Saturday, February 28, 2009

Poem: A Letter From An Unknown Soldier

In response to Obama's announcement concerning the end of the combat mission in Iraq by August 31, 2010 and his speech ( I have composed this poem titled "A Letter From An Unknown Soldier":

Dear Mr. President,

I know you are a busy Commander in Chief
So I will be to the point and brief
I am a Specialist with the 3rd I.D.
With three tours of duty setting Iraqis free
Our mission will be coming to an end soon
I want you to know I'm proud of my platoon

I am well aware you did not like this war from the start
Nevertheless I am proud to have done my part
Even when you called the war dumb
We were able to keep from being numb
I understand you don't have the overwhelming urge
To acknowledge the success of the surge
Instead it seems that you look upon us with pity
As we slowly return to our towns and cities
How quickly you forget we fought of our own volition
For the United States and with our friends in the Coalition

It is true that many of our friends are now wounded or dead
But one cannot make a sacrifice without having first bled
If we are soon to be finished with our task
Then I have only these things to ask
Don't you think it would be just and fair
To declare victory for what we have done there
Do you wish to see our flag raised having prevailed over terror
Or do you only want to see it draped when surrounded by pallbearers
The support of our President is every soldier's need
That is unless you never wanted us to succeed
And since it is our success to which you are opposed
Please find this Purple Heart of mine enclosed

Friday, February 27, 2009

Obama Administration Opts Out of Durban II Conference...For Now

The Obama Administration has come to its senses and will soon announce that it will not be participating in the World Conference Against Racism in Geneva in April (a.k.a. Durban II).

Of course, only days before 9/11, the U.S. and Israel walked out of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa when it passed a string of resolutions that singled Israel out as the only country practicing racism.

The Obama Administration had participated in the planning of the forthcoming meeting as an opportunity to engage with Iran as it is one of the vice-chairs of the prepartory committee. Longtime UN observer Anne Bayefsky strongly criticized the Obama Administration for looking to engage Iran as a higher priority than speaking out against anti-Semitism. When Iran blocked an effort by the EU to include language on the Holocaust the U.S. delegation sat on its thumbs.

Well, the U.S. has now concluded it won't participate after all. That is, unless, they drop any references to Israel or any other country. It is possible the prepatory committee could meet American demands and lure a delegation in only to start bashing Israel once the conference comes to order. This would make the Obama Administration look incredibly stupid. Even if they walk out given previous history common sense dictates this is not a process the U.S. should legitimize.

Why did the U.S. have to send a 7-member delegation to a planning committee for a conference they knew full well was little more than a UN sanctioned hate Israel fest? Canada wisely extricated itself from participating in this sham months ago in solidarity with Israel. The Obama Administration should have done the same.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Check Out My Article "Reagan and Milk" at The American Spectator Online

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on IC titled, "Would Harvey Milk Have Opposed Gay Marriage?"

Well, I have now written what you could call a companion piece titled, "Reagan and Milk." The article asks the question who did more to defeat California's Proposition 6 in 1978 - Reagan or Milk. You would have thought Reagan would have merited a thank you from Sean Penn.

You can check out the article at

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Geert Wilders Makes Appearance in Boston Area

Tonight, I had an opportunity the people of Great Britain were deprived of by their government.

I had the opportunity to see and hear Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

Wilders, of course, is in America to show his film Fitna. This evening Wilders appeared at a synagogue in Stoughton, Massachusetts - about 17 miles south of Boston. The evening began with a viewing of Fitna followed by a speech and a short question and answer period. After the event, I had the opportunity briefly meet and speak with Wilders.

The video of Wilders' speech will be posted on YouTube. Once it is up I will provide a link.

I also plan to write about the evening in more detail next week.

Suffice it to say that Britain's loss is America's gain.

Ivan Cameron, 2002-2009. R.I.P.

Ivan Cameron, the eldest son of British Conservative Party leader David Cameron, died suddenly this morning. He was only six years old.

Cameron's son was severely disabled at birth suffering from a combination of epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Out of respect for Cameron, Prime Minister's Questions was cancelled today.

I was not aware that Prime Minister Gordon Brown also lost a young child. His daughter was born premature and died 10 days later early in 2002.

It is well known that Brown and Cameron viscerally dislike each other. One wonders if their mutual contempt will soften in light of this tragedy. Brown spoke with compassionate eloquence today in the Commons. ( If this event doesn't mend relations between the two in some way then nothing will.

Thoughts on Obama's State of the Union & The Jindal Response

OK, I know no one was referring to it as a State of the Union address but that's what it was.

Much has been said about Obama's more optimistic tone in contrast with his first Presidential press conference and in other remarks notably to the Virginia Democratic Party. But from what I have observed of Obama he doesn't retain a particularly friendly disposition when things don't go his way. Given his ambitious plans with regard to energy, health care and education he is going to meet resistance whether he likes it or not.

Despite the public's reservations about the stimulus they are with Obama for now. However, that can change if Obama doesn't get what he wants concerning energy, health care and education policy. If he loses his poise or shows he isn't amenable to bipartisanship and compromise he will lose support. However, I neither underestimate Obama nor the will of the MSM to whitewash his shortcomings.

As for Bobby Jindal, it was fairly boilerplate stuff. He was well spoken but stiff. I am sure Jindal would do well in a debate with Obama but he lacks the personal touch of Sarah Palin. Besides he is still needed in Louisiana.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

IC Blog Gets Mention in Village Voice

It has come to my attention the IC Blog got a mention in one of the blogs featured in The Village Voice.

Some fellow named Roy Edroso objected to my commentary on the Oscars last night. I took Sean Penn to task for lambasting those who voted for Proposition 8 after he won the Best Actor statue. But Penn has no way of knowing if Harvey Milk would have voted against Prop 8. No one does. After all, there were those in the gay community that did not support his opposition to Proposition 6 in 1978. The gay community did not embrace gay marriage overnight. It is quite possible had Milk lived he might have resisted gay marriage in the same way as those at The Advocate resisted Milk and opposition to Prop 6. Or perhaps not. Either way we cannot assume definitively and must consider all possibilities.

But naturally Edroso misses the point and sarcastically states it's possible Milk could "have turned straight or become a Klansmen."(

Oh well. Better a bad word than no word at all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Two More Notes on the Oscars

Two more comments on the Oscar ceremonies last night. One light and the other serious.

First, Ben Stiller did a hillarious impersonation of Joaquin Phoenix's recent appearance on Lettermen when he was co-presenting the Oscar for Best Cinematography with Natalie Portman.

Second, with all the Oscars Slumdog Millionaire won last night I was saddened none of the winners could find a moment to mention the innocent people killed in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) last November where the film was set. You would think the tragedy would have warranted a sentence. An acknowledgement of some kind. But I suppose Bollywood, like Hollywood, is more inclined to identify with the terrorists than their victims. I guess moviemakers find terrorists more glamorous.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Amnesty, CUPE Bash Israel

Amnesty International has called for an arms embargo against Israel. Amnesty accuses Israel of committing war crimes during its defensive operation in Gaza that took place in December and January.

Yes, Amnesty is also calling for an arms embargo against Hamas. But all that does is place Israel on the same moral plane with a terrorist organization whose raison d'ĂȘtre is to destroy Israel. Like the UN, Amnesty cannot discern between good and evil.

Meanwhile, in Canada, the Ontario section of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has voted to boycott Israeli universities again in protest of Israel's defensive action in Gaza. If Israel is the only country in the world CUPE deems worthy of condemnation it is a strong indication something far more sinister is at work. Namely a concerted campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state, placation of Muslim interests in Canada and by extension the legitimation of anti-Semitism in my home and native land.

Amnesty International and CUPE were once organizations I respected. My respect for them has long since dissolved and these stances only confirm that other organizations are far more worthy of my respect.

My Thoughts on the Oscars

To start with I thought Hugh Jackman was a good host. OK, the musical opening spoofing the films has been done by Billy Crystal and done far better. But let's just say I'll take Jackman over the likes of previous hosts such as Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart or Chris Rock any day of the week.

