Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Read Stuff, You Should

Right to the good stuff this time:

1. John Sides has the definitive "what can presidential speeches do" post. Excellent. Also fun: Steve Benen on Westen.

2. Economy and budget: Mark Thoma on uncertainty and regulation; more on that topic from Matt Yglesias; Stan Collender explains baselines; Yglesias on currency wars; and Collender on what happens to budget deals as they age.

3. Electoral politics? Josh Putnam as always has the scoop on the GOP calendar of primaries and caucuses. Also Rick Hasen explains astrotweeting, Alan Abramowitz on electoral college bias, and voteview has ideological estimates for the Republican presidential candidates.

4. John Yoo, still wrong. From Conor Friedersdorf.

5. Facts and fact-checking, from Greg Marx; Adam Serwer explains what happens to people who rely on watch Fox News. And Paul Waldman on how Glenn Beck shows the agenda-setting power of the cable nets.

6. Governing stuff: David Frum on unsung heroes; Alex Pareene on whining rich people. Tim Fernholz believes business could learn something from government.

7. I'm still really enjoying Eric Loomis's series of state-by-state politicians: here, Vermont.

8. And a plea for the four-man rotation.


  1. Stan Collender, who is always great, has a great series of articles on baseline, but he rather missed the point.

    In his example, airlines may or may lose money over cancelled hurricane flights. All depends on your baseline. Great. We all use baselines. But come next quarter, they will get hammered for losing, say, a billion dollars. Will investors look at it and say, well, the baselines matter?

    or golf. You can't take your handicap and say, well, I'm taking lessons so I'm shaving two points off. You deal with real numbers -- what your shoot.

    In fact, when I do see baselines in the real world I know they aren't real. Example. If I eat one cookie crumb a day, in 5 years I will gain a pound of fat. Is that real? No, it is just a shorthand.

    Baselines are the same. They are based on the need to issue short term debt which turns over in 3 to 5 years. You basing your projections on what institutional investors need, not on what is really happening.

  2. That guy's four man rotation thing is a solution looking for a problem.

    First, and as every outsider seemingly always does when just kneejerking their way through some sabermetrical nonsense, the guy misinterprets the situation on the ground with the Tigers. Coke was placed into the rotation because he was a much needed lefthander. It's rare, but there are cases when lefties are useful, Mr. Bernstein, and this was one of them. ;-)

    It was a gamble for the Tigers, because with Coke starting, that left the back of their bullpen vulnerable, and that bit them hard when Benoit struggled, Zumaya's season was called off due to injury, and that little Taiwanese lefthander suddenly went monster.

    And it's not like Coke's struggles as a starter made him the weakest link. Penny and Scherzer and Porcello have been an adventure all season long. And you can make a case that Coke's run support wasn't as strong as theirs, fluky as that often is. Cut it to a 4 man rotation... and that just means we get to see more of Scherzer's Heinz 57 varieties mechanics, Penny's stubborn refusal to challenge on challenge counts, and the gaping maw of Porcello's inexperience.

    Now, the guy makes a good point, that smart teams shouldn't be afraid to jump pitchers, but teams do that now, even with 5 man rotations. The Tigers went into that Cleveland series a bit ago, when the division was still real tight, and Leyland jumped right over Penny to Verlander. Momma mighta raised a chain smoking curmudgeon, but she didn't raise no fool. Point being, you get to jump when YOU want to jump, and it's not about inserting a 5th starter because you've been forced to do so, as with a 4 man. You have flexibility, and you only jump when the opposition merits a jump.

    Teams just make full use of their pitching staffs nowadays, and pitch count seems to be a fully recognized and valid baseline statistic (unlike Collender's baseline budget rap), so the 5 man rotation has a home nowadays. It offers flexibility.


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