Saturday, July 31, 2010

Yankees Acquire Berkman From Houston et al

In the space of 36 hours, the Houston Astros unloaded two of their players who spent their entire big league careers with the organization.

After dealing pitcher Roy Oswalt to the Phillies, the Astros then traded Lance Berkman to the Yankees for relief pitcher Mark Melancon and a minor leaguer. Berkman and Oswalt had played with the Astros since 1999 and 2001, respectively. Their departures fundamentally alters the character of the Astros who are in a rebuilding mode.

As for the Yankees, they also made two separate deals with the Cleveland Indians acquiring outfielder Austin Kearns and relief pitcher Kerry Wood. Berkman will serve as the Yankees' DH while Kearns will be the club's fourth outfielder and Wood will be Mariano Rivera's set up man.

The Tribe has been busy unloading players. Before sending Kearns and Wood to New York they traded infielder Jhonny Peralta to Detroit. Well, add pitcher Jake Westbrook to that list. Westbrook is now a Cardinal and becomes their number four starter. The Indians obtained a minor leaguer while the Cards sent outfielder Ryan Ludwick to the San Diego Padres. Ludwick along with newly acquired Miguel Tejada give Adrian Gonzalez a lot more protection.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been even busier than the Tribe in the trade market. Yesterday, the D'Backs traded pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Daniel Hudson and a minor leaguer. Jackson, of course, threw a no-hitter for the D'Backs last month. However, rumor has it that Jackson could be on his way to Washington in exchange for slugger Adam Dunn. So Jackson may never throw a pitch for the Chisox.

Today, the D'Backs traded relief pitcher Chad Qualls to the Tampa Bay Rays for a minor leaguer. They also traded catcher Chris Snyder and a minor leaguer to the Pittsburgh Pirates for infielder Bobby Crosby, outfielder Ryan Church and relief pitcher D.J. Carrasco. Personally, I think the D'Backs pulled one over on the Bucs. The Bucs gave up way too much to get a catcher with a lifetime batting average of .233. I certainly don't think Snyder is an improvement over Ryan Doumit.

Are the Pirates engaging in yet another fire sale? The Bucs also dealt their closer Octavio Dotel to the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever James McDonald. They then traded reliever Javier Lopez to the San Francisco Giants for outfielder John Bowker and pitcher Joe Martinez.

In addition to obtaining Lopez, the Giants also acquired reliever Ramon Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for a minor league pitcher. As for the Bosox, the only other trade they made was to acquire catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for two minor leaguers and a player to be named later.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs traded pitcher Ted Lilly and infielder Ryan Theriot to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Blake DeWitt and two minor leaguers.

The Kansas City Royals traded outfielder Rick Ankiel and reliever Kyle Farnsworth to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Gregor Blanco, pitcher Jesse Chavez and a minor leaguer.

The Texas Rangers acquired infielder Cristian Guzman from the Washington Nationals which compliments their acquisition of Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins.

The Marlins traded starting pitcher Rick Vanden Hurk to the Baltimore Orioles for relief pitcher Will Ohman.

Big league clubs can still make trades but now that the trade deadliine has come and gone other teams can block deals by putting in a waiver claim on a player.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Orioles Hire Showalter as New Skipper

Well, the Juan Samuel era is just about over in Baltimore.

The Orioles have hired Buck Showalter to be their new manager effective Tuesday. Showalter is under contract with the O's through 2013.

Since Samuel was named interim manager after Dave Trembley was dismissed on June 4th, the Orioles have gone 17-31 after going 15-39 under Trembley. I would like to have seen Samuel get more of a chance but thems the breaks.

Showalter has previously managed the New York Yankees (1992-1995), the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000) and the Texas Rangers (2003-2006). He guided the Yankees to the AL Wild Card in 1995 and the D'Backs to the NL West championship in 1999. However, Showalter enjoyed only one winning season with the Rangers.

The year after Showalter left the Yankees and D'Backs both clubs won World Series. I predicted the Rangers would do the same in 2007 when Showalter was replaced with Ron Washington. In fact, I titled my 2007 MLB predictions "The Buck Showalter Effect." Except the Rangers didn't win the Fall Classic in 2007. With the Rangers in first place in 2010 perhaps the Showalter effect has lag time under certain circumstances.

At 32-70 and 31 and a half games out of first place in the AL East, the Orioles currently own the worst record in MLB. The O's haven't had a winning season since 1997. Showalter is well aware of these facts. The question remains what he will do to change those facts.

N.B. When I was in Thunder Bay last week watching the World Juniors my father and I bumped into a big Orioles fan win or lose. How big? He named his sons Camden and Cal. Now that's devotion to a lost cause.

Roy Oswalt Traded to Phillies & Other Deals

The trade deadline doesn't expire until 4 p.m. on Saturday but already there have been a number of trades.

The Houston Astros trade pitcher Roy Oswalt to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher J.A. Happ and two minor leaguers

This is the biggest deal thus far. Oswalt has pitched his entire big league career with the Astros which began in 2001 winning 143 games. Although Oswalt leads the NL in losses with 12 it must be remembered he was pitching for a club that didn't score a lot of runs for him. His ERA is a respectable 3.42.

So now the Phillies have two Roys to anchor the staff. Phillies fans are already calling him "Roy Story 2." And who could blame them? The Phillies have won eight in a row and have pulled to within two and a half games of the Atlanta Braves for top spot in the NL East.

As for Happ, after winning 12 games in his rookie season last year for the NL champions, he has been hurt most of this season with a forearm injury. Happ may be of help to the hapless Astros.
(Yes, I had to write that.)

The Baltimore Orioles trade infielder Miguel Tejada to the San Diego Padres for a minor leaguer

Tejada, who returned to the Orioles this off season, goes from a last place team to a first place team. While he doesn't possess the power he once had he can still provide some protection for Adrian Gonzalez.

The question is will he play at short or at third?

The Washington Nationals trade relief pitcher Matt Capps to the Minnesota Twins for two minor leaguers

Capps had a sensational half season plus in D.C. saving 26 games in 30 chances. Good enough to rank 4th in the NL.

It is a curious trade considering that Jon Rauch has saved 21 games for the Twins this season filling the breach left when Joe Nathan had to undergo Tommy John surgery in spring training.

While Rauch has not given up a run in his last three outings he has given up thirteen runs in eight and one third innings pitched this month. SoRauch will revert to his old role as an eighth inning set up man.

The Twins are currently a game and a half behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.

The Florida Marlins trade infielder Jorge Cantu to the Texas Rangers for a minor leaguer

After two and a half seasons in Miami, Cantu provides an extra right handed bat for an already potent Rangers offense. With Ian Kinsler hurt, Cantu should see some time at second base.

The Rangers are currently eight and a half games up on the Oakland Athletics in the AL West.

The Kansas City Royals trade outfielder Scott Podsednik to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor leaguers

Podsednik will see time in left field while Manny Ramirez recovers from a right calf strain. The veteran outfielder can still run swiping 30 bases in a little over half a season with the Royals.

Podsednik and Reed Johnson give the Dodgers outfield a lot of depth.

The Cleveland Indians trade infielder Jhonny Peralta to the Detroit Tigers for a minor leaguer

Injuries to both Brandon Inge and Carlos Guillen (not to mention Magglio Ordonez) necessitated a move to get a veteran infielder. Peralta has played his entire big league career in Cleveland which began in 2003.

