Saturday, February 27, 2010

Almost over...

Today is one of the noteworthy days of the year.

It is the last Saturday without Major League Baseball games until the playoffs are over.

We make it through today, we've made it through another winter...

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Reminder: Francis Collins

A reminder to everyone in the Boston area - Dr. Francis Collins will be speaking at Park Street Church at all four services tomorrow, 8:30, 11:00, 4:00 and 6:00.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Wordle puzzle - 02/26/10

19th century British.



The answer to last week's puzzle is Walden, by Henry David Thoreau.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gosh, I wish I could be watching...

Geraghty's take on the health care kabuki:
The Democrats are offering a lot of anecdotes about Baby Jesus, Steny Hoyer's answering machine, and the teeth of the dead. Obama is at his least persuasive; he keeps ruling GOP arguments out of bounds for one reason or another - don't hold up a copy of the bill, don't cite Washington because people are angry at Washington right now, don't ask for equal time, don't focus on where we disagree, don't remind me of what I said as candidate. I don't think that transforms the skeptics into supporters.

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Whose ox is that?

Wait a minute, whose ox is being gored?



Many of you will remember that I was in favor of the "nuclear option," and point out my hypocrisy for pointing out their hypocrisy. But I was in favor of the nuclear option only on judicial nominations. The Constitution gives the President, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, the power to appoint judges. I believed that all Presidential nominations were entitled to a Yes/No vote in the Senate and I still believe it1.

Legislation is different.

So that's my defense. How does Barack Obama or Chuck Schumer or Harry Reid, given the comments that they made four years ago, justify ramming through this wildly unpopular, hugely expensive and transformative legislature on a simple majority partisan basis after their paeans to the Senate's function as a bulwark against anti-majoritarian tyranny?



1 - I also suggested that the filibuster on judges was a restriction which effectively applied only to Republican Presidents, as a Democratic President attempting to seat a judge with more than 50 but fewer than 60 Democratic votes would have the full support of the media as they changed the rules to do away with the filibuster. Watching the lack of outrage as the media contemplates the Democrats using "reconciliation" to force through Obamacare, is there any doubt that that's true?

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ObamaCare at ramming speed...

A fine editorial Tuesday from the Wall Street Journal, ObamaCare at Ramming Speed
So after election defeats in Virginia, New Jersey and even Massachusetts, and amid overwhelming public opposition, Democrats have decided to give the voters what they don't want anyway.

Ah, the glory of "progressive" governance and democratic consent.

"The President's Proposal," as the 11-page White House document is headlined, is in one sense a notable achievement: It manages to take the worst of both the House and Senate bills and combine them into something more destructive. It includes more taxes, more subsidies and even less cost control than the Senate bill. And it purports to fix the special-interest favors in the Senate bill not by eliminating them—but by expanding them to everyone.

...

The coercive flavor that animates this exercise is best captured in the section that purports to accept the Senate's "grandfather clause" allowing people who like their current health plan to keep it. Except that "The President's Proposal adds certain consumer protections to these 'grandfathered' plans. Within months of legislation being enacted, it requires plans . . . prohibits . . . mandates . . . requires . . . the President's Proposal adds new protections that prohibit . . . ban . . . and prohibit . . . The President's Proposal requires . . ." After all of these dictates, no "grandfathered" plan will exist.

...

The larger political message of this new proposal is that Mr. Obama and Democrats have no intention of compromising on an incremental reform, or of listening to Republican, or any other, ideas on health care. They want what they want, and they're going to play by Chicago Rules and try to dragoon it into law on a narrow partisan vote via Congressional rules that have never been used for such a major change in national policy. If you want to know why Democratic Washington is "ungovernable," this is it.
We know that there's no one in this administration who ever ran a business or even worked in the private sector. It's becoming more and more clear that no one ever studied economics, either.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

RIP Mosi Tatupu

Sad and shocking news:
Mosi Tatupu, a fullback and special teams ace for the Patriots for 13 season, died at the age of 54.

Tatupu, a native of America Samoa who played 13 seasons for the Patriots, died Tuesday, but the cause of death was not known, according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Barry Markowitz, a family friend, told the Star-Bulletin, "He had some health issues."

...

Tatupu played in 202 NFL games, including Super Bowl XX, when the Patriots lost to the Bears 46-10. He had 18 career touchdowns.

He had his own cheering section at Patriots home games, "Mosi's Mooses."
Wow. That's very young, even for a former football player. I was a Mosi fan, but pretty much all Patriots fans were - there was no reason not to be, and he was a guy who seemed to get the most out of his abilities. Very sad story.

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Schmitt on AGW

Harrison Schmitt is a geologist and a former Senator from New Mexico. He's also the last man to have stepped on to the surface of the moon1 (until the next one). And he has a great article this morning about the earth's climate and the AGW movement.

Global surface and near surface temperatures have risen about half a degree Centigrade (about 0.9 degree Fahrenheit) each 100 years since the minimum temperatures of the Little Ice Age in 1660. Multi-decade intervals of more rapid warming and cooling have occurred during this current, centuries-long general warming trend as they have for over 10,000 years since the last major ice age.

Indeed, by the end of the 17th century, glaciers had advanced over valley farmlands cultivated as those same glaciers receded during the preceding Medieval Warm Period (about 800-1300). Since the last major ice age, decades long periods of warming and cooling have been superposed on longer cycles, the longest repeating about every 1500 years.

All of this has occurred without any significant human activity. Cooling between 1935 and 1975 and since 2000, and warming between 1975 and 1995 have been the most recent such variations and correlate strongly with variations in solar activity.

In contrast to these facts, climate change assumptions and computer modeling, rather than real-world observations, underpin the government’s efforts to restrict American liberties and confiscate trillions of dollars of American income in the name of “doing something” about climate change. The scientific rationale behind this proposed massive intrusion into American life requires more than a “consensus” of like-minded climate analysts and bureaucrats. It needs to be right.

Recent disclosures and admissions of scientific misconduct by the United Nations and advocates of the human-caused global warming hypothesis shows the fraudulent foundation of this much-ballyhooed but non-existent scientific consensus about climate.
Go ahead and read the whole thing...



1 - None of that, of course, should cause anyone to listen to what he has to say on this topic. People should listen to what he has to say because he's right...

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Not the Churchill quote I was looking for, but...

Why have I never seen this before? From an AP report, January 29, 1950:
Winston Churchill had a new word Saturday for the Socialists' goal - Queuetopia.

Labor Party Socialists have promised children will be at the head of the queue in social services, the Conservative leader said, adding:

"Why should queues become a permanent, continuous feature of our life? Here we see clearly what is in their minds. The Socialist dream is no longer of Utopia, but Queuetopia."
Queuetopia! I love it!

And it's still relevant. That's what the NHS is for the British people, and that's what Obamacare would usher in for Americans.

What a great word. I expect that I'll be using it again...

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dr. Francis Collins

For the past 16 months or so, Park Street Church has been celebrating its 200th anniversary. Founded in 1809 at the corner of Park and Tremont Streets in Boston, it is located between the Granary Burying Ground and Boston Common, and has been home to many historic events. The pulpit of Park Street Church is where William Lloyd Garrison gave his first abolitionist sermon, for one example.

Anyway, we've had, over the past year-plus, a special speaker series, where about once a month someone comes in from outside to preach. The list reads includes the likes of NT Wright, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias and Franklin Graham, as well as former Red Sox pitcher Justin Masterson and former Patriot Grant Williams.

