Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Don't Try This at Home!

I'm a big believer in self-help projects. In fact I'm tempted to set up rain collection barrel as described in a recent post at Bob's Brainstorms. However, sometimes it is better to leave the do-it-yourself (DIY) kit on the shelf at Home Depot and hire a professional. Here is one example: Doctors replace woman's missing thumb with big toe transplant


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

General McChrystal Needs to be Canned

General McChrystal is currently serving as Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan. The issue of Rolling Stones magazine coming out this week contains a profile of the General including quotes from his staff. In the article Gen. McChrystal is critical of both his civilian counterpart in Afghanistan, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and the president. In discussing the president, Gen. McChrystal described being disappointed in President Obama in their first meeting despite having voted for him.

Obviously, voting for Obama reflects poorly on McChrystal's judgment. Worse than that is a senior military officer even disclosing who he voted for in any election. An officer remains a citizen with a right and duty to vote. However, an active duty officer should not engage in active politics for several reasons. Our national has been well served by having separate and distinct civilian leadership over the military. A military clearly subordinate to elected officials protects us from the coups seen in other young nations and should make us less likely to enter into military action unnecessarily. Additionally, it can be argued that revealing which party or candidate a senior officer supports could overly influence his troops.

Beyond all that, this situation also reflects poorly on Gen. McChrystal's job performance. How's that you ask? He is leading troops in a war zone and now he is being called to DC to answer to his boss about some stupid magazine article. Rather than leading his men he has become a distraction. He and his staff are now more engaged in saving their own bacon then the war effort. This was an unforced error and his troops deserve better.

I'm not a fan of President Obama, but this issue is bigger than the man currently holding the office. He needs to fire Gen. McChrystal to maintain our concept of civilian leadership over the military. We can always get another general. It is much harder to reinstate a chain of command structure after allowing it to break down. This was true when Truman was forced to relieve MacArthur and it is still true today.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mere Healing

Greg Wallace has returned to blogging after a lengthy hiatis with a new blog titled "Mere Healing" which can be found on the blog roll to your right. Give Mere Healing as view now and then for his unique perspective.


Today's Example of Why No Intelligent Person Takes the New York Times Seriously

Read this opening paragraph from an article in the New York Times:
The most anticipated American sports event in many years, perhaps decades, is about to take place. Since last December, many Americans have been looking forward to Saturday’s World Cup match with England in South Africa. Finally, it is happening.
As the Cranky Conservative right pointed out, World Cup soccer isn't even the most anticipated sporting event this week. I'll go further and say it isn't in the top hundred. People were anticipating the hockey finals which were won by the Blackhawks. People are anticipating the basketball finals between the Celtics and Lakers. People are excited and anticipating Steven Strasburg's second major league start to see if he is for real. Heck, I'm anticipating my 13 year old son's baseball game tomorrow more than some boring soccer game. When ESPN goes on with their overblown excessive coverage of soccer all I'm anticipating is them moving on to a sport we have some interest in watching.

Sadly, it seems we've reached the point were the Times sports section has as little credibility as their hard news department.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gov. Daniels No Longer a Presidential Contender

Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana has shown up on most "short lists" of contenders for the 2012 Republican nomination for the presidency. He just fell of my list with his recent comments:
Daniels told the conservative publication the next president "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues."

"We're going to just have to agree to get along for a little while," by casting social issues like abortion aside so the next president can focus on fixing the beleaguered economy.
Many politicians will take positions based on calculations over how it will play with the electorate. I'm sure that is true of some "pro-life" politicians. The easiest way to tell how strongly a politician holds a position is by seeing how quickly they modify their stance. If Daniels believes we "just have to agree to get along for a while" on an issue that decent people consider a grave evil and as great a stain on our nation as slavery then I doubt he was ever pro-life except out of political expediency. His contention that social issues like abortion should be put on the back burner because of economic concerns does not hold water. Economic troubles will come and go. True beliefs would not be put aside over temporary issues.

Good thing we didn't have someone like Daniels instead of Lincoln. Could you imagine Lincoln saying "I'd really like to confront evil in our time, but gee unemployment is at 11%. How low does the unemployment rate need to be for Daniels to hold true to his "beliefs?"

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Equal Protection Under the Law?

