Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chicago White Sox Acquire Ken Griffey, Jr

The Cincinnati Reds have traded future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey, Jr to the Chicago White Sox for relief pitcher Nick Masset, minor league infielder Danny Richar and an undisclosed amount of cash.

As with yesterday's trade for Ivan Rodriguez by the Yankees, I am not sure how this improves the Chisox.

However, I can think of two reasons why this deal was consummated.

First, White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams has previous sought out Griffey, Jr. The Chisox nearly acquired Griffey, Jr in July 2005 but the Reds backed out of the deal at the last minute citing financial concerns. This is why Williams made sure the Reds got some cash.

It is worth noting, however, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005 without any help from Griffey, Jr.

But this brings me to reason number two. Griffey, Jr has never played in a World Series. In fact, he hasn't played in the post season since 1997 when he was a member of the Seattle Mariners. Griffey, Jr had gone to the Reds by the time the Mariners had their greatest successes in 2000 and 2001.

What better way for Griffey, Jr to exit the game than to retire with a World Series ring?

The White Sox are currently in first place in the AL Central Division but hold only a one and a half game lead over the Minnesota Twins.

Griffey, Jr was hitting .245 with 15 home runs and 53 RBIs this season with the Reds. Last night, Griffey, Jr hit his 608th career home run in the Reds 9-5 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston. His next home run will tie him with Sammy Sosa for 5th on the MLB all time home run list.

Man Beheaded Aboard Greyhound Bus Near Winnipeg

This is very, very upsetting.

I have just read an extremely disturbing story on

A young man was murdered late last night on a Greyhound Bus travelling between Edmonton and Winnipeg. This young man, who has yet to be identified, was estimated to be between 18 to 20 years old and was wearing his headphones when suddenly another passenger began stabbing him repeatedly.

The man was stabbed between 50 to 60 times. The rest of the passengers, including young children, evacuated the bus. Three passengers went back into to check in on the victim who had just been beheaded. The assailant began swinging his knife at the three men before dropping the head in front of them. The assailant attempted to drive the bus away but the driver fortunately had disabled the bus. The murder took place west of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

The assailant has been arrested and the RCMP is expected to make a statement later this afternoon. It appears to be have been a random act.

When I travel I usually do so by bus. So this has me just a bit spooked. I realize this could have happened just as easily on a train or plane. But given the sudden nature of the attack and the anonymous nature of buses I might be a little more aware of my surroundings the next time I board a Greyhound.

It remains to be seen whether the Canadian government will take steps to improve security measures aboard Greyhound but they should strongly consider it. This is not the first time there has been an attack aboard a Greyhound Canada bus although this is without question the most serious incident.

In 2000, a pregnant woman was attacked on a Greyhound Bus in London, Ontario. Later that year, a man tried to take control of a Greyhound Bus outside my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The bus flipped on its side into a ditch which would later result in the death of a female passenger. There were also two incidents last year. One where a group of youths beat a bus driver in Lloydminster, Alberta and another where a passenger was stabbed near Tweed, Ontario. That would probably have been an Ottawa-Toronto bus. I used to travel by bus from Ottawa to Toronto and we would have our rest stop in Tweed.

But for the grace of G-d....

Obama Plays The Racism Card....Again

Yesterday, while campaigning in Springfield, Missouri, Barack Obama said, "Nobody thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face. So what they are going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all of those other presidents on dollar bills." (

Clearly by "they" Obama is referring to Bush and McCain.

A McCain spokesman said of Obama's remark, "Like most celebrities, he reacts to fair criticism with a mix of fussiness and hysteria."

I would rather if the McCain campaign said that Obama was cheapening the meaning of racism and therefore cheapening himself.

Be that as it may, the Obama campaign stated he was referring to right-wing talk show hosts and not McCain.

OK then which right wing talk radio hosts have made Obama's race an issue in this campaign?

I bet Obama can't name them much less find anything they said objectionable.

Obama, of course, played the race card back in June at a Democratic fundraiser when he said, "They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

Barack Obama is doing a fine job of making the American people afraid of him all on his own.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yankees Acquire Ivan Rodriguez from Tigers for Kyle Farnsworth

I don't get this trade at least where it concerns the Yankees.

Yes, Jorge Posada is having season ending shoulder surgery. But the Yankees have a more than capable catcher in Jose Molina. I suppose they want Pudge's bat but he is no longer a power hitter. The flip side of this is that Pudge is a free agent at the end of the season so the Yankees are essentially renting him for two months.

Ivan Rodriguez is a future first ballot Hall of Famer who has played with the Tigers since 2004. Although Pudge won a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins in 2003 at the expense of the Yankees I don't think he will add much to the Bronx Bombers. At the very least, the Yankees gave up too much to get him.

I am not a big Kyle Farnsworth fan. However, he is probably playing the best baseball of his life. Since the Yankees put Joba Chamberlain into the starting rotation, Farnsworth has been Mariano Rivera's 8th inning set up man and has excelled. The Tigers definitely got the better of this deal.

Farnsworth will share set up duties with Joel Zumaya. Given how injury prone Zumaya is the presence of Farnsworth will ease his workload. It is worth noting Farnsworth pitched briefly for the Tigers during the 2005 season and was a teammate of Pudge. The Tigers bullpen has undergone some revamping with Fernando Rodney recently supplanting Todd Jones as the team's closer.

There is just under 23 hours left until the trade deadline. We'll know soon enough if the Red Sox decide to move Manny Ramirez.

New McCain Ad Likens Obama to Britney Spears & Paris Hilton

John McCain, who promised to run a respectful campaign, has put out a new ad comparing Barack Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. The McCain calls Obama "the biggest celebrity in the world."

How could McCain be so vicious to Britney & Paris?

Olmert Will Step Down as Israeli PM in September

It's about bloody time.

Ehud Olmert announced he would be stepping down as Israel's Prime Minister on September 17th. On that date, Olmert's Kadima Party will choose a new leader who will automatically become Prime Minister. Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni is the odds on favorite to succeed Olmert. If she prevails, Livni would become Israel's second female Prime Minister. Golda Meir was the first serving between 1969 to 1973. However, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz is also a likely contender.

