Friday, December 31, 2010

Hate Crimes Against Jews in U.S. on the Rise

Please check out this post at the AmSpec Blog.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Rosie the Riveter", 1924-2010 R.I.P.

Geraldine Hoff Doyle, a.k.a. "Rosie the Riveter", passed away on Sunday. She was 86.

The famed image of Doyle's flexed muscle would become a call to arms for women to enter the workforce during the Second World War to help manufacture munitions, aircraft, boats, jeeps and other goods. It would later serve as an inspiration to future generations seeking equality for women.

Ironicially, Doyle herself was unaware of the poster until 1984.

Only a couple of days before her passing, plans were announced to build a visitors center at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park which opened in Richmond, California in 2003. The visitors center could open as early as the fall of 2011.

While there were battles to be won in Europe and in the Pacific these battles could not have been won without help from "Rosie the Riveter" and millions of other women here on the homefront. Their efforts were indispensable to the war effort.

Killebrew Has Cancer

By on 12.30.10 @ 11:22AM
Baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew has announced he is battling esophageal cancer and is undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

The 74-year-old Killebrew stated it is "perhaps the most difficult battle of my life" but is optimistic he can make a full recovery.

Killebrew spent nearly his entire twenty-two year big league career in the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins organization. Nicknamed "Killer", he hit 40 or more homeruns in eight different seasons and six times led the American League in homeruns. Killebrew also led the AL in RBIs thrice and in OBP four times. His only World Series appearance came in 1965 when the Twins came up just short against Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Killebrew's best season came in 1969 when he won the AL MVP. That season, Killebrew hit .276 with 49 homeruns, 140 RBI and drew 145 walks (good for a .427 OBP) for the AL West Division champion Twins. He was named to 11 AL All-Star teams and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

Here's hoping Killebrew knocks his cancer out of the park.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Village Voice Includes Me in "Ten Best Rightblogger Rants of 2010"

It seems that The Village Voice has some fellow named Roy Edroso who monitors the conservative blogosphere for impure thoughts.

I know this because I have made his list of "The 10 Best Rightblogger Rants of 2010." Yeah, yeah, I'm only tenth on the list. But hey, I made the team.

So what exactly did I do to make the cut? Was it my defense of Arizona's immigration law? Is it because I believe The Tea Party isn't racist? Or perhaps because I'm not a fan of the Ground Zero Mosque?

But alas none of these things qualified me for a spot on Edroso's list. However, my commentary on the 2010 World Series between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants did.

"You'd think people who are always bitching about Political Correctness would know enough to leave politics out of sports. Alas, not even the October Classic is safe from their ministrations," harrumphed Edroso. He goes on to write, "You can guess which Goldstein considered a suitable home for America's team."

Apparently, Edroso did not read my article from start to finish. For his edification, here is the concluding paragraph:

I really don't have a dog in this fight. There are no Yankees to root against. So I'm happy if either team wins. The Rangers have never won a World Series and the Giants haven't won since 1954 when they were still playing at the Polo Grounds. Rangers and Giants fans might not agree on much. But I think they can both agree that it is fun to watch their teams play in the World Series.

Not that I mind being Edroso's list (even if I'm at the bottom of it). Where's the fun if I can't annoy liberals, socialists, communists and other assorted left-wing travelers?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Over at The AmSpec Blog, Philip Klein is absolutely right when he says the GOP caved on START.

What is particularly egregious about their capitulation is that it came right after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the treaty "cannot be reopened, becoming the subject of new negotiations."

Both the Obama Administration and Senate Republicans are sending the message that U.S. national security policy is now determined in Moscow.

Knowing there would be a greater GOP presence in the Senate beginning next month why did Senate Republicans let this come to the floor in the first place? But alas, the Senate is due to pass the START Treaty later today.

Let it be said that no treaty is better than a bad treaty.

Stix and Stones

Nicholas Stix, a former regular contributor to IC, has taken me to task for my latest piece on IC in support of the repeal of DADT.

Stix writes, "But don’t expect any honesty from the likes of Aaron Sorkin, er, Goldstein."

Now Stix is, of course, perfectly entitled to disagree with my position and judging by my exchanges with John Guardiano on the AmSpec Blog he certainly isn't the only one. Stix honestly believes repealing DADT is a bad idea. I honestly think it is a good idea. Thus we have a difference of opinion. Yet I am not questioning Stix's honesty. So why is he questioning mine?

If anything, Stix should appreciate my honesty because I certainly appreciate his honesty in this matter. Stix is honest enough to admit that he has no problem casting aspersions against gay military personnel simply because they are gay. How else does one explain the use of a term like "gay insurgents"? Stix is also honest enough to admit that any positive contribution made by military personnel is negated the moment they admit they are gay. Now I think those opinions are entirely misguided. But I would rather have someone come out and admit he has no problem casting aspersions against gays and lesbians than have someone like Guardiano who in one breath says he likes gays and lesbians and then in the next breath besmirches them.

Aside from disagreeing with the content and substance of Stix's piece the only problem I have is the fact he cannot recognize that someone might honestly hold an opinion that differs from his own. Oh well, c'est la vie. Stix can cast his stones but they will not hurt me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Steve Landesberg, 1936-2010. R.I.P.

Actor/comedian Steve Landesberg died yesterday of cancer. He was 74.

Landesberg is best known for his portrayal of Arthur Dietrich, the Jewish intellectual detective on the ABC comedy series Barney Miller. He joined the cast in the show's second season and remained until the series concluded in 1982.

Younger audiences might remember him from his role in the 2008 romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

For many years, Landesberg had a stand up comedy act. In 1985, this act took him to the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium and my parents went to see him perform. One of his first jokes was, "Any Jews from New York in the audience?" My Dad immediately whistled much to the shock of Landesberg. Then for the next ten minutes Dad and Landesberg kibbitzed back and forth much to the audience's delight.

Now I was not there to witness this dialogue between two New York Jews in the middle of Northwestern Ontario. Believe me, I wish I had been there. However, I know it happened because for years after when our family would go out people would approach Dad and ask, "Hey, aren't you the guy who did that act with Steve Landesberg?"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Guardiano Misunderstands Goldstein

To read this post please check out the AmSpec Blog.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Royals Trade Greinke to Milwaukee

The Kansas City Royals have traded 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke along with shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt to the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and two pitching prospects.

The question here is whether the Brewers are going to get the Greinke of 2009 or the Greinke of 2010. In 2009, Greinke went 16-9 and with league leading 2.16 ERA while striking out 242 batters. However, in 2010, Greinke struggled with a 10-14 record while his ERA jumped two runs to 4.17 and although he nearly pitched the same number of innings he struck out 61 fewer batters. To put it into perspective, Greinke won fewer games for the Royals in 2010 than did journeyman southpaw Bruce Chen who led all Royals pitchers with 12 victories.

Greinke will join a rotation that includes Yovani Gallardo, lefties Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson as well as Shawn Marcum who was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays during the Winter Meetings earlier this month. Wolf will eat innings but Gallardo is an underachiever and the jury is out on both Narveson and Marcum. Even if Greinke does regain his 2009 form I'm not sure the Brewers will improve much in 2011. Who knows? The Royals might get the better of that deal.

Thoughts on DADT Repeal

To read my thoughts please check out the AmSpec Blog.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tonight on our KKNT Alexander & Goldman Show: The omnibus spending bill and tax cut bill

Tonight on our KKNT 960 Alexander and Goldman Show we will be discussing the failed omnibus spending bill and the tax cut bill that was just signed into law. We will tell you all about both bills, including which Congressmen were responsible for loading the spending bill with earmarks - you will be surprised how many were Republicans. Fortunately it did not pass due to a lot of Tea Party opposition, instead a smaller compromise bill to keep the government from shutting down passed.

We will then discuss the tax cut bill that Obama signed, extending the Bush-era tax cuts for two years. It's not as good as it seems - there are tax breaks for ethanol and the clean air industry in there, and for NASCAR!

Joining us to analyze will be Daniel Mitchell from the CATO Institute, an economist with expertise in tax reform and supply-side tax policy.

We will also have a brief update from the Arizona Latino Republican Association, and Robert Karnes with The American Drive. Robert is organizing a drive-in through Washington, D.C. to send Congress a message that we will hold them accountable to repealing Obamacare.

