Saturday, May 31, 2008

Celtics to Face Lakers in NBA Final

For the first time in 21 years, the Boston Celtics have reached the NBA Final. The Celtics defeated the Detroit Piston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, 89-81, to earn this berth. They will be facing an old nemeis - the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Celtics had an enormous turnaround from last year. In 2006-2007, they were 24-58. In the off season, they acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to give some much needed help to Paul Pierce. The Big Three along with the emergence of Rajon Rondo got the Celtics off to a 27-3 start and never looked back. They finished the 2007-2008 season 66-16, the best record in the NBA.

The excitement about the Celtics has been restrained. Of course, this city has seen the Patriots win the Super Bowl thrice and the Red Sox win the World Series twice this decade. We have become accustomed to it. It is also worth noting the Patriots loss in this year's Super Bowl as well as the lingering impact of the Spy Gate scandal has also tempered enthusiasm for the Celtics run.

Then there are the Celtics themselves. They came within a heartbeat of being eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs as they could not win away from the Garden. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers also took them to 7 games as they continued to struggle on the road. But they did clinch last night on the road so perhaps a corner has been turned.

The Lakers have also undergone a resurgence. Kobe Bryant found the magic again and was named the NBA's MVP. But perhaps the key turning point in the Lakers season was the acquisition of Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies back in February. The Lakers are largely a young team which I why I think the key to their success maybe Derek Fisher (who was with Kobe when the Lakers won three consecutive NBA Titles earlier this decade). Then, of course, you have head coach Phil Jackson who was won 9 NBA Titles, which ties him with Celtics legend Red Auerbach.

Doc Rivers has never won an NBA Title as a head coach but the Celtics have won 16 - the most in NBA history. I think that's another reason why the fans in Boston have been relatively quiet about the Celtics. Their history. The Celtics, despite recent lean years, are expected to win championships. Garnett, Pierce and Allen are great but in order to be placed alongside Bird, McHale and Ainge there has to be a championship banner placed on the roof of the Garden. The Celtics-Lakers Final promises to be the best in years. Celtics in 7.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Harvey Korman, 1927-2008. R.I.P.

I have just read of the passing of comedian Harvey Korman. He died today at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications from a rupture caused by an abdominal aortic aneurysm that he suffered 4 months ago. He was 81. Korman is best remembered as a cast member on The Carol Burnett Show. But Korman's finest hour came in 1974 when he played the villianous Hedley Lamarr in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles. I saw Blazing Saddles on TV earlier this year for probably the twentieth time. I never tire of it and Korman was a big reason for it. Sadly, nearly all of the principle actors in that film are no longer with us - Cleavon Little, Madelaine Kahn and now Korman. Of course, Richard Pryor co-wrote Blazing Saddles and has too passed. Brooks and Gene Wilder are still alive but aren't getting any younger. At least the medium of film does have the positive consequence of having history permanently recorded and every so often some of that history is priceless.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Attn: Phoenix area conservatives - new group Coalition for a Conservative Majority meeting

Tom DeLay and Ken Blackwell's new group meets in Scottsdale Monday night, June 16 at 7pm - click here for details.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Resigns

The big political story in Canada the past couple of days has been the resignation of Maxime Bernier as Foreign Affairs Minister in Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Bernier had left classified documents relating to last month's NATO Summit in Romania in residence of his former girlfriend, Julie Couillard. Bernier was only named Foreign Minister last August. When Bernier was sworn in he was accompanied by Couillard who wore what many considered a provocative dress. In my view, it was provocative to the wives of cabinet ministers who eyes lighted up at the sight of Couillard. However, it was recently revealed Couillard was once married to a member of a Quebec biker gang and had dated another biker gang figure which has added fire to this story. But despite her personal association, Couillard was never charged with any criminal activity and has not been associated with these figures for years.

Prime Minister Harper has rightly said that Bernier's actions are at issue, not Couillard's. Aside from this breach, Bernier had recently publicly called for the sacking of a provincial governor in Afghanistan thus intervening in their internal affairs. Bernier had also promised aid to Myanmar on a plane that was not available for use. Add this gaffe and clearly Bernier had become a liability to Harper & the Tories. But since there is a beautiful woman with a past the focus will be unfairly directed to her and this story will be dragged far longer than it needs to be.

International Trade Minister David Emerson has been named Foreign Affairs Minister on an interim basis.

Clint Bolick named one of the nation's top lawyers

Goldwater Institute Litigation Director Named One of Nation's Top Lawyers

Legal Times Calls Clint Bolick a "Champion" of Law and Liberty

The newspaper Legal Times has named Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, a "champion" who should be honored for upholding the legal profession's core values and "fighting to expand liberties and protect civil rights." The list of Champions was compiled for the edition "The 90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years" marking Legal Times' 30th anniversary.

Mr. Bolick was selected based on his work to create the legal precedents that support school choice programs. This decade-long battle culminated in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002, which Mr. Bolick won. Mr. Bolick has also been active in efforts to increase judicial scrutiny of racial preferences and restore judicial recognition of economic liberty as a civil right, an area which has resulted in several landmark rulings overturning regulatory barriers to enterprise.

"We are proud to have Clint's extraordinary legal acumen recognized by the prestigious Legal Times," said Darcy Olsen, president and CEO of the Institute. "We believe in championing liberty, and when necessary, using the courts to protect constitutional government. The government is Goliath, and Clint is our David, armed not with stones, but with the power of the law."

