Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Max Ramirez is undervalued by Texas Rangers, and fans

Give Max a year to adjust to major league pitching, and he will become a World Championship caliber hitter: he will be a difference maker in the mold of an Edgar Martinez. The Rangers, before they blithely ship Max Ramirez off in exchange for some average major leaguer, might fully consider the difficulty of acquiring a hitter of such skill.

Video: Max Ramirez takes batting practice.

The thing which is taken as a given

It's taken as a given, amongst many, that the right are more ignorant, violent, racist (and other ists), selfish, greedy; that the principles and ideas of the right are more grounded in ignorance, racism, selfishness, greed.

Now, this opinion, i.e. this thing which is taken as a given: cannot be proven or disproven. It is based on anecdotal evidence, and on faith. As such, this thing which is taken as a given is both like an undisprovable faith-based religious belief, and like an ism such as sexism or racism.

What is the difference between saying: "women are more unreasonable and unstable", vs. saying "the right is more violent and hate-filled"? Neither statement can be proven or disproven. Both statements are supported only by anecdotal observation. The only difference is the former is considered regrettably misguided; and the latter is considered - by many - to be a necessary given if a conversation is to be intelligent and reasoned.

What is the difference between saying "Black people are more lazy and dense" vs saying "the right is more selfish and ignorant"? Neither statement can be proven or disproven. Both statements are supported only by anecdotal observation. The only difference is the former is considered regrettably misguided; and the latter is considered - by many - to be a necessary given if a conversation is to be intelligent and reasoned.

The demand

Amongst many persons on the left - i.e. amongst neighbors in our workplaces, churches, schools, media - when political discussion arises: there is an always implicit, and sometimes explicit, demand for the other person to acknowledge the thing which is taken as a given. Inside this demand exists an assertion:
If my conversational partner refuses to acknowledge the thing which is taken as a given, then s/he reveals theirself to be either ignorant and/or deceptive; and then intelligent and reasoned conversation is not possible.
It's a DEMAND: ACKNOWLEDGE this thing which is a given! I DEMAND IT!

The weakness

Regrettably, I have often caved and acknowledged the thing which is taken as a given. I suspect I am representative of many persons. I didn't cave b/c I believed it. I do not believe it. At all. The assumption, in my opinion, is foolish, misguided, and often used as a ploy to gain power inside a conversation.

Rather, I caved to the pressure which seems, to me, still, to be so heavily in the air and in the culture. I assented, yielded, gave in - one way or another - to what was a lie. I thought I wanted to join certain conversations. I wanted to be thought of as an intelligent person: as a person on the inside, as a person in the smart set. I was weak.

No more. I'm not as weak as I once was. I do not care what opinions of me are held by those who believe the thing which is taken as a given. If I am excluded from their conversations because of my opinion, then they are doing me a favor.

The contradiction

If the right's ideas are grounded in ignorance, hatred, greed, et al: then these ideas can be handily discredited based upon lack of merit, and ought be. Can you imagine? Ideas based in ignorance?! So easy to shred such ideas! Ideas based in hatred? Shred them! Ideas based in greed? Shred them! With glee! With ease!

Therefore exists no necessity to discredit based upon accusation of ignorance, hatred, greed, et al which is grounded in anecdotal evidence, only. Rather, the stronger case to make, and the forthright and upright case to make, is about lack of merit of the ideas and reasoning which are laughably based in ignorance, hatred, greed, et al. It's perplexing, it seems a contradiction, when someone asserts the difficult-to-make anecdotal evidence argument, and thus ignores the easier option of shredding inferior reasoning.

The following clip of Ed Schultz is funny: Ed keeps walking into roundhouse punches directly to his nose. Heh. However, the clip is also germane b/c Ed displays the "demand" which I reference in the blogpost: Ed demands acknowledgement of a thing which is taken as a given (i.e. the right are more violent). Ed sets up acknowledgement as a precondition to having an intelligent and reasoned conversation with him. If you refuse to pay the price; refuse to acknowledge that which Ed demands, then poor Ed is forced to apologize to his viewers for having you on his show. Poor Ed is forced to declare: "this is how the righties operate: they can't even give good commentary without attacking". B/c I find quirky things amusing, and b/c of my experiences in the blogosphere: I find this perhaps funnier than it is. But it does get me laughing.

Richard Fernandez on adaptive optics.
Dr. Helen and Jeff Goldstein: How should conservatives deal with the Left's lack of empathy?


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Punishing Honduras: Why?

While the U.S. cuddles with various enemies: we punish Israel and we punish Honduras
Participants in those talks say Dan Restrepo, senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council, let slip that the U.S. interest had to do with American politics. The Republicans, he said, were using the administration's support for Mr. Zelaya, an ally of Venezuelan Hugo Chávez, against the Democrats. It's not going to work, Mr. Restrepo is said to have informed the other negotiators, because "we have the power" and would be keeping it for a long time.
Four months after a presidential election, reports from Honduras suggest the Obama administration remains obsessed with repairing its foreign-policy image by regaining the upper hand. The display of raw colonialist hubris is so pronounced that locals now refer to U.S. ambassador Hugo Llorens as "the proconsul."

Washington's bullying is two-pronged. First is a maniacal determination to punish those involved in removing Mr. Zelaya. Second is an attempt to force Honduras to allow Mr. Zelaya, who now lives in the Dominican Republic, to return without facing any repercussions for the illegal actions that provoked his removal. Both goals are damaging the bilateral relationship, polarizing the nation and raising the risk of a resurgence of political violence.

If Zelaya returns and Honduras prosecutes him for trying to install himself as dictator for life: the Obama Administration will be further exposed as having been on the wrong side of this issue.

The Honduras miscalculations easily typify the weaknesses of both the President and his administration. Honduras was an easy call for even a mediocre POTUS. Obama didn't measure up to even that standard. He blew it. Then, rather than minimize the damage and move on (which would have been best for both Honduras and the U.S.A.), Obama has now spent 10 months trying to regain control of the narrative via bullying and punishing Honduras. Laughably inept. Detestably despicable.

More at the link.

Related: La Gringa's Blogicito


Monday, March 29, 2010

Everything I Know About Batting


Ernie Banks. In Tucson? Late 1960s? Banks' swing was effortless, perfectly balanced, and generated power.

Ernie Banks grew up in Dallas, TX.

I was fortunate to receive good instruction as a young player. Here are some of the best instructions I received:

Watch the ball meet the bat.

Hit the ball in front.

Think of hitting a pitch with a hammer in your bottom hand: you would not make contact with the hammer beside your belly button, but rather with the hammer beside your front hip. Contact with the baseball should be made right at your front hip. The angle of the bat should be square to the hip, and the bat head square to the ball [as a hammer would be square to a nail].

Swing level

This is more of a mental suggestion for swings in the upper part of the strike zone. It prevents chopping at pitches which are too high; it prevents a loopy swing.

Southern Brother and I fight it out over this instruction near the bottom of this post. He prefers: "keep your hands above the ball". I think that is an unnecessarily complicated instruction for a young child. He argues he has successfully taught it to numerous young children.

When you step in, make sure your bat can touch the outside edge of the plate.

You'll never, ever be a hitter if you swing at high pitches.

Let's talk about this one. It is the truest thing ever. Many hitters never reached their potential b/c they never stopped swinging at high pitches. Here's the cure for swinging at high pitches: swing level when swinging at the top of the strike zone. If you are swinging level, you cannot get your hands high enough to swing at a fantastically high pitch.

Teach your child to swing level at the top of a typical umpire's strike zone - then teach them to never, ever, under penalty of death, swing at anything above that. Not in batting practice. Not in softball or wiffle ball games. And I mean anything. If your child goes to a birthday party, they may not swing at the Pinata! Buy them a Pinata to hit at home, and hang it knee high! :-)

More good advice, acquired from various places:

Think with your eyes.

