Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
June 30, 2008
POLITICS: The McCain September Debate Strategy: A Suggestion

An idea; a proposal: John McCain should challenge Barack Obama to a week-long set of town-hall debates (say, 4-5 of them) on college campuses when the college kids go back to school in late August/early September. Such debates could be concentrated specifically in the Big Ten schools (Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio St) and other swing-state universities (U. Missouri) that can produce huge audiences in close proximity to where the candidates will already be campaigning. I'm sure MTV could be lined up to host the debates in as wide-open a format, with no pre-screening of the audience, as possible.

Such a proposal would be a win-win for McCain. College campuses are guaranteed hostile territory for McCain, but he's never feared tough crowds, and it would give him a great chance to break through the groupthink surrounding Obama. And big Midwestern state schools are large and diverse enough that no audience would be without a few College Republicans willing to ask some tough, educated questions to Obama. Obama is likely to try to duck a large number of free-form events, but if he bails, McCain can really go after him for not being willing to wade into the very youth audiences that supposedly form the core of his own support. This won't actually win McCain a ton of young voters, but it might help stem the Obama tide there as well as getting out the general message about Obama being a marketing department creation who's afraid to come out from behind his teleprompter.

And if Obama agrees, all to the good. Especially if a lot of the questioners are snot-nosed pinkos and filthy hippies. McCain's performance at open town hall events over the past year and a half, after all, has done wonders to reassure people nervous about his age and his ability to hold his temper.

As most of us will recall from our college years, owing to their youth and relative insulation from the real world, college students have a different heirarchy of values and priorities than voters who work for a living and have families to raise - in general, there are three things college students respect above all others:

1. Authenticity. John McCain is one of the least canned politicians you are likely to ever see.

2. The willingness and ability to debate just about anything, no matter how obvious or ridiculous. College kids, whether or not they are particularly studious or intellectual, love endless dorm-room bull sessions and hate old people who lack the quickness of mind and mouth (or at least mouth) of the young.

3. People who are interested in the opinions of college students.

A series of campus debates would be a perfect opportunity for McCain to show he can best Obama at all three.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:40 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (32) | TrackBack (0)
June 29, 2008
BLOG: 6/29/08 Quick Links

*Maybe when you hurt yourself moving pillows on your bed, it's a sign you're not really cut out to be a professional athlete.

*Price fixing does not sound like a useful solution to the hazards of maple bats. (H/T). Does anyone really think Major League ballplayers are currently using cheap knockoff bats?

*George Carlin on Kiner's Korner. And a few of his one-liners from the later stage of his career (i.e., when he wasn't high). Some of those were only funny because of Carlin's delivery, and some have become cliches by now, but he does have a few classics there. Carlin was at his best when he was being misanthropic.

*Chicks don't dig the Mariners. (H/T). This would be even funnier if they had not just whupped the Mets.

*Replacing Chris Noth with Jeff Goldblum on Law & Order: Criminal Intent is not a step up. Amusingly, that photo makes Goldblum look quite a lot like Jerry Orbach, though.

*There's money in poverty, if you're a friend of Barack Obama. Decent housing's another matter.

*The Barackheads do not like it if you mock their god.

*It's like joining a cult, except...I'm working on it....let me think ....

*Comparing your client to the Rosenbergs is not a great idea.

*Somebody on Kos tried to do a response (sans permalink) to our RedState editorial on the GOP as the party of freedom of choice, and I think I hurt my brain reading the thing. The paragraph on the salary cap is priceless, and the sad part is that the author presumably intends us to take the Jeff Spicoli quote as authoritative, as if quoting Montesquieu or something. In a similar vein, this is awfully unspecific. Why should it matter if I'm "ungrateful" to farmers - I pay for my food, and that should be enough for them just as it is for lawyers, autoworkers, toymakers, whoever.

*Interesting writeup on great NHL goalie Terry Sawchuk, who I'd never known much about. Man, that's a guy with a lot of problems and a lot of injuries.

*Nice writeup about 100-year-old ex-MLB player Bill Werber (career numbers here). The Babe Ruth anecdote is vintage Ruth.

*Hugo Chavez and Hezbollah, perfect together.

*This is an oldie but a goodie, on Live Earth. Our old friend and Holy Cross classmate Dave Holmes makes it out of this with more of his dignity intact than most of the participants.

*I shouldn't laugh at Al Sharpton on a bicycle (in fact, I can't ride one myself), but what the heck, he's Al Sharpton.

*I have to feel like the AP is stacking the deck when they give us this, this and this as pictures of Spain's fans at a Spain-Russia soccer game and this as the picture of a Russian fan.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:01 AM | Baseball 2008 • | Blog 2006-16 • | Politics 2008 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
June 28, 2008
BASEBALL: He Chose Poorly

I really am at my wits' end, and the Mets' management must be as well, about Jose Reyes' baserunning. I mean, first and second, two outs, down 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth with Wright up, he gets picked off second base. No reason why a guy with his wheels should be that far off second - he'll be running on the play and will score on pretty much anything. Wright then hits a solo homer to lead off the next inning instead of what might have been a 2-out 3-run shot, and the Mets lose 3-2.

I wish I had count of the number of times this season Reyes has run the Mets out of an inning on a poor percentage play at second or third, often making the first or last out at third base in violation of one of baseball's cardinal rules. It's just inexcusable by this point for him not to have learned that lesson.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:08 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/POLITICS: Full Disclosure

The full en banc 8th Circuit Court of Appeals handed a victory Friday to GOP Gov. Mike Rounds and the people of South Dakota, lifting an injunction sought by Planned Parenthood against a South Dakota statute that mandates disclosures to women seeking abortions about the consequences of their decisions, including disclosure of the fact that an "abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." In no other area of the law is the Left so dedicated to preventing the full disclosure of facts to consumers. The 8th Circuit opinion, written by George W. Bush appointee Judge Raymond Gruender and joined by five other of President Bush's appointees to the bench, recognized Planned Parenthood's opposition to the disclosure of scientifically accurate facts for what it was.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:32 AM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2008 | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/LAW: News Flash: Liberal Judging Not Popular

TIME Magazine's Massimo Calabresi thinks that Barack Obama is being savvy in "moving to the center" by announcing that he sides with the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court (and at least to some extent against his own prior positions) in supporting the individual Second Amendment right to own guns and the death penalty for child rapists. Plainly, Obama is hoping for gullible reactions like that of Jay Newton-Small, who tells us:

Of course, there's little Obama would be able to do to about either ruling, even as president. So, his comments come purely as opinions that give voters an idea of where he stands on the political spectrum.

What he's hoping to avoid is the reaction of Andrew Hyman, who notes that Obama voted against Justices Roberts and Alito (who he now supposedly agrees with) and cited Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter as model Justices even though he now disavows their views on these cases. As Hyman observes, don't watch what Obama says but what his preferred judges do. Because Obama sure as heck is not going to put people like John Roberts on the Supreme Court, and as Calabresi admits, Obama won't be eager to talk about that:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:02 AM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: The Wrong War, The Wrong Place, The Wrong Strategy

Is being stretched thin, bled dry, demoralized and defeated in the war for hearts and minds of the Muslim world by the war in Iraq a recipe for losing the war on terror?

Strategy Page says that for Al Qaeda, it is. Via Vodkapundit. I must say I'm a little skeptical of the statistic that only 4% of the jihadists in Iraq have been foreign, however.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:01 AM | War 2007-16 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
June 27, 2008
BASEBALL: Root, Root, Root For The Road Team

Tonight's day-night doubleheader was nothing if not frustratingly inconclusive, with the Mets and Yankees both getting humiliated in front of the home crowd. One lesson, clearly, is that it's not a good idea to take home runs away from Carlos Delgado; he remembers.

Pedro's stuff actually looked pretty good tonight, but somehow didn't translate well. I'm one more bad outing from actually starting to worry about him rather than making excuses.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:58 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Things Joe Morgan Used To Know

Joe Posnanski, who's been working on a book on the 1975 Reds, notes that Joe Morgan's Luddite tendencies seem to represent a curdled cynicism left over from his playing days, when he was far more enlightened:

I cannot tell you how many stories I have read where Morgan is trying to explain to some reporter why on-base percentage is the most important statistic, why slugging percentage is so telling, why it isn't important how MANY stolen bases you have but how often you are successful.

Really. If you go back to 1975 ... and you read a bunch of sports sections, you will see that there was something fundamentally different about Joe Morgan. The guy was absolutely ahead of his time, not just as a player but as a thinker too. So many of those things that seemed so fresh and new in Joe's much hated Moneyball - the concept that it isn't about how good a player looks, the notion that popular statistics didn't tell you much, the philosophy that scoring runs and winning baseball is about simple and tangible things - heck, Joe was preaching this stuff back when Gerald Ford was in office.

The thing is ... nobody really got him then. Owners didn't pay you to walk. Managers didn't always look beyond size. Reporters didn't get what REALLY won the game. Every day, in the paper, you saw batting averages, and RBIs, and stuff that Joe understood were secondary, selfish stats, not directly in line with winning. I think THAT'S when Joe Morgan lost any real use for statistics ... they didn't TELL you what mattered. I think that was when Joe thought: "Statistics are useless. You have to watch and play baseball to really understand it."

