Specter Swap: A Gimmick or Wake Up Call?

I think the worst kept secret in the political world was made official today with veteran Republican Senator Arlen Specter switching his party affiliation to become a Democrat.

To me, this is more of a survival tactic played by the senator since he was more than likely going to lose the upcoming republican primary for the 2010 election. Now if you are the democrats, you welcome him and take him in with open arms because he is one of the most respected people in congress regardless of which political hat he decides to wear. However, with the GOP fighting with every last breath they have to keep Al Franken from being seated in Minnesota, the problem still remains of having 60 seats to prevent a filibuster. Specter probably would have voted in line with the democrats against a filibuster even if he didn’t switch so it doesn’t really solve anything. In turn, Specter probably gets a less competitive primary challenge on this side or the aisle with the party backing him in the 2010 race.

Now if you are one of the very few moderates remaining on the conservative side, this really just brings to the forefront most of the problems you are facing. There is no longer exists such a thing as a moderate Republican. It’s either you are with the extreme right wing base with the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly and Bachmann and that is a real shame. It shouldn’t matter if the vast majority of the people in this country are leaning moderately or completely liberal now, there should always be a respectable and honest but not lunatic opposition on the other side. You should have base a voice of reason from the minority to keep the party in power of over-extending their reach of power but we just don’t have that anymore in this country and it is quite a shame.

I have always tried to respect a person’s view within reason regardless of whether I agreed with it or completely disagreed because the critics always tell you your faults. They may not necessarily express in the way you might like it, but more likely than not they will tell you something about trying to appeal to more people. It’s quite unfortunate that a vast majority just disregards the republican minority now as nothing but a party of no but that is nobody’s fault but the Republican Party’s. They have, for far too long relied on the politics of fear and isolation to shove their legislation through and the masses have finally woken up.

As a self-identified moderate liberal, I think it is more important in today’s times than ever which so many politicians getting caught up in a power struggle rather than representing their constituents. Living in one of the very few political systems that institutes a two-party system which is quite undemocratic as it is, and now having one of the two parties run by people who have extremists views is not a step in the right direction of democracy in this country. Since the 3rd parties can only spout off their mouths and exert very little influence into the political system that is in play right now, it is that much more crucial to moderate and reform the conservative base.

The Republicans will need a purge sooner or later of these people with radical fundamentalist views at the forefront and the public face of its party. As the next generation of younger constituents who are naturally more liberal to begin with begin to grow up, the GOP faces a major threat of facing the situation they had a couple of decades ago where they are down to 150 seats in congress. You already notice the slight change with the likes of Megan McCain calling for the Roves of her party to step away since they are no longer relevant and are hurting the progressive cause of their party.

As for people my age, two of the most conservative people I know are shifting their views in polar opposite directions. One is becoming much more liberal fiscally and towards economic policies to support a system where the government plays a bigger role in helping people get back up on their feet. On the other hand, the other one is becoming more and more conservative by the day. You almost get a feel of an old and battered athlete who doesn’t know when to retire and admit his time has come and gone. Resorting to out of context quotes and unsubstantiated rumors as “facts” to try to pick up any dirt or score cheap points in a political discussion.

Now for Senator Specter, we will very quickly find out whether he jumped ship simply to save and extend his political career or whether his political philosophy has really become more in line with the Democrats.

Trailer: New Documentary “Facing Ali”

Wow, this certainly came out of nowhere! A fantastic new trailer for a documentary about greatest boxer of all-time Muhammad Ali called Facing Ali has debuted on Apple today. I had heard about some documentary but hadn’t heard of this at all until tonight and it looks simply looks amazing. I think Ali’s life story is a the most remarkable sports story out there and this documentary looks like it will be an unforgettable look at one of the greatest athletes ever.

Three-time World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali defeated almost every top fighter of the golden age of boxing and symbolized the sport for generations of fans. Now, ten of his acclaimed rivals pay tribute to perhaps the world’s most beloved and inspiring athlete in Pete McCormack’s Facing Ali.

This documentary includes appearances by George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Earnie Shavers, George Chuvalo, Sir Henry Cooper, and Joe Frazier, among many others. Lionsgate is distributing Facing Ali with SpikeTV, but hasn’t set a theatrical release date for this yet.

It claims to change the way you see Muhammad Ali forever. I am not sure it will do that for me since I have followed and watched a lot of his old fights but it can certainly open the eyes of a lot of the younger Americans here about why he is considered the greatest of all-time.

I originally saw the clip on FIRST SHOWING.NET, so make sure the check out the entire article over there.

Best NFL Draft Story: The Ballad of Big Mike

Here is a story that my friend Joe Sullivan showed me who knows when since the story is initially dated September of 2006 but it really takes another step today. The entire story is available through New York Times: The Ballad of Big Mike.

It is about a guy named Michael Oher who had a really tough childhood which father not being around and his mother who had cocaine addiction problems. He never really got the proper education and ended up repeating first and second grade. He also attended 11 different schools during his first nine years as a student.

His life completely changed when he was 16 years old and had gotten into a private school named Briarcrest Christian School through a person he was living with. There,  a white couple with a daughter, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, allowed Oher to move in with them and began taking care of his needs after becoming familiar with his difficult personal circumstances

At that age of 16, Oher had a measured I.Q. of 80, which put him in mankind’s ninth percentile. An aptitude test he took in eighth grade measured his “ability to learn” and placed him in the sixth percentile. He had finished his sophomore year with a 0.9. A better performance at the back end of his junior year, when he moved into the Tuohy home, raised his cumulative average to 1.564.

