Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dr. George Tiller, 1941-2009. R.I.P.

George Tiller, the Kansas physician known for performing late term abortions, was murdered while serving as an usher in his church today in Wichita. He was 67 years old.

Tiller was charged with 19 counts of violating Kansas state law for not properly consulting an independent physician before performing late term abortions. However, in March he was acquitted of all charges although he still faced an ethics probe from the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, the state medical authority.

The National Right to Life Committee and other pro-life organizations swiftly condemned Tiller's murder.

The person who killed Tiller put a stain on pro-life people who believe in the sanctity of life and abhor violence.

The person who killed Tiller also desecrated a house of worship.

The person who killed Tiller must be brought to justice.

While no one has been charged with Tiller's murder, Wichita Police have arrested a man named Scott Roeder who has been identified only as a person of interest.

JFK's Birthplace

If you are in the Boston area and a fan of American history and politics you can saunter over to Brookline and amble down to 83 Beals Street.

That address is the birthplace of our 35th President John F. Kennedy.

The Kennedy family lived at this address from 1914 to 1920.

This weekend there were celebrations commemorating what would have been JFK's 92nd birthday. JFK was born on May 29, 1917.

Here is a picture I took of the house:

For more information you can visit the National Parks Service website at here.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rachel Alexandra Will Not Run In The Belmont Stakes

Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra will not be running in the Belmont Stakes which takes place on June 6th.

I am sure that no one is happier about that development than IC co-editor Rachel Alexander who has reminded us that she is not a horse.

Well, Rachel Alexandra might have run her last race. But Rachel Alexander is just getting out of the gates and is getting faster by the second so look out.

Orlando Magic Cavalierly Make LeBron Vanish; Will Face Lakers in NBA Final

The Orlando Magic defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-90 in Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1995.

LeBron James scored 25 points which was his lowest total of the playoffs. He was outshone by Dwight Howard who scored 40. LeBron left the arena in Orlando with talking to reporters. What could he say? Wait until next year?

LeBron has one year left on his contract with the Cavaliers and one more chance to lead them to a first ever NBA Championship. He is widely expected to sign with the New York Knicks after next season even if the Cavs finally capture the brass ring. New York is still the biggest stage of them all and the Knicks are in need of someone of LeBron's calibre to fill Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have missed the playoffs five years in a row and in seven of the last eight. Not much is expected of the Knicks next season. The Knicks are biding their time.

Meanwhile, the Magic will fly to Los Angeles (on carpets perhaps) to meet the Lakers in the NBA Final which begins Thursday.

One would have to favor Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. But then again the Magic have dispatched with both the Boston Celtics (albeit without Kevin Garnett) and the Cavaliers (with LeBron.)

The Magic did beat the Lakers twice in the regular season.

With that in mind I pick the Magic in seven.

Thoughts on Susan Boyle II

Susan Boyle did not win the finale of Britain's Got Talent.

She finished runner up to a dance troupe called Diversity.

I cannot help but think her outburst with reporters who were haranguing her as well as her subsequent threat to withdraw from the competition probably cost her some votes.

But Boyle was gracious and congratulated Diversity. "The best people won. They're very entertaining. Lads, I wish you all the best."

So where does she go from here? Even though she didn't win surely there are record companies and concert promoters who will come calling and a public willing to buy her recordings and see her concerts.

Or perhaps Susan Boyle will say her fifteen minutes is up and time for us to move to the next flavor of the month. If that is the case it has been well worth our time.

Israel At Wits' End With Obama Administration

This is not good.

Israeli officials are at wits end with the Obama Administration as they have demanded Israel freeze all construction of settlements including within existing settlements.

While the Obama Administration is demanding Israel do that they are not demanding the Palestinians dismantle their terrorist infrastructure.

President Obama will give a major speech in Cairo on Thursday. Look for him to throw Israel to the wolves of the Muslim world.

Gates Won't Accept North Korea as a Nuclear Weapons State

At an international conference in Singapore, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the United States "will not accept North Korea as a nuclear arms state."

Aside from the fact North Korea is already a nuclear arms state it is a strong statement from the Obama Administration.

Now if only the Obama Administration would say the same thing about Iran.

Thoughts on Jay Leno

As my roomie and I were headed home Thursday evening after seeing Eric Bogosian I asked him if he was planning to watch Jay Leno's final turn as the host of The Tonight Show.

Christopher, who is a David Letterman fan, reminded me that Leno would be coming back in the fall to host essentially the same show only at 10 p.m. and not 11:30 p.m.

Leno wasn't saying goodbye but rather saying see you later.

When Johnny Carson said goodbye that was it. I still remember him singing tearfully with Bette Midler back in 1992.

Honestly, I don't think Leno is that funny. Certainly not as funny as he was in the early 1980s when he would appear on Letterman or even when he guest hosted for Carson. The last time I watched the show before last night was when President Obama appeared last March.

So I did watch last night but only the final ten minutes. So I didn't see his chat with his successor Conan O'Brien who will debut on Monday. But I did see James Taylor singing "Sweet Baby James." I also saw Leno's closing thoughts.

I liked what he had to say about the show's legacy under his watch. It wasn't about him but about his staff many of whom had married each other and had families. Leno lifted the curtain and gave the spotlight to his staff and their children. Sixty eight children in all.

If nothing else Leno is loyal to the people who work for him and they return that loyalty. I think that speaks well of him. His free shows for laid off workers in Michigan and Ohio certainly gave a respite to those who have fallen on hard times.

So he's a nice guy. He's just not that funny.

Kofi Annan: Climate Change Is Killing 300,000 People Annually

The Global Humanitarian Forum, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, has put out a report claiming 300,000 people a year around the world are killed by climate change.

The report goes on to claim that this total will rise to a half a million people annually by 2030.

The report states:

From now onwards we know that climate change is the single most destructive force confronting humankind today. Greenhouse gas emissions are the fuel of this force.

The future of humanity is endangered by humanity itself.

One section of the report highlights "climate witnesses." One of these witnesses is a young Canadian woman named Jesse Mike from Baffin Island which is part of the territory of Nunavut. She spoke of a friend who was killed "hunting on thinning sea ice."

The loss of her friend is certainly tragic. But hunting or fishing or any activity on "thinning sea ice" is a risky proposition in the first place. Now if hunting on thinning sea ice is essential to their way of living it would be wise to take precautions - don't hunt alone, wear a life jacket, keep dry clothes close at hand, etc.

Blaming climate change isn't going to bring Ms. Mike's friend back nor is reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions going to reduce the risks involved in hunting on thinning sea ice.

This report is part of the lead up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December. The objective of this gathering is to establish a new global agreement on climate change when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

As for the claim that climate change is killing 300,000 people a year consider how global warming wreaked havoc on South Park.

Bush Says He'll Establish a "Freedom Agenda" Policy Center

Former President George W. Bush told an audience in Toronto last night that he intends to establish a "freedom agenda" policy center located in Texas.

"Freedom is transformative. Freedom brings hope and freedom brings peace," said Bush during a joint appearance with former President Bill Clinton. The discussion was moderated by Frank McKenna, the former Canadian Ambassador to the United States and also former Premier of New Brunswick.

Shortly before he left office I wrote an article titled, "The Post-Presidency of George W. Bush." I argued the cause of individual liberty is something dear to Bush. As such it will be a cause he pursues in earnest once he has left office. This announcement confirms these intentions.

I look forward to the contributions George W. Bush can make to the cause of individual liberty around the world. I also look forward to writing about these efforts.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Have you seen this Comcast commercial with NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal and actor/writer/economist and conservative Renaissance man Ben Stein?

It is a hoot. Kudos to whoever thought of putting that unstoppable force together.

I like the conclusion of the commercial:

SHAQ: We should do a movie. Shaqenstein !!!

STEIN: I like it. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

SHAQ: I love you Ben.

The thing of it is that it would be a great movie. It's such an odd pairing that it couldn't help but work. I'd pay $10 to go see them together. It would certainly do better than Stein's last film.

Rockies Fire Hurdle; Hire Tracy

Less than two years removed from winning the NL championship and playing in their first World Series, the Colorado Rockies have fired manager Clint Hurdle. He has been replaced by bench coach Jim Tracy.

Hurdle becomes the second managerial casualty in the NL West this season. Earlier this month, the Arizona Diamondback dismissed Bob Melvin who guided the D'Backs to the NL West crown in 2007.

