Monday, June 28, 2010

National Review Endorses McCain, Pt. 2

This morning I wondered what Rachel Alexander thought of National Review's endorsement of John McCain.

Well, ask and ye shall receive.

Do I dare ask Rachel her thoughts of Glenn Beck's assessment of J.D. Hayworth's campaign?

Braves Best Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg falls to 2-2 after a 5-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves tonight.

Strasburg was in a scoreless duel with Braves veteran starter Tim Hudson into the 7th inning when the Braves got to him for four runs, three of which were earned.

In six and one third innings pitched, Strasburg gave up three runs on six hits. He struck out seven and walked two. In thirty one and two thirds innings pitched, Strasburg has fanned 48 batters while walking only seven. That's a strikeouts to walks ratio of nearly 7 to 1.

Although Strasburg has lost back to back to starts, the Nationals haven't scored any runs for him. Over his last three starts, the Nats have scored one run.

His next start takes place this Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park in D.C. against the New York Mets.

Robert Byrd, 1917-2010. R.I.P.

Senator Robert Byrd died this morning after a lengthy illness. He was 92.

Byrd was first elected to Congress in 1952. Six years later he was elected to the Senate. The people of West Virginia re-elected Byrd eight times and would serve until his death today. From 1971 to 1977, Byrd was the House Majority Whip. After Jimmy Carter's election, Byrd became Senate Majority Leader. When the GOP took control of the Senate in 1980, Byrd became Senate Minority Leader only to became Senate Majority Leader when Democrats regained control of the Senate after the 1986 mid-term elections.

At one time a dues paying member of the Ku Klux Klan, Robert Byrd would also filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Byrd would later disavow those views. It is worth noting that Byrd died almost seven years to the day that Strom Thurmond passed away. Thurmond, of course, filibustered against the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He, too, would disavow those views. Yet compare the headlines of their respective obituaries in The New York Times:

Strom Thurmond, Foe of Integration, Dies at 100

Robert Byrd, Respected Voice of the Senate, Dies at 92

It is also worth noting the obituaries were penned by the same writer, Adam Clymer. So even though both Thurmond and Byrd filibustered against civil rights legislation in the Senate it is Thurmond who was "foe of integration" while Byrd was "the respected voice of the Senate." Now I realize Clymer might not have been directly responsible for the headlines but one must wonder if Thurmond would have described differently upon his death had he remained a Democrat.

National Review Endorses McCain

This morning the editorial board at National Review endorsed John McCain over J.D. Hayworth in the Arizona GOP Senate Primary.

What are your thoughts Rachel?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ruff: Obama Won't Run in 2012

During a recent appearance on CNBC, investor Howard Ruff predicted President Obama would not seek re-election in 2012.

Ruff said, "He's achieved highs no president has ever achieved before and plummeting at probably the worst rate of any president I've ever seen in my lifetime, and I've been around a long time." Ruff is nearly 80.

Ruff has certainly seen more Presidents than I have but I don't agree with his prediction. Given Obama's massive ego this scenario is inconceivable to me. If no Democrat challenges him in the primaries why would he even conceive of not running. Obama's mission is to radically transform America and he can't do that if he doesn't seek another term in office.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Iran: It's About Breaking Israel's Blockade Not Aid for Gaza

Iran has cancelled plans to send a ship containing "aid" to the Gaza Strip.

I find Iran's reasoning to be very revealing. Hossein Sheikholeslam (now there's a name), Chairman of the International Conference for the Support of the Palestinian Intifada - an Iranian government body - states:

The Zionist regime has made the blockade a political issue and we do not wish to politicize this kind of humanitarian aid because the most important thing for us to break the blockade of Gaza.

So there you have it. Humanitarian aid takes a back seat to breaking the blockade. It was never about humanitarian aid. If it was Hamas would have accepted the aid aboard from the Mavi Marmara. But since it was handled by Jews...Iran and Turkey are acting in common cause. This is about waging war against Israel. Pure and simple.

Edwin Jackson No-Hits The Rays

It was no perfect game.

Far from it.

But Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson returned to Tropicana Field and threw a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays. The D'Backs won 1-0. Their only run came on a solo homerun by Adam LaRoche.

A no-hitter appeared to be the furthest thing imaginable when Jackson walked seven batters over the first three innings. But Jackson became stronger as he went on. Despite hurling 149 pitches his fastball was clocked at 95 MPH in the ninth inning.

This has to be so sweet for Jackson. He was a member of the Rays from 2006-2008. Although Jackson won 14 games for the Rays en route to an American League championship he was left off the playoff roster and would be dealt to the Detroit Tigers in the off season.

Jackson, of course, became a D'Back via a three way trade with the Tigers and New York Yankees.

This is the fourth no-hitter of the 2010 season. The other no-nos belong to Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies, Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics and Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies. Braden and Halladay, of course, threw perfect games. (Armando Galarraga should have had a perfect game. But life isn't fair.)

It also marks the second time this season the Rays have been on the wrong end of a no-hitter. The Rays were on the receiving end of Braden's perfecto. Mark Buehrle also threw a perfect game against the Rays during the 2009 season.

I watched the last three innings of Jackson's no-no on the MLB Network. I wondered if A.J. Hinch would pull a Preston Gomez and take Jackson out of the game because of his pitch count. In case you are wondering, Gomez (who died in 2009) on two occasions removed pitchers who were throwing no-hitters. He did it first with Clay Kirby while managing the San Diego Padres in 1970 and then did it again with Don Wilson while managing the Houston Astros in 1974. While both pitchers were losing their games when Gomez removed the strategy did not pay off on either occasion.

But after the no-hitter, Jackson said he told Hinch in no uncertain term he wasn't coming out of the game. Will this adversely affect over the rest of the season? Maybe. Maybe not. But Edwin Jackson will forever be in the record books as having pitched a no-hitter and nobody can take that away from him.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

If You Thought Baseball Games Were Long....

Imagine being at Wimbledon and witnessing a match that took eleven hours and five minutes to complete over three days.

American John Isner defeated Nicholas Mahut of France in five sets by a final score of 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.

That's not a typo. The fifth set went 70-68.

Isner now advances to the second round. I think he might be exhausted. Exhilarated but exhausted.

Well, at least there are no vuvuzelas at Wimbledon. Quiet please.

Michael Jackson & Islam

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the passing of Michael Jackson.

His older brother Jermaine said in an interview with the BBC that if the King of Pop had embraced Islam he would still be amongst us.

He was reading a lot of books [about Islam], because I brought him books from Saudi Arabia. I brought him books from Bahrain," said Jermaine.

If Jermaine Jackson (who himself is a convert to Islam) was bringing him books from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for his brother to read one must wonder what sort of books did he bring along. Did he bring his brother the sort of books which claim Jews wish to gain control of the world? The Wahhabis aren't exactly known for pluralism or religious tolerance.

Just something to think about.

CSM Calls Ahmadinejad a "Neoconservative"

I came across this piece in The Christian Science Monitor titled, "Does Israel suffer from Iranophobia?" It's basically about some left-wing Israeli academics who believe Israeli politicians are overblowing the threat from Iran.

But I was quite struck by this passage in the article:

How powerful is that anti-Iran mindset in Israel? How is fear of an Iranian nuclear weapon heightened by the blasts of anti-Israel invective from the neoconservative government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran?

Ahmadinejad is many things. A neoconservative isn't one of them. When I think of a neoconservative I think of Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol or Norman Podhoretz. Given that neoconservatism is associated with Jews I am certain Ahmadinejad would bristle at being associated with them. That passage also tells me the staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor doesn't know what neoconservatism is.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Very Australian Coup

Imagine if Hillary Clinton walked into the Oval Office and told President Obama she had requested a vote of confidence by the Democratic Party in his leadership. Imagine also that Hillary informed Obama that she would be challenging him for his leadership.

This is essentially what just happened in Australia. Yesterday, Julia Gillard was Deputy Leader of Australia's governing Labor Party. Gillard informed Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd there would a leadership vote against him in 24 hours and that she would be standing against him. Rudd declined to participate in the leadership contest. Today, Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister of Australia and at helm of Australia's Labor Party.

What a dramatic fall from grace for Rudd who less than three years ago soundly defeated the Liberal-National government of John Howard. The discontent with Rudd centered around his environmental policies. The Left was angry with him for abandoning a cap and trade plan (called an emissions trading scheme Down Under) while the Right was angry with him for trying to impose a "super tax" on the resource sector.

For her part, Gillard becomes the first woman to serve as Australia's Prime Minister. However, Gillard has her cut out for her as the Labor Party is behind in the polls to the Liberals who are led by Tony Abbott. But with an election not expected until October or November, Gillard has time on her side.

Ironically, Abbott wrested the Liberal Party leadership away from Malcolm Turnbull last December because of his support for an emissions trading scheme.

This was a very Australian coup indeed.

