Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ship lost for more than 150 years is recovered - Yahoo! News

Very cool story...

Ship lost for more than 150 years is recovered
Canadian archeologists have found a ship abandoned more than 150 years ago in the quest for the fabled Northwest Passage and which was lost in the search for the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin, the head of the team said Wednesday.

Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada's head of underwater archaeology, said the HMS Investigator, abandoned in the ice in 1853, was found in shallow water in Mercy Bay along the northern coast of Banks Island in Canada's western Arctic.

That reminds me of this. Which reminds me of this...

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Health care law: the turmoil begins

There will be more of this. Much, much more. Hopefully, there's enough of it between now and November to enable more of it to be prevented down the road...

Health care law: the turmoil begins - Jacksonville Daily News

During the debates on federalized health care, there was no shortage of people projecting the negative consequences of such a policy. Those consequences are beginning to be realized.

Two of the country’s largest insurance providers, UnitedHealtcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield, already have stopped issuing new coverage for children and other plans.


Officials were quick to call this an “unintended consequence” of the federal health care law. Unintended it might be, but it certainly wasn’t unexpected.

Expect it to get worse. With two of the largest companies out of the pool, the risk will become more concentrated among those that remain. The incentives for other companies to bail out, then, will only increase.


We were warned about what would happen if we turned health care into yet another massive government bureaucracy. As those consequences begin to materialize we may express dismay or even anger. One thing we can’t honestly express, however, is surprise.

Of course, I'm not at all certain that this is, in fact, an unintended consequence. It is such an obvious consequence that it's much easier to believe that it is an intended consequence - it's not a bug, it's a feature! It is intended to drive us closer to the "holy grail" of socialized medicine - the single-payer universal health care that provides uniformly rotten rationed care for everyone, regardless of achievement or ability to pay.

Well, there will still be some who are able to "buy" better care than the great unwashed multitudes, but the currency will be pull, not legal tender...

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Hall of Fame Comps

One of my favorite current sportswriters - strike that, far and away my favorite current sportswriter - is Joe Posnanski, who is now blogging at This is a great piece, long but fun, and well worth the read. He's absolutely right - Hall of Fame comps make for interesting discussion. (He's also right that Dwight Evans was a better player than Jim Rice...)

Joe Posnanski - Hall of Fame Comps
One fairly useless (but enjoyable) thing to play is the “If THIS guy in the Hall of Fame then THIS guy should be in the Hall of Fame” game.


The reason this is fairly useless (but enjoyable) is that nobody really believes the Hall of Fame line is drawn at the most controversial choices. Nobody wants a Hall of Fame that includes every single player who was ever as good as or better than George Kelly or Herb Pennock. Then, suddenly, you find yourself arguing why Danny Darwin is not in the Hall of Fame, and nobody really wants to have THAT argument (except maybe Danny Darwin, I don’t know).

The opposite is true, too… if the Hall of Fame standard was Willie Mays and Walter Johnson as some want it to be, then there would be something like nine people in the Hall of Fame, and we would be arguing about whether or not, say, Bob Gibson belongs, or Rogers Hornsby.

As I say, it's a great read, as Joe's blog posts pretty much always are...

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Obamacare chart



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Our Divisive President

Our Divisive President:

During the election campaign, Barack Obama sought to appeal to the best instincts of the electorate, to a post-partisan sentiment that he said would reinvigorate our democracy. He ran on a platform of reconciliation—of getting beyond "old labels" of right and left, red and blue states, and forging compromises based on shared values.

President Obama's Inaugural was a hopeful day, with an estimated 1.8 million people on the National Mall celebrating the election of America's first African-American president. The level of enthusiasm, the anticipation and the promise of something better could not have been more palpable.

And yet, it has not been realized. Not at all.

Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.

More radical Republican criticism? Uh, no. That's from a piece by Patrick H. Caddell and Douglas E. Schoen, two lifelong Democratic operatives.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Mr. Obama's campaign emphasized repeatedly that his minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was being unfairly stereotyped because of racially incendiary sound bites that allegedly did not reflect the totality of his views. In the Gates incident and others, Mr. Obama has resorted to similar forms of stereotyping.

Even the former head of the Civil Rights Commission, Mary Frances Berry, acknowledged that the Obama administration has taken to polarizing America around the issue of race as a means of diverting attention away from other issues, saying: "the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. . . . Having one's opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness."

Now obviously, there's nothing the least bit surprising or revelatory here. This is what anyone who has watched has seen. But it's important that someone who isn't a Republican is willing to stand up and say it. The "racist" tag is so toxic, and played so quickly by the left, and supported so eagerly by the mainstream press, that it's almost impossible for a Republican to cut through the noise it creates. These guys are Democrats - maybe someone will listen...

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House Democrats head for a thumping at the polls

Michael Barone thinks that House Democrats head for a thumping at the polls:
Most signs suggest Democrats will take a thumping this year too.

To see why, take a look at the generic ballot question -- which party's candidate will you vote for in elections to the House? The current average shows Republicans ahead by 45 to 41 percent. Ten of this month's 15 opinion polls asking the question had Republicans ahead; Democrats led in four (twice by 1 percent), and one poll showed a tie.

Keep in mind that the generic ballot question historically has tended to underpredict Republican performance in off-year elections. Gallup has been asking the question since 1950 and has shown Republicans leading only in two cycles, 1994 and 2002, and then by less than the 7 and 5 points by which they won the popular vote for the House in those years.

