Sunday, November 30, 2008

That's not very gangster

Reading ESPN (the worldwide leader in coverage of controversial black athletes), it turns out shooting himself in the leg was a very bad thing for Plaxico Burress to have done. I mean it's obviously something that one should studiously avoid doing but for an NFL wide receiver in particular, it's bad. A short list of the consequences:

- Getting charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
- Possibly getting put on the non-football related injury list, which would mean he couldn't return and wouldn't get paid.
- Badly damaging the repeat chances of a 10-1 Giants team.

And I'm sure there are more. This is on top of what must be the lingering discomfort of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Personally I think injuries sustained in nightclub violence should really be covered by the NFL's workman's comp package.

Just what I wanted to hear!

Jack Curry:
In addition to Minaya’s trade targets, the Mets are also evaluating the free agents Kerry Wood and Trevor Hoffman because they will be cheaper to sign than Rodríguez or Fuentes. Rodríguez will pursue a five-year, $75 million contract, and Fuentes could ask for a three-year deal for at least $30 million.

A 5yr/$75m contract for a relief pitcher is just bananas, in this or any other environment. Provided this story is actually true and not just part of the media strategy for the negotiation of a catastrophic free agent signing, I'm glad to hear that Omar thinks so too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yeah, longest and most abusive

[From Atlanta airport, where I'm trying to get my $7.95 worth out of 2 hours of access]

The Washington Generals of cable news has apparently decided he's had enough:

FOX News Channel’s (FNC) Alan Colmes will relinquish his role as co-host of Hannity & Colmes at the end of the year.

In announcing his decision, Colmes said, “I approached Bill Shine (FNC’s Senior Vice President of Programming) earlier this year about wanting to move on after 12 years to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network. Although it’s bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I’m proud that both Sean (Hannity) and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years.”

This one's for you, Alan:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gone 'til December

Leaving the country for Thanksgiving week. Light posting if any until next Monday.

Paul Mirengoff is clear-eyed

Of the three legs (globules?) of the Powerline stool, Paul Mirengoff is the one resting somewhere near reality. In the course of addressing Kathleen Parker's column that laid the blame for the collapse of the GOP at the feet of the Christian conservatives, or "oogedy boogedy branch" of the party, he writes the kind of thing that you will simply never, ever hear out of Hinderaker:

I'm not a member of the religious right, and the social issues that preoccupy it are less important to me than economic and foreign policy/national security issues. But considering the public's low regard in 2006 for key aspects of Republican foreign policy and its low regard in 2008 for Republican handling of the economy, no serious observer can claim in good faith that the religious right was our main problem in the past two elections. A pundit should be able to distinguish between (1) her own prejudices (even if they are shared by her friends, acquaintances, and readers) and (2) the nation's pulse.

Fortunately, we Republicans have plenty of time to sort out our differences. It's going to be a while before anyone cares much about what we have to say.
[Emphasis added]

Hear, hear! But how does such a realist (by conservative standards) feel about sharing a blog with a guy who recently wrote this:

Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn't raise his standards, he will exceed Bush's total before he is inaugurated. [Emphasis added]

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shaq's Twitter feed is kind of a must-read

About two hours ago: "Did anyone hear about da guy on da web dat commited suicide, my prayers go out to his family"

Good business press

Mike Santoli of Barron's (and CNBC) puts it in perspective:

The virtually unwitnessed level of damage in a short period almost defies hyperbole. After Thursday's drop to an 11-year low on the S&P 500, the index was farther below its all-time high than at any time since 1949. The year 2008, had it ended then, would rank as the worst since 1872 at least. The S&P hadn't been as far below its 200-day average since 1932. Nearly 40% of S&P 500 stocks were below $4 billion in market capitalization, the minimum new stocks must meet to be added to the index.

He sounds compelled by the value case, but concludes with a recommendation of not an equity ETF but a corporate bond ETF (because stocks are still that scary).

via Ritholtz

Matt Yglesias has no (0) use for businesspeople

Yglesias on what the business press thinks:

The basic business outlook is very focused on the key role of the executive. Good, profitable, growing firms are run by brilliant executives. And the ability of the firm to grow and be profitable is evidence of its executives’ brilliance. And profit ultimately stems from executive brilliance. This is part of the reason that CEO salaries need to keep escalating — recruiting the best is integral to success.

