Thursday, September 29, 2011

Let me just say this about that

The end was ... appropriate. Proportional to what led up to it.

This is what makes sports compelling. Storylines that would get thrown out of Hollywood script pitches as being too unlikely, too unrealistic...

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why "the market" has "failed" for health care...

There's something in this Washington Examiner editorial that is fundamental to the issue of health care in the United States. Fundamental, widely unknown and almost never publicly discussed.
Price signals, a staple of any functioning free market, have been muffled in health care, where third parties (insurers and the government) pay roughly 88 percent of health care costs, up from 52 percent in 1960. Because patients don't pay the bills, most of them have no idea how much services cost, let alone what they are worth. This leaves doctors and hospitals in a competitive vacuum where price and value bear little relation to one another.

When people talk about health care as a good for which the market doesn't work, and therefore the government needs to step in, they're completely missing the point that, for the most part, the market isn't working because it's been broken by the intervention of the government.

Q: Why do so many people have health insurance as a "fringe benefit" of their employment rather than purchasing an appropriate policy themselves?
A: Government intervention in the market.
While its origins can be traced back to 1929, when a group of Dallas teachers contracted with a hospital to cover inpatient services for a fixed annual premium, the link between employment and private health insurance was strengthened by three key government decisions in the 1940s and 1950s. First, during World War II the War Labor Board ruled that wage and price controls did not apply to fringe benefits such as health insurance, leading many employers to institute ESI. Second, in the late 1940s the National Labor Relations Board ruled that health insurance and other employee benefit plans were subject to collective bargaining. Third, in 1954 the Internal Revenue Service decreed that health insurance premiums paid by employers were exempt from income taxation.

Q: What is the consumer view of the price of health care services as fee-for-service is replaced by fee-for-insurance, with no direct costs associated with consumption of services?
A: The per-service price has dropped.

Q: On a demand curve, what happens to quantity demanded as price drops?
A: It increases.

Q: So, it's pretty clear that the transition to "insurer pays" theoretically increases demand for health care services. Has that actually happened?
A: Clearly.

Q: So, what happens in a market when quantity demanded increases?
A: Well, quantity supplied must increase to match it. Or there are going to be shortages.

Q: What makes quantity supplied increase?
A: Increased prices.

Q: But the increased prices would then cause the quantity demanded to drop, would it not?
A: Well, it would if the consumers were paying the service prices. But they are not. The purchasers of services are insurance companies and government agencies, not the consumers of those services. So the price goes up for the purchasers of health care insurance, but that price is disconnected from the price for the purchasers of health care services.

Price is a feedback mechanism. Price drops, quantity demanded increases and quantity supplied drops, until you reach an equilibrium, a point at which the price makes the quantities demanded and supplied the same. That's "the market" in action. But when the consumer of the services is not paying the cost of those services directly, there's no feedback mechanism, no incentive not to use the services. In fact, the incentive is opposite - "I'm paying for the insurance, the insurance will cover it, why not go do it?" Whether the "it" is an MRI for a migraine or an office visit for a cold or an emergency room visit for a muscle pull, if you're paying for coverage but not services, you're much, MUCH more likely to consume the services than if you were paying for them directly.

That's why it's infuriating to listen to people say that "the market doesn't work" in health care. There is no "market" in health care, and hasn't been for a long time. The consumers of services rarely, if ever, pay directly for services, so there are no direct controls on prices. And there's no price control on consumption.

And that's why Obamacare is a plan that moves in exactly the wrong direction to deal with the problems that we have. Our health care issues stem from rising demand for services, and the partisan plan that the Democrats rammed through last year does nothing whatsoever to curb that demand. It further increases the disconnect between the consumers of services and the payers of those services. The only conceivable result of that plan is forced rationing. Economically, there is no other option.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Solyndra Was Just a Bad Bet From the Beginning"

Good piece from Megan McArdle on why Solyndra was a bad idea from the start, tax dollars essentially flushed...
Scale matters--you can't take billion-dollar fliers on too many ideas. Appropriateness matters--retirees shouldn't put their living expenses in tech stocks. And the potential payoff matters--we should not invest billions to develop a slightly better form of white-out, or into experiments that have a 1-in-a-trillion chance of developing a low-cost way to turn lead into gold.

I think Solyndra flunks on all three counts.
Read it all.

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My favorite song...

...when I was four.

It still works. As does a LOT of what The Seekers did...

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Pythagorean 9/26/2011

One way or another, for good or for ill, this regular season is going to be over before the week is. One way or another, for good or for ill, the Red Sox cannot get out of this September soon enough...

  • How dismal has this 6-18 month been? They lost two games between wins on the 3rd and 6th. They lost two games between wins on the 13th and 16th. That's as close as they came to a winning streak.
  • The Red Sox played baseball games on five days this week. They lost a game on all five. The two wins were both the second halves of double headers.
  • Jekyll or Hyde? In two stretchs (2-10 to start, 6-18 in September) they played .222 ball for 36 games. In the 123 games in between, they were a .659 team, 81-42.
  • The second game In New York on Sunday was only the second time in the month of September that the Red Sox won a game without scoring 12 or more runs. It was also the first time all month that they scored between 5 and 10 runs.
  • The Red Sox' magic number is three. They need Tampa lose at least as many games at home against New York as the Red Sox lose in Baltimore against the Orioles. If the Sox go 3-0, it doesn't matter what the Rays do. If the Sox lose 1, they need the Rays to lose 1. If Boston loses 1 more than Tampa, they'll have a playoff game on Thursday. If Boston loses two more than Tampa, the Rays win the Wild Card. (All of this assumes that the Angels lose one or the Red Sox win one. If Boston loses three, the Angels win three and the Rays lose two, there will be a three-way tie, and I'm not going to go through the playoff scenarios that result from that right now. If Boston and Tampa get swept and the Angels sweep, the Sox and Angels would have a one-game playoff on Thursday.)
  • Tough to overstate the importance of Beckett pitching well tonight. The importance of the game in the standings goes without saying, but, in addition to that, the bullpen threw 12 innings yesterday. Beckett needs to pitch well and pitch long.
  • Some offense would help, too...
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Jacoby Ellsbury hit .382/.400/.765/1.165, and capped off his week with the 14th inning three-run HR that was crucial to getting out of New York with a lead in the playoff hunt.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - When the best start of the week comes from John Lackey, you know that none of the starters are getting it. So the award splits this week, between Alfredo Aceves (6 1/3) and Scott Atchison (7 1/3), who combined for 13 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
New York5.38(2)4.02(3)0.63(1)100599762-3
Tampa Bay4.36(9)3.78(1)0.565(4)89698870-1
Los Angeles4.18(10)3.88(2)0.534(6)847486722
Kansas City4.55(6)4.75(11)0.481(8)76826989-7
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9963
Tampa Bay9072
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York9963
Tampa Bay9072
Standings for the week
Kansas City7.25(2)3.75(2)0.77(2)3122-1
New York5.75(8)4.13(4)0.647(3)53621
Los Angeles5.33(9)3.83(3)0.647(4)4233-1
Tampa Bay5.17(10)4.17(5)0.597(5)4233-1

