Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain Picks Palin

I like this pick.

Thank G-d he didn't pick Romney. That's a relief.

Fox News is confirming that John McCain has selected Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, to be his running mate. She is to appear with McCain at a rally this afternoon in Dayton, Ohio.

A lot of people thought she wouldn't be picked because she was only elected Governor in 2006 and just gave birth to her fifth child in April. But she has a maverick streak and has been willing to stand up to corruption in her own party in Alaska. Unlike McCain, Palin actually was voted Miss Congeniality when she competed and won a beauty pageant in 1984. Speaking of 1984, Palin becomes the second woman to become a vice-presidential running mate. after Geraldine Ferraro who was tabbed by Walter Mondale.

Palin, who is 44, undoubtedly softens McCain's image and will appeal to female voters, especially those who previously supported Hillary Clinton. Democrats might criticize her inexperience but I would put up her experience against Obama's any day of the week. Especially her executive experience.

I would also add that she will be an effective debate opponent for Biden. Sure Romney could have gone toe to toe with Biden but Romney has so many negatives. Biden can't go after Palin the same way he would Romney or Pawlenty. I'm not saying he can't criticize her but he can't be seen to be bullying her. But if she can stand up to her own party, she can certainly stand up to Biden. Like Biden, she also has a son who will deploy to Iraq in the fall.

Yes, I am liking this pick more and more as each second passes. Yes, Pawlenty was my first choice but McCain hit a homerun on this one.

Obama's Promises Are A Mile High & An Inch Deep

Some thoughts on Obama's speech at Mile High Stadium in Denver.

When Barack Obama starts channeling Dick Van Patten it is time to run away as fast as you can.

Obama did go into specifics more so than usual. Some of it was from the liberal laundry list such as ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. That was an oft repeated line from the Kerry campaign four years ago. Didn't work then. It won't work now.

Obama also wants "to provide every child with a world class education." He insists that he "won't settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance." If he won't stand for that, then he should stand for vouchers and giving parents the right to send their children to the school of their choice. Especially if he wants to create "an army of teachers." He'll pay them more in exchange for higher standards and more accountability. The teachers' unions will tell Obama, "You and what army?"

Regarding alternative energy, Obama promises to create "5 million jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced." How can he make a promise jobs won't be outsourced? Is he going to force businesses to get permission to relocate? More to the point, he still refuses to drill, drill, drill. Yes, drilling is a short term solution but you need a short term solution before you can implement a long term one.

The one promise, however, that might resonate with the electorate is a promise to cut taxes for 95% of working families. Instead of saying tax the rich, he's talking tax cut. If McCain can't convince the electorate, Obama will raise your taxes and the economy gets worse then he's in trouble. A proposed tax cut for 95% of working families could do for him what it did for Bill Clinton and the middle class tax cut in 1992.

Obama really took it to McCain. But what did Obama mean when he said, "You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives."?

Obama also said, "McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end the war." I would counter that Obama stands alone in his stubborn refusal to call the surge a success.

"I got news for you John McCain," Obama lectured, "We all put our country first."

Well then, Senator Obama. Why did you try to legislate defeat in Iraq? Is that putting our country first?

All in all, Obama was well spoken. But it remains to be seen if the American voter believes he actually said anything.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cuba To Put Punk Rocker On Trial For "Social Dangerousness"

I have just read the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news website and found out that Cuba will be putting a punk rocker named Gorki Aguila on trial tomorrow for "social dangerousness". Aguila, who fronts the band Porno para Ricardo, has been an outspoken critic of the Castro regime - both Fidel and Raul. He was previously arrested for his political activities in 2005. (

"Social dangerousness" is considered a breach of "standards of communist morality." Now there's an oxymoron.

My question is where are the Hollywood actors who decry infringement of artistic freedom?

I guess they are too busy wearing Che Guevara T-shirts.

Mugabe Abandons Power Sharing

Days after being heckled by MDC parliamentarians at the opening of Zimbabwe's National Assembly, Robert Mugabe has abandoned any further power sharing with them and has announced he will form a government without the MDC. "The MDC don't want to come in apparently," said Mugabe.

Does this really come as a surprise to anyone?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece titled, "Has Mugabe Triumphed Again?" (

In the article, I argue the only power sharing agreement Mugabe would sign onto is one that would guarantee he is President for Life.

Of course, Mugabe cannot enter into any agreement that would diminish any of his power one iota because Mugabe does not wish to share power with anyone. He's a meglomaniac.

The best that can be done now is for the MDC to use whatever powers it might have in the National Assembly until such time that Mugabe sees fit to dissolve it. Such a move will delegitimize Mugabe amongst his fellow Africans. Whether other African governments isolate Mugabe however remains to be seen.

By the time Mugabe is out of power or is relegated to a place where he can do no more harm it will take a century for Zimbabwe to get back where it was prior to 1980.

Instant Replay Will Not Be An Instant Success

Today, MLB officially introduces instant replay.

This is because of a significant number of home run calls the umpires have botched this season.

Instant replay will only be used to determine on a) if the ball went fair or foul on a homerun b) if the ball went over the fence on a homerun or if it is simply base hit and c) where fan interference is involved.

The crew chief will consult broadcast replays and consult with an umpiring official in New York.

What isn't clear is how instant replay will be initiated. Is it something demanded by the manager? If so, can the crew chief refuse the manager's request for instant replay? Will managers have a per game limit as to how many times they could ask for instant replay?

Inevitably, this will be a matter of trial and error. Of course, this trial and error might very well extend into the playoffs and World Series.

While this might provide baseball long term improvement invariably as with any change someone will be unhappy with the outcome.

Some Slightly More Detailed Thoughts on Joe Biden's Speech

Here are three observations about Joe Biden's speech.

1. I found Beau Biden's introduction quite impressive. It's obvious there's a great deal of love and affection in this family. The tragedy they've endured has brought them closer together. I wish Beau well when he is deployed to Iraq in October.

2. Biden's father told him, "Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up." Hey, I've used that credo as a source of inspiraton. But then Biden later said, "I've never seen a time when Washington has watched so many people get knocked down without doing anything to help them get back up." I thought the whole point of getting up when you've been knocked down was a sign of your perserverance. Getting back up is something you do on your own not by relying on the government. The other thing to consider is that sometimes it is government that knocks people down and gets in the way.

3. Is Biden serious when he questions McCain's judgement on foreign policy? Does Biden really think talking to Ahmadinejad is the best way to advance our security? Does Biden really think Obama's judgement was sound when he called for restraint on both sides when Russia invaded Georgian territory? Does Biden really think Obama's judgement was sound when he equated the United States entering Iraq with Russia entering Georgia? I guess Obama sees no difference between Saddam and Saakashvili.

Biden said, "Now, after six long years, the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government are on the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home. John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right."

Um, the reason the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government are the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home is because of a little something called the surge. Something neither Obama nor Biden supported. Democrats said the War in Iraq was lost. John McCain was right. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are wrong.

If Biden wants to challenge McCain on his foreign policy cred then by all means, please bring it on.

A Quick Thought on Bill Clinton's Speech

Is it just me or was Bill Clinton's nose getting longer when he said Obama was ready to be President of the United States?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Canadians Could Go To The Polls Very, Very Soon

There is a great deal of talk that there will be an election in Canada very, very soon.

Much of the talk is from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Earlier this month, he referred to Parliament as being "dysfunctional" and placed the blame on Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion. The Conservatives, who have a minority government, have been subjected to repeated votes of confidence over the past few months. Invariably, the Liberals either don't attend the vote or vote with the government.

The Conservatives want a vote as do the NDP and Bloc Quebecois. Why don't the Liberals want one? They are deeply in debt. They are also trailing the Conservatives in the polls. An Ipsos Reid/Global/National Post poll released August 19th had the Tories at 36% and the Liberals at 30%.

Harper is up in the Arctic promoting Canadian sovereignty. He's also asked Governor General Michelle Jean not to attend the Paralympics in Beijing next month. She was due to have left on September 5th. You see, in Canada, the Prime Minister asks the Governor General to dissolve Parliament for the purposes of calling an election.

