Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Message Boards, Blogs, and Cardozo...oh my

I admit that I enjoy message boards and blogs. People have asked me what the difference between the content of a message board and blog would be. To me, it is quite simple. A message board provides gossip from the "lupine fringe" while a blog provides educated analysis from people who have actually taken time to think before they typed.

Let me provide an example. When I visit message boards, I find what BobLeeSwagger always finds. I find drivel about how "I'm cutting up my American Express card because Coach K is Satan" or "John Bunting is the greatest leader of men since General MacArthur" or "That 12 year-old basketball phenom at the YMCA better come to my school, but if he doesn't it's because the other school's coach paid for hookers." It's a bunch of garbage, but garbage is a lot of fun. And, every once in a blue moon someone hits a nail on its head. That's what I'm there for. I enjoy seeing who can be right when everyone else is so wrong.

With a blog, you get thoughtful commentary (though many say I swim in the shallow-end of the thoughtful pool) that you might not see elsewhere. For instance, I came across a post at Confirm Them this evening about Supreme Court Justice Cardozo. Some people have been saying that Justice Cardozo was the first Hispanic or Latino Justice. Confirm Them thoughtfully and painstakingly explains the fallacy of that assertion. That's just as entertaining as the garbage on the message boards, but instead of being much dumber after reading it I am actually enlightened by it. Imagine that!

There is a place in life for message boards and blogs, for fun and educational, for ying and yang. Lucky for me, I don't have to stray to far to find it.

Cubs Charging

Don't look now, but the Chicago Cubs are surging. The Cubs have won four in a row behind great starting picthing by Maddux against the White Sox, Prior against the White Sox, Zambrano against the Brewers, and Wood against the Brewers. The starts for Prior and Wood were their first since returning from the disabled list. If the pitching remains this strong, there is no reason why the Cubs can't surpass the Braves for the wild card (the Braves started the day with a three game lead over the Cubs) or perhaps the Cardinals in the NL Central (where the Cubs started the day 8.5 back). It will certainly make for an interesting summer.

Late June Golf News

On Sunday, two golf tournaments ended exactly the way fans prefer. Players made plays. In the Barclay’s Classic, Padraig Harrington made Jim Furyk pay for sloppy back nine play when he drained a 65-foot putt for eagle on the final hole to win by one. In the U.S. Women’s Open, Birdie Kim (appropriately named) holed a difficult bunker shot for birdie on the final hole. That shot put pressure on Morgan Pressel, pressure she couldn’t handle. Fans like to see winners who go out and win tournaments.

The Harrington victory is a feel-good story as well. Harrington has now won twice on the PGA Tour this year. He is currently trying to play good golf while worrying about his ailing father back home in Ireland. He made his father proud on Sunday.

There was a Jean Van de Velde sighting in France over the weekend. And, it happened again. Like The Open Championship in 1999, he blew this year’s French Open. He led coming to the final hole, but hit the ball into the hazard. In the playoff, he made triple bogey and lost (barely) to Jean-Francois Remesy who only made double bogey. Remesy was the defending champion of the vent which is the second biggest event of the year for these Frenchmen, behind The Open Championship.

Brad Faxon hosted his annual charity golf event this week in Rhode Island.

Former U.S. Open champion Andy North, won one for the old guys at Treetops. In the annual par three skins game, North defeated CBS’s funny golf man Gary McCord, Fred Couples, and Phil Mickelson to take home $350,000. That’s a big check!

Augusta National is lengthening the course again. Is it Tiger-proofing? I don’t want to call it that. I like the basis for their decisions. Bobby Jones wrote about how the course was to be played, and the folks want people to be playing it the same way Jones did.

Erick's Recent Speculation

Erick at Red State has the most recent scuttlebutt on SCOTUS retirement possibilities. And more.

Ethics and Sport

I have problems with colleges offering jobs to the paresnts of a recruit. Whether or not it was a quid pro quo for getting the kid's commitment to play ball, it looks like one. Kansas did this many years ago with Danny Manning, hiring his father to get Danny. Yes, UNC's own Larry Brown was at fault there. Now, Kansas is doing it again. Bill Self hired Ronnie Chalmers to be Director of Basketball Operations. It just so happens that Chalmers is the father of incoming freshman hoopster Mario Chalmers. Sketchy? You bet.

This is not the only shady deal with the Self program at KU. Dave Sez has been on it. The shady Kurtis Townsend has been hired as an assistant coach at Kansas, coming with C.J. Giles and maybe Terrance Williams.

Gregg Doyel has written about these icky package deals. I like his "ooze factor." He can add these recent KU escapades to his list.

Kansas has gone to hell in a handbasket.

