Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Obama Administration Seeks Seat on UN Human Rights Council

I cannot say this particular development surprises me.

The only way this move works is if Obama appoints someone with the eloquence of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Before he was elected Senator from New York he was our Ambassador to the UN who rebuked the General Assembly for its support of the odious Zionism is Racism resolution.

But this is the Obama Administration that won't use the phrase "war on terror."

This is the Obama Administration that won't refer to the people who want to kill us in cold blood as "enemy combatants."

This is the Obama Administration that thinks Iran will actually help us in Afghanistan.

If the U.S. gets a seat on the UN Human Rights Council (and I think there's every reason it will) the Obama Administration will not appoint someone with the principles of a Moynihan. After all, Moynihan paid his taxes.

No, Obama will appoint some mealy mouthed UN appartichik who values engagement over exposing injustice. In which case all the Obama Administration has done is legitimize the villification of Israel and entrench the anti-Semitism of a UN body that refuses to criticize any other member state for human rights violations.

Perhaps the Obama Administration Will Refer to Al Qaeda/Taliban Fighters as Community Organizers

Speaking with reporters yesterday in The Hague at a UN backed conference on Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama Administration has stopped using the phrase "war on terror."

Of course, this undercuts Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano, who in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on March 19th said the United States was engaged in the war on terror.

Now, not everyone was enamored with the phrase "war on terror." Back in August 2002, Daniel Pipes called for a redefinition of the "war on terror" stating, "It's not a war on terror, it's not a war on Islam. It's a war on a terroristic interpretation of Islam, militant Islam, Islamism radical Islam, call it what you will."

But if the Obama Administration is unwilling to refer to al Qaeda or Taliban fighters as "enemy combatants" he is certainly not going to speak of militant or radical Islam.

So what term will the Obama Administration use instead of "war on terror?"

Perhaps the Obama Administration could simply call al Qaeda and Taliban fighters "community organizers."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thoughts on Obama's Plans For GM & Chrysler

I caught some of President Obama's remarks on CNN.

First thought. It is a good day for Ford.

Second thought. I noticed the Dow Jones Average plummeting by the second as Obama spoke.

Third thought. When Obama spoke about the potential partnership between Chrysler and Fiat a gentleman in the room with me said, "I get nervous when he uses the word fiat." I seconded his motion.

Fourth thought. The United States isn't the only government bailing out the auto industry. Canada's Conservative government under Stephen Harper will be announcing a bailout this afternoon of GM and Chrysler as 20% of their operations are in Canada.

Fifth thought. I am glad I do not drive.

Sixth thought. What's good for General Motors is good for America should now read, "What's good for General Motors is good for America subject to President Obama's approval."

Man Kills Two Sisters, Seriously Injures Third Sister Outside Boston

An absolutely horrifying thing happened over the weekend in Milton, Massachusetts - just outside of Boston.

A young man stabbed two of his sisters to death including a five-year-old whom he beheaded. Police shot and killed the man before he could kill his nine-year old sister who is recovering at Boston Medical Center.

The deceased are Samantha Revelus, 17, and Bianca Revelus, 5, who just celebrated her birthday on Friday. Nine-year-old Saraphina Revelus is expected to survive.

Aside from the devastation wrought to the family this tragedy has also shaken up the Milton Police Department.

The most difficult thing about tragedies such as these is that these children had futures. The Boston Herald published a poem that was to read by Samantha Revelus at Milton High School this Thursday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obama Administration Weak on North Korea

Speaking to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the United States "is probably not prepared to do anything about" North Korea launching a missile which it says it intends to do between now and April 8.

I'm sure this is the last thing Gates wanted to say. Especially because it undercut Admiral Timothy Keating who had last week said they were "fully prepared" to shoot down the missile. But Obama has the final word.

But even if the U.S. were not ultimately going to shoot down the missile why would we publicly signal that to the world? Doesn't Obama know this makes us look weak? Kim Jong Il certainly knows it does.

It is also worth noting that Gates isn't particularly enthusiastic about engaging Iran stating that there is a greater opportunity for success in economic sanctions than in diplomacy.

It would not shock me in the least if Gates were to submit his resignation by the end of 2009.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Iran Will Not Help Us In Afghanistan

Shortly after Barack Obama was elected I cited a Washington Post article that the new Administration would seek to engage Iran by seeking its assistance in Afghanistan.

Well, scarcely a week after President Obama made his overture to the Mullahs, American and Iranian diplomats met today in Moscow to discuss Afghanistan.

Now one can make the case that General Petraeus supports this approach. Given his success in Iraq, his views must be taken into account. However, Iran has a long history of playing both sides of the fence where it concerns the Taliban. While there's no love lost between the mecca of Shia Islam and Sunni fundamentalists the Council on Foreign Relations observed "a number of reasons why a strengthened Taliban would serve Iran's interests, particularly in keeping U.S. forces off balance. "

The point here is it's wishful thinking on the part of the Obama Administration to pin their hopes of succeeding in Afghanistan on Iran.

Did the Obama Joke Force a Massachusetts Government Agency to Change Its Name?

The Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation announced it will be changing its name to the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services effective June 30th.

I wonder if Obama's jibe at the Special Olympics had anything to do with the name change.

Whatever the motivation the change is long overdue.

Janet Jagan, 1920-2009. R.I.P.

Janet Jagan, the former President of Guyana, died today due to an abdominal aneurysm. She was 88.

In 1997, Jagan became the first woman elected President in a Latin American country.

Her Marxist politics aside, if you are born Janet Rosenberg in Chicago in 1920 and end up being elected President of a South American country you have lived an interesting life.

Bill Ayers Banned in Boston

Bill Ayers was scheduled to speak at Boston College on Monday night.

However, I was reading NRO's The Corner and saw that BC has rescinded the invitation.

As with George Galloway, while I find Ayers' worldview odious I would rather have had the opportunity to challenge his point of view rather than have him prevented from speaking altogether.

The Left can now say that Ayers is being silenced by the establishment.

Or let me put it another way. A few years ago I saw Ann Coulter speak at Boston College.

Let us suppose there had been an effort by campus liberals to prevent Coulter from speaking. Let us also suppose they had succeeded. Conservatives would be outraged and rightly so.

No, Ann Coulter hasn't committed any acts of terrorism nor she is unrepentant about them.

Still, we ought to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fannie & Freddie Collapse Predicted a Decade Ago

My most loyal reader e-mailed me a link to an old New York Times article from September 30, 1999 concerning Clinton Administration policies with respect to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The headline read, "Fannie Eases Credit Aid to Mortgage Lending."

Here's the rub:

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.

From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.

If I were Pete Seeger I might very well ask, "When will they ever learn?"

Brazilian President Channels Al Sharpton

During a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Brasilia, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silvamade said of the global economic crisis, "This is a crisis that was caused by white people with blue eyes."

Well, at least he didn't blame it on the Jews.

Lulu is one of many leftist leaders who have been elected in Latin America over the past decade. Compared to Hugo Chavez, Lulu is generally considered moderate. But if those views are what pass for South American notions of moderation then heaven help us all.

Quebec Recalls Tasers

The government of Quebec has recalled all tasers off the streets and has ordered the province's police departments to return them.

Quebec is testing the tasers rather than banning them. But there have been too many taser deaths for my liking. I don't think we know their strength and they are used far too liberally. Using a taser can be as lethal as discharging a firearm. I hope other jurisdictions will follow Quebec's example.

I am all for law and order but as long as people continue to die after being shot by tasers it will undermine public confidence in law enforcement and that is something we can ill-afford.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our Economic Crisis South Park Style

I'm with John Derbyshire of NRO.

Last night's episode of South Park concerning the economic crisis pretty much nails it.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the Treasury Department was letting chickens running with their heads cut off determine our economic policy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Testing Liberal Tolerance: I Read An Anti-Obama Poem and Had a Coke Can Thrown At Me

This evening at the Cantab Lounge I read an anti-Obama poem as I have done on several occasions over the past few months.

There are always snickers, catcalls and jeers. It's par for the course. But for the first time someone was moved to throw a Coke can at me.

Now I actually didn't realize what had happened until I had returned to my seat.

To her credit, the hostess (a nice young woman named Simone Beaubien) said such acts were a no-no. I am sure she agrees with virtually nothing I've said but she made a point of asking how many liberals would be prepared to read something in front of a conservative audience. I did not get the opportunity to thank her. I do so now and will do again the next time I see her.

