Being there

Chi Reader's Michael Miner on absence of Sun-Times sports writer Jay Mariotti from the Sox locker room while writing about ballplayers:
[W]itness is journalism’s irreducible core. And sportswriters are the most old-fashioned of journalists and athletes the most old-fashioned of other people. Clubhouses are where jocks and scribes circle and sniff each other. Mariotti boasts of his sources in other places, but he’s remarkably estranged from this environment, where the circlers and sniffers ultimately piss on the same hydrants.
He quotes Mariotti complaining about "the jock mentality," which is like a religion writer objecting to a religious mentality.  M. should find other work.


The fourth purveyor of classified stuff

Is it not curious that three newspapers are mentioned as running the SWIFT (not swift boat) story about how we track Al Quaeda finances — NYTimes, LATimes, Wall St. Journal — but not Chi Trib, which had it page-one same day as its sister paper, LATimes?  Trib ran the LAT story, yes, filling its role as LAT-Midwest, but is it not a major daily, worthy of being mentioned, even excoriated with the others by admin-supporters? 

It’s that old third-city syndrome, yes, and non-coastal sucking of hind titty when it comes to respect, yes.  But has the Trib sunk to virtual nonentity status, with all its resources? 


Tale of two headlines

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook’s column about Ozzie Guillen using “unconscionable term” — “fag,” which Cook does not use — had this headline in Pittsburgh yesterday:

Cook: It's appalling Guillen will be at PNC Park

But this in Chicago today (Sun-Times):

Baseball needs to learn to deal with criticism

The latter is about as weak as you get.  Why not take that “appalling” and stuff it in Chicago readers’ faces?  I have a million answers to that question.

Ozzie by Slezak

Asked last year if she was offended by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen’s cuss words, Sun-Times columnist Carol Slezak said no.  Nor had she ever seen him acting badly toward women writers, she said on another occasion, again in response to a male writer’s question.

I could have added that Guillen is one of the most entertaining personalities I've ever covered [she wrote]. I could have said he is smart and honest and frequently offers insightful comments about both his team and the sport. I could have said he is the best thing to happen to the White Sox and major-league baseball in a long time.

That, with Mike Ditka’s endorsement of Ozzie as “real people,” also in today’s Sun-Times, goes a long way toward rebutting some of the foolishness being expressed — as by the Pittsburgh writer in same paper saying it’s not political correctness but business acumen that dictates a throttling of Ozzie, as if the first isn’t informing the second. 

How is it bad for business?  Have fans stopped coming?  Have players stopped playing and winning?  Foolish, foolish man.  On the contrary, “I am unaware of any anti-Sox or anti-baseball backlash as a result of his remark,” says Slezak.

GM Kenny Williams is worried, however, and speaks of imperilled “longevity” as manager of his team for him who offends.  He relishes Ozzie’s “color” and “flavor” but seems unwilling to let it go.  Same for

the rest of us, particularly many of us in the media, [who] are prone to getting carried away. . . .   [S]ome . . . have tried to link Guillen's handling of the team's recent beanball wars -- neither of which was started by the Sox -- to his gay slur. There is no connection, but that hasn't stopped us from piling on. We're good at that.

If Ozzie has to watch what he says, on the other hand, who decides? 

I vote for including the c-word, as in chick. I don't recall having heard Guillen use it, but plenty of others seem to think it's an acceptable term. (And I suppose it is, to barnyard fowl.)

Who’s to be protected?  Some are shoo-ins, as “gays and racial minorities.”  Caucasians?  Chubby guys like Bobby Jenks? 

Finally, I wonder if the context of the offending word or phrase will be taken into account. Because Guillen can be pretty funny. His pregame Q&A sessions with reporters can resemble a comedy routine, and comedians get away with insulting all kinds of people. I wonder if Guillen will be afforded that luxury now. (Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg recently ran a week's worth of blond jokes in his column. If Guillen were to tell a blond joke, would he lose his job?)

Ozzie’s under a microscope nonetheless, and “will face even more intense scrutiny, and I'm not confident he can escape unscathed. I'm not sure any of us could.”

End of column, here excerpted at length and I hope capturing its logic, clarity, and expertise.  Who says girls can’t be sports writers?

As for the GM, Williams, he’s immensely successful and highly regarded but has his own demons to beware.  Just consider how he talks as quoted by Slezak and behold a man running scared for his own job and in fear of what others think:

"What I get concerned with more than anything is that my friend, my brother, is going down a road that does not necessarily lend itself to longevity,'' Williams said. "We've all seen how the movie ends when things are flamed to the degree they are beginning to flame [to] when he says things that are controversial.''

. . . .

"We are trying to get him to understand that if he puts himself in that position, it will be, to me, one of the most unfortunate sports happenings in a long time,'' Williams said. "We need people like Ozzie Guillen out there to give a little bit of color and a little bit of flavor to the game.''

Unless too many object.  Then we don’t need them at all.


Dixie chickens

Chi Trib media writer Steve Johnson oddly accuses Dixie Chicks fans of hypocrisy for not buying their records because the Chicks have embraced leftist views.  “Hypocrisy” is one of those words that cut deep.  It’s as if he was pretty mad and searched for what we have come to call a “hurtful” adjective.  For instance, “fag” as applied to Sun-Times man Mariotti, which he says didn’t hurt him at all — what would he say, “Oh. That hurt!”? — and anyhow its use is widely considered in newspapers as “hurtful” of “millions” of unnamed homosexuals, who don’t like it.

