Friday, July 31, 2009

Big Papi juiced

While this is not breaking news, it broke yesterday that Big Papi David Ortiz took steroids along with Manny Ramirez in 2003. This news taints the two world championships they won. The only consolation is that it seems everyone was using steroids so it was essentially an "even" playing field.

Now that it seems that no one's hands are clean from the steroid era, it is important to move on from this, establish some sort of penalty system, and get back to playing the game of baseball in a fair way.

Sitting down for a beer

Because of the fallout from the arrest of Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge and President Obama's remarks, he (Obama) decided to have the three of them come to the White House to discuss race relations and profiling over a beer. Vice President Biden even joined them. You can tell it is summer and that we are in the information age when the news media is not only reporting what beer each of them is selected but analyzing why they are selecting to drink that sort of beer.

This incident sure brought to the forefront the importance of race relations in law enforcement and as the nation's first black president, it is one of the many issues Obama will have to put on his plate to tackle.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Obama's news conference

Last night President Obama held a news conference to discuss health care reform. He did well, outline some specific points in the health care reform legislation. He handled the questions and it was noticeable that the reporters were stepping it up a notch with their questions. He is hoping to get it passed before August recess. In my opinion, I really do not think he should rush it as this is the most important domestic policy initiative in many years-probably since the New Deal. The administration, Congress and outside experts must make sure that the legislation is set up fix the problems that are in the system-and there are so many it is a daunting task. However, it needs to work otherwise his approval ratings could go down to the point where he does not get out of his first term much less get reelected.

However, the most significant moment of the night came when a reporter asked him about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. He was critical of how the police handled it and this drew criticism since he did not have all of the facts. He did acknowledge that Gates was a friend of his. It was unfortunate that when he goes on TV to talk about a major agenda proposal this turns into the next day's headline. Give credit to Obama for not sidestepping the question.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Campaigning in Virginia

There has been a lot of concern that the excitement for campaign activity for Virginia democrats is not going to be at the same level as it was last year. I understand that there probably will not be an election that will equal that of last year's presidential election in terms of excitement and energy, but it is important that the grassroots effort does not go AWOL in Virginia. On a national level, Virginia is the new swing state and the success of Democrats in Virginia's 2009 elections will validate the "seismic shift" of the 2008 election and possibly be an earlier indicator of sentiments in the midterm 2010 election. Additionally, Virginia needs to elect Creigh Deeds for Governor and get a majority in the House of Delegates in order to solve some of the big issues the commonwealth is facing. Campaign activity is starting to simmer. If you are at the beach, in the mountains, or vacationing in Spain (someone wishes they were) enjoy yourself and have a great time. If you are moving roommates in and out, no need to drop furniture just to knock on doors and phone bank (they will make you pay for replacements anyway). However, once the calendar turns to September it will be all hands on deck and all eyes on keeping Virginia blue. If this isn't enough to get us all excited, the Red Sox (or your favorite baseball team) will hopefully be in the thick of a pennant race as well-except if it is the Nationals.

Obama health care

The top issue for Congress right now is health care reform and Organizing for America, the grassroots organization that came out of the Obama campaign to promote his agenda, is pushing a grassroots campaign to urge people to call/e-mail/write to their congressmen and senators to support the health care legislation.

Right now I feel that something needs to be done about health care. It is a travesty that the best health care system in the world is expensive and at times does not even work for everybody. However, I have yet to see specific details of the plan. Hopefully, Obama will outline it in his TV press conference tonight. While I campaigned hard to see change and a lot of people voted for it, there is a lot of concern that it is being rammed down our throats and it may not bring what voters really wanted in the end. Looking at it from the other side, he won a mandate to take action and live up to expectations so you cannot fault him too much for pushing an ambitious agenda especially with both houses of Congress under Democratic control.

