Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Watch & ask questions at Jan. 5 RNC chair debate

Don't miss the debate for Republican National Committee chair on Jan. 5 at 1pm EST, live from the National Press Club. You can start submitting questions now to Americans for Tax Reform, and watch it live on RNCDebate.org. You won't want to miss it because there is more than one excellent candidate for conservatives.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Move over Drudge, the new conservative media has their own #TCOT report

This is too cool, the conservative new media movement has started a webpage along the lines of Drudge Report with updated info on itself. Check it out to see what's going on and what leading conservatives have joined Twitter.

Are The Red Sox A Penny Wise?

The Boston Red Sox have signed free agent pitcher Brad Penny to a one-year contract worth $5 million pending a physical. Penny could earn up to $8 million in 2009 with bonuses and incentives.

Penny has pitched in the majors since 2000. He has spent his entire major league career in the NL first with the Florida Marlins and then the Los Angeles Dodgers. Penny earned a World Series ring with the Marlins in 2003.

Penny joined the Dodgers in the middle of the 2004 season. He won 16 games with the Dodgers both in 2006 and 2007. In 2006, Penny was named the starting pitcher for the NL in the All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. However, 2008 was not a good year for Penny. He went 6-9 with an awful 6.27 ERA. He had two stints on the DL because of shoulder trouble and did not pitch for the Dodgers in the postseason. The Dodgers declined to pick up his option for 2009 thus making him a free agent.

Despite 2008 being a down year for Penny I think this is a smart move for the Red Sox. Penny is reunited with Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett who also had a subpar 2008 season. Beckett and Penny will not only renew their acquaintance but will renew a friendly competition between the two which should benefit both pitchers. Besides signing Penny is something the Red Sox probably couldn't do if they tied up $180 million in Mark Teixeira.

What would happen if Penny were to win more games in 2009 for the Red Sox than A.J. Burnett does for the Yankees? Of course, Burnett was teammates of Penny and Beckett in Florida. They all came up at around the same time. Penny enters the 2009 season with 94 career wins compared to 87 for Burnett (Beckett has 89.) Yet the Yankees are paying $82 to Burnett over five years while the Sox will pay Penny no more than $8 million this season. Yes, Penny is coming off an injury but Burnett has been on the DL nine times since 2000. For me, Burnett is far riskier investment than Penny.

I think when the 2009 season concludes it will be the Red Sox who are a penny wise rather than a pound foolish.

The African Union Should Suspend Zimbabwe

This morning the African Union suspended Guinea's membership. Last week, the military seized control of power after the death of its President Lasana Conte. The AU described the coup as "a flagrant violation of Guinea's constitution." (http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-12-29/voa20.cfm)

I can think of several ways that Robert Mugabe has flagrantly violated Zimbabwe's constitution not to mention its economy, public safety and the health of its populace. Yet the African Union is nowhere to be seen or heard when it comes to Zimbabwe.

Lions Fire Marinelli; Browns & Jets Also Fire Head Coaches

The Detroit Lions road to recovery began this morning with the firing of head coach Rod Marinelli who will live in infamy for guiding the team to a record of 0-16. In three seasons at the helm the Lions were 10-38 under Marinelli.

The change, to quote Pete Townshend, it had to come. But Marinelli's successor will be the sixth head coach the Lions have had this decade. Changing coaches is but the beginning.

Of course, the Lions aren't the only team changing direction.

The New York Jets have fired head coach Eric Mangini after three seasons. 2008 appeared to be a turnaround season for the Jets with the acquisition of Brett Favre. The Jets were 8-3 and appeared to have a playoff spot sewn up. But the Jets ran out of fuel and lost four of their last five including a 24-17 defeat at the hands of the new AFC East Champion Miami Dolphins led by Chad Pennington. The Jets, of course, released Pennington after they obtained Favre's services.
A 9-7 record is acceptable in Arizona. It's not in New York. Somebody's head was going to roll and it was Mangini's.

The Cleveland Browns have parted ways with head coach Romeo Crennel after four seasons. Crennel, who earned three Super Bowl rings as the Defensive Co-ordinator for the New England Patriots, couldn't make it happen in Cleveland. The Browns only enjoyed one winning season and never made the postseason under Crennel. They were 4-12 in 2008 and were crushed by the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-0 yesterday despite the fact the Steelers lost QB Ben Roethlisberger to a concussion at the end of the first half. Yet somehow I think the headaches of Browns fans will linger until summer.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

AFC East: Dolphins In; Patriots & Jets Out

Chad Pennington is the happiest man in America.

The Miami Dolphins defeated the New York Jets 24-17 to win the AFC East Division. In 2007, the Dolphins were 1-15. When the Jets signed Brett Favre, Pennington was out of a job. The Dolphins picked up Pennington and lost in Week 1 to the Jets.

But Pennington got the last laugh and beat the Jets on his old stomping grounds. The Dolphins will host the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the AFC playoffs next week. Meanwhile, there is talk Favre will retire again. The Jets improved this season from 4 to 9 wins. But it's New York and Favre was expected to take them all the way. The Jets lost four of their last five regular season games. Favre threw three interceptions in the game.

The only people who are going to be grumpier Monday morning than Jets fans will be Patriots fans. The Patriots shut out the Buffalo Bills 13-0 at windy Rich Stadium. The Patriots went 11-5 despite missing Tom Brady. Matt Cassel did everything you could ask of a back up QB, the running game improved and the defense stayed afloat despite injuries to Lawrence Maroney and Richard Seymour. But because the Jets lost to the Dolphins and the Ravens beat the Jaguars the Patriots are out. So if either the Dolphins lost or the Jaguars had won the Patriots would have the number three seed in the AFC. Instead the Patriots are going home.

Such is life.

Detroit Lions 0-16, R.I.P.

The Detroit Lions did it. They lost to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field 31-21.

They have lost every regular season game they played in 2008. The Lions become the first team in NFL history to go 0-16. They are the first NFL team to lose every regular season game since the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14. The NFL went to a 16 game season in 1978.

The Lions did put up a fight. After being down 14-0 at the end of the 1st quarter they came back to tie it at 14-14 on the strength of two touchdown passes by Dan Orlovsky to Calvin Johnson and that's where things stood at the beginning of the 4th quarter. But the Lions could only muster one more touchdown on a rush by Kevin Smith against two touchdown passes by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and a Mason Crosby field goal.

On the bright side, the Lions have the number one pick in the 2009 NFL Draft plus an additional first round pick because of the Roy Williams trade with Dallas. But the Lions need more than draft picks. They need defense. They need offense. They need special teams. They need a new coaching staff. They need a new owner. They need the Vikings, Bears and Packers to get a mild case of smallpox.

The best thing than can be said about the 2008 Detroit Lions is that the season is over.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Samuel Huntington, 1927-2008. R.I.P.

Harvard political science professor Samuel Huntington has died. Huntington succumbed to congestive heart failure and complications from diabetes. He was 81.

Huntington is best known for "Clash of Civilizations" thesis. It was first published in Foreign Affairs in 1993. It would be expanded into a book three years later.

In a nutshell, Huntington argues that conflicts in the 21st century are defined by culture rather than economics and ideology. He divided the world into 7 cultural chasms. The greatest threats to the West were from what her termed the Simic culture (led by China) and Islamic culture. Huntington's thoughts gained greater credence after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Some labeled Huntington a neo-conservative but I don't think it's an accurate description. Huntington was more realist in his thinking. He did not think American values, much less Western ones, were universal and believed exporting democracy as we understood it served no one. In an interview conducted shortly before the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks he said:

Western culture, particularly American culture, emphasizes individualism to an extent no other culture I know of does. Other cultures put the emphasis on community, family and social factors, whereas we talk about the rights of individuals. When we have gone abroad and have had to exercise our influence, very naturally we bring our values and cultures with us and try to persuade, at times coerce, other people to accept them. (http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=125)

Samuel Huntington might have left this mortal coil. But his ideas and the consequences of them will likely be with us for this century and beyond.

Has Anyone Listened to "Barack the Magic Negro"?

There is a row in Republican circles over a song and the liberal media is lapping it up.

It seems that Chip Saltsman, who is running for the RNC Chairmanship, sent RNC delegates a CD by satirist Paul Shanklin titled We Hate The U.S.A. One of the songs on the CD is "Barack The Magic Negro." This song was actually released last year and has been played by Rush Limbaugh on a number of occasions. Saltsman served as Mike Huckabee's campaign manager.

Current RNC Chair Mike Duncan said, "The 2008 election was a wake up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party. I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate, as it clearly does not move us into the right direction."

Somehow I doubt that Duncan has heard the song. "Barack the Magic Negro" is set to the Peter, Paul and Mary song "Puff The Magic Dragon" (although Peter Yarrow, who wrote Puff and supported Obama, doesn't like Shanklin's take on it.) The title is inspired by an article written in The L.A. Times by an African-American writer named David Ehrenstein in March 2007. The title? Obama the 'Magic Negro' (http://www.latimes/com/news/opinion/la-oe-ehrenstein19mar19,0,5335087.story?coll=la-opinion-center). Ehrenstein writes:

He's there to assuage white guilt (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.

So Shanklin writes the song based on this article in the voice of Al Sharpton. The main lyrical refrain is Barack the Magic Negro/Lives in D.C./The L.A Times they called him that/Because he's not authentic like me. You can listen and view it on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvXz2xqLNMQ). As far as I'm concerned "Barack the Magic Negro" is reminscient of Randy Newman's "Short People" or Kinky Friedman's "They Don't Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore."