Or “racist” rather than “prejudiced”: it’s got more zing.  It’s hurtful but not banned.  “Fag” is.  So is “nigger,” which never got used in a complaint against its use by historian John Hope Franklin at Rainbow-Push headquarters Saturday.  This made sense, insofar as Franklin was objecting to its very use — by blacks making light of the old taboo — as if it were a magically hurtful (there it is again) shibboleth.  Hell, they stick pins in dolls, don’t they?  And what happens then?

The non-buyers of Chicks records — and we must wonder how many of them Johnson knows — are hypocritical because they like feminist themes but not when the Chicks do them because they do not like Chicks’ politics.  But he leaves out the possibility that feminism does not cover all faults, in this case regretting one came from Texas because that’s where George W. Bush came from.  Why does Johnson, an admitted expert in these matters, not allow that these fighting words from Lead Chick Maines have been perceived by Chicks’ fans as so hurtful (there again!) as to blind them to Chicks’ feminism?

There can be only one reason, dismissing the possibility that Johnson is dumb and can’t see this sort of thing, it being too complicated for him, and that is his own hurt incurred when Lead Chick Maines’ anti-Bushism was rejected in the first place.  The suggestion to be made is that Johnson look into his heart and see whether that is so.  Then he might see that it’s hard to enjoy Chicks’ music, feminist or otherwise, when one feels like throwing up when their name is mentioned.

Documentation:  For Steve Johnson’s column, rummage in the garbage for yesterday’s Trib or go here.  For Mariotti stories go here.  For Hope Franklin and the N-word, go here.  For Dixie Chicks and Bush, go here.  For Dixie Chicks more or less naked, go here.  For a funny story, go here. 


Ozzie v. M.

Even as I know White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen won’t be fired for calling Sun-Times man Mariotti a fag (trust me), I also have this to say: If he is fired for anything but losing ball games, I promise to go into hock to buy a season ticket to the Cell, as near home plate as possible, and spend every game, all nine or more innings, booing.

Another thing: I will contribute to the sensitivity sessions which Mariotti will be forced to attend to cure his exquisite self-absorption. As for why self-a in his case, consider today’s column.


Chi Trib potpourri of leftism

Chi Trib today, hard copy, front section has three questionable stories:

1. The LA times piece exposing a major counter-terrorism technique, for which see also NY Times.  It’s tapping into bank accounts used by Al Quaeda, our enemy who has to be sniffed out in such manner.  But LA and NY Times, and camp-following Chi Trib, find in this news that fits, even if it compromises the war effort.

In tracking terrorists, U.S. taps bank data

By Josh Meyer and Greg Miller
Tribune Newspapers: Los Angeles Times
Published June 23, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government, without the knowledge of many banks and their customers, has engaged for years in a secret effort to track terrorist financing by reviewing confidential information on transfers of money between banks worldwide.

Imagine that!  Secret effort vs. terrorists.  How dare they? 

2. LA Times story about (guess) what kind of warming that serves to warm the cockles of faithful readers who love to hear about things they hate? 

Panel affirms rising Earth temperature U.S. scientific body studied warming data  
By Thomas H. Maugh II and Karen Kaplan, Tribune Newspapers: Los Angeles Times

June 23, 2006

After a comprehensive review of climate change data, the pre-eminent U.S. scientific body found that average temperatures on Earth have risen by an average of about 1 degree over the last century, a development that "is unprecedented for the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia."

The report from the National Academies of Science also concluded that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming."

Pre-eminent indeed.  But have Maugh and Kaplan cherry-picked to make the point they hold close to their hearts?  On the other hand, the news is there: official Wash. is leaning towards g-warming in the Gore mode?  It’s hinted at:

Coupled with a report last month from the Bush administration's Climate Change Science Program that found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system," the new study signals a growing acceptance in Washington of widely held scientific views on the causes of global warming.

But not till ‘way at the bottom do we hear a negative word, and it’s in the shape of a Congressional, not scientific investigation, which is typical: Drape your position in noble positives, relegate negative to political sniping. 

One attack came from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), who last year launched an investigation of Mann and his colleagues. The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee demanded information about their data and funding sources--an effort widely viewed as an attempt to intimidate the scientists.

That’s it, fourth-to-last paragraph.  Except this last ‘graph, which makes one wonder what else did they say?

The report also said the panel was "less confident" that the 20th Century was the warmest century since 1000, largely because of the scarcity of data prior to 1600.

3. Typically, a big Republican story tending to justify the Iraq war gets told only in context of Dem response and in effect from Dem point of view:

By Naftali Bendavid
Washington Bureau

June 23, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Democrats on Thursday ridiculed comments by two leading congressional Republicans that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq.

What about the comments that elicited ridicule?  Had Trib run them?  No, but it has on its site an AP story in which about halfway down we read:

To counter criticism that no weapons of mass destruction turned up in Iraq even though that was a key argument for going to war, Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., released a newly declassified military intelligence report. It said that coalition forces had found 500 munitions in Iraq that contained degraded sarin or mustard nerve agents, produced before the 1991 Gulf War.

Democrats downplayed the intelligence report, saying that a lengthy 2005 report from the top U.S. weapons inspector contemplated that such munitions would be found. A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the weapons were not considered likely to be dangerous because of their age.

