Friday, January 30, 2009
In an interview with The Times, the former British Prime Minister and current envoy of the Middle East on behalf of the so-called Quartet, said, "I do think it is important that we find a way of bringing Hamas into this process, but it can only be done if Hamas are prepared to do it on the right terms." (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article5621184.ece)
Of course, Blair goes on to say that Hamas must renounce violence and recognize Israel. Well, that's about as likely to happen as me going out with Britney Spears. So why is Blair even bringing up the idea at all? Surely, he's read the part in the Hamas Charter where it says, "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
Yet Blair believes Hamas was firing rockets into Israel because it was excluded from the peace process. If he honestly believes that then he is far more daft than I had ever imagined. Yet when you have the likes of Blair, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter calling for Hamas to be included they are given legitimacy and stature. A legitimacy and stature achieved through violent acts of terrorism. As long as the international community rewards Hamas bad behavior it will continue to seek Israel's destruction and replace it with an Islamic state. Just what the world needs. Another Islamic state.
It took six ballots but Steele beat South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson by a vote of 91-77.
Steele is best known for having served as Lieutenant-Governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007. And yes, Steele is the first African-American to Chair the Republican National Committee.
Had Steele not been elected one can only imagine how the MSM would have reacted. Especially in light of Dawson's recent disclosure that he belonged to a whites only country club.
Of course, now that Steele is the Chairman of RNC I wonder how long it will take for MSM to refer to Steele as an "Uncle Tom" or an "Oreo" or deride from being "inauthentically black."
But such derision might not be such a bad thing because if the MSM does so it means they see Steele as someone who threatens the liberal hegemony a la Sarah Palin. In that case the issue isn't color of Steele's skin but rather its thickness.
With that Mr. Steele I wish you good luck because at least until the Republican Primaries you are the face of the Republican Party.
Whatever the case Erdogan returned home to a hero's welcome. By picking a fight with Israel Erdogan has at least for the moment drawn attention away from his efforts to Islamize Turkey. I have no doubts that many Turks value secularism but I also have no doubt that just as many Turks hate Jews and the State of Israel believing relations with the Jewish state to be unIslamic.
With friends like this who needs enemies?
Or should I say former Governor. Pat Quinn is now the Governor of Illinois.
So what happens if Patrick Fitzgerald ends up not indicting Blagojevich after all?
Although I'm sure he will be charged with something. If he is the $64.37 question is will he try to take Obama down with him? Maybe. But given that Blago's approval rate is lower than Bush I don't think it would have much affect on Obama even if he doesn't wear a suit of teflon.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Erdogan blasted Peres over Israel's three week defensive operation into Gaza calling it "an open air prison." "You kill people," Erdogan shouted at Peres. But the normally soft spoken Peres wasn't having any nonsense. "Why did they fire rockets? Whey did they fight us, what they want?," asked Peres, "There was never a day of starvation in Gaza."
Erdogan walked out when he refused to comply with the instructions of Washington Post columnist David Ignatius (who was serving as moderator) vowing never to return to Davos. Somehow I think the air in Davos will be a little more breathable without Erdogan.
This isn't the first time Erdogan has made waves while involved in a panel discussion with a former Israeli Prime Minister. During a panel discussion in Chicago in August 2007 with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Erdogan said:
First of all, the 'moderate Islam' concept is wrong. The word 'Islam' is a simple word - it is only Islam. If you say 'moderate Islam' then an alternative is created, and that is 'immoderate Islam.' I cannot accept such a concept as a Muslim. (http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2007/09/turk-pm-erdogan.html)
At this same forum Erdogan went to reject any notion of "Islamic terrorism."
What is so bothersome here is that Turkey has been the one Muslim country Israel could count on for support. Israel and Turkey have even done joint military exercises together. Of course, for eight decades Turkey has put secularism before Islam. But it appears the days of Ataturk are coming to an end. Erdogan has taken Turkey into an Islamist direction with the introduction of the head scarf and hijab as well as improved relations with Iran and Syria although it is worth noting that Turkey has played an ongoing role in mediating informal talks between Israel and Syria. I think it's safe to say that Turkey is no longer an honest broker. I just hope it doesn't take an incident at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara for the American political establishment to arrive that conclusion. But I suspect it might.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
U.S. Presidents traditionally make their first foreign trip to Canada although President Bush broke with the tradition by visiting Mexico.
The details of Obama's trip are not known. He will likely visit Ottawa although the House of Commons will not be sitting that week.
What I can tell you is that Canadians are, with apologies to Bernie Goldberg, having as much of a slobbering affair with him as the rest of the world. Although Canadians did elect a Conservative government last fall it is a left of center country. Obama will draw huge crowds wherever he goes in Canada and he won't be greeted by protesters as President Bush was when he visited shortly after his re-election in 2004 and again in August 2007. What can I tell you. Life's not fair.
If I had to guess Obama will make a stop in Halifax. I say this because Halifax has the oldest black community in Canada. I would also expect him to make stops in Canada's three largest cities - Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. I'm sure he'll also make a stop in one of the Prairie provinces and perhaps one or two smaller communities.
Obama is expected to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and will likely meet with opposition leaders. No doubt NDP leader Jack Layton is keen to have face time with his socialist compadre. Gilles Ducceppe might want to separate from Canada but no doubt he will try to be inseparable from Obama. I'm certain Obama and Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff will have plenty to talk about as they have a mutual friend in Samantha Power. Most recently she was part of Obama's transition team at the State Department (despite having called Hillary Clinton a monster.) Previously, she was a colleague of Ignatieff when he was Director of the Carr Center on Human Rights Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Instead, Ignatieff has opted to put the Conservatives "on probation" as he put it. He introduced a motion that would require the Tories to give Parliament a status report on the implementation of the budget in March, June and December. This is a prudent political move on Ignatieff's part. It keeps the Tories on their toes as well as bides time for Ignatieff. The Tories have to wonder if it is a question of when and not if Ignatieff will bring down the government. At the same time, Ignatieff doesn't want to take over when everything is in absolute collapse because then it would become his mess.
Ignatieff's strategy hinges on support from his party. If there is an undercurrent of discontent amongst Liberal members that he is unnecessarily prolonging the Tory government then he could face trouble down the road. If that were to come about look at the doorstep of former leader Stephane Dion and leadership rivals like Bob Rae, Dominic LeBlanc and Gerard Kennedy. Ignatieff will no doubt turn on the heat on the Tories at the Liberal Party Convention this May in Vancouver (assuming he hasn't already pulled the trigger.) However, Liberals might not like being kept high and dry should Ignatieff opt to prop up the Tories the following month. So while Ignatieff puts the Tories on probation he could be on probation from fellow Liberals.
Of course, the NDP and Bloc Quebecois are livid with Ignatieff especially the NDP who had visions of being cabinet ministers and having bigger offices. NDP Jack Layton, who would have been part of the governing coalition, stopped short of declaring it dead while Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Ducceppe, who would not have been part of the governing coalition but would have voted with it, has declared the coalition dead. As Ignatieff put it, "A coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition." So right now it's not necessary for Ignatieff to lead a coalition although it could become necessary. Politics Canadian style. I do miss home sometimes.