NBA Draft

I am officially a fan of the Charlotte Bobcats now that they have drafted both Raymond Felton and Sean May from UNC. Great picks, both from a basketball standpoint and from a business standpoint. I noticed tonight that the network that covered Bobcats basketball has been disbanded. With two Tar Heels on the squad ticket sales will be boosted (good news considering they were next to last in ticket sales last year). It also provides them with a solid nucleus when added to Emeka Okafor (2005 Rookie of the Year) which may help with TV deals. In my mind, I don't see why they don't show their games that are not picked up by ESPN, TNT, or NBA on BET which was started by Bobcats owner Robert L. Johnson.

Many people have heard me say for months that I would not cheer for the Bobcats if they chose Chris Paul. I lost respect for Paul when he punched NC State's Julius Hodge with a low blow. To be honest, tonight worked out perfectly. Two Tar Heels ended up in Charlotte, and Chris Paul got stuck with George Shinn in New Orleans.

I am surprised that Jawad Williams was not picked in the draft. Regardless, he (and possibly Jackie Manuel) will get shots through free agency. Either way, drfat night was a great recruiting tool for UNC basketball under Roy Williams.

I am pleased that the arrogant John Gilchrist of Maryland was not drafted.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Shelby Foote, R.I.P.

Shelby Foote, one of the greatest American historians on the Civil War, passed away Monday evening at the age of 88. Mr. Foote's three-volumes on the war are must-read material for anyone with an interest in the Civil War. In my opinion, they are must-read material for everyone (period).

Shlaes on China

Amity Shlaes makes very astute observations on relations between the United Sate and China in her column today. I believe that she is correct that the concern of average Americans is with China's totalitarian regime controlling these business entities, thereby seizing control of formerly American private sector players.

It is true that the furniture industry is hurting itself by showing Chinese interests how to manufacture and sell high-end product. Many knock-offs are now being made and sold cheaper than the high-end American-owned products. I have been concerned that the American businesses will eventually be put out of business by the Chinese who will start selling their knock-offs directly to the America public at much lower prices than the same product with a longstanding American brand name on it.

Maybe Miss Shlaes is on to something else here that I had not considered. Maybe the Chinese will buy the American furniture company for whom it is performing the manufacturing. That is even worse than my prior concern because an historically American company name would then be Chinese-owned.

The totalitarian government in China reminds many Americans of the evil empire of the Soviet Union. People see human rights abuses, a huge population, and a large military force. Now they also see a strengthening economy that is ready to start competing with ours. Our government leaders have to work for change in the internal workings of the Chinese government in order to calm the concerns of the American public. Otherwise, Miss Shlaes is right and that bet our leaders made will have to be reconsidered.

Souter, Kelo, and a Sense of Humor

This is too funny. Logan Darrow Clements has requested that the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire use the power of eminent domain to condemn Justice Souter's home so he can build a hotel there called "Lost Liberty Hotel." I suppose Justice Souter may be rethinking his vote on the Kelo case. I am sure nothing will come of this, but it is fun news on a slow news day.

Wimbledon Women

The folks at Wimbledon and NBC Sports must be thrilled this afternoon. They would be hard-pressed to find a stronger field of women reaching the semifinal round of The Championships. Top seed, and former Wimbledon champion, Lindsay Davenport will face #3 seed Amelie Mauresmo. In the other semifinal, #2 seed, and defending champion, Maria Sharapova will face #14 seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams. (The second set of the Williams match against #12 Mary Pierce was a classic.)

It is noteworthy that of the four Russian women to reach the quarterfinal round (#2 Sharapova, #5 Kuznetsova, #8 Petrova, and #9 Myskina), only Sharapova reached the semifinals.

George and Bill

The new friendship between President George H. W. Bush and President Bill Clinton is still bizarre to me. They were together at Kennebunkport Monday. I agree that it is how life sould be - there is no place for partisanship in everyday life.

Easley and Hank Hill

Matt Bai wrote a piece for the NY Times about "King of the Hill Democrats" which centered on North carolina Governor Mike Easley. The article is pretty good, and it gives decent explanations of how Easley remains so popular in what should be a red state. I find it noteworthy that it points out how Easley (as Hank Hill) disapproves of the budget the NC Senate passed. I also note that Bai failed to mention that the Senate is controlled by the Democrats, leaving the impression that the Democratic governor is fighting a GOP Senate.

Bai is writing a book about the Democratic Party's future. I wonder what he will say about Governor Easley.

Gonzales Speculation

There have been rumors abounding that President Bush would like to appoint AG Alberto Gonzales to the Supreme Court, and the more conservative factions of the GOP have been concerned about such a selection. The new speculation seems to be that Gonzales is no longer on the short list, that he is helping compile the list. I have two things to say about this.

First, Dick Cheney was not on the VP list, he was compiling it. He ended up being the choice anyway. So, don't read too much into Gonzales helping with names.

Second, if Bush wanted Gonzales on the bench, he never should have appointed him as AG. Many people have concerns over a Gonzales nomination due to the number of cases he would have to recuse himself from hearing.

