Sadly, Attorney Susan Jordan Has Been Killed in a Plane Crash

•June 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This morning’s paper brought the sad news that Susan Jordan, one of our most courageous and resourceful attorneys, was killed last Friday in a private plane crash in Utah. Aside from Susan’s successes in individual cases, her forty year legal career empowered both women attorneys and women crime victims.

Susan made an indelible impression on me when I first saw her in court in 1973. She was one of a group of lawyers representing a group accused of robbing the Bank of America at Adeline and Ashby in Berkeley. The attorneys for the defense were five men in dark suits and Susan, resplendent in a vivid blue western style pantsuit with red piping that, I was told, she had made herself. The issue was bail and Susan dominated the courtroom as if there had been a spotlight on her.

Susan was probably most famous for her representation in the 1970s of Inez Garcia, a Latina who, under circumstances that appeared to fall short of classic self defense, shot and killed a man who had previously raped her. Garcia became a feminist symbol of resistance to male domination, but at her homicide trial, Garcia’s attorney Charles Garry unsuccessfully advanced a politically weak diminished capacity argument. Garcia was convicted of second degree murder. After a reversal on appeal, Susan took over for the retrial, ditched diminished capacity and went for broke, successfully arguing self-defense.

Personally, I worked on a case with Susan in the early 1990s and had two memorable flights in her airplane. The first was a trip to Chico to visit an expert on an impossibly spectacular day. I felt like I was living one of those PBS Over California programs.

The second flight, from Santa Rosa to Oakland, was somewhat more nervous, at least for me. After we were about halfway, the radio went out. Eventually we discovered that if I reached under the dashboard and pinched two wires together, the radio went back on, sort of. In truth, Susan was the most careful of pilots, going over a checklist before each flight that other pilots disdained, and I did not feel unsafe at any time. Apparently, she was not flying the plane on Friday.

I last saw Susan at a Saturday morning spinning class a couple of months ago. She left a bit early and I did not get to say hello, which, of course, I now regret.

Susan in a 1999 newspaper photo.

Susan in a 1999 newspaper photo.

(Photo by John Burgess, Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

Sadly, Attorney Susan Jordan Has Been Killed in a Plane Crash

•June 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This morning’s paper brought the sad news that Susan Jordan, one of our most courageous and resourceful attorneys, was killed last Friday in a private plane crash in Utah. Aside from Susan’s successes in individual cases, her forty year legal career empowered both women attorneys and women crime victims.

Susan made an indelible impression on me when I first saw her in court in 1973. She was one of a group of lawyers representing a group accused of robbing the Bank of America at Adeline and Ashby in Berkeley. The attorneys for the defense were five men in dark suits and Susan, resplendent in a vivid blue western style pantsuit with red piping that, I was told, she had made herself. The issue was bail and Susan dominated the courtroom as if there had been a spotlight on her.

Susan was probably most famous for her representation in the 1970s of Inez Garcia, a Latina who, under circumstances that appeared to fall short of classic self defense, shot and killed a man who had previously raped her. Garcia became a feminist symbol of resistance to male domination, but at her homicide trial, Garcia’s attorney Charles Garry unsuccessfully advanced a politically weak diminished capacity argument. Garcia was convicted of second degree murder. After a reversal on appeal, Susan took over for the retrial, ditched diminished capacity and went for broke, successfully arguing self-defense.

Personally, I worked on a case with Susan in the early 1990s and had two memorable flights in her airplane. The first was a trip to Chico to visit an expert on an impossibly spectacular day. I felt like I was living one of those PBS Over California programs.

The second flight, from Santa Rosa to Oakland, was somewhat more nervous, at least for me. After we were about halfway, the radio went out. Eventually we discovered that if I reached under the dashboard and pinched two wires together, the radio went back on, sort of. In truth, Susan was the most careful of pilots, going over a checklist before each flight that other pilots disdained, and I did not feel unsafe at any time. Apparently, she was not flying the plane on Friday.

I last saw Susan at a Saturday morning spinning class a couple of months ago. She left a bit early and I did not get to say hello, which, of course, I now regret.

Has Chris Matthews Learned Anything Since He Worked for Tip O’Neill?

•April 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Anyone who thought that they would obtain incisive coverage from Chris Matthews of all the torture news that is breaking was in for a disappointment Wednesday. Matthews does not know anything, so he shows old film clips, takes offense and yells.

