20 January 2009

Inauguration Day Live Blog

RealClearWorld will host a live blog on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, from 9:30 a.m. to noon (EST). Please join us for the historic occasion.

All readers and commenters are welcome.

19 January 2009

Bush's Foreign Policy Successes

Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism. These, among other items, will ultimately be the conflicts and challenges that define the success or failure of the 43rd President's time in office. During a week in which the nation will inaugurate its first African-American president, the celebration will also serve as a reminder of the abundant shortcomings and limitations of President George W. Bush's foreign policy vision.

While much of the President's record undoubtedly deserves harsh scrutiny and analysis, we here at RealClearWorld also acknowledge that events never occur in a vacuum. Decisions made by the executive often have reverberating effects for future presidents, both good and bad. President Bush, much like his predecessors, adopted a position impacted by decisions he didn't affect or formulate. The true policy impacts of the Bush administration may not manifest themselves for years to come. And just as President Carter had the Iranian hostage crisis, and President Kennedy had the Bay of Pigs invasion, President Bush will be judged and deconstructed by a small handful of decisions made.

It's in this spirit that RealClearWorld presents you with George W. Bush's Top 5 Foreign Policy Successes. While rightly criticized for his failings, this list seeks to highlight some of the positive policy choices made by this controversial administration.

No. 5 Colombia

15 January 2009

Q&A with Mike Bianchi

(From RealClearSports)

RCS: Well, Mike, you predicted an Oklahoma victory. What happened?

Mike Bianchi: I thought Florida's defense was good, but I didn't think it was that good. I thought the final score would end up like 40-34 but the Gator defense really rose up there. It was surprising to me. Now you have to wonder why [Florida defensive coordinator] Charlie Strong isn't a head coach somewhere.

RCS: And yet there's just one African-American BCS conference head coach out of 67 schools.

Mike Bianchi: Right, what needs to happen is a Tony Dungy of college football, a black coach who gets a good job and does well at it. Ty Willingham had a chance at Notre Dame, now Randy Shannon's got the chance at Miami. He needs to get it done.

There are so few black coaches who get good opportunities at good schools. A successful one can open a lot of doors. Look at Dungy and the coaching tree that came from him: Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin, Herm Edwards, they all worked for Dungy.

RCS: But we have a black man who soon will be our president. And you think sports had something to do with that. In fact, the day after the election, you wrote a column about it titled "Athletes of Color Paved Way for Obama."

Mike Bianchi: I think a lot went in that helped Barack Obama become president, and sports had an impact. Sports is the first forum that was truly color-blind. Jack Johnson was boxing against white guys in the '20s.

You look at an NBA game today, 70% of the players are black and 90% of the fans are white. But if you can root for a black man on the playing surface, over time, you become more accepting in other facets of life, including the voting booth.

Look around sports today, you see guys like Jordan, Tiger, they made it big in corporate America. These guys cracked barriers, too.

RCS: Speaking of Tiger, perhaps Orlando's most famous resident, when is he coming back?

Mike Bianchi:
Tiger's nobody's local resident. He lets nobody into his cocoon. I have no idea what his plans are, until he releases it on his web site.

But I do think there's a chance that he plays Bay Hill before the Masters. He loves to play there. He loves to play in Arnie's tournament. That'd be a good warmup for him.

RCS: So in the meantime, what will keep you busy in Orlando?

Mike Bianchi: Orlando really is a one-team town, when it comes to pro sports. But at least now there's a team that can compete for the championship.

The Magic have been in the league for 20 years and this is their best team since the Shaq days. They have the third-best record in the league, and people are starting to get excited. I think they're for real. I don't know if they're going to win it all, but they're capable. Dwight Howard is a legitimate superstar, the best pure center in the league. They have a monster in the middle surrounded by gunners.

The thing I love about the Magic is that they're maybe the most entertaining team in the NBA. They're fun to watch.

RCS: Is Orlando a good sports town?

