Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Rafsanjani Decries Rentboy

"We expect better from a great Satan", said former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani when speaking to reporters yesterday in Tehran. "These are the actions of an average Satan."

Modified Image: Reuters,, AOL
Friday, February 11, 2005

Editor & Publisher, today, published an interview with the infamous “Jeff Gannon”.
Regarding the classified memorandum, that “Gannon” referenced in an October 28, 2003 interview with Ambassador Joseph Wilson, identifying Valerie Plame as a NOC or nonofficial cover operative for the Central Intelligence Agency, “Gannon” told E&P:

I never said I had it or had seen it.” But when asked if he had in fact seen it, he declined to say…"I am not going to speak to that. It goes to something of a nature I do not want to discuss.

A transcript of “Gannon’s” Wilson interview found in the Men’s News Daily archive shows “Gannon”, in his longest question, saying to Wilson:

An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?

If Mr. “Gannon” did not possess or read the top-secret memo it is certainly clear from his question that, at the very least, the memo was described to him in detail.
Bob Novak in his infamous July 14, 2003 column did not directly reference a memo:

Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report.

E&P could have advanced this story by asking “Gannon” the identity of the individual who had provided the, still, top-secret information from the memorandum.
It would also have been interesting to ask Mr. “Gannon” if he had discussed the memo’s classified information with others, at Talon or elsewhere, prior to the Wilson interview.
Regarding his role as a “reporter”, E&P wondered, “If anyone in the White House staff or leadership planted, offered, or suggested questions”.
Curiously, “Gannon” replied:

Absolutely not…I only met Karl Rove once, at the media Christmas party at the White House in 2003. I was waiting in line for my 'grip and grin' [photo] with the president and he passed by. I introduced myself to him, he said hello, and he moved on…The only connection I had with Scott McClellan was when he got married and I sent him a card and left it at the press office for him.

“Gannon” seemed to somewhat contradict White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s statement from yesterday’s briefing regarding knowledge of the “Gannon/Guckert” dual identity.
E&P says:

Although Press Secretary Scott McClellan and others at the White House knew that Gannon was not his real name, they always referred to him by that name, he said in the interview.

Here is the relevant portion of yesterday’s briefing:

Q: Were you aware that he had another name?

MR. McCLELLAN: Was I aware? I had heard that. I had heard that, yes, recently.

Q: But did you know during all this time that he really wasn't Jeff Gannon?

MR. McCLELLAN: I heard at some point, yes -- previously.

“Gannon” also described to E&P the curious and relatively easy procedure he used every time he entered the White House to acquire a temporary day pass; passes he described as not carrying the name of the bearer:

I requested clearance each day via an e-mail to the White House Press office the night before. I gave them my professional name, my legal name, my social security number, my address and phone number, and the news service where I worked…They never asked me for more information…I would go to the guard gate and show my driver's license with my legal name, and they looked me up on the computer and let me in.

A parenthetical remark by E&P also, curiously, implied they were unsuccessful in their web searches for “Gannon” material:

An E&P search of online archives at MichNews turned up no articles by Gannon, and a Google search turned up no Gannon articles at either MichNews or Frontiers of Freedom.

Two days ago I located a 400+ item archive of “Gannon” material at the Men’s News Daily site and this search engine is still providing links to “Gannon”-bylined articles such as his interview with Ambassador Wilson.

Image:, Editor & Publisher
Snap, Crackle, Gannon!

Remember how Condi had her bad hairdo in a twist recently when she felt the great Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was “impugning” the soon-to-be-Secretary’s truthometer?

Memo to Karl: Any ideas on how to sneak shill Senators onto Congressional Committees? Oh, wait…Brownback, Thune, Cornyn, Bunning, Chambliss, Santorum, Craig, Isakson and the aptly named, never mind.

Yeah, that impugning stuff can be rough.
As we rapidly approach the White House hard pass-less 3rd anniversary of this humble blog, I’m reminded these days of the personal frustrations with the media and Bush II America which fueled the creation of this attempt to make the post September 11th knot in my stomach go away.
Frustrations that, I think, were best summed up by an exhausted Jason Bourne at the ending to The Bourne Supremacy and posted in this space in the early hours of this past morning under Jasper Johns’ evocative 1958 American flag:

When what you love gets taken from you, you want to know the truth.

