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When You’re Insane, It’s Always 1938 and Iran is Capable of Conquering Europe by 2012

[ 20 ] October 30, 2007 |

To Rudy Giuliani’s foreign policy non-braintrust, it’s all Hitler all the time.

Anthony J. Kennedy’s Great Moments in Medical Practice

[ 0 ] October 30, 2007 |

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“While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude that some women shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about manly medical treatment.”

Looking for information about Lurleen Wallace — George’s wife and briefly the proxy governor of Alabama when her husband was term-limited out — I found this:

She had made her gubernatorial run carrying a tragic secret. Lurleen Wallace had been diagnosed with cancer as early as April 1961, when her surgeon biopsied suspicious tissue he noticed during the cesarean delivery of her last child. As was common at the time, her physician told her husband, not her. George Wallace insisted that Lurleen not be informed. As a result, she did not get appropriate follow-up care. When she saw a gynecologist for abnormal bleeding in 1965, his diagnosis of uterine cancer came as a complete shock to her. When one of her husband’s staffers carelessly revealed to her that Wallace had discussed her cancer with them, but not her, during his 1962 campaign three years earlier, she was outraged.

In order to facilitate his plan to use her as a surrogate candidate in 1966, Mrs. Wallace cooperated with a campaign of dissimulation and misdirection as she began radiation therapy in December, 1965. This was followed by a hysterectomy in January 1966. Despite her ill health, Mrs. Wallace maintained a brutal campaign schedule throughout 1966 and gave a 24-minute speech — her longest ever — at her January 1967 inauguration.

Depressingly, Wallace’s political heirs have in addition to using federal spending power to deny women appropriate medical advice added such innovations as using state coercion to force doctors to give women psudeoscientific propaganda and restricting their access to safe medical services.

James and the Red Sox

[ 0 ] October 30, 2007 |

Since I’ve been a fan since I purchased the 1985 Baseball Abstract on a whim and among other great stuff saw that he published a hilarious attack on bane-of-my-youthful-Expos-fan-existence Bill Virdon, I enjoyed this take on James and the success of the Red Sox:

One of the first things Epstein did was to hire James, as a senior consultant to the Red Sox organization. In the four years since, the Red Sox, who hadn’t won a World Series in 85 years, have reached baseball’s pinnacle twice.

Some of the central themes of James’ work apply particularly well to his own story. For example: An expert is someone who knows what he’s talking about, whether he has any credentials or not. Past performance is the best predictor of future performance. Talent is not in short supply. The qualities that impress people are not necessarily the same qualities that correlate with success. Powerful, wealthy institutions can be run for decades by people who don’t know what they’re doing. And the conventional wisdom is often wrong.

These ideas, obviously, can be applied far beyond the subject of baseball. They’re the sorts of ideas that never fail to annoy and infuriate authority figures, which is why it takes a special kind of person to hurl himself into the face of the solid rock wall of stupidity that defends many a comfortable social institution.

I’ve written this with respect to Billy Beane, but I think the work of James and the success of the A’s and Red Sox is often portrayed as being about “statistics” when it’s much more about not accepting received wisdom when it conflicts with evidence, making evaluations based on performance rather than images, etc. Michael Lewis actually conveyed this every well. Alas, MLB seems to be making more progress than our political class.

One unfortunate thing about James working for the Red Sox, though, is that if he could make his new research public he’d be a blogging natural…

Hey, My Wife Can Get An Abortion, So Screw Roe!

[ 22 ] October 29, 2007 |

Shorter abortion centrists: Me me me me me me me me me me!

Longtime readers will know that this has been one of my pet peeves for a long time, but Dana is of course exactly correct. The idea that California women should be indifferent about abortion rights as long as they have theirs is useful only as a window into the solipsism some pundits project onto others. It’s like saying that African Americans in northern states in the 1950s should have been indifferent to federal civil rights because, after all, they didn’t have to live under apartheid! And the analogy should make clear, again, that the “moral federalism” position is just evading the issue; it’s another way of saying that you don’t consider the right in question to be important. If that’s your position, you should defend it on the merits rather than hiding behind “states’ rights” principles virtually nobody applies consistently.

…Cara has more.

New Fields of Concern Trolldom

[ 4 ] October 29, 2007 |

When I read about the sure-to-be-atrocious series by Melinda Henneberger trying to infer something meaningful about candidates for president by using tarot cards horoscopes random anecdotes about their marriages, the name sounded familiar. So I looked, and sure enough I first heard about Henneberger because she’s a classic “Democratic” abortion concern troll, arguing that the Democrats have to embrace her own support for arbitrary regulations forcing young women to carry their pregnancies to term, without bothering to make either an argument for her positions on the merits or to even to articulate her actual positions (let alone providing any non-anecdotal evidence that her strategy will have significant political benefits.) Goody.

