Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
February 28, 2007
POLITICS: Your Daily Dose of Glenn Greenwald's Mendacity

For those of you who may be tempted periodically to take Glenn Greenwald seriously, Patterico has a thorough, detailed and highly specific roundup of his latest breathtaking hypocrisy in attacking conservative bloggers for quoting anonymous comments on lefty blogs (more here from Jeff Goldstein), while QandO catches him in a gross distortion of a 2005 Joe Lieberman quote on Iraq.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:25 PM | Politics 2007 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: An Oscar To Grouch About

Well, I didn't watch the Oscars on Sunday; I ended up getting sucked into an Iwo Jima documentary on PBS instead. I don't get to the movies much anymore and it's rare these days that I see anything that gets nominated (well, except for those agitprop penguins).

Matt Welch did, and he had quite enough of Hollywood's self-congratulation:

I live in East Hollywood. I do not like that Bush fellow. I'm worried about Global Warming. I really liked An Inconvenient Truth (except for the horror bits where Robot Al whispering his haunted memories about some river, his son, Katherine Harris, whatever). I'm really happy that lesbians rock the mic and get married and make babies with evil David Crosby's sperm; I'm on that team (well, not David Crosby's, but you get the point). But watching these people congratulate each other for their enlightened views, their activism, their spreading of "awareness," kinda makes me want to do one-handed pushups with Brent Bozell, or at least lick my hand & slap that Guggenheim kid on the back of his Gore-loving neck.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:53 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Bogus Burgos?

Well, we knew Ambiorix Burgos had a live arm and was wild as all get out, but ace Royals beat writer Joe Posnanski (h/t Pinto) offers some specific cautions about Burgos, who he compares to Michigan J. Frog:

He blew 12 saves last year, but that doesn't even begin to describe the agony of watching him pitch. Tom Burgmeier, the old Royals bullpen coach, used to talk about one of his pitchers who had outrageous stuff -- every single time Burgie watched the guy flounder around on the mound he had the same thought: "You stupid son of a b***h, I would have KILLED to have your stuff."

That's the feeling Burgos inspires. You would have killed to have his arm. Instead you have to watch him shake off fastballs because he's in love with his splitter, you have to watch him throw fastballs high and outside and get into 3-1 counts, then you have to watch him groove thigh-high fastballs over the heart of the plate that hitters tattoo into the bleachers (the guy gave up 16 bombs in 73 innings last year ... and every single one of them, it seemed, cost the Royals a game). He wasn't a bad pitcher. He was an insult to pitching.

Posnanski also isn't impressed with reports of Burgos lighting up the radar gun in Mets camp:

By the way, what kind of goof throws the ball 100 mph before the end of February? I'm not crazy, right? Isn't this like walking up to a doctor and saying, "Hey, would you mind cutting my ulnar collateral ligament? Thanks."

I don't know if Burgos pitched winter ball, but if he did he's probably loose enough to turn it up to 11. If he didn't Posnanski's right.

The Mets picked up Burgos, like Oliver Perez, largely as a project for Rick Peterson to fix. And yes, that's what they said about Victor Zambrano, though in Peterson's defense, Zambrano was apparently already injured when the Mets got him. If Peterson can turn these two around, he really is as good as his press clippings. I'll take that chance; Burgos is 23, and Posnanski makes it sound like a lot of his trouble is pitch selection and location, and a successful pitching coach for a successful organization may have more luck fixing that, as may a veteran catcher who isn't afraid to get in Burgos' face (the Royals had none of these things - I mean, with their track record developing young pitchers, would you listen to them?). Still, I have to assume there's pretty good odds that Burgos will be as bad as Jorge Julio was last season, and/or will get shipped to New Orleans (no, that doesn't sound right yet to me, either). As for Brian Bannister, Posnanski is right about his smarts but I never saw a sign that Bannister had that much upside as a big league starter.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:32 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: I Will Get Fooled Again

RichardsonNK.jpg

Bill Richardson may or may not be a serious contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination - he does, at least, have far more experience in executive and foreign policy roles than the top three contenders combined - but it's a safe bet that the former Clinton Administration UN Ambassador and current New Mexico governor will play a significant role in the next Democratic Administration, and may well be a frontrunner for the VP job. So, Gov. Richardson's foreign policy op-ed piece in Saturday's Washington Post deserves some scrutiny.

Unfortunately, the results aren't pretty. Gov. Richardson wants us to use the recent nuclear deal with North Korea as a model to deal with Iran. Let's start with his description of that agreement:

The recent tentative agreement with North Korea over its nuclear program illustrates how diplomacy can work even with the most unsavory of regimes. Unfortunately, it took the Bush administration more than six years to commit to diplomacy. During that needless delay North Korea developed and tested nuclear weapons -- weapons its leaders still have not agreed to dismantle. Had we engaged the North Koreans earlier, instead of calling them "evil" and talking about "regime change," we might have prevented them from going nuclear. We could have, and should have, negotiated a better agreement, and sooner.

Of course, this is rather a different tune than Richardson sang on his visit with the North Koreans in 2003:

North Korea has no intentions of building nuclear weapons, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Saturday as he concluded three days of talks with two envoys from the communist nation.

"We discussed issues very frankly, but in a positive atmosphere," Richardson said.

North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Han Song Ryol, said during the talks that "North Korea has no intentions of building nuclear weapons," Richardson said.

Well, so much for that. But has he learned anything from the experience? The agreement with North Korea is an improvement over the 1994 Clinton Administration agreement because it involves North Korea's patron and powerful next-door neighbor, China. That's worth something in terms of the costs to the North Koreans of violating the agreement, or at least the costs of being publicly caught again violating the agreement. But other than that, the deal is essentially the same leap of faith, with little in the way of verifiable benchmarks North Korea can be held to. As even Gov. Richardson now concedes, the agreement doesn't even require North Korea to dismantle its weapons, plus it rewards the North Korean strategy of nuclear blackmail.

The virtue of the North Korean agreement, if there is one, is in getting a temporary delay in the day of reckoning with the North Korean threat so that more of our military and diplomatic resources can be focused on the primary theater of the current struggle against international terrorism: the tyrannies and struggling democracies of the Muslim and Arab worlds, in particular the Middle East and Central Asia. While North Korea is a serious threat in itself and - to the extent it proliferates its weapons and technology - also a part of that broader struggle, a temporary mollification of the North Korean regime, even at the price of more suffering and starvation for its downtrodden people, can help our strategic position in dealing with the major front.

But Richardson instead wants to see the Band-Aid that's been stretched over this side injury applied to the major wound. He throws around appeals to sensible propositions like "speaking credibly from a position of strength" and having "a record of meaning what you say." And, to his credit, he eschews the bizarre insistence of some Democrats that the U.S. should insist on unilateral negotiations, and recognizes that Russia would need to play the role with Iran that China does with North Korea (left unsaid is the fact that Russia appears to have no interest in taking the U.S. side in this fight). But his ultimate message is an exclusive focus on a negotiated resolution that appears to ignore the multifaceted nature of the Iranian menace:

A better approach would be for the United States to engage directly with the Iranians and to lead a global diplomatic offensive to prevent them from building nuclear weapons. We need tough, direct negotiations, not just with Iran but also with our allies, especially Russia, to get them to support us in presenting Iran with credible carrots and sticks.

No nation has ever been forced to renounce nuclear weapons, but many have chosen to do so. The Iranians will not end their nuclear program because we threaten them and call them names. They will renounce nukes because we convince them that they will be safer and more prosperous if they do that than if they don't.

Now, lining up a diplomatic coalition to pressure Iran on its nuclear program is all well and good - that's largely the path the Bush Administration has signalled in recent years - but at the end of the day, an agreement with the Iranians is no more likely to hold up than the current or past agreements with North Korea. The problem with Iran - as it was with Saddam Hussein's Iraq - is inherent in the nature of the regime, and by no means limited to the nature of the regime's armaments. Validating and rewarding that regime in exchange for nuclear concessions of dubious enforceability will only weaken our position in dealing with Iran's support of terror groups in Iraq and Lebanon. Unfortunately, Richardson - whether out of naivete or an effort to appeal to the ostrich faction in the Democratic primaries - is all too willing to get fooled again.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:28 AM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-12 | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
February 27, 2007
WAR: Carl Levin Rattles His Saber

Carl Levin is my least favorite US Senator; other Senators, like John Kerry and Chris Dodd, may have equally bad records of working at all times against the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States and taking the side of our enemies in every argument, but nobody else works as hard at it as Levin. If the New York Times was a Senator, it would be Carl Levin.

So I'm still reeling at the news that at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today, Sen. Levin called for more aggressive action against Iran and Syria's meddling in Iraq, including openly advocating military action against Syria:

It's more than just - we're trying to close down the Iranian border area too. The problem is that these weapons are coming from a state which is - doesn't recognize Israel either, just like Iran doesn't. We've got to try to stop weapons coming into Iraq from any source that are killing our troops. I agree with the comments about trying to stop them coming in from Iran, I think we have to try stop them that are going to the Sunni insurgents as well as to the Shia. I was just wondering, does the military have a plan to, if necessary, to go into Syria to go to the source of any weapons coming from Syria? That are going to Sunni insurgents? That are killing our troops? ... I think we ought to take action on all fronts including Syria and any other source of weapons coming in, obviously Iran is the focus - but it shouldn't be the sole focus.

Levin also conceded that U.S. troops are needed in Iraq for "a counter-terrorism purpose" against Al Qaeda. Amazing.

The video of Levin's comments on Syria is here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:23 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Veterans Pick Nobody

Ron Santo and umpire Doug Harvey led the balloting. I generally think Santo is a solid candidate, and Harvey was so respected by the players he was nicknamed "the Lord".

The new Veterans Commitee seems designed not to work, which isn't the worst result but it would be nice to see guys like Santo, Minnie Minoso and Dick Allen get a fair shake. The balloting:

Results of the 2007 Player Ballot (62 needed for election): Santo (57 votes, 69.5%), Jim Kaat (52, 63.4%), Gil Hodges (50, 61%), Tony Oliva (47, 57.3%), Maury Wills (33, 40.2%), Joe Torre (26, 31.7%), Don Newcombe (17, 20.7%), Vada Pinson (16, 19.5%), Roger Maris (15, 18.3%), Lefty O'Doul (15, 18.3%), Luis Tiant (15, 18.3%), Curt Flood (14, 17.1%), Al Oliver (14, 17.1%), Mickey Vernon (14, 17.1%), Minnie Minoso (12, 14.6%), Cecil Travis (12, 14.6%), Dick Allen (11, 13.4%), Marty Marion (11, 13.4%), Joe Gordon (10, 12.2%), Ken Boyer (9, 11%), Mickey Lolich (8, 9.8%), Wes Ferrell (7, 8.5%), Sparky Lyle (6, 7.3%), Carl Mays (6, 7.3%), Thurman Munson (6, 7.3%), Rocky Colavito (5, 6.1%) and Bobby Bonds (1, 1.2%).

Results of the 2007 Composite Ballot (61 needed for election): Harvey (52 votes, 64.2%), Marvin Miller (51, 63%), Walter O'Malley (36, 44.4%), Buzzie Bavasi (30, 37%), Dick Williams (30, 37%), Whitey Herzog (29, 35.8%), Bill White (24, 29.6%), Bowie Kuhn (14, 17.3%), August Busch Jr. (13, 16%), Billy Martin (12, 14.8%), Charley O. Finley (10, 12.3%), Gabe Paul (10, 12.3%), Paul Richards (10, 12.3%), Phil Wrigley (9, 11.1%) and Harry Dalton (8, 9.9%).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:00 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
February 26, 2007
LAW: Res Ipsa Locomotor

I'm sorry, but at 100mph the cops shouldn't care what is or is not a well-established Fourth Amendment rule, they should only care about public safety. What seems to get lost here is the fact that Officer Scott's actions - ramming a car moving that fast - were exceptionally dangerous to himself, for the benefit of the public. What kind of sick society rewards that with a civil lawsuit?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:53 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Quacks Like The Fonz

Edgardo Alfonzo is headed to the Long Island Ducks:

Add former Mets All-Star Edgardo Alfonzo to the flock of Ducks who see the Long Island team in the independent Atlantic League as a stepping stone back to the majors.