However, this move might prove a day late and a dollar short. The Tigers have lost 11 out of 14 games since the All-Star break and are now six games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.

I'll keep you posted with my thoughts on any additional trades.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sharing a prayer from the Netroots Nation conference

Right Online, the national convention of bloggers and social media gurus on the right, met last week in Las Vegas at the same time and in the same city as The Daily Kos held its Netroots Nation convention. This prayer from a handout at Netroots Nation provides a revealing glimpse into what those of us attending Right Online missed.


In the name of my Higher Self and the
Higher Self of my Twin Flame
I pray that we reunite.
I call for the consuming of all portents of
our returning negative karma, clouding
our ability to recognize each other, and
creating a sense of separation.
I call to dissolve the human imposed
self-limitations that keep us from the full
expression of our twin flame identity, and
the fulfillment of our original contract
with Spirit in service to mankind.

I call for my Higher Self and the
Higher Self of my Twin Flame.
My Higher Self and the Higher Self
of my Twin Flame.
My Higher Self and the Higher Self
of my Twin Flame.
My Higher Self and the Higher Self
of my Twin Flame.
My Higher Self and the Higher Self
of my Twin Flame.
I pray that We reunite
Uniting Twin Flames

Thoughts on Judge Bolton's Ruling Against Arizona

I can make neither head nor tail of U.S District Court Judge Susan Bolton's ruling which partially struck down the Arizona immigration law earlier today.

Perhaps it is a case of splitting the baby but cracking eggs always makes for a mess.

The federal government argues that all persons arrested by law enforcement in Arizona will need to have their immigration status checked. Clearly, this is not Arizona's intent hence the phrase "reasonable suspicion." But this is insufficient for Judge Bolton who quibbles about the phrase "for any lawful contact" which was amended by the Arizona House to read "for any lawful stop, detention or arrest." Bolton writes:

In S.B. 1070 as originally enacted, the first two sentences of Section 2(B) are clearly independent of one another. Therefore, it does not follow logically that by changing "any lawful contact" to "any lawful stop, detention or arrest" in the first sentence, the Arizona Legislature intended to alter the meaning of the second sentence in any way. If that had been the Legislature's intent, it could easily have modified the second sentence accordingly.

Simply put what Judge Bolton is complaining about is following sentence in the Arizona law:

Any person who is arrested shall have the person's immigration status determined before they are released.

Here's more from Judge Bolton:

A presumption against unlawful presence would not dispose of the requirement that immigration status be checked because a legal permanent resident might have had a valid
Arizona driver's license, but an inquiry would still need to be made to satisfy the requirement that the person's "immigration status" be determined prior to release.

Judge Bolton is using circular logic. A person's immigration status is only in question when a person fails to produce identification. Why would a police officer in Tempe contact ICE if the person has already supplied him with a valid driver's license?

But it is an argument Judge Bolton returns to time and again. Bolton writes, "Requiring Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies to determine the immigration status of every person who is arrested burdens lawfully present aliens because their liberty will be restricted while their status is checked."

Well, my liberty is restricted when I go to work, buy liquor or go through airport security. But I digress.

Not every person arrested in Arizona will have their immigration status checked. And not every person arrested in Arizona is a lawfully present alien. But last I checked the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Guide for New Immigrants states, "Carry proof of your permanent resident status at all times." Alas in the eyes of Judge Bolton carrying proof of your permanent resident status "imposes an unacceptable burden on lawfully-present aliens."

It is also apparent that Judge Bolton bought the federal government's argument that the Arizona immigration law "will impose significant and counterproductive burdens on federal agencies." The federal government argues that ICE's hotline (the Law Enforcement Support Center) is "dedicated in part" to "national security objectives" and cites as examples requests for immigration status determination from the Secret Service, FBI and "employment-related requests at 'national security related locations that could be vulnerable to sabotage, attack or exploitation.'" Judge Bolton writes:

Thus an increase in the number of requests for determinations of immigration status, such as is likely to result from the mandatory requirement that Arizona law enforcement officials and agencies check the immigration status of any person who is arrested, will divert resources from the federal government's other responsibilities and priorities.

Judge Bolton's observation is both wrong and disingenuous. Let me state it one more time. The Glendale Police Department has no intention of calling ICE/LESC on every time they arrest someone. Once again, why would the police call ICE/LESC if they already know who they have in their custody?

As for the diversion of resources, is Judge Bolton arguing that only federal agencies or private entities who have contracts with the federal government can use the ICE/LESC hotline? Are state, county and local law enforcement precluded from utilizing this tool? Hardly. Indeed, 8 U.S. Code Section 1373(c) clearly states:

The Immigration and Naturalization Service shall respond to an inquiry by a Federal, State, or local government agency, seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within the jurisdiction of the agency for any purpose authorized by law, by providing the requested verification or status information.

The federal government has an obligation to respond to inquiries on immigration status - even if it's coming from Arizona. So Judge Bolton's argument that the Arizona law "is likely to impermissably burden federal resources and redirect federal agencies away from the priorities they have established" is specious.

Suffice it to say, Arizona will appeal this ruling to the Ninth Circuit. Regardless of the Ninth's decision, this will be argued before the Supreme Court in the fall. Nearly a year will pass before this matter is legally resolved in any meaningful way. Although it could be politically resolved well before then.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Maury Chaykin,1949-2010. R.I.P.

Character actor Maury Chaykin has died on his 61st birthday. His cause of death is unknown.

The Brooklyn born Chaykin spent most of his career in Canada. He is perhaps best known for his brief but memorable appearance in Dances With Wolves.

Chaykin had the lead role in the 1994 Canadian film Whale Music in which he played a burned out rock star based on Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. I saw this movie on the CBC on a number of occasions. In the early 2000s, Chaykin played Nero Wolfe in the A&E TV series that also featured Timothy Hutton.

Chaykin might not have been a household name much less a Hollywood star but that man literally and figuratively had a larger than life presence.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Matt Garza No-Hits Tigers

In the past year, the Tampa Bay Rays have been on the receiving end of three no-hitters. Two of which were perfect games.

In July 2009, Chicago White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game against the Rays.

Last May, Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics also threw a perfect game against the Rays.

A month ago, former Rays pitcher Edwin Jackson no-hit the Rays as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Well, tonight the Rays were on the right side of a no-hitter as righty Matt Garza no-hit the Detroit Tigers en route to a 5-0 victory.

Garza's no-hitter is the fifth of the 2010 season. Aside from Braden and Jackson, Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez has tossed a no-hitter while Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay threw a perfect game.

The most no-hitters thrown over the course of a single season was seven back in 1991. But with a little over two months left in the 2010 season that mark could be shattered. Or perhaps we won't see another no-hitter for two or three years. So let's enjoy them when they come along.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

D'Backs Deal Dan Haren to Halos for Joe Saunders et al

The Arizona Diamondbacks have traded pitcher Dan Haren to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for pitcher Joe Saunders, two minor league pitchers and a player to be named later (who is also believed to be a another minor league pitcher).