In addition to Mr. Bolick, the Legal Times list includes U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and activist lawyer Ralph Nader.

Before joining the Goldwater Institute in 2007, Mr. Bolick was co-founder and vice president of the Institute for Justice and president and general counsel of the Alliance for School Choice. He is the author of several books, including Voucher Wars: Waging the Legal Battle Over School Choice and Leviathan: The Growth of Local Government & the Erosion of Liberty. His most recent book, David's Hammer: The Case for an Activist Judiciary, was released in 2007 by the Cato Institute and received the Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty.

In addition to his role at the Goldwater Institute, Mr. Bolick is of counsel to the Rose Law Group in Scottsdale, Arizona and serves as a research fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. This most recent award by the Legal Times is one of many recognitions of Mr. Bolick's work. In 2003 he was named one of three "Lawyers of the Year" by American Lawyer. In 2006 he was the recipient of the Bradley Prize for Excellence for "strengthening American democratic capitalism."

Sydney Pollack, 1934-2008. R.I.P.

Director, producer and sometime actor Sydney Pollack died yesterday in Los Angeles of cancer. He was 73. Pollack directed six films with Robert Redford and won an Academy Award for Best Director for Out of Africa which went on to win Best Picture at the 1986 Oscars. More recently he appeared in the George Clooney film Michael Clayton, which he co-produced. In his last film, he played opposite Patrick Dempsey in Made of Honor. But the film for which I remember him best is Tootsie starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Terri Garr and Bill Murray. Pollack plays Hoffman's agent and has some of the best scenes in a very, very funny film. I particularly love the scene where Hoffman and Pollack are arguing over playing a tomato in a commercial. Here's the link from YouTube. Enjoy!

Myanmar Military Junta Extends Suu Kyi's House Arrest

To the surprise of no one, the military junta in Myanmar extended the house arrest of its legitimately elected President Aung San Suu Kyi by one year. Since winning democratic elections in 1990, Suu Kyi has spent most of this time as a political prisoner. President Bush condemned the extension but this will not deter U.S. efforts to provide aid to the cyclone stricken nation. The military junta is doing a good job of deterring U.S. efforts by refusing the aid. To give one an idea of how indifferent the junta is towards its own people, it still held a referendum on its so-called new constitution despite many parts of the country being in no condition to have a vote much less fresh drinking water and a roof over their heads.

Nice website redesign at the Washington Times

Be sure to check it out - the black background looks great, stands out from the rest of the crowd of newspapers, as it should, as the best conservative newspaper in the country (well, the Wall Street Journal rivals it, and their website is also pretty impressive these days).

Carter Claims Israel Has 150 Nuclear Weapons; Says Israel is "Starving" Palestinians

While attending the Hays Literary Festival in Wales, Jimmy Carter claimed Israel has 150 nuclear weapons. Carter was answering a question concerning a nuclear Iran. Carter replied by stating that the United States and Russia (which he referred to as the Soviet Union) have 12,000 nuclear weapons, Britain and France have several hundred and Israel 150. Of course, Israel has never confirmed or denied having nuclear weapons and is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Carter said, "We have a phalanx of enormous capabilities, not only of weaponry but also of rockets to deliver every one of those missiles on a pinpoint accuracy target."

Yet Carter fails to mention the other countries in question haven't declared their intent to wipe out other countries off the map hence the concern about Iran vis a vis Israel. But Carter doesn't care a wit about Israel. Carter also said, "One of the greatest human rights crimes on earth is the starvation and imprisonment of 1.6 million Palestinians." 1.6 million Palestinians are being "starved" and "imprisoned"? Evidence please. But don't expect any. Carter is nothing more than a tool for Iran.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tsvangirai Returns to Zimbabwe Without Incident

I was glad to read that Morgan Tsvangirai returned to Zimbabwe today from South Africa without incident.  He had been scheduled to return a week ago but received credible threats of a plot to assassinate him.  Tsvangirai, of course, has survived three attempts on his life in the past decade.  Of course, just because he returned safely doesn't mean Mugabe and those keeping him in power might not go after him later.  Especially if he should win the vote on June 27th despite their efforts to injure and kill MDC supporters.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Myanmar Refuses U.S. Military Aid

The military junta in Myanmar is refusing aid from 4 U.S Navy vessels (U.S.S. Essex, U.S.S. Juneau, U.S.S. Harper's Ferry & U.S.S. Mustin).  The vessels consist of 1000 Marines, 14 helicopters & 15,000 water containers.  The vessels were en route to the region when the cyclone struck earlier this month and are still on standby.  I don't want to hear anyone complain about America's stinginess when coming to those in need especially when you have a government who would sooner let their people die than receive help.  

Myanmar Allows in Relief Workers; It's About Bloody Time

The military junta in Myanmar has finally agreed to allow in relief workers into the cyclone ravaged country regardless of their nationality. It's about bloody time. Of course, they didn't say when they would be allowed in. It's not like they are in any hurry. I mean what's 134,000 deaths to them? I'm no fan of the UN but I must give Secretary General Ban ki-Moon kudos for keeping up the pressure on the military regime. Still, it's nearly three weeks late and billions of dollars short.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New York Stories #2: Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr.