Royals Hand Strasburg First MLB Loss

Stephen Strasburg suffered his first MLB loss this afternoon as the Kansas City Royals bested the Washington Nationals 1-0.

Although Strasburg surrendered nine hits in six innings pitched he did strike out another nine batters without walking anyone. The only run Strasburg surrendered was a RBI single to Jose Guillen in the top of the 5th.

In four starts, Strasburg has struck out 41 batters in 25 and one third innings pitched while walking only five. All five of those walks came in his second start in Cleveland when he trouble with the mound at Progressive Field. So in three starts at Nationals Park, Strasburg has yet to yield a walk in 20 innings pitched.

In his last two starts, Strasburg has surrendered only two runs in 13 innings pitched. He has a no decision and a loss to show for his efforts. The Nationals have scored only one run in those two starts. But given that the Nats are not a good team it is to be expected that Strasburg's won loss record won't be as impressive as his ERA and strikeout totals.

Strasburg's next start will be against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. The Braves are actually the first team he's faced with a winning record. It will be interesting to see if Strasburg has any problems with the mound in Atlanta. It will also be interesting to see how he fares against Braves rookie sensation Jason Heyward.

Petraeus to Relieve McChrystal in Afghanistan

General Stanley McChrystal has resigned his command and CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus is set to pick up the slack in Afghanistan.

Under the circumstances it is probably for the best.

Americans have confidence in Petraeus for what he did with the surge in Iraq. If Petraeus can't fix Afghanistan then perhaps no one can. Of course, if Petraeus can't fix Afghanistan then it will reflect poorly on President Obama. Should things not improve then one might argue that Obama overreacted to the McChrystal article and let his personal feelings get in the way of prosecuting a war.

Of course, if Petraeus does restore order in Afghanistan then Obama comes out smelling roses. It might not hide the smell of the BP spill but it would certainly help him.

Marlins Fire Fredi Gonzalez

The Florida Marlins have fired manager Fredi Gonzalez and have replaced him with Edwin Rodriguez on an interim basis.

The Marlins also fired bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley.

I am not shocked by this move. The Marlins do have a losing record but at 34-36 they are far from awful. They are 7½ games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East and are underachieving. Gonzalez had been at the helm of the Marlins since 2007 and despite winning records the last two seasons I think Jeffrey Loria was expecting more in 2010.

Now one could argue the Marlins have a low payroll. But the San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers have even smaller payrolls than the Marlins and they are currently atop the NL West and the AL West, respectively. So money doesn't guarantee a pennant winner.

Or perhaps Loria didn't like it when Gonzalez briefly benched star player Hanley Ramirez last month.

I don't know much about Rodriguez other than he was manager with the Marlins' AAA affiliate in New Orleans and that he had a brief MLB playing career with the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres in the early to mid 1980s. Rodriguez has been with the Marlins organization since 2004 so the players are familiar with him.

The last time the Marlins changed managers in the middle of the season was in 2003. When Jack McKeon replaced Jeff Torborg all the Marlins did was win their second World Series title in franchise history.

But unless Rodriguez has the McKeon magic he is likely a stop gap measure because apparently Loria is hot and heavy for former Texas Rangers and New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine.

U.S. Defeats Algeria Despite More Referee Shenanigans

Cheers erupted in the cafeteria when Landon Donovan scored the game winning goal to give the U.S. a 1-0 victory over Algeria and advance it to the Round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup.

The U.S. had actually scored a goal earlier in the game but once again a referee disallowed the goal. Last Friday, the U.S. was denied what would have been a game winning goal against Slovenia and had to settle for a 2-2 tie. As was the case on Friday, the official made the wrong call. Had Donovan not scored the goal another tie would have eliminated the U.S. from the World Cup altogether.

The U.S. is scheduled to play on Saturday against the second place finisher in Group D which is most likely going to be either Germany or Ghana.

Either the officiating is incompetent or it is intentionally anti-American. Whatever the reason, I have a feeling this won't be the last time a referee will become an issue for the U.S. team. After all, things do come in threes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Haley & Scott Triumph in South Carolina

The next time someone from Brookline, Cambridge or Jamaica Plain or any other left-wing precinct dismisses conservatives and Republicans as racist I will direct their attention to South Carolina.

Tonight, Nikki Haley became the GOP gubernatorial nominee while Tim Scott is the Republican standard bearer for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District. Oh, did I mention that Haley happens to be of Indian heritage while Scott is black?

If this isn't evidence that South Carolina Republicans are color blind then I don't know what is?

To put it into perspective, Scott trounced Paul Thurmond by better than a two to one margin. That would be Thurmond as in the son of the late Strom Thurmond.

Of course, like poverty, racism will always be with us. As was the case earlier this month when S.C. GOP State Senator Jake Knotts referred to Haley (as well as President Obama) as a "raghead". South Carolina Republicans swiftly repudiated Knotts.

Haley and Scott earned their victories tonight through the content of their character and through the content of their ideas.

Both Haley and Scott will have tough races in November but given the increasingly conservative mood of the country Haley and Scott might have overcome their biggest obstacles tonight.

Judge Overturns Obama's Deepwater Drilling Moratorium

A district court judge has overturned the Obama Administration's six month moratorium on deepwater drilling. Judge Martin Feldman said the Department of the Interior failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. The Obama Administration intends to appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court.

The moratorium was imposed after the BP oil spill in April.

Banning deepwater drilling seemed like a kneejerk move to me. It would be kind of like imposing a moratorium on auto manufacturers because there are too many car accidents.

But we shall see how the Fifth Circuit rules.

Prediction: General McChrystal Will Resign

It is clear that President Obama and General Stanley McChrystal were never on the same page. The President squeezed McChrystal in his schedule last October while focusing on a greater priority - Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. We all know how well that worked out.

While I have no doubt Obama didn't endear himself to McChrystal in his position he has to suck it up. I can't see how McChrystal remains as Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. Not after he talked to Rolling Stone. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are dancing in their caves.

We all know how well Obama takes criticism. Even if Obama doesn't fire McChrystal today I don't see how they can repair their relationship assuming they ever had one in the first place. How can they fight a war together if they are at war with each other? This isn't to say that Presidents and General can't have disagreements. Those disagreements just have to be behind closed doors.

Given that McChrystal has as much pride as Obama and couldn't countenance the prospect of being dismissed I think he will pre-empt the President and offer his resignation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

If I Were On The North Korean Soccer Team....

I would find a way to defect.

I can't imagine Kim Jong-il is amused North Korea was trounced 7-0 by Portugal and eliminated from the World Cup Tournament.

Methinks they will be headed to a labor camp along with their coach. Yet apparently the coach received advice from Kim himself. But I don't think Kim is going to fall on his sword. With that in mind I don't think he'll refrain from giving advice to the North Korean fencing team.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shelby Steele's Must Read Article on Israel & The West

Shelby Steele has written a must read article on the surrender of the West to anti-Israel sentiment in Monday's online edition of The Wall Street Journal:

This is now - figuratively in some quarters and literally in others - the moral template through which Israel is seen. It doesn't matter that much of the world may actually know better. This template has become propriety itself, a form of good manners, a political correctness. Thus it is good manners to be outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza, and it is bad manners to be outraged at Hamas's recent attack on a school because it educated girls, or at the thousands of rockets Hamas had fired into Israeli towns - or even at the fact that Hamas is armed and funded by Iran. The world wants independent investigations of Israel, not of Hamas.

One reason for this is that the entire Western world has suffered from a deficit of moral authority for decades now. Today we in the West are reluctant to use our full military might in war lest we seem imperialistic; we hesitate to enforce our borders lest we seem racist; we are reluctant to ask for assimilation from new immigrants lest we seem xenophobic; and we are pained to give Western Civilization primacy in our educational curricula lest we seem supremacist. Today, the West lives on the defensive; the very legitimacy of our modern societies requiring constant dissociation from the sins of the Western past - racism, economic exploitation, imperialism and so on.

Steele is spot on here. Of course, there are exceptions within the Western world. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper comes to mind. Not only with the flotilla incident but his evisceration of Libby Davies, an MP who is the Deputy Leader of the New Democratic Party (my old political home). Harper lambasted Davies for her suggestion that Israeli occupation commenced in 1948 and thus questioning Israel's very legitimacy and also took NDP leader Jack Layton to task for not removing her from her post. The Prime Minister went as far as to liken Davies to disgraced former White House correspondent Helen Thomas.

Nonetheless, Harper is an exception. Mix in white liberal guilt with an old hatred and you have a potent poison too many in the West are not only happy to drink but are prepared to give to others. Steele's article represents a drop of reason in a sea of irrationality.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

There's No Vuvuzelas in Baseball

The World Cup in South Africa has been besieged with vuvuzelas.

While I was listening to the Red Sox-Dodgers game on the radio, Dave O'Brien said that 15,000 vuvuzelas were going to be handed out at Sun Life Stadium in Miami at tonight's Florida Marlins-Tampa Bay Rays game.

