Friday, April 24, 2015

To Think the Yankees Prefer Michael Kay to Mike Francesa

      I mean to listen to Kay you'd think this is not YES, the Yankee network, but the Mets network. Yet they had him replace Francesa. Today Kay continued to rave about them and take issue with anyone who has criticized their 11 game win streak as not coming against winning teams.

       Look, obviously you have to play who's on your schedule. It's true that the 11 game win streak is very impressive and that the Mets have bought a lot of time with it-it would take an 11 game losing streak at some point in the season to just get back to even. Still, he's laying it on a bit thick. He read a stat that says that since 1901 teams that have started 13-3 have a .581. win percentage.

       Impressive but it proves nothing about what the Mets will end up with this year. I mean how about the 1986 Milwaukee Brewers? They started the year better than just 13-3 they started 13-0. Later they lost 12 in a row and ended up a respectable 91-71 but out of the playoffs-true that was before there was a wildcard.

       Look, I get Mets fans are excited but it's amazing to me how much the entire NY baseball media has conspired to crown them based on where things are on 4/24. Meanwhile they were ready to bury the Yanks because of a 14 start. Want to look at history? Well the 1998 Yankees started 1-4 too and they turned out ok.

      Of course, I'm not saying this Yankee team will end up with 114 regular season wins and the World Series title, I'm just arguing for a little perspective.

       Ok, you can only play who's on your schedule-though the Mets haven't beaten anyone as good as the Tigers who were 11-2 until the Yanks beat them 3 straight the last 3 nights.

      What I do think that Yankee fans-and probably the Yankee players as well-notice, is that everyone in the media is already acting like the Mets have supplanted the Yanks. The Mets were on the front page of the NY Post today with the headline 'Runaway Train: Mets Invade Yankee Stadium'

       Met fans are just so easy to mollify. They have 7 years of terrible baseball, but have one big win streak and they're 'Amazin' again.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

So Barry Bonds Didn't Obstruct Justice

     Of course, it won't matter to baseball as the facts have never mattered for the steroids witch hunt:

     "Baseball slugger Barry Bonds' conviction of obstructing justice during a government probe into steroid use was overturned by a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday, but the legal victory likely will not remove the tarnish attached to Bonds' on-the-field accomplishments."

    "The case involved testimony Bonds, 50, gave to a grand jury in 2003 about whether he used steroids to help him bash more long balls. Bonds told grand jurors about his childhood when asked whether his former trainer, Greg Anderson, had given him self-injectable substances."
The slugger was convicted on one obstruction charge in 2011, and the jury deadlocked on three perjury counts. His sentence of two years of probation and 30 days of home confinement was put on hold pending his appeal.
     No it 'won't remove the tarnish' as the writer, Dan Levine, smugly hastens to add. However, it does underscore the hypocrisy of this 'tarnish' that is wholly insensible to facts. Basically Bud Selig and the baseball writers have decided that Bonds must be an eternal pariah and facts are not allowed to have any say in this decision. 
    If the obstruction charge had been upheld the scolds would have all been doing their self-righteous jigs in the street about what a bad actor Bonds is and how he sullied the game. However, this didn't happen so all they can say is 'Well, it doesn't matter anyway.'
   That it matters if it's the verdict they want but not the verdict they don't want shows the hypocrisy of this whole exercise. 
    When Roger Clemens beat charges that he lied to Congress the steroid scolds dismissed that too. 
    The fact still remains that neither Bonds or Clemens, nor Sosa, nor Mark McGwire  have ever failed a drug test. But this doesn't matter. The steroid scolds just know what they know based on their own inferences from what was in Jose Canseco's book and that's enough to build an unimpeachable case. 
   I guess Bonds knew what he was doing when he said this:
   "Asked if Anderson ever gave him a substance that required a syringe, Bonds answered: "I was a celebrity child, not just in baseball by my own instincts. I became a celebrity child with a famous father. I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation."
   He was smart enough not to lie. 
   P.S. Not surprisingly, no 'libertarians' come to Bonds' defense nor of these other great players unjustly persecuted. Their silence speaks volumes. They don't care about liberty, they are just conservatives by another name and what conservatives care about is preserving traditional power.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Yankees 13 Tigers 4: Old Bombers Blow Away the New Bombers

     After a 1-4 start everyone was writing off the Yankees-the prognisticators had all told us they'd be no good before the Spring anyway.

