Thursday, September 30, 2010

Game 3 of World Series to Start "Early"

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced today that Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday, October 30th will start early.

And by early, Selig means the first pitch will be thrown at 6:57 p.m EST.

Of course, there was a time when the World Series was played during the daytime.

The first night game in the Fall Classic was played in Pittsburgh as the Pirates hosted the Baltimore Orioles in Game 4 of the 1971 World Series.

The last day game played in a World Series was when the Detroit Tigers clinched it in Game 5 against the San Diego Padres. It was the game where Kirk Gibson hit the three run homerun off "Goose" Gossage.

I would like to see one day game played in every World Series. Start the Saturday game at 4 p.m. EST. Now that would be a nice nod to tradition.

LeBron James Uses Race as a Crutch

During an interview which aired on CNN last night, LeBron James said race was a factor in the backlash against him when he decided to sign with the Miami Heat in July.

So NBA fans are all of a sudden racist?

Does King James honestly think there would have been no backlash against him if he were white?

If he does then he's delusional. It is sad that James feels it necessary to use race as a crutch.

You would he think he was a supporter of President Obama.

Oh wait! He is an Obama supporter.

Tony Curtis,1925-2010. R.I.P.

Actor Tony Curtis died yesterday of a heart attack. He was 85.

Curtis was at his peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s with roles in films such as The Defiant Ones with Sidney Poitier (for which he received only Oscar nomination), Some Like It Hot with Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe and Spartacus with Kirk Douglas.

In recent years, Curtis devoted more of his time to painting.

He was the father of actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

Curtis served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. I did not know he witnessed the Japanese surrender.

Thoughts on the Tenth Inning

Early this morning I finished watching part two of The Tenth Inning, Ken Burns' sequel to Baseball.

I found parts of it quite sanctimonious especially where it concerns Latin ballplayers, luxury suites and steroids.

With regard to Latin ballplayers, Burns bemoans how a majority of Latin ballplayers don't make the major leagues. Well, that's true with the overwhelmingly majority of American ballplayers. There are no guarantees in baseball.

I found it interesting that he also bemoaned the construction of luxury suites in ballparks when while watching a Red Sox game on TV I saw none other than Ken Burns sitting in a luxury suite.

As for steroids, if they enhance performance so much why weren't pitchers winning 30 games a season?

While it is very likely that Barry Bonds used steroids the fact the government still hasn't brought Bonds to trial after more than three years tells me that things aren't what they seem.

This isn't to say there weren't good parts in this documentary. I liked the segments on Ichiro Suzuki, the 2001 World Series in the wake of the September 11th attacks and, of course, the Red Sox odyssey to winning the 2004 World Series. That is something I will never tire of reliving.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Red Sox Eliminated

The Boston Red Sox were officially eliminated from playoff contention this evening after a 5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees guaranteed themselves playoff spots with victories tonight over the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, respectively.

The Red Sox were plagued by injuries in 2010. Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury all had season ending injuries. Other Sox players who missed significant amounts of time include Victor Martinez, Jason Varitek, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima.

Yet the Sox found a way to contend as players like Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava and Dernell McDonald rose to the occasion and proved they belonged in the big leagues.

After all is said and done, Terry Francona's squad could finish the year with 90 plus wins. Otherwise, Red Sox Nation will wait until next year.

Reds Clinch NL Central

The Cincinnati Reds clinched the NL Central Division in dramatic fashion as outfielder Jay Bruce hit a walk off homerun off Houston Astros relief pitcher Tim Byrdak in the bottom of the ninth to give the Reds a 3-2 victory.

This triumph marks the Reds first NL Central title since 1995.

On a personal note, I picked the Reds to win the NL Central when I wrote my predictions for the 2010 MLB season last March.

Did anyone other than me pick the Reds?

I think not.

So why did I like the Reds?

Orlando Cabrera.

Now Cabrera was hurt for a significant part of the season but his mere presence on the team is sufficient. Since winning the World Series with the Red Sox in 2004, this marks the sixth time in seven years Cabrera has gone to the post-season. You can't go wrong if you have Cabrera on your team.

Of course, Cabrera is but one of many things that went right for the Reds this season. Joey Votto is a top contender for the NL MVP, Scott Rolen is solid at the hot corner, Bronson Arroyo was steady in his 200 plus innings, Johnny Cueto became a more consistent starting pitcher and Francisco Cordero slammed the door in the ninth inning. Of course, I would be remiss in not mentioning having Dusty Baker in the dugout.

Not only is this the Reds first post-season appearance in fifteen years it is their first winning season since 2000. Reds fans are hoping for the first World Series title in twenty years.

Thoughts on Obama's Latest Salvo Against FNC

I cannot say I am surprised that President Obama would call the Fox News Channel "destructive" in an interview with Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner.

Let's face it. There's an election in a little over a month, Democratic prospects don't look good and President Obama needs to fire up his base. What better way for Obama to fire up that base than to take a shot at Rupert Murdoch and company?

But Obama comes off as clownish when he suggests that FNC "is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world." Does Obama honestly believe a single television network is solely responsible for the demise of the American middle class and it's ability to compete internationally? If he genuinely does then he is even more foolish than I had imagined.

One must wonder if he or members of his administration actually watch FNC. I mean Bill O'Reilly has absolutely bent over backwards to give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt. If Obama doesn't know that then he's guilty of ignorance. If Obama does know that then he's guilty of dishonesty. Either way his attacks against FNC are counterproductive as they ultimately benefit FNC. So why does he get into a battle he knows he's going to lose?

Iran Sentences Blogger to 19 Yrs in Evin Prison

Iran has sentenced blogger Hossein Derakhshan to 19 years in prison for the production and dissemination of anti-government propaganda.

Anyone in America who blogs should give pause. Even if you don't blog about politics you should take a moment to think about what we have in this country. What we have is the ability to speak our minds. People might like what we have to say. People might not like what we have to say. But we can say it with the knowledge that we won't be taken from our homes and sent to prison.

It is something we should never take for granted. Thus when someone outside of America is sent to prison for engaging in an activity we carry out without fear of governmental sanction it is incumbent that we speak out. Yes President Obama, it is our place to meddle.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tories Elected in New Brunswick

Voters in New Brunswick have elected the Progressive Conservatives to govern the province. The Tories won 42 of 55 seats. David Alward will become the next Premier of New Brunswick.
Here's an interesting bit of trivia. Alward was born in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Shawn Graham and the Liberals were tossed from power after only a term in office. In fact, it is the first time in New Brunswick history a provincial government has lost power after a single term. Indeed, it is very unusual for provincial governments in Canada not to be re-elected at least once. The last time a provincial government was tossed out after a single term in office was the Ontario NDP government of Bob Rae in 1995 which I wrote about on the IC main earlier this month.

Graham, however, was elected with a tiny majority and governed as if he were Frank McKenna circa 1987. Particularly unpopular was the planned sale of the provincial utility NB Power to Hydro Quebec., a deal which ultimately fell apart.

The Liberals lost more than half their seats. Graham has already announced his resignation as leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party, a post he has held since 2002.

For the second consecutive election, the NDP won no seats. There hasn't been a representative from the NDP in the New Brunswick legislature since Elizabeth Weir resigned as the provincial NDP leader in 2005.

Phillies Clinch Fourth Straight NL East Title

The Philadelphia Phillies clinched their fourth consecutive NL East title with a 8-0 win over the Washington Nationals.

