Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Intellectual Conservative Washington state has launched

IC Washington

Check out the first article, demanding that Kitsap County Commissioners do their job and require women working in coffee shops frequented by families to wear shirts.

Jaime Escalante, 1930-2010. R.I.P.

Jaime Escalante, the math teacher who inspired the 1988 movie Stand & Deliver featuring an Oscar nominated performance by Edward James Olmos, has died of bladder cancer. He was 79.

The Bolivian born Escalante spent nearly two decades teaching algebra and calculus to inner city students at Garfield High School in Los Angeles. His students excelled beyond expectations and their achievements garnered attention from the likes of President Ronald Reagan.

Sadly, Escalante's methods while popular with his students were not popular with either school administrators or teacher unions as demonstrated in this article written in 2002 by Jerry Jesness for Reason magazine. Escalante was forced out of Garfield and the school's math program never returned to its former glory and future generations of students lost out.

So while it's possible for students to learn it would seem that school administrators and teacher unions never do.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Code Pink Disrupts Rove Book Signing

A talk given by Karl Rove in Beverly Hills in support of his book Courage & Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight was disrupted by protesters from the anti-American group Code Pink.

Jodie Evans, one of Code Pink's co-founders, approached the former top advisor to President Bush with handcuffs and attempted to make what she described as "a citizen's arrest."

For all the criticism that has been leveled against Tea Party activists I don't see any of them disrupting speeches by left-wing public officials in this manner.

One sentence from the account of the incident provided by CBS irked me:

A riled-up Rove may have added to the chaos.

Oh really now? And what does Katie Couric and company think Rove should have done under the circumstances? Somehow I can't imagine the likes of either David Axelrod or Rahm Emanuel having reacted much differently. Nor could I imagine CBS blaming them for adding to the chaos.

Eric Tunney, 1964-2010. R.I.P.

Comedian Eric Tunney was found dead in his apartment in Windsor, Ontario on Sunday. He was 45. The cause of death is unknown.

Most of you will have never heard of Eric Tunney. But he was one of a very long line of comedians Canada has produced. If you lived in southern Ontario in the early 1990s, you probably saw him host Ed The Sock (I kid you not) or in a comedy club or in the occasional TV commercial.

Like many Canadian comedians he made his way to Hollywood but unlike Rich Little, Jim Carrey or Howie Mandel he didn't find himself in the company of success. Oh, he guest hosted NBC's Later and did a short lived TV show on FOX with Terry Bradshaw. But he would return to Canada about a decade ago with little to show for his efforts. The breakup of a marriage and a drinking problem didn't help matters.

Here are some kind words for Tunney here. There's a video link to one of his stand up routines but apparently it doesn't work outside of Canada. Perhaps it's only fitting.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mike Lupica Needs to "Stop"

I read Mike Lupica's absurd column on the Tea Party in The New York Daily News.

There is a picture of a STOP sign with the name "Obama" spray painted under it. The caption under it reads, "Near a suburban school, one of many graffiti-hit signs that serve as mindless political protest." It pretty much sets the whole tone for Lupica's article which begins ominously:

We are 100 yards, no more than that, from the front entrance to the school. There is a stop sign here, and underneath the word "Stop" someone has spray-painted " Obama."

Stop Obama.

Why has somebody done it? Because in the current climate, people have been convinced they can. Or, more likely, that they should.

My son is in the seat next to me in the car. He says, "This isn't the only one. There are others in different parts of town."

Um, where exactly was Lupica between noon on January 20, 2001 and noon on January 20,2009? Maybe he was too busy paying attention to the New York Yankees to notice. But I spent most of that time living within walking distance of Boston's Fenway Park and there were "Stop Bush" signs everywhere.

In fact, there were "Stop Bush" signs all over America. Even in Reno, Nevada.

If only Lupica would "stop" and take a moment to think before he committed pen to paper.

Thoughts on the Terrorist Attack in Moscow

I am sure you have heard by now that two suicide bombings took place on the Moscow Metro this morning killing 38 people. The attacks occurred approximately an hour apart and both bombers were female.

When I heard about the attacks I thought back to the Beslan school massacre back in September 2004 in which over 300 hostages were killed. More than half of them were children. Today's attack, as with the Beslan school massacre, appears to have been perpetrated by Chechen separatists.

It is also worth noting that there were two attacks on the Moscow Metro in 20o4. The first attack took place in February of that year resulting in the loss of 41 lives while the second took place in August and resulted in 10 deaths. Chechen separatists are also believed responsible in carrying out these acts.

There are those who bemoan the loss of civil liberties in this country after September 11, 2001. However, if you want to look at a case of infringement of civil liberties look no further than Vladimir Putin's response to the attacks with the creation of the Public Chamber of Russia which severely undercut the authority of an already weak Russian parliament and court system and increased his powers exponentially.

I fear Putin will implement similar measures in response. I also fear such measures will do little stop the Muslim Chechens from carrying out terrorist attacks in Russia.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Obama Walked Out on Netanyahu During WH Visit

I am afraid I was entirely too optimistic in my assessment of the results President Obama's visit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week would yield.

Not only was there no public meeting but when Netanyahu held firm on settlement construction in East Jerusalem, Obama got up and walked out of the room.

I wonder what Christopher Buckley thinks of Obama's "first-class temperament" now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Something for Jamie Oliver to Chew On

While doing my laundry this evening I watched the first two episodes of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC. (The first episode can be seen online here).

The program follows the acclaimed British chef to Huntington, West Virginia, a town named the unhealthiest in America. He wants to change the diets of Huntington residents but they are wary of his motives and methods and I must say I can't blame them. Oliver had a particularly contentious interview with local radio talk show host Rod Willis. "I really take issue with a guy coming into town and telling us how we should conduct our lives," said Willis.

Oliver comes off as a patronizing, condescending twit who thinks he's better than everyone else. He spends much of his time in a school cafeteria and dismisses the female cafeteria workers as little more than "lunch ladies". But the "lunch ladies" know a phony when they see one and he gets served. But even worse is his sarcastic attitude around children.

Look, I understand wanting children to have a healthy, balanced diet. But the surest way to get children not to eat a healthy, balanced diet is to either tell them to eat something because it is good for them or to not eat something because it is bad for them. If Jamie Oliver genuinely wants the children of Huntington to eat healthier then he needs to convey the joy of healthy eating. Dump trucks full of fat make for a memorable visual but don't satiate the appetite. Most importantly, the food has to taste good.

Gloria Estefan Speaks Up For The Ladies in White

Pop singer Gloria Estefan led a demonstration in Miami's Little Havana section to protest the Cuban government's recent actions against The Ladies in White.

For those unfamiliar with The Ladies in White they are the wives and mothers of Cuban dissidents jailed by Fidel Castro in March 2003.

Last week, Cuban authorities violently broke up a demonstration by The Ladies in White and have detained approximately thirty of them.

President Obama, to his credit, has taken Cuba to task for its behavior.

However, I wish he would condemn the Castro regime with the same vigor he so unwisely expends against Israel.

Then again if not for Gloria Estefan, President Obama might not have been moved to say anything at all.

Trust Without Verification? Obama Strikes Arms Control Deal with Russia

Today, President Obama announced the United States and Russia have reached a new arms control treaty. Obama will co-sign the treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague on April 8th:

Furthermore, since I took office, I’ve been committed to a “reset” of our relationship with Russia. When the United States and Russia can cooperate effectively, it advances the mutual interests of our two nations, and the security and prosperity of the wider world. We’ve so far already worked together on Afghanistan. We’ve coordinated our economic efforts through the G20. We are working together to pressure Iran to meet its international obligations. And today, we have reached agreement on one of my administration’s top national security priorities -- a pivotal new arms control agreement.

First, this treaty being signed on Czech soil must be a bitter pill for them to swallow. When the Czechs hear "reset" it means Obama giving up ballistic missile defense to appease Moscow.

Second, what a tepid statement about U.S.-Russian co-operation on Iran. President Obama doesn't say, "We are working together to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon." Instead, it's "we are working together to pressure Iran to meet its international obligations." In fact, the Russians and Chinese have pushed the Obama Administration into softening its positions on sanctions against Iran.

