Friday, April 29, 2011

Trump Deploys F-Bombs

During a speech last night in Las Vegas, Donald Trump uttered the f-word on several occasions and in a variety of ways. I will not repeat them here.

Perhaps Trump's choice of words is an indication he isn't going to run after all. Then again that might be wishful thinking on my part. If Trump does run and persists to speak in this boorish manner it will only help President Obama.

Or let me put it to you another way. Could you imagine Ronald Reagan dropping an F-bomb at the Brandenburg Gate?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thoughts on William & Kate

While I have no intention of waking up at 4 a.m. to watch the nupitals of Prince William and Kate Middleton I do wish them well.

At the risk of judging a book by its cover, Kate Middleton's smile is pricelessly radiant and could light up the darkest of nights. If she is anything like her smile then I would say William has married well. In which case it will probably be better than being King of England.

Buckingham Palace Takes a Stand Against Syria

Today, British Foreign Secretary William Hague withdrew Syrian Ambassador Sami Khiyami's invitation to tomorrow's Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. In light of Syria's recent actions against unarmed civilians, Hague deemed Khiyami's presence at the festivities to be "unacceptable." For its part, Buckingham Palace concurs with Hague's decision stating "it is not considered appropriate for the Syrian ambassador to attend the wedding."

So there you have it. The British monarchy has taken a stronger stand against Syrian tyranny than has the Obama Administration.

Oklahoma sends affirmative action ban to the ballot

Thanks to the efforts of Ward Connerly, Jennifer Gratz, and others speaking out against race and gender preferences for making this happen. The constitutional amendment easily passed the legislature and will be placed on the ballot in 2012.

From Tulsa World

House Joint Resolution was presented by Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton (pictured to the right), in the absence of House author Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle. Shannon, a man of African and Chickasaw heritage who is angling to become the state’s first black speaker of the House, said he believes that Affirmative Action has failed.

“I believe discrimination exists,” he said. “I don’t think Affirmative Action has been as successful as we like to believe.”

Read the rest of the article

I Guess This Means Superman Won't Be Voting in 2012

Well, the love of America no longer tugs at Superman's cape. In the 900th issue of Superman, The Man of Steel renounces his American citizenship.

Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken this long.

In December 2003, when Superman was re-released to comemorate its 25th anniversary, I attended a screening in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When Superman told Lois Lane he stood for "truth, justice and the American way" the theater broke out in laughter. It is worth remembering that in the 2006 film Superman Returns, The Caped Crusader stood only for truth and justice.

Then again it is probably just as well. Joe Shuster, the man who first drew Superman, was Canadian.

Trump: Buffoon Yes, Racist No

The liberal media has apparently now decided that Donald Trump is a racist.

Bob Schieffer of CBS News accused Donald Trump of racial malice for calling for the release of President Obama's collegiate grades. The veteran CBS correspondent and host of Face the Nation said, "That's just code for saying he got into law school because he's black. This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing. We can hope that kind of comes to an end too, but we'll have to see."

The New York Times has got in on the act as well with its latest editorial:

There was a price to the party for keeping the issue alive; inevitably, it was picked up by a cartoon candidate, Donald Trump, who rode birtherism directly to the prime-time promontories of cable TV. The Republican establishment began to wince as it became increasingly tied to Mr. Trump's flirtations with racial provocation, and Karl Rove told him to knock it off. Naturally, he did not.

Finally, his taunting and the questions of television correspondents obliging Mr. Trump got on the president's nerves. Mr. Obama was tactically smart to release the certificate and marginalize those who continue to keep the matter alive. It is tragic that American politics is fueled by such poisonous fire. Mr. Trump quickly moved on to a new fixation, questioning Mr. Obama's academic credentials. Mr. Boehner, and other party leaders, have a new reason to call a halt to the politics of paranoia and intolerance.

From the outset, I have been very critical of Trump on the birther question and have repeatedly called him a buffoon. Yet calling Trump a racial provocateur is a sure sign of intellectual laziness and descends the depths of disingenuousness. Trump has been a prominent public figure for decades. If he bore racial animus it would showed itself long ago. As misguided as Trump was to focus his attention on Obama's birth certificate, liberals are making the mistake of assuming that his criticism of President Obama is motivated solely by race.

With this in mind, how exactly is it "the politics of paranoia and intolerance" to ask President Obama to release his academic records? George W. Bush, Al Gore and John Kerry released their academic records. Why is it then unreasonable to demand the same of our current President?
Now there's no doubt that Trump is baiting Obama. But he isn't race-baiting. Trump isn't going after Obama because of the color of his skin but because of its thinness. After all, Trump now has Obama on the defensive. At this point, Trump would be a fool if he didn't demand that President Obama release his academic records.

