The dangerously ignorant, if not anti-Semitic, Glenn Beck

I’ve had at Beck in Facebook, but Rick Hertzberg in the New Yorker completely demolishes him:

Beck pictured Soros as a deeply evil figure, a shadowy manipulator whose marionettes include unions, the Democratic Party, the media, and the President; a rapacious financier who seeks to subvert and destroy the American republic in order to satisfy his own greed for money and advance his plot to establish an all-powerful global state under his control. As it happens, these tropes correspond uncannily to those of classical anti-Semitism. This was too much for many who recognized the resemblance; Beck’s denouncers included not only the Anti-Defamation League but also Commentary, the neoconservative organ, and Reason, the libertarian bible. Certainly, the vast bulk of Beck’s fans didn’t recognize the tropes; probably he didn’t, either. “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is not among the books he recommends to his fans. (“The Red Network,” by Elizabeth Dilling, to whom President Eisenhower was “Ike the Kike” and President Kennedy’s program the “Jew Frontier,” however, is.)

I’ll say it again: those who think that Fox News is “Good For The Jews” [is there a copyright symbol that goes with that line?] are deceiving themselves.  Fox and those like Beck and Roger Ailes [he of the “NPR = Nazis”] only seem to prize Jews as they prize Israel in the sense of it not being a place of safety for Jews worldwide but a place where Jews can put on uniforms and go to war against Muslims in our stead.

Beck has no idea of Jewish or Israeli history.  He only knows the bits and pieces of propaganda that feed his narrative.  To call George Soros a Nazi sympathizer is the worst sort of libel, especially while simultaneously doling out classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.  The fact that this phony has the eyes and ears of a huge American audience should be more than slightly worrying.

Why losing VMart hurts

Tony Massaroti nails it:

Over the last eight years, the New York Yankees have had 19 selections before the third round – an average of roughly one draft pick per year fewer than the Red Sox. During that same time, the Yankees have signed Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia, among others, while their farm system has produced Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes. The San Francisco Giants, who won the World Series this year, have had 20 draft picks. Ditto for the Los Angeles Angels, a perennial playoff team that won the 2002 World Series and slipped this past year only after losing John Lackey, Chone Figgins, and Vladimir Guerrero to free agency. (Try replacing all of those guys with draft picks.) The Tampa Bay Rays have had only 19 selections before the third round in the last eight years and their farm system is as productive as anyone’s. The Philadelphia Phillies have had 16 picks in the first, second and sandwich rounds.

Given that the Red Sox have almost routinely spent roughly $140-$170 million during the Epstein Era, here are the questions worth discussing:

Do they really need all those draft picks?

Are the draft picks really what produce the championships?

“We test, make judgments and write about things we understand.”

Rush Limbaugh attacks and questions the credibility of Motor Trend for giving the Chevy Volt its Car of the Year award. Todd Lassa, in what looks like a classic takedown, answers El Rushbo decisively:

[O]ur credibility, Mr. Limbaugh, comes from actually driving and testing the car, and understanding its advanced technology. It comes from driving and testing virtually every new car sold, and from doing this once a year with all the all-new or significantly improved models all at the same time. We test, make judgments and write about things we understand.

Lassa goes on to wonder why Big R never questions the Volt’s competitor, the Nissan Leaf:

The Obama tax credit extends to the new Nissan Leaf, too, but if you or Will slammed that car, I’ve not heard or read it. I’d be surprised if you did, though, as Nissan is building the Leaf in a non-union factory in a right-to-work state represented by two Republican senators. A factory located there because Tennessee offered Nissan big tax credits. Maybe you’re worried that if the $7,500 tax credit works, too many people will buy the Volt, and that could reduce the need for oil drilling tax credits?

Reading this gave me palpitations of joy.  Not just because Rush Limbaugh was savagely attacked, but because something which is missing from a lot of blogs come out in full force: expertise.  Motor Trend not only knows its cars but also how the law and business of cars.  It becomes a hoot when someone like Limbaugh who one could imagine enjoys driving his V-12, pedal-to-the-metal, a fellow who would seem to eat, sleep, and shit cars, really doesn’t know jack about them.

Rushie Boy doesn’t know cars, the law, or the business behind them.  All he knows is talking points for Southern Republicans, one of which is that Global warming is a hoax and anything we do to try to slow down its effects are poison.  Rush knows how to thrash and point his nasty words at people.  But anyone who thinks he has any solution to any problem should heed the advice Lassa gives to El Rushbo in his closing sentence:

Just remember: driving and Oxycontin don’t mix.