Those familiar with my tastes will know I love 1960's music.   Anyone who was a regular viewer of PBS pledge drives would have probably seen ex-Fifth Dimension members Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr singing the late Laura Nyro's classic "Wedding Bell Blues" earlier this year.  The quality of their work is as good now as in their hey day nearly four decades ago.   Suffice it to say, when I saw that McCoo and Davis would be playing at the legendary Carlyle Hotel on New York's Upper East Side I had to go and take anyone else with me who was willing to come along.  I would be accompanied by my father.  Those familiar with the New York jazz scene will know the Carlyle was the home of the legendary Bobby Short.  It is a magnificent place where one can easily be lost.  More on that in a moment.  But I would have gone to see them if they were playing in a bar with chicken wire on stage.   

McCoo and Davis have been married nearly 39 years.  But as my father observed you could see their love and affection for each other has only grown since exchanging vows.  Good natured ribbing was accompanied by loving glances.   Their show was a potpourri of Fifth Dimension hits, blues standards, torch song jazz with the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life" thrown in for good measure.  The highlights of the show were Davis' rendition of "Try A Little Tenderness" which appears on their new CD titled the "Many Faces of Love".  It was originally sung by Bing Crosby but made famous by Otis Redding (as well as Three Dog Night).  Davis sung it like Otis would have if he had lived to tell about it.  The other highlight was McCoo's singing of the Fifth Dimension hit "One Less Bell to Answer".   McCoo belted out the song in a way that one must remind oneself that she is 65 years old.  BTW, she is one beautiful woman.    After the show, the drummer in the band said he was old enough to remember having a crush on her.  I replied that I was still old enough to have a crush on her.  Aside from being blessed with good looks, she carries herself with a poise, grace and warmth that few could resist.  Billy Davis, Jr is one very lucky man.

Oh yes, the Carlyle is easy to get lost in with its entry ways and doors at almost every turn.  I got lost on the way to the washroom.  This also happened with my Dad.   However, unlike me, he found his way back through someone kind enough to let him through a secret door.  And wouldn't you know.   There was Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.  Dad spoke with them for a couple of minutes and told them he had come at my request.  When Marilyn told him to enjoy the show he asked how he could possibly not enjoy the show.  Alas, I didn't get to commiserate with them.  Although when they exited the stage for the first time I stood up and Marilyn acknowledged me.  Well, perhaps they'll come to Boston and play at Scullers. 

McCoo & Davis don't strike me as overtly political people although they are both devout Christians and have been associated with some conservative causes over the years.   Davis did make a point of supporting our troops overseas as he mentioned he was once a soldier stationed in West Germany many years ago.  The way I look at it is if I happen to share their political views then great.  If not, well I can still enjoy their music.  Needless to say, this evening at the Carlyle only makes me appreciate McCoo and Davis that much more for their ongoing contribution to music and the arts.   That my father and I could experience this contribution sitting all but 10 feet away from them is a precious memory and one that makes me happy to be alive.

Israel & Syria Talking Through Turkey

Israel & Syria have confirmed they are talking to each other through Turkey.  The New York Times is making a big thing of it because of Bush's speech to the Knesset concerning direct talks between democracies and nations that sponsor terror.  They argue that Israel and Syria are doing what Obama advocates.  Nonsense.  It's one thing for hostile nations to exchange notes through a third country; it is quite another to enter into direct negotiations.  The Times is presenting this as a startling revelation.  Yet it has been widely acknowledged that this has going on for about 18 months or so and I have written about this on this blog.  With Olmert unpopular and under police investigation, an agreement with Syria might be the one card he has left to play.  However, I believe it is bad hand.

Terrorism Rewarded;Hezbollah Triumphant

An agreement has been reached between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah in Doha which effectively gives Hezbollah a veto.  They have been given 11 of 30 cabinet ministers.  Government decisions can only be made with the approval with two thirds of the cabinet.  Sure, Michael Suleiman will become President but Hezbollah will exercise real power in Lebanon. Which means Iran is running the show. Terrorism has been rewarded and so long as it is they have no incentive to change their behavior.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ted Kennedy Diagnosed with Malignant Brain Tumor

After suffering a seizure over the weekend, Senator Edward Kennedy has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  His life expectancy is anywhere from a year to five years.  Whatever disagreements one might have with him politically and whatever his past misdeeds, I wish the man no ill will.  I hope conservatives will not succumb to the temptation to wish him harm and I suspect most conservatives will resist any such urge.  If it is wrong for the Daily Kos to wish Tony Snow ill will in his battle with cancer then it is also wrong for conservatives to do the same with Senator Kennedy.   With that I wish the Senior Senator from my home state only the best in his fight with cancer.

New York Stories #1: Yankees Humiliation Brings Smile to Red Sox Fan

It rained most of the day in New York.  But I knew there would be a game.  The game marked Alex Rodriguez's return from the DL.  Yankees fans had little else to cheer about.  Mike Mussina had what was arguably the worst start of his major league career.  The veteran righty lasted only two thirds of an inning surrendering seven runs to the Baltimore Orioles.  In fairness, only one of the runs was earned as Derek Jeter committed a throwing error.  But the bottom line is that the Orioles had a 7-0 lead before the Yankees came to bat.  Yes, I heard a Bronx Cheer in the Bronx.  It marked only the 4th time in Yankee Stadium history that they surrendered seven or more runs in the 1st inning.

