Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty

Sunset, Healdsburg, March 2007
I thought I’d feel a little better about the news today that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted on four of the five perjury counts against him.

Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to fall, most likely in the final hours of the disaster that is the Son of Bush Presidency, when he issues his midnight pardons. Part of me is pissed off that no one was charged for the Federal Crime of leaking the name of a covert C.I.A. agent for no other discernible reason than political revenge.

But I do rejoice in the fact that over the course of the trial, the inner workings of the vice president’s office were revealed in all its gory, disgusting, childish detail. Turns out Dick Cheney is a shallow, megalomaniac who just doesn’t like being criticized, especially when his lies are brought out in the open.

Cheney has not evolved since high school, preferring to back up his lies with more, different lies and then when challenged, instead of going after his accuser, he attacks his accuser’s wife. Do we need anymore proof that our vice president is a pussy?

Still, it's a big bummer for Libby, whose defense was that he "forgot" and who faces up to 20 years in prison though as a first-time offender will likely get far less. And despite the damning revelations about the conduct of the White House regarding the leak of Valarie Plame's identity, his falling on his sword seems to have been kept his Bush pals out of the slammer. What's one guy in Club Fed when it means the rest go free?

(Speaking of which, a writer I know suggested that Libby change his nickname as it might be a little bit soft for where he's going.)

I'm looking forward to the civil case filed by Plame and her husband Joseph C. Wilson with the hope that if justice can't be done, maybe Cheney's ill-gotten Haliburton money will end up in the Wilson's bank account.

And finally, kudos to Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who according to almost any nonpartisan legal expert, put on a perfect case. Wonder what would have happened if he had been running the O.J. trial?

Ron, Ron, Ron Around

The best commentary I heard about Ron Artest yesterday was from S.O.L.’s longtime buddy and brilliant sports talk guy Rod Brooks, who co-anchors the noon-to-three show on the Bay Area’s KNBR AM-680. In the days preceding his arrest on domestic abuse charges, the frequently troubled Sacramento Kings’ forward showed up on court with “Kings” carved into his haircut. “Hey Ron, Ron,” Brooks said on Monday, “Nineteen ninety-five called – it wants its hairstyle back.” Ding!

There’s really nothing more you can say about these athletes who keep getting into trouble. The sports world has covered the bases from being plainly indignant to offensively defensive to offering enough psychoanalysis for guys like Artest and Pacman Jones, you’d think a shrink’s license is a requirement to be a sportswriter. One exception is this commentary we found online by Gregory Moore, managing editor of the San Antonio Informer, which is just, well, smart.

My take is not a new one and that is that it would be nice to see real punishment for guys who stray -- and also help for those, like Artest, that clearly have a problem. Traditionally, it's all about keeping your guys physically healthy so they can perform on the court, but maybe paying more attention to their well-being upstairs (mentally I mean), might make the first part a lot easier. Let's face it, you have to be majorly fucked up to risk losing millions of dollars (often in guaranteed sums), not to mention the opportunity to play a game for a living.

I know some of Artest’s former coaches and a couple of guys who played ball with him. They all report he’s a standup guy, if maybe a little bit “different.” (I love that word, don't you?) Their point is he's not the type of guy who would stand out in a room as the troublemaker. Plus he plays hard and he plays defense, which is rare in today’s NBA. In fact, I think David Stern put a limit on defenders because as far as I can tell there’s only one on each team (Atlanta, Portland and Memphis being the exceptions – they have none). I was willing to go along with Artest being the Misunderstood Athlete of the Week until he got nailed for mistreating his dogs. Right there, that’s when the honeymoon ended for S.O.L.

And now this. Charges are just charges until proven, and it wouldn't be the first time that an athlete was falsely accused of anything, but things are looking bleak for Artest, who's infamy is already written in stone, as a major player in one of the worst on-court incidents in the history of sports.

I certainly don't want to make light of these current charges -- especially in a country of men who think hitting women is okay (enough of them do it to make me think it's learned, societal behavior). But, if the story is true and the woman Artest pushed around threw a pot at his Hummer and broke the windshield, we'd have to come down on her side. If there's one thing the world could use more of it's women who fight back and if there's one thing this world could use a lot less of, it's over-sized, gas-guzzling S.U.V.'s. Oh yeah, and women beaters. You go, girl.

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