It’s not about the radiation, it’s about the mission’s utter futility

Jim Fallows lays out the case against full-body scanning:

But anyone who’s ever thought about terrorist movements realizes that the real damage is indirect — it’s the fear they induce, the (over) reaction they provoke, the costs they impose as a society tries to guard against repetition. That’s what Osama bin Laden noted in a tape after 9/11 — that on the cheap, his attackers had not simply killed 3,000 people but induced a response that will cost the U.S. trillions of dollars over a decade or more (if the costs of war in Iraq are included, as they should be).

Extend the Public Records Law!

As a reminder, here is a summary of the Ware report, which detailed legal violations within the Probation Dept.

In the wake of the Ware report and the disgusting patronage in which our State Legislature and Judiciary have partaken, Scott Lehigh has a marvelous idea

So what could be done to tame the political world’s ever-present patronage instinct?

The first step is obvious. Both the Legislature and the judiciary are currently exempt from the state’s Public Records Law, a highly effective tool for watchdogs trying to sniff out dubious hirings. It was that law that let the Globe reveal the gap between rhetoric and reality when it came to the Patrick administration’s attempt to install state Senator Marian Walsh in a highly paid sinecure.

But the exemptions for the judiciary and the Legislature make it difficult even for determined reporters to ferret out the truth about employment decisions involving those branches. Although the Legislature has long waged a covert campaign to make the Probation Department its own patronage fiefdom, the Ware report detailing the abuse came only after the Supreme Judicial Court appointed an independent counsel, armed with subpoena power, to pierce through the murk. The SJC’s action, in turn, followed a painstaking and time-consuming Globe Spotlight Team report that revealed a dysfunctional department chockablock with patronage hires. Extending the Public Records Law would make it much easier for reporters and citizens to probe problematic hiring decisions.

Lehigh suggests putting this to a ballot question for next year.  I agree.  If it is to be a ballot question, then we should do it in an election off-year.  My theory of why Massachusetts remains a one-party dictatorship is because nobody cares about the State Legislature elections.  They happen every two years and are overshadowed either by Governor’s races or the Presidential election.

In an off-year, however, nothing doing.  Voters are likely not paying much attention to anything.  Perhaps only the most committed voter is paying attention to municipal issues.  But if there is enough of a push, beginning with the sheer disgust as to how our Commonwealth uses a system of patronage as feedback to keep entrenched incumbents in power.

As an illustration, check out the Globe’s exposure of Rep. Thomas Petrolati [D-Ludlow] and his system of patronage within the Probation Dept.  In fact, the Globe found 732 donations totalling more than $100,000 to Petrolati from employees of the courts, probation and the sheriff’s department since 2002.  This, until yesterday, was the third-highest ranking lawmaker in the State House.  As this report notes, many donations came shortly before or after an employee was hired or promoted.

The Public Records Law needs extension because, as Lehigh points out, it is very difficult for news organizations to get details like this when, for instance, it comes to light that, say, the Probation Dept. hired a woman as a Probation Officer who leaked information to her drug-dealer friends.  [To make the story even sweeter, this stepdaughter of a judge got a raise after the fact.]

In any case, I will be looking into what it takes to get such a ballot question out to voters next year.  Again, I think it must be posed in an off-year because when we are electing Governors, Congressmen, and Presidents, we are too distracted to look around and see what really counts.

Why Derek Jeter will never go to the Red Sox

…or any other non-Yankee team, for that matter. As Nate Silver so ably demonstrates, the answer is simple: his value as a ballplayer is far higher as a Yankee because he is Derek Jeter.

Jeter’s problem, however, is that this is not a competitive bidding situation. The $15 or $25 million “bonus” that he provides to the Yankees in off-the-field value is for the most part expressly contingent on the fact that he remains a Yankee, the franchise that he is identified with. Fans in Pittsburgh or San Francisco or Boston feel no particular loyalty to Jeter, and while he would surely still be a good ambassador for those clubs, he might not generate many more season ticket sales for them above and beyond what any other decent shortstop would. (The New York Mets might represent something of a middle ground, but they already have an All-Star shortstop in Jose Reyes.)

The Yankees’ general manager, Brian Cashman, has challenged Jeter to test the market, knowing that he is unlikely to receive another offer as generous as the one the Yankees made. Mr. Cashman is probably right about that; so much of Jeter’s value is tied up in being a New York Yankee that he does not have very much flexibility in exploring the market.

Remember further, as demonstrated by his letting Victor Martinez walk, that Theo Epstein [the Red Sox’ GM] is unemotional when it comes to these transactions.  Which means that an ancillary value in signing Jeter just to piss off Yankees’ fans is zero.  If we were desperate for a shortstop and Jeter provided impressive projected Wins Above Replacement [WAR] over the next few years, then I am sure that Theo would have already made a bid.  But it is no secret that this is not the case, and Jeter will continue to be a Yankee.  As Silver shows, they have him by the balls.