Thursday, July 26, 2007

Quote of the Day

"As anyone can plainly see, I'm 5-6½ and a strapping 150, and unlike some people, I came by all of it naturally...I've actually always had a pretty cordial relationship with Barry. I have no ill feelings toward him personally. I regard him as one of the greatest players of all time who got inauthentic boost and then became a superhuman player. I wish him no ill whatsoever...He's under tremendous scrutiny and some pressure. It's no big deal. This is a consequence of doing your job, and I've never tried to do my job in any case with the intention of calling attention to myself. I think if people watch the program, they can judge for themselves."
--Bob Costas in response to comments from Barry Bonds, July 26, 2007

FYI: Bonds had this to see about the NBC broadcaster: "little midget man who knows (nothing) about baseball."

John McCain

I'll tell you. This McCain guy must not be getting around so well with his staff. John McCain has lost more staff than a television show with low ratings.

He was going to hire Lindsay Lohan but no one told him that she was already booked.

Political ads in newspapers are making a comeback. When asked for comment, one person said that they are putting them with the adult ads. As if we needed something else to stare at...

McCain's lost so much staffers that he might resign himself. After throwing his hat in the ring, he'll have to watch out for everyone while he goes to retrieve it.

If money is what McCain needs, why doesn't he just go straight to the source: Las Vegas.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Three Weeks are over....

Now that that's done with for now, I can play my guitar again and relieve some of this stress.

So did you hear the one about Lindsay Lohan? You did? Nevermind then.

All I know is that if I were to get into film, and I am, I wouldn't want her anywhere near the set. She never took an acting class. Never reads the script. Never particpates in on-set rehearsals. Who does she think she is, the president?

So Greg Stumbo is looking at a possible run for Senate. He's gonna give Mitch McConnell a run at his money for sure. Mitch will come crying to the president and you know when it's that bad, he'll look at the poll numbers and see that it's to Kentucky's advantage that the president comes to town. It worked for the Democrats in 2006.

Jonathan Miller turned 40 today so have a happy birthday.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is being hailed as the future of the party. His candidacy for president is being announced at a later date.

An NBA referee is being probed for betting on NBA games. Wait a minute here, when did Pete Rose join the NBA?

So did you hear the one where Lindsay Lohan got a DUI? No. This is a different one. She's the new Paris Hilton except that her father doesn't own a hotel.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tisha B'Av

Tonight at sunset through sunset tomorrow evening, Jewish people across the world will be observing the fast of Tisha B'Av--well, at least for those of us that do observe the holiday like myself.

This date, in the Jewish calendar, is the saddest date in the history of Judaism. Just about everything bad that happened to the Jewish people has happened on this date:
-The destruction of the First (586 BCE) and Second Temple (70 CE)
-The 12 spies returned from surveying the land of Canaan(Numbers 13-14)
-Bar Kokhba's revolt failed as he was killed
-The razing of Jerusalem
-Expulsion from England (1590)
-Germany declared war on Russia in World War 1 (1914)
-Preparations for the Final Solution (1941)
-Transports reached Treblinka and Extermination of the Warsaw Ghetto (1942)

Friday, July 20, 2007

NBA Official bets on games

A report came out that the FBI is investigating a NBA referee who bet on NBA games. I know what you're thinking, since when did Pete Rose officiate in the NBA.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

2007 Emmy Nominations for the 59th Annual Emmy Awards

Outstanding Comedy Series
"Entourage" (2004)
"The Office" (2005)
"30 Rock" (2006)
"Two and a Half Men" (2003)
"Ugly Betty" (2006)

Outstanding Drama Series
"Boston Legal" (2004)
"Grey's Anatomy" (2005)
"Heroes" (2006/II)
"House M.D." (2004)
"The Sopranos" (1999)

Outstanding Made for Television Movie
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007) (TV)
9/11: The Twin Towers (2006)
Longford (2006) (TV)
The Ron Clark Story (2006) (TV)
Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy (2006) (TV)

Outstanding Miniseries
Broken Trail (2006) (TV)
Prime Suspect: The Final Act (2006) (TV)
"The Starter Wife" (2007) (mini)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" (2006)
Steve Carell, "The Office" (2005)
Ricky Gervais, "Extras" (2005)
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" (2002)
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" (2003)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
James Gandolfini, "The Sopranos" (1999)
Hugh Laurie, "House M.D." (2004)
Denis Leary, "Rescue Me" (2004)
James Spader, "Boston Legal" (2004)
Kiefer Sutherland, "24" (2001)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Jim Broadbent, Longford (2006) (TV)
Robert Duvall, Broken Trail (2006) (TV)
William H. Macy, "Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King" (2006) (mini)
Matthew Perry, The Ron Clark Story (2006) (TV)
Tom Selleck, Jesse Stone: Sea Change (2007) (TV)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty" (2006)
Tina Fey, "30 Rock" (2006)
Felicity Huffman, "Desperate Housewives" (2004)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2006)
Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds" (2005)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Patricia Arquette, "Medium" (2005)
Minnie Driver, "The Riches" (2007)
Edie Falco, "The Sopranos" (1999)
Sally Field, "Brothers & Sisters" (2006)
Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999)
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" (2005)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Queen Latifah, Life Support (2007)
Debra Messing, "The Starter Wife" (2007) (mini)
Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect: The Final Act (2006) (TV)
Mary-Louise Parker, The Robber Bride (2007) (TV)
Gena Rowlands, What If God Were the Sun? (2007) (TV)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men" (2003)
Kevin Dillon, "Entourage" (2004)
Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother" (2005)
Jeremy Piven, "Entourage" (2004)
Rainn Wilson, "The Office" (2005)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Michael Emerson, "Lost" (2004)
Michael Imperioli, "The Sopranos" (1999)
T.R. Knight, "Grey's Anatomy" (2005)
Masi Oka, "Heroes" (2006/II)
Terry O'Quinn, "Lost" (2004)
William Shatner, "Boston Legal" (2004

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Edward Asner, The Christmas Card (2006) (TV)
Thomas Haden Church, Broken Trail (2006) (TV)
Joe Mantegna, "The Starter Wife" (2007) (mini)
Aidan Quinn, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007) (TV)
August Schellenberg, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007) (TV)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Conchata Ferrell, "Two and a Half Men" (2003)
Jenna Fischer, "The Office" (2005)
Elizabeth Perkins, "Weeds" (2005)
Jaime Pressly, "My Name Is Earl" (2005)
Holland Taylor, "Two and a Half Men" (2003)
Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty" (2006)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Lorraine Bracco, "The Sopranos" (1999)
Rachel Griffiths, "Brothers & Sisters" (2006)
Katherine Heigl, "Grey's Anatomy" (2005)
Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy" (2005)
Aida Turturro, "The Sopranos" (1999)
Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy" (2005)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Toni Collette, Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006) (TV)
Judy Davis, "The Starter Wife" (2007) (mini)
Samantha Morton, Longford (2006) (TV)
Anna Paquin, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007) (TV)
Greta Scacchi, Broken Trail (2006) (TV)

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
"The Colbert Report" (2005)
"The Daily Show" (1996)
"Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (1993)
"Late Show with David Letterman" (1993)
"Real Time with Bill Maher" (2003)

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
"The Amazing Race" (2001)
"American Idol: The Search for a Superstar" (2002)
"Dancing with the Stars" (2005/I)
"Project Runway" (2005)
"Top Chef" (2006)

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Special
Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner (2006) (TV)
Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (2006) (TV)
Lewis Black: Red, White and Screwed (2006) (TV)
Tony Bennett: An American Classic (2006) (TV)
A Tribute to James Taylor
Wanda Sykes: Sick and Tired (2006) (TV)

Outstanding Reality Program
"Antiques Roadshow" (1997)
"The Dog Whisperer" (2004)
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (2003)
"Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" (2005)
"Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" (2003)

Outstanding Animated Program
"Avatar: The Last Airbender" (2005)
"Robot Chicken" (2005)
"The Simpsons" (1989)
"South Park" (1997)
"SpongeBob SquarePants" (1999)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Old-School Quote of the Day

"If my phone's not ringing at the moment, I'll leave them with one last piece of advice. It's not just about show business, but bout life business. Yes, it's in Yiddish, but I promise them, and I promise you, my reader, that it's the last Yiddish proverb I'll throw at you. I'm a comic, for Chrissakes, not a rabbi. But this is a good one, and it's taken me eighty-six years to figure out it's truth. Everybody ready?

