Thursday, June 28, 2012

They got away with it


The outcome is disappointing.  What may be most disappointing about it is that Anthony Kennedy was on board for the full invalidation, and we still got the wrong outcome.

I will address this issue, but I'm not sure exactly when.  Certainly, by this time tomorrow...

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Are the Sox going to catch the Orioles?

In response to the contention, made elsewhere, that someone was "waiting for the Orioles to fall back to Earth" and that it "doesn't seem to be happening."

Sure it does. And it will continue. The Red Sox will finish 5-10 games ahead of the Orioles. Boston's a much better team. And they've made up 6 games on the Orioles in the last 6 weeks. On May 10, Boston was 12-19, 7 1/2 games behind the 20-12 Orioles. Since then, Baltimore is 21-21 (and have been outscored by 25!) while Boston is 28-16 (and have outscored its opposition by 67). Over that stretch, and despite the record numbers of outfielders on the DL, despite the lackluster (at best) performances of the expected superstars1, only the Yankees and Angels have better records than Boston, and no AL team has a better run differential or pythagorean record.

Baltimore is a mediocre team, settling after a hot start. They'll finish the season within 4-6 games of .500. Boston will win 90+. Boston is better than Toronto and Baltimore. Boston is better than Seattle and Oakland. Boston is better than anyone in the Central. The Red Sox need to finish ahead of one of Tampa and LA to make the post-season, and they are already tied with Tampa (on whom they've made up 7 1/5 games over the same stretch.) Barring a 2011-style meltdown (which is obviously a possibility), Boston will be one of the five (and what a bad idea that was, MLB) playoff teams from the AL this year.



1 - Think about this for a moment - on opening day, the offensive stars of the 2012 Boston Red Sox were Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz. Over this seven week stretch, they've made up six games on the Orioles, 7 1/2 on the Rays, and played almost the best baseball in the AL, while those five players hit .255/.330/.444/.774, which, while mediocre, actually looks as if it were better than it was, because David Ortiz was a monster (.272/.390/.626/1.016). What really happened is that Ellsbury didn't play at all and the other three combined to hit only .249/.305/.377/.682, while starting, on average, 34 of the 44 games. And they still went 28-16.

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Decision Day

Sometime shortly after 10:00 this morning, the Supreme Court will announce its decision on the constitutionality of ObamaCare. Here's Amy Howe's preview at the SCOTUSblog. Lyle Denniston has a reader's guide. And they will be live-streaming commentary as the time approaches. Obviously, I've already made my decision, long ago. I'm cautiously optimistic that the mandate goes out, at least, but since I so profoundly desire that, I can't be sure whether or not that optimism is based on wishful thinking. But by 11:00 this morning, we will either still live a nation of limited and enumerated powers, or we'll live in a country in which there are no practical limits to Congress' authority.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Pythagorean - 6/25/2012