This is Al-AP, remember, as Rush Limbaugh calls it.  Anyhow, Naftali Bendavid read it and got its gist as far as he was concerned.  As for the new info about WMD, there would have been more for NB to say about it if he had looked around.  For instance, Rumsfeld’s saying the newly found weapons were dangerous:

QUESTION [in news conference]: Mr. Secretary, there has been a lot made on Capitol Hill about these chemical weapons that were found and may be quite old. But do you have a real concern of these weapons from Saddam's past perhaps having an impact on U.S. troops who are on the ground in Iraq right now?

RUMSFELD : Certainly. What has been announced is accurate, that there have been hundreds of canisters or weapons of various types found that either currently have sarin in them or had sarin in them, and sarin is dangerous. And it's dangerous to our forces, and it's a concern.

So obviously, to the extent we can locate these and destroy them, it is important that we do so. And they are dangerous. Anyone -- I'm sure General Casey or anyone else in that country would be concerned if they got in the wrong hands.

They are weapons of mass destruction . They are harmful to human beings. And they have been found. And that had not been by Saddam Hussein, as he inaccurately alleged that he had reported all of his weapons . And they are still being found and discovered.

The canisters “may be quite old,” said the reporter.  Oh?  “In From The Cold,” a retired intelligence agent (he says), has another understanding entirely:

You'd think the discovery of 500 chemical weapons in Iraq would be a big story, even if they are leftovers from Saddam's arsenal in the 1980s. This discovery confirms that WMD remained present in Iraq, despite the old regime's proclamation that such weapons had been destroyed, and fruitless searches conducted by U.N. inspectors, and later, the Iraq Survey Group (ISG). These weapons, which include artillery shells and rockets, were filled with mustard gas and nerve agents of varying toxicity. The discovery of these weapons suggests (surprise, surprise) that Saddam planned to retain at least a portion of his WMD capability, and would have likely resumed full-scale development and production, had UN sanctions been removed.

He has more more more that reeks with detail and apparent knowing what he’s talking about.  Chi Trib’s Wash. bureau doesn’t think it’s a big story, however.  It’s, ah, world view gets in the way.  They are more interested in outing counter-intelligence activity.


Ozzie and the new f-word

Mike Downey of Chi Trib wakes up some mornings and thinks White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen “is going to be the one [between him and loser Baker of Cubs] who gets fired or quits.” 

Eh?  He should have more wholesome thoughts on arising.  O-Z quit?  Won’t happen, say I, whose sports column has been running in his head for 60–plus years.  Gets fired?  Please.  Why?  Because Rick Garcia of the local gay anti-defamation league writes a letter?  How many World Series has Rick Garcia won?

The flap is about Ozzie G. calling Sun-Times columnist Mariotti a fag.  If he had said dastardly cad, would that have done it?  I don’t think so, regardless of M’s sex orientation, which I do not think is the issue nor do I have any interest in. 

But while Downey’s at it, why not predict Mariotti’s quitting or being fired?  He was rusticated once some years back by the Sun-Times for I don’t know what reason.  (I’ll bet Downey knows.)  And he is (a) ridiculously untrustworthy as to predictions of failure for ChiSox, (b) driven on daily basis to report sensationally what’s wrong with everything (waking up, he has very unwholesome thoughts), and (c) apparently a dastardly cad.  That should do it for getting fired.

Market helps sick people!

We hear much about health care — how bad it is.  Here’s good news from Wall St. Journal via The Market Center Blog:

Monday, June 19, 2006 ~ 8:55 a.m., Dan Mitchell Wrote:
American health care is much better for the genuinely sick. The US health care system is a mess, thanks to excessive government spending, foolish tax preferences, price controls, and onerous regulations. But some market forces still are allowed to operate, which is why ill people are better off in America. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, a doctor explains:

If we look at how well it serves its sick citizens, American medicine excels. Prostate cancer is a case in point. The mortality rate from prostate cancer among American men is 19%. In contrast, mortality rates are somewhat higher in Canada (25%) and much higher in Europe (up to 57% in the U.K.). And comparisons in cardiac care -- such as the recent Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada study on post-heart-attack quality of life -- find that American patients fare far better in morbidity. Say what you want about the problems of American health care:

For those stricken with serious disease, there's no better place to be than in the U.S. Socialized health-care systems fall short in these critical cases because governments strictly ration care in order to reduce the explosive growth of health spending. As a result, patients have less access to specialists, diagnostic equipment and pharmaceuticals. Economist David Henderson, who grew up in Canada, once remarked that it has the best health-care system in the world -- if you have only a cold and you're willing to wait in your family doctor's office for three hours.

But some patients have more than a simple cold -- and the long waits they must endure before they get access to various diagnostic tests and medical procedures have been documented for years. Montreal businessman George Zeliotis, for example, faced a year-long wait for a hip replacement. He sued and, as the co-plaintiff in a recent, landmark case, got the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down two major Quebec laws that banned private health insurance.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115033718636680826.html?mod=opinion &ojcontent=otep (subscription required)


Dog bites man in Waukegan

Hot, hot story out of Waukegan in Sun-Times -- appeared first in Waukegan News Sun, by reporter Judy Masterson:  School administrator wins reverse discrimination suit vs. district.  Lost her job -- she white -- after blacks achieved board majority and one of them told her:
"I have four votes to get rid of you any time I want."
Yes, but . . .


