Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Being ‘hung up’ about sex isn’t so horrible


I like this article...
I agree that the Church down the ages has sometimes done a poor job teaching about sex and sexuality. Many young people were taught nothing at all about sex, except that it was wicked. That was to their detriment and the shame of their parents and clergy. Odd teaching, since the Bible is full of sex, and not just warnings about it.

But far worse, the world at large was, and is, mindless about sex. If the church is too careful, it is only because sex is too important to be handled poorly. Sex not only produces us, as it were. It connects us. It not only connects us, it chemically addicts us to one another for good reasons.

There's more, and it's all good...

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14+ months out...



Washington Whispers (usnews.com):
Allan Lichtman, the American University professor whose election formula has correctly called every president since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election, has a belated birthday present for Barack Obama: Rest easy, your re-election is in the bag.

“Even if I am being conservative, I don’t see how Obama can lose,” says Lichtman, the brains behind The Keys to the White House.


Rasmussen Reports:
President Obama earns his lowest level of support yet against a generic Republican in a hypothetical 2012 election match-up for the week ending Sunday, August 28.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely U.S. Voters finds the generic Republican earning 48% of the vote, while the president picks up support from 40%. Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided.

14 months is a long time in political terms. From our current vantage point, it's absolutely possible that Obama will win re-election, and it's absolutely possible that he'll lose. (I don't think that those are equally likely results, but they're both possible.) And Professor Lichtman's work is interesting, and something that I've watched over the last several cycles. But it's also an exercise in curve-fitting, the kind of model that works perfectly every time, right up until the time that it doesn't. I'll take the time, at some point in the future, to walk through his 13 keys and address the ways that I think he's wrong here, but for today, these are just a pair of interesting contradictory indicators...

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help..."


The Gibson Guitar Saga Gets Steadily Curiouser
It has come out that Juszkiewicz is a Republican donor, while the CEO of one of his principal competitors, C.F. Martin & Company, is a Democratic donor. Martin reportedly uses the same wood, but DOJ hasn’t raided them, leading to speculation that the Obama administration is sending a warning to Republican businessmen that they had better not oppose his re-election, lest they face criminal investigations. Normally such speculation would not be credible, but Eric Holder has politicized the Department of Justice to a point where such questions must be taken seriously.

Oh, one more thing: if Gibson has violated the Lacey Act, so, perhaps, has Michelle Obama, who gave French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar with a rosewood fret.

Follow the link. There's a story here, and you're absolutely not going to get it from the mainstream press...

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The One Thing Congress Can Do to Help the Markets


Amity Shlaes:
The bottom line is very simple: The best thing Congress can do to help the markets is nothing at all. There are signs that even the Republicans, the party of "less government," have yet to fully internalize this concept. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has lately been ripping President Barack Obama for taking a 10-day holiday on Martha's Vineyard; he argues that Obama should abort his holiday and hurry back to the Oval Office.

But the Congressional Effect theory suggests Obama is right to enjoy his island stay, and might even lengthen it...

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Quote of the day


They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please.
- Thomas Jefferson

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Monday Pythagorean 8/29/2011


Well, that went well. There are circumstances under which 5-2 isn't good enough (none of which are in play here), but 5-2 is always a good week...

  • A week ago, I said that if the Red Sox got to today only one game back, they'd have had a good week ("at least relatively"). Well, they sure did have a good week, taking 3 of 4 in Texas, and then, under grueling conditions, 2 of 3 from Oakland. But I assumed the Yankees weren't going lost two to Oakland and two more in Baltimore. But they did, and the Sox enter the week 2 games up - three up in the win column and one up in the loss column. I was wrong - they'd have to had a bad week to be one game back this morning.
  • There's been a lot of concern expressed, in various places, over Adrian Gonzalez' lack of power, as he'd gone 84 at-bats between HR. He promptly hit five in three games in Texas.
  • Oakland's reliever after the rain delay in the second of Saturday's games prompts the following. Name as destiny: What else could a Josh Outman have grown up to be, other than a pitcher? [Ed.: Hunter, fisher, nature guide? LB: No, it's Outman, not Outdoorsman. Ed.: Well, he could have been an umpire, right? LB: OK, that's enough out of you...]
  • If the rain in the 5th inning on Saturday night had held off for five more minutes, I believe they wouldn't have started up again and played nine.
  • There have been a couple of times during this eternal "Waiting for Mr. Wakefield" stretch where he's pitched well enough, and hasn't gotten run support, or has had leads blown by the bullpen. But he hasn't been great, either, and he was awful in his start this week. Are the questions about it actually affecting the team? I don't know but, as a fan, they're affecting me. The sooner this is done, the better, because I really don't want to listen to it any more.
  • If the Red Sox are going to open a gap in the AL East, this is the likeliest time for it to happen. They're hosting the Yankees, with New York coming in having played three games in two days, while the Sox have had two scheduled days off. (Scheduled in the sense that they knew, leaving the park on Saturday night, that they weren't playing either Sunday or Monday.) They'll start the series with at least a 1 1/2 game lead, meaning that a sweep would have them at least 4 1/2 up on Friday morning.
  • Getting swept, on the other hand, would leave them only 1 1/2 back, and still with the schedule advantage and the tie-breaker. If the Yankees want to win the division, this series is much more important for them than it is for the Sox.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - When the team left Texas and Gonzalez had performed his heroics, it was pretty much a no-brainer that the award would be his, and his .393/.452/.964/1.416 is certainly impressive. Most weeks, that's good enough. But the return of David Ortiz (.550/.571/1.200/1.771) was even better. And enough better to pretty much make up for the two games that he missed on the week.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - This week, I'm giving out two co-awards. First, in his second straight strong appearance, Andrew Miller gave the team its best start of the week, allowing the Rangers only three hits and two walks over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. And, in three scoreless, and hitless, relief appearances, covering 5 2/3 innings, Alfredo Aceves continued making key contributions.


AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
New York5.49(1)4.01(3)0.64(1)84477952-5
Boston5.4(2)4.17(6)0.616(2)825182510
Texas5.08(3)4.35(8)0.571(3)77587659-1
Tampa Bay4.3(7)3.8(1)0.557(4)74587359-1
Los Angeles4.02(11)3.87(2)0.517(5)696472613
Detroit4.53(5)4.47(10)0.506(6)676673606
Toronto4.62(4)4.62(11)0.501(7)67666667-1
Chicago4.02(10)4.07(4)0.495(8)656666651
Cleveland4.25(9)4.38(9)0.486(9)636765652
Oakland3.98(12)4.24(7)0.472(10)63706073-3
Kansas City4.34(6)4.81(12)0.453(11)61735579-6
Seattle3.46(14)4.08(5)0.426(12)567656760
Baltimore4.27(8)5.23(14)0.408(13)537853780
Minnesota3.83(13)4.92(13)0.388(14)528156774
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Boston10062
New York9864
Texas9171
Tampa Bay9072
Detroit8973
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Boston10062
New York9963
Texas9171
Tampa Bay9072
Detroit8874
Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Baltimore5.86(5)2.43(1)0.834(1)61610
Tampa Bay4.29(9)2.43(1)0.739(2)5243-1
Boston6.86(2)4.14(5)0.715(3)52520
Detroit4.14(10)3.14(3)0.624(4)43521
Los Angeles6.6(3)5.6(9)0.575(5)32320
New York7.33(1)6.33(11)0.567(6)3324-1
Kansas City4.67(8)4.17(6)0.552(7)33330
Chicago4(12)3.6(4)0.548(8)32320
Seattle4.86(7)4.86(7)0.5(9)4334-1
Oakland6.5(4)8.17(14)0.397(10)24331
Cleveland4.14(10)5.57(8)0.368(11)34340
Texas5(6)7.14(13)0.342(12)25341
Toronto3.33(13)7(12)0.205(13)15150
Minnesota2.86(14)6(10)0.205(13)16160

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Faithful

Even in the middle of a hurricane, the members of the Old Guard maintain their watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier...