I said to myself, "Well, at least I don't have to watch that game."

Or so I thought.

The MLB Network had scheduled the Oakland Athletics-St. Louis Cardinals game but instead showed the Rays and Marlins. So for 11 innings I had to endure the vuvuzelas with the Rays holding off the Marlins 9-8. What's astonishing is with a little over 23,000 fans in attendance the stadium was two thirds empty.

In fact, I think the vuvuzelas were a negative factor in the game. In the ninth inning, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez made a double switch in the lineup placing shortstop Brian Barden in the ninth spot and third baseman Wes Helms in the third spot. But home plate umpire Lance Barksdale didn't write down the changes correctly and Barden batting third and Helms batting ninth and conveyed this information to Rays manager Joe Maddon. When Maddon pointed out the discrepancy after a walk was issued to Barden, Barksdale called Barden out for batting out of order. Gonzalez was subsequently ejected from the game for arguing the call.

While the Marlins broadcasters discussed a miscommunication they did not mention the vuvuzelas could have impeded Barksdale's hearing. Vuvuzelas don't belong in baseball.

Yet I have a funny feeling the vuvuzelas will be heard when soccer comes to Fenway Park next month. Well, as long as it doesn't take place during Red Sox games.

Manute Bol, 1962-2010. R.I.P.

Former NBA great Manute Bol died today of kidney failure and Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare skin disorder. He was 47.

Bol apparently became ill last month after visiting his native Sudan.

Standing seven feet, seven inches, Bol was the tallest player in NBA history.

But Bol stood even taller when it came to the plight of those in his native Sudan. After his NBA career ended, Bol returned to Sudan despite an ongoing civil war that had taken a toll on members of his Dinka tribe. In recognition of his popularity, the Sudanese government offered him a cabinet post. However, there was a catch.

He would have to convert to Islam.

Bol, who was raised a Christian, refused.

From then on, the Sudanese government made his life hell accusing him of being a spy following President Clinton's decision to bomb Sudan following the attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. While he would eventually be allowed to leave Sudan he had to essentially pay the government a bribe to exit the country. After some time in Egypt, Bol was allowed to come to the United States as a refugee in 2002.

Bol sustained a broken neck in a car accident in 2004. But it wouldn't deter him from trying to help his people.

Here's a short interview Bol did with Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugged following the launch of the Sudan Freedom Walk in New York in March 2006.

Now there walked a brave man.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Mixed Reception for Manny

Tonight marked the return of Manny Ramirez to Fenway Park.

He actually received a better reception than I thought. While Manny was mostly jeered there were plenty of "Manny!!! Manny!!!" chants.

He certainly didn't receive the rough ride Johnny Damon or Roger Clemens received during their return visits to Fenway. Then again Manny wasn't wearing Yankee pinstripes.

Manny's reception was still surprising considering the Dodgers arrived in town the night after the Celtics fell to the Lakers in the NBA Final.

Manny went 1 for 5 tonight. Daniel Bard struck him out looking in the ninth to end the game and earn the save. It was only in that at bat that the "Beat L.A." chant really kicked in. The Sox won 10-6.

Here's an article I wrote about Manny the day the Sox traded him to the Dodgers. It's hard to believe that was nearly two years ago.

Strasburg Strikes Out Ten; Nats Lose in Eleven

Stephen Strasburg struck out ten batters in seven innings pitched tonight against the Chicago White Sox at Nationals Park. He also did not walk a batter.

However, Strasburg would not be involved in the decision as the Nationals would lose 2-1 in 11 innings.

Strasburg ran into first inning trouble when Juan Pierre legged out an infield hit and Omar Vizquel hit a bloop double to get Pierre to third. Pierre would score on a groundout by Alex Rios.

The Nationals scored their only run on a double by Adam Dunn in the bottom of the 7th.

Poor Gavin Floyd. I saw his last start against the Cubs on Sunday night in which he did not give up a hit until the 7th. However, Ted Lilly carried a no-hitter into the 9th and won 1-0. Tonight, Floyd gave up only one run over eight innings. So Floyd has pitched brilliantly in his last two starts and has a los and a no decision to show for it. Floyd is much better than his 2-7 record would indicate.

President Obama was in attendance at tonight's game. He is, of course, a White Sox fan. Not that he can name any players on the team. Yet I found it interesting that Obama's presence was not noted by Nationals broadcasters Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble.

But then again the game should be about who is on the field not who is in the stands.

Koman Coulibaly is No Jim Joyce

The U.S. was robbed at the World Cup worse than Armando Galarraga was by Jim Joyce.

Galarraga settled for a one hit shutout. The U.S. settled for a 2-2 tie against Slovenia.

And unlike Joyce, World Cup referee Koman Coulibaly isn't apologizing.

Gee, to think the world was supposed to like us more because Obama is in office.

Kagan: NRA=KKK?

Robert VerBruggen, an associate editor National Review, writes the magazine has obtained documents from Clinton Presidential Library suggesting that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan likened the National Rifle Association to the Ku Klux Klan while she was Associate White House Counsel during the Clinton Administration.

As the story goes, back in 1996, the Clinton Administration was trying to determine its position on the Volunteer Protection Act. It was a piece of legislation designed to protect volunteers at non-profits from legal liability. Apparently, there are notes which appear to be in Kagan's handwriting which ask if the law would apply to organizations like the NRA and the KKK.

Let's assume that she in fact wrote that note. Certainly it's disconcerting but frankly I would not be surprised if she held such a view. I don't think it's a stretch of the imagination to state there are a lot of urban liberals who would liken the NRA to the KKK. I mean how many urban liberals were transfixed by Bowling for Columbine?

The reason I say urban liberals is because if you live outside the city you tend to have a different views of guns and the NRA even if you are a liberal. When Howard Dean was seeking the Democratic Party nomination he made no bones about his support for the NRA while he was Governor of Vermont.

This urban/rural divide exists in Canada as well. When I interned for former NDP MP Nelson Riis back in 1994 I had the opportunity to sit in on a few NDP caucus meetings. At the time, the Liberal government of Jean Chretien was in the midst of instituting the National Gun Registry. You would think the NDP would have supported it. But no. At the time about two thirds of the NDP caucus was from Saskatchewan which is an overwhelmingly rural province and those members were more opposed to the registry than many conservative politicians. The only member of the NDP caucus who supported the National Gun Registry was Svend Robinson who represented an urban constituency in Vancouver.

This dynamic still exists within the NDP. Currently, there is a private members bill by a Conservative backbencher to abolish the National Gun Registry. Twelve members of the NDP Caucus voted in favor of scrapping the registry on the second reading of the bill. That's one third of their caucus. The final reading of the bill is expected in the fall.

But I digress.

Now I think this matter should certainly be brought up during Kagan's confirmation hearing. However, I think if Kagan is asked about it she will most likely reply that she does not recall writing the memo. Ultimately, I don't think it will damage Kagan anymore that the "wise Latina" remark damaged Sonia Sotomayor.

It was a given that President Obama was going to appoint a liberal to the bench. In the grand scheme of things, amongst all the bad options he had to choose from, she is the best of them.

Let The Feds Sue Arizona Over Its Immigration Law

If what Hillary Clinton says is true and that in fact the Department of Justice will sue Arizona over SB 1070 then I say, "Let them."

Let them get into a battle they know they are going lose.

It is a battle they are going to lose both legally and politically.

Or is this Hillary's way of extricating herself out of the Obama Administration?

Hentoff on Obama: One of the Most Dangerous Presidents We've Ever Had

I just read an interview with Nat Hentoff that appeared in The New York Times yesterday.

Hentoff, who spent half a century at The Village Voice, is one of the few left-wingers in America who is ardently pro-life.

In fact, Hentoff's pro-life views are so strong they are what kept him from supporting Barack Obama in 2008.

Suffice it to say, Hentoff is even less a fan of Obama than he was two years ago. When Hentoff (who has long written about jazz) was asked about Obama's taste in jazz he had this to say:

Somebody told me that he has Coltrane on his iPod. But that doesn’t mean that anybody who listens to John or listens to Louie Armstrong’s “West End Blues” is going to be then transformed. Shelby Steele, who’s a very astute writer, wrote a book about Obama just before he came into office. And he said Obama is a man of many masks. And it’s hard to find out who the decent Obama is. In terms of civil liberties, I don’t see anybody there. And it could be that he responds to Coltrane.

But my sense of Obama, and I certainly have followed him very closely, is that his main concern is himself and how he’s going to look and achieve the power and the prestige that he wants. I think in many ways, and it sounds very hyperbolic, he’s one of the most dangerous presidents we’ve ever had. So as you can tell, I am not an admirer of Barack Obama, even though he listens to John Coltrane.

