Monday, December 31, 2007

Dick Mac's Person Of The Year 2007

Here are my top ten "people" of the year. Some are not actually people:

10. Vladimir Putin was selected as Time Magazine's Person of the Year, which automatically disqualifies him for consideration as my number one POTY. Besides, I am neither impressed nor encouraged by his criminal background, hijacking of American tax dollars, nor his control of post-Soviet media. Still, it is hard to discount his immense power and influence. If he could smash OPEC and embarrass the United States back into being a real capitalist economy, he might move back up my list.

9. The New England Patriots won all of their regular season games. We will not know for another month if they are the Super Bowl Champions, but they are the first team to go undefeated since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Impressive. Winning the Super Bowl would mean the team won nineteen games in a row -- the odds are against them, I fear.

8. Sven Goran Eriksson was loathed, hated and despised as the coach of England's national soccer team. He failed at every juncture, which contradicted his reputation and record as a club manager. When he stepped down (was fired) from the England job, he signed-on as manager of Manchester City Football Club, the hapless, lovable bastard neighbor of the all-powerful Manchester United Football Club (known on this blog as ManUre). Eriksson has City in the top of the pack, along with perennial leaders ManUre, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool. If he keeps up his winning ways, City is heading for a berth in European competition in 2008. Keep up the good work, Sven!

7. Former United States Senator George Mitchell, previously noted for being instrumental in the Belfast Peace treaty (a/k/a The Good Friday Agreement) that garnered him a Knight's Grand Cross from the British Empire, was hired to uncover the truth about steroids-abuse in Major League baseball. It was a dirty job, but he accepted it. Sadly, his report recommended no serious punishment for the accused, nor did he recommend the firing of Bud Selig as Commissioner. So, his report is hardly worth the paper on which it is written. Although we should expect nothing to come of his efforts, it is impressive that he named names and did not completely sweep the issue under the rug. (See, Punishment For Using Steroids In Baseball? None!)

6. Tatiana killed one guy and mauled two others in a twenty minute attack outside her home at the San Francisco Zoo. She's dead now. Nobody seems to know how a 350-pound tiger escaped from her pen. She may have simply escaped by jumping over the walls that were over four feet shorter than is recommended for holding tigers in captivity. I smell a lawsuit.

5. The Brooklyn Tornado touched down in the wee hours of the morning, just before dawn, and cut a swath through Bay Ridge, Borough Park, and Kensington, before coming to an end. Or so it is suspected. The tornado was a freak event and was not successfully tracked, leaving only the path of uprooted trees and damaged buildings as evidence of its presence. I was awoken by what sounded like thunder, but was certainly the loudest thunder I'd ever heard. The sound was wind ripping full-grown trees out of the ground. (See, A video report at New York Times and The WNBC Report)

4. Juan Pablo Angel arrived in New York after the MLS season was well underway. The handsome, prolific Colombian striker was the shot in the arm Red Bull New York needed to mount a playoff run. And mount a run, they did. He scored nineteen goals in 24 games, and made me and other fans very happy. The team lacks solid defense, and with Angel up front with the precocious Jozy Altidore, then just a little bit of help in the back could catapult the team towards a championship. (See, Red Bulls Have An Angel and Juan Pablo Angel es Muy Atractivo and Red Bull New York Prepares for Playoffs)

3. Wesley Autrey, the subway hero, jumped into the subway tracks to save a stranger. He has not been rewarded properly. He is a hero of immeasurable magnitude. Cheating athletes, lying politicians, billionaires who profit from bankruptcy, and world "leaders" are lauded and have lavish amounts of money bestowed upon them. Autrey deserves more. He embodies what makes New Yorkers great, Americans unique, humans kind. Thank you, Mr. Autrey. (See, A True Hero: Wesley Autrey )

2. Al Gore might save the world. The best thing to happen to humanity might be that George Bush and his posse stole the 2000 election and left Al Gore to pursue other, more scholarly causes like global warming. Winning a Nobel prize is impressive. In a different year, this might make Gore my POTY. Let's hope someone in power in the United States (after the current president leaves office) begins to take some action to heed Mr. Gore's warnings.

1. George W Bush has an approval rating of 25% (which I believe is an increase for him). To paraphrase Bill Maher, "this guy has lost two world trade centers, four jets, a piece of the Pentagon, an American city, an entire army in the desert, destroyed a sovereign nation, and alienated all our allies." He has put a few more nails in the coffin of America's economy, bringing to fruition Gore Vidal's analysis that America's economy is "socialism for the rich, and free-enterprise for the poor." Because of him, the Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006. Still, he manages to pass every bill he wants, violate the Constitution, break any international law he finds inconvenient, pack federal agencies with corporate lackeys, do and say whatever he pleases, and the Democratic majority does nothing to stop him. Impressive, indeed. And for that reason, I select George W Bush as the most amazing person of 2007. Congratulations Mr. Bush, you are destroying the world faster than any natural or man-made disaster. You will go down in history as the most dangerous American who ever lived.

And there you have it. Let's hope 2008 is a better year for America and the world.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Wake Up, You're Liberal!
Ted Rall

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto 1953-2007

Having been back in Pakistan for just over two months, after years of exile, Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister, and leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, was assassinated yesterday, December 27, 2007.

Educated at Radcliffe and Oxford, and the daughter of a former prime minister, Bhutto worked diligently for democracy in her native land.

It is unknown at this time who is responsible for her murder. It could be the reigning military dictator (president) or the religious extremists (Taliban). It was offensive to hear an apologist of the current dictator suggest on CNN that it was a disaffected member of her own party who did the deed.

Bhutto was a hero.

Rest in peace.

Photo found at The Harry Walker Agency website.

Addition at 1323:

See this slideshow at the New York Times site, by Getty Images photographer, John Moore, reporting from the scene of the rally and assassination.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

NFL Scum

Even when they make a proper decision, the NFL just oozes slime.

In continued attempts to defend the indefensible, the NFL continues to try to make a case for its shitty NFL Network.

In a slimeball move that is so transparent as to make a child's hand in the cookie jar seem like international intrigue, the NFL scheduled the New England Patriots' last game of the season on their proprietary shitty NFL Network.

The shitty NFL Network is unavailable to more than half the country, unworthy of cable carriage, grossly over-priced, and an embarrassment to American ingenuity.

In an attempt to be gracious, but unable to do so, Roger Goodell, head slimeball of the slimy NFL, announced that the potentially history-making game will be broadcast on terrestrial television, carried by both CBS and NBC, along with the shitty NFL Network:
We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans."

Lie! It is not in the best interest of the fans, it is in the best interest of the shitty NFL! What asshole thought it would be a good idea to broadcast the league's premier team's final game of the season on their shitty proprietary network? Probably Goodell. This guy is a piece of work. He thinks that just by saying 'it's in the best interest of the fans' then it must be true! If the NFL cared even two bits for their fans, their shitty NFL Network wouldn't even exist!

He continues:
What we have seen for the past year is a very strong consumer demand for NFL Network. We appreciate CBS and NBC delivering the NFL Network telecast on Saturday night to the broad audience that deserves to see this potentially historic game. Our commitment to the NFL Network is stronger than ever.