Mike Bianchi: It's a tourist town and the population here is more divergent. Orlando is an NBA city, but really a college football town, sort of like Jacksonville, it's an NFL city, but really also a college football town. The natives here grew up as college football fans. We really didn't have any pro teams.

For the longest time, the Dolphins were the only ones in Florida, so we grew up following the Gators, Seminoles, Hurricanes. That was our pro sports. And I'm certainly one of them.

RCS: You're a native Floridian. You grew up in Florida. You went to school in Florida. What was your path to the Orlando Sentinel?

Mike Bianchi: I went to Florida in the early '80s. Back in those days, you didn't have to have a high SAT score to get into Florida. I was a student journalist at UF. While most people were rooting for the team from their school, I was investigating it. Let's just say [Flordia head coach] Charley Pell had a unique interpretation of the NCAA rules.

I started at the Gainesville Sun part-time, and got a job at Florida Today (Melbourne), back to the Sun as a columnist, went to the Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville) and then here in Orlando, where I've been for seven years.

RCS: You've become very multi-media, doing a radio show five days a week. In addition to your column, why do you feel compelled to host a radio show as well?

Mike Bianchi: I've been doing radio on and off since I was in Jacksonville. I started this new show about 4-5 months ago with Marc Daniels, a longtime radio guy here. I like it. It's sort of a relief, and a fun thing. You don't have to put too much thought into it, you just talk about what comes to your mind. I follow sports anyway, so I give my opinion. And the thing about radio is that people can call in and talk to you. You get more interaction with people than with newspapers and it's more immediate.

RCS: You also write a blog for the Sentinel.

Mike Bianchi: Blogging is just like writing a mini-column. You're basically writing what you're thinking and how you feel at that moment. It's more spontaneous and there's more interaction. People can comment and carry on a dialogue. People like having dialogues with writers and more media access.

Overall, I think it's good. I don't think blogging causes the downfall of journalism.

RCS: Are you concerned about the future of journalism -- specifically, newspaper journalism?

Mike Bianchi: Right now, things are not looking good. Then again, a lot of businesses are suffering, so we're not unique in that sense. I think there's always gonna be a place for people to get local news.

I see newspapers become more localized. For example, we're concentrating on covering the Magic, Central Florida, the Gators and local high school sports. There's national coverage elsewhere, but there's only one place you can go to find all the local stuff.

I think there will always be a place for a newspaper. It may become more and more of an internet product than an actual print product. But I'm one of those guys who like to get to the driveway to pick up my newspaper. It's like getting a little Christmas present on your driveway. That's the way I look at newspapers. I guess I'm old-fashioned.

RCS: We can't let you get away without talking about Tim Tebow. He's coming back to college. Smart move?

Mike Bianchi: No question. I would rarely say a college player should come back if he's ready for the NFL, but he's different. He's probably as big a superstar as he's ever gonna be. He's the face Florida football and a national celebrity. Why not come back for one more year? And he has a chance to become the greatest player in college football history if he wins another national championship, another Heisman.

RCS: When he does go though, is he going to play quarterback in the NFL?

Mike Bianchi: I heard Mel Kiper the other day talking about how Tebow would be an H-back, a Frank Wycheck-type. Maybe that's where he'll end up. But if guys like Tavaris Jackson can start on a playoff team, don't you think Tim Tebow should at least get a chance? Bruce Gradkowski started the last game of the season for Cleveland. I'm sorry, but Tebow is better than him. If Bruce Gradkowski is an NFL quarterback, then there's got to be a place for Tim Tebow.

12 January 2009

Top International News Sites

(From RealClearWorld)

When RealClearWorld launched during last year's Beijing Summer Olympics, we made it our mission to provide readers with the best world opinion on the web - a one-stop shop for readers seeking quality commentary and analysis on world politics, international relations and foreign affairs.