Personally, I think Gonzales is an outstanding lawyer, but not the right choice for Supreme Court justice. We will see.

Monday, June 27, 2005

More Texas Reaction to Kelo

As noted, one city in Texas is moving forward with condemnations for economic development now that Kelo has been decided. Now, I see that some Texans are moving in the other direction just as quickly. Senator Cornyn (R-TX) has introduced a bill to prohibit takings that are for "economic development" purposes. His floor speech and press release are available as well. Credit must go to Volokh for finding this. It is likely no coincidence that a U.S. Senator from the Lone Star State introduced this bill, considering the plans in Freeport.

Interview Advice

This is a funny column giving advice on what NOT to do during a job interview at a law firm.

Taking Advantage

It has not taken long for municipal governments to seize upon the recent Kelo ruling. Freeport, Texas wants to build a new marina, so the city is moving forward with plans to take land owned by seafood businesses. The landowners will fight for their property, but the Kelo ruling makes it likely that the city will win.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Quick Thoughts on Kelo

This week, the Supreme Court released its decision in Kelo v. City of New London. The importance of the decision is not limited to eminent domain law. This decision will have lasting effects as the President may be facing the need to appoint new justices to the high bench this summer.

The Kelo opinion makes every effort to follow precedent. In many cases, I applaud such efforts. However, this is not one of those occasions. Justice Thomas’s dissent does an exemplary job in explaining how the cases upon which Kelo is based were wrongly decided themselves.

Justice Thomas does well to cite founding-era definitions of “public use” throughout his dissent. “Public use” should mean what it says. He is also correct to note that the Framers were very selective in their choice of language throughout the Constitution. He suggests that the term “use” should mean the same in the Fifth Amendment as it means in Article 1, § 10 or Article 1, § 8. It should not mean the same as the term “general welfare.”

The Kelo decision fails to protect private property the way in which our Founders wished. The common law from Great Britain was the basis for this protection. Blackstone said, “So great…is the regard of the law for private property that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community.” Justice Thomas quoted this language in his dissent, and it is precisely why the majority was flawed in his reasoning.

Aside from the decision itself, the important things to remember are that this will have a significant effect nationwide as cities and states work to revitalize downtrodden areas and that the White House will focus on this decision as the President appoints new justices if some choose to retire. If ever there was a case to be made for originalism, Kelo makes it loud and clear.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Comparing Spurs

After the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Finals last night, ESPN's Tim Legler said that the Spurs feat of winning 3 NBA titles in 7 years is more impressive than the Lakers winning 3 in a row with Shaq and Kobe. I don't know if I buy that, but I understand that Legler was trying to say that the longevity of the Spurs "good basketball" is impressive. But, in the years the Spurs failed to win the Finals, look where they finished. After the 1999 championship, the Spurs lost in the opening round in 2000, lost the Western final in 2001, lost the Western semifinal in 2002, won in 2002, lost the Western semifinal in 2003, and then won in 2004. While they made the playoffs every year, they were not among the elite every year.

Now, let's look at my favorite team - the 1980s Lakers. After Pat Riley was hired, the Lakers won the title in 1982, lost in the Finals in 1983, lost in the Finals in 1984, won the title in 1985, lost the Western final in 1986, won the title in 1987, won again in 1988, lost the Finals in 1989, and lost in the Western final in 1990 before Riley left town. That's amazing. Nine division titles. Seven conference titles. Four NBA titles. In nine years. That accomplishment is more impressive than the 2000s Lakers with Shaq and Kobe or the Legler Spurs.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Barclays Round One

Jim Furyk put on a clinic in the opening round of the Barclays Classic at Westchester today, firing -6 65 to forge a three shot lead. Smithfield's Neal Lancaster is +1 along with Jay Haas. David Duval seems to be on the verge of getting his game back. Duval shot a +3 74 (T83), so he is not too far removed from having a chance at playing the weekend. Duval bested one of his playing partners, Rory Sabbatini, who fired a +9 80.

By the way, I am impressed with the new PGATour.com website and the features their scoreboard provides.

Kelo to Come

I hope to have a post up about Kelo v. City of New London by the close of business Friday. It is an interesting case, and the opinion, concurrence, and dissents were well-reasoned.

Pundit back to the Old North State

Congratulations to John Branch who will be returning to North Carolina this fall as an associate for Ogletree Deakins in Raleigh. It will be nice to have him back where he belongs.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Baldwin on Goosen

Chris Baldwin writes that Retief Goosen is finished as a major player after his collapse at Pinehurst. I respectfully disagree.

Goosen is not like a "clay court specialist" - he can perform on venues other than US Open courses. He has two top tens in seven trips to Augusta (finishing 2nd in 2002), including finishing T3 this year (only trailing Woods and DiMarco). He has five top tens at The Open Championship in ten attempts.