The first segment featured the usual; a Republican, Senator John Ensign and a Democrat, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Matthews questioning of Ensign was infuriating because Matthews apparently does not know what anyone who read The Dark Side by Jane Mayer knows, which is that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were caused by the importation of Gitmo interrogators and contractors to teach so-called interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib.

Thus, Matthews let Ensign continually distinguish between “abuses” at Abu Ghraib and interrogation. As Joan Walsh pointed out later in the show, this is abject nonsense. The interrogators, as unqualified as they were, brought these “techniques” to Abu Ghraib and taught them to the so-called rogue soldiers.

Matthews could not dispute Ensign’s nonsense because he does not know the most basic facts. Instead he spent the time being offended that Ensign accused Matthews of being “inflammatory” for reading from the Senate committee report that confirmed Mayer’s reporting.

Turns out it is not difficult to tell Matthews something he does not know!

And while we are at it:

– Did Wasserman-Schultz and Ensign appear separately because Ensign insisted on it? Just asking.

– Why did Matthews let Ensign get away with calling the report a “Democrat” report when the adjective is Democratic. This is some kind of Republican stunt to imply that the Democratic Party is not democratic. Ensign said it about ten times and Matthews never mentioned it and even adopted the word. He was to busy faking offense at being called inflammatory, which of course is all that he is.

And that is just the first segment.

(No transcript is available; right now,)

Athletics Owner Lew Wolff Wants Baseball in Oakland to Fail

•March 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The ownership of the Oakland Athletics does not really want fans to come to the ballpark. There is no other way to explain the systematic downgrading of the experience of attending a game and the As’ refusal to provide the amenities that fans of every other team take for granted.

Since they came to Oakland in 1968, the Athletics have won four World Championships, have been in two other World Series and have been in the playoffs several more times. During the late 1980s, when the Bash Brothers As were in three straight World Series and four straight playoffs, attendance was over 2.5 million for three straight years and over 2 million for six straight years. No one ever confused the Oakland Coliseum with Fenway Park, but it became an enjoyable place to watch a game. In 1983, Roger Angell described it in glowing terms in a New Yorker article about baseball in Oakland. The As led the way in the Bay Area with varied food, particularly Saag’s sausages, that was way ahead of the rival Giants’ offerings at Candlestick Park.

But then, In 1995, after the death of owner Walter Haas, the team passed to some local home builders and then to Lew Wolff, a hotelier who is the present owner. Lew Wolff does not want to own a team in Oakland, home of the Bloods and the Crips and police murders. He wants to own a team in San Jose, gateway to Silicon Valley. So while making a passable effort to put a decent team on the field, Mr. Wolfe has set about to publicly denigrate baseball at the Coliseum and is apparently happy to have the ballpark fall down around everyone’s ears. He called the stadium “despicable” when he bought the team, even as he claimed to want to stay in Oakland, and has continued to bad mouth it and let it rot ever since. Wolff shows nothing but contempt for Oakland’s present fans as he eyes the golden wallets of Santa Clara County.

The Coliseum has always been a mass of grey concrete (Sal Bando called it the Mausoleum), but there were TV screens at the concession stands and reasonably modern scoreboards. No longer. The TVs are few and far between and you cannot see the field while you wait. Combined with the indifferent “service” from the food servers, you can stand in line for two claustrophobic innings and not see a pitch or even hear a broadcast. And the food is awful, particularly in comparison to the offerings at AT&T Park across the Bay. It is embarrassing to bring a Giants fan to a game. The staple is doughy hot dogs wrapped in tin foil. There are some specialty foods, but they taste like rubber. The only bright spot is some decent beer. All the while, Wolff denigrates the place and drives people away. Recently, in a press release, he referred to the Coliseum as “an aging and shared facility” and provided the following upbeat description of baseball in Oakland:

We understand the facility continues to cost the city of Oakland and Alameda County millions of lost dollars per year. Sadly, the business and corporate base of the city of Oakland was very limited when we purchased the team and has eroded since. Our attendance and low number of season ticket holders (both one of the lowest in Major League Baseball) also continues to decline; even when our on-field performance produced play-off participation.

Of course, the As have been nowhere near the playoffs the past two years, but the fact is that if the As put a little effort into the ballpark, maybe got on a radio station that fans actually could hear and cultivated the fans in the entire East Bay, including prosperous Contra Cost County immediately to the east, this team could be a success. This would require investing money in a stadium that is owned by Alameda County, but the As rent it for peanuts and could put a shekel or two into the place.