     No one thought they'd be that good and the 1-4 start was seen as definitive proof. I felt like getting this excited over 5 games was overkill: the 1998 Yankees started 1-4 too and that ended up ok.

     Ok, I know this is not the 1998 Yanks but I did think that the pessimism was overkill. Still, their offense in those first few games-especially in the first series against the Blue Jays was rather putrid. I myself rather wistfully talked about how the Detroit Tigers are the new Bombers.

     Well the Yanks right away responded-I'm sure they read my post!-with a 14 run explosion against the Boston Red Sox.

      After breaking out, they went to Baltimore and while they didn't get blown out and easily could have won 2 of 3. Then A-Rod hit 2 homers in Tampa powering inspiring the Yanks as they went on to sweep the Devil Rays for their first series win of the year.

      After that sweep they were back to .500 but that was the Devil Rays who don't seem to be a great team this year-though they did come back on the Red Sox tonight.

      The question was how would the Yanks do against the Tigers? Well they have somehow gone into Detroit and totally handled that team. CC Sabathia pitched a great game in the first game but lost a hard luck 2-1 decision as the Yanks were shut down by the very tough Alfredo Simon that night.

      Last night Eovaldi stepped up with a strong 7 innings as the Yanks again shut down that potent Tiger offense, this time winning 5-2.

      Tonight, the Yanks basically facing the Tigers' ace in David Price roughed him up for 6 first inning runs forcing him to throw over 50 pitches in the inning. Everyone got into the act even Dido Gregorious and Gregorio Petit. These two guys one with a very long last name and one with a very long first name that sound very similar were both having a tough season so far but both found their bats tonight.

     With the win, the Yanks are now within 1 game of the Red Sox-who as noted above, Tampa Bay beat. Now with the Yankee ace pitching tomorrow who knows? If Tanaka is half as good as he was last Saturday the Yanks will leave town somehow having taken 3 of 4 from the 'New Bombers.'

     There's a lesson here: never bet against the Yankees.

     What never made any sense with all the breast beating about the Yankees at the end of the 90s-how the league didn't have competitive balance and the fans would stop watching-attendance kept going up and up. And even more to the point, they made it sound like Yankee dominance was something new. It's been around since Ruth. Yet fans kept watching.

    P.S. In reality competitive balance is about one thing: trying to keep down player's salaries.



Wall Street Journal Slanders Marvin Miller

     When I came across this WSJ piece I had hope. It started out pretty good.

     "Marvin Miller, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1982, said that when he assumed that post, ballplayers were “the most exploited group of workers I had ever seen—more exploited than the grape pickers ofCesar Chavez.” They were bound by “a reserve clause that made the players prisoners”with “no grievance procedure, no salary arbitration, no nothing.” Robert F. Burk’s book is the first comprehensive biography of Miller, the former steelworkers union official who transformed the toothless Players Association into what may be the nation’s most powerful private-sector union. Mr. Burk ranks Miller’s contributions to the sport with those of Babe Ruth,Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, calling Miller’s exclusion from baseball’s Hall of Fame an “inexplicable snub.”

     Of, certainly a highly accurate paragraph. It quotes Burk' without disputing it, leading the reader to presume that the WSJ agrees with this opinion. I agree too, except, that's it's not so inexplicable, and it certainly wasn't hard to understand for Miller. 

     Meanwhile, his archenemy, the Crown Prince himself, Bowie Kuhn is in, and no doubt the abysmal Bud Selig will be in as well. It's not hard to understand: if you're for the rights of labor you don't get in, is you uphold the owners' interests, you get streets paved of gold named for you. 