"Mensch tracht, Gott Lacht.

"Man plans, G-d laughs.

"In other words, life is an accident. Plan ahead as much as you want, plot out your career moves as though it's an arithmetic problem. Fate will usually have something else in mind. It might be great, it might be terrible, but all you can do is hang on."
--Henny Youngman, Take my Life, Please!: Chapter 1 - What I Tell the Young Comics at the Friars Club, or Just Because You're Eighty-Six Doesn't Mean You're An Alter Kocker, 1991

These words of the late comedy great are so true.

True, some might be old news...

That's what happens when you change your google alerts to once a week...

House lawmakers are upset with the GOP over the robocalls.
Democrats and Republicans sparred throughout the day Tuesday, casting blame on each other for a stalled special session of the General Assembly, and even calling for people's jobs.

"On the one hand he's calling for peace, on the other hand he's calling for war," state Democratic Party chairman Jonathan Miller said of Gov. Ernie Fletcher outside the Capitol Tuesday. "On one hand he's calling to cool down things, on the other hand he's stirring the pot back up."

On Monday night, the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled House, which had adjourned last week short after the session began, were deadlocked in disagreement on virtually everything. Meanwhile, the state GOP sent out thousands of automated phone calls to people across the state, criticizing Democrats for leaving town as they did.

Primarily, lawmakers' disagreement hinged on whether Gov. Ernie Fletcher should have even forced them into a special session in the first place.
The October 4th season premiere of 30 Rock will have none other than Jerry Seinfeld guest-starring as himself.
Jerry Seinfeld returns to NBC in a rare guest-star turn when he appears as himself in the second-season premiere of NBC's critically acclaimed comedy "30 Rock" on October 4 (Thursday, 8:30-9 p.m. ET), it was announced today by Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios.

"Thursday night is a powerful comedy line up for NBC. To have Jerry join '30 Rock' for its second season launch is impressive, to have him return even for one night in his old Thursday night turf -- is just classic," said Silverman.

"I was thrilled to be asked to guest star on NBC's hit comedy '30 Rock.' I think it's going to be so refreshing for me to be playing myself in a show that has nothing to do with neurotic, dysfunctional New York characters," said Jerry Seinfeld.

"We're very excited to have Jerry on '30 Rock.' Finally, my parents have an excuse to watch the show," added Tina Fey, star/creator/executive producer of "30 Rock."
Might we be seeing a shift in Israeli policy from France?

Well, this is different. But it's to be expected when one is running for office or is a celebrity. Heck, if you don't have a sense of humor, stay out of the limelight.
The cast of Second City's "Between Barack and a Hard Place" found itself playing to a woman presumably familiar with that very spot.

Michelle Obama, the wife of the senator and presidential candidate, turned up Friday at the theater on Wells Street. She was joined by Maya Soetoro-Ng of Honolulu (Sen. Barack Obama's half sister), and her husband, Konrad Ng. And even though the edgy show features everything from a gay assassin (who falls in love with his mark) to an appearance by Abraham Lincoln, who insists on calling the senator B.O., the Obama family group laughed uproariously all night.

Michelle Obama said she wasn't offended by the depiction of her husband as a kind of vessel for the most absurd hopes and dreams. "You get used to all this," she said.
Democratic candidates got a boost from Senator Evan Bayh.
The Indiana senator has long since abandoned his 2008 presidential plans, but a training regimen he launched more than a year ago has paid off for most of the candidates still vying for the Democratic nomination.

The plan for Camp Bayh, as it was called, was to give a flock of young staffers a weeklong crash course in campaign basics, then turn them loose on local campaigns in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere. The goal was to earn good will for Bayh by feeding staffers to local campaigns, then build the skeleton of a presidential campaign using the now-experienced workers.

It didn't work out that way, as Bayh decided he couldn't compete against what he called Democratic "Goliaths."[...]

"I'm proud to know I was their first choice, but I'm also pleased to know that they're devoted to the process," Bayh said.

Participants said the training was intense, with long sessions on campaign basics such as organizing door-knocking efforts, dealing with the media and raising money.[...]

Former staffers on Bayh's presidential campaign admit it's a little odd to see camp graduates scattered to so many candidates, but they said the result has been heartening.

"It is sometimes surreal to see the fruits of two years of hard work preparing for the Bayh presidential campaign benefiting other candidates and campaigns," said Dan Pfeiffer, the deputy communications director for Barack Obama's campaign. "But at the end of the day, Evan Bayh did a great service for these kids and the party as a whole."
This is strange: new definitions of American Judaism. Admit it. You've seen at least one episode of Seinfeld. Don't deny it.

It's official at this point. There will be no X-Men 4. I can understand that seeing as how they basically killed off several key cast members of the group for no reason. It's a shame though. There are so many stories to tell but then how will you pay for all these cast members to reprise their roles?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wildcat blogging...

Mike DeCourcy writes that Billy Gillispie is bringing the talent back to UK.

He worked for Bill Self at the University of Illinois so this should come as no surprise.
"Billy," Self said, "this is not going to be a lot of fun."

At first, Gillispie didn't get what Self meant. But now, he fully comprehends. In less than three months on the job, Gillispie has embarked on a recruiting rampage, and Self's Kansas program has been right in the thick of it. Gillispie has gained commitments from two players whom the Jayhawks coveted, incoming freshman guard Alex Legion of Detroit and rising senior point guard DeAndre Liggins of Chicago.

And this is only the beginning. The two friends -- Gillispie says they're more like brothers -- are in the running for several other blue-chippers in the class of 2008.

"I have a much better feel for it now than I did two to three months ago when he said those things," Gillispie said. "Because we've been recruiting some of the same guys the last three months, I better understand now what Coach was talking about. There's a sense of sadness."

It's hard to feel bad for Gillispie, though. His early recruiting victories have been swift and fierce, leaving minimal room for feelings of grief. Along with Legion and Liggins, Gillispie signed five-star incoming freshman Patrick Patterson, who had been considering Billy Donovan's Florida. So even Billy D. knows what Billy S. is feeling.

"I don't like it at all," said Self, who brought Gillispie along as his top assistant at Tulsa and Illinois. "Our paths will cross more now. We're both trying to recruit nationally and trying to recruit guys where we both have contacts. The one thing I do know is that recruiting isn't something that will jeopardize our friendship in any way, shape or form."

