Monthly Archives: April 2007

Look north?

Health care in Canada — “single-payer,” hailed by statists as the sort we ought to have — ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, according to this from the Hamilton, (Ont.) Spectator discussion opinion polls showing more than three out of four Canadians think their system is “in crisis”:

This . . . is illustrated in our own community by a severe doctor shortage. More than 60,000 city residents do not have a family doctor.

Which is typical of a statist program that imposes itself on how people act when buying and selling things.

There’s trouble in Maine too, Cato Institute tells us: 

When Maine became the first state in years to enact a law intended to provide universal health care, one of its goals was to cover the estimated 130,000 residents who had no insurance by 2009, starting with 31,000 of them by the end of 2005, the program’s first year,” The New York Times reports. “So far, it has not come close to that goal. Only 18,800 people have signed up for the state’s coverage and many of them already had insurance.”

Have signed up?  Can’t sell it, apparently.  Two of Cato’s people, Michael D. Tanner and Michael F. Cannon, have another idea — enacting a standard health insurance deduction, expanding health savings accounts, and deregulating insurance markets.  These reforms “could . . . expand coverage, improve quality [of care] and make care more affordable.”  Don’t know if they’re on the mark or not but strongly suspect it. 

Hitchens on bathos

Asked if he would write about Virginia Tech, Christopher Hitchens avowed “no interest in it,” but said he might (he did, at Slate).  More to the point, I think, is his comment about us:

My heart sinks when yellow-ribbon events occur, if that doesn’t sound too cynical. What one needs in this society is less sentimentality and more stoicism.



“I never knew a passion for politics exist for a long time without swallowing up, absolutely excluding, a passion for Religion,” wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in 5/16/1797 letter to J.P. Estlin.

A few months later, to his clergyman brother, Coleridge said he had withdrawn himself from consideration of “immediate causes,” i.e., current political arguments.

Samuel Johnson’s aunt, a gossip, was “willing to find something to censure in the absent,” said SJ. It’s in Kingsmill, editor, Johnson Without Boswell, 1941.

Prime Min. Gladstone’s falling into the Thames would be a misfortune, his being pulled out a calamity, said witty man quoted in 1/19/07 Times Lit Supplement.

A “gentle dimming of the libido” is a benefit of growing old. “It’s like being unshackled from a lunatic,” said a contributor to Late Youth: an anthology celebrating the joys of being over fifty (S. Johnson ed., Arcadia), reviewed in TLS “In Brief,” 3/9/07.

It’s “a fat book covering just two years, with gruel-thin contents,” said Jan Marsh of The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (ed. Wm. E. Friedman, Brewer), vol. 6: Last Decade, 1873-84, Kelmscott to Birchington I: 1873-74.

“I always have to be the bad guy. Let’s both be good guys,” said Johnny, 4, to Madeline, 6, in playground in Intercourse, PA.

AUTHOR: Hugh Kingsmill, mentioned here earlier as declaring Victorian sentimentality the product of “an unnatural union of poetry and Puritanism,” has two books on Samuel Johnson, one, Samuel Johnson, is a bio. The other, Johnson Without Boswell, consists of passages from others who knew him besides his famous chronicler.

ANOTHER: Coleridge’s writing his Biographia Literaria is a case of long-delayed production, short-term hard work on a publisher’s advance. It distilled and summed up his life’s work as poet, essayist, and philosopher, combining autobiography, criticism, and philosophy in a manner best suited to his talents as he had come to understand them. This is from the 1955 intro by Geo. Watson to the Everyman’s Edition of BL.

MOVIE, MOVIE: “Touchez pas au grisbi” (Do not touch the loot) is a 1954 film with Jean Gabin and several gorgeous women, none of whom in vulgar fashion remove their clothes or leer into the camera. He’s a criminal who protects swag from a huge bullion robbery. It ends in a gunfight on a country road which I’d say the Cohen brothers drew on for their small-city film of Prohibition times, “Miller’s Crossing.”

