Monday, 16 July 2007

Yankee Watch

Both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees won today. Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 63.

From the Mailbag


Your bizarre, over the top hatred of the NYYankees seems to cloud your normally fine judgment. It is beyond doubt that Mussina is over the hill (way), Clemens is arguably as well; Petit pitched well at the beginning of the year, got no support and few wins; lately he has been bad. Damon is useless. Cano is indeed erratic, but has tremendous potential . . . last half of last year, he looked like best hitter in the league. You really err with Rodriguez, Matsui and perhaps Abreu. Rodriguez is a fine, sometimes excellent fielder. He has of course tremendous batting skills as well as weaknesses. But this year has been largely positive . . . he is driving in a run a game, keeping a +300 average, excellent on base percentage and slugging. He steals bases, runs hard. And hitting 32 home runs in 90 games playing in Yankee Stadium is HARD for a right handed hitter. You really miss with Matsui . . . he is a fine player, not the greatest fielder but not bad, not the best arm but not terrible, and he knows how to play, rarely makes mental mistakes. He got hurt early in the year, missed two weeks and had trouble hitting . . . but he is over that and in the last few weeks he has been close to the superb hitter he has been in recent years. No opinion about Abreu . . . don’t like left handed hitters in Yankee Stadium who mostly hit to left; its a losing proposition. The Yankees miss the devastating bat Gary Sheffield took to Detroit but not his vile, whining victim personality I bet. As for Rivera, you may be wrong. He looked bad early but has gotten better. Maybe he had an arm problem.

If you have ever read Bill James’s books about baseball, you know that the Yankees have followed a losing strategy. Paying huge salaries to established stars late in their careers, in effect, paying big money for what players did in earlier years for other teams in the (usually vain, see Damon) hope that they had a couple of more excellent years. Neglecting thereby bringing up young players and giving them a chance to mature.


Note from KBJ: It’s all in good fun, Paul. By the way, did I mention that my beloved Detroit Tigers beat the living shit out of the Yankees in the playoffs a year ago? It don’t get no sweeter.

Church and State

Here is the letter in which Thomas Jefferson, while president, used the expression “wall of separation between Church & State.” I’ve heard it said that some people think these words appear in the Constitution. They do not. They are Jefferson’s gloss on the First Amendment.


This year’s Tour de France takes place over a period of 23 days—from 7 to 29 July (inclusive). There are two rest days in that span. Today is the first of them. Guess what the riders did today? They rode their bikes! They have to, or their legs will lock up. See here for a New York Times story.

Addendum: A pure climber such as Michael Rasmussen can win the Tour, but, to do so, he has to accumulate a big lead in the mountains to offset his inferior time-trialing abilities. Suppose Rasmussen takes another two minutes out of his rivals on two occasions. That would give him a lead of six or seven minutes, which might be enough. Pedro Delgado was not the greatest time trialist, but he won the Tour in 1988 on the strength of his climbing. Marco Pantani did the same in 1998. Don’t count Rasmussen out. There are four mountain stages left, two with mountaintop finishes. Rasmussen might ride away from everyone, as he did yesterday.

Addendum 2: Here is the rest-day report from Cyclingnews. I’m tingling with excitement already about tomorrow’s stage, which, like all the others, I will watch live (from 6:30 to 10:30) on Versus. Just looking at the profile strikes fear into my heart, and I’m not even riding!

Addendum 3: Here is a scene from a bike race in Hungary.

The Straight Talker

John McCain’s presidential campaign is moribund. When you think about it, why would anyone have thought that McCain would make a good president? What has he done, other than serve his country honorably in the military (like tens of thousands of others)? He ingratiated himself with the media during the 2000 presidential campaign. This gave him good press. He became known as a straight talker—someone who isn’t poll-driven. Maybe McCain should have paid more attention to the polls. He infuriated conservatives by working with Democrat Russ Feingold to limit campaign contributions and by working with Ted Kennedy to reward (and thereby encourage) lawbreaking on our borders. As far as I’m concerned, the man should disappear into the woodwork. See here for a diagnosis of what went wrong with his campaign.


To answer Robert P. George’s question, I spoke.


Peter Berkowitz discusses “the new new atheism.”

