Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ted Sorensen, 1928-2010. R.I.P.

Ted Sorensen, who served as the principal speechwriter for President Kennedy, died today of complications from a stroke. He was 82.

Sorensen's association with Kennedy began in 1953 after he had been elected to the Senate and continued into the White House. He heavily collaborated with Kennedy on his book Profiles in Courage.

Sorensen was an early supporter of Barack Obama likening him to JFK. He would later express disappointment with Obama but from an elitist point of view. Sorensen claimed Obama's speeches "are too complicated for typical citizens."

In March 2009, Sorensen was amongst several officials in various Democratic and Republican administrations who called upon President Obama to engage in talks with Hamas. I am sure Sorensen believed his adage, "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate." But why would anyone negotiate with Hamas unless it was out of fear?

Still, he was a man of many words.

Mets Name Alderson New GM

The New York Mets named Sandy Alderson their new General Manager on Friday.

Alderson spent 15 seasons as the GM for the Oakland Athletics and was on hand when they won three consecutive AL pennants and a World Series title in 1989.

After leaving Oakland, Alderson went to work for Bud Selig and remained in the Commissioner's Office until 2005. Alderson then served as the CEO of the San Diego Padres, a position he held until 2009.

Given the chaos that reigned under Omar Minaya, the Wilpons wanted an old hand in charge.

I had hoped the Mets would consider Dodgers Assistant General Manager Kim Ng for the position. But it doesn't appear the Mets ever approached her. Ng had been interviewed for GM positions in Seattle and San Diego in 2008 and 2009 but was passed over on both occasions.

Well, now that Alderson has the gig it will be interesting to see who he hires to be the Mets new skipper.

Thoughts on Randy Quaid

A couple of days ago, Daniel Foster of National Review Online asked if Randy Quaid "was pulling a Joaquin Phoenix."

If that is what Quaid and his wife Evi are doing then they are going much further than Phoenix. All Phoenix did was act weird on Letterman and do bad hip-hop. Phoenix never had any infractions with the law. Whereas the Quaids have faced a litany of misdemeanors and one felony charge for burglary, are claiming to be the targets of assassins and are now seeking refugee status in Canada. If the Quaids are engaging in an elaborate act of performance art they are wasting the resources of both the American judicial system and Canada's immigration system. And if they aren't then G-d help them.

Thoughts on the UPS Bomb Plot

It's interesting to see that American and British authorities now believe that the bombs aboard the UPS packages sent from Yemen were intended to be detonated aboard the passenger planes carrying them rather than the synagogues in Chicago to which they were addressed.

I think the bombs were intended for the synagogues. The reason I believe this is because the plot was uncovered on Thursday night. Assuming the packages hadn't been intercepted they would arrived in Chicago just in time for Friday night Shabbat services. If you want to target a synagogue and are seeking to maximize casualties, outside of a major Jewish holiday, you would do during Shabbat on Friday evening or Saturday morning.

Let's also not forget that earlier this month four Muslim men were convicted of planning to bomb two synagogues in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

Let us also not forget what happened during the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India in November 2008. While most of the carnage took place in the Taj Mahal Hotel and the Oberoi Trident Hotel let us not forget the attack on the Mumbai Chabad House. It resulted in the deaths of six Jews including Rabbi Avram Berkowitz and his pregnant wife Rivka. According to Indian intelligence, the terrorists were instructed by their masters in Pakistan that the lives of Jews was worth 50 times that of non-Jews.

So I find it troubling that American and British authorities are downplaying the intent to attack synagogues. It is worth noting that one of the synagogues in question has a predominantly LGBT congregation. If that particular congregation wasn't LGBT one wonders if anyone would have mentioned there were synagogues involved at all.

If killing Jews is worth fifty times more to Muslim terrorists than killing non-Jews be those terrorists are from within the U.S., Pakistan or Yemen then there is no question the packages were intended to be detonated at those synagogues in Chicago.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nestor Kirchner, 1950-2010. R.I.P.

Nestor Kirchner, who served as the President of Argentina from 2003 to 2007, has died of a heart attack. He was 60.

Kirchner had been beset with heart trouble and only last month underwent an angioplasty procedure.

When Kirchner was elected President, Argentina was in the midst of a debt crisis and he is largely credited for restoring Argentinians confidence in the economy although many of the measures (such as the devaluation of the peso) were introduced by his predecessor Eduardo Duhalde.

Instead of seeking a second term his wife Cristina Fernandez ran in his place and was elected. Unsurprisingly, Kirchner yielded enormous power in Fernandez's government. It was believed that Kirchner was going to run for the presidency in 2011 thus alternating power between him and his wife.

Kirchner was a close ally of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (and this continues under Fernandez's administration). Writing about Kirchner on The Huffington Post, Robert Naiman draws our attention to an interview Kirchner did with Oliver Stone from his recently released documentary
South of the Border. Kirchner recounts a discussion he had with President George W. Bush. He told Stone that Bush had told him the best way to grow the American economy was to go to war.

Frankly, I find that statement hard to believe. Kirchner did not speak English and, despite his best efforts, Bush struggled with Spanish. In the absence of hearing Bush's side of the story, methinks something got lost in translation.

However, unlike Chavez, Kirchner had a strong affinity for Israel. Argentina also has the largest Jewish community in Latin America. The two countries have enjoyed stronger relations since the terrorist attack against a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in July 1994. It is widely believed that Hezbollah carried out the attack. While in office, Kirchner publicly condemned Iran, Hezbollah's sponsor, for the attack.

Unlike Chavez and other Latin American leaders like Bolivia's Evo Morales and Ecuador's Rafael Correa, Kirchner would not have an audience with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he visited Latin America in January 2007. This stand against Iran has continued under Fernandez. Consequently, Ahmadinejad skipped Argentina when he visited Latin America again in November 2009. And unlike Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, Argentina has not broken off diplomatic relations with Israel. So there's something to be said for being the boat that sails against the current.

Thoughts on the Stomping Incident in Kentucky

Whatever Lauren Valle's intentions were with regard to Rand Paul on Monday night it should not have resulted in her being wrestled to the ground and stomped upon.

That Valle is a member of and wanted to cause trouble for Paul is irrelevant. There was no justification for the actions of a few Rand Paul supporters. The Paul campaign, to its credit, has declared the man who did the actual stomping persona non grata.

One could make the case that there should have been better security so as to have prevented such trouble from arising. But then again you cannot plan for everything.

While the liberal media would be dirilect if it did not cover the incident they certainly did not exercise due diligence when it came to scrutinizing SEIU members who attacked conservative activist Kenneth Gladney outside a town hall meeting on Obamacare in St. Louis in August 2009.

The bottom line here is that, whether you are a liberal or a conservative, if you have a point to make then your ability to express that point should not be trampled upon either literally or figuratively.

My 2010 World Series Prediction

When I wrote my piece about the political and cultural divide of the 2010 World Series I neglected to mention who I thought was going to win it all.

Rangers in seven.

World Series MVP - Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers

I also think both Bengie Molina and Buster Posey will do stellar work behind the plate. Interestingly, Molina began the year with the Giants but was traded mid-season not long after Posey was brought up to the majors.

Let the first pitch be unhurled.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Evening with MA GOP Congressional Hopefuls

I spent this evening at a Republican Jewish Coaliton event in Brookline with several Massachusetts Republican candidates. The organizers underestimated the attendance and had to bring out several extra rows of chairs.

The candidates in attendance included Sean Bielat (who is giving Barney Frank fits), Jeff Perry, Bill Hudak, Jon Golnik and Gerry Dombrowski. Marty Lamb (who is facing off against Jim "The Constitution is Wrong" McGovern) was unable to attend due to a candidates debate.

After listening to these candidates I don't see a Scott Brown in the bunch. Don't get me wrong. They generally made a good account of themselves and were well received. But nobody was spellbinding.

Bielat and Perry in particular have been getting a good amount of media attention. But they are going need more than that. Bielat is behind Barney Frank by 13 points. Perry, on the other hand, is within the margin of error against Bill Keating and the race is a genuine toss up. But everything has to break Perry's way in a week's time and I'm not convinced he can pull it off. I hope I am wrong but I suspect I am not.

Paul the Octopus, 2008-2010. R.I.P.

Paul the Octopus, the prognosticator of World Cup soccer matches, has died of natural causes. He was 2.

Paul became an international media sensation during the World Cup this past summer when he correctly predicted Germany's fate in each of its eight matches including the final which they lost to Spain.

It's too bad he's no longer with us. I would like to have known who he liked in the World Series.