The 14 Amendment of the United States Constitution provides for equal protection under the law. Specifically, the first paragraph of that amendment says:
Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
This amendment came to mind when reading two news articles this weekend.

First from Chicago we have this story:
Erick Lagunas' family came to court Friday morning clinging to the slimmest of hopes.

But their 2½-year quest for justice ended in bitter tears, as the Chicago Police officer they say killed Lagunas and his friend, Miguel Flores, in a Thanksgiving Day 2007 drunken-driving crash walked out of the 26th and California courthouse a free man.

Prosecutors made two attempts to prove that Ardelean did. After the two-vehicle fatal crash Nov. 22 in Roscoe Village, Ardelean was charged with misdemeanor DUI -- later upgraded to a felony. But those charges were dismissed when Cook County Judge Don Panarese ruled there was "no indication" Ardelean, who was off-duty at the time, was drunk. Prosecutors reinstated charges after saying they had a lengthy surveillance videotape showing Ardelean drinking five shots and other drinks at a North Side bar shortly before the crash.

Prosecutors also suggested in pretrial hearings that police the night of the crash turned a blind eye to Ardelean's intoxication. Among other things, he wasn't arrested or given a Breathalyzer until seven hours after the crash. But Gainer ruled in April that the supervising officer who ultimately made the arrest didn't have strong enough evidence to do so. Gainer's ruling also suppressed key blood-alcohol evidence.

Then from Maryland we get this example:
Tyrone Brown, a 32-year-old former Marine from East Baltimore, was out with his sister and her friend enjoying the Mount Vernon club scene early Saturday when he may have taken one of his trademark jokes too far. Glancing at a woman in an alley off East Eager Street, he put his hands on her behind.

Police said the woman's companion, an off-duty Baltimore police officer, got into an argument and physical confrontation with Brown after they left the club Eden's Lounge. His sister said there was no fight, and that her brother apologized and tried to walk away. What happened next is not in dispute — the officer pulled out his department-issued Glock handgun and fired at the unarmed Brown 13 times from just a few feet away.

Brown, struck at 1:30 a.m. by six bullets in the chest and groin, fell to the pavement and died 45 minutes later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. The shooting by Gahiji A. Tshamba, a 15-year veteran of the city police force, has left his commanders publicly questioning whether the Eastern District patrol officer legitimately thought his life was in danger before firing.
Mind you, no doubt Brown was in the wrong. You should not touch the backside of a woman you don't know. However, that rates a push or a punch not a shooting. My real concern here is how the murderer is being treated/handled differently than a murderer without a badge. That was an execution and the officer is not in jail. Anyone else would have been immediately locked up and good luck on making bail anytime soon.

I am a supporter of law enforcement and acknowledge that police officers have a tough job. I accept that professional courtesy will result in police cutting fellow officers some slack just as a McDonalds' employee probably doesn't pay for some nuggets. This far exceeds the bounds of acceptable slack. Professional courtesy should go no further than letting a guy off with a warning for speeding after he flashes his badge.


Friday, June 4, 2010

John Wooden - Rest in Peace

The greatest college basketball coach ever, John Wooden passed away tonight at the age of 99. Others will talk about the number of victories and championships his teams won. Personally, I was most impressed with the man's impact on his players as men. He is the only coach I'm aware of that is universally loved by his former players. Long after playing for him, his players would speak reverentially of him. They didn't talk about his game plans or his coaching. No, they always mentioned his affect on them as young men.

While Wooden is best known for his coaching exploits, he was also a great player. He led his high school team to the state championship three straight year winning once. He played college ball for Purdue University leading them to one national championship. He played professionally for several years before enlisting in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He is one of only three men elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player later enshrined again as a coach.

More importantly as he moves on from this life, Wooden was a man of faith. Hundreds of his sayings and quotes are repeated. However, the one that struck me most had nothing to do with sports. He frequently said: "If I were ever prosecuted for my religion, I truly hope there would be enough evidence to convict me." You have to read that a few times for the essence of his faith to sink in. We should all pray to have that much faith.

Rest in peace Coach Wooden your impact on the world will last for years to come.

Coincidentally, a long time friend of Wooden's and the chairman/co-founder of the John R. Wooden Award, Richard "Duke" Llewellyn also passed away today at 93.