Who knew Anne Hathaway could sing?

It was nice to see Jerry Lewis honored. Eddie Murphy gave the honor and I told my roommate, "From one Nutty Professor to another." No sooner than I said that then the same words came out of Murphy's mouth. Talk about synchronicity.

Usually Best Actor/Supporting Actor is presented by the previous year's BestActress/Supporting Actress and vice versa. This year each of the four categories was presented by five past winners each highlighting the individual performances of the nominees. I thought it dragged it a bit with Best Supporting Actress which was won by Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

As widely anticipated the late Heath Ledger won for Best Supporting Actor in The Dark Knight which was accepted by his parents and his sister. Ledger became the first posthumous winner of an Oscar since Peter Finch won Best Actor for Network in 1976. His sister stated the Oscar would be given to his 3-year-old daughter Matilda. An observation: his mother is a very beautiful woman.

Kate Winslett won Best Actress for The Reader. It was nice when she asked her Dad to whistle in acknowledgement. My Dad has a big whistle too.

I was hoping Mickey Rourke would win Best Actor for his performance in The Wrestler which I saw earlier today. Rourke goes through hell and back in that performance. But the Oscar went to Sean Penn for Milk which I also saw. The award wasn't undeserved but the scorn he placed on people who voted for Proposition 8 most certainly was undeserved. As I emphasized in my article from earlier this week Harvey Milk never spoke out on the subject of gay marriage and it is quite possible he would have opposed it as other gay activists such as Michael Bronski have. What does Penn think about those people? Penn then gave the obligatory kudos to Obama whom the last time I checked opposed gay marriage. However, his shout out to Mickey Rourke was O.K.

Otherwise Slumdog Millionaire owned the night winning 8 of the 10 Academy Awards for which it was nominated including Best Director for Danny Boyle and Best Picture.

Still, I think Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino should have been nominated for something. At the very least Eastwood should have been nominated for his final acting role. But a movie that emphasizes self-reliance isn't going to win many votes with limousine liberals.

Here's some bold predictions for the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010. Best Picture: Amelia. Best Actress: Hilary Swank, Amelia (it would be her third). Best Director: Mira Nair, Amelia.

Finally, I predict that next year's awards will be hosted by Jack Black.

You read it here first.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Santelli Hits Raw Nerve With Obama White House

Who would have thought the counterrevolution would begin on CNBC?

Yesterday, on the floor of the CME Group in Chicago, CNBC's on air business news editor Rick Santelli lambasted President Obama's near trillion dollar bailout package. Amongst other things Santelli said "government is promoting bad behavior" and challenged the Obama Administration to organize an online vote to see if Americans wanted to "really subsidize the losers' mortgages." He also called for a Chicago Tea Party this July. Santelli received an enthusiastic response from the traders in back and to the side of him. His rant has also resonated with the public.

Needless to say Santelli's rant has become an instant YouTube classic.

It also hit a raw nerve in the Obama Administration. Why else would White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs ridiculously state that Santelli "doesn't know what he's talking about"?

First, the Obama Administration would expect this kind of wallop to come from the Fox News Channel, not CNBC. Second, this wallop took place in Obama's backyard.

Gibbs did go on to say he would like Santelli to come to the White House and read the Obama plan and also offered to buy him a cup of decaffinated coffee. Santelli has said he would be happy to come to the White House but reiterated his preference for tea.

Santelli has been with CNBC for a decade. Today, he's an overnight sensation.

It's been a long first month in office for the Obama Administration.

Bibi is Back

Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been asked by Israeli President Shimon Peres to form a government.

Although Likud won one less seat than Tzipi Livni's Kadima last week the smaller parties in the Knesset such as Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu have indicated they would be more comfortable with Netanyahu back at the helm. However, Netanyahu on the advice of Peres will attempt to form a national unity government with Livni as well as Labor led by Ehud Barak.

For her part, Livni has said her party will not partake in any government that does not move the peace process forward. Bibi runs the risk of alienating his political allies if he appears to be caving into Livni. I suspect that Livni will not join the government and Netanyahu will form a government with Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas possibly Labor and other smaller parties. This will not make him popular with Obama but Israel's survival isn't a popularity contest.

Whatever the case it is a remarkable comeback for Netanyahu who has spent much of the past decade in the political wilderness as I wrote in my IC column following the election. (

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Biden Bashes Bush Over Al Qaeda Recruitment

Today, Vice-President Joe Biden swore in new CIA chief Leon Panetta. As he did so, Biden said the Bush Administration's detention and interrogation policies "gave al Qaeda a powerful recruiting tool."

What gives al Qaeda a powerful recruiting tool are signs of weakness as occurred with our reactions to the first WTC attack, the attack on our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole.

All Biden does is tell the world that America is the problem. I'm glad Jeanne Kirkpatrick isn't alive to hear it.

Obama Says He Loves Canada

I watched the CBC Newsworld's coverage of the joint press conference between President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Obama began the press conference inauspiciously by saying it was "a great pleasure to be in Iowa, er, Ottawa."

However, the President had the Canadian press corps in the palm of his hand when he proclaimed, "I love this country." Indeed, he thanked Canadians who traveled here to campaign for him.

The feeling is mutual as Obama is more popular in Canada than he is down here (which will undoubtedly annoy my mother.) Although he did note he preferred to return when the whether warms up illicting much laughter. So the Canadian press slobbers over Obama just as much as the MSM down here.

Bus it turns out Obama's brother-in-law is from Canada. I must confess I did not know that. Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro married Konrad Ng of Burlington, Ontario in 2004. In August of that year, Obama visited his in laws traveling to Toronto, Mississauga and Niagara Falls. (

Prior to the press conference Obama and Harper met for about half an hour and discussed economic recovery, clean energy, border security and Afghanistan. Obama made a point of stating that Harper government was one he "could work with." Although Harper is a Tory he was no doubt happy to get the Obama seal of approval.

Prime Minister Harper was asked by a reporter if Obama had pressed him to extend Canada's military commitment in Afghanistan beyond 2011. Obama interjected that he had not done so and had only thanked Harper for Canada's efforts in Afghanistan. It is worth noting that shortly after Obama's election Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had formally asked his Canadian counterpart Peter MacKay to extend the mission. MacKay declined. It will be interesting to see if Obama leans on Harper if things do not improve in Afghanistan over the next two years.

Several thousand people were gathered outside Parliament Hill to catch a sighting of Obama both on his way and out. It was a small crowd by Obama's standards but a loud one.

Obama then made his way into Ottawa's Byward Market for an impromptu visit where he sampled a "beaver tail." As someone who lived in Ottawa for nearly a decade I can tell you a beaver tail is a fried doughnut usually flavored with cinnamon and is shaped like a beaver tail. But beaver tails can be thick and tough. My father chipped a tooth on one when he tried to bite into one when he visited Ottawa about a decade ago.

At this hour, Obama is meeting with Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff and Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae. Interestingly, NDP leader Jack Layton does not get to meet with his socialist comrade. This is probably as dissapointing to the NDP as not being able to bring down the Conservative government late last year and get those elusive cabinet posts.

Obama ends his trip to Canada by meeting with U.S. Embassy staff and their families before boarding Air Force One.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Holder Calls America "A Nation of Cowards" When It Comes To Race

Speaking before employees at the Department of Justice in Washington today, Attorney General Eric Holder referred to America as "essentially a nation of cowards" when it comes to race relations.

Holder also called present day America "voluntarily socially segregated" and that "average Americans do not talk enough with each other about things racial."

This begs the following questions.

1. Does Holder believe this cowardice applies to all Americans or does it only apply to whites?

2. Does Holder believe all races are equally guilty of voluntary social segregation or does he believe this is the exclusive behavior of whites?

3. Does Holder believe average Americans of all races do not talk enough with each other about things racial or again does this only apply to whites?

4. Regardless of how Holder would answer question #3 what sort of things does he think "average Americans" ought to discuss when it comes to race? Perhaps it is not question of Americans not discussing race but rather saying the things he wants to hear.