So the Republicans' current lead in the generic ballot question suggests they may be on the brink of doing better than in any election since 1946, when they won a 245-188 margin in the House -- larger than any they've held ever since.

From Michael's keyboard to God's eyes...

Seriously, though, this is not a shocking suggestion. I called it last fall, a year out from the election.
While a year can be a long time in politics, there are enough members of Congress who are clearly "dead men walking" at this point that they know this is the chance, the only chance, to get this health care plan passed. If it doesn't go through this Congress, it isn't going to happen. A new session starts in January, and there's just no way on God's earth that something as unpopular as this plan looks to be happens during an election year. The stimulus has been an economic disaster, and, in retrospect, a public relations disaster. The "cash for clunkers" program isn't a laughing-stock in all areas and with all sections of the electorate, but it is with enough people that it's a net negative for the powers that be.

The Democrats may be able to keep the House of Representatives next November, but it's not a great bet, and they are almost assured of losing enough seats to make this kind of package impossible to pass again. The Democrats will almost certainly keep the Senate, but probably not with a filibuster-proof majority.

Nothing that's happened since I wrote that last October has changed the outlook for this coming November. Well, nothing's changed the direction of the outlook - if anything, the Democrats have made their situation much worse. At this point, I'll be surprised (and extremely upset) if the Republicans don't take back the house, and while they probably won't take the Senate, it's not out of the realm of possibility. Certainly, the filibuster-proof 60 will be long gone, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a 52-48 kind of Senate.

But there are still three months to go...

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Al Franken (D-ACORN), Sooper Genius...

Dems fear GOP oversight of Obama administration | Washington Examiner
"They'll implement a truly dangerous agenda," Franken said Saturday. "Everything is on the table, from repealing health care reform to privatizing Social Security." Not only will GOP lawmakers "punch loopholes in our regulations," they will also "shred the social safety net," while their "corporate backers" work to enact "an even more dangerous agenda."
Bad as all that might be, Franken suggested that a little-known Republican congressman from California is plotting something even worse. "Darrell Issa is planning to double his staff," Franken said, referring to the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "and embark on a witch hunt in hopes of bringing down the Obama administration."
A lot of Republicans chuckled when they heard that. Issa planning to double his staff? Well yes, that's what happens when a party takes over the House. Since 1995, the practice of the oversight committee has been to have a two-to-one ratio of majority to minority staff. When Democrats took control after winning the House in 2006, they doubled their staff, while the losing Republicans cut theirs in half. If Republicans win in 2010, they will double their staff and Democrats will cut theirs in half. That's the way it works.
Perhaps Franken, who has only been a senator for a year, and always with a big Democratic majority, doesn't know that.

And perhaps he knows and just doesn't care. After all, it's a really good base-rousing threat, isn't it?

Maybe Franken could try to scare his base with threats about the Republicans' indifference to the various health issues related to dihydrogen monoxide, too...

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Announcing Radical-in-Chief - Stanley Kurtz

A couple of weeks ago, I took issue with Thomas Frank over his contention that "socialist" was not an accurate label for President Barack Obama. Today, in The Corner, Stanley Kurtz has the announcement of his new book, Radical in Chief, which continues the background vetting that he was doing (and the mainstream press wasn't) during the 2008 Presidential campaign.
RADICAL-IN-CHIEF marshals a wide array of never-before-seen evidence to establish that the president of the United States is indeed a socialist. Tracing an unbroken thread of socialist activities and political partnerships, from Obama’s youth through his community organizing days and beyond, the book confirms that the president’s harshest critics have been right about his socialism all along.
Sounds like a good, albeit scary and sad, read...

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How much did the Sox miss Martinez?

*** Hideous Gruesomeness Warning ***

The following is not for the squeamish.
Some of you may want to avert your eyes.

On June 27, Victor Martinez left the Red Sox game in San Francisco with a broken thumb. Two games later, Jason Varitek went down with a broken foot, and the Sox were forced to scramble and fill in with Gustavo Molina, Dusty Brown and Kevin Cash. Martinez returned last night, and picked up one hit in four at-bats, and drove in a run.

This is relevant, because the following is what Boston catchers did in the 20 games following the Varitek injury:
Kevin Cash .149/.231/.149/.380
Dusty Brown .182/.182/.182/.364
Gustavo Molina .167/.167/.167/.333

Catchers .156/.217/.156/.374

HR - 0
RBI - 0

69 plate appearances, with as many strikeouts (15) as times reaching base safely (10 hits [all singles], four walks, one HBP.) Zero (0) extra base hits. More double plays than sacrifice flies, sacrifice bunts, stolen bases and RBI combined (ZERO [0]).

Unspeakably hideous, and a big part of the reason that the Red Sox are 8-12 in their last 20 games. How big a part? Well, the rest of the team (which was also playing replacements and slumping a bit) managed to create1 4.7 runs per 25 outs. When you add the catchers in, that drops down to about 3.4 runs per 25 outs.

The rest of the offensive players hit .279/.337/.458/.794. The catchers' performance dragged the team down to .248/.307/.382/.689.

1 - Bill James Runs Created (initial formula, I think)

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Paul Ryan - go get 'em!

Chris Matthews speaking to two Congressmen on the budget committee. One of them was very impressive, the other was ... not.

