'What is the plan to compete going forward?'
Reader No. 1 praises the coverage of the Sox blow up and tries valiantly to add something new to the debate, and I think he succeeds:
- Coming after the Bob McClure firing, how much runway does Bobby Valentine have? Suspect it hangs on...
- what move comes next? Are Ellsbury, Pedroia, Lester part of the core (I certainly hope so) or more pieces to spin out for prospects? We should keep in mind that the team almost certainly wouldve kept Gonzo if not for the opportunity to ditch huge Beckett-Crawford $.
- Whether you stick with this core or not, what is the plan to compete in 2013 and beyond? The Yankees and Rays are still there... Not to mention the rest of the division and all those Wild Card candidates?
- Because we care about history here, isn't it time for a comprehensive re-evaluation of the Theo years? He got off to a brilliant start with those Moneyball-style pickups of Papi, Mueller, Millar (plus Todd Walker-Mark Bellhorn) plus the brilliant Schilling and Nomar trades... And some damn good drafting (Pedroia, Ellsbury).
And then, his signature became free agent deals that didn't deliver desired value (JD Drew! Dice-K! The second Mike Lowell deal, alas, though there were leadership offsets)... And in the last years created the financial burdens that led to this weekends trade. (Remembering the money that the Sox had to eat on Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, Matt Clement, Bobby Jenks, it's all the more incredible that Ben Cherrington got the Dodgers to absorb the value of the contracts.)
There would have been no World Series without those aforementioned Theo moves in 2003-2004. There were few similar moves after then, with the arguable exception of 2010 - one great year of Adrian Beltre and some free talent scooping that kept us competitive in a year of horrific injuries (Nava, Darnell McDonald). And it wasn't sustainable.
It could've been worse - he could've resigned Pedro in 2005, Jason Bay in 2010. This is a difficult business. Maybe that's the last word for all of us to remember. Which brings me back to: what is the plan to compete going forward? The Red Sox haven't been "rebuilding" for almost 20 years. The Oakland A's haven't suffered at Moneyball since Michael Lewis labelled it such. This is a difficult business. Play ball!
Finally, the Red Sox are no longer dull
They have to blow up the team
to get interesting again. But they're at least doing something. They've been a frustrating and boring franchise for a while now, not just since last fall's epic collapse.* ...
I wonder if Adrian Gonzalez's role in organizing the July players-owners pow-wow had anything to do with him being shipped out. Crawford, Beckett and Punto ("no, not Nick Punto!"
), I could care less about. But Sox fans may end up regretting Gonzalez's departure -- and probably will regret it. Maybe he was the key trade bait to make the deal work, assuming the deal goes through. After all, who really wants Crawford, Beckett and Punto ("no, not Punto!")? But I also get the impression the Sox brass have a distinctly non-Money-Ball reason (i.e. chemistry, inability to withstand the pressure of playing in Boston, etc. ) for throwing Adrian into any deal.
* The Sox have clearly been interesting from a soap-opera standpoint. No doubt about that. I'm talking about interesting from an on-field fun, clutch and competitive standpoint.
-- It's a done deal.
... The more I look at it, the more it looks like a pure dump and trade to free up the payroll. Not that I want to the Sox to go out and spend. That's been part of their problem. The big-payrolls approach hasn't worked over the past five years. They need to reassess how
they spend their money. It's going to have to be part Money Ball, part gut instinct on clubhouse chemistry. A little old school, a little new school. The pendulum has swung too far in the Money Ball direction in recent years. This team can't afford another high-paid disappointment like J.D. Drew, Edgar Renteria, Carl Crawford etc. ... Maybe apply a self-imposed ban on signing NL stars over the next few years? The transition to the AL East and the Sox seems too jarring for some of them. Just thinking outside the non-Money Ball box.
'We're smarter than the average frog'
In so many respects, Robert Kaiser, as the then new managing editor of the Washington Post, made some remarkably prescient observations
in 1992 about where he thought the digital-media revolution was headed in future decades. He wasn't just talking about the Web and the growing power of computers, but he was also suggesting the rise of mobile tablets and voice-commands, etc. "None of this is
science fiction -- it's just around the corner," he wrote two decades ago.
But, well, newspapers were newspapers, and, despite Kaiser's assertion that newspaper executives were smarter than your average frog in the proverbial pot of slowly boiling water, the industry was indeed slowly boiled by the electronic revolution to come.
‘The high-water mark of Keynesian economics,’ Part II
No. 1 sends in this excellent 2007 piece by Bruce Bartlett decrying the
oversimplification of Supply-Side economics and the cut-taxes-at-any-costs
mentality of some Republicans. As I wrote back to Reader No. 1, “I really liked Bartlett's
column. It gets into my whole theory, if you will, of ‘abuses’ of economic
philosophies, both Keynesian and Supply-Side.”