But I was curious what Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele thought of the whole thing. Well, Steele wasn't as critical of Saltsman as Duncan he did say that Saltsman's "attempt at humor was misplaced." However, Blackwell vigorously defended Saltsman. "Unfortunately, there is a hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race," said Blackwell, "This is in large measure due to President-elect Obama being the first African-American elected President."

I'm with Blackwell on this one. This "controversy" is much ado about nothing. It's nothing more than a) yet another opportunity for the liberal media to say, "Look at these racist Republicans," and b) for waffling Republicans to say, "Look we're not racist."

If anything it demonstrates that once again Barack Obama is not only above criticism but beyond satire.

Giants Sign Big Unit to One-Year Deal

Yesterday, the San Francisco Giants signed pitcher Randy Johnson to a one-year deal worth $8 million. He could earn up to $13 million through bonuses and incentives.

Johnson (a.k.a. The Big Unit) has pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks the last two seasons. He was injured for most of 2007 when the D'Backs won the NL West. Johnson won 11 games this season for a D'Back team that got off to a great start but faded fast and couldn't overcome the juggernaut that was Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Johnson is 45 years old but isn't the oldest player in MLB. That distinction belongs to Jamie Moyer who is 46 and earned a World Series ring with the Phillies and has just signed a two-year contract extension.

The Big Unit has won 5 Cy Young Awards (one in the AL with the Mariners in 1995 and four in the NL with the D'Backs from 1999 through 2002.) He earned one World Series ring with the D'Backs in 2001.

Entering the 2009 season, Johnson needs only five wins to reach 300. Should he reach that mark he will be the last to do it. With pitchers on pitch counts, complete games a thing of the past and starting pitchers at the mercy of the bullpen Johnson is the last of the old breed.

Johnson also needs 211 strikeouts to reach 5,000 for his career. It is a remarkable achievement but it still leaves him well behind Nolan Ryan who struck out 5714 batters in his storied career.

Needless to say, the Giants made a smart move. You now have a starting rotation consisting of 2008 NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, former Cy Young winners Barry Zito and the Big Unit plus two very promising pitchers in Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez. Johnson's presence benefits all four guys. Lincecum now has someone he can measure up against other than himself, Cain and Sanchez can learn from one of the very best and Zito can breathe a sigh of relief. Zito is in the third year of a 7-year, $126 million contract. He has struggled mightily although he did pitch better in the second half of 2008. The meteoric success of Lincecum plus the addition of the Big Unit take some of the burden off Zito's right shoulder. Zito should have his best season in a Giants uniform in 2009 as should a lot of Giants.

What are you saying Aaron? World Series Champions? Oh, they might be. But find out for sure when I make my MLB predictions this spring.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt, 1927-2008. R.I.P.

Singer and actress Earth Kitt died today of colon cancer. She was 81.

It is interesting that she should pass away on Christmas Day. Her best known song was "Santa Baby" which she recorded in 1953. She was known for her sexy sultry voice.

Kitt is probably best known for playing Catwoman on the Batman TV series in the mid-60s.

In 1968, Kitt fell out of favor when she lambasted LBJ for "sending children to die in Vietnam" at a White House Luncheon in the presence of Lady Bird Johnson.

After spending a decade in Europe, Kitt returned to the U.S. to perform concerts, on Broadway and landed the occasional movie role and continued to work to the very end. Earlier this year, she did an engagement at New York City's legendary Carlyle Cafe.

Christmas in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's High Court ordered that Jestina Mukoko and eight other opposition activists be sent to hospital for medical attention. Mukoko is the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project which monitors the decrepit human rights situation in Zimbabwe.

But the Zimbabwean Police defied the order and taken Mukoko and company to a maximum security prison. Mukoko and the others were arrested earlier this month and have been charged with plotting to overthrow the Mugabe government. If Mukoko and the others are convicted they could face the death penalty.

This is Christmas in Zimbabwe.

Merry Christmas

Wherever you might be I hope you will spend this day amongst family and friends in comfort and at ease.

If you should find yourself alone try to take pleasure in the life that surrounds you. Even if you are not in the company of people it does not mean you are alone.

With that I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Harold Pinter, 1930-2008, R.I.P.

British playwright Harold Pinter died yesterday of esophageal cancer. He was 78.

While studying theater in high school I became interested in the Theater of the Absurd of which Pinter was a great proponent. Pinter, Samuel Beckett and Edward Albee turned theater on its ear in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Pinter won the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature.

However, I believe Pinter won this award not for his absurdist plays but for his absurdist politics.

Pinter has long been a critic of U.S. and British foreign policy becoming a conscientious objector as a teenager. He might be best known for his outspoken disdain for both the War in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq. Pinter referred to the latter as "an act of blatant state terrorism" and called for President Bush and then British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be hauled before the International Criminal Court. Indeed, when Pinter could not accept his Nobel in person he recorded a videotaped message in which he spent the lion's share lambasting the U.S. and the U.K. governments.

Pinter was also vociferously anti-Israel and signed several petitions to that effect. He also supported Fidel Castro's Cuba, was part the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic and for good measure compared President Bush to Adolf Hitler.

All this notwithstanding, Pinter made an immense contribution to the theater. There is little doubt he played a part in changing the theater's very structure and presentation. Yet I am afraid that he will be mostly remembered for having the correct political views amongst the intelligentsia and the literati. Pinter's views represented the lowest common denominator of left-wing politics.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ahmadinejad To Give Christmas Address on Britain's Channel 4

I wish it was April 1st.

But this is no joke.

I was reading a post by Mark Steyn on NRO's The Corner. Tomorrow night Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to give the annual "alternative" Christmas address to the people of the United Kingdom on Channel 4. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/christmas/3933345/President-Mahmoud-Adhmadinejad-t0-give-alternative-Christmas-day-message.html)

The BBC has long aired a Christmas message from the monarch. Since 1993, Channel 4 has been airing an "alternative" message from the likes of the late Quentin Crisp and The Simpsons. But in 2006, Channel 4 had the "alternative" message delivered by a fully veiled Muslim woman who criticized Jack Straw, then Leader of the House of Commons, who criticized the practice of women concealing their identities by wearing full bodied veils.

So I gather Osama bin Laden wasn't available this year?

Aside from his incendiary statements about Israel why would Channel 4 give airtime to a head of state whose elite troops captured British sailors and marines in the Strait of Hormuz and held them hostage last year?

But Dorothy Byrne, who heads up Channel 4's news and current affairs division defended the choice, "As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad's views are enormously influential."

Could you imagine the BBC selecting Adolf Hitler to wish Britons a Merry Christmas after bombing London? I'm sure a BBC spokesman would say, "As someone who has conqueored nearly all of Europe, the Fuhrer's views are enormously influential." Churchill would have had the persons responsible for such an idea sacked. He might have said, "How bloody daft."

Channel 4 gets the Christmas it deserves.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Celtics Win 19 Straight

The Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 119-90 to win their 19th consecutive game - a new franchise record. The Celtics are off to a 27-2 start.

Two years ago, the Celtics lost 18 in a row. It's amazing the wonders winning an NBA championship can bring.

Yet the streak has received little attention here in Boston. There's been far more talk about whether the Red Sox would sign Mark Teixeira (of course he is now a Yankee.) For that matter there's more talk about not only the Patriots playoff prospects but even the Bruins are getting more press. The Bruins are surprisingly the best team in the Eastern Conference and own the second best record in the NHL.

If the Celtics approach the NBA single season record of 33 consecutive wins by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers then perhaps New England fans will sit up and take notice.

Speaking of the Lakers, the Celtics travel to LA to face Kobe and company on Christmas Day to try to extend the winnning streak to 20.

Teixeira Reportedly Signs with Yankees for 8 Years, $180 Million

ESPN is reporting that Mark Teixeira has signed an 8-year, $180 million contract with the New York Yankees.

If official Teixeira becomes the third high profile free agent the Yankees have signed. Earlier this month, the Yankees signed pitchers C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

Teixeira split the 2008 season between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels acquired Teixeira for Casey Kotchman and a minor league pitcher last July. Teixeira made his first postseason appearance with the Angels although they could not get past the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.

There was little chance Teixeira would re-sign with the Angels as he made it clear he wanted to play on the East Coast. Where Teixeira would play was intriguing because as a Maryland native he was entertaining offers from mediocre teams like the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals. Then there was the Red Sox and the Yankees.

The Sox were interested in Teixeira. If he came to Boston, Tex would play first and Kevin Youkilis could move to third. Mike Lowell is breaking down and probably can't play everyday so Teixeira would have fit into the scheme of things. Things wouldn't have been disrupted. But Teixeira's agent Scott Boras is a notoriously difficult and isn't above claiming other teams are pursuing a given free agent when in fact they have no such interest or the player has no such interest. Yes, Boras is doing what an agent should do and that is the get his player the best possible contract. But Boras crossed the line when he announced that Alex Rodriguez was opting out of his contract before the Red Sox clinched Game 4 of the 2007 World Series.

Anyhow, Boras played this game with the Red Sox concerning Teixeira and Red Sox principal owner John Henry wanted no part of it. Yes, it would be nice to have Teixeira and have him hit ahead of David Ortiz. But the Red Sox are better off spending $180 million on three or four good players rather than putting their eggs in one basket.

Of course, Boras isn't the only one playing that game. The team owners do it too. The New York Yankees had insisted they weren't interested in signing Teixeira. Yeah, the Yankees were about as uninterested in signing Teixeira as Hillary Clinton was uninterested in the White House.

Yet I think spending nearly half a billion on three free agents will work against the Yankees. When the Yankees won four World Series in six years they did it with players like Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez. They weren't superstars but they were steady, they hustled and above all else were team players who thought little of individual statistics.

