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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Anti-Israel Protest in Antwerp (in Flemish)

California Budget Deficit-Now 41.6 Billion and Counting


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger doing the 41.6 billion pound press.

"Ja ja. Dat ist a nu vehrld's rekord."

More From Denmark



Danish police examine shell casings at scene of shooting

On Wednesday, in the Danish city of Odense, two young Israeli men were shot and lightly wounded by a group of gunmen as they sold Dead Sea cosmetics from a street stall. The gunmen escaped.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1230733116508&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Senator-Designate Roland Burris-Portrait of a Leader


Roland Burris-Patriot, Senator, Leader

Engraving below:

"My thought on that wouldn't amount to a hill of beans."
"None of my business."
"I have nothing to do with that."


Roland Burris, Rod Blagoyevich's choice to replace Barack Obama as Illinois Senator is sure shaping up to be a promising force in the US if judged by his recent statements.

Burris initially had this to say when the news of Blago's indictment was released:

Burris said the reported charges were "appalling" and "reprehensible" behavior. He spoke in favor of the effort by the state attorney general to have the courts remove Blago, stating that the indicted governor could no longer carry out his duties. That was then.

Today, in an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Burris stated that he "absolutely" stands by those statements.

However, he also stated that the governor can continue performing his duties,(such as appointing him as senator), and he declined to venture an opinion on whether the governor should resign.

"That's his decision, so my thought on that wouldn't amount to a hill of beans," Burris said.

"That is none of my business. Absolutely not," Burris added. "I'm not interested in the charges against him. I have nothing to do with that."

Now I ask you; does this sound like someone who will go to Washington and be a strong leader? It sounds more to me like the words of the guy who plays the piano in the house of ill repute.

Nevertheless, Burris is now trying to have the courts force Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to certify the selection, something White is opposed to doing. It also looks like the pro-Burris crowd is marshaling its forces to pressure that other noted "leader", Harry Reid, to drop his opposition to the Blagoyevich selection. Democratic strategist Bob Beckel had this to say:

"Every vote counts. Therefore my suggestion to Harry Reid and company, as tough as it may be, it may make sense to take Burris,"

Every vote counts. Isn't that what they are saying in Minnesota right now?

In addition, liberal George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley is opining that for the Senate to deny to seat Burris would be "an abuse of power".

Well, if it all comes down to the backbone of Harry Reid to stop this appointment, then I guess Burris will take up his Senate seat come January. He'll look great standing there next to Senator Al Franken, won't he?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blago in the Bunker


1945- Adolf Hitler appoints new mayor of Berlin



2008- Rod Blagoyevich appoints new Senator of Illinois


In yet another stunning development in the "Alice in the Wonderland" environment that is Illinois politics, Governor Rod Blagoyevich, perhaps emboldened by the failure of his colleagues to impeach him, has gone ahead and appointed a replacement for Barack Obama in the US Senate, long-time Illinois political figure, Roland Burris, 71, former State Attorney General. Apparently, he is the only person in Illinois who still wants the job since Blago was indicted for trying to sell the seat. Today's event is the most embarrassing thing to happen in Illinois since the Cubs blew another pennant.

While some Republicans are dissing the selection as just another "Pay to play" figure who has been around the scene forever, there may be a method to Blago's madness.

For starters, it could be part of his eventual insanity defense that could be raised in his up-coming criminal trial. Don't laugh. Some Illinois observers are talking seriously about just such a defense.

It could be another sign that Blago is willing to bring the house of cards down with him.

But let's look at the pick itself. Burris, at first glance, has never been involved in any scandal during his political career. In addition, he is African-American, and this is probably not by coincidence.

Rep. Bobby Rush, (D-IL) (a former Black Panther) was also there to speak on the appointment. He pointedly injected race into the issue.

"He (Burris) has not, in 40 years of public service, had one iota of taint on his record," Rush said.

Rush added, "Let me just remind you that there presently is no African-American in the U.S. Senate." He also said that Burris' appointment is of "national importance" and that his "prayers have been answered." He also urged that Burris not be "lynched."

"There are no African-Americans in the Senate," Rush said. "And I don't think that anyone — any U.S. senator who's sitting in the Senate right now — wants to go on record to deny one African-American for being seated in the U.S. Senate."

"I intend to take that argument to the Congressional Black Caucus," said Rush. "I intend to take that argument to the senators."

Meanwhile Harry Reid, perhaps with insufficient time to ponder Rush's remarks, has insisted that Blago's pick will be rejected by the Senate-as he had previously stated. Will Senator Reid maintain that "famous backbone" of his-or will he reconsider?

So today may belong to General Blagoyevich as he moves his chess pieces around in a stubborn effort to stay off the inevitable downfall. He may, with this move, make everybody look like the boobs they are as they attempt to get rid of the corrupt governor of a corrupt state. In the end, however.....

Cynthia McKinney and the Leakin' Lena


"Land a-hoy! Gaza straight ahead!


Former Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) is back in the news again-and as usual, for all the wrong reasons. The former Democratic member of Congress now has time on her hands since she was defeated for re-election. No more introducing impeachment resolutions, no more running for President on the Green Party ticket, no more hitting capitol policemen, no more accusing her political opponents of being part of some Jewish conspiracy. (her father, Billy McKinney is also part of that routine.) Now Cynthia is jumping right into the fray of the latest Israel-Palestinian scuffle-delivering supplies to Gaza-or at least trying to.

Her latest venture on some brig called "Dignity" was scuttled (no pun intended) by the Israeli Navy as they intercepted the ship heading for Gaza in Israeli waters. A collision occurred (a ramming according to McKinney) and the "Dignity", now looking more like the classic cartoon boat Leakin' Lena of Beany and Cecil fame, had to limp to the Lebanese port of Tyre.

Make no mistake, this was no bi-partisan venture. You won't catch McKinney trying to deliver supplies to those Israelis who have been attacked in their homes and villages by Hamas rocket attacks. The vessel in question is owned by the US-based "Free Gaza Movement" and has previously carried anti-Israel activists on similar missions.

No, I am sure that when Ms McKinney returns to the USA and terra firma, she and her lame-brain dad will blame it all on a vast Jewish conspiracy as they are wont to do.

Monday, December 29, 2008

And In Copenhagen...



Note that one of the chants of the protesters is..."Jews are the enemies of Allah!"

Meanwhile in London.....





What are these people in "Merry Olde England" so angry about?

a Manchester United lost a soccer match
b The pubs are closing one hour early
c Prince Charles is now King Charles
d America has declared independence
e Jack the Ripper has been (unjustly) charged with murder
f British food
g Israel has attacked Hamas in Gaza

Oh, I guess the picture gives it away, eh?

So I suppose "g" is the best answer (after much thought). Last night, the usual suspects had a demonstration in front of the Israeli Embassy in London for the second night in a row to protest the Israeli attack on Hamas in Gaza. Projectiles were thrown at the Embassy and police, and seven were arrested. It won't be long before we see placards demanding the beheadings of any Israelis that can be rounded up in London.

Interestingly, in the previous week, there had been no such demonstrations to protest a week's full of rockets that were lobbed into Israeli civilian settlements by Hamas terrorists.

Why is it that every time I see a photograph from London, it is of some angry mob? Are there not any happy people in the UK any more? Cheer up, lift your pints!

Let's drink to Israel!

NBRA Take on the "Magic Negro" CD

Since I have chosen to comment on the uproar over the parody song, "Barack the Magic Negro", I read with interest Dr Frances Rice's take on it as well. Here is her article for the National Black Republican Association.



OBAMA THE MAGIC NEGRO

By Frances Rice

If it were not so hypocritical, it would be comical how Democrats and their media allies have created a media firestorm over a parody on racism in the Democratic Party. The Democrats' display of rank hypocrisy on race is a familiar scenario. First, Democrats exhibit vile racism. Then, any Republican who points out the Democrats' display of vile racism is attacked by Democrats as being racist.

The current target of this Democratic Party racial jujitsu is RNC chairman candidate Chip Saltsman. So, what did Saltsman do to warrant being called a racist? Well, he dared to distribute a music CD with a parody about the fact that back Democrat David Ehrenstein called Sen. Barack Obama a "Magic Negro" in an article published by the left-wing, Democrat-controlled "Los Angeles Times." Huh?