Baldwin bolsters his argument by noting that Greg Norman was not dominant after his 1996 collapse at The Masters. Well, bear in mind that Norman was in his 40s already and that he did win two events in 1997. Goosen is only 36 (some five years younger than was Norman) and doesn't have the baggage of Norman's "finding ways to lose." Tim McDonald is right (though I wouldn't disparage Norman by saying "Goosen is twice the man Norman ever was.")

Pound for Pound

This seems funny too.

Hat tip: Bruce MacEwen.

This was funny...

I couldn't help laughing pretty hard at the woman's answer to question #2 in this article (registration required) about upcoming elections in Richmond County, Georgia.

Hat tip: BOTW.

Ecclestone Hecklestone

Bernie Ecclestone, the president of Formula One racing, put his foot in his mouth last week when he said women should not race against men - that "women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances."

When he seemed to be calling Danica Patrick to apologize for the remark, he repeated it AGAIN. As if F1 racing didn't have enough problems (tires at Indy leading to lawsuits from fans) in the US, with a leader like Ecclestone, F1 is doomed to American failure. At least Marco Andretti continued living up to his heritage, winning the race at Indy.

AP Golf Writer on Slow Play

Tim Dahlberg, a writer for the AP, writes that slow play is worse than bad manners on a golf course. He could not be more wrong. Yes, slow play is incredibly aggravating. But, golfers are expected to handle themselves with dignity - it's THE most important lesson a young golfer can learn. That is why they say it is a gentleman's game.

Azinger was dead right when he blasted Rory Sabbatini at the Booz Allen Classic. Azinger's problem was with the way in which Sabbatini handled the slow playing Crane. I imagine Azinger would have approved of Fulton Allem's handling of the slow play by Bob Estes a few years back. Talk to the guy, take care of it between yourselves. Do not act like a spoiled child and embarrass yourself, your playing partner, and your sport.

Dahlberg belittles Azinger when he says, "As inconsiderate as anything I've seen," sniffed Azinger, who as a television commentator now fancies himself as one of the guardians of the game" emphasis mine). Dahlberg is mainly known as a boxing writer. Boxing and golf cannot be more different. Maybe the AP should have a golf writer write the golf-related commentaries. Someone said to me, Dahlberg would likely only be happy if Sabbatini bit off a chunk of Crane's ear. No, he's more of a boxing purist so he might say that there is no place for such actions in boxing. Well, biting and low blows in boxing are akin to Sabbatini's actions in golf. At least Sabbatini still has a fan in Dahlberg, but for me I'll take Crane anyday.

Flag Burning Amendment Vote Today

The US House of Representatives is voting today on a Constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning. This amendment is passed in the House regularly, but the Senate has never managed to get a 2/3 vote in favor. While this is interesting, I have wondered for some time why the House and Senate didn't bring this issue up for a vote after 9/11. The American flag became nearer and dearer to the hearts of Americans after that tragedy, yet I do not recall the amendment being considered in its aftermath. Maybe a vote on such an amendment at that time would have been inappropriate? I support such an amendment, as I agree that today's jurisprudence makes such flag-burning legal; but I doubt it will be passing the Senate anytime soon.

News on Social Security Bill

Republicans in DC are not planning to include any "private accounts" in their Social Security bill, in spite of the efforts President Bush has made to educate the public about them. This shows two things. First, the power of the AARP lobby who has scared elderly Americans into thinking such accounts would be a negative for the older population. Second, the weakness of the GOP majority which has been unable to reach out to younger Americans on an issue which should be a big winner with that constituency.

A Social Security bill without such accounts would be a travesty for the Bush Administration and for Americans like me who are in their 20s and need such a visionary proposal to safeguard our futures. Hopefully, something can be worked out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Goodes Golf

Congratulations to my uncle, Mike Goodes. Mike finished second in the NC Amateur last week. As if that wasn't impressive enough, the 20 year-old kid that won is less than half Mike's age of 49! Below is the news report from www.carolinasgolf.org.


Richardson Captures 45th North Carolina Amateur Championship

Asheville, NC: Jerry Richardson, Jr., a North Carolina State golf team member, shot a final round 72 to capture the 45th North Carolina Amateur Championship. Richardson, a college junior, bettered fellow competitors Mike Goodes and Marc Matalavage in the final group to win in his first appearance in the championship. Although Richardson was tested by the skill of the rest of the field, perhaps their most difficult opponent was Tropical Storm Arlene, which kept The Country Club of Asheville wet throughout the week and caused two rain delays on Friday. Wet conditions, fast greens, and deep bluegrass rough kept the player’s challenged and the scores above par. The tournament came down the final hole and 1989 N.C. Amateur Champion and third round leader Mike Goodes could have extended the tournament to a sudden-death playoff. However, Goodes missed his 12-foot birdie putt and made par, matching Richardson and giving the 20-year-old member of Alamance Country Club in Burlington the victory. "I am just so proud to have won the tournament", said Richardson. "There is nothing more prestigious than winning your own state amateur. This is the first opportunity for me to compete in the tournament. Our NCAA Regional and Finals Tournaments usually fall in the same week and I was happy to find out that I could play."