This coming Sunday, February 28, 2010, the speaker series comes to an end with Dr. Francis Collins, former director of the National Institute of Health and the man who led the Human Genome Project which mapped the human genome. Dr. Collins is a high-level scientist, an expert in biology and human DNA, and a believer. For anyone at all interested in, or curious about, the issues related to the intersection of science and faith, this is an excellent opportunity to hear some of your questions discussed. Anyone is welcome, so if you're in the greater Boston area on Sunday and interested in the topic, well, come on down. Services are at 8:30, 11:00, 4:00 and 6:00.


next speaker: Francis Collins [February 28, 2010]
8:30 & 11 am and 4 & 6 pm


CollinsWebPark Street is pleased to have Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health and previous Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, as the last speaker in our bicentennial series. Collins has led the effort to decode human DNA, along the way developing a revolutionary method of screening genes for disease. Yet according to Collins, the newfound power to “read our own instruction book” is no obstacle to faith in the existence of God.


“In the 21st century, increasingly shrill voices announce that atheism or religious fundamentalism are the only world view choices available. Reflective people should challenge that. An entirely harmonious synthesis of the truths of science and the truths of the Christian faith is not only possible, but deeply satisfying."
 
Collins claimed his faith in his late twenties through a quest to find truth and evidence. Converting to Christianity from atheism, he remarks that Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, helped confront the question of God’s existence, yet more importantly, Collins found the evidence he had been longing to understand. Evidence that provided proof that God cares for each of us, individually. Some 30 years later, he stands by his convictions, positioning science not as substitute for theology, but as a subset of it.


What to know more about Francis Collins? Read his interview with PBS or listen to his interview with NPR.

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Dallas Tea Party responds to KO

Brilliant response to the utterly loathsome Keith Olbermann from the Dallas Tea Party.



Brilliant!

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Toy Story 3 - trailer

I view this with some trepidation...



... and there are a couple of things in there that make me nervous. Pixar has, so far, avoided much of the questionable material that makes other "kids" movies so disappointing. There are at least three things in that trailer that I don't care for, which is, I think, a first for them.

But I'll see it, and, if history is any guide, I'll love it, as I've loved all of their films.

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Mr. Brown Goes To Washington

One of the things that people may have noticed during the coverage of the special Massachusetts Senate election last month was that I didn't actually have much to say about Scott Brown. I had a lot to say about Coakley, but not much of substance on Brown. There are a couple of reasons for that.

  1. I had legitimate strong feelings about Coakley, for legitimate reasons.
  2. I didn't know a lot about Scott Brown's record.
  3. I expected, based on the little that I did know, that Brown was going to be a disappointment to me fully half the time, if not more.

So this doesn't surprise me at all.
Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass) broke with his party this afternoon and voted with the Democrats on an important procedural vote on the jobs bill, boosting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s chances of passing his $15 billion jobs package.

“I came to Washington to be an independent voice, to put politics aside, and to do everything in my power to help create jobs for Massachusetts families,” Brown said in a statement. “This Senate jobs bill is not perfect. I wish the tax cuts were deeper and broader, but I voted for it because it contains measures that will help put people back to work.”

...


Three other Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Me.), Olympia Snowe (Me.), and George Voinovich (Ohio) also voted for cloture.
That last line speaks volumes.

I'm not outraged, of course. I don't know the details of this bill's contents, but I'm quite confident that any bill coming out of this particular Congress is going to be bad for the country, so I'm disappointed, but not outraged and not surprised. Scott seems like a pretty good guy, but I don't see any evidence that he's a real conservative, not even a real fiscal conservative. Is he the ideal Senator for me? Absolutely not, and I had no expectation that he would be.

He might, however, be the most conservative Senator that I can reasonably expect the citizens of Massachusetts to elect...

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Will it be Speaker Pelosi after November?

Charlie Cook:
I've spent the last couple of days talking to some of the brightest Democrats in the party that are not in the White House. And it's very hard to come up with a scenario where Democrats don't lose the House. It's very hard. Are the seats there right this second? No. But we're on a trajectory on the House turning over....
It's still a long way to November, but I think he's right, that the Republicans win in November. And I've been saying so for the last five months...
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 [health care] package impossible to pass again.

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Bowdlerizing the Mikado vs. bowdlerizing Huckleberry Finn

Jay Nordlinger:
In this Impromptus, I mentioned the wonderful Stephen Vincent Benét poem called “American Names.” A reader had cited it as one of his favorites. The poem had one flaw, I said (and the reader said) — something that marred it: the N-word. Let me quote from my column:
It’s as though an insect were embedded in a beautiful, tasty milkshake. [Our reader] said that you could replace the word with a word such as “singer.” I quite agree.

As a rule, I am firmly against air-brushing, Bowdlerizing, sweeping under the rug, etc. But I think of Show Boat: Aren’t you glad that Hammerstein’s original lyrics were touched up — de-N-worded — so that we can enjoy the musical without that particular discomfort? Even if it is an offense to “historical truth”? I am.
This item occasioned much mail, for and against my position — much thoughtful mail. One writer spoke of “good Bowdlerization” and “bad.” An example of the good was to be found in the revised Mikado — for some original lyrics are simply intolerable. Another reader said, “Your acquiescence [in revision] is a slippery slope. How would you treat Huckleberry Finn?”
The answer, of course, is that Huckleberry Finn and the Mikado are very different works, and that word plays different parts in both of them. A bowdlerized Huckleberry Finn ceases to be Huckleberry Finn, while virtually every performance of the Mikado since the first has been bowdlerized in one way or another. The patter songs that Gilbert wrote have been updated with topical references ever since he wrote them, and the presence in the original lyric of a word that offends our modern sensibilities is incidental to any of the actual value of the work. In the case of Huckleberry Finn, however, the work deals with relationships between men of different races in a particular time and place. As such, the language used is an integral part of the work. If you bowdlerize it, it ceases to be truthful. The same is true for The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass or Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.

Nordlinger goes on to say that "it is hard to lay down a rule — a fixed law for all time and every case. Taste, judgment, and, dare I say, artistry are required." I couldn't agree more. But I think that one can lay down a couple of general principles. The burden on the bowdlerizer should be much, much higher in a printed work than in the theatre. In some works, the usage is a historical artifact, used incidentally to the point of the work, and can be bowdlerized for performance purposes without affecting the integrity of the work. At other times, it is an important cultural marker, and integral part of the history or message of the work. In any event, I would, almost all cases, strongly object to its airbrushing removal from printed material, to pretending that it was never there as opposed to printing a [n*****] or something so that the reader understands the original content.

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"the Left is having trouble enacting its agenda..."

George Will:
With metronomic regularity, we go through these moments in Washington where we complain about the government being broken. These moments have one thing in common: The Left is having trouble enacting its agenda. No one when George W. Bush had trouble reforming Social Security said, "Oh, that's terrible - the government's broken."
100% dead-on accurate.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spirituality vs. Religion

Perceptive comment from Instapundit on a NY Times story.
YOUNG VOTERS WANT SPIRITUALITY, BUT NOT NECESSARILY RELIGION. Well, that’s because religion often tells you to do things you don’t want to do, or to refrain from doing things you want to do, while spirituality is usually more . . . flexible.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bolton on Obama

Here's a big part of the reason that the left hates John Bolton - he's not afraid to speak the truth:
Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton says President Obama was "not qualified" to be president on his inauguration day and "13 months later" is "still not qualified." Speaking at CPAC, Bolton went on to say that Obama "doesn't really care about foreign policy," "doesn't believe in American exceptionalism," and remains the "first post-American president."

