Thursday, June 30, 2011

Budget Talks - smartest post yet

Mickey Kaus got nowhere in his rather quixotic run for the Senate.  He makes too much sense.  Here's the best post I've seen on the budget/debt ceiling negotiations.  Kaus for Senate!

Budget, distinctions without a difference

Harvard economist Greg Mankiw links to his column to make a point about the budget discussions, namely that what might seem to be opposites are in fact nearly identical.  That is the case with targeted tax cuts and spending.  In essence both amount to getting money for doing something the government wants you to do.

I think the basic point holds, with some caveats.  For a tax cut to be of benefit one has to have taxable income.  This is probably a more important matter for business than for personal taxes, and within business would tend to benefit larger and established as against smaller, start-up companies.  And it should also be noted that the more income you have, the higher the marginal benefit of the tax cut if the relevant taxes are graduated. 

In short, as would be commonly understood, spending would tend to be progressive and directed tax cuts would tend be regressive.  But what wouldn't be generally understood is that they are more alike than different; either way you're getting money for doing what the government wishes.

On the whole, I thinking spending has the advantage of being visible and less pernicious.  This also suggests that a size of government measure like spending to GNP is inadequate.

Colonial status for Jamaica?

There is a small, but fascinating little item posted on the Powerline blog today concerning a newspaper poll in Jamaica.  The poll found that "by a 60 percent to 17 percent margin, Jamaicans say they would be better off if they were once again a British colony" and that this "is particularly astonishing as generations of Jamaican leaders have portrayed the British as oppressors who subjected the Caribbean to slavery."

Of course it isn't just Jamaicans who've been trained to think of colonial rule as oppressive (if nothing else this post brought back memories of college arguments).  But beyond that, what I find even more interesting is that this represents an at least partial repudiation of democracy.  The 60 percent here are saying more or less you guys are better at this government stuff than we are, and that view stands in remarkable opposition to the spirit of this age.

For instance, I recently read the history of Britain textbook from my college years, and one of things that stood out was the confidence, the matter of factness with which any and all reforms which moved in the direction of greater democracy were written of as progress.  One could almost hear the trumpets blare as the electoral franchise was expanded, and if the sound was somewhat muted that was because the reform was too cautious and still hadn't gone far enough.

That is the spirit of the age, not just in Britain but as much or more here in the states.  As I was thinking about this post Fred Barnes was on Fox arguing that the public should be brought into the debt ceiling negotiations, that they should be in public not behind closed doors.  And so it goes. 

Personally I'm a lot more sceptical.  I don't trust our current elites any further than I could throw them but I don't trust the people either.  Political rhetoric aside, we aren't in our current predicament because our politicians didn't listen to the people.  They did listen.  We've gotten pretty much exactly what we voted for and recognizing that, rather than blaming the politicians, should be part of the cure. 

Jamaica is just Jamaica, and its only one poll.  But there is something in this which is both interesting and important even if the practical ramifications seem trivial.  Thinking clearly is beneficial no?  So extend the idea and ask yourself would you opt to be governed under the old rules of crown and Pitt, or the current ones?  I think I'd go for the former, but then I'm conservatively inclined and live in Chicago, so I don't really have a vote anyway.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The compulsion to defend

One thing I will never understand is the desire to defend one's "political side" no matter what, as if the people on your side can never be wrong and the other side right.  And one reason I don't understand it is that it is so counter productive.  If you are trying to gain adherents you have to establish some level of credibility and making strained arguments in support of a person on your side of the political divide is a sure way to lose forever a reputation as being intellectualy honest. 

This comes to mind because a number of conservatives are claiming that on the Sunday shows Michelle Bachman was right and George Stephanoupolis wrong when the former argued that the founders worked tirelessly to end slavery and in support of this Bachman gave as an example John Quincy Adams.  National Review Online has a post on the matter as does the American Spectator

Now first, I think it is pretty clear that "founders" is all inclusive so that to point to Madison or Hamilton as the posters due in support of Bachman is useful and balanced but hardly convincing to the point as stated.  Bachman isn't wrong if she put forth the idea that some of the founders worked and made important contributions to end slavery, but that isn't really what she said.   As stated, it's a bit of a historical white wash (no pun intended).

Second, "worked tirelessly" is ambiguous but I think a reasonable interpretation would be that it is for the person in question an issue of the highest priority.  John Brown worked tirelessly to end slavery.  I'm not sure even Hamilton could be described as working tirelessly to end slavery, admirable as his actions were, but clearly Thomas Jefferson did not.

And third, John Quincy Adams is an important figure in american history but it strains credulity to think that the posters here would really categorize him as one of the founders.  Yes, he was along for his father's diplomatic missions and he went to Russia by himself, but please.  He didn't sign the Declaration of Independence and he wasn't a representative at the Constitutional Convention, nor was he behind any of the founding documents such as the Federalist Papers.  "The founders" as most would interpret it includes John Adams, not his son.

This isn't of course a big deal.  Political speech is prone to flights of fancy and besides being a good politician isn't the same as being a good historian.  Which is all the more reason why the political commentary surrounding this surprises me.  She isn't a dunce and I would guess she knows more history than I do, but you have to conclude that she is more wrong here than right.  There, is that so hard?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Well we can't have that!

So a little earlier I linked to a St Paul Pioneer Press summary of the state budget showdown which included this useful and concise summary:

"One side tends to see government in expansive terms, based on the perceived needs and demands for services. The other tends to see government in limited terms, bounded by the amount of money coming in."

