Monday, August 31, 2009

Patrick Sets Massachusetts Special Election for January 19, 2010

Earlier today, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick set a special election for January 19, 2010 to fill the seat vacated as a result of Ted Kennedy's death last week.

The primaries for this election will take place on December 8th.

Patrick is looking however to name an interim Senator and will try to get the blessing of the Massachusetts legislature. You will recall the Massachusetts legislature took this power away from then Governor Mitt Romney when it was feared he would appoint a Republican in the event John Kerry won the 2004 Presidential election.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Patrick naming someone on an interim basis. I just want to live in a state where it would have been O.K. for Romney or any other Republican to do the same.

There is now speculation that former Congressman Joe Kennedy, Ted's nephew, will seek the seat. Kennedy is presently the Executive Director of Citizen's Energy, the non-profit corporation that takes oil from Hugo Chavez. But if Kennedy opts not to run it is widely believed Democratic Congressmen Ed Markey and Michael Capuano might throw their hats in the ring. Their fellow Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Stephen Lynch as well as Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley are expected to run whether or not Kennedy gets into the race.

As for the GOP, your guess is as good as mine. Mitt Romney isn't running. That's no surprise. I don't think he'd win which would jettison any ambitions for the White House.

As for Joe Kennedy, I can understand the sentiment in his favor but I don't think he should get the seat just because of his surname. I mean what chance would he have if his name were Joseph Patrick?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Liberal Democrats Ousted in Japan

Japan's Liberal Democratic Party have been ousted in parliamentary elections.

Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, is poised to become Japan's next Prime Minister in September.

Do these elections represent a sea change in Japan?

I don't think they do.

Although the Democratic Party of Japan is to the left of the LDP it must be remembered that many in the DPJ were formerly with the LDP including Hatomaya. If the DPJ achieves any kind of success in office it will likely take over the role the LDP has played since 1955.

On the other hand, the LDP was out of power between 1993 and 1996. Yet the last non-LDP coalition went through three Prime Ministers in three years and couldn't stamp out an identity for itself. Now one could make the case the LDP has had three Prime Ministers since Junichiro Koizumi left office in 2006. But the LDP is a known quantity in Japan even if its brand name is diminished at the moment. Unless the DPJ can come up with a leader (be it Hatomaya or someone else) with the kind of popularity Koizumi had while in office methinks the LDP will be back by 2012.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Harper Appoints NDP Premier as Canadian Ambassador to the U.S.

Last night, I found out that Manitoba Premier Gary Doer had resigned after 10 years on the job.

Today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed Doer as Canada's new Ambassador to the United States.

While it is unusual for a Conservative Prime Minister to appoint an NDPer to a diplomatic post it is not unheard of. Brian Mulroney appointed former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis as Ambassador to the UN in 1984.

I think it's a gesture to President Obama. Appoint a left of centre politician to the post. Smart. It also increases the probability of Harper gaining a political ally in Manitoba. Whoever the NDP chooses to fill Doer's shoes is going to have a tough time. Doer governed as a moderate centrist and was largely successful because of that image. After all, he was thrice elected Premier. Now that he will leave office, the Conservatives in Manitoba have their best chance in getting back to power in a decade.

Former NHL Coach Appointed to Canadian Senate

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed former NHL coach Jacques Demers to Canada's Senate.

Demers coached several NHL teams including the St. Louis Blues, the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning. He guided the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1993. They are the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup.

Several years ago, Demers admitted he could not read or write. If it was anyone other than Demers, Harper would have been lambasted for his appointment. However, Demers is a beloved figure in Canada so I think there will be few objections.

In recent years, Demers has served as a hockey color commentator on RDS, Canada's French language sports channel.

What if Chelsea Clinton Interviewed The Bush Twins?

I am in Canada for a few days. Before I went to bed I watched the Canadian Parliamentary Channel (CPAC), the Canadian equivalent of C-SPAN and saw a most interesting interview.

Catherine Clark, the daughter of former Tory Prime Minister Joe Clark, interviewed Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, the son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

It's an interesting interview because the two of them have experiences and insights few others have. I mean imagine being in a conversation with someone who lived in the same house you did. It would be kind of like Chelsea Clinton interviewing the Bush twins.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dominick Dunne, 1925-2009. R.I.P.

Dominick Dunne, movie producer turned investigative journalist, died today of bladder cancer. He was 83.

Dunne was best known for the articles he wrote for Vanity Fair. He spent most of the last three decades covering legal proceedings such as the trials of Claus Von Bulow, the Menendez brothers, O.J. Simpson and William Kennedy Smith, nephew of the late Ted Kennedy. He also wrote an article about the trial of John Thomas Sweeney, the man who murdered his daughter actress Dominique Dunne in 1982.

Dunne also wrote novels. After covering William Kennedy Smith's trial, Dunne developed an interest in the Martha Moxley case. She was murdered in 1975 and it was believed that Michael Skakel, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy, was somehow involved but could not be proven. His interest in the Moxley case inspired the novel A Season in Purgatory. Although the story was fictional the novel played a significant role in renewing interest in the Moxley case which would eventually lead to Skakel's arrest and conviction for that crime. In 2002, Skakel was sentenced to 20 years to life for Moxley's murder.

Needless to say, Dunne was not a favorite of the Kennedys. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. holds Dunne responsible for Skakel's conviction and told Larry King that Dunne was a gossip columnist, not a journalist.

However, Dunne was ordered to apologize to and compensate former Congressman Gary Condit who brought forward a lawsuit against Dunne when he implicated him in the 2001 disappearance of Chandra Levy, an intern with whom Condit had an extramarital affair. Ingmar Guandique was charged with Levy's murder last March.

Dunne is survived by his son, actor Griffin Dunne and his sister-in-law, writer Joan Didion.

Another Day, Another Met Done For The Season

Only 24 hours after the New York Mets announced their ace starter Johan Santana was having season ending elbow surgery another one of their starting pitchers will also have season ending surgery.

Mets lefty Oliver Perez will undergo surgery on his right knee. Truth be told, Perez is probably relieved his season is over and so are Mets fans. Perez had an awful season going 3-4 with a 6.82 ERA in 14 starts. He walked 58 batters in only 66 innings pitched.

With Santana, Perez along with John Maine on the DL plus the recent release of Livan Hernandez (who as of today is once again a member of the Washington Nationals) the only member of the starting rotation at the beginning of the season that is still standing is Mike Pelfrey. After Pelfrey the rotation consists of Tim Redding, Bobby Parnell, Nelson Figueroa and Pat Misch, who has never won a major league game since his debut with the San Francisco Giants in 2006. Not exactly Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan.

I bet the Mets now wish they had signed Pedro Martinez to a one-year deal. Martinez, now a member of the first place Philadelphia Phillies, beat them at Citi Field this past Sunday with a little help from Eric Bruntlett. Can you say unassisted triple play? Can you say a nice summary of everything that has gone wrong for the New York Mets this season in a single at bat?

