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Oh, the Humanity

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

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[Graphic from Metsgrrl.]

I was in Flushing for tonight’s unpleasantness, and what can you say? Petey did his job; 2 earned, either driven in or scored by the best hitter in the league, and despite some early command issues worked efficiently enough to keep the Arson Squad out of the game for 7 innings. Even hit the low 90s at times if you believe the Shea gun. He’s still beautiful to watch. But when you can’t get a sniff off of Joel Goddamned Pineiro, well, you really don’t deserve to go to the playoffs, And there’s really no reason they can’t still make it, with the Marlins at home. But it’s hard to see it happening at this point.

Not only that, but the utter lack of offense left me more thinking space to get irritated with Tony LaRussa, Super Genius (TM) for batting his pitcher eighth. Not that it really matters, but what’s the possible justification?

The Stephen Glass of 9/11

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

Interesting story in the NYT about a woman who appears to have made up an elaborate public 9/11 survival story out of whole cloth. As with Glass, there are giveaways about her verisimilitude that are obvious once you know the story:

She has told people that she is the daughter of a diplomat, and is described on the Survivors’ Network Web site as “a senior vice president for strategic alliances for an investment think tank.”

Investment think tank? But, obviously, you’re not inclined to poke into the story of an ostensible 9/11 survivor, just as people accepted what should have been egregious howlers in Glass’s stuff because the stories were too good or because they were consistent with underlying ideological assumptions.

In a sense, though, my headline is unfair because she doesn’t seem to have profited from making up the story, so it’s hard to be too hard on her. Much worse, I’m reminded of one of my students who tried to use the Alaska Air crash as an excuse…to submit an assignment late. She said she hadn’t handed in her paper because she was an airline employee tending to survivors. I didn’t believe it, but as with the iconic Apocryphal Dead Relative it’s a clever story because the teacher feels like a jerk for requesting proof and would feel like an even bigger one if it was true. It turns out, though, that she had gone to the professor first with a story that didn’t work with the timeline, and then cleaned it up to go to the TA, so it was pretty clearly bogus. Using the give ‘em enough rope theory I noted the timeline difficulty, gave her one more day to hand in the paper with only modest penalties, and never heard from her again. But, really, would you use the deaths of hundreds of people to blow off a college assignment?

Historic Chokes

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

Say this for the 2007 Mets: they have the chance to make history. Should they completely spit out the bit, according to Nate Silver’s playoff odds they will have pulled off the second worst choke in history, even worse than the Cubs gag they took advantage of in ’69 or the ’51 Dodgers but still behind the ’95 Angels. (I had forgotten that the ’95 Mariners, 12 1/2 back on August 20th, actually had a 3 game lead before falling back into the playoff.) It’s also interesting to see the 2003 Mariners make the list; it sure felt like it to us partial season ticket holders, anyway. For all their various ways of inflicting pain since the Expos specialized in late-season charges that fell just short they’re non-competitive in this category…

Today In Non Sequitur Theater

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

Matt highlights this genuinely bizarre passage in a Times article about the labor dispute at GM:

Beyond the bookkeeping effect of VEBAs, the health care funds could create a kind of incentive for Detroit companies and the union to modify their behavior.

Paying the high borrowing costs caused by their low debt ratings meant the Detroit companies had to keep wringing profits from big vehicles like sport utilities and pickups, rather than shifting to the smaller models with better fuel economy that consumers were demanding.

Likewise, U.A.W. members, assured of health care benefits that were the envy of the labor movement, had little incentive to take better care of their health, since their generous coverage would pay for most any ailment.

By contrast, Toyota, which pays premiums only for workers, not their families, has fitness centers at its factories and requires newly hired workers to exercise two hours a day during their training period.

Matt identifies the most obvious problem: assertions about a moral hazard that are both unsupported by evidence and utterly illogical. The idea that people will have no incentive to avoid debilitating illnesses and take care of their bodies as long as their health treatments are paid for is so bizarre I make a mental note to stop taking anyone who says it seriously. But in addition, the article doesn’t even support the premise. If employees at Toyota have such a powerful incentive to stay healthy, why are they required to work out? And isn’t it their non-insured family members rather than the insured workers who have the incentives?

The next time you’re informed about the “liberal” bias at the Times, however, remember the news story claiming that Toyota failed to provide health benefits to their employees’ families…for their own good!