Timetable issues

Here’s how the Illinois vote went today in the House favoring 256-153 the Iraq war resolution that “rejects setting a timetable for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq, labels the Iraq war part of the global fight against terrorism and praises American troops,” with X denoting those not voting.

Democrats — Bean, Y; Costello, Y; Davis, N; Emanuel, N; Evans, X; Gutierrez, X; Jackson, N; Lipinski, Y; Rush, N; Schakowsky, N.

Republicans — Biggert, Y; Hastert, Y; Hyde, Y; Johnson, Y; Kirk, Y; LaHood, Y; Manzullo, Y; Shimkus, Y; Weller, Y.

The Senate creamed a Dem-inspired contrary resolution — calling for withdrawal by year-end yesterday, 93-6.  It was Kerry’s idea. He did not want it voted on, however

Under the rubble

Documents found since Zarqawi took on room temperature 

stressed the need to manipulate Moslem and Western media. This was to be done by starting rumors of American atrocities, and feeding the media plausible supporting material. Al Qaeda's attitude was that if they could not win in reality, they could at least win imaginary battles via the media.

They know how to win hearts and minds.  Rush Limbaugh has taken to calling AP “al-AP.”  It’s full of useful idiots, or so the Big Z and friends thought.  There’s more.

In this morning's New York Post, Ralph Peters writes on "Terrorist Defeatism." Drawing on captured al Qaeda documents, Peters exposes the closely-guarded secret (closely guarded by the western media, anyway) that we are winning in Iraq, where al Qaeda says its situation is "bleak." And that was before its leader was killed, and nearly 1,000 more killed or rounded up.

The Dems are looking like toast in November.  Viva Bush & Rumsfeld.


Losing your heritage

Chicago’s Humboldt Park is in danger of being overrun by Yuppies, say some Puerto Ricans in today’s Chi Trib — a story, by the way, visible only among print-edition stuff and reachable only using the search window, meaning it’s gone from on-line items as such, maybe because late-arriving higher-up editors don’t like it. 

[This is wrong, web editor Charles Meyerson informs me:  “You, sir, are wrong.  . . .  The story has been played prominently on the Web site all morning -- featured as one of the lead items in the chicagotribune.com front page Business section.”  Yes, moved to business-technology half-way down the screen shot, nowhere near as visible and eye-catching or space-taking as in p-1 hard copy, where it’s 13 by 7 1/2 inches, just below the logo, with two big color photos and two more on back page front section, where it has 12 by 8 inches to roll around in.  Believe me, it’s a play to die for in what the man threw on my walk this morning, vs. what’s reachable by not only the search window, as I say incorrectly — sorry about that — but otherwise only by careful scrutiny of web page.  THAT’S NO EXCUSE: I SHOULD LOOK HARDER!

[Moreover: Meyerson is senior producer of the Trib site and asks that I

excise that whole "late-arriving editor" fantasy, or at least correct it in context.

[I can do that: A long time ago, newspapers had night editors who, while in touch with the main editors by telephone, could be countermanded by the 9–5 (or later) editors, probably in their morning meeting, dubbed a “circle jerk” by one young city desk man who later became city editor.  At these meetings, sometimes influenced by the newspaper’s owner-publisher who heard something last night at a party, stories rose and fell.  Once I was a winner here, not a loser: something I’d called in got overlooked by the night man but given nice play for home-delivery Red Flash.  Continue now with this fascinating account.]

I saw a story shrink once.  It was about black Christians celebrating wildly in church — authentic as hell, full of speaking in tongues and shaking and swaying, but my Chi Daily News editor, the late Daryle Feldmeir, was embarrassed by it.  It confirmed too well what some whites thought about blacks, he told me when I entered his office to inquire what was happening.  This was in the days of seven editions, and the Red Streak final had reduced the front section’s back page, full of John White photos, as I recall, to a column or two.  This was white liberal protection of minorities, 1970s-style.  It still happens, of course.

"It's taken 40 years for us to establish where we are today," said Enrique Salgado, who heads the local Chamber of Commerce. "Once this is gone, you lose the concentration of the Puerto Rican community in Illinois."

So what?  Does this Salgado think PR’s can’t manage cultural permanence on their own without him and other xenophobes? 

It’s gotten nasty, in fact:

Developer Anthony Zaskowski said he felt pressured to give in to community protests over a project to build condominiums near North and Artesian Avenues that would have blocked a mural featuring Pedro Albizu Campos, a hero in Puerto Rican history.

After a land swap with Zaskowski in 2004, the lot is now a small urban park.

"We were forced to settle this thing," Zaskowski said. "We lost a lot of money."

This is a picture, of course, of a community so unsure of itself it needs clout to survive.

Ald. Billy Ocasio (26th) said he is fulfilling residents' wishes "for the culture to remain alive."

Citing a ward policy that forces developers to set aside a third of their projects for affordable housing, Ocasio said, "If you take a look at what's happening, you have a plan that is able to allow people who want to stay, to stay."

Whenever you see “affordable housing,” look out.  It means low-cost housing, for one thing, and government interference in the economy, for another, with resultant screwing things up, including killing of prosperity for all concerned.

Good story by Antonio Olivo, by the way, who if he wonders what happened on-line can probably look to late-arriving editors, the 9–to-5 ones who sit in big offices.