Regardless of who succeeds him, Olmert will probably go down as the worst Prime Minister in Israeli history. Aside from resigning because of a corruption investigation, he will always be associated for his mismanagement of the 2006 War between Israel and Hezbollah which was sparked when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Israelis were recently reminded of Olmert's mismanagement when Israel released several notorious Palestinian prisoners including child killer Samir Kuntar in exchange for the coffins holding the remains of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

It will be interesting to see how long Kadima's partnership with the Labor Party lasts once Olmert's successor is chosen. Everything is in the hands of Labor leader and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. However, according to an Angus-Reid poll, Likud Party leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the preferred choice of Israelis to become their new head of government. Netanyahu holds an 8 point lead over Livni and a 22 point lead over Barak. (

Needless to say, I don't Barak will be in any hurry to bring down the government. On the other hand, by not bringing down the government it could give an opportunity for Olmert's successor to shine. Still, I think Barak will take a wait and see approach through 2008.

China Blocks Internet Access for Foreign Journalists

China's Olympic organizing committee said that foreign journalists would not enjoy unfettered internet access during the Games which will begin on August 8th.

The International Olympic Committee had previously stated the Chinese government would allow journalists covering the games full internet access. The Communists, of course, filter Internet content they deem unsuitable for its populace. So if you want to read up on the activities of the Dalai Lama you can't do it in the People's Republic. Unless, of course, you read Xinhua's latest denunciation of the Tibetan spiritual leader. Indeed, last month Chinese President Hu Jintao said the Internet was a "battlefield forward position for the propagation of advanced socialist culture."

If nothing else, American and other Western journalists will have a first hand understanding of what it is like to be deprived of the freedoms which we take for granted.

It might also present an opportunity for journalists to find creative ways to work around the restrictions. Notwithstanding the restrictions, foreign journalists can get away with writing things that native Chinese never could. Would the Chinese actually arrest a foreign journalist? Then again probably not. If a foreign journalist were to run afoul of the Chinese they would simply ask the scribe to leave the country rather than draw negative attention to themselves.

Angels Obtain Teixeira; Lackey Nearly No-Hits Red Sox

The team to beat in the AL isn't the New York Yankees. It isn't the Tampa Bay Rays. It isn't even the Boston Red Sox. The team to beat in the AL, if not all of MLB, is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Angels have dominated the Red Sox this season winning seven straight games against them. Last night, Angels starting pitcher John Lackey came within two outs of tossing a no-hitter against the Red Sox. Lackey, who has struggled at Fenway Park, held the Red Sox hitless until Dustin Pedroia smacked a single just out of the reach of Angels shortstop Macier Izturis. Lackey then lost the shutout by surrendering a two run homerun to Kevin Youkilis. However, Lackey regained his composure and got the complete game victory for a 6-2 Angels win.

Prior to the game, the Angels went from great to astonishing when they acquired the services of first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves. This undoubtedly pumped up Lackey and the Angels. The Angels have long needed a hitter in the lineup who will protect Vladimir Guerrero whose numbers are down this season. To get Teixeira, the Angels gave up first baseman Casey Kotchman and a minor league pitcher.

Kotchman was no slouch. He was leading the team in hits and tied for the team lead in RBI with Guerrero and Torii Hunter. I kind of feel sorry for Kotchman. Yes, he is a major league ballplayer who is making money hand over fist. But Kotchman just went from a playoff bound team to a team with no chance in the NL East much less the NL Wild Card. I don't care how much money you are making. That has got to be a letdown. But he is a professional and I'm sure he'll make the best of his new circumstances.

Teixeira will make his Angels debut tonight in Boston as the Angels and Red Sox play the final game of their current three game series.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Earthquake Hits Los Angeles

Approximately half an hour ago, an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale hit just southeast of Los Angeles. At this point, it is too early to tell what extent the damage is or if there have been any injuries or fatalities.

Remember the Los Angeles earthquake of January 1994?

I sure do. My father was there when it happened. In fact, he arrived in Los Angeles the night before the earthquake hit. He was staying with one of my aunts and the topic of earthquakes came up. My father asked my aunt when earthquakes hit at what time do they usually occur. "About 6 a.m.," my aunt said.

Well, sure enough the earthquake early the following the morning.

My father was sleeping at the time. He woke up and said, "It must be 6 a.m." He promptly fell back asleep.

Actually, the earthquake hit at 4:30 a.m. But for all intents and purposes my Dad slept through a 6.7 earthquake and lived to tell about it. Unfortunately, 72 other people weren't so fortunate.

So hopefully everyone is OK out there.

My Proposed Manny Ramirez Trade

The baseball trade deadline is 4 p.m. this Thursday, July 31st.

So with a little more than 48 hours left, the biggest question is whether the Red Sox will deal the talented but temperamental Manny Ramirez. Manny is in the final year of his 8-year contract with the Sox. The club does have options it can pick up on him in 2009 and 2010. However, his recent behavior has been troubling. He missed a game last Wednesday against Seattle because of a bad knee and missed a second game on Friday against the Yankees ostensibly due to the same injury. He pulled himself out of the lineup during the second game at the last minute. The Sox ordered Ramirez to undergo an MRI which turned up negative. This is on top of his slapping teammate Kevin Youkilis in the dugout during a game in Boston last June as well as his physical assault of 65-year-old Red Sox Travelling Secretary Jack McCormick. Manny has also made critical statements about the team which have drawn the ire of Red Sox principal owner John Henry.

Given the expense of his contract, the Sox will most likely hold onto Manny for the season and then not exercise their option for 2009.

But if they are planning to trade him this is what I see happening.

The Boston Red Sox could trade Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who desperately need a power hitter. The Dodgers would send two or three prospects to the Seattle Mariners (i.e. Ivan DeJesus, Jr, Rob Bell, Scott Elbert and maybe even Clay Kershaw). The Mariners would send outfielder Raul Ibanez to the Red Sox.

This would be a win-win-win. The Dodgers, as mentioned, get a bonafide power hitter. Manny hit his 20th homerun last night. Matt Kemp is leading the Dodgers with 12 homeruns. The Dodgers are currently a game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West and such a trade could put them over the top. The last place Mariners would get top prospects around whom they can rebuild their organization. The Red Sox would get a productive hitting outfielder who won't be a problem in the clubhouse.