Donald Trump can be called many things. A racist isn't one of them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stop the Presses!!! Obama Born in U.S.A.

The White House has released President Obama's long-form birth certificate.

I sincerely hope this matter will finally be put to rest. Yet I suspect that some people won't accept that Barack Obama was born in the United States regardless of the evidence supplied. C'est la vie.

As for Donald Trump, one could argue that he made something out of nothing. On the other hand, I suspect Trump will take full credit for this disclosure and say that if not for him the White House would have never made the documentation public. His potential candidacy for the White House could gather even more steam.

Well, perhaps now we will be able to address the small matter of our national debt.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Hope Jeffrey Lord is Right

I sincerely hope Jeffrey Lord is right when he says that President Obama will not be re-elected.

I don't discount the idea that the seeds have been sown for Obama's defeat. Yet it remains to be seen if those seeds will blossom. After all, the election is still more than 18 months away and it is simply too soon to write Obama's political obituary. I believe we lull ourselves into a false sense of security by adopting a mindset which cannot and will not consider the possibility Obama could win in 2012. Obama might not be competent at governing but he is more than competent when it comes to organizing people and money. Moreover, Obama will have most of the media in his corner once again. While we conservatives should plan for victory we should also plan for defeat. All possible outcomes must be considered including ones not to our liking. The worst thing you can do is to underestimate your opponent especially one that previously prevailed over you.

It is undoubtedly interesting to see both Lord and Eric Alterman compare President Obama to Jimmy Carter. But if Obama is going to be likened to the Man From Plains then I think one ought to ask where is Obama's Ted Kennedy? If a Democrat were to challenge Obama in the caucuses and primaries I would be far more inclined to agree with Lord's declaration. A formal challenge to Obama within the Democratic Party would reveal some very deep schisms over his agenda. While President Obama has been criticized from the Left on various matters I don't think the disenchantment is such that Democrats are prepared to ex-communicate The Anointed One. At least not yet.

After Carter was defeated by Reagan in November 1980, The New York Times concluded, "On Election Day, Mr. Carter was the issue." If Mr. Obama is the issue in November 2012 then Lord's prediction will come to fruition. But as we all know at lot can happen between now and then which could cast President Obama in a positive light. And even if that doesn't happen then his allies in the media will see to it that the light shines on him brightly regardless of our state of affairs.

I am not making the argument that President Obama can't be defeated. He most certainly could. But this is hardly the time to be running a victory lap when we have yet to reach the starting gates.

Thoughts on Katie Couric

Today, Katie Couric formally confirmed what we have known for weeks - she's leaving the anchor chair at CBS News. Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes is expected to be named her successor possibly as soon as next week.

Aside from being unable to lift CBS News out of the doldrums, Couric will be remembered for her Sarah Palin interview which Palin herself admits wasn't her finest hour.

Yet when I think of Couric's tenure at CBS News I think not of her interview with Palin but rather with the former Alaska Governor's Democratic vice-presidential rival Joe Biden. This was the interview in which Couric asked Biden if he had to be "uber careful" while on the campaign trial. Biden not only said that he didn't need to be careful but also told Couric that Franklin Delano Roosevelt went on television to talk to Americans about the 1929 stock market crash despite the fact FDR was neither President nor had TV been invented. And neither Ms. Couric nor the liberal media batted nary an eyelash. Of course, if Palin had made such a faux pas we would have never heard the end of it. Under those circumstances, Couric probably would have asked Palin to name FDR's Secretary of the Treasury. But in this case it's just Biden being Biden. So he gets no scrutiny. Nor do I think Couric would have made fun of Biden's children.

Of course, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter who sits in the anchor chair at CBS News or for that matter at ABC or NBC. They along with CNN, MSNBC, PBS and NPR will close ranks in support of President Obama. So perhaps in 2012, Biden will tell Scott Pelley how Woodrow Wilson went on radio to address the nation following the sinking of the Titanic.

Phoebe Snow, 1952-2011. R.I.P.

Singer and guitarist Phoebe Snow passed away today due to complications of a stroke she suffered last year. She was 58.

Snow had a monster hit in 1975 with a song she wrote called "Poetry Man". She also recorded a gospel inspired duet with Paul Simon called "Gone at Last." Snow seemed on her way to superstardom. However, later that year, she gave birth to a daughter named Valerie who was severely disabled and required round the clock care. Instead of institutionalizing her daughter, Snow opted to take care of her at home on her own which she did until her death in 2007. Although music took a back seat Snow did sporadically record music and perform. At the time of her brain hemorrage, Snow was recording an album and planning to go on tour.

