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Wanker of the Day

[ 0 ] July 28, 2009 |

Omar Minaya.

Aside from the bullying in and of itself — perhaps an homage to the departed Bernazard? — what’s striking is that this is inept even as Machiavellian politics. Even if he succeeded in getting Rubin taken off the Mets beat for a while, this will obviously result in much greater media hostility overall, heading into an offseason where Minaya is going to need all the support he can get.

In broad strokes, I’ve seen the Mets tracing the history of my beloved early 80s Expos — a team with formidable front-line talent but holes management didn’t take seriously enough, following a heartbreaking deciding game playoff loss with two disappointing seasons and one disastrous one. Ironically, the Expos failed to win pennants they should have in part because they traded Bernazard — one of the better-hitting second basemen in baseball — in order to play the likes of Doug “.552 OPS with overrated defense” Flynn at second base. I suppose his executive career explains why they might have made the move…

UPDATE: Rubin responds. Neyer, like many others, thinks Minaya is dead GM walking.


But There Was A Mean Comment About Trig Palin On An Obscure Blog Somewhere!

[ 0 ] July 28, 2009 |

Shorter Verbatim James Inhofe: “If their argument there is “Well, we don’t want to use oil and gas because we think it pollutes” — which it doesn’t.”

As if to prove this.

"I’m pissed. If you’re an American and you’re not pissed then there’s something wrong with you."

[ 0 ] July 28, 2009 |

So opined Forward Brian Ching, following the US MNT’s convincing roll over and die act on Sunday in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.  To the main rival.

As I was well off the grid for a couple of days, I didn’t see the game at all, and only learned about the debacle not long after it ended, when a good friend rang my US cell number as I emerged from the darkness.  I didn’t even have cell coverage for most of that time.  Therefore, I don’t have much to comment on the game itself beyond what anybody can read / watch in the MSM or on the blogs.  I can discuss the merits of Bradley’s strategy of going with a younger squad for this tournament; we knew that he was going to do this before the Confederations Cup kicked off.  
I understand and to a limit accept this strategy.  However, that limit is is crossed with the final — the benefits of winning this tournament outweigh what might be observed in the understudies.  The United States does not play competitive matches against class opposition nearly enough.  There’s not much quality in CONCACAF outside of the top two or three sides, and friendlies suck (did either England or the US learn much of anything in England’s 2-0 victory over the US at Wembley in May of 2008?)  
The Confederations Cup provides such a venue, and Mexico will learn from the experience, not the US. Actually, “Mexico, as winner of the 2009 Gold Cup, gets precisely doodly-squat”, to quote a commenter. I was wrong, and I knew this too, just overlooked it. Damn me to the eternal flames of hell.  It’s the ’07 and ’11 (etc.) Gold Cups that progress to the Confed Cup — but this only recently changed as the Confed Cup used to be every two years.
I’m not going to suggest that the US would have won if a stronger squad was sent out, but the way Mexico have been playing of late, a stronger squad would have seriously improved the probability of a victory.  And arguably, given the 30 man squad named for this tournament, one of the weakest starting XIs was sent out to face Mexico from within the tournament squad.  Indeed, only three of the 18 named to the match day squad against Mexico are based outside of the MLS (and of that, two in the Norwegian league, one in the Danish league).  
So I was disappointed when I learned the result.  Then I wandered over to USS Mariner and read this first line: “Now that Erik Bedard is back on the DL and the season is basically toast . . .

Bunning Hits the Showers

[ 0 ] July 27, 2009 |

This ain’t no good. Bunning was dead in the water; I suspect that Trey Grayson would have defeated Bunning in the Republican primary anyway, but the fight might have bloodied him a bit. I think that the GOP’s chances of holding onto the seat have gone up significantly.

The War Against Tiller

[ 0 ] July 27, 2009 |

Chilling stuff.

What Rule?

[ 5 ] July 27, 2009 |

While I was wondering how much I could quote from his pay site and be within the boundaries of fair use, I see via Neyer that Bill James’s excellent article on baseball and steroids is now available. My money quote would actually be different than Rob’s:

The discrimination against PED users in Hall of Fame voting rests upon the perception that this was cheating. But is it cheating if one violates a rule that nobody is enforcing, and which one may legitimately see as being widely ignored by those within the competition?

It seems to me that, at some point, this becomes an impossible argument to sustain—that all of these players were “cheating”, in a climate in which most everybody was doing the same things, and in which there was either no rule against doing these things or zero enforcement of those rules. If one player is using a corked bat, like Babe Ruth, clearly, he’s cheating. But if 80% of the players are using corked bats and no one is enforcing any rules against it, are they all cheating? One better: if 80% of the players are using corked bats and it is unclear whether there is or is not there is any rules against it, is that cheating?

And. ..was there really a rule against the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs? At best, it is a debatable point. The Commissioner issued edicts banning the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. People who were raised on the image of an all-powerful commissioner whose every word was law are thus inclined to believe that there was a rule against it.

