Friday, July 31, 2009

Corazon Aquino, 1933-2009. R.I.P.

Corazon Aquino, who served as President of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992, has died of colon cancer. She was 76.

She considered herself "a plain housewife." But she was different from the other housewives in Newton, Massachusetts. Her husband was Benigno Aquino, a Philippine Senator and arch rival of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos.

The Aquinos lived in exile in the Boston area for three years after he underwent heart surgery. But Aquino wanted to return to the Phillipines despite being well aware of the risks. As he got off the plane in Manila on August 21, 1983 he was assassinated by a gunshot to the head.

But instead of killing the Filipino opposition it was merely re-mobilized around his widow Corazon who had no previous political experience. Yet just over 2½ years after the assassination of Begnino Aquino, Marcos was driven from power by his own corruption, disaffection from the populace, defection from amongst his own ranks, the legacy of Begnino Aquino and the transparent decency of Corazon Aquino who was to become the new President of the Philippines. For this she was named Woman of the Year by TIME Magazine.

Aquino and her story hit a raw nerve with people around the world. Her husband was killed in her presence and she stood up to the man who had the most to gain from his death. She did so with a grace and humility that is rare in politics. To be sure governing was not an easy task. Frequent coup attempts accompanied by natural disasters and a weak economy are not the ingredients for a successful presidency. Perhaps her greatest legacy was that she was truly a democrat. When it came time for her to leave office in 1992, she did. No military coups. No rewriting of the constitution. She just left office without fanfare. The likes of Hugo Chavez and Manuel Zelaya should take note.

Thoughts on MLB Trade Deadline Deals

Well, Roy Halladay is still pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays but there were some deals made today.

While the Jays didn't deal Halladay they did trade third baseman Scott Rolen to the Cincinnati Reds for third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, pitcher Josh Roenicke and minor league pitcher Zach Stewart. I've mixed feelings about this deal. The Jays traded one injury prone third baseman for another injury prone third baseman. Granted, Encarnacion is eight years younger than Rolen but he's also hitting more than .100 points below Rolen.

The saving grace of this deal is Roenicke who struck out 14 batters in 13 and one thirds innings pitched with the Reds this season. Roenicke could be the Jays future closer. As for Stewart, he pitched very well in Triple A with Louisville. He needs to work on his control but I wouldn't be surprised if the Jays give him a long look in September. I think Toronto comes out ahead in this deal.

The Boston Red Sox were busy as well making two trades. After acquiring Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates last week today they traded him to the Atlanta Braves for first baseman Casey Kotchman. The Bosox also acquired catcher-first baseman Victor Martinez in exchange for pitcher Justin Masterson and two minor league pitchers (Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price.)

LaRoche returns to the Braves where he played from 2004 through 2006. Kotchman returns to the AL after being traded a year ago from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for Mark Teixeira. Kotchman doesn't have as much power as LaRoche but is a better defensive first baseman. On the other hand, Kotchman won't play everyday. Kevin Youkilis will still play a lot at first as will Victor Martinez.

The presence of Martinez will largely affect Sox team captain Jason Varitek. Look for Martinez to assume the lion's share of catching duties. Will he develop the same rapport with the pitchers as Varitek? It's doubtful but that is a wisdom that Varitek can impart to Martinez. Most importantly he is a much bigger threat at the plate than Varitek and will help the likes of Jason Bay, Kevin Youkilis and, of course, Big Papi.

It will be interesting to see what the Indians do with Masterson. I assume he'll become Kerry Wood's set up man but I wouldn't be surprised if he takes Wood's job before the end of the season. Then again Masterson might be a candidate for the starting rotation.

Several interesting trades made by AL Central clubs. The Detroit Tigers acquired lefty pitcher Jarrod Washburn from the Seattle Mariners for pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles. In light of Seattle acquiring Jack Wilson and Ian Snell from the Pirates I thought the M's might hang onto Washburn. After struggling in his first three seasons in Seattle, Washburn has been respectable in 2009 and just respectable enough to fill out a starting rotation with Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson and 20-year-old Rick Porcello.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins obtained the well-traveled shorstop Orlando Cabrera from the Oakland Athletics. Given the big error made by Brendan Harris in extra innings against the Angels tonight, Cabrera cannot arrive soon enough. The Twins need veteran leadership in the pennant run and if they make it into the post-season and Cabrera can provide it.

However, I do not get Chicago White Sox GM Kenny Williams giving four pitchers to the San Diego Padres for Jake Peavy. At present, Peavy is rehabing from an ankle injury. Cy Young winner or not, Peavy might not be the same pitcher he was in 2007.

I saw Clayton Richard pitch for Chicago on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball last weekend and defeated the Detroit Tigers in convincing fashion. It was the only game the Chisox won against Detroit last weekend. Not only do I think the Chisox will rue giving up Richard but the same can be said of the three minor league pitchers surrendered in this deal - Aaron Poreda, Adam Russell and Dexter Carter. Williams gave up the store for a guy who might not be healthy enough to pitch.

The Washington Nationals meanwhile traded the injury prone Nick Johnson to the Florida Marlins as well as dealing left-handed reliever Joe Beimel to the Colorado Rockies.

Perhaps Ahmadinejad Should Hire Pat Buchanan as a Presidential Advisor

I have read Pat Buchanan's latest column and had to do everything in my power to keep from bursting out with laughter.

In the article, Buchanan praises the Obama Administration's policy in Iran and argues that an Israeli strike in Iran would "destroy a policy that is visibly succeeding."

And what policy is that you might ask?

Buchanan replies, "America's policy of patience is working."

More like sitting on its hands. The Obama Administration seeks engagement with Iran not patience. Indeed, it was President Obama who said we must not "meddle" in Iran's affairs. But with Iran crumbling at the seams it would be foolish for the Obama Administration to pursue engagement at this time. Yet it doesn't want to take a harder line either. So they are staying quiet for now.

There are a lot of factors that have led to Iran's current state of affairs but the Obama Administration's policy towards it isn't one of them.

Now, this doesn't preclude a debate on whether Israel should strike Iran. There are legitimate arguments to be made against Israel carrying out such a strike. But we should not pretend that Iran's regime, however unstable, doesn't have bad intentions towards Israel. However, Buchanan seems to think otherwise:

There is no evidence Iran has built the cascade to raise LEU (low enriched uranium) to highly enriched weapons-grade uranium, or that the facilities even exist to do this. The Iranian regime has declared it has no intention of building nuclear weapons, indeed, that their possession would be a violation of Koranic law.

So Buchanan declares there's no Iranian nuclear weapons program because the mullahs say so. It is astonishing, yet not altogether surprising, that Buchanan would accept the word of Iran's leaders who declared Ahmadinejad the winner in last month's "election" at face value. If building a nuclear weapons program is against Koranic law then surely arresting protesters and beating them to death is also against Koranic law. But such an argument would never have occurred to Buchanan.

In arguing against an Israeli strike on Iran, Buchanan writes, "Iran is even more pleased with the Shia regime we brought to power in Baghdad than we are."

Um, this is the same Pat Buchanan would six years ago argued the War in Iraq was Israel's war.

So is Buchanan now saying the War in Iraq is Iran's war? If so then he cannot have it both ways.

Finally, here's what he writes about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

Ahmadinejad is not so tough a customer as Stalin, Khrushchev or Mao, who talked of accepting 300 million dead in a nuclear exchange. Moreover, Ahmadinejad has no nukes, no authority to take Iran to war, and is looking like a very lame duck before his second term has begun.

Perhaps Ahmadinejad should hire Pat Buchanan as a presidential advisor.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sgt. Crowley Has A Drink With The President, Vice-President & A Harvard Professor

So some beer was consumed on the White House grounds and Vice-President Biden even joined in the reverie.

I noticed Sgt. Crowley and Professor Gates kept a healthy distance from each other with Biden sitting next to Gates while President Obama sat beside Crowley.

O.K., so President Obama got his photo-op.

But look at it this way. This would never have come to pass had a) President Obama not interjected himself so imprudently into a routine 911 call and b) Sgt. Crowley not stood his ground and said Obama's comments were way off base.

How often does a police sergeant get invited to sit at the same table with the President of the United States, the Vice-President of the United States and a prominent academic from Harvard University as an equal? It's a moment few of us will ever experience and I'm sure this isn't lost on Crowley.

Sgt. Crowley stood tall with his dignity intact. He later told the press that he and Professor Gates agree to disagree. Thus he comes out as the big winner in this whole row.