If anything the signing of Teixeira complicates things. With Teixeira at first, Nick Swisher must move to an already crowded outfield. Swisher joins an outfield that includes Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady, Melky Cabrera and it appears they are going re-sign free agent Bobby Abreu. The Yankees were trying to unload Cabrera but for Mike Cameron, another outfielder. And what if the Yankees decide to pursue Manny Ramirez? The addition of Teixeira is going to cost one or more of these guys playing time and they ain't going to be happy about it.

The Yankees best bet is to unload Cabrera for some middle relief. Outside of Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain their bullpen is mighty thin and won't be able to hold leads for Sabathia and Burnett.

Given that the Yankees didn't make the postseason in 2008 for the first time in 15 years baseball fans knew the Yankees would be busy this off season. But it appears they have made moves for the sake of making moves. If so it will make the $700 billion bailout look like a sound investment based on prudent fiscal policy.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mumbai Survivor & Victims' Relatives Light Menorahs

I was heartened to hear about these items.

Rudrani Devi, who was shot while dining at the Taj Mahal Hotel during the Mumbai terrorist attacks, lit the Chanukah Menorah at the State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tomorrow night, on the third night of Chanukah, Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg will light the Menorah at the Statue of Liberty. Holtzberg's son, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka, were murdered at the Chabad House in Mumbai which they ran. At a memorial service in West Hempstead, NY the elder Rabbi Holtzberg vowed to rebuild the Chabad Center in Mumbai bigger than it was before.

Rabbi Holtzberg's resolve demonstrates that evil will never extinguish the light of goodness no matter how little oil there is to keep the flame lit.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

U.S. Wants Mugabe Out

The U.S. government has announced that it will not support any power sharing coalition that includes Robert Mugabe.

Assistant Secretary of State of African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, long a critic of Mugabe, said today in South Africa that a coalition with Mugabe is not possible as he has "lost it."

In recent days, Mugabe has said "Zimbabwe is mine." Mugabe also declared Zimbabwe had no cholera. But then he said cholera was being spread into Zimbabwe by Britain.

I fully agree with Frazer's assessment. But what can be done other than to remove Mugabe militarily?

The Bush Administration only has a month left in office and I doubt they would do anything nor could they commit to any further military incursion beyond Afghanistan and Iraq. Nor do I think the Obama Administration will do anything militarily at least not overtly. Obviously there is an affinity for Obama in Africa especially in his father's birthplace of Kenya. Raila Odinga, the Kenyan Prime Minister is a confidant of Obama and a critic of Mugabe. It's probably just as well it's done under Obama's watch. If Bush is responsible for removing Mugabe even indirectly it's an occupation. If Obama is responsible for removing Mugabe even indirectly it's a liberation. It's not fair as Bush has helped Africa immensely with his efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. But since when is life fair?

The best case scenario would be if a collection of African nations with ties to Britain were to liberate Zimbabwe with the assistance of British advisers and American military equipment. If so it better be done as soon as Obama takes office. Time is at hand.

Happy Chanukah

Tonight begins the Festival of Lights.

For the first time in many years I went to a synagogue to observe the lighting of the Menorah. I am not the most observant Jew in the world. The only Jewish holiday I consistently observe is Yom Kippur and even then I set aside a day to fast rather than on the appointed date. But so far it has granted me entry in the Book of Life.

A week ago I was in a grocery store and discovered there was a little synagogue in Jamaica Plain and thought now was as good a time as any to put my yarmulke back on my head.

Of course, Boston and much of the country has been in the midst of a hellacious snowstorm. A number of Chanukah events in the area have been canceled as a result of the weather. So I checked with the Rabbi to see if things were proceeding and indeed they were. I guess if the Maccabees could put with the Syrians I could put up with the snow.

The Rabbi told us the Menorah used to light shamash was over 200 years old and belonged to a Dutch man who rescued scores of Jewish children during the Holocaust. The Menorah was buried in a field to keep it away from the Nazis. If Chanukah can survive the Holocaust it can certainly survive a little inclement weather.

Dock Ellis, 1945-2008. R.I.P.

Former major league pitcher Dock Ellis died on Friday while awaiting a liver transplant. He had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 2007. He was 63.

While not a Hall of Famer, Ellis enjoyed an interesting major league career between 1968 and 1979 mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His best season was in 1971 when he won 19 games for the Pirates who would go on to win the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. Ellis would start the 1971 All-Star Game for National League in Detroit's Tiger Stadium. That game is best remembered for Ellis giving up a monster home run to Oakland A's slugger Reggie Jackson who hit the ball off the light tower above the right field roof. Years later Ellis would bean Jackson in retaliation.

Ellis was an integral part of the Pirates in the early 1970s. Their arch rivals were the Cincinnati Reds then known as the Big Red Machine. Given the current state of the Pirates and Reds it is hard to believe they had the biggest rivalry in MLB in the early 70s. They faced each other in the NLCS three times between 1970 and 1975. In May 1972, a guard at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium refused to admit Ellis into the ballpark and maced him. The guard claimed Ellis was going to attack him but Ellis said he was showing him his World Series ring as proof he was a member of the Pirates. Two years later, Ellis attempted to bean every member of the Big Red Machine. He began the game by hitting Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen. He missed hitting Tony Perez who drew a walk on four pitches. He then threw two pitches behind Johnny Bench's head before Bucs manager Danny Murtaugh removed him from the game.

Prior to the 1976 season, Ellis was traded to the New York Yankees along with Ken Brett (George Brett's older brother) and a young second baseman named Willie Randolph for pitcher Doc Medich. It is the only trade in major league history where one Dock was traded for Doc. Ellis won 17 games for the Yankees and was named AL Comeback Player of the Year. The Yankees would face the Reds in the World Series only to be swept by the Big Red Machine.

That year Ellis would collaborate with poet Donald Hall, later a poet laureate of the United States, on a book of poetry called Doc Ellis In the Country of Baseball.

Ellis went on to pitch for the Oakland A's and New York Mets before returning to the Pirates in 1979 finishing his major league career.

But Ellis is best known for something he did early in his career but was not known until the late 1980s. Ellis threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in 1970. He revealed that he was under the influence of LSD when he tossed the no-no. Ellis said he had forgotten he was supposed to pitch against the Padres until his girlfriend reminded him. Despite not being able to feel the ball or see the plate Ellis did not yield a hit although he did walk eight batters and hit a batter with a pitch.

Ellis revealed this information while working as a drug counselor.

Happy Holidays--a donation has been made in your name

Going around the internet....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

WWE Tribute to the Troops

I've just finished watching World Wrestling Entertainment's Tribute to the Troops on NBC.

WWE wrestlers recently put on a show in Iraq at Camp Victory where they entertained U.S. troops stationed there. They have been putting on these shows in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003.

The USO is still around but let's be honest most of Hollywood shuns our troops. The WWE has done an admirable job of filling in the breach. OK, maybe Bob Hope never body slammed anyone. But the presence of the WWE sure does improve morale and several of the WWE wrestlers noted the improvements that have taken place in Iraq over the past year.

This has not been lost on President Bush who sent a videotape message to open the show. "I know what the WWE knows," said the President, "Our troops are our finest citizens."

Auto Bailouts in U.S. & Canada

Yesterday, President Bush offered $17.4 billion from the $700 billion bailout money to the U.S. auto industry.

Today, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty have offered a $4 billion package (about $3.3 billion in U.S. dollars) to the Big Three who have subsidiaries in Canada centered in southern Ontario. Over half a million Canadians work for the Big Three.

It is interesting that this was a joint announcement. In the past, Harper's Conservative government (Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in particular) has clashed with McGuinty's Liberal government. Given that the Conservative government could fall in a month's time one wonder if McGuinty's involvement will persuade new federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to not proceed with the vote of confidence after the government presents its budget. If the Conservatives are still in power in a month's time the auto bailout will have a lot to do with it.

Yes, the auto bailout is a bad idea. When the feds decided to bailout the financial services sector (including AIG where this author is employed by one of its subsidiaries) it was inevitable that other industries would be seeking federal help. The biggest drawback of the bailout is that it will likely not encourage businesses to improve their practices. On the other hand, in the absence of a viable alternative and bleak prospects if nothing is done it is better than all the other bad ideas out there. Moreover, given that the company I work for got federal money I don't think I'm in a position to tell others that their companies will have to do without whatever my reservations.

Mugabe: "Zimbabwe Is Mine."

Robert Mugabe has declared, "Zimbabwe is mine."

It does explain why land redistribution has gone to Mugabe's cronies and not the every day people of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe is angry with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown over his call to other African leaders to ostracize him. Mugabe questioned the will of African leaders to dispose of him. I'm afraid Mugabe might be correct on that count.

Meanwhile, Mugabe is supposed to share power with Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC. However, Tsvangirai's movements have been restricted and he is stuck in Botswana. Over 40 MDC members have been disappeared over the past couple of months and are feared dead.

However bad things are going here just remember that you could be living life in Zimbabwe.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mark Felt (a.k.a. Deep Throat), 1913-2008. R.I.P.

W. Mark Felt, at one time the Associate Director of the FBI, died yesterday in a hospice in Santa Clara, California. He was 95.

However, Felt became best known to the American public only three years ago as the man who was "Deep Throat", the source that provided inside information to Bob Woodward that ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal.

I recall that Ben Stein, who was a speechwriter for Nixon, was incensed. He wrote an article in The American Spectator after the revelation and laid blame for the fall of Saigon, the rise of the Khmer Rouge in neighboring Cambodia and subsequent slaughter of millions at the feet of Felt. (http://spectator.org/archive/2005/06/01/deep/throat/and/genocide).

