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DEAR PARENT . . . Letters have gone out to parents of 1,000 or so incoming Air Force Academy students telling them sexual attackers and their facilitators and cover-providers "will be brought to justice and disciplined appropriately." Lest mothers and fathers hesitate to send daughters into a bad situation, apparently.
CHICAGO LIVE: BLACK ALDERMEN CAUCUS . . . . Chicago Alderman Thomas Murphy tried four years ago to get into the black aldermanic caucus, thinking he belonged there because his ward was 90% black. No soap, said the black caucus. He has more black constituents than some of the black aldermen, but the caucus apparently is a club for blacks and not for those who represent black citizens. Two black aldermen, both women, have decided he belongs, however, after he won reelection with 81% of his ward's vote a few weeks ago. they will be "perceived as bigots," said the two.
None of them will talk about it, even the more garrulous among them. Murphy says it's up to them, he's not asking again as he did four years ago. He won every precinct in his ward, against three opponents. His constituents like him, but so far his black colleagues don't want him in their group, which means the caucus exists for the aldermen, not for the constituents. "He's not black, is he?" one of the blacks said, which for her settled it.
TELEPHONE TAG . . . Somebody said somewhere recently that the best place to hide information is in the middle of a long NY Times article, preferably on the jump page. Or, I ask, in a similar article in Chi Trib? Such as today's about favor-seekers appearing in a list compiled by a mover and shaker for the Illinois secretary of state office when it was headed by immediate-past Gov. George Ryan, of blanket-clemency fame. More revealing by far was the Sun-Times coverage, which loads two pages with faces, names, and favors received.
In the same spirit of full disclosure, my friend Jake (not his real name) has found (or been given: he won't say) some top-secret tapes of telephone conversations (by caller of caller, leaving the sec. out of it) between favor-seekers and then Sec. of State Ryan. He leaked a transcript to me, exclusive. Item-maven Sneed won't even know about it, he said, adding that he would not lie to me. He actually asked, "Would I lie to you?" I made a quick calculation, weighing that against the scoop factor, and did not come up empty. Here's when a prominent Loop lawyer called:
"Hey George! Jim Thompson here. . . . Fine, you? Your family? . . . Good. Listen. George. You've met Samantha. . . . Yes. . . . Good kid, but I'm prejudiced. . . . Typical father, right. George. Samantha's in the job market this summer. . . . Yes, sophomore, doing well. . . . Say no more? I won't. . . . What's that number? . . . Got it. Thanks, George, and listen. Keep up the good work. Next thing you know, you'll be sitting where I sat. . . . I know I sat there a long time. Heck, you could be sitting there even longer. . . . No, I'm not kidding. . . . You're welcome. Thanks, George. Later."
I am staying after Jake, who claims he has more. We'll see. (2003-01-31)
BOOK . . . Wit is always welcome, of course, even the cutting kind if it's neatly done -- how do we say, rapier-like? Quick horizontal move and the candle is in two pieces, otherwise undisturbed, with the wick still burning brightly. Like Tyrone Power's Zorro did it. Which brings me if not you to Ann Coulter, whose Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right (Crown) has sold extremely well. No, she's not invited to our Oak Park parties, nor, I read, is she attending the parties she is invited to this season, being hard at work on another, maybe a sequel.
Coulter has a way with a phrase. Her syndicated column of December 18, about the Trent Lott affair, began, "I'M JUST GLAD Strom Thurmond isn't around to see this," which is wickedly funny, and if you don't like where you think I'm headed, skip to the next part.
Her Slander has an obvious theme. In its early pages, where I am resting at the moment, she argues that liberals never make an argument when they can call a name. In pursuit of which she makes this apparently outrageous but still wickedly funny comment: "Often short on details, the classic liberal response to a principled conservative argument is to accuse Republicans of planning a second holocaust." (p. 8)
Funny, but cheap shot, yes? Not if the quotes she has lined up are accurate (and they are thoroughly footnoted).:
* The MSNBC show host says special prosecutor Ken Starr reminds him of Heinrich Himmler.