The popular infielder known as "Fonzie" yesterday was acquired by the Ducks in a trade with the Bridgeport Bluefish for first baseman Bucky Jacobsen and starting pitcher Pat Mahomes.

Alfonzo hopes to take the road successfully traveled by former Ducks Carlos Baerga and Bill Pulshiper and avoid the path taken by recent Ducks John Rocker and Juan Gonzalez, who failed in their comeback attempts.

The article notes that the Ducks are managed by former Cardinals and Yankees pitcher Dave LaPoint, who hopes to try Alfonzo out at second, short and third. Me, I'd guess that the Bluefish got the better of the deal, given that Jacobsen is probably well-suited to Independent League play.

In other news, Bobby Abreu is suffering the ouchies of spring.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:41 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
SCIENCE: Really Big Squid

Giant squid are cool. Accordingly, I give you: news about a "colossal" squid.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:36 PM | Science | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: Lowered Expectations

The Yale Daily News reports that some "advocates" want Yale to aspire to fill its incoming classes with people who couldn't get into state colleges (H/T):

States that have enacted constitutional amendments banning the use of racial preferences in public college admissions have seen acceptance rates for minority applicants go down. As more states consider such measures, civil rights advocates said, private colleges may inherit those students who can no longer get into public schools, or who no longer want to attend public schools with increasingly homogenous student bodies.

In a small sign of sanity - or, more likely, of the tribute vice pays to virtue - Yale officials aren't buying this logic:

But Yale Dean of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said the ripples might not make it to New Haven. Since Yale typically competes for applicants with only a small number of universities, almost all of which are private, the University’s applicants and admissions officers are insulated from the shock that the recent bans have had in California and Michigan.

"With respect to achieving diversity at the most competitive schools, I think the key is always to evaluate students as individuals, in light of whatever opportunities and challenges they have been presented," he said. "Race and socioeconomic class are relevant aspects of an applicant's context, and to the extent we do a good job overall of weighing context, we will sustain a diverse undergraduate body with exceptional talent and promise."

Good for Yale. Granted, these are elite state colleges we are talking about, and granted, the Yale admissions office, like many in academia, is undoubtedly doing its bean-counting on a retail basis these days and learning to keep quiet about it. But even the necessity of driving race-consciousness and what is increasingly its open embrace of mediocrity underground is a victory of sorts.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:26 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Age and EWSL, 2004-06

This is Part III of my look back at at how Established Win Shares Levels fared in 2006. It's time to look at the age adjustments. (I've looked at these previously here, here and here).

The great thing about doing something like EWSL as an ongoing project is that the data becomes progressively more stable over time: I now have three years of results to work from in evaluating how players tend to perform at each age relative to their adjusted Established Win Shares Levels, and thus can have progressively more confidence in the age adjustments I use going forward. For example, the more years of data I have, the less influenced it will be by a single generation of exceptional players born in a particular year.

Let's start with the 3-year results for the non-pitchers:

Non-Pitchers 2004-06:

Age#WSEWSL%
21-433340.878
2215262116.2002.255
2324355247.3331.435
2443490387.5361.264
2564708564.9001.253
26931065934.7701.139
27891028963.9631.066
2811414161349.9021.049
2910312211340.3700.911
3011213291444.8360.920
31848581014.0360.846
32899021067.2330.845
3369708818.1030.865
3467709773.0030.917
3560411593.1700.693
3641379505.3330.750
3730239390.4960.612
3822201273.8300.734
3916175222.5000.787
40+16120222.8300.539

As you can see, the rapid rise of young players and their gradual fall from age 29 on is a powerful pattern, and one that grows smoother with each year's additional data. 2006 was a good year for 27-year-olds and a bad year for 28-year-olds, so some equilibrium has been restored in that regard from the prior age adjustments showing 27-year-olds flatlining but then hopping up one last time at 28. After age 32, the number of players holding jobs really starts to drop off.

The train wreck at age 35 only grew more pronounced this season. On the other hand, additional data helped bouy up the 40+ year olds, whose numbers got devastated by Barry Bonds' 2005. Here's this year's data on its own:

Non-Pitchers (2006):

Age#WSEWSL%
21-000
2245826.202.214
2311198134.901.468
2415155125.971.230
2518160127.101.259
2630401358.671.118
2721282219.131.287
2828289318.670.907
2929364396.570.918
3045550636.470.864
3125270266.671.013
3232348439.400.792
3316140163.670.855
3426323357.170.904
3519133209.170.636
3615102152.000.671
3763689.330.403
38869110.830.623
3964865.500.733
40+76084.830.707

As I've explained before, the nature of any established performance level will exaggerate the upward and downward trajectory of player aging, since a 25-year-old is still being partly compared to his 22-year-old self, while a 35-year-old is still being partly compared to his 32-year-old self.

Now, the pitchers:

Pitchers (2004-06):

Age#WSEWSL%
21-74230.0001.400
2217128105.0001.219
2323177172.2301.028
2440266256.8701.036
2557442376.8001.173
2676474463.8001.022
2787592617.5600.959
2892617596.8001.034
2979499576.5360.866
3069423498.4000.849
3163416507.1700.820
3255292425.6300.686
3349275383.3000.717
3439205272.9660.751
3529118194.3360.607
3623123147.6700.833
3720147153.6630.957
3822161204.9960.785
3919141162.3330.869
40+26232269.3360.950

2006 was a tough year for the established pitchers, at least the under-30 set. The one-year sample sizes get really small - for example, Jon Lieber was the 36-year-old starting pitcher, Steve Trachsel and Paul Byrd the only 35-year-old starters. In general, the rule still holds that the pitchers as a group start to fall off earlier than the hitters. The 2006 data:

Pitchers (2006):

Age#WSEWSL%
21-219131.462
2263641.600.865
2363633.301.081
241596107.770.891
2523169158.171.068
26179893.301.050
2729230228.901.005
2833202218.400.925
2925149174.770.853
3026144188.270.765
3120155174.170.890
32124971.830.682
331895143.500.662
341492115.800.794
3584050.670.789
3694654.670.841
3732420.831.152
3853541.830.837
3966155.501.099
40+1386115.670.744

Overall, as consistent with past data, the age/EWSL numbers are a powerful reminder of the tides of age pulling players down from 29 onward. Which is not surprising: in baseball, as in life, everyone comes up from nothing and goes back to nothing in the end.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:30 AM | Baseball 2007 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
February 25, 2007
BASEBALL: Waiting for Josh

Josh Johnson may not be ready for Opening Day. Johnson is crucial to the Marlins' 2007 as well as their longer-term future, so it's unsurprising that they're being conservative with him.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:55 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
February 23, 2007
BASEBALL: EWSL Rookie Adjustments

In Part II of my look back at how Established Win Shares Levels fared in 2006, I'm taking a look at the rookies. Rookies - players with no significant major league track record - present a unique challenge for what is intended as a system for objectively evaluating players' major league track records. As I've noted before, EWSL uses a standard arbitrary figure for all rookies - it does not distinguish between, say, Ryan Zimmerman and Reggie Abercrombie if both are expected to hold everyday jobs. I'd like to add a non-subjective adjustment for rookie quality, but until I can get Major League Equivalency Win Shares (I don't believe they exist anywhere), I have to rely on the facts that (1) bad rookies rarely get everyday jobs and (2) good rookies often fall on their faces.

Of course, the one subjective element of this is my evaluation each spring of who looks like they have a job nailed down. One reason there were more rookies listed in 2006 was because I ran the EWSL rosters later in the year, mainly during April.

Anyway, part of the quest to make EWSL more empirical and less guesswork is that the adjustments - both the age adjustment and the rookie adjustment - get tweaked every year based on the accumulated data I have from, now, three years' worth of results. Let's look at those results:

Type of Player2004 #2004 WS2005 #2005 WS2006 #2006 WS#WSRate
Everyday Players67410101171873336210.97
Bench Players (Under Age 30)4261038112925933.72
Bench Players (Age 30+)220000221
Rotation Starters313133289424.67
Relief Pitchers4211164311655.91
TOTAL191242415337287805647.05

After 2004, I had split off the rookie bench players by age because guys who break in as bench players in their 30s generally lack upside (the same isn't true of starters, since rookie everyday players age 30 and up tend to be Japanese imports). You can see a steady uptick the last three years in the number of rookies being given jobs early in the season, although bearing in mind that part of that is changes in my own estimation of who would play. Still, there's no disputing that last year had a real good crop of rookies from Day One. You can also see the miserable return from rookie starting pitchers - the good ones, like Jered Weaver and Dontrelle Willis, tend to come up a few months into the season, while with the exception of the occasional Verlander, guys who win rotation jobs early are often there more because of team need than because they are definitely ready.

I'll be using these figures, rounded off (most are pretty close to whole numbers anyway) for this year's adjustments - 11 for everyday players, 4 and 1 for bench players under and over 30, 5 for starting pitchers, 6 for relievers.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:01 PM | Baseball 2007 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASKETBALL: RIP Dennis Johnson

Dead at 52. There are great players and there are good players, and then there are good players who are always in the right place at the right time. That was Dennis Johnson. RIP.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:24 AM | Basketball | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
February 22, 2007
POLITICS: Barack Obama's Symbolic Appeals to Cannibals

To the average American, it may have seemed that Senator Obama intended to invoke Abraham Lincoln by announcing his presidential candidacy in Springfield, Illinois. But Springfield has another history - which raises certain suspicions about that announcement speech. You see, Springfield was the origin of the infamous Donner Party, whose trip to the West ended in cannibalism. And that's not all:

Also ill-fated were the 850 Pottawatomis who trudged through Springfield in 1838, past the Old State Capitol, then being built. Under armed military guard, the Native Americans were on a forced march, later known as the Trail of Death, from Indiana and Michigan to Kansas. It was part of the U.S. government's effort to resettle all tribes west of the Mississippi.

The 660-mile journey, also commemorated in a plaque on the kiosk, took 10 weeks, and the death toll is estimated to have been at least 40.

Was Senator Obama secretly using coded appeals to cannibals, and conjuring up the wistful nostalgia of some Americans for the days of forced resettlement of Native Americans?

Ridiculous, you scoff. But how well, really, do you know liberal Democrats' secret desires? Probably as well as The New Republic's Rick Perlstein knows those of conservative Republicans. As Perlstein writes of Mitt Romney's decision to announce his candidacy in Dearborn, Michigan in front of the Henry Ford Museum:

As the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) immediately observed, its location, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, is a "testament to the life of ... a notorious anti-Semite and xenophobe." Some observers wondered if perhaps this wasn't intentional: If you want to prove to conservatives you're no liberal, what better way than to announce on the former estate of a man who, as the NJDC also pointed out, was "bestowed with the Grand Service Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle by Adolf Hitler"?

Well, that makes precisely as much sense as seeing Obama's choice of location for his announcement as a coded appeal to those voters with a taste for man-flesh.

Or maybe Perlstein's just responding to dog whistles.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:35 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/WAR: John Edwards, Iran, Israel and Memory Lane

Well, John Edwards, finding himself in plenty of hot water, is now denying a report by Variety magazine of a remark by Edwards that didn't go over so well even before a Hollywood audience:

John Edwards was cruising along, detailing his litany of liberal causes last week until, during question time, he invoked the "I" word - Israel. Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace, Edwards remarked, was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.

(H/T Steven Foley). As well Edwards should distance himself from that remark - not just because it's foolish but also because it would be quite a surprise to a certain then-U.S. Senator running for Vice President in 2004. Then, you will recall, Democrats wanted Iran to be dangerous so they could argue that the Iraq War was a distraction from the real security threat; in the service of that election-year talking point, Senator Edwards told the nation as follows in a nationally televised debate with Vice President Cheney:

The vice president just said that we should focus on state sponsors of terrorism. Iran has moved forward with its nuclear weapons program. They're more dangerous today than they were four years ago.


+++

The reality about Iran is that Iran has moved forward with their nuclear weapons program on their watch.


And in response to a question about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

First, the Israeli people not only have the right to defend themselves, they should defend themselves. They have an obligation to defend themselves.