Gillispie's plundering hasn't been limited to the classes of '07 and '08. In point guard G.J. Vilarino ('09), guard K.C. Ross-Miller ('10) and forward Dakotah Euton ('10), Gillispie has received oral commitments from three talented players. Euton, like Patterson, chose Billy G. over Billy D.

Just last weekend, Gillispie secured the commitment from Ross-Miller, while also entertaining KU recruit Rotnei Clarke, a guard from Claremore, Okla., on an unofficial visit. Clarke left Lexington smitten by the Kentucky experience.
UMass Coach Travis Ford, a former basketball player at Kentucky, is still upset at UK's cancellation of the UK-UMass series.
To make conversation upon a chance encounter on the summer recruiting circuit, I asked UMass Coach Travis Ford last week if he'd gotten over Kentucky killing what he thought was a game scheduled for Boston this coming season.

"No," Ford said in one of the more direct responses ever uttered by a coach to a reporter.

Ford, a native Kentuckian and point guard of UK's 1993 Final Four team, clearly was still hurt by the cancellation. Despite his non-threatening size and boyish appearance, he had been a gutty street fighter for UK. His finest moment as a Cat came during the miraculous second-half rally from a 31-point deficit at Louisiana State in 1994.[...]

Maybe that kind of tenacity makes it difficult for Ford to accept Kentucky exercising its contractual right to buy its way out of a rematch game against UMass in Boston.

As Ford recalled it, former UK coach Tubby Smith agreed to a home-and-home series with UMass. Smith and UK administrators were doing a favor for an alum. Knowing its place in the pecking order, UMass ceded control of dates and sites to UK, Ford said.

The first game played in Rupp Arena last season went smoothly (translation: Kentucky won). Then UK's No. 2 man in athletics, Rob Mullens, called to say that Dec. 22 wouldn't work for the rematch. The Cats had a made-for-TV game. So UMass agreed to a switch to November.

The game would help Ford continue to sell his UK ties to a New England audience. UMass had sold more than 2,000 tickets for the game.

Then Billy Gillispie is hired. Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart calls his UMass counterpart on 5 p.m. on a Friday to inform him that UK will buy its way out of the game. When told, Ford thinks his athletic director is joking.

"I wasn't mad," Ford said. "I was disappointed."

UK spokesman Scott Stricklin said that the school gave UMass ample warning that the game might not happen. With a new coach (Gillispie) and dependence on freshmen (Patrick Patterson, Alex Legion and -- who knows? -- Leonard Washington?) and sophomores (Jodie Meeks in particular), UK wanted an easier schedule/more home games.

Ford does not accept that explanation because he thinks UK is a Final Four contender. Besides, UK dictated the terms of the home-and-home contract.

The Nine Days

Religious Jews across the world, starting last night at sundown, are in observance of the Nine Days between the first of Av and the 9th of Av. This is the period of more intense mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Next week, we observe Tisha B'Av, a day that almost everything bad in the history of Judaism has ocurred, by going to shul and fasting for 25 hours.

The Mishna commands us to diminish our joy during this period as you can read here over at the Orthodox Union website. We don't eat meat during this period or shave our faces.

Here's a list of ground rules for the most part.
There is a dispute among authorities as to whether this means that one ceases all joy during this period, or whether one is only required to diminish joy.

One way or the other, some of the manifestations of this concept are the reduction of business, the prohibition of pleasurable building, and other similar things.

One should not play musical instruments during the Nine Days. Some say that applies to singing as well. There are appropriate songs to sing during the Nine Days.

Halachically, tiyulim are forbidden only on Erev Tish'a b'Av and Tish'a b'Av itself. However, one should refrain from pleasurable tiyulim from Rosh Chodesh. Trips abroad should specifically be avoided. Trips to Israel, on the other hand, are allowed because of the mitzva aspect involved.

Concerning the conduct of business, it is generally agreed that in today's economy, the factors of financial loss - rent, salaries, utilities, etc. - would permit business as usual during the Nine Days. Depending upon the type of business and the possible effects of "closing shop" for more than a week, the applications of the halacha may vary. A Rav should be consulted.

Giving of gifts should be avoided, if possible, during the Nine Days. If unavoidable, the gift should preferably not be used until after Tish'a b'Av.

One should not buy new clothes during the Nine Days, even if She'he'che'yanu is not involved, and even if one will not wear the clothes until after Tish'a b'Av. Simple sneakers for Tish'a b'Av is an exception to this rule. Simple sneakers!

Purchases necessary for one's livelihood are permitted; if a She'he'che'yanu is involved, it should be postponed until after Tish'a b'Av.

"Purchases of Mitzva" are allowed, but should be made in consultation with a Posek.

Another interesting exception to the ban on purchases is the case of bargains and availability. One may buy things - even "items of joy" - during the Nine Days, if they will be difficult to find after Tish'a b'Av, or even it they will be more expensive then. The mourning during the Nine Days is not intended to cost us money; it is meant to diminish our joy.

Opinions differ concerning the extent to which some of the following rules apply. Exceptions to any of the following rules should be made only in consultation with one's Rav.

Hair cutting and shaving are prohibited. Even those who shave during the Three Weeks should avoid shaving during the Nine Days.

One may cut fingernails during the Nine Days.

Weddings and other festive gatherings are prohibited.

One should not play or listen to music.

Pleasurable bathing is prohibited. Many apply this prohibition to regular bathing as well. One who showers during the Nine Days for hygienic purposes, should use cooler water than usual, bathe less frequently, take less time, and avoid washing the whole body at one time. Most authorities permit bathing as usual on the Fridays of the Nine Days.

Meat and wine are prohibited during the Nine Days, except on Shabbat. Meat and wine are associated both with joy AND with Temple service. Both reasons combine to explain this prohibition.[...]

Most importantly, we must ponder the causes of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash and work towards "repairing the damage" caused by past (and present) generations so that we may be privileged to rejoice in the Geula, speedily in our time.

The laws and customs of mourning the Churban are not meant to overburden us nor are they picayune. They are meant to keep our thoughts and feelings focused on the Churban and its causes, and the resolutions towards improvement that should follow those thoughts and emotions. Use them well.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Latest Book Recommendation

I just finished reading this and found it amazing. Granted, I didn't grow up watching the classics on television or listening to them on the radio, or even seeing them in their prime; but this book covers pretty much the entire history of Jewish comedians in America!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Well, vas nu with you?

Is it just me or does this governor just not get it? The only reason we would need a special session is if there was a government shutdown as a result of having no fiscal budget in place. Seriously. What is the point for a special session if all Fletcher wants is to have more tax breaks for big business? Would he have done this last year had it been a gubernatorial election year? It's politics. That's all. It's like Congress trying to get a new constitutional amendment just because it's an election year. That's all. It's an election year and the Republicans are doing what they do best. Playing politics. Give me a break!

Here's a video on why boycotting Israeli products are bad.

Now, don't take me the wrong way on this one. I realize that I have readership from different races and religions. But there is one thing that I dislike so bad that I take it personal. This is one of those things where I find it uneasy to just sit idle and do nothing about it.
A measure intended to promote greater unity within the Roman Catholic Church by increasing the use of the Latin Mass is sparking confusion and controversy among Jewish groups as they scramble to understand the full extent of the decision.

On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI issued a Motu Proprio, literally a declaration in the pope's own name, authorizing wider use of the Latin Mass, an older form of Catholic worship that includes a prayer read only on Good Friday for the conversion of the Jews. The pope removed a rule that had required a bishop's permission before the mass could be used. Now, the liturgy can be used on the authority of an individual parish priest.[...]