(Picture from 3rd U.S. INF Regiment The Old Guard Facebook page...)

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Georg Elser: The Man Who Almost Killed Hitler


Past Imperfect:
The Munich bomb, on the other hand, exploded on November 8, 1939, at the height of the Führer’s popularity and less than three months after the outbreak of World War II—before the final order was given for the invasion of France, and when Russia remained a German ally and the United States remained at peace. Not only that; this bomb was the work of just one man, an unassuming carpenter who was far more principled than Stauffenberg and whose skill, patience and determination make him altogether much more interesting. Yet the Munich incident has been almost forgotten; as late as 1998 there was no memorial, in Germany or anywhere else, to the attempt or to the man who made it.

His name was Georg Elser, and this is his story.

Born in 1903, Elser was just below average height and just above average intelligence. He was not much of a thinker, but clever with his hands: an expert cabinetmaker who never read books, rarely touched newspapers and had little interest in politics. He had voted Communist, and briefly joined the Red Front Fighters’ League—streetfighters who took on their Nazi counterparts, the Brownshirts. But Elser was no Marxist, just a typical member of the German working class in the 1930s. He certainly wasn’t a brawler; for him, the attraction of the Fighters’ League was the chance to play in its brass band. In 1939, the only organization that he belonged to was the Woodworkers’ Union...

A fascinating story, one of which I was completely unaware. Click and read...

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Remaining schedule analysis - Boston vs. New York - 8/26



It's a strange and different schedule that Major League Baseball has put together this year, a season that started on a Friday and finishes on a Wednesday. There are just under five weeks left, and the AL East is "too close to call." (Not that it seems to matter much, as, again, the Red Sox and Yankees are both going to the playoffs [barring some miraculous intervention].) So, as we head down the home stretch, it's time to start looking at the remaining schedules.

First, a look at the overall home/away schedules.

Red Sox/Yankees Schedule Comparison - 8/26/2011
BostonNew York

total remaining3233

home1913

away1320

The Red Sox have a clear advantage here. They've got one more off-day than the Yankees do in the last month, and they've got many more home games, and many fewer away games, than the Yankees. [Note: The Yankees also have one more home game against the Tampa Bay Rays that was post-poned and has not been re-scheduled. It will likely not be played until and unless it becomes necessary for resolving the standings.]

Head-to-head:
3 in Boston, 3 in New York

Common games:
3 in Baltimore, 3 in Toronto, 3 in Tampa

3 hosting Baltimore, 2 hosting Toronto, 3 hosting Tampa

As division rivals, a lot of the schedule actually looks pretty similar. They've got six left head-to-head, three in each stadium, so there's no advantage there. And they've each got home and away series remaining with each of the other teams in the AL East, so that part all looks the same.

Differences:
BostonNew York

Away

Toronto (1)LAAngels (3)

Seattle (3)

Baltimore (2)


Home

Oakland (3)Minnesota (1)

Texas (3)Toronto (1)

Baltimore (1)

Tampa (1)

And there we see the real differences. Take away the head-to-head and common games, and the Yankees have eight on the road, six on the West Coast, where Boston only has one in Toronto. (Note - most of the 1-game series listed in this section aren't actually 1-game series - they're just differences between the length of series that the two teams are playing at the various sites. Boston isn't going to Toronto for one game - they're going for four, but New York's only going for three.) Boston has eight home games, New York has only two.

Advantage - BIG advantage - Boston.

In the last five weeks, New York's got to travel ~8500 miles on seven flights, Boston's got to travel ~3500 on five. Boston has two extended homestands (nine and 10 games, respectively) where they don't have any travel at all. New York's two home stands are (obviously) shorter (six and seven). Unless you believe that six at home vs. Texas and Oakland is worse than six on the road against LAA and Seattle, there's no aspect of the schedule that doesn't favor the Red Sox right now.

Not that this means that the Red Sox are going to win the East. Given the remaining schedules, and the fact that they've already got a lead, the Red Sox have got to be favored, but it's not a foregone conclusion. It would make for a very interesting September, I suspect, if it mattered. Were it not for the Wild Card, we might be looking at a re-play of 1978, the two best teams in the league battling down the stretch for the division. As it is, the battle's not particularly interesting, because the real question is whether or not they're both going to win in the first round and play in the ALCS...




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Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's almost that time of year...


Magic. Numbers. Are coming...

Actually, they're already here. But the relevant ones are still a couple of weeks away from being interesting. What's going to happen in the next week or so is that teams are going to start getting eliminated. The Baltimore Orioles are likely to be the first. Any combination of Baltimore losses and Boston wins equal to seven (or Baltimore losses and New York wins equal to nine [or, since the Red Sox and Yankees have to share six more losses, just five Baltimore losses]) mathematically eliminates the Orioles from contention in the AL East. (They were realistically eliminated long ago.)

Boston's magic number to win the East vs. the Yankees - 34. (Actually, 33, because in the case of a tie, the Red Sox win the division on the strength of winning the season series [and assuming, as I do, that the second place team will win the Wild Card])

New York's magic number to win the East vs. the Red Sox - 36.


How likely is it that either New York or Boston fails to make the playoffs? Well, let's look at the Red Sox for a minute. They've got 33 games remaining. Their worst 33-game stretch of the season consisted of their first 33, when they lost six straight and 10-of-12. If they repeat that to close the season, which is unlikely (they haven't had a 33-game stretch worse than 19-14 that didn't include those first six losses) but possible, they'll finish at 94-68. If they do that, the Yankees will almost certainly win the East, by going 18-17 or better in their last 35. The Red Sox would then need to finish ahead of the third place team in the East and the second place teams in the other divisions to make the playoffs.

To get to 94-68, the second place team in the Central, Cleveland, would have to go 31-4 (.885). Forget the Central.

To get to 94-68, the second place team in the West, the LAA Angels, would have to go 23-9 (.719). The third place team in the East, the Tampa Bay Rays, would have to go 24-10 (.706). Either of those results is possible; neither of those results is likely.

Nor, frankly, is the Red Sox going 15-18.

If there's going to be any drama in the AL results this year (unless you think there's great drama in which of the Red Sox or Yankees is the division winner and which is the Wild Card), it's going to come in the West or the Central. Or as a result of a complete melt-down by Boston or New York. Or a mini-meltdown accompanied by a historic stretch from the Angels or Rays. Not impossible. But not at all likely...

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Panetta at Monterey


Panetta: Language Training Critical to U.S. Interests, Security
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today returned to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center he championed as a congressman to praise the next generation of military linguists he called critical to the United States’ future.

Panetta told an assembly of about 2,500 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines standing in formation on Soldier Field overlooking Monterey Bay that the language and cultural training they are receiving here is critical to the nation’s economic, diplomatic and security interests. “It is absolutely vital to what the United States is all about,” he said.

One of the 2500 was ours. But he didn't have much of a view...

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Threads...


A snippet of a facebook conversation that took place yesterday...
FBF: I often wonder, from my own perspective, if the ideal of the "arch conservative" that I think exists out there and that I fear is really just a construction of my own making.