Roy Halladay pitched a complete game two-hit shutout en route to his major league leading 21st victory of the season. While Halladay is no stranger to winning 20 games this will mark his first appearance in the post-season after spending the previous twelve seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Phillies benefitted from a strong September with a 19-5 record including a 11-game winning streak. Their offense had been up and down throughout season. It didn't help matters that Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino have been injured during various parts of the season and their pitching was equally inconsistent. But the arrival of Roy Oswalt from Houston stabilized the rotation and Cole Hamels regained his form from 2008 as did closer Brad Lidge.

The Phillies will most likely face the winner of the NL Wild Card in the NLDS unless the Atlanta Braves win it. In which case their opponent is at this point anyone's guess.

Drunk Driver Convicted of Murder in Death of Adenhart

A jury in Santa Ana, California has convicted Andrew Gallo of DUI murder in the deaths of Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Nick Adenhart, his girlfriend Courtney Stewart and friend Henry Pearson.

Adenhart and his companions were killed early on the morning of April 9, 2009 just hours after he had pitched six scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics. John Wilhite, the lone survivor of the accident, had to have his spine surgically re-attached to his skull.

Gallo, who has a previous DUI conviction, was also convicted for drunken driving, hit-and-run driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol and causing great bodily injury. He could face life in prison. Gallo is scheduled to be sentenced on December 10th.

We can only hope that Gallo's prison cell does not have a key.

Welsh Archbishop Likens Israel to Apartheid S. Africa

Dr. Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales, has likened Israel to Apartheid-era South Africa because of it's decision not to extend the settlement freeze in the West Bank.

The Archbishop's remarks display breathtaking stupidity:

But the longer things continue as they are then moderate, ordinary Palestinians become more resentful and are in danger of being radicalised.

Could Dr. Morgan be speaking of the "moderate, ordinary Palestinians" who last month celebrated the murders of four Israelis in the West Bank including a pregnant woman?

Thoughts on the Cyberattack on Iran's Nuclear Facilities

Hooray for Hackers!!!

Wasserman-Schultz Writes Anti-Castro Editorial

I am not a huge fan of Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. She generally comes across as shrill and strident as she did in this recent exchange with Paul Ryan on CNN's The Situation Room last week.

But I am not one to withhold credit where it is due. In USA Today, Wasserman-Schultz writes a stinging editorial against the Castro brothers in Cuba. She rightly argues against ending the economic embargo against Cuba because it would only reward the regime.

I must confess that I was not aware there is an American has been held prisoner in Cuba since December 2009 for disseminating cell phones to Havana's Jewish community. While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pressed for the release of Alan Gross this is something that requires a statement from President Obama. The liberal media is also complicit in not making Gross a household name.

So I am thankful Wasserman-Schultz for doing her part in drawing attention to Gross' plight as well as holding the Obama Adminstration's feet to the fire regarding the ongoing human rights abuses in Cuba under the Castros.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Poll: Baker & Patrick Even in MA Governor Race

A poll released by The Boston Globe has Republican Charlie Baker nearly even in the polls with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

Patrick has the backing of 35% of voters while Baker has the backing of 34% which is well within the margin of error. Meanwhile, Treasurer Tim Cahill, the Democrat who is running as an independent, is running a distant third in the race with the support of 11% of Massachusetts voters. Even Cahill's four daughters can't save him.

I have to admit I haven't been overly impressed with Baker. Indeed, one could make the case that Cahill is the more conservative of the two despite his long affiliation with the Democrats. Nonetheless, Baker has a chance to defeat Patrick and Cahill does not. If the objective is get Patrick out of the Governor's office it appears that the best way to achieve that objective is for Massachusetts voters to put their support behind Charlie Baker on November 2nd.

House Democrats Responsible for Colbert Kerfuffle

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was not amused by Stephen Colbert's appearance on Capitol Hill on Friday. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, he told Chris Wallace, "I think it was an embarrassment more for Mr. Colbert more than the House."

I disagree. Colbert would never have set foot on Capitol Hill if he had not been invited by California Democrat Zoe Lofgren to testify in character in the first place.

There's no doubt that Colbert made a mockery of Congress when he testified to the House but Congress handed him the keys to the House.

Still, it is worth noting that Hoyer's assessment of Colbert differs sharply from that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

This whole episode with Colbert can be best described as a comedy of errors.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Miliband vs. Miliband

Ed Miliband has defeated his older brother David Miliband to succeed Gordon Brown as the leader of Britain's Labour Party.

The elder Miliband actually led the leadership contest on the first three ballots but supporters of the other candidates on the ballot (Diane Abbott, Ed Balls and Andy Burnham - for whom I once worked) as well as the trade unions went to the younger Miliband.

I must confess I am less familiar with the new Labour leader than I am with his older brother who served as Brown's Foreign Secretary. I was not impressed with him when he gave an interview to Charlie Rose in December 2008 with regard to his views on Hezbollah nor was I impressed when he said the term "war on terror" was a mistake.

Yet it is widely believed that the new Labour leader is even more left-wing than his brother which is pretty remarkable. Then again I cannot say I am particularly impressed with the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition led by David Cameron.

All things considered I don't hold out a lot of hope for Britain as it heads down the road to becoming an Islamic country.

Rangers Clinch AL West

The Texas Rangers clinched their first AL West title since 1999 with a 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics today.

The Rangers pretty much took control of the division by June when they went 21-6.

The Rangers, guided by Ron Washington, enjoyed an MVP type season from Josh Hamilton, a resurgence by Vladimir Guerrero, good starting pitching and a sensational rookie closer in Neftali Feliz. The emphasis on good pitching can be laid at the feet of Rangers owner and pitching legend Nolan Ryan. Thank G-d, MLB didn't let Mark Cuban buy the team.

Yet it is interesting to note that the Rangers have the good fortune of being in the AL West. The Rangers have an identical record to the Boston Red Sox. Yet in the AL East, the Sox are seven games back of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rangers will face the Rays if they hold on and win the AL East in the ALDS.

The Rangers won the AL West in 1996, 1998 and 1999 under the guidance of the late Johnny Oates. However, they were stopped by the New York Yankees all three times in the ALDS. Their pitching is much better now than it was back in the late 1990s but whether it can overcome the Rays or the Yankees remains to be seen.

If nothing else I think Washington win probably win AL Manager of the Year although I think you can make a strong argument for Minnesota Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire.

With the Dallas Cowboys struggling, the sports media in Dallas-Fort Worth can lavish their attention on the Rangers.

Thoughts on Shourd's Meeting with Ahmadinejad

Sarah Shourd, the American hiker who was freed from captivity in Iran earlier this month, met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York yesterday between sessions of the UN General Assembly.

On one hand, I can understand Shourd's desire to have an audience with Ahmadinejad. After all, her fiance and friend are still being held in captivity and it stands to reason that Ahmadinejad is in a position to do something about it.

But on the other hand, Shourd met with a man who 24 hours earlier accused the United States of orchestrating the attacks of September 11, 2001.

This isn't a man who is amenable to reason. Yet by meeting with him Shourd has given Ahmadinejad a propaganda bonanza. Here is an American currying favor with and giving legitimacy to an Iranian leader.

Meanwhile, I expect Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to remain in Evin prison.

The only way Iran will release Bauer and Fattal is the same way they released Shourd.


In other words, ransom. Which is why I consider Bauer and Fattal to be hostages.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eddie Fisher,1928-2010. R.I.P.

