They say what people are thinking

“Why is there a market for [right-wing radio talk shows]?” Hugh Hewitt asked just-retired Wash Post writer Thomas Edsall, who responded:

Because the Democratic Party and liberals have, through a lot of whatever you want to call it, politically correct and other values and programs, made themselves highly vulnerable to criticism that is difficult to voice in the workroom, because it's kind of verboten. But on talk radio, you can say a lot of things that you think and feel,” said Edsall.

That otherwise you can’t say in lots of places.

Scoping the 'hood

Regina Robinson spends “one fine day” in the neighborhood of my boyhood, Austin & Madison, which is not far from where I’m still living.  She finds a nail shop, an eatery (on Chicago Ave.), and Laurys Bakery, the last of which was Schallenmuller’s in the ‘40s.  At Laurys — why isn’t it Laury’s? — she finds

sweet potato squares, cake by the slice, fruit-filled pastries, muffins and whole cakes . . . special-occasion cakes [and] sugar cookies

like her mother used to make.  At Schallenmuller’s — it’s on Madison just east of Austin, north side of street, a block from St. Catherine’s — it was coffee cakes that this guy remembers, thin ones with gooey melted sugar and pecans, the cakes themselves almost brittle.  Bismarcks too, with jelly inside.

Robinson has gone down Austin for 20–plus years, she says.  Assuming she’s black, that’s easy to believe.  Racial change was near-ancient history by then.  We (white) moved a few blocks north and one block west of Austin & Madison in 1971, when it was in full swing. 

Hugh, my student at Ignatius in the mid-60s, told me his father and uncles, all Pullman car porters with a taste for Danish, drove many blocks west of their South Side neighborhood to find a bakery that suited them.  Hugh watched me like a hawk, he told me, as I discussed race relations in class and later caught bricks thrown in Martin Luther King’s direction on a march in Marquette Park — thrown maybe by white students of mine also from Ignatius, who were part of the taunting crowd and gave me a wave as I walked by.

That’s a little bit of Chicago history for you, ripped partly from the pages of Saturday Tempo Metromix Planner’s Weekend, Chicagoland’s Best Guide to Leisure and Entertainment.


A little global sense

Chi Trib calls global warming the “greenhouse gas phenomenon that most scientists believe has altered climates across much of the . . . world,” (italics added) thus achieving a sort of balance on the issue.  It’s far better than Sun-Times’s Jim Ritter’s reference to what “scientists,” not most or many, hold in regard to the nature of gayness — “Scientists have rejected earlier notions that homosexuality is a mental illness.”

Furthermore, Trib’s Howard Witt says, “The signs of warming in the Arctic are not merely anecdotal,” which is to head off at the pass the complaint about newspaper coverage of trends that sloppily finds men and women on the street with mostly sad tales that support the trend.  Witt quotes NASA researchers.

“Experts said” rears its ugly head, however, with regard to ice-recessive winters.  A NASA researcher is promptly quoted: how about “one of these experts” with regard to her?  And a “many experts” would do nicely also.  It’s a matter of the reader feeling snookered or not, or subtly urged to think (illogically) this way.

But I tell you, all is forgiven with three paragraphs quoting the opposition, an MIT man who recognizes warming data but considers it natural and not man-made. 

"The Earth is always warming or cooling. Industrial output has nothing to do with global warming. There is no evidence so far that we've gotten beyond natural warming."

In this the reader has the wherewithal to think about the matter, rather than head for the hills or valleys or basement with the usual “Warming is coming!  Warming is coming!”

Rebuttal of the dissident is prompt, by a man “who reviewed 928 scientific papers about climate change published between 1993 and 2003” and found them to say the enemy is us.  Here might be a good point to note the objection that far more funding is available for people who find that than for those who don’t. 

But I am so pleased with Witt’s relatively concise (1100 words) and clean-copy account that I intend to pass over that objection in silence.  Yes!  Let no man say I cheated, either! 

However, I definitely could have done without the village elder’s opinion-as-closer in the matter.  Where does he stand on the nature-vs.-manmade argument anyhow?


Agile arguing

Sun-Times woman Mary Mitchell apparently sees no connection between test scores and performance:

If my house catches on fire, I'm not going to worry about how high the firefighter scored when he or she applied for the job.

In which case she should call for abolition of testing entirely.

What she cares about is that the firefighter

had the capability to apply for the job, the character to get through the training needed to be on the job, and the courage required to do the job. After all, when it comes to training to be a firefighter, aren't those the things that matter the most?

“Capability to apply”?  What’s that?  It’s being able to find your way to the fire dept. HQ and sign your name.  As for character and courage, who can cavil?  But can these virtues coexist with incompetence?  If so, why not?

Moreover, she sees “good news” in the 83% passing rate on the latest exam because it means “a larger pool of applicants to draw from.”  But if there were no exam, there would be an even larger pool.  Is she on to something here?

Down would go literacy requirements and ability to figure things out, up would go “agility testing,” etc.

Softly flows the Clinton coverage

Soft, soft the lede in Mark Silva’s front page Chi Trib story about Bill Clinton:

Say this much for Bill Clinton. He doesn't walk quietly.

How nice.  Quietly flows the darn puff piece.

Mr. November?  Democrats count on Clinton for late-inning campaign magic

is the head. 

His white-hot, finger-wagging interview on "Fox News Sunday"--filled with accusations about conservative bias and Bush administration blunders--has thrust Clinton into the midterm election campaign just as the Republicans appeared to be erasing some healthy Democratic advantages.

is to put a Democrat spin on it, to say the least, buying into the best light in which Clinton’s outburst can be put.