Me: You had a lot - a LOT - of help in that construction. I suspect that the bad guy in real life is much less likely to be the conservative-white-male-christian-business-executive-motivated-by-a-desire-to-rob-from-the-poor-and-subjugate-them than in movies and TV...

FBF: business-executive-motivated-by-a-desire-to-rob-from-the-poor-and-subjugate-them IS a great storyline though.

Me: May have been once, but isn't any more - ubiquity has ruined it. That's frequently the default villain, and more often than not it's obvious from the start.

Last night, I watched an episode of the television show "Leverage." In it, the victim was a poor farmer/crop-scientist who had developed a "super tuber," a super-nutritious potato that she was going to share with the world for free. The villain was the massive agri-business, personified by the rich, white CEO and the rich, white female attorney, that beat up her dad and stole the potato. You know, just as so often happens in the real world.

And then this morning, I clicked on a link that led me to this - Politics Really is Downstream from Culture
Regardless of one’s ideological, moral, ethical, or religious leanings, every person should be aware of the messaging of every piece of popular culture. The thesis here at BH is that the vast majority of those with the power of content creation are Liberals. If you accept that thesis, then realize that Liberals control story. Given the breadth and depth of popular culture in our daily lives, it follows that Liberal messaging is what is primarily being imparted on the masses.

I have no solutions. But awareness of what's being done is probably step one...

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For what it's worth...


CNBC:
The majority of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics believe that the federal deficit should be reduced only or primarily through spending cuts.

The survey out Monday found that 56 percent of the NABE members surveyed felt that way, while 37 percent said they favor equal parts spending cuts and tax increases. The remaining 7 percent believe it should be done only or mostly through tax increases.
There's no guarantee that they're right, of course. Economists can be wrong just like everyone else. But it's another data point...

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Latest Gallup


Gallup: Obama trails Romney, ties Perry
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) would beat President Obama among registered voters, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) would tie the president if the election were held today, according to a new Gallup Poll.

Obama leads GOP Reps. Ron Paul (Texas) and Michele Bachmann (Minn.) among registered voters, but by 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
If Michelle Bachmann is within four points (and Ron Paul within two) among registered voters, then the President is in a historically bad political position 15 months out from the election. Which is not to say that he can't win, because 15 months is a long time in the life of an election campaign, but he's sure entering that campaign from a position of weakness...

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"Spending, not entitlements, created huge deficit"


How is it that the Federal Debt is going to rise more in Obama's first four years than in Bush's eight? Well, a lot of it has to do with the recession and the counter-cyclical fiscal policies in place (economy shrinks, tax revenues drop, direct transfer payments [welfare, food stamps, unemployment, medicaid] increase). But certainly not all.

Byron York:
There is no line in the federal budget that says "stimulus," but Obama's massive $814 billion stimulus increased spending in virtually every part of the federal government. "It's spread all through the budget," says former Congressional Budget Office chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin. "It was essentially a down payment on the Obama domestic agenda." Green jobs, infrastructure, health information technology, aid to states -- it's all in there, billions in increased spending.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Line of the day...


Andrew Klavan:
Question: What’s the difference between a Federal Jobs Creation Program and Kim Kardashian’s wedding?

Answer: Kim Kardashian’s wedding creates jobs.
He's right, too - read the whole thing...

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"Can't be...won't be..."


Glenn Reynolds:
Debts that cannot be paid, won’t be. Commitments that cannot be honored, won’t be. Guarantees that can’t be followed through on, won’t be.
It cannot be said often enough. If there's not enough money to pay for everything, something won't get paid. There is no "money tree" on which grows the wealth that will pay for the public union pensions and health care, for Social Security and Medicare. When the money runs out, which it will if the spending trajectories aren't changed, people aren't going to get paid, regardless of what commitments have been made, regardless of what obligations have been agreed to.

In his excellent Economics course for the Teaching Company (which I cannot recommend highly enough), Professor Timothy Taylor, in the first lecture, describes economists as "people who insist on taking trade-offs seriously." When I look at the world, and, in particular, at the points of view of all of my "progressive" friends, what I see is a refusal to even recognize many of the trade-offs that they want to make. In their utopian view, you can have high minimum wages, high spending on education, and welfare, health care for everyone, social security and medicare, strong unions and still have a thriving, active, high growth private sector economy to fund all of it. You can have stringent environmental laws to the point where you even regulate the carbon dioxide that we all exhale, you can outlaw nuclear power and coal-burning and imported oil and still have hospitals and lights and ambulances. You can promote multi-culturalism, sexual promiscuity, gay marriage, tax incentives that discourage men from marrying and supporting children, disparage American culture and capitalism, and still have a stable, wealthy and productive civil society.

Well, the world does not work that way.




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Monday Pythagorean 8/22/2011



Chapter 21 - In which the 2011 Red Sox play the role of the 2010 Red Sox and consistently run out a lineup with many of their best players missing...

  • The week started with David Ortiz missing from the lineup with bursitis in his heel. The good news continued when Kevin Youkilis joined him on the sidelines with a sore back. And then they spent the weekend sans Ellsbury after getting plunked and bruising his back.
  • Then toss in the remain superstars - Dustin Pedroia (.240/.321/.280/.601) and Adrian Gonzalez (.160/.241/.240/.481) - slumping through the week and you end up with the dominant offense in baseball scoring 3.7 runs per game, and being held to three hits in three consecutive games at Fenway.
  • It hasn't been just the offense, of course. When the Royals scored first on Friday night, that marked the tenth consecutive game in which the opposition put the first run on the board, dating back to the previous Monday in Minnesota. They finally broke that stretch on Saturday, and then the pitching melted down in one 8-run inning for the Royals that cost the Sox a chance at the sweep.
  • The single biggest reason that I'm rooting for Tim Wakefield to collect his 200th career win is so that I can stop hearing about how Tim Wakefield is going for his 200th career win.
  • I believed that Boston was a better team than New York. They have not been. The Yankees have had a better run differential most of the way, because they've allowed many fewer runs (I will confess to being shocked by how good their pitching has been), but as of today, they've outscored the Red Sox, too. Against the rest of baseball, New York is 8 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox. If the Red Sox hadn't taken 10-of-12 (so far), the division race would be basically over. (Most of New York's advantage comes against two teams - they're 13-4 against Texas and Chicago, while the Red Sox are 2-7).
  • The schedule for the upcoming week is not favorable, either. Each team has three home games against the A's. Aside from that, Boston has four in Texas, while New York has three in Baltimore and an off-day. If the Sox are only one back next Monday morning, they'll have had a good week, at least relatively.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - There wasn't one. Jacoby Ellsbury (.294/.381/.765/1.146) was pretty good in five games before leaving with an injury and not finishing the week, and Ryan Lavarnway (.333/.412/.400/.812 in his first Major league action) and Darnell McDonald (.294/.316/.588/.904, which isn't great but vastly exceeds what he'd done so far this year) warrant mention, but it's my award, and I don't have to give it if I think no one deserves it. And that's what I think.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - In two starts, both of which the Red Sox won, Jon Lester gave up two runs in 13 innings of work.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
New York5.4(1)3.9(3)0.645(1)81447748-4
Boston5.32(2)4.17(7)0.609(2)774977490
Texas5.09(3)4.2(8)0.587(3)75537355-2
Tampa Bay4.3(7)3.87(2)0.548(4)695669560
Toronto4.69(4)4.5(10)0.518(5)66616562-1
Los Angeles3.92(11)3.8(1)0.514(6)666269593
Detroit4.55(5)4.54(11)0.501(7)636368585
Cleveland4.26(8)4.32(9)0.494(8)616262611
Chicago4.02(10)4.09(6)0.493(9)626463631
Oakland3.87(13)4.06(5)0.478(10)61665770-4
Kansas City4.33(6)4.84(12)0.449(11)57715276-5
Seattle3.38(14)4.03(4)0.421(12)537253720
Minnesota3.89(12)4.86(13)0.4(13)507655715
Baltimore4.18(9)5.39(14)0.386(14)48764777-1

