democrats, they dropped the ball this time around.

But most of the telling column, by Carl Nyberg, is about a case Peraica took and won without compensation for a Hispanic family apparently grossly harassed by Melrose Park police.  The account is detailed and clear and focused.  Read it.


She says, he says

There are times when you think Dennis Hastert has nothing to say.  It’s that way with wrestling coaches, you suppose.  But sometimes he does that preconception in:

The United States cannot win the global war on terror if U.S. leaders don't understand it -- and Rep. Nancy Pelosi does not understand it, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said on Tuesday.

Hastert -- who holds the job that Pelosi is eager to assume -- was reacting to Pelosi's remarks on the CBS program "60 Minutes." He said her comments should serve as a "bellwether" [sic] for the American people.

"Democrat Leader Pelosi would trust the terrorists to give up their objective and play nice in exchange for the United States leaving Iraq. This outlook is foolish, naive and dangerous," Hastert said.

To be sure, but in any case it’s not just Iraq, as our ambassador to that beleaguered fledgling democracy said:

"The broader Middle East is the source of most of the world's security problems," said Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. "The struggle for the future of the region is between moderate and extremist political forces. The outcome in Iraq will profoundly shape this wider struggle and in turn, the security of the world."

In this view, which may be old stuff to wiser readers, in a war against a relatively amorphous enemy, surgical strikes are difficult.  Slam-bang the nest of bad guys and — what?  Effect a five-year moratorium on enemy successes in the homeland?  As has been achieved?

Pelosi thinks that enemy will leave Iraq if we do.  Why does she think that?  And if she’s right, where will they go?  To Russia?

Just what stems from what?

Deep in Chi Trib’s p-1 story on Michael J. Fox, (embryonic) stem cell research, and the Mo. senate race, is that which if it were the lede would have sent the story to the city desk spike before it saw the light of the press room, much less my front step:

Terry Jones, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said [Sen. Jim] Talent's loss of some moderate Republicans [by opposing embryonic research] is likely to be outweighed by the religious conservatives who are stirred by the issue to go to the polls.

"It's a very minor factor in the voters' decision about the Senate race," Jones said.

But then where would Trib be without the touching p-1 pic of Fox embracing Talent’s Dem opponent, Clare McCaskill and puffing Dems’ poster research item?  It would have had to look for something else with matching human interest or political ploy or whatever they think grabs morning coffee-drinkers on train or at Caribou.

That said, one may note two other things:

1. Trib gave sidebar play to Rush Limbaugh, who had noted that Fox skips his meds when going before Congress etc. to make his case for deleting Parkinson’s Disease, the better to look ravaged, according to a listener who said Fox admitted this.  Mainstreamers have Rush in their story-reference tickler file routinely these days, it would seem, which is a far cry from the studied indifference they used to demonstrate.

2. The story has nothing about anything more than “possible” connection between embryonic research and Parkinson’s cure — shot down in this Ill. GOP release naming “72 known cures” and/or working therapies discovered from adult-cell research, vs. zilch from embryonic — which a normally inquisitive person might want to know, not to mention a newspaper reporter.  Nothing either, correlatively, about adult stem cells and their “72 known” cures.  More than a release is required to back this up, to be sure, but why wouldn’t an editor and reporter ask about this?


Rove rocks

Victory architect Karl Rove, the man Dems love to hate even more than GW, tried out some winning-formula lines in Erie PA:

"You can't say I want to win the war but not be willing to fight the war," said Rove, Bush's top political adviser. "And if leading Democrats have their way, our nation will be weaker and the enemies of our nation will be stronger. And that's a stark fact, and it's the reason that this fall election will turn very heavily on national security."

He improved on “basic [Bush] themes — that voters face a stark choice between the parties on taxes and terrorism” — with cracks at Dems who voted against trying terrorist detainees at Gitmo:

"You need to have the ability to try these people without worrying about the ACLU showing up saying, 'Wait a minute, did you Mirandize them when you found them on the battlefield,' " he said. "With all due respect, I don't happen to remember that in World War II, that when we captured Nazis and Japanese and took them to camps, that the first thing we did was provide them legal aid."