5. Most importantly are we now to assume that President Obama shares Holder's view that America is a "nation of cowards"? Somehow I think Obama would have got as far as Al Sharpton had he endorsed such a sentiment.

This was Holder's most interesting passage:

To make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other to have a frank conversation about the racial matters that continue to divide us.

Well, the Attorney General had better be careful for what he wishes.

I, for one, do not appreciate being called a racist because I chose not to vote for Barack Obama.

I, for one, do not appreciate civil rights luminaries like John Lewis likening John McCain and Sarah Palin to George Wallace.

I, for one, do not appreciate the likes of Kanye West accusing President Bush of not caring about black people.

I, for one, do not appreciate it when African Americans who don't toe the party line (i.e. Ward Connerly, Michael Steele, Clarence Thomas, etc.) are referred to as Uncle Toms or have Oreo cookies tossed in their direction.

I, for one, do not appreciate it when those who object to affirmative action policies are dismissed as racist without a proper evaluation of their objections.

Frank conversations cut both ways. In the spirit of frankness, I must state I do not find Holder's remarks at all helpful.

UAE Refuses Visa for Israeli Tennis Player

The United Arab Emirates has denied Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe'er a visa to compete in the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships this week despite qualifying for the tournament.

The Women's Tennis Association currently ranks Pe'er 45th in the world.

The official explanation for her exclusion concerns Israel's recent defensive operation in the Gaza Strip. According to Salah Tahlak, the director of the tournament, "Public sentiment remains high in the Middle East and fans and we have watched live television coverage of the recent attacks in Gaza. We believe that Shahar Pe'er's presence would have antagonized our fans." (

Well, the reason for that public sentiment against Israel is due because of sensationalism in the UAE media which accuses Israel of deliberating targeting UN staff in Gaza. ( This despite the fact the UNRWA itself has acknowledged Israel did not attack its facilities.

If the Obama Administration ever ran afoul of the UAE would it not grant visas to the Williams sisters? Don't bet on it.

The Tennis Channel will not cover the tournament in protest and The Wall Street Journal has withdrawn its sponsorship. The WTA is considering discontinuing the tournament next year.

Although several of Pe'er's colleagues such as Elena Dementieva and Ana Ivanovic expressed their disappointment they are still partaking in the tournament. Other players ought to have refused to play in support of their colleague. If the Williams sisters plus the game's top male players Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had said they wouldn't go to Dubai over Pe'er's exclusion the UAE would back down faster than you could say game-set-match. The fact they have remained silent is disturbing.

Pakistan Can't Do Swat

A couple of days ago the Pakistani government essentially handed over the Swat Valley to the Taliban allowing them to impose Sharia law in exchange for a ceasefire.

The Swat Valley used to be a tourist area known as "the Switzerland of Pakistan."

Do you get the feeling the Taliban could take over Pakistan anytime it wants?

I am not longing for the return of Pervez Musharraf. He was no more effective against the Taliban and might have actually been helping it. Musharraf had no problem turning over North Waziristan over to the Taliban back in September 2006.

Of course, the West hopes the Swat Valley will be sufficient to satiate the Taliban. But what if the Taliban gets hungry and decides satiate its appetite in Islamabad?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chavez Wins Venezuela Referendum

Well, so Hugo Chavez won't be leaving office in 2013 after all.

Tonight, Chavez won a referendum that would allow him to run for office indefinitely with approximately 54% support.

Back in December 2007, Venezuelans rejected sweeping constitutional changes that would have allowed him to run indefinitely.

Instead of throwing the kitchen sink at Venezuelans he sold them on the idea that he needed more time to complete his socialist revolution.

I look at it this way. If Chavez had lost tonight he would have had another referendum in 15 months time. Or until he got what he wanted.

Should Chavez lose at the polls in 2013 don't expect him to abide by the results. Chavez wants to be President for Life.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Two Members of Chuck Mangione's Band Killed Aboard Continental Airlines Flight 3407

The more I read about the Continental Airlines crash outside of Buffalo on Thursday night the sadder it gets.

Of course, 9/11 widow Beverly Eckert was killed aboard the flight.

Today, I find out that two members of Chuck Mangione's band were also amongst the 49 passengers and crew killed aboard the flight with one person killed on the ground. Saxophonist Gerry Niewood grew up with Mangione in Rochester and has been performing with Mangione since high school. Jazz guitarist Coleman Mellett was also aboard. He joined Mangione's band a decade ago while only in his 20s. Mellett was married to Jeanie Bryson, the daughter of the late jazz trumpet player Dizzie Gillespie.

Niewood and Mellett were going to join Mangione to play a concert with the Buffalo Phiharmonic Orchestra scheduled for Friday night. The concert was cancelled.

I have long been a Chuck Mangione fan (who is probably best known to most for his occasional guest appearances on the FOX animated series King of the Hill.) His 1979 soundtrack album Children of Sanchez was one of three albums we listened to in the year my family spent on sabbatical in Victoria, British Columbia. The other two were Share The Land by the The Guess Who and The Seventh Son by Mose Allison.

I had the opportunity to see Mangione in concert at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston in late 2000 and briefly met with him. Niewood and Mellett would have been there too.

But for the Grace of G-d.

Zimbabwe Charges Bennett With Treason

Zimbabwean authorities have charged Roy Bennett with treason.

Yesterday, he was detained at an airport outside Harare upon returning from two years exile in South Africa after new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had appointed him Deputy Minister of Agriculture. The government claims Bennett has an arms cache. Bennett is a white farmer who had his land confiscated by the Mugabe government earlier this decade and subsequently became an MDC activist and an MP representing Chimanimani, a constituency near the border with Mozambique.

I first read about Bennett in Peter Godwin's book When A Crocodile Eats The Sun which I reviewed at IC in September 2007. ('s-when-a-crocodile-eats-the-sun/)

This represents a huge test for Tsvangirai which he is almost certain not to pass. The reason Mugabe had Bennett arrested was to put Tsvangirai in a no win situation. If Tsvangirai sticks up for Bennett then Mugabe will call him an agent of the white man, the colonialists and the West. These statements still resonate in southern Africa. If Tsvangirai does nothing then Mugabe can say he is no different in power than anyone else.

As I wrote yesterday being Prime Minister of Zimbabwe is the worst job in the world.

Friday, February 13, 2009

9/11 Widow Killed in Buffalo Plane Crash

This is just awful.

I have just read on ABC News website that Beverly Eckert, a 9/11 widow, was one of the 50 people killed last night in the Continental Connection Flight 3407 crash outside of Buffalo. (

Eckert's husband, Sean Rooney, was killed when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. She was flying to Buffalo in honor of what would have been her husband's 58th birthday. A scholarship had been set up in his name at the high school they both attended. She was going to be on hand to present a scholarship to a student.

Eckert was involved with Voices of September 11th and was amongst the 9/11 relatives who met with President Obama last week at the White House to discuss why he had dropped charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the man who bombed the U.S.S. Cole in October 2000.

When I read this item I remembered back to last Sunday when I watched 60 Minutes story on the Miracle on the Hudson. One of the survivors mentioned that his brother had been killed on September 11, 2001 and how his family could not bear another tragedy. I can scarcely what imagine what her family must being going through at this moment. It is said that everything does happen for a reason. No one ever said the reason had to be good.

Tsvangirai Finally PM of Zimbabwe But Key Ally Arrested

Two days ago, after months of chaos, Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

Being Prime Minister of Zimbabwe is probably the worst job in the world given the conditions under which he is working. Tsvangirai is under the thumb of Mugabe and can't get help from the outside world because they don't recognize its legitimacy even though he has been included in the new government.

I never thought Mugabe would ever share power with anyone. Well, you can be sure Mugabe is going to make life hell for Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change. Not that he hasn't done so before but now he has to share power with Tsvangirai he will undermine every which way he can.