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York10062
Boston9963
Texas9270
Tampa Bay8973
Los Angeles8775

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York10161
Boston9963
Texas9369
Tampa Bay8973
Los Angeles8676

Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Tampa Bay5(4)2.33(1)0.801(1)51510
Detroit6.67(1)4.17(7)0.703(2)42420
Toronto4.57(6)3(2)0.684(3)5243-1
New York6.14(2)4.29(8)0.659(4)52520
Chicago4.67(5)4(5)0.57(5)33330
Los Angeles5.14(3)4.57(9)0.554(6)43430
Boston3.71(13)3.57(4)0.518(7)43430
Texas4.14(10)4.14(6)0.5(8)43430
Oakland3.29(14)3.43(3)0.481(9)34431
Kansas City4.29(8)5.86(11)0.361(10)3425-1
Minnesota4.29(8)5.86(11)0.361(10)34340
Cleveland4(11)5.5(10)0.358(12)24240
Baltimore4.5(7)6.67(13)0.328(13)2415-1
Seattle3.83(12)7(14)0.249(14)15150





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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Feeding The Masses On Unicorn Ribs


Walter Russell Mead, with a brilliant analogy on the "green jobs" fiasco:
Many liberals want green jobs to exist so badly that they don’t fully grasp how otherworldly and ineffectual this advocacy makes the President look to unemployed meat packers and truck drivers.

Let me put it this way. A GOP candidate might feel a need to please creationist voters and say a few nice things about intelligent design. That is politics as usual; it gins up the base and drive the opposition insane with fury and rage. No harm, really, and no foul.

But if that same politician then proposed to base federal health policy on a hunt for the historical Garden of Eden so that we could replace Medicare by feeding old people on fruit from the Tree of Life, he would have gone from quackery-as-usual to raving incompetence. True, the Tree of Life approach polls well in GOP focus groups: no cuts to Medicare benefits, massive tax savings, no death panels, Biblical values on display. Its only flaw is that there won’t be any magic free fruit that lets us live forever, and sooner or later people will notice that and be unhappy.

Green jobs are the Democratic equivalent of Tree of Life Medicare; they scratch every itch of every important segment of the base and if they actually existed they would be an excellent policy choice. But since they are no more available to solve our jobs problem than the Tree of Life stands ready to make health care affordable, a green jobs policy boils down to a promise to feed the masses on tasty unicorn ribs from the Great Invisible Unicorn Herd that only the greens can see.

Read it all...

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Statler Saturday


A little music for Saturday morning. I'm not really a country music guy, on the whole, but I love the Statler Brothers, and this one's fun. (There are few people in the world with a voice like Harold Reid's...)

Daddy Sang Bass By The Statler Brothers

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Defending Keynes


I'm quite certain that Stephen Moore has studied economics more than I have, and understands much of it better. I'm also certain that, on most economic topics, we agree. And this is a good piece.

Stephen Moore: Why Americans Hate Economics
How did modern economics fly off the rails? The answer is that the "invisible hand" of the free enterprise system, first explained in 1776 by Adam Smith, got tossed aside for the new "macroeconomics," a witchcraft that began to flourish in the 1930s during the rise of Keynes. Macroeconomics simply took basic laws of economics we know to be true for the firm or family—i.e., that demand curves are downward sloping; that when you tax something, you get less of it; that debts have to be repaid—and turned them on their head as national policy.

As Donald Boudreaux, professor of economics at George Mason University and author of the invaluable blog Cafe Hayek, puts it: "Macroeconomics was nothing more than a dismissal of the rules of economics." Over the years, this has led to some horrific blunders, such as the New Deal decision to pay farmers to burn crops and slaughter livestock to keep food prices high: To encourage food production, destroy it.
But as much as I've criticized Keynesian economic policy over the years (and as much as I expect to in the future), there are a couple of points that are worth making in defense of Keynes himself (though not necessarily those who want to implement Keynesian stimulus today).
  1. Keynes "witchcraft" consisted of the observation that demand creates its own supply. Classical economics observed the converse, that supply creates its own demand. In the long-term, the classical formulation seems to be correct. However, as Keynes famously noted, "in the long term, we're all dead." The notion that ten years from now, the economy will have rebounded and produced a long-term expansion is of little solace to an unemployed man with a hungry family. And there is both logic, and some truth, to Keynes theory that the government could stimulate demand, and thus mitigate some of the worst problems of the business cycle. So, while Keynsian policies don't work in the long term, there can be times and mechanisms where they are not a terrible idea.
  2. Keynes didn't have the past fifty years of Keynesian experimentation to look back on when he was formulating his theories.

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Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises


You know that it had to have been horribly painful for the New York Times to print this...
In the Bay Area as in much of the country, the green economy is not proving to be the job-creation engine that many politicians envisioned. President Obama once pledged to create five million green jobs over 10 years. Gov. Jerry Brown promised 500,000 clean-technology jobs statewide by the end of the decade. But the results so far suggest such numbers are a pipe dream.

“I won’t say I’m not frustrated,” said Van Jones, an Oakland activist who served briefly as Mr. Obama’s green-jobs czar before resigning under fire after conservative critics said he had signed a petition accusing the Bush administration of deliberately allowing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a claim Mr. Jones denies.

A study released in July by the non-partisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more — 2.2 percent — in Silicon Valley. Rather than adding jobs, the study found, the sector actually lost 492 positions from 2003 to 2010 in the South Bay, where the unemployment rate in June was 10.5 percent.
Sigh.

In war, Helmuth von Moltke said that "no plan survives contact with the enemy." (Ok, that's a pithier Engish version of the actual German quote, but work with me, here.) That's the case for liberal economic plans and reality, too. Any plan, the success of which is dependent on people not responding to incentives and disincentives, and economic realities ceasing to function, is doomed to failure. And they don't care. Their intentions are good, so that's the important thing. They want to create "green jobs," and they're willing to spend other peoples' money on it, and therefore, the "green jobs" should materialize!

The world doesn't work that way.


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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Scary statistic of the day


Based on 2010 census data and the latest Gallup poll, there are over 80 million Americans out there who approve of President "Bad Hand" Obama's handling of the economy.

And those people are driving on the same highways that you are...



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"You shouldn’t be out vacationing..."


Sigh.

This is tedious. It was tedious in extremis when the Democrats did it to Bush, and it's tedious now that the Republicans are doing it to Obama. It's a non-story, a fundamentally unserious criticism.
As a guest on Chicago’s WLS-AM radio Wednesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that Obama should stay in D.C. and call Congress back to work.

“If you’re the president of the United States, and the nation is in crisis — and we’re in a jobs crisis right now — then you shouldn’t be out vacationing,” the former Massachusetts governor told WLS hosts Don Wade and Roma. “Instead you should be focusing on getting the economy going again. And, yeah, go back to the office yourself, pull back members of Congress and focus on getting the job done.”

Donald Trump, appearing on Fox News earlier this week, complained, “the fact is, [Obama] takes more vacations than any human being I’ve ever seen.”

