Friday, April 30, 2010

MLB Notes for April

Here are some observations about the happenings in MLB in the first month of the 2010 season.

1. Tampa Bay Rays

At 17-6, the Rays have the best record in MLB. They appear to have regained the form that earned them an AL championship in 2008 especially their starting rotation. Matt Garza, James Shields and David Price have a combined record of 10-2 with an ERA of 2.68.

The downside with the Rays is their attendance. Despite their early success they have not drawn well at Tropicana Field. Fewer than 11,000 fans showed up to see the Rays two nights ago as they downed the Oakland Athletics 10-3.

2. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are already 12 games back of the Rays in the AL East with a MLB worst 5-18 record (although they have won three of their last five games).

They weren't expected to be a contender but they weren't expected to be this bad either. Rookie southpaw Brian Matusz is the only member of the starting rotation to record a win accounting for half the team's victories this season. The bullpen (outside of Will Ohman and Jason Berken) have been even worse.

But their offense has been the most disappointing aspect of their game. The O's miss Brian Roberts at the top of their order and the team has been slumping at the plate. Only Ty Wigginton (who is filling for Roberts at 2B) and the reacquired Miguel Tejada have been hitting with any consistency.

Needless to say manager Dave Trembley is living on borrowed time.

3. New York Mets

A couple of weeks ago, Mets skipper Jerry Manuel found himself on the hot seat as well. But that was before the Mets played a 20-inning game with the St. Louis Cardinals in which they prevailed 2-1. Since the 20-inning game, the Mets have gone 10-2 and are currently on an eight game winning streak. They now occupy first place in the NL East with a 1½ game lead over the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Move over Johan Santana. Mike Pelfrey wants to be the ace of the staff. David Wright has the right stuff again while rookie first baseman Ike Davis might give Justin Heyward of the Atlanta Braves a run for his money in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting.

4. Atlanta Braves

The Braves, on the other hand, have gone in entirely the opposite direction. On April 20th, the Braves were 8-5. They tend embarked on a 9 game losing streak which ended this evening with a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros. What a difference ten days can make. Although they are now in last place in the NL East they are still only five games back of the Mets. It can't be much fun for Bobby Cox no matter how much he watches Justin Heyward play.

5. A Topsy Turvy NL West (San Diego Padres & Los Angeles Dodgers)

If you asked most people to predict the NL West before the beginning of the season the Dodgers would have likely been picked to finish first while the Padres likely would have been picked to finish last. Yet at 15-8, the Padres own the best record in the NL at one point winning eight games in a row. The Dodgers snapped a five game losing streak tonight against the Pirates but remain six games back of the Padres.

While the Padres have no pressure on them the Dodgers are under constant scrutiny. Despite Dodgers centerfielder Matt Kemp leading the team in home runs and RBIs it didn't prevent Dodgers GM Ned Coletti from publicly ripping him earlier this week for his defensive play.

6. Kelly Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks

Who would have picked the former Braves castoff to be leading the NL in home runs with 9? The D'Backs second baseman hit 8 home runs in slightly over 300 at bats with the Braves last season. The Braves could sure use him about now.

7. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox

Meanwhile, the veteran Chisox first baseman is leading MLB with 11 home runs.

8. Matt Capps, Washington Nationals

After being made to walk the plank by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the offseason, all Capps has done in first month of the 2010 season is to save 10 games which gives him the lead in the NL. Capps has been the crucial figure in the Nationals' strong April showing. The Pirates meanwhile signed Octavio Dotel, a closer nearly a decade older than Capps. Dotel has saved only three games for the Bucs this season.

9. Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee Brewers

The all-time MLB leader in saves needs only six more to reach 600 for his career. But it's not going well for him. Apparently, NL hitters can't distinguish between his fastball and his changeup. As of this writing, Hoffman is 1-2 with an astronomical 13.00 ERA with only three saves to show for his troubles. He has given up 13 runs in only nine innings pitched. The ninth inning used to be "Trevor Time." Well, now time appears to be closing on the game's greatest relief pitcher.

10. Colby Lewis, Texas Rangers

The Rangers starter is the very definition of a reclamation project. Originally a supplemental first round draft pick by the Rangers in the 1999 MLB Draft (teammate Josh Hamilton was top pick in that draft) Lewis never lived up to expectations. He did win 10 games for the Rangers in 2003 but recorded an ERA of 7.30. Lewis would hurt his shoulder the following year and spent the next three seasons with four different organizations (Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals) before going to Japan prior to the 2008 season.

It was in Japan that Lewis modifiied his pitching style. After spending two seasons in Japan, Lewis returned to the Rangers this off-season. As of this writing, Lewis is 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA. Tonight, he may have pitched his greatest game of his big league career against the Seattle Mariners. Lewis pitched nine shutout innings striking out ten batters. He surrendered only three hits while walking one batter. Unfortunately, the game was still scoreless into extra innings so Lewis did not figure in the decision but the Rangers would win 2-0 in 12 innings. Lewis is an early candidate to be 2010 AL Comeback Player of the Year.

MLB Players Association Rips Arizona Immigration Law

A few days ago I wrote about the possible implications the newly passed immigration law in Arizona could have for Major League Baseball given that a significant number of MLB players are from Latin American countries (including Mexico) or are American born with Latino heritage (usually Puerto Rican):

I have no doubt MLB will prep player personnel with regard to the law of the land in Arizona. But if a player were to get caught up in a misunderstanding arising over this legislation the repercussions could have long term effects on MLB's relationship with the state of Arizona.

Today, the Major League Baseball Players Association weighed in on the matter. (H/T Daniel Foster of The Corner at NRO). Michael Weiner, Executive Director of the MLBPA, has asked Arizona to either repeal or modify the law. If the legislation is enacted as is Weiner stated, "If the current law goes into effect, the MLBPA will consider additional steps necessary to protect the rights and interests of our members."

Now, I don't think the Arizona Diamondbacks are going anywhere. But other teams could move their spring training facilities from Arizona. The Arizona Fall League could be relocated and as could the 2011 MLB All-Star Game from Phoenix to another National League city. As of this writing, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has made no public comment about the law. But if he does speak out and his comments mirror those of Weiner then there could be trouble.

Earlier today, the Arizona legislature announced it had adopted some amendments to the legislation. Whether that will be sufficient to mollify the MLBPA remains to be seen. But even if it does mollify them I suspect it won't mollify pro-amnesty forces who smell blood in the water.

Axelrod Claims Crist Was Run Out of GOP

David Axelrod claims Florida Governor Charlie Crist was run out of the GOP Senate Primary.

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America Axelrod said, "They recruited him for this Senate race and now he's been run out of the party. It really speaks to the way the party is moving to the right."


Crist ran himself out of the GOP. Scarcely three weeks ago, Crist ruled out a run as an Independent. Crist's campaign manager Erik Eikenberg insisted that this was nothing more than a rumor launched by Marco Rubio's campaign. Or should I say Crist's ex-campaign manager?

Crist alienated Republicans by going out of his way to support President Obama's stimulus bill. But Rubio also captured the imagination of conservatives and presented a viable alternative to Crist. Rubio would have crushed Crist in the August primary and his political career would have been over. But now Crist has a fighting chance against Rubio and Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek.

Now I don't blame Crist for his actions yesterday. Crist is playing the only card he has left even though he said he wouldn't. It isn't the first time a politician has said he won't do something and does it anyway and it won't be the last.

So I disagree with Rich Lowry when he writes, "Crist could have bowed out gracefully, except it would have required entirely too much grace." Crist is right when he tells the people of Florida, "It's your decision to make." As Jim Antle from The American Spectator writes, "He wants to be around forever. Florida voters may decide they want a more temporary relationship with him." But the elections are just over six months away. A lot is going to happen between now and then and the ride could be bumpier than at Universal Studios Orlando.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Reasonable Case for Reasonable Suspicion in Arizona

I must confess that I had some reservations about Arizona's new immigration law. But I wanted more information before I commented one way or the other.

My main concern revolved around "reasonable suspicion." Specifically, what "reasonable suspicion" would lead a state, county or local law enforcement official to believe a person was not in the United States legally and thus take the step of making a formal inquiry into said person's immigration status?

Kris Kobach answers that question in an op-ed in The New York Times titled, "Why Arizona Drew a Line?":

Over the past four decades, federal courts have issued hundreds of opinions defining those two words. The Arizona law didn’t invent the concept: Precedents list the factors that can contribute to reasonable suspicion; when several are combined, the “totality of circumstances” that results may create reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.