I think many of us, these days, can relate to Jason’s simple truth.
As I said yesterday and as is evidently more clear this morning, GannonGate has, indeed, entered a new phase in what promises to be a multi-pronged (pardon the expression) scandal with a historic new element and an expansion of the ramifications first really noted in the run up to Campaign 2004; a scandal noticed and investigated first by ordinary citizens enabled and empowered through modern digital technology and a bit of programming generally referred to a self-publishing software or blogs.
The big boys in media and governmental power seem very nervous as Friday 211 dawns with GannonGate occupying a meaty chunk of major media Gray Lady space:

Democrats in Congress are pressing for investigations into how a Washington reporter who used a pseudonym managed to gain access to the White House and had access to classified documents that named Valerie Plame as a C.I.A. operative.

Meanwhile, at what used to be the Washington Post, Da Nile ain’t just a river in Egypt as they run to the cozy blankie of a think tank with this quote from Matthew Felling, media director for the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs:

The blogosphere "is the international waters of the Internet age -- a lawless area where anything goes…rumors the mainstream media responsibly ignores."

Did that sink in to all of you “anonymous assertions” asserters?
The dude’s “nonpartisan” and willing to be quoted on the record so seems to say the pouting scrunched-up face of Kay Graham’s legacy.
Why it’s not like “Jeff Gannon” and Karl Rove shared a mysterious mentor.
Oh, wait:

[“Jeff”] and Karl Rove seem to share a mentor -- a largely under-the-radar wingnut named Morton Blackwell.

Yup, nervousness seems to be today’s Washington-New York power axis watchword if I’m any judge of Aaron Brown's large doughface.
But, don’t take my word for it.
If you are endowed with broadband and a large buffer (wink, wink) watch Aaron’s interview with AmericaBlog’s John Aravosis where Aaron, in a tizzy over Gannon/Guckert’s privacy rights to material he (Gannon/Guckert) self-published is trampled by Aravosis’ simple truth:

How did somebody [Gannon/Guckert] get this kind of access? I think the White House is behind this.

As I wait for an inventive web head to find the truth to Gannon/Gunkert claim of “700,000 daily” unique visitors to Talon News, I think it’s wise to consider the words of White House Press Secretary Scotty McClellan:

Where do you draw the line?

Where indeed Mr. McClellan as even more bloggy types are remembering Craig T. Spence?
Media Matters has Windows Media and Quicktime files of Gannon/Guckert's February 10 Wolf Blitzer interview and David Brock's Court TV appearence.

Image: AOL, Google
3 Flags, Jasper Johns, 1958

When what you love gets taken from you, you want to know the truth.
--Jason Bourne

Thursday, February 10, 2005
Tick, tick, tick

GannonGate, today, enters a new phase.
The GOPUSA, Talon News and Jeff Gannon web sites have been freshly scrubbed, although a search of the Men’s News Daily site is still producing 412 Gannon bylined articles, as better minds than my own parse the mystery reporter’s published output.
Yesterday, as guilty digital memories were being erased, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) demanded, in a letter to the President, an explanation of Gannon/Guckert’s lengthy and curious presence:

Despite the fact evidence shows that "Mr. Gannon" is a Republican political operative, uses a false name, has phony or questionable journalistic credentials…and according to several web reports, may have ties to the promotion of the prostitution of military personnel…I am asking you to please explain to the Congress and to the American people how and why the individual known as "Mr. Gannon" was repeatedly cleared by your staff to join the legitimate White House press corps?

While Rep. Slaughter waited for her reply, the Washington Post’s Howie Kurtz was, oddly, spinning toward a 5:55pm, est appearance with Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: Is there any evidence that there is a connection, that the White House put him up to this…any evidence of wrongdoing, first of all, on the part of the White House?
KURTZ: No evidence whatsoever.
BLITZER: But McClellan knows who he is.
KURTZ: He calls on him at White House briefings from time to time.

