Schools, College, Israel

Bingo for Neil Steinberg today:

When the Rev. James Meeks tries to score political points by pinning the problems of the Chicago Public Schools on Mayor Daley, when he says, "These kids who started in kindergarten, they wasn't messed up when they started in kindergarten. ..," he is not only plain wrong, but devious and damaging.

He cites these debilities with which kids come to school already “messed up”:

Half arrive at their first day of school unable to identify the colors red, blue and yellow. Half are unable to speak in complete sentences.

Half do not know how to hold a pencil or a crayon, never mind write with one. Half can't tell you their last names -- heck, some kids show up for school and don't even know their first names, only a street tag -- "They call me 'Lil Man.' " It takes a special parent to send their child to school without knowing his name -- actually, not so special, which is heartbreaking.

This from admittedly 12–year-old surveys,

but the situation hasn't changed. Students are "messed up" at the start -- angry, unaccustomed to learning, unaccustomed to discipline, and ready to fail.

But not bingo! for the screaming headline story, “College Aid Falls Far Short of Need,” which breathlessly announces that some can’t afford the college of their choice even when qualified:

[S]ome students [have had] to take out more loans or work longer hours to pay for school -- on top of loans and work study they already shouldered under federal financial aid formulas. Others have dropped courses or live at home to save money. Still others switch to more affordable two-year community colleges.

And in true daily newspaper sobbing fashion, this change is given flesh and blood by focus on one presumably deserving student, famous for a day, because she can’t go downstate to school.  No context is given, just emphasis on deprivation.  It’s the sort of story that makes liars out of newspapers.  They have to hype it up to sell.  Buyers beware.

Finally, truth be told, Chi Trib has its Monday sampling of the Best of Wash Post with Charles Krauthammer levelling with us about Israel in “Passing judgment on Israel-Hezbollah When wantonly attacked, one must disarm aggressor”:

What other country, when attacked in an unprovoked aggression across a recognized international frontier, is then put on a countdown clock by the world, given a limited time window in which to fight back, regardless of whether it has restored its own security? What other country sustains indiscriminate rocket attacks into its cities--every one designed to kill, maim and terrorize civilians--and is then vilified by the world when it tries to destroy the enemy's infrastructure and strongholds with precision-guided munitions that sometimes have the unintended but unavoidable consequence of collateral civilian death and suffering?

And he further dismantles the proportionate-response argument vs. Israel, citing U.S. and U.K. performances which earned no such widespread criticism and/or condemnation.  No other country gets this treatment, just Israel, who is supposed to hunker down and head for the shelters, while madmen work for its destruction.


Coming up big with crisis

Pardon me while I throw up at this history-deprived breathless Chi Trib HUGE story today about the oil crisis.  Fifteen thousand words!  Heaving is an option for me because I happen to be reading The Doomsday Myth, by Charles Maurice and Charles W. Simpson, a 1984 book out of the Hoover Institution at Stanford U.

Their first chapter, “The Energy Crisis Is Over!” is a rundown on what happened 1979–83, when newsies and others proclaimed the end of everything — “a long dry summer” and “Over a barrel,” both Newsweek cover stories in 1979 — but ended with stories of glut — “Down, down, down: OPEC finds that it is a crude, crude world” in Time in 1982 and “Oil prices hit the skids” in Newsweek in 1983.

They look back on “10,000 years of economic crises,” none of which ended everything, as we know, as bad as they were.

No matter.  Trib’s Paul Salopek, born yesterday as far as crisis-history goes, writes another chapter in panic:

TRIBUNE SPECIAL REPORT: Traveling from a gas station in the Chicago suburbs to Nigeria and beyond, the Tribune's Paul Salopek retraced seemingly ordinary tankfuls of gas to the most fragile and hostile corners of the planet. His journey shows why our gas-fueled lifestyle is at risk.


[T]o truly grasp the scope of the crisis looming before them, Americans must retrace their seemingly ordinary tankful of gasoline back to its shadowy sources. This is, in effect, a journey into the heart of America's vast and troubled oil dependency. And what it exposes is a globe-spanning energy network that today is so fragile, so beholden to hostile powers and so clearly unsustainable, that our car-centered lifestyle seems more at risk than ever.