All in all, it’s a clear-cut thumbsucker, easy-going and casual, to which faithful readers will respond: Where the “analysis” tag?  Wash bureau chief Tackett gets it, doesn’t his colleague/underling Silva deserve it for his soft, soft, shadow of those old-time Trib page-one cartoons?



To Times Lit Supplement

It's deucedly clever how Tim Mackintosh Smith injects his anti-Americanisms into his review of Geoffrey Nash's From Empire to Orient in the 9/15/06 TLS: once in a parenthesis telling of his and another Arabist's rejection of proposals to rat on their Arab friends, again in a closing urging of Britishers to "listen to [their] own troublemakers, to people like George Galloway."

The first represents refusal to supply dreadfully needed help in combating terrorism. The second is an endorsement of a fevered and feverish opponent of all things American in the Middle East.


Clinton v. Bin Laden

* Wag the dog? Clinton has it all wrong, as Jake Tapper has it on the ABC News blog Political Punch. After Clinton ordered attacks on Bin Laden in 1998, most Republicans supported him:

- "I think the president did exactly the right thing," said House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said.

- Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) called the attacks "appropriate and just," and House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) said "the American people stand united in the face of terrorism."

- Wall St. Journal's Paul Gigot called any Wag the Dog accusations "frivolous."

- "Whatever one thinks of Bill Clinton, surely Sandy Berger and Bill Cohen would not take part in any wag-the-dog scenario. Republicans who suggest otherwise--including, to our astonishment and his embarrassment, the usually sober Sen. Dan Coats (R., Ind.)--should be ashamed of themselves. President Clinton should instead be commended for finally responding appropriately to a terrorist attack," wrote National Review.

On the other hand:

- DATELINE NBC devoted a December 1999 piece directly using clips from the film to question the basis for the bombing.

And Frank Bruni of the New York Times devoted A WHOLE STORY TO THE NOTION.

What do you think of that?

See also American Thinker.


Mark B. says no to Stroger, Hyde is on mark, etc.

* Mark Brown to the fore with his Petraica endorsement plus Abdon Pallasch hard hitting (again) on county corruption are notable, especially this from Brown:

- ". . . the notion that you would bring in a man's son to reform his father's government is ridiculous, especially after the son has been installed in this position by his father's political friends."

- “I don't care what Todd Stroger says about his intentions. He's not going to make fundamental changes in county government.”

- “I never tried to tell you this was an easy choice.”

For Dems, that is.

* Henry Hyde has it succinctly: "[T]he press seems more involved in issues rather than standing back and being reportorial."

* Chi Trib scores again! Polygamy in Utah! Front page exclusive! How many readers were dying to hear of it!

* St. Edmund church bulletin announces Vigil for Life Saturday 10/7, when after noon mass at Our Lady of Pompeii, 1224 W. Lexington, a prayer procession will head for the abortion clinic at 659 W. Wash. Suspicion here is that no other parish bulletin in OP has this announcement, would be glad to be proven wrong.


Sox on air

[A few clarifying words are added below in boldface.]

Second City never looks so second as when Sox games are broadcast. And it’s never so obvious, by contrast, as when the Fox or ESPN (both national) ‘casters are doing a game. They keep the air alive with solid info, not cracker-barrel speculation, about players and the seasons they are having and where we had dinner last night. Comcast is no Fox, of course, and the technical aspects also make a big difference. I don’t aim a camera, but I do know when I’m being bored by the same shots time and again, sans movement, sans teeth (bite), sans everything but the same old where-the-pitch-goes and (after the hit) where the pitches went, all of which goes with interminable, repetitive discussion of what this pitch does and that.

The Fox play-by-play man is a professional announcer who knows baseball, vs. an amateur-once-a-player who does the cracker barrel with the best of them. Or the bar or the team bus, whatever. The Sox radio man, Farmer, once in a tight spot said, “There’s the pitch!” and there went the pitch, but he said nothing, so disappointed was he at what came of it. They get cranky when Sox lose, TV man Harrelson drawling out his disappointment — hey, Red Barber had an accent, but it didn’t matter — and Farmer removing even more affect than usual from his deadening voice. He makes Bob Elson sound lively. And his cohort Singleton has his dumb jokes. Yuck!

How long, how long, O Sox fans, will you endure the shamless huckstering of your favorite players, the excuses — it’s hard to put down a bunt, so much do you expose your body and head to a pitch, or it’s hard to keep playing with injuries and in such a long season — and the all-around root-a-toot-tooting for “us,” meaning the Sox? You’ll endure it as long as Reinsdorf the businessman, and a very good one, thinks that’s what we want. And the heck of it is, maybe most of us do.

Black magic

What to make of this from Maywood, one ‘burb west of Oak Park: The village manager, who, by the way, is white, told staff behind closed doors of racially offensive lyrics he had put a stop to at a Latino-oriented festival, using the exact words by which he was offended.  Shit hit fan, and he and other “officials” have to undergo sensitivity training, because he did not use a euphemism or code word for whatever the lyrics were. 

He didn’t use the words on his own account but quoted them, as the pope quoted the late-medieval king engaged in dialogue with an emir.  It’s as if the manager hit someone in the face, even to use the word.  This is primitive.  The word is a totem.  Such response brings us back to far before the Enlightenment, even beyond Western understanding period, to a land of magic and superstition.  For whom should sensitivity training be prescribed — or desensitivity training?  An executive trying to help people or those who go bananas at the use of a given word?


Govt. gone wild

Startling viewpoint:

Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt's America, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler's Germany, 1933-1939. By Wolfgang Schivelbusch. Metropolitan Books, 2006. 242 pgs.

Critics of Roosevelt's New Deal often liken it to fascism. Roosevelt's numerous defenders dismiss this charge as reactionary propaganda; but as Wolfgang Schivelbusch makes clear, it is perfectly true. Moreover, it was recognized to be true during the 1930s, by the New Deal's supporters as well as its opponents.

