Friday, February 29, 2008

Security ads

Well, this could be a first in American political history: Obama says Clinton ad scares voters
Democrat Barack Obama accused rival Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday of trying to "play on people's fears to scare up votes" with a television ad showing sleeping children and asking who would be more qualified to answer a national security emergency call at 3 a.m.

Gosh, attempting to scare the voters? Unheard of!

Lyndon Johnson, 1964 - Daisy

Other candidates have made similar arguments a little more subtly...

Ronald Reagan, 1984 - The Bear

or humorously.

George H. W. Bush, 1988 - Dukakis in the Tank

Of course, none of those other candidates were St. Barack, the anointed, so Senator Clinton may not actually be able to get away with it...

UPDATE: Senator Clinton's ad

I'd love to hear the Obama campaign whine about this some more, because this is such a ridiculously modest "attack" that complaining about it makes him look silly.


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Best and worst baseball names - current prospects

The Baseball Crank has identified the best and worst names of current MLB prospects, and it's a lot of fun.

From the "worst" list:
1. Billy Buckner (P-KC). Might as well legally add "no relation" to the end of his name.

And, from the best list:
6. Nick Noonan (2B-SF). Admit it: you want to add "Private Eye" at the end. The streets of San Francisco are his beat.

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Channeling Obama

Frank J. is channeling Obama, and it's funny because it's true...
Iraq continues to be a serious problem, and the Bush administration has done nothing but increase the problem and cause unnecessary deaths. It is a mess, but I have a solution: I would never have gone there.

The Iraq War will be a big problem to inherit, but it would not be if we hadn't have gone there. That's why that is my solution. People ask me, "Won't leaving Iraq now be abandoning the Iraqi people?" Well, it wouldn't be abandoning them if we hadn't had gone there. "What about a civil war?" others ask, to which I say there would be no civil war if Saddam were still in charge because we didn't go to Iraq. As you can see, not having gone to Iraq easily solves all these problems.


And I do have experience: Experience at not going to war. That's why not having gone to Iraq is the perfect solution for me. It's one I'm uniquely able to espouse and have been consistent on. Years ago I said we shouldn't invade Iraq, and that is still my solution.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I'm not advocating "rule by expert," but it seems that people in positions of power and influence ought to have some idea of the implications of their decisions. The number of politicians who seem incapable of grasping fairly basic economic concepts is frightening. And the more we see from Senator Obama, the more the prospect of an Obama Presidency is very concerning. Here, Willem Buiter and Anne Sibert examine one of his economic proposals, generously calling it "reactionary, populist, xenophobic and just plain silly."
Senator Barack Obama’s campaign has been long on slogans and mood music but short on concrete proposals and policies. However, on 2 Aug 2007, along with Senators Dick Durbin and Sherrod Brown and Representative Jan Schakowsky, Obama introduced the yet unpassed Patriot Employer Act...If the Patriot Employer Act proposal is anything to go by, we are in trouble if Obama wins.
The Patriot Employer Act seeks to transfer wealth from the truly downtrodden of the world to a limited number of favoured US workers: mainly those in once dominant manufacturing industries that have lost their global competitive edge. It is breathtaking hypocrisy to object to the often appalling conditions of work and employment in developing countries and emerging markets, including sweatshops and child labour, while at the same time trying to prevent the operation of the normal and effective mechanisms for remedying these deplorable circumstances: foreign direct investment, outsourcing, off-shoring and all other manifestations of free trade.

It's a good piece. One wonders how Senator Obama would react to the criticisms. One suspects that he won't ever be challenged with them, not by the US media anyway.

Which seems a legitimate segue to this "it's funny because it's true" SNL skit...

(H/T to Professor Mankiw for the article link.)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

15th anniversary of first WTC attack

15 years ago today, Islamic terrorists tried to topple New York's twin towers. Andy McCarthy reminds those who think that 911 was caused by George Bush's smirk, or that the US government was involved...
n the morning of February 26, 1993, Islamic militants steered a nondescript Ryder van through the winding darkness of the parking garage under the World Trade Center. They had spent years planning this moment in secret meetings at mosques and jailhouses, in rural outposts that served as paramilitary camps, and in safehouses where explosive compounds were mixed in makeshift labs.

Loaded into the van’s rear compartment was a 1,400-pound chemical bomb.


It had been the intention of the World Trade Center bombers to annihilate tens of thousands of Americans, in addition to rendering the world’s most significant financial district uninhabitable. ...So yes, the aftermath resembled the ninth ring of hell, but the devastation was orders of magnitude less than it could have been.

In hindsight, we now know the silver lining caused us to miss the ferocity and determination of our enemies.

There's a war on. We didn't start it. It didn't start in 2001. And leaving Iraq isn't going to make it better. Nor is turning off our intelligence capabilities.

The frustrating question is this - why is it that one of the two major political parties in this country doesn't actually recognize that there's a war on?

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Today's global warming news

Is it time to "stock up on fur coats?"
Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.
And remember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its "lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past.

The ice is back.