None of the people now trashing Saltsman uttered one peep of protest when the article entitled "Obama the Magic Negro" was first published in the "Los Angeles Times" on March 19, 2007 with the subtitle: "The Illinois senator lends himself to white America's idealized, less-than-real black man." Below is the link to that article.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-ehrenstein19mar19,0,5335087.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Sadly, some high-profile Republicans who should know better have joined the Democrats and the mainstream news media in their Republican bashing frenzy.

Lost in the media uproar is the fact that the parody has been broadcast several times on the radio, and the satirical content understood by the more than 20 million listeners of the popular Rush Limbaugh Show. One is left to wonder if the critics have even listened to the parody.

Where was all this outrage over racism when the Democrats used despicable racial stereotypes (just as Democrats did during the days of slavery and Jim Crow) to slur black professionals, such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele?

Brazenly, on the left-wing Internet website called "The News Blog," Democrats posted a doctored photograph of Steele, depicting him as a "Simple Sambo."
Cartoonist Jeff Danziger depicted Rice as an ignorant, barefoot "mammy," reminiscent of the stereotyped black woman in the movie Gone with the Wind who remarked: "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies." Black comedian Harry Belafonte and Rev. Al Sharpton publicly denounced Powell as a "House Negro." NAACP Chairman Julian Bond equated the Republican Party with the Nazi Party and called Rice and Powell "tokens."

The liberal media showed not a hint of concern about racial insensitivity when Obama campaigned for white Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin and against Michael Steele during the 2006 Maryland senate race, not long after Obama issued a letter of support for the re-election of white Democrat and former Ku Klux Klansman Robert Byrd.

Not one word of angst was uttered by the liberal press when a black Democrat pundit on national television called black Democrat Juan Williams a "Happy Negro." What offense did Williams commit that resulted in such a vicious racial slur? He had the temerity to defy the Democratic Party's "thought police" and wrote a book called "Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-end Movements and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America." His book exposes how the failed socialist polices of the Democrats who have been running black communities for the past 40 years have turned those communities into economic and social wastelands.

As author Michael Scheuer stated, the Democratic Party is the party of the four S's: slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism. Visit the website www.NBRA.info on the Internet to see the racist cartoons of Rice and Steele and the details about the Democratic Party's 150-year history of racism.

The time is long overdue for Republicans to stop cowering over the issue of race. Republicans should cease attacking fellow Republicans for telling the truth about Democrats, recapture the Republican Party's rich civil rights legacy, and shed the light of truth on the failed socialism and racism in the Democratic Party - past and present.

Frances Rice is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, a lawyer and chairman of the National Black Republican Association. She can be contacted at www.NBRA.info

Note: Two of the leading RNC chairman candidates are black Republicans Ken Blackwell whose website is http://kenblackwell.com/ and Michael Steele whose website is http://www.steeleforchairman.com/

© National Black Republican Association, 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hitler-Hollywood's Enigma


Mussolini and Hitler

"Hey Benito, do ya think Juventus will beat Inter tommorrow?"



As a follow-up to my posting on the "Valkyrie" movie, I thought I would jot down a few thoughts on a topic that has puzzled me for decades-that of Adolf Hitler himself. As an amateur scholar of the Third Reich, I have read extensively about Hitler and know quite a bit about the details of his life. Several years ago, I came to the opinion that he was probably the most-photographed man in history. Since he lived in the era after photography was invented and is generally considered (rightfully in my view) as the most evil figure in world history to date, I am probably correct in that opinion.

Yet, it seems to me that in all the movies about Nazi Germany, few if any seem to be able to accurately portray this man beyond the obvious evil. I guess the closest I have seen is the German movie, "Downfall", which is based on the autobiography of Traudl Junge, one of Hitler's secretaries, who was present in the Berlin bunker in the final days. Most, if not all movies only seem to be able to bring out the brooding (as in "Valkyrie") or the rages of temper that he was famous for. In addition, since Hitler's visage is known to all, it is also a challenge to dress up an actor who truly looks like the dictator himself, let alone capture his personality.

I think one problem is that for all the photographs, the film clips and newsreels of his speeches, there is precious little that captures Hitler in any recorded conversation. Film clips of him greeting people or discussing anything are invariably silent. There is almost nothing available that shows him in everyday conversation with people in which we can listen to a soundtrack.

Today, we have the advantage of sit-down interviews with journalists that are recorded live on TV where we can get a sense of the politician's personality or character. Think of any recent American president. With our politicians, we have an opportunity to form an impression of the person's personality for better or worse. We don't have that with Hitler. Perhaps, there is something like that buried deep in the German National Archives, who knows?.

What we have are eyewitness accounts of his contemporaries, those who knew him and worked for him. Many of these accounts describe a man who could be kind and considerate to the lowly servants or secretaries who worked under him. (Apparently, most of his rages were reserved for his generals or other Nazi officials.) Of course, any movie producer has to deal carefully showing anything positive about his personality for fear of appearing to try to show him in a positive light.

So it seems to me that Hollywood-and perhaps even German filmmakers-have little to work with. The result is that we see this man uniformly portrayed as angry or brooding 24-7. Of course, this is in perfect conformity with history's judgement of Hitler as the quintessential evil madman, which he clearly was. However, if we had more than just the silent film clips and recorded speeches, would we have a better insight into the man and what made him tick?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Valkyrie Movie


Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg


I am no follower of Tom Cruise nor the action-type movies he specializes in. I am, however, interested in German history, specifically the Third Reich, so I made it a point to go see the movie, "Valkyre" today. I know Cruise was already getting criticized for his role in this movie, and I myself expected him to be a poor choice to portray Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the man who set the bomb that nearly killed Hitler on July 20, 1944 (especially since he had earlier proclaimed that he was stunned to hear the the story was actually true-duh).

I think for American audiences, it lends more authenticity to German movies if the actors are at least British and have some sort of accent. (Actually, I find German movies about the Hitlerian era to be more authentic because they have a closer cultural grasp of the way the figures really were.) At any rate, Cruise (in my opinion) kept his over-acting under control and did a credible job.

I also found it interesting that the film was shot in some of the actual places where the events occurred, such as the Bendlerblock in Berlin (Army headquarters). I was hoping that there would be some scenes shot in the Franconian town of Bamberg, which was Stauffenberg's last post of duty, and where his wife, Nina, was living. Unfortunately, there were only verbal references to Bamberg, a charming city located near where I had been stationed in my Army days in Germany (Erlangen).

At any rate, I enjoyed the movie. Were there any parts where Hollywood took dramatic license? In certain parts, perhaps, to avoid lengthening the film, such as Stauffenberg's turn against Hitler, which apparently came to pass on the Russian front. In addition, in one scene, Josef Goebbels slips a cyanide capsule in his mouth when troops come to arrest him, then removes it after turning the soldiers back over to the side of the Fuehrer. That may or may not be true, but it is the first I have heard of the cyanide capsule. In another scene, one of the conspirators, Ludwig Beck, is allowed to shoot himself. In actuality, his attempts to kill himself were unsuccessful and, after several minutes, he was dispatched by a soldier.

What the film left out was the fact that after the failed attempt, Stauffenberg's wife Nina was arrested by the Nazis under their Sippenhaft law, which punished the families of "traitors" as well as the individuals who carried out the acts. Pregnant at the time, she was imprisoned and her children taken away from her. They were reunited after the war.

After the war, Nina continued to live near Bamberg. She died in 2006.

The Magic Negro CD


"Puff, you're back."


There is a lot of flap going around around in the past couple of days about a comedy song on a CD entitled: "Barack the Magic Negro", which was apparently sent out by Chip Saltsman, a Republican politician from Tennessee, to many of his Republican colleagues. As a result, Republican politicians are falling all over themselves in the spirit of political correctness to condemn the CD. It is important that as this story spreads that the public understand exactly what the details of the story are. As one who has heard the CD on the Rush Limbaugh show, I am aware of the history of the song.

First of all, the song is only one of a collection of song parodies recorded by one Paul Shanklin, whose parodies have been played for years on Limbaugh's show. The targets are always figures or causes from the left. The most recent is "Banking Queen" a parody of Barney Frank set to the music of the Abba hit "Dancing Queen". (Yes, some Gay groups are upset about it.)Another is "In a Yugo", a take-off on Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto", a parody of environmentalists, who buy a Yugo to do their part to save the planet and only get wiped out by a truck for their trouble.