We need far more Paul Ryans and a lot fewer Joe Crowleys...

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Pythagorean Report - 7/26/2010

A 3-4 week that was, at times, dismal in the performance failure in individual areas, a week in which they played just well enough to lose, over and over again...

  • Well, here's the offense that had so many people scared during the offseason. As a team, they hit .248/.307/.382/.689 for the week, creating just 28 runs in 7 games. And they underperformed that, as they managed to score only 23.
  • They scored more than four runs only once in the seven games they played. They scored two or one in four of them.
  • Of the 15 players going to the plate for Boston this week, only two, Beltre and Youkilis, managed to reach base safely more than 35% of the time. And only three more, Cameron, Drew and Lowrie, managed 30%. It was a dismally dreary performance, where the bad hitters [Kevin Cash (.235/.278/.235/.513), Eric Patterson (.200/.273/.500/.773), Dusty Brown (.250/.250/.250/.500), Darnell McDonald (.125/.176/.188/.364)] were bad, and so were several of the good hitters [J.D. Drew (.222/.323/.333/.656), David Ortiz (.222/.290/.333/.624), Marco Scutaro (.222/.276/.370/.646)]. Just awful.
  • When the Red Sox initially signed Hideki Okajima, many stories intimated that he was "just a guy," and they'd signed him to have another player for Daisuke Matsuzaka to talk with in Japanese. Theo always indicated that they thought he was a good pitcher, but it's hard to believe that anyone expected what they got out of him in 2007. He had a very good season in 2008, though not as good, and was a better-than-average-but-nothing-special reliever in 2009. In 2010, he's been awful. The question that needs be asked and answered by the organization right now is this - is there any reason to suppose that they are going to be able to trust him in high-leverage situations from now through the end of the season? I don't see it, but I don't know what's going on in his performance that might be fixable. I do know this - their slow start significantly lessened their margin for error, and the injuries wiped out most of the rest of it. They cannot afford to lose many more winnable games using him in hopes of "fixing" him.
  • I suspect that, when the post-season starts, if the Red Sox are still playing, both Felix Doubront and Michael Bowden will be in the bullpen and on the active roster.
  • There are reasons for optimism, of course. These start with the rotation, where, with the exception of Buchholz, they had excellent performances all the way through this week. Buchholz' return showed some rust, but everyone else - most significantly, that includes Josh Beckett - was good, or better than good. Victor Martinez is going to be back tonight, removing one of the black holes. Pedroia and Ellsbury are probably both going to be back within the next two weeks. They are very likely to start August with just about their whole team healthy, and, when healthy, this is a team that is more-than-capable of going on a real strong run. They're six out in the loss column against Tampa, and, while you'd rather not be, that's a deficit that they're capable of closing if they play well.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - The offense was so pathetic that I almost decided not to bestow this award this week, but Adrian Beltre's .379/.419/.621/1.040 is worthy of recognition.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - There were several worthy candidated here. Matsuzaka had two good starts, Bard continues to shine, Lackey was outstanding in his start. Based on all of the circumstances, however, I'm going with Josh Beckett. Matsuzaka pitched as well twice, Lackey pitched better once, but this was Beckett's first start in over two months, and he was very good, allowing only one run in 5 2/3 innings of work.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/26/2010
New York5.49(1)4.18(4)0.623(1)603762352
Tampa Bay5.12(3)3.94(1)0.618(2)60375938-1
Los Angeles4.54(7)4.68(11)0.486(10)495252493
Kansas City4.35(10)5.19(13)0.419(12)415742561

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York10458
Tampa Bay9963

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York10260
Tampa Bay9963

Standings for the week
Tampa Bay5.67(2)4(7)0.654(2)42420
New York7.5(1)5.67(12)0.625(4)42420
Los Angeles4.67(6)4(7)0.57(7)3324-1
Kansas City4.14(7)7.43(14)0.256(13)25341

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White House backed release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi | The Australian

White House backed release of Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi
Correspondence obtained by The Sunday Times reveals the Obama administration considered compassionate release more palatable than locking up Abdel Baset al-Megrahi in a Libyan prison.

The intervention, which has angered US relatives of those who died in the attack

And any Americans who disapprove of freeing unrepentant terrorists, even those who didn't have relatives who died in the attack.
, was made by Richard LeBaron, deputy head of the US embassy in London, a week before Megrahi was freed in August last year on grounds that he had terminal cancer.

The document, acquired by a well-placed US source, threatens to
completely undermines US President Barack Obama's claim last week that all Americans were "surprised, disappointed and angry" to learn of Megrahi's release. [LPB - I corrected that sentence...]

Scottish ministers viewed the level of US resistance to compassionate release as "half-hearted" and a sign it would be accepted

Which it clearly was and has been.

But then, terrorism has never really been a big concern of this Ayers-befriending President of ours...

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fred Barnes: The Vast Left-Wing Media Conspiracy -

Fred Barnes, who was one of the people targeted in the Journolist archives that have been released, writes about it in the Wall Street Journal:
When I'm talking to people from outside Washington, one question inevitably comes up: Why is the media so liberal? The question often reflects a suspicion that members of the press get together and decide on a story line that favors liberals and Democrats and denigrates conservatives and Republicans.

