Friday, September 30, 2005

Post-Friday play-off scenarios

Well, we're down to 2 days, 4 games, to determine 2 play-off spots from among 3 teams. With Boston's 5-3 win over New York and Cleveland's 3-2 loss to Chicago, this is where we stand:



Standings
WL

Boston9466

New York9466

Cleveland9367


9 possible combinations left:


Play-off Scenarios
Red SoxIndiansResult

2-02-0Boston wins East, Cleveland wins WC

1-1Boston wins East, Cleveland/NY play 1-game play-off for WC

0-2Boston wins East, NY wins WC

1-12-0Boston/NY play-off for the East, Cleveland plays loser (NY@CLE or CLE@BOS) for WC

1-1, 0-2NY wins East, Boston wins WC

0-22-0New York wins East, Cleveland wins WC

1-1New York wins East, Boston/Cleveland play 1-game play-off for WC

0-2New York wins East, Boston wins WC



The Indians are in the worst shape. They need to go 2-0 or hope that the remaining 2 games of the Red Sox/Yankee series are swept to still be playing next week. The Red Sox and Yankees need only split to guarantee that they, at the least, get to a play-in game or two.

Boston's win tonight also guarantees that Sunday's game at Fenway is a meaningful game - no one can clinch the east tomorrow. So the AL East will come down to the final day (and maybe beyond...)

OOPsdate:
Where that said "no one can clinch the east tomorrow" was wrong. What it should have said was "neither team can guarantee finishing with a better record tomorrow."

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

And they live to fight another day...

A 2-run homer in the 6th from Manny, a solo shot to tie it in the 8th for Ortiz, and then Ortiz singles in Damon in the 9th for the Red Sox win. Cleveland and New York have already won, and Chicago's wrapped up the central, so this is where we stand, with 3 games left.

Indians - 3 home games against Chicago, who'll be resting people.

Red Sox and Yankees - 3 games in Boston.

There are 16 possible results from the remaining 6 relevant games. Here are the different play-in/play-off scenarios:



Play-off Scenarios
Red SoxIndiansResult

3-03-0, 2-1Boston wins East, Cleveland wins WC

1-2Boston wins East, Cleveland/NY play 1-game play-off for WC

0-3Boston wins East, New York wins WC

2-13-0Cleveland wins WC, Boston/NY play 1-game play-off for East

2-1Boston/NY play-off for the East, Cleveland plays loser for WC

1-2, 0-3New York wins East, Boston wins WC

1-23-0, 2-1New York wins East, Cleveland wins WC

1-2New York wins East, Boston/Cleveland play 1-game play-off for WC

0-3New York wins East, Boston wins WC

0-33-0, 2-1, 1-2New York wins East, Cleveland wins WC

0-3New York wins East, Boston/Cleveland play 1-game play-off for WC


Obviously, going 3-0 is what they're looking for. 2-1 guarantees that they at least get a play-in game on Monday, either at NY for the East, or at Fenway against the Indians for the Wild Card. 1-2 or 0-3, and they need lots of help (that they're unlikely to get) from the White Sox, who are setting up their pitching and resting players for next week. Of course, 1-2 or 0-3 means that they don't deserve to go to the post-season anyway...

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I'll never understand this...

I'm as big a Red Sox fan as there is. No surprise there, right? And I hate the Yankees. Hate, loathe, despise everything about them. The 2004 ALCS was the greatest sports moment of my lifetime.

That said, this is pathetic...

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Hit any key...

The Washington Times had an interesting nugget from the post-hurricane relief effort:
A high-ranking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, assigned to the Gulf Coast to assist with recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, says he and his fellow agents were forced to remove their uniforms with "ICE" branded on the back (similar to "FBI" and "POLICE") because storm victims were chasing them down in hopes of receiving bags of ice.

I'm reminded of why so many software programs tell users to hit "ENTER" or the space bar in order to continue.

In the early days of consumer software, when users would be installing and human interaction was required, the program would frequently use an expression such as "hit any key to continue." As the program was just looking to make sure that there was a user present, any key on the keyboard would allow the installation to continue. This practice was very shortly discontinued, as user-support call centers were forced to waste time with calls from users who couldn't find the "ANY" key on their keyboards...


Yes, it sounds like urban legend. But it's not. In fact, HP/Compaq still has it as a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) on their website...

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Life is unfair...

4 American League teams are going to make the play-offs. Right now, only one team has clinched a play-off berth - the team with the 5th best record in the league...

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No agenda in the press, right?

One of the things that the mainstream press keeps harping on with the blogosphere is that there's no filter, no fact-checking. Well, Wizbang's got the story of a picture in the SF Chronicle that could have used some of that "professional journalism" that the press is so proud of...

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"All-gay" Globe, at it again

As the Goodridge case worked its way through the court system over the past several years, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts became ground zero in the struggle over "gay marriage." And the Boston Globe, the largest newspaper in New England, certainly chose sides. Referred to by some as the "all-gay, all the time" Boston Globe, the Globe has consistently found ways to put stories on the front page that focus on "gay" issues, whether they're legitimate front-page news or not (most often, not). Back in August, for example, the Globe ran a front-page story on the fact that the pair of swans in Boston's famed Public Garden were both males. ("Some same-sex marriage advocates hoped the swans' celebrity would not be diminished by the revelation of their same-sex status.")

Well, they're at it again. The archdiocese of Boston has fired a priest in Newton for "financial improprieties," but the Globe says it was for supporting same-sex marriage, and put it on the front page.
In an indication that a Newton pastor's position on gay rights may have played a role in his ouster, a conservative website has posted a letter from a top archdiocesan official saying that Roman Catholic Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley had been "very disturbed" by an accusation that the pastor had invited parishioners to consider marching in a gay-rights parade in Boston last spring.

O'Malley's spokesman said last night he could not authenticate the letter...but he insisted that the archbishop sought the resignation of the Rev. Walter H. Cuenin from his post as pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton solely because of financial improprieties, and not because of church politics.

Whatever the truth of the story, whatever happened with the priest in Newton, there's no question that the "gay marriage" angle, whether real or not, gets it onto the front page of the Globe...

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday Pythagorean Report



AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/26/2005
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Cleveland4.96(4)4.01(2)0.596(1)93639264-1

Oakland4.81(5)4.08(4)0.575(2)89668570-4

Anaheim4.67(8)3.99(1)0.571(3)896689660

Chicago4.61(9)4.05(3)0.558(4)876894617

New York5.45(2)4.81(8)0.557(5)866991645

Boston5.65(1)4.99(11)0.556(6)866991645

Toronto4.73(6)4.39(6)0.534(7)83727679-7

Minnesota4.24(14)4.1(5)0.515(8)80757877-2

Texas5.39(3)5.31(12)0.507(9)79777779-2

Seattle4.36(12)4.65(7)0.471(10)73836789-6

Detroit4.55(10)4.86(9)0.469(11)73826986-4

Baltimore4.43(11)4.9(10)0.455(12)708570850

Tampa Bay4.7(7)5.83(14)0.403(13)639365912

Kansas City4.34(13)5.79(13)0.371(14)579853102-4




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Chicago9864

Cleveland9666

New York9567

Boston9567

Anaheim9369




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Chicago9864

Cleveland9666

New York9567

Boston9567

Anaheim9369




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Boston7.5(2)4.33(5)0.732(1)42420

Cleveland7.71(1)4.71(7)0.711(2)52520

New York5.86(3)4.14(3)0.653(3)52611

Anaheim5.5(4)4.33(5)0.607(4)42511

Detroit4.14(10)3.86(1)0.533(5)4325-2

Texas4.17(9)4.17(4)0.5(6)3324-1

Chicago4(11)4(2)0.5(6)43430

Kansas City5.5(4)5.75(12)0.48(8)44531

Toronto4.43(8)5.14(9)0.432(9)34340

Oakland4.83(7)5.67(11)0.428(10)33330

Tampa Bay5.5(4)7.33(14)0.371(11)24331

Minnesota3.71(13)5(8)0.367(12)3425-1

Seattle3.29(14)5.14(9)0.306(13)25341

Baltimore3.86(12)6.14(13)0.299(14)2507-2



So it's come to this. The Red Sox and Yankees are in a flat-footed tie, with 7 games left. The last 3 are head-to-head in Boston. What we have this week is essentially an extra play-off round - whoever wins this 7 game set wins the east.

