Thursday, July 31, 2008
And now they've shown they take care of their problems.
Manny Ramirez has been a donkey's rear-end for years -- mopey, lazy, petulant, self-absorbed. But he can flat-out hit. Manny may one day be regarded as the best righthanded hitter since DiMaggio and Jimmie Foxx. Seriously. He had nine consecutive years of 30+ HR and 100+ RBI (11 total for each milestone), and his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are better than those of Frank Robinson, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron. Even adjusted for era and ballpark, his OPS is equivalent to Robinson, Mays and Aaron (Manny's Adjusted OPS+ is 154, Robinson's is 154, Mays 156, Aaron 155).
You read that right, he runs with that crowd . . . as a hitter.
But between his lollygagging style, temper tantrums, general dopeyness, and faux injuries, his act wore thin. Last year, the Sawx weathered a Manny mental breakdown, Francona drew him back into the fold of his teammates and the Beanturds won the Series. This year, between knocking down a traveling secretary for the team over a lack of tickets for his family, barely jogging to first base on groundballs, and b*tching incessantly, there was no more "Manny being Manny" -- now he was a problem.
The RedSax did the right thing in excising this mental abscess from their locker room. There is a line that has to be drawn. And, unfortunately, they'll be fine. They continued to nearly top the league in scoring without David Ortiz, so with Ortiz, Lowell, Drew, Pedroia and Jason Bay, their offense is fine. With Bay replacing Manny, their defense improves. They still have four viable starters (Beckett, Lester, DiceK and Wakefield). And the Beanheads won in 2004 after trading Nomaaaaaaah for Orlando Cabrera.
Now Manny is Joe Torre's problem in LA. Have fun with that.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The worst thing that happened yesterday is that the Angels obtained Mark Texeira (20 HR, 78 RBI in 103 games with the Braves -- who play in a hitter unfriendly park and hitter unfriendly division). The switch-hitting Gold Glove first baseman (he won GGs in 2005 and 2006) gives the Angels the extra lineup pop they need to get past the Red Sawx this year. More importantly, he arrives in time for the Angels' games with the Yankees -- all 10 of them. That's right, the schedule gave the Yanks 10 games post-All Star against the Angels including two trips to Anaheim. And those two trips come during a 5.5-week stretch in which the Yanks play 26 of 35 games on the road. You read that right -- 26 roadies, 9 at home and the fun starts next Monday here in Texas.
If the Yanks split with the Angels this year, it will be the first time since 2003 that they did not lose the season series. In Torre's 12 years, the Yanks won the season series from the California/Anaheim/LA of Anaheim Angels three times, and split once! The Angels were the only team to win the season series from the Yanks in 1998, when the best post-WWII team in baseball won 114 games. In other words, during a dozen years over which the Yanks had the best record in the AL, they went 3-8-1 in season series against the Angels. That doesn't augur well for the Yanks against a team that already has the best record in baseball, the best road record in baseball and has hexed them without a 30+ HR corner infielder.
And that's why losing last night, and losing to stiff teams like the Orioles (4-7 Yanks record), Reds (1-2), Pirates (1-2), and Indians (2-4) ultimately harms the Yanks.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
And now he needs to step down.
No matter how big he is in Alaska (he's been a political leader in the state since before it became a state in 1959 and there are numerous public buildings in the state named for him), and regardless of the fact that losing Stevens means likely losing another Senate seat for the Republicans, it's time for him to go.
Here is a summary of the indictment, from National Review:
The facts are these: In 2000, Stevens ordered an extensive home-improvement project that nearly doubled the size of his house. The contractors who did the work were told to send the invoices first to VECO Corp., an oil-field-services company whose two top executives have pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators. VECO then sent the bills to Stevens, which he paid out of a separate account set up for the project. Even if VECO sent Stevens all the invoices it received (and that remains an open question), there is no question that Stevens involved himself in a shadowy financial arrangement with a company known for its corrupt practices.
The indictment alleges that VECO employees did pay for parts of the renovation. It presents evidence that they did so and that Stevens knew they did. In addition, the indictment names other gifts Stevens allegedly received from VECO and then failed to disclose, such as furniture, cars, and a Viking gas grill. Stevens is accused of taking gifts worth more than $250,000 from VECO, which he did not list on his Senate Financial Disclosure Forms. The indictment alleges that in failing to do so, Stevens broke the law.