And for Nancy Pelosi, for voting against renewing the Patriot Act, warrantless surveillance of terrorist calls, and the war itself:

"With a record like that, you can see why Nancy Pelosi wouldn't want this election to be about national security.”

Of Richard Nixon, Dems asked, “Would you buy a used car from this man?”  Of Dems, Republicans ask or should ask, “Would you trust security to this party?”

Stroger's the man!

While recovering from being aghast at the Murtha story, I gravitated to Sun-Times for what turned out my biggest laugh of the day so far — it was only noon on a Sunday, and church, though satisfying in its way, afforded no laughter as such.  It was the endorsement of Todd Stroger for county board president.  For what well considered reason? 

Because he’s saying nice things about reform and can achieve it BECAUSE HE’S A DEMOCRAT!  “If change is going to happen in this Democrat-dominated body, it's going to come from within the Democratic party.”  Hoo-hah a thousand times.  Lakefront libs may go for Stroger for the sake of abortion and gaiety and disarmament, as Don Rose says, but nobody, I mean nobody says Stroger’s the man for the sake of reform!

Peraica the Republican will be hamstrung and hogtied — “his agenda would founder on the rocks of the county's Democratic domination, paralyzing his tenure” — because Dems will oppose his every effort, says S-T, but Todd S. will have his way, getting them to give up hundreds of jobs!  And to make sure he does this, assuming with S-T that he will have anything to say about it, S-T says, “We're going to assign extra reporters to watch him to make sure that he follows through on his promises.”  As for Peraica, whom S-T endorses for continuing board membership, “[w]e trust [he] will continue to prod Democrats to change the government.”

Is this a newspaper editorial or an early Halloween trick?  What’s going on at S-T?  They have these pseudo-boffo front pages with twice-size head shots about nothing since the editor’s back from New York — why did they take him back, anyhow?  And now this journey into absurdity.

The good part is their news coverage, which has been keeping the heat on Todd S. and friends.  As Jay McMullen used to say about Daily News non-endorsement and other editorials in opposition to Mayordaley I, what he was writing from City Hall would prevail, which it did.


Later, from Reader NJT: 

Regarding the unbelievable endorsement of Todd Stroger for President of the Lake County Board by the Chicago Sun-Times, on the WLS Don and Roma show this morning, Don intimitated hearing from several sources that the Sun-Times' endorsement of Todd Stoger was mandated by the publisher of the paper.  Being that so many of its readers are liberals and African Americans, the paper was fearful of a boycott of readers or advertisers had they endorsed the Republican candidate.  According to Don, the liberal reporters at the CST are steamed about the Sun-Times' endorsement after their harsh criticism of Stroger and the exposure of his inaptness over the past several months through their reporting.

St. John Murtha

Chi Trib’s page 3–dominating story “`And they call me unpatriotic'” about John Murtha, “the gruff Marine and Vietnam War veteran,” is laughably partisan, a feature story in search of an op-ed page or maybe Trib’s own Perspective section, where reporters get to sound off.  The difference is, we know it’s sounding off in Perspective, whereas on page 3 of the front section, even on Sunday, we do expect news with at least a patina of fairness and balance.  As it is, we have a campaign piece for Murtha and/or a daub of anti-war puffery.

It’s all Murtha — “spin from the White House” is the claim of chaos ensuing an Iraq pullout — and Geo. McGovern.  Both are presented as heroes, with naught about chaos that ensued our Viet Nam pullout and certainly nothing about Murtha’s Abscam history that might for some readers, maybe, influence their respect for his credibility.  The picture is a heartbreaker — grieving gold star mother leaning on Murtha in tears — a sort of photo essay in itself.  There’s no other side to this story as reporter Tim Jones has crafted it.


Just checking

Reading along in my EntireWeb email message, I ran across this, done in a hurry and spell-check-proof.  It’s kind of nice, actually, with lots of possibilities:

1. Sound like your dad: be an authority

Authority is essential. You need to speak (well, write) with an air of authority. Talk about your chosen topic in a manor that draws upon your knowledge & experience. Be passionate, too. People will pick up on this and feel compelled to read on. But don't try too hard. No one likes a zealot!  [Italics added]

It’s that manor — the one to which I was born?  Or that to which I aspire?  And what may that be?  Lots here, more than meets the I.

