Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I'm leaving this afternoon for Europe. The rates are better this year than any summer I can remember.

I had to make the tough decision on whether or not I would visit France. Knowing that any trip to Europe could very well be my last one; I felt that I should go to Paris regardless of my current feelings toward the French. As a fan of art, I have always wanted to see the Louvre, and the rest of Paris is probably equally exciting. But I wasn't excited. I could feel this funny thing in my stomach and I began dread the whole trip.

My grandfather's brother is buried on the French-German border, a casualty of World War II. He was just a kid who was sent over there to defeat tyranny and oppression. We sent kids to defeat the same thing in Iraq and they too died. Maybe it was asking too much for the French to risk their lives, but they could gotten behind the U.N. resolutions and made a clear path for us. In fact, a unanimous backing of force by the U.N. could have prevented a war, because that unity could have forced Saddam to cooperate with the inspectors. Cooperation could have saved American and British lives.

I couldn't care less about Germany's politics. I am going to spend many a night in a biergarten. I suppose it's because only friends can hurt you. You can become friendly with a former enemy and maybe even form a relationship. But a selfish friend who turns away from you in a crisis doesn't deserve your help anymore. I can’t justify ten cents of my money helping the French economy.

So, I will skip France. I may some day wonder why my feelings were so strong, and I passed up the opportunity. If I ever regret missing the culture and history of a great city, I will have to remind myself that I was in no mood to enjoy it objectively.

I’ll be back with more blog on July 6th. If I find a cyber cafĂ©, I may present some anecdotes before then.
Happy Birthday, George Orwell. Born Eric Blair 100 years ago today, George Orwell never reached his 50th birthday. Tuberculoses took his life shortly after he completed the classic novel, 1984. I heard him once described as every conservative's favorite liberal and every liberal's favorite conservative.

Regretfully, he is only famously known for 1984 and Animal Farm, but his other work is just as interesting. Orwell's nonfiction book Homage to Catalonia, written about his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, document his conversion from Marxist to anti-Communist. Those experiences in Spain would eventually lead to both Animal Farm and 1984. But Orwell wrote other interesting novels as well. His first novel, Down and Out in Paris and London, is a great journey of a man who loses his job and then his possessions and ultimately becomes a bum. It's a compelling first person journey that weaves great insight into the overall plot.

No matter what Orwell wrote about, he wrote with insight and persuasion. I particularly like his essays which you can read here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Yesterday I wrote that the Cuban Supreme Court was nonsense, because Castro would persecute any judge that disagreed with him. It seems Dick Gephardt has a similar albeit less violent idea that reaches the same end.
"When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day," said Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

If this were possible, why are the Democrats trying to keep conservatives off the bench?
I don’t see why experts are so baffled by Castro’s behavior. The dissident movement is gaining strength and Castro thought he could do anything as long as the world was distracted with the war in Iraq. Castro sees a potential loss of his power and his reaction is totally logical in context. The real surprise is that the people in Europe that have been trading their consciences for cigars are now upset with Castro’s behavior.
While the Democrat Presidential candidates harp on about intelligence and weapons of mass destruction, the American people are ready to fight Iran. You don’t have to like Bush to like winning the war on terror. Even people who might want to vote for John Kerry would probably rather we defeat Iran than wait for them to get the bomb. Making an issue of Bush’s resolve doesn’t seem like an issue that leads to the White House.
Sorry to hear that Leonard Koppett passed away. He wrote a great book on baseball managers and how the best ones descended from the old time greats. It was both in-depth and fun to read. The Dude recommended Koppett's book The Thinking Fan's Guide to Baseball, but I've never seen a copy. It might be a good time to revisit his work.

Monday, June 23, 2003

If people's lives weren't at stake it would be hilarious that this article was written from the angle that Cuba has some sort of independent court system.
With international pressure rising over Cuba's latest crackdown on dissidents, the country's high court upheld tough sentences against high-profile opponents of President Fidel Castro.

The court upheld the 20-year sentence against prominent dissident journalist Raul Rivero, who was convicted along with 74 other dissidents in April in a major roundup by the only one-party, communist government in the Americas.

There is one Supreme Court in that land, Fidel Castro. Had they not upheld the sentences of these poor people, they would have feared for their own lives. News outlets and governments that treat these theatrical courts legitimately do a grave disrespect to the people who live in this slavery.
Cuba's crackdown and sentencing of the 75 to jail terms between six and 28 years sparked an international outcry from governments, rights groups and even many politicians who in the past had been sympathetic to Castro's more than 40-year rule.

Criticism from abroad continued after Havana then held summary trials, convicted and executed three hijackers of a passenger ferry who tried to flee to the United States.

The European Union earlier this month decided to restrict political and cultural contacts with Cuba after the crackdown.

Yeah yeah. That condemnation isn't going make anyone's life better. Once this is over, Europe will no doubt continue their cozy relationship with Castro. The real condemnation will begin if the United States proposed defeating Castro.

I liken it to the time in Elementary School when my first grade brother came running to me at recess upset that his best friend was being beaten up. Being in the fifth grade, I only had to smack this third grade bully a few times to end his bully days. That kid never went near my brother and his friend again and neither did any other kid. Did that make me a bully or a hero? If all acts are morally neutral, then I am no better than the third grader. Should I have found another third grader to smack this kid. Would that have been a measured response?

I suppose the foreign policy experts would say that I am oversimplifying a difficult and complex world. But they make it complex by removing common sense and strength from their decisions. When you act with resolve like Bush did in Iraq, you get a lot of scorn from the geniuses in the United Nations. But the gains of solving that problem are much greater. Also, other countries have taken notice that their actions will have consequences. The upside is that their old patterns of behavior don’t work, and they have to re-think their world-views. Someone else will have to tell me the downsides.