If there is a "teachable moment" for President Obama perhaps he has learned not to sully the men and women who risk their lives every hour of every day to ensure our well being. Should a similar circumstance arise in the future perhaps he will refrain from passing judgment until he has all the facts before him. People didn't elect him so he could malign local police officers who are just doing their job.

Now unless Gates decides to sue or make his documentary on racial profiling perhaps this tale has now run its course and will recede into the recesses of the past. If so then I'll drink to that.

Orioles Trade Sherrill to Dodgers

The Baltimore Orioles have traded pitcher George Sherrill to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor leaguers (third baseman Josh Bell and pitcher Steve Johnson.)

Sherrill was the Orioles closer and recorded 20 saves for them this season. However, don't expect Sherrill to be used as a closer in L.A. The Dodgers have Jonathan Broxton who has 23 saves in 2009. Sherrill will most likely be Broxton's set up man. It is a role Sherrill had when he pitched with the Seattle Mariners from 2004 through 2007. After the Mariners dealt Sherrill to Baltimore in the Erik Bedard deal, Sherrill had the opportunity to close. In 2008, Sherrill saved 31 games and was named to AL All-Star Team and pitched two and one thirds scoreless innings.

After getting off to a slow start in 2009, he quickly regained his form. The 32-year-old southpaw is affectionately known as The Brim Reaper because the bill of his cap is flat.

NY Times Reports Manny & Big Papi Tested Positive For Steroids in '03

According to The New York Times, both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz tested positive for steroids in 2003 when Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association engaged in anonymous drug testing.

They are allegedly on the same list of 104 players that also included Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa.

The presence of Manny on the list is not a bombshell given that he tested positive for HGH earlier this season was suspended for 50 games. But this is the first time David Ortiz has been linked to steroids. It is worth noting that Ortiz's career took off during the 2003 season.

So needless to say Yankees fans will chant "Steroids!!! Steroids!!!" the next time Big Papi bats at Yankee Stadium in the same way Red Sox fans chanted "Steroids!!! Steroids!!!" at A-Rod during the Yankees last visit to Fenway Park.

Speaking of Fenway, one wonders what the reaction Ortiz will receive when he steps up to the plate during this afternoon's game against the Oakland Athletics. For his part Ortiz has said, "I'm not talking about that anymore. I have no comment."

I think all of this is very unfair to Ortiz. Of course, Yankees fans are chiming in, "Yeah, you're a Red Sox fan." Well, I thought this was unfair to A-Rod as well and said so when the story broke last February.

MLB and the MLBPA did this testing which was to be kept anonymous. This list was supposed be destroyed but was seized by the federal government. The MLBPA has taken the feds to court over this matter. Little by little the names of players are being released. It violates both the letter and spirit of the agreement under which the testing was done. Either keep it confidential or make it public. Right now we have a situation where it is OK to violate the privacy of some elite players but are prepared to respect the privacy of others until they want to grab some more headlines. Privacy belongs to all of us and this is something about which Red Sox and Yankees fans ought to agree.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Giants Acquire Sanchez From Pirates

No sooner than the Pittsburgh Pirates had dealt longtime shortstop Jack Wilson to the Seattle Mariners they turned around and traded second baseman Freddy Sanchez to the San Francisco Giants for minor league pitcher Tim Alderson.

Conveniently, the Pirates happened to be playing in San Francisco where they finished a three game series this afternoon en route to being swept. Sanchez joins a team that has a ½ game lead in the NL Wild Card standings over the Colorado Rockies.

Sanchez began his big league career with the Boston Red Sox in 2002 but would be dealt to the Pirates in mid-season of 2003. He became an everyday player for the Bucs in 2005. His best season with the Pirates was in 2006 when he won the NL batting title with a .344 average. He has been named to the NL All-Star Team three of the past four seasons.

In the past 24 hours, the Giants have significantly improved the right side of their infield. Yesterday, the Giants acquired first baseman Ryan Garko from the Cleveland Indians. The Giants have great pitching but weak offense and the presence of Garko and Sanchez should improve it.

As for the Pirates, they have now traded five players who were in their starting lineup on Opening Day. Catcher Ryan Doumit, third baseman Andy LaRoche and right fielder Brandon Moss are the only position players in the lineup still wearing a Bucs uniform. Or will they too walk the plank?

Phillies Acquire Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee

So I guess the Philadelphia Phillies are out of the Roy Halladay sweepstakes.

This is because the pitching starved Phillies have acquired 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee as well as outfielder Ben Francisco from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor league pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp, shortstop Jason Donald and catcher Lou Marson.

Last year, Lee went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA to win the AL Cy Young for the Tribe. Lee got off to a slow start in 2009. He went 7-9 with the Indians in '09 but had a very respectable ERA of 3.14.
The highlight of Lee's season occurred last month when he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals (a game I saw on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball). Lee pitched a complete game three hit shutout.

Lee's presence in the starting rotation will be a welcome addition when you consider that the starter with the lowest ERA on the Phillies staff is Joe Blanton at 4.11. It is really amazing the Phillies are leading the NL East by seven games over the Florida Marlins. But they will need quality starting pitching down the stretch and Lee can fill that bill quite nicely.

I also like the addition of Francisco. He should compliment the great outfield of Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth. He'll be valuable down the stretch off the bench as a fourth outfielder.

As for the Tribe, the only player with any big league experience amongst them is Marson. He'll see some playing time especially if the Indians should trade Victor Martinez. The Indians are looking to 2010 and beyond. The key player for the Tribe is Carrasco. He has struggled with the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (I kid you not) in 2009 with a 6-9 record and a 5.18 ERA. But he has struck out 112 batters in 114 and two thirds innings pitched. That's basically a strikeout an inning. Although Carrasco is presently a starter I wouldn't be surprised if he is converted into a reliever. I don't think Kerry Wood is viable as the Indians closer in the long term.

So where does that leave Roy Halladay? In Toronto? If the Red Sox are interested in him the Yankees will be interested as well. But don't count out the Angels and Rangers either. The trade deadline is 4 p.m. on Friday.

Pirates Send Wilson & Snell to Seattle

Here is what the opening day lineup for the 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates looked like when they faced the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 6th:

LF Nyjer Morgan
2B Freddy Sanchez
CF Nate McLouth
C Ryan Doumit
1B Adam LaRoche
3B Andy LaRoche
RF Brandon Moss
SS Jack Wilson
P Paul Maholm

Less than four months later, four of those nine players listed are no longer members of the Pirates. McLouth was sent packing to the Atlanta Braves in June. Earlier this month, Morgan was dealt with pitcher Sean Burnett to the Washington Nationals for Lastings Milledge and John Hanrahan. Last week, Adam LaRoche was traded to the Boston Red Sox.

Today, you can add Jack Wilson to the list. He and starting pitcher Ian Snell were traded to the Seattle Mariners for Ronny Cedeno and four minor leaguers (catcher-first baseman Jeff Clement and right-handed pitchers Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock.)

Put another way, two-thirds of their outfield and half their infield are no longer with the team.

Wilson has been with the Bucs since 2001. He is good fielding shortstop with a decent bat. His best season came in 2004 when he batted .308, led the NL in triples with 12 and was named to the NL All-Star Team.

But Wilson was vocally unhappy when the Bucs traded Morgan stating he was "beyond tired of such moves." However, he later apologized for his remarks. Yet it was probably the best thing he could have done because it gave him a one way ticket out of the Siberia of Major League Baseball. Don't be surprised if former NL batting champion Sanchez is on the way out as well.

The Seattle Mariners are a longshot for the postseason. At 52-48, they are 7½ games back of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the AL West and 6½ games back of the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card standings. But there are two months plus of baseball to be played and it looks like the Mariners are going to give it a shot. In which case, they will likely hold onto starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn whose name has been bandied about in trade rumors. Good for them. If nothing else, the Mariners are a much better team under Don Wakamatsu and their 102 losses in 2008 will likely prove an anamoly. I think Wilson will be quite happy to play in the Pacific Northwest.

The change of scenery will probably do Snell some good as well. Debuting with the Bucs in 2004, he pitched well for them in 2006 and 2007. But he has struggled for the past season and a half. In 2009, Snell was 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA. Last month, Snell requested a demotion to the Pirates Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis where he has pitched effectively.

As for the Pirates, they got a journeyman shortstop and four unknown quantities who will probably be traded if they bear any fruit. Cedeno was once a top prospect with the Chicago Cubs but he doesn't have much of a bat. He'll stand in at short in place of Wilson for 2009 and then make room for Argenis Diaz (who was acquired in the LaRoche trade) in 2010.
Clement could see some time at first now that LaRoche is out of the picture but pitching is always a crapshoot.

