Sunday, May 29, 2005

European Contempt for Democracy
So, a couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the "president" of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion:

"If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again," "President" Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don't worry, if you don't, we'll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right. Even America's bossiest nanny-state Democrats don't usually express their contempt for the will of the people quite so crudely.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Freakonomics and Abortion

The current bestseller, Freakonomics, argues that abortions have led to less crime. Those who have chosen abortion are more likely to have at-risk kids, who are more prone to crime.

Now, many pro-lifers bristle at this. Something very bad (abortion) causes something good (less crime). Well, it also causes Social Security to be insolvent. I would say "relax." Let the data speak for itself.

I had a similar reaction by some to my undergraduate honors thesis. I argued that Roe v. Wade was based on poor legal reasoning and that up to that time there was no legal right to abortion?" Look, just because there is no legal right to something doesn't make the thing right/wrong.

People, on both sides, have a hard time making these distinctions and understanding these distinctions when found in an argument.

Totalitarian governments provide the best model for stopping crime. Am I advocating totalitarian governments?

Nice Article on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library


Incredibly valuable resource. Works of early church fathers, commentaries of Calvin, etc., etc., etc.

Very good resource for those who like to learn from past giants.

One Non-Religious Person's View of Stem Cell Research
It is easy to ignore the nature of what are referred to as mere "clumps of cells" or "blastocysts." But all of us are clumps of cells, and all of us were once tiny blastocysts -- separate and unique human beings at the earliest stage of life. The research endorsed by the House means ending the lives of some human beings. Why do we blind ourselves to that irreducible fact? Because we fervently hope to gain something from it -- in this case, the chance of longer or better lives for ourselves. Few of us would indulge scientists who proposed to dismember an actual baby, even if doing so were guaranteed to save lives. But we find ways to excuse the dismemberment of embryos that need only nine months to become babies. Convenience trumps conscience.

Chuck Colson Notes Biological Tensions Within Gay Gene Proponents
Someone else who couldn’t wait to herald the study as a breakthrough is Steven Pinker of Harvard. Pinker is the author of The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Like Time, Pinker begins in a major New York Times op-ed by noting that the differences in brain response don’t “prove that homosexuality is innate,” but he ends by invoking those scary religious types. Along the way, he acknowledges the obvious: “Any genetic tendency to avoid heterosexual opportunities should have been selected out long ago.”

Of course—any gene that led men to prefer men as sexual partners would have led to the extinction of its carriers. In Darwinist terms, homosexuality is “evolutionarily maladaptive.” Given this tension between evolutionary biology and the requirements of political correctness, Pinker is forced to speculate about what, if anything, could reconcile the two.

So he repeats the word perhaps over and over, and then he skates around the question of Darwinism and morality—a minefield, by the way, for Darwinists—and then, of all things, suggests a possible evolutionary cause for “homophobia.” If you’re confused, you’re not the only one. Pinker’s floundering is what happens when you are trying to please two equally jealous gods.

Ironically, such a conundrum isn’t necessary. Neuroscientists have long known that the connection between the brain and human behavior is a two-way street. The patterns observed in the in hypothalamuses of gay men are just as likely to be an effect of their sexuality as a cause of it.

Now, both the Times and Time noted this—and yet they couldn’t resist running with the “gay gene” angle. Likewise, they know that a genetic predisposition, if one exists, to behave a certain way isn’t a moral license.

Captain's Quarters Notices Saddam-Al Queda Confirmation

Friday, May 27, 2005

Why Wasn't the Bolton Delay Called a Filibuster?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Walter Williams Not Worried About a Trade Deficit
I buy more from my grocer than he buys from me, and I bet it's the same with you and your grocer. That means we have a trade deficit with our grocers. Does our perpetual grocer trade deficit portend doom? If we heeded some pundits and politicians who are talking about our national trade deficit, we might think so.

Interesting Article on Sparkling Red Wines

Most of the good ones are from Australia apparently.

San Francisco Chronicle Gives Overview of India Pale Ales

This style can be very bitter, but, as I can attest, your pallate can adjust over time. Once that happens, hops can impart a lot of other wonderful flavors. This plant also has a calming influence.
To slake the thirst of British troops and colonists in India, in the 1790s George Hodgson created a beer so strong that it survived the three- to five-month ocean journey from London to Bombay and Calcutta.

Unlike the typical sweetish, malty British ales of the time, Hodgson's brew was protected from spoilage by its high-alcohol content and resins from the abundance of hops used in the brewing process.

Today this style of beer, called India Pale Ale (IPA), is winning fans for its fruity, hoppy and pleasantly bitter taste. The significant alcohol levels are balanced by the bitterness and a malt character that is more subdued than many non-India pale ales.

Contemporary American IPAs are crisp and refreshing, yet more complex than most ales and lagers -- ideal for late-spring drinking, when temperatures head upward yet haven't reached searing. One of the finest examples of American IPA is Bear Republic Brewing Co.'s Racer 5, made in Healdsburg by the Norgrove family.

Terry Mattingly Covers The Moral Confusion of George Lucas
Yet in the climactic scene of the new "Revenge of the Sith," the evil Darth Vader warns his former master: "If you're not with me, you're my enemy."

Obi-Wan Kenobi replies, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

Say what? If that is true, how did Lucas decide it was wrong for Solo to gun down a bounty hunter? Isn't that a moral absolute? If so, why are absolutes absolutely wrong in the saga's latest film? Good questions, according to Staub.

While we're at it, the Jedi knights keep saying they must resist the "dark side" of the mysterious, deistic Force. But they also yearn for a "chosen one" who will "bring balance" to the Force, a balance between good and evil.

"There is this amazing internal inconsistency in Lucas that shows how much conflict there is between the Eastern religious beliefs that he wants to embrace and all those Judeo-Christian beliefs that he grew up with," said Staub, author of a book for young people entitled "Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters."

"I mean, you're supposed balance the light and the dark? How does that work?"

The key is that Lucas - who calls himself a "Buddhist Methodist" - believes all kinds of things, even when the beliefs clash. This approach allows the digital visionary to take chunks of the world's major religions and swirl them in the blender of his imagination. Thus, the Force contains elements of Judaism, Christianity, Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and even Islam.

None of this is surprising. Lucas merely echoes the beliefs of many artists in his generation and those who have followed. But the czar of "Star Wars" also has helped shape the imaginations of millions of spiritual consumers. His fun, non-judgmental faith was a big hit at the mall.

If This Doesn't Violate the 1st Amendment I Don't Know What Does
An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

As you may be able to guess, I'm not pro-Wicca. Far from it. But how the heck can a judge do this? If there isn't much more to this case, I would be really surprised.

Memorial Day(ish) Assessment of the Phillies

Nothing shocking to say here.

The Phillies should end up the season somewhere around .500. A team that cannot put a sustained winning streak together will not get into the playoffs.

They also have to jump four teams to make the playoffs. Two of which are the Braves and the Marlins. Not happening.

You want the Phillies to be either in the playoff hunt legitimately or our of it by the trade deadline. You need to know whether you are buying or selling.

Unless they go on a 15-game winning streak sometime soon, I would plan on selling.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Thoughts on the Fillibuster Compromise

I have to agree with Hugh Hewitt:
I think it is far more accurate to say GOP activists --of all ideological stripes, including big-tent, Arlen Specter-supporting, party-first folks like me-- are furious because they know what the "deal" does to the NRSC and the effort to build a lasting majority. You can stray on Social Security and private accounts and be a good Republican. You can vote to keep ANWR closed and be a good Republican. You may favor abortion rights or same sex marriage rights (though not their imposition via court diktat), and you can even vote against any particular judicial nominee on sincere grounds, and be a good Republican.

But you can't sell out the Constitution. And you shouldn't sell out good people unfairly slimed by extremists of the left. The gang of seven did both. That's why folks are furious. It is wrong to characterize that as an ideological reaction. It is a principled reaction to an unprincipled maneuver.

And I think Penraker summed it up well too:
They all sound like statesmen this morning. But they are a Neville Chamberlain - kind of statesmen. They are putting off the squaring of accounts to a later date, holding up a piece of worthless paper, and hoping the trouble will go away. It won't.

I think it is fascinating what the Democrats have done. Using fillibusters and declaring originalists are "radicals" takes guts. And it relies on lack of historical knowledge. Pushing back against radical measures (the fillibuster) was declared radical. I have to hand it to them.

Those 7 Republican Senators put the health of the Republic and the Constitution behind the ability to back-slap other Senators.