For example, the Arizona law is most likely to come into play after a traffic stop. A police officer pulls a minivan over for speeding. A dozen passengers are crammed in. None has identification. The highway is a known alien-smuggling corridor. The driver is acting evasively. Those factors combine to create reasonable suspicion that the occupants are not in the country legally.

That's what I needed. A real world example. The most salient point Kobach (who is running for Secretary of State in Kansas) makes is that Arizona didn't just suddenly invent the term reasonable suspicion. To be certain, reasonable suspicion is open to reasonable debate and reasonable doubt. But it's not as if we don't have any case law to draw upon.

In fact, Rich Lowry from The Corner at National Review Online draws our attention to a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court decision Muehler v. Mena in which the Court ruled the police did not require reasonable suspicion to ask a person in detention about their immigration status and thus did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Incidentally, the decision was unanimous.

Iran "Elected" to UN Commission on Women's Rights

Yes, you read that right.

Not only that but they were elected by acclamation. Simply put no member state requested a vote including the United States. The Obama Administration at work. But what can you expect? They're too busy directing their animosity towards Israel.

So for the next four years Iran will "evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide."

I wonder what those global standards would be. Arresting women for licking ice cream or eating apples too provocatively?

What's going to happen next? Iran on the UN Disarmament Commission?

Oh wait! That already happened.

Is Gordon Brown Really Sorry?

It appears that Gordon Brown that put the final nail into his coffin and will soon be carried out of 10 Downing Street.

During a campaign stop, Brown had a brief conversation about immigration with Gillian Duffy, a lifelong Labour Party supporter. When Brown returned to his car with his microphone still on he described the encounter as a "disaster" and then called Duffy as "a bigoted woman."

Brown subsequently offered a public apology. But it was completely insincere. He claimed he wasn't given a chance to answer Duffy's question about immigration. Rubbish. Brown ended the conversation. He assailed broadcasters for having "chosen to have played my private conversation."

Gordie, let me break it to you. If you are wearing a microphone there is no private conversation. The fact Brown would try to blame the broadcasters for his words that left his mouth indicates to me that Brown is not sorry for what he said but rather that he is sorry that he got caught.

That said when I learned about this incident the first thing I thought of was Joe The Plumber's encounter with Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign. Now, Obama didn't say anything disparaging about Samuel Wurzelbacher. Yet let's not forget how severely he was scrutinized after meeting with Obama. The point I am making is that if Obama had said something untoward about Gillian Duffy the liberal media would have given Duffy the Joe The Plumber treatment rather than have taken Obama to task.

This isn't to say that the British media isn't left-wing but I find them more even handed in their scrutiny of public officials. Take this tough line of questioning of Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State of Health, over the Brown incident. (In the interest of full disclosure, Burnham was my boss when I worked as an intern for Labour MP Tessa Jowell from January to March 1995. I also must confess that until now I had not realized he had gone on to become an MP and a member of Brown's cabinet).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Frampton Thanks Churchill But Voted For Obama

Yesterday, Peter Frampton came out with a new album titled Thank You Mr. Churchill.

It's an autobiographical album which begins with the title track. "It starts with my birth, which I thank Mr. Churchill for bringing my father back from the Second World War," said the British born guitar hero. A live version of the song can be heard here.

I wonder how Frampton's admiration for Churchill sits with President Obama. After all Obama holds Churchill in extraordinarily low regard. Come to think of it I wonder if Frampton is aware of Obama's disdain of The Last Lion.

I ponder this because Frampton backed Obama in the 2008 election. Frampton, who lives near Cincinnati, became a naturalized American citizen after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Frampton is best known for his 1976 double live album Frampton Comes Alive. However, I'm partial to his time with Humble Pie where he shared vocal duties with Steve Marriott of The Small Faces and Greg Ridley of Spooky Tooth for four albums between 1969 and 1971 before embarking on a solo career in 1972. Sadly, both Marriott and Ridley have passed on. My favorite Humble Pie song is called "Home and Away" which was co-written by Frampton and Ridley.

Could Iran Launch a Nuclear Attack on U.S. From Venezuela?

This is not reassuring.

What is even less reassuring is this Pentagon report will not stir the Obama Administration to take the necessary measures to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

In fact nothing will.

In which case it is not inconceivable that Iranian paramilitary forces would launch a nuclear attack on the United States from Venezuela with the full blessing of Hugo Chavez.

I shudder at the thought. It should give the Obama Administration chills too. But it doesn't because they have no spine.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Will Baseball Fans Boycott The Arizona Diamondbacks?

I have not made any comment concerning immigration legislation signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer last week. At this point, I will continue to withhold comment until I have some questions I have answered.

However, it is worth noting that boycott efforts against Arizona are already underway including one urging baseball fans to refrain from attending Arizona Diamondbacks games.

As of this writing the D'Backs are 9-10 as we approach the end of April. In 2009, the D'Backs finished in last place in the NL West. If they play like they did last year then baseball fans will refrain from attending D'Backs games, immigration law or no immigration law.

Yet it must be noted that Phoenix is set to host the 2011 MLB All-Star Game. Don't be surprised if pressure is brought to bear against MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to move the game to another National League city. If Selig doesn't bow to that kind of pressure then I think the pro-amnesty forces might urge the game's top Latin American players to refuse to attend the game if they are selected to their league's All Star Team. If someone like Albert Pujols (who is arguably the best player in the game) were to refuse to attend in protest against this law then people will sit up and take notice and for all the wrong reasons.

Currently, there are only 11 players born in Mexico on big league rosters. But there are a lot of players from countries like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic not to mention American players from Puerto Rico. Let's also remember that many of them under spring training in Arizona. And lest we forget the Arizona Fall League.

I have no doubt MLB will prep player personnel with regard to the law of the land in Arizona. But if a player were to get caught up in a misunderstanding arising over this legislation the repercussions could have long term effects on MLB's relationship with the state of Arizona.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Comedy Central Is No Jyllands-Postens Or Is It?

Earlier today, I weighed in on the controversy surrounding the decision of Comedy Central to heavily censor Wednesday night's episode of South Park with regard to the Prophet Mohammed.

I concluded my post by stating, "Comedy Central is no Jyllands-Posten."

I may have spoken too soon because it appears that Jyllands-Posten is putting Kurt Westergaard, the man at the center of the Danish cartoon controversy, on indefinite leave "for security reasons."

I guess this means Jyllands-Posten is no Jyllands-Posten.

Comedy Central Submits to Islamic Intimidation

Comedy Central has bowed to Islamic intimidation. Although South Park was broadcast on Wednesday night not only did the network censor images of the Prophet Mohammed but they also bleeped out dialogue other than swear words. One critical piece of dialogue that was bleeped out was a speech by Kyle Broflowski about intimidation.

I was at the Cantab on Wednesday so I hoped to see the episode repeated at midnight. But Comedy Central did not rebroadcast the episode and aired another episode instead.

If that wasn't bad enough a former Comedy Central employee named Lindsay Robertson wrote a blog condemning South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. What if any connection she had to South Park isn't clear bu she referred to Parker and Stone as "assholes":

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are assholes. This should be the real angle of the story going around today, not something that paints them as heroes for free speech. They owe an apology to every Comedy Central employee they’ve put in danger in pursuit of their own glory and publicity. Hopefully, and probably, nothing will happen except a few hundred people having anxiety for a few weeks, but if god forbid something does, it is on Trey Parker and Matt Smith’s shoulders.

What absolute drivel!!!

Parker and Stone put no one in danger. The spectre of violence was raised by Revolution Muslim when they showed an image of a mutilated Theo van Gogh and suggested this would be the fate of Parker and Stone. Yet Ms. Robertson does not see fit to condemn Revolution Muslim and indeed makes no mention of them in her post.

If we take Ms. Robertson's argument to its logical conclusion then Theo van Gogh was an asshole for making a film about violence against Muslim women and the violence visited upon him at the hands of Mohammed Bouyeri rests on van Gogh's shoulders.

What I find even more disturbing is that Hollywood isn't sticking up for Parker and Stone. Although Jon Stewart told Revolution Muslim off he did state Comedy Central was within its rights to censor the episode as it saw fit. As Eric Cartman would say, "Lame." Well, given that Comedy Central airs his show I guess Stewart knows who butters his bread and its not "Butters" Stotch.