The bottom line is that unless the Pirates sign their young players to long term contracts they will not contend. Which is a shame because the Cardinals won the NL Central (and the World Series) in 2006 with an 83-79 record. In 2007, the Cubs won the division with an 85-77 record. I would be very surprised if the NL Central Division winner in 2009 win more than 90 games.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a beautiful ballpark. But no one has a reason to go there.

I Feel Sorry For Lucia Whalen

I just saw a good chunk of Lucia Whalen's press conference on WCVB-TV, the ABC affiliate here in Boston.

I feel sorry for Lucia Whalen.

Not only was she was ill at ease in front of the microphones and cameras she had a very difficult time answering the questions posed by reporters. It was the last place she wanted to be. As the conference wore on I wondered why this whole spectacle was even necessary other than to give her attorney Wendy Murphy an opportunity to grandstand.

The only thing I really learned from all this was that an elderly woman initially saw what was going on and not having a cell phone got the attention of a passerby. As it happened that passerby was Whalen. This was the last place she expected to be when she made the 911 call nearly two weeks ago.

As I have written previously given that she works at Harvard she has more than likely incurred the wrath of her colleagues not to mention her neighbors. The presence of the media doesn't help much either. I can't imagine she's accustomed to such scrutiny. You can see the burden written all over her face. I don't think this press conference did much to alleviate her burden. I hope she has some vacation time available to her because this is surely the time to use it.

As for Sgt. Crowley, if this was the liberal media's last ditch effort to discredit him it failed miserably.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New York Times Has Link To My Crowley Article

I just wanted to mention The New York Times has a link to my latest article, "Sgt. Crowley Is Being Judged By The Color Of His Uniform."

You can find the link underneath the caption "From Around The Web."

I Stand By Sgt. Crowley

A couple of days ago I wrote, "The liberal media knows both Gates and Obama were wrong. But the liberal media can't bring themselves to admit that white police officer was right."

Here's a response from a reader: "Care to rephrase that, now that the tapes are out showing Crowley lied on his arrest report?"

No, I do not care to rephrase anything.

The 911 call to Cambridge Police does nothing of the sort.

If one reads Sgt. Crowley's report the race of the alleged assailants is identified when he is in conversation with Ms. Whalen at the scene not on the 911 call.

It is worth noting Whalen is also denying that she spoke to Sgt. Crowley at the scene. But what occurred at the scene is separate from what occurred on the 911 call. I find it hard to believe Sgt. Crowley would make up an entire conversation out of whole cloth. It would be interesting to see what the other officers on the scene have to say about what Ms. Whalen said or did not say.

Let me be clear. I think Ms. Whalen has been under enormous pressure. The fact she made the call cannot sit well with her colleagues at Harvard or her neighbors and she is trying to draw the heat away from herself. Her attorney Wendy Murphy said she is calling a press conference tomorrow because she wants to get back to a normal life. Well, I wonder who it is that is making Ms. Whalen's life abnormal?

If Ms. Whalen succeeds in drawing scrutiny away from herself it will bring about more heat towards Sgt. Crowley. Well, should that come to pass, I will continue stand by Sgt. Crowley. The liberal media wants to crucify a white cop because he's a white cop.

Shatner on Palin

William Shatner read a passage from Sarah Palin's farewell speech on The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien last night as only he can.

This is the first Sarah Palin bit on a comedy show that hasn't denigrated her in I don't know how long. Conan himself said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I watched it a couple of more times and it suddenly dawned on me this morning it's a poem. It was always meant to be a poem."

Since Alaska is a frontier state it is perhaps fitting that someone who has traversed the final frontier like Captain Kirk should be the one person who can serve as a medium between Palin and the parts of America who do not yet understand her.

Whatever she decides to do Sarah Palin has the makings of a naturalist poet. Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun. What a line. It's an homage to Mount McKinley.

Biden & Holder Dole Out $1 Billion For Police Officers

Vice-President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder today announced the federal government was doling out $1 billion to local law enforcement agencies to hire approximately 4,700 more police officers.

Almost $30 million of that amount is being allocated to Massachusetts. While Cambridge isn't getting any of the money I find the timing of this announcement very interesting in light of President Obama saying Sgt. James Crowley and the Cambridge Police Department had "acted stupidly" in arresting Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. earlier this month and the backlash that followed.

It is also interesting that Biden was tapped to make the announcement. Perhaps Obama is heeding advice that he is overexposed.

After all familiarity breeds contempt.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Village Voice Cites My Gates Article

The Village Voice has a section written by a fellow named Roy Edroso who monitors the conservative blogosphere.

This week Edroso focused his attention on the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Edroso mentions my article, "Is Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Above The Law?" He writes, "Intellectual Conservative finally offered what we may take as the definitive rightblogger legal analysis: "Being a 'black man in America' does not grant you the right to be obnoxious."

Imagine what Edroso could write if he actually read my article.

Hey, at least he spelled the name of our website right.

Lawyer For Gates 911 Caller Claims She Never Used The Term "Black"

Lucia Whalen, the woman who made the 911 call, is claiming she never identified any of the parties allegedly breaking into Professor Gates residence as black.

Her attorney Wendy Murphy said:

Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene. And she never said to any police officer or to anybody 'two black men.' She never used the word 'black.' Period." I'm not sure what the police explanation will be. Frankly, I don't care. Her only goal is to make it clear she never described them as black. She never saw their race. ... All she reported was behavior, not skin color.

She just wants to clear her name. She doesn't want to create more controversy. She falls outside the plain lines of race, and I think she wanted people to know that.

Clearly, the liberal media is still trying to discredit Sgt. Crowley.

There are two issues here.

There is a dispute as to whether Ms. Whalen had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley.

There is a dispute as to whether Ms. Whalen identified the alleged assailants as black.

Well, if Sgt. Crowley didn't talk with Ms. Whalen then who did? If Sgt. Crowley didn't get his information from Ms. Whalen then with whom did he speak at the scene?

I cannot help but think that Ms. Whalen might be getting a lot of heat from her neighbors and co-workers at Harvard for having made the 911 call and now trying to distance herself from it. Believe me I know what attitudes are like in the People's Republic of Cambridge. Of course, there could be something else in play altogether.

But here's what I don't get. Why does Ms. Whalen feel the need to clear her name? What was it that she did wrong? Let's suppose she did, in fact, tell Sgt. Crowley or one of the other officers on the scene that she saw two black people trying to enter Professor Gates home. I hardly think describing what one sees as being a crime much less racist.

But even if Ms. Whalen never described the alleged assailants as black, Sgt. Crowley still had to ascertain if there was a break in taking place at the residence. Sgt. Crowley determined Professor Gates was in fact in his home. That should have been the end of it. But then Professor Gates escalated the situation and we all know what happened next.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, effect this has on the meeting scheduled between Sgt. Crowley and Professor Gates at the White House with President Obama later this week. It will be interesting to see if President Obama does an about face and postpones the meeting indefinitely.

Crowley Accepts White House Beer Invite

It appears that Sgt. James Crowley will be joining President Obama and Professor Gates for a beer at the White House.

I hate to see Sgt. Crowley be used as a political prop by President Obama.

The last thing we need is more grandstanding from Professor Gates.

But I can understand Crowley's reasons for accepting the President's invitation.

If he declines he appears ungracious and anti-social. He would open himself to accusations that he is unwilling to bury the hatchet. It would become yet another chapter in the saga.

Yes, the press will write glowing articles about Obama the peacemaker. But they'll write glowing articles about Obama whether he deserves it or not.

If Crowley does this then I think this will begin to recede. That is, unless, Gates decides to bring a lawsuit or pursue his racial profiling documentary.

Besides Sgt. Crowley has demonstrated he can handle both Professor Gates and President Obama.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hillary Says She's Not Interested in the White House

So that's what she says. Kind of.

The day Hillary isn't interested in the White House is the day I am no longer interested in baseball.

If I were President Obama I would prepare for a frontal attack by wearing a cup made of Kevlar.

Rickey, Rice & Gordon Inducted Into Cooperstown

Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice and the late Joe Gordon were today inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Rickey is in a class all by himself. His 1,406 stolen bases will never be matched. Neither will his 2,295 runs scored.

Throw in 3,000 plus hits as well as two World Series rings, an AL MVP trophy, 10 All-Star Team selections and you have a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Jim Rice did accomplish something that Rickey never could. Play with one team his entire career. The Red Sox legend finally got his day in the sun after being voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) in his final year of eligibility.

Rice was one of the most feared hitters in the AL in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He thrice led the AL in home runs and twice led the league in RBI. In all, Rice drove in more than 100 runs eight times in his stellar career. He was also selected to the AL All-Star Team eight times. He won the 1978 AL MVP.