I heard this from Texas Rangers coach Rudy Jaramillo. I like this one. Older children need to understand how to approach an at bat. We forget how little they know. You can think between pitches, when you glance at the base coach for a signal. Form your plan for the next pitch, then take a deep breath to 1) relax yourself, and 2) turn your brain off, then step back in. Now think with your eyes. Just react.

You'd think even the smallest child would understand taking a deep breath to relax - but they do not - unless they are instructed.

I came up with this next myself, for kids who tense up and swing hard(though it also works for kids who swing wimpy):

Swing loosey-goosey, but hit it with authority.

Ernie Banks is giving a perfect demonstration at top. This is my attempt at Harvey Pennick-type perfect verbiage. Tense kids also need to be taught to hold the bat lightly, as if they were holding a bird. I dislike the instruction: "Hit the ball hard", b/c kids do not understand the physics of bat-head speed, which are somewhat related to the physics of cracking a whip. The child reasons that they must tense up, and give hard effort, in order to hit the ball hard.

Speaking of Harvey Pennick: Look for a pitch in your sweet spot.

Alternate instruction: Look for your pitch. This is the equivalent of Pennick's famous "Take dead aim," b/c it takes a player's mind off of thinking and onto his task. It forces a player to visualize a pitch coming into his sweet spot. The visualization is the key. Everyone from Jack Nicklaus, to The Inner Game of Tennis, to Bob Rotella, talks about visualization. It is a very, very big deal in hitting.

Also, kids don't watch much baseball anymore. They need to be encouraged to develop a loose pre-swing waggle. Kids typically haven't thought of such a thing. They will stand in their stances like brittle statues - unless they are instructed.

Stand in the back of the box, to get a longer look at the pitch.

I like this, for young players, for unusual reasons:

1) young players can see the plate better when it is out in front of them. Therefore, they develop a better idea of the strike zone. Think about it. If you are an inexperienced player, and the plate is always beside you, it is out of your vision, and you are just guessing about where it is. Your developing concept of the strike zone is stunted.

2) because young players have been instructed to hit the ball when it is approx. even with their front hip: when they hit from the back of the box, and they can see the ball cross the plate in front of them (even if only in their mind's eye) it especially reinforces the fundamental instruction to hit the ball in front - i.e. beside your front hip.

Walk up to the plate (to stay composed and relaxed).

If you strike out, jog back to the dugout.

The walk back, after a strike out, is a moment ripe for mischievous acting-out. Shorten that moment. Decrease acting out. Have the player jog back.

When you have two strikes, you're not looking to hit a strike - you're looking to hit anything the umpire might call a strike.

If he called it a strike, you should've hit it. Whether it was a strike is irrelevant. If the unfairness of a bad call bothers you, don't let the count go to two strikes.

When I was about 11, my Mom became frustrated with my letting good pitches go by. She began to encourage me to stay ahead in batting counts. For some reason, I had never thought of this before. The concept appealed to me. The rest of my playing seasons, I concentrated on staying ahead in counts (most of the time). This had the effect of sharpening my mental state. I had to be ready to hit from the very first pitch of each at bat. It created extra focus during each at bat, because I had to stay ahead in the count! It was a mental edge. I don't know how it would work for others, but it helped me be mentally sharp. I didn't realize that when I played, but I can look back and see it clearly.


Some slightly more advanced conversation:

I like Al Oliver's advice: if you see the ball, hit it. You see some pitches better than others. Those are the pitches to hit.

All my life, in batting practice, I swung only at strikes. As a result, my swing basically would not extend to reach a ball out of the strike zone. The swing would not cover that large of an area. Therefore, I could begin a swing at a pitch I saw very well, and would naturally stop if the swing wasn't going to be able to reach the ball. If felt very natural to stop in that circumstance. I never had to think about it, or work at it. I never reached my bat out to an area I hadn't already practiced hitting in.

Somewhere along the way, I realized the good pitchers would be throwing low fastballs. Therefore, in practice, I especially worked on becoming excellent at hitting low fastballs - and I did become excellent at that. So, in tough situations, against good pitchers, they were looking to get me with low fastballs, and I was looking for them to throw a low fastball at the top of the knees. The system worked very well. Throughout my life, I had tremendous success hitting in pressure situations, and against the very best pitching. I think this approach - looking for low fastballs - was a big part of the reason.

I've heard hitters say "I was looking for something inside that I could drive." I did that naturally, without coaching myself to do it. Especially if I had no strikes in the count, I was looking for a low fastball in my sweet spot - and my sweet spot was not low and outside. I would naturally let a low outside pitch go by, until later in the count.

Throughout my life, I believed I was an excellent hitter in tough situations. I believed my teams were lucky to have me at bat in those situations. I often believed, of everyone on the team, I had the best chance of succeeding against tough pitching in tough situations. I would often be really wanting to win, and I would think "Thank goodness I'm coming up - my coming to bat really gives us a good chance to win this game," or "My coming to bat is bad luck for those other guys," or "Those other guys have no idea how much trouble they are in with me coming to bat. I'm the last person they want up there - even if they don't know it."

Was that true? It doesn't matter if it was true or not! The important thing is to believe it - to have confidence. My father used to say "If you think you cannot, you cannot." He was right about that.

One of my brothers would get into sharpened frame of mind by personalizing his upcoming confrontation with the pitcher: I'm too good to let this guy [this pitcher] beat me! This guy is not gonna beat me! I'm gonna get this guy. He will not win! He gave me this pep talk before some of my high school at bats, and this pep talk does build confidence. I would instantly realize: Hey, I'm too good to let this guy beat me! This guy is not gonna beat me! I'm gonna get this guy!

I would come into at bats looking to see a low fastball really clearly. If I was seeing good, I might hit the first pitch. Sometimes I was seeing bad, and I would watch hittable fastballs go by - even maybe for strike two - because I just wasn't seeing them as well as I wanted to.

With two strikes, I changed approach. I learned to visualize sort of a rectangular hockey net behind me, in the position of a strike zone. I learned to wait and wait and wait on the ball, before committing to it, and to only hit it if it was about to go into my imagined hockey net. In my mind, I was defending the hockey net - like a goalie. I would imagine each two-strike pitch was going to break, and I would wait for the break before I committed to the pitch. This meant, with two strikes, I was never perceiving a fastball which turned out to be a breaking pitch. If the pitch actually was a fastball, I was still able to flick my wrists and get sweet spot on the ball. Obviously, I was not a power hitter! However, I was often surprised at how far I could hit two strike pitches with what felt - to me - like a minimalist wrist flick, and with minimal associated body movement.

Here are things which especially helped me learn to hit breaking pitches:

1) Competitive wiffle ball, with my brother throwing for blood.

2) Competitive ping pong ball baseball. This was played indoors. We hit by holding a wooden Texas Rangers' mini souvenir bat with one hand. The pitcher threw every type of breaking ball he could invent. If you could hit that wildly breaking ping pong ball with one hand on a souvenir bat, you could hit the toughest breaking ball any baseball pitcher could throw at you.

3) One day I took a jugs machine up the hill, and hit about 100 curve balls. By the end of that day, I had tremendous confidence.

A story about my son:
He could hit curves pretty well - until he faced a left hander's curve in 9th grade. He declared he had never faced a left hander's curve. A hunch: I don't think it occurred to Jake that he could hit the pitch anyway. I think he believed if he hadn't hit it in practice, he couldn't hit it in a game. Jake struck out both times he faced those curve balls. The moral, I guess, is to throw left handed curves to your kid with a wiffle ball, or a Jugs machine, or a left-handed friend - just so they get the thought in their head that they can hit the pitch.