What is he a fucking moron? There is no cable network that wants to pay the extortionate prices the NFL is demanding for their shitty little network, and the only reason any fans have the network is because they are true fans (poor, misguided waifs) and want to watch all their teams' games. Since the shitty NFL is holding some of the games hostage, then these people must hope that their local cable system carries the shitty NFL Network.

Of course the NFL is still committed to the NFL Network, they are trying to create a broadcast monopoly that will position them in the enviable position of controlling every aspect of their shitty league's broadcasts.

The shitty NFL Network is a rip-off, the NFL is a pile of shit, and it's unfortunate that the Patriots are having a season worth watching!

American football is an embarrassment to sport, with an hour of fifteen-second plays surrounded by thirty-second respites, wrapped in three hours of commercials.

The NFL Network. Puh-lease!

Dick Mac Recommends:

Fever Pitch
Nick Hornby

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fingertips - The Intelligent Guide To Free And Legal Music

Those who know me, or have read my rantings for a long time, know that I've changed from being a staunch opponent of downloading (pirating) music to being an advocate of getting as much free music as you can. The final straw for me was when iTunes became a tool of the RIAA and began putting a lock on the music I was purchasing from them. That was not fair.

Being an advocate of fair use and paying for entertainment, I believe that once I pay you for a song, whether on vinyl, CD, tape, or as a digital file, it is mine and I am free to do with it what I want, as long as I do not use it for commercial enterprising or personal financial gain.

I have been purchasing music since the mid-1960s, and I am one of those 'mixed-tape' geeks that Nick Hornby wrote about in "High Fidelity." I have won and lost lovers with mixed-tapes, I have used mixed-tapes to court people and to dump them, I have used them to make a point (political or otherwise), and I have used them as gifts. Over the years, scores of people to whom I have given mixed-tapes (now mixed-CDs) have gone on to purchase music by some of the artists I have introduced to them with my mixed-tapes.

Giving someone individual songs on a mixed-tape for "free" leads not to that person getting more free cuts, but to that person purchasing music by the artists I have included in the mix.

Locking a song I have paid for is not fair use, and I stopped using iTunes on that day and I changed my personal stance on piracy. I now believe that the record companies and the RIAA are the pirates, and that artists and consumers alike are victimized by their petty vindictiveness, failed profiteering, and legal wranglings.

When I decided to stop opposing 'piracy,' I tried to learn how to get free songs from the Internet; but, it was too complicated, too confusing, and put my personal computer in a line of fire I wasn't prepared to defend against. So, although I no longer advocate against free downloads, I find it intolerable to participate.

Then I found out about Jeremy Schlosberg's Fingertips music site. According to the site, it is "An annotated, informed guide to the best free and legal music on the web." Free music from the web that I do not have to steal! Wow!

Each week I receive an email from Jeremy with links to a few free and legal songs by artists I may not of heard, and sometimes the occasional cut from a well-known artist.

The site asks for donations, and there is a link to use PayPal or Amazon to send money.

The site is worth investigating and supporting. Advertising is kept to a bare minimum, and Jeremy's effort shows as a labor of love.

You won't find any free David Bowie or Elvis Costello cuts, but you will find The Dears, Death Cab For Cutie, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., Tom Waits, Wilco, XTC, and tons of other artists you may or may not have heard of (or from in many years).

And you can download the cuts for free.

As a bonus, Jeremy writes a blurb about each song that is not some pedantic blather critiquing pop music, it's his opinion (a learned opinion you will see) and he is fair and open-minded about all genres.

This is a site worth supporting, and I hope you will take some time to visit, download and send five or ten bucks to support the project.

See the master artist list here, then explore away. Listen. Learn. Enjoy.

And if the RIAA is reading, please note that I have gone on to purchase the CDs of artists I heard for free at Fingertips! Giving away free songs promotes sales. The petty, vindictive decision to lock songs we purchase only turns people away from the industry, it doesn't protect anyone!

Dick Mac Recommends:

High Fidelity
Nick Hornby

Monday, December 24, 2007

Steroids at Xmas

It's a holly, jolly Christmas! It's the best time of the year!

Would steroids make Christmas bigger? More fun? Hollier and jollier? Would the lights on the trees be brighter, but the balls smaller? Could Santa deliver the gifts like a 100+ mph fastball? Would Santa get too big for his sleigh? How would steroids affect Christmas?

What did steroids do to this man?

One of his best friends in baseball is Andy Petite, who has contritely admitted using the steroids that the two men are both accused of using. While they were teammates. And using the same strength coach.

The strength coach admits to injecting both men with steroids.

Do you think Roger Clemens is telling the truth? Do you think he is using the media to launch a campaign to clear his name? Do you think he plans to provide sworn testimony about his steroid use?

I think he's a liar. I think he plans to use the court of public opinion to clear his name and will avoid any courtroom proceedings that might require him to testify under oath.

Curt Schilling delivers a non-committal, almost apologetic, nearly pro-Clemens opinion at his blog Schilling claims to be writing as a fan, and I admire his candor. He stops short of saying that Clemens used steroids, because he doesn't know, any more than any of the rest of us without first-hand knowledge. Still, Schilling's post is scathing in the framework of the business of baseball. That someone of Schilling's social and political standing would crack the veneer that is baseball's integrity, speaks volumes about how much this steroid scandal could impact the sport.

What do we do about the batting and pitching records set by men accused of using steroids? What about the MVP and Cy Young awards? What about the World Championships won by teams with players using steroids?

And will the journalists who have historically (and hysterically) protected baseball from the evils of Pete Rose (gambling) and Tim Robbins (speaking against the war), take the sport, the owners, the union, and the players to task? Will they really call for change? Will they encourage people to do the only correct thing, boycott baseball? Or will they protect their own careers as baseball writers and continue to prop-up the lie that is major league baseball?

Merry Christmas!

Dick Mac Recommends:

Jose Canseco

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Humor - God's Country

Heard on the internet:

A man in Topeka, Kansas decided to write a book about Churches around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco and started working east from there.

Going to a very large church, he began taking photographs and making notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the vestibule wall and was intrigued with a sign, which read 'Calls: $10,000 a minute.'

Seeking out the pastor he asked about the phone and the sign. The pastor answered that this golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to heaven and if he pays the price he can talk directly to God.

The man thanked the pastor and continued on his way. As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and around the United States, he found more phones, with the same sign, and the same answer from each pastor.

Finally, he arrived in Massachusetts. Upon entering a church in Boston, behold - he saw the usual golden telephone.

But this time, the sign read "Calls: .25 cents."

Fascinated, he asked to talk to the pastor, "Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each church I have found this golden telephone and have been told it is a direct line to Heaven and that I could talk to God, but in the other churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads only .35 cents a call. Why?

The pastor, smiling benignly, replied: "Son, you're in Boston, Massachusetts now, home of the Red Sox, the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Boston College! You're in God's Country, so it's a local call."

Thanks to Bob for sending this along.