Sink is Sunk (Or Sink Goes Down the Drain)

I think either headline is applicable in light of what happened at last night's Florida gubernatorial debate on CNN.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Jays Name Farrell New Manager

The Toronto Blue Jays have hired John Farrell to be their new manager. He succeeds Cito Gaston who retired at the end of the 2010 season.

Farrell has spent the past four seasons as the pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox. Previously, he was the Director of Player Development for the Cleveland Indians. Farrell also pitched parts of eight seasons in the bigs with the Indians, California Angels and the Detroit Tigers. I remember when Farrell first came up with the Tribe in 1988. He had good command of his pitches but he just couldn't stay healthy and missed two seasons due to an elbow injury.

Now Farrell is an unknown quantity as a manager but he has a good reputation as a pitching coach. During his years here in Boston, Farrell was far more fiery than Terry Francona. He'll certainly be more fiery than Gaston. I remember the time he cussed out the Mariner Moose when he nearly ran over Coco Crisp while he drove his ATV in front of the Red Sox dugout.

It will be interesting to see if Jays make any other off-season moves. They are going to need more than just a managerial change to compete in the AL East in 2011.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Giants Won the Pennant!!!

The San Francisco Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series to win the NL pennant and will face the Texas Rangers in the 2010 World Series beginning Wednesday.

The benches cleared after Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez hit Chase Utley in the back with a pitch. Sanchez hit Utley with a pitch when the Phillies and Giants met last August so there's history between the two. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy took Sanchez out of the game after the dust cleared and the bullpen proceeded to pitch seven scoreless innings.

The Giants went ahead in the top of the 8th inning on a solo homerun by Jose Uribe. In Game 4, Uribe had a game winning sacrifice fly.

Cody Ross was named NLCS MVP. Ross went 7 for 20 (.350) with 3 homeruns and 5 RBI. In late August, Ross was put on waivers by the Florida Marlins and the Giants picked him up. Interestingly, Ross didn't become an everyday player until they left Jose Guillen (himself a late season acquisition) off the roster due to a neck injury. It proved to be money well spent.

This will be the Giants first World Series appearance since 2002. The Giants have not won a World Series since 1954 when they still played in New York.

Kudos to John Quayle. He predicted a Rangers-Giants World Series. Quayle thinks the Giants in seven. I'll let everyone know my thoughts on Wednesday.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rangers Reach 1st World Series

Congratulations to the Texas Rangers!!!

They won their first American League pennant defeating the New York Yankees 6-1 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

Colby Lewis pitched eight sensational innings, giving up only one run on three hits with seven strikeouts. It was Lewis' second win of the series. Vladimir Guerrero drove in three runs and Nelson Cruz put it away with a two run homerun.

It was fitting that ex-Ranger Alex Rodriguez made the final out when Rangers closer Neftali Feliz struck him out looking.

Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who is favored to win the AL MVP, was named the ALCS MVP. He went 7 for 20 (.350) with 4 homeruns and 7 RBI. The Yankees eventually stopped pitching to Hamilton intentionally walking him five times including thrice in Game 6.

The Rangers, of course, blew a five run lead in the eighth inning of Game 1. That would have crushed a lesser team. But any team that can jettison both the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays is certainly not lacking for anything.

The Rangers will face the winner of the NLCS. The San Francisco Giants have a three games to two lead against the Philadelphia Phillies. The NLCS resumes tomorrow night in Philadelphia. Will the Phillies win a third straight NL pennant? Or will we have the ultimate Red State-Blue State Fall Classic?

I am happy for Rangers co-owner Nolan Ryan. I'll take him over Mark Cuban any day of the week. I'm also happy for Michael Young who played 11 seasons for the Rangers before playing in his first post-season game. I'm equally happy for Rangers skipper Ron Washington who has spent four decades in the game as a player, coach and now a manager and has finally reached a World Series.

The Dallas Cowboys now find themselves in the unusual position of playing second fiddle to the Rangers. It's antler and claw season.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Further Thoughts on Juan Williams

Do you realize that no conservative was actively considering defunding NPR until they fired a liberal?

Sure conservatives would rather privatize NPR but it wasn't exactly the certain of discussion at Tea Party rallies and other conservative gatherings. Now it's as big a priority as repealing Obamacare.

For this, NPR has no one else but itself to blame for this sorry state of affairs.

My roomie Christopher works at a bookstore at Logan Airport. Who should he see on Tuesday but Juan Williams. Christopher is a huge fan of NPR and was absolutely stunned to hear what had happened.

We both saw the segment that got Williams fired on Monday and neither of us thought anything he said was out of the ordinary. Possibly because we were mesmerized by Mary Katharine Ham's green outfit and pearls.

Christopher isn't sold on defunding NPR. But I look at this way. If the programming on NPR is good it will survive in the marketplace. However, I don't think a lot of liberals are confident it will hence their dependence on the federal government for NPR's survival. The same could be said for PBS.

I saw Juan Williams interviewed by Bill O'Reilly tonight. Williams quite obviously is upset by these developments. After all, he gave NPR his blood, sweat and tears for a decade and this is the thanks he gets. But O'Reilly is right to say he's better off without the albatross that is NPR.

The best quote on L'Affaire Juan Williams so far comes from Doctor Zero who writes, "Getting fired from NPR when you're a fixture on Fox is like Will Smith learning he's been kicked out off the local dinner theater company."

Juan Williams has now taken centre stage.

Obama: I Should Have Had a Better Sales Pitch

Even if President Obama did have a better sales pitch at the end of the day he is still selling us a bill of goods.

FNC Gives Williams New $2 Million Contract

Less than 24 hours after being unceremoniously dumped by NPR, Juan Williams has been given a contract extension worth $2 million over three years.

Good for Juan Williams!!! Good for Fox News!!!

For good measure, not only will he be on The O'Reilly Factor tonight he will guest host it on Friday.

Who would have ever thought Juan Williams would emerge as the most controversial figure at FNC?

NPR Gives Juan Williams The Sharia Shaft

National Palestine Radio, er, I mean National Public Radio has fired longtime correspondent Juan Williams for remarks he made about Muslims during an interview with Bill O'Reilly earlier this week.

Williams said, "Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Now one need not wear "Muslim garb" or be Middle Eastern in appearance to be a Muslim. But anyone who says they don't get nervous seeing someone who is wearing Muslim garb on an airplane is lying through their teeth.

Just ask the people who flew Northwest Airlines Flight 253 last Christmas.

But Williams also quoted Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square Bomber who was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month. Williams stated, "He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts."

Juan Williams got fired for telling the truth.

Juan Williams also got fired because of his association with Fox News. Not only do Cliff May and Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online say so but so does NPR itself.

Bill Kristol summed it up succinctly, "NPR--unfair, unbalanced...and afraid."

Many years ago WBUR, the NPR affiliate in Boston, did an interview with me about my conservative poetry. But I haven't got much use for NPR and now I have even less for them now.

Bob Guccione, 1930-2010. R.I.P.

Bob Guccione, the founder of Penthouse magazine, died yesterday of cancer. He was 79.

I did not realize that Penthouse was started in Britain before coming to America in 1969 to compete with Hugh Hefner. He was able to compete with Playboy by offering more sexually explicit fare. In its early years, Guccione was the magazine's main photographer.

Like many successful businessmen, Guccione was undone by spreading himself thin and getting involved in too many enterprises. Amongst his business failures were a casino and hotel in Atlantic City that never materialized and, believe it or not, a nuclear reactor which also never materialized. Perhaps his most spectacular failure was his involvement in the notorious 1979 movie Caligula starring Malcolm McDowell. It is an experience that McDowell still recounts with bitterness.

Nevertheless, one cannot deny his success in the magazine industry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Obama Administration Still Engaging Iran

Despite the fact Mahmoud Ahmadinejad only last month declared the United States would face war that "would know no boundaries", the Obama Administration insists on engaging Iran.

Somehow the Obama White House is convinced that Iran can help end the War in Afghanistan. This despite the fact that only two weeks ago Afghanistan intercepted a shipment of Iranian weapons headed for the Taliban.

What will it take for the Obama Administration to get it through its collective head that Iran is not interested in helping us in Afghanistan? The site of Ahmadinejad and bin Laden having a cold one in a cave?

Jimmy McMillan is No Laughing Matter

Jimmy McMillan, New York gubernatorial candidate of the Rent is Too Damn High Party, has become an internet sensation with his amusing performance in the New York gubernatorial debate last night.

His performance won him praise at National Review Online. No doubt it didn't hurt that he sang the praises of Ronald Reagan.

But we might want to dig a little deeper before everyone jumps on the Rent is Too Damn High bandwagon.