And that's about everything I know about batting - except for a bunch of technical stuff which is partly self-taught, and partly mangled second-hand gossip, and may not even be correct! So it's best to stay away from that!


Update: Big thanks to Southern Brother for writing in with some excellent technical advice for advanced hitters. Since Southern Brother is a college baseball coach, his technical advice is cutting edge! I've always wanted this blog to be cutting edge!

Southern Brother:
1. the baseball swing is NOT level nor should you teach swinging level...what you should teach is to keep your hands ABOVE the ball. You stated to stay off high pitches, correct, the reason is because you can't keep your hands above the ball on high pitches.

Greg's note:
Southern Brother expects an advanced player to quickly process this and then to never give it another thought.

For young players, I don't like "keep your hands above the ball". What young player can understand this? Confusing. Further, I suspect the instruction tends to focus a child's attention on his hand position - and no one wants that. Southern Brother doesn't want that. A child's focus ought be: put sweet spot on the ball. On pitches at the top of the zone, I prefer "swing level". It's simpler, and there's a subtle mental distinction in favor of focusing on putting sweet spot on the ball.

Update: Southern Brother writes in and stands up for "keep your hands above the ball". He argues he has successfully taught it 9 and 10 year olds.

Also, he recounts a funny exchange with his own son over watching the spin of the seams of the ball:
Me: 'you CAN see those seams...I KNOW you can see those seams!'...Son: Uh, well, they are red.' I lost it!
and he adds a fundamental he forgot to mention: in the stance, front elbow s/b centered in middle of chest.

Back to Southern Brother:

2. Take your back hand and punch it up past your body, and to do this you have to take that back hand down to the ball and through it ... in that hammer movement Ted Williams talked about in his book Mom had for years, your back elbow has got to SLOT against your ribs to allow your hands to be thrown forward in the hammer movement. Left handed power hitters are famous for perfect slots of their back elbow, Williams, Musial, Mantle, Ruth, Maris, Reggie Jackson, Bonds, Ryan Howard.

3. Misc Modern terms you will hear given today and what they mean.

'See it BIG'

You have to read the seams: that's how you recognize pitches. You don't just look at the ball. Rather: read what the seams look like. After a pitch, can you describe what the seams looked like? To see the ball big is to recognize the pitch, when you do that the ball will look larger to the hitter.

'Let it travel'. 'Let it get deep'

Hitters get in trouble when they try to hit the ball to far in front of their body, causing them to reach, or be fooled on the pitch. When you see it big, let it travel, and let it get deep (closer to the catcher) you increase the percentage of hitting the ball hard on a line.

'Square it up'

Contact with the baseball should be made right at your front hip. The angle of the bat should be square to the hip, and the bat head square to the ball ... not inside the ball, or around the outside of the ball.

'Stay INSIDE the ball'

When the back hand drives up through the hitting zone and past the body, the hands need to stay inside the ball so you can square it up on contact. If your hands have a rounding swing, the bat head comes over the top and rounds the ball with a groundout. If your hands are on the same line of the baseball then they dip/loop and a pop up fly ball is hit. Staying inside the baseball is the best fundamental to help hitting the ball on the sweet spot.


Nelson Cruz shows how to do it.

Willie Mays said you have to go back in order to go forward. To physically torque the body to produce the most power and bat speed your weight has to be transferred to the backside before the swing begins.

The stance should be slightly wider than your shoulders and balanced. As the pitcher starts his leg kick, the hitter starts his load/weight shift to the instep of the back foot. Keeping the weight through the inside of the back foot allows for the body to stay balanced and proper physics to be applied in the swing.

Golf instructors have studied and copied the baseball weight shift with a modern swing mechanic called the peg and stem where the back leg stays straight and firm to allow the body to turn against it as a pendulum for the highest amount of tourque resulting in higher faster swing speeds and longer drives.

'Stay In'

In the stance, the front shoulder should be lower than the back shoulder. The hitter's shoulders ought be a bit closed. When the hitter loads his weight (closes his shoulders a bit), the hips should follow along with the shoulders, i.e. the hips should turn and rotate inwards at a similar angle to the shoulders.

Beware: telling a batter to keep their head in is a confusing instruction, negative, and frustrating to the hitter.

Instead, if you tell the hitter to stay in with their shoulder and hips, then their head automatically follows.

4. Keep the bat OUT of the back of the hand and thumb. Lay the bat in the fingers and align the knuckles.

5. Pitchers pitch to locations. Hitters need to look for a pitch in a location, then don't miss.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Have the Dems once asked, of the right: "Why are they mad at us?"

Rush Limbaugh:
An interesting e-mail, this is a great point from a subscriber to
"When we have a terrorist attack, the Democrats always ask, 'What did we do to provoke it? Why do they hate us?' Have you heard, any of them, ask the same for something they've imposed on us? Have you heard the Democrats once ask, 'Why are they mad at us? We need to understand their rage!' We have to understand the rage of people who killed 3,000 Americans in terrorist incidents. We're told, 'We have to understand the people in this country, minorities and whoever else, unhappy with whatever. We gotta understand their rage. We have to expect it. We have to allow for it.' Well, how come the anger that we feel, the Democrats aren't interested in understanding? Why do they not ask, 'Why are they so mad?'"
The answer is because they know.

Anecdotes from a Memorial Service

Previous post

I am one of what are, I guess, thousands of people who enjoyed Tom's company. I knew Tom for a bit, years ago.

Tom's friend spoke of Tom's pedal-to-the-metal style of going through life: If he'd been a Toyota, they'd of recalled him. If he'd been at this funeral service, he'd of already walked out, cause he couldn't sit still this long.

Tom counseled a young criminal defense attorney about the three types of criminal clients:

Tom: Here's the deal. First, you got your mean ones. They are going away for a long time, and it's not your fault, and don't ever think it is.

Then you got your idiots. They sit in the courtroom, and see everything that happens there, and it doesn't affect them. They walk out, and they remain idiots.

Young lawyer: How can you talk like that about your clients?

Tom: You didn't let me finish: Be nice to the idiots, because they'll be back! They're a great source of return business. Always be nice to the idiots.

Then you've got your decent people. They are just like you or me: they know right from wrong. They've just had a moment where they made a regrettable decision. These are the people you will lose sleep over. They're going to receive a penalty. Try to help them learn something from their experience, so they will never have to have that experience again.

About a year after Tom joined his church, and after 3 sessions of attending a bible study class, Tom told his pastor he was dropping out of the bible study.

Pastor: Why?
Tom: I feel like a hypocrite. On any particular Friday, you might find me at the country club, drinking Scotch, 3 sheets to the wind.
Pastor: Are you telling me you notice no difference in your life since you joined our church?
Tom: No no! Before I joined this church, you could find me at the country club and 3 sheets to the wind every night!

Tom married up. His wife, Marilyn, is seriously beautiful; also sweet, smart, and tough in that southern woman way in which - if you will only take a moment to pay attention to what is behind the eyes - you recognize the woman is tough as nails.

Tom's friend told of Tom driving him to Tom's house for the first time:

Tom: You've never met my wife, have you?
Friend: No.
Tom: Well, when you meet her, you're going to ask yourself: How did SHE end up with HIM? ... Here's the deal: we don't know, and we don't ask!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Hot: Jenny the Bloggess

Jenny looks like a painting. A lifetime of polishing her toenails finally paid off.


As always, Jenny is accompanied by a language warning.

The language warning thing will be on her tombstone:

Here lies the beloved Jenny the Bloggess
She made us laugh
She was the middle class white girl's Richard Pryor
& thus was accompanied by a @#$%^&* language warning at all times

I'm pretty sure they can get that entire last line on a tombstone. Pretty sure.

