Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Interview with Frank Scaturro for NY Congress

Canada Wins Gold in Men's Hockey in OT

The Vancouver Olympics have ended in a spectacular manner for Canada.

The Canadian Men's Hockey team defeated the United States 3-2 in OT on a goal by the NHL's premier player Sidney Crosby. The goal comes less than a year after Crosby got the game winning goal in the Stanley Cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The win gave Canada its 14th gold medal which was top for the Vancouver Olympics. Canada finished third overall in the Olympic standings with 26 medals behind the United States and Germany.

Canada came within 24 seconds of winning the game in regulation but Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils tied the score. If Canada had lost to the United States on Canadian soil it would have been a source of wounded pride for years to come. Three hundred million Americans aren't going to wake up angry tomorrow morning because their team lost the gold medal game to Canada. Believe me it would have been much different story north of the border. Let's also remember that Canada lost to the United States 5-3 exactly one week ago. Losing to the U.S. on Canadian soil once would have been bad enough but to lose twice with the gold medal on the line would have been embarrassing. It would have overshadowed the gold medal won by the Canadian Women's Hockey team against the United States on Thursday.

Instead, Canada ends the Olympics in golden triumph.

1-year anniversary of Tea Parties

Happy Birthday Fellow Tea Party Activists!

It was exactly one year ago today - February 27th - that the first 'organized' round of tea parties took place across America. And look how far we've come in just one year!

*The government-run heath care push has been stalled and/or stopped countless times. Obama, Pelosi and Reid have put forth deadline-after-deadline and been forced to walk away sheepishly with their tail between their legs for each failure to advance their push towards socialized medicine.

*Scott Brown's historic victory over the liberal Democrat establishment in Massachusetts.

*Stopping Congress - thus far - from forcing through the Big Government, junk-science, anti-capitalism fiasco known as Cap-And-Trade.

*The forced resignations of some of Obama's most radical "czars" including most notably his "Green Jobs Czar," Van Jones.

*The stunning election results in the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia.

*The giant "Townhall" pushback where politicians were finally confronted about their failures, their out-of-control deficit-spending, and big-government programs and push towards a more socialized economy.

*The forced resignations of prominent politicians who were under fire from the tea party movement and in jeopardy of losing their seats - such as Senators Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) and Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut).

*Thousands of tea party rallies across America, attracting millions of participants, to challenge the failed political establishments in both the Republican & Democrat parties. Notable highlights including the April 15, 2009 "Tax Day Tea Parties," the series of Tea Party Express rallies & cross-country tours, and the 9/12 mass tea party rally in Washington, D.C.

*A victory over the Republican political establishment that nominated a liberal, big-government "RINO" (Republican In Name Only), Dede Scozzafava for Congress in the NY-23 Special Election. The tea party movement mobilized behind Conservative Doug Hoffman, forcing the GOP to pull their support for their own nominee (Scozzafava), and catapulting a little-known candidate into a national figure who nearly beat the political machines of both the Republican & Democrat parties.

And that's just a partial list of some of the tea party movement's accomplishments in one year.

Last week, RNC Chairman Michael Steele sat down with a few dozen tea party activists and held a 4-hour long "summit" to hear the grievances of tea party supporters.

That event in itself should speak volumes about the power of this movement. A movement born from citizen activism just one-year ago held court with a national party chair for 4-hours, because the voices of the people in this movement proved so powerful that they could not be ignored.

As Governor Palin recently said in her speech at the Tea Party Nation's convention:

"The tea party movement is not a top-down operation, it is a ground-up call-to-action that is forcing both partiesto change the way they do business and that's beautiful! This is about the people!" [Emphasis added]

And yes - both sides are paying attention.

The San Francisco Chronicle (not exactly known as a bastion of right-wing political propaganda) published an article on January 19th of this year - yes exactly one year ago after Rick Santelli's historic 'tea party' rant on CNBC - that included a mea culpa from none other than liberal San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom, calling for Democrats to take the tea party movement seriously:

Regardless of the outcome ... this should be a gigantic wake-up call to the Democratic Party - that we're not connecting with the needs, the aspirations and the desires of real people right now," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

"We better get our act together - and quickly," Newsom said. Voters "are so angry. They don't feel that we're paying attention to their needs, in terms of their jobs, and what's going on at the grassroots, in their neighborhoods."

And we must remember, it was that famous rant by CNBC's Rick Santelli that inspired those first rounds of organized tea parties. Millions of Americans have now heard and seen the inspirational video of Santelli, on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, speaking plainly and forcefully for free market principles that reward hard work and success, and not government-mandated redistribution of wealth.

Motivated to follow Santell's call-to-arms, we posted his 'rant' on our blog at the Our Country Deserves Better MySpace page and attended the February 27th tea party rally in Sacramento, California that was organized by the local Free Republic chapter.

From that point forward we here at the Tea Party Express plunged head-first into the tea party movement, helping to promote rallies, organize events, support good candidates, oppose bad candidates, and do all we can to help take our country back!

We've been proud to share Lloyd Marcus's "American Tea Party Anthem" with the world. We came across the Rivoli Revue's "A Bailout Song" and began promoting that too.

Through it all, we here at the Tea Party Express have always approached this movement with a sense of joy and positive energy. That strikes some in the media as odd - they look at us and see only anger and frustration. And yes, we are angry at the failures of our leaders. And yes, we are frustrated at how defiant they have been to We The People.

But we have chosen to approach this movement by celebrating the greatness of America. We celebrate the freedom we have to question our government. We celebrate the freedom of speech and right to assemble. We celebrate the principles our nation was founded on as extolled by the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

And, yes, we proudly, loudly and enthusiastically celebrate the freedom to organize politically so as to defeat those failed Big Government politicians and replace them with constitutional conservatives!

There are many different groups, leaders and activists within this movement. That is a sign of strength, not weakness, as our opponents mistakenly allege. Each of the groups we have worked with in this movement have brought their own talents and abilities to the table.

*The Tea Party Patriots have assembled a network of local tea party groups that is unrivaled.

*The American Liberty Alliance has a greater sense of tech-savvy and knowledge of online activism than just about any other group in this movement.

*The National Precinct Alliance has worked steadfastly to change the political parties from within, by taking over the local structure of the political parties.

*The fine folks at ResistNet have empowered their activists to achieve success from direct action and drills better than any other group.

*Our friends at Free Republic helped launch this movement and have used their own network to help boost the tea party movement.

*The team at Smart Girl Politics have engaged in some of the best work to get patriots involved in voter registration drives.

*The team at FreedomWorks organized the historic 9/12 march and have helped to make the GOP establishment take the tea party movement seriously in a way few others have been able to do.

*The team at American Majority have conducted the most comprehensive series of candidate and activist training seminars and workshops.

*The group at the Tea Party Nation put together the first national conference for tea party activists and secured the support of Gov. Sarah Palin who helped bring a huge round of media coverage for the tea party movement.

*The American Grassroots Coalition has unleashed a tidal wave of phone calls, emails and FAXes to Members of Congress, and helped to give voice to our movement to those in Congress who are supposed to represent us.

And again, that's just part of the story. There are so many other groups and individuals (from the National Tax Limitation Committee, to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, to the National Taxpayers Union and Club for Growth, to Americans for Prosperity and so many more) who have helped to propel this movement forward.