All things being equal, 5-1 is much to be preferred to 1-5...
  • And the Kevin Youkilis era comes to an end.
  • And I've got to say, I'm not crazy about it. I understand that they think the future is now for Will Middlebrooks, and I'm not going to say that they're wrong. I'm not convinced that Middlebrooks has got adequate plate discipline yet, but deciding that Middlebrooks is ready to be better than Youkilis this year is not obviously wrong. And Youkilis is now four years removed from the last season in which he played 140+ games - he has at least seemed to be increasingly brittle over the past few years, and is almost certainly in the decline phase of his career. One could make a case for going either way with this decision, but choosing Middlebrooks over Youkilis is not irrational.
  • That said, and even with the understanding that people are not game pieces and human interactions matter and starters relegated to the bench can get upset, I don't see any urgency to get Youkilis out of town. And the trade they made - two nothings from the White Sox, with the Red Sox paying most of Youkilis' salary - strikes me as an urgency trade. They gave up a (probably) not-yet over-the-hill (just barely) former star, who can play two positions well, draw walks, hit for average and power, reasonably-salaried in the last year of his contract, for, well, roster fodder. And paid for the right to do it. If that was the best offer they had on the table yesterday, they should have waited a week. Or a month. The odds of them needing, or at least wanting, Kevin Youkilis on the roster again before the season ends are much better than the odds of them ever getting any significant benefit from Zach Stewart (now in his 4th organization in three years, with a ML ERA of 5.92 in 41 games) or Brent Lillibridge (who, like Jason Repko, is the kind of player you want off your team, not on it). The team may or may not be better off with Middlebrooks playing rather than Youkilis; that doesn't mean that they're better off with Youkilis in Chicago and Stewart and Lillibridge in the organization.
  • Looking at the last decade (6/25/2002-6/24/2012), it should not come as a surprise to see that Kevin Youkilis (.287/.388/.487/.875 - 639 RC) provided the Red Sox with the third-best production over that span, behind David Ortiz (.289/.387/.571/.958 - 1058 RC) and Manny Ramirez (.310/.409/.582/.990 - 732 RC). There were a couple of short stints in a Red Sox uniform that were better on a rate basis (Cliff Floyd for 47 games and Jason Bay for 200 [plus Scott Podsednik and Will Middlebrooks for 19 and 41, respectively]) but he wasn't just around for a long time - he was around for a long time at a high level. ("Long time" is a relative term, but he played 953 games in a Red Sox uniform, which puts him just outside the top 20 on the Red Sox list players over the last half-century or so, and 37th all time, between Troy O'Leary [962] and Jimmy Piersall [931].)
  • If the season ended today, the Red Sox would be on the outside of the playoffs, looking in. But they wouldn't be far outside. Right now, they are three games behind the Orioles for the first Wild Card slot, and two games behind Tampa for the second. And if every team were to play their remaining games with the actual winning percentage that matched their pythagorean winning percentage thus far, the Boston Red Sox would end up with the fourth best record in the AL, and the second Wild Card slot (behind the LA Angels of A).
  • Think about that last point for a minute. They've done this with no Crawford, essentially no Ellsbury, no Bailey (who has never done anything for Boston, but was expected to be the closer). They've done it with seven different outfielders on the DL for part or all of the season. They've done it with bad performances from Pedroia and Gonzalez and Beckett and Buchholz and Bard.
  • I'm just about ready to nominate Bobby Valentine for Manager of the Year.
  • The thing is, they're unlikely to continue at this pace if the "stars" of the team continue to struggle. Nava and Middlebrooks and Saltalamacchia and Ross have all played well, but they've also probably played a little bit better than you can assume they'll play the rest of the year. On that front, it's good to note that Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia both showed signs, over the past few days, of coming out of prolonged slumps. To have the kind of season that the team wants to have, they are going to need more from Pedroia and Gonzalez (and probably Lester and Beckett) than they've gotten so far.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Daniel Nava (.500/.560/.636/1.196) and Cody Ross (.318/.348/.864/1.211) made real strong runs at it, but they were overshadowed by a dominant week from Will Middlebrooks (.625/.632/1.375/2.007), who went 10-16 with 3 HR.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Franklin Morales and Aaron Cook had good starts, but nothing special. So this is the week that the award goes to Alfredo Aceves, for three perfect one-inning appearances in relief, finishing three of the five wins.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/25/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.29(1)3.99(4)0.626(1)46274528-1
New York4.75(4)3.99(3)0.579(2)413043282
Boston5.22(2)4.58(12)0.559(3)40323834-2
Los Angeles4.12(11)3.67(1)0.553(4)403340330
Chicago4.61(5)4.13(6)0.551(5)40323834-2
Toronto4.9(3)4.47(9)0.542(6)39333735-2
Tampa Bay4.32(6)4.03(5)0.532(7)383440322
Baltimore4.26(8)4.21(7)0.506(8)363641315
Oakland3.85(14)3.82(2)0.503(9)37363538-2
Detroit4.25(9)4.44(8)0.48(10)353735370
Seattle4.15(10)4.49(10)0.464(11)34403143-3
Cleveland4.28(7)4.87(13)0.441(12)314037346
Kansas City3.91(13)4.51(11)0.435(13)304031391
Minnesota4.07(12)5.34(14)0.378(14)274429422
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Texas10062
New York9864
Baltimore9270
Tampa Bay9072
Los Angeles8973
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas10161
New York9666
Los Angeles8973
Boston8874
Chicago8874
Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Boston7.67(1)4.5(8)0.726(1)42511
Los Angeles5.83(3)3.5(5)0.718(2)42420
Oakland4.5(7)3(2)0.677(3)42420
Texas4.67(5)3.33(4)0.649(4)42511
Tampa Bay4.17(8)4(7)0.519(5)33330
Toronto6.33(2)6.5(12)0.488(6)33330
Chicago3.33(11)3.5(5)0.478(7)33330
New York4.67(5)5(10)0.468(8)33330
Cleveland4.17(8)4.5(8)0.465(9)33421
Detroit2.33(12)2.83(1)0.412(10)24331
Seattle5.5(4)7(14)0.391(11)24240
Kansas City4.17(8)6.67(13)0.297(12)24240
Minnesota2.33(12)5(10)0.199(13)15332
Baltimore1.33(14)3.17(3)0.17(14)15241

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Is today the day?

This has got to be the week that the "Obamacare" decision comes down. Does it come down today?

SCOTUSblog will be live-blogging the results...

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Going negative, and getting a laugh at the same time...

Elizabeth Warren’s Birthday Gift From GOP: An Ancestry.com Account
Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren turns 63 today, and among her birthday gifts is one she probably won’t appreciate very much. She’s in a tight race against the GOP incumbent, Scott Brown. The state’s Republican party announced this morning that it is gifting Warren, a Harvard Law professor, with a complimentary account at ancestry.com.

“Since Professor Warren has failed to come up with any evidence supporting her claims to Native American ancestry, we thought this Ancestry.com account would make the perfect birthday gift,” said Massachusetts Republican Party executive director Nate Little in a statement.
Perfect!