The tournament was ultimately decided on the 16th hole when Richardson made par while Goodes made bogey. Goodes’ tee shot fell into the second cut of rough and he was forced to punch out from the difficult lie. From there, Goodes and Richardson matched one another shot-for-shot, giving the Richardson the one-stroke victory. Richardson had nothing but respect for his fellow competitor. "Goodes was such a grinder and a great putter. I played a practice round with him and got a lot of pointers just from watching the way he played the game. He’s really good."

Defending champion Paul Simson was in contention for most of the tournament. However bogies at holes 8 and 9, along with a lost ball at hole 15 forced the Raleigh native to a final round 77 and a tie for 13th.

The Country Club of Asheville was designed and built by Donald Ross and captured the essence of Ross courses with subtle greens and deep greenside bunkers. Although the course measures under 6700 yards, par-70, it proved to be challenging to the best amateurs in North Carolina with it subtle greens and deep green-side bunkers.

The tournament is conducted by the Carolinas Golf Association.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Judge Luttig

Tony Mauro has written a good article about Judge J. Michael Luttig. For anyone interested in possible Supreme Court nominees, this is a must-read.

Open Notes

After Thursday's opening round of the US Open, I noted that Davis Love III had played his way out of the event. Well, he almost proved me to be wrong after shooting 70 to make the cut on Friday and then a 70 and 69 over the weekend to finish at +6 and earn a top 10 finish. Well done, Davis.

The Golf Channel's website has some incorrect information posted about Mark Hensby (it's the AP's fault). At the bottom of the first page of this article, the AP writer is talking about Aaron Oberholser nearly qualifying for the 2006 Masters Tournament. In the paragraph, the article mentions that only Hensby will be making his inaugual trip to Augusta in 2006. Well, that's not true - Hensby finished T5 at The Masters in April 2005. The incorrect information is everywhere thanks to the AP folks - here and here for example. At least the Aussies are giving their man credit.

On Saturday morning, I played a round using the Bridgestone B330 golf balls for the first time. They were long and striaght, so that is a major plus. Their ad campaign "Boom It" makes sense. They don't have the best feel however. As someone who usually has a decent short game, I was disappointed with the ball's performance around the greens. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt however until I play another round.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Father First

Corey Pavin is a class act. He flew to California after his round Thursday to watch his son graduate from high school, and then flew back to Pinehurst for his Friday round.

Boyle

Judge Boyle has finally gotten his nomination through the Senate Judiciary Committee. He deserves an "up or down" vote. My concern is with the notes on Senator Dole's website. I am pleased that Seantor Dole gives Doyle her full support. I note that her statement states she is "please" to support him. Spellcheck is a wonderful thing.

Over the coming days, I will comment on Senator Dole and Governor Easley - not as to my opinions on them personally, but on their political maneuvering in the recent weeks.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Lost Love and Hurting Haas

Davis Love III played his way out of contention today, shooting a +7 77. The highest opening round score by an eventual winner, post-World War II, is +6 76 on two occasions. The only other real shock on Thursday was Jay Haas who posted a +12 82. The big five have to feel pretty good about their openers, so the weekend may get interesting. I will be interested to see how Vijay Singh's knee holds up and how Fred Couples's back feels.

Pebble Beach-Pinehurst Connection

People have been saying that Phil Mickelson is a favorite to win this week's US Open at Pinehurst #2 because he came so close in 1999. Here is my reasoning, it's quite simple. In 1999, Payne Stewart won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and went on to win the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst #2. This year, Phil Mickelson won the 2005 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Hmm, that bodes well.

Hanks and Deep Throat

If anyone will do a good job making a new movie on Mr. Felt as Deep Throat, Tom Hanks is the man.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Headcase Point Guard

John Gilchrist is finally leaving the Maryland basketball program, and I imagine few will actually miss him. His comments about his coach and teammates have been hard to believe. He has complained that his teammates didn't work as hard as he did. He has said his coach put more responsibility on him than he could handle.

Well, let me explain somthing for Mr. Gilchrist. Airing your dirty laundry in the Washington Post is not going to win you any fans among NBA franchises. They don't want some guy to join their roster who will air his grievances in the press and disparage the other men on the court. It would be one thing if Gilchrist was a superstar, but he was not.

If Gilchrist thinks Gary Williams was giving him too much responsibility, then he is in for a rude awakening as a pro. When you are the point guard for an ACC basketball team, especially at a school that has a national reputation, you will have a lot more on your shoulders than your teammates would have. If you can't take that pressure, how in the world do you think you can handle the pressure of running an NBA team for 82 games?

