Another cog in the wheel known as the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to combat the Extreme Left-Wing Media.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

2006 Baseball predictions

Sunday night the Cleveland Indians kick off the 2006 Major League Baseball season in Chicago against the same team they started and finished against last year the White Sox. So without further ado here are my predictions for the divisional races this year followed by miscellaneous comments.

AL East - The same two teams have finished first and second in this division for the last 7 years. That should change.
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankes
Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Baltimore Orioles

AL Central - Since the inception of the Central Division, last years White Sox were the first team from this division to win the World Series.
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals

AL West
Oakland A's
(whatever city) Angels
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners

NL East - Owned by the Braves for 14 straight years
New York Mets
Florida Marlins
Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies

NL Central - 6 teams in a division is too many
St Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers
Houston Astros
Pittsburgh Pirates
Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Cubs

NL West - Arguably the weakest division in baseball
San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies

Various random thoughts on the upcoming season. The Yankees are old. Average age of their 25 man roster is 34 years old with Cano the only starter under 30. The Yankees' main off season acquisition was a 32 year old center fielder with a bad throwing arm. Everyone is focusing on the steroid aspect of the new drug policy and ignoring the amphetamine ban. Older teams (Yankees, Giants, etc) will be affected more by the ban as the season goes on than younger teams. Toronto is a trendy pick. However, they spent oodles of money on unproven players one of whom is already on the disabled list. People are praising the White Sox' off season moves, but I think they have taken a major step back. Thome is one of my favorite players, but the difference between him and last years DH's isn't going to make up for the loss of Aaron Rowand. If you need stolen bases in your AL fantasy league look to Detroit and Tampa Bay. Jim Leyland and Joe Maddon will have their teams running the bases aggressively. Kevin Millwood could improve his won/loss record even as he sees his earned run average increase by more than a run. I think every publication is listing the Marlins as the worst team in baseball. I disagree. They may have traded away every veteran, but they got some seriously talented players in return. I predict a slow start and a strong second half. The Royals are a much more accurate selection for worst team in baseball. KC added a couple of nice pieces but their pitching remains awful. Bad pitching equals losing baseball.

AL awards:
MVP: Victor Martinez
Cy Young: Jeremy Bonderman
Mgr: Jim Leyland
Comeback player: Jim Thome (7 homers last year - 40+ this year)

NL awards:
MVP: Carlos Beltran
Cy Young: Zach Duke
Mgr: Willie Randolph
Comeback player: Nomar Garciaparra

Other predictions (I'll add more as I find them):
Chris Lynch
Lee Sinins - If you want to know what's going on in baseball check his site daily.
Don Surber
Baseball Musings
Aaron Gleeman

Denying a problem doesn't mean it doesn't exist

The mayor of Seattle seems to believe that ignoring a problem is the best approach:
Despite seven violent deaths last weekend, the mayor and other city leaders have a reassuring message for the youths who love the all-night music and dancing of the "rave" party scene: Rave on.

The mayor is partially correct when he say that the music isn't to blame. To paraphrase the NRA, music doesn't kill people, people kill people. Having said that the rave scene is obviously a contributing factor. Or more accurately the effects on the brain of ecstacy (the drug of choice for raves) is certainly a major contributing factor.

Sorry Mayor Nickels, but when you took on the position of mayor you were also taking on the role of adult. Adults need to discourage behaviors which harm children.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rep. McKinney assaults Capital Hill policeman

Longtime embarrassment to the people of Georgia, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (M-GA) punched a policeman today for having the audacity to stop her and ask for identification.

Come November I fully expect voters in her district to send her back for another term in the House of Representatives. Her history of anti-semitism has not dissuaded voters in her district. Her outrageous claims that President Bush knew in advance of the events of 11 September 2001 only caused her to lose her seat in Congress for one term. So I don't suspect punching a police officer in the performance of his duties will change their opinion of her. Doesn't that district have anyone who could represent them honorably?

Birds of a feather?

Democrats have a plan this year to run veterans in various races to help overcome their well earned reputation as weak on national defense. One guy they tapped to run is a retired Vice Admiral Joseph Sestak, Jr. So who do they get to speak at a fund raiser for Sestak? Sandy Berger. Yeah that guy. The same guy who stole and destroyed secret documents from the National Archives. We will never know what notes were so embarrassing that Clinton's former National Security Advisor risked prison time to destroy them, but I do know that if I was trying to refute a weak reputation on national security I wouldn't be seen in the same room as Berger let alone have the crook raising money for my campaign.

Not to pick on Berger, but he still hasn't done prison time even though he violated his probation two days after being sentenced . Tell me again why was Martha Stewart locked up?

Sizemore signed to long term deal

Sticking to their plan of locking up good young players, the Indians have called a 11:30 press conference to announce that center fielder Grady Sizemore has signed a six year deal with a team option for a seventh year. Good job. Now get Cliff Lee locked up.

Final roster spots

Spring training is wrapping up and decisions should be coming soon on the final roster spots. Coming into training camp the Indians had very few contested openings for the 25 man roster. I'll run down the position players here and then the pitchers later.

Backup Catcher - Victor Martinez is an All Star caliber returning starter. Kelly Shoppach came into camp as the presumed favorite to win the back up job. However, Shoppach has struggled offensively and Einar Diaz has been hitting like the Einar of a few years ago. Shoppach has a minor league option left, but I expect he will make the team based on superior defensive skills.

Utility IF - Ramon Vazquez and Brandon Phillips are battling for this spot. Vazquez could be an adequate guy to fill in at 2B or SS for a game or two, but if a player goes down he isn't a long term answer. Brandon Phillips is hitting well in camp and probably could play 2B or SS for an extended period. The question with Phillips is can he handle being a bench player? Coming into camp it was assumed that Vazquez would win this contest. Based on Spring performance, I'd give the nod to Phillips. Give him a couple starts a week to keep Boone, Belliard and Peralta from wearing down as the season drags on.

Fourth OF - Todd Hollandsworth entered camp as the presumptive favorite. He hasn't done much to impress in camp. Hollandsworth has a ten year major league track record and it isn't very good. After winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1996 he has done very little to distinguish himself. The last player competing for the outfield is Jason Dubois. While Hollandsworth has struggled to hit .240, Dubois has raked for over .400 with power and appears to have a better understanding of the strike zone than he showed last year. In an upset, I call for Dubois to be the starting RF and let Casey "Strike Three Looking" Blake handle the 4th OF job. Blake can also spell Boone at 3B occasionally.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Card resigns as White House Chief of Staff

Andy Card has resigned as White House Chief of Staff and President Bush has named Josh Bolton as Card's replacement. Time will tell how this will change the dynamics of Washington politics. Hopefully, Card will take some time and get away from it all to decompress from the over five years in an extremely stressful job.

I'm not one who believes there needs to be wholesale changes in the cabinet, but some of these jobs require too much time and devotion to be held for such a long period without taking a toll on someone and their family.

Lyn Nofziger - RIP

Lyn Nofziger who served Ronald Reagan as press secretary and political adviser, died of cancer Monday. He was 81. Nofziger was an exception to the rule among political bigwigs. He took the issues seriously but never took himself too seriously.

National Review Online has a round up of some of his commentary. Here is one.
I keep thinking about the liberal effort to canonize Sandra Day O'Connor as one of the Supreme Court greats. What a joke. She was appointed by President Reagan at the urging of Barry Goldwater as a political sop to feminists. She was not a great legal mind and was not one of Reagan’s better appointments, mainly because she was ruled by her emotions rather than by logic or any particular knowledge of the Constitution. The best thing she has done is resign. For this she deserves our praise.
Lyn Nofziger was a modern enough guy that you can also visit his website for more. You can get a sense of the man's humor from the intro to his blog:
I'm Lyn Nofziger and this is my website.

If you're looking for a female exhibitionist with a digital camera you've come to the wrong place.

On the other hand, if you want some conservative opinion laced with exasperation, an occasional limerick or other piece of doggerel, or are interested in the books I have written you're in the right place. All you have to do is click on "Musings."

The odds are you've never heard of me, which is all right because I've probably never heard of you either, so let me tell you a little bit about myself.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sometimes the lawyer jokes just write themselves

Married lawyer sues eHarmony for refusing to help him find love This dirtbag lawyer is actually suing a dating service for discriminating against married people.

