Saturday, July 15, 2006

 

Gannon Fodder

I make my debut on Page Six today, reporting on the controversial Jeff Gannon's chat before New York City's Log Cabin Republicans:


JOURNO SOCKS IT TO GOP GAYS
By RICHARD JOHNSON with PAULA FROELICH and CHRIS WILSON

July 15, 2006 -- FORMER White House reporter and alleged male escort Jeff Gannon came to town on Thursday to address the Log Cabin Republican club's monthly meeting - and he took no prisoners, The Post's Robert George reports.

Openly gay Gannon, a k a James Guckert, quit his job with the now-defunct conservative Talon News Web site last year after his fake name, slender journalism background and escort connections came to light.

At the gathering of gay Republicans this week, Gannon, who still lives in Washington and is working on a book, let rip at hypocrisy, sexual and otherwise, in the political ranks. He included jabs at:

* Mary Cheney: "I haven't read Mary's book, but I imagine it goes something like this: 'My dad's the vice president; I'm a lesbian - and we don't talk about it.' "
* Ex-New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey: "He said, 'My truth is that I'm a gay American.' No, your truth is that you're not courageous; you're corrupt - and a coward."
* Democrats who use the Bible selectively: "Ted Kennedy says, 'Jesus would have wanted us to raise the minimum wage.' No, Teddy, Jesus would have wanted you to help Mary Jo out of the car that night."

But Gannon reserved his harshest ire for members of the gay liberal media. He called gay liberal activists like author and radio host Michelangelo Signorile and Americablog owner John Aravosis members of the "gay mafia" for outing Republican members of Congress and their staffers.

He added: "There are Democratic members of Congress who play with their boys in D.C. - then go home to pose for pictures with their wives. I know who they are, but they are safe from the gay mafia because they vote the right way."

Gannon denied that they had "outed" him when Aravosis' Web site revealed his alleged male escort past because, "I was no more in the closet than Valerie Plame was a covert CIA agent."
When a non-Log Cabin attendee at the meeting demanded to hear about Gannon's odyssey "from being a prostitute to being a journalist," Gannon refused to answer. He insisted the escort charge was never proven and refused to declare what the truth was, calling it "irrelevant" to his role as a journalist.

He added, "This line of questioning would never be asked of a liberal."

I'll add a few other nuggets from the Jeff Gannon talk a little later.

UPDATE: A New York Daily News gossip columnist also reported on Gannon's appearance. Interestingly, Ben Widdicombe focused on some different quotes:



GOP (gay) orientation session
What, you're not a gay Republican?
Good for you.

But former White House correspondent Jeff Gannon had some interesting insights about politics and sexuality when he addressed the Log Cabin Republicans last week.
Some sample wisdom on Madonna: 'The slut, not the blessed mother of Christ.' On former Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey: 'By day he's doing photo-ops with his wife and kids, and by night he's on his knees at a truck stop in New Jersey.'

On the fact that a certain homophobic Pennsylvania senator has a gay press secretary: 'I think it's a tribute to Rick Santorum. I think it says a lot about the man.'
On G.O.P.-turned-Democrat provocateur David Brock: 'At 35, he decided that he loved shoving dollar bills down the pants of the twinks down at [D.C. gay strip club] Wet.'
Finally, on allegations of his own hooker past: 'Responsible people see it my way, that it doesn't matter.'

It's Jeff Gannon's moral universe, folks. We're just living in it."

To each his own, as they say.

A few other observations from last Thursday stand out -- salacious, politically-pointed, and one rather endearingly sad.

Gannon knocked the Gay Pride Parade in rather salacious terms: "If I march, I'm 'proud'...look at me in my assless chaps! I'm proud." I have to admit that line did remind me of this decidedly politically uncorrect Onion story from a
few years back.

On general liberal hypocrisy: "You're allowed to throw racial epithets against Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell or Clarence Thomas -- if you're a Democrat or in the media."