Hurdle had been Rockies skipper since 2002. In 2007, the Rockies shocked baseball to its very foundations and won 14 of their final 15 games including a one game playoff against the San Diego Padres to win the NL Wild Card reaching the post-season for only the second time in franchise history. They then swept both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS and NLCS, respectively before being swept themselves by the Boston Red Sox in the Fall Classic. It would prove to be Hurdle's only winning season as Rockies' skipper.

The Rockies fell to earth in 2008 with a 74-88 record finishing 10 games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2009, the Rockies own the second worst record in MLB at 18-28 and 14½ games back of the Dodgers. The Rockies were swept in inglorious fashion by the aforementioned Dodgers this week at home. A change had to come.

That change comes in the form of Jim Tracy who had served as Hurdle's bench coach. Tracy has previously managerial experience with the Dodgers (2001-2005) and more recently the Pittsburgh Pirates (2006-2007). Tracy did guide the Dodgers to the NL West Division Championship in 2004 but would be ousted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. It is worth noting that each of the last three seasons he managed his teams have lost at least 90 games. So I'm not sure if he is the answer. Then again the Rockies might be already looking to 2010.

The Rockies sensational finish in 2007 must seem like ancient history to baseball fans in Colorado and most of all to Clint Hurdle.

Quick MLB Tidbits

Just a few observations about the 2009 MLB season which is nearly a third over.

The Florida Marlins jumped out of the gate with an 11-1 record. But since April 19th, the team has gone 11-25.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are 13-7 since Manny Ramirez's suspension on May 7th and have a 9 game lead over the San Diego Padres in the NL West. They have won 12 out of their last 15 games. I guess it's just the Dodgers being the Dodgers.

The New York Yankees are 14-5 since Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup on May 8th. Since A-Rod's return, first baseman Mark Teixeira has hit .373 with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs. Look for Teixeira to be named AL Player of the Month for May. The $180 million the Yankees spent to sign Teixeira is starting to paying dividends.

The same might not be said for Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett who signed with the team for $82.5 million over five seasons. Brad Penny, Burnett's former teammate from the 2003 World Series Champion Florida Marlins, signed a one year $5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. As of this writing Burnett has 3 wins while Penny has 5. I wrote about this scenario coming to pass last December and so far the Red Sox are a penny wise.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An Amusing Evening With Eric Bogosian

This evening my roomie and I went to see actor/writer Eric Bogosian read from his new book Perforated Heart.

We're both big Law & Order: Criminal Intent fans and his role on that show is such a contrast to most of his work as a dramatist and monologist (i.e. Talk Radio and Sex, Drugs & Rock n' Roll).

The book is about a successful middle aged writer who comes across his old journals and realizes how immature he was without realizing how immature he still is.

Bogosian read several passages from the book. The style and dialogue reminded me a great deal of Jim Bouton's Ball Four which incidentally is the book that changed my life in the eighth grade. Subsequent to reading the book I kept a journal for the better part of a decade. I'm sure I would be similarly aghast if I were to look at it today. Especially my espousal for socialism.

I told him this and asked him if he had read Ball Four. He said a little defensively, "A little. Why? Is it the same book?"

I later had the opportunity to tell him that the comparison was a compliment adding that Ball Four turned my life upside down. Bogosian, "Well, maybe my book can turn your life right side up."


Needless to say it was weird to meet Bogosian in the flesh and then see him a few hours later on a re-run of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Archie Picks Veronica Over Betty

Yes, it's true.

But look on the bright side. In this day and age and they could have had Archie marry Jughead.

Red Wings-Penguins, Part Deux

The Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins will have a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup beginning Saturday.

The Penguins swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL Eastern Conference Final (thank goodness) while the Red Wings dispatched of the Chicago Blackhawks in five games in the Western Conference Final.

The Red Wings won their encounter last year in six games.

The Penguins led by Sidney Crosby have the makings of a dynasty a la the Edmonton Oilers in the mid to late 1980s.

So I'm picking the Penguins in seven.

Obama Administration Pressures Israel Over Settlements

Now that we have a Democrat in the White House more pressure is being brought to bear against Israel with regard to its settlements in the West Bank. Concerns for Palestinian terrorism are out the window with the War on Terror.

As such we will be treated to headlines such as this one that appeared in today's edition of The Guardian.

Let's get this straight. Settlements are not the issue. Israel could dismantle every settlement on the West Bank. Does anyone honestly this would mollify the Palestinians in any way, shape or form? Withdrawing from Gaza hasn't exactly satiated them. The issue for the Palestinians isn't settlements in the West Bank. Rather they see Israel itself as one big Jewish settlement. Palestinians will only want to live side by side with Israelis if they are in the sea.

Well, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will now become the Palestinians' biggest enablers where it concerns settlements.

How very unsettling.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Burmese Court Blocks Suu Kyi's Witnesses

A Burmese court has refused to allow three witnesses to testify on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi.

While one of her lawyers is being permitted to testify I think we know how this is going to end and the ending will not be a happy one.

Capitalism Bows to Shari'a Law in the Toronto Stock Exchange

The Standard & Poors/Toronto Stock Exchange (S&P/TSX) announced today it is launching an index of Canadian companies compliant with Islamic Sharia law.

The index would exclude Canadian businesses that sell alcohol, tobacco, pork and engage in certain types of lending.

But given that the Muslim world has consistently boycotted Israel one must ask if this index would also exclude Canadian businesses which do business with Israel.

If such is the case which takes precedent - Canadian law or Shari'a law?

Somehow I have a feeling that Canadian law would bend to Shari'a law.

When you consider the unprecedented level of government involvement in the U.S. economy and given President Obama's sympathies with the Muslim world do not be surprised if there is soon a similar index on Wall Street.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Exodus Tyson, 2004-2009. R.I.P.

Exodus Tyson, the daughter of former boxing heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, died from injuries in an accident involving a treadmill in her Phoenix home yesterday. She was only four years old.

Her father was in Las Vegas at the time of the incident. She was found by her seven year old brother who alerted his mother. She contacted authorities and attempted to revive her.

I don't wish to be disrespectful but the circumstances of this child's death beg a couple of questions. Was this child unsupervised? If so for how long? How long was this child caught in the treadmill before her brother discovered her?

Nearly a decade ago I worked for the Child At Risk Hotline, the after hours service of what was then known as the Massachusetts Department of Social Services. We took reports of child abuse and neglect and dispatched response workers where children were at immediate risk. This is the framework from which I am approaching these questions.

I am sure both police and EMTs in Phoenix filed similar reports with social services in Arizona as personnel in such positions of responsibility would be required by law to do so. Occasionally, one would have to take a report where a child could not be helped. These were always the hardest reports to write because there was nothing that could be done other than to write an account of what had happened and what was left to be done.

In this case it is entirely possible the child's mother was occupied for a short time perhaps with another child. But even a short time is enough time for a child to put herself into a perilous position. The mother tries to rectify matters but no avail. As tragic as that scenario is I would rather that be the case than have a situation where a child was simply left unsupervised to their own devices. If that is the case than the well being of the other children in the home has to then be taken into account and appropriate action taken.

As for Mike Tyson, whatever his past crimes, one does not wish such a tragedy on anyone.

Obama Gets It Right on Suu Kyi

If I think President Obama gets something right I'll say so.

Well, President Obama gets it right with Aung San Suu Kyi. The Nobel Peace Prize winner is the woman who should be Burma's President. But instead she has been held in captivity for most of the past two decades by Myanmar's military junta. Suu Kyi was due to be released but is being put on trial for allegedly harboring an American. If found guilty she could face five years of imprisonment. How convenient.

Obama isn't having any of it describing the proceedings as a "show trial."

I only wish he had been as forceful where it concerns Americans being unjustly held such as Roxana Saberi was in Iran. The same can be said for Laura Ling and Euna Lee who are still being held in North Korea.

California Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8

This isn't much of a surprise.

While there are those who might legitimately disagree with the outcome of Proposition 8 (as do I) one cannot disagree that the mechanism and the process by which it was carried out was anything but fair and transparent.

So gay rights advocates will probably now do what they should have done beforehand - take it to the voters. There is every reason to believe there will be a ballot measure in California come 2010 to legalize gay marriage. If the majority of California voters want to undo Prop 8 let them do so.