The young man who threw the Coke can also apologized to me profusely. If the Coke can had hit me or if I had seen it coming I would probably have been much angrier. Still, the fact he owned up to his act was good enough for me. I accepted his apology and let him off with a "Don't let it happen again" admonition.

O.K. so what was it that I read that got him so heated in the first place?

The poem is titled A Beautiful Friendship?:

Should there be yet another remake of Casablanca
I would cast President Obama as Captain Renault
He would be perfect as a Vichy collaborator

"I am outraged-outraged!-at these bonuses for AIG executives."

"Sir, your campaign contributions."


President Obama might be a better fit on the set of M*A*S*H
As Colonel Henry Blake
A young aide walks into the Oval Office
Who bears a striking resemblance to Corporal Radar O'Reilly

The President demands of his young charge
"Who allowed this to happen?"

"Ah, Mr. President, you did sir."

"How is that possible?"

"Sir, the bonuses were part of the Stimulus Bill you signed."

"Young man that is not the Stimulus Bill I knew."

As Obama is about to wave off his young he interjects, "Sign these."

"What are they?"

"Papers, sir."

President Obama reaches for his pen

Now I don't expect Obama to read
The bills that await his signature
He's only the President after all
There are interns to do that grunt work
He has important things to do

Like pick out the family dog

Pick out his brackets for March Madness

Read his teleprompter without mistaking himself
For the Prime Minister of Ireland

Decide which Eastern European democracy
To throw under the bus this week
To suck up to the Russians

Practice his jokes in front of the mirror
He says to himself, "That bowling joke
Will have them rolling in the aisles."

Most important of all he has to pick
Which 25 DVDs he's going to send
To 10 Downing Street
Even though the British Prime Minister
Is blind in one eye and cannot watch movies
It' just as well
They were Region 1 DVDs

You can try to reason with him
But his mind is Berlin Wall impenetrable
It is his least vulnerable spot
For the life of him Obama
Cannot fathom why Iran rejected
His offer of peace and love
Obama might not think the Mullahs are evil
Even if they do execute homosexuals and Baha'is
But the Mullahs think we are infidels
Because we don't execute homosexuals and Baha'is

These insurmountable differences
Do not deter our President
He wants to give them a gesture
That demonstrates he means business

A few months later
Obama lands in Tehran bearing gifts
In one hand is a DVD titled,
"God Damn America: The Best of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Volume One"
Obama tells President Ahmadinejad, "I haven't seen it myself
But I think it will be to your liking."
Ahmadinejad replies, "And it's a Region 2 DVD."

Obama says, "Wait, I have something else."
He hands Ahmadinejad a leather-bound, first edition of Mein Kempf
"Mr. Obama, you really shouldn't have. I've already read it."
Obama tells him to open the book
On the inside cover is the signature of the Fuhrer himself
Ahmadinejad looks at Obama, puts his arm around him and says,
"Barry, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Perhaps next time I read an anti-Obama poem at the Cantab I should state upfront there is a two shot minimum.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thoughts On, You Know, President Obama's Press Conference

Here's what struck me about President Obama's press conference.

For all his eloquence he used the words "you know" 36 times during the exchange.

Using those two words help cost Caroline Kennedy a chance at the Senate.

The first time he used that term he said, "You know, there was a lot of outrage and finger-pointing last week, and much of it is understandable."

For a moment I thought he was going to say, "You know, there was a lot of outrage and finger-pointing last week, and much of it came from me."

You know what I mean.

George Kell, 1922-2009. R.I.P.

Baseball Hall of Famer George Kell has passed away. He was 86 years old.

Kell played in the majors for 15 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles.

He was the best third baseman of his era and represented the AL in the All Star Game on ten occasions.

Kell enjoyed his best success with the Tigers. In 1949, Kell denied Ted Williams a triple crown by winning his only AL batting title with a .343 average edging the Splendid Splinter by only two 100ths of a point.

The following season, Kell hit .340 with 8 home runs and 101 RBI. In Kell's day it was not unusual to drive in 100 runs while hitting fewer than 10 home runs. However, since Kell pulled it off only two other players have achieved the feat - Tom Herr with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 and Paul Molitor with the Minnesota Twins in 1996.

Kell finished his career with a .306 lifetime batting average and collected 2,054 hits. However, third basemen have been sorely neglected by the Hall of Fame and Kell was no exception until he was voted in by the Veterans Committee in 1983.

However, I remember him best as one half of the TV broadcast crew for the Detroit Tigers on WDIV along with fellow Hall of Famer Al Kaline. In 1986, Thunder Bay started getting U.S. broadcasts from Detroit and that's when I started rooting for the Tigers. For six seasons I watched Kell & Kaline call games with the likes of Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Darrell Evans, Willie Hernandez, Chet Lemon and who could forget the ever reliable Tom Brookens? Those were the days my friends.

Kell, a native of Arkansas, had this deep but friendly southern drawl and would begin broadcast with an elongated, "Good evening everyone." I loved his homerun calls. (It's a long drive.) Kell and Kaline would occasionally get the batting order mixed up or mangle last names but I enjoyed watching their broadcasts. They had a relaxed approach and along with a glass of lemonade they were perfect on a hot summer night.

The game I remember Kell best for was on the final day of the 1987 season when the Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays were battling it out for the AL East. I was probably the only person in Canada outside of Windsor, Ontario who was rooting for the Tigers to prevail. Frank Tanana and Jimmy Key were locked in a pitching duel. Larry Herndon hit a long homerun to straight away center in the second inning to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. It was the only run of the game. In the top of the 9th with the tying run on second, Tanana induced Garth Iorg to hit a ground ball back to him and Kell said, "This could be it...and it is." The Tigers clinched the AL East only to lose to the Minnesota Twins in five games in the ALCS. They would not make the post-season again for nearly 20 years.

Outside of baseball, Kell owned an auto dealership back in Arkansas. He was a lifelong southern Democrat who was appointed to the Arkansas Highway Commission in 1973 by Governor Dale Bumpers for a ten year term. He would serve as the Commission's Chairman from 1977 to 1980.

Kell left the broadcast booth after the 1996 season. However, he ran into some hard luck. In October 2001, Kell's childhood home was destroyed by fire although he did rebuild. In December 2004, Kell was severely injured in a car crash but recovered about six months later. He got knocked down but got back up. That is until today.

He lived a good life and I was blessed to hear his enjoyment of everything good in that voice.

No Dalai Lama; No Peace Conference

Organizers have cancelled a peace conference that was scheduled to have taken place in South Africa after the government denied the Dalai Lama entry into the country.

South Africa's government refused to admit the Dalai Lama on the grounds it would offend China, their largest trading partner.

Former South African President F.W. de Klerk and one time Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu expressed dismay at the treatment of the Dalai Lama and the conference has been cancelled.

I've had my problems with Tutu in the past concerning Israel but on this he is right as is de Klerk. Given how the world stood in solidarity with the South African people against apartheid it is unfathomable the South African government would take this position with the Dalai Lama and the plight of Tibetans.

Besides a peace conference just isn't a peace conference without the Dalai Lama.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ichiro Leads Japan to 2009 WBC Title

Japan has won its second consecutive World Baseball Classic title with a 5-3 victory over Korea in 10 innings at Dodger Stadium.

Ichiro Suzuki went 4 for 6 in the game with three singles and a double. His two run single in the top of the 10th inning which broke a 3-3 tie proved to be the deciding factor. ESPN announcers Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips both questioned Korea's decision to pitch to Ichiro with first base open.

Ichiro kept fouling off pitch after pitch from Korean reliever Chang Yong Lim. On the tenth pitch of the at bat, Ichiro hit a single up the middle to score Seiichi Uchikawa and Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura.

Going into this game, Ichiro had struggled in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In eight games, Ichiro went 8 for 38 batting only .211 with 3 RBI. But today Ichiro would rise like the sun.

Korea had tied the game in the 9th on a single by Bum Ho Lee off Japanese reliever Yu Darvish. Korea had runners on first and second but Darvish struck out second baseman Young Min Ko to force it into extra innings.

While Korea won gold at the Beijing Olympics they have not been able to beat Japan when it has counted. Ancient Korean hatred toward Japan continues to burn.

