Today's Chicago Tribune editorial, "How do you spell futility? FEMA," rightly condemns the estimated $1.4 billion in Hurricane Katrina relief funds that were wasted on items such as "jewelry, Caribbean vacations, pro football tickets, pornographic videos, divorce lawyer fees and a sex-change operation." It points out that Government Accountability Office auditors say that almost one in every six dollars targeted for aid ended up in the hands of swindlers.
The Tribune fails to mention that one possible reason for fraud was harsh criticism that FEMA wasn't dishing out the bucks fast enough.
An example of that was a September 8, 2005 Tribune editorial titled "When governments fail citizens." The editorial noted: "The initial federal response, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was a tangle of red tape." Moreover, it stated that help was delayed "while FEMA bureaucrats dither(ed) over paperwork."
Included on today's Chicago Tribune's front page is the article "Hillary." In it, national correspondent Lisa Anderson speculates on the possibility of Senator Clinton transferring her apparent popularity in New York State to the 2008 presidential election.
One of the people interviewed is the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. He points out: "19 percent (of those polled) think, right now, that she's doing a poor job. The Hillary-haters are still there. The people who were willing to give her a chance, she won over."
Also quoted is a Baruch College professor who states: "There's going to be an irreducible number of Hillary-haters, no matter what she does. Whether she changes water into wine or parts the Red Sea, they ain't voting for her."
Prosecutors believe they have DNA evidence to tie a third Duke lacrosse player to the alleged attack on a 27-year-old exotic dancer, news outlets in Durham reported Thursday.
The local ABC affiliate, citing sources, reported that the third player is the same person who was identified with "90 percent" certainty by the alleged victim in a photo lineup. That lineup was conducted by police weeks after the March 13 off-campus lacrosse team party where the alleged incident took place.
Saturday's Chicago Tribune includes a front page story titled, "The Bill they can't stomach: Voting Clinton's boyhood home a historic site too much for these 12 angry lawmakers." The article, written by senior correspondent William Neikirk, doesn't support the headline.
Yes, twelve Republican congressmen did vote against a bill, which passed with 409 votes, to name the former president's birthplace a national historic site. But characterizing them as "angry" isn't justified, at least not by anything appearing in the article. The closest thing to "angry" was a comment made by one opponent of the Clinton site that, "Maybe it should be a landmark. He is only the second president to be impeached." But that ranks pretty far down on the anger scale.
Writing in today's Chicago Tribune, author and former Tribune political writer Jon Margolis begins his "Tribal America defends right to ignore facts" by flatly asserting: "The flap over intelligent design poses a special quandary for us Americans. Our puzzlement has nothing to do with the merits of the intelligent design argument. There are none."
Having established where he's coming from, Margolis then moves on to criticize rock celebrity Ted Nugent for criticizing actress Pam Anderson: "Aha! An object for the anger, the artificially enhanced TV star who has supported People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal-rights group that opposes hunting." Three sentences later, Margolis states that "there is no visible anti-hunting movement."
As Harry Belafonte proclaimed at Duke University that American policies were based on "the demise of the poor," and Sen. Barack Obama declared on ABC that the GOP has "a very narrow agenda that advantages the most powerful," what about their own cozy fortunes?
Laura Ingraham noted today a report from the Wall Street Journal. Belafonte’s suffering from declining millionaire real-estate values:
Belafonte Cuts His Price
ENTERTAINER Harry Belafonte last month cut the price of his Manhattan apartment by $2 million, to $13 million. The Upper West Side co-operative, which he's owned for more than 40 years, went on the market last August. The 17-room home, facing Riverside Park on the western edge of Manhattan, has seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a library and four fireplaces.
Last September Mr. Belafonte, 78, sold his Mediterranean-style house in the Caribbean for $2.2 million. He bought that 3.3-acre property, in the French-administered part of St. Martin, in 1982. It has four bedrooms, gardener and caretaker cottages and a pool. Maria Pascal and Richard Mortimer of Prudential Douglas Elliman have the Manhattan listing. The price cut comes as the Manhattan real-estate market is showing signs of cooling...
Okay, please take this with a grain of Cheesehead salt, but um, I have a reason why conservatives could root for the Carolina Panthers against those dreaded Chicago Bears today. Bears QB Kyle Orton? Big liberal. In the midst of some research into the weird absence of the words "Kerry" and "Hillary" within 50 words of each other in the fall of 2004, I came across this USA Today piece, where an Orton teammate at Purdue related, "He said that if John Kerry doesn't get elected, he's going to throw himself headlong into the Hillary Clinton camp." The report had more detail:
Now he understands that Orton's success on the football field could one day be seen as the introduction of an ambitious liberal democrat to a larger audience.
