Daily Archives: March 2, 2007

Clem Labine (La-BEEN) Brooklyn Dodgers reliever and old home restorer, dead at age 80

Clem Labine, Topps 1953

Clem Labine, Topps 1953

A good guy; one of The Boys of Summer. Read about Clem’s career in baseball here.

His name is French:

Nap [Lajoie] came from a French speaking family- there is (or was) a
French-Canadian community in Woonsocket that produced both Lajoie and
Clem Labine- and pronounced it the French way, Lah-zhwah. His
contemporaries weren’t quite as particular and butchered it in various

Clem Labine, who was also French Canadian from
Woonsocket, mentioned in _The Boys of Summer_ that he spoke nothing but
French until he was seven.

His name was pronounced La BEEN.

Something else you didn’t know: Clem wrote a book: The Original Old-house Journal Compendium. link
Clem Labine started The Old-House Journal newsletter in 1973 when he began restoring his house in Brooklyn. Here’s his website: link



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countdown to US attack on Iran: x minus 29 days: Ted Koppel, and American coups against the elected governments of Iran

[to see the prior articles in this series, hit “Countdown to attack on Iran” in the categories list in the right hand column]

Probably tomorrow, we’re gonna get to the proposed “neighbors’ meeting” in Iraq, which may see a meeting between Iranian and US officials.

But first we need some background on US-Iranian relations. Let me say at the outset that while I would love to visit Iran, I wouldn’t want to live there.

What most people know about Iran, they got from Ted Koppel, one of the most important men in world history. On his Nightline program, he essentially created the continuous news cycle, with its hunger for tidbits, back stories, shadowy rumors, and videos of chanting crowds. Every night the subtitle of his show, like the subtitle of my little series of essays, emphasized the time frame of the “Iran hostage crisis: Day 256…” Koppel’s pioneering business plan probably contributed greatly to the Iranian captors sense of self-importance, thus prolonging the crisis. But of equal importance was the fact that Koppel tapped into American feelings of frustration after Vietnam, drew them out, inflated them, and conflated them with the resentment toward the young captors of the American embassy in Tehran. Over the months, the theme of humiliation became a national cause of action, the primary determinant of the outcome of the presidential election in 1980, and the entire theme of “muscular” foreign policy, as if America were some skinny kid on the beach who got sand kicked on him.

Entirely lost in massive coverage of the 1979-80 hostage “crisis” was the history of US-Iranian relations over the previous 40 years: the long history of peaceful civilization in Iran, the history of massive US meddling in Iran in transparent attempts to gain control of oil, to the detriment of nascent democracy.

These are the facts of the case. And they are undisputed.
That’s right.
—-prosecutor Jack Ross/Kevin Bacon, A Few Good Men.

In the years after World War II, Iran evolved into a democracy, electing its first leader, Dr. Muhammed Mossadegh in 1951. However, when Mossadegh nationalized British petroleum, the Brits and the American CIA hatched a plot to call him a communist, which he certainly was not. But in 1953 British and American forces staged a military coup, overthrowing the democratically elected leader and installed the Shah. Not until 1979 were the Iranian people able to overthrow the Shah. They then voted overwhelmingly to form a theocratic democracy, headed by the Ayatollah Khomeini. It was at this time that Iranian students took over the US embassy, claiming that it was filled with CIA spies intent on bringing down the government (again). Not that it justified what they did, but they were probably correct. The Ayatollah Khomeini, however, was (an still is) represented in the media as the very imbodiment of evil, thanks in large part to Ted Koppel’s Nightline, who, as far as I can recollect, never bothered to tell the real story of US meddling in Iran. (it is perhaps notable that the Ayatollah’s unflagging somber/”evil” expression is actually a religious tradition, even a requirement, of Shiite religious leaders; see also al-Sadr in Iraq.)