Why does Jimmy McMillan think the rent is too damn high? When McMillan ran for Mayor of New York in 2005 he blamed Jews for the rent being too damn high. If that wasn't enough he also holds Jews living in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn responsible for harboring al Qaeda and causing the attacks of September 11, 2001.

I can only hope that Jimmy McMillan's fifteen minutes of fame will have used up by election day. He is certainly no laughing matter.

Cubs Keep Quade as Manager

I am very happy to hear that Mike Quade has been named the manager of the Chicago Cubs.

Quade took over the reins of the club last August after Lou Piniella abruptly left to be with his ailing mother. Under Quade's quiet leadership, the Cubs went 24-13 down the stretch under.

I've been a fan of Quade since he managed the Ottawa Lynx (which was for many years the Triple A affiliate of the Montreal Expos) during their inaugural season in 1993.

Naturally, Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is disappointed and doesn't know if he'll remain in the Cubs organization.

I can understand Sandberg's disappointment but Quade is their guy.

I think good things will happen with the Cubs next year.

Baseball is Not Dying

I must take issue with the assertion of Joseph Lawler, my colleague at The American Spectator, that “baseball is dying” because 0.7% fewer TV sets were tuned into Game 3 of the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers than Monday Night Football.

Of course, Monday Night Football is only one night a week hence the name Monday Night Football. Chances are more viewers will tune into Game 4 between the Yankees and Rangers tonight.

Critics of baseball have been speaking of its impending death for nearly 150 years. To paraphrase Mark Twain, such rumors have been greatly exaggerated. If baseball is dying then why did more than 73 million people attend MLB games during the 2010 season? If baseball is dying then how come the New York Yankees are valued at more than a billion dollars? If baseball is dying then why did Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and his partner Chuck Greenberg have to fight Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tooth and nail to keep him from buying the Texas Rangers? If baseball is dying then why do fans show up at Wrigley Field to watch a team that hasn’t won a World Series in over one hundred years?

Of course, there is always room for improvement. I wouldn’t mind seeing at least one day game in the World Series. There were no night games in the World Series until 1971. But for the past quarter century all Fall Classic games have been under the lights. The last day game played in the World Series took place in 1984 when the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in Game 5 to clinch what turned out to be their last World Series title.

But don’t even think about speeding up the games. Don’t make baseball into something that it isn’t. Baseball’s modulation is unique. There is no clock. It has its own pace. Sometimes that pace is leisurely and sometimes that pace is lightning quick. If Joseph doesn’t think baseball can be fast paced then he ought to watch Roy Halladay pitch sometime.

Tom Bosley, 1927-2010. R.I.P.

Actor Tom Bosley has died of complications of lung cancer and heart disease. He was 83.

Bosley is, of course, best known for his portrayal of Howard Cunningham on Happy Days. He would later star in Father Dowling Mysteries and also made frequent appearances on Murder She Wrote with Angela Lansbury.

Bosley also appeared with Lansbury in the 1964 movie The World of Henry Orient starring Peter Sellers. I remember seeing that movie on television many years ago and thought it was quite ahead of its time.

I also remember Bosley narrating the story of Chanukah in a television special called A Cup of Light which was probably made sometime in the early to mid-1960s. When I watched this special my Hebrew school teacher wondered aloud what a non-Jew was doing narrating a film about Chanukah. But as it turned out Bosley was Jewish. I guess playing a Catholic priest on TV will convince people you're Catholic.

The death of one of America's most beloved TV Dads comes only days after the passing of Barbara Billingsley, one of America's most beloved TV Moms.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mariners Name Wedge New Manager

The Seattle Mariners have hired former Cleveland Indians skipper Eric Wedge to be their new manager for the 2011 season. It is not known how long the M's will have Wedge under contract.

Wedge managed the Tribe from 2003 through 2009. He was named 2007 AL Manager of the Year after leading the Indians to an AL Central Division title. The Indians were up three games to one against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS but the Sox stormed back to win the AL pennant and went on to win the World Series. Things never got back on track for the Indians who dismissed Wedge following last season.

I, of course, expected the Mariners to have a parade through downtown Seattle. Instead, the Mariners lost 101 games. They dismissed manager Don Wakamatsu in August and Daren Brown, manager of the Mariners Triple A affiliate in Tacoma, took over the team for the rest of the season. It is unknown as to whether Brown will return to Tacoma or be invited to be part of Wedge's coaching staff.

I think Wedge is a reasonably good choice. But the Mariners need bats.

Democratic Congressman Slaps His Republican Opponent

Over the weekend, Colorado Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter slapped his Republican opponent, Ryan Frazier, on the hand while they were debating Obamacare.

When Frazier objected Perlmutter apologized. The debate proceeded.

It is worth noting that Perlmutter is white and Frazier is African-American.

Now imagine if a white Republican Congressman had slapped his black Democratic opponent on the hand during a televised debate. It would be the leading headline in The New York Times and would be played 24/7 on MSNBC. They would speak of the Republican culture of hatred against African-Americans. But because this doesn't fit their view of the world it will be as if it never happened.

Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson, 1926-2010. R.I.P.

Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson passed away over the weekend. Her cause of death is unknown. She was 84.

Dr. Jefferson was something of a medical pioneer when in 1951 she became the first African-American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School. She later became the first woman to work as a surgical intern at Boston City Hospital.

Dr. Jefferson was a founding member of the National Right to Life Committee and served as its President for three terms. She also ran for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts as a Republican unsuccessfully on three occasions.

I suspect we would know a lot more about Dr. Jefferson's achievements in medicine if not for her pro-life activism. If Dr. Jefferson had been a pro-choice activist I submit that she would have a statue erected in her honor somewhere in the Longwood Medical Area.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jack Powers,1937-2010. R.I.P.

Boston poetry legend Jack Powers died on Thursday of complications of dementia. He was 73.

Jack was best known as the founder of Stone Soup Poetry in 1971. Nearly forty years later, Stone Soup is still going strong every Monday night. Jack was associated with the Beat Poets and the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and Lawrence Ferlinghetti would grace their presence at Stone Soup.

I first met Jack the when I went to Stone Soup in the summer of 2001 when the readings were held at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge. Shortly thereafter the venue was moved a short distance to the Out of the Blue Gallery where the readings are held to this day. You might recall that I was the featured poet at Stone Soup last July.

Jack and I did not know each other well. But I remember he was deeply affected by the attack of September 11, 2001. I recall that one of his nephews signed up for the military after the attack and he could not talk about it without bursting into tears. Like most Boston poets he disagreed with my politics although he was generally respectful in his disagreement. On one occasion he described me as a libertarian. He said that in such a way that it seemed to comfort him.

Another reason I didn't know him that well is because his health started to decline preciptously. He suffered a series of strokes that eventually left him unable to speak. In recent years, he lived in a nursing home. I last saw Jack a little over a year ago when my roommate Christopher Kain featured at Stone Soup. I was not aware of his dementia until a few months ago.

When I think of Jack though I think of the man who would visit the Holocaust Memorial near Faneuil Hall on a daily basis. There is certainly something to be said for a man who takes the time to remember those who must not be forgotten.

Meghan McCain Throws Rocks at O'Donnell in a Glass House

During an appearance on ABC News This Week, Meghan McCain described Christine O'Donnell as "a nut job."

But what caught my attention was when McCain said, "Christine O'Donnell is making a mockery of running for public office. She has no real history, no real success in any kind of business and what that says to my generation is one day you can just wake up and run for Senate no matter how (little) experience you have."

Now let's put aside O'Donnell's qualifications for public office. That is up to the voters of Delaware. But for Meghan McCain to say that O'Donnell ought not run for public office because she has no real history or real success in any kind of business takes an enormous amount of audacity. In fact, I would dare say it takes an Obama like audacity.

Let's be honest here. If McCain was not the daughter of a U.S. Senator and former candidate for President of the United States would she have a column at The Daily Beast? If not for her father's name would she have interned at Saturday Night Live and Newsweek? If she were not the offspring of John McCain would Hyperion Books have published her memoir?

Meghan McCain should not throw rocks inside a glass house.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

2010 NLCS Prediction

Phillies in seven.

NLCS MVP - Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies.

I am looking forward to seeing Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum pitch against each other.

Barbara Billingsley, 1915-2010. R.I.P.

Actress Barbara Billingsley has passed away of rheumatoid disease. She was 94.

Billingsley, of course, was best known for her portrayal of June Cleaver in the 1950s TV series Leave It To Beaver.

Her success on Beaver was a double edged sword. Although she was part of TV history getting roles post-Beaver proved difficult as casting agents had trouble seeing Billingsley as anyone other than June Cleaver.