If they don't succeed in 18 months time gay rights activists can take some measure of comfort that California still has civil unions. Bear in mind that nearly half the states which have passed constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage have also prohibited civil unions.


President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a judge on the United States 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, to replace David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review Online is calling Sotomayor "Obama's Harriet Miers" in The Washington Post.

Now before I comment further I have been trying to find the link to his post but the link cannot connect.

So without the benefit of having read Ponnuru's thoughts here is my reaction to comparing Sotomayor and Miers. Quite frankly it is comparing apples and oranges.

First, Miers never served on the federal bench whereas Sotomayor has been a jurist for nearly two decades. Now, Ponnuru might not like Sotomayor's decisions or judicial philosophy but the comparison simply isn't apt.

Second, conservatives were even more vitriolic in their opposition to Miers than liberals were. I should note that I wrote an article in support of Miers as did IC co-editor Rachel Alexander. Somehow I can't see liberal activists clamoring for Sotomayor's defeat much less demand Obama withdraw her nomination.

If someone has read Ponnuru's take and can send me a link or can otherwise enlighten please do so. Until I hear otherwise comparing Sotomayor to Miers misses the mark.

Kim Jong-Il Is Mocking Obama

No sooner than the North Koreans detonate an underground nuclear explosion the size of Hiroshima than they test launch two short range missiles.

Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, claims North Korea "will pay a price for their action."

More like we'll be the ones paying the price whether in the form of food or money.

North Korea is doing what it wants, when it wants and nobody is going to do a damn thing to stop them. Kim Jong-Il is mocking President Obama because he can.

W. Nathan Alexander, 1968-2009. R.I.P.

I spent the Memorial Day Weekend away from IC and it is only now that I have learned of the passing of Nathan Alexander.

My deepest sympathies to both Andrew and Rachel on the loss of their brother.

Like others who have posted their respects I, too, never encountered Nathan in person. However, we did occasionally exchange e-mails usually about baseball. We were both Boston Red Sox fans and Nathan did his part to spread the word of Red Sox Nation down south. No doubt he would have been great company at Fenway Park.

The Internet presents opportunities to meet people with whom you might not otherwise cross paths. But there is no substitute for meeting someone in the flesh. What I am trying to say here is that it would be great if we could gather in the same room. Naturally, it is easier said than done. The logistics would be very difficult to overcome. But it would be great to do so even if for one day. Besides you can't shake hands online or give someone a hug in a chat room.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Roh Moo-hyun, 1946-2009. R.I.P.

Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun died due to head injuries he sustained after a fall while mountain hiking. It appears that Roh's injuries were self-inflicted.

Roh served as South Korea's President from 2003 to 2008. Initially considered anti-American and friendly towards North Korea he would later get back in the good graces of the Bush Administration when he sent South Korean troops to Iraq.

After Roh left office, he and his family had been implicated in a bribery scandal. The shame associated with such a scandal could certainly explain Roh's decision to take his own life.

It is worth noting South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thoughts on Dick Cheney's Speech

What can one say about former V-P Dick Cheney's speech?

My only criticism would be I wish that Cheney had been this assertive while he was in office.

But here are some highlights.

On the Terrorism Surveillance Program:

I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about "values." Intelligence officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program, there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.

Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What's more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.

On Guantanamo Being Source of Recruitment of Terrorists:

Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion that American interrogation practices were a "recruitment tool" for the enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It's another version of that same old refrain from the Left, "We brought it on ourselves."

It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as victims exactly the best judges of America's moral standards, one way or the other.

Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.

As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion, our belief in equal rights for women, our support for Israel, our cultural and political influence in the world--these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were sufficient to motivate the nineteen recruits who boarded those planes on September 11, 2001.

On Those Who Asked The Tough Questions:

For all that we've lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings. And when the moral reckoning turns to the men known as high-value terrorists, I can assure you they were neither innocent nor victims. As for those who asked them questions and got answers: they did the right thing, they made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will always admire them and wish them well. And I am confident that this nation will never take their work, their dedication, or their achievements, for granted.

And lest you think I'm being unfair to President Obama you can read his remarks here and then choose for yourself.

Lucy Gordon, 1980-2009. R.I.P.

Lucy Gordon, a British actress who appeared in such films as Serendipity and Spider Man 3, committed suicide yesterday in her Paris home. She would have turned 29 tomorrow.

I wrote a piece about suicide after writer David Foster Wallace took his life last September. In addition to Wallace I also wrote about Brad Delp, the lead singer of Boston and Vicki Van Meter, who flew across America and the Atlantic Ocean before she was 12. Here's an excerpt:

David Foster Wallace, Brad Delp and Vickie Van Meter all had something extraordinary to give to the world and a segment of the world was more than happy to receive their gifts. Yes, they were all afflicted with depression yet not all people diagnosed with depression commit suicide or even make an attempt. Yet their God-given talents weren’t enough to justify their raison d’être. In the end, they believed they had nothing to look forward to and nothing to keep them alive. Not a bowl of Hot and Sour soup with an old friend. Not the fall leaves of New England. Not the Boston Red Sox winning another World Series. Not the warm embrace of a loved one. Nothing.

So what does suicide accomplish? For the person who ends their life we only know they are gone. We can never know if they have found the peace they couldn’t find here. What we do know is that suicide brings forth a lifetime of agony for the people around those who have taken that last step. One can only imagine the hell endured by the people who find someone they dearly know has ended their life and there’s nothing they can do about it. Wallace was found by his wife, Delp by his fiancée and Van Meter by a neighbor. It is an image those people are unlikely to ever forget.

Gordon was found by her live in boyfriend so he is undoubtedly experiencing what Wallace's wife, Delp's fiancée and Van Meter's neighbor are experiencing. Complicating matters was that she took her life while he was asleep. He will likely ask himself if only he was awake. Whether she has found peace can never be known. All we do know is that she is gone and cannot be brought back.

Gabrielle Schoeneweis, 1971-2009. R.I.P.

Gabrielle Schoeneweis, the wife of Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Scott Schoeneweis, was found dead in her home by her eldest daughter yesterday. Foul play is not suspected. She was only 38 years old.

Scott Schoeneweis was in Miami where the Diamondbacks were playing against the Marlins when he received the news. The Diamondbacks made immediate arrangements to fly him back to Arizona.

She did a lengthy interview last October with a fellow named Jimmy Scott (which can be listened to here, here and here.) The interview was done while her husband was still with the New York Mets. She speaks about how they met on a blind date, when she knew he was the one and about the travails of a baseball wife both good and bad. O.K., she wasn't a big fan of Toronto when her husband pitched with the Blue Jays. Oakville isn't Queen Street West but speaking from personal experience spending more than three days in Toronto in one stretch tends to get me blue. So I know from where she spoke.

After listening to the interview I must say she came across as personable woman who was very devoted to her husband and children. In her addition to her eldest daughter from a previous relationship they had three children together including a newborn daughter last September. This past January they celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary.

My condolences to Scott Schoeneweis and his children.

Netanyahu: Jerusalem Shall Never Be Divided & Disunited Again

In recent days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will resume negotiations with the Palestinians and have direct negotiations with the Syrians. This comes in the wake of his visit with President Obama at the White House.

That had to be disheartening to a lot of Israelis. He sure made up for it today.

During a ceremony comemorating the capture of East Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967, Netanyahu said, "A united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem was and will always be ours. It shall never be divided and disunited again."

The Palestinians chief negotiator Saeb Erekat responded by stating, "Mr. Netanyahu, by saying that, he's saying the state of conflict will be eternal."

Yet it was Erekat himself who said in an interview with Al-Arabiya in December 2007, "Israel can define itself however it sees fit; and if it wishes to call itself a Jewish state, so be it. But the Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity."

So who is really making this conflict eternal?

Obama: Guantanamo Created More Terrorists

President Obama's dogmatism regarding the closure of Guantanamo Bay is quite unbecoming.

First, Obama argues the Bush Administration left a "mess" at Guantanamo. What mess? Just because Amnesty International compares Gitmo to the Soviet gulags doesn't make it a mess. Just because Gitmo offends the bleeding hearts doesn't make it a mess. Announcing that you are closing it without knowing where you are going to put the detainees is an invitation to chaos. That folks is a mess.

President Obama doesn't even have the common courtesy to visit Guantanamo to see things for himself. By not doing so he does our armed forces a grave disservice.