Dick Mac Recommends:

I Am America
(And So Can You!)

Stephen Colbert

Train Wreck 2007

This was supposed to be an article about watching the New York Knicks lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Last night I attended the game with a friend, and I was excited about seeing the scene of Knicks fans booing Isiah Thomas, the head coach of their team.

Surprisingly, the Knicks beat the Cavaliers handily and the only anti-Thomas display took place after the buzzer when I saw a post-pubescent boy hold up a "Fire Isiah" sign (now common at Knicks games).

Things have gotten so bad for Thomas at Madison Square Garden that security has started ejecting hometown fans who verbally berate Thomas from their $200 seats.

That didn't happen last night, though. I witnessed no heckling, no booing of the home team, and no anti-Thomas hysteria.

Still, the quote of the year in New York City is "Fire Isiah"! No other sentiment is expressed more regularly, more consistently, by more people in the city than "Fire Isiah."

The Yale Book of Quotations has released its list of the most memorable quotes of 2007, but "Fire Isiah" is not on the list. Their list of verbal train wrecks is:

10. "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." President Jimmy Carter discussing the Bush Administration in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette interview.

9. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." The unfortunate remark of Sen. Joseph Biden, candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, describing Barack Obama.

8. "[I have] a wide stance when going to the bathroom." -- Republican Sen. Larry Craig, of Idaho, explaining why his foot touched an undercover policeman in the next stall. Craig didn't say that verbatim in the police interview, however. When asked how he positioned his feet in the stall Craig said that he is "a fairly wide guy." The editor has actually printed an inference that he generated from the question asked by the detective and the answer provided by Craig. Close enough for me!

7. "I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid talking about Vice President Dick Cheney. I didn't know Cheney's approval rating was that high!

6. "There's only three things [Rudy Giuliani] mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11." Joe Biden. Please note that Giuliani's noun of choice is usually some form of the pronoun "I."

5. "I don't recall." U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' response to questions at congressional hearings about the firing of U.S. attorneys. For an attorney, this guy doesn't remember very much.

4. "That's some nappy-headed hos there." Don Imus live on the radio discussing the Rutgers University Women's Basketball team. What we heard on the radio, however, was usually Reverend Al Sharpton repeating the quote, not Imus himself. Boy, oh boy, there's a couple!

3. "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia University in New York City. I guess their homosexuals are more Iranian, unlike our homosexuals who are more American.

2. "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us." Miss South Carolina during the Miss Teen America pageant. I have more questions for her! She should be a one-woman game show where contestants get to ask questions and then try to interpret what the hell she is talking about in her response.

1. "Don't tase me, bro." Shouted by University of Florida college student Andrew Meyer, followed by screams as electric shock was administered by taser. Meyer had the audacity to ask Senator John Kerry a hostile question, which the Senator wanted to answer, but which dialogue school security officials deemed should be repressed by doses of electric shock. Now there's freedom of speech for ya!

See the Reuters report at Yahoo!

Dick Mac Recommends:

Wake Up, You're Liberal!
Ted Rall

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thierry Henry Makes Time Magazine's List of 2007 Heroes and Pioneers

Thierry Henry, Time Magazine 2007 Pioneer and Hero

Thierry Henry, French international soccer star, formerly a player for Arsenal and now with Barcelona, has been selected as one of Time Magazine's Heroes and Pioneers of 2007.

The article is written by Tony Parker, the captain of the French national basketball team and a starting point guard for the San Antonio Spurs (with whom he has won three NBA championships). In the article, Parker writes:
But Thierry, 29, is so much more than a great soccer player who helped France reach last year's World Cup final and who has led his English club team, Arsenal, to four national-cup wins. He wants to change the world. It's no secret that European soccer is fighting a racism problem, in the crowd and on the field, and no player has done more to exorcise it than Thierry. After cameras caught Spain's national coach using a racist slur to describe Thierry in 2004, he could have lost his cool. Instead, Thierry, who is always steady, recruited a host of fellow soccer stars to launch his Stand Up Speak Up campaign, which raised millions of dollars and unprecedented awareness to fight racism. We talk about the problem all the time. Racism bothers him so much, but he wanted to attack it in a measured, professional manner. Given his upbringing in the ethnically diverse housing projects southwest of Paris, no one can speak out against intolerance better than Thierry. His impact has been immense. Sure, racism hasn't entirely disappeared from the soccer landscape, but you can sense it fading a bit. You've got to give Thierry some credit for this change.

RonaldinhoRio Ferdinand

The Stand Up Speak Up campaign has been made possible with the work of many people and major funding from a shoe manufacturer. Henry's efforts have had a huge impact on Europeans, who have been inundated with images of their favorite soccer players speaking out against racism. There is no denying the campaign's impact.

When professional athletes speak-out, many more people listen than when a politician speaks-out. Even more so than when a movie star or a rock star speaks out. Why is this? I think it is because politicians are known to just blather on and on about anything they think will get them elected. Rock stars and movie stars, no matter their personal political beliefs, aer always branded as "liberal" and therefore the mainstream media and those of us paying attention to the mainstream media, diminish the message because liberalism is now considered to be a sign of weakness.

Thierry Henry
I cannot tell you Thierry Henry's political affiliation. I do not know if he votes his soul or his pocketbook. Though I suspect the former, I have no proof. Still, he is my favorite soccer player in the entire world and I go out of my way to watch him play.

Thierry Henry knows he is a role model and he takes the position seriously. He shows himself to be a man of integrity when he parlays his success on the field to gain a platform to discuss important causes. Most athletes can't be bothered. In fact, I remember Charles Barkley bragging about his refusal to be a role model and being a Republican. Henry knows he is responsible to the society that has made him a multi-millionaire. He is unselfish.

Is the discussion of and fight against racism a liberal notion, or is it really intrinsic to the discussion of class and money? As Western countries like the United States, England, France and Spain are home to more wealthy people of color, does not racism become easier to battle?

Does this ignorance of an athlete's personal politics give him more credibility? Perhaps.

Irrespective of these thoughts, Henry took a stand and has changed the world. So, for this, he is a hero and a pioneer.

Stand Up Speak Up

See Football Unites Racism Divides

Time Magazine Article

Dick Mac Recommends:

Thierry Henry
Oliver Derbyshire

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Al Bangura Deportation

A 19-year-old soccer player in England is facing deportation back to his native war-torn Sierra Leone, after receiving asylum. He is currently playing for Watford F.C., a professional soccer team based outside of Central London, that is owned by Sir Elton John.

He is appealing the deportation and a group of Watford fans are appealing for your help. Visit the Glory Horns fan site, home of an unofficial Watford fan club.

Their petition states:
Alhassan "Al" Bangura (born 24 January 1988, in Freetown, Sierra Leone) is a Sierra Leonian midfielder who currently plays for Watford F.C. in the Football League Championship in England.

Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, he fled the country upon the death of his father. His father was a member of the Poro Secret Society, and tradition stated that his son must join upon his death. Not wanting to, he went to Guinea where he met a Frenchman, who took him to France and intended to make Bangura a male prostitute. When the man took him to England, he sought asylum. (Read more here.)

