Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
There's an adage in baseball that goes like this: even a good team will lose 60 games, even a bad team will win 60 games, the final standings are determined by how you do in the remaining 42 games. Detroit's Memorial Day weekend showed just how true this "rule" is.
On Friday the Tigers scored 4 runs but had an uncharacteristic poor pitching performance from Galarraga. Put that one in the 60 games that even a good team would lose. The next night Tigers' bats went on a rampage and clubbed the Twins like baby seals. That 19-3 win goes in the list of 60 games even a poor team would win. Which brings us to Sunday. Staff ace Verlander pitched by far his best game of the year and left with a 1-1 tie. The bullpen, however, couldn't hold it and a game that has to be won falls into that list of 42 games that decide your season. But one game doesn't make a season so it was off to Anaheim for a Memorial Day game. The Ancient Gambler, Kenny Rogers, was masterful in a 7 inning shutout performance. The game went through 11 and a half scoreless innings until the Angels scored the lone run in the bottom of the 12th on a bases loaded walk. Another game goes straight to the list of 42.
Not every loss is the same. Those last two were games a successful team finds a way to win.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Next the greatest race day of the year moves to Indianapolis. This is the first Indy 500 since the unification of America's two open wheel racing leagues. I was a CART or Champ Car fan and hated the Indy Racing League from its formation. Open wheel racing was too fragile a sport to break into two groups, of course, and Champ Cars had the best drivers, best engineering and my favorite courses-- Laguna Seca and Long Beach. But IRL had the brickyard. That track in Indianapolis gave them the edge and over the years Penske defected, Ganassi moved over and Michael Andretti left Mario behind and built a powerful team at IRL. I felt like the guy still using Betamax telling everybody that my tapes were better than their VHS jokes. Time rolls along, everybody's gone digital, the Beta/VHS wars are a distant memory and now so is CART/Champ Car. So, today, it's done. Unification is here and the Indy 500 is back in our annual sports rituals. As much as I'd like to pick one of Chip Ganassi's favorites today I gotta go with Tony Kanaan in the #11 driving for Andretti-Green.
The last of the big three races today will be in our backyard at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. Tonight the guys who have fenders on their cars will be bangin' into each other for 600 miles.
I'll stay away from the massive favorite, Jr. in the 88 Amp car, and take Carl Edwards.
If the Indy500 and Coca-Cola 600 live up to the standards set in Monaco this morning it should be a great day of racing in America.
(pictured are Tony Kanaan and teammate Danica Patrick... above, local Indy color.)
UPDATE: If you watched the Indy 500 you know that my pick, Tony Kanaan, was leading comfortably when he was knocked out of the race by his teammate (and the son of the car owner) Marco Andretti. At the Charlotte race my pick Carl Edwards finished higher than he probably should have. With no chance of winning he gambled by not pitting for fuel in the final 12 laps. It looked like that strategy was going to get him a top 3 finish until his tank went dry on the final lap. All in it was a great day of motorsports across the globe.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
That's our guy Jimbo from the high school year book of 46 years ago. The following year he was playing minor league catcher in the Tigers' farm system. Some days it seems like yesterday that we were playing Little League ball against his brother, Larry.
And no, that's not the first time we've heard a fastball over the heart of the plate described that way.
UPDATE: Tigers win with 9 runs on 14 hits. The Gambler gets the victory. Dontrelle will work his way backinto the rotation from the bullpen rather than from Toledo. Are we rollin' or are we teasin'?
UPDATE2: Sweep! Another 9 runs; 30 runs in the 3 games since the lecture on accountability. Next up, Twins.
Fried shrimp on a bed of jasmine rice and a side of mango salad, all served on a styrofoam plate. Bottled water to wash it all down.
These trendy catering treats are unlikely to appear on the menu at parties sponsored by the Denver 2008 Host Committee during the Democratic National Convention this summer.