I mean, if I can, just for a moment, tell you a personal story. I was in Jerusalem a couple of years ago, actually three years ago, in August of 2001, staying at the King David Hotel.

We left in the morning, headed to the airport to leave, and later in the day I found out that that same day, not far from where we were staying, the Sbarro Pizzeria was hit by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed. Six children were killed.

What are the Israeli people supposed to do? How can they continue to watch Israeli children killed by suicide bombers, killed by terrorists?

They have not only the right to the obligation to defend themselves.

Now, we know that the prime minister has made a decision, a historic decision, to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. It's important for America to participate in helping with that process.

Now, if Gaza's being used as a platform for attacking the Israeli people, that has to be stopped. And Israel has a right to defend itself. They don't have a partner for peace right now. They certainly don't have a partner in Arafat, and they need a legitimate partner for peace.

And I might add, it is very important for America to crack down on the Saudis who have not had a public prosecution for financing terrorism since 9/11.

And it's important for America to confront the situation in Iran, because Iran is an enormous threat to Israel and to the Israeli people.

Of course, then, Senator Edwards was a member of, and at least theoretically entitled to attend sessions of, the Senate Intelligence Committee, whereas now, he presumably has access to a really big television. So maybe he's better informed now. Or not; you see, Edwards also spoke at the AIPAC Policy Conference in May 2006:

During this difficult time, all Israelis should know that America stands with them, remaining committed to their security and their efforts to build a better and more peaceful future, and as we all wish the Prime Minister [Ariel Sharon] our love and affection for he and for his family, our thoughts and prayers are with him every day. More than anyone else, Prime Minister Sharon understood that a strong Israel is a safe Israel, and we need to remember, all of us need to remember the example that he set, especially as we consider the extraordinary security threats that Israel faces today.

Let's start with Iran's nuclear ambitions, which I believe is the single greatest security threat, not only to Israel, but to the United States. In fact today is a pivotal day with the IAEA meeting to send the matter to the U.N. Security Council to take action. It's about time, is what I have to say about that. For years I have argued that the United States has not been doing enough to deal with the growing threat in Iran. While we've talked about the dangers of nuclear terrorism, we've largely stood on the sidelines and the problems got worse.

I believe that for far too long we've abdicated our responsibility to deal with the Iranian threat to the Europeans. That is not the way to deal with an unacceptable threat to America, and an unacceptable threat to Israel. Iran's recent actions beginning with the reprocessing of uranium, refusing to cooperate with international inspections, makes clear that it intends to build nuclear weapons.

And the Iranian President's statements such as the despicable description of the Holocaust as a myth or his ugly pledge to wipe Israel off the map, you know, when he says these kind of things, I take him at his word. And we need to treat it as a very serious statement.

You can read more ducking and weaving by Edwards in this interview with Ezra Klein following the AIPAC speech.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:27 AM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-12 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
February 20, 2007
HISTORY: The Museum of The What?

You know, I hold no brief for the Confederacy, but haven't we slipped through the looking-glass when the "Museum of the Confederacy," which is a museum memorializing, well, the Confederacy, wants to drop the Confederacy from its name?

A museum, of all institutions, ought not to remove its own identity from its name.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:12 PM | History | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: The ADA in Action

Oh, it must be a proud day for the framers of the Americans with Disabilities Act:

A man who was fired by IBM for visiting an adult chat room at work is suing the company for $5 million, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal.

James Pacenza, 58, of Montgomery says he visits chat rooms to treat traumatic stress incurred in 1969 when he saw his best friend killed during an Army patrol in Vietnam.

In papers filed in federal court in White Plains, Pacenza said the stress caused him to become "a sex addict, and with the development of the Internet, an Internet addict." He claimed protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Of course, he casually defames Vietnam vets in the process, with his claim that combat stress forced him into frequenting sex chat rooms at work.

UPDATE: Overlawyered has more on the case.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:13 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Hope Springs Eternal

Even for Kaz Matsui and Rey Ordonez.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:49 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/LAW: Rashofitz

If you have not already, you should read Tom Maguire's roundup of the trial testimony in the Libby case. What remains bizarre about the case is not that perjury charges were brought where there was no underlying crime - that does happen - but that perjury charges were brought where the prosecutor was investigating a whodunit and already knew when he started the investigation who done it.

Did Libby lie? I have to say, Maguire's portrait of the testimony certainly suggests that Libby's account was probably untrue, and difficult to square with the testimony - but also that (1) it would be very hard to have enough confidence in that conclusion to convict him, especially given how much trouble the prosecution witnesses had keeping their own stories consistent over time and (2) Tim Russert probably did not tell the truth either.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:43 PM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2007 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
RELIGION: Just a Test
You know the Bible 100%!
 

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Hat tip to Josh Trevino.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:05 PM | Religion | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: 2006 EWSL Wrapup By Team

As I did last year, before diving into my preseason Established Win Shares Levels roster analyses, I'm going to take a quick look back at last season's. First up is the team-by-team results. For those of you who need a primer on EWSL and my annual roster roundups, go here. A few basic reminders:

*I look at 23 players (13 non-pitchers, 10 pitchers) per team, so an average team should exceed its EWSL due to the fact that most teams these days use between 30-45 players in a season.

*EWSL is an estimate of the established major league talent on a team (adjusted for age) going into a season. It's not a system for predicting the future, although it can be a helpful part of the toolkit (or at least a sanity check) in making predictions of the future.

*EWSL uses a standard figure for rookies (12 WS for rookie everyday players, 6 for rookie bench players, 4 for rookie pitchers (starting or relief)). It does not distinguish between, say, Ryan Zimmerman and Reggie Abercrombie if both are expected to hold everyday jobs. Thus, a team with a lot of high-quality rookies will exceed its EWSL. I'd like to add a non-subjective adjustment for rookie quality, but until I can get Major League Equivalency Win Shares (I don't believe they exist anywhere), I have to rely on the facts that (1) bad rookies rarely get everyday jobs and (2) good rookies often fall on their faces.

That said, basically, my analysis assumes that there are three components to team success: how much established talent is on the preseason roster, how well they perform, and how much production the team gets from guys who supplement those top 23 players with trades, rookies or scrubs. The following table shows the following columns: (1) each team's 2006 EWSL; (2) the actual Win Shares for those 23 players (includes Win Shares earned for other teams, e.g., Bobby Abreu counts with the Phillies); (3) the ratio of column (2) divided by column (1) to show how the 23 players fared relative to EWSL; (4) the team's total actual 2006 Win Shares (i.e., Wins x 3); (5) the team's Win Shares minus those from the top 23 players (in the example above this will include the negative value of, say, Abreu's Yankees Win Shares from the Phillies' "Rest" column); and (6) the ratio of column (4) divided by column (1) to show how the team as a whole fared relative to EWSL. Teams are ranked by that last column:

TeamEWSL23-Man WS23-Man WS/EWSLTotal WSRestTotal WS/EWSL
Tigers194.702491.279285361.464
Rockies160.961881.168228401.417
Padres188.402091.109264551.401
Marlins167.711921.145234421.395
Reds182.162091.147240311.318
Twins224.492421.078288461.283
Dodgers208.021880.904264761.269
Astros196.822031.031246431.250
Giants184.241981.075228301.238
Mets235.182371.008291541.237
Mariners192.022161.125234181.219
D-backs193.861941.001228341.176
Blue Jays224.762411.072261201.161
Phillies223.252311.035255241.142
Royals163.201350.827186511.140
White Sox238.092521.058270181.134
Brewers199.471920.963225331.128
Angels236.792040.862267631.128
Indians212.022070.976234271.104
Pirates184.211620.879201391.091
Nationals196.881620.823213511.082
Rangers228.062140.938240261.052
Cardinals237.002100.886249391.051
A's267.342450.916279341.044
Yankees280.182380.849291531.039
Devil Rays181.791420.781183411.007
Orioles211.611790.846210310.992
Braves241.691930.799237440.981
Red Sox269.772460.912258140.956
Cubs236.801660.701198320.836

It should come as no surprise that the Tigers, 2006's big story, rate at the top of teams that exceeded expectations, and that the Cubs land at the bottom of the pile. As you can see, the top teams are something of a mix of teams that had great seasons and teams that had very low expectations - I was a little surprised to see the Reds and Rockies listed, for example. The Mets, on the other hand, did pretty much as expected with their roster but did better than average with guys they added on (although I should note that players overall rated at 0.968 of their EWSL, which will factor in as I re-adjust this year's age and rookie adjustments). The Dodgers rate the highest in that regard, with rookies like Andre Eithier helping out, while the Red Sox, White Sox and Mariners got the least help for their original roster. For the most part, teams that were near the top of this list last year tended to be nearer the bottom and vice versa, but the Cubs were down with the dregs for the second year in a row.

Here are the players among those on the preseason 23-man lineups of each team who were the biggest over and underacvhievers (I'm mixing those who were the biggest ups or downs by percentage or raw total):

TeamBestWorst
TigersJustin Verlander, Curtis Granderson, Carlos GuillenChris Shelton, Dmitri Young
RockiesBrad Hawpe, Garret AtkinsCory Sullivan, Luis A Gonzalez
PadresAdrian Gonzalez, Mike CameronRyan Klesko, Shawn Estes
MarlinsAlfredo Amezaga, Hanley Ramirez, Dan UgglaReggie Abercrombie, Chris Aguila
RedsBrandon Phillips, Aaron Harang, Bronson ArroyoJason LaRue, Chris Hammond
TwinsFrancisco Liriano, Mike Cuddyer, Justin MorneauCarlos Silva, Rondell White, Lew Ford
DodgersTakashi Saito, Derek LoweBill Mueller, James Loney
AstrosTrever Miller, Lance BerkmanEric Munson, Brad Lidge
GiantsKevin Corriea, Barry BondsMike Matheny, Jason Ellison
MetsJorge Julio, Jose Reyes, Carlos BeltranAnderson Hernandez, Victor Diaz, Victor Zambrano
MarinersJJ Putz, Joe Borchard, Raul IbanezMatt Lawton, Jeremy Reed, Joel Pineiro
D-BacksBrandon Lyon, Juan Cruz, Brandon WebbTony Clark, Jose Valverde
Blue JaysBJ Ryan, Alex RiosGustavo Chacin, Josh Towers
PhilliesShane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Chase UtleyAaron Rowand, Alex Gonzalez
RoyalsEmil Brown, Mark TeahenAngel Berroa, Zack Grienke
White SoxMatt Thornton, Jim Thome, Jermaine DyeMark Buehrle, Neal Cotts
BrewersGabe Gross, Chris CapuanoJJ Hardy, Derrick Turnbow
AngelsRobb Quinlan, Ervin Santana, Juan RiveraJeff Mathis, Bartolo Colon, Darrin Erstad
IndiansBob Wickman, Travis HafnerJason Johnson
PiratesIan Snell, Jason Grabow, Freddy SanchezJoe Randa, Oliver Perez
NationalsMike Stanton, Ryan Zimmerman, Nick JohnsonJose Guillen, Cristian Guzman, Brandon Watson
RangersMark DeRosa, Gary MatthewsLaynce Nix, Brad Wilkerson
CardinalsScott Speizio, Chris CarpenterMark Mulder, Jim Edmonds
A'sFrank Thomas, Kiko CaleroHuston Street, Antonio Perez, Rich Harden
YankeesChien-Ming Wang, Derek JeterHideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield, Carl Pavano
Devil RaysShawn Camp, Mark HendricksonJorge Cantu, Jonny Gomes
OriolesChris Ray, Ramon HernandezLuis Matos, Brian Roberts
BravesOscar Villereal, Brian McCannKelly Johnson, Jeff Francouer
Red SoxKevin Youkilis, Jon PapelbonJT Snow, Jason Varitek, Coco Crisp
CubsMatt Murton, Bobby HowryDerrek Lee, Mark Prior, Jerry Hairston

Bear in mind again that these are full-season numbers - Jorge Julio, for example, did his good work in Arizona. Derrek Lee had the worst falloff of any marjor league player, from an EWSL of 27 to 4 Win Shares. It doesn't show here but the Rangers also took big hits from Teixera and Blalock.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:59 AM | Baseball 2007 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
February 18, 2007
POP CULTURE: Spears' Razor

Isn't the simplest explanation for Britney Spears shaving her head that she had some hygiene-related need to do so (the word "lice" comes to mind)? I mean, we're talking about a woman who rarely appears to have washed her face or hair.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:55 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: New Day, Same Spin

Today's NY Times:

Senate Rejects Renewed Effort to Debate Iraq

The Senate on Saturday narrowly rejected an effort to force debate on a resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq, but Republican defections emboldened Democrats to promise new attempts to influence the administration’s war policy.