The Tuohy family connected him with a tutor, who worked with him for twenty hours a week, eventually bringing his low-D performance up to a 2.05 grade point average. A series of internet-based courses from Brigham Young University served as replacements for poor marks earned earlier in his academic career, enabling him to become eligible to play football in college.

After receiving scholarship offers from the University of Tennessee, Louisiana State University, the University of Alabama, and North Carolina State University, among others, Oher ultimately decided to attend the University of Mississippi, the Tuohys’ alma mater.

Oher started in 10 games as a guard during his first season with Mississippi, becoming a first-team freshman All American. He shifted to his natural position of left tackle for the 2006 season, and was named to a variety of preseason All-Conference and All-American teams. He currently has a listed height of 6’6″ and a listed weight of 322 pounds. He was named a second-team SEC offensive lineman after his sophomore season and a first-team SEC offensive lineman after his junior season.

Last January, he declared for the NFL draft before deciding to change his mind and return to Ole Miss for his final season. He is projected to be a quality first round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft that is starting today in about an hour.

Once again, the entire story is available through New York Times: The Ballad of Big Mike.

Charles Barkley As Wolverine?

As if the X-Men Origins film wasn’t getting enough promotion for the movie as it was, now they came out with this brilliant advertisement. Whoever thought of this one, definitely deserves a raise or a couple of claws or something.

I had been looking for this video online ever since I watched it on TNT during one of the basketball playoff games and finally found it tonight. Also, there is an entire Inside The NBA clip that I have attached after the break.

Wolverine Ad:

Continue reading “Charles Barkley As Wolverine?”

My Trip To The House That $1.3B Built

I had my first trip to the new Yankee Stadium last night and two things stuck out to me: 1- The stadium is absolutely a modern marvel with video monitors literally everywhere to the unlimited array of foods available to eat and 2- the level of frustration of fans is rising remarkably and you have to wonder whether that is because these “fans” haven’t won a championship since 2000 and maybe just maybe, its starting to take a visible toll.

First let me talk about the stadium. I got there about two hours ahead of the scheduled 7:05 PM start so I would have plenty of time to walk around and check things out. I went in through Gate 8 which has is located by the bleachers and behind food court out in center field. I don’t know how new the technology is around the league more importantly in new stadiums, but the self-check in with your ticket seemed very interesting (picture 2). I figured we had gotten there a little too early since it was still two hours before game time but as the game (and plenty of empty seats) would tell, there just weren’t going to be a lot of people at a cold, windy, slightly wet weeknight game in April at the current outrageous prices.

I was at the second game of the season two years ago which marked the return of Andy Pettitte to Yankee Pinstripes, a game at which it started to snow in the later innings, and the stadium was still packed. Maybe I’m looking too much into it this early in the season but the official attendance at that game in April 5, 2007 game was 52,096 (56,886 capacity) and compare that to yesterdays game which officially was 42,065 (52,325) but it definitely felt a lot less occupied. That by comparison is 91.6% in 2007 versus 80.4% attendance last night. When was the last time you could imagine trying to attend a Yankee Game and have less than 90% capacity?

Enough complaining about that so back to the stadium. I walked around a lot and saw every food wise from Pizza to Johnny Rockets to Kosher Hot Dogs but was disappointed I couldn’t find the Sushi Bar… oh well, maybe next time?

As for the seats and the view from them, I think the viewpoint from the bleachers is improved and even slightly closer from the old stadium. I even walked around the stadium and it’s probably difficult to say that there is a bad seat in the house — except for the obstructed seats. They have three small video monitors along the wall of those seat but you can still see the mound, the home plate but can’t see the opposite outfield down the line.

Now to the fans: For a majority of my games, I have viewed them from the bleachers… not only for the roll call but the atmosphere and interaction for the most part is a lot more friendlier there than anywhere else. Not so the case last night. Granted most of the anger and completely unnecessary profanities largely due to the amount of alcohol that is being consumed in the Bleachers (something that was not allowed in the old stadium).

New York Daily News sports columnist Filip Bondy summed up the new situation by saying, “At this new-fangled stadium, the golden liquid flows like soda and the walls are down that once protected the aristocracy from the bleacher proletariat. This is bound to create some class warfare down the road, some storming of the Legends suites.” You can clearly notice a difference now with people sitting in those bleachers starting random chants with very little backing from the section. Obviously they die off just as quickly but that doesn’t mean the random fan would get the hint to stop, they continued… for the entire game.

I wonder aloud but it is going to be interesting to see as the minor struggles of the team in the standings continue and if their playoffs struggles continue, how the fan base’s loyalty through attendance numbers and temper would react if they were to continue this slide away from roughly the decade and a half of winning baseball?

Only time will tell how these things will play out but as for the game yesterday, it was the first time that the Yankees had won — bringing my Yankee record to 1-6  now all time. It was also the first time I heard “Enter Sandman” at the Stadium and hence the first time I saw Mariano pitch. That streak is over so it seems like it’ll be time to start a new one (probably in the summer) but in the meantime, enjoy the pictures below.