Saturday, January 28, 2012

The move might be permanent

For the next month, I will be using WordPress to host this blog. There's no real reason behind the move except that I've heard good things about that service and I want to give it a shot.

So, be sure to check out and tell me what you think!

David Cameron à Nicolas Sarkozy: jusqu'à Man!

David Cameron to Nicolas Sarkozy: Man up!

As the Telegraph reports, the British prime minister believes the French president is making a mistake by promising to remove French troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year.
The Prime Minister confirmed that Britain would stick to Nato's original timetable and pull out combat troops by the end of 2014, when Afghan forces are scheduled to take over nationwide security responsibilities.
He made the comments as he and the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, met at Chequers to sign an agreement that Britain would continue giving aid after troops left.
Mr Karzai's visit was his latest stop on a tour of European capitals trying to shore up backing for his aid-reliant government as public support among Nato members continues to slide.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, surprised many on Friday by announcing that French troops would speed up their withdrawal and leave by the end of next year, instead of by 2014.
His announcement was widely perceived in France as an electoral ploy ahead of a tough re-election campaign this spring.
Mr. Sarkozy made his announcement yesterday, which EuroNews notes was less than enthusiastically received by Mr. Karzai's government.

I'd be the perfect running mate for Mitt Romney

Hey, before you laugh, consider...

1. I've been married to only one woman (it will be 15 years in May)
2. I'm Catholic, an influential swing group in the election
3. I live in Pennsylvania, a swing state
4. I'm a Washington outsider
5. I don't drink or smoke
6. I've voted for Democrats and Republicans
7. I'm a big fan of the Olympics
8. I like Boston
9. I'm a strong believer in capitalism
10. I'm not Joe Biden

The latest "blame the media" defense

You've got to hand it to Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas -- he is perhaps the best at his position in the National Hockey League.

And he knows how to deflect more than just pucks.

You might recall on Monday Mr. Thomas opted to not attend a White House ceremony during which the Bruins team was honored for winning the Stanley Cup. He justified his decision as a personal protest against what he called the intrusive nature of government in people's lives.

The Boston Herald reports that Mr. Thomas stands by not visiting the White House and accusing the media of stoking the controversy.
Day 5 of the Tim Thomas [stats] controversy rolled on here at All-Star weekend as the players met the press at the Ottawa Westin, and it’s clear the Bruins [team stats] goalie is ready for the whole brouhaha to go away.

“I think it should. Why? Because it’s all media-driven right now, and it has been from the start,” Thomas said yesterday. “Everything I said and did was as an individual and not as a representative of the Boston Bruins. All it has to do with is me. It’s separate from hockey. That’s my personal life. Those are my personal views. Those are my personal beliefs, It has nothing to do with hockey. It has nothing to do with the All-Star Game. It has nothing to do with the Boston Bruins.”
 I did predict the fallout from his decision wouldn't easily go away, didn't I?

The New York Times adds that Thomas' snub could lead to management trading him
Thomas’s teammates were well aware of his political beliefs, and their public statements in the last week did not point to a rift in the Bruins dressing room.
“In the end, if it’s a good or a bad choice, he’s still my teammate, so I’m still going to have his back no matter what he goes through,” Tyler Seguin said at the All-Star draft, echoing what other Bruins have said about Thomas.
But team management might feel differently. The Bruins’ president, Cam Neely, said it “would have been nice” for Thomas to attend and that he had “concerns” about how the controversy would affect him.
Thomas’s no-trade clause expires at the end of this season, and General Manager Peter Chiarelli may be tempted to trade Thomas and his $5-million-a-year cap hit. Thomas’s 24-year-old backup, Tuukka Rask, has been a top-notch goalie in all three of his N.H.L. seasons.
There may be some resentment on Thomas’s side as well. A season and a half ago, when he was nursing a hip injury and was playing merely well rather than at his usual stratospheric level, the Bruins shopped Thomas around. That slight bothered him. He removed the Bruins’ black and gold colors from his pads and took the team crest off his mask.
Thomas was miffed again last season when, after a couple of off games amid a record-breaking season, Neely suggested he might not start in the playoffs.
Now, speculation is rampant that Thomas will leave Boston. Other teams are already licking their chops about what it could mean to have the greatest goalie of the era — and the most politically controversial one — in their nets.
If he were traded, would that also be the media's fault?