The 56-to-34 vote in a rare Saturday session was the second time Republicans were able to deny opponents of the troop increase a debate on a resolution challenging Mr. Bush, and it came just a day after the House formally opposed his plan to increase the military presence in Iraq.

But the outcome, four votes short of the 60 needed to break a procedural stalemate, suggested that Democrats were slowly drawing support from Senate Republicans for what was shaping up to be a drawn-out fight between the Democrat-controlled Congress and Mr. Bush over his execution of the war.

Of course, this is Times-speak for the fact that Senate Democrats were unable to break a filibuster and force cloture and thus get a floor vote on their resolution. As you will recall, when Democrats use the filibuster to prevent Republicans from getting cloture, it's called extending debate. After all, the vote doesn't stop anybody from debating, it just prevents a vote.

I can't say I'm surprised that the Democrats use different terms to describe the same procedure depending on who is doing the filibustering. But would it be so difficult for the Times to at least pretend to even-handedness on this sort of procedural point?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:01 AM | War 2007-12 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
February 16, 2007
BASEBALL: No Stick

As if the Nationals don't have enough problems, and as if Nick Johnson hasn't had enogh injuries, it looks like the broken leg he suffered at the end of last season isn't healing well: Johnson says he doesn't know when he will be healthy enough to play and thinks it might be June at the earliest.

Washington has to be the odds-on early favorite for the worst record in baseball in 2007.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:31 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: No Duca

Paul Lo Duca wants a contract extension; his deal is up at the end of this season. If the Mets are wise, they will proceed very cautiously on this one. Lo Duca is 35, and highly unlikely to repeat last season, when he batted .318; if he hits below .300, his offensive value is minimal, and he doesn't throw well. Catchers past age 35 have a gruesome record, and while Lo Duca was 29 when he made the majors and thus doesn't have as heavy mileage on his legs as some guys (I'm not sure how many games he caught in the minors) you have to figure he's a bad bet long term.

That said, catchers are in short supply, and as Casey said, you gotta have a catcher or you're gonna have a lot of passed balls. I don't believe that the Mets have anybody in their system who is ready to go, even to share time with Ramon Castro. It's certainly worth considering an extension, but the Mets should not operate on the assumption that Lo Duca is a valuable commodity.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:03 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
February 15, 2007
POP CULTURE: MTV Generation Gap

MTV is facing a wave of layoffs amid plunging ratings, placing even the future of the once-iconic "Total Request Live" in doubt.

If this keeps up, the network may have to fill time by showing music videos.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Bleat Bleat

Lileks has a variety of amusing things in today's Bleat. I liked this:

The second complaint was Outraged that I advocated animal torture in the piece about the Minnesota Youth Symphony. I likened the sound of bad orchestras to a sound a cat might make if sawed in half. Because as you know we have a big problem with ca[t]-sawing, and it’s just not a joking matter.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:00 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: The Ultimate Beer Glass

Two-sport star Samuel Adams (hey, the slogan says "Brewer-Patriot") has unveiled the "ultimate beer glass." It's . . . shapely. Funny, I always thought the ultimate beer glass was defined as "a full one."

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:56 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Real Leaker

It's always nice to be vindicated. When grand jury testimony was leaked from the BALCO investigation, pointing to Barry Bonds and others using steroids or other performance enhancing drugs, lots of people (most vociferously, Bonds' defenders) assumed that it must be, had to be, the prosecutors doing the leaking. I never did a post here on the topic, but I did respond in comment threads when I saw this point made, arguing that it was at least as likely that the leaks were coming from defense lawyers rather than prosecutors. For example, in December 2004, Will Carroll wrote:

This "trial by leak" is something I'm very much against. In this case, the government has leaked its first significant broadside into what has been a very united front by Conte, Anderson, and others.

My response in the comments:

One thing I'd caution is that not all leaks come from the law enforcement side. It's illegal for prosecutors, FBI agents, etc. to leak grand jury testimony, which is secret (which is not the same as saying it doesn't happen), but not illegal for the witness or his lawyer (or someone to whom they gave the information) to disclose testimony. That seems wildly unlikely in Giambi's case, but there are often situations where a witness or codefendant has an interest in a leak, or where a defendant who is a political or other public figure prefers to leak things in drips at opportune times and spin them (while the prosecutor can't respond without disclosing other secrets) rather than face a sudden 'blockbuster' disclosure of the charge and the evidence all together.

My sense, though, is that many leaks in high-profile cases come from people lower down in the pecking order (court clerks, secretaries, word processors, etc.) who have less of an agenda and more personal or financial interest in handing sensitive information to reporters. Nothing happens in the law without a whole lot of people seeing it, and you can't watch all of them all the time.

I was too glib there about the law, by the way - a grand jury witness can only legally disclose the substance of his or her testimony, but can't, say, leak whole transcripts, at least not if they got them from the government. Obviously, my mind was heavily on Ken Starr's Lewinsky investigation of Bill Clinton - the leaks in that case almost invariably benefitted Clinton, allowing him to ride out each individual bit of the storm, where if the Starr Report had arrived out of the blue, it would have finished Clinton in one blow.

None of which is to say that prosecutors can't or don't misbehave with leaks - but it's always important to remember that there are just as often incentives to leak on the defense side as well.

In January 2005, CrimProfBlog argued that it had to be the prosecutors or the defense lawyers, and that it was unlikely to be the defense:

The defense attorneys and the defendants might have had an incentive to leak, since Bonds denied knowledge that the substances were steriods and said that he didn't think the BALCO defendant from whom he received the substances would have provided him with illegal steriods. It seems perhaps unlikely that one of the defense attorneys leaked the information, however, because leaking secret grand jury evidence to the media, and then moving to dismiss charges by blaming the government for the same leak, is a high risk venture that would take serious moxy if not insanity. Too much to lose, not enough to gain.

David Pinto linked to that analysis, to which I commented:

Well, except that taking risks and hoping they get away with being outrageous aren't exactly novel tactics for criminal defense attorneys.

While David kept his opinions to himself, others were not so shy - TalkLeft's Jeralyn Merritt, for example, asserted, "I rule out the defense."

Now, the truth is out: the leaks came from a defense lawyer for Victor Conte, who - get this - was devising a deliberate fraud on the court by leaking and then moving for dismissal of the charges on grounds of improper leaks, which his motion (including his own sworn false denial of being the source of the leaks) blamed on the government.

Hey, we can all be wrong, but I think this post is a good example of the crow that should be eaten by some of the more vociferous proponents of the "it has to be the government" theory.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:00 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Progress At Last

Good news for those of you who have been waiting for more baseball content on the site: I've finally at long last finished entering all the 2006 Win Shares in my spreadsheets, so I'll be starting soon to roll out my analyses and conclusions from those numbers.

And I suffer for my art: to avoid disrupting the rolling spreadsheets, which are on Microsoft Works, I've put off buying a new PC until this year's Established Win Shares Levels analyses are completed; I've been worried that there may be difficulties in transferring the data to Excel, and I assume that any new PC I buy will have Excel rather than the archaic Works (I got my current PC in October 2000, and it runs on - hold on and cringe here - Microsoft Windows ME).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:30 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
February 14, 2007
POLITICS: Federalizing The Local Diner: The Curious Case For A National Minimum Wage

One of the major agenda items for the new Democratic majority on Capitol Hill has been a hike in the federal minimum wage from $5.15/hour to $7.25/hour. Much to their embarrassment, Democrats found that they could not push legislation through the Senate controlled by the Democrat-Socialist majority without agreeing to a tax cut package to relieve some of the burden they are placing on small business. On Monday, House Democrats caved and approved the tax cuts, paving the way for the bill to become law.

The minimum wage, like all attempts at a command economy, is based upon the idea that there is an ideal "fair wage" or "living wage" that can be set by the government, not the market. Longtime observers are wearyingly familiar with the arguments on this point: liberals argue that it's unfair to allow people to work for peanuts, conservatives respond that people are free to work for what they will choose. Liberals argue that you can't raise a family on the minimum wage, conservatives respond that most minimum wage workers are young, single and/or part-time. Conservatives argue that the minimum wage throttles job growth for small businesses and entry-level workers, liberals contend that the job losses resulting from the minimum wage are nonexistent or overstated, conservatives reply that liberals are relying on quack economic studies.

Let's leave all that aside for now, and assume for the sake of argument that it is actually possible for the government to set a Platonic ideal minimum wage that provides a fairer income to workers with the minimum possible cost to job creation. That still doesn't answer three questions:

1. Why should there be a single federal minimum wage law for the entire country, covering every local labor market from Midtown Manhattan to Northern Mississippi?

2. If there really is a need for a single federal minimum wage, why does Congress nonetheless permit individual states to have higher minimum wages - and why should Representatives from those states care what the federal minimum wage is?

3. If the goal of a single federal minimum wage is to eliminate 'unfair' competition from workers willing to work for a lower wage, how do Democratic proponents of the bill expect it to succeed if it's not accompanied by stiffer enforcement directed at illegal immigrants who are the people most likely to work 'off the books' for a lower wage?

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:57 PM | Politics 2007 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Really Bad Idea

I guess Irving Maimway is still in business after all.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:30 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Where Is Obama?

Apparently he has a long habit of ducking controversial votes.

UPDATE: On the road is where Obama has been.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:09 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Where Is Osama?

Captain Ed wonders if bin Laden is dead. Stratfor says at least he appears not to be running Al Qaeda anymore. The former US commander in Afghanistan says we don't know where he is. Morgan Spurlock, bidding to supplant Michael Moore, is making a movie about the hunt for bin Laden.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:05 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Voter Intimidation

Republicans, for some time now, have been pushing for fairly tame measures to prevent voter fraud, most of which revolve around requiring voters to show some form of identification and otherwise leave a record that enables a determination of who, precisely, voted. In response to these common-sense proposals and other efforts to assure the integrity of the ballot, Democrats invariably complain that Republicans are engaging in some form of voter intimidation. Apparently, according to Democrats, even the mere act of having to properly identify yourself is so intimidating as to inhibit the right to vote.

Well. Now that the Democrats are in the majority, they are hard at work on legislation in another election context that will go far beyond mere identification, and eliminate secret ballots entirely, allowing voters to be pressured, even by their co-workers and in their own homes, to vote a specific way. The legislation, involving union elections, involves a practice called "card check," and it will be the subject of a bill markup today in the House.

UPDATE: Vice President Cheney says President Bush will veto the card check bill.

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:53 AM | Politics 2007 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
February 13, 2007
BASEBALL: Koufax by a Nose

One of the cool things about the expansion of David Pinto's database back to 1957 - you can now compare home/road splits back to the 60s. So, when outside of Dodger Stadium, was Sandy Koufax the best pitcher in baseball in 1963-66?

Yes, but not by really so much. Koufax had a 1.31 ERA at home in those years, but on the road his ERA was 2.44 to Marichal's 2.52 and Bob Veale's 2.63, and 10 other pitchers clocked in between 2.71 and 2.99.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:41 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Pay Me Now or Z You Later

Carlos Zambrano wants big money now, before the season starts, or he'll become a free agent. Not hard to see where this is headed, or why - between the out-of-this-world payout to Barry Zito, a solid but manifestly inferior pitcher to Zambrano (but the only other guy who matches his combination of durability and consistent quality) and the Cubs' offseason spending spree, you can't blame Zambrano for wanting his piece of the honey pot.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:32 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Ted Olson Endorses Rudy Giuliani

The biggest obstacle for Rudy Giuliani in the GOP primaries is his stance on social issues, which in many cases diverges from the views of most GOP primary voters and the party's platform. And for the most part, Mayor Giuliani is not backing off those positions, most notably his belief that abortion should be legal.

