Monday, January 8, 2007

Personal Asides: Lynn Sweet Says All Women are Stronger Now with Pelosi as Speaker…Ralph Martire, the Johnny One-Note of Tax Hikes…The Tribune: What’s In It for You? (Good Question).


How Sweet it is!

George Tagge, my favorite political editor…of the long-ago Chicago Tribune which knew fully what it believed until April 1, 1955 when Colonel McCormick died…was both journalist and political player who occupied one of the highest stations in Illinois—strategizing for the GOP on an equal basis with Everett Dirksen, Billy the Kid Stratton, shaping policy and trumpeting Republican success, stopping when needed to really cover the news from his own solid, unimpeachable sources. I have frequently compared Lynn Sweet, the Washington editor of the Sun-Times who doubles as Chicago political reporter to him. She’s has an equal hunger for partisanship, is hugely enthusiastic about electing her favorites but even when there’s a good story to cover that may redound against Democrats will do it because she is in love with the game (as was George).

But once in a while George would let his infectious pro-Republican enthusiasm get away from him. So enamored was he was Robert A. Taft that he once lost it and allowed himself to report that the Ohioan was exciting, charismatic, vibrant. Everybody who knew him well called him and said, “Com’on George! Were you drinking when you wrote that? You know that isn’t true! You’ve just let your enthusiasm get away from you.” He didn’t get away with it and even McCormick joshed him for it.

Nor should Ms. Sweet be allowed to get away with the notion that the election of Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker has “given all women strength.” Gushed Sweet: “Pelosi becoming speaker helps every woman with any ambition, no matter her politics or ideology.” Gee, we never saw Ms. Sweet tremble with excitement like that when Condelezza Rice became the first black woman to become (a) national security adviser and (b) secretary of state. That’s because Ms. Sweet is a Democrat before she is even a feminist, a pro-abort or liberal—who interchangeably writes commentary as well as supposed “straight” news…reaching over to the editorial page and then hop-scotching back to the news desk.

She is obviously deputized to direct the newspaper’s publicity barrage for President-to-be Obama here in concert with David Axelrod then fly back to Washington to confer with Rahm Emanuel, both her good friends and prime sources. She’s got it over Tagge, however, because the Trib would never allow George on the editorial page but kept him to the front of the paper…whereas Lynn is truly Ms. Runamok with no restraining arm on her from either editor or publisher.

Ralph Martire: Same Old…Same Old.

But at least Lynn pursues variety. One day she thrills about Pelosi, another day she blisters Republicans, yet another she writes lefty social policy following it up with lefty international affairs. You can a balanced diet on the left from her. But Ralph Martire, a regular Op Ed columnist with the Sun-Times has one pervading theme—a drumbeat for higher taxes which he writes every single week…leading me to believe that somehow the fix is in with Steve Huntley or the bosses above him with this guy. Com’on, what is it that Martire has not said before?

Why is this hack allowed to spew his propaganda at the paper drawing $150 a column which says essentially the same thing each and every week when he already earns money for pushing tax hikes with his liberal spending-bund office? Is it not outrageous that a paid lobbyist for higher taxes gets paid double for his work—once by his big labor, big education sponsors and once again by the Sun-Times? It would be like, in the old days, I’d send in stories extolling the benefits of oatmeal which the paper would print and send me my $150 while at the same time I was drawing pay from Quaker Oats. No difference. Only the team of Cruickshank and Huntley would be able to give the reason and they’re not talking. Nor is any other so-called “media” critic in this town.

The Blah Tribune Editorials.

Dry goods was usually contained in packing crates stored in the back of warehouses where employees could rustle them up whenever a customer asked. Dry goods in this town today is the exclusive property of the Tribune editorial board which churns out boring, two-sided, on-one-hand-then-the-other treatises which make one’s eyelids grow heavy before the third graph. They give a nod to the left and a nod to the right. To the left: Keith Ellison got sworn in as a Congressman by using Thomas Jefferson’s Koran which means his faith is not any less American than anyone else’s. Uh-huh.

To the unintelligible center: There is a baby boomer countdown in that their coming retirements will cause some financial difficulties. People have ignored it in the past. “Happy New Year. The countdown is on.” Wow! That’s a hard-hitting expression of views, isn’t it?

Also to the unintelligible center: Gov. Blagojevich collected $234,000 in contributions from people doing business with the state; Judy Baar Topinka took in $79,000. There’s a bill, H. B. 1 which would set a $25,000 limit after which those who contributed more could not be retained by their recipients of their generosity. The hard-hitting conclusion: “Will House Bill 1 ever be called for a vote? Millions of us will be watching.” Wow—such passion, such verve, such feeling.

Finally a conclusion that evokes no strong feeling because it’s a clichéd truism. Bush is talking about increasing our troop level in Iraq. Conclusion: “If Bush is to sell his mission, it must be guided by one fact: Only the Iraqis can put an end to the violence.” That conclusion makes your hair stand on end, doesn’t it?

The typical Trib editorial says (a) such-and-such may well happen; (b) on the other hand, it may not; (c) if it does happen, this could well be the result; (d) if it doesn’t happen, the opposite could easily occur…thus (e) it will be interesting to see what does happen because no matter what (f) we are certainly living in interesting times.

All this from a newspaper whose latest slogan is “The Chicago Tribune: What’s in it for You?” If I were the paper’s management, I wouldn’t keep asking readers this question. Readers are steadily giving their answer without having to be reminded of editorial sophistry by an expensive marketing program.

1 comment:

  1. Martire's most recent column is nothing more than a re-write of his December column. Mike Van Winkle and I wrote a response piece to Martire's last column, for the State Journal Register:

    "Part of [Martire's] argument was the preposterous claim that “Cutting spending won’t solve the problem” and that “the ongoing state deficits are caused primarily by revenue shortcomings, not wasteful or profligate spending.” As proof, he cites Illinois as a “low-spending (42nd) and low-tax (48th) state, despite being fifth most populous.”

    At the very least, Martire’s claim deserves a significant qualification. According to the Tax Foundation, Illinois ranks 36th in the nation in state government spending. But once local government spending is factored in, we climb all the way to 21st.

    As for our tax burden, Census Bureau data tell us Illinois has the 13th highest per capita state and local tax burden in the country. As a percentage of personal income, Illinois’ taxes are the 19th highest, up from 32nd in 2000!"

    I know a lot of conservatives, including Tom, like to hammer away at Martire for his obvious biases. However, I have bigger gripes.

    Martire, as well as the state's newspaper men, should be allowed their leftist views. And they should be allowed to bring their ideas to the table. But attempting to forge a consensus around blatant lies, by time and again citing false statistics and non sequiturs, is despicable. And that's exactly what Martire does; he was at it again this week:

    "The facts should dispel any notion that public services in Illinois are “lofty.” The state consistently ranks as one of the 10 lowest-spending in the nation - despite having the fifth-greatest economy and fifth-largest population."

    Tenth lowest? Just last month he said we were the 42nd highest. Granted, both are patently untrue, but where is he getting his figures from?

    As if his factual errors weren't enough, Martire has repetedly made analytical errors in presenting his phantom figures. In both pieces, alongside his bogus spending figures, he has cited the fact that Illinois is the fifth most populous state, as if to contrast our size with our spending. But, what does being the fifth (or tenth or twentieth) largest state have to do with a per capita measure of spending? Nothing.

    One could go on. But why bother? Just remember, figures don't lie. But liars can figure.