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Is the Obamacare bill even constitutional?

One of the things that is scary about the health care debate is that, while we discuss it from utilitarian (bad) and philosophical (worse) points of view, there's no discussion amongst our representatives whatsoever about whether their proposals are constitutional. Which they are almost certainly not.
Many commentators, for example, doubt the constitutionality of the plan’s “individual mandate,” which would require individuals to purchase health insurance if they do not have it. Such an unprecedented requirement likely exceeds the limited and enumerated powers delegated to Congress under the Constitution. Congress can exercise only those powers that the Constitution expressly delegates to it, and it doubtful that Congress has the authority to require individuals to purchase goods or services. While proponents of the legislation point to the congressional power to regulate interstate commerce, it is difficult to see how requiring individuals to purchase health insurance when they are currently not doing so constitutes regulation of interstate commerce.

...


If individuals have a constitutional right to reject treatment, surely they have the right to reject paying significant sums for insurance. The government could not, for example, force citizens to subscribe to National Review or The Nation. Such a law would plainly violate the right to free speech under the First Amendment. Just as individuals have a right to speak freely themselves and to choose the newspapers or magazines they read, so too they have a right to be free from laws that would require them to purchase materials with which they disagree.
Of course, there's a lot of legislation passed in Washington which wouldn't pass if our elected representatives actuall followed the Constitution. This is just one more piece...

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Ungovernable again

Charles Krauthammer:
It’s 2010, and the first-year agenda of a popular and promising young president has gone down in flames. Barack Obama’s two signature initiatives — cap-and-trade and health-care reform — lie in ruins.

Desperate to explain away this scandalous state of affairs, liberal apologists haul out the old reliable from the Carter years: “America the Ungovernable.” So declared Newsweek. “Is America Ungovernable?” coyly asked The New Republic. Guess the answer.

...

[Obama's attempt to sell his Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi's health care plans] failed because the utter implausibility of its central promise — expanded coverage at lower cost — led voters to conclude that it would lead ultimately to more government, more taxes, and more debt. More broadly, the Democrats failed because, thinking the economic emergency would give them a political mandate and a legislative window, they tried to impose a left-wing agenda on a center-right country. The people said no, expressing themselves first in spontaneous demonstrations, then in public-opinion polls, then in elections — Virginia, New Jersey, and, most emphatically, Massachusetts.

That’s not a structural defect. That’s a textbook demonstration of popular will expressing itself — despite the special interests — through the existing structures. In other words, the system worked.

Yup. As I wrote back in December when this all started up (this time):
it strikes me as yet one more difference between the right and the left, how they view Government, what it's for, what it's capable of and what it's limitations are....Well, they're exactly right. America is "ungovernable." With one caveat. They're using the word "ungovernable" but the idea that they're implying is "unruleable." Because they don't want to govern - they want to rule. They don't want to work with Republicans, deal with grass-roots movements, compromise to improve things. No, they want to impose their rules by fiat. Because, you see, they're smarter and they know better...Utopia is within our grasp if those pesky right-wingers would just get out of the way and let St. Barack engage in his beneficient rule. If you know that you can make things perfect if only given the authority to do so, you're bound to be impatient at any obstacles that might prevent, or even slow, the achievement of that perfection.

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Wordle puzzle - 02/19/10

19th century American. Biography, of sorts.



The answer to last week's puzzle is chapter 7 of The Republic, by Plato.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring training Haiku

In honor of the Projo Hot Stove Haiku thread, and the start of the baseball training camps…


Days are lengthening,
snow banks shrinking, blackening.
We know what that means.

Grass, green in the sun,
"Pitchers and Catchers report!"
Time begins anew…

Pitcher fielding drills,
the crack of bat striking ball,
all's right with the world.

Joggers in outfield,
exhibition baseball game
winter days dwindling

Glorious sunlight
plays on glowing grass and palm,
dreaming summer dreams…

Spring ball promises
exciting summer and then
triumphant Autumn?

Varitek here but
Martinez now the starter
catching balls in dirt

Youkilis at first
does not look like a Greek god,
but hits and fields well.

Second baseman is
one of the best in baseball,
Dustin Pedroia.

Beltre does not walk
but has some pop and great glove,
manning hot corner.

Marco Scutaro
is not a superstar but
plays a good shortstop.

Fleet Ellsbury now
moves to left field and steals hits
as well as bases.

Mike Cameron now
patrols center field at the
old park in the fens.

In right field is Drew,
hated by some but still, does
everything well.

The other hitter,
David Ortiz. But which Big
Papi will we see?

Starting rotation,
Lester, Beckett, Lackey is
as good as it gets.

Matsuzaka is
focus-ed, fit and healthy
another good arm.

Buchholz is ready,
we hope, for his spot, best fifth
starter in the game.

Still have a Manny,
and a Ramon and a Tim
backing the starters.

Okajima sets
up for Papelbon and makes
a wicked good 'pen.

May the season smile
on virtuous Boston fans,
not evil Yankees.

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The Mount Vernon Statement

I like this.

The Mount Vernon Statement
Constitutional Conservatism: A Statement for the 21st Century

We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government.
These principles define us as a country and inspire us as a people. They are responsible for a prosperous, just nation unlike any other in the world. They are our highest achievements, serving not only as powerful beacons to all who strive for freedom and seek self-government, but as warnings to tyrants and despots everywhere.

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?

The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles. At this important time, we need a restatement of Constitutional conservatism grounded in the priceless principle of ordered liberty articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God. It defends life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It traces authority to the consent of the governed. It recognizes man’s self-interest but also his capacity for virtue.

The conservatism of the Constitution limits government’s powers but ensures that government performs its proper job effectively. It refines popular will through the filter of representation. It provides checks and balances through the several branches of government and a federal republic.
A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.
A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.

  • It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
  • It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
  • It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
  • It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.
  • It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.

If we are to succeed in the critical political and policy battles ahead, we must be certain of our purpose.

We must begin by retaking and resolutely defending the high ground of America’s founding principles.
I've signed.

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Mount Spendmore

Michael Ramirez:

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“Experiment of His Own Power”

Wow...



I expected his Presidency to be a disaster, but to see this in New Orleans, of all place, less than 13 months after inauguration? Just wow...

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sometimes, it's hard to resist the sarcasm, lame though it is...

Hang around in baseball chat rooms and bulletin boards, and you'll run across this scenario. A team with a gaping hole at some position adds a backup at a different position for a short contract at not much money, and the (half-)wits will race to see who can be the first with a post saying, "Hey, the Bison Hunters have signed Joe Shlabotnick - great job, [diminutive or 3rd-grade corruption of team GM's first name]! They're certain to win the World Series next year!"

Lame? Yes. Tedious, repetitive, not funny the very first time? Yes. It's about the lamest, least biting, least amusing form of sarcasm known to mankind.

So I really don't want to respond that way to this:
President Obama will name Alan K. Simpson, a former Senate Republican leader, and Erskine B. Bowles, a top official in the Clinton White House, to chair a special commission to solve the nation's budget problems, administration officials said Tuesday.
"Oh, that'll solve all of our financial problems!"

See? Lame.