For me and other socially conservative, pro-life voters who are inclined to support Mayor Giuliani, however, there is one bridge he can build to make him acceptable - appoint judicial conservatives to the federal bench, judges who are likely to leave divisive social issues to voters in the states rather than attempt to settle them through extra-textual and ahistorical readings of the Constitution.

In convincing voters that Mayor Giuliani is serious about appointing those kinds of judges, there are few endorsements better than the one he just picked up: former Bush Administration Solicitor General, Reagan Administration head of the Office of Legal Counsel and long time Federalist Society lawyer Ted Olson:

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:07 PM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Name Their Accomplishments

What would you say about the presidential qualification of 14 years in the Senate, a handful of years as a state legislator, and virtually no record of legislative accomplishment? In the Republican field, that would be the resume of a mediocre candidate - less seasoned than John McCain or Newt Gingrich, less accomplished as a public sector executive than Rudy Giuliani or Mike Huckabee, less accomplished as a private sector executive than Mitt Romney.

In the Democratic field, though, that's the resume of the top three candidates put together.

On the basis of what accomplishments do these Senators ask for this job?

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:01 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Sadr To See You Go

While the Democrats debate the wisdom of the surge and the lefty bloggers deny that Iran could have had anything to do with Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, events have overtaken them:

According to senior military officials al Sadr left Baghdad two to three weeks ago, and fled to Tehran, Iran, where he has family.

Al Sadr commands the Mahdi Army, one of the most formidable insurgent militias in Iraq, and his move coincides with the announced U.S. troop surge in Baghdad.

Sources believe al Sadr is worried about an increase of 20,000 U.S. troops in the Iraqi capital. One official told ABC News' Martha Raddatz, "He is scared he will get a JDAM [bomb] dropped on his house."

Sources say some of the Mahdi army leadership went with al Sadr.

I guess those talking points about Sadr not being an Iranian puppet have been rendered inoperative. [UPDATE: Sadr's people say he hasn't left.]

It's almost academic now, but for those critics still obsessing over the fact that the intelligence officers who presented the weekend briefing on Iranian arming of Iraqi insurgents did not give their names or appear on camera, I present excerpts from yesterday's White House press conference, featuring a "Mr. Snow":

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:59 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Profiles in . . . Debatability

Tom Vilsack says the House Democrats lack the courage of their convictions for supporting only a non-binding resolution on Iraq - now, Vilsack, he would be the real deal:

In the shorter term, the nation must deal with its mess in Iraq, Vilsack said, and a nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's plan to send more troops -- the sort of resolution Pelosi, D-San Francisco, began pushing through the House on Wednesday -- simply won't suffice.

"How many lives are going to be saved with a nonbinding resolution?" he asked rhetorically during a question-and-answer period after his speech. Facing reporters later, he said Congress has "a constitutional and moral responsibility to debate whether we should continue to fund this war."

Yes sir, we have a moral obligation to go beyond non-binding resolutions and . . . debate. Strong stuff.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:50 PM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-12 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Face of Sacrifice

Whether you support the Iraq War or not, it's imperative to be reminded of the sometimes terrible sacrifices made by our fighting men and women. This picture (more in the same vein here) and the story that goes with it are a heartbreaking portrait of that sacrifice by one Marine, but inspiring as well. (H/T QandO).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:39 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Omar's Steal

Kris Benson has a torn rotator cuff, forcing the Orioles to sign Steve Trachsel. I think we can now conclusively credit Omar Minaya with a steal for getting John Maine (and Jorge Julio, since cashed in for El Duque) for Benson. (Of course, re-signing Benson in the first place was a bad idea). For the record, at the time I was in favor of dumping Benson but less than enthused about what the Mets got for him - more here.

Pity poor Leo Mazzone, asked to make a rotation with both Trachsel and Jaret Wright function. If Mazzone can pull this off, he really does deserve to be the first pitching coach in the Hall of Fame.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:46 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Ranking the Pitchers

Studes continues his look at the best of all time by Win Shares Above Bench, this time with the starting pitchers. The results are a little different from my own past analyses, which I probably need to update - he rates Christy Mathewson, Warren Spahn and especially Red Ruffing higher than I would (all three benefitted very significantly from great run support).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:20 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Stopping the Iranians

Mark I looks at the US military briefing laying out the evidence that Iranian-manufactured weapons have been provided to forces fighting the US in Iraq, principally Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. There is fair debate about precisely how best to respond to this particular provocation. Certainly, full-scale war with Iran would be a bad thing for all concerned, and our policy for now should be aimed at raising the costs of this sort of thing to convince the Iranians that attacking U.S. troops is not in their interests. There are many different ways to do this, between overt and covert military actions and economic and to a lesser extent diplomatic screw-tightening; what we should be aiming for is reaching the point where Ahmadenijad and the other Iranian leaders wake up every morning saying to themselves "how do we get those ****** Americans to stop?" At the same time, the longstanding fact of military life is that when you hit the other guy back, you had better be prepared for him to escalate, and know how you respond next. So the next steps are perilous - but continuing to let them attack without consequence is perilous, too. Our guys in the field need to know that we don't take this sitting down.

It's been interesting to see the frantic responses from the Democrats and the left side of the blogosphere. Two of the complaints about the Iraq War, you will recall, are that (1) we have enabled the Iranians to gain undue influence in Iraq and (2) we should have dealt with Iran first. In fact, Iranian meddling in Iraq isn't news to either side of the aisle. But then, those criticisms were leveled by the people who always want to deal with any problem except the one at hand, and they've gone much quieter lately.

First up, John Kerry:

Ultimately, they [Iran] want an Iraq that is stable. They want influence. They want to be players in the region. And we need to [recognize] that and engage in a kind of diplomacy that the Iraq Study Group recommended…

The idea that Iran wants a stable Iraq, at least in the sense that we would think of stability, is so delusional it's not even worth discussing. What needs to be done is to force the Iranians to decide that a stable Iraq is in their interests - but you can't just wave a magic wand and assume that the other side already agrees with you.

Then we have Sen. Jack Reed:

The question is: is this a deliberate policy of the Iranian government at the highest levels. Is it rogue elements within the government?" Mr Reed told Fox News. He added: "And then the other question is to what extent are there countervailing signals that the Iranians actually are trying to — not control, but not to further raise the stakes in Iraq," he said.

At some level, the question of who authorized war against us is beside the point. Power in Iran is diffuse - Iran is a tyranny, but not a dictatorship. The mullahs are the principal power, but they may not be any more monolithic than the Saudi royal family; Ahmadenijad holds elected office only at their sufferance, but he's not without influence. At the end of the day, though, this isn't a criminal trial in which we are trying to affix individual punishment - it's a matter of stopping something that's emanating from the borders of a sovereign state. (And color me skeptical that munitions are manufactured and distributed without the government's involvement). If we apply sufficient pressure on the regime, I have no doubt that the regime has the power to to make it stop, and if it doesn't, well, then Iran has lost control over its own territory and we need to take matters into our own hands.

A number of left-leaning sources have cited comments by General Peter Pace as somehow undermining the contents of the briefing:

"We know that the explosively formed projectiles are manufactured in Iran. What I would not say is that the Iranian government, per se [specifically], knows about this," he said. "It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it's clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit."

In other words, Pace knows what is clear from Iraq - that Iranian-made stuff is being used against our guys. The sensitive intel part of this is tracing it to the regime, although as I said, on some level that's beside the point. One of the central defenses of terror-sponsoring regimes has been deniability - hit first, deny responsibility later. Here, we can trace the source to inside Iran - that should be enough to make the Iranians take responsibility.

Then we have Juan Cole, who disputes the accounts of Iranian support almost entirely on the basis that Shi'ites don't cooperate with Sunnis. Of course, that ignores not only the mounting problem of Shi'ite violence but also the fact that the Iranians have been supporting both sides. Which may make no sense if you are locked into academic categories, but makes eminent sense if you regard this as an exercise in power politics (after all, they are not the only ones meddling in Iraq).

Next up is Glenn Greenwald, who has a long post complaining about the lack of credibility of anonymous sources. Funny, Greenwald has very regularly relied on anonymously-sourced reports about US surveillance and detention policies and other issues that provide fodder for criticism of the Bush Administration. In fact, what is different here from the typical anonymously sourced report is that this is an official briefing with the imprimatur of the Administration, as opposed to an unknown axe-grinder. And note that the champions of Valerie Plame are suddenly unable to grasp that sensitive intelligence sources, including the identities of military intelligence personnel, are not well-served by the disclosure of their identities to the media.

The Iranian problem is indeed complex, presenting many different strands that need to be resolved. But sticking our heads in the sand while the regime that took 52 US hostages in 1979 and killed 240 Marines in the Beiruit bombing in 1983 does it again is not an answer.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:01 AM | War 2007-12 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
HISTORY: Is That You, Abe?

Lincoln as a younger man? Could be. This one is the relevant comparison. Via Mike's Neighborhood.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:56 AM | History | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
February 12, 2007
BLOG: 2/12/07 Quick Links

*I'm not thrilled to see any foreign leader meddle in US domestic politics, but it is nonetheless heartening in John Howard's war or words with Barack Obama to see a reminder that the "international community" is not as monolithically anti-American as sometimes portrayed. Powerline has some useful thoughts on why Obama's response was so ham-handed. Of course, the Democrats are never as solicitous of countries that actually support our policies.

*An interesting analysis of the Hamas-Fatah accord. Via Frum. My guess as to the alternative explanations for Abbas' behavior would be "all of the above." I tend to think that the accords are a good thing simply for the fact of their existence, i.e., the fact that an Arab government sat down two warring Arab factions and got them to negotiate an agreement without the involvement of the US, the UN, Israel or financial or territorial concessions from any of the above. Hamas is still Hamas, but I still believe that while you can't negotiate about terrorism, you sometimes need to negotiate with terrorists, and it's not like there are other good alternatives. The best policy for the US is to avoid the situation as much as possible and play "show me" - i.e., make the Palestinian regime demonstrate its trustworthiness and peaceable nature before we give them anything. At least with Hamas in power, there is less pretense that they are actually peaceable or trustworthy unless they can genuinely demonstrate otherwise through deeds.

*There is little enough worth saying about the Anna Nicole Smith story; she rose to fame due to her natural physical gifts combined with tremendous ambition and a corresponding willingness to use and add to what she had, and she fell due to a lack of sense and even greater lack of discipline. A familiar Hollywood story. But Larry Miller has useful words on the litigation that will long outlive her:

Since yet another of the heart-broken offspring has gallantly appeared to pick up the cudgels and continue contesting it, I'd like to offer two choices of what I think is some pretty good advice: (1) Get a job. You didn't earn that money and you don't deserve it. And, by the way, every penny of it should go to Anna Nicole's daughter. Or, (2) Try your best to get reincarnated as a sexy woman.

*Yes, CENTCOM is indeed engaged in the blogosphere.

*A statute beached by the tides of history: Y2K litigation reform.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:53 PM | Blog 2006-13 • | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-12 | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Staffing

Two notes on the back end of the Mets' pitching rotation, as the pitchers report for spring training.

1. In case you missed it last week, Dave Williams is out until at least May (h/t), which is bad news for Williams, whose principal virtue is being available to pitch. Then again, an emergency starter may be more needed in June or July.

2. The optimist would point out that (1) Chan Ho Park had a 4.29 ERA before the All-Star Break last year, before his intestinal troubles brought him down, and (2) that included a 3.42 ERA against NL opponents. The pessimist would point out that he doesn't get a second shot at a first time back around the league.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:57 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
FOOTBALL: The Blind Side

Just in case you may have considered not reading Michael Lewis' The Blind Side, I'm here to tell you to reconsider. The Blind Side is one of the best sports books I've ever read.

Like Lewis' previous books Liar's Poker (about Salomon Brothers in the 1980s) and Moneyball (about the Oakland A's in the past decade), The Blind Side is fundamentally a book about markets and how they interact with the people whose unique skills or insights are suddenly made valuable by those markets. In this case, it's the market for NFL left tackles who protect the end of the line of scrimmage on a right-handed quarterback's blind side from increasingly quick and dangerous pass rushers. Lewis starts his tale with a (literally) shattering anecdote, recounting in stop-motion detail Lawrence Taylor's legendary hit on Joe Theismann and noting that the Redskins' star left tackle, Joe Jacoby, was on the sidelines that night. Lewis then details the rapid rise of left tackle salaries and the ripple effect that has had on the position all the way down to high school.

