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« January 2008 | Main | March 2008 »

February 29, 2008

Heat Wave In Two Acts

In the summer of 1995, 739 Chicagoans died of heat-related causes. If you remember the heat wave at all, you probably have only a dim recollection of the scale of the tragedy. Why is that? Well, most of the dead were poor, elderly, and African American. Most lived in fractured communities where neighborliness gave way long ago to fear and isolation as crime rates soared and city and community services dwindled. Most media outlets covered the tragedy using the press releases issued by the office of Mayor Richard M. Daley, a practice still in full swing today, only belatedly trying to cover the facts well after the death toll made this event the single worst heat-related disaster in U.S. history. And finally, to this day, the Chicago City Council has never held hearings to investigate the causes of this gigantic stain on the city's municipal effectiveness and civic mindedness.

Fortunately, Eric Klinenberg, a former Chicagoan and now associate professor of sociology at New York University, performed a very thorough investigation of the 1995 heat wave. In 2003, he published his findings in a book, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. To read this book is to be alternately saddened, enraged, and dumbfounded not only at the mismanagement of the event itself, but at the sociological conditions existing for years that converged to make the heat wave a perfect storm. It is to the credit of playwright Steven Simoncic, Pegasus Players, and Live Bait Theatre that they took on the formidable task of dramatizing this highly readable, but still scholarly and detailed work. Heat Wave had its world premiere this week at the O'Rourke Center of Truman College, in a neighborhood not so very different from those where the disaster hit hardest. The characters are fictionalized versions of real players in the disaster - only the names of the guiltiest were not changed.

The first act opens with a cacophony of poetry spoken by the cast members as they populate the two-tiered set from all directions. Eventually, the action settles in a morgue, with three full gurneys and a couple of stretchers on the floor. The morgue workers try to figure out where they will put all the bodies that are coming in. "Put them in the hall," suggests one. "The halls are already full," replies another. From this eye opener, we are woven through the early responses to a disaster in the making as we are taken to the mayor's office, a TV news station, the poor Near West Side community of Lawndale, and the offices of the Chicago Tribune.

City press officials Sandy (Joseph Garlock) and Cass (Barbara Myers) confer about their personal lives, the reports coming in from the coroner's office, and the advisability of calling Mayor Daley, who is vacationing at his Michigan home. Later they will wonder whether emergency response teams should be mobilized without higher authorization. A staffer for "Eyewitness News" brings the burgeoning death tolls to his producer and unsuccessfully urges her to lead off the evening news with it. "We lead into Saturday Night Live," the producer says. "Nobody wants to hear about this." Then she tells her female anchor that there will be no close-ups of her until she does something about her hairy upper lip. In Lawndale, a cop (Ron Quade) stops a young man nicknamed Vanish (Ali Carter) from opening a fire hydrant. In an attempt to follow the community policing manual, he chats up Vanish. The two men compare their lives. The young man's anger spills over: "You can go home. I live here!" A reporter who just wants to get off his suburban beat in Schaumburg tries to persuade the Tribune's weekend metro editor to let him pursue the heat wave story. Afraid to make a decision himself, the editor finally relents. Pauline (the wonderful Tay Lar), an old woman in Lawndale, applies lipstick to try to recapture her "sensuality" her "need to attract." In words of pure poetry, she recounts the fading of her womanhood, her transformation into a ghost. She becomes a real ghost by the end of the scene, as she rises from her chair and lays down on a gurney in the morgue. The groundwork has been set.

Act 2 is a mirror image of the first act, but on a highly escalated scale. Panic has set in at the mayor's press office as Cass and Sandy stumble through various explanations (those people would have died anyway; the medical examiner is mistaken). The story the Tribune finally runs has all racial and socioeconomic content removed. Top officials won't pull the trigger on an emergency plan because they don't want to go over budget in deference to the mayor's new business-model management plan for the city. TV crews finally cover the event when a mass burial of unclaimed bodies takes place. Significantly, the anchors mutter exactly the same script, clashing only when they give the cause of the tragedy - one says the city failed while the other says that the people themselves are to blame for isolating themselves.

It is near-miraculous that Simoncic was able to cover every significant finding in Klinenberg's book in the space of a two-hour play, painting a vivid picture of the disaster that anyone can follow. Unfortunately, he has to spend the first act setting up the characters in this multifaceted story and sketching the outlines of the tragedy. This narrative necessity leads to a fairly undramatic "talking heads" presentation, though the actors work hard to inject urgency into their segments. The exchange between the cop and Vanish comes off particularly polemical.

However, all is forgiven in the second act, which moves briskly, urgently, and with a great deal of poignancy. For example, as a CHA property manager tries to get an old man to open his door to receive a fan, the old man argues with his younger self (Ali Carter, in a second role) about what happened to him in his life. Earl Alphonso Fox, who plays the old man, as well as Lester, a morgue worker, is the perfect picture of a soul who is heat-exhausted and exhausted with life.

I was most impressed with Victoria Caciopoli, who plays Hopper, a young, pink-haired parolee who has volunteered in the morgue to reduce the length of her parole. She and Lester clash constantly over moving bodies through the system as fast as they can or properly identifying them and treating them like people. Lester says, "They're not people anymore" as he slides a body into a wall. "Why do you care so much?" he asks. "Because I'm afraid I'm going to end up like one of them," Hopper cries. Hopper forms the moral center of the play as we watch the other characters with other concerns flesh out the aspects of a divided city in which the haves were mildly inconvenienced by the heat as the have-nots were dying.

Director Ilesa Duncan gets a lot out of her actors, who have the difficult task of acting exposition in duos. Her blocking leaves something to be desired, as the acoustically imperfect O'Rourke Center swallows lines while her actors loudly crisscross the stage dropping plastic packages of personal effects at Hopper's feet at the first act's closing. The set, which I think was meant to suggest tombstones, was serviceable but uninspired. Kudos to lighting designer Sean Mallory for his sensitive, evocative choices, particularly in depicting the mass grave. Sound designer Victoria Delorio cleverly weaves music from the zombie flick 28 Days Later to create an aura of death throughout.

Heat Wave is a very impressive work of theatre that does justice to Klinenberg's work and provides the victims of the heat wave a level of dignity they weren't accorded by the city at their premature deaths. I urge all Chicagoans to view this important retelling of a shameful part of our city's history. Also watch for the film documentary of Heat Wave in the works now.

*

Heat Wave runs Thursdays-Sundays through April 6 at the O'Rourke Center, Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Avenue. Call (773) 878-9761 for more information.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:51 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"The phrase 'natural born' was in early drafts of the Constitution," the New York Times reports in "McCain's Canal Zone Birth Prompts Queries About Whether That Rules Him Out."

Q. Would a President McCain appoint strict constructionist judges who would then rule he is not eligible to be president?

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"The anti-McCain litany is the list of bills he has co-sponsored with Democrats: McCain-Feingold (campaign finance restrictions), McCain-Lieberman (greenhouse gas restrictions), and McCain-Kennedy (illegal immigration)."

Jeez, McCain's passed more Democratic legislation than Obama.

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"Spending nights without her husband has been the most difficult adjustment, Lura Lynn Ryan said," the Sun-Times reports. "She has kept a strong faith, praying every night, even though 'the Lord is a little slow in getting here sometimes.'"

Hey, give the Lord a break. He's a little busy deciding the outcome of sporting events all over the world.

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Alternate punch line: Hey, give the Lord a break. He's a little busy trying to nail down the nomination in Texas.

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George Ryan has been transferred to a federal facility in Indiana, where he was immediately named a superdelegate. He said he will vote his conscience.

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"Stroger's not dumping his old $100,000 PR director - Andre Garner. He's shuffling Garner into a vacant job in the county planning department," the Sun-Times reports in a story about Todd Stroger hiring childhood friend Gene Mullins as his new propaganda minister.

"Mullins would supervise another former Stroger PR chief, Chinta Strausberg - who is now paid $99,807 a year as Stroger's liaison to churches - as well as $85,000-a-year hospital spokesman Sean Howard, who was fired from Stroger's political campaign after he was arrested on charges of stalking a woman.

Wow, I want to be a former Stroger spokesman. Can I apply online?

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"Mullins has a solid reputation at the [Chicago] police department, but his hiring comes on the heels of Stroger hiring another childhood friend, his cousin, his best friend's wife and even his floor leader's girlfriend for high-level county jobs."

The scary thing is that genealogy research shows that Dick Cheney is a distant cousin of Stroger's . . . and he'll be looking for a new job soon.

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"For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America's rank as the world's No. 1 incarcerator."

The Illinois political caucus put us over the top in a close race with China.

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Voter turnout from inside America's prisons is unusually high this year.

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Maybe the Wrigley Co. could offer Sam Zell a swap and rename its downtown headquarters Tribune Field.

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If Sam Zell gets his way and sells Wrigley Field to the state, "There'd be no more talk of moving the team to Schaumburg, like the rumblings that accompanied the Trib's 1981 acquisition of the Cubs for $21 million," the Sun-Times reports.

In other news of exploiting lame threats more than 20 years old, former East German officials announced that for the right price they will not rebuild the Berlin Wall.

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Why doesn't Sam Zell sell naming rights to the Tribune?

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"It's not the same as 20 years ago, when I kept the White Sox in Chicago by passing a tax on out-of-towners," says former Gov. Jim Thompson.

And that concluded the reading of his new book, Self-Aggrandizing Fairy Tales, out soon on Combine Press.

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Apparently Patti Blagojevich is in line for the commission if Wrigley Field is sold to the state.

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If Wrigley Field becomes McDonald's Field, will the neighborhood become McDonaldville?

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At least Sam Zell provides us with an identifiable villain instead of a cast of faceless corporate bureaucrats. Now bring me his head on a stake.

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What if Wrigley was renamed Marshall's Field?

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"I do not believe that anybody can grow a business by reducing the number of employees," Sam Zell said upon taking over Tribune. "It is not our game plan to, in effect, try and figure out how few people we can have run this business."

Maybe Zell should coach the Bears, because he's proving more adept at changing the game plan than Lovie Smith.

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"The focus of everything that we're going to do is directed at one thing: generating more revenue," he added.

Apparently that means figuring out how few people can run the business.

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In response to a campaign being waged against him by the Sun-Times, Zell said "We'll see you in Bankruptcy Court!"

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A Beachwood reader writes: "I'm surprised you didn't mention the the S-T printing the word 'asshole' more than once in Mariotti's column.

"Maybe it's part of some brilliant new marketing campaign to reverse their fortunes: "The Chicago Sun-Times: Beating the Tribune one asshole at a time."

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"[The Wire's David] Simon is highly amused by an irony he perceives in the press's reaction to corporations' slashing of newsrooms: that newspaper editors are now making speeches about the same economic forces - the triumph of capital over labor - that the press has been ignoring in their own cities for years. 'What they should have been covering is now biting them in the ass,' Simon said. 'We'll see it in season five: Guys, you're a little late. It happened to you, and it happened to the entire working class.'"

It's not news 'til it happens to the Tribune.

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If the Straight Talk Express is rockin', don't come knockin'.

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The Clinton campaign is facing charges today that it leaked a photo to The Drudge Report of Barack Obama dressed in a blue shirt and khakis from the Gap.

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Gov. Rod Blagojevich insists he's not Public Official A, he just pretends to be when he's having governmental relations with Patti.

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Conrad Black reports to prison on Monday and as part of his punishment the only visitor he's allowed to receive is Neil Steinberg.

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Barack Obama raised $50 million in February and said he would use the funds to take the money out of politics.

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"Bernardo Rangel and Juan Verra were dressed in camouflage and tending as many as 40,000 marijuana plants when they were arrested last summer in a Cook County forest preserve near Barrington Hills," the Tribune reports.

"On Thursday, Rangel and Verra, 23-year-old Mexican immigrants, were both sentenced to 2 years in prison after pleading guilty to their roles in what authorities said was an elaborate operation."

Wait a minute. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

The Beachwood Tip Line: The next best thing to being there.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With The Military Channel

War, what is it good for? Surprisingly limited programming.

5 a.m.: Revolutionary War

6 a.m.: First World War

7 a.m.: Weaponology

8 a,.m.: Weaponology

9 a.m.: 20th Century Battlefields

10 a.m.: 20th Century Battlefields

11 a.m.: Weapons Races

Noon: Weaponology

1 p.m.: Weaponology

2 p.m.: Wings of the Luftwaffe

3 p.m.: Around the Services

3:30 p.m.: World War II Battlefront

4 p.m.: Warlords

5 p.m.: War Detectives

6 p.m.: Weaponology

7 p.m.: Hell in the Pacific

8 p.m.: Hell in the Pacific

9 p.m.: In Search of USS Indianapolis

10 p.m.: Hell in the Pacific

11 p.m.: Hell in the Pacific

Midnight: In Search of USS Indianapolis

1 a.m.: Weaponology

2 a.m.: Hell in the Pacific

3 a.m.: Hell in the Pacific

4 a.m.: In Search of USS Indianapolis

5 a.m.: Revolutionary War

-

See also:

* 24 Hours With QVC
* 24 Hours With Tru TV
* 24 Hours With Current TV

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:33 AM | Permalink

February 28, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

1. Jim DeRogatis names the top 10 Chicago bands to watch in 2008, including some psychedelic shoegazers from Bridgeport and a group he says has the "spiffiest suits since the Mighty Mighty Bosstones."

2. "In its campaign to revive the intimate, friendly feel of a neighborhood coffee shop, Starbucks orchestrated the closing [Tuesday] of 7,100 of its American stores at precisely 5:30 p.m. for a three-hour retraining session for employees," the New York Times reports.

You mean to revive the friendly feel of neighborhood coffee shops that Starbucks drove out of business?

"Howard D. Schultz, the company's recently reappointed chief executive, has spoken of regaining the 'soul of the past'", the Times notes.

It's hard to remember a time when Starbucks had soul, but it's actually true. I'm using a Starbucks coffee mug right now that I bought from a Starbucks in Evanston, which I believe was the first in the Chicago area. The mug art is a reprise of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, with the name of the diner changed from Phillie's to Starbucks Coffee.

At the time - 1991 or 1992 - Starbucks was new and even exotic. How quickly things changed. Not only did the burgeoning chain capture the yuppie imagination with overpriced, highly-caloric, burnt and bitter coffee, but it transformed itself into McDonald's in its rapacious hunger for market share, cheapening its brand and alienating large swaths of its potential customer base.

Now it's (rightly) a symbol of corporate evil that invokes the kind of ire usually reserved for oil companies.

My suggestion: Pull back on locations and become a supplier to local shops to grow the industry for everyone instead of suffocating it.

*

More fun at Starbucks Gossip.

*

UPDATE 9:54 A.M.: "Starbucks To Begin Sinister 'Phase Two' Of Operation."

- via Steve Johnson's Hypertext

3. Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he's too busy to pay attention to the upcoming Tony Rezko trial, which is essentially a trial about the governor's administration and could be a preview for the day when Public Official A sits in the dock.

"I am not involved in this court case," he said on Wednesday. "I don't know much about it. I have a job to do as governor. It's a full-time job."

Not according to Mike Flannery.

4. The governor wants $40 million to demolish Cole Hall - the site of the recent Northern Illinois University shooting tragedy - and replace it with a new building to be called Memorial Hall.

"[H]old on a minute, governor," the Tribune says in an editorial this morning.

Beachwood contributor Tim Howe seconds that emotion.

"Take the money and endow a scholarship for students interested in entering the mental health field," Howe writes on our Politics page today. "Maybe that will keep future students at Cole Hall safe. A new building certainly will not."

5. "Immigrants in California are far less likely to land in prison than their U.S.-born counterparts, a finding that defies the perception that immigration and crime are connected, according to a study released Monday," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Maybe we should build a fence to keep them in.

6. In "Just Stupid Enough To Be True," the Reader's Ben Joravsky catches up with the story of Election Night's magic pens with invisible ink.

7. "Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, the deputy chief of public affairs in Baghdad, encourages Iraqi journalists to more courageously question government policy and become advocates for a free-thinking society," the Tribune reports.

Irony alert: If American journalists practiced what Driscoll preaches, we wouldn't be in Iraq in the first place.

Bonus quote: "I grew up reading Mike Royko and how he was always giving Mayor Daley a hard time," Driscoll said. "That, to me, was the way journalism was supposed to be. That was it at its best."

8. "We don't see much to this story," the Tribune editorial page said about the now-infamous John McCain story in the New York Times about his close relationships with the same lobbyists he so often declares his independence from.

You didn't see that story? You know, the one about McCain having an affair? I thought so!

Am I the only one who thinks the story was solid? I don't know if the press corps is sex-starved, because they're awfully eighth-grade when it comes to the subject, but whether McCain actually had intercourse with Vicki Iseman is beside the point. (And why they let the Times become the story at McCain's behest is beyond me.) Iseman, a lobbyist with interests before McCain's commerce committee, was such an ubiquitous presence during McCain's 2000 presidential campaign that some of his top advisors thought his candidacy could be doomed.

And even that wasn't the point of the story; it was just the best, most egregious example of how McCain's actions vis a vis lobbyists is at odds with his rhetoric.

The Tribune, however, doesn't want to believe it.

"Though he twice wrote letters to the Federal Communications Commission urging it to act on a case that involved one of Iseman's clients, McCain says he was trying to get the FCC moving not influence its decision," the paper says. "The wording of his letters bears that out."

First of all, even accepting that at face value is doing Iseman's client a favor; a negative ruling still helps them move along.

But, predictably, there's more to the story than the Trib acknowledges.

"While the campaign said Thursday that Mr. McCain never spoke to anyone from Paxson [the Iseman client in question] or Ms. Iseman's lobbying firm before sending those letters to the commission, an article posted on Newsweek's Web site on Friday said that Mr. McCain had previously acknowledged first speaking to Mr. Paxson," the New York Times reported over the weekend.

"Recounting that conversation, Mr. McCain testified in [a] deposition, 'I said I would be glad to write a letter asking them to act.'"

And act he did.

"The two letters he wrote to the FCC in 1999 while he was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee produced a rash of criticism and a written rebuke from the then-FCC chairman, who called McCain's intervention 'highly unusual,'" the Washington Post reports. " McCain had repeatedly used Paxson's corporate jet for his campaign and accepted campaign contributions from the broadcaster and his law firm.

Back to the Times: "In three interviews with The New York Times, Mr. Paxson has provided varying accounts about the letters. In the first, he said Ms. Iseman was involved in the drafting of them and had lobbied Mr. McCain. He later said he could not recall who had been involved."

Other aspects of McCain's story are crumbling too.

It actually isn't about the sex - if there was any.

But then, the Tribune editorial page has its hands full still prosecuting Whitewater.

*

By the way, if you click on the Trib editorial, you'll see that newspapers still don't understand the basics of linking. I'm pretty sure anyone reading a Tribune editorial on John McCain knows who he - and Barack Obama - is. You don't need to link on proper nouns. On the other hand, linking to the New York Times that is the basis of the editorial might have been a nice service to readers.

Memo to the Trib et. al.: Links = evidence, context, and punch lines. It's time to start writing in 3-D.

9. Oh, I'll get to Sam Zell. Be patient.

10." A long-serving reporter on the Guardian, a British daily, Mr. Davies turns his investigative skills on his own profession," the Economist writes. "The picture he paints of journalism (almost entirely British despite the 'global' in his subtitle) is of a debased trade in which rumor and unchecked speculation often masquerade as fact, where staff cuts mean that vast swaths of national life simply go unreported and where overstressed and underfunded reporters are easy prey for influence-peddlers, liars and con men."

It gets worse. In Reviewing the Reviews.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Zell bent.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 AM | Permalink

Save Cole Hall

Well, Blago and the president of NIU have hit a new low. They're planning on tearing down Cole Hall to build something called Memorial Hall in its place, because - in the words of NIU President John Peters - students couldn't be expected to return to Cole.

Pardon my insensitivity, but hogwash! They're talking $3 million "upfront money" just to get the bonds issued. (Total project cost: $40 million.)

I'm surprised Mayor Daley's missed the boat on this all these years. Why not tear down every Chicago public school that's had a shooting at or near it, and build a new one? Surely elementary- and high-school kids are much more sensitive than college kids. How can we expect them to keep showing up in class?

And why not tear up and repave every road that's seen a fatal crash? We can't expect motorists to drive by the site of such horrors every day! Why, that might have been them pulverized by that truck.

Don't get me wrong. I have a world of sympathy for the victims of that horrible Valentine's Day massacre at Northern. But even if we did have the money for this plan, I hope I've pointed out the absurdity of the whole thing. Bad things happen in the world, and it's up the the survivors to carry on. Everything can't be turned into a shrine.

Put a plaque on the wall, and move on. To do otherwise perpetuates the notion of a "victim society" where everyone believes they're entitled to some redress or special treatment to soothe their soul. Where do you draw the line? How many dead before you have to tear down an entire building? Is five the number? What if it's only four but the killing was really horrible? What if nobody was killed but there were twenty people wounded?

The best way to honor the victims is to continue to use Cole Hall as a place of learning. And if the killer were trying to gain some notoriety by his actions (and we may never know why he went on his rampage that day), the best way to negate that effort is certainly not to turn the whole site into sacred ground.

Take the money and endow a scholarship for students interested in entering the mental health field. Maybe that will keep future students at Cole Hall safe. A new building certainly will not.

*

Comments welcome. As always, include a real name if you wish to be considered for publication.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 AM | Permalink

Reviewing the Reviews

"Journalists have a pleasantly heroic self-image of down-at-heel crusaders dedicated to exposing falsehood, promoting justice and speaking truth to power," the Economist notes. "But that image is shared by few others: hacks routinely come near the bottom of surveys of public trust, sharing that honor with other perpetual hate-figures such as politicians or estate agents. Nick Davies's latest book will only stoke such contempt."

"A long-serving reporter on the Guardian, a British daily, Mr. Davies turns his investigative skills on his own profession. The picture he paints of journalism (almost entirely British despite the 'global' in his subtitle) is of a debased trade in which rumor and unchecked speculation often masquerade as fact, where staff cuts mean that vast swaths of national life simply go unreported and where overstressed and underfunded reporters are easy prey for influence-peddlers, liars and con men.

"As a British poet called Humbert Wolfe once wrote,

You cannot hope to bribe or twist,
Thank God, the British journalist.
But seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there's no occasion to!

Of course, the picture Davies presents is entirely apropos to American journalists as well. One point Davies makes that the Economist notes is the vulnerability of journalists to "hidden persuaders - PR firms, press offices, and advertisers - who now seem to have more power and influence than the journalism they ostensibly serve."

The Hidden Persuaders was also the name of a book published in 1957 by Vance Packard that "exposed the secret world of advertising and brands," Mark Greif wrote in the New York Times Book Review recently.

"The bete noire of The Hidden Persuaders was 'motivational research,'" Greif wrote. "Rather than focusing on products, this 'depth' research dug into the psychological weaknesses and needs of consumers. Packard wanted brands to certify purity or quality, to make an old-fashioned fact-based appeal to citizens who had price and effectiveness in mind.

"Scientists of motivation, on the other hand, were trying to puzzle out the reasons for impulsive and even self-destructive purchasing, then tailor images and packaging accordingly."

I think you can see where this is going . . .

"But Packard saw nothing benign when the same techniques were applied to the 1956 presidential election. Presidents would be elected on 'personality.' Messages would be short and focus-grouped. Conventions would be choreographed by emissaries from Hollywood," writes Greif. "[I]t's disturbing to see how the novelties Packard deplored have become accepted fundamentals.

"For 1956, professional advertisers were hired to 'swing crucial voters' in 'the undecided or listless mass,' trolling for weaknesses in candidates' images. The 'switch voter,' an advertising expert explained after much study, is not a thoughtful 'independent' but someone who 'switches for some snotty litlte reason such as not liking the candidate's wife.'"

Dismal Science
"The real mystery, it could be argued, isn't why we make so many poor economic choices but why we persist in accepting economic theory," Elizabeth Kolbert writes her New Yorker review of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.

Among the examples:

"People aren't just loss-averse, they are also effort-averse," Kolbert writes. "They hate having to go to the benefits office, pick up a bunch of forms, fill them out, and bring them all the way back. As a consequence, many eligible employees fail to enroll in their companies' retirement plans, or delay doing so for years . . .

"The same basic argument holds whenever a so-called default option is provided. For instance, most states in the U.S. require that those who want to become organ donors register their consent; in this way, many potential donors are lost.

"As an alternative - used, for example, in Austria - is to make consent the default option, and put the burden of registering on those who do not wish to be donors."

Some might suggest there is a lesson here for health insurance coverage . . .

And, of course, there are larger implications for democracy. Combined with the forces of the hidden persuaders, we end up with large segments of the electorate who are uninformed, misinformed and, yes, irrational.

An example cited by Kolbert that we are quite familiar with here in Chicago:

"Voters, it has been demonstrated, are influenced by factors ranging from how names are placed on a ballot to the jut of a politician's jaw."

(In the case of the latter, journalistic hacks are quite influenced too.)

"A 2004 study of New York City primary-election results put the advantage of being listed first on the ballot for a local office at more than three percent - enough of a boost to turn many races."

Imagine explaining to your kids that you lost an election because of where your name was placed on a ballot.

"Like neoclassical economics, much democratic theory rests on the assumption that people are rational," Kolbert writes. "[E]mpirical evidence suggests otherwise."

Blog Fog
"Blogs are often mean-spirited, self-indulgent and sophomoric," Tribune "literary editor" Elizabeth Taylor writes.

As opposed to newspapers.

"Cleverly written, maybe."

Compared to . . . this?

"Brilliant insight and analysis, not so much."

Really? Not so much?

Compare and contrast.

Quarterlife
Dwight Garner of the New York Times reprises the paper's best-seller lists from 1983 - 25 years ago - when advice and how-to books commingled with the rest of the non-fiction list. The result? Jane Fonda was the country's most popular author . . .

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:53 AM | Permalink

Parents, Are You Listening Or Lecturing To Your Kids?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Five Tips to Help You Listen
Seattle, WA - The knowledge that our children are safe, happy and emotionally sound is one of our greatest concerns. If they were being traumatized by something at school or, even worse, the attentions of a predator, we would want to be the first to know.

The only way we can truly be sure that they are alright, or if something is troubling them, is if they feel they can confide in us on a person-to-person basis. But are we actually listening to them as equals, or are we listening to them with condescending ears and, in the process, inadvertently breaking these lines of communication between parent and child - leaving them unwilling to come to us for help?

"Children don't seem to get as much respect as other members of society," says Julie Scandora, teacher and author of the book Rules Are Rules. "They experience the same emotional obstacles as adults, but this is often overlooked by grown-ups. Parents need to treat children with respect and ensure a trusting relationship."

Here are five of Julie's tips to help you communicate more effectively with your children:

1. Listen. It sounds obvious, but if your children don't think they will be heard, they won't go to you with the hard questions or problems.

2. Create opportunities for interaction with your kids. Families spend so much time apart these days. Use "car time" - such as the 20-minute drive to school - as a time to communicate with your children.

3. Lead by example. Far too many parents opt for the "do as I say not as I do" method. But this sends mixed messages to children regarding important situations.

4. Respect the child's intuition. We all have "gut feelings," and if kids are encouraged to trust theirs, they will be able to heed their intuition in dicey situations when we aren't around to help.

5. Don't confuse "respect" with "giving in." It is important that the parental role is not usurped. Don't give in to kids just to diffuse a problematic situation. Instead communicate with them and let them know why rules are rules.

By showing our children that we are receptive to what they have to say and that we are willing to talk with them, not just at them, we can help them gain confidence and maturity, but we need to make sure we are practicing what we preach.

"Perhaps we need to start with ourselves, don't we!" laughs Julie. "But if we give our children the respect we give our peers, they will be better prepared to deal with whatever life throws at them. And when they encounter something for which they are still too young to deal with by themselves, they'll naturally come to us for advice."

About Julie Scandora
Julie Scandora is a teacher, editor, author and mother of three. She holds a BA from Smith and an MBA from the University of Washington and has taught children in schools and delivered lectures and workshops to adults. Julie has been an editor and assistant publisher for numerous publications. She is also a professional artist specializing in watercolors and is represented in several distinguished galleries. Julie lives in Seattle.

To interview Julie Scandora contact Rachel Friedman at (727) 443-7115 ext. 206 or e-mail rachel@newsandexperts.com

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Rachel Friedman
Print Campaign Manager
News and Experts
1127 Grove Street
Clearwater, Florida 33755
www.newsandexperts.com


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:33 AM | Permalink

February 27, 2008

The [Wednesday] Papers

I'm sorry, I know I missed a couple columns last week but I'm really behind today on a bunch of other matters so I'm not going to make it today either. I will be back on my regular daily schedule starting tomorrow, I swear. In the meantime, we have a terrific new installment of Mystery Debate Theater 2008. There's no way you can convince me that anyone covers debates better than we do. And there's plenty to read elsewhere on the site. New material all the way around tomorrow. Bless you, my readers!

*

The [Tuesday] Papers
Our very own Tim Willette reports that sequels to Oscar-nominated films are already in the works:

- There Will Be More Blood

- An Even Worse Country For Considerably Older Men

- Much Further Away From Her

- Elizabeth: The Metal Years

*

Rejected titles:There Will Be Transfusions; See? I Told You There Would Be Blood; There Will Be Sweat, Tears; Hemophilia.

*

More Beachwood Oscar coverage!

Our illustrious TV alum Scott Buckner returns with witty observations and wonderment.

And Mystery Oscar Theater 2008! is updated with more red carpet snark (did you know that John Travolta, GI Joe, Curious George, and the Seinfeld Bee all have the same barber?) from Bethany Lankin.

Mary Drudge
The Clinton campaign denies it is circulating a photo of Barack Obama in Somali garb, but Obama spokesperson Mary Mitchell doesn't buy it. Why? Just because.

"Why would a 2006 photograph of Sen. Barack Obama wearing African tribal garments suddenly show up on the Internet?" Mitchell asks. "Think about it. What is the point of circulating a photograph of Obama wearing a white turban days before critical primaries, if not to inflame an anti-Muslim sentiment?"

Well, considering the photo showed up on Drudge, where a (meaningless) photo of the Clintons with Tony Rezko showed up just as questions were being raised about Obama's self-described political godfather . . . I tend to have a different set of suspicions than Mitchell.

Even Obama-supporter and liberal blogosphere grandaddy Markos Moulitsas - aka Kos - has his doubts.

"Now the screaming headline on Drudge this morning is that, well, Obama respected another culture, and that's apparently a firing offense these days. Worse than that, Drudge claims it's the Clinton campaign that's trying to score points off Obama's tolerance," Kos writes.

"Now I don't know when we started taking anything Drudge says at face value, but that hysteria could use a little calming down. In fact, I tend to believe the Clinton campaign when it claims that there hasn't been a campaign decision to push the, er, accusations."

The Clinton campaign is unequivocal in its denial, though the Sun-Times saw fit to use that in a backhanded way on its front page today.

"[Clinton communications chief Howard] Wolfson also grew exasperated with a reporter who pressed the issue," Greg Sargent reports at Talking Points Memo, "saying: 'If you have any original reporting to suggest that this campaign was circulating this e-mail, please let me know. We've been very clear that we're not aware of it. Obviously the campaign didn't sanction it, and don't know anything about it.'"

(In a second post, Sargent writes: "Just to review what happened today: Matt Drudge, a proven and repeated inventor of facts and serial slimer of Dems, reported that unnamed Hillary 'staffers' had 'circulated' this email and photo. He didn't say who the staffers were or at what level they exist in the campaign. He didn't say who the photo was circulated to. Based on what Drudge reported and nothing more, the Obama campaign attacked the Hillary camp for engaging in dirty politics." And the Sun-Times put it on its front page.

(Sargent does gently poke the Clinton campaign for not issuing an immediate denial, but that's easily explained: Don't you think they were trying like hell to find out if anyone in the campaign had anything do to with it?)

Mitchell, though, channeling her inner Drudge, uses the photo flap as an excuse to blame the Clinton campaign for, among other things, Internet rumors that Obama refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Please.

But then, Mitchell has now joined the Obama campaign in believing that Rush Limbaugh was right about Whitewater after all - a conclusion even Ken Starr couldn't support.

Maybe Mitchell and her Chicago suck-up cohort could spend some time instead explaining how the phrases "fairy tale" and "rolling the dice" are racial code and who fed that narrative to the media.

And anytime someone else wants to pick up fact-checking duties, I'd be obliged.

Math Narrative
Eric Zorn writes today that the math is Huckabeean - nearly impossible - when it comes to Clinton prevailing in the delegate hunt, no matter what happens in the final primaries.

True, but also a narrative the Obama campaign has successfully pushed to obscure another reality: Obama isn't likely to reach the delegate total to put him over the top either. And when that happens, it gets settled at the convention.

The Obama camp, however, already has the media in overdrive trying to pressure Clinton out of the race.

Rate Bait
"Commonwealth Edison Co. wants electricity customers to foot the bill for nearly $9 million in long-term incentive payments to senior executives and another $9 million in bonuses to all employees," Crain's reports.

"Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the staff of the Illinois Commerce Commission argue that such payments shouldn't be included in electric rates. They're urging the ICC, which regulates utilities, to deny the request, part of ComEd's proposed $361-million rate hike."

So . . . senior executives aren't properly incentivized? Maybe shocking them every few hours would help.

Taking Stock
"Shares of Sun-Times Media Group Inc. stopped trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday after triggering a rule that halts transactions when a stock falls below $1.05," the Tribune reported on Monday.

"Trading halted on the floor of the NYSE when the stock opened at $1, down 11 cents from Thursday's close. It continued trading on electronic platforms and other exchanges."

There's also a rule halting trading when a newspaper stock is projected to fall below the cost of a single-copy off the rack.

*

Wall Street has given up on the Sun-Times, Bob Reed writes.

The paper is heading toward penny stock territory, or possibly bankruptcy.

Maybe Obama should buy it. But then, why buy the cow when you're getting the milk for free?

Simon Says
"Cook County hospital chief Dr. Robert Simon said Monday morning he would not reimburse taxpayers for gas costs he incurs driving a county vehicle to see his family in Michigan each weekend unless he was ordered to do it," the Sun-Times reports.

A few hours after making that statement, Todd Stroger ordered him to pay up. But Simon isn't going down without a fight.

"Simon defended his actions, saying he's actually saving money, as previous hospital chiefs have had drivers - a perk he says he never used."

Simon makes his case further in a letter to the paper that demonstrates he's also saving taxpayers from the overuse of common sense and integrity, though he is taking advantage of a perk allowing cheap self-regard.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Incentivized.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

Mystery Debate Theater 2008

Once again the Mystery Debate Theater team of Andrew Kingsford, Tim Willette and Steve Rhodes gathered to add value to a presidential candidates' debate in order to bring citizens a deeper understanding of our political system and the people inside it.

Well, Tim and Steve watched separately as each was felled by sniffles, congestion and ennui, while Andrew was . . . probably at Rainbo. Nonetheless, we have produced the most comprehensive and meaningful debate coverage on the face of the Earth. Remember, Texas and Ohio, you can take this with you into the voting booth.

As always, this transcript has been edited for space, clarity, sanity and comedy.

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CLINTON: As I have said many times, I have a great deal of respect for Senator Obama, but we have differences. And in the last several days, some of those differences in tactics and the choices that Senator Obama's campaign has made regarding flyers and mailers and other information that has been put out about my health care plan and my position on NAFTA have been very disturbing to me.

You know, for example, it's been unfortunate that Senator Obama has consistently said that I would force people to have health care whether they could afford it or not.

TIM: My plan forces people to pay for health insurance whether they can afford it or not.

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BRIAN WILLIAMS: On the topic of accurate information, one of the things that has happened over the past 36 hours - a photo went out the website The Drudge Report, showing Senator Obama in the native garb of a nation he was visiting, as you have done in a host country on a trip overseas.

STEVE: Lindsay Lohan has agreed to reprise the photo session here tonight.

WILLIAMS: Matt Drudge on his website said it came from a source inside the Clinton campaign . . .

STEVE: Senator Clinton, will you take Matt Drudge out of your top eight?

WILLIAMS: . . . Can you say unequivocally here tonight it did not?

CLINTON: Well, so far as I know, it did not. And I certainly know nothing about it and have made clear that that's not the kind of behavior that I condone or expect from the people working in my campaign. But we have no evidence where it came from.

STEVE: We can still detain you at Guantanamo without access to a lawyer.

WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, your response.

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I take Senator Clinton at her word that she knew nothing about the photo. So I think that's something that we can set aside.

I do want to focus on the issue of health care because Senator Clinton has suggested that the flyer that we put out, the mailing that we put out, was inaccurate.

I have endured over the course of this campaign repeatedly negative mailing from Senator Clinton in Iowa, in Nevada and other places suggesting that I want to leave 15 million people out.

According to Senator Clinton, that is accurate. I dispute it.

The reason she thinks that there are more people covered under her plan than mine is because of a mandate. That is not a mandate for the government to provide coverage to everybody; it is a mandate that every individual purchase health care.

Now, Senator Clinton has not indicated how she would enforce this mandate.

STEVE: I think she would force you to watch this debate if you don't comply.

CLINTON: Senator Obama has a mandate in his plan. It's a mandate on parents to provide health insurance for their children. That's about 150 million people who would be required to do that. The difference between Senator Obama and myself is that I know, from the work I've done on health care for many years, that if everyone's not in the system we will continue to let the insurance companies do what's called cherry-picking - pick those who get insurance and leave others out.

We will continue to have a hidden tax, so that when someone goes to the emergency room without insurance - 15 million or however many - that amount of money that will be used to take care of that person will be then spread among all the rest of us.

And most importantly, you know, the kind of attack on my health care plan, which the University of Pennsylvania and others have said is misleading that attack goes right to the heart of whether or not we will be able to achieve universal health care.

And what I find regrettable is that in Senator Obama's mailing that he has sent out across Ohio, it is almost as though the health insurance companies and the Republicans wrote it.

OBAMA: Every expert has said that anybody who wants health care under my plan will be able to obtain it.

STEVE: Hardly!

CLINTON: You know, Senator Obama has a mandate. He would enforce the mandate by requiring parents to buy insurance for their children.

OBAMA: This is true.

CLINTON: If you have a mandate, it has to be enforceable. So there's no difference here.

OBAMA: No, there is a difference.

CLINTON: It would be as though Franklin Roosevelt said let's make Social Security voluntary - that's - you know, that's - let's let everybody get in it if they can afford it - or if President Johnson said let's make Medicare voluntary.

What we have said is that at the point of employment, at the point of contact with various government agencies, we would have people signed up. It's like when you get a 401(k), it's your employer. The employer automatically enrolls you. You would be enrolled.

And under my plan, it is affordable because, number one, we have enough money in our plan. A comparison of the plans like the ones we're proposing found that actually I would cover nearly everybody at a much lower cost than Senator Obama's plan because we would not only provide these health care tax credits, but I would limit the amount of money that anyone ever has to pay for a premium to a low percentage of your income. So it will be affordable.

OBAMA: I do provide a mandate for children, because, number one, we have created a number of programs in which we can have greater assurance that those children will be covered at an affordable price. On the point of many adults, we don't want to put in a situation in which, on the front end, we are mandating them, we are forcing them to purchase insurance, and if the subsidies are inadequate, the burden is on them, and they will be penalized. And that is what Senator Clinton's plan does.

In fact, Medicare Part B is not mandated, it is voluntary. And yet people over 65 choose to purchase it, Hillary, and the reason they choose to purchase it is because it's a good deal. And if people in Cleveland or anywhere in Ohio end up seeing a plan that is affordable for them, I promise you they are snatching it up because they are desperate to get health care. And that's what I intend to provide as president of the United States.

WILLIAMS: Senator, I'm going to change the subject.

STEVE: Because you lost me at Medicare Part B.

*

CLINTON: About 20 percent of the people who are uninsured have the means to buy insurance. They're often young people -

WILLIAMS: Senator -

CLINTON: - who think they're immortal -

OBAMA: Which is why I cover them.

CLINTON: - except when the illness or the accident strikes. And what Senator Obama has said, that then, once you get to the hospital, you'll be forced to buy insurance, I don't think that's a good idea. We ought to plan for it -

OBAMA: With respect -

CLINTON: - and we ought to make sure we cover everyone.

That is the only way to get to universal health care coverage.

OBAMA: With respect -

CLINTON: That is what I've worked for for 15 years -

OBAMA: With respect -

CLINTON: - and I believe that we can achieve it. But if we don't even have a plan to get there, and we start out by leaving people, you'll never ever control costs, improve quality, and cover everyone.

MR. WILLIAMS: Well, a 16-minute discussion on health care is certainly a start. I'd like to change up -

TIM: A 16-minute discussion on health care is certainly a start. Now let's get back to who sent that picture to Drudge.

*

WILLIAMS: I - well, here's another important topic . . .

STEVE: I was reading Perez Hilton the other day . . .

WILLIAMS: . . . and that's NAFTA, especially where we're sitting here tonight. And this is a tough one depending on who you ask. The Houston Chronicle has called it a big win for Texas, but Ohio Democratic Senator Brown, your colleague in the Senate, has called it a job-killing trade agreement. Senator Clinton, you've campaigned in south Texas. You've campaigned here in Ohio. Who's right?

STEVE: They both are. But she'll get killed if she says that.

CLINTON: Well, can I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time. And I don't mind. I - you know, I'll be happy to field them, but I do find it curious, and if anybody saw Saturday Night Live, you know, maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow. I just find it kind of curious that I keep getting the first question on all of these issues. But I'm happy to answer it.

You know, I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning. I didn't have a public position on it, because I was part of the administration, but when I started running for the Senate, I have been a critic. I've said it was flawed. I said that it worked in some parts of our country, and I've seen the results in Texas. I was in Laredo in the last couple of days. It's the largest inland port in America now. So clearly, some parts of our country have been benefited.

But what I have seen, where I represent upstate New York, I've seen the factories closed and moved. I've had to negotiate to try to keep factories open, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, because the companies got tax benefits to actually move to another country.

So what I have said is that we need to have a plan to fix NAFTA. I would immediately have a trade timeout, and I would take that time to try to fix NAFTA by making it clear that we'll have core labor and environmental standards in the agreement.

I have received a lot of incoming criticism from Senator Obama. And the Cleveland Plain Dealer examined Senator Obama's attacks on me regarding NAFTA and said they were erroneous.

So I would hope that, again, we can get to a debate about what the real issues are and where we stand because we do need to fix NAFTA. It is not working. It was, unfortunately, heavily disadvantaging many of our industries, particularly manufacturing. I have a record of standing up for that, of chairing the Manufacturing Caucus in the Senate, and I will take a tough position on these trade agreements.

STEVE: The manufacturing caucus? I thought that was outsourced years ago . . .

OBAMA: Well, I think that it is inaccurate for Senator Clinton to say that she's always opposed NAFTA. In her campaign for Senate, she said that NAFTA, on balance, had been good for New York and good for America. I disagree with that

Now, I think that Senator Clinton has shifted positions on this and believes that we should have strong environmental standards and labor standards, and I think that's a good thing. But you know, when I first moved to Chicago in the early '80s and I saw steelworkers who had been laid off of their plants - black, white, and Hispanic - and I worked on the streets of Chicago to try to help them find jobs, I saw then that the net costs of many of these trade agreements, if they're not properly structured, can be devastating.

STEVE: Um, he moved to Chicago in 1985. NAFTA was passed in 1993. Do you need another pillow, Barack?

RUSSERT: I want to ask you both about NAFTA because the record, I think, is clear. And I want to - Senator Clinton. Senator Obama said that you did say in 2004 that on balance NAFTA has been good for New York and America. You did say that. When President Clinton signed this bill - and this was after he negotiated two new side agreements, for labor and environment - President Clinton said it would be a force for economic growth and social progress. You said in '96 it was proving its worth as free and fair trade. You said that - in 2000 - it was a good idea that took political courage. So your record is pretty clear.

In the debate that Al Gore had with Ross Perot, Al Gore said the following: "If you don't like NAFTA and what it's done, we can get out of it in six months.

The president can say to Canada and Mexico, we are out. This has not been a good agreement. Will you as president say we are out of NAFTA in six months?

CLINTON: I have said that I will renegotiate NAFTA, so obviously, you'd have to say to Canada and Mexico that that's exactly what we're going to do. But you know, in fairness -

RUSSERT: You will get out. You will notify Mexico and Canada, NAFTA is gone in six months.

CLINTON: No, I will say we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it, and we renegotiate on terms that are favorable to all of America.

But let's be fair here, Tim. There are lots of parts of New York that have benefitted, just like there are lots of parts of Texas that have benefitted. The problem is in places like upstate New York, places like Youngstown, Toledo, and others throughout Ohio that have not benefitted. And if you look at what I have been saying, it has been consistent.

You know, Senator Obama told the farmers of Illinois a couple of years ago that he wanted more trade agreements.

RUSSERT: We're going to get to Senator Obama . . .