This is overstating the case. First, you have to separate the opinion pages of the business press (WSJ, Kudlow, IBD), which do spend a lot of time justifying income inequality, from the news and analysis pages, which aren't nearly as starry-eyed about celebrity executives. And really, no one actually spends much time arguing that profit "ultimately stems from executive brilliance." That's a blatant straw man.

By the end of the post, Yglesias is arguing (again) that there is literally nothing to being the chief executive of a major corporation, and that it's all a question of where the interchangeable parts happen to be resting on the grand roulette wheel of capitalism.

There's no need for liberals or opponents of excessive executive compensation to make arguments this facile. I wonder what Yglesias would think about the theory that all political commentary is basically interchangeable, and the authors who get jobs at The Atlantic and CAP just happen to have been lucky enough to be cranking out the right copy at the right time. Probably wouldn't care for it.

It's not easy to measure CEO performance against some baseline "replacement level" of executive effectiveness. Determining exactly how much credit Steve Jobs deserves for Apple's success is kind of a silly exercise, but the correct answer is not zero.

Massive deficit spending? Oh, hell yeah.

Having watched Obama's weekly YouTube address (something I don't plan on doing every week, as much as I like him), I'm pretty convinced that there really is going to be a very New Dealish public works program at the top of the agenda. This is different than when he was saying it during the debates, where who among us doesn't support Green Collar Jobs (Clinton's TM, actually). He's on the hook for one now. There has to be what looks like more or less a plan to employ 2.5 million people building schools and bridges and solar installations and such. That's not something that can be readily climbed down from, given the scrutiny he's been getting.

Late this week Floyd Norris, in a column which was bad for multiple reasons, scolded Obama for resigning his Senate seat and failing to craft a "bipartisan stimulus package that Bush could sign," saying he "missed an opportunity to exert leadership." And because it's not permissable to point out that George W. Bush is still very much president and maybe he shouldn't be taking so many pictures with women's college basketball teams or whatever they have him doing, this "It's on Obama now" meme has gained traction. So his coming out today with the 2.5 million jobs figure and the 2011 deadline that falls comfortably within his first term is a substantial ante.

Politically, there shouldn't be that much resistance. It should be very popular. It will be interesting to see what the intersection is, if any, between the future of the Big Three and the infrastructure program. I think that could be a nice job-and-face-saving way of winding down some unprofitable companies.

But however the thing turns out, I think it's definitely a good idea. The alternative prospect, of John McCain in office trying to cut non-defense government spending is chilling. Also, Obama's reported selection of Tim Geithner makes me happy as a (maybe the) big fan of the much-maligned financial bailouts. One reason the government should be comfortable borrowing even more than it already has is that everyone still thinks we're good for it. The US government's cost of borrowing is the yield on Treasury bills, and it hasn't been this low since the 1950s. Rather incredibly, we're still a safe haven for capital.

For all the applause (or hand wringing) about the Clinton, ex-Clintonites and Sensible Centrists populating his administration, this is a strong signal that Obama is not going to worry too much about prudish notions of "fiscal responsibility." He's going to run the FDR playbook, or as Rahm put it "throw long and deep." Here's hoping.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"We'll be blowing less smoke than usual this evening."

CNBC begins its 8pm special report with the anchor saying "Well we can't understate anything tonight."

What? You guys have been understating the extent of the problems? Never.

A sampler of dubious market analyses

Rather than venture any guesses as to just how bad things are going to get (very bad), and when they'll start getting better (later), I'll identify three reasons that aren't why the market is in free fall:

Josh Marshall - Obama wasn't sworn in two weeks ago
If I were really convinced that the government response to the crisis has been so bad, I'd be tempted to subscribe to this (maybe not publicly). But I'm not sure what the damning evidence is supposed to be. Hank Paulson asked for a lot of money. Got a chunk of it. Spent what he got. The markets continued to tank. What would Obama have done on November 5th to avert the stock price declines that followed? I mean the market knows he's the guy, so it's not a question of "visibility." There has to be some big policy change between what we have in real live 11/20/08 and alternate immediate-swearing-in reality version of same. I don't have a great idea what that would be and why it would be better. And in general, trying to pin blame for stock market declines definitively on just one person or thing is a huge waste of time.

