Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Random Links and Comments for 30 April

Starting with the positive, here is a story of good sportsmanship we can all take to heart.

Justice Scalia On The Record. That link provides the transcript to the 60 Minutes interview of Justice Scalia by Leslie Stahl. What I really like about Scalia (beside the fact that he normally agrees with me) is he speaks in such a way that almost anyone should be able to understand. To get a better understanding of how polarizing the left finds Scalia, there are 146 pages of comments that follow the CBS story. I didn't have the stomach (or time) to read all 146 pages, but in what I did read there wasn't one supportive of the justice's originalistic point of view.

It is not often you find stories that where one answers the other as quickly as the following two. First Bob Novak penned "For Pro-Choice Politicians, a Pass With the Pope" which talked about how some former Catholics were able to prominently receive Holy Communion during the Masses celebrated in National Park and Yankee Stadium. Novak specifically called out Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York for specifically inviting the wayward politicians. Turns out Cardinal Egan had already specifically criticized Rudy Giuliani for presenting himself for Communion in violation of a previously private agreement between the cardinal and the former mayor.
Egan says he had "an understanding" with Giuliani that he is not to receive the Eucharist. The Catholic Church teaches "that abortion is a grave offense against the will of God," Egan said. The cardinal said Monday that Giuliani broke that understanding when he received the Eucharist during Pope Benedict XVI's visit earlier this month. He received Communion during the April 19 service from one of the many clergymen who offered the sacrament.

Egan says he will be seeking a meeting with Giuliani "to insist that he abide by our understanding."
Good for Cardinal Egan. There is considerable confusion about the whole excommunication thing. The church doesn't need to issue a proclamation declaring someone excommunicated. No, each individual Catholic understands if they have abandoned the faith. You don't present yourself for Communion if you are not in a state of grace. Separately, I'm a little ticked off that with limited seating for the papal Masses in DC and NY that pro-abortion politicians were even invited. The Washington arch-bishop couldn't find practicing Catholics to invite instead of Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi??? Those three and others have consistently and publicly rejected the church's position on the sanctity of life and they don't rate a front row seat to see the Pope!

I doubt anyone this is considering living in San Francisco, but here is one more reason to avoid that area of the country:
San Francisco residents, already facing some of the highest housing prices and parking fines in the nation, now have a new nightmare to watch out for - $100 tickets if their garbage or recycling cans can be seen from the street.

Speaking of San Francisco, here is a laugh from last week, Cindy Sheehan is challenging in the Democratic primary for Nancy Pelosi's congressional seat. What makes this funny is Sheehan's reason for running is she believes Pelosi is too moderate or conservative. Only in San Fran could an extreme liberal like Pelosi be considered unacceptably conservative.

To win in November Sen. Obama needs more headlines like this:
Obama's chances rest on the average, regular folks not thinking he is beholden to the race baiting poverty pimps like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. On the other hand, Sharpton and Jackson (and of course Wright) know that an Obama victory would undermine their "It's All About Race" argument that they have used to line their pockets for decades. So, don't be surprised to see some of these characters continue to undermine Obama's campaign.

Here is a scary headline:
Expert: U.S. population to hit 1 billion by 2100

A couple months ago Roger Clemens sued his former trainer for defamation of character because the guy gave testimony during the Mitchell Investigation. As these thing often turn out, Clemens suit is actually resulting in a spotlight shining on his life that is going to tarnish his reputation much more than if he had not sued. Here is the latest in the slow trickle of negative info coming out.

Here is a scary thought for those who feel the senate has become too populated with self-important blowhards.
The possibility of the host of MSNBC's "Hardball" Christopher Matthews, running against Senator Specter of Pennsylvania, a Republican, for Mr. Specter's senate seat in Pennsylvania is intensifying.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Almost enough to make one nostalgic for Fidel

People hoped that when communist dictator Fidel Castro ceded control of Cuba to his younger brother it might lead to reforms in the oppressive country. Anyone with knowledge of Raul Castro laughed at the prospect. Turns out the pessimists were proven right.
The government of Raul Castro cracked down on a group of peaceful women protesters known as the “Ladies in White.” These women are the wives of men arrested in a political crackdown in 2003 that landed 75 Cuban dissidents in prison on charges of working for the U.S. government. Fifty-five remain in jail.