Leading the charge of those voicing alarm was the Anti-Defamation League, which even before the pope's decision had been made public, issued a statement calling it a "body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations."

The main question for Jewish organizations is whether the pope intends to permit churches to recite the conversion prayer on Good Friday. Allowing the prayer to be read, Jewish communal officials said, would appear to run counter to the spirit of Nostra Aetate, the landmark 1965 Vatican declaration, and subsequent reforms that absolved Jews of responsibility for the killing of Jesus and laid the groundwork for four decades of improved Catholic-Jewish relations.

In particular, Jewish groups say that a prayer to convert the Jews would undermine previous steps taken by the church recognizing the validity of Judaism.

According to a Vatican translation of the pope's decree, masses celebrated "without the people" -- that is, when priests celebrate mass on their own -- may be used at any time except for the three days prior to Easter, including Good Friday. No similar restriction is placed on the use of masses celebrated "in the presence of the people."

Some Jewish groups took a more cautious approach than the ADL, as they sought to gain a clearer understanding of the pope's decision. In a letter to the Vatican's point man on Jewish relations, Walter Cardinal Kasper, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations sought clarification of the pope's ruling that the older liturgy not be used in the days leading up to Easter.
The last thing that anyone needs is a prayer to get people of one religion to convert to another. It's not right and it's not fair.

Blogging will continue to be infrequent but I plan to keep this thing active.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

RIP: Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of the late president Lyndon Baines Johnson, has died at the age of 94. May she rest in peace.

All-Star rant

Well, the American League has continued in their humiliation of the National League with a 5-4 win in San Francisco's AT&T Park last night. Despite a botched play by Brian Roberts, which led to Dmitri Young being safe at first, and then a 3-1 pitch to Alfonso Soriano for a home run to give the NL a one-run deficit, the NL just couldn't hang on. J.J. Putz gave up two straight walks before Francisco Rodriguez came in and gave up another one leading to bases loaded for the Phillies outfielder Aaron Rowand. Rowand hit a deep fly ball but, unfortunately for us, it found a glove.

Josh Beckett was the winning pitcher. Chris Young (Padres) the losing pitcher. Francisco Rodriguez picked up the save.

The Ted Williams All-Star Game Award, presented by Chevrolet, was awarded to Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki for his three hits, 2 RBIs, and the first ever inside the park home run in All-Star game history. He became the second Mariner to win the MVP award, becoming the first to do so since Ken Griffey, Jr. won it in 1992.

Now, here comes a rant, that is need.

Someone commented on my facebook wall saying TLR can't manage. So I wrote this on his wall:

Garner messed up last year by not putting Rolen in for defense. Pujols was saved in the event that the game went longer than planned and would be up to pinch-hit for the pitcher's spot. Now what we, as baseball fans need to do, is start voting the best players as opposed to our favorite players. I didn't vote for Eckstein, Rolen, or Edmonds this year like I usually do because they aren't the best players of their position. After losing the game last year, I decided I would only vote for the best players at every position instead of my favorite. I hope other fans start picking up on that because that will only make the game better.

Furthermore, had Rowand hit it elsewhere, that would have tied the game and maybe won it for the NL. -- end facebook comment on wall

Granted, my initial votes did have Rolen and Edmonds. But since I was in Israel fpr much of June, I didn't use all 25 of my votes. I may have had 15 votes left. Oh, well. But knowing what I know know, some of those votes would definitely have been different.

Sure, Yadier Molina is a great defensive catcher and that helps when picking off runners. But when the game, and home field advantage, is on the line, would you rather have Yadi or Russell Martin? I think I would rather have Russell Martin of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If I think D-Lee or Prince Fielder are having a better year than Albert Pujols is at first, then, yes, I would vote for them.

Monday, July 09, 2007


It pains me with great sadness to write this particular post.

One of Louisville's own, Ernie Marx, a Holocaust survivor, died yesterday at the age of 81.
Holocaust survivor Ernie Marx, who spoke thousands of schoolchildren and other groups about the atrocities he witnessed as a teenager, has died at the age of 81.[...]

"We have a mission that we educate the young people so that it will not happen again," Marx said in April at Temple Shalom in Louisville during Yom HaShoah, a commemoration of the Holocaust.

"My friends, I'm here and I'm proud to be an educator."

Marx had made more than 62 trips to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., where he was an honorary tour guide. He had spoken at more than 400 schools since 1982, when he began publicly speaking about his experiences as a survivor.

A native of Germany, Marx came to Louisville in 1947 with his mother, from whom he had been separated for six years during the Nazi campaign.
May he rest in peace.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Now, to catch up on UK news...

It may be old news to many of you but, because I was out of town for much of the past few weeks, it is certainly new news to me.

Dakotah Euton of Rose Hill has committed to the University of Kentucky.

Guard Derrick Jasper is having knee surgery during the offseason.

DeAndre Liggins, a guard, has also committed to play for the Kentucky Wildcats.
There has been a lot of talk about the ability to recruit the elite players by new University of Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie.

With just over a month to work with, Gillispie landed Patrick Patterson and Alex Legion to complete the Class of 2007 and he's already scored two major recruits for the future – G.J. Vilarino (2009) and Dakotah Euton (2010).

But the Wildcats had no prospects in the fold for the Class of 2008.

Until yesterday when Gillispie made one of the biggest scores of his short tenure, luring the top player from the Chicago Public School League to Lexington.

DeAndre Liggins, a versatile 6-foot-6 player who can play several positions on the floor, gave a verbal commitment to the Wildcats. Liggins had visited the campus last weekend and informed the school of his decision yesterday.[...]

Liggins ranks as the No. 18 player in the top 150 and checks in at No. 28 on the rankings. He plays for the Indiana Elite AAU program.[...]

Liggins, who has attended George Washington High School, averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists a game as a junior. He told the Sun-Times that he was transferring to Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy for his senior season.

A Sea of Blue has a brief read on recruiting about to blow up. Pretty soon, we'll have to start evaluating preschoolers! They also have a compare and contrast between Billy Gillispie and Tubby Smith.

KC Ross-Miller has also committed to the Wildcats basketball program. That's at least three in a four week period!

Now, THIS is a good read and Gary Parrish does indeed have a sense of humor!
Question: Why are the recruiting numbers down for the armed services?

Answer: Because Billy Gillispie doesn't work for the armed services!

Seriously, if we want to win this War on Terror (are we still calling it the War on Terror?) our government would be wise to put $4 million on the table and see if Gillispie would consider serving his country. And if the money is hard to come by, I'm guessing Rick Pitino will contribute if it means having things back to himself, because while the Louisville coach remains the best at getting assistant coaches jobs (See: Menzies, Marvin) I'm not certain he's still the top recruiter in the state.

That title now belongs to the new guy with the Texas drawl.

"It's been fast and furious, and a lot of fun," Gillispie told CBS by phone between gaining commitments, and that's not a joke, by the way. I talked to the man Friday afternoon, and before I could even write this column he had convinced yet another prospect to tell the world he wants to be a Wildcat.

"It's been a lot of hard work, and we still have a lot of hard work to do," Gillispie said. "But I think we have accomplished some things."

More like six things.

Gillispie -- since replacing Tubby Smith on April 6 -- has garnered an unbelievable six commitments from prospects of all sizes and ages. There's Alex Legion (6-foot-4 guard) and Patrick Patterson (6-8 forward) from the Class of 2007, DeAndre Liggins (6-6 wing) from the Class of 2008, G.J. Vilarino (5-9 point guard) from the Class of 2009 and Dakotah Euton (6-8 forward) and K.C. Miller (6-1 point guard) from the Class of 2010.