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"4 Pinocchios for Obama’s newest anti-Romney ad"

Even The Washington Post notices how much lying the Obama campaign is already doing about Mitt Romney...
The Obama campaign fails to make its case. On just about every level, this ad is misleading, unfair and untrue, from the use of “corporate raider” to its examples of alleged outsourcing. Simply repeating the same debunked claims won’t make them any more correct.
This is going to be unpleasant for the next four months. Romney's going to talk about Obama's record, which is inevitably a negative campaign, and Obama's going to talk about anything but, which inevitably means smearing Romney. The only path to victory for Obama is to make Mitt Romney into a horrifyingly scary figure to 51% of the voters. So that's got to be the game plan...

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Obama super-donor calls black Republican "Ape"

Loathsome "comedian" Bill Maher:
...the idea that the blame for our government’s dysfunction is equally shared by the parties just is a giant, steaming mound of horse**** and anyone who has paid attention to politics over the last 20 years knows it. Or as I like to call it, “The Rise of the Party of the Apes.”
...

Or take Allen West. Seriously, take him to the padded cell and give him 20 CCs of the high test. Ornstein and Mann start off their Post op-ed by noting that recently Rep. Allen West said that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. And not one Republican said, “Allen, come on. You’re making us look dumb.”
Allen West is a black man.

Bill Maher, "comedian" and million-dollar donor to the Obama re-election SuperPAC, says that this black man belongs to the "Party of the Apes."  This black man is one of three members of the "Party of the Apes" that is mentioned by name. Think about that for a moment. Consider what might the media firestorm might look like if a conservative were to call the Democrats the "Party of the Apes" and then make a similar comment about Barack Obama. That person would be lucky to have the damage limited to losing his or her career.

Not long ago, there was an article in some leftist publication or other about Donald Trump's birtherism, and slamming Mitt Romney for refusing to get into the "denounce your supporters" game. This call was echoed all over twitter and facebook by the members of the "civil discourse" (from Republicans) and bipartisanship (from Republicans) brigade.  I expect no such media pressure on Obama to repudiate Bill Maher.



(For the record, I do not believe that Maher is making a racist statement here [even though he supports many explicitly racist policies]. I think it's a wrong statement, an idiotic and offensive statement, but not a racist one. I don't think he's explicitly calling out West as an ape because he's black. But by the rules of interpretation foisted upon us by the American political left and its media wing, a Republican making a similar comment would be pilloried.)

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"Who wants four more years?"

Mitt Romney: We Can't Afford Four More Years Of Barack Obama



As a long-time Mitt-watcher, I can state, with a high degree of confidence, that he's gotten a lot better as a campaigner over the years...

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Cleared" and "acquitted" are not the same thing...


There was a headline on the New England Cable News morning news this morning - "Clemens Cleared."

But he wasn't.  He was acquitted, which is not at all the same thing.  For him to have been convicted (in his perjury trial), the government would have had to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  One could sit on a jury, believe him to be guilty, and still find enough reasonable doubt to acquit. 

But I doubt that the verdict will change a single person's opinion over whether or not he ever used performance enhancing substances or lied about it.  If you believed it yesterday, you probably believe it today.,,

