Did the White House force the
indictment of Barry Bonds?
The Barry Bonds,
Strom Thurmond, Piggly Wiggly connection
Beware! This is a conspiracy theory alert: Did the White
House lend a hand in pushing forward the indictment of
ex-SF Giants slugger Barry Bonds?
say? Maybe, maybe not.
The most obvious
question is, why would anyone in the White House even
want to be involved?
Major League Baseball has a long, warm and congenial
relationship with the government reaching as far back as
1922, when Oliver Wendell Holmes and his pals on the
Supreme Court granted to white baseball leagues
exemption from anti-trust laws.
Congress has refused to exert any influence that might
have urged baseball owners to come out of the 14th
Century in regards to its labor policies, which have
radically changed only due to political pressure on the
part of the union.
In the current
imbroglio surrounding performance enhancing drugs, the
owners utilized their close connections to Congress to
set up a fraudulent commission to "investigate" the
players' drug usage, but it appears the commission's
real purpose is to absolve the owners of any
participation in the drug scandal.
President George Bush, himself a former baseball owner,
might be inclined to get the ball rolling on the Barry
Bonds trial, which, it is hoped by many, will once and
for all place the spotlight of the drug scandal totally
on the players and away from the owners.
On Dec. 3, 2003,
Bonds testified before a federal grand jury, charged
with the investigation of the Balco drug scandal, that
he had never knowingly taken steroids or other
performance enhancing drugs. Balco was the South San
Francisco drug company that had manufactured steroids
and other performance enhancing drugs that were sold to
numerous professional and amateur athletes.
trainer Greg Anderson admitted to having a business
relationship with Balco laboratories and said he had
sold steroids to some athletes. But he refused to
testify against Bonds.
that, in exchange for his confession, he had been
assured he would not have to testify before the grand
jury. The judge, however, said no evidence existed of
such a promise, and for consecutive terms he jailed the
former trainer for refusing to testify.
conclusion of the Balco hearings, U.S. Attorney Kevin
Phillips refused or failed to file an indictment against
Bonds. Meanwhile, Anderson remained incarcerated.
That is where
matters stood until Nov. 15, 2007, when everything
suddenly changed and Bonds was indicted. What happened?
In December 2006,
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales infamously fired seven
U.S. Attorneys in a move that was widely perceived as an
attempt to replace them with others who were more
responsive to political pressure.
For instance, in
eastern Arkansas, Timothy Griffin was named the new
federal prosecutor. Formerly, Griffin had been an
assistant to presidential advisor Karl Rove and served
as the head of research for the Republican National
In this role,
Griffin was in charge of the scheme to remove Blacks,
the homeless and soldiers from Ohio voting roles in the
In San Francisco,
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan was removed allegedly because
he mismanaged his office and was replaced by Scott
Schools from South Carolina.
Enter the Strom
In 2002, in a
classic case of nepotism and as a retirement present to
Strom Thurmond, President Bush - instead of giving
Thurmond a gold watch - appointed Thurmond's son, Strom
Jr., a recent graduate of the University of South
Carolina's law school, to the lofty position of U.S.
Attorney for South Carolina.
At 28, Thurmond was
the youngest and probably least qualified person ever to
be named a U.S. Attorney, a post he held onto for just
two years, during which time he prosecuted seven cases.
To aid the
inexperienced Thurmond, however, the Justice Department
saw to it that Schools was named the deputy prosecutor,
whose essential duties were to manage the office.
however, Schools is also from a Southern family of
grandfather, Joseph Newton, was the founder and CEO of
the Piggly Wiggly Corp. For those unfamiliar with Piggly
Wiggly outlets, think Safeway with a southern accent.
Burt Schools, and Newton's son in law, became the second
in command at Piggly Wiggly, and today Scott's brother,
David, serves as a high level exec at the firm.
As an attorney and
prosecutor in South Carolina, Schools earned a
reputation as someone who practiced law to advance an
"Schools has enough
money that he doesn't have to practice law. It's more a
form of recreation for him. He's been programmed as a
Republican operative for the past 20 years and is a
perfect stalking horse for an ideologue like George
Bush," noted Charleston attorney and Democrat Waring
Howe Jr. in an article published by
Brett Bursey is
another Schools critic from South Carolina. In 2002,
Bursey was arrested in Columbia, South Carolina, for
holding up a sign at a Bush press conference that said,
"No more war for oil."