Friends, our strength is in our numbers. We all have different styles, different strategies and different approaches. And we're going to disagree with one another in this movement at times. That's all good! Those who fear this tea party movement - and what it might mean to their own hold on power or how it might threaten their own more liberal ideological movements - will try to exploit our differences at times.

But what our critics fail to understand is that try however hard they might, they will never be able to silence the growing majority in this country who recognize that our country is off-track, and that we've lost our ways from the American ideals that our great nation was founded on.

We here at the Tea Party Express will continue our efforts, focused on what *we* can bring to the table and what we do best: our bus tours, rallies, Action Alerts, petition drives and most importantly our ability to rally hundreds of thousands of Americans behind political campaigns to take our country back!

Happy Birthday fellow tea party activists. You all have so much worth celebrating in your first year of existence! Let us work hard to make our 2nd year an even bigger success!

Friday, February 26, 2010

NY Governor's Race Now Cuomo's to Lose

With David Paterson announcing today he will not seek election in his own right as Governor of New York this fall the gubernatorial election in the Empire State is Andrew Cuomo's to lose despite the fact he has not announced his candidacy.

Cuomo is currently New York's Attorney General. That helped Eliot Spitzer get into office but it didn't help him stay there. However, the Cuomo name still does have some cache amongst New Yorkers who elected his father Mario governor thrice before losing to George Pataki in 1994.

Assuming Cuomo does run he will likely do so against former Congressman Rick Lazio who is best known for being the GOP consolation prize in the 2000 New York Senate race against Hillary Clinton after Rudy Giuliani withdrew because of prostate cancer. Believe me when I was in New York City ten years ago everyone wanted to see Hillary vs. Rudy. In 2008 not so much.

Lazio got trounced by Hillary and at this point it would appear that he would get trounced by Cuomo even in a fall election that doesn't look good for Democrats. A Sienna College poll has Lazio polling at 26% compared to a whopping 63% for Cuomo. But the election is more than eight months from now. Only fifteen days before the miracle in Massachusetts, a Rasmussen poll had Martha Coakley leading Scott Brown by 19 points. Lazio does have the luxury of time. On the other hand, I'm not sure Rick Lazio is Scott Brown.

Another Study Claims Conservatives Are Dumb

I just came across this article by John Cloud in Time regarding a paper written by Satoshi Kanazawa, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the London School of Economics which makes the claim there is a correlation between liberalism and intelligence.

All things considered, Cloud writes a reasonable article. It must be remembered he wrote the article on Ann Coulter when she appeared on the cover of Time in April 2005 and was less than amused with the criticism he received from liberals over it. One of the studies cited by Kanazawa claims that adolescents who identify themselves as liberal have a far higher IQ than their conservative counterparts. Cloud pointedly asks, "Do kids really know what it means to be liberal?" He could also ask academic researchers if they really know what it means to be intelligent?

Quite frankly I have no use for these studies. It kind of reminds me of those studies which argue that conservatives are mentally ill. Nor do I like studies that assert liberals are mentally ill as was the case when I critiqued Dr. Lyle Rossiter's book The Liberal Mind a couple of years back.
I far prefer evaluating people as individuals rather than to classify them into some narrow group I might like or dislike. It makes life so much more enriching.

MLB Players Speak Out Against Clubhouse Gun Ban

Baltimore Orioles DH Luke Scott has spoken against MLB's ban on guns in the clubhouse although he does plan to abide by the edict.

The ban actually took effect in the middle of last season after the incident involving former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress in which he accidentally shot himself in a New York City nightclub. Burress was subsequently charged with two counts of illegal gun possession and reckless endangerment and was sentenced to two years in prison following a plea agreement. However, MLB has sent reminders to each player and has signs posted in every MLB clubhouse.

"I don't think that everyone else should be pay for the mistakes of a few," said Scott who is entering his third season with the Orioles. I found this statement from Scott particularly interesting:

We have good security. It's hard to get in here. Barring a tactical entry where terrorists come in and hold us hostage, that's about the only thing that could possibly warrant me carrying a gun in the clubhouse. That's highly unlikely and I admit that. But my personal belief is I don't want to suffer from the poor choices of others.

Now I know MLB instituted the move not only in response to the Burress situation but what occurred between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton over a gambling debt. They pulled guns on each other in the Washington Wizards clubhouse. As it turned out they were unloaded but it was a stupid thing to have done. After all I'm sure other personnel in the clubhouse might not have been aware of the fact they were unloaded at the time. Both Arenas and Crittenton were suspended for the balance of the season by NBA Commissioner David Stern.

I'm sure their lawyers told them that if anyone be it player or non-player personnel were to get injured or killed in the clubhouse it would make the Orioles and all other MLB teams suspectible to a civil lawsuit. One can certainly make an argument for such a restriction on those grounds.

But it is well worth remembering that the incident involving Burress did not occur at the Meadowlands. It happened off the field. So why should a responsible gun owner like Scott have his liberties diminished because of something that happened at a New York City nightclub? As for Arenas/Crittenton I wonder how often in the history of professional sports that has happened? I'm sure not enough to warrant this kind of ban.

Now Scott isn't the only MLB player who objects to this rule. St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Ryan Franklin, who is an avid hunter, also expressed his displeasure. He echoed Scott's sentiments stating that "a few guys screwed it up for everybody." Franklin has been around firearms since his youth:

If you grew up around it, being in the outdoors and stuff, I was taught as a young kid how to respect firearms. First of all, you don't get stupid with it. Always treat a gun like it's loaded. That's what I taught my son and daughters. There's a place for them.

However, it seems MLB doesn't believe its players are capable of behaving like responsible adults.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy 60th Birthday, Emitt Rhodes!!!

Up until a few months ago I was in the dark about Emitt Rhodes.

The fact that I am no longer in that state is an indication of the greatness of YouTube.

I use YouTube as a device to listen to music rather than to watch videos.

Not only can I listen old songs I haven't heard in years I can also discover the work of artists I never knew existed. Enter Emitt Rhodes.

As a teenager, Rhodes was a member of a short lived pop group called The Merry Go Round. One of the songs Rhodes wrote for that group was a song called "Time Will Show The Wiser." It was later recorded by Fairport Convention, a British folk-rock group whose original male lead singer was Iain Matthews. If you are familiar with my Amelia Earhart poetry you will know that it was Matthews' music that spurred me to write it. So too did Matthews lead me to Emitt Rhodes.

After leaving The Merry Go Round, Rhodes recorded four solo albums in the early 1970s for the Dunhill label. Dunhill featured such artists as The Mamas & The Papas, The Grass Roots and Three Dog Night. Although he was compared favorably with Paul McCartney, he would not experience the kind of success those aforementioned artists did.

Rhodes signed a six album contract over three years. The problem was Rhodes truly recorded solo albums. He wrote, arranged and produced all the songs. He recorded all the vocals and played all the instruments and did so in a shed on his parents' property. But this kind of creativity did not lend itself to being able to churn out an album every six months. Let us also not forget that Rhodes had to tour constantly as well. This raised the ire of Dunhill who sued Rhodes and withheld his royalties. The acrimony that arose from this dispute has meant Emitt Rhodes has not released an album of new material since 1973.

Now one can fault Rhodes for having signed the contract in the first place. On the other hand, Dunhill set up him for failure and instead of finding a way to work with his creativity they effectively silenced a musical genius. Today, recording artists routinely go three to four years between albums. Who can tell how Rhodes career might have flourished had he been given the room he needed.