Ellie Greenwich, 1940-2009. R.I.P.

Songwriter and record producer Ellie Greenwich died today in New York City of a heart attack. A few days ago she had been hospitalized with pneumonia. She was 69.

Greenwich and her former husband, Jeff Barry, were a songwriting powerhouse from 1962 to 1966. They co-wrote songs like "Be My Baby", "Baby I Love You", "Then He Kissed Me", "Da Doo Ron Ron", "Hanky Panky", "Doo Wah Diddy Diddy". Greenwich and Barry also collaborated with Phil Spector on songs like "Chapel of Love" and "River Deep Mountain High."

They wrote all these songs in New York City's Brill Building. Greenwich and Barry weren't the only husband and wife team of songwriters. The Brill Building could also brag about Carole King and Gerry Goffin as well as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Greenwich was also instrumental in discovering Neil Diamond. She and Barry would produce several of his early hits like "Cherry Cherry" and "Kentucky Woman."

In 1985, a musical based on Greenwich's life called Leader of the Pack (yes, she and Barry produced that song too) made it to Broadway.

Although "Baby I Love You" and "Be My Baby" were made famous by The Ronettes I'm partial to the cover versions recorded by Andy Kim in 1969 which were produced by Barry. Here's a clip of Kim lip synching "Be My Baby." The female back up vocalist on this record (although not in the video) is none other than Ellie Greenwich.

Major new social networking site debuts -

From the Politics on the Rocks gang - this new social networking site is going to encompass everything, from twitter to facebook to other new features still being implemented that you will be be pleasantly surprised to see. It launched Tuesday and will be ramping up fast as improvements are made. No longer will conservative political activists need to log into multiple new media sites, but will be able to access them all from this one site.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009. R.I.P.

Massachusetts Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy died early this morning after a 15 month battle with brain cancer. He was 77.

I had a feeling his time was coming soon. Earlier this month, he was too ill to attend either the funeral of his older sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver or to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed upon him by President Obama. It had been hoped the President would take time out of his Martha's Vineyard vacation to meet with Senator Kennedy but those plans were scuttled.

Kennedy was first elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election in 1962 and would be re-elected to eight more full terms, most recently in 2006. He would unsuccessfully challenge Jimmy Carter for the Democratic Party nomination in 1980. Yet there can be no question that Kennedy's challenge hurt Carter considerably in the 1980 Presidential election.

Of course, Kennedy would never attain the office held by his brother John and that was sought by brother Robert before being cut down by an assassin's bullet. This was in no small part due to his personal behavior be it his temporary expulsion from Harvard College, Chappaquiddick, the incident involving his nephew William Kennedy Smith not to mention his alcoholism and his carousing with women. However, he became more grounded after his second marriage to Victoria Anne Reggie in 1992.

Kennedy was simultaneously a fence mender and a ferocious partisan. He was enormously helpful to President Reagan with regard to developing his relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev. But he did everything he could to successfully damage Reagan's appointment of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Kennedy was also helpful to President Bush where it concerned No Child Left Behind. But he did everything he could to damage our efforts in Iraq including his infamous comment about Abu Ghraib prison in May 2004 when he said, "Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management."

Nevertheless, his passing leaves an enormous void in the U.S. Senate that will not be easily replaced. A special election will be held within the next six months to fill the now vacant Senate seat. Shortly before his passing, Kennedy had called on Massachusetts lawmakers to amend the law to allow Governor Deval Patrick to name a successor immediately upon his death. Ironically, Kennedy had saw to it that Patrick's predecessor, Mitt Romney, would not have such a power in the event John Kerry was elected President in 2004. Ted Kennedy didn't want Romney appointing a Republican to the U.S. Senate so lawmakers in Massachusetts took that power away from him. You have to give Senator Kennedy props for being a masterful politician.

Universal health care, of course, was an issue that was dear to Senator Kennedy. In light of how poorly received Obamacare has been received look for President Obama to use Senator Kennedy's passing to sell his health care proposals in the coming days and weeks. In emphasizing the legacy of Ted Kennedy, President Obama will make the case that the passage of universal health care will represent that final piece of his legacy. It will be shameless and exactly how Senator Kennedy would have wanted it.

Now that Edward Kennedy is gone, 81-year-old Jean Kennedy Smith is the last surviving sibling of the Kennedy clan.

I Pity The New York Mets

I never thought I would say it but I feel sorry for the 2009 New York Mets.

After disappointing finishes to the 2007 and 2008 seasons, it was thought the Mets would take the NL East in 2009.

As of this writing, the Mets are 57-68 and 16½ games behind the Philadelphia Phillies. The only team looking up at the Mets this year is the Washington Nationals.

The principle reason the Mets are languishing is because they are missing their best players.

First baseman Carlos Delgado had surgery on his hip in May and hasn't been heard from since.

Shortstop Jose Reyes injured his right calf in late May and re-injured it while on a rehab assignment.

Centerfielder Carlos Beltran has been on the DL since June with a bone bruise on his right knee.

Earlier this month, third baseman David Wright sustained a concussion after being hit by a pitch on the helmet by San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain. Believe me it isn't pretty. A lot of players are never the same after getting hit on the head with a pitch. Just ask Dickie Thon or Ellis Valentine.

And if that wasn't enough, the Mets announced today that ace starting pitcher Johan Santana will miss the rest of the 2009 season as he will be undergoing surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow.

I haven't even mentioned the injuries to starting pitcher John Maine or set up man J.J. Putz. Nor did I mention the bizarre circumstances that led to the firing of assistant general manager Tony Bernazard last month. Let's just say it's not a good idea to challenge your players to a fistfight.

Talk about being born under a bad sign.

Oh well. Wait until next year.

Thoughts on Martha's Vineyard

With President Obama and his family in Martha's Vineyard this week I thought I've been thinking about my only trip to the island.

In May 2001, my older brother Ezra paid me a visit in Boston. During his stay, we decided to take a day trip to Martha's Vineyard. It was about a week before Memorial Day so the crowd was modest (hence not too much traffic) and the weather was pleasant and comfortable.

We took a bus from Boston to Hyannis. Once in Hyannis, we boarded a smaller bus that took us to Woods Hole. From there we took a boat to Martha's Vineyard. The ride took about 20 minutes. There were also boats available for Nantucket.

Martha's Vineyard is divided into several different small towns. Our boat landed in the town of Tisbury. We weren't interested in taking any of the tour buses and instead opted to walk around. There was a privately owned beach that was open to the public that we walked along. Ezra must have taken 100 pictures. I don't know if he ever developed them all. I can't say I blame him for taking so many pictures. There was something special about that beach. If I were ever to walk along a beach arm in arm with a woman that beach on Martha's Vineyard would be the one. After that we ambled into town where we spent the balance of the afternoon before making our way back to Boston.