Here's Snow performing "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)" with Linda Ronstadt on a 1979 episode of Saturday Night Live.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Could Canada End Up With a Socialist PM?

Canada's election is one week away and the story of the election campaign Jack Layton and his New Democratic Party (NDP). (And yes, I used to be a member of the NDP.)

At the beginning of the campaign, the NDP was an afterthought. However, after strong performances in both the English and French language debates, Layton and the NDP have surged in the polls bumping the Liberals out of second place. The NDP has done particularly well in Quebec where it has rarely won seats. This unexpected development has the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and even the governing Conservatives are now directing their attention towards the NDP.

Should the NDP finish with the second most seats in the House of Commons it would be the first time that has happened in its fifty year history. Becoming the official opposition would be precedent in its own right. But if Stephen Harper and the Tories once again fail to secure a majority of seats there is a chance that Layton could become Canada's first socialist Prime Minister. Of course, Stephen Harper and the Tories would get first crack at forming another minority government. However, Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff today indicated he would be willing to work with Layton even if it means Layton gets the keys to 24 Sussex Drive (the Canadian equivalent of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.) Ignatieff's willingness to work with the NDP hasn't prevented him from calling the NDP platform "science fiction" and "amateur." But I guess Ignatieff will accept the NDP's science fiction and amateur approach if it means he becomes Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Of course, a week in politics is a lifetime. It's more than enough time for Canadian voters to have second thoughts about handing over the reins to the NDP. Given that Ignatieff has now given Layton his blessing it gives Harper a chance to paint the NDP and the Liberals with the same brush.

Should Jack Layton and the NDP take the lead in Canada's next Parliament I think they will learn the hard way that governing isn't easy, that most of their prescriptions are impractical and they will soon be overwhelmed by the task before them. In short, Jack Layton would be the Canadian version of Barack Obama.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thoughts on Marriage & Child Abuse

Joe Lawler draws our attention to an article written by W. Bradford Wilcox, Executive Director of The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, concerning the correlation between cohabitation and child abuse.

Wilcox argues that children who raised in homes by a mother and a boyfriend are more likely to suffer physical, sexual and emotional abuse than children who are raised by married biological parents. He writes, "In other words, one of the most dangerous places for a child in America to find himself in is a home that includes an unrelated male boyfriend - especially when that boyfriend is left to care for a child by himself."

To support his argument, Wilcox cites several studies including the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect which was submitted to Congress in January 2010 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Administration for Children & Families, Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation.

With all due respect to Wilcox he paints an incomplete picture. While it is true that the report concluded children were more suspectible to abuse in a household headed by a single parent with a cohabiting partner than with married biological parents it is far from the only factor contributing to child abuse. Indeed the HHS report also states that children are vulnerable to abuse if they live in households with low socioeconomic status, are in households with four or more children and if the perpetrator has trouble with alcohol/substance abuse as well as mental illness. Wilcox makes no mention of these and other factors. He leaves one with the impression that a child who lives with his mother and boyfriend is in imminent danger and can only be saved if his caregivers exchange vows.

So let's say you have a household where a child is living with his mother and her boyfriend and the boyfriend physically abuses the child especially after consuming large quantities of alcohol. Does anyone honestly think the abuse will disappear if the boyfriend were to marry the child's mother?

Those of you who are reading this post ought to understand from where I am coming. After I moved to Boston I took a job with the Child At-Risk Hotline which operates the after hours emergency service for the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (then known as the Massachusetts Department of Social Services.) My job consisted mainly of taking reports of child abuse and neglect from both mandated and non-mandated reporters.

I probably wrote over a thousand of these reports during my time there. Some of the reports I took involved a mother and boyfriend while others involved married couples. Some of the reports I took involved poor families while some involved rich families. Some of the reports I took involved white families while some families were African-American, Hispanic or Asian or a combination thereof. While child abuse is more likely to occur in some families than in others one's marital status, economic status or race does not immunize families from the ugliness of child abuse.

The suggestion that unmarried parents are the cause of child abuse in this country at the exclusion of all other factors is excessively simplistic. It not only unfairly paints unmarried parents with a broad brush but also trivializes the serious matter of child abuse.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Obama & The Electoral Map

John Guardiano wonders if President Obama is poised to win re-election next year based on Larry Sabato's latest analysis of the electoral map.

What is most interesting to me with regard to the electoral map are the states that Obama won in 2008 that were won by Bush in 2004 (Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida). Demographic trends notwithstanding, I am not sure anyone can operate on the assumption that Obama will retain all of those states. One cannot also operate on the assumption that Obama will retain states that have voted Democratic in recent elections namely Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and especially Wisconsin.