But then in 1980 she was introduced to a new generation of fans with her hillarious cameo in Airplane! In an interview, Billingsley said it was the two actors in the scene that wrote out the "jive" for her. She added, "It was remarkable. It started my whole career again."

Friday, October 15, 2010

2010 ALCS Prediction

Yankees in six. But I have a feeling the Rangers are going to win Game 1.

ALCS MVP - Robinson Cano, New York Yankees.

UPDATE: The Rangers had a 5-1 lead into the 8th inning. But the Yankees scored five runs in to take a 6-5 lead. The Rangers had the tying run on base but Mariano Rivera picked off Ian Kinsler to take the air out of the crowd. The Rangers still haven't won a post-season game at home.

BTW, Cano went 3-for-4 with a homerun and 2 RBI.

Red Sox Owners Purchase Liverpool F.C.

A few months ago a fellow named Sam Teitel, who is a regular at The Cantab Lounge's Wednesday night open mike poetry reading, suggested that if I were to root for a soccer team that I should root for the Liverpool F.C. (a.k.a. Liverpool Reds). Sam told me that Liverpool F.C. is to soccer what the Boston Red Sox are to baseball.

Well, lo and behold, Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner have now purchased Liverpool F.C. for nearly half a billion dollars.

What's interesting is that the New York Yankees have a business relationship with Liverpool's arch rival Manchester United. In 2001, the two teams agreed to a joint marketing deal.

Could we soon see Liverpool vs. Manchester United matches at both Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium?

One other interesting parallel between the Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. is both teams have songs that are sung at home games. Red Sox fans sing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of the eighth inning. Mr. Diamond himself was on hand to sing the song at the Sox 2010 home opener last April. Reds fans, meanwhile, sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" prior to each game. You can hear the Liverpool faithful singing the Rogers & Hammerstein classic throughout the Pink Floyd song "Fearless."

Behar: Saying Muslims Killed Us on 9/11 is "Hate Speech"

Following her row with Bill O'Reilly yesterday morning, Joy Behar spoke about the incident on her evening talk show on CNN's Headline News channel.

Behar said that O'Reilly's declaration that "Muslims killed us on 9/11" was "something I construe as hate speech." She went on to state, "To say Muslims killed us on 9/11, is like ... you could say that about any group, to lump an entire group like that."

O'Reilly, of course, did not direct his comments at every single Muslim on earth and Behar knows it. Yet her comments are indicative of a push to make statements critical of Islam a crime. Of course, I am referring to the ongoing efforts of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to pass a resolution through the UN General Assembly to make criticism of Islam a violation of international law. It is worth noting the Obama Administration is not objecting to this campaign.

We can never prevail in the clash of civilizations with Islamic fundamentalism if a critical segment of our population is not only unwilling to acknowledge that Islamic fundamentalism was responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001 but that to say so is an act of hate speech. So long as we are in that state of affairs then I'm afraid the terrorists and their apologists come closer to achieving their objective of an American caliphate.

Russia Will Help Venezuela Go Nuclear

The Russians have announced their intentions to help Hugo Chavez build a nuclear reactor.

Ah yes, just what we need. Another Cuban missile crisis.

Of course, the Russians were instrumental in helping Iran build the Bushehr nuclear facility which is now due to receive fuel next month.

Well, so much for that reset button. I'm afraid it was lost in translation.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top Massachusetts Democrat Endorses Charlie Baker

Former Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly today endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker.

Reilly was Martha Coakley's predecessor serving for two terms before throwing his hat into the 2006 Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary. However, Reilly was upset by Deval Patrick in the primary.

For his part, Reilly denies any bitterness towards Patrick noting that he later endorsed and voted for Patrick. Reilly said, "Like millions of people in this state, I wanted him to do well. It hasn't gone well."

Of course, Reilly's endorsement might not mean a great deal to most voters but it does send a signal of Democratic discontent. It also underscores the urgency of President Obama's visit to Boston on Saturday to speak in support of Patrick.

Bill O'Reilly's Unneccesary Apology

Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar briefly walked off the set of The View this morning after Bill O'Reilly, speaking out against the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque, said "Muslims killed us on 9/11."

Goldberg and Behar returned to the set after O'Reilly apologized stating, “Now let me just say in a calmer voice, it was extremists. You cannot take a whole religion and demean them.”

O'Reilly's apology was entirely unnecessary. It was an unnecessary submission to political correctness. The fact of the matter is that, whether Goldberg and Behar like it or not, Muslims killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11. They were extremists to be sure. But they were extremists acting in the name of Islam. It isn't to say that every Muslim on earth approved of what was done but we are kidding ourselves if we think a critical mass of Muslims didn't support al Qaeda's act of barbarism. Lest we forget Palestinians who danced on the streets of Ramallah in jubilation and handed out sweets to their children.

If Evangelical Christians were responisble for such mayhem, Goldberg and Behar would condemn them without a moment's hesitation.

Have we come to a point now where we cannot identify the people responsible for murdering our own people?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Braves Name Gonzalez New Manager

Less than 48 hours after Bobby Cox ended his managerial career, the Atlanta Braves have named former Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez as his successor. Gonzalez managed the Marlins from 2007 to the middle of the 2010 season.

Prior to his tenure with the Marlins, Gonzalez worked under Cox as his third base coach from 2003 to 2006. So I'm sure Gonzalez was personally recommended to Frank Wren by Cox himself.

Still, Gonzalez has some very big shoes to fill and I'm not sure he's up to the task. Gonzalez was fired mid-season by the Marlins after he lost control of the team. The biggest difference between Cox and Gonzalez is that Cox would never rip a player in public. Sure he might take a player out of a game and read him the riot act behind closed doors but he wouldn't air out dirty laundry. Cox would never have ripped Hanley Ramirez to a reporter. Now maybe Gonzalez has learned his lesson. But I have a feeling the Braves don't return to the post-season in 2011.

Thoughts on the Chilean Miners

I just saw the rescue of Chilean miner Carlos Bugueno on CNN a couple of minutes ago.

Twenty-three up. Ten to go.

How thirty-three men could survive deep underground for sixty nine days with limited food, water and medicine is a testament to the human spirit and its capacity for faith.

This is Chile's finest hour.

It also didn't hurt that Centre Rock, a small driling company from Berlin, Pennsylvania (about 75 miles southeast of Pittsburgh) using a little ingenuity, initiative and elbow grease stepped into the breach and drilled their way to the trapped miners. Tom Foy, an employee of Centre Rock, put it this way:

They said, 'Well, heck, they ain't getting out till Christmastime, and I know and Brandon knows and we all knew we could get down to them faster than that. We proved that Center Rock is a little company, but they do big things.

Somehow I think Berlin, Pennsylvania and Copiapo, Chile are going to become sister cities.

On a personal note, my maternal grandfather worked in a coal mine in Coleman, Alberta for forty three years beginning in 1930 when he was only a boy of fifteen. If something like that were to have happened when he was still mining there is no way they would have lasted ten weeks much less ten days.

One of the most famous mining disasters in Canadian history took place in Springhill, Nova Scotia in 1958. It claimed the lives of 74 miners but 100 miners survived. Twelve of those survivors were trapped underground for nearly a week despite not having food or water. One of those miners was Douglas Jewkes and all he wanted was a bottle of 7UP.

With that I think I'll have a 7UP and give a toast to the Chilean miners.

Did Canada's Support of Israel Keep it Off UN S.C.?

Yesterday, I wrote about Canada's unsuccessful bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon stated that remarks by Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff damaged Canada's chances.

Ignatieff replied that the blame lie with Canada's foreign policy under the Tory government of Stephen Harper.

Former Canadian Ambassador to the UN Paul Heinbecker appears to agree with Ignatieff. Heinbecker said that a number of factors kept Canada off the Security Council including its support of Israel. Heinbecker, who was appointed Canada's representative to the UN in 2000 by Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien, also cited decreased aid to Africa as well as the Harper government's changing positions on climate change and peacekeeping.

So perhaps Ignatieff is right to say that Canada's current foreign policy does not sit well with other UN member states. But it begs several questions of Ignatieff. Does Ignatieff mean to say that Canada should become less supportive of Israel? If Canada being supportive of Israel renders it unfit to serve on the Security Counci?l If so then why is Lebanon fit to serve on the Security Council with a government controlled by Hezbollah?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cliff Lee's Complete Game Sends Rangers to ALCS

Cliff Lee pitched a complete game victory in Game 5 of the ALDS to give the Texas Rangers their first post-season triumph.

Lee struck out eleven batters in the Rangers 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rangers lefty also threw a complete game in Game 1.