Listen live from 6-7pm Arizona time (MST currently) tonight on or wait for the upload in a couple of days to

Captain Beefheart,1941-2010. R.I.P.

Don Van Vliet (better known as Captain Beefheart) has died of complications from multiple sclerosis. He was 69.

Captain Beefheart recorded a series of avant garde albums with The Magical Band from the late 1960s into the early 1980s before he retired from music to concentrate exclusively on painting which proved to be a more lucrative venture.

Beefheart's best known work was the double album Trout Mask Replica which was released in 1969 on Frank Zappa's Straight Records label. It sure isn't easy listening but it's not nearly as weird as Tim Buckley's Starsailor (especially the title track) which was released on Straight Records the following year.

Nevertheless, Beefheart not only marched to his own drummer but conducted his own orchestra as evidenced by these rare interviews he did with David Letterman in the early 1980s.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sterling Lyon, 1927-2010. R.I.P.

Sterling Lyon, who served as the Premier of Manitoba from 1977 to 1981, died yesterday after a brief illness. He was 83.

For those unfamiliar politics north of the border you could think of Lyon as an early version of a Tea Partier, Canadian style. Lyon came to power unexpectedly in 1977 when he defeated two term New Democratic Party (NDP) Premier Ed Schreyer. He was amongst the first conservative politicians in any jurisdiction to address the issue of deficits and debts. Lyon described his method of governing as "acute, protracted restraint."

Unfortunately, the pace of his reforms went too fast, too soon for Manitobans who tossed Lyon's Tories out of office in 1981 and returned the NDP to power, this time under Howard Pawley. However, a subsequent generation of Canadian politicians, conservative and otherwise, would adopt the practice of "acute, protracted restraint." They owe a debt to Sterling Lyon.

For a summary of Lyon's political career, here's a good piece in the Winnipeg Free Press co-written by Jared Wesley, an assistant professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba and David Stewart, the chair of the political science department at the University of Calgary.

What if had he exposed the Chinese?

by Vasko Kohlmayer

Julian Assange is being trashed right and left.

Imagine, however, what would have happened had he disclosed confidential documents of, let's say, the Iranian or Chinese governments.

The same people who are vilifying him now would be lauding him as a hero, a courageous man, and an intrepid champion of free speech and liberty.

If the affected governments threatened Assange, our diplomats would lecture them at length on the Western virtues of openness, transparency and freedom of speech. They would warn them in most stern terms not to lay a hand on the man.

There would also be numerous calls for awarding Assange the Nobel Prize.

Why, then, do so many of us want to see him dead now?

Are openness, transparency and freedom of speech only one way street? Do they only apply when they are convenient or only to those whom we dislike?

Does Krauthammer Have a Man Crush on Obama?

In his latest column, Charles Krauthammer hails President Obama as "the new comeback kid."

Has Krauthammer gone all David Brooks on us?

Has Krauthammer developed a man crush on President Obama? Well, consider this passage:

Now, with his stunning tax deal, Obama is back. Holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as the orchestrator, dealmaker, and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama.

If President Obama is "the orchestrator, dealmaker, and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama" then why did he odiously refer to the Republicans with whom he made this deal as "hostage takers"? Indeed, if one accepts President Obama's characterization of the GOP then one can only conclude that the President agreeing to this tax deal was the equivalent of paying a ransom. And no one pays a ransom on their own terms, not even President Obama.

So why is Krauthammer spinning this as the most lopsided trade since the Cardinals got Lou Brock from the Cubs for Ernie Broglio?

My guess is that it has something to do with Sarah Palin. While Krauthammer has not called Palin "a cancer" or "a joke" as Brooks has done, his distaste for Palin is palatable. This was certainly the case in August 2009 when Krauthammer suggested that we ought to ask "Sarah Palin leave the room" after she coined the term "death panels." Earlier this week, during an interview with Bill O'Reilly, Krauthammer said:

Now I would have hoped she'd spend the next years getting really deep into policy and becoming an expert the way a lot of other candidates have done as they mature and approach the presidency. She hasn't. She has a political star. She's out there, she's very attractive both politically and ideologically to a large segment of Republicans. But I think if you want to expand your base you have to get into policy even though it sounds dull.

It seems to me that Krauthammer cannot get past Palin's accent. The prospect of a Palin presidency has Krauthammer so troubled that he is now prepared to cast Obama as another Bill Clinton and have four more years of Obama in the White House. How else does one explain Krauthammer concluding his article by comparing Obama to Ronald Reagan?:

The greatest mistake Ronald Reagan's opponents ever made - and they made it over and over again - was to underestimate him. Same with Obama. The difference is that Reagan was so deeply self-assured that he invited underestimation - low expectations are a priceless political asset - whereas Obama's vanity makes him always need to appear the smartest guy in the room.

Krauthammer's analogy is fatally flawed. Since when has anyone underestimated President Obama much less had low expectations of him? After all, this is a man who has been described a "sort of God" capable of receding oceans and healing the planet? It it any wonder President Obama hasn't lived up to those lofty expectations?

If anyone has been beset with low expectations, it is Sarah Palin. In fact, Krauthammer's expectations of Palin are so low that he cannot acknowledge his soft bigotry. It is the sort of thing one cannot acknowledge when one has developed a man crush on President Obama.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blake Edwards, 1922-2010. R.I.P.

Director Blake Edwards died yesterday of pneumonia. He was 88.

Edwards directed films such as Days of Wine and Roses, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 10 and Victor/Victoria.

I suspect however that when most people think of Blake Edwards they think of his collaboration with Peter Sellers in six Pink Panther movies made during the 1960s and 1970s. You can never go wrong with Inspector Clouseau.

Edwards is survived by his wife, actress Julie Andrews (to whom he was married for over 40 years) and their five children.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bob Feller,1918-2010 R.I.P.

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller lost his battle with leukemia today. He was 92.

Feller truly lived a wonderful life which began on a family farm in Van Meter, Iowa.

It was there where his father built him a field of dreams and on that field of dreams he developed that country fastball.

Feller made his big league debut with the Cleveland Indians at the age of 17 without the benefit of minor league experience. At the beginning of his career, Feller walked a lot of batters. But he had a fastball that could travel faster than a police officer on a motorcycle as well as a devastating curveball. In short order he had three consecutive 20 plus win seasons and led the American League in strikeouts for four consecutive seasons.

Then the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Although many major league baseball players served with distinction in WWII (Ted Williams, Hank Greenberg and Yogi Berra) immediately come to mind, Feller was the first to sign up.

Feller enlisted in the Navy and served on the U.S.S. Alabama from 1941 to 1945 where he rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

In all, Feller missed nearly four seasons. But his first full season back in 1946 proved to be his finest. Feller won 26 games, pitched more than 375 innings, completed 36 games (big league pitchers don't make 36 starts in a season), threw 10 shutouts and perhaps most impressively of all struck out a major league record 348 batters. That single season record would later be eclipsed by Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.

Two years later, Feller earned his only World Series ring. The 1948 triumph would prove to be the Indians last Fall Classic triumph. Although the Indians did win the AL pennant in 1954 with a then AL record 111 regular season wins, the Tribe would be swept in the World Series by Willie Mays and the New York Giants.

Feller finished his career with 266 wins, 2,581 strikeouts and three no-hitters to boot. He would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1962 and would go around the country barnstorming well into his 70s.

To the very end, Feller was outspoken for his love of this country. In an interview Feller did with Bob Costas for the MLB Network last year, Costas told him that if not for his military service he would have easily won 350 games and struck out more than 3,500 batters. Feller replied that this country had to win the war and that he didn't miss any one of those wins or strikeouts.

Unfortunately, I don't have a link to that interview. But here's an interview Feller did with Mike Wallace in 1957, the year after he retired. At the time, Feller was the President of the Major League Baseball Players Association and Wallace grills Feller hard about his opposition to the reserve clause and support for free agency. Feller was two decades ahead of his time.

Wallace also grilled Feller about sponsorship of baseball games by beer companies. It was an interesting line of questioning when you consider that Wallace's show was sponsored by Phillip Morris.

Bob Feller was an ornament to the game of baseball and his kind will never come along again.

P.S. In 1990, my father visited the Baseball Hall of Fame to present a paper. While in Cooperstown, he had the opportunity to meet Bob Feller and got him to autograph a baseball.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wikipedia, Castro Style

Today, Cuba launched an online encyclopedia called EcuRed.

Think of it as Wikipedia, Castro style.