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Service music - 9/25/01

Service music, Park Street Church Sanctuary Choir, 9/25/11

May The Mind of Christ My Savior

The King of Love

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New clothes

Sudbury Colonial Faire and Muster...

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Friday, September 23, 2011

A cartoon of a picture is worth...

Michael Ramirez:

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A brief look at the catastrophe that has been Red Sox September

Peter Abraham:
It’s not difficult to determine why the Sox have lost 14 of their last 18 games. Their starting pitchers are 3-9 with a 6.75 earned run average and 1.63 WHIP in those 18 games.


Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller, and Kyle Weiland have produced two quality starts since Sept. 3. One was by Lester Sept. 6 against Toronto, the other by Beckett Sept. 16 against Tampa Bay. Those are two of the four games the Sox have won.

Yeah, it's not quite that easy, Peter. Yes, the starters have been bad. But Boston is now 5-16 in the month of September, and their lead in the Wild Card race is down to two games with six to play. If they were 10-11 in September, they'd already have clinched a playoff spot, and they are still likely to do so. So, is it just a matter of the starters performing badly?

The short answer: No. Yes, they've been pretty poor. No, they aren't solely to blame for the swoon, not even close to it.
  1. The bullpen. There certainly has been some overuse in the middle innings caused by starters not getting deep enough. But consider this - the whole game plan for the Sox, all year, is to try to get an 8th inning lead for Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon to finish off.
    • On September 1, Aceves and Bard combined to give up three in the seventh to turn a 2-1 lead into a 4-2 deficit. Loss.
    • On September 7, Bard blew a lead in the 8th, giving up 5 runs to turn a 2 run lead into a 3 run deficit. Loss.
    • Bard lost another one on the 10th, giving up a run in the 11th inning of a tie game after facing just three batters. Loss.
    • Bard gave up 3 with a 2-run lead in the 8th inning on the 14th. Loss.
    • Bard and Papelbon combined to give up 3 with a one-run lead on the 20th. Loss.
    Turn two of those losses into wins, and their magic number is three with six to play, and there's significantly less hyperventilating.

    I don't care for Wins and Losses as a metric for pitcher effectiveness, but I think this is telling. The Red Sox starters are 4-10 in September. The bullpen is 1-6. And a couple of those starter losses came when the starter left the game with a lead or at least tied and the bullpen allowed the winning, or tying and winning, run(s) to score.

    They've been almost as bad at the end of the game as they've been at the beginning.

    Red Sox bullpen - 9/2011
    ERA for 7-11th innings:5.22

    ERA in losses for 7-11th innings:5.93

    Have the starters been bad? Yep. Has the bullpen been any better? Not against established standards of performance, no they haven't.

  2. The offense. (The cry rises from the peanut gallery: "The offense? Are you nuts? They're averaging 5.8 runs per game in September! This is not an offensive problem!") Well, yes, they are averaging 5.8 runs per game in September. But remember that old saw about the man with his feet in the freezer and his head in the oven being, on average, at a pretty comfortable temperature? Ladies and Gentlemen, I present your September 2011 Boston Red Sox offense.

    Five times in their 21 September games, they've scored in double digits (10, 12, 14, 18, 18). In those five games, they're 4-1. In the other 16, they scored five or fewer. In the double-digit games, they averaged 14.4 runs/game. In the other 16, they averaged 3.125. If you're failing to score 6 or more runs in 76% of your games, you're putting up a very bad offensive performance.

    Red Sox offense - 9/2011


    Double-digit games206728826013692637.427.496.7431.23914.4065.913.3

    The other 1654050121314114945117.224.282.357.6393.1352.43.0

    They've had five strong offensive games, and then they've been awful. In more than three quarters of their games, they got performances like David Ortiz (.231/.333/.250/.583) and Dustin Pedroia (.194/.219/.339/.557) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.265/.292/.426/.718) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.139/.162/.333/.495) and Jason Varitek (.050/.136/.200/.336) and Jed Lowrie (.000/.048/.000/.048) and Josh Reddick (.209/.244/.279/.524) and Kevin Youkilis (.150/.261/.200/.461). They've lost 5-4, 4-3, 3-2 and 1-0. Shut out twice, one of which took 11 innings.

    They lost 3 of 4 in Toronto despite outscoring the Jays by 9 in the series. They scored 24 in the middle two games, and 4 runs in the bookends. They lost 3 of 4 at home to Baltimore despite outscoring the Orioles by 6. They scored 18 runs in one game, 14 in the other four combined.

    It's certainly an indictment of the pitching staff that they've gone 1-14 when scoring fewer than 10 runs, but it's an indictment of this offense that they've had 15 games in which they scored fewer than six, 11 (more than half) in which they've scored fewer than five and seven games in which they failed to score at least four.

    They struggled against Mariano Rivera and James Shields and David Price, but they also struggled against Pedro Strop and Willie Eyre and Jason Berken.