Bangura is an upstanding tax-paying member of society who has survived death threats and escaped sex slavery to live a dream in the free world. Deporting him means a strong likelihood of death and there is no good reason to deny him continued asylum, and citizenship in England.

Of course, that is easy for an American like me to say, but it is true. The guy paid almost $300,000 in taxes last year. That alone should purchase him some consideration!

Maybe an MLS team should hire him! If he's going to be deported from England, maybe we can get him here! Perhaps Bush and his regime can cancel the privileges of one Saudi Arabian who is planning to fund our demise while sipping tea in Crawford, Texas, to make way for a truly needy person who brings with him a huge tax footprint.

But, I digress, back to the matter at hand . .

Please consider signing this petition in support of his fight against deportation.

Then contact your local MLS team and see if they need a young up and coming midfielder.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Playing For Uncle Sam
David Tossell

Monday, December 17, 2007

Finder's Keepers Loser's Weepers

I hated that expression as a kid. It was usually used to taunt somebody who mislaid something temporarily. It's really not a very good philosophy to live by.

A contractor in Ohio (an adult) is claiming this as a reason that he should keep a hefty sum of money that he found while doing renovations at a client's home. The contractor, Bob Kitts, was doing demolition in the bathroom of Amanda Reece, who was paying him a fee to renovate her bathroom.

Those of you who have hired contractors do bathroom renovations know that this is an expensive proposition.

From what I've gathered, Reece offered Kitts a 10% finder's fee (a standard, if somewhat miserly offer). Kitts insists he deserves more, Reece won't budge. So, in order to ensure that neither of them get any money, Kitts has lowered the bar and brought in the lawyers.

Does the money belong to the homeowner? Yes. She bought the house and it's contents. The money was in the walls of the house she bought. It's hers.

Does the money belong the contractor who stumbled on the money? No. Unless you want a bunch of litigators to dissect every nuance of every argument, the answer is 'no.' Of course the litigators can interpret everything every which way -- and they will. And each argument will cost the litigants more money.

But, think for yourself: you are hired to work in my home, you find a box of money; whose is it? Or, think of it this way: you hire me to work in your home, and I find a box of money; whose is it?

I think it's the home owner's money. Reece wins hands-down in my book.

Now, Reece is an asshole for not being more generous, but that is a different issue. It is hers to do with as she sees fit. And she sees fit to give ten percent of it to the guy she was already paying. I have not read that Kitts is offering to surrender the money for the renovations, so there is no holier-than-thou situation here. He wants to be paid for his work AND get a cut of the home owner's money. I'm feeling the asshole word come forward again.

Reece is also an idiot. Why offer so little? Why not split the money? Or at least offer 25% (which probably would have been an acceptable offer before that asshole Kitts brought in the lawyers).

I predict that the lawyers (the ultimate assholes in cases like this) get more than half of the money, Reece doesn't get her bathroom renovated, and Kitts loses more money than he gains.

I am on the home owner's side, here. She's a jerk for being so stingy, but it's her house and her money, and she doesn't have to give Kitts a penny.

In fact, homeowners in the greater Cleveland area might want to ask themselves what Kitts would do if he was in their home and found something valuable. His reaction here leads me to believe he might keep what he finds (which I believe would be larceny), so you might not want to let him in your home.

Contractors in the greater Cleveland area might want to ask themselves if they would do business with Reece. If you go above and beyond the call of duty, chances are you'll be lucky to get a 'thank you.'

Still, I take Reece's side and hope the courts award her all the money, and force Kitts to pay all the legal bills.

Where will Reece ever find someone to finish her bathroom renovation?

Contractor, homeowner at odds over fortune found in bathroom walls, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Contractor, owner feud over hidden cash, AP article at Yahoo!

Dick Mac Recommends:

I Am America
Stephen Colbert

Friday, December 14, 2007

Punishment For Using Steroids In Baseball? None!

Former United States Senator George Mitchell, despite his storied past as a worker for peace and justice throughout the world, lowered himself by accepting from Major League Baseball the job of investigating the use of anabolic steroids and human growth hormone by baseball players.

Mitchell was the perfect person for the job, because as a politician he was sure to issue a report that admitted wrong but insisted that nobody be punished, hearkening back to the famous line by Richard Nixon about taking "all the blame and none of the responsibility."

All the exposed players have publicists who know how to manipulate the press, so there will be no admissions of guilt, and the last thing you will hear is adamant denial never followed-up with sworn testimony or recrimination.

Using steroids or any performance-enhancing substance is cheating.

Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades -- commissioners, club officials, the players' association and players -- shares to some extent the responsibility for the Steroids Era. There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on."

The media, critics and fans knew all along that there was a problem, but the owners turned a blind-eye to avoid the unpleasant truth (and consequences) and the players' union covered-up to protect its dues-paying members.

Almost one hundred players have been implicated in cheating.

Commissioner Bud Selig said "[Mitchell's] report is a call to action, and I will act."

Unfortunately, Mitchell says there should be no sanctions against offending players because the goal of his investigation was "to bring to a close this troubling chapter in baseball history and to use the lessons learned from the past to" eliminate the use of banned substances.

So, there will no punishment for the cheaters. They will all be allowed to cheat. Nice professional sport you've got there! Major League Baseball now ranks right behind the World Wrestling Federation in the list of professional entertainment organizations displaying sincerity and integrity.

What's most embarrassing about this is not that baseball is turning away from its responsibilities to clean-up its sport and punish the criminals and cheaters it has pegged for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame (Roger Clemens, et al.), but that Americans will continue to watch baseball and pay ridiculously high ticket prices to watch these losers cheat.

From what I can tell, there has not been an honest game of baseball in twenty years.

American consumers have to be the stupidest in the world. They will buy any lie you want to package them, and if it is wrapped in faux-patriotism, you can charge an extra premium.

If no action is to be taken against the cheating players, I hope that Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, and Orlando Cepeda (all deserving honorees) will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, because like baseball players and owners today, they have learned their lessons.

The List of New Players Accused of Using Banned Substances

Chad Allen
Mike Bell
Gary Bennett
Larry Bigbie
Kevin Brown
Alex Cabrera
Mark Carreon
Jason Christiansen
Howie Clark
Roger Clemens
Jack Cust
Brendan Donnelly
Chris Donnels
Matt Franco
Eric Gagne
Matt Herges
Phil Hiatt
Glenallen Hill
Todd Hundley
Mike Judd
David Justice
Chuck Knoblauch
Tim Laker
Mike Lansing
Paul Lo Duca
Nook Logan
Josias Manzanillo
Cody McKay
Kent Mercker
Bart Miadich
Hal Morris
Daniel Naulty
Denny Neagle
Jim Parque
Luis Perez
Andy Pettitte
Adam Piatt
Todd Pratt
Stephen Randolph
Adam Riggs
Armando Rios
Brian Roberts
F.P. Santangelo
Mike Stanton
Ricky Stone
Miguel Tejada
Ismael Valdez
Mo Vaughn
Ron Villone
Fernando Vina
Rondell White
Jeff Williams
Todd Williams
Steve Woodard
Kevin Young
Gregg Zaun

Previously Linked to Use of Banned Substances

Manny Alexander
Rick Ankiel
David Bell
Marvin Benard
Barry Bonds
Ricky Bones
Paul Byrd
Ken Caminiti
Jose Canseco
Paxton Crawford
Lenny Dykstra
Bobby Estalella
Ryan Franklin
Jason Giambi
Jeremy Giambi
Jay Gibbons
Troy Glaus
Juan Gonzalez
Jason Grimsley
Jose Guillen
Jerry Hairston Jr.
Darren Holmes
Ryan Jorgensen
Wally Joyner
Gary Matthews Jr.
Rafael Palmeiro
John Rocker
Benito Santiago
Scott Schoeneweis
David Segui
Gary Sheffield
Derrick Turnbow
Randy Velarde
Matt Williams

Major League Baseball is a joke. A bad joke.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Jose Canseco

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On Another Night in Las Vegas . . .