The women had staged a sit-in next to Havana’s Revolution Square to demand that Raul Castro release their relatives. The women, some of whom sustained bruises and scratches, were forcibly loaded onto buses, driven home by police, and warned against participating in further protests.

The “Ladies in White” earned their name by marching silently every Sunday along Havana boulevard dressed in white. One of the founders, Miriam Leiva, told the press, “We were born out of government repression and we have no particular political agenda. Our objective is purely humanitarian, to free the prisoners of March 2003.”
For all his faults, Fidel Castro knew enough to ignore these ladies. Their previous protests didn't get much if any mainstream news coverage. Raul Castro's crackdown will be viewed as a sign of what direction he will take Cuba.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Obama has some more supporters

After embarrassing moments courtesy of his minister and other supporters, Sen. Obama has to be concerned about the potential baggage of his supporters. Here are a couple more supporters that should give him pause but likely won't.
Outspoken documentary film-maker Michael Moore Monday endorsed Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama, decrying the "downright disgusting" campaign tactics of Hillary Clinton.
Wow, that's a rousing endorsement.
Former US President Jimmy Carter declined to endorse either candidate on the eve of Pennsylvania's Democratic primary but strongly hinted that he supported Illinois Senator Barak Obama. "My little town of Plains voted for Obama, and as you know my state of Georgia voted for Obama, and all of my children, all of my grandchildren, and all of their spouses are for Obama... That's as far as I've gone."

Carter said he has already made his decision but would not announce it until at least June 3, after the last primaries have been held. But he said "it would be unlikely, to put it mildly, that the super-delegates would reverse a decision that had been made on the popular vote, the number of states, and the delegates."
To win in November Obama will need to shed the extreme liberal/radical image that plays well in Democrat primaries but turns off regular folks in the general election. Being endorsed by a film maker who is vocally anti-gun rights and proponent of Fidel Castro style communism doesn't help. Then you have Jimmy Carter, arguably the worst president ever, who just made another foreign policy undermining trip to the Middle East where he met with Hamas terrorists and reverently laid a wreath at the grave of his old terrorist buddy - Yasser Arafat. If there is anyone Obama should avoid comparisons to it is former president Jimmy Carter. When he left office in 1981, Carter was considered an inept but decent man. His first few years out of office he did charitable work with Habitat for Humanity and people kindly labeled him the best ex-president. He must have gotten bored building houses and decided to stick his nose in foreign affairs during the last couple administrations. Instead of being considered a kindly old man who does charitable work he is now seen in a very different light. At best he is thought to be extremely naive in accepting at face value the word of his various buddies (dictators, communists, and terrorists). At worst he is a bitter old fool and an anti-Semetic racist. Either way Carter is not the example of Democrat president Obama should want voters remembering when they enter the voting booth in November.

If Republicans could arrange it they would set it up for Carter and Moore to sit together at the Democrat National Convention. Oh, that's right. They did sit together at the 2004 convention. Any bets on whether that was a net gain or loss for Kerry?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Crime Even Celebrities Don't Get Away With

Today, Wesley Snipes learned a tough lesson. Tax evasion is the one crime that celebrity status doesn't get you a "Get out of Jail Free" card for committing. Snipes was sentences to three years in prison for failing to pay his taxes.

O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake have taught us that celebrities are not liable for murder. Ted Kennedy showed us how the extremely rich get away with manslaughter. Dozens of other rich and/or famous people have avoided punishment for their various misdeeds.