However, like most things, trades are easier said than done. But I thought I would put out such a scenario in the unlikely event it should come to pass and in the even unlikelier event I should be called clairvoyant.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Robert Novak Diagnosed with Brain Tumor

I read on that syndicated columnist Robert Novak has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and has been admitted to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston (which is short distance from where I live.)

Last week, Novak made headlines when he hit a 86-year-old pedestrian with the automobile he was driving in Washington, D.C. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.

The 77-year-old been in the journalism business since the end of the Korean War and has enjoyed immense success in both the print and broadcast mediums. In more recent years, he has best known for his role in the Valerie Plame affair.

I must admit I generally find myself at odds with Novak particularly where it concerns foreign policy matters, particularly the War in Iraq and Israel.

Nonetheless, I hope the tumor has been caught early enough so that he can make a full recovery and resume his writing.

McCain Backs Arizona Civil Rights Initiative

During an interview yesterday on ABC's This Week, John McCain gave a boost to the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative which is on the ballot in November. When asked about the ballot measure, McCain indicated his support stating that he has "always opposed quotas."

If passed, the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative would prohibit state government bodies from discriminating or yielding preferential treatment in the areas of education, employment and contracting on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin and gender. Ward Connerly, who is spearheading the initiative, also successfully had a similar measure passed in Michigan in 2006.

Years ago, while still living in Canada, I was an active supporter of affirmative action (or employment equity as it was called there). In fact, I testified in favor of employment equity in front of a legislative standing committee when the NDP government in Ontario introduced it in 1993. I also testified in front of a legislative standing committee when the succeeding Conservative government did away with it in 1995.

In the intervening years, however, I have come to see affirmative action/employment equity as measures that sell short the abilities of the very people they are seeking to help. With that in mind, I hope the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative will pass this fall and McCain's statement in support will certainly help.

Baseball As America Exhibit in Boston

If you find yourself in Boston between now and Labor Day you might want to go to the Museum of Science and check out Baseball As America, the travelling exhibit from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.

Since Goose Gossage, Dick Williams and others were being inducted in Cooperstown yesterday I thought the next best thing to being at the Hall was to be at this exhibit.

Naturally there are a number of Red Sox exhibits of recent vintage including Curt Schilling's bloody sock from the 2004 ALCS, the cap worn by 2007 World Series MVP Mike Lowell and the helmet worn by Manny Ramirez when he hit his 500th career homerun on May 31st of this year.

Of course, there are exhibits of an older vintage including Jackie Robinson's Brooklyn Dodgers jersey from 1956 (his final season there); a letter from President John F. Kennedy to Jackie Robinson concerning civil rights; the San Diego Chicken; a picture of King George V greeting the New York Giants and Chicago White Sox on a tour of Europe in the 1920s and the uniform worn by Eddie Gaedel, the 3,7 dwarf who had one plate appearance for the St. Louis Browns during a 1951 Sunday doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. Gaedel was told not to swing at any pitch. When Gaedel said he wanted to swing, Browns owner Bill Veeck told him there was a sniper on the roof who would shoot him dead. Gaedel walked on four pitches.

The exhibit also had pitching machines and a batting machine which tested one's reflexes. Needless to say, my baseball playing talents are not visible to the naked eye.

But if you are in Boston and there's rain in the forecast you can spend a couple of hours at this exhibit. For more information you can check out the The Museum of Science online at

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yesssssssss! Girls' aptitude for math now equal to boys

Finally, societal stereotyping of the sexes has been reduced, allowing girls' real aptitude for math to come through. This is a welcome finding for those of us who do not buy into the Larry Summers' and mail-order-degree-John-Gray-Men-are-from-Mars-Women-are-From-Venus mentality which asserts that women are genetically emotionally and mentally different than men.
A new study puts to rest one of the most widespread myths about boys' and girls' aptitude in math. After analyzing 7 million test scores, researchers found no difference...the new study concludes that the gender gap has vanished among students of all ages.
Girls actually performed slightly better than the boys:
In 21, boys did slightly better than girls; in 36, girls did slightly better than boys; in nine, they were matched.
Asian girls actually outperform Asian males. Although girls still lag behind on the math section of SAT scores, it is because more girls take the SAT than boys, dipping further down into the female talent pool which pulls the average down.

Obviously, if you give little girls dolls and little boys building blocks, and they see their gender playing with those kinds of toys on TV commercials, you influence their interests and brain development from a young age. I'm just surprised influence like that has finally been countered in my lifetime.
Read the article

Obama snubs our soldiers in Afghanistan

From U.S. soldier serving in Afghanistan (I left his name out since I do not know if he wants to be identified) -

Hello everyone,
As you know I am not a very political person. I just wanted to pass along that Senator Obama came to Bagram Afghanistan for about an hour on his visit to "The War Zone". I wanted to share with you what happened. He got off the plan and got into a bullet proof vehicle, got to the area to meet with the Major General (2 Star) who is the commander here at Bagram. As the Soldiers where lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn't say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the General. As he finished, the vehicles took him to the ClamShell (pretty much a big top tent that military personnel can play basketball or work out in with weights) so he could take his publicity pictures playing basketball. He again shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service. So really he was just here to make a showing for the American's back home that he is their candidate for President. I think that if you are going to make an effort to come all the way over here you would thank those that are providing the freedom that they are providing for you. I swear we got more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders than from one of the Senators, who wants to be the President of the United States. I just don't understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-and-Chief. It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.

If this is blunt and to the point I am sorry but I wanted you all to know what kind of caliber of person he really is. What you see in the news is all fake.

Update: Someone posted a comment after this post linking to a snopes reference stating that the account was false. Read through the Snopes entry yourself and decide. I don't think it establishes that it is false, I think it just establishes that the soldier got in trouble for writing about it. He doesn't deny writing it or say that he made it up. He'd emailed the account to his friends and family, never expecting it to go public.

