Monthly Archives: September 2006

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?

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