Gilles Langis, a senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa, says the Arctic winter has been so severe the ice has not only recovered, it is actually 10 to 20 cm thicker in many places than at this time last year.
According to Robert Toggweiler of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University and Joellen Russell, assistant professor of biogeochemical dynamics at the University of Arizona -- two prominent climate modellers -- the computer models that show polar ice-melt cooling the oceans, stopping the circulation of warm equatorial water to northern latitudes and triggering another Ice Age (a la the movie The Day After Tomorrow) are all wrong....when Profs. Toggweiler and Russell rejigged their model to include the 40-year cycle of winds away from the equator (then back towards it again), the role of ocean currents bringing warm southern waters to the north was obvious in the current Arctic warming. Kenneth Tapping of our own National Research Council, who oversees a giant radio telescope focused on the sun, is convinced we are in for a long period of severely cold weather if sunspot activity does not pick up soon.

All this time I thought that the Global Warming alarmists were ineffective whackos, and that nothing they did would make any difference - it turns out that they may have been too effective...


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We've made it through...

Good news for the day: We have just passed the last weekend without real, actual baseball games until the end of October...

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Barack - A new kind of Politician!

Here's the kind of rhetoric for which Obama is being hailed as a pseudo-messianac figure:
[This] will not be a year of politics as usual. It can be a year of inspiration and hope, and it will be a year of concern, of quiet and sober reassessment of our nation’s character and purpose. It has already been a year when voters have confounded the experts. And I guarantee you that it will be the year when we give the government of this country back to the people of this country.

There is a new mood in America. We have been shaken by a tragic war abroad and by scandals and broken promises at home. Our people are searching for new voices and new ideas and new leaders.


As I’ve said many times before, we can have an American President who does not govern with negativism and fear of the future, but with vigor and vision and aggressive leadership—a President who’s not isolated from the people, but who feels your pain and shares your dreams and takes his strength and his wisdom and his courage from you.

I see an America on the move again, united, a diverse and vital and tolerant nation...with pride and confidence, an America that lives up to the majesty of our Constitution and the simple decency of our people.

This is the America we want. This is the America that we will have.



A different kind of politician!

(Oh yeah, that wasn't actually Obama - that was Jimmy Carter, accepting the Democratic Presidential Nomination 32 years ago. But it sure sounds good, doesn't it?)

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David Ortiz - Hall of Famer?

Over on the Projo Bulletin board, there's been a bit of a discussion about whether or not David Ortiz is a potential Hall of Famer. And the comparison that comes up is, of course, Jim Rice.

Some people are going to be surprised or offended by this, but here it comes:

David Ortiz has been a much better hitter than Jim Rice.

I don't know if Ortiz will be a Hall of Famer some day. But I'll say this - he's done enough through age 31 for it not to be a ludicrous question. Let's look, briefly, at what Ortiz has done vs. Jim Rice (who is, in my opinion, not a Hall of Famer, but is close, and will probably get in next year.)

Stat comparison, David Ortiz vs. Jim Rice

Ortiz through age 3111924215738121931512266880651.289.384.559139

Rice through age 31149359639211804272693041076451.303.353.524133

Best five contiguous

Ortiz 2003-200773727385238262079208642465.302.402.612156


Best five overall



We include OPS+ because that adjusts for league context, and Ortiz has certainly played in a higher offense era than Rice did. Regardless, as compared to their contextual cohort, Ortiz has had a much higher peak than Rice did.

Ortiz vs. Rice - OPS+, best five






At Ortiz' age, Rice had better counting stats by virtue of having played in more games. But his rate stats weren't anywhere near as good, led by the huge difference in OBP. And not all of the counting stats were better - despite the huge plate appearance discrepancy for Rice, Ortiz had 200 more walks. It's clear that Rice never had five years as good as Ortiz' last five, never mind five consecutive that good.

The offensive era means that it's easier for Ortiz to put up big offensive numbers than it was for Rice. Even given so, the comparison to league context suggests that Ortiz has been a better hitter. Rice gets an advantage because he played more defense and did less DHing than Ortiz - on the other hand, he didn't have much defensive value. Rice also took enormous advantage of an extreme hitter's park for his best seasons. During his five-year peak, Fenway played extremely small, and he hit 60% more home runs at home than he did on the road. Ortiz, on the other hand, has seen his power production suppressed at home. Rice hit one home run for every 14.28 at-bats at home during those seasons, but only one in every 24.17 AB on the road. Ortiz has hit one in every 11.69 AB on the road during his five year peak, and only one for every 15.02 AB at home. Big advantage to Ortiz.

Obviously, Ortiz has not done enough yet to be considered a Hall of Famer. But it's not difficult to imagine him doing so. Another 6-7 years comparable to the last five would probably do it. Whether he can do that or not is tough to say. It's not hard to imagine him dropping into the Mo Vaughn "body-just-won't-hold-up" category, but, on the other hand, he's just DHing the vast majority of the time. And he has a couple of intangibles that compare favorably with Rice's "most feared hitter in baseball" thing. For one, everyone watching considers him one of the great clutch hitters of all time, and there's no question that he's hit several memorable big late-inning home runs over the past few years. And he was a key player on two World Series winning teams (so far.) I'd say that Ortiz is in a decent place as far as being a potential Hall of Famer - he's reached age 31, it's a legitimate question, and sustaining current demonstrated performance would very probably get him in...