    The offense has been full partners in the "swoon." The offense has been just as ineffective as the pitching, or nearly so, but the nature of the beast allows for spectacular performances to skew the averages badly, and that's what they've done. A spectacular pitching performance, on the other hand, such as allowing 1 run in the 11th after 10 scoreless, can't make up for a bad one. So it looks like the pitching has been much worse. But it hasn't. Probably a little worse, but not MUCH worse.
I have zero interest in castigating the GM. Or the manager. Through the end of August, they were on a pace to win 100+ games. This is a talented team that's just played horribly in all phases of the game for three weeks. The slumps have all come together and they had two starters get hurt in three days when they already had two on the shelf, which challenged the depth. It's been painful to watch, and certainly, the starting pitching has been bad.

My only point is this - so has everything else. The relief pitching has been bad. The offense has been bad. They've lost games this month with bad starting pitching, bad relief pitching, bad base-running, bad batting and bad defense. (And bad luck. Barrel of the bat takes out the SS and directly leads to four runs scoring? Diving 3rd baseman lands on the base for a double play? Murphy's Law has been in full force.)

It may continue for another week, in which case they'll probably miss the playoffs. And they may come out of it. Either way, if they're still playing after next Wednesday, all of what's just happened has no bearing on what will happen going forward.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Via (shockingly) MSNBC:

Ok, here are a few words. We don't know exactly what the situation was when the picture was snapped. Not everyone is looking at the camera, so presumably the cameraman hadn't just told them, "say cheese!" Maybe it was just an accident that the photographer caught the oblivious egotistical narcissist looking like an oblivious egotistical narcissist. Maybe the picture isn't fair.


(At least his jacket appears to be buttoned correctly...)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Correlation is not causation

Glenn Reynolds, with another Higher Education "Bubble" update, quotes Robert Weissberg:
Administrative bloat is a major factor in the escalation of college costs, and ‘diversity’ administrators are probably the biggest part of it.
I think that's probably exactly backwards. Looking at colleges as businesses, I suspect that administrative bloat is actually one of the major results of the escalation of college costs, and diversity administrators are one of the biggest parts of that. That is to say, costs aren't going up because colleges are hiring more administrators - they are hiring more administrators because they have more money coming in. They have more money coming in because we've made a decision, as a society, that the path to success in this world includes the credentials that come with a college degree, and because Uncle Sam has stepped in with untold billions of dollars in guaranteed loans to enable people to go.

Stop and think about this from a business point of view for a minute. Let's assume that I'm running a college, and every year I have 1000 applicants for 800 slots in my incoming Freshman class. I go through the applicants, and, based on whatever criteria I choose, I come up with 800. Half of them can pay the nominal $15,000 per year tuition and fees, the other half get help from my endowment fund, and in the end, I end up with 800 students who are going to come in and pay somewhere around $10,000 per person, total. So I've got $8 million in revenue from that class for that year. If I drop the nominal price, I'm going to take in less, and I believe that if I raise it, I'll actually eliminate some of my applicants and probably not increase my revenue, either.

Now Uncle Sam stands up and says, "hey, you, barely literate, barely numerate graduate of our nation's fine public high schools - don't go to work in a factory or become a plumber or electrician. We'll loan you the money to follow your dream of becoming the Next Great Women's Studies Professor." And makes available to every high school graduate a $4000-per year, no questions asked loan. (You'll have to pay it off, of course, but that's out there in the future, and that Anthropology or Medieval English Literature degree will certainly vastly increase your lifetime earning potential.) What do I, as someone running a college, now see when I look out at the world?

"Hey! Every one of my applicants, every one of them, can afford to pay $4000 more per year than he or she could last year!"

Am I going to raise rates by $4000 in year one? Maybe not. But it's not going to take too long to get there. Why would I, as a greedy businessman, forgo profit that there's to be made if I can increase profits by increasing revenues? Or, to put a less cynical spin on it, why would I, as an idealistic educator, forgo the opportunity to improve my facilities and increase my endowment if the students who are growing at my nurturing institution can avail themselves of a little federal money to improve our school's general welfare?

No one's attending school anywhere because that school has "great diversity administrators!" Schools are hiring "diversity administrators" to make sure that they keep their first class seats on Uncle Sam's gravy train...

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Pythagorean 9/19/2011

Staggering to the finish line? If they make it there at all after another 2-4 week...

  • We've a wonderful example here of averages lying. The Red Sox scored 6 runs per game this week, 2nd in the AL. But. 18 of the 36 runs they scored came in one blowout win. In the other five games, they averaged 3.6 runs per game, and went 1-4.
  • If the Red Sox end up missing the playoffs, these last two weekends will be largely responsible, as they've gone 1-6 vs. Tampa. One more in one of those six losses, and they've be in pretty good shape still. (And frankly, they're still in pretty good shape. With 10 games left, it's much better to be two up than two back.)
  • There have been some injury problems, and the pitching hasn't been great. It would be nice to have a healthy Youkilis. It would have been nice to have another start from Beckett, and a good performance from Lester, and maybe a couple of Bedard starts instead of Wakefield and/or Weiland. But. The guys who are there have been bad. The eight regulars who've played in all seven of those games (six of seven in the case of Saltalamacchia) hit .216/.283/.319/.602 over the two weekends. Shockingly, the only one of the eight who was decent was Crawford. The rest were abysmal.
    Carl Crawford                 .364/.391/.455/.846
    Jacoby Ellsbury               .276/.290/.448/.739
    David Ortiz                   .250/.357/.292/.649
    Josh Reddick                  .278/.350/.278/.628
    Marco Scutaro                 .200/.222/.320/.542
    Dustin Pedroia                .192/.250/.231/.481
    Adrian Gonzalez               .048/.259/.190/.450
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia         .100/.143/.300/.443
  • Boston has seven remaining with Baltimore and three with New York. Tampa has seven remaining with New York and three with Toronto.
  • Boston's magic number is seven.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - None
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Josh Beckett returned and pitched well in their only victory against the Rays, one of the biggest wins of the year.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
New York5.36(2)4.01(3)0.629(1)95569160-4
Tampa Bay4.33(7)3.76(1)0.564(4)86668567-1
Los Angeles4.13(10)3.88(2)0.529(6)807283693
Kansas City4.48(6)4.77(12)0.471(10)73816787-6

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9864
Tampa Bay9171

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York9864
Tampa Bay9171

Standings for the week
Kansas City6.67(1)4(7)0.718(2)42511
Tampa Bay4.71(8)3.71(5)0.607(4)43430
New York4(11)3.5(4)0.561(5)33330
Los Angeles4.83(7)4.33(9)0.55(7)33330

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The Servant Song

Park Street Church, 9/18/2011

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Boston 4, Tampa 3

Well that was a big freakin' win.