Advantage: Red Sox - all 7 of their games are at home, while the Yankees are on the road for all 7 of theirs.

Advantage: Yankees - the next 4 nights, they're in Baltimore, where the Orioles have essentially folded their tents. The Red Sox are at home, but playing a much better team that is at least trying to keep their dignity intact.

Advantage: Red Sox - the last 3 are in Boston.

If there are opposing sweeps, the series in Boston next weekend would be meaningless, but that's very unlikely. More likely is the teams being tied or within 1 game of each other Friday night.

It's going to be very difficult for the 2nd place team in the east to make it in. Both teams are tied in the loss column with the Indians right now, but the 2nd place team HAS to lose 2 more - at least. If the Indians go 4-2 on the week, they're guaranteed at least a tie with the East loser. 5-1 clinches a post-season berth for Cleveland. As of today, it looks like the White Sox, Indians, Angels and one of the Red Sox or Yankees, make the play-offs in the AL...

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

A very disturbing trend...

I was, frankly, horrified to read a piece in the London Telegraph today (Women bypass sex in favour of 'instant pregnancies'). The gist of the story is that many women still in child-bearing age are skipping even the attempt to get pregnant "naturally" in favor of in-vitro fertilization, apparently on the belief that it offers them the best chance at an "instant" pregnancy.

It is disturbing on many levels, but one comment just leaped out as begging a question:
Mr Dooley practises at Westover House clinic and the Lister Hospital, both in south-west London, and a clinic in Poundbury, Dorset. He said: "I have people who come to me for IVF who haven't got time for sex. Those people don't care about looking for a lifestyle or maximising their natural potential." (emphasis added)

Let's get real here for just a second - what on earth makes someone who hasn't "got time for sex" think that she has time to be a mother?

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Insulting my senior Senator

Circulating via e-mail:

A marine squad was marching north of Basra when they came upon an insurgent badly injured and unconscious. Nearby, on the opposite side of the road, was an American Marine in a similar, but less serious state. The Marine was conscious and alert. As first aid was given to both men, the Marine was asked what had happened. The Marine reported, "I was heavily armed and moving north along the highway and coming south was a heavily armed insurgent. Seeing each other we both took cover. I yelled to him that Saddam Hussein was a miserable low-life scumbag, and he yelled back that Teddy Kennedy is a rich, good-for-nothing fat drunk."

"We were standing there shaking hands when a truck hit us."


I approve...

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Unbelievable...

Every once in a while, you've got to be just shocked by what seemingly intelligent, ostensibly rational, human beings are capable of believing…
Stevens has been in newspapers across the country where he was quoted in an Associated Press story as saying the Yakuza Mafia used a Russian-made electromagnetic generator to cause Hurricane Katrina in a bid to avenge the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima.

So, it must be George W. Bush's fault that we didn't use OUR electromagnetic generator to stop Hurricane Katrina...

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

AP template - Iraq is Vietnam, Bush is LBJ, here are the reasons why...

It has often been noted, throughout history, that one of the problems of unsuccessful leaders is that they spend time fighting the last war, instead of the next one. The US media has been as guilty of that as any group ever in their coverage of Iraq, being determined since day 1 to fit it into the Vietnam template of unnecessary and unpopular war, led by incompetent dishonest leaders, resulting in a quagmire. Every piece of news gets run through that Vietnam filter (which is why we see quotes from the people doing the work over there saying that "if I got my news from the newspapers also I'd be pretty depressed as well!")

Well, the Associated Press is at it again (Bush's Words on Iraq Echo LBJ in 1967). And they've dropped any pretense to subtlety. Apparently concerned that all of the Vietnam talk, all of the quagmire speak for the last three years hasn't made it clear for the people to understand, the AP has decided that it's time to run a news story explaining to everyone why Iraq is Vietnam, and why Bush is LBJ, a President who became so unpopular that he failed to even run for re-election.

Almost two months ago, the President made a fairly generic comment, of a sort that he's made repeatedly over the past 3 years, that "we will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq." Last night, someone at the AP finally discovered that, hey! Lyndon Johnson said something like that in 1967!
Bush officials bristle at the suggestion the war in Iraq might look anything like Vietnam. Yet just as today's anti-war protests recall memories of yesteryear, President Bush's own words echo those of President Johnson in 1967, a pivotal year for the U.S. in Vietnam.

"America is committed to the defense of South Vietnam until an honorable peace can be negotiated," Johnson told the Tennessee Legislature on March 15, 1967. Despite the obstacles to victory, the president said, "We shall stay the course."

And, for those in the population who didn't bother to read the story, they've got "Bush" and "LBJ" in the headline, and they've included "a Nov. 17, 1967 black-and-white file photo of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson."

The story does include some evidence that maybe Iraq and Vietnam aren't exactly the same, but mostly that comes in the form of quotes from administration sources. And the phraseology used ("administration officials bristle at the suggestion..." and "administration officials have blanched at comparisons with Iraq...") carries with it the implication that maybe they're engaged in denying something that's actually true.
South Vietnam, politically unstable because of internal violence and corruption, stumbled toward elections to adopt a constitution and to select officials — not unlike the process Iraq is undergoing.

South Vietnam, unlike Iraq, was facing an external foe, an enemy trying to overrun it. It was very unlike the process that Iraq is undergoing. Far more dissimilar than similar.

And the piece ends with what seems a transparent admission of what they (the Democrats and the media) are trying to accomplish.
Bush remains optimistic about the outcome of the war though just four out of 10 of those polled favor his handling of it.

A loss of public confidence overwhelmed Johnson. By March 1968, he had decided someone else needed to see the war to its conclusion — and startled the nation by announcing he would not seek another term.

They still don't seem to realize that George W. Bush isn't running again...

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

AP misrepresenting dishonest poll results

The AP is constructing bad news for the President (Katrina Adds to Public Doubts About Bush). Again. And to do it, they're using a skewed sample poll, and then misrepresenting what it says.

The latest AP-Ipsos poll is what they're reporting on. Once again, they've got a sample of adults, and it is signficantly skewed, with 49 percent Democrats and 41 percent Republicans. And they use that skewed sample as a hammer to hit the President, even if it isn't justified by the actual results.
  • An AP-Ipsos poll shows a sharp increase since the storm in the percentage of people who are most worried about the economy.

    Of course it does. Let's stop, for just a moment, and consider what was happening in the media in this country before Katrina hit. Every day, in every outlet, it was all Iraq, all the time. As soon as the storm went through, and the refineries and supply lines went down, the story changed to Katrina and the rising gas prices, and the devastating economic impact. The fact that there's been a sharp increase in people being most concerned about the economy says nothing about George W. Bush.