Unseating an incumbent President is never an easy task especially when no primary challenger has come forward. But it won't be an insurmountable one if the economy should regress or if another disaster (economic or otherwise) strikes and Obama isn't equal to the task. Should that be the case it will only be a question of the American electorate feeling comfortable enough with the Republican candidate. Then again if Trump opts to run as an independent and splits the anti-Obama vote then all bets are off.

Still just viewing it from the perspective of an electoral map I think it comes down to those thirteen states.

Could This Be Why The Cubs Are Cursed?

Although the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series in 1908 they continued to field good teams winning seven National League pennants over the next four decades. It is believed that the Cubs misfortune began prior to the Game 4 of the 1945 Series against the Detroit Tigers in what has become known as "The Curse of the Billy Goat."

William "Billy Goat" Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, brought his goat Murphy to Wrigley Field and was refused entry into the ballpark. Sianis was so enraged he proclaimed the Cubs would never win again until the goat was admitted. The Cubs lost that game and the Series have not been back to the Fall Classic since.

But now questions have been raised as to whether the 1918 Chicago Cubs threw the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. The Chicago History Museum recently came across a deposition from Eddie Cicotte, one of the eight members of the Chicago White Sox who were banished from Major League Baseball for throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Cicotte and the others would be forever known as the Black Sox.

In any case, according to the deposition given by Cicotte in 1920, the idea for throwing the World Series came because a member or members of the 1918 Cubs had been offered $10,000 to do so. If it's true then perhaps this is the reason the long suffering Cubs haven't won a World Series in over a century.

However, I think all of this is rather unlikely. Now I don't discount the possibility gambling interests approached a member or members the Cubs to throw the World Series but I don't think they went through with it. If the Cubs had thrown the 1918 World Series how could it have been kept secret for over 90 years? The undoing of the 1919 Black Sox was that those involved (whether they played or betted) couldn't keep their mouths shut.

There are many reasons the Cubs haven't won since Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House but I don't think this is one of them. There are other more compelling reasons such as their "college of coaches", trading Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio or Leon Durham's wickets. It hasn't stopped me from picking the Cubs to win it all this year.

Elisabeth Sladen, 1948-2011. R.I.P.

Elisabeth Sladen, the actress best known for playing Sarah Jane Smith on the long running British science-fiction TV series Doctor Who and more recently in The Sarah Jane Adventures, died on Tuesday of cancer. She was 63.

Sladen joined the cast of Doctor Who in 1973 and stayed for three and a half years playing first alongside Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker, the Third and Forth Doctors, respectively. She reprised the role on several occasions but a guest appearance in 2006 with David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor) proved so popular that she was offered her own series The Sarah Jane Adventures which debuted on the BBC the following year. The Sarah Jane Adventures was geared towards younger viewers and ended up bringing her a new generation of fans. It availed her of the opportunity to work with Matt Smith who plays the current Doctor.

My earliest memories of Doctor Who were in the late '70s. On Saturday nights, TVOntario would broadcast old episodes and the first episodes I remember seeing featured Pertwee as the Doctor and Sladen as Sarah Jane. Admittedly, I was a casual fan of the show but my older brother Ezra became a Who devotee and remains one to this day. I am sure he will be devastated by this news. Goodbye Sarah Jane.

His First Fuld Season

I enjoyed reading Larry Thornberry's piece on Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Sam Fuld who is making the most of his opportunity.

I remember seeing Fuld play with the Cubs during the 2009 season and was impressed by his spectacular defense. He also hit .299 that year. But I think the emergence of Tyler Colvin in 2010 severely cut into Fuld's playing time and when he did play last year, he didn't hit.

So the trade to Tampa Bay was in his best interests and with Manny Ramirez's sudden retirement, Fuld now has the opportunity the play everyday. Barring injury, he will enjoy his first full season in the majors. Or should I say his first Fuld season?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dodger Doldrums

Today, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced that MLB would be taking over the day-to-day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Selig is expected to name a steward to oversee this task in the next several days.

This move comes only days after Dodgers owner Frank McCourt received a $30-million loan from FOX (which previously owned the team) to meet the Dodgers' payroll.

McCourt has been embroiled in a bitter divorce which has frittered away at his fortune and has thrown the storied franchise into chaos. It is believed that McCourt is in debt to the tune of $400-million.

Of course, this could have happened to the Boston Red Sox. McCourt, who is a native of Brookline, Massachusetts, tried to buy the Red Sox a decade ago. The Sox, of course, were instead purchased by John Henry and Tom Werner. So MLB definitely made the right call on that one.

Still, it is a shame to see an organization like the Dodgers in this sorry state.

Trump in '07: Bush Should Talk to Ahmadinejad

To read this post please check out The American Spectator.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mike Leake Springs a Leak

Yesterday, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake was arrested for shoplifting less than $60 worth of t-shirts from a Macy's Department Store in downtown Cincinnati.

