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The [Tuesday] Papers

"A government witness testified on Monday at the trial of the Chicago businessman Antoin Rezko that Senator Barack Obama attended a party in 2004 that Mr. Rezko held to court a controversial Iraqi-born investor for a large real estate project," the New York Times reports.

This is important news in the least because Obama has insisted that he never did any favors for Rezko, yet he has now been placed at two different parties Rezko held to impress potential investors in his far-flung financial schemes - and, like with Obama's house purchase, at a time when it was widely known that Rezko was under federal investigation.

I'll have more on this later today on our Politics page and at Division Street.


Also later today, Mary Mitchell will explain how this is another example of Hillary Clinton playing the race card.

I'm not even going to link to her column today because it's heinous on about three different levels, ironic on four, and outright false on five.

Oh geez, I better give you the link. I'll utterly destroy it later.


"Maybe there are well-intentioned folks giving money to presidential candidates based on their philosophies and hopes and dreams for our country," Mark Brown writes today.

"Around here, though, people mostly give money to politicians because they want something.They want a contract. They want a job. They want a zoning change.

"Their company wants favorable treatment on a tax issue or an environmental problem. Or they just want the Legislature or City Council to leave them alone.

"The pat explanation these days is that the only expectation from those making political contributions is that they want access, meaning they want a chance to be heard in the halls of government.

"There's nothing wrong with that except for allowing their voices to be heard above the rest of us who don't make political donations."

Brown stops just short of connecting the dots. What did Tony Rezko want - and get - from Barack Obama?

Actually, I think that question has been answered, but a lot of people refuse to see.

There is a case to be made for Obama's campaign, but you can't be for change and hope without being honest. Obama's prime movers in Illinois were Tony Rezko and Emil Jones (and some would say Jeremiah Wright; he actually bothers me the least). Michelle Obama worked in the Daley administration, which Barack never challenged. And his campaign has been no less disingenuous and spun than anyone else's. Those are facts, whether Obamaphiles want to admit it or not.

But the Obama Nation is no longer a reality-based community - if it ever was.

Children's Center
The Tribune begins a series on its editorial page today exploring possible locations - other than Grant Park - for a new Children's Museum.

Maybe the Sun-Times should start a video or limerick contest.

Mother Goose
Maybe there's room on Goose Island for the Children's Museum. Because there's no longer room for the Goose Island brewery.

"Goose Island Beer Co.'s pioneering North Side brew pub, where the Chicago area's flagship craft beer was launched 20 years ago, is scheduled to close at the end of 2008, a victim of rising rents in its hip neighborhood," the Tribune reports.

Tax Returns
"Daley has disclosed his tax returns since 1979. Gov. Blagojevich has also released his tax information. Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who heads the state's third-largest government, does not make that information public."

Poll Pablum
Yet another columnist asks why they have never been polled. Have you ever won the lottery? It's a big country. I've never been called for jury duty, but I don't doubt that juries exist.

(The link is to Huffington Post; the column was also published in the Sun-Times today. Of all the material they had to choose from!)

Recall Call
The Tribune notes today that Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn's effort to pass a recall amendment is nothing new. "In 2000, he led the 'Recall Ryan' effort aimed at then-Gov. George Ryan."

And who can say he was wrong - then or now?

Blago Rebuttal
"I didn't know Pat Quinn had dinner with Stuart Levine and Tony Rezko at his house until I learned that today," said the governor, who has also insisted he wasn't following the Rezko trial because, you know, he's not a part of it.

Ode to Ebert
A.O. Scott wrote a story about Roger Ebert on Monday in the New York Times that brilliantly captured the essence of our very own living legend. The key passages:

"It is this print corpus that will sustain Mr. Ebert's reputation as one of the few authentic giants in a field in which self-importance frequently overshadows accomplishment. His writing may lack the polemical dazzle and theoretical muscle of Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris, whose names must dutifully be invoked in any consideration of American film criticism. In their heyday those two were warriors, system-builders and intellectual adventurers on a grand scale. But the plain-spoken Midwestern clarity of Mr. Ebert's prose and his genial, conversational presence on the page may, in the end, make him a more useful and reliable companion for the dedicated moviegoer.

"His criticism shows a nearly unequaled grasp of film history and technique, and formidable intellectual range, but he rarely seems to be showing off. He's just trying to tell you what he thinks, and to provoke some thought on your part about how movies work and what they can do.

"He is rarely a scold, and more frequently (perhaps too frequently) an enthusiast, and nearly always enlightening, in particular when he has brought calm good sense and moral conviction to overwrought debates about hot-button movies like Oliver Stone's JFK and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. Other critics (Ms. Kael and Mr. Sarris most famously) have spawned schools, or at least collected bands of acolytes and imitators. Mr. Ebert - do you mind if I just call him Roger from now on? - has no disciples, only friends."

Movietone News
Newspapers ditching their film (and TV) critics don't understand what makes them so valuable. Scott also writes:

"Sean P. Means, who writes for The Salt Lake Tribune, has compiled a list of 27 critics who have, over the past year or so, been downsized, laid off, bought out or otherwise subjected to a corporate logic of streamlining and syndication. Local dailies and weeklies, increasingly enfeebled links in national chains, no longer see a need to keep employees on the payroll whose job is to see movies before everyone else does and report back knowledgeably on what they've seen.

"Such attrition is hardly limited to movie reviewers, and it has more to do with the economics of newspapers than with the health of criticism as a cultural undertaking. If you spend time prowling the blogs, you may discover that the problem is not a shortage of criticism but a glut: an endless, sometimes bracing, sometimes vexing barrage of deep polemic, passionate analysis and fierce contention reflecting nearly every possible permutation of taste and sensibility."

In other words, the market for criticism is huge. Rather than using its resources and expertise to corner and organize that market, newspapers are ceding it.

The Beachwood Tip Line: A sea change.


Posted on April 15, 2008

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
POLITICS - Bank Profits Soaring.
SPORTS - Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903.

BOOKS - Dia De Los Muertos Stories.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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