The Sneed Watch

Reader Ed keeps track:
As of today [Sun-Times columnist Michael] Sneed has enjoyed 10 vacation days, and 11 "Sneed is taking the day off" days [this year].  In the first five months she has taken more "days off" than she has had vacation time.


Euro's illegals

Woe is us, woe is them: Daniel Pipes on illegal immigration to Europe, especially Spain: http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3634

As Western birth rates plummet, as communication and transportation networks improve, and as radical Islam increasingly rears its aggressive head, Europeans, Americans, and others worry about their economic standards and the continuity of their cultures. After ignoring this issue for decades, reactions in Europe especially have sharpened of late.

The first of his three examples is that France’s lower house has passed “a tough new immigration law”: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/17/AR2006051701210.html?nav=rss_world

The second is Austria’s interior minister’s telling Muslims that 45% of them don’t fit in and they should immigrate somewhere else: http://www.orf.at/index.html?url=http://www.orf.at/ticker/217789.html

But Spain is the worst case.  Africans used to come through Morocco, but “under intense Spanish and EU pressure,” Morocco took to dumping illegals in the desert without supplies if necessary: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/14/international/africa/14wire-morocco.html?ex=1148702400&en=716f7801c8fe9776&ei=5070

So they flocked to Mauritania to the south, especially South Asians: http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-5789116,00.html.  But Mauritania also cracked down, and farther south they went, to Senegal — 900 miles from the Canaries in open boats, up to two out of five dying en route: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/34c50014-b62d-11da-9cbb-0000779e2340.html

But they keep coming, because it’s so nice once they get there: http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=124447  So many arrive, in fact, that a volunteer likened it to an “invasion.”: http://www.turkishpress.com/news.asp?id=124447

The Spanish try to buy off the West African jumping-off countries but they prefer the remittances — money sent back to family left behind.  “Mass exodus” and big trouble loom, including armed conflict, as have-nots push their way in: http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/analisis/835.asp

Pipes’s piece is in today’s NY Sun, http://www.nysun.com/, a daily founded four years ago by Hollinger International, then headed by Conrad Black, some NYC businessmen, and its two founding editors, Seth Lipsky, formerly editor of The Forward, a Jewish-oriented weekly, and Ira Stoll, who ran a daily web-based critique of NY Times before the Sun rose on NYC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Sun

Could Chicago ever generate such a quality product?  That’s a very interesting question. 

Many-splendored hospitals thing

“Hospitals get more than they give [says] study” is Sun-Times p-1 splash. 

Chicago area not-for-profit hospitals get three times as much money in tax breaks compared with what they dole out in free health care to poor and uninsured people, an analysis to be unveiled today shows.

Sounds bad, this unveiling.  And while “a nationwide debate rages,” never mind about what.  When debates rage, we better pay attention. 

There’s more.  The unveiled study has a finding that is “too out of whack,” never mind in what respect.  When a finding is out of whack, we better pay attention, especially when the state’s attorney general says so.  (And let’s hear it for her flack, who scores big a lot with female reporters, LORI RACKL Health Reporter in this instance.

The AG wants hospitals “to fork over more free care.”  (Thus Rackl.)  If they don’t, she will take away their tax exemption.  In other words, the long arm of the AG will reach out and smack you.  Yes.

“Hospital trade groups staunchly disagree,” however, noting among other considerations that “Service Employees International Union, which has been a thorn in hospitals' sides because of their efforts to unionize workers” PAID FOR THE STUDY [upper case added].

What do you know about that?  Seventh paragraph.  Now we have it: lib Dem AG, relying on continued union support, puffs UNION-MADE STUDY [upper case added].  Now is it beyond the pale for the UNION-MADE part to be mentioned higher up, even IN THE LEDE?

What follows is a hospitals-union mouth fight, always a good show, and an analysis of the study BY THE PEOPLE WHO DID THE STUDY.  They have a name, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, which is characterized not at all but is located: “Chicago-based.”

And its executive director writes for, guess what, The Sun-Times:

CTBA's executive director, Ralph Martire, writes a regular column for the Chicago Sun-Times, that also appears in the Springfield State Journal Register, and the Joliet Herald News. Read Mr. Martire's most recent column: "'No new tax" pledges just put state deeper in debt,"

says the study-doers’ web site.  Fancy that!