There is some controversy around this though. Last year, the Tory government, following trends in Ontario and British Columbia, passed legislation to have elections on fixed dates as they do in the United States. The next federal election was due to have taken place on October 19, 2009. However, Harper states that since his government is a minority one the law does not apply. After all, the government can fall on a confidence vote thus forcing elections.

Back in February, the government came close to falling over whether Canada would continue its mission in Afghanistan. ( Fortunately, the French came to the rescue. (Yes, I actually did write that last sentence.)

Harper could pull the trigger as soon as September 2nd, the day after Labor Day. Harper and the Tories came to power after elections in January 2006.

Naturally, Harper's aim is to have the voters give him a majority government so that Parliament won't be "dysfunctional." But he could also be rewarded with another minority government. Which would for him be as bad as losing to the Liberals outright. There might be great reward for Harper. But great reward does come with great risk.

A Quick Thought on Hillary's Speech

I don't really have much to add to what's already been said about Hillary's speech last night at the DNC. She talked more about herself than Obama. Hell, she talked more about Bill Gwatney and Stephanie Tubbs-Jones than about Obama. She didn't give Obama a ringing endorsement but she delivered her endorsement with gusto. And with that, after Bill's speech tonight, I don't think you'll see either Clinton campaigning with Obama between now and November 4th.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Report: Zardari Suffered From Mental Illness

There's an article from The Financial Times which states that Asif Ali Zardari, the man most likely to become Pakistan's next President, has been diagnosed with various mental illnesses including dementia.

This story is based in documents filed with the High Court in London when Zardari was fighting corruption charges against him by the Pakistani government. (http://www.financialtimes/com/cms/S/0/7c186dSL-72fo-11dd-983b-0000779fd18c.html)

It is worth noting that his disordered were likely caused during the time he was incarcerated in Pakistani jails on corruption charges for a better part of a decade. It is widely believed that Zardari was subjected to torture while in prison.

The psychiatrist who diagnosed Zardari, Dr. Steven Reich wrote:

He had difficulty focusing, concentrating and paying attention, is persistently sad, chronically anxious and apprehensive. He stated that he has had suicidal thoughts, but has not made any suicidal gestures.

Zardari has not commented on the article. However, Zardari's close ally Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan's High Commissioner to London (which is essentially an Ambassador) did not deny the story and said Zardari's disposition was understandable given what he endured in prison.

My guess is that Zardari will still be elected Pakistan's next President on September 6th. If this, however, does become an issue for his supporters in the PPP then Zardari would withdraw rather than have his own deputies vote against him.

Zardari did have some good news. The Swiss have dropped money laundering charges against him. That should lift his spirits.

Of course, the question is if Zardari could not assist himself in court proceedings against him how can he be reasonably expected to govern Pakistan?

North Korea Up To Its Old Tricks

The North Koreans have announced that they have suspended disabling their nuclear facility at Yongbyon and might even restore its operational capacity because the United States has not removed it from the State Department's list of nations that sponsor terror.

As part of the six country agreement reached last October, North Korea would be removed from the list provided there was an acceptable means to verify their claims. Thus far North Korea has not let anyone verify they have actually decommissioned Yongbyon. So no removal from the list.

Remember what Reagan said. Trust, but verify.

Barack Obama Has A Funny Name, According To His Wife

A couple of weeks ago, Barack Obama said that John McCain and Republicans would make America scared of him because of, amongst other things, his funny name. Yet last night it was Michelle Obama who described her husband as having "a funny name" during her address to the Democratic National Convention.

Is Michelle Obama trying to scare America?

Whatever she was trying to do she did hit all the right notes about the American Dream and how she loves this country. She hit those notes but was she singing from the heart? In other words, did she really mean what she said last night? I have no doubt she loves her husband and her children. I also have no doubt she terribly misses her father who was stricken down by MS. But does she really love this country? What I do know is that when she said she was proud of her country for the first time she meant every word. What I do know is that when she said America was "downright mean" she meant it.

But if Michelle Obama does in fact love her country we will see it with her deeds not her words. On that front, the jury is still out.

An honest assessment of the Dem. convention

Oops. This is Ted Kennedy addressing the 1980 Democrat Convention, not the 2008. So much for the Democrats being about change.

Some thoughts from the fiscal liberal of the family, so he's arguably more objective than the rest of us -

Interesting first night at the DNC--I though it was generally a bust. The highlight was the Ted Kennedy speech--his niece gave a nice intro and the sailing video wasn't bad. Kennedy's speech wasn't especially articulate, but it was short and he's at the age where a certain "curtness" can be attributed to "Uncle Ted." However it was not the "no dry eyes in the house" speech that the media had said it would be.

The biggest surprise was the Michelle Obama speech--which I thought was a real bust. It should have been a short bio of herself and Obama--with lots of things for the delegates to cheer for--and some humor (ie. personalizing the Obamas). Instead they gave the speech to some college student to write and he piled on a whole raft of "target audiences" onto what should have been an uplifting chat. There were endless references to Obama supporting the workers and Obama struggling--and on and on. There was virtually nothing for the audience to cheer about (until the end--and the Hillary reference). The college student-esque references to "the threat that links us together" was way too abstract and put the audience to sleep. Worse, the whole thing was so wordy that Michelle lost her place from time to time and was forced to make these artificial "pauses for emphasis."

In short, instead of "humanizing her," the speech came across as totally staged. Which was sad, because she seems like a terrific person. She should have been left alone to be herself--and instead was hijacked by the same guys who decided to make John Kerry's speech all about the Vietnam war (and his opposition to it). Anyway "humanizing" Michelle failed.

I disagree with Carville and the Democrat hounds who thought the first day should have been about attacking McCain however. Obama is about "new politics"--and this night was supposed to be about that. I think Obama and Company simply failed to deliver.

Dem. convention: Our old guy is better than your old guy

Some thoughts from a friend who watched the opening night of the Democrat convention:

So, I turn on the TV this morning and think to myself, “why is the old bald guy McCain making a speech the day Barack Obama is going to announce his Veep choice?” Then I realize the crinkly balding guy making the speech is Joe Biden. My initial thought is our old cranky guy is better than your guy. Seriously, is this the politics of change? The guy is the same generation as Johnny Mac (did he even serve in military?) and can’t represent any new ideas. Didn’t he first get elected when Nixon was President? I earlier thought that Hillary wouldn’t be the VP choice because having her on the ticket would represent the same old same old. Now I’m wondering, if you’re going to go with the attack dog professional politician, why wouldn’t Hillary get the nod? Seriously, I don’t get this. I thought he’d go with Bayh or Vilseck, or someone that would truly represent the politics of change. This should be a democratic election. But I wonder if folks in middle America are still going to be asking, is this a change we can believe in? Or will we be rolling the dice and hoping the old guy does us right? I’m guessing the McCain people are thinking, our old guy is better than your old guy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Madonna Compares McCain to Hitler

My mother asked me if I had heard about this when we spoke over the phone last night. I hadn't. Frankly, my life doesn't revolve around delving into Madonna's political insight if such a thing exists. After all, she and Michael Moore were basically the only two people in America who thought Wesley Clark would make a good President.

A few nights ago, Madonna launched her latest world tour in Cardiff, Wales and at one point in the show there were images of carnage, global warming accompanied by images of Adolf Hitler, Robert Mugabe and John McCain. These were contrasted with images of John Lennon, Gandhi and Barack Obama.

Again, not that I place a great deal of value on her view of the world. But there are a significant number of people who equate Bush with Hitler and it seems now equate McCain with Hitler. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Randy Newman's McCain-Hitler comparison. (

Unlike Madonna, I actually care about Newman's music.

But that consderation aside, it tells me that many people are either profoundly ignorant about what Adolf Hitler actually did or are simply quick to equate people with whom they disagree or don't like with a mass murderer as casually as one would close a door. Whatever the case, it is clear that Madonna, Randy Newman and a cast of thousands have actually given the Holocaust almost no thought at all much less taken the time to learn what actually happened. The fact that the Holocaust cannot be taught in many British schools due to pressure from Muslim parents does not bode well for either history or for our future.

