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The [Monday] Papers

"The real zoning code in Chicago is unwritten, but developers know it well," the Tribune reported on Sunday in an investigation that proves beyond a doubt how our neighborhoods have been ravaged in the last 20 years of gentrification that was neither "natural" nor well-managed. "Changes in zoning go hand in hand with contributions to aldermanic campaigns."

That might not sound like news to you, but the portrait the Tribune paints is devastating: "[A] building boom greased by millions of dollars in political donations to aldermen has remade the face of neighborhoods, changing the feel of streets where people live and work . . . Anyone driving around town has seen how the face of Chicago has been transformed: Three- and four-story condo buildings dwarf century-old workman's cottages on quiet side streets. Mini-mansions cover entire lots, their facades sticking out like crooked teeth in an otherwise uniform line of homes."

Aldermen, the paper found, "routinely [ignore] city planners who oppose out-of-scale development . . . And it's a city where advisory groups that review zoning proposals are sometimes stacked with developers and real estate agents who will profit from the projects."

The paper's investigation continues today, and is so rich with importance that I'll deal with it more tomorrow on our Politics page - including a couple criticisms that are longstanding problems with the paper's approach.

Number One
"By now, millions of weary [O'Hare] passengers may be resigned to the idea 'better late than never,' but it's unfortunate that O'Hare International Airport is the titleholder for both late and never," Jon Hilkevitch reports in the Tribune this morning. "Once the 'world's busiest airport,' O'Hare now claims 'world's most cancellations.'"

Voting Scam
"Why Wait? Vote Early!" an ad in the Sun-Times says today.

Well, I can think of plenty of reasons to wait. You might learn in the last days of a campaign, for example, that your favored candidate is an alien, or has secret ties to Scientology. (Or is that the same thing?)

I'm against early voting on two counts. First, voters are uninformed enough as it is. Let them absorb the whole of a campaign and study their choices right up to Election Day. Second, there's a certain value to the citizenry going to the polls on the same day, seeing your neighbors at the schools and fieldhouses that serve as voting centers, a certain shared civic good. Make Election Day more festive - snacks would be nice - if attracting more folks is the point. But early voting seems like one more dilution of an informed citizenry.

That's The Ticket
Obama pushed the wrong button.

Barack W. Obama
"You've got to have Christ in your life when you are running for office all the time," Obama said to churchgoers in Macon, Georgia.

Reported in the last paragraph of a 24-paragraph story.

I'm trying to decide if I'm more offended by this or Obama's comment that he would have to see Bill Clinton dance in order to determine if he was a brother.


If Mike Huckabee had said that, it would have caused a ruckus. Obama's Christian campaign brochures in South Carolina were no less offensive than Huckabee's controversial televison ad featuring a cross.

Glenn Greenwald of Salon has more, including images of the brochure.

Couch Potato
The fan won.

Worst Person of the Day
Andy Fuller, press secretary for outgoing U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller.

House of Daley
"So we were stunned by [federal judge Wayne] Andersen's ruling that he'll let a City Hall office oversee . . . City Hall's corruption-plagued hiring system," the Tribune says today in an editorial titled "Why Trust City Hall?"

Fairy Tale
Faithful Beachwood reader Tim Howe had a better line to this one than I did, so let's do this item again.

"Now, everybody can look back and say, oh, well, we didn't find the weapons," Mike Huckabee said during last night's Republican candidates' debate. "It doesn't mean they weren't there. Just because you didn't find every Easter egg didn't mean that it wasn't planted."

And just because you didn't see the Easter Bunny hide the eggs doesn't mean he doesn't exist.

Kissing Cousins
I don't know how I feel about this.

Daily Howler
The invaluable Bob Somerby gets it right again. Let's take a look:

DIONNE (1/25/08): Let's grant the Clintons their claims: The press is tougher on Hillary Clinton than it is on Barack Obama; the old, irrational Clinton hatred is alive and well in certain parts of the media; Hillary Clinton gets hit harder when she criticizes Obama than Obama does when he goes after her.

Let's further stipulate that Obama's formulation - he said Reagan 'changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not' - was guaranteed to enrage the former president. In Democratic circles, associating someone with Nixon is akin to a Roman comparing an emperor with Caligula.

None of it justifies the counterproductive behavior.

"We offer a chunk of E. J.'s piece - but it's the highlighted section we ask you to ponder. As we do, we'll suggest that you note the 'Clintonian' way E. J. brings down his rough judgment.

"Finally! Ten to fifteen years later, E. J. finally notices something about 'certain parts of the media.' Omigod! Fifteen years after the Whitewater hoaxings; fifteen years after the murder charges (later rerun on Hardball, of course); eight years after the war against Clinton's vice president (the one who's now honored all over the world); after a full year of rank gender-trashing; E. J. finally notes a few facts about 'certain parts' of his cohort! Finally! 'The press is tougher on Hillary Clinton than it is on Barack Obama,' he finally tells us; 'the old, irrational Clinton hatred is alive and well in certain parts of the media.'"

"But isn't it just like a gut-bucket coward?

"Absent-mindedly, E. J. completely forgets to tell readers which 'parts of the media' he is discussing! He doesn't tell them he means Chris Matthews (on whose show he's a regular guest); he doesn't say that he means Maureen Dowd - or perhaps the sneering, simpering [Anne] Kornblut, of his very own newspaper. Like so many others before him, E. J. simply forgets to say who he's actually talking about! And many readers will therefore think this: Surely, he must mean Fox - and Rush! He must mean the 'right-wing press corps.'"

If you've been reading Somerby, you know that Dionne surely means that, but Dionne is wrong. You can substitute any number of local commentators for the Matthews and Dowds. I bring a taste of Somerby's argument to this week's Reviewing the Reviews on Frank Rich's latest cut-and-paste job.


"I really think the evidence-free bias against the Clintons in the media borders on mental illness," says Craig Crawford, the longtime Congressional Quarterly columnist and MSNBC pundit. "I mean, we've gotten into a situation where if you try to be fair to the Clintons, if you try to be objective, if you try to say, 'Well, where's the evidence of racism in the Clinton campaign?' you're accused of being a naive shill for the Clintons.'"

Stimulus Plan
"On Friday, the Bush administration announced a package of $150 billion in tax benefits designed to encourage spending and help stimulate an economy that appears to be slowing to a crawl - and which in some parts of the country already is displaying signs of recession," the Washington Post reported.

"C'mon, another tax cut for the moneybags won't do it," our very own Tim Willette says. "I have an answer: gift cards! Send every adult a debit card with a few hundred bucks on it. Set the card to expire in three months. That would get things rolling!"

The Beachwood Tip Line: Still free!


Posted on January 28, 2008

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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