Second, Obama's criticism of Congress on this issue are simply daft. Obama accused Congress of "fear mongering" and their actions "were calculated to scare people rather than educate them."
So when Senator Daniel Inouye, who has served Obama's native Hawaii for 45 years, says, "Its up to the administration to fashion a plan that can win the support of the American people and members of Congress," it's fear mongering. Give me a break.

Third, Obama's naivete was on full display. Obama remarked, "It is the reason why enemy soldiers have surrendered to us in battle, knowing they'd receive better treatment from America's armed forces than from their own government."

Um, methinks there's a difference between war and terrorism. The last time I checked terrorism has no rules of engagement. The people we caught in Afghanistan weren't wearing any military uniforms.

Notwithstanding this the detainees at Gitmo got three square meals, five daily prayers and lots of soccer. Gitmo detainees are more pampered than our soldiers.

But then again what do you expect of a President who confuses his own Secretary of Defense with the founder of Microsoft?

Finally, Obama said, "Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained."

Where do I begin? I think al Qaeda was doing just fine in recruiting terrorists long before Gitmo opened its doors. Besides it isn't a question of what makes Muslims angry it's what doesn't make Muslims angry. Obama is essentially excusing terrorism and that our alleged behavior somehow justifies it. Disgraceful.

Well, Obama is picking a fight not only with Congress but with us and our security. It is a fight that even with all his charm he cannot win and must not win.

Whose Fault Is It That Biden Is Our V-P?

Richard Wolffe of Newsweek will soon be coming out with a book about President Obama whom he has interviewed extensively.

The big headline from the book is how Vice President Joe Biden is getting under his skin. Obama told Wolffe that he's "distracted by his indiscipline."

And whose fault is that?

Did anyone put a gun to Obama's head and tell him he had to pick Biden as his number two?

O.K., Obama didn't want Hillary. Fine. But does Obama mean to tell us there were no other suitable Democrats to fill this spot? Were Sam Nunn and Evan Bayh too conservative for Obama?

Biden's gaffes say as much about Obama as they do the Vice-President.

The $64.37 question is whether Obama opts to keep Biden as his number two in 2012. Will Biden become Obama's Henry Wallace?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Big Papi Hits First Home Run of 2009

Red Sox Nation rejoiced this evening as David Ortiz hit his first home run of the 2009 season.

In 2006, Ortiz hit a career high 54 home runs. However, this season has been a struggle. Big Papi entered the game hitting .203 with 15 RBIs.

Ortiz's season reached its nadir a week ago when in a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim he went 0-for-7, struck out three times and left 12 men on base.

He declined to talk to the media following the game apart from saying, "Big Papi Stink!!!"

My Dad says Ortiz misses Manny Ramirez. I say its his wrist. Big Papi missed a third of last season with a torn tendon. The wrists generate power and an injury like that will result in a decline in production.

Whatever the case, Sox manager Terry Francona rested him during the Sox three game series with the Seattle Mariners before returning to the lineup last night.

After 135 at bats, Ortiz finally connected in the 5th inning when he hit a home run to straight away center field off Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil in front of the Fenway faithful. The Sox won the game 8-3.

The $64.37 question is whether this will break the ice or if Ortiz will go back into the doldrums. Only time will tell. But at least Ortiz has the fans on his side. A lot of clutch hits and two World Series rings will endear to lot of people around here.

I will be attending my first Sox game of the year tomorrow. Maybe Big Papi has more where that came from.

Plot to Bomb Two Bronx Synagogues Thwarted

The FBI has arrested four Muslim men for allegedly plotting to bomb two synagogues in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

The men are also alleged to have plotted to shoot down military airplanes at an Air National Guard base in nearby Newburgh, New York.

This one kind of hits home for me. I interviewed for a position at the Riverdale Temple back in 2003.

Make no mistake. Muslims who engage in acts of terror are motivated by hatred of Jews. Lest we forget the Chabad House in Mumbai.

Fortunately, the FBI was step ahead here.

But for the grace of G-d.

Senate Democrats to Obama on Gitmo: NIMBY

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly voted to prevent President Obama from using federal funds to close Guantanamo Bay Prison.

Announcing the closure of Gitmo was amongst the first things Obama did after his inauguration.

But Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (it's amazing that he's still kicking just shy of 85) said,"its up to the administration to fashion a plan that can win the support of the American people and members of Congress."

Too bad Obama didn't think of that before announcing he was closing Gitmo.

The international community, whose good standing Obama wants to be in, wants no part of these detainees.

So that basically means they would be coming here. But Senate Democrats, envisioning angry phone calls, e-mails and letters, told Obama "not in my back yard."

President Obama is expected to address this snafu tomorrow.

Israel Offers To Talk To Syria Without Precondition

President Obama must have really spooked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Scarcely 48 hours after visiting the White House, Netanyahu said he was willing to talk "with the Syrians....without preconditions."

So in order for the Obama Administration to help him with Iran not only does Netanyahu have to bring about a Palestinian state he has to talk with Syria as well.

Now Israel and Syria have talked indirectly in the past. They did so as recently as last year through Turkey.

I find this troubling. It is one thing for Israel to talk to Syria but it is clearly will not be doing so under its own terms. Bibi can say goodbye to the Golan Heights.

By the time Obama finishes his term there will be a whole lot less Israel. Yet somehow I don't think Israel will be any less hated.

Ahmadinejad Says Iran Will Not Be Deterred By Sanctions

I know I'm on a bit of an Iran kick today but for good reason.

Iran has tested a medium range missile capable of reaching not only Israel but Europe.

What we must sit up and take notice of are President Ahmadinejad's comments concerning sanctions:

They said if you don't stop, we will adopt resolutions... They thought we would retreat but that will not happen. I told them you can adopt 100 sets of sanctions, but nothing will change.

The creation of a Palestinian state isn't going to change things either.

Is this beginning to sink in President Obama?

Women Barred From Running in Iranian "Election"

One of the problems I have with President Obama, amongst many, is that he cannot discern a totalitarian state from a democracy.

During his appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a couple of days ago, Obama was asked about engagement with Iran. I found his comment on Iran's elections interesting:

I think it’s important to recognize that Iran is in the midst of its own elections. As I think all of you, since you’re all political reporters, are familiar with, election time is not always the best time to get business done.

President Obama spoke of Iran's "elections" as if they were like elections in Israel, Ireland or for that matter the United States.

Yet Iran's "elections" are neither free nor fair. Iran's Guardian Council has barred 42 women who sought election to Iran's parliament from participating in next month's ballot.

Now consider what President Bush said about Iran's "elections" in 2005:

Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy.

Indeed, women were also barred from running four years ago.

Change has come to Washington. But it has not come to Iran.

Wasn't Iran's Nuclear Program Supposed To Be Peaceful?

Iran has long insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

But when President Ahmadinejad tells a cheering crowd that it has just tested a surface to surface missile capable of hitting Israel one must greet those claims with the skepticism it so richly deserves.

Yet President Obama insists that Israel must bring about a Palestinian state before it will do anything about Iran's nuclear program. By the time the Palestinian state is established Iran's nuclear program will be in place as well.

It is mind boggling that Obama will talk to Iran without precondition but imposes a precondition on Israel when it comes to its security. I've just written an article about this that hopefully be up on the IC main page either today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Thought & A Poem on Obama's Cuba Policy

I read an interesting Reuters article on "mellowing" attitudes of Miami's Cuban community to President Obama and his recent overture to Cuba.

It's about what you would expect from a Reuters article although I liked this quote from a "diehard" by the name of Ninoska Perez who said, "Please, an American tourist in a Hawaii shirt with a mojito in his hand is not going to change Cuba."

I liked that.

A couple of weeks ago a poet named Richard Cambridge read a poem at the Cantab Lounge extoling the "new beginning" the Obama Administration is seeking with Cuba. Here is my reply which I intend to read tomorrow if Richard is present. It is called Going There From Here. It is dedicated to Adolfo Fernandez Sainz, a Cuban journalist serving a 15-year prison sentence for possessing a typewriter:

A teenager wears a Che Guevara t-shirt
A rebel without a clue
Our President seeks a new beginning
When Fidel says there can be no end
A middle aged man with a ponytail
Extols the island’s one hundred per cent literacy rate
So why are people afraid to go to the library
And check out the wrong books
Vigilant neighbors greet them with suspicious looks

You can speak of our brother’s seed
Our sister’s fruit and being part
Of the family of man
Trying telling that to some poor schmuck
Sitting in a 4x8 cell for the past five years
With ten to go for owning a typewriter
That could have been part of an exhibit
At any library or museum in America
Oh how revolutionary

It isn’t a question of embracing what we fear
It is a question of Fidel unwilling to go there from here

British House of Commons Speaker to Resign

Michael Martin, the Speaker of the British House of Commons, has announced his resignation.