Bard, three strikeouts in scoreless 8th. Beckett six pretty strong innings, only one run after the first. They beat Shields.

And most importantly, Tampa now cannot catch them without help - the Rays will leave town, done with head-to-head, and still be two games back. AT LEAST two games back.

Just huge...

Boston's magic number is now 9, with 12 games to play.

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NY Times: "Yes, everything we ever said about bipartisanship was a lie."

Over at the New York Times this morning, there's an astounding editorial.
As soon as he proposed to pay for his $447 billion jobs plan with tax increases, President Obama knew he was going to do battle with Republicans. But he is also being challenged by Democrats because they cannot face another big pre-election fight or are thinking more about campaign contributors than the country’s best interests.
Is that it? Those are the only two choices? The Democrats are scared of a fight or are putting campaign contributions ahead of the country's best interests? (And let's face it, that's only one choice - political interests are trumping national interests.) And that's the only thing that the Times could come up with? How an idea, Mr. Big-shot New York Times Editorial Writer. Maybe the Democrats, along with the Republicans, recognize the President's "plan" for what it is - a nakedly partisan, cynically political attempt to improve his own public standing at the expense of Congress', a "plan" that contains nothing but a re-hash of all the things he's already done that haven't worked, a "plan" that would do nothing to increase the economic well-being of the country but would, instead, continue to increase the already staggering debt without creating a single job in the process.

What's funniest about the whole thing, though, is the sheer chutzpah of the Times, one of the foremost "bipartisanship" fetishists, whining about what they normally cry out for. This is prima facie evidence that what they want isn't bipartisanship - it's liberal policies. This editorial renders every future cry they make for bipartisanship even more farcical than the ones they've made in the past. "Bipartisanship," like "civil discourse," is a political weapon to use against Republicans, not an actual trait that they really give a damn about, and this editorial is proof of that. Keep that in mind the next time Republicans refuse to agree with Democrats and the inevitable plaintive cries of longing for "bipartisanship" rise from the offices of the Times' editorial staff.

There's more "good stuff" in the piece, too.
Some Democrats oppose the jobs bill for its apparent connection to the stimulus law from 2009, which Republicans lambasted on their way to victories in the midterm elections in 2010. The problem with the stimulus bill is not that it did not work. [LB: There are others, too, of course, but yeah, the big problem obviously is that it did not work.] The problem is that neither the administration nor Congressional Democrats ever persuasively used the evidence of its positive effect on jobs, as documented by the Congressional Budget Office and in private economic analyses.
The reason that they never "persuasively used the evidence" is that there isn't any. Or, rather, that the evidence that exists is so weak that it cannot possibly be used "persuasively" to convince someone who didn't already wholeheartedly believe it without the evidence. The CBO report1 that showed the stimulus working started with the model that they used to design the stimulus, the model that showed "if you do x, y will happen," and used the model to say "look, we did x, therefore y happened - the model proves it!" The Times' own pet Nobel Laureate, Paul Krugman, has spent the last two years telling us that it didn't work (because it wasn't big enough). The idea that it was a colossal success that the administration is being too modest to take the credit for is well beyond silly, rapidly approaching insane.
Economists have estimated that Mr. Obama’s plan, if fully adopted, could create 1.3 million to 1.9 million jobs next year.
Yes, and what did those same economists estimate would happen with Mr. Obama's first plan? That it would prevent unemployment from topping 8%.

Here's the President's economic adviser Cristina Romer, on her way out the door a year ago:
What the Act hasn’t done is prevent unemployment from going above 8 percent, something else that Jared and I projected it would do.
Precisely because such severe financial shocks have been rare, there were no reliable estimates of the likely impact. To this day, economists don’t fully understand why firms cut production as much as they did, and why they cut labor so much more than they normally would, given the decline in output.
So obviously, there's no way they could be over-estimating the impact of doing more of the same thing that worked so well last time, right?
The Republicans will not support the jobs bill, if only because Mr. Obama wants it. Americans need Democrats to step up now, and for Mr. Obama to lead them.
Again, can they not see any other possible reason? Is it really beyond the realm of comprehension that someone might look at that "plan" and think, "you know, that's really not a very good idea"?

Apparently not.

It would be comical if it weren't so damaging...

1 - Congressional Budget Office report:
Estimating the law’s overall effects on employment requires a more comprehensive analysis than can be achieved by using the recipients’ reports. Therefore, looking at recorded spending to date along with estimates of the other effects of ARRA on spending and revenues, CBO has estimated the law’s impact on employment and economic output using evidence about the effects of previous similar policies and drawing on various mathematical models that represent the workings of the economy.

More from Romer:
The reason that prediction was so far off is implicit in much of what I have been saying this afternoon. An estimate of what the economy will look like if a policy is adopted contains two components: a forecast of what would happen in the absence of the policy, and an estimate of the effect of the policy. As I’ve described, our estimates of the impact of the Recovery Act have proven quite accurate. But we, like virtually every other forecaster, failed to anticipate just how violent the recession would be in the absence of policy, and the degree to which the usual relationship between GDP and unemployment would break down.
How do we know that the estimates have "proven quite accurate"? Well, our models suggest that that's what happens. Despite that, as noted above, and in her own words, "there were no reliable estimates of the likely impact" of "such severe financial shocks."