. . . .

Read more here


Doug and Charley losing me

How can we follow Sun-Times critic Doug Elfman’s lead on a new show he promotes after he said “Path to 9/11” was dull?  Henceforward, his judgment is suspect.  (I.e., we are suspicious.)  That’s the problem with bias: it damages credibility and loses readers.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh makes an extended argument today, running and re-running Rep. Charley Rangel’s cautious, polite criticism of Chavez’ anti-Bush rant and running and re-running Rangel’s anti-Bush rant a year ago for the black congressional caucus.  The argument is that Chavez took his cue from Democrats, and people will get that, and Rangel has to stem the damage somehow.



Rebutting S-T poll showing Baby Todd way ahead in the Cook County board presidency race, the Peraica campaign asks whether the "'pollster' surveyed Cook County, Minnesota, rather than Cook County, Illinois." 
What the man does NOT say is that the Minnesota Cook has a (not) very strange referendum in the works to change its name if Baby Todd wins. 
How do I know that?  I just know, that's all.  Having the only vote that counts on this blog, I can do anything I want.  Take that, Ald. Beaver!


Food for soul & body


1. Man behind me at mass sang:

* "To-ma-hah-row" and "Ah-hah-men," twice inserting "hah," which is not part of the liturgy.

* "Ho-ho-holy Lord," inserting "ho" which is not part of the liturgy either.

* "Have mercy ah-hahn us," inserting "hahn," which is also not part of the liturgy.

2. Fr. L. substituted "God" for "father" at a key point in mass, free-lancing -- apparently because he prefers "inclusive language" and does not approve of God as father. It happens at the close of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where since 1975 the church's powers that be have ordained this:

Through him,

with him,

and in him,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all glory and honor is yours,

almighty Father, for ever and ever. [Italics added]

I don't like the idea of Fr. L. free-lancing in the first place (not fair), and I like it even less that he does so without explaining it every darn time. Truth in packaging and all that.

DIDN'T MEAN TO PRY: I called Muldoon's Irish American Eatery in Wheaton, asked the young woman, "What are your hours tomorrow?"

"I don't have any," she replied. "I'm not working tomorrow."

I explained that I had the restaurant in mind. She apologized and after asking around told me 11 a.m. to midnight, but bar would stay open later than that.

AFRAID OF "HIS"?: "With Commissioner Patrick Doolin's announcement that he is running for the office of mayor of Forest Park next year, the election period is officially open. . . . Political newcomer John Plepel is the only other villager to announce their candidacy so far," says Dave Goetz in the Forest Park Review.

Their candidacy? How many John Piepels are there?

Goetz is eloquent nonetheless with:

God help our country if there exists a more corrupt county than our own Cook County. I guess we're supposed to believe that the son that almost no one had ever heard of is qualified to sit at the helm of a $3 billion budget. Try again. I don't know much about Peraica except that he isn't a Cook County Democrat. That's enough for me this year.

Tell it, brother.

Pope speaks

What do we make of this from the Pope, except that you have to head off restless natives at the pass.  They go wild sometimes.  On the other hand, being "deeply sorry" you offended someone is not saying you were wrong, just that their taking offense is not what you had in mind. 

On the other hand, he said it’s not his opinion that some of Muhammed’s are "evil and inhuman."  He was inviting them to “frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect,” to which we must say, Lotsa luck.

He could take a tip from the Australians, as below

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.

"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.

"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.”

On yet another hand, they burn churches, don’t they?  And shoot nuns.  And there are neither papal terrorists nor missiles nor surveillance drones. 

"You either have to say this 'I'm sorry' in a proper way or not say it at all,” complained the Turkish state minister.  “Are you sorry for saying such a thing or because of its consequences?"

If he would just grovel.

Aussies get it

Instapundit has this about Australian government putting it to imams in excellent fashion.  Down under they have the right idea:

AUSTRALIA'S Muslim leaders have been "read the riot act" over the need to denounce any links between Islam and terrorism. The Howard Government's multicultural spokesman, Andrew Robb, yesterday told an audience of 100 imams who address Australia's mosques that these were tough times requiring great personal resolve.

Mr Robb also called on them to shun a victim mentality that branded any criticism as discrimination.

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.

"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.

"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.

"Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia."

It’s from the Herald Sun, “Australia’s biggest-selling daily newspaper.”



Benedict on hot seat

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended Benedict's comments, saying the pope intended only to promote dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

``What Benedict XVI emphasized was a decisive and uncompromising renunciation of all forms of violence in the name of religion," Merkel told the newspaper Bild.

But she's in the minority, in fact, is the only supporter of Benedict at this time, to judge by a Boston Globe summary.

Powered by Zoundry


They will win?

Wow.  And this guy had a place of honor at the 2004 Dem convention.


Peraica has a hot issue

He's demanding investigation of beating of 77-year old man by County Security Guards across the street from Stroger Hospital.  He cites Fox news report, wants:
The identification of the security guard, his suspension pending independent investigation, dismissal of charges pending against the beaten man also pending independent investigation, return of cell phone of county employee who videotaped the incident on her phone subsequently confiscated by police,
According to a Fox report [nowhere linked], the man was approached by the guard, who asked "if he was a Mexican" and if he "was legal" and was then removed from his car and beaten as he reached for his wallet.
He is hospitalized at Stroger hospital with chest pains and puncture wounds.


Fw: Show them you won't stand for it

Something big there is that may have been reported (highlighted) already: Mayordaley II has the unions mad at him!  Once upon a time, they organized, now they do street theater.  Email from CFL, in part:
..............Subject: Show them you won't stand for it


Dear -- , 


Today three separate groups held three events, and tomorrow features a whole day of activity by different groups.  Join Living Wage supporters for any or all of these as we keep the energy high all day long!  