After Reagan was elected, and the hostage crisis resolved, the United States then acted AGAIN to try and bring down the elected government of Iran by military means, again over oil, this time using Saddam Hussein and Iraq as its cat’s paw. The result was the Iraq-Iran War 1980-86, not to mention the gassing of the Kurds and the other war crimes of Saddam, and an overall massive increase in his military strength, which would later enable him to invade Kuwait.
Things did not go very well for Saddam initially, partly because, unbeknownst to the American public, and possibly to Reagan himself, the Reagan administration sold arms to our supposed mortal enemy:

The Iran-Contra Affair was the largest political scandal in the United States during the 1980s. [1] Large volumes of documents relating to the scandal were destroyed or withheld from investigators by Reagan Administration officials.[2] The affair is still shrouded with secrecy and it is very hard to discover the facts. It involved several members of the Reagan Administration who in 1986 helped sell arms to Iran, an avowed enemy, and used the proceeds to fund the Contras, an anti-communist guerrilla organization in Nicaragua. [3]

After the arms sales were revealed in November 1986, President Ronald Reagan[4] appeared on national television and denied that they had occurred. However, a week on November 13, he returned to the airwaves to affirm that weapons were indeed transferred to Iran. He denied that they were part of an exchange for hostages. [5]

In other words, Iran was a convenient bogeyman for Reagan and whoever was running the show during his administration illness. When they needed some cash, they didn’t hesitate to sell Iran weapons. Those involved in this sorry illegal mess in which both US policy and an act of Congress were defied, included George HW Bush, Robert Gates, Richard Armitage and a number of others who found their way into subsequent Republican administrations. None have ever been held accountable.

Eventually, the US intervened more directly by sending warships into the Gulf and by allowing Kuwaiti tankers to fly the US flag. Eventually incidents occurred, but the only loss of American life was an attack by an Iraqi plane on a US ship, the USS Stark. Meanwhile, a US ship IN IRANIAN WATERS on a mission of provocation, shot down an Iranian commercial airline, killing 290 aboard, for which we have never apologized. Eventually the Iraqis and Iranians settled the war with the previous boundaries being restored. The irony:

With more than 100,000 Iranian victims[45] of Iraq’s chemical weapons during the eight-year war, Iran is the world’s second-most afflicted country by weapons of mass destruction, only to Japan. The total Iranian casualties of the war were estimated to be anywhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000. Almost all relevant international agencies have confirmed that Saddam engaged in chemical warfare to blunt Iranian human wave attacks, while unanimously announcing that Iran never used chemical weapons during the war.[46][47][48][49]

I have already briefly detailed the events which took place after 9/11. Iran aided the United States in finding and capturing al-Qaeda agents and in its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, suspending such help only when the Bush administration refused to provide information to Iran about the MEK terrorist group operating against Iran; and of course when George Bush declared Iran part of the Axis of Evil in January, 2002, Iran certainly had little reason to expect anything but war from the US.

Now, you may ask, what does the US have against Iran? what has Iran ever done to the US, really? and the answer is: nothing, aside from that hostage thing that made Ted Koppel.

Now, you may suggest that Iran is a state sponsor of terror. To which I will say, not against the US it isn’t. And its support of Hezbollah, well, that is a whole nother story. As for its nuclear program, again, another story.

The facts are that the Iranian nation is by history a peaceful country whose attempts at democratization have been attacked repeatedly by the United States, whose interest is to control the oil in the region. Iran has never attacked the United States (aside from the embassy), doesn’t have the capability to attack the United States, and has never expressed a desire to attack the United States.

Those are the facts, a history of over 50 years of Iran trying to form democratic governments, and 50 years of a constant US policy to militarily impose authoritarian regimes on Iran, included overt support of the use of weapons of mass destruction on a scale surpassed only by the US nuclear attacks on Japan. George W. Bush is now trying to make a case for war against Iran on an almost daily basis, and is bringing terrific military force to bear on Iran.
Now, from the Iranian point of view, when you hear Condi Rice say that the US is willing to sit down with Iran in a “neighbors’ meeting,” what do you think the US wants?