STEVE: After we grill you first again and give him time to prepare a judicious response . . .

RUSSERT: . . . but I want to stay on your terms because this was something that you wrote about as a real success for your husband. You said it was good on balance for New York and America in 2004, and now you're in Ohio and your words are much different, Senator. The record is very clear.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I - I - you don't have all the record because you can go back and look at what I've said consistently.

TIM: "You don't have the complete record, Tim."

"Yes, I do."

"I'll bet you don't have the CD bonus tracks, though - eh, young voters?"

CLINTON: And I haven't just said things; I have actually voted to toughen trade agreements, to try to put more teeth into our enforcement mechanisms.

But you know, Tim, when you look at what the Cleveland Plain Dealer said when they examined the kind of criticism that Senator Obama was making of me - it's not me saying it - they said it was erroneous.

I would also say that you can go back and look at from the very beginning - I think David Gergen was on TV today remembering that I was very skeptical about it.

RUSSERT: But let me button this up. Absent the change that you're suggesting, you are willing to opt out of NAFTA in six months?

STEVE: Hasn't he been listening? Or is he too busy reading Drudge?

CLINTON: I'm confident that as president, when I say we will opt out unless we renegotiate, we will be able to renegotiate.

RUSSERT: Senator Obama, you did in 2004 talk to farmers and suggest that NAFTA had been helpful. The Associated Press today ran a story about NAFTA, saying that you have been consistently ambivalent towards the issue. Simple question: Will you, as president, say to Canada and Mexico, This has not worked for us; we are out?

OBAMA: I will make sure that we renegotiate, in the same way that Senator Clinton talked about. And I think actually Senator Clinton's answer on this one is right.

STEVE: Thank you for letting me listen to her first. Now, can someone get me a pillow?

OBAMA: I have to say, Tim, with respect to my position on this, when I ran for the United States Senate, the Chicago Tribune, which was adamantly pro-NAFTA, noted that, in their endorsement of me, they were endorsing me despite my strong opposition to NAFTA.

STEVE: From the Tribune now: "Obama has been consistently ambivalent.

"In his 2004 Senate campaign, he said the U.S. should pursue more deals such as NAFTA, and argued more broadly that his opponent's call for tariffs would spark a trade war. AP reported then that Obama had spoken of enormous benefits having accrued to his state from NAFTA, while adding that he also called for more aggressive trade protections for U.S. workers.

"Obama is correct that Clinton has praised NAFTA in various ways, but he leaves out the qualifications she's expressed along the way.

"And she did not say NAFTA was a 'boon,' as [an Obama] mailer states on its ominous cover, depicting a locked factory gate. 'Boon' was a newspaper's characterization of her position, which is reprinted inside the mailer [and has since been retracted by the newspaper, Newsday, as misleading]."

OBAMA: And that conversation that I had with the Farm Bureau, I was not ambivalent at all. What I said was that NAFTA and other trade deals can be beneficial to the United States because I believe every U.S. worker is as productive as any worker around the world, and we can compete with anybody. And we can't shy away from globalization. We can't draw a moat around us. But what I did say, in that same quote, if you look at it, was that the problem is we've been negotiating just looking at corporate profits and what's good for multinationals, and we haven't been looking at what's good for communities here in Ohio, in my home state of Illinois, and across the country.

STEVE: So I was very firm in my waffling.

*

RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, on the issue of jobs, I watched you the other day with your economic blueprint in Wisconsin saying, this is my plan; hold me accountable. And I've had a chance to read it very carefully. It does say that you pledge to create 5 million new jobs over 10 years.

And I was reminded of your campaign in 2000 in Buffalo, my hometown, just three hours down Route 90, where you pledged 200,000 new jobs for upstate New York. There's been a net loss of 30,000 jobs. And when you were asked about your pledge, your commitment, you told The Buffalo News, "I might have been a little exuberant." Tonight will you say that the pledge of 5 million jobs might be a little exuberant?

CLINTON: No, Tim, because what happened in 2000 is that I thought Al Gore was going to be president.

*

CLINTON: And the reason why we can create at least 5 million new jobs - I mean, this is not a big leap. Twenty-two point seven million new jobs were created during the eight years of the Clinton administration under my husband. We can create at least 5 million new jobs.

STEVE: None of them in journalism, of course, but still . . .

*

WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, yesterday Senator Clinton gave a speech on foreign policy and I'm going to read you a quote from it. Quote, "We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security. We cannot let that happen again. America has already taken that chance one time too many."

The senator has compared your foreign policy expertise to that of George W. Bush at the same period. Provided you could be going into a general election against a Republican with vast foreign policy expertise and credibility on national security, how were her comments about you unfair?

TIM: In the general election, you could be up against a Republican with vast foreign policy expertise. For instance, on the need to bomb Iran.

OBAMA: Well, Senator Clinton I think equates experience with longevity in Washington.

STEVE: I associate it with longevity in Springfield.

WILLIAMS: Senator Clinton, in the last debate you seemed to take a pass on the question of whether or not Senator Obama was qualified to be commander in chief. Is your contention in this latest speech that America would somehow be taking a chance on Senator Obama as commander in chief?

STEVE: Pass.

*

CLINTON: Well, I have put forth my extensive experience in foreign policy, you know, helping to support the peace process in Northern Ireland, negotiating to open borders so that refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing would be safe, going to Beijing and standing up for women's rights as human rights and so much else. And every time the question about qualifications and credentials for commander in chief are raised, Senator Obama rightly points to the speech he gave in 2002. He's to be commended for having given the speech. Many people gave speeches against the war then, and the fair comparison is he didn't have responsibility, he didn't have to vote; by 2004 he was saying that he basically agreed with the way George Bush was conducting the war. And when he came to the Senate, he and I have voted exactly the same. We have voted for the money to fund the war until relatively recently. So the fair comparison was when we both had responsibility, when it wasn't just a speech but it was actually action, where is the difference? Where is the comparison that would in some way give a real credibility to the speech that he gave against the war?

And on a number of other issues, I just believe that, you know, as Senator Obama said, yes, last summer he basically threatened to bomb Pakistan, which I don't think was a particularly wise position to take. I have long advocated a much tougher approach to Musharraf and to Pakistan, and have pushed the White House to do that.

And I disagree with his continuing to say that he would meet with some of the worst dictators in the world without preconditions and without the real, you know, understanding of what we would get from it.

So I think you've got to look at, you know, what I have done over a number of years, traveling on behalf of our country to more than 80 countries, meeting and working out a lot of different issues that are important to our national security and our foreign policy and our values, serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee for now five years.

TIM: I've traveled to 80 countries. For instance, I once had a layover in Lesotho.

OBAMA: My objections to the war in Iraq were not simply a speech. I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, and I was very specific as to why.

STEVE: Not exactly.

OBAMA: With respect to Pakistan, I never said I would bomb Pakistan. What I said was that if we have actionable intelligence against bin Laden or other key al-Qaeda officials, and we - and Pakistan is unwilling or unable to strike against them, we should. And just several days ago, in fact, this administration did exactly that and took out the third-ranking al-Qaeda official.

STEVE: So he is just like Bush!

*

OBAMA: And so my claim is not simply based on a speech. It is based on the judgments that I've displayed during the course of my service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

STEVE: All three years of service. Er, well, I've been running for president for a year, so two years. And the first year I was still trying to find the men's room, so one year. But still. I am on the committee. I have my own chair.

RUSSERT: Let me talk about the future . . .

STEVE: There's a photo that will appear on Drudge tomorrow . . .

RUSSERT: . . . If the Iraqi government said, President Clinton or President Obama, you're pulling out your troops this quickly? You're going to be gone in a year, but you're going to leave a residual force behind? No. Get out. Get out now. If you don't want to stay and protect us, we're a sovereign nation. Go home now. Will you leave?

OBAMA: Well, if the Iraqi government says that we shouldn't be there, then we cannot be there. This is a sovereign government, as George Bush continually reminds us.

STEVE: It was sovereign when we invaded it, too.

CLINTON: I believe that there is no military solution that the Americans who have been valiant in doing everything they were asked to do can really achieve in the absence of full cooperation from the Iraqi government.

RUSSERT: If this scenario plays out and the Americans get out in total and al-Qaeda resurges and Iraq goes to hell, do you hold the right, in your mind as American president, to re-invade, to go back into Iraq to stabilize it?

STEVE: Is Russert on crack?

CLINTON: You know, Tim, you ask a lot of hypotheticals.

STEVE: For example, if I move more of my armies into Irkutsk . . .

RUSSERT: But this is reality.

CLINTON: No, well, it isn't reality.

STEVE: Ah, but it is: New on NBC this fall!

*

CLINTON: I also have heard Senator Obama refer continually to Afghanistan, and he references being on the Foreign Relations Committee. He chairs the Subcommittee on Europe. It has jurisdiction over NATO. NATO is critical to our mission in Afghanistan.

STEVE: I can connect NATO to Afghanistan in four steps. Make that connection!

OBAMA: He's held not one substantive hearing to do oversight, to figure out what we can do to actually have a stronger presence with NATO in Afghanistan.

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I became chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign, at the beginning of 2007. So it is true that we haven't had oversight hearings on Afghanistan.

STEVE: So, really, I've only been in the Senate for two years. And the first year I was still trying to find my way to the men's room . . . But I was in the majority in the Illinois Senate for two years!

*

WILLIAMS: And Senator, I need to reserve -

CLINTON: Well, but I have - I just have to add -

WILLIAMS: I'm sorry, Senator, I've got to -

CLINTON: Now wait a minute, I have to add -

WILLIAMS: I've got to get us to a break because television doesn't stop.

CLINTON: - because the question - the question was about invading - invading - Iraq.

WILLIAMS: Can you hold that thought until we come back from a break? We have limited commercial interruptions tonight, and we have to get to one of them now.

TIM: I'm sorry, Sen. Clinton, but we really need to get to this commercial about cell phones.

*

WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, we started tonight talking about what could be construed as a little hyperbole. Happens from time to time on the campaign trail. You have recently been called out on some yourself. I urge you to look at your monitor and we'll take a look.

CLINTON: (From videotape.) Now I could stand up here and say: Let's just get everybody together. Let's get unified. The sky will open - (laughter) - the light will come down - (laughter) - celestial choirs will be singing - (laughter) - and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect!

OBAMA: Sounds good! (Laughter.)

WILLIAMS: Of all the charges - (laughter, applause) - of all the charges and countercharges made tonight, we can confirm that is not you, Senator Obama.

OBAMA: (Chuckles.)

WILLIAMS: That was Senator Clinton. But since we played that tape, albeit in error, for this segment, how did you take that?

STEVE: Would you like a pillow?

OBAMA: Look, I understand the broader point that Senator Clinton's been trying to make over the last several weeks. You know, she characterizes it typically as speeches, not solutions, or talk versus action. And as I said in the last debate, I've spent 20 years devoted to working on behalf of families who are having a tough time and they're seeking out the American dream. That's how I started my career in public service, that's how I brought Democrats and Republicans together to provide health care to people who needed it, that's how I helped to reform a welfare system that wasn't working in Illinois, that's how I've provided tax breaks to people who really needed them as opposed to just the wealthy, and so I'm very proud of that track record.

STEVE: I'd especially like to thank Emil Jones tonight, who made it all possible.

OBAMA: And if Senator Clinton thinks that it's all talk, you know, you got to tell that to the wounded warriors at Walter Reed who had to pay for their food and pay for their phone calls before I got to the Senate.

STEVE: Again with Walter Reed.

OBAMA: And so I am not interested in talk. I am not interested in speeches.

STEVE: From now on, I won't talk!

CLINTON: The larger point is that I know trying to get health insurance for every American that's affordable will not be easy. It's not going to come about just because we hope it will or we tell everybody it's the right thing to do. You know, 15 years ago I tangled with the health insurance industry and the drug companies, and I know it takes a fighter. It takes somebody who will go toe-to-toe with the special interests.

You know, I have put forth very specific ideas about how we can get back $55 billion from the special interests - the giveaways to the oil companies, the credit card companies, the student loan companies, the health insurance companies. These have all been basically pushed on to these special interests not just because of what the White House did, but because members of Congress went along. And I want to get that money back and invest it in the American middle class - health care, college affordability, the kinds of needs that people talk to me about throughout Ohio, because what I hear as I go from Toledo to Parma to Cleveland to, you know, Dayton is the same litany that people are working harder than ever, but they're not getting ahead. They feel like they're invisible to their government. So when it came time to vote on Dick Cheney's energy bill, I voted no, and Senator Obama voted yes. When it came time to try to cap interest rates for credit cards at 30 percent - which I think is way too high, but it was the best we could present - I voted yes and Senator Obama voted no.

WILLIAMS: What I was attempting to do here is to show something Senator Obama said about you, and I'm told it's ready. Let's try it. Hang on. Watch your monitor.

OBAMA: (From videotape.) - herself as co-president during the Clinton years. Every good thing that happened she says she was a part of. And so the notion that you can selectively pick what you take credit for and then run away from what isn't politically convenient, that doesn't make sense.

WILLIAMS: Now, Senator Obama, you can react to it and whatever you wanted to react to from earlier, but I've been wanting to ask you about this assertion that Senator Clinton has somehow cast herself as co-president.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think what is absolutely true is, is that when Senator Clinton continually talks about her experience, she is including the eight years that she served as first lady, and you know, often says, you know, "Here's what I did."

"Here's what we did." "Here's what we accomplished" - which is fine.

And I have not - I have not in any way said that that experience is not relevant, and I don't begrudge her claiming that as experience. What I've said, and what I would continue to maintain, is you can't take credit for all the good things that happened but then, when it comes to issues like NAFTA, you say, well, I - behind the scenes, I was disagreeing. That doesn't work.

STEVE: Why not?

OBAMA: Now there are several points that I think Senator Clinton made that I - we need to discuss here. First of all, she talked about me objecting to caps on credit cards. Keep in mind, I objected to the entire bill - a bill that Senator Clinton, in its previous version, in 2001 had voted for. And in one of the debates with you guys said, well, I voted for it, but I hoped it wouldn't pass - which, as a general rule, doesn't work. If you don't want it to pass, you vote against it.

STEVE: Or you vote present.

OBAMA: You know, she mentioned that she is a fighter on health care. And look - I do not in any way doubt that Senator Clinton genuinely wants to provide health care to all Americans.

What I have said is that the way she approached it back in '93, I think, was wrong in part because she had the view that what's required is simply to fight. And Senator Clinton ended up fighting not just the insurance companies and the drug companies, but also members of her own party.

STEVE: And that's where I got the idea to bring Harry and Louise back.

OBAMA: But what I also believe is that the only way we are going to actually get this stuff done is, number one, we're going to have to mobilize and inspire the American people so that they're paying attention to what their government is doing. And there's nothing romantic or silly about that. If the American people are activated, that's how change is going to happen.

STEVE: And then what, storm Congress?

*

RUSSERT: Senator Obama, let me ask you about motivating, inspiring, keeping your word. Nothing more important.

STEVE: Well, in The Wild Bunch the point was that honor wasn't about keeping your word, but who you give your word to.

RUSSERT: Last year you said if you were the nominee you would opt for public financing in the general election of the campaign; try to get some of the money out. You checked "Yes" on a questionnaire. And now Senator McCain has said, calling your bluff, let's do it. You seem to be waffling, saying, well, if we can work on an arrangement here.

Why won't you keep your word in writing that you made to abide by public financing of the fall election?

OBAMA: Tim, I am not yet the nominee. Now, what I've said is, if I am the nominee, then I will sit down with John McCain and make sure that we have a system that is fair for both sides, because Tim, as you know, there are all sorts of ways of getting around these loopholes.

STEVE: I guess it depends on what the meaning of "Yes" is.

RUSSERT: So you may opt out of public financing. You may break your word.

OBAMA: What I have said is, at the point where I'm the nominee, at the point where it's appropriate, I will sit down with John McCain and make sure that we have a system that works for everybody.

STEVE: Don't you want to button that one up, Tim?

*

RUSSERT: Senator Obama, one of the things in a campaign is that you have to react to unexpected developments. On Sunday, the headline in your hometown paper, Chicago Tribune: "Louis Farrakhan Backs Obama for President at Nation of Islam Convention in Chicago." Do you accept the support of Louis Farrakhan?

STEVE: Oh Lord, what a waste of time. Wasn't there a Rezko headline that day?

OBAMA: You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible. I did not solicit this support. He expressed pride in an African-American who seems to be bringing the country together. I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you, formally or informally with Minister Farrakhan.

RUSSERT: Do you reject his support?

OBAMA: Well, Tim, you know, I can't say to somebody that he can't say that he thinks I'm a good guy. You know, I - you know, I - I have been very clear in my denunciations of him and his past statements, and I think that indicates to the American people what my stance is on those comments.

STEVE: But do you reject his support? Say it! Say it!

OBAMA: I've been very clear, in terms of me believing that what he has said is reprehensible and inappropriate. And I have consistently distanced myself from him.

RUSSERT: The title of one of your books, Audacity of Hope, you acknowledge you got from a sermon from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the head of the Trinity United Church. He said that Louis Farrakhan "epitomizes greatness."

He said that he went to Libya in 1984 with Louis Farrakhan to visit with Moammar Gadhafi and that, when your political opponents found out about that, quote, "your Jewish support would dry up quicker than a snowball in Hell."

What do you do to assure Jewish-Americans that, whether it's Farrakhan's support or the activities of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, your pastor, you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness?

OBAMA: [blah blah blah]

CLINTON: There's a difference between denouncing and rejecting.

OBAMA: Tim, I have to say I don't see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word "reject" Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word "denounce," then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.

STEVE: The motion to reject and denounce passes.

*


WILLIAMS: The question beginning this segment is for you, Senator Obama. The National Journal rates your voting record as more liberal than that of Ted Kennedy.

STEVE: Oh God, here we go . . .

WILLIAMS: How can you run with a more liberal voting record than Ted Kennedy?

OBAMA: Well, first of all, let's take a look at what the National Journal rated us on.

It turned out that Senator Clinton and I had differences on two votes. The first was on an immigration issue, where the question was whether guest workers could come here, work for two years, go back for a year, and then come back and work for another two years, which meant essentially that you were going to have illegal immigrants for a year, because they wouldn't go back, and I thought it was bad policy.

The second - and this, I think, is telling in terms of how silly these ratings are - I supported an office of public integrity, an independent office that would be able to monitor ethics investigations in the Senate, because I thought it was important for the public to know that if there were any ethical violations in the Senate, that they weren't being investigated by the Senators themselves, but there was somebody independent who would do it.

It was rejected. And according to the National Journal, that position is a liberal position.

Now, I don't think that's a liberal position. I think there are a lot of Republicans and a lot of independents who would like to make sure that ethic investigations are not conducted by the people who are potentially being investigated. So the categories don't make sense.

*

RUSSERT: Before the primary on Tuesday, on Sunday, March 2, there's an election in Russia for the successor to President Putin. What can you tell me about the man who's going to be Mr. Putin's successor?

CLINTON: Well, I can tell you that he's a hand-picked successor, that he is someone who is obviously being installed by Putin, who Putin can control, who has very little independence, the best we know.

STEVE: Do you need a pillow, Barack? If you're going to play foreign policy gotcha, why don't you direct this question to Obama?

CLINTON: You know, there's a lot of information still to be acquired. That the so-called opposition was basically run out of the political opportunity to wage a campaign against Putin's hand-picked successor, and the so-called leading opposition figure spends most of his time praising Putin. So this is a clever but transparent way for Putin to hold on to power, and it raises serious issues about how we're going to deal with Russia going forward.

I have been very critical of the Bush administration for what I believe to have been an incoherent policy toward Russia. And with the reassertion of Russia's role in Europe, with some of the mischief that they seem to be causing in supporting Iran's nuclear ambitions, for example, it's imperative that we begin to have a more realistic and effective strategy toward Russia. But I have no doubt, as president, even though technically the meetings may be with the man who is labeled as president, the decisions will be made by Putin.

RUSSERT: Who will it be? Do you know his name?

CLINTON: Medvedev - whatever.

RUSSERT: Yes.

CLINTON: Yes.

RUSSERT: Senator Obama, do you know anything about him?

STEVE: Now I do!

OBAMA: Well, I think Senator Clinton speaks accurately about him.

STEVE: Clockwork!

OBAMA: He is somebody who was hand-picked by Putin.

STEVE: Apparently. I mean, I'm just going by what I've heard.

RUSSERT: He's 42 years old, he's a former law professor.

STEVE: And he's pals with Tony Rezko. Eerie!

RUSSERT: He is Mr. Putin's campaign manager. He is going to be the new president of Russia. And if he says to the Russian troops, you know what, why don't you go help Serbia retake Kosovo, what does President Obama do?

STEVE: Russert played a lot of Risk as a kid. Probably still in a league.

OBAMA: We have recognized the country of Kosovo as an independent, sovereign nation, as has Great Britain and many other countries in the region. And I think that that carries with it, then, certain obligations to ensure that they are not invaded.

STEVE: Unless it's by us.

*

RUSSERT: Before you go, each of you have talked about your careers in public service. Looking back through them, is there any words or vote that you'd like to take back? Senator Clinton?

STEVE: Senator Clinton? Elbow, elbow. Hint, hint. Wink, wink.

CLINTON: Well, obviously, I've said many times that, although my vote on the 2002 authorization regarding Iraq was a sincere vote, I would not have voted that way again.

RUSSERT: To be clear, you'd like to have your vote back?

CLINTON: Absolutely. I've said that many times.

RUSSERT: Senator Obama, any statements or vote you'd like to take back?

STEVE: Perhaps a deal you made with a certain real estate partner?

OBAMA: Well, you know, when I first arrived in the Senate that first year, we had a situation surrounding Terri Schiavo. And I remember how we adjourned with a unanimous agreement that eventually allowed Congress to interject itself into that decision-making process of the families.

It wasn't something I was comfortable with, but it was not something that I stood on the floor and stopped. And I think that was a mistake, and I think the American people understood that that was a mistake. And as a constitutional law professor, I knew better.

And I think that's an example of inaction, and sometimes that can be as costly as action.

STEVE: And I promise to never let Congress intercede with a brain dead woman on a feeding tube without a fight again.

OBAMA: But let me say this, since we're wrapping up this debate. We have gone through 20 debates now.

TIM: And there are three dorks in Chicago who quite frankly have had enough.

Beachwood Analysis
Same as it ever was. Clinton wins on substance, Obama wins on tone. But it would be nice if someone fact-checked the guy. More than that, though, is that Tim Russert, Brian Williams and much of their cohort are perhaps the biggest threat to democracy going. I'm not sure they could have been more clueless. Can they be impeached?

-

Catch up with the entire scintilliating series!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

February 26, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

Our very own Tim Willette reports that sequels to Oscar-nominated films are already in the works:

- There Will Be More Blood

- An Even Worse Country For Considerably Older Men

- Much Further Away From Her

- Elizabeth: The Metal Years

*

Rejected titles:There Will Be Transfusions; See? I Told You There Would Be Blood; There Will Be Sweat, Tears; Hemophilia.

*

More Beachwood Oscar coverage!

Our illustrious TV alum Scott Buckner returns with witty observations and wonderment.

And Mystery Oscar Theater 2008! is updated with more red carpet snark (did you know that John Travolta, GI Joe, Curious George, and the Seinfeld Bee all have the same barber?) from Bethany Lankin.

Mary Drudge
The Clinton campaign denies it is circulating a photo of Barack Obama in Somali garb, but Obama spokesperson Mary Mitchell doesn't buy it. Why? Just because.

"Why would a 2006 photograph of Sen. Barack Obama wearing African tribal garments suddenly show up on the Internet?" Mitchell asks. "Think about it. What is the point of circulating a photograph of Obama wearing a white turban days before critical primaries, if not to inflame an anti-Muslim sentiment?"

Well, considering the photo showed up on Drudge, where a (meaningless) photo of the Clintons with Tony Rezko showed up just as questions were being raised about Obama's self-described political godfather . . . I tend to have a different set of suspicions than Mitchell.

Even Obama-supporter and liberal blogosphere grandaddy Markos Moulitsas - aka Kos - has his doubts.

"Now the screaming headline on Drudge this morning is that, well, Obama respected another culture, and that's apparently a firing offense these days. Worse than that, Drudge claims it's the Clinton campaign that's trying to score points off Obama's tolerance," Kos writes.

"Now I don't know when we started taking anything Drudge says at face value, but that hysteria could use a little calming down. In fact, I tend to believe the Clinton campaign when it claims that there hasn't been a campaign decision to push the, er, accusations."

The Clinton campaign is unequivocal in its denial, though the Sun-Times saw fit to use that in a backhanded way on its front page today.

"[Clinton communications chief Howard] Wolfson also grew exasperated with a reporter who pressed the issue," Greg Sargent reports at Talking Points Memo, "saying: 'If you have any original reporting to suggest that this campaign was circulating this e-mail, please let me know. We've been very clear that we're not aware of it. Obviously the campaign didn't sanction it, and don't know anything about it.'"

(In a second post, Sargent writes: "Just to review what happened today: Matt Drudge, a proven and repeated inventor of facts and serial slimer of Dems, reported that unnamed Hillary 'staffers' had 'circulated' this email and photo. He didn't say who the staffers were or at what level they exist in the campaign. He didn't say who the photo was circulated to. Based on what Drudge reported and nothing more, the Obama campaign attacked the Hillary camp for engaging in dirty politics." And the Sun-Times put it on its front page.

(Sargent does gently poke the Clinton campaign for not issuing an immediate denial, but that's easily explained: Don't you think they were trying like hell to find out if anyone in the campaign had anything do to with it?)

Mitchell, though, channeling her inner Drudge, uses the photo flap as an excuse to blame the Clinton campaign for, among other things, Internet rumors that Obama refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Please.

But then, Mitchell has now joined the Obama campaign in believing that Rush Limbaugh was right about Whitewater after all - a conclusion even Ken Starr couldn't support.

Maybe Mitchell and her Chicago suck-up cohort could spend some time instead explaining how the phrases "fairy tale" and "rolling the dice" are racial code and who fed that narrative to the media.

And anytime someone else wants to pick up fact-checking duties, I'd be obliged.

Math Narrative
Eric Zorn writes today that the math is Huckabeean - nearly impossible - when it comes to Clinton prevailing in the delegate hunt, no matter what happens in the final primaries.

True, but also a narrative the Obama campaign has successfully pushed to obscure another reality: Obama isn't likely to reach the delegate total to put him over the top either. And when that happens, it gets settled at the convention.

The Obama camp, however, already has the media in overdrive trying to pressure Clinton out of the race.

Rate Bait
"Commonwealth Edison Co. wants electricity customers to foot the bill for nearly $9 million in long-term incentive payments to senior executives and another $9 million in bonuses to all employees," Crain's reports.

"Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the staff of the Illinois Commerce Commission argue that such payments shouldn't be included in electric rates. They're urging the ICC, which regulates utilities, to deny the request, part of ComEd's proposed $361-million rate hike."

So . . . senior executives aren't properly incentivized? Maybe shocking them every few hours would help.

Taking Stock
"Shares of Sun-Times Media Group Inc. stopped trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday after triggering a rule that halts transactions when a stock falls below $1.05," the Tribune reported on Monday.

"Trading halted on the floor of the NYSE when the stock opened at $1, down 11 cents from Thursday's close. It continued trading on electronic platforms and other exchanges."

There's also a rule halting trading when a newspaper stock is projected to fall below the cost of a single-copy off the rack.

*

Wall Street has given up on the Sun-Times, Bob Reed writes.

The paper is heading toward penny stock territory, or possibly bankruptcy.

Maybe Obama should buy it. But then, why buy the cow when you're getting the milk for free?

Simon Says
"Cook County hospital chief Dr. Robert Simon said Monday morning he would not reimburse taxpayers for gas costs he incurs driving a county vehicle to see his family in Michigan each weekend unless he was ordered to do it," the Sun-Times reports.

A few hours after making that statement, Todd Stroger ordered him to pay up. But Simon isn't going down without a fight.

"Simon defended his actions, saying he's actually saving money, as previous hospital chiefs have had drivers - a perk he says he never used."

Simon makes his case further in a letter to the paper that demonstrates he's also saving taxpayers from the overuse of common sense and integrity, though he is taking advantage of a perk allowing cheap self-regard.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Incentivized.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:40 AM | Permalink

What I Watched Last Night

What can you say about an Academy Award show so hopelessly lame and lifeless that even the normally-interesting "Who Died Last Year?" segment is populated mostly by agents?

That was Sunday night's show in a nutshell. In fact, the most entertaining part of the Oscars didn't even happen during the Oscars. It came a short time later, when Jimmy Kimmel Live presented "I'm Fucking Ben Affleck" in response to Kimmel girlfriend Sarah Silverman's video "I'm Fucking Matt Damon."

There have been very few moments in recent television history as piss-your-pants funny as that, and very few people short of Bob Geldof who can put together a reprise of "We Are The World" that has nothing whatsoever to do with starving Africans or broke farmers.

Kimmel's segment on actors who will probably soon be dead and mentioned during the Oscars ("You will be missed. Eventually.") was just as priceless.

Sunday night's Oscars telecast did provide some notable moments, though. Here were some you might have been smart enough to miss.

*

Someone failed to tell Tilda Swinton there's a reason her hairstyle is rarely seen beyond ancient Roman Empire statuary or Claymation models, and dyed a color not found anywhere in nature or outside Bozo's dressing room. Despite that, she lives up to her award for Best Supporting Actress Who Got Dressed in the Dark because she appears onstage without makeup, her eyebrows, and a sleeve from one of the most hideous togas ever seen outside the gates of the ancient Roman Empire.

Swinton also becomes the first actress in Oscar history to use an acceptance speech to pay homage to her agent's ass. She really did.

*

It wasn't so much Nicole Kidman's dress, really. It was her decision to show off her Learning Annex class project on making chain mail that she gave up on halfway through.

*

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova perform "Falling Slowly," the Best Original Song nobody's heard from yet another movie nobody saw in the past year to show what can happen to an acoustic guitar when you use it as a shield during a drive-by or wait too long for the landlord to do something about those termites in your apartment.

Oddly enough, all Hansard needed to do was turn around and choose something from an entire boatload of brand spankin' new guitars suspended in mid-air directly behind him.

*

Proving that the American film industry can indeed be far too polite to the wrong old people, the Academy allows Robert Boyle to give a speech so long and rambling that the entire viewing public catches right up to him.

*

Is it just me, or does Colin Farrell just make it seem like every foreign actor looks like he just rolled out of a Dumpster five minutes ago?

*

See? Ron Popeil was right! John Travolta is living proof that there is at least one man in America fucking goofy enough to buy spray-on hair in a can.

Later that evening, the Church of Scientology issues a statement denying that it eventually forces its celebrity members to appear in public looking really, really stupid. It also issues a statement denying any involvement in writing the jokes used during the telecast just in case everyone wants to start blaming the Church for that, too.

*

While boatloads of money can indeed buy love, presenter Tom Hanks proved that it won't buy more sleep you obviously so desperately need. Hanks spends the rest of the night being accosted by fellow presenters mistaking the giant bags under his eyes for their celebrity gift bags.

*

And in front of countless television sets across the nation, legions of women who spent decades blowing off the Coen brothers because they were too dirty or geeky were still thinking there isn't enough money in the world that would make them do either one of them.

-

For more outstanding Oscar coverage, see Mystery Oscar Theater 2008!

-

What did you watch last night? Submissions to What I Watched Last Night welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:23 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

* "Did anyone just see Gary Busey grope Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney on the red carpet on E!? Talk about Darwin's waiting room," our very own Julia Gray writes in her Oscar roundup. If you didn't, you can catch up via the video.

* "What was that sound? It couldn't be fireworks could it? In the middle of February? Nope, it was the sound of Bears fans' heads exploding," writes our very own Jim Coffman in SportsMonday.

* "If the Straight Talk Express is rockin', don't come knockin,'" is just one of many slogans we've learned the McCain campaign is considering.

Today's Lesson
"New dropout-prevention and re-enrollment strategies to be launched today by Chicago Public Schools are based on what the district is calling groundbreaking data, but that assertion is being disputed by school watchdog groups," the Sun-Times reports.

One recent study shows that 44 percent of incoming freshmen in 2001 dropped out by senior year. Another study shows one predictor of those dropouts: 73 percent were "over age" when they entered high school.

School reform groups long critical of the school system's dramatic move under Mayor Daley to curtail social promotion and hold back students say they've been vindicated.

I tend to agree - and, in fact, the district has quietly eased its retention policy over the years after scoring public relations points by talking tough - but on the other hand, these students are clearly the most vulnerable and may not have made it anyway.

Still, holding students back in high school should be reserved for only the most necessary cases. Removing students from their social group likely does more harm than good.

Clout Class
"The youngest son of NBA legend Michael Jordan entered Whitney Young Magnet High last fall under a little-known loophole that gives principals of Chicago's elite-eight college prep schools wide-ranging discretion - on top of new powers they could get this week," the Sun-Times reports.

"Marcus Jordan was a junior-year transfer.

"That means he never had to sit through the freshman admission test that eighth-graders take for Chicago's college prep high schools. He was exempt from being judged by a mathematical formula involving tests, attendance and grades that is used by Young and seven other CPS college preps to decide freshmen admission.

"Instead, as a transfer, Marcus' fate was left up to the principal of Young, an academic and basketball powerhouse.

"'Transfers into selective-enrollment high schools are entirely principal discretion,' said CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn."

Whitney Young Principal Joyce Kenner put it this way: "[The Jordan family] has done a great deal for this city."

And this city has done a great deal for the Jordans. We made him rich and famous; rich and famous enough, in fact, to clout his kid into a magnet school.

Bonus Lesson
"Week after week, Cook County hospital chief Dr. Robert Simon painfully tells County Board members there's no waste and no frills in his bare-bones hospital operation," the Sun-Times reports.

"Yet, on weekends, Simon uses taxpayer money to drive his county-issued car 320-miles, roundtrip, to and from his family home."

At least someone still makes house calls.

Air Gary
"The city of Chicago, which opposes plans by the state of Illinois and the FAA to build a new commercial airport near Peotone in Will County, also has provided [the Gary, Indiana airport] about $2.1 million a year since 1995 to support airport operations and expansion," the Tribune reminds us this morning.

That's almost as much - $3 million - as the city's measly contribution to funding the CTA.

Foreclosure Fright
"The new buyers of a rundown graystone on the South Side showed up Jan. 9 to look at the house they won at a foreclosure auction. They took the plywood off the front door and went inside to make sure the utilities had been shut off. Then they called the police," the Tribune reported on Sunday.

"Sitting upright in the corner of a bedroom off the kitchen was a human skeleton in a red tracksuit. Next to him lay a dead dog. Neighbors told police the corpse was almost certainly Randy Johnson, a middle-age man who lived alone in the North Kenwood house.

"The cause of Johnson's death has not yet been determined, but it is just one of the mysteries about 4578 S. Oakenwald Ave. Somehow, Johnson's house was transferred three times to new owners without anyone noticing he was inside. It's a story involving forged deeds, a corrupt title company and a South Side family that has been under investigation for mortgage fraud."

Wilco Wonder
The Tribune would have been much better off posting the cool graphic of this that appeared in print instead of such a frustrating text version on its website, but the distillation of how Wilco played all 82 songs from its six albums over five nights is tres cool.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Be there.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

McCain for McPresident

A Beachwood investigation has learned that the following slogans and talking points are under consideration for the remainder of John McCain's presidential campaign.

*

1. One-term president, two-term Wal-Mart greeter.

2. McCain: Now with less POW angst.

3. War, not platitudes.

4. McCain for McPresident. McNow.

5. 99 billion creepy smiles served.

6. I did not have Senatorial relations with my girlfriend.

7. If the Straight Talk Express is rockin', don't come knockin'.

8. Added bonus: Mrs. McCain 200% more MILF-y

9. No, we McCan't.

10. I still believe in a place called the Panama Canal Zone.

11. I'm only a McRepublican, not a real one.

12. Under my administration, lobbying will become a dirty word.

13. Who are you gonna believe, the New York Times or your lyin' eyes?

14. The other guy is black!

15. Give McWar a chance.

*

- Eric Emery, Tim Willette, Steve Rhodes


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

Mystery Oscar Theater 2008!

The Beachwood live-blogs the Oscars. Sort of.

*

TIM: I won't be tuning in, but I am interested in the results - reportedly every Oscar winner this year also earns a superdelegate spot at the Democrats' convention. There will be blood.

JULIA: Did anyone just see Gary Busey grope Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney on the red carpet on E!? Talk about Darwin's waiting room . . .

TIM: Not yet - which award is it up for? (I believe the actual title is The Groping of Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney on the Red Carpet on E! by the Graying Lothario Gary Busey, or: Dr. Strangelove.)

STEVE: It's about the movies, but it's on TV!

*

JULIA: What are Kimora Lee Simmons and Miley Cyrus doing on the red carpet? Kimora looks like Imelda Marcos and Guiliana DePandi Rancic has a large noggin. Note to Kimora: No one cares that you have two kids and can't wear a size 0. It ain't about you, honey.

- Patrick Dempsey, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Javier Bardem - yum.

- Jennifer Hudson looks like she's wearing a shower curtain.

- Tilda Swinton looks like a pre-pubescent boy who carries water for the high school football team.

- Colin Farrell could use a shower and perhaps an STD test.

- Heidi Klum was wearing a large decorative wicker ball on the top of her head that would have looked more at home in a ceramic bowl in a Pottery Barn catalog shoot.

- John Travolta, GI Joe, Curious George, and the Seinfeld Bee all have the same barber.

- Anne Hathaway looked like she just won the Kentucky Derby.

- Teenager Ellen Page - wearing a terrible 1970's Mother-of-the-Bride sundress - was the only person who looked more matronly than Daniel Day Lewis, who was wearing his Mother-of-the-Bride earrings.

- Rebecca Miller was wearing the biggest brooch Claire's Accessories sells.

- Kristen Chenoweth started out on the red carpet wearing some curtains from a funeral home and for her performance changed into a dress that looks like my bedroom floor two days into one of my yearly sinus infections.

- And Marion Cotillard looked like a poached salmon in aspic.

LET HE CEREMONIES BEGIN!

7:00 - Regis Philbin is hosting ABC's Red Carpet and of course he can't be on the air without mentioning Notre Dame no matter what the subject is he's covering. Give it rest, Reg no one cares.

7:17 - What the hell did Cameron Diaz just say?

7:18 - Regis interviewing Oscar's oldest bleacher bum, Sarah Golden and I wonder how many days in advance she stakes her claim. Golden hails from Canoga Park, so knowing from first-hand experience what that little hamlet is like, I'm sure she'll start saving her seat for the 2009 Oscars next week.

7:22 - Spike Lee looks like a used-car salesman from Tarzana.

7:24 - These interviews are duller than John Travolta's performance in Hairspray. What, did Diane Sawyer write the questions?

7:28 - Thank God for Jack Nicholson. Front and center.

Editor's Note: After making the requisite Jack Nicholson sex joke, host Jon Stewart tells the audience, "Okay, now that we're done with the preliminaries . . . "

7:29 - I really miss Kathy Griffin.

*

7:33 - Stewart: Where's the make-up sex after settling the contentious writer's strike? Does this town need a hug? Glad that Bruce Vilanch is back in business. Anyone who still references Dorothy Hamill's wedge deserves an Oscar.

7:36 - Ding! Ding! Ding! We have our first political joke! Bill Clinton's favorite film is Away From Her. Oh, ha ha ha, I'm dying . . .

7:39 - Political joke #3: Oscar is 80 this year, which makes him the front-runner for the Republican nomination.

7:40 - Gaydolph Titler? Holy crap that's funny.

7:41 - First presenter: Jennifer Garner announcing Best Achievement in Costume Design. Elizabeth the Golden Age wins. What is it with costume designers who can't design decent costumes for themselves to wear on perhaps the biggest night of their lives? The winner looked like she just came from a quilting bee where crystal meth was served along with iced tea and finger sandwiches.

7:47 - George Clooney presenting . . . who cares. Hot damn, he looks good. Wow. I wonder if he's thinking about me right now.

7:52 - Uh oh! The first mix-up of the night. Or, the first instance of writer's block. Anne Hathaway and Steve Carrell presenting Best Animated Feature Film, not documentary like Carrell thought. Do they draw straws for this stuff or something?

7:56 - Katherine Heigl presenting Best Achievement in Make Up. Editor's Note: no political joke here?

7:59 - First performance of a Best Song nominee. Amy Adams sings "Happy Working Song" from Enchanted in which she stars. Editor's Note: No writers' strike joke here?

8:03 - Showing the past Oscar wins of Michael Douglas and his child bride, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

8:07 - The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) presenting Best Achievement in Visual Effects.Editor's Note: Will he present the award to his own body?

8:10 - Cate Blanchett presenting for Best Achievement in Art Direction. She's the coolest actress around. I'll never understand why she didn't win for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth the First (or Bob Dylan the Fifth, or whichever one she was). She lost to Gwyneth Paltrow. What has Ms. Paltrow achieved since then? She named her child after fruit, practices yoga and maintains a gut-wrenching macrobiotic diet. That's it. Sure, Shakespeare in Love was great, but Elizabeth was a much better film. Oh, and I don't know who won this category. Look it up if you're interested.

8:16 - Jennifer Hudson presenting Best Performance By an Actor in a Supporting Role. I'm surprised that Mark Twain didn't win for his part in Into the Wild.

8:23 - "What a Four Hour Writerless Oscar Would've Looked Like" montage. Ouch.

8:24 - Felicity is introducing the second nominated song from the film August Rush. This is the sorority film, right?

8:29 - Fresh from his stint at Trembling Acres, Owen Wilson, presenting Best Live Action Short Film. Another Frenchman wins. Take that Dick Cheney!

8:31 - Oh jeez . . . the obligatory animated character on the Oscar stage pandering to the audience. Some folks are stupid enough to believe you're actually on stage! Yawn.

This time it's Jerry Seinfeld as his character from the forgettable Bee Movie. Editor's Note: It would've been funnier with Michael Richards.

8:35 - Alan Arkin presenting for Best Performance By an Actress in a Supportive Role. I hope the winner does a serpentine as she's heading up to the podium to accept her award. Wow! The red-headed boy won!

8:44 - Jessica Alba rehashing the awards that are so boring a separate ceremony was held for them earlier in the month.

8:46 - Josh Brolin and James McAvoy presenting Best Adapted Screenplay. The Coen Brothers win again! They won their first Oscar for Fargo and during their acceptance speech we learn they've only adapted Homer and Cormac McCarthy.

8:53 - Miley Cyrus introducing the third nominated song "That's How You Know" from Enchanted performed by a rare entity in Hollywood, a petite blonde woman.

9:01 - Dame Judi Dench and Halle Berry presenting . . . oops! Wacky! The writers are showing that they've still got it! That Bruce Vilanch sure is clever. It's actually the separated-at-birth twins Seth Rogan and that zaftig dude from Knocked Up and The 40-Year Old Virgin, presenting for Best Sound Editing and Mixing.

9:08 - Forest Whitaker presenting the Oscar for an Actress in a Leading Role. Marion Cotillard wins for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose. Wow, the Academy is saying a big "Fuck You" to the Bush Administratio . . . I wonder how many Academy members will be audited this year.

9:19 - Colin Farrell is introducing a nominated song from some Irish film that no one saw.

9:23 - Jack Nicholson and his shit-eating grin give a re-cap of the 79 Best Picture winners. Time to check my e-mail and stretch my legs.

9:28 - Renee Zellweger presenting Best Achievement in Film Editing. Funny bit of trivia: Roderick Jaynes doesn't exist; the Coen Brothers edit their own films.

9:31 - Nicole Kidman is pregnant? You can't tell and I'd be willing to bet she's due tomorrow. Anyway, she's talking about something but I can't concentrate on because all of my attention is focused on that heinous necklace (okay, we'll call it that for now) that's draped around her neck. Also, why is her hair so blonde? It makes her look washed out. Or, maybe that pale visage is Scientology residue.

9:43 - Penelope Cruz presenting Foreign Language film. Some European film won. I don't know anything about it since I just took a brief nap.

9:45 - Patrick Dempsey is introducing yet another song from Enchanted. I didn't quite catch the title but I think it has Disney-esque words like "love," "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride," and "cast member" in it.

9:49 - John Travolta and his receding hairline are presenting Best Original Song. Call me crazy but I think a song from Enchanted will win. Well, I was way off. That song from that Irish film no one saw won. I'll bet Walt Disney is rolling over in his cryogenic chamber.

9:57 - Cameron Diaz is stumbling through her speech about cinematography. It's not a hard word to say. C-I-N-E-M-A-T-O-G-R-A-P-H-Y. Robert Elswit wins for There Will Be Blood. I'm glad Mr. Elswit thanked editor, Dylan Tichenor since Tichenor made it look so great. There's a reason why "We'll fix it in post" is more than just a saying.

10:01 - Hillary Swank doing the dead appreciation thing.