I would also add that we should worry about those who can be convinced that a novel four-year-old procedure is an ancient Senate tradition. By 2006, they will have forgotten about all this, nor would they probably care.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Death by 'Due Process

Lino Graglia gives a good description of how judicial activism works. Basicly, take a clause or two in the Constitution and use it as a lever to accomplish everything you want.
Judge-made constitutional law is the product of judicial review--the power of judges to disallow policy choices made by other officials of government, supposedly on the ground that they are prohibited by the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson warned that judges, always eager to expand their own jurisdiction, would "twist and shape" the Constitution "as an artist shapes a ball of wax." This is exactly what has happened.

The Constitution is a very short document, easily printed on a dozen pages. The Framers wisely meant to preclude very few policy choices that legislators, at least as committed to American principles of government as judges, would have occasion to make.

The essential irrelevance of the Constitution to contemporary constitutional law should be clear enough from the fact that the great majority of Supreme Court rulings of unconstitutionality involve state, not federal, law; and nearly all of them purport to be based on a single constitutional provision, the 14th Amendment--in fact, on only four words in one sentence of the Amendment, "due process" and "equal protection." The 14th Amendment has to a large extent become a second constitution, replacing the original.

It does not require jurisprudential sophistication to realize that the justices do not decide controversial issues of social policy by studying those four words. No question of interpretation is involved in any of the court's controversial constitutional rulings, because there is nothing to interpret. The states did not lose the power to regulate abortion in 1973 in Roe v. Wade because Justice Harry Blackmun discovered in the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, the purported basis of the decision, something no one noticed before. The problem is that the Supreme Court justices have made the due process and equal protection clauses empty vessels into which they can pour any meaning. This converts the clauses into simple transferences of policy-making power from elected legislators to the justices, authorizing a court majority to remove any policy issue from the ordinary political process and assign it to themselves for decision. This fundamentally changes the system of government created by the Constitution.

As George Will said regarding Roe v. Wade: the fact that a baby has more or less rights at certain points because the human gestation period is evenly divisible by the number 3 shows Roe v. Wade is not based on sound legal reasoning.

The Problem With Pandering Populism

From Jonah Goldberg:
I just listened to some treacle from some woman -- and a bunch of callers -- on C-Span radio about how glorious the Senate compromise is. I don't have a problem with people supporting or opposing the deal based on the merits. But this line about how "now, the people's business can be done!" drives me nuts. This woman explained that while the bases of both parties wanted a showdown over filibusters, most people weren't paying attention, they're saying things like "Hey, I've got to get my kid to the doctor."

Maybe so, but is your kid going to get to the doctor any quicker because Pricilla Owen gets a up-or-down floor vote? Should the Senate really be catering to the demands of the people who aren't paying attention?

I hate this sort of cheap populism where people assume that whatever the Senate is doing now isn't the real priority. Well the whole point of prioritizing is that you can really only do one thing at a time. This was the moment for judges. And, frankly, I have no idea when the doctor's office shuttle service comes up for a floor vote.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Spineless Republicans Cave on Judicial Fillibusters

Any Republican who voted for this will never become President.
The agreement said future nominees to the appeals court and Supreme Court should "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances," with each Democrat senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.

I would assume "extraordinary circumstances" means any judge who tries to interpret the Constitution correctly. Any judge who allows legislatures to legislate and wants judges to judge. Those radicals.

Hopefully not.

I'll be looking for more details.

Broke the Law Today

Coming back from work, I'm running low on gas and heading to a car dealership for routine maintenance.

I quickly pull into an Exxon station, put in my credit card, and pump a gallon of gasoline.

Then, it hits me. I'm in New Jersey!

The gas station attendant looks bewildered.

Bill Conlin Backs Moneyball, Wenonah, NJ Pitcher

I always pegged Bill Conlin to be anti-Moneyball, because Moneyball has a lot of information about how scouts are prone to group-think. I guess I was wrong. Not that Bill Conlin (or myself) are anti-scouting.
JOSH MONEYBALL is still at it. The Rowan University lefthander represents the creative scouting (and money-saving) opportunities Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane advanced in his controversial book on how to break the game's archaic mold shaped by stopwatch, height chart and radar gun.

Forget the "high ceiling" that has become the buzzword for so many organizations. Pay more attention to players who manage to produce and win with the tools they have right now. Draft winners. Holster the guns. Note how a pitcher who doesn't light it up with 95 mph heat still gets hitters out and wins with movement, location and, yes, the most underscouted attribute of all - heart.

Beane has proved low-payroll teams can contend with players who flunk Stopwatch and Radar Gun 101.
Last year, Schwartz went 13-0 for Rowan with a pristine 1.50 ERA. He walked just 21 in 107 2/3 innings with 101 strikeouts. His final victory - and defining
career moment - came in the Division III World Series. He was matched against Wisconsin-Whitewater's 6-5, 235-pound Division III Player of the Year, Brady Endl. Moneyball went nine innings, struck out 10, scattered eight hits. Rowan knocked out Endl in the seventh and won, 8-2. The Profs were eliminated before Schwartz' next start, but surely his phone would ring on draft day.

I sat at the computer watching round-by-round. The Braves made Brady Endl the final pick of the 10th round. A day later, more than 1,000 players had been drafted. None was named Josh Schwartz.

Phillies minor league honcho Mike Arbuckle said his area bird dogs and scout had seen Schwartz pitch, but he was "short" of the organization's standards for a lefthanded college pitcher.

Quite apparently, baseball's other 29 scouting staffs made the same determination.

In the crapshoot, which is the MLB draft, he seems worth a 10th round pick.

Lew Bryson Reports on His Trip to the Czech Republic

Original Budweiser, from Budweis.

But, best of all, they treat drinkers like grown-ups over there.
This whole "cheap beer, no drunks" thing pretty much knocks the neo-prohibitionist's precious idea of raising taxes to stop underage drinking into a cocked hat, but again, that's not really what I wanted to talk about. What I want to talk about is how the Czechs absolutely, no doubts, more-so than even the Germans, get it. This is a beer culture in that beer has totally permeated the culture. It's not about variety, God knows. The Czechs are almost as single-minded about beer as the Irish used to be. There's the light lager, which comes in 10° and 12° strengths, and there's dark lager. And that's just about it. There are some very small breweries making other beers, and some of them are delicious, but the aforementioned three beer types are probably 98.5% of the beer consumed in the Republic, and not much of that is dark lager.

Okay, so it's not the variety we beer punks would like to see. But it's accepted, without a second thought. I don't know how many times I've said it about booze laws, about American attitudes about beer and drinking: I just want to be treated like an adult. Treat me like an adult and I'll act like one. That's an old, old idea, after all: familiar with the expression "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? There are not a bunch of silly, restrictive laws in the Republic, there was not a bunch of anti-alcohol propaganda and nanny-state "alcohol units" horsecrap, and people handled their own lives quite well, while still drinking a lot of their excellent lager beer. It was, notably, the people who came into the country from outside who were the drunks, the people from the nanny-states! What the heck does that say?

It says to me that the booze laws that work best are those that restrict least. The only real booze laws in the Republic are about quality standards for the brewers and servers, and very strict drunk driving laws. Otherwise...not much being said. Oh, how refreshing.

It also says to me that in the absence of that kind of attitude, the brewers can act like adults too, and be proud of their products, a pride that in turn engenders pride in the people who drink them. Czechs are proud of their beer, and rightly so. It's not only good, it has a great world-wide reputation and is a strong source of export earnings for the country.

Jonah Goldberg Gives a Very Balanced Assessment of the Newsweek Mess

He also has one of the best lines of the year: "Look, birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and jihadi nutbags have to riot."

Ann Coulter Examines Stories Newsweek Has Sat On

Rhetorically, she is often over-the-top. But she makes her points well. You have to give Ms. Coulter that.
When ace reporter Michael Isikoff had the scoop of the decade, a thoroughly sourced story about the president of the United States having an affair with an intern and then pressuring her to lie about it under oath, Newsweek decided not to run the story. Matt Drudge scooped Newsweek, followed by The Washington Post.

When Isikoff had a detailed account of Kathleen Willey's nasty sexual encounter with the president in the Oval Office, backed up with eyewitness and documentary evidence, Newsweek decided not to run it. Again, Matt Drudge got the story.

When Isikoff was the first with detailed reporting on Paula Jones' accusations against a sitting president, Isikoff's then-employer The Washington Post -- which owns Newsweek -- decided not to run it. The American Spectator got the story, followed by the Los Angeles Times.
Somehow Newsweek missed the story a few weeks ago about Saudi Arabia arresting 40 Christians for "trying to spread their poisonous religious beliefs." But give the American media a story about American interrogators defacing the Quran, and journalists are so appalled there's no time for fact-checking -- before they dash off to see the latest exhibition of "Piss Christ."

Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas justified Newsweek's decision to run the incendiary anti-U.S. story about the Quran, saying that "similar reports from released detainees" had already run in the foreign press -- "and in the Arab news agency al-Jazeera."

