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Jul. 15 2009 — 12:37 pm | 25 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment


Biz of Baseball’s Maury Brown called it “the biggest gaff[e] of the night.” The Detroit Free Press put it first on its list of All-Star broadcast “lowlights.” The Albany Times-Union’s Pete Dougherty used the headline “Fox blows coverage of Obama’s first pitch.” Jim Buzinski of OutSports.com described the collective WTF that millions of us felt last night while watching a pointless baseball exhibition:

Leave it to Fox Sports to screw up what should be the easiest shot in baseball: The ceremonial first pitch. But that’s just what the bozos did at tonight’s All-Star Game in St. Louis, when we saw President Obama, clad in a Chicago White Sox jacket, throw the first pitch.

Except, we never saw the whole pitch, just Obama’s windup and delivery. We never saw who caught it (Albert Pujols was IDed about two minutes later) and we never saw it actually go over the plate. A graduate student director could have gotten that shot (hint: use the camera behind home plate, or a camera behind Obama). And there was no replay as they went into commercial. So we have no idea whether Obama did a good job or would make the blooper reel.

I had the obvious immediate reaction–CONSPIRACY–and though that was a joke, one that only conservative media obsessive Tim Graham seemed to flirt with (“Murdoch Goes Gentle on Obama’s First Pitch“), watching the wide-screen video replay this morning is making me stroke my chin and wonder about birth certificates.

Why? continue »

Jul. 15 2009 — 9:45 am | 5 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Orrin Hatch, on the BCS: “This is precisely the type of arrangement that our antitrust laws are meant to prevent”

Someone get a restraining order

Someone get a restraining order

The senior senator from Utah is still pissed that his undefeated University of Utah Utes football team was not awarded the national championship this year by the National Collegiate Association of America’s Bowl Championship Series system. I have heard that there are plenty of non-Mormons out there who share Hatch’s unhappiness with the BCS. Unlike the singin’ senator, however, they don’t have access to massive, pointless power. Here’s Hatch writing at ESPN.com:

[M]any of the schools from the BCS’s privileged conferences enjoy a number of legitimate advantages, including enormous budgets, attractive locations, winning traditions, and market attractiveness.

BCS officials have claimed that the inequities of their system are the natural result of these pre-existing factors. If the only problem were that SEC schools typically have better teams than schools from the Mountain West, it would difficult for anyone who believes in the free market to complain.

The problem with the BCS is that it creates disadvantages that are systemic. At the most basic level, it is an agreement among schools and conferences that are supposed to be competitors to reduce competition among themselves and, even worse, to limit the competition they receive from the outside.

This is precisely the type of arrangement that our antitrust laws are meant to prevent. That being the case, the ultimate consequence of the BCS’s refusal to acknowledge the outcries of football fans throughout the country may end up being intervention by the courts or the Justice Department.

This, of course, would be regrettable. But, up to now, the architects of the BCS seem to have purposefully eliminated any more desirable options.

This, of course, would be regrettable, and not just in a sadness-more-than-anger way.

I neither follow college football nor really understand those adults who do, but if one was really intent to misuse antitrust law on the billion-dollar industry, wouldn’t the discussion begin at the fact that the NCAA cartel prohibits the primary employees from being paid?

May. 25 2009 — 9:48 am | 756 views | 1 recommendations | 12 comments

What if a U.S. Senator Had Lost His Marbles, But People Were Too Shy to Come Right Out and Say it?

jimbunning1Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky), the former Hall of Fame pitcher for the Phillies and Tigers, is, at 77, the oldest Republican in the Senate. He served six terms in the House of Representatives, and his second term in the World’s Most Geriatric Deliberative Body ends in 2010. That hasn’t stopped a flock of buzzards — largely from his own party — from circling around his Senate seat. It is comical to watch them avoid saying the phrase, “The old coot has lost his mind.” Some delicate dancing around the subject:

“He has basically a voting record that the people of this state like,” said state Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, one of those considering a primary challenge to Bunning. “The only reservation that you hear anybody say about Senator Bunning is can he win or not.”

Hmmm, I wonder why he couldn’t win? Could it be … that he’s stone crazy?

Bunning’s increasingly erratic behavior — including a prediction that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would die of pancreatic cancer within nine months and his bitter criticism of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentuckian, during weekly conference calls with reporters — also has raised concerns.

“For some reason he insists on having these Tuesday morning conversations, and every Tuesday morning it seems to get a bit worse,” Williams said. “I don’t think it’s wise for him to do that.”