10:08 - Amy Adams presenting the Oscar for Best Original Score. Atonement wins. I hope the music is better than the book.

10:12 - Tom Hanks and some soldiers in Iraq presenting Best Documentary Short Film. My question is, how did PriceWaterhouseCoopers get the envelope over to Iraq? The winners aren't known until a few days before the ceremony, right? Is there a ballot issue we should be concerned about?

10:13 - Best Documentary Feature: a film about a taxi ride. I'm surprised Sicko didn't get the nod.

10:20 - I would give anything for an "Uma, Oprah, Oprah, Uma" moment right now.

10:24 - Harrison Ford is looking a little long in the tooth and quite sleepy. Hurry up now and announce the best Original Screenplay before you fall asleep onstage and hit your noggin on the microphone. I can't believe Diablo Cody won for a script where the dialogue was so unbelievable. "Honest to blog?" Puh-leeze.

10:29 - The Queen is presenting the Best Actor Oscar. Bill the Butcher wins again.

10:40 - Martin Scorsese presenting the Oscar for Best Director or in this case, Best Coens.

10:45 - Denzel and the Best Motion Picture. The Coen Brothers do it again.

*

Minnesota Mavens
Being the chamber of commerce-like local booster that I am, I'd also just like to point out the heavy Minnesota flavor to this year's elite films. - Don Jacobson

1. The Coen Brothers. From St. Louis Park, Minn., where once the snows melt this spring they will return to shoot their next film, a comedy about a suburban Minneapolis schlub in the '60s. All indications is it sounds a lot like their father, a University of Minnesota economics professor. Ethan Coen, scouting locations, has already expressed regret that his childhood Red Owl grocery store has been torn down. Red Owl meant a lot to all of us.

2. Diablo Cody. An honorary Minnesotan (and native Chicagoan) who got her start at the local alterna-rag City Pages. Minneapolis is also where she did her infamous stripping. We embrace her nakedness.

3. David Carr, a Minnesotan if ever there ever a Minnesotan there was, is now the official Academy Awards reporter & video blogger for the New York Times. He was on the Coen 'n' Cody tips from the get-go.

*

Message From Marfa
Tom Michael writes: Minnesota? What about Marfa? A big Oscar winner this year. Our little town of 2,000, the site of No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood.

*

Behind the Oscars
"It may surprise some people to learn that the pinnacle award of the Oscar evening, Best Picture, wasn't given out amongst the first Oscars. In 1927, two awards were given, one for Best Production to William Wellman's Wings, and Most Artistic Production to F. W. Murnau's Sunrise," Rod Heath writes at Ferdy On Films. "The Oscars were established basically as an exercise in personal aggrandizement by Louis B. Mayer and his fellow studio cronies."

Heath's take on what's happened since is a must-read.

"If the Oscars were honest about the audience it services, they would more resemble the MTV Film Awards and give out Oscars for Best Explosion," he writes. "Only the French give prizes to four-hour-long movies shot with handheld cameras about crack addicts with epileptic children and magic-realist fables about flying goats who represent the history of Uzbekistan."

*

"If ever there was a category that seems almost entirely irrelevant to the Oscars, it is Live Action Short Film," Marilyn Ferdinand writes. "These nominees have been the province primarily of first-time directors, perhaps even projects for graduation from film school. They don't get general releases in theaters, at least, not here in the States. In fact, the only short I can remember seeing in conjunction with regular theatrical runs was The Heart of the World (2000) by Canadian director and cult favorite Guy Maddin. In fact, it got played over and over with various films until I was pretty damn sick of it.

"However, the very first films ever made were live action shorts. An entire industry was built on these short stories of the screen, which may be one reason the Academy has been reluctant to eliminate this category from its Oscar ballot."

*

Oscar Snark
St. Fugmo's Fire.

*

"What can you say about an Academy Award show so hopelessly lame and lifeless that even the normally-interesting Who Died Last Year? segment is populated mostly by agents?" writes our very own Scott Buckner in What I Watched Last Night.

-

- Tim Willette, Bethany Lankin and Steve Rhodes contributing

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:08 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

What was that sound? It couldn't be fireworks could it? In the middle of February? Nope, it was the sound of Bears fans' heads exploding.

Okay, okay, there were no reports of actual cranial combustion. But surely the loved ones of a significant contingent of Midway Monster backers had to be wondering if someone had bought a new clock over the weekend . . . because something was ticking.

It was beyond classic that the first Bears free agent signing this off-season (Alex Brown was under contract for next season before signing an extension earlier last week) was the guy so many fans hate so intensely.

Rex Grossman is back and if the time bombs didn't go off over the weekend they almost certainly will at some point this off-season. After all, the Bears front office continues to exhibit a remarkable willingness to antagonize wide swaths of its most devoted followers. Maybe the draft will do it - when the Bears decline to take the best signal-caller available with either of their first two picks. Or maybe it won't be until training camp when some sort of Grossman-related intrigue will roil the waters.

At this point it doesn't appear as though there will be any immediate, widespread response. Grossman-haters have apparently not allowed suppressed frustration to reach explosive levels - nor does there appear to be any sort of move toward organized dissent, like, say, a march on Halas Hall.

* I suppose I should insert at some point that I actually like the fact that the Bears re-signed one of the two Super Bowl-qualifying quarterbacks in franchise history .Grossman has the second-best shot of leading the Bears to the promised playoff land in the coming season (behind the Purdue powerhouse himself, Kyle Orton). No one else has the kind of experience in Ron Turner's system that they do (you remember Ron, right? The second Super Bowl-qualifying offensive coordinator in team history?).

* The Eagles aren't going to trade Donovan McNabb, the free agents aren't good enough and anyone the Bears might take in the draft, even in the first round, won't be ready to lead them to a playoff victory this season. A second-year man won't be ready to lead them to that level next season either.

But why did Grossman have to be the first free-agent signing? Why weren't Jerry Angelo and his staff spending their time on Bernard Berrian or Lance Briggs? Fortunately on Sunday word came through that the Bears had also extended the contract of tight end Desmond Clark. As long as they've taken care of their second-best tight end, they should definitely be good to go.

And now for a short trip through the Wide, Wide World of . . .

* I wouldn't want to be Jim Boylan right about now. How does the Bulls coach possibly decide who gets how much playing time, especially in the backcourt? It starts with who starts. Kirk Hinrich is still the primary point guard. But who is No. 2? Thabo Sefolosha has stepped up of late but he certainly doesn't shoot well enough consistently enough to deserve the starting spot. New arrival Larry Hughes certainly expects to start but you need to play Ben Gordon to score enough to win games, and to showcase Gordon for a potential off-season trade. And you've got to get Chris Duhon minutes. And we'd like to see at least a little of the local guy, Shannon Brown (Proviso East), who also came over from Cleveland.

Oh by the way, can anyone in this group play defense? The Bulls may have scored an amazing 135 points on Friday against the Nuggets, but even more importantly they gave up 110-plus points twice over the weekend (and not surprisingly the second defensive non-effort resulted in a loss to the Rockets). I remember when Hinrich could still play defense, all the way back in the 2006-07 season. I miss those days.

And who starts at forward around center Joakim Noah? Luol Deng probably gets one off the spots but with the arrival of Hughes' 6-10 trade partner Drew Gooden, do you now bench Tyrus Thomas? Thomas still appears to be the only Bull with the sort of transcendent natural talent which, combined with consistent hard work, could make him a star. And what about the team's best shooter, Andres Nocioni?

* Hey Lou, don't turn Bobby Howry into LaTroy Hawkins. You know Howry can get guys out in the eighth inning. He proved that time and time again last year. Why do you want to fool around and fall in love with him as the potential closer? Dusty tried that with Hawkins, of course. You remember, right? And it was all downhill for that eighth inning specialist from there.

* I had a chance to take a close look at the Hawks' wild and woolly victory at the Kings Saturday afternoon. That was the one where the Hawks scored four goals in 4:06 of the second period to seemingly take command (they led 5-1 well into the third) only to temporarily blow it in unbelievable fashion. They allowed the Kings to tie it at 5 with 13 seconds left in the third period. Fortunately, the Hawks pulled it out in OT. The problem was that by sending the game to overtime the Kings, one of the Hawks' rivals for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, earned a point in the standings.

Patrick Sharp flubbed a breakaway that would have almost certainly clinched a regulation-time victory over the Kings. But he knocked in the game winner in overtime after having scored the Hawks' first goal in the first period. Then Sharp scored his 30th and 31st goals of the season in Sunday's 6-3 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champ Ducks. How ridiculous does that still sound by the way, more than six months after Anaheim claimed the championship?

While Sharp has been awesome, Martin Havlat hasn't been nearly good enough. The six-million (a year) dollar man knocked in his 10th goal on Saturday. At the very least, he should have twice that many tallies. The fact the Hawks haven't long since dropped out of playoff contention despite Havlat's struggles is yet more proof that, surprise, rookies Patrick Kane and especially Jonathan Toews are really, really good. Toews scored one and assisted beautifully on another against the Kings, then had three assists against the Ducks.

-

Jim Coffman brings you the city's best sports round-up in this space every Monday.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:20 AM | Permalink

February 23, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

For the first time in a great while, Chicago doesn't have the worst weather in the country. You get out there and enjoy it; we'll keep our eyes on the news.

Market Update
News broke this week that Americans are packing $2.2 trillion in credit card debt. Which is, like, four Iraq wars. Not that we're trying to give anyone ideas or anything.

Beachwood Picks
There's only one show in town this weekend, and that's the Academy Awards. Here are the official Weekend Desk picks for this year's Oscars.

Best Leading Performances
John McCain, There Will Be Blood
Barack Obama, Away From Her

Best Supporting Performances
John Edwards, I'm Not There
Ralph Nader, Into The Wild

Best Picture
No Country For Old Men

Triumvirate Track
It's time again to check in on our favorite terrible threesome. The United States has pledged to intervene to prevent any further atrocities on the part of Paris Hilton. Meanwhile, Lindsay Lohan has launched a brazen attack on America's central nervous system. Not to be outdone, Britney Spears has stayed in the news thanks to rare access to her pride and joy. And folks, it's not pretty.

Westward, Ho!
Fresh off a major funding coup, the CTA is poised to colonize DuPage County with its unique brand of congestion reduction. Because, honestly now, what would be a better replacement for the Hillside Strangler than a healthy dose of Doomsday?

Hot to Spot
And finally this week, duh.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:22 AM | Permalink

February 22, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

We have a really funny new Mystery Debate Theater today. Check it out, I implore you!

Now I'm off to tape Week in Review, which you can watch tonight on Channel 11 at 7 p.m., so there won't be a new Papers column until Monday. The inimitable Natasha Julius will be in this space tomorrow with her Weekend Desk Report.

And Ferdy on Films is really rockin' these days, make it a habit.

*

The [Thursday] Papers
Jeez, maybe Obama is divine. Every opponent he faces turns out to have a sex scandal in their closet. Spooky good fortune!

The big New York Times story alleging an improper relationship between McCain and a lobbyist eight years ago was the subject of speculation on the Drudge Report and Politico last December.

Showergate
This is journalism!

My favorite part: "Okay, we've dealt with the soap . . . oh, towels!"

Here is the accompanying column.

Dirty Bird
"An attorney for jailed political fundraiser Tony Rezko made an emotional plea for his release today, saying he's being held in 'degrading' conditions where inmates must share underwear," AP reports.

The Beachwood Prison Style Affairs Council weighs in.

1. That's why Rezko will do a sweetheart deal for a 12-pack of new Hanes underwear for a pack of smokes.

2. He's seen London. He's seen France. Now he's sharing underpants.

3. And he prefers a 36, loose. Usually something in a bikini.

4. At the same time.

5. With Mickie "Underwear" Basciano.

6. "You know that bit about how nothing comes between me and my BVDs? If only, my friend . . . If only."

7. "I support Sen. Obama because he's the candidate of change, and I'm sure looking forward to that - a change of shorts, for starters!"

8. "We only have 500 pairs of boxers for 800 inmates - do the math! And I'm the low guy on the clothesline."

9. Obamamania is so exciting you constantly need a new set of underwear. Fired up and ready for fresh boxers!

10. Record of wiretap, Payphone #4, 2/18/08 17:30:

INDIVIDUAL A: Papa John's, can I take your order?
REZKO: Yeah, I'd like a large thin crust with sausage and a side order of size 42 shorts.
INDIVIDUAL A: That you, boss?

11. Did the attorney make the underwear plea in a brief?

Reader Submissions!
12. When Rezko gets out of jail maybe he can take over as the Fruit of the Loom apple.

13. The prisoners really look forward to Fridays. That's the day they get to change underwear. Cell Block A gets to change with Cell Block B, Cell Block C gets to change with Cell Block D . . .

The Clinton Scandals
"Almost everything you may think you know about Bill and Hillary Clinton . . . rests on facts' that are somewhere between highly dubious and demonstrably false. Far from being the result of muckraking reporting by a vigorous and independent press, what 'the Clinton scandals' amount to is possibly the most politically charged case of journalistic malpractice in recent American history."

Unless you are the Tribune editorial page, which dares to go where even Ken Starr would not tread.

Plump Payroll
Tribune Shopping Advisor Ellen Warren gives colleague Jon Yates a makeover. The cost of his three new (lame) outfits? $1,176, $1,412, and $1,200.

If Tribune reporters can afford that, Sam Zell has a larger problem on his hands than I suspected.

Predictable Playbook
"McCain Attacks Obama Here: Calls Him 'Most Liberal' In Senate During Visit."

As Media Matters has noted, "Among the 'liberal' votes Sen. Barack Obama took that purportedly earned him 'the most liberal senator in 2007' label in the National Journal's 2007 Vote Ratings were: To implement the 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations, provide more children with health insurance, permit federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and maintain a federal minimum wage."

Sex Fiend
Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell has every right in the world to defend Michelle Obama even if the would-be First Lady said something kind of stupid. I really don't care; not everything everybody says is always articulated perfectly, and I'm not one much for this sort of gotcha game. I think we all knew what Michelle Obama meant, and it's perfectly reasonable.

But why in the world does Mitchell find it necessary to inject Monica Lewinsky into her defense - while attacking Cindy McCain? To wit:

"'I just wanted to make the statement that I have, and always will be, proud of my country,' [Cindy McCain] said," Mitchell notes.

"Talk about empty rhetoric.

"If Cindy's telling the truth, then she was the only person in America bursting with pride as the world watched former President Bill Clinton's presidency nearly get derailed over hanky-panky."

It's possible Mitchell means to attack Republicans for impeaching Clinton over a blowjob, but not entirely clear. But why is that the example she chose?

The latent hostility of Obamacrats who have suddenly decided Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh were right about the Clintons is astonishing.

Sweet and Sour
I might be missing something, but doesn't the math make it nearly as unlikely that Obama will reach 2,025 delegates as Clinton?

Web Woes
Is it just me or is the design of the Tribune website going in reverse?

*

"For years, as newspaper Web sites became deeper, richer and more complex, Tribune's sites fell behind, limiting their ability to draw readers and advertisers," the New York Times noted in a profile of villainous Los Angeles Times publisher David Hiller.

"Just last week, the Times Web site added the ability to put hyperlinks in its articles, something other papers have had for as long as a decade."

Coming next week: An electronic "mail" system that allows reporters send written messages to each other and the public.

The Beachwood Tip Line: E-Z.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

Mystery Debate Theater 2008

Once again the Mystery Debate Theater team of Steve Rhodes, Tim Willette and Andrew Kingsford settled in for a night of rollickin' good times, brought to us by CNN and Univision. Well, I don't know where Andrew was last night and me and Tim were in our separate quarters, but we managed to squeeze out another round of commentary that easily surpasses that of highly-paid pundits in both wit and wisdom. As usual, this transcript is edited for space, clarity and sanity.

*

OBAMA: The problem we have is that Washington has become a place where good ideas go to die.

STEVE: As opposed to, say, Springfield.

OBAMA: They go to die in Washington, because too many politicians are interested in scoring political points rather than bridging differences in order to get things done.

STEVE: As opposed to, say, Springfield.

*

UNIVISION'S JORGE RAMOS: Would you be willing to sit down with Raul Castro or whoever leads the Cuban dictatorship when you take office at least just once to get a measure of the man?

CLINTON: I would look for opportunities to try to make that happen and to create the momentum that might eventually lead to a presidential visit. But there has to be evidence that, indeed, the changes are real, that they're taking place, and that the Cuban people will finally be given an opportunity to have their future determined by themselves.

RAMOS: Very simply, would you meet with him or not, with Raul Castro?

STEVE: That's Spanish for "Answer the question!"

CLINTON: I would not meet with him until there was evidence that change was happening because I think it's important that they demonstrate clearly that they are committed to change the direction. Then I think, you know, something like diplomatic encounters and negotiations over specifics could take place.

But we've had this conversation before, Senator Obama and myself, and I believe that we should have full diplomatic engagement, where appropriate. But a presidential visit should not be offered and given without some evidence that it will demonstrate the kind of progress that is in our interest and, in this case, in the interest of the Cuban people.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN: Senator Obama, just to follow up, you had said in a previous CNN debate that you would meet with the leaders of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, among others. So presumably you would be willing to meet with the new leader of Cuba.

OBAMA: That's correct. I would meet without preconditions, although Senator Clinton is right that there has to be preparation.

STEVE: You know, non-precondition preparations.

OBAMA: It is very important for us to make sure that there was an agenda and on that agenda was human rights, releasing of political prisoners . . .

TIM: Theirs or ours?

OBAMA: . . . opening up the press . . .

STEVE: You know, a non-precondition agenda.

*

OBAMA: I would not normalize relations until we started seeing some of the progress that Senator Clinton talked about.

BROWN: But that's different from your position back in 2003. You called U.S. policy towards Cuba a miserable failure, and you supported normalizing relations. So you've back-tracked now.

OBAMA: Well, I support the eventual normalization, and it's absolutely true that I think our policy has been a failure. So I think that we have to shift policy. I think our goal has to be ultimately normalization, but that's going to happen in steps.

STEVE: She's right, he backtracked.

OBAMA: I recall what John F. Kennedy once said . . .

STEVE: Ich bin ein backtracker?

OBAMA: . . . that we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate.

STEVE: And we all know how well JFK did with Cuba.

TIM: I guess the Bay of Pigs was a failed negotiation.

BROWN: Senator Clinton, do you want a quick response?

CLINTON: There has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting without preconditions with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations, and it should be part of a process. But I don't think it should be offered in the beginning because I think that undermines the capacity for us to actually take the measure of somebody like Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad and others.

And as President Kennedy said, he wouldn't be afraid to negotiate but he would expect there to be a lot of preparatory work done.

STEVE: A lot of preparation.

*

JOHN KING, CNN: Senator Obama, tell us as specifically as you can how would a President Obama be different than a President Clinton in managing the nation's economy.

OBAMA: Senator Clinton and I both agree on many of these issues. The question people are going to have to ask is, how do we get it done? And it is my strong belief that the changes are only going to come about if we're able to form a working coalition for change, because people who are benefiting from the current code are going to resist, the special interests and lobbyists are going to resist. And I think it has to be a priority for whoever the next president is to be able to overcome the dominance of the special interests in Washington, to bring about the kinds of economic changes that I'm talking about, and that's an area where Senator Clinton and I may have a slight difference.

STEVE: If they both essentially agree on the issues, how come only one is deemed the change candidate - and it's the conciliator!

TIM: I want you to get up now, go to your window, open it, stick your head out and yell, "Yes, we can!"

*

RAMOS: Federal raids by immigration enforcement officials on homes and businesses have generated a great deal of fear and anxiety in the Hispanic community and have divided the family of some of the 3 million U.S.-born children who have at least one undocumented parent. Would you consider stopping these raids once you take office until comprehensive immigration reform can be passed?

CLINTON: I would consider that, except in egregious situations where it would be appropriate to take the actions you're referring to. But when we see what's been happening with literally babies being left with no one to take care of them, children coming home from school, no responsible adult left - that is not the America that I know . . .

TIM: I want you to go to your window . . .

BROWN: Senator Obama, is your position the same as Hillary Clinton's?

STEVE: Yes, but I'm more likable.

OBAMA: It is absolutely critical that we tone down the rhetoric when it comes to the immigration debate, because there has been an undertone that has been ugly.

STEVE: So on day one I would call Rush Limbaugh into my office and tell him to knock it off. Now, on day two . . .

KING: I want to stay on the issue, but move to a controversial item that was not held up when the immigration debate collapsed in Washington, and that is the border fence.

Senator, back in 2006 you voted for the construction of that fence. As you know, progress has been slow. As president of the United States, would you commit tonight that you will finish the fence and speed up the construction, or do you think it's time for a president of the United States to raise his or her hand and say, you know what, wait a minute, let's think about this again; do we really want to do this?

CLINTON: Well, I think both Senator Obama and I voted for that as part of the immigration debate.

And having been along the border for the last week or so - in fact, last night I was at the University of Texas at Brownsville, and this is how absurd this has become under the Bush administration because, you know, there is a smart way to protect our borders and there is a dumb way to protect our borders.

And what I learned last night, when I was there with Congressman Ortiz, is that the University of Texas at Brownsville would have part of its campus cut off.

This is the kind of absurdity that we're getting from this administration. I know it because I've been fighting with them about the northern border. Their imposition of passports and other kinds of burdens are separating people from families, interfering with business and commerce and movement of goods and people.

So what I've said is that I would say, wait a minute. We need to review this. There may be places where a physical barrier is appropriate. I think when both of us voted for this we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense it would be considered, but as with so much, the Bush administration has gone off the deep end, and they are unfortunately coming up with a plan that I think is counterproductive.

So I would have a review. I would listen to the people who live along the border, who understand what it is we need to be doing to protect our country.

STEVE: So, in other words, when I voted to authorize the building of the fence, I didn't think the Bush administration would handle it so badly . . .

OBAMA: Well, this is an area where Senator Clinton and I almost entirely agree.

STEVE: Except that I'm for change and she's the status quo. But aside from that . . .

*

RAMOS: Is there any downside to the United States becoming a bilingual nation?

STEVE: It depends on what the second language is.

CLINTON: I think it is important though that English remain our common, unifying language because that brings our country together in a way that we've seen generations of immigrants, coming to our shores, be able to be part of the American experience and pursue the American dream.

I have been adamantly against the efforts by some to make English the official language.

OBAMA: Well, I think it is important that everyone learns English and that we have that process of binding ourselves together as a country.

*

KING: Senator Clinton, are you saying that your opponent is all hat and no cattle?

STEVE: Or all cattle and no hat. That one always confuses me.

CLINTON: Senator Obama and I have a lot in common. But there are differences between us and there are differences between our records . . .

TIM: Or our iPods, for you younger voters .

CLINTON: . . . and our accomplishments. I have to confess I was somewhat amused the other night when on one of the TV shows, one of Senator Obama's supporters was asked to name one accomplishment of Senator Obama, and he couldn't.

OBAMA: You know, I think if you talk to those wounded warriors at Walter Reed who, prior to me getting to the Senate, were having to pay for their meals and have to pay for their phone calls to their family while they're recovering from amputations, I think they'd say that I've engaged not just in talk, but in action.

STEVE: Only if they don't read the papers.

*

OBAMA: Senator Clinton of late has said "let's get real." And the implication is, is that, you know, the people who have been voting for me or involved in my campaign are somehow delusional - (laughter) - and that - (chuckles) - that, you know, the - (laughter) -- you know, the 20 million people who have been paying attention to 19 debates, and the editorial boards all across the country at newspapers who have given me endorsements including every major newspaper here in the state of Texas - (cheers, applause) - you know, the thinking is that somehow they're being duped.

STEVE: Which is ridiculous. I mean, the American people have never been duped before, and it's not like you can snow the nation's editorial boards.

OBAMA: Well, I think they perceive reality of what's going on in Washington very clearly. And what they see is that if we don't bring the country together, stop the endless bickering, actually focus on solutions and reduce the special interests that have dominated Washington, then we will not get anything done.

STEVE: Just like I did in Springfield. Now, anyone want some juice?

OBAMA: Senator Clinton and I share a lot of policy positions. But if we can't inspire the American people to get involved in their government . . .

TIM: Then maybe they're not as dumb as we think.

OBAMA: . . . and if we can't inspire them to go beyond the racial divisions and the religious divisions and the regional divisions, that have plagued our politics for so long, then we will continue to see the kind of gridlock and non-performance in Washington that is resulting in families suffering in very real ways.

BROWN: I think one of the points that John King was alluding to in talking about some of Senator Clinton's comments is there has been a lot of attention lately on some of your speeches, that they're very similar to some of the speeches by your friend and supporter, Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts. And Senator Clinton's campaign has made a big issue of this. To be blunt, they've accused you of plagiarism.

OBAMA: Well, look, first of all, it's not a lot of speeches. There are two lines in speeches that I've been giving over the last couple of weeks.

STEVE: Not. True.

OBAMA: And - you know, but - but - but this is where we start getting into silly season in politics, and I think people start getting discouraged about it. They don't want - what they want is, how are we going to create good jobs at good wages?

STEVE: Hey, that's a Mike Dukakis line!

BROWN: Senator Clinton, is it the silly season?

CLINTON: Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. And you know, lifting whole passages from someone else's speeches is not change you can believe in; it's change you can Xerox.

STEVE: Every young person in the audience just said, What's a Xerox?

OBAMA: Oh, but that - that's not what happened there -

CLINTON: No, but - you know, but Barack, it is, because if - you know, if you look at the YouTube of these videos, it does raise questions.

Now, there is no doubt that you are a passionate, eloquent speaker, and I applaud you for that. But when you look at what we face in this country, we do need to unite the country, but we have to unite it for a purpose around very specific goals. It is not enough to say, "Let's come together." We know we're going to have to work hard to overcome the opposition of those who do not want the changes to get to universal health care.

You know, when I proposed a universal health care plan, as did Senator Edwards, we took a big risk, because we know it's politically controversial to say we're going to cover everyone.

And you chose not to do that. You chose to put forth a health care plant that will leave out at least 15 million people. That's a big difference.

When I said we should put a moratorium on home foreclosures, basically your response was, well, that wouldn't work, and you know, in the last week even President Bush said we have to do something like that.

I just believe that we've got to look hard at the difficult challenges we face, especially after George Bush leaves the White House. The world will breathe a sigh of relief once he is gone. (Applause.) We all know that. But then we've got to do the hard work of not just bringing the country together, but overcoming a lot of the entrenched opposition to the very ideas that both of us believe in and for some of us have been fighting for a very long time.

You know, when I took on universal health care back in '93 and '94, it was against a firestorm of special interest opposition . . .

TIM: And yet, I was able to overcome that firestorm and - run for the Senate six years later."

CLINTON: I was more than happy to do that because I believe passionately in getting quality affordable health care to every American. I don't want to leave anybody out. I see the results of leaving people out. I am tired of health insurance companies deciding who will live or die in America.

That has to end.

OBAMA: We both want universal health care. When I released my plan, a few months later, we were in a debate, and Senator Clinton said, we all want universal health care. And of course, I was down 20 points in the polls at the time, and so my plan was pretty good. It's not as good now, but my plan hasn't changed. The politics have changed a little bit.

STEVE: On both sides.

OBAMA: I admire the fact that Senator Clinton tried to bring about health care reform back in 1993. She deserves credit for that. But I think she did it in the wrong way because it wasn't just the fact that the insurance companies and the drug companies were battling her - and no doubt they were - it was also that Senator Clinton and the administration went behind closed doors, excluded the participation even of Democratic members of Congress who had slightly different ideas than the ones that Senator Clinton had put forward.

STEVE: Not true.

*

RAMOS: Senator Clinton, yesterday you said - and I'm quoting - "one of us is ready to be commander in chief." Are you saying that Senator Obama is not ready and not qualified to be commander in chief?

CLINTON: Well, I believe that I am ready, and I am prepared. And I will leave that to voters to decide.

STEVE: When I authorized myself to say that, I didn't know I would implement it so badly.

CLINTON: But I want to get back to health care . . .

STEVE: . . . so I don't have to answer the question . . .

CLINTON: . . . because I didn't get a chance to respond because this is a significant difference. You know, Senator Obama has said it's a philosophical difference. I think it's a substantive difference. He has a mandate for parents to be sure to insure their children. I agree with that. I just know that if we don't go and require everyone to have health insurance, the health insurance industry will still game the system, every one of us with insurance will pay the hidden tax of approximately $900 a year - to make up for the lack of insurance.

And you know, in one of our earlier debates John Edwards made a great point. It would be as though Social Security were voluntary; Medicare, one of the great accomplishments of President Johnson, was voluntary. I do not believe that is going to work.

So it's not just a philosophical difference. You look at what will work and what will not work. If you do not have a plan that starts out attempting to achieve universal health care, you will be nibbled to death, and we will be back here, with more and more people uninsured and rising costs.

OBAMA: Now, Massachusetts has a mandate right now. They have exempted 20 percent of the uninsured because they've concluded that that 20 percent can't afford it.

STEVE: Exactly! And the problem is . . . what?

OBAMA: In some cases, there are people who are paying fines and still can't afford it, so now they're worse off than they were.

STEVE: Name those cases!

OBAMA: They don't have health insurance and they're paying a fine. And in order for you to force people to get health insurance, you've got to have a very harsh, stiff penalty. And Senator Clinton has said that we will go after their wages.

Now, this is a substantive difference. But understand that both of us seek to get universal health care. I have a substantive difference with Senator Clinton on how to get there, okay.

CLINTON: You know, Senator Obama's plan has a mandate on parents and a fine if parents do not insure their children. Because he recognizes that unless we have some kind of restriction, we will not get there. He's also said that if people show up at the hospital sick without health insurance, well, maybe at that point, you can fine them.

We would not have a social compact with Social Security and Medicare if everyone did not have to participate. I want a universal health care plan.

*

KING: Both of you have been harshly critical of the Bush administration for its secrecy, what you consider overuse of secrecy and executive power.

Tonight, Senator Obama, you've talked about more transparency. You also at one point criticized earmarks.

And yet, a recent report came out that identified you - lower on the list in terms how much money senators seek and sneak into the budget for these pork barrel spending projects, but it still said you were responsible for $91 million in earmarks.

And you have refused to say where the money went, what it's for. Why?

OBAMA: No, that's not true. We've actually disclosed, John, all our earmarks.

STEVE: Not true. And they just let him get away with it again.

*

RAMOS: As we can see, this has been an extremely close nomination battle that will come down to superdelegates. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking Democrat in government, said recently - and I'm quoting -- "It would be a problem" - and this is a question for you, Senator Clinton - "It would be a problem for the party if the verdict would be something different than the public has decided." Do you agree?

CLINTON: Well, you know, these are the rules that are followed, and I - you know, I think that it'll sort itself out. I'm not worried about that. We will have a nominee, and we will a unified Democratic Party, and we will go on to victory in November.

STEVE: And maybe then I'll give you a straight answer.

OBAMA: Well, I think it is important, given how hard Senator Clinton and I have been working, that these primaries and caucuses count for something. And so my belief is that - that the will of the voters, expressed in this long election process, is what ultimately determine who our next nominee is going to be.

STEVE: So I'm going to give back the delegates I earned in caucuses that did not reflect the will of the people. For example, in Nevada my opponent won the popular vote, but I won more delegates. That's just not right. That's not the America I know.

BROWN: You've both spent a lot of time talking about leadership, about who's ready and who has the right judgment to lead if elected president. And a leader's judgment is - is most tested at times of crisis. And I'm wondering if both of you will describe what was a moment - what was the moment that tested you the most, that moment of crisis?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I - I wouldn't point to a single moment, and what I look at is the trajectory of my life, because I was raised by a single mom. My father left when I was two, and I was raised by my mother and my grandparents. And there were rocky periods during my youth when I made mistakes and was off course. And what was most important in my life was learning to take responsibility for my own - my own actions - learning to take responsibility for not only my own actions, but how I can bring people together to actually have an impact on the world.

CLINTON: Well, I think everybody here knows I have lived through some crises and some challenging - (laughter) - moments in my life, and - (interrupted by cheers, applause).

And I am grateful for the support and the prayers of countless Americans. But people often ask me, how do you do it, you know, how do you keep going, and I just have to shake my head in wonderment because with all of the challenges that I've had, they are nothing compared to what I see happening in the lives of Americans every single day.

*

BEACHWOOD ANALYSIS
Most pundits gave Hillary the win on points, but said she failed to deliver the knockout punch she needed. Obama was wrong on the facts again, but nobody seems to care. Both candidates seemed tired. The moderators had good questions, but let both candidates get away with recycling their stump speeches for long stretches to avoid answering what was asked of them. Follow-up and preparation was dreadful. Everyone's mind was probably on John McCain.

Catch up with the entire series!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:56 AM | Permalink

How Your Brain Works

Look Inside This Astonishingly Complex Organ with One of the Most Effective Teachers in America.
- "Understanding the Brain," from The Great Courses: A Teaching Company

Lecture titles:

1. Historical Underpinnings of Neuroscience

2. Central Nervous System - Gross Organization

3. Central Nervous System - Internal Organization

4. Central Nervous System - Subdivisions

5. Cortex - Lobes and Areas

6. Cortex - Sensory, Motor, and Association Areas

7. Central Nervous System - Development

8. Central Nervous System - Cellular Organization

9. Pathways and Synapses

10. Neurotransmitters

11. Stroke

12. The Visual System - The Eye

13. The Visual System - The Cortex

14. The Auditory System

15. The Somatosensory System

16. Agnosias

17. The Motor System - Voluntary Movement

18. The Motor System - Coordinated Movement

19. Parkinson's Disease

20. Language

21. The Limbic System - Anatomy

22. The Limbic System - Biochemistry

23. Depression

24. The Reward System - Anatomy

25. The Reward System - Drugs

26. Brain Plasticity

27. Emotion and Executive Function

28. Processing of Negative Emotions - Fear

29. Music and the Brain

30. Sexual Dimorphism of the Brain

31. Sleep and Dreaming

32. Consciousness and the Self

33. Alzheimer's Disease

34. Risk Factors of Alzheimer's Disease

35. Wellness and the Brain - Effects of Stress

36. Neuroscience - Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:40 AM | Permalink

February 21, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

Jeez, maybe Obama is divine. Every opponent he faces turns out to have a sex scandal in their closet. Spooky good fortune!

*

The big New York Times story alleging an improper relationship between McCain and a lobbyist eight years ago was the subject of speculation on the Drudge Report and Politico last December.

Showergate
This is journalism!

My favorite part: "Okay, we've dealt with the soap . . . oh, towels!"

Here is the accompanying column.

Dirty Bird
"An attorney for jailed political fundraiser Tony Rezko made an emotional plea for his release today, saying he's being held in 'degrading' conditions where inmates must share underwear," AP reports.

The Beachwood Prison Style Affairs Council weighs in.

1. That's why Rezko will do a sweetheart deal for a 12-pack of new Hanes underwear for a pack of smokes.

2. He's seen London. He's seen France. Now he's sharing underpants.

3. And he prefers a 36, loose. Usually something in a bikini.

4. At the same time.

5. With Mickie "Underwear" Basciano.

6. "You know that bit about how nothing comes between me and my BVDs? If only, my friend . . . If only."

7. "I support Sen. Obama because he's the candidate of change, and I'm sure looking forward to that - a change of shorts, for starters!"

8. "We only have 500 pairs of boxers for 800 inmates - do the math! And I'm the low guy on the clothesline."

9. Obamamania is so exciting you constantly need a new set of underwear. Fired up and ready for fresh boxers!

10. Record of wiretap, Payphone #4, 2/18/08 17:30:

INDIVIDUAL A: Papa John's, can I take your order?
REZKO: Yeah, I'd like a large thin crust with sausage and a side order of size 42 shorts.
INDIVIDUAL A: That you, boss?

11. Did the attorney make the underwear plea in a brief?

Reader Submissions!
12. When Rezko gets out of jail maybe he can take over as the Fruit of the Loom apple.

13. The prisoners really look forward to Fridays. That's the day they get to change underwear. Cell Block A gets to change with Cell Block B, Cell Block C gets to change with Cell Block D . . .

The Clinton Scandals
"Almost everything you may think you know about Bill and Hillary Clinton . . . rests on facts' that are somewhere between highly dubious and demonstrably false. Far from being the result of muckraking reporting by a vigorous and independent press, what 'the Clinton scandals' amount to is possibly the most politically charged case of journalistic malpractice in recent American history."

Unless you are the Tribune editorial page, which dares to go where even Ken Starr would not tread.

Plump Payroll
Tribune Shopping Advisor Ellen Warren gives colleague Jon Yates a makeover. The cost of his three new (lame) outfits? $1,176, $1,412, and $1,200.

If Tribune reporters can afford that, Sam Zell has a larger problem on his hands than I suspected.

Predictable Playbook
"McCain Attacks Obama Here: Calls Him 'Most Liberal' In Senate During Visit."

As Media Matters has noted, "Among the 'liberal' votes Sen. Barack Obama took that purportedly earned him 'the most liberal senator in 2007' label in the National Journal's 2007 Vote Ratings were: To implement the 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations, provide more children with health insurance, permit federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and maintain a federal minimum wage."

Sex Fiend
Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell has every right in the world to defend Michelle Obama even if the would-be First Lady said something kind of stupid. I really don't care; not everything everybody says is always articulated perfectly, and I'm not one much for this sort of gotcha game. I think we all knew what Michelle Obama meant, and it's perfectly reasonable.

But why in the world does Mitchell find it necessary to inject Monica Lewinsky into her defense - while attacking Cindy McCain? To wit:

"'I just wanted to make the statement that I have, and always will be, proud of my country,' [Cindy McCain] said," Mitchell notes.

"Talk about empty rhetoric.

"If Cindy's telling the truth, then she was the only person in America bursting with pride as the world watched former President Bill Clinton's presidency nearly get derailed over hanky-panky."

It's possible Mitchell means to attack Republicans for impeaching Clinton over a blowjob, but not entirely clear. But why is that the example she chose?

The latent hostility of Obamacrats who have suddenly decided Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh were right about the Clintons is astonishing.

Sweet and Sour
I might be missing something, but doesn't the math make it nearly as unlikely that Obama will reach 2,025 delegates as Clinton?

Web Woes
Is it just me or is the design of the Tribune website going in reverse?

*

"For years, as newspaper Web sites became deeper, richer and more complex, Tribune's sites fell behind, limiting their ability to draw readers and advertisers," the New York Times noted in a profile of villainous Los Angeles Times publisher David Hiller.

"Just last week, the Times Web site added the ability to put hyperlinks in its articles, something other papers have had for as long as a decade."

Coming next week: An electronic "mail" system that allows reporters send written messages to each other and the public.

The Beachwood Tip Line: E-Z.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Dudes

DUDES

I dream about Scott Tuma*
every night, have for years.
Irrigation, with air.
Dudes: I need

a bike.
Dudes: Let's smoke one.

Bunny was a poet named Langston.
He was huge, groovy, for real.
Riffed until the cows came tumbling, crumbling down.
HI BUNNY!
Tread: He intoned the narrative of the wall carving

at the DuSable Museum, late
'80s. Yep: the Republican 1980s, fellas.
Eisenhower, anyone?

I SHOOK JOHN ANDERSON'S HAND.
He was my MAN!
Then, Tread: he showed us their collection of venally
racist caricature literature
of this Mid-Century Amerigo, an impressive display of
graphic fiction, vile fucking Amerigan cartoons.
L'il Black Sambo in schwaggage. We were mortified.
Tread: THANKS!

Dudes: tighten it up a little.
Take five and count time, the times you were actually
fucking INSPIRED! Yeah, then it passed.
Examine your sins

and step up with a few, fresh
back-up plans. REHEARSE A FINER TOMORROW . . .
Trust me. Like, talk a walk, have a shave.
Aow, Wicker Park milieu?! Marvy!

Dudes!

"Chay-Chay: how 'bout a
Pabst?"

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:30 AM | Permalink

Obama And The Clinton Scandals

Just as many of us suspected, it's really about the so-called Clinton Scandals. The Tribune editorial page, in defending Barack Obama from charges of plagiarism, has finally given away the game. Let's take a look.

*

TRIBUNE: Which reminds us of the infamous years when Hillary Clinton and her husband turned the White House into a school for scandal. A cruise through news stories of that troubling era elucidates some of the many lowlights:

- Early in Bill Clinton's first term as president, the White House released documents showing that Hillary Clinton had parlayed a $1,000 investment in cattle futures into gains of $99,537 during 1978-79. The White House said Clinton "did her own trading" but received trading advice from James Blair, then outside counsel to Tyson Foods, a chicken company regulated by the State of Arkansas.

REALITY: "Mrs. Clinton violated no rules in the course of her transactions," former Merc chairman Leo Melamed has insisted after reviewing the record.

"While Clinton's account was wildly successful to an outsider, it was small compared to what others were making in the cattle futures market in the 1978-79 period," the Post noted way back when. "An investigation of the cattle futures market at that time by Rep. Neal Smith (D-Iowa) found that in one 16-month period 32 traders made more than $110 million in profits from large trades - those of 50 contracts or more. Clinton traded positions of 50 or more contracts only three times."

More from Melamed, via Media Matters:

"A July 11, 1994, report in Pensions and Investments included a longer excerpt of Melamed's statement:

"At the request of the White House, I have examined the records which reflect Mrs. Clinton's trading activity at Refco. It is my considered opinion that unless there are additional records to indicate otherwise, this is a tempest in a teapot. Nothing in these records appears to reflect any trading violations on the part of Mrs. Clinton . . .

"What these records show is that Mrs. Clinton was, during 1978 and 1979, a relatively modest trader who traded in a variety of commodities, including cattle, soybeans and hogs . . . (O)n balance, she did extremely well. This was by no means unprecedented at that time . . . Mrs. Clinton's profit, while substantial in every day life, was minuscule when measured against the background of that market era."

Even conservatives and Clinton antagonists have given up the ghost on this one, as also cited by Media Matters:

"National Journal's Linda Douglass responded that the charge that Clinton's commodities trading was unlawful was 'something that was debunked during [Bill Clinton's] presidency' . . .

"In fact, even former New York Times reporter Jeff Gerth, who first reported in 1994 on Clinton's commodities earnings, and co-author Don Van Natta Jr., acknowledge in Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Little, Brown & Co., June 2007), that 'there was never any official finding that Hillary had done anything wrong' in the commodities trading deal.

*

TRIBUNE: Nearly two years of searches and subpoenas by congressional and federal authorities preceded the January 1996 discovery in the Clintons' personal quarters at the White House of copies of documents that had vanished from Hillary Clinton's law firm in Little Rock, Ark. The documents outlined her legal work on behalf of a failed savings and loan association. The disclosure that the documents had surfaced came less than a week after the statute of limitations expired for civil lawsuits against professionals who had fraudulently advised corrupt S&Ls.

REALITY: "This Office investigated whether Mrs. Clinton was involved in any effort to obstruct this or other investigations by withholding relevant evidence or information in connection with Rose Law Firm billing records," independent prosecutor Robert Ray concluded in his final report.

"On January 5, 1996, some 18 months after Mrs. Clinton received a subpoena for all records in her possession involving Madison Guaranty and related entities, a copy of the Rose Law Firm billing records reflecting the Firm's and Mrs. Clinton's representation of Madison Guaranty and related entities were produced by counsel for Mrs. Clinton. The circumstances surrounding the 18-month delay in producing the billing records could not be established. Mr. Hubbell testified in the Senate that he and former Deputy Counsel to the President Vincent W. Foster Jr. had the billing records in February/March 1992. Carolyn Huber, an assistant to President Clinton, testified in the Senate that she found certain documents in the White House residence in August 1995 and placed them in an office where they remained until January 1996. She also testified in the Senate that in January 1996, she found them again and realized that those same documents were the billing records. At that time, they were produced to this Office.

"This Office determined that the evidence of the circumstances surrounding the handling of the records between March 1992 and August 1995 and January 1996 was inconclusive and thus was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any person, including Mrs. Clinton, knowingly and willfully possessed the billing records with the intent to obstruct justice or that any person, including Mrs. Clinton, gave knowingly false testimony regarding the handling of the billing records."

*


TRIBUNE: The discovery of the Rose Law Firm records came the same week as a disclosure of a 2-year-old memo written by a presidential aide relating to the so-called Travelgate scandal. The memo suggested that Hillary Clinton had played a much more extensive role than the administration had claimed in the firing of employees of the White House travel office. The ostensible reason: to give travel business to associates of the Clintons.

REALITY: "With respect to Mrs. Clinton, the overwhelming evidence establishes that she played a role in the decision to fire the employees and provided input into that decision to [White House staff members David] Watkins, [Mack] McLarty, [Vince] Foster, and [Harry] Thomason. Thus, her statement to the contrary under oath to this Office was factually false," Ray found.