From a legal standpoint, Stevens deserves the benefit of the doubt — but not from an ethical standpoint. VECO had substantial business before Congress, and Stevens used his influence to benefit the company. Specifically, he made sure that federal job-training funds went to train Russian oil-field workers for VECO. Stevens’s close relationship with VECO — even if it wasn’t as close as prosecutors allege — renders such behavior ethically out-of-bounds. Stevens should have known better.
Meanwhile, Alaska governor Sarah Palin (also a Republican) wants Stevens to discuss the charges with the public.
Monday, July 28, 2008
It is NOT for kids. No one under age 13 should see the movie, period. Indeed, The Dark Knight's PG-13 rating demonstrates the tremendous gaps in the MPAA's system -- there is virtually no profanity and only a little blood, but the violence level is extremely high and disturbing without being graphic. Add a couple of "F" words or some spatter and the movie would easily have deserved an "R" rating.
Here are the basics:
It's been a year since the ending of Batman Begins. Gotham City is rebounding from its status as a crime-infested rathole thanks to the bat-man and its tough new DA, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart, criminally underrated). Lieutenant James Gordon is leading his major crimes unit to perform top-notch police work and build cases (with Batman's help) against the criminal underworld's bosses who are rudderless after the incarceration of Carmine Falcone in Batman Begins. But a new leader of Gotham's criminal minds has risen -- the Joker. The clown robs the city's mob leaders, challenges their manhoods and offers to kill Batman.
The Joker is an agent of pure chaos. An anarchist and psychopathic killer with a purpose -- rend asunder the bonds of civil society that exist, and have recently re-formed, in Gotham. He has no rules and no restraint -- he's the anti-Batman. In contrast, Batman is rigid, governed by a strict code of conduct (no guns, no killing), and fears that only by becoming what he most abhors can he catch the Joker.
Entwined with this tale of order versus chaos are various philosophical musings and allegorical constructs -- will Gotham find someone who will perform the civic duty to take control of the city in order to purge it of its criminals, is Harvey Dent the white knight who will ride to Gotham's rescue, must Batman destroy the city to save it from the Joker? The action, plot, twists and twistedness do not fit the general comic book movie format.
The performances are uniformly good -- Christian Bale perhaps needed more screen time as Bruce Wayne struggling with the burden of being Batman, but again shows why even though four actors have played the role on the big screen (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Bale), he is the one film Batman worthy of the cape. For Bale, being bon vivant billionaire Bruce is a show; Batman is the reality.
Heath Ledger is every bit as captivating as you've heard. The two best scenes in the movie are the Joker's confrontation with the heads of Gotham's underworld and his first in-person dialogue with Batman. Ledger's Joker is cold, harsh, manic, calculating, intelligent, psychotic and one of the best movie villains of all time.
Aaron Eckhart's turn as Harvey Dent is also noteworthy -- he's completely believable as the crusading district attorney who wants to clean up Gotham and turns into a monster after losing half his face (discussing more about why the disfigurement alone does not make him turn bad would reveal too important of a plot point). Eckhart is designed for the role of a smooth-talking smart professional with an edge (see his roles from In the Company of Men and Thank You For Smoking) but also shows he can be hard, bereft and bitter. Thank goodness his role is played so often next to Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes, not Katie Holmes. Gyllenhaal has the maturity for the role that Holmes' inexplicable girlishness (Holmes is only a year younger) could not convey.
And don't overlook Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. Each of whom, as Lucius Fox (Wayne's business partner) and Alfred Pennyworth (Wayne's long-time butler) help establish Batman's moral boundaries. Caine is much more than a butler, unlike the other Alfreds -- he's a friend, father, and confidant who has experience and wisdom that comes from sources other than just working for the Wayne family.
So yes, The Dark Knight lives up to the hype as a fine movie. But it's not a comic-book film. Get a sitter, and go see it without the kids.
Friday, July 25, 2008
The Arctic may contain as much as a fifth of the world’s yet to-be-discovered oil and natural gas reserves, the United States Geological Survey said Wednesday as it unveiled the largest-ever survey of petroleum resources north of the Arctic Circle.