His career declined abruptly after 1986. However, given how steroids have been perceived to taint power numbers in the 1990s and beyond, Rice's power numbers have been viewed with greater respect with the passage of time.

Rice will receive another honor on Tuesday when the Red Sox retire his number 14 prior to their game with the Oakland Athletics. Rice will join Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Joe Cronin, Carl Yazstremski, Carlton Fisk and Johnny Pesky as the only Red Sox players ever so honored.

Joe Gordon was also posthumously inducted today. He was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Gordon played 11 seasons in the big leagues with the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians. He earned nine AL All-Star appearances, five World Series rings (four with the Yankees and one with the Tribe) and was the AL MVP in 1942. Like many players of his era, he served in WWII. Gordon missed two seasons in what would have been the prime of his career because of his military service. Gordon also tended to be overshadowed by Joe DiMaggio.

One could make the case that Gordon is the greatest second baseman in Yankees history. Others though would say Tony Lazzeri who also won five World Series rings with the Yankees. He, too, got overshadowed by a couple of guys named Ruth and Gehrig. Lazzeri would not be inducted into Cooperstown until 1991. Like Gordon, Lazzeri was also posthumously inducted.

Bob Schieffer Gets Crowley-Gates-Obama Wrong

Bob Schieffer made the following commentary on the row amongst Sgt. Crowley, Professor Gates and President Obama on the CBS Program Face The Nation.

He got it wrong.

Not surprisingly he played the moral equivalency card saying all parties were at fault.

Schieffer said of Sgt. Crowley:

A cop trained not to let such things bother him, let some smart remarks get under his skin. Inexcusable, sure, but aren't cops human too, sometimes?

Let's see here.

Professor Gates accused Sgt. Crowley of being a racist police officer.

President Obama called Sgt. Crowley stupid.

Sgt. Crowley, meanwhile, didn't accuse either Professor Gates or President Obama of anything.

He just did his job.

The liberal media knows both Gates and Obama were wrong.

But the liberal media can't bring themselves to admit that a white police officer was right.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Beach Boy Mike Love Compares John Stamos to President Obama

Tonight, my roomie Christopher and I attended a free concert by The Beach Boys.

These days the only original member of the group is Mike Love.

But in recent years actor John Stamos, best known for his roles on TV shows like Full House and E.R., often tours with the Beach Boys during the summer months as their drummer and also sings lead on a couple of songs.

Love and Stamos have some witty banter between them.

At one point, Love compared Stamos to President Obama.

Love said, "John Stamos is making as much money (from re-runs of Full House) as Obama is printing."

What a hoot.

Great New Blog: Poems in support of Iran

A few days back I mentioned a woman who goes by the name Nanehlala who translated a poem I wrote in honor of Neda Agha Soltan into French.

Well, Nanehlala has launched a new blog called "Poems in support of Iran." The poems are written both in English and in French.

And by poems in support of Iran she doesn't mean poems in support of the Mullahs & Ahmadinejad.

Gates Accepts Obama's Invitation to the White House for Beer

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has accepted President Obama's invitation to the White House to share a beer with Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley.

Somehow I don't think it would be the first time Obama and Gates have shared a brewski.

However, this puts Sgt. Crowley in a difficult position.

I personally think he should decline the invitation. Why be used as a prop in a photo op?

But if he does decline the invitation then the Gates camp and other African-American leaders will say that Crowley is part of "the nation of cowards" who are uninterested in a "conversation on race."

Sgt. Crowley could say that his family, vocational and community obligations render him unable to accept President Obama's invitation.

Now that Gates has accepted Obama's peace offering methinks Crowley will do the same. He doesn't strike me as a disagreeable sort.

Of course, my fear is that Crowley will be used not only to advance Obama's agenda but Gates' as well.

Gates said, "I am pleased that [Obama] is eager to use my experience as a teaching moment. And if meeting Sgt. Crowley for a beer with the President will further that end, then I would be happy to oblige."

Gates just doesn't get it.

Then again if Crowley can hold his own against President Obama he can certainly do so with Professor Gates.

If Crowley takes up Obama's offer it will be interesting to see if Gates will still sue the City of Cambridge. It will also be interesting to see if Gates still plans to make that PBS documentary about racial profiling with Crowley cast in the role of the villain.

Friday, July 24, 2009

An Evening With Michael Lang

In a couple of weeks, I plan to write an article about the 40th anniversary of Woodstock.

Michael Lang (pictured below) was one of the four men who organized the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival. He made an appearance in the Boston area tonight to promote his new book The Road to Woodstock along with his co-author Holly George-Warren.

If one is going to write an article about Woodstock one might as well as go directly to the source.

As you can imagine he is quite enthusiastic about President Obama. In fact, he called Obama's inauguration "a Woodstock moment." Hey, he's entitled to his opinion. Even if you disagree with it.

But don't let the curly hair and his soft-spoken manner fool you. The man has a keen sense of entrepreneurship and has a way with people.

He also looks very good for someone about to turn 65 this December. It was interesting to contrast Lang with some of the people in the audience who were clearly showing both their age and the after effects of consuming one too many hallucinogens.

I had the opportunity to ask Lang a couple of questions.

The first question is the subject of my article so I will leave it for now. You'll have to wait for the article. I know the suspense is unbearable but.....

The second question (which I also directed to George-Warren) was which version of the song, "Woodstock" did he prefer? Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or Matthews Southern Comfort? The same song but two radically different arrangements.

George-Warren was surprised at the question but told me in a whispered tone that she preferred MSC's version (as do I.) She asked me what Iain Matthews was up to and I replied that he was based in Holland had recently recorded a jazz album with the jazz combo known as The Searing Quartet.

As for Lang, he noted that he liked Joni Mitchell's version. After all she did write the song. However, he also told me that he Stephen Stills and Dallas Taylor (who was CSN&Y's drummer) played it for him before recording it on their 1970 album Déjà Vu. Not many people can make that claim. So I can understand how he would be partial to their version of the song.

Bill Hanley, the sound engineer at Woodstock and Boston area native, was also on hand.

The only comment I'll make about the article is that it will surprise everyone who reads it.

Athletics Trade Holliday to St. Louis

Twenty-four hours ago I pondered if the Oakland Athletics would trade outfielder Matt Holliday to the San Francisco Giants.

Well, instead of sending Holliday across the Bay, the Athletics have sent him to the Gateway to the West. Holliday is now a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. In exchange for Holliday, the Cardinals gave up three minor leaguers including Brett Wallace, who was the Athletics top draft pick in 2008. Wallace could be Oakland's everyday third baseman as early as next season.

Holliday will provide protection for reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols. The Cardinals now have a power trio Pujols, Holliday and Ryan Ludwick. Holliday will supplant Rick Ankiel in left field who has struggled at the plate and hasn't been the same player since colliding head first into the outfield wall during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies in May.

The one disdvantage is that all three of these players bat right-handed. I'm surprised the Cardinals wouldn't have sought a left-handed power hitter instead. But perhaps there wasn't one readily available or who have fit into the Cardinals lineup. Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres comes to mind but he's a first baseman like Pujols and this isn't the AL so no DH (except for interleague play in AL ballparks but interleague is done for 2009.) Nonetheless, Holliday should be a good fit in the Cardinals lineup. It will be interesting to see if Holliday stays in St. Louis beyond 2009 as he is a free agent after this season.

The Cardinals currently lead the NL Central Division by not a large margin. The Chicago Cubs and the surging Houston Astros are only 1½ games back while the Milwaukee Brewers are 2½ games back. The Cardinals have the unenviable task of visiting the defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies this weekend. The Phillies have been playing their best baseball of the 2009 season having won 11 of their last 12 games.

Whatever impact Holliday has in St. Louis, I think the San Francisco Giants missed out on an opportunity to add a right-handed power hitter. Then again sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.

Obama Won't Apologize to Sgt. Crowley; Would Like To Have a Beer With Him & Gates Instead

President Obama, having stepped into it by claiming that Sgt. Crowley and Cambridge Police Department had "acted stupidly", tried to weasle his way out of it by saying he should have chose his words differently.

Obama spoke during an unscheduled appearance at the daily White House briefing. He stated that he had spoken to Sgt. Crowley over the phone. "Because this has been ratcheting up and I helped contribute to ratcheting it up, I want to make clear that in my choice of words I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically and I could have calibrated those words differently."

Well, when you refer to an individual or an organization as having behaved stupidly you are by definition maligning them.