– Reader No. 1 also sent along another piece that I didn’t have time to read.
But it dealt with the issue of whether government spending can stimulate economic
growth. My own view is that such Keynesian priming of the pump acts more as an
economic stabilizer than as an economic stimulant. It’s necessary when the
economy has ground to a near halt, as it did in the early ‘30s and again after
the 2008 Wall Street debacle. Those were scary times. The economy in each
instance desperately needed to be stabilized – and from that standpoint the economic policies worked. But did the massive injections really stimulate medium- and long-term growth? Not really. Look around. Do you see a booming economy today?
‘The high-water mark of Keynesian economics’
Telegraph’s Liam Halligan has a smart column that traces the high-water mark of
Keynesian economics to a speech by then Prime Minister Jim Callaghan at a Labour
Party conference in 1976. Personally, I associate the peak of Keynesianism with
Richard Nixon’s famous quip about economics after he yanked the US off the gold
standard in 1971, but I catch Halligan’s drift.
doesn’t mean Keynesian economics were proven completely wrong in the 1970s.
Rather, it meant the long-time abuse of Keynesian policies by the left – by
doing what they always wanted to do in the first place, i.e. spend, spend,
spend, no matter what the economic justification – had finally reached it
natural conclusion: national bankruptcy. Non-stop Keynesian spending can and
will wreck an economy.
that doesn’t mean that occasional and temporary use of Keynesian policies can’t
or won’t work, particularly during economic emergencies. The government sometimes
has to step in -- as the federal
government did in the 1930s and after 2008 – to stabilize an economy, with
either massive spending or tax cuts or a combination of the two.* But the key
is not to make those deficit-causing steps permanent, ongoing features of
government policy. That’s the “abuse” phase of Keynesian economics.
Halligan rightly notes that the real problem facing the U.K. today is the
woeful condition of its banking system, not whether the government is spending or not cutting enough. The US economy faces the same challenge.
No matter what the ideologues may say, Keynesian and Supply-Side economics are
just kissing cousins in my book. They both rely on government fiscal policy and
strategic use of deficits to stabilize or jump-start economic activity, and they’re
both constantly abused by politicians on the left and right.
Now for more important things: A Pats training camp update
From Reader No. 1: "One more
thing on which to disagree with Charlie Pierce
(I like Lima beans!) but a good
rendering of what training camp is like and most of all how the Patriots need
2012 to be different than 2011."
Taking out the blunderbuss and firing away
Former Reagan budget chief David Stockman unloads
on the Ryan budget proposal, Mitt Romney, the Fed, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, neoconservatives, the Military Industrial Complex, Wall Street titans, crony capitalism, and ... well, read it yourself.
-- From Eric: "Was
Stockman hoping that Romney would pick the author of the Portman Plan instead?
Where is this other candidate proposing these solutions -- to the right of
Ryan? Stockman has an instinctive fear of any Reaganite growth-first answer.
Like Obama he offers to give back everything we gained during the
Reagan/Clinton boom years. No thanks!"
Mitt needed to take a big risk--or else
Polling guru Nate Silver explains
why Mitt Romney went with
Paul Ryan: He desperately needed to shake up the race. Understandably, Silver
isn’t saying whether Ryan will turn out to be a good VP bet or a bad VP bet.
Time will tell. But he makes clear Romney, admirably, probably looked at
internal polls and knew he had to change course decisively and fast. …
Hub Blog still expects the tone and tenor of the race to
change after Labor Day. I’m not saying Mitt’s going to win. In my gut, though,
I know the gap between Obama and Romney ain’t no 9 percent. Recently, Romney has seemed to be doing his best to emulate John
Kerry and Mike Dukakis, i.e. blowing golden political opportunities like only a Massachusetts
pol could do at the national level. But the race will tighten. And it will be a
close race in the end. …
Paul Krugman’s typically brutal takedown
of Ryan and anyone
who dares to defend any aspect of his agenda: “What Ryan is good at is exploiting the willful
gullibility of the Beltway media, using a soft-focus style to play into their
desire to have a conservative wonk they can say nice things about. And
apparently the trick still works.”
I haven’t crunched the numbers on ObamaCare either, let alone on RyanCare, as
Krugman demands of those who might compliment the broad aspects of Ryan’s
Medicare voucher plan. But I think it’s safe to say, as pointed out in my
post below, there are some ironic and almost eerie similarities
between ObamaCare and RyanCare that both liberals and conservatives don’t want to
admit. Ryan’s RyanCare is not that radical in concept, and Medicare definitely needs to undergo reforms. So, yes, at least he's putting a proposal on the table. Say what you will about Ryan’s other
policy agenda items. Personally, I know he’s an Ayn Rand groupie at heart, and
that’s enough for me not to support the guy. He’s an ideologue who until recently was sophomorically running around Capitol Hill handing out gift copies of the Fountain Head and Atlas Shrugged. But that doesn’t
mean every single one of his ideas is discredited.
