November 29, 2014

The A's and Braves makes as much sense to me as the Red Sox

A few days ago, I blogged that the Boston Red Sox's free agent signings of BOTH Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez made little sense to me. Especially when they said Ramirez would play left field.

With Mookie Betts presumably still starting in the OF, that leaves Boston with Jackie BradleyDaniel NavaYoenis CespedesShane Victorino,  Allen Craig, and Brock Holt fighting for one OF spot, or to now be immediately discounted, pennies-on-the-dollar trade bait.

As of today, two more teams make no sense: The Atlanta Braves and the Oakland A's.

First, the A's. I do not get their trading Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie plus prospects. Billy Beane can call it a "reshuffling" move, but it sure looks like a rebuilding move to me. And, it's weird to be rebuilding after just making an improvement-type free agent signing of Billy Butler.

The Braves, after their own blockbuster trade that I liked, sending the Cards outfielder Jason Heyward and setup man Jordan Waldon in exchange for Shelby Miller and minors prospect Tyrell Jenkins, are now supposedly talking about a trade with the ...

Wait for it ...

The Oakland A's.

This can't be all the players who would be involved, but reportedly, the A's side would key on pitcher Jeff Samardzija, while the Braves' return would include both Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.

First, the A's will have to pay a LOT more to get both of those players.

Second, why are the Braves even thinking about trading Gattis, when having Gattis was the reason they let Brian McCann walk in free agency a year ago? Maybe they have some stud at AAA manning the plate? Christian Bethancourt hits for average but not power, and does have a good out-stealing percentage.

If I'm Beane, if I have to turn around and include Lawrie in that trade, even, I think I do that. Or, include any other pitcher not named Sonny Gray, although I don't think Beane would like to trade two pitchers for two position players, even if Saber Man has just one year left on contract.

If I'm the Braves, I give team president or whatever John Hart a blood alcohol test.

If I'm a Blue Jays fan, I hope my team has finally stopped teasing me.

If I'm Billy Beane, I continue to peddle my Moneyball image.

That said, Saber Man is also rumored going back to Chicago, but to the Southsiders as part of a deal for Alexei Ramirez.  That would be an upgrade over Jed Lowrie, but short-term only as a swap of one-year players unless Beane has longer term eyes for Ramirez.

November 28, 2014

#TeaParty type person behind Austin shooting

Larry Steven McQuilliams, from his Facebook page.
As I suspected this morning on Twitter, the suspect in a downtown Austin shooting (nobody injured except the suspect, fatally), seems to be an anti-government person.

Knowing that Austin's federal courthouse and Mexican consulate had been targets of gunfire and possible explosive devices, just a week after President Barack Obama's speech on immigration, that wasn't too hard a guess to make.

And, now we know something about Larry Steven McQuilliams, who was wearing a vest suspected of either being a bulletproof vest or a suicide bomber's one, fired more than 100 rounds and started a fire at the consulate.

That's him in a Ren Fest costume. Doesn't take a lot of imagination to picture a tea bag tacked to that hat, does it?

The Austin American-Statesman (third link) reports that a neighbor and his Facebook page confirm antigovernment leanings. The Statesman notes that he spent time in the federal pen in Texarkana; on what charges is not yet known. He also reportedly had a 1992 arrest in Austin for aggravated robbery.

His Facebook page also has a photo-poster with a quote from the Dalai Lama advocating gun usage at times. (Yes, on the quote being real.) That's it, on the left.

BreitbartUnmasked has dug up several Facebook comments of his.

McQuilliams doesn't seem like a common last name.

And, Facebook turns up other people with that same name, from Wichita, where Larry lived before Austin.

However, none of them list him as a Facebook friend or vice versa. (It's possible they could have mutually scrubbed each other, of course.)

However, this link confirms that he is related to Aryvella McQuilliams, Landon McQuilliams, Virgil McQuilliams and a Robin Hughes.

Let's take Virgil McQuilliams, the "prize" of the bunch, first.

A copy of that photo poster was on his Facebook timeline on Nov. 23. (Facebook permalink to McQuilliams post.) There's other stuff on his feed talking about Obama's immigration amnesty program, claiming Obama is a secret Muslim, etc. You get the picture.

Virgil looks about the right age to be his brother, assuming that Aryvella is their mother. (Intellius lists her as male, for some reason.) Landon appears to be Virgil's son, and has nothing extraordinary, at least publicly visible, on his timeline.