The English and the Italians are coming to Boston

Now, this is not some bad joke.

In fact, if you are a soccer fan, then the English and the Italians coming to Boston might mean one thing...road trip! The Boston Globe recently reported the details.
Organizers are planning an exhibition soccer game between Liverpool FC and AS Roma at Fenway Park this summer, according to multiple sources involved in the negotiations.
The match would be part of United States tours for both teams, the first since controlling interest in the clubs was purchased by Boston-based investors. ...

The game would be part of a tournament involving Chelsea FC and, possibly, Celtic FC. Matches will also be held in Chicago (Comiskey Park or Wrigley Field) and New York (Yankee Stadium).
Dates have not been set. Liverpool has tentatively made reservations to be in the Boston area from June 20 through July 4.
As I said, road trip. 

'To Hell with you'????

Pittsburgh's top Roman Catholic official -- Bishop David Zubik -- has left little doubt what he thinks of the Obama administration's positions on birth control.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review explains.
The Obama administration thumbed its nose at Catholics across the United States last week on birth control issues in a direct affront to religious freedom, Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik said on Friday.
The administration did so when it upheld rules requiring employer health care plans to offer contraceptive and sterilization services at no cost to women, Zubik said.
In a letter posted on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh's website, Zubik wrote: "The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, 'To Hell with you.' "
"I believe that religious liberty is being threatened by this mandate," Zubik said in a phone interview, insisting the church would never support it.
KDKA-TV notes that the bishop refused to back down when interviewed by KDKA radio
“Bishop, don’t you inflame the situation by saying the administration is saying, ‘To Hell with you,’ the Catholic faithful of the United States, in your letter?” KDKA’s John Shumway asked Zubik on KDKA Radio Friday morning.

“All that I’m saying is that I hope it receives the attention that it deserves because that’s what it feels like,” said Zubik.
It appears the bishop's editorial has not yet been uploaded to the Pittsburgh Catholic Website. Once it is, I will update this post. 

London? You can't play in London!

The Associated Press reports a dispute has erupted between the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission and the St. Louis Rams.
The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission says the Rams' plans to play one home game in London the next three years violates the team's stadium lease.
The CVC said in a release Friday that the lease requires the team to play all its home games at the Edward Jones Dome, and was awaiting a response from the team.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch adds that the CVC knows there is a positive associated with the Rams playing three London-based games
The commission acknowledged that the Rams playing overseas would "elevate an awareness of St. Louis on the global stage." But it added, "Our lease with the Rams requires that the Rams play all their home games in the Edward Jones Dome."
CVC President Kathleen "Kitty" Ratcliffe was unavailable for comment today. A commission spokeswoman, Donna Andrews, said she couldn't offer any additional details.
A section of the the Rams' lease at the Dome calls for the team "to play all its home NFL Games (other than pre-season NFL Games) at the Facilities." The Rams can disregard this rule if the Dome is not in useable condition or if the lease is terminated, according to that section of the lease.
Here's a guess -- the CVC and the team will reach some kind of deal that allows them to share whatever income results from the games in London.

And remember that the team's lease with the city runs out in 2014.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I always like seeing pictures of multiple U.S. presidents

Such an opportunity presents itself tonight as I find out that George H. W. Bush (and son Jeb) met President Obama today.

I do have a question: When did Mr. Bush begin using a wheelchair? And for what reason?

Hey, Pittsburgh...we're number 6

Take the time to "read" this WPXI story...chances are if you are from Pittsburgh, you definitely can!

Here's the lede:
In a recent study conducted by the Central Connecticut State University, Pittsburgh was ranked the sixth most literate city in the United States.
The news brief fails to offer you a link to additional information from Central Connecticut State University. However, being the kind of full-service blogger I am, I took the time to find such information. The Bristol Press' story is available on the CCSU Website and it identifies how the study was conducted.

A former Yale quarterback has some explaining to do

There is perhaps no more prestigious academic achievement than a Rhodes Scholarship.

There are few universities in this country with the prestigious academic record of Yale University.

There is no other athletic position on the college level as scrutinized and respected as the starting quarterback.

