Class warfare

My friend Tom Foley pushes term limits as crucial to our society.  I'm beginning to agree with him based on this latest outpouring from the political class, to which almost all of our elected officials belong.
It's their calling on Bush to "launch an investigation into possible price gouging by oil companies" that does it for me:
"Anyone who is trying to take advantage of this situation while American families are forced into making tough choices over whether to fill up their cars or severely cut back their budgets should be investigated and prosecuted," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, wrote in a letter to President Bush. "Therefore, we believe that Federal law enforcement agencies and regulators should take every available step to ensure that all Federal laws protecting American consumers from price-fixing, collusion, gouging and other anti-competitive practices are vigorously enforced."
Anti-competitive?  This is when the feds protect competition?  When did they get going on that operation?  And it's while labor unions have privileged status, not to mention affirmative-action measures all over the place.
William Anderson recalls "economic crimes" and "speculation" as excuses for government crackdown in the late unlamented Soviet Union.
Today, we see the top lawmakers in the United States trying to take a page out of the USSR in calling for prosecution — and, one would suppose, imprisonment — of oil company executives because gasoline prices have risen drastically at the pump.
He has more to say at the Mises Institute site here.  http://www.mises.org/story/2128


Brown, Byrne, Kass

If you're looking for a real nothing column, Mark Brown today try Sun-Times, where we get the latest off the top of his hairless head about the George Ryan jury.  Setting up the problem faced by the judge, mistrial or not, and to be faced by appeal judges, ditto, he tells "what Ryan's lawyers seem to think" (he's not sure? Webb says he's appealing) but says he will "leave that to the legal experts."
Legal experts.  They wouldn't return his calls?  None are cited or quoted, not even anonymously.  We know they are a shifty lot, but couldn't he nail down even one?  Not even on background?  No, he could not.  Instead, he offers his "own take, as [he] wrote earlier."  Great.  That's why we buy the Sun-Times, to get his "take," the hell with experts, and warmed over, at that.  They don't call him King of the Cracker Barrel for nothing. 
Meanwhile, Chi Trib has Dennis Byrne -- on a Sunday, no less -- asking where the heck are corporate biggies who give millions for a park, support "quixotic-like" (sic: "quixotic" will do, or if he insists, "[Don] Quixote-like") reform endeavors, and fund civic reports but exercise no muscle to achieve reform.  Byrne gives a brief history of Illinois corruption and gubernatorial convictions and refers to "career criminals like George Ryan and some in Mayor Daley's inner circle" along the way, concluding:
I don't mean that we should turn government over to a corporate junta. But the 12 honest jurors who convict the likes of Ryan sure could use some help.
Last but not least, John Kass has questions for jurors in the coming trial of Mayordaley's patronage chief, as:
If you're the 19-year-old son of a Carpenters Union boss, shouldn't you be made a building inspector--in the wake of fatal porch collapse and nightclub disasters--even though you're unqualified?
Doesn't being a member of the 19th Ward Democratic Organization entitle you to make more than $100,000 a year as a city graffiti blaster? If the answer is "No," what are you? Stupid?
Are you black, white, Hispanic or other in real life and on paper? [For designation as oppressed minority in need of special treatment and rich contracts]
Kass is pretty good in these matters, but even Homer, also of Greek extraction, nodded.  So he speaks of the mayor being "aggravated," meaning "angered."  Sorry, Kass, it don't compute.  "Aggravate" means to make matters worse.  That's what Kass does when he does all this reporting and summarizing of city corruption: that is, he aggravates the situation facing City Hall and in so doing angers the powers that be.
How's "pissed off"?


Cowering in our bunkers

Dennis Byrne invokes H.G. Wells to illustrate libs’ foot-dragging in the War on Islamofascism:

In H.G. Wells' "Time Machine," the helplessly fattened Eloi spend most of their time waiting around their pleasant surroundings to be snatched away by cannibal Morlocks. Those succulent pinkish Eloi who luckily aren't invited for dinner this time can only wait their turn, not so much in fear, but--simpletons that they are--in resigned ignorance.

Though he wrote it more than 100 years ago, Wells nonetheless had many of today's Americans nailed. Today's Eloi are Americans whose only "strategy" for dealing with the dreadful and grisly terrorist assaults on us is to pull back and wait for the next one.

He also gives a hard-copy hat tip to “blogger Jim Bowman” (me) for putting him on to the liberal Brookings Institution’s "Iraq Index"

to my knowledge, the most comprehensive statistical compilation of Iraqi conditions, tracking economic, public opinion and security data. While partisans make sweeping assumptions about what are factual questions, the periodic report lays out such comparative data as pre-war and current levels of telephone and water service, unemployment, Iraq security forces, troop facilities and coalition strength.