Ezra Klein - [Ford and GM sold off on] Henry Waxman's glorious victory
Not crazy, but they were higher not long after the vote was made public, on a report that an auto bailout was going to happen. They only tanked when news came that nothing was going to happen on that front until December at earliest. Plus everything was getting sold heavily late in the day. Including the two publicly traded car companies that are on if not teetering over the brink of bankruptcy.

Daniel Henninger - The secular war on Christmas
Yes, really. As in people not saying "Merry Christmas." And obviously that's not just the stock market he's talking about. He means the real economy. It's a freakin' root cause. Nothing is too stupid for the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. [Read Brad at the link. This one really did a number on him.]

Waxman v. Dingell

So the H-Dog took the first round yesterday in the Steering Committee. Today is the whole caucus vote. Here's Jay Newton-Small's senior leadership source:

Member A, a Democratic Committee Chairman, routinely votes against the Party's position on defining issues, endorses the Republican candidate for President, spends months campaigning with that nominee, denounces Barack Obama as "naive" and "dangerous" and keynotes the Republican convention.

Member B, also a Democratic Chairman, raises more than $2 million to elect Democrats to Congress, helps expand the majority, helps deliver two new congressional seats in his home state and votes with the Party 97 percent of the time.

Which one gets an intraparty challenge for the gavel of the Committee?

Small adds: "In other words, many -- likely a majority -- in the Dem caucus don't feel Dingell deserves to lose his gavel."

But obviously the relevant comparison isn't between Dingell and Lieberman, now, is it? It's between Dingell and Waxman. The decision to let Lieberman keep his chairmanship was bad enough on its own merits. Now it's being used as an argument for letting another suboptimal committee chairman (for entirely different reasons) stay where he is?

It's not a question of whether Dingell "deserves" to keep his seat. It's a question of his representing Michigan, which puts him in a terrible position to facilitate climate change legislation. So here's hoping that Henry "The Ratface Killah" Waxman carries the day in the caucus at large. I read somewhere that the steering committee vote was relatively more Pelosi-influenced and therefore Waxman-friendly than today's vote will be, so it may be another disappointment.

He did it! Waxmania!

Get used to this face, America:

Schadenfreude by proxy

So the mall business isn't a great place to be these days. The second biggest operator in the country, General Growth Properties (GGP) is trading at about $0.30 a share, and reportedly just hired bankruptcy counsel, which rarely augurs well. While a sad commentary on the state of the American consumer and a case study in how overleveraged companies underestimated risk, the silver lining in the GGP story, if you're still a little bit raw about the whole Iraq War thing, is that Tom Friedman's wife is a member of the Bucksbaum family which owns a quarter of the company. So much for the family fortune.

Hence the Atrios headline: "Suck on this, Tommy Friedman"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My favorite Hollywood liberal

I like Tim Robbins and don't care who knows it. Highlights from his open letter to the Commissioner of the New York Board of Elections, who accused him (falsely, it appears) of trying to vote at the wrong polling place:

I would like to publicly apologize for being such a dim-witted dilettante on Election Day. I was under the naïve assumption that I could vote where I voted in the last two elections...

I must also thank you for sending your letter not to me but to all the major newspapers in the New York area and across the internet. I understand it was your way of clearing up this matter and for that I am grateful. I am particularly appreciative of your sending a copy of my voter registration card with my home address and driver's license number to all the newspapers and, by extension, to millions across the internet...

I was thinking of returning that favor by publishing your home address in this letter but then I thought that maybe one of the thousands of New Yorkers that were taken off the voter rolls in the last two months might not understand what a patriotic upstanding man you are and might show up at your doorstep with the misguided assumption that you are a petty vindictive corrupt scumbag.

Good stuff.

via Elizabeth Benjamin

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lieberman skates

One drawback of the Democrats' having won two election cycles fairly convincingly is that it gets harder and harder to accuse our dear leaders of being pathetic and hopeless. But letting Joe Lieberman remain the chairman of an important committee in the 111th Congress... that really smarts.