Oil companies have long suspected that the Arctic contained substantial energy resources, and have been spending billions recently to get their hands on tracts for exploration. As melting ice caps have opened up prospects that were once considered too harsh to explore, a race has begun among Arctic nations, including the United States, Russia, and Canada, for control of these resources.
The geological agency’s survey largely vindicates the rising interest. It suggests that most of the yet-to-be found resources are not under the North Pole but much closer to shore, in regions that are not subject to territorial dispute.
Here's the stupid part:
The assessment, which took four years, found that the Arctic may hold as much as 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil reserves, and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This would amount to 13 percent of the world’s total undiscovered oil and about 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas.
At today’s consumption rate of 86 million barrels a day, the potential oil in the Arctic could meet global demand for almost three years. The Arctic’s potential natural gas resources are three times bigger. That equals Russia’s proven gas reserves, which is the world’s largest.
The NY Times stoops to do long division for its readers. 90 billion bbls divided by global demand of 86 million bbl a day comes to about 1,046 days or a little under three years. True, but also irrelevant.
Arctic oil estimates could supply the global market for three years BY ITSELF. What's the Times doesn't bother to focus on is how much marginal supply the Arctic could add. Oil prices have tripled in large part because overall demand has edged over overall supply thanks to a variety of factors. How about some division that makes sense? If the Arctic supplies an additional 3 million bbls a day at the margin then those 90 billion barrels are going to last about 82 years! Three million additional barrels a day would go a long, long way towards relieving price stress. And this would be US produced crude which means pretty damn likely we'd have first dibs on it.
The Left however will recycle their anti-ANWR arguments and say why are we disturbing the pristine (sic) wilderness for just three years worth of oil. Stupid analysis by the Times, who are probably not alone, simply buttress that.
It's good for him that David Brooks is well-paid because it eases the pain of having to listen to Obama's speech in Berlin yesterday. Brooks, who has softened his conservative bite on a number of issues since being hired by the NY Times, has no particular use for Sen. Obama's brand of kumbaya-based fluff. Some excerpts from Brooks's column today:
Obama’s tone was serious. But he pulled out his “this is our moment” rhetoric and offered visions of a world transformed. Obama speeches almost always have the same narrative arc. Some problem threatens. The odds are against the forces of righteousness. But then people of good faith unite and walls come tumbling down. Obama used the word “walls” 16 times in the Berlin speech, and in 11 of those cases, he was talking about walls coming down.
The Berlin blockade was thwarted because people came together. Apartheid ended because people came together and walls tumbled. Winning the cold war was the same: “People of the world,” Obama declared, “look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together and history proved there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.”Other than the historic revisionism and lack of factual support for those statements, Obama is on firm ground. More Brooks:
When John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan went to Berlin, their rhetoric soared, but their optimism was grounded in the reality of politics, conflict and hard choices. Kennedy didn’t dream of the universal brotherhood of man. He drew lines that reflected hard realities: “There are some who say, in Europe and elsewhere, we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin.” Reagan didn’t call for a kumbaya moment. He cited tough policies that sparked harsh political disagreements — the deployment of U.S. missiles in response to the Soviet SS-20s — but still worked.
Unfortunately, JFK was the last strong anti-Communist the Democrats fielded as a national candidate (RFK's stance was not nearly as strong). The Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic Party is merely a memory -- and that's the wing that had a realistic view of foreign policy.
Still more Brooks:
The great illusion of the 1990s was that we were entering an era of global convergence in which politics and power didn’t matter. What Obama offered in Berlin flowed right out of this mind-set. This was the end of history on acid.
Since then, autocracies have arisen, the competition for resources has grown fiercer, Russia has clamped down, Iran is on the march. It will take politics and power to address these challenges, the two factors that dare not speak their name in Obama’s lofty peroration.* * *
Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney.Brooks also claims that Obama doesn't really think this way, that there is a practical side of him. But the evidence for that is thin -- all his actions, public statements, and positions comport with the lofty idealistic Wilsonian rhetoric he constantly utters that ignores reality and would endanger the nation if turned into policy.