Good News in Zimbabwe

This morning I had read that several members of the MDC who were elected to parliament in March had been arrested after being summoned by Robert Mugabe.

But this afternoon I have learned that those members were released and that an MDC member, Lovemore Moyo, had been elected Speaker of Zimbabwe's National Assembly.

This is a hopeful sign. I have no illusions the parliament will rid the country of hunger, disease and violence. But if a MDC controlled parliament can curb the excesses of Mugabe then perhaps there is just a little bit of hope for democracy in Zimbabwe.

Sharif Resigns From Pakistani Government

After giving Asif Ali Zardari a Wednesday deadline to reinstate Chaudhry and the other judges sacked by Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif pushed the deadline up to Monday. Not surprisingly, Zardari didn't budge. So Sharif has resigned from the Pakistani government and will sit with the opposition. Back in June, Sharif had withdrawn his Ministers although he did continue to support Zardari on an issue by issue basis.

It appears also that Sharif will back someone from the Pakistan Muslim League-N to run against Zardari for the Pakistani Presidency on September 6th. However, Zardari and the Pakistan People's Party appear to have sufficient support from smaller parties necessary for him to be elected President.

I do think the judges should have been reinstated long ago. Musharraf's heavy handedness began with the judges and ended with detaining opposition figures. Yes, Zardari fears that old corruption charges would be reinstated against him if he were to restore the judges. But one would think that Chaudhry would have some gratitude at being reinstated by Zardari and might be inclined not to reinstate the charges as a gesture of good will.

All of this maneuvering is part of politics. However, given the violence that has been ongoing in Pakistan at the hands of the Taliban and the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear nation people are not inclined to have a lot of confidence in the future of Pakistani democracy with today's developments.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Zardari Accepts Party's Nomination for Pakistani Presidency

Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto, appears to have accepted the unanaminous nomination of the Pakistan People's Party to be its candidate for President. He was nominated by the PPP yesterday.

As of this writing there are no other candidates for the vote that will take place on September 6th.

Of course, there had been talk that the powers of the President would be reduced to that of a ceremonial position. Zardari's candidacy and almost certain victory (unless something, Lord forbid, happens to him) basically jettisons that.

Hopefully, Zardari and Nawaz Sharif will reach some agreement on reinstating judges and that will mollify Sharif sufficiently enough to let the debate on the powers of the Presidency wait until another day.

I Suppose You Could Say Obama Was Biden His Time

OK, I'm not the first to think that up. But I mean nearly 2 a.m. Why couldn't he have made the pick at 2 p.m. or some other civilized hour?

Senator Biden is touted for his foreign policy experience but he has been weak on Iran and had voted against designating Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

What I wonder though is if Obama's selection of Biden will influence McCain's VP choice. Biden is a pretty skilled debater. The one guy who could go toe to toe with him is Romney. No, I'm not a Romney fan but he is a helluva debater. It would probably be the most interesting VP debate ever and make great TV.

Then again Lloyd Bentsen walloped Dan Quayle twenty years ago. So maybe McCain isn't thinking VP debate at all.

I still think he should pick Pawlenty. Maybe he'll pick Lieberman to neutralize Biden's foreign policy experience but that would cause a furor with pro-life activists. Dick Morris suggests he should pick Kay Bailey Hutchison since Obama didn't pick Kathleen Sebelius, as I thought he should have.

We'll see in a week's time.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is Obama Considering Edwards? No, Not That Edwards!!!

I just read an AP story indicating Chet Edwards, a little known Democratic Congressman from Texas, might emerge as Obama's running mate.

Despite his obscurity, it isn't the first time Edwards has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Obama. Back in June, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Edwards "would be a good person to be in the mix." (

Edwards currently serves as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. It should also be noted that President Bush's ranch in Crawford is in Edward's district. Edwards was first elected to Congress in 1990 after serving seven years in the Texas State Senate.

He might be an unknown but he is from the South. Biden certainly can't say that. Bayh and Sebelius may be Midwesterners but Democrats need the South to win and the African American vote won't be enough. Sure Kaine can make a Southern claim but Edwards outflanks him on experience. Still, does Obama think Edwards can deliver him Texas? Well, Obama does have a Texas sized ego.

Obama's Three Criteria for VP

Barack Obama has said he's picked a running mate but won't say who it is. At least not now.

But in an interview with CBS News, Obama offered three criteria:

1) Be prepared to be President;
2) Help him govern;
3) Challenge his thinking.

Clearly, this disqualifies Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

Back in June, I wrote an article predicting Obama would pick Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. ('08/)
I don't think she can be entirely ruled out. But Obama defines helping him to govern in areas such as economic opportunity at home and providing navigation through dangerous waters abroad. Methinks Sebelius could help him with the former but not so much the latter.

That leaves Delaware Senator Joe Biden and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh. They certainly meet all three criteria. Biden certainly has the foreign policy experience. He can also be blunt. Remember when Biden caught all kinds of heat for calling Obama "articulate", "bright and clean". Of course, Biden will be forever remembered as the guy who plagiarized former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock two decades ago thus derailing his Presidential aspirations in 1988. I mean if you're going to plagiarize someone then pick a winner.

Bayh is more low key than Biden but certainly has his views. While he has been critical of the way things have gone on in Iraq he has never repudiated his support for the War. Given that Obama's opposition to the war is the centerpiece of his campaign, Bayh could certainly challenge his thinking on Iraq.

Then again, Hillary Rodham Clinton also fits the criteria.

In the meantime, keep checking your text messages.

Pakistan to Hold Presidential Election on September 6th

Pakistan's Elections Commission has announced there will be a Presidential election held on September 6th to determine a successor for Pervez Musharraf, who resigned earlier this week.
The election will be done through a simultaneous vote by Pakistan's National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.

However, complicating matters is that matter of reinstating judges who were sacked by Musharraf last November. Nawaz Sharif has threatened to pull out of the government by next Wednesday if the judges, especially Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, are not reinstated. The principle reason Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto's widower, has balked at reinstating Chaudhry is because he fears corruption charges would be reinstated against him. Zardari was granted this amnesty by Musharraf before he and Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October.

A best case scenario would be if Sharif were to convince Chaudhry not to pursue charges against Ali Zardari thus reassuring Ali Zardari sufficiently to go along with reinstating the judges. But this is not likely to happen. If Sharif doesn't get what he wants he'll have to pull out to save face unless he can get some kind of provisional agreement in place. That could throw the Presidential election into chaos if Sharif's PML-N boycotts the vote.

Paradoxically, the only thing that has been holding Ali Zardari and Sharif together was Musharraf. If they can't keep it together methinks Musharraf will find way his back into power. Maybe not next month but perhaps next year.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama Shouldn't Throw Rocks at Glass Houses

Barack Obama saw an opening when John McCain told he didn't know how many homes he owned.

Obama said, "If you're like me, and you've got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, you might have different perspective."

The McCain campaign responded by stating that Obama lives "in a frickin' mansion." If that wasn't enough they added, "You have a mansion you bought in shady deal with a convicted felon."

Hello, convicted felon Tony Rezko.

In 2005, Obama bought a home in Chicago for $300,000 less than the asking price the same day Rezko's wife bought the adjoining property. Coincidence? Perhaps. But the following year Obama bought 10 feet of the the adjoining property from Rezko's wife for $60,000 above the assessed value.

It might be absent minded for McCain not to know how many houses he and his wife own. But it doesn't appear McCain ever entered into a business deal with a convicted felon to buy those properties. Obama might only own one home but doing business with Tony Rezko doesn't demonstrate sound judgment.

I'm afraid Obama is throwing rocks at glass houses.

Gene Upshaw, 1945-2008. R.I.P.

Gene Upshaw, the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, has died at the age of 63. Upshaw just turned 63 on August 15th. Two days later Upshaw was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Three days later he's gone.

Pancreatic cancer kills fast. Symptoms seldom present early on and by the time you know something's wrong the cancer has metastatized and it's too late.

Prior to becoming involved in players union, Upshaw had a brilliant NFL career with the Oakland Raiders playing on three Super Bowl teams. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Chretien Slams Harper Over Not Attending Opening Ceremonies in Beijing

When I spoke with my brother over the phone a couple of days ago, he asked me if I had heard what former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien had said about current Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I told him that I hadn't heard.