I won't try to characterize the report one way or another, except to say that those blind to any good news will be surprised.

It’s of course an answer to such attempted rebuttals of an earlier Byrne column as the letter from Mt. Prospect suggesting Chi Trib send Byrne to Iraq and offering to pay his way back, which with its opening faux statement of agreement manages to be snide enough.  But it turns out the Brookings Institution, a liberal organization, has been keeping track and Byrne, who tipped his hat in the earlier column to war correspondents, needn’t go there.  Is that good enough for Mt. Prospect?  We do not know.



Chicken colonels we have heard of — full colonels with big bird insigne, versus Light Colonels, the lieutenant variety — but chicken generals?  This is what Judith Apter Klinghoffer thinks, as she says at George Mason University’s History News Network, and may all my rants be as articulate:

I am writing in the hope of lowering my blood pressure. Islamists around the world are on a rampage and all the media focus is on retired generals who did not dare confront their superiors or even tell the truth to the president when asked to do so in the most direct manner.

I have called for Rumsfeld's replacement months ago but that is besides the point. For the generals to attack the Secretary of Defense on the issue of troop numbers in Iraq in 2003 is ridiculous. I want to know whether they think we need more troops in Iraq today or tomorrow. To hear two and three star generals whine that Rumsfeld is too intimidating causes one to ask who else can so easily intimidate them? Are we talking perhaps of the insurgents, Ahmadinejad, Assad Fils, the North Korean or China? Imagine being a soldier who has served under the command of so easily intimidated a general. Their retired generals' contention that they are speaking for their active duty colleagues merely makes matters worse.

On This Week Joe Klein, whom no one can accuse of being a Bush fan, said that Bush repeatedly asked the generals in Iraq if they had everything they needed and they repeatedly assured him they did. But when Jerry Bremer asked them what they would do with an additional division, they said, we'd clear Baghdad. Excuse me? The American army in Iraq does not have a single general with enough guts to respond to the president's question with "depends on what you want us to do?"

Sorry, guys, civil control of the military is not our problem. Gutless military leadership is.

I will quote and endorse Instapundit, who linked this:



30 years late

Chi Trib's Diane Rado's sidebar to her page-oner on the cost of textbooks -- there's a markup! you save by buying online! -- is a cameo study of journalism today.
* "Illinois spends taxpayer dollars" on nonpublic schools, she opens.  As opposed to the other kind of dollars Illinois spends.  "Taxpayer" helps get our dander up.
* ". . . even as public schools struggle" to buy books.  Dander rising.
* It's $3 million vs. $24 million for publics.  Oh?
* "While taxpayers might be surprised . . . "  While she's at it, she might try "although," which has only one meaning, while "while" has two, one of them having to do with time, as in "at the same time," etc.
* The state has been doing this "since the mid-70s," she says in the fourth paragraph.  Oh?  This sneaked up on her.
* Americans United does not like it, never did: "Taxpayers ought to stand up . . ." says their spokesman.
* "Not everyone agrees" with him.  Not everyone?  Hardly anyone, to judge by the 30-year standing-up hiatus.  Who's even been talking about it, with the George Ryan trial and all? 
* The Catholic lobbyist who got the money in the first place has the last word, however: "It is in the state's interest to keep private schools healthy," he says.  We don't know what else he said, but anyhow his last comment hangs there: "They save the public school system money."  I'd say that's pretty obvious, but does Rado know it?  If nonpublic schools closed tomorrow and sent their kids to public ones, does she realize what it would do to the price of textbooks?  Heck, readers would be asking, "Who's George Ryan?"

Other voices, other channels

There continues to be plenty of good news to be found in Iraq. The Iraqi army continues to take over responsibility for more battle space, al Qaeda continues to take a beating, and rebuilding of the country is progressing. Moreover, the Iraqi economy is improving, and has doubled in the last three years.

says  Bill Crawford at National Review Online.  This in view of the “enormous publicity” given the dissident generals deserves our attention.  Try a colonel for the other side of the issue, woefully missing as usual from MSM.

Colonel William Grimsley commanded the brigade that first took control of Baghdad Airport. Three years on he remains optimistic about the country's future:

Grimsley, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Combat Brigade Team during the opening days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said history — not current events — will tell the true story of Iraq's metamorphosis.

And that story will show how Iraq ultimately emerged from almost 40 years of a regime that ignored the people's needs and undermined its potential, Grimsley, now a military assistant to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, said during an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.