But this actually differs greatly from the acquisition of a backup middle-infielder. After all, it may not be exciting, but you've got to have one. You don't have to have a "blue-ribbon commission" made up of out-of-office politicians. What that nominally provides is a bipartisan consensus on possible solutions, the "best of the best" working the problem with fierce focus and dedication. What it actually provides is political cover, allowing the politicians in power to continue ducking their responsibilities. Any time in the next 18 months that someone suggests that the Congress and the President aren't dealing with the budget deficit, they point and say, "Look at Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles! Slaving away, day and night, under our instructions! We're going to fix it any minute now, as soon as these dedicated public servants whom we've appointed report their findings!" And the spending, and the spending growth, continues apace.

At some point, the commission reports with suggestions which, if implemented, would make things appear a little bit better, but wouldn't actually fix the problems. Because the Republican and Democratic members of the committee have different ideas about how to approach the issue, and have been compromising from the start. Not to mention the fact that the commission is made up of politicians, so their last resort is removing money, and therefore power, from Washington.

And even if they were to come back with a sober, realistic document and a well-thought out plan, the commission recommendations are not binding on anyone. They carry no actual authority save that which elected officials choose to give them. So most, if not all, will be ignored or avoided or used to accuse the opposite party of bargaining in bad faith. What they won't be used for is actually addressing the financial issues that they are nominally aimed at. It is obvious to virtually everyone to the right of the President that the Federal Gummint, dagnabbit, cannot keep spending money the way they are now. So, in the end, Congress has to pass a budget with less spending. A commission cannot make them do it. Constitutionally, the Congress of the United States has to pass a budget. Period.

In the end, all that the appointment of a commission like this does is increase the budget deficit by providing another government body sucking up government resources. Admittedly, this committee is a pimple on a flea on an elephant's posterior as far as government spending goes, but it's a waste of time, and it allows the "responsible" parties, the Congress and the President, to kick the can further down the road instead of dealing with the problems now.

Bottom Line: "Blue-ribbon" commissions such as this provide the illusion of progress which prevents actual progress from taking place. In the end, it will be a waste of both time and money.

Appropriate, I guess. Wasting time and money is what Washington does best...

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Failure of Liberal Governance

There's a great editorial in the Wall Street Journal this morning about the failure of liberal policies.
The central contradiction in modern liberal politics is that Otto von Bismarck's entitlement state for cradle to grave financial security is no longer affordable. The model has reached the limit of its ability to tax private income and still allow enough economic growth to finance its transfer payments.

You can see this in bankrupt Greece, where government spends 52% of GDP; or in California and New York, where the government-employee unions have pushed tax rates to punishing levels and the states still can't pay their bills. Americans can see that this is where Mr. Obama's agenda is also taking Washington, and this is why they are rejecting it.
The instigation for the piece was the retirement of Evan Bayh, but that's not the focus. Instead, it addresses the fact that "for the fourth time since the 1960s, American voters in 2008 gave Democrats overwhelming control of both Congress and the White House...Yet once again, Democratic leaders have tried to govern the country from the left, only to find that their policies have hit a wall of practical and popular resistance." It's an excellent piece - read it all...

"Our guess is that it will take one more repudiation in November before Democrats relearn that you can't govern America successfully from the political left."

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Grilling weather...

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"It's the uncertainty, stupid..."

Great letter from a Geraghty reader...
I attended a luncheon at the Federal Reserve Branch in Houston where one of the speakers was the economist for the Federal Reserve – El Paso branch.

...

During the Q&A session, I felt compelled to ask the obvious question: Did he believe that the healthcare reform and related tax proposals, the proposed cap and trade legislation and the consequent increase in energy costs, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the agitation for higher taxes on the wealthy, the proposal to increase corporate tax rates, the proposal to increase capital gains taxes, the trial floating of ideas such as a national VAT and removal of the earnings cap on FICA, the more robust regulatory bureaucracy…did he believe any of these uncertainties were depressing hiring?

He stated yes, without a doubt and proceeded to relay a conversation he had with a local chemical company regarding their 2010 capital expenditure budget. When asked what the company intended to invest in 2010, the response was ‘nothing,’ not due to a paucity of good opportunities, but because it was impossible for the company to calculate a rate of return given all the uncertainty over cost of labor, energy prices, regulatory mandates and the like.

It’s obvious to me that the Obama administration has no grasp on what their ‘flavor of the day’ tax and regulatory proposals do to business decision making, but perhaps I can summarize for them:
“No investment means no hiring and no new tax revenues. It’s the uncertainty, stupid.”
Joe Klein was not available for comment.

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Q: Is ANYTHING in the IPCC report trustworthy? A: No

It's time - it's long past time - for the IPCC to simply withdraw all of its reports.
More trouble looms for the IPCC. The body may need to revise statements made in its Fourth Assessment Report on hurricanes and global warming. A statistical analysis of the raw data shows that the claims that global hurricane activity has increased cannot be supported.
Really. Stop the dribs and drabs. Every week, almost every day, there's a new report that something in there isn't right, some bit of allegedly peer-reviewed science turns out to be a fourth-hand report of something that a guy on the phone didn't say to a journalist which was then misrepresented by an environmental pressure group, and the IPCC decided to just put it in because it would "impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action."

It's time to withdraw the reports, and start from scratch. Identify science that actually is peer-reviewed, science that is actually science and not political propaganda, and then put together a real report with real information. But this is ridiculous. There's nothing in that report - NOTHING - that an unbiased party could trust right now. Pull it back. Withdraw it from public view. Tell people that it needs to be re-worked, that none of it is currently operative until validated, but don't leave it out there and keep telling us how many parts of it are wrong. There's enough wrong that the whole thing must be assumed to be wrong. Take it back and fix it.

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Joe Biden == Chauncey Gardener?

Joe Biden. In a city filled with the biggest jackasses on the planet, this guy still stands out as a jackass.



Does anyone happen to know what it is that Scott Brown has done for a living? That's right, he's a lawyer. Does anyone know where he's practiced law? That's right, in the National Guard. For 30 years. He's "currently the Guard's top defense attorney in New England." The idea that Joe Biden's got anything useful to say to Scott Brown about military tribunals is laughable.

Brown said he is particularly incensed by Biden’s remarks because he’s served in the Massachusetts Army National Guard for more than 30 years and is currently the Guard's top defense attorney in New England.

“I know the military rules and regulations and procedures from A to Z,” Brown said.

...


“I’ve always felt that suspected terrorists should be tried in military tribunals and not civilian court, and as a matter of fact so do the majority of Americans,” Brown said. “The big difference is are we going to pay $1,000 an hour for a private attorney and treat him as a civilian or ordinary criminal in a criminal court, or are we going give him a military attorney who’s going to be paid as a captain, major or lieutenant colonel, and obviously go through the military tribunal process?”
Of course, the idea that Joe Biden has anything useful to say to anyone about any subject whatsoever is laughable. Has anyone ever combined clueless and condescension in quite such a smarmy, superior manner? I think it was Churchill who said of Clement Atlee that he was a humble man "with much to be humble about." Biden's got as much to be humble about as any man that ever lived, but thinks that he's Churchill and Oliver Wendell Holmes (and probably Sherlock Holmes, too) in one charming package.

Seriously - how is one to respect, indeed, how is one to avoid having utter contempt for, government when a man of the caliber of Joe Biden can spend 30 years in the Senate and then become Vice President? Is there a dimmer bulb anywhere? He's a daffodil who thinks that he's an oak, a Lilliputian who thinks that he's a Brobdingnagian...