President Obama could have simply said to Sgt. Crowley, "I did not have all the facts surrounding the incident before me. Therefore, I would like to apologize to Sgt. James Crowley and the Cambridge Police Department for my remarks on Wednesday night."

Instead, Obama wants to have a beer with Crowley and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at the White House.

When trying to deescalate a volatile situation between two opposing parties it is never a good idea to introduce alcohol into the mix.

But it is clear what Obama wants. A photo op. I'm sure David Axelrod can see it now. A photo of the three of them smiling together with the headline, "Barack Obama: Healing The Racial Divide."

A racial divide whose chasm he cut deeper.

I suspect Sgt. Crowley will have the good sense to politely decline any such invitation and not be used as a propaganda tool.

Boston Globe Readers Think Obama Should Have Kept His Mouth Shut About Cambridge PD

The Boston Globe put forward a question to its readers: Should the president have spoken out on the Gates arrest?

A majority of the readers who have responded indicated they believe President Obama should have kept his mouth shut or at the very least reserved judgment to a later date.

OK, it isn't a scientific poll but given how liberal this part of the country is it is clear that Obama struck both a raw nerve and the wrong chord.

It isn't the place of the President of the United States to second guess a local police department especially when by his own admission he doesn't have all the facts before him.

As time goes on other matters of state will come to fore and memories will recede. However, I think President Obama's ill-advised comments will create a lasting impression in the Boston-Cambridge area. The seeds of doubt have been planted and Obama is fertilizing them.

Put it this way. Somewhere Hillary Clinton is sitting up, taking notice and biding her time.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cambridge Police Chief Defends Crowley; MA Governor Patrick Defends Gates

Robert Haas, the Chief of the Cambridge Police Department, has publicly defended Sgt. James Crowley.

On the other hand, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is defending Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Haas said he did not believe Sgt. Crowley "acted with any racial motivation at all." When asked about President Obama's comment last night that the Cambridge Police Department had "acted stupidly", Haas replied the Department is "deeply pained."

Governor Patrick, for his part, had no comment on President Obama's remark other than to say Obama "was quite capable of speaking for himself.” Patrick said he emphasized with Gates in "feeling powerless" while he attended Milton Academy in the 1970s and being "stopped for no reason than just being on the sidewalk." The Governor did not elaborate further.

Patrick did say, "I guess I would say you ought to be able to raise your voice in your own house without risk of arrest.”

Ahem, Governor. Gates was arrested outside his home. I guess the Governor didn't have all the facts before him. Just like his good friend President Obama.

Mark Buehrle Tosses Perfect Game

Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle made history this afternoon by tossing a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The White Sox 5-0 win moves them into a tie with the Detroit Tigers for the lead of the AL Central Division. The Chisox travel to Detroit tomorrow to play a four games series against the Tigers.

As for Buehrle, he becomes the 16th pitcher to throw a perfect game since 1900. His perfect game is the first in MLB since May 2004 when Randy Johnson accomplished the feat while a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Atlanta Braves.

This is also Buehrle's second career no-hitter. In April 2007, Buehrle fired a no-hitter for the Chisox against the Texas Rangers. He has pitched his entire 10-year MLB career on the South Side of Chicago.

In between decimating our country's health care system and defaming the Cambridge Police Department, Chisox fan and President of the United States Barack Obama called Buehrle to congratulate him on his triumph. It is worth noting Obama met with Buehrle prior to the All-Star Game last week in St. Louis. Obama suggested in jest that Buehrle threw the perfect game because he wore the White Sox jacket when he threw out the first pitch. Gee Barry, I thought everything wasn't all about you. Well, today it's about Buehrle.

Sgt. Crowley Taught Racial Profiling Classes

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. offered to educate Sgt. James Crowley about the issue of racial profiling.

Professor Gates, your services are not required.

It turns out that Sgt. Crowley has been teaching a class on racial profiling at the Lowell Police Academy for the past five years and he was handpicked to do by Ron Watson, the former Chief of Police for the City of Cambridge. It is worth noting that Watson is African-American. Would Watson have tabbed Crowley if he thought Crowley was a "racist officer" much less a "rogue cop"?

Can you hear it? It's the sound of Professor Gates' credibility going out the window.

Obama Opens Mouth & Inserts Foot; Has Vendetta With Sgt. Crowley

So it seems President Obama has a grudge against Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department.

He defended his remarks last night claiming that Sgt. Crowley "acted stupidly" in arresting Professor Gates last week. In an interview with Terry Moran of ABC News, Obama stated:

I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement because I think it was a pretty straight forward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home.

I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do. And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That's my suspicion.

It doesn't make sense to arrest a guy in his own home if he's not causing a serious disturbance.

How does Obama know Gates wasn't causing a serious disturbance? Remember this is the guy who said he didn't have all the facts on the case but was willing to state the Cambridge Police were "acting stupidly."

Well, let President Obama continue to defend his remarks. Let President Obama continue his personal vendetta with Sgt. Crowley and the Cambridge Police Department. Because if he insists on going down that road he is going to lose a lot of people who jumped on his bandwagon last November. Law abiding people don't like police being unjustly criticized much less being characterized as stupid.

Will The Giants Acquire Matt Holliday?

With the Oakland Athletics going nowhere in 2009 it appears that Matt Holliday's tenure there will end after less than one season. The Athletics acquired Holliday from the Colorado Rockies in the offseason for relief pitcher Huston Street.

I have a hunch that he will end up across the Bay in San Francisco and finish the season as a Giant.

The Giants are abundant in pitching but are in need of offense. Specifically, they need a right-handed power hitter and Holliday fills that bill. The Giants rank at or near the bottom of the NL in several offensive categories. They rank last in the NL in both walks (211) and on base percentage (.307). No surprise there. They are next to last in the NL in OPS (which is a combination of on base and slugging percentage) at .690, in runs scored (379) and home runs (63). In fact, Pablo Sandoval and Bengie Molina account for more than 40% of the Giants home runs this season.

Yet they made into the All-Star Break leading the NL Wild Card. But now they've slipped 1½ games behind the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card race and they will be facing off this weekend in Denver. Wouldn't Matt Holliday love an opportunity to face his old team in a pennant race? After a slow start with Oakland, he is hitting a respectable .287 with 11 home runs and 54 RBI. The question is what are the Giants willing to give up in exchange for Holliday especially since he is a free agent at the end of 2009 and might be inclined to sign elsewhere.
Then again Holliday is 29 and in the prime of his career. If the Giants want to reach the postseason this year then this is the time and the player with whom to take a roll of the dice.

Holliday's best season came in 2007 when he nearly won the Triple Crown leading the NL in batting average and RBI during the Rockies improbable run to the NL Championship. He would finish runner up in the NL MVP balloting to Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Sgt. Crowley Stands Up To President Obama

Sgt. James Crowley is no shrinking violet.

After being called out by President Obama last night, Crowley today rebuked the President in an interview with WBZ Radio in Boston.

While Sgt. Crowley did say he "supports the President of the United States 110 per cent" he was nonetheless critical of President Obama:

I think he's way off base wading into a local issue without knowing all the facts, as he himself stated before he made that comment. I don't know what to say about that. I guess a friend of mine would support my position, too.

Even if they never admit it both Professor Gates and now President Obama might come to realize that they picked on the wrong guy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama Claims Cambridge PD Acted "Stupidly"; Admits He Doesn't Know Facts of Case

During tonight's press conference on health care, President Obama was asked a question about last week's arrest of Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

While President Obama admitted he did not know all of the facts behind the case he nonetheless concluded the Cambridge Police Department had "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates because "there was already proof that they were in their own home."

Well, if President Obama had known the facts of the case he would have known that Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct not for breaking & entering.

His statement does a disservice to law enforcement and the principle of equal justice for all.

But what do you expect of a President who remarks he would be shot if he tried to force the locks at the White House?

The joke was in poor taste and so were his misinformed comments about the Cambridge Police Department.

At least Sgt. James Crowley is standing his ground and refuses to apologize for doing his job.

Police Unions Sticking Up For Sgt. Crowley

Well, at least someone is sticking up for Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department.

Police unions in both Cambridge and across the Charles River in Boston are speaking up in support of Sgt. Crowley.

Jim Carnell, a union representative for the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association, put it this way:

The officer's mindset when is going in there is 'why was he breaking down the door?' Maybe there is a restraining order in place. Maybe Harvard University, who owns the house, changed the locks for some reason. The officer's job is to make sure everything is on the up-and-up.
Mr. Gates should be grateful that the police responded and explained himself with some civil discourse. It would have ended there. Instead, his arrogant, combative behavior gave the cops cause to wonder that something else going on.