It's no surprise that Haren was traded. However, most expected him in Yankee pinstripes. This marks the second time this month the Bronx Bombers have not been able to acquire a starting pitcher. First, it was Cliff Lee who, of course, ended up with the Texas Rangers. So what's going on with Brian Cashman? Maybe he's holding out for Ted Lilly.

The broadcast crew for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball (which this week consisted of Orel Hershiser, Bobby Valentine and Dan Shulman) couldn't make sense of the trade and thought the Angels would turn around and trade Haren for a bat.

But why? In Haren, the Angels have a number one starting pitcher. The Angels do have three good starting pitchers in Ervin Santana (9-7 3.55 ERA), Jered Weaver (9-6 3.22 ERA) and Joel Pineiro (10-7 4.18 ERA). But I don't think any of them are aces. Although Weaver does currently leads the AL in strikeouts with 147. Interestingly, at the time of the trade Haren's 141 strikeouts tied him for second in the NL with Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins (with San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum leads the NL with 143 Ks).

Now Haren's 7-8 record and 4.60 ERA hasn't been impressive but he has been pitching with the second worst team in the NL. But let's remember that Haren has won at least 14 games each of the past five seasons. That's been good enough to merit three All-Star Game selections.

But with the Angels seven games back of the Rangers in the AL West one could make the case that this move is a day late and a dollar short. In fact, the Angels just lost three out of four to the Rangers this weekend. The Halos are also only half a game ahead of the Oakland Athletics.

Yet it is worth noting that Haren is under contract for both the 2011 and 2012 seasons with a club option in 2013. Haren is nearing the peak of his career so even if it doesn't pay dividends in 2010 it could next year or the year after.

Joe Saunders has struggled in 2010. After winning 17 and 16 games in 2008 and 2009, Saunders is 6-10 with a 4.62 ERA. But let's put it into perspective. His ERA in '09 was 4.60. He has also not struggled like Scott Kazmir whose ERA is nearly at 7.00 (6.92 to be exact) and is currently on the DL.

Saunders is a quality big league starter who could stabilize the Diamondbacks rotation. If any of the minor league pitchers obtained by the D'Backs bears fruit then it could benefit them in the long run.

But as with all trades we shall see.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Could Venezuela Go to War With Colombia?

With Hugo Chavez having broken off diplomatic ties with Colombia I wonder if it won't be long before Venezuela launches a war against its neighbor.

I happen to be in my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Today, the 2010 IBAF World Junior Baseball Championships got underway here. Conspicious by their absence is Venezuela whose team abruptly withdrew from the tournament yesterday.

Venezuela has not explained the reason for its absence. Supposedly there were logistical problems with travel and visas. But this seems strange given that Venezuela has sent teams to play in international competition for years. Venezuela is also baseball crazy. It doesn't make sene that they would miss a tournament they had a good chance of winning. That is, unless, something big is happening at home.

I have a funny feeling Chavez is trying to get every available male back into the country so it marshal its forces against Colombia. Colombia has accused Chavez of harboring FARC terrorists and its Ambassador to the OAS submitted evidence to that body in support of their assertions the same day Chavez broke off relations.

Of course, relations between Colombia and Venezuela have been delicate for several years now. In fact, Venezuela amassed troops on the Colombian border in both March 2008 and November 2009. One could argue this is nothing more than more sabre rattling on the part of Chavez. But that Venezuela would both formally cut diplomatic ties with Colombia and withdraw its team from an international baseball tournament tell me something very different. Unless I am very wrong, I believe war is coming to South America.

UPDATE: While attending this afternoon's game between the United States and Australia, it was announced that Venezuela would be participating in the tournament after all. So perhaps there were logistical problems after all. But this development doesn't alleviate the tension between Venezuela and Colombia.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ralph Houk,1919-2010. R.I.P.

Former major league manager Ralph Houk has died of natural causes. He was 90.

After serving with distinction in WWII earning both a Bronze Star and a Silver Star, Houk began his MLB career with the New York Yankees in 1947 as a catcher. Although Houk remained with the team through 1954 he seldom saw playing time with Yogi Berra enconsed behind the plate.

In 1955, the Yankees hired Houk to be their manager for their Triple AAA affiliate in Denver. After three years in Denver, Houk returned to the Yankees to serve as the team's first base coach under Casey Stengel.

When the Yankees failed to win the AL pennant in 1959 and were upset by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1960 World Series, the Yankees put Houk at the helm of the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees responded by winning back to back World Series in 1961 and 1962. Another AL pennant would follow in 1963 but the Yankees would be swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Fall Classic.

Houk became the Yankees general manager in 1964. The Yankees would win an AL pennant under new manager Yogi Berra but would fall to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in that year's Fall Classic. Houk abruptly fired Berra and replaced him with Cardinals manager Johnny Keane. The Yankees would collapse in 1965 and by May 1966 Houk was back in the dugout as Yankees skipper.

Houk would remain Yankees manager until the 1973 season. He would resign at the end of that season which happend to be the same year George Steinbrenner bought the club. I recall reading Graig Nettles' book in which he described Houk being overwhelmed by Steinbrenner's constant phone calls. It was probably just as well. The Yankees would not regain their former glory until after Houk's departure.

However, it would not be long before Houk was back on his feet. In 1974, Houk was named manager of the Detroit Tigers. Houk was on hand in 1976 when Mark "The Bird" Fidrych dazzled America with his unique pitching style. Unfortunately, Tigers fans had little else to cheer about. Houk would manage the Tigers for five seasons but only enjoyed one winning season in his final year as Tigers skipper in 1978. The Tigers would enjoy greater success with his successor Sparky Anderson.

After a two year hiatus, Houk returned to managing in 1981 when he replaced Don Zimmer at the helm of the Boston Red Sox. Although the Sox posted winning records in three of his four seasons at Fenway they would not reach the post-season. Houk was replaced by John McNamara in 1985 and he would guide the Sox to an AL championship the following year.

Houk's last job in baseball was as a special assistant to Andy MacPhail, who was then the general manager of the Minnesota Twins. When the Twins won the 1987 World Series, Houk would earn one last ring.

Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox, who came up through the Yankees organization as a player, considered Houk a mentor. If not for Houk there's a good chance Cox would not have become the fourth winningest manager in MLB history.

So in the space of ten days three Yankees legends have left us - Bob Sheppard, George Steinbrenner and now Ralph Houk. These things do tend to come in threes.

An Article on Honor Killings in Marie Claire

In November 2009, I wrote about the death of Noor Almaleki.

She was the young Muslim woman in Phoenix who was run over by her father in a parking lot and would later succumb to her injuries. It was an honor killing.

At the time of her death I wrote, "The New York Times would not dare to use the phrase 'honor killing'." If you think I am exaggerating then please read Phyllis Chesler's piece at Pajamas Media concerning The New York Times and its coverage of honor killings or lack thereof.

The New York Times might not cover honor killings but Marie Claire will.

That's right. Marie Claire. As in the fashion magazine. In the latest issue of Marie Claire (featuring actress Dakota Fanning on the cover), Abigail Pesta has written an article about Almaleki titled, "An American Honor Killing." It is worth noting that Pesta serves as the editor-at-large for Marie Claire.

From here on out I will take the words printed in Marie Claire far more seriously than I do the words printed in The New York Times.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why Shirley Sherrod's Resignation Should Stand

You probably know by now that Shirley Sherrod is the Department of Agriculture official who resigned last night as a result of remarks she made while being honored by the NAACP in Georgia last March.

