Monday, November 28, 2011


I am honored to have been one of the editors of The Chronology: The Documented Day-by-Day Account of Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Contras by Scott Armstrong, Malcolm Byrne, Tom Blanton, and the National Security Archive (New York: Warner Books, 1989, 678 pp.)

The following is a link to the Archive's latest FOIA responses in this matter which continues to unfold. Having recently re-read The Chronology I feel it is as valuable a source of information about U.S. Foreign policy then as well as providing much of the back-story to current events-- especially in the Middle East.


Twenty-Five years after the advent of the "Iran-Contra affair," the two comprehensive "Memoranda on Criminal Liability of Former President Reagan and of President Bush" provide a roadmap of historical, though not legal, culpability of the nation's two top elected officials during the scandal from the perspective of the Office of Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh.

The documents were obtained pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the National Security Archive for the files compiled during Walsh's six-year investigation from 1987-1993.

[This] posting comes on the anniversary of the November 25, 1986, press conference during which Ronald Reagan and his attorney general, Edwin Meese, informed the American public that they had discovered a "diversion" of funds from the sale of arms to Iran to fund the contra war--tying together the two strands of the scandal which until that point had been separate in the public eye. With the Congressional hearings featuring Oliver North, and the trials of former NSC and CIA officials such as John Poindexter and Clair George, the Iran-Contra scandal riveted the nation and dominated political and media discourse in Washington for several ensuing years.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Losing Our Civic Religion: A Conversation With David Shipler | Truthout

This is for those of us who remember the days of COINTELPRO:

"The privacy laws that were enacted after COINTELPRO have been shot full through of holes by the 1994 antiterrorism law, the Patriot Act and the 2008 FISA Amendments. We've gone in the opposite direction than where we need to be going given the expansion of technology. I think that the law has to create a boundary."
Losing Our Civic Religion: A Conversation With David Shipler Truthout

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Simon Blackburn Reviews Stanley Fish's "How To Write A Sentence" | The New Republic

This is for those of us who write and love words which Fish states 'have no meaning unless they are in a sentence'.

Simon Blackburn Reviews Stanley Fish's "How To Write A Sentence" The New Republic

Friday, April 15, 2011

Barry Bonds & Baseball as a Social Metaphor

This is my son Don's response to reading a column I sent him by Dave Zirin in The Nation regarding the trial of Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. Zirin's article is below Don's comments.


[The trial] will never take away the thrill of hearing the distinctive crack of the bat when Barry would hit the sweet spot. You knew at that instant it was out of the park. There would be a deafening silence as everyone, including Barry, watched it. And then the explosive cheer of 42,000+ fans as he trotted the bases while looking up to the heavens and thanking his father Bobby Bonds.

My feeling is that it is really an attempt by racists to keep Babe Ruth’s records intact for the white man. Baseball unfortunately, has a bad history that way. At least until Jackie Robinson. Actually the Giants were the first team to have a black player. But other teams refused to play if there were blacks on opposing teams, and the Congress backed them on it. So blacks were banned from the playing on white teams. If Barry was white, I doubt it would have gone this far. He became more the focal point as his home run record grew. And the media ate it up. Next we’ll probably hear that his records should be erased.

Really guilty or not. (he probably is) the steroid use was silently allowed by MLB. After corruption and charges of game throwing, in the early 1900’s the commissioners job was established to be the law in MLB. He was nowhere. Barry was thrown to the wolves. And all of this was really started by McCain in the senate. It’s the commissioner who should be investigated and removed. He made Barry the scapegoat as Barry wouldn’t roll over like the rest of them and take the blame upon himself for the MLB.

So basically I agree with the article. Baseball has always been a great insight to our social issues, good and bad. It is strongly connected to our lives and history and it is the only sport that is truly American. It’s also the only sport in which the defense has the ball, which is the American point of view on things.



