Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Personal Asides:

Franks & Hinz—Todd Stroger and Ralph Martire Get Some Comeuppance…. Wait-Wait, Don’t Tell Us. You Don’t Have To—We Have Patrick Fitzgerald’s Politics Figured Out...The “Sun-Times,” Liberal, Working Class: Just Ask Roger; He’d Know…Cheryl Reed Evidently Gets Rid of Mark Steyn (for the Working Class)…Michael Miner Again Pegs Big Jim Right.

Franks & Hinz.

Usually I have one liberal and one conservative on “Shootout”…or one Republican and one Democrat. Last Sunday I had two liberals—State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) and Greg Hinz of “Crain’s Chicago Business” who as a good reporter does not have a party designation but who is an acerbic and pretty darned good independent critic of the bipartisan establishment…but, no doubt, a liberal as well. Result: while I worried that there would be only one side presented…there were two…with attacks on the Left—featuring sharp criticism for two personas, one powerful Dem politician and another philosophical big government liberal. And both did probably better than any two conservatives I could have found.

The toughest assessment of Todd Stroger as president of the Cook county board came from Hinz who agreed that Stroger was (a) incompetent, (b) lackadaisical about being held accountable because of the solidity of the bloc vote in Cook and (c) unenthusiastic about being president of the board at all but who just accepted it to please his father. Sure, I fed Hinz the choices but he enthusiastically agreed and said Stroger fit “all three of the above.” Not Jack who, I feel, needs the approbation of Stroger for his Hillary Clinton campaign.

And a searing assessment of Ralph Martire, the Op Ed contributor to the “Sun-Times” came from Franks…while Hinz demurred. Martire wrote last week that the problem for Illinois is that there has not been enough tax dollars to go around to satisfy social needs especially with regard to the pensions. Franks, chairman of a key House committee, powerfully and eloquently objected and stood up for the taxpayers. Hinz felt we have an obligation to provide the assistance the voters were informed of.

Nevertheless, it means that the candor of the show…when participants express what they really think…means that both sides are presented. Congratulations, guys for a terrific show.

Patrick Fitzgerald’s Politics.

Ever since he became U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, many people…including I…have been trying to deduce Patrick Fitzgerald’s politics. An Irishman born to a lower middle class family whose patriarch was a Catholic Manhattan apartment house doorman may mean (a) a Reaganesque Republican, blue collar, possibly pro-union but with traditional family values or (b) a hard-shelled Democrat who believes the Republican party is less interested in people than in preserving the patrimony for Wall Street and entrepreneurialism. Which is it?

Fitzgerald started off in Chicago becoming a terror to George Ryan, a turncoat liberal Republican crook…well that could mean either that he felt Ryan—a big, puffed-belly blowhard—was the worst the Republican party had to offer and cherished an inner sympathy with those who defied him…or that the prosecutor was offended by the graft which had turned the Republican party in Illinois into a receivership for graft. Then when he moved against Daley’s abuse of patronage, the view came crystal-clear that Fitzgerald was appalled at the bloated excesses of a Democratic machine in power since 1931 and inwardly wanted a change. By and large, conservatives felt he was one of them.

But all this came to an 180 screeching U-turn when Fitzgerald investigated the Valerie Plame leak. His conviction of Scooter Libby despite the fact that he knew the identity of the true leaker was all the time, seemed to make clear that he was unmoved by the patriotic selfless serving of a leader in the anti-terrorism war and wanted to Stand Tall in Georgetown. His being graded as “mediocre” by the White House—which flies in the face of his legal skills—implied that the Bush people feel he is not one of them.

On and on it goes…but Saturday I submit that the answer came where we would least expect it. Fitzgerald appeared on the NPR radio show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” taped in the Chase bank auditorium. He joked that by being on the show it was the only way he could get tickets to view it. That’s enough…we don’t have to wait any more and you don’t have to tell me. WWDTM (Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”) is the essence of a liberal, snooty, affluent, wine and brie cheese show that features snide laughing up one’s expensively cuff-linked sleeve at conservatives, traditional values and sports an upper class veneer of snobbery. A kind of self-punishing monitor of NPR (where I used to be a regular panelist under Bruce DuMont’s direction at WBEZ’s “Inside Politics”) I have yet to hear…and I mean yet to hear…a criticism of any liberal action while Bush, Cheney and the entire Republican cast are skewered to the delight…and applause…of the studio audience.

The quest is completed. Patrick Fitzgerald is a blooming species “democratus liberalas” elitist snob, superior, condescending, patronizing…Democrat in deep blue hue, probably pro-Obama with a hidden desire to STIG (Stand Tall in Georgetown). That wasn’t hard at all.. No one…and that’s no one…can listen to the snide gaffawing of the announcer and players with the liberal cheers of the crowd without turning it off—which means that we’ve finally pegged the elusive Mr. Fitzgerald. The rest of the pattern can fall into place nicely: a Catholic, personally pro-life but who like the Hynes family, the Madigans and the Daleys respects Roe v. Wade until it is repealed…reveres the Kennedy mystique…heterosexual but who supports gay rights probably one step short of gay marriage…wants more affirmative action…who feels the Iraq War was the “wrong war at the wrong time”…who worries about global warming…heedless of embryonic stem cells. There: that wasn’t tough, was it? All because of his favorite radio show. If you listen to NPR enough to have a favorite radio show…especially that elitist one…you’re not a conservative, baby.