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Rationing health care

Greg Mankiw also had some commentary on the British health care system issue that I noted the other day:
Some people like to think of health care and education of basic human rights. Maybe they are. But they are also normal goods. That is, the income elasticity of demand is positive. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the right cost-benefit calculation for providing the good depends on the income of the consumer.

Achieving both efficiency and equality in the provision of these goods is impossible. Dealing with this conflict will provide a major challenge to the political system in the years to come.

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Human history

"What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could...invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history - money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery - the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy."
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I said that I'd be mentioning The Abolition of Man again, and I will. But I'm not ready yet. For today, I'll just mention that the first of the three Riddell Memorial Lectures, later collected in The Abolition of Man as Men Without Chests, was delivered 65 years ago yesterday, February 24, 1943.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

50 crime writers to read before you die

So, the Telegraph has listed the 50 crime writers to read before you die" Obviously, the main purpose of such a list is to generate controversy over the inclusions and omissions. Well, they've achieved their purpose. Over in the Corner, John Miller thinks (incorrectly) that "most obvious name missing from that best-crime-writer list is Michael Connelly," while Mark Hemingway believes that "it's an absolute travesty that Ross MacDonald is not on the list." Well, I've never read either Connelly or McDonald, so I can't comment on the omission of their names. But I do have a couple of comments.
  1. With apologies to Mr. Miller, the single most obvious missing name is Rex Stout. A prolific writer, an iconic character, virtually infinitely re-readable, the absence of the creator of Nero Wolfe, does, as suggested by one of the commenters at the Telegraph's website, "invalidate the list."

  2. The second most obvious omission is Erle Stanley Gardner. Is there a more iconic character in American crime fiction than Perry Mason? If you want to argue that Gardner wasn't a very good writer, you'll have to find someone else to do it with, because I won't disagree with you - he wasn't. But he was a very stylized writer, who was, in many ways, the creator of the courtroom thriller, and a master plotter. If Agatha Christie belongs on the list, and she obviously does, then so does Gardner.

  3. While recognizing that Dickens' novels frequently include crimes (and believe me, I'm a huge fan of Dickens in general, and Bleak House, which they cited, in particular), there's just no purpose to having his name on a list of this sort. He wasn't a "crime writer" any more than Shakespeare or Wodehouse, both of whom wrote about many crimes, both of whom were "better writers" than the vast majority of the inhabitants of the list, and neither of whom belongs on it. Nor does Dickens.

  4. Edmund Crispin? That's a joke, right? As were his novels. His presence on the list goes a long way towards invalidating it. If I could go back in time and spend the time I spent reading Crispin re-reading Gambit or Murder By The Book or Some Buried Caesar for the 20th time, I'd consider that a good thing.

  5. I'm not going to kick Wilkie Collins off, because I recognize the importance of The Moonstone. But that's it, as far as I know, and I've never actually been able to finish it.

  6. I want it understood that this is a question, not a criticism. I've never read Raymond Chandler, and maybe he should be there. But I can't help but wonder if he'd be there if Humphrey Bogart hadn't filmed The Big Sleep.

  7. One of the spots on the list is filled by "Steig Larsson, crusading Swedish journalist who died in 2004, leaving the manuscripts of three thrillers." I'm thinking that maybe, just possibly, that spot would be more appropriately filled by someone like Ellis Peters, the creator of the 20 wonderful Brother Cadfael mysteries.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

WHERE is John Galt?

Is Atlas shrugging in Great Britain?
No other nation is losing so many qualified people ... Britain has now lost more than one in 10 of its most skilled citizens, while overall only Mexico has had more people emigrate."

Why are people leaving? One suggestion:

"Prof David Coleman, of St John's, Oxford, said the brain drain was "to do with quality of life, laws and bureaucracy, tax and all the rest of it"."

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Even the best have their down moments

Over in The Corner, Rick Brookhiser is wondering "what are your least favorite works by artists you mostly, or sometimes, love?" Without going into exhaustive detail, I will just say that it's an excellent opening for quoting Oscar Wilde (of whom I am emphatically not a fan), who said that "One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing."

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Where did McCain leave that petard?

The NY Times plays to type, and Andy McCarthy's not that upset:
Senator McCain appears to have been smeared by the Times. I'm sorry that happened, but if indignation is the order of the day, count me out....The Senator's reaction says it all: he's "disappointed in the New York Times." Of course, we can only be disappointed by those from whom we expect better. McCain expects better from the Times because he's accustomed to getting it, and he's accustomed to getting it because he's been very good about holding up his end of the bargain — especially when it comes to demagoguing the Right...