Shanklin is a talented guy, and he and Limbaugh have teamed up for years to add humor to the syndicated commentator's radio show.

Now about the "Barack the Magic Negro" piece. The theme was inspired by an LA Times article that came out March 19, 2007 by David Ehrenstein entitled: "Barack the Magic Negro", in which the writer wrote about white voters trying to assuage their guilt by supporting Obama.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-ehrenstein19mar19,0,5335087.story?coll=la-opinion-center


Shanklin followed up with his song parody set to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon", the old 1960s pop hit by Peter, Paul and Mary, with the impersonated voice of Al Sharpton. In the song, an envious "Sharpton" complains about the success of Obama as a presidential candidate and questions his credentials as an "authentic black man". In fact, the song's lines point out that the moniker, "Magic Negro" came from the LA Times:

"Barack the magic Negro lives in DC. The LA Times called him that because he's black but not authentically."

It should also be kept in mind that Saltsman (who is a friend of Shanklin) did not send out a CD with just this one song. It was part of a CD with several of Shanklin's parodies. In fact, Shanklin has marketed his CDs commercially. Furthermore, this is the first time I am aware that the song has caused any controversy.

So I would suggest to anyone following this story that they read the Ehrenstein article, listen to the CD and decide. This is not a case of some racist Republican politician disseminating a racist song parody. Don't just read the headlines, skim over the story and make a snap decision. This is not a serious story.

The Israeli Strikes on Gaza


Bad guy




I have one word in reaction to the Israeli airstikes on Hamas targets in Gaza in response to rocket attacks against civilian settlements in southern Israel.

Great.

At this point, it is reported that over 225 have been killed in Gaza. Since the air strikes were specifically targeted against Hamas sites, it appears the overwhelming majority of those killed were bad guys. Of course, that can never be guaranteed, and we will likely here in the coming days of civilians who were also killed, which is always unfortunate.

Here is the crucial difference, however. The Israelis target terrorists, and do their best to limit the deaths and injuries of innocent bystanders-even when it results in increased danger to their own troops. An example was the recent military action against the terrorist group Hizbollah in southern Lebanon in response to their rocket attacks on civilian targets in northern Israel from Lebanon.

In contrast, the terrorists who call themselves Hamas and Hizbollah specifically target innocent Israeli civilians, women and children in their murderous attacks, be it rocket attacks aimed at Israeli villages or suicide bombs in crowded markets and buses.

Of course, groups like the EU and UN are calling for "an immediate halt to the violence". Were they calling for an immediate halt to the rocket attacks? If so, I never heard them. I wonder what would be the reaction of say, France if someone from a neighboring country like, say Belgium were lobbing rockets into French villages, killing French villagers and the Government of Belgium was unable or unwilling to take action. You know what they would do. They would go in and take care of the problem themselves. Because of international pressure, Israel has conducted itself with unbelievable restraint.

President Bush, to his credit, has laid the blame squarely where it belongs-on Hamas. Barack Obama, in his recent visit to Israel, is on record as having defended the Israelis' right to defend themselves against these rocket attacks. How much he will support Israel when he takes offcie remains to be seen.

In the meantime, here's hoping that Israel can clean out that nest of vipers in Gaza.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Meanwhile in Minnesota......




MSNBC is reporting that 45 new votes for Al Franken have turned up in the on-going Minnesota recount.

I know. I know. It's December in Minnesota, the sun is shining, and the guy is wearing a T-shirt. It's a Fousesquawk fraud. Save your cards and letters.

"Obsession" The Film


Today, for the first time, I viewed the film "Obsession", a documentary about radical Islam. It is something I should have seen a long time ago, and not because I learned anything new from it. I decided I wanted to see if was a hate-mongering film as people like CAIR claim. Is the film unfair? Does it paint all Muslims as terrorists or terrorist-supporters? I say no to both questions.

The film, which is 27 minutes long (and available on the Internet), begins with the message that most Muslms do not support terror, and that the film is not about them. It is about radical Islam and the threat it poses to the world in general and the West in particular.

In watching the film, one does not have to depend on the words of non-Muslims (except for a handful of terrorism experts like Steve Emerson), rather the viewer only has to watch and listen to the words of radical Muslim clerics and other figures who declare the Islam will take over the world and destroy other religions. One need only view the speeches which were broadcast on Saudi, Iranian or Palestinian TV. Listen also to the words of those who left Islam over the issue of terror like Walid Shoebat and Nonie Darwish. The images shown of Muslim attacks on non-Muslims are documented history-from 9-11 to the Madrid train bombings to the London subway attacks. (Mumbai had not yet occurred when the film was produced.)

This documentary is not a result of the wild imagination of Muslim-bashers. It is fact. The purpose of the film is not to bash innocent Muslims; rather, it is to try and wake up compliant Westerners who refuse to face the truth.

There is also some important history in the film, especially in reference to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el Husseini, who was a close ally of Hitler and actually spent some years in Nazi Germany. While there, he broadcast anti-Semitic messages to the Arab world over a Nazi radio channel. During the war, he actually organized a Muslim army division in Bosnia which fought alongside the Germans. What did the Mufti and Hitler have in common? They both wanted to eradicate Jews.

Organizations like CAIR must realize that a film of this nature (which is factual) cannot be suppressed in the West or simply condemned as a form of hate speech. Had the film tried to impart the idea that all Muslims are our enemy, then I would myself condemn it. Instead, leading Muslim organizations, if they truly desire peaceful co-existence, must do their part to combat those who preach hate, conquest and violence.

Recently, there was a reported "gas attack" on a Dayton, Ohio mosque that occurred in the wake of the local dissemination of the "Obsession" film. The film was blamed by Islamic leaders for inspiring the so-called attack. Yet, at this point, all indications point to there having been no such attack. It appears that it was at most a case of a Muslim child getting hold of a can of pepper spray inside the mosque and innocently spraying another child while the adults were having a service. If that is, in fact, the case, then "Obsession" had no role whatsoever.

I encourage everyone to view the film including Muslims. If there is something in this film that is not factual, I would like to hear about it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What Will Happen When the King of Thailand Dies?


His Majesty King Phumiphol Adulyadet of Thailand


Since leaving Thailand, where I lived from 1975-1978, I have not followed political events there too closely. In the last couple of years, events in Thailand have received international attention as two prime ministers have been deposed in the face of public unrest. During my time in Thailand in the 1970s, I witnessed two coups as the nation struggled to begin the transition from military rule to democracy. While Thai politics has been far from stable, the one constant has been the King.

King Phumiphol Adulyadet (Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty) has reigned as the King of Thailand for over six decades. He became King upon the sudden death of his brother in 1946. He and his queen, Sirikit, are beloved like no other sovereign or head of state that I know of. The Kingdom Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, where the King is a figurehead, similar to the Queen of England. Unlike England, however, Thailand has a strict lese majeste law which prohibits criticism or acts of disrespect toward the Royal Family. There has been little need to enforce it, however, as the King and Queen are universally revered by the Thai people. (Traditionally, Thai kings have been considered semi-divine.)

And for good reason. During their reign, Phumiphol and Sirikit have done many good things for their people, helping the poor, contributing to the agricultural development of the poorer regions in the north, and stepping in when needed in periods of political upheaval to provide a calming hand to the political rulers and prevent bloodshed.

Interestingly, Phumiphol was born in the United States (Cambridge, Massachusttes)The King and Queen's eldest daughter, Ubolratana, was married to an American, a subject not discussed in polite society in Thailand. After her divorce, she returned to Thailand. The King and Queen have two other daughters and a son (about whom more will be said later).

In the latest crisis, Phumiphol worked quietly behind the scenes in 2006 to calm a political crisis surrounding Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was accused of corruption. Public unrest surrounded calls for his resignation. He was deposed by the military with the tacit approval of the King, who let it be known that he was not in favor of Thaksin remaining. In September 2006, Thaksin was deposed by the military in a bloodless coup while he was attending a UN meeting in New York. Facing various charges, at home, he is currently out of the country.

Thaksin's successor, Somchai Wongsawat didn't fare any better. Denounced as a corrupt hack of Thaksin, protesters took to the streets and the two principle Bangkok airports, shutting them down in the process. Eventually, the country's Constitutional Court ruled that Somchai had to step down due to numerous irregularities.