El-Baradei, who is currently attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, claimed the BBC had violated "the rules of basic human decency" by not airing the appeal. Of course, one could also argue that Hamas violated the rules of basic human decency by using their civilians as human shields. But what can one expect of an apologist of the Iranian regime? What exactly the BBC has to do with nuclear proliferation is also unclear but no matter. I'm sure BBC viewers and listeners will manage without hearing the equivocations of El-Baradei whose term is set to expire in November.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The budget dramatically increases spending on employment insurance, infrastructure projects and incentives for homeowners. It also introduces tax cuts. Consequently, Canada will be headed for a deficit for the first time in over a decade. The deficit for 2009-10 is projected to be $33.7 billion. Flaherty projects the Canadian government will be running deficits until 2014. I suspect the only thing conservative about this budget is how long the deficits will last as Flaherty has not ruled out further spending initiatives. This might be the worst decision Flaherty could make but it this decision is probably better than all the other options that were before him.
Both the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois have come out against the budget without even seeing it.
The Liberals under Michael Ignatieff, however, are hedging their bets. Ignatieff will state his position on the budget during a press conference scheduled for tomorrow.
Here's my prediction. I think Ignatieff is going to support the Tory budget. Yes, Ignatieff could bring the Conservative government down and possibly become Prime Minister. But the Governor General could opt to call for elections and who knows how they will turn out. They could bring about yet another minority government.
But assuming Governor General Jean asked Ignatieff to form a government why form a government now? After all, Ignatieff would then instantly inherit all the problems on the shoulders of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Moreover, Ignatieff would be severely constrained by the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.
I think Ignatieff is going to bide his time. This isn't to say that he won't pull the trigger at a later date. But I think Ignatieff would rather go into an election where Canadians are so fed up with the Tories that they will elect a Liberal majority government than be in a situation where he heads up a minority government in which he would not only inherit economic headaches but would be at odds with his partners on key matters such as Canada's continued presence in Afghanistan. The War in Afghanistan could be further complicated should the Obama Administration pressure Canada to remain in Kandahar beyond July 2011. Would Ignatieff alienate Obama to appease the NDP and the Bloc? If he wants to stay in power then yes.
Make no mistake. Michael Ignatieff wants to be Canada's next Prime Minister. I think he will wait to do under more optimal conditions. Of course, the risk is that those optimal conditions might never arrive. If Ignatieff waits and if things do get worse under Harper and the Tories it could be argued that Ignatieff exacberated the situation by letting them remain in office.
As usual there are no easy answers.
I have not read any of Updike's novels so I could not do him justice in the way someone like Martin Amis could. However, I have read enough Updike to know we shall probably not see his like again.
Specifically, I am referring to an essay Updike wrote for The New Yorker back in October 1960. Updike was at Fenway Park to bear witness to Ted Williams' last major league game in which he hit a homerun in his final at bat. Simply titled 'Hub fans bid Kid Adieu', Updike described Williams' long career in Homerian terms. Updike's article was reprinted in The Boston Globe after Williams died in 2002. (http://www.boston.com/sports/redsox/williams/july_7/updike_essay.shtml)
The Williams essay would certainly give readers unfamiliar with Updike a cup of coffee into his writing. For instance in describing Williams' early career, Updike writes:
Greatness necessarily attracts debunkers, but in Williams' case the hostility has been systematic and unappeasable. His basic offense against the fans has been to wish they weren't there. Seeking a perfectionist's vacuum, he has quixotically desired to sever the game from the ground of paid spectatorship and publicity that supports it. Hence his refusal to tip his cap to the crowd to turn the other cheek to newsmen. It has been a costly theory - it has probably cost him, among other evidences of good will, two Most Valuable Player awards, which are voted by reporters - but he has held to it. While his critics, oral and literary, remained beyond the reach of his discipline, the opposing pitchers were accessible, and he spanked them to the tune of .406 in 1941. He slumped to .356 in 1942 and went off to war.
Ladies and gentlemen, you cannot find writing of this calibre in Sports Illustrated or on ESPN.com. Nor for that matter The New Yorker.
The New York Times praised the Obama interview noting that he "struck a conciliatory tone toward the Islamic world." (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/world/middleeast/28arabiya.html)
Um, I seem to recall President Bush calling Islam "a religion of peace."
Does the New York Times consider that statement insufficiently conciliatory?
Monday, January 26, 2009
Britain's Disaster Emergency Committee periodically broadcasts appeals for those in need. Last year, for instance, it raised money for those affected by the cyclone in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma.) On this occasion it wanted to do a telethon for Gaza. While ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 agreed to carry the broadcast the BBC balked. Sky today indicated it would not broadcast the telethon either. The DEC consists of charitable organizations like the British Red Cross, Oxfam and Save The Children.
The BBC has refused to broadcast the telethon for two reasons a) that it would compromise its impartiality and b) there are no assurances the monies raised will get to those people who are in genuine need. Indeed, how do we know Hamas won't spend the money on crucifixes or other weapons it can store amongst civilian populations?
The BBC is predictably drawing a lot of heat from politicians, the media, Muslim organizations and left-wing actors. Let's hope they don't wobble under the pressure. The appeal is scheduled to air in Britain tomorrow evening.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Between 56% and 60% of Bolivians approved a new constitution which while giving indigenous peoples more rights also gives President Morales more powers such as dissolving the Bolivian Congress at his pleasure. He will also have an opportunity to run for re-election later this year which was something the Bolivian constitution had previously prohibited.
Morales came to office in late 2005 and has been joined to the hip with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. However, Morales' socialist policies have not appealed to the southern part of the country which produces much of Bolivia's natural resources. They have sought greater autonomy if not outright secession from Bolivia. They rejected the referendum in large numbers but lost the overall vote. There has been violence between the Morales government and the departments. If Morales is re-elected later this year (there is every reason to believe he will be) then I predict there will be more violence which could very possibly result in a civil war.
Morales and several other Latin American leftist leaders to have sought stronger relations with Iran and met with President Ahmadinejad. He has oft joked that Bolivia is part of the "axis of evil." What a hoot. Morales and Chavez also recently broke off diplomatic relations with Israel over the conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Morales is seeking a rapprochement with the U.S. because of Obama. I would not be surprised if Obama is agreeable. After all if Obama is willing to meet Ahmadinejad he would certainly be willing to meet with Morales not to mention Chavez.
In April 2008, Simon did a profile of Israeli fighter pilots. When he interviewed one of them, Simon said, "You don't look a like a killer." (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/24/60minutes/main4040294_page3.shtml) Would Simon have said that to a U.S. fighter pilot? Would he have said that to John McCain?
Tonight was far worse. In a story titled, "Is Peace Out of Reach?" Simon says that peace between Israelis and Palestinians was out of reach "even before Israel invaded Gaza." (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/23/60minutes/main4759723.shtml) Excuse me? Gee, I thought peace was a little out of reach when Hamas sent thousands of rockets into Israel from Gaza.
The premise of Simon's piece was that if only Jews dismantled settlements in the West Bank all would be well. The settlements are nothing but a red herring. Always have been and always will be. Palestinians and for that matter with the Muslim world don't object to Israeli settlements they object to Israel's very existence. They view Israel as one big settlement.
