Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bashing Democrats

The Boston Globe published an embarrassingly fawning article about MA Senator John Kerry in yesterday's paper. I won't link it, because I don't want to give boston.com the web hits. Governor Deval Patrick may be an empty suit, but Kerry is the original empty suit do nothing politician. The Globe describes Kerry's service to the Commonwealth as being more caring than ever and exceeding expectations. What the Globe should've asked is why did it take him FIVE terms to care about his job or perform it well? I don't recall reading such a feature when Mitt Romney or Paul Cellucci were governor - both of whom had significant positive accomplishments during their tenures as governor. Could it have anything to do with Romney and Cellucci being Republicans? Nah!!! No way!

Remember when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would have sales tax holidays for one day every year in August? Well, now under liberal, tone deaf Governor Deval Patrick we have an August sales tax hike - from 5% to 6.25%. Governor Patrick has not fulfilled one campaign promise from his "Together We Can" tour of 2006. He's been an impotent leader and isn't even respected by leaders in his own party in the Legislature. The 2010 gubernatorial campaign can't come soon enough for me. Tim Cahill or Christy Mihos would both be excellent replacements for Patrick.

I still can't believe that the voters of Minnesota elected Al Franken to be their U.S. Senator. Then again, they elected Jesse Ventura as Governor, so I shouldn't be surprised by their awe of celebrities.

There's political unrest in Honduras, Iran's election was a mess, and North Korea is threatening to launch a practice missile in the direction of Hawaii. What is President Obama going to do about all this? This is one of those times where I wish there were some adults in charge (i.e. Dick Cheney) around the White House.

Gallup has a poll in which more Americans are finding the Democratic Party as "Too Liberal". Really? No way! Where were they back in November?

The Supreme Court made the correct decision on a 5-4 vote where they came to the conclusion that white New Haven firefighters were discriminated against when they were denied promotions in favor of minorities who scored lower on the tests than the white firefighters. It is good to see that a majority of the Supreme Court found discrimination to be color blind. What is disconcerting is four members of the Supreme Court were okay with discrimination in the name of diversity. Barack Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, (who as a member of a lower court, ruled in favor of discrimination) to the Supreme Court should be fought hard by Republicans.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Sox

The Red Sox are in Washington, DC to begin a series vs. the Montreal Expo...oops, I mean the Washington Nationals tonight. The Nationals are an atrocious team, architected by former GM Jim Bowden, who during his tenure as GM made a complete mess of them. Don't forget Bowden was one of the names Larry Lucchino was considering to be come Red Sox GM when Theo Epstein was on his sabbatical. How badly would've that turned out?

Looks like the naysayers like myself were wrong. David Ortiz has finally snapped out of his slump and is showing power and better bat speed. Papi really looked hopeless the first two months of the season. So far in the month of June, Ortiz is hitting .308 with 5 HR and 12 RBI with a .400 OBP. Phew! Without Ortiz being the thunder in the order, the Red Sox are destined to another ALCS elimination.

Going in the opposite direction is Jason Varitek, whose average has fallen into the .220's. I am not particularly surprised, considering it was June when his average started falling last year. Terry Francona needs to give him more days off. George Kottaras has done a nice job with the bat of late when he's been in the lineup. Kottaras has a nice swing and has shown in his two months at the major league level to be a good receiver behind the plate.

Nick Green is one of those David Eckstein kind of guys. A scrapper and hustler who everyone underestimates. While he made some errors earlier in the year, he's been steadier in the field and he's been consistent with the bat all year. When Jed Lowrie comes back, Lowrie's going to have to earn his starting job back. Even if Lowrie becomes the starter again, Green is certainly an improvement off the bench over Alex Cora, the utility man the last few years.

No Dice-K, no problem. John Smoltz will fill his spot in the rotation and if Smoltz has difficulty getting it going after offseason surgery, Clay Buchholz is in Pawtucket and he's more than ready for the big leagues. Buchholz is beyond the point of needing any more seasoning. While he's obviously frustrated that he's still in Pawtucket, if Clay hadn't pitched so awful in Boston last year, he'd be in the rotation now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the Political Front

Very soon, a comprehensive health care bill will be submitted by the House of Representatives and Senate, which could finally bring universal health care to the United States. Universal health care coverage is considered the centerpiece of President Obama's domestic agenda. Considering the Democratic advantages in the House and the Senate, this is the best opportunity yet to implement a universal health care (or "single payer") system.