If a cable network can so easily crumble before the rantings of a bunch of thugs then I'm afraid it doesn't say very much about its willingness to defend free speech. Comedy Central is no Jyllands-Posten.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In Defense of Lindsay Graham

William Gheen, President of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), has apparently "outed" South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham.

By all means disagree with Graham over his support of amnesty.

By all means disagree with Graham's association with the group La Raza.

By all means disagree with Graham over his support of cap and trade.

By all means disagree with Graham over his apparent deal with the Obama Administration to close Gitmo.

But this is sheer stupidity!!!

Assuming that Graham is gay it is absolutely none of Gheen's business. If a person is gay or lesbian and if they want to come out they should do so on their terms. Gheen took that chance away from Graham.

Of course, if what Gheen says isn't true then Gheen has borne false witness.

Here's one statement from Gheen I find particularly troubling:

I personally do not care about Graham's private life, but in this situation his desire to keep this a secret may explain why he is doing a lot of political dirty work for others who have the power to reveal his secrets. Senator Graham needs to come out of the closet inside that log cabin so the public can rest assured he is not being manipulated with his secret.

If that is Graham's motive, it would certainly explain a lot.

The above statement suggests that Graham's views are not sincerely held. Now, let's disagree with Graham to our heart's content. But let us not assume he is insincere about his views however much we might not favor them. Without incontrovertible evidence Gheen is simply wrong to make such a statement.

Now to be sure Gheen could make the case that a lot more people know about him and ALIPAC than they did a week ago (I have been receiving their e-mails for quite some time now). I'm sure Gheen is figuring bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.

But as of right now why should I take anything William Gheen or ALIPAC has to say seriously?
When I think of Gheen and ALIPAC I won't think about immigration policy but rather about a loose cannon who cannot countenance disagreement.

Gheen's remarks also hurt the Tea Party movement. After all, he delivered them at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina. Casting those kind of aspersions will simply allow liberals to say, "See, this is what they do to Republicans who they think are gay." Now one can say liberals would disparage the Tea Party anyway. True enough. But in this instance their criticism would be valid. If I were a Tea Party organizer in South Carolina I would distance myself from Gheen with the speed of Jesse Owens.

Let's be clear. Lindsay Graham deserves a great deal of criticism for his position on immigration and other matters. If Graham continues to make conservatives unhappy then by all means he should be challenged in the 2014 GOP primary in South Carolina.

But for Gheen to take this approach removes all attention from Graham's views and intrudes into a part of his life that is none of our business unless he says otherwise. All Gheen has done is open up a tidal wave of sympathy towards Graham including my own.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

People Who Are Funny

Last week, I declared that Tina Fey isn't funny.

An anonymous reader replied to the post and asked a very reasonable question:

Who do you think is funny?

So here's a list of people I consider funny. Some of these people make me laugh out loud. Some of these people are more subtle in their humor. Some of these people made me laugh for one thing while others for a multitude of reasons. Some of these people aren't always funny. Some of these people aren't as funny as they used to be. Some of these people are sadly no longer with us.

I'm sure I'll leave some people off but away we go:

Mel Brooks
Gene Wilder
Richard Pryor
Bill Cosby
Ernie Kovacs
George Burns
Charlie Chaplin
Laurel & Hardy
The Marx Brothers
The Three Stooges
Harold Lloyd
Buster Keaton
John Candy
Eugene Levy
Joe Flaherty
Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas (a.k.a. Bob & Doug McKenzie)
Gilda Radner
Larraine Newman
Jane Curtin
Madeline Kahn
Bea Arthur
Slim Whitman
Carol Burnett
Harvey Korman
Tim Conway
Peter Sellers
John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd
Robin Williams
Abbott & Costello
W.C. Fields
Yogi Berra
Mel Blanc (the voice & mind behind Bugs Bunny)
Bill Murray
Catherine O'Hara
Andrea Martin
Flip Wilson
George Wallace (no not that George Wallace)
Monthy Python
Peter Cook & Dudley Moore
Rowan Atkinson
Eddie Murphy
Dennis Miller
Dana Carvey
Billy Crystal
Christopher Guest
Cheech & Chong
Wendy Liebman
John Larroquette
Not The Nine O'Clock News
Sam Kinison
Steve Landesberg
Benny Hill
Chris Farley
Steve Martin
Weird Al Yankovic
Leslie Nielsen
The Kids In The Hall
David & Jerry Zucker (creators of Airplane)
The Smothers Brothers
Woody Allen
Jon Byner
Bob Einstein (a.k.a. Super Dave Osborne)
Trey Parker & Matt Stone (creators of South Park)
Jeffrey Tambor
Gary Shandling
Johnny Carson
Conan O'Brien
Martin Short
Harry Shearer
Robert Klein
The cast of Taxi
Wayne & Shuster
Steven Wright
Sacha Baron Cohen
Bob Newhart
Jackie Mason
Rodney Dangerfield
David Brenner
David Steinberg
Mike Myers
Red Foxx
Dick Gregory
Howie Mandel
Walter Matthau
Jackie Gleason & Art Carney
Jerry Lewis
André-Phillipe Gagnon
Dom DeLuise
Jason & Randy Sklar
George Carlin

Obama Tells Heckler to Hollar at Others

A couple of nights ago, President Obama was heckled in Los Angeles during a fundraising speech he gave on behalf of California Senator Barbara Boxer who is facing a tough re-election bid.

The heckler was peeved at Obama for not repealing "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays and lesbians in the military. President Obama told the heckler that he was in the midst of doing just that. But when the heckler persisted Obama said, "It would make more sense to hollar that to the people who oppose it."

So it seems that President Obama thinks it's perfectly alright to heckle people with whom you disagree as long as you don't heckle him. I'm afraid his skin isn't getting any thicker.

At least one blogger believes the heckler was a plant. I disagree. The LGBTQ community is peeved with Obama over both "don't ask, don't tell" and for defending the Defense of Marriage Act. In fact, a week ago at the Cantab a poet named James Caroline was handing out flyers for a planning meeting. A week of direct action is planned for the week of May 17-22 (Harvey Milk would have been 80 on May 22nd).

Tonight, I am planning to read James (or J*me as he likes to be called) a poem which focuses on Ronald Reagan's role in the defeat of Proposition 6 in California in 1978. Milk's role in mobilizing people against the Prop 6 was, of course, the centerpiece of the film Milk which starred Sean Penn and garnered him an Academy Award.

I hope it will get J*me to look at Reagan in a new light but I have few illusions. Even though I'm in general agreement with the Cantab poets and their audience when it comes to gay rights somehow I don't think it will matter. I am sure I will be heckled for opinions that aren't mine. It's par for the course. But that won't stop me from trying.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Radical Muslim Website Threatens South Park Creators

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the co-creators of South Park, have been threatened on a Muslim website following the airing of the 200th episode of South Park last Wednesday.

Revolution Muslim, a group based Brooklyn, objected to the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in the episode. Their website posted an image of the mutilated body of Theo van Gogh and suggested Parker and Stone would probably end up like him. The Dutch filmmaker collaborated with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the ten minute film Submission which addressed the issue of violence against Muslim women. In November 2004, Van Gogh was shot and stabbed in broad daylight by Mohammed Bouyeri.

In addition to posting the gruesome photo of van Gogh, Revolution Muslim also published the address of Comedy Central in New York as well as the address of Parker and Stone's production studio in Los Angeles. A website in the U.K. devoted to South Park has returned the favor.

Ironicially, Mohammed is never actually seen in the episode. He is dressed up in a bear suit. Consider what Douglas Murray wrote in The Daily Telegraph:

All of which of course just confirms the point that the South Park boys were making. The anniversary show figured the inventors of all the major world religions. They showed Buddha snorting drugs. They did not even show Mohammed, as their broadcast network wouldn’t allow them to. Noticeably, no death threats have emanated from Buddhists for showing their founder as a drug-addict. But for not even showing Mohammed, and for pointedly demonstrating that they could not, an extremist Muslim group has threatened them.

In another twist of irony when Mohammed was physically depicted in an episode called "Super Best Friends" which originally aired in July 2001 never heard was a discouraging word. But when Parker and Stone did an episode in April 2006 called "Cartoon Wars" which was a commentary on the Danish cartoon controversy Comedy Central refused to show an image of Mohammed.

For his part, Stone said in an interview with Boing Boing, "It matters to me when I talk about Mohammed that I can say we did this, we did this and we did this and I can stand behind it. Me. Just me. I don't think it's going to change the world. But for us it's this has got to be the way it is for our show. So it does matter to me. Those kind of discussions matter."