Robin appears to be Virgin and Steve's sister. She has nothing the likes of Virgil, but both she and Aryvella do have a number of conservatively religious Facebook posts.

On Nov. 30, the Austin PD confirmed that his parents lived in Wichita and refused to talk to them. Given what I've mentioned above, I could assume that's Aryvella and husband Larry. And given everything we're learning (see updates, below), is that a surprise? But, I've not seen Steve, whose given first name is Larry, called "junior." At the same time, US Search, like Intellius, lists all these people as related, so, I'll stand by calling Aryvella and Larry his parents, and on the judgment call about the rest of the family tree.

USA People Search lists a Deana Hudson, 48, as a relative of Steve. Could have been his wife. Or, like Robin Hughes, a sister.

Another possible relative of his, an Eric Tyler McQuilliams, possibly either son or nephew, has both a state of Texas and federal history of drug charges.Other than a state habeas petition, though, I can't find anything about Steve in the federal court system; the Statesman noted his federal information was incomplete. Eric's name came up with his in federal records. However, Intelius does NOT list him and Steve as directly related. So, it may be a nephew, or a cousin, or a first cousin once removed or something.

Meanwhile, at least one Breitbart commenter (I posted this link in comments on a story of theirs that was trying to soft-soap his seeming anti-government stance) called this "propaganda." Yep, that's where wingnuts are at: truth = propaganda.

Update, Dec. 1: Without commenting on anything they've found on his family history, Austin police are confirming Steve McQuilliams had anti-African American views, along with conservative Christian anti-immigrant views. Wonder if he was involved with specific white identity groups.

Actually, per the Washington Post, it appears he WAS involved with just such a group, or a movement that wasn't organized enough to be called a group. Wikipedia has more on the Phineas Priesthood.

Note especially this part, from Wikipedia's page on the Phineas Priesthood:
Members of the Priesthood are considered terrorists for, among other things, various 1996 abortion clinic bombings, the bombing in Spokane of The Spokesman-Review newspaper, bank robberies, and plans to blow up FBI buildings. Four members of this organization were convicted of crimes including bank robbery and bombing, with each sentenced in 1997 and 1998 to life in prison.

Further proof, via a via negativa, that McQuilliams is a white supremacist? White supremacists are calling this a false flag.

Ties somewhat with Eric McQuilliams. Drug running is another way, besides bank robbery, of producing money for bombs and weapons. Plus, don't forget that 1992 robbery charge in Austin reportedly against Steve McQuilliams.

Beyond that, he was found with a list of 34 locations, including two churches, that police believe he had targeted.

Update, Dec. 5: I don't do this often, because I'm not a Gnu Atheist, but I get tired of these "God put me in the right place" types of nuttery. Officer Johnson, if god were really involved, then why didn't he prevent Steve McQuilliams from getting his guns and bombs in the first place?





The truth and nothing but the truth .... but not ...

But not the whole truth, to reference the third phrase to which people are supposed to swear in American courtrooms.

I'll explain what I'm about here.

Recent events, including the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury's no-bill decision, have put me in mind of a saying by Afghan philosopher and Sufi mystic Idries Shah:
To 'see both sides' of a problem is the surest way to prevent its complete solution. Because there are always more than two sides.
Oh most big events, this is pretty true.

Even if we can distinguish truth from lies (setting aside things that are neither true nor deliberately false, like inaccurate eyewitness accounts that are inaccurate but believed to be accurate), and get only the truth told, we can never get the whole truth told.

None of us has a "view from nowhere." I see no evidence of an omnipotent deity who does, and even if such a critter existed, I see no evidence to see that he miraculously enlightened anybody in the Michael Brown case, the Trayvon Martin case, Benghazi, Edward Snowden or many, many other things.

There are ethical structures, philosophically based, that can be connected to the main political stances in America today.

There's John Rawls' ideas on fairness and redistributive justice, strongly liberal.

There's John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham with their utilitarianism and the greatest good for the greatest number, very libertarian.

And there's Immanuel Kant's deontological ethics, that "it's right because it's pronounced to be," very conservative, especially for social conservative rights.

All three rely strongly on the existence of a dispassionate all-seeing view from nowhere.

Rawls' fairness depends on us being absolutely sure we know what's fair for all involved. And, as Walter Kaufmann has clearly shown, fairness, and redistributive needs (even if not Marxist-based) vary from individual to individual and situation to situation.