My response has usually been to say, yes, there's liberal bias in the media, but there's no conspiracy. The liberal tilt is an accident of nature. The media disproportionately attracts people from a liberal arts background who tend, quite innocently, to be politically liberal. If they came from West Point or engineering school, this wouldn't be the case.


Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent proposed attacking Mr. Obama's critics as racists. He wrote:

"If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they've put upon us. Instead, take one of them—Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares—and call them racists. . . . This makes them 'sputter' with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction."

No one on JournoList endorsed the Ackerman plan. But rather than object on ethical grounds, they voiced concern that the strategy would fail or possibly backfire.


What was particularly pathetic about the scheme to smear Mr. Obama's critics was labeling them as racists. The accusation has been made so frequently in recent years, without evidence to back it up, that it has little effect. It's now the last refuge of liberal scoundrels.

It's good piece, but I'd beg to differ on that last point. It isn't the last refuge of liberal scoundrels - it's the first one. The race card is no longer trump, but it's the only card they've got left in their deck...

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When McCain picked Palin, liberal journalists coordinated the best line of attack

With the liberal mainstream media, it's always about the storyline. Always. Whatever fits gets printed, whatever doesn't gets ignored. But it's interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the storyline sometimes gets formulated...
In the hours after Sen. John McCain announced his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the last presidential race, members of an online forum called Journolist struggled to make sense of the pick. Many of them were liberal reporters, and in some cases their comments reflected a journalist’s instinct to figure out the meaning of a story.

But in many other exchanges, the Journolisters clearly had another, more partisan goal in mind: to formulate the most effective talking points in order to defeat Palin and McCain and help elect Barack Obama president. The tone was more campaign headquarters than newsroom.


Chris Hayes of the Nation wrote in with words of encouragement, and to ask for more talking points. “Keep the ideas coming! Have to go on TV to talk about this in a few min and need all the help I can get,” Hayes wrote.

Suzanne Nossel, chief of operations for Human Rights Watch, added a novel take: “I think it is and can be spun as a profoundly sexist pick. Women should feel umbrage at the idea that their votes can be attracted just by putting a woman, any woman, on the ticket no matter her qualifications or views.”

Mother Jones’s Stein loved the idea. “That’s excellent! If enough people – people on this list? – write that the pick is sexist, you’ll have the networks debating it for days. And that negates the SINGLE thing Palin brings to the ticket,” he wrote.

Another writer from Mother Jones, Nick Baumann, had this idea: “Say it with me: ‘Classic GOP Tokenism’.”


[Avi] Zenilman of Politico, a purportedly nonpartisan journalist, weighed in with tactical advice: “The experience attack is a stupid one. It’s absolutely the wrong tack — the tack that McCain took when he was losing, and that Hillary and Biden took all primaries.”

Joe Klein of Time stopped by with an update on the latest from his magazine: “We’re reporting that she actually supported the bridge to nowhere. First flub?”

Klein, who displayed an independent streak in other circumstances (“anybody who knows me knows I do my own thinking,” he said in a Wednesday interview), seemed to exude more partisanship that day than usual.

As the morning wore on into the afternoon, some on Journolist came to believe the Palin pick had been shrewd. Palin was coming off as appealing and a maverick, they worried.

“Okay, let’s get deadly serious, folks. Grating voice or not, ‘inexperienced’ or not, Sarah Palin’s just been introduced to the country as a brave, above-party, oil-company-bashing, pork-hating maverick ‘outsider’,” Kilgore said, “What we can do is to expose her ideology.”

Ryan Avent, then blogging for the Economist and now an editor there, agreed that criticizing Palin’s experience might not work. “I really don’t think the experience argument needs to be made by the Dems. It’s completely obvious to any reasonable person. Instead, hammer away at the fact that she has terrible positions on things like choice, and on the fact that she has no ideas on the issues important to people,” he wrote.

Some of these people are acknowledged partisans. Joe Klein's an opinion writer, and certainly, people reading Mother Jones or The Nation knows they're going to get leftist positions. But surely there's a presumption that they're getting those people's own independent analysis, rather than regurgitated groupthink.

None of this is, of course, surprising in the least. It is amusing to actually see it get printed, though...


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

North Shore Music Theatre

The North Shore Music Theatre, a wonderful little theatre in the round in Beverly, MA, has re-opened after being dark for a year. The first production they did was the classic Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim musical Gypsy, starring TV vet Vicki Lewis.

We saw it last week, and it was an excellent production of a great show. It runs through the weekend. Upcoming shows for the fall include A Chorus Line, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and then they'll have their traditional staging of A Christmas Carol in December.

And it's great to have the theatre open again.

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Abortion, Third-Party Payer, and the Cost of Health Care

Abortion, Third-Party Payer, and the Cost of Health Care:
A major problem with America’s health care system, both before and after Obamacare, is the fact that consumers very rarely spend their own money when obtaining health care. Known as third-party payer, this problem exists in part because government directly finances almost 50 percent of health care expenditures. But even a majority of supposedly private health care spending is financed by employer-provided policies that are heavily distorted by a preference in the tax code that encourages insurance payments even for routine expenses. According to government data, only 12 percent of health care costs are financed directly by consumers. And since consumers almost always are buying health care with somebody else’s money, it should come as no surprise that this system results in rising costs and inefficiency. This is why repealing Obamacare is just the first step that is needed if policymakers genuinely want to restore a free market health care system...