I've never been back there since. Not that I wouldn't go back but I would not recommend going to Martha's Vineyard for a day trip. When I want to get away from Boston for the day I usually take a train up to Walden Pond or to the North Shore. I remember how exhausted Ezra and I were when we got back to my apartment late that evening and can't imagine how exhausted we would have been during peak season with heavy traffic.

Martha's Vineyard (and the Cape in general) is much better suited for an overnight or weekend respites. Of course, if you're the President of the United States and have between $35,000 and $50,000 to spend you can stay on the island for the whole week. Hey, what's $50,000 of his own money when President Obama tells Congress to spends trillions of ours.

Or put it this way. If Sgt. Crowley wanted to have another beer with President Obama and Professor Gates I don't think he could afford the glass.

Red Sox Acquire Billy Wagner From Mets

The Boston Red Sox have obtained the services of left-handed reliever Billy Wagner from the New York Mets in exchange for two players to be named later.

Wagner has pitched in the majors since 1995 with the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies and the Mets. He has saved 385 career games and has saved 30 or more games in a season eight times. Wagner saved 27 games with the Mets in 2008 before an elbow injury last September ended his season and forced him to have Tommy John surgery. He became expendable when the Mets signed free agent Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez to a three-year contract in the offseason.

The 38-year-old southpaw was expected to miss the entire 2009 season but he recovered far faster than anyone anticipated and he did appear in two games for the Mets earlier this month before today's trade.

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon is less than enthusiastic about the addition of Wagner:

What has he done? Has he pitched this year? Is he ready to pitch or is he not? I think our bullpen is good where we're at right now. Don't get me wrong. But I guess you could always make it better. It's kind of like the [Eric] Gagne thing, I guess.

Papelbon is, of course, referring to the trade deadline deal that brought Eric Gagne to the Red Sox from the Texas Rangers during the 2007 season. Earlier this decade, Gagne was the best relief pitcher in MLB. He saved 84 consecutive games between 2002 and 2004 and won the NL Cy Young Award in 2003. However, Gagne was plagued by injuries in 2005 and 2006 and the Dodgers eventually released him. He started the 2007 season with the Rangers and appeared to be regaining his old form having saved 16 games for Texas at the time of the trade.

But Gagne had never pitched in a set up role and he was a complete bust. He gave up 14 runs in 18 and two thirds innings pitched and blew the only three save opportunities he was given. Gagne didn't stop the Red Sox from winning the 2007 World Series but his stint in Boston was mercifully shortlived. After a poor season in 2008 with the Milwaukee Brewers, Gagne is now pitching with the Quebec Capitales of the independent Can-Am League.

Now I'm not saying Wagner is necessarily on the road to pitching in Quebec City. Wagner is expected to pitch as a left-handed set up man to compliment Hideki Okajima, the Sox only other lefty reliever. Yet Wagner, like Gagne, is untested as a set up man and might not be suited to it.

Yet I can't help but think that Papelbon is objecting because he's worried the Red Sox might have plans to replace him with Wagner in the closer's role. On the surface that would appear absurd. Paps is healthy while Wagner is just coming off Tommy John surgery. Papelbon is also almost a decade younger than Wagner. Although Papelbon's 29 saves is tied for 4th in the AL (along with former teammate David Aardsma of the Seattle Mariners) he has struggled at times this season. Red Sox fans are accustomed to Papelbon having a one-two-three inning and that hasn't happened a lot in 2009. He's lost a little off his fastball and is learning he can't rely on the strikeout all the time.

Above all else, Papelbon's contract expires at the end of the season. Perhaps he is worried the Sox will not make a great effort to re-sign him and will instead offer arbitration to Wagner for considerably less. Again that assumes Wagner pitches with any kind of effectiveness. But even if Wagner is fabulous in August and September, I think the Red Sox would be crazy to let a 28-year-old closer walk in order to keep a 38-year-old closer who might have one or two good seasons left. On the other hand, perhaps the Red Sox have acquired Wagner in part to light a fire under Papelbon during the stretch drive. If that was one of Theo Epstein's motivations in getting Wagner it's working.

Federal Deficit to Hit $1.6 Trillion

According to the Obama Administration and the Congressional Budget Office, the federal deficit is expected to hit $1.6 trillion this year.

Another $9 trillion will have to be borrowed to finance the deficit. Consequently, the national debt will be an estimated $23 trillion by the end of 2019.

In fairness, President Bush bears some responsibility for this state of affairs. The Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have played no small part in the rise of our deficit despite their necessity. But let us also remember that President Bush presided over the biggest expansion of government seen since LBJ even if we are to exclude defense spending. Lest we forget the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit which is estimated to cost over $1 trillion over the next decade. This is more than twice its original expected cost. Let's also not forget the $700 billion bailout put forward by President Bush last fall.

Yet this is accelerating under President Obama's watch. It is curious that these numbers are being announced as President Obama is playing golf in Martha's Vineyard. Needless to say it will tee off a lot of people. It doesn't make for very good politics. As sure as the sun rises in the east, if President Bush were on the links as these sort of numbers were being released then Obama would have pounced on him no sooner than the ink had dried.

In fact, do you remember the "fiscal responsibility" summit at the White House last February? President Obama blasted the "casual dishonesty" of the federal budget during the Bush Administration. He said, "We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences to the next budget, the next administration and the next generation.” Yet this is precisely what is happening under President Obama's watch.

Having written all that I will say that I harbor no illusions that the size of the federal government will ever be reduced. It didn't happen with Reagan. It didn't happen with either Bush and it sure as hell isn't going to happen now and we are all to blame to some degree. As long as there are unlimited wants and politicians (Democrat and Republican alike) who are in favor of re-election the size of the federal government will never be reduced. At best, one can perhaps slow the growth of federal spending but one can never reduce it in absolute terms. There is no such thing as small government in a land of 300 million people. Perhaps we get the government we deserve.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to see how President Obama can justify Obamacare under the current circumstances. Yet I'm sure that won't stop him.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Holder Appoints Special Prosecutor to Probe Alleged CIA Prisoner Abuse

Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed federal prosecutor John Durham to look into the legality of interrogation techniques used by the CIA against terror suspects overseas during the Bush Administration.

This is a big mistake.

The Obama Administration can insist all it wants that it will "look forward and not backward." It is a completely disingenuous statement as this is nothing more than a political exercise masquerading as a judicial inquiry intended to discredit the Bush Administration.

This announcement serves only to placate Obama supporters who want Bush and Cheney's heads on a stick as well as the to appease the Muslim world. In so doing this announcement will also cause morale to sink not only within the CIA but in the U.S. military. The Obama Administration is making it crystal clear that combatting terrorism committed in the name of Islamic fundamentalism is not a priority.

Policy decisions like this make me wonder who the Obama Administration views as a greater enemy to America. The Bush Administration or al-Qaeda?