Random note here: one of the more horrifying things I have heard was earlier this season when President Bush was in the ESPN box and Bush confirmed for John Miller that he had, in fact, once offered Morgan a front office job with the Rangers.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:56 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
LAW: In Print

I get quoted by Reuters on one of my cases. It was a busy day, yesterday.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:48 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Like him or not, it's pretty clear that the revival of the previously floundering Yankees coincided almost perfectly with the return of Alex Rodriguez; the Yanks dropped to 20-25 and 7.5 games back on May 20, A-Rod's first day back from injury, and have been rebounding ever since, going 22-11. A-Rod hasn't done it alone; while he's batted .352/.443/.672 since his return, Giambi has hit like the 2000-2001 Giambi (.346/.447/.663), Damon has hit .413/.464/.524, and Matsui and Posada have been tearing it up as well (the full lineup here). The pitching staff's been less spectacular (other than Joba and Mariano), but Pettitte has been pitching well the continuing revival of Mussina has been a big contributor as well; Mussina, Pettitte and Rivera have combined for an 88-17 K/BB ratio in that stretch.

By the way, this may not be that surprising a stat for a guy who has mainly worked as a late-inning setup man, but for his career, the Yankees are now 36-8 in games where Joba appears. For a contrast, the Red Sox record in 2007-08 when Okajima pitches is 69-29; the Mets' record in that period when Heilman pitches is 63-56.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:28 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
June 26, 2008
POLITICS: "I didn't go around wielding a bunch of clout."

...and the entire city of Chicago goes under the bus, along with the whole Illinois Democratic Party. Barack Obama never really knew you:

"You will recall that for my entire political career here, I was not the the endorsed candidate of any political organization here," the Democratic presidential hopeful said at the Westin Hotel downtown. "I didn't go around wielding a bunch of clout. My reputation in Springfield was as an independent. There is no doubt I had friends and continue to have friends who come out of the more traditional school of Chicago politics but that's not what launched my political career and that's not what I've ever depended on to get elected, and I would challenge any Chicago reporter to dispute that basic fact."

Well, so much for Obama touting his experience as a significant player in the state legislature. Of course, Obama's managed to make his records as a State Senator disappear, and aside from his war speech and his first book, it's awfully hard to find any evidence of his public statements before 2004. Presumably, his Illinois record on guns will be next down the memory hole.

Aside from his own record, it's not hard to see why Obama wants nothing to do with his old friends and allies, now that even Illinois Democrats are talking about impeaching their own governor (more here), among the many scandals and fiascoes surrounding the Illinois Democrats. (Maybe the socialist New Party will still have him). Of course, the Chicago Sun-Times isn't fooled enough to avoid mentioning this:

Obama friend Tony Rezko was convicted of corrupting state government, but Obama was never implicated and has returned contributions Rezko made to his Senate campaign. Obama did run as an independent Democrat but worked closely with state Senate President Emil Jones, an old-school organization Democrat. Obama runs for president with the full blessing of Mayor Daley.

"Worked closely" is, I guess, a euphemism for Jones basically creating most of Obama's legislative record by adding Obama's name on other people's bills, and bringing home a whole lot of Obama-directed pork ever since. As Jones once said, "I'm gonna make me a U.S. Senator":

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:28 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/POLITICS: A Good Day For The First Amendment, Too

Justice Alito's opinion this morning in Davis v. FEC won't get as much attention as Heller, and breaks a lot less new ground, simply holding that Congress can't set up one set of contribution-and-expenditure campaign finance rules for everyone and then a second set of rules giving an unequal advantage intended to 'level the playing field' for candidates whose opponents are able to self-finance all or part of their campaigns (the so-called "Millionaires' Amendment," one of the more egregiously incumbent-protective features of McCain-Feingold). The Court's 5-4 majority (you can guess the lineup) didn't tinker with any of the existing and misguided structure of campaign finance regulation that's existed since the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo opinion, as Justice Alito was careful to note that the parties had not asked the Court to reconsider Buckley. Instead, the Court rather pointedly told Congress that if it had made a mess of campaign finance regulation, that's Congress' problem, not the Court's.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:34 PM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2008 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: To Ash You Shall Return

Peter Abraham summarizes the problem with unsafe, easily-splintered maple bats, and - sadly - why they are yet another thing that, as was so long true for steroids and the DH rule, (1) should be subject to immediate rulemaking by the Commissioner but instead (2) will likely be held hostage indefinitely by the players' union in the hopes of getting the owners to make some concession in return for a ban. Which is not to suggest in either case that the owners are pillars of virtue, just that so long as the collective bargaining process is in the way, considerations of the best interests of the game take a back seat to the grim zero-sum logic of the bargaining table. You can see, by contrast, how the game's control over umpiring has improved greatly since the umpires' union was for all intents and purposes broken by the owners.

David Pinto suggests that Bill James has argued for requiring all players to use identical bats - I'm not sure if this is a reference to the Historical Abstract's essay on the size of bat handles vs. barrels of something more recent...certainly, there should be some allowance for the size of the batter (one needn't make Luis Castillo and Adam Dunn use exactly the same bat), but it does seem entirely reasonable, and likely to end the arms' race towards ever-narrower-handled and more-fragile bats, to standardize the equipment more; the pitcher doesn't get to choose the baseball, after all. James has been arguing for years that the whip-handled bats have been as big a factor in the offensive upsurge of the last 15 years as smaller ballparks and more muscular hitters; a restoration of a little of the tradidtional balance of power on that front would not be a bad thing either.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/POLITICS: Waiting For Heller

The Supreme Court will hand down the DC gun control/Second Amendment case, DC v. Heller, this morning around 10am. I won't be covering the opinion when it comes down, but SCOTUSBlog will have the first breaking reports, and my RedState colleagues will be looking at the opinion and its political ramifications. (I had looked at the tea-leaf-reading predictions here and here).

UPDATE: Note that Barack Obama is now rendering his prior position on the case inoperative, although it remains to be seen if he will similarly flee from his long record of support for drastic gun-control measures, and of course, as with yesterday's death penalty decision, don't listen to what Obama says, watch what the kind of judges he would appoint actually do.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:23 AM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
June 25, 2008
HISTORY: April 16, 1178 B.C., Around Noon

The specificity sets off some alarm bells, but if this is for real, it's pretty impressive work.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:30 PM | History | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
LAW/POLITICS: 5-4 Supreme Court: Raping A Child Not Really As Bad As Democracy

The Supreme Court today, in Kennedy v. Louisiana, found that the Eighth Amendment bars the death sentence of a man who brutally raped his 8-year-old stepdaughter, causing traumatic physical injury (decency doesn't permit quoting here the Court's discussion of the facts on p. 2 of its opinion), to say nothing of the emotional trauma. The decision was 5-4, with Justice Kennedy writing the opinion joined by the Court's liberal bloc. The decision is significant in three major main ways:

1. It essentially bars the death penalty in all cases that do not result in the death of the victim, with the exception of "offenses against the State."

2. It explicitly confirms that the Court's reliance on an 'evolving national consensus' against the death penalty in specified circumstances is truly a one-way street; the Court frankly admits that unless there is strong evidence of a national consensus favoring the death penalty for a particular crime at a particular time, the Court will permanently bar every state from using the democratic process to impose such a penalty at any time in the future.

3. It rejects the notion that state legislatures are competent to come up with any sort of safeguards, a conclusion much in line with the Court's recent view that Congress is incapable of determining procedures for the handling of alleged enemy combatants. The assertion of judicial supremacy inherent in this conclusion is staggering.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:35 AM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2008 | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
June 23, 2008
BASEBALL: Rising To A Challenge

Question of the day - can you name the four major league teams that are at least 5 games over .500 against teams with winning or .500 records?

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:00 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Left vs Left

McCain and Obama are both left-handed, as have been every U.S. president since Ford except for Carter and George W. Bush. One quibble with this article:

The trait is also not exclusive to winning candidates: Vice President Gore is left-handed, as are past presidential contenders Robert Dole, John Edwards, Bill Bradley, and Ross Perot. A prominent New Yorker who flirted with a White House bid, Mayor Bloomberg, is a lefty.

I'm fairly certain that Dole started out right-handed, and only favors his left because of the war injury that rendered his right arm useless. So, he's not really a useful example.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:21 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
FOOTBALL/WAR: George Martin Still Rules

Martin has just finished his cross-country walk to raise money for September 11 responders.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:16 PM | Football • | War 2007-16 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Role Reversal

You know, one thing that's been driving me up the wall lately is the media's newfound effort to turn Willie Randolph into a martyr (best example here, and while I can't fault the Daily News for jumping at the exclusive, there's also Randolph's own maudlin account). I never bought into some of the more heated criticisms of Randolph, but I accepted the fact that the time came when he simply had to go, as unpleasant as the process of dumping a manager mid-season is. Yet somehow, the same media that spent the past year and a half burning effigies of Randolph now wants to make the man out to be some sort of innocent victim of a dire conspiracy. The truth is a lot less dramatic, in all directions.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:55 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
June 20, 2008
WAR/POLITICS: Obama Retreats On FISA

I asked yesterday how Barack Obama, who opposed the FISA bill last time it came around and specifically opposed the telecom immunity provisions, would handle the compromise by which nearly the same bill has now passed the House and will return to the Senate with sufficient votes to pass. You will recall the emphatic nature of Obama's statement in opposition:

I strongly oppose retroactive immunity in the FISA bill.... No one should get a free pass to violate the basic civil liberties of the American people - not the President of the United States, and not the telecommunications companies that fell in line with his warrantless surveillance program. We have to make clear the lines that cannot be crossed.