 The O's added two more runs in the 2nd, one of them on an error by that Judas Johnny Damon.  By the 4th, former Red Sox great Kevin Millar hit a home run to make it 10-0.  The add insult to injury, Jeter had to leave the game in the 3rd when he was on the wrist by a pitch from Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera.   However, X-rays turned up negative and Jeter is day to day.

  The benches cleared in the 6th when Yankees reliever La Troy Hawkins threw a couple of pitches behind Luke Scott.  Hawkins and Yankee skipper Joe Girardi would be ejected from the game.  Scott would get even in his next at bat when he hit a two run home run.  The Yankees only bright spot was a two run home run by A-Rod in the 6th.  It was the only mistake Cabrera made in his seven inning start.

Because of the rain, there was a small crowd in the first place.  Not surprisingly, the blowout prompted the Yankees not so faithful to leave as early as the 4th inning.  Although there was one spirited Yankees fan who was trying to get fans in the outfield stands to start a 'Let's Go Yankees' chant it was to no avail.  Orioles won 12-2.  And yes, I wore my Red Sox cap to see the last place Yankees.

Still, I was pleased to attend Yankee Stadium one last time.  I also saw the New Yankee Stadium across the street.  It looks magnificent from the outside.  I'm sure I'll be there in the years to come.  But nothing beats Fenway.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jon Lester Tosses No-Hitter

Why is it that every time a Boston Red Sox pitcher throws a no-hitter I'm out of the city?  I was in Salisbury, Massachusetts when Clay Buchholz threw his no-no against the Baltimore Orioles last September.  At least I saw that one on TV.  It was the first no-hitter I ever saw from start to finish.  Tonight, I am in New York City on a week's vacation.  After returning from an evening of poetry in the East Village, my Dad & I turn on the TV to discover that Jon Lester has thrown one this evening against the Kansas City Royals en route to a 7-0 victory.  I saw Lester pitch at Fenway last month against the Los Angeles Angels and he wasn't very sharp.  But he would pitch a one-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays in his following start although he got a no decision out of it.  Aside from winning the deciding game in the 2007 World Series, this is the highlight of his career.  A year ago he was on his to coming back from lymphoma.  What a year he has had since.   It is also worth noting this is the 4th no-hitter Jason Varitek has caught in his career which sets the modern Major League record.  Varitek caught Buccholz's no-hitter in 2007 as well as Hideo Nomo's no-no against Baltimore in 2001 and Derek Lowe's no-hitter against Tampa Bay in 2002.  It would be nice to be around for these things but I'm not complaining too much.  I am going to Yankee Stadium tomorrow night to see the Yankees play the Orioles.  Mike Mussina (who once came within an out of pitching a perfect game against the Red Sox in 2001) faces off against Daniel Cabrera.  I will be wearing my Red Sox cap at what is probably my last chance to see Yankee Stadium.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bush Admonishes Arab States

While speaking in Egypt, President Bush admonished the Arab states for being weak on democratic reform.  Bush criticized Egypt for imprisoning opposition leaders and Saudi Arabia for its lack of advancement on women's rights.  Both long overdue.  Yet the press is unhappy with Bush because he criticized the Arab states while not criticizing Israel.  Well,  Israel doesn't imprison opposition leaders and has advanced women's rights.  When will the fools ever learn?

Tsvangirai Delays Return to Zimbabwe

Following what has been described as a credible threat, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has delayed his return to Zimbabwe.  This does not surprise me.  They have tried to kill him several times and they would certainly try again if he's on the cusp of attaining power.  One can only hope this development doesn't intimidate voters who have had enough of Mugabe.  Still, I have a bad feeling about this one.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gay Marriage in California

The only thing I can say about yesterday's California Supreme Court ruling concerning gay marriage is that I live in Massachusetts. Gay marriage has been the law of the land in the Bay State for 4½ years and the sky has not fallen. One this one, I think we ought to live and let live.

Should Venezuela Be Declared a State Sponsor of Terror?

An Interpol report confirms Hugo Chavez has been funding the Colombian terrorist group FARC. Some Republicans in Washington, D.C. are calling on the State Department to designate Venezuela a state sponsor of terrorism. Given that FARC holds several U.S. citizens captive and has formed strong relationships with America's enemies, most notably Iran there is a compelling argument for it. On the other hand, there is a case to be made there is light at the end of the tunnel. Venezuelans rejected a measure that would have effectively made Chavez a president for life. Under the Venezuelan constitution, he must leave office by 2012. There's a reasonable chance that in four years we could have a friendlier government there. Such a designation might undermine the Venezuelan opposition. We must also consider that we import a lot of oil from Venezuela through Citgo. So I don't think anything will change for now. On the other hand, should Obama win in November he will probably try to seek a rapprochement with Chavez. If that's the case such a designation by the outgoing Bush Administration could tie Obama's hands.

Zimbabwe to Vote on June 27th

The Zimbabwean Government has announced the runoff election between President Mugabe and MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai will take place on June 27th. Nearly three months will have passed since the first round of voting which saw the MDC win a majority in parliament. It took more than a month for the presidential results to be released by Tsvangirai has the lead. However, his supporters have been subject to intimidation and violence since the first ballot. Tsvangirai has been out of the country for most of this period but plans to return to Zimbabwe tomorrow. As I have said before I only hope Mugabe doesn't do to Tsvangirai what Marcos did to Aquino when he tried to return to the Phillipines from exile in the United States nearly a quarter century ago. If something happens to Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe will go up in flames.