This incident is bewildering. After all Leake is earning a salary of $425,000 which doesn't include a $2 million signing bonus. At the time of his arrest, Leake had $250 and two credit cards on him. So clearly his motive was not financial nor does he have any previous involvement with the criminal justice system. It would appear this behavior is quite out of character. Nevertheless he put himself into this situation.

What is interesting about Leake is that in 2010 he became the first player in a decade to make his major league debut without having played in the minors. Leake, who pitched collegiate ball at Arizona State University before being drafted by the Reds in 2009, was considered "a finished product." Much was made of Leake's maturity. A decade ago, Leake played on the same little league team as Washington Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg. In those days, Leake was a catcher. When Strasburg had a rough game it was Leake who tried to console him.

So what the heck made him do it? Was it just for the thrill and excitement? Or was it a cry for help? Assuming it's the latter I couldn't tell you why Leake needs help. But if he does need help I hope he gets it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thoughts on Patriots' Day

Today is Patriots' Day which commemorates the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord in 1775. This holiday is observed only in Massachusetts, Maine (which was part of Massachusetts until achieving statehood in 1820) and in Wisconsin public schools.

In this part of the country when people think of Patriots' Day they are more inclined to think of the Boston Marathon and morning baseball at Fenway Park. Indeed, the first Red Sox game I ever attended took place on Patriots' Day. The beginning of the American Revolution tends takes a back seat.

I think the events of April 19, 1775 are every bit as important as July 4, 1776. Patriots' Day ought be a national holiday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Steigerwald Still Doesn't Get It

A few days ago, I took John Steigerwald, a former Pittsburgh sports anchor, to task for blaming Giants fan Brian Stow for the attack he endured following opening day at Dodger Stadium. Stow remains in a medically induced coma. Steigerwald was, in fact, subject to a great deal of criticism for his position and deservedly so.

Today, he issued a half-hearted apology. While Steigerwald expressed regret for causing Stow's family any pain he blames the internet for the response he received to his article. Steigerwald said he had not receive one complaint until the article went viral two days after it went to print. But why did the article go viral? Because what Steigerwald had to say about Stow was so vile.

If Steigerwald was truly sorry he would accept full responsibility for his words and not blame it on the internet. The web might have disseminated Steigerwald's words to a wider audience but it doesn't change the fact that Steigerwald still wrote them. Steigerwald writes, "Nowhere in my column did I suggest Brian Stow deserved the beating." But then why would Steigerwald entertain asking Stow why he thought it was a good idea to wear a Giants jersey to a game at Dodger Stadium if he didn't think Stow deserved the beating or at the very minimum invited the attack? Steigerwald still doesn't get it and probably never will.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Changing Fenway Park Experience

I enjoyed Larry Thornberry's review of John W. Ferguson's Why Fenway:Exploring the Red Sox Mystique. As someone who has attended more than 70 games at Fenway since 2000 perhaps what is most amazing is how much it has changed over the past decade.

The changes, of course, began after John Henry and Tom Werner took over the club in 2002. It is worth remembering that there was talk by Red Sox ownership in the late 1990s and early 2000s about building a new Fenway. There was strong community opposition which coalesced into a coalition called "Save Fenway Park." Even Ralph Nader got in on the act.

All talk of a new ballpark stopped once the Henry/Werner group came into the picture. They were committed not only to preserving Fenway Park but enhancing it. Red Sox President Larry Lucchino estimates the team has spent "about $285 million" renovating the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. The most obvious changes were the addition of seats above the Green Monster in left field and the construction of the right field pavilion. The additions have been so seamless it's as if they were always there. But a lot of the changes that have been made aren't visible to those who watch Red Sox games on TV. There have been significant renovations to the concourses and concession areas. When I first went to Fenway those areas were like a dark, overcrowded basement. And heaven help you if you were there during a rain delay. Today, the lighting has improved and it is much easier to move about the ballpark.

Of course, there's always room for improvement. For instance, the seats in the grandstands were constructed at a time when the average American male was 5,6 and 140 pounds. Let's just say it can be a tight fit. Nevertheless, Fenway Park is a national treasure. The same, however, cannot be said of the Red Sox thus far in 2011.

Regime Change if Necessary But Not Necessarily Regime Change

I must say I was quite amused with John Tabin's assessment of President Obama, French President Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Cameron's efforts to "clarify" the mission in Libya. Tabin writes, "The military operation isn't designed to topple the dictator, but the military operation will continue until the dictator is toppled."

