Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union: We're all Mississippi Now!

10:32 - PS I find it hilarious that the GOP response has managed to frame a black woman and Asian man in the background. I'm sure that was by chance.

Okay, what do I think... Pretty dull, actually, at least if you've been listening to Obama talk for the past two years. He said the same words he's been saying for a long time. Did that do anything? Not really. Maddow is noting that there was very little to excite the base. True. She also saw feisty-ness. I disagree. Pretty boilerplate.

Does this speech move Olympia Snowe? Nope. Of course, likely nothing does. Matthews is gushing over his "that's how budgets work" line in response to some GOP grumbling, but I don't think that actually did much -- he didn't explain to the audience why he was right and they were wrong, rather he just asserted, as the one with the microphone, that he was right.

No specifics. That executive order budget commission is a joke. He didn't detail any aspect of the 'bank tax' to recoup bailout funds. I mean, leaving out details are fine, but he didn't make the GOP own stopping such a measure. He could have, but he didn't. Mistake, I'd say.

Chris Matthews is quite upset that the GOP is successfully running as the "just say no" party. Obama's failure was not pointing that out enough.

10:20 - I am compelled to turn to MSNBC and listen to Chris Matthews. I hate myself.

10:19 - Stop lecturing Congress and start making it difficult for them to be turds. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and you've got the biggest spotlight in town.

10:17 - It is so odd to see the look on Alito's face, because he was actually listening and thinking about what was said. Such a contrast to every Congressman's face...

10:16 - I don't believe we can change, and I really doubt you can deliver. Well, that is true, you did say that you would not do it alone. I'm hanging my head in shame for being critical. You haven't told many hard truths tonight, though...

10:15 - No, lost faith in the government? Surely not! Or a Congressman keeps his great health care while ignoring millions of uninsured...

10:13 - Ah, now that is good. Thanks

10:12 - "Human dignity" and didn't mention gay rights.

10:11 - Yes, we will do a lot of things... zzz....

10:08 - Well, at least he didn't say nuc-uler

10:07 - Yes, welcome home troops. We'll let you have frontsies in the unemployment line.

10:06 - What will happen first, combat troops out of Iraq or a health care bill? No, this war is not ending... because you are still fighting terror, and there will always be terror.

10:04 - Now would be a good time to note that Senate procedural holds have left Homeland Security understaffed

10:02 - Nice call out on Dems there, grow some balls and pass the f'ing Senate HC bill (well, that was unsaid)... GOP ain't leading here, I like it. Good call out. Fire me up. Someone go yank on Mitch's jowels.

10:01 - Okay, more Senate bashing please, I like this

10:01 - Group hug time.

10:00 - FAIL in terms of fiscal responsibility. He did not mention a single program that should be cut. Not one.

9:59 - Uh, has the President ever called out the Supreme Court in a SOTU? Not in my lifetime, at least, not that directly... Yeah, I'm sure (D) and (R) will pass a campaign finance reform bill...

9:58 - If only we had a teevee station that showed Congress in action... huge ratings!

9:57 - "Let's try common sense" um, is Sarah Palin writing your speech?

9:56 - Huh, you get laughed at and you... stare a bit

9:55 - I wonder what color ribbon they will give this commission. I'm betting on blue

9:54 - A bipartisan fiscal commission that, interestingly, several GOPers voted for before they voted against it

9:53 - Line by line, page by page, except for the 80% of lines and pages that we won't go through.

9:52 - You ain't gonna veto shit

9:50 - The federal government should tighten its belt. Unless it wants to buy tanks and bombs and planes, those are things we really need, because a tank would have stopped the 9/11 attacks...

9:49 - Will he use Bush's name? I bet no.

9:48 - Call out the idiots, not by name, but at least parry back on some of the crap you've been taking for months. As they often say of my horse at the track: no rally

9:47 - He is stating facts as if such things sway the votes of Senators. He is speaking many words, but is anything meaningful, anything that he hasn't said over and over? What the F does it mean that you won't walk away? What are you going to DO?