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Actions have consequences

The lesson that those on the left, the supporters of Hillarycare, refuse to learn:
The endpoint here is the same as it always is with socialist systems: it's financially unsustainable to equalize everyone by providing the best care universally - so instead, the government makes us all equal by giving everyone the worst.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A different Michelle, a different attitude

A different Michelle:
Like Michelle Obama, I am a “woman of color.” Like Michelle Obama, I am a working mother of two young children. Like Michelle Obama, I am a member of the 13th generation of Americans born since the founding of our great nation.

Unlike Michelle Obama, I can’t keep track of the number of times I’ve been proud — really proud — of my country since I was born and privileged to live in it.


I’m just seven years younger than Mrs. Obama. We’ve grown up and lived in the same era. And yet, her self-absorbed attitude is completely foreign to me. What planet is she living on? Since when was now the only time the American people have ever been “hungry for change”? Michelle, ma belle, Barack is not the center of the universe. Newsflash: The Obamas did not invent “change” any more than Hillary invented “leadership” or John McCain invented “straight talk.”

We were both adults when the Berlin Wall fell, Michelle. That was earth-shattering change.

- Michelle Malkin

A must read...

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Proud to be an American

There's buzzing about the comments in Wisconsin from the wife of Presidential Candidate Barack Obama on the fact that, apparently, the only thing that's ever made her proud of America is people "hoping" for Barack to win the Presidency.
What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud.

It is, of course, both easy and obvious to, as John Podhoretz has done, list some of the things that have happened in Michelle Obama's "adult lifetime," and question the fact that none of them gave her any pride.
Forget matters like the victory in the Cold War; how about only things that have made liberals proud — all the accomplishments of inclusion? How about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991? Or Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s elevation to the Supreme Court? Or Carol Moseley Braun’s election to the Senate in 1998? How about the merely humanitarian, like this country’s startling generosity to the victims of the tsunami? I’m sure commenters can think of hundreds more landmarks of this sort. Didn’t she even get a twinge from, say, the Olympics?

Many others have done that, too. And it's all correct.

It's interesting to ask, however, what the source of the current "pride" is. Obviously, one would expect that she's proud of her husband. But that isn't what she said. She said that she's proud of her country, and that it's the first time. I assume, frankly, that it is campaign trail hyperbole. But what possible kind of mindset could produce that particular hyperbole? According to Podhoretz,
it suggests the Obama campaign really does have its roots in New Class leftism, according to which patriotism is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the first refuge as well — that America is not fundamentally good but flawed, but rather fundamentally flawed and only occasionally good.

Jeanne Kirkpatrick, in addressing the Republican National Convention in 1984, said of the Democrats (who had recently held their own National Convention in San Francisco) that "they always blame America first."

That's who Michelle Obama is, and that's where that attitude comes from.

It's apparently who her husband is, too. This is a minor thing, but he is currently refusing to wear the American flag pin. Not just not wearing one - actively not wearing one. "I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great. Hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism." So for Barack, telling people what "will make this country great" is patriotism.

Memo to Senator Obama: This country is great already. It doesn't need you to make it so. It was great before you were born, it will (hopefully) be great after you are gone. It will be great in January of 2009 whether you are elected in November or not. The American people already have greatness - they don't need you telling them how to do it.

W.S. Gilbert had the Obama's number over a century ago, when the Lord High Executioner's "little list" included "the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, every century but this and every country but his own." Every human institution, by virtue of being a human institution, is flawed. The United States is not perfect, and I'm not aware of anyone that would argue that it is. But it would be tough to make a reasonable case that it is not the greatest country on the face of the earth, a country of which its citizens should be proud. It is indicative of an unpleasant mindset that that appears not to be the case for either of the Obamas.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Convert

I have been converted.

For years, I have been apostate, believing that one voted for candidates based on their records, philosophies, associations and plans. And I have watched as the American left, the Democrats, home of identity politics in America, and their "Amen corner" in the American mainstream press have provided the racial/gender take on every political decision. And I now know, after resisting the truth for years, that Black candidates lose, not because people disagree with them politically, but because conservative voters are closet, or even not-so-closet, racists. Women candidates lose because voters are sexist, intimidated by "strong women."

They have converted me. I have come over to their point of view. I have been enlightened. It is now clear to me that there are no reasons, other than racism, not to vote for a black politician. There are no reasons, other than sexism, not to vote for a female politician.

I have been convinced. The re-education campaign has worked. The truth has been browbeaten into me. I have seen the light.

But I do have just one question remaining.

The Democrats are meeting in Denver in August to choose a Presidential candidate, and that choice will reveal a great deal about the Democratic Party.

Is the Democratic Party racist? Or is the Democratic Party sexist?

It apparently has to be one or the other...

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Quote of the day

The Baseball Crank notes one of Barack Obama's electoral assets - that he "is surrounded by a protective heat shield of worshipful press coverage."

Quite right, and very well put...

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Nine down...

six to go.

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My Front Porch Looking In

I've never been a big country music fan, but there are a lot of country songs (and some performers) that I like. A lot. And that I'm very culturally in tune with. Like this fantastic piece from Lonestar...