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Pythagorean - 6/18/2012

Two out of three, to quote Meatloaf, "ain't bad," but if your .667 weeks are interspersed with 1-5 weeks rather than 5-1 weeks, you're not going to end the season where you want to end it...
  • It's not a bad week, but they've accumulated a lot of losses already, and are rapidly approaching the point at which "not a bad week" is going to be "not good enough."
  • If the Yankees never lose again, it will be hard for the Red Sox to catch them.
  • In the 2+ weeks since they hit their high-watermark (thus far) at three games over .500, they've gone 5-8. The offense, in particular, has struggled, with only three games in that stretch of more than four runs scored, and four games of fewer than two runs scored. Obviously, they've had injury issues, particularly in the outfield. There was no expectation, when the season started, that they'd play the month of June with significant at-bats going to Darnell McDonald and two players who weren't even in the organization, Scott Podsednik and Marlon Byrd. But that's not where the real offensive struggle has come from: 
William Middlebrooks (.212/.289/.212/.502)
Adrian Gonzalez (.232/.279/.357/.636)
Mike Aviles (.255/.276/.291/.567)
Kevin Youkilis (.128/.261/.179/.440)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.186/.250/.372/.622)
Dustin Pedroia (.160/.232/.200/.432) 
That group is responsible for over 50% of the team's at-bats for the last two weeks, and they are hitting a cumulative .199/.264/.275/.539. Add in the fact that they've spent the last week in NL parks with their pitchers "hitting" and it becomes obvious why they aren't scoring any runs.
  • Thanks to Franklin Morales, the pitchers avoided an offensive 0-fer, finishing the stretch 1-12 with no walks, 7 strikeouts and two sacrifices.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Scott Podsednik (.417/.462/.417/.878) had an excellent week, and for a couple of reasons, having to do with position adjustments and not wanting to give out the award to the same guy every week, I'm tempted to go with him. But the offensive production gap between Podsednik and David Ortiz (.353/.455/.765/1.219) is just too big, so Papi is your winner once more.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - The pitching was excellent this week. The worst start was the first start, and Beckett was very good after a rough first inning. With no two-game starters, and no heavy and spectacular relief performances, there's a lot to choose from. I want to mention Franklin Morales, who came out of the 'pen to give them a good five inning, two run emergency start last night. But the award goes to Clay Buchholz, whose seven-inning one-run win edges out Felix Doubront's seven-inning two-run win.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/18/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.34(1)4.04(5)0.625(1)42254027-2
New York4.75(4)3.89(2)0.59(2)382740252
Chicago4.73(5)4.18(6)0.556(3)37293531-2
Toronto4.77(3)4.29(8)0.549(4)36303432-2
Boston5(2)4.59(11)0.539(5)36303333-3
Los Angeles3.97(12)3.69(1)0.534(6)363136310
Tampa Bay4.33(8)4.03(4)0.533(7)353137292
Baltimore4.53(6)4.3(9)0.524(8)353139274
Oakland3.79(14)3.9(3)0.488(9)33343136-2
Detroit4.42(7)4.59(11)0.483(10)323432340
Seattle4.03(11)4.26(7)0.474(11)32362939-3
Kansas City3.89(13)4.31(10)0.453(12)293529350
Cleveland4.29(9)4.91(13)0.439(13)293633324
Minnesota4.23(10)5.37(14)0.393(14)263926390
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York10062
Texas9765
Baltimore9666
Tampa Bay9171
Los Angeles8775
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas9963
New York9765
Baltimore8973
Chicago8874
Tampa Bay8874
Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
New York4.67(6)2(1)0.825(1)51601
Baltimore6(2)2.83(3)0.798(2)51510
Oakland7.17(1)3.83(9)0.759(3)51510
Texas6(2)3.33(5)0.746(4)42511
Boston4(9)2.83(3)0.653(5)42420
Detroit4.83(5)4(11)0.586(6)42420
Kansas City4.17(8)3.67(8)0.558(7)33512
Chicago3.5(11)3.33(5)0.522(8)3324-1
Toronto3.67(10)3.83(9)0.48(9)33330
Los Angeles1.83(14)2.17(2)0.424(10)33421
Minnesota5(4)6.17(13)0.405(11)24240
Seattle2.83(13)3.5(7)0.405(12)24240
Tampa Bay4.33(7)5.5(12)0.393(13)24240
Cleveland3(12)7(14)0.175(14)15150

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Niall Ferguson: "If the young knew what was good for them they'd join the Tea Party"

The thing that most concerns me, as look out across the political landscape, is that any of this is considered controversial.
“It is surprisingly easy to win the support of young voters for policies that would ultimately make matters even worse for them, like maintaining defined benefit pensions for public employees,” he says in an article ahead of the lecture.

He adds: "If young Americans knew what was good for them, they would all be in the Tea Party."

Professor Ferguson argues the true size of government debt in Western democracies is many times larger than "deeply misleading" figures issued in the form of bonds because they do not record unfunded liabilities of social security and health care schemes.

"The last corporation to publish financial statements this misleading was Enron," he wrote.
Well, yeah.

It's horrifying how many people - how many voters - don't understand, or believe, that...

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Congratulations, Mr. President!

This ought to shut up those who think that Barack Obama has accomplished absolutely nothing during his Presidency.

Obama plays 100th round of golf as president
The president was out of the house just after 10 a.m. Central time for a round with frequent partners Marty Nesbitt, Eric Whitaker and Marvin Nicholson, the White House trip director.

Mark Knoller, CBS News's longtime keeper of presidential data, says it's Obama's 100th round since taking office. And the president picked a nice course -- he's playing at the historic Beverly Country Club the southwest corner of the city.
100 rounds, in less than four years - for someone who is employed full-time in the work of the people, that's a hell of an accomplishment...



Just think how much more damage he could have done if he weren't spending all of his time golfing and picking basketball games!

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Friday, June 15, 2012

"Wah Wahhh"



American Crossroads: "Wah Wahhh"



I'm sure that Angela Rye could explain why this is viciously racist, but it made me chuckle...

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Latest racist self-identifies...

We all know that the term "cool" is the newest racist slander, according to the CBC. Well, here's the latest example of someone using that particular racist slur:
The latest campaign email to supporters of President Barack Obama's reelection effort tries to capitalize on the president's coolness. "From coaching basketball to knowing how many Jonas brothers there are, Barack is a pretty cool dad," writes First Lady Michelle Obama in an email to supporters.
For whatever reason, Angela Rye was not quoted in the article...

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Explicitly racial group: "Everyone who doesn't agree with us is a racist."


One of the adages I like when talking about confirmation bias is, "when all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." In other words, there's a strong tendency in all human beings to see what we're looking for, what we want to see. If our only tool for interpreting society is racism, we're going to see racism in every societal interaction.  So it should come as no surprise that an explicitly racial group, a group based on skin color, taking its name from the skin color of its members, looks at the opposition to President Obama's policies and sees ... racism.