Liberal but “Working Class”?

Just once I’d like to be able to fathom what Roger Ebert meant when he told Conrad Black that—to quote Michael Miner of “The Reader”—“he couldn’t understand why readers in a staunchly working-class town like Chicago had to choose between two Republican papers”—meaning the “Sun-Times” and the “Tribune.” I guess when you’re so far left as Roger, there is a yawning gap between a paper that has endorsed abortion and gay marriage (which it did under Black) and a paper that endorses abortion and fudges to and fro between civil unions and gay marriage, asking at the very conclusion: “who knows?”, which is the wobbly “Tribune.” Endorsing either of the major party’s presidential candidates doesn’t really tell the story. And Miner winds up his piece by saying that if Cheryl Reed, the new editorial page editor of the “Sun-Times” has any question, she should ask Roger. “He knows.”

Does he? Mike Royko did; Dan Brown does—but Roger Ebert?

God help us…and with true sympathetic deference to Roger who is fighting cancer…if he were only as good a film critic as mythology holds (which means he’d be the equal of Joe Morganstearn of the “Wall Street Journal” or have the encyclopedic tastes of Terry Teachout in film as Teachout has in the entire field of the arts)…it’d be worth asking him something…or anything…including how to position a liberal, working class paper. Liberal, eccentrically so, Roger is who has loved to go to Cannes to cover the film festivals blasting the U. S. as part of his coverage of the working class.

The horrifying answer is Ebert is not and was never particularly good at film criticism despite the inflated buzz that acclaims him a genius in that department. He has rotten taste, is uncourageous enough to forebear asking the moguls for something better to clean up their deplorable taste, is a toady of the industry for which service he got the Pulitzer prize as most others do through alignment with the prevailing leftward tide of the media with the same kind of fawning obeisance that the Nobel people gave their prize to the worst ex-president in history, Jimmy Carter. His wife, Chazz, has been notable about cashing in on special arrangements through affirmative action, convenient since she is African-American…all without a murmur from the press because she is black and he is the reigning super-white, guilt-ridden liberal.

As Miner brought up, the “Sun-Times” did endorse Todd Stroger…for which it seemingly apologized. Had the paper been truly working-class, it would have supported Tony Peraica…but the fact that Tony is pro-life would violate the canons of liberalism now, wouldn’t it?

While we’re at it…the newly designated working class newspaper has long had a liberal columnist…one of many…who writes about what is called “the Chicago way”—Tom McNamee--who replaced an eloquent, conservative truly blue-collar scribe who truly celebrated working-class in plays and columns, Mike Houlihan. McNamee yesterday defended Jeffrey and Sara Hutsell, the Deerfield “parents” whose son hosted a Homecoming Party in their basement on Oct. 18, 2006 where drinking occurred on their watch after two teens were killed. They were convicted by a jury, may serve a year each in prison and face ruinous civil suits for their negligence. But in this “working class newspaper,” McNamee thinks they have suffered too much for their negligence.

One thing about the “working class” McNamee that caught my eye in this newly-designated “working class newspaper” is a crack he made about talk radio. “But even on talk radio, where stupidity and anger go together like peanut butter and jelly,” he wrote. Typical upper crust snob. What would he know about talk radio?

Well, as it turns out, quite a bit. Years ago Brother McNamee co-chaired a talk radio show on WLS, home of the blue-collars where stupidity and anger go together like peanut butter and jelly…and struck out. “He’s just no good,” said the blue-collar station program manager to me as we watched him struggling with no calls due to his affective liberalism, “what can you do with these liberals who aren’t all that smart but think they’re smarter than the folks calling in?”

Defending the flagrantly irresolute, non-responsible high roller Deerfield parents, that’s the working class icon McNamee for you. If they expressed contrition I never heard it. I think they lied to save their skins. Didn’t their own kid testify against them?

Working class columnists for a working class newspaper? Is it the preppy wise guy New Yorker Manhattan type, Neil Steinberg, lefty on almost everything…anti-Iraq, anti-Bush, pro-abort, pro-gay rights? I don’t think so. Is it the picture of Dorian Grey…the “youthful” Richard Roeper, long in the tooth as he cruises past 40…well-past 40: the bachelor icon? Another lefty. Is it Rick Telander who mixes lefty politics in with his sports? Is it the publisher’s wife, Jennifer Hunter who tells us breathlessly how many Republicans are switching over to the Democrats without checking that they were Democrats in perpetuity and suckered when they described themselves as “anguish turn Democrats”? Is it the food editor, Sue Ontiveros, who sides with Hispanic illegals?