Maybe they'll take out an ampersand.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir - 'Lux Aurumque'


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tom Zachry: the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away

A friend of some years ago, Tom Zachry, has died in a boating accident. His bass boat capsized after hitting a stump. Possibly b/c his companion - Gerald Mack - was 75ish years old and was clinging to a boat in cold water: the 65ish year old Tom decided to swim for shore and get help. Tom was a good swimmer. He made it within 200 feet of shore, but the water was cold, and there was wind, and whitecaps, and Tom went down. Gerald Mack was rescued approximately 4 hours later.

Tom was recently elected as a Tarrant County Judge:
At an election forum five days before the primary, Zachry spoke more about his family and his religious faith than his judicial qualifications, Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon said Tuesday.

He said he was a bit surprised when Zachry told members of the Arlington Republican Women's Club that he wasn't going to speak about "why he'd make a wonderful judge."

Instead, Shannon said, Zachry told the audience that despite the loss of his daughter 10 years ago, he was happy with his life, his 46-marriage to his college sweetheart and his relationship with Christ.

"He said he'd be fine whether he won or lost," Shannon said. "That was really uplifting to me."

Zachry's upbeat attitude touched people at his church, where he was involved in Bible study and other ministries, his pastor said.

"He was a man who cared about people and tried to encourage them in their spiritual lives," Horton said. "He was encouraging to me, personally."

Don't let me leave you with the impression that Tom Zachry was a saint. He was, when I knew him: a wonderful mess. A successful mess. He could tell a funny story as well as anyone I've known, and he had a bunch of funny stories about various catastrophes he had encountered. He was a good athlete. But the two things about Tom Zachry, the two key things:

First, he had a tremendous lust for life. Tom squeezed the orange dry. I'm pretty sure I just messed up a famous metaphor, but you get the idea. Tom Zachry left nothing undone. He did it.

Second, Tom had true loving empathy for other people. It was tough guy love. You kinda had to look for it, but once you saw it, it was forevermore completely obvious to you. This was the true secret of why people loved Tom Zachry.

Here's a photo of me, aged 18, in front left; Cousin Frank sitting front right, and Tom standing behind us - likely in between swapping stories with Frank. Tom and Frank are the best two storytellers I've ever known.

In times of loss, I'm often heartened by thoughts of new babies born, of the cycle of life. And so, I was heartened, yesterday, to learn Webutante has a brand new granddaughter. Perfect: the Lord taketh away, and the Lord giveth. She promises photos in future, at her blog.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Patrick Henry, 235 years ago yesterday

Yesterday in American history - March 23, 1775
Patrick Henry - speaking at at the Virginia House of Burgesses at St John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia - successfully convincing Virginians to join the American Revolution:
The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable — and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

From Paul Johnson’s "A History of the American People":
Then Henry got to his knees, in the posture of a manacled slave, intoning in a low but rising voice: ‘Is life so dear, our peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!’ He then bent to the earth with his hands still crossed, for a few seconds, and suddenly sprang to his feet, shouting, ‘Give me liberty!’ and flung wide his arms, paused, lowered his arms, clenched his right hand as if holding a dagger at his breast, and said in sepulchral tones: ‘Or give me death!’ He then beat his breast, with his hand holding the imaginary dagger.

There was silence, broken by a man listening at the open window, who shouted: “Let me be buried on this spot!‘

Val Prieto:
The man standing at that open window, so inspired by Henry that he felt compelled to yell “Let me buried on this spot!” – and who was subsequently buried on that spot – was Edward Carrington. While later on he served in the Continental Army, was a delegate to the Continental Congress and became Virginia’s first U.S Marshall, at the time of Henry’s speech, Carrington was just a regular Joe. A concerned citizen. One distressed with what was happening around him. Concerned about his country and his freedom and the usurpation of same. A regular Joe who understood the absolute importance of regular Joes in the fight against despotism.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Triple Yahtzee tips

Yahtzee strategy is about odds. No strategy will produce good results all the time. Good play occurs when you position yourself to increase your odds of success. Just keep maximizing your odds of success, and you will be playing well irregardless of the dice results.

Know where your bailouts are before you go for something. You are going to need some bailouts in every game. Example: if you're rolling for a third 3, and you don't hit it, will you bail out by listing 6 points on the "Threes" row in the single score column? Try to have a bail out available: maybe place a zero in the "Ones" row; maybe - if you don't get a third 6 - you can bail out in the Chance row; maybe bail out with a zero in the Yahtzee row. If you don't have a bail out available: do you really want to go for that particular score at this time? Can you go for something else?

Also, always be alert, after your second roll, to see if you might have a Sm. Straight (or a budding Sm. Straight) and can bail out that way.

Excepting for a freakishly good unfolding game - which might occur in about one of every five games: I recommend against going for the 35 point bonus in the upper section single score column. It's very difficult to maximize your points w/o using the upper section single score column as a bail out column.

Try to use a four of a kind score in the upper section in the triple score column, and a four of a kind score in the upper section in the double score column. Then you can use the "Ones" row in each column as a potential bail out, and will still maintain your 35 point bonus for achieving an upper column score of 63 or above. Also for this reason: do not aggressively seek to fill the "Ones" row. Try to keep the "Ones" row open for bailouts.

Think of each game as having 14 potential bailouts:
3 bailouts in the Chance column
3 bailouts in the Sm. Straight column (b/c it is the easiest to achieve - even if changing strategy after a second roll)
6 bailouts in the upper single score column
1 bailout in the "Ones" row of the double score column
1 bailout in the "Ones" row of the triple score column

All that equals 14 bailouts - as compared to 25 boxes into which you are endeavoring to place good scores. Late in the game, use an empty box in the "Yahtzee" row as an emergency bailout.

Focus on scoring in all the lower section columns: aggressively seek all of your 4 of a Kinds, Full Houses, Lg. Straights. These are significant points, even in the single Yahtzee column. You also really need those Sm. Straights - yet can finesse them a bit.

If you have two aces and two of any other number: go for Full House. If the dice do not produce a Full House: bail out by placing 2 points in a "Ones" row.

Early on, don't stretch for a Large Straight via trying to fill a Large Straight from the inside. In most games, you will accidentally roll at least one Lg. Straight. Otherwise, go for a Lg. Straight when you show a 2,3,4,5, and thus rolling either a 1 or a 6 will complete your Lg. Straight.

Good goal scores for 4 of a Kind:
Single column: 21 or above
Double column: 24 or above
Triple column: 26 or above
Note: in the later stages of a game, take whatever 4 of a Kind you can get into a column. 4 of a Kind is a difficult box to fill.

Good goal scores for Chance:
Single column: 20 or above
Double column: 22 or above
Triple column: 24 or above

Have fun! This is a game of some skill and much luck: if you get the most Yahtzees, you've a strong chance of winning. Victory is not very meaningful. Having fun with your friends and family is meaningful. Smile at your loved ones! Lavish some attention on them.

Top row L to R: Jake, Courtney the Irresistible, Baron
Bottom row L to R: Youngest Niece, Mom, Dad, Youngest Nephew

Note: it's easy to hand-make Triple Yahtzee scorecards on lined tablets. All you need for this game is 5 dice, tablets, pencils. Note #2: scoring regular Yahtzee might be good practice for children's math skills (Triple Yahtzee might be too involved for children - they like games which resolve more quickly).

Sample abbreviations for hand-made scoring tablet:



Monday, March 22, 2010

Remember the ObAlamo!

This thing is not implemented yet.

I'm now going to do what is commonly called "talkin out his [backside]." Luckily, I have this blog for just such occasions.