Congressional Black Caucas staff: Opposition to Obama is racist
"This is probably the toughest presidential term in my lifetime," Rye said during CSPAN's Q&A yesterday. "I think that a lot of what the president has experienced is because he's black. You know, whether it's questioning his intellect or whether or not he's Ivy League. It's always either he's not educated enough or he's too educated; or he's too black or he's not black enough; he's too Christian or not Christian enough. There are all these things where he has to walk this very fine line to even be successful."
Sigh...

Honestly, isn't everyone tired of this schtick yet? Let's be brutally frank for a minute: if Barack Obama were white, we would be talking about whether Mitt Romney could defeat Hillary Clinton's re-election bid. Barack Obama, in 2008, was the black John Edwards. Barack Obama is President, and John Edwards is not, because the vast majority of Americans abhor racism and go out of their way not to practice racist behaviors, or behaviors that they might perceive as racist. Barack Obama had absolutely nothing in his background to qualify him for the Presidency over a John Edwards. Barack Obama had absolutely nothing in his background to qualify him for the Presidency, period. He won because of his skin color, because enough media-Americans and Democrat-Americans decided it was time for an African-American President instead of a Woman-American, and enough independents and Republicans were appalled by the profligacy of the second Bush administration to go along.

And now he's being opposed for his policies. His health care proposals are loathed by the same people that loathed "Hillarycare" in 1994. His economic proposals are to the left of Al Gore's and John Kerry's, so he's got all of the opposition that they had, plus more of the "middle," who thought that Gore's and Kerry's policies were ok, but any further was bad. He's got the same kind of support that the equally disastrous, but much whiter, Jimmy Carter had, coming down the stretch in his own failed administration.

In other words, there's not a scintilla of evidence to support the idea that opposition to Obama's policies and re-election campaign, for other than a trivial minority, is based on skin color.

None.

Of course, Rye did try to provide some evidence and, in the process, demonstrated how racist her worldview is, while saying nothing about Obama's opposition.
She said that "a lot" of conservative opposition is racially-charged, citing the use of the word "cool" in an attack ad launched by Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS superPAC.

"There's an ad, talking about [how] the president is too cool, [asking] is he too cool? And there's this music that reminds me of, you know, some of the blaxploitation films from the 70s playing in the background, him with his sunglasses," Rye said. "And to me it was just very racially-charged. They weren't asking if Bush was too cool, but, yet, people say that that's the number one person they'd love to have a beer with. So, if that's not cool I dont know what is.
So "cool" is now a racial slur. Right. Let's conduct a little experiment here: close your eyes, count to 10, and then say the name of the person you most associate with the term, "cool."

If you're over 65, I'm guessing that you said "Elvis Presley" or "Marlon Brando" or "Frank Sinatra." If you're between 45 and 65, you like came up with "Arthur Fonzarelli" (or just "the Fonz"). I'll confess that I don't know who you came up with if you're younger than that, but you're in the Obama demographic anyway.

Q: What do those men all have in common?
A: They are all nearly as white as Elizabeth "Fauxcahontas" Warren.

Claiming that "cool" is a racist term is obviously nonsense to anyone not steeped in the racial grievance industry. To one who is, anything is a racist term, if applied in a pejorative way to a black man. But that makes her position explicitly non-falsifiable. Any evidence that can be offered to her that Obama's opposition is not race-based can be explained away with ad hoc special pleadings. "Cool" is racist. "Proud" means "uppity" so it's racist. "Obama Isn't Working" apparently evokes "the stereotype of the 'lazy,' 'shiftless' black man" and is therefore racist. (Notice that it's the "unbiased" left that thinks about black men as "lazy...shiftless" and assumes racism on the part of those who don't think about black men that way.) Calling him by his full name is racist. Wondering whether he was born in Africa (a claim that he himself made for 17 years) is racist. Opposition to tax hikes is racist. Opposition to the individual mandate is racist. Commenting on how much time he spends golfing is racist. Calling him the "food stamp President" (because the number of Americans receiving food stamps is at an all time high) is racist.

Essentially, in the eyes of those who see the world through the eyes of the CBC, any criticism of a black man is inherently racist.

And I ask again, isn't everyone tired of this schtick yet?

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Uncle Pythagoras liked that week a lot better than I did - there's not much more frustrating than consistently playing just well enough to lose...

  • My week was such that I saw almost no baseball, following it in phone updates and day-after box scores (much as our distant ancestors did.)  (I did see about 1/2 an inning of the Nationals broadcast on Friday night down in NoVa.) So I've got little in the way of aesthetic impressions to share, and some things that I'm curious about.  Was Saturday a typical Daisuke performance of the type that has so frustrated the fanbase - working slow, nibbling, pitching just well enough to get through five and keep the team in the game but not well enough to make anyone happy or comfortable?  I don't know.  How bad was the Red Sox offense?  How good was the opposition pitching?  I don't know.   All I've got this week is numbers.