Frankly, it's a stretch. Of course, at one point it was speculated that Stein was Deep Throat. Not only did Stein deny he was Deep Throat he denied there was a Deep Throat at all and claimed Woodward falsified information.

Was Mark Felt an American hero? If Nixon had appointed Felt to take over the FBI after J. Edgar Hoover's death would we know the names Woodward and Bernstein? Probably not. Felt acted for self serving reasons. But we all act for self serving reasons. When you take down a big criminal you usually need a bunch of little criminals to help.

One can only wonder what Felt thought about Obama's association with Bill Ayers. Felt investigated the Weather Underground in the early 1970's and on several occasions authorized break ins without warrants in an effort to find WU fugitives like Ayers. Unfortunately, these efforts bore no fruit and Felt would eventually be charged with conspiracy to violate the Constitutional rights. He was convicted for this in November 1980 and fined $5,000. Interestingly, several former Attorney Generals including Ramsey Clark (who has defended the likes of Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic while calling for Bush's impeachment) testified warrantless searches for national security purposes were not illegal. While Felt was awaiting his appeal, President Reagan pardoned Felt in March 1981.

I wonder if Ben Stein believes that Mark Felt's failure to capture the Weather Underground fugitives in the early 1970s set the stage for the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dave Smith, 1955-2008. R.I.P.

Former major league pitcher Dave Smith died on December 17th of a heart attack in San Diego. He was only 53.

Smith pitched in the majors from 1980 to 1992. He spent most of his career with the Houston Astros where he saved 199 games, made three playoff teams (1980, 1981 and 1986) and was twice selected to the NL All Star Team (1986 & 1990). In 1986, Smith saved a career high 33 games. His final two seasons were spent with the Chicago Cubs. Smith would become involved with the San Diego Padres mostly as a minor league pitching instructor and served as the big league club's pitching coach between 1999 and 2001.

The Houston Astros made their first post-season appearance in the history of the franchise when they won the NL West in 1980. That was the first year I really followed baseball. Three pitchers from that team have died in just over two years - Joe Niekro, Vern Ruhle and now Smith. Several players who were involved in the 1980 World Series have passed on as well - Dan Quisenberry and Darrell Porter with the Kansas City Royals and Tug McGraw with the Philadelphia Phillies. Man, I remember watching these guys play on TV when I was a little boy.

Furcal Remains with Dodgers; Braves See Red

Rafael Furcal has reportedly re-signed a three-year contract $30 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves are seeing red.

Earlier in the week it appeared that Furcal had agreed to a three-year contract with the Braves. Furcal started his major league career with the Braves playing with them from 2000 through 2005 before signing with the Dodgers in 2006. His agents claimed Furcal had not made a commitment that they only requested a term sheet and that the deal hadn't the authorization of the Major League Baseball Players Association and MLB. For their part the Braves now refuse to deal with other players represented by Furcal's agents.

The main reason Furcal appears to have had second thoughts returning to Atlanta was that he would have had to play second base as Yunel Escobar is the Braves regular shortstop. Furcal has played his entire career at shortstop and the Dodgers want to keep him there.

Although Manny Ramirez was the face of the Dodgers in the second half of 2008, Furcal is their most consistent player. Given there's a good chance Manny will not return to L.A. in 2009 re-signing Furcal was absolutely essential for the Dodgers.

Obama Draws Ire of Gay Community Over Warren & Solis

It appears that President-elect Obama is headed for a fight with the gay and lesbian community and it appears that is exactly what he wants.

The President-elect's selection of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his Inauguration next month has drawn their ire. Although I don't know why. Yes, Warren opposes gay marriage but so does Obama. I don't know why gay activists see Obama as a champion of the rights of gays and lesbians. After all, Obama sought out Warren during the primaries and enthusiastically participated in the Saddleback Forum last August. In the real world there are more votes to be had from Evangelicals than from gays. Although it's not to say one can't be both.

Obama unexpectedly selected California Congresswoman Hilda Solis to be his Secretary of Labor. The odds on favorite to be selected was labor activist Mary Beth Maxwell who is openly gay. If Obama had selected Maxwell she would have been the first openly gay member of a Presidential Cabinet. In the real world there are more votes to be had from Hispanic women than from lesbians. Although it's not to say one can't be both.

If the gay and lesbian community go after Obama with the same anger as has been exhibited since the defeat of Proposition 8 in California then Obama wins the public opinion battle. Most people since Warren as the antithesis of the late Jerry Falwell even if they don't always agree with him. Warren has a cordial manner about him as does Obama. By reaching out to Warren Obama appears magnanimous especially to people who did not vote for him. Obama is politically smart to make the move the gay and lesbian community are politically daft in their criticisms at least in this instance.

As for Solis she's an unknown quantity outside her Congressional district. Maybe Maxwell would have made a better Labor Secretary. But it's Obama cabinet and he can choose it as he pleases subject to the approval of the Senate. Unless Solis has pulled a Blagojevich then I don't see a problem. The only pick Obama has made where there might be a problem is Holder at Attorney General for the Marc Rich pardon and even then it's a stretch.

If Obama does want a fight with the gay and lesbian community it is because a) it is a fight he knows he can win and b) he knows they won't vote Republican regardless of what he does.

Hamas Ends Truce in Gaza

Hamas has announced it that will not renew a six month ceasefire it had with Israel. The ceasefire is due to expire tomorrow.

The ceasefire was brokered by the Egyptians back in July. It wasn't much of a ceasefire as rockets continued to be launched into Israel under the watch of Hamas. This has forced the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes of its own.

Although ceasefires can occasionally be effective (such as the one Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army had in Iraq) it is usually little more than a ploy to regroup and rearm.

Paul Weyrich, 1942-2008. R.I.P.

2008 saw the passing of William F. Buckley. Today, it has seen the passing of another conservative icon, Paul Weyrich. I don't know the cause of his death but, of course, he has been in poor health for more than a decade. He was only 66.

I never met Weyrich. So I have no doubt others associated with IC who had the opportunity to interact with him directly could provide more profound insight. The one occasion that I wrote about him was his reaction to the 2006 Canadian election and I found myself in disagreement with him. (http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2006/01/31/so-i-guess-stephen-harper-won't-be-resigning-after-all-and-neither-rosie-o'donnell-nor-paul-weyrich-need-fret-about-canada/)

If there was a Conservative Hall of Fame his involvement in the founding of the Heritage Foundation alone would get him inducted. But his subsequent efforts through the Free Congress Foundation to organize conservative activists, especially on the Religious Right, were a significant contribution to Ronald Reagan's ascent to the White House and helped change the electoral map in this country.

Weyrich also took an interest in issues one might not necessarily expect a conservative to champion namely light rail transportation. Given the problems he had with his mobility later in his life one can understand the affinity he had for this issue. Public transportation is a lifeline to the outside world for people with physical disabilities. As someone who is able bodied but doesn't drive a car and relies on public transportation his advocacy in this area is personally appreciated.

I have no doubt there will be others who will post their thoughts about Paul Weyrich on IC in the days and weeks to come.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sheriff switches parties over Chicago Democrat corruption

Declaring himself a Republican, Curran cited Chicago-based machine politics and the current situation with Gov. Rod Blagojevich as motivating factors.“I do not think there is any hope for the Democratic Party in this state or this county,” Curran said....Curran said there is no political motive behind his switch in parties, but said scandals such as “pay to play, Silver Shovel and Hired Trucks,” linked with Chicago and the “Democratic machine” helped lead to his decision.“This is simply a matter of conscience,” he said. “There is no other reason.”He also said “secularism is the motto” of the Democratic Party, and it rejects faith-based programs like the ones he supports to prevent recidivism.
Read more

Monday, December 15, 2008

Miliband Doesn't Understand the Palestinians or Hezbollah

I am watching British Foreign Secretary David Miliband being interviewed by Charlie Rose on PBS.

He reminds me of Obama in the sense that he speaks well but has very little to say.

Miliband praised Secretary of State Rice for trying to bring about a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians but chided her by getting it under way in the seventh year of the Bush Administration rather than in the first.

Putting aside Mahmoud Abbas for a moment is Miliband seriously suggesting the Bush Administration should have dealt with Yasser Arafat, a man who walked away from Camp David and a Palestinian state? Is he seriously suggesting Bush should have dealt with a man who lied to him personally over the Karine A incident in 2002 when the Palestinian Authority received covert arms shipments from Iran?

Miliband also thinks that if Israel surrenders the Golan Heights to Syria that Hezbollah's power base will disappear. Just like when Hezbollah's power base disappeared when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. As long as Iran is funding Hezbollah and Syria needs Hezbollah to keep its thumb on Lebanon then Hezbollah will not disappear unless it is destroyed militarily.

Why am I dwelling on what David Miliband thinks? Well, because Miliband will likely succeed Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party whether Labour loses to the Conservatives in the next general election or if Miliband decides to launch a challenge against Brown before the election and launch himself into 10 Downing Street. Don't get me wrong. Brown is no great shakes and all things considered David Cameron and today's Tories aren't disciples of Margaret Thatcher. But after listening to Miliband tonight he might be the worse of them all.

Britain Kow Tows to Muslims Again

I saw an item in The Daily Mail where prison officials in Britain will not install a crucifix in a room of worship for Christian prisoners on the advice of a Muslim imam so as not to offend Muslims while the Muslims get heated foot baths. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1094901/Prison-bans-chapel-crucifix-avoid-offending-Muslims.htm.

So this is what Britain considers "a multi-faith space." And by multi-faith they really mean Muslim-first.

This the same reasoning that prompted British schools to stop teaching about the Holocaust so it wouldn't offend Muslims who don't believe the Holocaust actually happened. Heaven forbid Britain should offend Muslims who want to turn the remnants of the British Empire into an Islamic Caliphate.