Well, anyone who was observing this campaign to find out whether Obama has credibility when he draws that kind of line now has their answer: he folds like a cheap suit:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:18 PM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-16 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
June 19, 2008
BASEBALL: Badly Dunn

Pinto notes two related problems with Blue Jays GM and, we were told, Billy Beane protege JP Ricciardi: first, the release of Frank Thomas has worked out badly, a move I thought questionable and badly-explained at the time and that Beane obviously recognized as a buying opportunity. (H/T). Second, Ricciardi has ripped Adam Dunn, questioning Dunn's desire for the game and his low batting average, the kind of justifications that generally precede a team backing away from a player without an especially good reason for doing so. I can understand why you would not want nine guys like Dunn on your team. He does have some significant holes in his game. But like the caller Ricciardi was responding to said, the Blue Jays are not exactly overflowing with guys who produce Dunn's kind of combination of power and patience - the team leader in HR has 8, Vernon Wells and Rod Barajas are the only guys slugging over .434, and Lyle Overbay's the only guy on the team with 30 walks. Toronto is slugging .376 as a team; the starting left fielder is slugging .303.

That said, the bigger concern with Dunn is not overvaluing his bat when translated to a new ballpark. Dunn's career line of .242/.373/.494 on the road is good, but lags pretty far behind his career .252/.390/.545 line in Cinci, most of that compiled in Great American Ballpark, where he has hit .254/.387/.561.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:29 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Jed Babbin reported the rumors this morning and explained why telecom immunity is a sticking point, and the WSJ is now reporting ($) that in the House, at least, a deal has finally been struck to move a 'compromise' FISA bill. You should read the whole thing; here's how the WSJ describes the telecom immunity provision:

The agreement would also pave the way for [telecom] companies ... to shed the nearly 40 lawsuits they face for allegedly participating in a prior version of the NSA program... To win immunity, they would have to pass review from a U.S. District Court.

...Critical to sealing the deal was a compromise that would grant conditional immunity to telecommunications companies for assistance they provided from September 2001 through January 2007. If the companies can show a federal district court judge "substantial evidence" they received a written request from the attorney general or head of an intelligence agency stating the president authorized the surveillance and determined it to be lawful, the cases against them will be dismissed.

UPDATE: The Politico has the story along with the text of the compromise bill. The House is scheduled to vote tomorrow.

Provisionally, this seems like a win for national security and a win for the GOP, and a defeat for the far Left, the 'netroots,' and the plaintiffs' bar. The bill, if passed, will institutionalize even under an Obama Administration surveillance that has previously been conducted only because President Bush ordered it. On the presidential level, the deal sounds like one that John McCain will happily fall in with, and vindicates his longstanding position that the President, regardless of what he can do, should go to Congress for authority on surveillance. And it puts Barack Obama in a tough spot: if Pelosi and Reid are marshalling their troops behind it (even though they both personally oppose the deal), and he opposes them, he will yet again be shown to be an extremist outside the mainstream of his own party; yet if he supports the deal, he will have flip-flopped on his prior votes against FISA bills that contained telecom immunity.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-16 | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)
WAR: Where The Girls Are

You may or may not believe in the theories propounded by Mark Steyn and others as to the powerful effects that demographic changes will have on the future of the world in general and the relative balance of power between Europe and the Muslim world in particular, but there's no denying that demographic trends are a powerful historical force that influences every other aspect of the world - quite simply, you can't look meaningfully at what the people want or are capable of doing until you know who the people are. A nation's people really are it's most important resource, without which all other resources, from capital to natural resources to strategic location, will lie fallow or fall to other hands.

There are a lot of different ways to slice the demographic data. Steyn often uses birthrates to explan the dramatic differences between growing populations in places like Yemen and rapidly aging and shrinking ones in the old Soviet Union and Western (especially southern) Europe. But while the birth rates are probably the best data point, I fear that some observers tend to write them off because they are trends, and trends after all can change.

Another way to look at the numbers, though, is that once a year is over, there's a fixed number of children born in a country, and while you can add more by immigration - which in many cases changes the fundamental nature of the population if done in numbers large enough to move the needle, trend-wise - and you can subtract for infant mortality or other calamities, basically you have a hard, fixed, historical number. Russia can increase it's 2009 birthrate but it can't change the number of children born in Russia in 2006 - and that number will be part of the baseline for future population growth or decline. Trends plus time equal history.

What follows is a look at some of those hard numbers.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:07 AM | War 2007-16 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
June 18, 2008
BLOG: What Would We Do Without The Internet?

To answer practical questions.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:04 PM | Blog 2006-16 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
June 17, 2008
WAR/POLITICS: No, We Can't Beat The Terrorists?

Another Day, Another Obama Aide. Not The Richard Danzig Obama Knew?

pooh_tigger_catching_bee.jpgNo day is complete without an Obama aide doing something that Barack Obama will sooner or later have to disavow, and this time it's an old favorite variety: the foreign press quoting a national security adviser speaking the counsel of defeatism:

Richard Danzig, who served as Navy Secretary under President Clinton and is tipped to become National Security Adviser in an Obama White House, told a major foreign policy conference in Washington that the future of US strategy in the war on terrorism should follow a lesson from the pages of Winnie the Pooh, which can be shortened to: if it is causing you too much pain, try something else.

Mr Danzig told the Centre for New American Security: "Winnie the Pooh seems to me to be a fundamental text on national security."


In a subtle break from Mr Bush's belief that the war on terror can be won, Mr Danzig, who is a Pentagon adviser on bioterrorism, warned that while the West can defeat individual terrorist groups and plots, it can never entirely remove the threat posed by nuclear proliferation or the prospect of bioterrorism.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:18 PM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-16 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Midnight Massacre

panicbutton.JPGIt's not 1977, but the Mets waited for deep into last night to finally sack Willie Randolph, Rick Peterson and Tom Nieto and install Jerry Manuel as interim manager.

I've been skeptical of firing the manager in midseason, and installing Manuel pretty much guarantees that no dramatic change is really at work, since Manuel's been at Randolph's side through all of this. That said, the team was going badly enough that you can't fault the team for cutting bait, and by this point the whole when-will-Willie-go drama had reached the point of no return; you can't leave a man twisting in the wind like that. The team had to either unambiguously give him the rest of the season, or be done with it.

I'm not a fan of getting rid of Peterson. His tenure has seen its share of successes and failures, and in some cases (e.g., Oliver Perez) successes followed by regression. But he's clearly a sharp and talented pitching coach, and of course he can't be held responsible for the failures of the offense.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:05 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Is Barack Obama A Woman?

Seriously, you can't make people like this up:

[A] Barack Obama versus John McCain match-up still has the makings of an epic American gender showdown. ... The question asked by this American Sphinx to all who dared enter the halls of leadership was, "Are you man enough?" This year, Senator Obama has notably refused to give the traditional answer.
Senator Obama, for his part, will not be cast as the avenging hero in "The Rescue" any time soon ...He doesn't seem to want the role. You don't see him crouching in a duck blind or posing in camouflage duds or engaging in anything more gladiatorial than a game of pick-up basketball. If Mr. Obama's candidacy seeks to move beyond race, it also moves beyond gender. A 20-minute campaign Web documentary showcased a President Obama who would exude "a real sensitivity" and "empathy" and provide a world safe for the American mother's son. Mr. Obama is surrounded in the video by pacifist - not security - moms.

If Mr. Obama's campaign has fashioned any master narrative, it's that of the young man in the bower of a matriarchy - raised by a "strong" mother, bolstered by a "strong" sister, married to a "strong" wife and proud of his "strong" daughters. (Bill Clinton had a similar story, although his handlers highlighted his efforts to save his mother from domestic violence.)

"In many ways, he really will be the first woman president," Megan Beyer of Virginia, a charter member of Women for Obama, told reporters. An op-ed essay in The New York Post headlined "Bam: Our 1st Woman Prez?" came to a similar conclusion, if a tad more snidely: "Those shots of Barack and Michelle sitting with Oprah on stools had the feel of a smart, all-women talk panel."

As Moe Lane notes, Faludi and the New York Times probably think they are helping with arguments like this.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:08 AM | Politics 2008 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
June 16, 2008
WAR/POLITICS: "I've Never Said That Troops Should Be Withdrawn"

He was against withdrawal before he was for it. H/T. This was April 2004. Note that by early 2007, Obama had moved in the direction of calling for precipitous withdrawal just as the Bush Administration was moving in the opposite direction, increasing our active troop presence....the facts went one way, the Democratic primary voters went the other, and that's where Obama followed. (If you are keeping score, this replaced the subdued, cautious Obama of 2004 with someone more like the Obama who in 2002 pandered to his audience by singling out the Jewish members of Bush's national security team for blame them for the war).


Fast forward to 2008, and is Obama willing to reconsider his position in light of changed facts on the ground? Even Bush, stubborn as he is, agreed to do that in late 2006, when he acceded to the "surge" and accompanying change in counterinsurgency tactics. But Obama refused to even visit Iraq, afraid of what he might learn there (he's taken a similar approach with his refusal to educate himself about Afghanistan). Until this:

So, now, caving to political pressure from McCain, Obama has had to agree to go visit Iraq and Afghanistan. And, in a modest concession to reality, he's now using improved conditions on the ground (as a result of the policy McCain championed and Obama opposed) to justify...continuing to argue for doing what the Democratic primary voters wanted. At the same time, he apparently had to engage in yet another round of Obama-and-his-advisers-disavow-each-other, as Obama today stressed his commitment to withdrawal to the Iraqi foreign minister after this report came out on Friday:

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign managers had reassured Baghdad that if Obama is elected he will not dramatically change Washington's policy towards Iraq and will take into account the opinions of the commanders in the field.

Zebari noted that this reassurance is important, in light of the widespread impression that Obama is expected to completely overturn current policy.