  • Obviously, the offense was bad this week.  They scored 3.833 runs/game, and that is the bottom line.  There was some talk about the team's performance being particularly bad with men in scoring position, but if it was, it doesn't show in the numbers.  They hit .235/.315/.343/.658 for the week, and they scored the 23 runs that the component parts of the offense suggest that they created.


  • The pitching was better than the offense.  (Talk about damning with faint praise.)   But it wasn't good, either.  And, in what makes it all even more frustrating, they lost two after being tied in, or going into, the ninth, and another that they led after 5.


  • The one win was both the best offensive and best pitching performance of the week.  The seven runs they scored in Buchholz' shutout would have been enough to win three of the five losses, and tie a fourth.  Given that they did not get shut out themselves, the zero runs Buchholz allowed would have been good enough to win any of the five losses.  But they combined those two performances on one night.


  • With their run distribution in these six games (scoring 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 - allowing 0, 2, 4, 4, 7 and 8) a team could have a record anywhere from 1-5 to 4-2, with 3-3 being likely.  They went 1-5.  My tendency is to look at that as the result of random variance, or "luck."  Others disagree.


  • Whatever the cause, it looks ugly, and, particularly for a team that started the way the Red Sox did, it seriously damages playoff hopes.


  • Woo-hoo!  Pedroia's back!  Uh, well, sort of.  If you get Dustin Pedroia (.125/.214/.125/.339), you might as well stick with Nick Punto.


  • And I ask again - where the hell is the real Adrian Gonzalez (.240/.240/.440/.680)?


  • At 3rd, we've got two players who spent the week racing to the bottom, with Kevin Youkilis (.158/.273/.211/.483) edging out Will Middlebrooks (.214/.353/.214/.567) in the quest for pine time.


  • Josh Beckett continues to look good, allowing only two runs in an excellent eight inning start.  Unfortunately for him, and the team, the offense scored only one.


  • Jon Lester had two mediocre starts, but they were better than his "bad" starts usually are.  His ERA of 3.46 is a little bit misleading, as he gave up five earned runs in 13 innings, but gave up two uneared, also.


  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Daniel Nava (.333/.400/.444/.844) was good before he got hurt, but didn't play enough.  Scott Podsednik (.364/.385/.455/.839) earned his paycheck.  The best offensive performance of the week came from David Ortiz (.238/.385/.476/.861).  But because of position adjustments, and a game-tying ninth inning HR, the player of the week award goes, again, to Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.278/.316/.500/.816).


  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Absolute no-brainer, as the one win of the week came in a dominating four-hit, one-walk, six-strikeout complete game shutout of the Orioles by Clay Buchholz.






AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/11/2012
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.28(1)4.11(5)0.612(1)37243526-2
New York4.76(5)4.08(4)0.57(2)342534250
Chicago4.85(4)4.27(6)0.558(3)34263327-1
Toronto4.88(3)4.33(7)0.554(4)33273129-2
Tampa Bay4.33(9)3.88(2)0.55(5)332735252
Los Angeles4.18(10)3.84(1)0.539(6)33283229-1
Boston5.1(2)4.77(13)0.531(7)32282931-3
Baltimore4.38(7)4.45(10)0.493(8)303034264
Seattle4.15(12)4.34(8)0.479(9)30322735-3
Detroit4.38(7)4.65(11)0.473(10)283228320
Cleveland4.42(6)4.69(12)0.473(11)283132274
Oakland3.46(14)3.9(3)0.445(12)27342635-1
Kansas City3.86(13)4.38(9)0.443(13)26322434-2
Minnesota4.15(11)5.29(14)0.391(14)233624351




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Tampa Bay9567
Texas9369
New York9369
Baltimore9270
Chicago8973




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas9765
New York9369
Tampa Bay9171
Chicago9072
Toronto8874




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual
R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
New York5.33(5)2.5(1)0.8(1)51510
Toronto5.5(3)3.67(4)0.677(2)4233-1
Los Angeles7.67(1)5.33(11)0.66(3)42420
Tampa Bay5(7)3.5(3)0.658(4)42420
Cleveland4.67(9)3.33(2)0.649(5)42420
Oakland5.43(4)4.14(5)0.621(6)4334-1
Minnesota5.83(2)4.67(9)0.601(7)42420
Detroit5(7)5.33(11)0.471(8)33330
Boston3.83(11)4.17(7)0.462(9)3315-2
Baltimore4.5(10)5.17(10)0.437(10)33421
Chicago5.17(6)6(14)0.432(11)3324-1
Texas2.86(13)4.14(5)0.336(12)25341
Seattle3.83(11)5.67(13)0.328(13)24331
Kansas City2.83(14)4.33(8)0.315(14)2415-1




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From Jeff Jacoby's keyboard to God's ears...

I've said for years that Public employees should not be allowed to unionize. Here's an excellent summary as to why, from Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby.

The end is near for public-sector unions
When unions bargain with management in the private sector, both sides are contending for a share of the private profits that labor helps produce — and both sides are constrained by the pressures of market discipline. Managers can’t ignore the company’s bottom line. Unions know that if they demand too much, they may cost the company its competitive edge.