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Calling Joe Klein - more shocking polling news!

Calling Joe Klein! There's some bad news in the latest CBS/NY Times poll - more evidence for Klein's contention that the electorate towards which he condescends is made up of ungrateful dodos...
When it comes to job creation, just 6% say the stimulus package has created jobs, but another 41% expect it will do so. 48% think it won’t. These views have not changed much in recent months, but optimism about the impact of the stimulus package was much higher last summer.
STIMULUS PACKAGE AND JOBS
Now12/1/20097/1/2009
Has created jobs6%6%4%
Has not, but will create jobs414453
Will not create jobs484541
So we're 11 months in, and 94% of the people in a CBS News/NY Times poll think that the stimulus hasn't created any jobs. They're right, of course. At least, it hasn't created any net jobs, which is the intent of the question.

But hey, maybe if Joe writes another column explaining to everyone how Obama'a creating jobs left and right with that stimulus, they can eventually get that up to 7%...

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Bad salesmanship or just bad product?

Mickey Kaus:
Lots of intellectual effort now seems to be going into explaining Obama's (possible/likely/impending) health care failure as the inevitable product of larger historic and constitutional forces. There's something to this of course--the Framers went overboard in making it hard for the government to act, for example. But in this case there's a simpler explanation: Barack Obama's job was to sell a health care reform plan to American voters. He failed.
Yes. He failed to sell his "health care reform plan" to the voters. That's absolutely true. But is that a failure of Obama, or the voters or the plan?
He didn't fail because 55% of Americans can never be convinced of anything. It happens all the time. He just failed. He tried to sell expanding coverage as a deficit reducer. Voters didn't believe him and worried that they would pay the bill in some unadvertised way (through Medicare reductions or future tax increases, mainly). That's not constitutional paralysis or Web-enabled mob rule. It's just bad salesmanship.
Well, let's concede that it isn't spectacular salesmanship, of the "selling ice to eskimoes" variety. But is it really bad salesmanship if you fail to sell a big, expensive product that has a lot of big, expensive details that people don't want? Yes, he tried to sell expanding coverage as a deficit reducre and "voters didn't believe him." But did they not believe him because he didn't sell it well, or because he was selling it as a deficit reducer and it really isn't?

What positive features of the plan has he failed to present? What negative features did he fail to downplay? When did he fail to push it when given the opportunity? The problem isn't the salesmanship, it's the product. The more the people learned, the more they didn't want it. The more they saw the process in the Congress, the more turned off they were. I don't see this as a result of "bad salesmanship" on Obama's part. Could it have been better sold? Maybe, though it's not obvious to me how that would have been done. But let's face it - the product stinks. It's too big, it's too expensive, it has the potential to inconvenience or harm far more people than it helps, while providing a net cost increase to more people than see a decrease. Billy Mays couldn't have sold the reality of this plan.



(H/T: Instapundit)

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Tea party challenge to Reid

This strikes me as a very bad idea.
Sun columnist Jon Ralston is reporting that the Tea Party has qualified as a third party in Nevada and will have a candidate in the Senate race to battle for the seat held by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The party has filed a Certificate of Existence but needs to get 1 percent of the electorate to vote for its candidate in November to permanently qualify, according to the report.

Ralston reported that Jon Ashjian will be the Tea Party's U.S. Senate candidate on the November ballot. Ashjian still must declare his candidacy.
The likeliest result of a serious effort by a third-party anti-tax senate campaign in Nevada is the reelection of Harry Reid, as the Tea Party and Republican candidates split the (substantial and likely majority) anti-Reid vote. This would be a classic example of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face, or letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I very much hope that it does not happen.

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Evan Bayh not running for re-election

This is fairly stunning news...
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) will not seek a 3rd term in the Senate next year, according to a Dem source, handing Dems yet another setback as they struggle to salvage their damaged ship.

Bayh, elected statewide 5 times, will become the 5th Senate Dem not to seek another term. His decision to step aside , first reported by The Fix and confirmed to Hotline OnCall, creates an open seat in IN, a usually-red state that broke the mold in '08 by voting narrowly for Pres. Obama.

Last week, ex-Sen. Dan Coats (R), who held Bayh's seat before retiring in '98, announced he would run for the seat. Ex-Rep. John Hostettler (R) had already announced his own candidacy.

A recent poll taken for the liberal DailyKos website showed Bayh easily beating both Coats and Hostettler. And Bayh ended the year with $13M in the bank, far ahead of any potential challengers.
That was a seat that the Republicans thought they could win with Mike Pence if everything went well, but Pence decided to keep his House seat. That left Bayh in seemingly excellent condition to retain it for the Democrats, with big polling and money advantages. It's not overstating it to say that this significantly increases the Republican's chances of actually getting to 50 Senate seats in November. There are a number of likely gains, but they needed a couple of unlikely gains to do it, and this is one of them.

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An interview with Professor Jones

Professor Phil Jones is the currently-on-leave director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, source of the massive "leak" in November of e-mails, data, computer code and other files related to climate change research ("Climategate"). Professor Jones is the author of the controversial e-mail in which he talked of using "Mike's nature trick" to "hide the decline."

He is a man who is supported with taxpayer dollars because of concern about catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, and has, therefore, a vested interest in producing materials which perpetuate or exacerbate concerns about that possibility. To quote Al Gore quoting Sinclair Lewis, "it's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it." (The climate alarmists have for years been warning us that we couldn't trust any "science" funded by the oil companies - why we should trust science funded by zealous, power-hungry bureaucrats and performed by leftist academicians?)

Professor Jones has been a significant figure in the propagation of the kind of scientific information which leads to widespread panic and enables "well-meaning public servants" to argue for greater central control of world-wide economies and private behaviors. He's fought to suppress any kind of research which doesn't support the AGW position out of peer-reviewed literature, to "hide the decline," and, in short, to paint the picture of "settled science" which suggests a imminent catastrophe.

And the BBC got a chance to ask him some questions last week. Before we look at some of the excerpts, here are a couple of key points to remember. There are some who have questioned various aspects of the official story, as represented by the UN's IPCC, and been criticized or ostracized as "deniers." In the case of the AGW story, "skepticism" has been a dirty word. The following articles of the AGW case are considered to be "settled science," which no one of any intelligence would challenge, indisputable facts.
  1. There has been an unprecedented rise in global temperature over the past 30 years.
  2. The earth has never before been this hot.
  3. The rise in temperature has proven to be caused by human behavior.
  4. There is no legitimate "debate" about the causes of the current unprecedented warming.
  5. Warming has continued rapidly over the past 15 years.

So, let's hear from Professor Jones:
Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

An initial point to make is that in the responses to these questions I've assumed that when you talk about the global temperature record, you mean the record that combines the estimates from land regions with those from the marine regions of the world. CRU produces the land component, with the Met Office Hadley Centre producing the marine component.

Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century. The 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different (see numbers below).

I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998.

So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

B - Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

C - Do you agree that from January 2002 to the present there has been statistically significant global cooling?

No. This period is even shorter than 1995-2009. The trend this time is negative (-0.12C per decade), but this trend is not statistically significant.

G - There is a debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was global or not. If it were to be conclusively shown that it was a global phenomenon, would you accept that this would undermine the premise that mean surface atmospheric temperatures during the latter part of the 20th Century were unprecedented?

There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented.