But there's a possibility Rhodes will have a second act. He's been at work recording a new album. It'll be out when it is good and ready.

Why is Rhodes making a new album now? Possibly because of a documentary made last year about Rhodes by Italian filmmaker Cosimo Messeri called The One Man Beatles.

Well, today is Emitt Rhodes' 60th birthday and I thought I'd share some of his songs with you. The first three songs are from his 1970 self-titled debut album - "With My Face On The Floor", "You Take The Dark Out Of The Night" and "You Should Be Ashamed".

But my favorite of all is "Golden Child Of God." It appears on his follow up album Mirror. When I couldn't find it on YouTube I asked beatlefan64 if he or she could post it. I must say that beatlefan64 was more than obliging. YouTube might be the greatest online innovation of the 21st century.

Even if Emitt Rhodes never releases another album the quality of his music will stand the test of time. Happy Birthday Emitt!!!

Thoughts on the Tragedy at Sea World

As you probably know by now an orca whale at Sea World in Orlando, Florida killed its trainer, Dawn Brancheau yesterday in front of horrified spectators.

Kate Santich of The Orlando Sentinel writes the tragedy "is a sobering reminder of why creatures as large and majestic as killer whales simply should not live in captivity."

But is it really that simple?

On February 24, 2007 (exactly three years to the date before Brancheau's death), a female zookeeper at the Denver Zoo named Ashlee Pfaff was killed by a jaguar.

One could make the same argument that jaguars should be exhibited in zoos.

Now I don't doubt there are drawbacks in keeping animals in captivity. But this assumes there aren't risk to animals being kept in the wild namely from poachers.

One significant difference between the two incidents is that the jaguar (who was named after former President George W. Bush) had no history of violence. Brancheau's death marks the third time that the orca whale named Tilikum had caused the death of a person. One could make the case that the continued presence of Tilikum constituted an unreasonable safety risk to the public and to staff at Sea World and thus should have been either released back into the wild or placed in safer captivity.

Obviously I cannot speak for Dawn Brancheau. But given that working with orcas was her "dream job" I think it is reasonable to believe she knew the dangers involved. It is also reasonable to believe that the possibility of being on the wrong end of those dangers crossed her mind. If that was case it is further reasonable to believe that she would not have wanted her death to be the reason killer whales and other animals are no longer kept in captivity.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dr. David Benke, Teacher of the Year

It could have been another Columbine.

A gunman began shooting students leaving Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, Colorado yesterday afternoon. The school is situated only a few miles away from Columbine High School.

Dr. David Benke, a math teacher, saw the gunman and acted. Without regard to his own life he tackled the gunman and subdued until authorities arrived.

Bruco Eastwood was arrested and has been charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder. Eastwood, who has had a long history of arrests, shot two students one of whom was released from hospital while the other remains in critical condition.

As for Benke, he wishes he could have done more. The expression on his face says it all.

I'm sure the students of Dear Creek Middle School and their families believe their Benke did everything that could have been done.

The Storm at ESPN Over Kornheiser

Tony Kornheiser, co-host of ESPN's PTI, has been suspended by the network for two weeks after he made remarks about the wardrobe of Hannah Storm, an ESPN colleague.

Last Friday, during his ESPN radio show, Kornheiser described Storm's attire as a "horrifying outfit" with "red go-go boots." He went to say her skirt was skirt "way too short for somebody her age" (Storm is 47). The coup de grace came when he said, "She's what I would call a Holden Caulfield fantasy at this point."

Now I could understand Storm not being amused with his comments. Kornheiser subsequently apologized both on air and in person to Storm. I think that should have been sufficient.

Frankly, I'm sure there are those who agree with Kornheiser's opinion about Storm's wardrobe. When I look at the photo I'm thinking, "Who shot the drapes?". Not that I agree with Kornheiser entirely. I happen to think she's gorgeous. If she can wear a short skirt at 47 then more power to her. Of course, if Kornheiser had said Storm looked hot I cannot help but think that would have earned him a suspension as well. Or let's put it another way. Would ESPN have suspended Storm if she had criticized Kornheiser's wardrobe or appearance?

I think ESPN is taking political correctness way too far. I remember when they abruptly fired Harold Reynolds from Baseball Tonight in 2006 due to allegations of sexual harassment. Reynolds sued ESPN and settled out of court for $5 million in 2008. The former Seattle Mariners second baseman is now an analyst for The MLB Network.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Orlando Zapata Tamayo, 1967-2010. R.I.P.

Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo has died as a result of a hunger strike he began back in December 2009. He was only 42.

Zapata was one of the 75 Cuban dissidents jailed by Fidel back in March 2003 shortly after the War in Iraq begun. He was sentenced to 36 years in prison. Initially his sentence was only three years for "disobedience" but increased twelvefold after "acts of defiance" while in prison.

Zapata took these measures not to bring attention to his own plight but that of other Cuban political prisoners. Unfortunately, Zapata is not a cause célèbre amongst limosuine liberals. The only "political prisoners" in Cuba they care about are at Guantanamo Bay.

I cannot imagine being put in the kind of situation where I would be compelled to deny myself sustenance especially in an environment where I would require all of my physical and mental strength. But when one has nothing left to lose men will go to lengths even they had not imagined.

Yet it also illustrates the difference between noble martyrdom and ignoble martyrdom. Zapata sacrificed himself for what he believed to be a greater good. But he didn't take anyone else with him. The burden was his alone. Islamic terrorists by contrast not only sacrifice themselves but take as many people as they possibly can with them including women and children. Most of the people they take with them are those simply going about their business.

But has Zapata died in vain? Will his sacrifice spur other Cuban dissidents into action generating the international support necessary to bring pressure to bear against Raul Castro? Based on precedent, it is more likely that this will not come to pass. Yet often raw nerves are struck when you least expect it.

Aaron "Bleeping" Boone Retires

Aaron Boone officially announced his retirement today ending a 12-year MLB career that saw him play with the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros.

Boone is a third generation MLB player who when he began his career with the Reds in 1997 was a teammate of his older brother Bret. Later he would be managed by his father Bob. His grandfather, Ray played in the big leagues in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. The younger Boone had his best seasons with the Reds in 2002 and 2003. In '03, Boone was named to the NL All-Star team.

But Boone is best remembered for one at bat he had as a member of the New York Yankees. Acquired by the Yankees at the trade deadline in July 2003, Boone had an otherwise indistinguished stint with the Bronx Bombers. But that all changed when Boone hit a Tim Wakefield knuckleball into the left field upper deck in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. The home run put the Yankees into the World Series and sent the Boston Red Sox home hanging their heads. The Red Sox, of course, had a three run lead with one out in the top of the 8th inning when Grady Little decided to leave Pedro Martinez in the game.

Red Sox Nation, who had never paid much attention to Boone as a National Leaguer, began referring to him as Aaron "Bleeping" Boone. OK, it's not bleeping but you get the idea. Boone's blow was softened when the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees the following year en route to their first World Series title since 1918. Still, the name stuck despite the fact he was no longer a Yankee by then.

The Yankees released Boone after he tore a knee ligament in an off season basketball game in violation of his contract. It was the injury to Boone that provided the Yankees with the impetus to acquire Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers. So yes, he will always been known as Aaron "Bleeping" Boone in these parts.