Not only has Japan won both WBC titles but Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka has won both WBC MVP honors. Of course, when Matsuzaka won the the WBC MVP in 2006 the Boston Red Sox became interested in his services and he would sign here the following year winning a World Series ring.

Some Red Sox fans didn't like the WBC tournament because Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis got hurt. Of course, if Derek Jeter got hurt those same fans would be dancing in the streets.

Some thought the quality of play wasn't up to MLB standards. I couldn't disagree more. Japan and Korea can play with any major league team.

In fact, what I would like to see in the future would be for the WBC to be held after the MLB season rather than before. The reason for that is I would like to see the WBC Champion play that year's World Series champion. Not necessarily in a best of seven series but in a goodwill exhibition game.

The next WBC will take place in 2013. Even though the WBC should be moved to the fall I have enjoyed watching meaningful baseball in March and has me stoked for the MLB season.

Let Us Not Forget Tali Hatuel & Her Four Daughters

There is a huge furor over t-shirts worn by some Israeli soldiers during their operations in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009.

The shirt depicts a pregnant Palestinian woman with the caption, "1 Shot. 2 Kills."

It's pretty damn stupid and has been rightly condemned by the IDF who had nothing to do with its manufacture or distribution.

Yet lest we forget the tragedy that befell Tali Hatuel and her four daughters in May 2004.

Hatuel and her daughters were executed at point blank range by Palestinian terrorists. Hatuel was eight months pregnant at the time. Her daughters were 11, 9, 7 and 2. Both Fatah and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for these acts. Who brags of killing a pregnant woman and her daughters?

Hatuel and her family were Israeli settlers in Gaza. Their settlement, Gush Katif, was forceably evacuated by the IDF the following year.

Lest we also not forget that their murders were deemed acts of heroism amongst Palestinians. Indeed, Palestinian Authority state run radio deemed the murderers "heroic martyrs." Needless to say, some people have no shame.

So the next time a Palestinian or one of their apologists bemoans Israel about the t-shirt or anything other alleged crime against humanity remind them of this heinous incident. If they cannot show any shred of compassion and decency then tell them they are scarcely entitled to be deemed human beings.

Dalai Lama Denied Entry Into South Africa

The Dalai Lama has been denied entry into South Africa.

He was to have attended a peace conference organized by the country's soccer federation in Johannesburg. South Africa is hosting the World Cup next year.

South African officials are being straight forward as to why the Tibetan spiritual leader is persona non grata. They do not want to offend China who is South Africa's largest trading partner.

A spokesman for South African President Kgalema Motlanthe said they did not want to be "the source of negative publicity for China."

The spokesman went on to say that the Dalai Lama, who has visited South Africa twice previously, would be welcome there in the future. I would hope the Dalai Lama has the good sense to avoid South Africa like the plague but I suspect his forgiving nature will do otherwise.

But one wonders if the Dalai Lama would be denied entry into the United States. Given how much of our debt China is buying up at the moment there is little doubt that President Obama will be "indebted" to China. As such his administration and officials in the State Department might be disclined to welcome the Dalai Lama the next time he wishes to grace our soil.

Curt Schilling Retires

Curt Schilling announced his retirement from Major League Baseball after 20 major league seasons on his blog 38 pitches.

Schilling signed a one year contract extension with the Boston Red Sox worth $8 million in 2008 but did not pitch due to a shoulder injury which resulted in surgery last June.

However, few in Boston seemed to mind as he helped the team win two World Series in 2004 and 2007.

I remember when Schilling did a Ford truck commercial before the 2004 season in which he was hitch hiking from Arizona to Boston "to end an 86-year-old curse." Hey, he backed up his word.

He is best remembered for having his ankle sutured and pitching with a bloody sock for 7 innings in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees en route to a 4-2 victory. I saw the bloody sock at the Museum of Science during a National Baseball Hall of Fame touring exhibit last summer.

In addition to his two World Series rings with the Red Sox he also won one with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 and also pitched in the 1993 World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He won 216 games in his career including 20 or more games three times. Schilling never won a Cy Young Award. But he finished runner up three times placing second to Diamondbacks teammate Randy Johnson in 2001 and 2002 for the NL Cy Young as well as runner up for the 2004 AL Cy Young Award when he was bested by Johan Santana then of the Minnesota Twins. I saw Schilling win his 20th game that season. On September 16, 2004, Schilling and the Sox bested the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 11-4. How do I remember it? It was my 32nd birthday. They were also shooting film for Fever Pitch after the game but I opted for birthday dinner rather than stay on.

Schilling struck out 300 or more batters three times in his career and struck out 3,116 batters in his career. That's good enough for 15th on the all time list. Even more incredibly he only walked 711 batters. He and Fergie Jenkins are the only pitchers in major league history to strike out 3,000 batters while walking fewer than 1,000. Schilling's strikeout to walk ratio is the second best in major league history. Only Tommy Bond who pitched in the 19th century is better.

Schilling will be enshrined into Cooperstown although he might not get in on the first ballot although his three World Series rings will help him get votes. He, however, has not always had friendly relations with some members of the media and that might cost him.

He is also known for his political activism and that might also offend more liberally inclined baseball writers. Schilling campaigned for President Bush's re-election in 2004 while Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner as well as Sox GM Theo Epstein campaigned for John Kerry.

In fact, when A-Rod slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, Schilling was asked if it was a bush league play. Schilling quipped, "No, it was Kerry league." There were rumors he was going to challenge Kerry for his Senate seat in 2008 but opted to continue pitching.

Schilling also campaigned for John McCain in 2008 in New Hampshire. Schilling and McCain became friends when he pitched for the Diamondbacks.

This announcement does not surprise me. When I attended Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS between the Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, Schilling threw out the first pitch. He couldn't even get the ball to the plate. But that doesn't take away the enjoyment I had when I watched him pitch whether on television or in person. He was sure fun to watch.

Nicholas Hughes, 1962-2009. R.I.P.

Nicholas Hughes, a former professor of marine biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, committed suicide by hanging. He was 47 years old.

Hughes, however, is best known as the son of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. His older sister, Frieda, is a poet in her own right.

Sylvia Plath committed suicide at the age of 30 in 1963 and is held in reverence to this day for her confessiona approach to poetry.

I did like this point of view put forth by Judith Flanders in The Guardian cautioning us from reading too much into Plath's poetry as a result of Hughes' death:

Poor Dr Hughes. His death is, no doubt, doomed to be swept into this vortex of gossip and sensationalism. Depression is hereditary, to a degree, and there is probably more influence from knowing of one's own mother's despair. But did he die of great poetry? Of course not. That is what Sylvia Plath should be remembered for, just as marine biologists will respect Dr Hughes's own work. Anything further is circulation fodder.

But of course, if not for his parents notoriety, neither Ms. Flanders nor I would likely have drawn our readers attention to Mr. Hughes passing at all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Japan Ousts U.S. in WBC Semi Final

Japan defeated the United States 9-4 at Dodger Stadium this evening to win the semi-final of the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The U.S. was leading 2-1 when Japan scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Japan a 6-2 lead. The gap was closed to 6-4 when the U.S. scored two runs in the top of the 8th inning. However, Japan scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th to make it 9-4. The U.S. hurt its cause with three errors in the game. Admittedly, second baseman Brian Roberts was credited with a tough error but it sparked Japan's five run 4th. A throwing error by third baseman David Wright wasn't costly but an eighth inning error by shortstop Derek Jeter most certainly was as it helped Japan pull away late in the game.

The U.S. certainly did better in this tournament than they did when they finished 8th in 2006. Their comeback victory in the 9th inning against Puerto Rico last Tuesday was one of the highlights of the 2009 WBC.

Tomorrow night, Japan and Korea face off in the WBC Final at Dodger Stadium. They are evenly matched having played each other four times in this year's tournament with both teams each winning two games. In the 2006 WBC, the Koreans defeated the Japanese twice in the early rounds but lost to Japan in the semi-final. Japan, of course, went on to defeat Cuba to win the first WBC title.

This game will grip millions of baseball fans in the Pacific Rim and will only add to an ancient rivalry whose latest machination takes the form of a baseball diamond.

Obama on 60 Minutes

I watched Steve Kroft interview President Obama on 60 Minutes this evening and was struck by a couple of his comments.

To start with I found it amusing that he said "we can't govern out of anger." Well, who was it that said he was "outraged" by the AIG bonuses? Who was it that stoked this anger in the first place?