5am - Sunrise Prayer Service outside City Hall 

8am - Rally at City Hall, 2nd Floor 

10am - City Council Meeting Starts 

11:30am - Lunchtime Rally, 2nd Floor City Hall 

***Press Conference immediately after the override vote*** 

4:30 pm - After work action at the Thompson Center plaza across from City Hall 


Mayor Daley and a few flip-floppers are going to try and steal our living wage tomorrow, but they're going to have a hard time explaining themselves in the February elections. Let's keep the energy high all day so they know we aren't going to take it!



Move to the suburbs, live longer . . .

. . . is the web site head, but hard-copy afficionados find "Does where you live affect how long you live?"   Either way, the story has a lot to live down for the half-way alert reader.  The lede is no help: Jim Ritter has "Harvard researchers . . . reporting huge and growing gaps in life expectancies throughout the United States.  "Asian-American females in Bergen County, N.J." and "Native American males in six South Dakota counties" are the long and short of it.  Are we supposed to think that all things being equal, Bergen County  is more salubrious than S. Dakota's Six?
Counties "start the best" and "just keep getting better," says one of the Harvard-ites.  What is a county anyway?  Have you ever met one?  Ah, but in the 6th graf, we find males and females — you've met them, I'm sure — average 72 in expectancy in Cook County (males), which once was considered pretty good, even by some of us who by that measure are on borrowed time.  Heck, it's been borrowed since Day One: This night do they require thy soul of thee, said God in Luke, calling the man a fool who didn't know that, and if God thinks he's a fool, so do I. 
But 72 and a few months is lowest in Chi area, DuPage County females are tops at 81.5.  Move that sick guy to DuPage and give him an operation: it will add years.  How can we not do that?  Finally, in the 8th graf (of 13), we get to some sort of honest to God cause and effect:
Life expectancy gaps are due in large part to varying death rates [ah-hah] in young and middle-age adults from cancer and chronic diseases of the heart, lungs and liver, [researcher] Murray said.
The disparities are due in part to inequitable health care. For example, 47 million people in the United States -- nearly 16 percent -- don't have health insurance.  [Moving to DuPage or Bergen won't get you more, I don't think.  You have to buy it.]
But the main reasons for the gaps are related to risk factors for premature death. In order of importance, these risk factors are smoking, alcohol abuse, obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, low fruit and vegetable consumption and physical inactivity, Murray said.
Wait a minute.  If I live in Cook but don't smoke or drink or get fat or have high b.p and cholesterol and eat lots of fruit and vegetables and exercise a lot, I might live as long as the woman of whatever ethnicity in Wheaton or the Asian woman in Bergen?  Very good.  I feel better already.
As for Native Americans, it's not South Dakota that's the problem, but "diabetes and alcohol-related deaths from traffic accidents and cirrhosis of the liver [that] account for much of the low life expectancies" among them.  This is good news for Native American men in the Six Counties who do not have to move to increase their expectancies.
O.K., enough already.  You get my sarcastic point.  Won't matter anyhow, because the story had to be sold, and to announce as news that if you live right, you live longer would merit no headline at all, because it wouldn't be news at all, which may be news to Harvard researchers plugging away at their task but should not be to S-T editors and headline writers.  Did I say it's on page three, by the way, or that "Move to the suburbs, live longer" is a page one reefer head?  I didn't?  Well now I did.

The good and the bad of it.

The good news is that Chi Trib's Wash bureau chief, oddly not identified as such except in the "contact" part of the web site, has his analysis, "Brief Moment of Unity Lost," etc.  about partisanship in Washington (amazing!) on page 15, not page 1.  The bad news is it's not yet on the op-ed page (but getting there: we can only hope).

Case of the shocked mugger

S-T ran an AP story the other day about a 57-year-old wheelchair-rider in Harlem who nailed the aggressor.  Wondering how often handgun ownership leads to such an admirable conclusion, vs. the times we read more about when guns shoot people by accident, I found a blog that keeps track of self-defending use, "Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog: Where Clayton Cramer and Pete Drum keep track of civilians using guns in self-defense."  In it I found another version of the Harlem self-defense story from Newsday that has the woman on a "motorized scooter" and offers considerably more detail than S-T/AP had:
Margaret Johnson, a 57-year-old licensed gun owner, was looking to fire her weapon, but it was supposed to be at a firing range, police said.

She left her home with plans to go to the range. Instead, she was confronted from behind by Deron Johnson, no relation, police said.
The suspect [perp?] has nine previous arrests, police said. State records show he served eight years in prison for a drug conviction and was released in February 2003.
One of life's losers ran athwart one of its winners.

Barzun to Bagehot to Butler

"It is absolutely the whole business of a moral agent to conform" oneself to "conscience," i.e., to act in accordance with "the constitution of man," says 18th-century Christianity defender Bishop Joseph Butler, per Walter Bagehot in one of his many magazine reviews in mid-19th century, contained in his Collected Works.  Bagehot (say "badge-it") has been a wonderful find for me, for which I'm indebted to the also-wonderful French-American scholar Jacques Barzun, who held forth at Columbia U. for many years and wrote From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present, published in 2000.  Barzun is still alive and receiving awards at 98!  He once observed, "He who wants to understand America better learn baseball."  Understanding the White Sox is another matter.

Minimum Wage Socialism

Cato has the big-box business down nicely here.  As soon as you have government setting wages, you have that old-time socialism, (though only) part-ownership of means of production.  That is, he who decides wages is making an owner's decision.  It goes for big stores in Chi -- thank you, Mayordaley II -- and for big and little ones throughout the land.