Fried foods are forbidden at the committee's 22 or so events, as is liquid served in individual plastic containers. Plates must be reusable, like china, recyclable or compostable. The food should be local, organic or both.
And caterers must provide foods in "at least three of the following five colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white," garnishes not included, according to a Request for Proposals, or RFP, distributed last week.
The shrimp-and-mango ensemble? All it's got is white, brown and orange, so it may not have the nutritional balance that generally comes from a multihued menu.
"Blue could be a challenge," joked Ed Janos, owner of Cook's Fresh Market in Denver. "All I can think of are blueberries."
...Nick Agro, the owner of Whirled Peas Catering in Commerce City. "We all want to source locally, but we're in Colorado. The growing season is short. It's dry here. And I question the feasibility of that."
Agro's biggest worry is price. Using organic and local products hikes the costs.
"There is going to be sticker shock when those bids start coming in," he says. "I'll cook anything, but I've had clients who have approached me about all-organic menus, and then they see the organic stuff pretty much doubles your price."
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
"When our country's in danger the president's job is not to take an international poll. The president's job is to defend America."
Monday, May 19, 2008
Now you might say, "Dart, y'all got squirrels all over your own property, why fly to the Hill Country to hunt squirrels?" Well, have you ever seen Texas squirrels? A picture is worth a thousand words...
Saturday, May 17, 2008
The big buzz in DC the past couple days has been about President Bush's wonderful speech to the Knesset in Israel. Unfortunately the buzz has not been about the speech itself but about this one section:
"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along.We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared, " 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
The junior US Senator from Illinois is such a narcissist he was certain this was about him. SanFran Nan Pelosi, Hair Plugs Biden and Lurch Kerry all thought the same thing and droned about how horrible it was. Hey, if the shoe fits, wear it. And take a long hike while you're at it. The only senator the President ever referred to in the speech was a Republican from Idaho, William Edgar Borah. Borah (his statue is pictured here) was Senator from 1907-40 and is most infamous for the quote about talking Hitler out of invading Poland. Borah was a "progressive" and a giant pain in the rump to the conservative Republicans of his day. He earned the nickname "The Great Opposer" in the US Senate because he was so contrary. Today Tim Russert, Don Imus and Chris Matthews would have him on their shows all the time and introduce him as, "the maverick Republican Senator from Idaho, a good friend of our program, William Borah." Sometimes Borah's allies in the Senate would be a group so small they'd be called "The Irreconcilables" -- sort of like the "Gang of 14." You get the picture. (Maybe McCain should have been the one bitching about President Bush using Borah in a speech. We kid because we love.)
We'll leave the summing up of "the Great Opposer" William Borah to one of the two great presidents of the 20th century, Calvin Coolidge. When told of Borah's love for horseback riding back in Idaho, silent Cal replied, “I wonder if it bothers Borah to be going in the same direction as his horse.”
Friday, May 16, 2008
I don't know how much blogging Fred will do, but he has been hired to write a monthly column for Townhall Magazine-- his blog is on Townhall.com. Senator Thompson has been in New York this week meeting with publishers, so a book is also forthcoming. All of this is actually just an excuse to say, again, "I miss Fred." And also an excuse to post a couple of the pictures we took when he came by to visit in January.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The phony baloney job Erskine Bowles gave him was, of course, just a way to keep Edwards visible as he prepared a 2008 run for the Dem nom. Hey, what a surprise, he ran. No surprise, he lost. Again. The fact that this oily lawyer who lost all but one time in his entire political career is endorsing the guy who already has a mortal lock on the nomination was apparently a big news event. Right.