Martin is resigning in the wake of a scandal involving the expenses of British MPs. The Daily Telegraph has been working on this story since 2005 as it has tried to obtain the data through Freedom of Information requests. However, the government has blocked releasing this information at every turn.

Last year, the High Court ruled the government had to release this information which it agreed to do in July. However, this information was subsequently leaked to The Daily Telegraph which has been began publishing it incrementally earlier this month.

Needless to say, this has caused British MPs from all parties great embarrassment. Many of these expenses involve work done on MPs residences amounting to ten of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money. Prime Minister Gordon Brown apparently made a claim for the same plumbing repair bill twice.

Unlike Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the British House of Commons is not the leader of the majority party nor sets the political agenda. Rather they oversee debate in the House of Commons. American viewers will be familiar with Prime Minister's Questions which airs on C-SPAN where the Speaker tries to maintain order. The Speaker also oversees the administration of the House of Commons including their salaries and expenses. The fact that Martin chose to address the leak of information rather than the information itself has caused further embarrassment and led to MPs to call for vote of non-confidence in him. Although ironically some of the MPs who called for Martin to step down themselves had questionable expenses.

However, all things considered, Martin is getting off lightly. In the early days of Parliament, when the Speaker lost confidence of the House he literally lost his head.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama Claims No Diplomacy Has Been Tried With Iran

I was just watching President Obama take questions after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed him at the White House.

A reporter (I believe Israeli) asked him what if engagement with Iran didn't work. Obama gave one of his standard long winded answers and said that diplomacy had never been tried with Iran.

What exactly does Obama call the efforts of the EU-3 (namely Great Britain, France and Germany) to end Iran's nuclear program?

Scarcely three weeks after Obama's election, Simon Smith, British Ambassador to the IAEA, accused Iran of "utter disrespect" and blasted it for "its unmitigated record of refusal to co-operate."

What makes Obama think Iran is going to be any more co-operative with the United States than it is with Europe unless it is willing to use force? But the last thing Obama wants is to harm a hair on Ahmadinejad's pretty little head.

Sri Lankan Civil War Ends

On his 90th birthday, Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Oddysey, recorded a message in which he expressed his desire for "a lasting peace" in Sri Lanka. Clarke lived in Sri Lanka for more than half a century and continued to live in Colombo, its capital city, despite the ongoing civil war. Clarke would die three months later in March 2008.

Well, it appears that Clarke has finally got his wish. The 26-year civil war in Sri Lanka is over.

The Sri Lankans had signed ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers in 2001 but the Tamil Tigers repeatedly violated the agreement. For the past year and a half, the Sri Lankan Army decided to make its way into the Tamil stronghold in the northern part of the country to end matters once and for all and finally did so this weekend.

The Tamil Tigers released a statement indicating the battle had reached "a bitter end" and they had "decided to silence our guns." Today, it was confirmed that the Tamil Tigers founder and leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran was killed by the Sri Lankan Army along with a number of his advisers.

The developments in Sri Lanka frankly make President Obama look pretty silly given his statements from last week. First, that he put a terrorist organization on the same moral plane with a democratically elected Sri Lankan government was just plain absurd. Second, the Sri Lankan victory proves terrorism can be defeated militarily, something he has argued against. Unless Obama is adding troops in Afghanistan to bring about victory over the Taliban and al Qaeda then he is sending them on a hopeless mission but I suspect he is doing precisely that.

This isn't to say there aren't legitimate problems that require international humanitarian aid. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been displaced and need to be resettled. But you can do that without legitimizing terrorist organizations as Obama (and for that matter the United Nations) would have done.

Unfortunately, it is also precisely what Obama is doing to Israel vis a vis Iran and the Palestinians.

But at least the Sri Lankans got it done before Obama and UN could impose their heavy hand.

Thoughts on Maureen Dowd

Well, plagiarism didn't stop Joe Biden from getting within a heartbeat of the White House.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Magic Make Celtics Disappear

The Boston Celtics will not make it two NBA championships in a row.

The Orlando Magic defeated the Celtics 101-82 in Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Final tonight at the Garden.

The Magic will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern Conference Final. I can't see the Magic getting past LeBron James and the Cavs though.

The NBA Western Conference Final will see the Los Angeles Lakers face the Denver Nuggets. I'm glad the Nuggets beat the Dallas Mavericks. If the Mavs had won I would have to root for the Lakers. I'll take Kobe Bryant over Mark Cuban any day. However, I'm glad I wasn't forced to make that choice.

I see the Cavs and Lakers in the NBA Final.

With both the Bruins and Celtics eliminated from the playoffs now Boston fans can give the Red Sox their undivided attention. I'll be going to Fenway for the first time this season on Thursday.

Thoughts on Obama at Notre Dame

I don't think conservatives, Catholic or otherwise, served themselves well by objecting to President Obama's presence at Notre Dame University. By objecting to his very presence we make ourselves look petty and intolerant.

This isn't to say they shouldn't have protested. That is their inherent right. But there is a right way and wrong way to demonstrate one's displeasure. Besides how often have we decried liberals for objecting to conservative speakers who are invited to speak at university campuses? We cannot very well decry liberals for their behavior if we are unprepared to be on our own best behavior. And like it or not, Obama is the President of the United States. As such he and his office should be accorded the highest level of courtesy and decorum.

Gay Marriage in Massachusetts @ Five

Five years ago today the first gay marriage became a reality in my home state of Massachusetts when ceremonies were performed at Cambridge City Hall.

Consider what I wrote about gay marriage some six months before those ceremonies in November 2003:

Conservatism at its best treats individuals on their own merits. Marriage (or a civil union) is only as good as the two individuals involved. There is, of course, no guarantee of success but that is true of all human endeavors. In America, having the right to fail is better than having no right at all. Those who oppose civil unions or gay marriage blindly assume that the individuals joined at the altar are inherently incompetent. This is inherently unfair. Yes, some individuals ought not to get married be they heterosexual or homosexual. That is a lesson people must learn for themselves even if it is the hard way. The government can encourage values but it cannot legislate morality.

Perhaps what saddens me most is the suggestion that gay marriage or civil unions will mean the end of marriage. What this tells me is that the people who defend the sanctity of marriage really have no faith in it at all. If a single court decision and a subsequent legislative amendment are all it takes to bring down marriage one must ask if it is an institution worth preserving. Of course, I do believe marriage is an institution worth preserving and hope to enter into marriage some day in the future. However, one does not strengthen marriage by putting down other people who wish to live in a stable, responsible environment. It comes through hard work, sacrifice, compromise, candor with healthy doses of laughter and merriment.

I still stand by this assessment. Marriage is only as good as the two people who enter into it and there is no guarantee for success be they heterosexual or homosexual. Five years later, some of the same sex couples are still together while others are not.

So here's what has happened over the past half decade. In addition to Massachusetts, same sex marriage is the law of the land in Connecticut and Iowa while Maine and Vermont will join the list this September. Of course, civil unions have been legal in Vermont since 2000. New York and Washington D.C. recognize same sex marriage from other jurisdictions but do not perform their own ceremonies.

Over the same period, thirty states have passed constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage. In thirteen of those states, the constitutional amendment applies to both same sex marriage and civil union.

So while some people might think same sex marriage is coming to a jurisdiction near you in the grand scheme of things its spread has been relatively slow. Some people accepted it from the get go and others have come around on it while others still will never accept it in any way, shape or form.

I suspect however that gay marriage will be more widely accepted five years hence. People born in 1980 and beyond, be they liberal or conservative, are more receptive to same sex marriage then their elders. Even if they don't support same sex marriage the issue of homosexuality isn't the taboo it was even three decades ago and are very likely to have friends (and possibly even family) who are gay.

With that I wish the same good luck and fortune to the same sex couples who have married here in Massachusetts that I do to the men and women in the Bay State who have entered into matrimony.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rachel Alexandra Wins Preakness

Rachel Alexandra today became the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes since 1924. She beat out Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

When I first saw the name Rachel Alexandra a couple of weeks ago I did a double take.