Nike and 9/11 - How 9/11 hurt Islamism

See Daniel Pipes here on how 9/11 hurt the cause of Islamism, including the CAIR approach to extortion -- reminiscent of Rev. Jesse and his Operation Shakedown, which wisely, Pipes would argue, never went terroristic.


Morning after

The morning-after pill case can keep rolling.  Springfield-based U.S. Judge Jeanne Scott refused to throw it out, per an AP story, “Federal Judge Rejects Dismissal,” etc. that Chi Trib helpfully has on its web site but that appears not to have run in hard copy.  That’s a pity, since it’s a hot issue in some circles.

In the suit seven pharmacists challenge Gov Blago’s edict that they have to sell the pill, to which they object on religious grounds, claiming violation of religious freedom.  Five of the seven lost their jobs at Walgreen stores when they refused to sign a promise to sell it.

The opinion’s a 28–pager.  The state defendants said the ruling had nothing to do with religious belief but was solely to provide contraception to all.

Looking since '98

It took Boston College that long to find a black teacher for this spot reserved for a black. Either BC is too fussy or the pickin's are slim.

Old dogs learn poorly

The Instapundit man, Glenn Reynolds, and Twin Cities’ James Lilek both note that if Clinton et al. reacted poorly to Islamic threat, so did most people; so give them slack.  What’s happened since 9/11 is what separates men and women from boys and girls is this line of reasoning.  But, says Power Line,

there is a huge problem with this magnanimous approach. The Democrats are, today, trying to dismantle our efforts to fight the terrorists. They are trying to block the NSA from intercepting terrorists' communications; they are trying to force our armed forces to treat captured terrorists with the same deference they would accord to a member of our own services; and they are trying to block the confirmation of John Bolton as U.N Ambassador so that he can be replaced with someone who will offer meaningless platitudes instead of aggressive advocacy of American interests.

What the Democrats are trying to do is return to the hunker-down and hope for the best days of the Clinton administration. They are trying to sell the American people on the absurd proposition that the terrorist threat we face today is mostly George Bush's fault, and that if we only abandon his tough approach to national security, everything will be fine.

That is why I think it is critically important that the American people not be deceived about how we got to the pass we arrived at on September 11, 2001; and that is why, I think, the Democrats are so hysterical about The Path to 9/11.

They give every appearance, in other words, of being up to their old tricks.


Fire him!

Beats me how Sun-Timesman Elfman found “The Path to 9/11” boring. As the longtime friend asked the Democrat turned Republican, how could he? The thing kept this viewer glued to seat except for peeing time. All that ice water, you know. In fact, I’d say the National Association of TV Critics (NATC) should strip him of his credentials. He either has no concept of what’s boring or wanted to keep people from watching this because it makes Clinton and his people look bad, which it does.


Show it, don't blow it

Reader M. tells all:

I just phoned the local ABC-TV affiliate in Chicago (after e-mailing to the network), and the lovely African-American lady logging the phone calls said it was "refreshing" to get ONE who wanted the "Path to 9/11" to be shown!

I asked what the complaint was by the majority, and she said "They called it a pack of lies." She said she was going to watch it, and said she wanted to tell them, "Just change the channel if you don't like it!"

If Disney censors its property, for the Party NOT in power, it will show how dangerous the Libs will be the next time around if they get power.

Most Chicagoans are apparently sitting back thinking the network won't buckle, but I'm wondering. How disappointing for the producers if the guys in suits do a hatchet job on it. The new version: Bill Clinton ends up in mortal combat with Osama and actually SLAYS him!  A truly happy ending.



Elfman bored AND suspicious

Sun-Times critic Elfman “once sat in a car forever waiting for [his] mom to come out of a grocery store,” but that was nothing compared to the five hours he presumably spent watching "The Path to 9/11," set to run Sunday and Monday on Channel 7 in Chicago and nationwide on ABC. 

So what’s the problem?  If it’s so dull, why did 25,000 people write to compain?  That many people could be wrong.  Consider how many vote Democrat in Cook County alone.  But wrong enough to demand changes in or pulling of the show, which hasn’t aired yet?  The word must be out, not that it’s dull but that it’s very threatening to Democrat self-esteem.  Can Elfman feel threatened also?  To how many shows has he given zero stars?  Is this his all-time worst docudrama?  It’s tied anyhow, at least.

He’s on record before this as excusing pre-9/11 officials as “flawed people committing errors”?  Or is this his maiden foray into geopolitics?  Who does he think he is, Brad Pitt?  He did read a recent New Yorker article, anyhow.  Give him credit for researching the matter to that extent.  However, he might go beyond this effort, assuming he has time before his next deadline, and look at Power Line’s listing of what happened before 9/11 to deliver a sense of urgency even to flawed people.

It’s a partial listing of terrorist events as gotten from Wikipedia:

There is no doubt about the fact that the terrorist menace grew and became increasingly obvious during the Clinton administration. To note just a few highlights:

* January 25, 1993: Mir Aimal Kansi, a Pakistani, fired an AK-47 into cars waiting at a stoplight in front of the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia, killing two CIA employees.

That’s for starters.  Thirty-four incidents later, the Power Line list closes:

* October 12, 2000: AL Qaeda bombs USS Cole with explosive-laden speedboat, killing 17 US sailors and wounding 40, off the port coast of Aden, Yemen.

Between 1993 and 2000, everyone who was paying any attention knew that the threat from Islamic terrorism was grave and getting worse. The catastrophic losses that occurred on Septimeber 11, 2001, could just as easily have happened in 1993, when the first plot to destroy the World Trade Center was carried off successfully, but the terrorists had miscalculated the effect of their explosives, or in 1995, when the plot to destroy eleven American airplanes in flight was thwarted by counter-intelligence work in the Philippines. What did the Clinton administration do in response to this grave threat? Essentially nothing. Worse, Clinton tried to sweep the problem under the rug, lest it disrupt the surface calm and prosperity for which he was eager to claim credit.