Why was it okay for us to defeat Hitler, and then sit here and let Castro do many of the same things, ninety miles from our shore?
The Affirmative Action case before the Supreme Court was decided in a way that everyone can give a speech about how they won. When the self-congratulation ends, we still have a policy that is contrary to a colorblind society. Martin Luther King's dream was to live in a country that doesn't base decisions on skin color. I hear that speech on TV every January and I have yet to hear anyone refute his words. When will they live up to them?

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Bob Novak’s column for the Chicago Sun Times is the best way to get inside political mechanizations.

In his latest column you learn that Democrats want Gray Davis to step down which will end the recall effort and allow the Democratic Lt. Governor, Cruz Bustamante, to take over.

You’ll also learn how the Florida Legislature is constructing the primaries in a way that will force Bob Graham to either drop his presidential bid or drop his re-election to the senate bid.

Novak also says the Senators chosen to be on the “tax rebate for non-taxpayers” conference committee were opposed to the original measure. This increases the chance that the measure will be tabled.
I saw Joe Biden on THIS WEEK and I was again impressed. Not that I think he would be the kind of President that would satisfy me, but he’s not the typical modern politician. He doesn’t center his criticism directly at Bush. He instead suggests ways in which Bush could better communicate or decide policy. It makes him seem more like a political analyst trying to help Bush rather than a Democrat that wants to defeat him.

I find this very effective, because Americans like Bush and trust him. Howard Dean, John Kerry and Bob Graham spend their time trying to knock him down, but it makes them look ambitious not Presidential. Biden’s approach seems reasoned and sober. He seems like a leader that wants to solve problems. Biden has his quirks and is considered a flake by some, and he isn’t even officially in the race, but the other candidates could learn from his behavior.

Biden’s approach could defeat a weak Bush, because it centers on the task at hand. It makes one think that Biden is on the same page as Bush, but that some things could have been done better.

Clinton couldn’t have defeated Bush 41 had he not supported everything Bush did in the first Gulf War. What are the Democrats doing? They are trying to make an issue of the weapons of mass destruction. That is an issue that won’t even be on the radar come election time, but it will give the American people an idea about how they stand on the war. People will get the idea that Democrats were willing to stop at Afghanistan.

Regardless of why or how we fought that war, Americans will support Bush because he did something about 911. No accusations or finger pointing are going to change that. It might be popular in Democratic fundraisers, but you can’t win elections on it.

Bush is about 75% safe in getting re-elected. That number goes up if the Democrats nominate someone who tries to use the war as an issue. The Democrat who can beat Bush is going to have to be a war supporter.

Bush 41 handed Clinton a gem by raising taxes in 1990, breaking his promise. And Clinton was smart not to attack Bush’s strength on the war. If Bush had kept his promise and if Clinton had attacked Bush on the war, Clinton would now be pictured with Dukakis and Mondale.
You’ll notice advertisement at the top of this blog. What I find interesting is that it changes according to the subjects I post. When I talk about baseball, there are baseball links. But more than that, there was a specific link today mentioning Wrigley Field. I have also seen Hillary Clinton ads when I talk about her. Sometimes I just see general ads about political merchandise.

I mention all of this, because it’s the future of advertising. With technology like TiVo making it possible to skip ads, advertisers are going to have to find other ways for you to see their stuff. If they can direct their ads to you personally, according to your interests, it will be more cost effective to them and more interesting to you.

I imagine a day when we’ll actually have a choice of paying for specific programming or choosing the TV commercials we will watch. This way we can pay with dollars or our time. Everyone wins.

Friday, June 20, 2003

John Kerry wants that nomination and has gone on record and said "it." The reason we have a Supreme Court is abortion.

What must John Kerry be thinking. . .

Our silly founders were too caught up in fighting the British to realize the “right to choose” should have been the real first amendment. But not the right to choose how to live your life, I don't mean that. No, the government will still live your life for you. But when it comes to abortion you are actually going to have the freedom to decide for yourself. In fact, we don't care if you are twelve years old and your parents are in the dark.

And to ensure that you get this right, we will ignore those other outdated rights in the constitution by denying the kinds of justices that believe in that damn nuisance, original intent. Why do you need original intent, when we're here to take care of you?

Get this in your heads, people. I will shut down the Senate and hold the whole government hostage if I have too. I only have one purpose in life. And that is to carefully cultivate this one right while I systematically take away all others.
By a vote of 262-162-
The House passed a bill that would allow small businesses to band together through national trade associations to offer insurance for their employees.

Under the measure, small companies could obtain coverage from a provider or self-insure, as many large employers do.

Small businesses and their biggest industry group, the National Federation of Independent Business, pushed for the bill's passage. About 60 percent of the nation's 41 million uninsured work for small businesses or depend on someone who does, supporters said.

This is just the kind of law the leftists hate. It's a free market solution to a problem that the government is just dying to solve for us.
Opponents say that without strict state safeguards, the plans could "cherry-pick" younger, healthier workers, saddling the rest with even higher costs than before.

He and other opponents pushed an alternative proposal that would provide subsidies to small businesses, through a Department of Labor program, for coverage patterned after federal employee health insurance. That amendment failed.

Right, don't let those businesses do it for themselves. Instead, let's create a Department of Labor program. What kind of country would we be if those 162 people ran the entire government?
The Senate voted 94-1 to make generic drugs more quickly available. On the surface this is a good idea. But without a counter law making drug approval faster and less expensive, the Senate measure will make it more difficult and costly to bring new drugs to market. The patents that currently exist are there to allow companies to make back the millions of dollars that are spent on research & development and the roughly five year FDA approval process. The sooner that the FDA can approve new drugs, the sooner generic equivalents can be made without hurting the inventors.