Edwards did a riff on his idiotic "two Americas" populist theme-- that same theme that lost him election after election by the way. He said, "There is one man who knows in his heart that it is time to create one America, not two." That one man, I suppose, is not John Edwards but rather Barack Obama. Fine. A few months ago John was telling us he was the only man, now he says Obama is the only man and, after many weeks of decision, he decided Hillary couldn't be that only man who can create America, er, one America, um, or at least an America where little girls can afford a warm coat in winter. Okey dokey, Johnny. But, if that One America is governed by twerps like you two lawyers, you'll find an awful lot of us won't be going along quietly.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
But then Hillary! (TM) comes in, with the wisdom of Solomon-in-a-pantsuit, and says, "Suspend the tax but 'pay for it' by increasing taxes on domestic oil companies." You can tell someone who has held office too long when you hear them say that tax rate reductions need to be "paid for." That construction reveals that they believe it is the state's money to begin with. Unfortunately, most of them think that way the day they're sworn in-- certainly true in Obama and Hillary's case. McCain on the other hand took a few years to fit in with that mindset, but he's quite comfortable with it now.
So let's grade the plans: Obama gets a gentleman's C-, he got the correct answer but can't explain why. McCain gets his usual D in ECON. The tax rate reduction, if not permanent, will achieve nothing (like the current rebate checks) and will poison the well for real tax reform. Plus, it's a bald-faced pander. Hillary gets the F for obvious reasons. Clueless that Marx and Lenin are on the stinking dung heap of history, she is.
But here's the real howler when we look at our D and F students. While they are proposing this brief respite from the federal gasoline tax, both of these Warmists are proposing enormous increases to fuel costs in the very near future. In fact, the McCain/ Lieberman bill to "reduce greenhouse gas emissions" will add 26 cents/gallon by 2030 and 68 cents/ gallon by 2050. Those numbers, by the way, are in current dollars-- so they will go up with inflation-- way up. Will somebody please tell Green John and Green Joe that the Earth is currently in a cooling cycle. But that ain't all! Electricity rates will have additional federal add-ons of 22% initially and 25% eventually with McCain's legislation. When asked the "What if?" question, as in "What if 'global warming' is a hoax?" He replies that it doesn't matter 'cause the worst that could happen is that "we give a cleaner world to our children." Conservatives learned many years ago just how much liberal poison can be wrapped in the sweet candy of "for the children." John seems to consider trillions of dollars in worldwide economy-crushing regulation and taxation as "no biggee". I'm changing his grade. He gets an F just like Hill. Speaking of Hillary. Her beef with McCain/Lieberman is predictable: it doesn't go far enough and doesn't punish the energy industry with "windfall profits taxes." Because, you know, paying 40 something percent in taxes and fees is nothing.
Who knows, maybe John McCain's gas tax pander will help get him elected President. Maybe Obama will see his pander and raise him two more in October. One thing is certain no matter who is the next President: taxes and regulations will increase.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Which is why so many people who used to be called "Clinton haters" in the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" by the angry left have taken so much delight in watching a huge portion of the Democrat Party discover just how loathsome Bill and Hill really are. We knew it in 1992 and they figured it out in 2008. Dems always were slow on the uptake. Better late than never I suppose. I wonder how long it will take for them to figure out how empty a vessel Barry Obama is? Four years? Eight? More? We tried to warn them-- this won't end pretty either.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
That "get out, Hillary" stuff is easy for them to say. They don't have a warehouse full of HILLARY CLINTON NUTCRACKERS to unload. What am I supposed to do with 500 case lots of these flippin' things if Hillary bugs out, calls off the dogs, ankles the scene, slips away.....whatever? As Howie "Dizzy" Dean once pithily observed, "AAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"
Have a nice weekend. How about a Rudy'08 bumper sticker free with every Hillary Nutcracker purchase?