But “rules”, in civilized society, have certain characteristics. They are agreed to by a process in which all of the interested parties participate. They are included in the rule book. There is a process for enforcing them. Someone is assigned to enforce the rule, and that authority is given the powers necessary to enforce the rule. There are specified and reasonable punishments for violation of the rules.

The “rule” against Performance Enhancing Drugs, if there was such a rule before 2002, by-passed all of these gates. It was never agreed to by the players, who clearly and absolutely have a right to participate in the process of changing any and all rules to which they are subject. It was not included in any of the various rule books that define the conduct of the game from various perspectives. There was no process for enforcing such a rule. The punishments were draconian in theory and non-existent in fact.

It seems to me that, with the passage of time, more people will come to understand that the commissioner’s periodic spasms of self-righteousness do not constitute baseball law. It seems to me that the argument that it is cheating must ultimately collapse under the weight of carrying this great contradiction—that 80% of the players are cheating against the other 20% by violating some “rule” to which they never consented, which was never included in the rule books, and which for which there was no enforcement procedure. History is simply NOT going to see it that way.

On a literal level, I’m not entirely sure that this specific position will be as widely accepted as James thinks. Arbitrary power, union bashing, and drug war moralism are all very powerful factors in society, and as we’ve seen all too often the combination of the three can be potent indeed. So while James is certainly correct on the merits I have no doubt that some sportswriters will continue to refer to players who used PEDs as “cheaters” despite the indefensibility of the position.

Fortunately, because of the other dynamics James mentions I don’t think it will matter. The key factor is that PED users include a player with a serious claim as the greatest pitcher in MLB history and two players likely to have a serious claim as the greatest player ever. Given that some players who used (or will be found to have used) PEDs will be voted into the hall, the exclusion of better players who used PEDs is going to be impossible to sustain. Hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later.

100% Pure, Undiluted Ressentiment

[ 0 ] July 27, 2009 |

Palin is pretty much the culmination of recent trends in Republicanism and movement conservatism.

India Gets a Boomer

[ 0 ] July 27, 2009 |

Congratulations of a sort are due India, which just launched its first nuclear ballistic missile submarine. The boat was built with Russian assistance, which makes sense because it kind of looks like a Russian sub. Arihant is the first of three expected boats, which is a bit light for a sea-based nuclear deterrent; India must be expecting to build a second class with the experience gained from these subs. The wikipedia page suggests that the Arihants will carry two different kinds of SLBM, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. One of the SLBM types appears to have been successfully tested, which puts the Arihant ahead of the latest Russian SSBN…

What "They Called?"

[ 0 ] July 26, 2009 |

I can understand the journalistic conventions that avoid characterizing particular views during disputes, but I must admit being amused by the opening paragraph about this story about now-resigned NYU law lecturer Thio Li-ann:

A Singapore law professor who was to teach a human rights course at New York University Law School this fall has withdrawn after students protested what they called her anti-gay views.

Hmm, I have to admit I’m not really seeing the ambiguity here:

Homosexuality is a gender identity disorder; there are numerous examples of former homosexuals successfully dealing with this. Just this year, two high profile US activists left the homosexual lifestyle, the publisher of Venus, a lesbian magazine, and an editor of Young Gay America. Their stories are available on the net. An article by an ex-gay in the New Statesmen this July identified the roots of his emotional hurts, like a distant father, overbearing mother and sexual abuse by a family friend; after working through his pain, his unwanted same-sex attractions left. While difficult, change is possible and a compassionate society would help those wanting to fulfill their heterosexual potential. There is hope.

“Heterosexual potential”?

I suppose it should go without saying that this rabid bigotry is embedded within an argument that is exceptionally weak, replete with reactionary talk-radio debating points whose fallaciousness should be especially evident to an alleged advocate of human rights (“people who oppose legal discrimination are intolerant…of intolerance! Nyah-nyah!”) And it’s also dismaying to see a law professor see no problem with laws that she concedes will only be sporadically and arbitrarily enforced.

Can I Even Get An Isolated Random Anectdote?

[ 0 ] July 26, 2009 |

Not being on the top-secret list I can’t say whether someone actually did come up with one. But I’m amused that the small and odd band of progressives attempting to defend the filibuster could apparently only muster a case — privatizing social security — in which the filibuster was completely irrelevant. (In addition to Matt and Ezra, see Pierson — the basics of the welfare state proved similarly durable in Westminster systems.)

Of course, even if someone could come up with an isolated example of the filibuster having a progressive impact, it wouldn’t change the fact that the filibuster is a terrible idea in theory that has had horrible effects in practice. The idea that any progressive would defend it is frankly bizarre to me.

Birthers v. Truthers

[ 0 ] July 26, 2009 |

Media double standards.


[ 0 ] July 25, 2009 |

Just to be clear; we swaddle Miriam because we want her to invade and conquer small countries. Elisha can be a pacifist if she wants.