Is there an adult on the editorial board of Newsweek? Al-Jazeera also broadcast a TV miniseries last year based on the "Protocols of the Elders Of Zion." (I didn't see it, but I hear James Brolin was great!) Al-Jazeera has run programs on the intriguing question, "Is Zionism worse than Nazism?" (Take a wild guess where the consensus was on this one.) It runs viewer comments about Jews being descended from pigs and apes. How about that for a Newsweek cover story, Evan? You're covered -- al-Jazeera has already run similar reports!

Charles Krauthammer Clears Up Judicial Fillibuster Arguments
Four years ago this week, President Bush nominated Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen to the federal bench. Four years later, she and six other circuit court nominees remain unconfirmed and unvoted upon because of Democratic filibusters.

This technique is defended by Democrats as traditional and rooted in history. What a fraud. The only example that comes close is Lyndon Johnson's nomination in 1968 of (sitting) Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas to be chief justice. But this case is muddied by the fact that (a) Fortas was subject to conflict of interest and financial impropriety allegations, (b) he did not appear to have the votes anyway, and (c) the case involved elevation on the court, not appointment to the court.

Even if we concede Fortas, that is one successful filibuster, 37 years ago, in two centuries of American history. In 2000, a small number of Republicans tried to filibuster two Clinton judicial nominees, but were defeated in that attempt not only by Democrats, but by Republicans voting roughly 3-1 for cloture.

Krauthammer postulates on Democratic motivations and then continues.
Democrats are calling Frist's maneuver an assault on the very essence of the Senate, a body distinguished by its insistence on tradition, custom and unwritten rules.

This claim is a comical inversion of the facts. One of the great traditions, customs and unwritten rules of the Senate is that you do not filibuster judicial nominees. You certainly do not filibuster judicial nominees who would otherwise win an up-or-down vote. And you surely do not filibuster judicial nominees in a systematic campaign to deny a president and a majority of the Senate their choice of judges. That is historically unprecedented.

The Democrats have unilaterally shattered one of the longest running traditions in parliamentary history worldwide. They are not to be rewarded with a deal. They must either stop or be stopped by a simple change of Senate procedure that would do nothing more than take a 200-year-old unwritten rule and make it written.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Thoughts on 20/20's Special on the Resurrection

First the good:

20/20 should be commended for doing this special, and not around Easter. Maybe it was for Sweeps, but I appreciate the timing.

ABC also included three major groups. The theolgoical conservatives, the theological liberals, and non-believers. The conservatives they included were not lightweights. William Lane Craig, Paul Maier and Lee Strobel know what they are talking about.

20/20 started with the details of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Then, they detailed the fact that the tomb was empty. Both the opponents of Christianity and the disciples believed the tomb was empty, so that was never in doubt.

Then, they mention that previously disspirited disciples believed Jesus rose from the dead and were willing to die for that message. What could cause this transformation?

Conservatives then detail what they felt happened that Sunday morning. Namely, Jesus physically was raised from the dead.

Non-believers try to chalk it up to mass-hallucination, but that isn't plausible. (I detail reasons why in my Resurrection article if you're interested.)

Theological liberals chalk it up to a spiritual resurrection.

The bad:

There are good responses to the theological liberals, but 20/20 left it there. I would argue the following things.

1) Neither the mass-hallucinators nor the spiritual resurrectionists (is that a word?) have explained what happened to the Empty Tomb. Where did the body go? If someone stole a body, why would they do that? The opponents of Christianity had no motive to steal it and not produce it. We've already seen that the disciples were willing to die for the belief, so they are shown to be honest if not misguided. Would a third party have stolen the body? For what reason? Jesus had no earthly possessions in his tomb to speak of.

2) The descriptions in the gospels are all of a physical resurrection. How would they not know the difference? Did they just lie when they give physical details?

3) Read I Corinthinians 15. One of the theological liberals wanted to rely on Paul because his writings are very early (the gospels aren't dated as late as everyone thinks, but I'm game). She tried to read Paul in such a way which made the Resurrection sound spiritual only, not bodily. What does Paul say when speaking of the Ressurrection? In the same passage the theological liberal references, Paul says that if Jesus isn't physically raised from the dead we're still in our sins. We're false witnesses to God. We are to more pittied than any other people.

4) Why do people think ancient people were just out and out stupid? Actually read the gospels. Doubting Thomas. Peter and the other disciples have disbelief. The people on the road to Emmaeus.

The last bad thing in the 20/20 report was how it ended. It may be spiritual or may be physical, but what is really important is how it makes all these believers happy. It gives them hope.


If Jesus hasn't been raised from the dead, I'm still in my sins. But at least I still get the warm fuzzies.

If I find any good comments on this special, I will post them to my blog.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Ichiro's Approach to Hitting

The man gets a ton of hits and makes a lot of contact. He also takes a ton of pitches. On the downside, he doesn't draw a lot of walks. But given his approach to hitting and his ability to foul pitches he doesn't like off, I'm not sure if this is a bad thing given his abilities. You also don't want to mess with a batter's philosophy that is working. His current BA is .335 and his OBP is .389. Not bad for either number.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New Star Wars Film Is Awesome

Just came back from an advanced screening of Revenge of the Sith. Great and enjoyable flick. Except for Empire Strikes Back it may be the best of the series.

Yoda is great as normal. Samuel Jackson's Mace Windu showed he is the man. I have two slight critiques. Highlight to read if you don't mind spoilers:

1) One problem is that Anakin's fall into the dark side has to be extremely fast. Maybe a little too fast. But maybe it is appropriate. Darth Vader isn't 100% bad right away. And that may be appropriate because by the time Return of the Jedi comes around he isn't all bad either. He's trapped in a Faustian bargain.

2) After Vader gets his suit/life-support system, he becomes enranged and breaks forth from his operating table. He starts to walk awkwardly. It 100% reminds me of Frankenstein. So much so, I think it may be intentional. It looks weird, b/c it reminds me of that monster movie. And it is weird listening to James Earl Jones' voice speak in ways Anakin spoke previously in the movie.

The last thing that I would point out is that Palpatine spoke in ways which are very, very similar to theological liberals. More on that when I get actual portions of the screenplay.

20/20 Examining Evidence for the Resurrection

Bravo for ABC News. I can tell you ahead of time what the main objections to the Resurrection will be.

1) The apostles were hallucinating.

2) Miracles can't happen because miracles can't happen.

You can read my examination of the evidence for the Resurrection here. I interacted with every major line of attack on the case for the Resurrection, including the two I mentioned above.

Update on David Bell's Defensive Stats

David Bell is falling. He is now ranked 8th overall in defense by Zone Rating.

For those of you who don't believe in Zone Rating, notice that A-Rod is dead last. Makes sense to me.

Poor Mike Lieberthal

Mike Lieberthal, the catcher for the Phillies, used to be good. Now, he is stealing money. That's the background.

Here's the column that will drive any Phillies fan crazy.
They weren't. While Lieberthal does try to maintain his sense of humor in the face of fire, there is nothing cavalier about his approach to the game he was raised to play. (We've told the story before about his mother feeding the pitching machine, taking a line drive in the eye and getting right back in there the next day.)

His personal struggles tear him up inside, eclipsed only by the team's struggles.

Maybe he consoles himself with his $7.5 million.
"This isn't a happy day unless we win," Lieberthal said before the Phillies did just that, beating the Cardinals, 7-5. "I've never looked at money as a priority. The chance to play good and win is all that matters to me."

I call your bluff. Give half your money back to the Phillies.
Lieberthal has become the player fans take the most glee in booing. He gave them plenty of fodder by hitting a major-league low .142 with runners in scoring position last season. He entered last night hitting just .232 overall and .111 with runners in scoring position. He had just seven RBIs.

Some fans see those declining numbers and cringe that Lieberthal, an all-star in 1999 and 2000, will be their catcher again next season. (Trading that contract won't be easy.)

"I sense the fans don't want me, that they feel like they need a change," Lieberthal said. "Obviously knowing I'll be back next year probably doesn't make them happy."

If fans aren't cringing, they're booing.

Last year against Houston, Lieberthal came up to bat in a critical situation with runners in scoring position. The whole crowd collectively got tense, because Lieberthal was up to bat. That "with runners in scoring position" stat is usually not valid. That isn't the case with Lieberthal. He got hit by a pitch, and the crowd erupted in happiness and relief.
"The last couple of years it seemed like I was booed for bad performance," Lieberthal said with a laugh. "Now they just don't like me.

"The runners in scoring position... the losing. I've been here the longest, so maybe the fans identify with me more.

"No one likes to get booed, but I understand it. I've talked to Mike Schmidt about it. It doesn't matter what you've done in the past. It matters what you're doing now. He was a Hall of Famer and he got booed, so I have to keep it in perspective. At the same time, you hope it will turn around."