I don't think it's purely the absence of sweet, sweet retribution that has me so disappointed, either, although it could be 70% of it. It's that I can't believe it isn't a net negative to let your party's nominee and your party get so thoroughly slimed by somebody, and then pass up the opportunity to inflict as much damage as possible on that person's political career. More than that, actually. They're letting him retain authority that a) he hasn't made any use of so far, and b) could so easily be transferred to an actual Democrat.

If Reid et al could make a convincing case for the move on political/agenda-enacting grounds, I'd love to hear it. But they aren't going to be able to make that case in public (it has to be about not seeking "retribution" and "looking forward") and I don't even know what it would be in private. Nobody that follows senate committee assignments is going to switch parties over one. The people who don't follow committee assignments probably wouldn't be shocked to hear that a guy got demoted by the party that he said was essentially traitorous. And what's he going to do? Vote against Obama's domestic agenda out of spite? Everybody would know was his rationale, if he did it, and it would probably be the definitive end of him in 2012 (hopefully he'll be out anyway).

I just don't think you have to assign a huge amount of weight to the ultimately ephemeral notion of self-respect to think the need for its preservation outweighs the political downside of treating Joe Lieberman like the Republican mole he is. In fact, you'd think there'd be some downside in legitimizing the Republican mole by publicly declaring him a Democrat in good standing... when he's literally no longer a Democrat.

Again, they probably know what they're doing. But it's just staggering.

I'm going to have to stop reading the MSM accounts of this. Time's Jay Newton-Small:

In supporting Lieberman's continued inclusion in the Democratic caucus, [Obama] may have effectively defanged his toughest potential opponent in the Senate Democratic caucus. If Lieberman is anything, as he proved with John McCain, he's loyal — and now he owes Obama a big one.

Would that be bigger than the "big one" Lieberman owed Obama for endorsing him in his competitive 2006 race against the duly nominated Democrat? Because that little chip was already cashed in, in exchange for Lieberman's endorsing John McCain, and asking Americans to consider just why Obama was favored by Hamas. Joe Lieberman is nothing if not loyal!

Monday, November 17, 2008

File under: You've got to be kidding

In a not nearly tongue-in-cheek enough post, Steve Benen suggests Eliot Spitzer as a possible SEC chair:

Yes, he hired a call girl, but so did Sen. David Vitter (La.), and he's still a sitting Republican senator in good standing, who apparently plans to seek re-election. Yes, he committed adultery, but so did Newt Gingrich (thinking about running for president), Rudy Giuliani (thinking about running for governor), and John McCain (the most recent Republican presidential nominee). Do we
have to exclude Spitzer from addressing the issues on which he has considerable expertise?

Yes. Yes, we do. Not so much because of his exploits as Client #9, although there's enough pragmatist in me to think it should at least be taken into consideration.

The better reason not to trust Eliot Spitzer with an incredibly important and (at least until this crisis subsides) high profile position is his use of the NY State Police to dig up dirt on Joe Bruno, the Republican leader in the state legislature. That was very bad. It was enough to make me not like Eliot Spitzer anymore, which made things a lot easier when he did something that was less germane to his job performance but vastly more damaging to his career. It wasn't quite like, say, Karl Rove's successful efforts to get Don Siegelman jailed on bogus charges, but it was still a flagrant abuse of power and a perversion of the criminal justice system.

Also, despite his "expertise" in financial regulation, his actual track record in terms of prosecutions is extremely poor. At the time I was annoyed by (overwhelmingly right-wing) critics who said he was just doing it for the glory of perp walks and press conferences, but none of the high-profile Wall Street cases he brought actually resulted in prosecutions, which would have made it a lot easier to defend him from those accusations.

There are plenty of qualified, reform-minded Democrats who could serve as SEC Chair, and all of them would be better choices than Eliot Spitzer.

h/t Noam at Eschaton

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Boldly shrill or Unreadably awful?

I've tried following Corrente semi-regularly recently and I've now reached the conclusion that it's the most bloodcurdlingly awful liberal blog out there. Go ahead. Try a few posts. I dare you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Political activism? No fair!