He says, she says

It's "U.S says" time at Chi Trib, where the page one Guantanamo suicide story has that the suicides are "prompting new calls for an immediate shutdown" in the lede.  (So what?)  In 2nd 'graph, we read that "the Bush administration battles growing international criticism of its detention procedures."  (So what?) 
They were "committed jihadists" who hung themselves as an act of "asymetrical warfare," says Guantanamo commander Adm. Harry Harris, meaning "tactics of insurgents who face a militarily superior U.S. force in combat," says Trib, explaining the term in common use by "U.S. military officials."  (They can be eerily detached sometimes.)
Army Gen. John Craddock, the leader of U.S. Southern Command, said the men were not among detainees seeking U.S. court reviews of their cases and had not yet appeared before controversial military trial panels. Craddock insisted that the three, although not accused of any crimes, were enemy combatants and terrorists.  [Italics added]
"Insisted," as vs. overwhelming evidence to the contrary?  Or insisting on one's innocence?  How about good old "averred" or, God save the mark, "said."  Chi Trib has something it's trying to say and should spit it out.
They want to "become martyrs," said (insisted?) Craddock, who arguably knows more about it than Chi Trib people, but who knows?  Some of those editors are very smart.
In any case, they have their talking points down well:
But as many detainees pass their four-year mark in captivity without formal charges, human-rights activists and defense attorneys said the prisoners have grown despondent over being detained without charges and without imminent prospects of a court hearing.  [Take that, Craddock and Harris, you Bush pawns.]
"People have been indefinitely detained for five years without any prospect of ever going home of ever seeing their families or ever being charged or having any resolution," said Jumana Musa, an advocacy director for Amnesty International in Washington. "There is no question serious psychological trauma comes from that."  [Jumana Musa said that?  Well that's another story.]
Even Kofi Annan, of oil-for-food fame, gets space in this ridiculous article, written by people with an agenda, folks!  On the other hand, at article's end:
[Adm] Harris said one [of the suicides] was part of a Taliban uprising at the Qala-I-Jangi prison in Afghanistan, where CIA operative Johnny "Mike" Spann was killed in 2001, becoming the first U.S. combat casualty in Afghanistan. Another was a member of Jamat al Tabligh, an Islamic group the military considers a terrorist organization. The other was a "mid- to high-level" Al Qaeda operator, he said.
But can Harris be trusted?  We at Chi Trib doubt it.  He "insists," doesn't he, and officials "refuse" (vs. other standby, "decline," used when you want to go easy on the decliner) to release suicide notes, which could then feed fanatical fires.
Consider, on the other hand, the AP story that by dinner time had bumped the hard-copy story on the Trib site, "Suicides Renews [sic] Criticism of Guantanamo,"out of San Juan, with its flat-out, this-is-how-it-is lede (none of this "So&So says" up front):
A "stench of despair" hangs over the Guantanamo Bay prison where three detainees committed suicide this weekend, a defense lawyer who recently visited the U.S. jail in Cuba said as calls increased Sunday to close the facility.
There we are.  You can do it, Chi Trib: give the same treatment to the U.S. military as AP gives a defense lawyer.  Go on.


Good news Trib

Quite an upbeat p-one Chi Trib story here, in which we read about progress in Iraq, with only secondary, brief reference to the usual day’s death toll.

The U.S. military pressed its offensive against Al Qaeda in Iraq on Friday, staging an additional 39 raids based mostly on information uncovered during the hunt that led to the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. air strike.

The fresh raids came as Al Qaeda in Iraq issued urgent appeals for money and volunteers to fight American forces, a day after the news of al-Zarqawi's death left the organization without a clearly identifiable leader.

is the lede, details follow:

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell displayed a suicide belt, explosives and Iraqi army uniforms uncovered in 17 raids conducted soon after al-Zarqawi's death. The raids targeted people whom the U.S. had been monitoring in the buildup to the strike, which was delayed until al-Zarqawi had been pinpointed because they were giving "indicators at different points in time as to where Zarqawi might be," Caldwell said.

An additional 39 raids were conducted Friday, some of them directly related to information obtained in the earlier raids, Caldwell said without giving further details.

That’s us.  They?

[A web-site] statement in the name of Hamil al-Rashash (Holder of the Rifle) struck a more desperate note [than one by head of the Iraqi Mujahadeen umbrella group pleading for volunteers].

"Help, help! Support, support!" it said addressing the Islamic ummah, or community. "Assistance, assistance! Where is your money? And where are your men? There is no excuse for you.

"America won't benefit you. History won't be merciful to you. Wake up before it gets too late and before all the curses of Earth and heaven fall upon you."

A bit of analysis in mid-story points out the role Zarqawi played:

As for leadership, it is unlikely Al Qaeda will quickly be able to replace al-Zarqawi with someone with the same name recognition and appeal to the global Islamist community, experts say. Helped in part by the repeated condemnations of U.S. officials and by his own headline-grabbing tactics, such as the gruesome, videotaped beheadings of hostages, al-Zarqawi had catapulted to worldwide fame over the past two years. [Italics added]

In a war of nerves as well as physical devastation, such things matter greatly.  Let’s hear it for experts, this time anyhow.


Shades of Dan Rather

There are holes in the Haditha massacre story, which has been changing, even in Time Mag.  They are discussed in American Thinker by a Wash DC lawyer, Clarice Feldman, drawing on extended discussion (and exposure) at Sweetness and Light, which in addition to inconsistencies has the Time skinback:

In the original version of this story, TIME reported that "a day after the incident, a Haditha journalism student videotaped the scene at the local morgue and at the homes where the killings had occurred. The video was obtained by the Hammurabi Human Rights Group, which cooperates with the internationally respected Human Rights Watch, and has been shared with TIME." In fact, Human Rights Watch has no ties or association with the Hammurabi Human Rights Group. TIME regrets the error.