I booed Mike Schmidt during once during one of his slumps. I feel very bad about it. But please don't compare yourself to the greatest Phillie ever. He had the good sense to retire instead of embarassing himself. Lieberthal feels no such compulsion.
The Phillies signed Lieberthal to a three-year contract extension in August 2002. The deal included an option for a fourth year, should Lieberthal prove his health by getting 1,200 plate appearances from 2003 to 2005.

What was Lieberthal supposed to do, turn down the option?

"I didn't put a gun to them," he said.

Good point. Ed Wade signing him to a long-term contract at this stage of his career was an incredibly bad idea, which is dragging the team down.
Lieberthal has been healthy enough to play, but the truth is he's probably not healthy enough to produce like he did several years ago. Many regular catchers begin to decline around age 33. A major injury, like the one Lieberthal suffered to his right knee in 2001, can hasten a decline.

Lieberthal had two solid seasons after the knee injury, but the knee has never been the same. Now, it's creakier than ever. He plays with constant pain and weakness in the knee, but seldom talks about it for fear it will be translated as an excuse. The pain and the weakness have affected his throwing and hitting because he pushes off his right leg in both activities.

Lieberthal doesn't expect fans to feel his pain, but after more than a decade in Philly, he feels your pain.

So the object of our venom should be the GM?

I have a P.R. plan for Lieberthal. Say the following: "I stink. I will continue to stink. I'm sorry. I'm doing it for the money. It's not my fault Phillies management was foolish to sign me. I have to look out for myself."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Kenyan Dog Saves Baby Left to Die
A baby girl rescued by a dog after being dumped in a Kenyan forest to die was offered homes across the world on Tuesday, with callers from as far away as Japan offering to care for the infant, dubbed Angel by nurses.
Catherine Gicheru, news editor of the Daily Nation, said her newspaper had been swamped by calls from would be adoptive parents in Japan, Venezuela and South Africa after carrying the story of the baby saved from a lonely death by a female dog.

"She was thrown away like garbage, so she has touched a lot of hearts. Everyone is looking at it like a miracle," Gicheru said.

The baby, estimated to be about two weeks old, was handed over to police by a family whose unnamed dog found her in a forest near Nairobi as she foraged for food for her puppies.

The dog carried the baby in her mouth across a busy road and set her down beside her puppies in the compound of the family's iron sheeted shack.

Only a Sith Thinks in Absolutes

The poor moral reasoning of Star Wars is actually quite amusing. I found this on the net yesterday:

Here is a good interview (in mp3 format) regarding the poor reasoning found in moral relativism.

Here is a great, old article from Terry Mattingly about the confusing moral advice given by Jedis.
No wonder Anakin Skywalker seems so confused.

Every time the Jedi apprentice turns around, a spiritual master tells him to trust his feelings, search his feelings or follow his feelings. Trouble is, the young super-warrior in "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" is a tornado of feelings. He feels love. He feels hate, ambition, desire, frustration, fear and fury.

Yet when he follows his heart, the Jedi tell him to set aside his desires and do his duty.

Well, do feelings trump duty or is it the other way around?

Dogfish Head Founder and Brewer Writes Business Book

The man is a true maverick, so this is probably worth a read.

Supreme Court Votes To Allow Out-of-State Alcohol Shipments

Good news for wine and beer lovers. However, it isn't quite this simple. And from a legal standpoint, it is a very interesting case.

Some states were banning out-of-state online purchases of wine, while allowing in-state purchases. This would normally be a clear violation of interstate commerce clauses in the Constitution. However, the 21st amendment, which repealed Prohibition, give broad leeway to states for controlling alcohol sales.

Does the 21st amendment give states leeway to override the commerce clauses?

I would note that Scalia voted with the more liberal members in deciding that the 21st amendment does not allow for this. Thomas wrote the dissenting opinion. Very interesting, and I plan on reading the decision.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Next GM

I can't find the post, but let me echo the comments of another blogger.

The next GM needs to be from outside the organization. One with a history of winning. One with a philosophy that can be followed.

Either Moneyball-esque or the scout-heavy focus of the Braves/Twins. Moneyball helps protect you from bad scouting, which would be the weak link in following the Braves/Twins.

I would want a combination of the two. Good scouting checked by statistics to find good prospects.

Do I Think Liberals Are Idiots?

For the record, no.

A valued reader sent me a quick note. He made a good point that one of the things he hates in political discourse is when people you disagree with are labeled as idiots, traitors, etc. I would also add having ulterior motives, etc.

For example, I don't think judicial activists are consciously trying to thwart the Constitution, with the exeption of the late Thurgood Marshall (he admitted as much).

Now, I referred to "idiotic liberal commentary" under the George Lucas post. I don't think George Lucas is an idiot. I do feel his comments are baseless, while his comments fall short of idiocy.

I'm overreacting to the same crap that my reader didn't care for. Bush isn't just wrong, he's trying to establish a fascist police state and concocted a war for political purposes. The first thing that pops into my mind is "idiotic."

Now, many on the right, including sometimes myself, were way out of line during the Clinton administration. To give another example, I will admit I thought Clinton attacked Iraq in order to get attention away from his pending impeachment vote.

Hopefully, during the next Democratic administration, we will put that behind us.

Petter Gammons and Jayson Stark

Peter Gammons:
OK, Jim Thome's back is bad, and that's another issue. But playing in the bandbox of Citizens Bank Park, how can this team be second-to-last in the National League in slugging percentage? How can they win with a leadoff hitter having a .282 on-base percentage?

It wasn't Larry Bowa's fault, so it can't be Charlie Manuel's fault either. And, thus, the only man left holding the evidence if this season doesn't turn around for the Phils is GM Eddie Wade; hence the Brian Cashman whispers have already started. This team has a $95 million payroll. Its farm system is so bad that as of Thursday their minor-league teams were a combined 48 games under .500. They produce Ryan Howard, keep him behind Thome and now have to deal with the knowledge that the Indians were seriously concerned about Thome's back holding up more than three years -- and this is the third year of the deal.

If the Phillies are out of contention at the All-Star break, what Wade does with free agents-to-be Billy Wagner and Placido Polanco may determine his future.

Not only is Jimmy Rollins bad for a leadoff hitter. He is 165 out of 183 players. That's just bad bad.

Jayson Stark:
Last year: Third in NL in runs (840), second in homers (215)
This year: 14th in runs (644 pace), 10th in homers (153 pace)

As recently as this spring – when we polled scouts, GMs, executives and players on which NL team had the best offense – the Phillies got a bunch of first-place votes. But after watching them invent new ways daily not to score, many of those same people are wondering what they were thinking.

True, Jim Thome has been hurt lately and was in a massive funk before that (.203 avg., .304 slugging, just one homer). But this team's problems run deeper than that.

"I don't see any spark," one scout said. "They just wait around to see if someone hits a three-run homer."

"They're an enigma," one front-office man said. "They should be better than they are."

"The names all look good on paper," another NL scout said. "But when have they ever really done it all together?"

Perhaps you can find a trend in these numbers: Through 36 games, the Phillies were hitting .254 with the bases empty, .238 with runners on base, .234 with men in scoring position and .211 with men in scoring position and two out. Ugly.

Looks like the gap between the batting average with men in scoring position and normal is widening. Three options about that: 1) It isn't statistically meaningful thus far. 23.4% vs. 25.4%? 2) The Phils aren't good under pressure. 3) There is something else I'm not taking into account.

George Lucas Draws Iraq-Star Wars Parallels
Star Wars is a wakeup call to Americans about the erosion of democratic freedoms under George W. Bush, George Lucas said yesterday.

Uh oh. Here we go. Can't enjoy a Star Wars film without idiotic liberal commentary.
Lucas, at a Cannes film festival press conference yesterday, said he first wrote the framework of Star Wars in 1971 when reacting to then-U.S. president Richard Nixon and the events of the Vietnam War. But the story still has relevance today, he said, and is part of a pattern he has noticed in history.

I know Nixon broke laws during Watergate, and he was rightly shown the door. But what exactly about Nixon and the Vietnam War inspired the despotic Empire in Star Wars? His refusal to look at voting fraud in Illinois? His trying not to sell out the South Vietnamese to a despotic, evil regime?
"I didn't think it was going to get quite this close," he said of the parallels between the Nixon era and the Bush presidency, which has been sacrificing freedoms in the interests of national security.

In hindsight, he should have patterned his portrayals based off the Communists we were fighting. But children of the 60s have a really hard time looking at the truth/mirror/insert anything that would cause guilt to well up.
Erosions of freedoms during wartime is a concern we should be on guard for. But I highly doubt Bush is secretly in charge of Al Queda. I know kooky leftists may feel differently.
"It is just one of those re-occuring things. I hope this doesn't come true in our country. Maybe the film will awaken people to the situation of how dangerous it is . . . The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we are doing now in Iraq are unbelievable."