The story goes something like this (you concoct your version of the truth):

An African-American couple is in the back of a limousine in Vegas. There has been tension between them since the moment the limousine arrived. They exchange cross words. The man is aggressive, the woman is angry and scared, but hardly shrinking. They might be drunk, or stoned. They yell louder and louder at one another as the limousine pulls away with them 'safely' ensconced in the back. The fight becomes more animated and turns violent when one of them hits the other. Then the other hits back. Then it's a brawl. Eventually the limousine stops in one of those desolate areas that exist right in the middle of everything everywhere in that unincorporated part of the County called The Strip.

The woman flees from the limousine and vanishes into the night.

The story might end there.

Perhaps the couple reconcile, perhaps they never see each other again. If they are married, they will likely have a divorce, if they are simply lovers, there may be nothing more to say.

This particular couple is married. They have two sons. The woman has run into the night alone. With no money. No idea where she is going.

The man continues along with his night. Perhaps he spends some time looking for the woman, perhaps he doesn't.

The story might end there.

A lover's quarrel? Spousal abuse? Self-will fueled by drug abuse gone wild? None of it matters really. It's not an uncommon story. It's certainly not the stuff of movies or plays or even many books.

In this case the woman finds her way through a parking lot to a hotel, not a nice hotel, a modest hotel. She starts a new life.

The man moves along. He continues getting high. He continues with his life and eventually finds himself in prison.

The couple's paths cross only legally for divorce proceedings and an argument over money.

The woman makes good decisions. The man makes bad decisions.

It's not an uncommon story. It is played out every day here and there. Most everywhere.

This version of the story has reached a partial ending: Ike Turner died at his home in San Diego yesterday, December 12, 2007. He was 76.

There has been no statement from Tina Turner at the time of this writing. She lives in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, and Beverly Hills, California.

Rest In Peace, Ike Turner, November 5, 1931 - December 12, 2007

Ike Turner dies in San Diego at age 76

Again we see that what happens in Vegas never stays in Vegas.

Dick Mac Recommends:

The Ike & Tina Turner Story [3CD]
Ike & Tina Turner

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sometimes I Wish That There Were More Than 24 Hours In A Day . . .

Viva Las Vegas is one of my fave songs, and it's a toss-up between liking the Elvis version or the Dead Kennedys version more.

Las Vegas is a special place. Clark County is the fastest growing school district in the United States.

There are television commercials that brag that the things that happen in Las Vegas should stay in Las Vegas.

In so many ways, Las Vegas, Nevada, is different from all the other states nearby. It is nothing like California. Even when Las Vegas displays it's most hedonistic side, it will never be San Francisco. At its most humble it is nothing like Utah. It's part of the West, that great frontier. Nevada is near Colorado and Nebraska, and Wyoming, and Arizona, too. The West. The wild, wild, west. Cowboys and rustlers and gunslingers and ranchers. It's all so romantic.

I'm a fan of cowboys. 19th Century cowboys. I'm not so much a fan of post-combustion-engine cowboys, unless we are talking about astronauts, and that is a different conversation.

We've had a couple presidents in the past few decades who fancied themselves cowboys. Ronald Reagan and George W Bush come to mind. Neither of them were really cowboys. Not even close. Both liked to talk about guns, though.

Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, the two presidents who have done the most to destroy America and our standing in the world, took a lot of money from the gun lobby and in their silent acquiescence allowed more and more guns to be manufactured and distributed, usually through unregulated "gun shows" without saying much about gun control or the Second Amendment. Both men carried the great state of Nevada in both of their elections. Nevada is a red state.

Like other red states in the west, Nevada is reeling from an incident where some people with constitutionally-protected guns have shot some people who didn't happen to have their constitutionally-protected guns at hand.

According to The Associated Press:
Six young people were shot Tuesday after they stepped off a bus that had left a high school, with at least one critically hurt, in an attack just blocks from two elementary schools, authorities said.

Gunshots tore through the working class residential neighborhood in northeast Las Vegas just before 2 p.m., Officer Bill Cassell said.

This leaves Utah, Wyomnig, Kansas, and Arizona, as the remaining contiguous states that will likely enjoy a little bit of Second Amendment entertainment before our national celebration of the birth of the Christus is in full-swing.

I certainly hope there is no delay! We don't really want funerals on Christmas Day when all good GOP-supporting "christians" should have their guns locked away as they leave for church services where they can hear about the dangers of homosexuality and abortion, and the peril that the Second Amendment faces if a government official should actually mention that shootings are bad for your health. But, maybe these Second Amendment groupies should start packing heat at church! God knows that you're not safe in a house of worship anymore.

So, we've had constitutionally-protected shootings in Nebraska, Colorado, and Nevada in the past week. And at none of these Second Amendment orgies was a single ordinary citizen present with one of their constitutionally-protected handguns to exercise their Second Amendment right to defend themselves (from criminals who have constitutionally-protected guns).

So, if we are all supposed to have the constitutional right to keep automatic weapons and handguns (ostensibly to protect ourselves), why are they never available for protection during these incidents of crime?

And why do the children of the owners of these guns so often use the constitutionally-protected weapons to kill passersby?

At what point do we as a society ask: how many deaths by gunshot is too many? How many dead children will we need? Or, worse, how many shoppers must be killed trying to worship at the altar of the almighty dollar?


I can't wait to read the gun-lobby apologists' blogs this week.

Oh! And, sadly, what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas: 6 shot after exiting Vegas school bus

Dick Mac Recommends:

What's the Matter with Kansas?
Thomas Frank

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Who Needs Gun Control?

Who needs gun control? Not Americans, apparently.

Matthew Murray, 24, a white home-schooled young man from a deeply religious, upper middle-class "christian" household, spent 12-hours killing people in Colorado yesterday.

Having been previously kicked-out of a born-again mega-church, Murray exacted good, red-blooded American revenge by exercising his Constitutional right to bear arms.

In yet another example of the failure of Republican-oriented, so-called "christian" communities in America's heartland, Murray loaded-up his car with guns, drove to a Colorado seminary and killed a couple of people, then drove 80 miles and attacked a church, killing and wounding more.