When I read that I was reminded of MacKenzie King. For those of you who are unfamiliar with King he was Canada's longest serving Prime Minister despite having a reputation for eccentricity which often involved seeking advice from his dead mother and dog. When King met with Adolf Hitler in 1937 he described the Fuhrer as "one who truly loves his fellow man and his country."

But I digress.

Canada was deeply divided over conscription of soldiers during the First World War. King was thus eager to avoid similar domestic discord during the Second World War. When King would be asked about conscription he would reply, "Conscription if necessary but not necessarily conscription."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thoughts on Barry Bonds' Verdict

As you probably know by now a jury convicted Barry Bonds of obstruction of justice this afternoon. However, the jury could not come to a verdict on the three perjury charges.

Last week, the feds dropped one of the perjury charges against Bonds. A hearing is scheduled for May 20th. Bonds' defense team is going to try to persuade the judge to set aside the guilty verdict. I wouldn't be surprised if this was successful. But if it isn't then Bonds could be sentenced that day. At most, he probably would spend a few months in a minimum security facility or be placed under house arrest. The feds wouldn't have much to show for their efforts which began eight years ago and took three and a half years to bring to trial.

The greatest punishment Bonds could receive would be from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Next January, Bonds is eligible to be selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Even if Bonds' conviction is overturned I suspect the BBWAA would mete out their own punishment and not vote Bonds into the Hall - on his first try at least. However, it can be argued that Bonds had Hall of Fame career before the time he began to be suspected of taking steroids. As such they might not leave him out of Cooperstown indefinitely.

Hamilton Blames Third Base Coach For Injury

Yesterday afternoon Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton broke his arm sliding head first into home plate during a game against the Detroit Tigers. The reigning American League MVP is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

Here is what led to the injury. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre hit a foul ball which Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge and catcher Victor Martinez converged upon with Inge catching the ball. While Inge and Martinez were converging on the ball, Rangers third base coach Dave Anderson noticed that no one was covering home plate. So Anderson told Hamilton to run home. Unfortunately, not only was Hamilton injured but he was also called out at the plate. The Rangers lost the game 5-4. To complicate matters Hamilton has publicly blamed Anderson for his injury:

It was just a stupid play. I definitely shouldn't have done it. I listened to my third-base coach. That's a little too aggressive. The whole time I was watching the play I was listening. [He said] 'Nobody's at home, nobody's at home.' I was like, 'Dude, I don't want to do this. Something's going to happen.' But I listened to my coach. And how do you avoid a tag the best? By going in headfirst and get out of the way and get in there. That's what I did.

Now if Hamilton had scored on the play and hadn't been injured, Anderson would have been praised for engineering a heads up play. Of course, things didn't work out and now Anderson is being second guessed both by the team's star player and by the baseball media. I sincerely hope the Rangers don't fire Anderson because it would not only send a message that it's okay to disrespect authority but that there are one set of rules for your superstar and one set for everyone else.

Of course, I understand Hamilton is upset that he got hurt and will now have to miss a significant portion of the season. But if Hamilton had a beef with Anderson he should have handled it with him directly inside the clubhouse, not with the nearest reporter. In the long term, I don't think the Rangers will be adversely affected on the field. After all, Hamilton missed nearly all of last September due to a rib injury and yet this didn't prevent the Rangers from reaching the post-season and winning the AL pennant. Despite yesterday's loss to the Tigers, the Rangers 9-2 record is the best in MLB. Still, Hamilton's response leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I hope Hamilton reconsiders what he has said and apologizes to Anderson both publicly and privately.

UPDATE: After a night's sleep, Josh Hamilton remains unrepentant. Hamilton told reporters this morning, I threw him under the bus by telling the truth about what happened." As of this writing, Hamilton has still not spoken with Anderson.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Defense of Sarah Palin (Again)

In assessing the odds of prospective Republican aspirants actually making a run for the White House, Ross Kaminsky describes Michele Bachmann as "Sarah Palin with brains and real-world experience."

Where do I begin?

Well, let me start by stating that Kaminsky's remark is disrespectful, demeaning and unbecoming. Am I making the argument that Sarah Palin is above criticism? Absolutely not. Kaminsky is, of course, entitled to believe that Palin is not the best alternative for the GOP to put up against President Obama. Fine. But surely there is a difference between disliking Palin's policies or public speaking style and calling her stupid.

Now perhaps Kaminsky is of the opinion that working on a commercial fishing boat doesn't constitute real-world experience. But if Palin is so devoid of intellect then how come she worked her way from being a small-town councillor to small-town mayor, a state oil & gas commissioner to state governor, to vice-presidential candidate in a little over fifteen years? If Palin had no brains then how come she made Time Magazine's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World? Sarah Palin has brains and real-world experience in spades and both qualities will be put to use in one way or another in the 2012 election.