Nonetheless, Boone showed considerable courage last season after undergoing open heart surgery to repair an aortic valve, a condition he had since childhood. Boone returned to the big leagues last August with the Houston Astros less than six months after his surgery. Boone was hitless in 13 at bats with the Astros.

Boone has been hired as an analyst for ESPN. Gabe Lacques of USA Today writes:

(i)f Sox fans dare stray from the friendly confines of NESN or MLB Network, they'll be greeted almost daily by Boone's smiling mug. Think ESPN will replay that 2003 homer much? Our early over/under for the year is 426.

Well, while Boone's blast doesn't get much airplay on NESN the same cannot be said for the MLB Network. In fact, I saw his home run on the MLB Network, oh, last night. Boone's home run was ranked number 8 in the Greatest Home Runs of All-Time on the program Prime 9. Occasionally, the MLB Network reairs that game in its entirety. In fact, the outcome of Game 7 of the ALCS was my sole criticism of the MLB Network on its first anniversary.

Otherwise I wish Aaron Boone well in his future endeavors.

The Overreaction to Scott Brown's Vote

Senator Scott Brown has drawn cries of betrayal after he voted to let Obama's Jobs Bill (a.k.a. The Stimulus, Part II) proceed to the Senate floor. Tammy Bruce writes:

The people of Massachusetts send a message that resonated with the entire nation–we do not like the Democrat agenda and we want the grotesque liberal destruction of this nation, as embodied by the Obama agenda, to be stopped. Voting for another Crap Sandwich is not honoring the conservatism expected of him.

Methinks Ms. Bruce doth protest too much. It's not like Brown hasn't said he wasn't always going to vote with the GOP on every matter. All Brown has done is to permit the bill to come to the floor of the Senate. This doesn't preclude Brown from voting against the bill once it comes up for a final vote.

Conservatives are entitled to disagree with Brown but we ought not pillory Brown on the basis of a single vote. Now if this becomes a pattern over the next couple of years then that is a different matter. But until then I think conservatives would be prudent to reserve judgment on the junior Senator from Massachusetts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Re: The Best of CPAC

Rachel, thank you for providing a first hand account of CPAC 2010.

There are two questions I have for you.

First, you noted your enjoyment of Glenn Beck's speech. What are your thoughts on Bill Bennett's rebuke of Beck's remarks?

Second, what is your reaction to Mike Huckabee's critique of CPAC during his appearance with Geraldo Rivera?

The Best of CPAC

I have been watching some of the featured CPAC speeches online. I liked Rubio, Gingrich and Pence. I really liked Beck. As usual, he was very entertaining, and I particularly appreciated his quip that America needs "less Marx and more Madison." There were many other interesting speakers who enunciated the frustrations that conservatives feel at the radically left administration of Barack Obama, and who also proposed conservative solutions for the problems that Obama is creating and exacerbating. But for my money, the best speaker by far was George Will.

Mr. Will has been at this game for several decades but he has lost none of his insight, humor or droll wit. In a devastatingly clever half hour, he skewered statists, lambasted liberals, pounded progressives and damned the dependency agenda of the Obama administration. I cannot do him justice with selective quotes, but here are a few of my favorites (paraphrased, of course): (i) thanks to one of our nanny-state regulatory agencies, you can now buy a letter opener with "requires safety goggles" stamped on it; (ii) a hysterical Agriculture Department bureaucrat explained to a colleague that he was crestfallen "because his farmer died"; (iii) the Obama administration can imagine a world without the internal combustion engine, but not without Chrysler Corporation; (iv) Democrats encourage envy as social policy, oblivious to the fact that it is the only one of the seven deadly sins that entails not even momentary pleasure for the sinner; (v) VAT is a French word for huge government; and (vi) Americans could honor Jack Kennedy's request to "ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country" by creating a spacious portion of their lives for which the government is not responsible. I urge the reader to go to to view the whole speech.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thoughts on Gordon Brown

A new book on British Prime Minister Gordon Brown alleges that he was so abusive to his staff that he received a reprimand from the head of Britain's civil service. The book End of the Party by Andrew Rawnsley is presently being excerpted in The Observer. For his part, Brown has denied being physically abusive to anyone.

These revelations are both unsurprising and surprising. In the winter and spring of 1995, I was a parliamentary intern in the British House of Commons as part of an exchange program between Carleton University and the University of Leeds. One of the female interns was placed with Gordon Brown who was at that time the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. In plain English, Brown was the opposition critic to what is the equivalent of the Secretary of the Treasury or the Minister of Finance.

Now most interns, especially with MPs of senior rank, are relegated to making coffee and other such things. When a young man subsequently joined his staff as a new intern it was assumed the new guy would be making the coffee. However, Brown intervened and demanded the female intern make the coffee on the grounds that "she's just a girl." Now this young woman didn't suffer fools gladly and let Mr. Brown have it. Apparently she got the better of him.

Long story short. The young woman ended up being assigned far more meaningful work. I recall being in attendance at a gathering of the Fabian Society where he was the featured speaker. He made a point of thanking "my research assistant." This illicited much laughter as the story had made the rounds.

In light of Brown's comment to the young woman fifteen years ago I'm not surprised he would behave in such a way to other people. But what does surprise me is that apparently no one else has saw fit to stand up to him. Could it be it's because he's now Prime Minister? But Prime Minister or not, if you are being treated badly and unjustly there's comes a time when you have to stand your ground. If you do stand firm your adversary will be more inclined to respect you even if he works out of 10 Downing Street.

Damon Signs With Detroit

The Johnny Damon saga is over.

The free agent outfielder has signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Detroit Tigers pending a physical.

The Chicago White Sox appeared to making a run for Damon but yesterday Chisox GM Kenny Williams said they couldn't meet his salary demands. The same was true for the Atlanta Braves.

Damon had been making $13 million a season for the New York Yankees. He wanted to stay at that salary but he's pretty much a one dimensional player and isn't worth that kind of money. In year's past that might not have been an obstacle but even the Yankees have tightened their belts. Even $10 million a season was too rich for the Bronx Bombers who invested in Nick Johnson and Randy Winn with $2.5 million to spare.

I thought Damon might get the kind of deal Bobby Abreu got in Anaheim for $5 million. I'm sure that's what the Chisox and the Braves had in mind and for that matter the Tigers. But I guess the Tigers are really desperate for a leadoff hitter and were willing to shell out more. Yet Abreu can play both offense and defense whereas Damon is best used as a DH. He'll have to adapt his game. I don't think Damon hits 24 home runs in 2010. Not in Comerica Park. The right field line is deeper. I think he'll have to hit more doubles in Detroit.

But even if Damon enjoys a productive season I'm not sure the Tigers will be that good in 2010. They are weak up the middle. Justin Verlander hasn't demonstrated he can win from season to season and Rick Porcello has sophomore jinx written all over him. I also think they gave up on Edwin Jackson way too quickly. I do like Jose Valverde in the bullpen and Austin Jackson will be interesting to watch. Yet somehow I don't think the Tigers will be as good as the Twins or the White Sox this year.

Ken Blackwell & Saul Anuzis at the Victory Solutions lounge at CPAC

Alexander Haig, 1924-2010. R.I.P.

Alexander Haig died today after being admitted to John Hopkins Hospital last month. He was 85.