I find Hentoff's observations about Obama particularly interesting because nearly five years ago Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay, made the argument that if Dick Cheney had listened to Radiohead's O.K. Computer it would have changed his life. Ergo there would be no war in Iraq. I thought Martin's views on the transformative power of music were rather silly and challenged them.

I'm not suggesting music doesn't have transformative powers but I think Hentoff is right on the mark with regard to Obama and John Coltrane. Or put another way, I like the Beatles and President Obama likes the Beatles (and at least one Beatle likes him) but I certainly don't admire Obama.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lakers Beat Celtics....I Blame Obama

The Los Angeles Lakers have just defeated the Boston Celtics 83-79 in Game 7 of NBA Finals to win the NBA championship for a second consecutive season.

I am not surprised at this outcome. But I do not cast blame on the loss of Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace's foul trouble or the Celtics penchant for fourth quarter collapses.

No, I blame this revolting development on President Obama.

All of Boston's championships (three Super Bowls, two World Series and one NBA Title) came when President Bush was in office.

Thus no Boston team will taste championship as long as President Obama remains in office.

Daniel Nava Continues to Hit

My piece on Red Sox rookie Daniel Nava (and Stephen Strasburg, too) is up on the IC main page today.

Well, Nava continues to hit. Tonight, I was at the Sox-D'Backs game and Nava went 3 for 4 with an RBI double. In five games, Nava has gone 8 for 18 with a .444 average, one memorable homerun and six RBI.

My Act of Solidarity With Arizona

Tonight, I engaged in act of solidarity with Arizona.

I went to Fenway Park and saw the Red Sox take on the Diamondbacks.

However, I think most of Red Sox Nation is more concerned with beating L.A. than boycotting Arizona.

Go Celtics!!!

Sebastian Horsley, 1962-2010. R.I.P.

Performance artist, painter and writer Sebastian Horsley has died of an apparent heroin overdose. He was 47.

His death comes only 48 hours after Dandy in the Underworld, a play adapted from his autobiography of the same name premiered at the Soho Theatre in London to much praise.

Horsley is perhaps best known for subjecting himself to a crucifixion in the Philippines nearly a decade ago.

His notoriety was sufficient to deny him entry into this country back in 2008 on the grounds of moral terpitude when he was promoting Dandy in the Underworld. In retrospect, it seems quite shortsighted. Horsley was a greater threat to himself than to others.

But when I think of Horsley I think of this piece he wrote in The Observer in 2004 about his sexual escapades with prostitutes. I suspect that many people would be put off by the subject matter and his approach to it. But his writing was just too superb. He also did not portray himself as a romantic figure. "Yes, yes, I know. Prostitution is obscene, debasing and disgraceful. The point is, so am I," Horsley concluded.

For a man who by all appearances was pretentious turned out to be anything but.

Israel Will Ease Blockade of Gaza

The Israeli government has announced it will ease its blockade of Gaza.

I don't think it will do them a bit of good.

First, it won't mollify Israel's critics. For them the Jewish state is illegitimate and therefore any action it takes is illegitimate.

Second, this really isn't about the blockade. If it was similar international pressure would have been brought to bear against Egypt which is also blockading Gaza.

Third, that Israel was compelled to take this step rewards Turkey, the IHH, Hamas and all other state and non-state entities who wish to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth. If Israel is not allowed to defend itself it can only encourage more belligerence.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Switzerland Stuns Spain 1-0 @ World Cup

I think the reaction of the Swiss to this development is anything but neutral.

Canadian Member of Parliament Pulls a Helen Thomas

Libby Davies, a Member of Parliament from Vancouver, is under the microscope for statements she made following an anti-Israel demonstration earlier this month.

When Davies, who is a member of the New Democratic Party (my old party), is asked if she believes Israel's "occupation" of Gaza and the West Bank began in 1948 or 1967 she replied, "'48. It's the longest occupation in the world."

It's a curious response given that Gaza and the West Bank were under the control of Egypt and Jordan between 1948 and 1967. But why let facts get in the way of irrational thought?

Davies also stated repeatedly that Gaza was under siege, called for all Israeli settlements to be dismantled and expressed support for the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel.

Davies was denounced by both Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal MP Bob Rae. Harper likened Davies' remarks to those of former White House correspondent Helen Thomas and called upon Davies to resign as Deputy Leader of the NDP.

It is also worth noting that Rae was for most of his political career a member of the NDP. But he would have a falling out with the NDP in 2002 following it's increasingly anti-Israel sentiments.

For her part, Davies has released a self-serving statement which reflects the sentiments of someone who is not genuinely apologetic but rather the sentiments of someone who got caught.

Thomas Mulcair, the NDP's other Deputy Leader ripped Davies' comments. Mulcair, who is the only NDP MP from Quebec said, No member of our caucus, whatever other title they have, is allowed to invent their own policy.” Muclair also called upon Davies to apologize for her support of boycotting Israel.

NDP leader Jack Layton had to make assurances to Miriam Ziv, Israel's Ambassador to Canada, that Davies' views do not reflect those of the NDP. However, Layton has resisted calls from Harper and others to remove Davies as Deputy Leader. I wonder how this will sit with Mulcair. What if Mulcair resigns as Deputy Leader? Does Layton really want to lose his Quebec lieutenant?

Why Layton appointed Davies as Deputy Leader boggles the mind. Even when I was a member of the NDP I thought Davies was kind of flaky. Back in 1998, she tried to lead a Citizens' Weapons Inspection Team to inspect U.S. weapons of mass destruction in Washington state. Davies puts the loony in loony left.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thoughts on Obama's Oval Office Address

I watched President Obama's first Oval Office address this evening.

I was underwhelmed.

It seemed to be as much of an address about cap and trade as it was about capping the oil spill in the Gulf.

Presidents are supposed to provide reassurance in troubled times. It's difficult to do that when it looks like you are reading your remarks as if you were reading a passage from Heart of Darkness aloud in a high school English class. It's also difficult to be reassuring if you're busy impersonating Jimmy Carter and lecturing Americans about our consumption of oil and other fossil fuels. A condescending lecture won't do anything to clean up the spill. If anything it just muddies already murky waters.

President Obama's remarks this evening simply did nothing to inspire my confidence.

Father & Son Plead Guilty to Honor Killing in Canada

In December 2007, 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez was murdered by her father and older brother in Mississauga, Ontario (just west of Toronto) for refusing to wear the hijab. It was an honor killing.

Today, Muhammad Parvez and his son Waqas pleaded guilty to her murder and will receive automatic life sentences. However, it is worth noting that a life sentence in Canada doesn't literally mean life. A life sentence in Canada is worth 25 years. Both father and son are eligible for parole in ten years.

Still, there is some measure of satisfaction that Canada is unwilling to tolerate such abhorrent Islamic customs.

If Obama Believes The Gulf Oil Spill "Echoes 9/11".....

If President Obama believes the Gulf Coast Oil Spill "echoes 9/11" then why did he wait more than eight weeks to address the nation from the Oval Office?

For all the grief President Bush received for reading The Pet Goat in that Florida classroom immediately after hearing about the attacks on the World Trade Center it must be remembered that he did address the nation from the Oval Office that evening.

If the Gulf Coast Oil Spill truly echoes 9/11 wouldn't President Obama have addressed the nation on April 20, 2010 rather than on June 15, 2010?

If the Gulf Oil Spill echoes 9/11 wouldn't President Obama refer to it as 4/20?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Castro Compares Israel to the Nazis

Cuba's diplomatic mission has issued a statement from Fidel Castro who likens Israel to the Nazis:

The hatred felt by the state of Israel against the Palestinians is such that they would not hesitate to send the one and a half million men, women and children of that country to the crematoria where millions of Jews of all ages were exterminated by the Nazis. It would seem that the Fuehrer's swastika is today Israel's banner.

Castro's statements come as little surprise given his long standing animosity towards Israel. Since severing diplomatic ties with Israel in 1973 shortly before the Yom Kippur War, Castro has supported infamous UN General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism, has facilitated training camps for Palestinian terrorists and has banned books by the likes of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel.

It is also not the first time Castro has likened Israel to the Nazis. Consider what he said about Israel before the UN General Assembly on October 12, 1979 when he spoke on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement:

The revolutionary movement has always affirmed its abhorrence of racial discrimination and pogroms of any kind, and deep in our hearts we repudiate with all our strength the unrelenting persecution and genocide that Nazism unleashed in its time against the Jewish people. But I cannot recall anything so similar in contemporary history than the eviction, persecution and genocide carried out today by imperialism and Zionism against the Palestinian people, stripped of their land, expelled from their own homeland, dispersed throughout the world, persecuted and murdered. The heroic Palestinians are an impressive example of abnegation and patriotism are a living symbol of the greatest crime of our age.

It should also come as no surprise that Castro was promptly applauded for these remarks.

Of course, Castro's Cuba has committed far greater crimes against their own people than Israel would ever entertain doing against the Palestinians. But when the worst abusers of human rights get a seat at the UN Human Rights Council get to sit in judgment of Israel it demonstrates that not much has changed at the UN in three decades. The same could be said for Fidel Castro.

