Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I caught an ESPN Classic program on the life of Pete Maravich the other day. I know I must have seen the program before, but the significance of Pete's final day eluded me.

Pete Maravich was to appear on the radio show of Dr. James Dobson on January 5, 1988, the day he died at the age of 40. Before the program, he was playing a pick-up game with Dobson & his son.

Yes, we're talking about Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson, the man who pushed Bill Frist to use the nuclear option, the man who says Spongebob Squarepants is pushing homosexuality on children, the man who favors spanking children until they cry, and spanking them again if they won't stop crying.

Now, I know the autopsy showed the Pete Maravich's death at the age of 40 was caused by his rare condition of having been born with only one coronary artery. Still, now, forever more will I think of Dobson as The Man Who Killed Pistol Pete.


Haiku for David Wells

Worst off-season move by the Red Sox? I put my money on the signing of the overweight, over-the-hill David Wells. (I think Ed-gah Renteria is going to come around).

Mike Miliard at the Boston Phoenix "Sox Blog" wrote some haiku about our disappointing Boomer: Down the Wells.

Edith Jones: Next Supreme Court Nominee

Now that the Rethugs have gotten Priscilla Owen & Janice Rogers Brown through to a vote on the Senate floor (and presumably confirmation), I predict that Bush's nominee for the next open seat on the Supreme Court will be Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit. Apparently it's easier to get incompetent right-wing judicial activists through if they're female. Here's the People for the American Way letter (PDF file) to the Judiciary Committee opposing them.

Edith Jones is the nuclear nominee. Bob Hebert wrote a good column (Medieval Justice) on her in the NYTimes in 2000 when she voted to allow a man to be put to death, despite the fact that his lawyer SLEPT throughout much of his trial. He also takes note of her famous question during arguments while the circuit court was considering an appeal of a sexual harassment, hostile work environment case. The evidence showed that the male supervisor pinched the breast of the female worker who then sued. Judge Jones response to this evidence: "Well, he apologized." As Hebert notes, there were gasps in the courtroom.

The pro-lifers like her because she makes no bones about her intention to overturn Roe v. Wade should she get her lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.

I hope I'm wrong, but afraid I'm right.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Life in the Exurbs/Suburbs

For my friend S who introduced me to the term "McMansion":

McAmerica Uber Alles

In which Billmon quotes the following:

One thing that I'm predicting is that there will be a vigorous and futile defense of suburbia and all its entitlements, no matter what reality is telling us to do. And this will translate into a lot of political mischief. You can quote me: Americans will vote for cornpone Nazis before they will give up their entitlements to a McHouse and a McCar.

James H. Kunstler, Author of The Long Emergency
Interview with Salon
May 14, 2005

But it's not a McHouse: It's a McMansion. Complete with a giant McGarage to hold the giant McSuburbans.

Who Gave the Presstitute Special Treatment?

Inquiring Minds Want to Know.

Nights in White House satin: The comings and goings of Jeff Gannon

Okay, maybe there's no scandal here. Lots of people, mostly tourists, visit the White House. But it does seem odd that Gannon was there at least 32 times on days when there were no briefings, or returned later in the day to the presidential mansion after a briefing. Seems he'd spend about an hour or hour and a half in the White House on these occasions. Or he'd be there for an hour or hour and a half before or after the briefings. I suppose that it could be shown he was there to consult with someone about what sort of questions he might raise in the next briefing, that could produce a small scandal. But the media hasn't really taken on the president's manipulation of reporters to date and protested and exposed it effectively.

The records also show days when Gannon checked in but never properly checked out, beginning in July 2003 or five months after he started his White House journalistic activities. This doesn't necessarily cry out "Scandal!" since lots of people have slept over at the Bush White House. But usually they're big fundraisers or family members. For someone like Gannon to be there, apparently sleeping over, on twelve different nights seems curious. Surely he had his own lodgings nearby. But after all, in his "reporter" capacity he was a friend of the administration and like Jacko says, friends often let friends sleep over. Dowbenko indicates that the president was in his house on all these occasions, but I imagine Laura and the Secret Service people were there too. Of course it is a big house, room for everybody and a degree of privacy even in these terror-haunted, well-monitored times.