Monday, July 20, 2009

40 year anniversary of the moon landing

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the landing on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. It looks like NASA will be starting a space program in the next decade that will push towards a return trip to the Moon. Everyone wonders whether it was a conspiracy but with investigation skills at the level they are today someone would have gotten to the bottom of that. Also, if NASA was ever caught doing a conspiracy of that magnitude it would basically mean the program would be cut-not to mention the history it would change. While a return trip to the Moon would be exciting, it is time for them to consider a mission to Mars. While it will not happen while Obama is president, if he gets the wheels turning to make it happen it would be an amazing legacy to leave behind.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

British Open finish

Stewart Cink captured the British Open in a playoff over Tom Watson today. Watson had a one stroke lead on the final hole but bogeyed it to force a playoff. A lot of fans and media feel they were cheated out of a great golf story today and are pointing to Cink as the villain. Additionally he may not get full credit for winning his first major. While it is painful to see any player lose a major like Watson did, for him to even go near a run like that in a major championship will always be remembered, as for Cink, he clearly won it with birdies on the back nine including one on the 18th hole. Even Watson would give him full credit as a golfer that played championship golf to win the British Open. He has always been one of the better American golfers playing on Ryder Cup teams and winning several tour events so this one was long overdue and it could be the first of many for Stewart.

One prediction I made was correct, none of the people on my list earlier this week won.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

RIP Walter Cronkite

Legendary journalist Walter Cronkite passed away at age 92 on Friday. He is the last great link to honest, no nonsense journalism-not like the glitz and glamour cable news of today. I had the opportunity to see in person and he was a great speaker and engaging with the audience. He was more of an influence on me and America than a lot of the previous celebrity deaths that have gotten more coverage. My thoughts are with the family and all his followers through the years that enjoyed listening to him.

Tom Watson leads British Open

Amazing! 59 year old Tom Watson, winner of five British Open titles including one at Turnberry-known as the "Duel in the Sun" with Jack Nickalus, is leading after 54 holes in the British Open. As you probably saw, he was not on my list or anyone else's list of favorites to win the British Open for at least 10 years. It is going to be a really exciting day tomorrow. This one will not involve Tiger in any way, he missed the cut on Friday. I guess we all have our bad days.
I am sure he will do just fine and I still think he will pass Jack Nickalus easily in terms of major championships.

Friday, July 17, 2009

All Star Game

I know I am a few days behind but a quick recap of Tuesday's All Star Game. There was nothing too eventful on the field, the American League won, not to anyone's surprise and should the Red Sox make it to the World Series they will have home field advantage. President Obama threw out the first pitch and there were some spattering of boos in the crowd. One should not be surprised since he did not win that state-I am sure throwing out the first pitch here was a political move for 2012. He also joined Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in the broadcast booth (aka Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee). He sounded more competent than the two of them when it came to talking about baseball. Unfortunately Tim Wakefield didn't pitch but I am still happy that he got named to the team. There has to be some strategy when it comes to players as the game does count towards home field advantage.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tim Wakefield to All Star Game

Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has been named to his first All Star Game and will be in St. Louis tommorrow night for the festivities. I cannot think of a guy that deserves it more considering all that he has done for the Red Sox in his fourteen year career. He got huge postseason wins and was one of the many necessary pieces to the 2004 and 2007 championship teams. Most importantly, Red Sox fans did not make him the next Bill Buckner after game 7 of the 2003 ALCS -a label he thought he was going to have in the hours after the devestating loss. He also came in during crticial innings of the Game 3 ALCS 19-8 loss to protect the bullpen-a move that was critical in keeping it fresh for the forthcoming comeback. Most importantly, he has been a great pillar in the Boston community and a consistent winner even at age 42. I hope he gets to pitch a few innings in the game.

Sotomayor hearings

Today Sonia Sotomayor goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee for Supreme Court justice confirmation hearings. In the end, she is an extremely qualified justice and will be confirmed for the post. However, it is important for her to have a fair hearing in front of the American people so they know how she plans to deliver jurisprudence and interpret the laws that are brought before the court. While the committee is concerned about putting an activist judge on the bench, they will make sure she can answer for all of her controversial rulings, of which she has many. In the end, experts are saying the Senate will see her as a qualified justice and will confirm her by a large margin.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

British Open predictions

As I have said majors are always a crap shoot to predict, just look at the U.S. Open, I would love to know who actually picked Lucas Glover. The British Open is even more difficult as it brings in the element of links golf, which is a much different brand than played in the states, as well as the factor of weather (this is Great Britain, not San Diego after all). This factor alone neutralizes the field. Yes, Tiger I am looking at you, remember Murfield at the British Open. I am going to pick three who I think have the best chance at the trophy and a few that I expect to be in the running. However, I won't be surprised if someone I have not even mentioned is holding the Claret Jug on Sunday.