    What is somewhat inexplicable, is this apparent agreement on this point from the WSJ. As noted in a previous post, Krugman points out that what conservatives-even those who call themselves 'libertarians'-are about is hardly 'liberty' but rather the preservation of traditional authority-after all, what exactly are they trying to 'conserve?'

     So in this vein, who is more conservative and libertarian than the Journal? Yet, they approve of the rise in power of MLB players? Of course not. Here, the writer gives the game away. Notice the technique-it's classic WSJ, and classic conservative-or 'libertarian.'

     "As Mr. Burk puts it, Miller approached his dealings with baseball management with “the class-conscious intensity of a man molded by the ideological struggles of his younger days.” The author reveals that, in the 1930s, Miller was an ardent Popular Front leftist whose pro-Soviet views survived the Nazi-Soviet Pact. He was later a supporter of the Communist-backed Progressive Party candidacy of Henry Wallace for president in 1948. One has to wonder if the conservative-minded Players Association (which once unsuccessfully pressed an astonished, newly appointed Miller to engage Richard Nixon as general counsel and co-leader) would have chosen Miller as its leader if its members had been aware of this political history."

    So that's how the Journal takes issue with Miller here. Not by taking issue with his actual record, but by going Joe McCarthy on him: he's a Communist. Case closed. We now know why he doesn't belong in the Hall: he was a Communist. 

    My point I'm trying to focus on is how they do it here-it works pretty well. No? Listen to a commentator, Jeffrey McEarlen:

     How ironic it is to learn that an unrepentant Communist had so much influence in "America's pastime." The flipside would be having Steve Forbes coach the Russian Hockey team.

     Well that might have worked better than having John Dupont coach the American wrestling team!

     So message received by the very impressionable and thoughtful, Jeffrey. This is the kind of guy it must be a pleasure to know. 

     You talk about Pavlov's Dog? I mean just ring the He was a Communist' bell and Mr. McEarlen commences foaming at the mouth. 

      Meanwhile, it's a lie. Miller was not a Communist or socialist.

     Miller and the players union had the one truly consistent pro capitalist position in baseball. The owners in all the big sports are the ones who want sociialism. For years they opposed free agency-which is a basic worker right of the capitalist system-to have labor mobility. 

     The owners wanted a salary cap, and when they fell on their face-in baseball; in the NFL they lacked a Marvin Miller and ended up with exactly that; even today NFL style 'free agency' is hardly free-and had to give up their precious salary cap they imposed a luxury tax and revenue sharing which in any case didn't lead to the 'small market' teams from spending more money on the players-thereby sort of falsifying the whole thesis that they wanted these things to achieve 'comeptitive balance.'

    What this does then is give fans the worst of all worlds-the revenue redistribution doesn't lead to more spending by the alleged small market teams but takes away the incentive of the big market teams-like my NY Yankees-to spend more. 

    Again, if you believe that the WSJ is 'libertarian' this makes no sense. If you understand that this word  is just a euphemism for reactionaries who want to bolster traditional authority it makes a lot of sense. 

    The goal of conservatives is not 'liberty'-even economic liberty as Miller's position promoted econoimc liberty at any term-while they slander him as a Communist. It's about traditional authority-the power of the owners over the players in this case. 

    What this episode shows is that their reactioary agenda is totally in line with socialism. The baseball owners are not capitalists but they are true conservatives. 

      The writer, Henry D. Fetter finishes off with this illogical idea:

      "Miller’s unyielding defense of players accused of wrongdoing was criticized even by his admirers, as was his denial that steroid abuse was a problem and his opposition to the mandatory drug testing of players. He lambasted fans who complained that mediocre players were receiving inflated paychecks, saying that they were ignorant of the business realities of the sport. But Miller also understood that, as he told one team owner, “when it comes to collective bargaining, bankrupt is a dirty word.”