What would Churchill say if he were to come back to life and see what has happened to Britain?

Well, Britain's youth can't answer that question because they are no longer taught about Churchill and WWII.

Dennis Yost, 1943-2008. R.I.P.

I have just learned that Dennis Yost, the lead singer of the Classics IV, died on December 7th of respiratory failure. He was 65.

The Classics IV were part of the first wave of Southern rock. They had a run of hits in 1968 and 1969 including "Spooky", "Stormy", "Traces" & "Every Day With You Girl." Several members departed from the Classics IV in early 1970s to form the Atlanta Rhythm Section. The Atlanta Rhythm Section would re-record "Spooky" and chart a hit with it in 1979. Yost owned the rights to the band name and would continue to be their lead singer with various lineups until 2005.

Sadly, Yost fell ill and in July 2006 he sustained brain damage during a fall down a flight of stairs. He never fully recovered from those injuries and spent his final years in various nursing homes.

I liked all the songs I mentioned but I also liked some of their less well known compositions. Here's a forgotten Classics IV tune called "24 Hours of Loneliness" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwszNim0dQQ

Sunday, December 14, 2008

60 Minutes Puff Piece on Barney Frank

What a puff piece 60 Minutes had on Barney Frank tonight. (http://www.cbsnews.com/sories/2008/12/11/60minutes/main4663945.shtml)

If Lesley Stahl thinks Frank is the "smartest guy in Congress" then we're all in a lot of trouble.

The report skimmed over his role in the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae debacle.

Frank, the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, predicted this should all be in over in about a year. Just like he said Freddie and Fannie were financially sound.

However, the following segment covered by Scott Pelley asked if there would be second much larger mortgage disaster with the anticipated default of Alt A and Option Arm loans. These loans had begun with lower "teaser" interest rates for a finite period before the rates were reset. Hello default city.

Sean Egan, of Egan-Jones Ratings Company, argues the bottom hasn't yet fallen out and the large number of defaults will lead to a glut of surplus housing in the market. Egan said the situation is one that is "not going to be resolved in a short period of time. It's not gonna take six months. It's not gonna take 12 months. We're looking at probably three, four, five years, before this overhang is worked through." (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/12/11/2008/60minutes/main4666112.shtml)

So who do you think has a better read on the economy? Barney Frank or Sean Egan? My money, what little of it I have, is on Egan.

Iraqi Reporter Throws His Shoes at President Bush

President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq with just over five weeks left in the White House.

During a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, an Iraqi reporter began heckling and threw his shoes at President Bush. Fortunately, the shoes missed President Bush as he ducked with al-Maliki's assistance. While the reporter was being tackled to the ground White House Press Secretary Dana Perino was poked in the eye with a microphone stand.

Muntadar al-Zeidi, a reporter for Al-Baghdadiya TV based in Cairo, shouted, "This shoe is for goodbye," and "You dog. You killed Iraqis," before throwing his shoes which is the highest insult in Arab culture. You will recall Iraqis hitting the statue of Saddam Hussein with their shoes when Baghdad fell. Al-Baghdadiya demanded al-Zeidi's release "in accordance with the new era of freedom of speech and democracy that the United States has promised Iraq." As far as I'm concerned al-Zeidi's freedom of speech ends where President Bush's face begins.

Other Iraqi journalists present apologized to President Bush who took the incident in good stride. President Bush said, "All I can report is a size 10." (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2008/12/14/bush-arrives-iraq-surprise-farewell-visit/)

Look for the liberal media to point this incident out as Bush's legacy in Iraq despite the immense improvement there over the past year or so. I'm sure the shoe gesture will draw moral equivalence between a mass murderer like Saddam and a liberator like Bush.

It certainly can be argued there are still too many Iraqis who are ungrateful to the U.S. and Coalition forces for ridding them of a man who ruled Iraqis with fear, mayhem and terror. But a majority of the reporters there were appalled by al-Zeidi's behavior. I'm sure most of them aren't big fans of Bush but would acknowledge they are better off without Saddam. After all, it is better to have a chance to live in freedom than no chance at all. But the views of the silent majority in Iraq doesn't make the front page of The New York Times.

McCain Won't Endorse Palin; Criticizes RNC

Senator John McCain appeared on ABC News This Week and did what he does best - criticize other Republicans.

When asked if McCain would endorse his running mate Sarah Palin if she should make a bid for the White House in 2012 he said, "I can't say something like that. We've got some great young governors. I think you're going to see the governors assume a greater leadership role in our Republican Party." McCain cited Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman as potential future leaders.

Could Palin be to McCain what Joe Lieberman became for Al Gore?

But it is probably just as well. Palin doesn't need McCain's blessing to win the GOP nomination much less the admiration of the conservative movement. Palin doesn't need any more favors from McCain.

McCain also criticized Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan for his criticism of President-elect Obama for not being more forthcoming about his relationship with embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. "I think that the Obama campaign should and will give all information necessary," said McCain, "You know, in all due respect to the Republican National Committee and anybody - right now, I think we should try to be working constructively together, not only on an issue such as this, but on the economy, stimulus package, reforms that are necessary."

So is McCain now decreeing that Obama is above criticism? Hey, I supported McCain and have no regrets. Sure it doesn't appear Obama was involved in any shenanigans but what about his Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel? Are we to no longer call Obama's judgment into question with the company he keeps?

Yes, there wil be times when Republicans will have to work with the Obama Administration but Republicans must work as a loyal opposition. This means there will be occasions when Republicans will, gasp, have to constructively criticize Obama, demand he be accountable for his actions and associations and provide alternative solutions to Obama's policies. If John McCain wants to be part of the loyal opposition then he is more than welcome. If McCain wants to be a Republican spokesman for Obama and get back into the good graces of the liberal media then so be it. Conservatives can carry one without him.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Arson Damages Palin's Church

On Friday night, the Wasila Bible Church was set ablaze while people were inside. Fortunately, no one was hurt but an estimated $1 million of damage was done to Sarah Palin's house of worship.

Local authorities believe the fire was caused by arson. Whether the arson was motivated by Sarah Palin is not known but can certainly not be ruled out. For her part, Palin apologized to her church for any negative attention it might have received as a result of her being the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate. Of course, such an apology is unnecessary. Nothing could excuse such a crime. If such a thing happened to Trinity United Church in Chicago the liberal media would see to it that holy hell be paid.

Ice Storm Hits New England; Misses Boston

Beginning late Thursday night and early Friday morning, an ice storm hit New England affecting mostly Massachusetts and New Hampshire and to a lesser extent Maine. New York and several other states outside of New England have been touched by it as well.

Here in Massachusetts, over a million people have lost power and many of them won't get it back until early next week. Many trees and wires were knocked down creating havoc and chaos.

Fortunately for myself, Boston was spared although many of my colleagues who live in other parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire aren't so fortunate.

I love winter and cold weather. I'll take forty below zero over forty above zero (celsius) any day of the week.

But I draw the line at ice storms.

A much larger ice storm hit New England and much of Eastern Canada in January 1998. I was living in Ottawa at the time and I lost power for a day or so. Ottawa lost 10% of its trees due to that storm. There were trees in the street, live wires on top of very slippery ice. Things were so hazardous I couldn't go into work for nearly a week.

In retrospect, I was lucky. Others were without power for a month. Quebec was hardest hit. One hundred foot hydro towers were knocked to the ground encased in ice.

Today, it is sunny and very, very cold here in Boston. I'll gladly take it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Zimbabwe Info Minister Blames Britain for Cholera

The Labour government of Gordon Brown can be blamed for many things. Spreading cholera to Zimbabwe is not one of them.

Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe's Minister of Information, said Britain introduced cholera to Zimbabwe because they are "still fighting to recolonize Zimbabwe." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7780687.stm)

If Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe didn't exist we would have to invent it.

The cholera, AIDS, hyperinflation and low life expectancy, however, are not invented.

Burnett Agrees to 5 Yr Contract with Yankees

Pending a physical pitcher A.J. Burnett has agreed to a five year, $82 million contract with the New York Yankees.

Earlier this week, C.C. Sabathia signed a 7-year, $161 million contract with the Yankees.

Burnett has pitched in the bigs for ten seasons first with the Florida Marlins and for the past three season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Prior to 2006, Burnett signed a five year, $55 million contract with the Blue Jays. In 2008, Burnett won a career high 18 games and opted out of his contract.

Burnett, while talented, is injury prone. He has been on the disabled list nine times. Prior to this season Burnett had never won more than 12 games in any one season.

Just as I think Sabathia won't pitch well in pinstripes because I don't think New York suits his disposition I think Burnett's injuries will return much to the chagrin of the Bronx cheerful. It's just a gut feeling.

The Pettiness of Arundhati Roy

I've been reading Indian author Arundhati Roy's article "Mumbai was not our 9/11" in The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/12/mumbai-arundhati-roy

Not surprisingly her article is sanctimonious and awash with moral equivalence and leftist pablum. Two examples:

If you were watching television you may not have heard that ordinary people too died in Mumbai. They were mowed down in a busy railway station and a public hospital. The terrorists did not distinguish between poor and rich. They killed both with equal coldlbloodness. The Indian media, however, was transfixed by the rising tide of horror that breached the glittering barricades of India Shining and spread its stench in the marbled lobbies and crystal ballrooms of two luxurious hotels and a small Jewish centre.

There were simultaneous attacks throughout Mumbai. Should the Indian media have ignored what was going on at the Oberoi and the Taj Mahal? Would Roy have been happy had the Indian media confined its coverage to entities built by the government?

Why does Roy object to coverage of the Chabad Center? Were the people killed there insufficiently ordinary for Roy's taste? Or does her hatred for Israel inhibit from feeling any sympathy for Jews?