But when labor and management bargain in the public sector, they are divvying up public funds, not private profits. Government bureaucrats don’t have to worry about losing business to their competitors; state agencies can’t relocate to another part of the country. There is little incentive to hold down wages and benefits, since the taxpayers who will be picking up the tab have no seat at the table. On the other hand, government managers have a powerful motivation to yield to government unions: Union members vote.
Yup. And hopefully what happened in Wisconsin will continue to spread...

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Piercing the cocoon


Is the illusion of inevitability which has, at least in the mainstream press, surrounded the Obama re-election effort beginning to fade? Are some in the press starting to recognize that he's in a very tough spot for an incumbent?

I don't think we'd see the likes of this story from the AP if they weren't...

GOP mood toward Romney's fall prospects brighten
A conservative base that was deeply splintered during the Republican primaries has coalesced around Romney even faster than some in the party were expecting.

That's the case with Bobbi Jo Rohrberg, a 36-year-old teacher and conservative blogger from southwestern Iowa who backed Santorum at the state's leadoff caucuses in January. She was worried a Romney nomination would look too much like McCain's fateful run.

Rohrberg said Romney initially struck her as someone who was "not going to have a lot of bite, not going to show the teeth, going to be very likeable and agreeable to go along and get along, which isn't going to get you anywhere if you are going to win."

But she said those concerns faded after Romney blasted Obama outside failed California solar energy company Solyndra, which received federal stimulus loans, and his recent efforts to brand the president as incapable of guiding the economy.
Any of us who watched Mitt lose gracefully (the "Kennedy country" line notwithstanding) to Ted Kennedy back in 1994 shared those concerns, of course. That's part of the reason that it's been so heartening to see his campaign not just attacking and responding to attacks, but doing so consistently, quickly and effectively.

Of course, there is a wealth of material to work with.  Let's face it, as much as they'd like it to be, Obama's record is not exactly Reagan's in '84...

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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Can liberals cure stupidity?

Over at Salon, Thomas Schaller wonders, Can liberals cure stupidity?
a confused public makes life difficult for liberal policymakers. The public grossly misunderstands who owns how much in America and who gets what from the U.S. government in ways that make liberal policy prescriptions harder to sell. Americans drastically underestimate wealth inequality in the country, undermining the case for raising higher-bracket income, inheritance or capital gains tax rates.

...

Such findings explain the paradoxical public preference for shrinking government spending even though, according to a YouGov/Economist survey last year, a majority of Americans only advocated less spending for one of 14 items polled — that dastardly 1-percenter: foreign aid.

...

to President Obama’s great chagrin and partially resulting from his own communication failures, Americans remain very confused about the provisions of the Affordable Care Act: what it does and doesn’t do, when certain provisions kick in, what the law will cost, and so on. Again, it’s hard to square the circle of a public evenly divided on the legislation overall despite the fact a plurality if not majority of polled respondents support every major provision of ACA except the very unpopular individual mandate.
Can liberals cure stupidity? Not until they can stop producing fantasyland analyses like this one and recognize that some options are mutually exclusive. The idea that because, for example, people like many of the individual components of Obamacare, they should like the whole thing, and it must be a communications failure that they don't is delusional. It assumes that you can have all of the good things you want at no cost and with no trade-offs, and that there won't be any negative repercussions as a result. The world doesn't work that way.  Most people recognize that.

Consider transportation. You can ask people if they want a stylish new car. You can ask if they want good gas mileage, lots of seating and cargo space, good performance on the highway, strong and safe construction, and a low price. Guess what - the answer to all of those will be "yes" from a strong majority. But they can't have them, because some of those things are mutually exclusive. The same thing is true of the health care bill. 

In the real world, people recognize that those trade-offs exist. In the cocoon of progressive fantasyland, it's just a communication problem.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

"Meanwhile"

So, last week, the latest (dreadful) unemployment report came out. And what was the President doing (other than heading out to the midwest for six fundraisers?)

Well, the RNC wants everyone to know...



This campaign is not shaping up as McCain 2008 redux...

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Monday Pythagorean - 6/4/2012