That's right, the Class of 2010.

I don't know what I'm doing next week. But Gillispie already knows who his point guard will be in 2010-2011 thanks to Miller committing Sunday afternoon.
Todd Forcier has been brought on as the strength coach for the basketball program.

You HAVE to read this in full!
Days after Billy Gillispie accepted the head coaching job at Kentucky, Bill Self warned his close friend and protege.

"Billy," Self said, "this is not going to be a lot of fun."

At first, Gillispie didn't get what Self meant. But now, he fully comprehends. In less than three months on the job, Gillispie has embarked on a recruiting rampage, and Self's Kansas program has been right in the thick of it. Gillispie has gained commitments from two players whom the Jayhawks coveted, incoming freshman guard Alex Legion of Detroit and rising senior point guard DeAndre Liggins of Chicago.
Well, that's sports, politics, and entertainment for now!

Three pages worth of emails

Bear with me here. I'll likely have one post for politics and the other for UK-related information. Sound good?

You all might be in some luck. There won't be a novella worth posting since most of the articles emailed to me are now dead links since newspapers will only keep them online for so long! Hey, it makes my job easier although I feel a bit let down on the news I read.

Kind of old news now but Hoosier rocker John Mellencamp performed with the Boston Pops Spectacular for the 4th of July.

Prosecuters apparently questioned Brent Hall over leaked information.

Here's a nice editorial relating to why the Ten Commandments should not be displayed on public property owned by the state government. I consider myself a fairly religious person but the thing is, aside from the fact that it violates the first amendment, which version would one display because with all these different translations, no one will be happy. I won't lie. Unless it's the original Aramaic version in the Hebrew Bible, I would certainly not be happy about it.
This spring it is Kentucky legislators who don't understand the wrongness of their position and are once again trying to erect on the Statehouse lawn in Frankfort a monument to the Commandments they believe G-d gave to Moses.

Enquirer Kentucky politics specialist Pat Crowley sums it up nicely on his N.Ky. Politics blog: "Thou shalt not pander."

Let's be clear here - the problem is not the Commandments or the code of conduct they set forth. The world would be a far more civil place if everybody followed them. Some of them clearly apply to the rules of our civil society and have been encoded into states' laws - don't kill, don't steal, don't lie.

But others just as clearly advocate a religious doctrine - worship the G-d of Moses above all else, no graven images, don't take G-d's name in vain, keep the Sabbath holy.
Indiana Senator Evan Bayh filed legislation that would help American workers.

ABC News and USA Today are teaming up to provide news relating to the presidential election.

Months of hard work has paid off! Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure by DePaul University.
DePaul University denied tenure to Norman Finkelstein, a professor who raised hackles for saying that Jewish groups have exploited the Holocaust.

Norman Finkelstein "plays fast and loose" with the facts he cited in his scholarly work, Michael Kotzin, the executive vice president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, told JTA on Sunday, thus making the decision necessary.

Kotzin said his group had been careful not to impinge on the Chicago university's right to make its choice, emphasizing that DePaul had an "absolutely internal basis for the decision based on their standards and principles."

In his letter to Finkelstein, DePaul's president, the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, cited a summary statement by the university's board on promotion of tenure that "expressed several concerns touching on his scholarship, specifically what they consider the intellectual character of his work and his persona as a public intellectual."

Among those who had vocally urged DePaul to reject tenure to Finkelstein were the pro-Israel group StandWithUs and, perhaps most visibly, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Good move by New York to divest pension funds from the Sudan region.

Jay Footlik, a former White House aide to President Bill Clinton, is running for Congress in Illinois' 10th district. I wish him the best of luck. I had the chance to see him speak at a Jews for Kerry event back in 2004. He's a great guy.

Shimon Peres was elected Israel's 9th President.
"I have been in the Knesset for 48 years and not for one moment have I lost faith or hope in Israel," Peres said in his acceptance speech. "What Israel has achieved in 60 years, no other country has been able to achieve. I hope I can represent our faith not because there are no problems but because we all want to overcome them."

Peres, 83, will assume the presidency, a largely ceremonial post, on July 15 for a seven-year term. The presidency will cap a six-decade career in which Peres has served in virtually every top civilian post in Israel. In 1993 he won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.
Ehud Barak was elected leader of Israel's Labor Party.
Barak, 65, is widely expected to assume the defense portfolio from former Labor chief Amir Peretz. That would lend much-needed military polish to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition government, which lost much of its support over the failures of last year's Lebanon war.

"I will dedicate all my energy and knowledge to bolstering the defense establishment and the armed forces, as well as restoring Israel's deterrence," Barak told supporters.
I have to hand it to the leader of the Conservative Party in Great Britain. Thank you for being a mensch!
David Cameron, responding to questions at the annual luncheon of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said the academic boycott was completely uncalled for and that attacks against Israel often slid into anti-Semitism, Ha'aretz reported.

"If by Zionist you mean that the Jews have the right to a homeland in Israel and the right to a country then I am a Zionist," the Tory leader said.
At a meeting with the Orthodox Union, U.S. Senators reiterated their support for Israel and called for action against Iran.
Also at the luncheon, held Wednesday in the Hart Senate Office Building, the senators stressed national security and reiterated their support of Israel.

“We must address the Iranian challenge to our security,”said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), adding that diplomacy without threat of military action is ineffective.

Presidential candidate Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) echoed Lieberman’s sentiment, calling for a divestiture campaign against Iran.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of an Orthodox synagogue in Baltimore, focused on a Senate energy bill.

“There is no better way to protect the interest of this country than to become energy independent,” he said.
How interesting.
It is known that pop diva Paula Abdul is Jewish, and recently it was revealed that Simon Cowell — the show’s brutally honest Brit — is of Jewish descent, too: His paternal grandparents, Joseph Cowell and Esther Malinsky, were married in 1915 at West Ham Synagogue, in East London, the Web site Jewtastic reports.
Apparently, NBC is going after Jon Stewart for Tonight and having second thoughts about Conan O'Brien hosting.

Joe Biden's camp lost a key staffer in the month of June.
But while the Biden camp picked up an endorsement, the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder reports that it lost one of its tops fundraiser after a dispute over strategy. “Kory Mitchell, considered one of the party's best fundraisers and formerly the finance director of Evan Bayh's All America PAC, quit the campaign this week, according to three friends of his.”
What in the heck? Jerusalem IS the capital of Israel and the BBC is apologizing for calling it so?!? No wonder why they are SO BIASED!
The BBC apologized this week for referring to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and promised not to repeat "the mistake," following a complaint by four British organizations.

Arab Media Watch, Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa and the Institute of Islamic Political Thought sent a joint complaint to the BBC after a presenter on its Football Focus program on March 24 mentioned that Jerusalem was Israel's capital and "historic soul."

The BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit posted a response on its Web site: "The reference was a passing one in a context where the focus was on sport, not politics. While recognizing the sensitivity of the issue of the status of Jerusalem, the ECU took the view that the program-makers had taken sufficient action by acknowledging the error and rectifying the Web site."

The Editorial Complaints Unit's ruling was: "Complaint resolved."