Working class where it’s “religion columnist” an ex-Wheaton college evangelical, a former Catholic, “covers” her topic by whooping “ding-dong the witch is dead” when Jerry Falwell expired. Real working class, that.

Some day we’re going to wake up and the uptown edition of the “National Enquirer” will be gone. What a loss for the working class of Chicago…and the wretched twosome, far worse for the city than the two crooks, Black and Radler—Cruickshank and Cooke—will be scuttling like the small furry animals trying to leave the “Titanic” in the movie of the same name—so frenetic they ran over your shoes.

Cheryl Reed: Nixing Mark Steyn for the Working Class?

The former book editor who wants to return the “Sun-Times” to its working class roots has evidently scrubbed Mark Steyn as columnist. Probably the most vivid political commentator in the press today who slugs heavily against the elites, Steyn has been missing in the “Controversy” section of the Sunday Enquirer for the past two weeks. Atta girl, Cheryl; we wouldn’t want intellectual diversity to soil the paper.

Thanks, Michael Miner…

…for pointing out in “Hot Type” for “The Reader” that the convictions of Conrad Black and David Radler did not vindicate the blowsy ex-governor Jim Thompson who snoozed while the two crooks ran away with the store at Hollinger. Miner’s summation was terrific.

His Elephantine Pomposity said on the radio that the jury had found Black and the others guilty on counts “where it was clear the non-compete transactrions were hidden from the audit committee and acquitted them on “some other counts based on transactions that went to the audit committee but with a false explanation.” In other words, says Miner, “where Black and Radler hit their scheming in plain sight in documents Thompson `skimmed’ they got off. Vindication?” Thompson implied that since the documents were filed a year or two later, it didn’t matter if he only skimmed them since it all came ou the same. “We later sued and got the money back so we were in the same position.”

Miner asked:“Does he [Thompson] think that notwithstanding the collapse of the company and notwithstanding ther millions of dollars that Hollinger has paid out in legal fees, it’s all the same to the Hollinger shareholders whether they got the millions of dollars Black and Radler siphoned off when the deals were made or years later? And what about the $50 million settlement two years ago after shareholders sued Hollinger on grounds that its board of directors had been asleep at the switch. Should Thompson take credit for that windfall?


  1. I was one of the people who questioned Jennifer Hunter's story "The Republicans are so crazy I just have to vote Democratic this year". I checked the Federal Election Commission records on the subject of her story, Mr. Ronco, and found he has not contributed any money to federal Republican candidates even though today's story claims he has. He either has not complied with federal reporting requirements or his statements are not truthful. She replied to me in an email and said "Who are you to question whether someone is a Republican or not?"

  2. "An Irishman born to a lower middle class family whose patriarch was a Catholic Manhattan apartment house doorman may mean,,,,,"
    Since I am a first cousin to Patrick ... He was born in Brooklyn NY

    Your article is twisted BTW who indicted Bin Laden ?Mr Fitzgerald
    BTW Mr Fitzgerald just goes for the law
    BTW I came from a very conservative Catholic background even if my mother was alive she would be appalled by your comments
    You are what democracy gave to America jeez

  3. Excellent piece Mr. Roeser. Most of the writers in the Sun-Times wouldn't know working class if it hit them over the head. While Reed has dropped Steyn, Betsy Hart has also been absent from the controversy section these past two weeks. They were largely the reason I read the section at all which usually features a piece from salon or some other left wing publication. Hart is of course conservative, though writes mostly about parenting and every day issues. Couldn't get more working class than that.

    Hunter has become virtually unreadable along with the rest of the paper, I am close to bailing altogether. It's hard enough to read the Trib without adding this second source of aggravation in an attempt to get local news.

  4. You make me vomit! You "love" for Scooter Libby is disgusting to say the least! Your attack on Fitzgerald for doing his job reeks of the neo-con sycophant and tody that you have become in order to be "IN" in certain circles!You have obviously sold your soul to the neo-con trojan horses. You are NO conservative! WHY?
    You have not shown one SOCIAL conservative thing that Scooter Libby has done. TOM YOU HAVE NOT SHOWN ANYTHING! All Scooter has been has been an Iraq war promoter for the rancid neo-con cabal that is in the process of destoying the Republian Party in order to push their OWN non-conservative agenda!

    Shame on you Tom! Obviously the love of the neo-con Mid-east escapades has become all important to you..... I'll bet you would even sacrifice support of anti-abortion causes to support the neo-con agenda! Well Tom your attack on Fitzgerald proves it! It is time that your name was REMOVED from being an honorary director of the Rockford Institute.

    You would probably even sacrifice the tax cuts for the neo-con agenda!

    The neo-cons and their agenda have caused the loss of the house and the senate for the Republicans! I'll bet you are quite proud of that! And you are probably proud that Scooter's big claim to fame was being counsel for Mark Rich, one of Clinton's rancid pardons.

    Tom Roeser a Conserative? No he is just another neo-con stooge! Shame on you Tom!