Hugh Cameron, President of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police, put it more succinctly. Cameron said, "Sergeant Crowley was carrying out his duty as a law enforcement officer protecting the property of Professor Gates and he was accused of being a racist. The situation would have been over in five minutes if Professor Gates cooperated with the officer."

But Professor Gates didn't want it over in five minutes. Gates is pondering the possibility of bring forth a lawsuit against Crowley, the City of Cambridge and the Cambridge Police Department.

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

Red Sox Acquire Adam LaRoche From Pirates

The Boston Red Sox have acquired first baseman Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league shortstop Argenis Diaz and minor league pitcher Hunter Strickland.

Well, this means a lot less playing time for third baseman Mike Lowell. Look for Gold Glove first baseman Kevin Youkilis to play the lion's share of third base (which happens to be Youk's original position) while LaRoche becomes the everyday first baseman.

LaRoche was batting a modest .247 but does have 12 home runs and 50 RBI and he is known for playing his best baseball after the All-Star Break. However, the flipside of this is that he hasn't seen a lot of American League pitching outside of interleague play.

This is LaRoche's sixth big league season. He spent his first three seasons with the Atlanta Braves. LaRoche's best season was in 2006 with the Braves when he hit .285 with 32 home runs and 90 RBI. He was traded to the Pirates that off season for relief pitcher Mike Gonzalez.

The Red Sox have lost a season high four consecutive games and last night fell out of first place in the AL East and are now a game behind the New York Yankees. So much for my prediction that the Yankees would finish in last.

Will LaRoche's left-handed bat give the Red Sox offense some spark? Will LaRoche have the same impact on the Sox as his former Pirates teammate Jason Bay? LaRoche is a free agent at the end of the season. Is LaRoche a short term fix or will the Sox try to sign him beyond 2009? Lowell has one more year on his contract but it remains to be seen if his hip can hold up? Will Theo Epstein eat Lowell's contract? Or will Lowell graciously retire? Then again, if LaRoche hits .215 and the Sox somehow miss the postseason then those questions are academic.

The problems Red Sox fans face are miniscule when compared to Pirates fans or what's left of them. In the past seven weeks, the Pirates have traded away Nate McLouth, Eric Hinske, Nyjer Morgan, Sean Burnett and now Adam LaRoche. Can his younger brother Andy be far behind?

It is possible that Diaz could be the Pirates starting shortstop in 2010. But that is of little consolation to Bucs backers. If you are somehow still cheering for the Pirates you are cheering a team that is on its way to its fifth last place finish in six years and hasn't finished better than fourth place in ten years. A team can develop players and trade for prospects. But if that team is not willing to sign those players to long term contracts and are just going to trade them away two or three years down the road why should fans come to PNC Park? A stunning view of the Allegheny is simply not reason enough.

Another View on the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Incident

Last night, I wrote a piece on the the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Hopefully, it should be up on IC in the next day or two. However, if you cannot endure the suspense any further this column can be read here.

In the meantime, I came across an interesting take on Gates' arrest by Glenn McNatt of The Baltimore Sun. McNatt, who is African-American, found himself in a similar predicament as Gates. However, unlike Gates, he behaved very differently towards the Baltimore Police and not surprisingly the situation ended with a very different outcome:

A similar mix-up happened to me about 10 years ago, shortly after we moved into a house in Baltimore's Homeland neighborhood. Someone saw me emptying the trash out back one night and called the police.

I was in the kitchen finishing up the dinner dishes when they knocked on the back door; when I opened it they entered and asked if I lived there.

In the end I had to show my driver's license, then call my wife and daughter downstairs to vouch for me.

Unlike Mr. Gates, however, I didn't automatically assume the two officers were racists; one of them was white, but the other was African-American. I figured they were just doing their job, and that they were probably as wary of me as I was of them.

They both managed to stay civil, if professionally cautious, until my story checked out. And I was ever the mild-mannered editorialist, though I didn't mention where I worked or what I did.

Eventually they satisfied themselves that everything was OK and left. I didn't demand an apology, and they didn't offer one.

Afterward, I wondered whether I should have been more indignant, as Mr. Gates apparently was. But I figured there was no point in escalating a situation with a potential to turn nasty, especially with my family in the house.

If Gates had adopted the demeanor and disposition of McNatt with Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department he would never have been placed under arrest. Unless, of course, Gates adopted that demeanor deliberately to draw attention to himself and his cause. But to be fair I cannot read Gates mind. McNatt writes further:

We all bring to these encounters our unique personal histories and agendas; that evening I just wasn't inclined to make a federal civil rights case out of an obvious misunderstanding, even if the misunderstanding did hinge on the ever touchy subject of race.

Now, this assumes the person who called the Baltimore Police did so because McNatt was black. Unless, McNatt has additional information that for whatever reason he is disclined to share one cannot assume the person who made the call was motivated by race. We only know the caller saw something out of the ordinary and contacted the authorities who responded and determined there was nothing out of the ordinary after all. McNatt understood.

This is what police officers do in this country every day and it is what Sgt. Crowley was doing when he responded to the 911 call of a possible breaking and entering at Gates' residence last Thursday. Gates, however, does not or chooses not to understand.

Priests for Life: ACT NOW to stop stealth-FOCA!

Dear Friend,

This is without question among the most urgent messages I've ever sent you.

Unless you want to pay for abortionists to kill the youngest members of our human family, you must take these two actions immediately:

1. Contact your lawmakers in Washington!
2. Click here and rush Priests for Life the largest gift you can send today so that we can lead the people of life to DEFEAT the gravest threat to our unborn brothers and sisters since Roe v Wade!

In case you don't know, under the guise of "health care reform" Congress is about to pass a stealth version of the Freedom of Choice Act! And to make matters worse, they will force YOU to pay for the killings that will follow!

Make no mistake. The "health care reform" bills being finalized in Congress will set off a chain reaction that will result in a massive expansion of abortion!

That's because unless Congress explicitly states that abortion is excluded, it will be regarded as "an essential benefit" for Americans. Once that's done, insurance companies would be forced to cover elective abortions which would in turn force local health networks to recruit and hire abortionists.

And to make matters even worse, because these would be federal mandates ...

... state laws that now restrict abortion will probably be overturned!

As I said, this is FOCA in disguise!

Which is why it is so critically important that you:

àContact your lawmakers in Washington … RIGHT NOW!
àClick here and rush Priests for Life the largest gift you can send today.

Your action is needed because Barack Obama and the Abortion Congress want to ram this through Congress BEFORE the people of life can rise up to stop it.

And they will succeed unless YOU take action. Don't leave this up to "someone else." Call your two U.S. Senators and your House Representative and urge them to explicitly exclude abortion funding from health care reform legislation.

I know we can win this fight. We proved that earlier this year when we helped mobilize the people of life to oppose the Freedom of Choice Act.

We won that battle ... and we can win this one, too.

But only if we ACT NOW and make our voices heard in Washington. Time is of the essence!

Obama is putting enormous pressure on Congress to pass his "health care reform" as quickly as possible. He originally wanted it passed before lawmakers left on their August recess. Only fast action by Priests for Life and other pro-life activists kept that from happening.

Stung by that setback, the pro-abortion leaders of Congress are now out there selling the "health care reform" package to voters. But one thing they aren't telling anybody is how this measure will all but mandate abortion-on-demand ... and force you and every other taxpayer to pay for it!

So we've got to sound the alarm far and wide and convince our fellow Americans to DEMAND that Congress keep any "health care reform" bill abortion-neutral!

Priests for Life is sparing no expense to do just that. We are using every means of communication at our disposal to rally pro-life America to action: TV, radio, Internet, parish visits, resources for clergy, newspaper articles, tele-conferences, letter writing campaigns, postcards ... you name it.

To be successful it is critically important that you TAKE THESE THREE ACTION NOW:

1. Contact your two U.S. Senators and Representative. You can either click here to send them an email, or call them, or both. You'll need to make three calls: One to your Representative in the House (switchboard 202-225-3121) and one to each of your two U.S. Senators (switchboard 202-224-3121). Ask the operator to connect you to the appropriate lawmaker's office.

2. Click here to join our prayer campaign. Let's join prayer power to our lobbying voices, and let us know on this page that you have contacted your lawmakers and that you will say the daily prayer we've prepared. In this way, when I visit our lawmakers in Washington, I will know how many of our Priests for Life family members have already contacted Congress.

3. Click here to rush Priests for Life the largest contribution you can send Priests for Life at this critical time.

Your dollars are desperately needed so that Priests for Life can alert our fellow Americans to the fact that "health care reform" is really "stealth FOCA" ... and then rally them to join us as we fight to DEFEAT every attempt to include abortion in any "health care reform" package.