Does Arlen Specter Have Nothing Better To Do?

At the risk of agreeing with Teddy Kennedy, I think the federal government has better things to do than to launch full scale hearings into the New England Patriots "spygate" scandal. And it's not because I'm a Pats fan. Pats head coach Bill Belichik was fined $250,000 and the team $50,000 and also lost a first round draft pick for stealing signs from opposing teams. What does Arlen Specter think the federal government can do concerning this matter that the NFL hasn't already? Could it be that Specter is still sore after the Pats beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Superbowl XXXIX? Who knows but maybe he had a wager on that game. Whatever the case Congress should involve itself in this no more than it should have involved itself in what was injected into Roger Clemens' buttocks. But it's easy to see why they do it. They get to see themselves on TV.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stop the Presses!!! Tampa Bay Rays in First Place in AL East

Hell hasn't frozen over but they are going through a cold snap. The Tampa Bay Rays (formerly known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays) have won six games in a row including a 2-1 11-inning victory over the New York Yankees last night. The Rays are now 23-16 and now have a ½ game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. OK, it's May 14th and much can go south between now and the end of September. But this is the latest the Rays have been in first in the history of their franchise. Even if the Rays don't go to the postseason this franchise has turned the corner. They've come a long way since I predicted they would win the World Series two years ago and ended up with the worst record in MLB. These aren't your older brother's Rays.

Hillary's Victory in West Virginia Matters

But it doesn't matter for her. She's on life support. But given that Obama lost West Virginia by a 2 to 1 margin it matters because he's vulnerable in November. Hillary might have taken some heat for her "white working-class" comments but they do have a problem with him. Although I think it's color of his collar that's the issue. You don't help yourself when you tell people in San Francisco that people in small towns cling to guns and religion. We aren't in Iowa anymore. If Obama is unable to mend fences between now and November the big beneficiary will be (say it with me everyone) John McCain.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lebanese Minister: Hezbollah "Turning Weapons They Are Supposed To Be Using Against The Israelis Against Lebanese Citizens"

I read an interview on Speigel Online with Nayla Moawad, Lebanon's Minister of Social Affairs. (,1518,552990,00.html) She is a Maronite Christian who is the widow of former Lebanese Prime Minister René Moawad (who was assassinated in 1989, most likely by the Syrians). Moawad denounced Hezbollah because of its desire "to force its ideology on Lebanon." She went on to describe its ideology as "extremist", "theocratic"and that it "comes from Iran." Moawad added that Iran sought to "dominate the whole Arab world." But when Moawad was asked about Lebanese governmental support of Hezbollah against Israel, she replied:

All Lebanese were proud of Hezbollah's resistance against Israel. But now Hezbollah's mask has been removed. They are just a typical militia, because they're turning the weapons they are supposed to be using against the Israelis against Lebanese citizens.

So Hezbollah is supposed to use its weapons against the Israelis? I guess Moawad is OK with Hezbollah murdering Israeli civilians. It is only when Hezbollah turns on her fellow Lebanese that she finds their ideology to be abhorrent. And remember that Moawad is part of a government that is pro-Western and that we're supporting. Believe me, I don't like Lebanon under the clutches of Iran or Syria. But with friends like these....

Chavez Likens Merkel to Hitler

Yesterday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez likened German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Hitler. What provoked the thin skinned strongman? Merkel had the temerity to criticize Chavez and said nations ought not deal with him and that he did not speak for all of Latin America. Chavez, in a speech to the Venezuelan military, said, "She is from the German right. The same that supported Hitler, that supported fascism. That's the Chancellor of Germany today." Chavez was about to tell Merkel to go to hell but stopped short on the count of the Chancellor being a woman. Not that it prevented him from likening her to a mass murderer.

It is worth noting that today Merkel embarks on a week long trip to Latin America which will culminate at a summit of Latin American and EU leaders in Peru. Chavez has threatened to confront Merkel at the summit on Friday. I say that Hugo should keep talking. He's proving her point and for that matter John McCain's. All the more reason for respectable democratic leaders like France's Nicolas Sarkozy not to engage with him.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Barr Won't Lower the Bar for McCain

Former Georgia GOP Congressman Bob Barr has launched his bid for the White House on the Libertarian Party ticket. The Party will choose its nominee for President later this month. Barr says several Republicans have asked him not to run for fear of cutting into McCain's vote. But methinks that folks who will actually go to the trouble of voting for Barr aren't likely to have voted for McCain anyway. His exploratory committee said Barr could win 7% of likely voters. I find this highly unlikely. Michael Badnarik got 0.34% of the vote in 2004 and the late Harry Browne won 0.5% and 0.4% of the vote in the 1996 and 2000 Presidential elections, respectively. Ron Paul won 0.5% of the vote when he was the Libertarian standard bearer in 1988. I don't see Barr winning more than 1% of the popular vote and even that is a stretch because that showing would effectively have doubled their support. If he does achieve that it would be on the strength of a protest vote. McCain has more to worry about from Ron Paul and his supporters making nuisances of themselves at the Republican National Convention at the end of August than he does from Barr in November.