However Path to 9/11 portrays the Clinton administration, it can be no worse than the reality.

Hand-held cameras aside (Elfman objects to their use in the film), can this be what makes Elfman a defender of the flawed?


Eat your heart out, Carey Orr

Chi Trib’s Michael Tackett’s main interest is how Bush is spinning things politically. He could not care less about actually defending us against terror attacks. He gets page one billing, “Behind disclosures, GOP political agenda,” so as to make his point, much as Carey Orr, Joseph Parrish, and other cartoonists had page one years ago under Col. McCormick. He’s today’s equivalent of a page-one political cartoon. Call it cartooning while on head trip.

Combine him with Mark Silva, whose story of yesterday’s late web edition is today’s hard-copy page one next to Tackett, verbatim. Look down and there it is. For Silva, and they are on the same page figuratively too, the emphasis is on torture. This is his main interest, with defense against terrorism a distant second. They are both perfect Democrats. In a Republican paper!

Some of Tackett:

“Surprising concessions” by Bush “about secret CIA prisons” are in his lede, as in the Silva head. Bush’s party is “limping” and “burdened." Bush “still has a sense of the bold,” but “the public now listens with a far more skeptical ear” than when he “grabbed a bullhorn at ground zero in New York” and rallied the nation. He remains “unapologetic in acknowledging that his administration had gone to extraordinary--some would say extralegal--lengths in the name of defending us.” (Italics added: get the “some,” which is standard for “he did it.”)

And he used such delicate language--"alternative set of procedures"--to describe decidedly indelicate techniques in forcing information out of suspects.

Such as what? “Such” means “very” here. Indelicate? Here lies irony, even sarcasm. Cartoon analysis.

“He did not identify” nations where we may continue to hold prisoners. No? Now why not?

He attempted to shift the focus [Trib won’t let him] from the fighting in Iraq, where there is little hope of any dramatic turnaround in the short term, to various faces of evil [Italics added: This on a news page? What next?] who finally will be put on trial for their roles in terrorist attacks against the U.S.

What’s more, “He gave those villains names and faces.” Those villains. Colorful, eh? Italics not necessary.

He’s going for legislation to facilitate his pursuit of evil faces and villains, “almost ensuring that those who opposed such tribunals could be branded as weak on terrorism.” Which they certainly are not, right?

With the upcoming [sic] commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks, the nation will be reliving that harrowing day--and the days following when Bush enjoyed the highest standing of his presidency. Having actual suspects held to account for their alleged roles in those attacks ensures in the short run that terrorism stays prominent in the news cycle.

Not if Chi Trib has anything to say about it, with Tackett leading the charge on p-1 with such (very) devastating analysis. “Niceties of the U.S. legal system” are not to obstruct punishment of “those people.” Yes, niceties. I said it’s a cartoon, but can’t he be a little more subtle?

It’s coming:

Cue the videotape of the suspect being walked before the cameras and open coverage of the case that the government has against him.

Over our dead front-page news analyses!

It apparently suits the White House now to acknowledge the existence of the CIA prisons. Before, the mere mention of the subject engendered a fury of recrimination from the administration.

Those furious recriminations get to you after a while. The strategy?

The White House, and by extension Republicans running for Congress in November, will talk about these matters, but on their terms [fancy that!], hoping to force Democrats into the kind of defensive crouch that has kept them in the minority.

Oh? That’s why? Tackett has analyzed the defensive crouch before, has he? Page one analysis, so that we could see clearly that the voting majority has not trusted them in these matters? When was that?

But Democrats signaled that they have seen this movie before [this “Farenheit 9/11” for Bushies] and are prepared.

"I understand his desire to talk about the war on terror and not Iraq," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Etc. Read it yourself. It’s a sort of love-letter snippet from one of Chi Trib Wash bureau’s sources with whom they feel really comfortable. Italics not added.


Bush speaks, Silva leaks it -- gradually

I am more convinced than ever that Chi Trib’s Mark Silva (and AP) and I do not see eye to eye on what’s news and what isn’t when I see his “Bush acknowledges secret CIA prisons” story in today’s late-edition web site.  He heard more of Bush’s talk today than I did, true; but I heard the part where he ran through the domino effect of getting this captured guy to talk, then this guy, then this, one leading to another, all of it leading to thwarted schemes to blow some of us up, including Silva and me.

President Bush, calling on Congress to quickly authorize trials of suspected terrorists with military tribunals, acknowledged for the first time today that the Central Intelligence Agency has subjected dozens to "tough" interrogation at secret prisons abroad and the remaining 14 have been transferred to Guantanamo Bay to await trial.

is his lede.  Lower down, he adds:

Bush, allowing that suspects have been subject to "tough" interrogation, maintains it has stopped short of torture.

He maintains it, yes.  But it’s hard to take him seriously when “Bush lied, thousands [millions?] died” is uppermost in your mind.  Especially when he’s giving “a dramatically staged speech.” 

Silva does get to the nub, finally, in the 9th and 10th (of 23) ‘grafs:

In his address, the president offered unusually explicit details about how the interrogation of Abu Zabudayah at first offered the CIA invaluable information about Al Qaeda. But Bush said only later—after Zabudayah was subjected to tougher CIA interrogation—did he provide information that ultimately led to the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other operatives and the foiling of plots.

"This program has helped us to take potential mass murderers off the streets before they were able to kill," Bush said. "Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that Al Qaeda and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland."