In today's front page story on Bobby Rush, "Pastor Rush stirs hope, skeptics in Englewood," the Chicago Tribune describes the Illinois Democrat as a "former militant Black Panther turned mainstream Democratic congressman."
One wonders what the Tribune considers mainstream.
Rush's voting record in Congress, as measured by assorted special interest groups, reflects little in the way of moderation. In their most recent evaluations, for example, the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League awarded him a 100 percent rating. The National Taxpayers Union gave him a puny 11 percent while Americans for Tax Reform ranked him at 10 percent.
Getting a 100 percent rating from the American Civil Liberties Union, the AFL-CIO, Americans for Democratic Action, and the National Education Association, Rush received a zero percent rating from the American Conservative Union and the National Rifle Association, and 10 percent rankings from both the American Security Council and Citizens Against Government Waste.
Picking up where we left off, here are the judges' picks for worst Quote of the Year during the Slick Willie era.
Onward, Christian Mouth-Breathers, 1993: "Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." -- Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf, February 1 news story.
Hurray, Grown Men Can Weep, 1994: "Around the global village, women cheered and grown men wept. At his press conference, [Gold medal-winning speed skater Dan] Jansen paused to take a call from the President, the man who's made America safe again for tears." -- Newsweek Senior Writer David A. Kaplan, February 28 news story.
Today's Chicago Tribune notes that Kwanzaa was created "by African-American scholar Maulana Karenga." A check of the Tribune's own archives discloses that he could have been characterized somewhat differently.
On October 7, 1970 the newspaper reported: "Black militant Ron Karenga was arrested with three of his followers today on charges he tortured two young women with a soldering iron and a vise. . .Investigators said the women were held at gunpoint, forced to disrobe and were beaten. At one point, it was charged, Karenga forced a hot soldering iron inside the mouth of one of the victims while the other woman's toe was squeezed in a vise."
Today's Chicago Tribune story on a group protesting Republican Congressional efforts to curb social spending identifies Rev. Jim Wallis as a "Christian activist." The article reports he is a leader of "a Christian social justice group" and speaks of "Wallis and other progressive religious leaders."
It would be more accurate to describe Wallis as an activist liberal Democrat. He's long been a force within the Democratic party and, as noted in the Weekly Standard, has a " 35-year history of effectively pacifist, anti-capitalist, pro-socialist positions. With the exception of abortion and family values, the political issues that animate him today are the direct descendants of those that launched him into a career of activism back in his student days, when he and his friends were being tear-gassed protesting U.S. involvement in Vietnam, in the heyday of the New Left."
Today's Chicago Tribune carried a New York Times News Service article on the passing of Eugene J. McCarthy. The story notes: "As a senator, Mr. McCarthy was an unabashed liberal unafraid to take on Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) and his alarmist warnings about the communist menace."
No doubt Senator Eugene McCarthy was an unabashed liberal on many issues. And it's very likely that he, at a minimum, questioned Senator Joe McCarthy's anti-Communist crusade. But, as a senator, he most certainly didn't "take on Sen. Joseph McCarthy."
Don't miss my latest writing for the Free Market Project: Media claims about a “housing bubble” are nothing new. Since before the 9/11 terror attacks, the media have been calling the housing market a “bubble” while predicting an imminent, devastating decline. Not only have they been wrong in forecasting such a top, they have thoroughly mischaracterized what an investment bubble is. Now that the market for homes has finally slowed a bit, the media are declaring the bubble has burst.
A Bubble?: Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has denied the existence of a national housing bubble for several years, but the media have used the term repeatedly.
Strong Gains: The increase in real estate values the past five years has not resembled the rapid rise typically seen in a bubble. In 2000, the national median existing-home value was $139,000. This grew to $215,900 by the third quarter of 2005 – a 55-percent nominal increase but a 34-percent inflation-adjusted gain.
Home Sales Still Going Up: New home sales jumped another 13 percent in October. While sales of existing homes were down 2.7 percent from September, the median national price rose to $218,000, a 16.6 percent increase since October 2004.