Simon briefly spoke with Tzipi Livni who if elected Prime Minister next month vows to evacuate all West Bank settlements. Let's say for argument's sake that Livni is elected and carries out that promise. Does anyone think the evacuation of all settlements in the West Bank will placate the Palestinians for a solitary second? The Palestinians will find something else to object. If withdrawing from Gaza and dismantling settlements there didn't stop violence against Israel what makes anyone think that full withdrawal from the West Bank and dismantling settlements there will be any different? Does anyone honestly believe the dismantlement of Jewish settlements will stop Palestinians from wanting to destroy Israel?
A very good movie. But only a movie.
My first memory of the interviews between Sir David Frost and Richard Nixon was watching an old re-run of Saturday Night Live hosted by Monty Python alumnus Eric Idle where Idle played Frost and Dan Aykroyd played Nixon. SNL lampooned the interview and gave me the impression that Frost was a shallow talking head and that the interviews were a general waste of everyone's time. The movie leaves one with the impression that Frost had slain Nixon albeit after a tough battle.
The best part of the film was the story construction. Part of the film was shot documentary style in which the characters were interviewed throughout for their reflections on the interviews. I was also intrigued by the process and the preparations that were required to make the interview possible. If the movie is accurate it took more than two and a half years to get the interview realized.
Frank Langella has been nominated for Best Actor for his performance of the 37th President. However, Langella didn't disappear into character for me. Not for one moment did I think this guy was Nixon. I was keenly aware that it was Frank Langella doing a pretty good Nixon impersonation although at times a buffoonish one. When Nixon spoke of intellectual pursuits many in the audience scoffed. I liked Anthony Hopkins interpretation in the Oliver Stone film Nixon. Hopkins' interpretation was far more subtle and he made Nixoninto a more three dimensional character. Interestingly, Hopkins also received a Best Actor nomination for his performance (though he lost out to Nicolas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas.) At one point in the film Oliver Platt (playing Bob Zelnick, now a professor at Boston University) did a Nixon impersonation. Platt could have just as plausibly played Nixon as Langella.
Frost/Nixon was adapted from the stage play. It is worth noting that Langella played Nixon both in London and on Broadway in New York. Curiously, the stage play is coming to Boston on Tuesday and will be running through Februarty 8th. Stacy Keach plays Nixon. My roomie and I are considering seeing it. It would be interesting to see how a stage play gets adapted into a movie and what gets left out. It would also be interesting to see how Keach's Nixon differs from Langella's interpretation.
Aside from Langella, Frost/Nixon has been nominated for four other Academy Awards including Best Picture. I cannot help but wonder if Academy members will vote for it as a parting shot at President Bush. Sure there are older Academy members who do not remember Nixon fondly but the younger members, especially those born after Watergate, might view this film as a surrogate for bashing Bush. Of course, one could plausibly argue that if the Academy wanted to do that they would have nominated Oliver Stone's W. There are also those who might vote for Milk to protest the passage of Proposition 8 in California last November.
At the end of the movie, it noted that Frost is still a television presenter. What it does not mention is that Frost has a show on the English language version of Al Jazeera.
Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X were notorious anti-Semites. Indeed, one of those bishops welcomed back was Richard Williamson. He has publicly stated no Jews were killed in gas chambers during the Second World War. Williamson has also referred to Jews as "enemies of Christ" and believes the Protocols of Elder Zion to be authentic. On top of that, Williamson believes the attacks of September 11, 2001 were staged by the U.S. government. Show me a Holocaust denier and I'll show you someone who denies 9/11.
What would possess the Pope to do such a thing? After all, there were those who accused him of being a Nazi sympathizer as he was part of the Hitler Youth as a teenager. Of course, all German boys fourteen and older were required to join. Why do something that would lead people to believe he was sympathetic to the Nazis all along?
I don't believe the Pope did this for the sake of the Society of St. Pius X. After all, they are small in number and wield little influence in the Church. I believe the Pope did this to placate Muslims.
Remember that the Pope raised the ire of Muslims on September 12, 2006 - the day after the 5th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. While lecturing in Germany, the Pope quoted Manuel II Paleologus, ruler of the Byzantine Empire from 1391 to 1425, who is to have said:
Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and then you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
The Muslim world reacted angrily and resulted in many violent demonstrations where the Pope was burned in effigy. This undoubtedly spooked the Pope who feared for his life. After all, there was an attempt on the life of his predecessor. Why should he be immune to an assassin's bullet?
In November 2006, the Pope travelled to Turkey to pray at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The choice of that mosque was no accident. Constantinople was the heart of the Byzantine empire and after the fall of that empire to the Ottomans in 1453 Constantinople became Istanbul.
In November 2008, while Americans were voting for Barack Obama, the Pope had received Muslim leaders in Rome in what was called the First Meeting of the Catholic-Muslim Forum. This group will convene every two years. The 2010 meeting will occur in a Muslim country.
I cannot help but think that it was somehow made clear to the Pope that he would have make further pennace to Islam. What better way to do so than to bring the ex-communicated bishops back into the fold? What would send a signal to Muslims that the Pope wants to make amends than by welcoming a bishop who not only believes Jews weren't gassed in the Holocaust but believes the attacks of September 11, 2001 were carried out by the U.S government? Many Muslims and their leaders do not believe the Holocaust happened nor do they believe Muslims carried out the September 11th attacks. Given the way the Pope angered Muslims wouldn't welcoming back a bishop into the fold who openly denies the Holocaust and September 11, 2001 get the Pope back in the good graces of Muslims and their leaders? I cannot think of any other reason that would compel the Pope to welcome back a Holocaust denier and a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Republicans will be happy to go along with that suggestion just as soon as Democrats vow to stop reading The New York Times, listening to NPR and watching MSNBC.
Of course if President Bush had ever said such a thing to Congressional Democrats the institutions I just mentioned would have a fit. Bush would be accused of partisanship. But Obama can talk disrespectfully about Republicans and conservatives with impunity.
It won't be the last time.
Friday, January 23, 2009
When I heard Gillibrand's name bandied about I remembered her as a Blue Dog Democrat. Most blue dogs come from the South. However, Gillibrand is from upstate New York which is far more conservative than the Upper West Side. Gillibrand is a strong Second Amendment supporter and takes a tough stance on illegal immigration. However, she is socially liberal on issues stem cells and gay marriage. She might be the only member of Congress who has a 100% rating from both the NRA and the ACLU. Gillibrand was first elected to Congress in 2006 and was re-elected last November. At 42, she will be the youngest member of the U.S. Senate.
Gillibrand will have to run in 2010 so for all intents and purposes her election campaign begins now. It will be interesting to see who the GOP runs against her. But if Gillibrand can get both NRA and ACLU types to vote for her then Republicans are in trouble.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Jeff Kent called it quits after 17 seasons in the majors. Kent played with the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I remember when Kent came up with the Blue Jays early in the 1992 season. At the time, Kelly Gruber was ensconced at third base so suddenly there was an unfamiliar face. I remember watching a Jays game in residence during my freshman year at Carleton University. When Kent came up to bat someone said, "Who's Jeff Kent?" Kent probably banged a double off the left field wall. People sat up and took notice.