Singer Eddie Fisher died yesterday of complications from hip surgery. He was 82.

Fisher achieved stardom in the 1950s both with a nightclub act as well as hosting his own variety show on NBC. But the stardom dimmed by the end of the decade after he divorced actress Debbie Reynolds and left her for Elizabeth Taylor.

Today, such an indiscretion would barely merit a yawn (unless you are dumping Sandra Bullock.)

Fisher and Taylor would divorce five years later. Fisher would marry Connie Stevens and then marry twice more. Taylor would marry Richard Burton (and then again) plus two more husbands over the next quarter century.

Fisher pretty much disappeared from the public limelight in the mid-1980s. To most people, he is probably best known as the father of Carrie Fisher of Princess Leia fame in Star Wars.

Ichiro Collects 200 Hits for Tenth Straight Season

This afternoon, Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki collected his 200th hit of the season off Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Shawn Hill.

It marks the tenth consecutive season the Japanese born Ichiro has collected 200 or more hits.

Mariners fans haven't had much to cheer about this season. Aside from Ichiro, there's been Felix Hernandez who today was on the wrong end of a 1-0 loss to the Jays. The only run he gave up was Jose Bautista's 50th homerun of the season (now there's a story.)

But Ichiro is in a class by himself.

The question is whether Ichiro can reach 3,000 hits. As of this writing, Ichiro has 2,230 hits for his MLB career. Given that Ichiro averages nearly 230 hits a season he could reach the 3,000 plateau sometime during the 2014 season barring serious injury. He would be 40 in 2014 but Ichiro keeps himself in great physical condition so I think it is entirely feasible. But if he were to stop playing in the majors at the end of this season I think he's accomplished enough to earn a plaque in Cooperstown.

Ahmadinejad Says U.S. Gov't Responsible for 9/11

Not long after President Obama addressed the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the podium and claimed the U.S. government was responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Ahmadinejad said:

Some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy, and its grips on the Middle East, in order to save the Zionist regime.
The majority of the American people as well as most nations and politicians around the world agree with this view

The U.S. delegation as well as several others walked out of the room.

What made President Obama think he could deal with this man?

I wonder what Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei thinks about Ahmadinejad's remarks considering he condemned the September 11th attacks. Unless, of course, he's now come around to Ahmadinejad's point of view.

UPDATE: Fox News Channel correspondent Eric Shawn, who has written extensively about the UN, reports there was applause for Ahmadinejad at the end of his address.

It saddens me but it does not surprise me. I'm sure much came from the member states who are a part of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. When you consider how the UN General Assembly routinely condemns Israel is it such a stretch of the imagination many of those members would applaud a claim that the United States orchestrated the September 11th attacks to protect Israel?

Obama Owes Israelis an Apology

Here's a disturbing passage from President Obama's speech today before the UN General Assembly concerning the Middle East Peace Process:

Now I recognize many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs and with gunfire.

It's clear that Hamas has no interest in a peace agreement with Israel as its raison d'ĂȘtre is the destruction of the State of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state (as if there aren't already plenty of those.) Hamas, to borrow Obama's words, have no shortage of bombs and gunfire to accompany their bitter words.

But who in Israel is going to try to disrupt the peace process with bombs and gunfire? The IDF? The settlers? Obama doesn't say.

Now one can make the case that Yitzhak Rabin signature on the Oslo Accords cost him his life. But there are no schools, soccer fields or town squares in Israel named in honor of Yigal Amir.

Baruch Goldstein (no relation) massacred Palestinians in prayer. But Israeli Jews did not have celebrations in the streets of Jerusalem handing out sweets to children.

Israelis deplored these acts. Those acts violence are the exception, not the rule. The same cannot be said of Hamas and those who do not want peace with Israel.

That President Obama would suggest Israeli Jews would wantonly disrupt the peace process with bombs and gunfire is an act of defamation for which he should apologize profusely. It isn't like he hasn't had plenty of practice. That is unless, of course, his apologies are strictly reserved for Muslim theocracies and other despots.

Turkey Demands Israeli Apology & Money for Flotilla Raid

While speaking before the UN General Assembly today, Turkish President Abdullah Gul demanded that Israel apologize to and compensate his country for last May's raid on Mavi Marmara which left 9 Turks dead.

Talk about chutzpah. If anyone should apologize it's Turkey who sponsored this act of state terrorism against Israel. That was no humanitarian mission.

This follows Gul's cancellation of a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres last Sunday.

I don't expect Israel to either apologize or compensate Turkey nor do I think the Turkish government expects they will either. I do expect the Turks to use this as a pretext to break off diplomatic relations with Israel.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bill Clinton Has Too Much Faith in Abbas & Fayyad

Yesterday, former President Bill Clinton spoke to reporters about the Middle East process and said that the settlers and Russian Jews were the biggest impediment to peace.

(Hat tip to Mark Krikorian at National Review Online.)

Clinton said that the IDF had more Russians and settlers amongst its ranks and might be disclined to evacuate settlements in the West Bank. "An increasing number of the young people in the IDF are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest-core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem," said the 42nd President.

Yet there were a lot Russians and settlers in the IDF five years ago and they evacuated Gaza anyway. Clinton's argument strikes me a specious.

If I had a chance to speak with Bill Clinton I would ask him if a generation of Palestinians taught to hate Jews wasn't a bigger impediment to peace than Russian Jews and the settlers.

But I might also ask him if he has too much faith in the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank namely Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Clinton thinks Fatah could win an election in Gaza "because of the greater prosperity and the greater security produced under Abbas and Fayyad." Methinks the "prosperity in the West Bank" might be a result of the massive amounts of foreign aid received by the Palestinian Authority rather than anything Abbas and Fayyad have done.

The former President also thinks there won't be a repeat of Camp David in 2000. "They won't do what Arafat did, they won't get up to the deal and lose their nerve. They know what the future looks like," said Clinton.

Abbas and Fayyad are more Yasser Arafat than they are Anwar Sadat. Abbas and Fayyad know that their future would be very shortlived if they signed a peace agreement with Israel. They would be signing their own death warrants.

When it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, Bill Clinton isn't as bad as Jimmy Carter. But he's wearing rose colored glasses.

The End of Summers

Do you realize that Larry Summers resigniation was announced right before the first day of fall?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Minnesota Twins Clinch AL Central

For the sixth time in the past nine years, the Minnesota Twins have won the American League Central Division.

Earlier tonight, the Twins reduced their magic number to one when they came from behind to defeat the Cleveland Indians 6-4. Then a short time ago, the second place Chicago White Sox fell to the Oakland Athletics 7-2 thus clinching the division for the Twins.

It was the White Sox eighth loss in a row. Manny Ramirez has proved to be a bust. In 19 games with the Chisox, Ramirez has driven in only one run. All of this makes me grateful. If the White Sox reached the post-season we would have never heard the end of it from President Obama.

The Twins managed to win despite the absence of Joe Nathan. A triumvarate of closers (Jon Rauch, Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes) more than filled the breach. For the second year in a row they also managed to win without Justin Morneau. Who amongst us would have believed Carl Pavano would tally 17 wins? And what of Delmon Young coming of age? Lest we forget the emergence of rookie third baseman Danny Valencia. Oh yes, there's some guy named Joe Mauer.