Yes these discussions do matter. But when President Obama orders all words referring to Islam be removed from national security documents it does not create a climate conducive to candid conversation. It also creates a climate where organizations like Revolution Muslim can operate with impunity. We are not far removed from being prohibited from stating that al Qaeda attacked American soil on September 11, 2001.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thoughts on the Oklahoma City Bombing 15 Years After

I'm glad I kept a diary.

I knew I was overseas when the Oklahoma City bombings occurred. But I couldn't remember where exactly I was when they occurred. My memory simply isn't what it used to be. But I can tell you I was based in London for the winter semester of 1995 where I was working as a parliamentary intern for Jimmy Wray, a Labour MP from Glasgow. It was also around this time I accompanied Jimmy to a Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg.

So I rummaged through my old diaries and lo and behold there it was. As it turns out I found out while having lunch with a young woman named Joy Kramper who told me what had happened. She was a student from Catholic University in Washington D.C. who was also working as an intern at Westminster. We were both part of an exchange program with the University of Leeds.

If I remember correctly she interned for a Labour MP named George Robertson who was also from Scotland. When Tony Blair became Prime Minister two years later he appointed Robertson as Minister of Defence. Robertson would later serve as Secretary General of NATO and is now a member of the House of Lords.

What I do remember is that I was quite fond of Joy. We went out a couple of times. On one occasion, we went to see Conversations With My Father starring Judd Hirsch at the Old Vic. However, nothing would ultimately come of it. It wasn't the first time and it certainly wasn't the last. C'est la vie. The last time I saw her was by chance in Ottawa either later that same year or in 1996. But I digress.

I should note that I did not find out what had happened until the day after the attacks. It is worth noting the attacks were first commented upon in the Commons on the 20th. So here's what I wrote in my diary on April 20, 1995:

It was during lunch that she told me about the terrorist bombing of a U.S. government building in Oklahoma City killing over 50 people, many of them infants from the nursery in the basement of the building. Speculation abounds as to who could be behind such a heinous and cowardly act - Abu Nidal, the Branch Davidians, the IRA. Although Joy has no connection to Oklahoma, it both saddened and frightened her. I felt my stomach turn when I saw the picture of a fireman holding a bloody and helpless infant fighting for its survival. You can only wonder how could human beings do such a thing. Yet it is something for which we have no shortage of talent and resources. What a bloody waste.

A couple of days later, Jimmy and I traveled to France and it was there I found out that it wasn't the Branch Davidians who were responsible for the bombing. However, Timothy McVeigh cited the 1993 ATF raid on their compound in Waco, Texas exactly two years before which claimed the lives of 76 people (including at least 20 children) as a motive for his actions. Whatever his motives, the Oklahoma City bombing would claim the lives of 168 people including 19 children under the age of six. McVeigh would be executed for his act of barbarism in June 2001.

There's no doubt the Oklahoma City bombing was the turning point in Bill Clinton's presidency. It was scarcely 100 days after Republicans had taken control of both Houses of Congress for the first time in four decades. Clinton was on the ropes and appeared headed to join Jimmy Carter as a one term wonder. But the liberal media painted Gingrich and company, talk radio and McVeigh with a broad brush while portraying Clinton as a bulwark against right-wing extremism.

Well, if it worked in 1995 then why not in 2010? Both Charles Krauthammer and Jim Antle of The American Spectator have already rebuked Clinton so I won't comment on his most recent remarks except to say that the day Tea Party activists begin wantonly murdering children then Clinton might be more worthy of my attention. Otherwise, the former President's comments actually diminish the evil perpetrated by McVeigh as well as Terry Nichols.

Iranian Cleric Claims Scantily Clad Women Cause Earthquakes

According to Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, a senior Iranian cleric, scantily clad women cause earthquakes.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," said Sedighi.

Now I've heard of women making the earth move but Carole King convincingly argues that men are perfectly capable of having the same effect on the fairer sex.

Well, at least he didn't blame the Jews.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mets Outlast Cardinals 2-1 in 20 Innings

While I was watching the Red Sox-Rays game tonight, Sox announcers Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo showed the hand operated scoreboard in left field (it's part of the Green Monster). They pointed out that the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals game was scoreless in the 16th inning.

I remembered the Mets-Cardinals matchup was the FOX Saturday Baseball Game of the Week. So I quickly flipped over and sure enough the game was now in the 17th inning.

It was at this time that I told my roomie Christopher that I nearly went to a game between the Montreal Expos and the Los Angeles Dodgers in August 1989 that lasted 22 innings. The Dodgers won the game 1-0 on a solo home run by Rick Dempsey off Dennis Martinez. Curiously, both were teammates on the 1983 World Series champion Orioles (now those are four words you won't hear this year).

The Cardinals ran out of pitchers and began using position players to pitch. Infielder Felipe Lopez pitched for the Redbirds in the 18th while outfielder Joe Mather pitched in the 19th and 20th innings.

The Mets broke the deadlock in the top of the 19th on a bases loaded sacrifice fly by Jeff Francoeur to score Jose Reyes. But Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez couldn't close the door. A single by Yadier Molina scored Albert Pujols to tie the game back up. Actually, the Cardinals had a chance to win but inexplicably Ryan Ludwick attempted to steal second while Pujols was at the plate.

A sacrifice fly by Jose Reyes in the top of the 20th gave the Mets a 2-1 lead and Mike Pelfrey recorded his first major league save. The game lasted 6 hours and 53 minutes. Both teams are thanking their lucky stars that their next match up tomorrow is a night game.

Believe it or not, this isn't the longest game these two teams have played. On September 11, 1974, at Shea Stadium, the Cardinals defeated the Mets 4-3 in 25 innings when Bake McBride (who would be named NL Rookie of the Year in '74) scored the winning run on a botched pick off move. It took more than 35 years for the Mets to get even.

Jimenez Throws First No-Hitter of 2010

Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez threw a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves tonight despite walking six batters. The Rockies won the game 4-0.

It is the first no-hitter in Rockies history. The New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays are the only teams in MLB to never have had any of their pitchers accomplish this feat.

Like most no-hitters it featured an absolutely spectacular defensive play. Rockies centerfielder Dexter Fowler made a sensational catch off the bat of Troy Glaus.

At 26, Jimenez is getting better with each season. He might not throw another no-hitter but it would come as no great surprise to me if he did.

Carlos Franqui, 1921-2010. R.I.P.

Carlos Franqui, a one time ally turned bitter foe of Fidel Castro, died on April 15th in Puerto Rico of bronchial and heart problems. He was 89.

Franqui was part of the July 26th Movement along with Castro and Che Guevara that would overthrow the Batista government in 1959. Castro put Franqui in charge of editing the official Communist Party newspaper, Revolucion. In addition to politics, Franqui was a writer, poet and art critic. Over time Franqui began to have strong disagreements with Castro over the direction of the revolution and would eventually resign from the paper.

In 1968, Franqui became persona non grata in Cuba after he broke with Castro over the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Castro literally expunged Franqui out of existence. Franqui responded to this by writing a poem:

I discover my photographic death.
Do I exist?
I am a little black,
I am a little white,
I am a little shit,
On Fidel's vest.

Franqui wrote several books critiquing both Fidel and the Cuban Revolution. He also wrote, "Culture is liberty and the revolution is the negation of liberty."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Daryl Gates, 1926-2010. R.I.P.

Daryl Gates, who served as the Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department from 1978 to 1992, died today of bladder cancer. He was 83.

Gates became an international figure in April 1992 during the Los Angeles riots which followed the acquittal of the four LAPD officers caught assaulting Rodney King on tape. He would retire as police chief later that year.

During his time at the helm of the LAPD, Gates became an early supporter of the use of SWAT teams and would also pioneer the anti-drug educational program D.A.R.E. but those achievements were overshadowed by his response to the riots as well as his penchant to shoot from the hip which led to charges of racism.

Gates relationship with L.A.'s African-American community deteriorated in 1982 while ironically enough explaining why the LAPD had done away with a chokehold. He said that the arteries of black people "do not open up as fast as on normal people". In an interview Gates did with The L.A. Times in May 2009 he stated the fallout from that incident "really hurt".

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hope for Zimbabwe?

I came across this article in The New York Times by Douglas Rogers titled "Zimbabwe's Accidental Triumph".