Feldman winds up her version of Sweetness & Light’s coverage:

The sum and substance of this thumbnail sketch on the Haditha claims is that it follows so closely the template for the TANG [Texas Air National Guard] and [Valerie] Plame stories. Take a reporter with an anti-Administration agenda [apparently Time’s Tim McGirk, as in his at best weird Taliban coverage post-9/11], an interested group (think of the Mashhadanis [Reuters cameraman with insurgent ties and man who fed info] as the VIPS in the Plame case or Burkett and Lucy Ramirez in the TANG case) and a story too good to be checked and circumstances where the people attacked [Marines] are limited in what they can quickly respond to and you get a story which smells to me like it will soon be unraveled.

This time, I’m betting the consequences to the press which rushed to judgment will be more disastrous than it was to Dan Rather. I surely hope so.  [Italics added]

The story too good to be checked, yes.  Reporters and editors smell that meat a-cookin’, as if they were Springfield trough-feeders, and away they go.  I’m staying tuned.

NYT vs. GM

Letters to Editor writers of the world who feel dissed, you ain’t heard nothing yet.  This about NY Times, item #1 in today’s Poynter Online Romenesko, takes the cake.  NYT has circled wagons to protect its Thomas Friedman, as explained by the man from General Motors:

I’ve spent much of the past week trying to get a letter to the editor published in The New York Times in response to the recent Tom Friedman rant (subscription required) against GM (see “Hyperbole and Defamation at The New York Times,” June 1).

I failed. This is my story.

For those of you who haven’t read it already, Mr. Friedman spent 800 words on the Times op/ed page to accuse GM of supporting terrorists, buying votes in Congress and being a corporate “crack dealer” that posed a serious threat to America’s future. He suggested the nation would be better off if Japan’s Toyota took over GM.

Mr. Friedman later acknowledged in television interviews that the column was a bit “over the top,” but that he wanted to get our attention.

He got it.

What Romenesko, much read by news people, picked out has the point nicely summarized:

You'd think it would be relatively easy to get a letter from a GM vice president published in the Times after GM's reputation was so unfairly questioned. Just a matter of simple journalistic fairness, right? You'd also think that the newspaper's editing of letters would be minimal -- to fix grammar, remove any profane language, that sort of thing. Not so. Even for me, who worked for nearly 20 years as a reporter and editor, this was an enlightening experience.

We do live and learn, do we not?


Nothing succeeds like succession

The insurgent — and surging, at least in newspaper coverage — Tony Peraica makes a good point in his latest (12:42 p.m.) release about his defeated resolution calling not only for “public hearings and the subpoenas for medial [sic] records and testimony from medial [sic] experts” but also a “clause establishing a process for the temporary replacement of the County Board President, to be modeled after the U.S. Constitution's 25th Amendment.”

“[S]hould the evidence adduced at such meeting suggest that the President and 4th District Commissioner [the ailing Stroger] has a present temporary disability which is likely to cease prior to December 4, 2006 [when the new president will be sworn in], this Board's presiding officer (or acting presiding officer) shall request that the State's Attorney of Cook County draft an ordinance for this Board's consideration modeled after the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article V., Section 6 (b) of the Illinois Constitution providing for a process for the temporary replacement of a Cook County Board President or Cook County Commissioner during such time as that officer is temporarily unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

This “would not only have put the Board on track to ending this current crisis, but it would have ensured that the voters and tax payers of Cook County would never again have to wonder, ‘Who's in charge of Cook County government?’”

As matters stand, they don’t.

Strange, dear, but true, dear

Daily Kos, a left-leaning blog, commenting on the Zarqawi hit:

“Where is Osama? Where are the batillions [sic] of trained Iraqis? Doesn’t matter, we got this guy, right? We wrote a 25 million check as a reward, and get a new headline to bump off Haditha.”

Wow.  For him the big news is Haditha.  U.S. perfidy trumps victory, which he defines as “making a peaceful nation in a land fractured by ethnicity and then war.”

Don't get me wrong Zarqawi is a great catch.  And I hope beyond my cynicism that this symbolic victory will do something on the street in Iraq.  But let's make sure we have a plan for when it turns out, this guy wasn't the be all and end all of our Iraq problems.

Let’s have a well-laid plan, even if the best-laid ones gang aft agley.  (We don’t care!)  Another trademark of the fussbudget left: The plan’s the thing.

Ban that eatable!

