Thursday, November 13, 2008

Personal Asides: Pelosi Calls for Federal Bailout of “Sun-Times” and “Tribune”,,,Me? Plagiarizing the Dead? Subliminally Guilty as Charged.


Pelosi Asks Bailout.

WASHINGTON—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today called a federal bailout of Chicago’s two daily newspapers, the “Sun-Times” and “Tribune.” It is understood her plea has the support of the White House, particularly incoming Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. President-elect Obama reportedly will comment on the grave situation facing the two newspapers at his next briefing.

“Both daily newspapers constitute an invaluable resource to public understanding of key issues,” said the Speaker. “It would be inconceivable that Chicago would lose its newspapers because of the harsh decisions of the marketplace. `Tribune’ which also owns the ‘Los Angeles Times’ and the ‘Baltimore Sun’ has suffered weak print advertising of $121.6 million for the quarter ending Sept. 28, compared with a profit of $152.8 million a year earlier; revenue falling 11% to $1.04 billion from $1.16 billion, operating profit declining to $37 million from $217 million. This concerns us greatly in Washington.

“Concurrently the `Sun-Times’ also suffered a $160 million loss in the last quarter. Accordingly, there comes a time--as with the Big 3 automakers of Detroit--when the public interest transcends private, ill-considered marketplace decisions. The case of the newspapers in Chicago would warrant intervention by the federal government. Just as we cannot allow Detroit’s Big 3 to die, we in Washington will not stand idly by and allow Chicago’s Big 2 newspapers to shrivel up and die.

“`Tribune’—particularly as owner of the ‘Los Angeles Times’—has been a yardstick for fair and impartial journalism. Its acquisition of a few years, the ‘Times,’ stood guard against flagrant destruction of public confidence in the presidential election system by resisting demands to release a video in contravention of its earlier journalistic pledge to keep the contents secret—and moreover refused to sanction a text to be distributed which was suggested, a sleazy way to evade journalistic ethics. This allowed the public to make judgment on the presidential election untrammeled by hate-filled insinuations. This record of genuine public service and beneficent editorial page support of the `Tribune’ have compensated for the unenlightened John Kass whose columns, for some reason, the paper keeps running. But it is expected that infusion of federal funds will necessitate in staff cutbacks in the future—although that will be a matter for Mr. Sam Zell to decide.”

The Speaker added: “The ‘Sun-Times’ has long distinguished itself in public service, particularly due to the guidance of Michael Cooke, its editor who has seen to it that both sides of controversial questions are presented in exemplary fashion.”

When asked for examples of the “Sun-Times’” objectivity on political issues, she responded: “The paper has run stories about President-elect Obama fulsomely and completely. That’s one side. Then it has turned around and satisfied its obligation to cover Republican objections by assigning that party’s opinion statements to a prime journalist Mary Mitchell whose astuteness is beyond question. She has given full coverage to their evil motivations and hate-filled views—which is the other side.”

Under tentative plans for the newspaper bailout, a Board of Accommodation will be set up by the federal government to adjudicate matters involving both newspapers on news coverage and editorial positioning. Chair of the Board will be, reportedly, David Axelrod.


Eric Zorn emailed me the other day asking for my comment. This was quite refreshing, I paused to savor it: In years of writing his liberal tracts in the “Tribune”…and his blog…he never asked for my comments before.

Then I read further. One of his readers charges that my critique of rock music (see Nov. 3: “The President We Deserve”) uses many of the same words that the late Allan Bloom did in his book “The Closing of the American Mind.” Thus he wanted a comment as to whether I plagiarized the late Bloom. My first thought was surprise that any of Zorn’s blog readers…notably left-wing and fawningly pro-Obama…would be familiar with Bloom who was a social conservative—a band usually branded by Zorn and his readers as “hate-filled.”

The second was that at last I am going to be compared with some humanitarian and literary superstars—all liberals—who found themselves in the same boat: among them Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. …Stephen Ambrose…Doris Kearns Goodwin. Then—the third: a comedown. I could also be compared to Joe Biden who not only stole Neil Kinnock’s words but lifted his entire biography and applied it to himself. A possible fourth: there could be some comparison to Barack Obama’s essays from college —but alas that is not to be since they have been forbidden to the supine press including Zorn’s employer, Obama being black, you know.

Now as to the charge of plagiarism. As a longtime admirer of Bloom, I drank in his views of philosophy since they approximate those of my first Phil: 101 professor, Dr. Ernest Kilzer OSB whose views I fear I may have appropriated and even some of his language from his 1946-47 lectures. For example, he used to say “pigs is pigs!” and start a lecture with that mundane observation. I can’t recall the many dozens of times I did the same thing—WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION TO FATHER KILZER! For which I now apologize. Here is the pertinent section gratis my old notes.

“Pigs is pigs, gentlemen! Are we capable of knowing what makes a pig a pig? Or is the word `pig’ merely an arbitrary term we use to describe this particular animal which, for all we know, may one day evolve into a horse? No, `pig’ is an abstract idea, gentlemen, an abstract idea expressing the concept which describes all members of that species.

“Now `justice” is also an abstract idea. I ask you: can we know what is just and unjust? Mr. Roeser, sitting in the back row, dawdling: are some actions always unjust no matter what the subjective culpability or lack of same of the person who performs them? Answer, Mr. Roeser! You say—what? Yes, yes, yes—you HAVE been listening! Not entirely but somewhat. Yes, there is indeed an objective order according to which some acts will always be `just.’ In the same way some animals will always be members of the species we call `pigs.’ You may sit down, Mr. Roeser. Now let me ask this man in the front row, Mr. Arth: Can we really know that objective order? And going one step further, can we really know there is a God? Can we know His attributes?”

Yes, as with Father Ernest, I DID savor Bloom’s take and language on rock music and acknowledge that his language without attribution came through in the piece the day after election. Further I can say the ultimate source which gave Bloom the idea was the 1979 movie “10,” with Bo Derek. Mr. Zorn’s reader will quickly note that Ms. Derek is a Republican and announced her support of John McCain which is another thread in this story. Ergo: from Derek-to-Bloom-to-Roeser. This bears all the marks of a conservative conspiracy which Mr. Zorn will want to check out for his “Tribune” masters.

Thank you, Mr. Zorn. And when your readers have something else to allege, please write again.

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