Haig is best remembered as Ronald Reagan's first Secretary of State. After the attempted assassination of Reagan in March 1981, Haig held a press conference at the White House and said, "I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the vice president." Of course, all that is remembered are the first five words.

It might very well have sealed his fate. Less than 18 months later, Reagan accepted Haig's resignation and was succeeded by George Shultz who would remain in the post for the duration of the Reagan presidency. Haig wanted to succeed Reagan in the Oval Office but his campaign for the GOP nomination in 1988 never got off the ground.

Haig spent most of his adult life in the military. He served under Douglas MacArthur in Korea, worked under Robert McNamara at the Pentagion and would eventually command a batallion of the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam. It was while in command of that batallion that Haig would earn the Distinguished Service Cross for his valor during The Battle of Ap Gu. He was subsequently promoted to Colonel.

Despite his high profile association with Reagan, Haig was much closer to President Nixon. This began with his role as a military advisor to Henry Kissinger. Haig was later promoted to General and became Vice Chief Staff of the Army, the second highest ranking officer in the U.S. Army.

Haig would eventually become Chief of Staff but not of the Army. Nixon appointed Haig as White House Chief of Staff in the spring of 1973 right in the midst of the Watergate scandal and would shepherd him to his resignation. He remained in that role briefly when Gerald Ford ascended to the Presidency but would go to Belgium where he assumed charge as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. Toward the end of his tenure, Haig survived an assassination attempt by the terrorist Red Army Faction. After a stint in the private sector, Reagan appointed Secretary of State apparently on the advice of Nixon.

In 1984, Haig published an account of his time at the Reagan White House titled Caveat: Realism, Reagan & Foreign Policy. Needless to say, Haig did not have kind words for the Reagan Administration. But that didn't stop Reagan from winning 49 out of 50 states that November.

In more recent years, Haig hosted World Business Review, a series of paid advertisements profiling business leaders. He would later host a similar program called 21st Century Business.

Obama Treats The Dalai Lama Like Garbage

I was hoping that President Obama's meeting with The Dalai Lama would make amends for his snub of the Tibetan spiritual leader last October.

It didn't.

Lee Vanden Brink's caption is worth a thousand words and then some. It's no way to treat a fellow Nobel Laureate.

Kelley Currie has all the sordid details at The Weekly Standard. As she so eloquently asks:

If the American president can't manage to treat the Dalai Lama with an appropriate level of dignity and respect, how can we seriously ask the Chinese to sit down and negotiate with him on matters of core national interest?

Or put another way, how can the Obama Administration ask China to treat The Dalai Lama with respect if they treat him like garbage?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Romney vs. Rapper

It appears the man with whom Mitt Romney had an altercation on the Air Canada flight out of Vancouver earlier this week was rapper Sky Blu.

He claims that Romney applied a "Vulcan grip" on his shoulder.

Sky Blu's claims might be illogical.

Gordon Lightfoot Isn't Dead Yet

On Wednesday night, during a break at poetry night at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, I took a walk around the block and was listening to "Summer Side of Life" by Gordon Lightfoot.

The thought occurred to me that he could just suddenly pass away. He is in his early 70s and did come close to death a few years ago. You never know when your time is up. If that were to happen I would probably jettison my own poems and read the lyrics to "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" in tribute.

Well, yesterday there were multiple news reports that Lightfoot had died after it had been "reported" on Twitter. This news came as quite a surprise to Lightfoot who says that he feels fine.

In fact, Lightfoot will begin a tour of the southeastern United States next month beginning with a performance in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on March 3rd.

I think there's a poem in all this somewhere.

In the meantime, check out this Lightfoot performance on the CBC nearly forty years ago. The song is called "Saturday Clothes."

You might also enjoy this interview he did on Bill Bennett's radio show back in August 2006.

Pictures from CPAC 2010

Bloggers' Row

The Victory VoIP lounge (#thevso)
Mitt Romney with cadets from The Citadel in the Victory VoIP lounge
Tucker Carlson with Shannon Burns of Victory Solutions
Tucker Carlson at the Victory VoIP lounge

Jim DeMint

The Difference Between Austin & Fort Hood

I wish to make one more observation about yesterday's terrorist attack in Austin.

It concerns the juxtaposition of liberal media behavior after what happened in Austin and what happened following the terrorist attack af Fort Hood last November.

I find it interesting that the liberal media were a lot more eager to identify Joe Stack as part of the Tea Party movement than they were to identify Nidal Malik Hasan as a terrorist.

Somehow I don't think anyone in the liberal media will come and out say that Stack was suffering from PTSD.

Thoughts on the Terrorist Attack in Austin

I consider the actions of Joe Stack on Thursday in Austin, Texas to be an act of terrorism.

I consider it a terrorist attack because Stack chose to navigate a plane into a building to inflict carnage and take as many innocent lives as possible much in the same way the 9/11 hijackers did. The fact he used a plane as his choice of weapon is quite telling.

This attack was planned well beforehand. Stack set his home ablaze. He worked on his "manifesto" months in advance. Although Stack did not espouse an ideology of Islamic fundamentalism he justified his attack due to a multitude of resentments he had against individuals, ideologies and institutions - chief amongst them the IRS. The IRS is certainly not the most popular public institution but the people who had the misfortune of being inside that building did not deserve their fate.

Joe Stack might very well have had the deck stacked against him in life and he is certainly not alone in this respect. But his actions today did nothing to solve his problems nor did they redress the grievances of anyone else. All he did was to compound the pain and suffering.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cheney Calls Obama "A One Term President"

Speaking this afternoon at CPAC in Washington, D.C., former Vice-President Dick Cheney said, "I think 2010 will be a phenomenal year for the conservative cause and I think Barack Obama is a one-term president."

It's a nice sentiment. But I won't truly believe it's a possibility unless a Democrat challenges Obama in the 2012 Primary. Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were challenged. They survived their primaries but not the general election. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush didn't have to fend off a primary challenger and were re-elected.

However tempting it might be it's far too early to eulogize President Obama's political fortunes.

Women Caned in Malaysia

Yesterday, Malaysia's Home Minister announced that three women had been caned earlier this month for having extramarital sex. This despite the fact federal law in Malaysia prohibits the caning of women. The local Sharia courts have effectively supplanted Malaysian federal law. It should be noted that four men were also caned.

Of course, one could make the argument the Malaysia is far more benevolent when it comes to adultery than its neighbor Indonesia. Last September, the Indonesian province of Aceh passed a law making adultery punishable by death by way of stoning.

Yet I suspect most people will not have much reaction to these developments in this country. After all both Malaysia and Indonesia are a world away and there's a sense of belief that such a thing could not happen in the United States or in the West.

But Sharia courts have been operating in Britain for two years now. If Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was accurate in stating that Sharia law was unavoidable in Britain then one must also conclude that caning and stoning for committing adultery are sure to follow.

Duke LaCrosse Rape Accuser Charged With Attempted Murder

Crystal Gail Mangum, the woman who wrongly accused four lacrosse players from Duke University of raping her, was arrested early this morning in Durham, North Carolina and charged with attempted first degree murder of her boyfriend. She has also been charged with other offenses ranging from assault to arson.

All I will say about this is that I hope Ms. Mangum will be accorded a fairer hearing by the Durham County D.A. than was afforded to the Duke lacrosse players.

