Reader Mail

Abscam Scoundrel Time

Murtha has his defenders. Also: What's in a fire name? Dancing Around. Fruitcake's ultimate recipe. Plus much more.

10.2.06

Send to Kindle

SHOW ME THE MONEY
Re: David Holman's Murtha and the FBI: The Director's Cut:

I'm curious. Why was this brought up 26 years after the fact and immediately before an election? This doesn't sound right at all.
-- Terri Sprague

Here we go. Throw the dirt, hope it sticks. Shame on you!!!!
-- Rita

Murtha and the FBI -- the scent of corruption is overwhelming. Skunks like Murtha seem to know that no matter how their stench reveals them, no one will come close enough to trap them. After reading this article, I have to have my computer screen fumigated.

Fifty thousand bucks! Souls are sold cheap in D.C.
-- Diane Smith
San Francisco, California

If you are really interested in your country, you should write stories about scandals occurring in the country and Iraq at this very minute. Oh, I forgot that's not your objective.
-- Wes Rahn

How did you get so lucky to hire this Patriot? With his enthusiasm, I'm surprised you convinced him not to pursue his real dream of a "military career." I'm sure he's disappointed he's not fighting in Iraq and has to spend his time attacking a Coward like Murtha.
-- Arthur Nieto

Hmm, Murtha and the FBI: The Director's Cut?

Wow. (yawn)

Yup, pretty special, alright.

Must be pretty slow at the American Speculator these days.
-- Russell Hodin

Bottom line: when you cut through all the could-have's and might-have been's in your article about Murtha (who is obviously now a target of the conservatives) - he could have accepted a bribe, he had ample opportunity to accept a bribe, and yet, as proven by the evidence you yourselves submit, did not accept a bribe.

Are you next going to run an investigation to find out "when he stop beating his wife"?
-- John Dougherty

More people need to know this, please let me know how can I help.
-- Oscar

Guess the Reps are really running scared. This is a pitiful attempt. You are pitiful. But worst of all, you are UNAMERICAN!
-- S.E. Keays

I was dismayed to read the rather blatant anti-Murtha piece today. Innuendos and misleading statements notwithstanding, there was not much new news here for anyone who is at all familiar with the Abscam scandal.

Interestingly enough, I did note that the author failed to mention any of the Republican Members of Congress who were involved/implicated in this fiasco, such as former Rep. Richard Kelly of Florida, who was also convicted for his role in Abscam, or then Sen. Larry Pressler of South Dakota -- who, one could argue, received an even greater "pass" on potential prosecution than the author would have us believe occurred with Rep. Murtha. (At the time, Mr. Pressler was caught on tape suggesting the "Sheiks" make a rather large donation to his Presidential campaign committee.)

I try hard not to be too cynical as I get older, but one has to wonder if the timing of this story would have anything to do with the active, principled opposition of Mr. Murtha (a decorated Marine veteran) to the disastrous war in Iraq.

And, if you are going to sling mud, make sure you get all your facts straight. Too numerous to list, I will simply point out one of the most obvious factual errors -- the New Jersey Senator caught-up in this illegal, Big Brother entrapment farce was Harrison A. Williams, not "W."

Perhaps a Freudian slip?
-- J.H. Mathews

Dave Holman replies:
Mr. Mathews wants to have it both ways: I smeared Murtha and we knew it all along. That contradiction aside, he faults me for not naming Republicans caught in Abscam's net. The omission was not intended to conceal their involvement. They simply were not part of the Murtha narrative.

As for the factual errors, I will wait to see more than an incorrect middle initial.

FIRED UP
Re: Reid Collins's By Any Other Name:

A postscript to Reid Collins' piece on wildfire names: I was news editor at the Santa Barbara newspaper in 1990 (Please, no jokes about the current owner's reign of error) when a devastating brushfire in the Santa Ynez Mountains tore through town one late June afternoon. The Santa Barbara County Fire Department initially dubbed it the "Paint Fire" because the arson ignition point was by a nearby -- I kid you not -- discarded empty paint can.