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Liu Kelli (pictured) is a successful businessman in Southeast China (Shanxi Province) where he runs plants that manufacture copper printing plates. In fact, Liu Kelli owns and runs about 100 manufacturing plants around the world employing 10,000 people. He wanted to get into the world's largest market, the United States, for the past couple years but didn't think that locating a business in the US could be profitable. Everyone knows it's cheaper to build things in China and send them to the US...right... right? Not so fast. He was persuaded to take a look at South Carolina by the Palmetto State's managing director for China trade, John Ling. He found the seven acres he needed in Spartanburg for a half million dollars. The same property in Shanxi Province would run him over $2 Million. His business requires lots of electricity though. What about that? Well, it turns out that power in Spartanburg is 75% cheaper than in China and has the added benefit of being 99.999% reliable-- no blackouts. (This is the same reason, by the way, that Google is building server farms in multiple Carolina locations-- reliable cheap power from Duke Power's nuclear and coal plants. We were pleasantly surprised moving from Gray Davis's brownouts in CA as well.) But the sticking point was labor costs. The state kicked in a $1,500/ year tax incentive per employee and the deal was done.
According to the LA Times, quoting Thomson Financial, China's overall investments in U.S. businesses rose to $9.8 billion in 2007, up from $36 million the year before. Meanwhile China's Ministry of Commerce reports that US investment in China was $2.6 billion last year, down from $3 billion in 2006. The LATimes article about Liu Keli is here.
While politicians continue to try to demonize free trade in this election year I'll just say, "Welcome to the neighborhood, Liu Keli. May your company expand a hundredfold in our beautiful state."
Capital flows where it's welcomed.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
After the 2006 mid-term elections our political parties and pundit class spent a great deal of time explaining what the vote meant. They didn't agree, of course. Democrats at that time tended to like the notion that the American public rose up and put them in charge of the House and Senate to "end the Iraq war." Time has proven that to be the lie it always was. If there was a winning constituency for that action Speaker Pelosi would have secured the de-funding of OIF. She hasn't because she and her advisers know that the political consequences of abandoning Iraq to the tender mercies of the terrorists would be a huge liability for Democrats in future elections.
In the 70's a Democrat controlled Congress de-funded aid to the South Vietnamese with a Republican, Gerald Ford, in the White House. The result was literally millions of Southeast Asians slaughtered by Communists, tens of thousands of others sent to re-education (AKA: detention) camps, and still others clinging to anything that floated to get away from the Reds. To this day Democrats see the exit from SouthEast Asia as something great and honorable. That's only because they don't know anyone personally whose skull ended up in a filthy pile in Cambodia's killing fields. They can't risk de-funding Iraq operations and having the next set of skulls piled closer to their door.
Republicans said the 2006 election was a referendum on scandal. In fact, the exact point where futures trading showed the R's losing the Congress was when the Mark Foley scandal was getting full play on TV screens and in the general press. They never recovered from that one-- it was the last brick in the stack. So, the Republicans may have a point although as a "lesson learned" I'm not sure it's very actionable. And in the intervening two years there have been many Democrat scandals and the press never seems to link them to a political party, quite unlike the way they published Dem press releases about "the culture of corruption" in the run-up to the '06 election. Being the party of "fewer, less icky scandals" isn't really a glorious banner on which to run and win.
My view then and now was a bit different than these two streams of thought. I think 2006 was evidence of a populist wave. This economic populism has only strengthened since. There is now much talk of protectionism, restrictions on free trade, taxing profitable companies with extra levies beyond the confiscatory ones already in place, taking money from one group of Americans to bail out others who took out loans they couldn't pay, or to buy them health insurance they can't or won't buy for themselves and on and on. It's not just a Dem thing-- on the Republican side we saw the improbable rise of Gov. Mike Huckabee whose only message outside of his cultural positions was pure Populism worthy of Huey Long. Even one of the most successful capitalists to run for President in history, Mitt Romney, when faced with needing a win in Michigan promised billions in US taxpayer money to bail out an industry nearly destroyed by unionism in a state struggling under the weight of preposterous levels of taxation.