Just a few days ago, Congress was in a frenzy about software piracy. Why is it more important that Mariah Carey gets her royalties than drug companies get theirs? The Senate doesn't want you using a unlicensed copy of Word Perfect, but they are freely authorizing piracy of drug brands. The more a product is important to the survival of human beings, the more we must keep the government away from the manufacture and sales of that product. Otherwise, we allow them to politicize and destroy something we really need.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

The death tax is another example of how politicians are more interested in your money than you as an individual. The House once again voted to over turn it. Now we can wait for the Senate to tell us it is a bad idea.
There's a new law afoot to protect fast food restaurants from the kinds of lawsuits that have hit the tobacco industry.
The restaurant industry argues that it is a lack of exercise and not diet that is causing the problem.

I couldn't say it better. Obesity comes from a lack of self restraint and a lack of exercise. You can eat anything and remain slim if you get enough exercise. On the other hand, you can get fat from eating health food if you overindulge and sit around all day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

In a turn of events stranger than fiction, Jane Roe AKA Norma McCorvey wants to see her own case overturned.
Allen Parker Jr., McCorvey's attorney, said he could not remember any other landmark case in which the plaintiff has asked to have it overturned.

"I think the new evidence will show the court what they thought was good will turn out to be an instrument of wrong," said Parker, who is with the San Antonio-based Texas Justice Foundation.

It's not everyday that someone gets involved in the biggest Supreme Court decision in the last 40 years.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Beware of litigious activists.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003


Orrin Hatch wants to destroy your computer if you download music and other programs on the Internet. His opinion really demonstrates the how older generations have trouble understanding new technology.

No laws are going to stop the spread of software and music. The companies that make these things have long been overcharging for them. CDs were introduced in the mid 80s for $15 when record albums and tapes sold for less than $10. They benefited because digital technology was new. Now that the digital technology is old, they suffer. It all evens out in the long run. Besides, no law is going to stop file sharing. There will always be ways around legislation and coding. And even if you couldn’t download over the net, people can make digital copies of their friend’s CDs and software programs.

The music companies are just going to have to realize that the world has changed and price their products according to what the market will bear. They would sell a lot more CDs for $5, because the effort of downloading it would be worth less. Right now a person who downloads a CD saves himself $15. If the savings was only $5, more people would decide that their time is better spent doing something other than piracy.

Software companies should consider similar measures. When they realized that people were sharing software way back when, they raised the prices. But economics says a company should do just the opposite. By raising the price they convinced more users to pirate the product. Had they lowered the price, they would have convinced more users to buy it. It’s the same reason we buy a dining room table. We think that the effort of building one isn’t worth what we can pay for one.

Software and music companies want to sell their product for whatever they want and then insist that you can’t share it with anyone. Book publishers wanted similar things when they worried that libraries and used book stores were hurting sales. Publishers are still thriving.

The companies that learn the market won’t bear the current prices and adjust accordingly will solve a problem that cannot be solved by Orrin Hatch the Federal government.

UPDATE: Even Hatch's own website is using unlicensed software.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Charity Begins at Home?
A former United Way executive whose obsession for show horses led her to steal more than $2 million from the charity was sentenced Monday to four years in prison.

Jacquelyn Allen-MacGregor also was ordered to serve three years of supervised release following her imprisonment and to pay $2.08 million dollars in restitution to the Capital Area United Way.

Are big charities are more effective than smaller ones? Even without embezzlement, the leaders of big charities make six figure salaries. Do big charities raise enough money to make up for their overhead or are they only taking more money away from local charities? If the overall goal is to help the needy, does a big charity do enough to make up for its shortcomings?
There is some funny speculation that further terrorist attacks have been thwarted by the good life. In other words, terrorists are having so much fun enjoying life in America that they have abandoned many plans to attack. Add to that the intelligence networks thwarting other plans and you have a safer America. Capitalism wins again!

Sunday, June 15, 2003

While Ricky was singing, David was learning . . .

Now a film producer living in Newport Beach, David Nelson -- a star of ABC-TV's "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," a family sitcom that ran from 1952 to 1966 -- was stopped by a ticket agent at John Wayne Airport in December while on his way to visit his daughter in Salt Lake City.

While waiting, the 66-year-old Nelson chatted with two Laguna Beach police officers who knew him and who asked the ticket agent: "Don't you know who this guy is?"

But the officers were met with a blank stare from the agent.

After some checking, the officers told Nelson: "Evidently the name David Nelson is on the terrorist list."

Nelson replied: "I don't think (terrorists) have the middle name Ozzie, but I'll stay right here." Eventually he was allowed to board his flight.

This is what happens when political correctness stands in the way of profiling people that really could do us harm.
ABC and George Stephanopolis did a nice program about David Brinkley this morning. George Will, Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts all returned to talk about their favorite stories. I'm so nostalgic for those days. When I first became politically aware in the early 90s, I watched McLaughlin Group, This Week with David Brinkley and read National Review without a fail. Cable News has made the McLaughlin Group passĂ©, but I never tired of Brinkley and his panel. He was the same age as my grandfather and retired the year my grandfather died. I can’t imagine there will ever be anyone like either of them.
I wonder how Danny Glover might explain Castro's racism.
The execution of three blacks by a Cuban government firing squad in April for attempting to hijack a boat to Miami is raising questions about racism on the communist island. It was the first time anyone, black or white, had been executed for trying to flee Cuba. Cuban President Fidel Castro justified the executions of Jorge Luis Martinez Isaac, Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo and Barbaro Leodan Sevilla Garcia as a deterrent to another mass exodus.

Oh, so it will stop a mass exodus. That's alright then. Go ahead and kill anyone for those reasons. Just kill some white people too.