For instance, the police arrested MDC activist Roy Bennett today at an airport outside Harare. Bennett is a white farmer who had his land confiscated by Mugabe earlier this decade and became active in the MDC. He was elected as an MP in 2000. However, like many other opposition activists he has been jailed. Bennett has spent the last two years living in exile in South Africa. Tsvangirai had tapped Bennett to be Deputy Minister of Agriculture but was arrested at an airport outside Harare upon returning to the country.

These are the sort of stunts Mugabe is going to pull on Tsvangirai probably in an effort to get him to resign. What does Tsvangirai do? There's probably not much he can do right now except to build alliances with constituencies that have been traditionally loyal to Mugabe namely the military. Of course, just like everything else time is in short supply in Zimbabwe.

Tragedy in Buffalo

With all the difficulty with the economy not to mention our involvement in two wars, the Miracle on the Hudson gave the country a chance to smile and rejoice in the heroism of Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenburger, the flight crew on U.S. Airways Flight 1549 and the port workers who saved the lives of all 150 passengers on board that flight. But with every miracle soon comes a tragedy to remind us that things too often don't go the way they should resulting in catastrophic consequences.

Last night, Continental Connection Flight 3407 bound from Newark to Buffalo crashed into a house outside of Buffalo killing all 49 passengers and crew as well as one person on the ground. It was the first commercial plane crash that resulted in a fatality in more than 2½ years. It is believed that ice on the wings may have caused the crash but the NTSB will obviously need to do a full investigation.

There will be no keys to the city handed out, no interviews on 60 Minutes and Letterman or standing ovation on Broadway.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gregg Withdraws Nomination as Commerce Secretary

Well, Judd Gregg will be staying in the Senate after all.

The New Hampshire Senator has withdrawn his name from consideration for Commerce Secretary due to "irresolvable differences."

First, Gregg had major problems with the $789 billion stimulus bill which is due to be passed by the House tomorrow.

Second, it was clear that Obama didn't trust Gregg from the get go. No sooner than Obama had appointed Gregg when it was announced that the 2010 Census would be run by the White House and not the Commerce Secretary. How can Obama claim to be bipartisan when he appoints a Republican to his Cabinet and then immediately strips him of his duties?

Gregg the second appointee to withdraw from the Commerce post. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson withdrew last month due to a federal investigation into a pay to play scheme for state government contracts.

Will Obama appoint another Republican at Commerce or will he go with a Democrat? If he picks a Democrat, I think Obama will quietly give the Census back to Commerce.

Wilders Denied Entry Into Britain

Earlier this week, Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders was denied entry into Britain by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Today, Wilders tested the ban and was turned away at Heathrow Airport.

Wilders had been invited by Lord Pearson to a showing of his film Fitna in the House of Lords. (I wrote about Fitna at IC in April 2008 -'t-anti-muslim/.) However, the Home Secretary denied Wilders permission to enter the country due to his views. Smith referred to Wilders as an "undesirable person." A spokesperson for the Home Secretary said Her Majesty's government opposes "extremism in all its forms."

However, that didn't prevent Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi from attending a conference in London last November. I guess Her Majesty's Government doesn't consider Hezbollah's views to be extremist.

Wilders is right to call the Labour government of Gordon Brown "the biggest bunch of cowards in Europe." He also said, "They are more Chamberlain than Churchill."

Alas I am afraid Britain can no longer be called Great. The Muslims have the British government so intimidated it is only a matter of time before the U.K. becomes an Islamic state.
Frankly, I don't think there's an inch of difference between Labour and the Conservatives. The Tories under David Cameron are a continent away from Margaret Thatcher. They are every bit politically correct, Obama loving and Israel hating as the Labourites.

The Britain of fish and chips, Open All Hours and the Magna Carta is dead.

Selig Contemplates Suspending A-Rod

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is contemplating suspending Alex Rodriguez for admitted he used performance enhancing substances while with the Texas Rangers.

This proposition is totally ridiculous.

MLB began testing players in 2003 and 104 players including A-Rod tested positive. This was done through the Commissioner's office. Is Selig telling us he never knew which players tested positive in 2003?

The only reason A-Rod made these admissions was because someone leaked his name. Remember that MLB and the MLBPA agreed that the results would be confidential. Someone breached that confidence. Perhaps someone from Commissioner Selig's office. If anyone deserves punishment it is that individual.

If Selig does suspend A-Rod he is effectively discouraging other players from coming forward.
He would also apply arbitrary standards. When A-Rod's former teammate Jason Giambi came forward he was not punished due to his communications with former Senator George Mitchell.

Hopefully some lawyer in the Commissioner's office will tell Selig that if he suspends A-Rod than an arbitrator would overturn the ruling in a heartbeat. The MLBPA would not take such an infringement for a nanosecond.

However, the MLBPA is also coming under scrutiny. A-Rod has received a letter from Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, a ranking member of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee. Cummings has asked A-Rod to meet with hima and Committee staff to discuss performance enhancing drugs and whether Gene Orza, the Chief Operating Officer of MLB gave any players a heads up on testing since the end of the 2004 season.

New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman has said the team with deal with A-Rod's admission.

So much for the truth setting one free.

Here's a prediction. Because of chain reaction of events I think A-Rod will sit out the 2009 season.

Darwin @ 200

First of all, isn't it amazing that two of the greatest figures in history - Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day?

Darwin is a deeply divisive figure among conservatives as is the whole Theory of Evolution.
Whatever shortcomings Evolution might have they pale in comparison to the flaws inherent in Intelligent Design.

When I first heard the term Intelligent Design I thought to myself that this was nothing more than creationism dressed up in the clothes of the new millenium. This was the height of the controversy that erupted with the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania a few years ago. In 2007, the PBS program Nova broadcast a documentary titled Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. ( In commemoration of Darwin's 200th birthday the program was re-broadcast this week on PBS stations throughout the country.

Whatever the liberal bias of PBS, I have watched this program several times. I can say without any hesitation that the advocates for Intelligent Design were given a fair hearing. Their arguments just aren't very persuasive.

Simply put Intelligent Design is not science and ought not be taught in science class. However, if the proponents of ID could find a mechanism by which their theory can be tested it would be worth another look. But until then ID has no place with bunsen burners. This doesn't preclude ID from being discussed in civics, current events, social studies, etc.

Of course, it has been noted that both former President Bush and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin have publicly said both evolution and ID should be taught in the classroom. I will say here that those who oppose ID are being alarmist here. Neither Bush nor Palin have turned their personal views on ID into government policy. You could call their thinking on the subject, well, evolved.

Lincoln @ 200

It is amazing that more than 140 years after his assassination, Abraham Lincoln's stature has only grown. What would he have thought had he known 200 years after his birth he would be arguably the most admired American who ever lived?

You see this admiration in small ways. Lincoln shows up in commercials for sleeping pills as an insomniac's illusion but one you can trust. Not sure when you need to change your tires? Use a penny and if you see the top of Abe's head then you need new tires. If Honest Abe says you need to spend $300 for new tires you don't question him.

Even though President Obama has been in office less than a month he has been compared to Lincoln. Of course, Obama has used Lincoln as a backdrop when he launched his Presidential campaign in front of the Old Illinois State House two years ago or when he spoke in front of the Lincoln Memorial days before his inauguration.

Yet I believe Lincoln has more in common with President Bush than he does with President Obama. In paying tribute to Lincoln in 2007, the Library of Congress noted Lincoln was "considered a simpleton by Civil War-era literati." (

If Lincoln were President of the United States today do you think the chattering classes would admire him? If the Left bemoans the War in Iraq because more than 4,000 soldiers have lost their lives then what would they have thought of the Civil War that cost the lives of more than 600,000 soldiers on both sides?

President Obama bemoaned the Bush Administration for "suspending habeas corpus" when they did no such thing. Yet President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in April 1861. President Obama demanded Gitmo and is going to do it. Yet President Lincoln had his own Gitmo for high level Confederate prisoners of war on Georges Island in Boston Harbor. I can see it now. "Close Georges Island."