Net Neutrality and Corporate Cowardice

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

Publius and JMM draw one of the obvious implications from Verizon’s bizarre decision to refuse to carry pro-choice text messages because of their “unsavory” nature. This does make me think that it’s time to switch to digital phone service…

Oblivious Self-Parody Alert

[ 0 ] September 27, 2007 |

Presidential sock analyst Ann Althouse complains about Jeffrey Toobin’s new book…for being too concerned with gossip and trivia and reading too much into anecdotal evidence, rather than more rigorous, serious thinking like seeing vaginas in non-labia shaped fast-food items denied a man who recently had a quadruple bypass. I swear.

The Hand Grenade Brigade

[ 0 ] September 26, 2007 |

It’s amazing to think that just one month ago the Mets seemed to have one of the best bullpens in the league

Things You Could See Coming

[ 0 ] September 26, 2007 |

Ben Nelson (DINO-Nebraska) signals that he will, of course, defect to Republican position, allowing Hans von Spakovsky to get to the full Senate. Of course, maybe the full Senate will vote agai…no, really, I can’t even type something so implausible.

The Vote Fraud Fraud, Pt. IV: Hans A. von Spakovsky

[ 1 ] September 26, 2007 |

The great Dahlia Lithwick explains why Democrats should not vote for Hans von Spakovsky, just as he would prefer that they not vote for anything else:

Von Spakovsky currently sits on the FEC as a result of a recess appointment made by President Bush in January of 2006. Before that he served as counsel to the assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division at Justice. Von Spakovsky’s Senate confirmation hearing last June was noteworthy for many oddities, not the least of which was a letter sent to the rules committee by six former career professionals in the voting rights section of the Justice Department; folks who had worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations for a period that spanned 36 years. The letter urged the committee to reject von Spakovsky on the grounds that while at DoJ, he was one of the architects of a transformation in the voting rights section from its “historic mission to enforce the nation’s civil rights laws without regard to politics, to pursuing an agenda which placed the highest priority on the partisan political goals of the political appointees who supervised the Section.” The authors named him as the “point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division’s mandate to protect voting rights.”

“If von Spakovsky is confirmed,” Lithwick notes, “it will be yet more evidence that Democrats have no more regard for the rule of law, or the integrity of the Justice Department, than Karl Rove does.” Indeed.

I should also say, since some commenters in various discussions seem to miss this distinction, that there’s nothing inherently wrong with requiring Voter ID to vote. If IDs were provided by the state, made easy to obtain, and part of a general policy was to maximize voter turnout, an ID requirement would be fine. But many actual Voter ID laws — which are advanced by people who don’t favor measures to increase voting, are supported by people who have no problem with much more susceptible to fraud but GOP-skewing absentee voting, and are not supported by any actual evidence that people voting under other names is a remotely significant problem — are simply a pretext for suppressing Democratic turnout and should be rejected.

…Christy has a good roundup here.


[ 0 ] September 25, 2007 |

The man is unbelievable. Now if they can get him home from second…

…Ack. Damn false hope.

The New Left

[ 0 ] September 25, 2007 |

Mr Shandy asks an important question: now that The Left is no longer blogging, can its presence in the blogospehere ever be regained? Alas, until Ward Churchill starts blogging, I’m not sure that there can be a true representative…

Hell’s Just A Place For Kiss-Ass Politicans Who Pander To Assholes

[ 0 ] September 25, 2007 |

I’m not really sure I understand the distinction that Matt is trying to draw here. As always when questions of motivations rather than actions come up, I think we have to return to George Wallace. Even politicians who make overtly racist appeals may be much more committed to winning elections than to racism. So I’m not sure it matters much what precise mixture of partisan advantage and racism motivates Republican efforts to suppress the African-American vote; the efforts are, in the end, racist even if wholly motivated by the former. Similarly, I don’t know how much racism and how much partisan advantage led to, say, Reagan kicking off his campaign in Philadelphia, MS to deliver coded appeals to southern racists (as well, of course, as the 3 Americans consistently committed to “states’ rights” principles), but it’s indefensible either way. Attempts to figure out whether the tunes played on Nixon’s Piano are authentic expressions of subjective racist beliefs or mere self-interested cynicism are both impossible and beside the point.

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