Monday, June 15, 2009

Run, Michele, Run

Michele Bachmann is not ruling out a run for governor of Minnesota. I sure hope she does it, and then runs for president. The more profile the better, I say.

As unpopular as he was/is, Dick Cheney had I thought an uncanny ability to make totally crazy ideas seem like just what all commonsense, God-fearing Americans believed. But with Bachmann the alien at the controls is way visible. There might as well be antennae coming up from the back of her head.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Jerry Manuel knows the deal

From Bart Hubbuch:

When asked if he would stress fundamentals in spring training next year, Jerry Manuel laughed and said: "If I'm still here ..." #Mets

I don't think Manuel is much of a manager, so I'm not exactly rooting for him to keep his job, but he's pretty appealing personally.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stop hitting Wright 5th

Speaking of Manuel, I completely agree with JamesK:

Wright leads the league in on-base percentage and is batting in a lineup spot that will end up with ~50 fewer plate appearances than the 2 spot over the course of a season. I don't want to hear nonsense about how Wright has better numbers in the 5 spot, or how he changes his approach when batting in other places in the order. Bat him 3rd, 2nd, or heck even 1st. Just not 5th.

Bobby V is huuge in Chiba

Former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, whom I always liked, is downright beloved by fans of the Chiba Lotte Marines, the Japanese team he's managed for years (with a championship in 2005). They got 100,000 signatures on a petition to the team to retain his services, which requires about 15,000 more people than voted for Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial primary.

Fans in the right field seats at Chiba Marine Stadium wear T-shirts saying “Bobby 2010” and wave huge signs with slogans like “No Bobby, No Marines,” and “Always Behind Bobby.”

I wish I had that kind of appreciation for Jerry Manuel.


"[W]hatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased."

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ed Whitacre is the new chairman of GM?

Pretty shocked by the news that Ed Whitacre is being allowed to run GM. And it's not because he said he doesn't "know anything about cars," which is the hook of HuffPo's 108pt (I mean enough already) headline. Whitacre is right that at the highest levels executive competence doesn't require any detailed knowledge of the actual product or service a given company sells.

But Ed Whitacre is also the guy who helped the Bush administration do their illegal spying and then, when he was called before Congress to answer questions about said cooperation, basically told Congress to go fuck itself. I can't find the video, unfortunately. It's really chilling. One of the most memorable moments of the Bush era, for me. The CEO of a huge telco, before Congress, acting like nothing was going to come of this "massive illegal wiretapping" business. And of course he was proven right.

In lieu of video, here's the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

A Senate hearing Thursday intended to explore the consumer impact of a proposed AT&T-BellSouth merger instead turned into a contentious face-off over phone privacy.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) asked AT&T Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre whether his company had turned over phone records to any law enforcement agency. The question stemmed from his concerns about a report last month in the newspaper USA Today involving the National Security Agency's use of phone records.

"The privacy of our customers is utmost [in importance] and we follow the law," Whitacre replied.

The senator repeatedly asked for a fuller explanation, but Whitacre only said again and again that "we follow the law."

Specter, appearing increasingly impatient, said, "I think that answer is contemptuous of this committee."

Suggesting more hearings would follow, he told Whitacre, "you and I will talk about this further."

Ooooooh, scary. And now this tan golem of unaccountable corporate power is the chairman of GM, which is largely government-owned. Perfect. And let this be a lesson to those who would cross Arlen Specter!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Get 'im

Barney Frank on the transparent hackery of Arlen Specter, converted Democrat:

But as an elected official, I have to say I don't think he did our profession any good. First of all, to announce that it was done purely so he could survive. Secondly, his performance since then has been very disappointing. In particular, what troubled me was when he was quoted as saying, "Well..." In terms of no Jewish Republicans, the answer should have been, Who cares? That's not a relevant issue. But then, when he said, Oh, but I'm confident the courts in Minnesota will do justice to Norm Coleman, and then said, Oh, I forgot which side I'm on!--forget about forgetting which side he's on. What that says is, his view of what the law should be depends on what party he's in. This notion that your view of what's an appropriate legal decision depends on your party is shocking for a guy who's supposed to be this great lawyer.


Worst headline of the day

"Surgery has Favre closer to unretiring?"

If Brett Favre really makes another comeback, the doctor who performed that surgery should go down next to Samuel Mudd as one of history's least responsible MDs. I don't know what he could have been thinking, but he surely isn't a sports fan because every sports fan on the planet is sick to death of Brett Favre comeback and Brett Favre comeback speculation stories. Everyone wants him to go away.

He's done. It's over. NFL teams need to not make inquiries about him. If baseball teams can let Barry Bonds stay retired, even though he'd probably be one of the AL's better designated hitters the moment he signed, then football teams can damn well stop poking Brett Favre's surgically enhanced corpse.