Chi alderman Ed Burke, the city's "most powerful," has his gimlet eye fixed now on what?  FATTY FOODS!  This be the never-far-from-irritated Burke who on leaving a Loop building was irritated by smoke from smokers on SIDEWALK near its doorway and immediately proposed a ban on smoking near doorways!  Foie gras has bitten the dust, as we know, banned in Chicago, that important foie gras profit center.  Now for "fatty, fried fast food," which Alderman Mother wants to limit as preliminary gesture:
Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) has an ordinance pending that would ban Chicago grocers from selling meat treated with carbon monoxide to make it look pink and more appetizing.
Burke said it "might be a good jumping off point" to target french fries and other fast food that's cooked in artery-clogging oil and food that's processed or loaded with additives and preservatives.
Fact is, Burke, "who pumps out more consumer-oriented ordinances than any other alderman," is a regular Carrie Nation in this fat-saturated and otherwise self-endangering city,  Thanks much to his leadership, the city council has delivered or proposed delivery on these "big ideas," says Sun-Times:
• Ban the sale of foie gras (passed) • Ban cell phone use while driving (passed) • Force Chicago cabdrivers to wear uniforms (proposed) • Establish a 10-minute limit on outdoor dog barking (proposed)  [Ed.: Make it one minute] Set a two-hour time limit on dog tethering (proposed) • Impound ice cream trucks that play music after 7 p.m. (proposed) • Ban parasailing and restrict skateboarding and in-line skating (proposed) • Require horses pulling carriages to wear diapers (proposed)
Who says this city ain't ready for reform?


Haditha wars

The unfolding investigation of last November's events in Haditha reveals much more about the Bush administration's critics than it does about the U.S. armed forces. Although the inquiry is ongoing, it appears that 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians were deliberately murdered, allegedly by American Marines seeking revenge for a fallen comrade. If true, the episode was a war crime, something that must be--and no doubt will be--severely punished. However, the administration's critics are already cynically leveraging the Haditha killings as a means of undercutting the president, heedless of the effect this may have on American national interests.
This is very important stuff from today's Wall St. Journal.  Consider also this from embedded free-lancer Michael Yon on the issue of context:
It is hard to define the context in a place where the enemy regularly tortures and beheads people, and murders children on a daily basis, and this seems to raise scant ire. They can kill a dozen kids, or come to a classroom and murder a teacher in front of young students, and still be called “rebels,” or “freedom fighters.” I call them terrorists. A smart Australian recently told me during an interview that “terrorist” is not a subjective term; after all, terror is their principle weapon, and so the term is accurate.
He's embedded and not told what to write.  This is how U.S. troops operate:
In the matter of Haditha, what we do know is that an investigation is underway. The results of that investigation have not been issued publicly and it is uncertain whether those results will include criminal charges. Because we have one of the only militaries on earth that actually investigates its own troops so openly, at the end of the day, we can and do hold our people to very high standards. Granted, in this case, apparently it took a media pry-bar to crack the lid, but we also have one of the only militaries in the world where a writer — even one who is flagrantly anti-military — can embed with combat troops.
Foreign journalists often contact me for advice on how to get in with troops other than Americans in Iraq. American forces are easy to go out with. A journalist need only contact the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad, and he or she can be getting shot at while dodging roadside bombs as early as next week. But it can be extremely difficult, unless the journalist in question is a known sympathizer, to go out with militaries of other nations.  [Italics added]
I read that as a sign that we are superior to other countries in openness and honesty.  But you would not think so to read our daily papers, etc.


Egad, not THAT Murdoch!

This is precious:
Baltimore Sun
Beginning today, The Times of London US edition is available in New Jersey and New York. "It's really puzzling," says Bonnie Brownlee of the Indiana University School of Journalism. "It's hard to see how they're going to make any money. The BBC is one thing -- there's hope for them [in the US market]. But the Times? Who wants it? It's not what it used to be. It's a Murdoch paper! And it's so weird reading it as a tabloid."  [Italics added]
(Thanks to Poynter Institute's Romenesko)

This dog don't bark

Sherlock Holmes made the non-barking dog the key clue [scroll down].  NY Times et al. do something like that.  They manage to talk about Islamic terrorism in Canada without using the word "Muslim" or "Islam" and using "Koran" only in defense of shot bomb-maker:  Here  and here. 
Whatever are they up to?  NYT et al., that is.  We have a  pretty good idea what the others are up to.


Cool on Stroger

Very good analysis, cool and collected, of the WILD, WILD John Stroger business by Laura Washington in Sun-Times.
The Conventional Wisdom of the Chattering Classes (CWCC) says that an African American will emerge as the Democratic nominee for the November faceoff with Republican Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica.
To my mind, here is an opportunity for the county's black leadership to demonstrate political maturity and cohesion. So far, it's shaping up to look like a food fight.
Publicly, they are saying one thing. Privately, it's something else. Granted, it's tough to campaign for a job by walking over someone's hospital bed. Talk to Forrest Claypool about it.
The conventional-wisdom part is nicely stated.  And she's cool enough to add a white guy at the end:
The joker in the deck is Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan. There a tiny problem there. He happens to be white. He also happens to be very qualified. Houlihan is a policy wonk who actually has a plan to turn the county around.
Almost at the end.  She saves her last name, of eight, for the end:
 My mystery candidate is one who could handle those sharks with aplomb -- CHA Board Chairwoman Sharon Gist Gilliam.
Sharks indeed, among them son Todd Stroger, the alderman, "a nice young man [who[ has never run anything" and Rep. Danny K. Davis, "aka The Voice of God, [who] proclaims he is getting a raft of spontaneous 'calls' for him to run."


See Dennis, See Dennis write columns, in Chi Trib as usual (it's Monday) with this lede:
"What [Ill.] Gov. Rod Blagojevich is trying to do to the state and its taxpayers [selling off assets to pay bills] used to be called "living out of the attic."
But also in the increasingly (as I realize) indispensable RealClearPolitics with "Pro-Gay Groups: Offer Your Own Amendment,"  where he offers the suggestion,
"Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sexual orientation."