Or ask yourself this question. Is placating Obama supporters and appeasing the Muslim world really worth the price of our national security?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sweden's Shame

Several days ago, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet published an article accusing Israeli Defense Forces of harvesting the organs of Palestinians.

While Borsin Bonnier, Sweden's Ambassador to Israel, condemned the article Sweden's government has refused to condemn the article citing free speech. But it goes far beyond free speech. When Borsin Bonnier, Sweden's Ambassador to Israel, condemned the article the Swedish government let the Ambassador hung out to dry claiming her remarks were "designed for an Israeli audience." Members of the Swedish opposition have called for Bonnier's removal adding that she should be "taught the basics of freedom of speech."

Yet Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs, pointed out to an audience in Norway during the Mohammed cartoon row the Swedish government sent a letter of protest to Denmark. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called upon the Swedish government to condemn the article.

Anti-Semitism has become far more overt in Sweden as it has across Europe in recent years. Like everywhere else in Europe, Sweden's Muslim population has grown by leaps and bounds and the Swedish authorities are afraid of offending them as you can read here and here. Last February, local authorities in Malmo barred spectators from a Davis Cup tournament match between Sweden and Israel for fear of anti-Israel protests. The International Tennis Federation was not amused and has banned Malmo from hosting any Davis Cup events for the next five years.

Curiously, Donald Bostrom says he has "no clue" if the claims made against the IDF are true.

Well, the IDF didn't massacre 500 Palestinian civilians at Jenin.

Nor did the IDF shoot Mohammed al-Dura.

Yet these claims are believed because people who hate Jews and/or Israel want to believe them.

Vicki Cruse, 1969-2009. R.I.P.

Vicki Cruse, a champion aerobatic pilot, was killed yesterday during a training flight in preparation for the World Aerobatic Championships being held at the Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire, England. She was 40.

I am in the midst of re-reading Susan Butler's East to the Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart. While Earhart is best known for flying solo across the Atlantic and her ill-fated attempt to circumnavigate the globe, she was also an accomplished aerobatic pilot and competed in the sort of airshows Cruse did. Only back then they were generally called "air rodeos." When participating in these shows in the early 1920s while based in Los Angeles, Earhart would largely ascended to high altitudes but also could perform stunts such as barrel rolls, loops and tailspins. Later in her career she participated in long distance aviation races.

Accidents were a common occurrence in the 1920s and Earhart "ditched" more than her share of aircraft. She never sustained any serious injuries. However, some of her fellow colleagues weren't so lucky, both male and female. Given the hazards involved with flying it was thought that commercial airplanes would never be a viable business.

Of course, airplanes became much safer and commercial flight became a viable business venture notwithstanding the current state of the airlines. Yet the inherent risk in flying is always there whether aboard a private, commercial, military or sport aircraft. Even the most experienced of pilots can make a mistake or have their equipment abruptly fail.

According to a witness at the airshow, "She flew straight up in the air and then straight back down again. But she dropped straight into the ground....There was no way anyone was getting out of the wreckage."

Cruse won the U.S. National Aerobatic Title in 2007 and was President of the International Aerobatics Club at the time of her death.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Obama is Wee-Weed at Obamacare Critics

In his weekly radio & internet address, President Obama is wee-weed at those who disagree with Obamacare.

Obama called for "an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentation and outright distortions."

In other words, those who disagree with Obama are "bearing false witness."

I don't think this serves the President well. Questioning the sincerity of others simply because they have the temerity to think on their own is most unwise. For instance:

As every credible person who has looked into it has said, there are no so-called death panels, an offensive notion to me and the American people. These are phony claims meant to divide us.

So all of a sudden Camille Paglia isn't a credible person anymore? Or Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute? Paglia and Cannon don't think these claims are phony. Given that amount of discord that Obamacare has generated it is clear the President doesn't speak for all the people all of the time and he should not pretend otherwise.

If President Obama genuinely wants to improve our health care system then he needs to explain how Obamacare will improve upon the existing system instead of questioning the honesty and integrity of those who have raised legitimate objections.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Larry Knechtel, 1940-2009. R.I.P.

Most people have never heard of Larry Knechtel.

But you've almost certainly heard his music.

If you're familiar with Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" you will know the song's fabulous piano part especially the intro which served as the foundation as one of the greatest rock n' roll songs ever recorded. It was Knechtel who played the piano on that recording back in 1970. He died yesterday at the age of 69. The cause of death has not been released.

Primarily a studio musician, Knechtel worked with acts such as Elvis Presley, Duane Eddy, The Beach Boys, The Doors, The Fifth Dimension, Elvis Costello, Johnny Rivers, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Kenny Rankin and Hank Williams, Jr. In more recent years, Knetchel played keyboards with the Dixie Chicks (O.K., they can't all be good.)

Knechtel was also a member of the '70s soft rock group Bread. His best known contribution was the guitar solo in - what else? - "Guitar Man." Here's a clip of Bread playing this song live back in the early 70s. Knechtel is wearing the striped shirt.

When listening to our favorite songs it is easy to get lost in the music and overlook those who made the beauty possible. Our lives would have no soundtrack without the likes of Larry Knechtel.

Thoughts on President Obama's Remarks on Ramadan

President Obama made some videotaped remarks concerning the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which begins today.

I was struck by this particular passage:

Ramadan is a time of intense devotion and reflection. A time when Muslims fast during the day and perform Taraweeh prayers at night, reciting and listening to the entire Koran over the course of the month. These rituals remind us of the principles we hold in common and Islam's role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

President Obama's statement is ironic in light of the case of Rifka Bary. She is a 17-year-old Muslim girl who ran away from home in Ohio and made her way to Florida where she converted to Christianity. Unlike Christianity and Judaism, those raised in Islam are not free to convert. If a Muslim converts to another religion he or she is considered an apostate and the sanction is punishment by death.

Naturally, Rifka fears for her life if she is compelled to return to Ohio. In an interview with an Orlando TV station she said:

If I had stayed in Ohio, I wouldn't be alive. In 150 generations in family, no one has known Jesus. I am the first — imagine the honor in killing me. There is great honor in that, because if they love Allah more than me, they have to do it. It's in the Koran.

Thankfully, a judge has granted Rifka a temporary reprieve and she will be allowed to remain in foster care until a hearing which has been scheduled for September 3rd.

Can President Obama tell us how killing people who choose to convert from Islam advances justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings?

Does President Obama think Rifka should be returned to her parents?

Mike Rizzo is The Happiest Man in Washington

Yesterday, the Washington Nationals officially named Mike Rizzo as their general manager.

Rizzo had been named the Nats interim general manager last March after the resignation of Jim Bowden.