So, we have no view from nowhere.

Utilitarianism's view from nowhere depends in part on long-term as well as short-term outcomes, and we are never going to be able to know that.

And Kant's ethics? I already tackled that under the lack of evidence for an omnipotent deity.

Unfortunately, though, humans are are prone to see things in the world in general in bipolar terms as they are in tribal terms.

So, as in the Brown-and-Wilson case, we get two polar "narratives," both of which assume that their own narrative and the other one are the only  two "sides" involved.

And, they're not.

And that, dear readers, is philosophy on the street in action.

Ferguson, Brown and Wilson thoughts

First, it probably fits nobody's "narrative," but this seems to be a reasonable reconstruction of what happened when Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson stopped Michael Brown and eventually fatally shot him.

Note that some of it is conjecture. It will remain conjecture forever, for the most part, as I noted a few weeks back in discussing autopsy evidence.

The reconstruction is based on multiple autopsies, including one performed at the request of Brown's family. And, even The Nation notes that those autopsies aren't inconsistent with Wilson's version of events.

Yes, Wilson may have motive for lying about some elements. So, too, may friends of Brown. Both of them may be lying about some elements. That said, forensic investigation reconstructs a certain amount of things. I've blogged before about how neither "side" is totally right. Beyond that, eyewitness testimony in general is not as credible as people would believe, and that's even without it being fueled by massive shots of emotions. That said, NPR notes that "Witness 14," arguably the most sympathetic to Brown, admitted that, before the final, fatal shots were fired, Brown was moving toward Wilson after being told to stop.

Sadly, even a Charles Pierce is at least partially going down the narrative line. He excoriates Wilson for claiming someone "exactly the same height" intimidated him (taking the statement as true for argumentation), while not noting that Brown outweighed him by nearly 100 pounds and thus isn't the same size.

Second: as for the grand jury? In Missouri, 9 of 12 votes are needed to true bill someone. While it's arguably true that St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch was less than stellar, at least, in not presenting the grand jury with possible specific crimes to commit, it's a bit far in calling him Wilson's defense attorney. More here, as an overview, on what the grand jury had to consider. If you really want to dive in further, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has transcripts of grand jury testimony. Related grand jury info here.

Per Pearce, would we have been better served if Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had appointed a special prosecutor? Maybe, though even then, I doubt there would have been an indictment.

That said, there was at least a bit more chance of an indictment if McCulloch hadn't handed off prosecutorial presentation to the grand jury to an assistant, Kathy Alizadeh, and especially if she hadn't presented grand jurors a 1979 Missouri law on police use of force ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the Tennessee v. Garner case. Both McCulloch and Alizadeh should be censured by the state bar, and if McCulloch has Supreme Court privileges, Eric Holder ought to find a way to remove them if possible.

On the other hand, per the NPR interview, "Witness 14" testimony plus the state's "police deference" law almost surely would have nixed an indictment for involuntary manslaughter, let alone anything more strenuous than that, even with a correct, post-Garner Missouri law. Garner, after all, allows for the officer to act on fear of serious bodily injury, not just fear of death. And, the only dissent to Garner was that it was too restrictive of cops. I can't think of a lesser charge that would fit a worst-case scenario interpretation of Wilson's actions, and a charge greater than that had less than zero chance.

Let's not forget that in Atwater v. Lago Vista, after all, that the Supreme Court said cops can arrest people for moving violations, even something so minor as not wearing a seat belt.

In short, we would have had another scapegoat instead of McCulloch.

Third, as for the two people at the center of the storm? We know Wilson had no previous police disciplinary record. We know Brown had no Class A or B felonies, but don't know about lesser felonies or misdemeanors; unfortunately, family court there refused to release information about possible lesser charges, and didn't otherwise comment one way or the other. And, that's not to "smear" Brown; it's to honestly ask about his past.

Fourth, per the Post's live blog of events after the grand jury, senseless rioting (which is, by definition, senseless) doesn't help anything.

Fifth, for folks in a black-majority city who don't like a white-majority city council? This is why, as I blogged a while back, voting in municipal elections is important. So is voting in midterm Congressional elections. If you haven't done that, there's still time to make yourself part of the solution in the future.

Sixth, what can we do to try to keep something like this from happening again?