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A couple of economists

Here are two links that you should follow and read. One of the problems that we really need to come to grips with, as a society, is our tendency to ignore trade-offs. These guys did not.
Stephen Heyward at PowerLine on Hayek vs. Keynes.

Amity Shlaes at Bloomberg on Bastiat and broken windows.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

A little media quiz this morning

If you've been paying attention, the following quiz should be easy. It deals with this story from Reuters:
The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose ____________ last week in a sign concerns about a weak economy were sapping an already beleaguered labor market, data showed on Thursday.

Applications for unemployment benefits climbed to 428,000 in the week ending September 10 from an upwardly revised 417,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said.

Which of the following words was removed from the story?
  • a) sharply
  • b) slightly
  • c) unexpectedly
  • d) predictably

And the answer is ... c) unexpectedly!

To re-quote Jim Geraghty,
If I find myself in a fistfight, I hope it's with one of these economists who are always getting quoted by Reuters or Bloomberg, because then I'll rest assured that I'll always have the element of surprise. These guys never expect everything.
Semi-serious question: does the Reuters style book require that its journalists refer to all increases in jobless claims as "unexpected"?

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Deja vu...

...all over again.

Tuesday night (9/6), the bats explode and the Red Sox win by double digits against the Blue Jays.
Wednesday (9/7), they take a lead against the Jays into the late innings, and a Daniel Bard meltdown costs them the win.

Tuesday night (9/13), the bats explode and the Red Sox win by double digits against the Blue Jays.
Wednesday (9/14), they take a lead against the Jays into the late innings, and a Daniel Bard meltdown costs them the win.

Hopefully, the wayback machine is now broken, and we don't continue down the path to a sweep by the Rays over the Sox...

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Worse and worse: New e-mails show White House rushed OMB to approve Solyndra loan

Haven't been following the Solyndra story? It can be difficult, I know, when the mainstream press isn't interested. But thanks to the internet, there are outlets for stuff that the press would have been able to suppress 15 years ago. There's a lot of bad behavior here...
Until now, the White House has insisted that it didn’t intervene in the deal, but what else would you call it if, due to time constraints, OMB was forced to use a possibly sub-standard model that led to approval of a loan that everyone else knew shouldn’t have been made?

This is how much these people care about taxpayer money. Half a billion dollars down the tubes because they wanted to get one of their speeches just right.

In terms of our current financial situation, of course, half a billion dollars is meaningless. But it is indicative of mindset.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Report spurs UW students to action

The Badger Herald: Report spurs UW students to action
Two reports released today allege the University of Wisconsin discriminates against whites and Asian applicants and have electrified both UW administration and some student leaders.

A crowd of more than 150 students filled the Multicultural Student Center in the Red Gym on Monday after an ominous message from UW Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate Damon Williams claimed a threat had been made against the diversity efforts in the campus community.

The reports were released at midnight on Tuesday from the Center for Equal Opportunity in conjunction with a press conference CEO President Roger Clegg will hold at the Double Tree Inn at 11 a.m. today. Clegg will also be at a debate on the future of Affirmative Action at the UW Law School at 7 p.m. this evening.

Williams said the timing of the events is no coincidence.

In an interview with The Badger Herald, Clegg said the reports show how a heavy preference is given to blacks and Latinos over whites and Asians in the admissions process for undergraduate programs and in the law school.

In other news, scientists announced this morning that the sun will set in the west tonight.

This is news that "electrified" people? Seriously? Is there someone out there that didn't know that Universities practice racial discrimination? That the Supreme Court told them that they could? Someone's missed that? What is affirmative action other than an institutionalized racial discrimination policy?

But, hey, they're all "electrified" by the news that winter tends to be cooler than summer, and the University of Wisconsin's "vice provost for diversity and climate" (and how did education ever take place with no one filling that vital position?) is on the case...

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The Programmed President

Good piece in Human Events by Daniel J. Flynn:
Only in the bizarro world of liberalism is a program’s inefficacy considered a compelling argument to expand that program....

Reality is a rude affront to grand ideas.

Friedman, one of the Blue Collar Intellectuals included in my forthcoming book, waited tables, sold fireworks by the roadside, and peddled encyclopedias door-to-door before winning a Nobel Prize in economics. Obama collected signatures for Ralph Nader’s NYPIRG and taught in a law school before becoming president. Notice a difference?

The real world grounds ideas. Ideological fantasies send minds into the ether.

People armed with programs have usually been programmed. What they lack in ideas they make up in ideology. Ideologues don’t think. Their ideologies do this for them. Like a robot, the ideologue’s mental circuits overheat when confronted with a situation he hasn’t been programmed for.

Read it all...

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New England 38, Miami 24

Odds and ends, while contemplating New England's second consecutive 38-24 season opening win...

  • I'll confess myself shocked to look at the box score this morning and discover that Miami had the ball for three minutes longer than New England, and ran two more plays. It felt, watching it, as if the Dolphins defense could not get off the field, and that the Patriots just had the ball all night. I commented during the third quarter, or early in the fourth, that "the Patriots have got to be absolutely dominating the time of possession in this game." Obviously, that's not exactly what happened, at least by the final numbers.
  • Here's why I was right (at the time) and wrong overall.
    1. By the time we got to that point in the game, I'd forgotten that the Dolphins had the ball first, and had over 7 minutes of possession time and 12 plays before New England ever touched it.
    2. The Dolphins had the ball for the last 2:32. So Miami had the ball first and last, with about 10 minutes of possession total.
    3. The Patriots had four 4th quarter drives. Two were three and out. One took only one play. They averaged over 11 yards per play in the 4th quarter. It's tough to consume a lot of clock when you're moving the ball that quickly - the field is only 100 yards long.
    Between Miami's first and last drives, New England had the ball for about 28 1/2 minutes to the Dolphins' 22, and ran 72 plays to the Dolphins' 54.
  • The phony-baloney interceptionless streak ended. Not that the streak itself wasn't incredibly impressive - what was "phony-baloney" about it was that it was still officially continuing, despite his throwing an absolutely awful killer pick that played a huge part in their losing a playoff game last year. So now he can start a new one.
  • The first Miami drive was ... concerning. The defense allowed them to march right down the field and put the ball in the end zone.
  • Likewise, for Chad Henne to put the ball up 49 times and get picked only once, on the last play of the game, for him to get sacked just four times and throw for 416 yards, is not what you're looking for from the defense.
  • On the very significant plus side for the defense, however, is this: 2-of-14. The Dolphins converted only two of 14 third downs for first downs. New England's inability to get off the field on third downs last year was its Achilles heel. Of course, as gaudy as that 14% conversion rate is, it looks a little tarnished when you consider that Miami was also 4-of-5 on 4th downs, for a drive-extension conversion rate of 6-of-19, or about 32%. Still a big improvement over last year's typical effort.
  • About the offense, there's very little to say. They've got an all-time great quarterback, at pretty much the peak of his abilities, with good protection and excellent tools to work with. I think they're likelier than not to lead the NFL in scoring this year, and I expect them to top the 38 they put up last night on more than one occasion...