With those details as the backdrop, check out the confusion surrounding whether Yale's starting quarterback (ahem) stretched the truth (ahem) when he suggested late last year that he had declined to interview for a Rhodes Scholarship.

And, yes, when you lump the former head coach's resume questions into this, you have a "wonderful" story!

Les troupes françaises seront de sortie en Afghanistan d'ici la fin de l'année 2013

French troops will exit Afghanistan by the end of 2013.

It might be a bit of election year politics or it might be what the Afghans want. Or both. Regardless of what is behind the decision, French president Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that French troops will be out of Afghanistan in less than two years. The New York Times examines his plan.
He increased this year’s withdrawal of troops from 600 to 1,000, and said that French troops would hand over security responsibility in one of its main areas of responsibility in Afghanistan, Kapisa Province, northeast of Kabul, beginning in March, and that he would press for NATO to accelerate its handover of primary security responsibilities as well.
Mr. Sarkozy’s announcements, including a statement that the level of Taliban infiltration in the Afghan Army “has been underestimated, ” came after a meeting here with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.
Reuters acknowledges that Mr. Sarkozy is looking for a domestic political boost from the troop reduction and pullout.
Sarkozy's Socialist rival Francois Hollande, who is comfortably ahead in the polls, has pledged to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of this year if he wins the election held in two rounds in April and May.
In a CSA survey published on Thursday, 84 per cent of people said they were in favour of troops leaving by the end of 2012.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has ruled out a "hasty" retreat and most analysts believe it will technically be difficult for Paris to drop out of the NATO-led coalition so quickly.
"Announcing a French withdrawal could set off panic among other European countries in Afghanistan," said military analyst Jean-Dominique Merchet.
In a separate story, Reuters examines how Mr. Hollande is showing no signs of cracking as he continues to lead in the polls

Conversation in the Moretti home last night

Me, to father-in-law: "You know, Ray, I've always gotten you a new sweatshirt representing the university where I am teaching. So, I guess you now know what I'm getting you for Christmas next year." (He and I smile and chuckle.)

Ray: "Maybe you can get me two from Robert Morris."

Me: "I don't know. They're pretty expensive. I'm not sure you're worth it." (More chuckles follow.)

Nicky: "Dad. Just buy him one then chop it in half. You can then give him two sweatshirts."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why kids are so precious.

Just imagine...

Bear Bryant, Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes and, yes, Rip Engle must have thrown one heck of a welcoming party for Joe Paterno.

And the economy keeps rolling along! Sort of.

Reuters is among many news operations reporting the latest economic data. And those data are good.
The U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in 1-1/2 years in the fourth quarter of 2011, but a strong rebuilding of stocks by businesses and a slower pace of spending on capital goods hinted at softer growth early this year.
U.S. gross domestic product expanded at a 2.8 per cent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Friday, a sharp acceleration from the 1.8 per cent clip of the prior three months and the quickest pace since the second quarter of 2010. 
It was, however, a touch below economists expectations in a Reuters poll for a 3 per cent rate, and nearly 2 percentage points was due to the build-up in business inventories. 
Yes, the economy is moving forward, but the New York Times notes there is one significant problem.
The pace of growth was faster than in the third quarter, when gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 1.8 percent.
Even so, both  figures were below the average speed of economic expansion in the United States since World War II. Above-average growth in the quarter would have helped to make up for the destruction wrought by the Great Recession.
“At this rate, we’ll never reduce unemployment,” said Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania. “The recovery has been postponed, again.”
Still, the 2.8 percent rate is likely to be seen by many as something of a relief, given that just last summer many economists were predicting the country would soon dip back into recession. Whether this modestly brisker pace of growth will continue is unclear, however.
The picture has brighter colors, yes, but the dark spots remain those millions who want to work but can't. 

Ron Paul -- racist?

The Washington Post reports a bombshell this morning -- Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul appears to have authorized racist-driven newsletters two decades ago.
Ron Paul, well known as a physician, congressman and libertarian , has also been a businessman who pursued a marketing strategy that included publishing provocative, racially charged newsletters to make money and spread his ideas, according to three people with direct knowledge of Paul’s businesses.
The Republican presidential candidate has denied writing inflammatory passages in the pamphlets from the 1990s and said recently that he did not read them at the time or for years afterward. Numerous colleagues said he does not hold racist views. 
But people close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.
“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,’’ said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman.
Multiple marriages? The American public might forgive you.