In 12 hours and eighty miles, no citizens in possession of constitutionally-protected guns were able to put a stop to the rampage. I suspect that there was more than one gun in the possession of one person within a hundred feet of Murray during that half-day. Why didn't they stop him?

I thought one of the arguments against gun control was that citizens need to have guns to protect themselves against criminals like Murray. Yet again, none of them exercised their "constitutional right" to stop the criminal. Murray got away with murder.

So . . . another white suburban youngster of privilege takes a gun and kills. And I'm willing to bet the preacher in the church was complaining about homosexuals, abortionists, and immigrants, and praising the Second Amendment just before the real celebration of America started just inside the doors of his "house of worship."

Murray was eventually killed by security personnel.

The mainstream media is falling all over itself trying to get a bigger, wetter, better wet shot than the next, and I actually watched Larry King interview the security guard who killed Murray.

Have you ever killed anyone before?" He asked.

"No," the woman stated clearly.

"What was it like?"

WHAT WAS IT LIKE? You gotta be fucking kidding me? If he was Oriana Fallaci, it may have sounded more sincere, but it was Larry King and it sounded dirty! Asking a professional security person what it's like to kill a person? Larry King, as despicable as any of his brethren on Fox, is looking for a wet shot, this isn't news, it's pornography. And not good pornography, it's sleazy poorly-lit, borderline, barely-legal, rape pornography, with gun manufacturers as the boy and the American public as the unsuspecting victim about to get it where the sun don't shine.

Fortunately for the gun lobby, the climate and global-warming must really be addressed immediately, so they will be allowed to continue pumping-out millions of unneeded weapons that will be sold at "gun shows" where governmental regulations are circumvented. We do have to try to save the planet before we try to stop white suburbanites from killing each other.

But, I take comfort knowing that most gun deaths are committed by white, upper middle-class, young Republican suburbanites living in America's heartland. At least they are killing their own.

Thank God they are not here in Brooklyn killing Jews, immigrants, Catholics, and homosexuals! Let the Republicans and "christians" kill each other!

Those of us living in coastal urban America are safe from them.

But we are not safe from the gun lobby, the gun manufacturers, and the Democrats and Republicans who guarantee their profits (which profits are NOT guaranteed by the Constitution).

How many more children have to die from guns, and how many more Larry King porno-interviews will you have to suffer, before something is done about this public health and safety issue?

Man Committed Both Colo. Shootings, Police Say

Dick Mac Recommends:

I Am America
Stephen Colbert

Monday, December 10, 2007

Fun things to do while shopping

Overheard on the Internet:

If you're bored while shopping, or worse: while you are escorting someone who is shopping, try one of these many fascinating ideas to pass the time:

Get 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they aren't looking.

Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

Make a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women's restroom.

Walk up to an employee and say in an official voice, "Code 3 in Housewares - STAT!"

Go to the Service Desk and try to put a bag of M&M's on layaway.

Move a "CAUTION - WET FLOOR" sign to a carpeted area.

Set-up a tent in the camping department and tell other shoppers you'll invite them in if they bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department.

When a clerk asks if they can help you, begin crying and scream, "Why can't you
people just leave me alone?"

Look right into the security camera and pick your nose.

While handling guns in the hunting department, ask the clerk where the anti-depressants are kept.

Dart around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.

In the auto department, practice the "Madonna look" with different sizes of funnels.

Hide in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yell "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

When an announcement comes over the loud speaker, assume a fetal position and scream "OH NO! IT'S THE VOICES AGAIN!"

And last, but not least,

Go into a fitting room, shut the door, wait a while, then yell very loudly, "Hey! There's no toilet paper in here!"

Dick Mac Recommends:

I Am The President / Radio Free Nixon
David Frye

Friday, December 07, 2007

Better To Have Loved And Lost . . .

I have found three references to the origin of the quote: It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

Samuel Butler (though I don't know if they mean the poet, novelist or scholar), Saint Augustine (which I find unlikely), and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

It is an excellent philosophy to which I have always subscribed. I have had a lot of experience with it, and the following interpretation more accurately reflects my adult life experience:

Thanks to Jim for sending this along!

Dick Mac Recommends:

The Complete Poems
Walt Whitman

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gun Control

The best part of America's gun control laws is the lie that gun manufacturers have used to convince Americans that more gun control is unneeded. You know the argument: The Second Amendment.

The back-up argument is that if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. That Americans need to have guns to defend themselves.

Neither of these positions are valid, of course.

The Second Amendment states:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has led a four decade campaign to distort the meaning of this simple paragraph.

Each state has a well-regulated militia that can be used to protect the security of each state. Each state maintains its own regimens of national guard, which was formed in the early-20th century to organize all the states' militias. Each state is protected and offers that protection to the nation at-large. This is the spirit and letter of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment does not protect the sale of massive amounts of firearms to the public at-large. Nor should it.

The notion that each of us should possess a gun to protect ourselves from other with firearms is absurd.

When bad guys, insane people, and poorly-reared suburban children open fire on unsuspecting citizens, there never seems to be a single one of these gazillions of legally-protected guns in anyone's possession to protect anyone, and unsuspecting citizens die.

Yesterday, a wacko in Nebraska (yes, a red state) opened fire in a mall killing nine people, critically wounding two, and wounding three others before turning his legally-protected firearm on himself and taking his own life.

Nebraska is NRA territory. It's filled with Americans who consistently vote against their own self-interest to protect gun manufacturers, give tax breaks to those who need them least, and ship their children overseas to die for liars (whom they continually re-elect).

I am afraid that Nebraskans are too busy complaining about abortion, gay marriage, immigrants, and social welfare, to ever actually pay attention to the fact that gun manufacturers, supply-side economists, and evangelicals are not only destroying their nation but also putting them in harm's way.

One thing you can count on, however, is that Nebraskans will come out in record numbers, right after these latest victims are buried, to proclaim their support of all things NRA and all things GOP.

What's wrong with Nebraska? I mean, besides the dead bodies in the mall.

Nine dead in Nebraska mall shooting

Update 12/6/2007 3:30 P.M.

I share the following from a New York Times report:

In the flat voice of a professional accustomed to recounting grisly details, Chief Warren said that Mr. Hawkins fired about 30 shots from an AK-47-style semi-automatic weapon that the police said he stole from his stepfather. He had two magazines with 30 rounds each, the chief said, that 'had the capacity to fire multiple rounds in a short period of time.'

I can assure you that the founders of the United States of America, the drafters of the United States Constitution, and the writers of the Amendments did not intend for Mr. Hawkins' step-father to be guaranteed the right to keep an AK-47-style-automatic-weapon in his home.

Dick Mac Recommends:

A People's History of the United States
Howard Zinn

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Victor Rabinowitz, 1911-2007

Since I started posting on the internet some dozen years ago, or so, I have been using the tag line "The rantings of an unrepentant old leftist."

In 2002, I received an email from iwrabbi another New York City netizen I was getting to know asking "Did you read my father's book?"

I didn't know who his father was, and I answered "no."