However, there is an offense that Al Capone, Leona Helmsley, Pete Rose and others could have told Wesley Snipes not to commit - tax evasion. Leona Helmsley famously said "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." Problem is little people sit on juries. While little people can excuse minor offenses like murder, they will not overlook refusal to contribute to the public dole. Politicians are well aware that little people are easily influenced by talk of solving all problems by taxing the rich. Prosecutors also understand that it is easy to anger little people by convincing that isn't paying their taxes.

I imagine lots of folks reading about this story are wondering about the accuracy of their own recent returns. That is the difference. The government has an interest in obtaining these convictions. Regular folks are convinced to be fairly honest on their tax returns by seeing a high profile person rot in prison. I don't need O.J. or Ted Kennedy in prison to convince me not to commit murder. However, Wesley Snipes going to jail will cause many folks to double check their math.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

GOP VP Sweepstakes - UPDATE

After John McCain wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination I penned a lengthy post on potential vice presidential candidates. This choice is especially important for McCain both because of his age and because he has taken positions over the years that resulted in lukewarm support from the base of his party. There hasn't been a lot of new information to help predict McCain's choice, but here are a couple things to consider:

Condoleeza Rice - Secretary of State (53). Made a pretty definitive Sherman-style statement:
"I do not want to be, don't intend to be, won't be on his ticket," she told the Associated Press.
I only had Rice as one percent chance of being the running mate and will leave it at 1% only because if the phone rings you have to answer.

Mark Sanford - South Carolina Governor (48). David Freddoso of NRO reports McCain is holding a grudge against Sanford for not endorsing him in the South Carolina primary. I had Sanford as a 30% chance of selection which in retrospect was probably too high. Make him a 15% chance at this point.

Sarah Palin - Alaskan Governor (44). Since the original post, we have gotten news that Gov. Palin is pregnant and will deliver her and her husband's fifth child in May. Some argue this completely takes her off the list. I disagree. Sen. Obama is closing in on the Dem nomination and if he chooses a running mate other than Sen. Clinton and female running mate for McCain would be a way to attract voters who are not hardcore Dems but were just excited at the prospect of electing a female to national office. I'll raise her chances to 15%.

Jodi Rell - Connecticut Governor (62) - I somehow neglected to list Governor Rell in my original post. Positives: Rell seems to have cleaned up Connecticut after replacing former Gov, John Rowland who resigned amidst some personal scandals. Would be able to relate to McCain having grown up in a Navy town (Norfolk, Virginia) and dropping out of college to marry a Navy pilot. She is about as conservative as you're going to find in the New England area. Negatives: Very limited experience and name recognition. Also, adding a grandmother to the ticket wouldn't do much to off set McCain's image as too darn old. Chances: 3%.

I'm not ready to raise his chances yet, but former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has been making speeches on McCain's behalf and the two have seemed awfully friendly when together. Romney's biggest problem is the hardcore conservatives who are leery of McCain are equally or more so concerned about Romney's positions on key issues. BizzyBlogger, an influential Ohio blogger, has a series of posts explaining why he finds Romney unfit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Troofers get some high level support

Since the horrific attacks on 11 September 2001, there have been various nut-jobs/conspiracy theorists disputing that the attacks happened in the way most of us remember. Some claim no plane hit the Pentagon. Some are convinced the whole thing was staged by our government. Decent people have been disgusted by these very suggestions. Some smart people at Popular Mechanics magazine thoroughly debunked the various claims of Rosie O'Donnell and others of her ilk. The History Channel also did a special that discredited the conspiracy theories. The calm rational explanations did not to shake the faith of the nuts. Now, they have the head of a foreign country supporting their position. Unfortunately, it doesn't help their credibility that their new strange bedfellow is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cast doubt Wednesday over the U.S. version of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, calling it a pretext used to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. This was the third time in a week Ahmadinejad questioned the death toll, who was behind the attacks and how it happened.