* Jesse Jackson Sr. "in an upbeat message" on British television on Christmas Day, 1994, with characteristic nicety compares conservatism to German "fascism."
* Reps. Charles Rangel and Major Owens liken Republicans' "Contract with America" to Nazism; Owens gets specific: Republicans were "practicing genocide with a smile" and were "worse than Hitler."
* Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D.-Colo.) accuses opponents of Clinton's nominee for surgeon general of "goose-stepping over women's rights," specifying Rush Limbaugh's listeners as "goose-stepping."
NEWSPAPER . . . Sun-Times columnist (and co-reviewer with Ebert on TV) Richard Roeper has no use for Coulter, by the way. In Sunday's paper (12/29/02) he listed her among the year's cultural catastrophes, candidates for his most unsubtle Greatly Overexposed and Overhyped Fool (GOOF) Award, with Michael Jackson, swinger of infant over balcony railing, Winona Ryder, who got probation for her Xmas present, and others.
In typical understated fashion, Roeper lets Coulter off lightly with this elegant characterization: "She's a mean-spirited, fact-bending, loudmouthed harridan whose hatred of liberals is breathtakingly obsessive, and she'd be a serious contender for this year's GOOF if she wasn't considered to be such a joke by so many people. If you're a decent, mature, reasonable conservative, this woman must make you cringe."
The hand you see raised in the back is mine. I am definitely decent, mature, and reasonable and happily faced up to my long-smouldering conservatism a few years back, and I, Mr. Richard Roeper, obviously do not cringe at the sight and sound of this woman!
TRENT, WE HARDLY KNEW YE . . . In our heart we know Lott was kidding. We also know there are things you don't kid about. (In any case, the advice for Lott's wife is: Don't look back.)
He got carried away. He has said it before (wishing Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948), but he hasn't been saying it every day, only when he gets carried away.
You can't do that. You have to remember who's listening. It's part of what makes a successful pol or salesman or school principal or husband or wife or whatever. He forgot who was listening.
It's true. You can't get away with some things even if your record is working-spotless, that is, for all practical purposes spotless, which is what counts unless you're a philosopher.
Doesn't matter. As the people's choice or the choice as leader of people's choices from as many states as have Republican senators, he can't sound bad. Not that bad anyhow.
GIVE 'EM HELL, DUBYA (11/9/02). . . Thomas Roeser in 11/9/02 Sun-Times likens GW Bush to Harry Truman. He may be the first to do so. It fits. Bush speaks in "blunt" terms, says Roeser (untutored, ungracious, say tenured radicals) and has "Truman's crisp, gutsy approach that communicates decisiveness."
In the election he "not only [made] his case, but acted as party organizer-in-chief," repeatedly telling people to get out and vote, said Roeser.
As for non-running Gov. Geo. Ryan, Illinois Republicans' chief disorganizer, he not only has indictment hanging over his head for how he ran his Sec. of State office, etc. (not mentioned by Roeser), but reneged on a bunch of promises and took "trips to Cuba that defied the policies of his party's president," which is at least a good debating point.
The defeated Jim Ryan has also himself to blame, said Roeser, who says defeated senatorial candidate Jim Durkin, who ran "a creditable and graceful campaign," is the man to lead Illinois Republicans in and out of these dark days.
WHERE THE NEWS FITS . . . All in all, Roeser rises as columnist and political commentator in the Chicago newspaper firmament. So buy the Saturday Sun-Times for 35 cents or tune in at http://www.suntimes.com/index/ for its latest.
For that matter, tune in to www.chicagotribune.com for its latest, saving yourself (a) nickels and dimes, not to be despised in our wartime economy and (b) the blast-in-the-face tastlessness of daily-paper hype-and-tripe. Above all, remember you heard it here. Thank you for your patience.