Here's one thing about Cuba's entry on Wikipedia that Cubans are unlikely find on EcuRed:

Cuba had the second-highest number of imprisoned journalists in 2008 (the People's Republic of China was first) according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international NGO. As a result of ownership bans, computer ownership rates are among the world's lowest. The right to use the Internet is granted only to selected people and they are monitored. Connecting to the Internet illegally can lead to a five-year prison sentence.

Think about that the next time you surf the web.

Reuters States The Obvious

I got a kick out of this headline this morning from Reuters:

Hamas leader says group will never recognize Israel

You don't say.

Yet it would not surprise me in the least if Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Paul Volcker still think President Obama should talk to Hamas.

If which case it just goes to show that some people never learn.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cliff Lee Mysteriously Returns to Philly

Cliff Lee will pitch for neither the Texas Rangers nor the New York Yankees.

According to the MLB Network, Lee has agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. It is a contract reportedly worth less than what he would have received with either the Rangers or the Yankees and is for a shorter duration. Both the Yankees and Rangers were offering contracts up to seven years worth between $125 and $150 million.

Lee, of course, pitched with the Phillies during the stretch run in 2009 and helped lead the team to a National League pennant and twice beat the Yankees during the World Series. The Phillies then traded Lee in the off season to the Seattle Mariners. The veteran lefty rejoins a rotation that now includes 2010 NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Now that's a fearsome foursome. Suffice it to say, methinks the Phillies are nearly a lock to win a fifth straight NL East Division title next year.

I'm glad to see Jon Heyman got the last laugh. The Sports Illustrated baseball writer was mocked by the likes of Peter Gammons and Buster Olney for suggesting a "mystery team" had joined the bidding war for Lee's services. Well, the next time there's a breaking story I'll take Heyman's word over that of Gammons and Olney any day of the week.

Hostile Peace Activists

Tonight, I attended my roommate's poetry feature in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

At the conclusion of the evening, an activist with Veterans for Peace (who had read an anti-Bush poem earlier on) approached me and said, "If you don't believe in peace what do you believe in? You're addicted to war." As he turned his back and walked away from me I said, "Nice talking to you too, pal."

For a peace activist he sure was hostile.

Richard Holbrooke,1941-2010. R.I.P.

Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died today of complications from an aortic dissection he suffered two days ago while meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He was 69.

Holbrooke was best known for brokering the Dayton Accords in 1995 to end the conflict between Serbs, Croats and Muslims in Bosnia.

Subsequently, Holbrooke served as a foreign policy advisor to John Kerry and Hillary Clinton for their White House bids in 2004 and 2008, respectively. President Obama appointed Holbrooke as Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan shortly after taking office in 2009.

Trouble in Tehran?

Well, this is interesting. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has just fired his Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki while Mottaki was in the midst of an African tour.

Mottaki, who has served as Ahmadinejad's Foreign Minister since taking office in 2005, has been replaced on an interim basis by Ali Akbar Salehi, who happens to be Iran's chief negotiator for its nuclear program.

One can only hope that this is a sign of a power struggle. Mottaki is considered close to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei and Khamenei could take this move as a sign that Ahmadinejad is challenging his authority. Perhaps the only way the Iranian regime will fall is if it crumbles from within.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kate Gosselin Makes Sarah Palin Look Good

To read this post please check out the AmSpec Blog.

Swedish PM "Not Sure" if Islamist Threats Connected to Stockholm Bombing

Please see my post on this at the AmSpec Blog.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Obama's Nobel Understatement

As Liu Xiaobo was bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia, President Obama issued a statement that Liu "is far more deserving of the award than I was."

That is the understatement of the year.

While it may have been an attempt at modesty on the part of the President it is only a further indication of how undeserving he was of the honor in the first place. Granted, the Nobel Committee was guilty of poor judgment and should have exercised greater prudence in its deliberation. But President Obama should have had the good sense to politely decline the award and declare it should go to an individual "far more deserving."

Like Liu Xiaobo.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Russia Suggests Assange be Nominated for Nobel

A source from inside Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's office has suggested that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be nominated for a Nobel Prize.

Somehow I don't think the Russians would be so eager to lavish such praise upon Assange if he was leaking their secrets.

If Assange did leak their classified information the Russians would serve him a cold dish of revenge.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dave Van Horne Wins Ford C. Frick Award

Dave Van Horne, one of my favorite baseball broadcasters, is being recognized for his work as he was named the 2011 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.

The award will be bestowed upon Van Horne at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in July 2011.

Van Horne has been the voice of the Florida Marlins for the past decade but I remember him best during his days with the Montreal Expos. Van Horne broadcast Expos game from their inception in 1969 and remained with the organization for over three decades. Over those years, Van Horne was paired in the broadcast booth with the like of Duke Snider, Ken Singleton and Gary Carter.

It will give Expos fans another reason to make a pilgrimage to Cooperstown next summer as they did this past July when Andre Dawson was inducted. Expos fans will stand up and send Van Horne "up, up and away" into baseball's most hallowed halls.

Carl Crawford Comes to Boston

Outfielder Carl Crawford has signed a seven-year, $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox.

I must say this does come as a surprise. I knew Boston was interested in him. But I figured the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had the inside track but lo and behold this could prove to be a steal.

Crawford has spent his entire nine year big league career with Tampa Bay. He has led the AL in stolen bases and triples four times apiece. Crawford enters the 2011 season with a .296 lifetime batting average, nearly 1,500 hits and more than 400 career stolen bases. To top it all off Crawford is only 28.

So what I am saying is that Crawford could get 3,000 career hits and close to a 1,000 stolen bases. He will be patroling left field where Ted Williams, Jim Rice and Manny Ramirez stood before him.

I remember a game in 2009 in which Crawford stole six bases against the Sox tying an AL record. Let's just say I'm glad he's on our side now.

This is bigger than acquiring Adrian Gonzalez. Much bigger.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards,1949-2010. R.I.P.

Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with cancer today. She was 61.

Her passing comes a day after it was announced she would be discontinuing treatments.

Living with cancer is a struggle unto its own. I cannot begin to imagine how one can live under those circumstances when one's spouse tends to his own needs without care or consequence.

I can only hope she finds the kind of peace which alluded her in the final years of her life.

Gillick Elected to Hall of Fame

Yesterday, the Veterans Committee elected executive Pat Gillick to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Gillick had success as a general manager with the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and the Philadelphia Phillies. Gillick put together the Blue Jay teams that won back to back World Series in 1992 and 1993, the Oriole teams that went to the post-season in 1997 and 1998, the Mariners team that won 116 games in 2001 and the Phillies team that went all the way in 2008.

I believe the greatest of those achievements was with the Blue Jays. Gillick was there from the beginning when they were named an expansion team in 1976 and remained with them for nearly two decades through thick and thin. Gillick was a pioneer in scouting talent in Latin America. The only other organization that was that extensively involved in player development in Latin America was the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Jays would not have achieved their run of success from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s without Gillick.

Gillick will be formally inducted in July 2011.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Iran Sentences Web Developer to Death

Today, the Obama Administration as well as Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have resumed seven party talks with Iran in Geneva which are scheduled to last until tomorrow.

Iran's chief negotiator, Saeid Jalili, spent a portion of the meeting denouncing a November 29th bombing which resulted in the death of nuclear scientist Majid Shahriri. Iran has formally accused American, British and Israeli intelligence of responsibility for Shahiri's death. The U.S. and the five other nations assembled condemned the attack on Shahiri.

Yet I wonder if anyone at this meeting raised Iran's decision on Saturday to sentence website developer Saleed Malekpour (who resided in Canada prior to his 2008 arrest) to death for "internet offences", "agitation against the regime" and "insulting the sanctity of Islam"?

I doubt it. That would be meddling.

Don Meredith, 1938-2010. R.I.P.

Former NFL quarterback turned broadcaster Don Meredith died yesterday of a brain hemorrage. He was 72.

Nicknamed "Dandy Don", Meredith was the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys during most of the 1960s. However, Meredith is probably best known for his stints on the Monday Night Football broadcast crew with Howard Cossell and Frank Gifford from 1970-1973 and again from 1977-1984. In between those stints, Meredith also broadcast NFL games on NBC with Curt Gowdy.

I, however, remember him best as the spokesman for Lipton Tea. Here he is with Willard Scott in a spot for Lipton Sun Tea.