Socialized medicine has been implemented in countries such as Great Britain and Canada and the results have been mixed. While everyone in those countries is covered by health insurance, when those of us in the U.S. hear of universal health care, it is of the horror stories of the 12-18 month waits for hip replacements. Also, the cost of implementing such a system in the U.S. would be astronomical. When I read of the cost projections for universal health care, I immediately think of Boston's Big Dig. The original cost estimate for the Big Dig was supposed to be $2 billion. Fifteen years later when the project was finally completed, the cost was $14 billion. I'm very skeptical about the projections that universal health insurance will cost $1 trillion over the next decade. I believe these projections are based on a very best case scenario.

However, a convincing argument by populists can be made regarding the cost of the Iraq war and the bank bailouts. Proponents will say if we can afford a war and bank bailouts, why can't we provide health insurance to all? This is certainly a legitimate point.

The cost of private health insurance continues to skyrocket and outpace inflation. Eventually companies are going to try to depress the salaries of their employees and consider the cost paid for employees health insurance as part of their salaries. Everyone knows that the cost of a routine doctor's visit is outrageous. The biggest issue with the cost of healthcare is the insurance required by doctors due to medical malpractice suits. Tort reform to prevent frivolous medical malpractice suits is certainly one of the measures needed to "bend the curve", the current buzz phrase being used to bring health care costs in line.

Ideas are being floated to help pay for the cost of universal health care. One idea is for the federal government to treat any health insurance that costs greater than $15,000 as income and tax it accordingly. Already, this proposal is being met with resistance from both Republicans and moderate Democrats.

I don't necessarily believe all the demagoguing coming from Republicans who are against it, but I also am skeptical about the way the Democrats are selling this - You can have it all and everyone will be covered! If it sounds like a pipe dream and too good to be true, it probably is. Also, don't forget that such a system will require the creation of a massive new government bureacracy, and as we all know, the federal government isn't exactly known for it's efficiency.

The key to the success of the Democrats passing universal healthcare legislation are seniors. So far, from what's been proposed, there hasn't been much of an additional benefit to them other than what they receive from Medicare. Considering seniors are the most reliable voting bloc in the U.S., placating them and giving them additional benefits could be the difference between getting a bill passed or it failing.

The results of the recent election in Iran has turned into a real problem for the world; a problem that must be handled with finesse and restraint. Heading into the June 12th election, polls had challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi holding a big lead and getting 63% of the vote. Such poll results are in line with the frustration of the people of Iran, who have experienced very high inflation and chronic unemployment under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So imagine the surprise across Iran when the results were quickly announced by the state run media that incumbent President Ahmadinejad won in a landslide. Mmm. Something certainly smells fishy there.

President Ahmadinejad is a terrorist sponsoring thug, who is working to build up a nuclear weapon arsenal in Iran. Considering his past radical statements about Israel, he isn't someone the world would want to have access to nuclear weapons. However, Mir Hossein Mousavi isn't exactly an altar boy, either. Mousavi is also a proponent of terrorism, but in this case, seemingly any change at the top in Iran would help ease world tensions.

Since the results have been announced, there have been rallies and protests in the street. The people of Iran believe the election was stolen from them, and they seem to have a good case. Tensions rose yesterday, when gunfire broke out from a militia group shooting at the demonstrators, killing at least seven and wounding several people.

I don't see a resolution to this situation where Mousavi winds up the victor. Any recount efforts (wink, wink) will likely result in a similar result. One thing I do know is Mousavi may want to put a will together, because based upon the situation, he doesn't appear to be long for this world.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Things On My Mind On A Rainy Day

Some thoughts on another gloomy June New England day...

Boston Globe scribe Nick Cafardo mentioned today that Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield is worthy of being considered for the All Star Game. STOP IT! Despite Wakefield being 8-3, guys with 4.50 ERA's aren't All Stars. Wakefield has pitched well when the Red Sox have needed him, but an All Star, he is not.

Next time Cafardo writes a column like this, how about if he does a little research about how Wakefield stacks up against the rest of the American League pitchers? Here are some that are far more deserving this season than Wakefield: Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett, CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Erik Bedard, Felix Hernandez, Edwin Jackson, Mark Buerhle - and those are just the starting pitchers. I didn't even mention relievers.