"Four or five years ago, a suspicious event occurred in New York. A building collapsed and they said that 3,000 people had been killed but never published their names," Ahmadinejad told Iranians in the holy city of Qom.
Previously, the nuts could laugh about being lumped together with those who don't believe we ever went to the moon. I wonder how they feel about being in agreement with a crazy anti-Semite who also denies that the Holocaust happened.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI visits America

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI arrives tomorrow for his first visit to the United States as pontiff. I added the "as pontiff" qualifier to that sentence because prior to his elevation to the papacy, Joseph Ratzinger visited the United States several times.

Much will be written about Pope Benedict XVI's visit. Instead of accepting the media interpretation of what the Pope says and does we should all listen carefully to his sermons and divine for ourselves the message being sent.

Here are several links regarding the papal visit.

We'll start with the official website. This includes the itinerary. For baseball fans, Pope Benedict XVI will be the third pope to speak at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees failed to make the playoffs the last two time (1965 and 1979). I'm just saying. . .

The American Pope from Time Magazine discusses the Pope's long affinity for America.

Alejandro Bermudez of the Catholic News Agency has a poignant column in the New York Times today titled "Pay Attention to the Pope’s Onion." Bermudez calaims that analogous to an onion The Pope's speeches will have three layers and it is the third or deepest layer that we need to actively listen to in order to fully understand the message.

Peggy Noonan (who penned a biographical remembrance of Pope John Paul II) in today's Wall Street Journal has a column titled "Something Beautiful Has Begun." Here is the key passage:
John Paul made you burst into tears. Benedict makes you think. It is more pleasurable to weep, but at the moment, perhaps it is more important to think.

A Vatican reporter last week said John Paul was the perfect pope for the television age, "a man of images." Think of the pictures of him storm-tossed, tempest-tossed, standing somewhere and leaning into a heavy wind, his robes whipping behind him, holding on to his crosier, the staff bearing the image of a crucified Christ, with both hands, for dear life, as if consciously giving Christians a picture of what it is to be alive.

Benedict, the reporter noted, is the perfect pope for the Internet age. He is a man of the word. You download the text of what he said, print it, ponder it.

In "Pope's U.S. visit could have political ripples" the LA Times considers what affect The Pope's visit may have on this years elections. My own guess is his visit will not have any impact on the election.

Newsweeks provides two perspectives on the papal visit. George Weigel has a positive outlook in "How Benedict XVI Will Make History." Lisa Miller in "Why This Pope Doesn’t Connect" uses cherry picked quotes to make the case that people couldn't care less that he is visiting. A telling sentence from the column is this: "It's not that he doesn't care about people, it's that he wants people to care more about Jesus." She says that like it is a bad thing. Maybe she is the one having difficulty connecting.


Why lawyer jokes will never get old

In recent decades it has gotten harder to tell jokes as more and more groups have become off limits. Don't even think of telling an ethnic based joke. One group that has yet to be declared off limits are lawyers. Based on this article, I doubt that will change any time soon.
A politically connected Brooklyn judge plans to file a $1 million lawsuit against the city after slipping on a just-mopped floor in his own courthouse, the Daily News has learned.

Supreme Court Justice Jack Battaglia - who hears civil cases and earns $136,000 a year - is even targeting the courthouse cleaning lady who wielded the mop, according to legal papers.

The judge fractured his knee in the Nov. 9, 2007, tumble outside room 452 and was forced to undergo surgery and physical therapy.

In his Jan. 31 notice of claim, Battaglia accuses the city of "negligently using a mop bucket and wringer" and "negligently using a mop and soapy water" to create a "dangerous and hazardous traplike condition."
So, this moron doesn't know how to walk without falling and he is attempting to extort a million dollars from the city and a cleaning lady. What happened to the concept of shame?