President Lincoln's greatest legacy was ending slavery but it came at a high price. Any noble thing does and the goodness that comes of it is only realized many years after the fact. President Bush ended subjugation for millions of Afghanis and Iraqis but it comes at a high price. The goodness of these acts are still years away from being fully appreciated.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Roberto Alomar Sued By Ex-Girlfriend For Unprotected Sex; Claims He Has AIDS

On Monday it was Alex Rodriguez. On Tuesday it was Miguel Tejada. Today it's Roberto Alomar.

OK, Alomar is retired. But still with everyday comes another headline with a baseball player.

Alomar is being sued by Ilya Dall, his former girlfriend for $15 million for having unprotected sex while having HIV. The ex-girlfriend does not have HIV but claims Alomar was diagnosed with full blown AIDs in 2006. (

Alomar, who turned 41 on February 5th, has not made any comment on the matter. However, his father Sandy Alomar, a former major league player who is the bench coach for the New York Mets said the AIDS diagnosis is news to him.

He played in the big leagues from 1988 through 2004 with the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. Alomar won World Series rings with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. He finished his career with a .300 lifetime batting average and 10 Gold Gloves for his stellar play at second base. His brother Sandy, Jr also played in the big leagues.

He becomes eligible to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 2010. However, I don't Alomar is a first ballot Hall of Famer and this lawsuit will prevent him from being voted in on his first try.

There was also an incident he had with umpire John Hirshbeck in September 1996 which I saw live on television. Alomar was with the Orioles and was playing a game in his own stomping grounds in Sky Dome (he lived at the hotel during his days with the Blue Jays.) Alomar berated Hirshbeck on a called third strike. Hirschbeck allegedly used a racial epithet. Alomar responded by spitting in his face and making comments about Hirschbeck's son who had died of ALD. MLB suspended Alomar for 5 games and was fine $50,000 which he donated to the ALD Foundation. Alomar and Hirschbeck publicly settled their differences the following season and have appeared in public together on several occasions to raise money for ALD research.

So what to make of this lawsuit? Did Dall see the headlines about A-Rod and Tejada and decide to cash in? I don't think she has much of a case. Even if Alomar does have AIDS why was this woman still living with him after the time she alleges he was diagnosed with the disease? Either she's lying about his medical condition or if he is sick she is trying to take advantage of him.

Brett Favre Retires...Again

Brett Favre has announced his retirement from the NFL...again.

It was nearly a year ago when Favre announced his retirement after 16 seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

Three months later, Favre changed his mind and wanted his old job back. The problem was the Packers were committed to a new starting quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.

After much hemming and hawing, Favre was eventually traded to the New York Jets for a fourth round draft pick.

At first it looked like Favre would get the last laugh. The Jets were much improved and won 8 of their first 11 games. They appeared playoff bound. But the Jets lost five of their final six games and would not make the playoffs. To make matters worse the Miami Dolphins won the AFC East led by quarterback Chad Pennington who the Jets let go to make room for Favre. The Jets fired head coach Eric Mangini who has since become the head coach for the Cleveland Browns.

Retirement in sports doesn't mean the same thing it once did. Back in the day when an athlete retired he stay retired. But Michael Jordan retired and unretired three times. Roger Clemens turned it into an artform. Mario Lemieux comes to mind as well although his comeback was more satisfying due to his illness.

If Favre gets an opportunity to play this season he will. Do I hear the Minnesota Vikings calling through their horn?

Thoughts on D'Souza's The Enemy At Home

I have read Nathan Alexander's review of Dinesh D'Souza The Enemy At Home which can be found on the top of IC's front page today.

When the book came out two years ago I reviewed the book. Let's just say I was far less generous to D'Souza than Nathan. ('souza-gets-september-11th-wrong/)

There is much to criticize about the "cultural Left" in the United States but I don't accept D'Souza's notion there would be no September 11th without the cultural left. At worst, the "cultural Left" aided and abetted those who attacked America by putting American power on the same plane with Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

Let us also remember that D'Souza goes as far as to say the September 11th attacks were not an act of terrorism at least where it concerned the Pentagon. The families of those aboard American Airlines Flight 77 might beg to differ. D'Souza also argues that al Qaeda was more interested in destroying the Pentagon and World Trade Center than actually killing the people inside them. He asked if the attacks would have been less an act of war if no one was in the buildings at the time. Well, as we all know the attacks took place at the height of morning rush hour. If D'Souza doesn't believe al Qaeda was trying murder as many innocent people as possible then he is beyond any help.

D'Souza also doesn't consider Palestinian suicide bombers to be terrorists but considers Israeli responses to Palestinian attacks to be acts of state terror. He believes the Palestinians only want land and they pose no threat to the United States. Yes, the Palestinians want land. All of Israel to be exact. The Palestinians might not pose a military threat to the United States. Technically neither does Afghanistan. But that didn't prevent Afghanistan from harboring terrorists who successfully carried out an attack on our soil. Who can say the Palestinians wouldn't do the same? Let us never forget the Palestinians who cheered and danced in the streets when bodies were being pulled out of the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tejada Charged With Lying to Congress

Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada has been charged with lying to Congress concerning testimony he gave with respect to conversations he had with Adam Piatt, a former teammate with the Oakland Athletics from 2000 through the middle of the 2003 season.

Piatt admitted in the Mitchell Report to using steroids and supplying them to others. Tejada had written two checks to Piatt worth nearly $10,000 for steroids, HGH and testoterone during spring training in 2003. Tejada had previously denied he ever used performance enhancing drugs and claimed to have no knowledge of anyone else's involvement the latter of which got Tejada into trouble. He is due to appear in federal court tomorrow having agreed to a plea agreement. He could face up to a year in jail.

Tejada's name first came up when back in 2005 Rafael Palmeiro claimed that Tejada had provided him with a B-12 shot which resulted in a positive test. Months earlier Palmeiro had testified in front of Congress that he never used performance enhancers.

The 34-year-old Dominican born Tejada has played in the bigs since 1997. Tejada has played with the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and Houston Astros. He joined the Astros prior to 2008 season in a trade that sent outfielder Luke Scott and three other players to the Orioles. In 2002, Tejada won the American League MVP. With A-Rod's admission, Tejada becomes the second AL MVP to admit wrongdoing with regard to performance enhancing drugs.

At this hour, Tejada is holding a press conference at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

What a way to begin spring training.

Panel Recommends Ban on Fighting in Hockey

A panel has recommended the fighting be banned in hockey at all levels.

This was one of the recommendations made as a result of the Hockey Concussion Summit that was held last month in London, Ontario. The panel included the NHL, NHL Players Association, the Ontario Hockey League as well as several former NHL players including Eric Lindros whose career ended prematurely due to a concussion.

I am probably one of the few Canadians who didn't grow up a hockey fan. The constant fighting was a turn off for me. It seemed so gratuitous. Sure there are fights in other sports but they don't occur in every game. As the late Rodney Dangerfield would tell it, "There was a fight and a hockey game broke out." Fisticuffs are so ingrained in hockey that banning fighting would be like trying to box without throwing a punch.

Back in 1995, I interned for a British Labour MP named Jimmy Wray. He was a boxer before entering politics. During my stay in London there was a call by MPs to ban boxing in Britain. This was after a super middleweight fight between Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellan which I saw live on TV in a pub at the International Students House. Although McLellan nearly knocked out Benn in the first round it was Benn who ended up winning the fight and McLellan sustained brain damage losing his eyesight and most of his hearing. I remember telling people late in the fight that McClellan didn't look right.

Of course when MPs say that they want boxing banned they know it won't happen. But it will get them attention from the press. So Jimmy decided to organize a luncheon of MPs, Lords, members of the British Board of Boxing Control and boxing luminaries such as Prince Naseem Hamed, Frank Bruno and Frank Warren. Prince Naseem would later become a World Featherweight Champion while Bruno was a few months away from becoming the WBC Heavyweight Champion. Bruno is probably best known for having lost two fights to Mike Tyson. Warren was Britain's answer to Don King and in fact were business partners.