I said this when George W. Bush was President, and the left, with the Washington Post leading the charge, made sport of how frequent and how long his vacations were:
The Presidency is a 24-hour a day job, 365 days a year - there's not been a minute since his first inaugural when George W. Bush was not the President, with all of the powers and responsibilities that entails.


And this:
The fact is that the President never goes on vacation. He's always the President, every minute of every day. The responsibilities are always there. Whether he's in Washington or Brussels or Scotland or Crawford, he's the President. He has the nuclear launch codes with him, he has daily briefings, he has control of the apparatus of government. For the press to make an issue of his spending August, when neither of the other two branches of the Federal government are in Washington, in Texas would be akin to making an issue about Johnny Damon taking half the year off because he only played 81 games at Fenway Park...
Replace "George W. Bush" with "Barack Obama," "Crawford" with Martha's Vineyard and "Texas" with "Massachusetts" (and "Johnny Damon" with "Dustin Pedroia") and you get my reaction to "Bad Hand" Obama's vacation. It's drivel, the kind of nonsense that makes normal people loathe politicians and politics and the people who cover and comment on them. The fact that this is a big-time mainstream media story during Republican administrations doesn't mean that it's right for the Republicans to be playing this way during Obama's vacation. Not helpful, not productive.

As I write this, it occurs to that I do, in fact, have one more comment to make on the topic of Obama and vacation. If I might address the President directly for a second...

Dear Mr. President,

We all know that being the President is hard work - you deserve a break! Take some real time off. You deserve it. Don't bother giving us any more of your economic wisdom - you've done enough already. Frankly, sir, more than enough. You've gone above and beyond the call of duty, given us more policy than we had any right to ask for, far more government than you were contracted to provide. Take some real time off, not just on-the-road-Presidentin' time. Play some golf, watch a movie, read a book. Lie on the beach somewhere. Really, we don't mind. If the phone rings, let someone else answer it for the next, oh, 15 months or so.

Sincerely,

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Actions that make heroes


Someone doing the right thing...
As he read more about McGinty and his story, he knew he had to locate him to see if he was the same man who once owned the gun. He also wanted to find out how he parted with the pistol, and whether the former Marine wanted it back.

"His medal citation actually mentions the pistol," Berry observed, referring to the fact the wounded McGinty used it to kill five enemy soldiers attacking his position.

However, Berry did not yet know whether it was the same McGinty associated with his newly acquired pistol. He used the Internet to track down McGinty, 71, in Beaufort, S.C. McGinty had retired from the corps as a captain in October 1976.

The retired Navy warrant officer called the retired Marine Corps officer and asked him if it was his pistol.

"He said, 'Do you mean 0103889?' "

Great story - read it all...

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another fast start...


So Tampa scores first this afternoon. As they did in both games yesterday. As the Mariners did in all three games in Seattle. As the Twins did in the last two games in Minnesota.

Does it seem like they've been playing from behind recently? Uh, yeah. There's a reason for that. They have been. Every day for the last week and a half.

That's right - the Red Sox opposition has now scored first in eight straight games. The last time the Red Sox scored first was a week ago Monday in Minnesota, and then they scored one in the top of the second and promptly allowed three in the bottom.


It's not an ideal approach - every game is either a comeback or a loss...

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GDP vs. GPP - Keynes vs. Hayek


An interesting piece on some of the flaws of GDP as a measure of economic activity.
There are two opposing positions on government spending stimulus: the Keynesian position that it stimulates economic growth generally and the Austrian position that by crowding out the private sector it substitutes less efficient for more efficient use of resources and hence retards growth. From the GPP data now available, while as always there is considerable "noise" in the statistics, the Austrian view is decisively the more plausible.
It's a long piece, and I don't agree with all of it, but it's an interesting (and very bear-ish) take on where we are...

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2012 Campaign slogan


"This time, let's vote for someone who'll have Good Luck!"

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New Presidential Nickname


It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools. It's a poor player who blames the cards.

That's what we've got in the White House right now. "It's not my fault - I had bad luck." If he were sitting at a poker table, what you'd hear from him, repeatedly, over and over, ad nauseum, is "I had a bad hand."

BH Obama. "Bad Hand" Obama.

It works. It sure feels like we were dealt a Bad Hand in 2008...

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The bad luck Presidency


Obama: I reversed recession until 'bad luck' hit
At a town hall meeting on his campaign-style tour of the Midwest, President Obama claimed that his economic program "reversed the recession" until recovery was frustrated by events overseas. And then, Obama said, with the economy in an increasingly precarious position, the recovery suffered another blow when Republicans pressed the White House for federal spending cuts in exchange for an increase in the national debt limit, resulting in a deal Obama called a "debacle."

"We had reversed the recession, avoided a depression, gotten the economy moving again," Obama told a crowd in Decorah, Iowa. "But over the last six months we've had a run of bad luck." Obama listed three events overseas -- the Arab Spring uprisings, the tsunami in Japan, and the European debt crises -- which set the economy back.

If I were to make a list of the things that have derailed this recovery, none of those items would be on it. I'm willing to concede, for the sake of discussion, that there's been some impact to the US economy from the destruction in Japan. It's not obvious to me that that the European situation, beyond giving a foretaste of what we're headed for in the absence of a course correction, has had much tangible impact. And if the "Arab Spring" has had a negative impact on the US economy, I suspect it pales in comparison to the Cash for Clunkers program, in which the United States transferred tax dollars from less wealthy to more wealthy and paid for the destruction of billions of dollars worth of US assets at the same time.

Bad luck? "The Fault, Dear Barack, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves." At a time when our debt was already bad, we increased it with a poorly designed "stimulus" that utterly failed to spur aggregate demand. At a time of high cyclical unemployment, we implemented plans and policies which inevitably increase the cost of hiring and firing, and therefore increase structural unemployment. At a time when financial markets are scared to invest, we add an enormous law filled with regulations of every aspect of the business, a law which will require years of implementation before people really understand all of the implications. At a time when we need businesses to get back to the business of business, hiring people and selling product, we unleash harsh rhetoric against the business community. To quote the always quotable C.S. Lewis,
we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more 'drive', or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or 'creativity'. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
Lewis was not talking about business or the economy, but it couldn't be more on-point if he had been. We laugh at prudence and fiscal rectitude and are shocked to find Fannie Mae and Lehman Brothers in our midst. We castrate businesses with excessive regulation and bid them be fruitful and hire.

Bad luck? To the extent that you were elected in 2008, President Obama, yes, we've had bad luck.

Oh, and, of course, we have to close with the Heinlein quote:
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as "bad luck."

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So what's plan 'B', Mr. Mayor?


Plan 'A' seems to have been a bit of a flop...
The “Teen Night” event at the bowling alley, where Mayor Michael Nutter bowled with teenagers in an effort to stop the violence, had just ended when several hundred teenagers were released in groups before heading home.

According to authorities, Maxey approached a female in another group walking toward Erie and Torresdale Avenues. He reportedly attempted to talk to the victim, but when she ignored him, he returned moments later and allegedly stabbed her in the arm with an unknown silver object.

Actually, I guess bowling was plan 'B' after the curfew didn't get much done. So we're really looking for plan 'C'...

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Is it Paul Ryan time?


Jen Rubin is amongst those who think it might be...