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Pythagorean 9/12/2011

I don't even have a rant this week. They were not only bad, they were unwatchably bad, and my only commentary was that I found it impossible to sit through the entirety of any of those games. Even the one win was bad baseball, because it was over very early...

  • Even with the Yankees losing four straight to Baltimore and LAnaheim, the deficit continued to increase. If they haven't been eliminated from the division yet, and they haven't, neither have they locked up the Wild Card. This was about as bad a week of baseball as they've played all year, and the fact that they are still in a playoff spot is due to good work that they did earlier, not anything that they've done recently.
  • In the cold light of reason, I must now say this - they are still likely to make the playoffs. They've got four more home games and five fewer road games remaining than the Rays, and they've been a better team all year, and the race has gotten close as Tampa's had a hot streak that coincided with a dreadful Boston slump. Neither of those things is likely to continue much longer.
  • Of course, neither has to go much longer for Tampa to pass Boston...
  • The offense looked much better than it actually was, as they scored a ton of runs in games where it did them no particular good (14 runs in a shutout win, 10 more in a loss - they could have gone 1-1 in those games scoring 1 as opposed to 24.) But they couldn't seem to get enough hits at the right times to take the battered pitching staff off the hook. And when they did get a well-pitched game, they didn't score at all, losing 1-0 in 11 innings.
  • They actually outscored Toronto by over two runs per game in the course of losing 3-of-4.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Marco Scutaro (.464/.500/.714/1.214) was outstanding against his former team, the Blue Jays, and kept up his hot streak through the weekend in Tampa.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - I'm open to nominations. Ok, no, I'm really not. The pitching was awful this week, and the few guys who were effective, weren't effective enough for long enough to warrant awarding.
  • Red Sox Goat of the Week - I feel the need to mention two who warrant special mention. And I hate to do it, because as two of the better and more important players on the team, each is a big part of the reason that they are still in a playoff spot right now. But each was bad enough this week to warrant "special" mention. First, for the offense, we have Dustin Pedroia (.097/.125/.129/.254) with about as offensive a performance as you'll ever see. Capable of getting very, very hot, he's also capable of the opposite. He's stranding runners, killing innings, and just crippling their ability to come back. And Daniel Bard not gave up six runs in only three innings of work, he's almost single-handedly responsible for me having to listen to more "when will Tim Wakefield win his 200th game" talk.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
New York5.41(1)4.03(3)0.631(1)92538857-4
Tampa Bay4.31(7)3.77(1)0.562(4)816481640
Los Angeles4.1(10)3.86(2)0.528(6)776980663
Kansas City4.39(6)4.8(12)0.459(11)68806286-6

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9864
Tampa Bay9072

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York9963
Tampa Bay9171

Standings for the week
Los Angeles4(10)2.17(1)0.754(2)5142-1
Tampa Bay5.33(3)3.5(5)0.684(4)42511
Kansas City4(10)4.43(8)0.454(8)34431
New York4.43(7)5.14(10)0.432(10)34340

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Service music - 9/11/01

The Sanctuary Choir at Park Street Church, Boston, MA.

Introit: My Hope Is In The Lord
Anthem: Beautiful Savior


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Fifes and drums. And sheep...

Scenes from the jam session that followed the 2011 Drummers Call, on the village green at Old Sturbridge Village, 9/10/2011.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where I was on 9/11

(I wrote this on 9/11/2005, the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. I'm reposting it today on the 10th anniversary. I haven't changed or added anything.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It made me feel sick.

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

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

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

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

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


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Friday, September 09, 2011

10 years ago today...

... right about now, we pulled out of the Vince Lombardi rest stop on the New Jersey turnpike and I told my kids (who had never been that far south before) to look at that building. "See that? It looks like one building, but you keep your eyes on it, and you're going to see it split into two as we drive. Those are the two tallest buildings in New York..."

Two days later, they were gone.


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Restaurants want a piece of food stamp pie

In a rational society, do you confiscate from some to send others to Pizza Hut?
The number of businesses approved to accept food stamps grew by a third from 2005 to 2010, U.S. Department of Agriculture records show, as vendors from convenience and dollar discount stores to gas stations and pharmacies increasingly joined the growing entitlement program.

Now, restaurants, which typically have not participated in the program, are lobbying for a piece of the action.

Louisville-based Yum! Brands, whose restaurants include Taco Bell, KFC, Long John Silver's and Pizza Hut, is trying to get restaurants more involved, federal lobbying records show.
The question answers itself...

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"961 days in, Obama becomes sick and tired of someone dawdling about jobs"

Andrew Malcolm:
Obama, whose Democratic spending priorities have pushed the national debt beyond $14,000,000,000,000, said it was important to curb spending and keep to the deficit reduction plan agreed to earlier this summer while also investing in, you know, many important things.

He then provided a joint session of Congress with a broadly ambitious list of goals that sounded to many people very much like a lot more spending, like, say, the $787 billion economic stimulus bill of 2009 that didn't stimulate much of anything except that national debt.