I've said this before, I know, but it's the kind of thing that cannot be said often enough. I have insurance on my house, but when I need to re-shingle the roof or replace a window, I don't file a claim. The insurance is there for catastrophic events. I have insurance on my car, but if I get the oil changed or replace the battery or the tires or the alternator, I don't file a claim. The insurance is there for catastrophic events.

Well, why is health insurance different? Why, when I go in to have my yearly physical, doesn't the doctor just charge me a price that we negotiate beforehand, and have me pay it? Why is an insurance company involved? Why, when my child has strep throat and needs an antibiotic, is the insurance company involved? The insurance should be there for things that are, well, catastrophic. The stuff that requires big expenses, the conditions that most people don't get most of the time.

The disconnect between the consumer of services and the actual cost of services is one of the largest drivers, if not the single largest driver, of rising costs in the American health care system. The people who supported Obamacare due to fear of "spiraling costs" supported the worst thing that could happen to health care costs.

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JournoList: Is 'call them racists' a liberal media tactic?

JournoList: Is 'call them racists' a liberal media tactic?
Excerpts published Tuesday by a conservative online news site suggest that a group of journalists from the mainstream media discussed ways to shield Barack Obama from criticism during the 2008 presidential election.

Among the strategies put forward: call conservative critics racists.


The Daily Caller writes that Spencer Ackerman, then of the Washington Independent, "urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama's relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama's conservative critics, Mr. Ackerman wrote, 'Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares – and call them racists.' "
Think about that, the next time someone frets about the "racism" of the tea party movement. Where does that idea come from? It comes from the media. Why does it come from the media? Because it's about the only page that they've got left in their playbook. "Hey, let's call them racists!"

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Obama: Mr. Incredible

Obama: Mr. Incredible
When critics of the legislation alleged during the debate that the enforcement of its many provisions would vastly increase the power of the IRS and empower tax collectors to go where they had never gone before, administration spokesmen reacted in outrage. The president’s critics, they charged, were not just wrong, but lying to scare people.

It turns out that the critics were dead right and that if there was any lying going on, they weren’t the guilty ones.
The great tragedy of Obamacare isn't that it's going to significantly damage the healthcare system - it's that it was obvious beforehand, and millions of people said so, over and over, loudly, and begged with them not to do it, and they went ahead and did it anyway. For many of us, that one bill will feed our desires to say "I told you so" for the rest of our lives...

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Coyotes in the State of Nature - Kevin Williamson - National Review Online

Coyotes in the State of Nature - Kevin Williamson - National Review Online
Just as state schooling is not about education, but about the state, gun control is not about guns: It’s about control. A citizen who can fend for himself when the predators come or the schools fail is less inclined to look to the state for sustenance and oversight in other areas of life. To progressives, that’s an invitation to anarchy. To the men who wrote the Second Amendment, it was a condition of citizenship in a free republic. It’s what free men did, and do.

Excellent piece - read it all...


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Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Pythagorean Report - 7/19/2010

So they came out of the All Star break with a 1-3 week that was one out away from matching the absolute worst-case scenario.

  • As it was a short week, all the numbers are even less meaningful than the normal week numbers.
  • The Red Sox pitching was 8th in the AL for the week, allowing 5.25 runs per game, but when you look at the pitching list, almost everyone has a pretty good ERA. How does that happen? This way - Tim Wakefield and Fernando Cabrera allowed 10 runs (9 earned) in 3 1/3 innings of work. The other twelve pitchers who took the mound allowed 11 runs (8 earned) in 34 2/3 innings of work.
  • Of course, the offense was more like Wakefield and Cabrera (i.e., bad) than the rest of the staff, hence the 1-3 mark. The defense didn't help, either. The Rangers gift-wrapped the winning run for Boston on Saturday night, and the Sox returned the favor by giving the Rangers a couple of them on Sunday.
  • One of the Sox strengths this season has been offense from the catcher's position. But. Since Varitek broke his foot, leaving the Red Sox with their top four catchers in the organization all on the DL, they've gotten a combined .103/.186/.103/.289 from the replacements. By way of comparison, NL pitchers are hitting .152/.187/.190/.377. Tough to score many runs when you've got that occupying one of your lineup spots.
  • There is good news on the horizon. Buchholz and Beckett will return this week. Bowden's first 'pen appearance was an unqualified success. Victor Martinez is swinging a bat, and probably less than two weeks away. Pedroia's probably only three weeks away. Barring further injury, they should have their team back together, pretty much, before the middle of August. They're still very much in the race, certainly for the Wild Card, but even for the division.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Kevin Youkilis, who hit .467/.471/.667/1.138, and knocked in the game tying and game winning runs in the 9th and 11th on Saturday, to come out of his slump. Too bad everyone else went into one...
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - John Lackey, who gave up only two runs in seven, both of which scored on weak flares, in a game in which his offense was facing Cliff Lee, leaving no room for error. They went on to win the game.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/19/2010
New York5.36(1)4.08(2)0.623(1)573458331
Tampa Bay5.09(4)3.93(1)0.616(2)56355536-1
Los Angeles4.54(9)4.73(11)0.481(10)464950454
Kansas City4.36(10)5.02(13)0.436(11)40513952-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York10359
Tampa Bay9864

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York10260
Tampa Bay9963

Standings for the week
Los Angeles4.75(9)3.25(4)0.667(5)31310
Tampa Bay6.33(2)6.33(12)0.5(7)2112-1
New York6.33(2)6.33(12)0.5(7)21210
Kansas City4(10)6.67(14)0.282(11)1203-1

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

The essence of capitalism...