9:46 - Olympia Snowe dyes her hair, right? That ain't natural. F U Baucus. Michelle is going to arm wrestle every fat kid in American until they lose weight.

9:45 - "Let's clear a few things up"

9:44 - Okay, health care, here we go...

9:43 - Hi Jane

9:42 - Okay, the problem is that Obama is essentially acting as if the previous year of Congress didn't exist and he didn't learn a damn thing from it.

9:41 - As a soon-to-be-dad, I'm all for community colleges being cheap. Although the offspring is going to be a carpenter or mechanic or something useful.

9:40 - The teacher in the room just told me that "Race to the Top" sucks, because it "corners you into being evaluated based on student scores"

9:39 - Play by the rules. Except the Geneva Conventions. Those aren't the droids you're looking for...

9:38 - How are farmers going to export corn they were paid not to grow?

9:37 - Can we export dumb-assery?

9:36 - Oh, we just need to pass a climate bill! D'oh, why didn't I think of that! Okay, give the naysayers a little lecture right now about how stupid they are for ignoring science! Show a little fight for what you believe in.

9:35 - I, actually, am quite fine with nuclear power.

9:34 - Cancer, normal, healthy! If only he had used the phrase "synthetic lethal"...

9:33 - Dude, you are not even remotely addressing the actual issue, namely, that nothing can get out of the Senate

9:32 - I WISH we were second place in math and science knowledge, clean energy, infant mortality, health spending, and many many many other things. We ain't even close.

9:31 - Hey ass, yes, the system does suck, and it doesn't help that you sat on the sidelines and did nothing to give a sense of urgency. YOU are Washington now, and you seemed content to wait. Although the 'competition' aspect of it is a good spin.

9:30 - No, the Senate won't

9:29 - When in doubt, dig up a line from Kerry '04: end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

9:28 - New trains are good. Although why Boston/NYC/Philly/DC hasn't seen that...

9:27 - Eliminate capital gains taxes on small business... how do you define small? Um, seems rife for a boondoggle.

9:25 - Twenty minutes in and I'm a bit underwhelmed. Not a lot of red (blue?) meat here. Nothing in terms of ideas yet. Ooh here's one, community banks. Okay, fine enough.

9:24 - A new Jobs Bill -- iPads for everyone!

9:23 - Personally, I would play up the piratical pronunciation of ARRA much more

9:23 - Chuck Grassley is not stimulated by much these days, including the Stimulus Bill

9:22 - Will he ratchet up the GOP attacks as the speech goes on?

9:19 - Fire up the torches, sharpen the pitchforks, we's going to Wall Street! Interesting, GOP doesn't clap at that...

9:18 - We do not quit. Unless we only hold 59% of Senate seats. Then we quit.

9:17 - He is hopeful, let's all clap

9:16 - That is a lie -- Americans are not terribly resilient; most are whiners.

9:15 - This might be setting a record for no applause. Again, I like it. Wall St./Main St. contrast, do a shot. Blaming Washington.

9:13 - I agree with not starting off with any big applause lines. I think a somber tone is appropriate.

9:12 - Bull Run, Omaha Beach, Black Tuesday, Bloody Sunday. How about the times that try men's souls?

9:09 - Think Obama can filibuster the State of the Union by reading from a phone book?

9:07 - What requires more effort, an aisle seat at SOTU, or a picnic table at Saratoga on a Saturday? Actually, that's a no-brainer.

9:05 - Shouldn't the seagant-at-arms have a gun? And wouldn't it be funnier if Waldorf and whats-his-name, the two angry old Muppets, introduced the president?

9:02 - Brian Williams is now talking about political capital, which doesn't exist. Stop talking about it like it exists. It doesn't. It is the laziest form of journalism. If you want to relate approval ratings as reflective of an ability to get recalcitrant Senators to vote your way, fine. But just call it that.