The Twins are 15-4 in the month of September and 45-18 since the All-Star break. It's also worth noting that tonight's victory marked Ron Gardenhire's 800th as Twins manager. In a few years, Gardenhire has a chance of eclipsing his predecessor Tom Kelly who won 1,140 games in 16 seasons as Twins skipper. Gardenhire should win AL Manager of the Year (although one could make an argument for Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington.) You would think with six divisional titles under his belt that Gardenhire should win the award one of these years.

Mitch Williams, Dan Plesac and Matt Vasgersian of the MLB Network were discussing whether the Twins clinching early would hurt their momentum in the post-season. Well, the Twins clinched the AL Central last year in game 163. All of their momentum crashed with a thud against the New York Yankees.

In all likelihood, the Twins will face the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. But the Yankees have been their albatross. The Twins have fallen to the Yankees thrice in the ALDS (2003, 2004 and 2009.) Of course, the Twins have only advanced past the ALDS once and that was in 2002 when they eliminated the Oakland Athletics only to lose to the Anaheim Angels in the ALCS. So the Twins have a lot to prove in the post-season.

Carter Gives Obama a Backhanded Compliment

I didn't watch the 60 Minutes interview with Jimmy Carter on Sunday as my roomie and I were having dinner with friends. But I have read the transcript.

When Lesley Stahl asked the 39th President about President Obama being "worse than Jimmy Carter" he said:

I can't control what people say about comparing me with Obama. But I hope that Obama will have as successful a term as I did with our nation's domestic and international affairs.

Talk about a backhanded compliment. I'm sure that upon hearing this from Carter, Obama said, "Gee, Jimmy. Thanks a lot pal."

But if double digit unemployment and inflation plus a hostage situation involving American diplomats is Carter's idea of success I can't imagine how he assesses failure.

D'Onofrio Returns to Law & Order:Criminal Intent

Vincent D'Onofrio is returning to Law & Order: Criminal Intent.


O.K., it's only for eight episodes which won't air until next year. And Jeff Goldblum has departed. But I'll take it.

Yes, the L&O franchise is uber left. I've had my share of objections to the show. But Detective Robert Goren is one of the greatest characters in the history of the small screen. Suffice it to say the way he was written out of the show earlier this year did not do justice to the imprint he has left on that series.

No word yet if Kathryn Erbe will return as Detective Alexandra Eames or if he will be paired with Saffron Burrows. To me, Goren and Eames is like Lennon and McCartney. They are better together than they are apart. Then again my roommate Christopher and I would love it if Burrows were to move in with us. We wouldn't even charge her rent.

The return of Robert Goren has put a big smile on my face.

Thoughts on O'Donnell's Poll Numbers

So Christine O'Donnell is down 15 points according to a Fox News poll. Chris Coons has a 54-39 lead over the GOP nominee.

Let's see where she's at in a month's time. If Coons is still ahead by double digits then it's a done deal for O'Donnell. But if she can cut his lead in half or by two thirds in the next 30 days then she has a fighting chance.

It's too early to write her off.

Bill Clinton Isn't Underestimating Sarah Palin

Democrats would be wise to listen to Bill Clinton.

In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, Clinton said that Sarah Palin should not be underestimated. He also described her as "compelling", "persuasive" and "resilient."

Given that Clinton is the only Democrat to win two terms in office since FDR one would think Democrats would give pause. Yet I imagine few Democratic activists will heed Clinton's words of wisdom. Palin strikes such a raw nerve with them that they cannot think straight. Their objections to her very being cloud any ability to see her strengths.

This deficiency might very well propel Sarah Palin straight into the White House.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kenny McKinley,1987-2010. R.I.P.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley was found dead today of an apparent self-inflicted gun shot wound. He was only 23.

McKinley was selected by the Broncos in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft after a distinguished career in the college ranks playing for Steve Spurrier at the University of South Carolina.

In his rookie season, McKinley was relegated to special teams as a kick returner. He sustained a knee injury late last season and was on injured reserve at the time of his death.

Obviously, when a young man has his whole life ahead of him and particularly when he is in a situation where he has some degree of financial stability it boggles the mind. Did he have a history of mental illness? Was he prescribed psychotropic medication and simply overcome by its side effects? Was he simply insecure about the state of his football career? Was it a broken heart? Was it a combination of all these factors or something altogether different?

For whatever the reason those related to McKinley by blood and those who called him friend will be forever bewildered and saddened by his act.

A couple of years ago, I wrote this piece about suicide after writer David Foster Wallace took his own life.

Leonard Skinner,1933-2010. R.I.P.

Leonard Skinner, the high school gym teacher whose name served as the inspiration for the 1970s southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died today of complications from Alzheimer's Disease. He was 77.

Skinner sent several members of the band to the principal's office because their hair was too long. But years later he would become friendly with them and Skinner would be held with deep affection by Skynyrd fans.

What else can I say? Tuesday's gone with the wind.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jimi Hendrix & The Star Spangled Banner

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix.

One can only imagine the music he might have made he had lived beyond the age of 27.

But what of the music he left behind? It is hard to think about Hendrix without thinking about his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock.

O'Donnell Cancels TV Appearances on FOX & CBS

Delaware GOP Senatorial nominee Christine O'Donnell has cancelled two TV appearances she was scheduled to make on Sunday morning. O'Donnell was to be interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday and by Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation.

Her campaign cites scheduling conflicts, not a lack of preparation. A campaign spokesperson also states they have been inundated with appearance requests since upsetting Mike Castle on Tuesday.

This reflects poorly on O'Donnell's campaign. They can say it has nothing to do with preparation all they want but that is exactly what people are going to think. Now while O'Donnell's top priority is to stay in Delaware and campaign, what is there to prevent her from going into a TV studio in Dover or Wilmington and talking to Wallace and Schieffer via satellite?

As for being short staffed, when you consider the O'Donnell campaign has raised nearly a million dollars within 48 hours following her primary victory you would think they would make a top priority to use some of that money to hire additional staff.

Now, this is certainly not an insurmountable obstacle. If O'Donnell appears next Sunday with Wallace and Schieffer and acquits herself well then this will be water under the bridge. But this does not inspire confidence.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wellesley Students Participate in Muslim Prayer

A video has surfaced of several male schoolchildren from Wellesley, Massachusetts (less than 15 miles west of Boston) participating in noontime prayers during a field trip to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center last May.

The video was released by a group called Americans for Peace & Tolerance. The organization is led by Dr. Charles Jacobs who has also been involved with the American Anti-Slavery Group and The David Project. (I should note that I met Jacobs on a couple of occasions many years ago.)

Bella Wong, the Superintendent of Wellesley Public Schools, has issued an apology. But what I find amusing is that Bilal Kaleem, President of the Muslim-American Society of Boston, insists the schoolchildren must have participated on their own. Kaleem said, "Our policy is very clear with our tour guides who never invite anyone to take part in any of the actual activities that are happening here." Yet I find it hard to believe that sixth grade students would participate in a Muslim prayer unless they were asked or told to do so. At the very minimum you would think Kaleem would have offered an apology for not enforcing their own rules. But no apology has been forthcoming.

Believe me if the Wellesley students went to a Catholic church and ended up receiving communion the liberal press would go absolutely beserk (and rightly so.) Long story short. Why is Muslim proselytizing of our students acceptable while Christian proselytizing is beyond the pale?