The internet changes everything. Thus, we're playing by new rules: truth gets out; opposition gets organized. New rules. Think of the Dems as Dan Rather in 2004. Think of this current bill as a Rathergate forgery rife with illogical aspects. Think of state attorneys general as bloggers with tight OODA Loops.

This thing is not implemented yet.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Glenn Miller Orchestra, Nicholas Brothers, Dorothy Dandridge



Saturday blegh

Rain all day - until late in day, when there's chance of snow. Temps in mid to low 30s. 20 mph winds.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Hot: Rep. Melissa Bean, D-IL

i.e. the hottest Serbian Orthodox U.S. Congressperson who is currently undecided about her vote on Obamacare. Of course, she'll be a lot hotter if she decides to vote no.

Farewell Fess Parker

Update: Fess Parker was born in Fort Worth! Didn't know that.



When I was a child of 5,6,7 years old, I loved the Daniel Boone show - and especially the theme song.

This is a moment

In our national situation, i.e. as the left tries for the massive government grab/takeover of a huge piece of our economy and our nation, and as the right pushes back ... I judge this situation as Gene the head of Mission Control judged the situation in the movie "Apollo 13″: "I believe this is going to be our finest hour."

I am optimistic; almost eager. The left has been shoving the nation backward for over half a century. The nation is now digging our heels into the dirt. Think of the movie “300″, when the initial Persian attack took place at the Hot Gates: the Persian attackers slammed into 300 Spartans, shoving the Spartans into a 300 man backward slide on the dirt… until the Spartans, digging in their heels, finally quelled the slide and brought the Persian momentum to a dead halt … whereupon the Spartans began decimating the Persian attackers.

This is where our nation is now: we are 300 Spartans digging in our heels, and we have just … about … stopped the unstoppable leftist momentum, and we are just about to begin decimating a political left which has been shoving us backwards for 70 years. I am fired up! THIS is a moment to savor! America is 300 Spartans, the worldwide left is the Persian armies, and the rest of the world is Greece. The world will watch us stand against leftism and for freedom, and the world will be inspired to do the same. This is a moment. Just as surely as Reagan saying “evil empire”, and walking out of Reykjavik, and saying “tear down this wall”, and in the end prevailing: this is a moment when we dig in our heels, begin to decimate the enemy, and in the end prevail. Wolverines!

William A. Jacobsen:
Regardless of [healthcare] outcome, these have been some of our finest hours.

From the Tea Parties which sprang to life last April, to the townhalls over the summer, to the voters in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, tens of millions of Americans have done their best to stop this power grab.

Republicans in Congress also deserve credit. Against insurmountable numerical odds, they have stuck together and thereby forced Democrats to confront their own divisions.

Republicans from Eric Cantor to John Boehner to Paul Ryan to Mitch McConnell to John McCain to Scott Brown have given voice to the reality that Obamacare is not about health care, it is about government control over our lives accomplished through budget gimmicks which mask the truth that we cannot afford what Obama is selling.

The nation made an historic error in November 2008. Now we are dealing with the consequences.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Expat Women of Rio

My cousin lives in Rio. His wife is one of the dumpster diving expat women.

Crazed Texas Rangers fan watches Spring Training

Update: can't believe I forgot the Ron Washington stuff!

First reaction: This explains some of the wacky in-game decisions!
Second reaction: The man doesn't, at this point, deserve to lose his job.
Third reaction: this actually pulls the team together into more of a tight knit group. Having some adversity to overcome is good for any team in any sport.

If Ron Washington transgresses in future, then: he is gone, a new manager steps in seamlessly, and the team remains more tightly knit than before. This sounds crazy, but, regardless of whether or not Ron Washington transgresses in future: the entire situation is a positive in the clubhouse and on the field.

Further: is this necessarily a negative for the franchise's relationship with fans? At first, I said "definitely a negative". But, now, I'm not so sure. Might this help fans bond with the franchise? Sounds crazy, but I not sure of anything at this point. We fans are fanatics.


I'm the crazed fan. I'm watching the game, and nature calls, except Julio Borbon is at bat, and he's really an interesting batter to watch ... and he hits a 2 hop grounder straight at SS, except the SS must have thought Andrus was stealing, b/c he's over by 2B and is not at SS. Borbon's grounder doesn't come anywhere near making it to the wall, and he gets ... a double!? That's correct: routine grounder to SS = Double.

Distracted during Michael Young's 2 pitch AB.

Nature still calls, yet Josh Hamilton is coming to bat, and must be watched, b/c he might go Mickey Mantle on you at any time - as in the last AB where he perfectly squared up on a FB and sent it 450 feet into right center field crowd.

Nature still calls, yet Vlad is coming up, and must be watched, b/c he might go Vlad on you at any time.

Nature still calls, yet Nelson Cruz is coming up, and must be watched, b/c he has leveled out his loopy-ish swing, and ... I know this sounds blasphemous ... but his swing now looks more like Manny Ramirez' swing than anyone I've ever seen who wasn't named Manny Ramirez. Cruz hits his second HR of the evening. The thing about Nelson Cruz, and another reason he must be watched: no one - NO ONE - not even Nelson Cruz, knows how good he might eventually become. He put up very good AAA stats in 2007. In 2008, Nelson Cruz put up Babe Ruth quality AAA stats. He exploded. He put up Ted Williams wins the Triple Crown type of stats. And ... now... how good might he become? I don't know how far his improvement will go: it might not go much further. However: 2009 was not the best Nelson Cruz will do in his career. 2009 was the beginning. There is more better to come.

Nature still calls, yet Chris Davis is coming to bat, and must be watched, b/c he is trying to reclaim his career after a disastrous 2009, and he is the hottest hitter in Arizona, and he LACED a line drive to left center in his last AB.

Nature still calls, yet Jarrod Saltalamacchia is coming to bat, and must be watched, b/c his major league hitting has been disappointing in past seasons, and: is he improved? He doubles off the wall, so that's a good sign.

Nature still calls, and is getting more insistent, yet Joaquin Arias is coming to bat, and must be watched, b/c: can he make the team? And he works a 5 pitch walk. He's an impatient hitter, and a BB is the best possible outcome for his AB.

Nature still calls, and Elvis Andrus is coming to bat ... and ... I've seen Elvis hit before. I'm outta here!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Broadview Security commercials

I'm not saying it's ineffective advertising. However:

Do you see that the Broadview employees on the phone are presented - via camera angle, lighting, plot, and acting skill - as princes who are saving damsels in distress? Do you see that the unharmed women could call 911 for themselves just as easily as the prince-like savior/heroes manning the Broadview phones could call the police for them? That being the case: exactly what service are the Fabio-like heroes providing for the damsels?

Why doesn't Broadview show the true instance in which their phone heroes will make a difference, i.e. an instance in which the homeowner is being assaulted and cannot make a phone call for herself? Answer: b/c that scenario would drive home the point that the homeowner will be assaulted for however many minutes it takes until police arrive. Broadview doesn't want that message conveyed. Therefore, we get the silly vignette where a perfectly unharmed homeowner allows Fabio the hero to do a job (call the police) which the unharmed homeowner is perfectly capable of accomplishing herself.

I believe the advertisers, were they speaking frankly, would say Broadview is selling:

1. heroic masculine protection ........... which is not happening. The person manning the Broadview phone, via doing their job with excellence, will be heroic in their own way; yet will not be providing heroic masculine protection a la storybook Fabio. The client is not buying a prince on a white steed with a sword who will ride to their home 10 seconds after a break-in and implement manly protection for them. The client is buying a (hopefully) dedicated yet likely frumpy employee who will call the police. In the break-in, the client will still be shoved to the ground, some of their possessions will still be grabbed and stolen, and the police will still arrive with maybe an 8 minute response time (hopefully, manly neighbors will hear the alarm and arrive sooner). If the burglar is high on drugs, the client might still be shot, knifed, or raped during the 8 minute interval.