Sergei Rybakov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister stated, "It is important for these sanctions to be well-focused and exact, if we make a decision on them, and they must not be a method of punishing the whole country or its people." Translation: Nothing must be imposed that would impede Iran from developing its nuclear program.

I mean it's not like the Iran is building apartments in East Jerusalem.

As for the merits of arms control treaties, Mitt Romney has an interesting take in his book No Apology (which I am currently in the midst of reading). I have put his most germane points in bold:

Ideally, we would rid the planet of nuclear weapons. But we are unlikely to be successful in doing so, at least within the coming decades. To begin with, Russia's conventional capabilities have badly deteriorated, it derives its power from its nuclear stockpile and strategic weaponry and it has no interest in losing its place in the world by eliminating its nuclear weapons. It does, however, have a great interest in paring down the U.S. arsenal. Iran is committed to becoming a nuclear nation because it believes that achievement will vault it to superpower status amongs Middle Eastern nations, perhaps securing its candidacy as the twenty-first-century caliphate. And with nuclear power in hand, Iran is virtually guaranteed that no foreign power will invade, as the United States did in Iraq. Iran learned its lesson from North Korea: No matter its size, a malevolent country can thumb its nose at the world with impunity - if it has the bomb.

Global nuclear disarmament also has the problem of verification. Deceptions are routine. Both India and Pakistan developed their programs in secret, and there are believed to be many other nations that could "go nuclear" in a relatively short period of time. Nuclear technology is so widespread that it could be harnessed by any number of foes. Could America, or even Russia for that matter, ever realistically rely on signed treaties and agreements to guarantee no group, no terrorist, and no nation would secretly develop nuclear weapons? It is inconceivable that jihadists would ever abandon their pursuit of nuclear weapons, regardless of agreements. As long as even one country or group of fanatics pursues nuclear weapons, the United States must maintain robust nuclear capability.

We must not allow wishful thinking to obscure the truth. We are not on the verge of nuclear disarmament; we are on the cusp of greater and extraordinarily dangerous nuclear proliferation. North Korea and Iran's nuclear arms will compel others to follow suit. While America and the world still have a chance to stop Iran, neither the current administration nor the global powers have yet shown the stomach for deploying and enforcing the truly withering sanctions that goal would require. As a result, the American nuclear deterrent - updated, tested, and ample - and a highly effective missile defense system are essential not just to our security but to the security of the world.

It was President Reagan who said, "Trust, but verify." President Obama is content to trust.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Henry Champ Doesn't Get The Tea Party

For many years, Henry Champ was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC) man in Washington, D.C. He retired in 2008 but still occasionally writes columns for

Like most members of the liberal media he is not fond of The Tea Party. But Champ takes it to a new level:

Don't believe the nonsense that the offenders are a minority who have attached themselves to well-meaning protesters.

On this day they were clearly the majority and everyone cheered them on when they performed these miserable acts.

It's interesting that free assembly and protest now constitute "miserable acts." How dare those cretins protest Obama who knows what is best for us. Champ is basically buying into the Janeane Garofalo school of American politics. If you disagree with Obama you are therefore a racist.

Indeed, Champ goes on to compare the Tea Party protesters to crowds he had seen in the American South in the 1960s. Hmmn, could Mr. Champ tell me how many African Americans would have been invited to speak at Ku Klux Klan rallies in Selma in 1960? Somehow I don't think Champ would have witnessed this sight in the American South in the 1960s. Or this sight for that matter. Frankly, Henry Champ doesn't get The Tea Party and I suspect he never will.

I Still Don't Believe Lewis & Carson

On Sunday, I expressed skepticism that Congressmen John Lewis and Andre Carson were the subject of racial epithets when they walked to the Capitol for a procedural vote.

However, I also indicated if I were "presented with irrefutable, unimpeachable evidence that corraborates Lewis and Carson were subjected to racial epithets then I will condemn those acts with the vigor they deserve."

Today, I was anonymously sent a link to this video. It was the same video supplied by Dana Loesch. The person who sent the link drew my attention to the 11 second mark of the video. I have played this video a dozen times and it is still not clear to me what was uttered at that point in the video.

So once again until I receive "irrefutable, unimpeachable evidence" I stand by my skepticism of Lewis and Carson.

Celebrate Human Achievement Hour instead of Earth Hour March 27

"Earth Hour" is coming up this Saturday evening, and you may have noticed certain businesses, celebrities, and environmental groups urging "lights out" for an hour, ostensibly to call attention to global warming. You may think this sends the wrong message - to plunge us all into darkness as a rejection of technology and human achievement. We sure thought so. Or, as my colleague Michelle Minton and others have aptly noted, it's Earth Hour every day in Communist North Korea, where people lack basic freedoms, as well as affordable, reliable access to many human achievements, such as electricity.

Good news is, there's now an alternative to Earth Hour - it's called Human Achievement Hour! A celebration of all that humans have accomplished. What can you do to participate?

Happy Human Achievement Hour!



Communications Director

Competitive Enterprise Institute //



Michelle Minton, 202-340-7078

Richard Morrison, 202-331-2273

Force of Darkness “Earth Hour” Challenged by Power of Light “Human Achievement Hour”

CEI Announces 2nd Annual Celebration of Human Achievement

Washington, D.C., March 19, 2010—The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a leading free-market think tank, will celebrate the Second Annual “Human Achievement Hour” between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on Saturday, March 27, 2010. The one-hour celebration coincides with “Earth Hour,” an hour in which governments, individuals, and corporations will dim or shut off lights to symbolically renounce the environmental impacts of modern technology.

“Earth Hour’s creators suggest that human inventions and technology are a problem, but we see the ability to create and innovate as the ultimate resource,” says Human Achievement Hour founder and CEI Policy Analyst Michelle Minton. “Environmental challenges will not be solved by turning off our lights and symbolically hiding in the dark,” Minton added. “If anything, we should be looking to technology and innovation to help solve environmental problems.”

Just like last year, countless individuals, organizations, agencies and businesses will be celebrating Human Achievement Hour without even realizing it. Just by not shutting down their lights, operations and stores, they will be acknowledging that productive effort and the pursuit of happiness are a better alternative than sitting in the dark.

In addition to the observance of Human Achievement Hour, wherever people may find themselves around the world, CEI will be hosting a happy hour event outside of Washington, D.C.

Human Achievement Happy Hour

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Rira Irish Pub and Restaurant

2915 Wilson Boulevard

Arlington, Virginia


MORE RESOURCES: Watch the video “Celebrate Human Achievement Hour,” follow us on Twitter and join the Facebook group.


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information about CEI, please visit our website at

Johnny Maestro, 1939-2010. R.I.P.

Doo-wop legend Johnny Maestro died yesterday of cancer. He was 70.

Born in Brooklyn as John Mastrangelo, Maestro is famous for singing lead on two enormous hits that came a decade apart.

In 1958, Maestro sang lead with The Crests on "16 Candles". The Crests were unusual in that they were amongst the first pop acts to be racially integrated.

After leaving The Crests in 1960 to embark on a solo career, Maestro soon joined the Del-Satins. In 1968, the Del-Satins had a chance encounter with a brass ensemble known as the Rhythm Method. The two bands merged becoming Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge. Late that year, they had an enormous hit with the Jimmy Webb penned "The Worst That Could Happen" (which had originally been recorded by The Fifth Dimension).

Maestro continued to perform with The Brooklyn Bridge on the oldies and doo-wop circuits up until earlier this year when his illness overtook his powerful voice.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NOW Toronto Columnist Defends Coulter's Banishment

I caught Megyn Kelly's interview with Susan G. Cole, a columnist for NOW Toronto. Cole defends Ann Coulter's banishment from the University of Ottawa last night.

Let me highlight several of Cole's statements and provide commentary.

I don't think she's really an appropriate choice to be speaking on campuses in Canada.

Well, is it really for Susan G. Cole to tell the Conservative club at the University of Ottawa who they can and cannot invite to speak on campus? Do they require her permission to pursue their activities?

Up here we're trying to create an enviroment which is a safe place to think and to learn.