This daily process requires a lot of reading and a lot of vetting. In our first few months, we’ve had the pleasure of reading and discovering some great foreign dailies, weeklies and newsmagazines. While we’ve certainly relied on tried and true news standards – such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal – we’ve also had the chance to introduce our readers to some world news outlets that may otherwise fall under their regular news radar. We seek to find a good balance of these publications, so as to provide you with the staples of foreign policy news, as well as the up-and-coming analysts and thinkers you need to be reading in 2009.

Obviously, taste and opinion can be subjective. We suspect that the readership of the Daily Telegraph’s opinion page may differ with those whom enjoy the editorial content offered by The Independent. Readers who look to our pages to find Rami Khouri’s weekly contributions may not care if they feature the work of Amir Taheri. And so on.

With that fine balance in mind, here are RealClearWorld’s editorial picks for the best international news sites of 2008. These news outlets offered us a weekly – if not daily – stream of strong content, and they also provided our readers with a fresh and nuanced perspective on global affairs.

We appreciate that our readers may have their own personal favorites to add to the conversation, so please, feel free to email us with your own favorites from 2008. We’ll be sure to share some of them on the site in the coming days and weeks.

No. 5 Al Jazeera

05 January 2009

Black Coaches - Distinct, Nearly Extinct

(From RealClearSports)

When DeWayne Walker was named to head the New Mexico State football program on New Year's Eve, he became a member of a very distinct group - so distinct that it's almost extinct.

Walker became just the seventh African-American to head a Division I-A (or Bowl Subdivision) football program, out of 120. And of the seven, only one - Miami's Randy Shannon - coaches in one of the so-called BCS conferences. Do the math - six percent of DI-A coaches are black, and barely one percent (1 out of 67) in the BCS conferences plus Notre Dame.

In a sport where more than 50 percent of the athletes are minorities, this is downright atrocious.

Yet beyond the usual indignation of the hand-wringing variety, it barely raised eyebrows. Rivals.com published its top 10 college football stories of 2008 – this didn't make the list.

While the NFL has made a concerted effort to hire more minority coaches through the "Rooney Rule" - to good effect, college football has all but yawned about this glaring inequity. After the 2008 season, there have been 20 coaching changes, and just four of these head jobs went to black candidates.

It's ironic that universities, perhaps the most liberal and progressive institutions in America, are so behind the times when it comes to hiring for their most glamorous jobs. The head football coach often is the most well-known member of the university community, the de facto face of the university. While colleges aren't afraid to raid each other - or even the business world - for some of the best and brightest minority faculty members, they are reticent to take chances with the head ball coach.

This speaks volumes to just who controls the purse strings at big-time college football programs. The powers-that-be inside the ivory towers ultimately defers to the well-heeled boosters with millions to dispense with. College presidents talk a good game, but at the end, money speaks loudest.

So if you think the BCS gives college football a bad name, you should check with the BCA first.

04 January 2009

Top Five Questions for 2009

(From RealClearWorld)

The year 2008 will be remembered as one of the most turbulent of our times. Yet the year started rather benignly, with few warning signs of what was in store in the final five months.

But when August came around, things got hot all over the world. As the Beijing Olympics began under tight security with world leaders in attendance, a regional conflict broke out in the Caucasus between Russia and Georgia. That was followed by the financial crisis that touched every corner of the globe, including faraway places like Iceland. As governments scrambled to bail out their respective economies, terrorists struck in Mumbai, killing hundreds of civilians and heightening tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

The U.S. election brought a watershed moment as Barack Obama became the first black president in the nation's history, yet the world he will inherit continues to be besiged by crises. Africa seems to be spinning out of control, with piracy on the Horn, rigged election in Zimbabwe, civil war in the Congo and finally, a military coup in Guinea. Not to be outdone, the Middle East in the waning days of 2008 regained its well-earned reputation as the powder keg of the world, with a new conflict erupting in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas.

We can't predict the future, but we can at least see what problems lie ahead for the coming year. How might these questions be addressed will determine where the world would be headed in the year of 2009.

No. 5 Will the Collapse Cool Climate Change Fever?