2. wish fulfillment fantasy for lonely women who pine for contact (even over the phone) with a rescuing prince. That the prince is not actually saving them (as, in the commercial scenarios, the unharmed women can call 911 for themselves) does not matter so much as potential clients' imagined contact with a Prince (the imagined contact being the stuff of their fantasies).

When you purchase Broadview's service, you cannot, after the fact, go to the Broadview offices and have your hand kissed by a white knight on a steed, and here's why: your white knight might easily be a 45 year old woman who smokes and has a Twinkie problem. She does her job with heroic dedication, and I have tons of respect for that. Yet, she is not the Fabio who is being sold in the commercials.

And, obviously, there is more to the equation: Broadview Security will increase your odds of escaping unscathed. There's the Broadview sign in the yard; the alarm; the ringing phone to confirm for the burglar that there truly is a security service on the job; a Broadview employee to notify police if you cannot. It won't help you escape unscathed, but there will be a Broadview employee on the phone to calm your nerves (assuming you want that instead of friendly neighbors) until the police arrive.

However, to the extent that a potential Broadview client believes she is safer b/c of an imagined Fabio prince rescuer on the Broadview phone: not happening. Whatever bravery the Broadview employee does possess is not going to prevent a drug addled burglar from stabbing a homeowner.

You want safe? Study Caesar Milan Dog Whisperer videos and then acquire a German Shepherd; purchase and train yourself in use of both pepper spray and a handgun - and keep them accessible. Now you are much safer. If you want Broadview Security, get it! But get it after Caesar Milan and the German Shepherd, and after the pepper spray and the hand gun.

Brinks Home Security, now Broadview Security, fails to provide manly protection to a damsel in distress, yet you would never know it by watching the commercial. Notice how the Broadview call center is literally "manned", i.e. is 100% inhabited by virile and active men who display decisive body language for the camera. There is neither a woman nor a frumpy person in sight:

Clumber Spaniel
Walking an old dog

Monday, March 15, 2010

Democrats position Death Star within firing range of Alderaan

Had to have that headline! Stole it from, who are firing out the Rahm Emmanuel rumors.

Free association blogging (is there any other kind?):

Bill Whittle says the character Ari Gold - the Hollywood agent on HBO's Entourage - is based on a real agent: Ari Emmanuel, i.e. Rahm Emmanuel's brother! Too funny. Actor Jeremy Piven speaks about Ari Gold and Ari Emmanuel.

I've watched my first ever episodes of Entourage - about 6 episodes on Spike TV on Sunday nights. I like the show, but have trouble getting into the show b/c I strongly dislike the actor character around whom most of the action swirls. I suspect the actor character displays personality traits which I recognize in myself and which I detest in myself. There is no other explanation for my visceral dislike of this character. My 6 episode opinion: he is yuck.

Love the Ari character; love the Johnny Drama character: Victory!

Ahem: language warning. Take cover.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Watching Cousin Morgan pitch for Robinson Rockets Softball


Don't you love photos like this? These girls have worked hard - in the tournament, in the season, and during long softball careers. They KNOW they have earned this tournament championship. They KNOW they deserve it. They fully expressed themselves on the field, and as a result they are genuinely and unabashedly happy about their achievement. I love love love photos like this.

Update: Robinson also won the Fort Worth Southwest Tournament this weekend.

Cousin Morgan, aka "Mo", is 3rd girl from right, in front row, hands on knees, letter jacketed, medallion dangling, cheeks smeared black, hair bowed in pink. She is only a sophomore, yet she is one of two starting pitchers on the team. The team itself is young: only two senior starters. They are a good team: a possible state championship contender.

Cousin Morgan is 5'7"ish; is an outstanding dancer - having taken classes all her life; and is a varsity basketball player. In softball, Morgan uses her long legs and her coordination to whip her hips and launch the ball towards the plate at 57 mph. Morgan throws fastball, drop ball, curve, change-up. Colleges have made inquiries. It would be good if she could increase her fastball velocity to 60 or 61 mph. That seems as if it could happen as her body fills out.

"Mo" is a fan friendly name. The fans yell "C'mon Mo!", and "C'mon Momo!"

Mo has the competitive killer instinct: she's coming right atcha, so you better be ready. I enjoy a quirky thing she does: after receiving the ball from the catcher, she turns 180 degrees and walks through the middle of the pitching circle and straight to the back side (the extreme second base side) of the pitching circle arc. On the way, many times, she launches a vicious baseball style submarine pitch from her right hand and across 6 inches of air and into her glove. Her glove is held with fingers pointing semi horizontal and semi downwards. She really slams the ball into her glove - really puts her shoulders into the throw. Really POPS the ball into her glove. It's AGGRESSIVE. As a long time observer of athletes: I LIKE it.

When Morgan doesn't pitch, she plays 1B. When she does pitch, her mom - Cousin KB - consistently yells at her from the stands: "C'mon honey: throw hard!" I said to KB: "Do you expect that she will go out there one inning and inexplicably forget to throw hard?" KB explained that, as Morgan tires in the late innings, she wants Morgan to put more focus into maintaining her FB velocity.

After every out, all infielders jog to the mound and high five Morgan. 7 innings x 3 outs per inning x 4 high fives per out = 84 high fives per game. I say the high fives are what are tiring Morgan out and causing decrease in velocity! She needs off season physical training geared towards withstanding all those high fives. Or, she needs to high five one infielder per out = 21 high fives per game.

I have a theory about the 84 high fives per game. There is action in softball, yet it is less action than, for instance, in baseball. Morgan strikes out too many batters. The infielders don't have enough to do, so they create a new thing to do: jog to the mound and high five the pitcher after every out. The infielders are just trying to stay busy and to contribute as best they can. Thats my theory.

I've seen Morgan pitch in Waco, and yesterday I saw her pitch in Fort Worth. The tournament bracket said "Waco Robinson". That must be wearisome for the Robinson girls. They are not Waco Robinson. They are not even Robinson Robinson. They are "Robinson". Period. There is exactly one high school in Robinson, TX.

Robinson traveled 90 miles with a good complement of fans. I enjoyed watching 8th grade cousin Madison visiting around the Robinson stands with various of her friends. And I enjoyed watching 3rd grade cousin Shelby playing beside the field with other Robinson children who are her friends - it's a nice, small town dynamic. The children are known to all, and the children feel secure in this environment: are surrounded and cocooned by friendly adults who have eyes on them, and who the children trust will protect them from potential harm. It never occurs to the Robinson children to fear anything. Of course, it never occurs to Shelby to fear anything because her mom Kerry watches her like a hawk. But that's another story, for another day, for when Kerry needs teasing.

Am reminded of watching, in Nov of last year, a Class 3A football playoff game between Graham and Bridgeport. Bridgeport brought maybe 2500 fans to the 8,000 seat Aledo Bearcat Stadium; Graham brought maybe 3000 fans. At halftime, 4 Bridgeport children went onto the field, as they were obviously accustomed to doing in their hometown, and began a game of touch. The game swelled in size as, gradually, other 10ish year old kids sprinted onto the field and into the game. All the kids obviously knew each other. A 10 year old sprinted onto the field and joined an offense. When the offense broke the huddle for the very next play, the new kid was instantly the QB: everyone knew everyone, and everyone knew he was the best QB in that huddle. And it happened twice! 60 seconds later, another kid sprinted into that same offense's huddle, only to instantly emerge as the new QB. As a sports fan, as a former touch football player, I was flabbergasted at the dynamic. But it was small town kids who knew each other, and everyone knew who should and should not be quarterbacking at any particular moment. The game, now about 8 Bridgeport kids against 8 Bridgeport kids, played out in front of maybe 5000+ fans in an 8,000 seat palace of a stadium. Good times.

