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The [Wednesday] Papers

Editor's Note: Thursday's column will be delayed due to faulty Internet service. We'll post it as soon as we can.

"Former White House official I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby told a grand jury in 2004 that Vice President Dick Cheney was upset by an ambassador's public questioning of the Iraq war and that President Bush, Cheney and Libby were involved in a plan -- kept secret from other senior White House officials -- to leak previously classified intelligence to reporters to counter the criticism," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Libby's audiotape testimony, played for jurors in federal court here, offered new details about how the White House orchestrated a campaign to discredit the Iraq war critic, former envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV. Wilson's wife, undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, was subsequently exposed in the media, triggering a criminal investigation."

Will a correction and apology be forthcoming from Sun-Times editorial page editor Steve Huntley, who wrote recently that the Plame leak was merely "a casual disclosure, resulting from the daily give and take between government officials and journalists that is as common in Washington as the capital's steamy summers."

Once again, I point you as well to similar silliness by Robert Novak, David Broder, and Jack Fuller.

Are they ever right about anything?

Step 1-A
"Rehab Excuse Getting To Be An Addiction."

Maybe the Sun-Times ought to use it.

Step 2
Sun-Times columnist Cindy Richards' reason No. 2 for why she is supporting Obama:

"His relative inexperience is a red herring. If George W. Bush can run a country, anyone can."

Um, I think the Obama supporters ought to think about what they're saying when they trot this one out.

"The president doesn't have to be a hands-on manager, just a great leader."

Um, yes, the president can leave the managing to everyone else. Just like George W. Bush does.

Total failure to understand the job of the president. Somehow being leader of the free world is infinitely less complex than quarterbacking the Chicago Bears. Or editing a crappy newspaper.

Richards' No. 1 reason, by the way, is "He can get the cash."Her No. 4 reason is that he's running on a platform of hope. Hope for what, though? That someday we'll have a politics that isn't so dependent on cash? And from whom is Obama getting that cash?

Yes, talk about audacity.

Daley Dose
"Daley's TV ads a 'modest buy.'"

Comes with a free print version.

Daley's TV ad touts "Test scores at 12-year high. Dropout rates at 12-year low."

But Daley has been mayor for 17 years. So test scores are still lower than when he took office, and dropout rates are still higher?

Oops, I forgot. It's not Fran Spielman's job to vet the mayor's ads, just to repeat them.

The Tribune also has Daley campaign news, but from an almost opposite angle: a story about how the mayor is essentially running a private campaign. We, the public, are not invited.

"The mayor insists he's been plenty busy with the campaign," Gary Washburn reports.

Daley told the Tribune's editorial board last week, in an event at which we were also not invited, that "I had three different events last night,I have four or five tomorrow . . . I am busy breakfast, lunch and dinner. I do different events. I do a lot of coffees."

He also told the board, though, that he doesn't announce his events publicly. Meaning the press is kept in the dark.

"That is how I campaign," he said. "That is how my style is. I don't go around with a lot of publicity."

Except for those television ads - and campaign arm Fran Spielman.

"Daley boasts, with some validity, that he is the most accessible public official around," Washburn continues.

Well, not around exactly. He boasts he's the most accessible public official in the country. And there's no validity to that. Ever hear of that guy, what's his name, John McCain? He's a senator or something. I would venture to say as well that there are very few mayors less accessible when it comes to actually answering questions and appearing in non-controlled environments. I've been a reporter in cities of various sizes in five states and I'm not sure I've seen a less accessible mayor.

"But in recent weeks, the mayor's office increasingly has stipulated that any questions be 'on topic only' at ribbon-cuttings and similiar events where reporters' inquiries previously were taken without restriction."

A) You know, just until the campaign is over.
B) Because, you know, you guys are such a bunch of pussies you'll go along with it.
C) And they say at the end of the day David Axelrod is an idealist. Which day, I'm not sure. But maybe one that's coming soon.

The irony (or hypocrisy) is that Axelrod told Spielman: "One of our concerns, frankly, is that people know there is an election. It's very low-key out there."

Playing both sides against the middle. And the middle is you.

Todd Grossman
"Todd Does it AGAIN!" the Sun-Times announces on its front page. More relatives on the payroll.