  • Fewer than half approve of Bush's handling of Katrina,

    It is true that the skewed sample reports overall slight disapproval of Bush's handling of Katrina. It is also true that the media coverage has been overwhelmingly negative.

    and almost two-thirds question the amount of money spent by the administration on the Iraq war.

    And this is where they just get dishonest. They've tied that response in to a statement about the President, but when they asked the question the poll, they talked about Congress.

    "As you may know, the U.S. Congress has appropriated 260 billion dollars to fight the war and help rebuild Iraq. What best describes how you feel about federal spending on the rebuilding of Iraq?"
    • We are spending too much
      We are spending the right amount
      We should spend more


    And they mentioned the total appropriation for the war and the rebuilding, then asked about spending on the rebuilding. The default position for any sentient being when asked about ANY government spending is going to be "we are spending too much." It's a question that is absolutely designed to get a negative response, which it did, and then is misrepresented in the article!


  • Given several choices to raise government money for Katrina recovery, people most often chose reduced spending on Iraq — named by 42 percent. About three in 10, 29 percent, wanted to delay or cancel Republican tax cuts. That's seven in 10 backing options that Bush doesn't even have on the table.

    Once again, they've constructed a question to get a specific answer. Let's look at the question and the options.

    If you had to choose, which one of the following options do you think is the best way for the government to pay for the relief effort for Hurricane Katrina?
    • Cut spending on Iraq

    • Delay or cancel additional tax cuts

    • Add to the federal debt and gradually pay it back

    • Cut spending for other domestic programs like education, welfare, transportation, and health care

    Look at that list. "Add to the Federal Debt?" Anyone think that's a good idea? "Cut ... education, transportation, health care?" It is specifically constructed, phrased, and limited to get exactly the response that they got.

    Budget cuts could be risky — only one in 10 favored that approach to finding money for storm recovery, the poll found.


    If they'd actually asked about "budget cuts," there's an excellent chance that it would have been much higher than 10%. But they didn't - they asked about cutting "spending on ... education...and health care." It's not the same question, and it's not going to get the same response. If there had been an option to the effect of "cutting wasteful spending in the federal budget," is it debatable that it would have gotten a higher response?

And there's more. They've got quotes from Democrats and Republicans criticizing the President. They've got an analyst who believe that there's a significant part of the Republican base that "want[s] him to select a woman or minority [to replace Sandra Day O'Connor] and perhaps avoid a bitter fight by selecting a relative moderate."

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Did Clinton's comments help Hillary?

Bill Clinton was on ABC's This Week program with George Stephanopoulos last Sunday. In political terms, Chris Lynch thinks he did himself (and Hillary) more harm than good. Chris' analysis, which I think is right on - as far as it goes - is that the blogosphere analysis and criticism of Clinton will be viewed by far more people than actually saw him make the comments in the first place.
Unlike This Week (which for all intents and purposes exists just for those precious few moments of Sunday morning airtime) - there will be more people reading what the bloggers wrote about Clinton tomorrow and the next day. In the future when people Google "Clinton This Week appearence" - they won't get George Stephanopolous' show - they'll get the blogs that commented on Clinton's comments.

When all's said and done - I'd bet that the number of people who learned of Clinton's comments with the added context of the blogger analysis will far outweigh the original audience of the original This Week show.

I agree with that. I just think that he's missing a step.

As much as those of us who live online try to ignore them, and as much as circulations are declining everywhere, the major media outlets still exist. While virtually no one saw Clinton make his comments on Sunday morning, his comments got widespread play in the press. CNN mentioned parts of them on Monday, and the New York Times made sure that Clinton's comments got wide circulation (with no analysis whatsoever of the truth or untruth of them). And, of course, when the New York Times carries the comments, the wire services pick up on them, and they run not just in the times, but in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Kansas City Star and the Chicago Tribune and the International Herald Tribune and the Sydney Morning Herald and the People's Daily Online. In other words, despite the fact that virtually no one saw him say it, a vast number know what he said, heard it reported as news, as fact. A number that is, I suspect, much larger than the number who'll ever "Google 'Clinton This Week appearance'" or read the Instapundit or listen to Rush Limbaugh talk about it.

And I further suspect that the majority of people who do get their news and analysis from the blogosphere fall in to two groups of people - those who already understand that Clinton's a self-aggrandizing liar and wouldn't vote for Hillary at gunpoint, or those who think that Bush is a smirking Hitlerian fascist chimp and Hillary's too conservative. Nothing that Bill said will move either group. I'm just skeptical that, even in the current old media/new media climate, more persuadable potential voters see the disparaging analysis of the comments than actually saw or heard the comments themselves. I'm skeptical that "Clinton did himself (and his wife) more harm than good with his comments," though I doubt he did her much good, either.

The really interesting dynamic that's going on here is the focus on Bush. To the extent that Clinton's comments could have any effect on anyone, they're negative for President Bush. But the Democrats do not yet seem to have realized what a waste of time that is. They're spending all of their time and effort running Bush down, and he's not running for anything. I just don't see any positive benefit that accrues to the Democrats for personalizing their vitriol against George W. Bush the way that they have. He won't be the candidate that they're running against in the next national election...

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Monday Pythagorean Report



AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/19/2005
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Cleveland4.83(4)3.98(1)0.588(1)88618762-1

Oakland4.81(5)4.01(3)0.582(2)87628267-5

Anaheim4.64(8)3.98(1)0.57(3)85648465-1

Chicago4.64(9)4.05(4)0.561(4)836590587

New York5.43(3)4.84(8)0.552(5)826685633

Boston5.58(1)5.02(11)0.548(6)826787625

Toronto4.74(6)4.35(6)0.539(7)80687375-7

Minnesota4.26(14)4.06(5)0.522(8)77717672-1

Texas5.44(2)5.35(12)0.507(9)76747575-1

Seattle4.41(12)4.62(7)0.478(10)71786485-7

Detroit4.57(10)4.91(10)0.467(11)69796781-2

Baltimore4.46(11)4.84(8)0.463(12)688070782

Tampa Bay4.67(7)5.77(13)0.404(13)618962881

Kansas City4.27(13)5.79(14)0.364(14)54934899-6




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Chicago9963

Cleveland9567

Boston9567

New York9369

Anaheim9171




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Chicago9864

Cleveland9567

Boston9468

New York9369

Anaheim9171




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Cleveland5(5)2.17(2)0.822(1)51510

New York8.17(1)4.83(7)0.723(2)42511

Minnesota3.33(14)2(1)0.718(3)4233-1

Oakland4.14(9)3(3)0.644(4)5234-2

Texas5.14(4)4.57(5)0.554(5)43521

Seattle5.43(3)5(9)0.538(6)4334-1

Toronto5.5(2)5.17(10)0.529(7)3324-1

Baltimore3.67(12)4.17(4)0.442(8)33330

Chicago4(10)4.67(6)0.43(9)33330

Anaheim4.57(6)5.43(11)0.422(10)34340

Detroit3.71(11)4.86(8)0.38(11)3425-1

Kansas City4.33(7)6.5(13)0.323(12)24240

Tampa Bay4.33(7)6.67(14)0.313(13)24240

Boston3.43(13)5.43(11)0.301(14)25432





Major League Baseball and the players union have a rule that no team can be required to play more than 19 consecutive days without the players' permission. When the Red Sox/White Sox rainout was re-scheduled for September 5, it required the acquiescence of the Red Sox players, because it gave them a stretch of 30 days without an off-day. Their last off-day was August 22, the next one is September 22. I mention this, because it may be relevant to what's happened the last two weeks. In the two weeks leading up to the scheduled September 5 off-day, the Red Sox averaged over 6 1/2 runs per game - in the two weeks since they didn't get their day off, they've averaged 3 1/2.