At first I thought I was seeing the name of our very own Rachel Alexander, the co-editor of IC.

But alas I soon learned the name was actually Rachel Alexandra and that she was a horse. Earlier this month, she won the Kentucky Oaks by more than 20 lengths, a record for a filly. Secretariat, of course, has the all time record when he won the Belmont Stakes in 1973 by a staggering 31 lengths.

No word yet if Rachel Alexandra will be running in the Belmont Stakes next month.

Well, we might never see Rachel Alexander on a race track. However, if she were to seek elected office I have little doubt she would defeat the competition by at least 20 lengths.

Presidential Rival Slams Ahmadinejad Over Holocaust Or Does He?

Mehdi Karroubi, a "moderate" cleric who is running against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran's Presidential "elections" next month, slammed Ahmadinejad over his comments about the Holocaust.

Or did he?

The headline at Agence Presse France reads, "Iran presidential hopeful slams Ahmadinejad over Holocaust."

By reading the headline one would by left with the impression that Karroubi was lambasting Ahmadinejad's view that the Holocaust is a myth.

But here's what Karroubi actually said. "Ahmadinejad has done Israel's the greatest service by speaking of the Holocaust because now the world has risen to support Israel."

Far from decrying the Holocaust, Karroubi's selling point is that Ahmadinejad is helping Israel. He isn't disputing Ahmadinejad's claim the Holocaust is a myth but rather he's only admonishing him for expressing the sentiment in polite company.

Unfortunately, liberals in the West and the acolytes in the Obama Administration mistake such talk for tolerance, open mindedness and amenability to reason.

Besides if Karroubi really were condemning Ahmadinejad's point of view of the Holocaust the Mullahs would never let his candidacy see the light of day.

Obama Sees To It There's No Senator Israel From New York

I suppose President Obama has nothing better to do than to get down Chicago style in New York politics.

According to this report, New York Senator Chuck Schumer and New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) implored President Obama to make it known to New York Congressman Steve Israel that it would be in his best interests not to challenge newly christened Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the 2010 Democratic Primary. Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate by New York Governor David Paterson after Hillary Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State.

Needless to say a lot of New York Democrats would prefer Obama have stayed out:

"What? You can't have a primary? It's decided in backroom deals? What if someone told Obama he couldn't have a primary and Hillary would just be the nominee? Where would he be? It's an outrage."

If this had been done to Obama you would hear the word racism screamed from Albany. What would be deemed unacceptable behavior to an African-American Democrat is perfectly acceptable behavior towards a Jewish Democrat. But it is fitting. Steve Israel isn't the only Israel Obama is hostile towards.

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Obama Appoints Republican Governor as Ambassador to China

I thought President Obama would name his nominee to the Supreme Court by Monday to get Nancy Pelosi off the front pages.

However, this should do fine.

President Obama has appointed Jon Huntsman, Jr, the Republican Governor of Utah, to be the new U.S. Ambassador to China. Hey, why not? Huntsman speaks fluent Mandarin.

This accomplishes three things a) he gets attention off Pelosi; b) he is seen as once again reaching out to Republicans and c) he heads off a potential rival in 2012.

Even if Huntsman didn't make a bid for the White House he would certainly be seen as someone as a Vice-Presidential nominee. Huntsman himself said he "never expected" such a call from President Obama. I am certain he didn't.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thoughts on Farrah Fawcett

I considered watching Farrah Fawcett's documentary concerning her battle with cancer.

My mother was recently diagnosed with cancer (albeit at the very early stages) and I thought watching the documentary might help prepare me for what could happen in the future.

But as my roommate told me nothing can prepare you for such an eventuality.

I also would rather remember Farrah Fawcett at the height of her powers, not awaiting entry into death's door.

So I decided not to watch.

Things I Never Knew About Brian Mulroney

Most Americans probably don't know who Brian Mulroney is.

He was the Prime Minister of Canada between 1984 and 1993. Americans might know him best as one of the three people who delivered eulogies at Ronald Reagan's funeral. The two others being former President George H.W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Mulroney led the Progressive Conservative Party to back to back majority governments in the 1980s. Something no Tory leader had done in Canada since Sir John A. Macdonald a century earlier.

Yet by the time Mulroney left office he was loathed by the Right as by the Left and his party was in shambles. They were reduced to 2 seats in the House of Commons in the 1993 federal election. It took more than a decade for a viable Conservative Party to again take shape in Canada.

The current Conservative government of Stephen Harper called a public inquiry into Mulroney for cash payments he accepted from German-Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber after he left office in 1993-1994 to determine if he broke any laws. It is alleged that the deal was made two days before Mulroney left office. Mulroney has spent the past several days testifying before the inquiry.

In the mid-1990s, Mulroney was accused of accepting kickbacks from Schreiber for the sale of Airbus planes to Air Canada. Mulroney would sue the Canadian government for libel and would settle out of court for in excess of $2 million to cover legal expenses and an apology from the Government of Canada. However, the cash payments to Mulroney from Schreiber were revealed after the settlement. So Schreiber continues to hang over Mulroney's head to this very day.

I must admit I was one of those Canadians who loathed him. Even before he became Prime Minister he came off as arrogant and pompous. By the early 1990s it was almost a universal sentiment in Canada. I was living in Ottawa at the time and my grandparents came to visit. My grandfather recounted something he had seen on the way to my aunt and uncle's house from the airport. There was somebody with a sign, "Honk if you think Mulroney is an a#*hole." My grandfather said, "The noise was deafening." We all laughed.

Mulroney could be very blunt and caustic. When he had a falling out with Canadian journalist Peter C. Newman over his biography he said this at the 2005 Canadian Press Gallery Dinner. And you thought Wanda Sykes was rough at the White House Correspondents Dinner last weekend.

I never met Mulroney although I did hear him speak on one occasion at a very different dinner altogether. It was at the Canada-Israel Committee Annual Dinner in March 1993 at the Ottawa Congress Centre. Shimon Peres was the guest of honor.

Mulroney gave a sterling speech extoling Israel's accomplishments and virtues. He frowned on those who would lecture Israel about how to conduct itself. Mulroney noted how Israel had accepted Bosnian Muslim refugees from the former Yugoslavia with little fanfare. It was the first time I ever saw Mulroney in a positive light.

Over time I have softened my view towards Mulroney. It is not to say that I accept how he governed wholecloth but he was certainly right about some things. Before there was NAFTA, there was the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. The 1988 federal election was fought over it. Many thought Canada or at the very least its economy would be absorbed into the United States thereby creating a North American economic and political union thus ending Canadian sovereignty.

Well, 20 years later the Canadian flag still flies. It is an imperfect agreement as all agreements are. But Canada is better off for it and as it turns out Mulroney was right to pursue it.

But there is a side to Mulroney I never knew. Until today. Remember the Ethiopian famine of 1984-1985? It turns out he had a lot to do with co-ordinating the international relief effort before the Bob Geldofs and Harry Belafontes of the world stepped into the picture.
Brian Stewart, Senior Correspondent of CBC's The National, has an article on Mulroney's generosity and how he did it with little fanfare.

That doesn't mean Mulroney is above the law. If he did something illegal he should be charged and face justice. But having seen and heard people villify George W. Bush for nearly a decade I came to realize that I was guilty of the same thing when it came to Mulroney. Some of my criticisms were legitimate but many were not. Discerning between constructive criticism and ad hominem attacks are a part of growing up. So is coming to an understanding about people with whom you disagree. They might be wrong about a particular matter but it doesn't make them bad people. It isn't to say that Brian Mulroney doesn't have negative qualities. Those qualities helped him get into the mess he finds himself in right now. But if Mulroney didn't have some positive qualities then why help people a world away and not toot his own horn? In the final analysis there is good and bad in all of us. Even if Mulroney behaved badly and broke the law it doesn't invalidate the good he did for the people of Ethiopia nearly a quarter century ago.

Obama Hosts the Philadelphia Phillies @ The White House

President Obama hosted the 2008 World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies at the White House this afternoon.

The President said the Phillies were "an underdog team that loved to prove the prognosticators wrong. And so we share something in common there, because nobody thought I was going to win either. "

Hmmn, I think that might have been true in the fall of 2007. But that certainly wasn't true in the fall of 2008.

But yes even when the Phillies reached the postseason no one expected them to go all the way. They certainly weren't favored against the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series much less the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS.