Obama also doesn't handle criticism very well. He went on at length about former Vice-President Dick Cheney's criticism of his decision to close Guantanamo Bay.

But how can one blame Cheney for his criticism when Obama hasn't figured out what we're going to do with those detainees? The President said, "Well, I think we're gonna have to figure out a mechanism to make sure that they not released and do us harm." Surely, that detail ought to have been figured out before announcing Gitmo's closure.

But here's Obama at his most irrational:

I'm surprised that the vice president is eager to defend a legacy that was unsustainable. Let's assume that we didn't change these practices. How long are we gonna go? Are we gonna just keep on going until you know, the entire Muslim world and Arab world despises us?

Is President Obama suggesting the entire Muslim and Arab world didn't despise us when al Qaeda attacked our embassies in his father's native Kenya and Tanzania? Before Khobar Towers was attacked? Before the U.S.S. Cole was attacked? Before September 11, 2001?

But to take a page out of the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick's book what does one expect of President Obama and his base of support that always blames America first?

Venezuela Eliminated From WBC By Korean Team

Well, at least there aren't any more commie countries left in the WBC.

Venezuela was trounced in the World Baseball Classic semi-final tonight at Dodger Stadium 10-2.

Hugo Chavez is probably wondering why Team Venezuela's manager Luis Sojo opted to start Carlos Silva instead of his Seattle Mariners teammate Felix Hernandez.

Silva was ineffective but it wasn't all his fault. Venezuelan right fielder Bobby Abreu dropped a routine fly ball which opened the floodgates. The Korean team scored five runs in the top of the 1st capped by a three run home run by Shin-Soo Choo, the only member of the Korean team currently in the major leagues. Choo currently plays for the Cleveland Indians.

This wasn't Abreu's first embarassing moment in the WBC. Abreu, who signed a one year contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this past off season, was picked off third base in a first round game against Italy two weeks ago in Toronto.

The Koreans added two more runs on a two run homerun by Tae Kyun Kim to give them a 7-0 lead. That finally prompted Silva's removal from the game.

Aside from Abreu's error the Venezuelans committed four more - one by Silva, one by relief pitcher Edgar Gonzalez, one by first baseman Miguel Cabrera and one by catcher Ramon Hernandez. Prior to this game the Venezuelans had made five errors in the entire tournament.

At least nearly all the Venezuelan players play either in the majors or on a major league affiliated farm team. Unlike the Cuban team, who can only leave the island during international tournaments, the Venezuelans are still free to make a living in America. At least for now.

The Korean team will face the winner of tomorrow night's semi-final between the U.S.A. and Japan at Dodger Stadium. The WBC Final will then be played on Monday night also at Dodger Stadium.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Walt Poddubny, 1960-2009. R.I.P.

Former NHL left wing forward Walt Poddubny died suddenly this morning at the home of his sister in Thunder Bay, Ontario (my hometown). The cause of death is unknown but he was only 49 years old.

I never met Poddubny but he was a local boy who made good. He played for 11 seasons in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Quebec Nordiques and the New Jersey Devils.

Poddubny had his greatest success in the late 1980s with the Rangers and Nordiques. He scored 87 points with the Rangers in 1986-87 and 88 points with the Rangers in 1987-1988. Poddubny would be traded to the Nordiques where he scored 75 points and played in his only NHL All Star Game.

After his NHL career ended, Poddubny was involved roller hockeyas a player/coach. He turned to coaching full time in 1995 first in the short lived Southern Hockey League with the Daytona Beach Breakers and then for six seasons with the Anchorage Aces of the West Coast Hockey League.

Poddubny returned to Thunder Bay in 2003 where he coached youngsters.

He wasn't the first person from Thunder Bay to make it to the NHL but he was certainly the most successful. If you are not from Canada you probably don't have a full appreciation of just how big a deal hockey is in Canada. Hockey players are royalty in Canada and Poddubny was a very big deal in Thunder Bay both during and after his playing career.

Obama acknowledges socialism in speech

This year we are assigning [billions of dollars] for the needs of industry. With that money we are building new plants and repairing old ones, installing new machinery, and increasing the numbers of the working class, We have thus reached a position where we are laying the foundation of a new industry on the basis of our own accumulations. We have reached a position where we are erecting the majestic edifice of a new, socialist industry with our own resources. That is our principal achievement.

It is said that this majestic edifice has certain defects—that the plastering is not what it should be, that here and there the wallpaper is peeling off, that in some corners there is litter that has not yet been swept up, and so on. All that is true. But is that the point, is that the chief thing? Is the majestic edifice of a new industry being erected, or is it not? Yes, it is. And is this edifice being built with our own resources, or is it not? Yes, with our own resources. Is it not clear that in the matter of economic construction, in the matter of industrialisation, we are already achieving the chief and principal things?

That is the basis of our achievements.

Ok so that wasn't really Obama, that was actually Stalin, but the similarity was uncanny. And we all know what happened to the USSR under communism. http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1927/03/01.htm

Speaker Pelosi presents Capitol cat cam

Apparently this has been banned from youtube since it wasn't really created by Pelosi.

Speaker Pelosi Presents Capitol Cat Cam

Galloway Not Welcome in Canada

British MP George Galloway is being denied permission to enter Canada.

The former Scottish Labour MP who now represents a London constituency for the far left Respect Party, had been invited to speak at a demonstration in Toronto on March 30th and at a forum in neighboring Mississauga the following day.

The ban is interesting in light of Britain denying Dutch MP Geer Wilders entry on their soil last month.

However, Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney said that Galloway is being denied entry into Canada for material support he provided to Hamas. There is a provision in Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which gives the government authority to deny entry into Canada.

Last month, Galloway raised over £1 million for a convoy shipment to Gaza in the wake of Israel's defensive operations there in December 2008 and January 2009. The shipment arrived in Gaza on March 9th. Indeed, it is worth noting that Galloway received a Palestinian passport from Gaza/Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for his efforts.

Civil libertarians will ask how outrage can be expressed at Britain for denying Wilders entry but not towards Canada for denying Galloway entry.

While both countries are denying these parliamentarians entry on public security grounds there is one key difference. Britain did not accuse Wilders of breaking any of Britain's laws only that he would "threaten community harmony." Galloway is being specifically accused of violating Canadian law.

The flip side to that is that Britain is not taking action against Galloway. Britain only considers the military wing of Hamas to be a terrorist entity not the government in Gaza. But isn't that splitting a very fine hair? Even if Britain outright declared Hamas a terrorist organization it doesn't want to take action against Galloway because it would inflame the Muslim community or should I say threaten community harmony.

There's only one reason I believe for Galloway to be granted entry into Canada. I think Canadians who disagree with Galloway's views should have the opportunity to confront him.

Speaking of confrontation, Galloway has every intention of flying to Toronto. It will be interesting to see what Canadian authorities do with him at Pearson International Airport.

On a personal note, I once met George Galloway. I was introduced to him by Jimmy Wray, his then Parliamentary Labour Party colleague from Glasgow. In the spring of 1995 I was a parliamentary intern for Wray. The night before Jimmy and I were to depart London for Strasbourg we saw Galloway having a cigarette as we left the Houses of Parliament and spoke with him briefly. Aside from exchanging pleasantries there wasn't much of anything said between us.

If the opportunity presented itself to meet him again I would be no less cordial but far more direct and to the point with him.

Khamenei Tells Obama Chuck You Farley

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has dismissed President Obama's videotaped overture yesterday. In a speech aired on Iranian state TV, Khamenei said that Obama was not "genuine" and that U.S. policy remains "hostile" to Iran.

Ali Akbar Javanfekr, a spokesman for President Ahmadinejad, said, "There is a need for more than talks. Obama needs to show he believes what he is saying."

Javanfekr then proceeded to spell out a list or what one might call a set of preconditions that must be met before direct talks can proceed.

These included the U.S. dropping sanctions against Iran's nuclear program, apologizing for its support of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, the U.S. Navy downing an Iranian airliner over the Strait of Hormuz in 1988 and even the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953 which brought the Shah of Iran to power.

But the U.S. has formally apologized and admitted the coup was an error. In 2000, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, "The coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development, and it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs."