It turns out Chretien blasted Harper for not attending the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics earlier this month. "We established very good relations, relatively speaking, with China," Chretien said, "And suddenly, you break off the bridge. It would have been easy just to be there."

Well, I don't know that Harper's absence "broke off the bridge". David Emerson, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, attended the opening ceremonies. But it is certainly true Harper is far more critical of the Chinese Communists than Chretien. Indeed, Harper publicly had an audience with the Dalai Lama last October which did not please Beijing. In 2006, Harper also spearheaded an effort to bestow honorary Canadian citizenship onto the Dalai Lama which has been noted the Liberals fully supported.

When my brother told me of the ex-Liberal Prime Minister's defense of China I immediately thought of Chretien's business interests as he has been in the private sector since leaving politics in 2002. Chretien does work for the Montreal based Power Corporation and has travelled to China on a number of occasions on its behalf.

Jason Kenney, a Minister in Harper's Conservative government, said as much. "I think it reconfirms that Mr. Chretien and the Liberals have always pursued a policy in this area calculated to their own personal financial interests and those of rich and powerful friends," said Kenney, "It's no mistake that Mr. Chretien was calculating his retirement income in his relations in this area...a few weeks after he left the premiership that he was being signed on as a consultant to multinational companies with commercial interests in this area."

Americans will remember Chretien as the Prime Minister who refused to send troops to Iraq and whom one of his advisers referred to President Bush as "a moron."

Poor Clay Buchholz

A year ago Clay Buchholz was on top of the world.

On September 1, 2007, in only his second major league appearance, Buchholz was welcomed into the hearts of Red Sox Nation when he tossed a no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles.

Instant celebrity. Got a World Series ring. Dated a Penthouse playmate.

Well, 2008 has not gone so well for Buchholz. Expected to be a fixture in the starting rotation, Buchholz has struggled. He went on the 15 day disabled list after he tore his fingernail and then rehabbed at Pawtucket. Since returning from Pawtucket, Buchholz has gone 0-6 with an 8.47 ERA. If that doesn't mean anything to you I can tell you that's very, very bad. Overall, he's 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA. He looks unfocused and very unsure of himself. Buchholz has a bad habit of throwing over to first base when the runner hasn't even taken a lead off the bag. He doesn't want to throw the ball to the plate.

Last night, he faced the Orioles and unlike his masterpiece from a year ago, Buchholz lasted only two and a third innings giving up five runs on three hits, three walks, a hit batsmen and no strikeouts. After the game Buchholz was demoted to Double-A Portland to get his head on straight.

Hopefully he will make a greater contribution to the Sox in 2009. But it just goes to show you that baseball can make you humble just as quickly as it can make you immortal.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones, 1949-2008. R.I.P.

Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones died last night after suffering a hemorrage as a result of an aneurysm while driving her car near Cleveland on Tuesday. Tubbs Jones, first elected to Congress as a Democrat in 1998, was only 58.

Brain aneurysms are frightening to me because they can happen without warning and there's usually very little one can do. Of course, there are people who survive a brain aneurysm. Former major leaguer John Olerud comes to mind. It happened to him before he entered the bigs when he played college baseball at Washington State as a 20 year old. He survived but had to wear a batting helmet while playing the field.

Tubbs Jones was the first African American woman elected to Congress from Ohio. Yet she bucked the trend of most African American Democrats and remained an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton. She only lent her support to Obama when Hillary suspended her campaign. Tubbs Jones faced no opposition in the Democratic primary and would have most certainly be re-elected to a sixth term.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Begala Compares Lieberman to Barry Bonds

Former Clinton adviser Paul Begala today compared Joe Lieberman to Barry Bonds when it was announced that the Senator from Connecticut would be speaking at the GOP Convention on September 1st in St. Paul.

"Joe will be very happy in the Republican party where the dominant ethic is selfishness. He's just like Barry Bonds when it comes to selfishness," said Begala.

Hmmm, come to think of it Lieberman has looked a little more ripped of late.

All this tells me is that the Democrats are in a tizzy about Lieberman much in the same way they were when Zell Miller spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.

Rudy to Keynote GOP Convention

Today, it was announced that former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Giuliani will address the Convention on Tuesday, September 2nd.

If nothing else, Giuliani will undoubtedly remind Republicans why he was considered the odds on favorite to be the GOP standard bearer, his pro-choice position notwithstanding. Look for Rudy to sock it to Obama and for delegates cheer him on raucously. He will also sing the praises of John McCain with the delegates joining him on the chorus.

Yes, Rudy was my first choice for the White House. However, as we all learned this year, if you want to be President you must make Iowa and New Hampshire your second and third home.

Get Well Yaz

Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday after complaining of chest pains. He then underwent a successful triple bypass procedure.

Yaz is in good hands at MGH. I should know. I was there several times last year including on Christmas when I had to undergo emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder.

The 68 year old spent his entire 23 year major league career with the Red Sox. His best season came in 1967 when he became the last major leaguer to win a Triple Crown (leading the league in batting average, homeruns and RBIs). It earned him the American League MVP. 1967 was the Impossible Dream season where the Sox went from also rans to American League Champions.

Yaz was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988 and had his number retired at Fenway Park in 1989. Aside from Yaz, only Ted Williams, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Carlton Fisk (and, of course, Jackie Robinson) have had their numbers retired at Fenway.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Random House Arbritarily Censors Book on Islam

I just read an item on about Random House cancelling publication of Sherry Jones' forthcoming book The Jewel of Medina. It was due to hit stores next Tuesday but fearing violent protests a la Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses or the Jylland-Postens cartoons, Random House arbitrarily withdrew its support.

The book is said to be racy and depicts the consumation of marriage between the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride Aisha. One might not like such passages but one then need not purchase the book or take it out from the library.

Random House knew what is was publishing and just chickened out. Somehow I doubt Random House would have any reservations about publishing a book about such relations between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. It should be noted that nearly four decades before Martin Scorcese directed the theatrical release, The Last Temptation of Christ was originally published in 1951 by Simon & Schuster).

In other words, Rosie O'Donnell is wrong. Christian fundamentalism is not the same as Islamic fundamentalism. I am unaware of Christian fundamentalists beheading anyone in Wichita much less calling for it due to some transgression, real or imagined. No one will die as a result of listening to the song "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" in the forthcoming film Hamlet 2. Needless to say, the writers of Hamlet 2 would not have dared penned a song about the Prophet Muhammad getting down and funky even if they were able to get Cat Stevens to agree to sing it.

Levy Mwanawasa, 1948-2008. R.I.P.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa died today in Paris due to complications from a stroke he sustained on June 29th on the eve of an African Union summit in Egypt. He would have been 60 on September 3rd.

Mwanawasa had been President since 2002. In recent months, he had become noted as a staunch critic of Zimbabwe's President for Life Robert Mugabe and was the first African head of state to publicly criticize Mugabe.

Rupiah Banda, who has served as Acting President since Mwanawasa fell ill, will remain in that role.

Zambia, like Zimbabwe, is very poor and is coping with the HIV/AIDS virus. However, unlike Zimbabwe, Zambia has been practicing multi-party democracy since 1990 and transparency has improved albeit slowly. While Mwanawasa had his authoritarian impulses, he was by and large a fairly competent head of state who was gearing Zambia in the right direction.

McCain To Name VP on Aug 29th in Dayton, OH

So McCain will make the announcement the day after the Democratic Convention concludes which will eat away at any bump from Obama's speech at Mile High Stadium.

Ohio is also the bellweather of the nation. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. The Buckeye State also tends to back Presidential winners be they Democrat or Republican. The only time Ohio hasn't backed a winner was in 1944 with Tom Dewey and in 1960 with Richard Nixon. So history might not be on McCain's side even if he does win Ohio.

What I find most interesting is that he will make the announcement in Dayton. Could this mean McCain is picking Rob Portman? The former Congressman, former U.S. Trade Representative and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget is from the Cincinnati area which is about 50 miles south of Dayton. If it is Portman then announcing in Cincinnati would have been a dead giveaway. Portman has been mentioned as a potential running mate although not with the same frequency as Romney, Pawlenty or Tom Ridge. If it is Portman I don't have a problem apart from the lack of name recognition outside Ohio and the Beltway. Of course, that would be quickly overcome in due course.