And while you’re at it, here’s what the hospitals are saying today:

Report Acknowledges Hospitals Provide Community Benefits More Than Five Times Their Tax-Exempt Value
Tuesday May 30, 9:35 am ET
Leading hospital associations blast report's motive and methodology

And the study-doers are in the fray on their own [but Sun-Times got it first, thanks probably to the Martire connection]:

Tax Breaks for Cook County's Non-Profit Hospitals Triple Amount Spent on Charity Care, New Study Finds

5/30/2006 11:29:00 AM

And the beat goes on, in this case health and medicine.


Iranian turmoil

To back up Charles Krauthammer in today’s Chi Trib saying Iran’s government is in trouble — “internally weak” — consider this from Gateway Pundit:

Regime Commandos & Hezbollah Thugs Pound Iranian Protesters

Four are dead from weekend protest violence in northwest Iran. Authorities called in the "Yegane Bizhe" special guard, which differs from other troops because of the cruelty it uses to suppress demonstrators...

But, still the protests continue!

SHAME ON THE WESTERN MEDIA! When 200 Islamist thugs are bused in from across the country by the Islamic Republic to hold a rally outside the Danish Embassy the western news medias (BBC, CNN, AFP, Reuters...) are quick to cover the story live on TV making it seem like Iranians are crazy fanatics!

When tens of thousands of Iranians come out denouncing that very same regime that is doing these kind of acts, condemning them for the oppressive rule!!! EVERYTHING GOES SILENT!

Aryamehr at The Spirit of Man 

At least 2,000 Azeris protested in Tehran yesterday.

Iranian policemen try to disperse Azeri demonstrators holding up Farsi banners that read "Long live Azerbaijan" outside the culture ministry in Tehran. Four people have been killed and 43 others injured in northwest Iran during protests. (AFP)

Reports from Iran claim that thousands of Azeris are leaving the northwest for the capital to protest against the regime:

According to information from Iran, thousands of Azeri speaking people have left their homes in northwestern and western Iran to go for a mass protest in front of the clerical regime's parliament in Tehran.

This is happening as widespread anti-regime protests continue in Azeri speaking provinces in Iran. Some estimates put the figure over 10,000 who are on their way to Tehran.

In the meantime several hundred Azeri speaking students from universities in Tehran tried to stage a protest outside the mullahs' parliament today but they were stopped by security forces. Students were chanted anti-regime slogans.

Plus lots more.  Wouldn’t it be something to find this with pic by Agence France Press — of Iranian policemen trying to disperse Azeri demonstrators holding up Farsi banners that read "Long live Azerbaijan" outside the culture ministry in Tehran — in tomorrow’s Chi Trib?


Sox clubbed, books listed

Sox were “Canadian clubbed” last night in Toronto, losing 9–2, giving up three homers.  Thus Chi Trib, which gets the headline nod today over Sun-Times, with its strained (hard-copy, not online) “Toronto Rappers,” referring to the homers — rapped, I guess — and the Toronto NBA team, Raptors, I also guess.  Take it away, Trib!

Meanwhile, it was off to the culture-war races in Arlington Heights (who would want to live there? it’s so far away), where the high school board went on for five hours about whether to delist some book titles from the required reading list.  This was not book banning, no matter what Sun-Times has in its head and story in the sense that a library takes books off shelves, not even the school library, but parental objections to making kids read purple-prose-purveyor Morrison, wildly leftist iconoclastic Vonnegut Jr., Freakonomics (?),

Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried; Kate Chopin's The Awakening; The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World, by Michael Pollan; The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky; Walter Dean Myers' Fallen Angels, and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, by Julia Alvarez,

about only one of which, Chopin’s, do I have an opinion, a very high one, in fact, thanks to James Tuttleton’s discussion of her in his 1994 book Vital Signs: Essays on American Literature and Criticism (Ivan Dee, Chicago).  That is, I take Tuttleton’s highly refined opinion in the matter even as I take it as to her being shanghaied by radical feminists dying to prove their point.

There’s lots to be said about these works, to be sure, and it is to hear some of it that we entrust our children to English teachers.  So it is that the sole school board member, Leslie Pinney, did all of us a service by objecting to their required use and instigating a long discussion attended by 750 people — number arrived at by adding Chi Trib’s 500 to Sun-Times’ 1,000 and dividing by two.  (Do the math!)

Again, as reported by Rumana Hussain in Sun-Times, and she was there, we presume — the Trib was not or in any event gave it short shrift — this was about a reading requirement, not reading the books and talking about them, unless Hussain and her editors wanted the story to simply avoid this difference, in which case they should memorize “the Lay of the Last Minstrel” by deadline time Monday.