Let the market place sort out complaints of discrimination. If eHarmony's competition caters to potential customers that eHarmony rejects (and they do) they can exploit that advantage to gain the upper hand. Most business discrimination is actually a case of refusing business. In the long term it is counter productive unless it serves another purpose. In eHarmony's case this particular form of discrimination serves to reassure their clientele that potential dates are really available. You wouldn't buy a house if the deed wasn't free and clear without liens would you?

Monday's notes

Condolences go out to the Byrd family as they mourn the passing of Erma Byrd. Erma was married to the longtime senator from West Virginia, Bob Byrd for 69 years.

Here is an article from the Washington Times which looks at Justice Ginsberg's comments about allowing foreign law to influence her decision making. Her comments show she doesn't even have a rudimentary understanding of the separation of powers between the three branches of government. She is clearly unqualified to sit on the Supreme Court.
The sort of analysis Justice Ginsburg describes is not judicial, but legislative. There is nothing in our Constitution that bars members of Congress from looking at foreign laws to see what works and what does not, what reflects American values and what does not. As long as they don't exceed the constitutional limits on Congress' own authority, they may, if they wish, propose legislation mirroring a foreign law to see if they can win a majority for it and persuade the president to sign it.

Burt Prelutsky has a column making fun of those who claim that the First Amendment is being taken away by the current administration.
The other day I was listening to a talk radio show, and heard a caller announce that there’s no freedom of speech in this country, that, because of the fascistic administration in Washington, people are afraid to criticize the government. His proof was that Cindy Sheehan had been rebuked for merely exercising her constitutional right to mouth off against authority figures. The show’s host correctly pointed out that the 1st Amendment guarantees her freedom to speak her mind, such as it is, but that doesn’t in any way curtail the right of other Americans to call her an idiot. What the host didn’t point out was that even as the caller spoke, he was contradicting his own statement. He was freely sharing his own foolish thoughts with millions of listeners.

Liberals have become so accustomed to having only their own points of view disseminated by the mass media that they now believe that any opinion in conflict with their own is an infringement on their right to free speech. So not only do they feel entitled to spout off ad nauseam, but honest disagreement is regarded as censorship!
Prelutsky goes on to explain why he identifies himself as a conservative rather than as a Republican.

Here is another research study which managed to get results that any of us could have told them before they wasted money on it.
MEN are nearly twice as likely to walk away from a failing marriage as to abandon their struggling football team, research has revealed. And the divorce rate would halve overnight if men showed the same commitment to their relationships as they did to their teams, according to a study by psychologist Dr Aric Sigman. He found that around 94 per cent of men said they would never abandon their team, no matter how badly it performed, while 52 per cent would walk away from a relationship that was not working out.
Well, duh.

From Breitbart we get this:
Al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui testified Monday that he and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid were supposed to hijack a fifth airplane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House.
As I read that article I just couldn't believe his attorney let him testify in such an incriminating manner. However, later in the article it says they tried to stop him from testifying but failed. I could be wrong, but I think he is being intentionally inflammatory in his testimony to get the death penalty rather than rotting in a prison cell for the rest of his life.

Loss of an American hero

Medal of Honor recipient Desmond T. Doss Sr. died at age 87 last week.
Doss grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, whose tenets forbid bearing arms. However, when he was called to the draft, the lanky native Virginian declined a religious exemption that would have allowed him to continue working in a shipyard. He served in the Army with the designation of conscientious objector, but he detested that phrase. He preferred "conscientious cooperator."

"I felt like it was an honor to serve God and country," he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in 1998. "I didn't want to be known as a draft dodger, but I sure didn't know what I was getting into."
How many men survived the war to come home and start families because of Doss' heroism? A bunch.
Sent to the Pacific, he saw combat on Leyte and Guam. His actions between April 29 and May 21, 1945, near Urasoe on Okinawa, were cited when he received the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor.

At the time, he was in the medical detachment of the 77th Infantry Division. A battalion of his comrades was fired on by the Japanese as its members scaled a 400-foot escarpment.

Refusing cover, Mr. Doss carried each of the 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the cliff and helped lower them by rope to safety. He continued similar rescue missions over the following days, also tending to the wounded by administering plasma as mortar fire struck around him. During a nighttime attack May 21 near Shuri, he received injuries from a grenade blast. Instead of risking the larger mission, he spent hours nursing his wounds. Seeing a soldier in worse condition nearby, he directed help to tend to that man first. Still in range of enemy fire, he was hit and suffered a compound fracture in an arm. "With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station," his Medal of Honor citation read. "Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers," the citation continued. "His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty."

In October 1945, then-Cpl. Doss received the medal from President Harry S. Truman during a White House ceremony.
A great man. I pray he rests in peace.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturday stuff

Some political & some cultural. Some stupidly funny & some sadly serious.

Oddly they needed to conduct a study to find this out:
The men who were most satisfied with their appearance, and the most appearance-oriented - meaning they were highly invested in their looks and considered appearance to be important - were also the most likely to have sex without condoms and to have sex with multiple partners.
I wonder how much money these idiots spent to figure out that good looking guys were more "successful" with the ladies than average looking guys.

This could come in handy.
LONDON (AFP) - A high-tech alarm audible only to youngsters which has dramatically cut loutish behaviour. The Mosquito emits an irritating high-pitched pulse that most people aged under 20 can hear but almost nobody over 30 can. The Spar grocery shop on Caerlon Road in Newport, south Wales said anti-social behaviour had plunged by 84 percent outside the premises since it was installed earlier this year.

Not only aren't there a lot of Republicans in New York, but the few there who claim to be Republican are pretty goofy.
A Republican challenger to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is bizarrely claiming that the former first lady has been spying in her bedroom window and flying helicopters over her house in the Hamptons, witnesses told The Post yesterday. Former Reagan-era Pentagon official Kathleen "KT" McFarland stunned a crowd of Suffolk County Republicans on Thursday by saying: "Hillary Clinton is really worried about me, and is so worried, in fact, that she had helicopters flying over my house in Southampton today taking pictures," according to a prominent GOP activist who was at the event.

As if bombings and other stupidity wasn't enough, now we find out terrorists considered poisoning beer. That's going too far.

The Toronto Blue Jays pitchers hit five batters from the Indians yesterday. I know it's just Spring training but that's a lot of hit batters. Hey, 8 days to opening night!

Cheney on attack after Dems call Bush 'dangerously incompetent' "Bout time! People wonder about the low poll numbers? Well, if the administration allows the Dems and their accomplices in the media to have complete control of the message that's what you'll get. A VP's job is to say things in a less diplomatic way than a president should. A VP like Cheney with no future ambitions is particularly suited for this role. Get him out speaking more.

Here is something to scare ya

Friday, March 24, 2006

Russia fed U.S. strategic info to Saddam Hussein

This is big!

I've long believed that a key reason for the war was the fact that some nations (France, etc) misled Saddam Hussein into believing they could convince the United States not to enforce the UN sanctions. Now we have this report that says the Russian Ambassador to Iraq was providing Hussein and his generals with U.S. war plans in the early days of the war.
Document dated March 25, 2003

The second document (CMPC-2004-001117) is a typed account, signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hammam Abdel Khaleq, that states that the Russian ambassador has told the Iraqis that the United States was planning to deploy its force into Iraq from Basra in the South and up the Euphrates, and would avoid entering major cities on the way to Baghdad, which is, in fact what happened. The documents also state "Americans are also planning on taking control of the oil fields in Kirkuk." The information was obtained by the Russians from "sources at U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar," according to the document.

Technically, this could be taken as an act of war by a representative of the Russian government. Obviously, we have no intention of going that route, but still this has to seriously affect relations between our countries.

Separately, every effort needs to be made to ascertain the source of the information. The source needs to be hanged as fitting a spy and traitor during war.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Reading past the headlines

Earlier today I saw a headline on Drudge "St. Louis Radio Personality Fired for Calling Condi a 'Coon'..." I immediately thought it was just another racist liberal unable to accept an African-American deciding to be a conservative. I was wrong.
Lenihan was listing what assets Rice could bring to the National Football League, including her tenure as a top academic officer at Stanford University and the fact that she is African-American.

“She’s just got a patent resume, of somebody that’s got such serious skill,” Linehan said on the air. “She loves football, she’s African-American, which would kind of be a big coon, a big coon – oh my God, I am totally, totally, totally, totally, totally sorry for that, OK? I didn’t mean that. That was just a slip of the tongue.” Lenihan later said he meant to use the word "coup."

