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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Celebrity news and the war on terror

Sure, I could write a blog entry today that my readers would fully expect. After all, the Pentagon just tried to slash about 10% of the Nunn-Lugar (Cooperative Threat Reduction) budget this year. If you don't know this law, it's the one that finances the destruction and safekeeping of Russian nuclear materiel. Kind of a weird policy choice in a time when the President says countering nuclear proliferation is the top priority national security goal.

However, that topic is too predictable for this Sunday's post. Let me see if I can see a link to my usual theme in much less obvious places.

Two obituaries and a story about a new tax reform panel caught my eye this weekend. Let me meander through these stories, personalize them a bit...and then tie them all together in the context of the "war on terror" (that's got to be worth a few bonus points, right?):

First, Richard Barnet, one of the co-founders of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) died December 23. Barnet quit the Kennedy administration's State Department in 1963 and eventually wound up on Richard Nixon's "enemies list." As a debater in the early 1980s, I read a lot of what Barnet and his colleagues wrote -- and I still have a couple of his books on my shelves. One of my close friends took his sabbatical at IPS a few years ago; perhaps he can reflect a bit more about Barnet in comments.

In any event, note that Barnet churned out a new book about every 4 years. One that is still timely is Intervention and Revolution, which among other things, addresses the US-backed coup in Iran in 1953. It was America's first cold war subversion of another government! Who knows, Iran might not be part of the "axle of evil" today if the USA had behaved differently in Ike's presidency.

Before I get to the other death notice, let me mention the tax reform story. President Bush has appointed two former US Senators (Connie Mack and John Breaux), along with a number of other individuals to serve on a panel that will make recommendations about tax code reform.

I don't have much (nothing, really) to say about this, but I was surprised to see Beth Garrett's name in the list of appointees. Garrett is a law professor at USC and a former Oklahoma high school debater from my time in the state. I exchanged some email with her in late 2000 during the Bush-Gore post-election saga. She had appeared on a TV show as a legal analyst and I reminded her of our shared past. I see that she clerked for Thurgood Marshall, worked for former Senator David Boren, and was on the faculty at University of Chicago...so she's done well over the years.

Garrett also served as "Legal Adviser, Judge Howard M. Holtzmann, Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, The Hague, The Netherlands, 1990-1991."

Who knew?

Finally, Danny Sugarman died January 5. Tragically, he was only 50 years old and afflicted with lung cancer. As a teenager, Sugarman was a groupie of the rock group, The Doors. Indeed, when I saw "Almost Famous" a few years ago, I was reminded a bit of Sugarman, who worked for the band and eventually wrote a book about the group. That book came out when I was in college and helped created a bit of a Doors revival. I became a fan and bought a couple of albums.

When I read Sugarman's obit to the end, I learn that he was married to...anyone know or have a guess?

He was wed to Iran/contra figure Fawn Hall.

Really.

It's a trifecta!

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