Whether there's any causation there or not, they need to come out of it. Frankly, given the way they've hit the last two weeks, they're lucky to still be in first. 4-3 on the week wasn't good enough, not with the Yankees and Indians playing the way they are. They've still got a 1-game lead on NY for the East in the loss column, but their loss column lead over Cleveland is gone, and so is their margin for error. The last trip of the season starts tonight, 3 in TB, followed by 3 in Baltimore, with a day off (Finally!) between the two series. 4-2 is the minimum acceptable trip, and it would be disappointing.

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Credit where credit is due.

One of the things that can be infuriating to a sane person watching the political process in this country is the way that partisans - of both sides - refuse to deal with any actions from the other party in a rational manner, refuse to evaluate the actions for what they are. There was virtually nothing that President Clinton could have done that would have gotten praise from Republicans, and there's nothing at all that George W. Bush can do that won't get criticized in the sharpest possible terms by the left. Even his physical, for crying out loud, was an excuse for a ridiculously negative press release from the DNC.

Well, giving credit where it's due, there's a refreshing piece from former Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile in today's Washington Post. She's risking excommunication from the left, but obviously feels strongly about what she's got to say.
On Thursday night President Bush spoke to the nation from my city. I am not a Republican. I did not vote for George W. Bush -- in fact, I worked pretty hard against him in 2000 and 2004. But on Thursday night, after watching him speak from the heart, I could not have been prouder of the president and the plan he outlined to empower those who lost everything and to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

Bush called on every American to stand up and support the rebuilding of the region. He told us that New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast would rise from the ruins stronger than before. He enunciated something that we all need to remember: This is America. We are not immune to tragedy here, but we are strong because of our industriousness, our ingenuity and, most important, because of our compassion for one another. We are a nation of rebuilders and a nation of givers. We do not give up in the face of tragedy, we stand up, and we reach out to help those who cannot stand up on their own.

Good for her.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Happy Birthday Bacall

Chris Lynch points out that today is Lauren Bacall's 81st birthday. One of my favorite movies of all time featured Bacall with husband Humphrey Bogart, and some of the best lines in movie history, as well as inspiring a hit song for Jimmy Buffett - Key Largo. There are great performances from Bogart and Edward G. Robinson, and a very strong supporting cast, including Lionel Barrymore, Bacall and Claire Trevor.

The most memorable scene in the film takes place as the small group is huddled in the Largo hotel, waiting out a hurricane. There's some fantastic dialogue as the wind is whipping around.

James Temple: "Well, the worst storm we ever had was back in '35. Wind whipped a big wave and sent it busting right over Matecumbe Key. 800 people were washed out to sea."
Johnny Rocco: "How far was that from here?"
James Temple: "Oh, a few miles."


Johnny Rocco: "I don't believe it - 800 guys getting washed out to sea. You're a liar! Nobody'd live here after a thing like that happened! Would they, Curly!"
Curly Hoff: "I remember reading about it in the papers at the time."

James Temple: "A relief train was dispatched from Miami. The barometer was down to about 26 inches when that train pulled into Homestead. The engineer backed his string of empty coaches into the danger zone when that hurricane hit. Knocked those coaches right off the track. 200 miles an hour, that wind blew. A tidal wave 12 feet high went right across the Keys. Whole towns were wiped out. Miles and miles of track were ripped up and washed away. Nothing was left. More than 500 bodies were recovered after the storm. And for months afterwards, corpses were found in the mangrove swamps..."

I've thought about that in the last couple of weeks. I thought about it when the nonsense was being spread about how we never had storms like this before so it must have been global warming that caused Katrina. And I've thought about it as the blame been heaped on the Federal government for the response. Franklin Roosevelt must not have cared about those people in the Keys, huh?


The best line in the film is, of course, Bogart's, as so many of the best lines are.

"You don't like it, do you Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don't you? If it doesn't stop, shoot it..."

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

It's all Bush's fault, right?

As you're reading this, keep reminding yourself that people were dying in New Orleans because the federal response was slow, because George Bush doesn't like black people...
On Friday, Sept. 2 — five days after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast — Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who represents New Orleans and is a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was allowed through the military blockades set up around the city to reach the Superdome, where thousands of evacuees had been taken....Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard tells ABC News that during the tour, Jefferson asked that the truck take him to his home on Marengo Street, in the affluent uptown neighborhood in his congressional district. According to Schneider, this was not part of Jefferson's initial request...The water reached to the third step of Jefferson's house, a military source familiar with the incident told ABC News, and the vehicle pulled up onto Jefferson's front lawn so he wouldn't have to walk in the water. Jefferson went into the house alone, the source says, while the soldiers waited on the porch for about an hour. Finally, according to the source, Jefferson emerged with a laptop computer, three suitcases, and a box about the size of a small refrigerator, which the enlisted men loaded up into the truck.

The Louisiana National Guard tells ABC News the truck became stuck as it waited for Jefferson to retrieve his belongings. The soldiers signaled to helicopters in the air for aid. Military sources say a Coast Guard helicopter pilot saw the signal and flew to Jefferson's home. The chopper was already carrying four rescued New Orleans residents at the time...After spending approximately 45 minutes with Jefferson, the helicopter went on to rescue three additional New Orleans residents before it ran low on fuel and was forced to end its mission.

Kudos to ABC news for actually carrying this story, at least on their web site...

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Quote of the Day

"I have no platform. Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them."
- John Roberts

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Monday Pythagorean Report



AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/12/2005
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Oakland4.85(4)4.06(4)0.58(1)82607963-3

Cleveland4.83(5)4.06(3)0.579(2)83608261-1

Anaheim4.64(9)3.91(1)0.578(3)82608161-1

Chicago4.66(8)4.03(2)0.566(4)806287557

Boston5.68(1)5(11)0.558(5)796383594

New York5.31(3)4.84(8)0.542(6)776580623

Toronto4.71(6)4.32(6)0.54(7)77657171-6

Minnesota4.3(13)4.15(5)0.517(8)736973690

Texas5.45(2)5.39(12)0.505(9)72717073-2

Seattle4.36(12)4.61(7)0.475(10)67756181-6

Detroit4.61(10)4.91(10)0.471(11)66756576-1

Baltimore4.49(11)4.87(9)0.464(12)667667751

Tampa Bay4.68(7)5.73(13)0.409(13)598560841

Kansas City4.27(14)5.76(14)0.366(14)52894695-6





Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Chicago9963

Boston9567

Cleveland9369

Anaheim9270

New York9171




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Chicago9864

Boston9468

Cleveland9369

Anaheim9369

Oakland9171




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Cleveland5.57(2)2.14(1)0.852(1)61701

Anaheim5(3)3.33(2)0.677(2)42420

Toronto4.67(4)3.5(4)0.629(3)42420

Texas7(1)5.5(13)0.609(4)4233-1

Baltimore4(9)3.67(5)0.54(5)33330

Boston3.57(11)3.43(3)0.519(6)4334-1

Kansas City4.67(4)4.83(9)0.484(7)3324-1

Tampa Bay4.17(8)4.5(7)0.465(8)33330

Seattle3.5(13)3.83(6)0.458(9)33330

Oakland4.67(4)5.17(12)0.454(10)33330

New York3.83(10)4.67(8)0.411(11)24331

Chicago3.57(11)4.86(10)0.363(12)34340

Detroit3.43(14)5(11)0.334(13)25250

Minnesota4.33(7)7.67(14)0.26(14)2415-1




A 3-4 week, but the Yankees lost 3, so the lead is 3 with 3 weeks left. And they each play their last 3 head-to-head at Fenway. So this is where we stand right now - Boston has a 3-game lead, and each team has 20 games left. The next 17 for both:

Boston -
Toronto (7 - 3 away, 4 home)
Oakland (4 - home)
Tampa Bay (3 - away)
Baltimore (3 - away)

New York -
Toronto (6 - 3 away, 3 home)
Tampa Bay (3 - away)
Baltimore (8 - 4 home, 4 away)

  • If the Red Sox increase their lead over the next 17, they win the East.