How often have Zimbabwe and triumph been used in the same sentence in the past decade? I had to read on.

Rogers is a journalist who was born and raised in Zimbabwe who now resides in Brooklyn while his parents remain in Zimbabwe. Last year he came out with a book titled The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe. Without the benefit of having read his book, Rogers reminds me a great deal of Peter Godwin. He's also a Zimbabwean born journalist living in New York whose parents still live in Zimbabwe. Godwin came out with a book titled When a Crocodile Eats The Sun which I reviewed on the IC main page in September 2007. I described it as perhaps "the most heartbreaking book I had ever read."

This is perhaps where Godwin and Rogers diverge. Rogers has seeingly found the silver lining in the dark clouds that have hung over Zimbabwe over the past decade:

But in 2000, within weeks of losing a constitutional referendum to entrench his power, Mr. Mugabe began the catastrophic land invasions that resulted in the eviction of almost all the country’s 4,500 white farmers and the ruin of what was once a model post-colonial African country. Ever since, the narrative of Zimbabwe has been one of race. Rare is the speech in which Mr. Mugabe does not rail against whites, colonialists, imperialists or the West. Members of his ZANU-PF party have spoken of a “Rwandan solution” for Zimbabwe’s whites.

Westerners have simply accepted this narrative of blacks and whites pitted against one another. But, in doing so, they have missed the inspiring story of what has actually been happening in Zimbabwe over the past decade. After years of mass unemployment, mutant inflation, chronic shortages and state violence, Zimbabweans simply don’t care about skin color. In fact, Mr. Mugabe has managed to achieve the exact opposite of what he set out to do in 2000: the forging of a postracial state.

Rogers goes on to write about the rise of white politicians supported by overwhelmingly by black constituents such as Roy Bennett (who is a part of Godwin's book as well) and Brian Jones, the mayor of Mutare which is Zimbabwe's third largest city. Black and white unite. Well, with the silence of the rest of the African continent and the inaction of the West towards Mugabe, what other choice did they have?

The 30th anniversary of Zimbabwean independence will take place this weekend. One can only hope that by 2040 the postracial Zimbabwe that Rogers writes about will be fully realized.

What Planet is Obama On?

President Obama unveiled his plans for NASA today at the Kennedy Space Center.

Obama is jettisoning President Bush's goal of returning to the Moon by 2020. Instead, Obama wants to orbit Mars by the mid-2030s.

But here is what really struck me:

So today, I’d like to talk about the next chapter in this story. The challenges facing our space program are different, and our imperatives for this program are different, than in decades past. We’re no longer racing against an adversary. We’re no longer competing to achieve a singular goal like reaching the Moon. In fact, what was once a global competition has long since become a global collaboration. But while the measure of our achievements has changed a great deal over the past 50 years, what we do -- or fail to do -- in seeking new frontiers is no less consequential for our future in space and here on Earth.

What planet is Obama is on?

The idea we're no longer racing against an adversary in space is remarkable in its naivete. If Obama thinks China or Russia is without its ambitions in space then it appears he has a large space between his ears. In fact, China & Russia are scheduled to embark on a joint unmanned mission to Mars in August 2010. Perhaps Obama doesn't appreciate the gravity of the situation.

It is also worth noting there is a schism amongst the ranks of Apollo 11. Buzz Aldrin, fresh from his stint on Dancing With The Stars, is an enthusiastic supporter of Obama's plan and was present for the President's remarks. Neil Armstrong, on the other hand, has co-written an open letter criticizing Obama's approach.

All of which makes me wonder what Michael Collins, the third member of the Apollo 11 crew, thinks of President Obama's plans? He's the tiebreaking vote.

Benjamin Hooks, 1925-2010. R.I.P.

Benjamin Hooks, best known for his tenure as Executive Director of the NAACP from 1977 to 1992, died today after a long illness. He was 85.

Hooks became a civil rights activists after his experiences serving in Europe during WWII. Given the task of guarding Italian prisoners of war, the POWs were allowed to eat in restaurants but these restaurants were off limits to Hooks and other black soldiers.

Prior to his stewardship of the NAACP, Hooks had a varied career in his native Memphis - minister, entrepreneur, lawyer, criminal court judge (the first African-American to sit on the bench in Tennessee). Whatever his occupation, Hooks was a major player in the civil rights movement.

It is also worth noting that Hooks was a Republican. After supporting Richard Nixon in 1972, Nixon appointed Hooks to the Federal Communications Commission.

However, Hooks soured on the GOP once he led the NAACP. Towards the end of his tenure with the NAACP Hooks commented on Republican administrations:

I’ve had the misfortune of serving eight years under Reagan and three under Bush. It makes a great deal of difference about your expectations. We’ve had to get rid of a lot of programs we had hoped for, so we could fight to save what we already had.

Needless to say, President Reagan saw things differently. Consider an excerpt from this letter he wrote to Hooks in January 1983 (which can be found in the book Reagan: A Life in Letters edited by Kiron Skinner, Annelise Graebner Anderson and Martin Anderson). Reagan was responding to Hooks' assertion his administration was attempting to "roll back hard-won gains of black Americans":

Ben if only it were possible to look into each other's hearts and minds, you would find no trace of prejudice or bigotry in mine. I know that's hard for you to believe and that's too bad because together we could do more for the people you represent than either of us can do alone.

Prejudice is not a failing peculiar to one race, it can and does exist in people of every race and ethnic background. It takes individual effort to root it ou of one's heart. In my case my father and mother saw that it never got a start. I shall be forever grateful to them.


Unfortunately, Reagan's letter was in vain and Hooks would not have a change of heart.

However, this did not stop then President George W. Bush for bestowing Hooks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom back in 2007 for his contributions to the civil rights movement. Bush said, "Dr. Hooks was a calm yet forceful voice for fairness, opportunity and personal responsibility. He never tired or faltered in demanding that our nation live up to its founding ideals of liberty and equality."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Roach McKrackin: Punk Rock Tea Party Activist

Last week, I mentioned an interview I did with an Emerson journalism student named Barry Thompson. He profiled several conservative activists in Jamaica Plain.

One of those interviewed was a fellow named Roach McKrackin, a punk rock musician who is in a local band called The Murder.

Here's his blog. McKrackin has been getting attention for his Tea Party activism from both CBS News and The New York Times.

NY Times Changes Its Tune on Tea Party Protesters

The New York Times is changing its tune about Tea Party activists.

Last month they were a bunch of less educated, racist good old boys.

This month they are wealthy and educated.

Well, I guess you could call that progress.

Let's see what they are calling Tea Party activists next month.

Boston Globe Downplays Palin's Address to Tea Party

I think you'll get a kick out of this headline from The Boston Globe:

Hundreds gather to hear Sarah Palin on Boston Common


The Globe might as well write a headline like "Hundreds gather at Fenway to see Red Sox beat the Yankees".

Yeah, there'll be hundreds alright. Hundreds of hundreds more like it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

STOP THE REGIME: Sign the visual petition to oppose the current administration!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Conan's New Show to Air on TBS in November

Here's hoping Conan wipes the floor with Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert.

Is Poland Becoming Pro-Putin?

On Saturday, I wrote that Russia stood to gain from the Polish air tragedy which claimed the life of Polish President Lech Kaczysnki and 96 other passengers mostly from Poland's civil, military and religious establishment:

Yes, I am aware that Putin is personally heading up the investigation into the crash. Yet I can't see Putin concluding anything other than pilot error. I think he wants to give the appearance of being a friend to Poland while working behind the scenes to ensure to increase Russian influence there.

Now I'm sure many in Poland will not welcome Putin's involvement in the investigation and there will be strong anti-Russian sentiment expressed during the elections which could manifest into outbreaks of violence against Russians living in Poland as was the case when the teenaged children of Russian diplomats were attacked in July 2005.

Well, it would appear that I'm half-right. Putin is giving the appearance of being a friend towards Poland but instead of an outbreak of anti-Russian sentiment the Polish populace appears to be embracing the Russian Prime Minister as as a result of his embrace of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. So does this mean Poland will elect a government that is more pro-Moscow?

On the other hand, maybe it's the BBC that is pro-Moscow. Here is another BBC news item suggesting the pilot and crew were under pressure to land from the passengers on board and that Kaczynski himself ordered the pilot to land. If the Russians try to blame the crash on Kaczynski then Putin can kill Polish goodwill goodbye.

Tina Fey Isn't Funny

At the risk of being sacrilege, I'm going to write something I've been wanting to get off my chest for a long time.