The worst kept secret in D.C.: Conservatives trying to get Ryan to run
A Republican think-tanker who previously worked in the White House has been among those urging Ryan to run. I asked him why he’s so certain that Ryan is the right man. He replied that it is more than the conviction that Ryan would be a good president. He explained that “this is a match between the man and the moment. What I mean by that is that we’re in a particularly perilous situation economically. In most instances, what we hope for in a president is someone who is capable of making wise and informed decisions that lead to economic growth. Competence and good judgment are enough. But if we are in a period of unusual hardship and unusual challenges — which I believe to be the case — then we need to find someone of unusual gifts and talents.” He adds, “The one public figure who is comparable to Paul when it comes to this skill set is Governor Mitch Daniels. But his decision not to enter the race means we’re now down to one. And Ryan is the one. It’s true that he’s young, that he has no executive experience, and that the hour is growing late. But not too late. The stars, I think, are aligning his way. And now is his time.”

Would I enthusiastically support Paul Ryan in 2012? You betcha...


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The key to sweeping a double-header...


... is winning game one.

That's what the Red Sox have now done, beating James Shields and the Rays 3-1, retaking first place in the AL East.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Pythagorean, 8/15/2011

A relentlessly mediocre week, in which they did nothing very well and nothing very poorly, ends up with the expected 3-3 record...

  • The offense had one of those weeks, with excellent production from Ortiz and Gonzalez, and not much else. Some of the backups had good performances in few at-bats, but there wasn't a lot of production from anyone else, and it showed, as they lost three games in which they only allowed five runs. Not that five runs is a great pitching performance, but you'd expect a team with this team's offense to win more often than not when allowing five. This week, they were 1-3 when the opposition scored 5+.
  • That's not to say that only the offense wasn't good, because the pitching wasn't good, either. If it seemed as if they were playing from behind every day, well, that's because they were pretty much playing from behind every day. The starters finished the week with a 5.17 ERA and just over six innings of work per game.
  • They've had their share of good luck this year. They had a couple of different pieces of bad luck yesterday. One was the "safe" call at second base yesterday when Lowrie may (or may not) have missed the bag. Whether one likes it or not, that call virtually always goes to the fielder, even in cases much more egregious than that one. And it may not have even been technically correct, as Lowrie claims to have touched the bag, and there's no visual evidence disproving that. A bad call, and it helped produce a three-run lead that they never quite overcame.
  • The other piece of bad luck came in the Bronx, when the Yankees-Rays game was rained out, meaning that a) New York missed a game against James Shields and b) the Red Sox picked up a game against James Shields.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - David Ortiz (.500/.577/.955/1.531) had far and away the most productive week of the position players.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - No blowout wins, no great starting performances, so, as much as I don't care for "saves" as a stat, this looks like Jonathan Papelbon's week. He saved all three of their wins, giving up only one hit in three innings of work with three strikeouts. With two 2-run leads and a 1-run lead, all three games were losable, but he allowed almost nothing, and closed them quickly. (With "quickly" being a relative term with Papelbon on the mound...)


AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
New York5.36(2)3.87(2)0.644(1)76427246-4
Boston5.41(1)4.21(8)0.613(2)734673460
Texas5.14(3)4.2(7)0.592(3)72496952-3
Tampa Bay4.27(8)3.95(4)0.536(4)645564550
Los Angeles3.85(13)3.76(1)0.511(5)625965563
Toronto4.69(4)4.59(11)0.51(6)615961590
Cleveland4.27(7)4.26(9)0.502(7)595860571
Chicago3.99(10)4.09(5)0.489(8)596160601
Detroit4.44(5)4.56(10)0.488(9)596164565
Oakland3.9(11)4.09(5)0.478(10)57635367-4
Kansas City4.33(6)4.79(12)0.454(11)55665071-5
Seattle3.36(14)3.88(3)0.434(12)526752670
Minnesota3.87(12)4.8(13)0.402(13)487152674
Baltimore4.16(9)5.32(14)0.389(14)467246720

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York9963
Boston9963
Texas9270
Tampa Bay8775
Los Angeles8775

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York10062
Boston9963
Texas9369
Tampa Bay8775
Los Angeles8676

Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas7(1)3.33(3)0.795(1)51510
Cleveland4.4(7)2.4(1)0.752(2)41410
New York5.8(2)4.2(6)0.644(3)32320
Tampa Bay4.17(10)3.17(2)0.623(4)42511
Chicago4.71(5)4.14(5)0.559(5)43521
Toronto4.83(4)4.83(9)0.5(6)33330
Boston4.5(6)4.67(8)0.483(7)33330
Baltimore5(3)5.29(10)0.475(8)3425-1
Minnesota3.4(13)4(4)0.426(9)2314-1
Seattle4.33(8)5.33(11)0.406(10)24331
Detroit4.17(10)5.5(12)0.376(11)24331
Oakland4.33(8)5.83(13)0.367(12)24240
Los Angeles4.17(10)6(14)0.339(13)24240
Kansas City2.86(14)4.29(7)0.323(14)2516-1

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

What happened to Obama?


Norman Podhoretz on the recent spate of "what has happened to Barack Obama" articles from disappointed and disaffected lefties:
I disagree with those of my fellow conservatives who maintain that Mr. Obama is indifferent to "the best interests of the United States" (Thomas Sowell) and is "purposely" out to harm America (Rush Limbaugh). In my opinion, he imagines that he is helping America to repent of its many sins and to become a different and better country.

But I emphatically agree with Messrs. Limbaugh and Sowell about this president's attitude toward America as it exists and as the Founding Fathers intended it. That is why my own answer to the question, "What Happened to Obama?" is that nothing happened to him. He is still the same anti-American leftist he was before becoming our president, and it is this rather than inexperience or incompetence or weakness or stupidity that accounts for the richly deserved failure both at home and abroad of the policies stemming from that reprehensible cast of mind.
Yup. (Of course, he's inexperienced and incompetent, too...)

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reunion pics








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Friday, August 12, 2011

One thing we know...


... is that last night, the guys who won't be playing for the Patriots this fall were better than the guys who won't be playing for the Jaguars.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The dangers of poll driven politics


It has long been known that the answer to a question depends, in many cases, on the circumstances under which it is asked. Successful salesmen are always asking "yes" questions - that is, questions that virtually require the potential customer to answer "yes." Successfully framing the issue is the first and most important part of making a sale. This is why polling is more art than science. Consider, for example, this discussion of polling techniques between Sir Humphrey Appleby and Bernard Wooley on the brilliant 80s British TV show Yes (Prime) Minister:
Sir Humphrey: "You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don't want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think they respond to a challenge?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?"
Bernard Woolley: "Oh...well, I suppose I might be."
Sir Humphrey: "Yes or no?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told you can't say no to that. So they don't mention the first five questions and they publish the last one."
Bernard Woolley: "Is that really what they do?"
Sir Humphrey: "Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren't many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result."
Bernard Woolley: "How?"
Sir Humphrey: "Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the growth of armaments?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"
Bernard Woolley: "Yes"
Sir Humphrey: "There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample."

There have been many psychological studies which demonstrate that peer pressure can influence people to give incorrect responses on even fairly straightforward factual questions.

Which is why this kind of thing is so concerning.
A CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday also indicates that the public doesn't want the super committee to propose major changes to Social Security and Medicare or increase taxes on middle class and lower-income Americans.

Well, of course it doesn't. In a vacuum, of course people don't want to increase taxes on the middle class. In a vacuum, of course people don't want to cut Social Security, because of the millions of people currently dependent on it. In a vacuum, of course people don't want to cut Medicare, because of the millions of people currently dependent on it.

But none of those is really the question, is it? My response to someone that posted this yesterday on facebook, with the comment that, "OK Leaders, there are your orders. Get 'er done!" was, "You understand that you can't actually fix the problem that way, right? You understand that even confiscatory taxes on the wealthy and deep cuts in all discretionary budgets won't even close the current deficit, never mind the projected deficits that the rising costs of entitlements create?"