The University of Ottawa certainly wasn't a safe place to think and learn on Tuesday night. There were people who wanted to hear what Coulter had to say. Instead, there was a mob of people who created an environment of intimidation where people were rendered unable to hear Coulter because they wouldn't permit Coulter access to campus.

It was inappropriate for those who invited her to invite her because she wasn't going to contribute to an actual conversation.

Again, who is Susan G. Cole to decide what is and isn't an actual conversation? Why does she begrudge people who want to hear Coulter? They are free to accept, reject or ignore Coulter's arguments as they see fit.

They could have that conversation. It's not clear why they would have to have it on the campus except they knew they were going to provoke people to have this kind of action. Have it at a conservative think tank. Have it at a lecture hall. The campus has to be a place and there are all kinds of ways in which these things are made evident. Students sign off on all kind of agreements as to how they'll behave on campus in order to respect diversity, equity. All of the values Canadians really care about and those are the things that drive our political culture. Not freedom, not rugged individualism, not free speech. It's different and for us it works.

The campuses have to be a place for what? I thought university campuses was a place of learning. Last I checked university campuses have lecture halls including the University of Ottawa. As for diversity, as a friend once told me, "The Left believes in diversity in everything except for opinion."

Well, we don't have that same political culture in our country and that's exactly what the Provost at the University of Ottawa was trying to tell Ann Coulter when he advised her to be careful what she said because she could indeed violate some of our hate speech laws. So here in Canada we don't have a first amendment, we don't have a religion of free speech. It hasn't been etched in stone for over 200 years the way it is in the United States of America. Very different. It's exactly the information she needed to know before she came.

Hmmn, so if Coulter was in danger of violating hate speech laws on campus then why wouldn't she be in the same peril if she spoke off campus? How disingenuous. They just don't want her to be heard. Period.

Cole also denies Canadians have freedom of speech. Yet according to Part 1, Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms everyone has:

freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.

Surely this would apply to Ann Coulter.

Section 2(c) guarantees "freedom of assembly" which the mob gathered at U of O violated by preventing Coulter from speaking and the audience from listening.

As for Ann Coulter, here is her take on the whole sordid affair.

Finally, on a personal note, on Saturday I will have been in this country for exactly ten years. Given the sorts of things that are going on in my home and native land it would appear I made the right decision in coming to America.

Robert Culp, 1930-2010. R.I.P.

Actor Robert Culp died today of head injuries after sustaining a fall at his Hollywood home. He was 79.

Culp is best known for teaming up with Bill Cosby in the 1960s hit NBC TV series I Spy. The show is noted for Cosby being the first African-American to be a co-star in an American TV series. It is also noted for Culp and Cosby's chemistry.

I remember him best from the early 1980s TV series The Greatest American Hero with William Katt and Connie Sellecca which aired on ABC.

Culp appeared in movies such as Bob, Ted, Carol & Alice with Elliot Gould, Natalie Wood and Dyan Cannon as well as The Pelican Brief with Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. He also had a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond as Ray Romano's father-in-law.

I never saw I Spy until this year when it started airing on RTV. Although I have heard various accounts about how NBC was nervous about having Cosby in a co-starring role on I Spy. Culp listened to NBC's concerns and politely informed them he would not be doing the series without Cosby. That ended that discussion.

Less than two decades later, Cosby would be the King of NBC. Thank goodness for Culp's firmness. He would guest star on one episode of The Cosby Show and also reunited with him in a 1999 episode of the CBS series Cosby a dream sequence reprising their roles on I Spy.

Here's a 2007 interview with Culp discussing his relationship with Cosby. The full three hour interview for the Archive of American Television is here.

Pence Pounces on Obama for "Bullying" Israel

Bravo to Mike Pence.

The Indiana Republican yesterday blasted President Obama for his administration's posture towards Israel. “The time has come for this administration to stop bullying Israel," Pence said.

Pence, who is the number three Republican in the House behind John Boehner and Eric Cantor, also said, “I never thought I’d live to see the day that an American administration would denounce the Jewish State of Israel for rebuilding Jerusalem." He rejected the notion that housing construction in East Jerusalem was an affront to the United States let alone the peace process.

Pence made his statements before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Of course, Netanyahu also met with President Obama yesterday in a private meeting.

No Free Speech for Coulter at The University of Ottawa

Well, I guess Canadian college campuses can't countenance Ann Coulter.

At least not at the University of Ottawa.

Over at The American Spectator, Robert Stacy McCain informs us Coulter was prevented from entering Marion Hall because students were surrounding it.

Now, I've been to Marion Hall. It's a pretty large building. Clearly, there are some at the U of O who are really determined to keep people with different ideas off campus.

For her part, Coulter says this is the first time in all her years in public speaking that she has been prevented entry on a college campus. But it isn't the first time a conservative has been prevented from speaking at a Canadian university. In September 2002, Benjamin Netanyahu (who was then Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs) was prevented from speaking at Concordia University in Montreal by violent Palestinian protesters. So let's just say Bibi is well prepared to handle the disrespect shown him by the Obama Administration.

Shame on both the administration and students at the University of Ottawa for their closed mindedness. If you don't like Coulter do what Fatima al-Dhaher, a Muslim student at the University of Western Ontario in London did. She asked her a question. I know, I know. That's pretty radical thinking these days.

As for Coulter perhaps she'll have better luck tomorrow night at the University of Calgary. Alberta is Canada's bastion of conservatism and I suspect she will receive a warm dose of Western Canadian hospitality.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Elinor Smith, 1911-2010. R.I.P.

Aviatrix Elinor Smith passed away on March 19th. She was 98.

Smith was both a contemporary and rival of Amelia Earhart. More than a decade younger than Earhart, Smith was first licensed to fly at the age of sixteen. Her certificate was signed by none other than Orville Wright.

Smith made headlines in 1928 when she illegally flew under four bridges on New York's East River. Although it would result in a temporary suspension of her licence this came only months after Earhart crossed the Atlantic as a passenger aboard The Friendship. Smith also set a number of altitude, distance, speed and endurance records for a woman pilot. These achievements were viewed as a threat by Earhart's husband and publicist, George Palmer Putnam would did in everything in power to thwart Smith's ambitions "to take Amelia's place as number-one woman pilot." This was dramatized in last year's Amelia biopic with Hilary Swank and Richard Gere. Smith was portrayed by Mia Wasikowska, the same actress currently starring in Tim Burton's adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.

Smith would retreat from the air to raise a family but would return to flying in the 1950s. In 2000, at the age of 89, she was invited by NASA to pilot the Space Shuttle flight simulator. She landed on her second try. Sometimes things are most satisfying the second time around.

Eating Less Meat Hurts The Poor

Remember a few weeks back when I wrote about efforts to bring "Meatless Mondays" to the People's Republic of Cambridge?

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims livestock are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than automobiles. Hence the campaign, "Less Meat=Less Heat."

But Dr Frank Mitloehner, an air quality expert at the University of California/Davis, begs to differ. While Mitloehner agrees that livestock produce methane he argues the solution is "smarter farming" not cutting back on production of meat. Mitloehner further argues, "Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries."

The meat of the matter here is that food choices are up to the individual and their family. If a person wants to go vegan of their own volition then fine. Let them eat all the tofu jerky they want (which is actually pretty good). But no government agency should be telling people what they can and cannot eat or when they can eat it.

Just something to chew on.

Can Canadian Campuses Countenance Coulter?

Ann Coulter is scheduled to speak today at the University of Ottawa.

Last Friday she received a letter from François Houle, University of Ottawa Vice-President Academic & Provost, warning her that "promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."

I wonder if Mr. Houle would write a similar letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if he were to be invited to speak at the U of O campus.

Although I am a graduate of Carleton University, I can tell you that U of O has a splendid campus situated in Ottawa's Sandy Hill neighborhood. But I digress.

Last night, while speaking at the University of Western Ontario in London, Coulter sardonically replied she would file a grievance with the Human Rights Commission. "I'm sure the Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of it. I think I'm the victim of a hate crime here," she said to applause.

