Another Three-Dot Column

[ Posted Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 – 18:02 UTC ]

[As always, these columns of leftovers are offered up as an homage to the late, great master of "three-dot journalism," Herb Caen.]


. . . Seems to have been a bad week for Republicans. First there was the story about South Carolina's state Treasurer, Thomas Ravenal (who also happens to be the Giuliani campaign's state chairman) getting indicted on federal cocaine distribution charges. Bummer. I would be willing to bet that the voters of South Carolina are probably not going to be impressed at Rudy bringing such "New York City values" down to their state.


. . . Next up was the revelation that Jay Garrity (who is Mitt Romney's director of operations) is apparently living out his lifelong dream of being a cop. Not only did he leave a rambling message on a business' phone identifying himself as "Trooper Garrity" of the Massachusetts State Police, he also allegedly pulled a New York Times reporter's car over and told him to stop following Romney. But the real kicker is the last paragraph in the AP story:

In 2004, Garrity was cited and fined by Massachusetts officials after a Ford Crown Victoria registered to him was found to have lights, a siren, radios and other law enforcement equipment -- including a baton -- after it was parked illegally in Boston's North End. At the time, Garrity was paid $75,000 annually as Romney's gubernatorial chief of operations.

After putting such an obviously unbalanced individual in such high positions, voters are surely going to wonder about Mitt's ability as a judge of character. Sounds like shades of Giuliani's "Bernard Kerik" (and now "Thomas Ravenal") problems.


. . . And today, news that former Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department was sentenced to 10 months in jail for lying to Senators in the Jack Abramoff investigation. As Salon reports: "Griles is the highest-ranking [member of the](sic) Bush administration convicted in the corruption investigation." Highest-ranking, maybe, but most assuredly not the last.


. . . Robert Novak is warning Democrats that President Bush is ready and eager to veto up to 9 of 12 total budget bills that congress is currently working on. I guess once he signed his first veto, it got easier (especially with a Democratic congress). In any case, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid better be ready for most of the budget to be returned to them. They need to start lining up votes now or strategizing for the possibility, at the very least.


. . . In other congressional news, any Democrat who helped defeat the effort to shut down the notorious "School of the Americas" at Fort Benning, Georgia, should hang their head in shame. This school was used in the 1980s to train thugs from Central American governments (who were friendly to the United States). Wikipedia has an overview of the sordid history of this institution. People have been trying to shut it down for years, and now -- with the Democrats in power -- the House voted 214-203 to keep funding it. Our tax dollars at work. Disgraceful.


. . . An interesting trend seems to be slowly developing, which can only be seen as a good thing: political candidates willing to experience poverty for a short time, to see how some of their constituents live. First, it was politicians vowing to live on food stamps for a week. Now, in Nashville, Tennessee, mayoral candidates are spending a night homeless. While these could be seen as a cheap political stunt, in some way it may put the politicians in touch (in some small way) with what the underside of American life is really like.


. . . The mainstream media had lots of fun with the Pentagon funding a "gay bomb" and other fantastical projects last week (and the late night talk show hosts had even more fun with it). The fact that the Pentagon funds some wacky projects shouldn't actually come as news to anyone familiar with the story of the "hafnium bomb" -- an idea for a grenade-sized nuke that has about as much evidence of ever becoming reality as cold fusion.

I guess I really shouldn't mock the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) too much, since they're also the folks who brought us the very internet you are reading this on. See? Some of their stuff turns out OK.

But while reading an otherwise amusing piece at ABC News' web site, I was struck by one sentence (on page 3 of the article):

The military industrial complex, coined in the age of President Dwight Eisenhower, is alive and well today, according to [Alexis Debat, senior fellow for national security and terrorism at the Nixon Center in Washington, D.C.], whose research into how Muslims fight is partially funded by the Department of Defense.

"It's an unwritten rule in the U.S. economy that defense companies play an important role in the stock market as anchors of stability," he said.

"Living here in Washington, you have no idea how we are inventing enemies," said Debat. "Hundreds of people are trying to figure out how to make China our enemy because there is so much money and power in the Pentagon."

Now that is a truly scary thought.


. . . And finally, it looks like Kanye West was right when he said "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Bush held a barbeque on the South Lawn last week. From the official White House transcript of his remarks (or see Wonkette, who had the best snarky take on the situation), which were made to an African-American member of one of the musical acts:

THE PRESIDENT: ...Kermit, come up here. Kermit, we're proud to have you.

MR. RUFFINS: Well, thanks for having us.

THE PRESIDENT: Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, right out of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Applause.)

MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We're glad to be here.

THE PRESIDENT: Proud you're here. Thanks for coming. You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it's over. (Laughter.)



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