Of course, why a public school would send its children to a religious institution whose founder is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for financing terrorist activities against our country is beyond me. Equally troubling are statements made by one of the Islamic Center's imams, Abdullah Faaruuq. During a speech Faaruuq gave to a mosque in Brighton last March he exhorted those assembled to "grab onto the shovel, grab onto the gun and the sword. Don't be afraid to step out in this world and do your job." And would that job involve killing oneself and taking as many innocent civilians as possible along with you?

Schools in the Boston and surrounding area would be wise to cancel or indefinitely postpone any planned visits to the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

Thoughts on Lisa Murkowski's Write-In Campaign

I can't say this comes as a total surprise.

Naturally, conservatives are not amused. Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online asks, "How is she anything more than Arlen Specter in a dress?"

Or for that matter Charlie Crist?

But I think the thoughts of Quin Hillyer, my colleague at The American Spectator, are closer to the sore spot:

For Lisa Murkowski to run a write-in campaign with virtually no chance of winning, but with every chance of throwing the election to the Democrat, continues a trend that shows that too many Beltway "moderates" of the Republican persuasion have no class, no sense of public service, but merely a sense of selfish entitlement.

Now I'm not sure that Murkowski doesn't have a chance of winning. (Nate Silver of The New York Times makes the case that she can win.) I think conservatives would object even more vigorously if it was thought Murkowski could win. But what Quin hits upon is that Murkowski's mere presence in the race (even if her name doesn't appear on the ballot) could deny Joe Miller a seat in the United States Senate.

But if Murkowski and moderate Republicans are all about retaining power for power's sake then it should not come as a surprise to conservatives when Murkowski and moderate Republicans take measures to hold on to that power. Besides isn't it a part of human nature to keep power one has acquired?

Even if you don't like Murkowski's tactics at the end of the day if Alaskans are prepared to write her name in on the ballot then that is their prerogative. Now it is up to Joe Miller to convince Alaskans to do otherwise.

Torre to Retire; Mattingly New Dodger Skipper in '11

Joe Torre will retire as a major league manager at the end of this season. He had spent the past three seasons at the helm of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Torre will be succeeded by Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly.

Torre was unable to replicate the success he had with the New York Yankees on the West Coast. While Torre did guide the Dodgers to the post-season in both 2008 and 2009 they were a disappointment in 2010 and will likely end up with a losing record. Unlike Bobby Cox, Torre will not have a chance at one last playoff run.

Believe it or not, Torre began his managerial career as a player-manager with the New York Mets in 1977. He would retire as a player at the end of that season and manage the Mets for four more seasons. Those Mets teams were not good at all consistently finishing at or near the bottom of the NL East.

However, in 1982, Torre was hired to manage the Atlanta Braves (ironically, he would replace Bobby Cox). The Braves jumped off to a 13-0 start and never looked back winning their first NL West title since 1969. However, the Braves were swept in the NLCS by the St. Louis Cardinals who would go onto win the '82 Series.

Torre would leave Atlanta after the team failed to reach the playoffs in 1983 and 1984. It's worth noting the Braves would finish in last place in the NL West for the next six seasons. Torre spent most of those years broadcasting for the California Angels. But Torre would return to the dugout in 1990 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Although the Cardinals generally played winning baseball during his tenure the team failed to make the post-season and he was let go in the middle of the 1995 season.

Let's say that the New York media was less than thrilled to hear that Torre had been named manager of the New York Yankees prior to the 1996 season. Given his managerial resume (especially his stint with the Mets) there was no reason to believe he would be any more successful in the Bronx. At this time, the Yankees had not been in a World Series since 1981 and had not won the Fall Classic since 1978. Torre was merely going to be the latest in a long series of managers who had come and gone (and come and gone again) under George Steinbrenner.

Well, Torre stayed with the Yankees for twelve seasons and made the playoffs in every single one of those seasons. He guided them to six American League pennants and four World Series in five years much to the chagrin of Red Sox Nation. It is for this achievement that he will be enshrined into Cooperstown.

Of course, after the Yankees failed to get out of the ALDS for three consecutive seasons, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner made him offer he had to refuse. It was also widely expected that Mattingly would succeed Torre but the Steinbrenners opted for Joe Girardi. So Torre accepted a managerial gig with the Dodgers and took Mattingly along with him.

After Torre left the Yankees and before he joined the Dodgers, I wrote a piece suggesting that he would be perfect running mate for Rudy Giuliani. That seems like such a long time ago. But my argument was that Torre was calm, knew how to deal with people and projected an image of trust even amongst his rivals. Unfortunately, his reputation took a bit of a hit last year after he co-wrote The Yankee Years with Tom Verducci. In the book, he slams both Alex Rodriguez, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Yankees team president Randy Levine.

But after all is said and done, Torre has had a good run in baseball. Let's not forget he was a great player. How many people remember that Torre won the 1971 NL MVP hitting .363 with the St. Louis Cardinals? But he will also exit baseball with over 2,300 wins as a manager. That's good enough for fifth best in MLB history. Only Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, John McGraw and Connie Mack won more games as big league managers.

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

UPDATE: Well, Joe Torre might not be riding off into the sunset just yet as reports indicate he could manage the New York Mets in 2011. I guess that would be going full circle.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stewart to Hold Rally Against Extremism on Oct 30th

Tonight, Jon Stewart announced that he will hold a rally at the Washington Monument against extremism. It is being billed as "The Rally to Restore Sanity" or the "Million Moderate March."

For good measure, Stephen Colbert plans to hold a counter rally called "The March to Keep Fear Alive."

Obviously, this is a dig at Glenn Beck's successful rally last month at the Washington Monument on the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr's speech.

This might very well prove to be a fun event yet there's something disingenuous about it. Remember the furor over the Mohammed episode on South Park? You know how that little Muslim group in Brooklyn was going to turn Trey Parker and Matt Stone into Theo Van Gogh? You know how those threats intimidated Comedy Central into banishing the episode from the airwaves? And where was Stewart? Touting the company line.

Memo to Stewart: Glenn Beck isn't the extremist. People willing to kill cartoonists are. Just ask the artist formerly known as Molly Norris.

There's Something Fishy About NY Yankees Fans

I knew there was something fishy about New York Yankees fans.

And now I know what it is.

They are a bunch of crooks.

Since 2000, more than a hundred people in New York City who were arrested for serious offenses were either detained or arraigned wearing Yankees caps, jackets or other apparel.

What a sad state of affairs indeed.

After all, everyone knows that good, upstanding citizens wear Boston Red Sox caps.

Hillary Pressures Israel on Settlements

Israel and the Palestinians return to the bargaining table. The U.S. demands concessions from Israel on settlements.

So what else is new?

Specifically, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling on Israel to extend the settlement freeze in the West Bank.

Of course, even if Bibi extends the freeze it won't be sufficient for Mahmoud Abbas. He will demand the freeze be extended to East Jerusalem. And why wouldn't he given that Obama demanded as much last spring.

In the grand schem of things, the settlements do not matter. They are a red herring. Did Israel achieve peace in Gaza after they evacuated the settlements more than five years ago? They were rewarded with rocket attacks and the abduction of Gilad Shalit.

Deep down I think Hillary knows nothing good will come of this charade. But one must maintain the appearance of doing something. And if it is all about keeping up appearances then one cannot do better than to bring pressure to bear against Israel. It hardly takes any effort.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kyle Drabek Makes MLB Debut

I may have been premature in predicting that Kyle Drabek would win the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year.

After all, he spent nearly all season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the AA affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. But I would make this observation after seeing him pitch last Memorial Day:

I would be very surprised if Drabek isn't starting games for the Jays before the end of the season.