9:00 - Yes, Brian Williams, the voters are angry. But they are also, by and large, not too bright. Hard to square the circle of people wanting lower taxes and deficit reduction.

8:58 - Late breaking news: Evan Bayh will not challenge Obama in 2012. Phew!

8:56 - I really wonder, does ANY of this really matter? It certainly doesn't when it comes to Gallup polls, the history of that is clear, at least from a short-term perspective.

8:55 - According to Olberman via Couric, Obama did not eat his pie today.

8:15 - While this is certainly not confined to the Obama administration, what possible purpose is there to releasing the text of a speech before you give it? If it is some little piddly thing, then fine, give the reporters the text of what you're going to say so they can get their stories filed in time, etc. But before a major speech, why would you give time for detractors to sharpen their knives before you've even given it? Why not give yourself the buffer (especially if you're an excellent public speaker, like Obama) of basking in the immediate post-speech glow?

7:26 - I thought about live-blogging the SOTU, but I think I really want to pay attention. Plus it is hard to criticize someone whom you really really want to do well. So I'm still undecided on such things, but might. Right now, though, I'm wondering if we'll have a Joe Wilson redux. I mean, what was the lesson from his "you lie" comment almost a year ago -- that you can increase your name recognition and rake in campaign donations by abandoning all sense of decorum and tradition? Guh. (Oh, but the tradition of the Senate filibustering every single thing in sight -- that we need to keep) Where are we going, and why am I in a handbasket?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Three thoughts

1) Obama is starting to look desperate with his McCain-esque "let's try a spending freeze" gimmick. But not on defense, no, that'd be crazy. Instead, we'll look at the part of the budget that deals with helping people and creating a better society: environmental issues, scientific research, education, etc. etc. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of stuff I'd love to see cut -- high fructose corn syrup subsidies, for example -- but does Obama really think that he's going to get such things through Congress? Put it this way: if he really wants to go to the mat for some specific things, then more power to him. But if he just uses the SOTU to speak in vague outlines of needing to cut things, then what's the point?

2) I'm sure this point has been made before, but all the people who argued that, during the primaries, you should vote for Obama because he'll "change Washington" and/or "Hillary will be treated harshly by the GOP" really need to learn up on history before giving their opinions*
* Don't get me wrong, there were A LOT of good reasons to go with Obama over Clinton. But "Republicans will be nice to one but not the other" isn't one of them

3) A good Onion headline would somehow revolve around Peyton Manning and Drew Brees deciding to skip a week of Super Bowl preparation in order to get the AFC and NFC ready for the Pro Bowl.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Since more than one person has asked out it, here's my take on the recent Supreme Court decision overturning many aspects of campaign finance reform (from an email):

I understand the interest this decision has generated from an intellectual standpoint, as Matt raises, but I'm not sure the practical effect on elections will be nearly to the extent that a lot of people fear. People make shit up all the time during campaigns, so having more money in the system isn't going to increase the percentage of BS because it is so high to begin with. Also, people aren't hearing much anyway -- how much effect does a full page ad in the New York Times have? I'd wager slim to none. People largely pick and choose their information sources based on what they want to hear anyway. During the recent special election, every third ad on the radio and TV was a Coakley or Brown ad -- does increasing the number of political ads from 1 in 3 to 1 in 2 really going to change much?

I do have some sympathy for the view that some little Congressman in state X can be bullied by Corporation Y, with Y saying hey, vote how we want you to vote, or we'll spend millions backing your challenger. But I wonder if this is overstated. I can imagine a skillful politician successfully parrying that intimidation into backlash against Y, or Y's candidate. And on a more practical note, the current ability of Y to donate to X seems to be a pretty good way of influencing votes.

I might just be arguing that the way we choose officials is already so screwed up from a process standpoint, how could this make it worse?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pucker up

Not sure if this is a Coach Dale original, but either way, good one:
What's the difference between Scott Brown and Sarah Palin?