"The evidence, however, is insufficient to show that Mrs. Clinton knowingly intended to influence the Travel Office decision or was aware that she had such influence at this early stage of the Administration. To a real degree, her interest in the matter was first generated by Thomason's intervention, and then overstated by him to others. Thus, absent persuasive, corroborated, and admissible evidence to the contrary, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Clinton's statements to this Office or to Congress were knowingly false."

*

TRIBUNE: In June 1996, the Republican majority and Democratic minority of the special Senate Whitewater Committee reached entirely different conclusions about Hillary Clinton's behavior. The majority report said White House officials, including Hillary Clinton, had obstructed a federal investigation into the Clintons' involvement with the failed Whitewater Development Corp. The majority report said Hillary Clinton knowingly was involved in the allegedly fraudulent financing of the project.

REALITY: "Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr plans to tell Congress today that President Clinton misused 'the machinery of government' and 'thwarted the search for truth' in a wide-ranging scheme to illegally interfere with Paula Jones's sexual harassment lawsuit and Starr's subsequent criminal investigation," the Washington Post reported in 1998.

"But in a 58-page prepared statement to be delivered at the opening of impeachment hearings, Starr acknowledges for the first time that he has not found enough evidence to accuse the president of criminal conduct in the Whitewater financial venture that generated his appointment in 1994 or in a host of other allegations he has investigated since then."

But then, we already knew that.

"A moment of truth intruded in the midst of D'Amato's hearings on December 13, 1995 with the release of the second volume of the Resolution Trust Corporation's $3.6 million Pillsbury Report," Joe Conason and Gene Lyons recounted in Fools for Scandal. "[T]he San Francisco law firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro was obligated to deliver its conclusions about the Clintons and Whitewater by December 31 . . .

"The firm's findings could hardly have been more favorable to the White House. Based on the Clintons' sworn interrogatories, interviews with forty-five other witnesses, and some two hundred thousand documents, the report concluded that the president and first lady had told the truth about their Whitewater investment: The Clintons were passive investors who were misled about the actual status of the project by Jim McDougal from the start. The report failed to challenge their account on a single substantive point . . .

"The Pillsbury Report found no evidence that Whitewater's losses had been subsidized by taxpayers in the savings and loan bailout. But even if they were, it concluded, the Clintons were not at fault: 'There is no basis to assert that the Clintons knew anything of substance about the McDougals' advances to Whitewater, the source of the funds used to make those advances, or the sources of the funds used to make payments on the bank debt . . . '

"The recitation of the report's text continued," Bob Somerby explains. "The Clintons had no primary, secondary or derivative liability for misdeeds in the case, the report said. 'There is evidence that the McDougals and others may have engaged in intentional misconduct.' But 'on the evidentiary record,' the Pillsbury Report said, there was no sign that the Clintons were liable for that conduct."

Whitewater has been thoroughly debunked in various forums over the years, but the ur-text of the media's misreporting, driven by the Times's Jeff Gerth - the Judith Miller of his day - and the right-wing machinery funded by Richard Mellon Scaife is still Lyons' 1994 article in Harper's.

Beyond that, note that the Tribune relies on the Republican majority's countervailing view, as if they are somehow viable as the final authority.

*

TRIBUNE: The majority also suggested that files in White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster Jr.'s office held "damaging evidence" about Whitewater - and that Hillary Clinton "directed that investigators be denied 'unfettered access' to Mr. Foster's office" after his suicide in July 1993. The Democratic report challenged these conclusions and said there was no evidence that the Clintons had misbehaved. They were never charged with any wrongdoing.

REALITY: Yes, the Republican majority "suggested" wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton. But none was ever found.

"At the Senate hearings, Republicans accused a succession of White House aides of stripping Foster's office of incriminating Whitewater evidence and conspiring to lie about it under oath," Conason and Lyons write.

"The scheme was allegedly coordinated by Hillary Clinton via telephone from her mother's home in Little Rock, and carried out by Maggie Williams, Hillary's friend Susan Thomases, and White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum. A July 24 [New York Times] column by [William] Safire alleged that a White House lawyer named Steve Neuwirth 'told congressional investigators that Susan Thomases, Hillary's confidante, told Nussbaum that the Clintons wanted the search [of Foster's office] strictly limited.'

"Neuwirth opened his Senate testimony on August 3 with a prepared statement explaining that the information in Safire's column was categorically false. He read aloud questions and answers from his deposition, in which he explicitly denied the premise of a question implying any knowledge of what Hillary Clinton or Susan Thomases wanted. He explained that every lawyer in the White House was concerned about how to balance the legitimate interests of law enforcement, lawyer-client privilege, and the institution of the presidency. In a time of tremendous grief and confusion, Hillary Clinton's view had never been consulted."

*

But the best proof comes from Ken Starr, who investigated all these matters to the ends of the Earth and came up empty.

The so-called Clinton Scandals were a shameful episode of media gullibility and incompetence, foreshadowing the similar savaging of Al Gore based on the media constantly repeating provable falsehoods and the now-recognized failure to do its job prior to the war in Iraq.

For Obama supporters - including the Tribune - to dredge up a smear campaign whose stated goal was to prevent the most talented Democratic politician of his time (whom I never voted for) from establishing a toehold is contrary to everything Obama is supposed to stand for. And yet, Obama himself has stoked those very fires. That, my friends, is vile.

*

The occasion for the Tribune's editorial was allegations that Obama has lifted other people's lines for his speeches. I'm not much interested in that alone, but the truth is that the Boston Globe called him out for it last spring and he's still doing it. A few months ago a spate of stories accused Obama from stealing phrases from John Edwards. And there is a larger pattern of embellishment on Obama's part, from continuing to call himself a law professor when he was an adjunct, despite being called out by Lynn Sweet, to questions Sweet and the Tribune have raised about the veracity of his accounts of childhood, drug use, community activism, his days in New York City, and folks in and around Springfield (not Republicans, by the way) who tell reporters privately that Obama wasn't the kind of legislator he now portrays himself as, bolstered again by AP and Boston Globe reports.

None of this concerns the Tribune editorial page. But the paper does accuse Clinton of "appropriating campaign phrases that Obama had all but copyrighted - his emphasis on 'change,' his 'Yes, we can' and his 'Fired up and ready to go."

I didn't know Obama had a copyright on the word "change."

And, of course, "Yes we can" comes from Cesar Chavez (and former Philadelphia Phillie Dave Cash and Bob the Builder) and Clinton's (and John McCain's) use of "fired up and ready to go" is a snarky rejoinder to Obama - who hardly invented the well-worn phrase, even if some of Obama's supporters think it was sent to him from God.

*

If the Tribune - and Obama and his supporters - were to really heed the message of the Obama campaign, it would do what readers would be well to do on future editorials about the so-called Clinton Scandals: Turn the page.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:20 AM | Permalink

And Then There's Maude: Episode 17

Our tribute to the 35th anniversary of the debut of Maude continues.

*

Season 1, Episode 17
Episode Title: Arthur Moves In

Original airdate: 6 February 1973

Plot: As this episode begins, we find a seething Maude already at Code Orange. Arthur is staying with the Findlays while his house is under repair following a fire and he's long worn out his welcome. Maude is tired of cleaning up after Arthur and Walter's late night cribbage beer blasts and cooking Arthur's breakfast to order. Meanwhile, Arthur has monopolized the master bathroom, singing Gilbert & Sullivan and using up all the hot water. The worst part for Maude - and what I suspect has really got her most worked up - is her lack of a love life now that Walter has his best buddy to hang with into the wee hours.

Maude is in the kitchen griping over Arthur's persnickety food requests - the perfect poached egg is made by stirring a pot of boiling water with a spoon (made of wood, never metal) and plunging the egg directly into the eye of the whirlpool. ("It's enough to make Julia Child lose her ladle," says Maude.) Just one more day, she repeats to herself, just one more day before he leaves.

Ernie the milkman enters. He looks strangely like Tim Allen from Home Improvement, if Tim Allen were a 1970s milkman sporting a knit cap. Ernie is a full-service dairy delivery dude; he doesn't leave the bottles at the door, he walks right in and places them in Maude's fridge. He suspected something was up in the Findlay household when he saw prune yogurt and low-fat buttermilk on their order - the only person on his route who takes these is one Dr. Arthur Harmon.

Walter enters (wearing only a bath towel around his waist), drinking a glass of juice while he waits for Arthur to get out of the shower. He returns a few minutes later for a pot of boiling water to bathe, since Arthur has drained the hot water tank. Florida pops her head in the back door to ask, "Is there a doctor in the house?" When Maude replies yes, Florida pretends to leave with a hand wave and a quick goodbye. Arthur is making Florida's life as miserable as he is Maude's. He's asked her to iron his shirts, darn his socks and make sure his Jockey shorts are Sta-Puffed.

Arthur enters singing his cheery good morning tune "My Little Buttercup" and Maude immediately calls for a shovel. ("I'm going to plant Little Buttercup.") Arthur hands Walter the crumpled, used morning paper, much to Walter's dismay. Arthur saves him the trouble of reading it with his one-sentence summary: "The liberals are still fighting, the Democrats are still broke, and Mary Worth had her purse snatched by a junkie."

Arthur and Walter giggle like schoolgirls, going over the fun and games they had the night before. There's a hilarious joke about elephants and bicycles that still has them in stitches, but when Maude begs to be let in on the gag, they decline. ("It's a man's joke, Maude. You wouldn't appreciate it.")

Arthur rejects Maude's first attempt at poached eggs - no, no, the water should be swirled counter-clockwise - and just as she's ready to serve up the second round, he says no bother, he'll catch breakfast on his way to work. She repeats her mantra, "Just one more day!"

Out in the living room, Arthur takes a call from his contractor. It will be another two weeks before he can move back in. Walter re-extends the "Mi Casa, Su Casa" invitation to Arthur; he won't hear of his best friend staying in a motel. As they prepare to leave, Walter discovers a toy machine gun in the coat closet that Arthur bought for Carol's son Philip. Walter nixes that idea immediately, telling Arthur that Carol and Maude will go ballistic if they learn that Arthur brought a "war toy" into the house. Arthur says he doesn't want "to cause any trouble, even if they're both wrong."

Too late. Maude catches Arthur wielding the machine gun as he performs a bad Jimmy Cagney impersonation. She's appalled and when Arthur covers by saying it's for his own grandson, Maude tells him to just make sure that Philip doesn't see it. Arthur agrees and before he leaves gets in the parting comment that Philip will have to "learn those things sometime" because "in this world, it's dog eat dog. And vice versa."

"One more day," screams Maude. Just 24 hours! Arthur breaks the bad news to Maude that Arthur will be with them for two more weeks. He's not sure why she's so bent out of shape. Sure, it's a bit of an inconvenience, but that's what friends are for.

The final straw comes when Walter mentions he and Arthur will be out late again that night. He's got tickets to the big lumberjack show! Walter earns himself a "God'll get you for that," when Maude explodes, angry that he's going out with Arthur again and why didn't he think to ask her, to which he gives the smart aleck reply, "OK Maude, can I go out with Arthur tonight?"

They argue some more and Maude slams the door on a departing Walter. She breaks down in tears as she realizes she's finally found "the perfect marriage - Walter and Arthur."

Later that night, Maude's in bed losing a battle to stay awake as she reads the book, How to Play Cribbage. Carol comes in to borrow some hand lotion. She scolds her mother for feeling left out and acting like a child. (Carol: "Mother, insecurity is for children." Maude: "It used to be, Carol. Now they make it for adults too.")

Maude shoos Carol out when she hears Walter arriving home and while he whistles up the stairs and down the hall, Maude races willy-nilly around the room, dousing everything in perfume. She's going to apologize, really apologize, to Walter for her temper tantrum earlier.

As Walter gets ready for bed, Maude straightens up the bed and seductively drapes herself across it. ("Walter, darling, I'm going to make it up to you. I'm going to make it up to you like you've never had it made up to you before.") He comments on the nice new bathroom spray ("Night of Love") and emerges from the bathroom in his bathrobe. Maude expects to "kiss and make up" but instead gets a peck on the head before Walter heads downstairs to resume his cribbage match with Arthur.

A frustrated Maude jumps out of bed and angrily accuses Walter of being unhappy in their marriage, jealous of the footloose and fancy-free lifestyle of his bachelor best friend. Walter denies it all but Maude is unwavering. A loud crash from the kitchen is the last straw ("He's broken my good casserole dish!") and she demands that Arthur leave immediately. ("He's not only trying to wreck our marriage, now he's starting in on our house.")

Downstairs Maude delivers an ultimatum: Walter has 30 seconds to tell Arthur he's out. She starts a countdown which prompts Walter to demonstrate that Maude isn't the only adult in the house able to exhibit a little immature behavior. He grabs the toy machine gun from the closet, yelling, "The only way to make sure you get rid of somebody for good is to rub them out." He aims and fires, and Arthur retaliates by grabbing the fruit bowl and jumping behind the couch for cover. Wearing the bowl like a helmet, he lobs apple grenades and fires with his banana pistols.

Maude goes berserk, grabbing the toy gun from Walter and really letting the two of them have it. Yelling at the top of her lungs, she sprays imaginary bullets everywhere. ("This is for the cribbage! And this is for the log rolling. And this is for the poached eggs in the whirlpoooooooool!") Maude breaks down and finally reveals what's bothering her - she's feeling jealous and left out. A surprised Arthur and Walter are happy to include Maude in their reindeer games and on a final note, a teary Maude asks them to tell her, once and for all, why don't elephants ride bicycles.

Hot button social issue: Nothing new here - the age-old green-headed monster makes an appearance: J-E-A-L-O-U-S-Y.

Neckerchief count: Just one. Arthur wears a scarf to accompany his PJs and bathrobe ensemble.

Decorating tip: I'd almost swear there have been some changes in the Findlay kitchen - sections of the wall look like tile (more likely linoleum) and other sections are covered in cork.

Maude makes the remark that Arthur's long showers are steaming the wallpaper off her bathroom ceiling. Yes, they have wallpaper on the ceiling.

There's the most enormous oil painting hanging over Maude and Walter's bed. They would surely be crushed in their sleep if it were to fall off the wall.

The fruit bowl on Maude's coffee table is made out of giant shells.

Welcome back to 1973 pop culture reference: Each time Walter appears in the kitchen with a towel around his waist, bare-chested and holding a glass of orange juice, someone makes the joke that he's Mark Spitz doing an orange juice commercial.

Number of times Maude yells: 10

'70s slang: Maude calls Arthur and Walter a couple of "finks."

Memorable quote: "The next time you want an egg a certain way, I'm going to give you an egg a certain way."

Tasty snack tip: Arthur's favorite sweet treat - prune yogurt spread between two Laura Doone cookies.

References to the Vietnam War: "A war toy, Arthur, in this house!?"

Wow, did they just say that? "And after the lumberjack show, why don't you and Arthur round out the evening at a massage parlor where Miss Lily can put you into orbit with her dancing vibrators!"

Future Golden Girls connection: In an attempt to stay awake until Walter comes home, Maude turns on the TV to hear the guest lineup on that night's Tonight Show: "Johnny's guests tonight are Horst Buchholz, Allen Ludden and Betty White, and Melvin Laird."

At the time, Allen Ludden and his wife Betty White (AKA Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls) were the reigning king and queen of the game show Password. Seven months after this episode aired, White would make her debut as Sue Ann Nivens in the fourth season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

-

Previously:
Season 1, Episode 1: Maude's Problem.
Season 1, Episode 2: Doctor, Doctor.
Season 1, Episode 3: Maude Meets Florida.
Season 1, Episode 4: Like Mother, Like Daughter.
Season 1, Episode 5: Maude and the Radical.
Season 1, Episode 6: The Ticket.
Season 1, Episode 7: Love and Marriage.
Season 1, Episode 8: Flashback.
Season 1, Episode 9: Maude's Dilemma (Part One).
Season 1, Episode 10: Maude's Dilemma (Part Two).
Season 1, Episode 11: Maude's Reunion.
Season 1, Episode 12: The Grass Story.
Season 1, Episode 13: The Slum Lord.
Season 1, Episode 14: The Convention.
Season 1, Episode 15: Walter's 50th Birthday.
Season 1, Episode 16: The Medical Profession.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:43 AM | Permalink

Reviewing the Reviews

"Regret the Error is a compendium of published media corrections, many of them hilarious," Carl Sessions Stepp writes in the American Journalism Review.

"But Craig Silverman, a journalist who founded the website RegretTheError.com, turns what could have been a sudsy little stocking stuffer into a serious study of why journalists fail so often."

And they do.

"Various studies show that errors occur in up to 61 percent of all stories, far more than the media acknowledge."

Far more. Let me tell you what I've learned from personal experience.

When I began writing for Chicago magazine many years ago, I was confronted with a new way of doing business unfamiliar to me but wholly common in the magazine world: Fact-checkers.

Coming from the newspaper world, I fairly sniffed at this. "I'm already a fact-checker; it's called being a reporter," I'm sure I said at some point.

I was humbled very quickly. You wouldn't believe the number of errors a fact-checker will find in the copy of even the most conscientious reporter.

Some of it is incredibly mundane. I remember the hours I once spent with a very thorough fact-checker trying to determine if a shopping center's official name was spelled using "center" or "centre." The sign said one thing, the phone book said another, and tenants, whose leases we then sought, were in conflict.

Of course, the importance of fact-checking goes far deeper than that sort of thing, particularly when you are writing lengthy and layered stories that go through several rewrites and edits. Things get away from you.

I came to love fact-checking for the simple reason that it saved my ass on numerous occasions.

And so, when I faced the same snide attitude from newspaper reporters that I once held, I understood, but I so wished I could put every one of their stories through the fact-checking process. They would be amazed.

In fact, I've often dreamed of taking one issue of the Tribune and/or Sun-Times and fact-checking every story. I'm pretty confident about the result. Which isn't necessarily a criticism. But . . .

"Silverman criticizes journalists for taking the 'personal approach,' or blaming one individual, rather than the 'systems approach,' which also considers the workplace processes and cultures that contribute," Stepp writes.

That sounds like something my favorite management theorist, W. Edwards Deming, would say. Nobody, he argued, wants to make mistakes.

*

Favorite correction from Silverman's book, from the Herald-Leader of Lexington, Kentucky: "It has come to the editor's attention that the Herald-Leader neglected to cover the civil rights movement. We regret the omission."

Gonzoid
"Best Books" by Ralph Steadman, according to The Week (and only available online to subscribers):

* The Colossus of Maroussi
* The Idiot
* Desolation Angels
* Rembrandt's Jews
* Mark Twain: A Life
* Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

The Old Politics
Unraveling the fairy tale of Abraham Lincoln.

"The tone (and sometimes) the arguments, changed, depending on the audience," William Grimes writes in a New York Times review this week of Allen Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas. "Lincoln, facing a Whig audience in Charleston in the fourth debate and stung by constant race-baiting from Douglas, appeased his frightened party handlers and listed, Mr. Guelzo writes, 'a disgraceful catalog of all the civil rights he, fully as much as Douglas, believed blacks could be routinely deprived of.'"

Junkie Lit
The straight dope from Nelson Algren.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever feel that you should try heroin, in connection with writing a book about users?

ALGREN: No. No, I think you can do a thing like that best from a detached position.

INTERVIEWER: Were you ever put down by any of these [users] as an eavesdropper?

ALGREN: No, they were mostly amused by it. Oh, they thought it was a pretty funny way to make a living, but - well, one time, after the book came out, I was sitting in this place, and there were a couple of junkies sitting there, and this one guy was real proud of the book; he was trying to get this other guy to read it, and finally the other guy said he had read it, but be said, "You know it ain't so, it ain't like that." There's a part in the book where this guy takes a shot, and then he's talking for about four pages. This guy says, "You know it ain't like that, a guy takes a fix and he goes on the nod, I mean, you know that." And the other guy says, "Well, on the other hand, if he really knew what he was talking about, he couldn't write the book, he'd be out in the can."

Full interview at The Paris Review.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 AM | Permalink

February 20, 2008

The [Wednesday] Papers

I have some business to attend to today so there won't be a Papers column, but please go read every column Bob Somerby has written this year. And before that. He's not always right, but he bats about .900, and nobody does a better job of exposing the folly of the political press's pre-conceived notions, illogical leaps of faith and general immaturity.

Oh wait, I do have one new item for today:

"Sun-Times Media Group To Outsource Ad Creation."

Will outsource advertisers too, mostly to RedEye. Ha ha.

And I've tacked on some additional material to Tony's Tour, I mean, c'mon people!

And also new today is Christian Men's Deepest Secrets Exposed.

Plus, everything I wrote yesterday is still true. See you tomorrow.

The [Tuesday] Papers
Fidel Castro announced his retirement as Cuba's dictator this morning. The Beachwood's Havana Affairs Desk has the scoop.

1. He wants to spend more time with his family.
2. He will not release his superdelegates.
3. He's reportedly in the running for Bud Selig's job.
4. He's expected to join Patton Boggs' Havana office.
5. He did not have sex with that woman. He did, however, have sex with that man and that goat.
6. He will testify before Congress that he never took steroids, though he once sold cigars and a couple of joints to Brian McNamee.
7. He thinks this could be the Cubs' year.
8. He's taking a better-paying job as activities director at Guantanamo.
9. He also revealed he secretly mediated the end of the writers' strike.
10. He's got a three-picture deal with Universal.

- Inspiration and assistance by Tim Willette

Web World of Wonder
The second-most viewed story on the ABC News website after the Castro story, at the time of this writing: "Drunkbook? College Nights Out on Facebook."

Reason #4,373,494 why the Internet ranks right up there with beer, baseball, sex, and rock 'n' roll as one of the greatest inventions of mankind.

Changing Story
"Before he bought his South Side mansion in 2005, Sen. Barack Obama took his friend and fundraiser Antoin 'Tony' Rezko on a tour of the premises to make sure it was a good deal, Obama's campaign revealed Monday."

For more, see Tony's Tour.

Ike Turns
"Federal investigators have requested city zoning records on four West Side zoning changes pushed by Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th), amid questions about Carothers' relationship with a Chicago developer who made secret recordings as an FBI mole," the Sun-Times reports.

"Carothers, the powerful chairman of the City Council's Fire and Police Committee, did not return phone calls seeking comment. He also declined to answer written questions."

He did hint, however, that if the written questions weren't too "negative" and included a "pretty please," he'd think about it.

Toe Jam
"If the palms tell a story about our future, then the toes reveal something about where we've been. That's according to Chicagoan Gabrielle Loomis, a life coach who has added toe reading to her toolbox."

That's according to the Sun-Times, which has added buffoonery to its toolbox.

Next: Can your pet read your future?

That's Ozzie!
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen complaining to the Sun-Times about the Roger Clemens hearings:

"Why did baseball have to put him in that situation?"

1. It was Clemens who insisted the congressional committee hold the meeting, and chairman Henry Waxman has since said he regrets having acceded to Clemens' wishes.

So when Ozzie says "I tip my hat to Clemens because he showed up," he's got it backwards. He should tip his hat to Congress for showing up.

2. Clemens put himself in that situation, not Major League Baseball.

NASCAR's Folly
Because nothing says NASCAR like Kool & the Gang.

Jesus, Etc.
"After a day of rest, Wilco resumed its residency Monday at the Riviera and continued gnawing away at its catalog with a 33-song, 2 1/2-hour performance," Bob Gendron writes. "Perhaps owing to the holiday or colder weather, the mood was more relaxed than those of the weekend shows. Violinist Andrew Bird returned as a guest, as did the three-piece horn section. The local sextet pulled out a few rarities and repeated several tunes for the third straight concert."

Gendron has the set list with commentary.

Face Book
Chicagoist calls bullshit on the Tribune's dumb "beards are back" story.

You know what else is back? Swing dancing and real men.

Cool Factor
"It's been called the whitest place on Earth, and at 90 degrees it could be the coolest place on the planet for astronomy."

Retirement Plan
"It was certainly a marriage of convenience. After Fidel Castro led a revolution that toppled a friendly government in 1959, the CIA was desperate to eliminate him. So the agency sought out a partner equally worried about Castro - the Mafia, which had lucrative investments in Cuban casinos," the Washington Post reported last spring.

"The plot, described in detail in CIA documents released yesterday, involved six poison pills, a bungled wiretapping and CIA operatives working with two mob bosses on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

"The CIA's efforts to assassinate Castro were documented by the Church Committee in 1975, based on the testimony of the key players, but the documents show that the agency's actions in the early 1960s still have the capacity to shock."

Keeper's Brother
Raul Castro's Wikipedia entry.

Long Goodbye
Fidel's "Dear Compatriots" letter.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Fired up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:24 AM | Permalink

Christian Men's Deepest Secrets Exposed

Confessions of a "Good" Christian Guy
It's not hard to define what a "good Christian guy" is, right? They are the men who seem to have it all. Good job - check. Loving wife and family - check. Solid relationship with God - check.

But most people would be shocked to learn that lust, greed, infidelity, substance abuse, pride, and materialism also can have deep roots in the lives of many Christian men.

Conducting interviews on the topic of the "Secret Sins of Professing Christians" is author TOM DAVIS, who shares with your audience that life's most challenging issues are not saved just for the faith-less. Even "good Christian guys" grapple with these difficulties on a daily basis.

Tom Davis is a self-described "good Christian guy." But he is also is a sinner. He has wrestled with difficult issues, and admits that since coming to Christ, he has snorted cocaine, been sexually promiscuous, and spent time behind bars.

Tom's life is by no means perfect. He is a Christian, but he is also fallen. In his new book, Confessions of a Good Christian Guy, The Secrets Men Keep and the Grace that Saves Them, Davis explores the darkest corners of the lives of men like him - men who are outwardly upstanding citizens, church leaders, and pillars of their communities. His new book is not a lurid expose, but instead is an honest, thoughtful exploration of the damaging secrets that often lurk behind the perfect façade that some Christian men have so carefully constructed.

Tom shares with your audience that some Christian men may seem fine on the surface but on the inside often there are cracks in the veneer, as men - even Christian men - often repeat destructive behaviors and succumb to temptations. Tom explains that sometimes inviting Christ into one's heart does not immediately mark the end of the brokenness and pain that many men feel. Davis delves into numerous difficult topics, in chapters including:

1. "I've got a dirty mind": The Never-Ending Struggle of Sexual Sins
2. "I'm a self- made man": The Surprising Pervasiveness of Pride
3. "I want more stuff": The Hollow Promise of Materialism
4. "I love booze": The Destructive Trap of Substance Abuse
5. "I want to give up": The Weary Grind of Long-Term Discouragement
6. "I'm so ticked off": The Harmful Reality of Anger and Abuse

Davis gives Biblical examples of men who dealt with similar issues, like King David, Samson, and Nebuchadnezzar. He encourages readers to put themselves in God's hands and wrap themselves in the protection of His grace and forgiveness.

While Tom's topic is primarily for men, Tammy Maltby, (author of Confessions of a Good Christian Girl) offers a brief reflection at the end of each chapter of Tom's book for women who are affected by these sinning Christian men.

ABOUT TOM DAVIS . . .
Tom Davis is an author, consultant, and the president of Children's HopeChest, a Christian-based child advocacy organization helping orphans in Eastern Europe and Africa.

Tom's first book, Fields of the Fatherless, has sold over 60,000 copies.

Tom's second book, Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds, was released in 2007 and offers both a challenge and encouragement to the Church to get involved in an increasingly interconnected, desperate modern world. Tom holds a business and pastoral ministry degree from Dallas Baptist University and a master's degree in Theology from The Criswell College.

Tammy Maltby, whose antidotal remarks are found at the end of each chapter of the book by Tom Davis, is co-host of the six-time Emmy nominated, two-time Emmy winning, 2005 NRB TV talk show of the year Aspiring Women on the Total Living Network. She reaches thousands of women each year through her speaking ministry and has been featured on The 700 Club, Focus on the Family, Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey, Life Today with James Robison, and Midday Connection as well as hundreds of other radio and television programs. Tammy is also the creator of the Confessions series including Confessions of a Good Christian Girl, which was released in 2007, and the soon-to-be-released Confessions of a Good Christian Family.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

February 19, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

Fidel Castro announced his retirement as Cuba's dictator this morning. The Beachwood's Havana Affairs Desk has the scoop.

1. He wants to spend more time with his family.
2. He will not release his superdelegates.
3. He's reportedly in the running for Bud Selig's job.
4. He's expected to join Patton Boggs' Havana office.
5. He did not have sex with that woman. He did, however, have sex with that man and that goat.
6. He will testify before Congress that he never took steroids, though he once sold cigars and a couple of joints to Brian McNamee.
7. He thinks this could be the Cubs' year.
8. He's taking a better-paying job as activities director at Guantanamo.
9. He also revealed he secretly mediated the end of the writers' strike.
10. He's got a three-picture deal with Universal.

- Inspiration and assistance by Tim Willette

Web World of Wonder
The second-most viewed story on the ABC News website after the Castro story, at the time of this writing: "Drunkbook? College Nights Out on Facebook."

Reason #4,373,494 why the Internet ranks right up there with beer, baseball, sex, and rock 'n' roll as one of the greatest inventions of mankind.

Changing Story
"Before he bought his South Side mansion in 2005, Sen. Barack Obama took his friend and fundraiser Antoin 'Tony' Rezko on a tour of the premises to make sure it was a good deal, Obama's campaign revealed Monday."

For more, see Tony's Tour.

Ike Turns
"Federal investigators have requested city zoning records on four West Side zoning changes pushed by Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th), amid questions about Carothers' relationship with a Chicago developer who made secret recordings as an FBI mole," the Sun-Times reports.

"Carothers, the powerful chairman of the City Council's Fire and Police Committee, did not return phone calls seeking comment. He also declined to answer written questions."

He did hint, however, that if the written questions weren't too "negative" and included a "pretty please," he'd think about it.

Toe Jam
"If the palms tell a story about our future, then the toes reveal something about where we've been. That's according to Chicagoan Gabrielle Loomis, a life coach who has added toe reading to her toolbox."

That's according to the Sun-Times, which has added buffoonery to its toolbox.

Next: Can your pet read your future?

That's Ozzie!
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen complaining to the Sun-Times about the Roger Clemens hearings:

"Why did baseball have to put him in that situation?"

1. It was Clemens who insisted the congressional committee hold the meeting, and chairman Henry Waxman has since said he regrets having acceded to Clemens' wishes.

So when Ozzie says "I tip my hat to Clemens because he showed up," he's got it backwards. He should tip his hat to Congress for showing up.

2. Clemens put himself in that situation, not Major League Baseball.

NASCAR's Folly
Because nothing says NASCAR like Kool & the Gang.

Jesus, Etc.
"After a day of rest, Wilco resumed its residency Monday at the Riviera and continued gnawing away at its catalog with a 33-song, 2 1/2-hour performance," Bob Gendron writes. "Perhaps owing to the holiday or colder weather, the mood was more relaxed than those of the weekend shows. Violinist Andrew Bird returned as a guest, as did the three-piece horn section. The local sextet pulled out a few rarities and repeated several tunes for the third straight concert."

Gendron has the set list with commentary.

Face Book
Chicagoist calls bullshit on the Tribune's dumb "beards are back" story.

You know what else is back? Swing dancing and real men.

Cool Factor
"It's been called the whitest place on Earth, and at 90 degrees it could be the coolest place on the planet for astronomy."

Retirement Plan
"It was certainly a marriage of convenience. After Fidel Castro led a revolution that toppled a friendly government in 1959, the CIA was desperate to eliminate him. So the agency sought out a partner equally worried about Castro - the Mafia, which had lucrative investments in Cuban casinos," the Washington Post reported last spring.

"The plot, described in detail in CIA documents released yesterday, involved six poison pills, a bungled wiretapping and CIA operatives working with two mob bosses on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.

"The CIA's efforts to assassinate Castro were documented by the Church Committee in 1975, based on the testimony of the key players, but the documents show that the agency's actions in the early 1960s still have the capacity to shock."

Keeper's Brother
Raul Castro's Wikipedia entry.

Long Goodbye
Fidel's "Dear Compatriots" letter.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Fired up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:23 AM | Permalink

Tony's Tour

See below for additional material posted on February 20.

"Before he bought his South Side mansion in 2005, Sen. Barack Obama took his friend and fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko on a tour of the premises to make sure it was a good deal, Obama's campaign revealed Monday," the Tribune reports.

"Weeks after saying he'd answered all questions about his controversial dealings with the now-indicted Rezko, Obama released new details about their purchase of adjacent lots from the same seller on the same day. But the disclosures by Obama's presidential campaign left unanswered questions and raised new ones."

No kidding.

In national interviews Obama has acted like he hardly knew the man who was his first campaign contributor and whom he has called his political godfather and answered questions with a striking disingenuousness. Locally, the brainiac who has memorialized details of his entire life going back to childhood in a best-selling book feigned ignorance when it came to Rezko's role in the purchase of his home, though he allowed in one interview (in what appear to be written answers) that he sought out Rezko.

"Q: Did you approach Rezko or his wife about the property, or did they approach you?

"A: To the best of my recollection, I told him about the property, and he developed an interest, knowing both the location and, as I recall, the developer who had previously purchased it."

Apparently he didn't remember then actually touring the property with Tony.

(He was also asked why he appeared to have kept his subsequent purchase of a strip of the side yard from Rezko a secret. See comment #12 here, hat tip to RezkoWatch.

("Q: Why did you put the property in a trust?

("A: I was advised that a trust holding would afford me some privacy, which was important to me as I would be commuting from Washington to Chicago and my family would spend some part of most weeks without me."

(Nobody would figure out where a United States Senator running for president lived?)

Obama has also denied that knowing that Rezko was under federal investigation at the time, despite the fact that everybody else in the Illinois political universe knew.

And then he ran from reporters trying to find out more.

Now Obama's stonewalling continues. The latest revelation - he toured the property with Rezko - came first from Bloomberg News, which the Obama campaign chose to give an ex-mail exchange it had with the home's sellers.

"The campaign declined to share the sellers' e-mails with the Tribune or elaborate on the Bloomberg story."

In other words, the campaign picked its pigeon very carefully.

Bloomberg reports that "The couple who sold Barack Obama his Chicago home said the Illinois senator's $1.65 million bid ``was the best offer'' and they didn't cut their asking price because a campaign donor bought their adjacent land, according to e-mails between Obama's presidential campaign and the seller."

But the campaign's maneuver only heightens suspicions.

"The sellers hadn't previously made their side of the story public out of concern for their privacy, according to Bill Burton, a spokesman for Obama's campaign," Bloomberg reports."They approached Obama's Senate office 15 months ago and agreed to break their silence now through the campaign out of concern that the story was being distorted in the media, Burton said."

The sellers approached the campaign 15 months ago and the campaign is only bringing them out now. Why didn't Obama clean up his mess from the outset?

Two reasons come to mind, and they are not mutually exclusive. First, there's more to the story than we've been told. In fact, this latest story only confirms that. Second, it's a way to get out ahead of Rezko's trial next month on various fraud and corruption charges.

But the campaign's disclosure is a bit tortured.

"Burton said Obama, 46, toured the property with Rezko for 15 to 30 minutes at some point before the purchase. Burton said Obama wanted Rezko's opinion of the property because Rezko was a real-estate developer in the area. Burton said he didn't know when the pre-sale tour occurred," Bloomberg explains.

"Burton said a campaign adviser discussed the sale with Wondisford by phone and followed up with an e-mail to Wondisford repeating his points. Wondisford responded: `I confirm that the three points below are accurate,' according to the e-mail, provided to Bloomberg News and authenticated through records shown by the adviser.

"The e-mail says that the sellers 'did not offer or give the Obamas a "discount" on the house price on the basis of or in relation to the price offered and accepted on the lot.' It also says that 'in the course of the negotiation over the sales price,' Obama and his wife, Michelle, 'made several offers until the one accepted at $1.65 million, and that this was the best offer you received on the house.'''

So the campaign massaged three statements out of the sellers, who still refuse to face reporters' questions (as does Obama - at least from Chicago investigative reporters).

For starters:

* Why was the side yard split from the house and sold separately (though both remained inside the same fence)?
* Why did the sellers insist that the sale of both be closed on the same day?
* What were your dealings with the Rezkos?
* Were the Rezkos working in unison with the Obamas? (Should Obama have been surprised to learn Tony Rezko was his new "neighbor"?)

Additionally, the Obama-sympathetic Larry Handlin at Archpundit notes this:"If you look at the records in the Recorder of Deed's web site, you will see [the sellers] paid $1.65 million when they bought the house with the lot being around $400,000."

Why did the sellers have to take a loss on the sale of the home when the market was still hot while the side yard - apparently sold to them separately as well - appreciated in value?

Bloomberg also reports that "In January 2006, Rita Rezko sold the Obamas one-sixth of the lot, for $104,500, to expand their yard. She later sold the rest of the land to Michael Sreenan, who said by e-mail yesterday that he bought it in late December 2006 for $575,000."

Bloomberg fails to note, however, that Sreenan is the lawyer who represented Rezko when Rezko sold originally sold the to Obama. Was Sreenan's purchase just for show to get Rezko out of the public picture?

This, folks, is a lesson in when a carefully staged revelation just adds smoke to the smokescreen.

See more in Obamathon for the best Obama coverage in the universe, including the hit music video "I Had A Crush On Obama."

*

"You get an entirely different and more sensational picture from [the Tribune article, perhaps because the Trib wasn't given the e-mails that Bloomberg obtained," Rich Miller says on his Capitol Fax Blog. "Newspapers are jealous that way."

I guess the AP is jealous that way too.

*

The real question is why the Obama campaign won't just release the e-mails to everyone - and make the sellers available to reporters. The real answer is that the Obama campaign has had a strategy in place from the beginning to keep the real story on the candidate's relationship with Rezko from the public.

*

"Obama has never agreed to be interviewed by any reporter familiar with the details of the Rezko-Obama links."
- Lynn Sweet

*

From This Week, January 27, via Sweet:

STEPHANOPOULOS: One more time, Senator, you need to divulge all there is to know about that (Rezko) relationship. Take that opportunity here.

OBAMA: Well, George, this is a story that has been out there for a year, and has been thoroughly gnawed on by the press, both in Chicago and nationally.

Tony Rezko was a friend of mine, a supporter, who I've known for 20 years. He was a contributor not just myself but Democrats, as well as some Republicans, throughout Illinois. Everybody perceived him as a businessman and developer.

He got into trouble that was completely unrelated to me. And nobody has suggested that I have been involved in any of those problems. I did make a mistake by purchasing a small strip of property from him, at a time where, at that point, he was under the cloud of a potential investigation.

And I've acknowledged that that was a mistake. But again, nobody has suggested any wrongdoing. And you know, I think, at this point, it's important for people to recognize that I have actually provided all the information that's out there about it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

NASCAR's Great American Folly

This year marked the 50th Anniversary of "The Great American Race" in Daytona Beach, Florida, NASCAR's season-starter. Fox Sports has the TV rights for this event, and does a generally decent job of covering the race itself (handling it better than their efforts on baseball, but not as good as their football coverage).

But the race itself was almost beside the point this year as two story lines dominated the pre-race coverage: Junior, and the 50th Anniversary.

For the uninitiated, "Junior" is Dale Earnhardt Jr., the son of the late Dale Earnhardt and one of NASCAR's biggest names. Last season, he split from his father's old team in a nasty spat with his stepmother, Dale Sr's widow, who inherited the company after Senior was killed in a racing accident. He went from driving a red #8 Chevy to a green and white #88 Chevy in joining a racing team that already featured Jeff Gordon. I frankly lost track of the number of stories featuring or at least mentioning Dale Jr.

The network gave a nod to 50 years of race history in various flashbacks to years past, a decade at a time, each with a different cheesy outfit on its race announcer, Mike Joy, using lingo hip to that particular decade. Only a long-time race fan would have gotten anything from the quickie clips, however, showing just a second or two of footage from one or two races during that decade, giving just a flash view of changes in the cars' appearances over the years.

Better were the interviews with some of the older drivers. Two stood out here. One included both Jeff Gordon and Cale Yarborough, in which Gordon essentially took over the interview of Yarborough. You could tell the young star had true respect and admiration for the old star and really wanted to get to know something about him and the "old days." Another was a roundtable which also involved Yarborough and others involved in the first live TV broadcast of the race (1979), which also featured a famous infield fight between Yarborough and Donnie Allison following a last-lap wreck. The broadcast could have used more of that.

Saving the best for last, however, NASCAR topped the NFL in selecting "WHO'S PLAYING?!" artists for its pre-race concert.

First up, Chubby Checker, doing "The Twist." OK. "I get it," I thought, "they're doing kind of a historic flashback." But Checker was obviously lip-synching, and instead of following the conceit with a full band, they had a lone guitar player faking it behind him (who looked oddly like Ric Ocasek from The Cars, which I suppose would have been a nice ironic touch). I suggested to my wife that he was really a paramedic, standing close just in case Chubby fell out while trying to re-create his signature dance moves.

Next, Michael McDonald, playing one of the worst Doobie Brothers tunes - "Takin' It To The Streets" - but at least seeming to play it live. (Or at least doing a much better job of faking it, and at least having a full band to sell it.) Lame, but not offensively so.

And then, here comes Kool & The Gang doing "Celebration!" Huh? Yeah, nothing says NASCAR like Kool & the Gang. And it kind of blew the whole "historical progression" of music theme, too, since that and the previous number were only four years apart. And again, back to complete lip-synching. (And who knows how many original "Gang" members were up there.)

For the finale, NASCAR finally went with an act that seemed to fit the occasion: Brooks & Dunn. They were good. Appropriate. Only one question: Why weren't they the only act?

Then the gentlemen started their engines and drove around the track 200 times. If you're a race fan, you watched it and nothing I can say can add to that. If you're not, that one sentence pretty much sums it up.

-

See additional Daytona commentary by Jim Coffman and Eric Emery, each of whom also noticed some incongruities to the festivities.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:37 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: It's Never Enough, Dear

SONNET: IT'S NEVER ENOUGH, DEAR

How I disappoint you, Mother, having
done the right thing again. Let me count the
ways! Uno: it is never enough. Dos:
never enough AGAIN, Sister, Brother,
Honey Bunches of Oats (all rights reserved).
Like a summer's day! "Oi, it's so hot out!"
Tres: you are responsible for making
yourself happy. LET ME COUNT THE WAYS! I've
got them motherfucking memorized, dear.
Smookums: smoke a joint and take a bath. Then
a large slackburger with cheese do cut me.
Now I'm going to get down on my knees:
Only those we love get the brunt of the
hurt in our own souls we keep from seeing.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:32 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

Wilco is in the midst of a sold-out five-show residency at the Riv. Tuesday night's show will be broadcast live on WXRT starting around 7:30 p.m.

Greg Kot has the set lists so far.

Cop Shop
On the surface, it's hard not to like what new police chief Jody Weis just did.

"Police Supt. Jody Weis accepted the resignations of three of his top deputies and replaced two of them by dipping down into the ranks of district commanders," the Sun-Times reported over the weekend.

Weis has also reportedly held closed-door meetings with rank-and-file officers without their supervisors present.

The moves take a little bit of the sting out of revelations like this one from Ald. Fredrenna Lyle in her newsletter to constituents.

"When [Weis] appeared before the Police and Fire Committee Monday afternoon, I had some very serious questions which he could not answer," Lyle wrote in her newsletter, as the Reader's Mick Dumke reports. "On Tues. and Weds. the Mayor's Office provided me with most of the answers and I voted to confirm."

48 Hours
"The rhetoric generated by members of the Chicago Police about how this new rule will damage their ability to solve crimes rings hollow," Tracy Jake Siska writes at Chicago Justice. "This rule only brings the practices of the Chicago Police Department in line with precedent-setting US Supreme Court cases and recent findings by the US Court of Appeals. The Chicago Police attempted to bring this same distorted logic to the federal courts back in 1986 when they lost an identical class action lawsuit stemming from the same practices. At that time they informed the US Court of Appeals they had rewritten the general order ending the practice of holding suspects past 48 hours. The reality is they did not stop the practice."

Murder Inc.
Siska also writes: "A recent report from Annie Sweeney in the Sun-Times details a statistic that Phil Cline never held a press conference to brag about the homicide clearance rates.

"According to the reporting in the Sun-Times the clearance rates for the last two years are around 37 percent. The media has missed the boat when it comes to reporting on this issue. With all the talk about improvements in crime rates little attention has been paid to the homicide clearance rates."

Wonderland
Three stories you should read from the bottom up, because that's where the news is buried.

1. "Obama And Edwards Meet, Minus Press."
2. "Democrats' Attacks On Business Heat Up."
3. "'Present' Votes Emerging From The Past."

Chet's Debt
Walter Brzeski of Chicago suggests an appropriate punishment for Chet Coppock. (fourth letter)

Skid Rock
That's my idea for naming a band that only plays Skid Row and Kid Rock covers.

Justice
Even if the lawyers who held the secret that would have freed an innocent man from prison would have been disbarred for violating attorney-client privilege, it would have been the right thing to do. Is their career more important than a man's life? Principles mean nothing if you aren't willing to sacrifice for them.