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Some "news" stories aren't

Senator Specter appears to be shocked - shocked! - to discover that the Patriots started taping prior to the start of the 2006 season.
"Bill Belichick has been illegally taping opponents' defensive signals since he became the New England Patriots' coach in 2000, according to Sen. Arlen Specter, who said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told him that during a meeting Wednesday ... Goodell said Belichick told him he believed the taping was legal..."

But he wouldn't be, if he'd been reading what I wrote about it. Like what I said on September 20:
of course New England has "stolen signals" in this manner for years. It should be obvious to the meannest intelligence that recording the defensive signal-calling has been standard operating procedure. It's part of their game-day activity. They've got video of all of the opposing coaches signals for the last 8 years...

As I said - obvious to anyone with the brains to fog a mirror...

The interesting question is this - was it actually illegal prior to the "clarification memo" prior to the 2006 season? I'd love to know the actual text of the rule governing taping over the 2000-2005 time period, because I think that there are/were readings of the text that I've seen which do, in fact, support Belichick's interpretation. Prior to the "clarification" memo, anyway. If the coaches didn't have access to any of the footage during the game, was it technically against the rules? I don't know the answer to that.

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The Rites of Spring

Pitchers and catchers report.

This is a good thing...

Jon Lester


(Great picture of Jon Lester by Jim Davis of The Boston Globe...)

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"General welfare," baseball, PEDs and Clemens

Over at Baseball Prospectus' Unfiltered Blog, Steven Goldman has the justification for Congress' steroid involvement resting in the "general welfare" clause of section 8 of the Constitution, "Powers of Congress." I'm sure that, if asked, that's what someone would say. I don't see a "general welfare" issue here, of course, though recognize that others may differ. But Goldman makes a point that I've seen elsewhere, and think needs to be addressed.
First, if PEDs do really affect the outcome of games and seasons (a debatable proposition at the least), and that is tolerated by Baseball, then baseball isn’t a sport, but verges on being a gigantic interstate confidence game perpetrated on the public. Second, the national health outlook is obviously a component of the general welfare.

As to the second point, I don't think that professional athletes use of performance-enhancing drugs has enough of an impact on the "national health impact" to justify Congressional action in a country where cigarettes are still legally sold, but that's just me. It's the first point which really concerns me, because I've seen other people make it, and I think that it's nonsense.

So let's consider if for a moment.

Thesis: If PEDs do really affect the outcome of games and seasons ... and that is tolerated by Baseball, then baseball isn’t a sport, but verges on being a gigantic interstate confidence game perpetrated on the public.

The Black Sox went to trial on that theory. Because they were involved in throwing games, the games were no longer "fair," as in, there was no longer the competitive athletic competition which was being advertised. Ticket purchasers had the assumption, and a reasonable expectation, of two teams doing their best to win. As that was not the case, the Series was, in fact, "a gigantic interstate confidence game perpetrated on the public."

In the case of PEDs, however, that is not the case. The "then" clause does not logically follow the "if" clause. "If PEDs do really affect the outcome of games and seasons ... and that is tolerated by Baseball," does not in any way call into question the game on the field as a competitive athletic contest which is what the public expects and is entitled to in exchange for its financial support. The "enhancement" of some players may have an impact on their performance, and may have some impact on the result, but the fundamental nature of the contest has not changed. The only way that this becomes an issue is if Baseball institutes rules or procedures preventing players on some teams from "enhancing" while allowing players on different teams to "enhance" with impunity. In an environment with no enforcement, as has largely been the case in baseball, there is no sytemic advantage to any team, and no affect on competitive balance. And, therefore, no case to be made that Major League Baseball "verges on being a gigantic interstate confidence game perpetrated on the public."

And no "general welfare" issues for Congress to address.

(Goldman's larger point, that there's no point whatsoever to Congress hectoring Mcnamee and Clemens, I agree with in toto.)

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I would, again, like to express my contempt for this Congress

A committee of the United States Congress is meeting today with a baseball player and an athletic trainer to determine whether or not, when that trainer performed injections on the player that both acknowledge, those injections contained substances which may or may not have been explicitly illegal and against the explicit rules of the game at the time that the injections occurred. Substances which may or may not have any affect on the performance of said athlete and any other athletes he may have competed with. Because, you know, that really is one of the top issues facing the United States. I can't actually find any Constitutional support for this hearing in the enumerated powers of the Congress, but apparently they think that such support exists, and that this should be one of their priorities.

But they don't want to look foolish:
"I think we've got to resolve it. Otherwise, the whole committee and the entire Congressional hearing process is made a mockery of."
- Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-MA

Good heavens, we can't have that!

This is where better writers than I would come up with a few excellent cutting remarks. A little snark, a little sarcasm, a little biting satire, a pin stuck into the whole pompous "we know better and must protect you from yourselves" attitude of Washingtonitis. I find the task to be beyond me, because every time I start, the humor doesn't come, just the anger. The whole process is virtually self-mocking, isn't it? Isn't this the sort of thing you'd produce as satire? Seriously, if one wanted to mock a Congress for overstepping its bounds, wouldn't one produce a satirical look at something so beyond the pale as to be funny, like, say, hearings over whether a professional athlete used performance-enhancing drugs? But when they actually do that, how the hell do you satirize it?