Friday, June 13, 2003


The world court is at best ridiculous and at worst very dangerous. You can’t have a fair court unless you can have a consensus on good and bad behavior. The war in Iraq proved that the United Nations won’t even live up to their own resolutions. Why should we think the world can come together and agree on what is a crime and what isn’t a crime? It’s evident that the United States will always be on the losing side of these arguments. So why should we join something that is against our best interests?

And how can a world court have any moral standing if it doesn’t immediately prosecute the leaders of totalitarian countries like China? No, the World Court won’t ever stop real horrors in the world, but will instead go after people who broke no laws in their own country. Any country that supports such a court has begun the process in which their own laws are meaningless and their own votes pointless.

Republics and Democracies around the world will be weakened while the despotic regimes will be strengthened.
Let's REALLY Cut Government Spending!

President Bush, do we really need a prescription drug program tacked onto Medicare? At what point will seniors be responsible for paying for their own needs. At what point will younger people be free to spend their own money? If you are trying to get a bigger percentage of the Senior vote by pandering to them, you are selling out conservative principles of smaller government and self reliance. For one re-election campaign you are selling out every taxpayer for generations to come. Wouldn’t it be better to win another squeaker sticking to your principles than gain a few extra points by caving to the other side?

Maybe people are needy, but when has the government ever solved that problem? What’s wrong with a “compassionate conservatism” that teaches self- sufficiency and responsibility? It’s important to show the younger generation that the government won’t be there to pay for their old ages. Why should anyone save money when the government is ready to treat them like spoiled kids and ready to bail them out like rich parents? If every political idea is going to be attached to a government checkbook, then no problem will ever be solved, but new problems will continue to be created.
It’s looking more and more like there won’t be a vacancy on the Supreme Court. USA Today has good reason to think the Chief Justice will at least stay.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 78, has hired a staff for the court's next annual term, which begins in the fall. He also has accepted speaking engagements into November. Rehnquist is scheduled to be the keynote speaker Nov. 14 at a conference sponsored by the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va. He also is set to present the organization's award to a state judge Nov. 20. Organizers say all indications from Rehnquist are that he will be chief justice then.

The war may be delayed, but the war will come.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

I inherited every sports team from my dad growing up, but while he loved Jack Nicklaus, I always followed the younger Tom Watson. So I was happy to see that Watson leads the U.S. Open after one round. Dad and I had our big showdown at the Pebble Beach U.S. Open in the early 80s where Jack and Tom were neck and neck down to the wire and Watson chipped it in from the fringe to seal victory on the 17th. It certainly made up for the fact that I was terrible golfer, while my father went to the state championships in high school.
Hillary Clinton says in a British interview that she feels sorry for Monica Lewinsky.

She said there were "so many victims" of the Lewinsky scandal, which she blamed on her husband's political enemies.

"These people were willing to destroy anyone in order to end my husband's presidency," she said. "And they continued it, even to the point where they were willing to subvert our Constitution to try to end his presidency."

This is totally consistent with liberalism. No one is responsible for their own actions, but just victims of a larger system they cannot control. It wasn't Bill's actions that caused the Clinton's problems, but his enemies that caused them. This is the same thought that goes into their ideas behind social spending and crime reduction. No problems originate with the individual. They all begin with the defects of the system. If we could only perfect that system the problems would melt away.

It is only natural that they would eventually use those excuses designed for criminals for themselves, once they became the criminals. Only, I don't think any real journalist should let Hillary or Bill say the impeachment was a way to subvert the constitution, even if partisan forces were behind it. Impeachment is a cornerstone of the checks and balances system designed in the constitution. It’s the only way to remove corrupt public officials. A good reporter should immediately call to attention the constitutionality of impeachment, and then ask them to explain this charge. Does the the constitution not apply to them?

Yes, Bill had enemies, but so did every other President in American history. The difference was that Bill Clinton, through actions of his own, gave his enemies the ability to come after him. They used the Constitution the way it was designed. If he wasn't corrupt, he wouldn't have been impeached. To say it was just about sex is to ignore Clinton's general disregard for the law. The desire to solve every social problem the world has created is not a defense of illegal behavior. Since Clinton escaped removal, the bar of acceptable corruption has been lifted even higher.
A woman won $300,000 after a bean sprout was caught in her throat. Pillsbury was responsible, said the jury, for the sprout was unfit for human consumption. I can't imagine $300,000 beginning to pay for the hardship one suffers when the Jolly Green Giant can't separate the wheat, or I should say, the bean from the chaff. Justice is a bitter pill to swallow when you are 20 feet tall and feel you're above the law, but luckily the American penal system is always there with sanity and recourse.
Just as sorry to hear about David Brinkley. He ran his Sunday morning show better than anyone. He also made ABC the best channel to watch for election returns. I didn’t even watch Russert until Brinkley retired in 1996. On THIS WEEK WITH DAVID BRINKLEY, he let Sam Donaldson, George Will and Cokie Roberts ask most of the questions, but you always felt his sage presence. I have missed him since his retirement and will continue to do so.

UPDATE: George Will has some nice words.
I was sorry to hear about Gregory Peck. Like Charlton Heston and Paul Newman, he seemed somewhat stiff in early films, but got better with age. While no one can deny he deserved the Oscar for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the sadly sweet movie, ROMAN HOLIDAY. I first saw it on Cinemax one afternoon when I was in college. The fact that it doesn't end like you'd expect or want made it that much more powerful. It's always thought of as an Audrey Hepburn film, but Peck deserves just as much credit for the Oscar she won. He was the perfect lovable heel out for himself. When Hepburn wins over Peck and his cynicism dies, we're won over too.