Note, however, the Trib’s short but sweet rendering:

[A] northwest suburban school board rejected early Friday an attempt by one member to remove nine books she considers objectionable from a required-reading list. [Italics mine]

The Arlington Hts-based Daily Herald has the story big on its site, as to be expected, very interestingly deleting with “(expletive)” two words or phrases, thus bowing to the inescapable issue of taste, as in words you use in polite company.  I made that argument in objecting to the Society of Midland Authors’ giving an award last year to a book about poker-playing in sin-city Las Vegas that opened with gore and sex and bloody murder. 

As a nonfiction judge, I told all the judges in an email, I was accustomed to reading from a winning book, as were some other judge-award-presenters.  If I couldn’t read from the book at a Midland Authors annual dinner, it didn’t deserve our award, I said.  But another judge, a high-school English teacher, took me up on that, defending the book in question.

So we have horse races, and I return to the notion that this board member deserves applause for dragging into the open an issue that should not remain under table, entre nous, or relegated to a subject for muttering about.


The baldest and the boldest . . .

. . . statement of raw k.m.a. power comes from the dean of black alderman, William Beaver, who says, regarding his man John Stroger, sick as a dog but propped up by the palace guard as ongoing president of the county board and as Dem candidate for re-election in November until the guard decides otherwise:
"President Stroger is alive and well .. And whoever he decides that he wants to replace him -- that's what's going to happen. ... White folks can do it. Black folks can do it -- easily. We got control of the [weighted] votes in the city and the county, so we do what we want to do. Remember that."
That was yesterday's paper.  Today Beavers has the nod.  Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), Mayor Daley's unofficial City Council floor leader, said, "I'm going to support Bill Beavers. I don't know if he's going to be a candidate. . . .  [He] would be a good compromise. . . He's well-respected by a lot of political leaders. I don't think he suffers any nonsense. And he's a pretty straight shooter. When you talk to him, you don't walk away wondering what his feelings are. That's not a bad trait."
Wait.  He's another Paddy Bauler?  Chicago ain't ready for reform?  Plain talk, yes.


Point made

Sun-Times sports columnist Telander is on the mark today.  It's in his discussion of Finger-heavenward Sox catcher Pierzynski, who got Cub pitcher Zambrano’s cork without half trying yesterday, doing a Z-imitation on a home-run trot -- chest-pound-lips-touch-finger-up to that Great Umpire in the Sky Who Got It Right This Time.

Was imitating no one, says P, innocent as always.  It was about something “you don’t know anything about” that happened “off the field a few days ago,” he tells Telander, who takes the occasion to say:

Personally, I’m waiting for the first athlete in any sport to point downward after his big moment.

Me too, but we have a long wait.

Stay tuned

In his victory speech late Saturday night, [New O. Mayor Nagin] praised President Bush.

"You and I have probably been the most vilified politicians in the country. But I want to thank you for moving that promise that you made in Jackson Square forward," Nagin said.

Say wha’?  This after Howard Dean tried to sink Nagin?  (Thus Drudge)  Out-of-state white Dem money was part of Nagin opponent’s Landrieu’s $3.3 million raised (vs. Nagin’s to $541,980), per "preliminary campaign finance reports." 

ALSO:  Rove indicted?  Not so sure, says TruthOut.org, which asserted same 5/13.  (Did this blog report that?  No.)  TruthOut got “too far out in front of the news-cycle” and now takes a “wait and see approach.” 

Yes.  But it’s churlish to blame the sluggish news cycle, which as inanimate object can’t hit back.


All news is local

This by Tara Malone in The Daily Herald, “English First: How Language Bill Translates Here” beats Chi Trib and Sun-Times to the punch.  They each have the AP story that boringly tells White House comme ci, comme sa response.   

A day after U.S. senators declared English the country’s “common and unifying language,” suburban leaders struggled to envision what the edict could mean for city halls, school districts and businesses.

And the early forecast was not much — at least, not much yet.

That’s what people wonder about, right away. 


Re: Good fence, good neighbor

Here's an idea, from Reader Marta:  I prefer my husband's idea - build a new canal from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean along the southern US border - require any illegal alien who wants amnesty to work on the project.  Not only would this make it very difficult for people to cross the border, it would have the added benefit of removing our dependence upon the Panama Canal and the political uncertainties of that region. 

Good fence, good neighbor

See Power Line Blog’s item here about the 83–16 vote yesterday in the Senate in favor of a bigger, better fence at the Mexican border. 

In every state surveyed [by Rasmussen] except Massachusetts, at least 60% of respondents say we should "enforce existing laws and control the border before considering new reforms."

Senators got the message, including presidential aspirants Hillary and Kerry, says NY Post’s Deborah Orin, cited here

Thing is, to quote an expert John-Something on Bennett’s Morning in America (Bill should have given the last name when signing off on the guy), we can “assimilate” just so many newcomers. 