Image courtesy of ThoseShirts.com -- buy some; The Monk has about a half dozen.
Here are some excerpts from his classic piece on Sen. Obama's trip to the Middle East last week:
And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.
The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.. . . In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.
* * *
And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media.
* * *
In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.
As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.
And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.
The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.
And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.
Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.
And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.That about captures the spirit of Obama's messianic tour and its press coverage.
But there's too much going on for Monksilence.
- President would manage monetary and lending policy instead of the central bank which would lose its autonomy
- Create the concept of "illegitimacy" for some foreign loans
- Restructure courts throughout the country
- Give state the right to expropriate idle farming land to redistribute it
- Bans large land-holdings
- Bans genetically modified seeds except those approved by the President and Congress
Just SELL. Though its probably been sold already.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
"...girding his messianic loins..."
"prince of Chicago"
"O-Force One" (his plane)
"Obama finally found a Muslim with whom he’s willing to be photographed." [King Abdullah of Jordan]
And a wonderful stab at Harvard Law School:
"That old skill that Obama honed at the Harvard Law Review of listening until everyone at the table felt they had been heard (and agreed with) is coming in handy on his presidential dress rehearsal."
Matt Drudge has McCain's submitted entry.
I rather suspect Shipley objected to this passage:
Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there," he said on January 10, 2007. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."
Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that "our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.?" But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.
Here is the Obama piece the Times was only too glad to run.
In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.
But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted.
Talking out of both sides of his mouth.
No wonder why the Times' revenue is sinking and Matt Drudge gets 20 million hits a day?
Friday, July 18, 2008
1. he's black and,
2. he's beloved by the cognoscenti.
Many of the late-night comics and their writers — nearly all white — now admit to The New York Times’s Bill Carter that because of race and because there is nothing “buffoonish” about Obama — and because many in their audiences are intoxicated by him and resistant to seeing him skewered — he has not been flayed by the sort of ridicule that diminished Dukakis, Gore and Kerry.
Which made me think of this:
Q: What is one key difference between a conservative and a liberal?
A: You can tell a conservative a joke and not worry about repercussions.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
John Tierney reports in the NY Times that the grievance peddling community of women's groups and Congress have pressured the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Energy to look for sexual discrimination in science departments that receive federal grants.
In sports, Title IX has shut down certain men's sports at universities if there was insufficient female interest in similar sports or overall.
Presumably some physics departments could face similar penalties if there aren't enough female physicists???
Monday, July 14, 2008
In an extremely pointed press release the Office of Thrift Supervision said the following:
The OTS has determined that the current institution, IndyMac Bank, is unlikely to be able to meet continued depositors’ demands in the normal course of business and is therefore in an unsafe and unsound condition. The immediate cause of the closing was a deposit run that began and continued after the public release of a June 26 letter to the OTS and the FDIC from Senator Charles Schumer of New York. The letter expressed concerns about IndyMac’s viability. In the following 11 business days, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from their accounts.
“This institution failed today due to a liquidity crisis,” OTS Director John Reich said. “Although this institution was already in distress, I am troubled by any interference in the regulatory process.”
As a result of an OTS examination that began in January 2008, the OTS deemed IndyMac to be in troubled condition. An overwhelming majority of problem institutions are able to successfully modify their operations and business plans, work closely with their regulator and eventually return to a healthy condition.
IndyMac had reacted to market conditions and OTS concerns in November 2007 by changing its operations and business plan to build a foundation for recovery. IndyMac was actively seeking to arrange a significant capital infusion or find a buyer. The recent release of the senator’s letter undermined the public confidence essential for a financial institution and took away the time IndyMac needed to pursue a recovery.
What a disgrace. Shareholders of IndyMac ought to sue the Senator for damages. Perhaps they should recruit Eliot Spitzer, who was good at this sort of thing and now has a bit of time on his hands.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) 1921-2008
Rock-ribbed conservative, arch anti-communist "Senator No" served as senator from North Carolina from 1973 to 2002. The loony left hated Helms probably about as much as they hate George W. Bush. Senator Helms likely would consider that a compliment. Helms died, fittingly, on July 4th.
He understood Communism — he had Communism’s number. And that was the most important issue of his age. All those who sneered at him, degraded him — they did not have half the understanding that Helms had.