The Great American Witch Hunt: How Barry Bonds Became a Convicted Felon

Dave Zirin | April 13, 2011

This wasn’t supposed to happen in Barack Obama’s America. We were told that these sorts of prosecutions wouldn’t be the priority of an Eric Holder Justice Department. But just as Guantánamo Bay detention centers and military tribunals have remained in place, the perjury witch hunt trial of Major League Baseball’s home run king, Barry Lamar Bonds, continued unabated and has now reached a predictably ugly conclusion.

After seven years, and millions of dollars in court costs, Bonds has been found guilty of obstruction of justice. As for the all-important three perjury charges, the jury couldn’t agree whether Bonds lied to a grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) when he swore under oath that he never knowingly took performance enhancing drugs. Without corroborating evidence from Bonds’s trainer and lifelong friend Greg Anderson, the jury was deadlocked and the Judge declared a mistrial on all perjury charges. But the obstruction of justice conviction makes Bonds a convicted felon, and sets him up for a May 20 hearing where he could get as many as ten years behind bars.

What did Bonds do to “obstruct justice”? According to one juror, “Steve,” the obstruction of justice charge was reached because, [1] “The whole grand jury testimony was a series of evasive answers. There were pointed questions that were asked two or three or four different ways that never got clearly answered. That’s how we came to that.” Wow. Apparently, a “series of evasive answers” lines you up for a ten-year sentence behind bars. By that standard, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby should be breaking rocks in Leavenworth for their performance at the Valerie Plame trial.

As BALCO founder Victor Conte—who is no friend of Bondssaid to USA Today [2], [2]“This verdict absolutely makes no sense to me. Of all of these counts, the one that makes the least sense to me is the obstruction charge. Tell me how there was obstruction of justice. This is all about the selected persecution of Barry Bonds. This is not fair. I was the heavy in this. I accepted full responsibility and the consequences and went to prison. How is that obstruction? Doesn’t make sense.”

It doesn’t. After all the public money, drama, and hysterics, this is what we’re left with. He was “evasive.” Keep in mind that we live in a country where the US Department of Justice has not pursued one person for the investment banking fraud that cratered the US economy in 2008. Not one indictment has been issued to a single Bush official on charges of ordering torture or lying to provoke an invasion of Iraq. Instead, we get farcical reality television like the US vs. Barry Bonds.

This was a trial where you longed for the somber dignity of a Judge Judy. Since Anderson wouldn’t talk, the government was left with two real witnesses: Kimberly Bell, Bond’s mistress, brought in to discuss his sexual dysfunctions resulting from steroids, and Steve Hoskins, the business manager whom Bonds fired for alleged theft and fraud. But their real star was a once-anonymous IRS official named Jeff Novitsky, who has proudly seen Bonds as an all-consuming obsession, US Constitution be damned.

ESPN legal expert Lester Munson described the verdict as “a major [3] triumph for federal agent Jeff Novitzky.” [3] That alone should chill our bones. Without a warrant, Novitzky started his BALCO investigation by rooting through Victor Conte’s trash and taking it back to his house to sift through in his leisure hours. But Conte was a nothing to Novitzky. From the beginning, his sights were on Barry Bonds.

Jonathan Littman of Yahoo! Sports wrote, [4] “two agents working on the case knew that Novitzky ‘hated’ Bonds, and heard him brag about his hopes to cash in on a book deal. The agents demanded to see copies of his reports and were rebuffed by federal officials. Novitzky, however, was given carte blanche by the head of the IRS to drop the normal duties of an IRS agent—investigating tax fraud and money laundering—and became our de facto national sports doping czar.”

In 2004, accompanied by eleven agents, Novitsky marched into the offices of sports-drug testing monolith Comprehensive Drug Testing. Carrying a warrant which authorized him to see the sealed drug tests of just ten baseball players, he paraded out with 4,000 supposedly confidential medical files, including records for every baseball player in the Major leagues. As Jon Pessah wrote in ESPN the Magazine, “Three federal judges reviewed the raid. One asked, incredulously, if the Fourth Amendment had been repealed. Another, Susan Illston, who has presided over the BALCO trials, called Novitzky’s actions a ‘callous disregard’ for constitutional rights. All three instructed him to return the records. Instead, Novitzky kept the evidence…”

During closing arguments, Bonds’s attorney, Cristina Arguedas, looked at the jury as she pointed at the prosecution, accused them of misconduct and asked, “Why are we even here?”