Obama Snubs U.S.Troops in Germany

At the last minute, Barack Obama cancelled a visit with U.S. troops stationed at Ramstein Airbase as well visiting wounded troops at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

The reason? That it would be "inappropriate" to visit the troops in the context of a political campaign. When Obama visited troops in Iraq it was as part of a congressional delegation.

But Obama could have got around that and he knows it. I am sure there are troops at Ramstein and Landstuhl who are from Illinois. Couldn't he have visited them in his capacity as the junior Senator from Illinois? Evidently not. But then again why visit the troops when you can be fawned by 200,000 adoring Germans?

McCain rightly chastised Obama when he said "it is never inappropriate to visit our men and women in the military."

So now the Obama campaign is saying the Pentagon told them not to visit the troops.


Barack Obama sure has a lot of audacity.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama Takes Berlin

But first he needs to take Manhattan.

Which he undoubtedly will.

Yet it appears Obama ought to be more concerned with Bemidji & Boulder than Berlin.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If McCain Loses The Campaign, We Lose The War

I read about John McCain's interview with Katie Couric last night. McCain said that Barack Obama by refusing to acknowledge the success of the surge in Iraq "would rather lose a war than lose a campaign."

McCain has often said "he would rather lose a campaign than lose a war."

I have no doubt McCain believes this with every fibre of his being.

But there's a hitch in this logic. If McCain loses this campaign, we lose the war.

If McCain is going to talk about losing that is where he needs to direct the voters' attention.

He must tell the American voter that only John McCain can lead America to victory in Iraq (and for that matter Afghanistan).

He must also tell the American voter that by electing Barack Obama, we lose the War in Iraq and for all intents and purposes the War on Terror.

These are stark terms. But this is the only way McCain can put Obama on the defensive.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Estelle Getty, 1923-2008. R.I.P.

I just read on that actress Estelle Getty died this morning after a lengthy bout with dementia which kept her out of the public eye most of this decade. She passed away three days shy of her 85th birthday.

Getty is best known for her work on the NBC TV series The Golden Girls which aired from 1985 through 1992 where she played Sophia Petrillo, the mother of Dorothy Zbornak played by Bea Arthur. She would reprise her role on the short lived CBS spin off Golden Palace (1992-93) and during the final two seasons of the NBC sitcom Empty Nest (1993-94 & 1994-95).

Although The Golden Girls still airs in syndication I must admit I have not watched it in years. However, I do remember watching it during the 1980s and my father particularly liking Getty's character. He noted that because of her age she (and to a lesser extent her co-stars) could get away with saying things that perhaps network censors would not let a younger character utter.

Years later I had the opportunity on a couple of occasions to meet Andrew K. Stone, who was a writer on the show. I shared my father's observations about the show and admitted he had not thought it about it that way but was intrigued nonetheless.

Anyway, I'm sure the Lifetime Channel, which airs The Golden Girls in syndication, will probably have some kind of tribute to Getty in which case I'll probably take in an episode or two.

Monday, July 21, 2008

ASEAN Presses Myanmar to Release Suu Kyi

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) convened over the weekend in Singapore and criticized the Myanmar military junta's continued imprisonment of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The junta's Foreign Affairs Minister subsequently assured his counterpart in Singapore that Suu Kyi would be released in 6 months when her sentence is due to end.

This belongs in the "I'll believe it when I see it" category. Of course, they could release her only to detain her again and put her under house arrest.

I trust Myanmar's military junta about as much as I trust Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe & Tsvangirai Meet To Agree To Meet

For the first time in a decade, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai met at the behest of South African President Thabo Mbeki today and have agreed to meet within two weeks to discuss a power sharing agreement.

Forgive me if I'm not too excited about this development. I'm not suggesting it isn't insignficant. Obviously pressure has been brought to bear againt Mugabe and Mugabe has decided it is his in his best interests to meet with Tsvangirai and give the appearance of being amenable to compromise. But if anyone thinks Mugabe is going to relinquish any meaningful power to Tsvangirai or to anyone else is living in a fantasy world.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gramm Leaves McCain Campaign

Former U.S. Senator and one time Presidential hopeful Phil Gramm resigned from John McCain's campaign today. Earlier this month, Gramm had said America had become "a nation of whiners" and was suffering from a "mental recession". Gramm was commenting on the perception that America's economy is a lot worse than actually is when compared to the rest of the industrialized world.

There were kernels of truth in Gramm's sentiments but the worse thing one can do during an election campaign is insult the people who you are trying to win over. Gramm tried to say he meant our leaders were whiners but when one says "a nation of whiners" you are talking about the folks as well.

Gramm had his Tremeloes moment. The Tremeloes were a British rock band whose reputation soured when they referred to their fans as morons while trying to make a comeback. Their comeback was obviously unsuccessful.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Appeals Court upholds arresting illegal immigrants using human smuggling statute

Just a day after the Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced that it had prosecuted 750 illegal immigrants so far under the state's human smuggling statute, the AZ Court of Appeals upheld the interpretation of law permitting them to do so. Illegal immigrants can be arrested for hiring smugglers - legally considered conspiring to smuggle themselves into the country. The judge found that Arizona's law was not preempted by federal law, since it was not trying to regulate immigration, and said that if the law wasn't mean to apply to smugglees, then the legislature could have revised it but didn't. This is one of the more novel ways local government has gotten around the federal government's failure to pass workable immigration laws. Read more here.

Is Michelle Obama Above Criticism?

In an interview with Glamour magazine, Barack Obama states he does not have "thick skin when it comes to criticism of his wife." (

The Democratic Party standard bearer went on to say, "It's infuriating, but it's not surprising because let's face it; what happened was that the conservative press -- Fox News and the National Review and columnists of every ilk -- went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way, and treated her as the candidate in a way that you just rarely see the Democrats try to do against the Republicans."

So is Barack Obama telling us that Michelle Obama is above criticism?

Fox News and National Review didn't suddenly gang up on Michelle Obama. They did what news organizations and journals do when public figures make questionable statements. When a possible future First Lady tells the world that she is proud of her country for the very first time it warrants comment. If Cindy McCain had made a questionable comment she would be similarly scrutinized.

I see Obama's statement as a sign of either one of two things.