Well, turn out the lights, the party's over.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Has Washington Made a "Werthwhile" Investment?

Free agent outfielder Jayson Werth has signed a seven-year $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

Although Werth was the Baltimore Orioles top draft pick in 1997 he was something of a late bloomer not reaching the majors until 2002 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. After two undistinguished seasons in Toronto, the Jays traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever Jason Frasor prior to the 2004 season. Werth didn't perform much better in L.A. and a wrist injury forced him to miss the entire 2006 season. Eventually, the Dodgers gave up on him.

The Philadelphia Phillies took a chance on Werth prior to the 2007 season and he would finally find his place in bigs although it actually wasn't until 2008 when Werth became an everyday player. The Phillies, of course, won the World Series in '08.

Werth was part of Phillie teams that reached the post-season for four consecutive seasons. Things are going to be very different in D.C. Werth was surrounded with an All-Star cast which included the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz. With Adam Dunn now a member of the Chicago White Sox, Werth and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman are the offensive focal points of the Nationals. The supporting cast is mighty thin.

The other obvious concern is the length of Werth's contract. It would be one thing if the Nats signed Werth to a seven year deal if he were 26 (like the Colorado Rockies did when they recently extended Troy Tulowitzki's contract.) But Werth is 31. I can see Werth having two or three productive years with the Nats but do the Nats really expect Werth to be an offensive force much less effectively patrol right field in 2017 when he is 38?

Have the Nationals made a "werthwhile" investment? Or could this be the worst spending to come out of Washington since Obamacare?

A Tale of Two Adrians

So much for Adrian Gonzalez wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform.

The deal fell through today when Gonzalez and the Red Sox could not agree to a contract extension. Gonzalez wanted an eight year extension while the Sox were only willing to offer six years.

So for now Gonzalez remains a member of the San Diego Padres.

The Sox could still try to acquire Gonzalez this off season (perhaps during the Winter Meetings which commence tomorrow in Lake Buena Vista, Florida) and work on a contract extension at a later date. Or they could try to pursue Gonzalez after the 2011 season when he becomes a free agent. If Theo Epstein chooses the latter course of action he will likely renew efforts to re-sign third baseman Adrian Beltre.

The Red Sox off season has become a tale of two Adrians.

UPDATE: Well, now it's down to one Adrian. So Adrian Gonzalez will wear a Red Sox uniform after all. A contract extension beyond 2011 which had held up the trade will be tabled for the time being. So in the space of 36 hours, Kevin Youkilis went from first base to third base back to first and back again to third.

Helen Thomas Does It Again

Helen Thomas is at it again. Last Thursday, Thomas was the keynote speaker at a conference in Dearborn, Michigan on the subject of this conference was bias against Arab-Americans. Organizers billed it as, "Images and Perceptions of Arab-Americans: The New America: Mom, Apple Pie and Arab Bashing."

Apparently, the nonagenerian thought the best way to address bias against Arab-Americans was to engage in some more anti-Semitism. Thomas said, "Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question in my opinion."

Detroit's Wayne State University, Thomas' alma mater, responded the following day by revoking its Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award. I'm not sure why Wayne State officials still thought Helen Thomas embodied the spirit of diversity after she told Jews to get the hell out of Palestine. But I suppose better late than never.

The full video of Thomas' speech can be found here. Towards the end of her remarks, Thomas makes reference to Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech. It is ironic Thomas would invoke Dr. King. After all, it was Dr. King who in a letter to an "Anti-Zionist Friend" wrote:

Let my words echo in the depths of your soul: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews - make no mistake about it.

So when Helen Thomas says Zionists own Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street, she means Jews. Make no mistake about it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jeter Stays in NY; Red Sox Acquire Gonzalez

So much for Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees parting ways. Jeter has reportedly signed a three-year contract worth $51 million with an option for the 2014 season.

While it would have been nice to see Jeter in a Boston Red Sox uniform just to make Yankee fans squirm, the Sox nor any other team outside of the Bronx would have entertained offering Jeter the kind of money he wanted. Alas Jeter will get his 3,000th hit in Yankee pinstripes.

The Red Sox were nonetheless busy as well acquiring first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres in exchange for three minor leaguers. Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein has long sought Gonzalez who, unlike Jeter, is entering the prime of his career. Gonzalez, who turns 29 next May, has hit 30 or more homeruns for four consecutive seasons and has knocked in 100 runs three of the last four seasons. The acquisition of Gonzalez also means Kevin Youkilis will return to third base while Adrian Beltre, who had a stellar year at third with the Sox in 2010, will play elsewhere in 2011.

It's December and the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is in mid-season form.

Sign the petition to protest the internet censorship bill, COICA

Several prominent conservatives on the web are circulating a petition to stop COICA, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would greatly expand the power of the federal government to shut down websites due to allegedly infringing content, without due process first. We already have laws in place like the Digital Milennium Copyright Act which allows copyright holders to have infringing material removed from the internet without going through the legal system, this additional law is not necessary. It is also vague, and could potentially allow the Attorney General to arbitrarily shut down blogs for just linking to or paraphrasing content from newspapers or other powerful interests who are behind the bill.

Although both the activist left and right oppose the bill, we know many members of Congress have been bought and paid for by lobbyists. Senator Henry Hyde, the bill's co-sponsor, has received $885,216 in contributions from the TV, movie and music industries - the industries behind the bill (source: Center for Responsive Politics). This sounds like a feel-good effort to reward powerful interests one blogger described this way, "Now they want the federal government to act as their private security agents, policing the internet for suspected pirates before making them walk the digital plank."

Fortunately, Senator Ron Wyden has placed a hold on the legislation, so it is probably dead this year. But it may be revived next year.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ron Santo, 1940-2010. R.I.P.

Ron Santo, Chicago Cubs third baseman turned broadcaster, died last night of complications of diabetes and bladder cancer. He was 70.

Santo played in the bigs for 15 seasons; all but one with the Cubs. Outside of Brooks Robinson, he was the greatest third baseman of his generation. He was a five time Gold Glove winner and a nine time NL All-Star. On four occasions, he led the NL in walks. He finished his career with a .277 lifetime batting average with 342 homeruns and 1331 RBI.

Yet Santo has been denied his rightful spot in Cooperstown both by the baseball writers and later the Veterans Committee. There are only fourteen third basemen in the Baseball Hall of Fame (including three from the Negro Leagues) and Santo belongs with them. Period.

What makes Santo's career all the more remarkable was that he played most of his career with Type 1 Diabetes. It was a condition that later forced the amputation of both of his legs. Yet Santo made the best of his situation spending the past two decades as a color commentator for the Cubs where he became beloved by a new generation of Cubs fans for his passion for the team through good and bad, mostly bad.

Hall of Fame or not, somewhere in heaven Ron Santo is kicking up his heels.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ed Rollins is Mad at Sarah Palin

Ed Rollins is mad at Sarah Palin.

The former Reagan White House official has penned an article at in which he tells Palin "to quit comparing yourself to Ronald Reagan."

Methinks Rollins doth protest too much.

After all, let's not forget he was Mike Huckabee's national campaign chairman in the former Arkansas Governor turned TV talk show host's 2008 bid for the White House. Back then Rollins had little hesitation in likening Huckabee to the Gipper as was the case when he was quoted in an article which appeared in the Telegraph in December 2007:

Governor Huckabee has probably inspired me as much as Ronald Reagan. He had an ability to connect with people and he was a great communicator. I've looked for a long time for another candidate to do that.

People are always asking: 'Who's the next Ronald Reagan?' Well, I was with the old Reagan. I can promise you that this man comes as close as I've ever seen.

If Huckabee should decide to make a bid for the GOP nomination in 2012 then it would not be unreasonable to assume that Rollins would once again play a large role in Huckabee's campaign. Perhaps Rollins fears that Palin has stolen some of Huckabee's thunder and is thus launching this salvo against the former Alaska Governor.

The fact is that Sarah Palin isn't the first GOP presidential prospect to invoke Reagan and she won't be the last. But the fact that Rollins singles out Palin for doing so is quite telling indeed.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stephen Solarz, 1940-2010. R.I.P.

Stephen Solarz, a Brooklyn Democrat who served nearly two decades in Congress, died yesterday of esophogeal cancer. He was 70.