But Lee didn't do it by himself. He was helped by some daring baserunning from Elvis Andrus, Vladimir Guerrero and Bengie Molina. Yes, Bengie Molina. He stole a base. That's almost as surprising as when he hit a triple at Fenway Park in July to hit for the cycle.

This marks the first time in post-season history that the road team won every game in a playoff series.

So maybe the Rangers don't want home field advantage against the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

You can be sure that Rangers fans will be lustily booing ex-Rangers Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira come this Friday. You can also be sure Ranger fans will be lustily cheering Ron Washington's squad and wearing their antlers. It should be a fun series.

A Poem for Liu Xiaobo

It wasn't all bad at Brandeis.

Tonight, I read a new poem which I have dedicated to 2010 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo which was nicely received. The poem is titled "Guest of Honor":

How do you hold a dinner
In honor of a man
Who for lack of a better word
Has been detained
And will be unable to attend
He won't be there
For the cured reindeer fillet
And smoked duck
That will be enjoyed
By visiting dignitaries
He won't be there
For all the kind words
To be uttered by complete strangers
He won't be there
To hear calls for his immediate release
He won't be there
To be forgotten
Until next year's recipient is announced
Well, at least the proceedings
Will be an improvement over last year
When all the guest of honor
Could talk about was himself
What could have the committee been thinking?

A Bad Sign at Brandeis

This evening I went to Brandeis University to join my roommate Christopher Kain who had a poetry feature on campus.

When we entered one of the campus buildings I saw this sign:




What jumped out at me was how small Corporal Shalit's name was and how large the lettering was for the 6,011 Palestinians. It was as if Shalit was less important because he is an IDF soldier.

Let us also remember that Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas. The sign implies Israel wantonly kidnapped six thousand plus Palestinians. The linkage is specious. The fact that young Jews are perpetuating this speciousness is most troublesome.

Salazar Lifts Gulf Coast Deepwater Drilling Ban

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has lifted the moratorium on deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico effective immediately.

Salazar said he made the decision based on improved drilling and workplace safety, well containment and the spill response.

Yet it is worth noting the moratorium was to have remained in effect until November 30th.

Methinks Salazar (on the advice of President Obama) made the decision based on trying to contain Democratic losses in Louisiana on November 2nd.

Liberal Leader Costs Canada Seat on Security Council

Canada has been unsuccessful in its efforts to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council. Germany and Portugal won the seats designated for the Western bloc. Colombia, India and South Africa also won seats to the Council. Their two year terms begin on January 1, 2011.

Lawrence Cannon, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated that Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff played a role in its failure to earn a seat at the Security Council.

Ignatieff has criticized the Conservative government of Stephen Harper for ignoring the UN. Last month, Ignatieff said, "Don't mistake me. I know how important it is for Canada to get a seat on the Security Council but Canadians have to ask a tough question: Has this government earned that place? We're not convinced it has."

After hearing Cannon's criticism, Ignatieff responded that the failure to earn a seat "lies squarely and exclusively with the Harper government."

Now how significant Ignatieff's comments were in denying Canada a seat on the Security Council is, of course, debatable. It would be interesting to hear what UN member countries who voted against Canada would have to say about it but I'm inclined to think they would not comment about such matters.

Yet I can't imagine Ignatieff's comments did Canada any favors. If anything, Ignatieff cut off his own nose to spite his face. If Canada had been elected to the Security Council it would have been there until December 31, 2012. It is quite possible that Canadian voters could elect a Liberal government in the interim. In which case, Ignatieff would have come into power with a seat on the Security Council and would be in a position to appoint a permanent representative to that body.

Let's put it another way. I don't think any opposition politician in Colombia, Germany, Portugal, India or South Africa publicly objected to their country's presence on the Security Council. Ignatieff's comments are downright enigmatic.

Speaking of enigmatic, here's an article I wrote about Ignatieff in December 2008 shortly after becoming leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Giants Advance; Farewell Bobby Cox

The Atlanta Braves led 2-1 in the top of the 7th with one out and runners on first and second.

Bobby Cox came out of the dugout. It appeared he would lift Braves starter Derek Lowe. But Lowe talked Cox into letting him stay in the game. Cox made a judgment call and decided to let Lowe pitch to another batter. Lowe ended up walking Pat Burrell to load the bases.

Cox then took out Lowe in favor of Peter Moylan. Alex Gonzalez attempted to to force out Burrell at second but his throw went high allowing Aubrey Huff to score the tying run. Cox then brought in Johnny Venters. While Venters struck out pinch hitter Aaron Rowand he gave up a single to Cody Ross to score the go-ahead run.

The Giants held on to win 3-2 and will advance to play the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS.

This ends Bobby Cox's managerial career.

The Giants, to their credit, gave Cox a standing ovation at the end of the game.

With that let me says congratulations to the Giants and thank you to Bobby Cox.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wife of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Under House Arrest

Liu Xia, the wife of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, has been placed under house arrest by Chinese authorities.

Her detention took place after she was permitted to visit her husband in prison. It was during this visit that she informed him of his Nobel win.

Other Chinese dissidents have also placed under house arrest since the Nobel Committee's announcement on Friday.

Zhang Yu of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre sums it up succinctly when he states that China's response to Liu's win is "predictable and stupid."

Paladino Isn't a Pal of Gays & Lesbians

I don't understand Carl Paladino's invective against gays and lesbians.

The New York GOP gubernatorial nominee said during an appearance in Brooklyn that he didn't want children "to be brainwashed into thinking homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option." Paladino also criticized his Democratic opponent Andrew Cuomo for marching in New York's Gay Pride Parade. I wonder what Paladino thinks of Charlie Baker, the Massachusetts GOP gubernatorial candidate who marched in Boston's Gay Pride this summer.

Paladino's remarks are really callous when you consider that three gay men were brutally beaten last week by the Latin King Goonies, a New York City street gang. Eight men have charged in connection with this attack.

Even if you oppose gay marriage surely there are more civilized ways to convey your opposition. Could you imagine George W. Bush speaking in this manner?

I don't live in New York but if I did I would cast my ballot for Cuomo.

Phillies Sweep Reds on Hamels Shutout

The Philadelphia Phillies have swept the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS with a 2-0 victory.

Phillies lefty Cole Hamels threw a complete game five-hit shutout. Hamels struck out nine and walked nobody.

The Cincinnati Reds were simply overmatched. Roy Halladay no-hits them in Game 1. After leading 4-0 in Game 2 their defense undid them committing four errors. The Phillies came back to win 7-4. And then along came Hamels.

The Phillies will face the winner of the Braves-Giants NLDS matchup. The NLCS begins on Saturday. A six day layoff could work against the Phillies especially if the Braves-Giants goes five games as the fifth game will be played on Wednesday. Then again, Halladay did throw a no-hitter on eight days rest.

Whether it be the Braves or Giants, the Phillies are a heavy favorite in the NLCS.

Poor Brooks Conrad

The Braves second baseman is the most hated man in Atlanta.

Conrad, who is filling for the injured Martin Prado at second base, committed three errors in Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants. He has committed four errors in the series.

The most critical error came in the top of the ninth inning when a groundball hit by Buster Posey which should have ended the inning went right through the wickets which scored the go ahead run.

The Giants could clinch the NLDS tomorrow night. But Conrad also has a chance to redeem himself.

Solomon Burke,1940-2010. R.I.P.

Soul and gospel singer Solomon Burke died this morning of natural cause shortly after arriving in The Netherlands where he was to perform in concert later this week. He was 70.

I wasn't intimately familiar with his music but he did co-write a really fabulous song called "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" which was a hit for him in 1964. Many years later it would be covered by The Blues Brothers.

Burke sure found somebody to love. He was the father of 21 children, grandfather of 90 and great-grandfather of nineteen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yankees Sweep Twins in ALDS

So what else is new?

The New York Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 6-1 to sweep the 2010 American League Division Series.

It is the fourth time since 2003 the Yankees have defeated the Twins in the ALDS. The Yankees are an albatross the Twins cannot seem to lift from their necks.

One wonders how the Twins would have fared against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Well, Minnesota fans will have to be content with Randy Moss returning to the Vikings.

As for the Yankees, they'll either face the Rays or the Texas Rangers in the ALCS starting on Friday. Having six days off could prove to be a disadvatange to the Yankees however.

Imagine if John Lennon Was Seventy Years Old

Today, of course, would have been the 70th birthday of John Lennon.

Although I was born after the Beatles broke up I am certainly old enough to remember him when he was alive. Abbey Road was the one Beatles album I remember from my early childhood and to this day when I think of Lennon I think of him in that white suit on the zebra crossing near Abbey Road studios in St. John's Wood. (I had the thrill of crossing that street during my stint in London fifteen years ago.)