One, Obama has got incredibly thin skin. He's going to have get used to people not worshipping the ground on which he walks. It comes with the territory. If Obama genuinely wants Michelle to be left alone then he should leave her out of the limelight. But Michelle Obama isn't Bess Truman. She wants to be in the public eye. As such one must be prepared for that eye to view her in less than flattering terms.

Two, Obama knows perfectly well that his wife will inevitably criticized. He also knows perfectly well that he's getting a lot of scrutiny for his forthcoming trip to Iraq from both the Left and the Right. What better away to deflect attention away from Obama's Iraq position than by putting Michelle in front of the bus?

I suspect, of course, it is a combination of both these things. One can be thin skinned yet politically atuned.

Prediction: More Israeli Soldiers Will Be Kidnapped & Killed

I was distressed by the long awaited exchange of two dead Israeli soldiers kidnapped and murdered by Hezbollah in exchange for four Hezbollah members as well as child killer Samir Kuntar, who murdered an Israeli family in 1979. If Israel used the death penalty against Kuntar this would not have come to pass.

This might very well be the low point of Israel's 60 years as a nation.

Indeed, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said after the release, "This is all proof that kidnapping Zionist soldiers is the best way to free prisoners since the occupation keeps arresting them."

So I will make a prediction that Hamas, Hezbollah and other entities will kidnap more Israeli soldiers and for that matter Israeli civilians. If they get what they want out of it then why stop doing it? And they won't stop doing it until someone stops them.

Israel needs Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel knows it. The next election cannot come soon enough.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The 2008 All Star Game: The Good, The Bad & The Uggla

My father and brother had the good fortune of being in New York to attend the All Star Game parade yesterday. The parade ran along Sixth Avenue from Bryant Park to the foot of Central Park. They were standing towards the end of the procession on Sixth and West 58th Street.

Alas I could not be there. My brother, who is not a baseball fan, said I should have been there in his place. Fortunately, Dad got the whole thing on videotape. He's going to edit it and send me a copy. He got the chance to interact with, amongst others, Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith, Ferguson Jenkins, Earl Weaver and Jim Palmer, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay and Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, whose star shone bright in the Home Run Derby on Monday night.

My brother noted while Alex Rodriguez was generally cheered, the women were muttering under their breath. Given his trangressions with Madonna I cannot say that I blame them.

He also noted that anyone associated with the Boston Red Sox was lustily booed. More on this later.

At least I saw the game on TV. And what a game. Another chapter in Yankee Stadium lore was written.

Great pitching dominated the first third of the game as the affair. It remained scoreless until the top of the 5th when Colorado Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday homered off Ervin Santana of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to give the NL a 1-0 lead. The NL made it 2-0 in the top of the 6th on a sacrifice fly by Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman.

The AL tied the game in the top of the 7th when Cincinnati Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez gave up a two run homerun by Boston Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew. Many Yankees fans could not bring themselves to cheer for a Red Sox player.

Especially Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Earlier in the week, Papelbon was alleged to have said that he should close the game rather than New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Of course, Papelbon said no such thing. But since when do the New York papers lets the fact get in the way of the truth? The New York Daily News referred to him as "Papelbum". During the parade, he and his pregnant wife received death threats.

Things did not calm down when Papelbon was brought out in the 8th inning. The Yankees fans chanted "Mariano" and "overrated". Wait until the Yankees come to town later this month. Papelbon ended up surrendering the go ahead run on a sacrifice fly by San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez scoring Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada. In fairness, the run was unearned as Tejada advanced to third after Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro threw the ball into center field as Tejada stole second base which allowed him to advance to third.

Fortunately, Papelbon got let off the hook in the bottom of the 8th as Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays delivered a pinch hit double off New York Mets lefty Billy Wanger to tie the game at 3-3.

As for Mariano Rivera, Red Sox manager Terry Francona brought him out the top of the 9th with one out. It wasn't a save situation but close to one. Rivera got St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick to strike out and Navarro threw out Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez trying to steal second. Meanwhile, Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster struck out the side in the bottom of the 9th to force extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, Rivera allowed back to back singles to Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin and to Tejada. But Rivera then induced Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla to hit into an inning ending double play. Rivera pitched brilliantly.

But poor Dan Uggla.

After hitting into the double play, Uggla committed back to back errors on ground balls by Michael Young of the Texas Rangers and Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox. But NL manager Clint Hurdle played it cool. He had Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook intentionally walk Detroit Tigers infielder Carlos Guillen to load the bases. In fairness to Uggla, he threw out Young at home plate on a ground ball by Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore. Cristian Guzman of the Washington Nationals who normally plays shortstop was installed at third base for the first time in his major league career. He played third like, well, an All-Star. Guzman was able to throw out Quentin at home on a sharp ground ball by Longoria. Minnesota Twins first baseman hit a rocket to Tejada to end the inning.

The AL nearly won the game in the bottom of the 11th on a double by Young. But Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Nate McClouth threw a bullet to home plate to nail the slow footed Navarro at the plate which was brilliantly blocked by Martin.

The NL had the bases loaded in the top of the 12th but Kansas City Royals stopper Joaquim Soria buckled Uggla's knees on a curveball. Francona then removed Soria in favor of Baltimore Orioles closer George Sherrill who struck out Gonzalez on three pitches.

In the bottom of the 12th, Guillen nearly ended the game but just missed hitting a homerun by a foot and had to settle for a double. The AL did not score.

In the bottom of the 13th, Uggla made his third error of the game on a sharply hit ball by Drew. The ball took a bad bounce and Uggla should not have been charged with an error. But when it rains it pours. However, Drew did not score.

In the top of the 14th, McClouth just missed hitting one out but Drew caught the ball on the warning track.

It finally ended in the bottom of the 15th. Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge didn't have his stuff. He gave up a single to Morneau. Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers hit the ball hard but Ludwick made a spetacular catch in left. But then Navarro singled to put runners at first and third. Lidge then walked Drew to load the bases. It was left to Michael Young who had been the hero with a two run triple at the 2006 All Star Game in Pittsburgh. This time Young hit a fly ball to right field. Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Corey Hart (who was not wearing his sunglasses at night) fired the ball to Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann but Morneau just beat the throw and the AL won the 79th All Star Game 4-3 in 15 innings.