Lipstick. has a very interesting look at the last night's numbers. Essentially, Scott Brown managed to get every single McCain supporter to show up and vote last night, while Coakley underperformed Obama by greater than 20%. Hard to conclude anything other than "motivating the base" made the difference here. What you cannot tell from these numbers is whether Brown managed to get a significant number of Obama voters to switch to him, or simply if many who voted for Obama in '08 just stayed home rather than vote for Coakley. My guess would be the latter, but what do I know.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The end of a very short era

9:47 -- Oops, one more thing... interestingly, the 2006 Senate race results were a MUCH better predictor of tonight's results than the 2002 Governor race, at least in the 23 towns I chose: r-value of 0.69 vs. 0.03.

9:26 -- Well, Martha, you reap what you sow. Blergh. G'night.

9:21 -- AP calls it for Brown; Coakley has conceded.

9:19 -- With 14 of my 23 bellwethers reporting, I have Coakley running a median 5% behind (which nicely mirrors the actual state-wide returns so far). 71% in. Unless the final half of Boston has a HUGE swing, both in terms of trends and in terms of overall votes, this is over.

9:17 -- Framingham (decent size) actual +3, need a tie

9:14 -- Whitman actual -7, need -2. Total of 65% of precincts reported.

9:11 -- Here are two biggies: Quincy actual -4, need +2; Revere actual -3, need +4. Get out the hammers, that coffin needs a'nailin'

9:09 -- Palmer (small town) actual -11, need -2

9:08 -- Norah O'Donnell really sucks

9:07 -- Gardner actual -7; needed even (maybe not so close)

9:06 -- Dedham actual -6; needed -2

9:04 -- Brockton actual +5; needed +5. This could be close...

9:02 -- Coakley won Acton +8. Needed a draw. Again, the blues are deeper, the reds are deeper...

8:57 -- Coakley won Sharon +5. I had her as needing +5 (PS my Concord number was off by a factor of two... she won +12.5, i.e. 12.5 points above 50%)

8:55 -- Well, Coakley won Nantucket. And Edgartown. No returns from Chappaquiddick yet...

8:49 -- 37% in, Globe site still largely in FAIL mode

8:46 -- Looking at the map, my take is that blue areas of the state are really blue, while red areas are really red. I wonder if that is my visual bias, or will actually be borne out by the final results...

8:43 -- Most of the bigger towns, not surprisingly, are not in, or not fully in yet.

8:37 -- 18% in, Brown still up statewide by 5%. Checking individual towns...

8:30 -- According to Nate Silver's quick analysis, for towns with all reported, turnout is in the 60s. That's HUGE. 72% in Concord, which again, went Coakley by a lot

8:28 -- Official state elections page doesn't have anything up yet

8:26 -- According to Boston Globe (which, again, had problems on primary night) Coakley won Concord by 25%. I don't believe it. I had Concord as Coakley-needs-to-win-by (henceforth known as D+) 2%...

8:24 -- Southampton, one my 23, is in with Brown by 7%. It is the smallest town on my list, but my back-of-the-envelope math says that Coakley "wanted to lose" by less than 4%

8:18 -- Globe site crash. NECN shows Brown up 5% with 4% reporting.

8:16 -- Okay, about 7,000 votes are in, but we don't know from where. Brown up 9%

8:07 -- Rachel Maddow also at Doyle's...

8:06 -- According to Rasmussen Reports (salt taken), from their survey today, "Among those who decided how they would vote in the past few days, Coakley has a slight edge, 47% to 41%."

8:05 -- Okay, polls closed. Still looking for anything...

7:55 -- Not sure what the best site will be for real time returns. I remember that the Boston Globe's site was having problems during the primary, so that might not be your best bet. CNN tends to be pretty good.