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What's the President Been Doing While the Oils Been Leaking?

I don't begrudge a man some rest and relaxation, but wow he plays a lot of golf for a guy who supposedly has a full time job.

(Shamelessly stolen from Grouchy Old Cripple)

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ken Griffey Jr. Retires

Lost in the outcry over a blown call costing Armando Galarraga a perfect game was the news that Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement as a major league baseball player. People can and will argue about his place in the all time rankings as it is a very subjective matter. I consider him easily one of the top 25 players all time. However, early in his career he seemed destined to be in the argument for second or third best player of all time. Then he was traded to his hometown Cincinnati Reds. In a way he had two careers. One as an all time great prior to that trade. And a completely different career after the trade where he hardly ever justified his paychecks.

From his debut in April 1989 until the end of the 1999 season Griffey's numbers were phenomenal. He was second in homers during that period with 398 (McGwire 438), first in RBI with 1,152, and third in runs scored with 1,063. If, like Kirby Puckett, he had suffered a career ending injury at that point he would have been elected to the Hall of Fame. However, instead of a career ending injury, Griffey suffered several season interrupting injuries and never reached the career numbers we expected.

From his trade to the Red until yesterday, Griffey in 11 seasons managed one great year a couple very good years and a bunch of forgettable years marred by injury. Over that period he was 33rd in homers with 232, 55th in RBI with 684 and only managed a .262 batting average. Sadly, the lasting memory for younger fans will be the second half of his career. Personally, I prefer my memories of him to be from when he played a great centerfield and was one of the most feared hitters in the league.

Of local interest, Griffey and Barry Larkin both attended Moeller High School here in Cincinnati and both should be in the Hall of Fame within a few years of each other. I doubt many high schools can make that claim. Another Moeller alumni, Alex Wimmers of The Ohio State University is expected to go very high in next weeks amateur baseball draft.

Lastly, it is interesting to point out that two of the greatest players ever - Stan Musial and Ken Griffey Jr. were both born on 21 November in the same small town - Donora, Pennsylvania (49 years a part).

H/T to and Baseball Musings for statistics used in this post.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Lesson in Class and Sportsmanship

Tonight Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers pitched the game of his life. He dominated the Cleveland Indians. He did not allow a batter to reach base through the first eight innings. He retired the first two batters in the ninth inning. The first out in the ninth was recorded with the great catch that all no-hitters seem to have in the late innings. The 27th batter of the game, Jason Donald hit a grounder to the right side. The first baseman ranged to his right and threw out Donald. The umpire, Jim Joyce immediately and inexplicably called Donald safe. Galarraga retired the next batter to end the game. Instead of a perfect game and baseball immortality he was credited with a one hit shut out.

The class and sportsmanship alluded to in the title occurred after the game ended. Joyce wewnt into the umpires dressing room, saw the replay, realized he got the call wrong and sought out Galarraga and apologized. Galarraga accepted the apology and said ironically enough "Hey, no one's perfect." The two men actually hugged after the apology. How many of us would be able to calmly accept the blown call and finish the game let alone be gracious enough to accept the apology and be more concerned about the umpire who has to live with the blown call.

A lot of lessons in this situation.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Japanese Role Model for President Obama?

I'm as xenophobic as the next guy, but sometimes we can learn somethings from examples provided by leaders of foreign countries. Consider what our president might learn from the Japanese Prime Minister who resigned today:
Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Wednesday he was resigning over his broken campaign promise to move a U.S. Marine base off the southern island of Okinawa.

His government came to power amid high hopes in September after his party soundly defeated the long-ruling conservatives in lower house elections.

But his public image has tumbled amid a political funding scandal and perceived inconsistency and indecision
Any of that sound familiar?

Today's Surprise Celebrity Break-up: Al & Tipper Gore

In a surprising announcement Al and Tipper Gore sent out an email declaring they were separating. Sorry to hear that news. Politics aside, I hate to hear of any marriage ending and particularly one that lasted this long (40 years). Al Gore may be a fraud and a snake oil salesman on the global warming scam, but I assumed his home life was fine. Since Al lost the 2000 election, Tipper has mostly stayed out of the public view while her husband peddled his environmental ideas (ie: conservation for everyone but him). Let's hope they are able to patch things up and reconcile.

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