Solarz was first elected to Congress following the Watergate scandal in 1974. He became something of an anomaly in the Democratic Party - a foreign policy hawk. A Scoop Jackson if you will. In 1991, Solarz was one of the most outspoken Democrats in favor of authorizing Saddam Hussein's removal from Kuwait.

Solarz was also a noted critic of the Ferdinand Marcos regime in the Phillipines. I did not know it was Solarz who revealed Imelda Marcos' extensive shoe collection.

However, Solarz's legislative career came to an abrupt end in 1992 after his congressional district was redrawn and became more predominantly Hispanic. Solarz would lose the Democratic nomination to Nydia Velazquez, who holds this seat to this very day.

I remember Solarz's dismay in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square when he debated Henry Kissinger on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour. I wish I had video to link but here's Solarz speaking out on the subject in June 1989.

Gil McDougald, 1928-2010. R.I.P.

Gil McDougald, who played ten seasons with the New York Yankees, died on Sunday due to prostate cancer. He was 82.

Even though 1951 is remembered as Mickey Mantle's rookie season, it was McDougald who was named AL Rookie of the Year hitting .306. McDougald played in the World Series in eight of his ten big league seasons and was on the winning side on five of those occasions. He was also named to five AL All-Star teams. McDougald was a super utility man who excelled at second base, shortstop and third base.

However, McDougald would retire following the 1960 season at the age of 32. His joy for the game diminished when he hit Cleveland Indians pitching sensation Herb Score in the face with a line drive. Had he stayed in the game he might have had a shot at Cooperstown.

McDougald did coach at Fordham University in the Bronx from 1970 to 1976. However, he largely stayed away from the game after that due to long term hearing loss sustained when he was struck in the head by a baseball during batting practice in the 1955 season. But McDougald's hearing would be significantly restored in 1995 due to cochlear implant surgery. McDougald would become a strong advocate of cochlear implants becoming the unlikeliest of activists.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Franco, Hathaway to Co-Host 2010 Oscars

So James Franco and Anne Hathaway will be hosting the Oscars.

Well, I don't know if this will pull in younger viewers but I do know I would rather spend four hours looking at Anne Hathaway than Alec Baldwin.

Leslie Nielsen, 1926-2010. R.I.P.

Actor Leslie Nielsen passed away yesterday due to complications of pneumonia. He was 84.

Born in Saskatchewan, Nielsen appeared in hundreds of films and television shows going back to the mid-1950s. Early in his career, he was cast a villain. But that all changed in 1980 when he was cast in Airplane as Dr. Alan Rumack when a comedy legend was born. He subsequently starred as Lieutenant Frank Drebin in the short lived TV series Police Squad. Nielsen would reprise the Drebin character in the three Naked Gun movies.

Nielsen's older brother, Erik, was a Conservative Member of Parliament from the Yukon who served as Canada's Deputy Prime Minister in the administration of Brian Mulroney from 1984 to 1986. The elder Nielsen passed away in 2008.

My favorite line from the Naked Gun? When Nielsen presents an engagement ring to a hypnotized Priscilla Presley and says, "It's a topsy-turvy world, and maybe the problems of two people don't amount to a hill of beans. But this is our hill. And these are our beans!"

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Portland's Mayor Goes Into Politically Correct Mode

In response to the thwarted terrorist attack in the Pacific Northwest, Portland's Democratic Mayor Sam Adams has gone into politically correct mode concerning Mohamed Osman Mohamud, the man arrested in connection with the attempted bombing. Mohamud was born in Somalia and is a naturalized American citizen. He is also Muslim.

"Bad actions by one member of any group does not and should not be generalized or applied more widely to other members of that same group," said Adams, "Otherwise, as the biggest racial group in Portland, we European-Americans would be in deep trouble."

Mayor Adams misses the point. This isn't about race. For that matter it isn't about nationality either. This is a global problem. As mentioned earlier Mohamud is Somali. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (a.k.a. The Christmas Day Bomber) was born on the other side of the Africa in Nigeria; Faisal Shahzad (a.k.a. The Times Square Bomber) is from Pakistan and Nidal Malik Hasan (a.k.a. the Fort Hood shooter) is an American of Jordanian-Palestinian origin. Let us also not forget John Walker Lindh and Jose Padilla were also born in this country.

So what do all of these men have in common? They were willing to kill people (mostly civilians) in the name of advancing Islamic jihad. At what point will our political elite stop pretending that Islam has no connection with terrorism? Mayor Adams (and for that matter President Obama) ignore the cries of "Allahu Akbhar" at our peril. This is a problem that is not going away. It has already claimed too many innocent lives and one of these days it is going to claim a large number of innocent lives again. But how can you solve a problem when our political elite insists it doesn't exist?

President Obama can say to his heart's content that America is not at war with Islam. But that doesn't mean that Islam (or at the very least a critical mass of it) isn't at war with us.

Those Crazy Oregon Teens

Last night, an act of Islamic terrorism was thwarted when the FBI arrested 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud when he attempted to set off a bomb in Portland, Oregon. The young jihadist had planned to detonate a car bomb during the lighting of a Christmas tree in Portland's downtown area. The FBI had been monitoring him for more than six months by convincing Mohamud they were fellow operatives.

Yet somehow The New York Times managed to report this story without mentioning Mohamud is a Muslim. Their headline?

Ah, but you know those crazy Oregon teens.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tom Underwood, 1953-2010. R.I.P.

Former major league pitcher Tom Underwood passed away on November 22 after an eighteen month battle with leukemia. He was 56.

Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1972, Underwood pitched in the bigs from 1974 to 1984 with the Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles. The Indiana born southpaw finished his career with an 86-87 record. His younger brother Pat, another lefty, also pitched in the majors for four seasons with the Detroit Tigers.

While Underwood's stats didn't make for a particularly memorable major league career he thoroughly enjoyed experience. Underwoood said, "For 10 years I saw the entire U.S. for free and had five months vacation. I just wish I could have played the game longer."

Tom Underwood lived his American Dream.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

CNN's Roland S. Martin Says Palin Should Be Kicked

Syndicated columnist and CNN contributor Roland S. Martin has called for violence against Sarah Palin.

Martin took Palin to task for her criticisms of First Lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity initiative.

Martin writes, "Hmmm. Let's move is Obama's "kick"? Maybe someone should kick Sarah Palin so she can understand how devastating obesity is to the future of the United States."

Well, needless to say, if a conservative writer (like myself) had suggested that President Obama or the First Lady be kicked we would hear a chorus of cackles telling us how violent conservatives are. But I guess it's O.K. for Martin to call for violence against Sarah Palin simply because she expresses an opinion contrary to his own.

Martin should do the right thing and publicly apologize to Palin. But will it happen? Fat chance.

In that case, CNN should fire Martin.

Thoughts on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

This morning I struggled to make my way to the steps of the First Church of Christ, Scientist on 68th and Central Park West to meet up with my Dad to watch the 84th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. But I made it.

What a spectacle!!!

Some of the floats are so enormous (i.e. Snoopy, Ronald McDonald, Kung Fu Panda) they must need thirty people to carry them.

Of course, there were marching bands from all over the country. The NYPD was there in full force.

Then there were the celebrities. I saw, amongst others, Arlo Guthrie, Miranda Cosgrove, Kylie Minogue, the cast of Sesame Street, Gladys Knight, Jessica Simpson, Joan Rivers, India Arie, Betty Buckley and Kanye West (ugghhh). No Carly Simon though. Oh well.

Still, I'm glad I got to see it.

I'm not posting any pictures. You'll have to use your imagination. If you don't want to use your imagination then you'll have to come here next year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Thankful for Taking the Bus

If I'm thankful for anything this season is that I didn't have to fly to New York.

Yes, the bus is crowded, uncomfortable, traffic is miserable and you take your life in your hands when you proceed to the loo.

But I'll take all that over being probed and exposed to gamma rays any day of the week.

Of course, if al Qaeda decides to attack buses then I can't even be thankful for the bus.

And in the spirit of the holiday season....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Could Jeter End Up in Boston?

The New York Yankees have declined to offer future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter arbitration. In fact, Yankees GM Brian Cashman has said he told Jeter to "test the market and see if there’s something he would prefer other than this. If he can, fine."

The Yankees have offered Jeter a three-year contract worth $45 million. I am sure that Cashman would not have uttered such a statement if he thought any other club was prepared to pony up more money than that. After all, Jeter's batting average and on base percentage fell by more than sixty points during the 2010 season. He's also 36 and has lost a step at short.