Boxing probably has a bigger following in Britain than it does in America. Needless to say the press was very interested in this luncheon because of Bruno and Naseem not because they were interested in seeing boxing banned much less wanted to see boxing made safer. Take it from me it's pretty challenging to get MPs, Lords and other luminaries in one place at the same time for a photo shoot but it got done.

There will always be risks in boxing. But I think the world is better off with it. Boxing gives young men (and young women) a sense of discipline. If you think boxing is an opportunity for bullies then forget it. The last thing any boxing club wants around is someone who thinks he's going to beat the holy hell out of everyone. There's hitting but there is a time and a place for getting hit.

I would find hockey more interesting without the fighting and I guess if I had to watch hockey I'd rather watch womens' hockey. But you can't eliminate fighting from hockey anymore than you can eliminate a brushback pitch in baseball. Sure I will go to a Bruins game once in a blue moon. When I go I know there's a reasonable chance there could be a fight at some point during the game. If you don't want to see a hockey fight then don't go to the arena or if you see it on TV then change the channel.

While I'm all for giving athletes as much protection as practically possible its delusional to think one can change the nature of hockey much less competitive sports. I'm sure the Hockey Concussion Summit does as well and in the name of eliminating cross checks are just looking for a headline.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thoughts on Obama’s 1st Press Conference

I watched Obama’s first press conference. He spent a week with us one evening.

At the very least it was a gross oversimplification of thins. If you weren’t for the stimulus you were for doing nothing. Me good. Republicans bad. Good me reach out to Republicans and all they have to do is not listen to Limbaugh. Is that so hard to ask? Republicans should set aside their small differences. What does Obama consider to be a small difference? Not that Obama cares much. After all he said he isn’t going to take criticism from those who doubled the size of the deficit. Never mind much of that increase was as a result of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Speaking of Iraq Obama acknowleded Iraqs nascent democracy was functioning in a meaningful way. Not bad for a dumb war.

One note about Iran. Obama noted there is a lot of mistrust between the U.S. and Iran. Well, you don’t say. There’s the small matter of taking American hostages at our Embassy in Tehran. The killing of 241 U.S. soldiers in Lebanon and their role in killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Obama insists this is the worse economic crisis since The reat Depression. So far it isn’t. It hasn’t quite reached the level of the late 1970s or early 1980s. Although there is certainly reason enough to believe it will be worse before it is better.

Jake Tapper at ABC News asked the best question of the evening when he asked Obama to define the measures by which the economy would improve. Obama replied:

1. Create or save 4 million jobs.
2. Ensure credit markets operate effectively.
3. Stabilize the housing market.
4. Stop the economy from contracting.

If Obama is going to stop the economy from contraction then I suspect that he would likely save more jobs than actually create any new jobs. Not that government can create jobs in the first place.

But Obama did make the point of saying he wasnt going to get all he wanted in the stimulus package. People will perceive that Obama is amenable to compromise and that will buy him both goodwill and time.

Senator Patrick Leahy or The Boston Globe? Who is More Daft?

That is a real toss up.

Today, the senior Senator from Vermont told an audience at Georgetown University that there should be a "truth and reconciliation commission" to look into wrongdoings during the Bush Administration.

But Foon Rhee, Deputy National Political Editor at The Boston Globe, had this lead in to the story:

South Africa used one to get past apartheid after the end of white-minority rule.

Now, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is proposing one to sift through all the wreckage of the Bush Administration. (

Let me get this straight. Are Senator Leahy and The Boston Globe actually comparing the Bush Administration to South Africa during the Apartheid era?

Criticize the Bush Administration all you want. But to compare any actions taken by the Bush Administration to the political violence set out by the Apartheid regime against the majority of its populace is at the very minimum odious and displays an inability to distinguish between democratic and authoritarian regimes.

So who is more daft? It is a draw. Both are equally daft. Senator Leahy and The Boston Globe should know better.

A-Rod Admits to Taking Performance Enhancers

Alex Rodriguez has admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs during his stint with the Texas Rangers between 2001 and 2003.

After spending his first six big league seasons with the Seattle Mariners, A-Rod signed a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Rangers prior to 2001. At the time it was the largest contract in professional sports. A-Rod put up enormous numbers with the Rangers. In 2001, A-Rod hit .318 with 52 homeruns and 135 RBI. The following season he hit .300 with a career high 57 homeruns while driving in 142 runs. His numbers tapered off slightly in 2003 with a .298 batting average, 47 homeruns and 118 runs driven in yet captured the first of three American League MVP Awards.

A-Rod was traded to the New York Yankees prior to the 2004 season for Alfonso Soriano. A-Rod won two more MVPs as a Yankee in 2005 and 2007. A-Rod, however, has never played in a World Series nor has he played particularly well in the post-season.

In an interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons, A-Rod said he took performance enhancers because he felt pressure to live up to that contract:

When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day. Back then (baseball) was a different culture. It was very loose. I was young. I was stupid. I was naive. I wanted to prove to everyone I was worth being one of the greatest players of all time.

If A-Rod was young, stupid and naive between 2001 and 2003 what was he in 2007 and 2008 when he cheated on his wife?

But, in fairness, to A-Rod this information should have never come to light. As I wrote this morning the testing done during the 2003 season was to remain confidential whether it be a journeyman player or a superstar. Just because A-Rod makes more money than anyone and dates Madonna doesn't mean he should be exposed in this manner.

On the other hand now that A-Rod has come clean about his past and provided he doesn't test positive again he should be able to whether the storm. Should he be able to pass Bonds I am sure this incident will be highlighted but if he stays out of trouble it will weigh less significantly on his career than one might otherwise expect.

The fans at Fenway Park on the other hand.....

Ahmadinejad vs. Khatami

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be facing off against his predecessor Mohammed Khatami in this June's election. Khatami served as Iran's President between 1997 and 2005.

There is no doubt that the Obama Administration is rooting for Khatami to win. If he does then there will be surely be a one on one meeting between Obama and Khatami. The international community views Khatami as a "moderate" and Obama can say, "See, the Iranian people booted out that extremist Ahmadinejad."

It is true that Khatami doesn't go around in public saying Israel should be destroyed or the Holocaust never happened. But make no mistake. The mullahs call the shots and mullahs decide who runs for President. If Khatami was truly a threat to their power let alone to the continuation of the Islamic Republic then Khatami would not see the light of day.

Should Khatami get elected there might be a loosening of social mores as a gesture of good will to the West. But those changes will be little more than cosmetic ones. In June 2005, I wrote an article about Nazar Afisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. (

Afisi did not think a great deal of either Khatami or his predecessor Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and their so called liberalism. She wrote, "Those who took his reforms seriously paid a heavy price, sometimes with their lives, while their captors went free and unpunished."

Let's also remember that Khatami came to America in the fall of 2006 to sing the praises of Hezbollah.

Frankly, it doesn't matter who the President of Iran is. The Islamic Republic of Iran will not surrender its nuclear ambitions, waiver in its desire to destroy Israel or relent on spreading the influence of Shi'a Islam. Khatami might present a friendlier face but he carries a sword underneath his robe just the same.

Thoughts on A-Rod

As much as I loathe the New York Yankees, I do not like what Alex Rodriguez is going through at the moment.

Several sources have told Sports Illustrated that A-Rod tested positive for steroids during the 2003 season. That year A-Rod won the AL MVP while with the Texas Rangers and would join the Yankees the following season.

MLB and the MLBPA tested players during the 2003 season to see if further testing was warranted. Both sides were under court order not to publicize the results.

Needless to say we don't know if A-Rod was amongst the 104 players who tested positive that season. The fact that his name has been mentioned is probably enough to convince people of his culpability. Of course, his other off the field behavior hasn't done much to endear himself especially with regard to his marital fidelity.

But suppose he did test positive. Why is A-Rod being singled out? Because he denied it to Katie Couric on 60 Minutes? Because he's dating Madonna? Because he could pass the all time homerun record? Perhaps. But Red Sox pitching great Curt Schilling says that if A-Rod's name is out there why not everyone else? Either its totally confidential or its totally public. There's very little middle ground here.