7:47 -- According to Mike Barnacle, until two weeks ago, the Coakley campaign did not have a pollster. I'd call Coakley a turd, but for whatever reason that seems like a particularly male epithet. What is the female equivalent of turd? (I've also wondered what the female equivalent of douchebag is, but that's a discussion for another day)

7:42 -- What I was doing, but all-out. All the data you'd want to look at for recent Mass elections.

7:28 -- Beyond the fact that I want him to lose for actual policy reasons, I'd really like Brown to lose because of all the windbaggery I'm hearing on MSNBC. In addition to some Politco talking head (yes, that is redundant), Chris Matthews just noted that, were Brown to win, he'd be a good choice for Republicans to run for president in 2012. Um...

7:26 -- I'm going to buy a truck, just in case I want to run for office in 20 years. Never hurts to have an old truck.

7:23 -- Chris Matthews is hanging out down the street at Doyle's, a veritable institution in JP... hmm, that is tempting...

6:49 -- Okay, not much more to do until the polls close at 8. For what it is worth, about 40% of the people who live on my street had voted today in Jamaica Plain (it is very easy to read the voter roll and see who has a check-box next to their name, which is sorted by street). I voted on the early-end (~5:30pm) of the post-work crowd, so that number will certainly go up, although who knows by how much. Coakley will need a huge turnout in places like JP if she's going to have a shot.

6:21 -- This is vaguely interesting... I compared the results of the 2006 Kennedy-Chase Senate race to the 2002 Romney-O'Brien Governor race. On a macro level, things look like they make sense. The 23 towns I chose missed the 2002 actual result by overestimating the (D) by 1.0 percentage point; in 2006, overestimating the (D) by 0.8 percentage points. Further, the turnout was remarkably similar across those two years; while towns certainly varied a bit, the overall vote difference for those 23 towns was 434. Finally, when you look at how well the 2002 race predicted the 2006 race, well, the correlation coefficient is 0.24. Of course, the range of the data is pretty narrow, so that small an r-value is pretty much expected (if, for example, outliers like Cambridge (D) or Medfield (R) were included, then the r-value would look much better).

6:04 -- Doug Flutie is a Scott Brown supporter. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, most (white) athletes are Republicans.

6:01pm -- Well, the good news is that, when Coakley loses this race, Joe Lieberman will no longer be the critical 60th vote.

I'll have the aggressive, hold the passive

If there's a Brown supporter near my polling station, I may engage, because a good little "debate" seems like a good way to feel less crappy about all this.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The bell tolls for thee, Grossbard

Suffolk University has also been thinking about bellwethers. If these polls are accurate, then Coakley is cooked:
Gardner, Fitchburg and Peabody all show solid margins for Brown, the state senator running against Coakley. The cities were identified as bellwether communities because in the most recent "like election" - the November 2006 Senate race between the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and Republican challenger Kenneth Chase - the results in all three communities were within 1 percentage point of the actual statewide results for each candidate. Additionally, party registration in those cities is similar to the statewide voter makeup.

Now, I'm not sure how much the 2006 Senate election really mirrors this one. In fact, I would say that it did not in any particularly meaningful way.* That said, I did pick Fitchburg and Gardner as bellwethers (which is not spelled 'bellweather' by the way), which gave 52.1% and 51.4% of the vote to Romney (state-wide he got 52.6% of the two-party vote). This Suffolk poll has Brown up by 14 and 15 points, respectively. Could it really be this much of a blow-out?

*If I get really bored, maybe one day I'll see which did a better job of predicting these results, the 2002 Governor or 2006 Senate race.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What to watch for on Tuesday

I'm not sure how much any network will devote to coverage of a single race -- I'm sure there will be a crawl -- but my guess is coverage will be in the context of whatever shows happen to normally be on. Anyway, in terms of what to watch for, there haven't been a lot of close races in Massachusetts lately, and the most recent state-wide race of note that might be informative is the 2002 Governor race, between Mitt Romney and Shannon O'Brien. There was no incumbent in Man (R) v. Woman (D), and the Man looked like a politician, while the Woman was forgettable as a candidate. The mood in the country favored Republicans. Of course, one major difference (and a lot of other things, I'm sure, that don't fit this glossing over) is that there are greater national implications in this current Senate race.

