These days, with the GOP in free-fall and America's 51st state (better known as Iraq) a bloody neocon nightmare, who's waiting in the wings polishing his halo and patting down his white horse? Well, AZ's own Senator John McCain, who expects to dispatch Democrat dragon-lady Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential race with minimum bother.
Thing is, McCain's meaner than the Biblical Cain, and has his share of Abel corpses in the closet to prove it. This dastardly duck was reminded of same in reading an advance copy of Senator Dennis DeConcini: From the Center of the Aisle. The pinto Dem's political memoir, penned with the aid of Arizona State University history professor Jack August, is due out in November and pulls no punches in depicting McCain as a backstabbin' scalawag in relation to the notorious Keating 5 scandal of the late '80s.
In case you were in diapers, the Keating 5 was no late-'60s surf band but, rather, made up of a quintet of U.S. senators who took sizeable contributions raised by banking/real estate tycoon Charles Keating and then went to bat for the future felon by hounding regulators looking into Keating's S&L shenanigans. In addition to senators McCain and DeConcini, the group included senators John Glenn, Don Riegel and Alan Cranston.
DeConcini, who took $85K from Keating and pals, realizes his involvement was a boo-boo, but lamely claims he was just trying to help one of the Zona's then-largest employers. The D-man bore the brunt of the criticism back then, mainly 'cause McCain was busy playing Richard III, stepping all over DeConcini and others so he'd come out smellin' like Ann Coulter's eau de cologne.
That's pretty effin' ironic considering McCain made out like a bandito, scoring a whopping $112K from Keating's efforts. Indeed, McCain and the slimy S&L-er were thick as thieves. While serving in the House from 1983 to 1986, McCain flew with Keating to the latter's private retreat in the Bahamas aboard Keating corporate aircraft. And the senator's trophy wife, Cindy McCain, along with her pops, invested $359K in a Phoenix shopping mall developed by an offshoot of Keating's American Continental Corporation.
McCain, DeConcini dryly notes, "on a number of occasions failed to report these things." Still, DeConcini caught more hell, and alleges this was because Republican bulldog Robert Bennett, who was leading the Senate's ethics investigation, steered it away from McCain, the scandal's sole Republican.
Bennett wanted to put the kibosh on the charges against McCain to help make this "a Democrat scandal," DeConcini declares. Bennett suggested that Dem John Glenn be exonerated "in order to appear nonpartisan," according to DeConcini.
The Tucson pol also details at length why he believes McCain leaked damaging and misleading information to the press during the investigation.
It's not just DeConcini alleging that McCain's a sneaky little shit. According to a February 2006 story in the Boston Globe, a General Accounting Office investigator who worked the case said circumstantial evidence against McCain as a leaker was overwhelming and that "there was documentary evidence to buttress the GAO's suspicions, although he said he was barred from discussing it."
The investigator told the Globe that when he laid out the evidence to McCain, the senator blew his stack.
"Senator McCain has a reputation as a stand-up guy, but his reaction that day was to point the finger," chirped Clark B. Hall. The investigator found McCain's finger-pointing "contemptible" and "consistent with the leaks themselves, which were intended to shift the blame elsewhere." Hall said the Ethics Committee report on the leaks "was smoothed over" to McCain's benefit.
Although an investigation of the leaks came "to no conclusions about the sources," DeConcini concludes, "I am on the record as saying that 'I have little doubt that McCain was responsible.'"
In the end, McCain reimbursed Keating $13,433 for the flights and vacations. And since his failure to report the gifts occurred while he was in the House of Representatives, the Senate Ethics Committee decided those were House matters. The House, for its part, did nothing.
McCain may think he's polished the scandal's stain off his halo. But if you get close enough to the guy, the tarnish can still be detected.
Come closer, bird-brains. This wicked whippoorwill wants to whisper the name of the radical, blame-America blowhard who partly inspired the controversial list of 54 factoids and quotes cut into the humongo steel Funyun down at Wesley Bolin Plaza, a Funyun otherwise known as AZ's 9/11 Memorial.
Noam Chomsky. Yep, the way-left loon's slim volume 9/11 was one of six books listed in the bibliography of research notes from which the memorial's designers cribbed statements to etch into the Funyun.
Mere mention of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linguist and American foreign policy critic sends rightists into convulsive spit-fits along the lines of those induced by George Soros and Bill Clinton. Chomsky's slim, 128-page pamphlet is a fine example why. In it Chomsky alleges the United States is a "terrorist state," while simultaneously condemning the 9/11 attacks on America.
The fact that Chomsky's book is in the bibliography of these research notes, compiled by ASU historian Nancy Dallett on behalf of the commission, will be enough for Republigoober Len Munsil and fellow conservatives to conclude that the Funyun's phraseology is the fruit of fuzzy-headed liberalism.
The taloned one recently thumbed through the binder of Dallett's notes at the offices of AZ 9/11 Commission Prez Billy Shields. But Chomsky's screed was hardly the oddest mentioned in this wack-ass anthology.
There was also Media Representations of September 11, a compendium including "Rituals of Trauma: How the Media Fabricated September 11" by Indiana University prof Fritz Breithaupt. In Breithaupt's essay reproduced in toto in Dallett's binders the daffy don theorizes that folks "harbor a secret desire" for events like September 11, in order to feel condemned, then purified. Sorta like a hot-lead enema for your soul.