And a major:

Major Kevin Carter just returned from Iraq, and shares this assessment:

Carter believes not enough attention is being paid to the progress being made by Iraqis in taking control of their country. He said the people of Iraq are grateful Saddam Hussein has been overthrown.

"I was told by an Iraqi that only two things could get rid of Saddam, the United States or Allah. I will never forget that," Charter said. "An Iraqi officer told me that if we just up and left the country would implode. They are so grateful for us being there and toppling Saddam. Even the Sunnis, who benefited under Saddam, thanked us."

And  a Marine serving with an Iraqi unit:

"Everybody hears about all the car bombs in Baghdad and how many people got shot. Those things are reality — I don't want to downplay them. But there's a lot of good things happening," he said.

And there’s more more more, for 2,800 words in all, for gosh sake.  But alas, how few people talk this way at Billy Goat’s or at parties?  I swear, they’re Gnostics: They just know how things are, that’s all.


Revolt of the generals

It’s how banana republics do it, says Charles Krauthammer on Fox, who thinks civilian control of our military is at issue here (though I remember taking a general’s anti-Clinton comments seriously and being corrected by reader John Kearney).  In any case, here’s something about it that might counter today’s Chi Trib takeout for some of you:

As retired generals peddle their books and their critiques of our war policy, national security correspondent Douglas Hanson and military historian John B. Dwyer confront them with some awkward history.

Hanson, in part:

These criticisms are nothing new.  [General Anthony] Zinni long ago joined the ranks of retired flag officers who voiced opposition* to a war that they felt was based on intelligence manipulated by the administration.  In addition, Zinni and Cold War-era techno-military author Tom Clancy expanded on this notion of flawed pre-war intelligence to proclaim that there was no casus belli for war with Iraq.

Zinni took over CENTCOM in 8/97, pursuing “engagement” with corrupt Middle Eastern rulers as our only alternative because we had no intelligence apparatus there worth diddly-squat.  In 2/2000 he told a Senate committee Iraq was the region’s biggest problem, it was probably doing WMD research and already had stocks of same, peace with Iraq was unlikely, WMD use was a definite problem, bin Laden et al. were in the market for WMD.

How did he know all this?  Handing CENTCOM command over to Gen. Tommy Franks, who asked about enemy threats in the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility, he said, “I wish I could tell you.” 

[W]hat changed between Zinni’s Senate testimony and his handover briefing to Gen. Franks?  Why had he been so confident of the enemy situation in February of 2000 and a short while later, complained of a woeful intelligence picture?  In reality, Zinni had been right all along.  Yet, the charge of a lack of a casus belli persists even with the release of the tens of thousands of documents seized in the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  These recordings and papers actually confirm Zinni’s earlier warnings about Saddam and his relationship with Al-Qaeda and Iraq’s pursuit of WMD.

Zinni was right, then; but years later, the President’s rationale for going to war was wrong.  Why?

There’s more, as in this about Zinni’s lucrative post-military career that drew on his engagement with Middle East rulers:

ISLAMABAD, Oct 7 [2003]: Former US Centcom chief, General Anthony Zinni, is arriving here on Oct 24 in his capacity as a director of a multinational company which wants to invest in Pakistan’s telecommunication industry.

A Pakistani-American who is a partner in Gen Zinni’s company, claims that the initial investment will be between $120 million to $150 million that might expand to $5 billion over a period of 10 years.

And in Zinni’s citing five Jewish “neocons” in 2004 as goading us to our pro-Israel policy — “key ideologues who caused this war to occur” — on “60 Minutes.”

And that Zinni and the others rose “mostly” in the Clinton era, as noted by the improbably named blogger YARGB (Yet Another Really Great Blog):

"Why is that important? Because, while progression through the rank of Colonel is more or less based upon military performance, elevation to flag rank is by direct presidential appointment. They are, in a sense, Clinton appointees."

There’s a long history of that, says one comment-writer, recalling Lincoln’s demotion of Gen. McClellan, who then ran against him.  This is politics.  Zinni and the others are making political moves here.

But the Chicago newspaper reader — and WLS-TV news watcher, who heard Ron Magers deliver the mainstream information dispassionately — should wonder why there is nothing in his or her daily papers to indicate any doubts about Zinni’s or other generals’ complaints about Rumsfeld.  There is only reporting what they say and assessing political damage to Bush, who “dug in his heels,” Trib says, in refusing to dump him.

Is that fair and balanced?