So, anyway, If we were selecting a national marriage counselor rather than a president, this might be useful. I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll learn from her pop-psych analysis that the candidates Henneberger likes are good and the ones she doesn’t like are bad. I’m sure it will be fascinating.

It’s Girardi

[ 0 ] October 29, 2007 |

On balance, I think this is bad news for the Yankee-hater. As a correspondent noted, Mattingly’s candidacy can be summed up in two words: Alan Trammell. Hiring a guy whose primary credential is being a beloved star pretty much never works. He could have won anyway — Torre had pretty poor credentials when he took over too, so you never know — but it would have said something bad about the organization. (Reading/listening to Mattingly’s media defenders in print and radio, what was striking was that nobody was making the case that he was the best man to manage the Yankees so much as that the Yankees couldn’t afford to lose Beloved If Very Overrated Star Don Mattingly. Hiring managers on that basis would be egregiously stupid; it’s a bad sign that the Yankees have proven that non-stupid people are in charge.)

The ray of light is that while Girardi shows every sign of being a very talented manager, I would look at what happened to the Marlins’ pitching staff after he left, as well as the fact that he got fired after a surprisingly successful season because he couldn’t get along with anybody. I can live with the Yankees winning 100 games next year if it means plenty of 120+ pitch games and post-hour-long-rain-delay comebacks for Hughes and Joba, and an organization in chaos in 3 years. It also makes Slappy less likely to re-sign; he hated Showalter and Girardi is a similar hardass. If the Yankees can stop his Dallas Green-esque handling of the pitching staff, though, I’m afraid that he’ll be an excellent manager.

Opt-Out

[ 24 ] October 29, 2007 |

Sweet, although I continue to believe that the Yankees aren’t serious about staying out of the subsequent negotiations for his servies.

Unlikely as it is, I like the Slappy-at-Shea idea…

Mini-Steinbrenner:

“It’s clear he didn’t want to be a Yankee,” Hank Steinbrenner told the Daily News last night. “He doesn’t understand the privilege of being a Yankee on a team where the owners are willing to pay $200 million to put a winning product on the field.

“I don’t want anybody on my team that doesn’t want to be a Yankee.”

“We’re not going to back down,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s goodbye.” [via]

Again, if you want to bluff you need to bet more than quarter of the pot. The idea that they were going to get him to give up the leverage of an opt-out with $150 million in this market…please. And I don’t think anyone takes the idea that the Yankees are now out seriously.

Rudy Giuliani: Authoritarian

[ 7 ] October 28, 2007 |

Via Yglesias, two of the key things you need to know about Giuliani:

Beyond religious issues, a second conservative trait defined Giuliani’s tenure: his Cheney-esque appetite for executive power. In 1999, for example, he directed (without the City Council’s permission) the police to permanently confiscate the cars of people charged with drunken driving — even if the suspects were later acquitted.

[…]

The fanciful notion of Giuliani’s liberalism also omits the pi¿ce de r¿sistance of his mayorship: his flagrantly undemocratic bid to stay in office for an extra three months after Sept. 11, 2001. During earlier crises, even World War II, U.S. elections had always managed to proceed normally. But Giuliani maneuvered for weeks to remain mayor after his term-limited exit date. Only as normalcy returned to New York did his power grab fail.

If you think that John Yoo has an excessively narrow view of executive powers, you’ll love Rudy.

Would You Like That JD Neat, on the Rocks, or Injected Into Your Cock?

[ 0 ] October 28, 2007 |

I’m not sure that this is an optimally healthy lifestyle.

We Have A Game!

[ 6 ] October 28, 2007 |

Now if they could only force them to bring Gagne in, things could get really interesting. Even Kaz’s bizarre stolen base down 6-2 may have paid off, because if the infield is playing a DP depth I don’t think Tulowitzki’s grounder gets through…

…well, OK, scratch that.

Gail Collins: There To Make MoDo and Bobo Look Smart

[ 28 ] October 27, 2007 |

I forgot to blog about this on Thursday, but this has to rank as one of the most remarkable recent paragraphs written on the increasingly embarrassing NYT op-ed page:

Lately, anti-Huckabee conservatives have been suggesting he’s soft on crime. The story involves an Arkansas man, Wayne DuMond, who was accused of kidnapping and raping a high school cheerleader in 1985. While he was free awaiting trial, masked men broke into his home, beat and castrated him. His testicles wound up in a jar of formaldehyde, on display on the desk of the local sheriff. At the trial, he was sentenced to life plus 20 years. When Huckabee became governor, DuMond was still in an apparently hopeless situation, though theoretically eligible for parole. Huckabee championed his cause, and wrote him a congratulatory letter when he was finally released in 1999. Then in 2000 DuMond moved to Kansas City, where he sexually assaulted and murdered a woman who lived near his home.