It’s understood that it’s important they become like us, not the other way around, say I: they aren’t coming here because we’re like them but are escaping to the U.S., as Chicagoans escape to Wisconsin, or so says the Wis. tourist board, and I believe it.  This John — maybe Hinderaker, of Power Line, but I doubt it — is very hot stuff.

For his ideas, and maybe I have John's name wrong — had to go into the dining room for something — see Robert Rector’s piece at the Heritage Foundation, where we read that

the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA, S.2611) would be the most dramatic change in immigration law in 80 years, allowing an estimated 103 million persons to legally immigrate to the U.S. over the next 20 years—fully one-third of the current population of the United States.

Rector is quoted nowhere in Chi Trib on immigration, by the way.  Columnist Clarence Page cited him 4/23/06 in regard to welfare reform, identifying him as author of the 1996 welfare-reform bill.  Good for Clarence.  But why wouldn’t one of the reporters look up Heritage Foundation for research on this immigration reform?  Maybe they haven’t got to it yet.  It’s a “web memo” dated 5/15.  More from Rector:

[T]he bill would quintuple the rate of legal immigration into the United States, raising, over time, the inflow of legal immigrants from around one million per year to over five million per year. The impact of this increase in legal immigration dwarfs the magnitude of the amnesty provisions.

Can we remain the same country if this happens?  We are not talking salsa and tamales here, but importation of outlanders without our (fragile) concepts of rule by law — already undermined by race preference in legislation and judicial enforcement, to name one obvious area.  Neither is it cheap gardeners or more Catholics in the pews or more Democrat voters, but people whose whole experience is a degree of political and civic corruption to make the Cook County machine look like better government.  What is Bush thinking of, anyhow?  Is it “guest workers”?

The “guest worker” program, then, is an open door program, based on the demands of U.S. business, that would allow an almost unlimited number of workers and dependents to enter the U.S. from anywhere in world and become citizens. It is essentially an “open border” provision.

. . . .

 Assuming 10 percent annual growth in the annual number of guest workers entering the country (well below the bill’s maximum), the total inflow of workers under this program would be 20 million over 20 years.


The bill would grant amnesty to roughly 10 million illegal immigrants. These individuals are currently living in the U.S.; amnesty would allow them to remain legally and to become U.S. citizens.

Green cards?

The bill would increase the number of employment-based visas from 140,000 to 450,000 per year. For the first time, it would also exempt the spouses and children of workers from the cap. Total annual immigration under this provision is likely to be 450,000 workers plus 540,000 family members annually. The net increase above current law over 20 years would be around 13.5 million persons.

We’re a nation of immigrants?  Not quite:

Between 1870 and 1920, the U.S. experienced a massive flow of immigration known as the “great migration”. During this period, foreign born persons hovered between 13 and 15 percent of the population.  In 1924, Congress passed major legislation greatly reducing future immigration. By 1970, foreign born persons had fallen to 5 percent of the population. 

In the last three decades, immigration has increased sharply. The foreign born now comprise around 12 percent of the population, approaching the levels of the early 1900’s. However, if CIRA were enacted, and 100 million new immigrants entered the country over the next twenty years, foreign born persons would rise to over one quarter of the U.S. population. There is no precedent for that level of immigration at any time in U.S. history. [Italics mine]

What is he thinking of?  This?

 CIRA would transform the United States socially, economically, and politically. Within two decades, the character of the nation would differ dramatically from what exists today.

Remaking the nation.