David Letterman should be ashamed of himself for the tasteless jokes he made about Sarah Palin and her family. Of course, since Palin is an independently thinking woman (i.e. doesn't toe the NOW/Democratic Party line), the Palins are given the no holds barred treatment by the liberal media. What if someone like Don Imus had made similar cracks about Nancy Pelosi? How would that be treated?

It baffles me how Letterman still even has a show. He wasn't funny in 1986, never mind in 2009. From what I've seen of his show, I've never once cracked a smile, never mind laughed. David Letterman's show is boring and tedious to me.

Regarding the Massachusetts Governor's Race in 2010 - ABD - Anyone But Deval. I just hope that there isn't an independent candidate, so votes don't get siphoned from the Republican candidate.

President Barack Obama was quoted the other day as saying it was ok to borrow money for healthcare. On the surface, it's not that outrageous of a quote, until you realize how much money the U.S. Government is now borrowing to stay afloat. Currently, the U.S. budget deficit is hovering around $1.7 trillion and the National Debt is $11 trillion. In 2011, the Baby Boomers will begin retiring, thus the Social Security trust fund will be drained over the next decade. Exactly, how is the U.S. Government even in a position to borrow another penny? I can't see China continuing to loan us money.

The definition of silliness - Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio describing star defensive lineman John Henderson's decision to sit out OTA's (Organized Team Activities) due to a bruised shoulder as "(Vince) Lombardi is probably rolling over right now." This is Exhibit A as to why Jack Del Rio should no longer be an NFL head coach. It's EARLY JUNE! Training camp isn't for another 6 weeks! Calling out one of your best players in the offseason isn't exactly the way to inspire your football team!

On the subject of OTA's, I didn't realize that they are actually different than minicamps. Teams aren't supposed to be hitting during OTA's, but I'm sure many of them do. The OTA's are "voluntary". If you are a marginal NFL player, attending OTA's is probably a wise idea. However, if you're an established player who's going to be finishing a rookie contract and looking at free agency at the end of the upcoming season, the last place to be is at the OTA's. Why risk an injury when you technically don't have to be there? The fact that these are "voluntary", makes Del Rio's comment about Henderson all the more ludicrous.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Yankees Are In Town

The first place New York Yankees roll into town tonight for a 3 game series vs. the Red Sox. The Bronx Bombers have been red hot since the return of slugger Alex Rodriguez and have recovered from a slow start to bypass the Red Sox and Blue Jays into first place.

Big ticket free agent acquisitions Mark Teixiera and CC Sabathia have both produced according to their contracts, and Nick Swisher has brought a fun attitude into the notoriously stiff Yankee clubhouse as well as having belted 12 HR and bringing flexibility to the bench.

LF Johnny Damon is having a tremendous year, hitting 12 HR from the second spot in the order, after he and SS Derek Jeter were flip flopped. Jeter is sporting a .379 OBP from the leadoff spot and has 8 HR. Despite his critics who think he is overrated and a defensive liability, Jeter is still an excellent player who can get on base and has the power to take advantage of the short porch in RF, where he has been known to deposit seemingly lazy fly balls the opposite way into the first few rows of seats for home runs. Jeter's ability to handle the bat and use the entire field with an occasional inside-out swing is one of the most underrated aspects of his game. Regarding Jeter's lack of range at SS, all I know is he has far more range at SS than the much maligned Julio Lugo of the Red Sox.

From the looks of it, the Yankees are settling right into their home at the new Yankee Stadium, which has already earned a reputation as a launching pad for home runs. Things are going so well for the Yankees right now, that even CF Melky Cabrera, who was all but left for dead on the side of the road at the end of last year, has reclaimed the starting CF job and has been a key contributor with 6 HR and a few game winning hits. The Melk Man is the player teams don't want to face at the plate in the 9th inning right now - he's batting a scorching .471 in the 9th inning this season.

On paper, the Yankee starting rotation looks excellent, but other than Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain, has been shaky. Chamberlain has become an occasionally dominant starter and is pitching very well. Free agent acquisition A.J. Burnett has been a disappointment - the low point being when he blew a 6-0 lead vs. the Red Sox back in April. Andy Pettitte has benefited from good run support, thus his 6-2 record. Chien-Ming Wang has been excrutiatingly bad and has a 14.46 ERA.