He slammed the hypocrisy of the gay activists who insist on privacy rights for all but used Gannon's sexuality "to smear members of the White House, including [former press secretary] Scott McClellan, Karl Rove and even the president himself." While Gannon might not be the poster child in terms of demanding privacy, he does make a legitimate point here. As Signorile
himself admits, he outed then-Pentagon spokesman/now NBC correspondent Pete Williams in 1991 to protest the gays-in-the-military policy and the seeming hypocrisy of having Williams in a high-profile position.

The question then -- as now -- is whether there was a legitimate difference between Williams as a civilian spokesman representing the DOD policy on allowing gays to serve openly in the active military. Signorile sees no difference. Others do.

Finally, Gannon said he resigned from Talon News when the media intensity expanded to his family. "My 72 year old mother started getting calls. She called me and said, 'Who are these people? Are they going to hurt you? Are they going to hurt me?'"


Enough said.

UPDATE II: Welcome, Americablog folks! Gosh, who'da thunk that Mr. Gannon would produce so many new visitors! Well, while you're here, don't be shy: Feel free to check recent entries on George Will, Superman, Joe Lieberman -- and the Federal Marriage Amendment! Cheers!



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Friday, July 14, 2006

 

Open Thread

Y'all know the drill by now!

Go to it!

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Just Plame Silly

Even Josh Marshall's GOP-critical spinoff site seems to have reached its limit with the media's droolfest over Valerie Plame:
"If you're gonna be here, you need to stay down," the buzzing scrum of photographers was warned as it crowded around the dais, snapping shots of Valerie approaching her seat, Valerie sitting down, Valerie looking at her husband, Valerie looking at her lawyer, Valerie looking down to her lap -- Valerie looking.

After the conference, the couple disappeared into a nearby room with their entourage. ("Down! Stay down!" the TV camerapeople in the back of the room shouted at the photographers in the front, who had sprung up to capture Valerie standing, Valerie walking, Valerie leaving.) The camerafolk and reporters -- acting on an instinct, perhaps, which has laid dormant since the Clinton years -- moved to surround the room's exit. They had been told, numerous times, that neither Valerie nor her husband would answer any questions. But the group didn't care. We need more Valerie.

Query: If you sue someone, doesn't the discovery process go both ways? Wouldn't that mean that Cheney and Co. would have every right to inquire about Plame's associates at the CIA? Ya think Langley will happily open its doors to all these lawyers asking about Plame's status...with whom she worked...the projects she worked on, etc?

Fun, fun, fun!


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Thursday, July 13, 2006

 

Hey, Teacher! LieberDem's Alone!

I've pretty much avoided the whole Joe Lieberman-Ned Lamont primary/independent run thing since it seemed to me to be an interparty feud that Democrats needed to settle themselves.

However, this item is too good to pass up.

Lieberman's former press secretary Dan Gerstein nails progressive blogger David Sirota in an a rather embarrassing
apparent hypocrisy -- which seems to illustrate the interesting lengths that the anti-Lieberman people will go create a "pure" Democratic Party !

[O]ver the July 4th weekend, the Hartford Courant published an op-ed from a young operative and blogger named David Sirota, who told Connecticut Democrats like me that Lieberman didn't represent us. In fact, Sirota went a step further, and ludicrously argued that Lieberman was not just outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party, but of the American people.

Now what standing and credibility does Sirota have to make either claim? Well, he spent most of his limited adult life working in Washington -- including a stint with the lone socialist in Congress -- before moving to Montana. To my knowledge, the closest he's come to spending any meaningful time in Connecticut is interviewing for a job in Joe Lieberman's Senate office (with yours truly) and in his Presidential campaign in 2003.

Yes, that's right: the same guy who is viciously attacking Joe Lieberman as the great Satan of the Democratic Party actually sought not one but two jobs from the target of his hatred, and did so at time when all of the supposed sins that Sirota is attacking Lieberman for now were well known. The polite term for that would be chutzpah. Some one less charitable might call Sirota a fraud. But in fairness to Sirota, he isn't just attacking Lieberman.