CBS Justifies Etheridge's Assault on Conservative Students

A video of North Carolina Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge roughing up a conservative student has gone viral.

Needless to say, the liberal media can't ignore it. But it doesn't mean they can't spin it.

CBS News headline reads:

Bob Etheridge Altercation With "Student" Caught on Tape, Goes Viral


Does CBS know for a fact the young man in the video isn't a student?

Isn't it possible for a young man to be both conservative and a student?

Why is CBS justifying Etheridge's behavior towards this young man?

Would CBS have put quotations marks around the word student had a Republican Congressman assaulted a liberal student with a camera?

If a GOP Congressman had treated a liberal student in that fashion CBS would be telling us about "right-wing violence" and lamenting the lack of civil discourse in this country.

Is it any wonder people are losing faith in CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, etc?

Sophie B. Hawkins: Damn, I Wish Obama Wasn't President

When I think of Sophie B. Hawkins I think of a singer who had a couple of hits in the early 1990s.

When I think of Sophie B. Hawkins I think of all the things that go along with being a singer these days - environmentalism, veganism, lesbianism (or in her case bisexuality).

But until this morning I would not have thought of Sophie B. Hawkins as a critic of President Obama.

Hawkins has been critical of President Obama's handling of the Gulf oil spill. In fact, she has accused him of throwing America under the bus.

She just penned a song called "The Land, the Sea & the Sky." One hundred percent of the proceeds are being donated to the Waterkeeper Alliance which is heavily involved in the clean up efforts down in the Gulf. Hawkins recently performed the song on Fox & Friends.

It is worth noting that Hawkins was a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic primaries. She was never a fan of Obama stating, "I honestly couldn't believe so many people were into him." However, Hawkins also said she recently attended a Tea Party rally in Santa Monica.

Until today, I would have never imagined Sophie B. Hawkins attending a Tea Party rally.

And if the Sophie B. Hawkins of the world are attending Tea Parties then President Obama had better watch out.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lilly Loses No-Hitter in the Ninth

Tonight, I saw Ted Lilly of the Chicago Cubs take a no-hitter into the 9th inning against the Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

I had a bad feeling when Juan Pierre was sent up as a pinch hitter to lead off the 9th. He likes to slap the ball around and is very fast. Sure enough Pierre hit a single up the middle. Cubs manager Lou Piniella promptly took out Lilly and brought in Carlos Marmol. A walk, a balk and then the bases were loaded but Marmol managed to preserve the 1-0 victory. It was only Lilly's second victory of the 2010 season.

White Sox starter Gavin Floyd pitched an outstanding game as well. He didn't surrender his first hit until the 7th inning when Alfonso Soriano hit a double down the left field line. Chad Tracy drove in Soriano with a single. It's a shame someone had to lose.

I've always had a soft spot for the soft throwing lefty. I saw Lilly pitch in Ottawa when he was part of the Montreal Expos organization. I also saw him throw a complete game, three hit shutout against the Boston Red Sox at the Rogers Centre when he was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays back in August 2004. He beat Pedro Martinez in that game and struck out a career high 13 batters. By contrast, Lilly had only three strikeouts tonight. Still, until tonight, it was the best game he had pitched in his 12 year big league career.

Jimmy Dean, 1928-2010. R.I.P.

Country music singer and entrepreneur Jimmy Dean died today of natural causes. He was 81.

Dean made his mark in both country music and rock n' roll with his 1961 hit "Big Bad John."

It's a song that has endured for decades. In fact, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn used it during his successful re-election bid in 2008.

Earlier this year, Dean was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He also occasionally took acting roles most notably in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever starring Sean Connery.

But he is perhaps best known for being the man behind Jimmy Dean Sausage.

Strasburg Wins Second Start Despite Five Walks

Stephen Strasburg is now 2-0 in the big leagues.

Strasburg was not as spectacular as his MLB debut against the Pirates on Tuesday. However, the Washington Nationals defeated the Cleveland Indians 9-4 to give Strasburg his second big league victory.

In his debut against the Bucs, Strasburg struck out 14 without walking a single batter in seven innings pitched. While Strasburg did strike out eight batters he also walked five batters over five and one thirds innings pitched.

The big problem was the mound in Progressive Field. As the game wore on Strasburg kept slipping on the landing spot on the mound. It might not sound like much but if the surface of the mound is slippery you can injure your heel, ankle or knee. A pitcher uses his legs to generate power and to control where the ball is going. If you have an uneven and unsteady surface it can be trouble.

At Strasburg's request, the umpires asked the grounds crew to fix the mound on two occasions during the game. Nationals manager Jim Rigglemann took Strasburg out of the game in the sixth inning after he loaded the bases. Strasburg surrendered a single to rookie catcher Carlos Santana and then issued back to back walks to Travis Hafner and Austin Kearns. However, Nats reliever Drew Storen retired the next two hitters to get Strasburg out of the inning unscathed.

Despite the five walks, none of them came around to score. Strasburg gave up only one run on two hits. The only run charged to Strasburg was a solo homerun to Hafner who hit a good pitch low and in on a line. The bottom line is that he got the win.

Strasburg's next start is scheduled for next Friday in Washington against the Chicago White Sox.

I am torn between watching that or watching Manny Ramirez's return to Fenway Park when the Los Angeles Dodgers come to town.

Re: We Con the World


I've just seen the video at YouTube.

I think it is an effective response. The struggle between good and evil isn't confined to combat. At it's core, this struggle involves ideas. Humor is a very powerful way to convey these ideas. Besides, the decline in Israel's military success cannot be laid at the feet of satirists.

I also think the Israelis know the state they are in and have always been in. Under those conditions how can you survive without a sense of humor?

We Con the World

These days, when a story is hot, its grab for the public's attention is usually signaled by a video going viral on YouTube. An example of the phenomenon is the current, heavily-viewed video "We Con the World". The main version, produced by LatmaTV, was pulled by YouTube a day or so ago for spurious reqasons, but the video is still available – just search on "We Con the World" in YouTube. The video is a very clever satire on the classic, but melodramatic video "We Are the World" (, which featured famous pop stars preening for Aid to Africa. The hot story dealt with in the new video is the ill-fated Israeli interception of the "Humanitarian Flotilla" that Turkish-based terrorists engineered in order to break the naval blockade that Israel has imposed on Gaza. The production uses the same tune, but altered lyrics from the original video. It is deeply sarcastic, even sardonic, but like the original, quite entertaining. It blows a huge hole in the ridiculous claim that the people of Gaza are suffering under a barbaric quarantine by the Israelis.

But the video raises a serious question for me: does its release, which, in some fashion, has constituted Israel's main response to the event, say something positive or negative about how Israel is dealing with its increasing isolation and vilification in the world arena?

I will offer two reasons for each answer.

First, it is an effective response because:
1. It shows that Israel has retained its sense of humor, upbeat attitude and self-confidence despite the vile lies, slander and physical threats to which she is subjected daily.
2. It shows that the Israelis are more seriously and effectively engaged in the PR battle that accompanies their struggle for survival. In the past, Israelis assumed the world would see the obvious justice of their cause and so they concentrated all their firepower on military preparation and response, neglecting the propaganda field of battle.

No, it is an ineffective response because:
1. It is a weak retort to a grave military and political provocation. Moreover, it is consistent with the following assessment: Following heroically successful efforts to defend their freedom in the 20th century (War of Independence, Suez War, Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, Entebbe, 1st Lebanon War), Israeli performance in the past decade has weakened considerably (2nd intifada, 2nd Lebanon War, retreats from South Lebanon and Gaza). This video represents a silly response to Iran's deadly attempt to establish a beachhead on the Mediterranean within easy reach of Israel. It does not augur well.
2. The video suggests that the Israeli public might not sufficiently appreciate the dire circumstances in which the country finds itself – politically isolated, surrounded by hostile and implacable foes, with weakened support from its main benefactor and even desertion, to some extent, by coreligionists in America and Europe.

So which is it? I'm not sure; you tell me!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Moment to Nava Forget

Daniel Nava will never forget this day for as long as he lives.

On the very first pitch he saw in the major leagues, Nava hit a grand slam homerun.

He then got a curtain call in Fenway Park.

Nava's homerun gave the Red Sox a 5-2 lead in the 2nd inning en route to a 10-2 walloping of the Philadelphia Phillies.

He becomes only the fourth player in major league history to hit a grand slam in his first plate appearance. Only he and Kevin Kouzmanoff (then of the Cleveland Indians) did it on the first pitch. Ironically, Nava was called up after outfielder Jeremy Hermida was placed on the DL. Hermida also hit a grand slam in his MLB debut with the Florida Marlins in 2005.

Not bad for a kid who only found before midnight he was being called up to the major leagues.