First thoughts at CPAC 2010

CPAC this year is estimated to have 10,000 attendees, a thousand more than last year. It has come a long way since my brother worked there in the late 1990's, when 800 would show up. The exhibition hall has around 100 booths, every conservative organization from the John Birch society to an organization promoting the liberalization of poker laws. Surprisingly, there was a booth for "GO Pride," a gay travel agency, which was located far away from the booth for the Sanctity of Marriage.

There are a couple of cool lounges to hang out at during the conference. Since 10,000 people cannot possibly fit into the Marriott's largest room, some organizations have set up lounges outside of it. For $15 ($20 at the door), the younger hipper attendees at CPAC can attend XPAC. XPAC is put on by the actor Stephen Baldwin and his co-host Kevin McCullough of Xtreme Radio.

Victory Solutions is hosting a technology lounge known as The VSO that will feature prominent politicos throughout the conference stopping by to chat. Mitt Romney will be stopping by after his speech at 2pm and I expect to interview him and post the video later today. Victory Solutions' VoIP phone banking services helped with the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts.

Live coverage of CPAC can be found streaming from townhall here. Follow twitter coverage at #cpac10. VSO's coverage is at #thevso (which I have running on my website Bloggers have set up #bloggerbash to discuss their party.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

She Who Laughs Last....

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, fresh from being unable to convince the Saudis to go along with more sanctions against Iran, is celebrating by laughing at Sarah Palin. When asked by a Saudi Arabian student if the prospect of a Palin presidency terrified her and that if she would move to Canada or Russia if Palin was elected President, Hillary let out one of her laughs.

Well, at least the Saudi student didn't ask her what her husband thought of Sarah Palin.

Of course, this episode provides an opportunity for left-wing pundits to sling more arrows in Palin's direction as if they needed an excuse. John Nichols of The Nation writes, "Luckily for Clinton, the whole Palin-as-president conversation provides plenty of comic relief -- as few Americans are taking it seriously."

Hey, let Nichols snicker. Let Nichols and his ilk behave as if the presidential election is taking place next week instead of a mere two years, eight months and sixteen days from now. Don't they know that a week in politics is a lifetime? Sarah Palin has both time and circumstance on her side. Remember she who laughs last....

Arnold Beichman, 1913-2010. R.I.P.

Our main site is of course known as Intellectual Conservative. Today, we lost an intellectual conservative. Arnold Beichman, a political scientist and journalist who spent much of his life writing and speaking out against communism and revolution, died today at the age of 96.

Beichman continued to write sharp commentary almost to the very end of his life. Take a gander at what he had to say about Iran under Ahmadinejad in July 2007 after it had begun to ration gas:

If there is one country in the Middle East that should be a howling economic success, it is Iran. And if there is one country in the world that proves revolutions usually create worse conditions than previously existing, it is Iran. For however bad conditions were in the days of the shah and his secret police, the Savak, Iran was a far happier place and more open than it is today.

I had this confirmed for me a few months ago on a trip to Washington, D.C. I could tell from the surname on his visible license that my airport taxi driver was Iranian. I asked him how he had ended up in Washington. "Because I was a fool," he replied. In Iran he had been a major in the Iran air force, well paid with a nice home and family. Then he got involved in the revolution against the shah and was exiled. "How much better off we were under the shah than under Khomeini," he said.

Too late. It's always too late. The lure of revolution may be irrational and, often, irresistible. What follows the overthrow of the old system is even worse — the Reign of Terror, the aftermath of revolution. From the rule of 18th-century Maximilien Robespierre to 20th-century dictators like Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-tung, flow torrents of blood, the blood of their own people, their own citizens, their own children.

The 19th century was the century of nationalist revolutions, the 20th century ended as the century of counter-revolution. The 21st century appears to be the Era of the Lone Bomber — no longer a terrorist, today a "militant" on a suicide mission, recruited by a nation-state, Iran, and endowed with the war powers of the nation-state. Is Iran untouchable?

Beichman concludes his thoughts with a most pertinent question. Sanctions are the preferred route but there's no political will for Russia and especially China to go along with us. But even if Russia and China came on board would those sanctions be any more effective than the ones that are already in place?

If the Obama Administration isn't moving heaven and earth to obtain the release of the three American hikers it is certainly not going to embark on a military strike especially when Sarah Palin endorses the idea.

Which leaves it up to Israel. But if the Obama Administration does move heaven and earth it would be to prevent an Israeli strike against Iran even if it did develop a nuclear weapon headed straight for Jerusalem.

Alas one can only imagine what the world might be like had the Iranian Revolution never happened thirty one years ago. A revolution that has as Beichman put it "flow torrents of blood, the blood of their own people, their own citizens, their own children." Unless someone chooses to act Iran will remain untouchable. And with that another voice for freedom has been lost.

Wang Comes to Washington

Former New York Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang appears to have agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Washington Nationals. The signing will become official on Friday.

The Washington Post is correct in describing this signing as "less a purchase than a gamble."

Wang won 19 games with the Yankees in both 2006 & 2007. The Taiwanese born right-hander finished runner up to Johann Santana in AL Cy Young balloting in 2006. However, his career went off track when he sustained a foot injury while running the bases in Houston in June 2008 forcing him to miss the rest of the season. Wang subsequently developed hip and shoulder trouble. The latter of which required surgery. In 2009, Wang finished 1-6 with an atrocious 9.64 ERA.

Which Wang Washington will get very much remains to be seen. But Wang need not win 19 games to have a positive impact. If he and ex-Rockie Jason Marquis can win 10 to 12 games they will give the Nats starting rotation a much needed veteran presence and will ease the pressure on the likes of Jordan Zimmermann and Steven Strasburg, the top pick in the 2009 MLB Draft.

Jim Bibby, 1944-2010. R.I.P.

Former major league pitcher Jim Bibby passed away last night. The cause of death is unknown. He was 65.

Bibby was originally signed by the New York Mets in 1965. However, nearly seven years would pass before he made his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals late in the 1972 season. Bibby pitched in the big leagues for 12 seasons with the Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates before returning to the Rangers to finish his career in 1984.

Bibby was a tall, hard throwing right-hander who made people sit up and take notice when he tossed a no-hitter for the Rangers on July 30, 1973 against the defending World Series champion Oakland A's. The no-hitter took place a few weeks after the Rangers acquired him from the Cardinals. Yet Bibby often encountered control troubles even during his no-no. Although Bibby struck out 13 batters he also walked six.

The control troubles continued in 1974 for Bibby despite winning 19 games for the Rangers under the helm of Billy Martin. The problem was he also lost 19 games that season. Although he struck out 149 batters he also issued 113 walks. He would be traded midway through the following season to the Indians along with fellow pitchers Rick Waits and Jackie Brown for future Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry.

However, Bibby is probably best known for his stint with the Pirates. He would sign with them as a free agent prior to the 1978 season and he would be a part of the "We Are Family" World Series Champion Bucs the following year winning 12 games. By this stage of his career Bibby had improved his control and would enjoy his best campaign in 1980. Bibby won 19 games and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award balloting behind Jerry Reuss and Steve Carlton.

After his major league career ended, Bibby returned to his home to Lynchburg where he would become a pitching coach for the Lynchburg Mets, Lynchburg Red Sox and the Pirate affiliated Lynchburg Hillcats. The Hillcats retired Bibby's number (an unusual honor for a pitching coach) shortly after he retired from coaching in 2002.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Romney Accosted by Passenger on Air Canada Flight

Former Massachusetts Governor and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was accosted by an unruly passenger yesterday on an Air Canada flight departing from Vancouver.