This “Do not touch” is deliciously tense from the start and blessedly refrains from being cute or maudlin. No faux O. Henry ending here. The film puts pleasurable tension even into a man brushing his teeth. It’s part of the Criterion Collection, which the OP library stocks to our continuing benefit.

800–LB. GORILLA . . . .

A recent online (members only) discussion of how to save newspapers in our digital age considered perils and advantages of digitilization. Left out, and maybe irrelevant considering the Decline of Taste and Reason in our time, was an editorial rather than technical solution to the decline of newspaperdom, namely to write tighter.

Newspapers such as Chi Trib, what I’m most familiar with, lets people go on and on, leaving unedited and uncut the writer who knows what people ought to know and will tell them regardless of people’s willingness to be told, or at least told so much. The writer knows what’s best for people and supplies it. He must have space or his professional dignity is compromised.

This is not counting those who very carefully use much ink saying something that requires it, which is of course where editorial judgment comes in, i.e. taste. 

Meanwhile, however, readers have turned the page and it’s readers one, newspaper nothing.

The incredible shrinking candidate . . .

This by Carol Marin tells us yet more about the increasingly visible clay feet of our Afro-American Idol Who Would Be President:

Barack Obama tells us he is the messenger of a new kind of politics.

Open. Transparent. Different.

But put the pedal to the metal and ask Illinois’ junior senator new and serious questions about his radioactive, federally indicted, former friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko, and suddenly this gleaming presidential hopeful and paragon of new politics behaves just like any other dissembling, dismissive Chicago pol, ducking the discussion while pretending not to.

It’s her follow-up on the Tim Novak two-parter in their paper, Sun-Times, including this tidbit:

Here’s a candidate who these days is on camera more than many TV anchors, whose staff is putting out press releases faster than IHOP cranks out pancakes, and yet, the senator just didn’t have time, his staffers claimed, to stop and talk on Monday even though he was in Chicago giving a speech at which, conservatively, there were 30 reporters and 15 cameras.

We didn’t know it then, but while Novak and I were staking out the senator’s big, black SUV parked outside, he was giving a quiet private interview to the Tribune about the wrongheadedness of the Sun-Times’ story.

Meanwhile, an Obama staffer, sent to watch us, nimbly Blackberried our movements to someone inside.

Suddenly, bodyguards pulled the SUV down into a parking garage, grabbed Obama, and with wheels squealing, sped out and away.

This guy doth not protest enough.

Did not find this in Chi Trib

This I lift as is from Instapundit, who got it from here:

“WHAT IS HAPPENING OVER HERE:” An email from a soldier in Iraq. “Gen Petraeus is treating the war like a counter-insurgency rather than a stability operation. . . . there is a HUGE difference between the two. . . . However, you don’t see Harry Reid talking about this. When I saw what he said, it really pissed me off. That guy does not know what is going on over here because he hasn’t bothered to come and find out. The truth on the ground in Al Anbar is not politically convenient for him, so he completely ignored it.”

Not only does Harry R. not get it, but neither do Chi Trib et al.*  Didn’t Pelosi tell Petraeus she couldn’t fit Petraeus into the House schedule?  Yes, at first, but now she thinks he might have something to say, to add to the good stuff she got from the Syrian guy, Bashar al-Assad.  No babuschka this time, however.


*I’m saying this without a site search, which last time I tried it had an AP story that if it ever appeared in hard copy was very hard to find.  I read the Trib’s hard copy every day, though not word for word, and I know what they play.  Heads and location and story size and big fat picture all go to tell us, this is important.  If the story is hard to find, it isn’t, to them at least.

Reid speaks, bad guys listen

[A] good name for the increasing body count in Iraq is the “Reid surge,”

says Mackubin Thomas Owens, a dean at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., citing historical precedent from Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s reading Northern newspapers to check on public sentiment about the war to the Tet Offensive in the Viet Nam War, a U.S. victory portrayed as defeat by U.S. media with resultant encouragement of our enemies,

He refers to bomb attacks in Iraq that caused “such carnage in recent days,” identifying them as

the expected consequences of the Democrats’ efforts to undercut the president’s new team and the changed strategy represented by the so-called “surge.” 