He has accused
Bill Clinton and Barack Obama of being bad Democrats as well. That alone should resolve any question about Sirota's qualifications for discerning what a mainstream Democrat is, be it in Connecticut or anywhere else.

And, no, someone shouldn't be forever prevented from criticizing someone for whom they applied for a job in the past. That's not the implication of Dan's note. However, if Sirota feels that Lieberman's position on the war has made him no longer representative of the views of Connecticut Democrats -- or Democrats in general -- then how is it that Sirota was willing to go to work for him more than a year after the invasion of Iraq?

Now, Sirota could say that he turned against Lieberman because of his unflinching support for the Bush administrations's current course on Iraq. However, that's not the only reason Sirota is opposed to Lieberman. From the Hartford Courant op-ed, he says:

How about partially privatizing Social Security? Lieberman was one of the earliest and most outspoken senators giving credence to the concept. In 2000, The New York Times reported that Lieberman suggested he could support allowing workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in private markets.

But, if that position was known going back six years, why didn't Sirota have a problem applying for a job with the "Joe-mentum" presidential effort in 2004?

Connecticut Democrats can sort this whole thing out themselves, but if Sirota is indicative of the anti-Lieberman folks, they have some issues of their own to cop to.

In the interests of full disclosue, I will note that Gerstein and I co-host a monthly bi-partisan dinner in New York.

UPDATE: In the interests of fairness, here is David Sirota's response.I knew I shouldn't have gotten involved in this. Anyway, the only thing I will add is that Sirota's put down of Dan Gerstein -- a "classic, haughty, self-important, professional election loser" -- seems to be a tough thing for one Democrat to say to another, isn't it? Just asking.

Oh, one more thing -- Dan Gerstein is a friend of mine and I can say unequivocally, one thing he is NOT is classic (though the name of his blog IS).

UPDATE II: Dan responds to David.

UPDATE III: Sirota's last word?


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Can the Green Hornet Be Far Behind?

I don't know why it took me so long to discover the Cato Institute's blog, but I finally did! Check it out for some nuggets from the very smart folks at the premier libertarian think tank.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

 

While You Were Sleeping...

...another Middle East War broke out...

...More
fun and games in Iraq...

...
India isn't doing so well either.

...And
SOUTH Koreans are annoyed with us too.

Ever have one of those centuries?


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Our Lips Are Sealed

The Zidane mystery moves from the sublime to the ridiculous:


As L'Equipe summed up the moment of madness with a headline of "Regrets Eternels", a day of endless questioning began. With many conflicting versions of events circling on the internet and in the world's media, The Times enlisted the help of an expert lip reader, Jessica Rees, to determine the precise nature of the dialogue that caused Zidane to react in such a manner.

After an exhaustive study of the match video, and with the help of an Italian translator, Rees claimed that Materazzi called Zidane "the son of a terrorist whore" before adding "so just f*** off" for good measure, supporting the natural assumption that the Frenchman must have been grievously insulted.
Okay, "with the help of an Italian translator," eh? So, does this mean that Marco Materazzi made the insult in Italian. We are to assume that Zidane speaks fluent Italian? I mean, in the world of international soccer, I imagine that the players pick up bits of the language of different nations (Zidane is Algerian born, a French citizen, but plays for Real Madrid in Spain).

"F**k off" is one of those phrases that translates pretty well across various languages (either literally or with basic understanding of emphasis and body language). But "son of a terrorist whore" is a pretty specific insult that might be hard to figure out -- especially in the middle of a hard-fought match in the middle of the day.

And then, the lip-reader, whose first language is English works with a translator to break down what an Italian soccer player said in Italian and then turns that back into English?

And, again, we assume that Zidane knows Italian?

I dunno...a bit of a stretch for me.