"Asked whether [his first cousin, Donna Dunnings] was the best person for the job 'in all of Cook County, in all of Illinois, in all of the country,' Stroger said yes. He touted her 1986 college grade-point average and master's degree from Northwestern, saying 'if she was anybody else . . . you wouldn't ask me about it.'"

Well, that's not entirely true. If she was his second cousin he'd get asked about it too.

But . . . her 1986 college grade-point average?

(And what was it, by the way?)

"Dunnings insists she's qualified. 'My mother told me a long time ago that Jesus walked the Earth, and he had critics,' she said."

Yes, and He wasn't even related to Stroger!

"Stroger also introduced his choice for comptroller, Joseph Fratto, who has spent 16 years running the Chicago Park District pension fund.

"Fratto was finance chief for Ed Kelly's patronage-laden park district in the early 1990s. He was also Stroger's boss for a time at the park district and is the brother of investment banker Tony Fratto, who was comptroller under Mayor Jane Byrne and whose firm now does substantial city bond business.

"As Stroger was asked about whether clout played a role in Fratto's hiring, Fratto shook his head and rolled his eyes."

Meaning, of course you idiot!

"[Fratto] declined a request to be interviewed."

And we won't hear of him again until he retires to a sweet pension deal or he's indicted, whichever comes first.

God I miss the Tony Peraica era. Remember when he led an angry drunken mob in the early morning hours to storm the election board? That was cool.

Rex Stroger
Can he be impeached?

Can the state declare an emergency and take over?

Will Sun-Times editor John Cruickshank admit that he was wrong to endorse Todd Stroger? Will the editorial board admit it's endorsement editorial was a sham?

I'm not letting that go. For four more years.

Todd Is Our President
What others have to say about Todd Stroger:

"A good progressive Democrat."

- Barack Obama, in between warning us about cynicism

He's going to be a great president of the County Board."

- Richard M. Daley

Likely Story
"The percentage of murders solved by the Chicago Police fell for a second straight year in 2006 - in part because of how detectives investigate homicides, officials said Tuesday," according to Sun-Times stenographers working on behalf of the police department.

Because I have a real hard time believing that the number of murders solved fell to 36 percent because of changes in the law such as requiring interrogations to be videotaped.

Well, maybe that decreased the number of cases solved by extracting false confessions, but beyond that? Please.

According to police officials, who are the only ones quoted in the story, some detectives are afraid to yell at a suspect caught in a lie out of fear for how the video will play to a jury. Hence, fewer cases closed.

Right. Look, we've all seen NYPD Blue. Juries get it. Any detective being extra polite ought to be fired.

But that's not why solved murder cases are down. Some actual reporting might tell us what's really going on.

Straight Man

Rev. Ted Haggard has decided, after intensive ministerial counseling, that he is 100 percent heterosexual. Over/Under on how long until Haggard is caught in a men's room with his pants down: Six weeks.

Corpse Stealer
"Zell Steps Into Tribune Fray."

Well, he is known as the Grave Dancer.

John "Stroger" McDonough
Tribune, Nov. 14, 2006: "The Cubs' payroll is reportedly going up in 2007, but the team announced Monday it will hold the line on ticket prices for season ticket-holders, and is likely to do the same for individual tickets.

"In a renewal letter e-mailed to season ticket-holders, interim President John McDonough said the Cubs 'recognize the importance of our season ticket-holders, and to reward you, we have frozen season-ticket prices for 2007.

"Does that mean all prices will be frozen?

"We always announce the season-ticket prices first," McDonough said. "As of now we don't anticipate raising single-game tickets, but the decision has not been finalized. We'll have that before the on-sale date in February."

Tribune, Feb. 6, 2007: "As expected, the Cubs announced Tuesday a $2 across-the-board increase in prices for the majority of individual tickets, which go on sale at Wrigley at 8 a.m. Feb. 23, and through phone and Internet outlets at 10 a.m. that day. Ticket prices for the two premium seating areas - the bullpen boxes and the dugout boxes - rose $5. The Cubs have yet to announce when those and the bleacher boxes (up $2) will go on sale."

The Beachwood Tip Line: Still free while supplies last.


Posted on February 7, 2007

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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