Remember this was at a time when the Clinton Administration had begun to drop sanctions against Iran and President Khatami was being portrayed as a friend to Washington. Yet the Iranians wanted action and not just words. What kind of action? The Iranians did not say.

Presently, the Iranians neglect the not so insignificant matters of seizing our embassy in Tehran and taking hostages, creating Hezbollah which killed 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1982, the Iranian fighters who have killed U.S. soldiers in Iraq and its desire to go nuclear so it can wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

I am sure the Left will say the Iranians need time to trust us or that perhaps Obama is showing the world the United States is a reasonable party. From where I sit, Obama instead came off as weak and his efforts only legitimize a totalitarian regime.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cuba Eliminated From World Baseball Classic and Fidel Is None Too Happy

Japan just has Cuba's number I guess.

On Wednesday, for the second time in four days, Japan shut out Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Japan's 5-0 victory eliminates Cuba from the World Baseball Classic and for the first time in more than 50 international events (including the Olympics) the Cuban did not finish first or second.

Japan also defeated Cuba in the final of the World Baseball Classic in 2006.

Needless to say, Fidel Castro is none too happy:

First he blames those responsible for running the tournament:

What was important for the organizers was to eliminate Cuba, a revolutionary country that has heroically resisted and has not been able to be defeated in the battle of ideas. Nevertheless, one day we shall again be a dominant power in that sport.

If you think it is embarassing for the Dominican Republic to lose to the Netherlands it is simply unacceptable to Castro when Cuba doesn't win in international competition. Castro writes, "I should point out that the leadership of the team in San Diego was very poor."

It is worth noting the team doctor is Fidel's son Antonio who is far more than the team doctor.

I would not be surprised if some members of the Cuban team end up seeing the inside of a prison cell.

The final four in the WBC are the United States, Japan, Korea and Venezuela (you would have thought Fidel would have been happy there was socialist representation. Then again even Fidel thinks Venezuela is no match for either the Japanese or Korean team.) Korea and Venezuela square off tomorrow night while the U.S. faces off against Japan on Sunday with the final to be determined on Monday.

I'm not only the Treasurer, I'm also a client

Our Insensitive Obama

For all his supposed eloquence President Obama sure has a habit of inserting his foot in his mouth.

I must admit that I missed the Special Olympics remark where it concerned his bowling during his appearance with Leno last night.

But this isn't the first time he's done something like that.

Do you remember when he referred to a female television reporter as "sweetie" during a campaign stop in Detroit last May?

Do you remember his very first press conference as President-elect? The one where he took a cheap shot at Nancy Reagan.

When asked if he had spoken to any of his predecessors he said that he had spoken to all the Presidents "that are living." After some laughter he added, "I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances."

Yes, he apologized to Peggy Agar. Yes, Obama apologized to the former First Lady and, yes, he apologized to Tim Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics.

We all make mistakes. But this is a disconcerting pattern of behavior for someone who has been bestowed with such great responsibility. I suspect it won't be the last time he behaves in this way.

But if President Bush been flippant to a female member of the press corps, had been disrespectful to Rosalind Carter or had he slighted people with disabilities he would have never heard the end of it. If President Bush had committed any of these transgressions the liberal media would have demanded a national dialogue of some sort and a time for healing.

Of course, President Bush should have been held to scrutiny. Fine. But hold President Obama to the same level of scrutiny. Obama might get taken to task for a couple of days on making fun of the Special Olympics but I'm not counting on the media to hold his feet to the fire on a consistent basis.

Iran's Minister of Energy Says Nuclear Plant Ready in August

Well, President Obama's message to Iran is certainly working like a charm.

Iran's Minister of Energy, while speaking in Turkey, said the Bushehr Nuclear Plant which is being built with Russian help will be online in August.

It's fitting the Russians are assisting Iran because Iran is giving Obama the same attention the Russians gave him when he proposed scrapping an Eastern Europe missile defense system in exchange for Russia leaning on Iran. Russia and Iran are joined at the hip. I'm afraid President Obama and the rest of the world are going to learn that the hard way.

Why Doesn't Obama Send Iran DVDs Instead?

President Obama has sent a message to the people of Iran in commemoration of Nowruz which is their New Year.

Obama said, "We know that you are a great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world."

And what would those accomplishments be exactly?

Seizing embassies? Creating Hezbollah? Flogging?

Thus far neither Ahmadinejad nor the Mullahs have acknowledged Obama's message and it was not broadcast on Iranian state television.

What could Obama do to get the Iranian regime their undivided attention?

Oh wait, he could send Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs a DVD library.

Perhaps something like a box set of Godamn America: The Personal Best of Reverend Jeremiah Wright Live at the Trinity Church, Volumes 1 through 5 would be to their liking.

Obama hasn't seen the DVDs, of course, but they come highly recommended.

Besides Obama would have the good sense to make sure the collection are Region 2 DVDs.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obama on Leno

I saw President Obama's appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Much of the conversation revolved around the bonuses given to AIG employees in the Financial Products Unit. President Obama insists he is stunned about them. Yet as has been revealed over the past couple of days these very bonuses were provided for in the Stimulus Package which last I checked he signed into law. So much for the buck stopping with the President.

While President Obama ceded that AIG had a legal argument concerning the bonuses there was also a moral and ethical component as well and that the government would do everything possible to get that money back because no one had been overseeing the process. Signing a bill you haven't read isn't exactly a profile in oversight. Either he is incompetent or he is lying.

Leno did ask an interesting question. Now that Congress is passing legislation that will tax these bonuses at 90% Leno asked what is to stop them from acting against in a similar manner against individual or group that has run afoul of them. Obama gave a non-answer speaking in cliches like we have to "close the door of the barn before the horses get out." Well, Mr. President, the horses are out of the barn and running the Kentucky Derby.

Obama said we cannot "lurch from thing to thing." Kind of like he's doing with health care, education and energy policy. Furthermore, he noted we were in the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. But we don't have double digit unemployment, inflation or interest rates as we did in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However that could change. He said the economy was undergoing a "diagnostic test." Yes, it is printing money. Maybe not one trillion dollar bills a la Zimbabwe but we might soon carry our money in wheel barrels rather than wallets.

Getting back to the AIG bonuses he noted those contracts were written before he took office. They were also written before Edward Liddy became CEO of AIG yet he is being crucified for it while Obama wears a suit of teflon. (Yes, I am still employed with an AIG subsidiary.)

Of course, I take a very jaundiced view of the President. However, he was his usual jovial self and this appearance will probably result in a bump in his poll numbers which have been coming down of late.

Reuters Isn't Fair & Balanced on Israel

I just read an item on Reuters concerning Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories.

In the Reuters article, Falk states that Israel's defenisve operation in Gaza during December 2008 and January 2009 is "a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law."

If one were to read the article on its own one would believe that Falk was speaking objectively and without bias. But, of course, Reuters doesn't get around to mentioning that Falk has a history of comparing Israel to the Nazis characterizing Israeli treatment of Palestinians as "genocidal" as I wrote about here last December.

I said it then and I will say it again. Asking Richard Falk to investigate Israeli human rights abuses is like asking Michael Vick to investigate animal cruelty.

But Reuters should have exercised due diligence and acknowledged Falk's anti-Israel bias.

Bush to Write Book About His 12 Most Difficult Decisions

In a speech he delivered in Calgary, Alberta, former President Bush revealed that he will be writing his memoirs.

However, the book will revolve around the twelve most difficult decisions he made in his life both inside and outside the White House. It is due to come out next year.

I am sure the left-wing precincts already hate it. But it is a book I want to read.

America has a rich tradition of putting its presidents on dollar bills

(from an email going around the internet)

George Washington, our nation's first president and leader of the American Revolution!

Abe Lincoln, our most honorable leader pulled our nation through its darkest time!

Alexander Hamilton, founding father, first secretary of the treasury and leader of the constitutional convention!

Andrew Jackson, "Old Hickory" fought the British in New Orleans!

Ulysses Grant, Union army general, led the North through the Civil War!

Ben Franklin, Genius, inventor, political theorist and leading author of the constitution.

Finally, we have someone to put on the food stamp

Coulter on Silver

I've occasionally been critical of Ann Coulter over the years as demonstrated here and here.

However, I was quite moved by her most recent column which deals with the passing of Ron Silver. Having just written my own column on Silver my curiosity was piqued.