A few weeks ago I wrote that Pawlenty would be his best choice. ( I still would go with Pawlenty although I wouldn't mind if he picked Eric Cantor. I'd even be happy for Lieberman although I think that's not likely. For me, anybody but Romney.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Musharraf Resigns; Was The Author Of His Own Misfortune

Pervez Musharraf has resigned as President of Pakistan to avoid impeachment.

Goodbye and good riddance.

Yes, Pakistan is still a very, very dangerous place and it remains to be seen how long Ali Zardari's people and Sharif's people can co-exist.

Will they try to prosecute Musharraf criminally? That might keep them united for awhile.

Or will they let him leave? Of course, the risk is if that things do go wrong he could come back from exile via a military coup.

There are efforts to reduce the powers of the President to a largely ceremonial role.

Will Gilani remain as Prime Minister or will there be a struggle between Ali Zardari and Sharif for that office?

Most importantly, will Pakistan be more effective in combatting the Taliban and al Qaeda in Musharraf's absence?

All of this remains to be seen. But Musharraf didn't get the job done and the fact that Condi Rice said his departure was an "internal matter" indicates to me that the Administration thinks "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."

Musharraf was heavyhanded where it concerned the sacking of judges and the actions he took during last fall's state of emergency. But worst of all was his reaction to Benazir Bhutto's assassination. That his government would say that she died by bumping her head was disrespectful beyond belief. That Musharraf would say her assassination was her own fault rather than condemning those who killed her demonstrates what sort of human being he is. Whether he was complicit in the assassination will probably never be known but he clearly didn't shed a tear over it. Well, I do not shed a tear over his political demise.

He was the author of his own misfortune.

Michael Phelps is Golden

I have largely avoided watching the Olympics but I did catch Michael Phelps eighth and final Gold Medal in the Mens 400 metre medley relay on Saturday when he eclipsed Mark Spitz for the most individual gold medals in any Olympics. Throw in the six golds he won in Athens in 2004 and youhave the most decorated Olympic athlete in history.

Perhaps most importantly Phelps pushes us over the top for the medal count. The United States currently has 72 medals whereas China has 67. If not for Phelps, the Chinese could claim the Communist system surpasses ours. I won't liken Phelps to Jesse Owens but he certainly puts a dent into the Chinese propaganda machine.

McCain Shines at Saddleback Forum

Rachel's article on the Saddleback Forum is excellent.

I would add only two things.

First, obviously McCain exceeded virtually everyone's expectations. There were a lot of conservatives, especially at NRO, who thought this would be a highlight reel for Obama and that McCain would just go along and say me too. But this was McCain at his finest. In fact, I think it's the McCain you see at his town hall meetings only this time it was in front of a national audience. You can see why he won over people to his side. Hopefully, he acquits himself as well at the Presidential debates in the fall.

Second, his sense of humor. Much of it was self-deprecating and when he employs it he comes off as a human being with a touch of humility rather than someone who can lift oceans.

Bottom line here is that I don't think Democrats should be buying homes in the DC Metro Area just yet.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Jerry Wexler, 1917-2008. R.I.P.

Jerry Wexler, the man who coined the term "rhythm and blues", died today of congenital heart disease. He was 91.

After writing for Billboard magazine, Wexler joined Atlantic Records in the early 1950s and produced amongst others Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Dusty Springfield. Wexler was also signed a distribution deal with Stax Records in Memphis and would lend them Atlantic artists to Stax like Sam & Dave. Not to be outdone, Wexler also signed Led Zeppelin to Atlantic Records.

In later years, Wexler produced Bob Dylan's born again Christian album Slow Train Coming as well as an early version of George Michael's "Careless Whisper".

President of Botswana to Boycott SADC Summit

Sereste Khama Ian Khama, the new President of Botswana, has announced that he will be boycotting this weekend's Southern African Development Community meeting in Johannesburg due to the presence of Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe is expected to be high on the summit's agenda. However, Mugabe has prevented opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai from attending the meeting as his travel documents were seized along with that of Movement for Democratic Change Secretary General Tendai Biti. It is believed that Mugabe has reached a power sharing agreement with Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the other faction of the MDC.

One might not think much of Khama's announcement but it is significant. Other African leaders have criticized Mugabe but none has publicly refused to share the stage with him.

Look at it this way. Botswana is the anti-Zimbabwe. It is by far the most stable country on the African continent. It has been independent since 1966. Granted only the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has ever held office but there are regular elections every five years with the next one scheduled for 2009. There has never been a military coup and its white minority population is treated with respect and fully participates in Botswana's civil society.

So it is fitting that the President of Africa's most stable nation would take a stand against the President of Africa's most unstable nation.

McCain: "We Are All Georgians Now."

These might be the four words that get McCain elected President.

Do we want a President who can dance with Ellen DeGeneres?

Or do we want a President who can look Putin in the eye and make him blink?

The choice is ours.

Russia Is Not Our Friend

I think this has been the case for some time now. For goodness sake, the Russians more than any other regime were responsible for keeping Saddam Hussein in power and were the biggest beneficiaries of the Oil for Food Program.

The Russians have ambitions in the Arctic, Ukraine, Georgia and frankly all of Eastern Europe.

Let us also not forget their support for Iran's nuclear programme. Hell, it's building a nuclear reactor at Bushehr which is due to go online next year.

Then let us also consider their repression of political liberties at home. Opposition politicians are arrested. Newspapers are shut down. Journalists are murdered.

Their aims and objectives are contrary to America's aims and objectives.

They are not our friends. We should not be enter into agreements with Russia because they will not honor them.

The United States and its NATO allies must nip this in the bud. If they don't we'll pay the price for years to come.

Of course, I hope war is avoided. But often hope isn't enough.

U.S. & Poland Agree to Anti-Missile Defense

U.S. officials, of course, insist that this agreement to place a ballistic missile defense system in Poland isn't intended to antagonize Russia. But given Russia's aggression and belligerence in Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia there can be little doubt those events sped up negotiations between the U.S. and Poland which had been languishing for the last year and a half.

Well, we got the Russians attention. General Anatoly Nogovitsyn believes such a system is aimed at Russia and states this agreement "cannot go unpunished" and that Poland "was exposing itself to a strike - 100 per cent."

If Russia decides to invade Poland it's WWIII. And unlike the first two World Wars, we do not have the luxury to wait.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gwatney Did Not Know His Killer

When I wrote about the tragic murder of Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney yesterday, I mentioned the murder of former Congressman Allard Lowenstein in 1980 and wondered if Gwatney knew his killer.

According to Little Rock Police, Gwatney did not know Tim Johnson. What is known is that Johnson was either fired or quit his job at a Target Store. Police were called to the store yesterday after Johnson sprawled grafitti on their property and had become irate.

Of course, what possessed Johnson to go to Democratic Party headquarters and seek out Gwatney will never be known.

One wonders if Johnson, like Dennis Sweeney, had a history of mental illness and had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia? Or did just have a really bad temper? Or did a lifetime of pent up resentment just explode? Whatever the reason, a man is dead, a woman is widowed and four children no longer have a father.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Murdered

Tragedy struck at the Arkansas Democratic Party headquarters in Little Rock this afternoon when a man shot and killed Bill Gwatney, the state Democratic Party chairman.

The man, who has been identified by some news outlets as Tim Johnson, came into the office wanting to speak with Gwatney. When a secretary told Johnson that Gwatney was unavailable he went past her into Gwatney's office and proceeded to shoot him. Gwatney would die of his injuries while in the hospital.

Johnson fled the scene where he was chased by police for approximately 30 miles. At the end of the chase, gunfire was exchanged and Johnson was shot. He would later die in hospital.

Needless to say, the motive behind the killing is likely not to ever be known.

The obvious question in my mind is whether Gwatnee knew Johnson?

I ask the question because the first thing that crossed my mind when I heard that Gwatnee had been shot was Allard Lowenstein.