Whatever this is, it's not leadership.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:48 PM | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-16 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Sharpton Shakedown

There are few more reprehensible people in American politics than former Democratic presidential and Senate candidate Rev. Al Sharpton, a man whose litany of public sins and scandals stretches from slander to anti-Semitism to theft to tax evasion to incitement of lethal riots and deadly arson. By Sharpton's own admission in response to a federal investigation that resulted in a raid of his offices in December, "I have probably been under every investigation known to man and I can't remember a time that I've not been under investigation." No decent person would embrace this man.

sharpton_obama2.jpgOf course, Sharpton played his own role in this year's Democratic primaries, playing the 'bad cop' who darkly threatened disorder and litigation if the DNC ruled in favor of Hillary Clinton on the disputed Florida and Michigan delegations. These were not idle threats, as many establishment Democrats recall how Sharpton's falling-out with a pair of white Democrats who had defeated minority candidates in racially-divisive primaries (Bob Abrams, who beat Sharpton in the 1992 Senate primary, and Mark Green, who beat Fernando Ferrer in the 2001 Mayoral primary) contributed to their defeats in the general election. Of course, the DNC caved, awarding Hillary her Florida delegates but effectively handing the nomination to Obama with its ruling on Michigan; mission accomplished. And Gothamist notes that Sharpton's National Action Network does not lack for friends, or at least supplicants, in high places in the Democratic establishment:

Sharpton's organization, a non-profit founded to promote black civil rights, holds a yearly, influential conference in April (last year a who's who in the Democratic party attended, from former President Bill Clinton to Senator Barack Obama, from Senator Hillary Clinton to DNC chair Howard Dean) and attracts corporate sponsorship.

Given his background, the latest news on Sharpton, via an investigation by the New York Post, should surprise absolutely nobody, but it's an instructive look nonetheless in Sharpton's business as usual.

Read More »

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:10 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Blogger Endorses Obama

See here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:48 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Met-a-phor Alert

Even the Magic Apple is AWOL.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:27 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: The Best Pitcher In Baseball?

Best in the business is a fleeting title, but it's also one that's earned over at least some period of time. I've been thinking lately about whether Johan Santana, for a few years now pretty much the undisputed best pitcher in the game, still deserves the title. Let's start by looking back over the past two years to get a sense of who has been the top of the game in that time; you will see just three pitchers who have averaged 200 innings a year since June 16, 2006 with an ERA below 3.47:

Jake Peavy6331160.660412.1328136131301314342.869.472.860.65
Johan Santana6735190.648451.0375167151581074623.
Brandon Webb6737190.661462.1402189165251293773.217.342.510.49

If you think slicing at mid-season too arbitrary, we can go all the way back to the start of 2006, raising the bar along the way to 450 innings. This gives us five pitchers below 3.39:

Brandon Webb8145200.692567.0501217189311424513.
Johan Santana8141230.641547.1457200183691235663.019.312.021.13
John Lackey7235210.625486.0455195170371324013.157.432.440.69
Jake Peavy7635230.603490.1407179174421505193.199.532.750.77
John Smoltz7333190.635465.2442179169431104443.278.582.130.83

Of course, Smoltz is no longer part of this discussion, given that he's out for the rest of the season. Lackey really doesn't quite measure up either, although he has come back quite better than expected this season from an early injury.

Peavy looks impressive at first, but over the longer period his ERA advantage evaporates despite pitching in a great pitcher's park, and he's 60-80 innings behind the leaders. Realistically, it really is a two-horse race between Santana and Webb at this stage. Santana strikes out more batters and thus is less dependent on good defense, as you can see from his lower rate of unearned runs (if you include those, Santana bests Webb 3.29-3.44), while Webb allows far fewer home runs and thus gives his defense more chances to help him. On that evidence, I'd be disinclined to hand off the title to Webb, since Santana's better-equipped to do it all on his own.

On the other hand, if you go back just a year, you get seven pitchers below 3.48:

Brandon Webb342380.742233.019786739571872.827.222.200.35
Tim Hudson3417100.630222.2223837714521343.115.422.100.57
Adam Wainwright3215100.600216.1201867516601483.126.162.500.67
Carlos Zambrano3519100.655227.2194828016951753.166.923.760.63
Johan Santana3316110.593220.2194857831502163.188.812.041.26
Roy Halladay3417110.607250.22421019016471713.236.141.690.57
Felix Hernandez341680.667231.1231948521721883.317.312.800.82

When you look at the numbers that way, Webb begins to take a decided advantage; he's gaining on Santana and pulling away from the crowd. And for one reason: despite playing in a great HR park, Webb has allowed the fewest HR/9 of any pitcher in baseball with 200 innings over the past year (Chien-Ming Wang is the only one close), while Santana is sixth from the bottom (although with just 1 HR allowed in his last 5 starts, there are signs he's getting the problem under control). I don't know if that's quite enough time to crown a new king, but with Santana's velocity off this season from past years, I think if I had to make the call right now, today, I'd take Webb.

It's early yet to start looking at Webb through the prism of great pitching careers, but you'll note that his comps through age 28 (i.e., the end of last season) already include three Hall of Famers (Jim Bunning, Gaylord Perry and Bob Gibson), plus David Cone, and Webb's ERA relative to the league is much better than any of theirs.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:33 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
June 15, 2008
BLOG: 6/15/08 Quick Links

*The idea of a steroid blacklist is not implausible, but it's not the simplest explanation, especially where Barry Bonds is concerned: it seems more likely that no team wants the PR headache and distraction of the disgraced, indicted Bonds. And with guys like Jay Gibbons, there's the double issue of "will he still be any good if he's not juicing?"

*Will Carroll on Secretariat:

Here are the important numbers:
Big Brown (2008 Kentucky Derby): 2:01:82 Affirmed (1977 Kentucky Derby): 2:01 1/5 Secretariat (1973 Kentucky Derby): 1:59 2/5

I don't need the advanced numbers like Beyer Speed Figures to see what's at work here. Big Brown won two legs of the Triple Crown, possibly aided by steroids, but he wasn't as fast as the last Triple Crown winner, and he wasn't as fast as horse racing's Babe Ruth. Steroids didn't make a horse into Superman. Horse expert Michael Hindman said it better than I could:

Secretariat would be Babe Ruth if Babe Ruth had once hit 90 homers in a season and no one else has ever hit more than 50. The gap in physical ability between him and all other thoroughbreds is unlike anything else in sports history. Put it this way: Secretariat was capable of hitting 600-foot homers. Secretariat's 35-year-old Kentucky Derby record time still stands, and nobody has ever come close to it. His 35-year-old world record time at a mile and a half set in the Belmont has never been challenged by any horse ever, anywhere. He ran his mile and a half in 2:24. No other horse--anywhere, ever--has broken 2:25.3. That means that the second best time at a mile and a half, ever, would have been eight lengths behind him. Secretariat also set the world record at a mile and an eighth. He ran once on the grass and set a track record at Belmont Park (again at a mile and a half) that still stands 35 years later. Secretariat ran against and beat the crap out of at least five other Hall of Fame horses. Big Brown is beating one of the worst crops of three year olds ever. By the way, we've used Winstrol and Equipoise on horses from time to time over the years, and as far as I can tell it doesn't do much for them other than run up the vet bill.

*Drill, drill, drill. It's not the long-term answer, but it's appalling that the U.S. insists on preferring to import Saudi and Venezuelan oil rather than do the sorts of routine oil exploration and development that's done everywhere else in the world. Note Gingrich's point about offshore drilling in enviro-conscious Norway.

*The NY Times on the dangers of an inexperienced candidate for president. You know, a lot of Bush-hating liberals respond to questions about Obama's experience by noting Bush's relative inexperience compared to some past candidates...but even if you insist on ignoring the advantages Bush had over Obama, I have to ask: are you saying now that Bush worked out just fine? Because that wasn't what I heard from you up to now.

*Yes, McCain's been busy already in key swing states.

*Excellent 3-part interview with Justice Scalia here, here and here. One excerpt:

In the course of writing the book, you and your co-author, Bryan Garner, consulted more than a dozen judges. Did you learn anything about the habits of your colleagues?

We learned an awful lot from them. Stuff that I didn't know. For example, the part about judges who retro-read.

Read the briefs in reverse.

Yeah. If you're really in a hurry and you don't care about how the lawyers have slaved to make sense out of stuff, it saves time because, as the case goes along, it gets narrower. You pare down. It's good if you really want to find the kernel of a dispute. I didn't know that a lot of judges did that. I don't do it. I don't think it's fair to the lawyers.

I'd have to think that would be counterproductive in a lot of cases where the briefs are loaded with references back to complex facts and defined terms in the beginning, but it's a caution to lawyers to consider how a brief looks like from the back to the front.

*Free speech is so un-French.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:05 AM | Baseball 2008 • | Blog 2006-16 • | Other Sports • | Politics 2008 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
June 13, 2008
BASEBALL: Carlos In The Citi

Matthew Artus at Always Amazin' had a good post the other day on how Shea seems to be more homer-friendly this season, perhaps due to changes in the wind patterns brought about by the construction of Citi Field. Let's look specifically at how the change has affected Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, in recent years the two Mets batters most hurt by Shea - here are their combined home/road splits for 2006-08 (for Runs and RBI I projected the 2008 numbers out to 81 home and 81 road games):


As you can see, though not driven by homers, Dos Carlos are having arguably their best year together at home, or at least comparable to 2006, and that's serving to mask how far they have fallen off on the road.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:38 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Corrupt Democrat Watch

We've started a new series over at RedState - as I explain in the opening post, conservative blogs have not done nearly enough with the vast array of material that comes out regularly about corruption and scandal among Democrats - national, state, local - and we need to play catch-up on that. You can check out this week's installments thus far here, here, here and here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:22 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
June 12, 2008
POLITICS: Guantanamo and A Tale of Two Campaigns

As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out, the core issue in today's detainee decision is the struggle between the power of Congress and the power of the courts: it's not whether the U.S. has the right to detain enemy combatants, and not whether non-U.S. citizen detainees have access to legal process to challenge their detention, but simply whether Congress has a right to define and limit those procedures (as it did by statute in 2005 and 2006), or whether the Supreme Court has absolute authority to require that all procedural rules be determined by the district courts and reviewed by the Supreme Court. For this President and his successor, however, the bottom-line question remains what to do with enemy combatants: continue to hold them at Guantanamo or some similar facility subject to the new procedures, go back to Congress for yet another set of rules, or perhaps ship more detainees off to other countries to handle in their own way.