In Vietnam, we were trying to prevent a despotic regime from enslaving millions of people. In Iraq, we freed millions of people. Somehow, I don't think that's the parallel George Lucas is trying to come up with. America was the bad guy in Vietnam for some reason that only makes sense to hippies.
In the latest film, the Palpatine character takes over as ruler of the universe with the co-operation of the other politicians.

"Because this is the back story (of the Star Wars saga), one of the main features of the back story was to tell how the Republic became the Empire," Lucas said.

"At the time I did that, it was during the Vietnam War and the Nixon era. The issue was: How does a democracy turn itself over to a dictator? Not how does a dictator take over, but how does a democracy and Senate give it away?"

Again, I'm not understanding how America in the Vietnam era inspired visions of a despotic Empire. There is an argument that we couldn't have won. But that's not what Lucas is saying here. Otherwise, Palpatine would just be waging a misguided war.
Lucas cited the Roman empire in the wake of Caesar's death, France after the revolution and Hitler's rise in Germany as historical examples of countries giving themselves over to dictators.

"They all seem to happen in the same way with the same issues: Threats from the outside; they need more control; and a democratic body not being able to function properly because everybody's squabbling."

Democracy is messy. And sometimes freedoms do need to be restricted because of threats. Now, if threats go away, Lucas has a very good point.

But Lucas seems to be buying into a bunch of Patriot Act paranoia.

I'm getting misty-eyed for the days for all the conspiracty stuff was on the right-side of the political spectrum.

Barney Frank and Hillary Clinton would like to thank all the kooky leftists for making them look centrist in comparison.

Newsweek Lies. People Die.

Philadelphia Inquirer Writer Nails Down School Budget Problems Perfectly

I've been a fan of Monica Yant Kinney's writings for a while now. I'm hoping some day soon they will promote her to be a featured editorial writer. I don't even care if she is liberal like their other writers. But I doubt she will get a well-deserved verbal beat down from Ann Coulter.
What most voters know, says the Oaklyn school board president, is that they are being taxed to death.

And of all the tax bills wreaking havoc with families' finances, school budgets offer voters the only chance to vent at the polls.

"We're the easiest target," he said. "The bull's-eye is on our backs."

Lehman is a retired teacher, but he is hardly spending his time in a relaxing endeavor.

The state and federal government keep mandating that school districts do more for kids, without providing more money to pay for it.

Bingo. Unfunded mandates. We're over-regulated by the government.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


PC(USA) Doesn't Want to Evangelize Committed Polytheists

The presbytery of Utah had the following to say regarding reaching out to Mormons. And, yes, Mormons are polytheists.
. Because the presbytery is in the shadow of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, members know that living in that shadow allows them to display their faith distinctively. The twin initiatives of new church development and church growth are aimed at reaching those in the community who have become agnostic in their faith or who have never displayed any faith at all. The presbytery hopes to reach out to the 50 percent of Utahans who have no church home or affiliation and to show them the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ. Many of the congregations of the presbytery have embraced contemporary worship and music. These are indeed the new songs that are being sung to the Lord, songs that will reach out to younger generations.

Reach out to those "who have no church home or affiliation and to show them the saving grace and love of Jesus Christ. But to those trapped in a polytheistic false religion, good luck! No gospel for you!

That may be a little harsh. I'm not sure how much gospel those unaffiliated Utahans will get in the PC(USA).

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Grizzled Veteran Shows Bill Conlin Up

Bill Conlin proposed a trade with the Yanks...for a player they already traded.

He also pointed out the error of another sports writer.

Who Is Lord of the Conscience?

There is pending legislation all over the country trying to force pharmacists to fill prescriptions they have moral objections to. Many don't think it is right a pharmacist should butt into the doctor-patient relationship in regards to a legal prescription.

But why do we want to force people to violate their own consciences?

Do we force lawyers to defend people they don't want to? No.

Just take your prescription to another pharmacist. And if the pharmacist is working for a larger company, talk to management.

The world doesn't revolve around you.

Harry Reid's Ethics Violation

Clearing Up WWII Revisionism

As the world commemorated the 60th anniversary of the end of the European Theater of World War II, revisionism was the norm. In the last few years, new books and articles have argued for a complete rethinking of the war. The only consistent theme in this various second-guessing was a diminution of the American contribution and suspicion of our very motives.

Indeed, most recent op-eds commemorating V-E day either blamed the United States for Hamburg or for the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, or for our supposed failure to credit the Russians for their sacrifices.

It is true that the Russians paid a horrendous price. Perhaps two out of every three soldiers of the Wehrmacht fell on the Eastern Front. We in the West must always remember that such a tragic sacrifice allowed Hitler to be defeated with far less American British, Canadian, and Australian dead.

That being said, the Anglo-Americans waged a global war well beyond the capability of the Soviet Union. They invaded North Africa, took Sicily, and landed in Italy, in addition to fighting a massive land war in central Europe. We had fewer casualties than did the Russians because we fought more wisely, were better equipped, and were not surprised to the same degree by a treacherous former ally that we had supplied.

The Soviets invaded the defeated Japanese only in the last days of the war; the Anglo-Americans alone took on two fronts simultaneously. Submarine warfare, attacking the Japanese and German surface fleets, conducting strategic bombing over Berlin and Tokyo, and sending tons of supplies to Allied forces — all this was beyond the capability of the Red Army. More important, Stalin had been an ally of Hitler until the Nazi invasion of 1941, and had unleashed the Red Army to destroy the freedom of Finland and to carve up Poland.

Do we ever read these days that when the Luftwaffe bombed Britain, Russia was sending the Nazis fuel and iron ore? When Germany invaded Russia, however, Britain sent food and supplies.

Yes, World War II started to free Eastern Europe from fascist totalitarianism, and ended up ensuring that it would be enslaved by Soviet totalitarianism. But Roosevelt and Churchill were faced with an inescapable reality in 1945 that to keep the Russians out of Eastern Europe they would have had to restart the war against their former ally that possessed it — a conflict that might well have gone nuclear in two or three years. The latter had been in great part armed and supplied for four years by their own taxpaying democratic citizenries. The Red Army was near home in Eastern Europe; the American 3rd Army was 5,000 miles from the United States.

No Good Dead Goes Unpunished

Bush nominated some Clinton folks to the bench in order to set a good tone.

That was a mistake.

NPR Does Beer Tasting

Michael Jackson (no, not that Michael Jackson) goes through some beers with the NPR folks.

The saddest beer phrase in the English language? "Coldest beer in town." Ice-cold beer is meant to dull the taste of beer which doesn't have much going for it. At higher temperatures (relatively), beer has more flavor.

Friday, May 13, 2005

"It's Called Playing the Percentages"

Phillies gripe of the day.

Charlie Manuel will not play Chase Utley against left-handed pitching. OK. I can see the point with easing Utley in, allowing him to gain confidence and experience.

But how about against meatball pitching left-hander Eric Milton? Nope.

I used to think a manager, no matter how bad, could only cost a team about 5 games in a season. Charlie Manuel is shaping up to be the exception to that rule.

Pro-Castro Democrats Behind Attacks on Bolton

I really love the message the Democrats and spineless Republicans are sending the rest of the world. "We need a wimp in the U.N." No, we need someone who will take butts and take names.

Phillies' GM, Ed Wade, May Be Gone Within the Month

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Good Example of Poor Reasoning in the PC(USA)
Event officials said illegal immigrants are often viewed, unfairly, as criminals.

This may be one of the saddest things I've ever read. How can those who make such a statement be expected to interpret Scripture correctly? They don't even understand the nonsense coming out of their own mouths.

The Methodological Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education
The compelling moral case for the result in Brown has muffled contemporary discussion of the serious defects in its methodology. The Left's current interest in Brown is in asserting that originalism — the traditional method of construing the provisions of the Constitution according to their original meaning — could not have produced Brown's mandate to end segregated schools and must therefore be regarded as illegitimate. As I discuss here, that assertion is wrong. But there has been much less scrutiny of the actual reasoning of Brown. This is unfortunate, for although Brown's bottom-line result is both morally sound and legally right, the methodology of Brown illustrates — and has spawned — two characteristic operational defects in non-originalist decision-making.

The first of these defects is that the Supreme Court's reasoning often is indeterminate and unworthy of being taken seriously as law. In Brown itself, are we to believe that the justices' thinking actually rested on modern psychological research like Clark's? Isn't it telling that the Court does not even attempt to explain the less-than-obvious connection between how a black child describes black and white dolls and the relative effect of integrated vs. segregated schools on that child's "feeling of inferiority"? What if research a few years later showed that integrated schools increased black children's "feeling of inferiority"? Are we to suppose that the Supreme Court might have overturned the decision in Brown? If so, should we respect a methodology that yields results that are so flimsy? And, if (as seems surely the case) differing social-science data would never result in the overturning of Brown, doesn't that show that the purported reasoning is entirely makeshift?