If Coulter is serious about filing a grievance it is more likely she would do so with Ontario Human Rights Commission rather than the Canadian Human Rights Commission since U of O is a provincial institution. When Mark Steyn had grievances filed against him by the President of the Canadian Islamic Congress a couple of years back I argued that conservatives should use the federal and provincial human rights commissions to their advantage rather than call for their abolition. If she were to lodge a complaint it would make things very interesting as it would put the human rights commissions and its modus operandi under international scrutiny. But methinks she made the statement in jest.

In November 2004, shortly after George W. Bush was re-elected, I attended a talk given by Coulter at Boston College. I think most of what she says has to be taken with a grain of salt. She's goings for laughs. So if people genuinely disagree with Coulter the best way to deal with her is neither by fire nor banishment but with humor.

It's not like the entire student body is being forced to hear Coulter. If you don't want to hear her then fine but don't prevent other people from hearing what she has to say. Mr. Houle's heavy handedness succeeded only in drawing attention to her. If he had held his tongue then how many people would have bothered to notice Coulter wasn't on American soil this week?

Is ACORN Shutting Down on April 1st?

Yesterday, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) announced it would be shutting down its state affiliates and field offices by April 1st.

I think I see an April Fool's Joke coming and I'm not the only one.

Some Interesting Thoughts on White Men & Obama

When I saw the headline, "Revenge of the white men," I thought it was yet another article about angry white males who are expressing their racial animosity towards President Obama by getting involved with the Tea Party.

But instead we have a thoughtful piece by David Paul Kuhn, the chief political correspondent of Support for President Obama and the Democratic Party amongst white males has collapsed because they account for nearly half of all job losses during this recession.
But to merely dismiss them as "angry white males" is "poor politics" according to Kuhn:

Think about the average working man. He has already witnessed financial bailouts for the rich folks above him. Now he sees a healthcare bailout for the poor folks below him. Big government represents lots of costs and little gain. Meanwhile, like many women, these men are simply trying to push ahead without being pushed under. Some of them once believed in Obama. Now they feel forgotten.

Government can only do so much. But recall the Depression. FDR's focus on the economy was single-minded and relentless. Hard times continued, but men never doubted that FDR was trying to do right by them. Democrats should think about why they aren't given that same benefit of the doubt today.

Unfortunately, as long as Democrats are content to dismiss the discontent of white men as nothing more than a product racial animosity then they will never learn. After all, if it's all about race then why would they have voted for Obama in the first place?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hillary Blames Settlements For Lack of Middle East Peace Negotiations

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke before the AIPAC Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. this morning. She blamed the construction of settlements for the lack of progress in peace negotiations in the Middle East:

New construction in East Jerusalem or the West Bank undermines that mutual trust and endangers the proximity talks that are the first step toward the full negotiations that both sides say want and need.


If it's not the settlements then it's the security checks and if it's not the security checks it's the separation fence and if it's not the separation fence....well, you get the idea. Besides, if the Palestinians are so angered by the settlements why did Palestinians launch more missiles into Israel after they evacuated settlements in Gaza?

But should we really be surprised by Hillary's posture towards the settlements? Remember last June when she declared a settlement freeze was absolute up to and including natural growth? As he usually does, Charles Krauthammer cut through the chase:

No "natural growth" means strangling to death the thriving towns close to the 1949 armistice line, many of them suburbs of Jerusalem, that every negotiation over the past decade has envisioned Israel retaining. It means no increase in population. Which means no babies. Or if you have babies, no housing for them -- not even within the existing town boundaries. Which means for every child born, someone has to move out. No community can survive like that. The obvious objective is to undermine and destroy these towns -- even before negotiations.

Let's also remember that the Palestinian Authority had never demanded a settlement freeze as a precondition for talking to Israel. The Obama Administration did that on its own. So if Obama and Hillary are going to demand then Abbas has to demand it as well or be assassinated. Hell, a settlement freeze is now a pre-condition for proximity talks. If these are the pre-conditions Israel has to meet for not talking directly to the Palestinians I would hate to think what Israel would have to give up to have Mahmoud Abbas sit across the table from them.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Obamacare Passes 219-212

At 10:45 p.m., the Democrats got the 216th vote necessary to pass Obamacare in the House of Representatives amidst shouts of "Yes We Can!!!" "Yes We Can!!!"

Two minutes later the voting was complete. The final tally was 219-212.

Earlier in the day, Michigan Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak voted for Obamacare when President Obama agreed to issue an Executive Order prohibiting federal funding for abortion. This appears to have been the clincher in the passage of the bill.

So where do we go from here? That's the $64 trillion question.

Well, if Republicans gain control of the House and the Senate in November they can work to repeal Obamacare. It won't be easy. But if they get control of both houses they have to try. If they don't do at least that then GOP opposition will have been little more than a paper tiger.

Of course, for repeal to be a possibility the Republican have to win both Houses of Congress. Now, there are many who think tonight's vote automatically ensures a GOP triumph this fall. But a lot can happen in 7½ months. Now, let's suppose the GOP only has a partial victory. They take control of the Senate but the Democrats hang on to the House. A repeal might pass the Senate but would get nowhere in the House.

Needless to say, unless some other matter supplants health care, the Republicans number one promise for the mid-term elections has to be to repeal Obamacare.

Lewis & Carson Lied

Earlier today, I expressed skepticism towards the allegations from Democratic Congressmen John Lewis and Andre Carson that Tea Party protesters had shouted racial epithets towards them yesterday as they walked to the Capitol building.

Well, there's videotape evidence courtesy Dana Loesch that shows Tea Party protesters shouting "Kill The Bill" as Lewis and Carson are walking past them.

There was not a racial epithet to be heard.

John Lewis & Andre Carson lied about Tea Party protesters harboring racist sentiments when, in fact, they were only expressing opposition to Obamacare. In so doing they cheapened the meaning of racism and have thus cheapened themselves. Shame on them.

Statement from Americans United for Life denouncing Stupak's Executive Order compromise


"This deal to pass the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade is a tragedy for America. We believe that Mr. Stupak’s choice to succumb to the intense pressure of the last week has resulted in his endorsement of a charade that does not even begin to address the anti-life provisions in this legislation. The American people do not support taxpayer funding of abortion and Speaker Pelosi and the President have undermined representative democracy by working to pass this legislation with this unprecedented contortion of the legislative process."

- Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President & CEO of Americans United for Life Action

Media Contact:

I Don't Believe John Lewis & Andre Carson

Both RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Tea Party Express organizer Amy Kremer have condemned racial epithets allegedly directed towards Democratic Congressmen John Lewis and Andre Carson by Tea Party protesters. Both Lewis and Carson are members of the Congressional Black Caucus and were en route to Capitol Hill for a procedural vote.

I suppose Steele and Kremer had to address the matter but by making a condemnation they have effectively acknowledged the incident took place. Now perhaps Steele and Kremer know something I don't. But if we only have the word of Lewis and Carson on which to rely that any such incident took place then I'm inclined to be skeptical. Simply put, I do not believe John Lewis and Andre Carson when they claim Tea Party protesters shouted racial epithets at them.

Now, if I am presented with corraborating evidence confirming Lewis and Carson's version of events then I will condemn those acts of racism with the vigor they deserve. But it seems awfully convenient that Lewis and Carson were barraged with racial epithets the very weekend of the Obamacare vote.

There have been Tea Party gatherings in D.C. for nearly a year. That certainly creates the potential for plenty of interaction between protesters and elected officials. The liberal media have spent months accusing the Tea Party of harboring racist sentiments yet no one has made the allegation a Tea Party protester has shouted a racial epithet towards an elected official who happens to be African-American - until now on the very weekend of the Obamacare vote. Of course, a story like this would not only have the effect of diverting attention away from the Obamacare vote but also presents an opportunity for the liberal media to say, 'See we told you. The Tea Party people are a bunch of racists.' This despite all evidence to the contrary.

One must also remember that it was John Lewis who accused John McCain and Sarah Palin during the 2008 election of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division." When I asked Lewis about it when he spoke at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government shortlly after Obama's election in November 2008 he said he wasn't referring to McCain and Palin directly but rather at their audiences.

Lewis cited an incident alleged to have taken place during a Palin rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania in October 2008. He claimed that someone at that rally shouted "kill him" in reference to Obama. Lewis said he was based this information from reports on television and radio. But if Lewis had exercised due diligence he would have known that no such incident took place. You can't take what Keith Olbermann says at face value. According to the Secret Service, there were no such utterance. If there had been the Secret Service would have certainly taken action.