Romney and his wife Ann were guests of honor at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Of course, it was Romney who was the chief organizer of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Apparently, when a passenger in front of Romney's wife pushed his seat back Romney asked him to push the seat back. It was at this point when the passenger became aggressive with Romney forcing airline personnel to intervene and remove said passenger from the flight.

From the sounds of it I doubt the passenger knew it was Romney. He probably would have reacted in that manner regardless of who asked him to push his seat up.

One wonders though if the man in question just suddenly became violent or had perhaps been intoxicated beforehand. If it is the latter then one might wonder why he was permitted to board the flight in the first place.

Whatever the case the Romneys were fortunately unharmed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Good Bayh

So Indiana Democratic Senator Evan Bayh is set to announce his retirement and not seek re-election this fall.

Bayh's announcement has taken everyone by surprise because his poll numbers were in pretty good shape and he has said as much. Apparently, Bayh has become alienated with the excessive partisanship on Capitol Hill. He specifically cited the Senate's decision to put the kabosh on the bipartisan commission on the national debt as well as the jobs bill. Here is a part of Bayh's statement:

But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough. And it has never been what motivates me. At this time I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor.

That doesn't speak highly of the Senate - an institution he's been a part of for more than a decade. It certainly doesn't encourage people to pursue that kind of public service. Let's also remember that Bayh came this close to becoming Barack Obama's running mate. But he has been less than enthusiastic about his presidency and his agenda in office. When Scott Brown shocked the world last month, Bayh was not a happy camper. It was Bayh who said following Brown's victory, "If you lose Massachusetts, if it's not a wake-up call, there's no hope of waking up." Bayh was also critical of the state of left-wing politics in America:

The only way we're able to govern successfully in this country is by liberals or progressives making common cause with independents and moderates. Whenever you have just the furthest left elements in the Democratic Party attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country, that's not going to work too well.

In hindsight, one could make the case his statement foreshadowed today's announcement. On the other hand, I am sure that for some the thought of Bayh stepping down was as inconceivable as Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning suddenly announcing his retirement.

Could we soon be saying "Good Bayh" to the Democratic majority in the Senate?

Obama, Executive Power & Signing Statements

What are signing statements? They are statements made by the President appended to acts of Congress the President has signed into law. Notwithstanding the President's approval, the President does have the prerogative to add a statement if he believes certain legislative provisions encroach on executive authority.

Charlie Savage, now a Washington based correspondent for The New York Times, wrote about President Bush's extensive use of signing statements while with The Boston Globe. These articles would subsequently become a book titled Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency & the Subversion of American Democracy. Savage would win a Pullitzer Prize for the book.

After reading Takeover I had an opportunity to question Savage about his work. This led to an article I wrote in October 2007. Consider this passage:

During his talk, Savage mentioned he had only been in Washington since 2003 and thus has only covered the Bush Administration. He also mentioned that signing statements “are not a partisan issue.” Still, it remains to be seen whether Savage will be as dogged in his investigations should a Democrat be elected to the White House in 2008.

Should that happen and if Savage writes another book equally critical of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and their use of the signing statement then one could argue that Savage is at least being consistent, if not necessarily accurate in his assessment of signing statements and presidential power. However, if he is not as vigorous when Democrats in charge on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it will once again confirm the inherent liberal biases of the mainstream media. His work will be little more than yet another effort to get the Bush Administration for the sake of getting the Bush Administration.

When Barack Obama was running for the White House he decried President Bush for his use of singing statements calling them "an end run around Congress." Of course, this hasn't stopped President Obama from using signing statements now that he has the right to use them. In 2009, he utilized signing statements on eight occasions including with the Stimulus Bill.

Now consider this excerpt from an article that appeared on Friday in The New York Times:

Already, Mr. Obama has had to reconcile his campaign-trail criticism of Mr. Bush for excessive use of so-called signing statements to bypass parts of legislation with his own use of such tactics. After a bipartisan furor in Congress last year, Mr. Obama stopped issuing such signing statements, but aides said last month that he still reserves the right to ignore sections of bills he considers unconstitutional if objections have been lodged previously by the executive branch.

So while President Obama might not formally utilize a signing statement that doesn't mean he won't assert his executive authority if he believes legislative provisions overstep Congressional authority. BTW, I find nothing wrong with Obama doing just that. So what does Savage have to say with regard to Obama's approach vis a vis signing statments? Here's what he wrote last month:

The Obama administration is lowering the volume in a long-running argument between Congress and the executive branch over when, if ever, a president has the power to bypass federal statutes he has signed into law.

Legal scholars said the administration’s new approach, which avoids repeating claims of executive power that the White House has previously voiced, could avoid setting off fights with lawmakers. But the approach will make it harder to keep track of which statutes the White House believes it can disregard, or to compare the number of laws challenged by President Obama with former President George W. Bush’s record.

Well, the Obama Administration isn't so much as "lowering the volume" as he is keeping things off the record. While Savage acknowledges that Obama is being much sneakier with regard to the exercise of his powers somehow I don't think Savage will be inspired to write a book about Obama's use of executive authority. If he does then I don't think he'll win another Pullitzer.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Professor Gates Disses Scott Brown

I was looking through The Corner and read John J. Miller's post about Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. donating the handcuffs that were used in his arrest last summer to the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian.

My first thought was who gave him the handcuffs? So I checked out the interview with The New York Times Magazine. Apparently, it was Sergeant Crowley who gave them to him when they met for drinks at River Gods in Cambridge's Central Square last October. I hope the Smithsonian has the good sense not to display them.

But what stands out in the interview was his comment about Senator Scott Brown. When asked to comment about the possibility of Brown and President Obama being 10th cousins Gates quipped, "Yes, I wish they had discovered their familial link before Scott Brown joined the Republican Party."

Why? So Obama could tell Brown how the Party of Lincoln is a racist organization? So Obama could show Brown the error of his ways? If only Obama had gotten hold of Brown and enlightened him then a Democrat would be sitting in Ted Kennedy's seat and Obamacare would be a reality.

Alas, Henry Gates is the gift that keeps on giving.

Doug Fieger, 1952-2010. R.I.P.

Doug Fieger, the lead singer of the rock group The Knack, died today after a long battle with cancer. He was 57.

Fieger co-wrote The Knack's 1979 hit "My Sharona." It was inspired by a teenaged girl he met named Sharona Alperin. Today, she sells high end real estate in Los Angeles. Her website is - what else? -

Contrary to popular perception, The Knack were not a one hit wonder. Their follow up single "Good Girls Don't" was a Top 20 hit in the U.S. Since The Knack hit big during the tail end of the disco era they often thought of as a disco act but their sound was more new wave or power pop. But the disco perception hurt them and their time in the spotlight was shortlived.

But "My Sharona" would briefly return to the charts in the mid-1990s after it was featured in the movie Reality Bites. The song was also included on the iPod of former President George W. Bush.

There are thousands if not millions of struggling musicians who would give their souls to have composed a song that has had this kind of cultural impact. Doug Fieger was one of the fortunate few.

Thoughts on the University of Alabama Shooting

On Friday, three biology professors were murdered at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Three others were also wounded in the attack. Amy Bishop, a fellow professor, was subsequently arrested and charged with three counts of capital murder.