I became friends with The Rabbi, and learned that his father was the Rabinowitz partner in the law firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman, P.C. I knew about the firm, because the Boudin was Leonard Boudin, father of Kathy Boudin, a member of the Weather Underground who was convicted in the early 1980s for her role in a Brinks armored car robbery and sentenced to 20-life.

But I didn't know about Victor Rabinowitz.

Victor Rabinowitz was a lawyer. A leftist. A father. A husband. An activist. He was many things. What connected me to him was that he was an author and he wrote a book titled "Unrepentent Leftist," which prompted his son to talk to me about being a leftist.

My only encounter with Victor was at his wife's memorial service, in 2005. Joann Grant was an activist, author, filmmaker, scholar and leftist in her own right. I watched Victor deliver a difficult eulogy. It is hard to eulogize those we love. His wife's memorial service was a remarkable event attended by many names from the Left, and some of them spoke.

My fondest memory of Victor that day was an exchange he had with publisher emeritus of The Nation magazine, Victor Navasky. The Nation is an important publication for those of us on the left, and New Yorkers have a particular attachment to the venerable institution. During Navasky's eulogy, he bragged that many people asked if he was 'Victor, Joann Grant's husband.' Everybody laughed politeley. When Victor Rabinowitz took the microphone, he turned to Navasky and bragged that many people asked if he was 'Victor, the publisher of The Nation.' Everyone laughed more heartily.

Victor Rabinowitz died on November 16, 2007. He was 96. He was an important American. He represented many people whose defense was unpopular. He took positions that were difficult to take at times that were hard for leftists.

His law firm represented Fidel Castro, Paul Robeson, Alger Hiss, Benjamin Spock, Daniel Ellsberg, Dashiell Hammett, the Church of Scientology, and Jimmy Hoffa. It has also represented the government of Chile under Salvador Allende, and the Cuban government since June 1960 and has been Cuba's only U.S. legal counsel in all U.S.-related matters. [He] was a prominent figure in the civil rights and liberties eras. He was one of the founders of the National Lawyers Guild in 1937 and . . . a member of the American Communist Party from 1942 until the early 1960s. He argued many cases before the United States Supreme Court. (see, Wikipedia entry)

My favorite story his that Victor became the lawyer for the Cuban government over a chess match with Che Guevara. Che was impressed by Victor. That's impressive.

In these days of right-wing populism, men like Victor Rabinowitz are hard to find, and I fear it could be many generations before another like him appears on the scene.

His death is a loss for all Americans.

The following obituaries have been published in the last weeks.

The Nation:
COUNSEL FOR THE LEFT: We note with great admiration the life of Victor Rabinowitz, champion of and lawyer to the left for nearly seven decades, who died at the age of 96 on November 16. His grandson, Michael Rabinowitz, who carries on in Victor's spirit as a political director at UNITE HERE, offered these words:

"My grandfather was someone who participated in a million (almost literally, it seems) good fights to make the world better--in organizations from the National Lawyers Guild to the American Labor Party in New York. He provided legal representation to unions from 1199 to the Teamsters, civil rights activists, the Black Panthers and left-wing governments like Salvador Allende's in Chile. Wherever there was a left, he was of it. While he knew the world was many shades of gray, he also knew there was a right and a wrong. And he relished taking a stand for right--even (perhaps especially) if it was unpopular. As I think about my grandfather, I will treasure the great personal memories--the baseball games, the free legal advice and the smile he'd form when he was about to make a particularly devastating argument. But what will live on, what he has passed on to me, is that it's not enough to believe the right rhetoric--you have to get your hands dirty. Victor was my moral and political compass, and that's something that will never die." Link.

The New York Times:
November 20, 2007
Victor Rabinowitz, 96, Leftist Lawyer, Dies
Victor Rabinowitz, a leftist lawyer whose causes and clients over nearly three-quarters of a century ranged from labor unions to Black Panthers to Cuba to Dashiell Hammett to Dr. Benjamin Spock to his own daughter, died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 96.

His son Peter announced the death.

For much of his career, Mr. Rabinowitz teamed up with the lawyer Leonard B. Boudin, who died in 1989, to defend clients like Julian Bond, Daniel Ellsberg, Paul Robeson, the Rev. Philip Berrigan, Rockwell Kent and Alger Hiss. The pair did not take the espionage case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, only because they were already defending someone else accused of being a spy.

The two lawyers won the new revolutionary government of Cuba as a client over a poolside chess game with Che Guevara at Havana's Hotel Riviera in 1960, their law partner, Michael Krinsky, said in an interview yesterday. Guevara won, then gave them Cuba's business. . . . More

International Herald Tribune:
Victor Rabinowitz, lawyer of leftist causes whose clients included Alger Hiss and Castro, dies
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
NEW YORK: Victor Rabinowitz, a New York lawyer who represented leftist causes and whose clients included Alger Hiss, the Black Panthers and Fidel Castro, has died, his longtime law partner said. He was 96.

Rabinowitz died at his Manhattan home on Friday, Michael Krinsky, said Tuesday.

In a 1996 memoir, "Unrepentant Leftist," Rabinowitz said that he had been a member of the American Communist Party from 1942 — when the United States and the Soviet Union were wartime allies — until the early 1960s because it seemed the best way to fight for social justice.

Born in Brooklyn, Rabinowitz began his career at the firm of Louis Boudin, a top labor lawyer deeply involved in radical politics. In 1944, Rabinowitz opened his own labor law practice, and Boudin's nephew, Leonard Boudin, joined him three years later. . . . More

Huffington Post:
Remembering Victor Rabinowitz: Legal Giant of the Left
Marjorie Cohn
Posted November 26, 2007 | 10:27 AM (EST)
Victor handled several landmark cases. In 1950, he challenged the provision of the Taft-Hartley Act that prevented unions from representing workers unless all union officers swore a loyalty oath that they were not members of or affiliated with the Communist Party. He lost the case 5 to 4 in the Supreme Court. His work in the Supreme Court case of United States v. Yellin was instrumental in the demise of the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). In 1964, in a 8 to 1 decision, the Supreme Court held in Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino that U.S. courts cannot review the legality of the Cuban nationalizations of U.S.-owned property under international law. Victor represented the government of Cuba in that case.

John Mage, prominent radical lawyer and Officer and Director of the Monthly Review Foundation, wrote a review of Victor's book, Unrepentant Leftist: A Lawyer's Memoir, for Monthly Review. Mage recalled his favorite Victor story: "In the Cuban bank litigation, Victor (representing the Cubans) was served with a discovery demand that he forwarded to the Cuban Finance Ministry, at that time headed by Che. Shortly afterwards he was in Havana for an anniversary celebration and was invited to accompany Guevara. Che directed Victor's attention to the confetti being thrown from an office tower and said 'remember that discovery demand? . . . There it is.'" More.

I highly recommend the article written by his son, Mark

The Rabbi Report
Victor Rabinowitz, 1911-2007

It's hard to eulogize those we love.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Unrepentant Leftist
Victor Rabinowitz

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lovable Canines

I am not a fan of dogs. I don't really have anything against them, I am allergic to them. So, I don't like being around them. And they can be loud, and that is especially irritating late at night. And dogs shit outside, and even though their owners are supposed to clean-up after the dogs, it is not uncommon to encounter a load of dog shit here and there.