Now it took awhile for Kent to reach his potential. He was traded later that season to the Mets for David Cone as the Blue Jays were on their way to their first of two World Series championships. Kent, meanwhile, was inconsistent during his five season stint with the Mets. His numbers were decent but he didn't live up to lofty expectations. Kent was traded to the Cleveland Indians in middle of the 1996 season for Carlos Baerga in a trade that didn't work for either team. Kent didn't set the world afire with the Tribe either.
Following the 1996 season, Kent was dealt to the San Francisco Giants along with Julian Tavarez and Jose Vizcaino for Matt Williams. It was not a popular trade in the Bay Area. Williams was a bonafide slugger and a Gold Glove third baseman whereas Kent was an inconsistent hitter and not a particularly great fielder. Sure enough Williams had a great season with the Indians in 1997 playing in the World Series. But Williams was dealt to Arizona the following season. Meanwhile, Kent turned the corner and would play in San Francisco for six seasons.
He drove in 100 or more runs every season in San Francisco. After alternating between second base and third base, Kent was kept at second base by manager Dusty Baker and his defense improved vastly. His best season came in 2000 when he won the National League MVP. He hit .334 with 33 homeruns and 125 RBI. Even Barry Bonds couldn't overshadow him that year. Kent was also an integral part of the 2002 Giants that won the National League championship although they fell short in the World Series against the Angels.
Kent had a complex relationship with Barry Bonds. They disliked each other personally and even came to blows in the dugout in the middle of the 2002 season. Yet when Bonds broke the single season homerun record in 2001 I remember Kent holding Bonds' son Nikolai in his arms as Bonds spoke to the crowd.
Kent left the Giants after the 2002 season to sign a two year contract with the Houston Astros. Kent and Bonds were like oil and water at this point and the Giants top priority at the time was to keep Bonds happy. Dusty Baker left the Giants to manage the Chicago Cubs. Without Baker to stand in between Kent and Bonds he saw the writing on the wall.
After two seasons with the Astros, Kent signed a three year deal with the Dodgers. When Kent drove in 100 plus runs for the eighth time in his career the Dodgers added a year to his contract. However, his productivity declined after 2005. In 2007, when the Dodgers imploded down the stretch, Kent took his younger teammates to task for a lack of hustle. This cost Dodgers manager Grady Little his job. Kent was hurt for much of 2008 although he was productive in limited action. However, Kent raised the ire of Dodgers fans when he said Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully talked too much. Scully had simply said that Kent's production had improved with the presence of Manny Ramirez in the lineup. Taking on Vin Scully is a big no-no. It's like arguing with the Pope. Perhaps the thrill was gone.
Kent finishes his career with a .290 average, 2,461 hits, 377 home runs and 1,518 RBI. Of Kent's homeruns, 355 of them came while playing second base which is the most in major league history. Next on the list is Ryne Sandberg who hit 277 as a second baseman and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Will Jeff Kent end up in Cooperstown? Yes but perhaps not on the first ballot. Although I don't think they'll put him through the ringer like Jim Rice. Kent is the best offensive second baseman in MLB history and was a dominant offensive force in the NL for nearly a decade. Although his defensive play improved over his career he never won a Gold Glove. His last three seasons in the majors were subpar and one could make the case he may have better off to retire earlier.
Of course, Kent wasn't always popular with the media and his teammates and that might impede him. It is also worth noting that in 2008 the Texas-born Kent came out in favor of California's Proposition 8 and donated $15,000 to the Yes forces. I don't know if the membership of the Baseball Writers Association of America are as liberal as the rest of the print media but if they are that too will cost him some votes.
Be that as it may, I consider Jeff Kent a bonafide Hall of Famer and an asset to the game of baseball. I regret that I never saw him play in person but I was able to follow his entire career on TV and immensely enjoyed his contributions as a player.
Not that Eastwood hasn't had share of Oscars for films like Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. I'm sure they'll give him a Lifetime Achievement Award next year to make up for this year's snub. But Gran Torino is to be Eastwood's last work as an actor. His performance is unforgettable and was worthy of recognition by the Motion Picture Academy. But recognition or not, Eastwood's performance as Walt Kowalski will be remembered long after the performances of Pitt, Sean Penn, Frank Langella and Richard Jenkins have been forgotten.
This does not surprise me. A couple of weeks back I wrote an article on IC titled, "They Don't Make Kennedys Like They Used To." An abridged version of this article was also published in the online edition of The American Spectator (http://spectator.org/archives/2009/01/08/they-dont-make-kennedys-like-t)
I note in the article that she isn't the first member of the Kennedy clan whose political career ended before it started. This was the case with Max Kennedy, one of RFK's sons. He tried to get a safe Democratic seat here in Boston after the death of Joe Moakley in 2001. Kennedy had an embarrassing public appearance where he stumbled all over his words. Days later it was revealed he was arrested with his cousin Michael Skakel while at Harvard. Skakel would later be convicted of the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley. This sealed his fate and withdrew his name just as Caroline has withdrawn hers.
In the article I conclude:
If there isn't another Senator Kennedy from New York, the "ums" and "uhs" will loom large. Perhaps Caroline, like Max, is better suited to some other vocation besides the rough-and-tumble world of electoral politics. If so, one can only conclude by her failure to realize this on her own that they don't make Kennedys like they used to.
Since Hillary Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State today, Governor Paterson is expected to name her successor on Saturday.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
This is seen as the first step in closing the detention facility.
My number one concern is where will these detainees end up.
Will they be sent back to the Middle East? Probably not because they would most certainly be tortured and we know how much Obama hates for anyone to be tortured.
Will they be sent to Europe? The Europeans never wanted Gitmo detainees and I doubt they would take them regardless of their admiration for Obama.
In other words, they'll be on U.S. soil in federal prisons such as Leavenworth. Which means they'll have access to lawyers and civilian courts. Which means national security will be compromised in open court. Which means these people could be let loose on our streets. If there's a major terrorist attack on our soil and one of these detainees who Obama saw fit to have released is involved then Obama will have hell to pay.
Of course, I hope such a thing never comes to pass. But it would come as no surprise to me if it did.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
According to the N'Sync alumnus, the election and inauguration of Barack Obama has made it cool to be an American again.
I didn't realize being an American was a fashion statement in the first place.
The election of Barack Obama might improve America's image in the world but that won't help Justin Timberlake's image one bit.
You see being Justin Timberlake is never cool.
It's good to know that in this era of change some things never will.
But the only reason I watched it was because Beyonce was singing, "At Last." Aside from being incredibly beautiful, Beyonce does Etta James justice. I'll listen to good music even if it means I have to watch the Obamas dance. After all, we'll be seeing President Obama doing a lot bobbing, weaving and two stepping around the issues over the next four years.
Senator Robert Byrd, the onetime Senate Majority Leader, also fell ill during the luncheon although did not need to be taken to a medical facility. The 91-year-old Senator has been using a wheelchair since he fell at his home in February 2008.
I'm not sure either man has much time left.
After seeing Rick Warren give the invocation, Aretha Franklin sing, John Paul Stevens swearing in Joe Biden and the quartet of Yo-Yo Ma, Yitzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill perform a piece arranged by John Williams it was the moment for which everyone highly anticipated.