Don’t get me wrong, Oakland officials, and particularly former mayor and life-long baseball hater Jerry Brown, have a lot for which to answer. But Lew Wolff is the one who is destroying Oakland baseball right now. Soon we will be back to the days of Charlie Finley, who owned the team for five straight playoffs and three straight World Championships. He had a bare bones staff and offered a total lack of amenities. In 1974, the year of the As third straight World Series victory, the total attendance was 845,693. It will be difficult for Wolff to reach this goal, but if he fails, it will not be for lack of effort.

not-a-fun-day-1

Not a fun day at the ballpark

UPDATE: Ray Ratto tells Wolff that a vow of silence should last more than a week.

Chris Matthews Lets Ari Fleischer Get Away With Murder

•March 14, 2009 • 3 Comments

You have to hand one thing to Ari Fleischer. On Wednesday night, he nailed it when he told Chris Matthews, “Chris, do you ever not interrupt your guests, or is that all you’d like to do?” The rest of what Fleischer said was total Bush-hack nonsense, but Matthews was so busy blustering or so ignorant that he missed the whole thing. They call the Daily Show fake news, but this week Jon Stewart had the hard news, not Hardball. matthewsstewart190126_

Two examples, one that Matthews caught 24 hours later and one of which he is blissfully ignorant. Ari’s whole deal was that “George Bush kept us safe.” Matthews spent a lot of time blaming the Bush administration for falsely linking Sadaam to 9/11. At the end of the interview, Fleischer said, “after September 11, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again? “Again?” I jumped put of my chair, but Matthews was so busy talking that he missed it. This was the mother of all Freudian slips.

The next night Matthews devoted a whole segment to it, reciting Fleischer’s lame explanation that, “he didn’t mean that Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11 but instead that Saddam had attacked other countries before and could attack us.” Matthews claimed that Fleischer’s miscue was “just as I was thanking him for coming on,” which was not true. Matthews just was not listening.

So a day late, Matthews gummed it to death.

But what really disturbed me, and what was typical Matthews, involved Fleischer’s distinction between the intelligence about WMDs being wrong or being intentionally wrong. This started in typical Matthews style. Fleischer admitted that the WMD intelligence was wrong. Matthews twisted this and said that Fleischer had admitted being dishonest:

MATTHEWS: . . . Do you believe that the administration made an honest case in taking us to war with Iraq? An honest case.

FLEISCHER: Yes. Yes.

MATTHEWS: Even though you corrected the record afterwards and said that they made a dishonest argument that we faced a nuclear threat.

FLEISCHER: Chris, how disingenuous are you? You can just roll back the tape…

MATTHEWS: I’m just quoting you!

FLEISCHER: … in this interview. Chris, I said we were wrong. I didn’t say we were dishonest. Dishonest is your word, Chris Matthews. We were wrong.

After being justly criticized by Fleischer for twisting Ari’s words, Matthews then let Fleischer filibuster about how many people were wrong about WMDs. I guess Matthews has been so busy hyping himself that he has not read about how Cheney and his posse set up a rump intelligence operation, crediting only reports that pointed toward WMDs and castigating anyone, especially at the CIA, who raised a doubt. Has he forgotten about Joe Wilson’s report? (Not the brouhaha after, the report itself) How about the marginalizing within the administration of anyone who disagreed? Not listening to the U.N. inspectors?

Matthew’s job is to be up on these things and point out the B.S. This is his full time job. Instead, he either doesn’t know the facts or he is too busy yammering to notice what anyone else says.

Chronicle Continues to Ignore Cable Television

•March 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today at 11 a.m. Andy Roddick of the United States, takes on Swiss player Stanlislas Wawrinka. If Roddick wins, the United States advances to the next round of the David Cup. If he loses, at 2 p.m., James Blake will take on Marco Chiudinelli in the final match.

This is all on the Tennis Channel, but readers of the TV listings in the San Francisco Chronicle have no way of knowing this. The matches are not listed.

This is not because no cable channels are listed. The Oakland As game yesterday was listed as being telecast on MLB-TV. I appreciated that because otherwise, i would not have known. Maybe the MLB is not on a sports tier, but sports fans buy the sports tier and if they don’t, one reason probably is thet papers like the Chronicle don’t want them to know what is on.

It is not like stations like Versus or ESPN are available free over the air, you have to pay for them. So why not tell sports fans what is on?

And while we are at it, a real hats off to the Cronicle sports staff for Friday’s front page.  It featured the headline “Offense Stalls as Bears Stumble” on one side and “Bears end 14-year Drought in Tucson” on the other with NO clue as to what they were talking about.  I thought we had agreed that there should be headings such as Women’s Basketball” for the former headline and Men’s basketball” for the latter.