Chips and Putts

Sergio Garcia managed to do on Sunday what he failed to do in Charlotte in May, close the deal. Garcia played a brilliant final round at Congressional and won the Booz Allen Classic.

Rory Sabbatini showed a complete lack of class in the way he treated playing partner Ben Crane on the back nine Sunday at Congressional. I applaud Crane for his handling of the situation and the crowd for letting Sabbatini know what they thought of his childish behavior as he walked up the 18th fairway. I agree with Paul Azinger who was blunt in his scathing commentary during the ABC coverage.

Vijay Singh will be replaced as world number one by Tiger Woods after the Booz Allen Classic.

The pairings for this week's U.S. Open have been released. Some good groupings include Woods and DiMarco, Couples, Garcia, and Furyk, and the old guy contingent of Jacobsen, Haas, and Langer.

Annika Sorenstam won the McDonald's LPGA, but the future of the LPGA apears to be bright with Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, and Natalie Gulbis all finishing in the top five.

I played at Meadowlands in Wallburg, NC on Saturday. The course is rounding into good condition now and provides a pretty good test. My one complaint - the greens could be faster. But then again, I like really fast greens.

Sprint Car Racing

The Nextel Cup will be called the SPRINT Cup starting in 2007 due to the merger of the two communications companies. That's all fine and good, but it's funny considering there are already racing series called sprint car racing.

High Point's Place in Guilford Schools

I have to agree with Mr. Keaton, the High Point Central valedictorian, about High Point's treatment by Guilford County Schools. It was bad when I was at High Point Central, and it has only gotten worse since. The people of High Point deserve better from their school board.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Cubs-Sox Game One Update

Apparently the baseballs looked like beachballs to the Cubs in game one as they romped over the Red Sox 14-6. Jeromy Burnitz hit two home runs on the day. Pitcher Greg Maddux hit a home run in the 6th inning, his first since 1999 and fifth of his career. It turns out my feeling about Maddux was dead-on. He was under control from the outset and Arroyo was unable to get into a rhythm for the Sox.

Glendon Rusch will be the Cubs starter in the third game of the series.

Trade Creation an Inherent Good?

After perusing Congressman Howard Coble’s website the other day, I came across an old report on free trade that he had posted. It was a report dated January 3, 2003 by William H. Cooper for the Congressional Research Service.

The report frames the debate over whether free trade areas (FTAs) are good or bad in the light of trade creation versus trade diversion. The report suggests that trade creation is an inherent good and trade diversion an inherent bad. The suggestion regarding trade creation draws me to the computer.

The report defines trade creation as something that “occurs when a member of an FTA replaces domestic production of a good with imports of the good from another member of the FTA, because the formation of the FTA has made it cheaper to import rather than produce domestically.” To economic theorists, this may seem like a positive because cheaper is better. To me, I don’t see it that way.

While in theory it would seem like we would always want goods to be less expensive, there has to be a consideration made for the employment of American citizens. The CRS report does not consider that as a factor in the debate over FTAs except in passing. Even if products are being sold at lower prices, that is of no benefit if people are left unemployed. I believe this reflects the position of Lou Dobbs in his book Exporting America (a good book that you can easily finish in one day).

A very important statement is made in the conclusion on page CRS-15 of the report. It is one to which I will devote more attention in the coming weeks. “As with any trade liberalizing measure, an FTA can have positive effects on some sectors and adverse effects on others. An FTA may create trade for one sector of the U.S. economy but divert trade away from others.”

Thursday Confirmations

On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Richard A. Griffin and confirmed David W. McKeague to be U.S. Circuit Judges for the Sixth Circuit. William H. Pryor, Jr. was confirmed to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit. It is good to see progress being made on judicial confirmations.

Tobacco Trial

The federal tobacco trial has seen a shakeup, or maybe a shakedown. The government has lowered the settlement figure. Instead of seeking the originally requested $130 billion, the government now only wants $10 billion. The tobacco companies' lawyers see this as a further indication of the government's case falling apart.

I have always said that these lawsuits are absurd, and I still feel that way. I am not a smoker, and I don't even like being around smoke. My grandparents died due to smoking-related illnesses. Yet, I don't see the justification for these government lawsuits, or those filed by individuals. Cigarattes are legal products. Cigarette makers hould be able to make, sell, and profit from the product without funding programs that are aimed at reducing sales of their own legally-made product. And, if someone wants to buy cigarettes and smoke, I have no problem with that so long as they accept personal responsibility. If you don't want to get cancer or emphysema, or some other smoking-related disease, don't smoke.

Krauthammer On Thomas

Charles Krauthammer has a nice piece in today's Washington Post about Clarence Thomas. For a newspaper column, this piece does a very good job of describing the positions of Thomas, Scalia, and Breyer when it comes to viewing the Constitution.

He is correct in saying that people would throw untrue accusations out against Thomas if he is nominated to be Chief. Of course, the same would be true of anyone nominated to the position.