Oh my, that doesn’t capture it, I’m afraid.  Bush ticked off the list of interrogated in a delivery that was dramatic, whether staged that way or not.  Anyhow, this should have gone much farther up, and where’s the part about voice-recognition, with its obvious reference to NSA-intercepted calls? 

Sorry, Silva, there have been desk men who would have cut and pasted your hard copy (before screens, in the days of multi-carbon “books” and overhead conveyor belts) and made it right. 

So what?  Bush “hasn't divulged much detail about the operation or locations of the secret CIA facilities first disclosed earlier this year by The Washington Post,” and that’s what we are fixated on?  Never mind attacks thwarted? 

Nonetheless, truth will out, as in Silva’s 14th to 16th ‘grafs:

The interrogation of these suspects has led to extensive information about other suspects captured and plots thwarted, officials say, and in sum has provided about 50 percent of the U.S. government's knowledge of the workings of Al Qaeda, its members, its travel routes, safe houses and means of communication.

"The most important source of information on where the terrorists are hiding and what they are planning is the terrorists themselves," Bush said in his East Room address. "Captured terrorists have unique knowledge about how terrorist networks operate. They have knowledge of where the operatives are deployed, and knowledge about what plots are under way.

"This is intelligence that cannot be found any other place, and our security depends on getting this kind of information," Bush said. "To win the war on terror, we must be able to detain, question, and when appropriate, prosecute terrorists captured here in America and on the battlefields around the world."

Add to this a lot of sourced stuff presenting the administration side in the Final Five ‘grafs, and you do have a fair, if not great, idea of what Bush said.  So go to the end of a Silva story, and you may find good stuff — not exactly buried, but shall we say, misplaced?


Very special counsel

What Did Fitzgerald Know and When Did He Know It? is James Taranto’s question based on a NY Times story that “hints at the possibility of prosecutorial misconduct in the Valerie Plame” case.  He quotes:

An enduring mystery of the C.I.A. leak case has been solved in recent days, but with a new twist: Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, knew the identity of the leaker from his very first day in the special counsel's chair, but kept the inquiry open for nearly two more years before indicting I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on obstruction charges.

This national story is of keen interest here in Chicago, where Fitzgerald has been wielding a mighty swift sword of Justice Dept. anti-corruption activity.  Now, says NYT, there is “rich debate” about how he handled the Plame-leak business. 

Some say he “behaved much as did the independent counsels of the 1980's and 1990's who often failed to bring down their quarry on official misconduct charges but pursued highly nuanced accusations of a cover-up,” says NYT.

Armitage the Leaker would have resigned when he saw the Novak column that set things percolating, knowing he had goofed, but didn’t because it would have blown his cover.  He didn’t even tell Bush, after huddling with Colin Powell and the head State Dept. lawyer with the historic name of William H. (my guess it’s for Howard) Taft IV.

He kept Bush in the dark “because [Fitzgerald] asked him not to divulge it,” says NYT, blind-sourcing.  Taranto is not pleased:

It seems that Fitzgerald and the State Department covered up a noncrime, and the effect was to keep alive the illusion that it was a crime. We won't speculate about the prosecutor's motives, but the more we hear about the case, the clearer it is that the whole thing stinks.

Puffing Hooper

Question one for Jim Ritter after reading his “Muslims see a growing media bias” story, interview with Ibrahim Hooper of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): Do you not know that Ann Coulter lost her gig with National Review Online after her post-9/11 call for forced conversion of muslims?  If so, why allow Hooper to get away with his allegation that before 9/11 she "would have faced swift repudiation from her colleagues.  Now it's accepted as legitimate commentary”?  If not, why not?

Question two: Why do you quote (selectively) only one of the allegedly “virulent” web sites, Jihad Watch, which is chock-full of news items from around the world, but not others, such as Anti-CAIR, which quotes Sen. Durbin — "[CAIR is] unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect" — and Sen. Charles Schumer — "we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism" and "intimate links with Hamas" — and the prolific, learned, pointed Daniel Pipes?  Hooper gave you Jihad Watch (and the incriminating quote?) and then you routinely got routine denial and/or explanation by its proprietor, parenthesizing it?

One is tempted to think that when Hooper said bend over, you asked how far.  Sorry, but this is pitiful reportage, sloppy and unresearched, and on page 3, entire left-hand column at that.  Your editors are part of the problem too, let it be noted.


Lost in the research

“Perils darken a shadow economy: Illegal immigrant workers, the health-care system and taxpayers all pay a steep price” is over-reported, for one thing, as my city editor used to tell me.  Some very eager social-science researchers masquerading as newspaper reporters spent a lot of hard time with injured migrants and we get the results in today’s 2nd installment, which is more of the same hitting over the head with hard-luck stories.  How many readers not given to self-flagellation can stay with such an account? 

This is less a news article than an editorial, sans punchline, which impinges on its honesty, since editorials are upfront about what they want.  These writers, aided and abetted by various editors, have a point of view over which they trip with every vivid sentence and heart-rending description: in a journalistic version of a primal scream, they tell us with their presentation that they HATE our immigration laws, HATE its application, HATE the crackdowns that have come helter-skelter in the wake of mass protests.

Another thing about an editorial: good ones make an argument, presenting the other side which they wish to discredit.  This series nowhere takes a detached moment to do that.  Its writers don’t have the time.  Nowhere do they describe the dilemma we face about open borders or not, respect for law or flouting it.  Once again, Chi Trib blows it, succumbing to emotion and giving us rant when we deserve to hear both sides.


Two sources

Turning to one of my most trusted sources of news, Power Line, this a.m., I find this, which announces or discusses the distinct possibility that Al Queda is a goner in Iraq.

