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The [Tuesday] Papers

"A commencement ceremony is supposed to be a joyous occasion, and it usually is," the Tribune says in an editorial this morning. "But it is also supposed to be a dignified ritual marked by a solemnity appropriate to momentous events."

Please. It is the responsibility of all graduating teenagers to mock and disrupt the pomposity of such momentous events to the cleverest of their abilities.

And if their family and friends want to blow air horns and clang cowbells, more power to 'em. It's high school graduation, not a funeral. It should be a party.

Talk Actually Is Cheap
Yet another scary terror plot becomes far less dangerous than the Fullerton-Damen-Elston intersection under further scrutiny.

Unless you're the Tribune editorial page and you're still trying to justify the Iraq War, the War on Terror, and the ridiculous hysteria of the infamous Sears Tower plotters.

"There's an instinct - a misguided one - to dismiss these kinds of alleged conspiracies, just because the co-conspirators seem, to some, hapless or ill-equipped at the moment," the Trib says.

The editorial board apparently does not believe that hapless is as hapless does. Hapless apparently can smarten up real quick.

"A plan can go from the talking stage to the action stage in a very short time," the editorial warns, citing Timothy McVeigh. No one, however, would have characterized McVeigh, an Army sergeant and gunner who won the Bronze Star in the first Gulf War, as hapless - nor having a grandiose vision. It is the mundane plots of competents that should cause us worry.

Facts Are Not Cheap
"But a reading of the criminal complaint filed by the federal authorities against the four defendants in the case - one of them remained at large yesterday - suggests a less than mature terror plan, a proposed effort longer on evil intent than on operational capability," The New York Times reports.

The news release out of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn said that "the public was never at risk," the Times notes.

"At its heart was a 63-year-old reitred airport cargo worker, Russell Defreitas, who the complaint says talked of his dreams of inflicting massive harm, but who appeared to possess little money, uncertain training and no known background in conceptualizing or planning a terror attack."

Osama bin Laden, meanwhile, is still at-large.

Barack Obama on his health care plan: "I'm committed to starting the process - everybody who wants it can buy it and it's affordable. If we have some gaps remaining, we will work on that."

Isn't that kind of where we already are?

And won't those gaps invariably belong to the neediest?

Obama re-introduces himself to the local press.

Millennium Parking
The cost of parking in the Millennium Park and Grant Park garages has just gone up, thanks to Mayor Daley's bungling that led to privatizing the garages.

General Manager Tony DePaolo of Laz Parking Chicago told the Sun-Times that "rate hikes were necessary to finance an array of garage improvements either in place or in the planning stages.

"They include everything from new signs, painting and lighting to improve patron safety to high-tech cashiering, additional parking attendants and the purchase of golf cars to speed motorists to their vehicles," Fran Spielman writes.

So all of the new additional revenue will go back into the facilities and not your pocket, Mr. DePaolo? Apparently unasked and unanswered.

"We're trying to change the culture to more patron-friendly garages," DePaolo told Spielman. "All of that costs money."

I have a feeling customers would prefer lower prices even if it meant they had to do without high-tech cashiering to more efficiently take their money.

Sprint Meet
I had a classic Seinfeld moment with Sprint last night. I'll spare you the details, but the gist of it is that I've been trying to pay my screwed-up-on-their-end bill for weeks and the phone company just isn't cooperating.

I reached a customer service rep in the finance department that does collections last night and after getting the smirking runaround, asked to speak to his supervisor. He said he would call for one on another line while we continued to talk. A supervisor never materialized, and when I asked him about this he said, "I didn't want to be on hold for four hours."

I said, "Now you know how I feel."

That's Stella!
"There was way too much cursing by the presenters and winners at the MTV Movie Awards show Sunday night. And the host, Sarah Silverman, was downright insulting with her monologue."

- Stella Foster, Sun-Times columnist

Speaker's Bureau
"TB Patient May Be Allowed Outside Room."

Line to beat him silly forms at the nurse's station.

Debate Club
Loyola University political science professor Alan Gitelson says "the early [presidential] debates do seem vacuous . . . You've got so many candidates involved and so little time for them to talk."

I disagree. I've learned a lot about the candidates in the debates so far. My dark-horse candidates Mike Huckabee and Bill Richardson have failed to impress. Seeing Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney on stage and answering questions has been illuminating, if not depressing. Watching Barack Obama to see if he's got the heft has been important. As usual, the marginalized candidates - Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and Ron Paul - speak the truth more often than not. And I think Sunday night's Democratic debate was particularly informative. Our Beachwood debate coverage shows that.

Besides, the debates are merely a supplement to various other campaign activities. These events don't work when the candidates just regurgitate their set pieces no matter the question, but I'm finding the candidates so far to be far less programmed and more in discussion mode than in previous years.

Cubs Corner
* Reports of player dissatisfaction with Lou Piniella have trickled out over the last few days.

"[H]is managing style has worn on some veteran players, many of whom spent most of the first two months trying to figure out his lineup patterns and some of whom bristle at his willingness to publicly criticize mistakes," Gordon Wittenmyer reports in the Sun-Times this morning.

"One of the biggest issues with many of the position players is a lineup that has had 46 eight-man versions through 55 games, with several veterans used to starting every day sitting for stretches or alternating depending on pitching matchups."

The Cubs' continuing problems with fundamentals begins with the kind of players Jim Hendry keeps bringing in, but the team's mental approach can't help but be disrupted by what Beachwood baseball writer Marty Gangler describes as "more lineups than the Chicago Police Department."

* Terry Boers of The Score sports radio said yesterday that there is a "concern [among some players] that Lou is just crazy. Some of them think he is crazy . . . .there is a genuine, real distaste for him."

* Even though the Cubs won again last night, Rick Morrissey's Tribune column yesterday - roundly criticized by Boers and co-host Dan Bernstein - giving the team a 10-game grace period to really see where they stand reminded me of Thomas Friedman's New York Times columns over the years citing the next six months as critical for Iraq.

* Also on The Score, Steve Stone said Carlos Zambrano was "100 percent" to blame for his fracas with Michael Barrett. On the sequence that led to Slugout in the Dugout, Stone said, it was Barrett who set up properly and Zambrano who threw the wrong pitch and crossed up his catcher. Barrett shouldn't have thrown wildly to third, but Zambrano set off the events.

Stone also said that in the dugout confrontation, Barrett wasn't pointing at the scoreboard before Zambrano lunged at him, but was pointing to infielder Mark DeRosa, who was in a position to see what pitch Barrett had called.

* Slugout in the Dugout, the phrase used by both the Tribune and Sun-Times, is not an original phrase.

* "I'm perfectly satisfied with Lou," Hendry said. "The only thing we're not happy with is our record."

But other than that, Lou's doing a great job.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Hyperlinked for your convenience.


Posted on June 5, 2007

MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
TV - Tribune-Nexstar Deal Is Bad News.
POLITICS - Big Soda Hates You.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Wright Brothers, Wrong Story!

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Bad News About Human Nature.

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