Three favorites to win
1. Tiger Woods-still the number one player in the world and he will win one major before the year is out. He would love to tie tennis buddy Roger Federer in the same country that he won his 15th major title.
2. Padrig Harrington-The two time defending champion, it is his trophy until someone takes it away from him. He played well in difficult conditions at Royal Birkdale, I expect him to dig deep should the weather turn at Turnberry.
3. Steve Stricker-Two wins in the last four starts, he is a gritty competitor that has played well in majors and he could break through this week.

Six I expect in the running
1. Ernie Els-His game has gone downhill (missed cut at the Masters and U.S. Open) but he has had the most consistent record at the British throughout his career. I expect a few good major championship runs from him and there is a good chance he will find the magic and add one more trophy to his already impressive mantle.
2. Sergio Garcia-As much as he whines he will win a major one of these days and the British is his best shot. He has been out of the spotlight so I am sure he has been working on his game to get ready for the most important championship for Spaniards.
3. Mike Weir-Strong showing at the U.S. Open with a T-10 finish, always a gritty player, bringing treasure from the mother country might be just as cool as winning gold in hockey-maybe not.
4. Lucas Glover-Do NOT overlook the most recent major champion.
5. Henrik Stenson-Winner of this year's Players Championship and also had a strong showing at the U.S. Open, he is playing at a level this year in big events to bring Sweden its first major championship.
6. David Duval-He came back to life with a runner up finish at the U.S. Open, memories of climbing the mountain here in 2001 will motivate him to possibly relive the magic.

British Open Week

This week includes two midsummer classics, the first being the All Star Game, the second is the British Open at Turnberry in Ayrshire Scotland, also known as the Open Championship in Europe. Here are my thoughts on what is the most unique major of the year.

-The John Deere Classic sponsors a charter flight for all participants going to the British Open, talk about a culture change going from middle America to the seaside links of England or Scotland.

-While the U.S. Open is about the modern game, particularly that game of golf in America as it is played near major American cities or scenic vistas, the British Open is about the history of golf and history in general. It is played on seaside links courses located in small towns that are hundreds of years old-not in posh American suburbs near major cities. Golfers from around the world, regardless of which country you are from see Britain and Europe as a center of world (and golf) history and any championship that is played in the shadow of such history, and the British Open is the only major that can boast it.

Travelling to this championship does not involve driving your BMW from downtown on the interstate, but taking a train and staying in a modest hotel. This year is an exception as it is being played at the Turnberry Resort. Of all the courses in the rota, this one has the most unspoiled scenery and that demonstrates the simplicity of this championship. For better or worse, none of it will ever change as long as they play the championship.

I see this as a trip back in time over hundreds of years for four days. It always brings back memories of my time in Europe and hopefully I can go back someday. The next post will focus on the golf.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Madrid 2016 Olympics

When one Boston to Washington campaign ends another one begins. I would like to kick of my support for the selection of Madrid, Spain for the 2016 Summer Olympics. I believe that Spain is truly the crossroads of the world and the center of the world history and Madrid stands as its foremost symbol. Additionally, the city is a cultural mecca with outstanding food, architecture, singing, dancing, did I mention food? Additionally, it is within a days train ride of many important cities that are just as much a part of the Spanish story as the capital city. It has some stiff competition, Rio De Janiero (South America has never hosted a games), Chicago (President Obama's hometown), and London will have hosted the Games in 2012 and the International Olympic Committee usually likes to rotate continents. Nevertheless, I would love to return to Spain to see the torch lit at the Opening Ceremony. They are supposed to pick the city this fall. Viva Madrid!

Running of the Bulls

This week marks the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain which includes the famous tradition of the Running of the Bulls where brave people run through the streets being chased by the bulls that are being released to the bullfight later in the day. I studied in Spain while I was in college and do take an interest in Spanish traditions, however this is one I will never participate in and I personally do not know too many people that would be interested in doing so.