Find a need, and fill it!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Socialist or not a socialist?

Thomas Frank in the Wall Street Journal today demonstrates, again, his fundamental disconnectedness from reality.
There was lots of bad news for Democrats in a poll released last week by Democracy Corps, the well-known liberal consultancy, but the factoid that captured my attention was an item buried deep in the report. After recording likely voters' views on whether President Barack Obama could be described as "too liberal" or "a big spender," the pollsters found that fully 55% of them believed the term "socialist" fit the president well.

An immediate objection: No, it doesn't.
An immediate counter-assertion: Yes, it does.

But don't take my word for it. Instead of arguing by assertion here, let's go to the dictionary and find a definition. Here's the OED:
A theory or system of social organization based on state or collective ownership and regulation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange for the common benefit of all members of society; advocacy or practice of such a system, esp. as a political movement. Now also: any of various systems of liberal social democracy which retain a commitment to social justice and social reform, or feature some degree of state intervention in the running of the economy.
Yeah, works for me. Does any of that fit President Obama well? Decide for yourself, but don't assert that "it doesn't" and expect me to just acquiesce. I think it fits him just fine.
If the president were actually a socialist in the Western European sense,
Well hold on right there, Mr. Frank. You're changing the terms of the discussion. Did the poll ask if the term "socialist in the Western European sense" fit the president well? No it did not. So you're engaged in changing the terms of the discussion in order to argue that the people calling the president a socialist are, what? Uneducated? Ill-bred? Stupid? Certainly, starting this way reeks of attempted marginalization. Based on my prior understanding of your work, Mr. Frank, this surprises me not even a little bit.
he would certainly have pushed for single-payer health care,
Well, he would have if he were a socialist and an idiot. There was no way that the US Congress was going to pass a single-payer plan last year, so he did the much smarter thing, and passed a plan that puts the US on a road in which a single-payer plan is inevitable, because the insurance companies are going to be essentially regulated out of existence. The fact is, he's in favor of single-payer, he's said so many times over the years, and the public option that he did push for is a trojan horse designed to lead to it. A smart and patient socialist is still a socialist.
he would surely have gotten tough with the banks during the financial crisis,
Instead of doing...what, exactly? Co-opting them, increasing regulation of them, publically threatening them? He's not a dictator, Mr. Frank. In order to "get tough with the banks" he needs to have laws and regulations to work with. They're going to vote, and apparently pass, just such laws this week, and write scores of thousands of pages of new regulations.
and he would undoubtedly have launched a massive program of public works instead of last year's halfhearted stimulus package.
Again, there's an enormous difference between "socialist" and "all-powerful socialist dictator." The idea that the President, if he were inclined, could just will into existence a "massive program of public works" without laws being passed, and funds being allocated, by the Congress is the kind of notion that arouses Tom Friedman, but it isn't reality. (And I'll just ignore, for now, the description of the "stimulus" bill as "halfhearted." "Ill-advised," "poorly-conceived," "pork-laden," yes. "Halfhearted?" What, do you think we'd be in better shape now if the government had spent more money that we don't have?)

So the fact that the things that the president has done are less extreme measures than might qualify as "true" or "full" "socialism" in your mind, Mr. Frank, says nothing whatsoever about his attitudes or opinions, and are worthless as arguments against the charge of "socialism." Politics is the art of the possible. If you want to claim that "socialist" doesn't fit the president well, it isn't enough to say, "he did x and y would be more socialist." You've got to be able to say that "he did x and y, which was also possible would be more socialist." You've done nothing of the kind here. Your defense is akin to saying that a man who broke a bank window at night, smashed a couple of cash registers, took the money from the cash drawers, and ran away, isn't a fit for the term "bank-robber" because he didn't bring dynamite to blow open the safe.
Instead he consistently chooses solutions that a more innocent age called "market-oriented," always while seeking to placate this industry or that.
Wait a minute - you mean a politician played politics?

Hmm... No, that doesn't seem to make your argument any more compelling.
Yesterday he even appointed a former hedge fund manager to run his Office of Management and Budget.
And that proves that he's not a socialist, exactly? And if we're going to play the "he appointed" game, how about Van Jones? And what does the recess appointment of Donald Berwick say? Socialist or not a socialist?
Another thing to consider: The pollsters didn't define the word "socialist." Many Americans, in my experience, think it means someone who supports basic welfare-state provisions like unemployment insurance, Medicare and Social Security -- a standard by which socialism is immensely popular and most politicians fit the description.
In my experience, there are two kinds of Americans.
  1. Those who don't think of unemployment insurance, Medicare and Social Security as "socialism."
  2. Those who do think of unemployment insurance, Medicare and Social Security as "socialism," and strongly disapprove.
I suspect that the number in either group who would profess to be "socialists" or look favorably on "socialism" is, if not vanishingly small, then at least much smaller than you think it is.
Even so, the news must please the right. For almost two years now, their favorite entertainers and wise men have been trying to make "socialism" the political curse-word of the day, the mark of the ideological alien, and now here comes confirmation that their improbable crusade has partially succeeded.
Did you ever notice that, when you buy a new car, you start seeing a lot of them on the highway? Your perception of that car changes, and you become aware of it, and you notice it every time you see one, whereas before, it was just another car. I think, Mr. Frank, that your perception of the "socialist" accusation is heightened, because you are afraid that he really is one, and you know that you really are one, and you know that the American people don't approve, so you shun the label. I haven't seen any evidence of a "crusade" to label Obama a socialist.
The John Birch Society could never persuade the public that President Eisenhower was really a communist agent, but this time the trick has worked -- and even without the Soviets around to give the thing a modicum of plausibility.
If it's that implausible, then this should be a very easy question for you, but let me just ask this: in what ways has Barack Obama demonstrated that he is less of a "socialist" than the Senator from Vermont, avowed "socialist" Bernie Sanders?