Besides it wasn't Palin who stated that the first shots of the American Revolution were fired in Concord, New Hampshire. Nor for that matter was it Palin who claimed FDR went on television to address the nation about the stock market crash in 1929. Nor did Palin ever say she had travelled in all 57 states "with one more to go."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gbagbo Captured

Today, forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara have taken Laurent Gbagbo from his home and into their custody. It is not clear if Gbagbo was arrested by French troops or by Ouattara's forces but it is clear the French played some role in facilitating Gbagbo's capture.

Gbagbo was President of the Ivory Coast for more than a decade until losing an election last fall to Ouattara. However, Gbagbo refused to cede power. I guess this means Ouattara will soon take office.

Of course, it isn't so cut and dry. Last week, Roger Kaplan wrote an excellent analysis of the conflict at The American Spectator in which both sides have blood on their hands. The Ivory Coast gained independence from France more than fifty years ago but has struggled since the death of its first leader Felix Houphouet Boigny in 1993. In its simplest terms, the southern part of the Ivory Coast is loyal to Gbagbo and is predominantly Roman Catholic while the northern part supports Ouattara and is predominantly Muslim.

Perhaps the best possible means to avert a full scale civil war would be to partition the country along these lines. It will be interesting to see what happens when Southern Sudan formally secedes from Sudan and becomes an independent nation in July. If things work in Southern Sudan (and it is a big if) then perhaps it could serve as a model in alleviating further conflict in the Ivory Coast.

WSJ Declares Victory For The Tea Party

The Wall Street Journal put out a solid editorial this morning in support of last Friday's budget deal between Congress and the White House:

Yes, we know, $39 billion in spending cuts for 2011 is less than the $61 billion passed by the House and shrinks the overall federal budget by only a little more than 1%. The compromise also doesn't repeal ObamaCare, kill the EPA's anticarbon rules, defund Planned Parenthood, reform the entitlement state, or part the Red Sea. On the other hand, the Obama-Pelosi Leviathan wasn't built in a day, and it won't be cut down to size in one budget. Especially not in a fiscal year that only has six months left and with Democrats running the Senate and White House. Friday's deal cuts more spending in any single year than we can remember, $78 billion more than President Obama first proposed. Domestic discretionary spending grew by 6% in 2008, 11% in 2009 and 14% in 2010, but this year will fall by 4%. That's no small reversal. The budget does this while holding the line against defense cuts that Democrats wanted and restoring the school voucher program for Washington, D.C. for thousands of poor children. Tom DeLay-the talk radio hero when he ran the House-never passed a budget close to this good.

This deal, of course, has come under criticism in conservative corners. Andy McCarthy at National Review Online was completely unimpressed:

The only thing Boehner won is future assurance that GOP leadership can safely promise the moon but then settle for crumbs because their rah-rah corner will spin any paltry accomplishment, no matter how empty it shows the promise to have been, as a tremendous victory.

While the WSJ doesn't address McCarthy directly they do respond to general conservative disenchantment with Boehner by stating "conservatives are misguided if they think they could have done much better than Mr. Boehner, or that a shutdown would have helped their cause." The editorial concludes with the WSJ raising The Tea Party's hand in victory as it is able to "take credit for spending cuts that even Mr. Obama feels politically obliged to sell as historic."

I don't think conservatives got everything they wanted out of this deal but I do think they got more than crumbs.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

60 Minutes Not Up To The Second on Albert Pujols

I enjoyed Bob Simon's profile of St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols on tonight's edition of 60 Minutes. As Simon correctly noted, Pujols has not hit below .300, hit fewer than 30 homeruns or driven in fewer than 100 runs in his first ten big league seasons and is the only player MLB history to do so.

However, what Simon did not mention is that Pujols is off to slow start in 2011. In nine games, Pujols is batting only .143 (5-for-35) with one homerun and 4 RBI. This includes an 0-for-5 performance today against the San Francisco Giants.

I am sure Pujols will soon return to form. Perhaps he is pressing because his contract is up at the end of the year.

Only in Canada

As you may know Canadians will vote for a new government on May 2nd.

When there is an election campaign in Canada, everything else pretty much takes a back seat. Well, almost everything. This coming week there are two debates scheduled between the leaders of the four political parties - one in English and one in French. However, the French language debate which is scheduled to take place on Thursday night coincides with Game 1 of the NHL playoffs between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins.

Gilles Duceppe, leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, has called for the French language debate to be moved to the previous night so that Canadians (Quebecois or not) can watch the playoff game. The governing Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP) appear amenable to moving the debate.

Only in Canada.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sidney Lumet, 1924-2011. R.I.P.