Let us remember that India's population exceeds 1.1 billion people. Of those billion plus there are 5,000 Jews. That two hundredths of 1%. Yet one small Jewish centre in Mumbai was one too many for the Decca Mujahideen. They murdered a pregnant woman for G-d's sake. These people were killed simply for being Jewish. If Roy thinks the Indian media spent too much time concerning this fact I feel pity and contempt for her.

Consider this other passage.

While they did this they indiscriminately massacred unarmed people, in railway stations, hospitals and luxury hotels, unmindful of their class, caste, religion or nationality. (Part of the helplessness of the security forces had to do with having to worry about hostages. In other situations, in Kashmir for example, their tactics are not so sensitive. Whole buildings are blown up. Human shields are used. The U.S. and Israeli armies don't hesitate to send cruise missiles into buildings and drop daisy cutters on wedding parties in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.)

So let's see if I get this straight. The U.S. and Israeli armies have reconaissance teams seek out wedding parties so they can wantonly kill civilians? There was an incident in back in August where Israeli settlers allegedly threw stones at Palestinian civilians attending a wedding in Hebron on the West Bank. Not the smartest thing to do. But a far cry from the IDF launching a cruise missile to crash the wedding as Roy as claimed.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai did criticize U.S. forces for an attack that resulted in the deaths of 40 civilians at a wedding party last month. U.S. forces had been fired upon by the Taliban and retaliated. The U.S. military is investigating the matter and if steps can be taken to reduce the loss of innocent life I'm all for it. But Roy would have us believe the U.S. military launches airstrikes on wedding parties for the fun of it and never mentions any provocation on the part of the Taliban.

I imagine Roy might have been referring to an attack in Iraq by U.S. forces in May 2004 near the Syrian border which resulted in the deaths of 40 Iraqis. It was alleged U.S. forces had attacked a wedding party. However, U.S. forces said it was a safe house for insurgents and had been fired upon. I'm sure Roy doesn't believe the U.S. military's version of events because she doesn't want to believe them. After all, back in June 2005 she praised the insurgency when she spoke at the opening session of the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul, Turkey. (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article9259.htm)

But let us assume for a moment the U.S. military did, in fact, attack a wedding party. They did not set out to attack a wedding party. They did not do knowingly seek to kill civilans. The civilian deaths were unintentional and not deliberate. It is a facet of war that is sadly unavoidable. But there was fire coming their way and they were obliged to retaliate.

There was a terrorist attack in November 2005 on a wedding party at the Radisson Hotel in Amman, Jordan by Iraqi al Qaeda which killed 38 people. It was part of several attacks that took place simultaneously in Amman at two other hotels - the Grand Hyatt and the Days Inn. In all, 62 people were killed and over 100 injured. No one was attacking al Qaeda from those hotels. The late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi an al Qaeda sought to kill as many civilians as possible. Roy makes no reference to this terrorist attack in her article. Quel surprise.

Arundhati Roy can't see the difference or doesn't want to see the difference between U.S. soldiers trying to protect innocent life and falling short and terrorists who seek to kill civilians and lament that they don't kill enough of them. Or perhaps she would simply complain that we're spending too much time dwelling on people because they had the misfortune of being killed
in bourgeois luxury hotels.

Rendell Criticizes Obama Over Blagojevich

In an interview that aired on MSNBC's Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough, Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Ed Rendell criticized President-elect Obama's handling of the Blagojevich Affair.

Rendell, who was a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries, said, "They have never been in an executive position before. The rule of thumb is whatever you did, say it and get it over with and make it a one day story as opposed to a three day story. Politicians are always misjudging the intelligence of the American people." (http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2008/12/rendell-blasts-obama-over-hot-rod.html)

The problem the incoming Obama Administration has with "say it and get it over with" is that they can't keep their story straight on whether Obama said anything. Obama says he didn't say anything but David Axelrod said he did. Then Axelrod said he misspoke and that Obama didn't say anything after all. Stuff like that doesn't go away in a day.

Rendell's analogy is apt but this is more than a three day story. When the President-elect's vacated Senate seat is offered for bid by the sitting Governor who is subsequently arrested and indicted for fraud and bribery it is a story that could hang over Obama for three years never mind three days.

So much for change.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Canada Will Not Stay in Afghanistan Beyond 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited the Canadian armed forces base in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan today. Gates said of Canadian soldiers, "They have been outstanding partners for us, and all I can tell you, as has been the case for a very long time, the longer we can have Canadian soldiers as our partners, the better it is."

Of course, as the Secretary of Defense is well aware Canada's Parliament voted to extend the mission from 2009 to 2011 earlier this year in the face of strong opposition to Canada's participation in Afghanistan. A spokesman for Peter MacKay, Canada's Minister of Defense, reaffirmed the Canadian combat mission in Kandahar will not be extended beyond 2011.

However, given President-elect Obama's desire to intensify efforts in Afghanistan I wonder if Gates remarks are the first salvo to put pressure on Canada to remain beyond 2011. I have a funny feeling Obama might at some point suggest Canada isn't pulling its weight in an effort to pressure it into remaining just as he had questioned the efforts of Australian soldiers in Iraq. For a guy who wants to improve America's image in the world he sure has a way of being disrespectful to our most trusted allies. Of course, there are NATO allies such as Germany have not been pulling their weight in Afghanistan except perhaps to say that theyhave been gaining it, at least according to a study recently presented to the German Parliament. (http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,539202,00.html)

An interesting wrinkle in all this will be what happens if the Liberal-NDP coalition comes to power next month. On one hand, new Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff (unlike his predecessor Stephane Dion) supports Canadian efforts in Afghanistan and as I stated in my Ignatieff article in 2006 he brought aboard two dozen Liberal MPs to support the Conservative government in extending the mission to 2009 before it was extended again this year. Prime Minister Stephen Harper crossed the floor to shake Ignatieff's hand for his efforts. Ignatieff is also close to Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha Power from his days at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

On the other hand, a majority of Liberal MPs oppose the mission in Afghanistan. The NDP has never supported the mission to Afghanistan. In fact, NDP leader Jack Layton has publicly called for direct negotiations with the Taliban without preconditions. Forget about the Bloc Quebecois and for that matter Quebec. La Belle Province was anti-war in WWI, WWII, Korea, the Gulf War and again in Afghanistan. If Ignatieff alienates Quebec he can kiss being Prime Minister goodbye. Of course, it depends on how strongly Ignatieff supports the mission in Afghanistan. Remember he once vigorously supported the War in Iraq before he vigorously opposed it. I sense that domestic political considerations would outweigh pressure from the United States even with Barack Obama at the helm.

But whether it is the Tories or a Liberal-NDP coalition in charge of Canada I believe if the incoming Obama Administration continues to pressure Canada to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2011 that Canada-U.S. relations will be at their lowest point in nearly half a century.

Jody Reynolds, 1932-2008. R.I.P.

Until this morning I was not aware that rockabilly pioneer Jody Reynolds had died on November 7th of liver cancer. He would have turned 76 on December 3rd.

Reynolds had only hit but it was a hit that would be covered numerous times and inspire songs of its like. In 1958, Reynolds had a million selling hit called "Endless Sleep" about a boy who thinks his girlfriend has taken her own life after an argument. At the end of song though he finds her in the ocean and rescues her. Reynolds originally intended for the girl to commit suicide but in those days no record company wanted to touch that so he had to change the ending. Nonetheless, it is a very dark and foreboding song for its era. Reynolds said he wrote the song after listening to Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" five times in a row.

Reynolds never had another hit although he did occasionally perform. He made his living selling real estate and for a time ran a music shop in southern California.

If you haven't heard "Endless Sleep" check it out at

Mugabe: No Cholera in Zimbabwe

In a classic "nothing to see here" moment, Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe would have the world believe there is no cholera in his country. Mugabe said, "Now there is no cholera, there is no need for war. We need doctors, not soldiers."

Um, if Zimbabwe doesn't have cholera then why do you need doctors?

Of course, Mugabe said the cholera was spread from other countries. Next he will tell us other countries were responsible for spreading the AIDS virus into Zimbabwe. He and Reverend Jeremiah Wright would be kindred spirits.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mets Make Deal with Mariners & Indians; Get More Bullpen Help

Earlier today, when I wrote about K-Rod joining the New York Mets I said the Mets still needed to make substantial improvements to their bullpen. The Mets have done just that.

The Mets acquired Seattle Mariners closer J.J. Putz along with middle reliever Sean Green and outfielder Jeremy Reed. The Mariners received middle reliever Aaron Heilman, outfielder Endy Chavez and four minor leaguers from the Mets. The Mariners also received outfielder Franklin Gutierrez from the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe received infielder Luis Valbuena from the Mariners and reliever Joe Smith from the Mets.

The centerpiece of the deal is Putz. He will become K-Rod's set up man. Putz was the Mariners closer in 2006 and 2007 saving 36 and 40 games respectively. However, Putz was injured for much of the 2008 season and only had 15 saves although he pitched effectively when healthy. If K-Rod falters the Mets have a fallback guy in Putz. The Mets are going for broke in 2009 after narrowly missing the playoffs in 2007 and 2008.

However, I think the Mariners get the best of this deal getting prospects, a good defensive outfielder in Chavez and I think Heilman will be more comfortable pitching in laid back Seattle than in the unforgiving New York market. But I think Gutierrez will blossom in Seattle after underachieving with the Indians. At 25, he's still young enough to turn things around. A bold prediction. Gutierrez will supplant Ichiro Suzuki as the face of the Mariners.