Body Bags
"The doctor behind the 'Body Worlds' exhibits that show cadavers in different poses says he has stopped using bodies from China for fear that some of them may be executed prisoners, ABC News reported on Friday."

Presidential Seal
Remembering Reagan.

In Today's Beachwood
* "So there you've got your West Coast den of inequity. Porn. Sin. The rape of the innocent hillbilly girls. But wait, there's another, Midwestern modern-day Sodom much closer to home as well, as the porn star's brother found out after he, too, up and left rural America and lit out for the Big City."
- Don Jacobson, in "Chicago In Song: Truckin' and Druggin'"

* "Gordon Ramsay can magically sharpen a dull carving knife by just thinking about it."
- Julia Gray, in "The Kitchen Master"

* "The set-up of the [Daytona 500] has always seemed fundamentally flawed - the biggest race of the year on the first day of the season?"
- Jim Coffman, in "SportsMonday"

* "Campaign seconds will spar eagerly over what 'option' and 'pledge' mean. But researchers from government watchdog groups found a candidates' forum from last November where Senator Obama answered with a firm 'yes' when asked if he would participate in public financing, should the Republican nominee do the same. He promised to 'aggressively pursue' this route."
- The New York Times, as cited by me in "Dollars and Change"

*8 "Misguided Parents label kids as STUBBORN. Troy Dunn labels that same child with millionaire labels such as PERSISTENT, NON-CONFORMING and SELF CONFIDENT."
- Rebellious Teens = Future Millionaires

How great is the Beachwood? Pretty great.

On Chicago's side for two years!

The Beachwood Tip Line: Be great today.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Dollars and Change

A roundup of weekend Obama commentary and news about campaign finance, superdelegates, and the meaning of change.

Money Honey
"A year ago, before Barack Obama's prodigious fund-raising powers were clocked in at $1 million a day, the senator made a great show out of raising a good idea: He would take the narrower road of public financing in the general election if he secured the nomination and his opponent did the same. Senator John McCain, then a long shot, agreed. Mr. Obama even secured a ruling from the Federal Election Commission that he could return unused private donations and then accept public financing," the New York Times says in a Sunday editorial.

"Well, Mr. McCain is now the presumptive Republican nominee and says he is eager to take Mr. Obama up on the idea if he beats Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sounds good? Not so fast.

"Representatives of Mr. Obama are cautiously saying this plan was an option, not a pledge, and it will not be definitively addressed unless Mr. Obama secures the nomination. An idea floated by a contender is now too 'hypothetical' for a front-runner."

It depends on what "yes" means.

"Campaign seconds will spar eagerly over what 'option' and 'pledge' mean. But researchers from government watchdog groups found a candidates' forum from last November where Senator Obama answered with a firm 'yes' when asked if he would participate in public financing, should the Republican nominee do the same. He promised to 'aggressively pursue' this route."

*

"Why would anyone, knowing the stakes, seek unilateral disarmament this election cycle?" asks liberal blogosphere granddaddy Markos Moulitsas, aka Kos, who is supporting Obama.

1. How is it unilateral if both candidates agree?
2. When does the new politics start?

*

Obama has chided Hillary Clinton (and John McCain) for practicing a "politics of the moment" in which public officials do what is immediately expedient, even if it means changing positions. But a public financing agreement for the general election was Obama's idea in the first place.

"Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, issued an unusual challenge to his rivals on Wednesday. He proposed a voluntary agreement between the two major party nominees that would limit their fund-raising and spending for the general election," the New York Times reported in "Obama Proposes Candidates Limit General Election Spending."

"Mr. Obama's suggestion is notable because the 2008 presidential election is widely expected to be the first campaign since President Richard M. Nixon left office that would be paid for mainly by private donors and waged without legal spending limits."

Fight Club
"Since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, there has been a rise in the bile index in Washington," the Tribune's Michael Tackett writes.

I know! Once Clinton got into office the Republicans went nuts.

"[Hillary] seems to be saying the status quo of red versus blue, attack and counterattack, should be an accepted fact of American political life."

I know! It's like she wants people to attack.

"What if the electorate is actually fed up with the mentality that reduces every battle over every issue to the simple arithmetic of getting one more vote than the other side?"

I know! If only Obama would stop fighting for every last vote.

"Sen. John McCain, no matter how many people he refers to as 'my friend,' isn't making any grand appeal for a different way of doing business."

I know! Take campaign finance reform, for example . . .

*

Or, as Kos might say, why would you unilaterally disarm?

Superdelegates
"Compared to the average voter, the superdelegates have a disproportionate influence regarding who the nominee will be," Jeannine Szczech of Madison, Wisconsin, wrote in the Tribune's featured letter on Sunday.

I agree. And it's wrong.

A few things, though:

1. If you believe the rules shouldn't be changed during the campaign - that, for example, the Michigan and Florida primary results shouldn't count - then you have to be consistent. Superdelegates exist. I wish they didn't - just like I wish the Electoral College was abolished already - but they do.

2. Because of the complicated formulas for allocating delegates, caucus-goers in some precincts have more influence than caucs-goers in others. Should those rules also be changed? The best example is Nevada, where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but may end up with one less delegate than Obama.

3. Whose vote should a superdelegate's reflect? Nancy Pelosi represents San Francisco, which went for Obama, but is in California, which went for Hillary. Former DNC chair (and Obama supporter) David Wilhelm lives in Ohio but says he thinks he's more of a national representative. (And is Pelosi, as Speaker of the House, a national figure?) Should it be based on your congressional district, as delegate allocation is? What if you aren't even an elected official with a constituency? What about superdelegates like Al Gore?

As the New York Times put it:

"Several senior officials cautioned that the party elders had not yet determined whether the superdelegates should be urged to cast their votes for the candidate who has the most delegates, or the one who won their state or Congressional district, or the winner of the popular vote. Because Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton might lead in different categories, the question is a vital one."

*

And while we're here, let's finally start that campaign to eliminate the Electoral College.

Change Bank
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, quoted on the Tribune editorial page on Saturday:

"The word 'change' is so overused that it's in danger of sliding past platitude into meaninglessness . . . before long, [Obama]'s going to have to give us a more concrete sense of how this whole change business would work."

I know! It's almost time for Obama to explain what he means.

*

"What we need is a president who's in the business of solving problems, and we will solve problems by bringing this country together and rallying the United States of America around a common purpose."

1. Obama said he'd disclose that purpose sometime after he's elected.
2. And that purpose is to rally together around a common purpose.

From his secret money operation to his media manipulation, Obamathon pulls back the curtain on one of the biggest political fairy tales of our times.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:42 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

Anybody out there watch the NBA All-Star game on Sunday?

How about the Daytona 500?

I didn't think so.

The former is abysmally bad basketball from start to finish. It is the worst game of the season. And yet, year after year it is apparently a very tough ticket. Nowhere in the world of sports is there a bigger disconnect between the actual amount of real sports entertainment generated by an event and the cost of a ticket to that event. And nowhere is there a better example of the triumph of spectacle over actual sport. I would rather watch a late-season Grizzlies-Timberwolves brickfest than the yearly "all-star" debacle where the only competition is to see who can throw the most ridiculous alley-oop.

Then there are the guys driving around in all those thrilling circles in Spring Breakville.

The set-up of the whole thing has always seemed fundamentally flawed - the biggest race of the year on the first day of the season? But stock car racing became increasingly more popular in the final 10 years of the last century and the first five of this one. Then the momentum flagged. And television ratings have gone down the last two years. Fortunately, NASCAR still has its primary selling point: The whiteness of its drivers.

I remember a conversation last year with a proud Caucasian who lives in my neighborhood and who has never tried very hard to disguise his disdain for other races. Initially, we were talking about Notre Dame football. He'd been hoping head coach Charlie Weis would step up and succeed where his darker-complected predecessor Tyrone Willingham had struggled. Weis has now officially failed to do that, posting a much worse record in his third year than Willingham did, but Weis is getting a longer opportunity (at least one additional year on the job). The guy I know is pinning his last little bit of hope to Weiss' seeming superiority as a recruiter.

After a little while the conversation turned to NASCAR and he became the first person I have ever known (in my relatively sheltered Chicago-centric life) to tell me about his stock car racing fantasy league. Enough said. As for those television ratings, maybe it's that people have figured out cars driving around in, let's get it right this time - ovals - just cannot be classified as compelling entertainment. Or maybe it's because recent safety innovations have made it much less likely that drivers are going to die out there.

Seems like a good time to move along to a little baseball, eh?

* There's been a lot of chatter about measuring the Mets for championship rings. Many have pronounced them the favorites in the National League on the heels of their trade for multi-Cy Young-Award-winning starting pitcher Johan Santana. Even normally mild-mannered outfielder Carlos Beltran got into the act over the weekend, pronouncing that his Mets are the team to beat. Excuse me? Just how many championships did Johan lead the Twins to during his otherwise seriously impressive run of success the last half-dozen years or so? The answer is, of course, none.

The favorites in the National League, based on last year's performance and on pitching, have to be the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team that already featured ace Brandon Webb, who made such quick work of the Cubs in the playoffs last fall, added Oakland ace Dan Haren via an off-season trade. And Randy Johnson is due back from injury for goodness sake.

OK, so the chances of the 40-something Johnson coming back 100 percent for even the majority of the season are tiny. But still, the Diamondbacks have it over the Mets in terms of pitching in particular. And playoff teams need a one-two pitching punch.

* Smarter scribes than I have said what needs to be said about Roger Clemens. OK, OK, I will say one thing: In the immortal words of Eddie Murphy at the end of Beverly Hills Cop, "You were lying your ass off."

* I love Kerry Wood pitching ninth innings for the 2008 Cubs. Carlos Marmol is too valuable putting out fires in the sixth or seventh innings and going one-plus or even two-plus innings when needed. I don't care how good he was as a closer during winter ball. Bobby Howry has proven he can pitch the eighth. Then Wood comes in to get those three last, brutal outs.

I'm sure Mr. Piniella will see things this way and I look forward to watching him put our master plan into effect in the coming campaign.

* And finally . . . the Blackhawks won another one on Sunday, their third victory in a row. But they still stand six points in back of the Vancouver Canucks in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Still, they opened it up and won big against divisional foes Columbus and Nashville earlier in the week, then played it close to the vest and edged the Avalanche on Sunday. And whoops there went another big ol' home sellout on Sunday. Here come the Hawks, the migh-ty Black-hawks. Take the attack, yeah, we'll back you Blackhawks.

-

COMMENTS
From Eric Emery: I checked out the Daytona 500 yesterday too. I got a new TV, and I've been told that NASCAR is wonderful on HD. Here's where the experience went wrong:

* A friendly pre-race interview with some old drivers regarding a crash and subsequent fight they had. Here's a good idea: Let's glorify road rage. Here's another good idea: If you were truly mad back then for somebody putting your livelihood in danger, you should still be mad. Do you think Rudy Tomjanovich and Kermit Washington exchange Christmas cards?

* Pre-race entertainment :Chubby Checker. I'm implored to "Do the Twist" at every third-rate wedding with a DJ, so why should I do the twist on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Besides, who knew Chubby Checker was still alive? Based on CC's ability to lip sync, he's not too far off.

* Pre-race prayer. I get a prayer for our troops, but for our racers?

* Drivers like to complain about their cars. Maybe it's not the car's fault. Maybe you stink.

And Emery on Wood . . .
About Kerry Wood being the closer: If you enjoy watching a pitcher get two quick strikes, having the crowd rise as one, and then have the pitcher tighten up and throw four straight balls, Wood is your man.

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

The Kitchen Master

Ten Things I Learned From Watching Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America.

1. Gordon Ramsay is one of the few 41-year old men who can disrobe on camera and not send viewers screaming from the room or cause one's eyes to bleed out upon seeing the body of a hard-living head chef and TV host. Shockingly, Ramsay looks pretty damn good for someone who spends most of his time sampling inedible dishes from the crappy restaurants he's been sent to fix.

2. Gordon Ramsay is Britain's answer to Chuck Norris minus the stumping for a presidential candidate and martial arts expertise. Just like the legendary Norris, Ramsay has scores of special powers and super-human strength that bring kitchen staffs to their knees.

3. Gordon Ramsay can magically sharpen a dull carving knife by just thinking about it.

4. Gordon Ramsay can use telepathy to train a naif chef to cook a perfect risotto.

5. By rubbing his spiky blond hair, Gordon Ramsay can find the most perfect truffles without the using the snout of a truffle-trained pig.

6. Gordon Ramsay can speed up the aging of a single-malt whiskey by 10 years by seductively whispering about it to his wife before a late-night romp.

7. Gordon Ramsay stores all of his cooking supplies in the crags in his face.

8. Gordon Ramsay can whip up a dish with ingredients that haven't even been discovered yet and it will taste better than anything ever made in the past, present or future. Not only are foodies in awe of this achievement, but also the dish is so wonderful it will resurrect Julia Child.

9. Michelin stars are so afraid of Gordon Ramsay that they will never be taken away no matter how bad the food and service in his restaurants gets.

10. Ramsay, like most Brits, can say quirky words such as plonker and wanker and get away with it. Why? It's all about the accent. The English accent implies a certain amount of class, sophistication and education. Getting cussed out by someone with an English accent is less unnerving as say, suffering through the same verbal barrage by folks like, say, Mayor Richard M. Daley. (But what fun it would be to hear Daley call recalcitrant aldermen "wankers" with that Bridgeport twang of his.)

*

Julia Gray can turn the channel to BBC America just by thinking about it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

Rebellious Teens = Future Millionaires

REBELLIOUS TEENS MAKE GREAT FUTURE MILLIONAIRES!

"Show me a rebellious teen and I'll show you a millionaire in the making!"
-Troy Dunn, author of Young Bucks: How To Raise A Future Millionaire.

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Is a hammer a tool or a weapon? Depends on how it's used, right? So it is with the energy and attitudes of our kids! Raw kid-energy without a channel to run it through is a bomb waiting to go off. But when funneled into something of substance, success is created!

Too many parents are blind to the true potential of their kid's because they MIS-LABEL THEM! They unknowingly label them as failures when in fact they are exhibiting the raw ingredients for SUCCESS!

For example, here are some examples of bad parental labeling:

* Misguided Parents label kids as STUBBORN. Troy Dunn labels that same child with millionaire labels such as PERSISTENT, NON-CONFORMING and SELF CONFIDENT.

* Misguided Parents label kids as HYPERACTIVE. Troy Dunn labels that same child with millionaire labels such as ENTHUSIASM and SENSE OF URGENCY.

* Misguided Parents label kids as BOSSY. Troy Dunn labels that same child with millionaire labels such as LEADERSHIP and DETERMINATION.

* Misguided Parents label kids as SHY. Troy Dunn labels that same child with millionaire labels such as CONTEMPLATIVE, PATIENT and A GOOD LISTENER.

* Misguided Parents label kids as DAYDREAMER. Troy Dunn labels that same child with millionaire labels such as CREATIVE, IMAGINATIVE and ORIGINAL.

Let Troy Dunn enlighten and educate your viewers as he guides parents thru the process of taming their "wild child" and converting him/her into a future millionaire!

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ABOUT TROY DUNN . . .
Troy Dunn is a witty, radio and TV-savvy guest whom your audience will recognize from his hundreds of talk show appearances including Good Morning America. To view Troy on Dr. Phil, The Today Show, or The View, visit: www.TroyDunn.com/tv.html.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

We'd like to share more about the key stories this weekend, but it'll have to wait until the lawsuit clears.

Market Update
Bad week for balloonist futures.

Trader Nos
In response to customer concerns, Trader Joe's has announced it will no longer import certain foods from China. They may still import potential customers, however.

Salt in the Wound
Researchers concluded this week that Mars is too salty to support life. Despite a recent legal action, Jupiter insists it has nothing to do with its tiny neighbor's sorry state.

Airing Concerns
Proponents of future Mars colonization can take heart, however. Despite the salt and acidity, the atmosphere on the Red Planet is still about twice as hospitable as that in Beijing.

Wardrobe Function
Apparently the very real threat of a rampaging on-camera crack binge was not what kept CBS brass up the night before the Grammys. Instead it was the very real threat of being taken down by a pair of cartoon tits. Again.

Va-Jay-Jane
Finally this week, organizers of future Super Bowl half-time shows should take note. Even an old, established act can bite you in the ass sometimes.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:02 AM | Permalink

February 15, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

"A gunman dressed in black stormed into an oceanography class at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb Thursday afternoon and opened fire with a shotgun and two handguns, killing five students and wounding 16 more in a matter of seconds," the Tribune reports.

"Then, still on stage, he killed himself."

In a separate report, the Tribune describes the scene this way:

"About 15 minutes were left in Geology 104: Introduction to Ocean Science, and junior Dan Sweeney was checking the time when the door beneath the lecture hall's clock flew open.

"In strode a thin young man dressed in black, a dark knit cap atop his head, a shotgun in his hands.

"Time stopped. There was no fear, no panic in the half-full room - only an icy moment of bewilderment.

"'Nothing seemed out of place,' said junior Doug Quesnel, 22. 'It was weird he walked through there, but nothing seemed wrong until the shots went off."

Northern Illinois University is posting updates on its website.

SuperDelegate
Former DNC chair and Obama superdelegate David Wilhelm trips himself up.

Politics of Hope
"Here's some interesting context to the behind-the-scenes battle that's underway between Hillary and Obama for the support of super-delegates. It turns out that the super-delegates have received campaign contributions from both sides, though its unclear whether this money has had any impact on any decisions they've made," Greg Sargent writes at Talking Points Memo.

"The Center for Responsive Politics has a new study out which finds that the two have donated a total of more than $890,000 to those super-delegates who are elected officials in the past three years. Who's donated more? Obama has, by far."

Revelation
"Rep. Will Davis' (D-Hazel Crest) effort to change the name of the law from the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act to the Student Silent Reflection Act was rejected by a House committee on Thursday," the Tribune reports.

Just in case there was any lingering doubt.

*

Democrats have the majority in the House, just so you know who to blame.

*

Obama voted "present."

Daley's Dance
The mayor didn't deny on Thursday allegations by former city clerk Jim Laski that he's lying about corruption in his administration, he just evaded the questions.

"Jim Laski's had a lot of personal problems in his life, and challenges," Daley said. "I'm not gonna [respond] to his personal challenges."

Classy.

"The mayor was asked point-blank whether Laski was lying when he claimed to have worked through Daley's top lieutenants to get Hired Truck business for the lifelong friend who betrayed him," the Sun-Times reports.

"He'll say everything in the book about me. Nobody else," Daley said in what some people might call a lie. Laski hardly focuses just on the mayor.

But the response got him around actually answering the question.

*

Who was more believable this week, Richard M. Daley or Roger Clemens? Discuss.

Simon Says
"I am, in my mind, a newspaperman still. I just don't work for a newspaper anymore," The Wire impresario David Simon writes in Esquire. "I've lost my religion, that too much of what I genuinely loved is gone."

*

Just as you don't need to wear a uniform to have honor, you don't have to work at a newspaper to be a newspaperman.

Scheider's Story
"For most people, he will always be Chief Brody - and that's fair enough. Jaws still rocks, and remains a rich, tart study of male behavior," Rod Heath writes in an essay about Roy Scheider over at Ferdy on Films.

Fun fact: The studio wanted Charlton Heston for the role.

Lived To Tell
"In 2005, former Ald. Leon Despres published Challenging the Daley Machine, his memoir of opposing the reign of Richard J. Daley," the Beachwood recalled last August. "He once said of the book, 'I am describing the last of the great urban political machines in America and the birth of a new globalized political machine with its permanent campaign and high-tech politics and government, but with the same old-fashioned patronage, nepotism, and corruption which characterized the first Daley Machine.'"

Leon Despres is celebrating his 100th birthday this week.

Floppy Earmarks
"I'm returning to transparency and Obama," Lynn Sweet writes today, "because Obama's reluctance to tell the whole story on earmarks and other matters is a habit with him. Now Obama has created an opening that his GOP opponents are using to hit him."

Sweet is referring to a Washington Post story that says in part:

"Obama's criticism of Washington's insider culture is a linchpin of his campaign; he supports earmarks only for public entities such as schools and hospitals. He secured $3.3 million in earmarks through his own sponsorship, and collected $88 million in concert with other Illinois lawmakers.

"Since last year, he has publicly released the letters he submits to the Appropriations Committee seeking support for the spending items, but has not released those submitted to the committee in 2005 and 2006."

Ironically, it was Obama's Republican predecessor, Peter Fitzgerald, who famously said he wouldn't support pork projects just because they were located in Illinois.

*

The Post also reported this last fall: "Just a few months before he joined the presidential race, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) co-sponsored a little-noticed proposal to require the Pentagon to spend $2 million on brain trauma research for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The beneficiary of the Aug. 2, 2006, earmark from him and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) was undeniably close to home: the University of Chicago, where his wife, Michelle, worked as the university hospital's vice president for community and external affairs."

The Obama earmark was controversial in two ways. First:

"Bernadette Sargeant, a former counsel for the House ethics committee, questioned whether Obama should have put his name on a request that would have sent funds to his wife's employer. 'It is not like her salary is going to change because of this benefit,' she said. 'But, given her title and the stature of her position, it is a prestige enhancement, or could be perceived as a prestige enhancement.'"

(What Sargeant may not know is that Michelle Obama received an extraordinarily huge raise once her husband was elected to the Senate.)

"Sargeant said Obama's decision to co-sponsor the earmark raises concerns under two provisions of the Senate ethics code. The first requires senators to avoid performing official acts that can directly benefit a spouse, and the second more broadly tells senators to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest."

Second: "The earmark faced stiff opposition on the Senate floor last year. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), then the Appropriations Committee chairman, said directing the funds to the University of Chicago would circumvent the normal process by which the National Institutes of Health hands out research funds."

Stevens, of course, is an earmark hog. But that doesn't invalidate his point.

Says It All
"The Daily News said Wednesday that it would become the first major newspaper in the country capable of printing full color on every page."

1. GM announces all cars will now come with four wheels.
2. Movies to become "talkies."
3. Phones without wires!

The Beachwood Tip Line: Colorful.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:51 AM | Permalink

The Right Stuff: Obama's Talking Points

"Like Krugman, we've been stunned and saddened at the Dem-on-Dem hatred displayed in comments around the web," Bob Somerby wrote this week. "(Our reaction to the South Carolina debate: Those are the three best candidates we've ever seen in a three-candidate forum.) We wouldn't know how to quantify this. But, like Krugman, it's our impression that more of this comes from Obama supporters. We can think of an obvious reason for that: There's a sixteen-year catalogue of demonology to access about Candidate Clinton.

"For our money, it's sad to see how many Democrats have purchased this RNC-inspired, MSM-driven package. But it's understandable that this has occurred. To amplify something Krugman said: Many Democrats also believed that Al Gore said he invented the Internet. Indeed, why wouldn't they have purchased that tale, and so many others like it? They heard these tales a thousand times. They rarely heard them contradicted."

Somerby faults Obama supporters, but not Obama himself, though his campaign has counted on and exploited the Republican attack machine's sliming of the Clintons instead of transcending and uniting. Let's take a look.

*

New Obama ad in Wisconsin: "It's the same old politics, of phony charges and false attacks."

The ad uses four quotes that praise Obama policy positions. Two are from BarackObama.com. And a third cites the AP saying Obama's housing plan "stems foreclosure" - which is simply the AP quoting what the Obama campaign claims.

So, yes, it's the same old politics.

*

The Tribune's Eric Zorn likewise provides a link to an American Prospect article from last September derailing the myth of Hillarycare with two words: "Interesting reading."

Zorn doesn't note that Obama himself has used the same lines of attack against Hillary Clinton, particularly his assertions in debates that she doomed health care reform in the Bill Clinton presidency by being too secretive, and the even more egregious reprise of Harry and Louise.

From the American Prospect, by an insider who was there:

"This was the 'secretive' process that critics of Hillary have in mind when they attack her. Compared to policy development in other administrations, it was exceptionally open and inclusive, but those very efforts to bring people in excited objections that the White House wasn't open and inclusive enough. In setting up the working groups (which were only supposed to develop preliminary options and information, not to conduct negotiations), the White House left out representatives of interest groups.

"No one would have complained about secrecy if the White House had simply done business the usual way - entirely behind closed doors, without any formal external participation.

"Clinton could not get a single Republican vote for his 1993 budget, and Whitewater broke at the beginning of 1994. All the elements of the conservative coalition, from the anti-taxers to the social conservatives, mobilized against the Clinton health plan and against the Clintons personally, while liberals were ambivalent and Democrats in Congress were divided.

"During the battle over the Clinton plan, conservative talk radio hosts and insurance-industry advertising on television conjured up lurid fears that the federal government would control every detail of medical care. But it wasn't only the right-wing noise machine that stirred up panic with outright fabrications. The New Republic carried an article that charged the Clinton bill would 'prevent you from going outside the system to buy basic health coverage you think is better. The doctor can be paid only by the plan, not by you.' In fact, one of the first provisions of the bill stated: 'Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting the following: (1) An individual from purchasing any health care services.'

"In a January 1995 Atlantic article, "A Triumph of Misinformation," James Fallows patiently went through the whole catalog of distortions about the Clinton health plan - that it had been 'hatched in secret,' got bogged down and delivered too late, constituted a government takeover of health care when the problem was 'solving itself,' and was developed and presented in so politically naive and doctrinaire a way that the administration missed the chance for bipartisan compromise. But, Fallows notwithstanding, the Hillarycare myths live on even in the same magazine. In an article last year, The Atlantic's Joshua Green repeated many of the old canards about the task force and Hillary that Fallows had shown were wrong.

"Like Green's article, Carl Bernstein's biography argues that Hillary doomed the health plan because of her secretiveness and rigidity. Bernstein, who can't get the basic facts right, supposes that Hillary was entirely in control. "

*

Obama's historical recall of the 90s is always from the right-wing perspective.

*

Likewise, Obama's rhetoric about where Hillary Clinton stood on NAFTA is just plain in opposition to what insiders and even her own unauthorized biographers, including Bernstein, have reported.

*

"We've been here before," Somerby writes.

And it's Obama who is on the wrong side of history.

*

The Obama campaign, in fact, seems to agree with the Republican attacks of the 90s. It's very slogan, "Change We Can Believe In," is meant to convey that Hillary Clinton is a liar.

When campaign manager David Plouffe writes in an e-mail to supporters that "It's time to put an end to the say-anything-to-win politics of the past," he's accusing Hillary Clinton of a willingness to say anything to win.

Michelle Obama is also attacking from the old Rush Limbaugh/Newt Gingrich battlements when she writes in a fundraising e-mail that "We expected that Bill Clinton would tout his record from the nineties and talk about Hillary's role in his past success. That's a fair approach and a challenge we are prepared to face. What we didn't expect, at least not from our fellow Democrats, are the win-at-all-costs tactics we've seen recently. We didn't expect misleading accusations that willfully distort Barack's record."

That's disingenuous on at least three different levels. See if you can find them.

*

For a Democrat to recycle the right-wing attack machinery's talking points of the 90s is disgusting; it validates the very force most responsible for whatever divisions we have. If Obama was a true uniter, he would defend the honor of the Clintons. He could base his campaign on uniting around an agenda: Renew America or American Renewal or something like that. Instead, he's been in the mud since day one. But then . . . that's his history if anyone would bother to pay attention. Some might say he'll do anything to win.

*

And by the way, I never voted for Bill Clinton.

*

"Markos Moulitsas Z¿niga, founder of the popular blog Daily Kos, accused Obama (D-Ill.) of embracing a 'right-wing talking point' as he campaigned and said: 'I don't want to go into the next election starting off with half the country already not wanting to vote for Democrats. We've done that in 2004, 2000,'" the Washington Post reported in January.

"In a blog post headlined 'Obama slams Gore,' Moulitsas wrote: 'Psst, Barack, slamming John Kerry and Al Gore is what Republicans do. Last time I checked, Gore won his election. And really, is Obama going to argue now that the nation was divided because of the Democrats' fault? Is that the latest right-wing talking point he wants to peddle?'"

Note use of the word "latest."

And check out the Update.

*

More Obama from the right:

- On Social Security.

- On trial lawyers.

(Prompting Kos to say: "I am really starting to see Obama as someone who will rush to embrace every right-wing talking point against every Democratic constituencies."

(And Atrios: "Is there a right wing talking point Obama hasn't rushed to embrace? Going after trial lawyers? Jeebus.")

- On tax cuts.

*

And then there's this absurdity. Bill Clinton was one of America's most popular presidents, despite being its most attacked and investigated. The right-wing nutjobs don't want you to remember that; nor does Obama.

*

Finally, Obama has linked the Clinton years to the Bush years, while pining for the Reagan years. It's clever to link the Bush and Clinton administrations together as something we need to "turn the page" on, but is honest? Two different eras - in opposition with each other.

*

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Hillary Clinton supporter. Nor, for that matter, am I a Democrat. I am a journalist.

*

"It is not our job to fall in love with Barack Obama," NBC5's Phil Rogers said recently. "Our job is to go through his trash . . . we are failing. We are getting F grades on Barack Obama. The news media has jumped on the bandwagon."

And that way, as we've seen, lies madness.

-

From his secret money operation to his media manipulation, Obamathon pulls back the curtain on one of the biggest political fairy tales of our times.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:42 AM | Permalink

Greetings From Chicago!

Inspired by the Chicago Postcard Museum, we introduce the first run of the Beachwood Postcard Series. Greetings From Chicago!

1. The Heat Is On!

Greetings From Chicago

2. World's Busiest Airport!

Greetings From Chicago

*

3. Mighty Sosa Corks The Bat!

Sosa

*

- Bethany Lankin

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:54 AM | Permalink

Country Fried TV

Although I tend to annoy easily with the sport of channel-surfing during commercial breaks, if it were not for this attention-deficit idiosyncracy of my boyfriend's, I would never have stumbled into the merriment of Country Fried Home Videos.

Country Music Television (CMT) is not a channel that I have explored much in the past, for good reason; I don't care for today's popular country music. But CMT, much like its mother station MTV, has gotten away from focusing on the very reason for its existence - the M's of their acronyms. Bad for MTV, good for CMT.

So suddenly, CMT is a tolerable stop on the dial, but only on the rare occasion that Discovery has nothing to offer (or because you decided against watching Bear Grylls in the Sahara desert for the fourth time . . . even if he does wear a pee-soaked t-shirt turban and eat feces in that episode). CMT is now airing shows that are remakes of existing shows on MTV, done with a brazen splash of redneck. The equivalent to MTV's Pimp My Ride, for example, is called Trick My Truck.

Now, I will be the first to tell you I do not normally enjoy redneck humor. But before I could even let my prejudices resist it, I laughed out loud no less than fifteen times upon discovering Country Fried Home Videos for the first time. The host, Bill Engvall is apparently one of the leading men of the Blue Collar Comedy group. Engvall is a crasser, funnier version of Bob Saget (and Tom Bergeron). His narration of stupidity is sharp-witted and well-delivered.

Bob Saget lacked that edge - that willingness to frankly say, "Look at the freaking idiots go!" Now that I have found Engvall and CHFV, I suddenly realize what was so profoundly lacking in Saget's America's Funniest Home Videos, aside from a large percentage of crazy rednecks: Instead of telling it like it was, he played it cute. I still want to punch him to this very day.

*

In a segment called "Bite Club," for example, a kid gets his head stuck in a metal mascot statue, and the authorities have to cut off the mascot's tooth in order to free the kid. Engvall tells the kid to "Put that under your pillow. Maybe the tooth-fairy will bring you the $10,000 it will cost to replace it."

And then he picks on him for crying.

In the same bit, when a very large man gets his head clamped hard by the jaws of an alligator, Engvall enthusiastically delivers, "Kenny tastes like chicken!" Prior to this clip airing, I had never once laughed at someone making a "tastes like chicken" joke. But this made my nostrils flare a little.

Another charming segment found in every episode I have thus far seen is "World's Strongest Redneck," where a man named Steve McGranahan performs absurdly difficult feats of strength. He crushes full apples with his single hand, puts them into a jar, and calls it applesauce. He rips a deck of cards wrapped in masking tape, pushes semis, and picks up an intact collection of encyclopedias from the ground, his hands like bookends.

The prize for each episode's best video is called the "Here's Your Sign" award, which is a reference to Engvall's stand-up routine of the same name. And $1,000 cash. Not bad.

*

So if you are ever flipping (which I believe to signify a lack of passion for the show being flipped from anyway) and find yourself bursting into laughter as you come across real videos of genuine stupid in action, submitted by the stupids on the video themselves, then you've stopped on Country Fried Home Videos.

"Where," according to Engvall, "if taxidermy is the biggest word you know, you're in the right place."


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 AM | Permalink

February 14, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

1. Give the gift of breaking up.

2. The best love letter appearing anywhere in the world today that isn't based on a Bob Dylan or Replacements song.

3. The best news appearing anywhere in the world over the last 24 hours:

"After years of hinting at it, Rhino/Warner Bros. Records finally announced plans to reissue the first four albums by Minnesota rock legends the Replacements on April 22, complete with bonus cuts, new liner notes and remastering," the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis reports.

"Rare tracks being dusted off for the reissues include oft-bootlegged B-sides and outtakes such as 'If Only You Were Lonely,' 'Bad Worker' and Staples in Her Stomach'; the solo demos by Westerberg that got the band signed to Twin/Tone; alternate takes of classics such as 'Answering Machine,' 'Sixteen Blue' and 'Customer,' plus cover songs including Hank Williams' 'Hey Good Lookin',' T. Rex's '20th Century Boy' and even the Grass Roots' 'Temptation Eyes.'"

4. On the surface, I thought Roger Clemens was easily a better witness than accuser Brian McNamee in their testimony on Wednesday before a congressional committee. Clemens came off as strong, forthright, folksy, earnest and honest. McNamee came off as a squirmy punk with a history of lying. But the facts that emerged were not on Clemens' side. And in the end, reality and facts are more important than appearance and performance.

5. "Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez is prominently featured in a recent issue of Dominican cockfighting magazine, En La Traba, in which he is pictured with several roosters that he raises for fighting," the New York Times reported on Wednesday in an article about ballplayers caught up in cockfighting controversy.

"Of roosters, he said in the magazine, 'When I'm in the Dominican Republic, I'm dedicated entirely to them.'"

6. "Mr. McCain's advisers said that the candidate, despite his signature legislative efforts to restrict the money spent on political campaigns, would not accept public financing and spending limits for this year's general campaign," the Times reports.

"But in 2007, Mr. McCain did agree to a non-aggression pact with Senator Barack Obama to accept public financing, about $85 million each for the general election, if the Democratic nominee did the same.

"Mr. Obama, who is raising money at a rate of $1 million a day, has since said he will not use public financing for the fall campaign."

I guess the new politics doesn't start at home for either of these guys.

7. Or this one.

"Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr. is so frustrated with the legislative process that he wrote a letter to the editor ('Tax Credit,' Voice of the People, Feb. 7) calling on a fellow Democrat in the House to release one of his Senate bills from the House Rules Committee," Cynthia Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform writes to the Tribune today.

"The government reform community in Illinois knows the aggravation of having one legislative chamber pass a bill unanimously only to have the leadership of the other chamber hold it hostage in the Rules Committee.

"That's exactly what Jones did with House Bill 1, which would prohibit large state contractors from making campaign contributions to the officeholders awarding the contracts."

8. Or this one.

"During the year that Mayor Daley's son had a hidden ownership stake in a sewer company, the business not only landed lucrative deals at City Hall, it also got work from another local government - the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago," Tim Novak reveals in the Sun-Times.

9. In yesterday's column (last item) I criticized the Tribune for turning valuable Op-Ed space over to the mayor and his propaganda, particularly while the mayor refuses to answer reporters' questions on so many fronts. I've also criticized the Sun-Times on the same grounds over the years.

Ben Joravsky of the Reader shows why this is such a bad practice.

"Now, in today's Tribune, there's an Op-Ed by the mayor that tells a few more whoppers about his role in our property tax system," he writes at Clout City.

Aside from Joravsky's disection of the mayor's media-enabled propaganda, it just so happens that Joravsky wrote about the mayor and property taxes this week in his The Works column. The highlights:

* "The central agent causing Chicago residents to be overtaxed is not the assessment system or even the review board. It's the mayor himself. In a nutshell, we're paying too much in property taxes because he's spending too much in property taxes."

* "The problem is that Daley's budget is built on a giant scam. He and his acolytes have blanketed the city with tax increment financing districts, which feed property taxes that could otherwise go to the city, county, schools, and parks, etc., into bank accounts that the mayor dips into whenever he pleases."

* "Amazingly, and appallingly, these slush funds don't appear anywhere in the city's budget - or on your property tax bill, for that matter. Yet the party line for city officials is that TIFs don't raise property taxes, and so they don't hesitate to create more and more of them. There's a TIF born almost every month now."

* "Anyone who's not a shill for the mayor will admit, at least privately, that TIFs raise property taxes. But hardly anyone wants to speak out publicly, for fear of attracting the mayor's wrath. And so the mayor is free to pretend he's an advocate for the beleaguered bungalow owner, fighting to keep a cap on property taxes even as he's jacking them up by millions of dollars a year."

With a helping hand from the local Op-Ed pages, which apparently see themselves as extensions of the mayor's public relations office.

10. Speaking of doing City Hall's bidding, the big front-page Sun-Times story today is a 21-paragraph wet kiss to the mayor's plan to privatize Midway Airport without a single critical voice.

(The Tribune's article wasn't much better; at least it was buried inside the Metro section where no one will ever see it. And Crain's also uncritically featured the story - "Mayor Richard M. Daley's plan to privatize Midway Airport is gaining altitude," ha ha - on its cover this week.)

If the mayor says it, there's no need to check it out?

Why not save money by just publishing the press release and eliminate the middlemen?

*

Bob Reed wrote last November that he was skeptical the airlines would play ball with Daley. Apparently they've come around, but Reed also wrote this in a post titled "Ground Plans to Sell Midway Airport":

"Hmmmm, let's get this straight. City Hall concedes its doing an inadequate job. And instead of improving and tightening operations, it's going to unload the place to the highest bidder. And that's good for the tenants and the city?

"Let's put it this way: When's the last time a new owner bought an apartment building and didn't raise the rent?

"Whoever buys Midway will start out in the hole by billions. That owner will quickly look to maximize revenue (by raising tenant rates) and cut costs by trimming operations and services. ('Hey, Sam, turn those runway lights off, that cost money!')

"I'd sleep better at night knowing Midway is being run by the city, as it has for the past 50-plus years, than by some private equity group that's just interested in it as a flight of fancy financing."

*

Similarly, Lynn Becker wrote last fall:

"In August, Crain's reported the city was talking with Macquarie Bank, which did the $1.8 billion 2004 deal leasing the Chicago Skyway from the city, about a possible similar deal to bail out the city from its {CTA super]station from Hell. It would become the latest addition to the mayor's ongoing fire sale - with Midway airport next - of Chicago's assets. The mayor gets a huge pot of money upfront in exchange for a 99-year lease, and unseen future residents, onto the fifth generation, get stuck with the problems. And if you don't think there's a good chance of there being problems, check out Fortune magazine's cautionary article where one analyst portrays Macquarie's business model as bearing 'the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme.' In the case of the Skyway deal, Fortune reports: 'In 2007 the Skyway will pay interest of just $129,000 on $961 million of debt. But the interest payment for 2018 is to be $480 million - that's not a typo.'

"Mayor Daley has been in office nearly two decades. He still struts down the street in his pinstripe master manager suit, but the threads have begun to fray. Can Chicago's media and civic elite ever bring themselves to call him to account? Or will they persist in seeing only what he wants them to see, the emperor's new clothes, until the garment completely disintegrates and we find only Abe Beame underneath?"

To be clear, I don't know if privatizing Midway Airport is a good thing or not. Maybe it's the best thing in the world. My point is that I don't know - because I'm certain I'm not getting all sides of the story, at least from the traditional mainstream media.

The Beachwood Tip Line: A private-public partnership.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: I Dreamed I Saw St. Valentine

I DREAMED I SAW ST.VALENTINE

I was cornered near Lincoln Park
by the Unholy Three: Gov. Blah-Blah-Blah-vich,
Speaker Mad Again and President Stroker.

They threatened to crank my Juice payment or
take away my buses and hospitals. "Gee whiz,
fellas!" I sputtered as they clenched their fat

fists around my whiny throat. Then suddenly came a
chorus
of angels, and a bright light broke through the ashen
clouds.
Like a great bald eagle, with the visage of Tony
Peraica,

St. Valentine in sandals descended. "Hark, ye Sharks!
The Age of Graft has now ended! Unhand this slave and
all who
tremble like him or ye shall wither like a First Ward
Republican!"

"Curses!" screamed the Three, in unison and with
feeling.
Then I awoke, clutching my throat, still in my orderly
scrubs,
late for work again and scrambling for my bus pass.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

Give The Gift Of Breaking Up

And other Valentine's Day press releases, e-mails, links and contributions we've received at Beachwood HQ.

*

1. THIS VALENTINE'S DAY, GIVE THE MOST THOUGHTFUL GIFT: BREAK-UP!

Valentine's Day is upon us once again. Hearts, flowers, and the best gift of all: Breaking up.

Say, what???

That's right: Break up with you lover. Temporarily break their heart - but set them free to be with their true soul mate and stop wasting their time and their life.

So says author and speaker, Dr. David Gudgel, who says to those who have been dating for a long time, "If you want to give each other the ultimate gift of love this Valentine's Day, either propose or break up."

Dr. Gudgel, author of the book, Before You Get Engaged (Thomas Nelson 2008), explains that too many people who are in long-term dating relationships are kept "waiting on the shelf" because one or both wants the companionship but isn't ready for the commitment of marriage . . . and may never be.

It may sound cold or unkind, but Dr. Dave's practical advice often ends up with warm and wonderful happy endings - for someone else.

How does a couple know if they are heading toward, or are ready to, get married? Ask Dr. Dave.

ABOUT THE EXPERTS
* DAVID GUDGEL is the senior pastor at Bethany Bible Church and host of a thirty minute weekday radio program in Phoenix, AZ. A graduate of Westmont College, Talbot Theological Seminary, and Western Seminary, Dr. Gudgel has been in vocational ministry for thirty-five years. David is the author of numerous books and articles including Before You Get Engaged and Before You Live together. He and his wife Bernice have three twentysomething children: one married, one not, and one (Brent) thinking seriously about it and has coauthored a book about the pondering process.

BRENT GUDGEL is a filmmaker and photographer in Los Angeles. An owner of Chronicle Project, he directed the film Dear Francis, which aired on Showtime in 2007. David has worked on projects in over twenty countries. When not on a set, Brent travels to conferences, colleges, camps, and churches across America to speak about social justice. Three months after he and his girlfriend Danielle finished coauthoring their book, they got engaged, and four months after they got engaged, they got married in November, 2007 - and they're still married!

ABOUT THE BOOK
In Before You Get Engaged, authors David Gudgel, his son Brent, and Brent's girlfriend Danielle, interact in a discussion that not only reveals twelve relational indicators indispensable to a healthy, lasting marriage, but fleshes them out with dialogue and insight straight from Brent and Danielle's journals.

*

2. feb 14th
From: akstcacmamnsdgs@acma.biz
Subject: feb 14th
Date: February 7, 2008 8:58:28 PM CST
To: crogers@speakeasy.net
Grab a gift for your love one`s at valetines day
http://bciiasogp.com
Maybe aRolex?
SALEPRICE

*

3. ART-SHAPED, HIS & HER BURRITO, MARGARITAS FOR VALENTINE'S DAY

The Twisted Lizard Introduces the "His & Herrito" and Buy 1 Get 1 Free Margaritas for Couples Feb. 14 - 17

WHO: Lincoln Park's 15-year old Twisted Lizard offers couples who want a laid back, inexpensive Valentine's Day the new "His & Herrito" and His & Her Margaritas.

WHAT: A heart-shaped burrito big enough for two, couples can pick different sauces and fillings for their own tastes and it comes beautifully presented on one plate, for Valentines to share. $25 for dinner for two including rice and beans for two, and two free margaritas. Buy one get one free margaritas for the rest of the evening also included.

For couples who want a fun atmosphere on Valentine's Day and don't want to spend a fortune, come try authentic Mexican food with a romantic twist. The Twisted Lizard is one of Lincoln Parks' treasures, and is known for Chicago's best margaritas. Whether you are looking for strawberry, raspberry or regular, Twisted's margaritas and custom "His & Herrito" will make for a relaxing date on Valentine's Day. You are destined to fall in love with this adorable looking and mouth-watering meal. Steak, grilled chicken, guajillo chicken, seafood, vegetable burritos available with green tomatillo, tomato, pico de gallo, habanero or mole sauce. The Twisted Lizard has sauces and margaritas to meet anyone's taste.

WHEN: Thursday February 14 - Sunday February 17, 2008
Hours: Thurs: 4pm-11pm, Fri & Sat: 11am-Midnight, Sun: 11am-10pm

WHERE: 1964 N. Sheffield, Chicago, IL 60614
773.929.1414
The Twisted Lizard is located at Sheffield and Armitage, 1/2 block from the Brown/Purple Line Armitage Stop, just south of Armitage from the train station on the west side of the street, next to Starbucks.