By coincidence, the fire swept through the tiny Painted Cave community a little over a mile below, pretty much wiping it out before sweeping into Santa Barbara. In all, the blaze killed one woman and destroyed nearly 450 homes, dozens of apartment complexes and numerous other buildings.

The lead reporter insisted on using Paint Fire as the description until the second-day story when we discovered the reason WHY the SBFD was stuck on that name. "Look," I argued, "that's an arbitrary name that is only going to confuse our readers who already know the fire started adjacent to Painted Cave. We'll look like idiots if we insist on using it. We're the newspaper of record, we're calling it the Painted Cave Fire."

The reporter protested that the TV stations were going with Paint Fire and that it would just sow more confusion. The executive editor sided with me, "Painted Cave Fire" went in the paper that night and, low and behold, after the paper came out the next day, all of the TV graphics were quickly replaced by "Painted Cave Fire."

Knowing this lame line of reasoning, when I first heard about the Day Fire, I immediately wondered whether it was shorthand for "Labor Day Fire."

That said, as a Southern Californian who is all-too familiar with wildfires, I honestly don't care what the fire agencies name these things as long as their full attention is focused on fighting them. Fortunately for all of us, that IS the case. The media need not be so lazy, however.
-- Bill Macfadyen
Santa Barbara, California

THE FEAR FACTOR
Re: Christopher Orlet's Blame it on Baghdad:

Reading Christopher Orlet demolish critics of the Iraq War with logic was enjoyable. But, Orlet may be overlooking the difference between America's war record and America's war in Iraq. We are hated around the world because we're feared around the world and the reason is we are a proven nation of warriors with a bloody track record. Given what we've done in the past, we're powerful militarily and unpredictable -- what Luca Brasi was in The Godfather, "a very scary guy." Even our allies, France and Germany, including the British as well, fear us for what we might do.

Ironically, most Americans see themselves not as fierce warriors, but as peaceable, mind your own business, just want to live in harmony with our neighbors kinds of folks. However, once enraged and at war there is almost no limit to the damage we can do. Don't believe it, think that's hyperbole? Go back to August, 1945 and consider the 120,000 deaths and the 70,000 wounded we inflicted on the citizens of Hiroshima. A few days later, we repeated the performance on Nagasaki with similar results.

And why didn't we drop the A-bomb on Tokyo first, the foremost city of Japan? Because in March, 1945, we had firebombed Tokyo leaving 110,000 dead, 2 million people homeless and turned 15 square miles of the city into burned out rubble. WWII saw many massacres, but nothing on the scale of Americans at war. And how many American servicemen died while inflicting 250,000 deaths on the two Japanese cities? The answer is none, not one casualty.

We developed, with our British allies, what Emperor Hirohito called this "new and most cruel bomb" and we were readying a third bomb when Japan accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. And what demands did we make of Japan through the Potsdam Declaration? Billions in reparations, permanent colonies in the Japanese home islands or maybe millions of Japanese working as slave laborers? Actually, we demanded that Japan accept freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of thought. We also promised not to leave Japan until they had deposed their military leaders and elected new leaders who supported peace and governed according to the "freely expressed will of the Japanese people." Face it, we're very good at war, but make pathetic conquerors.

Yet, in the end, we helped the Japanese give a 2,000 year old culture a total makeover. Land reform, labor union reform, the break-up of state run monopolies, an independent news media and the vote for Japanese women. What may be more scary to our enemies than our war making ability is what we do to their culture afterwards. If you're thinking that was then but we wimped in Vietnam and the first Gulf War, consider that we no longer make total war using weapons that have evolved greatly in 60 years. We pull our punches and sacrifice our young men and women in the military for humanitarian reasons - and we're hated for that as well.