I ran from this story on Iran

“Low circulation can be attributed to opinion piece newspaper stories which function as news stories, which in turn produce negative responses from those of us who are out-of-step with newspaper propaganda,” says reader  NJT, who might have had in mind yesterday’s Chi Trib top-of-page-one article, “Military options against Iran carry big risks: Strategic [sic: Strategy] and policy experts analyze tactics available--and possible retaliation--if the U.S. launches an attack designed to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions,” which typically preaches to the pacifist choir and is wholly one-sided. 

It also assumes we know war on Iran is being planned.  That may be all the buzz in the Washington bureau, but some readers would appreciate more stage-setting.  And this is aimed at readers, we presume.

We read that “analysts suggest” and “analysts describe” and even the flaccid “experts said,” which are standard newspaper thumb-sucking lingo but means analysts and experts the Trib thought worth asking or reading about or some or many or most analysts, or . . . what?  Trib puts us at its mercy, relying on our considering it trustworthy; hence the preaching to choir.  But if there are no or few analysts who contradict what they report, we should be told that.  Part of mainstreamers’ problem is how fuzzy they get in such matters.  Fuzzy writing means fuzzy thinking means who cares?

As for stage-setting, not till paragraph 7 do we read

While President Bush this week dismissed the idea of military action against Iran as "wild speculation," he did not deny reports that the administration is developing plans for air strikes and has long said all options are on the table.

This belonged farther up, even as the lead, if only for stage-setting purposes.  But wait: “wild speculation” in a subordinate clause, the “while” clause?  This isn’t more important that that as background to Trib’s presumably unwild speculation?

(While we’re at it — during the time — how about dispensing with the all-purpose “while” when we mean “although”?  It’s clearer and more honest.  And make your “while” clause the main clause, and introduce the next clause with “but.”  Two independent clauses, one countering the other.  Readers would appreciate it.)

Here’s another paragraph (12th) that belongs much higher up:

Public pronouncements from the White House have laid the rhetorical groundwork for the use of military force. In January, Bush described a nuclear-armed Iran as "a grave threat to the security of the world," words reminiscent of the language he used before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

OK.  Now at least we know what this editorial (sorry, news analysis) is driving at.  It’s followed by Cheney saying “meaninful consequences” should follow Iranian refusal to abandon its nuclear program.  Then several ‘graphs that say how all this might be just diplomatic talk, etc. 

Oh boy.  1,500 words and there we are, much ado about what?  And where are the analysts who contradict the editorial (oops, news analysis) thrust?  Trust us, says Chi Trib.  But it gets harder by the day.


Anything to sell papers

Tribune Co.'s first-quarter earnings dropped 28 percent, pulled down by onetime charges as well as the ongoing drag of sagging circulation and weakening advertising revenue

Trib reported 11:37 this morning.  It’s a shame.  No matter how hard the editors try to be relevant to their shrinking readership, as with yesterday’s sushi-connection story about Rev. Moon’s church — a “quirky” story, said one reader, an expose of a “fascist” religion, said another — they can’t keep profits up. 

Wait!  Yesterday’s story has nothing to do with the first quarter, which ended March 31, dummy.  Sorreeeeeeee.  Wait till June 30.  It will show.

Coming up, maybe . . . maybe . . . please . . .  a Chi Trib expose of Islamofascism as shouted from imam pulpits all over this land of ours, including the Chicago metropolitan area.  Now there’s religious fascism for you.


If you knew sushi like I know sushi . . .