In a letter to the complaining NGOs, Fraser Steel, head of editorial complaints at the BBC, said: "We of course accept that the international community does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and that the BBC should not describe it as such. I was therefore pleased to see that Katherine Tsang [BBC Information adviser], when she wrote to you in April, acknowledged the error and apologized for it. [Presenter] Steve Boulton and other senior managers in BBC Sport told us they very much regret the mistake and apologize for it."

"Senior managers will try to ensure, as you suggest, that the mistake is not repeated. Because it appears on the Web site, there will be a public acknowledgement of the error, and the action taken in consequence."

Steel added: "I'd like to add my apologies for this most regrettable, but I'm sure accidental, factual mistake. I appreciate that the status of Jerusalem is of particular concern to Palestinians, and it is important that it is not misrepresented. I am confident that lessons have already been learned, and they will be emphasized as a result of my decision."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said in response: "Jerusalem is Israel's capital. It is the right of every sovereign state to determine which city will be its capital. If this is not accepted by everyone today, I am confident it will be in the future."
We are getting closer to seeing a Palestinian state now that Hamas has taken over Gaza.

Some changes were recently made with the Obama campaign.
Also, Dan Pfeiffer, formerly a senior adviser to Tom Daschle and Evan Bayh, has been brought back from the road to oversee the day-to-day communications planning.

Robert Gibbs, Obama's director of communications and one of his closest aides, will spend more time on the road with Obama to hone his message. Gibbs will work with campaign strategist David Axelrod on big-picture strategy and messaging.
You can view Congressman Ben Chandler's latest email here.

Back in full force

Safe to say that I am back in full force again with the blog. Here's a complete, well a condensed version, of the write-up of my Israel trip. I posted it on facebook this past Tuesday night.

My trip to the Promised Land - Eretz Yisrael

My trip to Israel a few weeks ago was absolutely amazing! Coming into the trip, I only knew maybe two people but that's only because they were facebook friends and at that, only one of those came on the trip--the other had his flight cancelled within hours of the scheduled departure time.

To say this trip was awesome or amazing would be an understatement because words, a week and a half after coming back to America, still cannot describe how I feel. I met the most awesome people and yes, I actually did party for a change--very much different from when I was in high school or even is another story due to staying on campus at a commuter college!

But back to Israel, the first full day we were there, we went on this hike in the Golan Heights, kayaking in the Jordan (or one of it's tributaries) and toured the border between Israel and Lebanon at a Kibbutz. I won't lie about the hike--it was fun despite the six falls I had and I almost twisted the same ankle I twisted just weeks earlier. It gets interesting...I hit my head on a rock since I was looking down at my feet just to make sure I didn't miss a step since I had already fallen a few times. Now, kayaking was the highlight of the afternoon! I went canoeing a few years back but this was so much better!

The first Friday we were there, we went up to Tsvat to tour the city. Just so you know, Tsvat will always be the City of Steps to me in the same way that Chicago is the Windy City (though just don't talk to me about the team on the north side...). After the hike the day before, touring the city felt like a hike only because of all the steps that were there. Tsvat was pretty much the only thing we did that day before getting ready for Shabbas. Because the hotel we stayed at had nothing much going on the evenings, a lot of us got together at nights just to hang out.

Shabbas was relaxing. A few of us went to a beach on the Kinneret nearby the hotel--fun times even when I was hit by the waves I didn't expect. What did I miss out on the past 17 years or so of not being able to go to a beach?!? After Shabbas, we went on a boat cruise in Tiberias. Granted, it was fun but not as much fun as it could have been for me but that goes to the fact that I'm not a fast dancer type of guy...I usually do slow songs, Limbo, and of course, the ones for Jewish songs, but that's another story for another day.

That Sunday, we went on a jeep tour after meeting the IDF soldiers who are awesome by the way. Following our tour, we drove south to ride some donkeys and make pita bread and then back north to tour a winery. The ride down to Tel Aviv was not so fun with all the windy roads (and sitting on a bus trying to sleep with all that wine in your system and lack of food was enough to make one sick). Once we got to Tel Aviv, we had pasta for dinner and I started to feel a bit better. Then it was on to the hotel where we had to rush to get ready to party out at the clubs. Because a lot of us chose to stay later, we all walked back and it took 40 minutes longer than the 15-20 we were told. I didn't mind.

Monday morning, we bargained at the flea market--well some did. After that, we went to Independence Hall in Tel Aviv and I felt really let down at how small the room was. I expected much different--and during the video, everyone behind me was sleeping. After that, it was lunch and then a trip to Rabin Square. I still remember that day in 1995 like yesterday. After Rabin Square, we headed south to Ben Gurion's Tomb, and then onward to the Camel Ranch where we spent the night in Bedouin Tents. Of course, I ran into a cousin and another friend when we left Ben Gurion's Tomb. Late in the evening, a lot of us hiked up one of the hills nearby. That was fun especially with the 30,000 cameras going off. The hike down...not so much especially with hardly any light to see where one was going. One bad step could have been tragic, but hey, I survived despite all my kvetching on the way down!

Tuesday morning, we hiked Masada which was easier than I thought it would have been. I mean, I rarely and I mean RARELY hike, and I was one of the first people up the stairwell before we had our first stop. That was an accomplishment in it's own right but Masada was one of those things I looked forward to just because of all the history associated with the fortress. After Masada, we went to Ein Gedi where I didn't go in the water since I didn't have the right shoes on. It was a fun nature hike and another one I looked forward to since that was where King David hid from then-King Saul in Biblical times. After which, we swam, er, floated in the Dead Sea. This was particularly awesome except for the time I splashed myself...and then wanted to rub my eye afterwards. Word of advice--don't get your face wet at the Dead Sea, and especially don't pee in the Dead Sea. We then made our way to Jerusalem and had an hour or so to get ready for the Mega Event. The Mega Event was awesome especially with all the Jewish music, including Mordecai ben David's "Moshiach," one of my favorite Jewish songs. Since I was internet-deprived, I paid the 10 shekels to check email and ran into two friends from when I was at Bradley as I was logging off. That was awesome, especially since I hadn't seen them in about 3 years.

On Wednesday, we went to the Yeshiva at Mayanot to learn Spiritual Truths from a Prostitute. Following that, we made our way to Yad VaShem, the Israeli memorial musuem for the victims of the Shoah. Right after, we went to Mt. Herzl and paid our respects to the fallen soldiers, prime ministers, and Herzl himself. When we got back, it was time for a Middle East update and Neil Lazarus briefed us on what all happened in the past few days. Afterwards, we had a session with our soldiers and then again, we partied some more. I think I was up til 2:30 in the morning but that was after I had my roommates locked out of the room for 5 minutes or so. I was going to go to the room but then, at the last minute, decided to go for a walk instead and went downstairs and chilled with a friend from the night before. We caught up a little bit. His trip was ending the next day and he was extending his trip.

Thursday morning, I got up early and showered despite how little sleep I had. That morning, we were walking through water tunnels in the City of David in the Old City. After we exited the tunnels, I took a few pictures--one of which is my facebook photo as of July 3rd. I only say that because there's very few pictures in existence where I actually have a good smile, or so my folks tell me...afterwards, we walked to the Kotel and toured the archeological park on the southern side of the Western Wall and then we ate lunch. After lunch, we went to the Western Wall and I just lived the moment in as much as I could. We're talking about the holiest site in all of Jewish history. G-d willing, the Temple is rebuilt within our days. It's customary to place a note in the cracks of the wall so I did that. The Chabad offered us Tefillin so I put some on and went back to the Wall to daven again to recite the Shema. We later went to the Jewish quarter and a five minute drive somehow was turned in to an hour or so due to the Gay Rights parade. After we were dispersed, I ran into a friend from high school and we spoke for maybe 10 minutes as she had to leave and I rushed back to find my group. We ate dinner at some meat place before going to the hotel and then over to Ben Yehuda Street for more partying. I decided to do that one Jewish dance where you and someone else spin in a circle so fast...I lost my grip and woke up the next morning with the sorest ankle possible. Thankfully, it's not broken--as of July 3rd, both feet feel very fine. I was so exhausted that instead of the after party like all the previous nights, I just crashed.