Jesse Jackson, Jr = Senate Candidate 5

Fox News is reporting that the attorney for Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr is confirming that the son of the two time Democratic Presidential candidate is Senate Candidate 5 named in the indictment against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald isn't commenting.

It is alleged that Jackson, Jr (a.k.a. Senate Candidate 5) offered to raise $1 million for Blagojevich in exchange for being appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. For his part, President-elect Obama is calling on Blagojevich to resign.

Which is a worse fate - Senate Candidate 5 or Client 9?

K-Rod/Mets; Wood/Tribe & Sabathia/Yankees

There have been three blockbuster pitching free agent deals in the past 24 hours.

First, Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez and the New York Mets agreed to a three-year, $37 million contract. K-Rod set a ML record with 62 saves during the 2008 season with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Rodriguez has pitched his entire major league career with the Angels exploding on the scene during the 2002 post season en route to the Angels only World Series championship.

Back in the fall I predicted the Mets would pursue K-Rod after it was announced Billy Wagner would miss the entire 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. K-Rod, who will turn 27 in January, has compiled 208 saves and isn't even in the prime of his career. However, the Mets middle relief is suspect and they'll need a lot more than K-Rod if they want to reach the postseason after missing it in 2007 and 2008.

As for the Angels, look for them to audition hard throwing Jose Arredondo for the closer's job. If he isn't ready they could move Scot Shields into that role.

The Mets aren't the only team with a new closer. The Cleveland Indians are on the verge of signing Kerry Wood to a two-year contract with an option for a third. Financial terms have yet to be disclosed. Wood has pitched his entire major league career with the Chicago Cubs. In 2008, Wood saved 34 games for the NL Central Champion Cubs. The Tribe is taking a risk with Wood as he has been plagued with injuries throughout his big league career. He even spent time on the DL this season with a blister on his finger in late July and early August. Most of Wood's problems have been with his elbow. He has also had shoulder and tricep injuries. Wood is a hit or miss proposition. The Indians are literally knocking on wood.

Finally, C.C. Sabathia has agreed to sign with the New York Yankees for $160 million over 7 years. Sabathia had turned down a contract offer from the Yankees worth $140 million over 6 years. Sabathia won the 2007 AL Cy Young Award with the Cleveland Indians. In the middle of the 2008 season, the Tribe dealt Sabathia to the Milwaukee Brewers where he won 11 games and led them to their first postseason appearance since 1982 although they would be eliminated in the NLDS by the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite his success with the Brewers they could not offer what the Yankees could.

With the retiirement of Mike Mussina and departure of Andy Pettitte, the Yankees needed an impact player. Although I'm not sure Sabathia is the right one. Granted, I didn't think he would be effective with the Brewers so what do I know? I do know that Sabathia is a low key guy who would be better suited pitching with a National League team in California where he can swing the bat. I think Sabathia will be out of his element in New York the same way Randy Johnson was during his two seasons in pinstripes and was only too glad to return to Phoenix.

Given the Yankees didn't make the postseason for the first time in 15 years there is a lot of pressure on Sabathia's right shoulder. Although the Yankees might not be done with acquiring starting pitching as they are interested in both A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe, who pitched with the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers respectively. The addition of Burnett or Lowe will relieve Sabathia of some of the pressure but unless the Yankees sign a marquee player like Manny Ramirez, Sabathia will have a big target on his back and I'm not sure pitching in Cleveland and Milwaukee has adequately prepared for life in the Big Apple.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rae Withdraws From Liberal Party Leadership Race

This afternoon, Bob Rae announced his withdrawal from the Liberal Party leadership race. This comes the day after Dominic LeBlanc left the race and announced his support for Michael Ignatieff.

The Liberal Party leadership race is scheduled to take place this May in Vancouver but the efforts to force a confidence vote against Stephen Harper's Conservative government and Harper's move to suspend Parliament put the focus back on the Liberals.

The Liberals did not want Stephane Dion at the helm and it became clear most Liberal MPs supported Ignatieff. Rae wanted every Liberal Party member to vote. The Liberal Party National Executive announced yesterday it would consult with 800 members. The former Ontario NDP Premier saw the writing on the wall and made room for Ignatieff.

These 800 members will within the next week annoint Ignatieff as the interim Liberal Party leader and a formal coronation will take place at the convention in Vancouver.

I am planning to write in more detail about Ignatieff given there is a strong possibility he could become Canada's next Prime Minister.

Bush Calls on Mugabe to Resign

President Bush today called on Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe to resign and called on other African leaders to do the same.

One wonders if President-elect Obama will join Bush in calling on Mugabe to quit. Even if Obama were to tell Mugabe, "No, you can't," I don't think Mugabe would heed the call.

Unless Mugabe is removed by forece he will be President of Zimbabwe until the day he dies.

Each day Mugabe lives is a another day Zimbabwe moves closer to death.

And on that stirring note of optimism....

Greek Socialist Leader Calls for Elections in Wake of Riots

George Papandreou, the leader of Greece's opposition Socialist Party, is calling for immediate elections in the wake of the riots in Greece which are now in their fourth day.

It is incumbent upon the Karamanlis government to restore order. However, by calling for early elections Papandreou is asking for the behavior of the rioters to be rewarded. This is the height of irresponsibility. Elections aren't scheduled until 2010.

It is tragic a boy was killed but a police officer has been charged with his murder and an investigation will follow. Aside from restoring law and order what more is the Karamanlis government to do?

If the name Papandreou sounds familiar it should be. His father, Andreas Papandreou, was Prime Minister of Greece from 1981 to 1989 and again from 1993 to 1996. The elder Papandreou was known for his anti-Americanism supporting Soviet repression in Poland in the early 1980s and was a fervent supporter of the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Illinois Governor Indicted for Selling Obama's Senate Seat

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff John Harris were arrested in Chicago this morning and are being charged with two counts each of mail/wire fraud and soliciting a bribe.

Blagojevich and Harris have been under investigation by the FBI for three years for corrupt activities up and to including selling the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (the same guy who prosecuted "Scooter" Libby) said Blagojevich engaged in "pay to play politics." According to a FBI wiretap, Blagojevich said, "It's a f#&$ing valuable thing. You just don't give it away for nothing."

The Nixon tapes were never like this.

Although President-elect Obama was not the target of this investigation one can only wonder what, if any, effect it will have on him. After all, Blagojevich's activities concern several of Obama's associates including Tony Rezko. But unless there's a videotape of Obama taking money or an audiotape of Obama asking, "What's in it for me?" I believe Obama wears a coat of teflon.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Liberals Win Majority Government in Quebec

Jean Charest's Liberals have won a majority government in Quebec winning 66 of 125 seats in the Quebec National Assembly.

Only a year and a half ago, Charest's Liberals were reduced to a minority government. Mario Dumont's conservative Action Democratique Quebec became the official opposition. However, it was ineffective in that role. Two of its members defected to the Liberals. Tonight, the ADQ was reduced to 7 seats losing party status in the Assembly. Dumont has announced his resignation as ADQ leader.

The separatist Parti Quebecois under Pauline Marois has returned to official opposition status with 51 seats. Quebec Solidaire, a new left wing party in Quebec, won its first seat in the National Assembly.

With the current political storm in Ottawa the Quebec election kind of got lost in the shuffle although it benefited Charest. Quebec voters did not want to go through the uncertainty that now prevades Ottawa and felt most comfortable with Charest who has been Quebec Premier since 2003. Change might have been in the air here last month but it could not find a home tonight in the cold air of Chateauguay. Charest is the first Quebec Premier to win three consecutive elections since Maurice Duplessis.

Veterans Committee Elects Gordon to Hall of Fame; Snubs Santo Again

The Veterans Committee has elected the late Joe Gordon to the Baseball Hall of Fame and will be posthumously inducted in 2009.

Gordon played in the major leagues from 1938-1943 and from 1946-1950. He missed the 1944 and 1945 seasons due to his service with the U.S. Army during WWII.

Gordon spent most of his playing career with the New York Yankees as a second baseman. He would win four World Series rings with the Yankees (1938, 1939, 1941 & 1943) and also earn the American League MVP in 1942.

The Yankees traded Gordon to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Allie Reynolds following the 1946 season. Gordon would earn his fifth World Series ring with the Indians in 1948.

In all, Gordon was selected to 9 All-Star teams in his 11-year career and drove in more than 110 runs in a season four times.

After his major league career, Gordon returned to the Indians as their manager in 1958. However, in the middle of the 1960 season he would be traded to the Detroit Tigers for their manager Jimmy Dykes. It was the only trade in major league history that involved only managers. Dykes left the Tigers after the 1960 season to manage the Kansas City Athletics in 1961 but lasted only one season. He would manage the Kansas City Royals in their inaugural season in 1969. One of his players would win AL Rookie of the Year and become a successful major league manager in his own right - Lou Piniella. Gordon died of a heart attack in 1978 at the age of 63.

While the Veterans Committee gave long overdue recognition to Gordon they once again snubbed Chicago Cubs third base legend Ron Santo, who has been trying to get inducted since 1980. It boggles the mind why Santo isn't in Cooperstown. It's not like they have a glut of third basemen. Of the 230 players inducted in Cooperstown only 13 are third baseman (three of whom played in the Negro Leagues). Santo's numbers are better than most of the third basemen who are already in there.

Santo was the best third baseman in the NL in the 1960s. The only third baseman who was better was Brooks Robinson. Santo hit nearly 75 more homeruns than Robinson (342 to 268) and nearly drove in as many runs (1357 - Robinson, 1331 - Santo). Santo's lifetime batting average is ten points higher than Robinson (.277 to .267). While Robinson is far ahead in base hits (2848 to 2254) the Orioles legend played for 23 seasons while Santo played only 15.