Seventy-two hours before Rizzo's elevation, he signed pitcher Stephen Strasburg to a four-year, $15.1 million contract. Strasburg was the number one pick in the 2009 MLB Draft last June. The 21-year-old righthander pitched at San Diego State and was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Baseball team at the Beijing games. Strasburg, whose fastball has been clocked at over 100 MPH, is being hailed as the savior of the Nationals franchise. Needless to say, Rizzo is now the happiest man in Washington.

Put it this way. If Rizzo hadn't signed Strasburg I believe his title would have been former interim general manager.

BTW, the Nats are 17-17 since Jim Riggleman took over the managerial reins of the club on July 12th thus making Riggleman. They have 43 wins this season which means they have exactly one more win than the notorious 1962 New York Mets. If the Nats play .500 ball the rest of the way they will lose fewer than 100 games thus making Riggleman the second happiest man in Washington. In which case, I think Rizzo should keep Riggleman on as their skipper next season even if he does have an unhealthy obsession with the five man infield.

Remdawg Returns

Jerry Remy will be returning to the Boston Red Sox broadcast booth tonight and not a moment too soon. The Red Sox open a crucial three game series at Fenway Park with the New York Yankees.

Remy was diagnosed with lung cancer in the offseason and required surgery. He was well enough to begin the 2009 season in his spot in the NESN broadcast booth where he has broadcast Red Sox games since 1988. But an infection and pneumonia forced him to take an indefinite leave of absence at the end of April.

Remdawg (as he is affectionately known in Red Sox Nation) made a brief return to Fenway Park on August 12th and disclosed it was primarily depression rather than pneumonia or post-surgery infections that kept him away for so many months. Known for his gregarious and humorous nature this revelation took many people by surprise but his candor has won him praise.

During Remy's absence scores of former big league players turned color commentators worked alongside Don Orsillo including Dennis Eckersley, Dave Roberts, Jim Kaat, Buck Martinez, Frank Viola, Sean Casey and Rance Mulliniks.

Remy, who also played in the majors with the Red Sox and the California Angels for ten seasons, will resume his duties on a part-time basis. Presumably he'll largely be confined to broadcasting home games. Any road games he might undertake would most likely be restricted to AL East cities. In whatever capacity he works his presence will be warmly received.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Listen to Tim Buckley's New CD

Regular readers of my column might recall a piece I wrote about the late Tim Buckley a couple of years ago. I wrote the piece in response to a DVD release of his live performances on American, British and Dutch television titled My Fleeting House.

Well, next Tuesday (August 25th to be exact) Tompkins Square Records will release a CD titled Tim Buckley: Live at the Folklore Center, NYC - March 6, 1967. The Folklore Center was situated in Greenwich Village. Owned by Izzy Young, the Folklore Center was a veritable who's who of folk music artifacts. Not surprisingly, folk musicians would frequent this establishment including Bob Dylan.

When Buckley played in front of a small audience of 35 people late that winter he was all of 20 years old. But he already had his debut album, the self-titled Tim Buckley, under his belt which had been released by Elektra Records the previous year. Three months later, Elektra would release his second album Goodbye & Hello which as it turned out would be his best selling record.

Although the CD won't officially be released for several more days you can listen to the album in its entirety on NPR. (So government subsidized radio isn't totally useless.) I've listened to ten of the sixteen songs Buckley played at this gig. He plays several songs from his debut album (i.e. "Song for Jainie", "Wings") and from Goodbye & Hello (i.e. "Carnival Song", "No Man Can Find The War" - the obligatory anti-Vietnam war song.) But there are also six songs he performs that would never appear on any of Buckley's studio albums nor have they been heard in any of his other recorded live performances (i.e. "In The Rain Comes", "Country Boy".)

If none of these six songs ever saw the light of day again I wonder how many of them he co-wrote with Larry Beckett? Beckett, who is now a poet based in Portland, Oregon, was Buckley's high school friend in Anaheim. Buckley and Beckett were one half of the folk quartet The Bohemians along with Jim Fielder (who later played bass with Blood, Sweat & Tears) and Dan Gordon (who later became a screenwriter and wrote the screenplay for The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington.) The Bohemians recorded a demo for Elektra but the label was interested only in Buckley.

Nevertheless, Beckett became Buckley's writing partner for the first two albums. But by 1968 Beckett had gone into the Army and Buckley moved away from folk music and began experimenting with jazz and avante-garde music. He would also begin writing songs on his own and would not collaborate with Beckett again until his 1970 album Starsailor. Those six songs most likely didn't fit with Buckley's new musical direction and they were never heard of again until now. What is old is new again.

American Liberty Tour kicks off in 3 weeks

Friends in the Freedom Movement,

We're in our final planning stages for the upcoming American Liberty Tour and we're excited to be able to start sending you details as they become available.

For those who don't already know, the American Liberty Tour sends our crew from coast to coast, starting in Sacramento California and ending in Atlanta Georgia.

In each scheduled stop (17 cities), we'll be hosting activist training, movement leadership training, blogger meet-ups, townhall events and liberty rallies.

These are events that you do not want to miss!

Follow details and crew blogs at

RSVP for a liberty rally here.

Register for the activist/movement training here.

We'll see you out on the road!

For Liberty,
-Eric Odom

White House stalking fishy twitterers

Check out

Journalists, editors eligible for $5,000 scholarships for college religion courses

(Columbus, Ohio) — Religion Newswriters invites all working journalists, regardless of beat, to apply to its Lilly Scholarships in Religion program. The scholarships give full-time journalists up to $5,000 to cover the cost of taking college religion courses.

With religion in the headlines more than ever, now is the perfect time to dig deeper into today’s hottest religion stories. More than 100 people have already taken advantage of Religion Newswriters’ Lilly Scholarships in Religion Program for Journalists.

Some of the timely topics they’ve studied include: God & Politics, Culture of the Contemporary Arab World, Islamic Movements, Understanding Japanese Religions, Science & Religion and Evangelism.

“The coursework [Islam and Gender] allowed me to get an insight into Islam-related topics I may never have been able to as a reporter,” said Jaweed Kaleem of The Miami Herald.

The scholarships can be used at any accredited college, university, seminary or similar institution. Journalists can take any course they choose as long as it is in the field of religion. Scholarships cover tuition, books, registration fees, parking and other costs. Online and travel courses are also included (as long as travel costs are a part of the curriculum).

All full-time journalists—including reporters, editors, designers, copy editors, editorial writers, news directors, researchers and producers—are eligible, regardless of whether or not they cover religion.

The last scholarship application deadline for this year is Oct. 1.

Scholarships must be used within three academic quarters of their award date. Only full-time journalists working in the general circulation news media are eligible.

Religion Newswriters Association is the world’s only journalism association for people who write about religion in the mainstream news media. The scholarships are offered through its non-profit arm, the Religion Newswriters Foundation, with funding from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Complete information about the Lilly Scholarships in Religion program is available at For questions, contact Amy Schiska at 614-891-9001 ext. 3#, or

Religion Newswriters offers training and tools to help journalists cover religion with balance, accuracy and insight. Visit to learn more about our annual conference Sept. 10–12 in Minneapolis, with Rep. Keith Ellison D-Minn. as our keynote speaker and our pre-conference program on health and spirituality.