It would be different, of course, if he cited this argument by Maurice and Simpson, in addition to others.  One does not do it that way, however, when one wants or thinks he has a HUGE story.

In any case, his is the language of those news mags’ headlines.  So.  How are Salopek and his editors on crisis history?  Weak?


Praise from Caesar

It’s cute how NY Times calls Chicago “the Windy City.”  And it has almost nothing but praise for the Big-Box ordinance, of which it approves as far as it go.  But what this country really needs is legislative pay increases for the lowest paid across the board:

Laws should not be tailored selectively for individual companies, and most of the working poor will not be helped by simply targeting big retailers. An approach fragmented among many localities is also inefficient and in some instances illegal. The courts will decide that question. But the Chicago ordinance is a powerful expression of public dismay. The lot of the most disadvantaged will only improve if the issue is forced, as it was in the Windy City.

Public dismay, eh?  Wouldn’t we like to know as little about Chicago aldermanic politics as that newspaper?

Daley courageous

Daley’s “profiles in courage” toss-off the other day, about aldermen unwilling to oppose big box/living wage, is suspicious, to say the least.  When has he bet on a not-sure thing except when he ran for mayor the first time and had no choice?  In the case of this bb/lw veto, for instance, do we think he will do it without first getting the votes to sustain it?  Do we think he will do it either way?  Reliable Spielman reports aldermanic opinion that he won’t:

The fact that all of the undecided votes broke labor's way led some aldermen to believe that Daley wanted it that way to get himself off the veto hook. 

As for the suit v. bb/lw by retailers, held off until Daley does or does not veto at the 9/13 council meeting, Chi Trib discusses decisions about big-box legislation with nary a mention of this year’s Maryland fed court case that shot a bb ordinance down.  The Defender, in a Medill News Service article, thought it worth reporting, however. 

As for minimum wage in general, as in House Repub leaders wanting to raise it nationally, consider this from Cato chairman William A. Niskanen:

An increase in the minimum wage has long been a symbolic issue for the Democrats, however inconsistent with their other professed political values. House Republicans should challenge the Democrats on this issue, pointing out that an increase in the minimum wage would most hurt those that they claim to help.

Take Emma Mitts’s 37th ward, for instance.  It’s a half mile east of Oak Park but worlds away in terms of unemployment.  Ald. Emma is against bb/lw ordinance, needless to say.


$13 an hour revisited

Cato Institute chimes in on Chicago’s legislated wage increase:

In "Minimum Wage Socialism," James A. Dorn, professor of economics at Towson University and editor of the Cato Journal, writes: "The idea that legislators can help low-income workers simply by mandating a pay raise is the height of hubris. While the minimum-wage rhetoric may sound good, the reality is quite different. Forcing employers to pay low-skilled workers a higher than market wage -- in the absence of any changes in productivity -- will decrease the number of workers hired (the law of demand)."

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh asks, as he always ask when minimum-wage legislation comes up, Why stop at $13 an hour by 2010?  If it’s a good thing, then move it to $75G a year for all, with fully paid, no-copay health and medical?  These Second City aldermen are pikers.


$13 an hour

Bye-bye Chicago as city of the big shoulders.  Forget P-Stone Nation and various Lords: “Unions run it” goes on billboards at city limits all three sides and maybe on buoys offshore — just across city limits, that is, for people to see as they consider entry.  Not people, you know, but successful companies of a certain size.  Hey.  This may be why Oak Park flirted with a ban on Lane Bryant: it’s the size that put trustees off.  THINK SMALL!

After more than three hours of debate, aldermen voted 35 to 14 today in favor of an ordinance that will require "big-box" retailers to pay their workers more than minimum wage.

That’s veto-proof, not that Daley would do it if he could, unless he could do it under cover of darkness, as he plowed Meigs Field under.  It’s not his style. 

The measure only applies to companies with over $1 billion in annual sales and stores of at least 90,000 square feet, which means it primarily affects Target and Wal-Mart.

It requires them to pay at least $10 an hour in wages plus another $3 in fringe benefits by July 2010. The state's minimum wage is $6.50 an hour.

This be madness.

Look out! Individual shards incoming!