Yes, you're right, there are no ways. If Bernie Sanders is a socialist, then so is Barack Obama (and at least half of the current Democratic congressional delegation.)

There's more, but what's the point? He goes on to say the same thing, over and over again, with the same evidence (none) over and over again. It's a waste of time.

But I read it, so you don't have to...

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Pythagorean Report - 7/12/2010

Into the break on a 2-4 week that was disappointing, but would have been more disappointing if it hadn't been so obviously predictable and understandable.

  • Not everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. But enough has gone wrong to make their current position (five out in the east, three out in the Wild Card) both understandable and not that bad. This remains, when healthy, a good-to-great team, and if they get healthy fairly soon, still has an excellent shot of playing post-season baseball. And once the post-season starts, of course, anything can happen.
  • Through the All Star break, over 15% of the Red Sox at-bats have gone to their bench players who started the season with them, and over 12% more have gone to players who weren't with them when the season started. Less than 72% of the at-bats have gone to their starting offensive nine. By way of contrast, it looks to me as if the Rays have gotten about 80% of their at-bats from their starters, and the Yankees nearly 82%.
  • The Red Sox have had 17 starts go to other than their top five starters. The Yankees have had two. The Rays have had none.
  • If the Red Sox miss the post-season, the timing of their series with Tampa will have a lot to do with it. The Rays swept a four game series in April when the Red Sox were without two starting outfielders but hadn't replaced them on the roster, so they were short-handed. And they swept a three-game series in Tampa when they faced Boston's 5-6-7 starters with their 1-2-3, while the Sox were also missing their left fielder, second baseman, 1st and 2nd string catchers AND Youkilis went out in early in a game. If Boston were 2-5 in those two series instead of 0-7, they'd have a one-game lead in the Wild Card race right now instead of being three games back.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Mike Cameron, who hit .429/.471/.857/1.328 with two HR on the week, beats out David Ortiz, who had a higher OBP, but less power and no defensive value.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - The best starter was Lester, and I've no objection to giving the award pretty much every week, but his one outing was good, not great, as he allowed two runs in only six innings of work. The rest of the starters were, of course, worse. So this becomes a bullpen week, if there's a candidate, which there is. Daniel Bard gave up only one hit and no walks while striking out three in three innings of work over two games, and he's the pitcher of the week this week.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/12/2010
New York5.33(2)4(2)0.628(1)553356321
Tampa Bay5.05(4)3.85(1)0.621(2)55335434-1
Los Angeles4.53(8)4.79(11)0.474(10)434847444
Kansas City4.38(10)4.97(12)0.442(11)394939490

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York10359
Tampa Bay9963

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York10260
Tampa Bay10062

Standings for the week
New York4.71(7)1.71(1)0.864(2)61610
Tampa Bay4.71(7)3.86(3)0.591(4)43612
Kansas City4(12)6.17(12)0.312(12)24331
Los Angeles2(14)6.29(14)0.11(14)16160

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Friday, July 09, 2010

"We also dream..."

We were lucky to have him...

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

"And all happened as it had been foretold..."

From the Monday Pythagorean Report
I have a very bad feeling about this week. Frankly, taking 2 out of 3 in Tampa would exceed my expectations, and taking 1 out of 3 would be almost a relief. I very much fear a sweep.

Sadly (but not eerily) prescient.

Not that it was all that tough a call. They faced Tampa's 1, 2 and 3 starters with their own 5, 6 and 7 starters, and without their second baseman, catcher and left fielder. Not really a shock, I'm afraid.

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Just got the call from Theo Epstein...

The Red Sox are down to me on the depth chart. Unfortunately, I'm already on the DL, so they had to look elsewhere...

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Joseph Rago: The Massachusetts Health-Care 'Train Wreck'

Joseph Rago: The Massachusetts Health-Care 'Train Wreck' -
President Obama said earlier this year that the health-care bill that Congress passed three months ago is "essentially identical" to the Massachusetts universal coverage plan that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law in 2006. No one but Mr. Romney disagrees.

As events are now unfolding, the Massachusetts plan couldn't be a more damning indictment of ObamaCare. The state's universal health-care prototype is growing more dysfunctional by the day, which is the inevitable result of a health system dominated by politics.
Woo-hoo! Obamacare will save us all!

The Massachusetts health-care debacle is the biggest single impediment to the Mitt Romney 2012 candidacy. I like Mitt, and would vote for him, but he's got to concede that this has been a disaster instead of defending it and trying to claim that there are substantial and significant differences between what he signed and what Obama signed. I don't believe it's a makeable case.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010


What do the following players:
Kevin Cash
Niuman Romero
Felix Doubront
Daniel Nava
Eric Patterson
have in common?

a) None of them were on the Red Sox roster when the current season started
b) They're each in the lineup right now as the Red Sox struggle to score runs and stay in the AL East and Wild Card races.