The article also lets us play the Name that Party game as they mention he is politically connected, but fail to indicate to which political party he is affiliated. Oddly enough, the article does say the judge's sister is dating a Democrat party boss. So, his sister's boyfriend's political party is germane to the story but it isn't newsworthy to include the party of the subject of the story. Go figure.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Head scratching story of the day

Most people have watched Britney Spears descent from an apparently happy child star into an awful mess of an adult with sadness or revulsion. However, not everyone is turned off by how that young woman has made a mess of her personal life. Some guy named Moby (I guess he is a musician of some sort) had this to say:
"The fatter she gets, the weirder she gets, the more I love her. I found her moderately appealing in the late 90s, but now I would marry her in a heartbeat."
Huh? Whatever? I wouldn't recommend smoking whatever is in his peace pipe.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Are certain words illegal?

Today we have a story about an Obama pledged delegate to the Democratic convention being forced to step aside because she made comments that an easily offended neighbor decided was racist.
Moving to nip in the bud some potential bad press, White House hopeful Barack Obama's campaign persuaded a delegate to step down after she was ticketed for calling her neighbor's African-American children "monkeys." Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski, a Carpentersville village trustee, was elected as an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She sports an Obama sign in her front yard.

On Saturday, two neighbor children were playing in the tree next-door to her house.
Ramirez-Sliwinski "came outside and told the children to quit playing in the tree like monkeys. The tree was not on Ramirez-Sliwinski's property," Carpentersville Police Commander Michael Kilbourne said. Ramirez-Sliwinski admitted she used the word "monkeys," but said she did not intend racism. She said she was only trying to protect them from falling out of the tree.

Aside from silly political element of this story it is disturbing from a couple angles. The part I bolded is what bothered me the most about this story. The lady was ticketed for saying the word monkey??? What happened to the right to free speech where we can have a city ticketing someone for using a word. Don't get me wrong. There are many words that are very offensive that decent people don't use. However, I don't believe we should ticket people for saying words that offend my (or your) sensibilities. Once we start stumbling down that road, who gets to decide what words cross the imaginary line? The idiot neighbor? This calls to mind the politician in DC who was forced to resign after using the word niggardly in a meeting. There is nothing racial about the word niggardly yet because the offended people were ignorant of the words meaning he ended up resigning.

Anecdotally, at our old house we had a tree with some low hanging branches strong enough for kids to climb. I worried a little that a kid would fall and smack their head on the exposed roots. I'm sure I told (okay, okay yelled at) various kids to get out of the tree before ya fall and break your neck. Didn't matter, if kids can reach the branches or a tree they will climb it. It's in their nature. And I'm sure the better climbers were compared to monkeys or squirrels regardless of race.

There she goes again

The subject title refers to Sen. Clinton being caught lying during her stump speech again. This is a little dated as I was out of town for a couple days. However, it is still worth commenting on since this one is fundamentally different than exaggerating the dangers she faced when traveling as first lady. The lie about being under sniper fire in Tuzla was inserted in her speeches to burnish her reputation as more experienced than her primary opponent, Sen. Obama. For those unfamiliar with the recent bit of fiction, here is a quick run down. In an attempt to demonstrate the need to nationalize a major sector of our economy, Clinton has been telling a story she heard that a pregnant woman here in Ohio didn't have insurance and died after she was turned away by a hospital because she couldn't pay. Unsurprisingly, that the story was false. Hospitals don't work that way. Additionally, it turns out the woman in question, Trina Bachtel, did in fact have insurance. The reason I said this one was different is because this fabrication was about advancing policy. You can't get consensus to enact major change, especially change that will cost trillions of dollars, without portraying the current system as not just expensive or broken, but down right evil. This is nothing new, putting a human face on a problem has long been in the politicians play book to convince the clueless that government is the answer to a perceived problem. That is the way to increase the size and power of government. Separately, lying to demonize the health or pharmaceutical industries has been done many times in the past. Most notably, in the 2000 campaign former vice president Al Gore repeatedly claimed that his mother-in-law and his dog took the same medicine (Lodine) and cited the large difference in price to show the need for greater government involvement. Beyond the oddness factor of his mother-in-law taking the same medicine as the dog, and him getting the costs for the pills from a information from a House Democratic study, and not from his family medical bills, was he saying he expects the same quality in a product made for his mother-in-law as that made for an animal? I hope not.