I was disappointed that Prop 8 passed in California, and as I wrote before I don't have much sympathy for the Mormons who don't like that they're being demonstrated against. The argument that the No side should "protest" black people as well, since they voted at a 70% clip for the measure, is idiotic on its face as being black is not tantamount to membership in an organization that can be readily protested against.

But there's also something pathetic about this Pandagon post whining about how those damn Mormons played dirty by actually campaigning in support of the measure:

In the NYT article, ”Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage,” the details emerge about the win-at-all-costs strategy that seems less about pure belief and faith than political activism and bullying.

First approached by the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco a few weeks after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in May, the Mormons were the last major religious group to join the campaign, and the final spice in an unusual stew that included Catholics, evangelical Christians, conservative black and Latino pastors, and myriad smaller ethnic groups with strong religious ties.

And the bottom line is that the full-frontal assault by Yes on 8 came down to the fact that the Mormons were willing to go door to door in a systematic manner-- to make the difference. See how they did it below the fold.

What follows is the bill of particulars of their organizing efforts, and by the end of the post there's a certain amount of grudging admiration for the Mormon ground game (not to be confused with the Mormon passing game as practiced on Saturdays by BYU).

But still, there's this sense in the reaction to the passage of Prop H8 that something bizarre and nefarious happened to revoke gay people's civil rights, when a much simpler explanation presents itself in that laws permitting gay marriage are still not wildly popular. They're getting much more so, but even in California it was expected to be a close vote based on the polls, with the bad guys having a slight edge, and sure enough it was 52-49.

So go ahead and give the Mormons hell, and challenging their tax-exempt status sounds like a good idea to me, but spare me the whining about how they played dirty when all they did was successfully defend relatively favorable political terrain.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What getting it right looks like

Peter Schiff, we salute you.

Christie Whitman gets her proper gloat on

I'm not a big fan of Christine Todd Whitman. She was George W. Bush's EPA chief, which is a bad thing to have been, she doesn't have many admirers in Lower Manhattan, and in general I take a dim view of moderate Republicans on the theory that they should know better.

But I really got a kick out of watching her come back like Lazarus to tell them all how wrong they were to insist that the party had to continue catering to its fundie base. She apparently wrote a book when Bush was still popular arguing that the craziness had to stop, and is now calling out the critics by name. She actually uses the term "fundamentalists" too, and likens them to "hostage takers"[!]. Who doesn't love that? Too bad she stopped short of calling them the Taliban wing.

Her conclusion:

Unless the Republican Party ends its self-imposed captivity to social fundamentalists, it will spend a long time in the political wilderness. On Nov. 4, the American people very clearly rejected the politics of demonization and division. It's long past time for the GOP to do the same.

Don't hold your breath.

h/t TBogg

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Please, God, no.

Joe the Plumber now has a website. The URL?

Who will secure my dream of never hearing about this clown ever again?

Yglesias is responsible for bringing this to my attention, and I'm slightly irritated with him for it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Robotic what? headline:

08:32 - IRobot says that Congress has allocated $2 mln for it to develop its next-generation robotic platform warrior 700
Co announces that Congress appropriated $2 million to further develop the company's Warrior 700. "This funding will allow iRobot to expand its product line, which continues to evolve as the need for unmanned ground vehicles grows worldwide."

I'm somewhat comforted by the fact that the award is only $2 million. This is the company whose sole commercial product, I believe, is the Roomba automatic vacuum cleaner, and it's more than $2 million of R&D from there to the Terminator. Unsettling nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stomach hurts

If I were running a hedge fund, especially one that was down twice as much as the market this year, I'd be more than a little bummed to see that Bess Levin had obtained a copy of my investor letter.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Billy effing Beane: Matt Holliday to the A's

Well that's disappointing. Billy Beane has reportedly acquired Matt Holliday from the Rockies in exchange for Closer Huston Street (whose last year sucked, as I know from bitter fantasy league experience), young SP/RP Greg Smith, and OF prospect Carlos Gonzales.

Holliday should have been made a Met this offseason, dammit. A Met! He was worth paying for in talent, and the way you know that is that Billy Beane is usually the guy who sells the star for the prospects rather than the other way around. This time he's a buyer and he did it before any of the lesser lights from richer teams, like our very own Omar Minaya, even got their acts together.