However, the real story here is that Zinedine Zidane has managed to do something that one month of the World Cup did not -- finally turn soccer into an A-list media blood-sport that spills into the general news stream and cable talk shows.

People who on Sunday didn't know the difference between Zizou and Zsa Zsa now have to find out "What set off Zidane?"..."What did Materazzi say?"..."Was it because of the squeezed nipple?"..."Why won't Zidane speak out?"

Because of You Tube, L'Headbutt has now been viewed more times than the Zapruder film.

Controversy! That's what fuels interest in sports! Heck, it was Neil Cavuto's closing comment Tuesday!

When was the last time Cavuto talked about, oh, I don't know -- the NHL?

Progress!


UPDATE: OK, so maybe I was wrong -- about the lip-reading stuff. An Italian-American soccer-following fan writes: "Zidane played for 6 years in Italy and from what I understand speaks fairly good Italian. And besides, from the rumors, what Materazzi supposedly said was not Dante but more gutter/street insults, partially involving one of the something like 2,000 Italian insults for sexual perversion (the Italians supposedly have thousands of slang terms for the male organ)." So, it is easy to see that Zidane understood what Materazzi said to him (in Italian).

However, that we are STILL talking about the final game of the World Cup on Wednesday and the controversy is continuing -- "Will Zidane lose his Golden Ball?" (uh, I don't even want to touch that one, ahem!) -- proves the accuracy of my second point: Zinedrine Zidane has done his sport a great service with his impulsive passionate action. Everybody's talkin' footy!!

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

 

The Third Way?

Dick Morris writes today about the possibility of a Mike Bloomberg independent presidential run:
If Mike Bloomberg runs for president as an independent, he can win. Yes, not just hurt Hillary Clinton or the Republicans, but actually win the White House.

Obviously, he has his bank account in his favor. Like Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996, he wouldn't have to convince skeptical donors that a third-party candidate could succeed for the first time in American history. He can cut short the conversation by just writing a mega check.

But he can succeed where Perot failed, because he knows how to handle himself in the public spotlight.
Another way of saying that is that Bloomberg could present himself as a "sane Perot" -- and that his experience as a big-city mayor would make him comfortable in the media spotlight.
Also unlike Perot (whose impact was to make it impossible for the first President Bush to be re-elected), Bloomberg would draw equally from each of the two main parties

The mayor's strong anti-terror credentials and practical experience at keeping New York City safe from attack would be vastly reassuring to "security mom" voters. He has kept New York safe and even improved on Guiliani's extraordinarily low crime statistics. He has shown himself able to resist pressures for spending and taxes while keeping his budget balanced - and he's a strong advocate of charter schools and educational standards. All good Republican positions.

Democrats, meanwhile, would find his pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-gay rights, pro-affirmative action positions very attractive. His pro-city focus could attract large Democratic support, and he'd probably bring into his column the bluest of blue states - New York.
Morris is only right in part in the attractiveness of Bloomberg's message. On social issues, Bloomberg would be clearly drawing from the left.

Of course, in a three-way race, a candidate would only have to get 34-38 percent of the vote to win all the electoral votes in a given state. Bloomberg -- running as a managerial, tough-on-terror liberal pseudo-Democrat -- could start with the blue states as his natural base. He would then figure that his money and his message could make afford him at least a third of the vote in Florida. His pro-immigration message could put New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado in play. Ohio would not be out of his reach either.


What this means is two things: 1) It's not out of the realm of possibility that Bloomberg could be competitive at the national level; 2) Even if he didn't win, his candidacy could spell complete disaster for the Democrats nationally.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

 

Welcome...

...readers of Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, Reason's Hit & Run and Real Clear Politics' Buzz Tracker!

Enjoy your visit! You'll notice that the Comments sections are active, lively and civil! Feel free to check them out.

Lot's of stuff around here on comic books too, for those so inclined!! Have fun!