Here is the day’s laugh from Romenesko, hot and heavy, at which neighbors may be calling to see if I’m all right following my outburst:

Wall Street Journal
Many military bloggers, or "milbloggers," argue that the mainstream media tends to overplay negative war stories and play down positive developments. For many of these blogs, says one milblogger, "the sole purpose is to counteract the media." The frustration of milbloggers is understandable, says Shorenstein Center's Alex Jones. But "if the overall picture is one of continued violence and a significant lack of stability in many parts of Iraq, the individual shards of good news could be more of a distortion than a reflection of the truth."
Posted at 9:47:41 AM

Italics added, if you please, to this super-ivory-tower comment from the Shorenstein man.  Pray tell, where the hell would newspapers be without “individual shards”?  It’s the mother’s milk of sales nourishment, for crying out loud. 

Moreover, does he really think papers give the “overall picture”?  As in booming economy with pockets of poverty, when the latter are drummed home Alinsky-like to rub raw the sores of discontent?

What does he think editors do more of, induction (gathering of facts and then deciding) or deduction (picking facts based on embracing the generality)? 


Daley calls big-box ordinance 'redlining'

This bishop can preach to me any time:

Bishop Arthur Brazier, pastor of the Apostolic Church of God, said the hue and cry [about Wal-Mart setting up shop] in impoverished South and West Side communities is for "jobs, jobs, jobs. ... No one is interested in salary or starting point. All they want is jobs. . . . When you say a living wage and a person has no wage, it doesn't strike their heart.

"This is a union fight. I don't think the aldermen ought to be stalking horses for the unions. Let Wal-Mart build their stores. Then, let the unions organize."

That’s about it.  Aldermen with union labels, butt out.



S.J. Hedges of Chi Trib Wash. bureau talked to two people for his 7/23/06 story about how Bush admin. lost Syria. (Apparently successor to the 40s "who lost China?" problem.) One was a former Pentagon Middle East aide who he says pushed a hard line on Syria and now is at a think tank. The other is Syria’s aambassador to U.S.

Hedges also went to clips for assorted comings and goings, as what Rumsfeld said on the matter and, we presume, actions taken by a former CIA analyst who used to be "top Syrian expert" on the Bush Admin Natl Security Council, who wouldn’t return Hedges’s phone calls. So where he stood on Syria comes from someone else. Hedges does not say whom.

Bush admin. "stumbled," say "some . . . analysts." How many and what are their names? He cites one, plus an ambassador.

This is typical daily newspaper throwaway stuff, the reporter acting as expert. It’s how newspapers do it, and it’s part of their problem. The good bloggers, on the other hand, are tentative and thoughtful, regularly referring to others, weighing and balancing. They respect how the mind works. Their medium permits it. But the $2.50 ad-packed Trib doesn’t permit it. So people go elsewhere, even for the ads. How many? More every quarter, circulation figures tell us.


Blithe potpourri

STYLE NOTE: Do you keep your baseball cap on when breakfasting at George's on Oak Park Ave.? Or do you doff it? One sees both, one is not sure.

BEAVERS VS. JACKSON: Good-govt. advocates must applaud Chi alderman-ward committeeman Wm. Beavers for his candor. He is truly a gift to the movement. On TV, in reference to picking a Cook County board presidential candidate, he said, accurately as to role of committemen, "We can do anything we want." In a more recent assertion, in reference to Congr. J. Jackson Jr., who threatens to upend Beavers in his ward, he said, also accurately in view of committeemen’s slating powers, "Committeemen make congressmen," not the other way around.  

Congr. Jesse Jr. called him "Jurassic" in reply, and laughter rang out loud and clear in our dining room when this was read by the man of our house, maybe alarming neighbors in our three-flat. The lady of same house, in Brooklyn with their shoulder-torn (but recuperating) daughter, was not there to remind him of neighbors, who have yet to complain anyhow, though the neighbor below us in our previous apt. did call once to make sure we were all right after hearing said man roar approval of a White Sox double play. 

The thing is, does Congressman JJ Jr. really mean to upend Ald.-Committeeman Beavers with talk of his being jurassic? Rather, does not JJ Jr. betray his exclusive Eastern prep school education with such talk? Or does he think to appeal to movie-watchers of the movie of that name, with "park" attached? Has the word become part of Everyman's vocabulary thanks to Hollywood, our supreme arbiter of historic and prehistoric reference? 