Going back to the returns from that race, Romney won with 49.8% of the vote to O'Brien's 44.9%. I chose 23 decently-sized cities and towns that at least vaguely mirrored that result, with the idea that, as returns come in, they can serve as a decent barometer for the overall election. For this table, I removed all votes for third party candidates and normalized to just votes for Romney and O'Brien.

Obama comes to town tomorrow, speaking at Northeastern. I'll be watching football.

The percentage is what Romney received. So, if these results are predictive, Coakley needs to do >3% better than O'Brien in each town in order to win.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Don't blame me, I voted for Capuano

Jesus, she is horrible:
In a radio interview Martha Coakley (D) claimed that Red Sox great Curt Schilling was a Yankee fan.

While I'm now beginning to understand why her handlers shoved her in a steamer trunk after winning the primary, I still have no idea why anyone was driven to vote for her back in December.

Staying at 60

It is safe to say that panic has set in here in the Bay State (Bay Commonwealth, actually) regarding the Kennedy Senate seat. Scott Brown is a Mitt Romney clone, in that he's a good looking guy whom no one knows what he really thinks, or if he has actual opinions at all, and thus is a good vessel for a vote-the-bums-out election. On the other side you have Martha Coakley, who has run a horrible campaign since winning the Democratic primary in December. And by "horrible campaign" I mean "didn't campaign at all for a month." To be honest, I'm not really sure how she won the primary: as soon as polling started, she was well ahead and the other candidates could never overcome her giant lead, but I have no idea why she has so far ahead to begin with. I mean, being state attorney general must give you some name recognition, but initial polls had her beating her opponents by 20+ points. And it certainly wasn't her TV ads, which were, at best, non-offensive and could certainly be categorized as annoying.

Anyways, voting is next Tuesday. Current polls vary between a decent Coakley win (high single digits) to a narrow Brown win (a point or two). Nate Silver had a good point the other day, noting that those who would say anything but a Coakley blow-out is a loss for the Democrats need to look at previous elections in this state -- it is really only in Presidential elections that Massachusetts is a no-brainer, as Republicans tend to keep Congressional and Gubernatorial elections decently close (indeed, winning a latter a good chunk of the time).

The Kennedy seat is a class I seat, meaning that whomever wins it won't be up for re-election until 2012. If Coakley wins -- and I really hope she does, not because I think she'll be even a remotely successful Senator but rather because I'm confident that Scott Brown will do whatever Mitch McConnell tells him to do -- I hope she receives a strong challenge in '12.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Know thy drinking

From a community message board:
Wanted: Clean(ish) beer bottles

So I'm looking for empty beer bottles for home brews. I simply dont drink enough to create enough empties. They dont need to be clean, but free of cigarette butts at least.

WTF are you doing making your own beer if you readily admit that you don't drink a lot of beer? So, lemme guess, you're going to be the guy who brings his homemade beer to parties and makes everyone drink it and pretend to like it, while agreeing with you about the balance of hops and malts. Oh yeah, and then there's the lovely yeast particles that come with every sip from the final 2/3 of the bottle, because your beer isn't filtered. Thanks.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"What may be true, I say not yes or no"

Well, in times of sorrow, the internet provides succor. An entire Shakespearean take on The Big Lebowski:
A care-crazed father of a many children; it is a wise father that knows his own child. An excellent list for a man of no doubt excellent issue.

An amiable jest! Nay, I’d call’d his children his, but they come not of his loins, thou understand’st.

A cuckold, he?

A most subtle jest! Nay, but children of the inner city, of good promise, resolved to study but without the means. My lord resolves that they will all attend the university.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Institutional fail

While many have been lamenting the failings of the institutional structure that is the US Senate, there is no more dysfunctional collection of humans on the planet than the Baseball Writers Association of America, as evidenced today by their Hall of Fame voting.