Notice how Obama stumbled all over his oath. I'm sure John Roberts was smiling inside given that Obama had objected to his Supreme Court nomination. The Obama supporters here at work were saying, "Ahh, he's nervous." If it were Bush or Sarah Palin they would be saying, "What an idiot."
I chose to remain in respectful silence.
Well, show us what you can do. If you need help please ask. But be prepared for criticism and lots of it. Some of it will be justified. Other criticism won't be. That is unless the MSM is officially on holiday for the next four years.
I am still deeply skeptical. I have written a poem called "October 16, 2011". That will mark Obama's 1,000th day in office. The poem represents where I believe America will be at that moment. It will represent my next article and hope it gets posted today or tomorrow.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Speaking at a high school in Washington, D.C. today Obama said, "I am making a commitment to you as the next President, that we are going to make government work. But I can't do it myself. Michelle can't do it by herself. Govenment can only do so much. We're going to have to take responsibility - all of us. If we're waiting for someone to do something, it never gets done."
There is a kernel of truth in there. Even the superhuman Obama cannot be everywhere. Government cannot solve all problems. We have to make commitments and stick to them.
On the other hand, when Obama says that he cannot do it all by himself he says what every high school student council president says after being elected. They expect everyone else to take responsibility but their own personal responsibility is above their pay grade.
Those words could come back to haunt Obama if things fall short and he points fingers at Bush, Sarah Palin or other Republicans. Palin emphasized "personal responsibility" in her debate with Joe Biden. If Palin runs against him in 2012 she could remind him in their debate, "You called for an era of responsibility and yet you refuse to take responsibility for your policies. Everything that goes wrong is always someone else's fault and not yours. That's not taking responsibility, Mr. President."
That could be up there with Reagan telling Carter, "Well, there you go again."
That's why a pardon would have been a bad idea. The President of the United States, be it Bush, Obama or anyone, can pardon as they see fit. But just because a President can pardon doesn't a President should pardon. A pardon would have sent the message that it is acceptable for Border Patrol Agents and other law enforcement officials to abuse their authority and would encourage dereliction of duty. Ramos and Compean had to face consequences for their actions. However, their punishment did not fit the crime so a commutation was the most appropriate remedy in this situation.
Ramos and Compean will be released from prison on March 20th.
I cannot share in that sentiment. Not that Obama's election wasn't of historical significance. Being elected President of the United States is no small feat. For me though it's one thing to be elected it is quite another to actually accomplish something while in office. Martin Luther King, Jr. was never elected to any office but he accomplished more to change American life for the better than anyone last century including FDR and Reagan. He was to the 20th century was Lincoln was to the 19th. It remains to be seen what Obama will contribute to the early 21st century much less if he warrants any comparison to Lincoln or King.
Some might chastise me and say I don't want Obama to succeed. I do want Obama to succeed insofar as being able to carry out his duties protecting our populace from internal and external threats to our national security. That is the job of any President. I, however, do not want him to succeed in implementing certain policies especially those that undermine our ability to protect our populace from internal and external threats (i.e. handcuffing the CIA from carrying out interrogations or legitimizing tyrants who have been responsible for killing American soldiers.) I fear an Obama Presidency will bring such things to America and if that is his objective he must not succeed for the sake of the country.
Some see Barack Obama as the fullfilment of Martin Luther King, Jr's dream. The fullfilment of Dr. King's dream wasn't merely the achievement of power amongst people of all races but how we use that power once it has been realized. As of now, I remain unconvinced that President-elect Obama will use the power bestowed upon him with prudence and wisdom. But we shall see beginning tomorrow.
The Cardinals had 24-6 lead at the half but the Eagles scored 13 points in the 3rd quarter and took a 25-24 in the 4th quarter. But Kurt Warner had one more drive in him and the Cardinals took the lead and never looked back. Warner had four touchdown passes, three of them to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Warner is experience a renaissance. A decade ago he was the quarterback for the St. Louis Rams and guided the team to a Super Bowl title in 2000. Two years later, the Rams were in the Super Bowl but were upset by the New England Patriots. The Pats began a dynasty and Warner's career went on a rapid descent. He got hurt and ended up losing his job to Marc Bulger. Warner hooked on with the New York Giants. He started off well but ended up losing his job to Eli Manning. He's been with the Cardinals for the last four seasons and has battled for his job with veteran Josh McCown and Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart. But Warner has taken advantage of opportunities when presented to him. His strong Christian beliefs are a testament to his perseverance. If the Cardinals win the Super Bowl, Warner will be one of the biggest stories in sports in 2009. The Cardinals last won a title in 1947 when they won the NFL Championship when they were known as the Chicago Cardinals.
The Cardinals will have their hands full with the Pittsburgh Steelers who defeated the Baltimore Ravens 23-14 to win the AFC Championship. This is the second time in four years the Steelers have reached the Super Bowl. They won Super Bowl XL defeating the Seattle Seahawks. The game came to a hush late in the 4th quarter when Ravens running back Willis McGahee collided with Steelers safety Ryan Clark helmet to helmet. Both players went down but McGahee got the worst of the collision and was done on the ground for over ten minutes. Fortunately, he was conscious and was able to move his limbs but did complain of severe neck pains.
The Steelers will be favored to win but the Cardinals have defied oddsmakers with victories over the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and now the Eagles. I'm picking the Cardinals. Super Bowl XLIII takes places on February 1st.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Emily's List, the feminist organization whose sole purpose is to get pro-abortion women elected to Congress, hosted a segment of the inauguration today featuring speeches by its stars. The theme was praising women for being women. (the listener is thinking, and???)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi started it off with a ditzy speech. She congratulated Janet Napolitano for becoming "Secretary of State" (Napolitano has been nominated for Secretary of Homeland Security) and congratulated Ann Kirkpatrick for being reelected to Congress (Kirkpatrick was elected for the first time to Congress this fall).
The gist of Pelosi's speech was to celebrate the fact that women have overcome barriers to public office. It sounded silly considering the first woman was elected to Congress in *1916,* and 249 women have been elected to Congress. Women made advancements a long time ago yet feminists still have no theme but celebrating this. Contrast this with a Republican Women's meeting, which would never go on ad nauseum about how wonderful it is that women are in office. They're not living in the past and obsessed with their gender.
Janet Napolitano gave a dull speech congratulating herself for being the first female Attorney General in Arizona, and the first woman to head the National Governor's Association. So? Women have been gradually getting into public leadership since 1916. Napolitano didn't do anything special to get there, it was inevitable.
The leadership of Emily's List who spoke were typical white women. Feminist leadership is always composed of white women but they overlook that when they accuse Republicans of being the party of white men, which isn't accurate considering men and women are very closely divided between parties. They bragged about getting pro-abortion women elected. It is really disturbing that the #1 goal of that organization is electing pro-abortion women. Why is aborting babies their #1 goal in politics?
Listening to their underachieving biographies, it became apparent why feminists are so angry. Too many of them got where they're at based on some kind of affirmative action - the left promoted and paid for these women to rise in the ranks, solely on the basis of their being women. Contrast this with being a woman in the GOP - female Republican leaders aren't angry because they know they got where they are based on merit.