1. Get the feds to tie police grant money to better training on stop and arrest procedures in general, and civil rights-based conduct in particular
2. As I said in my first blog post link above, have cops wearing on-body video cameras. (Federal grant money could be tied to this, too.) And, sanction cops who "somehow" have their cameras off at just the "right" (wrong) times, as has been the case in Albuquerque. And, on-body video cams protect good cops from slanders, etc. They may not give a lot more help to people who are shot, on criminal cases against police, given the "deference" laws most states have, but they can help more with civil suits.
3. Get a few more people on both "sides" to acknowledge that there are both bad cops and bad young minority (and Caucasian) residents. Along with that, get a few more people on both "sides" to acknowledge there are plenty of good cops, and good youth, of all ethnicities.
4. Get more cities of reasonable size to establish community police boards, and make sure they have necessary teeth.
5. Stop militarizing police departments in general.
6. Have potential criminal cases, or potential indictments, for excessive use of police force, overseen by special prosecutors (notwithstanding what I said about a special prosecutor in this case).
7. Again, especially minorities, but more liberal-minded people in general? If you want change, then you have to vote for change at the local government level. If Ferguson doesn't have a black-majority city council and a black mayor by the time we get past 2016 municipal elections, then look in the mirror. And move municipal election dates to general election dates, if you can, to help.

None of these will happen easily, quickly or overnight. Some of them will take pressure from Washington, starting with an acknowledgment by Barack Obama that he is NOT our nation's first "post-racial" president. Actually stopping the hardware militarization of police departments, not just saying it's a possible problem, also starts at his doorstep.

There are other things that can be done, too. Those are just the top relevant ones.

Radley Balko suggests fixing St. Louis County's Balkanized small-town patchwork would help somewhat. What would help more on the incidents he mentions is the Missouri legislature putting a cap on what percentage of its budget a community can make off traffic fines.

==

My personal belief is that Wilson probably overreacted a bit, but not incredibly at the time of first coming upon Brown. Also, being young, he probably didn't follow best police procedures in some ways and probably could have stood to have better training in some ways. Given that Brown was with others, Wilson probably shouldn't have rolled his window all the way down when he did, and should have waited until backup arrived.

But, Wilson did not extremely overreact, as I see it.

That said, Brown had just strongarm-robbed a convenience store. Yes, when you go beyond theft to committing assault as part of a theft, that's what it's called in Texas, and probably something similar in Missouri. By the time Wilson used his police Tahoe to block off traffic, he knew about the robbery and knew that Brown fit the description.

Per Witness 14, it's arguable that Wilson shouldn't have been presented to the grand jury. Even without "deference" laws, it would not be easy to charge him, and almost impossible to convict.

I know some liberal friends and acquaintances may not like that. Some may not like the fact that, no pun even close to intended, this isn't a totally black and white case.

It's a tragedy, It's a tragedy that could have happened differently — for all sorts of reasons.

It's a tragedy that began with the commission of a crime, though. Especially if Brown had no previous mild felonies, it was a stupid crime just as a blatant theft, even without adding violence to it.

===

Actually, I'm adding a few more thoughts.

One is that Brown's parents are telling a story that's a fair amount different from grand jury testimony, including that of "Witness 14." I simply don't find his mom, Lesley McSpadden, credible. She also doesn't know how much or how little strength her son had after the first couple of shots. I have edited a news story about an apparently mentally ill person fatally shot by police. Multiple shots hit the person and he kept walking forward, and at least part of this was captured on police camera.

And, no, Michael Brown's life can't be judged by a 17-second video clip from that c-store of robbery, as she says, but, his seeming criminality on that day certainly can be judged by that.

We can also judge not only stress, but a bit of the character of McSpadden by possible armed robbery of her own, along with her boyfriend, also called Brown's stepfather, over relatives selling Michael Brown related merchandise. Family dysfunctionality can't have helped young Brown's life. And, that link is the first time I've read that story, in part because my life hasn't been living and dying on each day of Michael Brown coverage.

Wilson, even if not telling every bit of truth, is absolutely right that officers are trained not to try to pull unrestrained or unsubdued suspects into their vehicles.

Second is that, yes, I don't know what it's like to be African-American facing a nearly all-white police department. I also don't know what it's like to be a police officer. And I and a lot of people don't know what it's like to be a black police officer in such a community being called a race traitor. I have seen the black police chief of this community being accused by the black mayor pro tem of letting his mixed-ethnicity police force deliberately "pick on" black drivers.