The presence of the King is an important stabilizing and unifying influence in Thailand. Unfortunately, his long reign appears to be coming to an end. With the king aging and in ill health, the day of national mourning appears to be looming on the horizon. In addition, the question of succession hangs over Thailand.

Ordinarily, the question would be easy. Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, who is now in his 50s, stands next in line. The unfortunate fact is that the Crown Prince is hardly a worthy successor to his father. It is an open secret-though rarely spoken in open- that the Crown Prince has lived his life as a spoiled woman-chaser and general all-around thug. His accession would deal a psychological blow to the populace and probably deal a blow to the institution of the royalty itself.

There has been much talk for many years that the King and Queen would prefer that their daughter Sirindhorn become Queen and sole regent. She is everything that her parents have been in her role as princess, working for years on various projects that benefit the populace. She has earned the affection of the Thai people, and her accession would maintain the reverence that the Thai people have for their royal family. To my knowledge, this issue has not yet been resolved.

One can only wish King Phumiphol a long life, and when that sad day comes, the country finds a way to maneuver around Vajiralongkorn.

Presidential Pardons


Marc Rich



In the past few days, President Bush has issued several pardons. One has been hastily revoked when it was learned that the parents of one of the recipients had contributed to the Republican Party. While I believe that Bush acted in good faith, the whole idea of presidential pardons is somewhat troubling to me.

One of the concerns I have is who gets a pardon and who doesn't. What considerations go into this decision? No matter how well-intentioned, there will be cases of some who don't get pardons being more deserving than some who got them.

The most egregious example of bad pardons was in the last days of the Clinton Administration. There were cases of Clinton brother, Roger, brokering pardon deals in exchange for money, one of Hillary's brothers doing the same, the infamous Marc Rich pardon and the Hasidic Jews who were pardoned in apparent exchange for that New York community delivering the votes for Hillary's Senate campaign. (If anyone out there thinks I am making a bogus charge, feel free to weigh in.) In my mind, Bill Clinton actually sold pardons out of the White House, and I will go to my grave in that belief. Why wasn't it fully investigated? Probably because George Bush didn't want that kind of distraction as he took office.

It seems to me that presidential pardons should be reserved for special cases in which the President truly believes that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, an archaic law has been too strenuously applied, or someone in prison has served too long a sentence for their crime. By those standards, I supported Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence. I also feel that Bush should commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, the two Border Patrol agents who are in prison for shooting a fleeing drug smuggler at the Mexican border.

What about the pardon President Ford gave to Richard Nixon? I am somewhat ambiguous on that one. True, Nixon broke the law and subverted our system of justice. I also believe that no one should be above the law. Ford stated (and I accepted his word) that he did it to help the nation put Watergate behind us.) If the whole scandal wasn't bad enough, a trial would have really torn the country apart. Based on my vivid recollections of the affair (I was living in the DC area during a large part of the scandal), I don't think Nixon would have gotten a fair trial. I still remember the scenes of crowds outside the courthouse when people like Halderman, Erlichman and Mitchell were arraigned. It was not pretty. So I give the benefit of the doubt to Ford on that one.

Not so with Jimmy Carter, who pardoned folk singer Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul and Mary), who served 3 months in jail for "taking improper liberties" with a 14 year old fan. Yarrow stated after the pardon that he could now face the children in his family. (I am paraphrasing.) As if the pardon meant that the crime never occurred.

At any rate, that is how I feel about pardons. There should be nothing traditional about them. When did we decide that a president was expected to issue pardons in his last days in office? They should be exceptional, and there should be a valid justification behind them. In the absence of that, I think the president should not even be bothered with them.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fousesquawk Field- The Perfect Baseball Park




top to bottom:

Citi Field-New home of the New York Mets
Ebbets Field-former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers
Crosley Field-former home of the Cincinnati Reds


When it comes to the subject of baseball, I am an old purist. To me, the greatest ballparks were those built before World War 1. Sadly, only two remain-Boston's Fenway Park and Chicago's Wrigley Field. The others are gone, mostly replaced by the infamous cookie cutter all purpose stadiums of the 1970s, and now by the so-called retro-parks. I applaud the idea of the retro-parks that try to bring back the flavor of years-gone by, but they are not perfect. Financial considerations have necessited modern conveniences such as luxury boxes, huge neon scoreboards and triple decks. Some of the stadiums, like San Diego's Petco Park seem to go overboard on the idiosyncracies. Anyway, I will now try to engage in designing "The Perfect Baseball Park".

First of all, as to the exterior, I would try to bring back the classic look of Brooklyn's Ebbets Field-which is exactly what the Mets have seemingly done with their new park-Citi Field-which will open next year. The design of the outside looks great. Unfortunately, the inside doesn't. Huge scoreboards, triple deck bleachers- ugh.

Secondly, it goes without saying that the outfield fence should not be symmetrical.

Third, the grandstands should be no more than double deck-or anywhere else for that matter. Triple deck is out. You could do what Wrigley Field did-convert the press box into luxury boxes without detracting much from the coziness of the park. Aside from that, forget the luxury boxes. Total attendance capacity? No more than 40,000.

Absolutely no roof-retractable or otherwise.

Foul lines should be fairly close to the stands, so the fans can actually hear the players chatter. (or does that word and idea even exist anymore in baseball?) Or better yet, the players can hear the fans "chatter".

The big question is what to do with the bleachers and space beyond the outfield walls. You could have a small portion of the space with double decks-a la Texas, but not all the way around. Old Ebbets Field with its double deck bleacher extending from the left field foul pole to center field and just a right field wall would be nice. If the bullpens are too big and intrusive in the outfield, then put them along the right and left field foul lines like in Wrigley. At any rate, the left field fence and right field fence should be different. Perhaps you could have a small bleacher section in right and just a wall in left, such as in old Crosley Field in Cincinnati. There should be an open feel behind the outfield with a good view of the city in the background. (unless the stadium is in Newark).

As for the scoreboard, I say do away with neon. We didn't need them in the old days, and we don't need them now. Have one scoreboard out there with the home game and out-of-town scores-forget the advertising.

At any rate, a great design could be chosen by going over photos of all the old ballparks that no longer exist. Pick and choose the best parts. The main thing is don't forget the coziness. Each seat should be a great seat and each fan should have a chance of catching a ball.

I have attached pictures of the new Citi Field in New York along with old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and old Crosley Field in Cincinnati. A proper combination would be dynamite. We might even give it one of those big corporate names like.....Fousesquawk Field.

I know. The whole thing is one big pipe dream.

So What Are We Celebrating?


This?




This?

"Happy Winter Event"
"And Happy Winter Event to you."




This?



Or this?

"Happy Winter Solstice"


Or how about Channuka and Christmas?



Happy Channuka and Merry Christmas everybody.

And as for all you ACLU types that don't like it-enjoy your snowplows.

The Obama Report- a Couple of Questions


"Relax, kid. Our internal investigation has determined that you're clean."


Now that Obama counsel Greg Craig has announced the results of the Obama internal investigation, which show that there were no improper conversations involving Governor Rodd Blagoyevich or his aide, John Harris with the president-elect, his aide Rahm Emanuel or any other Obama representative, this amateur observer has a couple of questions. If I have missed something, please let me know.

The Chicago Sun Times has reported that Emanuel, who is leaving his House seat to become Obama's chief of staff, discussed with the governor the possibility of "keeping his seat warm" in case he decided to return to the House of Representatives. (Emanuel reportedly has aspirations of becoming Speaker of the House someday.) What does it mean to "keep his seat warm"? Does this mean that the Emanuel replacement is not expected to run for re-election and pursue his/her own Congressional career? Is this similar to the situation in Delaware, where the designated Senate replacement for Joe Biden (Ted Kaufman) is probably only "keeping the seat warm" for Biden's son, Beau Biden in 2010?

Is this "Change"?

Secondly, if the tapes are indeed exculpatory regarding Emanuel's conversations with Blagoyevich or Harris (in that he did not discuss any quid pro quo in exchange for the nomination of someone preferred by Obama), and that Blagoyevich is recorded on November 10, 2008 cursing to the high heavens because the Obama people have offered only "appreciation", do the tapes show an attempted solicitation by Blagoyevich or Harris to Emanuel? If so, then did Emanuel report Blagoyevich or Harris to the proper authorities for soliciting a bribe?

