Dave Gilson

Dave Gilson

Senior editor

Senior editor at Mother Jones. Obsessive generalist, word wrangler, data cruncher, pun maker.

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Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. Read more of his stories, follow him on Twitter, or contact him.

What Color is Richard Pombo's Parachute?

| Mon Nov. 20, 2006 9:33 PM EST

I try to ignore press releases like this, but this post-election PR stunt caught my attention when it popped into my inbox:

After the mid-term elections, six senators and twenty-one representatives are now out of a job, with five House incumbents still waiting to hear. To help these civic-minded men and women in their search for a new career and a new life, Ten Speed Press is donating a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?—the world's best-selling job-hunting, career-changing, and soul-searching manual—to every incumbent who lost a seat in the election. Books have been mailed out and will arrive on the desks of the outgoing legislators in time for Christmas.

Pretty clever—who knew that book was even still around? I like this bit of career advice for soon-to-be former California Rep. Richard Pombo, who has said he will become a lobbyist for property-rights (read: anti-environmental) groups as soon as the revolving door is opened for him: "Mr. Pombo may be an experienced agenda-pusher, but perhaps he may be better suited for a job as an actuary or a florist." I dunno. I think Pombo's parachute is any color but green.

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Guantanamo Roundup: New Courtrooms, Shackles in the O.R., and the Quiet Release of More Detainees

| Mon Nov. 20, 2006 6:04 PM EST

In today's Gitmo news... The Miami Herald reports that the Pentagon has big plans for the detention center there—a $75 million-plus "legal compound" to house the long-awaited military commissions. Some features of the offshore hall of justice:

It would have two courtrooms; housing for up to 1,200 U.S. forces, lawyers, members of the news media and other visitors; a 100-car motor pool; an 800-person dining facility; conference and closed-circuit television facilities and a secure work space for classified material.

Amnesty International has slammed the Pentagon for planning "a permanent homage to its failed experiment in second-class justice." The scheme still has to get through Congress.

Meanwhile, a federal judge has denied a prisoner's request to get a cardiac procedure off-site. The prisoner is Saifullah Paracha, AKA Detainee 1094, who needs a cardiac catheterization.

Paracha's lawyer said that his client complained that several simple diagnostic examinations were not performed adequately by doctors at Guantanamo Naval Hospital. Gaillard Hunt, Paracha's lawyer, said that his client has had his hands and feet shackled when being examined at the base hospital and that several attempts to perform an electrocardiogram, or EKG, proved difficult for base medical staff.

The judge said he was "troubled by the shackling allegations," but ruled against Paracha anyway. Paracha caught our attention a few months ago for being a bit of a wise guy in one of his tribunal hearings.

And in a quiet milestone, the U.S. has released "the last remaining Guantanamo detainees determined to be no longer enemy combatants." The three prisoners are being sent to Albania, leaving behind 430 detainees in Cuba, awaiting their day in the shiny new coutroom.

Before You See Fast Food Nation

| Fri Nov. 17, 2006 7:02 PM EST
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Fast Food Nation, Richard Linklater's movie adaptation of Eric Schlosser's seemingly unadaptable muckraking book, hits theaters today. Before you dig in, whet your appetite with our recent interview with Linklater and our review of the flim. And check out this piece Schlosser wrote for MJ about slaughterhouses—America's most dangerous workplaces. Bon apetit!

Will Gates Open the Floodgates in Iraq?

| Fri Nov. 17, 2006 2:50 PM EST
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That's the question posed by Tom Engelhardt in a new piece that deflates some of the hype surrounding the retun of Robert Gates and Jim Baker. The conventional wisdom is that "daddy's boys" have arrived to (once again) save George W. Bush's butt from a fiasco of his own making. (See this week's Newsweek cover for the short version of this satisfying pop psych-meets-poli sci analysis.) But Engelhardt suspects that rather than advocating redeployment or withdrawal, Gates and Baker may just prolong our involvement by signing onto the recently floated plans to send more troops to give it the old school try:

...[P]erhaps the disaster behind us will be nothing compared to the disaster ahead, especially if Daddy's Boys, the Iraq Study Group, other Democratic and Republican movers and shakers, and all those generals and former generals floating around our world decide that this isn't the moment to rediscover a Colin Powell-style "exit strategy," but "one last chance" to succeed by any definition in Iraq. Then, god help us -- and the Iraqis. Sooner or later, we'll undoubtedly be gone from a land so determinedly hostile to being occupied by us, but that end moment could still be a long, long time in coming.

Here, for instance, is Robert Gates' thinking eighteen months ago in a seminar at the Panetta Institute at California State University in Monterey on "phased troop withdrawals" from Iraq:

"But Mr. Gates qualified his comments, noting it sometimes takes time to accomplish your goals. Sixty years after the end of the Second World War, 'there are still American troops in Germany,' he noted. 'We've had troops in Korea for over 50 years. The British have had troops in Cyprus for 40 years… If you want to change history, you have to be prepared to stay as long as it takes to do the job."

So hold onto your hats. Tragedy and more tragedy seems almost guaranteed, and the Pentagon has just submitted to Congress a staggering $160 billion supplemental appropriation request in order to continue its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Engelhardt says we should expect "endless months or years of non-withdrawal withdrawal plans" combined with preparations for a permanent American presence in Iraq (a story that hasn't received much mainstream attention but was covered in MJ last year.) George Bush Sr.'s cavalry may have arrived, but we're far from being rescued.

Golden Gate Bridge: Your Ad Here

| Thu Nov. 16, 2006 8:57 PM EST
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The rebranding and repackaging of America marches on... The SF Chronicle reports that the cash-strapped Golden Gate has hired a consultant to look for corporate sponsors:

The consultant's recommendations could include installing signs at the south visitors area or on benches and sidewalks at the ends of the bridge.

"This is not a naming rights deal," cautioned bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie. "It's more of a behind-the-scenes, low-key, corporate partnership, much like the Proud Partners Program in the national parks."

[snip]

According to the pending contract, "the sponsorship program must enhance the value of the Golden Gate Bridge's 'brand' and its image as an internationally recognized icon of historical engineering and architectural significance."

Bartram and Currie said the district's plans follow the lead of the National Park Service's "Proud Partners Program," which has raised $100 million from corporations such as Discover and Ford Motor Co. Currie noted that signs at trailheads in some parks greet hikers with: "This trail brought to you by Ford."

Hopefully any Silicon Valley companies thinking about getting a piece of the bridge will consider the cautionary tale of microchip magnate Max Zorin's unsuccessful 1985 attempt to use the bridge in his bid for world corporate domination.

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