On the other hand, Jeter could take Cashman's comments as an affront and sign elsewhere out of pride. There are also clubs that would love to one up the Yankees. I'm sure Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino stills consider the Yankees "the evil empire." Jeter needs only 74 hits to reach the coveted 3,000 mark. Could you imagine if he reached that milestone in a Red Sox uniform instead of wearing pinstripes?

Thoughts on North Korea's Attack

North Korea's attack yesterday which claimed the lives of two South Korean marines and its recent public discussion of its nuclear capabilities is said to be an attempt at re-starting six party talks which China supports.

If that is what results of this belligerence then the Obama Administration will have rewarded North Korea's behavior. Of course, at this point, it is not clear that will be the outcome. But sooner or later, the United States is going to have to deal with North Korea, nuclear weapon or no nuclear weapon.

Hamilton Wins AL MVP

While Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton didn't come away with a World Series ring he has won the 2010 AL MVP.

Hamilton led the AL in batting with a .359 average, hit 32 homeruns and drove in 100 runs.

He has come a very long way. Originally the top draft pick in the country in 1999 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Hamilton's career was sidelined by alcohol and drug abuse. He did not play professional baseball between 2004 and 2006.

Hamilton got his second chance with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 and was then traded to the Rangers prior to the 2008 season for pitcher Edinson Volquez (a deal that has worked out for both clubs.) He set the baseball world afire with his performance during the Home Run Derby at the 2008 All-Star Game at old Yankee Stadium.

Of course, it has not been easy for him. He did have a relapse early in 2009. But Hamilton's Christian faith has for the most part kept him on the straight and narrow.

His teammates certainly have been supportive. When the Rangers clinched the AL West, the ALDS and the AL championship they were there to spray him with ginger ale instead of champagne. Now that he's won his first MVP trophy perhaps there's one more ginger ale celebration is in order.

Victor Martinez Signs with Detroit

Well, the Boston Red Sox will be looking for a new catcher.

Victor Martinez has signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Detroit Tigers.

I wonder if the Sox were disappointed with his offensive production. He certainly didn't put up the numbers in Boston that he did in Cleveland. But at 31 he is in the prime of his career and would have been a long term contributor at Fenway.

So where that leave the Sox? Will they re-sign team captain Jason Varitek for a song? I would love to see a platoon of Varitek and Bengie Molina behind the plate. O.K., they are past their prime but in a platoon situation you could maximize their production. Plus their combined experience behind the plate would be invaluable for the Sox pitching staff.

As always we'll see.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Votto Named NL MVP

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto was named the National League Most Valuable Player.

Votto received 31 out of 32 first place votes. The only other first place vote went to St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols who had won the last two NL MVP Awards.

Votto led the Reds to their first playoff appearance in 15 years. He hit .324 with 37 homeruns and 113 RBI.

What makes Votto's MVP campaign all the more remarkable was that he missed part of the 2009 season battling depression.

A native of Toronto, Votto becomes only the third Canadian to win an MVP. Larry Walker won the NL MVP for the Colorado Rockies in 1997 and in 2006 Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau won the AL MVP.

At 27, Votto is entering the prime of his career. This MVP might not be his last.

Mets Name Collins as New Manager

The New York Mets have named Terry Collins their new manager.

Collins has previous big league managerial experience with the Houston Astros (1994-1996) and the Anaheim Angels (1997-1999). Although he has not managed in the bigs for more than a decade he did manage in Japan for a couple of seasons and also managed Team China in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Collins spent the 2010 season as the Mets minor league field co-ordinator.

It's a gamble. I don't think it will pay dividends in 2011 but it could yield fruit in 2012.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Laurie "Bambi" Bembenek, 1958-2010. R.I.P.

Laurie "Bambi" Bembenek, a former Milwaukee police officer convicted of murder, died yesterday of liver and kidney failure. She was 52.

In 1982, Bembenek was convicted of the murder of Christine Schultz, the ex-wife of Milwaukee police detective Fred Schultz to whom Bembenek was married. Her conviction, however, had always been a source of controversy. She was nicknamed "Bambi" because of her brief stint as a Playboy bunny. A song, "Run, Bambi, Run" was written in her honor.

In the summer of 1990, Bembenek escaped from prison with the help of her boyfriend Nick Gugliatto and ended up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. In fact, they lived half a block from my family's house. Of course, I did not know this until they had been arrested.

Before you knew it, there was a van from A Current Affair on our block. In fact, they stopped my brother Micah and his friend Dave Azzolini (they would later play together in the Canadian indie rock band The Golden Dogs) and shot video of them walking down past Bembenek's house.

As for me, I had met Bembenek during her stay in Thunder Bay although I obviously did not appreciate the significance of who she was at the time. It was while I was canvassing for the NDP during the 1990 Ontario election. The only reason I remember having spoken to her was that she told me she was American and was thus not eligible to vote.

Like in Milwaukee, Bembenek had developed a sympathetic following in Thunder Bay. She had worked as a waitress in a restaurant near City Hall and I remember the owner publicly coming to her defense. Bembenek later applied for refugee status in Canada. While this did not come to pass, the Canadian government told authorities in Wisconsin they wanted Bembenek's case reviewed before they agreed to extradite her. Bembenek's case was reviewed and she was granted a new trial in 1992. However, instead of going through with the trial, Bembenek pled no contest, sentenced to ten years probation and was released from prison.

In 1993, a made for TV movie about Bembenek was released starring Tatum O'Neal. Let's just say the Thunder Bay depicted in that movie bore no resemblance to the Thunder Bay where I grew up.

Bembenek would live out the remainder of her life in Oregon. She unsuccessfully tried to have her conviction overturned. In recent years, Bembenek had fallen on hard times. In a bizarre incident in 2002, she jumped out of a hotel window after staff on the Dr. Phil show had restricted her movements. She injured her foot so badly it had to be amputated.

Here's Bembenek on Oprah in the early 1990's.

Great profile of Ward Connerly and his work on Arizona's Prop. 107 in City Journal

Some interesting information about Ward Connerly in this revealing profile piece. He's certainly not the typical right-winger the left stereotypes him as.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Boxer Likens U.S. to Iran, N. Korea, Pakistan Over DADT

Recently re-elected California Senator Barbara Boxer has compared the United States to Iran, North Korea and Pakistan because of its policy to not allow gays to serve openly in the military.

During a press conference with Senator Joe Lieberman, Boxer said, "We now stand - with this rule - with countries like Iran, North Korea and Pakistan in banning gays and lesbians from military service."

Um, "don't ask, don't tell" was a policy initiated during the Clinton Administration. Is Boxer seriously comparing the Clinton White House to two totalitarian countries and one country where the military is the only thing that works?

But I guess the people of California get the representation they deserve.

Pat Burns, 1952-2010. R.I.P.

Legendary NHL coach Pat Burns has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

Burns served as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils. In his first year as a coach, the Canadiens reached the Stanley Cup Finals. In 14 seasons as a coach, Burns' teams made the playoffs eleven times. Burns reached the pinacle of his success in 2003 when the Devils won the Stanley Cup. Burns finished his career with 501 wins as an NHL coach.

However, Burns would be diagnosed with cancer the following year bringing his coaching career to a premature end. There was an effort to get Burns into the NHL Hall of Fame but this was not successful. This is a shame as Burns ranks 11th on the all-time list of NHL coaches with the most wins. If not for his health, Burns certainly had a shot at being one of the top five winningest coaches in NHL history.

The greatness of Pat Burns is probably one of the few things Canadiens and Maple Leafs fan can agree on.

When My Dad Met Stan the Man

Tomorrow, St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan "The Man" Musial turns 90.

Check out Larry Thornberry's article on Musial at The American Spectator.

When my father was a teenager he had the opportunity to meet Musial at the Polo Grounds. You can check out my account of this meeting at The AmSpec Blog.

King Felix Crowned AL Cy Young Winner

On Thursday, Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young Award despite posting a won loss record of 13-12. Last year, Hernandez posted a 19-5 record and finished runner up in the Cy Young balloting to Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals.

But what earned Hernandez his first Cy Young was leading the AL in innings pitched and ERA and finishing second in strikeouts. It also must be noted that the Mariners offense was pitiful. They scored only 513 runs in 2010. To put that number into perspective the New York Yankees scored nearly 350 more runs than the Mariners. Had the Mariners scored a few more runs he might have been closer to his 19-5 mark of 2009.