His assassination took place on my younger brother Micah's sixth birthday. I found out about it the following morning when I went down to the kitchen for breakfast. It took a moment for ime to awake from my stupor and for the magnitude of the news to sink in. When I arrived at school, I remember a girl leaning against a wall playing a Beatles song on a portable cassette player.

When I came home CBC Radio had abandoned its regular programming to play Beatles and Lennon songs.

After my Dad arrived home from work, he lit a candle in his honor. His mother had done the same when John F. Kennedy was assassinated seventeen years earlier. Such an honor is normally reserved for a Jew.

I often imagine what it would be like if John Lennon were still alive.

I imagine that he would have been a vigorous opponent of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I imagine he would have called President Bush a war criminal. But I am also imagine he would still be making great music and that is perhaps the greatest tragedy of all.

One can only imagine what the state of rock n' roll music would be like if Lennon was still around. Unfortunately, tomorrow never knows. Nevertheless, I think that music today is poorer for his absence.

Later this week, my parents will be going to New York for a couple of months. They will be staying a short distance from the Dakota on Central Park West and West 72nd. If John Lennon were still alive I can imagine my parents running into him and Yoko in Central Park. I can imagine my Dad and Lennon playing some mind games with each other.

Happy Birthday John.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Thrill of Rick Ankiel & The Agony of Billy Wagner

I have just finished watching Game 2 of the NLDS between the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants.

After being shutout in Game 1 by on 14 strikeouts by Tim Lincecum, the Braves were down 4-0 headed into the sixth. The Giants bullpen of Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson couldn't hold onto the lead.

First the agony. In the bottom of the 10th, Braves closer Billy Wagner came into the game. He had to leave the game with what appears to be either a hip or oblique injury after fielding a bunt by Andre Torres. As Wagner has announced his retirement at the end of the season this might have prove to be his last major league appearance. A rather painful way to end a career.

(In which case, I think Craig Kimbrell takes over as the Braves closer. Kimbrell has retired all seven hitters he faced in the NLDS, striking out five of them.)

So now comes the thrill. In the top of the 11th, Braves outfielder Rick Ankiel crushed a long homerun into McCovey Cove. It proved to be the game winner and the Braves have tied the NLDS at one apiece.

This had to be a satisfying moment for Ankiel. Ten years ago, Ankiel was pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS against (who else?) the Braves. Ankiel's pitching career imploded as he suddenly lost the ability to throw a strike. He threw wild pitch after wild pitch. It was painful to watch.

But Ankiel could always hit. In 2005, Ankiel made the decision to switch from pitching to the outfield. He went to the minors, reinvented himself and eventually returned to the Cardinals as an outfielder in 2007. After a career year in 2008 with 25 homeruns, Ankiel struggled in 2009. He would sign with the Kansas City Royals in the offseason. The Braves acquired Ankiel at the trade deadline. He hit only .210 with the Braves in the last two months of the regular season. Needless to say, with that homerun, Braves fans have now forgotten that .210 average. I also think the pain of the 2000 NLDS has been replaced with the triumph of the 2010 NLDS.

UPDATE: Wagner has been replaced on the Braves by Takashi Saito. Braves manager Bobby Cox says Wagner could return by the World Series. But first the Braves have to get past the Giants.

Liu Xiaobo Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Let me begin by congratulating Nobel Committee for selecting someone far more deserving than the individual they chose to award one year ago.

Unlike President Obama, Liu Xiaobo has actually stood for freedom in the unblinking eye of totalitarianism and is paying a steep price for it.

Last Christmas, Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for subversion.

At least Obama is taking advantage of this moment by calling upon Beijing to release him. However, I think he remained silent for far too long.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Obama: GOP Congress Means "Hand-to-Hand Combat"

Earlier this week, Vice-President Biden talks about strangling Republicans.

Today, President Obama states that if the Republicans win Congress it would "hand-to-hand combat here on Capitol Hill."

Now I know that Joe Biden wouldn't strangle a Republican any more than President Obama would punch out John Boehner. But I also know that if a Republican politician spoke about strangling to Democrats or that a Democratic Congress would result in hand-to-hand combat liberal commentators would accuse Republican politicians of fomenting extremism and inciting violence. They would bemoan the lack of civility and call upon the GOP to temper its language.

Will CNN Re-Hire Rick Sanchez?

Now that Rick Sanchez has officially apologized to Jon Stewart I wonder if this means CNN will offer him his job back.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Lord of The American Spectator has some interesting observations about Sanchez's double standard when it comes to making amends with Jon Stewart and Rush Limbaugh.

UPDATE: Sanchez has now made it known that he wants his job back. I have a feeling he will be brought back after the mid-term elections.

Thoughts on Vargas Llosa's "Surprise" Nobel Win

When I saw Mario Vargas Llosa's name on Google's news page this morning I honestly thought that he had died.

I was relieved to find out that the Peruvian born writer had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
This was a pleasant surprise.

As it turns out, Vargas Llosa was also surprised by the honor. In fact, when he received the phone call this morning he thought it was a joke.

Although Vargas Llosa has been important force in Spanish and English literature for nearly half a century he may be best remembered by some for his failed bid for the Peruvian presidency in 1990 running on a platform inspired by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

That election was, of course, won by Japanese economist Alberto Fujimori. I have often wondered what Peru would have been like had Vargas Llosa won.

Vargas Llosa had long thought he was "too liberal" to win the Nobel. Keep in mind that in Europe and Latin America the term liberal refers to classical liberalism and support for the free market. Last year, Vargas Llosa stated, "I have taken all the precautions necessary for them never to give it to me."

The fact the Nobel Committee awarded Vargas Llosa the Literature makes me curious as to whom they will award the Peace Prize tomorrow morning. One can only hope their choice will be an improvement over last year.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Halladay No-Hits Reds in Game 1 of NLDS


Philaelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park in Philly. The Phillies won 4-0 and take a 1-0 in the best three of five series.

Halladay becomes the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the post-season since Don Larsen threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series.

Back in May, Halladay threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins. If not for a fifth inning walk to Jay Bruce he was nearly perfect again today. He becomes the first pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a season since Nolan Ryan did it with the California Angels in 1973.

Will Halladay soon join the ranks of Johnny Vander Meer?

Did I mention that Halladay had an RBI single and scored a run?

All in all not bad for his first post-season appearance.

I wish I had watched the game in its entirety. I was at work and when I left I checked the score and saw that he had a no-no through six.

Shortly after arriving at the Cantab in Cambridge, I went upstairs to see if Halladay still had it going. I managed to see the final two outs. There was a small crowd gathered but were appreciative with their applause.

Of course, I called my Dad.

Later, I gave Halladay a shout out before reading my poem.

All in all, not a bad day's work for his post-season appearance.

I can only hope the best is still yet to come. Although it would pretty hard to top what Roy Halladay did today.

Moss Returns to Minnesota

The New England Patriots traded wide receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings for a third round draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Moss publicly expressed his discontent entering the final year of his contract last month.

Of course, Moss began his NFL career with the Vikings who drafted him in 1998. Moss playing with the Vikings through 2004. While in Minnesota, Moss was often questioned for his lack of hustle and was involved in a number of brushes with the law.

After two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Moss was traded to the Patriots in 2007. He was part of a Patriots team that went 16-0 in the regular season. He caught what would have been a game winning touchdown with less than three minutes left in Super Bowl XLII. But fate would intervene on behalf of the New York Giants.

Until he sounded off last month, Moss largely kept out of trouble during his time with the Pats.

What is intriguing is that twenty-four hours earlier Senator Russ Feingold got into trouble with the NFL for using old footage of Moss in a Vikings uniform pretending to moon Green Bay Packers fan at Lambeau Field in a political ad. Feingold is, of course, the junior Senator from Wisconsin and is in a tough re-election fight against Republican Ron Johnson.

Well, I guess Moss will gather once again in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

My 2010 MLB Postseason Predictions

I see that John Quayle has written his 2010 post-season predictions on the IC main site.

A Rangers-Giants World Series would be fun. I would love to see Tim Lincecum pitch to Josh Hamilton. It's also an interesting match up because when the Giants brought up Buster Posey at the end of June they traded Bengie Molina to the Rangers. Alas, I don't think the Giants will end their five decade plus World Series drought.

AL Predictions


New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins - Yankees in three.

Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays - Rays in four.


New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays - Yankees in seven.

ALCS MVP - Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

NL Predictions


Cincinnati Reds vs. Philadelphia Phillies - Phillies in four.

Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Giants - Braves in five.