3 games over .500 on the week gets them - finally - over .500 for the season and - finally (albeit temporarily) - out of last place...
  • Through 54 games, exactly one-third of the season, the 2012 Red Sox are 28-26, two games behind their 2011 brethren, and tied for last in the AL East, three games back. A year ago, the 30-24 2011 Red Sox were in first place in the AL East.
  • To get some idea of how many injuries they've had, 22 Position players (and three pitchers) have had plate appearances for Boston thus far, vs. only 16 for the 2011 team (and they hadn't played in an NL park in the first third of the 2011 season).
  • The 2012 team has a lower OBP, but higher batting average and significantly higher SLG, and they've created (and scored) more runs. The 2012 team has also done a better job converting raw offensive events into runs than their 2011 counterparts. 2011(.266/.340/.427/.767), 270 created vs. 256 scored 2012(.273/.332/.458/.791), 284 created vs. 283 scored
  • One of the interesting aspects of the offensive improvement is that players who weren't here last year are not only making up for the performances of the players they're replacing, they're also replacing the runs by which the offensive stars of last year are underperforming last years performances, either because of injury or just plain ineffectiveness. Through 54 games last year, the offensive core of the team, Ortiz, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Gonzalez and Youkilis, had created 176 runs. That same group of players has produced only 120 runs through 54 games this year. David Ortiz (.315/.391/.596/.987) has improved over 2011 (.306/.378/.549/.927), as has Dustin Pedroia [(.295/.350/.450/.800) vs. (.243/.351/.335/.686)]. The others have underperformed by a lot, particularly Adrian Gonzalez ](.269/.322/.417/.739) vs (.332/.379/.547/.926)].
  • What kind of odds do you think you could have gotten in Vegas two months ago for the following comparative stat lines?
    Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks(.309/.390/.539/.930), 178 AB, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 21 BB
    Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis(.261/.322/.412/.734), 318 AB, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 25 BB
  • The Bard performance on Sunday was concerning. Everyone has a bad outing, but it's not the badness that's concerning - it's the fact that he completely lost the ability to throw strikes. Getting hit is one thing; losing the ability to control the ball is something else entirely. And it wasn't a little bit wild; it was historically out of control.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Great weeks for a couple of young pups, Daniel Nava (.333/.438/.556/.993) and Will Middlebrooks (.357/.400/.571/.971), are overshadowed by Old Man Papi, as David Ortiz (.385/.448/.846/1.294) just keeps rolling along...
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - Tough call this week. There were several good relief performances, but there are two good starters, and that's generally going to win out. The question is, does the fact that Doubront was effective twice outweigh the fact that Buchholz went eight in a dominant start? I think, at least for this week, no, it does not. So the pitcher of the week is Clay Buchholz who, for the first time this year, looked like the dominant Buchholz we saw two years ago, going eight innings and allowing eight baserunners and two runs while striking out seven, and even working out of a jam in the 8th.
AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 6/4/2012







ProjectedActual


R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Texas5.59(1)4.11(5)0.637(1)34203222-2
Chicago4.81(3)4.07(4)0.576(2)312331230
New York4.7(5)4.26(7)0.544(3)292429240
Toronto4.81(3)4.41(10)0.54(4)29252826-1
Tampa Bay4.26(9)3.93(3)0.537(5)292531232
Boston5.24(2)4.83(12)0.537(6)29252826-1
Los Angeles3.8(13)3.67(1)0.516(7)282728270
Baltimore4.37(7)4.37(8)0.5(8)272730243
Seattle4.18(10)4.2(6)0.498(9)28282432-4
Detroit4.31(8)4.57(11)0.473(10)26282529-1
Kansas City3.98(11)4.38(9)0.456(11)24282329-1
Cleveland4.4(6)4.85(13)0.455(12)242928254
Oakland3.2(14)3.87(2)0.414(13)223223311
Minnesota3.96(12)5.36(14)0.365(14)193420331
Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Texas9666
Chicago9369
Tampa Bay9369
Baltimore9072
New York8973
Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Texas10161
Chicago9369
Tampa Bay8973
New York8874
Toronto8676
Standings for the week







ProjectedActual


R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck
Chicago5.33(2)3.67(4)0.665(1)42511
Seattle8.17(1)5.67(13)0.661(2)4233-1
Minnesota4.33(8)3.33(3)0.618(3)42511
Boston5.29(4)4.14(7)0.61(4)43521
Toronto4.83(5)4(6)0.586(5)42420
Kansas City4.33(8)3.67(4)0.576(6)33421
New York5.33(2)4.67(9)0.561(7)33330
Los Angeles4.83(5)4.33(8)0.55(8)33421
Tampa Bay3.33(12)3.17(1)0.523(9)3324-1
Cleveland4.5(7)5.5(11)0.409(10)24240
Oakland2.5(13)3.17(1)0.394(11)2415-1
Detroit3.86(11)5.57(12)0.338(12)25250
Texas4.33(8)7.17(14)0.285(13)24240
Baltimore2.5(13)5.33(10)0.2(14)15150

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Saturday, June 02, 2012

"A Better Day"

A new Romney ad...

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Friday, June 01, 2012

"...paved with good intentions..."

Bloomberg Plans a Ban on Large Sugared Drinks
New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity.

The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.
The mayor is almost certainly correct in associating sugared drinks as a particularly potent contributor to the extensive evidences of obesity and its associated metabolic disorders and diseases in the United States.That said, it's an appalling abuse of the power of government to institute the kind of bans that he's proposing. Even if we suppose that this would reduce consumption rather than just increasing units sold (and increasing inconvenience and waste as a result), what right does Nanny Bloomberg have to decree what size soda or fruit juice anyone purchases? If it's not bad enough to ban outright, what purpose is served by having the government (i.e., we the people, banded together with guns and sovereign immunity) mandate the size of the packaging?

There are a lot of issues that this raises, and I don't have time right now. Expect a future post with more on this topic...

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