For more information, www.kincadesbar.com/twisted/

*

4. "Eight million Americans admit they send themselves Valentine's Day gifts - they may feel lonely and unloved but at least they will get something nice."

*

5. Best Valentine's Ever!
Fling.com
From: cozmo@serious.universal-coverage.com
Have the Best Valentines Ever!
http://serious.universal-coverage.com/C/11/367/659809
Find a fling, click now!

*

6.I DREAMED I SAW ST.VALENTINE
By J.J. Tindall

I was cornered near Lincoln Park
by the Unholy Three: Gov. Blah-Blah-Blah-vich,
Speaker Mad Again and President Stroker.

They threatened to crank my Juice payment or
take away my buses and hospitals. "Gee whiz,
fellas!" I sputtered as they clenched their fat

fists around my whiny throat. Then suddenly came a
chorus
of angels, and a bright light broke through the ashen
clouds.
Like a great bald eagle, with the visage of Tony
Peraica,

St. Valentine in sandals descended. "Hark, ye Sharks!
The Age of Graft has now ended! Unhand this slave and
all who
tremble like him or ye shall wither like a First Ward
Republican!"

"Curses!" screamed the Three, in unison and with
feeling.
Then I awoke, clutching my throat, still in my orderly
scrubs,
late for work again and scrambling for my bus pass.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:35 AM | Permalink

February 13, 2008

The [Wednesday] Papers

Okay, this is getting way beyond creepy.

Skyjackers
"Another wave of mega-airline mergers is ready for take-off. But will Uncle Sam just go along for the ride? Let's hope not," Bob Reed writes.

"A proposed deal is in the works between Delta and Northwest. So is a similar link-up between United and Continental. And don't rule out American finding a partner, too.

"Going forward, however, events are less certain and more dodgy. Indeed, there are enough serious questions and concerns dogging airline combines that it would not be a surprise if a new Administration - whether it was headed by John McCain, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton - sought to kill these agreements as they seek federal regulatory approval."

Like Beer
"Internet Saves Energy."

Is there anything the Internet can't do?

Nixonland
"Folks, you've been played like a fiddle by people in the media who just plain hate the Clintons," Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times on Monday. "They tried to take Hillary down over her clothes, her voice, her tears. When none of that worked, they invented a race war.

"There are some perfectly good arguments against Hillary - Iraq, the presence of people like Mark Penn, the big-money Dems in her circle. But this really is Al-Gore-says-he-invented-the-Internet stuff. And it's deeply depressing to see so many progressives fall for it."

*

Somerby weighs in: "As Krugman notes, this has nothing to do with who you think should win the Democratic nomination. (Our reaction to the last Dem debate: It's a shame that one of these two has to lose.) This isn't about Obama or Clinton - this is about the "butcher of Broadway" [Frank Rich] and his loathsome media pals. For twenty straight months during Campaign 2000, these people "played" you about Al Gore - and Rich kept it up for years after that. But then, Rich has always been a butcher - and butchers play by bloody rules. Just ask the dead of Iraq! The butcher sent them their current war when he pimped, so hard and so dumbly, against vile Candidate Gore."

Whorehouse
Speaking of pimping, the usually astute Zay Smith wrote this item for his QT column today:

"So you'd call it . . . ?
"News Item: Hillary Clinton says 'no temporary suspension or half-hearted apology is sufficient' punishment for MSNBC correspondent David Shuster, who remarked that it seemed as if Chelsea was 'sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way" by the campaign.'

"Chelsea couldn't be reached for comment, as she was being made available for a lunch date with a 21-year-old superdelegate in Milwaukee."

Mildly amusing, yes, but I'm trying to remember how Mitt Romney's five sons were described when they hit the trail for their dad.

READER COMMENT: Nick Jarmusz writes: "Allow me to refresh your memory on the treatment Mitt Romney s sons received from the media. Last May, while appearing on 60 Minutes, they were asked by Mike Wallace why none of them ever decided to put on a uniform and go to war. Considering that Sen. Clinton actually had an official role in authorizing the war in question, I m surprised that no one has ever asked Chelsea the same question. Actually, on second thought, I m not surprised. Why? Because no one has been able to ask Chelsea ANY questions. Unlike the Romney boys, who made themselves widely available to the media while campaigning for their father, Ms. Clinton is (in her own words) off-limits to the media."

SuperSanctimonious
The Tribune editorializes this morning against superdelegates and it's hard to disagree. I'm against them too. But I find all this sudden sanctimony a bit too precious; after all, you can't change the rules in midstream. They shouldn't exist, but then neither should the Electoral College, or the bizarre and undemocratic way delegates are awarded, or just about every way in which caucuses are structured, or manipulating the election calendar like Illinois did to give Obama a timely boost. So it's a bit disingenuous for Obama supporters to whine now, even if they're right on the merits. The situation was reversed in Nevada and so was the Obama campaign. (And don't forget, Obama might end up with more delegates out of Nevada than Clinton despite losing the popular vote to her; I don't hear the Obama campaign offering to give them back.)

The larger lesson is that private political parties can set up their nominating structures any way they like; they do so strategically for their own reasons that have little to do with serving the broader public interest. This is just the latest example of the way the two major parties have an unholy stranglehold on our democracy.

*

My instinct on Michigan and Florida is also on the Obama side. But the issue is also more complex than it is being portrayed. In Florida, for example, it was a Republican legislature and governor who moved up the primary date; now Democrats there will suffer. And at the time, both the Obama and Clinton campaigns said they would still compete there anyway. (Neither candidate ended up campaigning in Florida, but both had organizations at work there nonetheless.)

Obama has also made several statements along the way that presaged what Clinton is now arguing, the least of which is this one:

"Barack Obama hinted during a Tampa fundraiser Sunday that if he's the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, he'll seat a Florida delegation at the party's national convention, despite national party sanctions prohibiting it," the Tampa Tribune reported last September.

"Obama also appeared to violate a pledge he and the other leading candidates took by holding a brief news conference outside the fundraiser. That was less than a day after the pledge took effect Saturday, and Obama is the first Democratic presidential candidate to visit Florida since then."

The Tampa paper later noted that "Obama was asked during the event about making sure Floridians have a role in the nomination, despite the DNC sanctions and the pledge. Obama responded that he'll 'do what's right by Florida voters.'"

*

In Michigan, Obama voluntarily removed his name from the ballot in a move every bit as political as Clinton's decision to stay on the ballot (Dennis Kucinich, Christopher Dodd and Mike Gravel also stayed on the ballot).

"Five individuals connected to five different campaigns have confirmed - but only under condition of anonymity - that the situation that developed in connection with the Michigan ballot is not at all as it appears on the surface," the Iowa Independent reported. "The campaign for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, arguably fearing a poor showing in Michigan, reached out to the others with a desire of leaving New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as the only candidate on the ballot. The hope was that such a move would provide one more political obstacle for the Clinton campaign to overcome in Iowa."

So let's understand that this is all about the audacity of politics, not democracy or hope or change we can believe in.

Trash Receptacle
This time it's the Tribune that sees fit to publish a press release written by City Hall advisors with the mayor's name plopped on top on its Op-Ed page.

At least next time negotiate for something in return, like a straight answer to a single question of the paper's choosing.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Believe.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

Heat Wave: The Play

Eric Klinenberg's devastating account of the 1995 heat wave is coming to the stage.

"Pegasus Players in conjunction with Live Bait Theater present the World Premiere of Heat Wave by Steve Simoncic, based on the book by Eric Klinenberg," Pegasus and Live Bait announced in a press release. "Heat Wave will premiere at Pegasus Players, 1145 W. Wilson Avenue in the O'Rourke Center at Truman College, February 21 - April 6, 2008. The official opening night is Monday, February 25, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.

"Based on the book Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2002) by Eric Klinenberg, Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University, this moving new play looks at the heat wave of 1995 which took the lives of 739 Chicagoans.

"Chicago playwright and published author Steve Simoncic recreates the hot air that swirled between medical examiners, health officials, reporters, mayoral staff, and sweaty Chicagoans. This co-production with Chicago's Live Bait Theater examines one of the country's worst weather-related disasters from all perspectives, creating a vivid portrait of a city in crisis, but with its resources and humanity firmly intact."

Mayor Richard M. Daley and City Hall have never answered - and never been pressed to - for what Klinenberg found was a public relations response to a public health crisis that eventually took more than 700 lives. Perhaps that's because Klinenberg found the media culpable as well in failing to adequately understand and react to the disaster.

Translating Klinenberg's penetrating and layered work to the stage strikes me as a monumental challenge, but the story Klinenberg reports is one that demands to be remembered; Pegasus and Live Bait are doing the city a service.

*

I've written a fair amount about Heat Wave before, but I think it's worthwhile to pull up some excerpts.

"In 2002, sociologist Eric Klinenberg published a remarkable book about the 1995 Chicago heat wave that claimed more than 700 lives - a disaster that would have cost many mayors their job but hardly touched Richard M. Daley, despite what we now know about his mismanagement of the crisis," I wrote in August 2006.

"The deep, layered reporting and social analysis of Klinenberg's Heat Wave exposed a stubborn, wrong-headed, uncompassionate mayor whose failure to grasp the situation undoubtedly added to the death toll, abetted by a gullible and shallow media.

"Perhaps that's why, to this day, Klinenberg's book gets short shrift in Chicago, when in fact it is a masterpiece belonging among the top Chicago books of all time - even if Tribune 'literary editor' Elizabeth Taylor, who edits the paper's book review, once told me she just didn't think the book was that big of a deal.

"It is.

"After all, Klinenberg documented a mayor and City Hall staff more concerned with public relations than with the bodies piling up at the morgue that summer, and a media that failed as well to grasp the tragedy as it unfolded, preferring to put its faith in the mayor and the limited imaginations of its editors and producers in turning out the same hoary clichés as stories that it does every year when it gets hot."

*

Also in August 2006, I wrote this:

"As Eric Klinenberg points out in Heat Wave, the mayor's after-report on the tragedy was called 'Final Report: The Mayor's Commission On Extreme Weather Conditions'; note the lack of reference to, um, the heat wave. The cover of the report contained graphics of both a sun and a snowflake.

"The report, controlled and edited by the mayor's office, was of course a whitewash. 'The executive summary offered by the Mayor's Office, for example, reports that 'the numbers of African-American and white victims were almost identical,' even though the death ratio and age-adjusted death ratio - which are included in a less prominent section of the document - show that African-Americans experienced substantially higher death rates than whites. Similarly, the only neighborhood-level analysis presented in the summary explains that 'nearly all community areas in Chicago were affected,' which is analagous to saying that nearly all areas in the city are affected by poverty or crime, because it conceals the enormous variation in neighborhood mortality levels,' Klinenberg wrote.

"The Tribune also says today that the city "came under severe scrutiny" for its handling of the 1995 heat wave. Really? Not by the local media, according to Klinenberg's exhaustively researched book, published in 2002. It was Klinenberg, not the local press, who reported nauseating nuggets like this one from a 'key member' of the Department of Health:

"'When Daley denied the Chief Medical Examiner's reports, he defined everything that the city would do on this for the next six months. You have to understand, there were nine refrigerated trucks holding bodies in the parking lot of the morgue, a long line of police cars delivering more, and there is the mayor - mayor of the third-largest city in the United States - denying that people were dying, or later denying that the deaths had anything to do with the heat. Imagine what the mayor's position on the heat wave did for the morale of other city employees and city agencies, or how it limited their capacity to do their work. Once the mayor took the position that the death rates were overstated it became impossible for city employees to say anything else. We were forced to find all sorts of ways to reframe the issue or to talk around what was happening. We couldn't contest his position, and in this case that meant we couldn't be fully explicit about what we were finding.'"

*

"Heat Wave is the second collaboration between Live Bait Theater and Pegasus Players," the press release says. "In 1994 they collaborated on Sharon Evans' Freud, Dora, and the Wolfman. Pegasus Players and Live Bait Theater decided to collaborate on this world premiere because of the extensive cast, set, and overall logistics needed to make the tragic heat wave of 1995 come alive."

*

"Ticket Information: The World Premiere of Heat Wave will be held February 21 - April 6, 2008. Preview performances will be Thursday, February 21; Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23 at 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, February 23 at 3:00 p.m. Preview tickets are $15. The official opening night is Monday, February 25 at 8:00 p.m. Performances will be Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. at Pegasus Players, 1145 W. Wilson Avenue in the O'Rourke Center at Truman College, Chicago. Tickets are $17 for Thursday and Friday; $25 for Saturday and Sunday. Senior and student discounts are available. Tickets may be purchased by calling 773-878-9761 or online at www.pegasusplayers.org."

*

About the playwright and the author.

"Steve Simoncic is a playwright living in Chicago with six past productions including Broken Fences, Words with C, and Discovery Channel. His fiction has appeared in the Chicago Reader, New Millennium Writings, Spork Magazine and Drift. He has been nominated for a Pushcart prize and has written several short films. Steven holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, an MFA in writing from Warren Wilson College and is currently pursuing an MLA from the University of Chicago. When he is not writing you can find him playing in his band, Supra Genius.

"Eric Klinenberg grew up in Old Town, had a brief stint on the faculty at Northwestern, and is now associate professor of sociology at New York University. His first book, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, won several scholarly and literary prizes, and was praised as "a dense and subtle portrait" (Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker), "intellectually exciting" (Amartya Sen), and "a trenchant, persuasive tale of murder by public policy" (Salon). His most recent book is Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media, which was just issued in paperback. In addition to his scholarship, Klinenberg writes for publications such as Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, and The Nation. He's also working with the acclaimed filmmaker Judith Helfand (Blue Vinyl and Everything's Cool) on the documentary version of Heat Wave."


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:03 AM | Permalink

The Periodical Table

A weekly look at the magazines laying around Beachwood HQ.

Mystery Bombing
"Sometime after midnight on September 6, 2007, at least four low-flying Israeli Air Force fighters crossed into Syrian airspace and carried out a secret bombing mission on the banks of the Euphrates River, about ninety miles north of the Iraq border," Seymour Hersh reports in The New Yorker.

"The seemingly unprovoked bombing, which came after months of heightened tension between Israel and Syria over military exercises and troop buildups by both sides along the Golan Heights, was, by almost any definition, an act of war.

"But in the immediate aftermath, nothing was heard from the government of Israel."

Nor - oddly - very much from Syria.

"Within hours of the attack, Syria denounced Israel for invading its airspace, but its public statements were incomplete and contradictory."

Hersh traces speculation that Israel bombed a nuclear facility built with the help of North Korea, but his reporting takes him - and us - in circles.

Something big happened, but nobody is talking.

Winner Takes All
"Who knew that in America today more people make their living by shuffling and dealing cards in casinos than by operating lathes?" Caroline Herzenberg of Chicago writes to The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

"We need to address the real needs of people working in today's economy, but we should also be thinking about what kind of an economy would be more appropriate to our ideals and real needs as Americans."

The View From London
"Mr. Obama's supporters want a president who can inspire Americans to be their better selves," the Economist notes. "Mrs. Clinton's supporters want a leader who can negotiate health-care reforms and mortgage bailouts."

Your Media
"In mid-2006, Michael Vivio, a veteran newspaper advertising executive, had been publisher of the Waco Tribune-Herald for almost a year, and he was perplexed. His Texas newspaper, like most dailies, had been hemorrhaging circulation steadily for years," industry analyst John Morton writes in American Journalism Review.

"Later, while walking in another city, he glanced at a set of news racks, and found himself asking, 'If you had to live or die by what was sold from this news rack, what kind of paper would you make?'

"That's when it hit him: The front page should be dominated by an attractive display of the most compelling story of the day, no matter where that story took place."

Oh my Lord!

The word "duh" doesn't even begin to get us there.

And guess what? Not only did that work, but the newspaper started a glossy magazine called Dwelling, started a weekly Spanish-language paper, and upgraded the paper stock of its monthly Waco Today magazine from its crappy newsprint.

Multiple revenue streams of increased quality! Who knew?!

(To give credit where it's due locally, Tribune was a pioneer in niche publications in the newspaper industry.)

"Perhaps the most concentrated effort was upgrading the newspaper's web presence," Morton continues. "Since the paper enhanced its web offerings, page views have more than doubled."

And that concludes our lesson for today.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:20 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With QVC

For the amphetamine user with a home-shopping addiction and a taste for kitsch.

*

2:30 a.m.: Marie Osmond Dolls

3 a.m.: Polish Stoneware

4 a.m.: Belleek Irish Porcelain

5 a.m.: Peterboro Baskets

6 a.m.: Collectibles/Franklin Mint

7 a.m.: Collector's Chat

8 a.m.: Steiff Teddy Bears

9 a.m.: Marie Osmond Dolls

10 a.m.: Polish Stoneware

11 a.m.: Jim Shore Heartwood Creek

12 p.m. Limited Edition Collectible Quilts

1 p.m.: Marie Osmond Dolls

2 p.m.: Hummel Figurines

3 p.m.: Belleek Irish Porcelain

4 p.m.: Catherine Galasso Inspirational Gifts

5 p.m.: Peterboro Baskets

6 p.m.: Marie Osmond Dolls

7 p.m.: Jim Shore Heartwood Creek

9 p.m.: Polish Stoneware

11 p.m. Vicenza Style

2 a.m.: Susan Graver Style

-

See also:

* 24 Hours With Current TV
* 24 Hours With Tru TV


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:17 AM | Permalink

The WallMarker!

The following press release introducing new invention, The Wallmarker, may be of interest to your audience. Any editorial comment or mention that you may give this press release would be greatly appreciated.

- - -

$3.00 CONTRAPTION MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO SEE PICTURE PLACEMENT WITHOUT HAMMERING NAILS

Dateline: Pahrump, NV
Contact: Jeff Lombardo
Web Address: www.wallmarker.net

PAHRUMP, NV - February 13, 2008 - Throw away the laser. The WallMarker eliminates the need for meticulous measuring and guesswork while hanging pictures. Creating multiple nail holes just to hang a picture may become a thing of the past thanks to a new contraption that allows users to 'nail it' the first time.

"The hardest part about hanging a picture is trying to figure out where to put the nail," says Jeff Lombardo, who invented the WallMarker.

The WallMarker is a piece of chalk shaped like an arrow that has an adhesive side. It's designed to stick on the back of the picture at the center, to allow the picture to be positioned and eyeballed. When the position is right, the picture can be pushed against the wall to create a chalk mark, which is the spot where the nail goes. And the job's done.

"If you make a mistake the chalk will easily wipe off the wall and save you from putting holes in the wall," says Lombardo. Which is a lot better than a hole.

And because the WallMarker can be used multiple times, the same device can be used again.

Lombardo says he came up with the idea after doing some work for family.

"My grandmother wanted me to hang a bunch of pictures for her in a straight line across the wall and I had to measure all the pictures to get them lined up perfectly," says Lombardo. "I thought to myself that there had to be a better way."

*

About WallMarker: The WallMarker is a piece of chalk shaped like an arrow that has an adhesive side designed to make hanging a picture. Pictures can be easily eyeballed and marked without the need for measuring or multiple nail holes. The WallMarker costs $2.99 each.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:09 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. Monetizing boredom.

2. "Congress Makes Do Not Call List Permanent."

Members can now only be reached by texting.

3. The Tribune reprints a New York Times story today asking "Does Celebrity Rehab Host Go Too Far?"

I'll answer that one: Not nearly.

4. Eric Zorn fails to nail down an endorsement for Barack Obama from Abe Lincoln. Primarily because Lincoln is dead. Apparently the ghost of Millard Fillmore is available, though.

5. Lincoln rocks.

6. A chart in the Tribune shows that average viewing per household "by TV season" has increased from under five hours in 1950 to 8 hours, 18 minutes in 2007. Who says there is no such thing as progress? We can do this, people!

7. Sun-Times headline for a Steve Huntley Op-Ed: "Radical Islam Will Never Mesh With Western Law."

Radical Christianity, either.

8. Mary Mitchell of the Sun-Times is joining Facebook because "the print journalism business is changing. And unless we, the writers and editors, change with it, we will be out of business."

I think Facebook is great - critics are almost always people who have never even looked at it - but of course it has nothing to do with journalism. On the other hand, the last time Mitchell posted to her blog was on December 9.

9. I'm not saying, as Sneed reports, that Newt Gingrich never said "John McCain has as much chance of winning the Republican nomination as the Giants have of winning the Super Bowl," I'm just saying that when I plug that quote into Google nothing comes back.

10. "Convicted former City Clerk Jim Laski said Monday he worked through Mayor Daley's top lieutenants to get Hired Truck business for the lifelong friend who betrayed him and, therefore, believes the mayor knows a lot more about the scandal than he has publicly admitted," the Sun-Times reports.

Laski gave the paper an "exclusive" interview in advance of excerpts from his new, self-published memoir that will run in the Sun-Times on Wednesday.

Highlights from today:

* "Laski said he started brokering Hired Trucks in 1995 through Ald. Patrick Huels (11th), the mayor's City Council floor leader, then switched to Intergovernmental Affairs Director Victor Reyes after an unrelated scandal forced Huels' resignation. When Reyes left, the mayor's patronage chief Robert Sorich became Laski's go-to guy. He also dealt with First Deputy Water Commissioner Donald Tomczak.

"Laski described Huels, Reyes and Sorich as 'buffers' who gave Daley deniability and insulated the mayor from blame.

"But, when a whispering Daley asked Laski during a meeting in the mayor's office whether he had "heard anything from the guys down the street," meaning federal prosecutors, it became clear to the clerk that the mayor knew more than he was letting on.

* "When I was trying to get a job for my oldest daughter, Victor Reyes told me, 'When it comes to family or something high-profile, you've got to see the mayor personally.' You go see the mayor on certain things, then he tells people he has a selective memory."

* "Laski described Daley as a 'paranoid,' one-way-street of a politician who 'blows hot and cold' with other elected officials and is 'always thinking somebody's out to get him, somebody's out to run against him.'"

In response, Daley's taxpayer-paid propagandist Jacquelyn Heard said: "I know it takes intrigue, scandal and/or controversy to sell books. And I wholeheartedly believe that's what Mr. Laski is trying to do."

Yes, but are his allegations true?

And what was the discussion like when you met with the mayor in a strategy session to decide how to respond to Laski?

11. Isn't it a good thing that the Democratic primary might actually go the distance? Shouldn't voters in every state have a say? I mean, the "late" primaries (and caucuses) are on the schedule; they aren't supposed to be just for show, are they?

In other words, isn't the system actually sort of working?

On to the conventions!

My only wish is that the other candidates hadn't dropped out. Their participation is what it's all about.

Unfortunately, the pundits - and much of the media in general - seem to think their job is to help the private political parties pick their nominees, instead of observing as outsiders.

The perspective of political journalists, then, mirrors that of the political professionals who want to short-circuit democracy according to their tactical goals to seize or retain power. And their pet pundit class goes along with their schemes like dumb puppies.

But it ought not be the role of reporters - or pundits, frankly - to help political parties strategize. That's being an insider with a stake in the process, not an outsider with an honest take providing a service to readers, viewers, and citizens.

12. "Next Generation To Take A Pass On Aerosmith."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Face the music.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

And Then There's Maude: Episode 16

Our tribute to the 35th anniversary of the debut of Maude continues.

*

Season 1, Episode 16
Episode Title: The Medical Profession

Original airdate: 30 January 1973

Plot: Having had four first honeymoons, Maude is preparing for her first second honeymoon. Carol pops the Champagne to wish Walter and Maude bon voyage on their trip to Italy. Walter descends the stairs, carting a heck of a lot more luggage for this trip than the last time he was in Italy - during World War II!

Maude enters and makes a beeline for the mini-bar, which she immediately begins rubbing against like a bear scratching its backside on a tree. She's broken out in a rash, an allergic reaction to a recent tetanus shot, but nothing is going to stand in the way of her getting on that plane to Italy.

Per usual, Arthur enters the Findlay house unannounced and without knocking. He volunteers to look at Maude's rash but she declines to have her husband's best friend "ogle" her naked body, even if he is a doctor. Arthur gives her the name of a colleague, a successful dermatologist named Tasko and Maude rushes to the doctor's office.

There seems to be some sort of dermatological epidemic going around Tuckahoe because Tasko's office is off the hook. The receptionist can't answer the phone fast enough and Maude has been kept waiting a half hour to see the doctor. Killing time scratching herself silly, Maude discovers the rash is spreading. The doctor finally arrives, harried and distracted, taking Maude's history while on the phone with a consult.

The doc is called away on another emergency. Before he leaves, he hands Maude a glass beaker, which I gather was the pre-plastic cup method of getting a urine sample from a patient. Maude plays her own version of a medical practical joke by filling the beaker with tap water. ("City water will drive 'em crazy.")

Dr. Tasko returns to confirm that, yep, Maude has a rash alright but before he can prescribe any relief he's interrupted once again by the phone ringing. Desperate to get on her way to the airport, Maude body blocks the doctor from taking the call and begs for a prescription, which he fills for her on the spot. Handing Maude a little white envelope of pills, he tells her to "take these and everything is going to be just fine" as he rushes to pick up another phone call. Maude proceeds to do just that, popping all the pills at once.

Maude appears drunk as a skunk when a cab driver drops her off at home. One minute she's standing, the next she's tipping over, with family members grabbing her by the arms to pull her upright again. Insisting that she's fine - she's just a tad dizzy - she springs off the couch ready to head to the airport - and promptly falls over. Arthur calls Tasko to find out what pills were prescribed while Maude tries to remember where she left the car.

Arthur learns Maude has taken an overdose of antihistamine and he scolds Tasko for failing to caution his patient about the potential side effects. Arthur tells Maude that flying is out of the question, which means she and Walter will miss the special charter flight for Maytag dealers and they'll be out $800!

There's only one course of action to take - Maude is going to sue Tasko for malpractice. Not only is the doctor guilty of negligence, she's out a trip to Europe - and her rash is back! To make the case, she'll need Arthur's testimony as her witness but he's not keen to testify against another doctor. He tries to talk Maude and Walter out of it, implying that they don't have a case against the doctor. Now, if she'd only died in a car accident during the drive home from the doctor's office . . .

Waving an Italian language LP at Arthur, Maude refuses to back down; she spent six weeks learning how to say "My uncle has a green pencil case" in Italian and wants her due. When Arthur refuses to commit to the Findlay malpractice case, Maude throws him out of the house, and Walter goes with him when he sticks up for his best friend.

Later, at the club bar, Arthur and Walter are as tipsy as Maude. Over another round, Arthur lets slip that he thinks Tasko was negligent, but doctors protect their own. Besides, for him to testify against a fellow MD would be professional suicide. Walter's angry and when Arthur offers to placate his friend by writing him a check for the lost vacation cost, Walter tells him his friendship can't be bought. Not for 800 bucks, agrees Arthur, more like five cents. He just never knows when to shut up.

Arthur and Walter trade insults and bluster about starting a fight. Arthur warns that he was the school bully. Fred the bartender, wearing a mustard yellow half jacket similar to Isaac on Love Boat, attempts to intercede. Walter gives Arthur a wimpy shove and the tension is broken. Finally, in the spirit of friendship, Arthur agrees to testify. He also fesses up that he wasn't the school bully, he was the eraser monitor.

Back at the house, sobering up over mugs of coffee, Walter pulls an apology from Maude now that Arthur has agreed to testify. It takes two tries before Maude can control herself enough to swallow her pride but before she can finish, Arthur spoils the moment by reminding Maude that a person can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Walter pipes in with his own adage, adding, "A still tongue never strangled its owner." A delicious grin appears on Maude's face as she asks them to hold those thoughts while she grabs her sewing basket. She'd love to embroider their sentiments on a whoopee cushion.

Maude erupts, yelling that the apology is off and while Walter and Maude go at it, the doorbell rings. It's Dr. Tasko, sporting a velvet tuxedo with a ruffled shirt. He's "between parties" and just stopped by to see how Mrs. Findlay is doing. He thanks her for being so understanding, helping him to learn an important lesson about client-patient relations.

Maude's anger is squelched by the "sweet" doctor taking time out from his busy schedule to make a house call. She's also dazzled by his tuxedo and graciously accepts the doctor's apology. Walter is still stinging from the 800 buck loss and as they head to the kitchen, Maude chides him for treating such a learned, busy man so rudely.

Arthur walks Tasko to the door, where the two medicine men pat each other on the back for dodging the big M. It seems Arthur called Tasko to suggest he pay the Findlays a house call. They're good people, he assures Tasko, they're just "civilians who don't understand the business of malpractice."

When Tasko chides Arthur that he "could've been in a lot of trouble" for testifying, Arthur counters that Tasko also "could've been in a lot of trouble" and they have a good laugh over how "that's what fellow doctors are for."

Hot button social issue: Medical malpractice.

Neckerchief count: Zero. A first! For the entire episode, Maude sports a pantsuit with a wide collar and large leather toggle closures.

Welcome back to 1973 pop culture reference: When Maude asks Arthur if Dr. Tasko is any good, he replies, "He must be, he drives a Lincoln Continental."

Number of times Maude yells: 6

Memorable quote: When Arthur refuses to testify against one of his own, Maude says, "Now I know why the snake is on the medical symbol."

Times the live audience breaks out into spontaneous applause: 6

'70s medical cure du jour: Remember copper bracelets to stave off arthritis? When I was a kid, it seemed every senior citizen I knew was sporting one. When Walter punches Arthur in the arm, he dents Arthur's bracelet and Arthur says, "You broke the spell. I could get arthritis this very minute."

References to Jackie O: Arthur jokes that his bon voyage gift is Jackie Kennedy Onassis' travel book called How To Live In Rome On $10,000 a Day.

Keep an eye out for: Just one year away from happier days, Tom Bosley plays the overworked dermatologist Dr. Tasko.

Noted: A mere sixteen episodes into Maude, producers are already recycling character actors. Elisabeth Fraser (who appeared in two previous episodes as Maude's neighbor Lorraine) shows up in this episode disguised in a very fake-looking wig and thick black glasses, playing Dr. Tasko's nurse.

-

Previously:
Season 1, Episode 1: Maude's Problem.
Season 1, Episode 2: Doctor, Doctor.
Season 1, Episode 3: Maude Meets Florida.
Season 1, Episode 4: Like Mother, Like Daughter.
Season 1, Episode 5: Maude and the Radical.
Season 1, Episode 6: The Ticket.
Season 1, Episode 7: Love and Marriage.
Season 1, Episode 8: Flashback.
Season 1, Episode 9: Maude's Dilemma (Part One).
Season 1, Episode 10: Maude's Dilemma (Part Two).
Season 1, Episode 11: Maude's Reunion.
Season 1, Episode 12: The Grass Story.
Season 1, Episode 13: The Slum Lord.
Season 1, Episode 14: The Convention.
Season 1, Episode 15: Walter's 50th Birthday.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:05 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

I usually don't watch the Grammys, but I happened upon it in the early-going and . . . was that Morris Day and The Time doing "Jungle Love"? It was, complete with the valet-with-the-mirror bit and all.

Um, what time is it? Because I thought we were somewhere in 2008.

I mean, I love Morris Day and the Time, but c'mon!

And then I saw Prince handing out an award - you're better than that! - and thought, maybe it was part of his deal that he got to bring his buddies along.

* I don't know, if I was Amy Winehouse I might have refused to descend into self-parody and sing the otherwise-fine but overexposed "Rehab."

* "Foo Fighters turned into a mediocre progressive-rock band when they decided to gussy up their set with an orchestra," Greg Kot writes in the Tribune.

Turned into?

"The mix of three-chord hamburger and string-laden syrup was as unappetizing as it sounds."

* Jim DeRogatis called the Foo Fighters "bloated and bombastic."

* DeRo's beginning . . .

"The Grammys celebrated their golden anniversary as America's most prestigious music awards Sunday night, and as is often the case with the live telecast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the show seemed to drag on for at least 50 hours."

And end.

"But then again, for the 50th year in a row, nominees and viewers at home alike all deserved better than the Grammys gave them."

AlternaGrammys
Choose any five records from Chicago labels like Bloodshot, Touch & Go and Thrill Jockey and you're likely to have five better records than those deemed the best by the Grammy grannies.

*

The Grammys are to music what daily newspapers are to journalism.

Change Bank
The Sun-Times reports in "Ripping Stroger Backfires On Candidates" that local voters showed no appetite for "change" last Tuesday despite Barack Obama's overwhelming victory at the top of the ballot.

Elsewhere in the paper, though, Laura Washington argues that "Obama's mantra of change came through loud and clear in local races," though her evidence is awfully thin; Washington points to a statehouse race featuring an Obama protege who won with 33 percent of the vote against four other candidates, and the Democratic primary victory of Anita Alvarez in the Cook County state's attorney's race.

Alvarez, however, was not a "change" candidate; she was labeled along with the other career prosecutor in the race as "Status" and "Quo."

The "change" candidates in that race were Ald. Howard Brookins Jr., whom Washington notes was an early favorite based on the notion that he "would slide in on a massive Obama turnout in Chicago's black wards" (and who was endorsed by Jesse Jackson), and reformer Larry Suffredin (who was endorsed by Jesse Jackson, Jr.).

In fact, as Abdon Pallasch reports today in "How Did Hillary Win Key City Wards?", mayoral brother John Daley attributes Alvarez's victory in his 11th Ward, where Obama was on the palm cards, to Hillary Clinton's coattails. Clinton won the ward.

The lakefront wards that went for Obama, Pallasch found, also went for Suffredin, while the African-American wards that went for Obama went for Brookins. Maybe Obama's coattails actually split the "change" vote locally.

Bob's World
Nationally syndicated Sun-Times columnist Bob Novak once again shows his disdain for actual facts by recycling the myth of the so-called Bradley Effect, which posits that white voters tell pollsters they prefer the black candidate in a given race so as to not betray their bigotry and then vote white. The name derives from Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's unexpected loss in 1982 for the governorship of California.

The only problem is that the Bradley Effect doesn't exist.

"If the idea that voters lie to pollsters is unfounded or at least exaggerated, what happened in Tom Bradley's gubernatorial race in California in 1982?," Tom Rosenstiel wrote in 1989 when he went back and examined the contest.

"Several polls, including The Los Angeles Times Poll, showed Bradley winning handily. With a week to go, Field's California Poll showed Bradley ahead by seven points.

"One problem, which cropped up again Tuesday, was that pollsters overestimated minority turnout.

"Field and others expected it to be about average, 20 percent. But since Bradley chose to run as a mainstream candidate, not mobilizing his base, minority turnout was only 15 percent.

"Another factor was the failure to measure undecideds.

"And when exit polls failed to predict [Republican] George Deukmejian's victory over Bradley, that was partly because pollsters had not anticipated that relaxed restrictions on absentee voting would cause a rise in that segment of the vote, and that it would go 80 percent Republican."

(This article in The Public Opinion Quarterly found that "Bradley's background did not stimulate an unusual level of racially motivated behavior.")

Besides, it doesn't make sense that a Bradley Effect would exist in a Democratic primary. In a Harold Washington-Bernard Epton race, sure. But would Hillary Clinton voters really fake support over the phone for Obama out of fear of appearing racist?

*

It has served the Obama campaign to retail this stuff to pundits, however, just as they did after New Hampshire with an eye to South Carolina. And we saw what happened there.

Wronging Wright
The Tribune reports today that Obama's pastor, and inspiration for the phrase "Audacity of Hope," the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is retiring, but fails to mention that Obama disinvited Wright from his presidential announcement speech in Springfield and told him to take a low profile during the campaign.

Iraq Illusion
The Sun-Times plays up an AP report that "Iraqis Quit Al-Qaeda In Droves" but fails to mention that Al-Qaeda makes up less than two percent of those who are shooting at us, according to a Congressional Research Service report from September. (Not to mention the fact that Al-Qaeda wasn't in Iraq until we got there and drew them in.)

World Class Sex
"Not All Cultures Do It Like We Do."

Radio Daze
"Radio is a dirty, unscrupulous business in most cities, but Chicago sinks into the gutter with alarming regularity," Jay Mariotti writes persuasively.

Curses!
Mariotti is also on to something when he says that Sam Zell looks frighteningly like the infamous Billy Goat.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Capture the flag.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

The True Lives Of The MTV Generation

The lives of young people as seen - pretty accurately - through an episode countdown of MTV's True Life.

1. I'm On Adderall

2. I'm In An Interracial Relationship

3. I'll Do Anything for Money

4. I Live A Double Life

5. I Live To Ride

6. I'm Obese

7. I'm Gay And I'm Getting Married

8. I'm A Muay Thai Fighter

9. Surviving High School

10. I'm Backpacking Through Europe

11. I'm A Jersey Shore Girl

12. I'm Rallying To L.A.

13. I'm A Gun Owner

14. I'm On Trial By Fire

15. I'm On A Diet

16. I'm A Battle Rapper

17. I'm Dead Broke

18. I'm Moving Back In With My Parents

19. I'm Coming Home From Iraq

20. I Want The Perfect Body

21. I'm Jealous

22. I Live On The Edge

23. I Have Gay Parents

24. I'm A Professional Gamer

25. I Have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

26. I'm Moving To NY

27. I'm On Steroids

28. I'm A Competitive Eater

29. I'm A Reality Star

30. I'm Getting My Big Break

31. I Don't Fit In

32. I'm Returning To The Gulf Coast

33. I Have Tourette's Syndrome

34. I'm Addicted To Crystal Meth

35. I'm A Staten Island Girl

36. I'm Jealous Of My Sibling

37. I'm On Vacation

38. I'm A Sumo Wrestler

39. I'm Out

40. I'm A Civilian Again

41. I'm Moving To Vegas

42. I'm In An Interfaith Relationship

43. I'm In Debt

44. I'm Stepping

45. I Am Celibate

46. I'm The New Kid In Town

47. I Stutter

48. I'm Supporting My Family

49. I Live In The Projects

50. I'm The Black Sheep

51. I'm Getting Out Of Prison

52. I'm An Alcoholic

53. I Panic

54. I'm Happy To Be Fat

55. I Need Anger Management

56. I Have A Husband In Iraq

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

Reviewing the Reviews

A look at the local (and not) book reviews.

Race Wars
"A few years ago, an American lady showed up late at an exclusive Parisian store and was turned away. The outraged shopper was Oprah Winfrey, who charged racial bias; a companion said it was 'one of the most humiliating moments of her life,'" Orlando Patterson writes in his review of Richard Thompson Ford's The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse.

"Oprah may have been denied a prerogative of elite status in our new gilded age - being waited on in luxury stores after hours - but had she been the victim of racism?"

Good question - and just one of many raised in a book that sounds absolutely fascinating and valuable.

Perhaps most interesting is Ford's discussion of "racism without racists," because I thought racism always existed without racists.

What I mean by that is that I was taught that racism is institutional; an effect not necessarily the result of a bigoted cause. Bigotry, I was taught, was personal prejudice. Racism was a result intended or not.

For example, look at how William Grimes, who reviewed Ford's book earlier in the week for the Times, opened his piece:

"A black man stands on a street corner in Manhattan and waves for a taxi, and the driver speeds by. Is this racism? The actor Danny Glover thought so, and he took his case to the public and city regulators, resulting in a citywide crackdown on wary cabbies in the late 1990s. But what if he got it wrong?"

Grimes later writes that "Disproportionately, and because of past racism, black Americans live in dangerous neighborhoods, which nonracist cabdrivers might reasonably wish to avoid."

Now let us return to Patterson's review and what he says about Hurricane Katrina.

"The fact that blacks lived in the most vulnerable areas of New Orleans resulted from the apartheid racism of the city's earlier history, a situation exacerbated by the government's inept response to the crisis," Patterson writes. "But to accuse President Bush and the Federal Emergency Management Agency of racism, Ford suggests, is to play the race card and is counterproductive, alienating those in a position to help while blinding us to the true nature of these racial injustices and the policies needed to redress them."

I don't completely agree; if Simi Valley had been wiped out (or even threatened with a natural disaster), I think Bush would have acted more swiftly, if not out of bigotry, out of a lack of connection to the plight of poor black people.

Still, the point stands that we have to understand just what we're talking about when we use the term "racism."

Perhaps more importantly, Ford's position is not the popular reactionary notion that, starting now, we should just be colorblind, nor does he argue that "racism" doesn't exist. To the contrary, Ford is an adamant supporter of affirmative action exactly because racism exists. In fact, it exists even without racists, which strikes me as the central insight to this work. The response to Katrina and the plight of the black man seeking a cab both represent racism, but of the most insidious kind because of almost-invisible actors. And that makes us all guilty, and all responsible.

Race Bores
"I've never heard a black person question Obama's blackness," Jill Nelson writes elsewhere in the Times.

Perhaps Nelson has been living under a rock.

"Call me cynical, but I suspect this nonissue was manufactured by a rival campaign."

Do you suppose Nelson is referring to Bobby Rush?

Or has Hillary Clinton suddenly become a bigot? Someone should call on Nelson to resign from whatever it is she does.

But then, Nelson doesn't make much sense anywhere in her review of books by Randall Kennedy and Shelby Steele; maybe that's because it's more about her than them.

"Clearly, the black Americans who receive most-favored status are those who can be relied upon to mimimize white racism," she writes, noting without irony that Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey and Obama are "bargainers" not "challengers" who risk alienating white folk if they force them to confront race too much.

Richard Thompson Ford might say the result is a "racism without racists" because the central facts of life in America get side-stepped. Others might suggest this is just what is meant when Obama & Co.'s "blackness" is questioned.

Nelson goes on to write that "Black Americans' slow embrace of Obama's candidacy was strategic and pragmatic. We know Obama is black, and know he knows it, too. What we also know is that to embrace him too enthusiastically risks making whites uncomfortable with him and then we all lose."

I don't think so. Whites haven't grown more uncomfortable with Obama as his black support has grown. Instead, Obama is meeting black officials and civil rights leaders and their followers for the first time; he's the one with something to prove as the Clintons have been there all along. I'm guessing that has something to do with the slow embrace.

Brown's Town
California kingmaker Willie Brown observes something in his new memoir that the Obama campaign seems to have forgotten: That it wasn't the Clintons who were divisive and polarizing in the 90s (after all, they pioneered the Third Way bi- and post-partisanship that Obama now claims). "[H]e describes how the invasion of conservative ideologues, along with the advent of term limits, displaced the old-boy sensibility of the Legislature in favor of pettiness and hyperpartisanship."

The same thing happened nationally. There was a right-wing project to destroy the Clintons, and then there was Newt Gingrich's short-lived revolution.

There are plenty of reasons to disagree with the Clintons, but let's not make the propaganda of polarization one of them.

The Truth About Prozac
As a depression sufferer and Peter Kramer fan, I recommend this exchange. Kramer is right, and I highly recommend his work.

Traveling Jeans
"How can you tell where your jeans were made?" Kathryn Masterson asks in her Tribune review of Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade.

"If you think the answer is as simple as looking at a label in the waistband, then journalist Rachel Louise Snyder has much to teach you about the origins of your pants."

As we've already learned about cars and electronics and other products, jeans carry "the handprints from a multitude of nations," Snyder says.

"'Made in Peru' might have cotton from Texas, weaving from North Carolina, cutting and sewing from Lima, washing and finishing from Mexico City, and distribution from Los Angeles."

Mob Games
"An NBA ref. The mob. An FBI investigation. Sounds like the life and times of disgraced former referee Tim Donaghy," Roman Modrowski writes in the Sun-Times.

"But Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob isn't about a crooked ref. It's about Bob Delaney, an NBA referee and former New Jersey state trooper, who infiltrated the mob under the name of Bobby Covert as part of a joint task force in the 1980s. Delaney only pretended to be mobbed up, and he did it well enough to help put dozens of organized-crime figures behind bars."


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:11 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

Don't look now, but the Bulls just had the best week of their season. Sure, they only won two of four, but they did it far from home (they were evicted from the United Center by an extended run of High School Musical on Ice - ouch, babe), and with several key contributors on the bench with injuries. The affected players, Kirk Hinrich (bruised ribs), Luol Deng (tendinitis in his Achilles) and Ben Gordon (sore shooting wrist) could very well return this week or next. But will the Bulls want to bench the guys who have made a difference for the better of late?

Most important, the effort that was so infuriatingly lacking at times earlier in the season was there all week. The Bulls beat Seattle and Golden State and battled before losing to two of the hottest teams in basketball (Portland and Utah).

On the other hand, nothing the team does at this point changes the fact that a reckoning will be required if it was an unwillingness to pay a little luxury tax (OK, it would have been a little more than a little - but so what?) that did in a Bulls trade for Pau Gasol. I hate the attitude that the answer to every problem is to increase the payroll (ask the average fan what he hates about modern day pro sports - he'll tell you it's the salaries - so maybe it's OK if owners hold the line every once in a while). But this Bulls season has been so disappointing and the seven-foot center from Spain was just the sort of reliable low-post scorer the Bulls desperately need. Instead Gasol was traded from Memphis to the Lakers. Surely at least a few of the Bulls fans who devote significant financial resources to paying for ridiculously expensive Bulls tickets will demand an accounting?