But I'm sure Fernando Tatis's bat has plenty of offense left in it. Really.

h/t Eric Simon

Allied Capital finally cuts its dividend

Oh yes. Allied Capital (ALD) finally announced that the pyramid scheme (they don't use that term) has finally stopped growing, and they've cut the dividend. The stock is down $3.18 to $4.12 (for the non-financially savvy, when the amount of the decline is similar to the remaining price of the stock, it's called "a very bad day").

David Einhorn was absolutely right, people. He wrote a book about it (i.e. how ALD was a fraud) a while ago. It's time for the Allied apologists (one of whom I did a post on earlier) to admit that they were some combination of stupid and dishonest, and that they were wrong and they're sorry, unless they put their money where their mouth was in which case they already got what was coming.

From $30 to $4. What can you say now?

["Better safe than get investigated" disclosure: I work at a firm that used to have a short position in ALD.]

Al Franken now just 204 votes behind

Per the Minnesota SOS. I really, really would love to see him eke out a 10 vote victory or something and watch that shifty little homunculus Norm Coleman find another line of work. In the meantime, it's gratifying to see the pre-recount gap closing as the posts over at Powerline get more and more alarmed.

In a month or so I want to hear one of these insufferable Jon Meacham-style pundits talk about how we're a center-right country that just happens to have Al Franken representing a midwestern state.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The soft bigotry of low expectations

Apparently the Bush White House is really transitioning the shit out of the place, at least judging from the number of reports like this:

It's also heartening to see how closely and amicably the current White House is working with the incoming one to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. In a moment of economic crisis at home--and continued threat of terrorism from abroad--chaos is something the country simply cannot afford as it hands power from one administration to the next. And here, President Bush deserves enormous credit.

Enormous credit? What interest does he have in making things worse for the Obama administration? I mean he's a Republican, but his political career is over for all sorts of reasons. He's off to fill his coffers, so if anything he has an interest in making sure the economic crisis isn't needlessly prolonged by a disoriented executive branch. I guess it would be fair play if they removed the "O" keys from all the keyboards or something, but I don't see Bush as deserving of special commendation for not encouraging that.

Still, I myself sometimes struggle to avoid giving Bush credit, to paraphrase Chris Rock, for not doing stuff that you're not supposed to do. You're not supposed to start unnecessary wars, so stopping at just one shouldn't garner much applause. But for so long it looked like the operating principle of the Bush administration was "Fuck everything up as much as you can" that now as it starts to wind down, really, really small demonstrations of sanity, competence, or concern for the public good seem like counterintuitive, man-bites-dog stories.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I resent your objections to my bigotry.

In India:
The rise of an intense brand of identity politics, with India’s many communities mobilizing for political power, has intensified the problem. An accusation that a piece of art or writing is offensive is an easy way to whip up the sentiments of a particular caste, faith or tribe, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, an Indian political scientist, points out. He calls it “offense mongering.”

In the United States:
It is disturbing that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is being singled out for speaking up as part of its democratic right in a free election... Once again, we call on those involved in the debate over same-sex marriage to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility towards each other. No one on either side of the question should be vilified, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

Should have burned the money

Pretty in-depth breakdown of the bullpen situation over at Yahoo (which is kind of the Mets of internet companies). The thing that jumped out at me was that Scott Schoeneweis is owed $3.6 million for next year.

That's just inexcusable. That I do not forgive.

At least Omar's apparently willing to eat "some" of that contract to move him, but I hope he's hungry, because for a guy who somehow managed to keep his ERA under 4.00 last year, Schoeneweis is as bad as it gets. And in general, a relief pitcher has to be decidedly good to be worth much more than the minimum.

Photo by Cobalt

Friday, November 07, 2008

Play Free Bird!

Or the Zelda theme. Whatever.

via TechCrunch

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Now is the time for pettiness

Why is there even discussion about what to do about Joe Lieberman?

This scumbag was re-elected representing the Connecticut for Lieberman Party, running against the duly nominated Democrat as the de facto Republican in the race. He just finished stumping across the country for the Republican nominee. He should be treated as hostile and efforts should be made to have a real Democrat replace him in 2012. Ned Lamont wasn't a very good candidate, but he still put up a pretty good showing despite his batshit crazy opponent getting endorsed by Barack Obama and other national Dems, and of course the GOP, which provided the bulk of his votes.