N - When scientists say "the debate on climate change is over", what exactly do they mean - and what don't they mean?

It would be supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don't believe the vast majority of climate scientists think this. This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well.
Let's see. The debate's not over, the MWP may have been warmer, the recent warming is similar to other warming periods in the last 150 years, there's been no statistically significant warming in the last 15 years, there's been cooling in the last 8 (albeit also not statistically significant). It sounds to me as if Professor Jones is one of those "skeptics" or "deniers" that draw so much opprobrium from the likes of Al Gore.

I know this - I need a LOT more convincing before I'll peacefully acquiesce to the planned destruction of the US economy...

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

J.D. Drew again

I love that Theo Epstein gets it...
“Based on his skill set, he’s always going to have underwhelming RBI totals,’’ Epstein said last September in an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “When you’re putting together a winning team, that honestly doesn’t matter. When you have a player that takes a ton of walks, who doesn’t put the ball in play at an above-average rate and is a certain type of hitter, he’s not going to drive in a lot of runs.

“If you look at a rate basis, J.D. scores a ton of runs. And the reason he scores a ton of runs is because he does the single most important thing you can do in baseball as an offensive player, and that’s not make outs.’’

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

2010 Red Sox Projections - Conclusion and projected record

This is post thirteen in a series of posts previewing the 2010 Red Sox.

2009 vs. 2010 Red Sox - Overall and conclusion

The following table shows the at-bats projected per player.

Red Sox 2010 projected at-bats
PlayerAB
Jacoby Ellsbury 633
Dustin Pedrioa 632
Kevin Youkilis 569
Victor Martinez 552
Adrian Beltre 544
David Ortiz 518
Mike Cameron 500
Marco Scutaro 474
J.D. Drew 433
Jeremy Hermida 246
Jason Varitek 145
Jed Lowrie 118
Bill Hall 83
That seems like a pretty reasonable starting point.

Red Sox 2010 projected at-bats
PlayerABRunsHits2B3BHRRBIBBIBBHBPKSBCSSHSFGDPBAOBASPctOPSRCRC/25
2009545385714783302521181164938701094126391651135.271.353.457.810877.85.20
2010 (marcel)544782314893112017575062831481015118291542114.273.351.434.785841.15.06
2010 (PECOTA)54408261498314181797616263148976110321542114.275.353.438.791848.45.12
NOTE: The 2009 runs numbers doesn't match the 2009 Red Sox runs scored because of pinch-hitting, pinch-running and pitchers.

The 2009 Red Sox generated 883 Runs Created and scored 872 actual runs. Marcel and PECOTA suggest that the Red Sox will create 841 and 848 runs, respectively. So the offseason changes that were made will probably result in the Red Sox scoring 35-45 fewer runs than the 2009 team scored.


Projected Runs Scored: 845
2009 Runs scored: 872
Offensive downgrade: 27 runs


Marcel has the starters allowing 490 runs, with the bullpen allowing another 226, for a total of 716 runs allowed.

PECOTA has the starters allowing 443 runs, with the bullpen allowing another 209, for a total of 652 runs allowed.

Neither of those takes into account the defensive upgrade, which looks to be 20-30 runs independent of the pitching performance. I think that the PECOTA numbers here are likelier than the marcel numbers, though there are bound to be some bumps along the way. The systems project a 20-80 run improvement in runs allowed. I'm going towards the upper end of that projection.

Projected Runs allowed: 660
2009 Runs allowed: 736
Pitching/Defensive upgrade: 76 runs


So, what do the 2010 Red Sox look like as they head to Spring Training?

Red Sox 2010 - Projected Record
RRAPyth WPWL
marcel8417160.5739369
PECOTA8486520.61810062
Lyford8456600.6119963
They look to me like a 97-100 win team, a team that's significantly upgraded its run prevention capabilities over the winter at the cost of a smaller offensive downgrade.

Bottom Line: Boston wins 98, goes to the post-season again.



Previous entries:
Introduction
Catcher
1B
2B
3B
SS
LF
CF
RF
DH
Starters
Relievers

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Tim Conway's elephant story

This is an outtake from the Carol Burnett Show, as there is a profanity uttered towards the end. But it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Tim Conway was at his best when he was trying to break up his cast-mates, and he was never better - or more effective - than this...

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Friday, February 12, 2010

I agree and approve

I expected a certain amount of gloating over the Patrick Kennedy announcement, but I'm seeing a lot of this kind of sentiment. Which matches my comment from earlier in the day...

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Say what?

Tony Massarotti in the Globe, with an army of editors and fact-checkers...
Assuming Scutaro is as solid as everyone suggests he is – and we’ll still need to see for ourselves – the Sox have Gold Glovers at first, second, and third base as well as in center field.
So, if Scutaro, who is going to be playing SS, isn't "as solid as everyone suggests," does that mean that the Red Sox won't "have Gold Glovers at first, second, and third base as well as in center field?"

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2010 Red Sox Projections - Relievers

This is post twelve in a series of posts previewing the 2010 Red Sox.


2009 vs. 2010 Red Sox - Relief Pitchers:
2009 - Jonathan Papelbon, Hidecki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez, Justin Masterson, Billy Wagner
2010 - Jonathan Papelbon, Hidecki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez, Tim Wakefield


The bullpen was a strength of the 2009 team, and it is likely to be again in 2010. Obviously, a dominant pitcher at the back of the bullpen, as the Red Sox have with Jonathan Papelbon, is an asset. In addition, they have a bunch of late-inning guys who can "miss bats," strikeout pitchers, led by Daniel Bard.

The projections for 2010 performance:

Red Sox 2010 projected relievers (marcel)
GSCGGFW L SvIPHRERHRBBKHBPBKWPERAWHIPK/9K/BB
Jonathan Papelbon332966582522620672013.001.189.143.35
Ramon Ramirez53067623027628552133.631.347.391.96
Hideki Okajima42162582625822522013.631.297.552.36
Daniel Bard32150462522619482023.961.308.642.53
Manny Delcarmen32162593028627523014.061.397.551.93
Tim Wakefield108014314778741854888074.661.415.541.63

Total00028203245043021419850170362191153.961.337.242.13

Red Sox 2010 projected relievers (PECOTA)
GSCGGFW L SvIPHRERHRBBKHBPBKWPERAWHIPK/9K/BB
Daniel Bard542055462726636490004.251.487.991.38
Manny Delcarmen042055482322524430003.601.307.051.83
Hideki Okajima042255482221619460003.441.217.492.40
Jonathan Papelbon0424355401615417580002.451.039.433.47
Ramon Ramirez042255462322525450003.601.287.371.83
Tim Wakefield185509810153501338550004.601.435.031.43

2300251547373329164156391592960003.771.307.121.87

And bullpen numbers vs. last year's numbers:

Red Sox 2010 bullpen
GSCGGFW L SvIPHRERHRBBKHBPBKWPERAWHIPK/9K/BB
2009 relievers0015427174147946122120251211439294163.801.408.252.08
2010 (marcel)00028203245043021419850170362191153.961.337.242.13
2010 (PECOTA)2300261547373329164156391582950003.771.307.121.87

Marcel sees a slight degradation, whil PECOTA sees a slight improvement. But both sets of numbers are pretty comparable.

As noted in the starters entry, I think that the Red Sox are going to get about 975 innings from their starters this year, leaving about 465 innings for the bullpen. In those 465 innings, the marcel projections work out to about 226 runs allowed by the bullpen, the PECOTA projections work out to about 209 runs.