Scotland Releases Lockerbie Bomber

The Scottish government has released Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi on "compassionate grounds."

Convicted for killing 270 people aboard Pan Am Flight 103 as well as on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988, al-Megrahi has terminal prostate cancer and is expected to die within the next three months.

I say then let nature take its course. The Scots are showing far more compassion to al-Megrahi than al-Megrahi showed to those 270 people. If this atrocity doesn't warrant a life sentence then nothing does.

To its credit, the Obama Administration has publicly expressed its dismay with al-Megrahi's release. Of the 270 people killed that day, 180 were American.

In analyzing al-Megrahi's release the BBC asks:

Why is there so much anger in the US?

Many US relatives of those who died are convinced of Megrahi's guilt.

Well, so are the Scottish judges who convicted him in 2001.

Yes, there are those who think he is innocent. It is quite possible he did not act alone but that does not mean he did not participate. It doesn't nullify his culpability. Besides if al-Megrahi's was truly innocent he would not have dropped his appeal.

It is expected that al-Megrahi will go back to his native Libya to live out his final days where he will be lauded as a hero. Meanwhile, the Scottish government has just spit in the graves of 270 people. Absolutely shameful.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Smoltz Signs With St. Louis

Only 48 hours after formally being released by the Boston Red Sox, future Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz has signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.

At the moment it is not clear whether Smoltz will be used as a starter or a reliever. I'm inclined to think he'll be given a chance to be the Cards number five starter. Todd Wellemeyer was demoted to the bullpen earlier this month but Mitchell Boggs has been ineffective in his place.

During his brief tenure with the Red Sox, Smoltz started eight games and went 2-5 with an atrocious 8.33 ERA. Smoltz joined the Red Sox in the off season after having pitched for the Atlanta Braves for 20 seasons.

The Cardinals currently enjoy a six game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Thus Smoltz doesn't have to be Cy Young out there.

Then again perhaps some of Julio Lugo's good fortune will rub off onto Smoltz. The much maligned Lugo was released by the Red Sox last month and was picked up by the Cards five days later. In 21 games with the Redbirds, Lugo is hitting .343.

As an aside, Lugo was my roommate Christopher's favorite Red Sox player. When the Sox let him go, Christopher became a devotee of Smoltz. At this rate, he might soon become a Cardinals fan.

Don Hewitt, 1922-2009. R.I.P.

Don Hewitt, the creator and longtime executive producer of 60 Minutes, died today of pancreatic cancer. He was 86.

We often hear about how a certain individual or program changed the face of television yet it is seldom true. However, such a claim is justified when it comes to Don Hewitt and 60 Minutes. Hewitt once described the show as "Life Magazine on the air." Hewitt created an ornament to both television and to journalism. Whether the subject was the Ayatollah Khomenei, Lena Horne or some con artist the program had your undivided attention. I have watched 60 Minutes for as long as I can remember and cannot conceive of a Sunday evening without it (except for Super Bowl Sunday, of course.)

Hewitt retired as executive producer of 60 Minutes in June 2004 ending a 36-year association with the program. Towards the end of his tenure the program became far more overtly left-wing (i.e. Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill.) Not that it didn't have a liberal bias but it used to be subtle. But in response to the Bush Administration, that liberal bias is now worn on its sleeve under the direction of of new executive producer Jeff Fagen and can be seen in its overt affection for President Obama.

Nevertheless, 60 Minutes place in both television and journalism is ensconced and this would not have been possible without the innovative spirit of Don Hewitt.

Barack or Britney?

Last night, a bikini clad Britney Spears recited the Top 10 list on The Late Show With David Letterman.

To be precise, the list was the Top Ten Ways The Country Would Be Different If Britney Spears Were President.

The most interesting item on the Top 10 was number four: America might have a more coherent fiscal strategy.

Then again almost anybody would have a more coherent fiscal strategy than President Obama.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favre Comes Out of Retirement - Again!!!

Brett Favre is coming out of retirement - again!!!

Many people are not pleased about it and some want him to fail as much as Rush Limbaugh wants President Obama to fail.

After all, he retired in March 2008 after 16 seasons with the Packers only to change his mind three months later. At this point, the Packers were committed to Aaron Rodgers as their new QB so they didn't want him back with the club. A month later he was traded to the New York Jets. Although the Jets won 8 of their first 11 games they would lose four of their last five games and would miss the NFL post-season. Last February, following the Superbowl, Favre announced his retirement for the second time in less than a year.

But by June, Favre said he wanted to play with the Vikings. Yet last month he told them he was staying retired. Three weeks later, he is now a Minnesota Viking.

I mean even John Kerry would tell Favre to stop flip-flopping.

Now just because people might tire of Favre doesn't mean they won't watch him. That as much as any other reason maybe why the 39-year-old Favre can't walk away for good.

The Vikings play the Green Bay Packers twice during the 2009 NFL season. They meet first in Minnesota on October 5th for the Monday night game and then they meet again on November 1st in Green Bay. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception he gets when he is wearing a Vikings uniform at Lambeau Field and I suspect there will be a lot of TV viewers eager to find out the answer to that question.

Pudge Rodriguez Returns to Rangers

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez has come full circle. The Texas Rangers traded two minor leaguers to the Houston Astros in exchange for the player who is arguably the greatest catcher to wear the tools of ignorance.

Pudge played with the Rangers from 1991 through 2002 with an AL MVP to his credit in 1999. He also won ten consecutive Gold Gloves for his defensive work behind the plate. The Rangers went to the post-season in 1996, 1998 and 1999 although they could never get past the New York Yankees in the ALDS.

I-Rod signed with the Florida Marlins as a free agent before the 2003 season and would earn his first World Series ring. He would sign a four year, $40 million contract with the Detroit Tigers in 2004 and would return to the World Series with the Tigers in 2006. Pudge won three more Gold Gloves in a Tigers uniform.

Although the Tigers picked up his option in 2008 he would be traded to the New York Yankees midway through the season for relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth. Pudge did not fit in well with the Yankees and could not fill the void left by the injured Jorge Posada. But I-Rod would play for Puerto Rico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic before signing a one-year contract with the Houston Astros. In 93 games with the Astros, Pudge was hitting .251 with 8 homeruns and 34 RBI.

Pudge's return to the Rangers is quite interesting. First, this past weekend, the Rangers overtook the Boston Red Sox for the AL Wild Card spot and currently have a one game lead over the Sox. Second, the Rangers number one catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (try saying that fast five times) was put on the 15-day disabled list with a bad shoulder. This leaves 25-year-old Taylor Teagarden as the number one catcher in a pennant race. The presence of Pudge will be one of a mentor to Teagarden as well as to the Rangers young pitching staff. Somehow I think this midseason trade will work better for Pudge this year than the one that sent him to the Yankees last year. And if it does work out for Pudge it will most likely be at the expense of the Red Sox.