Reached at home, Lenihan said he was still trying to figure out what happened, and was drafting a letter of apology to Rice. "I was trying to say 'quite a coup' but it came out 'coon,"' he said. "I caught myself and apologized. It wasn't anything I was meaning to say. I never use that word. "I think she's a fantastic woman. I was even talking about if she ran for president, I'd work on her campaign."
So basically the guy got fired for mispronouncing the word coup. Heck, when I use that word I have to mentally remind myself to pronounce it "coo" vice "coop." So the guy who makes a slip of the tongue (Freudian or otherwise) is fired within 10 minutes of his offense but idiots like Ted Rall and others who intentionally attack Secretary Rice in a racist way keep their jobs. Hmmmm?

How inviolate is the "Right to Privacy?"

Our assumption as Americans to a Right to Privacy is derived from the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which reads as follows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
My reason for examining anew the Fourth Amendment is a contentious Supreme Court ruling. The case seems clear to a layman. Police responding to a domestic disturbance find a beaten wife. The wife invites the police in over the objections of her scumbag husband and lead the police to the husbands cocaine. By a 5 to 3 vote the Supreme Court ruled that it was an illegal search. Writing for the majority, Associate Justice David Souter said the search was unreasonable, given the vocal objection of the husband, Scott Randolph. True, Justice Souter said, the court had long permitted one party to give consent to a search of shared premises under what is known as the "co-occupant consent rule." But he said that rule should be limited to the context in which it was first applied, the absence of the person who later objected. "We have, after all, lived our whole national history with an understanding of the ancient adage that a man's home is his castle," Justice Souter said. "Disputed permission is thus no match for this central value of the Fourth Amendment."

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the dissent arguing that the majority missed the point, the fact is that someone choosing to share space has also, already, chosen to share privacy. "Our common social expectations may well be that the other person will not, in turn, share what we have shared with them with another — including the police," he said, "but that is the risk we take in sharing."

I can see both sides. As a homeowner, I believe my home is my castle. However, as a husband, I know otherwise. Oddly enough the sole unmarried justice wrote the argument which only recognized the home is a castle consideration. Even stranger is the fact that Justice Souter voted against homeowner rights in the Kelo case.

Picking on the elites

Baseball long reigned as our national pastime. I don't think any one activity meets the definition of national pastime anymore, but making fun of ivy league schools doing stupid stuff would merit consideration. John Fund of the Wall Street Journal has been looking at Yale's admission of a Taliban ambassador. Today he continues his look at ivy league lunacy.
Something is very wrong at our elite universities. Last month Larry Summers resigned as president of Harvard; today Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi will speak by video to a conference at Columbia University that his regime is cosponsoring. (Columbia won't answer questions about how much funding it got from Libya or what implied strings were attached.) Then there's Yale, which for three weeks has refused to make any comment or defense beyond a vague 144-word statement about its decision to admit Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi--a former ambassador-at-large of the murderous Afghan Taliban--as a special student. . . . .
There is a line beyond which tolerance and political correctness become willful blindness. Eli Muller, a reporter for the Yale Daily News, was stunned back in 2000 when the lies of another Taliban spokesman who visited Yale "went nearly unchallenged." He concluded that the "moral overconfidence of Yale students makes them subject to manipulation by people who are genuinely evil." Today, you can say that about more than just some naïve students. You can add the administrators who abdicated their moral responsibility and admitted Mr. Hashemi.
Decades ago it was the pinnacle of success to send your children to an ivy league school. Today I wouldn't consider letting my kids attend one of those cesspools of indoctrination.

Lying with numbers

Mark Twain once said "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics" He considered statistics as a worse kind of lie because they were more easily accepted as true. I have to believe that if Samuel Clemens were alive today he'd consider polls to be on par with statistics.

From Ann Coulter's column this morning comes this nugget which sums up my views on these polls the media trots out daily saying the presidents approval rating is at another all time low.
Like callers to talk radio claiming to be Republicans angry with Republicans, liberals love to pretend public opinion is always in the process of shifting in their direction. They can't win elections – Democrats have gotten a majority vote in a national election only two times since FDR was president (Lyndon Johnson in '64 and Jimmy Carter in '76). But they're always experiencing an upswing in the polls. Clinton could never get a majority of Americans to vote for him but, according to the polls, as soon as the public found out about his sex romps with Monica, his support shot up to above 80 percent. Bush did get a majority of the country to vote for him less than two years ago. Now we're told 70 percent of Americans hate the man.
Read the rest. She may be over the top occasionally, but she cuts through the bs better than most.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Other stuff for a Tuesday

Less than two inches of snow and they cancelled school. Boo! If it isn't enough for sledding then the kids should be in school.

John Miller of National Review Online sizes up this November's U.S. Senate races. I agree with most of his assessment. However, I'm not optimistic enough to consider New Jersey a toss up. Unless something radical happens between now and November, I don't think the Senate breakdown will change more than one vote either way.

As Hillary Clinton attempts to hold onto the political center, she may be losing the nuts on the left. Susan Sarandon is quoted in this article criticizing Clinton for centrist leanings. Doesn't matter. Clinton knows she needs to appeal to more than the extremists like Sarandon. When it comes to the general election she knows the nuts aren't going to vote for a Republican anyway.

Rich Lowry explains the Democrat strategy of using "Murtha Democrats."
For most of the three years of the Iraq war, the Democrats have been trying to beat something with nothing. Lately, they have been reduced to a fate even worse: trying to beat something with Murtha. John Murtha is the longtime Pennsylvania congressman and former Marine who fits the Democratic party’s preferred political formula on the war. That formula is to say inane or incoherent things, but have a veteran say them on the theory that, then, no one will notice their inanity or incoherence.
Read the rest.

Seems like at least once a week I see an article quoting someone who went to Iraq (either a returning soldier or a touring politician) who declares things are not as bad as the news would lead you to believe. Here is today's.

Job security for Secretary Rumsfeld. Everytime some lunatic calls for Rumsfeld to resign or for the president to fire him I think it makes it far less likely for him to go.

Praise for Nancy Pelosi?

Having heard her speak and knowing her position on issues, I had a very, very low opinion of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and didn't think I would ever use this forum to praise the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. Well, I was wrong. According to the Wall Stree Journal, on at least one issue she gets it (or someone explained it really slowly for her). That issue? The horrendous anti-growth legislation called Sarbanes-Oxley.
In the recent "Innovation Agenda" that the House Democratic leader and her party unveiled, Ms. Pelosi acknowledges specifically the need to "ensure Sarbanes-Oxley requirements are not overly burdensome," and endorses reform.
Okay, maybe she doesn't come right out and condemn Sarbanes-Oxley, but it's a start.

Here is a short primer on Sarbanes-Oxley for those not into business news.
Congress passed this law hastily in 2002 after the egregious accounting frauds at Enron and WorldCom. The intent was to hold publicly held companies and their executives more accountable and weed out bad actors; but that's not been the effect. Four years after passage, it is now evident that the costs of Sarbox clearly outweigh the benefits. Sarbox highlighted the importance of financial transparency and management integrity. And those in the corporate world who break the law should be punished. They are: Over 700 prosecutions have been launched since 2002 to address corporate crimes. Nevertheless, not one conviction was a result of Sarbox. Meanwhile, Sarbox clearly failed to prevent the massive accounting scandal at Fannie Mae.
The problems of ENRON, Worldcom, and other frauds didn't arise because of the absence of more regulation. No, there are two causes of those scandals. Internally, a company must be rife with either corrupt or incompetent executives. Externally, the enforcement arm of the SEC must be asleep at the wheel as it was in the 1990's. Sarbanes-Oxley would be more correctly termed the Accountants Full Employment Act because of its excessive and onerous reporting requirements.

Praise for Nancy Pelosi?

Having heard her speak and knowing her position on issues, I had a very, very low opinion of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and didn't think I would ever use this forum to praise the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. Well, I was wrong. According to the Wall Stree Journal, on at least one issue she gets it (or someone explained it really slowly for her). That issue? The horrendous anti-growth legislation called Sarbanes-Oxley.
In the recent "Innovation Agenda" that the House Democratic leader and her party unveiled, Ms. Pelosi acknowledges specifically the need to "ensure Sarbanes-Oxley requirements are not overly burdensome," and endorses reform.
Okay, maybe she doesn't come right out and condemn Sarbanes-Oxley, but it's a start.