CLOONEY TO PITT TO REAGAN: Meanwhile, history marches on. Did you know, for instance, that Shakespeare was never knighted because he was a "player," that is, actor, and King James thought the nobles would object? Or that no player was knighted in England until 1895? And now we listen respectfully to players speaking on all sorts of subjects. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and others take your bows. We care. 

Of course, some players or ex-players are weighty enough. We the people knighted Ronald Reagan in our way, electing him president. He rode aw-shucks friendliness and finely tuned Everyman communicativeness to victory while carrying intellectual saddlebags that weighed more than the Democrat media realized or admitted. History, yes! 

SAVING CAPITALISM: Thomas DiLorenzo's How Capitalism Saved America The Untold History of Our Country, from the Pilgrims to the Present [Dewey decimal shelved at 330.122] is a good read in defense of our most helpful, most abused economic system. He teaches econ at Loyola College, Md., and writes lots of books for which he mines other books, sometimes footnoting 8 or 10 Ibid.'s in a row (with new page numbers), which tells us how he works. He's honest about it, and mining helps -- he reads the books, we don't have to. You're in a hurry? Let DiL. drive home his points for you. 

For example, describing the anti-capitalist, he says some people just don't like us to have freedom to move about the economic landscape. Liberals love Cuba or at east soft-peddle Castro's excesses and failure to provide for his people and give freedom of speech, for instance. They are not put off by dictatorship, which they feel is a good thing if you just have the right dictator. It's a "purposeful" place, said Saul Landau in or before 1978. (See what I mean? DiL reads a book, and marshals what he can from it.) Libs like control and order. 

DiL does mercantilism, a centuries-old system that promotes state-sponsored monopolies and protectionism, guaranteeing special favors for the politically astute and/or connected and in the process putting the producer almost always first, the consumer second, said Adam Smith. Mercantilism = corporate welfare, as Oak Parker Kathryn Jonas argued in a 6/20/06 letter to the OP Wed. Journal, if in not so many words, her target being TIF (tax increment financing) money paid to woo Trader Joe's/Whiteco at Harlem & Ontario. This stuff never pays off, says DiL.

WE LOVE NONSENSE: Oak Park School District 97 Superintendent Constance Collins's pants are on fire. She told Oak Leaves that inner-city schools have trouble attracting good teachers not only for salary considerations but also because the buildings are old in districts without "funds to keep the buildings up," adding "community issues that spill over into the schools" as another reason.

That's diplomacy of a high order. "Community issues" indeed, as term for an excess of wild kids unwilling to learn and for all practical purposes incapable, plus too many parents who can't or won't do anything about it. Such students come from demoralized neighborhoods where upkeep of buildings is as much a result as a cause of demoralization.

So she's a liar? Sure, in the sense that governments lie all the time, to save jobs and not exacerbate the overall situation. It's the rare public official who risks either. For that matter, we the public don't like public officials outspoken, or not enough of us do enough of the time. If you can fool only some of the people some of the time, as Lincoln said more or less, you can talk to them straight about as much. 

SAVING MAPLE AVENUE: Some OP trustees feel exaggerated responsibility and ability. 400 N. Maple-dwellers (objecting to a new condo building) and the developer can be part of a win-win situation, says Trustee Milstein. We can achieve that, he says, clinging gamely to his notion of making everybody happy, rejecting Trustee Marsey's caution about limitations in the matter, in view of this or any developer-businessman's being unlikely to drop his profitable, legal plans or, as Milstein suggested improbably, exchange them for another proposed by the village.  

Trustee Brock feels responsible too but is less specific than Milstein (who is none too specific, at that), mostly expressing a generalized discontent about various things (and often requesting explanation from staff while the other trustees wait patiently). Trustee Brady offers her own cautionary comment, but Milstein concedes nothing. He gets the last word, which seems very important to him.  

He is the guy who won't be ignored, grimly holding on while now and then offering a humor-free chuckle. In this case he is clearly prepared to pay the developer not to develop, all for the sake of rescuing a group of residents from entrepreneurship.  