Sharif Pulls Out of Pakistani Government

Nawaz Sharif has announced that he is pulling cabinet ministers from his Pakistan Muslim League - N Party out of its coalition with the Pakistan's Peoples Party. The issue is the reinstatement of the judges sacked by President Musharraf last fall. Sharif wants the judges old powers restored while the PPP wants to curb their powers. Sharif has said the PML-N will support the PPP on an issue by issue basis. I can't say I'm completely surprised by this development. Notwithstanding the monumentous events that have occurred in Pakistan over the past year I wondered how long this coalition would last. It barely lasted three months. I wonder this because this gives Musharraf an opportunity to regain the upper hand. If so Pakistan is right back where it was before.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hezbollah Got What It Wanted

Hezbollah terrorists might be off the streets of Beirut. But that's only because Siniora (through their army) gave them what they wanted. They can keep their private telephone system and the airport chief (who is a Hezbollah sympathizer) can keep his job. And there's nothing the United States, France or the West can do about it. If we keep rewarding terrorism, it will never end.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tsvangirai Will Participate in Zimbabwe Runoff

After initially stating he had won the March 29th election outright and not participate in a runoff, Morgan Tsvangirai has reconsidered and has now said he will partake in a runoff. In a telephone interview, Tsvangirai said the decision had been a difficult one but that the people of Zimbabwe would have been betrayed if he didn't participate. I argued in an earlier blog that if the MDC boycotted the runoff it would guarantee a victory for Mugabe. Of course, G-d only knows when the runoff will take place. It ought to be held by month's end but a vote might not happen until May 2009. The other problem is that Tsvangirai isn't in Zimbabwe. I fear that Mugabe's forces might do to Tsvangirai what Ferdinand Marcos' forces did to Benigno Aquino when he returned from exile to the Phillipines a quarter century ago. Tsvangirai has been beaten and tried for treason before. I wouldn't put anything past Mugabe in the pursuit of holding onto power.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hezbollah Takes Over West Beirut

Hezbollah has effectively taken over West Beirut. Unless, the Lebanese government gets some external support I don't think there's much to prevent Hezbollah from taking over the country. But it hasn't been forthcoming. Saudi Arabia, which has supported the Lebanese government in the past, is calling on Prime Minister Siniora to resign. The Cedar Revolution seems now such a distant memory.

Myanmar Refuses Foreign Aid Workers

The military junta in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) has refused to admit foreign aid workers in the wake of last week's cyclone which is estimated to have killed anywhere between 25,000 and 100,000 people. It took several days for the regime to allow relief supplies to be flown into the country which unnecessarily allowed the death toll to balloon. They are accepting the supplies just not the workers - at least not without a visa. The earliest any visa could get processed is Monday as today is a national holiday. Even if the visas were issued they typically last seven days. Clearly not enough time to properly distribute aid. It appears the government wants to disseminate the aid itself and most likely amongst themselves. If Myanmar had a nuclear bomb we'd have another North Korea on our hands.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hezbollah is Trying to Overthrow Government in Lebanon

For the past two days, Hezbollah has been engaging in open warfare with the Western backed Lebanese government. Hezbollah, of course, has boycotted Parliament so a new President cannot be chosen and the country has been without one since November. However, the government just banned Hezbollah's private telecommunications infrastructure on the grounds that it was a threat to its national security (and for that matter it is a threat to Israel's security as well.) Indeed, this telecommunications system was funded by Iran. Hezbollah leader Sheik Nasrallah declared, "Those who try to arrest us, we will arrest them. Those who shoot at us, we will shoot them. The hand raised against us, we will cut if off." Given that the IDF couldn't decisively beat Hezbollah two years ago what chance does the Lebanese government have? Our military isn't available. Even if it was there's always memories of the 1983 attack on the barracks that killed 241 U.S. Marines. Given Lebanon's ties to France, would Sarkozy be prepared to send in the French military to protect the Lebanese government? He might but I can't see his countrymen supporting him on that point. This is the biggest test of the Lebanese government since the end of Syrian occupation in 2005. If they cave and back down on declaring the telecommunications system illegal or they just plain lose the fight in the streets, Lebanon will be under Hezbollah and by extension Iran's control. Should Iran develop a nuclear weapon it might just launch a bomb into Israel from Lebanon. Yes, I don't think it is a surprise that Hezbollah is acting up during Israel's 60th anniversary. It is also not a surprise given Olmert's legal troubles. Unless someone stands up to Hezbollah something awfully bad is going to happen.

Israel Turns 60

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel. Technically, Israel came to be on May 14, 1948. However, if you go by the lunar calendar it's May 8th. It's also worth noting that May 8th also marks the Allied victory in Europe (V-E Day). I've only been to Israel once and that was nearly twenty years ago. I plan to write in more detail about that in the very near future. The headlines in the news focus on Israel's "jitters" and "uncertain future". There is certainly something to that considering the longstanding objectives of the Muslim world to put an end to Israel and Iran isn't far off from being in a position to carry that out. That notwithstanding, I would argue that Israel has accomplished more as a nation in its first six decades than any other in human history, including the United States and Great Britain. Show me a country that has come as far in the arts, sciences, industry and medicine in its first sixty years of independence. That's astonishing enough but one must always consider that Israel rose out of the ashes of the Holocaust. Israelis, Jews in the diaspora and fair minded people the world over have plenty of reason to be proud.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Obama Wins Big in NC; Hillary Narrowly Wins Indiana