– Two local Dems -- Michael Capuano
and Richard Neal – have kind words to say about Ryan, even as
they sharpen their political knives. … Scott Brown says he likes Ryan – then distances himself from Ryan.
Heck, even Mitt is distancing himself from Ryan’s overall budget plan. No surprise there. It's classic have-it-both-ways Mitt.
And now fellow Dems are dumping on Elizabeth Warren
The New Republic takes a tough look
at the 'uninspiring' candidacy of Elizabeth Warren, and much of the criticism is coming from fellow Democrats. It's a great piece. ... Via Reader No. 1.
RyanCare = ObamaCare = RomneyCare
Remember how some conservatives were outraged about how ObamaCare forced Americans to buy an expensive product from private firms, i.e. health insurance, and how it violated the commerce clause of the constitution? Well, guess what. Paul Ryan's plan does the exact same thing
: forcing people to buy health insurance from private insurers via vouchers.
Not that I'm against Ryan's plan. I actually like it in concept, even if many details need to be ironed out. Ryan deserves credit for at least tackling the fiscal problems associated with the very costly entitlement program. His plan isn't that radical when you compare it to the core component of ObamaCare, which of course was based on RomneyCare in Massachusetts. Just pointing out the broad similarities. I'll leave it to liberals, who are now attacking Ryan's Medicare reform plan, and conservatives, who are now defending a variation of forced insurance coverage, to tap dance around their own tribal contradictions.
The short-term bounce of Paul Ryan
I think Mitt’s selection of Paul Ryan will help him. Ryan’s a smart, energetic,
and youthful incarnation of Jack Kemp. He’s going to mop up Joe Biden in any
debate, and Mitt is finally nailing down his conservative base of support. But
the latter is part of the problem: Mitt’s still trying to nail down his
conservative base by selecting Ryan, even though he’s had the GOP nomination nailed down for a few months now. So that’s why, after the initial rush of yesterday’s mostly
glowing reviews about Mitt’s “bold” choice, I’m now sort of with Howie. What does Ryan offer to voters hovering near
or around the political center? Not much at all. They’re the key swing voters,
not the couple thousand members of the Ayn Rand Society and the handful of
editorial writers at the WSJ. Ryan’s views on Medicare might even hurt the
ticket in the long term, though it probably won't take too big of a hit. VP selections usually don’t
add up to much in the big scheme of things. Dan Quayle, Jack Kemp, Geraldine
Ferraro, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore, Llyod Bentsen. Some hurt. Some
helped. Some made no difference. It still mostly comes down to how voters view the main
candidate at the top of the ticket. … Fyi:
You’ve probably already heard the comparisons: Romney-Ryan = Dole-Kemp. ... Fyi 2: Sarah Palin is clearly and
distinctly in her own VP-choice category.
of Ayn Rand: Ryan is/was a Rand groupie. He’s recently said he’s since rejected
her philosophy, mostly, it appears, on the grounds that she was an atheist. Guess
he hadn’t noticed her strident atheism before handing out gift copies of her
novels to Capitol Hill staffers and others. He’s also still using much of her political language to describe his world view. But whatever.
Government imitating the worst practices of the private sector
seems the Mass. Pension Board is determined to ape the worst practices of Wall
Street, giving its executives bonuses when they make money or when they lose money.
Doesn’t matter. They always win. … You see, capital is critical to capitalism,
so that makes us critical to capitalism, and therefore don’t criticize us for
making so much capital, for we’re critical to capitalism just like the capitalists managing capital on Wall Street. Don’t you get it? …
Gee, can I get immunity to rob Fort Knox?
Whitey Bulger is still pursuing the I-had-immunity-to-be-a-serial-killer
line of defense. ... If he succeeds, I guess everyone else should be entitled to bribe, blackmail and corrupt their own favorite law-enforcement hack, then pursue their wildest dreams, knowing it's perfectly safe to do so as long as you have that immunity blessing from a rogue cop, judge, fed agent etc. But none of that serial killing stuff for me. No siree. Ten million dollars worth of gold bars would do, half going to cover my bribe expenses and the other half for me. No one gets hurt. Is the federal government really going to miss a mere $10 million from its treasury coffers? Of course not.