If you haven't seen many Gregory Peck films, you might try one of these:

SPELLBOUND(1945) This Alfred Hitchcock film about Psychology co-stars Ingrid Bergman. It's not well known and not as great as other Hitchcock films, but it's mostly good and there is an interesting dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali.
GUNFIGHTER (1950) - Peck stars as a famous western gunslinger that is always being hounded by wannabees trying to pick him off. It explores the other side of being the fastest gun in the west.
DESIGNING WOMEN (1957) Peck stars as bachelor who marries Lauren Bacall before he really knows her. Two worlds collide scenario ensues. Notable because Bogart convinced Bacall to do this film instead of sitting around while he withered away from cancer.
CAPE FEAR (1962) superior to the Martin Scorsese remake in 1991. Peck and family are harrased by the brutal Robert Mitchum. Peck has a cameo in the remake.
MacARTHUR (1978) Not as memorable as Patton (1970), but quite good. I read once that Peck didn't like MacCarthur before he made the film, but gradually grew to respect him through this experience.
OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY (1991) This is not a great film, but the best film he made during the last 10 years of his life. It's practically outdated now, but centers on Danny DeVito trying a hostile takeover of Peck's business. This issue made the news frequently during the Reagan years, but was never talked about again once Clinton became president.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003


It started raining shortly after I arrived in Chicago. Steve and Kristin were kind enough to pick me up from Midway Airport and we headed downtown to find lunch. Luckily we had umbrellas, but a wet suit wouldn’t have been bad. I started to think carrying a second pair of socks in my pocket was a good idea. We ate at the California Pizza Kitchen, a first for me, although there has been one in Orlando for at least a year. Across the street was the ESPN Zone, which was three floors and full of video games. It dwarfs the one at Disney.

After walking up Michigan Avenue from the loop all the way through the Magnificent Mile to Lakeshore Drive, we found a cab to take us to Wrigley Field. It was crazy outside with the ESPN Classic Roadshow interviewing players before the game. We went to Murphy’s Bar behind the Bleachers and watched some of that. It was packed inside. Steve and I have known one another since before we knew one another. Our mothers were friends back to Junior High School and we were born 3 months apart and destined to be pals. It also helps that we both grew up Yankee Fans in a sea of Cubs and White Sox fans.

We worried that the game would be rained out. Steve and I had talked since April on whether we should even attend. His boss had the same seats for Friday and Saturday’s games and he was offered $1500 a piece for them. Those were day games even before we knew that Clemens would be going for 300 on Saturday. I thought about it and told Steve to go ahead and sell them. It was just too much money to turn down. He could have easily done it by going to the sports bar where his boss was offered the money, but he was too big of a fan to do so. He could have even sold my ticket, but he proved too good of a friend to attend without me. It must have been fate that he held the tickets anyway, because we had such a good experience. Even the rain that had pummeled us all day stopped a half hour before the game and never returned. I was at David Cone’s Perfect Game in 1999, and yet this game was just as memorable.
Hillary Clinton's book sold 200,000 copies on the first day. She is absolutely running for President next year if Bush looks weak. The sales from this book might convince her to run even if Bush is strong. The other Democrats are wasting their time.

Maybe more important than the 200,000 books was Hillary Clinton on Larry King last night, which was beat in the ratings by Hannity and Combs whose guest was Juantia Broaddrick.

Have you read Hillary's Diary? It comes via Andrew Sullivan.
All the way to Chicago for a Baseball Game?

Steve got incredible tickets for Sunday night baseball. I had never been to a night game at Wrigley, as they happen so infrequently. But these tickets were in the second row on the third base side. Right behind where the backstop fence becomes unprotected. Only the best seats I have ever had for a regular season game. But that thrill led to another when up walked Ernie Banks and filled the seats right behind us. Banks is the best player in Chicago Cubs history, and he’s the best baseball player who never played in the post season. He was led in by the cute PR girl that all teams seem to have and a stocky quasi bodyguard type.

We all shook his hand and said our hellos, and we left him to tear into his bag of Cracker Jack. Shortly after he was given a draft beer and was experiencing the game just like we were. During the national anthem, he sang and had the rest of us around him singing. When Mr. Cub didn’t think Steve’s wife was singing loud enough, he tapped her. Kristin would look around and Banks would tell to her sing it. This was repeated about four times before the song was over. The DJ then struck up Sinatra singing Chicago My Kind of Town. Ernie sang along and we tried to keep up. I am probably a little better at New York, New York.

Ernie then asked what being at Wrigley Field meant to me. I told him that being at Wrigley Field was like being at Church, hallowed ground. He looked at me in a way that made me first think I was blaspheming real church, but he then smiled and said he agreed. He liked how I said it and asked if I was a writer. He then said that he wanted to write about this experience and asked if he could use what I said about it being like a church. Suddenly, I realized the conversation wasn’t just the chitchat the celebrities engage in, but actual conversation.

So I probed him a little. He said that the experience of being at the ballpark is so big that he only needs to go once a year to be filled up with it. Since he had attended the entire series, he probably wouldn’t be going again this year.

He feared that the Tribune Company was only concerned with profits. He hoped baseball would continue to be played at Wrigley, because the team belongs to the people. Normally that kind of comment would start me down the road to explaining the reasons why profits actually help to make baseball better, and why the people collectively cannot own anything of value for long. But instead of saying anything, I realized that Banks had 512 more home runs than I do. It's easy to argue these facts with PhDs, but never with an amicable power hitting shortstop.

Instead, I told him that Dad met him in the 1950s when the players and fans entered from the same tunnel. He was in street clothes, but dad recognized him and got an autograph. He asked me for my address and said he would look me up as he sometimes travels to Orlando. Surrealism at the ballpark.