What I am saying here is that John Lewis isn't above accusing anonymous people of racism to advance his own political agenda and I believe that is what happened in this instance. Again, if I am presented with irrefutable, unimpeachable evidence that corraborates Lewis and Carson were subjected to racial epithets then I will condemn those acts with the vigor they deserve. But until then I must remain skeptical.

Betrayed by My Own Country

For the second time in my life I am feeling betrayed by my own country. The unwarranted imposition of government-controlled health care constitutes the betrayal.

The first betrayal occurred nearly forty years ago. My wife and I had just purchased a new house in a nice (integrated) neighborhood within walking distance of the university in which I was on the Mathematics faculty. Actually, a prime attraction of the house was that it was located close to an outstanding public elementary school that my kindergarten-age eldest son would attend. But less than three months into the school year, a myopic federal judge ordered my son bussed to a far away, inferior school in a ghastly neighborhood—all in furtherance of racial integration, whereas my neighborhood and my son's school were already completely integrated. I could not believe it. My liberties, my rights were being usurped. No county, state or federal legislator or executive did anything whatsoever to halt this gross miscarriage of justice.

This incident caused me to reevaluate all the political and social axioms that had governed my life. Suffice it to say that I emerged from the exercise converted from a misguided liberal into an ardent conservative. Nothing that has happened in the last four decades tells me that I made an incorrect decision.

I have felt many disappointments in that time as I watched our country slide ever closer to a Euro-socialist state. The people of the country do not appear to draw the right lessons from our: Ponzi-scheme entitlement programs; spiraling, out of control debt; government intrusion into virtually every aspect of our lives; crumbling free market system that is increasingly replaced by crony capitalism and socialist practices; debauched culture that undermines the morals, which our founders asserted were necessary for our Republic to survive; and our blatant and wanton violations of the Constitution.

But I have not felt personally betrayed as I did in the 1972-3 bussing incident—until now. I feel that the impending government takeover of health care is a personal threat to my liberty. When it is implemented, I will not have access to the doctors, hospitals and medicines that I might need in the latter part of my life. I will not be able to make the free choices that might enable me to live a longer and healthier life. Despite the clear and overwhelming opposition of the people, the radical in the White House and his socialist cronies in Congress are ramming their oppressive system down my throat. Betrayal! Whither my country?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hillary: Confrontation with Israel "Paying Off"

I don't like where this is headed.

In an interview with the BBC, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said its recent row with Israel was "paying off" because she believes this will lead to a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority:

I think what the prime minister (Netanyahu) has said repeatedly is that his government and he personally are committed to pursuing these negotiations and he just has to make sure that he brings in everyone else. That's his responsibility and it's not something that the United States can or is interested in doing.

What utter drivel!!!

Netanyahu has to bring in everyone else? Translation: Israel bears all of the pressure while the Palestinians have the Obama Administration in their corner.

Yet who was it that refused to return to the negotiating table even after Israel announced the 10 month settlement freeze? Why the Palestinian Authority, of course. Yet I don't recall any angry phone calls from Hillary Clinton to Mahmoud Abbas.

Obama & Netanyahu to Meet Next Tuesday

President Obama will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while Netanyahu is in Washington for the AIPAC Conference.

My guess is that after they've met they will address the media. Here are four things President Obama will say:

1. The relationship between the United States & Israel is stronger than ever.

2. Their conversation was candid yet constructive.

3. The United States is committed to Israel's security.

4. He will express hope for a lasting peace in the Middle East by calling on both the Israelis and Palestinians to come to the table and resume negotiations.

Of course, none if it will be true. But it will simmer things down.

Yet make no mistake. Whatever kind words President Obama might have on Tuesday, he and his Administration are no friend of Israel.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Imagine What Would Happen if Health Care Reform Failed to Pass in North Korea

If you think you have things bad you could always be in charge of currency reform in North Korea.

The socialist paradise has apparently seen fit to execute Pak-Nam gi by firing squad after his efforts to revalue North Korea's won resulted in the loss of whatever meager savings North Koreans had and excaberated food shortages.

Nancy Pelosi must be thanking her lucky stars she's in D.C. and not Pyongyang.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Alex Chilton,1950-2010. R.I.P.

Singer/guitarist Alex Chilton died today suddenly of a heart attack. He was 59.

Chilton is perhaps best known as the lead singer of the 1960s pop group The Box Tops. Their first single "The Letter" hit number one on the Billboard Charts in the summer of 1967 when Chilton was only sixteen. The Box Tops would score other hits such as "Cry Like a Baby", "Neon Rainbow" and my personal favorite "Soul Deep."

The Box Tops would disband in early 1970 but by the following year Chilton would form a new band called Big Star. Unlike the Box Tops, Chilton assumed songwriting duties along with guitarist and singer Chris Bell. Modeled on The Beatles (or more specifically Lennon & McCartney), Big Star did not have much commercial success with their first two albums (#1 Record and Radio City) and would break up by 1974. However, a third album of previously unreleased material titled Third/Sister Lovers (a.k.a. The Third Album) was made available in 1978. Listen to Chilton's vocals on "Holocaust." Shortly after the release of Third, Bell was killed in a car accident on Chilton's 27th birthday.

Big Star would prove to be an influence on artists such as R.E.M., Jeff Buckley (he covered "Kangaroo") and The Replacements. In the case of The Replacements they actually recorded a song titled, "Alex Chilton." Fifteen years later, Chilton and the other surviving members of Big Star would reunite. They would perform together periodically until the end of Chilton's life. In fact, Big Star was scheduled to perform this Saturday at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas.

I had the opportunity to see Chilton perform in concert twice here in Boston. The first time was a solo performance in the summer of 2001 at the Paradise Lounge. I actually bumped into him in the bathroom but he seemed preoccupied with his thoughts so I didn't want to bother him. He was mostly singing '50s covers that night and for whatever reason he really didn't seem to be into what he was doing. When I asked him to sing "Kangaroo" he shot me a cold stare. Apparently, Chilton wasn't such a big fan of Big Star's music and told an interviewer in 1995, "In general, I think it's overrated. There are only a few songs that I can stand to play anymore."

Nearly five years later, I saw him with The Box Tops. They were opening for Eric Burdon and The New Animals at Oldies 103.3 Free Summer Concert on the Esplanade on the Charles River. I had won VIP tickets through Oldies 103.3 and took a couple of my friends along. I was there principally to see Burdon but Chilton was an added bonus and he was much better that night than he was nearly five years earlier. Several months after this concert, Chilton had to be rescued from his home in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Chilton's musical tastes were difficult to pin down. How many artists try their hand at both jazz and punk rock?

Shortly before I went to see Chilton in concert that first time I composed this poem with him as well as the late Nick Drake in mind. It would appear in my first poetry chapbook Oysters & The Newborn Child:

A Skin Too Few

The hat drops
I remove the box top
And out came the big star
That the scientists said was light years far
The information it revealed
Needed to be disclosed
The star said the box had to be sealed
I could not agree to what it proposed
The public needs evidence empirical
Not just a statement lyrical
The star said, "Then off I shoot,"
Thus making my protests moot
The sight of the constellation
Was of small consolation
With my hand I tried to reach
But failed to listen to what it had to teach

If only I knew
When I was born
That I would have a skin too few
And that my welcome would be quickly worn
My existence you rescind
Like crumpled paper picked up by the wind
Is everything that I ever meant
Summed up by the smell of dried roses' scent

Herb Cohen,1932-2010. R.I.P.

Herb Cohen, a concert promoter, record company executive and business manager for artists like Frank Zappa, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Waits and Tim Buckley, died yesterday. The cause of his death is unknown. He was 77.

Cohen is most closely associated with Zappa. They were business partners in several different record labels (Straight, Bizarre and later DiscReet) that were distributed by Warner Brothers. But by 1976, their business relationship had disintegrated and the two were entangled in lawsuits for years thereafter.