A moment or two later in his relatively brief but heavily promoted CNN appearance, Howie delivers a bit of speculation that had to bring wide rovian smiles to sad presidential assistant faces:

KURTZ: The issue, I think, is should some of his [Gannon/Guckert’s] liberal critics, these liberal bloggers, have started investigating his personal life in an effort to discredit him?

The sexual aspect of this story must have offended Howie’s delicate corduroy-wearing sensibilities for he only, ever so lightly, brushed against their bulbous tumescence:

KURTZ: They’ve [icky liberal bloggers] raised questions about some sexually provocative web addresses that he [Gannon/Guckert] registered.

Though he admitted Gannon/Guckert registered domain names, our blushing Howie just couldn’t bring himself to mention or or even Gannon/Guckert’s most curious and tasteful semi nude photograph on an old AOL personal homepage; homepages known to be useful when meeting new “people” in certain AOL chatrooms that coincidentally bear the m4m designation.
Had Howie read some of Gannon/Guckert previously published material, perhaps, he could have seen the relevance of these blushingly adult web addresses.
For example, on October 12, 2004 Gannon/Guckert, in furtherance of the Bush campaign’s Gay Marriage scare tactic, wrote:

Sen. John Kerry might someday be known as "the first gay president" were he to win the White House…Democrats have pledged to expand homosexual rights…Kerry said that he might change his position on gay marriage.

On February 5, 2004, in an article that featured quotes from Rev. Louis Sheldon, the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council, this came from the Gannon/Guckert writing closet:

Democrats receive nearly all of the political support of gay rights activists…President Bush stands to benefit by taking a strong stand to protect traditional marriage.

But Howie, a man Wolf described as “doing some digging, doing some reporting”, seems to have utilized a rather small reportorial spade.
Howie’s a tad subtler in this morning’s Washington Post but not by much., including very interesting examples of Gannon/Guckert’s Plame-related questions, quite effectively addresses the “calls on him…from time to time” portion of Howie’s bloviation with dates, transcripts and scene-setting descriptions of events prior to Gannon/Guckert’s alleged White House Briefing questions.

Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan

I was intrigued by the slant Gannon/Guckert took during his August 9, 2004 questions regarding the blown cover of “turned” radical Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan:

Q: The publication of that man's [Khan’s] name by The New York Times -- how damaging is that to our war on terror?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not sure where it was published, first. Obviously, it was published recently -- the capture of this individual.

CNN on that very day of August 9, 2004 was reporting something quite embarrassingly different:

The effort by U.S. officials to justify raising the terror alert level last week may have shut down an important source of information that has already led to a series of al Qaeda arrests, Pakistani intelligence sources have said. Until U.S. officials leaked the arrest of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan to reporters, Pakistan had been using him in a sting operation to track down al Qaeda operatives around the world, the sources said.

As I headlined yesterday, this matter continues to become curiouser and curiouser.
Certain individuals, posting comments on certain liberal blogs, have urged Mr. Gannon/Guckert to avoid taking small plane rides and baths in lonely West Virginia motels.

Images:, AOL, ABC

Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Curiouser and curiouser

Gannon at President Bush's last televised press conference

Big tough Jeff Gannon throws in the bath house towel less than 24 hours after hints of his lurid semi-clothed past are revealed by those unfounded rumor buffs of the blogosphere.
According to Jeff

Because of the attention being paid to me I find it is no longer possible to effectively be a reporter for Talon News. In consideration of the welfare of me and my family I have decided to return to private life.

Suddenly, I'm reminded of the 1998 Paxon/Hume affair.
Then, via Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine, I’m transported back to June 29, 1989:

The scandal involved a Washington power boy with contacts in the Congress, the military, the media and Secret Service.

Craig T. Spence

According to the July 26, 1989 Washington Times (scroll down):

Mr. Spence's influence with the Washington power elite appeared almost limitless...Spence arranged at least four midnight tours of the White House, including one on June 28, 1988, on which he took with him a 15-year-old boy whom he falsely identified as his son...Spence apparently cultivated a uniformed Secret Service officer...Five Secret Service agents, armed with search warrants, searched his home for nearly two hours.