Freaking out

Take a look at “Freakoutonomics,” by Charles R. Morris, in NYT, as socio-economic-psychological explanation of people’s worries and fears about our economy — indicators up, attitudes down.  He compares our time to the 1870s, when the economy was booming and most people’s, including farmers’, situation was improving.  Farmers didn’t think so, however, and in any case prices were in play globally, leaving some in the dust.  Most interesting is Morris’s point about lost egalitarianism, what I’d call those old income-gap blues, which feed on bigger-than-ever disparities.

Before the Civil War, America was perhaps the most egalitarian society in the world. But the unbridled entrepreneurialism of the 1870's gave rise to the robber barons [a highly debatable term, by the way, coined or disseminated by committed leftist and careless historian Matthew Josephson]. Even if ordinary people were doing better in the 1870's, the yawning gap between the very rich and everybody else fanned resentments. Interestingly, wealth inequality in today's America is roughly the same as in the Gilded Age.

Add to that the sheer discomfort from big changes:

The sharply increased social and geographic mobility of the 1870's set people adrift from traditional sources of security in families and villages. In our own day, the destruction of employer-employee relationships, the erosion of pension protection and employee health insurance may be creating a similar loss of moorings.

And you have reason enough for sadness in the midst of prosperity.

However, consider also F.A. Hayek’s argument of the importance of income disparity for the good of all, if only to show the way to the rest of us about how to live if you can afford it. 

Moralistic fussbudgets inveigh against consumerism but have no suggestions about how better to stoke the progress that saves lives through expensive medicine, to name one obvious benefit.  As someone else argued recently, how would the all-night pharmacy be available if it weren’t for the doo-dads and knick-knacks whose sales support the mall?

For Hayek’s thinking in the matter, try Don Boudreaux, “Americans are Wealthy (and Getting Wealthier),” at Cafe Hayek. 

As for Morris, he has “many highly praised books,” says the Century Foundation, including Computer Wars, American Catholic, and The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy.


My Lai revisited?

About Haditha as the new My Lai, Jed Babbin:

The accelerating media feeding frenzy over the alleged killings of twenty-four Iraqi civilians in Haditha by US Marines last November is about to overwhelm American politics. Propelled by their most irresponsible war critics, the left will try [to] use Haditha as it used My Lai thirty years ago: as a political tool to take apart America's support for the war and to shatter the legitimacy of our cause and the morale of our troops.

“We don't know what happened in Haditha, an insurgent stronghold in Anbar Province,” he continues.

Unverified press accounts allege that members of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, First Marines, were hit by an improvised explosive device and one of them was killed. Others, according to these reports, went on an hours-long killing spree to revenge their comrade's death, leaving about twenty-four men, women and children dead. Navy and Marine Corps investigators are at work, and other reports indicate that at least three Marine officers, including the battalion and company commanders, have been relieved of duty. It's also reported that more than one enlisted man has been detained pending charges about to be brought.

We don’t know because Lemming Press accounts are “unverified.”  This is media bias returning to bite them.  Their trust level low, they shout and we don’t listen.  Or they are silent and we go elsewhere for our information.

In the wake of My Lai, we left Viet Nam, 

abandoning our allies and hanging our heads in shame. This is the political result the left wants from Haditha, and we cannot allow it to happen for one very big reason. The Vietnam War ended in Vietnam, leaving America incapable of taking action in defense of itself or its allies for decades. The end of the war against the terrorist nations won't occur in Iraq, and we must be prepared - psychologically and politically - to continue the fight. When we lost Vietnam the enemy didn't follow us home. Radical Islamists will. If they win, we will literally lose America.

In other words, this time the enemy won’t leave us alone.  Look for Haditha as the new anti-battle cry.  And anti-military, with loss to fighting morale.

Just as the few disgraced the many at Abu Ghraib, the very few who may have committed murder in Haditha will place a burden on the shoulders of every soldier, sailor, airman, marine and coast guardsman fighting terrorism. Each of us has a duty to not add to that burden, and to help relieve it as well. If those few Marines killed innocents in Haditha, their conduct is an aberration, not the norm. It is up to each one of us to ensure that the events of Haditha do not tarnish the brave and selfless service of the many who came before, or any who come after. Except for the aberrant few, the Marines are always faithful to America. In times such as this, we cannot fail to be faithful to them.

Let us not get sucked into a media-created morass of self-flagellation.


Meanwhile, hold on about Lemming Press being no longer trusted.  By whom? is the question, of course.  By more today than yesterday is the quick answer.  But the eminent Thomas Sowell says it ain’t over yet, not till it’s over, in fact:

Conservatives who point out the declining audience for the big television network newscasts, and declining public trust of the media in general, often underestimate how much clout the liberal media still have.

For example, while the economy has had near-record highs in growth rates and in the stock market, with near-record lows in unemployment and inflation, polls show that the public thinks the economy is in big trouble. A steady diet of gloom-and-doom spin in the liberal media has worked. The death of media influence has been greatly exaggerated.

more more more:

Regardless of what the facts are, you can always find exceptions to those facts. The liberal media inundate us with stories about those exceptions, who are presented as if they were the norm.

The middle-aged single mother struggling to make ends meet, while working at a minimum wage job, has become a staple of these journalistic tales. In reality, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that only about 2 percent of workers who are 25 years old or older have minimum wage jobs.

But you would never guess this, judging by media hype.

Sneaky guys and gals.