However, I am familiar with Cohen because of his association with Tim Buckley. Cohen was a stark contrast to the waifish Buckley. Here's how David Browne, currently a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, described Cohen when Buckley first met Cohen in 1966 in his 2001 book Dream Brother: The Lives & Music of Jeff & Tim Buckley:

One of Herb Cohen's clients would later say that Cohen - or simply "Herbie," as he was often known - should have managed wrestlers or boxers, not rock stars. In fact, Cohen resembled an aging boxer himself. Short and stout, with a sliver of facial hair framing his jaw and a hardened, perpetually frowning mug, the thirty-four-year-old could have passed for a bearded fire hydrant.

Cohen not only looked tough he could act it as well whether it was in a Los Angeles nightclub or half way around the world. He also had an air of intrigue and mystery about him. Browne elaborates:

At that club (The Unicorn) and the Purple Onion, it wasn't uncommon for Cohen to keep a loaded .45 under the bar in case any fights broke out. If that didn't work, he would resort to whatever was available to stop a brawl. Associates and musicians recall seeing him unflinchingly smash sugar jars or coffee mugs into the faces of anyone who dared misbehave in one of his joints.

As the '60s began, restlessness and police hassles over cabaret laws led Cohen to begin another, entirely different career. Although Cohen himself won't confirm or deny it ("anything's possible," he comments), it's said he ventured into gun-running or mercenary soldiering in - depending on the source of the story - North Africa, Cuba, the Congo, or all three regions. "He was mainly seeing the world, but he was a wild guy," says Jerry Yester, who, as half of the Yester Brothers, worked with Cohen before his trip....Next came artist management, where his first client was Judy Henske (who would later marry Yester), an imposing, big-voiced Wisconsin singer who had played at Cosmo Alley. Henske was initially skeptical about the stories of Cohen's travels. "I thought, 'This is just some more of that Hollywood stardust stuff,'" she says. Then, while reading Peter Matthiessen's '60s Africa-travelogue book The Tree Where Man Was Born, Henske came across a description of "a bearded American veteran of the Israeli wars with a hidden sheath knife, beret, dark glasses, and gold earring." Recalls Henske, "I thought, 'Hmmm...It could be Herbie.'"

When Herb Cohen's memorial service occurs he will be described by mourners as many things. Boring will not be one of them.

Thomas Friedman is 100% Wrong About Salam Fayyad

In his column praising President Obama as being "100 percent right to call out Israel on its settlement expansion", Thomas Friedman positively gushes about Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad:

Fayyad is the most interesting new force on the Arab political stage. A former World Bank economist, he is pursuing the exact opposite strategy from Yasir Arafat. Arafat espoused a blend of violence and politics; his plan was to first gain international recognition for a Palestinian state and then build its institutions. Fayyad calls for the opposite — for a nonviolent struggle, for building noncorrupt transparent institutions and effective police and paramilitary units, which even the Israeli Army says are doing a good job; and then, once they are all up and running, declare a Palestinian state in the West Bank by 2011.

If Fayyad is so much in favor of nonviolent struggle why was it only last month that Fayyad personally paid his condolences to the family of Faiz Faraj who was killed by the IDF after he attempted to stab an Israeli soldier? It is also worth noting that the Palestinian Authority's state run newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida gave Faraj the honorific of Shahdid. This means that in the eyes of Muslims, Faraj has attained martyrdom.

Let's see what else Fayyad has been up to in recent weeks. Fayyad has encouraged violent protest against Israel's security fence as well as against Israel's decision to designate Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs as heritage sites. For good measure, he has called for an international boycott of Israeli goods.

Caroline Glick of The Jerusalem Post has described Fayyad as "a fiscally sound terror financier and sponsor, actively waging war against Israel."

Besides I am not sure how Palestinians are going to adopt nonviolent struggle so long as the Palestinian Authority honors the likes of Dalal Mughrabi, the woman responsible for the deadliest terrorist attack on Israeli soil. For more on Mughrabi and the Obama Administration's indifference to her glorification by the Palestinian Authority check out my latest article on the IC main site.

Suffice it to say, I believe Thomas Friedman to be 100% wrong about Salam Fayyad.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Smoltz Chooses Broadcasting Over Pitching & Politics

Future Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz will spend 2010 as a baseball broadcaster and commentator rather than pitch or enter politics.

Beginning next month, Smoltz will join both the MLB Network as a broadcaster and in studio analyst. He will also be a color commentator for TBS Sunday Afternoon Baseball as well as for some Atlanta Braves games.

Smoltz hasn't formally announced his retirement but he has very likely thrown his last pitch. After spending more than two decades with the Braves, Smoltz split 2009 with the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals where he pitched ineffectively. In 15 starts last season, Smoltz went 3-8 with a 6.35 ERA.

But Smoltz is a shoo in for Cooperstown. He's the only pitcher to have won more than 200 games while saving more than 150. Smoltz pitched in the post-season on 14 occasions including last fall with the Cardinals. He was also selected to 8 NL All Star teams, led the NL in wins and strikeouts twice and in saves once. His best season was in 1996 when he won 24 games en route to the NL Cy Young Award.

Off the field, Smoltz has thrown his personal support to several Republican candidates in Georgia. When Representative John Linder announced his retirement last month there was brief speculation the GOP was looking to Smoltz to fill the seat. However, Smoltz is not interested in pursuing politics at this stage of his life.

Besides I think he'll have a lot more fun in his new job.

Cahill Speaks Out Against Both Obamacare & MassCare

Massachusetts State Treasurer and independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill has come out against both Obamacare and MassCare, the universal health care program here in the Bay State. Cahill said if Obamacare is modeled after MassCare (which was started by then Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney) that it "would wipe out the American economy within four years." It could be that said that MassCare might lead to a "massacare."

After speaking with Cahill during a conference call W. James Antle, Associate Editor of The American Spectator wrote:

Politically, this not only lets Cahill tap into the anti-health care bill sentiment that helped elect Scott Brown to the Senate. It actually puts him to the right of Brown -- and Mitt Romney -- by marking him as an opponent of the Massachusetts health care reform.

I would take it one step further. It would also place Cahill to the right of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker. Although Baker is critical of the way Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has implemented MassCare he is supportive of MassCare in general.

According to the Charlie Baker 2010 Governor website, "Health care reform in Massachusetts was a strong step in the right direction." Given Baker's support of Romney's efforts, Cahill has placed Baker in a difficult position where it concerns MassCare. It should be noted that until last year, Charlie Baker was the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and had been in that role for more than a decade.

At this point, I am undecided as to who I'm going to vote for in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. Now I know I'm not casting a ballot for Deval Patrick. But just because Baker or Christy Mihos has an R in front of their name doesn't automatically ensure my vote. Today's statement by Cahill will give Republican voters in Massachusetts pause to entertain Cahill as their champion. Consider the words of South Shore Republican who sings the praises of Cahill on The Red Mass Group:

My point is this, fiscal conservatives have a viable choice in Tim Cahill if they have the intellectual maturity/imagination to step outside of the Republican box and support someone who has offered leadership on an issue of critical importance to both our Commonwealth and Republic. If Cahill isn't their choice though, they must insist that Baker do the same thing as Cahill has done and come out in opposition to this monstrosity (it'll be a lot easier now, and they can thank Tim for that). I know I'm with a candidate who was willing to take a stand and make a difference on the national stage by saying the Massachusetts Healthcare law has no clothes, but other conservatives have to make a decision soon. If Baker is too much the product of the HealthCare Industrial Complex (as evident in his prolific fundraising from these folks) to take on the machine and follow the lead of Tim Cahill in opposing Obamacare, then he simply doesn't deserve the support of conservatives.

Again I'm still undecided. But unless conservatives rally behind one candidate or the other it might very well grant Patrick a second term in office.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Peter Graves,1926-2010. R.I.P.

Actor Peter Graves died today of a heart attack. He was four days shy of his 84th birthday.

Graves is best known for starring on the popular '60s and '70s TV series Mission Impossible. The series would be revived in the late 1980s.

He is also known for his appearances in the two Airplane movies in the early 1980s. Peter Graves is probably the only one who could get away with asking a child, "Have you seen a grown man naked?"

In the 1990s, Graves served as the host of Biography on A&E.