So just when I think that Ernie is going to be giving me running commentary during the whole game, the real owners of the seats show up. I’ve seen many a fan scooted out of seats, but never a Hall of Famer. It turns out that young cute PR girl is more beauty than brains. Ernie’s tickets were actually for the next section over. We can only wonder what Ernie was sharing over there with his new friends, which included future Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg.

Some other fans sitting nearby berated the poor guy who owned the seats. But I wasn’t angry. It was like we stole those 15 minutes. So when the Yankees lost 8-7 on a horrible pick off move with two outs in the 9th, I wasn’t upset. The day had just been too much fun. Ernie was the least disappointing icon I have ever met.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Even though the Yankees lost, the baseball game was unforgettable. I'll share the experience later today or tonight.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

Says here, conservatives have been joining the ACLU for fear that the war on terror will encroach on their personal liberties. The sentiments may be correct, and there may be common ground on this issue, but in general, the ACLU hasn't been all that libertarian. What have they done to fight hate crimes legislation, wealth redistribution or unequal protection in the tax code? All are issues of individuals being singled out for a discovered social purpose.

The shame is that an ACLU could do a lot of good if it didn’t concentrate on liberal social concerns solely. Maybe their increasing conservative numbers will convince them to fight for everyone’s rights.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

You would assume that New York Times readers expect more credibility from their newspapers than their leaders. How else can you explain Howell Raines getting the boot for his carelessness, while the same paper could support Bill Clinton after he lied to a grand jury.

We certainly expect more from our homemakers.

UPDATE: Clinton has no trouble spotting this contradiction.
But I thought they didn't want a tax cut.

As Democratic presidential candidates demanded President Bush put pressure on reluctant House Republicans to expand the $400 tax credit to cover 12 million children of the working poor, Senate Democrats said late yesterday that they had a majority of senators -- 53, including seven Republicans -- in support of the expanded credit.

The dispute, over a relatively small $3.5 billion provision omitted from the $350 billion tax cut package, mushroomed into a high-profile political tussle after House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was reported to be ruling out consideration of the package. In fact, DeLay had not made such a broad statement, but Democrats responded with outrage.

Let them make an issue of this. If Democrats wanted a tax cut they could have supported the one that was just passed. Had more Democrats voted for the measure, we could have gotten any number of special provisions.

Not only does this payoff go to people who don't even pay taxes, how can you ever get Democrats to support a tax cut compromise if they get what they want without voting for it?

Delay should offer the Democrats this provision if they are willing to climb aboard the other $350 Million of Bush's tax cut that was shelved.
Under the new legislation, those families earning about $10,000 to about $27,000 would not receive the full $400 checks that will be sent this summer. This is because the increased child credit was not made "refundable" -- or turned into a cash payment -- for those who do not pay enough in income taxes to benefit from the credit.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Republicans do not fear a backlash, as long as the public understands that it is families who don't pay taxes who are losing out on the credit. "This is a tax credit, not a . . . number-of-children benefit program," he said.

I'm glad everyone doesn't follow for the "something for nothing" mentality.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

According to reports, Hillary's book talks about Monica, sort of.
"Hillary's Agony -- She Reveals Bill's Betrayal," the New York Post's front page read on Wednesday, referring to the former president's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.

The AP story quotes Hillary Clinton as saying in the book said the former president lied to her about his affair for seven months, finally admitting his dalliance days before he was to testify to a grand jury.

"As a wife, I wanted to wring Bill's neck," Clinton, now a U.S. senator for New York, revealed in the book.

I've never seen a neck rininging, have you?

Interesting. I personally think she knew long before this. Afterall, it wasn't like this was an isolated incident. Can you really believe someone's emotions if the best they can do to describe them is use a cliche?

I suppose, this explains why Bill's behavior was really a vast right wing conspiracy, and then no one's business. Why should we expect to know whether these people are honorable in their private lives? I'm sure people can be deceitful and cheat on those they love, but turn around and have nothing but love in their heart for 300 million strangers. Maybe someday we will stop persecuting these people and learn to sit back and let the Clintons rule us with an iron fist.

UPDATE: Lloyd Grove Finds Holes.
Is Sammy Tainted for Life?
Once Sammy Sosa was caught using a corked bat, there was one big question: Was he cheating when he hit any of those 505 home runs?

Cork inside a wooden bat is thought to help players hit the ball farther and is against baseball rules. Several players have been caught using altered bats in the past, including Albert Belle, Wilton Guerrero, Chris Sabo, Billy Hatcher and Graig Nettles. All were suspended.

Sosa has the most 60-homer seasons (three) in major league history, hitting 66 in 1998, 63 in 1999 and 64 in 2001.

All it takes is one broken bat to get caught. Why do baseball players risk tarnishing themselves?

"I use that bat for batting practice,'' Sosa said. "It's something that I take the blame for. It's a mistake, I know that. I feel sorry. I just apologize to everybody that are embarrassed.''

What nonsense. Have you ever seen a bat fly into the stands when a player loses his grip? The team usually trades the fan another bat for the lost one. And if the bat wasn't damaged in the tossing, the player will use it again on the very next pitch. Why? Baseball players know their bats like their children, and they have a feel for certain bats.

Many players travel to Louisville to pick out their own bats. Some players use certain bats in certain situations. Many players will send bats back to Louisville Slugger if something doesn't feel right. Now, I don't know why Sosa or anyone would want an illegal bat for practice, when the point of practice is to simulate a game situation. But if that was all he was using the bat for, it would have been marked with something visible on the outside and he never would have made the mistake.
Security workers were seen carting off two boxes of Sosa's bats in the ninth inning, as well as a bat bag.
Cork inside a wooden bat is thought to help players hit the ball farther and is against baseball rules. Several players have been caught using altered bats in the past, including Albert Belle, Wilton Guerrero, Chris Sabo, Billy Hatcher and Graig Nettles. All were suspended.

If I were commissioner, I would make Sammy buy an X-Ray machine for the clubhouse. For the rest of Sammy's career, a league official could x-ray his bats before the game. If Sammy's production didn't decline, he would regain his reputation, but if his production numbers dropped significantly, he'd be in question. It would give us an objective way to judge Sammy's career.

It's funny that Sosa will be suspended a week for cheating, but Rose is banished for betting on his team to win. How does Rose giving himself more incentive to win hurt baseball more than an icon who cheats his way through the record book?

UPDATE: Some Good News for Sammy!

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Now Hollywood writers are complaining about the FCC ruling. (You'll need to register for free at the NYT to see the whole article)

Many producers and writers have maintained that a concentration of media ownership has led to a decrease in diverse and experimental television and that the new rules would make the situation worse because fewer outlets would be available and open to creative program ideas.

They can't be serious. Do they remember how bland an uninteresting TV was the in the 1970s? They should notice that our choices have increased since deregulation.

That, deregulation opponents said, has placed creative direction in the hands of far fewer executives. And, they said, network executives, with parent companies hungry for profits and uncomfortable with risk, are less likely to take the chances that independent producers do.

Those who are hungry for profits will starve if they are uncomfortable with risk. Remember the wave of prime time game shows in the last few years? Who Wants to be a Millionaire was a big risk and a hit. All the other networks jumped on board with their version of the game show and they failed. ABC eventually failed, because instead of risking other ideas they ran their first hunch into the ground.

"It's hard to challenge the premise that `All in the Family' would never be scheduled on a network today," said Tom Werner, a partner in Carsey-Werner-Mandabach, one of the more prolific independent production companies. "I'm not even sure `Seinfeld' would get on. It would look too quirky."

That's silly. There are shows as cutting edge and controversial on today. Malcolm in the Middle turns the sitcom typical family upside down. Good shows like Sex and the City and the Sopranos exist regardless of the networks. There are so many channels that need so much programming that independent producers are producing 10 or 20 times the amount of material than they were 20 years ago. People get hung up on the 4 networks, but they will continue to lose market share. Everything is different now, but people want to live in that old comfortable world.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Why don't we question government power the way we do corporate power? The Senate's reaction to the latest FCC vote is not surprising considering the source, but a shame that the American people buy into these arguments.

Michael Powell, FCC chairman, said: "Keeping the rules exactly as they are, as some so stridently suggest, was not a viable option. Without today's surgery, the rules would assuredly meet a swift death."

Under the new ruling, large newspaper companies such as Gannett, Tribune and the New York Times could purchase television stations in markets where they own newspaper titles. Meanwhile, broadcasters such as Viacom and News Corp would be free to buy more local television stations around the US in addition to acquiring newspapers.

Newspapers are dying everywhere. Having a television tie-in could help them with their resources. Being able to gather news for two different kinds of media at the same time would certainly make an operation run more efficiently. Rupert Murdoch tried to do this in Boston in the 1980s, but Kennedy didn't want to be criticized in two different places.
Fritz Hollings, ranking Democrat on the Senate commerce committee, said: "[This decision] in a rear-view mirror will be seen as a decision that is both dumb and dangerous.

What’s the government's argument about school choice? They say that it will take needed funding away from public schools. What they are saying in effect is competition is bad, because it is inefficient and the resources are better spent all going to one failure. When our media choices are hundreds of channels and thousands upon thousands of web sites, they see no good. Right now any person in the United States could have their own TV show web cast for a few thousand dollars. Never have so many people been able to voice their views to so many.

Now, why is it all right for the government to own 90% of the schools in America if they can’t trust someone else to own 45% of the media in just one market? They’re saying that competition and local control are good ideas for private business, but inefficient for government programs. It’s not necessary for government ideas and solutions to compete, but wholly necessary for private enterprise.

But are government bureaucrats really looking out for us more than some company? Enron was a private sector example of what the government has been doing for years. We can always turn the media off when we don’t like the programming. But no matter how big the government gets, we can never turn it off. That's the real danger.

Until the government is willing to look past its own intentions and see the results of their own monopolies, they have no grounds upon which to object to private sector oligopolies.
The House has a big Night
A beaming Donald Brant, general manager of Bally's Atlantic City, reported that the casino had "an unbelievable night" Monday, cleaning up at the blackjack table, on the slot machines, and elsewhere.

"I had a sense that we were doing pretty well," Brant said. "So I checked around with the pit bosses, and it turned out that nearly all the dealers and croupiers were way, way ahead. It was amazing. A night like that only comes along five, six times a week, tops."

"We've got a system," Brant said. "Our strategy is to bet against all the customers who come in here. Then we spread our bets around to each and every table and machine in the casino and keep at it for the long haul. We were down about $200 at one of the roulette tables, but were up on everything else, so we came out pretty much ahead. Actually, more than half a million ahead."

My favorite part is about how they have a system. When will I figure out that my system is doomed? I just don't spend enough time reading the Onion.
This is the most thoughtful and right-on statement that I have ever read in the NATION magazine, even if it was found in a book review.
The insistence of many progressives that the elimination of government racial labels and race-specific policies must await the complete extinction of racist sentiments in the American population reverses the cause-and-effect relationship. It makes no sense to say that race doesn't matter, on the one hand, while insuring that how the federal government classifies your race makes a difference in access to benefits or even to adoptive parents. The fact that there are still bigots in America should not prevent the federal government from treating all Americans as individuals. And if conservatives want to quote Martin Luther King Jr. and adopt the liberal integrationist position as their own, this is proof of the success of the civil rights revolution in transforming American thinking about race even on the right.