Former Governor of New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen spoke next. After she lost to Sunnunu in a race for U.S. Senate, she got a job teaching at Harvard. Can you imagine J.D. Hayworth being offered a job teaching at Harvard after losing his Congressional reelection bid? Of course not. Fortunately there are still some democratic processes out there, namely talk radio, where the average American has a say, so conservatives aren't shut out.
Shaheen came across as a man-hater. She said she got lost in the Senate building because it was designed by men. Blame men instead of her own cluelessness. She snidely said she makes her security detail carry her purse. If these kinds of remarks had been directed the other way, a leading male Senator were to say misogynist remarks about women, it would be a huge scandal. Instead, these comments won't even make the newspapers.
Sen. Kay Hagen, who beat Elizabeth Dole for U.S. Senate in North Carolina, continued the trend of complaining about men. Her beef was that the swimming pool in the Congressional gym was only set up for men, not women. If this is invidious discrimination, then why haven't her feminist friends (who have been in Congress since 1916) gotten it corrected over the years? Most likely, there haven't been any women yet expressing an interest in using it. This is the kind of discrimination feminists are spending our time and money complaining about? Embarrassing.
Hillary Clinton showed up late and lectured everyone in her monotone, schoolmarm voice. She looked like a man with her androgynous hairstyle, which was was amusing considering feminists make such an issue of and get so confused about whether they should look and dress like men, or whether they should emphasize their gender differences. Hillary blandly listed off the appalling ways women are treated around the world, but it was hard to believe she really cares that much considering she supports aborting 1.5 million babies in the U.S. each year, over half of which are female, many aborted solely because they are female ( the mother wanted a boy). One got the feeling from her cold delivery that the reason she is so concerned about the status of women overseas is because of an internal hostility towards men. Hillary got where she is today by riding her husband's charismatic coattails, and resents it, having to put up with all of his public cheating to get there. So she is going to make men pay.
If this is the best feminists have to offer, we can expect more and more men to defect to the GOP.
It's nice to know the MSM will be covering the Obamas with journalistic skepticism.
OK, let the Obamas have their moment in the sun. That's fine but there are some of us who have doubts. Unfortunately, where it concerns the MSM I think every day will be like the Inauguration.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Hamas has not agreed to the ceasefire and says it will only agree to it if the IDF pulls out from Gaza. Not that an Israeli withdrawal has ever prevented Hamas from launching rockets indiscriminately into Israel.
Over the past 22 days, the offensive resulted in the deaths of over 1,100 Palestinians, mostly Hamas terrorists. For having the temerity to defend itself, Israel finds itself accused of committing genocide and compared to Nazis. If anyone other the Israeli forces (and possibly American forces) had killed hundreds of Hamas terrorists no one would have uttered such words.
So why have a ceasefire now? Two words. Barack Obama. He will take office in less than 72 hours. Gaza was said to have been high on his list and will still be, ceasefire or no ceasefire. Bush has given Israel considerable latitude and it is not clear that Obama would be similarly forthcoming. Of course, Obama will not be Olmert's concern for very long. Israel will elect a new Prime Minister on February 10th. The Israeli offensive does atone somewhat for the debacle in Lebanon in 2006 and will probably benefit Tzipi Livni. But if Benjamin Netanyahu is elected things will really get interesting between Washington and Jerusalem.
I do think Obama will bring considerable pressure to bear on Israel even if it is not reflected in his public comments. Hamas might be weakened for now but the rocket attacks will resume and eventually escalate to a point where Israel must respond again. But Obama might veto Israel's right to defend itself and sacrifice it in the pursuit of restoring America's reputation in the world specifically in Europe and the Muslim world although it is increasingly difficult to tell the two apart.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Last weekend, Lennox spoke at a rally in London's Trafalgar Square. She held up a picture of injured Palestinian children and asked, "Is this a solution to a peaceful revolution? I don't think so. I don't think so." So the former Eurythmics lead singer thinks Hamas is leading a peaceful revolution? Well, at the conclusion of her remarks she accused Israel of committing "genocide." (http://youtube.com/watch?v=r28sHKE1Ws)
The day before the rally Lennox was interviewed on Sky News (which is the Fox News Channel's sister station in Great Britain) and she seemed clueless. Lennox acknowledged that Hamas had launched rockets into Israel and said there needed to be a ceasefire. The interviewer (whose name I did not catch) reminded Lennox that there had been a ceasefire and that Hamas had broken the ceasefire. She asked Lennox, who was once married to an Israeli, how one gets through a terrorist organization. Lennox then pleaded she wasn't a politician and didn't have a solution. (Well, that doesn't stop most politicians.) She could only say, "You have to try." (http://youtube.com/watch?v=Yyzbb0P0qfY)
Oh yes, Hamas is all about being reasonable. All that stuff about obliterating Israel is just a bargaining chip. Perhaps Lennox would care to consult the Hamas Charter which reads:
The so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement....There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.
Then again I'm sure this would be lost on Lennox. She would probably speak of Palestinian civilian deaths and chant, "Give peace a chance." In the real world, the sweet dreams of Hamas is to see Israel driven to the sea and replaced with an Islamic Palestinian state.
Annie Lennox is without any doubt a useful idiot.
In a speech he gave in the House of Commons, Kaufman said:
My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. Madam Deputy Speaker, my grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The present Israel government ruthlessly and cyncially exploit the continuing guilt amongst Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count. On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli Army Major Livovich was asked about the killing of, at that time, eight hundred Palestinians. The total is now a thousand. She replied instantly, "Five hundred of them were militants." That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw Ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.
So Gerald Kaufman would have us believe that Israeli soldiers are wantonly shooting Palestinian grandmothers in the head. Does he have evidence of such a incident? If he did he would have mentioned it. But why let the truth get in the way of inflammatory rhetoric? Kaufman, of course, does not mention the Hamas rocket attacks. Oh, he does acknowledge they are a "deeply nasty organization" but evidently not Nazis. He states Hamas was democratically elected and the "only game in town." So in the eyes of Kaufman the Hamas government that just legalized crucifixion is legitimate but Israel's democratically elected government is illegitimate. Israel must put up with being attacked be it by rocket attacks and suicide bombers. They have a right to defend themselves so long as they don't do so. If Israel has the temerity to defend itself they are compared to the Third Reich.
Is Kaufman comparing Hamas to the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto? I don't recall Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto putting women and children in harms way. I don't recall Jews vowing to kill all Germans nor do I recall Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto vowing to wipe Germany off the face of the earth.
Kaufman is calling for an arms embargo against Israel. Yet in London it is Palestinians who are attacking synagogues, vandalizing Jewish cemeteries and shouting anti-Semitic statements in Jewish neighorhoods. Kaufman is too busy condemning Israel to bother with anti-Semitism in his own backyard.
Gerald Kaufman is the very definition of a useful idiot.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I've often spoken to you about good and evil, and this has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense - and to advance the cause of peace.
It is that sort of moral clarity that drew me to conservatism and, in particular, George W. Bush.
Of course, it can argued that Bush didn't govern conservatively on many matters up and to including the War on Terror.
The fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals, between Left and Right is the attitude toward America. Modern liberalism, with some honorable exceptions, tend to look at the United States as being in the wrong. It is not inclined to give America the benefit of the doubt. Their support for this country is a mile wide but an inch deep and they resent its success. Modern conservatism, with some dishonorable exceptions, tend to look at the United States as being in the right and that we have a responsibility to exercise that right. While not overlooking our shortcomings we continue to have faith in this country and want it to succeed. Conservatives give America the benefit of the doubt in good times and in bad times.
Given our present economic turmoil, the growing complacency over national security and the euphoria surrounding President-elect Obama, I believe that in President Bush many in this country will not know what we had until he is gone. But if that be the case then at least history and hindsight will have gone in some way to vindicate the courage of his convictions. The rest will depend on how Bush contributes to America and abroad after moving out of the White House. Check out my thoughts on a Bush post-Presidency in my latest article. (http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2009/01/15/the-post-presidency-of-george-w-bush/)
New York Governor David Paterson described today's event as "The Miracle on the Hudson."
Yet the miracle could not have come to be without skill and preparation. The pilot, Chelsey Sullenberger, has been widely praised for the landing and for his cool demeanor on the flight. He's been a commercial pilot for 28 years and previous to that had been in the U.S. Air Force. The flight crew also did its job in getting the passengers off the plane safely. Their training sure paid off. New York Waterways ferries had the plane surrounded within minutes. Their personnel rescued people from the water and transported them back to land. In the post-9/11 environment, New York Waterways and other agencies had been practicing for such an event and today practice made perfect.
There is much bad in and about the world. Yet every so often we can score one for humanity. Today was surely one of those occasions.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Now Miliband is right when he says that terrorism is "a deadly tactic, not an institution or ideology." The ideology, of course, is Islamic fundamentalism and the institution is the establishment of a caliphate under the rule of Shari'a law. But Miliband dare not speak its name.
Instead, Miliband wants "co-operation."
What does Miliband mean by co-operation? What is it that we are supposed to be cooperating about and how do we put it into effect? After all, where was Britain and Europe's co-operation where it concerned Gitmo detainees? They lambast the Bush Administration for keeping Gitmo open yet when Bush asks if they're willing to take on the detainees themselves they retreat to the rock from which they crawled. In fairness to Obama I'm sure he'll get no further co-operation from Britain and Europe on detainees than did Bush. But I'm not giving Obama a pass on his mindset. Nor that of Miliband.
I wrote a post on Miliband when he was interviewed on Charlie Rose last month. (http://intellectualconservative.blogspot.com/2008/12/miliband-doesnt-understand-palestinians.html)
Miliband is a guy who honestly believes that Hezbollah will have no reason to exist once Israel hands the Golan Heights over to Syria. Well, we see the wondrous effects Israeli withdrawal from Gaza has had on Hamas.
Again, it must be emphasized that David Miliband might reside at Number 10 Downing Street in the forseeable future.
Needless to say, Mr. Miliband does not inspire my confidence.
This development is no surprise. Chavez, Morales and other left wing leaders in South America like Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua have been courting Iran which wants Israel wiped off the map. Isn't it funny that Iran is supplying Hamas with rockets to launch into Israel? Isn't it also funny that neither Chavez nor Morales had any objections when Hamas launched rockets into Israel?
Chavez's animus to Israel goes back at least to December 2004 when his commandos raided a private Jewish school in Caracas. During the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Chavez recalled the Israeli Ambassador claiming that Israel was committing a Holocaust in Lebanon and compared Israel to the Nazis.
When Israel began its incursion into Gaza, Chavez responded by expelling the Israeli Ambassador. Venezuela's Foreign Ministry accused Israel of "state terrorism" and of deliberately targeting women, children and the elderly. Chavez wants Israel's leaders brought before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Earlier in the day, Bolivian President Morales announced they too would be ending diplomatic relations with Israel. While Bolivia might have severed ties first he doesn't do anything without Chavez's blessing. Morales called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Israeli President Shimon Peres "war criminals."
One could dismiss Chavez and Morales as buffoons but they (Chavez in particular) wield influence in Latin America and left-wingers around the globe. What happens if supposedly more moderate left leaning governments in South America like President Lula in Brazil or President Bachelet in Chile follow suit? It will contribute to the international delegitimization of Israel which is well under way. Is regaining America's reputation in the world important enough to Obama to throw Israel under the bus? We might find out sooner rather than later.
The Mexican born Montalban is best known for starring as Mr. Roarke on the ABC TV series Fantasy Island which ran from 1978 to 1984.
He is also remembered for his portrayal of Khan Noonien Singh in a 1967 episode of Star Trek. He would reprise this role in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He was also cast as a villian in The Naked Gun starring Leslie Nielsen.
Montalban's distinctive voice led him to do Chrysler commercials in which he spoke of "soft Corinthian leather."
A spinal injury kept him largely confined to a wheelchair in recent years although he did occasionally land a role. Younger fans might remember Montalban in two of the Spy Kids movies from earlier in the decade. His last acting credit was supplying his voice to the 2006 computer animated movie Ant Bully.
Montalban was married for 63 years until his wife, Georgiana Young de Montalban, died in November 2007.
I'm sure there is a welcoming committee at the pearly gates raising a glass.
Although McGoohan is thought of as English or Irish, he was born in the United States. Whatever his upbringing, he had tremendous success on both sides of the Atlantic.
His first wide exposure was in the British TV series Danger Man in which he played the lead character, John Drake. Because of this role McGoohan was offered the chance to play James Bond. However, he turned it down. McGoohan, a devout Roman Catholic, would not kiss on camera. The John Drake would be reprised in the show Secret Agent Man and spawned the Johnny Rivers hit of the same name.
However, he is best known for writing, producing, directing and starring in The Prisoner. While it only ran for 17 episodes it was landmark television. McGoohan plays a spy who has resigned, is gassed in his apartment and then awakens to find himself in The Village.
Each episode begins a dialogue between McGoohan as Number Six and the new Number Two:
NUMBER SIX: Where am I?
NUMBER TWO: In The Village.
NUMBER SIX: What do you want?
NUMBER TWO: Information!!! Information!!! Information!!!
NUMBER SIX: You won't get it.
NUMBER TWO: By hook or by crook, we will.
NUMBER SIX: Who are you?
NUMBER TWO: The new Number Two.
NUMBER SIX: Who is Number One?
NUMBER TWO: You are Number Six.
NUMBER SIX: I am not a number!!! I'm a free man.
Whereupon Number Two erupts in laughter. From then on he is referred to as Number Six and begins a quest to find out who is Number One and to escape The Village.
I first saw The Prisoner in 1987 on the PBS station in Detroit. My older brother recorded the episodes and over time I became enamored with the show as well. McGoohan reprised the role of Number Six in a 2000 episode of The Simpsons.
A new version of The Prisoner starring James Caviezel (of The Passion of the Christ fame) as Number Six and Sir Ian McKellen as Number Two will air later in 2009 on AMC. This version will only air six episodes. Ironically, in advance of the new series AMC is airing all 17 episodes of the original series online.
Remake or not, The Prisoner has served as a source of inspiration for other TV shows. Burn Notice on the USA Network has a Prisoneresque quality only there's lots of kissing.