  • If they have the same record over the next 17, the Yankees need to sweep the last 3 to tie.

  • If New York makes up 1 game, the Yankees need to sweep the last 3 to win the East.

  • If New York makes up 2 games, the Yankees need to take 2-of-3 in that last series to tie.

  • If New York makes up 3 or more games, the Red Sox need that series - badly...

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Quote of the Day

"If we weren't prepared, and we didn't do our part, no amount of work by FEMA could overcome the lack of preparation..."
- FL Governor Jeb Bush, explaining why the FEMA abuse has been vastly overdone.

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My 9/11 story - 4 years ago today...

As I've written before, we homeschool our four children. One of the great things about that is that allows for tremendous flexibility in what you do, where you go and when you travel. In the spring of 2001, my wife and kids (8, 7, 5 and 3 at the time) started planning a field trip. They decided that we'd visit our nation's capitol. So they got guide books, found a hotel, and started putting together an itinerary. They studied the history of Washington, figured out where and when we could go, what we could see, and booked hotel rooms. We chose early September, after the summer vacations ended but before we thought school field trips would be in full swing, figuring that we'd have good access without big crowds to the sights we wanted to see.

So, on a Sunday morning in September, we loaded up our van and started south. We stopped a couple of times for bathroom breaks along the way, and made our way from Massachusetts to Washington, DC. One of our bathroom breaks was at the Vince Lombardi rest area on the New Jersey turnpike. As we got back in the car, I said to the kids, "Look over that way. See that tall building, the highest one? You watch as we drive here, and you're going to see that it's actually two buildings. They're called the Twin Towers, and they're the tallest buildings in NY." So we watched as we drove, and saw the buildings separate.

In Baltimore, we stopped at Fort McHenry. Our timing was just right, as we got to watch them take down the flag. And it was the big flag, the replica of the flag that was flying when Key penned the Star Spangled Banner. It's so large that they cannot actually fly it very often. If there's no wind, it doesn't move, and if there's too much, it's a threat to the flagpole and the flag itself. But it was a lovely day, with just the right amount of wind, and we saw it fly, and saw them take it down. You really need to see it being handled to get the perspective on how large it really is.



We made it into Washington in the late afternoon and drove around a little bit before finding the hotel. We drove around the mall, across the river to Arlington, and back around the city. Then we settled in to get some dinner and some sleep so we could get an early start the next day. We stayed at the hotel Harrington, just up the block from the Old Post Office building, and within pretty easy walking distance of everything that we wanted to see.

Monday was a busy day. We got off to an early start, before anything was open, and walked over to the mall. We stood at the Washington Monument for a few minutes, enjoying the view of everything that's viewable, and then started towards the Smithsonian.



We went into the Smithsonian castle for a little while, and then up to the Air and Space Museum, where we spent most of that day. At around noon, we crossed over to the National Gallery and had lunch, as the restaurants at Air and Space weren't open. We went back to Air and Space and enjoyed the rest of our afternoon, found some dinner, and put the kids to bed.

Tuesday's plan was to go to the Museum of American History. Or possibly Natural History. I'm not sure which. But the first thing that we did was to get on the metro and head to the Capitol building for a tour there. It was a beautiful morning, clear skies, not too hot or too cool, and everything was lovely.



We got into the line out front, got passes from the Ranger, and settled down to wait.

Shortly after we'd gotten into line, the rumor started that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in NY. Thinking it was a small plane, like the one that had crashed into the Empire State Building some years ago, we didn't let it impact what we were doing. As the tour group was going in, we had to go in the downstairs entrance, because we had a stroller, and when we were going through security, the uniformed officers were talking about the event in NY. That's when we learned that there had been a second crash, and that both planes were apparently commercial jets.

At that point, it was obviously a coordinated attack. But we were in the Capitol building, with four small children, and everyone was going on with the day, so we did as well. We took an elevator up and met up with our tour in the rotunda. Our guide gave us the background on the rotunda, all of the normal tourist information, the whos and whens, and then we moved on into statuary hall. As a native of Maine, I was attracted to the statue of Hannibal Hamlin, the only VP ever from the state of Maine, and I took this picture of my 8-year old. As I was doing that, the Pentagon was being hit.



Less than 30 seconds after that picture was taken, something happened, someone came running through the hall, and people started running for the exits. I still don't know what was said (though I had the perception that it was a bomb scare), but there was panic, and the crowd was moving. Fortunately, we were all together, but we had three walking and one in a stroller, and two of the kids got knocked down, and the stroller got pushed into one of the velvet ropes in the melee. By the time we got everyone upright again, most of the crowd was in front of us. A security guard led us to an elevator, and we went back down to the ground floor and out through an exit on the south side of the building. The first thing that met the eye was thick black smoke, lots of it, over the buildings facing southwest.

With nothing else to do, we started wandering around toward the mall, thinking at first that we might go to the museums as we'd planned, but knowing that was unlikely. As we stopped in front of the Capitol to take a picture, there was a huge boom that sounded like an explosion. (Looking at the timeline later, we determined that it been the sound of that section of the Pentagon collapsing.) Then, knowing that we weren't going to get into any museums that day, we started walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, heading back to the hotel.

The streets of Washington were filled with people. Washington's a company town, that company is the government, and it closed down. Every street was filled with cars (what I said at the time was that, for about two hours, no one was leaving Washington because everyone was leaving Washington), every sidewalk was filled with people. There were people who'd gotten out of their offices without keys, people without phones, without purses and money. There was a group of Congressional pages being led out of the Capitol back to their housing, and a woman who'd gotten kicked out of the Capitol without any shoes on her feet.

There were rumors flying wildly around, as no one really knew anything except that the Twin Towers in NY had been hit. We were told, as fact, that the Supreme Court had been hit. We were told, as fact, that a car bomb had gone off at the State Department. At one point we had to detour around some building because there was a cardboard box under a bench in front of it, and the police wouldn't let anyone pass by.

Eventually, we got back to the hotel, where we were able to call friends and family to let them know we were OK. We only had one room, and I really didn't want to watch any of the television coverage with the kids in the room, so, upon discovering that the local PBS station was showing "Sesame Street," we let the kids watch while I plugged in my laptop, figuring that there was no way I'd actually be able to get to the internet. But, as I mentioned earlier, the city was becoming a ghost town, and I didn't have any problem. The first thing I saw was this picture at the Drudge Report.