Well, lo and behold, Drabek made his MLB debut tonight for the Blue Jays against the Baltimore Orioles in Camden Yard. Although he lost to the O's 3-1, the younger Drabek made a good accounting of himself. Drabek tossed six innings giving up three runs on nine hits while striking out five and walking three.

Perhaps most impressive was that the game was completed in one hour and 55 minutes. When I saw Drabek pitch in May the game took exactly two hours. Drabek works as fast as Roy Halladay - the man for whom he was traded this off season.

Can Drabek pitch like Halladay? We'll see if he makes the team in 2011 much less wins NL Rookie of the Year.

Where's Gutfeld's Muslim Gay Bar When You Need It?

A former Saudi diplomat has requested asylum in the United States.

Ali Ahmad Fasseri is seeking asylum after the Saudi Arabian government found out he was gay.

It is also worth noting the Saudis objected to his friendship with an Israeli Jewish woman.

Ah yes, that famous Wahhabi tolerance.

Where's Greg Gutfeld's Muslim gay bar when you need it?

Edwin Newman,1919-2010. R.I.P.

Edwin Newman, who was a fixture at NBC News for more than three decades, passed away on September 13th in England. His cause of death is presently unknown. He was 91.

I remember Newman best when shortly after his retirement he hosted Saturday Night Live. Or should I say co-hosted? That night he shared the stage with Billy Crystal, Father Guido Sarducci (a.k.a. Don Novello), New York City Mayor Ed Koch and actress Betty Thomas of Hill Street Blues fame.

Here's Newman interviewing the band KISS in their heyday in 1978.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Paladino Beats Lazio

Well, I guess all bets are truly off this season.

Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino decisively beat former New York Congressman Rick Lazio in the New York Republican gubernatorial primary winning nearly two thirds of the vote. Paladino will face Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in November.

This is the biggest upset of the night. Even bigger than Christine O'Donnell's victory in Delaware. While O'Donnell wasn't favored to defeat Mike Castle she certainly made it a competitive race.

I don't think anyone outside of Tea Party activists in New York saw this one coming.

Thoughts on Christine O'Donnell

Christine O'Donnell has won the Delaware GOP Primary upsetting longtime Congressman and former Delaware Governor Mike Castle. O'Donnell won 53% of the vote.

No sooner than O'Donnell ran her victory lap, Karl Rove denounced her while the National Republican Senatorial Committee indicated it would not give her a penny.

O'Donnell has come under increasing scrutiny in recent days following revelations published by The Weekly Standard concerning a 2005 gender discrimination lawsuit she filed (and subsequently dropped) against the Intercollegiate Studies Institute as well as questions about her college credentials.

Undoubtedly, this scrutiny will only become more intense now that she is the GOP standard bearer and held in high regard by The Tea Party. The questions raised by The Weekly Standard are ones she will have to answer. Yet I do not agree with Rove. O'Donnell can win in November and based on tonight's victory I would not be so quick to underestimate her. Anti-incumbency is at a fever pitch and the Tea Party is out in full force for O'Donnell. This isn't to say some voters won't have reservations about O'Donnell but those misgivings are likely to be overshadowed by the anger they feel towards President Obama and in the case of Delaware voters anger towards Joe Biden.

If O'Donnell can run Mike Castle from his kingdom then she surely has a chance against her Democratic opponent Chris Coons.

Needless to say, things haven't been this intense in Delaware since the Delawarean/Delawarite debate. Boy, I sure do miss Taxi.

Sarah Shourd Released

American hostage Sarah Shourd has been released by Iran.

The Iranians released her once they obtained half a million dollars.

Last week, Iran agreed to release her only to reverse themselves. The Iranians then made the ransom demand.

No word as to who paid the ransom.

Shourd's fiance Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal remain in Iranian custody.

The three were taken into custody in July 2009 when they hiked along the Iraq-Iran border.

While I am glad that she has been released one must be concerned about the fate of Bauer and Fattal. If the Iranians were prepared to demand money in order to release a woman who is seriously ill (she may have breast cancer) then one can only imagine what Iran will demand with regard to Bauer and Fattal.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mike Shaw,1957-2010. R.I.P.

Former professional wrestler Mike Shaw died on September 11th of an apparent heart attack in his Michigan home. He was 53.

Shaw wrestled under a variety of identites in the 1980s and early 1990s. He wrestled as Makhan Singh in Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling in Calgary. Later, he would get a shot in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) wrestling as Norman the Lunatic.

He is probably best remembered for his stint in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF as it was then known) as Bastion Booger. If that sounds gross it looked even worse. Yet it was oddly amusing. He was in a tag team with Bam Bam Bigelow but the team broke up over competing affections for Luna Vachon. Sadly, Bigelow died in 2007 while Vachon passed away last month.

Former WWE announcer Jim Ross has some kind words for Shaw.

Rockies Win Ten in a Row

The Colorado Rockies defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 courtesy a pinch hit walk off homerun by Jason Giambi.

It gives the Rockies their tenth consecutive victory.

While the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants are tied for first in the NL West, the Rockies are only a game and a half out of the division lead.

The Rockies host the Padres for a three game series starting tomorrow night while the Giants will host the fading Los Angeles Dodgers beginning Tuesday.

It will be interesting to see what the NL West looks like in a week's time.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Iran Demands $500,000 to Release Shourd

First, Iran was going to release American hiker Sarah Shourd this weekend.

Then the Iranian government then reneged on its word.

Now, Iran is prepared to release Shourd - if they get $500,000 presumably in U.S. dollars.

As far as I am concerned Shourd is a hostage (as are Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer) and this is a ransom demand. It's a shakedown.

This is a demand that should not be met. First, there is no reason believe Iran wouldn't just pocket the money and keep Shourd in jail. The Iranians cannot be taken at their word. Second, it tells Iran and all other anti-American interests they can wantonly kidnap Americans and the U.S. government will fund their activities in exchange for their release.

Yet I suspect this is precisely what will be done. I would not be surprised to see either Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter dispatched to Tehran to secure their release (it would look really bad if an American emissary didn't come home with all three hostages.)

You might recall that in August 2009 Clinton travelled to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong-Il and came home with American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee who had been in North Korean custody since March for allegedly entering the country illegally. The Obama Administration denied any involvement in Clinton's intervention. Yeah surrre.

Last month, Carter travelled to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-Il to secure the release of Aijalon Gomes, a resident of Boston who had allegedly crossed into North Korea from China where he had been teaching English.

If Carter were to be sent to Tehran to obtain the release of Shourd, Fattal and Bauer it would be a feather in his cap given his ineptness during the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-1980.

The bottom line here is that the Iranian government is playing games with the lives of these hostages and we should not play their games.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When You Have a Birthday on September 11th

What do you do when you have a birthday on September 11th?

I spent most of the day at a neighbor's birthday party.

When the subject of the appropriateness of having a birthday celebration on September 11th came up the birthday boy said, "If I don't celebrate my birthday, the terrorists win."

I have no quarrel with his argument - even if it is motivated by beer. But the jihadists want to alter our way of life and for better or for worse drinking beer is part of our way of life (although not mine.)

However, next year I think I would like to be in New York.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Iran Will Not Release Female American Hiker

Twenty-four hours after Iran indicated it would release Sarah Shourd, one of three American hikers taken hostage last year, the Iranian government has now reneged on its word.

Quel surprise.