The offending snippet was brought to light by Andrew Breitbart. The video is introduced with this passage:

On March 27, 2010 while speaking at the NAACP Freedom Banquet Ms. Sherrod admits in her federally appointed position, overseeing a billion dollars she discriminates against people due to their race.
In the video, Sherrod spoke about her feelings concerning assistance to a white farmer. "I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn't give him the full force of what I could do," said Sherrod.

But things aren't what they seem. First, the incident Sherrod describes took place before she joined the Department of Agriculture. Second, she did give the farmer the full force of what she could do after the lawyer to whom she referred this white farmer was less than diligent in his efforts. Third, in an interview with CNN, Roger Spooner (the family farmer in question) confirms her efforts to help them and describes Sherrod as "a friend."

So has Shirley Sherrod been wronged by Andrew Breitbart?

Yes. Whatever racial bias Sherrod might have had towards Spooner were overcome and that was the point of her story. Breitbart wronged her by taking this anecdote out of context.

Nonetheless Sherrod's resignation should still stand.

The NAACP, to its credit, has released the video of Sherrod's speech in its entirety. However, it proves to be her undoing. At the 24 minute mark, Sherrod says something particularly egregious:

I haven't seen such a mean spirited people as I've seen lately over this issue of health care. Some of the racism we thought was buried. Didn't it surface? Now we endured eight years of the Bushes and we didn't do the stuff those Republicans are doing because you have a black President.

Well, I seem to recall former NAACP President Julian Bond likened President Bush's judicial nominees to the Taliban while comparing the Republican Party to the Nazis. But let's put that aside for now.

Sherrod is obviously referring to Congressmen John Lewis and Andre Carson's unsubstantiated allegations of racism by Tea Party activists in Washington D.C. the weekend of the final health care vote. She is stating something as fact which has not been verified as such. Sherrod ought not use her position as a federal public servant to casually accuse people of racism simply because their point of view is different from her own. If she had not already resigned such a statement would warrant her resignation.

Sherrod might have resigned for the wrong reason but we cannot have federal public servants falsely accusing others of acts of racism. Thus the Department of Agriculture should not rehire her.

Right Online conference is this weekend in Vegas - sign up now!

The RightOnline Conference is fast approaching. With just a few days remaining before we kick off at 8:30am this Friday, I want to provide you with some additional materials to help you get ready for RightOnline.

We have put together an online packet containing information about the Venetian Hotel, activities in Las Vegas, an agenda for RightOnline and a breakdown of the different activism and training sessions. To download this packet click here.

We’re excited to announce that Nevada Senate Candidate Sharron Angle has just confirmed that she will join us at RightOnline along with Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Congressman Mike Pence, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell,'s Erick Erickson, The Wall Street Journal's John Fund, radio hosts Herman Cain, Roger Hedgecock, Guy Benson and Curtis Sliwa,'s Ed Morrissey, Fox News contributor Jim Pinkerton, Nevada Congressional Candidate Dr. Joe Heck, Fox News contributor Steven Kruiser and many more.

Early registration will be open from 6:30pm to 8:30pm on Thursday July 22nd for those of you arriving early. Registration will open again at 7:00am on Friday July 23rd. Make sure to get there early to avoid the lines. The first breakout session will begin at 8:30am on Friday.

Please do not worry if you are having trouble printing your tickets. Having your tickets in hand will make registration go faster, however we will have all of your information on file.

I look forward to seeing you at RightOnline!


Erik Telford
Executive Director, RightOnline

Monday, July 19, 2010

Andy Hummel,195?-2010. R.I.P.

Andy Hummel, the original bass player for the Memphis rock group Big Star, has died after a two year battle with cancer. He was 59.

It was only four months ago that his bandmate Alex Chilton passed away suddenly of a heart attack. My tribute to Chilton can be found here.

Although Chilton and Chris Bell were the primary songwriters in Big Star, Hummel contributed a handful of his own songs ("India Song") as well as those co-written with Chilton ("Back of a Car").

However, Hummel would leave Big Star shortly before the release of the group's second album Radio City in 1974 to finish college. After graduation, Hummel moved to Texas and got a job with Lockheed Martin in Texas.

Although Big Star would reunite in 1993, Hummel was not part of the reunion. In fact, Hummel would not strap on his bass until earlier this year at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. However, it was a bittersweet reunion as Chilton would pass away on the opening day of the festival. Hummel said at the time, "We're just trying to pull together what all that's going to look like now, without Alex."

Now with both Chilton and Hummel having passed on within months of each other and Chris Bell long since deceased (he was killed in a car accident in 1978) this leaves drummer Jody Stephens as the only original surviving member of the band.

Here's an interview that was conducted with Hummel in July 2001.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Krauthammer: Don't Underestimate Obama

I agree with the main point of Charles Krauthammer's latest column - don't underestimate President Obama:

Obama is down, but it's very early in the play. Like Reagan, he came here to do things. And he's done much in his first 500 days. What he has left to do, he knows, must await his next 500 days - those that come after reelection.

Krauthammer argues that the real battle is 2012 not 2010. Should Republicans win both Houses it will give Obama a fresh target to set his sights upon.

The one point I would add is that if Obama faces no challenger in the Democratic primary it will be nearly impossible to unseat him. While there are many on the Left who are disappointed with Obama it has not reached the point of abandonment of all hope. Reagan didn't always please conservatives but no GOP challenger stepped forward in 1984. Thus the Gipper would win 49 out of 50 states.

Conservatives should heed Mr. Krauthammer's words.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The ESPYS Won't Interfere with Sunday Night Baseball

It has not escaped my notice that ESPN has chosen to broadcast The ESPY Awards live this year.

In past years, the ESPYs would be broadcast on Sunday night starting at 9 p.m. EST.
This forced ESPN Sunday Night Baseball to commence at 6 p.m. rather than at 8 p.m. EST.

It was something I found quite annoying considering the ESPYs were not a live broadcast.

Now I would have been happy to have the ESPYs on ESPN while Sunday Night Baseball could be moved to ESPN2. But broadcasting it live is even better.

All is well with the world. Well, at least this very small part of it.

Thoughts on Bristol Palin & Levi Johnston

For the sake of their son Tripp, I hope it will all works out for the best between Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston.

Yet I have a bad feeling Bristol is going to have her heart broken again.

No doubt her mother feels the same way.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

NL Wins 1st All-Star Game Since '96

Congratulations to the National League for winning an All-Star Game for the first time since Clinton's first term in office.

Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann's bases loaded double in the top of the 7th accounted for the Senior circuit's three runs. NL wins 3-1.

This means that for the first time the National League Champion will have home field advantage in the World Series.

George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010. R.I.P.

The New York Daily News is reporting that George Steinbrenner, who was the principal owner of the New York Yankees for more than 30 years, died this morning of a massive heart attack. He was 80.

Steinbrenner's death comes only 48 hours after the death of Yankees longtime PA announcer Bob Sheppard. It also comes the morning of the All-Star Game. Sheppard will be honored at the All-Star Game when Derek Jeter comes to bat. I imagine there will probably be a moment of silence for Steinbrenner before the game. I also imagine that Yankee Stadium will be quite emotional this Friday when both Sheppard and Steinbrenner are sure to be honored.