Still, twenty years ago it would have been inconceivable that a starting pitcher with only 13 wins over a full season would have a chance at winning the Cy Young. In 1990, Bob Welch of the Oakland Athletics won 27 games en route to his only Cy Young. How pitching has changed.

Thoughts on Bud Black & Ron Gardenhire

A few days ago, Bud Black and Ron Gardenhire were named NL and AL Managers of the Year.

Winning NL Manager of the Year has to be bittersweet for Black. After all, the San Diego Padres led the NL West for nearly the entire season only to collapse in late August and early September. The Padres were overtaken by the San Francisco Giants who got a ticker tape parade. Still, the Padres did much better than anyone could have expected in 2010.

As for Gardenhire, this honor was long overdue. Gardenhire led the Minnesota Twins to their sixth AL Central divisional title in nine years. Well, the day after Gardenhire won the award, the Twins extended Gardenhire's contract through 2013.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Outrageous new TSA regulations requiring invasive private body part patdowns, airport scanners peering through clothing

The TSA is out of control under the Obama administration, and hypocritically, where is the left to protest? The protests against these invasive new searches of airplane travelers are mainly coming from a few Republican Congressman. The TSA is aggressively implementing airport scanners that see your genitals through your clothing at airport after airport. If you refuse them, or set off the metal detector, the TSA requires you to take a more thorough version of the patdown. This photo was taken by the Denver Post, of a man undergoing an invasive patdown of his genitals. This is outrageous, and as strongly as I feel about fighting terrorism, there has to be a better way than this.

The US Travel Association has put up a website to deal with the TSA's aggressive searches after receiving more than 1000 unsolicited complaints about the recent level of increased TSA searches. Facebook - and Twitter channel to use is #travelvoice.

The photos below are from TSA scanners:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It Could Get Uggla Out There

The Florida Marlins have traded second baseman Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves for infielder Omar Infante and left handed reliever Mike Dunn.

In 2010, Uggla hit a career high .287 with 33 homeruns and 105 RBI. Uggla has hit 30 or more homeruns in each of the last four seasons. The Braves need a right-handed power hitter to protect Jason Heyward and Brian McCann in the lineup. So I guess we won't be seeing Martin Prado at second base in 2011. Nor Brooks Conrad.

Last week, Uggla had turned down a four-year contract extension from the Marlins worth $48 million. So the Marlins had little choice but to trade Uggla rather than lose him as a free agent. In return, they get Infante who made the 2010 NL All-Star team as a utility player. Infante's .321 batting average was third best in the NL this season. Meanwhile, Dunn is a hard throwing southpaw who has control problems walking 17 batters in 19 innings. However, he did keep his ERA under 2.00. The Marlins are shoring the left side of their bullpen as they also recently acquired Dustin Richardson from the Boston Red Sox. Overall, I think the trade will help both ballclubs.

Rumor has it that the Marlins are on the verge of signing free agent catcher John Buck who had a career year with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010. The Marlins have been very aggressive this off-season and are looking to compete with the Phillies and Braves next season. With Uggla now in Atlanta look for fans in South Florida to be motivated to show up to boo Uggla when the Braves visit Miami. It could get Uggla out there.

Tina Fey Still Isn't Funny

When the Kennedy Center announced it was bestowing the Mark Twain Prize to Tina Fey last June, I made the case she wasn't funny.

She was given the award on November 9th and PBS broadcast the ceremony on Sunday night. Needless to say, I didn't watch the proceedings. I was too busy watching Sarah Palin on TLC. Evidently I wasn't the only one.

As it turns out, Ms. Fey had some choice words for the former Alaska Governor, although they weren't included in the broadcast:

And, you know, politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women - except, of course - those who will end up, you know, like, paying for their own rape 'kit 'n stuff. But for everybody else, it's a win-win. Unless you're a gay woman who wants to marry her partner of 20 years - whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know - actually, I take it back. The whole thing's a disaster.

Well, what do you know? Tina Fey still isn't funny.

Halladay Wins NL Cy Young

To the surprise of no one, Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay won the 2010 NL Cy Young Award.

Halladay won the vote unamiously.

At the All-Star Break, Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies was the odds on favorite. At the All-Star Break, Jimenez was 15-1. However, Jimenez was only 4-7 in the second half.

Halladay led the NL in wins, innings pitched, complete games and shutouts. Not to mention that perfect game.

Of course, the vote took place before he threw a no-hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds.

It is the second time Halladay has been bestowed with a Cy Young. He won the AL Cy Young while a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2003.

When Halladay participated in the legends parade in New York City before the 2008 All-Star Game my father saw Halladay and told him he was the best pitcher in baseball. Now everyone knows it.

Feliz & Posey Named Rookies of the Year

Yesterday, Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey were named 2010 AL and NL Rookie of the Year.

Of course, Feliz and Posey faced off in the World Series. Yet it is worth noting that the vote was conducted the day after the regular season well before anyone knew the Rangers and Giants would square off.

I am in full agreement with both selections. Early in the season it appeared that Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson and Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward were shoo ins but both Feliz and Posey came on strong.

This marks the second straight year a closer has won AL Rookie honors. In 2009, Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey got the nod.

On the surface, Posey's overall numbers weren't as good as those of Heyward it is worth remembering that Heyward broke with the Braves on opening day while Posey didn't get called up until June. Posey had more than a hundred fewer at bats than Heyward. If Posey had a comparable number of at bats his offensive production would have surely been better than that of Heyward. Besides catching is a far more demanding position especially when you have to handle a pitching staff that is as young as Posey himself.

It will be interesting to see what Posey and Feliz do for an encore.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tonight on our KKNT Alexander & Goldman Show: medical marijuana, Dodd-Frank bill & entrepreneur gender gap

Tonight on our KKNT Alexander and Goldman Show we will be discussing Prop. 203, medical marijuana, which looks like it will get enough votes to pass in Arizona, the Chris Dodd/Barney Frank financial legislation, and the gender gap among entrepreneurs. Mark and I disagree on plenty here! Hopefully we'll get to some other topics as well. Listen live at Call in number is 602.508.0960.

Aung San Suu Kyi is Free - For Now

I am delighted that the Burmese military junta has seen fit to release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

But how long will the junta's benevolence last?

Let us not forget that Suu Kyi was twice previously released from house arrest only to be placed back into detention. After spending nearly six years under house arrest, Suu Kyi was released in July 1995 and remained free for more than five years until she was detained in September 2000. Suu Kyi was released again in May 2002 but was re-arrested a year later and would remain in captivity until this morning.

As of now the conditions of Suu Kyi's release are unknown. If Suu Kyi opts to travel abroad will she be allowed to return to Burma? During her previous stints of "freedom", the military junta has made it clear that she would not be permitted to re-enter the country if she left.

Life in a totalitarian state is arbitrary and capricious. While we should rejoice in Suu Kyi's release we must also recognize that as long as the military junta remains she, as well as the people of Burma, will never truly be free.

Tony Blair's Israel Problem

I have long admired Tony Blair for his courage in standing by the US in the matter of the Iraq War, for his tenacity in not allowing Labor to undue most of the wise economic policies initiated by Margaret Thatcher, and for his grace in not abandoning his religious beliefs at the door of 10 Downing Street. But those stellar qualities were not enough to prevent him from making a morally obtuse comment in his column in November 9's Wall Street Journal ("Making Muslin Integration Work" -- go to
if you are a WSJ subscriber). He bemoans the tendency of Muslims to conflate unjustifiable sentiments against the West with "justifiable sentiments [such as] anxiety about injustice to Palestinians, dissent over military action in Afghanistan or Iraq, anger about Kashmir or Chechnya,..." Thus, according to Mr. Blair, the prime legitimate beef that Muslims have with the West is the "Palestinian problem." Unspoken, but self-evident, is that Israel -- a Western outpost -- is the main source of Muslim discontent. So, more than the American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, more than the fact that in science, the arts, business, and just about any other major human endeavor, the West's accomplishments have dwarfed any Muslim contribution to the world, more than any of those irritants, the fact that a few Jews have set up shop on a tiny portion of "Muslim lands" is the main source of unhappiness of Blair's poor Muslims. I don't know which is worse -- Tony's reflexive anti-Israel position or his obsequious deference to Muslim sensitivities. And he is supposed to be an honest broker between Israel and her Muslim enemies? Fat chance!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dave Niehaus, 1935-2010. R.I.P.