From the Washington Times (scroll down to story) June 10,1989 issue, the First Lady reacts:

First lady Barbara Bush said yesterday that the Secret Service investigation of a late night White House tour that reportedly included two male prostitutes has not raised security questions the first family is worried about..."Not at all. There haven't been a lot of stories in our house about it"...Mrs. Bush added that "I'm not into all of this" and said it was "good" that The Washington Post wasn't following The Times' story.

Images: C-SPAN,
Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The blogs have been buzzing over the "sexy" real identity of GOPUSA/Talon News Service "reporter" Jeff Gannon.
Hop on the Blogbus:

World O'Crap


Daily Kos


Image: MGM, AOL

Whose Will Triumphed?

Anheuser-Busch's $75 Army Beer Stein with icons

I should begin by saying that I didn’t watch the Superbowl.
I never have.
Oh, sure a couple of times in the past, when working for a local TV affiliate carrying this triumph of our overly excessive national will, the event blared from monitors as I waited to direct a newscast or insert a local commercial break but, unlike Lot’s wife, I didn’t look.
I’ve never been a big fan of football; its crude bravado, false masculinity and monstrous violence always, to me, seemed revoltingly akin to Roman and Aztec blood sport.
Of course, I should also explain that my father was a 50’s era defensive center for a rather famous professional football team and coach, my grandfather was a major donor to the football program of a local Catholic university and little gay theatrically-inclined me grew up in close proximity to this bloody and brutal “game”.
Unlike so many other American boys, however, my father did not insist that I join the grade school or high school teams.
My father, the youngest child of poor Irish immigrant parents and the only one to attend college, had his entire education financed with football scholarships.
He was pleased that I did not have to play football and was always proud and supportive of my interest in the arts.
Certainly the weird theatrical experiences I forced my parents to attend during my brief college days were testament to their parental love as well as a reflection of the Irish culture’s celebration of the arts and the gift of blarney.
Interestingly and, perhaps, dangerously, the football of my youth is not the football of post-millennial America.
Dad agrees.
Modern pro football, as the last two Superbowls’ clearly prove is not simply a physical contest between two opposing teams.
Professional football’s season finale has become a schizophrenic pagan orgy of patriotic corporate excess way beyond what used to be the bounds of traditional American culture.
And, of course, we shamelessly broadcast it to a world already nervous with our ongoing national evolution.
As America weeps its post Superbowl beer hall tears over a commercial about returning soldiers, an aging McCartney’s explosive rendition of Live and Let Die and yet another win by a team called Patriots, this cultural exile has to admit that our military industrial complex scored a tremendous psychological victory Sunday evening.
Most modern Americans, of all political stripes, have grown to love the daylong game-event they have been conditioned to expect.

And who could deny the triumphant imagistic power evoked with the soldier/actors (link PDF format) portraying returning soldiers and air travelers in the now famous Anheuser-Busch commercial?
Sunday’s event seems to have a political media resonance unlike all that have gone before it.
What that resonance is likely to create is anyone’s guess.

Images: NFL, Anheuser-Busch, Google

Monday, February 07, 2005
"The what museum...?"

The entrance to the Iraq National Museum, May 2003

The Art Newspaper, this morning, ends the widespread media silence on the present condition of Iraq’s antiquities and museums and it is not pleasant reading.
The paper’s information came from a report by the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) delivered in January to an Iraq session at the Archaeological Institute of America’s annual meeting in Boston.
According to that report:

All museums remain closed, and looting of archaeological sites continues.

While I’ve read a few scattered press reports about damage to the remains of Babylon and to Hellenistic, Roman, and Islamic-period buildings in the north near Hatra from controlled explosions by US military and construction, the report presented information regarding other Iraqi museums I’ve have not seen previously published:

The Basra Museum is occupied by squatters, the Nasiriya Museum was burned, the Amara Museum was damaged but has been refurbished, the museums at Kufa and Nejef are occupied by the Islamist party, the new Tikrit Museum was destroyed by cruise missiles at the outset of the war (it was empty at the time), and the Mosul Museum, hit by a shell that damaged the Hatrian gallery roof…the museum was looted with 30 bronze panels from the 9th-century BC Assyrian city of Balawat among the losses.