Al Lowenstein was a former U.S. Congressman from New York who dedicated his life to a variety of liberal causes. He was working on Ted Kennedy's bid to wrest the Democratic nomination from Jimmy Carter when on March 14, 1980 he was shot and killed by Dennis Sweeney. In the 1960s, Lowenstein served as the dean of Stern Hall, a men's dormitory at Stanford University. It was there he met and befriended Sweeney and became something of a mentor to him. Sweeney would become active in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movement. However, Sweeney would also become afflicted with mental illness and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia believing that Lowenstein was plotting against him.

Of course, this could be apples and oranges. But when I heard about this shooting, Al Lowenstein was the first person to come to my mind.

Whatever the case, this whole thing is truly awful.

Kristol: Powell To Endorse Obama; Speak at Democratic Convention

Like most, I didn't think this "Republicans for Obama" thing had any legs. I mean Jim Leach, Lincoln Chafee. The usual suspects.

But I see on that Bill Kristol is reporting that former Secretary of State Colin Powell is endorsing Barack Obama and will speak on his behalf at the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.

Given that this is coming from Kristol, who serves McCain as a foreign policy advisor, this is very big. This is a big shot in the arm for Obama. Especially having been put on the defensive by McCain's recent series of celebrity ads.

Colin Powell is a moderate African American who served honorably in the military and with distinction in government. He is well thought of enough that many Americans wanted him to do what Obama is doing now although he for whatever reason declined.

Of course, it's no secret Powell has been a critic of President Bush's policy in Iraq and other foreign policy matters although he has had little to say about it himself. Until now. No doubt he will have plenty to say at the Democratic National Convention.

Colin Powell might be the one American whom folks currently sitting on the fence might be eager to listen.

Should Obama win in November this might very well represent the moment he clinches the White House.

Still, there are 83 days left until the election. If a week in politics is a lifetime, eight weeks is an eternity.

Randy Newman Has No Reason To Live

I see where Randy Newman has compared John McCain to Hitler. (

Newman, who has just released his first new studio album in nearly a decade, was asked by Blender Magazine to evaluate Barack Obama and John McCain's Top 10 songs.

In evaluating McCain's list which included the Beach Boys, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra and two songs by ABBA, Newman quipped, "McCain has a really likeable list. Then again, Hitler liked some good music, you know?"

It's an obviously stupid comparison.

Which is why I wonder if Newman really meant it.

You must remember Newman is most famous for singing about "short people who have no reason to live". I've listened to enough of Newman's other material (most notably the late Harry Nilsson's Nilsson Sings Newman) to conjecture that he doesn't really think McCain is Hitler.

However, I still think what he said is daft. Given Newman's enormous writing talent and biting humor I would have thought him capable of coming up with something a little more interesting and a little less predictable and frankly boring.

Red Sox 19 Rangers 17

No, the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers did not play football yesterday although at times the Sox could have used the help of the New England Patriots' special teams.

The Red Sox got off to a 10-0 lead in the 1st inning. "Big Papi" David Ortiz hit two three run homeruns. By the 3rd, they were up 12-2. Knuckleballer Charlie Zink was making his major league debut with what appeared to be a very comfortable lead.

But the Rangers can hit. They scored 8 runs in the 5th capped by a three run homerun by Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler. The Sox now only led 12-10.

Big Papi nearly hit his third homerun of the game but the umpires ruled fan interference and Ortiz was awarded second base. No trouble. Kevin Youkilis hit a two run homerun to make it 14-10.

Only the Rangers had other plans as they scored five runs in the top of the 6th to take a 15-14 lead. They then added a run in the 7th on a double by Marlon Byrd who had first career five hit game.

The Sox added a run of their own in the 7th to cut the Rangers lead to 16-15. If the Sox had lost this game after leading 10-0 that would have been bad. But Youkilis came to the rescue by hitting a three run homerun in the bottom of the 8th. It was his second of the game and it gave the Sox a 19-16 lead.

Youkilis almost went from hero to goat as he committed an error at third base which would eventually allow another Rangers run to score. Youk had just moved from first base to third when Mike Lowell had to leave the game with strained oblique muscle. The normally flawless defender also made an error at first earlier in the evening. But with two homeruns and five RBIs it was enough to give the Sox a 19-17 victory.

I bet you anything that tonight's game between the Sox and Rangers will be 1-0 or 2-1. That's why I love baseball. Every game is a different story.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Adam Dunn Comes To Arizona

The Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired outfielder-first baseman Adam Dunn from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor league pitcher Dallas Buck and two players to be named later.

This is the D'Backs answer to the Dodgers and Manny Ramirez. Like the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks are in need of a prolific power hitter. While their power outage is not as acute as the Dodgers was they only have one player on the team with more than 20 homeruns and that is third baseman Mark Reynolds.

Yes, Dunn strikes out over 150 times a year but he also walks over 100 times a year and has a reasonable on base percentage. This is a good pick up for Arizona.

For all of Manny Ramirez's great production in L.A. the Dodgers are 5-5 since acquiring him from Boston and are still a game behind the D'Backs in the NL West. The D'Backs have superior pitching and the acquisition of Dunn should help Arizona reach the postseason for the second consecutive season.

Monday, August 11, 2008

McCain Tells Russia To Stand Down in Georgia

John McCain has told Russia to "stand down" its arms in Georgia. Russia has shown naked aggression against Georgia in the South Ossetia region and thousands of civilians have been killed as a result. South Ossetia has declared itself independent from Georgia since the early 1990s but no one recognizes this outside of Russia which has actively armed the separatist movements as a way of destabilizing Georgia.

McCain further stated that Russia's actions would result in "severe, long-term negative consequences" vis a vis its relationships with the United States and Europe. While Barack Obama has condemned the violence he has not condemned the Russians and has urged the UN Security Council meet. Yes, I'm sure the Russians will really be quite receptive to a resolution concerning its actions in Georgia.

The Russians want to reassert themselves as a world power. They will do so at the expense of the United States and its allies. John McCain will stare down the Russians until they blink. Does anyone honestly think Obama can go toe to toe with Putin much less his puppet Medvedev?

Isaac Hayes, 1943-2008. R.I.P.

Singer/actor Isaac Hayes was found dead in his Memphis home yesterday next to a running treadmill. Hayes died ten days shy of his 66th birthday.

Hayes was best known for two things. He was known first for singing the theme of the movie Shaft for which he won an Academy Award. Hayes was also known to younger audiences as the voice of Chef on the long running animated series South Park. Hayes left the series in 2006 after an episode that lampooned Scientology, of which Hayes was a member. However, there has been some dispute to this as Hayes left the series after suffering a stroke thus leaving some debate as to whether he left of his own volition or was somehow compelled to do by his fellow Scientologists.

Hayes was working on his first album since 1995 at the time of his death. He will also have a cameo role in the film Soul Men starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac, who died on Saturday. The film is due out in November.

However, Hayes lived the past couple years of his life perhaps its best to remember him as the characters in South Park remembered Chef "as the jolly old guy who always broke into song."

Bernie Mac, 1950-2008. R.I.P.

Comedian Bernie Mac died on Saturday from complications of sarcoidosis. Not only I had never heard of the disease I did not realize he had been ill. He was only 50.

I didn't really follow his work although I was aware of it - The Kings of Comedy, The Bernie Mac Show (my parents actually quite liked that show) and his recurring role in the Ocean's Eleven films with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, et al.

He had just finished work on a film called Soul Men which is due to be released in November which is about two soul singers who reunite without speaking to each other for two decades. Curiously, there is a cameo in the film by Isaac Hayes who died yesterday.

Friday, August 8, 2008

My Thoughts on the Beijing Olympics

So the Beijing Olympics commenced today with the Opening Ceremonies with President Bush in attendancenotwithstanding his tough words for the Chinese government yesterday. Although there was a push to have world leaders boycott the Opening Ceremonies I knew it wouldn't come to fruition. China is simply too powerful an economic power. Communism has lasted in China because there's money in it. Economic freedom has not led to political freedom.

Of course, these boycotts only tend to hurt the athletes partaking in these events. The U.S. boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980 and the Soviets boycott of the Los Angeles Games in 1984 prove it.