Tina Fey isn't funny.

It's not because of the Sarah Palin impersonation. Frankly, Fey's Palin looks slightly emaciated and could use a nice helping of Alaskan moose meat. Besides, Palin has been a good sport about the whole thing.

My roomie Christopher and I made the mistake of watching SNL or at least the first half hour of it. Not only did I not laugh at anything Fey said I did not so much as crack a smile. Christopher was initially more receptive to her. But when it came to the skit where Fey portrayed a teacher fantasizing about her student (played by musical guest Justin Bieber) it was just too much for the both of us. I can't imagine the parents of boys who have been molested by their female teachers could have been too amused by it.

Now, I can't dispute the fact that Tina Fey is a huge success. She has a hit show with 30 Rock and the number one movie in the country with Date Night co-starring Steve Carell (who is funny). Yet I just don't get it. I don't get what passes for humor these days. Tina Fey is not in Gilda Radner's league and never will be.

Re: Romney's N.O. Victory is Not a Good Sign

Ron, I think you might be reading a little bit much into Mitt Romney's one vote straw poll victory.

You might want to check out Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin's piece at

It is worth remembering that Romney handily won the Iowa straw poll in August 2007. Fat lot of good it did him the following January against Mike Huckabee.

Now, I am not discounting Romney. He could end up as the nominee. I'm just making the point we are a very long way from the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. If a week in politics is a lifetime then 20 months is an eternity.

Romney has not wrested the GOP nomination. At this point, the only thing Romney has grasped is straws.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Romney's N.O. Victory is Not a Good Sign

Mitt Romney is to 2012 what John McCain was in 2008, what Bob Dole was in 1996 and what George H.W. Bush was in 1988. Namely, it's his turn. Republicans have a sorry history of nominating for President the person who is perceived to be "next in line." Little consideration is given to the candidate's conservative credentials, to his electability, or to whether his rivals are more qualified or would make a better president.

Each instance of this phenomenon has resulted in disaster. Dole's turn perpetuated the debauched, liberal presidency of Bill Clinton. McCain's turn resulted in the most radical, left-wing presidency in American history. And although Bush the elder won his race, he proceeded to betray the conservative legacy of Ronald Reagan and set the country anew on the road to a bipartisan ruin that is bearing fruit today.

Romney, if not a RINO, is certainly no heir to Ronald Reagan. All one has to say is "Massachusetts Health Care." Why in heaven's name would the Republican Party want to have him as its standard bearer when there are truly conservative, exciting alternatives who might be able to reverse the horrendous course our country is on? I am thinking of Mike Pence, Paul Ryan or Rick Perry.

But no, it's Mitt's turn. If he gets the nod, either he will crash and burn like Dole or McCain, giving Obama another four years to further encase America in the socialist box that he is constructing for us; or Mitt will somehow win and then govern like the Bushes -- a big government Republican who will do nothing to reverse America's slide toward Euro-socialism. On the contrary, I fear that, as he did in Massachusetts, he will foster the slide.

What can I say: I am having a fit about Mitt!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dixie Carter, 1939-2010. R.I.P.

Actress Dixie Carter has passed away. Her cause of death is unknown. She was 70.

Carter is best remembered for her tenure on the hit CBS comedy Designing Women which ran from 1986 to 1993. My first memory of her was from her stint on Diff'rent Strokes where she played Conrad Bain's wife. She would leave after one season and was replaced by former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley.

In real life, Carter was married to fellow actor Hal Holbrook. Last year, she and Holbrook co-starred in an indie film called That Evening Sun.

Carter was also one of the few actresses in Hollywood who was overt about her support for the Republican Party. It was ironic to some given that her character on Designing Women was an unabashed liberal. But art doesn't always imitate life.

Unfortunately, I guess being a Republican is grounds for some to speak ill of the dead. Here is what was written about Carter by one DrDivo on The Daily Kos:

I'm sorry she's gone for the loss of her talent, and I know the pain of those who loved her as a person. However, she used her platform to spread hate and violence and for that I have no shame in saying "Good Riddance".

As both Charlie Brown and Bill O'Reilly would say, "Good grief".

My advice to DrDivo is that if you can't say anything nice then you shouldn't say anything at all.

Russia Stands to Gain From Polish Air Crash

The first thought that ran through my mind when I read about the plane crash in Russia which claimed the lives of 97 people including Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife as well as prominent members of Poland's political, military and religious establishment was how Russia stands to gain from a now destablized Poland.

Now I am not claiming Russia was involved in any kind of foul play. It is quite possible this crash was as a result of pilot error as the plane had encountered thick fog.

Yet it is worth noting that Kaczynski and his fellow passengers were en route to commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre in which nearly 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were murdered by Soviet NKVD (the forerunner to the KGB). I am sure it's something Russians don't like being reminded about.

When Poland signed an agreement with the Bush Administration in August 2008 to build a missile defense shield on Polish soil the Russians went, well, ballistic. General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, the Russian armed forces' deputy chief of staff, said that by agreeing to host the shield was "exposing itself to a strike -100 per cent." General Nogovitsyn meant a nuclear strike.

Well, as we all know, President Obama pushed the reset button and cancelled the missile shield program much to the delight of the Russians and much to the dismay of Poland.

Tensions between Russia and Poland have arisen in recent years due to, amongst other things, Polish plans to remove Soviet memorials comemorating the actions of the Red Army during WWII.

However, to be fair, only three days ago Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk appeared with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the Katyn memorial at the request of Putin. On the other hand, Putin did not extend an invitation to President Kaczynski nor did Russian President Dmitry Medvedev:

Kaczynski said he would be going to Katyn anyway.

'I am happy that the premier will be (in Katyn),' Kaczynski said in February. 'But the highest representative of the Republic of Poland is the president and I will be (in Katyn) also.'

'I hope I get a visa,' he added.

Kaczynski later announced he would be leading a ceremony in the Katyn forest on April 10, along with veterans organizations and some 300 family members of Katyn victims.

Kaczynski said he was not going to Katyn to 'inflame relations with Russia,' but instead to pay tribute to the victims, reported the Polish Press Agency.

A special train has been set up to take some 400 people to the ceremony, including the families of victims, scouts, volunteers and Polish soldiers. The ceremony is to include a holy mass and a speech by Kaczynski.

Kaczynski was up for re-election this fall. However, due to his death, the elections have to be moved up and can be held no later than June 20th. Kaczynski was staunchly anti-Communist and unabashedly pro-American. Clearly, there was no love lost between Kaczynski and the Russians. You can't tell me the Russians aren't delighted he is out of the picture.

Yes, I am aware that Putin is personally heading up the investigation into the crash. Yet I can't see Putin concluding anything other than pilot error. I think he wants to give the appearance of being a friend to Poland while working behind the scenes to ensure to increase Russian influence there.

Now I'm sure many in Poland will not welcome Putin's involvement in the investigation and there will be strong anti-Russian sentiment expressed during the elections which could manifest into outbreaks of violence against Russians living in Poland as was the case when the teenaged children of Russian diplomats were attacked in July 2005.

It would come as no surprise if Poland elected an even more anti-Russian President than Kaczynski. Let's suppose that President were to embark on a program of removing Soviet era memorials and other acts the Russians considered unfriendly. In which case the Russians would cut oil and gas supplies to Poland as they have in the past. But if Poland were to retaliate in some manner it is not inconceivable to me that Russia would view it as an act of provocation and do to Poland what it did to Georgia in 2008. Who is going to stop Russia from invading Poland if it wanted to do so? President Obama? Why that would be meddling.

The bottom line is that even if today's plane crash was as a result of pilot error it opens up an opportunity for Russia, by hook or by crook, to have the void filled by an administration friendlier to Moscow.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stevens' Retirement Doesn't Change Much

Here are some thoughts on the implications of Justice John Paul Stevens' impending retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court after nearly 35 years of service.

1. President Obama is going to nominate a liberal to the bench.

2. Conservatives are not going to be pleased with President Obama's nominee (with perhaps the possible exception of current Solicitor General Elena Kagan).

3. Regardless of who Obama appoints it will not change the current ideological balance on the Court.

4. Which brings me to this final point. While I don't think Stevens retirement changes much there is one development that is worth noting. With the departure of Stevens, Anton Scalia will become the longest serving justice on the Supreme Court having been appointed by President Reagan in 1986.