Third is that grand juries don't work the way the Browns' lawyer claims. He and they are welcome to pursue legal remedies that play out that way via the civil system.

Fourth is that, while I like a fair amount of Charles S. Pierce's writing, too often, he follows or creates "narratives" himself. They're usually Democrats vs. Republicans, or when they're more generic liberals vs. conservatives, they don't step outside the boxes to third-party politics, or independent, critical thinking. His rejection of Wilson's comments on Brown's size indicated to me that, on this, he's going to double down on a stereotypical narrative line, and keep digging the whole deeper the more he writes.

For example, Pierce scoffs at Wilson's statement that it was his job to observe and monitor Brown, not arrest him. Actually, Wilson's exactly right. Until backup cops arrived, that was exactly his job.

I've read Pierce writing about small-town newspaper work before. Based on this and related things I've seen in his writing, I'm going to uncharitably but straightforwardly assume he knows enough about police work to know Wilson is correct and that his scoffing is a form of lying.

So, Charlie, your Esquire link comes off my blogroll. I can have people like a Ken White of Popehat, whom I disagree with even more, or a Ted Rall, as long as they're going to try to be reasonably straightforward.

Josh Marshall is another member of the national liberal commentariat whose take on Wilson I find wanting. First, like Pierce, he downplays the size difference.

Next, he refuses to wade into scenario reconstruction like that WaPost link at the top of the page here. He says:
I'm going to set aside all the questions about just how far apart Wilson and Brown were when the fatal shooting occurred, the angle of Brown's body, whether his hands were up. Lots of people have parsed the evidence on that a lot more closely. Those points are technical and accounts are conflicting. 
There's a word for that, and it's called "chickenshit."

I don't deny, per you and others, that Wilson was gilding the lily in some of his account.


Pierce, and others, are at least halfway right to raise an eyebrow at Wilson saying that Brown appeared "demon-possessed." At a minimum, Wilson could have used better language.

At the same time, in light of grand jury testimony, again referring back to Witness 14, it does appear that Brown was non-responsive in some way, perhaps even "out of control." While Wilson didn't use the most correct language for that, that appears to be what he's saying.

This, in turn, spins it back to Pierce. Contra other insinuations, I think this shows that either Wilson wasn't "coached" much before the ABC interview, or else that he had bad coaching.

He still comes off as more credible than Brown's mom, at least.

As for people who have asked (often rhetorically) why Wilson didn't say more before Nov. 26? Er, because the grand jury hadn't voted yet, and he didn't want to say anything that might cause him to prejudice himself in their eyes.

As Brown's parents have not yet indicated whether they will or will not file a civil suit, if Wilson is wisely advised, you won't hear much more from him. And, since at least the Ferguson PD, as well as the city of Ferguson, could be targeted by such a suit, even with sovereign immunity, nobody else from the city there will be saying much more.

And now, yet another bit of fun?

The family-requested first autopsy of Brown? Don't put so much stock in it; it was done in part by someone with mail-order certification. No, really. And, that Caribbean medical school he was "going to attend"? Accredited by nobody other than the government of St. Kitts, and primarily reliant on distance learning. In addition, he's lying about university affiliation he doesn't have.

Finally, there's a lot of better cases of police shootings than the Brown cases, including white-on-white shootings, that are poster cases for police reform, than is the Brown/Wilson case.

As for why I'm primarily focusing on the liberal narrative rather than the conservative one? Well, I'm a liberal, and my real-life and online world friends are generally liberal, not conservative, so I am running into more details of the liberal one.

My thoughts on such "marratives" in general, and what light philosophy can shed in moving beyond polarized, dualistic, dueling narratives, is here.

November 26, 2014

My second take on the 2015 baseball #HOF ballot

The full ballot is here. And, I blogged Monday some initial thoughts about who I think gets in, who I think makes progress, etc.

Now, briefly, since Adam Rubin of ESPN, among others, are already releasing their proposed HOF ballots, I'll submit mine, even though I am of course not a BBWAA member.

1. Randy Johnson
2. Pedro Martinez
3. Craig Biggio
4. Jeff Bagwell
5. Mike Piazza
6. Mike Mussina
7. Tim Raines
8. Curt Schilling
9. Alan Trammell
10. Jeff Kent

Fans note two missing names, of course.