Boycott or no boycott, I have little interest in the Olympics. The only thing I will probably watch is the Olympic Baseball Tournament. Given that baseball will not be played at the 2012 Games in London it might be worth a look although the World Baseball Classic will do a nice job in filling that void. Still, Olympic Baseball takes a back seat to Major League Baseball any day of the week.

Still, China leaves a lot to be desired - it's support of dictatorial regimes around the world, its own housing of political prisoners and suppression of religious freedom for starters.

Our best bet is to hope our American athletes can decisively beat Chinese athletes when they face head to head in the medal counts.

And, of course, it's always nice to see Canada win medals too.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Musharraf To Face Impeachment Proceedings

Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, who haven't been on the same page lately, have announced that impeachment proceedings will commence against President Musharraf. This has prompted Musharraf to cancel his trip to Beijing to view the Olympics.

I'm sure this decision has been in some way prompted by the infiltration of the Taliban into Pakistan's intelligence service. The question is will Musharraf dissolve parliament as a preemptive strike against impeachment proceedings.

If he is stupid enough to do so, Pakistan will explode.

Favre Traded to the New York Jets

Only days after reporting to Packers training camp where he never had the opportunity to practice and with the Packers making it clear they did not want Brett Favre around have traded him to the New York Jets for a fourth round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Favre for a 4th Round Draft Pick?

My sympathies have been with the Packers from the outset. If Favre didn't want to retire he shouldn't have. He put the Packers into a terrible position. Aaron Rodgers has been patiently waiting for his opportunity to be a starting QB. But the way the Packers have handled it going as far as to say there would be a QB competition between Favre and Rodgers was completely disingenuous. Now they've placed Rodgers in a completely unenviable position. Unless, Rodgers gets them to the Superbowl he is going to be looked upon as a failure and the Green Bay fans won't let him forget it.

The Jets, on the other hand, have nothing to lose. They've struggled in recent years finishing 4-12. Remember they play in the same facility as the defending Superbowl Champion New York Giants. By acquiring Favre, the Jets have assured themselves more press than Eli Manning and the Giants. Goodbye Chad Pennington. Of course, the Jets need more than Favre to turn around. But they should be better this season. Favre makes his home debut with the Jets on September 14th against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Everybody, and I mean everybody, will be watching this game.

The Packers and Jets are not scheduled to meet during the 2008-2009 NFL season. But imagine if they were to meet in the Superbowl? The odds are very much against it but the sports press would love it as would the fans.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Paris Hilton Responds to McCain; McCain Replies With Good Humor

You know the John McCain celeb ad is working when Paris Hilton takes time away from getting a tan to record a rebuttal which can be found at

The scary thing is that her energy plan actually makes sense.

The McCain campaign has taken her ad in stride stating,"In reality Paris Hilton may have a more substantive energy policy than Barack Obama."

As I've said before comparing Obama to Paris Hilton is an insult to Hilton's intelligence.

No word though if Britney Spears will include a song about McCain on her new album. Perhaps she'll record of Neil Young's Old Man.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America Should Drop Prince Fielder As A Spokesman

Last night, Milwaukee Brewers slugger Prince Fielder physically attacked his teammateManny Parra by shoving him twice onto the bench in the dugout. Fielder was swiftly restrained by his other teammates. Parra was the Brewers starting pitcher last night and had a bad outing against the Cincinnati Reds giving up six runs in six innings. When Parra was removed for a pinch hitter in the 7th inning, he appeared to have words with Fielder and seemed to indicate he was going to the clubhouse instead of remaining in the dugout for the balance of the inning. This is when Fielder attacked him.

Several things about this incident bothered me. First, the fact that Fielder actually assaulted and did so in such a public fashion. Second, was Brewers manager Ned Yost telling reporters that asking him about the fight was as rude as going over to your neighbors house to ask about a fight after its happened. Um, well, if there's a fight at your neighbor's house and either a spouse is being attacked or a child is being abused or is witnessing abuse it is entirely appropriate to either warn your neighbors about refraining from such activity or calling in the authorities. Third, was the attitude of ESPN's Baseball Tonight panel especially John Kruk who seemed to condone Fielder's actions and that Parra's behavior somehow warranted physical violence. To be sure, baseball has had a long history of violence between teammates. The Oakland A's of the early 1970s that won three consecutive World Series were notorious for such behavior. But it took place in the clubhouse away from the public, especially impressionable children.

This brings me to my final point. Prince Fielder is one of a number of spokesmen for The Boys & Girls Clubs of America & appears in one of their TV commercials talking with a young boy. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America emphasizes their facilities and activities are "a safe place for kids." If Prince Fielder thinks its a good idea to assault his teammates in the dugout for all to see including children I hardly think he is an appropriate or suitable person to represent The Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Thus I think the Boys & Girls Clubs of America should drop Fielder as a spokesman and pull his commercial from the airwaves.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Suggested Gifts for Barack Obama

Today is Barack Obama's 47th birthday.

What does one give The Annoited One to celebrate the day of his birth? What present can satiate a man who can move oceans?

Well, his advisers had something in mind but have lost it inside the trunk of a car.

The McCain Campaign suggests tire guages mocking Obama's suggestion that Americans check the air in their tires to save energy.

Here are some of my own suggestions:

1. Your hard earned money.
2. A DVD Box Set of The Very Best of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
3. A gift certificate to the local bowling alley.
4. A book about the liberation of Auschwitz.
5. A Ludacris CD.
6. Sign a pledge that you will never criticize The Annoited One in His Holy Presence.

Novak Retires; Calls Prognosis "Dire"

Syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who last week was diagnosed with a brain tumor, has announced his retirement. He initially announced he was on indefinite leave but hoped to resume writing after "not too lengthy period."

However, Novak told The Chicago Sun Times today that his prognosis was "dire" and that he would soon begin a regime of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

This doesn't sound good at all.

Folk Music Meets Football

I don't know if anyone has viewed the latest Reebok commercial featuring a score of NFL players including the Manning brothers. But it is one of the two best commercials I have probably ever viewed. This is due to the choice of music utilized in the commercial. It is an obscure folk song simply titled Train Song which was recorded in 1966 by British singer named Vashti Bunyan. ( The gently arranged ballad serves as a soundtrack for the impending arrival of the NFL season. What an extraordinary juxtaposition between folk music and football. If you can't enough of the song you can see the full length version here (

When I heard this song, it reminded me of the Volkswagen commercial in 2000 which featured the Nick Drake's 1972 song Pink Moon. ( This commercial brought incredible exposure to Nick Drake on this side of the Atlantic that he never enjoyed in all too brief life. Drake died in 1974 at the age of 26.

Both songs and their singers have an ethereal quality to them. However, unlike Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan is alive and well and enjoying a renaissance after being absent from the music scene for over three decades.

One can rail against commercialization and the commodification of music. But if car commercials and shoe commercials featuring NFL players are what it takes for a broad audience to discover the likes of Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan then so be it.

Interestingly, both Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan shared the same producer, Joe Boyd. Although Boyd wasn't involved in producing either of the songs used in the commercials he did produce Drake's first two albums as well as Bunyan's debut album in 1970.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1918-2008. R.I.P.

George already has a full length piece up on Solzhenitsyn this morning so there probably isn't much more that I can add.

Solzhenitsyn became the first internationally known Soviet dissident whose writings about the gulags who confirmed the West's worst fears about Soviet Communism.

However, unlike other Soviet dissidents like Natan Sharansky or Gary Kasparov, Solzhenitsyn had a profound distaste for Western style democracy and after nearly two decades in America he returned to Russia in 1994. In recent years, Solzhenitsyn had become more nationalistic in his views and became supportive of Vladimir Putin. He was strangely silent when it came to Putin's treatment of Kasparov and other foes of Putin. Then again he had also been ill for years and perhaps he just didn't have the strength.

Still, Solzhenitsyn's first hand critique cannot and must never be overlooked where it concerns the decline and eventual fall of Soviet Communism.

Skip Caray, 1939-2008. R.I.P.