Here is a short primer on Sarbanes-Oxley for those not into business news.
Congress passed this law hastily in 2002 after the egregious accounting frauds at Enron and WorldCom. The intent was to hold publicly held companies and their executives more accountable and weed out bad actors; but that's not been the effect. Four years after passage, it is now evident that the costs of Sarbox clearly outweigh the benefits. Sarbox highlighted the importance of financial transparency and management integrity. And those in the corporate world who break the law should be punished. They are: Over 700 prosecutions have been launched since 2002 to address corporate crimes. Nevertheless, not one conviction was a result of Sarbox. Meanwhile, Sarbox clearly failed to prevent the massive accounting scandal at Fannie Mae.
The problems of ENRON, Worldcom, and other frauds didn't arise because of the absence of more regulation. No, there are two causes of those scandals. Internally, a company must be rife with either corrupt or incompetent executives. Externally, the enforcement arm of the SEC must be asleep at the wheel as it was in the 1990's. Sarbanes-Oxley would be more correctly termed the Accountants Full Employment Act because of its excessive and onerous reporting requirements.

Monday, March 20, 2006

REDS report

This afternoon the Reds traded Wily Mo Pena to the Boston Red Sox today for starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. This is a case of both teams dealing from an area of strength to improve a perceived weakness. I can see this working out for both teams. Arroyo is an underrated pitcher on a relatively inexpensive three year contract. Hate to see Pena go. Since we moved back to the Cincinnati area, Pena has homered in every Reds game we've attended.

Monday's reading

William F. Buckley expounds on the Iranian conundrum. Bottom line there are no easy answers. The best solution in Iran would be the people getting scared by their president's harsh rhetoric and taking over.

Stupid/redundant headline of the day:
Two men die of heart attacks and die during Los Angeles Marathon

Clown of the Day: Richard Belzer claims to know more about the situation in Iraq than uneducated soldiers actually there because he reads 20 extremely biased newspapers a day. (Caution contains swearing - if that bothers you don't click the link)

In sports news, the Dallas Cowboys signed the very talented but equally disruptive Terrell Owens this weekend. Be interesting to see how this works out. My guess is he will have one good season for them and be a big problem if they fall out of the race early.

President Bush will be in Cleveland today continuing his series of speeches on Iraq attempting to counter balance the defeatism from the MSM. Maybe while he is in transit he'll get a chance to read this article from the Wall Street Journal. Fred Barnes looks at the Bush administration and recommends wholesale personnel changes to revitalize the second term. Barnes goes so far it becomes amusing rather than a serious recommendation for improvement.
The president's most spectacular move would be to anoint a presidential successor. This would require Vice President Cheney to resign. His replacement? Condoleezza Rice, whom Mr. Bush regards highly. Her replacement? Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, whose Bush-like views on Iraq and the war on terror have made him a pariah in the Democratic caucus. Mr. Cheney would probably be happy to step down and return to Wyoming. But it would make more sense for him to move to the Pentagon to replace Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, a job Mr. Cheney held during the elder Bush's administration.
Barring a change in health, I don't expect Cheney to step down, but if he did it would be to go fishing not to take a cabinet level position.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Quick links for a Sunday

Busy day today so just a couple quick link for your enjoyment.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has an op-ed regarding progress in Iraq in the Washington Post this morning.
Fortunately, history is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on Web sites or the latest sensational attack. History is a bigger picture, and it takes some time and perspective to measure accurately.

Consider that in three years Iraq has gone from enduring a brutal dictatorship to electing a provisional government to ratifying a new constitution written by Iraqis to electing a permanent government last December. In each of these elections, the number of voters participating has increased significantly -- from 8.5 million in the January 2005 election to nearly 12 million in the December election -- in defiance of terrorists' threats and attacks.

Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette has an article looking at the attack in North Carolina a couple weeks ago and the fear of labeling it what it was - domestic terrorism.

The NCAA Basketball tournament is half way through the second round and my prediction sheet is trash. The were six Big Ten schools in the tournament and Ohio State is the only one left. If Ohio State doesn't win today there won't be a Big Ten school in the Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years.

Spring training gets serious this week as players return from the WBC and teams start making their final roster cuts. Opening night is two weeks from today!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Complete your education in daily doses

Betsy's Page is one of the best reviews of current events and a must read blog on a daily basis. Betsy is a teacher at a charter school in North Carolina, but beyond that she helps the rest of us complete our education through her blog postings. Unfortunately, her blog was taken off-line earlier this week. After several days of working (okay, fighting) with Google her blog is back. Check it out.

Saturday's links

We start with some sad news, Robert Baker the inventor of chicken nuggets has passed away. I hadn't actually thought of nuggets as an invention.

This sounds a bit excessive:
Man severs own penis, throws it at officers
Then some idiot doctor sews it back on. Want to know why health care is so expensive? Because they waste money on idiots like that guy. You don't think for a minute that he paid for the surgery do you? I propose a new rule, you cut it off - it stays off.

On the occasion of Mike "extremely biased" Wallace's retirement, has a collection of his most egregious comments.

How to tell that you're not cut out for politics? When you lose a city council race by a 3 to 1 margin and your opponent is dead. If the voters feel the dead guy will do a better job than you it is not a rousing endorsement.

When you think of pirates usually you think of hundreds of years ago. Well, believe it or not, piracy is still active on the high seas. Just today two of our Navy ships, USS CAPE ST. GEORGE and USS GONZALEZ engaged pirates off the coast of Somalia. Wild. Thankfully, though shots were fired none of our sailors were hurt.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Thursday political reading

David Frum returns from a blogging hiatus and is dead on as always.
When I wrote The Right Man in 2002, I tried to do justice to the president's personality, both virtues and vices. It itemized so many of the faults that have had their cost over the past year: the president's sometimes over-hasty decision-making, his disinclination to ask sufficiently probing questions, his aversion to detail, the overcentralization of decision-making, his often surprisingly poor personnel decisions, his unwillingness or inability to explain himself as fully and convincingly as a president ought. Back then, those criticisms provoked some controversy. But just as back then we needed a reality check against some of the over-worshipful coverage of this presidency, so today we need a reality check against the barrage of often recklessly unjust criticism of everything and anything this administration does.

John Fund on Yale admitting a Taliban "Ambassador at Large" while the regime he represents is still waging war against the United States.
Yale will have more explaining to do to prospective students and their parents late this month when it begins sending out acceptance letters to 1,300 applicants for coveted positions in its undergraduate class of 2010. The highly selective school will also mail out 19,300 rejection letters. "I can't imagine it will be easy for Yale to convince those it rejects that the Taliban student isn't taking a place they could have had," a former Yale administrator told me. Mr. Rahmatullah boasts only a fourth-grade education and a high-school equivalency degree.
Yale should be ashamed. Their actions are on par with admitting a leader of the NAZI party in 1943. Disgusting.

Gotta love Supreme Court Justice Scalia for getting "IT." He knows the role of the judiciary.

How are Muslim planning on taking over Europe? Read here for Oriana Fallaci's take on how Europe is slowly but surely being taken over. Cliff Notes version: Heavy immigration + greater birth rate.

Victor Davis Hanson has a post-mortem on the Dubai Ports World deal.

While the Gang of Fourteen are patting themselves on the back for getting a few stalled judges a vote on the senate floor lets not forget that their are quite a few judicial nominees waiting on an up or down vote in the senate. Bob Novak's column today looks at the 11 nominees waiting for senate action. As a reminder, our local RINO, Sen. DeWine was part of the Gang of Fourteen fiasco. If you want better senate representation, consider DeWine's primary challenger - Bill Pierce.

Lastly, U.S. forces on Thursday launched the largest airborne assault since the U.S.-led invasion, targeting insurgent strongholds north of the capital, the military said. The military said the operation was aimed at clearing "a suspected insurgent operating area" northeast of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, and was expected to continue over several days. Good! If we know where they are operating from we should take them out mercilessly. The insurgents are not dumb enough to fight directly against our forces and will continue to take pot shots at our troops and plant roadside bombs.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Is Blackwell looking for a conflict of interest?