CASE OF THE MISSING CHASUBLE: Fr. John at St. Edmund on Friday 7/21/06 said mass in alb and stole, as if he were blessing a new car or baby. What's going on here? Did the sacristan cop the chasuble, the overgarment (vestment) -- whether flowing Gothic or sandwich-board Roman, once de rigeur but maybe now gone the way of head-covered female worshipers and the altar rail? I doubt that. So why did Fr. John do the honors this day without one?


Revolution at NYT

NY Times goes to smaller page size, will tighten editing.  Horrors!

"It's an insult to the people doing substance here," an unnamed Timesperson tells the [NY] Observer. Restaurant critic Frank Bruni [however,] isn't alarmed by a smaller Times. "Do you succeed in reading 95 percent of the paper every day? It suggests to me that we could lose 5 percent and probably live."

Let’s hear it for Bruni.  Less space for the in-print bloviators, please, and this goes for the well-meaning straight-news writers too.  Write tight!

They should all bone up on their Strunk & White.


Crossing-over talk

Get this: Bobbie Steele is talking Petraica.

Steele refused to predict that Todd Stroger would be slated. But she said a lot of Democrats are upset at the prospect that he will be the candidate and those people are prepared to vote for Republican Tony Peraica, a county commissioner from Riverside.

"A lot of people are saying that they're going to cross over," Steele said.

Steele also refused to say whether she would support Todd Stroger in November if he were slated. "I will support ... the candidate that I feel is best. And I'm not saying who it is," Steele said.

[Rep. Danny] Davis said today that he would support Todd Stroger if the younger Stroger wins the party's support for the November election.


Ald. Todd Stroger (8th), John Stroger’s son, is expected to be named the nominee by Democratic committeemen Tuesday. However, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis also is pushing for the nomination.

Danny’s going for broke?


Petraica hops on it

Here’s the Democrat-Stroger business in a nutshell, in today’s S-T:

Enough is Enough... It's Time for Reform

"Here's the most brazen and outrageous thing about the powerbrokers who are orchestrating the coronation of Ald. Todd Stroger to his father's seat as Cook County Board president: They're not even pretending they have the public's interest at heart. Instead, it's all about quid pro quos, tit-for-tats and raw me-first politics, without even an insincere wink at good government. They are arrogant and unafraid, because they think the voters can't or won't do anything to stop them. When will voters decide enough is enough?"
--Chicago Sun-Times, 7/16/06

And yes, that’s Tony Petraica’s picture.  Smart money is on T. Stroger, I hear, but his press releases give way to no man.


Dumb not mean

In the middle of a speech at American Thinker by a Marine general is this simple statement that tends to absolve Mainstream Media of a charge of disloyalty but convicts them of being newspeople trying to sell papers and draw viewers:

In Iraq, the media talks about the casualties. They seldom report the successes. I don’t think that this is intentional. It is just more difficult to quantify progress and reduce it to a sound bite.

He is Major General Michael Lehnert, who heads California bases, talking to civilians about how to view the military.  Good stuff.


Chicago lost in shuffle

Dennis Byrne explains it all to GW Bush.  In today’s RealPolitics.com, he has “Save Patrick Fitzgerald,” in which he notes this man’s recognition factor nationally as in the Plame Leak investigation and World Trade Center cases (the first one, when we luxuriated in the criminal-case phase of our invasion by Islamo-Fascists) but statewide as putter-away of George Ryan, Mayordaley II apparatchiks, and others. 

It’s the second venue that Byrne wants to tell GW about, especially since he seemed surprised at a Chi reporter’s question, Was he going to reappoint Prosecutor Patrick?  The man is not being apprised of our state and local situation and instead goes local with Daley at his birthday dinner.  He should go local with people disliked or at least not recommended by Kjellander, the Illinois fixer whom Rove seems to consider very important.  More than Prosecutor Patrick, whom Byrne would like to see saved.

This stuff from Byrne goes a bit of the way to filling a huge gap in right field national blogospheric coverage where Chicago should be.  We do not get our fair share of same.  The big blogging guys rarely cite Chi Trib or Sun-Times.  Left or right, it’s the coasts, stupid, when it comes to keeping us informed.  Face it, Chicagoans, Cook Countians, Collar Countians, we are generally dissed by bloggers nationally.  RealPolitics. com seeks to repair the omission with Byrne’s stuff.