Andre Dawson, the Hawk, finally got in, on his 9th year of eligibility. He should have been in years ago. He not only had a long career and accumulated excellent numbers, but also was an elite player for a stretch, culminating in an MVP award while playing for a last place team, a truly rare accomplishment. He had very few peers while he played, no doubt. So what the hell took so long to put him in? Or, more specifically, can a writer who previously voted against Dawson elucidate some coherent reason why he changed his mind? No, such an individual couldn't make a rational argument without sounding like a sommelier with a blindfold on explaining why Two Buck Chuck is worthy of a 95 Wine Spectator rating, $100 price tag, and should be cellared for at least 10 years before drinking.

Even more egregious is leaving out Robbie Alomar. He was the best second basemen in baseball, by a longshot, for the better part of two decades. Offense catalyst on an excellent Blue Jays team that won consecutive World Series. Stellar defense. Piled up great numbers over a long time, and, like Dawson, could legitimately claim, at least for a stretch, to be an answer to the 'if you had one guy to build your team around' question.

Everyone is above average!

In case anyone was worried that Ivy League students weren't getting enough self-esteem given to them on a platter, I just want to assure you that grade inflation is alive and well here in Boston.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lean n' Mean

As someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time focusing on the written word, this piece by Michael Kinsley resonated. Not only is he explicitly bashing the vapid nature of writing in 'top' newspapers, he is also implicitly imploring people to remember Strunk and White. For example:
The Times piece, by contrast, waits until the third paragraph to quote Representative George Miller, who said, “This is our moment to revolutionize health care in this country.” That is undeniably true. If there was ever a moment to revolutionize health care, it would be the moment when legislation revolutionizing health care has just passed. But is this news? Did anybody say to anybody else, “Wait’ll you hear what George Miller just said”? The quote is 11 words, while identifying Miller takes 16. And there’s more:

“Now is the chance to fix our health care system and improve the lives of millions of Americans,” Representative Louise M. Slaughter, Democrat of New York and chairwoman of the Rules Committee, said as she opened the daylong proceedings.

(Quote: 18 words; identification: 21 words.)

and this:
The software industry has a concept known as “legacy code,” meaning old stuff that is left in software programs, even after they are revised and updated, so that they will still work with older operating systems. The equivalent exists in newspaper stories, which are written to accommodate readers who have just emerged from a coma or a coal mine. Who needs to be told that reforming health care (three words) involves “a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system” (nine words)? Who needs to be reminded that Hillary Clinton tried this in her husband’s administration without success? Anybody who doesn’t know these things already is unlikely to care. (Is, in fact, unlikely to be reading the article.)


Last night the Sox agreed to a one year deal (with a player option for a second) with Adrian Beltre, 3B formerly of the Mariners and Dodgers. He's okay with a bat, but apparently he was signed for his glove. To summarize several thousands posts on Sons of Sam Horn, you can win more games by either scoring more runs or preventing more runs, and the Sox seem to have decided that the more cost-effective way is to pursue the latter. Indeed, this off-season they acquired a big name pitcher (Lackey) while signing two position players with excellent gloves (Beltre, Cameron) while not really pursuing two sluggers, Jason Bay & Matt Holliday. At least in theory, the theory is sound. By several fielding algorithms, the Red Sox have a chance to be a historically good run prevention team.

My concern is that, last year, the Sox were woeful not at scoring runs (they were 3rd in the AL, and 872 runs is a lot of runs) but in scoring runs against good pitching. Basically, they beat up on bad pitching but were stymied by good pitching -- and while this is true across the league (it is what defines the good and bad pitching!) the Sox differential was far more extreme than most teams. The lack of hitting is what sealed their fate against the Angels, as they scored exactly 1 run in the first two playoff games. So one is left wondering if that differential is something that is predictable going forward or was just a fluke.