Thomas is the truest conservative on the Supreme Court bench today, but most casual observers would believe Scalia holds that distinction. As a result, a Scalia nomination may be a tougher fight for the White House than a Thomas nod. It will be interesting to see what happens over the coming months as DC and the country prepare for the Chief's retirement.

Having attended a Thomas speech in Chapel Hill during law school, I must admit he impresses me a great deal in the way he reasons and defends his positions. Whether you agree with his positions or not, it is hard to fault his reasoning that leads him to those positions.

Transit Hub

In the heart of High Point's downtown, a transit hub is under construction to make furniture market travel more convenient for visitors. The hub is going to be located in the center of the action between the IHFC building and Showplace. I am going to look into whether this means that Commerce Avenue will no longer be a a thru street.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Junior's Snake?

A boa constrictor is on the loose in Johnston County. Mr. Branch, be careful out there. It bothers me that the boa has been missing since May and the public is just now being informed.

Sounds Familiar

I wish I had a transcript of Wednesday's PTI from ESPN. The paragraph written by Doug Frattellone Thursday on the Ronald McDonald makeover sounds eerily similar to Tony Kornheiser's Wednesday comments.

Cubs-Sox Weekend Is Here

The Chicago Cubs will be hosting the Boston Red Sox at Wrigley Field this weekend. This is the first meeting of the Red Sox and Cubs since the 1918 World Series. I was hoping to attend, but circumstances beyond my control have me watching the games on television. The Cubs are 6.5 back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central at 31-27 while the Red Sox are 3 games back in the AL East at 32-27. In Friday's game, Greg Maddux will face Bronson Arroyo. In game two, Carlos Zambrano will face Wade Miller, and in the final game of the series an unspecified Cub should face Tim Wakefield. I'm sure I will have much to say about the series over the weekend. Going in, I am glad to see Maddux starting game one since he is experienced. He should be able to deal with the historical significance of the game yet still play well. We will see if that plays out.

Gulbis Leads

She's having a good year, and her first win may be on the horizon. Natalie Gulbis has a share of the lead at the McDonald's LPGA. A Gulbis win would help the LPGA revitalize. Conidering Sorenstam's domination of that tour and the incorrect image the LPGA once faced, a lovely woman winning an event would be welcome. Think Danica Patrick and how she is helping the IRL or Maria Sharapova's effect on the WTA.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Chambers for June 8

Today's devotional from Oswald Chambers was exceptional. Sometimes a daily devotional just hits home, and today was such a day.

Sharansky

This morning I finished reading Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. First of all, I must admit that I was drawn to this book from hearing President Bush talk about it so much last year. I figured it couldn't hurt to read Sharansky's thoughts on why we should try to spread democracy around the world.

The theory makes sense. I buy into Sharansky's point that you can divide the world into free societies and fear societies. It is also true that while not all free societies value human rights, all fear societies trample human rights.

Sharansky's background as a former Soviet dissident enables him to speak with force and clarity on the issue of democracy's impact on human rights. I agree with him that a free Palestinian society would make the ideal partner for peace for the Israelis. I waver however when he notes that he has voted against initiatives that don't meet his ideal. Then again, he is much closer to the situation than I, so I will deferred to him on issues of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

My interest in his theory centers upon considering how it would work if the U.S. followed this premise with the North Koreans and Chinese. Those are certainly fear societies as defined by Sharansky. But, while I believe it would be best to ahve a democratic North Korea and a democratic China, I do not feel the U.S. is in a position to force that issue on those countries. I believe that a time may come when the U.S. can do so, but that time is not yet upon us. I see those countries much like people once saw the Soviet Union. I would not urge a detente with them, but the negotiations between the West and those two Asian countries have not progressed to the stage at which the U.S. can get too bold.

I would suggest the U.S. keep Sharansky's theory in mind when formulating economic and trade policy with the Chinese, however. The impact of the Chinese imports on the American furniture and textile industries is impossible to deny. The U.S. must push for change in China's internal structure (the value of the yen and the human rights of Chinese citizens) or else consider serious sanctions).

(While I understand that many readers of the Brief are free traders, I take a more realistic approach. While I am not opposed to free trade by any means, I do want fair trade first and foremost. In North Carolina, our people are losing their livelihoods and their ability to place food on the table in very large part due to the China problem.)

American trade policy should be linked to the internal changes of China. Then, and only then, will we have fair trade. And only once we have fair trade, can we seek free trade.

Payne Stewart Trial

The trial involving the family of deceased PGA Tour golfer Payne Stewart and Learjet has come to a conclusion (a few days ahead of schedule). The aircraft manufacturer was cleared by the jury after more than six hours of deliberations. This seems to be the correct legal decision based on the information that I had read. As an aside, I have recently started reading Payne at Pinehurst by Bill Chastain as we lead up to the U.S. Open's return to Pinehurst #2.