Yes, I think the election in 2006 that saw raging, angry, populist clowns like Sherrod Brown make it into the US Senate from a state won by George W. Bush twice, was the start of a new wave-- hopefully a short one. And now my air tight proof: The Hillary Clinton campaign. Other than her Wellesley/ Ivy League Marxism, Hillary Clinton stands for nothing. The one thing she learned from her husband's political career was "DON'T LEAD, TAKE A POLL AND FOLLOW!" So when you see Hillary saying this to a crowd in Indiana, "Why don't we hold these Wall Street money-grubbers responsible for their role in this recession?" (her campaign later argued that she said, "money brokers"-- that's a lot better) you can be pretty sure that the populist message is poll-tested. Then she laid out this choice chunk of Boob-Bait to a crowd in Indiana: ... OPEC "can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world" to set the price of oil. She even promised to use US antitrust law to sue OPEC for price-fixing. The USA, although America's biggest supplier of crude oil, is not a member of OPEC but that won't stop Hillary from telling them how it's gonna be. Our second largest supplier, Canada Oh Canada, ain't in OPEC either, by the way. I wrote about this particular bit of petrophobic hysteria earlier. On the trade front she's even turned her back on one of the few successes of Bill's long eight years in the White House: free trade agreements. Populism is in full effect.
An old truism is "Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do." When Chelsea Clinton finished up school she entered the business world eventually taking a six-figure position with a New York-based hedge fund. Thankfully she isn't one of those "money-grubbers" her mom hates. That would lead to all sorts of unpleasant mommy-daughter issues. Almost as unpleasant as a nation in the grip of economic populism.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
The business side of baseball is often very interesting. An example of this took place yesterday with the Detroit Tigers' trade of Jason Grilli (pictured here) to the Colorado Rockies for a chap, Zachary Simons, who played for their Modesto farm team. Simons will report to Class "A" Lakeland where he will be a Flying Tiger. In Modesto he played for the "Nuts." That's correct, he was a Nut. And, yes, their fans cheer, "GO NUTS!" Zach, things are lookin' up, buddy.
These are the interesting, albeit minor, transactions in the game. The big deals (and nobody made a bigger one this off season than Detroit's blockbuster with Florida) get the attention but these small player transactions are interesting for a different reason. They aren't payroll or even performance (up to a point) driven, they're roster driven. Detroit needed to make room for Francisco Cruceta on the 25 man roster. So, a relief pitcher had to go. Many observers guessed it would be Zach Miner heading down to the Mud Hens since he still had an option left. Clay Rapada would have been a guess to go down too except for the simple fact that he's pitching his @$$ off. Grilli was the odd man out and trading him for a minor leaguer gives the Tigers roster flexibility. But there's more movement on the horizon. Dontrelle Willis will likely come off the DL in the next week and at some point Rodney and Zumaya will come back from the DL. That's a starter and 2 relievers needing roster spots currently held by.........? That's the question. Another twist is the rehab of Vance Wilson. If he comes back this year as the backup catcher an everyday player will have to be moved down or another trade will be made. My guess is that there will be as many as a half dozen changes to the 25 man roster (aside from DL stays) between now and the end of the season. Some could be very interesting trades by Dealer Dave.
As for the Rockies' new pitcher, Grilli made 120 appearances for the Tigers since coming up from the 'Hens. He went 8-8 with a 4.31 ERA whilst a Tiger. Not bad. But he was not a fan favorite. He tended to perform better last year on the road than at home. He blew up badly in some key, memorable situations too. But, I thought he was a victim of a circumstance last season. His role was supposed to be long relief. He is capable of giving a team 3-4 solid innings when a starter gets knocked out early. Every team needs that. But last year, with Rodney and Zumaya injured, instead of pitching innings 3,4,5 or 6 he often found himself pitching in the 7th and 8th. Now a fan can say, "hey--he's paid to pitch, what difference does it make..." and that's true. But, it takes a different makeup to pitch in those late inning slots. By being played "out of position" Jason's weaknesses were exposed. We wish him well in Denver-- Coors Field is one of our favorite ballparks-- and we welcome the new Tigers reliever Francisco Cruceta. Oh, and, GO NUTS!