Assuming the reports are correct it is intriguing that Barry Bonds name wasn't mentioned. You would think if Bonds had tested positive at the same time A-Rod did it would have merited a mention.

At the same time Bonds was chasing Hank Aaron in 2007, A-Rod hit his 500th career homerun. The joke was that Commissioner Bud Selig wanted A-Rod to hit his next 250 homeruns faster Bonds would hit his next four to pass Aaron. Now I bet Selig hopes someone either hits .400 or hits in 57 straight games. Homerun records are the last thing Selig wants to acknowledge.

But for the record A-Rod enters the 2009 season with 553 career homeruns and is only 210 homeruns away from passing Bonds. Assuming he remains healthy and is able to weather this storm he could conceivably do it sometime in 2013. He would be 38 years old. Of course, by then baseball could be all about hitting for average, stolen bases and sacrifice bunts. Then again people still go to the ballpark to see homeruns whether they admit it or not.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

James Whitmore, 1921-2009. R.I.P.

Actor James Whitmore died today from lung cancer. He was 87.

Whitmore did it all. He was successful on stage, TV and the movies.

He specialized in one man plays. At various times he played Teddy Roosevelt, Will Rogers and Harry Truman. His portrayal of Truman would be reprised for the silver screen in "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" for which he would be nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award nomination in 1975.

I referred to that movie when I reviewed the play According to Tip starring Ken Howard last summer. (

Younger audiences might remember Whitmore in The Shawshank Redemption.

Whitmore supported Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thoughts on Obama's Remarks on the Stimulus Package

I watched President Obama's remarks on the stimulus package on the Fox News Channel last night and boy did he ever come off as nasty and snarky.

He behaved like a kid who didn't get the present he wanted for his birthday.

Obama said he "found this deficit when I showed up." What? Obama is now taking credit for having discovered the deficit? We've had a deficit for a long, long time and Obama is only finding out about it now?

President Bush certainly deserves criticism for he handled the economy. But if Bush had lambasted Democrats with charges of "phony arguments and petty politics" the liberal media would have called him partisan and divisive. But when Obama charges Republicans with "phony arguments and petty politics" the same liberal media says that Obama is going on the offensive.

Obama is scheduled to address the nation on the economy on Monday night. I hope he has calmed down by then. Because nastiness and snarkiness does not make for successful leadership.

Hamas Steels Food & Blankets From UN

The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), the entity responsible for Palestinian refugees has suspended international aid in Gaza until further notice.

It did so after Hamas seized control of its warehouses and stole 200 tons worth of food, blankets and other supplies yesterday. (

Could Hamas have done this because the UNRWA admitted earlier this week that Israel had not hit one of its schools last month? Forty-three Palestinian civilians were killed but they were not killed inside the UN school.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Goldwater Institute: U.S. Supreme Court hears third McCain-Feingold challenge

This term, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a third challenge to portions of the now infamous McCain-Feingold law. Banning certain types of political speech 60 and 90 days before elections, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), routinely deprives citizens of their most precious liberties--the ability to speak their mind and listen to controversial advertisements. Recognizing that the law often infringes on these constitutional liberties, the Court has twice stricken provisions of it as unconstitutional.

Supreme CourtIn this case, Citizens United hoped to distribute a documentary film critical of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primary election season. However, the BCRA provides for blackout periods during this time, which prohibited the movie from being distributed through Video on Demand.

Quintessentially paternalistic, supporters of BCRA believe that average citizens should be protected from certain ideas-like those criticizing political figures-that are too dangerous to hear.

Of course, the First Amendment has something else to say about the free flow of ideas. Citizens can only recognize their best interests when they elect to become well informed. That happens by opening, not closing, channels of communication. Keeping the public ignorant of political controversies does nothing to further the vigorous competition for truth in our marketplace of ideas.

Having failed twice before the Court, we can only hope that the Court once again recognizes its duty to uphold the free flow of ideas rather than embrace the cold comfort of government censorship.

Benjamin Barr is a Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Vatican Demands Bishop Disavow Holocaust Denial

The Vatican has demanded that Bishop Richard Williamson "unequivocally" distance himself from statements he recently made on Swedish television concerning the Holocaust.

Williamson stated he did not believe that any Jews were killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust. Shortly after this statement he and three other bishops who had been excommunicated two decades ago were reinstated by Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican has said the pontiff was unaware of Williamson's views.


Williamson is part of the Society of St. Pius X. It explicitly rejects Vatican II and is notoriously anti-Semitic. The Vatican has also demanded that the Society accept Vatican II. While Williamson has apologized for the controversy he has not disavowed his views. I doubt the Vatican's demands will be met. Asking the Society of St. Pius X to accept Vatican II would be like asking Hamas to recognize the State of Israel. Even if Williamson were to publicly repudiate his views given how deeply held his views are one could only conclude that he was lying so he could remain in the Catholic Church.

In addition to his views on the Holocaust, Williamson also believes the September 11, 2001 attacks were co-ordinated by the U.S. government.

A father responds to Rick Santorum

Dear Mr. Santorum,

I read and was aghast at your piece on fathers in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

I could not agree more with you that much of the problem in America's society stems from the lack of involvement of father's with their families.

But do you have any idea the obstacles the current custody "system" places on us to have anything to do with our children?

Do you have any idea of the financial burden placed on us to "prove" that we are worthy of raising our own children?

Do you have any idea of the utter lack of due process afforded us in our efforts to simply be with our children?

As a man of principle, you owe it to fathers to look into the holocaust of the American family as has been created by the custody courts in America today.

As a man of principle, you should be standing with those of us who have given so much just to see our children.

Any father who is not a criminal threat to his children should have the right to raise them half the time; and we should not be forced to prove (at great expense, and without child support paying an attorney to work against us) we are not criminals or monsters in order to have this right.

(name withheld)

PS I was a former faculty member at a prestigious university and nearly had my entire career destroyed for my simple attempt to prevent my daughter from being taken from me. I am a terrific father and would give everything for my child. How can you possibly be on the other side in these matters?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Obama Says He Messed Up on Daschle But Not Vetting Process

I've just written an article about how vetting has disappeared from the American political lexicon since Obama's election. We heard all about vetting where it concerned Sarah Palin and for that matter Joe the Plumber. Given that three of Obama's cabinet nominees have withdrawn their nomination only a fortnight into the new era of responsibility one has to wonder about Obama's vetting process.

No sooner than I finish the article than I read about Obama's mea culpa. In an interview with Katie Couric, Obama said:

Well, I, you know, don't think there's something wrong with the vetting process....let's just take Tom (Daschle) as an example. I made a judgment that he was the best person possible for the job....I think I messed up. I screwed up in not recognizing in perception that even though this is an honest mistake, I believe, on Tom's part, that, you know, ordinary people are out there paying taxes whether it's an intentional mistake or not, it was sending the wrong signal. (

So let me get this straight. Obama messed up on Daschle but not on Richardson, Killefer and Geithner? Senate confirmation or not, Geithner not paying $35,000 in self employment taxes as he is about to take over the IRS doesn't send the wrong signal? There's a pattern here of his nominees being involved in financial improprieties. Obama is definitely missing something here. If Obama doesn't think there's something wrong with his vetting process then his judgment is truly impaired.

However, the fact that he actually said he "messed up" and "screwed up" will go a long way with voters. Admitting mistakes will be seen as an act of good faith and honesty. It will be harder for Republicans to argue he didn't live up to his era of responsibility. Of course, it is something he doesn't want to get into the habit of doing. But given how things have gone so far it might not be the last time.

Israel Did Not Attack UN School

Nearly a month ago the world expressed outrage at Israel when it was accused of attacking a "UN school" during its defensive operation in Gaza last month.

To be precise, the UN Relief Work Agency (UNRWA) which oversees Palestinian refugees had accused the IDF of bombing one of its schools in Gaza on January 6th. Unfortunately, when Israel is accused of doing something it is accepted at face value.