There are limits to what the Democratic leadership can do to him, but it should definitely explore them.

Financial cops

DealBreaker's occasionally rightward political bent can be annoying at times, but I tend to agree that this is what the financial "police force" would look like. I still appreciate the sentiment Dodd was trying to get across. This isn't 'Nam. There are rules.

Brian Fuentes has his people talk to Omar's people

Via Eric Simon, who says of the 4 year/$44 million proposal (from Fuentes): "Knock that down to three years at the same annual salary and I'm a buyer. Sure as hell beats five years and $75 million for Francisco Rodriguez."

I agree completely. I wrote this past year that Fuentes was not some just some shmoe who happened to get some saves for a club that had no other options. He's good enough to be a real upgrade over Sanchez/Heilman/Feliciano/who the hell knows. But he's also 33 years old, which means the line has to be drawn at three years. No exceptions of the sort they made for Pedro (and look how that turned out).

Waiting on Rahm

I lean slightly towards the "good sign" camp on what the offer of the chief of staff position to Rahm Emanuel portends for the Obama administration. But one thing I don't understand is why the offer was made and then allowed to just hang out there unaccepted while Rahm agonizes about whether he wants the job or not. I mean I appreciate it's not necessarily a no-brainer career move for him, but it still seems like it would have been preferable for the Obama people to keep it quiet, and have Rahm keep quiet, until he'd accepted.

There we go. I guess it was only one day...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008



That'd do nicely

For the record, I wholeheartedly approve of this Javier Vazquez rumor. I'm not sure what the specs are on Citi Field, but if the fences are deep it would make him an even better fit. He's capable of mowing down hitters but his mistakes tend to go a long way. And obviously he's not exactly a young man anymore so I'd like for the contract to be 3 years max, but I'd rather see Minaya put the money to work in the rotation than end up in some godawful bidding war for Francisco Rodriguez.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Leveraged long

On the presidential race I'm staking out the relative high end of the prediction spectrum:

On the close Senate pickups I think I'm on the more pessimistic side, except for Franken (who doesn't seem like a lock by any means). Good guys first:

CO - Udall beats Schaffer*
NH - Shaheen beats Sununu
MN - Franken beats Coleman
OR - Merkley beats Smith
NC - Hagan loses to Dole
GA - Martin loses to Chambliss
KY - Lunsford loses to McConnell

* This race hasn't been close for a while but it bears mentioning because Schaffer, from what I've seen from their Meet the Press debate and certain Youtubes, is almost comically unappealing.

h/t to Ross Douthat for the embeddable prediction map.

Best "To be sure..." graf ever.

John Hinderaker of Powerline (Check the spiffy new masthead. Excuse me but are those Greek columns of the sort Hindrocket personally ridiculed Obama for having as a backdrop to his nomination speech? If it's grandiose for that occasion, isn't it necessarily ridiculous to have as the full-time masthead of your hilarious right wing blog?) wrote a post today entitled "Ray of Hope," which contains relatively upbeat polling data for McCain. But he can't bring himself to get too enthused:

"The [sic] is the strongest evidence we have of a late McCain surge, although lots of other polls aren't picking it up. Here's the real problem: even if these numbers are right, it's hard to see how McCain can get to the 270 electoral votes he needs to win. Assume that he wins all the states where he is now leading. Assume further that he wins all six of the above states, although the Fox/Rasmussen surveys show him trailing by significant margins in two. Assume that in addition he pulls upsets in Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, where the latest Rasmussen poll has him down by six... Even on all of those rosy assumptions, he's still not to 270. He needs two more states."

Keep hope alive, John.

CNN leaving no wingnut behind

Another lying asshole gets a seat on the CNN gravy train.

h/t Atrios

Dept. of Safe Predictions

Krugman: "You might think, perhaps hope, that Republicans will engage in some soul-searching, that they'll ask themselves whether and how they lost touch with the national mainstream. But my prediction is that this won't happen any time soon."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Immersion Scarf

Disconcerting evidence that technological advancement has reached a plateau of sorts: