Monday, December 31, 2007


The Kentucky Post's Last Edition

The Cincinnati Post - Readers give thanks, share memories: "I remember the highlight of my mom's days - the arrival of The Post. Mom retreated to her favorite chair where she read for an hour or so."

This woman, in saying goodbye to the Post, shares my memory. My Mom would take, does take, much more than one hour with a paper, but we have loved the Kentucky Post for many years now. It is the paper that tells us, even almost nine years after we moved from Kentucky to California, what is happening back home. I have so dreaded the end of the paper, although have been eager for this year to end, as my Master's program was finished just a week ago. My Mom and I have logged in each day to check the weather, the headlines, and the obituaries. It has always been a great paper for Northern Kentucky, and I can only hope that with a one-person staff and probably very little funding services us as well. We will miss The Post a great deal and appreciate what it has done for us so far away!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Security for Bhutto

U.S. gave Bhutto intelligence on dangers she faced - Los Angeles Times: "Yet though acknowledging the danger, U.S. officials stopped short of providing direct security services, such as the private contractors they have arranged for Afghan President Hamid Karzai and for top leaders in Iraq."

This was another pressing question that I had as the news hit. Why weren't we helping with security? It is one thing to talk about it and do it in the open. It is quite another to provide security quietly, which is what I thought we did for people like Bhutto. Isn't that part, albeit a small part, of what our CIA does for political figures that have an impact in places like Pakistan? I am not an insider, but that is what I always figured. If it isn't what our intelligence and security agencies do for our allies in trouble, then maybe the question should be, "why not"?? I hope we don't find that we should have through an outcome that is even worse than our greatest fears.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Benazir Bhutto, 1953-2007. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine

Benazir Bhutto, 1953-2007. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine: "How prettily she lied to me, I remember, and with such a level gaze from those topaz eyes, about how exclusively peaceful and civilian Pakistan's nuclear program was. How righteously indignant she always sounded when asked unwelcome questions about the vast corruption alleged against her and her playboy husband, Asif Ali Zardari. (The Swiss courts recently found against her in this matter; an excellent background piece was written by John Burns in the New York Times in 1998.) And now the two main legacies of Bhutto rule—the nukes and the empowered Islamists—have moved measurably closer together."

Please, first read the article. Now on this second day, following Benazir Bhutto's assassination, I had been rather impatiently awaiting Hitchens' take. You might ask if I have a mind of my own, with my constantly parroting of this hero. A reasonable question indeed. Hitchens, unlike others who speak so fondly of having met Bhutto, does not stand to gain a position of power and always speaks frankly of his first-hand experiences with powerful people. He has been blessed with many such meetings, and has the kind of insight that someone like me cannot draw from to make assumptions or conclusions on issues like "the future of Pakistan". I mean that's a rather complex matter that is so far above my pay grade as to not be listed, so to speak. So, I think it is incumbent upon me to find the people that speak most honestly about their experiences in order to at least have a better sense for newsmakers.
The question that came to me as the wall-to-wall coverage dragged on yesterday was the validity of the many charges against her and whether I would much care if I understood what those charges entailed. A brief description of them on Greta Van Sustern's show did not sound terribly serious, although that was a less than thorough account of those charges. I also wondered if her past much mattered given the state of Pakistan now. Is that country in such turmoil as to need a leader like her warts and all? There are seemingly many who thought so.
And then there are the image issues. Americans tend to like foreign leaders who speak English so well. We can better relate. And though this is not a reason to follow a person, it is rather incredible to think that a 35 year old woman could lead a Muslim country. There is also the issue of liking the enemy of your enemy. If she was that hated by the Muslim extremists, then there must be something I can admire here. She also seemed to have a good sense of the right things to say. When asked whether the fight against extremism in Pakistan was worth her life, she wisely said that it was not one person, but 160 million. I though at that moment that she (at the very least) said exactly the right thing. That is never a substance thing. It is an image thing, but a brilliant response nonetheless. It would take a great deal longer than a couple of days watching the news to get a sense of whether that is who she was deep down. I, for one, will never know.
The event was not surprising. She had been targeted her first evening back in Pakistan and pretty much every news outlet on the planet wanted a few minutes with her knowing her fate. She clearly seemed to oblige, as there were no shortage of interviews between May of this year and several days prior to her assassination. What will be interesting going forward is how the world changes in the wake of her death. Most seem to say that changes to the future of Pakistan and the broader Middle East is inevitable, but no one's crystal ball is very clear. So the coming days will both be interesting and a little frightening as Pakistani's decide who will fill her shoes in the PPP, and if Musharraf is allowed to remain in power.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Baseball Will Be Unchanged as a Result of the Mitchell Report

Commissioner Vows to Act Swiftly on Mitchell Report - New York Times: "This report is a call to action,” he said, raising his right index finger. “And I will act.”"