This defect in the Court's reasoning is perhaps most clearly manifested in the absurd postmodernist proclamation set forth in the 1992 Casey abortion case (and reiterated without embarrassment in the 2003 Lawrence decision inventing a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy) that "[a]t the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." What this infamous "mystery" passage really means, of course, is that five justices will consult their own whims and preferences to define for all Americans which legislated crimes will be magically transformed into constitutional rights.

The second, more subtle defect in Brown is the Supreme Court's disinclination to reexamine its own dubious precedents on the meaning of the Constitution. Contrary to the conventional understanding, the Court in Brown did not purport to overrule its infamous 1896 ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the "separate but equal" doctrine and allowed segregated streetcars. Rather, the question that the Court defined for itself was merely "whether Plessy v. Ferguson should be held inapplicable to public education." The Court's cursory and muddled discussion of its "inconclusive" "investigation" into the original understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment strongly suggests that that investigation was not undertaken with any rigor or vigor. And its resulting refusal to revisit Plessy left its decision resting on contestable and unconvincing social-science data rather than on firm constitutional principle.

Great and important essay.

Let me put it into my own simple words: Segregation was unconstitutional. Using social science to come to the decision in Brown was damaging.

Good Kidney News Day

The type of blood pressure medicine I'm on is good for kidney disease.

Also, further proof comes in that alcohol is a gift from God. Moderate alcohol consumption protects kidneys.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Constitutional Originalism and Brown v. Board of Education

Walter Williams Explains How Not To Be Poor
Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.

Defensive Analysis of the Phillies

Arranged by Zone Rating, which is the percentage of balls fielded by a player in his typical defensive "zone," as measured by STATS, Inc.

1B Thome .735 (dead freakin' last in the majors)
1B Ryan Howard 1.000
Comments: Not enough games for Howard for that to be meaningful.

2B Utley .806
2B Polanco .923
Neither has enough games to qualify for a ranking, but Polanco's rating is very good. Utley, not so good.

SS Rollins .828 (16th)
Comments: You should know how I feel about Rollins by now. But for the record...solid, not great. Please don't overpay to keep him.

3B Bell .847 (3rd)
Comments: 3rd! I need to figure out how the Range Factor stat also comes into play.

LF Burrell .880 (14th)
Comments: For someone who was moved to the outfield, middle of the pack is very good.

CF Michaels .873
CF Lofton .837
Comments: Not enough games to get a ranking for either of them. But Lofton's numbers would translate to bad. Michael's rating is decent.

RF Abreu .818 (23rd)
Comments: 3rd worst in the majors.

C Lieberthal CERA (Catcher's ERA) is 4.95, which is coming down. Still, 5th worst in majors or the 3rd worst in the NL.

Stats from ESPN.

Update: Citizen's Blog does a similar analysis with a different defensive stat, DER. That is the percentage of balls a player turns into outs. I respect his work very much, and I encourage you to look over his analysis. Esp. the May 10th post about how Thome and Bell may have gone off the cliff offensively due to age.

Phillies vs. Red Sox, My Anger Builds

So my good friend from college and I want to see the Phillies play the Red Sox. Apparently, the Phillies are forcing people to buy 7-game packages in order to see any of those games.

This upsets me more than their inept play.

I can get standing room only tickets the day of the game, but that is no way I can expect my friend to plan for that kind of uncertainty.

What Is a Check and Balance?

I've been posting more about baseball and Phillies instead of the judicial process lately. I assume this issue is of little interest to my readers. But true to my blog's name, I've been interested in jurisprudence at least since the time I wrote an undergraduate thesis on natural rights theories.

I've been noticing false assumptions in the current debate which must be clarified.

Most pundits, politicians, etc. assume the only check and balance on the judiciary is the President's ability to name justices and the Senate's role in advice and consent.

But doesn't this miss out on something huge? Checks and balances aren't just on people. They are on actions.

The President can veto legislative actions and Congress can override those vetos. You don't have to wait for a new Congress or President if there is an impasse.

Likewise, the Founders, as far as I can tell, intended for there to be a check and balance on the judicial branch. The judicial branch can order the other branches around as much as it wants, but the other two branches don't have to listen to the courts. It should be a balancing act.

Discerning the Politics of George Lucas

Apparently, all sorts of people are reading into the politics of George Lucas. The background is that Emperor Palpatine has his agents start a war so he can gain power, while most of the actors in this drama are unaware of his role until it is too late.

Lucas got the idea from studying history many years ago. Specifically, Caesar and Napoleon.

Now, if you think this is a veiled reference to Bush. You may be a liberal wacko who thinks Bush started 9/11 or the Iraq War for political/finanicial gain. Or you may think Lucas is a liberal wacko, which he may be.

But Lucas is correct that tyrants have used war to increase their power. When Bush steps down in January of 2009, I'm sure those really far out leftists will retract their previous slanders about President Bush. You know--the idiot who is a grand evil mastermind of world domination.
In wit, he points to the line, "If you are not with us, then you're my enemy," which Anakin (Hayden Christensen) says to Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor). "Once again, an artist has taken a line we know very well and slightly given it a new emphasis," says McDiarmid, noting that similar phrases have been said by tyrants such as former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

By the way, Obi-Wan's response to the line is: "Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes."

Did you ever notice that the Sith (the evil Jedi) don't lie? "Luke, I'm your father." vs. "Your father was a good man who was killed by Darth Vader."

Obi-Wan, are you saying that there are absolutely no absolutes? Besides lying, the Jedi don't mind contradictions either. Or maybe they have so twisted the truth, they don't think they are lying.

And you know what? From the context of the film, Anakin has a point. If weren't with the Nazis, you were their enemy.

And pacifists who were against attacking Germany were with the enemy as well, even if they didn't think they were.

Sometimes, life is unclear. But never rely on a Jedi for moral advice. That's one thing we should have learned by now.

Very Good Vanity Fair Article on Star Wars
"You learn that Darth Vader isn't this monster," Lucas says. "He's a pathetic individual who made a pact with the Devil and lost. And he's trapped. He's a sad, pathetic character, not an evil big monster. I mean, he's a monster in that he's turned to the Dark Side and he's serving a bad master and he's into power and he's lost a lot of his humanity. In that way, he's a monster, but beneath that, as Luke says in Return of the Jedi, early on, 'I know there's still good in you. There's good in you, I can sense it.' Only through the love of his children and the compassion of his children, who believe in him, even though he's a monster, does he redeem himself."

Joseph Campbell perceived the weakness of Darth Vader after he saw Return of the Jedi in a special screening Lucas hosted for him at Skywalker Ranch. As Campbell told Bill Moyers in the 1988 interview book The Power of Myth, "When the mask of Darth Vader is removed, you see an unformed man, one who has not developed as a human individual. What you see is a strange and pitiful sort of undifferentiated face…. He's a robot. He's a bureaucrat."

Bill Conlin Details Charlie Manuel's Managerial Foibles

Didn't read up on the double-switch over the off-season apparently.
• Cholly, Cholly... You've gotta walk Lyle Overbay...

• Botched or non-existent double moves - which by his own admission have been pretty much Greek to him.

• Vicente Padilla leading off a fifth inning against the Marlins that will absolutely be the last one, as a solid curtain of rain moves on the money pit with the Phils down by a run.

• Creative lineups, such as recent ones featuring Muscles Polanco batting No. 3 and Bluto Bell in the No. 5 hole ahead of suddenly overmatched Ryan Howard.

• Sunday's loss in Wrigley Field, wind howling out, ending in the top of the ninth with the club's best baserunner, Bobby Abreu, anchored at third as Howard pokes his fourth right-side grounder to first of the game. Derrek Lee touched first, then pivoted to look home and did a double take when he saw Abreu still loitering at third.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Behold, the Power of Competition: Prices Fall, Flights Increase at Philadelphia's Airport

Gammons on Steroids and Scoring a Man From Third Base

Peter Gammons is becoming the indispensible source regarding the baseball steroid scandals. He alerts us to a new resource coming out to clear up any confusion on the topic:
Our education has begun. "The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems" by Will Carroll has been released and explains much of the science of what so few of us really understand. Carroll, whose "Under the Knife" column on Baseball Prospectus is an industry standard, sifts through facts and myths and helps understand the layers of performance enhancements.

He mentions that users are taking drugs, some legal, to help them focus.

Gammons goes on to write about how players are losing the ability to get men in from scoring positions:
This is a rant about selfishness and a lack of concentration and a preference for arbitration over winning. It's about not scoring runners from third base with less than two outs.

"You've got agents whispering in players' ears about numbers," says Rangers manager Buck Showalter. "If a player comes up with a runner on third and one out and the infield's back, if he gives himself up and rolls a ground ball to second base, that's a negative at the arbitration table."