Just nitpicking.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The California Budget Package


"Here's the budget package, Governor"



Things continue to spiral out of control here in California under the leadership of the Democrats, who control Sacramento and a governor who has no idea whether he is on foot or horseback. Facing a $40 billion deficit, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is now fighting the spending Democrats on his left and the no-tax Republicans on his right. As of today, he is stating that since the Republicans won't come to the table, he will sit down and negotiate alone with the Democrats, who cannot rein in their spending.

Here is the official statement on the Governor's web site:

“Kaleefornia’s unemployment rate reinforces da need for da schtate legislature to pass a real budget solootion dat includes aggressive ekonomic schtimulus - because ve must do everything in our power to hehlp Kaleefornians affected by da economic downturn get back to vehrk,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I’f sett countless times dat any budget plahn sent to my deschk muss include real schtimulus dat creates jobs, keeps Kaleefornians in der homes und provides schtrong, long-term recovery solootions for our schtate’s diverse ekonomy.”

Last week, Schwarzenegger received an $18 billion package from the Democrats that was centered around "new revenue" (taxes). Arnie declared that he would "terminate it" (veto) in the absence of more spending cuts and economic stimulus provisions.

Schwarzenegger declared, "Dis package dat dey are sending down does really only one ting, and dis is punish da people of Kaleefornia,". Yet, he then added, "Absolutely I vood have signed it if ve vood have gotten da cuts and da ekonomic schtimulus package."

On Friday, while in Fresno, Schwarzenegger stated that the Democratic package included "illegal taxes." Interestingly (or maybe not surprisingly), only the local Fresno media picked up on the fact that the Governor was accusing the Democrats of trying to pass illegal taxes. New taxes in California require a 2/3rds majority vote, not likely without some Republicans crossing over. However, with LA-based talk show jocks, John and Ken hammering the statement repeatedly, it began to spread.

By Monday, a kinder and gentler Terminator was ducking that issue. When asked yesterday in LA about the legality of the Democrats package, we got this; "Der is a legal debate about dat, der's no two vays about dat, as der is with many legislation dat is being passed in Zacramento. I myself zay alvays one ding, and dat is, I'm interested in a revenue increase."

So now, Schwarzenegger is trying to deal alone with the Democrats to find a revenue increase? Without a 2/3rds vote to raise taxes? Maybe if someone is interested in saving 40 billion dollars, they might cut out the billions that go in programs for illegal aliens every year. Or perhaps, they could cut the goodies that the State employees unions suck up at the trough called Sacramento. Unfortunately, that won't happen. The Dems in Sacramento are beholden-at least to the state employees unions.

Meanwhile, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association stands ready to file an immediate lawsuit against any effort to raise taxes without the 2/3rds vote.

Reader poll: Should I wait to make my next report when the budget deficit is 50 billion or 75 billion?

PS: To my dear co-respondant Ingrid in Germany,

Please don't take offense. After all, it's that darned Austrian accent.

LA Mayor Writes Letter on Behalf of Accused Killer



Esteban Nunez (left)


In my posting of December 4, 2008, I described the recent arrest of Esteban Nunez, son of former California State Assembly Speaker, Fabian Nunez, on charges of being involved in a San Diego murder (see post). It should come as no surprise that young Nunez is getting support from high places-support that your average accused murderer would never get. Consider this:

The judge hearing Nunez's case has received a letter (with an official LA City letterhead) on Nunez's behalf from none other than LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa himself asking the judge to lower the 2 million dollar bail. Other letters were received from trade union chief, Maria Elena Durazo, Assembly Republican leader Michael Villines and Democrat Assemblyman Kevin DeLeon. In asking for a bail reduction, the above officials attested to young Nunez's "good character" (better than Fabian's?)

Villines, who is from Clovis, apparently doesn't even know Esteban Nuñez all that well but wrote that "I have no doubt that Mr. Nunez, being one of the top lawmakers in California, will be very responsible in making sure that his son attends all scheduled court dates."

But as usual, Villaraigosa outdid himself in showing why he is a joke as mayor of the nation's 2nd largest city (even if he was Hillary Clinton's national co-campaign chair and noted financial advisor to Barack Obama's transition team). Writing on city letterhead, Hizonner said that he had known the accused "for over ten years." He continued: "In my heart, I know Esteban Nuñez as a young man of good and upright character."

Yes, the judge lowered the bail by half and Esteban is now back home, safe in the arms of his dad.

The John and Ken Radio Show (KFI Los Angeles) website recently posted a grand celebration photo of the re-marriage of Esteban's parents. There, in the same photo as the Mayor of LA, was Esteban Nunez-son of the Speaker of the Assembly, smiling and waving some gang signal. (Maybe Esteban belongs to the same gang young Tony Villar belonged to-before he became Antonio Villaraigosa.)

But that is not the point. That is just good satire. What is important is this: This is a clear-cut case of a double standard of justice. If his name were Esteban Lopez-or Smith, do you think he would get letters from California politicians asking that his bail be lowered?

I will end with a piece of advice for President-elect Obama. You have already reached out to Antonio Villaraigosa and put him on your transition team of economic advisors. If I were you, I would thank him for his outstanding service-and forget about him. If you drag this joker back to Washington with you and give him some post, an incident like this will come back to haunt you sooner rather than later.

Besides, Villaraigosa has absolutely no financial expertise. Unless you consider getting a $2 million bail cut in half as financial expertise.

The On-Going Slaughter in Mexico


Mexican troops in Cancun


Sunday, 12 bodies were discovered along the streets of the Mexican town of Chilpancingo, Guerrero. All had been decapitated. The heads were found in plastic bags a short distance away. Most of the victims were soldiers of the Mexican Army. This was the latest outrage in a wave of drug cartel-related violence that has swept the country for decades. It has never been worse than it is now.

President Felipe Calderon, in trying to crack down on the cartels, has increasingly relied on the Mexican Army as opposed to the historically-corrupt Mexican Federal Judicial Police (MFJP). For decades, the US has poured billions of dollars in money, training and equipment into Mexico in a futile effort to stem the flow of drugs coming out of that country. As a DEA agent, I participated in three training seminars in the 1990s for the supposed "New Breed" of newly-hired Federal officers. Two of those seminars were held in the Mexican National Police Academy in Mexico City. It was all an exercise in futility.

Nothing has really worked. Corruption has triumphed every time. The system is so ingrained in Mexico that no one can really change it. The money coming from the US into Mexico to pay for our drug consumption is simply too great. It is one of the country's main sources of revenue along with tourism, petroleum and funds sent home by Mexican citizens in the US to their families.

Yet, while mentioning the corruption (which every Mexican will acknowledge), we must not forget those who have actually tried to fight the cartels and have paid with their lives as result. Several police chiefs and their subordinates have been assassinated in recent years. This is the same country where DEA Agent Enrique Camarena was kidnapped and tortured to death by drug lords in 1985. The 12 victims Sunday are just the latest.

I can only hope that this time, Mexico will be swept by a wave of outrage that will ignite a meaningful backlash against the criminals who are terrorizing a country of overwhelmingly decent people. It is truly time for drastic measures. They know who the cartel bosses and their henchmen are. Surely, President Calderon knows better than I how to fight this scourge, but if he launches a so-called "guerra sucia" (dirty war), I am fine with that as long as it doesn't carry over into innocent people (as it did in Argentina a few decades ago). It is clear that to fight the cartels is to put your life on the line-just as it has been in Colombia. I don't think Mexico can rely simply on honest cops, soldiers and their courts (which can also be easily corrupted).

The US Government also has a moral duty to its people to do their part. A Travel Advisory seems to be the obvious place to start. Effectively securing our border would also be in order-if for no other reason than to slow the flow of drugs and beat back violent crime that spills over our border. The Mexican Government has to know that its tourist trade is on the line. It is not enough to simply congratulate the Mexican Government on this or that symbolic victory against drug trafficking as we have done over the years. Calderon has shown encouraging early steps in using the Army to try to combat the cartels. Yet, we have been disappointed in the end by virtually every past Mexican president as they retire with vast fortunes stolen from the Mexican people and treasury. Will Calderon be the same?