It also turns out this isn't Bishop's first experience taking another human life. Bishop, a Massachusetts native, shot and killed her brother in Braintree in 1986. It was ruled an accidental shooting and Bishop was never charged with a crime.

When I heard about these murders it brought to mind a similar incident which occurred at Concordia University in Montreal back in August 1992. Valery Fabrikant, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, shot and killed four colleagues and wounded another staff member. Fabrikant was sentenced to life in prison but is eligible for parole in 2017. Like Bishop, Fabrikant was denied tenure.

Fabrikant has spent his time in prison filing nuisance lawsuits. Unlike Fabrikant, Bishop is eligible to receive the death penalty.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Violence in Vancouver

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver have not got off to a good start.

First, there was the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.

Today, violence broke out in downtown Vancouver. Riot police had to be called in to quell hooligans who broke shop windows, committed acts of vandalism and menaced pedestrians.

One can only hope it stops there. But you know that these things often come in threes.

What Do You Expect When There's a Lefty in the WH?

I like Bill Kristol's latest piece in The Weekly Standard.

In it he likens the Obama Administration to New York Yankees pitching legend Lefty Gomez. Notwithstanding the fact that Gomez helped pitch the Yankees to six World Series titles and seven American League championships en route to the Hall of Fame he often said, "I'd rather be lucky than good."

Kristol argues that despite the Christmas Day bomber, Honduras as well as the Israelis & Palestinians that Obama has been lucky rather than good.

But then again what do you expect when there's a Lefty in the White House?

Shedding Some Light: Solar Panels at the White House

Bob Herbert, the latest New York Times columnist to sing the praises of China, writes about China's role as a leading producer of environmental technologies including solar power. Here is how the article begins:

It was primarily a symbolic gesture. Way back in 1979, in the midst of an energy crisis, Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. They were used to heat water for some White House staffers.

“A generation from now,” said Mr. Carter, “this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people, harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

Ronald Reagan had the panels taken down.

Ah yes, Carter was leading us into the 21st century until that neanderthal Reagan took us back to the Dark Ages. And so it goes.

Except Herbert omitted one crucial piece of information. Solar panels are back at the White House and have been since September 2002. This means solar technology was restored to the White House during the administration of George W. Bush.

I suppose it was too much of an inconvenient truth for Mr. Herbert.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Nodar Kumaritashvili, 1988-2010. R.I.P.

The opening of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver began on a sour note when Nodar Kumaritashvili, a luger competing from Georgia, was killed while practicing on a sliding track in Whistler, B.C. He was only 21 years old.

For a time the Georgian Olympic delegation considered withdrawing from the games but were convinced to remain and were given a warm standing ovation during opening ceremonies in B.C. Place.

Kumaritashvili's death was captured on video. I haven't seen it and have no desire to do so. It's not how he ought to be remembered.

Glavine & Big Hurt Retire

Two future Hall of Famers formally announced their retirements over the past couple of days.

Yesterday, pitcher Tom Glavine announced his retirement after 22 big league seasons with the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. He won 305 big league games, was a two time NL Cy Young Award winner, an 11 time NL All-Star and earned a World Series ring in 1995. Glavine will work in the Braves front office.

Glavine grew up in Massachusetts. Several years ago, I met one of his classmates in elementary school. She told me that he was a star athlete in baseball and hockey but that he was the antithesis of a jock. His parents kept him centered and as such he treated everyone around him well even those who lacked social standing. He never thought his athletic gifts made him a better human being than anyone else and he carried forth that demeanor during his big league career.

Today, Frank Thomas retired after 19 big league seasons mostly with the Chicago White Sox. "The Big Hurt" also had stints with the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics. Thomas won back to back AL MVP Awards in 1993 and 1994, won an AL batting title in 1997, drove in 100 or more runs 11 times, collected 100 or more walks ten times (led the AL in walks on four occasions) and finished his career with nearly 2,500 hits. Oh yes? He hit 521 career home runs tied for 18th on the all time list with Ted Williams.

The Big Hurt should be inducted into the Hall on the first ballot. But I wonder if the bias of the BBWAA against DH might keep him out for a year or two. If it does he won't wait nearly as long as Jim Rice or Andre Dawson did.

Neither Glavine nor Thomas played during the 2009 season. Although they might share the stage at Coopersotwn they never faced each other in big league competition.

Thoughts on the Vancouver Olympics

I am generally not a huge follower of the Olympiad but I am looking forward to the Winter Olympics which commence tonight in Vancouver.

I do take a certain pride that my native country is once again hosting the Olympics. Last month, the Olympic torch passed through Thunder Bay and my father told me there were huge crowds to receive the torch. He also said it was the only time in the all years he's been in Thunder Bay that he was reminded of being in New York City.

The last time Canada hosted the Winter Olympics was in 1988 when Calgary played host. The torch came through Thunder Bay as well. I remember we were let out of school for an hour or so to watch the relay. I don't think I quite gave it the appreciation it deserved.

It is interesting that Vancouver is hosting the Olympics because it almost never snows there. In fact, Olympic officials have had to bring snow into Vancouver. I'm sure there a lot of people in D.C. and in Baltimore who would love to give their snow to Vancouver.

I've never been to Vancouver but I did live in Victoria, the provincial capital of British Columbia, for a year when my Dad was on sabbatical in the late 1970s. As I recall it snowed maybe once the entire winter and it was barely a dusting. It was light years away from the winters I spent growing up in Northwestern Ontario. Evidently, Vancouver is experiencing its warmest winter since the 1930s.

Well, perhaps Vancouver doesn't need to enlist help from Baltimore after all. Snow has fallen in the Vancouver area and it seems not a moment too soon. Let the games begin.

Cambridge, MA: Where's The Beef?

I didn't realize this was going on. But I can't say it surprises me. Only in The People's Republic of Cambridge.

Just over the Charles River the city has convened a Climate Congress which is putting forth recommendations to the City Council. Amongst them are a tax on plastic and paper bags, a municipal carbon tax as well as Meatless Mondays:

Asking/mandating that local restaurants and schools institute "Meatless or Vegan Mondays"
to increase community awareness and reduce reliance on meat, dairy and eggs as food sources

I guess Free Range Fridays didn't make the cut.

Somehow I can't imagine the owner of Frank's Steakhouse, a favorite haunt of Tip O'Neill's in North Cambridge, being thrilled at the prospect of being mandated a Meatless Monday.

For all their desire to address the "climate emergency" they sure aren't thinking about the local business climate. Simply put, unless you specialize in vegan or vegetarian food, who would want to open a restaurant in Cambridge?

China Calls on Obama to Cancel Dalai Lama Meeting

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that President Obama would meet with The Dalai Lama in the White House on February 18th.

China has issued a public statement demanding President Obama cancel the meeting.

I have every reason to believe President Obama will proceed with his meeting with The Dalai Lama. He would look incredibly weak if he were to abruptly "call off the wrong decision" as the Chinese have so delicately put it.

But the mere fact the Chinese have made this demand public demonstrates they believe they can push Obama around. After all, Obama snubbed The Dalai Lama last October. Let's remember that President Bush not only met with The Dalai Lama on multiple occasions but bestowed him with the Congressional Gold Medal in October 2007. This is China's thinking. If Obama bows to us once he will do so again.