If there was a time for President Obama to "meddle" then this is surely it. I hope he conveys indignation and outrage and publicly demands Iran release Shourd as well as Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer.

Or does President Obama restrict his indignation and outrage for Israeli settlements?

Obama Taps Goolsbee Chair of Economic Advisers

Yesterday, President Obama named Austan Goolsbee as his new Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers. Goolsbee succeeds Christina Romer who resigned earlier this month.

You might remember that in the run up to the Ohio Democratic Primary in 2008, Barack Obama was railing against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and had threatened to renegotiate it. For instance, during a February 2008 speech to workers at the National Gypsum plant in Lorain, Ohio, Obama said, "I don't think NAFTA has been good for America - and I never have." (It's worth noting that Obama's speech didn't much good for the National Gypsum employees in Lorain. Less than two months later, the company announced it was laying off all employees at the plant.)

While Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric might have appealed to Ohio voters it no doubt created anxiety amongst our NAFTA partners namely Canada and Mexico. Enter Austan Goolsbee. During a meeting with officials at the Canadian Consul General's office in Chicago, Goolsbee said that Obama's commentary on NAFTA was mere campaign rhetoric and that it should be taken with a grain of salt. The Obama campaign, however, denied such a conversation took place (as did the Canadian government.) The Obama campaign continued to deny a conversation took place even when the Consul General's Office produced a memo of that conversation.

Byron York, then a correspondent with National Review Online, wrote:

So it’s not likely that the story will go away, given the Obama campaign’s inaccurate and misleading statements about it and the Clinton campaign’s interest in keeping the controversy alive. The only question is whether it will do Obama any significant damage and Clinton any significant benefit.

Well, the episode did enough damage that Hillary Clinton won the Ohio Democratic Primary on March 4, 2008. But by then it was a day late and a dollar short. A Canadian dollar short. The Goolsbee affair did no long term damage to Barack Obama.

Goolsbee committed a gaffe. He told the truth. There was no way President Obama was going to jettison NAFTA much less entertain ideas of negotiating it. It took years for the U.S. government and the Canadian government to negotiate the Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA's predecessor.) Any renegotiation would have taken years. Any initiative to abrogate the agreement would have caused a significant diplomatic row. Throw Mexico into the mix and matters get that much more complicated. Obama was doing what politicians have done before him and will continue to do - tell people what they want to hear. The only unfortunate byproduct of that was some Ohioans believed him.

But if nothing else, the memo from the Canadian Consul General's Office in Chicago was right about one thing. It stated, "Should Obama win the White House, Goolsbee figures to remain a close advisor." Not only has Goolsbee remained a close advisor he will now chair a group of them.

Malkin: When Are Muslims Not Angry?

Michelle Malkin has written something that I have believed for quite some time. It seems that Muslims are always angry about something and that does not take much to make them angry:

Shhhhhhh, we’re told. Don’t protest the Ground Zero mosque. Don’t burn a Koran. It’ll imperil the troops. It’ll inflame tensions. The “Muslim world” will “explode” if it does not get its way, warns sharia-peddling imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Pardon my national-security-threatening impudence, but when is the “Muslim world” not ready to “explode”?

I have disagreed with Malkin in past. But, damn, I wish I had written this myself.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Donald Trump to the Rescue?

Is Donald Trump riding in on a white horse?

"The Donald" has reportedly offered to buy out Hisham Elzanaty, one of the major investors in the Ground Zero Mosque. Trump is willing to pay Elzanaty 25% above what he paid for the property.

Assuming that Pastor Terry Jones is wrong and the Ground Zero Mosque organizers haven't already agreed to relocate let us hope that Elzanaty has the good sense to take Trump up on his most generous offer.

UPDATE: No dice.

Pastor Jones Cancels Koran Bonfire

Pastor Terry Jones has just announced that plans to burn copies of the Koran has been cancelled.

So I guess President Obama did make that phone call.

But here's the wildcard. Jones indicated he cancelled the event after he learned the Ground Zero Mosque would be moved. Did Obama tell him that? Yet given his editorial in The New York Times yesterday I doubt that Feisal Abdul Rauf has any intention of moving the Ground Zero Mosque an inch.

I have a bad feeling that Rauf will say the Ground Zero Mosque is being built come hell or high water and before you know it the bonfire will be lit.

UPDATE: Well, I can't say I'm surprised. No word if the bonfire is back on though.

Obama May Phone Pastor Jones

President Obama may phone Pastor Terry Jones to urge him to call off his plans to burn copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

For his part, Pastor Jones appears receptive. Jones stated, "I don't think a call from them is something we would ignore."

I only wish that President Obama would have called Feisal Abdul Rauf to tell him it is unwise of him not to condemn his fellow Muslims who were firebombing churches in Malaysia after a court ruled that Christian churches could refer to G-d as Allah.

Obama Says Koran Burning Endangers Our Troops

Today, during an appearance on Good Morning America, President Obama spoke out against Florida pastor Terry Jones' plans to throw Korans into a bonfire on the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

President Obama called Pastor Jones' plans "a stunt" that could "greatly endanger our young men and women in uniform who are in Iraq, who are in Afghanistan."

I, for one, agree with the President.

However, I also think the presence of Islamists in the U.S. military also greatly endangers our young men and women in uniform who are serving on military bases on U.S. soil. But President Obama warns us against jumping to conclusions and won't draw them even when it is staring him right in the face.

I would give President Obama's comments greater weight if he were to acknowledge that Islamic fundamentalists are at war with us and that "diversity" takes a back to seat to the safety of our troops at home and abroad.

Rebuild Churches Instead of Burning Korans

As much as the Ground Zero Mosque offends me, I cannot see how throwing Korans into a bonfire honors the memory of those who died on September 11, 2001.

Today, I have an article up at The American Spectator (which hopefully will soon be on the IC main page) about St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. It was destroyed when the South Tower collapsed upon it. You would think heaven and earth would have moved to rebuild St. Nicholas. Instead, the Port Authority stands in the way while Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama have nothing to say.

The point here is if we want to honor those who died on September 11, 2001 our efforts are better directed towards rebuilding St. Nicholas. They need time, money and other materials.
If you are interested in helping out donations can be sent to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, P.O. Box 340968, Brooklyn, New York 11234.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thoughts on Feisal Abdul Rauf's NYT Editorial

I read Faisal Abdul Rauf's guest editorial in The New York Times today.

Count me unimpressed. I find his tone to be, well, tone deaf:

We have all been awed by how inflamed and emotional the issue of the proposed community center has become.

Rauf is being disingenuous if he claims he didn't think building a mosque/community center in the proximity of the World Trade Center attacks wasn't going to get a rise out of the American people. But if anyone is guilty of inflaming the situation it is Rauf. If Rauf wants support for his project he doesn't do himself any favors by calling America an accessory to the September 11th attacks or by claiming America has more Muslim blood on its hand than al Qaeda.

As such I'm not buying his touchy feely, multicultural, interfaith act:

Our name, Cordoba, was inspired by the city in Spain where Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed in the Middle Ages during a period of great cultural enrichment created by Muslims. Our initiative is intended to cultivate understanding among all religions and cultures.

When the Muslims seized control of Cordoba in 1148 they gave Christians and Jews three choices - convert to Islam, leave or be put to death. If this is Rauf's idea of co-existence and how to cultivate understanding among all religions and cultures then I want no part of it.