I remember the late Phil Hartman did the great impersonation of Graves. It was an impersonation I liked to emulate especially when I saw Graves doing reverse mortgage commercials for American Advisors Group.

I did not know he was the younger brother of Gunsmoke star James Arness.

This post wll self-destruct in thirty seconds.

Was I Watching a Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Game or a PBS Pledge Drive?

This afternoon, I watched a spring training game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees on the MLB Network which was carrying the Pirates telecast.

For the first time in my life I wasn't sure if I was watching baseball or a pledge drive on PBS.

Pirates broadcasters Steve Blass and Tim Neverett spent more time pushing Pirates season tickets than describing the proceedings on the field.

In between innings they showed Pirates employees on the phones taking orders for season tickets. Blass and Neverett thanked those who purchased season tickets by name.

Some season ticket holders were given inducements such as taking batting practice at PNC Park or getting an autographed ball from Bill Mazeroski.

Blass said, "If you want to come to a Pirates game we'll make something work for you." The Pirates are doing everything but paying people to come see games.

Needless to say this doesn't happen in Red Sox Nation.

Of course, if I lived in the Pittsburgh area I would certainly consider some of the deals. You can get tickets to all 81 Pirates home games starting at $399. A premium box seat at Fenway Park costs $328. If you spend $246 that will get you into 41 Pirates home games. Twenty home games will set you back $140 while ten games will cost $72.

I don't blame the Pirates for trying to get people to come to PNC Park anyway they can. But bargain or no bargain, the Pirates will not get people to come to their games unless they put a good product out on the field. The Bucs haven't had a winning season since 1992. They certainly cannot trade half the team as they did last season. Nobody has any illusions about winning the NL Wild Card but a competitive team would help their cause tremendously.

That said the Pirates beat the Yankees 10-5. Bobby Crosby, a former AL Rookie of the Year and castoff from the Oakland Athletics, hit two home runs and a double after replacing an injured Ronny Cedeno in the 3rd inning. If he plays like that during the regular season he could become Pittsburgh's other Crosby. But one spring training game only tells you so much.

I suspect there will be more pledge drives in the Pirates future.

How Smart is Obama and is that the Right Question?

I should have realized that it was going to be a recurring theme when a liberal friend of mine said to me in January 2009 that "it will be a welcome change to have an intelligent occupant of the White House." From his arrival on the scene until today, we are repeatedly told that Obama is very smart and that this will enable him to be a very good President. There are two assertions of fact in that last sentence and I would like to test both.

Regarding his intelligence, it seems clear that Obama is above the mean. But his supporters suggest much more—implicitly and often explicitly—namely, that he is one of the smartest men ever to be President. The evidence for that is hardly conclusive. Pro: he ran a masterful campaign, both in the primaries and in the general election; he demonstrates a commanding knowledge of facts and figures about areas in which he has little background or experience; he handles himself with great poise in public arenas; and he can be quite eloquent in prepared speeches. Con: he has resisted making his academic record public; there is no evidence at all that he is an avid reader; he is apparently oblivious to the arrogance he displays toward those who disagree with him; his misreading of the American public over the last year is breathtaking; his eloquence dips precipitously when making extemporaneous remarks; and he has placed his trust (recently and in the past) in characters of dubious integrity.

Well, I'm sure he is smart, maybe even very smart. But the point is: whether he is or not is not terribly important. History has shown conclusively that the raw intelligence of our Presidents correlates not at all with their success. It is often asserted that Woodrow Wilson was the smartest President of the 20th century. Now it has taken history a while to catch up with his reputation; in fact, we know today that Wilson's ideas and "achievements" helped to ensure the onset of WWII and the modern welfare state. Spare me more brilliant chief executives like him. Others who have been anointed as highly intelligent include Kennedy, Nixon and Stevenson. Kennedy was an insignificant President, Nixon was a disaster and Stevenson's wit and intelligence were insufficient to get him elected. No one ever claimed that FDR, LBJ or Reagan were paragons of intellect. Yet they were the most transformative Presidents of the century.

Continuing in this vein, Adams was smarter than Washington and maybe than Jefferson too; but he was a far less effective President than either. Madison was brilliant, but his Presidency was much less successful than that of his successor, who did not have a reputation for brilliance. Lincoln was bright and effective. Andrew Johnson was a dolt and a calamity. Truman was no scholar, but his reputation is holding up. Hoover was clever, but an unmitigated horror.

What matters in a President is not his IQ, but his ideas together with his leadership, management and motivational skills. Obama might or might not be very smart. Who cares! More to the point, his ideas are terrifying. Moreover, the leadership, management and motivational skills he has displayed thus far are pathetic. I don’t know about you, but I am grateful for that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

An Evening with Toots Thielemans

Last night, I took my roommate Christopher to Scullers Jazz Club in Brighton to see harmonica legend Toots Thielemans play with pianist Kenny Werner and guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves.

As Thielemans put it, "It was Brussels sitting between Buenos Aires and Brooklyn."

I saw Thielemans play at Scullers about a decade ago not long after I arrived in Boston. But I thought I should see him play again. After all, the man is 87-years-old and father time can behave rather arbitrarily. Thielemans is physically more frail now. He had to be assisted to and from the stage. However, once he started playing the harmonica the clock turned back sixty years. He was smiling, laughing and had a great rapport with both Werner and Castro-Neves. The audience enjoyed it and were left wanting more.

After the show, Thielemans was sitting by the bar. I asked Christopher if he wanted to meet him. "No, I'm too intimidated," he said. But I had my Midnight Cowboy CD cover with me which I wanted Thielemanns to autograph. So while I had him sign my CD cover I introduced him to Christopher who greeted him effusively. It was Christopher's first time at a jazz club and it was well worth it.

Who knows? Perhaps Thielemans will still be playing Scullers in ten years from now. He played in Boston for the first time in 1953 with the Count Basie Orchestra and George Shearing (who himself is still going strong at 90 years old.) So why shouldn't he play on for another decade. On the other hand, he could be gone in two weeks. Either way I wanted to appreciate his artistry while he is still amongst us.

BTW, Thielemans did not play the theme from Midnight Cowboy so here he is playing it at Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Has Hillary Given Israel an Ultimatum?

It appears that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton read the Riot Act to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone in response to the announcement Israel would construct 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem. The announcement was made while Vice-President Joe Biden was in Israel earlier this week.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the announcement sent "a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the vice president's trip." Crowley went on to say that Clinton told Netanyahu his government "needed to demonstrate not just through words but through specific actions that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process."

Committed to this relationship? Does this mean Hillary and Bibi are dating?

So what specific actions is Hillary and by extension President Obama expecting Netanyahu to take?

At the very minimum I am sure they are demanding Netanyahu cancel this project. Yet somehow I don't think that will be sufficient for the Obama Administration. My guess is they will likely parrot the Palestinian Authority's position and call for a freeze to all settlement construction. They might even call for the dismantling of all settlements in the West Bank. Well, settlement evacuation really worked wonders in Gaza didn't it?

Who knows? Maybe Hillary will threaten Israel with UN sanctions. I'm sure even the Obama Administration could get the international community to agree to that.

I will repeat this again and again until the Obama Administration gets it through their thick skulls.


The settlements do not matter in the grand scheme of things. If all the Jewish settlements in Israel were to disappear tomorrow it would make no difference to the Palestinians. The Palestinians don't want to be neighbors with a Jewish state much less have Jews inside their borders. The settlements are not an impediment to the peace process because Palestinians have no desire to co-exist with Jews in any way, shape or form.

The Obama Administration is sending a very bad signal in publicly exerting far more pressure on an ally like Israel than it would ever entertain doing unto a sworn enemy like Iran. Instead of putting the pressure where it belongs the Obama Administration is once again flexing its moral cowardice that threatens to be its lingering legacy.

Torii Hunter Drops The Ball

I was surprised to see Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim centerfielder Torii Hunter designated as a pinhead during Bill O'Reilly's Patriots and Pinheads segment on last night's O'Reilly Factor.

Hunter is a huge fan favorite around MLB. He is one of those players who impresses fans of opposing teams with his skills. One of the reasons for his popularity is because he does he talking on the field.