The biggest area of weakness for the Yankees is their bullpen, which is a mess. Mariano Rivera, while good, is still getting back to full strength after offseason shoulder surgery. Besides Rivera, none of the other members of the Yankee relief corp would make the Red Sox bullpen. The Yankees are hopeful that young Phil Hughes can stabilize the set up role. Considering Hughes' struggles at the major league level, that may be wishful thinking. When healthy, Brian Bruney is a decent reliever. However, it seems his arm is showing the effects of being abused during the Joe Torre era. The rest of their bullpen is filled with pitchers who are borderline major leaguers.

This series will be a good benchmark for the Yankees to see where they are at. The Red Sox are 5-0 against them so far this season. They've played significantly better baseball since the last time they faced the Red Sox and during that timeframe the Yankees set the record for most games without an error.

While most of the Red Sox-Yankees series are overhyped, this June series has more meaning to it than cynics think. If the Yankees do well, and take 2 out of 3, then they will still be cruising along playing good ball. If the Red Sox take 2 or sweep the series, it could slow the Yankee Express down a bit or even derail them.

Let's hope that the weather holds out and we get to catch the playoff type atmosphere at Fenway Park (America's Most Overrated Ballpark) over the next three days.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Random Thoughts for a Friday

Thank you to Rodney Harrison for his great contributions to the Patriots Dynasty. Rodney is hanging them up at the right time. He's been unable to play a full season for three years now, due to various injuries. Rodney's style of physical play isn't conducive with a long playing career. Harrison is so beloved amongst the Patriots faithful, that his positive drug test for HGH is swept under the rug and pretty much forgotten. Despite my enthusiasm for young safeties Patrick Chung and Brandon Meriweather, Rodney was the best safety the Patriots have ever had play for them and he'll be missed.

It's great to see Josh Beckett starting to settle in and pitch like the ace he's supposed to be. His last few outings have been great. I also appreciated how he drilled Gerald Laird late in the game Wednesday, when the game was pretty much already decided after Laird attempted a bunt in the sixth inning while Beckett still had a no hitter going.

Surprise, surprise, another Massachusetts House Speaker in trouble with the law. This time former Speaker Sal DiMasi was indicted on accepting kickbacks from a software company, in order for them to secure a state contract. What DiMasi is accused of doing is as bad as former State Senator Dianne Wilkerson accepting bribes. They both should be thrown in jail for a long time and considering this is the third consecutive Speaker of the House to be accused of ethics violations, an example should be made of them.

I caught some of Newt Gingrich on Hannity last night. Newt made some great points regarding President Obama's speech in Cairo. Why is President Obama talking down America? Instead, he should be speaking about all the great things we have done for the Muslim world. He should be speaking about the freedom from oppression we brought the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the millions the U.S. sent in humanitarian aid to nations such as Thailand and Indonesia which were devastated by the 2004 tsunami; both with large Muslim populations.

When I shake my head at the thought of the future of television with rubbish such as Jon and Kate Plus 8, Extreme Home Makeover, I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Outta Here! and Dancing With the Stars, a show like Rescue Me restores my faith that no matter what happens, there will always be a high quality show available to watch. After a slow start to this season, Rescue Me has really picked up and this has been an excellent season.

I was on youtube.com the other day, looking up old music videos, when I stumbled upon Olivia Newton-John. Now I don't own any of her music, but in looking back at her career, she might have had the most underrated singing career of the 70's-80's. Rarely, is she mentioned when someone will talk about the biggest musicians of that timeframe. You'll hear names like The Eagles, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Bee Gees, Hall & Oates, etc. How about this collection of hits by her during that timeframe: Let Me Be There, I Honestly Love You, Have You Ever Been Mellow, Sam, Hopelessly Devoted To You, Summer Nights, You're The One That I Want, Magic, Suddenly, Physical, Make A Move On Me, and Twist of Fate. Wow! She may not have been the best, but was certainly dominant for about eight to ten years.

What is up with the weather here in the Northeast? It's June and we've yet to have any nice consistent 90 degree days. I want to open my pool, but don't want to open it when the air is 68 degrees and the water a bit colder than that. At every one of my children's softball and baseball games, I'm wearing a light jacket.