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Injury stacking on the Red Sox

A commenter over at Baseball Musings goes through the exercise of downplaying the Red Sox current injury situation.

I disagreed:

Wow. Just wow. Nice minimization.

“Remember, it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality of injuries, and the depth behind the injured players.”

Well, their top four catchers are hurt right now. How many teams have a quality Major League fifth catcher?

They’ve played virtually the entire season without one of their starting outfielders and about 1/2 of the season without another of their starting outfielders and their fourth outfielder. One of the consequences is that they’ve got a .231/.301/.386/.687 line from their left-fielders and a .251/.309/.383/.692 line from their center fielders. That’s far below what they projected and expected before the season began.

Wakefield’s been OK, but to say that there’s been no impact from losing a healthy Beckett is just silly. Last year, Beckett had a 1.84 ERA in 8 starts between May 19 and July 6, despite a bad start similar to this year’s. This year he’s been on the DL for that stretch, and Wakefield’s started those 8 games with a 4.70 ERA AND five more innings of work for the bullpen. Yes, Wakefield’s filled in admirably. But he’s not a healthy Josh Beckett.

Manny Delcarmen had thrown 32 1/3 innings of 2.23 ERA ball before he got hurt. He had three terrible outings on his way to the DL, but was very effective before that. If he’s out for two weeks, that probably costs them 6-7 innings, not three, and it shifts innings to less effective relievers at a time when the starting staff is still short. These things add up.

The fact is, they are playing the last nine games before the All Star Break, six of which are on the road against good division opponents, without their:
Opening day starter
Opening day left fielder and lead-off hitter
Opening day second baseman and 2nd hitter
Opening day catcher and 3rd hitter
Number two catcher
Number three starter
First middle relief pitcher
Fourth outfielder

You can play all of the semantic games you want to pretend that any of those have “minimal impact,” but the cumulative effect is very large. They are playing a big series against a playoff rival with a skeleton crew. They’re not whining about it, and they shouldn’t but this isn’t the team they started the season with, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. The last straw doesn’t have to be any bigger than the straws that didn’t break the camel’s back – it’s the cumulative effect of all of them.

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Monday Pythagorean Report - 7/5/2010

A 3-2 week with a couple of missed opportunities, and the continued swelling of the disabled list...

  • The injury stacks have officially become ridiculous. When the season starts, a team needs to have extra players at every position, because injuries happen. You need to be prepared for them. But when three of your top four outfielders are simultanously on the DL, that's tough to prepare for. And that's nothing compared to what's happened at catcher. They had two Major League backup catchers on their AAA roster in Pawtucket, and they both got hurt. And then their starting catcher went down. And then Varitek went down, too, leaving them with the top four catchers in the organization injured. There's no amount of rational preparation that gets a team ready to handle that.
  • I don't get the Eric Patterson move. I didn't get it when they made it a week ago, now having watched him start four games this week, I really don't get it. We're talking about a 27 year-old with a career .223/.302/.336/.638 line (OPS+ of 71) who started three games in left field this week. If there's anything about Eric Patterson that cries out "Major Leaguer" or even "adequate injury back-up" it utterly escapes me.
  • I didn't get the Kevin Cash move when they made it on Thursday. Friday's addition of Varitek to the DL explained it.
  • I have a very bad feeling about this week. Frankly, taking 2 out of 3 in Tampa would exceed my expectations, and taking 1 out of 3 would be almost a relief. I very much fear a sweep. I'm not predicting it, but I don't much care for any of the pitching match-ups. How bad are they? The best one may be tonight, Matsuzaka vs. Garza.
  • How much can you expect from a lineup with Eric Patterson, Kevin Cash, Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall sprinkled throughout?
  • Red Sox Player of the Week: - J.D. Drew was hot, hitting .417/.533/1.000/1.533, but only played in four of the five games (15 PA). Going to go with David Ortiz, who hit .333/.455/.722/1.177 in 22 PA.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week: - And the winner is, again, Jon Lester, who has been dominant since the third week of the season, much as he was for most of 2009. Since April 18, he's started 14 games with an ERA of 1.84 in 98 innings of work. He's allowed either zero (4) or one (5) runs in nine of those 14 starts, and allowed more than two runs only twice. This week, it was one start, one run in seven innings, with seven more strikeouts.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 7/5/2010
Tampa Bay5.07(4)3.85(1)0.623(1)51304833-3
New York5.38(2)4.2(4)0.612(2)503150310
Los Angeles4.74(5)4.67(11)0.507(6)434146383
Kansas City4.4(9)4.88(12)0.453(11)37453646-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York10062
Tampa Bay9666
Los Angeles8973

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York10062
Tampa Bay9963

Standings for the week
Los Angeles4.33(6)3(2)0.662(2)4233-1
Tampa Bay5.83(1)4.67(8)0.601(4)42420
New York4.5(5)5.17(12)0.437(10)33330
Kansas City3.17(12)4.17(7)0.377(12)24422

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Boston Celebrates July 4th - Video - WCVB Boston

Boston Celebrates July 4th - Video - WCVB Boston
The Sunset Parade at the USS Constitution. Check out the young man carrying the American flag at 1:25 into the clip.

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