Again, though, the key is for you TAKE ACTION NOW ... before you move on to your next email. Believe me, there is nothing that is more important for you to do right now than this.

And if I may ask you one more favor. Each year I survey our supporters to learn how we can serve their needs more effectively. After giving your donation, would you take a moment and fill out the short survey I've placed at It is very important to me to know what you're thinking about our ministry!

Thank you and God bless.

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries

PS. In case you think I'm exaggerating the situation, pro-life Congressman Chris Smith calls Obama's so-called "health care" plan the "greatest threat to the unborn since Roe v. Wade." He is so concerned, in fact, that he sent a letter to his fellow Congressmen in which he cited quotes from pro-abortion groups that state their goal of using health care reform as a tool to expand access to abortion. He also quoted Barack Obama from a Q&A session at a Planned Parenthood Action Fund Event in July 2007: "In my mind reproductive care is essential care, basic care so it is at the center, the heart of the [health care] plan that I propose." Now that you know the truth ... TAKE ACTION!

Click here and help Priests for Life STOP this grave threat to the youngest members of our human family!

NOTE: If you prefer to send a check, please make it out to Priests for Life and send it to us at PO Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314. If you have any questions, call us toll-free at 888-735-3448. x 232.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thoughts on Chappaquiddick @ 40

With all the discussion about the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator (where some of my articles have appeared) notes that no one, not even National Review, has saw fit to mention the 40th anniversary of Chappaquiddick.

You know the incident that claimed the life of Mary Jo Kopechne but did not claim the political career of Senator Edward Kennedy.

Of course, much of it has to do with the fact that Kennedy is dying of brain cancer. Then again if Kennedy were in perfect health I don't think the MSM would be eager to revisit Chappaquiddick.

Pardon me for saying it. But as far as the MSM is concerned Chappaquiddick is water under the bridge.

Monday, July 20, 2009

President Obama, Edmund Burke & Iran

I was reading Jack Kerwick's column, "Classical Conservatism: A Return to a Politics of Humility."

In the piece, Kerwick praises President Obama's approach concerning Iran in the aftermath of the "election" as being in the finest traditions of classical conservatism as personified by Edmund Burke.

It is quite possible Burke would have had little enthusiasm for the protesters in Iran. His disdain for revolution is well known and slogans like "Death to the Dictator!!!" would probably hold little appeal to him.

On the other hand, it was Edmund Burke who said, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." So it is hard to fathom Burke endorsing Khamenei and Ahmadinejad much less President Obama's clarion call that we not meddle. If what is happening in Iran isn't evil then nothing is.

I also cannot imagine Burke being supportive of a policy of engagement of a regime that has no interest in engaging us and is, in fact, keen on doing us harm never mind its malignant designs for genuine friends.

An Obama Poem: Doing It On The Fly

I think Barack Obama's greatest singular achievement in his six months as President of the United States was swatting that fly during a television interview. FDR never had reflexes like that.

But I don't think President Obama has dealt with more dangerous members of the insect world quite as well:

Doing It On The Fly

As you spoke about global strife
That buzzin’ fly came into your life
You couldn’t let it just float away
How dare it interrupt your interview on Today
When you kicked it with your shoe
Were you thinking of Netanyahu?

That moment enhanced your narrative
Yet what really was the imperative
Flies pose no threat, are no source of doom
Unless they are played by Jeff Goldblum
When confronted by more dangerous insects
Your conduct is more circumspect

Take the Venezuelan cockroach
Who took a direct approach
Giving you a very big book
You grabbed its tentacles & shook
Triumphantly it crawled away
Dissidents looked at you with dismay

The North Korean mosquito
Its intention isn’t incognito
When it takes a firm stand
You’re not so quick to raise a hand
Your response to its missiles
Has thus far been futile

Then there are Iranian killer bees
You know the ones you aim to appease
When the worker bees clamored for reform
The queen bees closed ranks and swarmed
You were unwilling to do the right thing
Well because they might sting

Casting a wide net
Is no sure bet
You might wish to catch them with honey
But you spent all our money
I know you have your reasons why
Or are you just doing it on the fly

So when you speak about making global strides
And something else comes into our lives
That just won’t float away
What are you going to do today?

Thoughts on Apollo 11 @ 40

Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon for 2½ hours. Those 2½ hours changed the lives of both men and, of course, mankind.

This event occurred three years before I was born. I'm part of the generation that saw the first launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia. However, I remember the landing better. It took place on April 14, 1981 at 1:20 EST. I remember this because it was my Dad's 40th birthday. There was a time when we would watch every single Shuttle launch and landing and record it on the school's Beta Max.

When I think of Apollo 11 and the moon landing I think of Bob Costas and Marilu Henner. Why them? I'll explain. But a word of warning. The story is a wee bit bawdy. Yet I think you will find it amusing just the same.

Costas used to host a show on NBC called Later. I enjoyed the show because it had no band or audience. It was just Costas one on one with a guest for an entire hour. I had been exposed to Costas as a result of his work in baseball on NBC's Game of the Week.

One night he interviewed actress Marilu Henner. Of course, she is best known for playing Elaine Nardo on Taxi - one of my favorite TV shows ever. By this time she was on Evening Shade with Burt Reynolds.

Henner apparently has the uncanny ability to remember what she was doing on every day of her life. Costas, however, was skepitcal of Henner's claim and decides to test her. He picks out a random date - July 20, 1969. The day of Armstrong and Aldrin took one small step for man. But Henner becomes flummoxed and flustered and demands to know if someone put him up to mentioning that date. Now Costas is perplexed.

Long story short. It turns out while Apollo 11 was landing Henner was being taken to new heights. It was the night she lost her virginity. But here's the best part of the story. Without missing a beat Costas retorts, "At least we know Neil Armstrong wasn't the culprit."

That interview must have taken place about twenty years ago. I still find it funny now.

I should mention that I met Marilu Henner at Macy's here in Boston almost a decade ago. But that's a story for another day.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Frank McCourt, 1930-2009. R.I.P.

Frank McCourt, the author of Angela's Ashes, has died of malignant melanoma. He was 78 years old.

Angela's Ashes
was released in 1996. It was a memoir of McCourt's childhood in Limerick, Ireland. McCourt would win the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize for Angela's Ashes. In 1999, it would be adapted into a movie starring Robert Carlyle and Emily Watson. Not bad for someone who had been a New York City school teacher and was essentially working on a retirement project.

However, some in Limerick disputed McCourt's account of his childhood. But this did little to deter the affections of the chattering classes on the Upper West Side.

McCourt followed Angela's Ashes with another memoir Tis (1998) which documented his life in New York City. His last book Teacher Man (2005) documented his career as a New York City public school teacher.

What Annoys Me About The ESPY Awards

Since 1993, ESPN has broadcast The ESPY Awards.

Think of the ESPYs as the sports equivalent of the Emmy Awards.

It used to be broadcast live in February or March. But since 2002, it has been broadcast on the third Sunday of July following ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. Usually, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball begins at 8 p.m. EST. But on this weekend the game begins at 6 p.m. EST.

It's very annoying. I don't understand why ESPN Sunday Night Baseball has to be moved back two hours to accommodate a show that isn't even broadcast live. The ESPYs are taped the day after the MLB All-Star Game.

Here's what I would do if I were in charge of programming at ESPN. Air the ESPYs on Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN and broadcast ESPN Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN2 at the same time which happens to be its normal time. That way everybody wins. Viewers have a choice between the ESPYs or ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

I mean what were they broadcasting on ESPN2 this evening while the ESPYs were on? Soccer and drag racing.

O.K., it isn't the biggest problem in the universe. But it is a pet peeve of mine and now I've spoken my peace.

It's Still a Heck of a Story for Tom Watson

Tom Watson was a putt away from becoming the biggest sports story of 2009.

Watson would have become the oldest golfer to win a major championship. He is less than two months shy of his 60th birthday. If he had won the Open Championship it would have been his first major since winning the Open Championship in 1983.

But he didn't sink that final putt and it forced him into a playoff with Stewart Cink who had never before won a major championship on the PGA Tour. Cink won the four hole playoff and the Open Championship by six strokes.

I remember when Jack Nicklaus won the Masters in 1986 at the age of 46. That was unbelievable. But a Watson win this weekend would have literally been one for the ages. It would have also been the sixth time he had won the Open Championship.

Watson himself said it best, "It would have been a heck of a story, wouldn't it?"