It made me feel sick.


Down the hall from us, there was a group of junior high school kids from New York. They'd checked out in the morning, then been unable to actually leave because of everything that had happened. The hotel had put them into a large conference room for the time being. There were a couple of them in distress, with parents that worked in the towers. I was able to send a couple of e-mails to people and actually spread some good news to both kids and parents over the next couple of hours.

Later that afternoon, the city streets, which had been so full earlier, were empty. We'd see the occasional groups of men walking arounds with earpieces and wrist mikes, but there was little to no foot traffic other than that. And there weren't many cars left, either, as people had vacated Washington. The information that I had, I got off the web, but it was all sketchy, and, not having seen the footage of the towers collapsing, I didn't understand that that had happened. There was a little information, and a lot of misinformation.


We'd been planning to meet some friends from south-east Pennsylvania at the Nation Zoo on Thursday. As Tuesday afternoon went on, we decided that there wasn't any point in staying in DC. We weren't fleeing - my take on it was that there was no way on God's earth that anything else was going to happen in Washington that day. No planes were going to fly, and anyone who wanted to set off a bomb and kill people had largely missed his chance. No, we were tourists, and everything that we wanted to see was going to be closed for the rest of our trip. So we checked out, loaded everything into the car, and headed to Pennsylvania. (Another piece of information came at a gas station/convenience store in Maryland, as I was told by someone who KNEW that the Air Force had shot down the plane in Pennsylvania.) There was a brief moment when I debated whether to go through the long tunnel in Baltimore, but decided it was probably not an issue. It was late afternoon, with the kids all playing outside, when I finally saw the footage of the towers collapsing, and the enormity of what had happened began to sink in...



On Thursday, we drove home, seeing the NY skyline without the towers and with smoke still billowing. A few days later, I saw the picture that I've thought about, and considered prayerfully, many times in the past four years.



I don't know why they hit the Pentagon instead of the Capitol building, but if they'd come a little bit north-east, I wouldn't be here today. I didn't lose anyone in the attacks, but I took them personally...


,

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

The "everybody's doing it" slander

The mainstream press does not always blame only Republicans or conservatives. There's a tendency in some quarters to believe that, but it's not true. What is true, however, is that the tendency to blame or criticize Republicans and/or conservatives is much, much stronger than the tendency to blame Democrats and/or liberals. This fact manifests itself in a couple of different ways.

The first thing that happens is that a Democrat can get away with things that a Republican just can't. Trent Lott, for example, made an offhand remark at a birthday party for Strom Thurmond that could be read as racist, and the outcry was immediate and widespread. When Richard Durbin went to the floor of the Senate to make comments that were far more inflammatory and inappropriate, comparing the US military to Nazis and genocidal Cambodian dictators, there was no coverage at all for several days, and the little coverage it eventually got didn't compare to what Lott got.

The other thing that happens is that Democratic follies and foibles tend to get grouped with others by Republicans, and presented in "everybody does it" arguments. I've said for years that there are three mainstream blame assessment scenarios: if the Republicans are wrong, they get blamed; if both parties are wrong, the Republicans get blamed; and if the Democrats are wrong, both parties get blamed.

Well, we've got another splendid example of this in the Washington Post on Sunday. In an article about the potential political fallout from Hurricane Katrina, Jim VandeHei goes to that third option, the "everybody does it" when the Democrats are clearly out of line.
The dispute over Washington's role in saving lives in New Orleans and in the future threatens to make incumbents from both parties among Katrina's casualties, several officials said. With the popularity of Congress and President Bush sagging before the crisis, many officials said Bush and lawmakers made their situation worse by pointing fingers and digressing into political warfare with rescue operations still underway.

(Emphasis mine.)

Well, I've watched the coverage over the past couple of weeks very carefully, and that analysis, while true in that people are sick of the "political warfare," is just flat-out wrong in apportioning blame. The Democrats, it's true, have been criticizing FEMA, and the President, and everyone involved in the adminstration. Repeatedly and harshly. A great many of the Democrats have attempted to make significant political hay from this catastrophic natural disaster.

But President Bush has not engaged in any "pointing fingers" or "political warfare." None. Not even a serious effort to defend himself and his administration. All of his public comments have been substantive and aimed at the recovery effort. And it is a typical, but sloppy and dishonest, effort from the American media to group him in with those politicians who are "pointing fingers and digressing into political warfare" because he's not doing it.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Quote of the day

"How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?"

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 41, 1788)

(via The Federalist Patriot)

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bush focuses on Katrina, delegates authority - AP finds a way to criticize that

A couple of weeks ago, I addressed a piece from the AP's Jennifer Loven. Loven, the wife of a former Clinton administration environmental official, found it necessary to write, as gasoline prices were rising, about how George W. Bush was probably the greatest consumer of gasoline. Well, after almost two weeks of absolutely relentless criticism of the President for not taking Katrina seriously, the AP has run a Loven article today (Many Chiefs in White House Recovery Effort) which criticizes the President for having his administration focused on the Hurricane relief effort.
There are an awful lot of chiefs around the White House these days when it comes to Hurricane Katrina.

There's Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, whose portfolio has swelled to give him...the job of the president's primary daily briefer...There's Andy Card, who as White House chief of staff is the supervisory point person for all things Katrina...Then there's Vice President Dick Cheney, whom Bush dropped into the mix Tuesday...

There's nothing out of the ordinary about a White House having several people overseeing different portions of such an enormous effort...But in this case, with the president under fire for a poor early reaction to the storm, the large cast of sometimes-changing aides being thrown at the response is contributing to a perception that the president has not taken complete control of the situation himself, said Paul Light, a professor of organizational studies at New York University.

"It's just reinforcing this image that the federal government doesn't know who's on first," he said.

It is just unbelievable. The President is an executive, delegating responsibility to subordinates, but she was able to go out and find a professor to criticize that. Somehow, because the President is delegating responsibility, because he has these high-level government officials focused on the disaster relief, that's an indication that "the president has not taken complete control of the situation himself." It doesn't take much mental agility to imagine a piece from the AP in which the President is criticized for NOT having those officials focused on those tasks, had that been the case instead. No, the AP's motto appears to be "all the news that's fit (to impugn the President) to print..."

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"quote" of the day

Taranto's Best Of The Web has an interesting (and vicious) setting of a Ted Kennedy quote:

"What the American people have seen is this incredible disparity in which those people who had cars and money got out and those people who were impoverished died."--Ted Kennedy on Hurricane Katrina

""--Mary Jo Kopechne on Hurricane Katrina

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The return of "it's all Bush's fault"

So President Bush was blamed for Hurricane Katrina, because he wouldn't support and sign the Kyoto protocol.

And he was responsible for the slow Federal response, because he was vacationing in Texas/golfing in Arizona/giving a speech in California.

And he didn't care about saving the people in New Orleans because they're black.

And now we discover that his diabolical foresight is staggering. Because back in April, he added hardships to the people victimized by Katrina, essentially setting a trap for them, and springing it with the storm. At least that's what this Knight-Ridder story (New bankruptcy law imposes more burdens on Katrina survivors) seems to be implying...
Hurricane Katrina survivors whose finances are in shambles may not qualify for federal bankruptcy protection once a new law with tough eligibility restrictions takes effect Oct. 17. And anyone who intends to file before the new standards take effect must overcome other Katrina complications such as injuries, being moved to out-of-state shelters, the loss of personal financial records and the closure of the five federal courthouses in hurricane-ravaged areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention & Consumer Protection Act, which President Bush signed into law April 20, allows only people who earn less than their states' median income to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, which lets them erase their debts after they forfeit their assets.