Yesterday, long time Atlanta Braves announcer Skip Caray died from complications of diabetes. He would have turned 69 on August 12th.

Caray is best known for his TV and radio broadcast work for the Atlanta Braves which he began in 1976. Since the Braves were up until last season carried by TBS, Caray had a following throughout North America especially in locales that did not have a local baseball team.

Skip's father, of course, was the legendary Harry Caray who broadcast for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Oakland A's but most famously the Chicago Cubs.

In recent years, Skip was joined in the broadcast booth by his son Chip Caray. Sadly, Chip Caray learned of his father's death while doing the play by play during yesterday's game between the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees for TBS Sunday Afternoon Baseball.

Skip Caray also broadcast football and basketball games. His health had declined within the last year and came close to death in late 2007. However, he recovered sufficiently to resume broadcasting Braves home games this season. His called his final game on Thursday.

Brett Favre Reinstated

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday reinstated Brett Favre, who retired as the Green Bay Packers quarterback only five months ago.

For the past month, however, Favre has had a hankering to go play again but the Packers had resisted having committed to Aaron Rodgers being the new starting quarterback. The Packers position is understandable. If Favre wanted to play in 2008-2009 so badly why did he retire in the first place? With folks like Michael Jordan and Roger Clemens retiring and unretiring with the frequency of a light switch going on and off I should have known that wouldn't be Favre's last act.

I have no doubt Favre can still play. After all, he helped get the Packers to the NFC Final against the New York Giants earlier this year. The Packers now state there will be an open competition for the QB position between Favre and Rodgers.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pro-life demonstrators arrested: "We'll come up with a reason later"

From Les Femmes, The Women of Truth -

Dear Friends,

I often talk about the persecution against Christians being alive and well in this country. Here is a perfect example. Last Friday, August 1st DEFEND LIFE of Baltimore was attending the last stop of their week-long 2008 Face the Truth Tour. For a week a group of pro-lifers travels around the tri-state area (MD, D.C., and VA) with large signs showing the reality of abortion. They visit three cities a day. This annual event has been taking place for eight years without incident -- until now.

Here's the information we are getting from those who were there:

"It was the last day of the Face the Truth Tour Friday August 1, 2008 at the last stop around 4:20 when state Trooper for Hartford County named Bradley demanded the team members put their signs down and move or be arrested. So Jack Ames and his team moved down the highway and inside the city limits of Belair, Maryland itself. They set up all the signs and were peacefully praying and standing quietly when an armada of twenty police cars appeared on the horizon. Without a word eighteen members of the Face the Truth Tour members were handcuffed with their hands behind their backs. Two of the members had problems with their pulses because the cuffs were so tights. They waited thirty minutes for the paddy wagon.

"The men and women were obviously in separate cells Although they could hear each other and joined in singing together songs like Ava Maria, Holy God, and Our Father.

"It took until today Saturday August 2, 2008 at 10:45 for the last of the pro-lifers to be released. They all were charged with loitering, unlawful orders, and disorderly.

"The state fair was taking place and Sue went to the fair and located house delegates and had them call the state attorney's office and found out that the number one person who is pro life was out of town and number two person gave permission for a mass arrest of 18 pro-lifers. Also, Joan, one of the pro-lifers, was with a woman who had been arrested and in a police car who overheard a conversation over the police radio which said, 'go ahead and arrest them and we will figure out what to charge them later.'

"Seems like a lawsuit for false arrest will follow."

The police in Bel Air are in for a big surprise. Many of these pro-lifers are veterans of the rescue movement. They will not roll over and play dead in the face of constitutional violations and false arrest.

Please pray for these pro-life warriors. I have joined in the Face the Truth Tour in Winchester, VA on several occasions and it is always peaceful and prayerful. Would these folks be arrested if they stood with "Honk for Hillary" or "Change with Barrack," or "Vote McCain?" Not likely. Their message, however, is politically incorrect and unwelcome, the very reason the first amendment protected their activities.

For more photos and a press release from Operation Rescue go to

Please call or email the Archbishop of Baltimore, Most Rev. Edwin O'Brien, and ask for his assistance for these dear sheep of his flock. Jack Ames, the president of DEFEND LIFE is a fixture in the Archdiocese who has worked tirelessly for the unborn and for the faith. He and his little flock need the support of their shepherd. What happened to them is an outrageous abuse of police authority.

Archdiocese of Baltimore

20 Cathedral Street

Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Phone: 410-547-5437

Fax: 410-727-8234

Saturday, August 2, 2008


This site is a riot...

Jason Bay, You're Not in Pittsburgh Anymore

The Boston Red Sox new left fielder was greeted with thunderous applause as he approach the plate. Bay was visibly moved by the gesture. At PNC Park in Pittsburgh, the Pirates are lucky to draw 20,000 people a night. That doesn't sound like such a bad number but PNC Park holds nearly 40,000. So their ballpark is nearly half empty. Not that the people of Pittsburgh can be blamed. The Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992. Although PNC Park is considered one of the most beautiful in baseball, Pittsburgh is for all intents and purposes the Siberia of Baseball where players yearn to be freed from exile.

Although Bay did play at Fenway during an interleague series with the Red Sox in 2005 (I attended one of those games) there's nothing like playing in Fenway wearing a Red Sox uniform.
Bay had a fabulous night in his Red Sox debut against the Oakland Athletics. He went 1 for 3 while walking twice and being hit by a pitch. Bay made a spectacular catch in the 5th inning off the bat of Ryan Sweeney which saved a run from scoring. In the 12th, Bay just missed a homerun but settled for a triple. Bay would score the winning run on a Jed Lowrie single to give the Sox a 2-1 extra innings victory. In fact, Bay scored both Sox runs last night.

Across the country, Manny Ramirez went 2 for 4 in his Dodgers debut. He came up representing the winning run in the bottom of the 9th against their division rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks. But D'Backs closer (and former Red Sox teammate) Brandon Lyon induced Manny into hitting into a game ending double play to give the D'Backs a 2-1 victory and a three game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West.

An auspicious debut for Jason Bay. An inauspicious debut for Manny. Perhaps a sign of things to come.

Friday, August 1, 2008

McCain's New Ad Mocking The Annoited One

John McCain hit a raw nerve with the Obama as Britney and Paris ad earlier this week.

So he's put out a new ad which likens Obama to "The One." At one point in the ad, the late Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments parts the Red Sea and out comes Obama's Presidential Seal. (

Obama and the people around him seem to believe he walks on water. They take themselves way too seriously and take these ads way too seriously. As long as they continue to do that, the voters will not take Obama seriously and put McCain in the White House.

If McCain has found the secret chord which leads to the unraveling of Obama he needs to keep playing that tune.

More on the Greyhound Canada Bus Tragedy

Both the alleged killer and victim have been identified in Wednesday's gruesome beheading of a passenger aboard a Greyhound Bus traveling from Edmonton to Winnipeg.

The victim has been identified as Tim McLean, Jr, who was 22. He had been working at a number of carnivals throughout western Canada and was returning home to Winnipeg when he met his fate.

The RCMP have charged Vince Weiguang Li, 40, of Edmonton, Alberta of second degree murder. He is due to be arraigned in court today. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, second degree murder is punishable by imprisonment for life although can be eligible for parole in as early as 10 years. There is no death penalty in Canada.

Don't be surprised if Li's attorney pleads insanity on behalf of his client.

Will Manny Love L.A.? Will Bay Be Accepted in the Bay State?

If you don't know by now, the Boston Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three way deal involving the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Red Sox obtained outfielder Jason Bay from the Pirates who has the unenviable task of filling Manny's shoes. The Bucs, meanwhile, get Red Sox pitcher Craig Hansen and outfielder Brandon Moss as well as infielder Andy La Roche and minor league pitcher Bryan Morris from the Dodgers.

I have submitted an article discussing this trade as well as the talented but enigmatic personality of Manny Ramirez who drove Red Sox Nation as far as he hit balls onto Lansdowne Street. I hope it will be up soon.

In any case, Manny makes his Dodgers debut tonight against their division rival the Arizona Diamondbacks while Bay makes his debut in the Bay State against the Oakland Athletics.

Life is never boring in Red Sox Nation.