In a serious world, we'd expect presidential candidates to present competing visions of how to answer both sets of questions. But the responses of the McCain and Obama campaigns to today's decision shows that each is too busy struggling in their own ways with the politics of this issue to address it meaningfully.

Let's start by noting the fact that the two statutes struck down by the Court today were passed by the U.S. Senate, in which both candidates sit. The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, a rider to military appropriations, among other things provided a set of procedures, and limited judicial review, for detainees challenging their enemy combatant status. It passed 90-9, with both McCain and Obama voting in favor. The Court today held "those procedures are not an adequate and effective substitute for habeas corpus." The Military Commissions Act of 2006 specifically precluded the DTA's procedures from being evaded by recourse to habeas corpus review, and eliminated the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over such cases; it passed 65-34, with McCain voting in favor and Obama voting against. The Court held today that the MCA "operates as an unconstitutional suspension of the writ."

How did the candidates respond to the decision? First, the McCain response, as related by Michael Goldfarb at the McCain Report (the excellent official campaign blog):

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: It obviously concerns me. These are unlawful combatants, they are not American citizens, but -- and I think that we should pay attention to [Chief J]ustice Roberts' opinion in this decision -- but it is a decision the Supreme Court has made. Now we need to move forward. As you know, I always favored closing of Guantanamo Bay and I still think that we ought to do that.

McCain's position has always been that these people do not "deserve the protections of the kind of judicial process that a citizen of the United States would have." This is also the position of Chief Justice John Roberts, who dissented from today's ruling, noting that the process already in place included "the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants."

The rest of Goldfarb's post smacks Obama for voting against Roberts. You can tell that Goldfarb would like to go harder after the Court's decision, but the campaign and the candidate are constrained by McCain's own Gitmo-bashing, and so while McCain's response sides with Roberts and the statutes McCain voted for, it has to be somewhat muted on the pragmatic consequences of the decision because McCain isn't really clear on what he himself would do with those detainees.

Obama, meanwhile, is off in his own little world, unconstrained by the facts but therefore unwilling or unable to confront McCain over McCain's actual position:

Today's Supreme Court decision ensures that we can protect our nation and bring terrorists to justice, while also protecting our core values. The Court's decision is a rejection of the Bush Administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo - yet another failed policy supported by John McCain.

It's not clear what Obama means here. First, if the DTA's procedures are themselves "a legal black hole," and if he agrees with the Court that they are inadequate to satisfy due process, why on earth did Obama vote for them? Second, he's ripping McCain for "support" of Bush's Guantanamo policy, completely ignoring the fact that McCain has been calling for some time for shuttering the place. Third, if Obama means that McCain "supported" Bush's policy by voting for the DTA and the MCA, what about Obama's own vote for the DTA?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:32 PM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-16 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
WAR/LAW: Unintended Consequences

I don't have nearly the time and space here to do justice to today's opinions on enemy combatants, starting with the decision in Boumediene v. Bush, extending habeas corpus to foreign nationals detained at Guantanamo (which I partially summarized over at RedState as it broke, before I had to stop to deal with a decision of the Court in which I was directly involved). I'd highly recommend the scathing dissents of Chief Justice Roberts, who explains why the Court should not have decided that the Congressionally enacted procedures provided to detainees were inadequate without either (1) seeing how those procedures worked in practice or (2) explaining in any detail how the procedures required by the Court would be different, and Justice Scalia, who explains why the Court got the basic question of the historical scope of habeas wrong and illustrates the lethal consequences of today's decision.

But I'd like to highlight two points from today's opinions that illustrate some unintended consequences, and why in the end they may not accomplish the results claimed for them. Specifically, today's decisions will hasten the process of handing off detainees to foreign governments while protracting rather than accelerating the legal process for determining the status of detainees.

The first comes from the Court's less-publicized unanimous decision today in Munaf v. Geren, which held that while habeas extends to U.S. citizens detained by the Multinational Force-Iraq, the writ cannot be used to prevent the U.S. from transferring U.S. citizen detainees to the Iraqi government if it has warrants for their arrest for, essentially, being enemy combatants:

Munaf and Omar are alleged to have committed hostile and warlike acts within the sovereign territory of Iraq during ongoing hostilities there. Pending their criminal prosecution for those offenses, Munaf and Omar are being held in Iraq by American forces operating pursuant to a U. N. Mandate and at the request of the Iraqi Government. Petitioners concede that Iraq has a sovereign right to prosecute them for alleged violations of its law. Yet they went to federal court seeking an order that would allow them to defeat precisely that sovereign authority. Habeas corpus does not require the United States to shelter such fugitives from the criminal justice system of the sovereign with authority to prosecute them.

(Presumably, the same rule would apply to non-citizens). This, despite the fact that the Iraqi justice system is obviously not precisely equivalent to our own in terms of procedural protections. The Court also rejected the idea that a U.S. court could prevent transfer of the prisoners based on their claim that they might be tortured by the Iraqis, although the Court did note that there was not a record of a likelihood of torture, and three Justices would have left the door open for courts to review "whether substantive due process bars the Government from consigning its own people to torture."

What does this mean? Well, it means that detainees at Guantanamo could be transferred out of the reach of the new habeas process if the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq or other allies (some of whom have been known to swiftly behead such people upon their transfer) request that we do so. In other words, if the new procedures prove onerous in practice or run the risk of revealing classified information to our enemies, the unintended consequence of the decision to strike down procedures enacted by the U.S. Congress may be instead to substitute procedures provided by the Afghan or Iraqi governments. (Can you say, "rendition," boys and girls? I knew you could!) Even five Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court cannot repeal the law of unintended consequences.

The second point, on the question of swift justice, is explained by the Chief Justice in Boumediene:

The Court is ... concerned that requiring petitioners to pursue "DTA review before proceeding with their habeas corpus actions" could involve additional delay. ...The nature of the habeas remedy the Court instructs lower courts to craft on remand, however, is far more unsettled than the process Congress provided in the DTA. See ante, at 69 ("[O]ur opinion does not address the content of the law that governs petitioners' detention. That is a matter yet to be determined"). There is no reason to suppose that review according to procedures the Federal Judiciary will design, case by case, will proceed any faster than the DTA process petitioners disdained. On the contrary, the system the Court has launched (and directs lower courts to elaborate) promises to take longer. The Court assures us that before bringing their habeas petitions, detainees must usually complete the CSRT process.... Then they may seek review in federal district court. Either success or failure there will surely result in an appeal to the D. C. Circuit - exactly where judicial review starts under Congress's system. The effect of the Court's decision is to add additional layers of quite possibly redundant review. And because nobody knows how these new layers of "habeas" review will operate, or what new procedures they will require, their contours will undoubtedly be subject to fresh bouts of litigation. If the majority were truly concerned about delay, it would have required petitioners to use the DTA process that has been available to them for 2 1/2 years, with its Article III review in the D. C. Circuit. That system might well have provided petitioners all the relief to which they are entitled long before the Court's newly installed habeas review could hope to do so.

Of course, the question as to whether additional delay is a bad thing depends on whose intentions are at stake. For a detainee who is actually improperly held in custoday, delay is a bad thing, because it means more time in Gitmo. But for those who are genuinely enemy combatants, more delay is wonderful - more ability to tie up U.S. personnel and resources in courtroom battles, more publicity for their "cause," more grinding down of U.S. morale as expensive court proceedings drag on and provide political fodder for critics of the mission and the military. Like the exclusionary rule in criminal procedure (which excludes illegally seized evidence of guilt but gives no remedy to the innocent), the Court has managed to create a perverse system that burdens anyone who might actually be deserving of a remedy, while rewarding those who seek to game the system to the disadvantage of the nation. Gee, thanks.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:02 PM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2008 • | War 2007-16 | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)
June 11, 2008
BASEBALL: Tale of Two Joneses

Even knowing this, seeing it in print is amazing: over the past 365 days, Chipper Jones is batting .379/.465/.628. And at the far end of the scale is his old teammate Andruw, batting .207/.292/.363. You'd never know that Chipper's the one who is 36, and Andruw 31.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:21 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Really, I don't even know what to say after last night's Mets fiasco. Certainly we have further evidence that, while Duaner Sanchez has looked good at times this year, he's nowhere close yet to being a reliable clutch reliever; there are still too many days he has nothing at all. But the Mets' hole has gotten enormously worse now that they are chasing the Phillies rather than the Marlins. It has started to get late early.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Sister Souljah For President!

Oklahoma Democratic Congressman Dan Boren's announcement that he won't be endorsing Barack Obama is a moment of clarity. For much of the campaign, people have been waiting to see how Barack Obama would pivot away from pandering to the Democratic primary electorate to a general election stance. Waiting for him to "triangulate" some distance from his base, waiting for a "Sister Souljah moment," like in 1992 when Bill Clinton denounced that otherwise undistinguished rapper for her comment that black people should take a week off from killing each other and kill white people instead. Obama has had to flee under pressure from his own chuch, he's had to disown or distance himself from a variety of his associates, but those were forced, grudging acts; in no case has he gone out of his way to demonstrate his independence from left-wing dogma, and on some issues (like school choice) he has instead come crawling back timidly after seeming to question the Left's orthodoxy.