FBF: The position that politicians should somehow ignore the public and do as some see as "the right thing" seems pretty idealistic.

Me: I agree that it's unlikely that they'll "ignore the public." But some of them will - some always do. The key thing is that this is a Republic, not a Democracy, so they're elected to defend the Constitution and represent our interests, even when that's not what we want. (Obviously, most of the time that's not what happens. "Representing our enlightened best interests" and "pandering to the popular will" never been, are not now, and never will be synonymous. Sometimes, the latter looks like the former, and everything's spiffy.

But right now, we're caught in a trap that our elected representatives have built over the years. Every time the government creates an "entitlement," it also creates a client cohort dependent upon it. Every program that the government funds will have voters receiving those funds. Eventually you reach a point where the math just doesn't work anymore, where, in Margaret Thatcher's memorable phrase, "you run out of other people's money." If the public says "don't raise tax rates on anyone other than the rich AND don't cut Social Security AND don't cut Medicare" - well, guess what? That simply doesn't work as public policy, and the public's got to be educated and enlightened or imperiled.

Or ignored.

I'm not suggesting ignoring, because the will of the people matters. But if the will of the people is for an unachievable combination of programs that can't be sustained, the will of the people is going to be thwarted, one way or another. Right now, the people can't have all of what they say they want, and the longer we go before that's made clear and the problem is addressed, the more painful the eventual reality is going to be.

If you ask people what they're looking for in a car, you'll get a long list, including things like safety, style, fuel economy, price, acceleration, towing capability, loading capabilities and the like. But people seem to understand that they can't have all of them. There are trade-offs to be made. If you want spectacular fuel efficiency, you're not going to be able to tow your boat to the lake. If you want a lower price, you're not going to have a super sports-car.

There are trade-offs that have to be made at the national level, too. If we want a cradle-to-grave welfare system, guess what? It has to be paid for. And there's not enough money in the pockets of the "rich" to pay for it all. So poll results like the above CNN poll are not useful. They're not helpful. They offer a bunch of a la carte options that people can't actually simultaneously get. They present "or" choices as "ands." You can have a cradle-to-grave welfare state which provides all things for all people OR you can have low middle class tax rates and economic freedom. One or the other. Not both. The math doesn't work.

One of the reasons that approval ratings are so low for politicians right now is that the government has built a power-structure which rewards short-term thinking and behavior that damages the country. But another reason is that we, as a society, have been told for the last forty-plus years that we can have everything. We can have food, housing, clothing, education, retirement, all at someone else's expense.

The real world doesn't work that way. And the bill's coming due...
















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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Obama: "Downgrade was my fault..."


Ok, that's not a direct quote. He didn't say it in exactly those words. But what else could this mean?
On Friday, we learned that the United States received a downgrade by one of the credit rating agencies — not so much because they doubt our ability to pay our debt if we make good decisions, but because after witnessing a month of wrangling over raising the debt ceiling, they doubted our political system’s ability to act. The markets, on the other hand, continue to believe our credit status is AAA. In fact, Warren Buffett, who knows a thing or two about good investments, said, “If there were a quadruple-A rating, I’d give the United States that.” I, and most of the world’s investors, agree.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have a problem. The fact is, we didn’t need a rating agency to tell us that we need a balanced, long-term approach to deficit reduction. That was true last week. That was true last year. That was true the day I took office.

He took office 931 days ago. Knowing, according to Obama himself, that "we need a balanced, long-term approach to deficit reduction." During those 931 days, he has proposed and authorized new spending of trillions of dollars. The US government debt has increased at an annualized 13% rate since his inauguration. During the first two years of his administration, his party controlled the Congress. And, despite the fact that "we didn’t need a rating agency to tell us" that there was a problem, he has done not one thing, not a single one, that didn't make the problem worse rather than better.

So obviously, he's implicitly confessing that he and his party should get the lion's share of the credit for the downgrade.

On which point he's clearly correct...

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Meltdown


Allahpundit:
The Democrats’ strategy, led by President Present, is to sit back and let the tea party bleed some of its popularity on an aggressive “tough choices” agenda and the occasional serendipitous (for Democrats) political overreach. That way, when the real battle finally begins over entitlements, independents will be more suspicious of the tea-party brand than they were before. It’s a gutless, cynical, irresponsible strategy given the magnitude of our spending problem, but it’s not stupid. It may have worked to some extent here.
Let me just say this - if the American electorate lets them get away with this gutless, cynical, irresponsible strategy, then that electorate deserves the economic catastrophe that results.

I haven't read any Heinlein, but I love this quote, and it's been circulating a lot recently. For good reason.
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as "bad luck."
In many ways, the worst excesses of Rand's looters are being played out before our eyes...

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Fifers and drummers...


... waiting to rehearse. Buckman Tavern, Lexington, MA, where the minutemen mustered on the night of April 18, 1775...



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Tweet of the day


“If the Tea Party is to blame for the downgrade, the doctor is to blame for your lung cancer.”


(H/T Instapundit)

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'The Gods of the Copybook Headings'


Commentary on a couple of different current events from Rudyard Kipling.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe
,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."
...
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul
;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."
Yes, it dates to 1919, but that actually makes it more relevant than otherwise. Universal truths, and the costs of losing sight of them, or misunderstanding them, or failing to acknowledge them, are as relevant today as ever. (And yes, there are many more stanzas, but these two seemed remarkably on point today...)




(Wikipedia: "The "copybook headings" to which the title refers were proverbs or maxims, extolling virtues such as honesty or fair dealing that were printed at the top of the pages of 19th-century British students' special notebook pages, called copybooks. The school-children had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page.")

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Note to Peter - it's not actually about the guns...


Peter King, writing in Monday Morning Quarterback:
Think we shouldn't do anything about gun violence in this country? Read this dispatch from Saturday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
...((Horrible story omitted))...
I'm sick of stories like this getting ignored. We've got to do something to take guns out of the hands of gangs and other young criminals in this country. How many more of those idiotically horrible stories do there need to be on the front page of papers around the country before we do something tangible about gun violence?

Hey Peter - in England, they've done tangible things about gun violence. Guns are outlawed, and people who defend themselves against criminals are prosecuted. So that should fix everything, right?

Or not.

Toby Young, writing in the London Telegraph:
I’m writing this at 3.30am on Tuesday morning, unable to sleep thanks to the outbreak of lawlessness that has engulfed large parts of London. At around 10pm, a mob of several hundred youths ran amok in Ealing, about two miles from where I live in Acton, smashing shop windows, setting property ablaze and looting the local shopping centre. Sky News reported two separate incidents of homes in the area being broken into, with one elderly lady waking to find a masked boy at the end of her bed. According to eyewitnesses I’ve been corresponding with on Twitter, it took the police 90 minutes to respond, so overstretched are they.
...
Like hundreds of thousands of people all over London, I’m not relishing another night of feeling this vulnerable. David Cameron is going to have to come up with a suitably robust response at this morning’s COBRA meeting if he’s going to persuade ordinary Londoners not to organise themselves into vigilante squads to protect their families and their property on the nights ahead. It’s increasingly clear that the police are becoming overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the lawlessness.
...
The problem isn’t that the police aren’t equipped with effective enough weapons, it’s that the lawlessness is so widespread that the police aren’t able to get to the trouble spots in time.
...
Looking at the television pictures a few hours ago, I felt as if I was witnessing the collapse of Western civilisation as depicted in countless Hollywood disaster movies. We need to restore the rule of law by whatever means necessary and we need to do it now.
What is the cost to England of what's going on over there right now? The tangible monetary costs are going to end up being very large - the intangible costs are incalculable. And it's a populace that is unable to protect itself. How is that a good thing?