Obama was presented with the Phillies jersey with the number 44 on the back. Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson also wore the number 44 in their playing days.

It turns out that Phillies shortstop and 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins made calls on behalf of Obama.

The Phillies were originally scheduled to meet with Obama last month but the sudden death of broadcaster Harry Kalas caused the ceremony to be postponed until the Phillies next visit to Washington. The defending World Series champions begin a four game series against the Washington Nationals tonight.

So Military Tribunals Aren't Such a Bad Idea After All

President Obama has formally reversed himself on military tribunals.

Of course, earlier this week he reversed on the release of photos alleging military abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As with the photos I wish he had come to this position sooner rather than later. But better later than never.

In the long run I think Obama stands to gain from these "flip-flops." His reversals are in accordance with majority will. The only people who are going to give him grief are the Far Left. If that is the case it will only hurt the arguments of conservatives who assert (myself included)that Obama is a creature of the Far Left. It is moves such as these that might very well bring on board "Americans whose support I have yet to earn."

Thoughts on Nancy Pelosi

I believed we witnessed the self-destruction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday.

Political consultants from both parties will use this press conference as an example of what not to do at a press conference.

I cannot see how she remains as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Rich Lowry of National Review Online asks, "It will be also interesting to watch how the White House reacts over time—all things being equal, wouldn't it rather have the non-radioactive Hoyer as speaker rather than Pelosi?"

Obviously, Pelosi's fate will ultimately be determined by the Democratic Leadership in the House. But I wouldn't be surprised if President Obama were to name his pick for the Supreme Court within the next 72 hours in order to get Pelosi off the front page.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bruins Fall to Hurricanes in OT in Game 7

The Boston Bruins lost a heart breaker to end their best season in a decade.

They were bested by the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in OT of Game 7 of the NHL Eastern Conference Semi-Final. Scott Walker (not to be confused with the fellow who sang The Sun Doesn't Shine Anymore) scored the winning goal with just over a minute left in OT to give the Hurricanes a 3-2 victory.

Walker had previously earned the ire of Bruins fans when he sucker punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward in Game 5.

The Bruins, who were the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, were down three games to one but just came up short. It was the closest the Bruins had come to getting to the Stanley Cup in ten years. They were last in the Stanley Cup Final in the 1989-1990 season when they lost to the Edmonton Oilers in five games. The last time the Bruins won the Stanley Cup was the 1971-1972 season when Bobby Orr was in his heyday.

The Hurricanes will now meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final. I am rooting for the Penguins. I have nothing against the good people of North Carolina but how can you have a hockey team where it doesn't snow? It's just wrong. Wrong I tell you.

At least there are two "original six" teams in the Western Conference Final with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings taking on the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have not won a Stanley Cup since the 1960-1961 season and were last in the Final in 1991-1992 when they were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins then led by Mario Lemeiux.

So anybody but the Carolina Hurricanes.

Netanyahu to Pope: Condemn Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received Pope Benedict XVI today and told him to put the pressure where it belongs.

Specifically, Netanyahu asked the Pope to spend his energies condemning Iran for its threats to wipe Israel off the map.

Yesterday, the Pope stood in front of Israel's security fence and condemned it as a symbol of stalemate.

While Netanyahu said he was pleased with the Pope's response I await the day the pontiff travels to Tehran, stands in front of Evin Prison and calls it a symbol of stalemate.

Thoughts on Sri Lanka

I did not know Toronto's Gardiner Expressway had been blockaded for nearly six hours this past Sunday by Tamil protesters protesting the alleged killing of 370 civilians by the Sri Lankan government over the weekend. Many of those who partook in the blockade were children. Imagine if they tried to pull a stunt like that on the Deegan in New York City.

My older brother who lives in Toronto told me this over the phone last night and was none too pleased about it. Many of the protesters carried the flag of the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist organization. I pointed out to my brother that the Tamil Tigers invented suicide bombing. My brother countered, "Yes, but the Palestinians turned it into an art form."

There was another large demonstration last night in Toronto but this time it was peaceful and nobody approached the Gardiner this time. However, he finds the Tamils he sees on the streets as quite menacing and said it would come as no shock to him if they were to escalate into acts of violence.

So needless to say it doesn't help when politicians legitimize this kind of nonsense. Toronto Mayor David Miller actually spoke to the demonstrators and seemed unconcerned of their affiliation with the Tamil Tigers while Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty tried to push through a resolution in the Ontario Legislature asking the UN Security Council to intervene although it was defeated. Presumably by MPPs not happy that their constituents were stranded on the highway for hours on end and not eager to reward such behavior.

Which brings me to President Obama. Last night, he called on the Tamil Tigers to lay down their arms while lambasting the Sri Lankan government for killing civilians. I'm not questioning that the Sri Lankan government has killed civilians. Indeed, their ought to be a thorough investigation of their actions. But of more immediate concern would be a vigorous international effort to allow the approximately 50,000 innocent civilians to leave the combat zone.

Civil wars lasting in excess of a quarter century are not a good thing and Sri Lanka is in need of of international attention as described above. However, President Obama put a legitimately elected government and a terrorist organization on the same footing. In so doing he is effectively rewarding the Tamils behavior and legitimizing terrorism. This does not inspire confidence.

I Hope Obama Appoints a Man to the Supreme Court

My new article on who President Obama's first Supreme Court is up on IC today.

In the article, I discuss why I think his appointment will be from Harvard Law School. Obama, of course, attended Harvard Law and was the editor of the Harvard Law Review in 1991.

One of the people I mention is Elena Kagan, the former Dean of Harvard Law who Obama recently appointed as U.S. Solicitor General. She has been prominently mentioned as a very strong contender in the MSM so I am hardly the first to mention her. Kagan is probably as well regarded by conservatives as a liberal can be and the closest Obama would come to appointing a conservative. She is held in great affection by The Federalist Society. So he probably won't pick her.

In all honesty though I would like President Obama to appoint a man to the Supreme Court if for no other reason than to really annoy California Senator Barbara Boxer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

North Korea To Put Two American Journalists On Trial June 4th

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two American journalists kidnapped by the North Koreans in March along the North Korean-Chinese border, are to be put on trial June 4th.

The pair are accused of illegally entering North Korea and could face five to ten years in prison.

The North Koreans are holding Ling and Lee in order to extract concessions from the United States. Would the North Koreans kidnap Americans if they didn't think the Obama Administration would play ball with them? Dongguk University professor Koh Yu-hwan, an expert regarding North Korea, has said , "The North now has higher expectation of the U.S. showing some sort of response, such as a visit of a high-level envoy to Pyongyang."

Simply put there's a reason the North Koreans didn't touch Americans when the Bush Administration was running the show. But now all bets are off. Clearly the North Koreans were watching what was happening with Roxana Saberi in Iran.

Michael Ledeen of National Review Online has speculated the Obama Administration paid some kind of ransom to the Iranians to secure Saberi's release. If this is the case then North Korea will surely expect twice the consideration.

But perhaps most shameful in all of this that neither President Obama nor former Vice-President Al Gore (whose Current TV employs Ling and Lee) have condemned North Korea for its actions against our own citizens. It's inexcusable.

Suu Kyi To Be Put On Trial Again

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and the legitimately elected President of Burma, has been arrested and taken to the notorious Insein Prison.

The authorities are alleging that she housed a secret American visitor who swam to her home where she has been held under house arrest for most of the past two decades.

Her detention is due to expire on May 27th so it is rather convenient for the military junta to bring about new charges against her a fortnight before she was due to be released.

Former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush were outspoken against the military junta in Burma/Myanmar.

It will be interesting to see if President Obama and for that matter First Lady Michelle Obama have to say about not only this latest travesty of justice against Suu Kyi but about the tyranny that reigns in Burma/Myanmar.

Moakler Resigns as Miss California Pageant Co-Director

In a classic case of either she goes or I go, Miss California Pageant Co-Director and former Miss U.S.A. Shanna Moakler has resigned.

Her resignation comes after Donald Trump announced yesterday that Carrie Prejean would remain Miss California. Prejean shocked the world when she said she believed marriage was between a man and a woman.

It is things such as this that restore my faith in humanity even if only momentarily.

Now Obama Sees Why It Isn't A Good Idea To Supply Al Qaeda With Propaganda

I suppose this comes under the better late than never category.