The American media are giving President Bush low marks and mixed reviews regarding his just ended trip to China. Here are some of today’s headlines:
Bush’s China Visit Fails To Narrow Differences (Reuters via Boston Globe)
China Mostly Aloof to U.S. Priorities (Chicago Tribune)
U.S., China Seem to be Worlds Apart (Newsday)
Bush Skirts Rights Issue (LA Times)
CBS’s “Early Show” this morning began its segment on this issue: “The president is getting mixed reviews for his Asia trip after little was accomplished in his meetings with China.”
Yet, the Chinese media were much more positive about Bush’s trip. For example, People’s Daily Online offered the following headline, “Media: Bush's China visit sends "positive signal" to China-US relations.” It conveniently gave a recap of opinions being expressed by other newspapers and websites with links:
Sunday is a day of worship. So today’s Chicago Tribune devoted more than 50 paragraphs to venerating Illinois Senator Barack Obama.
In the front page “Obama's national appeal rallies an army of backers,” correspondent Jeff Zeleny details how popular the junior senator is among the rich and famous. Warren Buffett is a fan and has contributed to Obama’s political action committee, as have Hollywood’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen and Steven Spielberg.
The opposition from the religious right faced by the fictional Republican presidential candidate on NBC's The West Wing, symbolizes for Jim Warren, the former Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Tribune who is now a Deputy Managing Editor for the paper, how real-life conservatives, upset over the Harriet Miers pick, will never be satisfied. On Tuesday's Hardball on MSNBC, Warren admired how the fictional drama's Alan Alda character “confronts a top Christian Right official who insists on a public pledge that Alan Alda, if elected President, will only pick anti-abortion judges to the federal court. And Alan Alda, seeing the world as much more complicated, declines to do that.” Warren asked and answered his own question: “Why is that relevant? I think it's relevant because just like Bill Clinton could never satisfy his left, it seems that Bush can never satisfy a group for whom he has cut taxes, delivered Saddam Hussein on a platter, done what they want on late term abortion and stem cell research, come out against gay marriage and picked a whole lot of conservative judges.”
Full transcript of his proposition, and the West Wing scene, follows.
Even though the big news event this week was the president’s nomination of Harriet Miers to replace retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, NBC’s Chris Matthews this morning, on a show that bears his name, chose to lead with Karl Rove’s upcoming testimony in front of a grand jury. To assist him, Matthews stocked his panel with the likes of Andrea Mitchell, Clarence Page, Judy Woodruff, and a lone “conservative” voice, Howard Fineman.
Of course, when Howard is the sole “right-wing” member of a panel, you’re certainly not going to get a fair and balanced discussion on any issue. As a result, what ensued was quite a Rove bash-a-thon, with dire prognostications of what the meaning of this fourth appearance in front of the grand jury could mean for Rove as well as the Bush administration.
Mark Silva, national correspondent who covers the White House for the Chicago Tribune, essentially wrote a 750-worded epithet titled "Hard Times Wear on Bush," that sounded more in sync with the giving of "last rites" than what a national news correspondent would write.
Reporting about Bush's first formal news conference since May 31, Silva opens this way: "Stepping out from the Oval Office on an overcast morning, President Bush appeared browbeaten. He sounded wistful about his party's political fortunes and even his own."
"Browbeaten" and "wistful" being not nearly enough for Mr. Silva, he continues to pile-on with more negativity from events that have nothing to do with what the president called this formal news conference for, namely to talk about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers:
Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page capped off the PBS NewsHour yesterday with a commentary on wedge issues in politics, particularly the supposed use of the race card by Republicans in President Nixon's "Southern Strategy.". Page congratulated Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman for publicly renouncing the "Southern Strategy" earlier this year in an apology given to the NAACP, but he closed his commentary hinting that the GOP is all too ready to make gays the next wedge issue:
Mehlman's outreach to black or Latino audiences is aimed just as much at the wider and whiter audience of moderate suburban swing voters that both parties covet. Just as Bill Clinton had to show he was not in the hip pocket of civil rights leaders, Mehlman wants to show that his party is not hostile to them. The suburban swing voters that both parties desire want to see a kinder, gentler and less-polarizing Republican Party. In that sense, the old southern strategy was replaced in 2004 by a new red-state strategy that divided the country against even smaller minorities, like homosexuals who want to get married.
Apologies can't change the past. Apologies are about the future. In today's racial and ethnic demographics, neither party can build a true majority on wedge issues alone -- or at least not with the same old wedge issues. I'm Clarence Page.
PBS, spending your tax dollars on insulting the American voter for approving marriage protection initiatives by large margins in 11 different states, including Kerry states like Michigan and Oregon.