"I'll be dagnabbed if I know what this is all about," said I on seeing but not yet reading Chi Trib's page-one-splashed takeout on Rev. Moon and sushi.  Scanning it on its three pages, with sidebars, I gathered that it's quite a business success story, all about entrepreneurism and hope in the future that turned out very well for hard-working immigrants and others.  Good for Chi Trib, I thought, celebrating the American way at last.
But I sensed a certain antagonism, even finger-pointing.  I mean how many times can you read "controversial church" without feeling uneasy about this business success story?  Frankly, I began to smell a rat.  This story is about something that's extremely suspicious because it (a) has religious overtones, (b) the religion lacks the eclat of long-time establishment, (c) its practices are bizarre, worse than washing feet on Holy Thursday or baptism by immersion, (d) its founder hasn't had a new picture taken in years, and (e) he's conservative and founded the Washington Times.
I know the celebrated religion-despiser and columnist Eric Zorn got the message, on-line if not in hard copy: Boycott sushi!  But I'm not as quick as he and have had to think about it. 
It's "a remarkable story that has gone largely untold," says the story in the fourth 'graph, in case we readers missed this and might go on eating sushi unawares.  Zorn, in his typical vacuum-cleaner approach to data-amassing -- the guy is really industrious -- is a sort of backup for the story in his listing what Moon has said that will make sushi taste like ashes. 
The story itself warns against "indirectly supporting Moon's religious movement" by the very sushi we eat.  It points to a Trib "survey of prominent Chicago-area sushi restaurants that use the Unification Church-affiliated True World Foods," putting teeth into their warning.  It returns to the movement-supporting theme:
Although few seafood lovers may consider they're indirectly supporting Moon's religious movement, they do just that when they eat a buttery slice of tuna or munch on a morsel of eel in many restaurants. True World is so ubiquitous [sic: it's either ubiquitous or not, you don't compare "ubiquitous"] that 14 of 17 prominent Chicago sushi restaurants surveyed by the Tribune said they were supplied by the company.  [Oh no!]
The story goes into contortions to disprove its claimed non-affilliation with Moon's church.
Etc. etc.  Who gives a hoot?  Who eats sushi that you know?  Among them who cares if Moonies put it on the table?  I don't know when I've seen a story -- page one splash, remember, and two complete pages inside the hard copy -- that so illustrates elitist, closed-circuit, ax-grinding mainstream journalism as this one.
Remember this day, 4/12/06.  It's when Chi Trib conquered the lost-readership problem with a page one scoop about sushi and where it comes from.

Fitz in retreat . . .

. . . from his claim that Scooter Libby knew he was to tell NYT's Judith Miller that the declassified intelligence report had as a "key judgment" that "Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium," as Fitz -- Prosecutor Patrick, rattler of Mayordaley II's cage as in John Kass today -- told the court last week, in his special prosecutor life in Washington. 
He should have said Libby knew he was to pass on "some of the key judgments of the NIE, and that [italics added] the [declassified report] stated that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium" and he asked the judge to make the correction in his filing.
Do not feel bad if you don't get the importance of all this, any more than if you can't follow Fitz vs. Libby in general, which is based not on doing what he's supposed to have lied about but on his supposedly lying about it. 
But if Fitz did things this way -- skinning back on what fed a media frenzy only days earlier -- in Chicago, he would not have Daley worried about him as Kass says he is today.
I still think he's in over his head with this one and should get back to Chicago immediately.


Times, they are not changing

It took eight (8) paragraphs for NY Times to identify as a Democrat the WVa congressman who steered $1/4 mill to five of his very own non-profits, though early in a story is the usual place.  Not to mention his senior-Dem status on the gosh-darn ETHICS COMMITTEE.  Two days EARLIER, Wall Street Journal had put him on Appropriations (?), where with Sen. Byrd's help he earmarked lotsabucks for friends and allies. Tsk, tsk.  It's the paper of record?  Or broken record?  Dennis Byrne has it.



Sometimes a column lead gets me all choked up, like this one from Chi Trib’s Dawn Turner Trice:

One of the things that has struck me most about the immigration reform rallies in Chicago and other cities has been the large number of students participating.

What really does it for me is my keen, abiding interest in what strikes Dawn Turner Trice.  I wake up wondering about it.  It’s a good thing too, because otherwise I would not read her column.

Tangled web

"That Fitzgerald is one helluva digger, able to ferret out this stuff that was in the headlines [three] years ago..."

says a Power Line correspondent that sent on a July 20, 2003 AP story "Declassified CIA documents on Iraq show divided intelligence community” and one the day before by Knight-Ridder, "Bush releases excerpts of top-secret Iraq report" meaning Special Prosecutor Patrick, who has done great things in Chi-town, putting bad guys away from feeding too voraciously at the public trough — they overdid it, you see — but may, just may be in over his head in his Plame-Wison-gate prosecution of Cheney’s top dog.

The stories, says PL, 

show what we all know: the release of the NIE [Natl Intell Estimate] report was part of an attempt to quell the political uproar that was starting to build over what Bush did and did not know before the war. The stories also show that the "leak," while criticized for being "selective," included the State Department minority opinion -- material more than sufficient for most MSM [main stream media] stories written after the briefing to be negative! 

What’s new in the Fitzgerald brief

is that President Bush, according to Cheney according to Libby, authorized the release of the NIE report ten days earlier than the July 18 briefing that was widely reported [italics added], and that they disclosed it to Judith Miller, who didn't write about it.


But Bush had nothing to do with the NYT-Miller part, authorizing de-classifying and releasing the NIE report, but that’s all — which is not surprising, unless you think he’s hands-on in such matters, in which case Harvard B-School should ask for his diploma back.  This is from today’s story in, yes, NYT.