Another, 9-11 in American Culture, is a 2003 collection of tweedy types sounding off. A quote from the book: "It is time for the quiet and powerful wisdom of butterflies and salmon. Let out your wings and strengthen your fins."
Pardon The Bird while it takes a barf break . . .
Dallett asininely interviewed members of the AZ 9/11 Commission, and some of this PC bathos ended up on the Funyun.
For example, Paul Eppinger, commission member and exec director of the Arizona Interfaith Movement, told Dallett how he and his wife were on a road trip from Denver the morning of the attacks and came up with this script on the memorial: "You don't win battles of terrorism with more battles."
In other words, "Let's hug it out, Osama!"
From what little Matt Salenger, part of the architectural team working on the memorial, told The Bird, he, along with wife Maria Salenger and principal architect Eddie Jones, used Dallett's, er, "scholarship," to come up with almost all of the text fit to print. According to Shields, the commission then gave the verbiage thumbs up or down.
The memorial hubbub has come as "a real shock," squawked Salenger. He admitted that "there's probably a silver lining" to all the publicity. That's in addition to his fee for services rendered, which Salenger steadfastly refuses to reveal.
Considering the now near-universal scorn for Salenger's project, maybe the commission deserves a refund of whatever it paid these artistes silver lining included.
One Lusty Saudi
In the midst of all the boo-hooing by the Arizona Repugnant and others over the imminent deportation of former ASU student body prez Yaser Alamoodi, this taloned tattler's been told the Saudi national isn't nearly as uptight or upright as he's previously been portrayed.
As this mischievous magpie reported last month ("Alamoodi Agonistes," September 21), the poli-sci student's in stir at Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Eloy Detention Center, after being nabbed by ICE on September 6 for being in the U.S. illegally. This, after wife Joy Hepp filed divorce papers and withdrew her petition on behalf of her Middle Eastern hubby.
Last week, Alamoodi was denied bond and will remain at Eloy until his trial, after which he's likely to be shipped off to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or some other Islamic hellhole. The Bird initially figured Alamoodi'd dig being back home in camel country, and not only because he'd told spouse Hepp that he was planning to return without her anyway.
See, during his reign as student body prez, Alamoodi suggested ASU chicks who appeared in Playboy be punished. And soon Alamoodi will be expulsed back to a Muslim prude's paradise a region where religious police set the fashion trend for femmes, a head-to-toe gunnysack called the burqa.
But now this lovebird's learned that Alamoodi apparently liked to flirt both with babes at Tempe waterin' hole Casey Moore's, and with plagiarism while a contributor to ASU's student rag, the State Press.
Yessir, Yaser seemed to dig the ladies, even while hitched to Hepp, who denied knowing of any Alamoodi infidelities while they were married.
The Bird can't say if Alamoodi ever scored, but he certainly tried, according to one former ASU hottie. The dark-haired cutie tweeted that she endured a night of come-ons from Alamoodi.
"I was at Casey Moore's and started talking with Yaser about some problem that the campus paper was having he was working there as a columnist at the time," she recalled. "He kept trying to buy me kamikazes, which I refused at first, then agreed to do. He stared at my boobs the whole time and then propositioned me to go home with him. I had no idea he was married."
So the Saudi struck out. Hey, the Bird can't blame a guy for trying, even if it was hypocritical as hell in light of his blue-nosed objections to Playboy.
But then there's Alamoodi's alleged act of plagiarism. Seems he was fired from that columnist position at the State Press after he ripped off a column.
According to a former member of the paper's editorial board, Alamoodi copied several paragraphs from Historychannel.com. His editor recognized that it wasn't Alamoodi's writing style and ran the column through Google.
"There was an admission of knowing it was wrong, but not thinking it's a big deal," said the former editor of Alamoodi's reaction when confronted.
So Alamoodi seems hardly the Boy Scout his pal Deedra Abboud of the Muslim American Society makes him out to be. Hey, The Bird hates to see anyone exiled to some place where you can't buy a copy of Girls Gone Wild, knock back a boilermaker or try to rub up against a coed cutie. But portraying Alamoodi as a saint? That dog won't hunt, Deedra.
Just a brief note from this political pigeon on Thursday's gubernatorial debate on KAET's Horizon, moderated by the ever-affable Michael "I swear it ain't a toupee" Grant. Is this winged wiseacre alone in thinking that perennial Libertarian candidate Barry Hess won the verbal tussle like a blue-ribboned porker at the state fair?
Hess seemed intelligent, good-humored, and capable of doing more than spouting off the same ol', same ol' that viewers of such televised donnybrooks usually get. And, unlike Len "Premarital" Munsil and Governor Janet "I'm 36 points ahead!" Napolitano, Hess at least acted as if he'd had a cuppa joe before airtime.
Sure, most of that Libertarian stuff is strictly for schoolteachers who read too much Ayn Rand, but Hess was saying things neither Munsil nor Nappy have the cojones to state, like maybe we should release everyone who's in prison for smoking a jay. He even addressed Latinos in Spanish at the end of the broadcast! Political poison in a state so rabidly anti-Mexican.
Yeah, Hess only polls 3 percent. And yeah, the dood lists endorsements by professional wrestlers on his Web site. But boring he ain't. For that alone, Barry scores points with this persnickety pelican.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.