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported yesterday that Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Ohio Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell is part of the group that is buying the Cincinnati Reds. I've been a Blackwell supporter, but will admit that I'm flummoxed by his decision to be involved with a major corporate entity which could have business dealings with the state. I understand that President Bush was a part owner of the Texas Rangers. However, a key difference is Bush was not in government service or running for an elected office at the time.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tuesday's links and comments

Like Murtha calling for abandoning Iraq, Sen. Russ Feingold introduced his resolution calling for censuring of President Bush not wanting an actual vote on the matter. Feingold's desire was to have the resolution debated in the media - not voted on in the senate where he introduced the resolution. Senate Majority Leader Frist called for a vote yesterday upsetting senate Democrats. They don't want to actually vote on their own stupid ideas. Feingold's stunt demonstrates why senator don't make for good presidential candidates.

Here is a quote from Associate Justice Ginsberg from a speech she gave in Toledo which is sure to bother conservatives.
During a question-and-answer session with students and faculty, Ginsburg was asked how long she plans to stay on the court. She said she'll be there as long as she has her health.

"Every day I look at John Paul Stevens who's about to turn 86 and I think maybe I can make it too," she said.

Last month, a group of 55 "Catholic" Democrat congressmen issued a statement defending their peculiar pick and choose method of deciding how to adhere to their faith. In the Wall Street Journal today Joseph Bottum looks at that statement and find it lacking.
All the talk in the "Statement of Principles" about individual conscience is intended really as a demand that Catholics legislators not get beaten up anymore for supporting abortion: "We . . . agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life and the undesirability of abortion," the statement reads, and that word "undesirability" leaves a peculiar taste in the reader's mouth. Abortion, murder, and thermonuclear war are undesirable, it's true. They are even unfortunate and less than optimal. But somehow one wants a little more oomph in the word chosen to describe them.
My own opinion of the statement was to think of this quote from Shakespeare, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Why are lawyers despised?

Just in case you've forgotten why lawyers are held in such low esteem, here is a reminder. Tim Hortons Restaurant chain had a promotion where certain coffee cups would reveal a prize winner. Most cups said "try again." Some cups awarded small prizes like another cup of coffee. The cup matching the grand prize was dug out of the trash by a 10 year old kid. Now there is a lawyer pushing for DNA testing on the cup to prove his client is the rightful owner of the winning cup. Guess what? Even if it was his cup, your client gave up ownership when he put it in the trash. Any 10 year old kid could tell you that.

In a more perfect world, the client and the lawyer would be charged with attempted theft.

Wordsmithing for Secretary Rice

Taking someone else's thoughts and ideas and turning them into a coherent, potentially inspiring speech is never easy. Now imagine that your boss' words will be listened to by nearly every country in the world looking for any evidence of a change in direction of United States foreign policy. Here is an article of a young man who caught the attention of the new Secretary of State and quickly handpicked to be her chief speechwriter.
Christian D. Brose's rise to the heights of Washington speechwriting could have been scripted in Hollywood. A year ago, Brose was the most junior speechwriter at the State Department. When Condoleezza Rice was nominated to be secretary of state after the 2004 election, the then-national security adviser summoned the State Department speechwriting team to the White House for a discussion of her confirmation hearings.
The team went over, not sure they would hold their jobs for much longer. To their surprise, they were ushered into the White House situation room. The conversation meandered and seemed uninspired, Rice aides said, until the 25-year-old Brose shyly raised his hand and offered a suggestion that, for Rice, crystallized her foreign policy themes.

"Who is that young red-haired kid?" Rice asked one of her senior advisers, Jim Wilkinson, as they left the room. "Let's keep an eye on him."

A star was born.

Brose, now 26, was recently named Rice's chief speechwriter. He is responsible for many of the major speeches she has delivered around the world to advance the administration's message of spreading democracy, earning the admiration of Rice's top aides. "Chris can write her voice better than anyone," Wilkinson said. "He's become one of her closest advisers on policy and communications."
The importance of a connection between a public official and their speech writer can not be over estimated.

What were you doing at 26 years old?

Monday, March 13, 2006

The fatigue factor

The Washington Post has an interesting article looking at how fatigue is affecting people in high level jobs. I think this is even stronger for the current administration because of the low turnover in key positions. I believe there have only been 3 cabinet level changes (Education, Attorney General and State) prior to Gale Norton's resignation last week. White House Chief of Staff is probably one of the most stressful positions in any administration and Andy Card is in his sixth year in that job.
In his current role, Card has proved to be a marathon man, capable of enduring the most brutal hours in perhaps the most brutal job in Washington for longer than anyone in modern times. Only one other person has served as White House chief of staff longer, Sherman Adams, the top aide to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a far less frenetic, wired era. And if Card makes it to Nov. 1, he will surpass Adams's record, according to the Eisenhower library.

Card retains enormous respect inside and outside the White House, but some Republicans whisper about his judgment in the ill-fated selection of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court and the handling of Hurricane Katrina, to name two examples. Card declined to be interviewed, but has publicly dismissed concerns that his schedule has sapped his energy.

"All my life I have worked kind of this schedule," he told C-SPAN last fall. "When I was in college, I delivered newspapers early in the morning and worked at McDonald's late at night.
My guess is that his current job is a little more stressful than making sure the newspaper doesn't get wet and that the deep fat fryer is set to the right temperature.

Thoughts from Sunday

Went downtown Sunday for a couple reasons. Kids wanted to see the St. Patricks Day parade and the wife wanted to go to the Home and Garden Show.

The parade seemed lame. Don't know whether the morning rains had depressed the turnout or what but it just didn't seem like much of a crowd. I've watched the parade in a few other cities (Cleveland, Boston, Savannah) and Cincinnati's was easily the smallest and least impressive. A few Irish dancing schools, a little music, floats from a few bars, police and firefighting vehicles and a bunch of politicians. Oddly, they put the vehicles for Schmidt and McEwen back to back. Congresswoman Schmidt walked along side her vehicle shaking hands, but McEwen was a no show. Schmidt seemed nicer in person than her public persona.

The Home and Garden Show? A ripoff! Basically, they get fools (like me) to pay admission to the Convention Center to look at a bunch of advertising. They had one attraction for the guys who were dragged there by their wives - beer. Unfortunately, they were selling the beer at ballgame prices without the ballgame.

An avoidable controversy

Games shouldn't be decided by an umpires mistake. In yesterdays World Baseball Classic game between Japan and USA a controversy developed at a critical junction. With the score tied in the 8th inning, Japan had bases loaded with one out. The batter hit a sacrifice fly to shallow left. The runner at third tagged up and scored. USA appealed to the umpire that the runner left third base early. The first umpire denied the appeal, but was later overruled by the home plate umpire. The replay clearly showed that the runner left after the outfielder caught the ball. With the umpires for this game being Americans it would be easy for Japan to cry foul. To the credit of the Japanese team all their manager, Sadaharu Oh said was "It's a pity that it was overruled." Umpires from neutral countries should have been used for these tournaments. I'm not in any way inferring that these umpires are less than completely impartial. Doesn't matter. The WBC already appeared stacked to favor the United States and bad calls which go our way just confirms the sense that the tournament isn't on an even playing surface.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday reading

Here are some articles to consider on a Sunday morning.

Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks at a headline in the USA Today from earlier this week. The headline, More than 8,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have deserted since the Iraq war began, was factually accurate but misleading. Yes, over the last four years there have been over 8,000 desertions, but without context that number means nothing. The headline would lead one to think people are deserting because of political considerations. Reality is, the number of desertions is actually lower than a similar period of peace time. Crazy Politico noted this earlier in the week. Problem is the people the headline was intended to fool have already been fooled and aren't likely to read the rest of the story. For example, the USA Today headline was passed off as news during Saturday Night Live news segment. For some folks, that's their main source of current events.

This may be a sign that Lynn Swann is gaining on incumbent Ed Rendell in the Pennsylvania governors race.
An angry Gov. Ed Rendell took a tape recorder away from a newspaper reporter during an impromptu interview this week, refusing to give it back for several minutes, according to the paper.

Here is an article that shows how some crooks launder their money thru other political campaigns to exceed maximum contribution limits.

Librarians were asked the question, "Which book should every adult read before they die?" Here are their answers.

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe addresses the myth of the gender gap in voting.
Of the last seven presidential elections, Republicans have won five -- three times with more women's votes than the Democrats. For all the rhetoric about the mighty gender gap -- Democratic strategist Ann Lewis once called it ''the Grand Canyon of American politics" -- Republicans seem to bridge it without difficulty. That's because women aren't monolithic voters, as O'Beirne emphasizes, and they don't march in lockstep to the beat of liberal drums.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

BROWNS update

As the NFL free agency period begins, the Cleveland Browns are finally addressing an area of the team that is usually a hallmark of playoff teams - the offensive line.
The Browns have signed center LeCharles Bentley of New Orleans, the top-ranked player overall in's ratings of unrestricted free agents. The team also reached an agreement in principle with Atlanta Falcons left offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer,'s 26th-rated free agent.
If you can't control the line of scrimmage (and the Browns haven't since being re-born in 1999) you will not be a winning football team. A good offensive line can make a great quarterback out of a good one. A bad offensive line and wouldn't matter who your QB is your team won't win consistently.