What do you know? Chi Trib gives Reid a pass . . .

It’s irritating and borderline repulsive that Chi Trib has run nothing of its own on Sen. Harry Reid’s saying the Iraq war is lost, just an AP story 4/20 about Bush denying the claim, responding in gentlemanly fashion:

“I respect the Democratic leadership,” he said. “We have fundamental disagreements about whether or not helping this young democracy is . . . the consequences of failure or success . . . .”

I did clean that up a bit: AP unsurprisingly lingered on the warts and blemishes of Bush’s spoken word. 

The Trib, on the other hand, protected Reid on the day, of the AP story — Gonzales in the dock was Trib editors’ interest — running nothing in hard copy. 

This is how it’s done.  Reid commits a major gaffe from which he backtracked within hours, but nothing is said.  Today we have him featured, statesmanlike, on P-1 with his measured comments about Bush and the war. 

Chi Trib just knows what’s fit to print, doesn’t it?

Obama and Rezko: Sun-Times a no-puff zone . . .

Yesterday’s Chi Trib p-1 headline story on Obama’s wife was classic puffery. Today’s Sun-Times story about Obama and the indicted Tony Rezko is what Chicago newspapers are supposed to be doing.

For more than five weeks during the brutal winter of 1997, tenants shivered without heat in a government-subsidized apartment building on Chicago’s South Side.

It was just four years after the landlords — Antoin “Tony’ Rezko and his partner Daniel Mahru — had rehabbed the 31-unit building in Englewood with a loan from Chicago taxpayers.

Rezko and Mahru couldn’t find money to get the heat back on.

But their company, Rezmar Corp., did come up with $1,000 to give to the political campaign fund of Barack Obama, the newly elected state senator whose district included the unheated building.

That’s the lede. The choicest excerpts have to do with legalistic stonewalling by Obama’s people:

Obama . . .  was associated with the firm for more than nine years, his staff acknowledged Sunday in an e-mail response to questions submitted March 14 by the Sun-Times. They didn’t say what deals he worked on — or how much work he did.


For five weeks, the Sun-Times sought to interview Obama about Rezko and the housing deals. His staff wanted written questions. It responded Sunday but left many questions unanswered. Other answers didn’t directly address the question.

Among these: When did Obama learn of Rezmar’s financial problems? “The senator had no special knowledge of any financial problems,’ Gibbs wrote.

Did the senator ever complain to anyone — government officials, Rezmar or Rezko — about the conditions of Rezmar’s buildings? “Senator Obama did follow up on constituency complaints about housing as [a] matter of routine,’ Gibbs wrote.

Did the senator ever discuss Rezmar’s financial problems with anyone at his law firm? “The firm advises us that it [is] unaware of any such conversations,’ Gibbs wrote.

There is much, much more, from Obama going to work for these people as part of his own ballyhooed war on poverty to his getting a sweet deal from Rezko on his Hyde Park mansion, with lots of donations and fund-raising in between.  The two have been very close.

Obama apparently — hell, obviously — turned a blind eye while Rezko took public money and paid no attention to the buildings that housed, or stored, people in need of so-called affordable housing. Rezko and friends apparently — hell, obviously — took one look at Obama as a black Harvard law star and saw him as marketable.

In the words of Paul Powell of Springfield-looting fame, they smelled the meat a’cookin’. So do a lot of people.

Puffin’ away for my man . . .

Song running through ChiTrib-reading mind, inspired by Sunday monster headline story:

Puff, puff that candidate

Puff, puff, until you puff yourself to death.

Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate that you hate to make him wait,

You just gotta have another . . .

DEMOCRAT LOSER!  Apologies to Tex Williams.

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