John Kass goes after Bush as Commander in chief of leaks, comparing him to the Arkansas Word Splitter.  But look at it this way: The nasty boy Joe Wilson, a schemer of the first water, goes public in that East Coast Paper of ill repute, initials NYT, with public statement misleading public about what's going on with Sadaam and uranium, etc., and Bush wants to call him on it. 
Does he go on air with a fingering of Schemer Joe, whose own official report gives the lie to his East Coast Paper report?  No, it's beneath him, but in the war of words that hurt the war effort he should be shot down.  It's done to him via Cheney and a man named Scooter, though that's what Prosecutor Fitz has to prove (I think: it get murky here, what with ancillary charges having moved front and center), and to defend self Libby wants to know what Fitz has and describes what he wants, and it says President B. has declassified stuff to shoot down bad info -- in the usual Wash. way, without which East Coast Paper and others could not survive, giving it to reporters on background w/permission to use. 
It's a horrible thing, to be sure, that there's a political angle here -- Wilson Scheming, East Coast Paper loving it, etc., White House countering -- but such things do happen, and Wash.-based and other reporters will simply have to live with it, shocked though they may be.  In fact, the whole thing may be a wake-up call to them to play things down the middle and stop grinding axes, but I doubt it.


The lady protests a lot

And the Washington media is probably too polite to call her on that spousal left foot in her mouth,

says John Kass today, winding up his column about the very loud of mouth Congresswoman Schakowsky whose husband caught an excellent break in federal court the other day.  Yes, there’s this politesse among Beltway denizens.  Touching.

It wasn’t quite the end of the column.  Kass had this to add as to the congresswoman’s offensive volubility:

 So I'll say it. Jan? Please put a sock on it.

Well said.

Angle on gotcha

This from Glenn Reynolds:

My take: The latest "Bush leaked" story -- which doesn't hold up very well when you look at the actual story -- is basically a "spoiling attack" by the NYT and other media who fear subpoenas in the Libby case. As with all their efforts on this front, it's likely to backfire. The more they say that leaks are bad, even as they rely on politically motivated leaks from insiders for their bread and butter , the more vulnerable they become. That's why the Plame affair has been more damaging for them, long-term, than for Bush. Bush will be leaving in a couple of years, but the Times and other media will be living with the world they've created, and I predict that their position in this regard will be no better if a Democrat is elected in 2008.

They say leaks are bad?  Are they sure?

Gotcha, gotcha

Chi Trib's Mark Silva has Bush dead to rights in Trib's on-line-only "The Swamp," B. having leaked classified info when he said no one would leak such in his administration -- dated quote is supplied.  But wait.  B. and Cheney can de-classify what they want for a good reason, Silva admits and it says here.  Gotcha, Silva -- who should have better things to do than lie in wait for the Great Satan in the White House, so as to catch him in his speech.
The sudden press flap over Scooter Libby’s alleged “revelation” that President Bush declassified intelligence information related to Iraq is silly but all too predictable. The entire flap relies on mixing terms and “misunderstanding by innuendo” — a technique of demagoguery, not journalism. The flap is yet more evidence that the national press is more interested in playing “gotcha” with the Bush Administration than reporting the news.
That's Austin Bay, who gives chapter and verse on the what and why of this.  He's hereby recommended to Silva and swamp-like colleagues.
So what’s the story here? That someone who worked in the White House selectively passed properly declassified material to the press? That’s not a scandal; that’s Beltway business as usual. I’d love to hear that reported– it’s not news per se, but it would be refreshingly open and honest media analysis.
Bay is a retired Army reserve colonel who won a bronze star for service in Iraq in 2004, writes novels and non-fiction, consulted in war games at the Pentagon, and has a booming media career at this point.  Quite a source for any enterprising Washington reporter.

Hidden persuaders

U. of Chi's John Mearsheimer and partner in production of the much-discussed "israel lobby" paper may have talked to Chi Trib for yesterday's story, he dismissing the discussion as a "food fight," but Harvard's daily newspaper, The Crimson, find them still unavailable for comment, as noted by PowerLine blog.


Mearsheimer in Trib

A University of Chicago professor has ignited an intellectual firestorm in halls of ivy and corridors of power with an essay in a highbrow British journal.

is the lead.  2nd graf calls the paper "a simple diagnosis."  Grossman cites qualified support for it anyhow, even from some Israeli commentators.  But he notes:

"The Israel Lobby" smacks of the age-old accusation that a secret cabal of Jews aims at world dominance,

neatly summing up objections. 