I knew she really liked Silver's speech before the 2004 Republican National Convention. However, I had no idea they were such close friends. She writes of his generosity:

When I needed to stay with Ron for a few weeks once, he'd get up hours before I did, read all the major newspapers and leave the interesting articles circled at the foot of my bed.

This might be nicest thing a man could ever do for me. Hey, skip the bagel and fresh coffee - bring me that op-ed paged and a pair of scissors! It was like a fabulous Park Avenue hotel with a clipping service.

It speaks of Ron Silver's thoughtfulness. It is also as moving a tribute I've heard one human being make to another. Nothing more need be said.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson, 1963-2009. R.I.P.

Actress Natasha Richardson has succumbed to a brain injury sustained in a skiing accident at Mount Tremblant in Quebec on Monday. She was 45.

Aside from dying far too young what has really shaken people up is that when Richardson fell she did not show outward signs of any head trauma and declined medical treatment. But a short time later she developed an intense headache and was taken to a local hospital where she rapidly deteriorated. She was transferred to a hospital in Montreal before being flown to a hospital in New York City. It was reported that she was brain dead last night and would be taken off life support today. A specific cause of death is not known but under the circumstances is most likely a brain hemorrhage or an aneurysm.

If anything good should come of this tragedy would be if people who sustain head injuries err on the side of caution and seek prompt medical attention.

Richardson appeared in such movies as The Handmaid's Tale, Nell, The Parent Trap and Maid in Manhattan. In 1998, she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the Broadway revival of Cabaret.

She is survived by her husband actor Liam Neeson, her two sons as well as her mother actress Vanessa Redgrave, her aunt actress Lynn Redgrave and sister actress Joely Richardson.

Needless to say this is simply awful.

Hilarious letter to Obama

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for helping my neighbors with their mortgage payments. You know the ones down the street who, in the good times, refinanced their house several times and went on vacations to wonderful places, bought SUV's, ATV's, RV's, installed a pool, a big screen TV, two Wave Runners and a Harley.

Well, I was wondering, since I'm paying my mortgage and now, theirs, could you arrange for me to borrow the Harley now and then?

Richard Ford
Queen Creek, AZ

P.S. They also need help with their credit cards, when do you want me to start making those payments?

P.P.S. I almost forgot - they didn't file their income tax return this year. Should I go ahead and file for them or will you be appointing them to cabinet posts?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Senator Grassley Makes Us Abreast Of The Situation

While Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says he really doesn't want AIG executives to commit suicide he still is making the American people abreast of the fact he doesn't particularly care for AIG at the moment.

Senator Grassley said, "From my standpoint, it's irresponsible for corporations to give bonuses at a time when they're sucking the tit of the taxpayer."

One could argue that Grassley is only augmenting the economic cleavages that exist in our nation.

He also might want to stop talking to reporters for awhile.

And with that I will make no further comment other than to restate that I am an employee of an AIG subsidiary.

Where is Justice for Myrna Opsahl?

The headline reads, "California frees 1970s radical turned housewife."

The State of California has set free Sara Jane Olson, the onetime member of the SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army). This "1970s radical turned housewife" was partially responsible for the murder of a woman named Myrna Opsahl, a mother of four who had the misfortune to be in the Crocker National Bank in Carmichael, California (outside Sacramento) when the SLA was robbing it on April 21, 1975. Olson (formerly known as Kathleen Ann Soliah) was also responsible for planting bombs under LAPD vehicles four months later.

She was a fugitive from justice for 23 years until she was identified following the airing of an episode of America's Most Wanted in May 1999. In October 2001, Olson pled guilty to setting the bombs but insisted she was innocent. She said the atmosphere post 9/11 would have prevented her from obtaining a fair trial. If Olson were truly innocent she would not have made such a plea. She pled guilty but could not accept responsibility for her own actions. Olson was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 10 years to life but the sentence was eventually reduced to 14 years.

As for Myrna Opsahl, after initially pleading not guilty, Olson pled guilty to Opsahl's murder and was sentenced to six years to be served concurrently with her 14-year sentence. For all and intents and purposes, Olson never spent a day in jail for Opsahl's murder. Where is justice for Myrna Opsahl?

After all, Sara Jane Olson did not answer for her crimes for nearly a quarter century. She got to travel and raise a family. As of today she gets to serve her parole in her home state of Minnesota despite objections from Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and state law enforcement.

Myrna Opsahl never got to travel much less continue to raise her children. However, I suspect if Opsahl's family had raised more of a fuss perhaps Olson will still be behind bars. However, her widower and one of her sons seem content to let things be. Of course, I'm not in their shoes and hope it's a position in which I am never put. But if Myrna Opsahl were still alive she would have been 76 years old. There is no statute of limitations on murder for a reason. Myrna Opsahl was cheated out of the best years of her life while Sara Jane Olson gets to enjoy hers.

Those Were Not Red Coats at the St. Patrick's Day Parade

An anonymous reader informs me the brigade marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston were not Red Coats.

They are, in fact, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, a part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment which is stationed at Fort Myer, Virginia.

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps regularly appear at Presidential inaugurations, sporting events and in parades in Southie.

So if the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps appear at next year's parade and they are greeted with jeers I will set the drunkards straight.

Whoever you are I appreciate the correction.

Senator Grassley's Daft Remark

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a radio interview yesterday that AIG executives should "commit suicide." Grassley said:

The first thing that would make me feel a little better toward them (is) if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, "I'm sorry, and then do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide....And in the case of the Japanese they usually commit suicide before they make any apology.

How absolutely daft. And here I thought Senator Grassley believed in the sanctity of life. Asking for an apology is one thing but calling upon people to take their own lives is sheer stupidity and contributes nothing to the debate other than draw attention to himself. Senator Grassley can surely do better than this unfortunate outburst.

Once again, in the interest of full disclosure, I am an employee of an AIG subsidiary. No, I am not associated with the unit receiving these bonuses.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Obama/Cuomo vs. AIG

Before I proceed let me re-state that I am an employee of an AIG subsidiary. Consequently, I have refrained from making any comment concerning AIG's current financial situation with one exception at the outset of the federal intervention nearly six months ago.

The following are my observations based on publicly available information and do not necessarily reflect the views of AIG, its subsidiaries or its employees. As such please feel free to accept, reject or ignore as you see fit.

Today, President Obama called AIG's payment of $165 million in bonuses an "outrage." President Obama is perfectly entitled to feel outraged under the circumstances. But Obama's "feelings" do not give him the authority to direct his Secretary of the Treasury to arbitarily rescind these monies. As AIG CEO & Chairman Edward Liddy stated in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner over the weekend:

In the first quarter of 2008, prior management took significant retention steps at AIG Financial Products. These arrangements were designed at a time when AIG Financial Products was expected to have a significant, ongoing role at AIG, and guaranteed minimum level of pay for both 2008 and 2009....Some of these payments are coming due on March 15, and quite frankly, AIG's hands are tied. Outside counsel has advised that these are legal, binding obligations of AIG, and there are serious legal, as well as business consequences for not paying.

In plain English, if the Obama Administration blocks these bonuses then they can expect a lawsuit from the affected employees. Quite frankly, the Obama Administration doesn't have a legal leg on which to stand. Why is the Obama Administration getting into a fight it knows it can't win? Sure public opinion would be on Obama's side. But at least in this situation public opinion is no substitute for the law.

The only way this compensation could be blocked if it could be proven it was obtained fraudulently. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today stated he is going to investigate AIG for fraud in this matter. However, there must be a suspicion that Cuomo is going after AIG to secure his way to Albany. Going after AIG got Cuomo's predecessor Eliot Spitzer to the Governor's Mansion (although he didn't stay there long.) It is worth noting that for all of Spitzer's bluster he never did take any legal action against AIG. So Cuomo might simply be taking a page from his predecessor's book. A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Assuming there is no fraud on the part of AIG in this matter the only other remedy I can see is if Congress passes legislation that tightens the rules concerning executive and managerial compensation to prevent such a situation from arising in the futre. But even if Congress could pass such legislation it could not be applied retroactively.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Venezuelan Baseball Fans Let Magglio Ordonez Have It For Supporting Hugo Chavez

Exiled Cubans aren't the only active Latino community in South Florida.

There is also quite a vibrant Venezuelan community in Miami-Dade and they dislike Hugo Chavez as much as the Cuban community dislikes Fidel Castro.