Wrapped inside a book about markets, however, is a second story - a unique coming of age story that takes over the narrative. Lewis follows Michael Oher, a 16-year-old African-American kid from the worst possible part of Memphis who arrives, Tarzan-like, at an overwhelmingly white Christian school with nothing but the ideal physical size and gifts to be an NFL left tackle. And I do mean nothing: no family, no home, no education, no money, no background in organized sports, no medical history - but also, perhaps surprisingly given his background, no boiling anger, no criminal record, no bad habits. The kid was just a complete cipher. It's an amazing testament to the generosity of his neighbors that a kid who never knew where his next meal was coming from somehow made his way to 350 pounds of mostly muscle by age 16.

I've been told by more careful watchers of the NFL that Lewis has a few factual details wrong - names misspelled, dates wrong. As a narrative, the only false note in the book is a chapter entitled "Death of a Lineman," which ends with the early death from cancer of 49ers guard John Ayers; while Ayers' story fits neatly into Lewis' narrative, his death really has nothing to do with nothing, and feels tacked on for surplus emotion (perhaps it would have felt less so if not for the chapter title).

This book may be less significant than Moneyball, in that it's far less likely to stir new debate in the NFL, but it's a great yarn full of laugh-out-loud "wow" moments (I may be biased because I went into Moneyball knowing more of the story). On the other hand, Lewis does also manage to bring in more of the world outside football through his examination of a Memphis neighborhood that is staggering even by the standards of urban poverty.

Lewis was a childhood friend of Sean Touhy, the Memphis businessman who takes Oher under his wing, and so this is the second outstanding book that Lewis essentially fell into, the first being Liar's Poker, which came out of Lewis' own tenure working at Salomon Brothers. That said, he's a tremendous writer and it's a tale worth the telling.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:00 AM | Football | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
February 11, 2007
BASEBALL: Motivation

April 3, the Mets will be in St. Louis to watch the Cardinals get their World Series rings.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:29 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
February 10, 2007
WAR: Pressure Point

I'm not sure how you can interpret this story as anything other than the Iranians offering just enough cooperation to induce paralysis in U.S. policymakers. Certainly, from their perspective, the cost of a few of the many extremists who travel a "well-worn" route between Afghanistan and Iraq is negligible compared to the benefits of inducing U.S. inaction.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:12 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Correction: Dubious Intelligence At The Washington Post

Walter Pincus' Mouth Is Moving, But Carl Levin's Voice Keeps Coming Out

If you read Friday morning's Washington Post, you were unlikely to miss a story on Page A1 (that's the front page) with the dramatic headline

“Official's Key Report On Iraq Is Faulted

'Dubious' Intelligence Fueled Push for War




The article, by Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith, purported to summarize the conclusions of a report by the Pentagon's inspector general, beginning with the news that

Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included 'reporting of dubious quality or reliability' that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community . . .

Of course, the Democrats, led by Michigan Senator Carl Levin, have been making this argument for some time. What was newsworthy, and certainly what was front-page-worthy, was that the Pentagon's own inspector general seemed to agree with Levin.

Apparently, though, this is more a case of Pincus and Smith agreeing with Levin and writing up an article that appears to have been itself so deceptive and misleading from the very outset that you wonder whether anyone read the thing before publishing it besides perhaps the people in Senator Levin's office who must have been dictating this to the dutiful scribes at the Post. Because take a look at the whopper of a correction the Post has posted, essentially recanting the entire thing:

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:32 PM | Politics 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Temptation of Barack Obama

Andrew Ferguson looks at Obama's two books and what his decline as a writer means for his evolution into a conventional politician. Key quote:

Already his habit of seeing every side of every question--the writerly habit that rescued his memoir from stereotype and cliche - has begun to frustrate many of his would-be allies. The liberal journalist Joe Klein, writing in Time, says he "counted no fewer than 50 instances of excruciatingly judicious on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-handedness in The Audacity of Hope." Articles in the New York Review of Books and Harper's quote the book and fret over his tendency to "equivocation."

And there are points where the tendency does verge on self-parody. He proudly notes that he voted against the nomination of the perfectly unobjectionable John Roberts; then he proudly notes he wrote to the left-wing blog Daily Kos to attack its attacks on Democrats who had voted for Roberts. The book is a long self-advertisement for his own reasonableness, along with expressions of disappointment at the unreasonableness of everyone else: He's not only against John Roberts, he's against people who are against John Roberts.

+++

The conclusions, though, are another matter. Those frustrated would-be allies like Joe Klein shouldn't worry. On one practical issue after another, at the end of long, tortured passages of chin-pulling and brow-furrowing, after the unexpected praise for Ronald Reagan and for the genius of the free market, the disdain for identity politics and for the overregulation of small business, there's never a chance that Obama will come down on any side other than the conventionally liberal views of the Democratic party mainstream. It turns out that much of his on-the-one-hand judiciousness is little more than a rhetorical strategy.

I caught some of Fox and CNN covering Obama's announcement speech this morning, and it was hilarious because both of them were using the news crawl at the bottom of the screen to report whatever Obama was saying - "Obama: ____." The problem is that what he was saying was an endless parade of cliches, so the breaking news crawl was annoucing things like "Obama: America is a land of hope" or "Obama: Together we can do great things." The effect was positively parodic.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:26 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Terror War's Wider Front

In case you missed it - an unsuccessful suicide bombing in Pakistan. It's all one war, by the Islamist extremists and the tyrants against the rest of us.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:23 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Do No Harm

The American Spectator's advice to Rudy Giuliani is much like my own from 2005.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:21 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Justice Hamburger

Ouch. Maybe they got him confused with Frankfurter.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:20 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Iowahawk is a Genius

Pure genius, for those of you who have followed the flap over the Edwards campaign bloggers.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:18 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BLOG: Bad Taste

Really bad.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:18 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Diet Squad

Rototimes looks at who is coming in to camp slimmer.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:44 AM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
February 9, 2007
BLOG: Clip No More

The Jar Jar Binks of Software bites the dust.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:51 PM | Blog 2006-13 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Hank Bauer, RIP

hank_bauer_1.jpg

Postwar Yankees star Hank Bauer has died, at age 84. Yes, out of respect for Bauer I haven't even called them the Hated Yankees, for once. Anything and everything that was ever good about the Yankees was true of Hank Bauer.

Bauer was a tough guy, a class act who didn't complain about being consigned to a semi-platoon role (as were many talented Yankees in those days) for much of Casey Stengel's tenure (he topped 600 plate appearances only twice), often sharing time with Gene Woodling. He hit safely in 17 straight World Series games, a record untouched to this day. He was also, as George Steinbrenner put it today, "an emblem of a generation" of ballplayers, the men who came back grizzled and already in their mid-twenties to play big league baseball after the war.

He was lucky to come back at all:

Bauer enlisted in the Marines shortly after Pearl Harbor and saw action in a number of battles in the Pacific, including Okinawa and Guadalcanal, according to Hall of Fame archives. He earned two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

Bauer was wounded at Okinawa, hit in the left thigh by shrapnel in his 53rd day on the island.

"We went in with 64 and six of us came out," Bauer said.

After his playing days, Bauer became a manager, collecting his eighth World Series ring by leading the 1966 Orioles to the first World Championship in franchise history.

Bauer2.jpg

"I am truly heartbroken," [Yogi] Berra said in a statement issued by the Yankees. "Hank was a wonderful teammate and friend for so long. Nobody was more dedicated and proud to be a Yankee, he gave you everything he had."

Rest in peace.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:12 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Free Parking

The Mets have signed Chan Ho Park to a 1-year, $600,000 . . .

Aaaaaaaaaaaaa! AAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Run away! Fleeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Sorry. Knee-jerk reaction there. Where was I? Yes, the deal is a $14.7 million pay cut against last year's salary for Park, but it's still a major league contract.

Park passes the "better than bringing back Jose Lima" test, but not much more than that, and other than residual emotional scars from last season's starting rotation fiasco I'm not sure I see what is left that makes Park a worthwhile gamble. He's certainly a step down from, say, a rehabbing Victor Zambrano, though without the Kazmir baggage. Park's strikeout rate isn't terrible, and he had a 2/1 K/BB ratio last year for the first time since 2001, but nonetheless he's been below 7 K/9 for four straight years, so he's not going back in that direction. While he threw more strikes last season (less than 3 BB/9), he also allowed 1.3 HR/9 pitching in San Diego. He did average over six innings per start in 21 starts before being sidelined with intestinal bleeding, so I suppose he should be healthy enough to give the Mets an option that doesn't include rushing one of the youngsters.

I can live with this deal because it's cheap and because the Mets have shown some success from the habit of collecting low-cost castoffs, but I wouldn't be all that hopeful.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:06 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
February 8, 2007
BASEBALL: Beane Interviewed

Blez at Athletics Nation's latest 3-part interview with Billy Beane here, here and here seems more canned and less informative than past interviews, but Beane does offer a few insights. On the rumors that he was trying to deal a starting pitcher to the Mets for Lastings Milledge:

Blez: There's obviously been a lot of speculation about the A's trading for Lastings Milledge. The rumor has been for a starter like Joe Blanton. I know you can't comment on another team's player, but how comfortable are you with the depth of the A's rotation if you lose another starter, either via a trade or injury? For example, you just traded Saarloos yesterday.

Beane: Wow, you're getting really good, Tyler. You just answered yourself by saying I can't comment on another team's player. We've made progress in the last few years (laughs). One of the reasons we would be concerned about our depth is because I got a call from a friend when I was over in Europe who is an East Coast writer saying the blogs are going nuts saying you're going to trade Haren. I was like, goodness gracious, I've been touring the Colosseum all day and I'm more worried about what Augustus Caesar was up to 2,000 years ago as opposed to trading Haren. A lot of that was more blogosphere talk. We've got something that we value highly which is good young pitching. It would be extremely risky to consider moving any of that.

On how and more specifically when the A's new stadium in Fremont will affect their ability to pay more for players:

Blez: The stadium announcement was obviously huge news and while there is still a ton to get done, you referenced the A's being able to keep more of their homegrown stars finally. Assuming everything goes well and we're looking at a stadium possibly opening in 2011, when can fans anticipate the team starting to keep its stars?

Beane: Very good question because you don't necessarily have to be playing in that stadium to start anticipating. My personal feeling is once you start laying bricks and it's a matter of when it gets done, that's when your business plan gets more based around that stadium. That's why you really want to start building the thing so you can start planning for that. The clock is ticking on some guys here that you would probably like to keep around. But until you start to see bricks and mortar, you have to be careful in spending what you don't have yet.

Blez: Just because it can still potentially fall through?

Beane: Yeah, right. The date that will be important for me is when I see Lew (Wolff) with a hard hat and a shovel for the contrived photos and when they put that first brick in. That's when I'll say all right we can start planning long term here.

Read the whole thing. Beane definitely conveys a sense of calm almost approaching indifference when dealing with the A's postseason struggles. He's optimistic about Daric Barton, more cautious about the returning-from-injury Dan Meyer.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:36 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Money Keeps Rolling In

Increased federal revenues keep on closing the budget gap ever since the 2003 Bush tax cuts (unlike the 2001 cuts, which were back-loaded) took full effect. Funny how that keeps happening.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:19 PM | Politics 2007 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: AQIZ On The Run

It's in the nature of wars against secretive underground organizations that they proceed fitfully. The death of Zarqawi and the capture of intelligence from his hideout last summer led to a massive roundup of his organization, featuring hundreds of arrests.

More recently, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQIZ) has been increasingly active again in Al Anbar, mounting another challenge to US resolve to stay and clear Iraq of foreign terrorist influence. But the worm appears to be turning once again, with a series of US raids in recent days. Via Instapundit.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:54 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
FOOTBALL: Winning the Big One

KSK has the definitive last word on Peyton Manning.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:44 PM | Football | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: PECOTA Grab Bag

Yes, Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections are out, for all you subscribers. Just a sampling:

*PECOTA luuuuuuuves Lastings Milledge. His best-case (90th percentile), neutral-park projection for 2007? 320/.396/.551 (I'll list these as BP does, Avg/Obp/Slg). His weighted mean projection? .289/.359/.476. In the major leagues, that is.