Things were looking good for Hillary Clinton after her interview with O'Reilly or so I thought. I don't think anyone is surprised with Obama's victory in North Carolina although I don't think anyone expected he would win by nearly 15%. Hillary needed a Pennsylvania like victory in Indiana and didn't get it. I thought Obama might benefit in Indiana given its proximity to Illinois. Well, not enough for him to win but enough for lots of folks, including former Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern, to call on her to bow out. Hillary's victory in Indiana was a victory in name only. Hillary had cancelled all media appearances this morning but is set to address supporters in West Virginia shortly. The West Virginia Primary is scheduled for May 13th and it is a Primary she is expected to win. But does it matter at this point? She can either soldier on and pray for a miracle or hope for a McCain victory so she can run again in 2012. If Obama can survive Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers for all intents and purposes we can soon start calling this the McCain-Obama race.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fox series "Bad Dads" featuring tracking down "Deadbeat Dads" should be boycotted

The idea almost seems ok at first, a reality TV series focusing on hunting down rich men who owe child support money to the penniless mothers of their children. But when you stop and think about it, it's a terrible idea, because conceptually it lumps all dads behind in child support as deadbeat dads. Child support is a flawed law to begin with. Presenting this rosy one-sided picture of child support enforcement is cruel to those fathers whose lives have been devastated and destroyed by it. Who doesn't know a father who has suffered bankruptcy, depression, and other ill effects from the battles over child support and custody. Not all fathers are rich and mothers are poor, many times it's the opposite. Yet the law doesn't take this into account; once a father gets behind more than a few months in child support, a warrant is issued for his arrest. Even if he is poor. Fox should be ashamed and the show needs to be pulled. What about a show featuring fathers who discover the mothers of their children are really making more money than they admit, and are spending their child support money on non-necessities such as breast implants?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Re: Swiss decide that plants have rights

Rachel, do you mean to tell me that when it comes to plants the Swiss aren't neutral? I've heard of getting to the root causes of a problem but this is a bit much. Yet in this day and age it is not inconceivable that plants could be politically mobilized. Who better to give a stump speech but a tree? It could be Al Gore's distant cousin, Herb I. Gore. Of course, under those circumstances, I might be tempted to soil my ballot.

Obama Is Soft On Iran

Barack Obama took Hillary Clinton to task for saying she would "totally obliterate" Iran if it initiated a nuclear attack against Israel last week. Obama likened her language to that of President Bush. "It's not the language we need right now and I think its language reflective of George Bush," said Obama. Funny, I don't recall Bush saying he was going to obliterate anyone. Yet this begs the question. What language does Obama think is called for concerning Iran? He does not say. Although Obama has said he is prepared to sit down and talk with Ahmadinejad without conditions. Could you imagine Obama asking, "Mr. Ahmadinejad, could you please consider stopping your nuclear program?" And to think Jimmy Carter waited until after leaving office to talk with rogue heads of state. Obama is pledging to do it before he is even elected. What does Obama think we gain from talking to Iran apart from "improving our reputation in the world?" Reagan believed in the credo of "trust but verify." Obama is content with trust.

Swiss decide that plants have rights

The Weekly Standard ran an article by Wesley J. Smith of the Discovery Institute discussing how the Swiss government added a new clause regarding the treatment of animals and plants to their Constitution, then asked an ethics panel to interpret it. The panel concluded that plants have "dignity" and should be considered morally for their own sake simply because of the fact they're alive. Therefore, you can't just walk by some plants and chop them down without a reason such as harvesting them. Genetic modification is bad if it causes plants to lose their dignity, such as interfering with their ability to reproduce. Smith goes on to discuss how this overvaluing of plant and animal life correlates with a devaluing of human life, particularly in terms of experimentation.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

MDC Softens Stance on Runoff

The opposition Movement for a Democratic Change (MDC) is softening its stance concerning a runoff election in Zimbabwe. Until now, Morgan Tsvangirai has been saying he won the March 29th ballot outright and would not participate in a runoff. However, now MDC officials are saying they are willing to participate in a runoff provided members of the Southern African Development Community verify the first round results. One wonders how eager Mugabe would be to cooperate in such a venture unless it was headed up by one of his allies like South Africa's Thabo Mbeki. As it stands now, a runoff vote could take place as early as May 23rd and as late as May 2, 2009. The loony left can hate President Bush all they want but sure as the sun rises in the east he will leave office on January 20, 2009. American democracy is not without its virtues.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Johnson Ousts Livingstone Highlights Tory Decimation of Labour in Local Elections

I am sure Gordon Brown is trying to take comfort in the words of the late Harold Wilson who said, "A week in politics is a lifetime." The Labour Party has just suffered its worse showing in local elections since 1968 when Wilson was in power. Two years later, Wilson fell to Edward Heath and the Tories in the general election. When I was there in 1995, it was the Tories who had their worst electoral showing ever in that's year local elections. The Tories were on their last legs. Two years later, John Major succumbed to Tony Blair and New Labour. Brown must call an election two years from now and the way things are going he will wait until the last possible minute to do so. Unless Brown rescues a busload of schoolchildren from drowning, David Cameron will be moving to 10 Downing Street in 2010.