Obviously, the story he was reacting to in the Pittsburgh paper was horrendous, and no one wants to see it. But the question is, how do you avoid it? Banning guns may make people feel like they've done something, but the evidence that it's a practical and productive activity is non-existent. It's not the guns that are a problem, it's the culture in which the use of guns to harm innocents is accepted and/or glorified. If you look at an inner city culture of drugs and guns and blame the guns, you're missing the point. It's not the guns - it's the culture.

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London riots


I don't know all the details of what's going on over in London right now, but suffice it to say, the situation is bad. This may or may not accurately represent the situation, but I think it's an interesting commentary, so I offer it to you.

This is what happens when multiculturalists turn a blind eye to gang culture
The roots of these appalling events are many and tangled, but for the moment let’s just focus on one: the way Britain’s educational establishment has cringed helplessly in the face of a gang culture that rejects every tenet of liberal society. It’s violent, it’s sexist, it’s homophobic and it’s racist. But it is broadly tolerated by many people in the black community, which has lost control of its teenage youths. Those youths scare the wits out of teachers and social workers – and some police officers, too. The threat of physical violence is ever present in many schools, and one can hardly blame individual teachers for recoiling from it. But we should and must blame those schools and education authorities that have made extra space for gang culture in children’s lives because they believe it is an authentic expression of Afro-Caribbean and Asian identity. We are seeing a lot of black faces on our screens tonight; it’s a shame that the spotlight can’t also fall on those white multiculturalists who made this outrage possible.
There's certainly nothing facially nonsensical there.

And, if you've been reading me for any length of time at all, you know what quote is coming next...
The practical result of education in the spirit of The Green Book must be the destruction of the society which accepts it.
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

The England produced by the changes of the last fifty years, the welfare state and the multicultural cult in the educational system, no longer produces a Sir Charles Napier. I don't see that as a change for the better...
"[Sir Charles Napier] also," says Sir William Napier, "put down the practice of Suttee, which, however was rare in Scinde, by a process extremely characteristic. For judging the real cause of these immolations to be the profits derived by the priests, and hearing of an intended burning, he made it known that he would stop the sacrifice. The priests said it was a religious rite which must not be meddled with, that all nations had customs which should be respected and this was a very sacred one. The general, affecting to be struck with the argument, replied, 'Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom. Prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs." "No Suttee," adds the historian, "took place then or afterwards."

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Gosh, why didn't we think of that before?



A piece in the Sunday New York Times from Emory University psychology Professor Drew Westen is generating some buzz in the blogosphere. I linked it here, but I don't recommend reading it. It's largely a self-serving crybaby rant about how evil Wall Street and the conservatives are, and how the liberal left's dreams have been dashed by the reality of Obama. It's a singularly unimpressive piece (though par for the course for the pages of the Times).

But this is a telling passage.
Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted "present" (instead of "yea" or "nay") 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues...Perhaps those of us who were so enthralled with the magnificent story he told in “Dreams From My Father” appended a chapter at the end that wasn’t there — the chapter in which he resolves his identity and comes to know who he is and what he believes in.
You mean, maybe someone should have been actually vetted before being elected to the Presidency? What a concept! Too bad that no one said anything about it at the time, huh?

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Monday Pythagorean, 8/8/2011


Another 4-3 week, and the division lead erodes again...

  • On August 7th, Boston clinched the season series against the Yankees, running their head-to-head record against New York to 10-2. If the two teams finish the season with identical records, the Red Sox win the AL East. (OK, not necessarily. It's still mathematically possible for a second place team from one of the other divisions to finish ahead of both, which would mean that whoever didn't win the East would not be the Wild Card, and they'd have to have a playoff to determine the division winner. I am discounting that possibility, as I find it very unlikely.)
  • Statistics line of the week:

    CC Sabatha - 2011
    GSW L IPBFPHRERHRBBKHBPERAWHIPIP/game


    vs. All25166182.67744162645784616852.811.177.31


    vs. Boston40425.001173320202102137.201.846.25


    vs. Everyone else21162157.67627129443763614722.111.067.51



  • A cautionary note for Sox fans who want to read too much into those Sabathia numbers...

    Josh Beckett vs. Yankees
    GSW L IPBFPHRERHRBBKERAWHIP


    2010512261344031299132610.042.15


    201143027105163327301.001.00



  • One more sobering thought for Red Sox fans. The Red Sox are eight games ahead of the Yankees in head-to-head play. The Yankees are seven games ahead of Boston vs. the rest of baseball. And the Yankees still have the best run differential in the game.



  • Here's another interesting line - Jarod Saltalamacchia reached base safely just four times this week, with two hits and two walks. And yet he scored five runs. (One of those was as a pinch-runner.)



  • Red Sox Player of the Week - The obvious choice for the award this week was Jacoby Ellsbury (.276/.313/.552/.864) but he actually had a good, not great, week. It looked great, though, because his few hits came in memorable circumstances, with his one-fers on Tuesday and Wednesday both ending the games, and then his three-run homer on Saturday giving Boston a big cushion against Sabathia. But the best performance of the week came from Carl Crawford (.429/.448/.679/1.127), whose 12 hits included one HR and four doubles.



  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - He didn't get a win in either game, but they won both of his starts, largely on the strength of Josh Beckett's performances. Over 12 innings, he allowed three runs, going six strong twice during the week.




AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/18/2011
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
New York5.53(2)4(3)0.644(1)73406944-4
Boston5.66(1)4.34(7)0.619(2)704370430
Texas5.23(3)4.4(8)0.578(3)67486451-3
Tampa Bay4.43(7)4.14(5)0.531(4)60535954-1
Los Angeles3.97(13)3.77(1)0.523(5)605563523
Toronto4.85(4)4.75(11)0.51(6)585658560
Detroit4.62(5)4.67(10)0.495(7)565861535
Cleveland4.43(8)4.5(9)0.492(8)555756561
Oakland3.98(12)4.11(4)0.486(9)55595163-4
Chicago4.09(10)4.24(6)0.484(10)555855580
Kansas City4.58(6)4.99(12)0.461(11)53614965-4
Seattle3.4(14)3.91(2)0.437(12)496449640
Minnesota4.03(11)5.01(13)0.401(13)466851635
Baltimore4.26(9)5.52(14)0.384(14)436844671
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Boston10062
New York9963
Texas9072
Los Angeles8973
Detroit8775
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York10161
Boston10062
Texas9171
Los Angeles8874
Tampa Bay8577
Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Seattle4.17(9)2.33(1)0.743(1)42420
New York6.14(1)3.71(3)0.715(2)52520
Cleveland5.43(2)4.86(9)0.551(3)4334-1
Kansas City4.5(5)4.17(5)0.535(4)33330
Tampa Bay4.83(4)4.5(7)0.533(5)33330
Texas5.33(3)5(10)0.529(6)33330
Los Angeles3.33(13)3.17(2)0.523(7)33421
Boston4.43(7)4.29(6)0.515(8)43430
Detroit4(11)4(4)0.5(9)33421
Oakland4.5(5)5.17(11)0.437(10)3324-1
Baltimore4.33(8)5.17(11)0.42(11)3324-1
Toronto4(11)4.83(8)0.414(12)24331
Chicago4.14(10)5.43(13)0.379(13)34340
Minnesota2.83(14)5.67(14)0.22(14)15150

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