By now, it is clear: unlike Clinton or John McCain, when Obama is involved in triangulation, it will be his own party comrades triangulating away from him. Remember, Clinton made such a splash in 1992 precisely because these things had not been done in the past - Dukakis, Mondale and McGovern never did anything to divorce themselves from the Hard Left of the party. By now, it is clear: there will be no Sister Souljah moment by Obama because he is Sister Souljah, the very sort of peace-at-any-price, you-can-never-have-enough-tax-hikes, abortion-in-and-out-of-the-womb zealot that other Democrats need to run away from. Boren's not the first, and he won't be the last one.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:24 AM | Politics 2008 | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)
June 10, 2008
POLITICS: No Obama-Strickland

Well, cross off Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland from Obama's potential VP list, as he has ruled out running in the most unambiguous terms. For a variety of reasons, I always thought he was an unlikely pick. Strickland on Obama's chances in Ohio:

When asked to rank the degree of difficulty of Obama carrying Ohio, Strickland says: "I would say somewhere around 5 in a scale of 1 to 10. I think it's, I just think it's a challenge because of the nature of our state."

Ohio as a true tossup sounds about right at this stage. As in Virginia, the Ohio GOP has made a terrible mess of its own house, and that combined with the perenially weak Ohio economy has given Democrats an opportunity in the state. But McCain's relatively popular in Ohio, and Obama got crushed there in the primaries. Much will turn on turnout, as the polls consistently show a McCain lead among likely voters, but a strong Obama position in polls of all registered voters. (One wild card: Bush won an unusually high proportion of African-American voters in Ohio in 2004 - 16% compared to 9% in 2000 - due perhaps to the same-sex marriage ballot initiative and the support of Ken Blackwell; that won't happen against Obama).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:00 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

MT ate my last post this morning, so let me just summarize:

*The Reds are on pace to strike out 1,298 batters this year. Four starters and five relievers are hanging around a batter per inning.

*The all-time record is 1,404 by the also-Dusty-Baker-managed 2003 Cubs. Hopefully, the Reds young pitchers will fare better over the long haul.

*The AL record is 1,266 by the 2001 Yankees.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:58 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The New Jimmy Carter

Given John McCain's and Barack Obama's ages, and Obama's "cool" branding, there was already inevitably going to be a generation gap in the voting in this year's election, but I have to believe that you are going to see a particularly sharp divide over one line: voters who are old enough to remember Jimmy Carter.

I've noted previously some of the similarities between Carter and Obama's combination of idealism, good-government rhetoric and timid and pessimistic worldview. I'm basically at the tail end of the generation that remembers the disaster of the Carter years: I'm 36 and I remember yellow ribbons and "America held hostage" and gas lines and inflation (i.e., the cost of a 2-liter of Pepsi at the supermarket kept going up) and Afghanistan and 'malaise'. I can still picture one of those Scholastic publications we were assigned in 4th grade - little red paper-covered magazine with a big graphic on the front of Carter, Reagan and John Anderson over the White House, and short summaries inside of their general positions on the major issues. We watched Reagan's inauguration in school, and the assassination attempt as well.

Carter was bad enough that you didn't need to be out of grade school to understand why. In fact, you needed a graduate degree to not understand.

California Yankee notes that John McCain is picking up this theme as well:

Of course, it's not just Carter that Obama's a rerun of:

That's why the whole Obama phenomenon, despite some of its new racial trappings, is so comfortably familiar to GOP activists and strategists. Republicans know how to face off against Carter, Mondale, McGovern, Dukakis, Cuomo, Dinkins, etc. We've seen this movie before. Even in 1976, the GOP put on a furious stretch run as the public got a closer look behind Carter's platitudes, and he ended up winning the election by 2 points after leading by more than 30 in July polls.

PS - This is a classic. But he forgot the top level, "Commander in Chief"

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:31 AM | Politics 2008 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Prior Damage

David Pinto links to some interesting speculation that Mark Prior's shoulder woes may have begun with a 2003 collision with Marcus Giles. Note that while Prior had a great second half in 2003, it's still possible that this was the beginning of the damage that would reveal itself later (interestingly, Giles also had a monster second half that year and also hasn't been the same player since).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:24 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Indiana Jones of the Fourth Kind

I took the kids Saturday to see the fourth Indiana Jones movie, and I must say, it exceeded my expectations, which I had worked to keep modest. You have to remember that the original Indiana Jones movies were not such film legends because they were compelling human drama or fantastically realistic; rather, they succeeded because they offered three things:

1. A classic action hero (I know I was a minority in enjoying Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, but the film was nonetheless a vivid reminder of how much a film like that loses when it has a bland hero instead of a charismatic swashbuckler);

2. Non-stop action that keeps you on the edge of your seat too consistently to allow for reflection on the amount of disbelief you have to suspend; and

3. A tongue-in-cheek attitude towards the fact that this is a movie; they were supposed to be a fun throwback to the action films of the 30s and 40s, and all three of the originals had their share of explicit winks to film convention or homages to specific films of old.

I was reminded of this by recently re-watching them. All three are still a lot of fun, but there's still plenty that's outright preposterous, from the action sequences to the romantic dialogue to the 'monologuing' villains to the inevitable deus ex machina supernatural ending. Temple of Doom, which may have been my favorite of the three when I saw it in the theater as a young teenager, has undoubtedly aged the worst and/or holds up the worst when watched as an adult (it's also the most politically incorrect of the three), although the opening action sequence remains a classic.

On to the new installment (a few very mild spoilers, but the main spoilers will be below the fold). First of all, Harrison Ford's still got it. He looks great for his age, but he definitely looks his age (65); he basically defines "grizzled" at this point. And he's still got some of the old charm, much moreseo than in interviews with the real Ford, who has been a crusty old man for years now. That said, Indy comes off as more serious and sober now, which is inevitable with the passage of years (we're reminded early on that Indy's father has died - Sean Connery chose not to return for the film - as has Indy's professorial colleague Marcus Brody, played by the late Denholm Elliott; John Rhys-Davies' absence is not explained, and mercifully Short Round does not turn up). We are definitely given to believe that in the years between 1939 and 1957, treasure hunting and womanizing have had to take a back seat to the grim business of defending the free world from Nazis and Communists, a reality that's consistent not only with the world's history at that time but with why Lucas and Spielberg originally set the first three films before the outbreak of world war, when it was still possible for an American rogue to travel the world and fight the bad guys without a lot of friendly military help or polarized local resistance. Indy by now, like Han Solo in the later Star Wars flicks, has largely been absorbed into the chain of command. In fact, an early plotline about Indy being the victim of a sort of McCarthyism (in today's Hollywood, you can't have Commie bad guys without a little McCarthyism, even as late as 1957) serves mostly to ensure that Indy can function once again as a free agent.

The second really crucial decision was bringing back Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood to be Indy's love interest rather than pair up Ford with some young starlet. Not only does this spare us the spectacle of a woman in her twenties or thirties falling for a guy twice her age, but by bringing back the best of Indy's old flames, we get to skip almost entirely over the whole process of flirtation and courtship, which almost invariably goes down badly in a George Lucas film, and stick to the action. When you see Indy and Marion together, you don't need to be sold on their immediate attraction; it's baked into the characters and our history with them. And the 56-year-old Allen is still appealing, even cute if you can apply that word to a woman her age who - like Ford - definitely looks her age.

The movie has plenty of fun action sequences, my favorite being a lengthy, rollicking chase sequence in the Peruvian jungle that borrows very liberally from the speeder bike sequence in Return of the Jedi and features the meanest ants since Them. Early on, we also get to see Indy one-up Jack Bauer by surviving the shockwave from a nuclear blast, which is amusingly ludicrous.

Lucas and Spielberg, as children of the 50s (in Lucas' case, also a veteran of the first wave of 50s nostalgia with American Graffiti), lovingly slather on every detail, both realistic and cliched, to evoke the time period, from Elvis to malt-shop bobby-soxers to "I Like Ike" to the Red Scare. There are more than a few obvious tips of the hat (some literal, some figurative) to the prior movies as well as to other films. The most obvious is when Shia Lebeouf, with his hair compulsively slicked back to look like a ringer for James Dean, makes his first appearance dressed exactly like Marlon Brando in The Wild One:


More spoilers below

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:18 AM | Pop Culture | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS/LAW: In Case You Missed It

The First Circuit yesterday rejected a variety of constitutional challenges to "Don't Ask Don't Tell" under the Supreme Court's Lawrence v. Texas decision.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:10 AM | Law 2006-08 • | Politics 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
June 9, 2008
FOOTBALL: Strahan Retires

A blow to the Giants, even with his successor in place. Strahan definitely retires as one of the great Giants on a franchise with a long and distinguished history of outstanding defensive players.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:18 PM | Football | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Legends, Unclassified

Dugout Central has two interesting pieces, one an interview with John Paciorek (Tom's brother, who famously reached base in all five of his Major League plate appearances), the other an argument for Bill James for the Hall of Fame, which seems like a no-brainer to me - I'd put him in with Alexander Cartwright and Henry Chadwick myself, since an innovator is just as valuable as a pioneer.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:01 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

dingdong.JPGRepublicans and conservatives should not let go entirely the departure of Hillary Clinton from the national stage, possibly permanently as anything but a Senator, without some expression of joy. Many of us came to a grudging respect of Hillary during the Democratic primaries, for her sheer tenacity and willingness to ruthlessly exploit Obama's most obvious vulnerabilities. But she remains a loathesome figure for so many reasons, and as Peggy Noonan reminds us, it is a good thing to at long last put the Clintons behind us. It is, more broadly, a good thing simply to move on, whether you like them or not, from the Clintons and the Bushes, simply because so much of political discourse gets locked into justifying or besmirching the past. Of course, we still fight about Reagan's legacy, or FDR's, for that matter, but not with the same intensity now that the protagonists are no longer personally at issue in the next election.