Last night during a World Baseball Classic match up in Miami between Venezuela and the Netherlands the large Venezuelan contingent booed Detroit Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez each time he got up to bat. Ordonez appeared in a political ad on Venezuelan television supporting Chavez's side in a referendum which would allow him to become Venezuela's President for Life.

A similar referendum was defeated in December 2007 which would have meant Chavez would leave office in 2013. But the new measure was passed last month and Chavez will remain their President whether Venezuelans want it or not.

The booing of Ordonez will likely continue tomorrow night as Venezuela faces off against undefeated Puerto Rico in another Round 2 World Baseball Classic match up.

For his part Chavez said of the fans, "Everyone has a right to think about politics. This is shameful."

No their behavior is not shameful. What is shameful is Chavez's contempt of democracy and the individual liberty of those who do not share his view of the world.

Pakistan to Reinstate Chaudhry as Supreme Court Chief Justice

In an effort to diffuse political tensions in Pakistan, Prime Minister Gilani has ordered the long overdue restoration of Ifitkhar Muhammad Chaudhry as Chief Justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court effective Monday.

Gilani has also ordered the release of opposition leaders and other political activists jailed who had been protesting against the government of Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari for refusing to restore Chaudhry.

Chaudhry was dismissed by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in November 2007. Chaudhry had fallen out of favor with Musharraf because Chaudhry was likely to declare that he would be ineligible to run again for President. Chaudhry also got tough with Musharraf's over the privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills.

The Pakistan People's Party (led by Ali Zardari after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto) and the Pakistan Muslim League-N (led by former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif) formed an alliance based in part on the restoration of Chaudhry and other justices. However, Zardari did not follow through on the promise because he feared Chaudhry would relaunch corruption investigations against Ali Zardari. Musharraf had agreed to drop any investigation against Ali Zardari to pave the way for Bhutto's return from exile in 2007.

The situation escalated when earlier this year the Pakistani Supreme Court (packed with Musharraf appointees) a) declared Sharif ineligible to run for office and b) removed Sharif's brother Shahbaz as Chief Minister in the province of Punjab. It was further escalated last week when Sharif and other opposition leaders were placed under house arrest when they planned a "Long March" to protest governmental actions.

Needless to say this has caused considerable unrest in Pakistan. When you consider that Pakistan had just given the Swat over to the Taliban their actions against Sharif and Chaudhry seem heavy handed and a mirror image of Musharraf.

One can only hope that this will calm things for the time being but that is being optimistic. The Obama Administration will breathe a sigh of relief but they shouldn't take a deep breath. Given that Sharif's hand has been strengthened he will no doubt seek opportunities to further weaken Ali Zardari and Gilani. Unless Sharif bides his time, becomes eligible to seek office once again and wins fair and square this will result in one of three things:

a) Pave the way for the return of Musharraf.

b) The military takes control the government.

c) The Taliban along with help from al Qaeda will take the reins of power.

None of those options (especially scenario c) would be good for Pakistan much less the civilized world.

Ron Silver, 1946-2009. R.I.P.

Actor Ron Silver died today after a two year battle with esophageal cancer. He was 62.

Silver spent three decades on both the big screen and the small screen. He was known for his work on TV shows like The West Wing and played diverse real life figures ranging from Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz in Reversal of Fortune to Muhammad Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee in Ali starring Will Smith.

But Silver was probably best known for his political activism. Silver was instrumental in the establishment of the Creative Coalition along with the likes of Susan Sarandon and the late Christopher Reeve.

Silver was considered a part of the liberal Hollywood establishment but after the attacks of September 11, 2001 reconsidered his political views where it concerned national security. These views got the attention of the Bush Administration and Silver made a memorable speech before the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York in support of President Bush's re-election.

Later that year Silver would narrate the documentary FahrenHYPE 9/11 which was a response to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.

Because of his more conservative political stance acting work would dry up for Silver. Undeterred, Silver launched a talk radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio last year despite his illness.

Silver identified himself as a "9/11 Republican." He is not the only one. Count me as one too. Those familiar with my writing will know it was 9/11 and the Left's reaction to it that led me to embrace conservatism.

Needless to say conservatives, be they 9/11 Republicans or not, have lost a powerful source of inspiration. The best tribute conservatives can make to Ron Silver is to carry forward his message in support of liberty, democracy and human rights and in opposition to Islamic fascism and the acts of terrorism carried out in its name.

Red Coats at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Andrew Martin (a.k.a. Test), 1975-2009. R.I.P.

Former professional wrestler Andrew Martin was found dead at his apartment in Tampa Bay last night. He would have turned 34 on Tuesday.

Martin was best known to wrestling fans as Test during a better part of a decade spent in the WWE where he held various singles and tag team titles. The Canadian born wrestler was involved in an angle where he was engaged to Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of WWE owner Vince McMahon.

Like many wrestler he was known for his large, muscular physique. In February 2007, the WWE suspended Martin for violating its wellness program (re: he had a positive drug test) and was subsequently released from his contract. That summer he joined Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling (TNA) but was let go after only a month when concerns were raised about his abnormal physique.

As of this writing the cause of his death is unknown. Given the large number of deaths amongst professional wrestlers one is tempted to attribute his death to steroids or HGH. However, Martin retired from wrestling in December 2007. He was arrested for drunk driving in April 2008 but not charged. Unless he had some unknown existing medical condition there is every reason to believe that a substance of some kind be it to enhance performance or for recreational purposes caused his death

What spooks me here is that last night I had a dream in which several current and retired professional wrestlers appeared and he was one of them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Only 1 of 26 House GOP races lost involved a pro-border security Republican & amnesty Dem

I'm not the biggest illegal immigration opponent, but I do think Republicans should reflect their constituents and run tough on border security.


by Marcus Epstein
In the 26 House of Representatives seats lost by the Republicans, only one race featured a Republican who supported tougher border security and a Democrat who supported amnesty. Some victorious Democrats successfully campaigned to the right of Republicans on illegal immigration...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jim Cramer Turtles Before Jon Stewart

I'm not much of a Daily Show fan but with all the hype surrounding the row between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer I decided to watch the show tonight.

Cramer should not have gone on the air with him. He barely attempted even put up a fight. He turtled before Stewart. When someone calls you out (especially on national television) you've got to stand up for yourself and not apologize unless you've committed a crime. Cramer got Bear Stearns wrong but being wrong doesn't make you a white collar criminal.

The only reason Cramer got the ire of Stewart was because Cramer had the gall to criticize President Obama. If Cramer hadn't criticized Obama he wouldn't have merited a measurement on Stewart's Richter scale.

This isn't to say that Stewart's skewering of Cramer isn't valid. But where is his outrage with Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thoughts on the 5th Anniversary of the Madrid Train Bombings

On a couple of occasions over the past couple of weeks I have given thought to the Madrid Train Bombings which happened on March 11, 2004 - five years ago today.

I was reminded of this terrorist attack two week ago when I watched Geert Wilders' film Fitna which shows a clip of the actual bombing which claimed the lives of 191 people and injured more than 2,000.

I was reminded again two days ago on my way to work. As I entered the train station there was an advisory from the Department of Homeland Security that police were planning to search bags at random. I'm not sure if a specific threat was made but it is a reminder that these things are a part of our lives and that an act of terrorism can occur just down the street as easily as it can oceans away.

More importantly it is a reminder that there are people who are prepared to kill other people who they deem to be non-believers. Some people respond by refusing to be intimidated and standing up to evil. Others respond by attempting to mollify evil it in the hope that it won't strike again. Like anyone else I would rather not think about terrorism and the ideology that drives it. But as long as it here it will not leave us alone if we simply play nice with it and wish it away or by blaming ourselves.

U2 Descends on Davis Square

Yesterday, it was revealed that U2 will be playing a concert tonight at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square. But, shhh, it's supposed to be a secret. Although but apparently 6,000 people have descended on Davis Square to get a glimpse of Bono and the Edge. (Imagine what they would do if Bono were to remind them how much he liked President Bush.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the Boston area, Davis Square is a neighborhood in Somerville. It's a short walk from Tufts University and is gathering place for the young and trendy with literary ambitions and political pretensions amongst the working classes. Until we joined forces, my roomie was living a short walk from Davis Square.