I also like the fact that Bentley is a native Clevelander and an Ohio State alum.

Alsip police chief's son charged with running betting ring

It seems like with all politicians, ministers and cops it is just a matter of time before their kid embarrasses the family.
The son of the Alsip police chief illegally arranged tens of thousands of dollars in college basketball bets for Southwest Side Catholic high school students, Cook County prosecutors say. The students were making daily bets -- from $50 to $4,000 a game -- between November 2005 and March 8, 2006, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Russ Baker said during a bond hearing Friday for Daniel Dalzell, 22, of Palos Heights. Two students accumulated about $13,500 each in unpaid gambling debt. And when some students didn't pay their debts, they were threatened with violence. Some students paid as much as $3,000 to $4,000 a week in losses, Baker said.
I have a couple questions. Where did they get the money? And how could the parents be unaware of what's going on?

Setting an example for Saddam Hussein

Former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his cell this morning.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Species believed extinct for 11 million years found at meat market!

Check this out.
It has the face of a rat and the tail of a skinny squirrel - and scientists say this creature discovered living in central Laos is pretty special: It's a species believed to have been extinct for 11 million years.
Now here's the punch line.
Locals call the rodent kha-nyou. Scientists haven't yet a bagged a breathing one, only the bodies of those recently caught by hunters or for sale at meat markets, where researchers with the New York-based conservation society first spotted the creature. Now the challenge is to trap some live ones, and calculate how many still exist to tell whether the species is endangered, Dawson said.
These creatures haven't been seen for 11 million years but they need to count them before they decide if they are an endangered species? If they have lasted 11 million years my guess is they're a pretty resilient critter.

Friday's various links and comments

Howard Kurtz has a column looking at the political scene. He addresses liberal displeasure with current Democrat leadership, the Dubai World Port deal, and various other issues. The funniest thing in the article was when Kurtz quoted some lefty from Salon magazine complaining that Chris Matthews of Hardball was too conservative. This is the same Chris Matthews who is a lifelong Democrat, served on Tip O'Neill's congressional staff and was a speech writer for President Jimmy Carter. If Matthews is too conservative for ya, then you have problems.

Here is an article about a 100th birthday party for a retired New York police detective accompanied by some stats about our aging population.

A week or so ago, I meant to post about Mayor Nagin of New Orleans wearing a military uniform with 4 stars and various ribbons - obviously an honor he has not earned. It is just as well that I didn't as here is an article that addressed it better than I would have. The author, Sarah Smiley knows what she is speaking about, she was excoriated a few years back for wearing her husbands Navy combination hat in a silly picture that got published. A key difference to me anyway is Smiley wasn't wearing the entire uniform and nothing from the picture would lead one to believe she was in the military. Either way Nagin remains a clown.

The Washington Times examines Sen. Schumer's role in scuttling the Dubai port deal.

Gale Norton announced that she is resigning from her position as Secretary of the Interior. This is somewhat surprising in its timing. I expected major changes in Bush's cabinet after he was reelected in 2004 but figured any still in their jobs now would stay on until after the mid-term elections.

Peralta signs 5 year contract extension

Making a move to secure their future, the Cleveland Indians signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a reported 5 year contract extension (plus an option year). I see this as a shrewd move. Pay a little more now to avoid the ugliness of the arbitration process. This is especially important considering the lack of middle infield talent in the Indians minor league system. Next moves should be to sign Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore to similar deals.

Why do they hate us?

After the horrific attacks on 11 September 2001, some of the intelligentsia were more concerned with the question "Why do they hate us?" than with responding to the attacks. Well, the answer to that question might be found in the reaction over the last couple weeks to doing business with an Arab country. As a result of the uproar, Dubai World Ports capitulated and is planning on selling the portion of the deal pertaining to U.S. ports. While a few fools in DC will declare this a victory, the real results of this capitulation will be difficult to measure. The zenophobic reaction of some people and their congressional representatives to doing business with Arabs should give some of the easily influenced enough reason to hate us. There are enough nuts out there looking for anything they can twist to show that America is anti-Arab so they can exploit the uneducated to carry out terrorism. The fear the nuts have had is that we would make in-roads and demonstrate in Iraq and around the Middle East that we aren't so bad. They won't say a few people misunderstood the deal. No, they will play this up as confirmation of their preconceived opinions of Americans. Any progress we have made in the last few years has just been flushed.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Homeowners association fining resident for a "Support the Troops" sign?

Here is a story of a homeowners association threatening the wife of a soldier deployed to Iraq with a $100 a day fine if she doesn't remove a "Support our Troops" sign from her yard.
Stacey Kelley, who has lived in the gated Stonebridge neighborhood in Westchase for about five years, said she hasn't received complaints from other residents since putting up the sign more than three months ago. The red, white and blue ribbon-shaped sign sits back from the street, next to the Kelleys' garage.

How ridiculous can you get. These things stem from writing rules in such a way that doesn't allow for reasonable exceptions.

Is Harris' campaign in trouble?

There are several senate races worth watching this year as the Republicans attempt to maintain their thin 55 to 45 lead (real numbers are actually closer to 50/50 when you consider RINO's like Chaffee). There are a few Republican and Democrat incumbent senators in touch races. There are a few open races to replace both Republicans (Frist) and Democrats (Sarbanes) stepping down from the senate. My own guess is the lead is not likely to change more than 1 or 2 seats either direction. One race to watch is the Florida senate race. Rep. Katherine Harris best known for being the Florida Secretary of State during the contentious 2000 election recount is challenging incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. Today there are two articles which purport to show Harris' campaign is in trouble.

First we have an article about Harris receiving potentially illegal campaign donations from Mitchell Wade. Wade is the defense contractor who bribed Rep. Cunningham who was sentenced last week to 8 years in prison. Harris has donated the contributions to a charity and disavows (of course) any knowledge that the donations were illegal.

Then there is this article which quotes Vice President Cheney talking about that senate race without mentioning Harris by name.
Cheney even provided some fuel when he said he was looking forward to swearing in a Republican replacement for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson -- but didn't mention Harris by name. "As vice president I look forward to the opportunity to swear in a new Republican senator to serve next to Mel Martinez in the United States Senate," Cheney said.
It is possible to read too much into the VP's comments, but don't think for a second that they were completely unintentional. I've never been convinced of Harris' chances. She is a very polarizing figure in Florida politics. Often strong popularity in one congressional district doesn't translate statewide (Sherrod Brown will find this out in Ohio this November).

Bottom line: I didn't have strong hopes of picking up this senate seat and think there is no hope if Harris remains the candidate with lukewarm support from the national Republican party. Harris' only chance is to stick to the issues and strongly make the case that Nelson's senate votes have been wrong on the issues people care about.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Arrest in the Alabama church fires

The Associated Press is reporting that two young men have been arrested and a third person is being sought in the string of church arsons that destroyed or damaged nine rural churches in Alabama last month.

It'll be interesting to hear what motivated these crooks.

To quote Matt Drudge
- DEVELOPING! (Sorry, I don't have a flashing blue light)

UPDATE: There are now three people arrested in this case. All three are college students who say it started as a joke and just got out of hand. I guess I just have a different sense of humor because I don't get the joke. Reports I've seen say they will not be charged with a hate crime since the burned down both predominantly white and predominantly black churches. That just demonstrates the stupidity of "hate crime" legislation. These crimes (like most crimes) were definitely hateful acts. Prosecute criminals for their actions. Don't prosecute differently based on a perception of their motive.

The forgotten victims

Every murder has a primary victim - the person killed. We often, however, forget about the rest of the victims - the family and friends of the victim. Here is the story of a mother whose daughter was killed in the London subway bombings. She is a minister and is stepping down from her position as Vicar because she has realized that she is unable to forgive the man who killed her daughter. I hope the power of prayer will help her find peace.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Barry Bonds exposed?