The game took 4 hours and 50 minutes - the longest in All Star Game history. It wouldn't be Yankee Stadium without a marathon baseball game. This was the second 15 inning game in All Star Game history. The 1967 All Star Game in Anaheim took 15 innings and was won by the NL 2-1 at a time when the NL dominated the All Star Game. Despite their best efforts, the NL hasn't won the All Star Game since 1996 when they beat the AL 6-0 at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

J.D. Drew was awarded the All Star Game MVP just to rub in the noses of the Yankees fans. Drew went 2 for 4 with a homerun, 2 RBI plus a walk and a stolen base.

Dan Uggla, on the other hand, went 0 for 4. He struck out thrice, hit into a double play and committed three errors. It doesn't get much worse than that.

Well, maybe Uggla can make up for it next year. The 2009 All Star Game will be held in St. Louis at the new Busch Stadium.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Defense of The New Yorker Magazine

Let me begin by saying that I cannot believe I am defending The New Yorker. But I must.

As you probably know by now the latest cover of The New Yorker has Barack Obama dressed up like a Muslim terrorist and Michelle Obama dressed up like a gun toting radical while standing in the Oval Office with a picture of Osama bin Laden on the wall. (,0,4906395.story) The Obama campaign has denounced the cartoon as has the McCain camp (which politically speaking was pretty much obliged to follow suit).

But does anyone seriously believe The New Yorker actually thinks the Obamas are terrorists? I see nothing defamatory here. As a subscriber to The New Yorker, I can attest no magazine has been more critical of the Bush Administration and conservatism in general. If any magazine editorial board wants Obama to win this is surely it.

In a world where cartoonists can be subject to harrassment, intimidation, imprisonment and assassination plots for offending the Prophet Muhammad the last thing America needs to do go down a road where one cannot lampoon our elected officials.

Besides if Obama is elected this November he better to get used to it. Frankly, there are going to be far more unflattering depictions of him.

Dennis Miller is right. Conservatives don't object to the color of his skin. They object to its thinness.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays Lose Seven in a Row

Some of you will have seen my Tampa Bay Rays article should note the article was written last Wednesday. The Rays have now lost 7 games in a row going into the All-Star break falling behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East. Still, no one expected the Rays to have a 55-39 record and leading the AL Wild Card race three months ago and be half a game behind the defending World Series champions. Yet the Rays are at a disadvantage playing 60% of their games on the road for the remainder of the season.

You might be wondering: Does Aaron think his article is jinxing the Rays? Answer: Yes I do. You might also wonder: Is this rational thinking? Answer: No I don't.

Bobby Murcer, 1946-2008. R.I.P.

On Saturday, former New York Yankees outfielder turned broadcaster Bobby Murcer died at the age of 62 due to complications arising from brain cancer. Murcer had been diagnosed with the disease during Christmas of 2006.

Murcer played with the Yankees briefly in 1965 and 1966 but did not play his first full season until 1969 when he had the unenviable task of replacing Mickey Mantle in center field. Like Mantle, Murcer was a native of Oklahoma and it was nearly impossible to escape Mantle's shadow although he did put up decent numbers and played in five All-Star games. He played with the Yankees through 1974 when he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Bobby Bonds. After playing for the Giants in 1975 and 1976, Murcer was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for NL batting champion Bill Madlock. In the middle of the 1979 season, Murcer returned to the Yankees in a trade for a minor leaguer and that is where he remained until his retirement in during the 1983 season.

Perhaps Murcer is best remembered for a game he played shortly after returning to the Yankees in 1979. Yankees fans do not remember 1979 with fondness as on August 2nd of that year their catcher Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash in practicing take offs and landings. Murcer delivered the eulogy at Munson's funeral. On August 6th, in a nationally televised game against the Baltimore Orioles, Murcer single handedly led the Yankees from a 4-0 deficit by hitting a three run homerun in the 7th and a two run single in the 9th to give the Yankees a 5-4 victory. Yankees manager Billy Martin had wanted to sit Murcer out but he insisted on playing in honor of Munson. After the game, Murcer give the bat to Munson's widow, Diane.

For most of the past two decades, Murcer has served as Yankees TV broadcaster. He leaves behind his wife Kay to whom he was married for 42 years and two children.

Tony Snow, 1955-2008. R.I.P.

Rachel has written eloquently about Tony Snow's legacy. While I never had the good fortune of meeting him I do think I should add one thing here. Rachel is quite right about his contributions to conservatism as a Presidential speechwriter, press secretary, journalist and Christian. It is also worth noting that Tony Snow did all these things with a smile. Perhaps no other conservative outside of Ronald Reagan had such a sunny disposition. It is very easy to become morose about a world that falls short of our expectations and ideals. Snow never got jaded. Even as the end was staring right at him. The best way to remember Tony Snow is not to think about how we can fill his shoes but rather how we can better fill our own.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Priests for Life releases new abortion videos

Pro-abortion politicians didn't want you to see our first video.
And they sure don't want you to see
these new ones either!

Select Here to see them now!

Recently Priests for Life produced a short video which explained the "Dismemberment" abortion procedure. Response to it was so overwhelming that we have produced two new ones. And just like the original, pro-abortion politicians are hoping you won't watch either one.

In truth, they fear these videos more than anything because each video shows the inhumane cruelty and barbarity of two common abortion procedures: (1) The prostaglandin abortion; and (2) The dilation and extraction abortion. Some versions of the second are known as "partial birth abortion" and it will literally make your blood boil … especially when you hear abortionists applauding after a machine sucks the brain from a defenseless, partially delivered child in the womb. Like the original in this series, these videos put the spotlight of the abortion "debate" right where it needs to be ... on what abortion does to the child in the womb! After all, if we're going to debate abortion in this country, let's make sure everyone knows exactly what we're talking about.

Sadly, the word abortion has lost its meaning. That's why politicians can get away with making themselves sound appealing to voters when they say they support the legality of abortion ... or of a woman's so-called "right to choose". But when people come to see and know what actually happens during an abortion, then a woman's "right to choose" is seen in a totally different light.