Steinbrenner was a shipbuilder from Cleveland who bought the Yankees in 1973. At the time of the purchase, he said he would not be involved in the day to day operations of the club.

During his tenure, Steinbrenner made twenty different managerial changes often hiring and firing managers on multiple occasions - Billy Martin (five times), Bob Lemon (twice), Gene Michael (twice), Lou Piniella (twice).

However, this would stabilize in the 1990s with Buck Showalter who managed the Yankees for four seasons before leaving to manage the Arizona Diamondbacks. Showalter was succeeded by Joe Torre in 1996 and Torre did not leave the Yankees until after Steinbrenner handed over the reigns to his sons, Hank and Hal.

Between 1976 and 1981, the Yankees appeared in four World Series and won back to back Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977-1978. Steinbrenner spent money on free agents like Reggie Jackson. But between 1982 and 1994, the Yankees made no post-season appearances. After winning the AL Wild Card in 1995 in Showalter's last season as manager, the Yankees would win four World Series in five years under Torre. Given Steinbrenner's decline in health in recent years I'm sure winning the World Series last year was quite special.

Steinbrenner was known for his volatile personality arbitrarily hiring and firing personnel at a moment's notice. I remember reading about Graig Nettles' time with the Yankees in his book Balls and believe me Steinbrenner did not come off well.

Yet Steinbrenner was incredibily generous. In recent years, Steinbrenner would donate $100,000 to the Jimmy Fund- the Boston Red Sox charity for children with cancer. He also did not mind poking fun at his own image as he did in Miller Lite commercials with Billy Martin and VISA card commercials with Derek Jeter as well as a memorable appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1990.

Suffice it to say there will be never be another of his kind.

Why I Don't Watch the Home Run Derby

While I am pleased that David Ortiz won last night's Home Run Derby I did not watch it.

The reason for this is that I can't stand Chris Berman's announcing style.


My Dad says Berman reminds him of a duck.

Apparently, I am not the only one who suffers.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Democratic Governors Unhappy with Arizona Lawsuit

At a gathering of the National Governors Association this past weekend here in Boston, Democratic Governors made their displeasure known with regard to the lawsuit filed by the Obama Administration against the State of Arizona and Governor Jan Brewer over that state's immigration law.

One Democratic Governor, Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, called the lawsuit "a toxic subject."

I wonder if a matter such as this will prompt someone amongst their ranks to challenge President Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2012 or prompt them to get behind someone else who will. Someone such as Hillary Clinton.

Isn't it interesting that it was Hillary who let it slip that the Obama Administration would be suing Arizona?

Thoughts on the Terrorist Attack in Uganda

Yesterday, two bombings took place in Kampala, Uganda where people were gathered to watch the World Cup Final between Spain and The Netherlands.

As of this writing, 74 people have lost their lives. One American is amongst the dead.

Al-Shabaab, a Somali based terrorist organization aligned with al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attacks. It is the first time al-Shabaab has carried out a terrorist attack outside of Somalia.

Islamic terrorism is the world's biggest problem. Although the acts of Islamic terrorist organizations are often directed at the United States and other Western countries they are not confined to them. Islamic terrorism is a means to establish a global caliphate. This means Islamic terrorism is a global problem. Unfortunately, much of the world has other priorities up to and including the Obama Administration.

If the world used the same energy and vigor against Islamic terrorism that it does against Israel it wouldn't be nearly the problem it is now.

As far as African countries go, Uganda is amongst the most democratic which surely makes it threat to the spread of Islam on the continent. It will be interesting to see how the Ugandan government responds to this attack in the coming weeks and months.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

MLB Notes at All-Star Break

Believe it or not we are at the half way point of the 2010 MLB season.

Here's a summary of what has occurred in each division of each league.

AL East

Loathe as I am to say it, the New York Yankees are the best team in MLB. But the Tampa Bay Rays aren't far behind.

The Boston Red Sox are five games out and have been plagued with injuries. Add Adrian Beltre to the list of those infirmed which also includes Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz, Victor Martinez, Jason Varitek and Josh Beckett.

The Toronto Blue Jays are hitting homeruns but are hovering just under .500.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles own the worst record in MLB. However, they did just complete a four game sweep of the Texas Rangers on the road. It is the highlight of their futile season.

AL Central

The Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers have battling it out for top spot in the division.

On June 9th, the Chicago White Sox were nine and a half games behind the Twins. Since then they have won 25 of their last 30 games and are now in first place by a half game over the Tigers and three and a half over the Twins. The Chisox have also won eight in a row.

Although the Kansas City Royals are well under .500 they have played slightly above .500 ball since Ned Yost took over as manager in mid-May.

The Cleveland Indians, meanwhile, bring up the rear of the division.

AL West

Despite being swept at home by the lowly Baltimore Orioles, the Texas Rangers have a four and a half game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Oakland Athletics got off to a good start in April but fizzled quickly and the Seattle Mariners have arguably been the biggest disappointment in MLB. So much for that World Series prediction.

NL East

The Atlanta Braves are making the most of Bobby Cox's last year as manager. They own the best record in the NL. They lead the East by four games over the New York Mets and four and a half games over the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies.

The Florida Marlins continue to underachieve. Even with Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals are a last place team. Since May 15th, the Nats are 19-35.

NL Central

Well, not all of my predictions have been wrong. The Cincinnati Reds have a one game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the division. It was a four game lead but the Reds were swept by the Phillies over the weekend. The Reds are enjoying their first winning season since 2000.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs have underachieved. The Houston Astros are in a rebuilding year while the Pittsburgh Pirates are enconsed in mediocrity having lost six straight games.

NL West

Aside from the Reds, the San Diego Padres are the biggest surprise in MLB. They are leading the NL West but three teams are clipping close at their heels particularly the Colorado Rockies who are 19-10 since June 11th. The Padres hold a two game lead over Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers while the San Francisco Giants are four out.

Anyone who wants to organize a boycott against the Arizona Diamondbacks over the Arizona immigration law need not bother. The D'Backs haven't given anyone any reason to show up at Chase Field. They are 17 and a half games behind the Padres and own the second worst record in the NL. Only the Pirates have fewer wins this season.

Gibbs Says GOP Could Win House

During an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Republicans could wrest control of the House in November's mid-term elections.

Has Gibbs been talking to Paul the Octopus?

Spain Wins World Cup

Congratulations to Spain for winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The Spaniards defeated The Netherlands 1-0 in extra time. It is Spain's first World Cup.

Congratulations also to Paul the Octopus for correctly predicting the outcome of the World Cup Final as well as all of Germany's matches.

And now the rest of the world can be spared the indignity of having to listen to vuvuzelas.

Bob Sheppard,1910-2010, R.I.P.

Bob Sheppard, who served as the public address announcer for the New York Yankees, died today after a long illness. He was 99.

Sheppard's voice graced Yankee Stadium from 1951 to 2007. For good measure he also worked with the New York Giants of the NFL from 1956 to 2006.

Reggie Jackson dubbed Sheppard the "Voice of God."

If you've never heard Sheppard's voice then check out Jim Bouton's website.

In his wisdom, Derek Jeter had Sheppard record the announcement of his name in the event he was unavailable. Thanks to Jeter, Yankee fans will still hear Bob Sheppard's voice.