Who is making a mockery of the Congressional hearing process, Congressman Lynch? How about the Congress that decided to use the process on such a ridiculously frivolous topic as private use of steroids among adult athletes? Is this really what the framers meant, and what the ratifiers accepted, when they gave Congress the power to "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States?"

Let me just say that I don't think so...

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Imad Mughniyeh

This is good news.
When a man died in a bomb explosion late last night in Damascus, Syrian police kept media and other onlookers well away from the scene of the blast in the affluent Kfar Soussa district.

Syrian media, all of which falls under the direct or partial control of the regime, still hasn’t mentioned the incident, but Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV station in Lebanon today confirmed that the dead man is Imad Mughniyeh, one of their top commanders and one of the world’s most wanted terrorists.
Hezbollah has blamed Israel for assassinating Mughniyeh. Israel has not denied it.

That's the sort of thing that I wouldn't expect them to deny, whether they did it or not. Whoever did it, it's a good thing that it's been done.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wouldn't an AMERICAN flag be better...

... in the office of a candidate for the US Presidency than a Cuban flag with an image of Che on it?

Ye shall know them by their fruits.
- Mt 7:16

Not that Obama is directly responsible, of course. And not that he can be held responsible for all of his supporters - every candidate is going to attract support from those whom he would rather not be associated. But it is interesting that the standard leftist radical iconography is showing up in an Obama office. And the real question is, do you suppose that anyone else associated with the campaign would think to suggest that it might not be a good idea?

I suspect not. Which is the reason that it's a story. If it is. (Obviously, it won't be in the Obama propaganda operation mainstream press*.)

* - If it gets enough traction in the blogosphere, it may result in MSM stories about the radical-right-wing-haters-who-must-be-racist-to-oppose-Saint-Barack, but there won't ever be a story about the flag itself...

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Monday, February 11, 2008

I cannot disagree

The Baseball Crank's been looking at the Democratic primary, and has come to a conclusion: "This Democratic race really can't go on long enough, can it?" Nope, it can't. Nor could it happen to a more appropriate group...

Update: An idle thought - to really be fair to both women and blacks, shouldn't we let both Hillary and Barack run on the ballot in November rather than eliminating one of them in August?

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Not all cultures are equal

Female Muslim medical students is apparently not an oxymoron. But properly scrubbed female Muslim medical student appears to be.
Women training in several hospitals in England have raised objections to removing their arm coverings in theatre and to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands, because it is regarded as immodest in Islam. Universities and NHS trusts fear many more will refuse to co-operate with new Department of Health guidance, introduced this month, which stipulates that all doctors must be "bare below the elbow". The measure is deemed necessary to stop the spread of infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, which have killed hundreds....Documents from Birmingham University reveal that some students would prefer to quit the course rather than expose their arms, and warn that it could leave trusts open to legal action.

So what are the Brits going to do about it?

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Monday morning odds and ends...

  • Dan Shaughnessy had a piece in the Globe yesterday arguing that the various Red Sox debacles (1978, 1986, 2003) were bigger disasters than Super Bowl XLII. The wounds are still too fresh for me to go into this fully, which I expect I'll do some day (probably in therapy) but let me briefly address Dan's point.


    There has never been a "collapse"/"choke"/"disaster"/"disappointment" to match it. Certainly not in Boston pro sports. Never. Not no way, not no how. Not when the stakes are considered. No comparison.

  • An absolutely fantastic win for the Celtics yesterday, beating San Antonio without their starting power forward, starting center and backup center. I'd been looking forward to San Antonio as a measuring stick game, which it wasn't - there were too many important pieces missing on both sides - but it was a great win for the team anyway.

  • Does Nancy Pelosi even realize how foolish she sounds?

  • Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to put together a brief essay on Lewis' The Abolition Of Man and the apparently rapidly approaching end of Western Civilization in Great Britain. Here's a comment from The Way (which is the second of the three essays which makes up The Abolition of Man.):
    The practical result of education in the spirit of The Green Book must be the destruction of the society which accepts it.
    C.S. Lewis

    Lewis was a brilliant man, a great writer, a deep thinker, and something of a prophet...

  • I'm torn on the Clinton campaign. There's part of me that thinks that the sooner she's gone, the better. The rest of me is pretty sure that McCain can beat her in November, while Obama is a) likely to be just as bad a President and b) far likelier to win. I think that the best case, for Republicans and people concerned about National security, is for Hillary to win at the convention on the basis of superdelegates, alienating the members of the Obama cult of personality.

    I certainly could be wrong (and I usually am) but that would, I think, make for quite an entertaining spectacle, and a fatally wounded candidate.

  • Chris Lynch thinks that Curt Schilling's done. I wouldn't be surprised if he is, I wouldn't be surprised if made 10-12 starts after the All Star Game. If we've seen him for the last time, well, we saw great things from him.