Being amazingly rich and paying (legally) a low tax rate? The American public might forgive you.

Being a devout Catholic with corresponding social and moral views? The American public will at minimum admire you for your convictions.

Being a racist?

Of course, Rep. Paul is allowed to explain his side of the story. And reporters will dog him for answers throughout the final days leading up to the Florida Primary and beyond.

Determining a legacy

The passing of former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno reminded me once again that a person lives his or her life but others determine what that individual's legacy will be.

Such is the discipline we know as history.

Yes, Mr. Paterno's legacy would have been a lot clearer if he had demonstrated more conviction when he learned that one of his former assistant coaches was accused of sexually molesting multiple boys. He publicly atoned as best as one can in a short period of time, acknowledging that he should have done more when he learned about the allegations. He had less than 90 days from the time his actions were learned until his death to explain what prompted him to tell the university's athletic director while apparently doing nothing more. Imagine if he had had 90 months.

So, let's admit that right now it will be impossible to write Mr. Paterno's legacy without considering the sexual assault scandal.

Mr. Paterno was not perfect. Then again, no one is. Each of us has faults. Each of us makes our fair share of mistakes. Each of us had a bad experience with someone that inevitably will be linked to what we are. We all know that one person who won't forgive no matter what and will tell you and anyone else all about it.

When you attempt to objectively assess Mr. Paterno's legacy, it is necessary to ask what he meant to Penn State University. Would it be the academic, research and respected institution it is today if Mr. Paterno had not used his reputation to increase the university's profile?

How many Penn State football players would have graduated and become solid professionals outside of sports if Mr. Paterno had not been their coach?

And would Penn State be a nationally recognized athletic powerhouse if Mr. Paterno had not built the football team into a national powerhouse?

The cynic might say that while Mr. Paterno accomplished much that any other person could have done many of the same things. I doubt that, and here's why: What made Mr. Paterno so integral to the university was that he was there for more than 60 years and the head coach for more than 40.

Presume the following: In 1977, Mr. Paterno opts to leave Penn State for another college job or for one in the NFL. In the subsequent 35 years, the school wins about two-thirds of its games, goes through five head coaches and wins no national championships. And its graduation rate is about 55 percent.

Suddenly, Penn State doesn't seem so great, does it?

And remember we're assessing the football team and nothing more in this hypothetical example. Can we say with conviction that the five men who followed Mr. Paterno would have been as generous with their time or their money to develop the academic mission of the university?

I didn't think so.

I'm not sure I can write an objective assessment of Joe Paterno because I firmly believe his strengths outweighed his weaknesses. No, I didn't know Mr. Paterno. No, I didn't attend Penn State. No, I have never worked at Penn State. But from the perch upon which I sit (which is my favorite leather chair in my living room), I admire Mr. Paterno more for what he stood for than for what he did.

He was a gentleman who demanded that his players graduated from Penn State while playing a disciplined game of football. He was an honorable family man, blessed with a beautiful wife and independent, humble children. He used his fame and fortune not for selfish purposes but for the benefit of future generations.

You decide if that's an objective or complete assessment.

If it's an "investigation"...

...then doesn't that mean the news organization reporting the investigation actually did the work?

ABC News touts on the "investigative" link from its home page a report about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his taxes. But when you get to the end of the fifth paragraph you read this:
Several Republican election lawyers told ABC News Thursday that the account still needed to be disclosed because a Romney trust earned about $1,700 in income on the account during 2010. The campaign's decision to amend the forms was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
You want to read the Los Angeles Times story, don't you? Well, here it is. 

Now, if I'm going to call out ABC News, then I need to be honest -- I wasn't the first to "investigate" its story. Here is the tweet that called my attention to it: ABC News "Exclusive" on Romney failing to disclose Swiss Bank account includes the line "was first reported by the Los Angeles Times". It was posted by Sam Stein, the Huffington Post's political editor and White House correspondent.

Oh, and let's remember that Huffington Post joined over the weekend in "reporting" that Joe Paterno had died; both organizations 'liberally borrowed' from, which had done the heavy lifting on that story.

Perhaps the Huffington Post needs to be careful about calling out others?