Too sharp

Chi Trib had no room for this rather good comment, which is a shame:
Dear Voice of the People:        “Irresponsible editorial - a challenge to print the truth"   
     Your editorial of May 12, “The NSA has your number,” was both irresponsible and “stuck on stupid.”  The one thing I have admired most about  the Tribune in the past year was its support of America’s on-going and world-wide war against terrorism, whether it be in Afghanistan, Iraq or in other terror hot spots across the world.  With your  May 12th editorial, you have gone wobbly and have shattered and squandered your credibility at a time when newspaper readership is declining.
     In perusing alternate news sources, I found several unreported and misstatement of facts in the initial 5/11 USA  Today news account--and in your opposition 5/12 Tribune Editorial--which detailed the NSA use of a database of telephone records to analyze calling patterns to detect and track suspected terrorist activities.  Missed facts included:
        1. The NSA story is not a new one.  For all its hype, it first appeared in the New York
            Times in Dec. of ‘05 as leaked, classified information.
        2.  No eaves dropping, trolling or wire tapping of American citizens was involved. 
        3.  The innocuous telephone database used was minus names, addresses and other
             personal information.
        4.  Statistical data mining  (The use of  formulas and computers to assess patterns of
             activity.) is routinely used by many businesses across America.
        5.  President Clinton signed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act
             In 1994.  This law made clear the “duty” of phone companies to cooperate in
             the interception of communications for law enforcement purposes and other
             purposes.  It also authorized $500 million in taxpayer funds to reimburse phone
             companies for equipment to access call-identifying information.  Did Hillary not talk
             with Bill?
     In that I have always considered the Tribune to be strong on issues of national defense, I am saddened that the Trib has opted to be critical of a program that was only meant to connect the dots.  For how can dots be connected in catching terrorists before they strike, if there are no dots to connect?   Might the Tribune’s rejection of such a worthy program have to do with its objection to the pending nomination of General Michael Hayden as the new director of the CIA?  I hope not. 
     With so much of the mainstream media being “in bed” with the Democratic Party, I hope the Tribune has not caught the “hate Bush and everything he stands for” disease.    For if this disease is left unchecked and millions of Americans are likewise infected, the assured outcome is that our enemy will be infused with American-inspired aid and comfort.
     Instead of revealing to terrorists across the globe what America is doing to defeat them (Leaked classified information is now in vogue along with biased planted stories and doom and gloom reporting.), might it make more sense for the mainstream media to assist in America’s war against terror through responsible and accurate journalism?  America’s future is precarious.  The American people will suffer if the ideals that made America great are no longer respected or deemed worthy to fight and to die for.  
Sincerely yours,
Nancy J. Thorner     331 E. Blodgett Avenue, Lake Bluff, IL  60044   (847) 295-1035
P.S.  Steve Chapman is one member of your Tribune’s editorial board who is deserving of the label “stuck on stupid” as witnessed by his 5/14 commentary:  “A nation of suspects in land of the free.”  The last sentence in  Chapman’s  commentary was especially revealing of his stupidity:  ”And you might care that one day, we may find that the free society we claim to cherish has become a police state.”  My response to Mr. Chapman is:   If America does not have programs to locate terrorists, America’s future might  involve a police state, not of its own making, but one imposed upon America by outside invaders.

Charging with failure to report

Nothing in today's papers about the former Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker sentenced to 15 months in state prison, notes Cal Skinner in his McHenry County blog.  Nor anything about Kentucky's GOP governor's indictment for patronage hiring abuses.  "I would have thought the parallels with Blagojevich were too stark to ignore," he tells me, recalling comments by his onetime legislative assistant Pete Castillo about the editorial power to withhold (ignore) news.


What is Bush thinking of?

John O’Sullivan in Sun-Times has a credible pre-speech analysis of what Bush has been saying and will continue to say to “smuggle” ill-advised ideas into the immigration debate, such as promising to beef up border security with 6,000 natl guard people: a bad idea, says O’S:

You cannot control the borders, however many patrols you hire or fences you build, if you grant an effective pardon to anyone who gets 100 miles inland.

Oh my.  How alarmingly reasonable.  He also makes hash of the denials of amnesty and cites expected #s of immigrants coming in thanks to a “compromise bill”: 

 [I]t doubles the number of legal immigrants -- and [and] would admit 103 million new people over the next 20 years. It's estimated that 19 million people would otherwise enter America over the same period.


the long-term cost of government benefits could be $30 billion per year or more: ''In the long run, the Hagel/Martinez bill, if enacted, would be the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years'' [says Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation]. It was very sensible of the president not to bore the listeners with such details.

Sounds awful.  This is not Bush’s finest hour.



Here’s an angry response from a non-lib source, as quoted in Taranto’s WSJ Best of the Web:

Steve Sailer on VDare.com writes: "The Bush Administration has seemed never to notice that Mexico is not the 51st state, but a foreign country--one that is engaged in a slow-motion invasion of America. . . . Why is Bush doing this? I have suggested that his motives are dynastic--that he is selfishly sacrificing the GOP to build a family vehicle, much like Brian Mulroney sacrificed the Canadian Progressive Conservative party in a vain effort to build a personal fief in the French-speaking province of Quebec. Brenda Walker speculates he is a 'MexiChurian Candidate.' What he is not is an American patriot."

Not B’s finest hour at all, no.


MAD professors

Eve Fairbanks of The New Republic in LA Times on silence at Harvard about the “Jewish lobby” paper by its drive-by Professor Walt and U Chi’s Professor Mearsheimer:

Call it the academic Cold War: distrustful factions rendered timid by the prospect of mutually assured career destruction.