Yesterday, prior to the press conference, I was trying to think of what Bud could say that would convince me of his genuine desire to rid, really rid the game of this influence. I thought for quite awhile and decided that the only real way was to make each of these instances a legal matter going forward, coupled with a sincere nudge to lawmakers to up the fines and other penalties for both trafficking and using anabolic steriods and HGH. In my mind, the penalties would have to be high enough financially to bankrupt the biggest in the game and put into hock the up-and-comers along with serious jail time. Anything short of that would be ineffective. I say this because I was thinking in terms of being that talented kid in high school who had a legitimate shot at playing in the big leagues. If I were that kid, what would the penalty need to be to convince me that these drugs were actually not worth the risk. After hearing Bud and George yesterday, I can without question conclude that the kid in high school knows with certainty that the risk is still worth taking. There is no real penalty. There is no real risk to a career. In fact, it is still helpful. It won't likely keep anyone out of the record books, as the representative of Sporting News made clear yesterday (they are the owners and publishers of "the record books"). This report comes without any cross examination, so it is far from conclusive and would not stand real scrutiny. Because of that, these men cannot be kept from the Hall based on these simple allegations alone. The current players on this list are still in baseball, and are unlikely to be jettisoned from the game as a result of this investigation. In fact, a couple of the named players got huge contracts in the days leading up to the release of this report. This is very simple. While it was interesting to see the names listed in the report and to watch the parade of press conferences on the matter, there will indeed be no change in the number of users or the impact of drugs on baseball.


Lowry Calls it 'Huckacide' Rich Lowry: "Democrats have to be looking at Huckabee the way Republicans once regarded Dean -- as a shiny Christmas present that is too good to be true."

Very true. He is too religious for moderate Republicans which he will need in the general, and he is the least intelligent and charismatic of the entire field. If the American public have a hard time rallying around Bush for more than three months after an event the magnitude of 9/11, there will never be rallying around the Huck. His rise in Iowa simply reminds me that Iowa does not appropriately represent the rest of the country any more than San Francisco or Miami. Can we please move on without religious fervor as part of our leader into an age where we concentrate on what is really important, Islamic extremism and the fallout of their threat? That is still the central issue. One cannot truly care about the economy or domestic programs more than extremists if they are serious candidates. The economy is dependent, whether we like it or not, on our ability to continue our success over terrorists and eventually win. Without a healthy economy (stemming from a long period without major homeland strikes), a President cannot introduce domestic programs or continue those that Americans currently depend upon. To say that these clearly secondary issues are central to your decision in the next election neglects common sense. Ask yourself who is most prepared to handle a national security crisis and who will represent this country's values in those moments, hours, days and months after to the best of his or her ability. Remind yourself of the fear, sadness and anger you felt in those days and months after 9/11. Remind yourself of that uncertainty. Who could you really rally around knowing that they could lead a practical, smart, cohesive response to disaster? One thing I know for sure...even Huck's supporters would have a hard time rallying around him in those moments. He is not the guy for this country at this time. I certainly hope that primary voters come to that conclusion in short order.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Romney Vows Not to Serve Atheists

Gov. Romney's Religious Speech Today - HUMAN EVENTS: "'We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong. 'The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust. 'We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders – in ceremony and word."

In a way, I feel for Romney. Whatever he said today was going to be picked apart. There are going to be plenty of aha's to come on what he has said and mostly from people that were not or would not support him. I am of that ilk. This, however, is not a reason to fail pointing out some of the core problems with him and his speech.
Saying with that kind of pointedness that secularists are wrong tells me what I already knew deep down. Romney could not possibly be my leader. He may end up leading this country, but he cannot be my leader, because his core belief is that my beliefs are wrong and simply don't count. As Romney went through the list of religions for which he had respect, anti-theism was not mentioned. I actually was hoping, for his sake, that he was actually going to be inclusive of the entirety of American beliefs. That seemed to be the course of the speech. I was wrong. Not only was he not going to acknowlege an anti-theists Americanism, but was sure to denounce another's beliefs even as he stood to gain respect regardless of his own.
He, on the one hand, lauded separation of Church and State and on the other, suggests religion's rightful place is in the "public square". How a man who was Governor of a very powerful state could not see that these are conflicts is stunning.
He says: "Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin."
Then he quotes the bible and says the following: ""My faith is grounded on these truths. You can witness them in Ann and my marriage and in our family. We are a long way from perfect and we have surely stumbled along the way, but our aspirations, our values, are the self-same as those from the other faiths that stand upon this common foundation. And these convictions will indeed inform my presidency."
If you first believe in this faith, believe in its weekly teachings, follow its holy law, and expect it to 'inform [your] presidency, then the former is in conflict with the latter.
Again, I make no pretenses about my distrust of him on many issues, of which this is simply one, but any person wanting to lead the free world should be smart enough to want to lead those of all beliefs when seeking a pardon for his own. It appears Governor Romney and his speech writers don't agree with me on this either.

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