Best of the Web Today


Homosexual “Marriage”

Having thought and written about homosexual “marriage” for several years, I’m convinced that the antagonists have different conceptions of marriage. Those who support homosexual “marriage” conceive of marriage as a state-sanctioned friendship. Since homosexual couples can be friends, they should (it is said) be able to participate in the institution. Those who oppose homosexual “marriage” conceive of marriage as a bundle of rights and responsibilities that is designed to promote the interests of children. The problem with the first conception of marriage is that it opens the door to any individuals who claim to be friends or lovers. How can you consistently deny marriage to three or more individuals who claim to love one another and who wish to have the state’s stamp of approval? You can’t. If marriage is about friendship, affirmation, or the personal fulfillment of the spouses, polygamy must be allowed. Many people, including me, find this abominable. Here is the argument:

1. If homosexual “marriage” is allowed, then polygamous “marriage” must be allowed.

2. Polygamous “marriage” should not be allowed.


3. Homosexual “marriage” should not be allowed.

It’s a logical slippery-slope argument. Anyone who accepts the premises must accept the conclusion, since it follows logically from the premises. A proponent of homosexual “marriage” can avoid contradiction either by rejecting the first premise (grasping the bull by the horn) or by rejecting the second premise (biting the bullet). Most people, I assume, accept 2. Since they also accept 1, they accept 3. In other words, most people find this a sound argument. See here for a New York Times op-ed column on the topic.

Conservatism and Progressivism

I have some questions for my readers. Please post your answers as a comment.

1. Are you more conservative (politically) now than you were before? If not, are you less conservative?

2. If you’ve changed, why? Do you think of it as cognitive change, i.e., a change in belief? Did your values change? Is it attitudinal?

3. If you’ve changed, did you find it hard to admit, either to yourself or to others? Was there a lag between the time you realized you’d changed and the time you announced it to others? If so, why?

4. What percentage of people who change go in the direction progressive-to-conservative? What percentage go in the direction conservative-to-progressive? If the percentages are anything other than 50-50, explain.

5. What does it mean to be conservative? Some people are linguistically conservative. Some are politically conservative. Some are financially conservative. Some are legally conservative. Do these forms of conservatism go together, or could one easily be, say, politically conservative but linguistically progressive?

I look forward to reading your answers.


If you want to see where the presidential candidates get their money, click here.


Now that the New York Yankees are out of contention for the playoffs, will the team unload its overpaid “stars”? The Yankees are old, slow, and lackadaisical. They embarrass themselves every time they walk onto the field. Mariano Rivera should have been unloaded years ago. Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettitte are washed up. They’re kept on solely for the sake of nostalgia. Robinson Cano is erratic. Johnny Damon is injury-prone. Alex Rodriguez couldn’t field his position if his life depended on it. Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui are happy just to show up and collect their paychecks. The only players I’d covet if I were a general manager on another team are Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. If I were Brian Cashman, I’d trade everyone but them and start a five-year rebuilding process.

Addendum: My fellow Yankee haters will enjoy this site.

Addendum 2: There are rumors that A-Rod will sign with the Los Angeles Angels next year. Can you blame him? He has a better chance of going to the playoffs with the Angels than he does with the Yankees. It could be years before the Yankees get back to the playoffs.

From the Mailbag

How come there was no Yankee Watch when they picked up a game on Boston?

Note from KBJ: Because the magic number didn’t change! I’ll put up a Yankee Watch whenever the number changes, which I hope is every day!

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Jack L. Goldsmith’s and Neal Katyal’s article is a terrific proposal to deal with the vexing problem of how to run a system of preventive detention for terrorists. They recognize both that our current system has evolved in a direction that is hurting the reputation of the United States around the world and that an ordinary criminal law model of handling terrorist detention will not work in time of war.

What is needed is a special Article III federal court with the power to preventively detain those who are dangerous and to try those who have committed crimes. Such a court must be set up by Congress, which must recognize that there are terrorists who need to be detained for the public safety even if they could not be prosecuted under all the elaborate rules of the criminal law that we apply to domestic criminal cases.

Terrorist detainees deserve more due process than they are currently getting but less than domestic criminal defendants. It has been nearly six years since the Sept. 11 attack, and it is time for Congress to set up such an Article III court. Congress must step up to the plate.

Steven G. Calabresi
Chicago, July 11, 2007
The writer, a co-founder of the Federalist Society, is a professor of law at Northwestern University.

Bush-Hatin’ Paul

Paul Krugman* finally figured us out. Those of us who oppose “universal health care” (don’t let the benign term fool you; it means a governmental takeover of medicine, accompanied by massive tax increases) have no arguments for our position. All we do is lie, prevaricate, deceive, misrepresent, distort, skew, and obfuscate. Can you say “projection”?

* “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults” (Daniel Okrent, “13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did,” The New York Times, 22 May 2005).