Par for the course

The top three items, loaded with links, for Romenesko today — here and here and here — are about defense of NYTimes as not traitorous even though loose of lips that sink ships.  It is circle-the-wagons time for the mediacrats.

Skinner skins Marin

Cal Skinner takes Carol Marin down several pegs in his McHenry County Blog.  He zeroes in on her Sun-Times column yesterday, in which she “explain[ed] why she wanted Mayor Richard Daley’s patronage chief Robert Sorich and his fellow defendants to be found not guilty,” namely “that they weren’t close enough to Daley.” 

Skinner has Marin demonstrating a tin ear for (a) prosecutorial strategy, for which see Kass here and previously, and, explicitly, (b) recent history of N. Ill. prosecuting — zilch under Clinton, gangbusters under Bush-Sen. Peter Fitzgerald-U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald:

Nine years ago, President Bill Clinton’s then-U.S. Attorney and the Daley administration completely ignored the blatant violations of the anti-patronage Shakman Decree, not to mention the accompanying fraud that can’t have been very different from what was proved in the Sorich trial.

The man U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald’s picked for U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, has not had blinders on.

That, Carol Marin, is the story.

Marin may not be as, ah, insensitive, as Skinner implies, but we may wonder about her self-absorption in recounting her mad dash to the court house to hear the Sorich trial results:

[F]our of us ran out of the newsroom, piled into a cab and flew to the Dirksen Federal Building.

This “Carol goes to work” stuff wears thin. 

And in her wondering if more “steely stares” await her from prosecutors.  If possible, she should discount such stuff as easily as Ozzie Guillen discounts questions from a sensitivity counselor.

She had questioned prosecutorial “conduct and proportionality” in the case.  No wonder they stared.  The last time my conduct and proportionality were questioned, I not only stared but grimaced — as threateningly as I could, unfortunately eliciting only grins from the questioners.  No matter.  The verdict was in, but Marin couldn’t let go her earlier arguments.

As for prosecutors, they got a “mixed verdict” and issued a “Mission Accomplished” statement at a p.c.  Oh, Carol knows how to hurt a prosecutor.  That M.A. stuff, we know where that comes from, a bumper sticker sold by moveon.org.  She couldn’t resist it.  Nor could she resist a closing tribute to herself:

I've spent a lot of years as a reporter doing my own small part to expose the corruption and cronyism that have had a chokehold on this city. I think it's shameful and have said so.  [Go girl!]

If Sorich and the others had been acquitted, I would not have been in a bar in Bridgeport toasting their victory.  [Go again!]

But when the government goes after corruption by squeezing the middle while affirming, even praising people closer to the top of the patronage pyramid, then I protest.

She would not pursue these prosecutors’ strategy, that is.  Oh.


Hand-wringing is their specialty

Most in the mainstream media would rather tout the faults of American capitalism than sing its praises

says Lawrence Kudlow in his story “The big-bang story of U.S. private business,” which he says is not reported in the newspapers.  No, it isn’t, as far as I can see.  Take Chi Trib, with its recent account of POVERTY IN THE SUBURBS and other horrendous things that happen under capitalism.

Kudlow asks:

Did you know that just over the past 11 quarters, dating back to the June 2003 Bush tax cuts, America has increased the size of its entire economy by 20 percent? In less than three years, the U.S. economic pie has expanded by $2.2 trillion, an output add-on that is roughly the same size as the total Chinese economy, and much larger than the total economic size of nations like India, Mexico, Ireland and Belgium.

Funny, I did not know that.  Maybe this morning’s Trib, which was not delivered as usual, has it in hard copy, but I doubt it.


Michael of The Reader

Michael Miner this week on the Trib-LATimes deal veering now towards dissolution and even a sort of catastrophe is the sort of thing Miner has been doing in Chicago Reader for a long time.  It’s about time he was crowned king of Chicago media critics.  Consider it done by this come-lately, who would say this, he swears, even if Miner had not given him an excellent write-up some time back for his (my) pre-blog Blithe Spirit.

That write-up, by the way, made its way to the Midwest Jesuit archives in St. Louis, the later Brother Mike Grace, SJ, who was at Loyola U. library for many years, told me.  It had covered my Jesuit experience as encouraging, even demanding, writing down one’s great and near-great thoughts.  Mike Grace sent it on to St. Louis. 