"Strikeouts have come to be the norm, an accepted norm," says Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Guys too often want to hit the home run and forget that that run can win a game."

"I wish every player would study tapes of David Eckstein in that situation," says A's GM Billy Beane. "He will foul off a dozen pitches until he finally gets something he can get to the outfield to get the run home. It drives me crazy. Our players have heard me on this subject."

Why? Because when the A's left for their six-game swing through New York and Boston, they had come up with 42 runners on third base with fewer than two outs ... and 12 had scored. Pathetic. Eight teams had scored less than half of runners in that position.

And, no, the Phillies aren't one of those teams. They have an average of .553.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Phillies Can't Score Runs

And waste a fine effort from Brett Myers.
All sorts of explanations have been offered for this lack of production. That Jim Thome played the first month with back problems resulting in just one home run and a trip to the disabled list. That catcher Mike Lieberthal (.227) and third baseman David Bell (.229) haven't contributed much offensively. That they've faced a lot of the league's best starters. That the inability to come through in the clutch that plagued them last season has carried over: They are batting .240 with runners in scoring position going into the three-game series at Milwaukee that starts tonight. That a team that set a club record with 215 home runs last season and returned virtually the same lineup has been outlongballed so far this season, 43-24.

The "runners in scoring position" stat is not very useful for the Phillies. Their team batting average is .245, the difference doesn't seem statistically significant at this point in the season. They just aren't hitting, period.

Rollins isn't doing well either:
What hasn't gotten much attention, though, is that leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins' on-base percentage is down to .285 after he ended last season at a respectable .348. And that part of the reason is, after walking six times in the first seven games, he's worked a base on balls just three times in the last 25 games.

The importance of Rollins, who has played every game this year, getting on base is accentuated by this: When he scores at least once, the Phillies are 9-5 (.643). When he doesn't, they're 5-13 (.277).

Maybe Lofton/Michaels should be in that slot instead. They have an OBP of .429 each.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Barry Bonds Legal Troubles Worrying Giants

Between steroids and tax evasion, he is in big, big trouble.

Sad But True Comments

From Hugh Hewitt.
Senator Reid on the Bush judicial nominees: "I think they're bad people. [California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown] wants to take us back to Civil War days."

Senator Schumer calls on Bush to demand restraint in rhetoric on judicial nominees.

For the record Janice Rogers Brown is African-American.

San Francisco Giants Interested in Tim Worrell?

If this is true, I would trade him in a cocaine heartbeat. And I would accept a tuna casserole in return.

Now, I hope he works out his problems. I don't wish personal ill on the man in his time of trouble. And for all I know, he may have a few good seasons left in him. But it isn't worth the risk.

New Star Wars Video Game Is Awesome

As a child, I always dreamed to of hacking stuff up with a lightsabre. If you were anything like me, but the new game post-haste.

Cabot Cheese Recommends Beer Pairing For Their Cheese

They were kind enough to send free cheese to the Heavyweight Brewing open house. While not the greatest cheddar I've ever had, for a cheese you will find in most supermarkets, it is very good.

They recommend an ESB with their extra sharp cheddar. Personally, I would recommend an IPA, but that would work well too, esp. for those who can't handle too much hops bitterness.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Student Suspended For Talking To Mother In Iraq

Weird Phillies Game Last Night

Anytime you win a game because the opposing team's closer bounces a ball off the runner, you can't help but be entertained. Good defense by the Phillies and bad defense by the Cubs was the difference in the game. Another solid outing by Lieber. Lieber and Myers are two bright spots so far this season.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Must-Read Phillies Article: Bill Conlin Rips Phillies and Paints Grim, Grim Picture

Bill Conlin tells us we are not making the playoffs:
But on May 5, Charlie Manuel celebrated the Battle of Pueblo with another mini-Alamo that left his crippled and vastly overrated Bliss Kids with a 12-17 record. Some quick math: To win the 90 games it will take to be in the wild-card hunt, the Phillies need to go 78-55 the rest of the way. Is there any way in hell or Fallujah a team that can't put a two-game winning streak together will be capable of that?

The franchise itself is in big trouble:
Pay attention, because you are not only watching the Ed Wade Era ending in a fog of paranoia and denial, but you are in on something that reaches far beyond that. You are watching the collapse of a franchise that has been struggling to get things right since the Bill Giles group bought the Phillies for $30 million from the bailing-out Carpenter family in 1981. Now it is 2005. Monty and The Teflonics are in debt to crippled .203 hitters for much more money than that. The current payroll is just under three times the cost they paid to acquire Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton and the fading heroes of 1980's lonely World Series title.

They are hemorrhaging attendance again and it will get worse - much worse - before it gets better. They are still in denial that they have become the most reviled professional sports team in this star-crossed town since the Sixers of Harold Katz. They blame the 24/7 yammer of WIP (610-AM) for their negative image and the venom of a few columnists for the perception they are unwanted and unloved. They blame everything and everybody but ignore the cheerless bench and almost zombielike demeanor of everybody not named Billy Wagner or Jimmy Rollins. At least Brett Myers has gone against the laid-back grain to prove he has some fire in his belly to go with his incandescent stuff.

Huge contracts will mire the Phillies in mediocrity:
I have to tell Dave Montgomery a harsh truth he should be aware of by now: Last place will no longer play here. It just won't do. And once this ballclub goes into the tank - it has the fourth-oldest roster in baseball - the huge contracts owed to Jim Thome, Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu, Mike Lieberthal, David Bell, Jon Lieber and Randy Wolf will suck the organization down like quicksand. Oh, and if they don't make Rollins the top-paid shortstop in baseball - or close to it - he will walk. A big season by Myers won't help the 2006 payroll, either.

As readers may know, I think Jimmy Rollins is solid, but very overrated in this city. We are so sorely lacking in good players who can make a difference, this overevaluation is understandable. Giving him a big contract would be unwise from a baseball standpoint. But it may be necessary from a P.R. standpoint.

Right before he finishes the article, Conlin twists the knife. Our minor league system offers no hope:
Lakewood, Clearwater and Reading are a combined 21-58 before yesterday. The 5-21 Clearwater Threshers are beyond pathetic.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Glen Macnow Rating Philly Burgers

The Standard Tap, which has all local micros, in the Northern Liberties district is prominently featured. I haven't gotten past their awesome Lamb sandwhich to try the burger.

Which Team Convinced Billy Beane of 'Moneyball' Truths?

Answer: the 1993 Phillies. In 1993, Billy Beane was watching the Phillies and became convinced of the merits of valuing OBP and wearing down pitchers.

I thought of the 1993 Phillies when I was reading Moneyball as well. 4 players, if memory serves, with over 100 walks.

While the article is worth the read, the author seems to miss the overall point of Moneyball. While there is a lot in there about using statistics to get a better picture of what's going on...and a lot about how group-think is endemic in the major leagues...

But what it is really about is trying to find out what the market undervalues. It changes how you look at baseball, but it is really an essential business book.

Nice NY Times Article On Yuengling

They are going for the plucky business does well in a depresed area angle.

They do hit on a point which is Yuengling's role in the greater beer world.
Yuengling likens the new generation of microbrewers to his own generation of regional brewers. ''We all knew one another,'' he said. ''Those guys were friendly with my father and my grandfather, and they all shared knowledge to some degree. But each one had its own flavor, and that's what was great. That's what these young guys are doing now.'' In principle he applauds the movement, but he acknowledges that he is in an unusual niche between those grassroots brewers and the huge producers. ''I had no choice; it was either expand or sell out.''

Yuengling is not the greatest beer in the world, but it is a very good beer made by a big brewery. Stradling the area between craft beer and BudMillerCoors, it leads people to better beer by being a better alternative to those big boys.

Many are content to stay with Yuengling, but if they do not move on to smaller and better beers there are much worse and less tasty beers to be stuck with.

I, along with many others, owe our love to craft beer to Yuengling. It taught us that beer can actually be enjoyed. It is a big reason why Philadelphia has a great craft beer scene.

And I enjoy the thought of a once-regional brewery giving Bud a run for its money.

Lieberthal's CERA Is Up To 5.20

This stat is a curious one. The ERA of the pitchers with one catcher seems useful. I'm only going to use it to compare starters and back-up catchers since they deal with the same pitching staff.

For the record, Todd Pratt has a CERA of 3.00.

Apparently Tim Worrell Is Degenerating A Year Earlier Than Expected

In light of the game-winning home run Tim Worrell gave up today, I thought it was a good time to look into his rapid decline.

Opposing batters are hitting .414 against him.

Frankly, if this is the year of his decline, we shouldn't expect these numbers to improve much.