So, yesterday, I watched parts of two softball games. For the entire tournament day, the Rockets won three games. Go Rockets.

Speaking of Shelby - and of 6 other tiny cousins + a pair of cats + the venerable and now dearly departed Max the dog - from 4 years ago, from the Nancy Cotharn Update: Workin It

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The good days are over?

Story at Red State. Photo h/t

Note: Webutante is the official angler of this blog, except I don't have an angling photo of the official angler. My only Webutante photo is this one, from 1968's Summer of Love ===>

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ranking Texas Rangers injury risks

Baseball seasons are demanding. Virtually every baseball player gets hurt. Or, possibly, every big league baseball player becomes debilitated at various points along the way - Cal Ripken being the exception which proves the rule.

The 2010 Texas Rangers are counting on a sizable group of players who have histories of being injured. The Rangers work closely with sharp medical staff, and hope to gain competitive advantage via shrewder than normal assessment of injury risks.

Ranking Texas Rangers Injury Risks

Level One: Extreme Fragility

Frankie Francisco, Brandon McCarthy

Level Two: Fragile

Rich Harden, C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison, Vlad Guerrerro, Josh Hamilton, Taylor Teagarden, [Joaquin Arias]

Level Three: Somewhat Fragile

Colby Lewis, Chris Ray, [Eric Hurley], Ian Kinsler

Level Four: Ever So Slightly Fragile (i.e. have sustained past injuries), But Not Worrisome

David Murphy, Chris Davis, Michael Young, Julio Borbon

Level Five: Dear Texas Rangers, Do Not Use Pennant Fever As Excuse To Overload and Risk These Healthy Young Arms

Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz

Level Six: Clean Careers, So Far

Dustin Nippert, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia*

Level Seven: Iron Men (Knock on Wood)

Scott Feldman, Darren O'Day, Darren Oliver

* re Saltalamacchia: am ignoring what I consider a freak rib problem which has zero chance of recurrence. Tall catchers do tend to have knee and back problems late in their careers. Saltalamacchia, however, is too young for that.

Monday, March 08, 2010

What's interesting about Massa

If Massa is gone, it means Pelosi needs to find 2 fewer votes in order to pass the legislation. Massa gone is a big deal for Pelosi.

Since we can't yet know (if ever) the truth or falsity of the harassment allegation against Massa, therefore the interesting thing at this moment is that Pelosi and Emmanuel - via the hardball/bribery/threat tactics they've used on their own members - have made themselves vulnerable to an allegation such as Massa is now making. We know Massa's allegation could be true because we've seen the way Pelosi and Emmanuel operate. Pelosi and Emmanuel have made themselves vulnerable, and we are not quick to dismiss or immediately discount Massa's allegation. It would be ironic if Massa is guilty of blatant sexual harassment and yet still inflicts damage on a vulnerable Pelosi and Emmanuel. And, if Massa is guilty and yet is playing hardball: what is different about Massa's political hardball vs. Pelosi/Emmanuel's political hardball? If we do not condemn Pelosi/Emmanuel for their tactics, is it fair to condemn Massa for his tactics?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Fisking WaPo Dana Milbank review of Karl Rove's "Courage and Consequence"

A couple times a year, it's good to flex the fisking muscle.

The WaPo article. Author Dana Milbank is a sputtering Elmer Fudd. This fisking exposes his bias, his venom, his lack of reason, his lack of evidence to justify his assertions.

#1 Milbank fails to rebut re "trashed" the White House

"[Rove] describes at length how Clinton staffers 'trashed' the White House"

Milbank protests "trashed". If Rove said "trashed" w/o then describing the damage, then Milbank would have an argument (a losing argument, imo, as the degree of trashing has no bearing upon the accuracy of "trashed" as a descriptor). However, Milbank doesn't understand that Rove's description of the damage allows readers to make up their own minds; that Rove's description of the damage means Rove is not misleading any readers.

Milbank, trying to make a case against "trashed", props up a straw man: "though investigators were 'unable to conclude whether the 2001 transition was worse than previous ones'". Milbank's straw man does not rebut Rove's point that Clinton staffers trashed the White House; does not rebut or contradict Rove's descriptions of the damage.

#2 Milbank extends his own mischaracterization of Dick Cheney

"[Rove] says it was a 'dangerous falsehood' that administration officials 'claimed Iraq had been behind 9/11,' so he must have forgotten Dick Cheney calling Iraq 'the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.'"

Milbank is repeating his own Dowd-like misrepresentation of Cheney's Meet the Press remarks in Sept 2003. In actuality, the "geographic base" of which Cheney was speaking was the entire Middle East. Milbank omitted the first part of Cheney's statement, in which Cheney was explaining the overall strategic goal of the WOT. The overall strategic vision is for a good representative government in Iraq to secure the larger region of the Middle East in such a way that actors in the Middle East do not become future threats to the U.S., do not seek WMD, do not provide safe haven for terrorists. This is a strategic vision which extends 10 years into the future, and 50 years into the future, and more. It is a strategic vision which most of the anti war left has refused to acknowledge. Cheney was speaking of overall strategic vision; was speaking of the Middle East as "the heart of the base, if you will" of violent fundamentalist Islam. Here's Cheney's unDowdified quote on Meet the Press:
"If we're successful in Iraq, if we can stand up a good representative government in Iraq that secures the region so that it never again becomes a threat to its neighbors or to the United States, so it's not pursuing weapons of mass destruction, so that it's not a safe haven for terrorists, then we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."

Another point: Milbank misuses context. Milbank's Dowdified Cheney quote implies Cheney made the assertion as part of a marketing campaign to drum up support for the invasion of Iraq. However, the invasion of Iraq occurred in March, 2003; Cheney's Meet the Press quote was in Sept of 2003. It makes no sense that Cheney, 6 months after the invasion, would suddenly and for the first time assert that Iraq was the geographic base of Al Qaeda. Further, I'm confident Cheney quotes exist which identify Afghanistan as the geographic home of Al Qaeda during that time period.

John at Powerlineblog, on Sept 29, 2003 in The Post Misquotes Cheney Again:
The Post's twisting of Cheney's statement to make it sound as if he said that Iraq was the geographic base of the 9/11 hijackers--which neither Cheney nor any other administration official has ever claimed--can only be a deliberate misrepresentation.

#3 Score! Milbank scores(!) by pointing out that Rove mischaracterized a 2000 Bush apology to McCain

This is assuming Milbank accurately characterizes Rove's book, which - given my low opinion of Milbank's reliability - I do not fully believe unless I read Rove's words for myself. But, for purposes of our discussion, I will address this as if Milbank is correctly characterizing Rove's words.

Here's what Rove allegedly referenced, via Politico quoting the 2007 book "Dead Certain":
Page 81: Meeting McCain privately in May of 2000 before picking up his former rival’s endorsement, Bush finally apologized for not denouncing the statement by Thomas Burch in the South Carolina primary. Burch was the veteran who, with Bush present, accused McCain of forgetting about Vietnam veterans.

A Bush apology, after the South Carolina primary was over, was politically meaningless. If Rove implied differently, then Rove was disingenuous.

#4 Milbank, in full Elmer Fudd mode, sputters about the alleged "RATS" ad in the 2000 Bush Gore campaign

Yes, and a Hillary ad put a child in pajamas which had "NIG" on them. RATS and NIG were never stories; were, instead, examples of media (with Milbank front and center) choosing sides and promoting one candidate over another. Milbank quotes Rove: "Our defense was the truth -- we thought it was an accident", and offers no factual rebuttal to Rove's simple assertion. There never was a story: there was only media speculation and sensationalism.