Yes, there's a downside to turning back on the dynasties. Hillary might well have been the stronger general election candidate than Obama, and certainly the more experienced one. The GOP primaries suffered from the visible absence of Jeb Bush, who absent his family ties to the current president would almost certainly have been the natural frontrunner, after 8 years as the successful, popular, conservative, and articulate governor of a major 'swing' state that he has largely transformed into a dependably solid GOP stronghold, and even after repeatedly demonstrating his expertise in the specific area where his brother took the greatest hit to his reputation (hurricane-response management).

But while I think Noonan consistently overplays her antipathy to Bush and understates the radically ideological nature of the Obama campaign (like so many observers, she seems more interested in Obama as a symbol than as a human being campaigning to do an important job and enact specific policies), I have to agree with her that saying goodbye to all that has to be a healthy thing for the country, at least for now.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:58 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
HOCKEY: Hasek Hangs Em Up

Dominik Hasek has retired, after being part of his second Stanley Cup title team. I don't profess to follow hockey that closely, but surely given his amazing longetivity and some of his eye-popping numbers (since they started keeping track, Hasek is the career leader in "save percentage"), I'd assume he has to be a significant part of any conversation about the greatest goalies in NHL history.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:39 PM | Other Sports | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
FOOTBALL/LAW: Commerce? We're Students!

You know, I'm not really an expert on this particular corner of antitrust law, so maybe I'm missing a good, persuasive argument for why this rule makes sense, but I have to express some cognitive dissonance at the Sixth Circuit throwing out a lawsuit by a former Kentucky assistant football coach on the grounds, among others, that the NCAA rule enforcement process is not subject to the antitrust laws because it does not involve commercial activity:

In order to state a claim under the Sherman Act there must be a commercial activity implicated....the appropriate inquiry is whether the rule itself is commercial, not whether the entity promulgating the rule is commercial.... Although the question before us is whether the enforcement activities of NCAA violate the Sherman Act and not a particular rule, the analysis must focus on the enforcement action itself and not NCAA as a commercial entity....Bassett's Complaint contains considerable information on the size and scope of college football and the revenues generated by it. The Complaint is wholly devoid of any allegation on the commercial nature of NCAA's enforcement of the rules it determined Bassett had violated. Bassett's Complaint contends NCAA's enforcement process violated its own due process requirements and, as a result, constitutes a Sherman Act violation. We find Bassett's Complaint lacks the critical commercial activity component required to permit application of the Sherman Act.

...NCAA's rules on recruiting student athletes, specifically those rules prohibiting improper inducements and academic fraud, are all explicitly noncommercial. In fact, those rules are anti-commercial and designed to promote and ensure competitiveness amongst NCAA member schools. Violation of the applicable NCAA rules gives the violator a decided competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining highly prized student athletes. It also violates the spirit of amateur athletics by providing remuneration to athletes in exchange for their commitments to play for the violator's football program. Finally, violators of these rules harm the student-athlete academically when coaches and assistants complete coursework on behalf of the student-athlete.

If the rules themselves and the corresponding sanctions are not commercial, as the reasoning
in Smith supports, then the enforcement of those rules cannot be commercial. As long as the
enforcement of non-commercial rules is reasonably and rationally related to the rules themselves, we find enforcement is a non-commercial activity.

I'm not saying the rule should be different, since there is much to be said for keeping NCAA decisions of this nature from turning into federal lawsuits. But one gets the sense that the salami is being sliced rather narrowly here.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:29 PM | Football • | Law 2006-08 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
June 8, 2008
BASEBALL: Making History (Of A Sort)

Via Attila, the Mets contribute to the Padres earning an odd place in history.

As for today's fiasco, I turned away for a minute from a 6-4 lead and it was 8-6...Billy Wagner sure has had awful timing for a guy who is otherwise having a fine year.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:35 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
June 7, 2008
BASEBALL: Bury The Tigers

The news that Jeremy Bonderman is done for the season is about the official nail in the coffin for the massively underachieving Tigers. More on this to follow, but there was probably no greater unexpected disappointment than Detroit's starting rotation this season.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 4:01 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
SPORTS: Spanning The World No More

RIP Jim McKay, the eternal face of the Olympics and Wide World of Sports.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:59 PM | Other Sports | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
June 6, 2008
POLITICS: Pick Your Favorite Part of the Farm Bill! Bipartisan Socialism and The Audacity of Corporate Welfare.
Farm policy, although it's complex, can be explained. What it can't be is believed. No cheating spouse, no teen with a wrecked family car, no mayor of Washington, DC, videotaped in flagrante delicto has ever come up with anything as farfetched as U.S. farm policy.

-P.J. O'Rourke.

So yesterday, the United States Senate voted to pass into law H.R. 6124, the "Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008," already passed by the House, in both cases by a veto-proof majority, rendering irrelevant the belatedly principled stand of President Bush, who promises a veto.* Chances are pretty good that your Congressperson and at least one of your Senators voted for this atrocity, which passed the House 306-110 and the Senate 77-15, despite valiant efforts to slow down the bill by Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn. Like all really horrendous things to come out of Washington, this load of legislative fertilizer has broad bipartisan support. So give thanks for the hardy few Senators - 13 Republicans and two Rhode Island Democrats - who voted "no" (as well as the lengtier list of their 98 Republican and 12 Democratic House counterparts you can find here):

Bennett (R-UT), Hatch (R-UT), Coburn (R-OK), Collins (R-ME), DeMint (R-SC), Domenici (R-NM), Ensign (R-NV), Hagel (R-NE), Kyl (R-AZ), Lugar (R-IN), Murkowski (R-AK), Sununu (R-NH), Voinovich (R-OH), Reed (D-RI) Whitehouse (D-RI)

In case you are wondering, John McCain and Barack Obama missed the vote, but McCain says he would have vetoed the bill "and all others like it that serve only the cause of special interests and corporate welfare" and because farm subsidies threaten free trade, whereas Obama is proud to support precisely the kind of legislation that has made Washington so roundly popular with the public (in Obama's statement, he says "I applaud the Senate's passage today of the Farm Bill, which will provide America's hard-working farmers and ranchers with more support and more predictability." So much for "Change").**

Anyway, in honor of this occasion, I ask you to submit your vote for your favorite provision of this new federal law, which your elected representatives have enacted on your behalf. See, Democracy works! Read On...

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:09 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
June 5, 2008
BASEBALL/LAW: Watch For Bats

The New York Court of Appeals (the state's highest court) today affirmed the dismissal of a baseball-related personal injury suit:

While at a ballpark, plaintiff sustained injuries when a baseball player in an off-field on-deck batting circle struck her with a bat. Because plaintiff concededly observed batting equipment and players swinging bats in the area where the accident occurred, the Appellate Division correctly held that she had assumed the risk of her injuries, and properly affirmed the Supreme Court order dismissing the complaint.

The fact description is pretty sparse, but this seems a sensible enough rule at least in cases where the batter didn't throw the bat and she just got too close to somebody swinging a bat.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:56 PM | Baseball 2008 • | Law 2006-08 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
FOOTBALL: Most Fierce

judgeyou.JPGCBS Sportsline sent me an email promoting this contest to name....the "Most Fierce NFL Mascot."

At least they didn't say "Most Fiercest." Be thankful for the little things.

As for the contest, other than Pat Patriot I was blissfully ignorant of any of the macots. Football just doesn't lend itself to mascots that well, especially pro football. Although I suspect "Raider Fans" will win the poll.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:47 PM | Football | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Doomed in Seattle

Pinto links to a Seattle report suggesting that John McLaren is probably toast. I'd add that in the worlds of politics and law you see the same dynamic noted by the Seattle writer:

Now, I have a firm belief about managers and coaches who go bonkers. I call it the Cuckoo Principle. When they go cuckoo, that's it. They're done. It works in almost every case, except for Guillen. The White Sox manager is incessantly cuckoo and blessed with the cushion of a World Series. But even his time will arrive soon.

An explosion is always proof that either you've lost the grip on your team, or you're struggling with the pressures of the job. McLaren had to be provoked to act out of character.

PS - McLaren is a good data point for not sacking the manager in mid-season without a ready replacement. Yes, Hargrove quit, but the point is that McLaren was not the long-term answer for Seattle.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:38 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
POP CULTURE: Catch That Pigeon!

Your nostalgia for the day:

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:26 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: 10 Cent Beer Night

Paul Jackson at has a lengthy and entertaining look back at how cheap beer went wrong one night in Cleveland in 1974. I found this detail, harking back to the 1932 opening of Municipal Stadium, fascinating:

Their new home, the first sports venue built entirely with public financing, seated 74,400 fans -- making it by far the largest stadium in America at the time -- and sacrificed comfort for quantity. First announced in 1928, the scale of the building led to rumors that Cleveland might bid for the 1932 Summer Olympics, which eventually went to Los Angeles. Though such a proposal wasn't submitted, the fact that Cleveland's civic leaders would even dream of an Ohio Olympiad suggests that, at the time, this was a city squinting into a bright future.

In 1928, Cleveland supplanted St. Louis as America's fifth largest metropolis. Just three years later, the city was closing in on fourth-place Detroit. With Cleveland's shoes growing a full size every decade, civic planners designed a sports stadium roomy enough to accommodate thousands of citizens who had not yet arrived. They did not realize that their city's growth spurt was over, nor could they have anticipated the decades of sullen adolescence just over the horizon.