Aside from the generalized antiquarian looting which continues across Iraq, the SBAH reported that of the 15,000 items looted from Iraq National Museum storerooms “10,000 have been documented and 3,323 returned.”
The report also presented some numbers for Iraqi antiquities seized by the customs in five countries that I have not previously observed in the world’s media:

Saudi Arabia (18 items), Kuwait (38), Syria (360), and Jordan (1,250), as well as about 600 items by US Customs…Turkey and Iran have not disclosed what they have seized, despite requests from SBAH.

A search of US Customs and Interpol websites reveals dated information and no lists of recovered Iraqi objects.
The only document on the US Customs & Border Protection site was the Bonner Alert for stolen Iraqi Art dated April 18, 2003.
Documents on the Interpol site all dealt with their Tracking Task Force to Fight Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property Stolen in Iraq held in Lyon, France on November 12 and 13, 2003.

New Islamic Museum

The Art Newspaper also reports that Iraqi-born British architect and designer of Cincinnati’s own Contemporary Art Center Zaha Hadid has agreed to design a £2.25 ($3.38) million Islamic Museum in the Iraqi capital to be completed by autumn 2006.

Images: Reuters, The Art Newspaper

Sunday, February 06, 2005
This is NOT a Parody

Searching the official Super Bowl XXXIX web site (type "bush" into the search window) for a photo of Presidents 41 and 42 at tonight’s pre-game ceremony, I found an advertiser’s site offering a free George W. Bush Fart Plush Doll.
You can’t make some of this stuff up, folks.
One can only assume that a proud conservative Christian owner would pull the doll’s extended plush finger to achieve the advertised sound effect.
It will make the perfect companion for my plush Belching Bar doll!
Thanks NFL for bringing decency back to the Internets.


King George to Farmers & Poor:
“F___ You!”

Furthering his long time policy of throwing certain substances against the wall in hopes that some will stick in the panic and confusion, the President, according to the Los Angeles Times, will propose billions of dollars in cuts affecting millions of Americans including loyal supporters in a budget to be presented to Congress Monday.
The President will seek, according to a Bush-slanted New York Times article, $5.7 billion in cuts over 10 years to farm subsidy programs including a $250,000 overall limit on individual crop subsidy payments.
According to the Los Angeles Times and Tim Johnson, chief executive of the California Rice Commission whose farmers produce 1.5 metric tons of rice per year, the farm subsidy cuts, in addition to being a major slap at rural Bush supporters, could also further strain America’s already strained international posture:

“Rice plays an important role in the economy of California. We are an important export crop — about 40% of what's produced in the state is exported to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other countries."

In addition to asking Congress to approve further billions in additional and unspecified cuts, the President is proposing:

- $1 Billion in cuts to the Food Stamp Program.

- Deep cuts in Medicaid, community health clinics and aid to schools in low-income neighborhoods.

- Eliminating the $6 billion Perkins student loan program to low and middle income college students.

- Consolidations and cuts to 18 housing and community development programs.

- Eliminating all $1.8 billion federal subsidies for Amtrak.

We are sure to hear the pet corporate media describe this budget proposal as bold as rural and lower-income America reels from the President’s foolish and shortsighted plan.

Dean Update

As the Dean DNC steamroller chugs along, the New York Times offers a quote that explains the Vermont’s Governor’s resurrection:

"If you could boil it down, Dean is seen as a soldier's general," said Representative Jim McDermott of Washington, one of the comparatively few Congressional Democrats who supported Dr. Dean's presidential bid. "He's a guy who sleeps in the trenches with the troops."

More Mars

Spirit, the other and first Mars rover, has, like the Opportunity rover, also tranmitted images taken between November 24 and December 2, 2004 (sols 318 to 325) that NASA/JPL scientists have assembled into a color mosaic panorama.
The Spirit robotic explorer is 2.25 miles from its original landing site on a plain inside the Gusev Crater at the northern end of the equatorial Ma'adim Vallis.
Rover tracks are visible on the right side of the image and Spirit is currently driving up the slope of Husband Hill (the peak just to the left of the panorama's center).

Modified Images: Reuters,, NASA/JPL

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