Also not bad for someone who was cut from his college team, not drafted and released in the independent leagues. Unlike Stephen Strasburg, there was no great anticipation of his major league debut maybe except from his parents who flew in from California to see his first game.

Yet he and Stephen Strasburg are in the baseball history books just the same.

As Ronald Reagan might say, "Not bad. Not bad at all."

U.S. & U.K. 1-1 Draw @ World Cup

The United States held the United Kingdom to a 1-1 draw in their opening match at the World Cup.

I have the same problem with soccer that I do with hockey. I don't like games that end in a tie. There's no resolution. No wonder there's so much violence with those two sports.

Be that as it may the fact the U.S. was able to tie the U.K. could almost be looked upon as a victory. Almost. I mean their goal was kind of fluky.

The U.S. team's next match is against Slovenia on June 18th followed by a match against Algeria on June 23rd.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Get a Kick Out of This Soccer Commercial

I'm not a big fan of soccer. But with the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted by South Africa beginning today we are going to be saturated with it over the next month.

But one of my favorite commercials was an Adidas ad promoting the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. It consisted of two young boys in a village picking soccer teams using their favorite players with the actual players coming out into the village including David Beckham.

My favorite part of the commercial was when one of the boys picked German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer. The other boy laughed until he saw Beckenbauer come out looking about thirty years younger. The other players looked at him with a mixture of awe and fearl. A baseball equivalent would be if two boys picked a group of today's All Stars and then one of them picked Willie Mays in his prime.

So yes I do get a kick out of this commercial.

Dirk Benedict & Dwight Schultz: A-Team Conservatives

Today, The A-Team will be released in movie theatres across North America.

I have no intention of seeing it.

So why do I mention it?

Well, because one cannot talk about the movie without talking about the TV series from which it was spawned.

The A-Team (the TV series) was remarkable in that featured not one but two conservatives in its cast - Dirk Benedict as Face and Dwight Schultz as Murdock.

As it happens both of them are very engaging writers thanks to Andrew Breitbart. Here is an article Benedict wrote last year about his earlier role as Lt. Starbuck on the original Battlestar Galactica and how he characterized the updated version of the show as "bleak, miserable, despairing, angry and confused."

Shortly after Benedict's article came out, Schultz wrote a piece about what it is like to be a conservative actor in liberal Hollywood. Let's just say that he doesn't paint a very pleasant picture. The late Paul Newman was a notable exception to the rule.

At the time that Schultz wrote the article he hadn't been on camera since 2001 although he was getting steady work doing voiceovers. He does, however, have a cameo in The A-Team movie. So at least one good thing has come out of the movie.

Abby Sunderland is Alive & Well

An Australian search and rescue plane has located Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old who is attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo.

Sunderland was unharmed. However, her boat Wild Eyes sustained damage caused by waves up to 30 feet. Her sail is in the water and the mast has been damaged but the keel is in tact and has not taken on water. However, the boat cannot sail. It can only drift and thus she is at the mercy of the ocean. It is expected that a search and rescue boat should reach her sometime tomorrow though.

Of course, the question is now whether she will continue her expedition. Needless to say, repairs will have to made to her boat as they were after she landed in Cape Town last month. I am sure that if she chooses to resume her journey there will be howls of anger along the lines of, "What if they have to rescue her again?"

But Sunderland has done everything any other sailor would do if they were in her position. I don't think Sunderland's nautical skills are the issue here. Unfortunately, I think there are too many people who can't see past her age and her gender.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Abby Sunderland Disappears

Abby Sunderland, who is attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo, has apparently disappeared somewhere in the Indian Ocean. A search and rescue mission has commenced.

Her family has been unable to establish radio contact with the 16-year-old after she sent two distress signals.

If Sunderland cannot be found there will undoubtedly be an international outcry to ban this sort of activity. At the very minimum, the efforts to stop 14-year-old Laura Dekker from her own around the world solo expedition. At present, Dekker is a ward of the Dutch court until July 1st. However, Dutch child protective services are petitioning the court to extend their custody of Dekker. A hearing is scheduled to take place on June 17th. Should Sunderland still be missing by that date I would be shocked if the Dutch court didn't grant the petition.

In July 2009, Sunderland's older brother Zac briefly became the youngest to sail around the world solo when he was 17-years old. The following month British sailor Michael Perham eclipsed that record. Then last month, Australian Jessica Watson claimed the record when she sailed into Sydney Harbor greeted by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. She arrived three days shy of her 17th birthday after having sailed non-stop for nearly seven months.

Sunderland's expedition has had difficulty from the outset. She initially set sail in January but aborted this attempt just over a week due to inadequate equipment on her boat. Sunderland launched her second attempt in February and sailed non-stop for nearly 2½ months until repairs forced her to land in Cape Town in May. While that put an end to her objective of sailing non-stop she still intended to sail around the world. Sunderland resumed her journey three weeks ago.

Obviously, I hope she is found alive and well. But if not I think we ought to keep in mind that neither she nor her parents had any illusions that this was going to be a walk in the park. They knew what they were getting into.

Is Geert Wilders is the Most Powerful Man in Holland?

While Geert Wilders won't be Holland's next Prime Minister for the moment he is the most powerful man in the Netherlands.

Last night, Dutch voters ousted Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats after eight years in office.

The Balkenende government fell last February when the Dutch Parliament could not agree on extending the deployment of troops in Afghanistan. After the election results came in, Balkenende resigned as party leader as well as his seat in parliament.

Wilders' Freedom Party won 24 seats in the new Dutch Parliament. Wilders stated, "More security, less crime, less immigration, less Islam -- that is what the Netherlands has chosen."
Only the Liberals and Labor Party won more seats with 31 and 30, respectively.

Wilders is being touted as a potential kingmaker. However, it is also not inconceivable that the Liberals and Labor could form a coalition with either the ousted Christian Democrats or with the smaller left-wing parties (Socialists and Democrats 66) and leave Wilders out in the cold. But that could be to his benefit if a new coalition does not properly address the country's currently dire fiscal situation and forces another election.

I had the opportunity to meet Wilders when he spoke in the Boston area in February 2009.

Crispian St. Peters, 1939-2010. R.I.P.

Singer Crispian St. Peters died yesterday after a lengthy illness. He was 71.

The British born Peters was best known for his 1966 transatlantic hit "The Pied Piper."

Although he continued to enjoy a successful career in the UK, "The Pied Piper" was his only hit in North America.

I had not realized he had recorded a version of "You Were On My Mind" which was a big hit for the We Five in 1965. "You Were On My Mind" was written by Sylvia Fricker. If you are unfamiliar with Ms. Fricker she would marry Ian Tyson and become one half of Ian & Sylvia.

They sure don't make music like this anymore.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blackhawks Win First Stanley Cup in 49 Years

Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks.

They defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final giving the Hawks their first trophy since 1961. It represented the longest championship drought in the NHL.

However, their drought pales in comparison next to the Chicago Cubs who haven't won a World Series since 1908. In fact, the Cubs haven't been to a World Series since 1945.

Still, it's good to see an "original six" team win Lord Stanley's Cup.

Boycott T-Mobile! The boycott is over

Oct. 1, 2010 update: T-Mobile has refunded the contract termination fee they charged me for ending service with them. It took an intervention by a friend who knew someone high-level within the company. But since I have gotten the result I have sought, which was a refund of the wrongful contract termination fee, I am removing the Boycott T-Mobile banners from my websites.

If you're thinking about going with T-Mobile for cell phone service - DON'T. After what I've been through with them the last few months, I've figured out their customer service attitude right now is one of the worst among phone companies. If you get a bad phone, one that was released before most major technical glitches were worked out of it, they will not let you out of the contract until you've exchanged the phone at least three times. If you thought you would resolve all of the problems eventually so you didn't return it within the 30-day window, you're out of luck and they will not let you out of it, no matter how many letters you send back and forth and how much evidence you provide that the phone is a dud.

The Motorola Cliq phone I purchased from them dropped calls constantly - 58 times in one month I checked, including five times during one single call to a landline (see documentation below)! It "ghost-dialed" numbers several times a week. It would be sitting on my desk and randomly start dialing people who had recently called me - including a stalker and a job interview. It ghost-dialed a friend of mine at least three times in one afternoon. Others have reported this problem. I returned the phone and the new model continued to have the same problem, although not quite as often.

I never was able to get my email account to work, another known glitch with the phone, even after an hour on the phone with their tech support, which couldn't figure it out either. I spent easily over 25 hours trying to get the technical glitches with the phone fixed. There were many other technical glitches, too many to list here.

T-Mobile refused to let me out of the contract no matter what, even after I contacted the Better Business Bureau, and even though there is plenty of information on the internet about the terrible problems with this phone. I have sent them two long letters, which I CC'd to the company president, detailing the problems and a spreadsheet of the dropped calls. Now they are coming after me trying to charge me a $303 contract termination fee. Their approach was to blame me, the customer, accusing me of not spending enough time with their tech support and not canceling within the first 30 days, and telling me that many dropped calls was normal! Never mind the fact my phone prior to that with them never dropped calls.