Read the whole thing. Soak in the irony of the "winning" manager of a game forfeited on account of unruly drunks being Billy Martin.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:01 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
June 4, 2008
SCIENCE: Appealing To Our Imagination And Aspirations

And people say that the space program has lost the ability to awe and inspire.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:20 PM | Science | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Obamomentum - End-of-the-Primaries Edition

Now that the Democratic primaries are finally over, let's take one last look at the charts I have been running for some time now (see here, here and here) of the Democratic presidential primary popular vote totals for the months of March, April, May and now June. (Source: RCP, except I used CNN's updated figures for Montana) - "margin," of course, is Obama's margin of victory/defeat in each primary:

South Dakota6/343,72654,179-10,453
Puerto Rico6/1121,458263,120-141,662
West Virginia5/1391,652239,062-147,410
North Carolina5/6887,391657,669+229,722
Rhode Island3/475,316108,949-33,633

In other words, Obama ends the last 3 months of the primary season more than 600,000 votes in the hole, losing the popular vote decisively to Hillary over a stretch of 16 primaries in which 13 million votes were cast. In percentage terms, Hillary's 4.52% margin of victory for that period is larger than the general election margins of Bush over Kerry in 2004, Carter over Ford in 1976, Nixon over Humphery in 1968, Truman over Dewey in 1948, and just a point smaller than that of Clinton over Bush in 1992. He lost six different primaries by margins of 100,000 or more votes. All this during the time period when he should have been sealing the deal with Democratic voters after having taken what looked at the time like a decisive, momentum-tipping lead in mid-February. The final insult was losing South Dakota, a state he was widely projected to win and in which he led decisively in the few polls taken until the last day or two before the election, and which cast its ballots while the vultures were visibly circling Hillary's campaign.*

It's Obama's weakness in that period even within his own party that has to be troubling to Democrats pondering his chances in November. Recall that Obama faced virtually no serious scrutiny until he pulled within 20 points of Hillary in the national popular vote in mid-December in the immediate aftermath of Oprah's campaign appearances on his behalf (he didn't pull within single digits until after he won Iowa); it was only after he was christened the clear frontrunner that he started to take serious fire, beginning in late February and early March with Hillary's "3 a.m." ad, the Goolsbee/NAFTA flap, and of course the Rev. Wright story, and continuing with the accumulation his radical left-wing associations, his endless stream of verbal flubs, and his ever-growing list of friends, mentors and staffers cast under the bus. Jay Cost has a great series of posts (start here) on the demographic breakdown of how and where Hillary beat Obama; consider this, among his many charts, looking at the states Bush won in 2004 that the Democrats would have some hope (and, obviously, need) to pick off in 2008:


That there is not much of a winning coalition in most parts of this country.

Let's also wrap up my look at turnout, using the same baseline as before (the number of votes in 2006 for House Democrats in the state) - this time, I'll just run the chart just for the same time period (the full chart and explanation of sources is here), but leaving out Puerto Rico, where I used a different and ultimately inaccurate baseline to capture the relatively disappointing turnout:

State2006 House D VoteDateVotes*Turnout

Turnout started to tail off after the early May primaries. In general, through the primaries and caucuses (especially caucuses), Obama tended to do better in the lower turnout states, but we see here that at the very end, he did better in Montana, which had fairly robust turnout, than in South Dakota, where even adjusting for the fact that Stephanie Herseth's 2006 victory may set an unrealistically high bar for turnout, the turnout was quite low.

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:29 AM | Politics 2008 • | Poll Analysis | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Not A Moment Too Soon

Let's just lay down a marker here: the Mets were 28-28 before Pedro returned last night.

Yes, we saw vividly in last year's stretch run that adding Pedro, even Pedro pitching very well, is no cure-all, and yes, he's still got to stay healthy the rest of the way. But it sure is good to have the old master back.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
June 3, 2008

You really don't, if you're a Nationals fan, want to see Ryan Zimmerman and Dr. Andrews mentioned in the same article.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:27 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL/LAW: A Win For Fantasy Sports

Supreme Court refuses to step in:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by Major League Baseball Advanced Media and the players association in their case against CDM Fantasy Sports. The justices' decision ends a bitter legal fight that lasted more than three years.

St. Louis-based CDM in 2006 won the right in federal district court to use major league players' names and statistics in commercial fantasy games without a license. That set off a lengthy series of appeals from MLBAM and the union that mushroomed into a case with significant implications for all of celebrity licensing.

Read the whole thing for the implications.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:09 AM | Baseball 2008 • | Law 2006-08 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
June 2, 2008
POLITICS: Nobody's Too Far Left For Obama

Erick Erickson has a dynamite, exclusive and exhaustively researched post on the nature and history of the socialist New Party, whose endorsement Obama sought and received in his initial 1996 run for the Illinois State Senate. A must read. Make sure you follow as well the link to Rick Moran's post.

Note that the website Moran links to, the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, carried this charming endorsement for Obama for Congress in 2000:

Barak Obama is serving only his second term in the Illinois State Senate so he might be fairly charged with ambition, but the same might have be said of Bobby Rush when he ran against Congressman Charles Hayes. Obama also has put in time at the grass roots, working for five years as a community organizer in Harlem and in Chicago. When Obama participated in a 1996 UofC YDS Townhall Meeting on Economic Insecurity, much of what he had to say was well within the mainstream of European social democracy.

The more you look, the more you see.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:51 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Verrry Disappointing

Oliver Perez is really not making himself a compelling case for a big contract in the offseason.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:46 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
BASEBALL: Your Stat of the Day

HR by 2B, NL East, entering tonight's action:

PHI 20
FLA 17

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:28 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

People who use bad analogies are just like child rapists.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:25 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
June 1, 2008
POLITICS: Puerto Rico Polling

Just a note: I'll update the Obamomentum charts after Tuesday's balloting. From CNN's report on Hillary's victory in today's Puerto Rico primary, it appears that turnout was much, much lower than my back-of-the-envelope projection from the 2004 general gubernatorial election, but Hillary's margin of victory was still 142,000 votes due to her overwhelming 68%-32% margin. In other words, this is the sixth time in three months that Obama has lost a primary by 100,000+ votes.

UPDATE: Patrick Ruffini notes the wide margin by which Hillary's victory exceeded late polls. There are a number of possible explanations for this - perhaps the polling was done poorly, perhaps people who say they will vote for Obama are just disproportionately unlikely to show up to vote, perhaps people even in Puerto Rico are unwilling to admit on the telephone that they are not voting for Obama - but it does rather undermine the idea that Obama's persistent underachieving of the polls and exit polls is just a feature of racist white people.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:47 PM | Politics 2008 • | Poll Analysis | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Michael Kinsley Does Not Get It

Michael Kinsley thinks that Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn are not really such a big deal except to the extent they inadvertently helped Republicans:

Ayers and Dohrn never posed any real threat to U.S. national security. Their asinine chatter about killing people and their anti-American sloganeering were as ineffective as their bombs. But they did real harm. Their victims were liberals: the millions of people who were part of the mainstream antiwar movement and who later voted against Ronald Reagan...perhaps you can imagine how infuriating it was to the organizers of the big marches on Washington--struggling to keep them peaceful--that there were people of the left effectively in cahoots with the Nixon Administration, determined to undermine all those efforts.

Um, no. Kinsley admits right up front in the article the violent radicalism of the Weather Underground and related organizations and their (and, specifically, Dohrn's) implication in, among other atrocities, the 1981 Brink's armored car robbery at the Nanuet Mall in my hometown, a robbery that killed Nyack Police Officer Waverly Brown, Nyack Police Sergeant Ed O'Grady and Brink's security guard Pete Paige, who collectively left behind three widows and six fatherless children, the youngest six months of age. I can promise you that I would not associate willingly with the likes of Ayers and Dohrn if they were on fire and I was carrying a bucket of water. Nor would most of the people who remember the Brink's case. Kinsley and Obama, perhaps, were still too angry about Nixon and Reagan to care.

windshield.jpgThe problem with folks like Ayers and Dohrn was not that they made the political lives of liberals difficult. Their real victims were the people killed by their organization. I vividly remember the Brink's robbery; it was the biggest news story ever in Rockland County. When I worked at the Rockland DA's office for a summer they took us to see the evidence, including the super-thick windshield glass from the armored Brink's truck that had a huge hole blown in it by their shotguns and M-16s.

So, maybe Ayers and Dohrn were not actually going to bring the United States to its knees. They did quite enough harm, thank you. Tim McVeigh never posed any real threat to U.S. national security, either. Nor did Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, or the Klu Klux Klan. Would Kinsley be unconcerned about a presidential candidate who counted those associations among his friends? Maybe next he'll just explain it away as a necessary part of politics, like pandering to Marxists.

Kinsley instead suggests that at worst Obama is sorely lacking in....judgment:

If Obama's relationship with Ayers, however tangential, exposes Obama as a radical himself, or at least as a man with terrible judgment, he shares that radicalism or terrible judgment with a comically respectable list of Chicagoans and others--including Republicans and conservatives--who have embraced Ayers and Dohrn as good company, good citizens, even experts on children's issues. Northwestern created a "family justice" center for Dohrn to run. Ayers is a "distinguished professor" at the University of Illinois. They write Op-Eds and are often quoted in the Tribune, where, if they are identified at all beyond their academic titles, it is usually as "activists" who have never abandoned their noble ideals.

Barack Obama: judgment no worse than that of Chicago academics and newspapermen. What an endorsement.

I'll leave you with some people who one would have preferred to associate with, but who don't seem to be the types that run in Barack Obama's circles:

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Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:29 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)