Robert Novak, 1931-2009. R.I.P.

Robert Novak, who had a syndicated column for more than 45 years, died today of brain cancer. He was 78.

Novak was diagnosed with the disease in August 2008 and promptly discontinued his column and other journalistic activities. However, Novak would resume writing only three weeks later. He discontinued his column for good this past February. He also ended the bi-weekly Evans/Novak Report which he had started in 1967 with his longtime partner Rowland Evans.

Novak, along with Evans, came to CNN in 1980 and appeared on many of its programs including Crossfire, Capitol Gang and Inside Politics. He left the network in 2005 after uttering an expletive during a live broadcast of Inside Politics while debating James Carville. Novak would join the Fox News Channel the following year.

I won't dwell on it at length but his anti-Israeli slant bothered me deeply. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch criticized Novak for, amongst other things, referring to Hamas as freedom fighters. Novak was part of a small cadre of conservatives who believed the U.S. was going to war in Iraq for Israel.

Given his opposition to the War in Iraq, it is ironic that Novak later became a target of the Left when he leaked Valerie Plame's name in his infamous July 2003 column in The Washington Post. This came only days after her husband Joe Wilson had written an op-ed in The New York Times stating Saddam Hussein hadn't purchased uranium yellowcake in Niger. Indeed, Novak was never in sights of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. It is also worth noting that the man who did leak Plame's name, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, wasn't such a huge fan of the War in Iraq either. In retrospect it all seems much ado about nothing.

Novak leaves an enduring legacy in American print and broadcast journalism particularly in showing the way how conservatives can carve out a niche in an overwhelmingly liberal media.

Rose Friedman, 1911-2009. R.I.P.

Rose Friedman, the widow of Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, died yesterday. She was 97.

Friedman was an economist in her own right. When her husband was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 by President Bush said the former Rose Director was "the only person known to have ever won an argument with Milton." She would co-author many articles and books with her husband and is best known for the 1980 PBS series and companion book Free to Choose. I read the book several years ago and it is the most straightforward book on economics I have ever read. The best part of Free to Chosse is the section on school vouchers, an issue both Friedmans remained passionate about for the rest of their lives.

She was married to the Nobel Laureate for 68 years until his death in November 2006.

African American Man Carries Assault Rifle to Obama Protest in Phoenix

I saw part of this when it aired on the CNN Newsroom with Rick Sanchez yesterday.

President Obama was speaking before the VFW yesterday in Phoenix and protesters were gathered outside. One of protesters was carrying an assault rifle which is legal in Arizona. The person happened to be an African-American male who refused to give his name but said he was exercising his Second Amendment rights. Sanchez briefly acknowledged the man's race.

Now, if that man had been white every network would have been carrying that image not just CNN. The man would have been portrayed as an angry white male who objects to having an African-American President. The Janeane Garofalos and the Chris Matthews of the world would have been foaming at the mouth. But the fact it was an African-American man carrying the assault rifle disrupts that narrative.

Now heaven forbid that anyone should make an attempt on President Obama's life. But imagine if the would be assassin were African-American? Of course, the liberal media would investigate any conservative leanings. But what if the would be assassin were African-American and thought Obama was insufficiently left-wing and had betrayed his principles? Then the liberal media would do its best to minimize that person's race and political background and say such things are irrelevant and instead focus their attention on passing more gun laws and weakening the Second Amendment. Needless to say, I hope such an incident never comes to pass.

At least in this instance, it appears this African-American man was engaging in protest and nothing more. Yet Sanchez does raise a legitimate issue. If I were in the Secret Service and it was my job to protect President Obama I would be very, very concerned about people carrying assault rifles regardless of who might be carrying them.

The Joker is on the Liberal Media

Remember those posters of President Obama's face painted as The Joker from The Dark Knight? You know the one with the caption that read, "SOCIALISM" in large, foreboding letters.

You might also remember how many in the liberal media argued the poster was racist such as Philip Kennicott of The Washington Post:

Obama, like the Joker and like the racial stereotype of the black man, carries within him an unknowable, volatile and dangerous marker of urban violence, which could erupt at any time. The charge of socialism is secondary to the basic message that Obama can't be trusted, not because he is a politician, but because he's black.

Well, as it turns out, the man behind the Joker poster is a 20-year-old student at the University of Illinois named Firas Alkhateeb. Alkhateeb, who is of Palestinian descent, did not vote for Obama but does like Dennis Kucinich. Somehow I don't think Alkhateeb was trying to tell people that Obama can't be trusted because he's black. So why did he make the poster? Because he was bored during his winter break.

As usual, when it comes to criticism of Obama, the liberal media reads things that aren't there.

So the joke - or in this case The Joker - is on the liberal media.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is The Obama Inauguration The New Woodstock?

Tonight, I watched a documentary called Woodstock: Now and Then which aired on The History Channel. It was directed and produced by documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple (who is best known for her 1976 documentary Harlan County U.S.A.)

The executive producer was Woodstock organizer Michael Lang. Last month, I saw Lang give a talk about his book The Road to Woodstock. It was during this public appearance where I had the opportunity to ask Lang about Max Yasgur and his comments appeared in my column about Yasgur.

Most of the film was stuff familiar to me (i.e. the musicians, the songs, the organizers, the logistical difficulties, etc.) But there were some nice touches. Attendees were given a chance to talk about their experiences at Woodstock including Nick and Bobbi Ercoline. If their names aren't familiar their images should be. They are the couple who are lock in an embraced covered by a pink blanket on the Woodstock album cover. The Ercolines were married in 1971 and are still together. So there is certainly something to be said for that.

Towards the end of the film there is an attempt to link Woodstock with the inauguration of President Obama. I can't say I'm totally surprised at the linkage. Lang alluded to it briefly during his talk last month although he didn't dwell on it at length. However, he does elaborate further in an interview he did with The History Channel:

I think that when Woodstock came along it was like suddenly this amazing moment of hope, where this tremendously large group of people got together and had this amazingly peaceful experience and became this community that set an example for everybody. It really demonstrated in a practical way that there was a better way for us to live together. I think that's why it was remembered so much. It was this moment of hope in a very dark time. I like to compare it to [President Barack] Obama's inauguration, which came also at a pretty dark time for America and the world. We had gotten to a place where we were kind of headed over a cliff, and we're heading for another four years of that and suddenly—I think this is one of the best qualities that Americans have is to realize something and change the direction to do the right thing. The inauguration felt like another moment of hope in a very desperate time. The spirit of the crowd in the inauguration in 20-degree weather was just a sense of joy and hope that was phenomenal.