#5 Milbank sneers about Rove's characterization of Cheney's selection as VP

Milbank offers no factual rebuttal to counter Rove's assertion it is "far-fetched" that Cheney engineered his own selection. Neither Rove nor Milbank are covered in glory.

First, if Rove had no new information on Cheney's selection as VP, then Rove's inclusion of "far-fetched" speculation in the book seems illogical. However, maybe we can give Rove a tiny break, as he is an amateur author/ghosted author.

Second, Milbank supposedly IS a professional writer. If a professional writer has no new information, why include the Cheney-as-VP tidbit in a WaPo article which is already compressed by a word limit? Was Milbank merely searching for another opportunity to sneer? Apparently. Is this the best Milbank can do in however many words he has available in his hit job, and whilst having Rove's entire book as material? Apparently. Weak tea.

#6 Milbank sneers: "Rove didn't find it far-fetched to blame a Gore aide for leaking word of Bush's DUI"

"Blame" is a mischaracterization by Milbank; is either incompetent and/or deceptive. Rove is speculating, clearly says he is speculating, and gives his reasons for suspecting Chris Lehane. Politico has quotes from Rove's book.

#7 Milbank disagrees with Rove's characterization that Bush' education policy was a great policy success.

I'm not on top of this issue, probably agree with Milbank, but also am not interested in delving into the facts of this. Milbank attempts to rebut Rove via noting that the education policy is now being rewritten. Straw man. Rewriting the policy does not equate to the 2001 education policy being a failure. Milbank is maddeningly incompetent: even when he might be correct, he fails to make his case, and he either cluelessly or disingenuously erects straw men which unnecessarily damage his own credibility.

#8 Milbank sneers about Rove's characterization of the "My Pet Goat" moment as Bush "trying to project calm"

What am I missing? Bush was obviously shocked; was obviously trying to project calm. Where was Rove wrong? What other explanation exists? Milbank does not quote Rove saying Bush made the best choice. He only quotes Rove explaining Bush' motivation. What am I missing? Other than spewing maximum venom, what is Milbank trying to accomplish here?

#9 Milbank sneers about Rove's comments re Plame investigation

Milbank has no facts. Rove, though heavily investigated, was neither brought to trial nor convicted. Milbank can only sneer. It's all he's got.

I score this fight: Rove 7, Milbank 2. Even when I score a Milbank victory, as in #7, Milbank nevertheless displays amazing ability to discredit himself. Scoring the entire book would yield a result which would be something like this: Rove 98, Milbank 2.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Mocking midsummer trades for 40-Man Roster crunched Texas Rangers

But, first:
Spring Training Games Begin!

Photos Colorized by uniform fan Larry Bodnovich, courtesy of Uni-Watch.

Rube Marquard and Chief Meyers in Brooklyn plaid.

John McGraw and Chicago's Frank Chance.

Notice the semi seersucker look of McGraw's uniform. The NYG also wore some plaid.

Lot's of teams wore very dark road uniforms, as Chance in this photo.

Method #1 for alleviating Rangers' 40-Man Roster crunch:

trade pitching prospects who do not throw 95 mph. Examples: Moscoso, Kiker, Kirkland, Boscan, for either

A) major league role players, or
B) low level minor league prospects who will not soon be added to any 40 man rosters.

Method #2 for alleviating 40-Man Roster crunch:

trade highest value prospects for highest value major leaguers.

Roy Oswalt, anyone? Roy is my wild speculation. Here's why:

A. Astros need to restock farm system; Rangers can do that for them.
B. Rangers President Nolan Ryan and Pitching Coach Mike Maddux are both familiar with Oswalt from then AA Round Rock: Maddux coached Oswalt during Oswalt's breakthrough season in the minors.
C. Ryan has friendly contacts inside the Astros organization.

Oswalt to Rangers makes sense all around. The only things stopping it are: the emotional bond which Astros fans have with Oswalt; Oswalt will turn 34 this season, adding to the risk for the Rangers. However, I say Astros fans would appreciate seeing Oswalt go to an emerging winning team -- as opposed to seeing Oswalt suffer through a string of 86-loss seasons in Houston.

I am always saying: keep the high value prospects ~ think big ~ be patient ~ let the high value prospects have every chance to develop into something special. However, if the Rangers offense displays improved patience at the plate during April, May, June (which would indicate the offense has potential to be an offense which can produce runs during the playoffs), then the Rangers actually do have the ammunition to go get both a Zack Greinke (the best pitcher in baseball?), and a Roy Oswalt, and still maintain a strong minor league system.

photo by AP

Further, the Rangers could combo grab super speedy defender CF Michael Bourn of the Astros: a 4th year RH hitter who had a .354 OBP and 61 steals in 606 ABs from the lead off spot in 2009. And Bourn has leadership qualities.

Bourn is valued by the Astros. However, the Rangers can offer a lot.

Here's how all that could look:

Greinke for Holland, Smoak, Font, Boscan

Oswalt and Bourn for Hunter, Harrison, Ogando, Kiker, Main, Houston native David Murphy, and Engle Beltre.

With what does that leave the Rangers? A LOT:

Rangers Starters:
Greinke, Oswalt, Harden, Feldman, Colby Lewis

Rangers Bullpen:
Francisco, Wilson, Feliz, Ray, Oliver, O'Day, Nippert

Rangers Minor League Pitching:
McCarthy, Moscoso, Mathis, Strop, Beltre, Hurley, Gutierrez, Beavan, MarPez, Scheppers, Kirkland, Phillips, Wieland, and more.

It pains me to think of high value prospects such as Holland, Ogando, Main, Font, Smoak, and Engle Beltre going out the door. Those are as high quality prospects as exist in all of baseball. However, somebody truly does have to go out the door.

Even in this scenario, the Rangers would maintain high value prospects in the system: MarPez, Scheppers, and more. The Rangers would have acquired the best pitcher in baseball + a grizzled Oswalt to provide leadership in do or die playoff situations + a speedy defender in CF who can lead off as a RH hitter against LH pitchers and who can be a weapon on the basepaths. Rangers CF, with both Borbon and Bourn on the case, would go from a question mark to one of the strengths of the team. The Rangers starting rotation would go from a question mark to one of the strengths of the team. The Rangers bullpen is already a strength. Rangers defense is already a strength. The offense needs to SHOW ME maturity and consistency. However, IF the offense shows itself capable, then Greinke, Oswalt, and Bourn make the Rangers true World Championship contenders.

However, to reiterate, Method #1 remains viable: trade from the second highest tier of prospects; let Holland be the Rangers' Greinke; let Hunter be the Rangers' Oswalt; let Craig Gentry or Endy Chavez* be the Rangers' Michael Bourn. Let Harrison help in the 2010 pennant race. Let Ogando, Main, and Font continue to develop as potential star players. Enjoy the rise of Smoak and Engle Beltre. Absolutely viable.

I'm thinking the Rangers options are win/win ... with this caveat: no more trades for Brandon McCarthy types or Adam Eaton types. Those were panicky stupid trades. No more panicky stupid.

* Endy Chavez was an outstanding CF insurance acquisition by the Rangers. Kudos, Jon Daniels. By midsummer, the Rangers could easily hit Elvis Andrus lead off, hit CF Endy Chavez 9th, and roll on to the playoffs.

Photo by Sports Illustrated:
Endy Chavez reaches over the wall and brings Scott Rolen's bid for a 2 run home run back into play. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman
called it one of the greatest post-season catches ever.