“There’s nothing you can say, but my gosh, it’s the thing you pray never happens,” the clearly tortured Huckabee recently told The National Review. “And it did.” If by some miracle he became the presidential nominee, there would obviously be many opportunities to point out that Michael Dukakis never sent a letter to Willie Horton celebrating his furlough.

Why do the leaders of the religious right keep sidling away from a Baptist minister whose greatest political sin seems to have been showing compassion to a prisoner who appeared to deserve it?

Tristero and Somerby point out the rather massive gap in the story here: that DuMond was released not out of some independent sense of compassion but because a wingnut campaign on his behalf was launched because the woman DuMond raped was a distant relative of Bill Clinton. There also doesn’t seem to be any corroborating evidence that DuMond was the victim of a vigilante attack, which is the presumed source of the “compassion” allegedly demonstrated by Huckabee (unless Collins wants to argue for early parole for serial rapists on the merits.) This was not just a parole that happened under Huckabee’s watch, but one he personally intervened to secure. Was this result of a careful assessment of the facts? Where did he get the information that made him decide that keeping DuMond in prison was unjust? Er:

The state official who advised Huckabee on the Dumond case confirmed that the governor knew very little about Ashley Stevens’ case:

“I don’t believe that he had access to, or read, the law enforcement records or parole commission’s files — even by then,” the official said. “He already seemed to have made up his mind, and his knowledge of the case appeared to be limited to a large degree as to what people had told him, what Jay Cole had told him, and what he had read in the New York Post.”

Jay Cole, like Huckabee, is a Baptist minister, pastor for the Mission Fellowship Bible Church in Fayetteville and a close friend of the governor and his wife. On the ultra-conservative radio program he hosts, Cole has championed the cause of Wayne Dumond for more than a decade.

Cole has repeatedly claimed that Dumond’s various travails are the result of Ashley Stevens’ distant relationship to Bill Clinton.

The governor was also apparently relying on information he got from Steve Dunleavy, first as a correspondent for the tabloid television show “A Current Affair” and later as a columnist for the New York Post.

Much of what Dunleavy has written about the Dumond saga has been either unverified or is demonstrably untrue. Dunleavy has all but accused Ashley Stevens of having fabricated her rape, derisively referring to her in one column as a “so-called victim,” and brusquely asserting in another, “That rape never happened.”

The columnist wrote that Dumond was a “Vietnam veteran with no record” when in fact he did have a criminal record. He claimed there existed DNA evidence by “one of the most respected DNA experts in the country” to exonerate Dumond, even though there was no such evidence. He wrote that Bill Clinton had personally intervened to keep Dumond in prison, even though Clinton had recused himself in 1990 from any involvement in the case because of his distant relationship with Stevens.

“The problem with the governor is that he listens to Jay Cole and reads Steve Dunleavy and believes them … without doing other substantative work,” the state official said.

Had Huckabee examined in detail the parole board’s files regarding Dumond, he would have known Dumond had compiled a lengthy criminal resume.

Interesting definition of “compassion” there. The bottom line is that a woman is dead, not as a tragic consequence of an imperfect parole system but because Huckabee went along with crackpot anti-Clinton conspiracy nuts and released someone with a significant history of violence and sexual assault. Seems like something worth considering when determining if someone would make a good president for me. But that would mean returning to the lunatic war on the Clintons, in which the Times was frequently complicit, and we can’t have that!

The Overrated Led By the Even More Overrated

[ 16 ] October 27, 2007 |

The glorious effects of the reign of Charlie Weis, Super Genius (TM):

Weis’ Fighting Irish now stand at 1-7. This record is only the faintest indicator of just how awful Notre Dame is. They have lost nine of their last 10 games, by an average of 24 points. None has been close. While Notre Dame has suffered very few injuries, three of its opponents have had to play the Irish without their starting quarterbacks. Two of those teams, USC and Michigan, nonetheless beat Notre Dame by a larger margin than either has beaten any other opponent so far this year. Notre Dame’s lone win came against UCLA, which had been forced to use its third-string quarterback, a walk-on. In that game, Notre Dame compiled just 140 yards of offense, but won with the help of seven Bruin turnovers, five of them hand-delivered courtesy of the hapless walk-on signal-caller.

Just how bad is Notre Dame? Of the 119 teams in Division I-A, ND is 119th in total offense, 119th in rushing offense, 112th in passing offense, and 118th in scoring. If Notre Dame had doubled its scoring output, it would still rank 108th. If it doubled its rushing output (currently 34 yards a game), it would barely eke out Duke for 118th place.

The only thing not to like is that we’ll lose the annual pleasure of Notre Dame being humiliatingly demolished in a bowl game. On the other hand, this is one more BCS bowl a year with some chance of having a competitive game.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it also seems to me that Weis is getting off relatively unscathed here. Callahan is having an awful-but-not-quite-this-awful year with a proud team, and people in Lincoln want his head on a pointed stick. I haven’t sensed this with Weis.

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