UPDATE The match is on and the coverage is great.  Our own Ted Robinson is announcing.

S.F Chronicle Sports Much Improved, but Why Omit Cable TV Listings?

•February 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I have been meaning to write for a while to praise the new layout and content of the Sporting Green in the San Francisco Chronicle.  I slammed the old one (maybe everyone was busy doing mock-ups), so I should say that the layout looks great, the picture selection is much better and there seems to be much more content.

With the new, more prominent headings, if you see a headline like “Ducks Beat Bruins,” you even have a shot at telling whether it is in woman’s soccer or men’s football, with out undertaking a proctologic examination of the article.

But here is a perennial problem that has not been addressed:  Why do the TV listings omit cable telecasts?  I doubt that Chronicle readers predominantly use rabbit ears.  And I am not just talking about the live coverage of tennis tournaments on the Tennis Channel or basketball on NBA TV.

Cal is playing Oregon State today in Corvallis.  That is a game many people would like to see.  According to the TV listings in the Green, the game is not on TV.  But in scrolling through the listings on Comcast Cable, I see that it will be live on Channel 415, the Fox College Sports Pacific channel on all Bay Area cables.  Granted not everyone has the sports package, but many sports fans do and if they knew games like this were on, maybe they would get it.  Is Roxie Bernstein paying someone off?

Additionally, the Green never indicates if games are in HD.  If you have an HD set, that is an important factor is deciding whether to watch. And it would pressure the broadcasters to give us more HD.  We are supposed to be happy that 75 Giants games and 75 A’s games will be in HD this year.  Whoop de doo.  They should all be in HD!

Kenny Albert Should Replace Joe Buck as Fox’s No. 1 NFL Voice Before We Are All in a Coma

•January 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I heard an amazing thing Saturday evening: an NFL broadcasting team that actually sounded like it was enjoying the game! And on Fox even, home of the portentous Joe Buck.

Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony “Goose” Siragusa rolled into the night appreciating the Arizona Cardinals’ upset of the Carolina Panthers. As the game got more and more out of hand, the broadcasting team became more and more interesting as they explained why it was happening and reveled in the unlikeliness of it all.

albertjohnston

Albert oozed the enthusiasm he inherited from his dad Marv while the two analysts sparred on issues such as whether to go for a field goal or why Carolina QB Jake Delhomme kept throwing interceptions.

It was like being at the game with a few friends, not that one is likely to have friends who know so much. Johnston, who played on three Super Bowl teams with Dallas, and Siragusa, who was a key player in the Ravens victory in Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, easily switch from talking about their experiences on the road to the Championship to dealing with the potentially stultifying statistics that Fox supplies visually and aurally for the ADHD among its viewers.

When three Baltimore Ravens are arrayed on the bottom of the screen, Siragusa avoids a potentially deadly roll call of achievements by vigorously saying, ” look at that guy!” as rookie quarterback Joe Flacco’s picture is vigorously circled with a telestrator. The easy repartee is all the more remarkable because Siragusa is standing on the field in the Erin Andrews position, which you would never know if they did not show him every now and then, because he is a full participant.

Finally, as Kurt Warner did his final kneel down, Albert intoned, “I have one more for you Daryl. This is only the sixth time in NFL post-season history that a team with six losses on the road has beaten a team that was undefeated at home” or something like that.   Johnston interrupted Albert by saying, “too much thinking for me,” and continued on in the background with references to smoke coming out of his ears, and the like.

Sadly, that is it for the Albert team this year. It is back to the mausoleum with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman next week for the Eagles-Cardinals. Back to the grave business of pro football.

Where, exactly, was Joe Buck while his father Jack was urging St Louis Cardinal fans to “go crazy folks” when the Redbirds won a playoff game* or telling a national radio audience that “I don’t believe what I just saw” after Kurt Gibson’s 1988 world Series blast off of the Eck?**

Was he reading a book?  He is bloodless!

Although I appreciate Brent Musburger’s work these days on the NBA and college football, it was a liberating day in 1990 when CBS removed his stranglehold on its sports programming.

Please Fox, get rid of Buck. And you don’t have to look far for an NFL replacement. Marv’s son, who kept stats for his dad at a New York Rangers game when he was six years old, is right there in your stable.

* “Smith corks one into right, down the line! It may go! Go crazy folks, go crazy! It’s a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3 to 2, on a home run by the Wizard! Go Crazy!”