Let’s see, “erratic” behavior getting progressively worse…. What say you, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn? continue »

May. 8 2009 — 10:47 am | 28 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Five Morning-After Points About Manny Ramirez



1) Oh god PLEASE let it be boner pills. I realize that the chances of human chorionic gonadotropin being used for ED rather than post-PED are slimmer than Juan Pierre’s isolated power (or Nook Logan’s, for that matter), but at some point the twin absurdities of treating athletes who ingest perfectly legal drugs as criminals while passing the time between innings by calmly watching Bob Dole (or Rafael Palmeiro!) commercials should and will converge, spectacularly.

2) Bill Plaschke, the stone-dumb L.A. Times columnist and even dumber talking head, should be sent on the slow boat to Mauritius, preferably on a vessel powered by Tommy Lasorda’s excess lard. “Now I think about the amazement I felt in watching Ramirez hit .520 last postseason,” Plaschke wrote yesterday, “and think, well, of course, nobody is that good at age 36 without help.” Begging the question: What kind of “help” was Pops Stargell getting (I mean, aside from double cheeseburgers) when he unleashe3d a postseason line of .415 with 5 home runs in 1979 at age 39? Or Johnny Mize, when he dropped a .400/.500/1.067 World Series beatdown against the Brooklyn Dodgers three months before his 40th birthday?

3) Not that anyone needed reminding, but Red Sox Nation is the most unappealing collection of dully aggressive meat-faces since the last time I covered a Serb nationalist rally. continue »

Apr. 14 2009 — 11:06 pm | 3 views | 2 recommendations | 0 comments

Adenhart Bill passes committee in California

Blow before you go

Image by mrjorgen via Flickr

Ignition interlock devices are on their way in the state of California. If and when the bill passes the full Assembly and receives Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature (and there is zero reason to think that it won’t), first-time DUI convicts in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Alameda, and Sacramento counties (which comprise more than 50% of California residents) will be required to pay for an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) that will be affixed to their cars for five months. Some quotes from the story:

“Nick Adenhart, whose future, a very promising future, has been ruined because of a drunk driver. Nick is dead,” said Assembly member Jose Solorio (D) from Santa Ana. [...]

“That habitual use of this device assures that they are in a condition in the future to drive sober again,” said Assemblyman [Mike] Feuer.

Near the bottom of the article is this one terse, facts-are-stubborn-things sentence:

California’s own DMV concluded the IID’s were not effective in reducing DUI convictions or incidents for first time offenders.

Which is followed immediately by this bit of objective reporting:

Still, there’s no denying what might have happened had Assemblyman Feuer been successful in getting the ignition lock bill approved last year. The suspected drunk driver in the Adenhart crash, Andrew Thomas Gallo, already had a DUI conviction and the Orange County District Attorney says he was three times over the legal limit this time.

“If we had this law, those three young people in that car quite possibly would have been alive today. The offender would have an IID as a protection device, not so much as a penalty, but to protect him too,” said Mary Klotzbach, from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Italics mine. “Denying” aside, if they had had this law on the books even 10 years ago, Andrew Thomas Gallo’s car (or cars) would have been breathalyzer-free by¬† … 2006, or at the latest 2007 (depending on whose reporting about his prior DUI conviction you believe). Either way, he killed Adenhart and two other people in 2009. And also, his prior DUI conviction was in San Bernardino County, which is not covered by the new bill. And there are always those six other laws he knowingly broke last week.

And yet the San Mateo County Times, as if to perform a demonstration project for how newspapers, activists, and government officials collude on ambulance-chasing legislation, “reported” that:

The driver who killed Adenhart was driving on a suspended license for previous DUI infractions, which would have required him to use an ignition interlocking device under [the] bill [...]

Studies show that a five-month period of enforced sobriety teaches first-time offenders to break their habit of getting into a car drunk.

Shockingly, the Times neither quoted from nor even named said “studies,” in a fairly lengthy article.

But what of the prevention argument? Won’t requiring a breathalyzer physically prevent drunks from getting behind the wheel, because it will be so hard to drive? Consider this: Los Angeles County, with its 9.9 million residents (so, half the population affected by this bill), has a world-beating 1.8 cars per capita. When you subtract the under-16 crowd and adult non-drivers, that means there are more than two cars per eligible driver in the county.

First-time DUIs with .08 blood alcohol content will now be forced to pony up for thousand-dollar ignition breathalyzers, while booze-addled human scumfruit like Andrew Thomas Gallo will simply borrow mom’s minivan, or have their girlfriends blow through the no-drive device, then get busy with the reckless driving. Such are the joys of legislating through the front page.

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    Matt Welch is editor in chief of Reason magazine.

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