Sign up here for the EntireWeb newsletter, which actually has a lot of good stuff, eye swear.  In it, for instance, you find this:

6. Back to basics: break out the dictionary and check your spelling

Spell check your copy. There's nothing worse than bumping through a website when nearly all of the web pages are chock-full of typos. No amount of design niceness will make up for that. Plus, you lose credibility. No excuses .. oh, and grammar, too. 'Nuff said.

I’ll say.


The lining's the thing to bring down a king (GW)

Forbes has good stuff on the economy — how much, much better off we are than in 1967.  (Rush L. spotted it.)  For instance:

Mr. and Mrs. Median's $46,326 in annual income is 32% more than their mid-'60s counterparts, even when adjusted for inflation, and 13% more than those at the median in the economic boom year of 1985. And thanks to ballooning real estate values, average household net worth has increased even faster. The typical American household has a net worth of $465,970, up 83% from 1965, 60% from 1985 and 35% from 1995.

. . . without realizing it.  For instance:

A Parade Magazine survey (a good source for all things median) performed by Mark Clements Research in April showed that 48% of Americans believe they're worse off than their parents were.

. . . and how it’s envy that drives discontent.  For instance:

And because people generally judge their fortunes not in absolute terms, but by comparing themselves to others, the super-success of the top 1% can make Mr. and Mrs. Median feel relatively poorer.

Come to think of it, when was the last sermon you heard decrying envy as a deadly sin?  Or decrying sin, period, for that matter.  (Don’t get me started.)

Geo. Will calls it seeing “lead lining[s] on silver clouds.” It’s a politically induced or at least aggravated malady.  For instance:

Nancy Pelosi vows that if Democrats capture Congress they will "jump-start our economy.'' A "jump-start '' is administered to a stalled vehicle. But since the Bush tax cuts went into effect in 2003, the economy's growth rate (3.5 percent) has been better than the average for the 1980s (3.1) and 1990s (3.3). Today's unemployment rate (4.6 percent) is lower than the average for the 1990s (5.8) -- lower, in fact, than the average for the last 40 years (6.0).

“Some stall,” says Will.  He calls it “economic hypochondria,”

a derangement associated with affluence, is a byproduct of the welfare state: An entitlement mentality gives Americans a low pain threshold -- witness their recurring hysterias about nominal rather than real gasoline prices -- and a sense of being entitled to economic dynamism without the frictions and "creative destruction'' that must accompany dynamism. Economic hypochondria is also bred by news media that consider the phrase "good news'' an oxymoron, even as the U.S. economy, which has performed better than any other major industrial economy since 2001, drives the Dow to record highs.

The news media?  There he goes again, blaming the messenger for bringing (or accentuating with major stories and big headlines and heart-rending shots of people doing badly) lies.

Attic problem

We have solved the problem problem.  Nothing is a problem any more: it’s problematic.  So welcome Chi Trib sportswriter Phil Rogers: Cubs’ hiring Piniella (since accomplished) could be “problematic.”  More of this to come, I’m sure.


Trib for Duckworth

You’d think there’d be something in this Trib endorsement of Duckworth about her being parachuted into the district by Rahm Emanuel and having no experience in public office.  Wait, that latter sow’s ear is made a silk purse: she’s a refreshing change from politicians!  And Roskam once was venal!  And she’s an apt successor to Henry Hyde, “one of the great voices of conservatism” and a politician since he was in knickers!  Zowie!


Crime story

What newspapers do #575: They sneak in their points with pointed coverage, as in today's Chi Trib, where editors give a huge ride to Kim Barker's story on an aged Gitmo detainee never charged after three-plus years detainment. There’s a huge 9x7 color headshot of the man, back home in Afghanistan.  The story takes up pretty much all of page 8 with a "What is my crime?" head. It doesn't take an advanced degree in anti-Bushism to see that something went wrong in this case. It's the sort of miscue or evildoing that, like shit, happens and newspapers hop on -- justice system gone awry, etc.

