The [Thursday] Papers
"Message control has emerged as a dominant theme in the first two months of Emanuel's reign," the Tribune reports. "The mayor is trying to burn an image into the public's mind that he's the new guy in charge, is hard at work and has the guts to make the difficult decisions.
"Emanuel, who holds a master's in communications from Northwestern University and arguably earned a Ph.D. in political spin working for the Clinton and Obama White Houses, is employing a slew of tactics, some well-worn, to shape the city's perception of him . . .
"But Emanuel has taken it to a level new for Chicago as his aides stage events and push certain story lines. Sometimes the details tell a different story than the one Emanuel offers."
See also: Reading Rahm: Master Media Manipulator.
"It was a difficult decision, but Amy and I decided to perpetuate the two-tiered education system in our country that is particularly distinguished by distinctions in race and class.
"And when you think about it, it's pretty clear that I don't like public schools. I've attacked their teachers and promoted corporate institutions known as 'charters' which weed out the undesirables whom I pretend to represent.
"I mean, I wish the public schools were better and there's no question that one part of making them so is for the city's best and brightest to enroll their kids in CPS and offer that parental involvement we all like to talk about so much. It would benefit our kids to be around kids from a diverse set of socioeconomic backgrounds - and let's face it, that might be more valuable to building a better America than making sure my kids are set up for lucrative careers, especially because they already are - and it would benefit other people's kids. We could all work together.
"But I'm not gonna be the first one to jump. And neither are my rich pals. My kids are not a social experiment. Therefore, I'm sending them to the Lab School."
But Mount Greenwood is very anchored.
Should the debt ceiling be raised?
I don't know, and chances are you don't either.
But that hasn't stopped many of you - and others across the land - from repeating the talking points of your party without having an original thought of your own.
And as I show in the link above - and many others have shown already - those talking points were reversed when George W. Bush was president. That marks the vast majority of those arguing with unbridled passion as fools.
Are Republicans "holding the country hostage?"
Only if you're a wimpy liberal. After all, the Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate. Two out of three ain't bad.
Seems to me the Republicans - whose positions in this case I mostly disagree with - are doing something our president is incapable of: Driving a hard bargain.
Has the debt ceiling been raised umpteen times before? Yes. But when George W. Bush was president, Democrats (including an eloquent Obama) said enough was enough and unanimously voted against it. Steny Hoyer, now the second-highest ranking Democrat in the House, said to do so was "immoral." Senate majority leader Harry Reid was also against it. Nobody was quoting Ronald Reagan then.
My instinct is towards raising the debt ceiling - it seems inevitable, doesn't it? - but it's also toward demanding a better plan than the White House has put forward for the economy. Something a bit more cohesive; something with vision.
Except that it's really too late for that.
Obama had his moment and he blew it - with a big assist from Rahm Emanuel. The stimulus bill (and secondarily, the bailouts), largely designed by the man who is now our mayor, was a chance to begin changing America. Instead, we got a crappy bill with too many tax breaks, too much pork, and not enough job creation. It may have saved us from an even worse economic scenario, but it didn't do much to help us get better.
And then Obama moved on.
The rest is just details.
"The final death count was over 700 - there was no way of getting an exact figure. A few critics blasted the Daley administration for its response to the crisis, or ComEd for the widespread power outages. But most Chicagoans were satisfied just to have cooler weather."
Yes, who cares about the dead people, at least it's cooled down!
A few critics? Name them.
"In 1995 there were no uniform standards for determining a 'heat-related death,' so officials had to develop them. Edmund Donoghue, Cook County's chief medical examiner, used state-of-the-art criteria to report 465 heat-related deaths for the heat wave week and 521 heat deaths for the month of July.
"But Mayor Richard M. Daley challenged these findings. 'It's hot,' the mayor told the media. 'But let's not blow it out of proportion . . . Every day people die of natural causes. You cannot claim that everybody who has died in the last eight or nine days dies of heat. Then everybody in the summer that dies will die of heat.'
"Many local journalists shared Daley's skepticism, and before long the city was mired in a callous debate over whether the so-called heat deaths were - to use the term that recurred at the time - 'really real.'
"Medical examiners around the country confirmed that Donoghue's heat-related death criteria were scientifically sound and endorsed his findings. But perhaps the best measure of heat deaths comes from another figure - the 'excess death' rate - which counts the difference between the reported deaths and the typical deaths for a given time period. According to this measure, 739 Chicagoans above the norm died during the week of 14 to 20 July - which means that Donoghue had been conservative in his accounts.
"Daley's skepticism had a big impact on the public debate, and it still does. Today if you ask Chicagoans about the heat wave they will likely tell you that not all the deaths were 'really real.' That's a direct legacy of the politics of the disaster."
"The heat disaster was a collective failure, and the search for scapegoats - whether the mayor, the media, or the medical system - is just a distraction from the real issues.
"Yet there is no question that the city government did not do everything it could to prevent the catastrophe.
"The city failed to implement its own heat emergency plan, waiting until Saturday, July 15, after hundreds of bodies had already been delivered to the county morgue, to declare an official emergency.
"The Fire Department refused its paramedics' requests to call in more staff and secure more ambulances, thereby assuring continued delays in its emergency health response.
"The Police Department did not use its senior units to attend to the elderly residents they were supposed to protect.
"And since there was no system to monitor the hospital bypass situation, at one point eighteen hospitals were simultaneously refusing new emergency patients.
"The city also aggressively used its tremendous public relations apparatus to first deny there was a disaster and then to define the disaster as natural and unpreventable."
And with that, we've arrived at where we started: Message control.
In this case, it was deadly. If the mayor says there isn't an emergency, city departments can hardly respond as if there is.
Carl's Cubs Mailbag
The Beachwood Tip Line: Ticklish.
Posted on July 21, 2011
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