That said, if you are serious about wanting to end abortion, Select Here to watch the two short videos that will send shock waves through the abortion industry. And while there, you can learn more about this election year project and what you can do to make it an effective weapon in our fight to end abortion!

Make no mistake: These Priests for Life videos have the power to end abortion!

As I noted above, the response to our first video has far exceeded my expectations. Pro-life advocates have been re-energized. Fence-sitters have been awakened to the true horror of abortion and turned into activists. Even abortion advocates have been converted.

If you have trouble with the link above, and would like to go directly to the Youtube page which features the "dilation and extraction" video, Select Here. Thank you for watching … and even more, thank you for getting involved in our fight to end abortion. God bless.

Fr. Frank Pavone
Priests for Life/Gospel of Life Ministries

Obama's change

Liberal AZ Republic columnist acknowledges Sheriff Joe Arpaio & Andy Thomas as leading the nation in combating illegal immigration

Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini begrudgingly acknowledged in a column yesterday that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas have made impressive strides combating illegal immigration from a local level, making Arizona a leader across the country in this area. Montini discussed how local police chiefs in Phoenix and Mesa recently revised their sanctuary city policies in reaction to Arpaio's and Thomas's efforts. Montini speculates that Mesa would have never changed its policy if Arpaio hadn't gone in there with his "crime suppression sweeps" arresting illegal immigrants.
Like it or not. Admit it or not. Believe it or not. Thomas and Arpaio have changed our Valley, our state, maybe even our country...We can question their politics and their tactics. But we can't question their results.
Before Thomas and Arpaio, illegal immigration was treated by law enforcement with the same lack of interest as arcane laws about cohabitation. Then Thomas ran for county attorney on the seemingly bizarre slogan of "Stop illegal immigration." Immigration was thought to be a federal problem that county prosecutors didn't have anything to do with. He changed that.
Thomas was also ridiculed when he ran for office on this platform since Maricopa County does not border Mexico; it's a couple hundred miles away from the border. Thomas proved that illegal immigration affects the entire state, not just the border.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

You Say Potato, A British Tax Court Says Potato

Last Friday, a British tax court has ruled that Proctor & Gamble which manufactures and distributes Pringles will not have to pay a 17.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) because its potato crisps (as they are called in England) are well not really potato crisps. The court ruled on P&G's favor on the basis that the content of potato in a Pringles is less than 50%, its unusual shape and that they come in a tube.

So just to clarify. In England, french fries are chips and chips are crisps.

And yes, there are ketchup flavored potato crisps in England as well. So Britain hasn't totally gone to hell.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Obama To Accept Nomination at Mile High Stadium; Should McCain Accept at Metrodome?

Earlier this afternoon I read where Barack Obama will formally accept the Democratic Party nomination in Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos of the NFL. The nomination speech will be open to the public.

This is quite, quite clever. Mile High Stadium holds about 75,000 to 80,000 people. If he can draw that many people to hear him speak as summer vacation winds down it will be a coup. It will be like an old outdoor barnstorming political rally out of the 1930s. A hot summer night with only the comforts of Obama's words and some lemonade.

So should John McCain make a similar move and accept the GOP nomination at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis? The Metrodome, which is the home of the Twins in MLB and the Vikings in the NFL, doesn't have the seating capacity of Mile High but it gets very, very noisy in there with a full crowd. It would also be a good place to say that Humphrey, unlike Obama, represented mainstream America.

There are pros and cons.

If Obama makes the speech and sells out the place while McCain just sticks to the conventional route and says or does nothing memorable then Obama looks all the more like a 30th Century Man.

If Obama makes the speech and sells out the place while no one shows up for McCain in the Metrodome then Obama still looks like a 30th Century Man.

But if Obama makes the speech and he doesn't fill the house then no harm to McCain. Obama will probably make a great speech but the focus will be on why he couldn't fill the house.

Maybe what McCain does at some point during the Convention is to do what he does so well - The Town Hall Meeting and broadcast it to a nationwide audience. If Obama will show off his strengths at the Democratic Convention why can't McCain do the same but on his own terms?
After all, if he chooses to do something different it can just because Obama did it otherwise it will be measured against him. It's one thing for the entire nation to watch 75,000 people watch Obama speak. It's another for the entire nation to watch McCain answer questions from everyday people. That would set McCain apart from Obama.

Brewers Acquire C.C. Sabathia From the Tribe

The Cleveland Indians have traded pitcher C.C. Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers for three minor league prospects and a player to be named later. Sabathia, who turns 28 later this month, won the 2007 AL Cy Young Award with the Tribe. He was the anchor of a team that was within one game of reaching the World Series until the Boston Red Sox came roaring back. The Indians have struggled in 2008 and Sabathia himself has been inconsistent with a 6-8 won loss record. Sabathia becomes a free agent at the end of the season and he would have probably not re-signed with them for 2009 and beyond.

Enter the Brewers. They have not been in the postseason since 1982 when they were still an American League team. Currently, the Brewers are three and a half games behind the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Division, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Brewers are thin in starting pitching and thick with prospects.

I think the Indians get the better of this deal. They get a power hitting prospect in Matt La Porta, the Brewers top draft pick in 2007, who is tearing up Double A with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs. Don't be surprised if he is called up the majors before season's end. The Tribe also gets a Triple A left handed pitcher in Zach Jackson and a Single A right hander in Rob Bryson. Granted the Indians will receive the benefits of the deal in 2009 and 2010 but Sabathia will be long gone from Milwaukee by then. Sure, the Brewers get draft picks as compensation should Sabathia sign elsewhere next year. Although Sabathia is a very good pitcher, like Johan Santana, he is not a big money pitcher and doesn't deliver in the clutch. I don't think getting Sabathia will enable the Brew Crew to compete with the Cubs and Cardinals. So long as Milwaukee doesn't reach the postseason in 2008 and they don't re-sign him, the Indians will have gotten a steal of home.

Obama's Flip to Flop on Iraq

Barack Obama has opened the door to flip flopping on his position in Iraq when he told Democratic supporters in North Dakota late last week, "I'm sure I'll have more info and continue to refine my policy." Obama is planning to visit Iraq and meet with the top generals later this summer.

