Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sosa's 600th HR + Fourth Branch + Vigil for US Scholars in Iran

Karma. Who knows if Sammy Sosa (at right, (AP Photo/Tim Sharp) or the ownership of the Chicago Cubs were thinking about it yesterday, but if not, they ought to. Sosa, who was unceremoniously dumped by the Cubs back in 2004 after a decade of stardom, returned as a Texas Ranger, his original club, and hit his 600th home run, becoming only the fifth person ever to do so. He joins an elite group that includes Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays, and did so faster than all the others except Ruth. He is the first Latino ballplayer and first Dominican to reach this milestone. Congratulations, Sammy Sosa!

When Sosa left the Cubs, I think it's fair to say that many Cubs fans celebrated. The Cubs' clubhouse atmosphere was apparently so toxic that an anonymous player gleefully smashed Sosa's boombox after he'd left it in the locker room, and no one was willing to finger the culprit. Sosa headed to Baltimore, had a terrible season, then sat out all of 2006. But he's returned, at age 38, his bat offering no more than a shadow of its former danger, but still not to be trifled with. For the last few years he's battled accusations of steroid use, even though he has never tested positive and testified under oath to Congress that he was clean. Nevertheless, much of the acclaim he garnered during his remarkable six-year run, from 1998 to 2003, when he hit in successive years 66 (nearly catching the Cardinals' now utterly disgraced Mark McGwire, who hit 70), 63, 50, 64, 49, and 40 home runs, has almost completely vanished. He is dragging himself, it seems, to the Hall of Fame.

Since his departure, however, the Cubs have climbed to no better than third place; last year they finished in 6th place, and are no closer to a league championship, let alone a World Series, than during most of the time Sosa was there. There was the foxfire-like 2003 season, when the infamous Bartman mishap during the playoffs occurred, sending them home early and the Florida Marlins, a franchise that began only in 1993, to its second Series win. In the interim, they had to witness the Chicago White Sox win a World Series in 2005, and their rival Cardinals win one last October. Things got so bad earlier this year that two of the Cubs players, their best pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, and catcher Michael Barrett, got into an altercation in the dugout, and then threw down again in the locker room. When Zambrano was done with him, Barrett needed stitches. Now Barrett has been shipped off to San Diego for cash

In fact, the Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908; perhaps next year their luck will turn, and maybe they ought to bring back Sosa to ensure it.


Although he's claimed Executive Privilege as a member of the Executive Branch (i.e., the Vice President being an Executive Official), he's now telling an agency within the National Archives that he's not part of the Executive Branch. Because, remember, as the President of the Senate, he has legislative powers (to preside, break ties), and is basic unbound by the Constitutional separation of powers, constituting in his utter lawlessness a fourth branch of government.

Does any member of Congress seriously now not see it as her and his duty to impeach this man? Because he's got to be ushered out first, or he'll be the one replacing the increasingly, widely acknowledged Worst President Ever.

But then, the people have lost confidence in Congress's ability to do its job as well....


I admit to being very remiss in not posting something about the horrible situation of American scholars Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbaksh, who have been jailed without cause in Iran; Esfandiari is being held in the notorious Evin Prison. Amnesty International issued an advisory, and the Guardian Online featured an article on the situation. '

(From Michigan professor Juan Cole's site, here's a letter by my former professor, Zachary Lockman, now at NYU and president of the Middle East Studies Association, protesting the imprisonment of Esfandiari to the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.)

According to Amnesty International, there will be a vigil for Esfandiari and Tajbaksh, as well as Parnaz Azima, a journalist, and Ali Shakeri, an activist, who've been imprisoned and charged with crimes by the Iranian government.

Amnesty International

In May the government of Iran arrested four Iranian-Americans: prominent U.S. scholars Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, journalist Parnaz Azima and activist Ali Shakeri. Esfandiari, Tajbakhsh and Shakeri remain in detention without being able to see family, lawyers, or the ICRC. All four face serious charges stemming from their efforts to promote an Iranian-American dialogue and scholarly work and could be sentenced to long prison terms.



WHERE: Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at 1st Avenue and 47nd Street across from the United Nations Plaza

WHEN: Wednesday June 27, 12 noon to 1 pm

Feel free to bring signs calling for freedom for the detained Iranian-Americans. This is to be a non-political and non-partisan action advocating human rights

For more information contact Sharon McCarter 202-691-4016 or Amnesty International USA 202-675-8755

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