What did the Times know and when did it know it?

The New York Times undertook to blow what it called, in its headline, the "secret" international terrorist financing tracking program, for reasons that it never has been able to explain. Initially, there was no doubt about the fact that the Times was exposing a secret; reporter Eric Lichtblau used that word to describe the SWIFT program something like twelve times in the body of the Times' article. But when the Times unexpectedly found itself under heavy criticism for damaging national security, it took the nearest port in a storm, and claimed that the SWIFT program wasn't a secret after all. Everyone knew about it! Which, of course, left people scratching their heads over the story's page one, above the fold placement.

And there’s more on this matter here, but you don’t find it at Romenesko: Your daily fix of media industry news, commentary, and memos, where the perspective — Mainstream gossip and industry developments — does not allow it.

Part of what you will find is this from Eric Lichtblau, written last November to give an idea of just how secret it was — impenetrable until NYT told about it:

[The administration] is now developing a program to gain access to and track potentially hundreds of millions of international bank transfers into the United States.

But experts in the field say the results have been spotty, with few clear dents in Al Qaeda's ability to move money and finance terrorist attacks.

Few clear dents, eh?  


While you’re considering this matter, see what happened in similar circumstances long ago, thanks again to NY Times!


Beavers an original

Second or third reading of the remarkable “poop butt” comment by Ald. Wm. Beavers, who says he speaks for the Stroger family or camp, when he alluded to county clerk David Orr, who has elections as his official concern, leads to noting his "What does he [Orr] care?" comment.  This was Beavers exposing himself as having not the slightest idea of the abstraction known as the rule of law. 

If Orr is not directly involved in the fight for money and power at the county board, Beavers seems to say, then why is he saying anything?  It goes with an earlier statement on TV by Beavers, for which I cannot find a link, “We can do anything we want” — this as to whether they keep the missing Stroger on or off the ballot, in or out of office, and put son Todd Stroger on or in. 

It’s as if he’s utterly missing the elementary powers of abstraction that divide material self-interest from respect for law or even propriety.  He’s not the only one, to be sure, but he’s the clearest on the point.


Sperm matters

Tom Roeser does this alderman up very nicely in his blog item about “the lucky sperm club” of public office heirs:

The fastidious, preening Edward, his white hair in a blow-dry pompadour, his chiseled face held high at a jaunty angle, wearing a flowing $150 green tie from Stuart’s on Michigan avenue, acts as to the manor born as he strides up to the altar in a $3,000 suit at St. Peter’s each noon in Lent to receive the sacrament to which he believes he is thoroughly entitled as a Burke.

Alderman Eddie, a.k.a. Mother Burke, our Carrie Nation of the dining room table, is the main character of several whom Roeser names to go with our incipient latest of the breed, Young Stroger. 


Poop scoops

Claypool making noises:

Commissioner Forrest Claypool, who lost the Democratic primary to John Stroger, said letting ward bosses decide who's [on] the ballot shows "a remarkable, almost breathtaking contempt for the voters and taxpayers of Cook County."

Beavers too:

Asked Monday, [Ald.] Beavers quickly denied there was anything misleading, saying "oh, hell no," before calling Orr a "little poop butt."

"What does he care?" he asked.


Orr said his office still hasn't received a signed and notarized "withdrawal of candidacy" form needed to remove Stroger's name from the ballot.

That's adding confusion to a situation that has been confusing from the start, causing Orr to call it all "very embarrassing" and "bush-league political stuff."

And Danny our boy, beloved of some goo-goo libs for no apparent reason:

Davis said he's fighting "the wheeling and dealing" the Stroger camp has been engaged in since John Stroger suffered the stroke.


Lisa v. Blago a no-go

This is almost at the end of the Sun-Times story about feds investigating Blago and friends as in letter to AG Lisa which she released, we assume partly to cover self for not continuing to pursue them with her own investigation.  Such as it was, we are tempted to say:

The release of the letter was not viewed as a positive development within the U.S. attorney's office. While publicizing an investigation can bring potential witnesses forward, it can prompt people to shred documents, get lawyers and get their stories straight before investigators visit them.

Maybe this should have gone higher in the story?