He also, happily, further identifies Mearsheimer -- "a former West Point cadet" and no "stranger to controversy."  Regarding the latter, he cited his 1990 essay "proposing that Germany be encouraged to develop atomic weapons" and his fervent opposition to the Iraq war in 2003 on grounds that "it would give the Israelis an opportunity for an ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza."

"The precedent is there [to forcibly expel Palestinians], and it behooves us to make sure it does not happen again,"

he said at the time.  Indeed, in the current essay, he and his co-author, Stephen Walt, say "the creation of Israel entailed a moral crime against the Palestinian people," this in reference to the 1948 evacuation of Palestinian refugees.

Grossman quotes Mearsheimer as dismissing the current controversy as a "food fight." 

He and Walt find no "compelling moral cause for sustained U.S. backing" of Israel.

The Trib got to this one in the nick of time, I'd say, but did justice to it.  Grossman was just the one to do it.  It's a typically reliable, sensible piece by him in which he quotes the subject, who comes off as overly fond of the hot expression ("ethnic cleansing," for instance) and naively arrogant ("food fight").

City Hall in the dock

Chi Trib has a story about City Hall hiring practices that promises a lot -- "Politics, jobs linked by ex-top city aides: 2 say mayor's office involved in decisions" -- but gets so complicated that by the end you not only are ambivalent about the promise but aren't quite sure who's on first, to use an old Abbott & Costello expression.  The story has a triple byline and reads as if all three took a crack at it, splitting the middle when they disagreed. 
The lead,

Political job recommendations were funneled through Mayor Richard Daley's office in a widely known and long-accepted practice at City Hall, two former Daley aides contend in court papers filed Wednesday

is straightforward enough.  The prosecuting Feds say it's "massive fraud" meant to circumvent a longstanding injunction vs. political hiring -- "the Shakman decree," we read. 

Then there's something about "an attempt by the defendants" to pry loose from a court-appointed monitor materials she says she needs to stop political hiring. 

And then there's why the defendants want the materials. 

And then something about "federal authorities" not having interviewed any of the presumably relevant ex-Daley aides. 

And then a concession by defendants about a hiring "clearinghouse" at the Hall and their lawyer's disavowing any attempt to slime Daley to save his clients -- here paraphrased to make sense of what the story has or spell out what it hints at. 

And then their lawyer's arguing why he should get the materials based on others' previously getting similar materials.  (But he got them this time, didn't he?  [See below]  How else would the Trib know about it?) 

The U.S. prosecutor who got them in 1997, now in private practice and not available.  For what?  To bolster the defense contention that they should get materials they already have?  [See below]

And finally the city's law dept. saying they don't know nothing about nothing in 1997 and furthermore do not consider the mayor guilty of nothing.

There's some good stuff here, I think, but if I have to go back over it, translating into English, as Daily News' Bill Mooney used to say, then either I'm losing it from too much blood pressure medicine, a distinct possibility, or somebody in the Trib who knows how to write did not show up for work yesterday.  (Dock him.)

(OK.  Just re-read lead.  It's about what defendants "contend."  OK.  They don't have the papers yet.  I get it, I get it.  Finally.)


Trib toe in water

Chi Trib has a Mearsheimer story -- about his and a Harvard man's paper on the "Israel lobby" as deciding our foreign policy -- on its site.  It's by AP and is dated today.  It's not in today's hard copy as far as I can tell, but maybe tomorrow.  Nothing by any Trib reporter yet, however -- and Mearsheimer a U. of Chi prof of some notoriety.  Among critics of M. is Alan Dershowitz, also of Harvard, who calls the paper "David Duke with footnotes" -- Duke praises it -- and has posted his rebuttal on the Kennedy School of Govt. site, which has the Mearsheimer paper too.  Sun-Times editorialized about the paper a week or so ago -- or am I imagining things?  It's not on the S-T site now.  Is this the usual dynamic local coverage that Trib is noted for?  Maybe.