I think our war in Iraq constantly reminds our enemies and our domestic critics of what an incredibly violent people could do, but chooses not to do. And, the options aren't pretty from the enemy's perspective - potential massive annihilation and your culture is reconstructed afterwards. Or, the slow but peaceful erosion of your traditional culture by spreading Western ideas and values. Fear and the resulting hate on the part of the terrorists is very understandable. From our perspective however, being Luca Brasi may in the end save lives, both ours and theirs.
-- Patrick Skurka
San Ramon, California

FLAW DETECTIVE
Re: Rich Smith's letter (under "Slurpees") in Reader Mail's Patterns of Submission:

Mr. Smith's proposed answer is bold and partly satisfying, but has one big flaw. The truly dedicated anti-McCarthyists were motivated by the conviction not merely that McCarthy's methods were despicable, but that having been a Communist was not really a bad thing.
-- Ed Ahlsen-Girard

WELL INFORMED
Re: Cllr. James Butler's letter Reader Mail's (under "Speaking for Ken") Patterns of Submission and Hal Colebatch's Imam Livingstone, I Presume?:

With reference to your readers' letter "Speaking for Ken" Re: Hal Colebatch's "Imam Livingstone, I Presume?" The honourable Cllr. James Butler Labour Group Press Officer Newham, London in my view not so much defends Mayor Livingstone (quote: "I'm afraid the article is badly informed in most respects"), but the so-called planning system that pervades this country. I wonder whether Mr. Butler truly believes his statement on the ability of planners to protect cultures, landscapes, architecture, people's lives and heritage, etc., etc. Judging by the debacle that has resulted from the Deputy Prime Minister's demolition plan on northern neighbourhoods (since successfully challenged), on which planners all but acquiesced, possibly as a consequence of said department's well reported intimidatory tactics, any future planning decision on the proposed mosque will likely acquiesce to political demands rather than due diligence given the huge levels of overseas funding this whole project will attract to the area, and despite the undoubted associated bigger picture controversy. Public confidence in the country's due planning process, where government is party, is practically zero. So who's kidding whom here? Interestingly, why is Councillor Butler so afraid? By the way, good article Mr. Colebatch.
-- Graham Constable
Oxford, England

WHAT'S GOING ON?
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Dirty Dancing:

Great article, just one quibble from a young person. This dirty dancing, lewd as it may be, is not intended to simulate anal sex. Even that is still a bit far out for most teens. While only a detail possibly, getting such details correct can lend credibility to adults when they confront their children about "what's going on."
-- Nathaniel
Sacramento, California

I see these type essays often enough, Older women complaining about how younger women dance. What is fascinating now is that the whole world knows that Lisa equates rear position sexuality with anal sex. How the two equate in one person's mind does not require to much speculation, but I am surprised you all let her broadcast this to the world.
-- Don
Portland, Oregon

Lisa is one of your more intelligent and coherent contributors. Cherish her.
-- Steve Dufort
North Coventry, Pennsylvania

RAIN CHECKS
Re: Todd Stoffer's letter (under "Kicked Off") Reader Mail's Patterns of Submission:

Just a point of information for Mr. Stoffer. The City of New Orleans did not pay for the renovations to the Superdome post-Katrina. The entire nation did. The work was largely paid for with federal relief dollars, the bulk of which went for upgrades to the facility.

If local citizens are willing, or stupid, enough to use public funds to construct sports facilities, in their communities, for multi-million dollar corporations, that is fine. But I should not have to subsidize a sports franchise in New Orleans when I live in South Florida.

The Florida Marlins desperately want a new baseball stadium. I wonder if the City of Cleveland would float a bond issue to build one in Miami for the local team. Think about it.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

IN DEEP FUNK
Re: Wade Smith's letter (under "Choice Words") in Reader Mail's Patterns of Submission:

On that seemingly notorious subject of pro-abortion vs. pro-CHOICE, check your Funk and Wagnell; the woman can choose to have an offspring. Many do.

And, again, I resent you (or anyone else) attempting to tell my daughters what they can or cannot do with their bodies/lives.

That might be termed kinda presumptuous.

The point was, simply, that on a list of priorities, the issue(s) of abortion, gays, some Republican congressman in California wanting to ban RU-485, the "Morning After" pill -- and another pandering to (presumably) the extreme moralists on the right with an anti-Internet wagering law? And remember, it was those "morally superior" people who succeeded for decades in keeping contraception away from the public -- something that James Dobson's buddy Randall Terry was quoted as saying he'd do today, if he had the power. Thank God he doesn't. People like him/them are, to me, most repugnant!