The number of times an athlete is on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine is a measure of ones stature on the sports scene. Pete Rose would brag about being on the SI cover more than any other baseball player. My guess is Barry Bonds would rather have one less cover to his credit than see this one.

The cover accompanies a very unflattering article which details how Bonds bulked up after seeing the attention showered on Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa during their chase of Roger Maris' home run record. There is no way of knowing how much of this story is true, but the damage is already done. The allegations in the article fit everyone's perception of Bonds. The sad thing is he didn't need to bulk up. He was already a great player with 3 MVP awards to his credit. He would have easily gone into the Hall of Fame with a solid reputation for combining speed and power like no one before him.

Elections have consequences

In the past year conservatives arguing for confirmation of federal judges have used the mantra - "Elections have consequences." That saying also has meaning in our relations with other countries. First, the Palestinian Authority elected a terrorist entity, Hamas to lead them and we responded by cutting the purse strings. Now Bolivia is upset that we are cutting military aid to that country.
Morales, a coca farmer who once described his socialist movement as a "nightmare for the U.S.," said the U.S. military told Bolivian military chiefs last week the country was no longer seen as a suitable partner in the war on terrorism. "Because we don't accept vetoes or the change of a commander, blackmail comes from the U.S. armed forces," Morales was quoted as saying, referring to perceived U.S. interference in the Bolivian military.
I am no fan of foreign aid handouts, but if we are going to give out money it should come with strings attached. Elect an anti-American socialist nut job and we will be less inclined to train your military and not likely to consider your country a reliable asset in the war on terror. Did Morales actually think we were giving his country the aid because we like them?

Leadership on the Supreme Court

I don't want this to be taken as criticism of the late chief justice, but a couple recent Supreme Court rulings strike me as being evidence of strong leadership by Chief Justice Roberts. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Solomon Amendment was Constitutional. That means colleges which accept federal funds must allow access to the campus to military recruiters. A week ago, the court also was unanimous in ruling that abortion protesters don't meet the requirements of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.

It is obviously too early to make any judgments about the Roberts led court, but it is a nice start. People may assume each justice decides on a case on their own. That is far from the truth. Justices are influenced by many factors, their background, research by clerks, and yes actual debate among justices. Leading and directing the debate is where a strong chief justice can exert influence. The Warren Court is best remembered for the unanimous decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. Warren's ability to build a consensus leading to the unanimous ruling gave that decision much greater acceptance than a split decision would have. Personally, I've been dismayed by the many 5-4 or 6-3 decisions. Something is either clearly Constitutional or it isn't. Split decisions leave me feeling the case may have been decided by a different metric than constitutionality by some of the justices.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Kirby Puckett Rest in Peace

I just heard on the radio that Kirby Puckett has passed away. He was 44 years old, way too young to go. He was a joy to watch play baseball. I send my condolences to the Puckett family and Twins fans.

Baseball Musings has a round up of links to Puckett memorials.

From a Twins fan (T. Scott Brandon) come these trivia tidbits about Kirby:

It is with a very heavy heart that I send out this memorial...

Which Hall of Famer hit a game-winning, 11th-inning home run off of
Charlie Liebrandt in game 6 of the 1991 World Series?

He was the first player to be awarded a contract for $3,000,000 per

He was the last player to win three consecutive hits titles, and one of
only three AL players ever to have done it.

He was the MVP of the 1993 All-Star Game.

He scored a run on Dave Winfield's 3,000th career hit.

He hit for the cycle during the game in which Bert Blyleven recorded his
3,000th career strikeout.

Blyleven said of him, "I could see how much he loved playing the game of
baseball. His enthusiasm rubbed off on all his teammates including me.
It was fun being his teammate."

He got his chance as a Major Leaguer when Jim Eisenreich was unable to
continue playing due to the effects of Tourette's Syndrome.

He collected more hits in his first 10 years in the Major Leagues than
any other 20th Century player (2,040).

He set the AL record for most hits in back-to-back 9-inning games, with
10 (8/29-30/1987).

He was the only post-expansion player in the 20th Century to collect six
hits in a game more than once (8/30/1987 & 5/23/1991).

Randy Bush potty trained his son by saying, "This is the way [he] does

He hit home runs on the first pitch of back-to-back games against the
Tigers in 1986 (5/2-3/1986).

He was the last player to hit for the cycle for the Twins.

He was the first player to hit 30 home runs in a season after having
previously gone an entire season (minimum 500 AB) without hitting a home

He was engaged to be married later this year.

The last pitch he saw in a regular-season game shattered his cheekbone,
yet he was adamant that the pitch, thrown by his friend Dennis Martinez,
was not at fault in his retirement.

As Spring Training, 1996 drew to a close he carried a .360 batting
average and seemed ready for the season to begin.

The next morning he woke up with blurry vision and was diagnosed with
Glaucoma, which cost him the sight in his right eye.

At his retirement press conference he observed, "I was told I would never make it because I'm too short. Well, I'm still too short, but I've got 10 All-Star games, two World Series championships, and I'm a very happy and contented guy. It doesn't matter what your height is, it's what's in your heart."

When he retired, he had attained the highest career batting average
(.318) for a right-handed batter since Joe DiMaggio.

I was fortunate enough to be on the field during his retirement ceremony, at which the Twins presented him with (among other things) a complete collection of his baseball cards, which I had assembled as a gift from his fans.

In his Hall of Fame induction speech he observed, "I've said it before and I'll say it again: it may be cloudy in my right eye, but the sun is shining very brightly in my left eye."

Also in his induction speech he advised, "I want you to remember the guiding principles of my life: You can be what you want to be. If you believe in yourself, and you work hard, anything, and I'm telling you, anything is possible."

His Hall of Fame plaque reads, in part, "A six-time Gold Glove winner who patrolled center field with elegance and style, routinely scaling outfield walls to take away home runs. "

He regularly hosted an 8-ball (pool) challenge during the off-season to
benefit Minneapolis-area charities.

Only Lou Gehrig, Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente were elected to the Hall of Fame at a younger age.

He is generally regarded as the most popular sports figure ever in Minnesota.

He was most often seen on the field with a big smile on his face, and was recognized as one of the most joyful players in the game.

The television reports of Puckett's passing list his age as 45. has his birthdate as 14 March 1961 which would make him 44.

Is our relationship with Pakistan souring?

Watching President Bush's facial expressions while speaking to Pakistan's President Musharraf I wondered if there was a problem between the two men. I chalked it up to the fatigue of travel and forgot about it. Well, I wasn't the only one to notice that Bush actually seemed to glare at Musharraf. Here is a lengthy article which looks at how some of Pakistan's recent actions (or in most cases - inaction) has strained the relationship.
Even before embarking on his tour of South Asia, Bush had many warm words of praise for Musharraf in the media interviews given and statements made by him at Washington. He even referred to Musharraf as his buddy. What happened between his departure from Washington and his arrival in Islamabad, which led to this change in attitude?

Reliable sources in Pakistan and Afghanistan attribute this to the briefings on the ground situation in Afghanistan, which Bush received in Kabul on March 1 from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his officers, as well as from American military officers.

Since the beginning of this year, Afghan Army and intelligence officers had been openly criticizing Pakistan for helping the Taliban to stage a comeback in Afghanistan, for giving sanctuaries to Mullah Mohammad Omar and other Taliban leaders and cadres in Pakistani territory and for providing them with training and arms assistance. The Afghans also pointed out that the majority of the suicide bombers in Afghanistan since the middle of last year were Pakistani nationals.
Problem with the Pakistan situation is President Musharraf is not in complete control of his country and never has been. His government and military are rife with Al Qaeda and Taliban sympathizers. I'm not sure he could really help us even if he was inclined.

Pope Benedict gets an iPod

It seems that even at 78 years old, the Pope is more hip than I am. I wouldn't know what to do with an iPOD if I had one.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cunningham sentenced to 8 years

Maybe I'm a hardass, but this ain't enough.
Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham began his first day in prison after being sentenced to eight years and four months for taking $2.4 million in homes, yachts and other bribes in a corruption scheme unmatched in the annals of Congress.
To be honest, I'd be saying his sentence wasn't long enough even if twice as long. When our country was founded public service was a privilege - an opportunity to ensure the countries limited government was well managed. It was never intended to be a career and definitely not intended to be used as a vehicle to extort money from individuals wishing to do business with the government.

I wonder if his sentence was reduced because a convicted pedophile (since pardoned by Carter) testified on his behalf.