The Obama Administration will now make efforts not to release photos of alleged prisoner abuse. Last month, the Obama Administration was going to do exactly that. For reasons aside from self-flagellation I cannot fathom why they would have even entertained the idea.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today that President Obama "believes that the release of these photos could pose a threat to men and women we have in harm's way." Gibbs added, "Nothing is added by the release of the photos."

Weren't conservatives telling you that all along?

Pope Blasts Israel's Separation Fence

Speaking in Bethelem, Pope Benedict XVI criticized Israel's separation fence.

The pontiff said, "Towering over us, as we gather here this afternoon, is a stark reminder of the stalemate that relations between Israelis and Palestinians seem to have reached -- the wall. How we earnestly pray for an end to the hostilities that have caused this wall to be built."

Well, as far as I am concerned the hostilities are a one way street. I don't seem to recall Israelis going into Gaza with bombs strapped to their chests intent on killing innocent civilians.

It is worth noting the Pope sees fit to comment on the separation fence after Taysir al-Tamimi, the Chief Justice of the Palestinian Shari'a Courts, gave some impromptu remarks after the Pope spoke at an interfaith conference at a church in Jerusalem two days ago.

In the spirit of interfaith tolerance, al-Tamimi called the separation fence "a racist wall" which prevented "Muslims and Christians form praying in their mosques and churches." He went on to accuse Israel of deliberating slaughter women, children and the elderly in the presence of the Pope.

It is true the Pope left the proceedings after he learned what al-Tamimi had said. It is also true the Vatican issued a statement taking al-Tamimi to task for his remarks. But the fact the Pope should go to the separation fence and criticize it without regard for Israel's security after al-Tamimi had done so effectively legitimizes al-Tamimi's criticisms.

If the Pope is trying to make up for consecrating a bishop who denied the Holocaust he is doing a horrible job. The sooner he leaves Israel the better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Liberals Re-Elected in British Columbia (And Why That's a Good Thing)

The Liberal Party in British Columbia on Canada's Left Coast has been re-elected to a third term in office. Gordon Campbell remains the Premier of B.C. (which is basically the equivalent of a state Governor.) As of this writing, the Liberals have been elected or are leading in 48 seats while the New Democratic Party (NDP) under Carole James has been elected or is leading in 37 seats.

Don't let the Liberal Party name fool you. The Liberal Party in B.C. has nothing to do with the Liberal Party in Ottawa. When the Social Credit Party collapsed following the 1991 provincial elections which saw the NDP come to power; conservatives of all stripes coalesced around the Liberal Party. The Liberals came to power in 2001 under Campbell, a former mayor of Vancouver. Over the past eight years, the Liberals have cut taxes, kept spending in check and have reined in public sector unions.

There is a Conservative Party in B.C. but historically it has never been able to gain much traction. Tonight, it received 2% of the popular vote and did not gain any seats. Meanwhile, the Liberals won nearly 46% of the popular vote.

Thoughts on Roger Clemens

Former major league pitcher Roger Clemens has again publicly denied that Brian McNamee ever injected him with steroids or HGH.

Clemens was interviewed on ESPN Radio due today's release of the book American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America's Pastime which was written by several reporters from The New York Daily News.

Unfortunately, baseball and steroids are so well associated with each other that many people think every player does it.

But has it occurred to anyone that Clemens might be telling the truth?

Unless there's irrefutable proof that McNamee injected him or Clemens pulls a Pete Rose and admits he has not been truthful I will continue to give Clemens the benefit of the doubt.

Here is an article I wrote about Clemens and The Mitchell Report in December 2007.

Trump Says Prejean Keeps Her Crown

My prediction was correct.

Donald Trump has told the world Carrie Prejean will remain Miss California.

O.K., so I had a 50-50 chance of being right.

But as I stated here yesterday if Shanna Moakler and company could have stripped Prejean they would have already done so. Besides how could Trump give former Miss U.S.A. Tara Conner a second chance after she abused cocaine and not grant Prejean a reprieve for expressing an honest opinion? Trump, by the way, made a pointing of noting that her point of view is shared by President Obama.

I am not a huge fan of Trump but he did right by Carrie Prejean.

One would hope this would subside and Prejean will finish out her reign and then live something resembling a normal life.

Of course, the ladies at The View could always pick another fight with Trump.

The Obamas Host White House Poetry Slam Tonight

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host the first ever "poetry slam" at the White House tonight. Actor James Earl Jones is amongst the featured performers.

But this wouldn't be the first time a poetry reading was planned for the White House.

You might recall that former First Lady Laura Bush invited scores of poets to celebrate the poetry of Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. But Sam Hamill, one of the poets invited to the event, publicly objected to being invited and asked other poets to send anti-war poetry to the White House. Due to the overwhelming response launched a website called Poets Against The War. The First Lady then cancelled the event. First, they were appalled when the First Lady invited them to the White House. Then they were appalled when the First Lady uninvited them to the White House. There is simply no pleasing some people.

A counterwebsite called Poets For The War was launched by a fellow named Charley Weatherford and I was one of its contributors. My involvement with Poets For The War led to me being invited to write for various conservative websites including Intellectual Conservative. It's hard to believe that was more than six years ago.

And yes, I still read my poetry at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge to less than receptive audiences. Language and poetry belong to all of us not just people who idol worship President Obama which I suspect what this event will be along with a few diatribes against his predecessor.

Monday, May 11, 2009

PREDICTION: Trump Will Let Miss California Keep Her Crown

Now I know my track record for predictions hasn't always been spot on.

But I think Donald Trump is going to allow Carrie Prejean to keep her title as Miss California tomorrow.

I think this for two reasons.

First, despite the heavy criticism of Prejean during a press conference by organizers of Miss California U.S.A. organization they said the decision was up to Donald Trump. Simply put if they could have got rid of her they would have done so already.

Second, if Trump was willing to give former Miss U.S.A. Tara Conner "a second chance" in December 2006 why wouldn't he do the same for Prejean? I mean it's not like Prejean did something illegal like use cocaine. Come to think of it what exactly has Prejean done to be put into this position in the first place? She was asked to express her opinion and did so. Last time I checked there was a First Amendment.

But given my track record for predictions one cannot be so certain.

Gibbs Takes Sykes to Task for Limbaugh/bin Laden Joke

I am not a fan of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs but I'll give him credit where credit is due.

While it did appear that President Obama was amused by Sykes joke likening Rush Limbaugh to Osama bin Laden at the White House Correspondents Dinner over the weekend, Gibbs was not amused at today's White House Press Briefing. Gibbs remarked, "I think there are a lot of topics that are better left for serious reflection rather than comedy. I think there's no doubt 9/11 is part of that.”

I don't think Gibbs would make such a statement unless either Obama told him he didn't like the joke (which he stated he hadn't) or if it was communicated by someone close to Obama that he ought to comment on the matter.

Now if only Gibbs would say a kind word about Carrie Prejean.

Wanda Sykes Compares Limbaugh to bin Laden

Over the weekend at the White House Correspondents Dinner, "comedienne" Wanda Sykes riffed on Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh said he hope this administration fails. So you’re saying, ‘I hope America fails.’ He just wants the country to fail. To me, that’s treason. He’s not saying anything different than what Osama Bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight.

Where does one begin?

Well, I suppose she is a "comedienne" and thus we should not take anything she says seriously.

Except there is every reason to believe she meant every word of it.

So assuming Sykes meant what she said let me dissect it.

First, is Wanda Sykes going to tell us that she wanted the Bush Administration to succeed? Her side of the aisle questioned Bush's very legitimacy. Wishing him success would have been an act of heresy in Hollywood. No guest spots on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Second, if we take Ms. Sykes arguments to its logical conclusion she is saying that disagreement with the Obama Administration is tantamount to treason.

Third, if Ms. Sykes is saying that disagreeing with the Obama Administration is tantamount to treason then what about disagreement with the Bush Administration? By her argument wouldn't that be treasonous? Nope. Remember Dissent was patriotic - until noon on January 20, 2009.

Fourth, as for the bin Laden comparison, I don't recall Limbaugh telling conservatives it was their duty to kill liberals.

Of course, if Rush Limbaugh had told the Conservative Political Action Conference that he wanted Wanda Sykes' kidneys to fail he would have been called a) racist b) sexist c) homophobic d) accused of stifling dissent and e) fomenting a climate of hatred in this country.

To quote the late Sonny Bono, "And the beat goes on."