Bottom line: The bullpen run performance should be assisted by the improved defense, and further aided by the increased workload handled by the starters. On the other hand, it's basically the same set of pitchers, and there's no reason to expect as significant upgrade or degrade in the inherent pitching performance. Net comparable


Previous entries:
Introduction
Catcher
1B
2B
3B
SS
LF
CF
RF
DH
Starters

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It's a National Holiday

At least, it is if you live in Red Sox Nation...because it's TRUCK DAY!

That means that this is coming soon...



...and then this.




Our long national winter is almost over...

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In 2011, there will be no elected Kennedy's from Hyannis in the Federal government

This is a very good thing...
Rep. Patrick Kennedy has decided not to seek re-election to Congress, saying his life is "taking a new direction" just months after the death of his father and mentor, Sen. Edward Kennedy.

The Rhode Island Democrat taped a message to be aired on the state's television stations Sunday night. The Associated Press viewed the message Thursday, ahead of the announcement.

"Now having spent two decades in politics, my life is taking a new direction, and I will not be a candidate for re-election this year," Kennedy says in the ad.
One of the greatest needs of the United States body politic has been for fewer and better Kennedys. In the absence of better, fewer works just fine.

And maybe it isn't too late for Patrick to go out and actually find himself a real life. God only knows how much damage was done to him as a person by his upbringing, but this might be the best thing that could happen to him...

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Wordle puzzle - 02/12/10

This is one section of a longer work, translated out of the original language. It's very old, and not a novel or epic poem.



The answer to last week's puzzle is Ben-Hur, by General Lew Wallace.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

2010 Red Sox Projections - Starters

This is post eleven in a series of posts previewing the 2010 Red Sox.

2009 vs. 2010 Red Sox - Starting Pitchers:
2009 - Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Brad Penny, John Smoltz, Clay Buchholz
2010 - Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz

During the 2008-2009 offseason, a couple things happened that ended up inflating the Red Sox runs allowed totals in 2009. They added two veteran pitchers, Brad Penny and John Smoltz, on short-term, mid-money contracts. And the World Baseball Classic tournament was played for the second time.

Jon Lester and Josh Beckett both started slowly, and then, early in May, started pitching like aces. Beckett had a poor stretch in late-August and September, but Lester was one of the best pitchers in baseball for the last five months of the season. Lester, in particular, seemed to be hurt by the defense early, and he "adjusted" to that weakness, raising his strike out rates. Beckett seemed to have an issue with adjusting to a new catcher, as his slump coincided with Victor Martinez' arrival, but whether that's causation or just correlation is unknowable. He did seem to have adjusted by the end of the season.

Penny threw some decent games, but a lot of not-so-decent ones as well, before getting cut in August. The Smoltz experiment didn't work that well, as he got hit early and often. He ended up giving up 37 runs in 40 innings over 8 starts, including 5+ runs in six of the eight before he was cut.

The World Baseball Classic ended up costing them most of the Daisuke Matsuzaka's season. He is far more emotionally invested in that tournament than the Red Sox team is, overthrew early, didn't go through a proper spring training, and end up starting the season hurt and not in condition for the 162 game season. We cannot ignore that 2009 happened, but sometimes the ancillary factors are glaring. Everyone agrees that Matsuzaka was injured and out of shape, and there's no reason to expect that his early 2009 performance tells us anything particularly useful, or more useful than his late 2009 performance, about his potential 2010 performance.

Tim Wakefield pitched pretty well through the first half of the season, earning (well, not really earning, but being selected for) a spot on the 2009 AL All Star team. Due to injuries, however, he made only four generally ineffective starts after the All Star break. Clay Buchholz demonstrated that he's ready to pitch consistently in the Major Leagues.

Here are the 2009 numbers:

Red Sox 2010 projected at-bats
GSCGGFW L ShoIPHRERHRBBKHBPBKWPERAWHIPK/9K/BB
Jon Lester32201580203 1/3186807720642253063.411.239.963.52
Josh Beckett32401762212 1/3198999125551997133.861.198.433.62
Clay Buchholz1600740929144431336682014.211.386.651.89
Justin Masterson60022035 1/3381818313284004.581.447.132.15
Tim Wakefield21201150129 2/3137676612507210044.581.445.001.44
Brad Penny2400780131 2/316089821742895045.611.536.082.12
Daisuke Matsuzaka120046059 1/38138381030542085.761.878.191.80
Paul Byrd60013031442020311100005.811.772.90.91
Junichi Tazawa4002202032161438103006.302.004.501.25
John Smoltz8002504059373789333008.331.707.433.67
Michael Bowden100010377721300021.002.679.003.00

Of note:
  • They gave 38 starts to three pitchers (Penny, Byrd, Smoltz) who posted a cumulative 6.17 ERA and are no longer with the organization.
  • Matsuzaka's performance was awful in 8 games before his DL-extended Spring Training stint. In four games after returning, he threw six-plus innings per start and put up an ERA of 2.22.
  • Everything about Jon Lester's line, the innings, the ERA, the WHIP, the strikeouts and walks, screams "Ace." And that's despite the fact that he put up a 6.51 ERA in his first eight games.
  • Clay Buchholz looks like he's ready to be an effective Major League starter.

During this offseason, they added the best pitcher from the LAnaheim Angels, John Lackey.

So the starter projections:

Marcel:

Red Sox 2010 projected starters (marcel)
GSCGGFW L ShoIPHRERHRBBKHBPBKWPERAWHIPK/9K/BB
Jon Lester 137 182171767218601705053.561.278.412.83
Josh Beckett 148 184178868121481717143.961.238.363.56
John Lackey 117 165166777020461308063.821.287.092.83
Daisuke Matsuzaka 1310 177174858322831607084.221.458.141.93
Clay Buchholz 77 11211563591546923034.741.447.392.00

Total 5839 82080438736596283723301264.011.337.942.55

PECOTA:

Red Sox 2010 projected starters (PECOTA)
GSCGGFW L ShoIPHRERHRBBKHBPBKWPERAWHIPK/9K/BB
Josh Beckett31 1480 195.8218281772049170 3.521.187.833.51
Clay Buchholz29 1270 164.8214572681862141 3.711.267.682.27
John Lackey31 1480 199.6918883792252144 3.551.206.472.74
Jon Lester31 1280 178.5016876731862140 3.661.297.052.27
Daisuke Matsuzaka30 18130 177.3017291862286152 4.371.467.721.77

Total151 7044 916.138554033831003117474.371.467.721.77

Both marcel and PECOTA think that Daisuke Matsuzaka will be down around 100 IP. I disagree, as discussed above, and have bumped him back up to around 176.

The Red Sox got 957 innings from their starts in 2009, and 515 runs allowed. I expect the innings number to go up, so I'm going to scale the projections to get to 975.

Marcel has these five pitchers at 820 innings, which means that I need to account for another 155 innings. Those "extra innings" have to go to, presumably, worse pitchers. (I suspect that Marcel is way off on how many innings, for example, Clay Buchholz will pitch.) But I'm going to assume that they get 155 innings in 30 or so starts from pitchers allowing 6 runs per 9 IP. (Not earned runs, just runs. That's a fairly high number, but I'm trying to do a reasonably conservative projection.) That works out to 103 additional runs allowed, on top of the 387 that marcel already projects, and brings the starting staff out to 490 runs in 975 innings. That's a 25 run improvement over last year from the starters, and I think that's extremely conservative.