When Sheppard wasn't behind the mike at baseball or football games he taught speech at St. John's University. Sheppard was also the PA announcer at St. John's sporting events into the 1990s.

Here is Sheppard asking Yankees fans to have a moment of silence in honor of Robert F. Kennedy following his assassination.

There will be a moment of silence for Sheppard when the Yankees return home on July 16th.

UPDATE: When Jeter comes to bat at Tuesday's All-Star Game in Anaheim, fans in attendance and watching on TV and listening on the radio will get to hear Sheppard's introduction in all its splendor.

Holder Considering Second Lawsuit vs. Arizona

In an interview on CBS' Face the Nation this morning, Attorney General Eric Holder stated he was considering another lawsuit against Arizona over S.B. 1070 if the law ends up going into effect.

Of course, the lawsuit filed last week focuses on preemption of federal jurisdiction. A potential second lawsuit would focus on racial profiling.

The fact that Holder would mention this just days after filing his suit tells me he and the Obama Administration are not confident they are going to prevail. Otherwise why show his hand now?

It also tells me that they are going to try to find a test case to challenge the Arizona law. Frankly, I think this is the better approach for the Obama Administration to take. Law enforcement, like all other human institutions, is imperfect. No matter how carefully written one cannot guarantee the Arizona law will always be applied correctly. But an incorrect application of the law does not make the law unconstitutional. So I suspect the Obama Administration's zealotry will once again get the better of them. Instead of biding their time they will strike at the first opportunity even if the test case turns out to be less than solid. But this is what happens when one governs by emotion instead of reason.

The Obama Administration can bring as many lawsuits as they want against Arizona. The more they take this approach the more they demonstrate their indifference towards securing the border. Government's sole obligation is to protect their populace. If government abdicates that responsibility then that government has no legitimacy. In which case, the people of Arizona might have the last laugh.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jose Crow? Seriously?

I have come across an article in The Houston Chronicle by Garnet Coleman, a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives, with regard to the Arizona immigration law.

Coleman likens Arizona's immigration law to the old Jim Crow laws of the South and praises the Obama Administration's decision to challenge the law in court. He states Arizona's immigration law is "ushering us into the Jose Crow era."

Frankly, Coleman is engaging in defamation. The comparison to Jim Crow is simply odious. Coleman cheapens the meaning of racism and cheapens himself in the process.

It is also clear to me that Coleman has not read S.B. 1070. Coleman writes:

By declaring "reasonable suspicion" grounds for detainment, such laws not only overstep their boundaries, but they ensure that people of a certain ethnicity are born suspects.

Coleman has put the cart before the horse. Aside from the fact that S.B. 1070 explicitly forbids racial profiling, reasonable suspicion is not grounds for detainment under this law. First comes detainment. Then comes reasonable suspicion if the individual in question does not have identification on his person or his property. At which point a law enforcement officer would have to call ICE. From that point on it would be left to ICE to determine the person's immigration status.

It's worth noting that the Department of Justice isn't challenging S.B. 1070 on the grounds of racial profiling. Rather it is challenging the law as a matter of jurisdiction. The DOJ argues that Arizona cannot establish its own immigration law.

If Coleman disagrees with Arizona's immigration law so be it. But he should at least have the courtesy to actually read the legislation before raising the spectre of Jim Crow and Jose Crow and all the ugliness associated with it. To quote the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Coleman is entitled to his own opinion but he is not entitled to his own facts.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Strasburg Towers Over Giants

Stephen Strasburg won his first start in nearly a month with an 8-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.

After giving up a lead off homerun to Andre Torres, Strasburg settled down and struck out eight batters over six solid innings. He allowed only two more hits and one walk.

Unlike some of his previous starts, the Nationals offense was alive and well. Adam Dunn hit two homeruns and drove in three runs.

Going into the All-Star Break, Strasburg is 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA. He has struck out 61 batters in 42 and two thirds innings pitched with only 11 walks issued. The Nats plan to give him some rest in the second half but not too much. They do want fans to come through the turnstiles.

Mariners Trade Cliff Lee to Rangers

For the third time in less than a year pitcher Cliff Lee has been traded.

Today, the Seattle Mariners traded the ace lefty to the Texas Rangers along with reliever Mark Lowe for first baseman Justin Smoak and three prospects.

The Mariners acquired Lee in the off season from the Philadelphia Phillies in the blockbuster trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies.

The Phillies acquired Lee in July 2009 from the Cleveland Indians and led them to a NL championship. He would get the Phillies two wins in the World Series against the New York Yankees.

Naturally, the Yankees were looking to obtain Lee's services but the Rangers beat them to the punch. Nolan Ryan is ecstatic.

Despite missing the first month of the season, Lee was sensational with Seattle. Lee went 8-3 with an AL best 2.34 ERA. He struck out 89 batters while walking only six. He also leads the AL in complete games with five.

Unfortunately, the Mariners have not been sensational. Entering tonight, the Mariners were in last place in the AL West with a 34-51 record and 16 games behind the first place Rangers.

The Rangers are five and a half games up on the Los Angels of Anaheim in the AL West and acquiring Lee might clinch it for them. After the All-Star Break, the Rangers and Angels face off six times. The Rangers haven't been in the post-season since 1999.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Heat is On LeBron in Miami

This evening, LeBron James announced he has signed with the Miami Heat during a townhall meeting style interview with Jim Gray in Greenwich, Connecticut.

After seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron is joining forces with Dwyane Wade and ex-Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh in Miami in the hope of putting together a championship dynasty.

Pat Riley is trying to do in Miami what Danny Ainge did in Boston three summers ago when he brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce and form the nucleus of a team that won the NBA championship in 2008. LeBron plays the role of Garnett, Bosh is Allen while Wade is Pierce.

Of course, the Celtics had gone more than two decades between NBA titles when the Big Three were put together. The Heat won the NBA championship in 2006 with Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. The Heat have made the post-season in three of the four years since their championship but haven't made it past the first round. This year they were eliminated by the Celtics which no doubt spurred the idea of having their own Big Three.

LeBron could have had a lot more money playing in New York or Chicago but the only thing left for him to prove is that he can help lead a team to a championship and it appears Miami is the place he will most likely attain that goal. Of course, that's easier said than done. As Glenn Frey said, "The Heat is On." Come to think of it LeBron will have to prove he belongs to the city.

Ringo Turns 70

I did not realize that Ringo Starr turned 70 yesterday.

Okay, I was born after the Beatles broke up but boy a lot of time has passed me by.

The ex-Beatle was honored at Radio City Music Hall last night. Paul McCartney sang "Birthday" to him (and somehow managed not to demean George W. Bush.) I guess it don't come easy.

So a happy belated birthday to Richard Starkey.

With that I'll leave with you a Photograph in an Octopus' Garden.

Thoughts on Obama & Netanyahu

I know we're 48 hours removed from President Obama's meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House but I thought I would offer a quick thought.

Yes, Obama and Netanyahu made nice. Yes, America and Israel are allies. But America and Israel are not friends. At least as long as Obama remains in office.

Sooner or later, Israel will find itself in another row and when push comes to shove Obama will either denounce Israel or only offer tepid support. It won't take a firm stand (i.e. vetoing any UN Security Council resolutions or statements condemning Israel.)