‘The Battle Between Ayn Rand And Collectivism Reaches A Climax’
They really think like this. … It’s
almost as if the writer, unconsciously, internalized and emulated Whittaker
Chambers’ famous description of how Ayn Rand groupies see the world as a stark battleground
between the forces of good and evil, without realizing Chambers was mocking
them. From Chambers, in his famous take down of Atlas Shrugged in the National
Review, when William F. Buckley Jr. was still alive and keeping the wingnuts at bay:
One Big Brother
is, of course, a socializing elite (as we know, several cut-rate brands are on
the shelves). Miss Rand, as the enemy of any socializing force, calls in a Big
Brother of her own contriving to do battle with the other. … The author hasn’t,
apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of
the Right and a materialism of the Left first surprisingly resemble, then, in
action, tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in
avowed purpose, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the
I also loved
these grafs from Chambers:
The Children of
Darkness are caricatures, too; and they are really oozy. But at least they are
caricatures of something identifiable. Their archetypes are Left-Liberals, New
Dealers, Welfare Statists, One Worlders, or, at any rate, such ogreish
semblances of these as may stalk the nightmares of those who think little about
people as people, but tend to think a great deal in labels and effigies. (And
neither Right nor Left, be it noted in passing, has a monopoly of such
dreamers, though the horrors in their nightmares wear radically different masks
Shrugged, all this debased inhuman riffraff is lumped as "looters."
... "Looters" loot because they believe in Robin Hood, and have got a
lot of other people believing in him, too. Robin Hood is the author's image of
absolute evil — robbing the strong (and hence good) to give to the weak (and
hence no good). All "looters" are base, envious, twisted, malignant
minds, motivated wholly by greed for power, combined with the lust of the weak
to tear down the strong, out of a deepseated hatred of life and secret longing
for destruction and death.
By the way, the author in the first Forbes link (yes, Forbes) refers to the Children of Darkness as "parasites." Parasites
. Nice language, huh?
Overcoming the media's Olympics coverage
Blog and a friend had an interesting conversation the other day about the
came to the following conclusion: Olympics media coverage could be dramatically
improved if just two words – “overcame” and “overcome” – were banished from the
Olympics feature-story lexicon. Media
coverage would experience added quantum-leap improvements if a handful of other words
– “obstacle,” “confront,” “challenge,” and “adversity” * – were included on the list
of banned words when describing athletes and their private lives. **
* Plurals, conjugations, past tenses etc. included.
** Suggestions for other banned words are welcome.
'The truth is that these thinkers long for intellectual leadership'
one of the best articles I’ve read in a while about conservatives being self-critical about conservatives, something that used to be commonplace before
the ‘conservative movement’ types (hack political strategists, Rand groupies, celebrity
pundits, worker-bee bloggers, blowhard radio-show hosts, Fox, pandering pols,
etc.) took over. It’s encouraging to hear people like this discussing the
need for change on the right. But they know it isn’t going to be easy:
Bartlett, Bacevich, and McConnell all compare themselves and other dissident
conservatives to the core group that launched National Review or the
first generation of neoconservatives—a coterie on the edge of politics that has
the potential to grow at the expense of an intellectually decrepit
establishment. The difference, they acknowledge, is that they lack a leader.
you consider the career of someone like William F. Buckley, who founded National
Review in 1955, when the word ‘conservative’ commanded no respect
whatsoever, he seemed to be undertaking a fairly quixotic campaign,” says
Bacevich. “It took him, what, 25 years before it yielded significant fruits? …
If we take seriously the dictum that ideas have consequences, then we have to
problem with Burkean conservatives is there are not enough of us and not enough
rich ones. There’s a paucity of structures and institutions, but there could be
more,” offers McConnell.
of the things intellectuals love to be is on the cutting edge,” says Bartlett.
“We now have to write off the last 30 or 40 years and go back and start from
scratch, and do what those guys [Buckley and Irving Kristol] did, although now
in essence we are fighting against our own this time.”
the Obamacons seem satisfied with being uncommitted. “There’s no shame in being
a swing constituency,” says McConnell. “It is tactically useful.”
Obama's good news and bad news day
The good news for President Obama: jobs growth last month came in stronger than anticipated
. The bad news: It wasn't strong enough to keep up with labor-market growth, so the unemployment rate ticked up. So it's a wash -- and the president doesn't need these types of economic washes with the election only three months away. Put it this way: There are still five million fewer jobs today than there were before the recession, and that roughly translates into five million unhappy voters. ... Frankly, I'm a little surprised the race is still relatively close in the polls. The economy should be killing the president's prospects right now. I guess it just shows that this country is still divided along partisan and ideological lines, as it was in 2008, when the collapsing economy should have killed off McCain's chances, early and decisively. That election was surprisingly close too. As were the 2004 and 2000 elections.
Update -- The jobs report was 'awesome news'
? Doesn't take much to get Wall Street excited these days. Maybe investors are just relieved it wasn't worse, indicating a possible double-dip recession. But it certainly wasn't good enough to help Obama much. He needs much bigger numbers.
An obnoxious restaurant customer is put in his place
This is just a great slice of life story.
Kudos to the managers of J.M. Curley's.
Update -- Then again, maybe only half a kudos.