Those sanctimonious ploys sometimes seem designed to take the attention away from the really important stuff: closing our borders, the growth in spending/government, and fighting terrorism and the like.

'Nuff said.
-- Frost

FRUITCAKE INGREDIENTS
Re: Mike Showalter's letter (under "Still Smiling") in Reader Mail's Shakespeare Rehabilitated:

Regarding "Door Stop" and Mike Showalter's chivalrous off to hold the door for me as I de-plane with my fruitcake "ingrediments" (as Pogo used to say) - first let me say it doesn't take as strong a gag reflex to live in South SF as in SF. I will never know how this "city" came to be named so. We are in the most northern part of San Mateo County. When you fly into SFO if seated on the right side of the plane you see a mountainside reading in bold white letters "SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO -- THE INDUSTRIAL CITY." Early in the1900s it was most noted for meat packing plants, pig farms and turkey farms, as well as speak-easies, bordellos and other classy businesses. I nested here because I worked at United Airlines and I like a short commute.

OK, Mike and the shrinking universe of fruitcake lovers -- here is the recipe.

Blame TAS if you never see it.

BLACK FRUITCAKE
This recipe is of English origin -- also known as Dark Fruitcake and
English Fruitcake

1/4 pound candied citron
1/4 pound shelled walnuts or pecans
1/8 pound candied lemon peel
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/8 pound candied orange peel
1/2 tsp mace
1/2 pound candied cherries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 pound candied pineapple
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 pound golden raisins
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 pound seedless raisins
1 cup sugar
1/4 pound currants
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup dark rum, cognac, sherry
5 eggs
Madeira (I use cognac)
1 tablespoon milk (yep, that's right)
1/4 pound blandched shelled almonds
1 tsp almond extract

The day before, sliver the citron, lemon and orange peel into very thin strips; cut cherries in half and the pineapple in thin wedges. Set aside. Pick over the raisins and currants to eliminate stems. Add your alcohol of choice. If it's my choice, it's cognac. Chop the almonds and walnuts or pecans coarsely (I use pecans). Set them aside, too.

The next day, prepare the pan(s) Grease a 10 inch tube pan, or two bread pans measuring 9x5x3 inches. Line with brown paper (I've never substituted parchment because it is not as thick)

Now: Mix 1/2 cup of the sifted flour with all the fruits and nuts in a large bowl (this is to keep it from clumping up) Sift remaining flour with spices and baking soda. Cream butter until soft, then work in sugar and brown sugar, a little at a time until mixture is smooth. Stir in the eggs, milk, almond extract and finally the flour mixture. (THIS IS REALLY JUST THE GLUE THAT HOLDS THE FRUIT TOGETHER) So, pour it over the fruits and nuts and work together with your hands (there is no other way) until batter is well mixed. Lift the batter into pan or pans and press it down firmly to make a compact cake. Bake in a 275 degree oven -- (that's two hundred seventy-five) A tube pan will take 3-1/4 hours. Two bread pans, each holding 1/2 the batter, will take 2-1/4 hours. Remove cakes from oven, let stand half an hour, then turn out onto racks. Peel off the brown paper VERY carefully.

To age: allow at least four weeks. Wrap each cake in several layers of cheesecloth, well soaked in cognac. Place in airtight container, such as a large crock or a kettle with a tight lid. Open it now and then -- and stand back -- the spirits will move you. Moisten the cheese cloth again but don't overdo it. The cakes should be firm, not soft, at the end of the aging period.
-- Diane Smith
San Francisco, California

JUST WIN
Re: Jeffrey Lords' Act of Submission:

The fatal blow to the Democrats was not, as Lord says, the divisive debate over Vietnam in Chicago in 1968. The fatal blow was the failure of President Johnson to follow a strategy to win the war in Vietnam. The American people tolerate war, as long as it's being won. (Well, except for Dave Dellinger, but he is -- or was -- that rare bird with unshakeable convictions.) LBJ's strategy in Vietnam created an unwinnable war, and that was intolerable. As Bush has done likewise in Iraq, we can expect a repetition of history.
-- Dean Blobaum
Chicago, Illinois

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article