It’s a good question. But asking the question is much safer than answering it. We’re here because Major League Baseball and the US government has long decided that Barry Bonds would shoulder the burden for the steroid era. We’re here because a surly Black athlete who thinks that the press is just a step above vermin was easy pickings for an industry rife with systemic corruption. Major League Baseball made billions off of the steroid era, an era many now see as a rancid, tainted lie. It was an era where owners became obscenely wealthy and billions in public funds were spent on ballparks. The press cheered and America dug the long ball. Now the dust has cleared, our cities have been looted, Barry Bonds could be going to prison, and Commissioner Bud Selig still has a job—and a RAISE. With apologies to Harvey Dent, this is the story of the Black athlete today: die a hero or live long enough to be a villain. And the men in the suits walk—or in Selig’s case, slouch—all the way to the bank.

Around the start of the trial, nearly a decade ago, Bonds said, [5] “This is something we, as African-American athletes, live with every day. I don’t need a headline that says, ‘Bonds says there’s racism in the game of baseball.’ We all know it. It’s just that some people don’t want to admit it. They’re going to play dumb like they don’t know what the hell is going on.” We shouldn’t play dumb either. Both President Obama and Attorney General Holder said words to the effect that the US government would no longer be in the steroid-inspection business. Like so much else in the last two years, it was just words.

Like this blog post? Read it on The Nation’s free iPhone App, NationNow. [6]

Source URL:

[2] UsatodaycomSports-TopStories (Sports - Top Stories)

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bill Moyers: "Facts Still Matter ..."

For those who may underestimate the value of PBS & NPR this address by Bill Moyers is essential reading.

Bill Moyers: "Facts Still Matter ..."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shootings in Arizona

I was invited by BBC Radio Foyle (Derry, N. Ireland) to comment on the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). I stated that in my opinion the shooting of Giffords and killing of six people was the work of a disturbed individual who wanted his fifteen minutes of fame and his actions were exacerbated by the increasingly violent right-wing rhetoric from on high that gave his irrational thinking justification for his action. He should never have been sold a Gluck 9mm automatic repeating rifle.

There is a very fine line to be drawn between protecting the First Amendment rights of free speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution with that of confronting people on the fringe, right or left, who as Giffords said in a speech "incite people and inflame emotions."

To paraphrase Pastor Niemoller's statement about Fascist Germany, if I remain silent when inciteful rhetoric is spoken in public, then there will be no-one left to speak-out when they come for me.

Truth in Media. A Time To Speak Up: Helen Thomas Awaits Another Big Diss from Fellow Journos

Truth in Media. A Time To Speak Up: Helen Thomas Awaits Another Big Diss from Fellow Journos

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

World Press Challenge

Due to the fact that I've been neglecting my Blog for awhile, I have decided to take up the World Press challenge to post a blog a week during 2011.

For this past several months most of my political time has been spent working with others at the Democratic Party Committee Abroad to modify our By-Laws Committee draft revised by-laws. A time-consuming, engaging and worthwhile effort. I'm doing this in my capacity of Vice Chair of Democrats Abroad Ireland.

Presently I am enjoying the end of my three-week break as facilitator of Derry Playhouse Writers which meets every Wednesday at The Playhouse in Derry, N. Ireland.

My main concern is the economic decline of the U.S. which has affected by family with both unemployment and under utilizing the talents, skills and experience of both of my two sons, Don and Mark, and my Daughter-in-Law Janet. Don has been unemployed for over 99 weeks and his Tier 5 wasn't included in the Congressional extension of unemployment benefits so he is in dire straights unless he finds employment immediately. Janet received an extension and thankfully Mark is still employed but at a salary less than half of what he once earned.

So, let this be the first of fifty-one more weekly blogs during this year.