A Note To Glen Macnow Listeners

I am an evangelical Presbyterian who likes beer (a lot) and I blog about various and sundry things. I blog about all sorts of things. I'm generally politically conservative with a libertarian streak.

Baseball-wise, I tend to be one of those 'Moneyball' types. But by that, I think statistics can be used as a tool to better understand the game. But some statistics are better and more meaningful than others. And enjoyment of the game should always come first.

Unpasteurized Cheese and the Nanny-State

The government, in an effort to save us from ourselves, has a lot of restrictions on cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Yes, it is more dangerous. And I hear the saftey record of these cheeses are not bad at all.

But if I know the risks, let me eat these French cheeses. I may want to take the slight risk in order to get the superb taste.

I would also like to note that those who eat these cheeses, except for the cruchy conservatives like me, are very much liberals. Live by the nanny-state, your cheese dies by the nanny-state.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Why The Yankees Are Stinking It Up

And how to fix them. Unfortunately, Luis Sojo may not be available.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Phillies Ex-Pitching Coach: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Joe Kerrigan was on WIP this morning. He was brutally honest.

Here's the good news: He thinks the light finally went on in Brett Myers' head and he will be a very good pitcher.

The bad: Randy Wolf has lost 3-4 mph off of his fastball this year. Todd Worrell is losing his stuff as of the end of the last year. Mr. Kerrigan no longer thinks he should be setup man, but should be a 6th or 7th inning guy instead.

The ugly: He did a 10 year analysis of all the Phillies pitchers before coming to the club a few years ago. He mentioned that the CERA for Lieberthal is not good (stat mentioned previously on this blog). Lieberthal does not do all the prep work needed on opposing batters in order to call a good game, and it was hard to get him into those good practices so late in his career.

Here's hoping Todd Pratt gets more work this season. We have 2 more seasons of Lieberthal after this season, and he no longer has the bat to compensate for his catching.

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Philly Inquirer Columnist Tries Hand at Judges Debate and Fails

Most of the columnists at the Philadelphia Inquirer seem well-meaning. Unfortunately, their in-house arguments tend to be incredibly weak. On the plus-side, their Sunday edition has a lot of money-saving coupons.

Chris Satullo, this past Sunday, tried his hand at talking about the judiciary. The results of his attempt are painful to read.
It would be funny - were the damage to the republic not so great. Congress has talked itself into a tight corner. The only way out is to stop playing spin-the-villain and start seeking the right goal: a balanced and independent judiciary.

Mr. Satullo is going to go on to define "balanced and independent". "Balance" will mean conservatives, liberals, and moderates on the judicial bench. "Independent" will mean that no checks and balances will be applied to judicial decisions.
Why not just vote up or down on the nominees and be done with it?
That sounds reasonable, but it's not. The yelling about rules and procedure obscures two key points:
First, the Republicans have changed the arcane rules of senatorial privilege that they exploited with gusto to block Bill Clinton's nominees. Messy filibuster is the main tool the Dems have left if they are to resist what George W. Bush and conservative activists are up to.

Ok, first thing's first. Clinton had a lot of last-minute appointments that the Republicans rightly bottled up. There were a lot of judges who died in committee, but Frist's proposal to change Senate rules would prevent that in the future.
Mr. Satullo seems to be unaware of this.
And that's Point Two: The activists' agenda became clear during the anguish of Terri Schiavo and her family. They don't want an independent judiciary if that means judges will occasionally tell them that the law and the Constitution do not say what they'd like them to say. To them, an "activist" judge is any judge who decides a case in a way they don't like.

This is where Mr. Satullo is trying to raise my blood pressure. He assumes things about my thinking and the thinking of other conservatives that he absolutely should not.

Not to rehash the Schiavo case, but was infuriating was that Congress' perfectly constitutional law to give federal courts a de novo review was declared unconstitutional. It was declared unconstitutional by the judge, not on the basis of any sound legal reasoning. It was declared unconstitutional because Congress had the temerity to give guidelines (under Article 3 their right) to the court and force the court to review it. Please note that Congress did not tell the federal court how to rule.
Like FDR before him, this president seeks a judiciary that will rubber-stamp his agenda. Bush is candid, give him that. He makes clear that he'd like to fill the federal bench with jurists like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He's drawing nominees from a school of legal thought that considers much of what the courts and Congress have done in the last century to regulate business, protect workers and the environment, pursue social goals, and expand civil rights to be wrong, i.e. unconstitutional.
Claiming to hate "judicial activism," these legal scholars itch to take a wrecking ball to decades of legal precedent and lawmaking.

At this point in the article, it becomes apparent that either Mr. Satullo is not in dialogue with anyone he opposes on this issue or he is not listening.

What we want is for legislating to be left to legislatures. What a radical idea!
What "courts have done to regulate business, etc."? That's not their job. Their job is to take the law and interpret it.
Scalia has consistently said if you want something, pass a law. It is hard to get through Mr. Sartullo's muddled thinking to know exactly what he means by "unconstitutional." But I assume he is referring to race-based policies our government has. Judicially, the main problem conservatives would have with that is the 14th amendment. But Mr. Sartullo seems oblivious to any nuanced legal arguments we may have.

We just think they are judicial activists because we disagree with them. Not because they are ignoring the Constitution and avoiding the legislature.
Congressional Democrats haven't done much useful for the nation lately, but if they can thwart this radical (in the truest sense of the word) takeover of the courts, that would do the republic a service.
I could talk a lot about how this high-test version of "strict constructionism" shares many habits of mind with the Christian fundamentalism with which it has lately made common cause.

If Mr. Sartullo means that Christian fundamentalists think the Bible should be interpreted according to the rules grammar and historical background (what words meant when they were written) instead of bringing outside ideas to change the meaning of Scripture and strict constructionists don't think the Constitution can mean anything you want, he actually he has a good insight. But somehow I think the invocation of "Christian fundamentalists" is an attempt to poison the well. How many of his readers are associating this with the "radical idea" aren't alive and actually mean something according to what the authors intended?
But I won't. Instead, I think I have a useful suggestion, one that could get the partisans of Capitol Hill out of the ugly box they've made for themselves.
Here's my moderate proposal:
Step 1. Everyone, be honest: You really do care about what judges believe, and you judge them on that basis. It's OK. We all do. Let's just admit it and drop any remaining pretense that debates over nominees are supposed to be only about their character and credentials. That pretense has created a vicious cycle of character assassination and payback, with nominees as victims. Let's stop it.

That's actually a good idea. I'm trying to think of all the times conservatives have used character assassination against judicial nominees in the last 30 years. I'm coming up with the following number: 0.
Step 2. Instead, let's accept that this is a big, diverse nation and everyone within its mainstream deserves to have their thinking represented on the federal bench. The value of balance is the secret lesson of the Rehnquist court. Despite all the moments it has made you wince, this really has been an OK court, unpredictable and independent. Its strength? It has a couple of members on the right, a couple on the left, and a core of swing voters whom those on the margins must persuade. This stirs intellectual juices, demands compromise, and nudges the court to decide cases carefully on the facts.
In other words, every court should have a Scalia, a brilliant, pugnacious radical conservative view. Every court should have a dogged liberal like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But a court consisting entirely of Scalias, or entirely of Ginsburgs, would not be good.
If balance and independence joined intellect and integrity as the ruling principles for judging judges, that would change the questions asked about a nominee. No longer: Does he agree with me on Roe v. Wade? If not, what dirt can I whip up on him? Instead: For what court? Replacing whom? Would that keep that bench balanced, or push it out of whack?
If a nominee risks tilting a given court too far, you can reject her respectfully on that basis, without needing to paint her as evil.

This is why we have presidential elections. The time to decide what kind of judges you want is then. I assume that a Democratic president is going to nominate jurists who have little respect for the integrity of the text of the Constitution. If the election is lost, I'm willing to live with it.

But yes, let's have a bench made up of people who think the Constitution means something, people who will twist it every which way, and a third bunch which is judicially schizophrenic.
Right now, despite the reckless conservative attacks on the judiciary, the courts already tilt strongly that way. Republican appointees are in the majority, on 11 out of 13 circuit courts. Clearly, what the radicals want is to tip the courts totally their way.
The idea of a balanced court is, in a sense, a free-market vision of how courts should work. You'd think people who call themselves conservatives would favor that. Instead, they want a monopoly.

No, us reckless conservatives want to allow legislatures to legislate and we want our judges to respect the Constitution. We also want checks and balances on the decisions of the judiciary so they are accountable like the Founding Fathers intended. Checks and balances doesn't make the judiciary less than independent. Is the legislature independent from the judiciary and the executive even though laws can be declared unconstitutional or legislation be vetoed?

A word to the Philadelphia Inquirer: if you are interested in a columnist who can argue effectively and coherently, I'm willing to freelance. You need it. No offense to Mr. Sartullo, who is the Editorial Editor.

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