Unavoidably glancing at one of my least trusted sources, Chi Trib, I find on front page this propaganda from La Raza telling me to pity the poor immigrant:

Throwaway lives: While fewer Americans are killed on the job, that's not so for Latinos. [with bit front-page color pic and caption:] Antonio Cabrera shattered his leg.

I know this story is long and involved and dishonest and tear-jerker — a weeper — and so I hold off reading it until I have composed myself with worship of the God of my choice in the church of same.  More later.

Later: It’s long if you consider there’s more to come, which there is: “Monday: The cost of being injured,” says my hard copy.

It’s not involved; in fact, my head is sore from being hit with the same simple story: illegals know they are outside the law and so do not get medical care they need.  So do employers who put them to work doing what “none of us want to do,” to quote the mantra in support of ignoring their illegality. 

As for dishonesty, the story has no context, and writers dishonestly write without reference to the political position they are shamelessly shoring up, namely that our immigration laws suck. 

As for the weeper factor, my tears go for the journalism involved for reasons just given.  What they are doing in that regard speaks so loudly, I cannot work up an appropriate response to the plight of the poor devils getting hurt on the job.

It’s a variation of the Oscar Wilde response to a pathetic scene in The Old Curiosity Shop, at which he remarked memorably:

One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.

Maybe mind of mush in this case.


Dem points in Trib, good letters

Nice Democrat talking points on Chi Trib front page today. One has biggest billing:

Democrats return fire over Iraq: Officials seize on Pentagon report, respond to administration rhetoric, By Stephen J. Hedges, Washington Bureau:

In a wave of statements, Democratic Party leaders targeted Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for casting the Iraq war as part of a broader war on terrorism.

"The Pentagon's new report today indicates that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld's speeches are increasingly disconnected from the facts on the ground in Iraq," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement.

It’s a neat summary of what Dingy Harry and friends want us to hear. There’s Rahm Emmanuel, our machine-tooled congressperson, on Rumsfeld: House Democrats are considering staging a no-confidence vote, reports Hedges. There’s Howlin’ Howard Dean: "You can't trust Republicans to defend America." Way down in the story, there’s this about the political nature of the criticisms:

The charges and counter-charges over Iraq have more to do with political than military strategy. With the Nov. 7 elections more than two months away and poll numbers suggesting Democrats could overturn the GOP majority in the House, the role of U.S. troops overseas has become a primary focus.

And wayyy down, at the end, in fact, there’s this that should have gone much higher up, even in the lede, if in shortened form:

Rumsfeld spokesman Eric Ruff said there was nothing political in the defense secretary's comments.

"He was not accusing anybody of being soft on terrorism," Ruff said. "What he's saying is that terrorist networks pose a threat to the United States and the free world. The questions he's raising are questions that all Americans ought to be addressing. He linked that to those very clear lessons in history, and history tells us that you just can't ignore a problem."

Late Friday, Rumsfeld wrote top Democrats in Congress saying his recent remarks in Salt Lake City were misrepresented by the media, The Associated Press reported. Rumsfeld said he was "concerned" with the reaction of Democrats.

"I know you agree that with America under attack and U.S. troops in the field, our national debate on this should be constructive," he wrote.

Elsewhere, several letters are quite good. “Measured perspective,” from G.R. Paterson in Wilmette, puts William Neikirk on notice about his near-hysterical reaction to Abu Ghraib and other GI abuses. Neikirk concedes good reasons why the American public is not in full cry about them, says Paterson:

Most Americans recognize that these are not the actions of the typical GI, that they are not a reflection of American policy, that every war produces its atrocity stories, and that the unrelenting stresses placed on our troops can drive some over the edge.

But he misses

what is perhaps the biggest reason to take a measured perspective on these sad events, and that is the astonishing atrocities that Iraqis themselves are committing against their fellow countrymen every single day. While our troops risk their lives to enforce order, each day brings a new report of 30 or 50 or 75 ordinary Iraqis blown up or gunned down at a market, a mosque, or a roadside by their fellow Iraqis (with some help from Iranians and Syrians, to be sure). As the victims of these Iraqi mass murders mount from the hundreds to the thousands, does it really make sense to treat alleged GI abuses of a handful as the bigger story?

Excellent point here. It’s the compared-to-what? issue. Neikirk wrote (last Sunday) in the Perspective section, but he could use some. His

fretting that the public hasn't used the charges against a few troops as a reason to rise in massive outrage against our entire military seems more than a little unbalanced,

concludes Paterson.

Another good letter, “Lack of leadership,” from Neil Gaffney in the city, notes:

It is easy to overlook the critical roadblock preventing reconstruction of many areas of New Orleans: the total lack of a city reconstruction plan now one year on. Easier to point at the empty homes and shattered neighborhoods and point the finger at the federal government.


Thou shalt not buy

Give this a look-see as indictment of McCain-Feingold, which muzzles free speech about candidates, except what you can persuade media writers and editors to say, from Labor Day to the November election.  It’s more proof that liberalism ain’t liberal; it’s statist.

Lawyers vs. law

John Leo discussed lawyerly violation of non-discrimination laws in June, including the ABA’s coercion of law schools in the matter of racial-preference admission policies.  He notes tellingly:

[M]any of the people involved [mayors, city attorneys, judges] have a personal history of activism and see their current posts as opportunities to promote their causes. They often have romantic views of lawbreaking derived from the civil rights movement and the in-your-face activism of the 1960s.

Traditionally, officeholders are expected to resign if they cannot bring themselves to obey the law. The resisters don't feel that way. Often they see themselves as prophetic figures working against sluggish majorities to produce a better future. Save us from visionaries who think they are entitled to break the law.

Oh to be a prophet, now that armageddon is near!