Oh yeah, back to Clinton's story. . . . Why didn't the campaign bother checking out the facts after being told the story second hand? The story fit in their warped view of our present health care system. They think it is broken and needs more government bureaucracy in order to run more efficiently. Crazy, huh? Truth is, medical professionals in our country do a very good job despite the efforts of our government and the legal profession. If anyone really wants to assign blame for health care being expensive for those who actually pay for their own care they have two directions to point. The biggest cause for increased cost of care is covering those unable to pay for their care. If we require hospitals to care for the indigent it doesn't magically happen for free. For example, if a hospital treats patient "A" for free and uses various medical supplies, then the cost of that treatment and those supplies gets added to the bill of patient "B" who has medical coverage. The other culprit is, of course, lawyers. Our overly litigious society has led to two "advances" in medicine. First, all physicians pay exorbitant insurance which in turn gets added to patient "B" bills. Secondly, because of fear of potential legal liability doctors frequently order medical tests not necessitated by the patients condition just to cover their six. Are there problems with our health care system? Sure, but more government involvement won't make it better.

Friday, April 4, 2008

April 4th - News and Comments

John Hawkins has a column in titled Six Uncomfortable Truths About Race in America. Never an easy subject to discuss publicly. His opening paragraph explains why it is an uncomfortable subject to discuss:
Everyone always says that they want a national dialogue about race, but what they really seem to want is a national lecture where a liberal mouths politically correct platitudes -- and everyone else is welcome to either nod along or shut up out of fear that they'll be called a racist for daring to have an opinion contrary to left-wing doctrine.

Speaking of race, here is an example of a predictable problem resulting from race based politics:
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have promised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that they will try to block a Native American housing assistance bill if the measure does not include language that prevents the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma from receiving any of the benefits.

The House included such a prohibition in its Indian housing assistance bill passed in September. But the Senate version does not include similar language.

Why do we even have an "Indian housing assistance bill?"

A society says a lot about their values when choosing what to honor. Consider the fine folks inhabiting the northern California city of San Francisco. They have tried to keep military recruiter out of their schools and protested outside recruiting offices and refused to be home to the USS IOWA. However, they are now erecting a statute as a tribute to a military unit?
The city honored American Communists and their fellow travelers who fought in the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s. The $400,000 monument, donated from private funds but hosted on public land, extends 40-feet long and eight feet high.
Daniel Flynn's column in the Spectator gives some interesting historical perspective to the unit being honored and those behind them.

A while back I thought it was odd for Larry King (of CNN's Larry King Barely Alive show) to decide to become a father at the age of 65. Turns out it gets worse as he hasn't developed the maturity to go along with his age. Now, 74 years old and he was recently thrown out of his 9 year old sons little league game for arguing with the umpire. Hey, I enjoy sports and have coached my son's teams for years so I understand the frustration of seeing a call go the wrong way. Doesn't matter. The adults need to remember they are setting an example for the players. I tell the team and their parents prior to each season that the umpires, just like the rest of us, are not perfect so don't be too surprised if they blow a call - it happens.

I have to wonder if Tom of BizzyBlog fame is behind this movement: McCain warned against naming Romney.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Goofy headline of the day: Ted Turner: Global warming could lead to cannibalism

Seeing this headline, my first thought was maybe he was misquoted. Even Ted Turner couldn't be quite that nutty. Well, I was wrong - he is that nutty.
If steps aren't taken to stem global warming, "We'll be eight degrees hotter in 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow," Turner said during a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with PBS's Charlie Rose that aired Tuesday.

"Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals," said Turner, 69. "Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state — like Somalia or Sudan — and living conditions will be intolerable."
What is really creepy about his assertion is it sounds like he plans to be around as part of the cannibal crowd.

As I said about his fellow Georgian, Jimmy Carter, a couple years ago, it is a shame he has no one in his life that loves him enough to keep him away from a microphone.


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