Director Sidney Lumet died yesterday of lymphoma. He was 86. Lumet received four Academy Award nominations as Best Director for 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network and The Verdict.

Although he never won an Oscar he did receive an honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2005. He also directed films such as Murder On The Orient Express, The Wiz and Prince of the City. Lumet directed his last film, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, in 2007.

My favorite Lumet film of all is Serpico starring Al Pacino.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Manny Ramirez Retires

While listening to the Red Sox-Yankees game on the radio this afternoon, I learned that Manny Ramirez had abruptly announced his retirement. Ramirez had signed with the Tampa Bay Rays this off-season.

In five games with the Rays, Ramirez had gone 1-for-17 with one RBI. Major League Baseball announced that Ramirez had failed a drug test for a performance enhancing substance during spring training. Ramirez could have faced a 100-game suspension. In 2009, while a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ramirez was suspended for 50-games for a positive test.

In 19 big league seasons, Ramirez collected 2,574 hits, had a .312 lifetime batting average, hit 555 career homeruns, and collected 100 or more RBI a dozen times. Ramirez also won an American League batting title in 2002, named to a dozen AL All-Star teams and played in four World Series - two with the Cleveland Indians (1995 & 1997) and two with the Boston Red Sox (2004 & 2007). He was named the 2004 World Series MVP.

But Ramirez also had a history of mercurial behavior, unreliability and disrespect towards the teams for whom he played. The very worst of this were his actions during his final days with the Red Sox during the middle of 2008 season which I wrote about in great detail.

Will Manny ever see Cooperstown? A lot of it will depend on how the baseball writers treat Barry Bonds when he becomes Hall of Fame eligible next year. Some argue that Bonds "pre-steroid" offensive output are sufficient for him to warrant inclusion. The same argument could probably be made for Ramirez. But if Bonds doesn't get in then Ramirez won't either. And even if the baseball writers do vote Bonds in one could also make the argument he, unlike Ramirez, never tested positive or at the very minimum tested positive when steroids and performance enhancing substances were banned by MLB.

Red Sox Finally Win

Red Sox Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief this afternoon as the Sox found their way into the win column for the first time in 2011 with a 9-6 win over the New York Yankees in their home opener at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox had got off to their worst start since 1945 with an 0-6 start having been swept by both the Texas Rangers and the Cleveland Indians. Now even the best teams have bad weeks. But with a lineup that includes David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis plus newcomers Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford nobody expected this out of the gate. Maybe some homecooking was just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Captain Beefheart & Tammy Wynette Together At Last

Today, the Library of Congress announced its 25 new additions to the National Recording Registry.

Amongst the recordings the Library of Congress plans to preserve are Tammy Wynette's signature song "Stand By Your Man" and Captain Beefheart's landmark album Trout Mask Replica.

It is interesting to note that Trout Mask Replica was released less than a year after "Stand By Your Man." The diversity of great music that was recorded in the late 1960s is absolutely remarkable. However, I think it is safe to say that this marks the first and only time Tammy Wynette and Captain Beefheart will be mentioned together in the same sentence. But who knows? Perhaps Wynette is standing by Don Van Vliet in music heaven.

Will Bonds Be Acquitted?

Barry Bonds' defense team must be pretty confident because they rested without calling any witnesses to the stand. Their confidence is no doubt also buoyed by the fact that the federal government dropped one of the perjury charges against MLB's all-time homerun leader.

It would not surprise me in the least if Bonds is acquitted on the four remaining charges (three counts of perjury and one for obstruction of justice.) If the feds had a better case against Bonds it would not have taken them nearly three and a half years to bring the case to trial. Closing arguments are expected to take place tomorrow. I expect a swift verdict.

Peter Beinart Has a Point

John Podhoretz takes issue with Peter Beinart's assertion that President Obama will be re-elected in 2012 "because, well, incumbents usually win." To read the rest of this post please visit The American Spectator.

How to Know Paul Ryan is on to Something?

You know Paul Ryan is on to something when Paul Krugman calls his proposed budget "ridiculous" and "megalomaniacal."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goldstone: Israel Did Not Target Civilians in Gaza

On Friday, The Washington Post published an article by Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist whose UN report excoriated Israel for deliberately targetting civilians in Gaza during its defensive operation there from December 2008 to January 2009.

Well, now Goldstone states Israel did no such thing and if he knew now what he knew then his report would have drawn a different conclusion. While I suppose I ought to praise Goldstone for being willing to admit he was wrong. Yet I am troubled as to how he could have ever believed that it was Israel's policy to wantonly kill Palestinian civilians. Of course when one spends any amount of time amongst UN apparatchiks one is suspectible to believe any aspersion cast against Israel at face value.