So Obama and Netanyahu are at peace. But make no mistake. It is a very cold peace.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The London Tube Bombings Five Years After

Perhaps I haven't tried hard enough but I cannot find any commentary on the fifth anniversary of the London Tube Bombings which claimed the lives of 52 people.

In fact, there was no official event to commemorate those that died. There was an unofficial ceremony in Hyde Park. There was a note from Prime Minister Cameron paying his respects but he was not in attendance.

Did Cameron not want to be seen as offending Muslims? Is that more important to him than remembering those who died at the hands of their fellow countrymen who are bound by other loyalties?

I remember that on my way to work that morning we had to evacuate our train at Arlington Street because of concerns a similar plot was underway in Boston. I ended up walking to work. I'll never forget that walk.

I'm not sure if the victims of the London Tube Bombings aren't remembered. I simply think most would simply rather forget.

Thoughts on Levi Johnston's Apology to the Palins

Now that Levi Johnston has apologized to the Sarah and Todd Palin for making statements "that were not completely true" will the liberal media follow suit for having believed what they wanted to believe?

Don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thoughts on U.S. v. State of Arizona & Brewer

Well, surprise surprise. The Obama Administration is suing Arizona and Governor Brewer over SB 1070.

As with SB 1070, I have printed out and read the complaint put forward by the federal government.

I am underwhelmed.

The feds argue that Arizona's immigration law violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The complaint reads, "In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters."

Well, the key word here is "preeminent." There's a world difference in stating the federal government has preminent authority than stating the federal government has "sole" or "exclusive" authority. So methinks the Supremacy Clause isn't germane to this argument. It certainly isn't germane to the argument made in the complaint. To wit:

If allowed to go into effect S.B. 1070's mandatory enforcement scheme will conflict with and undermine the federal government's careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives. For example, it will impose significant and counterproductive burdens on the federal agencies charged with enforcing the national immigration scheme, diverting resources and attention from the dangerous aliens who the federal government targets as its top enforcement priority.

That, folks, is a political argument. It is also an administrative and logistical argument. But it is not a constitutional argument. Arizona's policies aren't unconstitutional just because the Obama Administration disagrees with them. Nor are they unconstitutional due to potential inconveniences that may arise for the federal government:

Section 3 - the enforcement of which S.B. 1070 effectively mandates through operation of Section 2's alien inspection and verification regime - demands the arrest and prosecution of all aliens who do not have certain enumerated registration documents. But several classes of aliens who are eligible for humanitarian relief are simply not provided with registration documents while their status is being adjudicated by the federal government notwithstanding the federal government's knowledge that these aliens are present in the country.

So is it Arizona's fault the federal government doesn't provide registration documents to certain classes of aliens? If anything it demonstrates the lack of due diligence on the part of the federal government. Once more the Obama Adminitration presents us with an administrative argument, not a constitutional one.

Now it is not inconceivable to me that an activist judge on a lower court might reverse the law. But I can't see the Supreme Court upholding such a decision. In which case, the Supremes can expect another tongue lashing by President Obama at next year's State of the Union.

Muslims in Space, Part II

Here's a statement from White House spokesman Nick Shapiro regarding NASA Administrator Charles Bolden's statement concerning the agency's policy of making the Muslim world feel good about itself as per the wishes of President Obama:

The President has always said that he wants NASA to engage with the world’s best scientists and engineers as we work together to push the boundaries of exploration. Meeting that mandate requires NASA to partner with countries around the world like Russia and Japan, as well as collaboration with Israel and with many Muslim-majority countries. The space race began as a global competition, but, today, it is a global collaboration.

Isn't it interesting that the White House should make a point of engagement with Israel on the day Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House, this time as an acknowledged guest?

As for partnering with Israel, Russia and Japan if that is what the President wanted to convey to Bolden then why didn't he?

The problem here isn't Bolden. The problem here is the President. Bolden only gaffed in that he told the truth about what the President said to him. The White House has not denied any part of Bolden's account of his conversation with him. Outreach to the Muslim world has been central tenet of President Obama's foreign policy and he has made no secret of it. If Obama considers himself a citizen of the world it isn't a stretch to say that he also considers himself a citizen of the whole universe.

But the idea that it is the job of NASA to conduct outreach to the Muslim world much less make it feel good about itself isn't going to sit well with most Americans. Especially when it is apparent that the Muslim world isn't much interested in President Obama's overtures in the first place.

Muslims in Space

Here is my two cents on NASA Administrator Charles Bolden being told by President Obama his foremost mission was outreach to the Muslim world.

If you don't know by now, in an interview with Al Jazeera last month, Bolden said of Obama, "Perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering."

What's next?

Will President Obama tell the head of the Federal Communications Commission that it is his foremost duty to improve the depiction of Muslims on radio and television? I can see it now. A joint venture between the FCC and NASA to come up with a show to improve the image of Muslims in America and around the world. This show will air on PBS stations following Nova. The show would be called (what else?) Muslims in Space.

Will President Obama tell the Secretary of Energy that his foremost mission is to help Muslim nations feel good about their historic contribution to the petroleum industry?

Will President Obama tell Hillary Clinton that her foremost mission is to help Iran feel good about its historic contribution in the development of nuclear weapons?

Puff Piece on Al Franken in Newsweek

This morning I read what I can only describe as a puff piece by Michael Hirsh in Newsweek on Minnesota DFL Senator Al Franken:

You could almost imagine it as a Saturday Night Live routine. Open with a shot of the U.S. Capitol. A senator is droning on about some horribly boring subject. Cut to Al Franken sitting in the Senate chairman’s seat, gavel in hand. Antics ensue. It could be a funny skit, except that for the past year, Al Franken actually has been spending a lot of time in the Senate chairman’s seat—off the air, avoiding jokes, studying the job of senator and his new colleagues as they take their turns on the floor.

No antics, huh? Try telling that to Joe Lieberman. Or to South Dakota Senator John Thune.

Hirsh goes on to praise Franken's "studiousness." Ah yes, dozing off and doodling are time honored displays of diligence.

Honestly, if a Republican Senator had got into a public row with two of his colleagues and were to doze off and doodle during a Supreme Court confirmation hearing would Hirsh have written such a complimentary piece?

Is it any wonder Newsweek is up for sale?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bob Probert, 1965-2010. R.I.P.

Bob Probert, who played 16 seasons in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks, died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He was 45.

Probert was considered one of the NHL's toughest enforcers who would drop his gloves and raise his fists at a moment's notice. Rodney Dangerfield probably had Probert in mind when he said, "There was a fight and a hockey game broke out." Especially when he went toe to toe with Tie Domi.

He was also plagued with alcohol and drug problems throughout his career and had several run ins with the law.

Last year, Probert appeared on the Canadian reality show Battle of the Blades which paired former NHL players with female figure skaters to perform ice skating routines. Unfortunately, he and his partner Kristina Lenko were sent to the penalty box and eliminated in the first episode.

Probert is survived by his wife and four children.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

God Bless America

I was delighted to hear Ronan Tynan sing "God Bless America" on the radio during the seventh inning stretch at today's Boston Red Sox game in honor of the Fourth of July.