Friday, we went crawled tunnels in Tel Goded. I screamed “sheep” and “frickin’ a” so many times, apparently the highlight for several folks.
Next up was a hike in Sattaf where the terrain was similar to the one from last week after arriving. Apparently, between the water and all the steps, my ankle was starting to feel a heck of a lot better. I was walking near a few folks just about the whole time. Someone, Albert, I think, said I should be a sports caster. Funny, eh? (For those that don't get that last sentence, I was in a sports broadcasting class in the spring). We then went to a mall where they have the worst tables possible...I CLIMBED in and out of my seat. Anyway, we walked to the Kotel for Shabbas and I got together with the same friend I had ran into the past few days. Only in Yerushalayim would I get together with someone I had not seen for THREE years...three days in a row. But the power at the Wall for Shabbas...completely unbelieveable. Once again, I didn't do much of the after party after being advised to stay off my ankle as it looked swolen.

On Saturday, the final day, we had lunch with some folks that lived in the city. Thankfully for my feet, my group had one of the shortest distances to walk.

We got back to the States that Sunday and said our goodbyes. I can only hope for a reunion soon.

With the 17th day of Tammuz starting Monday night, we have entered the Three Weeks period of mourning the siege of Jerusalem and ultimately the destruction of the Temple on the 9th day of Av which everything bad that has happened to us in Judaism, well, happened. We are told to keep Jerusalem in our hearts over the Three Weeks period. That won't be a problem this year...not at all.

Anyway, going into the trip, I was dead set on going into filmmaking. Don't get me wrong, I still am but I'd like to do films relating to Judaism and what not. I wouldn't go as far as saying documentaries or biographies but definitely films with a religious theme.

I've been at this for an hour or so and there's so much to say but then you'd be reading a novel. Compared to the journal I kept each day, this is condensed.

Speaker Jody Richards' full floor speech

(This one is definitely worth posting it in full. I don't think that I've ever been prouder. Now, can the Senate adjourn to because Gov. Fletcher is WASTING our hard-earned tax dollars to deal with issues he needs for his re-election campaign?!? Give me a break!)

By Jody Richards

Mr. Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen of the House:

I take the unusual step of rising to address this body on a simple but important question: has the Governor justified calling the General Assembly into special session at a cost of 60,000 dollars per day to the Kentucky taxpayer? Anyone who has followed events since the Governor first threatened a special session knows that the answer to this question is a clear and resounding "NO."

The framers of the Kentucky Constitution set an incredibly high bar for calling Legislative sessions outside of the normal schedule. Now that we hold a regular session every year, the bar should be even higher. As stated eloquently by the Hon. W. H. Mackoy addressing the delegates at the 1891 Constitutional Convention:

"It is to be presumed, I think, when the Legislature is convened in special session, that it is so called in pursuance of some emergency, some public demand that is urgent, and that the Governor, knowing the wishes of the people and understanding fully the emergency, will call the Legislature in special session only when it is absolutely necessary that it should be done."

Those words of wisdom were spoken over a century ago, but they are just as relevant today. We must take these words to heart as we consider what I believe is a radical if not an unprecedented departure from the original intent of the Framers of our constitution.

The Governor's so-called emergency is his claimed need to pass an energy bill to attract companies to invest in alternative fuels production in Kentucky. But that claim leaves a false impression that Kentucky has fallen behind on this issue. In fact, records from the National Conference of State Legislatures show that only four bills specifically addressing alternative energy have passed state legislatures over the past five years, and Kentucky passed three of those. We have been very active on this issue.

But we in the House know better than anyone how important it is for Kentucky to pass another good energy bill. It is the House which historically has shown all the leadership on this issue.

Majority Leader Rocky Adkins led the charge to pass House Bill 299 in 2006, and built upon this success by fighting for the passage of House Bill 5 last session. We made this bill part of our Family Agenda and did everything in our power to see that it was passed. We received no help from the Governor or the Senate. On the contrary, the Governor stood idly by while the Senate Republicans killed House Bill 5.

It is the most ridiculous of ironies to see the very same Governor now making energy incentives the centerpiece of his call for a special session. It is beyond audacious for the Governor to attempt to manufacture an emergency out of an issue he ignored just three months ago.

This leads me to a second question: What has changed to make this more urgent between the time the Legislature adjourned in March and the time of the Governor's proclamation? Nothing has changed. No emergency has arisen.

In fact, the claim of an urgent need to pass a bill is blatantly contrary to the cold hard facts which have piled up in recent weeks. Initially, the Governor presented us with several letters from energy companies requesting that the Legislature to pass energy incentives to compete for their business. These vague letters were obviously solicited by the Governor to supply a flimsy pretext to call a session. And if you read them, you will see that they fall very short of proving that waiting until January to pass energy incentives would doom our chances to attract an alternative fuels plant. Those letters made no firm commitments to locate any plants in Kentucky. Yet the Governor has demanded we come into extraordinary session and commit Kentucky to tax incentives with no assurance of anything in return. Calling a special session based on vague speculation about future benefits is simply not good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

Only later did we learn that three of these energy companies had already signed multi-year deals with the Commonwealth worth almost 2.5 million dollars, contradicting the Governor's claim that Kentucky could not be competitive without immediate Legislative action. The existence of those contracts prove that unbiased experts are right when they say that Kentucky's unique geographical and geological attributes are the most important factors in energy investment and siting decisions.

And just yesterday it was reported that incentive packages in our neighboring coal states are not so generous after all – West Virginia in fact offers no incentives to build coal to liquid plants.

In all the many hours of public presentations by the Administration, these highly inconvenient truths were withheld from the Legislature and the public. It took open records requests, diligent reporting, and relentless research for the true facts to come to light.

In the absence of reliable information from the Governor, the House did its own investigation. At a hearing held last Thursday, we learned from an unbiased expert in the energy field that the crown jewel of the Governor's proposal – the 3 billion dollar coal to liquids plant – would not be feasible to build without securing enormous federal incentives that the U.S. Senate has decisively rejected, and which Congress is in no mood to provide for the foreseeable future. But the Governor continues to ignore reality on this issue.

Rather than attempt to respond to the mounting evidence of no emergency, the Governor has simply changed his position. Contrary to what we heard in Northern Kentucky two weeks ago, we are now hearing that it is not a coal to liquids plant that the Governor is in such a hurry to attract – it is actually a coal to natural gas plant which will not produce a single gallon of transportation fuels. The obvious problem with this new line is that it contradicts the Governor's repeated assertions that urgent action is needed this summer to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and address high gasoline prices.

When gubernatorial politics are taken out of the equation, we all know that the Legislature will be able to timely address this and all other important issues when we convene the regular session in January. And as I have repeatedly stated, the House stands ready to make a letter commitment to provide appropriate incentives to any energy company which is ready to make a commitment to Kentucky. Similar letters of commitment were used to attract investments from UPS last year, and previously Toyota, GE and Scott Paper.