It would have been nice had he been better informed from the outset. However, this is politically clever. If Obama modifies his position in a manner sufficient that a critical mass of the electorate is under the impression that he is strong on national security or at the very least willing to listen to what the military has to say then he has effectively neutralized McCain's strength. In that case, the election becomes a referendum on the economy and Obama has a decided advantage. Of course, McCain does have time on his side. But then again if the election is about the economy he might have to pick Romney as his running mate. Talk about a poison pill.

Nadal Triumphs Over Federer at Wimbledon

During the cab ride back home shortly after arriving in Boston yesterday afternoon, NPR announced that Rafael Nadal had just defeated Roger Federer to win the Wimbledon Men's Final. They went to live feed from the BBC where both Nadal and Federer were interviewed on center court. For a such a fierce rivalry, Nadal and Federer showed nothing but the utmost class and sportsmanship, especially Federer who was gracious in defeat.

It was the longest Wimbledon Final ever lasting 4 hours and 48 minutes (excluding two rain delays). Nadal won in five sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7. The Final ended past 9 p.m. in near darkness. If Federer had won it would have been his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title which would have surpassed Bjorn Borg's achievement of winning five consecutive Wimbledon's from 1976-1980. Borg was present at the Final. Federer is considered the Tiger Woods of tennis and indeed Federer and Woods are friendly with each other and have done commercials together. Federer's arch nemesis has been Nadal who has owned Federer in the French Open, which he was won four the past four years. However, Nadal has consistently come up short at Wimbledon including last year. But when a tennis guru like Bud Collins calls the Nadal-Federer match better than Borg-McEnroe in 1980 then you really have something special. It is worth noting that Nadal is the first player since Borg to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. Borg pulled off that feat in that magical year of 1980. I think the only man who had a better year than Borg in 1980 was Ronald Reagan. Hopefully, neither Federer nor Nadal will prematurely retire as Borg did in 1981 and thus deprive us of a rivalry that might be as good as the Red Sox-Yankees.

Political Junkies Can Get Their Fix at the Museum of the City of New York

I was in New York over the Fourth of July weekend. On Saturday, my friend and I walked up Fifth Avenue along the Museum Mile to attend a most fascinating exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York off 103rd Street.

The exhibit, Campaign for President: New York & The American Election runs, naturally, until Election Day on November 4th. It consists of memorabilia from Presidential election campaign since 1789. To be sure there is a natural emphasis on New York politicians but that encompassed a lot of people such as Alexander Hamilton, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Tom Dewey, George Clinton (not to be confused with the Funkadelic one).

There are buttons, posters, leaflets, a Richard Nixon paper dress and even folk songs for Goldwater. Yes, the '60s were a funny time. The 1860's not so much.

But if that doesn't satiate you on the other side of the museum is an exhibit Catholics in New York, 1808-1946. This runs until December 31st.

For more information you can visit the Museum of the City of New York's website at

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Senator Jesse Helms, 1921-2008. R.I.P.

I was walking in Times Square yesterday when I learned that Senator Jesse Helms had died at the age of 86.   He might very well have been the one conservative who riled liberals more than anyone including Reagan, Bush 43 and Gingrich.

I must admit there were many times I found myself at odds with Senator Helms and occasionally agreed with his critics.   But believe it or not he did have an open mind.   When he first came to the Senate, he was not sympathetic to Israel.  But his time with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he came to realize its struggles and strategic value to the United States.

Although Helms was known for his opposition to AIDs funding he did soften his views somewhat due to his relationship with U2 lead singer Bono and Helms became an outspoken advocate for AIDs funding in Africa where it is most acutely needed.  

He might have had a crusty exterior but he did have a heart.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Latest tricks on the border (humor)

Hysterically funny: "Entirely False Rumors" Spread About Obama in "Small-Town America"

An utterly classic sentence in the New York Times:

Brian Knowlton in the Times' international edition: "An article in The Washington Post on Monday summed up the entirely false rumors being widely circulated in small-town America this way: that 'Barack Obama, born in Africa, is a possibly gay Muslim racist who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.'"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Colombian Military Rescues Betancourt & Three U.S. Hostages

Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia's Minister of Defense, has announced that the Colombian military has rescued 15 hostages from the clutches of the terrorist group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, better known as FARC. Amongst those rescued were former Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and American hostages employed by Northrop Grumman (Keith Stansell, Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves). Betancourt had been held by FARC since 2002 and the Americans were kidnapped the following year.

Of course, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez had "tried" to win Betancourt's release (at the urging of French President Nicolas Sarkozy due to Betancourt's French lineage) but Colombian President Uribe clipped Chavez's wings when he spoke to a Colombian general behind Uribe's back. I wrote about this saga last November (

How did the Colombian military do it? By infiltrating FARC, not negotiating with it or sending in anyone else to negotiate with it. Apparently the agents who infiltrated FARC convinced them to hold the hostages in a central location which gave them a window to do undertake the rescue.

This is very, very good news. In a mad, mad world this shines so very brightly. It might go down as most daring military rescue since Israel's raid on Entebbe in 1976.

All Americans and freedom loving people should be grateful for the bravery of the Colombian military. Colombia is without any doubt our greatest ally in Latin America. Today, it maybe our greatest ally in the whole world.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's Canada Day!!!

It's July 1st. That means one thing to me.

Canada Day

Well, Canada Day (or Dominion Day as it was once known) isn't all that much different from the Fourth of July. Families get together, friends get together. Throw in a little alcohol. Maybe some barbecue. Of course, there are fireworks.

Although in 1996, I attended Canada Day celebrations in Toronto and there were no fireworks due to budget cuts. How do you have a Canada Day without fireworks? It's just not natural. I mean even Thunder Bay has fireworks. Very tiny fireworks. But fireworks nonetheless.

I used to live in Ottawa and so on several occasions during the 1990s I would be amongst the one hundred thousand or so people who would gather on the grass on Parliament Hill. Sometimes alone. Sometimes with others.

Anyway, that's long ago. I live in America now and I will be spending this Fourth of July weekend in New York City. I have been to NYC many times but never for the Fourth. This should be very good.