Remember when the IDF was accused of "massacring" 500 civilians in Jenin back in April 2002? Well, as it turned out the IDF had killed 56 people most of whom were armed terrorists. Of course, that didn't stop the likes of Mohammed Bakri from making the propaganda film Jenin, Jenin which continues to perpetuate this lie long after it has been discredited. (

So it comes as no surprise that there was no massacre of Palestinians at the UN school either. A diligent reporter from The Globe & Mail in Toronto by the name of Patrick Martin actually did some "reporting" and discovered that 43 civilians had been killed outside the UN school. (
The Globe & Mail report came out on January 29th and the UN yesterday finally acknowledged there had been no attack on the school itself.

That isn't to say the incident doesn't warrant further investigation but the fact the UN had insisted that Israel had bombed the school itself also warrants additional scrutiny.

Of course, one wonders why a story like that gains so much traction in the first place. Because there are people who want to believe that it is true so it confirms and justifies their hatred towards Israel and Jews.

Daschle Drops Out

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

He did so in light of revelations last weekend that he failed to pay approximately $140,000 in back taxes mostly on his limousine and his chauffeur. Some thought he might skate through given his standing amongst Democratic Senators and the fact that Timothy Geithner was confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury (even by Republicans) despite the fact that he didn't pay $40,000 in back taxes.

But the writing was on the wall when Nancy Killefer withdrew her nomination this morning as Chief Performance Officer when it came to light a tax lien of $900 was levied against her for failing to pay state unemployment tax for household help. If Killefer had to withdraw because of a $900 then no way does Daschle get confirmed with a six figure tax debt.

Daschle has also bowed out as Obama's health czar. It will be interesting to what Obama does here. I suspect that instead of having one person be both Secretary of HHS and health czar he will appoint two people for those roles.

I cannot help but think this speaks to Obama's judgement or lack thereof. If you throw Bill Richardson into the mix there are three Obama cabinet appointees who have had to withdraw their nominations. OK, Eric Holder got confirmed as AG last night but there's the Marc Rich pardon not to mention Geithner. If half of this happened under Bush we would never hear the end of it. The only Bush cabinet appointee who had to withdraw was Linda Chavez (many would say under rather unfair circumstances.) And lest we forget Joe Biden. Obama might have to send his suit of teflon to the dry cleaners.

The Day The Music Died 50 Years On

Exactly a half century has passed since a small plane crashed in a cornfield in Clear Lake, Iowa killing all aboard including Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (a.k.a. The Big Bopper.)

Although this event occurred 13½ years before I was born its significance is not lost on me nor on many born after me. In an instant the brightest lights of rock n roll would shine no more. Richardson was 29, Holly was 22 and Valens was 17. They were only getting started. These events were immortalized by Don McLean in his epic song "American Pie (The Day The Music Died)."

I didn't listen to Ritchie Valens so much although I remember the movie La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Philips. When I think the Big Bopper I think his signature "Chantilly Lace" but am not intimately familiar with his other material.

However, when it comes to Buddy Holly well, oh boy, where does one begin? "That'll Be The Day"; "Peggy Sue"; "Rave On"; "Everyday"; "It Won't Matter Anymore";"Oh Boy"; "Maybe Baby", etc. Holly wrote or co-wrote many of these songs with his recording engineer Norman Petty. Holly was a singer/songwriter before there was such a thing. The man could sing, play guitar and win over an all black audience at the Apollo with some help from The Crickets. Then there were the glasses. Here was a guy who looked like a nerd who could play rock n roll like Elvis and quite possibly better. The Beatles and Rolling Stones looked up to Buddy Holly every bit as much as Elvis. Elvis Costello looked a lot more like Buddy Holly than Elvis Presley.

Here's a clip of Buddy Holly and The Crickets performing "Peggy Sue" on The Arthur Murray Party in 1957. Notice how they are introduced as "rock n' roll specialists" by Kathryn Murray. It's odd to see Buddy Holly playing rock n' roll in a New York ballroom but perhaps no more odd than playing rock n' roll in Harlem. It didn't matter where he played because wherever he played his music made a lasting impression. It still does. (

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won their second Super Bowl in four years and sixth in franchise history. The Steelers have now won more Super Bowls than any other NFL franchise.

The game was one of the better in the Super Bowl canon. While the Steelers led for most of the game the Cardinals didn't roll over and play dead. That could have very easily happened at the end of the first half. The Cardinals were at the goal line when Steelers linebacker James Harrison intercepted a pass from Cardinals QB Kurt Warner. Harrison ran 100 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 17-7 lead after the extra point. It is the longest play in Super Bowl history. If not for the interception the Cardinals might have taken the lead or tied it with a field goal.

The Steelers had a 20-7 lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter. But Warner engineered a drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald to make the score 20-14 after the extra point. The Cardinals caught a break later in the quarter. It appeared that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had thrown a completed pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes from their own end zone. But an offensive holding penalty gave the Cardinals a safety which meant the score was now 20-16. Minutes later, Warner threw yet another touchdown pass to Fitzgerald to give the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 23-20 after the extra point.

However, there was still 2:37 left in the game. Plenty of time for Roethlisberger to do damage. Roethlisberger has led the Steelers to 18 comeback victories in the 4th quarter including five times this season. Make that 19. With only 35 seconds left in the game, Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass to Holmes to give the Steelers back the lead. After the extra point, the Steelers led 27-23.

Warner had one last chance. He did throw two completed passes and was in Pittsburgh territory but on the next play he couldn't get out of the pocket and linebacker LaMarr Woodley forced a fumble which effectively dashed the Cardinals hopes of a Super Bowl victory and a comeback triumph for Warner. Steelers won 27-23.

Santonio Holmes was named Super Bowl MVP. He caught nine passes (including the game winning touchdown) for 131 yards.

Kurt Warner deserved a better fate. He completed 31 out of 43 passes, threw 3 touchdowns against one interception (albeit a very memorable one.) His 377 yards were the second most by a quarterback in Super Bowl history. Second only to himself when he threw for 414 yards during his Super Bowl XXXIV triumph with the Rams. Warner also has the third highest passed yards in Super Bowl history when he threw for 365 yards in the 20-17 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. So Warner made it the Super Bowl three times and passed for over 350 yards in each game. Yet most fans will remember that he lost two of the three Super Bowls in which he played. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger has won his second Super Bowl in only his fifth professional season and isn't even 27. Warner didn't experience his first NFL success until he was 28.

Well, Warner will enjoy starting for the NFC in the Pro Bowl in Honolulu next Sunday. He then becomes a free agent. There is speculation that Warner will retire and give over the QB reins to Matt Leinart. Warner and the Cardinals might have not won today. Warner might not end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame either. But he has enjoyed an extraordinary journey and has made the most of his adventures on the gridiron, win or lose. If nothing else he has lived a life that he was not clearly destined to live. As I stated in my article faith and perseverance are their own rewards. These are rewards that cannot be found inscribed on a trophy. Nor are these rewards that can ever be taken away from him.

Obama Rooting for the Steelers

Today, IC posted my article on Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner. His return to the Super Bowl is as unlikely as the Cardinals being in it.

Earlier this week, President Obama acknowledged Warner's comeback when asked about Super Bowl XLIII. "You know, Kurt Warner is a great story, and he's closer to my age than anybody else on the field. But I am a longtime Steelers fan."

A longtime Steelers fan? Really? I thought Obama was a diehard Chicago Bears fan.

Could it be that Obama is a "longtime Steelers fan" because Steelers owner Dan Rooney publicly endorsed him and presented him with a personalized Steelers jersey and was a major donor to his campaign? Could it also be that Obama is rooting for the Steelers because Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill is a longtime supporter of the Senator from his home state John McCain?

Go Cardinals. Go Kurt Warner.

My prediction for the final score: Cardinals 34 Steelers 28.

Warner 24/36, 4 TDs, 309 YDs, Super Bowl MVP.