I have many friends who adore dogs. But, dogs can be tedious, the way moss is tedious. Just plain dull, when not being excruciatingly unpleasant.

I know that some of my friends and acquaintances own dogs for companionship. They find it easier to build relationships with dogs than human beings. Understandable. Humans (myself included) can be difficult.

I know some people whose ownership of dogs is a control thing: they have enslaved the dog to perform in a certain manner, sort of as an extension of themselves. Either they had no children, or their children have abandoned them, or their children pay them no mind and the dog will always adore (and obey) them.

There are bad dogs. Some of my friends and relatives have bad dogs. There are good dogs, but you never hear about them, because good dogs are neither seen nor heard.

Bad dogs are everywhere. They are usually the product of being owned by bad humans. They are left to live outside (neglected), or are yelled at all the time (abused), or in dire need of affection (ignored), and they all do the same thing over and over again: they bark.

Dogs that are products of abuse, neglect or ignorance can be forgiven their derelictions. Their owners, however, should find a nice place out in the country where the dogs can bark without disturbing me.

I promise to stay away from the country if all the bad dogs go there, and if I visit the country, I promise not to complain about the dogs!

There are "experts" who have all kinds of theories about why dogs bark, and some go so far as to pretend they know what the dog is saying. There are all kinds of excuses, but I think that bad dogs bark too much and good dogs bark when they are supposed to bark.

I live in a very urban setting. It's quite probable that over a thousand people live on my square block. It's a nice neighborhood. There are plenty of trees and grassy areas. There are parks and playgrounds, schools and churches, grocery stores and restaurants, all in walking distance. And then there are the dogs. Dogs who shit and piss on the sidewalk, and worse, dogs who are left outside late at night to do what abandoned, neglected dogs do: bark. Bark incessantly. All night long. Then the barking turns to whining. Then the whining turns to whimpering. And by that point I am wishing the dog would expire. Not because I wish it ill, but because it would probably be better off dead than living in those conditions. I know I would be better off if dogs like this were dead.

I know, I know, you say I should called the ASPCA so abused/neglected/ignored sweet little harmless puppies can be removed and sent to better homes. I have no interest in getting involved with the puppy police -- it's hard enough dealing with the people police who are supposed to keep the criminals in check. These dogs are fucked! Permanently. No amount of love and care are going to make these now-maladjusted canines anything but loud, barking, confused, dogs.

It's sad.

But it's true.

Cesar Millan, star of the Dog Whisperer television show, is one of the experts who talks to dogs, listens to dogs, and interprets what they are trying to say.

I think the guy's insane, but maybe he is onto something:

Curb Out-of-Control Barking
Sunday, December 02, 2007

A common problem canine caretakers face is uncontrollable or obsessive barking. Here are a few suggestions for handling it.

Follow through. If you give your dog a look, a sound, or a physical correction to tell him to stop his barking, he might stop for an instant, wait until you relax ... then go right back to barking. The dog's body relaxes, but his brain stays on alert! So be patient. Wait until your dog gives you complete and total submission before you go back to what you were doing. More.

He goes on to offer more ideas and suggestions. He might be correct. So, I think he should take all the dogs out to the country and work on his theories.

The mere notion of having a dog in the city is a form of abuse. No dog should be cooped-up in a 400 sq ft apartment all day, and walked for fifteen minutes each morning and evening. Homicidal maniacs and serial rapists on death row are treated better than that!

I have a good suggestion: ban all non-assistance dogs from the city. Dogs for the blind and deaf and others living with physical limitations can stay in the city. Everyone else: out! Bring your dog out to the country where it can run around and breathe. It's bad enough we keep humans in the city, there is no good reason to keep dogs.

I know my position is unpopular, but I think we would all be better off if dogs lived in the country.

And as for the wacko "experts" who want us to understand what the dogs are telling us: if you really cared about dogs, you would work to move them out of cities and into the country. Any "expert" who thinks dogs should remain in an urban setting is expert only in absurdity.

Someday remind me to tell you the story about the American lawyer working late at a law firm in London who sent a global message to an entire firm suggesting that unwanted dogs should not be allowed too close to Chinese restaurants. If you think my remarks are unpopular, you can imagine how this guy's remarks were greeted!

There's gonna be sorrow, try and wake-up tomorrow.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Diamond Dogs - 30th Anniversary Edition
David Bowie

Monday, December 03, 2007

"That's a great glove . . . "

It is winter-y in Brooklyn. It snowed over the weekend and things looked pretty on the way to church Sunday morning.

My daughter was very excited and we managed to get pix of her playing in the snow.

I have a blanket in the car for her, and now the scraper/brush is tucked next to the front seat.

I left the house without my hat, but was happy to have my scarf and gloves. This is my first year starting the wintery weather with gloves from the previous year. I managed to keep a pair together for an entire year! There's nothing worse than losing a single glove, because there is now one glove in the possession of a person who cannot use it and another glove in the possession of someone who also cannot use it. And for some reason I have had difficulty throwing away single gloves in the past.

My wife doesn't let me keep them now, and when I met her there was a box of "Winter Things" that included more than one single glove missing a mate. I did not move those single gloves into our apartment when we married.

Am I holding on to them thinking their mate will magically appear? Is it possible to find it? Can I backtrack and locate a missing glove? (I never have.)

Jennifer Gooch, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, seems to have asked herself similar questions about missing gloves. Unlike me, however, she has taken action by creating a website that displays the gloves she finds, in hopes of reuniting them with their owner.

If I have one person find their glove, then the entire thing is totally worth it," she said.

Under the title men's black leather glove, Strip District, On November 20, 2007, "shaun" found a glove posted on the site that looks very much like a glove I lost in 2003! I know it is unlikely that it is my glove, since I have not been in Pittsburgh since the mid-1970s and I'm quite certain I left mine in Manhattan, in the back of a taxi, on a warm Winter night.

I miss those gloves. They were very warm, and lined, and soft on the outside. I never did find a similar replacement pair. I've been using lined leather gloves ever since. I generally choose cashmere lining, so they are comfy, but I think I want to switch back to the suede outers, because the leather gloves are very uncomfortable if I touch my face.

Two women are alleged to be starting a New York City version of the site some day soon. I'll bet that will become a rather overwhelming project rather quickly! I see upwards of three stray gloves per day during my ten-mile, one-hour commute. I would not know how to extrapolate the numbers, but I'll bet there's at least a hundred thousand lost gloves in New York City each day.

Visit the site that started it all:

Read an article from Associated Press: Web site seeks to reunite gloves, owners

In February, 2002, I lost a beautiful black silk scarf. I left it in the back of a black sedan on my way home for an after-party following a show at Carnegie Hall. I was wearing a tuxedo, and the black scarf was a wonderful accessory that night. I liked that scarf, it was at my mother's funeral, and lived with me in London. It may have visited Morocco with me, too. So . . . if anyone starts, please find my scarf!

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