No problem here, teachers et al. told her when she asked around about shots heard ‘round the world in furious dispute over the Walt-M 3/23 London Review of Books essay nailing Jews for lobbying vs. Arabs and turning the U.S. govt. around for their own purposes.  Her New Repub had run three articles.  She wondered what’s up in Cambridge, where dons get heated fairly easily.  Not this time.

One anecdote illuminated the puzzle. At a faculty meeting, the paper came up, and the department head remarked that she was sure everyone had the same reaction when they read it — approval. One professor piped up: "No, this article is rubbish!" The room became very quiet. Finally, someone changed the subject. Through moments like these, a de facto consensus developed not to discuss the paper at all.

It’s too serious for them to talk about it, apparently. 

Professors I spoke to offered various reasons they must tiptoe around the paper: That its style was too provocative. That they're skittish after witnessing Harvard President Larry Summers' ouster for making fractious comments. That the long-running PC wars have made them tired of controversy. That it's too "personal."

Anyhow, the Middle East is too hot a subject — “too strewn with ideological landmines for them because academics are supposed to be above dogma.”  Hence the Cold War doomsday scenario:

One observer close to the debate [explained ] that he had opinions concerning the paper but feared professional retaliation no matter what he might say.

"People might debate it if you gave everyone a get-out-of-jail-free card," he said, "and promised that afterward everyone would be friends."

Yes.  And we should bow to their superior wisdom?


You ain't seen nothin' yet

From Wall St. Journal:

Liberals who object to datamining [as by NSA with telephone numbers] should wait until they see the "massive intrusion on personal privacy" that Americans will demand if the U.S. homeland gets hit again.


since the database doesn't involve any wiretapping, FISA [the law vs. wiretapping without warrant] doesn't apply. The FISA statute specifically says its regulations do not cover any "process used by a provider or customer of a wire or electronic communication service for billing, or recording as an incident to billing."

As for Di-Fi of Calif. (Feinstein) and invoking the 4th amendment,

the Supreme Court has already held (Smith v. Maryland, 1979) that the government can legally collect phone numbers since callers who expect to be billed by their phone company have no "reasonable expectation of privacy" concerning such matters.

Leave us not forget the other Fein senator, Feingold of the great state of Wisconsin, who says

we should definitely be listening to al Qaeda but that Mr. Bush has committed an impeachable offense by doing it the wrong way. Republicans would love to see a Democratic Presidential nominee take that proposition into the 2008 election.

WSJ concludes by noting that “maybe--just maybe--the aggressive surveillance policies of the Bush Administration are one reason” why we haven’t been attacked since 9/11.  Maybe our fine senators should think more about that.


A little bit of rewrite

Lead for today’s Chi Trib headline story, “Bush: No laws were broken; Millions of phone records reportedly sold to NSA,” by Stephen J. Hedges and Mark Silva, Washington Bureau:

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration Thursday vigorously defended aggressive counter-terrorist electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, which has obtained millions of domestic phone numbers in a so far successful effort to detect terrorist activity in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Kidding.  Here’s the real one, with italics added:

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration Thursday reacted defensively to news that the secretive National Security Agency, which conducts electronic eavesdropping, had obtained millions of domestic phone records in an effort to detect terrorist activity in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but wouldn’t it be nice if Chi Trib writers & editors might sometimes let it go?


Listening in

See Power Line for common sense on today’s USA Today story about telephone numbers.  For instance,

 It's considered a news flash that the NSA is collecting data on phone calls, with the cooperation of almost all of the major telecom companies, to look for suspicious patterns.  [Duh]


[The] article identified Qwest as the one major carrier that declined the NSA's request for cooperation. Presumably Qwest has now become the terrorists' telecom company of choice. Way to go, USA Today!

[I]t's obvious that what the NSA does with this vast amount of data is to run it through computers, looking for suspicious patterns, especially involving known or suspected terrorist phone numbers. I did a quick calculation: assuming that there are 200 million adult Americans, each of whom places or receives ten phone calls a day (a conservative estimate, I think), it would require a small army of 35,000 full-time NSA employees to pay a total of one second of attention to each call. In other words, lighten up: the NSA obviously isn't tracking your phone calls with your friends and relatives.

On the other hand, PL points out, last summer’s London subway bombings were preceded by “a series of suspicious contacts from an unknown individual or individuals in Pakistan” which British intelligence knew about but did not listen in on.  Says PL:

These are exactly the kind of communications that are intercepted by the NSA under the terrorist surveillance program that has been widely denounced by Democrats.