But first there is the trade deadline coming up on February 22. And hope springs yet again. There were reports over the weekend that teams might be interested in trading for Ben Wallace. That's right, not "one deluded team is actually considering ridding the Bulls of their biggest-ever free-agent bust" but "teamS are interested in trading for Ben Wallace." Sporting wonders show no signs of ceasing.

Let's circle the bases:

* This just in: The Blackhawks dropped a shootout to the Vancouver Canucks to wrap up their own West Coast swing late Sunday. On the kind of bright side, there was word earlier in the weekend that general manager Dale Tallon believes he has a shot to sign Peter Forsberg, the talented and physical forward who was so good for so long with the Colorado Avalanche. He struggled for a season and a half with the Flyers before being traded to Nashville and performing reasonably well for a Predators team that still lost in the first round of the playoffs last season, and then became a free agent. Due to ongoing injury difficulties (I think he had yet more surgery on his foot in the off-season), Forsberg remains a free agent. Signing Forsberg (and hey, let's not kid ourselves, it almost certainly won't happen) would indicate the Blackhawks are serious about doing everything they can to make the playoffs this year. Of course, a trade for an accomplished two-way defenseman would do that, and help in the future. But I know I need to keep my expectations in check.

* Early last week, Texas Tech basketball coach and former Indiana coaching legend Bobby Knight up and quit right in the middle of his team's conference season. Knight made it clear he was doing so to help his son, and now former assistant Pat will make the transition to the top job. We never did get an explanation of how Bob Knight's quitting in the middle of the season would help the players (especially the seniors) transition to . . . whatever it is they'll transition to. Knight was volatile until the end, rarely avoiding losing his cool but still expecting iron-clad self-control from his players at all times.

The Washington Post's John Feinstein, the author of the Indiana University men's basketball book A Season on the Brink, finished his post-retirement story about Knight by relating a seemingly complimentary anecdote about how the coach had at one point met three brothers who were big Indiana fans. Two of the young men were deaf and mute. Knight ended up inviting them to visit Indiana's locker room and meet the Hoosiers. Feinstein noted that after the pre-game get-together, Knight told his team something to the effect of "I don't ever want to hear about how tough your life is," i.e. I don't want to hear you complain about how unlucky your are.

What Knight should have said to the players was "you'll never hear me complaining about how tough my life is." But that wasn't how the coach was wired. Knight was always convinced that his players were the lucky ones, certainly not vice versa.

* Ken "Hawk" Harrelson signed a contract extension with the White Sox last week and is on track to do most of the team's TV play-by-play for at least another couple seasons. And I'm confident I would have heard if analyst Darrin Jackson had been let go. So this not-well-loved duo will return for the 2008 season. There are clearly many ways these guys could improve, but let's focus on what has to be the most irritating announcing gimmick in all of Major League Baseball.

I can handle homers. In fact, I appreciate hometown announcers who get excited when the hometown fans are excited. But guys, after Sox home runs, don't put on the pleated skirts! You don't cut it as cheerleaders! Stop with the orgasmic, in-unison cry of "Yes" following "You can put it on the board . . . " OK, Hawk and DJ probably aren't going to see this, so we'll have to all try to tell a friend, who will tell a friend and surely at some point the word will filter down to someone with some sort of affiliation to the White Sox organization. And that White Sox employee will have the chance to go down in history as the person who convinced the guys in the booth to stop doing the call that makes White Sox fans desperately want to turn away despite the fact that the fireworks are just beginning. We can do this!

-

Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every . . . Monday.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:59 AM | Permalink

Get A Grip On Calculus!

Lecture titles from a four-DVD course about calculus as advertised in The New Yorker on page 37 of the Feb. 4, 2008 edition.

1. Two Ideas, Vast Implications

2. Stop Sign Crime -
The First Idea of Calculus
The Derivative

3. Another Car, Another Crime -
The Second Idea of Calculus
The Integral

4. The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus

5. Visualizing the Derivative - Slopes

6. Derivates the Easy Way -
Symbol Pushing

7. Abstracting the Derivative -
Circles and Belts

8. Circles, Pyramids, Cones, and Spheres

9. Archimedes and the Tractrix

10. The Integral and the Fundamental Theorem

11. Abstracting the Integral -
Pyramids and Dams

12. Buffon's Needle or pi from Breadsticks

13. Achilles, Tortoises, Limits, and Continuity

14. Calculators and Approximations

15. The Best of All Possible Worlds -
Optimization

16. Economics and Architecture

17. Galileo, Newton, and Baseball

18. Getting of the Line - Motion in Space

19. Mountain Slopes and Tangent Planes

20. Several Variables - Volumes Galore

21. The Fundamental Theorem Extended

22. Fields of Arrows - Differential Equations

23. Owls, Rats, Waves, and Guitars

24. Calculus Everywhere

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:07 AM | Permalink

February 9, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

We've been working so hard to keep you up-to-date we totally forgot to strike.

Market Update
You are about to get so much freakin' richer. And you know what? If you use your rebate to buy a plasma TV with your Discover card that's, like, another $160 in your pocket. What recession?

Super Backing
While the race for the Republican nomination is looking like a blow-out, the Democrats are poised this weekend to slug it out for the all-important Eli Manning endorsement. Analysts note that although the Super Bowl MVP hasn't spoken publicly, he seems to favor backing DirecTV.

Backing Down
Under pressure for various corners, MSNBC's David Shuster is planning to clarify his controversial remarks concerning Chelsea Clinton. In an apparent case of mistaken identity, Shuster confused the younger Clinton with Heidi Fleiss, who naturally does her own pimping.

Putting the "Rack" in Iraq
Stung by internal criticism of his Iraq war policy, President Bush this week authorized a different kind of troop surge. Seriously, though, she could kick some major ass.

Bombs Away
Finally this week, the Department of Homeland Security has proudly announced they have thwarted a potential terrorist event. While no evidence of a coordinated attack exists, experts note even a chance meeting between an aggressive international entity and a well-documented domestic sleeper cell could've devastated the city of Los Angeles.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:23 AM | Permalink

February 8, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

Tribune Op-Ed columnist John McCarron offers a mea culpa this morning for dismissing Anita Alvarez in the Cook County State's Attorney's race, but more importantly he reveals the media's blind spots in ways that still shock - especially in contrast with what the political professionals knew.

"Hardly anybody saw Anita Alvarez coming," McCarron writes. "A lot of us had her pegged fifth in a six-candidate race."

Losing candidates Tom Allen and Howard Brookins, Jr., both Chicago aldermen, told a different story, captured by the Reader's indispensable Mick Dumke.

"'Our polls showed her in the mix,' Brookins said.

"Allen nodded. 'And then she got on TV.'

"She needed money,' Brookins said, 'and then her husband gave her some money.'

"I know you people in the media don't have a clue about how to analyze these things,' Allen said to a certain reporter. 'But we saw it coming.'

"It's easy to say it after the fact, but they aren't the only people involved in the state's attorney campaign offering this analysis," Dumke writes. "Other insiders are saying that their internal polling - from the beginning of the campaign last fall until its final days - showed that few voters were attached to any of the candidates, and even though people didn't know who Alvarez was, they liked her name and the fact that she was a woman up against five guys. The other campaigns were hoping that she wouldn't be able to come up with enough money to raise her profile. But when her husband loaned Alvarez at least $640,000, allowing her to present herself as a prosecutor/mom in TV ads, they knew they were in trouble. 'All of a sudden, she had $600,000 and was the 800-pound gorilla,' said one campaign staffer."

Alvarez herself said "I wasn't that surprised," in response to a question from Phil Ponce on Chicago Tonight last night.

Polling done in December indicated she "had a shot," Alvarez said, if she could just reach enough people with her message - that being a career prosecutor was "a plus," not a negative. Her television commercials put her in the game, she said, and she eked out a win over Allen.

Interestingly, McCarron posits that women coming out for Hillary Clinton helped, even though Clinton was routed in the Illinois primary by favorite son Barack Obama.

"[I]t seemed that Democratic women of all backgrounds, many hellbent for Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, proceeded to vote their gender all the way down," he writes.

Maybe. But what does that say about the failure of Obama to have coattails when it came to change/reform candidates such as Larry Suffredin (who was endorsed by Jesse Jackson Jr.) or Howard Brookins Jr., the only viable African American in the race (perennial loser Tommy Brewer doesn't count) who was endorsed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson?

I don't know the answer. Maybe nothing. But it sure is an interesting question.

Or maybe it will turn out that 2008 isn't the Year of the Woman or the Year of the African American but the Year of the Hispanics, who just may be finally flexing their muscle as a political bloc. It looks like they might be the kingmakers this year. Or the queenmakers.

*

McCarron's acknowledgement that if he had known what he knows now of Alvarez's resume he might have voted for her only points up the failure of the local media to really invest themselves in this race. No wonder they're surprised.

I know I held off writing about the race in the days before the election because I felt like I just didn't have enough information about the candidates. The press blew this one.

*

Alvarez's claim to have "changed a lot of things" during her time so far in the state's attorney's office isn't entirely convincing, though. She points to her role in "third-round interviews" coinciding with a rise in minority prosecutors, which isn't entirely persuasive.

Nonetheless, she scored some points in her Chicago Tonight interview when she said she would work to end a good old boy network mentality in the office by creating "a better atmosphere of inclusion," including naming more female supervisors.

(In the debate I saw, you could sense that alpha male opponent Bob Milan, the first assistant and endorsed candidade of outgoing Dick Devine, wasn't exactly a pillar of compassionate office politics.)

Alvarez also said her top priority would be to do a better job "listening to communities, particularly minorities, to rebuild trust that has disintegrated."

To that end, she said she would sit down with the new police chief and the head of the police review authority to "figure out a better protocol on corruption issues." She also proposed restoring "community prosecutions offices" to establish a heightened presence in neighborhoods and communities.

*

Lingering questions:

* Can she hold a fundraiser to pay off her husband's loan?
* Is Milan looking for a new job?
* What does Devine think of Alvarez?
* What do the people who work for her think?
* What do the lawyers working on behalf of tortured and wrongly convicted clients think of her?

From The Grave
State Sen. Ricky Hendon (D-Chicago) "claimed that one of his challengers, Jonathan Singh Bedi, was being secretly funded by al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein," Rich Miller writes in the Sun-Times.

Um, isn't this kind of a big deal - either way?

*

More fun facts left over from Super Tuesday!

DisHarmony
See what happened when a New York Times reporter and his wife separately registered with eHarmony to see if its algorithm would match them.

The Beachwood Tip Line: One of a kind.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: How Could I Not Seethe?

HOW COULD I NOT SEETHE?

How could I not seethe
for the exquisite luxury
of your
skin?

How could I not burn
for the fugitive elegance
of your
face?

My manly quest enslaves me.
Ensnared you, scared you,
beguiled you--like
a bitch cobra--

if only for a fortnight.
That's an English
term. This
is History.

As I wait to die
in failure, fighting
for every inch,
I lie awake praying.

I pray and pray
but God has nothing
to say. No
history.

Just memory:
the scent
from your wrist,
your vicious kiss,

your lemon hair
in the sunlight
at B'Hai
Temple. Two minutes

of mystery, a frontier
of hope, dreams
come to life (to memory
if not history).

Let's remain
anonymous!
Our memory
equals history.

I
remember.
I
burn.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

Super Tuesday Leftovers

A collection of items gathered in the aftermath of Tuesday's primaries.

*

Inside the Numbers
* 38,362 Illinoisans voted for John Edwards
* 4,068 votes for Dennis Kucinich - more votes than Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd each got.
* Ron Paul received 45,042 votes from Illinoisans
* Hillary Clinton won just 14 counties in Illinois, all very far Downstate
* Mike Huckabee won just two counties, as did Mitt Romney
* Hillary Clinton actually won 14 of Chicago's 50 wards: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 22, 23, 25, 30, 31, 26, 38, 41, and 45.
* Clinton also won 8 of 30 townships: Berwyn, Cicero, Lemont, Leyden, Maine, Orland, Palos and Stickney.

(Source: Chicago Tribune)

A Voter's Tale
Beachwood reader Erika Enk writes:

So, I voted in the 1st precinct of the 47th ward. I get to the table, and the election judge asks for my name and address, and I happily complied. She had my white application in her hand, when she asked me for identification. I showed her my state ID, but I thought that was illegal for her to ask for identification unless my residency was being challenged. I didn't challenge her, however, mostly out of laziness. I wanted to vote and go home. She then hands me my application form, and asks me to sign it. I sign it. She doesn't verify my signature, just lets me proceed to the voting area. Again, I thought she was supposed to verify this? Nonetheless, I successfully cast a ballot.

I get home and my boyfriend tells me, yes indeed, what she did was illegal. I decide to call the Board of Elections to inform them of the procedure irregularities at that precinct. Perhaps a member of the board can visit that precinct to re-instruct the judges. I explain what happened, and the gentleman at the Board of Elections, obviously irritated that I am bothering him with this issue, tells me that a judge can ask for ID if my residency was being challenged. I told him that there was no indication of that. He asks me if I was able to vote.

I told him yes, but that is not the point. He then tells me, "Well, it looks like no harm, no foul." He couldn't understand why I was upset. I took his name and e-mailed the Attorney General.

For the General Election, I am bringing a Judge of Election Handbook.

*

This was apparently a widespread problem in Chicago. Frankly, I've been asked for my ID in every election I've voted in. I had no idea it was illegal.

The Horse Race Problem
On the Sunday before Super Tuesday, the Tribune featured on its front page a story showing that its own poll had Obama and McCain up 2-1 in Illinois. Not really shocking news. Buried in the paper was a story that called into question the notion that Obama's "present" votes on abortion bills were part of some preconceived strategy.

Spin vs. Reality
Is John McCain a "straight talker"?

Of course he is. How do we know? Because he says so, and the media (in general) loves to repeat and recycle this part of the "narrative" instead of actually looking at the record, which shows McCain in fact to be quite pliable.

So in the Sun-Times endorsement of John McCain, for example, readers are told that "McCain is a free thinker who judges each issue on its merits, not on its political implications." Later, the editorial refers to "straight talking John McCain."

Really?

It's easy - and lazy - to just type in the same talking points that we're beat over the head with, but it's not journalism.

*

Here's a classic.

McCain: You know, I'm sure I've taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is . . . "

The archives are full of stuff like this. It takes about .02 seconds to find - that's the beauty of Google.

Or you could just have a journalistic memory that doesn't erase at the end of every day.

Remember the Baghdad market fiasco?

The Tribune's endorsement of McCain wasn't much better.

"To hear McCain speak of honor, of duty, is to wake up the echoes of John F. Kennedy urging Americans to ask not what their country can do for them," the paper said.

I thought Obama was JFK. Or is he Bizarro JFK? And what if they run against each other? Will the world explode?

Anti-Clinton Fatigue
The editorial cartoon in Monday's Trib (from Chip Bok of the Akron Beacon-Journal showed the Clintons sitting at the ktichen table with Bill telling Hillary: "If we can get Chelsea to live with us in the White House, she'll have 16 years experience by the end of your second term."

1. And if you can get Barack Obama to live with the Clintons in the White House, he'll have eight years of experience by the end of her second term.
2. So was she co-president or not? You can't have it both ways.
3. This is just silly. I think you'll find a pretty full career here.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:51 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2008

The [Thursday] Papers

Anita Alvarez is the star of the moment on the local political scene, but I'm not sure why her victory in the Democratic primary for Cook County State's Attorney is such a surprise. She was the strongest debate performer (in the one debate I saw; I think there was at least one other), aired the best TV commercials, was the only woman and Hispanic in the race, and made an effective case that she would be an agent of change despite being the chief deputy of Dick Devine's office.

I have to admit, I thought it would be between her and Larry Suffredin, whose showing was much weaker than I expected. The truth is, there just isn't a large reform vote in Cook County. (Barack Obama certainly didn't have any reform coattails, did he? Isn't that interesting? Apparently "change" is a meme without legs.)

Suffredin's campaign was no doubt bolstered by endorsements from U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, but his commercials and debate performance - for the very few who were watching - were awkward. He was also tainted by his lobbying ties, in a contest that was in part one between career prosecutors and politicians. In the end, Suffredin won a landslide in Evanston, but didn't catch on in the rest of the county.

I was surprised by the strong showing of Ald. Tom Allen. I didn't see that coming, even if he had union support and the Tribune's endorsement. Allen, I'm told, is popular in his ward, but he presents as a classic Chicago alderman. Instead, I thought Smilin' Bob Milan would get more support, seeing as how he had Devine's endorsement and, I perhaps wrongly assumed, some sort of institutional and organizational support. He even aired a Bill Richardson-like commercial that revealed an actual sense of humor. And he got stomped.

Smilin' Milan, as Devine's top assistant and a rung above Alvarez, must be tearing his hair out. At first I dismissed him as the ultimate status quo candidate, but he was persuasive in his argument that he in fact had made internal changes - such as requiring the videotaping of all murder confessions - that were of the sort everyone else was talking about.

"Where were these agents of change?" he said of his opponents whom, he charged, had just discovered the issues facing the office in time for an election.

Milan's impatience and outright disdain for the pols he was up against - and debate panelist Cliff Kelley, who engaged in wholly inappropriate grandstanding in lecturing Milan on the issues - was actually a plus in my book.

But Alvarez was able to counter his attacks on her - his refrain that she was nowhere to be found when he was making change - by pointing to his brusque manner as proof positive that he wasn't the right person to run an inclusive, citizen-friendly office.

And she effectively countered Allen's call for "a fresh start" in an office where he said "False confessions, wrongful convictions, perjury, perjurious expert testimony have gone unchecked" by saying that "Politics is fine, if you want to be an alderman. There is a true danger in handing this office over to someone who will make charging decisions for political reasons."

You got the sense that, above all, she was competent; it didn't take a leap of faith (or a roll of the dice) to cast a vote for her and feel like the office would be run by someone who knew what she was doing. (Though I would have liked to see more media coverage of this race, and in particular, of the records and internal politics involving Alvarez and Milan.)

Meanwhile, Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. wasn't able to overcome allegations of personal improprieties to break out his south suburban stronghold, even though he was best positioned as an African American to carry the reform message echoed by Allen and Suffredin. (The sixth candidate, Tommy Brewer, was a non-factor, as usual.)

Things might have been different in a smaller field with just one reform candidate, or even with just one less.

But I can't say I'm disappointed in the outcome.

*

UPDATE 4:25 P.M.: Alvarez will appear on Chicago Tonight tonight.

*

Tony the Tiger
Alvarez will face Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica, who was unopposed in the Republican primary, in November's general election.

"Peraica, a Croatian immigrant, primarily practices personal injury and real-estate law," the Tribune reports. "He has no prosecutorial experience, but he has tried some criminal cases as a defense attorney.

"He shrugs off concerns about his legal resume, saying the job is largely an administrative position. 'This [state's attorney] is an administrative, supervisory position,' he said. But if I have to try a murder case, no trial of that magnitude is done in a vacuum. It's a team effort.'"

I think the image alone of Tony Peraica trying a murder case loses the election for him.

The Daley Show
The mayor lambasted six aldermen who dared to vote against the realty transfer tax hike necessary to complete Springfield's CTA bailout package for - irony alert - lacking courage.

"If Ald. Fioretti believes they don't need the CTA in his ward, then stand up and say, 'CTA, bypass my people," Daley screamed. (And yes, I saw the video and "screamed" is being polite. "Apopletic" fits. Also, "cry-baby.")

Of course, Bob Fioretti and the other No votes (Sandi Jackson, Berny Stone, Brian Doherty, Rey Colon and Sharon Denise Dixon) weren't voting against CTA service in their wards. The mayor's argument, as usual, was beyond reason.

Instead, Doherty correctly noted that the city council - and Daley, really - had been "bamboozled by Springfield."

After all, the tax increase had been foisted on them by an incompetent state legislature, rendering the city council a rubber stamp not only for Daley, but for Rod Blagojevich, Michael Madigan and Emil Jones.

Proxy War
Ald. Danny Solis, whose sister is Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, said last night on Chicago Tonight that he has known Barack Obama for 20 years and "he has done nothing significant in any phase of his career . . . the pundits are presenting a portrait of Barack that's a little bit elevated from what reality is."

Former Gov. Jim Edgar, meanwhile, said he was worried that John McCain was too conservative, presumably on the war and tax cuts, though he didn't say that.

Publisher's Folly
* Sun-Times publisher Cy Freidheim said last night on Chicago Tonight that Stella Foster's column has "as high quality content anywhere."

* He also said the resignation of editorial page editor Cheryl Reed over outside rewrites of the paper's presidential endorsements was "a tempest in a teapot" and that the unconcerned attitude in the newsroom was to "get on with life."

Pressed by Elizabeth Brackett on just what changes were made, Freidheim said "some of the words, some of the tone, some of the details, that's all."

* Finally, Freidheim said his paper's competition wasn't the Tribune but Google and Yahoo, whom he accused of "pirating" the news. Google and Yahoo actually send readers to the Sun-Times's website. So what's the problem? Besides, the paper's real competition is RedEye, and the answer to its problems is realizing how it got into that position in the first place.

Noted
Esther Cepeda, who lost her job at the Sun-Times in the last round of layoffs, will continue her column at the paper on a freelance basis.

Love Is . . .
So wrong.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Cheeky.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Whoops! I Found Myself!

WHOOPS! I FOUND MYSELF!

I found
Myself

Late one Heart-
Attack

Monday
Morning,

Sitting silent, Indian-
Style

(FUCK
yeah!)

In the back
Yard,

Back to the
Sun,

Grooving,
Grooving grooving

On the dynamo
Hum.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:05 AM | Permalink

Over/Under

The Super Bowl is over. At this point, I have good news and bad news. The good news: The game lived up to the hype. The bad news: The game generated an incredible amount of post-game hype. Let's take a look.

*

Topic: Bill Belichick leaving the field with one second left.
Hype: What a poor sport! ("Maybe he wanted to beat traffic," Eli Manning told David Letterman.)
Reality: He had to take an urgent phone call from John McCain about Super Tuesday strategy. Besides, if someone had told him there was actually one second left, he would've found a way to win the game.

*

Topic:The undefeated season is ruined.
Hype: The whole season is a failure! They could not finish what they started!
Reality: Let me tell you something: American society is filled with things that remain unfinished. Here's a quick list. The war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on illiteracy, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war on terror, divorce rates, escalating medical costs, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, pervasive obesity, massive consumer debt, and loss of manufacturing jobs. Being 18-1 means the Patriots had a 95 percent winning percentage. Can the pundits - or you - say the same thing?

*

Topic: The ubitquitous Mercury Morris.
Hype: Morris insufferably boasts that his 1972 Dolphins remains the greatest team in NFL history because they stand as the only team to go undefeated.
Reality: I cannot disagree with the hype. He's really an arrogant, surly prick.

*

Topic: Grading the commercials.
Hype: Wow! Did you see the Bud Light commercials? What about E-Trade? A few of them made me laugh!
Reality: Ever since Janet Jackson "accidentally" showed her boob, Super Bowl commercials have lost their edge. My solution? A commercial with the following to help put the entertainment back into Super Bowl advertising: A kick in the groin, exploding F-bombs, graphic sexual congress, a man getting his hairpiece ripped off, porn-star cleavage, porn stars, fat blunts, and a kick in the groin of George W. Bush. If that can't all be accomplished, I'll settle for the last one.

*

Topic: Tom Petty's workmanlike halftime show.
Hype: Borrrrrring! I could have listened to these songs on the radio! On at least three different stations per market!
Reality: The suits are simply giving you what you want. If the American public hates unoriginal entertainment, please explain the remakes of the following: American Gladiators, Knight Rider, Get Smart, The Bionic Woman, The Bad News Bears, The Longest Yard, Flash Gordon, Freaky Friday, King Kong, Hairspray, and Ocean's Eleven. So listen to "American Girl" and like it.

*

Topic: Tom Brady's romance with Giselle Bundchen.
Hype: Maybe she put a "Jessica Hex" on Tom.
Reality: Doubtful. Tom Brady has been playing in front of hot girlfriends since he was 12. And she's probably not even the hottest of 'em.

-

For more Emery, see the Kool-Aid archive, and the Over/Under archive. Emery accepts comments from Bears fans reluctantly and everyone else tolerably.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:26 AM | Permalink

February 6, 2008

The [Wednesday] Papers

Super Tuesday notes.

* Without a doubt, the best story of the night was the story of the magic pens and their invisible ink on the Far North Side.

"[W]hen I got to the booth, my pen didn't work - it was like a felt-tip marker with no ink," Amy Carlton writes at Rubber Nun. "So I went back to the desk and was told - along with several other confused voters trying to swap out their nonfunctional pens - that these were 'invisible ink' pens that would not leave marks on the ballot but would absolutely be read by the scanners . . .

"I saw a woman (let's call her Angela, because that is her name) talking to a Board of Elections official about these weird invisible ink pens. Angela had tried to vote just after 6 am, and called the BOE after her ballot was also rejected. The BOE official kept flipping through the official booklet and found nothing about invisible ink pens - neither she nor the other BOE supervisor who showed up knew anything about them. Yet the election judges kept insisting they were trained to hand out these pens, asserting that the scanners could read them."

The election judges kept insisting they were trained to hand out these pens!

"I should mention here that the committeeman and another guy working in that office both said when I asked about the invisible ink thing, Yeah, that's how they're doing it this year.'" Carlton continues. "So there's plenty of stupid to go around.

"When I got to the office I called the Chicago Tribune, the Board of Elections, a Rogers Park blogger, and my alderman."

"But officials insisted there were no dirty tricks involved," the Sun-Times assures us.

Huh? I mean, we know who the poll workers were, right? Will they be questioned? Can they be charged with election fraud? Or were those pens really magic . . .

* "'Barack is doing really bad if he can get only 52 percent of the Hispanics in Illinois,' said Ald. Danny Solis (25th), one of the only elected officials in Illinois to endorse Clinton," the Sun-Times reports.

The paper failed to mention that Solis's sister is Hillary Clinton's campaign manager.

* The most fascinating local race by far was for Cook County State's Attorney. According to the Tribune's numbers, Anita Alvarez edged out Ald. Tom Allen in both the city and the suburbs to win the Democratic nomination.

Larry Suffredin, who was endorsed by Jesse Jackson Jr. and Forrest Claypool, stomped the rest of the field in Evanston but didn't show as much widespread strength as Alvarez and Allen. Likewise, Howard Brookins's stronghold of Thornton Township in the south suburbs wasn't enough to overcome a middling showing elsewhere.

* There was no online chat on the Fox News Chicago website, by the way; they decided not to. But I did appear on-air once with the magic pen story, and I taped a segment for this morning about the failure of the national liberal netroots to topple Southwest Side U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, who easily won re-election.

* Twenty-seven percent of Illinois voters thought that only Hillary Clinton had engaged in unfair attacks, according to exit polls cited by the New York Times. That compares to 18 percent of Missouri voters, 17 percent of New York voters, and 13 percent of California voters.

* "When Obama says he is running a grass-roots campaign, it isn't just talk," Mary Mitchell writes today in the Sun-Times.

Her colleague, Lynn Sweet, however, notes that Obama "draws votes from people with higher incomes and educations." Elsewhere, the Sun-Times described the crowd at Obama's Hyatt headquarters in Chicago last night as "mostly young, white," and the Tribune reports that "Latino voters and lower-income workers also continued to show fealty to Clinton."

And then there's Obama's "stealthy" K Street operation.

So I guess it depends on what you mean by "grass-roots."

* Mike Huckabee has no pollsters, no consultants, and wants to abolish the IRS. Now there's a change agenda built on a new kind of politics!

* It was a bad night for reform, meaning it was business as usual in Chicago.

* Carol Marin has the scoop on the tainted victory of Deborah Mell, daughter of Ald. Dick Mell and sister of First Lady Patti Blagojevich.

* "Having run on the idea of broad participation across society's divisions, Mr. Obama's campaign often seems to teeter on becoming a cult of personality - a feeling that the candidate and those around him do nothing to dispel," the New York Times editorial page says this morning.

"In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America, on Monday, Mr. Obama's wife, Michelle, was asked if she would work to support Mrs. Clinton if she won. 'I'd have to think about that,' she replied."

Hillary has pledged to support whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

Then again, the editorial says that Hillary "fired the first divisive shots of the campaign," even though it was the Times itself that reported Obama's intention to save his flagging campaign by attacking Hillary Clinton - at the behest of his wealthy donors.

* Mark Brown pushes the button on the pre-set McCain narrative in the Sun-Times today, writing that "The Straight Talk Express has driven a straight path long enough that we know it's real."

Not quite. Obama is right when he says "Somewhere along the line, the Straight Talk Express lost some wheels." Here's some of the debunking.

(Brown is right, though, when he says that a McCain candidacy would undermine, not bolster, Obama's claim on independents.)

* "If I were Barack Obama I would tell my flaks in the news media to shut up in the final days before elections," Craig Crawford writes at Trail Mix in a post titled "Media Gets It Wrong Again."

In particular, the polling out of California was worthless, yet wildly touted all over the airwaves and, yes, the blogosphere. Doesn't anyone ever learn?

* Obama's speech got me all fired up to go . . . change something. But what?

* My brother voted for Wolf Blitzer, because he spends so much time in The Situation Room that he's obviously the best prepared to be president.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Situated.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

Meeting Up Now

The newest meetups in your area. Seriously.

* The Chicago Heights Wiffleball Meetup

* Chicagoland Real Estate Entrepreneurs

* Christian Youth Theater

* Wealth In Motion; Creating Your Retirement Income

* The Winthrop Harbor Home Church Meetup

* The Chicago Librarians Meetup

* The Chicago Borderline Personality Disorder Meetup

* The Chicago Wholistic Travel Meetup

* Groupe du Mercredi

* Chicago Waterdeep Enter Worship Circle Jam Session Meetup

* The Mt. Prospect Jaycees

* The Chicago Chi, Health & Fitness Group

* The Chicago Makeovers Meetup

* Posh Swap: W omen clothing's swap (Chicago's Northwest suburbs)

* Scripture Memory Group

* The Tinley Park Pet Professionals Meetup

* The Chicago Financial Freedom Friends Meetup

* 3px Jog: The CSS Meetup Group

* The Schaumburg area Beadwork Meetup

* James Ray Journey Expansion Team (JET) Meetup

* The Aurora Night Life Meetup Group

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:59 AM | Permalink

February 5, 2008

The [Tuesday] Papers

I would like to advise a certain portion of my readers to abstain from voting today. A journalist ought not participate in internal party activities, and that's what a primary is. It isn't your job to help a political party choose nominees for public office. You are supposed to stand outside the system.

And let me tell you, it's a much clearer perspective from out here.

Cheerleaders in the Press Box
It's also not the job of journalists to cheerlead, particularly for their hometown guy. If anything, a hometown candidate should get more scrutiny from the hometown media than from anywhere else. This is the first line of defense.

To that end, I recommend the Tribune's fine - and seemingly forgotten - series from last spring, "The Making of a Candidate." I'm not sure how anyone who reads this - or the links I've provided in Obamathon - can truly believe Barack Obama is a reform candidate with a record of change who is practicing a different kind of politics.

In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen a more deviously cynical campaign in my lifetime. Well played, Mr. Axelrod.

And a reminder: Thinking critically about Obama's campaign isn't a signal of support for someone else's campaign. It's a defense of the truth. I have no horse in this race. I am not a Democrat. Their nominee is their business. Vetting candidates is just what journalists - not cheerleading apologists - ought to be doing. And here in Chicago, that means Obama.

Programming Note
I will be hosting an online chat tonight and providing some commentary thereof as part of Fox Chicago's Super Tuesday coverage. Please join in; I'm told you will be able to find me here.

Endorsement Endgame
Is there a worse-managed newsroom in America than the Sun-Times?

The paper has returned to the scene of a previous crime and muddied its hands in the endorsement process once again, and the fact that "outsiders" rewrote endorsements that didn't change who the paper supports makes it even more comical than the time when former publisher David Radler overturned his editorial board for reasons still unexplained to support Rod Blagojevich (and a few other hacks) in his first run for governor.

The Michael Cooke Show rolls on . . .

*

Human Sacrifice
Now that the Sun-Times has thrown some bodies overboard, it has put itself up for sale.

Mr. Transparency
Barack Obama talks a lot about transparency on the campaign trail - health care negotiations on C-SPAN! - but he not only refuses to answer questions about Tony Rezko and often demands questions from reporters in writing which he then doesn't answer, he now wants sessions with the media on his airplane to be off-the-record.

Actions speak louder than words, people.

And to that end, take a look at Obama's Record: The Truth Is Out There.

Machine Politics
Mayor Daley and Emil Jones are leading a get-out-the-vote drive on behalf of Obama. What more do you need to know?

Green Dream
The candidates are all talking about how green they are, but there is only one Green Party, and it's also holding a primary today.

Greene Nightmare
Bob Greene is back, and he's in an elevator with two women.

He's also the first one on the planet to riff on people who seem to be talking to you but are actually on the phone, and how technology is isolating us from each other. Because, you know, talking to strangers in elevators is such more important civic discourse.

*

A Bob Greene refresher.

Dumb and Dumber
Garry Jaffe writes: "I'm conflicted about whose column is worse today.

"First there's Sneed who wasted a couple of hundred words telling us that Heath Ledger might have ridden a skateboard in Chicago last summer. And she didn't even write them, some guy sent it in to her. Just lazy!

"And then Stella Foster says, 'It's Classy to be seen reading the Sun-Times - and it's only 50 cents.'

"It's so classy, I never see it being read on the bus or L anymore, just the free RedEye.

"One of them is worse . . . yeah, I said it!"

Camelot
"[I]n retrospect, we learned that it was only a myth," Barbara Blades of Evanston writes. "John F. Kennedy inspired the country with rhetoric but wore a suit of tarnished armor."

You might even say it was a fairy tale.

ObamaCare
"If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance - nobody knows how big - that we'll get universal health care in the next administration," Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times on Monday. "If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won't happen."

Read the whole thing and find out why.

By the way, this is the most e-mailed Opinion piece from the Times as I write this - and it's just the latest in a series of columns Krugman has written criticizing ObamaCare. The Obama campaign has responded - disingenuously, as shown in this comment, for example, on this post. The Obama campaign also doesn't take into consideration Krugman's complaint about the changed tone and rheotric of Obama's attacks on mandates.

*

"From where I sit, a dream is dying - and progressive Obama supporters, caught up in the romance of his candidacy, don't understand that he's actually undermining their cause," Krugman writes on his blog, which is worth sitting down with and giving a good perusal.

Cop Shop
"Despite recent reporting that incoming Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis intends a review of the Cozzi beating case, he is powerless to address the issue," Tracy Jake Siska writes at Chicago Justice. "The contract between the City and the FOP is truly where all the regulations regarding the operations of the accountability mechanisms are codified. The rhetoric that was spun by Weis during his confirmation hearings in front of the City Council did not truly reflect reality. As Weis was appearing in front of the City Council the latest version of the contract between the City and the FOP was being negotiated in secret. Weis and the rest of the authorities within the Department and the City will have to live with the results of these secret negotiations."

Debating Obama
Just to widen some horizons.

* "Fundraising Collides With Rhetoric."

* Obama's Right-Wing Economists.

* The War Vote 1.

* The War Vote 2.

* Now, I happen to think that the vote to authorize the Iraq war is reason enough to not support Hillary Clinton. But I also don't remember Obama being anywhere near the leadership of the anti-war movement. (In this interview with the Windy City Times during his U.S. Senate campaign, the war was not among his top agenda items and, in fact, was an afterthought to him.)

* And here he is another interview with NPR from 2004 enunciating the Clinton position.

NPR: This ticket, obviously, John Kerry and John Edwards, both senators voted for the war.

OBAMA: Yeah. Well - and I think that there is room for disagreement in that initial decision. Where I think we have to be unified is to recognize that we've got an enormous task ahead in actually making Iraq work. And that is going to take the kind of international cooperation that I think the Bush administration has shown difficulty pulling off, and I think that the Kerry-Edwards campaign is going to be better prepared to do.

Industrial Disease
Jim DeRogatis passes on one of the more brilliant light bulb jokes I've seen. And it has nothing to do with Obama.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Turn us on.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: My Good War

MY GOOD WAR

My friend's father finally
showed me

his medals. His son,
my friend Dan,

a Navy Commander
killed

on September 11th,
had arranged them

in a
frame

some years
ago.

I remember Dan
telling me a story

of his dad laying wounded
in the guts in a barn

in France, but
keep my goddam mouth

SHUT about
it by the way.

In the days
after the attack,

I visited their
home. His dad

answered the door
to their quiet, warm, humble

Naperville home
in tears. Yeah

we wept
some. Then, after conversation and letter reading, suddenly, but quietly,

he brought me
into the dining room.

On the mantle
were his World War II

medals, in a
frame. There were

a lot
of them, I

think more
than Dan

got. "Jesus,"
I thought.

Wide-eyed, dry
eyed, like

I am
right

now.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

Reviewing the Reviews

A weekly look at the local (and not so) book reviews.

Hillary Schmillary
Have any political figures in American history been as thoroughly - and often ridiculously - examined as the Clintons? From Bill's sex life to Hillary's laugh, the obsession is beyond absurd.

Now comes Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Wome Writers, which is not a wholly uninteresting premise, but also shows just how far behind we are as a nation compared to the rest of the globe's matter-of-fact history of women leaders.

Thankfully, the Sun-Times's Teresa Budasi, as she states in her Sunday column, has read Thirty Ways so we don't have to. (Wouldn't 10 or 15 ways have been enough?)

Budasi found a sizable number of the book's essays to be silly and predictable - and far too many coming from editor Susan Morrison's New Yorker pals. But the book is not totally without value.

"Thankfully, for every five essays about Hillary's fashion sense, icy coldness, stand-by-your-man-ness and even weird stuff like what her food preferences say about her or whether she's a dog or cat person (Susan Orlean, you phoned in this assignment), there is one that stands out."

In the end, Budasi finds essays by six authors worthy of your time.

"And while you're reading," she writes, "remember that no book like this would ever be written about a male candidate."

Abortion Portion
"Abortions are a much more common procedure in America than most people think, says Susan Wicklund," The Week reports in its roundup of reviews (not available online) of Wicklund's This Common Secret: My Life as an Abortion Doctor.

"An abortion provider for the past two decades, Wicklund claims that 40 percent of American women have abortions during their childbearing years.

"She has seen how varied women's circumstances can be. Once she refused to abort a baby who was later murdered by its father. Once she performed an abortion for a rape victim who learned, too late, that the fetus had been conceived in a loving relationship before the attack. She has seen pro-life demonstrators return to the picket line outside her clinics within a week of abortions they elected to have themselves."

Remembering Reagan
"President Ronald Reagan, returning from a 1982 trip to Latin America, said: 'You'd be surprised. They're all individual countries,'" notes a New York Times review of Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul.

*

"In 1992, Margaret Thatcher - perhaps more familiar with the desolate Falkland Islands, which her military had reclaimed from Argentina when she was the prime minister of Britain - seemed nonplussed to see skyscrapers over Sao Paulo, Brazil, the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere: 'Why didn't anybody tell me about this?'"

Internet Imbecility
More reviews are rolling in of Lee Siegel's insufferable Against The Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob, and while most are critical they also fail to make the most obvious of observations about the fallacies of Siegel's argument.

Take the New York Times review on Sunday, capped by an infographic distilling Siegel's argument into an error message: Disconnected: The Internet's connectivity has unexpectedly isolated you. Sitting alone in front of your computer encourages exhibitionism and asocial behavior.

Has the Internet isolated people any more than, say, TV, radio, or . . . books? None of which allow you constant contact not only with your friends but folks all around the globe who share your interests?

It's sheer nonsense.

"The Internet, Siegel argues, is the first social environment to serve the needs of the 'asocial individual,'" the Times notes.

1. Thank God! They need to be served too.
2. Ever hear of comic books?

But the ultimate in Siegel silliness comes when he puts the Lonelygirl hoax in the same category as the Iraq War for its betrayal of the public.

"By the time the Lonelygirl hoax was revealed, the country had long been reeling from a series of public betrayals," Siegel writes, according to the Times. "Enron officials had lied to their shareholders. A New York Times reporter named Jayson Blair had lied to his editors. James Frey had fabricated events in his best-selling, Oprah-endorsed memoir. Most consequentially, and outrageously, of all, President Bush had clearly lied to America and to the world about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and also about a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. You might have expected an exasperated American public, or at least the American media and blogosphere, to be equally angered by the revelation that YouTube and MySpace had been infiltrated by dishonest and powerful vested interests."

Oh. My. God.

Writes reviewer John Lanchester: "The fact that a man as smart as Siegel came to put Lonelygirl15 and Iraq into the same train of argument is a sign of the Internet's power to make people lose all sense of perspective."


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 AM | Permalink

This Week On Oprah

In honor of Oprah Winfrey's involvement in the Barack Obama campaign, we thought we'd tell readers what her fine fertile political mind is bringing to viewers this week, according to Oprah.com.

*

Monday
Should a 340-Pound Teenage Have Gastric Bypass Surgery?
How far will parents go to help their children lose weight? Our cameras follow a 340-pound high school student into gastric bypass surgery. Then, why one mom took her 13-year-old across the border for gastric banding. And, when one mother's son hit 363 pounds, she took extreme measures. Plus, another woman had gastric bypass when she was a teenager . . . five years later, the unexpected pitfalls she now faces.

Tuesday
Dr. Oz Reveals the Ultimate Checklist for Great Aging
Dr. Oz's ultimate anti-aging checklist will help you peel off the years! Stock your fridge with the latest anti-aging foods and drinks. Why antioxidants are so beneficial and how to get your fill! Then, how you can add eight years to your life in just five minutes a day! Plus, an ancient secret that promotes youth, a spice that makes you smarter and a powerful berry that you need to know. And, Dr. Oz sorts out the vitamins you really need to take!

Wednesday
The Secret Behind "The Secret"
Millions of lives have already been transformed by "The Secret." Now, learn the real secret to making it work in your life. How to get your dream job, find love and build the life you want! Life coach Martha Beck weighs in on why the law of attraction works. Then, how "The Secret" saved one woman's business. And, viewers reveal how it can help you improve your marriage, leave the past behind and reach your goals!

Thursday
Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat with Peter Walsh
Are you ready to get your house and your health in shape this year? Clutter expert Peter Walsh is back with eye-opening information from his new book, Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? He reveals the unexpected side effect of decluttering your life - weight loss! Then, Peter goes inside the lives of an overweight family drowning in clutter and a mom on the brink of a breakdown. Don't miss the shocking and emotional "now-or-never" rescue mission!

Friday
The Ultimate Reunion: When Dad Is a Sperm Donor
Six feet tall, a medical student, brown hair, blue eyes and number X23PJ . . . what if that's all you knew about your biological father? An estimated 30,000 children are born every year from sperm donors. Many struggle with the fact that half their genes are a mystery to them. Now, two sperm donors - one involved with the children and one who does not know them - share their side of the story. Plus, adult children of donors weigh in on the confusion, frustration and the questions that may never be answered.

*

Now get out there and vote!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2008

The [Monday] Papers

1. "Perfect Ending"

2. "18 AND UH-OH!"

3. "How could this possibly have happened?" our very own Jim Coffman asks in SportsMonday. "How could a Giants team that barely squeaked past a feeble bunch of Bears in a December regular-season game possibly have pulled it all together and capped off one of the great playoff runs of all time with yesterday's 17-14 victory?"

4. "In the four years since Nipplegate, the infamous wardrobe malfunction that guaranteed that MTV will never produce another Super Bowl halftime show, the NFL has played it safe with a procession of classic-rock heroes: Paul McCartney (2005), the Rolling Stones (2006) and Prince (2007)," Jim DeRogatis writes in his review of Tom Petty's performance on Sunday.

Likewise, Greg Kot writes: "Then came Nipplegate, the infamous Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake 'wardrobe malfunction' at halftime of the 2004 game. The NFL is all about charging fans big money to watch oversized men in armor smash in each other's brains, but show a little skin and the league caretakers turn into moral crusaders.

"As a result, the NFL tightened up its halftime editing policies with the TV networks and vowed to censor any unsanctioned language or choreography. They also skewed away from younger, more risque performers and started booking older mainstream acts in recent years: the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Prince."

I have to say, I hardly think Prince was a safe choice. After all . . .

5. "[I]t really wasn't a great performance; it was more of a Tom Petty commercial," Kot writes.

6. Obama's Record: The Truth Is Out There.

7. "[By] far the most revealing comments came from Jerry Mickelson, co-founder of Jam Productions, and Michael Yerke, talent booker with Live Nation and the House of Blues. Two of the most powerful and successful concert promoters in the United States, Mickelson and Yerke are cut-throat competitors who agree on almost nothing - except the fact that the city continues to see live music as something to be tolerated at best and silenced at worst," DeRogatis wrote Sunday about the Daley Administration's failure to appreciate - and market - the city's thriving music scene.