If this is the way they want to do business, I think the public has a right to know. I would advise everyone to stay away from this company and stick with Sprint or another company that does not instruct their employees to use this aggressive way of going after their own customers. There is a certain level of service that is completely unacceptable by the vast majority in society's standards, and to go below that level is to commit contract breach.

Here is what someone else had to say about this phone:

well guys i wouldnt be too excited, word is tha moto recalled the update again! someone commenting on tmo forums said they started updating and it stopped and said it was recalled. honestly motorola like what the f are you guys doing?????? buying a moto cliq was the worst decision i have ever made in buying a phone , this is fn ridiculous. motorola your a bunch of d bags good work never ever ever will i buy a moto product ever again your company sucks!!!!!!! i have had to deal with this pos phone having problems the whole entire time i have had it, its pathetic. moto should refund my fn money for this pos phone . i dont get how this company can do so many things wrong. why even bother ever puttin this phone out, you guys cant even fix the little problems it has. im completely fed up!!!!!!!!

One month of my phone records - 58 dropped calls


Date  Time  Minutes Problem
2/24/2010 10:01 AM 1 -
2/24/2010 10:02 AM 11 Dropped Call
2/24/2010 10:58 AM 4 -
2/24/2010 11:31 AM 12 -
2/24/2010 11:45 AM 10 -
2/24/2010 3:10 PM 8 Dropped Call
2/24/2010 3:17 PM 3 -
2/24/2010 4:44 PM 18 -
2/24/2010 7:26 PM 6 -
2/24/2010 7:56 PM 24 Dropped Call
2/24/2010 8:20 PM 32 -
2/25/2010 9:57 AM 1 -
2/25/2010 11:38 AM 1 -
2/25/2010 11:39 AM 1 -
2/25/2010 4:22 PM 4 -
2/26/2010 1:45 PM 10 -
2/26/2010 1:56 PM 23 -
2/26/2010 2:20 PM 4 -
2/26/2010 6:28 PM 9 -
2/28/2010 1:02 PM 1 -
2/28/2010 6:34 PM 1 Dropped Call
2/28/2010 6:35 PM 1 Dropped Call
2/28/2010 6:36 PM 2 -
3/1/2010 11:54 AM 2 Dropped Call
3/1/2010 11:55 AM 4 -
3/1/2010 3:33 PM 1 -
3/1/2010 3:53 PM 5 -
3/1/2010 4:15 PM 1 -
3/1/2010 4:39 PM 14 -
3/2/2010 9:46 AM 2 -
3/2/2010 12:56 PM 6 -
3/2/2010 1:42 PM 9 -
3/2/2010 3:08 PM 14 -
3/2/2010 9:56 PM 7 -
3/2/2010 10:08 PM 55 -
3/3/2010 10:55 AM 25 -
3/3/2010 11:27 AM 1 -
3/3/2010 12:58 PM 5 -
3/3/2010 2:07 PM 3 Dropped Call
3/3/2010 2:09 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/3/2010 2:10 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/3/2010 2:18 PM 13 -
3/3/2010 2:31 PM 13 -
3/3/2010 2:44 PM 2 Dropped Call
3/3/2010 2:45 PM 9 -
3/3/2010 2:56 PM 9 -
3/3/2010 3:05 PM 15 -
3/3/2010 3:37 PM 10 -
3/3/2010 3:48 PM 14 -
3/4/2010 10:45 AM 2 -
3/4/2010 12:23 PM 1 -
3/4/2010 3:08 PM 17 -
3/5/2010 12:03 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/5/2010 12:03 PM 13 Dropped Call
3/5/2010 12:18 PM 1 -
3/5/2010 3:27 PM 1 -
3/5/2010 3:59 PM 23 -
3/6/2010 11:46 AM 4 Dropped Call
3/6/2010 11:50 AM 2 -
3/6/2010 11:59 AM 7 -
3/6/2010 10:50 PM 5 -
3/7/2010 9:02 AM 1 -
3/8/2010 9:46 AM 17 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 10:19 AM 1 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 10:20 AM 14 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 10:41 AM 17 -
3/8/2010 11:42 AM 1 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 11:43 AM 9 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 11:52 AM 1 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 11:52 AM 6 -
3/8/2010 11:58 AM 1 -
3/8/2010 2:51 PM 20 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 3:34 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 3:40 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 3:41 PM 6 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 4:09 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/8/2010 4:11 PM 4 suspect the above
3/8/2010 5:04 PM 3 was all ghost dialing
3/8/2010 6:10 PM 7 -
3/8/2010 6:32 PM 14 -
3/9/2010 8:06 AM 1 -
3/9/2010 10:25 AM 4 -
3/9/2010 10:29 AM 19 -
3/9/2010 1:14 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/9/2010 1:21 PM 6 Dropped Call
3/9/2010 1:27 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/9/2010 1:27 PM 5
3/9/2010 2:16 PM 5 -
3/9/2010 3:11 PM 16 -
3/9/2010 3:27 PM 8 -
3/9/2010 5:16 PM 2 -
3/10/2010 11:02 AM 1 Dropped Call
3/10/2010 11:04 AM 1 Dropped Call
3/10/2010 11:07 AM 1 Dropped Call
3/10/2010 11:33 AM 3 -
3/10/2010 1:15 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/10/2010 1:26 PM 16 Dropped Call
3/10/2010 1:42 PM 20 -
3/10/2010 6:57 PM 1 -
3/10/2010 6:57 PM 1 -
3/10/2010 6:58 PM 38 -
3/11/2010 9:38 AM 12 -
3/11/2010 11:14 AM 3 -
3/11/2010 11:17 AM 1 -
3/11/2010 11:17 AM 13 -
3/11/2010 12:03 PM 2 -
3/11/2010 12:34 PM 1 -
3/11/2010 1:14 PM 10 -
3/11/2010 1:25 PM 1 -
3/11/2010 1:39 PM 4 -
3/11/2010 1:55 PM 2 -
3/11/2010 2:55 PM 1 -
3/11/2010 3:43 PM 2 -
3/11/2010 4:47 PM 8 -
3/12/2010 10:25 AM 2 Dropped Call
3/12/2010 10:27 AM 9 -
3/12/2010 10:36 AM 2 -
3/12/2010 11:14 AM 16 -
3/12/2010 1:02 PM 1 -
3/12/2010 1:03 PM 3 -
3/12/2010 2:04 PM 22 -
3/12/2010 2:25 PM 1 -
3/12/2010 2:32 PM 7 -
3/12/2010 3:07 PM 14 -
3/12/2010 3:21 PM 38 Dropped Call
3/12/2010 3:59 PM 9 -
3/12/2010 5:14 PM 17 Dropped Call
3/12/2010 5:31 PM 20 -
3/12/2010 7:02 PM 10 Dropped Call
3/12/2010 7:14 PM 1 -
3/13/2010 10:56 AM 9 -
3/13/2010 11:11 AM 65 -
3/14/2010 9:42 AM 1 -
3/14/2010 8:07 PM 11 Dropped Call
3/14/2010 8:18 PM 1 Dropped Call related
3/14/2010 8:18 PM 1 Dropped Call related
3/14/2010 8:18 PM 1 Dropped Call related
3/14/2010 8:18 PM 1 Dropped Call related
3/14/2010 8:19 PM 1 Dropped Call related
3/14/2010 8:19 PM 1 Dropped Call related
3/14/2010 8:26 PM 31 -
3/14/2010 8:38 PM 1 -
3/15/2010 12:44 PM 14 -
3/15/2010 2:04 PM 6 -
3/15/2010 2:46 PM 4 -
3/15/2010 2:54 PM 13 -
3/15/2010 9:28 PM 10 -
3/16/2010 8:20 AM 6 -
3/16/2010 10:05 AM 3 Dropped Call
3/16/2010 10:08 AM 1 Dropped Call
3/16/2010 10:08 AM 22 -
3/16/2010 10:31 AM 2 -
3/16/2010 11:36 AM 14 -
3/16/2010 1:57 PM 1 -
3/16/2010 1:59 PM 12 Dropped Call
3/16/2010 4:02 PM 7 -
3/16/2010 4:21 PM 1 -
3/16/2010 5:33 PM 12 -
3/16/2010 5:46 PM 14 -
3/16/2010 8:27 PM 6 -
3/17/2010 3:10 PM 1 -
3/17/2010 3:47 PM 7 Dropped Call
3/17/2010 3:53 PM 46 -
3/17/2010 5:06 PM 1 -
3/17/2010 5:28 PM 13 -
3/17/2010 5:40 PM 54 -
3/18/2010 11:30 AM 2 -
3/18/2010 11:59 AM 2 -
3/18/2010 12:01 PM 1 -
3/18/2010 2:19 PM 6 Dropped Call
3/18/2010 2:25 PM 14 -
3/18/2010 2:57 PM 1 -
3/18/2010 3:13 PM 9 -
3/18/2010 3:23 PM 1 -
3/18/2010 3:37 PM 16 -
3/18/2010 4:02 PM 17 -
3/18/2010 4:19 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/18/2010 4:21 PM 26 -
3/18/2010 4:52 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/18/2010 4:53 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/18/2010 4:53 PM 20 -
3/18/2010 5:23 PM 36 -
3/18/2010 6:30 PM 1 -
3/19/2010 8:32 AM 2 -
3/19/2010 8:35 AM 1 Dropped Call
3/19/2010 8:35 AM 27
3/19/2010 11:31 AM 1 Dropped Call
3/19/2010 11:39 AM 11 -
3/19/2010 11:49 AM 38 -
3/19/2010 12:57 PM 2 -
3/19/2010 2:25 PM 4 -
3/19/2010 3:19 PM 20 -
3/19/2010 3:42 PM 3 -
3/19/2010 4:20 PM 1 -
3/19/2010 4:21 PM 1 -
3/20/2010 1:03 PM 2 -
3/20/2010 3:01 PM 1 -
3/20/2010 3:27 PM 2 -
3/21/2010 1:37 PM 1 -
3/21/2010 4:00 PM 82
3/21/2010 7:01 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/21/2010 7:02 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/21/2010 7:03 PM 15 Dropped Call
3/21/2010 7:37 PM 8 Dropped Call
3/21/2010 7:45 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/21/2010 7:45 PM 3 -
3/21/2010 9:47 PM 18 -
3/22/2010 10:26 AM 7 -
3/22/2010 11:00 AM 17 -
3/22/2010 11:17 AM 16 -
3/22/2010 11:34 AM 1 -
3/22/2010 11:57 AM 20 -
3/22/2010 1:54 PM 13 -
3/22/2010 3:21 PM 28 -
3/22/2010 3:49 PM 1 -
3/22/2010 3:50 PM 13 -
3/22/2010 4:04 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/22/2010 4:04 PM 1 -
3/22/2010 5:47 PM 16 -
3/22/2010 8:36 PM 13 -
3/23/2010 8:57 AM 3 -
3/23/2010 9:55 AM 6 Dropped Call
3/23/2010 10:01 AM 4 Dropped Call
3/23/2010 10:05 AM 35 Dropped Call
3/23/2010 10:39 AM 1 -
3/23/2010 11:15 AM 5 -
3/23/2010 12:06 PM 1 -
3/23/2010 2:08 PM 10 -
3/23/2010 2:21 PM 2 -
3/23/2010 2:23 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/23/2010 2:24 PM 29 -
3/23/2010 3:22 PM 31 -
3/23/2010 4:09 PM 1 -
3/23/2010 4:20 PM 4 -
3/23/2010 4:23 PM 13 -
3/23/2010 4:36 PM 10 -
3/23/2010 5:49 PM 1 -
3/23/2010 7:47 PM 6 -
3/23/2010 8:38 PM 1 Dropped Call
3/23/2010 8:39 PM 3 -