*Mike Pelfrey? Mean projection of 4.37 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9.

*Felix Hernandez? 3.62 ERA, 7.5 K/9.

*Delmon Young? .293/.336/.474.

*Melky Cabrera? More power, less OBP: .279/.344/.413.

*Joe Mauer? .322/.409/.501.

*Barry Bonds? .265/.437/.541 but only enough playing time to manage 12 home runs.

Plenty more where those came from.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:11 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: A Frenchman With Backbone

It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Nicholas Sarkozy not only knows which end of the whole right-wrong thing is up, but actually believes that there is some political benefit - in France! - to doing the right thing:

A French paper accused of insulting Muslims by printing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad surprised a court hearing on Wednesday with a letter of support from presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy.

"I prefer an excess of caricatures to an absence of caricatures," Sarkozy, the conservative interior minister who helped launch the French Muslim Council, wrote in a letter read out by a lawyer for the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The letter from the presidential frontrunner, whose ministry is also responsible for religious affairs, drew an angry response from one of three Muslim groups suing the weekly.

"He should remain neutral," Abdullah Zekri of the Paris Grand Mosque said at the court hearing the case on Wednesday and Thursday and due to deliver its decision at a later date.

What is more, he is apparently not the only one:

Charlie Hebdo has called more than a dozen politicians and intellectuals as witnesses, including Francois Bayrou, a centrist candidate in the presidential vote in April and May.

Its first witness, Paris University philosopher Abdel Wahhab Meddeb said he laughed when he saw Charlie Hebdo's cartoon. "I urge Muslims to adapt to Europe and not the other way around. That would be catastrophic," he told the court.

"The trial against Charlie Hebdo is one of a different age," the daily Le Monde wrote in an editorial. "In a secular state, no religion and no ideology is above the law. Where religion makes the law, one is close to totalitarianism."

There may be hope yet that the French state, so advanced in its decay from the days when Frenchmen had faith in God, country and their nation's ability to stand up for itself, will at least recognize that it does not wish to sacrifice French national identity on the altar of multiculturalism.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:08 AM | War 2007-12 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
February 7, 2007
POLITICS: The Pandagon Papers

Iowahawk's parody captures perfectly (and hilariously) the short and unhappy career of Pandagon's Amanda Marcotte as a blogger for John Edwards. This should not be rocket science: you can hire someone who writes the occasional pot-stirrer, as many bloggers do, but an unhinged, profanity-spewing lefty of the Marcotte variety is just not to be associated with a putatively serious public official.

UPDATE: Josh Trevino has a more serious take.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:30 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Most Above Average

Dave Studeman's two-part look at the best players ever (since 1900, not counting pitchers) by Win Shares Above Average is a keeper.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:11 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Mike Huckabee - The Right Man For The Wrong Job

Huckabee.jpg

There's nothing wrong, this early on, with having a large field of presidential candidates, even if (like me) you have largely lined up behind one of them. We still have many months ahead to test the candidates' mettle on the trail, vet their records and have a debate about issues, priorities and platforms.

But there is one man in the GOP field who should not be running: former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. There are three basic reasons why: (1) Huckabee is the wrong man to lead the national GOP, (2) Huckabee's presence in the race serves no useful purpose, and, perhaps most importantly, (3) Huckabee is needed elsewhere, in Arkansas, to run for the United States Senate.

1. Huckabee Is The Wrong Man To Nominate For President

The more I read about Huckabee, the more obvious it becomes that (a) Huckabee isn't all that conservative, especially on fiscal issues, and (b) Huckabee has his priorities wrong.

The Taxman

Governor Huckabee has spent much of his nascent presidential campaign on the defensive on fiscal issues, in particular - tax cuts remain the single most unifying issue of importance to the GOP and its brand identification with the public, but Huckabee almost certainly has the worst record on taxes of anybody in the Republican field. He has refused to take the Americans for Tax Reform pledge against tax hikes. The Club for Growth has issued a five-page white paper examining Huckabee's record, with significant criticism of him on economic issues, especially taxes. I encourage you strongly to read the whole thing - here are some of the lowlights:

On Taxes:

By the end of his ten-year tenure, Governor Huckabee was responsible for a 37% higher sales tax in Arkansas, 16% higher motor fuel taxes, and 103% higher cigarette taxes according to Americans for Tax Reform (01/07/07), garnering a lifetime grade of D from the free-market Cato Institute. While he is on record supporting making the Bush tax cuts permanent, he joined Democrats in criticizing the Republican Party for tilting its tax policies "toward the people at the top end of the economic scale"

On Spending:

Under Governor Huckabee's watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3% from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation (Americans for Tax Reform 01/07/07). The number of state government workers rose 20% during his tenure (Arkansas Leader 04/15/06), and the state's general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion, according to Americans for Tax Reform. The massive increase in government spending is due in part to the number of new programs and expansion of already existing programs initiated by Governor Huckabee, including ARKids First, a multimillion-dollar government program to provide health coverage for thousands of Arkansas' children.

On the Minimum Wage:

Raised the minimum wage in April 2006 from $5.15 to $6.25 an hour and encouraged Congress to take the same initiative on a national level (US Newswire 08/03/06), a proposal that President Bush and most congressional GOP members oppose.

On School Choice:

Governor Huckabee is on record opposing the most important element of genuine school choice - voucher programs that allow poor students in failing public schools to attend private schools and inject much needed competition into a decrepit public education system - because of a concern about government control of parochial schools

He also supported President Bush's Medicare prescription drug entitlement.

As the Club for Growth notes, Huckabee's record isn't all bad, by any means - he cut property and capital gains taxes, and supports free trade and charter schools, tort reform and Social Security reform. And he does offer defenses to criticisms of his tax hikes, arguing that a tax to build new roads was needed and approved by the voters and that in some cases his hands were tied on tax and spending issues by court-ordered mandates. Still, the overall picture is far from reassuring on an array of issues of vital importance to the GOP's identity as the party of low taxes and of at least some resistance to runaway spending.

Priorities

Consider this Q&A with John Hawkins of Right Wing News:

John Hawkins: Let me ask you one more question here. If someone came up to you and said, "Mike Huckabee, pick any three pieces of legislation you'd want to see passed nationally, and we'll tell you they'll definitely make it through, what three would you pick? Take your time. I understand this is a tough thing to pull off the top of your head.

Mike Huckabee: Yes, it's one thing to think about it at the state level which is the water I've swam in for all these years versus suddenly throwing me into the nation... I think, you know -- the three, ..again, this is sort of off the cuff -- and tomorrow I might have a different answer, but one of them would be that we would create more incentives for companies to encourage healthy behavior, not just to provide health care because, again, I think it's the wrong answer. That encourages people to be unhealthy, but that would mean that you'd empower citizens to handle their own health and give them financial incentives for doing a better job of it. It's a combination not just of health savings accounts which are a good thing, but even health savings accounts, you have to have some, you know, some capital to start with, to make it where it's worthwhile. So overhauling that system is one thing.

Secondly, I think I would create a system where people who wanted to further their education could offer volunteer services as young people either in the military like they have with the GI Bill -- or in some other form of volunteerism, because there really is a sense of which a lot of Americans do not appreciate their freedom. They do not really recognize just how good they've got it. This would give them an opportunity to give something back in exchange so that they wouldn't have to go to college and incur a huge level of debt in order to further their education. The reason that education is important is because without higher levels of education than a high school diploma, they're not going to be able to be competitive enough in the marketplace.

A third thing...I think I'd also pass legislation that would insure that the federal government had to live within its budget, a balanced budget amendment and that it could not balance its budget by simply passing costs on to states or local governments.

Lemme see: encouraging health and fitness; national service; and a balanced budget. If I had to pick two words to describe a platform for the federal government built around these three ideas, it would be "New Democrat." More recently, he was asked the same question in an interview with Liz Mair:

Liz Mair: So you've announced this morning that you are going to be "in the game." What are going to be your top three priorities in running? If you get the nomination, if you win, what are the top three things for you?

Mike Huckabee: I think the first thing is restoring a spirit of optimism to our party and to the American people. The second thing is to reignite interest in a lot of the domestic issues that really are the bread and butter issues that affect the way people live every single day of their lives. The third is trying to really put forth some common sense ideas on how do we build a safe America with not just secure borders, but [one that's] safe around the world, but do it in a way where it's not all about one side winning against another party, where it's about finding an American solution rather than just a Republican solution. Something where we can absolutely say this is America's agenda to protect ourselves, it's not the Republican agenda. We've got to quit saying Democrats don't care about our security and quit pushing them to have to retort with the same level of rhetoric. We have to start saying "what ideas can we borrow from you, which can you take from us?" The goal has to be not you're going to lose, we're going to win, but ultimately, if my future grandchildren are safer, that's what I need to think about. And that's who's going to win.

Well, that's less substantive, but the rest of the interview goes on to discuss the health theme again ("If we don't take steps to not be sick, we'll be bankrupt in a generation--we'll never make it. So it's changing to a culture of health") and education, stressing music and arts education - hardly the sort of micro-focused issues that should be absorbing the attention of the federal government. We continue to see Gov. Huckabee's nanny-state tendencies at work, something that's been apparent since he lost over 100 pounds and became something of an apostle of physical fitness.

I realize I'm cherry-picking a couple of blog interviews, but there's a pattern to Huckabee's public statements, and it's not one that stresses conservative ideas and in particular conservative priorities. After all, conservatives and Republicans generally may have a lot of internal disagreements, but it's the ability to agree on a common set of priorities that holds us together as a political coalition.

Let's look at an interview with the National Journal for another sample of Huckabee's thinking:

1. Huckabee, who supports guest worker programs and is not an immigration hard-liner, said he believes opposition to comprehensive immigration reform is 'irrational in many cases.' And he did not discount the causative factor of racism.

"If I were to say that some of it is driven by just sheer racism, I think I would be telling you the truth. I've had conversations with people that and it became very evident that what they really didn't like was that people didn't look like them, didn't talk like them, didn't celebrate . . . holidays like they do, and they just had a problem with it. Now, that is not to say that everyone who is really fired out about immigration is racist. They're not."

2. Asked directly if he believes humans caused global warming, Huckabee says that while he is "not a scientist," he thinks "we ought to act as if that is the case. There is never a downside when it comes to conserving national resources."

3. "I think every American should have a visceral reaction," he said of the USA Today story on phone monitoring. "If we don't have a visceral reaction, I'd be worried about that. Now, I might come to a conclusion that I'm willing to let you troll through my phone records if you think you're going to find Mohammed Atta. But I want to make darn sure that you're going to do that." Government, he said, should be "very careful [about] getting into the private lives of American citizens."

Again, not all of these views are necessarily objectionable - although the view that there is "never a downside" to restricting economic activity on environmental grounds is alarming - but I'm not hearing a guy who has much idea how to govern as a conservative and avoid giving your enemies the kind of soundbites they love to use to hammer the GOP with. Add to that the fact that Huckabee has zero record or national profile on foreign policy issues and is running in wartime (the foreign affairs section of his exploratory committee website isn't exactly brimming with his views on terrorism, Iraq, or any other security threats to the U.S.), and you have to wonder why anybody would consider him a serious candidate.

2. Huckabee's Presence In The Race Is Redundant

You can argue, if you like, that even if Huckabee is a neophyte on foreign affairs and a squish on fiscal policy and small-government issues, he is still needed in the presidential race to carry the banner for social conservatives generally and pro-lifers in particular. "Issue" candidates serve an important role, too, after all. But that ignores Sam Brownback. Brownback is an experienced U.S. Senator (more than a decade in the Senate) with a relatively safe seat, he's better-known than Huckabee, and he's a relentless battler for the pro-life cause and for socially conservative causes generally. If there's anybody in today's GOP well-suited to hold the leading candidates' feet to the fire in debates, it's Sam Brownback. As long as he is in the race, Huckabee is superfluous.