THE PARTY SPEAKS . . . Let us consider this email message from a major political party, giving new expression to the saw about hope springing eternal:
Dear Jim Bowman,
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Time and again, the . . . Party asked for your help in the 2002 elections. And time and time again, you responded. [Not true] . . . Here's what you helped us accomplish:
[We] won 10 governor's mansions . . . including [opposition] strongholds Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming.
We took big states like Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan . . . putting us in great shape [!] for 2004.
We made a real difference in close races like Tim Johnson's re-election to the Senate in South Dakota [where Pine Ridge reservation ballots were late but generous], Janet Napolitano's win as Arizona Governor, and Mark Pryor's defeat of Senator Tim Hutchinson in Arkansas [who had left wife, married staffer].
We continued our outreach into every area and every community in America, building the coalitions we'll need for victory in 2004.
But there were disappointments . . . We lost seats in the House and the Senate. [Nice ambiguity here; can be read "lost seats in the Senate" when the word is they lost the whole darn senate, unless I missed something.] Even so, America is still . . . evenly split. Out of . . . nearly 79 million votes cast nationwide, a shift of just 41,000 votes would have kept the Senate in Democratic hands. [Yes, like two years ago in Florida. Thus bounces ball, crumbles cookie. But wait. UPI added the votes up and found a 52.8%-47.2% aggregate GOP advantage, up from no advantage presidentially in 2000 and a mere 1.2% advantage in House elections in 2000. Emailed message continued:]
That means we need to work even harder to stop the [opposition's] extremist right-wing agenda. [The one that just won the election for them.]
With your help, the . . . Party will continue to work to strengthen the economy, fully fund our schools, protect Social Security, provide a real Medicare prescription drug plan, protect the environment, safeguard a woman's right to choose [schools for her kids? NOT], and [LAST BUT NOT LEAST] keep our homeland strong and secure. [Whew, almost forgot that, even if it is widely considered what won it for the other party.]
Next week, we'll send you additional information about the 2002 election, and what it means for 2004.
The battle for the future of our country has begun [begun?], and we're glad that you're part of our team.
Thank you again.
[Hey, no problem.]
Paid for and authorized by the . . . National Committee. To unsubscribe . . . please reply to this message with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
[Never. I love your stuff.]
VOTE! . . . . Universal [crappy] health care coming to Oregon? This from V.-for very-Dion Haynes in Chi Trib 9/15) It's on the ballot for November.
EVOLUTION . . . "Western civilization is more tightly feudal and mercantilist than ever . . . and every liberal mind can see the rightness of the reasoning that has redefined liberty into a jungle of laws and hindrances," says J. Barzun, in his Critical Questions (U. of Chi Press, 1982), on the evolution of the welfare state, typically reporting what's happened or rendering an arresting assessment.
MONUMENTAL MISTAKE . . . . Another thing noted caustically by Jake (and by Manhattan Institute's City Journal, which deserves credit too): they are making a park and monument out of the World Trade Center ruins, celebrating us as victims -- which means the m-f---ers won, he expostulates, because they got rid of the capitalistic symbol. Why do we let them do that? he asks. Instead, we should build two more towers, bigger and more capitalistic than the first two, he says.
MY FAULT . . . . Jake also would like to know why National Urban League researchers are not embarrassed to report so few Afr-Am CPAs in its report on Black America? (AP 7/22, in Sun-Times) In an age of rampant racial preference, grade inflation, and widespread zest for diversity among professional and business entities, he expostulates, there are still fewer than 1% black CPAs?
As bad as he feels about this, he finds himself wondering if it is really his fault. Should he have done more to encourage black men and women to take that dratted CPA exam, with its infernal requisite burning of midnight oil until a drowsy numbness overtakes the senses? He knows he is supposed to turn such thoughts over and over, so he does, several times, and (sick!) lets it go at that.