Snarlin' Arlen gets transactional

Arlen Specter to Pennsylvania unions: "I swear to God I was just kidding about being a Republican."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Tom Glavine not happy about getting cut

So old Tom Glavine, after getting his 43 year-old bag of bones in good enough condition to pitch pretty effectively in his rehab starts, was unceremoniously released by the Atlanta Braves, the same team that employed him for the vast majority of his Hall of Fame career. With a young Tommy (Hanson) ready to join the big league rotation, there was no room for the old Tommy.

Rob Neyer doesn't blame Glavine for being upset at the release. Neither do I, since it seems there's nothing he could have done to avoid it, yet the Braves strung him along. But I also agree with Neyer that he probably doesn't have a leg to stand on, legally.

One thing I'd add: The Braves should have absolutely seen a grievance/lawsuit coming. Tom Glavine is the wrong guy to pull any kind of shenanigans with, having been heavily involved with the player's union for as long as I can remember. So it's not implausible that the labor/management struggle is what's really driving him here rather than an extra $1 million in career earnings.

... or maybe he's not thrilled with the Braves official story (i.e. that he's throwing batting practice), and convinced himself that it was financial considerations alone that made them go with the newer models.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

That doesn't sound good

The Onion is not impressed with the new Dave Matthews Band album:

Big Whiskey is arguably the band’s heaviest record to date; regrettably, DMB’s approximation of “heavy” translates to more electric guitar where there were once acoustic doodles, and an unhinged Matthews hollering “I want to believe in Jesus!” over generic guitar-and-drums squall.

They're both right!

Carlos Beltran: "The reality of this is coming here to Pittsburgh and getting swept, me, I feel embarrassed."

Pittsburgh Pirate Adam LaRoche on Beltran's comment: "I think it shows zero class and zero professionalism."

Personally I don't have a problem with Beltran saying what he said. I like an athlete who's not afraid to provide some real talk, and the Pirates are by any fair-minded assessment a very bad team that a prospective world champion should be embarrassed to get swept by.

But it remains very insulting to say as much, and you can't expect the Pirates to appreciate it. And note how LaRoche shrewdly declines to refute Beltran's premise (i.e. that the Pirates suck), and instead makes it a character issue. "Class" is a very big term in sports media. It's the central, catch-all term for all personal, non playing-related virtues: kindness, generosity, not committing sexual assault, etc.

So that's what LaRoche had to hit back with, and hit back he did. Good for him. And it's a shot that will probably get more traction for the fact that Beltran-bashing is surprisingly en vogue these days. Idiots like Steve Phillips were already arguing that Beltran is woefully short on intangibles. They might not have thought to take the Pirates comment as "clubhouse cancer" fodder but thanks to LaRoche they probably will now.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"Tribal justice"

Back when Pat Buchanan was using his endowed chair on MSNBC to attack the Bush administration on Iraq, it was tempting to forget that he's super-duper racist.

It's almost like he knows what he's doing

Politico on Obama's nomination of Republican Jack McHugh for Army secretary:

Yet [besides McHugh being a good pick on the merits] it’s also hard to find a choice better calibrated to meet the Obama administration’s political imperatives. All at once, Obama has selected a nominee who burnishes his bipartisan credentials, opened up a seat prime for Democratic pickup and drained the GOP reservoir of one of the few remaining Northeastern moderates.

McHugh is pictured between his fellow Vichy Republicans, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and future ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. I just hope the opposition will have actually been coopted to some great effect in terms of legislative achievements, and not just to make the '12 election a Bloomberg '09-style formality.


Monday, June 01, 2009

There's no crying in activist investing

I've been a big Bill Ackman fan over the years. Made a lot of great calls. Put on a great show on Charlie Rose. So I'm trying to figure out some way to find it okay that at the Target annual meeting, after getting pulverized in his proxy fight with the board, he actually cried a little bit. But I can't. I don't care how much value his strategy would have unlocked, it's disappointing.

Ohmigawd I hadn't even gotten to the part where he responds to Joe Nocera (who reported the tearing-up) with a letter running 5,000 words! Bill, come back to us!

Update 2:
Words 13-18 out of 5,000 are "I also have a thick skin..."

Found a problem with Bing

Microsoft has a new search app called Bing which is getting good reviews. But I found a pretty glaring flaw about two minutes into fiddling around with it:

In video search results, when you mouse-over a video thumbnail, it starts to play, with a mute/unmute toggle. If you turn the audio off and mouse-over some other thumbnail that looks more interesting, and decide it is, when you try to unmute that video you're turning on the audio from both of the videos that are playing. Who wants to hear multiple videos at the same time?

Phoenix - "Lisztomania"