The question that leaps to mind is "does he get blamed for the environmental disaster of Lake Pontchartrain next, or is there something else before they get to that?"

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Katrina timeline

Rick Moran has compiled an excellent timeline on Katrina and the response effort.

I'm left with the same questions and thoughts that I had before. If there's a significant failure on the part of the President or FEMA or anyone in the Federal government, I don't see it. I don't see any evidence of the Federal hierarchy taking the situation lightly. I don't see any evidence of people failing to act. I do see a New Orleans-centric focus to everything, when the actual disaster covered hundreds, if not thousands, of square miles, the vast majority of which are not in New Orleans. I do not see any evidence that there has not been as much done since the storm hit as could reasonably be expected.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Was the Federal response too slow?

I wrote, the other day, about how I saw much of the criticism of the federal response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to be, at the least, way pre-mature. I've got a couple more things along those lines that I wanted to get out today.


  • The meme appears to have crystalized, even on the right, that FEMA has done a bad job, responding too slowly. I'm certainly open to the possibility that FEMA has been incompetent, but I've yet to see anything that I consider compelling evidence that that's the case. We're talking about devestation over hundreds (thousands?) of square miles of US territory. We're talking about devestation where the infrastructure for both communication and transportation are essentially non-existent. What is a reasonable response time? How fast and how far can we reasonably expect supplies and services to get under the situation as it exists? I've yet to see any concrete reasons to think that there's been some dramatic underperformance by the Federal government.

    There's an excellent piece today by a retired US Marine, Craig Martelle (FEMA is not a first responder) in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It addresses some of the things that I've been wondering about as I've seen and read and listened to in the media for the past week.
    As one who has received training by FEMA in emergency management and also training by the Department of Defense in consequence management, I believe that the federal response in New Orleans needs clarification.

    The key to emergency management starts at the local level and expands to the state level. Emergency planning generally does not include any federal guarantees, as there can only be limited ones from the federal level for any local plan. FEMA provides free training, education, assistance and respond in case of an emergency, but the local and state officials run their own emergency management program.

    Prior development of an emergency plan, addressing all foreseeable contingencies, is the absolute requirement of the local government --and then they share that plan with the state emergency managers to ensure that the state authorities can provide necessary assets not available at the local level.

    It's a good piece, with perspective that's been sorely lacking.


  • Who's the mayor of Gulfport? Who's the mayor of Biloxi? Who's the mayor of Mobile? Why are they not on television 24 hours a day? The general tenor of the media coverage has been "New Orleans was demolished by a major hurricane, and the Federal government handled it badly." The fact is, a week ago, the papers were still carrying stories of how New Orleans had "dodged a bullet." But it was already clear that the Gulf Coast communities in Mississippi and Alabama were destroyed. It was clear that the there was a major catastrophe in places other than New Orleans. But somehow, the footage in New Orleans has become the definition of what Hurricane Katrina did.


  • There's nothing in the public record as damning for the Federal government as this AP photo is for the Mayor of New Orleans.



    How many school busses are sitting there, empty and essentially destroyed by the flood? How many of New Orleans' residents could have been evacuated had they been used for that purpose in the 48 hours before the storm hit? And how can the President of the United States be blamed for them not being used, particularly when the evacuation that did take place, apparently took place at the urging of that President? ("Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding.")

    There will be time, and necessity, to do a post-mortem on the response of the government at all levels. But, to the extent that someone's clearly dropped the ball, I don't see that it's the President or the Feds.




For anyone who wants to claim that FEMA screwed up, I've got a few questions.

1) What specific decision was made that was made too late or too slowly?

2) What specific action that was taken was taken too late or too slowly?

3) What actions have been taken that should not have been? Whose responsibility were they?

4) What actions have not been taken that should have been? Whose responsibility were they?

5) What responsibilities should the Federal government have taken in New Orleans earlier than they did? What authority did the Federal government have to take action on those responsibilities?


Again, as I said the other day, I'm not going to claim that anyone has done everything perfectly. But I am going to continue to maintain that the criticism of the Federal government's response is vastly overblown, and an actual evaluation justifying criticism won't be available for months.

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More editorializing masquerading as news...

When President Bush returned to the Gulf Coast on Monday, many of us thought it was a part of the Hurricane relief effort. He wanted to check again on FEMA's progress, maybe. Or maybe he felt that it would help the relief effort to keep attention focused on it. Or he wanted to meet again with the local representatives, to see what else needed to be done.

But, no, apparently none of that was the case. At least not according to Knight-Ridder's Ron Hutcheson. No, apparently the reason that the President returned was political damage control.
President Bush returned to the Gulf Coast on Monday as part of a White House effort to ease public anger over the sluggish federal response to Hurricane Katrina.

Not as part of the disaster relief effort. Not as part of the Federal government's clean-up effort. No, just part of a "White House effort to ease public anger." How Mr. Hutcheson knows that is not made clear. Maybe he has a confidential source inside the White House leaking that to him, and him alone.

Or maybe, just possibly, he is, as so many have done in the past week, editorializing in a news story. Again...

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Monday Pythagorean Report



AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 9/5/2005
ProjectedActual

Chicago6.25(2)3.75(6)0.718(1)6253-1

Anaheim3(12)2.17(1)0.645(2)42420

Boston6.57(1)5.14(10)0.61(3)43612

Cleveland5.2(5)4.6(8)0.556(4)3223-1

Oakland4(8)3.57(4)0.552(5)4334-1

Minnesota3.5(11)3.17(2)0.546(6)33421

Seattle3.86(9)3.57(4)0.535(7)4334-1

Kansas City5.29(4)5.14(10)0.513(8)4325-2

Texas6.25(2)6.5(13)0.482(9)44622

Baltimore4.71(6)5(9)0.473(10)34340

New York3.86(9)4.57(7)0.423(11)34431

Tampa Bay4.14(7)5.29(12)0.39(12)3425-1

Toronto2.67(14)3.5(3)0.378(13)24240

Detroit3(12)7(14)0.175(14)15150






Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Chicago6.25(2)

Anaheim3(12)

Boston6.57(1)

Cleveland5.2(5)

Oakland4(8)




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Chicago6.25(2)

Anaheim3(12)

Boston6.57(1)

Cleveland5.2(5)

Oakland4(8)




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Chicago6.25(2)3.75(6)0.718(1)6253-1

Anaheim3(12)2.17(1)0.645(2)42420

Boston6.57(1)5.14(10)0.61(3)43612

Cleveland5.2(5)4.6(8)0.556(4)3223-1

Oakland4(8)3.57(4)0.552(5)4334-1

Minnesota3.5(11)3.17(2)0.546(6)33421

Seattle3.86(9)3.57(4)0.535(7)4334-1

Kansas City5.29(4)5.14(10)0.513(8)4325-2

Texas6.25(2)6.5(13)0.482(9)44622

Baltimore4.71(6)5(9)0.473(10)34340

New York3.86(9)4.57(7)0.423(11)34431

Tampa Bay4.14(7)5.29(12)0.39(12)3425-1

Toronto2.67(14)3.5(3)0.378(13)24240

Detroit3(12)7(14)0.175(14)15150




A 6-1 week at home against bad teams is about what they were looking for, I think. Certainly, you can't win 'em all, and 5-2 would have been a disappointment. So they did what they had to do, and they're 4 up on the Yankees in the loss column (and 5 ahead of the 2nd place team in the West if the WC comes into play) so they're in very good shape with a month left.