PECOTA has these five pitchers at 915 innings, which means I need to add another 60. At 6 R per 9 IP, that's an additional 40 runs over the 403 which PECOTA already projects, or 443 runs over 975 innings. That's an improvement of 72 runs over last year's starters, and I think it is much likelier than marcel's improvement, particularly as none of these projections are "pricing in" the expected defensive upgrades.

Bottom Line: I expect the starters to give up fewer runs, in more innings, than the 2009 starters did. The starters who were terrible last year are either gone or fixed. The defense behind them makes everything work a little bit better, too. Net big improvement.



Previous entries:
Introduction
Catcher
1B
2B
3B
SS
LF
CF
RF
DH

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Is reconciliation still on the table?

Wow. I mean, just wow...
"In comments reported by Congress Daily, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s top health care aide Wendell Primus admitted top Democrats have already decided on the strategy to pass the Senate's pro-abortion, government-run health care bill.

"Primus explained that the Senate will use the controversial reconciliation strategy that will have the House approve the Senate bill and both the House and Senate okaying changes to the bill that the Senate will sign off on by preventing Republicans from filibustering.

“'The trick in all of this is that the president would have to sign the Senate bill first, then the reconciliation bill second, and the reconciliation bill would trump the Senate bill,' Primus said at the National Health Policy Conference hosted by Academy Health and Health Affairs.

“'There's a certain skill, there's a trick, but I think we'll get it done,' he said."
I've been predicting, for some time now, that the Republicans were going to take back the House of Representatives in November, but that the Senate was probably out of reach. If this happens, the Senate becomes not only in reach, but likely.

It's difficult to imagine a bigger expression of contempt to the voting public than this would represent...

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ortiz vs. quality pitchers

A comment/question posted elsewhere about David Ortiz: "Big concern with him is how well he will do against decent pitching..."

There were 19 ML pitchers last year with at least 180 IP and an ERA under 3.50. There were 13 with 25+ saves and an ERA under 3.00. And there were 46 with 40+ games pitched and an ERA under 3.00. There were 78 pitchers total that fell into one of those three categories (obviously, there was some overlap). Using those 78 as a proxy for "good pitchers," we see that David Ortiz hit .203/.292/.406/.698 against "good pitchers" in 2009, with 4 HR in 64 at-bats (1 HR every 16 at-bats). Not very pretty.

Of course, as group, the pitchers themselves gave up an average of (very roughly) 0.219/.277/.330/.607 with one HR every 49 at-bats. So Ortiz' numbers aren't an embarrassment.

The fact is, nobody hits the really good pitchers with any consistency - that's why they're the really good pitchers. I don't see anything in Ortiz's numbers with regard to this group that suggests a problem. In fact, relative to the league, he did better against this cohort than against the league in general. His .698 OPS against this group was 14% than the average around the league - his .794 OPS overall was only about 4% better than the league average.

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Ironing...

A reader to Instapundit:
“Today, Michael Mann was scheduled to give a colloquium on climate change at the University of Pennsylvania, where I am a graduate student. As you may know, Philadelphia has been hit by multiple snowstorms in the past week. Today, for what I am told is the first time since the mid-1990s, the university suspended normal operations due to snow, and his colloquium on climate change has been postponed.”
To quote Bart Simpson, "the ironing is delicious..."

(For those who don't know, Mann is the climatology professor at the University of Pennsylvania whose work and behavior are under fire following the release of the data from the CRU last November. He's one of the "sky is falling" climatologists, convinced that the earth is burning up because people are still driving cars and heating their houses. He's one of the oracles on whom the Goreacle depends for his info.)

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Grassroots vs. astroturf

Everyone knows about the Tea Party movement, a grassroots movement comprised of actual American voters who are fed up with the size and growth of the federal government. Recently, there has been some organized opposition. Also a grassroots movement? Uh, no...
A seemingly grassroots organization that's mounted an online campaign to counter the tea party movement is actually the front end of an elaborate scheme that funnels funds -- including sizable labor union contributions -- through the offices of a prominent Democratic party lawyer.

A Web site popped up in January dedicated to preventing the tea party's "radical" and "dangerous" ideas from "gaining legislative traction," targeting GOP candidates in Illinois for the firing squad.

"This movement is a fad," proclaims TheTeaPartyIsOver.org, which was established by the American Public Policy Center (APPC), a D.C.-based campaign shop that few people have ever heard of.

...

Here's how it works: What appears like a local groundswell is in fact the creation of two men -- Craig Varoga and George Rakis, Democratic Party strategists who have set up a number of so-called 527 groups, the non-profit election organizations that hammer on contentious issues (think Swift Boats, for example).

Varoga and Rakis keep a central mailing address in Washington, pulling in soft money contributions from unions and other well-padded sources to engage in what amounts to a legal laundering system. The money -- tens of millions of dollars -- gets circulated around to different states by the 527s, which pay for TV ads, Internet campaigns and lobbyist salaries, all while keeping the hands of the unions clean -- for the most part.

The system helps hide the true sources of funding, giving the appearance of locally bred opposition in states from Oklahoma to New Jersey, or in the case of the Tea Party Web site, in Illinois.
Read it all...

(H/T: Jennifer Rubin)

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2010 Red Sox Projections - DH

This is post ten in a series of posts previewing the 2010 Red Sox.

2009 vs. 2010 Red Sox - DH:
2009 - David Ortiz
2010 - David Ortiz

The Red Sox had two different David Ortizes last year. The first one hit .185/.284/.287/.570 with 1 HR in 178 at-bats through the end of May. The second hit .264/.356/.548/.904 with 27 HR in 363 at-bats from June 1 through the end of the year. The huge question right now is, which David Ortiz do they get in 2010? We don't know why the first Ortiz showed up for two months, or how he was banished. And certainly, he's a hitter who is well past his expected prime. Was the second half of last year the last gasp for Big Papi, just a "rage against the dying of the light?" Or was an adjustment to new conditions and recovery from injury that will result in a productive, though no longer stellar, performance? Both of the projection systems think the latter, but they're both based on past results. It's not inconceivable that we're looking at a "last days of Jim Ed Rice" scenario, where the skills just disappear and that's the end. If so, he won't get 500 at-bats this year. I suspect that the projections are roughly correct, that he's got another productive year or two left.

I've given Ortiz 90% of the DH at-bats with the remaining 10% going to Victor Martinez.

Red Sox 2009 vs. 2010 - DH
PlayerABRunsHits2B3BHRRBIBBIBBHBPKSBCSSHSFGDPBAOBASPctOPSRCRC/25
David Ortiz (marcel)5188413635126957973112211411.264.363.493.85691.75.74
Victor Martinez (marcel)587163019600800001.287.361.452.8139.25.21
David Ortiz (PECOTA)5177813631127938273102111411.263.365.487.85391.55.72
Victor Martinez (PECOTA)577163029600800001.278.350.448.7988.84.96

2009 DH57683136352271038156145120711.236.333.444.77786.04.68
2010 DH (marcel)57691153381281058683120211513.266.363.489.851100.95.69
2010 DH (PECOTA)57586152341291028883111111513.265.364.483.847100.35.65

2010 DH projection: Ortiz continues to decline, but recovers somewhat from disaster Net small upgrade

Previous entries:
Introduction
Catcher
1B
2B
3B
SS
LF
CF
RF

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