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Filed under Condoleezza Rice: tell me again, what is her job?, Countdown to attack on Iran, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?

Cotton Bowl moves out of Cotton Bowl

Hoping to get the Cotton Bowl back on college football’s national stage, the board that oversees the game voted Tuesday to move it to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium starting in 2010.

Cotton Bowl Athletic Association chairman Bruce Gadd declined to reveal details of the contract with the Cowboys but said it will last more than a Butdecade.

“This is one of the most important decisions in the 71-year history of the AT&T Cotton Bowl,” Gadd said in a statement. “Moving the Classic preserves the Classic’s legacy and, at the same time, secures its future as one of college football’s best postseason bowl games.”

Backers want to get the Cotton Bowl into the Bowl Championship Series mix and make it the future location of a national title game.

But don’t forget Dickey Moegle, tackled by an Alabama player who was standing on the sidelines, in 1954 Cotton Bowl, awarded a touchdown.

Remember Doak Walker; from nearby Highland Park High School; MVP of the 1947 and 1948 Cotton Bowls; a plaque outside the Cotton Bowl reads: The Cotton Bowl, the House that Doak Built.

Remember Doak’s pal, Bobby Layne; from nearby Highland Park High School; in the 1946 Cotton Bowl he accounted for all of Texas’ 40 points.

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Bush nominates fox’s lobbyist to guard henhouse.

President Bush is expected to nominate the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers, Michael Baroody, to chair the Consumer Product Safety  Commission.


I feel safer already,  and so do my kids, I’m sure.

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You liked Little Miss Sunshine? try Drop Dead Gorgeous

This old flick is pretty funny; sort of a cross between Little Miss Sunshine, Animal House, Fargo, the Orient Express,  and Best in Show.

Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, and others you love.

Family fun with surprising amounts of violence (mostly implied), and adequate leering opportunities (overt).

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You want E. coli with those fries? Bush’s FDA doesn’t give a rat’s ass.

Wonder how much Con Agra (Peter Pan Peanut Butter owner) gave to PACs supporting Bush’s campaign?

WASHINGTON – The federal agency that’s been front and center in warning the public about tainted spinach and contaminated peanut butter is conducting just half the food safety inspections it did three years ago.

The cuts by the Food and Drug Administration come despite a barrage of high-profile food recalls.

“We have a food safety crisis on the horizon,” said Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.

Between 2003 and 2006, FDA food safety inspections dropped 47 percent, according to a database analysis of federal records by The Associated Press.

That’s not all that’s dropping at the FDA in terms of food safety. The analysis also shows

12 percent fewer FDA employees in field offices who concentrate on food issues.

Safety tests for U.S.-produced food have dropped nearly 75 percent, from 9,748 in 2003 to 2,455 last year, according to the agency’s own statistics.

Killing our kids in Iraq and at home.

Oh, yeah, ConAgra, the “peanut butter and jelly salmonella” people:

The Food and Drug Administration reports that its inspectors have found salmonella samples at ConAgra’s Georgia plant and, as the investigation of salmonella-tainted peanut butter widens, the recall has spread to ice cream manufacturers and a wholesale retailer of a peanut butter dessert topping.

Inspectors found salmonella samples at ConAgra’s Sylvester, Georgia, plant, where the recalled Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter was made, FDA said. At the same time, the agency said peanut butter from the contaminated plant was spread to at least one other plant, located in Tennessee.

It was at the Humboldt, Tenn., plant that peanut butter was processed for ice cream and dessert toppings.

ConAgra, back in 2003

….meatpacking giant ConAgra Foods was forced to recall millions of pounds of potentially E. coli-tainted beef originating from a Colorado slaughterhouse – and which had been allowed out the door even after the company’s own tests had found the pathogen in the plant dozens of times. Since then, ConAgra has settled numerous lawsuits brought by E. coli-tainted consumers.

Be careful out there, people…your government is making it safe for corporate interests, not for you.

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Filed under food/drink, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Politics