As a former Navy guy, I'm even more appalled by Cunningham's crimes. He is a retired Navy captain and was a heroic pilot during the Vietnam war. He brings shame on our branch of service.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Grover Cleveland reconsidered

Other than Lincoln, most of our presidents of the second half of the 19th century have been relegated to historical footnotes. If you asked 100 Americans about Grover Cleveland, of the few who would recognize his name, the main thing they would remember is he is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. Besides knowing he was a Democrat from Buffalo, New York, most of what I knew of Cleveland was either negative or trivial. I knew he had an illegitimate child which Republicans made a campaign issue. I knew he had paid someone to take his place when he was drafted by the Union Army (that was legal during the Civil War). After reading more about Cleveland I believe he was a very underrated president. An article today from National Review Online describes Cleveland as the original "Compassionate Conservative." The article discusses Cleveland vetoing an aid bill that was intended to alleviate suffering in Texas from an extended drought.
The year 1887 was a tough year in Texas. Day after day brought hot, dry winds that parched the land. Farmers saw their crops wither and their cattle grow weak from thirst. Spirits faltered as desperate Texans prayed for rain, seemingly to no avail. Eager to help (at least with other people’s money), congressmen pushed through a bill to provide federal aid in the form of seed, but one man stood in their way — America’s 22nd president, Grover Cleveland. At a time when the federal budget boasted a large surplus, he vetoed the bill.

What kind of man could say no to free seed for his salt-of-the-earth brethren in distress? Was Cleveland, son of a Presbyterian minister, a cold, cruel and heartless Scrooge? Could this be the same man who once taught at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind and cultivated a passionate, lifelong devotion to helping the sightless? Yes indeed, one and the same. But the president was no mean-spirited miser. He simply knew what almost no one in Congress today understands: He knew the decisive difference between government and everything else. If he were alive to witness the tragic antics of Federal Emergency Management Agency in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he might be sorely tempted to say, “I told you so.”

In his veto of the Texas Seed Bill, Cleveland warned against a general disregard of the “limited mission” of the federal government. He didn’t think Congress or the president should torture the Constitution until it confessed that disaster relief was among the responsibilities of Washington, D.C. He felt that the country should heed the time-honored lesson that, as he put it, “Though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people.”

The welfare-statists of our time have saddled us with $8 trillion in debt, a federal tax burden seven or eight times that of Cleveland’s day, and a legacy of handout programs that have yielded little more than dependency and dysfunctional families. Billions in corporate welfare have exacted a similar toll on American enterprise. Cleveland tried to tell us that government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and that a government big enough to give us everything we want is big enough to take away everything we’ve got. But somewhere along the way we fooled ourselves into thinking that government can help our brothers and sisters better, more quickly, and more cheaply than we can help them ourselves. What a sorry mess of pottage we’ve mortgaged our children’s future for.

Cleveland didn’t say no to drought relief because he thought hurting farmers didn’t deserve relief. He urged Americans in general and members of Congress in particular to give from their own hearts and personal resources. His veto message noted, “The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune.” Aid from Washington, D.C., he wrote, only “encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.”

Those farmers in Texas got their aid, all right — as much as 10 times or more in private assistance as the amount that Cleveland refused to launder first through a federal bureaucracy.

As the Katrina recovery continues, the federal government will do what the federal government does best. It will talk, squawk, and pontificate. It will hold hearings, point fingers, and proclaim its good intentions. It will learn nothing and change little, for that is the nature of the beast and a big reason our Founders wanted it kept small and constrained in the first place. It will, as one of Franklin Roosevelt’s cronies once said, “tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect.”

I suspect that meanwhile, in spite of the mind-numbing hurdles that big government puts in their way, the real heroes will be quiet folks who help their fellow citizens by what they give and by what they build. Grover Cleveland told us we could count on them because they, at least, have never let us down.
After reading that article, I came to the conclusion that Cleveland was more of a fiscal conservative than the current resident of the White House.

(H/T The Ohio Conservative)

Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic

Yesterday, the Indians won their first meaningless Spring training game 5 to 2 with assistance from the Astro's defense. Also the first games in the World Baseball Classic were played overnight. Japan crushed China 18-2 and South Korea beat Taiwan 2-0. I was able to watch the last couple innings of the Japan/China game this morning and was really struck by the difference between the two teams. The all-star team from Japan could be very competitive in the major leagues while the Chinese team looked like it would struggle against average college teams.

It will be interesting to see how much the WBC affects major league teams in preparing for the regular season. Like most teams, the Indians will lose several players who will go play for their home country. I'd be more concerned about starting pitchers than position players since pitchers need a set routine to build up their arm strength. So I'm glad none of the Indians starters are participating. One positive from position players taking off for the WBC is back-up players and minor leaguers invited to Spring training will get more at bats than normal. In the Indians case our starting shortstop, second baseman and catcher are all playing in the WBC. Their absence will give Ramon Vazquez, Brandon Phillips and Lou Merloni more at bats in their fight over the utility infielder job. For Phillips this could be his last chance to prove he can live up to the hype.

Hopefully the lesson learned from this inaugural WBC is to hold the tournament after the season instead of during Spring training.

Now this is ironic

This is funny but also sad. A psychiatrist who rose to prominence for claiming old video tapes demonstrate that President Reagan was suffering from diminished mental ability (Alzheimers) as early as 1980 is back in the news. Why is he in the news? Turns out he is the reason we all get the scam Nigerian emails.
A renowned psychiatrist lost up to $3 million over 10 years to a Nigerian Internet scam, his son alleges in a lawsuit. Dr. Louis A. Gottschalk, an 89-year-old neuroscientist who works at the University of California, Irvine medical plaza that bears his name, acknowledged losing $900,000 to "some bad investments," according to court papers. Guy Gottschalk filed a lawsuit last month asking a judge to remove his father as administrator of the family's $8 million partnership. He alleges his father destroyed bank records to cover up his losses.
The only reason they send those emails is because they work occasionally. Sounds like an ugly case of bad karma. What is better evidence of diminished mental capacity, speech patterns or giving millions of dollars to crooks that sent you an email? Hmmm?

Seriously though, this situations are something families need to watch for before problems arise. With an aging population and a rapidly changing technology it is difficult to keep up with the various financial scams targeting the elderly. The illegal ones make the news but there are many legal "scams" people need to be aware of before they (or their parents) get ripped off. The old rule of "if it sounds too good to be true . . . " should be kept in mind.

Friday's news and links

Lots of news tidbits on a Friday morning.

What do ya know, Illinois' governor names a someone from a virulently anti-Semitic and racist organization to a Discrimination and Hate Crimes Commission and Jewish members of the commission resign in protest. Who could have seen that coming?

As he reaches his 75th birthday, Mikhail Gorbachev is attempting to rehabilitate his reputation. While well regarded away from home, his reputation suffered considerably in Russia due to the fact that things weren't exactly smooth after the Soviet Union broke up. In related news, he still doesn't like Boris Yeltsin.

Have you heard of MySpace? My Space is a website mostly used by high school students and young adults to stay in contact. Often people make comments (sex, alcohol, drugs, etc) that they probably wouldn't if they understood that their comments might be read by unintended eyes (parents, teachers). Here are two stories which show how adults are struggling with addressing concerns that accompany these websites. First a school in California suspended 20 middle school students for viewing a students MySpace page which advocated violence to another student. Then you have a Michigan teacher suspended over a student-produced broadcast warning about the dangers of these personal webpages which was deemed to be too graphic. Bears watching.

Two kids sneak out of school early and drink enough vodka to kill themselves. What is a parent to do? Of course sue the school district (which really means sue their neighbors since that is where the money comes from). Fortunately, this jury wasn't dumb enough to turn this tragedy into a lottery ticket. The story doesn't say where the vodka came from, but I'm fairly certain it wasn't from the school.

Sadly, we have the story of a man who retired from the Navy after 23 years only to get killed by a suicide bomber in Pakistan while serving with the U.S. Consulate. Senior Chief Foy thank you for your service, rest in peace, shipmate.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another reason to home school

Here is a story of a Colorado teacher ranting against America and capitalism and getting caught by a student with a tape recorder.

Before my kids get scared, no I'm not seriously considering homeschooling. However, people from either end of the political spectrum should be very concerned about teachers interjecting political opinion in a classroom. We appropriately hold teachers up to our children as authority figures, so students end up giving greater weight to their opinion than maybe they ought to.

Michelle Malkin has the entire transcript.