Just another Senator Phony

George Will tears into Sen. McCain today in Sun-T as possessing a tin ear for what the hell he himself is talking about or utter disregard for the Constitution.

“I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government,” McClain told Don Imus 4/28.

In this he was consistent, of course, his McCain-Feingold law being a frontal attack on free speech, sold by demagoguery about corruption, about which McCain remains vague and oratorical.

He puts “first amendment rights” in scare quotes?  Would he do the same for “constitution” if he takes the oath of presidential office in January, 2009? Will asks, dissecting and explicating the man’s recent comments.

Why do newsies love him, anyhow?  Don’t they get it, that he’s soft on protecting free speech?


FDR led the way

A little perspective, please, on the so-called domestic spying by Bush, a favorite item with bashers everywhere:

An obvious problem with the current debate over NSA surveillance is that it's been personalized around President Bush. Many critics of the surveillance have an obvious hatred for the president that colors the way they see the administration's actions. Thus, it's instructive to see how the Roosevelt administration handled a similar situation on the eve of World War II. Our Spectator piece examines FDR's surveillance program -- and finds striking similarities to the present controversy. In researching the article, we obtained relevant memos from Justice Jackson's archives at the Library of Congress that haven't been previously discussed in the press.

Interesting, I’d say.  It’s in an American Spectator piece noted by PowerLine.  It begins:

IN A BOLD AND CONTROVERSIAL DECISION, the president authorized a program for the surveillance of communications within the United States, seeking to prevent acts of domestic sabotage and espionage. In so doing, he ignored a statute that possibly forbade such activity, even though high-profile federal judges had affirmed the statute's validity. The president sought statutory amendments allowing this surveillance but, when no such legislation was forthcoming, he continued the program nonetheless. And when Congress demanded that he disclose details of the surveillance program, the attorney general said, in no uncertain terms, that it would get nothing of the sort.

In short, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt charted a bold course in defending the nation's security in 1940, when he did all of these things.

And he did so before Pearl Harbor, while Bush’s surveillance is after our Pearl Harbor, 9/11.  He acted before we were at war, Bush after it.


Score four for Trib

Chi Trib today has two good stories and two good columns that struck the eye.  Probably more.  One story kicks off the Robert Sorich trial in federal court (where else?), all about City Hall patronage and job-stealing — that is, being sure jobs go to friends, which requires stealing them from qualified non-friends or neutrals.  It’s by Dan Mihalopoulos, Laurie Cohen and Todd Lighty, who do an excellent job summing up a citizen’s case, much of it the government’s too, against the newly constituted Dem machine.  It’s here.

The other story is another in an unannounced series about how farming out Austin High students to other schools has unleashed mayhem, this time at Clemente High.  Stephanie Banchero has this one.  An idea of what’s happening:

This year, nine teachers, an assistant principal and two deans were threatened or hit. Students were stabbed, choked and robbed, school reports show. A schoolyard brawl sucked in 40 students.

Amid all this, the principal of 10 years abruptly quit in March without a specific reason.

The columns are by Charles Krauthammer and Dennis Byrne, Trib’s Monday morning reliables, the former on Jews facing 1938 again, when Hitler promised their extermination and the world yawned.  Now it’s the Iranian president, soon to be nuclearly armed and happy to find so many Jews concentrated (no camps necessary) in one place, namely Israel.

Byrne’s is about pols lying in their teeth with (a) phony immigration legislation calling for unenforceable voluntary exile-taking by some 1.6 million Mexicans and others and (b) a new state budget that does it with mirrors but is declared marvelous by legislators who, Jack Horner-like, put their thumbs in pies and say what good boys they are.  Bully for them.


Lashing back II

More on backlash from today’s Chi Trib:

Marches that turned out hundreds of thousands of people in support of immigrant rights also appear to have raised interest in the Illinois Minuteman Project, which supports a clampdown on illegal immigration.

The group, which began in Arlington Heights in October, had about 125 members until the first pro-immigrant rally was held in Chicago's Federal Plaza in March, said Evert Evertsen, the group's membership coordinator.

That number has grown to 360, he said, in the wake of that event and another massive march on Monday to Grant Park.