With the national debt already increasing $3 million every minute of every day, Obama wants to repair and modernize 35,000 schools. Obama wants $35 billion to go toward salaries for teachers, firefighters and police.

Obama wants $140 billion largely to update roads and bridges. Obama wants another $245 billion in business and individual tax relief. He also wants to extend unemployment benefits.

And he wants it all right now. Seriously. Now that his Martha's Vineyard vacation is over, this situation is urgent.

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Don't have time for the full rant...

...but wanted to note this anyway. "Wins" are a lousy metric for evaluating starting pitchers. Here's just another little nugget of evidence.

On two consecutive nights, the Red Sox starting pitcher allows five runs in five innings. And the game stories in the Globe aren't even similar.
Wakefield handed an 8-5 lead to the bullpen.

Miller was better this time, allowing five runs in five innings. But that was far from good enough.

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Well, yes...

Glenn Reynolds: "But what’s really juvenile is expecting that an inexperienced former community organizer could successfully execute the office of President of the United States..."

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This is just a little thing...

... but it's so typical of the prevailing bias in the press. This example is from the Hill, a purportedly non-partisan site that covers Washington Politics.

Obama does not appear open to meeting with Cantor, Boehner before speech
The president's speech to Congress — originally planned for Wednesday night, before Boehner rebuffed Obama for trying to upstage a scheduled GOP primary debate — will be aggressive in trying to pressure Republicans to sign on to Obama's jobs plan, Carney said.

If it was "originally planned" for Wednesday, that plan was only on the part of the White House. They never asked for, nor received, permission from the House, half of one of the three co-equal branches of the government, for their plan. They solicited an invitation, and pouted and whined when it wasn't at exactly the time that they wanted it.

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My favorite line from the debate last night...

...came from Mitt Romney, and represented what we heard several times, from several of the candidates.

Mitt Romney:
Right now we have people who on this stage care very deeply about this country. We love America. America's in crisis. We have some differences between us but we will agree that this President's got to go. This President's a nice guy - he doesn't have a clue how to get this country working again...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Michael Ramirez:

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

More civility from the left

I repeat myself here, but calls for "civil discourse" from Democrats and the media (OK, redundant) are "not a general principle, but a political weapon that the left can use to cudgel the right."

Well, here's more civil discourse from the left.
Teamsters President James Hoffa said there's been a war on workers.

"We've got a bunch of people there that don't want the president to succeed, and they're called the tea party," he said.

"Let's take these son of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong," he said.

Of course, the President will take the earliest possible moment to encourage everyone to speak in a civil manner, to "make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."

Ha ha ha...

Ok, what actually happened is that the President took the same stage and told everyone how happy he was to be there with the great labor leaders, and questioned whether Republicans in Congress "will put country before party" (which they would do, apparently, by passing whatever jobs bill the President puts forward.)

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Monday Pythagorean 9/5/2011

One good week, one bad week. Many more like this one, and they'll be the Wild Card...

  • Really, I've got nothing to say about this week. They played badly, both offensively and defensively (Which means, in a baseball context, primarily pitching.) They played two of their likely playoff opponents and got their butts kicked. They repeatedly failed to get a big hit, or many small ones. They repeatedly failed to get a big out, or many small ones. It was a teamwide failure, and made for just dismal watching most of the way. When they led, it felt tenuous; when they trailed, it felt insurmountable. I suspect my feelings about the week are even more negative than the week was, as they went 2-4, not 0-6, and they lost 3 1/2 in the standings rather than 5 1/2. Be that as it may, there was about 10 minutes of this week that I enjoyed.
  • Start the week 2 games up, finish the week 1 1/2 games back. And this was one of the stretches where they had the schedule advantage, as they played six at home and the Yankees played three at home, four on the road. The schedule advantage that Boston had is not gone, because the Yankees still have that trip west, but they squandered a big part of it on this very disappointing 4-5 homestand.
  • Thank goodness they at least won one of the games against New York. The Yankees would have been 7-0 otherwise. And I suspect that the Blue Jays are going to put up more of a fight for the next four days in Rogers Center (nee Skydome) than they did over the past three in Yankee Stadium.
  • It's nice that Youkilis is back. It'd be even better if he remembered how to hit.
  • It's nice that Crawford hit a couple of home runs, but he continues to be an out machine.
  • Crawford's OBP for the week? .318. And this was one of his good weeks. OBP for the season? .286. Unspeakably hideous. JD Drew took a lot of abuse from the Boston fan base for his disappointing 2007, his first in a Red Sox uniform, and it started early. Certain opinion makers in the Boston market didn't like the signing, and he was a target for abuse and dissatisfaction from the start. But if you look at his stats on September 5, 2007 and look at Crawford's today, you'll see that Drew was much more productive during his first five months in Boston than Crawford has been. And played just as much as Crawford has. But no one's said much about Crawford yet, other than to note that he hasn't been good. No one's putting his name on a list of "worst signings ever," which people were doing with Drew from the start. I'm not going to do that, either, but he hasn't been bad this year - he's been horrible, dreadful, hideously awful, and it warrants pointing out.
  • Right this minute, I do not have the confidence that this team is as good as its record. I don't know why that is, I don't suspect that it's fair, but that's the way I feel about it. They're obviously going to the playoffs, but are they going to beat the Rangers or Tigers in a five game series? Yes, I know, it's a crapshoot, and I know that, but I don't feel good about them. I'm concerned that they can't seem to get a dominant performance out of Lester against anyone. His ERA is great for the last three months, but he struggles to get through six, leaving a lot of innings for the bullpen. I don't want to see John Lackey or Tim Wakefield or Andrew Miller start a playoff game. I worry that midnight has struck for Matt Albers, Dan Wheeler's done nothing, I don't trust Franklin Morales as far as I could throw him, and Bard and Papelbon can't give them four innings every night.
  • OK, they're still a pretty good team. They're still going to be playing October baseball. Anything can still happen. But I'm in a Red Sox grumpy mood this morning.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Ellsbury had another outstanding week, including a huge HR in one of the two wins. But the best performance of the week was from David Ortiz (.368/.520/.579/1.099), who continues to demonstrate that reports of his demise as an offensive force were greatly exaggerated. Or at the very least, premature.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Uh, no. No one. Yes, Lester did only allow one run, but only pitched five. Bedard allowed three over six (and earned his first Win in a Red Sox uniform in the process), which is a Quality Start, but not a great one. The rest of the starting performances were all worse. And the bullpen tended to come in and turn competitive games into non-competitive games. No pitcher of the week. (Don't like it, guys? Maybe give up fewer than seven [7] runs per game, and see what happens...)