Until I heard him sing it after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 I hadn't realized it had a preamble:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer

Hearing that first verse changed the whole meaning of the song for me. Of course, sometimes it takes someone who grew up outside of this country to truly appreciate the meaning of a work of art and convey it with a powerful resonance. It could be said of both Ronan Tynan and Irving Berlin.

As someone who wasn't born or raised here whenever I listen to Ronan Tynan's version of "God Bless America" my affection for the United States of America grows every bit more.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Conservative Poetry Reading on Monday, July 5th

If you are a conservative or a libertarian and if you should find yourself in the Boston area on the evening of Monday, July 5th I would like to take this moment to invite you to my poetry feature with Stone Soup Poetry in The People's Republic of Cambridge.

Founded in 1971 by Jack Powers, Stone Soup Poetry is one of the longest, continuous weekly poetry readings in the country.

The proceedings take place at the Out of the Blue Gallery and start at 8 p.m. I should hit the stage between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. and I will do a half hour set.

The set won't comprise solely of poetry of a conservative bent. But there will be enough of it to delight conservatives and drive liberals, socialists and communists into a state of frothing.

In fairness, Stone Soup deserves a lot of credit for having invited me in the first place. Poetry readings are universally left-wing. So when someone like me comes along and critiques President Obama, defends our military and has good things to say about America it can make for some interesting reactions including, in one instance, the use of a Coke can as a projectile.

Yet it would not have been possible had I not been extended an invitation by Chad Parenteau who has been at the helm of Stone Soup for several years now. I'm sure there are those who are not pleased that Chad would do such a thing.

Indeed, this very well could represent my only shot at a feature here or anywhere else in the country and quite possibly the world. So let's make the most of this fleeting moment. While I thrive on antagonism borne of ignorance it would be nice for a change to read in front of a more sympathetic, well-informed audience. I promise to make it worth your while.

For further information (and for those curious as to what I look like) you can look here if you dare.

Strasburg Shouldn't Be Named to NL All-Star Team

Stephen Strasburg's sixth big league start this afternoon against the New York Mets was so-so.

Strasburg pitched five innings, gave up two runs on four hits, struck out five and walked three.

He was not involved in the decision as the Nationals rallied in the 9th inning for a 6-5 victory over the Mets.

In his six starts, Strasburg is 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA. He has struck out 53 batters in only 36 and two thirds innings pitched while walking only ten.

A week ago my Dad and I were discussing if Strasburg should be named to the NL All Star Team. My father says he should be included because the All Star Game belongs to the fans and the fans want to see Strasburg pitch. I reminded Dad that pitchers were not directly elected to the All-Star Game by the fans and were selected by the respective league managers. "The only opinion that matters here is Charley Manuel." The Phillies skipper will be managing the NL All-Stars.

At the time of our conversation I was on the fence. I wanted to see what Strasburg did in his starts against the Braves and Mets who are the top two teams in the NL East. Strasburg pitched adequately against the Braves and Mets but got a loss and a no decision to show for it. Remember it's the All-Star Game not the Adequate-Star Game.

Although Strasburg's strikeout totals are impressive I don't think he warrants a selection to the NL All-Star Team. I have three reasons for this opinion.

First, there are other NL starting pitchers who are more deserving than Strasburg. In fact, I can think of a baker's dozen.

Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies - 14-1 2.27 ERA
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals - 11-5 2.34 ERA
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals - 9-2 3.16 ERA
Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals - 8-4 2.10 ERA
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants - 8-4 3.28 ERA, leads NL with 121 strikeouts
Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets - 10-2 2.93 ERA
R.A. Dickey, New York Mets - 6-1 2.62 ERA
Carlos Silva, Chicago Cubs - 8-2 2.96 ERA
Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds - 5-1 3.30 ERA
Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies - 9-7 2.42 ERA, leads NL with 6 complete games
Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves - 8-3 2.37 ERA
Jon Garland, San Diego Padres - 8-5 3.24 ERA
Mat Latos, San Diego Padres - 9-4 2.62 ERA

There are two rookies on that list (Garcia, Leake) as well as his last two mound opponents (Hudson, Dickey). Nearly all of them have pitched at least or are very near to 100 innings while Strasburg has pitched less than 40.

Second, Strasburg will probably pitch on Friday against the San Francisco Giants. The All-Star Game takes place the following Tuesday. I doubt the Nationals want Strasburg pitching on three days rest even if only for an inning.

Finally, I don't think Strasburg himself believes he deserves to be an All-Star. At least not this year.

But we'll see what Charley Manuel decides tomorrow afternoon.

UPDATE: Strasburg was not selected to the NL All-Star Team. I don't think Charley Manuel had any intention of picking him nor do I think the Nationals wanted him in Anaheim. Relief pitcher Matt Capps is the Nationals' lone representative to the team. Although fans do have a chance to vote in Nats third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to be added to the final roster spot.

Bill Clinton Excuses Byrd's KKK Ties

Former President Bill Clinton excused Robert Byrd's ties to the Ku Klux Klan while speaking at his funeral in West Virginia today.

The former President said that Byrd's association with the Klan was "fleeting." It's a dubious description when you consider that Byrd recruited others to join the Klan.

He also said Byrd only joined the Klan because "he was trying to get elected." Couldn't the same argument be made of Strom Thurmond when he embraced segregation during his bid for the White House in 1948? While never a member of the Klan, Thurmond's turn to segregation came after he had opposed lynching while Governor of South Carolina. Thus it could be argued that Thurmond's embrace of segregationism was born of opportunism every bit as much Byrd's membership in the Klan.

If Clinton wants to forgive Byrd then fine. But then he should be prepared to extend the same forgiveness to Thurmond. This is the main point of my most recent article on the IC main page.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

D'Backs Fire Hinch; Kirk Gibson Named Interim Manager

After scarcely a year, the Arizona Diamondbacks have fired manager A.J. Hinch and have replaced him on an interim basis with bench coach Kirk Gibson.

Hinch was named manager in May 2009 after the team fired Bob Melvin.

If that weren't enough, the D'Backs also fired GM Josh Byrnes and have replaced him with Jerry DiPoto also on an interim basis. The former major league reliever was the D'Backs director of scouting and player personnel.

Gibby has no previous managerial experience. He's been the D'Backs bench coach since 2007. Previously, he was the bench coach with the Detroit Tigers from 2002-2005.

But, of course, Gibson has two World Series rings - one with the '84 Tigers and one with the '88 Dodgers. In both World Series, he hit memorable homeruns off future Hall of Fame closers. There was that three run shot off Goose Gossage in the Game 5 clincher in '84 as called by Ernie Harwell. Four years later, Gibson hit a walk off homerun off Dennis Eckersley on two bad legs as called by Vin Scully. It was his only at bat of that World Series. It was enough to demoralize the heavily favored Oakland Athletics and the Dodgers won it in five games. He sure knew how to pick his spots.

I'm not sure Gibby can do much with the last place D'Backs this year but I love his intensity. When he joined the Dodgers, relief pitcher Jesse Orosco put shaving cream in Gibby's cap. Not a wise move. He exploded at Orosco and the team telling them he wasn't there for hijinks. In a 1998 interview, Gibson said, "I made a statement and basically said if we keep this attitude, we'll finish in fourth place again."

If nothing else, the D'Backs will be more interesting to watch.