Real World DC

For those of you that are fans of MTV's "The Real World," they are doing the newest episode in Washington, DC. It is being shot at a house that is a block from where I work. In fact, I was at a fundraiser on Wed. night and a couple of the cast members came to it. I might be on TV at some point as they were doing the shots right in front of me. There are a lot of people in the upscale DuPont neighborhood that are not happy with the shooting as it is causing a lot of disruption in the area.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Federer and Tiger win

Roger Federer won the Wimbledon title yesterday by defeating Andy Roddick in an epic five set match. The fifth set, a Wimbledon record, went on for so long I thought it would never end. He wins his 15th grand slam title-the most of any male tennis player. I still think Sampras was the better athlete and better grass court player-right now he still has more titles at Wimbledon than Roger Federer. As a side, I think Federer is somewhat of a pompous yuppie too!

Tiger Woods fulfilled his vow to be a "greedy host" yesterday by winning the AT&T National (his own tournament) yesterday at Congressional outside Washington,DC. Woods and the Foundation has put together such a great event that I am not going to fault him too much if he winds up winning it. Unfortunately it has to go to Philadelphia the next few years because of preparations for the 2011 US Open at Congressional. I look forward to it coming back to DC after that is over as it has become a special tradition just like the Cherry Blossoms.

Sarah Palin resigns

Sarah Palin resigned as Alaska governor on Friday afternoon effective on July 26. Everything about it was really strange and unexpected. First, she decides to do it on a Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend when not a lot of people would be paying attention. She gives the impression that she is trying to get away with it without anyone noticing-which I don't see as appropriate for any elected official. Second, she has a very unstructured an incoherent speech which just raises questions as to why she is doing this in the first place.

As far as her future political aspirations, I am not going to predict anything at this point but we are going to find out exactly why she did not serve out her term in the months ahead and should she decide to run (especially for President) her opponent(s) will really use it against her. I cannot expect that she will make it out of the primary and I think that the Republicans could be a huge liability if she were to get the Republican nomination in 2012. Many Republican commentators cannot even make sense of the move-at least from the political perspective.

It seems like the Republicans cannot get their act together and every day is more bad news. Eventually they will right their ship but it will be interesting to see when they do it and how it is done.

New roommate

A lot happened for a holiday weekend. More on that later but I did get a new roommate to accept my offer. He is from Syracuse and will be doing a Masters degree at George Mason. He will be moving in the first weekend in August. I am excited to start a new chapter in my life as I am sure he is with moving to DC. I better get ready for some serious furniture lifting in the next few weeks!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

I will most likely take a blogging hiatus this weekend so happy Fourth of July weekend to everyone. Full recap of any siginficant weekend events on Sunday night.

Tiger Woods Tournament

This weekend is the AT&T National Tournament at Congressional Country Club in suburban Maryland, known affectionately by me as the Tiger Woods Tournament. Personally I think this is one of the best events on the tour. Proceeds benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation and one of the goals is to have a branch of the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Washington, DC (dream workplace for me but happy to be at APPA right now). It also honors the heroes of the U.S. Armed Forces. The field is one of the best non-major fields especially for the summer tournaments. For a town that is not as rabid about sports as others, they have embraced the event so far. I feel that they have embraced it more as an event than a significant championship but I am pleased that the nation's capital has a tournament that locals can get excited about.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yemen plane crash

There was an amazing story today where there was a plane crash in the Indian Ocean near the Comoros Islands and one teenage girl amazingly survived- wow!! Things like that only happen in movies especially with a plane crash. She should be cannonized as a saint just for that!

Franken will be seated

Al Franken will be seated as the Senator from Minnesota, ending an eight month election recount and court battle. My thoughts on this:

-The whole fight went on for way too long. This was a disservice to the nation and especially to the people of Minnesota who only had one senator and deserved to have their voices heard more

-The GOP continues to look bad. Party Chairman Michael Steele said that losing the election was a good thing because any legislation that does not work out can be blamed on the Democrats. Are you kidding me? As party chairman you cannot condone election losses. Secondly, at least the Democrats have the means to put through their agenda which your party has little or no control over. Whether the legislation works remains to be seen but for now, look who is king of the hill. To think I was impressed with this guy in the 2006 Maryland Senate election-look who is taking out the trash now