If Mexico continues to conduct business as usual and not make a determined effort to rid their society of the most vicious elements, then the horrible deaths of those Mexican soldiers will have meant nothing.

And What About Delaware?


"I got it covered."


The 2008 Presidential Election victory of Barack Obama and the nomination of Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State has opened up three new Senate seats on the Democratic side. New York and Illinois are both involved in unseemly difficulties in filling those two slots, as we all know. Less attention is being paid to the tiny state of Delaware, where Joe Biden was re-elected to the Senate seat at the same time he was elected Vice President. Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner has already appointed Joe Biden aide, Ted Kaufman, to fill Biden's seat until 2010, when voters will elect a new Senator for the remainder of the 6-year term.

Kaufman, for his part, has already announced that he intends to serve as Senator only until 2010 before moving aside to let the people of Delaware elect the next senator. That sounds fine. So does anyone want to predict who that unknown person will be in 2010 who will step forward to run for Senator? Do you think Joe Biden himself has any ideas? Sure he does. Biden has made no secret of his desire to see his son, Beau, become Senator in 2010. I suppose it could have come sooner, but the younger Biden is in the National Guard and scheduled to do a tour in Iraq soon, which he intends to fulfill. (God be with you, Beau.)

Most insiders in Delaware seem pretty confident that Beau Biden will eventually be the nominee to run for Senator on the Democratic side in 2010, and will, in fact, be the next Biden to become a US Senator. Not exactly "change", but the people of Delaware will be able to decide in an election, which is the important thing.

Still, one is left with a nagging question: What if Governor Minner had selected someone who wanted to serve as Senator until 2010 then run for the additional four years as well-and beyond?

Silly me.

Monday, December 22, 2008

That Other Senate Seat (New York): The Fousesquawk Pick

Fousesquawk choice for the next Senator from New York (in order of preference-top-bottom)

Terry Bradshaw



Nita Schmo....Looey....Lowey


Caroline Kennedy-Schlossberg




Almost lost in the shuffle of the Blogoyevich Senate seat selling scandal is the other apparent shuffle going on in New York. Now that Her Highness has deigned to accept the post Of Secretary of State as consolation for Her failed presidential bid, it seems another lady with no qualifications has come along and decided she wants to be a US Senator. That lady would be Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, daughter of JFK.

Let me state at the outset that I have no axe to grind with Ms Kennedy-Schlossberg. By all accounts, she has led her life with class and dignity being the daughter of our martyred president. I am sure she has done good works and done well in her endeavors. The fact that I don't know what her endeavors have been all these years doesn't mean a hill of beans. It does indicate, however, that politically, she has not been accumulating the kind of political experience it "requires" to be a US Senator-like Hillary Rodham Clinton. Or Al Franken, for that matter.

This does, however, raise the specter of a state (New York) which welcomes people with high-profile names that want to represent the State in Congress-whether they have hereto been a resident of the state or not- Her Highness and RFK come to mind.

I remember when that nice lady, what was her name?- Nina Schmoey or something- she was considered to be on the top of the list to run for the Senate in 2000-until Her Highness decided She wanted the job. Then Ms, what was her name -had to stand next to Her Highness on the platform and feign joy when Her Highness announced that, yes, She was going to run for Senator in a state She was not even living in.

So are we seeing the repeat now? Is America so desperate for yet another Kennedy to step into the arena and begin that walk to the presidency that we all dream about-a return to Camelot-that the pressure on Governor David Paterson to appoint her will be overwhelming? Does Kennedy-Schlossberg (or is it just Kennedy again now?) have the qualifications to measure up to the performance of say, Chuckie Schumer- who knows? In fact, who knows what it takes anymore to be a senator, or governor, or president? Is it just the name that counts these days?

I got it! Nita Lowey-that's her. I say give it to the nice lady who has paid her dues. What? She doesn't want it? She's already told her party to shove the job? Good for her.

But that takes us back to the Camelot question. Isn't there somebody out there with name recognition that could be an alternative?

I got it! Terry Bradshaw-Hall of Fame Quarterback and 4-time Super Bowl winner for my Pittsburgh Steelers. It doesn't matter that he's not from New York, and besides, he'll look great next to Chuckie Schumer.

Terry Bradshaw. Write it down.

But There is Good News For the Ft Dix 5......


"Why of course we have 5 extra bunks for our new guests"

The Ft Dix Plot- Five Convicted


Heigh ho, heigh ho-It's off to jail they go



The verdict is in-five men have been convicted for conspiring to attack Ft Dix, New Jersey and kill as many military personnel as possible. The defendants, all Muslim immigrants who resided in the Philadelphia area suburbs of New Jersey, face life in prison.

Since the attack never actually occurred, the defense claimed that all there was was a lot of talk-similar to what Rod Blagoyevich's attorney is claiming. Yet, the convictions on conspiracy seem clear when considering the evidence.

First, the agreement and intent are made clear by hundreds of hours of taped conversations recorded by an FBI informant with the defendants. As I recently spelled out in a recent description of the conspiracy law pertaining to Blogoyevich, the next step necessary to complete the conspiracy would be at least one overt act by any of the conspirators. That was apparently satisfied by going into the mountains to train for the attack and attempting to purchase 7 machine guns (at which point they were arrested in May 2007).

Also seized was Jihadist literature and videos, which also helped prove intent.

In addition, the defense claimed that the government informants were persons whose credibility could not be trusted by the jury. Very possible, but in these cases, it is always the burden of the prosecutor to corroborate everything the informant(s) testify to. It appears that burden was met.

Of course, Jim Sues, executive director of CAIR in New Jersey, had a different view:

"Many people in the Muslim community will see this as a case of entrapment. From what I saw, there was a significant role played by the government informant", said Mr Sues.

Mohamed Younes, president of the American Muslim Union, adds, "I don't think they actually mean (sic) to do anything. I think they were acting stupid, like they thought the whole thing was a joke."

Hopefully, the mainstream media will give this story more than just one day and then bury it. It goes to remind us that there are some folks in this country who mean to do us harm.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What's the Problem With Rick Warren?


Pastor Rick Warren
Saddleback Church


So now Barack Obama is facing outcries from the Gay Community for his choice of Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the Inaugural on January 20. Warren, a nationally-known pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, was host to a joint forum at his church with Obama and John McCain during the election campaign. And why is the Gay Community so outraged? Because Warren is opposed to gay marriage and supported California's ballot initiative declaring marriage to be between a man and a woman.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have occasionally attended services at the Saddleback Church though I am not a member. I do know, however, that the church does a lot of great work helping the less fortunate. One couple who are friends of ours went to Africa as part of a Saddleback Church group where they helped build infrastructure in small villages. The church also has programs to help those addicted to drugs and alcohol or are involved in marital difficulties.

None of which counts to the Gay Community, which organized protests outside Warren's church after Proposition 8 passed. None of that means anything to Barney Frank, who is criticizing Obama's choice of Warren. Frank takes exception to Warren's taped response to a question about same-sex marriage that he was against the redefinition of marriage, just as he was opposed to incestuous marriage, polygamist marriage or marriage between a child and an adult. (I am paraphrasing). Apparently, Frank and others object to Warren putting gay marriage in the same breath as the other three.

Of course, every time Barney Frank has the temerity to condemn anyone, I will be quick to point out his involvement in a gay escort service run out of his Washington residence by his then-boyfriend several years ago. I will also not hesitate to point out Frank's role in the whole Fannie Mae fiasco including his conflict-of-interest relationship with a former Fannie Mae executive, Herb Moses. That is because Barney Frank is a hypocrite who has no business being in Congress.

Am I digressing here? I'll try to stay on topic. It seems to me that this so-called Gay Community-whoever it represents, is acting like a bunch of spoiled, narcissistic bullies-lashing out at whomever is opposed to same-sex marriage. Apparently, they believe that anyone opposed to same-sex marriage isn't fit for anything except perhaps scrubbing toilets. Now they are going to try and put pressure on President-elect Obama to rescind the invitation to Warren. This is a signature moment for Obama, where we will see what he is really made of. If he caves in to the gay lobby and the Barney Franks of the world and rescinds this invitation (or Warren is discreetly asked to remove himself), then we will know that we are in store for a weak president.