Please note these were my predictions back in March as I correctly predicted all four NL playoff spots.


Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies - Phillies in six.

NLCS MVP - Jayson Werth, Philadelphia Phillies

World Series

So yes there will be a Yankees-Phillies rematch. It would mark the first time two teams have faced each other in consecutive World Series since the Yankees and Dodgers did so in 1977 and 1978.

New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies - Phillies in seven.

World Series MVP - Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies.

Let the fun begin.

Thoughts on Joe Biden's Stranglehold

I am sure most of you know by now that Vice-President Joe Biden said he wanted to "strangle" Republicans who called for a balanced budget.

Biden, of course, was quick to say it was meant in jest.

But imagine if Sarah Palin said she wanted to strangle Democrats. The liberal media would have accused Palin of fomenting violence amongst angry Tea Party activists.

In case anyone thinks I exxagerate remember when Palin put out her "target map" of Democrats who voted for Obamacare last March? Liberals and left-wingers were quick to accuse Palin of inciting violence.

Jed Lewison of The Daily Kos wrote:

Of all the images to convey about her movement, it is revealing that Sarah Palin chose one associated with violence. Palin's rhetoric comes amidst a surge in right-wing extremism, a time during which she should be urging cooler heads to prevail instead of fueling the most radical elements of her base.

Somehow I don't think Jed Lewison will chide Vice-President for using an image of violence against Republicans nor do I think he will call upon Biden to urge cooler heads to prevail rather than fueling the most radical elements of his base.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Trump 2012?

I'm not sure this is such a great idea.

On the other hand, if having Trump on the ballot means the American people telling President Obama, "You're fired," then I could warm up to it.

Obama Hurts Cao's Feelings

Republican Joseph Cao had his feelings "hurt" by President Obama when he endorsed Cedric Redmond, his Democratic opponent in Louisiana's Second Congressional District.

Cao has been one of the few Republicans who have supported Obama's legislative initiatives. He voted in favor of Obamacare last November although he did vote against the final version this past spring.

Cao indicated that Obama might not be aware of Redmond's history of ethical problems such as the suspension of his law licence.

Joe, let me break it to you gently. Obama would have endorsed Charles Manson if he were running in your district as a Democrat.

The Vietnamese born Cao, of course, became the first Republican elected in Louisiana's Second Congressional District in over a century after defeating William Jefferson, who at the time was under indictment for bribery and other corruption charges. Jefferson was later convicted and sentenced to 13 years in federal prison.

Cao, however, is one of the few Republicans who is vulnerable this fall. Frankly, Cao is vulnerable because he made the mistake of attaching himself to Obama. I think this will be one of the few Democratic gains in November.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pirates Make Russell Walk the Plank

After the Pittsburgh Pirates had their worst record since 1952, the team fired manager John Russell.

Russell had been Bucs manager since 2008. As each season progressed the Pirates played progressively worse. The Bucs went 67-95 in '08, 63-99 in '09 and 57-105 this season. The Pirates finished in last place in the NL Central all three seasons in which Russell managed.

John Perrotto, editor-in-chief of, writing in the Beaver County Times thought Russell's demeanor to be dull. "What the Pirates need in their next manager is someone who is personable, a motivator and a little bit of a showman. In short, someone with pride and passion," writes Perrotto.

The question here is who would want to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates?

After all, the Pirates have had the likes of Jim Leyland and Jim Tracy manage them.

Leyland took the Bucs to three consecutive NL East titles between 1990 and 1992. After Barry Bonds and company left following the '92 season, Leyland posted four consecutive losing seasons. Did Leyland lose his pride and passion? In 1997, Leyland became manager of the Florida Marlins and took them to a World Series title. Nearly a decade later, Leyland took a moribund Detroit Tigers team to an AL championship.

In Jim Tracy's two seasons with the Pirates his teams lost 95 and 94 games. Tracy took the Los Angeles Dodgers to an NL West title in 2004 and last year took the Colorado Rockies to the NL Wild Card. Did Tracy have pride and passion in L.A. but lose it in Pittsburgh only to regain it in Denver?

The Pirates simply are lacking in talent, especially pitching talent.

If the Pirates were to hire Tony La Russa he too would finish last in the NL Central.

Mets Fire Manuel & Minaya

The New York Mets have fired both manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya.

Manuel had been the manager since the middle of the 2008 season when he replaced Willie Randolph. Although the Mets did respectably under Manuel in '08 they went 70-92 and 79-83 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Minaya had been the GM since September 2004.

The Mets have fallen on rough times since September 2007 when with only 17 games left to play they blew a seven game lead in the NL East. The Philadelphia Phillies won the division that year and have won it every year since.

The Wilpon family has indicated they are going to look outside the Mets organization for a new general manager. The Mets are said to be interested in former Arizona Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes, Chicago White Sox Assistant GM Rick Hahn and former Oakland Athletics GM Sandy Alderson.

I wonder if they are considering Los Angeles Dodgers Assistant GM Kim Ng. She has been the Dodgers number two since 2001 and was previously Brian Cashman's number two with the New York Yankees from 1997 to 2000. She has certainly paid her dues.

Of course, who will be the Mets new manager all depends on who they hire as their new GM. So right now that's anyone's guess.

Ben Mondor, 1925-2010. R.I.P.

Pawtucket Red Sox owner Ben Mondor died last night. He was 85. His cause of death is unknown as of this writing.

The Canadian born Mondor rescued the Red Sox Triple-AAA affiliate from bankruptcy when he bought the team in 1977. Instead of moving the team, Mondor refurbished McCoy Stadium while keeping ticket prices low. In 2010, the most expensive ticket to see a PawSox game cost $11. For good measure, most of the parking is free. When I say Mondor turned around the Pawtucket Red Sox I mean he really turned it around. If there was a beloved baseball owner, Mondor was surely it.

I had the opportunity to visit McCoy Stadium twice (once in 2001 and once in 2005.) It's a very family friendly place for such a large minor league stadium (the seating capacity is over 10,000.)
McCoy Stadium is perhaps best known for being the site of the longest game in organized baseball when in 1981 a 33-inning game between the Paw Sox and the Rochester Red Wings (then the Baltimore Orioles Triple-AAA affiliate.) Future Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken, Jr. played in that game.

If nothing else, it's a great way to spend a weekday evening or a weekend afternoon to see future generations of Red Sox players. When I made my last visit to Pawtucket, the PawSox had a diminutive second baseman named Dustin Pedroia. He sure turned out to be the real McCoy.

Methinks I will take a trip down to Rhode Island next summer to take in a PawSox game to pay homage. Whoever succeeds Mondor has some awfully big shoes to fill.

Maury Allen, 1932-2010. R.I.P.

Maury Allen, legendary baseball writer for the New York Post died yesterday from lymphoma. He was 78.

Allen wrote many books about baseball but the one I remember above all else was one he wrote in 1982 called Baseball's 100 in which he ranked the top 100 major league baseball players of all time.

I still remember the book because Allen ranked Willie Mays number one, Hank Aaron at number two and relegated Babe Ruth to number three. Needless to say, Allen faced a torrent of disagreement. But I think that is exactly what he wanted and I've long admired him for it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Brewers Fire Macha

Ken Macha told reporters following the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds that he would not be back as the Brewers manager next season.

After winning the NL Wild Card in 2008 under Ned Yost and Dale Sveum, the Brewers have been a disappointment the past two seasons under Macha. The Brewers went 80-82 in 2009 and 77-85 in 2010.

Macha was not popular with his players or the fans.

But the Brewers biggest problem over the past two seasons has been their pitching. Only so much of that can be laid at Macha's door. Let us also not forget that the Brewers have not had C.C. Sabathia in their rotation as they did for the stretch run in 2008.

Apparently, the 60-year-old Macha had trouble relating to his younger players. If the Brewers are looking for a younger manager then perhaps former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge could fit the bill as he is nearly twenty years younger than Macha. The Brewers might want to act fast as Wedge has interviewed with the Chicago Cubs.

Macha previously managed with the Oakland Athletics from 2003 to 2006 winning the AL West title in '03 and '06.

A Few More MLB Season End Observations

Here are a few comments about the 2010 MLB regular season which ended this afternoon.

1. Bucking Up in Baltimore

The Orioles went 34-22 under Buck Showalter. Prior to Showalter's arrival on August 3rd, the Orioles were 32-74 under Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel.

We will hear more from the O's in 2011.

2. Cubs Must Keep Quade

Mike Quade is exactly what the doctor ordered. When Lou Piniella stepped down as Chicago Cubs manager on August 22nd, Quade stepped in and the Cubs went 24-12 the rest of the way. Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano all regained their old form.