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Co-Equal...Shmequal!!

Congress has some nerve! Who are these legislators claiming they have some "right" to be informed on intelligence programs being run by the executive branch?

Damn nosy Democrats! Um, oh, wait this time it's a Republican complaining...must be one of those quisling squishes like Arlen Specter, right?

Oops! This time it is
conservative chairman of the House Intelligence Committee -- and administration supporter -- Peter Hoekstra:


House intelligence committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) would not describe the program, but he said it was significant enough that the administration should have briefed him and others voluntarily, without waiting for them to learn of it through government tipsters.

"There was at least one major -- what I consider significant -- activity that we had not been briefed on that we have now been briefed on," Hoekstra said on "Fox News Sunday." "Some people within the intelligence community brought to my attention some programs that they believed we had not been briefed on. They were right."

Hoekstra said the briefings took place after he complained in a May 18 letter to President Bush of hearing about "alleged Intelligence Community activities" not described to committee members in classified briefings. "If these allegations are true," he wrote to Bush, "they may represent a breach of responsibility by the Administration, a violation of law and . . . a direct affront to me and the Members of this committee."
The central problem with the Bush administration is deeply disturbing. There is absolutely no respect for the concept of separation of powers and shared responsibility in governing a constitutional republic. Hoekstra is not kidding here: He's not talking about some minor slight between ostensibly co-equal branches of the governement -- "a violation of law" is serious language.

Even though Hoekstra's letter was written back in May, one can't help but consider it in the light of the Supreme Court's recent Hamdan ruling. There, Justice Stevens explicitly rejected one argument having little to do with the specifics of Guantanamo -- Congress' recent legislation preventing the federal courts from getting involved in enemy combatant due process suits was applicable to pending cases including Hamdan. Stevens was clearly sending the signal that he wouldn't allow a pre-emptive strike against the power of the Court to speak on issues constitutional import.

This story underscores the point Eli Lake
made last week: Unless the press highlights this secretive, borderline illegal, approach to governance, the only way things will come to light will be from "government tipsters." One would also hope that this gives pause to the GOP's rush to pillory leakers.

Indeed, one can't help but feel that it is not a coincidence that the New York Times
broke the Hoekstra story this weekend -- just a week after Republicans declared war on the Gray Lady for reporting the SWIFT/terrorist financing story. The attitude seems to be..."So, you got us for going overboard on a story in which Congress had been fully briefed. Fine, how about this one where we won't mention what the program is -- but at least one key GOPer is pissed that he hasn't been informed about what is going on? How ya like me now?"

But, come to think of it -- isn't this a better story in the first place? The Hoekstra revelation doesn't compromise any national security concerns but makes the same central point: The administration has contempt for basic constitutional prerogatives.


So why did the Times damage itself on the SWIFT piece which was pretty much a nothing story to begin with?

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"Civil War" Meets War On Terror

Navy Times reports on the impact Marvel's Civil War miniseries is having with readers in the services. While it is only anecdotal, it is rather interesting that -- at least at one store -- military members are against superheroes having to register with the federal government. The reaction to Iron Man being the pro-registration guy is intriguing:


In Fayetteville, N.C., home to the Army’s Fort Bragg and also to Dragon’s Lair, a 25-year-old comic book shop, owner Bernie Mangiboyat said he quickly sold his 200 copies of the first issue, and people are still asking for it.

He said about 75 percent to 80 percent of his customers are service members, and so far, most are lining up with Captain America.

“The big thing is Captain America,” he said. “He stands up for the ones who don’t want to give up their names [to the government]. ... Ninety percent of the customers coming in say they look at it in the Captain America way.

“They’re kind of against Iron Man because they feel that he’s like the corporation going in with the government. He’s kind of falling in line.”
I wonder what would have happened if the respective leaders of the sides of heroes had been reversed. What if Captain America had gone along with the feds and longtime big business corporate titan Tony "Iron Man" Stark -- a former U.S. Secretary of Defense -- decided that his lifetime membership in the military-industrial complex had come to an end and he refused to go along with the registration act?