** “Gibson swings, and a fly ball to deep right field! This is gonna be a home run! Unbelievable! A home run for Gibson! And the [Dodgers] have won the game, 5 to 4; I don’t believe…what I just saw! I don’t believe what I just saw!”

UPDATE: Check out this comment on deadspin by Bobby_Big_ Wheel:

It’s fun to imagine Joe Buck doing other famous calls:

Dave Silk clears the puck, it doesn’t look like the Soviets will be able to regroup in time, and the U.S. advances to the gold medal game against Finland.

Ted Robinson Is a Fine Pick to Announce the 49ers

•January 6, 2009 • 1 Comment

The San Francisco 49ers revealed today that Ted Robinson is going to be their new announcer. I feel badly for Joe Fonzi, who did a great job on two games this year, but I look forward to listening to Robinson each Sunday.

Robinson has been in the Bay Area for a long time.  He was the voice of the Warriors right after Bill King and called the Giants and A’s as well as many Cal and Stanford games in various sports.  He is NBC’s tennis announcer, but his run at the U.S. Tennis Open was ending as that was for the USA network, which has lost that contract.

robinsonted

I remember him best for a call-in show on KCBS.  Unlike the moron who presently occupies the evening slot on KNBR, Robinson was willing and able to discuss arcane legal and business issues of sports.  He did not yell or repeat the same thing over and over.  One learned a lot from the show and it attracted intelligent callers.

Just last week, Robinson did drive time for KNBR.  What a pleasure.  Couldn’t he also replace Damon Bruce, who cuts callers off if they start using multi-syllable words.

UPDATE: TED ROBINSON ON MARK MCGUIRE

Washington Post Article on Bush Aides Is Press Release in Disguise

•January 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I didn’t know the Washington Post ran press releases on its front page. But clearly, actual journalism was not practiced in Friday’s interview with Bush “senior staffers” Joshua Bolton and Stephen Hadley.

Reporter Michael Abramowitz states that he participated in a “wide-ranging conversation lasting more than two hours” with the two, but he either was not allowed to ask any real questions or he could not think of any. Certainly, there is no evidence of any attempt to penetrate the hagiographic haze dispersed by two men who are well qualified to join W in the dock at the Hague.

Bolton and Hadley seek to dispel the notion that Bush doesn’t really make decisions and that Dick Cheney actually has been in charge. Their method is making vague statements that can never be checked, such as when Bolton attempts to show Bush is “very good about hearing and wanting contrary advice” by asserting that, “plenty of times, I have said, ‘Boy, I think that’s a terrible idea.'”

“Idea” about what? Maybe whether to work on legs or arms at the gym.

Bush

No details are offered. Was Abramowitz prohibited from following up on these vague, but adamant assertions? Seriously, was he?

If there were ground rules for the interview, like no follow-ups or no specifics, we should be told about them. If Hadley and Bolton simply refused to provide the details, we are entitled to know that also. If we have to read every “you know” from Caroline Kennedy, these two should not be so sanitized.

Another example. Hadley is quoted as asserting that, “one of the mythologies is that it was the vice president that somehow was pulling the strings on foreign policy in the first term and made it very ideologically driven and that somehow in the second term, the vice president’s influence is in decline and, therefore, somehow the real Bush has come forward, and we have a more pragmatic foreign policy.” Hadley then says this is “just hooey. ”

However, there is never any example of Bush doing anything significant. Hadley’s example is that Bush reviewed lists of incidents and casualties at daily 7 a.m. meetings and sometimes asked for more details. Hadley says that shows Bush knew “what was going on.”

I watch Sportscenter, but I don’t think I am running the Dodgers. The only decision that Hadley actually links to Bush is “the surge.” Funny, that is the only move that is widely asserted to have “worked,’ whatever that means.

Did Bush know that Cheney had set up his own intelligence office that only wanted information showing that Saddam Hussein did have WMDs? Abramowitz either didn’t ask or wasn’t told.

There are no discussions about whether Bush approved of Cheney and Addington’s circumvention of the normal legal channels to have the domestic spying, rendition and torture programs approved. There is no discussion of Bush’s knowledge of or role in the disastrous decisions related to the occupation credited to Cheney in several authoritative publications.

Without these details, this article is as believable as Larry Craig.

Hey, I know how to write a press release and send it to a newspaper. Sometimes, if I am lucky, it is published as news. But we deserve more from the Washington Post when it gains access to two key members of this secretive administration.

Also posted on Huffingtonpost.com