Well, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens get on my ballot when they:
A. Give at least a halfway sincere confessional. I don't know more than halfway sincere, but I want that. Feel free to throw Bud Selig and owners under the bus if you want.
B. Some "how I did it" explanation as a practical matter to help refine the testing process in some way and provide a bit more insight on how prevalent (or not) PEDing was and still may be.

That said, do I expect either leopard to change its spots enough to do that? Er, no!

And, it's not just players. I've said similar about the managerial Three Amigos — managers Joe TorreTony La Russa and Bobby Cox, and especially the first two — who entered Cooperstown last summer. I suspect they knew more about some of their players than they have let on.

As for greenies vs. roids? Apples vs oranges, and more, as I've blogged before.

One outtake from there, per the piece it links to?


Arguably, steroids, as well as (prescription-strength) greenies, have been baseball verboten since 1971, since they weren't "over the counter," at least not by legal sales:
Ken Davidoff makes a good argument for distinguishing between steroids use prior to and after baseball’s formal adoption of drug testing in 2005.  I give Davidoff credit for taking a nuanced stand on what I consider to be a complex issue, and for successfully resisting my instinct to paint everyone as either a steroids hawk or a steroids dove.  But I don’t agree with Davidoff’s selection of 2005 as a cutoff date.  Baseball first explicitly banned steroids in its 2002 Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Moreover, the non-prescription use of prescription drugs has been banned by baseball since 1971 .  ... But if Davidoff is looking for a bright line date to distinguish between tolerable and intolerable use of anabolic steroids, I’d suggest that he use the date February 27, 1991 – that’s the date that federal law placed anabolic steroids in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act, making non-prescription possession of anabolic steroids a federal crime.

The author of that piece also tries to disentangle prescription amphetamines from over-the-counter diet pills. There are no over-the-counter steroids.

It's otherwise not a perfect standard, but, in broad outlines, I'm far from alone in holding to it.

Second note: Some may not like Curt Schilling. Fine.

It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Saintly.

We have a virulent racist, in Ty Cobb, who was part of the inaugural class and is still on baseball's top 30 or so all time players. We have a racist owner who started the Yankees on their route to fame in Jacob Ruppert and another, more genteel one, who probably kept the Red Sox held back, in Tom Yawkey.

And worse, as I've blogged before, including the cheating with the ball of the likes of Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton.

We also have two highly alcoholic managers in Joe McCarthy and John McGraw.

At the same time, we've got more saintly players than Schilling on my lists ofbatters and pitchers who are in the Hall but shouldn't be.

And, speaking of, Rubin gave me a laugh by saying he'd vote in Edgar Martinez and Lee Smith if he could.

Uh, no. Both would immediately enter my list of players who need to be voted back out. Martinez is a borderline no. Smith isn't even close.

Way to demonstrate your lack of baseball knowledge, Adam.

So, no, Craig Calcaterra, other than the fact that Rubin fills out all 10 slots, this is not a more-or-less perfect ballot, especially not if Gar and Big Lee are his two standbys. (I've already Tweeted Craig I'll eat his hat if John Smoltz breaks 50 percent this year.)

Obama on ozone — still a difference-splitter who doesn't get it

President Obama's new announcement on tighter ozone regulations typifies six years and counting of his presidency.

Current standard is 75 parts per billion. The Environmental Protection Agency wants that cut to 60 parts per billion.

So, after kicking this can down the road a couple of years, as in:
The E.P.A. had planned to release the new ozone rule in August of 2011, but as Republicans and powerful industry groups prepared to go on attack against the plan, Mr. Obama decided to delay its release, fearing that opposition to the regulation would hurt his re-election chances in 2012.
what does Dear Leader now opt to do?

Exactly split the difference with a proposed standard of 65-70 ppb. As if that's going to magically get some Republican representative, senator or governor to give him a man hug and an environmentalism bromance.

Right:
The proposed ozone rule comes as the longstanding battle over Mr. Obama’s use of the Clean Air Act to push his environmental agenda is erupting in Congress and the courts. The ozone rules are expected to force the owners of power plants and factories to install expensive technology to clean the pollutants from their smokestacks. 
Next year, the E.P.A. is expected to make final two more historic Clean Air Act rules aimed at cutting planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. Those rules, which are intended to curb pollutants that contribute to climate change, could lead to the shutdown of hundreds of power plants and freeze construction of future coal plants. 
The Republican-majority Congress, to be led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the incoming majority leader, has vowed to block or overturn the entire group of rules. In a separate development, the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to take up a challenge led by industry groups against another E.P.A. rule intended to curb emissions of mercury from coal plants. 
“We’re facing a series of regulations, and the cumulative cost of compliance and the burden of permitting is significant,” said Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council, a group which has lobbied aggressively against the rules. “An industry such as ours is poised to make significant investments in growth, but these regulations make that harder.”