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Apres Katrina, le deluge...

The AP's Ron Fournier has got another news analysis piece up (Rhetoric Not Matching Reality) that is filled with negative spin on President Bush. But he's gone a little bit further this time, as he's using several "facts" that are not, in fact, facts.

  • "On Iraq alone, the rhetoric has repeatedly fallen far short of reality. Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. "

    While it is certainly true that we never found the stockpiles that we - and everyone else - expected to be there, the WMD argument for going into Iraq was by no means invalidated. The final report of the Iraq Survey Group concluded that "Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq’s WMD capability...after sanctions were removed and Iraq’s economy stabilized...Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability...but he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare (CW) capabilities."


  • "The mission wasn't accomplished in May 2003."

    The President didn't say that it was. That banner was the work of the crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln, whose mission was over as they were headed home. The President said that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended," which was true as there was no army left to fight against. The fact that there's been a terrorist campaign inside the country since then doesn't make the statement false.


  • "Most allies avoided the hard work of his 'coalition of the willing.'"

    The fact that France and Germany and Russia didn't help doesn't mean that there wasn't a coalition, or that they weren't willing. Ron Fournier may not approve of the coalition, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't there.


  • "Bush's spokesman said anybody involved in leaking the identity of a CIA agent would be fired, but no action has been taken against officials accused of doing so."

    Where to start on this one? OK, in the first place, Bush said that anyone found to have "violated law" in releasing the name would be "taken care of." Secondly, no one in the administration has yet been found to have "leaked" the name anyway.


He threw these things out as examples of the "shady art" of "spin" that "the Bush White House has perfected." The context was the President's comments on the Hurricane.
This is what the president had to say about the relief effort earlier in the week:

_"There's a lot of food on its way, a lot of water on the way, and there's a lot of boats and choppers headed that way."

_"Thousands have been rescued. There's thousands more to be rescued. And there's a lot of people focusing their efforts on that."

_"As we speak, people are moving into New Orleans area to maintain law and order."

Nothing is soon enough for the people suffering, but does anyone think that there's anything false, in any way, about any one of those comments? Of course not. The first few days for a catastrophe like just happened are inevitably going to have people that don't get as much help as they need as soon as they need it. It takes time to mass force in the right place, to open roads that are blocked, to route around flooded areas. I don't know that the third statement was strictly true, because I'm not sure when he said it or what was happening at the time, but the first two are indisputable. They aren't "spin," they're facts. Which Fournier seems to have some trouble recognizing...

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Friday, September 02, 2005

It's still all Bush's fault...

The first thing that I want to say is this - I'm sure that there is something that the Federal Government has done wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. President Bush could have done something differently, Mike Brown could have done something differently, Mike Chertoff could have done something differently. And the state and local officials have been imperfect. Governor Barbour, Governor Blanco, Mayor Nagin - all have done things they shouldn't have, or failed to something they should have.

How do I know that?

Because they are all human beings, and being human, they're imperfect. None of them has perfect perception, perfect foresight, perfect understanding. Everyone involved in the relief effort has failed to perform perfectly.

Now, with that out of the way, let's get to the point. And the point is this - the criticism of President Bush and FEMA and the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina is outrageous. And out of control. The New York Times("the president's demeanor yesterday...seemed casual to the point of carelessness"), CNN's Jack Cafferty ("I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans") and NBC's Katie Couric, for example, don't like the President, and so the criticism is, at that level, understandable. But it is outrageous nonetheless.

The anti-Bush criticism that I've seen has come in three different forms. Two of them are debatable but moot.

1) The Hurricane was strengthed/caused/allowed by Global Warming! and the President failed to sign the Kyoto accord. (I referred to that as "debatable" but it isn't, really. Even if we grant that a) global warming is happening, b) human beings are causing it, c) it caused or strengthened the storm, and d) the Kyoto protocols could mitigate global warming [which I do not], there's still been nowhere near enough time since President Bush was first inaugurated less than 5 years ago to have had any significant impact on the climate of the planet, whether the US had signed on to Kyoto or not.)

2) The President cut spending by the Army Corps of Engineers that would have protected the City of New Orleans, so the levee breaks are his fault. While it appears to be true that certain funds which were requested were not allocated, this is by no means unique to the Bush administration, nor is it obvious that the funds which were allocated were spent wisely. There will be a time for this debate to take place, and it's important that it do so, but for where we are now, it's moot. It's a hammer being wielded against the President by people who don't like him.

That brings us to the third criticism, the one that I really want to address.

3) The President has failed to take the situation seriously. He was playing out in California and vacationing in Texas when he should have been overseeing disaster relief. There are people trapped who should have been rescued by now. And the National Guard troops who should be taking care of things are over getting shot at in Iraq.

As I said at the beginning, I'm certain that the response has not been perfect. But there is a huge amount of bad faith mixed in with legitimate questions about FEMA's performance. People are assuming that things are possible without taking into account what has happened, the full scale and scope of the efforts that a) are needed and b) are underway. The logistics involved with the number of people, the amount of water, the size of the area, are all staggering. There are huge areas, hundreds of square miles, that cannot be reached by car, truck or boat. How long and how many helicopters would it take to evacuate 100,000 people from a 300 square mile area, people that are bunched in 10s and 20s? As I write this, it has been approximately 96 hours since Katrina hit the Gulf coast. What, realistically has not been done which should have been done?

And contrary to the "Bush doesn't care" nonsense, he actually declared disaster areas before the storm even arrived to expedite the federal response. FEMA's been there since before the storm arrived. The Navy is moving the hospital ship USNS Comfort to New Orleans. But it takes time to travel from Baltimore to New Orleans by sea. Likewise with all of the different units that the President outlined on Wednesday, 48 hours after the catastrophe. I know that the New York Times wants him to bite his lip and "feel your pain" but what he was doing instead was making sure that actual rescue efforts were taking place.

I understand that this is an instant gratification nation. We want what we want, and we want it now. But sometimes the real world gets in the way. The laws of physics prevent everything from happening at the same time, and prevent multiple vehicles from operating in the same space simultaneously. Everyone stranded in the middle of the flood knows that a helicopter could rescue them in the next hour, but again, how many helicopters are there? Pilots? How much area is there to search? It takes time. Time while crews open roads, while work crews remove downed power lines and trees, while flood waters recede. Has FEMA reacted appropriately and fast enough? Are there enough National Guard troops to do what needs to be done?

I have no idea. Neither do the people criticizing the relief efforts. They are criticizing, not because they have legitimate criticisms to make based on legitimate facts, but because they see an opportunity to criticize the President. It's unseemly, and it is outrageously offensive.

The one criticism that can be made, I think, the one thing that we have enough information to say was poorly handled, was this - there should have been armed troops into New Orleans sooner, and they should have been shooting some of the looters. If they had to drop paratroopers into the city to implement martial law, they should have done so. But whose decision should that have been? Does the President have the authority to send US troops into a US city and declare martial law, or does that have to be done at the behest of the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana? In any event, that is the one thing that has failed to happen this week that is a fairly obvious mis-step. Otherwise, the rescue efforts proceed, and I rather suspect that none of the people making the criticisms have the legitimate facts necessary to make well-founded criticisms. And it is offensive that they've chosen this time and this manner to try to score political points.

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