Scalia turned 74 last month (Stevens turns 90 on April 20th). What are the odds that Scalia serves on the bench until he's 90? Would he last through (heaven forbid) a second Obama term? If Scalia retires or passes on while Obama is in the Oval Office then that would be a watershed event in American jurisprudence. It would mean a liberal majority on the Supreme Court.

Come to think of it, Anthony Kennedy (the other Reagan appointee) is only three months younger than Scalia. At 55, Chief Justice Roberts is the youngest member of the Court. However, let us also not forget his history of seizures the most recent of which came in the summer of 2007. Clarence Thomas is in his early 60s while Samuel Alito turned 60 earlier this month. So, in the name of justice, let us pray for their continued good health.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Me Talking About Obamacare; Being a Conservative in JP

A couple of weeks ago I did an interview with Barry Thompson, a journalism student at Emerson College in Boston.

Barry profiled conservative activists in Jamaica Plain. In addition to myself, he also interviewed Edward Wagner, who is the Chair of the Jamaica Plain Republicans and Roach McCrackin, lead singer of the conservative punk rock band Murder.

You can check out Barry's piece here. It clocks in at a little over three minutes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

U.S.-Russia Arms Control Treaty Off to a Bad START

We are less than 24 hours away from President Obama signing a new START treaty with Russian President Medvedev and the Russians are already publicly talking about opting out of the agreement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, "Russia will have the right to abandon the Start treaty if a quantitative and qualitative build-up of the US strategic anti-missile potential begins to significantly affect the efficiency of Russia's strategic forces."

This tells me the Russians don't think the treaty is worth the paper on which it is printed.

By abandoning ballistic missile defense in Poland and in the Czech Republic last year President Obama has tied our hands behind our back. Obama has given the Russians the power to draw a line in the sand they know he won't dare cross.

I don't care how many pens President Obama uses to sign this arms control agreement because it is already off to a bad START.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

U.K. General Election on May 6th

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament and an election has been called for May 6th, one month from now.

Although the Labour Party has managed to narrow the gap in the public opinion polls somewhat the Conservative Party led by David Cameron is expected to end 13 years of Labour rule.

At the risk of trotting out a tired cliche these aren't your father's Tories. Cameron is no Thatcher. Maggie Thatcher would have never led a Conservative Party whose election manifesto called for the hiring of 5,000 professional community organizers much less state:

This plan is directly based on the successful community organising movement established by Saul Alinsky in the United States and has successfully trained generations of community organisers, including President Obama.

Frankly, I think Cameron's efforts to ingratiate himself with President Obama will be all for naught. If President Obama refuses to meet with Gordon Brown, a fellow socialist, on five separate occaisons why would he give a Tory like Cameron the time of day?

Whether Britain has a Labour government or a Conservative government so long as President Obama is in office the Anglo-American alliance is on hold. Obama's cold shoulder towards Britain is light years away from the days when President Bush and Prime Minister Blair stood shoulder to shoulder.

Thoughts on Obama's Unilateral Disarmament

At a time when Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, North Korea is threatening "unpredictable strikes" while Russia & China are going on the offensive with regard to their own global ambitions, President Obama decrees we will have a policy of unilateral disarmament.

To be precise, the Obama Administration is pledging not to use nuclear weapons against supposedly non-nuclear countries even if they should attack us with biological and chemical weapons although Iran & North Korea are purportedly exempt from this policy.

Does President Obama honestly think that just because he's made this pledge that nations like Russia will follow suit? Nations like Russia would rightly view this as a retreat and an opportunity to escalate their nuclear programs.

Of course, Obama doesn't see it like that:

The greatest threat to U.S. and global security is no longer a nuclear exchange between nations, but nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to an increasing number of states. For the first time, preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism is now at the top of America's nuclear agenda.

The effect of this policy is that terrorists need only to launch a nuclear, biological or chemical strike from a "non-nuclear state" and President Obama has effectively tied our hands.

This announcement strikes me as little more than a futile effort to be liked by parts of the world that will never like us. Niccolo Machiavelli had it right. It is better to be feared than it is to be loved if you cannot have both. He was also right to declare, "Before all else, be armed."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Steven Weber Wings It

It's astonishing what passes for incisive, insightful political commentary in the liberal blogosphere.

Case in point: An article "written" by actor Steven Weber on The Huffington Post.

What? Steven Weber isn't ringing a bell? He was on the sitcom Wings which aired on NBC in the 1990s. Yeah, I haven't given him much thought over the past decade either.

Well, now Weber is taking a stab at liberal political commentary. Here are his "thoughts" on Republicans:

The proof that they will never, ever let this president -- this Democratic president -- tell them what's what is that no matter what he posits in terms of fixing all the things Bush broke, things which always could have been improved upon, things which would benefit less fortunate Americans, things which would restore our prestige abroad, which would restore the warmth to the nation's character, the Republicans look at him (and by extension the majority of America) with dead eyes, crossed arms and do absolutely nothing.

No alternative plans, suggestions, advice. No involvement, curiosity, no moments of introspection. Allowing violently disposed fringe elements to steer policy when that job used to be the bailiwick of legislators and operatives schooled in poly-sci. It's an approach that begs the question:

Do Republicans actually like Democracy?

Well, where was Weber was when Paul Ryan was making mincemeat out of President Obama's arguments on health care reform? Where was Weber when Republicans were introduced over 70 pieces of health care legislation since President Obama took office?

Weber was probably too busy contemplating this original piece of liberal thought:

Even after realizing that Obama, master of many things they aren't, is also demonstrating a centrist rather than a dreaded leftist approach to governance, in many ways incorporating aspects which they themselves have favored in the past, to put forward his workable agenda as opposed to the armageddon/fascist/socialist dystopia the frothing Republican mouthpieces warned of, they still refuse to play.

Damn vexing! So, what could it be?

Hmm. Could it... is it because... oh, I don't know... is it because he's...

Nah. That would be too simplistic, too 19th century. Oh. Wait a minute...

When in doubt just call Republicans racist. Come to think of it Steven Weber is pretty good at this liberal political commentary gig. All he has to do is wing it.

President Obama Throws Like a Girl

What an absolutely awful first pitch President Obama uncorked before the Washington Nationals home opener against the NL champion Philadelphia Phillies.

The panelists on the MLB Network were giving Obama props for wearing his Chicago White Sox cap.

Big freaking deal.

If President Obama wears a White Sox cap at Wrigley Field then I'll be impressed.

Now when I say President Obama throws like a girl I don't mean girls like softball great Jennie Finch. I mean girls like Mariah Carey.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Eagles Trade Donovan McNabb to the Redskins

The Philadelphia Eagles have traded longtime quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins for a 2010 NFL second round draft pick and a 2011 NFL third round draft pick.

Speculation has been running rampant for weeks about an impending trade of quarterback Donovan McNabb in recent days. However, it was thought McNabb was headed to the Oakland Raiders.

McNabb has been the Eagles starting quarterback since 1999. He has been named to the NFC Pro Bowl team six times, most recently in 2009. He led the Eagles to an NFC Championship in 2004 but fell short to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Since their Super Bowl loss, the Eagles have made the NFL post-season three of the last five years but have not returned to the big game. In fact, last year the Eagles were decisively defeated by the Dallas Cowboys 34-14 in the first round of the 2009 NFL playoffs.

I think McNabb went as far as he was going to go in Philadelphia. He needed a change of scenery. The Eagles are also ready to hand the QB reins to Kevin Kolb.

Naturally, I wonder what Jim Antle, my editor at The American Spectator thinks about this development. Jim is also a big Washington Redskins fan. Sadly, Redskins fans have had little to cheer about. Since 1999, the Redskins have made the NFL post-season only thrice and in 2009 were an anemic 4-12. I am inclined to think Jim would be happy. Consider what he wrote about the Redskins after the passage of Obamacare:

The Democrats own this debacle. But the Republicans are, in football terms, like the Washington Redskins. They have an excellent defense and no offense.

On the other hand, as we all know, Rush Limbaugh is no fan of McNabb. I like Rush but he's dead wrong about McNabb and always has been.

Yet couple McNabb with ex-Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan and the Redskins are bound to be better in 2010. With that I await Jim's thoughts on the state of football in D.C.

UPDATE: Jim has posted his thoughts on the McNabb deal at the AmSpec blog. While he thinks McNabb got a raw deal in Philly he also believes "it is hard not to conclude that McNabb lost his last, best chance for a Super Bowl ring." Well, the NFC East is going to be a lot more interesting this fall.