Weak as in Jimmy Carter weak.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Riots in Malmo


On Wednesday and Thursday nights of this week, young Muslim youths rioted in the Rosengaard section of Malmo, which is heavily inhabited by working-class immigrants. What is the reason? It seems that the local Islamic Center had to relocate because their lease had expired and the owner wanted the building for other purposes. The Center handed over keys and moved out with no problem. Then, however, on November 24, Muslim youths took over the premises as "squatters". This week, they were forcibly removed by the police, and the riots ensued. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, fires were set, cars burned and police hit with projectiles. Older Muslim community leaders have condemned the events and are attempting to work with authorities. The past two days have been calm, and the police claim to be in control.

This is not the first incident of Muslim unrest in Malmo. There was a similar riot in April of 2007 in the same Rosengaard section of Malmo. It is part of a trend that has been going on for years. It is estimated that the city will be majority Muslim in about ten years. As they wait for that magic day to arrive, young Muslims have made the city unsafe for Swedes-who are leaving in droves. Non-Muslim youths are commonly attacked by gangs of Muslim youths, and cemeteries are defaced. Christian crosses are a favorite target.

Also, in Malmo, a certain Khalid al-Yousef of the Sweden-based Al-Aqsa Spannmal Foundation has been charged with aiding and abetting terrorism in Israel.

Malmo clearly has a serious problem on its hands with an unassimilated immigrant minority that apparently has no desire to assimilate and accept Western values. The problem is similar in many Western European nations. It is obvious that the Europeans simply don't know what to do about this problem. While I sympathize with their plight, I am reminded of how, a few decades ago, European nations like Sweden were condemning the US for our treatment of minorities. In those days, they didn't have that many immigrants, but the problem was beginning as European countries were bringing in more and more working-class immigrants from poorer countries-in many cases- Muslim countries-to do work the Europeans were not willing to do.

Somewhere along the way, the idea of assimilation was forgotten about. Now, with the awakening of militant Islam, assimilation is probably now a hopeless idea.

The Passing of Dock Ellis


Dock Ellis in 1999 being inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals, Pasadena, Calif


Dock Ellis in hair curlers as a Pirate


By chance, I happened to catch the news of the passing of Dock Ellis (on the Yahoo sports web page). Ellis, a native of Los Angeles, was a star pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1968 into the 1970s. He was also a colorful personality. He was 63 when he died, the same age as me. Why am I writing of Ellis' death? While Ellis surely would not have remembered me, our paths crossed in the mid-60s.

I would have to do a little research to pinpoint the exact year, but it was surely 1964 or 1965. At the time, I was playing college baseball at Santa Monica College and semi-pro ball on the side. I had dreams of becoming a major league player (which, of course, never came to fruition).

In one of my semi-pro games, our team was playing a team from South Central LA called the Pittsburgh Pirate Rookies. (Rookie teams were common in those days. Like the Pirates, several other teams formed teams in the LA area, which were operated by locally based scouts. The players were usually local players in their farm systems or others they considered prospects. They were especially active in the off-season when "Winter-League" ball was still possible in California. Other teams that had rookie teams were the Dodgers, Phillies and Angels. I played for the Angel Rookies just before entering the Army in January 1966.)

But I digress. After playing the game against the Pirate Rookies, their coach told our coach that I would be welcome to come and work out with the Pirate Rookies on Saturdays. The coach was none other than Chet Brewer, a noted pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs in the old Negro Leagues. I eagerly accepted the invitation, and for the next couple of months, I would drive to a park in South Central where the team practiced.

And what a team it was; of course, there was Dock Ellis. In addition, there was Bobby Tolan, who was signed by the Pirates out of high school and eventually became a star outfielder with the Cincinnati Reds (Big Red Machine). There was Leon McFadden, who played briefly with the Houston Astros, Bob ("Bull") Watson, who played with the Astros and later became a top official for Major League Baseball's Commissioner's office-where he still works today. There was also Davey Nelson, who played for several major league teams and has been a coach for other teams until the present. (I don't forget Nelson because one Saturday during an inter-squad game, he spiked me in the leg while breaking up a double play at second base.)

But back to Ellis. It was on one of those Saturdays that we learned the Ellis had just signed a contract with the Pirates. Naturally, I and another player walked over to congratulate him. I remember the exchange so clearly. The other player said, "Hey Dock, congratulations on turning pro." His answer?

"Sheeet, I turned pro the day I was born, baby."

You see, this is not a knock on Ellis. When he appeared on the major league scene in 1968, he quickly established a reputation as being brash and cocky. He could back it up however, as he became a star starting pitcher. Later, he pitched for other teams, such as the Yankees, A's, Rangers and Mets. During his career, he was always talking and often saying things considered controversial. He was also considered a bit flaky. There was the time he pitched a no-hitter against San Diego and later claimed he was high on LSD at the time. There was the time when he was sent into a game as a pinch runner. It was a cold evening, and, as pitchers were allowed to do, he came out wearing a team warm up jacket. The umpire noticed that instead of a Pirates jacket, Ellis was wearing a Steelers jacket. He was promptly informed that he had to remove the Steelers jacket and put on a Pirates jacket. As he stood on the base in full view of the crowd, Ellis promptly removed the Steeler jacket, which revealed that he was not wearing any kind of shirt underneath. On another occasion, he appeared on the field in hair curlers.

David Maraniss, in his biography of Roberto Clemente, wrote movingly of the time after Clemente's untimely death when the whole Pirates team flew to Puerto Rico to participate in a memorial for "The Great One". Ellis, according to Maraniss' description, was "somber and shaken" in total contrast to the young man who was a non-stop talker. The brashness was gone as the young pitcher tried to cope with the loss of his great teammate.



Eventually, I stopped going to the Pirate workouts, and that brief association with Ellis and the others was finished. Naturally, I followed the success of Ellis and the others as they progressed to the Major Leagues. Tolan, Watson and Nelson have continued to be a part of the game as minor league manager, executive and coach respectively.

Ellis returned to California after his playing days were over and settled in Victorville working as a drug counselor. He also became active in educating younger ball players about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, which he himself had succumbed to. The Yankees hired him at one point to talk to younger players in the farm system. His cause of death has been reported as cirrhosis of the liver.

At times, I have thought back to those days in South Central. I also wondered if I had met Ellis again in later life, how he would have compared with the Ellis of his youth.

Rest in Peace, Dock.

Blago's Bizarre Press Conference


"I'm going to fight, and I'm going to fight, and I'm going to fight. (What I'm not going to do is win.")


Bizarre is the only word I can think of to describe Rod Blagoyevich's "press conference" yesterday. Actually, it wasn't really a press conference since Blago took no questions. He merely twitched and blinked repeatedly while reading a short statement telling us he was innocent, and that he would fight, fight, fight to his last breath. Then he wished us all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays before retreating back into the loving arms of his attorney. (Oh yes, he pardoned 22 felons this week too.)

Blago's performance was somewhat akin to the Cuban dictator in Godfather 2, who appeared before a New Year's celebration in the Presidential Palace to announce he was....skipping Dodge, then ended with, "Saludos! Saludos. Saludos!" (At least Batista had the sense to know when the jig was up.)

Then there is that master of the press conferences, Al Davis (see above). Rod is joining a pretty exclusive club here.

Blago shrewdly announced to the press that what he wouldn't do was engage in 30 second sound bites that his opponents would twist to suit their own purposes. Translation: He wasn't going to answer any questions.

It looks like Blago may be preparing an insanity defense. That would suit the Democrats just fine. What corrupt (Democratic) political machine in Chicago? What conspiracy? This is just a case of one insane ex-bookmaker that happened to become Governor of Illinois. Let's just get this guy to resign quietly and then....Move On.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Carona Trial- Final Defense Witnesses


"...and if witness Fousesquawk had appeared, he would have testified as follows...

'Mike Carona? Never hoiwd of em.'"


The testimony/evidentiary part of the Mike Carona trial ended today in a bizarre fashion. Several witnesses were supposed to appear and testify in Mike Carona's behalf or in Government rebuttal.

Only they didn't show. Main sticking point? It seems the witnesses had indicated that as to certain questions, they would invoke their 5th Amendment rights.

Just the kind of witnesses every lawyer dreams about putting on the stand, right?

At any rate the defense and prosecution reached an agreement that the Government would stipulate that.......