A similar T-Mobile complaint
More complaints

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rex Murphy Ridicules UN Over Israel

If you are not Canadian or otherwise unfamiliar with Canadian print or broadcast journalism then you are probably unfamiliar with Rex Murphy.

He has been a fixture on CBC Television's The National and CBC Radio's Cross Country Check Up for many years and is also a newspaper columnist for The National Post.

In his most recent column, Murphy takes on the hypocrisy of the United Nations when it comes to Israel:

I don't suppose the world needs to remember Rwanda to note how sluggish in the face of imminent horror the United Nations is and can be. If that is not a sufficient cue, we could bring in other examples of areas of great threat or immiseration or both: Darfur, Tibet, Chechnya, North Korea, Zimbabwe, the Congo or Iran. On these the UN has the patience of a stone but only some of its energy.

But torpid as is its nature, and comatose as are its eternal deliberations, on one subject, and toward one state, the United Nations acquires a strange and uniquely transformative power. Bring Israel under its gaze and the diplomatic sloths at UN headquarters morph into the swiftest of gazelles. From lotus-eaters to adrenalin junkies in the twinkling of an eye. Quite amazing, really.

And quite brilliantly devastating.

For more Murphy, here he is commenting last year on Climategate.

Strasburg Strikes Out 14 in MLB Debut

So much for that rough outing I predicted for Stephen Strasburg.

Strasburg made an extraordinary splash in his MLB debut tonight. The 21-year-old righthander struck out 14 batters over seven innings pitched giving the Washington Nationals a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The only blemish against Strasburg was when he gave up a two run homerun to Pirates rightfielder Delwyn Young in the top of the fourth which gave the Bucs a 2-1 lead. But he didn't let that get him down. Strasburg then retired the final ten hitters he faced striking out eight of them. In fact, Strasburg struck out the final seven batters who came to the plate against him.

Perhaps even more remarkable than Strasburg's 14 strikeouts was that he did not walk a single batter. He knew what he wanted to do with the ball whether he threw a fastball, curveball, change up or slider. His curveball might be his best pitch. I'm not sure his curve is as good as Bert Blyleven or Doc Gooden's but it's good enough.

Strasburg also worked very fast. The game was completed in only two hours and nineteen minutes.

Washington got four of their five runs via the homerun. Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the first while Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham hit back to back homeruns in the bottom of the sixth to give the Nats the lead for good.

The other compelling story line this game was Nats closer Matt Capps. He came on in the ninth to nail down his NL leading 19th save. This had to be his most satisfying save of the year as it came against a club that unceremoniously declined to offer him a contract for the 2010 season. Capps was absolutely pumped especially after he crossed the first base bag to record the final out of the game.

Given Strasburg's magnificent debut the Nationals can expect more sell out crowds this season even if they don't climb out of the cellar in the NL East. In fact, this will also benefit other major league clubs when the Nats come visiting. Strasburg's next start is expected to come this Sunday at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The Tribe has the lowest average attendance in MLB.
An appearance by Strasburg could return baseball in Cleveland to the glory days of the mid to late 1990s when Jacobs Field (as it was then known) was sold out night after night - even if only for one night.

Even if the Washington Nationals finish in last place this is going to be one fun summer for Nats fans.

Prediction: Pirates Will Spoil Strasburg's Debut

It's not often that a Tuesday night game between the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates is the talk of baseball.

But tonight marks the MLB debut of Stephen Strasburg almost a year to the day he was the number one pick in the 2009 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals.

Strasburg has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the minor leagues. Perhaps too meteoric. The Nats are in last place in the NL East (albeit only six games back of the Atlanta Braves) and need people to fill seats in Nationals Park.

I don't deny that Strasburg has tremendous talent and could very well become a good major league pitcher. But to treat him like he's the second coming of Sandy Koufax is a bit much.

So here's my prediction. Strasburg will pitch four and two thirds innings, give up seven runs on ten hits. Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit will hit two homeruns off of Strasburg. He'll strike out five batters and walk two. Final score: Pirates 10 Nationals 7.

The Baltimore Sun is a tad more optimistic.

We'll see in about an hour or so.

UPDATE: Well, Doumit isn't in the starting lineup for the Bucs. But I do think Andrew McCutchen and ex-Nat Lastings Milledge will go deep off Strasburg. Again, we'll see.

Obama: "Petty, Petulant & Tinny"

"But I have never seen Obama look and sound more petty, petulant and tinny."

Are these the words of Rush Limbaugh?


Are these the words of Glenn Beck?


Are these the words of Charles Krauthammer?


These are the words of David Zurawik, the left-wing television critic for The Baltimore Sun. Today, Zurawik writes a scathing assessment of President Obama's interview with Matt Lauer on The Today Show:

Obama's big problem isn't that he can't act decisively, can't emote on cue for the cameras, trusts experts too much or that he defers excessively to CEOs. His problem -- and it is starting to look like a genuine fatal flaw -- is that he can't take criticism, particularly from the press, which he seems to have an unnatural and Nixon-like hostility toward. And this interview with Lauer showed that all too clearly.

Now whether this fatal flaw will be fatal to Obama's presidency remains to be seen.

But you can judge the interview for yourself.

Why Helen Thomas Had To Go

Yesterday, Charles Krauthammer made the case that Helen Thomas ought not to have been compelled into sudden retirement.

But I think the White House Press Corps was left with no choice for two reasons.

First, she brought disrepute to their organization. Her continued presence would have been a distraction. It also might have left the public with the impression they were in solidarity with her point of view.

Second, if racism is an unacceptable form of public discourse then so is anti-Semitism. While anti-Semitism is fashionable in Europe and the Muslim world we are neither Europe nor the Muslim world. I would further argue that anti-Semitism is anti-American.

With that perhaps Thomas can find work with Al Jazeera.