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The [Friday] Papers

Far more interesting at this point than the wholly-expected convictions in the City Hall hiring fraud trial is the looming question of just how far the continuing investigation will go.

In other words, should the mayor take advantage of early-bird booking rates and reserve a room right now in the federal pokey?

At any rate, we'll deal with the trial fallout in Politics, with a column up there shortly.

UPDATE 10:54 A.M. FRIDAY: "Shortly" may have been overly optimistic. I have a business meeting to get to, so I may not get our trial fallout up until later today. I'm pretty sure it will be worth the wait. Apologies.

Bush League
Memo to reporters: Just because the president tells a few lame, pre-scripted jokes, you are not under any legal obligation to print them. This is not North Korea.

So when George W. Bush said last night that Laura asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and that his reply was "I said I want to have dinner in Chicago with the mayor," the proper response is to roll your eyes, not put it in the paper.

And when Bush says "I hope Roger Ebert does well," the proper response is, "Gee, Mr. President, which of his reviews is your favorite? An Inconvenient Truth? United 93? Fahrenheit 911? Or is it his liberal views you appreciate most, like when he called your daughter a "yob," or the interview he gave to The Progressive in which he bemoaned the fact that you think God speaks to you personally and approves the war in Iraq, even though the Pope sent an emissary to you saying God, in fact, did not approve of the war?"

Perhaps that follow-up will be asked at the press conference Bush is holding today, which will include members of the local media.

Here are a few more questions for the president:

1. Did you talk to Mayor Daley about the verdicts in the Robert Sorich trial? Why not? Doesn't the ongoing corruption in the Daley Administration bother you? I mean, he is one of your favorite mayors, right? Are you for or against patronage? Do you think your Justice Department went too far prosecuting this case?

2. What about George Ryan, the Republican governor now awaiting sentencing for turning the state of Illinois into a criminal enterprise? Any thoughts?

3. Please assess the governorship of Rod Blagojevich.

4. Well, after all, you are here to raise money for Judy Baar Topinka. Why do you think she should be the next governor of Illinois? Do you support her platform? You do? Can you tell us what it is, then? Because we're still in the dark.

Thank you for speaking so directly to the American people, Mr. President.

Roger & Us
Without Ebert, who is recovering from emergency surgery, I skipped the Sun-Times movie section today. I always skip the Tribune movie section.

Babbling Brooks
As John Kass points out, David Brooks is an idiot. But we'll get to that on Sunday.

Air Rage
"O'Hare, Midway Rank Last In On-Time Departures."

"Chicago's O'Hare Airport Busiest In U.S. This Year."

Connect the dots, people.

Plagiarism Police
Is "Connect the dots, people" a line Steve Rosenbloom used to use in his much-missed Hit & Run column? I wrestled with that this morning. I have also wondered if I have inadvertently copped the "So, yeah . . . " construction from him, given that I absorbed his column pretty thoroughly for a few years there. If so, apologies and props to you, Mr. Rosenbloom. We miss you. Because he's so hard to find in the Trib these days, I recommend getting your Rosenbloom fix on his new WMVP radio show with Sean Salisbury.

We're Number One
How corrupt is Illinois? I'd say thoroughly.

The former governor is going to prison for putting the state up for sale. The current governor's administration is the subject of a broad federal probe into hiring, and the governor himself has been dubbed Public Official A in an earlier investigation. The City Hall investigation continues apace. And we know the City Council is a rats nest just waiting for its next, overdue indictment.

And it doesn't end there. Just from today's papers alone:

* An influential top advisor to former House Minority Leader Lee Daniels just put his old boss in the jackpot.

* At least four of Cook County Commissioner Bobbie Steele's seven children are on the county payroll. Maybe that's why she wants to be county board president; the other three need work.

* And Anne Burke was sworn in to the state supreme court. I guess the press has lost interest in how Anne Burke got her job. Interestingly enough, it was the same way that is under investigation elsewhere: Patronage. It takes many forms, but in the end it's the same: Doing favors for your friends at the public's expense.

Curiously, the Sun-Times's gee-isn't-everything-swell report didn't mention the controversy surrounding Burke's elevation to the state's highest court. The Tribune gave it a passing and approving mention: "As has been true of many past members of the court, Burke's political connections helped her ascent."

Ho hum. Nothing to see here, folks.

The Trib then added reassuringly: "But speaking to reporters afterward, Burke pledged to be independent and not to rule on cases in which her impartiality could be questioned."

Well, if we have her assurance . . .

"I'm constantly on the lookout for any possible . . . appearance of impropriety or conflict," Burke said.

Enough! Burke's very appointment to the job is tainted with the appearance of impropriety, if not actual impropriety! Phone call for Anne Burke - it's Irony! You're due back at midnight.

If the state supreme court is packed with justices who got there largely through politics (and I don't mean elections; I mean gaming the political system, as Burke and her patron, retiring judge Mary Ann McMorrow, did), then why should we believe they aren't making their rulings on the basis of politics? It's obviously in their DNA and they think it's a proper way of doing business. Shouldn't the credibility of the entire court be in question?

As well, the Burke saga confirms again the lesson pols in Illinois have learned: The media's outrage and attention-span is limited. Do whatever you want, take the faux-heat for a day or two, and move on. Because, unless there is a federal investigation to fall back on, the media will.

Minor League Report
The Tribune put together a nice Travel section report on touring the region's minor league baseball parks that in no way resembles ours.

Demon Dan
"In 2004, I spent an afternoon sitting in on the afternoon sports talk show on ESPN Radio in Chicago, Mac, Jurko & Harry," writes blogger Rick Kaempfer, author of "The Demon of Sports Talk" in the summer issue of Lake Magazine. "At the time, there was an obvious tension in the air. That tension reared it's head again last week, when Dan McNeil (Mac) and Harry Teinowitz got into an on-air fight, causing them both to be suspended for two weeks.

"They posed for this picture just for the article, but Lake Magazine decided not to run it. That's Harry on the left, and Mac looking longingly into his eyes."

In This Week's Reporter
I can't recommend highly enough the contributions to our collection of Freedom stories of my esteemed colleagues Tim Willette, Natasha Julius, and Scott Gordon, whose work appearing this week easily bests mine. If you haven't already, please give BBQ Talking Points, Freedom Museum Exhibits We'd Like To See, 13 Anthems, and Blogging For Freedom your attention. Then forward the links to all your friends and half your enemies. And then remember that bringing you Freedom isn't free.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Just another Tip Line with nothing left to lose.


Posted on July 7, 2006

MUSIC - Pandemophenia.
TV - NBC's Bicentennial Special.
POLITICS - A New Minimum Merger Maxim.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Unless Someone Dies.

BOOKS - The Legacy Of Racism For Children.


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