Undoubtedly, the most significant development in this round of local elections is Ken Livingstone's loss to Tory MP Boris Johnson for the mayoralty of London. Back in July 2005, in the wake of the London terrorist attacks, I wrote two articles on Livingstone ( and Livingstone played host to Yusuf al Qaradawi, a Muslim scholar who has often praised Palestinian suicide bombers. For his part, Livingstone declared the Israeli Likud Party and Hamas "were two sides of the same coin." Needless to say, Livingstone's eight years at the helm of London couldn't have come more unceremoniously. Although in fairness Johnson, currently a Tory MP, is known for stirring the pot first as a journalist and then editor of The Spectator. The best way I can describe Johnson would be if Ann Coulter were to have a sex change operation and then were to immediately decide to run for office. It remains to be seen what kind of mayor Johnson will be. For all of Livingstone's faults, he did have a strong background in local government. Johnson doesn't have this experience but that might not necessarily hurt him. Johonson might be someone who surrounds himself with good people who handle the day to day stuff while he takes hold of a couple of initiatives and uses those to put his stamp on London.

Zimbabwe Elections Results Finally Announced

Nearly five weeks after the fact, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission at long last released the results of that country's Presidential election. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai received 47.9% of the vote while President Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF won 43.2%. Tsvangirai fell short of the 50% required for an outright victory. The Commission said "a second election will be held at a date to be announced." However, the MDC has stated there are about 120,000 votes that are not accounted for that would put him above the 50% plateau. The MDC has stated it will not partake in a runoff. The MDC has also stated it would be prepared to govern jointly with ZANU-PF as long as Mugabe is out of the picture. I have mixed feelings about the MDC boycotting a runoff. On one hand it could be argued that by not abiding by the runoff, the MDC is picking and choosing to observe the rules when it is convenient for them. On the other hand, Mugabe's forces have had more than a month to intimidate those who voted for Tsvangirai into voting "correctly" the second time around. I can understand the MDC's concerns. But if they don't participate then Mugabe will win.

O'Reilly Interview with Hillary, Part Two

This portion of the conversation focussed largely on the War on Terror with our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and the role Iran and Pakistan are playing in them. While Hillary acknowledged that Iran developing a nuclear weapon would be "unbelievably bad" she also insisted there was "no military solution in Iraq" and that our forces had done all we could there. I am surprised that O'Reilly didn't challenge Hillary on her "willful suspension of disbelief" comment to General Petraeus in the fall concerning the surge. The surge has worked and O'Reilly ought to have challenged her on that assertion. But Hillary's argument to end the war in Iraq to win it in Afghanistan and willingness to work with the new government in Pakistan might appeal to an electorate weary about Iraq. While I also disagree with her position on sanctuary cities I do admire her for telling O'Reilly what he didn't want to hear. Better to know where you stand than have someone pander to you and then do something else altogether. Again, I have no intention of voting for her. But this is probably the best thing she's done the whole campaign. She did it knowing she had everything to gain and almost nothing to lose. She rose to the occasion. The race is still Obama's to lose and it's very likely he won't. But now she's making him sweat bullets. Hillary didn't expect to be in a battle for the Democratic nomination. Now she's adapted. Even if she loses, she might wound Obama enough to give McCain a victory in November.

Strange Ending at Fenway Park

Last night, I was at Fenway Park for a game between the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays. It was my 65th game at Fenway since 2000. It had without a doubt the strangest ending of all the games I've attended let alone what I've seen on TV or heard on the radio. Coco Crisp ended the game by flying out to right field giving the Jays a 3-0 win. Oh well. My friend and I were descending the stairs towards the exit and then all of a sudden I notice Blue Jays manager John Gibbons furiously arguing with the umpires. He slammed down his cap and got ejected from the game. This could mean only one thing. The game was not over.

I thought perhaps time got called but Jays closer B.J. Ryan ignored it and threw the pitch thus invalidating the out. However, what happened was that Ryan balked as he delivered the pitch. For the uninitiated, a balk occurs when a pitcher does not come to a complete and discernible stop before delivering the pitch. A pitcher cannot deceive a runner on base. Because of the balk, Brandon Moss was awarded second base and Crisp would live to fight another day. And wouldn't you know it but Crisp singled. So instead of game over we have runners at first and third. Crisp would then advance to second on defensive indifference. So now the tying run comes up to the plate in the form of rookie Jed Lowrie. My friend and I (as well as those who remained) thought if the Sox pulled this off we would be speaking about this game for years. But no sooner than we thought that Lowrie was called out on strikes to end the game. Jays still win 3-0.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

O'Reilly Interview with Hillary, Part One

I realize the only reason Hillary Clinton agreed to an interview with Bill O'Reilly is because her back is against the wall. However, I am not sure why she hadn't sat down with him years ago. As someone who has absolutely no intention of voting of her, I can say she wasn't intimidated by him in the least and handled him very well. Perhaps better than anyone I've seen. Now I don't believe for a moment that she will take on OPEC, the oil companies or the health insurance companies nor frankly much else she said. But I think she'll get votes from her appearance because. If nothing else, she demonstrated she wants to be President. She ain't dropping out. Hillary is hungry and Obama had better watch out because in her eyes he's a rib-eye sandwich. She has now effectively given Obama no choice but to go on O'Reilly. After all, it was Hillary's people who contacted O'Reilly for this interview thus taking the bull by the horns. If Obama doesn't, independent and undecided voters are going to ask, "What gives?" If you can't handle O'Reilly how can you handle Ahmadinejad? Last night, they discussed Reverend Wright, energy policy, taxation and health care. Tonight's segment deals with foreign policy and defense. Given that those are my primary areas of interests it will be interesting to see what is discussed in this segment.