"Mickelson noted that the city Web sites for the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Tourism trumpet hardly any of the city's two dozen world-renowned rock, dance and jazz clubs, yet one page does tout the merits of the Admiral Theatre, 'the world famous home of hundreds of beautiful showgirls totally nude.'"

8. "The top mayoral aide charged with implementing a city hiring system free of politics is leaving her $147,156-a-year job - six weeks after a federal hiring monitor accused the city of regressing in its efforts," the Sun-Times reports.

"Jacqueline King has decided to return to her old job as head of graphics and reproduction."

Graphics and reproduction?

9. "Cook County Assessor James Houlihan has contributed $190,000 to a candidate running for a seat on the board that reviews the work of Houlihan's office," the Tribune reports.

I'm no fan of Joseph Berrios, but this doesn't seem right either.

10. I'm still roaring at Jack Higgins' editorial cartoon in the Sun-Times on Sunday featuring a snowman with a sign that says "Stop Global Warming" and a couple in a snowstorm walking by exclaiming, "Oh my gosh, it's Al Gore!"

Because, you know, every time it snows global warming is debunked.

11. Dan Lipinski is angry that people from "places like San Francisco, Hollywood, New York City and Massachusetts" are pouring money into his Southwest Side district.

I think he means fags, Jews and Democrats.

12. Please read Bob Somerby every day. Please catch up with his archives, too.

13. Chatham County Line, David Allen Coe, Tom Petty and Chuck Norris. In Don's Root Cellar.

14. "I'm not saying it's right for games to have such an impact on youth," Paige Wiser writes about the chances of Chicago landing a spot on Monopoly's new World Edition. "But there it is. As luck would have it, I grew up playing the war game Risk, and it has profoundly affected my geography skills to this day. Try keeping up on current events when your main point of reference is the military strength of Irkutsk.

"This Monopoly business, then, is not to be underestimated. With one feel-good publicity stunt, we will be establishing the global hierarchy, once and for all. If Chicago can get on the board, there will be no doubt: We are world-class.

"No longer will we be stereotyped as the home of Michael Jordan, Jerry Springer and miscellaneous mobsters. Now, we will be stereotyped as Chicago! Fourteenth-most desirable property in the world!"

15. Chicago-opoly: The Game Board That Works.

The Beachwood Tip Line: At your service.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

Obama's Record: The Truth Is Out There

If Obama says he loves you, check it out.

*

Obama And Exelon
"When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the state's freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause," the New York Times reports.

"Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was 'the only nuclear legislation that I've passed.'

"'I just did that last year,' he said, to murmurs of approval.

"A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story."

You might even say Obama lied.

"While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators."

*

"Senator Obama's staff was sending us copies of the bill to review, and we could see it weakening with each successive draft,' said Joe Cosgrove, a park district director in Will County, Ill., where low-level radioactive runoff had turned up in groundwater. 'The teeth were just taken out of it."

*

"Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama's campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fund-raisers.

"Another Obama donor, John W. Rowe, chairman of Exelon, is also chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear power industry's lobbying group, based in Washington. Exelon's support for Mr. Obama far exceeds its support for any other presidential candidate.

"In addition, Mr. Obama's chief political strategist, David Axelrod, has worked as a consultant to Exelon."

*

"[C]ontrary to Mr. Obama's comments in Iowa, [the bill] ultimately died amid parliamentary wrangling in the full Senate . . . The campaign did not directly address the question of why Mr. Obama had told Iowa voters that the legislation had passed."

*

"In interviews over the past two weeks, Obama aides insisted that the revisions did not substantively alter the bill. In fact, it was left drastically different."

*

"The revised bill was never taken up in the full Senate, where partisan parliamentary maneuvering resulted in a number of bills being shelved before the 2006 session ended.

"Still, the legislation has come in handy on the campaign trail. Last May, in response to questions about his ties to Exelon, Mr. Obama wrote a letter to a Nevada newspaper citing the bill as evidence that he stands up to powerful interests.

"When I learned that radioactive tritium had leaked out of an Exelon nuclear plant in Illinois," he wrote, "I led an effort in the Senate to require utilities to notify the public of any unplanned release of radioactive substances."

"Last October, Mr. Obama reintroduced the bill, in its rewritten form."

*

Obama And Coal
"After co-sponsoring legislation earlier this year for billions of dollars in subsidies for liquefied coal, Obama more recently began qualifying his support in ways that have left both environmentalists and coal industry officials unsure where he stands," the Washington Post reports. "His shift has helped shape this month's Senate debate over how to reduce both dependence on foreign oil and carbon dioxide emissions; on Tuesday, he voted against one proposal to boost liquefied coal and for a more narrowly worded one. Both failed.

"More broadly, Obama's contortions on coal point to the limits of the role he likes to assume, that of a unifier who can appeal across traditional lines and employ a 'new kind of politics' to solve problems."

Obama And Health Care
"When Barack Obama and fellow state lawmakers in Illinois tried to expand healthcare coverage in 2003 with the Health Care Justice Act, they drew fierce opposition from the insurance industry, which saw it as a back-handed attempt to impose a government-run system," the Boston Globe reports.

"Over the next 15 months, insurers and their lobbyists found a sympathetic ear in Obama, who amended the bill more to their liking partly because of concerns they raised with him and his aides, according to lobbyists, Senate staff, and Obama's remarks on the Senate floor.

"The wrangling over the health care measure, which narrowly passed and became law in 2004, illustrates how Obama, during his eight years in the Illinois Senate, was able to shepherd major legislation by negotiating competing interests in Springfield, the state capital. But it also shows how Obama's own experience in lawmaking involved dealings with the kinds of lobbyists and special interests he now demonizes on the campaign trail."

Obama's "Present" Votes
"Much of Clinton's early criticism of Obama's 'present' votes have involved his actions on seven bills aimed at restricting abortion," the Tribune reports.

"Obama and officials from Planned Parenthood have said the 'present' votes were a strategy to give cover to Democrats who might be attacked by Republicans later if they voted 'no.' But most, if not all, of the lawmakers in question were in politically safe districts.

"Shortly after Obama's presidential bid was announced a year ago, state Sen. Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete) said her 'present' votes were 'an easy way of voting' because casting a 'no' vote would be 'so harsh [since] nobody's for killing babies.'

"'I don't recall any kind of strategy,' said Halvorson, now seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress. Planned Parenthood "may have said it was OK to vote 'present,' but no one on that list [of those voting present] needed cover."

Is Obama lying?

"In a recent debate, Clinton seized on a vote when Obama alone voted 'present' on a bill allowing sexual assault victims to ask prosecutors to request the sealing of court records," the Tribune notes.

"Obama responded by noting he had sponsored such a bill approved by the state Senate, only to learn later that it 'needed to be fixed so that it wouldn't be struck down.' The Obama campaign said Friday he was referring to concerns that the measure violated free-speech protections prohibiting judges from sealing records of trials held in open court.

"Legislative records show Obama did co-sponsor a version of the bill backed by Democrats, but it was vetoed by then-Republican Gov. George Ryan. The governor opted to sign an identical bill sponsored by Republicans - the one Obama voted 'present' on. Obama did not state his objection on the floor at the time, though, and the law remains in effect."

Obama Vs. Obama
Ordinarily I might dismiss an article from The Washington Times as right-wing tripe, but when the paper reports that "Barack Obama, the senatorial candidate of 2004, might have a bone to pick with Barack Obama, the presidential candidate of 2008," it sounds an awfully lot like the AP report that said "If he wanted, the Barack Obama of today could have a pretty good debate with the Barack Obama of yesterday."

And both back up their assertions.

Obama, Harry, Louise, Newt and Rush
Obama is right about re-fighting the wars of the 90s, only this time he's the one playing the roles of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh.

-

From his secret money operation to his media manipulation, Obamathon pulls back the curtain on one of the biggest political fairy tales of our times.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Pindaric Ode To The Fantastic Four

PINDARIC ODE TO THE FANTASTIC FOUR

Ladies: respect. You four came out the front door
at Oakley and North Aves. one late-autumn night
as I lugged the last of my book collection to
Myopic. I was already out of breath, but you guys
took whatever was left. Four of you, ready to PARTY!
One of you said: "We're all wearing short skirts!"
Indeed: short skirts, leggings, knee-high spiky
boots.
Lo: you are better-educated, better-paid and
better-prepared for life than your male counterparts.
Me? I'm a generation

older than y'all.Your power, confidence and obvious
success turns me ON. No threat here. I am a success,
too, but I am poor.
I envy the men of your generation, not you guys. Be
patient
with them. The one you fall in love with might not
make a
great husband. Have joy, then move on. You'll find
what you
need. Hello: I love you. I blew my nose and then
y'all blew my mind. Me? I am off the hook. My
generation has
exceptional women, too, and they have loved me madly.
But your youth, energy, elan and grace hurt my heart.

Then, quickly, it healed,
stronger than ever.
I treasure this. I will never

forget you.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday

How could this possibly have happened? How could a Giants team that barely squeaked past a feeble bunch of Bears in a December regular-season game possibly have pulled it all together and capped off one of the great playoff runs of all time with yesterday's 17-14 victory? So many things had to go right for the underdogs. The Giants had to make so many plays and their favored, previously undefeated counterparts had to botch so many opportunities.

Any fan who watched the team from New York stumble and bumble through three-and-a-half quarters of futility against the Bears at the start of the season's final stretch would have acknowledged that Sunday's triumph seemed well beyond the pale of possibility. Quarterback Eli Manning finally put together a couple late touchdown drives to give the Giants a 21-16 comeback victory over the Bears back on December 2, but it looked like this team would no doubt peak by simply squeaking into the playoffs.

Then the Giants won at Tampa Bay, and at Dallas, and at Green Bay to advance to Super Bowl XLII.

And on Sunday . . .

* When the Giants were struggling, dropped passes were a big factor (they led the league). Sure enough, an early drop put them in a bad spot (actually it wasn't a drop - a drop would've been fine - instead receiver Steve Smith popped the ball up into the air and into the waiting arms of Patriot defensive back Ellis Hobbs). But the favorites couldn't turn that miscue into points and couldn't secure two other first-half fumbles that could have been killers. In particular, Patriot backup linebacker Pierre Woods was lying right on top of a fumbled handoff in the second quarter before back-up Giant running back Ahmad Bradshaw somehow dug in and pulled the ball out.

* In general, the first half was full of all sorts of sound and fury, signifying very little. There were plenty of almost-big plays, but at the intermission the teams had combined for all of 10 points.

* The Patriots busted out a bizarre opening play (they prepared two weeks for this?) and their offensive line quickly fell back on its heels. The offense never did develop the easy rhythm that made the team seem so unbeatable for so much of the season. And they were still one big, defensive play away from a championship throughout the Giants' final drive.

Right off the bat, Tom Brady simulated a reverse hand-off before turning into a heavy rush and trying to throw a screen pass. The slow-developing fake seemed like exactly the wrong way to start a play in which the Patriot offensive linemen briefly held up defenders before releasing them to try to get in position to block for the screen. Brady managed to avoid disaster with an incompletion, but that play and a few other early pratfalls set the tone.

* How was it that on both of the late touchdowns - the Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress receptions - both star receivers were wide open against single coverage? They both ran great routes, but after the defenses had spent virtually the entire games using their safeties to provide help against the opposing teams' biggest weapons, why in the world would they just leave cornerbacks out there alone when it mattered most?

* Burress, of course, was the guy who had predicted the Giants would win 21-17, and had been taken to task by many for his having provided "bulletin board material" for the Patriots. Except this was the Super Bowl! How could Burress' comments have added fuel to what was already a raging inferno of motivation (for instance, there was that little matter of capping off an undefeated season and establishing themselves as the greatest team of all time).

And oh by the way, let's all vow to support big-time athletes stepping out and making bold statements. We should be finding ways to celebrate these guys - and saying thanks for their taking a pass on spewing the sort of scripted, cliche-drenched drivel that so often fills sports pages these days.

And now for a little bit of local news:

* Bulls general manager John Paxson last week hired former player Mike Brown as an assistant coach focusing on the development of the Bulls' big men. Paxson apparently initially spoke with Brown about the job back in December. In other words, it took him more than a month to decide whether to hire an assistant. No wonder this guy can't pull the trigger on an in-season trade.

And sure enough, the Lakers then go and make an unbelievable trade on Friday for exactly the low-post guy the Bulls needed. It would have been enough if Los Angeles had simply found a way to pry Pau Gasol away from the Grizzlies. The seven-foot Gasol hasn't been having his best season, but he was averaging almost 19 points and nine rebounds a game.

But in the process, the Lakers also divested themselves of big-time bust Kwame Brown (a former No. 1, first-round, straight-out-of-high-school draft pick of the Wizards when Michael Jordan was in charge). Memphis gets some salary cap relief after this year, but even the draft picks going back don't necessarily favor the Grizzlies. Los Angeles gives up first-rounders in 2008 and 2010, but they almost certainly won't be very valuable (the Lakers are and will be good and therefore will draft late). The Grizzlies give up a sure-to-be-high second rounder. And oh by the way, first-round picks receive guaranteed contracts while second-rounders do not, giving the teams that draft them more financial flexibility.

When does spring training start again?

-

Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every . . . Monday.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

Chatham County vs. David Allen Coe

1. The last time we checked in with Chatham County Line, they were just coming down from a high they got from smoking high-grade bluegrass. The telltale smell of trad purism was all over them. And their skinny neckties were drawn so tight, it kind of hurt just to see it, although you got a vicarious thrill listening to them work through their obsessions. It was beautiful but scary, as well.

Now, however, the band seems to be loosening those cravats a bit, and switching their substance of choice from pure grass to boozy jam. The thing that really stands out in Chatham County Line's new album, IV (to be released in March), is that Dave Wilson and company appear willing to relax their grip a bit on the tight strictures of the bluegrass song rulebook, kick back with a little Jameson's and drift where the muse takes them. The result is a bit less Doc Watson and a little bit more "Country Honk."

CCL.jpgWith Chris Stamey at the the controls, Wilson lets his rock 'n' roll side slip out just a bit on IV, although it's still mainly about the purity of the mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar and bass thing. It's mostly evident on the "Let It Rock." The title is a bit of a giveaway. In it, the band does indeed seem to be harkening back to the Gram Parsons-y, Let It Bleed-era Stones (my favorite era of theirs, of course). Wilson sings about bass drums and hitchhikers' thumbs, and then Chandler Holt busts into a banjo solo where Keef might have spit out a feral lick on a six-string. It's like what the Stones would have done if it were 1949 instead of 1969.

Elsewhere on the new disc, on "I Got Worry" Wilson gets all bluesy as the band channels the booze-filled late nights at the Raleigh crash pad where they honed their craft. And "Whipping Boy" is a bile-filled complaint about a mistreatin' woman that would seem appropriate on a Sun Records session from about 1954, a real hillbilly blues number that, again, would fit right in on Let It Bleed somewhere between "Love In Vain" and "You Got the Silver".

In the PR notes for the release, Wilson talks about how he went about writing the songs for IV a bit differently, actually composing most of them while recreating in his basement not with other members of Chatham County Line, but with a couple of guys from Tift Merritt's band. And he also talks about how CCL began as a chance for friends to hang out and "drink beer," which makes me think that those basement sessions probably involved consumption of mass quantities like in the old days.

Funny, but only in the traditional bluegrass world would signing a record contract and getting noticed mean sobering up and putting on a tie, while "getting back to your roots" would involve picking up the bottle.

2. Super Bowl Report:

Tom Petty. Exactly when did he become Chuck Norris?

tom_chuck.jpg

3. David Allen Coe update!

According to Broward County New Times music blogger Micheal J. Mooney, even though he's 68 years old and has his beard braided into red, white and blue strands, David Allen Coe can still kick Kid Rock's ass. Mooney says his Jan. 26 appearance at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale included a cover of Rock's treacle-fest "Only God Knows Why" that was "exponentially better than anything Kid Rock ever did or anything he ever will do." Of course, that's not exactly saying much.

dac.jpgBut still.

He adds that the Coe show brought out "lots of Harley riders, lots of rebel flags, lots of camouflage baseball hats, plenty of yuppies in polos, plenty of frat boys in flip-flops." In other words, a typical Saturday night in Florida. Coe, of course, is famous Down South for getting banned from Billy Bob's Texas for 20 years for performing his "satire" song "Nigger Fucker." Oh yeah, and for boasting he taught Charles Manson how play guitar in prison. Yep, DAC is the whole package. Whatever you think of bikers and racists, no one knows his way around a country tune, real or in jest, like he does.

Mooney says "it was good to see him walking around cognizant, sober and ready to play the goose-bump-giving, tear-jerking outlaw country only a handful of cowboys can still crank out (the others being maybe Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Billy Joe Shaver and Jerry Jeff Walker). He went from song to song like a chain smoker lighting each cigarette from the previous butt. His entire set was essentially one long medley. He threw in heavy-metal-ish covers of all the country gods: Johnny, Willie, Waylon and Merle."

David Allen Coe. God bless the drunk, fun lovin' criminal in all of us.

*

What else is rattlin' 'round Don's Root Cellar? A lot of great stuff!

Posted by Don Jacobson at 6:05 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2008

The Weekend Desk Report

We'll keep our eyes on the news. You just concentrate on getting that friggin' Air Supply Burger ad out of your head once and for all.

Market Update
President Bush this week acknowledged some "troubling signs," but refused to discuss an economic recession. So to clarify:
Economy = Troubled, but not recessed
Britney = Troubled, but not depressed
Amy = Troubled, but not a mess

Back to Crack
Speaking of Amy Winehouse, she has apparently captured the attention of EPA deputy administrator Marcus Peacock. While expressing concern and frustration for the singer's well-documented decline, Peacock also noted that sometimes pumping things full of poison is exactly what causes such great works of beauty. Suffer for your art, right?

Anagram of the Week
MAYOR OF DETROIT = A MORE DIRTY FOOT

French Dip
French President Nicolas Sarkozy chose the perfect time to tie the knot with his girlfriend of three months. After all, it's hardly the biggest shotgun wedding of the week.

Prop Bet of the Week
We're offering 5/1 odds that Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason will eventually become the same person.

Super Blue Sunday
You know, sometimes there's not a whole lot we can add.

Pay It Forward
Finally, we'd like to thank venerable Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter for writing a couple of weeks' worth of column for us. We could use the vacation.

*

Programming Note: Steve Rhodes will appear on Fox Chicago Sunday (Fox-32, 7:30 a.m.) to discuss a few of the local races up for grabs in Tuesday's primary.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:12 AM | Permalink

February 1, 2008

The [Friday] Papers

1. "If we raise $10,000,000,000, we will give it to The City of Chicago if they will build a weather-shielding dome over our fair city."

From The Chicago Winter Dome Project.

2. My Super Bowl prediction.

3. Do we now have to drink every time Barack Obama mentions Ted Kennedy?

And more, in Mystery Debate Theater 2008!

4. Seriously, last night's Democratic debate in Los Angeles was fantastic. And not just because our very own Tim Willette demanded that each candidate explain what they'll do after their health care plan fails to pass Congress.

"This may have been the most edifying presidential debate in modern American history. It was a pleasure to watch these two candidates removed from the pettiness of ordinary politics. Maybe that's to the credit of Obama's rhetoric, even though he's been as petty and divisive as anyone in this campaign," I wrote in our analysis.

"Hillary Clinton showed that she is clearly more shrewd and in command of policy than Obama. Obama showed that he has a more charismatic presentation. He's the car salesman, she's the mechanic. It depends on what you want out of your president."

5. "I agree with the buzz," Greg Couch writes in the Sun-Times. "The Mets get Santana, the best pitcher in baseball, and the Cubs get a 100-year anniversary . . . when people ask whether Cubs fans believe in curses, I hope they'll say this: I believe in Johan Santana."

6. White people vote for race, too. (Last letter)

7. "Originally, [Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene] Moore says, Mayor Daley pledged to endorse him," Mick Dumke reports in the Reader. "'He called me at [my] office,' Moore says. 'I went to his office, because I'd never been to his office. I was elated that the mayor called. And he told me he was supporting me.'

"The mayor backed out for one reason, according to Moore: [challenger Ald. Ed] Smith agreed to vote for Daley's 2008 budget, including hundreds of millions of dollars in tax hikes. 'He sold his own community down the drain for a few piees of silver,' Moore says."

8. Ald. Berny Stone calls Daley's version of why he is opposing the alderman's re-election bid for ward committeeman "absolute bullshit," the Sun-Times reports.

"I'm ashamed of him," Stone told Fran Spielman. "I really am. I didn't like the real estate tax increase and I'm not a phony. I told him upfront. He asked me not to speak on it and I kept my word. Apparently, he doesn't. He told me he'd stay out of the committeeman's race and he didn't."

9. "Joe Hosey of the Sun-Times Media Group's Joliet Herald News has parlayed his coverage of Drew Peterson into a book deal," Phil Rosenthal reports in the Tribune. (Low in column)

"Publishers Weekly has pegged the value of Hosey's deal at six figures."

And I'm sure he'll exercise the good taste to give that all away to charity; he wouldn't want to profit so handsomely off the exploited tragedy of another, right?

10. How weird is it that those paid to know are always the last to know?

11. Beachwood reader Garry Jaffe writes: "When I saw the headline of Sneed's column on Thursday - 'Over and Out Bye! Bye!' - I thought, she taking the buyout! Good riddance!

"Damn, it was just about Guiliani's campaign bus!

"More seriously, if the third item about the cost of the death penalty is accurate, it shouldn't have been buried in her column, it should have been the lead on the front page."

12. "Under the deal between the Park District and the Park Grill, the restaurant gets to skip paying the minimum annual rent of $275,000 until investors recover half of the $4.2 million they spent on construction," the Sun-Times reports.

"In the wake of the Sun-Times investigation, city officials said they would renegotiate the terms of the Park Grill's deal. It's three years later now, and that hasn't happened."

13. Lost in Obama's Caroline Kennedy moment is the fact that three of Robert F. Kennedy's kids have endorsed Hillary Clinton.

14. Host: "The Associated Press reports that former Senator John Edwards is expected to suspend his presidential bid later today. On the line with us is Joe Miller, the AP reporter who's been on the ground with the Edwards campaign since the start. Joe, what's your take on Edwards's anticipated announcement?

Miller: "Well, Chris, during the campaign, I really thought Sen. Edwards was overemphasizing the populism theme - the poverty, the 'two Americas' message, all that stuff. But now that I'm about to be out of work, I have to say it makes perfect sense. In fact, I can't believe all that crap I wrote about class warfare - I really thought management would take care of me once we finished the guy off."

- Tim Willette

15. "I'm too young to have been there, but apparently the sex-addicted son of a Neville Chamberlain sympathizer gave America the sense of national possibility it needed to get into the Vietnam War, leave a bunch of Cuban exiles for dead as part of the worst coup attempt ever, run to the brink of nuclear apocalypse, and help install the Baath party as the ruling party of Iraq," Whet Moser writes at Chicagoland. "Oh, and we sent people to the moon, that was awesome.

"The Kennedys certainly have some admirably progressive initiatives to their credit, particularly in the fields of social justice, immigration, and civil rights, but the continuing lionization of the family, particularly JFK, is unnerving. For a brutally honest take on the phenomenon by a progressive Catholic, I highly recommend Garry Wills' The Kennedy Imprisonment."

16. John "Stat of the Week" Dewan's expert Super Bowl prediction.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Kennedyesque.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

Mystery Debate Theater 2008

Once again, the Beachwood Mystery Debate Theater team gathered at Beachwood HQ to deride and bemoan debating candidates for president. Instead, we enjoyed a real treat of a debate. But that doesn't mean we didn't find a lot of things to pick on.

Andrew Kingsford arrived late as you will note with his own special tribute to the dearly departed John Edwards, while an ailing Tim Willette e-mailed in his comments from his sickbed. Steve Rhodes hosted.

As always, this transcript has been edited for clarity, space and sanity.

*

WOLF BLITZER, CNN: Let's begin with Senator Obama.

OBAMA: First of all want to acknowledge a candidate who left the race this week, John Edwards . . .

STEVE: Like John, I was born in a mill.

TIM: I want to thank John Edwards for helping build this stage. He's up there in the rigging tonight.

BLITZER: Senator Clinton?

CLINTON: I'm very grateful for the extraordinary service of John and Elizabeth Edwards.

STEVE: Why no shout-outs to the Dodds?

*

DOYLE MCMANUS, L.A. TIMES: Senator Clinton, your two campaigns have been going on for more than a year now and it's clear that the two of you have had different experiences in your lives.

STEVE: Though you both married black people.

MCMANUS: But when most voters look at the two of you, they don't see a lot of daylight between you on policy. So what I'd like to ask is: what do you consider the most important policy distinction between the two of you?

STEVE: Great question.

CLINTON: Well, I want to start by saying that whatever differences there are among us . . .

STEVE: Pale in comparison to the differences we have with the Republicans.

CLINTON: . . . pale in comparison to the differences that we have with Republicans.

TIM: Did you hear that? Pale in comparison - eh? eh?

CLINTON: But we do have differences and let me mention a couple.

STEVE: Health care mandates.

CLINTON: First, on health care . . .

*

CLINTON: I think when it comes to how we approach foreign affairs, in particular, I believe that we've got to be realistic and optimistic . . .

TIM: Realistic and optimistic - I like to think of myself as a roptimist.

CLINTON: . . . And I think that we've got to have a full diplomatic effort, but I don't think the president should put the prestige of the presidency on the line in the first year to have meetings with out preconditions with five of the worst dictators in the world.

*

OBAMA: My view is that the reason people don't have health care . . .

STEVE: Is because people can't afford it. We get it.

*

OBAMA: On the mortgage crisis, again, we both believe that this is a critical problem.

STEVE: Take the home I bought with Tony . . .

OBAMA: Part of the reason we are in this mortgage mess is because there's been complete lack of oversight on the part of the Bush administration.

STEVE: You might say he's been boneheaded.

*

OBAMA: I have not signed on to the notion of an interest rates freeze, and the reason is not because we need to protect the banks. The problem is, is that if we have such a freeze, mortgage interest rates will go up across the board and you will have a lot of people who are currently trying to get mortgages who will actually have more of a difficult time.

TIM: Why not just rename the interest rate 10 and make that louder?


*

OBAMA: And I have disagreed with Senator Clinton on, for example, meeting with Iran.

STEVE: Right. Ahmadinejad just has to be reasoned with. Christ, you can't even reason with Rod Blagojevich!

*

JEANNE CUMMINGS, POLITICO: You both mentioned that health care is a priority for your party, but the truth is that most Democrats really do want full coverage, everybody covered.

Now, Senator Obama, this is a question for you. Under your plan, which is voluntary, it creates incentives for people to buy, but still is voluntary. There would be about 15 million people who would still not be covered.

Now, why is your plan superior to hers?

OBAMA: Every expert who looks at it says anybody who wants health care will be able to get health care under my plan.

STEVE: Except the experts who say they won't.

OBAMA: So the estimate is that there are 15 million people who don't want health care. Now, first of all, I dispute that there are 15 million people out there who don't want it.

STEVE: They want to die.

OBAMA: I know that those who have looked at it understand, you can mandate it, but there's still going to be people who can't afford it. And if they cannot afford it, then the question is, what are you going to do about it?

STEVE: That's the point of the subsidies, premium caps and tax credits. You do whatever you have to to make it affordable.

TIM: Sen. Obama, this health care question is for you - at this very moment, Tim is very congested and running a medium fever . . .

CLINTON: Contrary to the description that Barack just gave, we actually will make it affordable for everyone, because my plan lowers costs aggressively, which is important for us all; improves quality for everyone, which is essential. And the way it covers all of those who wish to participate in the congressional plan is that it will provide subsidies, and it will also cap premiums, something that is really important, because we want to make sure that it is affordable for all.

We cannot get to universal health care, which I believe is both a core Democratic value and imperative for our country, if we don't do one of three things. Either you can have a single payer system, or - which, I know, a lot of people favor, but for many reasons, is difficult to achieve. Or, you can mandate employers. Well, that's also very controversial. Or, you can do what I am proposing, which is to have shared responsibility.

Now, in Barack's plan, he very clearly says he will mandate that parents get health insurance for their children. So it's not that he is against mandatory provisions, it's that he doesn't think it would be politically acceptable to require that for everyone.

I just disagree with that. I think we as Democrats have to be willing to fight for universal health care.

And what I've concluded, when I was looking at this - because I got the same kind of advice, which was, it's controversial, you'll run into all of this buzz saw, and I said, been there, done that. But if you don't start by saying, you're going to achieve universal health care, you will be nibbled to death.

STEVE: In other words, Obama is giving away a negotiating chit before the game's begun.

CLINTON: I think it's imperative that we recognize what both John Edwards and I did, that you have to bite this bullet. You have to say, yes, we are going to try to get universal health care.

*

BLITZER: Senator Obama, let me just fine-tune the question, because I know you want to respond.

On this issue of mandates, those who don't, whether it's 10 million or 15 million, those who could afford it but don't wind up buying health insurance for one reason or another, they wind up getting sick, they go to an emergency room, all of us wind up paying for their health care. That's the biggest criticism that's been leveled at your plan.

OBAMA: If people are gaming the system, there are ways we can address that. By, for example, making them pay some of the back premiums for not having gotten it in the first place.

STEVE: We'll put Dog Chapman on the case.

OBAMA: But the last point I want to make has to do with how we're going to actually get this plan done. You know, Ted Kennedy . . .

STEVE: Here we go with Ted Kennedy . . . does he qualify as a special interest?

OBAMA: . . . said that he is confident that we will get universal health care with me as president, and he's been working on it longer than I think about than anybody.

But he's gone through 12 of these plans, and each time they have failed. And part of the reason, I think, that they have failed is we have not been able to bring Democrats, Republicans together to get it done.

TIM: I'd like you each to explain what you'll do after your health care plan fails to pass Congress.

OBAMA: That's what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are.

TIM: Oh, YES! They can let people call in and comment on the deliberations!

STEVE: What if C-SPAN doesn't want to broadcast it?

TIM: We'll mandate coverage.

*

BLITZER: Senator Clinton, we remember in '93, when you were formulating your health care plan, it was done in secret.

CLINTON: Well, it was an effort to try to begin this conversation, which we're now continuing. It has been a difficult conversation. There have been a lot of efforts.

It is so important that, as Democrats, we carry the banner of universal health care. The health insurance industry is very clever and extremely well-funded.

I know this. I had $300 million of incoming advertising and attacks during our efforts back in '93 and '94. And one of the reasons why I've designed the plan that I have put forward now is because I learned a lot about what people want, what people are willing to accept, and how we get the political process to work.

TIM: I've learned a lot about how to cope with a plan that goes nowhere.

*

CLINTON: And, certainly, it is important that the president come up with the plan, but we'll have to persuade Congress to put all of those deliberations on C-SPAN. Now, I think we might be able to do that, but that's a little heavier lift than what the president is going to propose, because what happens is we have to have a coalition.

And I think the plan that I have proposed is if you take business, which pays the costs and wants to get those costs down, take labor that has to negotiate over health care instead of wages, take doctors, nurses, hospitals who want to get back into the business of taking care of people instead of working for insurance companies, I think we will have a coalition that can withstand the health insurance and the drug companies.

*

CUMMINGS: This is from Kim Millman from Burnsville, Minnesota. And she says, "There's been no acknowledgement by any of the presidential candidates of the negative economic impact of immigration on the African-American community. How do you propose to address the high unemployment rates and the declining wages in the African-American community that are related to the flood of immigrant labor?"

OBAMA: Before the latest round of immigrants showed up, you had huge unemployment rates among African-American youth.

And, so, I think to suggest somehow that the problem that we're seeing in inner-city unemployment, for example, is attributable to immigrants, I think, is a case of scapegoating that I do not believe in, I do not subscribe to.

MCMANUS: Senator Clinton, Senator Obama has said that he favors allowing illegal immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses, and you oppose that idea. Why?

CLINTON: Well, let me start with the original question from Kim, because I think it deserves an answer.

I believe that in many parts of our country, because of employers who exploit undocumented workers and drive down wages, there are job losses. And I think we should be honest about that.

STEVE: She's right. It's not scapegoating. She just got the labor and working-class vote. You can't say we have to crack down on companies taking advantage of undocumented workers by lowering wages and then claim there are no job losses or wage lowering due to illegal immigration.

CLINTON: There are people who have been pushed out of jobs and factories and meat processing plants, and all kinds of settings. And I meet them.

You know, I was in Atlanta last night, and an African-American man said to me, "I used to have a lot of construction jobs, and now it just seems like the only people who get them anymore are people who are here without documentation." So, I know that what we have to do is to bring our country together to have a comprehensive immigration reform solution.

BLITZER: Senator Obama, in an interview with CNN this week, you said this. You said, quote, "I stood up for a humane and intelligent immigration policy in a way that, frankly, none of my other opponents did." What did you mean by that?

OBAMA: Well, what I meant was that, when this issue came up - not driver's licenses, but comprehensive immigration reform generally - I worked with Ted Kennedy . . .

STEVE: Do we have to drink every time he says Ted Kennedy now?

OBAMA: . . . to move this issue forward aggressively. And it's a hard political issue. Let's be honest. This is not an issue that polls well.

STEVE: He oughta know, he's got four pollsters on his payroll.

(BLITZER: Are you suggesting that Senator Clinton's policy was not, in your words, "humane"?

OBAMA: That is - what I said was that we have to stand up for these issues when it's tough, and that's what I've done.

BLITZER: Was she lacking on that front?

OBAMA: Wolf, you keep on trying to push on this issue.

BLITZER: I'm just trying to find out what you mean.

OBAMA: There are those who were opposed to this issue, and there have been those who have flipped on the issue and have run away from the issue. This wasn't directed particularly at Senator Clinton. But the fact of the matter is I have stood up consistently on this issue.

BLITZER: I want to let Senator Clinton respond. Were you missing in action when Senator Obama and Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy started formulating comprehensive immigration reform?

CLINTON: Well, actually, I co-sponsored comprehensive immigration reform in 2004 before Barack came to the Senate.

*

BLITZER: Very quickly, Senator, why not, then, if you're that passionate about it, let them get driver's licenses?

CLINTON: Well, we disagree on this. I do not think that it is either appropriate to give a driver's license to someone who is here undocumented, putting them, frankly, at risk, because that is clear evidence that they are not here legally, and I believe it is a diversion from what should be the focus at creating a political coalition with the courage to stand up and change the immigration system.

OBAMA: The only point I would make is Senator Clinton gave a number of different answers over the course of six weeks on this issue, and that did appear political.

CLINTON: Well . . .

OBAMA: I'm just being - just in fairness. Initially, in a debate, you said you were for it. Then you said you were against it. And the only reason I bring that up is to underscore the fact that this is a difficult political issue.

CLINTON: Well, I just have to correct the record for one second, because, obviously, we do agree about the need to have comprehensive immigration reform.

And if I recall, about a week after I said that I would try to support my governor, although I didn't agree with it personally, you were asked the same question and could not answer it. So this is a difficult issue.

(APPLAUSE)

STEVE: Let the record show Obama is nodding his head and gesturing in acknowledgement.

CLINTON: And both of us have to recognize that it is not something that we easily come to, because we share a lot of the same values.

OBAMA: I agree.

*

OBAMA: You know, I have spent my entire adult life trying to bring about change in this country. I started off as a community organizer, working on the streets of Chicago, providing job training and after- school programs and economic development for neighborhoods that have been devastated by steel plants that had closed.

I worked as a civil rights attorney, turning down lucrative corporate jobs to provide justice for those who had been denied on the job on at the ballot box.

I worked as a state legislator for years, providing health care to people who did not have it, reforming a death penalty system that was broken, providing tax relief to those who needed it.

And in the United States Senate, I worked on everything from nuclear proliferation to issues of alternative energy.

And in each instance, what I found is that the leadership that's needed is the ability to bring people together, who otherwise don't see anything in common. The ability to overcome the special interests. And I passed both in Washington in Illinois comprehensive ethics reform that opened up government so that the American people could be involved. And talking straight to the American people about how we're going to solve these problems, and putting in the hard work of negotiations to get stuff done.

So I respect Senator Clinton's record. I think it's a terrific record. But I also believe that the skills that I have are the ones that are needed right now to move the country forward.

CLINTON: And I really spent a great deal of my early adulthood, you know, bringing people together to help solve the problems of those who were without a voice and were certainly powerless.

I was honored to be appointed by President Carter to the Legal Services Corporation, which I chaired, and we grew that corporation from 100 million to 300 million. It is the primary vehicle by which people are given access to our courts when they have civil problems that need to be taken care of.

You know, I've run projects that provided aid for prisoners in prisons. I helped to reform the education system in Arkansas and expand rural health care. And I've had a lot of varied experiences, both in the private sector, as well as the public, and the not-for- profit sector.

And certainly during the eight years that I was privileged to be in the White House, I had a great deal of responsibility that was given to me to not only work on domestic issues, like health care - and when we weren't successful on universal health care, I just turned around and said, well, we're going to get the Children's Health Insurance Program. And I'm so proud we do, because now six million children around the country every month get health care. And I took on the drug companies to make sure that they would test drugs to see if they were safe and effective for our kids.

And began to change the adoption and foster care system. Here in California, because of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, we have three times more children being adopted out of foster care.

And certainly the work that I was able to do around the world, going to more than 82 countries, negotiating with governments like Macedonia to open their border again, to let Kosovar refugees in. Speaking on behalf of women's rights as human rights in Beijing, to send a message across the world that this is critical of who we are as Americans.

And to go to the Senate and to begin to work across the party lines with people who honestly never thought they would work with me. But I believe public service is a trust. And I get up every day trying to make change in people's lives.

And today we have 20,000 National Guard and Reserve members in California who have access to health care because I teamed up with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to get that done. Really positive change in people's lives, in real ways, that I am very proud of.

*

CUMMINGS: Howard Meyerson of Pasadena, California, says he views the country as a very large business, and neither one of you have ever run a business [like, say, Mitt Romney]. So, why should either of you be elected to be CEO of the country?

CLINTON: Well, I would, with all due respect, say that the United States government is much more than a business. It is a trust.

And with all due respect, we have a president who basically ran as the CEO, MBA president, and look what we got. I am not too happy about the results.

OBAMA: Let me just also point out that, you know, Mitt Romney hasn't gotten a very good return on his investment during this presidential campaign.

STEVE: They're both on fire. This is a very good night for Democrats.

*

Andrew shows up with a Poor Boy sandwich from 7-11 and a six-pack of Pilsner Urquell.

STEVE: Is that Poor Boy in honor of John Edwards? Was that sandwich born in a mill? Is it the cause of your life?

*

MCMANUS: Senator Clinton, you've both called for a gradual withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, but Senator Obama says he wants all combat troops out within 16 months of his inauguration and you haven't offered a specific end date.

Why shouldn't voters worry that your position could turn into an open-ended commitment?

CLINTON: Well, because, Doyle, I've been very clear in saying that I will begin to withdraw troops in 60 days. I believe that it will take me one to two brigades a month, depending on how many troops we have there, and that nearly all of them should be out within a year.

It is imperative, though, that we actually plan and execute this right. And you may remember last spring, I got into quite a back-and- forth with the Pentagon, because I was concerned they were not planning for withdrawal, because that was contrary to their strategy, or their stated position.

So I've said that I will ask the Joint Chiefs and the secretary of defense and my security advisers the very first day I'm president, to begin to draw up such a plan so that we can withdraw.

BLITZER: But you can't make a commitment, though, that 16 months after your inauguration would be enough time?

CLINTON: I certainly hope it will be, and I said I hope to have nearly all of them out within a year.

OBAMA: I do think it is important for us to set a date. And the reason I think it is important is because if we are going to send a signal to the Iraqis that we are serious, and prompt the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds to actually come together and negotiate, they have to have clarity about how serious we are.

*

CUMMINGS: This comes from Howard Schumann from Phippsburg, Maine. And he asks, "Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, you could have voted for the Levin amendment which required President Bush to report to Congress about the U.N. inspection before taking military action. Why did you vote against that amendment?"

CLINTON: The reason is because, although I believe strongly that we needed to put inspectors in, that was the underlying reason why I at least voted to give President Bush the authority, put those inspectors in, let them do their work, figure out what is there and what isn't there.

The way that amendment was drafted suggested that the United States would subordinate whatever our judgment might be going forward to the United Nations Security Council. I don't think that was a good precedent. Therefore, I voted against it.

I did vote with Senator Byrd to limit the authority that was being given to President Bush to one year, and that also was not approved.

You know, I've said many times if I had known then what I know now, I never would have given President Bush the authority. It was a sincere vote based on my assessment at the time and what I believed he would do with the authority he was given.

OBAMA: You know, Senator Clinton mentioned the issue of gravitas and judgment. I think it is much easier for us to have the argument, when we have a nominee who says, I always thought this was a bad idea, this was a bad strategy.

It was not just a problem of execution. I mean, they screwed up the execution of it in all sorts of ways. And I think even Senator McCain has acknowledged that.

The question is: Can we make an argument that this was a conceptually flawed mission, from the start?

BLITZER: Senator Clinton, you always say, if you knew then what you know now, you wouldn't have voted like that. But why can't you just say right now that that vote was a mistake?

CLINTON: The idea of putting inspectors back in - that was a credible idea. I believe in coercive diplomacy. I think that you try to figure out how to move bad actors in a direction that you prefer in order to avoid more dire consequences.

And if you took it on the face of it and if you took it on the basis of what we hoped would happen with the inspectors going in, that in and of itself was a policy that we've used before.

STEVE: Yes, if you took it on the face of it.

CLINTON: I think what no one could have fully appreciated is how obsessed this president was with this particular mission.

STEVE: We fully appreciated it! And we're in this tiny apartment in Wicker Park!

BLITZER: So, what I hear you saying - and correct me if I'm wrong - is that you were naive in trusting President Bush?

CLINTON: No, that's not what you heard me say.

STEVE: That's kind of what I heard.

BLITZER: Was she naive, Senator Obama?

CLINTON: Well, let me - you asked the question to me. I - you know, I deserve to answer.

BLITZER: I thought you weren't going to.

CLINTON: You know, the point is that I certainly respect Senator Obama making his speech in 2002 against the war. And then when it came to the Senate, we've had the same policy because we were both confronting the same reality of trying to deal with the consequences of George Bush's action.

I believe that it is abundantly clear that the case that was outlined on behalf of going to the resolution - not going to war, but going to the resolution - was a credible case. I was told personally by the White House that they would use the resolution to put the inspectors in.

STEVE: So you were fooled by the White House.

OBAMA: I don't want to belabor this, because I know we're running out of time and I'm sure you guys want to move on to some other stuff . . .

STEVE: Like Tony Rezko.

OBAMA: But I I think everybody, the day after that vote was taken, understood this was a vote potentially to go to war.

STEVE: Not even potentially.

*

BLITZER: This will be the last question. It will go to both of you, to Senator Obama first.

The more I speak to Democrats out there - not only the Democrats here at the Kodak Theatre, but all over the country - they take a look at the two of you and they see potentially a dream ticket. A dream ticket for the White House.

STEVE: She'd have to be on top. Er, that's not the way I meant it. Then he could learn how to be president.

OBAMA: We've got a lot more road to travel. And so I think it's premature for either of us to start speculating about vice presidents, et cetera. I think it would be premature and presumptuous.

BLITZER: All right. What about, Senator Clinton, what do you think about a Clinton/Obama, Obama/Clinton ticket?

CLINTON: Well, I have to agree with everything Barack just said.

STEVE: It would be a dream ticket. You would get a majority of the women's vote, nearly every black vote, Latinos and white liberals. Talk about a governing majority. Oh, and the youth vote.

-

Beachwood Analysis
This may have been the most edifying presidential debate in modern American history. It was a pleasure to watch these two candidates removed from the pettiness of ordinary politics. Maybe that's to the credit of Obama's rhetoric, even though he's been as petty and divisive as anyone in this campaign.

Hillary Clinton showed that she is clearly more shrewd and in command of policy than Obama. Obama showed that he has a more charismatic presentation. He's the car salesman, she's the mechanic. It depends on what you want out of your president.

Because I'm a substance guy, I'll give the edge to Clinton. But mostly this was a huge win for the Democrats on the heels of the McCain-Romney bitchfest the night before. These were adults in the room respecting voters for the first time, well, maybe ever in my life.

-

Catch up with every episode of Mystery Debate Theater!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: If You Love Something, Tell It Off

IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING, TELL IT OFF

If you love
something,

tell it
off (and then

set it
free).

Whatever
you decide,

don't
wonder.

-

J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:02 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Our Aretha.
TV - Tribune: Sinclair Blew Sure Thing.
POLITICS - Dems Fake FCC Oversight.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Trying To Prove God Exists.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Foxconn Flooding Alert.


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