Summer Solstice

I had the opportunity to try a new beer the other night. Anderson Valley Brewing Company out of California has a really good summertime beer called Summer Solstice Seasonal Cerveza Crema. It is fantastic on a hot day. Because it has an APV of below 6% it is available in North Carolina.

Felton and EA Sports

Raymond Felton is the face of the NCAA March Madness 06 video game by EA Sports.

Janice Rogers Brown

Justice Janice Rogers Brown was just confirmed to be on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Edit: More from Confirm Them.

Wilbon on Basketball

I agree with Wilbon's sentiments about the Pistons and the Spurs. It will be a great series for true basketball fans. It is no coincidence that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was a former Larry Brown assistant during Brown's stint in San Antonio.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Medicinal No More

Close for Couples

Fred Couples nearly managed to snag The Memorial on Sunday, but he missed the key putts that Bart Bryant managed to make. When Couples stuck his second shot in close on the par five fifteenth, it seemed like he was going to take a two shot lead and be well on his way to a victory. But, he missed the short putt, and even from my den I could feel the momentum shift. When Couples missed his birdie effort at seventeen and Bryant made an improbable par at the closing hole, a Couples win seemed to have slipped away. Couples made a valiant effort, shooting a 69 on Sunday, but it wasn't enough.

Couples has now played in the final pairing and finished second at The Memorial two consecutive years. Hopefully he will be able to finish the deal in 2006. His golf game seems to be where it needs to be, so look for more good results for Fred as the 2005 campaign continues.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Uncle Bill

I will be leaving High Point on Monday for a short trip to Richmond. On Friday, my great-uncle O.W. (Bill) Rhodenhiser, Jr. passed away. My thoughts and prayers are with his sons and daughters.

"'Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.' Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" -John 14:1-6

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Let's Go Freddy!

Fred Couples has a share of the lead at The Memorial Tournament going into the final round. Give 'em hell, Fred! I will have more on Fred tomorrow.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Richmond Rhodenhisers

This week, it was a pleasure visiting briefly with members of my family with whom I have had very little contact over the years. The Rev. James C. Rhodenhiser, Rector at St. Clare’s of Assist Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan was in town for a family funeral. His older brother, Bill Rhodenhiser, Jr. and sister Mary Linda Rhodenhiser, both of Richmond, Virginia also came to High Point.

The prayers of the High Point Rhodenhisers are with these three as their father Dr. O.W. (Bill) Rhodenhiser (my great-uncle) continues his fight in a Richmond hospital. Dr. Rhodenhiser was a long-time Professor of Bible in the Department of Religion at the University of Richmond and Baptist minister.

Thad Williamson's Goodbye

Thad Williamson, a writer on UNC sports for Inside Carolina, has moved on to become a professor at the University of Richmond. Best of luck to him; I for one will miss his commentaries.

Cubs-Padres

The two hottest teams in the National League open a weekend series today when my Chicago Cubs travel to play the San Diego Padres. The Cubs have won six in a row and 8 of 10 in spite of Prior, Wood, and Garciaparra being on the disabled list. Derrek Lee has my vote for NL POY at this point. The Padres lead the NL West and have won 7 of their last 10. The Cubs have managed to get back in the thick of the discussion of possible Wild Card teams. While it is still early, the Cubs would currently hold the final playoff spot (and they should only improve if healthy versions of Prior, Wood, and Garciaparra are added to the lineup).

Noonan's Back on Her Game

Peggy Noonan has written the best column so far concerning the end of the Deep Throat mystery. Well done, Peggy.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Uppers and Downers

There is good news and bad news to report in the "Family" department this morning.

On my mother's side of the family, my cousin Karla Gantt retired yesterday after 20 years with McKinsey & Company in New York City. She is retiring to her hometown of Atlanta and will be stopping at Casa de Rhodenhiser this weekend. Congratulations Karla.

On my father's side of the family, my cousin Caroline Malpass passed away over the weekend. Her obituary follows, as seen in the High Point Enterprise.

HIGH POINT - Mrs. Caroline Patrick Malpass, 66, of 1105 Clyde Place, died May 28, 2005, at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
She was born May 25, 1939, in Appalachia, Va., a daughter of Guy Karl and Mary Alice Rhodenhiser Patrick, and had lived in this area most of her life. She was associated with the real estate business for several years and was a member of St. Mary's Episcopal Church.
Surviving are one son, James Patrick Malpass, and wife Ann of 303 Ridgeland Drive, and two grandchildren, Lauren and Rob Malpass.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday in St. Mary's Episcopal Church by Dr. Glenn E. Busch. Internment will follow in the church columbarium. Visitation will be Tuesday night in Cumby Family Funeral Service, High Point, from 7 until 8:30 p.m.
Memorials may be made to the American Lung Association of North Carolina, P.O. Box 27985, Raleigh NC 27611.
Online condolences may be directed to www.cumbyfuneral.com.