      "Along with vastly increased player compensation, the sport’s annual revenues have grown from $50 million in 1966 to $9 billion. Nowadays millionaire players face off against billionaire owners, and it is the fan who finds that his interests lack a voice in the councils of the game. At the same time, baseball has ceded its claim to being the “national pastime” to football, which now far outstrips baseball in popularity. Mr. Burk does not consider whether the changes in baseball resulting from the rise of the Players Association may have contributed to that loss of status. No one can deny Miller’s revolutionary influence on the sport. Whether it was always “in the best interests of baseball” will be endlessly debated."

      Regarding bankruptcy, a basic pillar of labor law is that for an employer to cry poverty, they have to show their books. 

      This idea that baseball has become less popular than football is absurd. For the record, football players make pretty good money these days themselves-so it's not as if fans are attracted the leagues where the players have the lowest salaries. Otherwise, the NHL would be King, rather than a distant fourth among the Big 4. 

    The main reason that football as surpassed baseball is that the NFL handled tv contracts much ore skillfully and adeptly. 

     P.S. I did have high hopes for the piece. No question Miller belongs in the Hall but could the WSJ publish a piece saying so? I had my doubts which naturally were well placed. If the Journal had done so, they'd be on better ground to claim they care about 'liberty.'


On Americans and Libertarianism

     There's a debate about how libertarian Americans care. Krugman says not very. At FiveThrityEight, Harry Enten wants to suggest otherwise:

      Enten's point is that not many Americans would call themselves libertarians but that many take certain libertarian positions. A big part of Krugman's point is that there is no natural constituency for Rand Paul which I think is right. His problem is to the extent that he seems to be so critical of the use of US military force. If he continues to sound like his Dad-and sometimes Noam Chomsky-he certainly will have no such constituency in the GOP

     At to Enten's argument, there's some truth as far as it goes. However, what it seems to me is that in US politics the term 'libertarian' has been rather degraded. It's just a euphemism for a conservative. Certain leading conservative thinkers have actually claimed to be libertarian,but, when you examine it they're libertarianism is mostly on the economic side. When libertarians have supported things like gay rights or abortion rights-even Barry Goldwater-they've muted these positions and focused on the common aims of the GOP Right.

     More from Enten:

     "Does this make any sense? Why should views on (for example) gay marriage, taxation, and U.S. policy toward Iran have much of anything to do with one another?2 The answer is that it suits the Democratic Party and Republican Party’s mutual best interest to articulate clear and opposing positions on these issues and to present their platforms as being intellectually coherent. The two-party system can come under threat (as it potentially now is in the United Kingdom) when views on important issues cut across party lines."

      "That’s bad news for candidates like Rand Paul. Nonetheless, the rigidly partisan views of political elites should not be mistaken for the relatively malleable and diverse ones that American voters hold."

      What I think is that I-and most liberal Democrats-tend towards the libertarian side on social issues-but libertarians, again, either don't focus on social issues or minimize them.

      That they have no trouble getting into bed with conservatives who have some of the most reactionary positions imaginable on social issues makes me skeptical that they're libertarianism on social issues is very strong or they wouldn't be able to keep the alliance. 

      Another thing I tend towards a more libertarian position on is steroids-why should they be banned in baseball-much less HGH? Yet libertarians never extend their argument here. 

      Or how about gambling-even-or even online poker? Why does libertarians not defend the right of adults to play online poker? It just shows that such libertarianism is indistinguishable from conservatism. 

        UPDATE: Krugman actually has the answer for Enten here if he had read it:

       "Well, the best story I have is Corey Robin’s: It’s fundamentally about challenging or sustaining traditional hierarchy. The actual lineup of positions on social and economic issues doesn't make sense if you assume that conservatives are, as they claim, defenders of personal liberty on all fronts. But it makes perfect sense if you suppose that conservatism is instead about preserving traditional forms of authority: employers over workers, patriarchs over families. A strong social safety net undermines the first, because it empowers workers to demand more or quit; permissive social policy undermines the second in obvious ways."