However, a couple of weeks ago, Hunter described Latin Amerian ballplayers as "impostors" and went all Gary Sheffield on us:

People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they're African-American. They're not us. They're impostors. Even people I know come up and say: 'Hey, what color is Vladimir Guerrero? Is he a black player?' I say, 'Come on, he's Dominican. He's not black.' ...

As African-American players, we have a theory that baseball can go get an imitator and pass them off as us. It's like they had to get some kind of dark faces, so they go to the Dominican or Venezuela because you can get them cheaper. It's like, 'Why should I get this kid from the South Side of Chicago and have Scott Boras represent him and pay him $5 million when you can get a Dominican guy for a bag of chips?' ... I'm telling you, it's sad.

You might recall that during the 2007 season that Gary Sheffield, then a member of the Detroit Tigers, had choice words for Latin American ballplayers. When asked why there were more Latin Americans than African Americans in MLB Sheffield cut loose:

What I called is that you’re going to see more black faces, but there ain’t no English going to be coming out . . . (It’s about) being able to tell (Latin players) what to do – being able to control them. Where I’m from [Sheffield is from Tampa Bay] you can’t control us.

Sheffield's comments are sad but predictable. As I documented in this article he's been making these sorts of remarks for two decades. But Hunter is about the last African American player I would have expected to express such an opinion.

Now Hunter has since clarified his remarks stating the use of the word "impostor" was a "wrong word choice." I'd say there were a lot of wrong word choices. A bag of chips?

Hunter should know that Latin ballplayers were also subject to discrimination in MLB. While some Latin ballplayers broke into MLB other Latin ballplayers like Luis Tiant, Sr. (the father of Boston Red Sox legend Luis Tiant) were barred entry into MLB because their skin was too dark and ended up playing in the Negro Leagues instead.

When darker skinned Latin Americans were allowed to play big league ball they were subject to the same conditions as their African American counterparts. San Francisco Giants pitching legend Juan Marichal spoke of these experiences:

Those days were very tough, ... All my teammates are white and it was a different time. At times when we traveled, I couldn't go out to eat with the white players; I had to wait until someone brought something out to the bus. We couldn't stay in the same hotels or live in a different neighborhood.

Now Torii Hunter can thank his lucky stars he is African American. If a white ballplayer had said what he said he would have been fined, suspended and be declared persona non grata by the liberal media.

Torii Hunter is one of the greatest centerfielders to have ever played the game. However, on this play he dropped the ball.

Is Palin The Reason Betty White is Hosting SNL?

Does Betty White owe her career revival to dissing Sarah Palin on late night TV during the 2008 election campaign?

In an article appearing on, Mary Elizabeth Williams writes of White, There's something about the incongruity of a nice old lady being so tough, so dirty-mouthed, that makes for reliable comedy. One need only hear her refer to Sarah Palin as a "crazy bitch" to be smitten."

I must confess. I did not know the former Golden Girls had spoken about Palin in that way until now. But Palin is such a lightning rod it is easy to overlook the pantheon of public figures who have a made a point of being derogatory towards her.

Now there are those who might chide me for not having a sense of humor. But would Ms. Williams have been so smitten with Betty White had she called Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Rachel Maddow "a crazy bitch"?

If she had she certainly wouldn't be hosting Saturday Night Live.

Brooks Gets Obama Wrong

I read David Brooks' latest puff piece in The New York Times on President Obama.

Describing Obama as "a center-left pragmatic reformer" he claims "conservatives are wrong to call him a big-government liberal." How exactly does adding nearly $10 trillion to the national debt this decade make Obama "a center-left pragmatic reformer"? Brooks declares this development "the greatest moral challenge of our day" and by his own admission he deems Obama's response to it as "inadequate."

It is difficult for me to take Brooks seriously when he claims Obama "moderately tinkers with the status quo" when it comes to health care reform. I would hardly characterize the government takeover of one sixth of our economy as an act of moderate tinkering.

It's also difficult for me to take Brooks seriously when he writes passages such as, "He always uses the same on-the-one-hand-on-the-other sentence structure. Government should address problems without interfering with the dynamism of the market." If Brooks honestly thinks the government takeover of the banks, auto industry and now health care hasn't changed the dynamism of the market then he is truly insulated from the real world and its consequences.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Merlin Olsen, 1940-2010. R.I.P.

NFL legend, broadcaster and actor Merlin Olsen died yesterday of mesothelioma. He was 69.

Olsen played his entire NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams. He was a defensive tackle comprising one quarter of the "Fearsome Foursome" which also included Rosie Grier, Deacon Jones and Lamar Lundy. Olsen was NFL Rookie of the Year in 1962, named to 14 Pro Bowl teams and was the NFL MVP in 1974. He would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982. Olsen also served as a color commentator alongside Dick Enberg for NFL telecasts on NBC from 1977 to 1988.

But perhaps Olsen is best known for his work as an actor. Olsen joined the cast of Little House on the Prairie in 1979 and would later star in Father Murphy, another NBC series produced by Michael Landon, which ran from 1981 to 1983. His Little House co-star Melissa Gilbert, writing on Twitter, described Olsen as "the personification of the Gentle Giant. Forever now, a guardian angel." This scene from Little House is how I remember Olsen best.

In recent years, Olsen had kept a lower profile. But last year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma he sued NBC, 20th Century Fox, Sherwin Williams and Lennox Industries for exposing him to asbestos. The lawsuit is still pending.

Olsen is the second Los Angeles sports legend to pass away within 24 hours. Willie Davis, a mainstay with the Dodgers in the 1960s and early 1970s, died on Tuesday.

New Chilean President Greeted With 7.2 Aftershock

An aftershock of 7.2 has hit Chile the same day its new President, Sebastian Pinera, is set to take office. The aftershock struck 77 miles southwest of Santiago.

Of course, Chile is already reeling from earthquake that measured 8.8 on the Richter scale back on February 27th. It has claimed the lives of nearly 500 people and has caused billions of dollars in damage.

Pinera was elected in January ending more than two decades of left of center rule in Chile. Most new Presidents have a grace period with their electorate. But under the circumstances I don't think Pinera is going to have that luxury. On the other hand, Pinera has been a successful entrepreneur. Where most people see problems successful entrepreneurs see opportunities. One can only hope that Pinera's entrepreneurial skills will serve him well in what is Chile's greatest crisis since the dark days of the Pinochet regime.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nomar Retires

Nomar Garciaparra signed a one-day minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox for the purpose of announcing his retirement.

He made the announcement at the Red Sox spring training facilities in Fort Myers, Florida.

Garciaparra made his MLB debut with the Red Sox late in the 1996 season. He would be named AL Rookie of the Year in 1997 when he collected a league leading 209 hits while batting .306. Nomar would be an instrumental part of the 1998 and 1999 AL Wild Card champion Red Sox. He finished runner up to Juan Gonzalez in the vote for the 1998 AL MVP. He would capture back to back AL batting titles in 1999 and 2000 hitting .357 and .372, respectively.

Nomar was part of a triumvirate of power hitting shortstops along with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Although he missed nearly the entire 2001 season with his wrist injury he would hit over .300 and have 100 plus RBI seasons in both 2002 and 2003.

However, Nomar would fall out of favor with the Red Sox ownership team of John Henry and Tom Werner for his propensity to swing at the first pitch, his declining range at short and the injury bug. The Red Sox would trade Nomar to the Chicago Cubs on July 31, 2004 in a four team deal which brought Orlando Cabrera to Boston. Many believe this was the turning point in the Red Sox season which would result in their first World Series title since 1918. Indeed, came the equation 1918 + 34 + 33 + 24 - 5 = 2004. Translation: 1918 plus David Ortiz plus Jason Varitek plus Manny Ramirez minus Nomar equals 2004.

Nomar's post-Red Sox career was spotty although he was named NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2006 with the Dodgers when he hit .303 with 20 home runs and 93 RBI. However, the injury bug returned and he would finish his career last season with the Oakland Athletics. Last July, nearly five years after being traded away, Nomar returned to Fenway Park with a warm standing ovation.

Nomar finished his big league career with a .313 lifetime batting average, two AL batting titles, six All-Star Game appearances (five in the AL & one in the NL) and five post-season appearances. He will join ESPN as a baseball analyst.