Though the state
charges were dropped against Bursey, deputy federal
prosecutor Schools immediately filed federal charges
under the Presidential Assassination, Kidnapping and
Threats statute, thus making Bursey the first citizen
prosecuted under this law.
He was convicted
and paid a $500 fine.
Bursey, who was
recently interviewed by labor journalist Steve Zeltzer,
says that among some, Schools is seen as a practicing
politician as opposed to a practicing attorney, "willing
to expend energy and resources in the pursuit of trivial
Though Schools was
named merely an interim federal prosecutor, it was felt
by many observers of the office that either Schools
would attempt to win the permanent nomination for
himself or Joseph Russionello, a popular previous U.S.
Attorney here, would be nominated.
For months however,
no nomination was forthcoming.
And Bonds, with the
allegations of perjury at the Balco investigation
hanging over his head and mobs of drunken and racist
fans in the nation's ballparks pelting him with verbal
abuse, continued his relentless march toward Hank
Aaron's home run record.
But through the
summer months and into the fall there was no word - no
word on the indictment and no word on a permanent
replacement at the U.S. Attorney's office.
Finally, on Nov.
15, just days after the conclusion of the baseball
season, everything came together.
At the same moment
George Bush was naming Joseph Russionello, who, as a
previous U.S. Attorney, had once returned $35,000 to
Nicaraguan cocaine traffickers, to the post of federal
prosecutor in Northern California, Scott Schools was
signing the Bonds indictment and releasing it to the
press for scrutiny.
nearly forgotten Anderson was released from prison.
Lance Williams, the
San Francisco Chronicle reporter who co-wrote the
original articles on the Balco and Bonds events and who
has written a book, the rights of which have recently
been sold to HBO to make a film, once marveled how
President Bush had called him and told him what a public
service he (Williams) had performed by exposing the
A public service or
a service to the baseball owners and their friend, the
Does one need to be
paranoid to think there is a likely connection between
the White House and the remarkable events of Nov. 15?
If reading any of
the above causes a sense of paranoia, don't despair. You
can rest assured all your enemies are real!
Jean Damu is a
former member of the International Brotherhood of
Sleeping Car Porters, taught Black Studies at the
University of New Mexico, has traveled and written
extensively in Cuba and Africa and currently serves as a
member of the Steering Committee of the Black Alliance
for Just Immigration. Email him at
* * *
* * * *
The Heart of Whiteness
The first, and
perhaps most crucial, fear is that of facing
the fact that some of what we white people
have is unearned. It's a truism that we
don't really make it on our own; we all have
plenty of help to achieve whatever we
achieve. That means that some of what we
have is the product of the work of others,
distributed unevenly across society, over
which we may have little or no control
individually. No matter how hard we work or
how smart we are, we all know — when we are
honest with ourselves — that we did not get
where we are by merit alone. And many white
people are afraid of that fact.
A second fear is crasser: White people's
fear of losing what we have — literally the
fear of losing things we own if at some
point the economic, political, and social
systems in which we live become more just
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus
By Charles C. Mann
a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous
New Revelations of the Americas Before
Columbus, in which he
provides a sweeping and provocative
examination of North and South America
prior to the arrival of Christopher
Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched
but so wonderfully written that it’s
anything but exhausting to read. With
1493, Mann has taken it to a
new, truly global level. Building on the
groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby
The Columbian Exchange and, I’m
proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer),
Mann has written nothing less than the
story of our world: how a planet of what
were once several autonomous continents
is quickly becoming a single,
Mann not only talked to countless
scientists and researchers; he visited
the places he writes about, and as a
consequence, the book has a marvelously
wide-ranging yet personal feel as we
follow Mann from one far-flung corner of
the world to the next. And always, the
prose is masterful. In telling the
improbable story of how Spanish and
Chinese cultures collided in the
Philippines in the sixteenth century, he
takes us to the island of Mindoro whose
“southern coast consists of a number of
small bays, one next to another like
tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how
the spread of malaria, the potato,
tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar
cane have disrupted and convulsed the
planet and will continue to do so until
we are finally living on one integrated
or at least close-to-integrated Earth.
Whether or not the human instigators of
all this remarkable change will survive
the process they helped to initiate more
than five hundred years ago remains,
Mann suggests in this monumental and
revelatory book, an open question.
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music)
posted 7 December 2007 /
update 7 February 2012