Red Sox Beat Yankees 9-7 in 2010 Season Opener

Anticipation has been building for tonight's 2010 MLB season opener at Fenway Park between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees for several days now.

There were some people who objected the game being played on Easter Sunday but it couldn't have been played on a better day. The thermometer hit the low 80s on April 4th. It might as well have been June 4th.

Pedro Martinez threw out the first pitch. Who knows? Maybe Pedro will be back in a Sox uniform for real by August because Josh Beckett couldn't get out of the 5th inning. The Yankees were up 5-1 when Terry Francona pulled Beckett from the game. But the Sox would score one run in the 5th and three runs in the 6th to knot the game at 5-5.

The Yankees would answer with two runs in the top of the 7th to take a 7-5 lead. Now the Sox looked for inspiration from Aerosmith's Steven Tyler singing God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch. There was a young woman standing beside him. My father and I were debating whether she was his daughter or his girlfriend. Turns out the young woman is his 21-year -old daughter Chelsea Tallarico.

Well, Red Sox Nation dared to dream on as Dustin Pedroia would tie the game again with a two run home run in the bottom of the 7th. The Red Sox would finally take the lead later in the inning courtesy of two wild pitches from Yankee reliever Damaso Marte which scored Kevin Youkilis. The Sox added an insurance run in the 8th on a single by Pedroia to give them a 9-7 lead after Neil Diamond sang "Sweet Caroline" in person. So good!!! So good!!! So good!!!

Jonathan Papelbon, who spent the winter watching his meltdown in Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS against the Angels over and over again, recorded his first save of the 2010 season.

The game lasted nearly four hours as Red Sox-Yankees games often do. The fans got their money's worth and so did the North American TV audience. If Opening Night is any indication this is going to be great season of baseball. How great it is to be alive.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chris Kanyon, 1970-2010. R.I.P.

Former professional wrestler Chris Kanyon was found dead yesterday of an overdose of pills. His death is believed to be a suicide. He was 40.

Kanyon (who was born Chris Klucsaritis) is best remembered for wrestling in the now defunct World Championship Wrestling in the late 1990s and early 2000s before it was taken over by World Wrestling Entertainment. Unfortunately, Kanyon never got much of push in the WWE.

I first remember Kanyon when he wrestled as a masked wrestler named Mortis. At one point Mortis wanted to join Raven's Flock. But he had to defeat Diamond Dallas Page in a match. Mortis failed to do so and was attacked by Raven. For the next several weeks Raven would be attacked by someone in various disguises. It was Kanyon now unmasked. It was one of my favorite storylines from WCW.

Later when Kanyon became a heel character he would ask the fans before each match, "Who better than Kanyon?" The fans would chant in unisom, "Everybody!!!" A flustered Kanyon would reply, "No! No! No! It's nobody!!! Nobody!!!"

Kanyon also worked as a consultant on the movie Ready to Rumble starring Oliver Platt, David Arquette and a multitude of WCW wrestlers. It was one of the worst movies I've ever seen mostly because of Arquette's screeching dialogue. Even Martin Landau couldn't save that movie.

Unfortunately, Kanyon struggled with mental health problems. At one point he claimed Vince McMahon had fired him because he was homosexual. Kanyon later sued the WWE with fellow wrestlers Scott Levy (the aforementioned Raven) and Mike Sanders over health benefits but this suit was dismissed by a Connecticut judge.

Since being released by the WWE in 2004, Kanyon wrestled sporadically in independent shows.

It's a shame because under different circumstances Chris Kanyon could have been a huge star in wrestling and beyond.

Friday, April 2, 2010

For Once Somebody Out There Likes My MLB Predictions

I came across this post on a blog called The American Culture written by a fellow named Daniel Crandall commenting on my MLB Predictions for 2010 which appear both on the IC main site and online at The American Spectator.

Crandall is intrigued about my prediction that the Seattle Mariners will win the 2010 World Series. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Crandall writes:

I have no doubt that Goldstein knows more about this than I, and as a Seattle resident I hope he’s right. Sports fans in the Pacific Northwest need something to cheer about.

Daniel Crandall is a very generous man. After all, I am the same person who only a year ago predicted calamity to fall upon the New York Yankees. When I predicted the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would win the World Series in 2006 my very sanity was called into question. So my track record hasn't been great. But that has never stopped me before.

Frankly, I don't think picking the Mariners is that outlandish given their flurry of off season moves. My most contentious pick this season is the NL Central where I have the Cincinnati Reds winning the division. Now if I had picked the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the NL Central then I think there would have been calls made to Napoleon XIV for some nice young men in clean white coats to come and take me away.

Mike Cuellar, 1937-2010. R.I.P.

Baltimore Orioles pitching legend Mike Cuellar died today of stomach cancer. He was 72.

The Cuban born Cuellar was arguably the best left-handed pitcher in the American League if not all of Major League Baseball between 1969 and 1974. In those years, Cuellar obtained 125 of his 185 wins. In 1969, Cuellar shared AL Cy Young Award honors with Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers. During this six year period, the Orioles won five AL East titles, three AL championships and a World Series in 1970.

When most people think of the Orioles of the late 1960s and early 1970s they think of Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Jim Palmer and manager Earl Weaver. Yet one can make the case that without Cuellar's stellar pitching was just as responsible for the Orioles success during this period than the contributions made by the other aforementioned players all of whom are in Cooperstown save for Powell.

I would make the case that Cuellar was to the Orioles what Sandy Koufax was to the Dodgers. Cuellar's 125 wins between '69 and '74 stack up to Koufax's 129 wins between 1961 and 1966. Now, of course, Koufax routinely struck out over 300 batters and posted ERAs below 2.00. Cuellar was lucky to strikeout half that many batters and his ERAs were generally over 3.00. While Koufax could throw a blistering heat accompanied by a big breaking curveball Cuellar relied on a screwball. It must also be remembered that Koufax retired at 30. Cuellar came into his own after he turned 32.

In 1971, Cuellar along with Palmer, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson each won 20 plus games. It's the only time in MLB history four starting pitchers had at least 20 wins. To put that into perspective no pitcher in MLB won 20 games in 2009. It is worth noting that with Cuellar's passing Palmer is the only surviving member of this quartet. McNally died of lung cancer in 2002 while Dobson died of leukemia in 2006.

John Forsythe, 1918-2010. R.I.P.

Actor John Forsythe died yesterday after battling cancer and pneumonia. He was 92.

Although Forsythe's acting career began in the 1940s he is best known for playing Blake Carrington on the ABC hit series Dynasty between 1981 and 1989.

I was amused by Forsythe's assessment of his acting talents. Shortly after Dynasty became a smash hit he said, "I figure there are a few actors like Marlon Brando, George C. Scott and Laurence Olivier who have been touched by the hand of God. I'm in the next bunch."

So it's not surprising to see a 1970 TV Guide profile describe Forsythe "as a professed Adlai Stevenson-JFK-RFK liberal....yet he can find nice things to say about California's arch - conservative governor, Ronald Reagan." Now how many Hollywood actors can we describe as Obama liberals who have nice things to say about George W. Bush?

Check out this really weird video with Forsythe and Joan Collins on Austrian TV back in 1993 speaking and singing in German.

Kumar Prefers Burgers to Barack

Kal Penn, best known for playing Kumar in the Harold & Kumar movies, is leaving his post of Associate Director of Public Engagement in the Obama Administration after less than a year on the job.

Penn is set to reunite with Harold & Kumar co-star John Cho in the third installment of the series A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas. The movie will be shot this summer and due to be released in November or December of 2011. Penn & Cho rose to fame after Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle became a box office hit in the summer of 2004. I guess Penn prefers burgers to Barack.

When Penn (whose given name is Kalpen Modi) accepted this post he played Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the FOX TV series House starring Hugh Laurie. Penn's character was written out of the show by way of suicide. At the time I wrote, "Hopefully, Penn won't face a similar fate to Dr. Kutner should he not live up to President Obama's expectations."

Well, it might be more a case of the Obama Administration not living up to Penn's expectations. He wanted to give this gig "at least" a year or two. Certainly he wasn't making the kind of money he was making in movies and in television. Let's also consider that he was in a low level position and probably couldn't effect the kind of change he wanted. No doubt it's easier to get things done in Hollywood than it is in Washington. Although the White House doesn't have Hollywood's cutting edge special effects it does have plenty of smoke and mirrors.