      I don't get Enten's puzzlement of why opposition to gay marriage, your position on Iran diplomacy, and tax cuts for the rich tend to go together if he read Krugman here. Maybe he would have read the whole thing first?

     It perfectly answers my point about why libertarians don't defend the right to even gamble or play online poker. They are phony upholders of 'liberty' even on economic issues they often take the anti-libertarian view. Looking back, the most consistent believer in an unadulterated free market was Marvin Miller and his baseball players union but no GOPers or 'libertarian's jumped in against socialists like Bud Selig.

     This is actually the best way to describe the Republican party: on the side of all forms traditional forms of authority-whether this be an 'economic' 'political' or 'cultural' issue. 


On Clinton Cash Book Liberals Should not Dignify These Lies With a Response

     I'm serious. Haven't we been down this road enough times by now that for once we just rule stories like this out of hand before the fact? Do we have to always waste weeks and months on non issues and non stories?

     Too often even the alleged liberals are too credulous about these fake scandals. Paul Waldman is better than he was on Hillary's email-did you know she has a sever?!! A server?!!! I mean, sure, Jeb Bush has a server too but obviously that's totally different as even a fool could see!

     He's much improved and admits that we've seen this movie before and we have a right to be skeptical. Yet, this irks me here:

    "Furthermore, the fact that Peter Schweizer is a conservative operative whose previous books include such classics of objective journalism as “Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles In Liberal Hypocrisy” and “Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less…and Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals” does not, in and of itself, mean his charges have no merit. You can write a partisan book whose arguments are based on verifiable facts. But it does mean those charges should be checked and rechecked before they’re simply passed on to the public with the usual “questions are being raised” justification."

     Being 'partisan' by itself doesn't mean the charges have no merit. But the subtitle of "Makers and Takers' is so ludicrous that in itself it ought to make you very skeptical. 

    Furthermore, he's not any normal partisan. He's a very well paid GOP hack with a track record of getting these things very wrong.

     Waldman is right that Americans probably give Hillary more benefit of the doubt as we've had literally countless numbers of such silly books and fake scandals during her 24 years in the public eye. 

     "There are obviously many conservatives who continue to believe that the path to defeating Hillary Clinton lies in uncovering some previously unrevealed scandal. The idea is that once Americans realize the true depths of her corruption, then they will at last turn away from her (and her husband) in disgust. That’s possible. But as I have argued, she may enjoy a presumption of innocence when it comes to scandal that other politicians don’t, precisely because so many supposedly shocking Clinton scandals have come and gone without producing evidence of serious wrongdoing. New allegations of quid pro quo involving the Clinton Foundation and the State Department might be something different, or they might be much like all the other faux-scandals we’ve seen."

    Might be. Sure, but what are the odds that this will be something different? It's hardly the toss-up Nate Silver says 2016 will be. 

     To me, if Hillary is innocent till proven guilty, Schweizer is guilty till proven innocent.

    "As Media Matters has documented, Schweizer has a record of making inaccurate claims, factual errors, and retractions. Much of Clinton Cash also relies on previously reported issues. But the Clinton Foundation’s finances have come under scrutiny ever since President Obama asked the charity to discloseits donors as a condition of Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State. The foundation also agreed to stop taking contributions from most foreign governments during Clinton’s tenure. Still, media investigations have raised concerns about potential conflicts of interests stemming from the charity’s private donors."

    I also have a real probem with Think Progress here:

     "Clinton herself dismissed the book as a “distraction.” But the allegations may not go away anytime soon; in an unusual arrangement, several top media outlets have reportedly agreed to further investigate some of the issues raised in the book."

     I'm sure the writer would just say their being honest, that it's not necessarily what they want, it's just descriptive, but, I worry that there is something self-fulfilling about saying that. I mean TP as a big part of the liberal media has some control about what the story is and what it isn't. If they take the attitude that this will be around a long time, there's a better chance it will be. 

    This is what Waldman and Sargent were saying during Emaligate. Liberals should demand that this not be a long term story. 