When the conservatives are using the old liberal arguments, it's time for the liberals to realize they won and celebrate. Treating people as anything but individuals is dehumanizing and immoral. It doesn't matter which way the government is currently tilting.
I don't know what to make of this Reuters Headline -- Bush Tours Auschwitz, Says 'Evil' Must Be Resisted -- Quotation Marks around ‘evil’? Does that mean even Auschwitz is only allegedly evil when Bush uses the term? Shamefully, the Holocaust wasn't a wholly unique event in the 20th century. Europe could have stopped Hitler in the 1930s if they had the guts. That lesson should have led us to stop other horrors, but it didn't.

Anytime a government boot is on the face of a peaceful citizen, evil exists. Just because we ignored the horrors in Africa during the 1990s, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro and Joseph Stalin, doesn't mean that they were any less evil. You can call such a term is simplistic and say it lacks nuance, but how much nuance do you think the persecuted feel as they are being persecuted?
What is accurate reporting?
The Star Tribune would drop its 9-year-old ban on American Indian nicknames in sports pages under a tentative policy being circulated among staff and American Indian groups for comment.

In a memo to staff on Friday, Editor Anders Gyllenhaal characterized the planned shift as a matter of accuracy in reporting.

``At a time when newspaper accuracy and balance are constantly challenged, our commitment to direct and straight-forward reporting has to be the priority,'' Gyllenhaal wrote.

Did it ever occur to the media that political correctness is the opposite of freedom of speech? Their policy of making people feel good was actually at the expense of describing something in already understood terms. What’s the difference between American Indian and Native American. Why is one correct and the other potentially offensive? American Indian doesn’t mean American Savage.

What? They are not really Indians? The Pennsylvania Dutch aren't Dutch. And Latinos don't speak Latin. All that matters is that we as a people understand what the terms mean. Being angry with the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins is misguided. I'm 1/16th Indian and I am not the least ashamed of being so and I am not angry that those terms are still in use today. I find it a tribute that those teams are named after Indians. I’ll be sad if we lose that part of our history to be self-congratulatory.

How can a newspaper claim to be objective in its reporting when they restrict words they find objectionable? I hope more papers follow the route of the Star Tribune.
I’m interested in the new satellite radio being offered for $10 a month, although I hate paying a monthly fee for anything. 100 channels of News, talk, sports and music would be nice to have on long trips.
Some analysts expect satellite radio to grow the way satellite TV did. If so, XM and Sirius radios won't be standard in cars and homes anytime soon, but both companies still could be budding media giants.

It’s getting easier and easier to live in the middle of nowhere and still be up to the minute on news and everything else.
Some people are complaining that there weren't enough Weapons of Mass Destruction to justify a war, although we freed an entire nation of people from tyranny. But that hardly compares to the tyranny some feel when they see lobsters in a grocery store tank.
Joel Freedman grew upset at seeing lobsters, with rubber bands on their claws, piled atop one another in a supermarket tank. The animal-rights advocate figured it was time to make his anger known.

Freedman bought a pound of scallops and, before anyone could intervene, lifted the tank lid and dumped them in.

Store manager John VanBlargan said his employees tried to explain to Freedman that putting the scallops in the tank would do more damage than good. He didn't appear to listen to arguments that he was putting ``the equipment in jeopardy,'' VanBlargan said.

The lobsters are placed in 42-degree water, an industrywide standard, VanBlargan told the newspaper. That puts them in a ``semi-dormant state,'' making them less aware of their surroundings, he said.

Only in America.
Queen Hillary is the most highly guarded political figure I can remember in my lifetime. New York Newsday decided to ask 9 prominent women what they think she will reveal in the book.
(Former Congresswoman Elizabeth )Holtzman, now an attorney in private practice, says she's curious to know what Clinton has to say about those early days when Holtzman didn't even know the recent law school grad's name. "I was on the House Judiciary Committee, and Hillary was on our staff during the impeachment [proceedings against] ... Richard Nixon. So she might talk about what it must have been like during the first major impeachment of the 20th century, and then what it was like to be on the other end," says Holtzman. Bill Clinton was impeached in 1999. (He was not convicted.)

I hadn't thought of that. How many people are that involved in two different sides of an impeachment?
(Janeane) Garofalo thinks the public doesn't have to know what Hillary really thinks of Bill: "No, no, no. That's her business. It's not our concern.... It's the type of thing that changes the subject" from Hillary's achievements, including "standing up to the right-wing slanderous onslaught."

Everything is personal. Hillary wants you to remember that she was married to a popular President, but she doesn't want to discuss any of the illegal or immoral activity that went on there. What slanderous onslaught did Hillary stand up to? Bill Clinton committed perjury, independent of anyone attacking or going after him. Her defense of his infidelity sent the message that she would rather be in power than have a faithful husband. In short, other than her personal attachment to Bill, she has the failed Health Care Plan to call an achievement. Her whole career is based on being someone's wife, so it might not be a bad idea to discuss how that went.
On the other hand, author and cultural critic Camille Paglia, a Democrat "bitterly disillusioned" by the Clintons, calls Sen. Clinton "a snobbish elitist" who will "never be president" and adds, "I don't care about her sado-masochistic marriage. Anyone who stays married to an infantile, drooling, serial groper deserves what she gets." Paglia, currently completing a book on poetry, further calls Sen. Clinton "dishonest, manipulative and mercenary."

Hillary Clinton's achievements are really the emperor’s new clothes. Camile Paglia has no trouble seeing right through the nonsense. George W. Bush and Al Gore had famous fathers, but they actually held public office in an executive capacity. Other than two years in the Senate, what has Hillary Clinton offered that makes her Presidential? She’s shown to have a Machavellian thirst for power and little more.

Pat Shroeder, Judith Reagan and Gerry Ferraro also weigh in.