Dave Niehaus, the longtime voice of the Seattle Mariners, died today of a heart attack. He was 75.

Niehaus was the radio and television voice of the Mariners from their inception in 1977. Until today, he was the Mariners' only original employee left on their payroll. In 2008, the Baseball Hall of Fame honored with the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting.

My favorite Niehaus call was when Ichiro Suzuki hit a walk off homerun off Yankee legend Mariano Rivera in September 2009. I saw the Yankee broadcast of that game but nothing beats Niehaus shouting, "fly, fly away" with the infectious enthuasiam of a little boy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Obama Casts Stones at Israel in Indonesia

You can read my new article on the IC main page about President Obama, the meaning and interpretations of jihad and the question of whether he will condemn the stoning law in Indonesia's Aceh province.

Well, today we got a reminder of where President Obama's thinking is on these matters. Instead of criticizing the application of sharia law in Indonesia he once again chided the construction of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. By making a point of criticizing Israel in a Muslim country, Obama advances the relentless campaign to delegitimize the world's only Jewish state. It is an act beneath the President of the United States.

Conan Returns

I saw the debut of Conan on TBS last night.

Good to see him back on late night television where he belongs.

I then watched a few minutes of Lopez. Not very funny.

The problem with most comedians like George Lopez is that when they make a joke the audience respond applauds in agreement rather than with laughter.

With Conan, I actually felt laughter in my belly.

I hope Conan conquers Jon Stewart.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Olbermann Returns to Air on Tuesday

Well, that was quick.

MSNBC has reconsidered its decision to suspend Keith Olbermann and he will return to Countdown on Tuesday night.

Somehow I don't think Olbermann will thank the conservatives who stuck up for him. I am inclined to think Olbermann will instead bash Fox News as Rachel Maddow did on Friday night in reaction to his suspension.

Nevertheless, I would rather have Olbermann on MSNBC than the MLB Network.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Did Bush Diss Palin?

Did former President George W. Bush state that Sarah Palin was unqualified to be President?

The New York Daily News cites an anonymous GOP source who claims Bush didn't like John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. The source said, "Naming Palin makes Bush think less of McCain as a man."

Well, Bush and McCain weren't exactly golf buddies. If those are an accurate reflection of his views then it would seem they are directed more at McCain than at Palin.

Still, I wonder if Bush will publicly deny the claim.

Bush has done an interview with Oprah which will air later this week when his book comes out. Oprah asked Bush about Palin's presidential prospects and he declined to comment.

I'm interested to see if Bill O'Reilly will ask Tonya Reiman will comment on Bush's body language in response to Oprah's Palin question.

Now for all anyone knows the anonymous GOP source has an axe to grind against Palin and using the former President to justify his or her animus.

If on the other hand Bush isn't fond of Palin that actually might help her. There are a lot of Tea Party activists who are less than enamored with Bush's economic and fiscal policies. There are also a lot of people outside the Tea Party movement who don't think much of Bush's presidency. If they perceive that Bush doesn't like Palin then they might be inclined to give Palin a second look.

GOP Gains Amongst Gay Voters

According to a FOX News national exit poll, 31% of gay voters pulled the lever for Republican candidates in Tuesday's mid-term election.

That is up from a total of 19% in the 2008 elections.

When you consider that this election revolved around the economy it should come as no surprise Republicans would improve their performance amongst nearly every constituency in the country.

Gay rights activists have also been disappointed with the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress over the failure to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and DOMA as well as over federal AIDS funding. The fact that there were no major ballot initiatives on gay marriage also probably helped matters.

Over the years, I have come across a number of gay people who sympathize with the GOP on economic and foreign policy matters. But what turned them off was their stance on social issues. It's understandable. Why would anyone for a candidate who tells them that they are immoral or irresponsible? If Carl Palladino had just stuck to talking about the economy the gubernatorial race in New York would have been far more competitive.

It will be interesting to see how Republicans do with gay voters over the next two decades. If you were born after 1980 chances are you are going to be more sympathetic to gay rights than if you were born after 1960 and certainly after 1940. While it might be a stretch to argue that a majority of gay voters will support Republicans in twenty years time I do believe that by 2030 the opposition to gay marriage within the GOP will have been marginalized.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jill Clayburgh, 1944-2010. R.I.P.

Actress Jill Clayburgh died this morning after a long battle with leukemia. She was 66.

Clayburgh's career peak occurred in the late 1970s when appeared in movies like Silver Streak, An Unmarried Woman, Semi-Tough and Starting Over. In the latter two movies she was paired with Burt Reynolds. Clayburgh received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress for An Unmarried Woman and Starting Over.

Although fewer movie roles came her way in recent years she was able to land roles on Broadway and on television in shows such as Ally McBeal and more recently Dirty Sexy Money.

Clayburgh's last onscreen role was in the forthcoming film Love and Other Drugs starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway which is due to be released later this month.

Thoughts on Keith Olbermann

I am struck by the reaction to MSNBC's decision to indefinitely suspend Keith Olbermann for giving three Democratic Party candidates campaign contributions.

Conservatives are defending Olbermann while liberals are saying MSNBC made the right decision. Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard calls Olbermann's suspension "ludicrous." Yet TV critic David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun argues MSNBC had no other alternative but to take disciplinary action against Olbermann.

My take? I am sure MSNBC President Phil Griffin is shocked, shocked to find out that Keith Olbermann has made campaign contributions to Democratic Party candidates.

But in light of the impending merger between Comcast and NBC one must also wonder if Olbermann's suspension is only the beginning of a big shake up to come at MSNBC.

Pelosi Will Run for House Minority Leader

I hope Pelosi wins. If she does she will be an albatross around President Obama's neck.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When Did Obama Say Jobs Weren't Coming Back?

I came across this post-mortem of the mid-term elections by Mary Mitchell of The Chicago Sun-Times.

It's the kind of typical left-wing blather one might expect. Mitchell calls anyone with the temerity to disagree with President Obama "a fear-monger."

But that's not what caught my attention. Take note of this passage:

I suppose that the president should not have revamped the health-care system, propped up the auto and banking industries and reined in Wall Street before coming up with a miracle that would have put the vast majority of those now unemployed back to work.

Apparently, two years ago, many of us were not listening.

During his campaign for the White House, Obama told Americans a cold-hearted truth that went in one ear and out the other:

Many of the jobs that have disappeared are not coming back.

Now as someone who paid close attention to Obama's campaign and attended one of his rallies in New Hampshire I cannot recall him ever telling his audiences that jobs have disappeared and aren't coming back. Frankly, I'm not sure how that would have fit into the whole hope and change narrative.

Obama certainly didn't say jobs weren't coming back when he announced he was running for President. Nor did Obama say jobs weren't coming back when he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination. That, of course, was the speech he made with the Greek columns as a backdrop. Not only did Obama not tell the American electorate jobs weren't coming back he spoke about investing $150 billion in affordable, renewable energy over the following decade. Obama called his plan "an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced."

If none of us were listening to Barack Obama's dire warnings about jobs it is because he never gave them. So I don't know what Mary Mitchell speaks of when she evokes Obama as this cautious, sober figure he's never been.

Bush & Kanye Revisited

Details of former President George W. Bush's memoir have been leaked.

The leak getting the most attention is that revelation that Bush felt the low point of his Presidency was getting dissed by Kanye West when the hip hop superstar claimed that Bush "doesn't care about black people" in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

For his part, West regrets the incident stating "we’re all quick to pull a race card in America." Well, I don't know about all of us. But at least West went on to say he could connect with the 43rd President "on a humanitarian level."

Predictably, the mainstream media are reacting to Bush's revelation with their typical smugness. Ujala Seghal of Business Insider writes, "The "all-time low" of George W. Bush's presidency was not the Iraq War, 9/11, or the economic meltdown of 2008....Actually, it was being called a "racist" by Kanye West. Seriously."

Except that isn't what Bush said. Bush told Matt Lauer on Today "it was one of the most disgusting moments in my Presidency."

I would have to agree with Bush. When Kanye said Bush didn't care about black people I think it was pretty clear he was insinuating that Bush harbored racist sentiments. Outside of being accused of murder or rape, accusing someone of racism is about the worst thing you can say about a person.

With that in mind, here's what I wrote about the whole Bush-Kanye row in September 2005.