I had hoped that the Governor would finally acknowledge the stark reality that passing an energy bill this summer is not an emergency and that passing it right now with no guidance from Congress could be enormously counter-productive. My hopes were dashed when we received the proclamation two days ago. Like many of you, I was shocked to see that the energy issue had been relegated to a mere two inches of a five page proclamation call.

A member of the Governor's own party has stated quite candidly that this laundry list could take 8 weeks to sort out. I agree. By my count, that adds up to almost 2.5 million dollars of taxpayer money which may be squandered addressing issues which should have been handled in past sessions had the Governor shown leadership and kept his veto pen in his desk. But it is obvious that we can easily consider every one of these issues next January without harming the public good.

To take just one example, we recently learned that the Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed that federal funds for the runway extension at Bluegrass Airport will not be lost by waiting until January to make a state appropriation for the project. The story is the same on each and every issue which has been held up as a pretext for immediate action at taxpayer expense.

Rather than attempting to explain why these scores of projects and proposals rise to the level of emergencies, he has simply labeled them "important" and casually suggested we also take care of them while we are here on the energy issue. Not only does this show no concern for the enormous daily cost of a session, it also flies in the face of the constitution. The Framers did not intend for Governors to identify a single emergency issue as a pretext to shoehorn myriad non-emergency issues into an extraordinary session. Rather, they specifically warned against lumping in dozens of local projects which would unduly lengthen the session at taxpayer expense.

In my more than twenty years in House Leadership, I have always opposed any special session in which the items to be discussed had not previously been agreed upon. The Governor agreed with this approach when, based on prior agreement between the Administration, the House and the Senate, we were able to pass important AMC legislation in a short five day session.

It has always been accepted that a Governor must reach agreement with both Houses of the Legislature concerning the subject matter of the call prior to calling us into session. Doing so ensures that the session will run quickly and smoothly at minimum taxpayer expense.

Here that has not happened. There has been no proper communication or discussion with the House regarding the call. Instead, the Governor has selectively provided dribbles of information regarding his intentions on the energy issue, withholding material facts all along the way. As for the 66 other issues added to the call, the Governor told the House virtually nothing until he unveiled them two days ago. This method of doing business can only be described as bad faith toward the House. But the real victim is the Kentucky taxpayer who must foot the bill for days of review of legislation and negotiation which should have taken place prior to convening the session.

It is surely within the Governor's constitutional powers to call the Legislature into extraordinary session. But it is equally within the prerogatives of the House to express our disagreement with the Governor's ill-conceived call by refusing to convene ourselves any further. Our moral obligation is to do what is best for the citizens of Kentucky. We have a duty to protect the constitution from being manipulated for the sake of political expediency.

To lend any further credibility to this charade would set a dangerous precedent which I am sure we would all live to regret. That is why I am asking the House of Representatives to join me in sending to the Senate a concurrent resolution adjourning this session until January 8, 2008. I call upon the Senate to join us in adjourning this improper session. In addition, I respectfully ask you to join me in forfeiting the right to receive any salary or expenses from today until the session is adjourned sine die.

And let me be clear: The House will return in January to address each and every important issue facing Kentuckians, including placing Kentucky at the forefront of the alternative fuels revolution. Waiting a few months will not deprive the public of any benefits of important legislation, and the taxpayers will not have to pay a single additional penny of expense. Perhaps most importantly, the House will have enforced a bedrock constitutional principle by ensuring that future Governors do not toy with the awesome power to call an extraordinary session.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

An Open Letter to Mark Nickolas

All the best. I go out of the country for two weeks and then out of the state for another--all with limited internet access. I come back to find that BGR is shutting down. Disappointed as most of us are, we must move on to bigger and better things.

I'm slowly getting back into the fold of things after taking a nice three week break from politics and very thankful that there was not a run-off to worry about--thank G-d for that.

You had a good run, and for that, we are very grateful. Montana's gain is Kentucky's loss.

Jerusalem: Bus 29 Style

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Photos

Quote of the Day

"I believe that (the adoption of the Declaration of Independence) will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other."
-- John Adams

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:
New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

G-d Bless the U.S.A.

G-d Bless the U.S.A
by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again
with just my children and my wife,
I'd thank my lucky stars
to be living here today,
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom
and they can't take that away.

I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
G-d Bless the U.S.A.

From the lakes of Minnesota
to the hills of Tennessee,
Across the plains of Texas
from sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston
and New York to L.A.,
There's pride in every American heart
and it's time we stand and say:

I'm proud to be an American
where at least I know I'm free,
And I won't forget the men who died
who gave that right to me,
And I gladly stand up next to you
and defend her still today,
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
G-d Bless the U.S.A.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Fast of 17 Tammuz

Today, until sundown, is the fast of the 17th of Tammuz. It is one of four fasts that are from daybreak til sunset. It is one of three fasts that deal with the siege of Jerusalem and ultimately, the destruction of both the First and Second Temple.
The 17th day in the Jewish month of Tammuz, Jews the world over fast and lament to commemorate the many calamities that have befallen our people on this ominous day.[...]

Going all the way back to Biblical times, Moses descended Mount Sinai on this day and, upon seeing the Golden Calf broke the first set of Tablets carrying the Ten Commandments (Shemot 32:19, Mishna Taanit 28b).

In the First Temple Era: The priests in the First Temple stopped offering the daily sacrifice on this day (Taanit 28b) due to the shortage of sheep during the siege and the next year 3184 (586 BCE), the walls of Jerusalem were breached after many months of siege by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces.

In Melachim II 21:7 we find that King Menashe, one of the worst of the Jewish kings, had an idol placed in the Holy Sanctuary of the Temple, according to tradition on this date. The Talmud, in Masechet Taanit 28b, says that in the time of the Roman persecution, Apostomos, captain of the occupation forces, did the same, and publicly burned the Torah - both acts considered open blasphemy and desecration. These were followed by Titus and Rome breaching the walls of Jerusalem in 3760 (70 CE) and Pope Gregory IX ordering the confiscation of all manuscripts of the Talmud in 4999 (1239).

In later years this day continued to be a dark one for Jews. In 1391, more than 4,000 Jews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain and in 4319 (1559) the Jewish Quarter of Prague was burned and looted.

The Kovno ghetto was liquidated on this day in 5704 (1944) and in 5730 (1970) Libya ordered the confiscation of Jewish property.

Other interesting occurrences on this day include Noach sending out the first dove to see if the Flood waters had receded, (Bereishit 8:8) in 1650 (2100 BCE); Moshe Rabbeinu destroying the golden calf, (Shemot 32:20, Seder Olam 6, Taanit 30b - Rashi) and then ascending back up Har Sinai for the second time where he spent the next forty days pleading for forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf, (Shemot 33:11, Rashi).

Monday, July 02, 2007

Off from hiatus...

I'll understandably have more up tomorrow. I haven't gotten enough sleep in the last two and a half weeks or so, give or take a few days. I went to Israel and got back last Sunday and left for Philly-Baltimore a few days later and got back this past Sunday.

Anyway, my roommate from my Israel trip made this video which I encourage you to watch and then spread on to your friends. Believe me, this is a better attempt at humor than the video that shall not be named and is, as far as I am concerned, dead to me.

I'll have more up tomorrow about both of my trips. If not tomorrow, then next week.

If can offer you any advice, don't pee in the Dead Sea.