If Chicago teachers union president Marilyn Stewart is not part of the problem at Kennedy High School on the SW Side, where 150 students walked out to protest violence by fellow students, I am an orangutang's first cousin.  The students want more security, even cops in the classroom, and Stewart's biggest fear is creating a "police state" environment.  She prefers a root-cause approach, supplying more counselors, as for "a child [who] is picking up feces" to throw them at a student being beaten up by other students, which happened at Kennedy.  "He needs counselling," said Stewart, who could use some herself.  She hears of a student with a broken nose plus bruises inflicted in the presence of many other students and thinks of more jobs for her minions.
What ever happened to Montefiore School, the day reform school where Mike Royko spent some of his early years, emerging as a responsible citizen?  (It's become in effect a mental institution, supplying "highly structured environment for Severely Emotionally Disturbed children.")  Why does Kennedy keep these kids around, apparently some of the 190 transfers last October who in the words of senior class president and honors student Ibtesam Saleh "refuse to wear IDs, won't sit down, stand in the hallway, do not want to be in school" and for whom school time is "a social gathering."  May I suggest that those infractions might be enough to pack the kid off to a Royko-era-Montefiore equivalent?  It's called "attitude" in some circles, clear warning of trouble to come in others.
One-third of the October transfers are classified as having learning, behavioral, or physical disabilities.  The attackers were black, the victim was white, a public schools spokesman said, but "there doesn't appear to be any indication that this would be a hate crime," he said.  Of course not.
Sun-Times education writer Rosalind Rossi did this story, which got page-one splash and all of page three with pic and deserved every inch.


Byrne to Krauthammer to . . . yuck!

In the Chi Trib op-ed infield today, at short, Dennis Byrne, on media bias:
Like a gravely ill patient that refuses to listen to a glum diagnosis, too many of my colleagues greet criticisms of a liberal media bias with a closed-minded, "I'm sick of hearing it."
some journalists give little credence to such official, attributable reports [as U.S. Agency for International Development has about rebuilding Iraq on its web site]. In today's upside-down world, official government reports don't carry the same weight as whispered, unattributed reports.
the media might give more thought to being less defensive, and more objective, not just in covering the news, but also in evaluating their own performance. The public would appreciate that kind of good news.
At second, Charles Krauthammer on historian Francis Fukuyama, heralded as an ex-neocon who got religion during a 2004 lecture by K.:
For Fukuyama to assert that [in my lecture] I characterized [the Iraq war] as "a virtually unqualified success" is simply breathtaking. My argument then, as now, was the necessity of this undertaking, never its assured success. And it was necessary because, as I said, there is not a single, remotely plausible alternative strategy for attacking the root causes of 9/11: "the cauldron of political oppression, religious intolerance, and social ruin in the Arab-Islamic world--oppression transmuted and deflected by regimes with no legitimacy into virulent, murderous anti-Americanism."
I'd like to be able to say I was saying just that the other day: we couldn't sit there and do nothing after being attacked.  We'd done too much of that.  And that cauldron K. spoke of is something we cannot ignore.
At first -- wait, he's out in left field, what's he doing there? -- is Derrick Z. Jackson, whom we find maundering and caterwauling about the great Satan in the White house:
President Bush said he invaded Iraq to rid the world of a madman. It is ever-more clear Bush went mad to start it.
Yes!  He has a New York Times story to prove it!  Saddam H. posed a "planetary threat," he says ironically.  He's still on that tangent: Bush lied!  If we only had stayed in Afghanistan!  Unless we never should have gone there either.  He thinks Iraq, "closer to civil war than stability" (he says), would be better off with Saddam in charge.
We took out a madman with madness. At a minimum, there should be hearings, with Bush under oath. With any more details like this, the next step is impeachment.
He's chasing flies, I guess.


Feeding the feelings

What a difference in two pitches for Mexican immigrants on succeeding pages of today's Sun-Times.  Mary Mitchell did very well in running an e-mail from a Chi public school employee -- my guess is a security guard -- who writes of Mexican kids arriving for school, who 
alway greet me, and parents always with a smile because they love their kids and bring them to school because its part of life and want the best for them. Black parents come to me to complain because the kid ia gettin a uniform letter because they want to dresa them in sean john and jerseys when there is a dress code.  [Spelling as is]
This is better reporting than Mark J. Konkol's in his page-one-splashed story about illegals whom he depicts as deserving to stay:
Wailing police sirens frighten the Barrios children to tears. They know that any day now officers might storm the family's Berwyn bungalow and take "Papi" away -- forever.
And when that time comes, Papi will be sent back where he came from, Zacatecas, Mexico -- a faraway land the kids know only from stories their parents tell. Tales of true love and total poverty.
This is tear-jerking stuff, dished out for the masses to convince them.  How obvious can you get?  Come on.
Elsewhere in the news, the Christian Science Monitor stringer says she issued her pro-terrorist statement with guns pointed at her head and has recanted.  Good.  Few of us would have taken death as Patrick Henry said he would as the price of liberty.  But should we do special honor to the hostage American who was found shot to death a few weeks back in the fair presumption that he refused to make a pro-terrorist statement?