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
New York5.46(1)3.98(3)0.641(1)88508553-3
Tampa Bay4.27(7)3.78(1)0.555(4)77627663-1
Los Angeles4.11(10)3.94(2)0.519(5)736776643
Kansas City4.41(6)4.82(12)0.459(11)65765883-7
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York10062
Tampa Bay8973
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York10062
Tampa Bay8973
Standings for the week
New York5(7)3.43(2)0.666(4)52611
Kansas City5.71(4)5(7)0.561(6)4334-1
Los Angeles5.71(4)5.14(8)0.548(7)43430
Tampa Bay3.57(12)3.43(2)0.519(8)4334-1

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Friday, September 02, 2011

To ask is to answer...

Instapundit: "If “market failure” is an excuse for taking power away from markets, shouldn’t “government failure” be a reason to take power away from government?"


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When Grizzly Bears Attack …

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help..."
A North Idaho man killed a grizzly bear that was threatening his family. Now he could face jail time if the Obama administration has its way.

Rachel Hill looked out her bedroom window on the evening of Mother’s Day and saw three grizzly bears attacking the children’s 4H club pigs’ pen. The Hill children had been outside practicing basketball a half hour earlier, so seeing the bears concerned her and her husband, Jeremy Hill. After calling for his kids and hearing no response, Jeremy grabbed his daughter’s rifle. After once more calling for the kids, fearing they were in danger, he shot at the closest grizzly bear, which was about 120 feet away.

The other two grizzlies fled while the wounded bear began to run off in the same direction, but then turned and came towards the house. Hill shot the bear a final time due to the danger a severely wounded grizzly bear posed to his family and others. Hill called two officials with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. They came out, investigated, and unsuccessfully tried to capture the other two grizzly bears by placing bear traps on the property.

Regardless of the danger to Hill’s family, grizzly bears are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, thus the federal government is prosecuting him. If convicted, Hill could face up to one year in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Yup. Kill a grizzly. Save a woodpecker. Send your kids to school with a lunch. Leave a pocket-knife in an emergency kit in your glove compartment. Try to buy a cold medicine that works. It's all the same. Got to make a law, got to enforce a law, because that's the only way to legislatively enact Utopia.

Not new, of course. And it's been commented on before...
There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted -- and you create a nation of law-breakers-and then you cash in on the guilt.
- Ayn Rand

As a general rule, there is no situation so bad, no condition so dire and desperate, that it cannot be made worse by those with a vision of an earthly Utopia...

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Stat of the day

Josh Beckett has made five starts against the New York Yankees, pitching a total of 34 innings. He's 4-0, while the team has won all five of the starts.

He gave up four runs in the first 32 innings he pitched against the Yankees in 2011. He gave up four runs in the 33rd.

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The first elimination...

...came in August. With the Red Sox winning and the Orioles losing last night, the Baltimore Orioles are the first Major League team to be mathematically eliminated from a 2011 division race.

The Red Sox magic number to clinch a playoff berth is 19 vs. Tampa. (17 vs. LAA).

The Red Sox magic number to win the east is 27 vs. the Yankees.

New York's magic number to win the east is 30 vs. the Red Sox.

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The Obama Economy in miniature

Solyndra to Declare Bankruptcy
Solyndra, a major manufacturer of solar technology in Fremont, has shut its doors, according to employees at the campus.

"I was told by a security guard to get my [stuff] and leave," one employee said. The company employs a little more than 1,000 employees worldwide, according to its website.

Shortly after it opened a massive $700 million facility, it canceled plans for a public stock offering earlier this year and warned it would be in significant trouble if federal loan guarantees did not go through.

The company has said it will make a statement at 9am California time, though it's not clear what that statement will be. An NBC Bay Area photographer on the scene reports security guards are not letting visitors on campus. He says "people are standing around in disbelief." The employees have been given yellow envelopes with instructions on how to get their last checks.

Solyndra was touted by the Obama administration as a prime example of how green technology could deliver jobs.

I have enormous sympathy for the people losing jobs. There's no part of that that's fun. But if a company can't compete, those resources are much better spent in a company that can. And having the government prop up a company that can't compete is just a plain and simple wealth transfer.

Solyndra is almost the archetype of an Obama economy job creator. Which is a big part of why there aren't many jobs being created...

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"And God, please protect us from the well-intentioned..."

StrategyPage: America Gives China A Mineral Monopoly
Complaints from the Congo are growing about the U.S. legislation intended to stop illegal mineral sales. The Dodd-Frank bill (also called the Obama Law) has a clause that prohibits the sale of so-called conflict minerals may have been well-intentioned but it was not well-thought out. Rather than run the risk of buying any minerals that might have been smuggled from the Congo, many major mining companies are simply refusing to buy minerals from central Africa. The result is a de facto embargo. There are few buyers for Congo’s valuable minerals, [LB: I'm sure that makes everything better for the Congolese, right? Destroying the economic value of the resources that they do have?] especially tantalum and tungsten which have many hi-tech uses. This has damaged the Congo’s economy [LB: Shocker...], because the nation relies on mineral exports. According to some sources, China, which does not have to meet Dodd-Frank standards, is snapping up many minerals at very cheap prices.
Unintended Consequences. It's not just a good idea - it's the law...

What the well-intentioned "we know best" utopian leftists in America have done is a) damage the economy of the Congo b) to the benefit of Chinese companies c) and the detriment of US companies d) without improving the lives of the Congolese in any way. In other words, it was a lose-lose-lose-lose proposition!

But they meant well, so it doesn't matter...

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