Some Davis Square landmarks include Mike's Restaurant, Johnny D's and the Somerville Theatre the site of tonight's concert. The Somerville Theatre is a movie house, an art gallery and a concert venue all rolled into one. But it's not one of these modern megaplexs. It has been in Davis Square for 95 years and should be experienced at least once.

I was last there in December 2005 when I saw Donovan perform in concert.

I am not going anywhere near Davis Square tonight.

Sharif & Other Pakistani Opposition Leaders Placed Under House Arrest

Half a year ago, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif stood side by side in ousting Pervez Musharraf from Pakistan's Presidency.

Today, President Ali Zardari ordered the house arrest of Sharif and several other opposition leaders.

Sharif and other opposition leaders were going to begin "a long march" in protest of President Ali Zardari's decision not to reinstate Ifitikhar Mohammed Chaudhry as Chief Justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court. Remember it was Musharraf's removal of Chaudhry in 2007 that caused political unrest and ultimately his political demise.

A year ago, Ali Zardari and Sharif won big in Pakistan's parliamentary elections ousting Musharraf's forces. Within 90 days, Sharif withdrew from the governing coalition although he continued to support Ali Zardari on a case by case basis.

Of course, it could be argued that Sharif has a vested interest in the restoration of Chaudhry. Last month, Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled Sharif could not run for office based criminal convictions that arose when Sharif was ousted from power by Musharraf in 1999. This has caused unrest in the Punjab province which was run by his brother Shahbaz Sharif.

Nevertheless it is disturbing that Ali Zardari is eager to crack down on Sharif and other opposition leaders but placates the Taliban by giving them the Swat.

A year ago, I wondered how long the alliance would last between Ali Zardari and Sharif. Now I wonder how long it will be before Musharraf re-enters the picture or the Pakistani military takes control of the government.

Morocco Severs Diplomatic Ties With Iran

At the same Mauritania expelled Israeli embassy personnel, the Kingdom of Morocco severed ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Last month, Ali Akbar Natea Nuri, a former Minister of the Interior and presidential candidate, remarked that the island nation of Bahrain was Iran's 14th province and thus still had a seat in the Iranian Parliament.

This offended a number of the Gulf Arab states but none more so than Morocco. The West African nation which is ruled by King Mohammed VI accused Iran of spreading Shiite Islam to Bahrain. A majority of Bahrain's population is Shia however its royal family and the power structure surrounding it is Sunni. Although Tehran tried to distance itself from Nuri's remarks the Moroccans weren't having any of it and they ended diplomatic relations last Friday.

This isn't the first time there's been a diplomatic row between Morocco and Iran. Shortly after the Iranian revolution the newly minted Islamic Republic severed ties with Morocco for permitting the deposed Shah to live out his final days there in exile.

It would be nice if some of the other Gulf Arab states were to follow Morocco's lead but I doubt they will. If they did so it would be seen as doing the bidding of the United States. They are content to let Morocco speak for them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Netherlands Beats The Dominican Republic....Again!!!

Lightning has struck twice.

For the second time in 72 hours the Netherlands has defeated the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. The Dominican Republic was favored by some to win the WBC and now they have been eliminated by a team who has four players with major league experience.

Many thought the Netherlands win on Saturday was a fluke after they lost 3-1 to Puerto Rico yesterday. The Netherlands had a 1-0 lead into the 8th but couldn't hold on to the lead.

When I arrived home the rematch between the Netherlands and the D.R. was scoreless in the 11th inning. But no sooner than I sat down when Jose Bautista gave a D.R. a 1-0 on sinking line drive that alluded Netherlands outfielder Eugene Kinsale.

But the Netherlands didn't back down. Kinsale atoned for his gaffe by tying the game with a bloop single in the bottom of the 11th off D.R. closer Carlos Marmol (who happens to be the closer for the Cubs.) Marmol tried to pick off Kinsale and ended up throwing the ball into rightfield which advanced Kinsale to third. Marmol managed to get a strikeout but then Yurendell de Caster hit a sharp liner to D.R. first baseman Willy Aybar (who played in the '08 World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays) and he booted it which scored Kinsale for the winning run. A tough error for Aybar. One that neither he nor his countrymen will forget anytime soon.

The Netherlands beating the Dominican Republic twice would have been like the U.S. Olympic Hockey team beating the Soviets twice in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

The Netherlands team now travels from San Juan to Miami for a rematch with Puerto Rico in Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic. Even if they lose tomorrow night they are the story of the World Baseball Classic. If they do beat Puerto Rico then the legend grows and the sky is the limit.

Freeman Withdraws Nomination for National Intelligence Council Chairmanship

Chas Freeman has mercifully withdrawn his nomination to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

Freeman has expressed dubious opinions over the years.

Amongst other things he has stated the Chinese government acted with restraint against democracy protesters at Tienanmen Square, argued the United States had 9/11 coming, endorsed Mearsheimer and Walt's anti-Israel screed and is an apologist for the House of Saud. Not exactly the sort of person one would want to be the overseer of unbiased intelligence gathering.

If nothing else it tells us about President Obama's judgment or lack thereof when it comes to national security and foreign affairs.

I am not of fan of New York Senator Chuck Schumer. But hats off to Schumer for giving White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel grief over Freeman. It got the ball rolling. I guess the only place in Washington more dangerous than getting between Schumer and a camera is having Schumer on the phone.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Obama Orders Review of Bush Signing Statements

Much of today's news focused on President Obama's reversal of Bush's federal funding ban on stem cell research.

But Obama made one other move significant which has attracted considerably less fanfare. The President has sent a memo to Executive Branch personnel advising them to seek the advice of Attorney General where it concerns the enforcement of signing statements made by President Bush.

What exactly is a signing statement? It is nothing more than a written statement by the President appended to a bill signed into a law. Signing statements are often used if the White House believes Congress has encroached in areas that are the responsibility of the Executive Branch as set out in the Constitution.

However, when President Bush was in power the Left (as well as some conservatives) saw signing statements as a sign of "an Imperial Presidency." Charlie Savage, formerly of The Boston Globe, wrote a book about the Bush Administration and signing statements titled Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and The Subversion of Democracy. The book won a Pulitzer Prize. I reviewed the book in October 2007.

Savage cites the work of Christopher Kelley, an assistant professor of political science at Miami University of Ohio, to support his contention about President Bush's use of the signing statement. While Kelley states unequivocally that President Bush used the signing statement more than any other President he insists that Bush utilized the signing statement no differently than any other President. So the Boston Globe is incorrect when it asserts:

Bush - often with little if any public notice - issued signing statements far more often than other presidents and used them to disobey more than 750 bills approved by Congress.

In preparation for my review of Savage's book I contacted Kelley and asked him if signing statements freed the President from obeying the law. Kelley told me:

It is simply wrong to say the president can refuse enforcement of whatever he wants....These signing statements always couch the challenge inside a specific constitutional power.

For his part, President Obama has not ruled out the use of signing statements and I wouldn't expect him to do so. Just don't expect Charlie Savage and The Boston Globe to call Obama out on his use of signing statements.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Netherlands & Australia Score Upsets at World Baseball Classic

I know I've been going on a sports bender but watching baseball in March puts me in a state of euphoria.

Much to my surprise I have the MLB Network on my cable package. Now if I could be hooked up to it via an IV tube I'd be all set.

The World Baseball Classic has produced two great upsets this weekend.

Yesterday, the Netherlands beat the Dominican Republic 3-2. The Netherlands? Yes, well most of these ballplayers are either from the Dutch Antilles or from Aruba rather than Holland. But considering baseball is practically the D.R.'s number one export a victory for a Netherlands team with almost no major league experience outside Sidney Ponson, Randall Simon and Rick VandenHurk is remarkable. Whether they can repeat that success against Puerto Rico tomorrow night remains to be seen but the Puerto Ricans will not be taking them lightly.

Tonight, Australia demolished Mexico 17-7 in front of a capacity crowd in Mexico City. Mexico did have a 7-3 lead in the 4th inning but the Aussies scored 14 unanswered runs forcing the early termination rule at the end of 8 innings. There may have been a mercy rule in place but the Mexican fans were anything but. On Tuesday night, Australia faces Cuba. Again a tall task but anything can happen in baseball. The Cubans are aware of that as anyone.

From the Department of Getting Ahead of Myself but just imagine if Australia and The Netherlands faced off in the WBC Final. That would be as unlikely as the Tampa Bay Rays getting into the 2008 World Series.