    My concern is not that it leaves a big hole in the rotation, because I don't believe it does. But it leaves something of a hole, as I'm certain that they want to limit the innings of both Buccholz and Lester this year, and with Schilling gone, that will require more management. They remain, in my opinion, the best team in baseball, with or without him.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Truck day

Spring is coming.


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Friday, February 08, 2008

Today's global warming story

The Sun Also Sets:
Back in 1991, before Al Gore first shouted that the Earth was in the balance, the Danish Meteorological Institute released a study using data that went back centuries that showed that global temperatures closely tracked solar cycles.

To many, those data were convincing. Now, Canadian scientists are seeking additional funding for more and better "eyes" with which to observe our sun, which has a bigger impact on Earth's climate than all the tailpipes and smokestacks on our planet combined.

And they're worried about global cooling, not warming.

My reading of that is that the scientific debate is not, despite St. Al's protestations to the contrary, over...


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Thursday, February 07, 2008

What a Beautiful Day

Great music videos are mini-movies that match the song perfectly. This is a mini-movie that matches the song perfectly. One of my favorites...

I first saw this while flipping channels one night, and loved it the first time I saw it. An excellent song, and an excellent video.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Not to say that you're a moron, but...

Now this - this is a GREAT idea!
Twenty voters at a Far North Side precinct who found their ink pens not working were told by election judges not to worry.

It's invisible ink, officials said. The scanner will count it.

But their votes weren't recorded after all.

"Part of me was thinking it does sound stupid enough to be true," said Amy Carlton, who had serious doubts but went ahead and voted anyway.

Because let's be brutally honest here - do we really want to count the votes of someone stupid enough to actually buy that?

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The Lies of Tet

There's an important piece this morning from Arthur Herman in the Wall Street Journal about The lies of Tet.
The Tet offensive was Hanoi's desperate throw of the dice to seize South Vietnam's northern provinces using conventional armies, while simultaneously triggering a popular uprising in support of the Viet Cong. Both failed. Americans and South Vietnamese soon put down the attacks, which began under cover of a cease-fire to celebrate the Tet lunar new year. By March 2, when U.S. Marines crushed the last North Vietnamese pockets of resistance in the northern city of Hue, the VC had lost 80,000-100,000 killed or wounded without capturing a single province.

Tet was a particularly crushing defeat for the VC. It had not only failed to trigger any uprising but also cost them "our best people," as former Viet Cong doctor Duong Quyunh Hoa later admitted to reporter Stanley Karnow. Yet the very fact of the U.S. military victory -- "The North Vietnamese," noted National Security official William Bundy at the time, "fought to the last Viet Cong" -- was spun otherwise by most of the U.S. press.

The US military didn't lose in Vietnam - the US left and the US media did. Intentionally. And they're trying to do it again in Iraq.

It was a mistake then:
For over ten years, bombs rained down on every village and hamlet in South Vietnam, and no one budged. It took the coming of a Communist ‘peace’ to send hundreds of thousands of people out into the South China Sea, on anything that could float, or might float, to risk dehydration, piracy, and drowning.
- General Vernon Walters

It would be a mistake now.

I'll come back to this when I don't want to vote for John McCain in November. This is important, and on this issue, he's a great candidate...

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GOP nominee - John McCain

It's OVAH...

McCain is the Republican nominee. It could be McCain vs. Obama, though I think that McCain vs. Clinton is still (slightly) more likely. But the Republican race is over, and Mitt needs to get out with his dignity intact at some point.

That depresses me.

As much as he's done many things that offended me, however, McCain is still preferable to either of the other two. The world is still a dangerous place, and on the Government's primary responsibility, national security, he's vastly preferable. He's likely to be much better on taxes and the economy, as well, even if he's not what I'd like to see.

I do see it being important that he choose an actual conservative as a running mate. He needs the Republican base, he needs the conservative base, and he needs to do something to acknowledge them. He needs to give them a reason to vote for a McCain/Conservative ticket - "better than the alternative" won't beat Obama (though it might beat Hillary.)

But unless he's caught in bed "with a dead girl or a live boy," to use Edwin Edwards formulation, the Republican race ain't a race no more...

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Cassandra spoke

I wrote about the Patriots back in October. About the dominance they were demonstrating, about the lack of competitiveness in their games.

And said that "the name that I can't get out of my head right now is Icarus..."

Offered without further commentary.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Very likely to be the best line of the day...

LOL - Jonah Goldberg comments on an unfortunate headline:
Police: Crack Found In Man's Buttocks

Jonah's response?
And They Found Holes In His Nose Too

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Striking out the devil...

Well, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are so serious about the dropping of "Devil" that they've even asked the invaluable David Pinto to pony up.

No word on whether "Tampa Bay Fightin' Seaweed" is still acceptable...

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl XLII

I feel as if I owe my readers some commentary, loathe though I am to speak on the subject. So here are a few thoughts on a game which I'm apt to be reminded of far, far more often than I'd like in the future.