Splitting the difference, Mr. Dear Leader, will stave off none of this.

That said, except for a neoliberal angle of more government investment in solar power research and development, I think Obama's even loss of an environmentalist than Bill Clinton. 

November 24, 2014

The #RedSox make no sense to me

Hanley Ramirez;
the Sawks' new
Manny Ramirez
(in their outfield)?
Apologies, Rush.
Signing both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez is what makes no sense.

San Pablo is overrated by many on defense. He had a negative dWAR in 2012 and 2013. He's only a mild career plus on total zone runs and a career zero on defensive runs saved. And, he's below league range factor. He has a career dWAR of just 0.9, and has never won a Gold Glove, let alone a Fielding Bible award. Glove quality may remain solid, but range factor will likely only continue to decline.

Ramirez? We know he's bad on defense. So, the Sawks are allegedly going to put him "out to pasture," so to speak, keep Xander Bogaerts at short and let Ramirez play the outfield. Turning him into a corner OF will be more fun yet. We'll either get to watch him figure out the Green Monster for a full year, looking even more futile than namesake Manny Ramirez, or else remind Sawks fans in right that Dewey Evans should be in the Hall and Hanley Ramirez never will be.

At the plate, Ramirez has about average pop for an AL corner OF. Not worse than, but not more than, either.

Pablo Sandoval, a
poor man's Ortiz
in three-four years.
Beyond that, just a month ago, Ben Cherington et al, including sports writers, were talking about the surfeit of outfielders there. Does this mean they're back-shelving Jackie Bradley? Will Daniel Nava be a non-tender in arbitration and get free agency? It surely means they're not resigning Yoenis Cespedes, but he's on contract for one more year. So is Shane Victorino. And Mike Napoli.

And, on contract for more than 1 year? Allen Craig. And Brock Holt seems to be out of the mix?

This also seems to give credence to the rumors that Boston coaches and manager John Farrell didn't like Cespedes, who is a near-equivalent of Ramirez at the bat, a natural outfielder, a much better defender, and two years younger.

I mean, it looks like Cherington is just throwing crap at a wall to see what sticks. Usually, in such cases, it's crap that sticks. We'll see if this set of moves is any different in about 6-9 months, but I predict there will be crap sticking to a wall called the Green Monster.

Also speaking of crap, given how Cespedes has already been kicked, I can't wait to hear the anonymously sourced comments after he's traded. And, no, Sawks fans, he's not going to draw nearly as much in trade as you think. Officially being coronated a backup outfielder, plus that backbiting from last month, guarantees that.

Well, if nothing else, we will have a good laugh, and an ongoing debate about the worst Ramirez outfielder in Boston history.

My first take on the 2015 baseball #HOF ballot

The full ballot is here.

I think that Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez get in as first-timers. I also think Craig Biggio scrambles over the top.

I think that Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza go into a holding pattern.  I think Mike Mussina makes a strong surge forward, to around 35 percent. Tim Raines breaks 50 percent.

I do NOT see John Smoltz getting in, in his first year, and I don't get people who make that prediction. Smoltz is Curt Schilling, on both counting stats and sabermetrics, other than a couple of 40-save seasons as a closer, and without the benefit of the bloody sock or earlier 2001 WS heroics. I'd be surprised if Smoltz breaks 40 percent. I'd be hugely surprised if he breaks 50 percent.

I see Don Mattingly, Sammy Sosa, Larry Walker and Mark McGwire all losing ballot eligibility. No big loss, not even on the last two, and I say this as a Cards fan.

Schilling's an interesting one himself.

Does he make a surge of sympathy with his cancer recovery, and admitting its cause, and some other turmoil in his life, is his fault? Or does he get a smackdown for his ...

Un-evolved stupidity? Stand by.

Leading the more "enhanced" first-year eligibles, Gary Sheffield gets about 15 percent.

Go here for my take on getting 10 legit, non-roiding players in this year.