     I am going to put on my advocate hat here and charge that real liberals should resist this piece of yellow journalism with everything they have. To fatalistically accept it is absurd. This man, Schweizer is a paid liar and he works for lots of paid liars. 

      Real liberals should not for one moment dignify this piece of hackery with anything but what it deserves: contempt. 

     What's more, they must relentlessly shame the NY Times and Washington Post for crossing the line from journalism to aiding and abetting the Republican party's opposition research arm by working with Schweitzer. 

     The Times and W. Post are sullying the names of these fine institutions by doing any kind of business with such hackery. 


The Florida GOP: Chanting 'Liberty' While Engaged in Tyranny

     The state GOP itself is now in straight up civil war over whether or not to accept the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. The horrendous GOP Governor Rick Scott is doubling down; the senate GOP wants a 'conservative'  Medicaid expansion; the state House GOP is in lockdown mode. 

     "Now things are getting truly crazy in Florida. Legislators who oppose the Medicaid expansion are locking reporters out of meetings about the issue. And Republicans who support it are saying this episode is now reflecting badly on the national GOP."

    "Background: State Senate Republicans support a “conservative” version of the expansion.  The administration may withhold federal money for the Low Income Pool — which pays hospitals to treat the uninsured — that Scott and Republicans prefer, and instead wants Florida to take the expansion money, which would cover at least 800,000 Floridians. But that’s Obamacare, so Americans for Prosperity, Governor Scott and state House Republicans are dug in against it. Result: A budget impasse that’simperiling, among other things, the tax cuts Republicans want."

     "About Representative Wood chanting “liberty” at the assembled reporters: It’s worth noting that state House Republicans and Scott want federal money to cover health care in the form of LIP; they just don’t want it if it’s part of “Obamacare.” Their ostensible reason is that the feds can’t be trusted to keep their end of the Medicaid bargain, leaving the state on the hook. But state Senate Republicans reject that argument.
     The irony is that Mr. Liberty may just have engaged in a crime against liberty. 
     "State law bans three or more lawmakers from discussing pending legislation behind closed doors. But the House Republicans walked right past the journalists, then locked out the media, in order to privately discuss the legislative battle over health care. Representative John Wood chanted ‘liberty’ as he walked past reporters camped in the hallway…"
       "Florida reporter Marc Caputo notes that the impasse could result in a government shutdown, which could hurt the state’s economy. And one Senate Republican is now arguing that the whole mess could be a “problem” for “the image of the Republican Party in America.”
       It's an interesting microcosm of GOP politics today. Anything but admit you like or support any aspect of Obamacare. This is the party that Nate Silver claims has a 50% chance of winning the White House in 2016?!
      P.S. Here, in my mind, Paul Waldman dignifies this upcoming hit piece on Hillary too miuch:
      "Furthermore, the fact that Peter Schweizer is a conservative operative whose previous books include such classics of objective journalism as “Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles In Liberal Hypocrisy” and “Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less…and Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals” does not, in and of itself, mean his charges have no merit. You can write a partisan book whose arguments are based on verifiable facts. But it does mean those charges should be checked and rechecked before they’re simply passed on to the public with the usual “questions are being raised” justification."
       Waldman is thankfully more skeptical than he and/or Greg Sargent have been in previous Right gotcha scandals-the Plum Line writers seemed to take that whole email fiasco much more seriously than it deserved and Sargent initally even took the fake IRS scandal as a big deal. 
      Ok, I can agree that a writer can be 'partisan' and still accurate and fact based-after all that's the premise of Diary of a Republican Hater. Still Schweizer is more than just partisan-he's cried wolf many times. Based on his track record he has no credibility.
      Why would you give a paid liar a fair hearing? To do so is dignifying him way too much. Waldman admits that Hillary gets the benefit of the doubt at this point-she's innocent till proven guilty as the GOP has cried wolf just so many times. But to me Schweizer is guilty until proven innocent and real liberals should treat him as such, rather than the usual David Brooks treatment.