But 1400-plus words? Really, on what happened to one man in the war on Islamic fascists? Or on terror if you want the going terminology? Newspapers go for human interest, of course. But why this one, this way?  (Web site buried it, by the way.)  As a paradigm of what's bad about our detainee policy, that’s why. But this is not argued, and even if it were, it would be less argued than cried out by the Passionate Observer Who Hates Injustice. Oh the chicanery of it all. Why not just engage in a blogger's rant? What's the difference, apart from a sort of reasonable tone meant to mask bias?

While the details of [the aged detainee] Khan's Guantanamo experience are hard to verify, his complaints raise questions about who has been sent to the detention facility and how thoroughly the charges against them are investigated, just as a law approved by Congress late last month sets up military tribunals to try some of the detainees. President Bush is scheduled to sign the bill into law Tuesday. [Italics added]

Details hard to verify?  Details, shmails, if you have a good story that fits editors’ bias and passes as more or less conventional wisdom.  Raise questions?  Why, if details are not only hard to verify but impossible, else why wouldn’t Trib smoke them out?  Here’s some digging, however:

Sam Zarifi, Asia research director for Human Rights Watch [where anti-Bushite extraordinaire George Soros is much involved, FYI], said Khan's case appears familiar. He said reviews of unclassified transcripts from tribunals and review board hearings for many of the detainees indicate that some were arrested because the U.S. military does not understand Afghan political rivalries.

"This really fits a pattern of problematic allegations and process at Guantanamo," he said. "It seemed to be arbitrary who was picked up and who wasn't."

It seemed to this fellow anyhow.  The problem here is that a boy (girl) was sent to do a man’s (woman’s) job.  That is, the tools that your working reporter brings to such stories are not adequate, nor maybe is the medium.  Kim (he? she?) worked diligently, talking to lot of people having decided, it seems to me, that she smelled a rat.  A kink in the armor of our people who run Gitmo and prosecute badly. 

It’s daily newspaper-itis here, which is not fatal except when someone uses it to get free of the bee in one’s bonnet.  Barker and Trib’s credibility is at stake here, because they are not disinterested observers.


Puff Central

The city has a new screamer.  Sun-Times has raised the decibels.  And is sounding them in populist manner:

“NOBODY’S WORTH $27 MIL. PER YEAR: Spotlight on Execs’ Monster Salaries on Eve of Big Hike in Your Electric Bill” [Grrrrrrrr]

It’s the Michael Cooke-just-back-from-New York Effect.  See the lede.  It’s journalistic demagoguery:

Stock prices at a near-record high.

Robust profits.

And a top exec who pulled down more than $27 million last year.

Hardly signs of a company on the brink of bankruptcy, according to a growing chorus opposed to ComEd's impending rate hike for its 3.7 million customers.  [Italics added, chorus being cheered on by S-T]

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn [proven rouser of rabble who once proclaimed, “There's no nice way of doing things,” referring to his tactics] is urging people to fight the hike, blaming it on "inflated egos with inflated salaries."

"It's hard to get a violin out for anyone who makes $27 million," he said Sunday, deriding the compensation package of John W. Rowe, CEO of Exelon, ComEd's parent company.

As if Rowe’s $27 mill would cover the rate hike.  As if it’s a Mom & Pop place.  This from the man who led a constitutional cutback of the legislature characterized by veteran Springfield correspondent Charles N. Wheeler III 20 years after its approval as “perhaps the most regrettable example of short-sighted anger in state history.”  Sun-Times is in his corner.  Has Editor Cooke studied Illinois legislative history?

"Nobody's worth that much, I'm sorry," said Pat Lydon, 61, a legal secretary from Old Irving Park who was visiting downtown Sunday [about Rowe’s compensation].

He did, eh?  Wow.  That does it.  Quinn and the Citizens Utility Board and the two governor candidates had me wondering, but now I’m sure.  Thanks, Sun-Times!

The heck with Forbes Mag, saying as reported by S-T, that ComEd under Rowe (since 1984) was the nation’s best-managed utility in 2005.  So what!