Yet I worry the Cubs won't bring back Quade. Indeed, the Cubs have interviewed former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge, Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg (who is currently managing the Triple-AAA Iowa Cubs) and most recently former Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin. As of this writing, Cubs GM Jim Hendry hasn't invited Quade for an interview.

The Cubs have their guy. They don't need to interview anyone else. They will be making a big mistake if the don't bring Quade back in 2011.

3. Pity the Poor Pittsburgh Pirates

I did not predict a last place finish for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010. In fact, I picked them to finish fourth and to possibly have their first winning record since 1992.

Instead, the worst was yet to come. The Pirates finish the 2010 season with a 57-105 record. It's their worst showing since 1952. Bucs players were seldom in a position to win one for the road. They finished 17-64 away from PNC Park in 2010 matching the 1963 New York Mets for the worst road record in the MLB history. It is expected that manager John Russell will not be back for the 2011 season.

I would say the Pirates have nowhere to go but up. However, in this case I hold my tongue.

4. Bruce Chen Throws His First Shutout

Kansas City Royals southpaw Bruce Chen's season ended on a high note when he pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.

It was Chen's first major league shutout and he did it in his 144th big league start. Chen started his first big league game with the Atlanta Braves in 1998. To say that Chen has bounced around would be an understatement. He has gone on to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers before arriving in Kansas City in 2009.

Chen didn't exactly shine with the Royals last season going 1-6 with a 5.78 ERA in 17 appearances. This year Chen went 12-7 with a 4.17 ERA. His 12 wins led the team in victories. Who would have imagined that Chen would win more games in 2010 than 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke?

The question is whether Chen can replicate his success in 2011. His career appeared to have turned a corner after he won 13 games with the Orioles in 2005. In 2006, Chen fell to 0-7 with a 6.93 ERA. So at 33, Chen still has to prove he can perform consistently in the big leagues.
But he could become our generation's Mike Morgan.

5. Toronto's Tower of Power

Whatever the shortcomings of the Toronto Blue Jays they weren't with the bats.

In 2010, the Blue Jays slugged 257 home runs. Jose Bautista led the club (and all of MLB) with 54 home runs. In addition to Bautista, the Jays had six other players with at least 20 home runs (Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, John Buck, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Aaron Hill.) They would have had eight players with 20+ plus homeruns if they hadn't traded Alex Gonzalez to the Braves in mid-season.

6. The Rockies Hit Rock Bottom

The Colorado Rockies earned a reputation of winning big at the end of the season. That appeared to be their destiny again in 2010 after winning ten games in a row in early September to get back into the NL West and Wild Card picture. But the Rockies skidded until they hit rock bottom.

From September 13th, the Rockies went 4-15. They lost thirteen of their last fourteen games including eight in a row. They would finish with a record of 83-79, nine games back of the San Francisco Giants.

7. Whither Tim Wakefield & Jason Varitek

While Red Sox Nation bid farewell to Mike Lowell, he might not be the only Red Sox player to have played their last game in a Sox uniform.

Pitcher Tim Wakefield and catcher Jason Varitek have been with the Red Sox since 1995 and 1997, respectively but may be playing elsewhere in 2011.

The 44-year-old knuckleballer struggled this season going 4-10 with a 5.34 ERA splitting the season both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. Wakefield needs seven more victories to hit the 200 mark and fourteen more victories to become the Red Sox all-time leader in victories. But Wakefield has a bad back and it's unclear whether he is in Theo Epstein's plans for 2011. Then again you can never have too much pitching.

Ditto for Varitek. The 38-year-old catcher missed much of the season with a broken foot. Even if the Sox fail to re-sign Victor Martinez it isn't a sure bet Varitek will be brought back even in a back up capacity. Varitek has played his entire big league career in Boston and has been the team's captain since 2005.

The Red Sox will look very different without Wakefield and Varitek. Whether that different will be better very much remains to be seen.

8. The Wright Stuff

The New York Mets had another lousy season. But not every Met was lousy.

Now, third baseman David Wright did not have a lousy season in 2009 as his .307 batting average would indicate. But his power numbers fell off significantly finishing the '09 season with 10 home runs and 72 RBI. Wright had career highs in home runs and RBI in 2008 with 33 and 124. In 2010, Wright would regain his power numbers. While his average fell to .284 he hit 29 home runs and drove in 103 runs.

9. Will Kim Ng Be the Mets Next General Manager?

Despite David Wright's good numbers, the Mets will surely fire both manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya.

Will Kim Ng finally get a chance to become a general manager?

She's been an assistant GM since 1997. She was Brian Cashman's right hand with the New York Yankees from 1997 to 2000. Since 2001, Ng has been the assistant GM with the Los Angeles Dodgers serving three different GMs. Has there been anybody in baseball who has been an assistant GM longer than Ng?

Of course, if the Mets were to hire Ng as their general manager she would become the first woman and Asian-American to become a general manager not only in MLB but in all of professional sports. But aside from that she has paid her dues. Let's see what she can do.

Giants Win NL West; Braves Win Wild Card; Padres Go Home

The San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 3-0 to win their first NL West division title since 2003.

Jonathan Sanchez, Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson combined on a four hit shutout.

The Giants scored two runs in the bottom of the third inning on a single by Freddy Sanchez and a double by Aubrey Huff. As soon as the Giants scored their runs I knew they would win. The Padres just don't comeback from behind. Rookie catcher Buster Posey sealed it with a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth.

By virtue of the Giants win, the Atlanta Braves clinched the NL Wild Card having defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7 earlier in the day. The Braves return to the post-season for the first time since 2005. This means Bobby Cox has some more games to manage.

This means a bitter winter for the San Diego Padres. On August 26th, the Padres had the best record in the NL and a six and a half game lead in the NL West. They then lost ten games in a row and 14-23 for the rest of the season. The Padres could pitch and catch the ball but they couldn't hit it. Once their pitching went into a skid all bets were off.

I'm sure that back in spring training, the Padres would have been happy with a second place finish in the NL West. Now not so much.

But I'm happy. Prior to the beginning of the season I picked the Phillies to win the NL East, the Reds to win the NL Central, the Giants to win the NL West and the Braves to win the NL Wild Card.

I went 4-for-4. This I must brag about.

Rays Clinch AL East; Yankees Win Wild Card

The Tampa Bay Rays clinched the AL East upon the New York Yankees losing to the Boston Red Sox 8-4 at Fenway Park this afternoon.

It took 12 innings but the Rays beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2. It is the Rays second AL East title in three years.

Meanwhile, despite losing two out of three to the Red Sox, the Yankees earned the AL Wild Card spot.

Thus the Rays will face the Texas Rangers in the ALDS while the Yankees will face the Twins in the ALDS for a second straight year.

I'll have some more detailed predictions on Wednesday but it's hard to imagine a scenario other than the Yankees and Rays facing off in the ALCS.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

NY Governor Paterson Praises Tea Party

New York Governor David Paterson today praised the Tea Party.

No joke.

Paterson stated that a majority of Tea Party members do not harbor extremist views and believe they make an important contribution to democracy.

While I don't think Paterson would have made such a remark if he was running for office this fall the fact he made a point of saying something positive about the Tea Party when he did not have to is worthy of acknowledgement.

Mike Lowell Calls It a Career

Prior to playing his final big league game, the Boston Red Sox honored Mike Lowell in a pre-game ceremony with a third base bag, his father throwing him the ceremonial first pitch and a $100,000 donation to the Mike Lowell Foundation. His foundation assists low income families in Boston and Miami dealing with cancer (Lowell had testicular cancer early in his playing career) as well as supporting youth baseball programs.

During the game, Lowell went 2 for 2 with a walk and 2 RBI before being removed in the fifth inning for a pinch runner to a lengthy standing ovation. Unfortunately, the Sox lost 6-5 to the New York Yankees in extra innings.

Lowell ends his 13-year big league career with a .278 lifetime batting average, 223 home runs and 952 RBI. He was selected to the All-Star Team four times, won a Gold Glove with the Florida Marlins in 2005 and two World Series rings - one with the Marlins in 2003 and one with the Red Sox in 2007. Lowell won the World Series MVP in '07 when he went 6 for 15 with a home run and 4 RBI. As Ronald Reagan would say, "Not bad. Not bad at all."

Lowell was born and raised in Puerto Rico but is of Cuban heritage. Both of his parents escaped the island in the early days of the revolution but other members of his family weren't so lucky. Shortly after Lowell was acquired by the Red Sox in 2006, Lowell told a reporter he hoped Fidel Castro would die. Lowell is a man of few words but when he speaks, people listen.