If witness so and so had appeared he/she would have testified that......

One of the problems in this trial is that some of the jurors have used the occasion to take little siestas during testimony. To make things worse, they now had to endure listening to the attorneys actually reading the stipulated testimony in court.

The other noteworthy testimony this week came from Orange County DA Tony Rackaukas, who told jurors that George Jaramillo had pressured him to go easy on accused rapist, Greg Haidl (son of Don Haidl). Specifically, Jaramillo tried to get the DA to try young Haidl as a juvenile. Jaramillo also reportedly threatened to arrange a
4 million dollar campaign contribution to whomever would run against Rackaukas in the next election if the DA didn't cooperate. Rackaukas testified that the meeting ended angrily, he did not do what Jaramillo asked-but that Carona himself never pressured him.

Thus, the trial of Mike Carona limped to the finish line. Now all that is left is closing arguments. Due to the Christmas holidays, that will happen on January 6.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bill Clinton's Donor List-Conflict of Interest?


Now that Bill Clinton has "revealed" his list of donors, an examination of the countries involved has to beg the question: Will there exist a conflict of interest when Madame Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton takes over the reins as the head of our diplomatic corps?

I'll let you make the call.

Keep in mind that there are no incriminating taped phone calls, bugged hotel rooms or informants coming forward to testify. Based on your common sense, you make the call.

It has now been made public (as part of Hillary's vetting process for the State job) that over the past ten years, Bill Clinton has received tens of millions of dollars from several governments to Clinton's foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, which funds that notorious library in Arkansas and other works to supposedly alleviate poverty, hunger and AIDS around the world. Here are some of the contributors:

Government of Saudi Arabia- $10-25 million dollars.

Government of Brunei- $ 1+ million dollars.

Same amounts from the governments of Kuwait, Oman, Norway and Qatar.

In addition, Clinton has received at least a million bucks from the Dubai Foundation of the United Arab Emirates and the "Friends of Saudi Arabia" founded by some Saudi prince.

Individual donors include a Nigerian businessman tied closely to a former military head of state, an Indian billionaire steel magnet (Amar Singh), who is reputed to be the 4th richest man in the world, and who has previously lobbied Hillary for a joint Indian-US civilian nuclear power venture, a Canadian mining executive who took Bill on a junket to Kazakhstan as he was trying to gain a lucrative uranium contract, and a Ukrainian businessman who is the son-in-law of a former authoritarian president of that country.

And that doesn't include the monster speaking fees that big-wigs fork over to have Der Schlikmeister come and lie to them for an hour.

Now don't write me nasty grams pointing out my complete lack of evidence as to pro-quid-pro. Just sit back and meditate awhile about all your memories of Bill Clinton as president. And if you conclude that everything is on the up-and up, fine. In a criminal court, you would win the case as things now stand.

However, do you really think there is no reason to fear that when Hillary goes negotiatin' with these folks, there will be no conflict of interest-no tendency to see things the Saudi way or the Nigerian way?

You make the call.

I know. I know. All former presidents, Republican and Democrat, have collected huge sums for speaking fees. Clinton is not the first, nor will he be the last. But how unseemly for a public official to cash in on his/her service to the nation and take in multi-millions.

Make no mistake folks, the Clintons are back, big time, chasing every loose nickel down the street. It will come up in the next four years; Hillary takes the side of the Saudis, Omanis, Kuwaitis et al as Bill continues to rake in the cash from the same "donors."

The Carona Trial-The Defense (Sort of)


I'll say!


With the prosecution having rested without calling Mike Carona's former sleazeball Asst. Sheriff George Jaramillo to the stand, the defense is now scrambling to find someone to testify on behalf of the disgraced former sheriff in his federal corruption trial.

Brian Sun, one of Carona's attorneys is complaining to the judge that most witnesses he would like to call to the stand are getting out of Dodge before the subpoenas arrive. Those that he has been able to collar have basically painted a negative picture of prosecution witnesses like Jaramillo, Don Haidl and suspended attorney Joe Cavallo. Of course, everyone already knows that those guys are sleazeballs. The defense has, however, managed to cast doubt on one aspect of Haidl's testimony when he tried to imply that he had never passed on illegal contributions to other politicians before his involvement with Carona.

One witness, a certain Albert Hanna, testified this week that he gave Jaramillo a job with his finance company after he (Jaramillo) had been fired by Carona. In addition, Hanna also gave jobs to Jaramillo's wife, sister-in-law, cousin and the cousin's wife. When asked how it all went, Hanna sighed, "he ended up introducing Joe Cavallo to my (then) wife, and things went downhill from there."

Of course, once the defense attorneys have finished convincing the jurors that all of the people Carona surrounded himself with (and have turned against him) are sewer rats, they will then have to deal with the irrefutable fact that their client.....surrounded himself with sewer rats.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Blagoyevich Case-Is There a Conspiracy?


Today, Governor Rod Blagoyevich's attorney, Ed Genson, dismissed the taped telephone conversations against his client as mere jibber-jabber since no deal had been made and no money changed hands. Others (like Alan Colmes) are beginning to question whether the Government really has a case on Blagoyevich for the same reason. Eventually, the tapes will tell the tale-what Blagoyevich and others said will be crucial. US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has already told us some of the things the Governor said. We are still waiting to learn what Rahm Emanuel and others may have said or did not say on tape. The question is: can you prosecute Blagoyevich if no money changed hands and no Senate appointment was made?

First of all, anyone who thinks that there is no conspiracy here is delusional. This is more than just one crazy governor looking for a Senate buyer. Remember, this is Illinois-more specifically, Chicago that we are talking about here. There is a conspiracy, but a lot of people don't understand what the conspiracy law is. Different states have their own version of it, and the Federal Government has conspiracy statutes as well.

The Federal Conspiracy statute, explained in simple terms is as follows:

Two or more people (not including a Government agent)enter into an agreement to violate the law or achieve some legitimate end via illegal means. The agreement must be a sound agreement, with the co-conspirators knowing the illegal nature of their acts. In addition, the objective of the conspiracy must be realistically obtainable. For example, a conspiracy to smuggle Limburger cheese from the Moon without paying Customs taxes would not be a real conspiracy.

Once the agreement is reached, one or more of the conspirators must commit an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy. The overt act does not have to be an illegal act in itself. For example, under the federal drug conspiracy statute (21 USC 846), which we used regularly in DEA, if two or more people agreed to travel to Mexico to smuggle heroin back into the US, and one person purchased airline tickets to Mexico, that would be an overt act. Other overt acts could be telephone calls, e-mails, hotel reservations, meetings etc.-anything in furtherance of the conspiracy. It is also not necessary for each co-conspirator to know all the others. In a large criminal organization, that is usually not possible.

You might ask, "how do you prove the existence of the actual agreement between the co-conspirators? Obviously, they don't draw up contracts." True enough, but the agreement can often be inferred from the overall evidence. It is also often supplied by the testimony of a cooperating witness/defendant, or unindicted co-conspirator who was involved in the conspiracy at some point.

The bottom line is that a conspiracy actually involves an attempt to commit a crime. Why have the law in the first place? Because-especially in drug cases-it enables the law to prosecute those at the top who direct other but never commit the actual criminal acts-or touch the drugs themselves. It also means that drug traffickers can be prosecuted even if no drug seizure has ever been made. We prove through the conspiracy and the evidence/testimony that drug transactions were, in fact, carried out.

In the case of Blagoyevich, there are obviously a lot of spaces to be filled in-at least for us in the public. If the tapes show others to be planning to buy the Senate seat, then all that is needed for a conspiracy to occur would be at least one overt act. For example, if-and I repeat if- the purpose of those two meetings at an Indian restaurant in Schaumberg were to buy a Senate seat for Jesse Jackson Jr, then those meetings would constitute overt acts, and the crime of conspiracy would be complete. If participants to those meetings went out and solicited funds to pass on to Blagoyevich, those are overt acts as well.

So the fact that Blagoyevich was arrested before he could actually sell the seat to whomever and collect his cash does not mean that a crime was not committed. Who the actual co-conspirators are remains to be divulged. Common sense tells me that there are others out there besides his aide John Harris (also indicted).

Furthermore, if the Government makes a deal with Blagoyevich, there is no telling how big this conspiracy could turn out to be.