I wonder if that scenario would have reshaped the allegiances of the military -- and civilian -- readership?

Mucho thanks to regular -- and bigtime Marvel enthusiast -- Damon for bringing this article to my attention.


UPDATE: Damon leaves a comment that should be addressed up here:

Robert, glad you found that article to be interesting. You raise an intriguing point as well. What if Captain America and Iron Man were instead representing the opposing viewpoint - i.e., what if Cap was pro-registration and Iron Man was anti?

For those not familiar with comics, Captain America is considered to be the pinnacle of integrity and nobility. He's the hero most heroes in the Marvel Universe look up to.When Cap stands for something, it gives that cause credibility.

While Iron Man is also highly respected, I don't think he enjoys the same trustworthiness level as Cap does. Iron Man, in his true identity as billionaire Tony Stark, has been known to be manipulative to get his way. His well-known bouts with alcoholism might cause some to view him with suspicion as well.

I'd like to think that if Cap were taking the pro-registration side, I'd still be against it. But it would sure give that side a level of credibility they've yet to reach with Iron Man leading their cause.


Of course it would. But, that's why my enjoyment of this storyline is somewhat tempered. While I like what Marvel has done with "Civil War" (hell, they've made me interested in one of their humungous omnibus storylines for the first time in about twenty years), I am cynical enough to recognize how it's sort of a fixed fight.

Author Mark Millar is an avowed British Lefty. I don't say that disparagingly -- he's admitted as much in interviews. When he was doing promotional stuff for his DC mini-series, Red Son (Essentially, "What if Superman had landed in Communist Russia instead of the U.S. heartland?"), he talked about growing up in a British working class household and being the farthest left member of the family. As good a writer as he is (though with a penchant for A Clockwork Orange-style "ultra-violence"), he can't really completely hold back where his political affections (in the context of who are the "good" superheroes in this sequence) truly lie.

Many of the choices for which side various heroes fall seem completely arbitrary. Reed Richards sides with the pro-registration Iron Man -- yet the Fantastic Four came into existence because Richards decided that he had a better way to get into space than what the official U.S. space program was producing. So, he brings along his best friend, his fiancee and her teenage brother to launch an illegal space flight. A nice dose of cosmic rays later and the rest is history. The point is -- this is hardly a "Let's wait for the government to do what's right kind of guy." On the other hand, given that Captain America was the prototype "super-soldier," it makes far more sense that he would go along with the idea of a super-hero "registration" (though admittedly, the episode with the Secret Empire a few years back might have soured him on what powers the government should have). The point is that Cap is the real wild card here. Millar -- probably at Marvel's blessing or insistence -- has givent the anti-registration side a walking, talking flag to push their point. There is no hero as emblematic of what is "American" on the the pro-registration side -- a scientist? an alcoholic corporatist? I don't think so.

DC did something similar with Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns in the '80s. But there, a returned Batman was the rebel and Superman -- who still believed in "Truth, Justice and the American Way" had become a clear, government operative, working at the beck and call of the White House. Obviously, given the set-up of that book, Batman had to be the true "good guy" and Superman had to be seen as the misguided Super Boy Scout. Even so, Miller stacked the deck a whole lot less than Millar and company seem to be doing in Civil War.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

 

Viva Italia!!

Go, Azzurri!!

UPDATE: Congratulations to the Italians -- producing a stirring win in the shadow of scandal back home!


Congratulations to host Germany for putting on a great show for the last month -- with very little violence or other "hooligan" problems.

Congrats also to FIFA for giving us a pretty exciting World Cup final! TWO goals scored in the first 30 minutes!?!?!?

But what was Zidane thinking in the final OT period? Sad way to end a great career!

Definitely a breakthrough year though for footy interest in the U.S.

South Africa, here we come!


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