This sentiment was echoed in the film by New York Times columnist Gail Collins who, in fact, wrote a column about Obama's inauguration titled, "Woodstock Without The Mud." However, Collins made a point of stating there was an important difference:

The big difference was in the national reaction. The only people who felt unified during Woodstock were those who were there — everybody else was horrified or jealous. But the inauguration left the whole country glued together emotionally, one big American ball of hope.

I don't doubt Obama's inauguration meant something to people especially African-Americans whose grandparents and, in some cases, parents could not vote. But I don't think Obama's inauguration represented "one big American ball of hope" nor do I think "we had gotten to a place where we were headed over a cliff" before the election of Obama magically "saved" us.

That ball of hope certainly isn't there now especially with the Obamacare debacle and continuing economic uncertainty. That doesn't, of course, guarantee he's a one term President. But whether one can properly compare three days of fun and music to four years of Obama remains to be seen. His legacy isn't about getting to the White House. It's about what he does once he's inside. At this point, the jury is still out on him while the verdict came in on Woodstock once the festival had concluded. By the time the 2012 elections come about America might not be in such a festive mood when it comes to President Obama.

DeLay Named to Cast of Dancing With The Stars

I have never watched Dancing With The Stars.

But I did a double take when I saw that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had been named to the Season 9 cast for the ABC reality show.

Now, DeLay isn't the first conservative to be included on the show. I recall when Tucker Carlson was part of the DWTS cast back in 2006 but he didn't last too long.

In fact, DeLay isn't the only conservative on this year's cast. Model turned entrepreneur Kathy Ireland was also named to this year's cast. Ireland is a pro-life activist. So I guess they can talk to each other if other cast members are less receptive.

Others members of the DWTS cast include singer Donny Osmond, NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, UFC combatant Chuck Liddell and actress Melissa Joan Hart of Sabrina The Teenage Witch fame.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

No Name Change for NDP

The NDP, my old political party, had its convention in Halifax, Nova Scotia this weekend.

Nobody would have particularly cared about that except for the fact that a) two members of President Obama's campaign team (Betsy Myers and Marshall Ganz) addressed the delegates and b) there was a resolution on the floor moving the party change its name.

Well, actually there were several resolutions to that effect. Mainly, there was a call to drop the New and be known as the Democratic Party. As much as NDPers love President Obama calling themselves the Democratic Party would be just too American. It would have been, well, gauche.

Whether they call themselves the NDP or any other name it is socialism just the same.

The top new media people on the right, or "Websters"

Ralph Benko, author of "The Websters' Dictionary," a guide to using new media for conservative or populist activism, has created a list of the top people on the right using new media. Currently contains 79 Websters listed in alphabetical order.

AFP's pics from the first day of the Right Online conference

AFP's Tim Phillips

AFP's Erik Telford, the second worst person in the world

Click here for all the pictures

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Best new movie out exposing the global warming fraud: Not Evil, Just Wrong

Maybe Professor Gates Could Learn From Bob Dylan

With all the hoopla that surrounded the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. last month perhaps he could learn something from music legend Bob Dylan.

Only 11 days after Gates arrest, Dylan found himself being questioned by authorities while in Long Branch, New Jersey. Dylan was taking a walk in Long Branch, evidently searching for a house where Bruce Springsteen once lived. When he wandered onto a lawn with a For Sale sign, the occupants became uneasy and contacted the police about an "eccentric looking old man."

You might recall the Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department was chided for failing to recognize the eminent Professor Gates. Well, it seems that Long Branch police officer Kristie Buble didn't recognize the internationally famous musician either. While Dylan identified himself to her he did not have identification to verify her request. So she asked him to step into her police cruiser.

Instead of bellowing "this is what happens to eccentric looking old men in America"; Dylan complied with Officer Buble's request. As Buble herself commented, "He was really nice, though, and he said he understood why I had to verify his identity and why I couldn't let him go." Of course, Dylan knew all along the answer would be blowin' in the wind. Professor Gates, on the other hand, couldn't see that times they are a changin'.

Pics from crashing the Netroots convention party

My friend Ralph Benko wrote a book on how to successfully use the new media for political activism, called The Webster's Dictionary, where he explains's methods. The Moveon gang was appreciative of his book, and he has remained on good terms with them. Ralph likes to point out that even though they're progressives, they're populists, and populists on the left and the right have values in common, even though they disagree on the means. He calls us "mortal frenemies."

While in Pittsburgh for the
Right Online conference this weekend, Ralph was invited by Moveon's Ilyse to their party at the Daily Kos Netroots convention. It was held outside in a yard next to the Andy Warhol museum to commemorate a new painting by Shepard Fairey, famous for his "Hope" picture of Obama done in faded red and black coloring and widely parodied by the right. Contrary to what I was expecting, I could detect no odor of marijuana and the party was relatively tame. There were very few older folks, most of the attendees were in their 20's and leaned more "geeky" than "hippy." But the contrast with the RightOnline convention was still there; you could get away with wearing a suit to a party at the RightOnline convention, but probably not to a Netroots party.

Two of's top players - Ilyse Hogue, Campaign Director (right) with Laura Dawn, Cultural Director

Ralph and Ilyse. Ralph actually looked more liberal than most of the attendees.

One of our peeps from Right Online, Elizabeth Terrell, who was handing out flyers outside for a screening of a movie exposing the global warming hype, "Not Evil Just Wrong"

These party attendees politely listen to her spiel

We asked this guy to give a shocked look when he read the flyer she was handing out

Note the upside down elephant on this guy's t-shirt

Doesn't he look suspiciously like Erik Telford, his counterpart on the right, who has been called the 2nd worst person in the world?

His reaction when he found out I was from the Right Online convention

With Shepard Farley. He was a really decent guy, and you have to admit he is talented.

I admit I like his artwork so much I used it on a photo of mine, even before I met him.

Ralph & Shepard

This guy on the left was great, he kept popping into my pictures. Turns out we actually had ONE thing in common, we're both deputy prosecutors. That was about it. He prosecutes gun crimes, which somehow did not surprise me.

Ilyse was the speaker and referenced the fact that this was the better convention in town, not Right Online. Shepard DJ'd for a good part of the night.

The best part of the evening came when Ralph approached a guy wearing a hat with donkeys on it who was promoting living on communes. Ralph asked him if the effort involved getting people organized, and the guy said yes. Ralph said that is where we differ, because we're from the Surrealist Party and we promote disorganization. Look where organization has gotten us. Too much power corrupts. The guy took it all in stride and we walked off.

The second best exchange of the night was when a guy walked up to us and said "You're evil." Ralph responded, "Yes I'm evil but your parties are better than those on the right." Think we won him over with flattery.

As nice as everyone was, I decided not to tell them I was the Right Online recipient of the Activist of the Year Award. I also decided it probably wasn't a good idea to dress up as Sarah Palin for the party, as much fun as it was dressing up as her for Halloween.