About everything concerning the Cold War, Helms was right. His critics and enemies were horribly wrong.
He also had the U.N.’s number. And the socialists’ number. And the universities’ number. (Pardon the redundancy.) And he had a very strong moral sense.
When a Ukrainian sailor named Medved jumped ship off the American coast, the only person in all the world who cared about him was Jesse Helms. U.S. authorities — under Reagan, no less — dragged him back to the Soviets, kicking and screaming.
And, as I understand it, Senator and Mrs. Helms adopted a supposedly unadoptable boy. When I interviewed him in 2005 — for the interview, go here — this was the only subject he declined to address. Modesty and humility ruled.
I don’t know that he was completely innocent on race. I doubt he was especially guilty — particularly for a white southerner born in 1921. And, about affirmative action — a.k.a. race preferences — he was 100 percent right.
He had the courage of his convictions, which is not enough, of course: Those convictions were right. Jesse Helms was courageous, right, and good. That is a powerful combination.
Tony Snow 1955-2008 - White House Press Secretary.
Sharp, self-assured, affable and very-much needed press secretary who disagreed with the President on many things but was truly an asset. What Scott McClellan is not.
Byron York from National Review:
So Snow became the best face the administration ever had. “Tony raised the bar for all future press secretaries,” Dana Perino, Snow’s deputy who now holds the press secretary’s job, told me. “He was especially effective talking about matters of national security — he understood the threat, he believed in the mission, and he had tremendous respect for our troops. He held the podium during the toughest days in Iraq, and we were grateful for his steadfastness in communicating that we would prevail if we didn’t let politics get in the way.”
Bobby Murcer 1946-2008
A beloved All-Star outfielder associated with the Yankees for four decades who hit 252 home runs died Saturday from complications of brain cancer. A fellow Oklahoman like Yankee great Mickey Mantle, Murcer was supposed to be the next great to follow in the footsteps of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle. A five-time All-Star and Gold Glover, Murcer was a solid though not quite Hall of Fame player who became a fixture in the Yankee broadcast booth.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Responding to Republican concerns that his candidacy was faltering, Mr. McCain put a veteran of President Bush’s 2004 campaign in charge of day-to-day operations, and stepped away from a plan to have the campaign run by 11 regional managers, Mr. McCain’s aides said Wednesday.
The shift was approved by Mr. McCain after several of his aides, including Mr. Schmidt, went to him about 10 days ago and warned him that he was in danger of losing the presidential election unless he revamped his campaign operation, two officials close to the campaign said.
The move of Mr. Schmidt is the latest sign of increasing influence of veterans of Mr. Rove’s shop in the McCain operation. Nicolle Wallace, communications director for Mr. Bush in the 2004 campaign (and in his White House), has joined the campaign as a senior adviser, and will travel with Mr. McCain every other week.
Greg Jenkins, another veteran of Mr. Rove’s operation who is a former Fox News producer and director of presidential advance in the Bush White House, was hired by Mr. Schmidt last week after a series of what Mr. McCain’s advisers acknowledged were poorly executed campaign events.
Mr. Schmidt, 37, is one of the most intense, hard-driving figures in his party today: when he worked for Mr. Bush, his nickname in the campaign was “The Bullet,” a reference to the shape of his shaved head.
He has been at the center of some of the most politically significant Republican operations of the last 10 years. In working with Mr. Rove and Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Mr. Schmidt has become immersed in the use of data-driven methods to find and turn out Republican voters.
McCain appears to be running marginally behind though the MSM would have you believe that its a fait accompli. As a matter of fact intelligent folk have come up to me and asked do you really think McCain even has a chance? And are flabbergasted when I reply in the affirmative.
McCain needs to run a very good, calculating, campaign that establishes and sticks to message. 11 regional managers is a terrible idea and unworkable. The first job is to stay within striking distance in reality AND in perception to keep the interest of the core support as well as undecided independents. As long as it does that the result will depend on the electoral calculus.
Taking the results of 2004 where Bush won by 34 electoral votes McCain has a 16 vote cushion. A tie would throw the election to the state legislatures and the Dems have a 28-22 edge in governorships so that would be a bit dicey. More in the next post.