But in Rauf's world we might not have a choice in the matter:

The wonderful outpouring of support for our right to build this community center from across the social, religious and political spectrum seriously undermines the ability of anti-American radicals to recruit young, impressionable Muslims by falsely claiming that America persecutes Muslims for their faith. These efforts by radicals at distortion endanger our national security and the personal security of Americans worldwide. This is why Americans must not back away from completion of this project. If we do, we cede the discourse and, essentially, our future to the radicals on both sides. The paradigm of a clah between the West and the Muslim world will continue, as it has in recent decades at terrible cost. It is a paradigm we must shift.

So let me get this straight. The construction of this community center is the only thing standing between young, impressionable Muslims and anti-American radicals. It seems to me that anti-American radicals have done a fine job of recruiting young, impressionable Muslims even though Muslims have been able to practice their faith in this country from its very beginnings. Nor have they taken to heart President Obama's assertion that "Islam has always been a part of America."

Let's also remember that Rauf claims "the issue of terrorism is a complex issue." Indeed, Rauf uses the term radical, not terrorist. He also speaks of "radicals on both sides." So who are the radicals on the other side? The America he believes has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda?

Hoffman Records 600th Save

Last night, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Trevor Hoffman recorded his 600th career save in the Brewers 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

I'm glad he got the chance to achieve the unprecedented. Hoffman has struggled this season losing his closer's job early in the year. John Axford is now the Brewers closer.

Even though Hoffman has more saves than any other reliever he only led the NL in saves twice - 1998 and 2006. But Hoffman is more consistent than spectacular. He notched 40 or more saves nine times in his career.

I also suspect there's a part of him that wishes he was back with the San Diego Padres. Even if he had a limited role in that bullpen I'm sure he would like one last chance at getting into another World Series. It would not surprise me if he were to retire after this season.

In which case, it won't be long before New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera joins Hoffman in the 600 club. Rivera currently has 555 career saves. Assuming he's healthy, Rivera could record his 600th save next season.

While Rivera is considered the greatest closer in the history of MLB, Trevor Hoffman is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kennedy Ctr. to Honor McCartney, Oprah & Haggard

Former Beatle Paul McCartney, talk show diva Oprah Winfrey and country music legend Merle Haggard will be amongst those bestowed with honors from the Kennedy Center in December.

What do they all have in common? They are fervent admirers of President Obama who will host the proceedings.

Of course, we all remember the last time President Obama and Paul McCartney got together.

Oprah, as we all know, campaigned for Obama.

But the selection of Merle Haggard is interesting. Although Haggard is best known for "The Okie from Muskogee" his politics have become more left wing in recent years. Haggard vigorously opposed the War in Iraq, he defended the Dixie Chicks (albeit while singing Toby Keith's praises), supported Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House and would also write a song for her. For good measure, Haggard also wrote a song for President Obama.

Yes, just what we need. Another Obama lovefest. Yet given what will likely happen in November, Obama is going to need all the love he can find. But somehow I think Obama needs more than love.

Kiefer Sutherland to Honor Tommy Douglas

Actor Kiefer Sutherland will travel to Weyburn, Saskatchewan this Friday to honor Tommy Douglas, a Canadian socialist icon and father of Canadian Medicare. Sutherland also happens to be Douglas' maternal grandson. Douglas, who died in 1986, will be honored with a statue.

If today's socialists were more like Tommy Douglas I would probably still be one.

But today's socialists are not like Tommy Douglas. Douglas was a pragmatic man who did not view his political opponents as evil. Yes, he was the father of Canada's health care system. But he also looked down upon deficits and debt producing 16 consecutive balanced budgets. Douglas, who was first elected Premier of Saskatchewan in 1944, did not introduce Medicare to Saskatchewan until 1960.

Needless to say, President Obama isn't taking a page out of the Tommy Douglas playbook. And let's hope that he doesn't because conservatives could be in trouble if he does.

Here is what I wrote about Douglas after he was voted "Greatest Canadian" in December 2004.

Gillard Remains Australian PM

The fallout from last month's Australian election has been settled. Julia Gillard will remain as Prime Minister after two independent MPs agreed to back her Labor government.

Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott of the conservative Liberal Party (folks, that's not an oxymoron) contested Australia's closest election in nearly seven decades. The election came after Gillard ousted Kevin Rudd in a palace coup in June. Rudd will have a senior cabinet post in Gillard's administration.

But despite the inclusion of Rudd, the schism between Gillard and the Ruddites is going define Australian Labor politics for years to come. Given the fragility of Gillard's coalition, I think it is a question of when and not if the Ruddites oust Gillard in the same manner. The beneficiary of this chasm will ultimately be Abbott who could enjoy a tenure as Prime Minister as long as that of John Howard.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Greetings from the Tim Buckley Archives

In May 2007, I wrote an article about Tim Buckley who is one of my favorite musicians.

The article coincided with the release by Manifesto Records of the My Fleeting House DVD. It is a collection of his TV appearances in the United States, Great Britain and Holland during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

A couple of days ago I received an e-mail from Buckley's estate asking my permission to post the articles in the Tim Buckley Archives. I was, of course, delighted and honored to do so and you can now find the article posted here. Please also note they have been kind enough to link to the IC main site.

If you have never heard Tim Buckley's music I think you will find it both unique and underappreciated. It is well worth a long listen.

Padres Lose Ten in a Row - Do They Have a Prayer?

For most observers, the team that has been the biggest surprise in Major League Baseball in 2010 has been the San Diego Padres.

Not much was expected of the Padres. I thought they would be a better team this season and picked them to finish third in the NL West behind the Giants and Dodgers. That surely would have been an accomplishment. Indeed, they have already won more games this season than they did in 2009.

But now a third place finish would be a let down. The Padres have been atop the NL West for most of the 2010 season largely on the strength of stellar pitching both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen, sterling defense and the bat of Adrian Gonzalez.

However, the Padres have hit the skids and with their 4-2 loss this afternoon against the Colorado Rockies they have lost ten games in a row. Their lead atop the NL West has been reduced to one game over the San Francisco Giants. The Padres have not tasted victory since August 25th when they defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-3 at Petco Park. Interestingly, seven of the ten losses have taken place at Petco. Prior to this descent, the Padres longest losing streak this season had been three games when they were swept at home by the Dodgers during a weekend series in the middle of May.

Speaking of the Dodgers, they come to San Diego tomorrow evening to begin a three game series. The Padres then host the Giants for a four game series starting Thursday. This coming week could make or break the Padres. Are we seeing one of the most monumental collapses in the history of baseball? Or have they weathered the worst of this storm?

Do the Padres have a prayer?

UPDATE: On Monday night, the Padres snapped their ten game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers and retain a one game lead over the Giants in the NL West. The relief on their faces was visible. But there's still a long way to go.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mona Charen on Palestinian Culture

Mona Charen hits the nail on the head with her piece at National Review Online concerning the latest round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Charen argues the talks are doomed to failure, even if they produce an agreement, because of the inherent anti-Semitism in Palestinian culture. When Palestinians kill Jews they mark the occasion by handing out candies to children.

Palestinian children are taught to hate Jews from the cradle and Hillary Clinton knows it all to well. But onward she and the Obama Administration proceed with this charade.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Congratulations Joe Miller!!!

Congratulations Joe Miller!!!

Alaska finally has a GOP Senate nominee as incumbent Lisa Murkowski has now conceded.

It just goes to show you that you can be outspent 20:1 and still win. Democracy is a lmost ovely thing.