Lashing back

This lady on illegal-immigrant backlash in Wash Times makes good reading.  Diana West's her name. 
However, interesting or not, her "immorally cheap labor force" reference is mysterious.  What moral dictum is being violated when people fight to work for low wages?  She apparently speaks of pricing non-illegals out of the market.  Oh?  What does she think of printing firms moving to Tennessee, where labor costs are lower?  Immoral?
Her reference to illegals constituting "more than 29 percent of prisoners in Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities," on the other hand, is a stopper, though it leaves unsaid what percentage these are of illegals.
Never mind.  Herndon VA voters spoke this week, going almost entirely for opponents of an illegal-immigrant hiring facility.  Not to mention the record "463 immigration bills . . . introduced just this year in 43 states," as reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures, most of them "designed to get tough on illegal immigrants, on employers who give them jobs and on state officials who give them benefits," as says Wash Post.
Then, anecdotally, there's the Arizona "Sheriff's posse to patrol desert" headline.  And the Milford CT board of health's making sure restaurants do not hire illegals in view of "the appearance of infectious diseases among" them.  (Power Line has this.)


Cute but no cigar

Chi Trib's page oner today, top left, is from Liz Sly out of Baghdad with help from Omar Salih, about "Omar" as the name "no Iraqi wants" because it's a Sunni name and Shiite gunmen will kill you.  A story like this is a way to keep the civil-war argument in readers' eye, Alinsky-style rubbing raw the sores of discontent with U.S. policy, or it's just an easy-reading breezy piece to help people thank God it's Friday.

As the number of sectarian killings in Iraq soars, and Iraqis on both sides of the Sunni-Shiite divide feel increasingly nervous about mingling with the opposite sect, name-changing is on the rise.

OK.  But deep in the story, we have:

[R]eports [counting] 24 Omars among the 700 or so Sunnis killed in recent weeks [is] hardly statistically significant. [boldface added]

. . . .

But the report has been widely disseminated, and now men named Omar are convinced they are being singled out by the Shiite militias and Interior Ministry forces suspected of carrying out the sinister killings of Sunni men whose bodies are found almost every day, dumped around town.

So. A story about the madness and panic of crowds, bolstered by misinformation and the words of one Omar saying:

"The only safe way is to leave the country. But if you can't do that, you have to do something to survive."

This is on-the-ground reporting?  Nothing from sources such as Brookings Institution's Iraq Report that give an overview or grounds of comparison, even to use a Trib section title, perspective?  Not that I can see.


Add this, 5/7: 

Reader Jennifer: You've nailed it. Thanks. Ms. Sly's name fits all too well.
Me: Someone in her position, however, can be the creation of editors (with whom she goes along to get along).  They say what they are looking for, or she gets it without their saying it, and they place it, deciding where on what day.  Either way, it's bad; in fact, it's worse when you think editors, on whom I place primary blame.


Reduced representation

Ald. Ed Burke's law firm had only 37 clients doing business with the city in 2005, down from 43 and 40 in the two previous years.  He practices safe aldermanship, however, abstaining from council votes in which any of the 37 is involved.  No winks or nods either, we may be certain.


Big question

Is not this country built on the rule of law? asks NJT.  Why did many of the rally participants express beliefs that they were above the rule of law?  Did not many break the law by entering America through numerous illegal channels?
Comment: Rule of law is hard for many to understand.  It takes appreciation of an abstraction, which is beyond most, being a statement of what goes regardless of circumstance.  When a rule works badly for someone, he considers it unjust.  But rules always work out badly for someone.  Question is, are they good rules for the most part or not, and what if we didn't have them, what then?



Chicago’s $2 million anchorwoman complains of shoddy work on her Lincoln Park house, crying race.


J. Peder Zane, in the Charlotte NC News & Observer, says, “If we're lucky, the clash of civilizations will not end with a bang but a whimper, not with a mushroom cloud but the cry of the baby that brings a Muslim majority to Western Europe.”

It could happen by mid-century.  It “appears inevitable.”  We have our immigrants, always have had them, and have a formula for handling and absorbing them.  It’s called assimilation.  Europe has no comparable experience and no formula. 

Zane points to Bruce Bawer’s “indispensable” new book, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within (Doubleday, $23.95, 247 pages), which I happen to be reading.  Bawer moved to Amsterdam to get away from a spoiled love affair — with his male partner.  It looked great to him, until he ran into immigrant Muslims.  His story starts with gay-bashing on the street with onlookers doing nothing. 

It continues with a devastating account of politically correct blindness to Europe’s enemy within, not just of gays like himself but of all Western values.  Women are 4th-class citizens in Muslim enclaves.  The enclaves are often left to themselves by government and become laws unto themselves.

It’s a tough book, full of warning.  It also offers stark contrast between a relatively open society, ours, and a relatively closed one, European.  Europe’s media are often subsidized by government or government-owned.  People much more reflexively approve what authorities do.  Public sentiments, however, are contradicted regularly in private conversation.