Yet it was a heck of story. How often does Tiger Woods not make the cut? How often do older athletes get a chance to return to their prime? What a thrill it was for the fans to see Tom Watson at the top of his game. Even if Tom Watson came up short for a few days he was the best golfer in the world again.

Poèm pour Neda

Last month, in the wake of the assassination of Neda Agha-Soltan in Iran which was seen around the world, I wrote a poem in her memory.

Today, I received an e-mail from a woman named Nanehlala. To my absolute surprise, she translated my poem into French and sought my permission to put it up online. I have never had a poem of mine translated into another language. So I am deeply honored by the gesture. Permission granted.

I asked Nanehlala to tell me a little more about herself. Understandably, she is guarded. But I can tell you this much. She is Iranian but left the country during the midst of the Islamic Revolution thirty years ago and now lives elsewhere.

Needless to say, she is pained by what has transpired in Iran and is trying to do her part in drawing attention to it. In addition to translating poems, Nanehlala also writes her own poetry as well as novels and short stories for children. She is hoping to have some of her works adapted into animated films.

So without further adieu here is Nanehlala's French translation of Poem for Neda:

Poème pour Neda

Elle vint au centre ville

Se joindre aux milliers, déjà là ;

Eux voulaient dire au monde entier

Ce qu’il coûte de gagner

Une révolution Islamique

Dans les Persans joueurs de flûtes

Il y avait sur les toits, des tireurs lâches qui attendaient.

Dans l’espoir de mettre fin au mouvement qui se levait,

L’un d’eux visa Neda au cœur.

Alors que sa vie s’écoulait de son visage

Neda débusqua le silence

Pour que l’erreur n’ait plus sa place

Pour montrer au monde entier

Ce que ce régime fait

Et pourtant, la Maison Blanche ne veut pas le renverser

Pour que le trouillard en chef se trouve dans ses bons papiers

Nous resterons liés au diable

Pour des raisons d’état minables

Ça n’est vraiment pas croyable

Que vous restiez sans bouger devant l’appel de Neda

Assurez vous d’être prêt à nous expliquer pourquoi

Vous ne pensez toujours pas que l’heure de l’Iran est là.

Car, dès que vous nous proférez que ça n’est pas notre affaire

Un pétale tombe des bourgeons en fleurs de la liberté.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite, 1916-2009. R.I.P.

Legendary CBS News Anchor Walter Cronkite died this evening. He was 92.

He is best known as the anchor of the CBS Evening News, a position he held from 1962 until his retirement in 1981.

It was Cronkite who told the world that President Kennedy had died on November 22, 1963 with tears in his eyes.

Less than five years later he declared the Vietnam War could not be won.

Of course, I was not yet born. But I am old enough to remember when he read the news. I would have been no more than four or five years old. But I would remember him leading with, "President Carter today...." and not understanding anything else he said until the time came for him to say "and that's the way it is...." Even as a child I recognized both a resonant and reassuring tone in his voice. This as much as anything else was the key to his enduring appeal.

In recent years, Cronkite was far more vocal in his support of liberalism. He wrote an open letter to Democratic Presidential standard bearer John Kerry in 2004 chastising him for being unwilling to embrace his inner liberal. In 2006, echoing his sentiments on Vietnam nearly three decades earlier, he declared the War in Iraq was also unwinnable.

Cronkite was not a fan of the Fox News Channel and appeared in Robert Greenwald's 2004 documentary Outfoxed to condemn the network. However, this did not prevent the Fox News Channel from dedicating Greta Van Susteren's program this evening on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in Cronkite's memory due to his passion for space exploration.

Gordon Waller, 1945-2009. R.I.P.

Gordon Waller, one half of the 1960s British pop duo Peter & Gordon, died yesterday of a heart attack. He was 64 years old.

Peter and Gordon had a string of hits in the mid-1960s all of which were written by Paul McCartney with the exception of "I Go To Pieces" which was penned by Del Shannon. At the time, McCartney was dating Peter Asher's sister, Jane. Peter and Gordon's biggest hit was "A World Without Love." However, my favorite P & G song is "Woman." This song was written by McCartney but was credited to one of his aliases, Bernard Webb.

Beginning in 2005, after not performing together for nearly thirty years, Peter and Gordon reunited for a series of concerts on the oldies circuit as well as playing some Beatles conventions.

Watertown, New York Gets No Respect

Like many people, I first heard about Watertown, New York when the late Harry Chapin infamously said that he "had spent a week there one afternoon" on his Greatest Stories Live album.

Then when I moved to Ottawa in 1991 I discovered the PBS affiliate eminated from Watertown. Before being renamed WPBS it was known as WNPE-16 Watertown/WNPI-18 Norwood. I watched the channel occasionally as I have always occasionally watched PBS. It had a nice small town charm to it. It's not WGBH here in Boston but had its own little niche.

That niche was found in Canada. Although most of its viewers are located in upstate New York most of the money it raised during its pledge drives were from Canada in places like Ottawa, Kingston and Pembroke. Because of this WPBS geared a lot of its programming to its Canadian viewers. It even plays both national anthems when it signs off.

Well, Rogers Cable will no longer feed Watertown's PBS station into homes in Eastern Ontario effective August 18th. These Canadian viewers will get their PBS from Detroit.

Given that PBS from Watertown has been a fixture in Eastern Ontario since 1971 you would think that Rogers would have notified WPBS of its decision. Nope. WPBS found out about Rogers' decision courtesy of an e-mail from a viewer. That's pretty lame on the part of Rogers. Advising WPBS of their decision is the least they could have done.

I mean the slogan of WPBS is "The Two Nation Station." No Canadian viewers means no WPBS.

Rogers argues that its viewers like PBS but want a PBS affiliate that has a stronger signal. That's where Detroit Public Television comes into the picture.

For its part, WPBS is urging viewers to contact Rogers Cable in the hope it will reconsider the decision. Good luck though. Rogers has a virtual monopoly on cable TV in Canada. As such it thinks it can acts how it wants without consideration to viewer demand.

Now one might argue that in the grand scheme of things PBS isn't that important. If the programming on PBS is so good it should be able to survive in the private sector. But who really wants to be known as the person who killed Big Bird? I didn't think so.

So let's look at it another way. Let's look at this particular PBS station. If WPBS is taken off Canadian airwaves then WPBS would probably turn to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by extension the federal government for help. It's a better deal for the American taxpayer if WPBS continues broadcasting in Canada and paid for primarily by Canadian viewers.

Then everyone, be they American or Canadian, can enjoy a week's worth of WPBS in one afternoon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jim Chapin, 1919-2009. R.I.P.

I just learned that Jim Chapin died on the Fourth of July. He was only a few weeks shy of his 90th birthday.

He was the father of Harry Chapin (one of my favorite musicians as noted on my Wikipedia page) and nine other children. The elder Chapin was a musician in his own right. He was a drummer of great renown in the big band era and was a contemporary of legendary drummers such as Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. He wrote two books on jazz drumming which are utilized by jazz drummers to this day.

If you click on the link that begins this post you'll see the remarkable resemblance between father and son. If Harry Chapin had lived to 90 that is probably what he would have looked like. Tom Chapin, one of his other sons and also a musician, had said his father had been ill in recent years and did not look so well. But he noted that things changed when you put him behind a drum kit. “We got him behind the drums, and he shed 30 years.” If Harry were still amongst us I am sure he would say his father died "good tired."

Yet it is peculiar that I should learn of Jim Chapin's passing today. It was on July 16, 1981 (28 years ago today) that Harry Chapin lost his life in an automobile accident.

Terrorist Attacks in Indonesia

Tonight, there were simultaneous explosions at two hotels in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

The attacks took place at the Ritz-Carlton and the Marriott hotels. As of this writing nine people have been killed and 50 have been injured.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but it is most likely the work of Jemaah Islamiyah, a Sunni Muslim terrorist organization that seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia. Jemaah Islamiyah has also been known to have a working relationship with al-Qaeda. Indeed, al Qaeda's number two Al Zawahiri announced in 2006 the two organizations had formally joined forces.

Of course, this is not the first terrorist attack in Indonesia although it is the first since 2005. Jemaah Islamiyah attacked Bali in 2002 and 2005 and the Australian Embassy in 2004. Tonight, is the second time the Marriott has been attacked by Jemaah Islamiyah. They attacked it previously in 2003 resulting in 12 deaths and 150 injured.

Could this terrorist attack be a message to President Obama? This attack could serve as a reminder to Obama that Jemaah Islamiyah is still here and they don't like the increased U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan. Let us also remember that President Obama spent four years of his life in Indonesia as a child. It will be interesting to see what he has to say about attacks in a city he once called home.