  • The Giants played really well. Congratulations to New York on an excellent game.

  • They were also sprinkled in fairy dust. Every time the ball hit the ground, they ended up with it. Pierre Woods recovered Manning's fumble in the first half, got rolled over with possession, and then had the ball stripped after having been downed, and the Giants got the ball back. Manning fumbled on the final drive, the Patriots came out of the pile with the ball, and for some reason, the Giants kept it.

  • I don't know why the play wasn't stopped on the throw to Tyree. And I don't know how he caught that ball.

  • And the Patriots played badly. The offensive line had their worst night of the year. I'm sure that Neal going out early didn't help. And Brady made a number of un-Brady like throws. Again, part of that was the pressure, but a lot of it was Brady having a bad night at the worst possible time.

  • Assante Samuel's going to make a lot of money this off-season, but he had the game-sealing interception go through his hands on the last Giant drive.

  • The most frustrating thing about last night may be the failure to eliminate the 1972 Dolphins as a storyline the next time someone starts out 8-0.

That game is going to be sickening for a long, long time...

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rave On

49 years ago today, Buddy Holly (along with Richie Valens and The Big Bopper) died in a plane crash.

He left some great music. I still can't hear "Oh Boy!" without grinning. His music and his life preceded mine, but it's easy to understand how he could inspire Don McLean to call February 3, "the day the music died..."

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Friday, February 01, 2008


Today, we see the latest example of the barbarism of the enemy.
Two mentally retarded women strapped with remote-control explosives—and possibly used as unwitting suicide bombers—brought carnage Friday to two pet bazaars, killing at 73 people in the deadliest day since Washington flooded the capital with extra troops last spring.
Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, Iraq's chief military spokesman in Baghdad, said the women had Down syndrome and may not have known they were on suicide missions. He said the bombs were detonated by remote control.

And there are still people who would say that it's all George Bush's fault.

Every single time something like this happens, it strengthens my belief that we need to be doing what we're doing in the Middle East. The existence of beings that would do that is a threat to everyone. Everywhere.

They must be stopped.

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On the plus side, this is time spent not raising taxes...

Once again, we witness the full flowering of Washingtonitis from Senator Arlen Specter:
In a phone interview Thursday with The New York Times, Specter said the committee at some point will call on Goodell to discuss why the league destroyed the tapes that revealed the Patriots had been spying on the competition.

"That requires an explanation," Specter told The Times. "The NFL has a very preferred status in our country with their antitrust exemption. The American people are entitled to be sure about the integrity of the game. It's analogous to the CIA destruction of tapes, or any time you have records destroyed."

I said it before, I'll say it again. "Does anyone else ever hear the phrase "contempt of congress" and wonder where to volunteer?" Consider this to be yet another expression of my contempt for this congress.

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More shocking football cheating!

Mike Francesa and Chris Russo talked with NFL Film's Steve Sabol on Thursday afternoon, and the topic of the Patriots' "spygate" game up. Sabol clearly didn't think it was a big deal, and shared a fantastic story about George Halas and the Bears.

For those who still want to maintain a state of high moral dudgeon that the Patriots would dare to film the opposing sideline, here's a transcript (the show can be heard here and the relevant section starts about 7 minutes in):
CR: Speaking of the espionage, was it possible to link up all the things that he was gonna do in that Jet game

SS: Nah...

CR: ...where he's gonna link up down and distance with formations...

SS: You know, that's a whole 'nother discussion, that this has been going on, this gaining an edge. If you give me a minute...

MF: Go ahead.

SS: George Halas, in the early 60's, the way you would study your opponent was exchanging game films, that's the way you would... So what Halas did, for two years, was that he would have two cameramen film the game. The way that I found out about this was when there was a fire in the Bears office, Halas called me up and said, "well, you guys save it, you can keep all this film." So we got buckets and baskets of this old film, we put it on - half of it was out of focus. What's going on here? How could you use this? It was all out of focus.

CR: That was his idea.

SS: Well, it laid there until finally Abe Gibron came by when he was scounting for the Seahawks. And we just go out to dinner and I said, "Abe, what about..." And he starts laughing. "Oh, you got the visitor's film."

So what Halas was doing, he'd hire two cameramen, one would shoot the game out of focus, and the other would shoot in focus, and he would send the out of focus to the next week's opponent. And Allie Sherman or someone would say, "hey, what's this, it's terrible." And Halas would say, "oh, yeah, that damn cameraman, I'm gonna fire the guy, he stinks."

And finally when Ken Cavanaugh went to the Giants and they played the Bears, it was in '61 or '62, Cavanaugh said, "I'm gonna talk to the old man and say, Hey George, knock off the crap with this out of focus - send us the real stuff." And that was the end of that.

But nobody made - I mean, here's the father of our game, purposely filming the game out of focus and sending it as the coaching tape to the other team.

It's a good listen (Sabol's always good, and he's been at every important NFL event since the Super Bowl era began), an amusing story, and, perhaps, a different perspective that some people might consider...

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