White House, Secret Service Stories on Gannon/Guckert Passes Don’t Match

Friday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told ePluribus Media that his office had never requested a 30-day security clearance for James D. Guckert, aka "Jeff Gannon," directly contradicting a statement made earlier that day by the U.S. Secret Service.

The Secret Service’s "30-day access list program," used by the White House press office, would have allowed Guckert to visit the briefing room for a 30-day period without undergoing daily criminal-history checks.

But not the Corporate Media, they're so over it:

Gannon's story left critics tarnished, too

The phrase in BOLD is the real truth about the corporate media's (non)coverage of the story:

Despite the sex pictures, the linchpin of the scandal was always the allegation that Bush and/or his press secretary, Scott McClellan, catered to Gannon so that his softball questions would make the president look good. Having Gannon in the press room allowed McClellan to change the subject whenever a mainstream reporter began to bore in with a tough line of questioning, according to the bloggers who promoted the story.

But the allegation was never proven. McClellan argued that he called on questioners in a routine manner, getting to Gannon only after fielding inquiries from larger news outlets in a fairly predictable order. Veteran White House correspondents backed him up. Meanwhile, McClellan maintained that his office did not give Gannon favorable treatment in getting a press pass. Former White House press secretaries from the Clinton administration generally sided with McClellan.

At that point, despite the lurid aspects of Gannon's past, most newspapers gave up on the matter as a news story.

Yes, this is the low to which the corporate media has fallen. If the source denies the story, IT'S OVER! Time to look for the next runaway bride.

To Win a Fight, You Have to Fight

Late Friday night I caught part of the replay of British Member of Parliament George's Galloway's appearance before the Senate subcommittee investigating the UN "Oil for Food" scandal. The subcommittee is headed by the loathesome Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota. It's hard to believe that a seat that was once held by such greats as Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale is now occupied by this preening, sleazy, empty-headed idiot. (gratuitous before and after pictures of his teeth from his dentist's website here. Yup, he illegally got the teeth for free while Mayor of St. Paul, then quickly paid for them when the dentist's website was discovered by blogtopia.) Oh yeah, Minnesota is the same state that elected Jesse Ventura, professional wrestler, as its governor. I wonder what kind of crap is in their water?

I digress. This post is about George Galloway. The committee had already assembled a dossier (sinister Soviet music should be playing in your head) of its evidence indicting Galloway as a collaborator with Saddam Hussein. They brought Galloway in to put his head on a pike. But he turned the tables. He made mincemeat of them. If you get a chance to view it, you should. But at least read his testimony. Listen for his Scottish accent as you read.

This is how we must fight the lies of the right. You can't be moderate in your opposition to liars. You have to fight to win. When you are right, when you are speaking the truth, you will persuade. You will win.

Since the subcommittee has removed Mr. Galloway's testimony from its website, his opening statement is reproduced below in its entirety.

Published on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 by the Times Online (UK)
Galloway vs. The US Senate: Transcript of Statement
George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, delivered this statement to US Senators today who have accused him of corruption

* * * * *

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his.

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

"You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

"Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

"Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.

"You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realize played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

"I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.

"And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].

"Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.

"Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely @#%#*-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

A Modest Proposal

An odd topic for a return post, but here goes:

Why don't the folks in charge of our roads invest in a little paint? I drove home late last night in the rain, and most of the roads on which I traveled had lane lines and markers that were completely worn away. Which made it very hazardous to be driving an unfamiliar route!

I bet if the lanes were just clearly marked with bright clear flourescent paint, there would be many fewer accidents, both night and day, but especially night.