Santo's five Gold Gloves don't match Robinson's 15. But neither do Mike Schmidt's ten.

Sure Santo never got to play in the postseason but neither did Ernie Banks, Billy Williams nor for that matter Ferguson Jenkins - all Cubs teammates who made it to Cooperstown.

Like Gordon, Santo was a 9-time All Star.

Santo is currently beloved announcer with the Cubs. He is eligible for consideration by the Veterans Committee in 2011. However, Santo has had a long struggle with diabetes so G-d only knows if he'll be around.

My question to the Veterans Committee is why do they think Santo is unworthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown? I would like to hear one good reason.

At this point, it is appearing more likely the Cubs will win a World Series than Santo being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Thoughts on the Riots in Greece

For the past three days,"youths" have been rioting in Greece after the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos.

Although there have been no fatalities in the riots many have been injured and there has been tremendous damage to property.

The AP is now beginning to identify these youths as anarchists rather than Muslims. Well, whomever is causing this violence it is difficult to understand why. A police officer has been charged with murder in connection with Grigoropoulos' death.

Unless, of course, the "youths" are seeking to overthrow the democratically elected government of Konstantinos Karamanlis who was first elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2007 albeit with a one seat majority. Karamanlis leads the conservative New Democracy Party. In recent years, his government has been undertaking reforms to the country's university system which has sparked large demonstrations and shutdowns by student organizations. Whether this is connected to Grigopoulos' death cannot be said with any certainty. What is certain is that the behavior of the "youths" is being encouraged by the Greek Communists and Coalition of the Radical Left who are both planning large demonstrations in Athens this evening.

As lamentable as the death of a 15-year-old boy is it is no excuse for rioting and political parties ought not be legitimizing violence. A police officer has been charged with the boy's murder. This should be left to the Greek justice system. But if these "youths" insist on violence and mayhem then the Greek government must use lawful force and put these riots to an end.

Dion Will Step Aside as Canada's Liberal Leader Ahead of Schedule

Stephane Dion today announced he would step aside as Liberal Party leader as soon as a successor was chosen.

The Liberal Party caucus is poised to choose Michael Ignatieff as their interim leader at a caucus meeting scheduled for Wednesday. New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc is to announce he is dropping out of the race this afternoon to support Ignatieff.

There will still be a Liberal leadership convention in Vancouver in May unless Bob Rae drops out. Rae objects to the Liberal caucus selecting the leader and believes that every Liberal Party member should have a vote. Not surprisingly, Ignatieff is the overwhelming preference of Liberal Party caucus members although Rae does have support amongst Liberals in the Senate. If Ignatieff is chosen at the caucus meeting and Rae opts to continue his campaign then Ignatieff will have a big advantage at the Convention in the spring. I suspect that if the Conservative government of Stephen Harper is toppled next month and Ignatieff is asked by the Governor General to form a government then Rae will drop out of the race. But if Ignatieff either fails to topple the Tories or if he does topple them and the Governor General calls elections and the Liberals lose with Ignatieff at the helm then Rae will have his chance.

Under ordinary circumstances, the Liberals would select an interim leader and wait for Ignatieff and Rae to fight it out in the spring. But since the Liberals have an opportunity to return to power they want their new leader in place by the time the Tories present their budget. The Liberals are trying to get the the Tory government to fall in the House of Commons but might end up bringing down their own house in the process.

Conservatives Tackle Social Media

From #dontgo -

#dontgo Launches Social Media Platoon

On Monday, December 8th www.dontgomovement.com will unveil the Tennessee News Platoon. The website, www.Tennessee.NewsPlatoon.com, will work to promote local government transparency and accountability, provide a news platform for local activism networks, and aggregate the top news stories happening across the state.

State Representative Stacey Campfield (TN-18) states, "I look forward to #dontgo getting together; we'll be able to finally get out our clear concise message that will push for open government and good conservative values. Now more than ever we need people out there rallying conservatives to get more involved and to spread our message. I strongly feel that #dontgo will be able to help in making this happen."

#dontgo originally began as a simple Twitter tag that the founders used to track the energy debate by the US Congress on August 1st. Hundreds of activists, including members of Congress, began using the tag not just to track the energy bill, but to energize supporters and champion fiscal conservative values. Soon thereafter the site www.dontgomovement.com was created and to date has over 30,000 opt-in email subscribers.

The #dontgo Revolution uses web-based strategies and tactics to advance free-market values. Its mission is to develop a fifty state strategy of blogs and internet social networks that would activate more free market conservatives in their communities leading into the 2010 elections.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Obama: Economy Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

President-elect Barack Obama knows he will be coming into office on high expectations of hope and change. Obama knows full well that he cannot live up to those expectations.

So Obama is doing everything to lower the expectations of Americans before he assumes office.

In his interview that aired today with Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press Obama said the state of our economy "was going to get worse before it gets better."

By setting the expectations of Americans so low when things do get better, even marginally, sooner than expected then Obama will get all the credit. Throw in a synchopatic media and you have a formula for a second term in office before the first one even begins.

Although how he'll do that with a public works infrastructure project that digs holes for the sake of filling them in is anybody's guess. Call it a concrete objective without a foundation.

Cholera Epidemic in Zimbabwe

As if things couldn't get worse in Zimbabwe the poverty stricken nation is now facing a cholera epidemic which has cost the lives of at least 600 people and now appears to have spread to neighboring Botswana and Zambia.

Robert Mugabe refuses to share power with Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC.

Calls are growing more frequent for Mugabe to resign. Kenyan Prime Minister Raul Odinga has called upon either African Union or UN peacekeepers to be sent to the southern African nation. Mugabe won't budge on either count.

Zimbabwe's problems won't be solved when Mugabe leaves office whether by hook or by crook. But as long as Mugabe stays things in Zimbabwe will only get worse. AIDS, food shortages, political violence, land confiscation and now cholera. What more can happen? Drought?

Mugabe must be removed. Whether it is by his own military or by foreign troops matters little. Whether dead or alive matters little. Mugabe must go.

A Coalition If Necessary But Not Necessarily A Coalition

My mother left a message with me this morning recounting an interview Liberal MP and Liberal Party leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff did with Michael Enright on CBC Radio. When asked about the possibility of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper being defeated in the House of Commons on a confidence vote after it presents its budget on January 27th and the formation of the coalition government between the Liberals and the NDP Ignatieff said, "A coalition if necessary but not necessarily a coalition."

So the Liberals aren't so enthused about bringing down the government after all. Or at the very least should they bring down the government they don't want Stephane Dion as Prime Minister. A number of Liberal MPs have grumbled about the prospect of Dion becoming Prime Minister and want a new leader selected by the time Parliament resumes. It's understandable. The Liberals received 26% of the vote in the last election and won their fewest number of seats in nearly a quarter century. Liberal MPs were also angry at Dion's response to Prime Minister Harper's address to the nation on Wednesday. Dion's videotaped response was produced on a format inappropriate for broadcast television and looked like an old VCR tape.

John Manley, a former Liberal Minister of Finance, has called on Dion to step down immediately. At present, the Liberals are scheduled to select a new leader at the beginning of May in Vancouver. Manley would also rather the Liberals rebuild themselves rather than allot cabinet posts to the NDP. So maybe the Liberals want a new leader in place so they can defeat the government and have new elections called instead of forming a coalition with the NDP. If that's the case one wonders how much money the Liberals have. After all political parties that lose elections are usually in debt.

Ignatieff has said he is willing to hear what the Tories have to offer in January. His leadership rival Bob Rae is eager to toss out the Tories. Not surprising. After all, it was back in 1979 when Rae moved a vote of non-confidence that brought down the shortlived Tory government of Joe Clark after it delivered its budget. Of course, Ignatieff's open-mindedness might have more to do with the fact that Canadians have thus far sided with Stephen Harper and the Tories in this current row.

Who said Canadian politics was dull?

"Atheists Suck" sign at WA State Capitol display

I was watching The O'Reilly Factor the other night and legal analyst Megan Kelly was debating Bill O'Reilly about the offensive atheist sign Washington Governor Christine Gregoire approved to be displayed next to a nativity scene and Christmas tree. I generally agree with O'Reilly 80% of the time, and Kelly 60-70% of the time. Here I strongly disagreed with Kelly. My favorite area of law has always been constitutional law, particularly involving religion. Kelly said the First Amendment dictates that ALL speech must be allowed, unless it's been specifically prohibited in constitutional law, such as hate speech or obscene speech or yelling Fire! in a crowded movie theater. O'Reilly tried to argue that the Washington State Capitol building rules prohibit disruptive speech, and he also asked Kelly whether a neo-Nazi display must be permitted too. Kelly said yes, it all must come in.

Now, first of all, the First Amendment is just one short sentence, and doesn't address specific types of speech. Obviously, the courts have interpreted the First Amendment over the years to carve out exceptions, like the hate speech exception mentioned above. And the courts have held that the government may set up time, place, and manner restrictions on public displays of free speech. Any kind of content restriction must be content-neutral.

So, based on this analysis of First Amendment law, the government could permit Christmas/holiday displays, but not allow displays unrelated to Christmas/holidays. That is content-neutral, because anything celebrating Christmas/Holidays is permitted. A nasty screed against religion has nothing to do with Christmas/holidays. In fact, it's pretty close to hate speech. If the atheists wanted to contribute something celebrating the Winter Solstice, that wasn't an attack on religion, then perhaps that would pass muster. Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, if the Nativity scene was composed mostly of a large poster saying that atheists were silly and wrong? It would never have been approved.

According to Gregoire's nutty interpretation then, we should be allowed to contribute a sign to the display that says "ATHEISTS SUCK." I'm going to send it in.