3. Huckabee's Party Needs Him In The Senate

Arkansas is definitely a winnable red state, having voted (albeit not by overwhelming margins) for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Republicans should be able to compete in the state. And Mike Huckabee has done just that, winning election as Arkansas' lieutenant governor in 1993 and two terms as Arkansas' governor, in 1998 and 2002; he recently left office after a decade as the state's governor. In his last election he drew 53% of the vote. He remains reasonably popular; an October 2006 poll, conducted during a low ebb of GOP popularity nationally, showed his approval/disapproval rating with Arkansas voters at a healthy 55-32.

Yet despite the favorable climate that socially conservative Arkansas presents for Republicans, the state's long Democratic roots are still hard to dislodge, and as a result Arkansas sends two Democrats to the Senate, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln. Unfortunately, Republicans have screwed up recent Senate races against these two, including a disastrous 2002 campaign that put Pryor (son of former Senator David Pryor) in the Senate in a Republican year amidst controversy over the extramarital affair and divorce of incumbent Tim Hutchinson. Pryor drew a slightly higher percentage of the vote than Huckabee in 2002, and the Arkansas poll gives him a 50/21 approval/disapproval rating. In other words, Pryor will not be an easy guy to take down, but he can be taken (especially now that the Democrats control the Senate and can't evade responsibility), and Huckabee is almost certainly the only candidate who makes this an even race from the get-go. In a state like Arkansas, however, he's going to need to stay home and work retail to steal a march on Pryor while the latter is in Washington; spending the next year in Iowa and New Hampshire isn't likely to help.

Would Huckabee be a good Senator? Well, for all the reasons set out above, he wouldn't be a great one, by conservative standards. But he'd be an improvement over having a Democrat hold the seat, and would probably be no more irritating than other periodic apostate GOP Senators like Norm Coleman. And in a Senate divided by one seat, he could swing the partisan balance back - a significant reason to run - and could make a real difference on judges, where social conservatives need help the most.

Give up the long-shot presidential bid, Governor Huckabee. Your party needs you in the Senate.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:00 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The President Was Born In...

Enough serious 2008 talk for the moment - how well do you know your presidential candidates - announced and unannounced, major and minor, likely and ridiculous? See if you can match the candidates with their places of birth (Candidates and birthplaces organized alphabetically; note that there are two cities that gave birth to two candidates):

#CandidateLtrBirthplace
1Joe BidenABrooklyn NY
2Sam BrownbackBChicago IL (2)
3Wesley ClarkCCleveland OH
4Hillary ClintonDCoco Solo, Panama Canal Zone
5Chris DoddEDenver CO
6John EdwardsFDetroit MI
7Jim GilmoreGElroy WI
8Newt GingrichHHarrisburg PA
9Rudy GiulianiIHonolulu HI
10Mike GravelJHope AR
11Chuck HagelKNorth Platte NE
12Mike HuckabeeLParker KS
13Duncan HunterMPasadena CA
14Dennis KucinichNPeekskill NY
15John McCainOPittsburgh PA (2)
16Barack ObamaPRichmond VA
17George PatakiQRiverside CA
18Ron PaulRSeneca SC
19Bill RichardsonSSpringfield MA
20Mitt RomneyTWillimantic CT
21Tom TancredoUWilmington DE
22Tommy Thompson
23Tom Vilsack

Read More »


Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:06 AM | Politics 2008 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
February 5, 2007
POP CULTURE: Apple Pie

Apple Computer has settled its longstanding trademark dispute with Apple Music, the publisher of the Beatles catalogue. The good news is that this means some hope of finally bringing the Beatles to iTunes.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:37 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
FOOTBALL: Super Bowl XLI

Peyton Manning seemed to spend much of last night with a look on his face that said, "hey, nobody told me the Super Bowl was going to be this wet!" Then again, that's better than Rex Grossman's look of "hey, those cars are coming at me really fast."

On the whole, from what I was able to see, it was a pretty solid game, not one of the greatest or most well-played Super Bowls but the outcome stayed in doubt into the fourth quarter, which is good. And it was worth it to see Manning finally win it just to hear the grinding of gears by sportswriters suddenly switching directions after years of branding him with the scarlet "L".

I have to think that one beneficiary of Manning's victory is Eli. Now, Eli has plenty of problems, but one less is having the burden of thinking that even if he got as good as his brother that still would never be enough to silence the critics, the boo birds, etc. This season, Eli can go back to worrying about living up to his family, not living down to it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:22 AM | Football | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
February 3, 2007
FOOTBALL: Irvin Yes, Monk No

I'm not ready to burn bridges over this, but I agree 100% with Ben that it's an outrage for the NFL to vote Michael Irvin into Canton over Art Monk.

UPDATE: I should add that when I saw the full list of people on the ballot, what's really outrageous is that they left out Derrick Thomas.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:28 PM | Football | Comments (29) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Jimmy Carter's Worst Nightmare

Wabbit%20Season.jpg

Kim Jong-Il, breeding giant rabbits.

Actually, the plan is to breed these varmints of mass destruction for food. Sure, nothing could go wrong with that plan in a country that has thus far destroyed all its other methods of feeding its population.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:25 PM | War 2007-12 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
February 2, 2007
BUSINESS: Stressing the Business Model

Viacom is putting the value of Google's billion-dollar acquisition of YouTube to the test:

Viacom Inc. on Friday demanded that Google Inc.'s online video service YouTube remove more than 100,000 video clips after they failed to reach a distribution agreement.

Viacom said it sent a notice to YouTube on Friday morning, asking the popular video-sharing site to remove clips from Viacom-owned properties including MTV Networks and BET.

Viacom's specific grievance against the user-driven video platform sure sounds like the dress rehearsal for a lawsuit:

"Filtering tools promised repeatedly by YouTube and Google have not been put in place, and they continue to host and stream vast amounts of unauthorized video," Viacom said in a statement.

The article notes that YouTube has reached deals with other media providers and quotes a stock analyst saying this is probably just hardball negotiations; we shall see. Obviously the risk to YouTube is, once it has a legal ruling against it on behalf of one media company its position will be that much weaker in negotiations with others.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:31 PM | Business | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
February 1, 2007
WAR/POLITICS: Obama's Trumpet

Redeploy%21.jpg

Redeploy!!!

You might have missed the news, in between media reports on Barack Obama's wonderful fabulousness and media reports on Senator Obama's fabulous wonderfulness, but on Tuesday, Illinois' junior senator released his "responsible yet effective" plan for victory in withdrawal from Iraq. (I love the "yet" and its implication that we should be surprised that a responsible plan could be effective, or an effective plan responsible). We know the plan is a responsible one because the press release says so 8 times, and Senator Obama is a responsible man.

I'll pass over the separation of powers problems in passing binding legislation; Obama is running for president, so this plan is best evaluated as what he would do in the big chair. How does the plan stack up?

The key element:

De-escalates the War with Phased Redeployment: Commences a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq not later than May 1, 2007, with the goal that all combat brigades redeploy from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group. This redeployment will be both substantial and gradual, and will be planned and implemented by military commanders. Makes clear that Congress believes troops should be redeployed to the United States; to Afghanistan; and to other points in the region. A residual U.S. presence may remain in Iraq for force protection, training of Iraqi security forces, and pursuit of international terrorists.

"Redeploy," of course, has no meaning here other than withdrawal. The only ways to withdraw the troops without redeploying them would be to discharge them from the military or kill them. So let's call this what Obama fears to say it is: withdrawal. Still, the "to the United States; to Afghanistan; and to other points in the region" language at least recognizes that he's not talking about Okinawa.

Then there's the word "De-escalates" - which implies that the current U.S. policy constitutes an escalation. Not only does this improperly blame the U.S. rather than the parties conducting the violence, it's inconsistent with Obama's assertion elsewhere in the press release that the current conflict constitutes "somebody else's civil war." Which is it - are we escalating the war, or is it somebody else's fight we're trying to stop?

Note also the effort to hide behind the ISG for withdrawal dates that look deliberately aimed at the expectation of Democratic primary voters.

Much of the rest of the plan rehashes the same things everyone wants (training, progress on security, economic and political issues) but congeals them into demands to be enforced by Congressional oversight. Then we get to the capper:

Regional Diplomacy: Launches a comprehensive regional and international diplomatic initiative - that includes key nations in the region - to help achieve a political settlement among the Iraqi people, end the civil war in Iraq, and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and regional conflict. Recommends the President should appoint a Special Envoy for Iraq to carry out this diplomacy within 60 days. Mandates that the President submit a plan to prevent the war in Iraq from becoming a wider regional conflict.

Here is where Obama's Kerryite streak really comes out: "key nations in the region" obviously refers to Iran and Syria, at a minimum, so already we're talking about negotiating with these countries without openly admitting what they are doing that requires us to negotiate with them. Obama says that these foreign nations should be asked "to help achieve a political settlement among the Iraqi people," so right there he's admitting that foreign powers are going to be handed influence in domestic Iraqi affairs, the sort of cold-blooded realpolitik that Obama's Kenyan ancestors were so frequently on the receiving end of and that any true liberal ought to find appalling. Now, diplomacy can work sometimes (and is preferable when it has a chance to do so) - if you have as much leverage as the other guy. Negotiations, after all, are war by other means. But what does Obama set as the conditions on negotiating? First, impose an arbitrary 60-day deadline (with unspecified consequences). Our adversaries, being subject to no such pressure and facing no consequences for delay, can be expected to do precisely that. Second, impose a mandate to avoid "a wider regional conflict," presumably meaning war with Iran. In other words, take the threat of force against the people we are negotiating with off the table.

The best that can be said of this plan is that it is probably not meant to be taken literally, and that Senator Obama can be forgiven, as a foreign policy neophyte, for issuing such a hash. But that's not much comfort to people who expect him to jog across the Potomac into the White House.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:00 PM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-12 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: T-Minus ...

Sure sounds like Roger Clemens, still as effective as any starting pitcher in baseball, is not ready to hang up his spikes just yet:

"I'm failing at retirement," he said. "Let's just face it. I'm failing miserably at it."

Going out before you are totally washed up is a fine thing, but going out when you are still as good as Clemens is overrated. He should pitch again this year.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:38 PM | Baseball 2007 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/POLITICS: Memorable Experiences

Ann Coulter (yes, yes, I know; standard Coulter-related disclaimers apply) offers a sensible and practical assessment of why the perjury case against Lewis Libby is so much weaker than was the case against Bill Clinton:

The exact same people who are now demanding prison for Libby for not remembering who told him about Plame are the ones who told us it was perfectly plausible for Bill Clinton to forget that Monica Lewinsky repeatedly performed oral sex on him in the Oval Office. Even if chubby Jewish brunettes aren't your type, be honest: Which of the two events would stand out more in your memory? . . .

Here are some simple illustrations. If Clinton had been asked how many sexual encounters it took for him to remember Monica's name (six) and he got the answer wrong, it would not be perjury since, like Monica's name, it's an easy thing to forget.

If Clinton had been asked whether he talked to Rep. Jim Chapman and then to Rep. John Tanner, or to Rep. Tanner and then to Rep. Chapman while Monica was performing oral sex on him in the Oval Office and he got the answer wrong, that would not be perjury because it's not relevant to the investigation. (Correct answer: Chapman, then Tanner.)

But when Clinton was asked under oath -- in a case brought by Paula Jones under the law liberals consider more sacrosanct than any passed in the 20th century, Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act: "Mr. President ... at any time were you and Monica Lewinsky alone together in the Oval Office?" and he answered, "I don't recall," that was perjury.

Of course, there's also the matter of relevance. Libby was interviewed by federal agents in October and November 2003 and questioned by the Grand Jury in March 2004 - after it was already known to the Special Prosecutor that the Plame leak had come from Richard Armitage. Clinton, by contrast, was answering a series of questions that a federal judge had specifically ordered to be answered on grounds that they were relevant to an ongoing civil case in pretrial discovery, in which the core question (did Clinton sexually harass another subordinate?) had not been resolved.

Perjury being a serious crime, I'm still willing to give Fitzgerald something of the benefit of the doubt on the decision to indict, but there's no question that his evidence is significantly weaker, the defense significantly more plausible, and the case for bringing charges at all significantly more attenuated than in Clinton's case.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:16 PM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2007 | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)