McGoohan won two Emmy Awards for playing villians on Columbo in both the 1970s and the 1990s. He was close friends with Peter Falk (who, unfortunately, is having health problems of his own.) He also appeared in films such as Silver Streak, Escape From Alcatraz, Scanners, Mel Gibson's Braveheart and The Phantom.
McGoohan is survived by three children, five grandchildren and a great grandchild. He was married to Joan Drummond for 57 years.
I'm sure somewhere up in Heaven G-d is saying, "Be seeing you."
A Hollywood actor has praised President Bush.
In an interview with the British edition of GQ, Rourke said in reference to 9/11, "President Bush was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't know how anyone could have handled this situation....I'm not one of those who blames Bush for everything."
Rourke also expressed dismay with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Britain:
I was in London recently and I couldn't believe all these hate-talking fanatics you have over here who are allowed to carry on doing their thing even when a bus full of women and children gets blown to pieces.
I know you've deported one or two of them, but it seems crazy. I think there is worse to come, something terrible will happen to either America or the U.K., or France even. I don't think these fundamentalists should be allowed to talk all this crap, and brainwashing these young kids. (http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/79536/Rourke-Bush-was-in-the-wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time)
The Daily Express, for its part, took Rourke to task for being "taken aback by the freedom of speech allowed in the U.K." Rourke doesn't claim to be an expert. But he sells himself short. He understands the difference between freedom of speech and incitement.
Rourke's career is on the upswing with his role in the film The Wrestler for which he just won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. He is widely expected to get an Academy Award nomination but I'm sure his praise for Bush will deny him the statue.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Never mind that most of the people killed were Hamas terrorists who launched rockets into Israel and are committed to Israel's destruction. But in the mind of the President of the UN General Assembly it is Israel that is committing genocide.
The General Assembly is planning an emergency session on Gaza. Gee, I wonder how that will turn out.
After all, Brockmann has compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the treatment blacks received in South Africa during the Apartheid era not unlike Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur in the Palestinian Territories. Wonders never cease. Where do they find these people?
Brockmann said, "It's unbelievable that a country that owes its existence to a general assembly resolution could be so disdainful of the resolutions that emanate from the UN." (http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/01/200911321467988347.html)
I would remind Mr. Brockmann that same resolution also established a new Arab state alongside Israel but they refused it. It was known as the UN Partition Plan. Partition means to divide. The Arabs, Palestinians, whatever you want to call them, didn't want to share land with Israel in 1947. They don't want to share land with Israel now.
But what do you expect of someone who in one of his first acts as General Assembly President, Brockmann embraced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after he spoke to the UN General Assembly last September?
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Brockmann was Daniel Ortega's Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Sandinista government in Nicarauga from 1979 to 1990. Of course, Ortega is again President of Nicarauga and welcomed Ahmadinejad with open arms when the Iranian leader visited Nicarauga in January 2007.
Today, they cited an internal report from the Justice Department which found had "routinely hired conservatives, Republicans and so-called RTA's - "Right Thinking Americans - for what were supposed to be apolitical posts and gave them plum assignments on important civil rights cases." (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/washington/13web-justice.html?hp)
Do you mean to tell me the Bush Justice Department hired Republicans and conservatives to work on civil rights cases? Heavens to Betsy!!! Everyone run for your lives!!!
What could next be in store for the New York Times?
Will there be a shocking expose which reveals the Obama Justice Department "routinely hiring liberals, Democrats and so-called CTW's - "Citizens of the World" - for what were supposed to be apolitical posts and gave them plum assignments on important civil rights cases,"?
That story is about as likely as Paul Krugman uttering a kind word about President Bush.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Rickey Henderson was a shoo in. In his first year of eligibility, Henderson was voted in by nearly 95% of the BBWAA. Only Tom Seaver, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr received more votes in their first year of eligibility.
Henderson was in a class by himself. In 25 seasons, Henderson established himself as the best leadoff hitter the game has ever seen. His 1,406 stolen bases are a MLB record. He set the record in 1991 when he passed Lou Brock. Never one for modesty when he broke the record he announced, "I am the greatest of all-time." Henderson finished with nearly 500 more stolen bases than Brock. It isn't bragging if you can back it up. In 1980, in only his second season, Henderson stole 100 bases. Two years later he set a major league record with 130. A record that will surely never be broken. Between 1980 and 1991, he led the AL in stolen bases every year except 1987. In 1998, at the age of 39, Henderson would lead the AL in stolen bases with 66.
Henderson is mostly identified as a member of the Oakland Athletics where he played four stints over 13 years. While with Oakland, Henderson won a World Series ring in 1989 and the AL MVP in 1990. Henderson also played with the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Anaheim Angels, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. He collected one more World Series ring with the Blue Jays in 1993; was named to the AL All Star Team ten times and had more than 3000 hits in his career.
I got to see him play at Fenway Park as a member of the Mariners in 2000 and in 2002 when he was a member of the Red Sox. Henderson's final season was in 2003 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I never got to see Jim Rice play in person. Unlike the well travelled Henderson, Rice played his entire 16 year career with the Boston Red Sox. Rice's best season was in 1978 when he won the AL MVP. That year Rice led the league in home runs, RBI, hits, slugging percentage, total bases and triples. He finished second in runs scored and third in the AL batting race. Rice would have four seasons of 200 or more hits and nearly had 2500 in his career. He led the AL in home runs three times, led the AL in RBI and slugging twice and was named to the AL All Star Team eight times. He also played in the 1986 World Series. Rice's career batting average was .298.
Rice probably should have retired after the 1986 season. Also unlike Henderson, Rice was in his last year of eligibility. If he didn't get in this year he would have been at the mercy of the Veterans Committee who have even tougher standards than the BBWAA. However, he just got over the 75% threshold receiving 76.4% of ballots casted. Rice's career declined steeply after 1986. He retired late in the 1989 season.
Rice did not have a good relationship with the media in Boston during his playing days. Moreover, his numbers were eclipsed by others. However, in recent years, the writers have taken another look at Rice. Some like Sean McAdam of The Providence Journal have pointed out that Rice's numbers look better after the "steroids era." No one ever questioned Rice's natural physical strength. The man once broke a bat on a checked swing. Some players when frustrated will break a bat over their leg. Rice could snap one in half. This was not a man with whom you wanted to pick a fight. Nor did Rice need any help hitting the ball out of the park.
He also thought quick on his feet. During a 1982 game, a ball was hit into the stands that hit a 4-year-old boy in the head and he began to bleed profusely. Rice leapt from the dugout into the stands, retrieved the boy, went back into the dugout, carried him through the Red Sox clubhouse and into the arms of the Red Sox medical staff. Rice's actions were credited with saving the boy's life.
Rice's relationship with the media has warmed in recent years. He has been a pre-game and post-game commentator for the Sox since 2003. Between 1995 and 2000, he was the Red Sox hitting coach and serves as an instructional batting coach during spring training. He has also a long standing association with the Jimmy Fund as well as RBI (Reviving Baseball in Innercities.) His off the field performance is as exemplary as it was on the field. In light of today's announcement, one can only hope the Red Sox will see fit to retire his number sometime during the 2009 season.
A hearty congratulations to both Henderson and Rice.