I am in the latter camp as I think it is obvious that the perceived needs and demands for services are virtually unlimited especially when the payment for those needs/services are indirect and delayed.

As if on cue, we get the Treasury Secretary's testimony that "the Obama administration believes taxes on small business must increase so the administration does not have to 'shrink the overall size of government programs.'”

You might think the abysmal rate of economic growth and unemployment above 9%, combined with the track record of small businesses creating jobs, might lead the administration to be looking for ways to help rather than hurt small business but you'd be wrong.  The first priority is and always will be to maintain the size of government.

Minnesota Budget and the St. Paul Pioneer Press

The dominant paper in Minnesota is and has been the Minneapolis Star & Tribune, a parody of a liberal paper.  Via the Powerline blog, which links to it, there is a very useful summary of the Minnesota budget showdown in the rival St Paul Pioneer Press.  The piece concludes with:

"One side tends to see government in expansive terms, based on the perceived needs and demands for services. The other tends to see government in limited terms, bounded by the amount of money coming in. Reasonable people differ on which is the best approach. It is important to understand both perspectives, as well as the numbers that form the budget's inevitable bottom line."

Nicely put, and something that would never appear in the Strib.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

German invasion of Russia, WWII

Two interesting posts on Operation Barbarossa (note the imbedded link in the first sentence).  I'm not sure why, but I find WWII fascinating, and judging from the History Channel I'm not alone.

News Without Perspective

I liked this post on Powerline in reference to the U of Minnesota's "dismal" budget, mostly because it shows what should be included in a financial story and almost never is, namely some historical perspective through numbers.  Go to the link and read the Star & Tribune's story, then look at the actual U of Minn. budget numbers that Scott has added and tell me if your take on the budget isn't altered by the additional numerical information.

One notes that not only is the "dismal" budget an 8.8% increase but that over the last ten years the increases average 8.5% and that the current increase comes right after a 17.2% bump.  If the Stribs writers were a little more numerically inclined they might be asking what could possibly be going on in higher education--where we can be certain that the output isn't going up by 8.5% a year--that would justify these numbers. 

The Stribs presentation is similar to stories on deficits which never seem to get around to asking the obvious question, namely what's happening on the revenue side, and what's happening on the spending side, the combination of which determines the deficit.  If democracy requires an informed electorate it's no wonder our public finances are a mess.

Walter Russell Mead, Where We Are

Over at the American Thinker, Walter Russell Mead has an excellent post tracing the progressive ideal and its reforms from beneficial--"great white hope"--to destroyer.    The essay is as good a synthesis of where we are and how we got here as I've seen, but it strikes me as a little too kind to the idea of progressivism.  For if I read Mead correctly, then he is crediting progressivism with taking us out of the rather brutal realities of classical liberalism and only faulting it for not putting the brakes on itself. 

But progressivism was never a limited engagement.  That it produced more benefits than costs in its infancy is to be attributed to a) our system of checks and balances, b) that spending/transfer programs are going to start slowly, and to c) political life itself which is subject to very long feedback loops (see Social Security).  It isn't an aberrant, godzilla like form of progressivism that hasn't worked out, but that the whole idea of turning "modern life into something safe and tame" via "a bureaucratic and professional elite" was bound to fail.  And I would add, that the turning point isn't at the great white elephant stage as Mead puts it, but at the great white father stage.

At any rate, read the whole piece.

Monday, June 20, 2011

U.S. Open

A few thoughts on the U.S. Open

1)  A big part of the appeal of the U.S. Open is the chance to see a great golf course.  The best sites make you want desperately to play the course and imbed certain holes or features in your memory.  A course like Pebble Beach has a big advantage, but you don't need to hug an ocean to have memorable holes. 

While Congressional seems to be a decent course and the 18th, with the water on the left and huge clubhouse on the hill in the foreground, is a really nice hole, it is not an especially memorable site for the Open.  It's not to the level of say Oakmont (the church pew bunkers, the 9th green), next year's site Olympic, or Merion which is coming up.

2)  There was a lot of criticism that the course was too easy.  As I posted before I think the USGA, when it tries to protect par, generally ruins the tournament.  They didn't do that this year.  Throw McIlroy out and the winning score is -8 which is just right, especially when the par is 71.

We also got to see one aspect of the criticism rebutted on Sunday.  Andy North and Curtis Strange complained about the tees being moved up on the long par 5 ninth on Saturday, which turned it into a birdie hole as players could reach the green in two.  So on Sunday they had the tees back and the hole was completely non-descript.  Unlike on Saturday, there was no decision to make, no penalty for driving the ball in the rough, the players drove, hit a shortish lay up shot regardless of whether they were in the fairway or not, and then tried to get close with a wedge.

3)  The difference for McIlroy was his putting.  His Master's collapse didn't start on the 10th it started much earlier when he bogied the first, and came about not because he started driving the ball in the direction of the surrounding houses but because he was missing key, par saving putts.  Putting was also his downfall in the PGA last year, when he had numerous opportunities but couldn't get his birdie attempts to fall.

4)  The thing you notice about McIlroy's swing is how square he has the club at the top.  It always seems to be pointing straight down his target line.  I don't believe in playing golf by trying to get into a number of different positions through the swing, but at the top is the exception.  Set it square at that point like McIlroy does and you just have to let it go to hit it straight.

5)  Let's wait and see before we start proclaiming him the next Tiger.  Again I think it will come down to putting, where Tiger didn't miss anything of importance for over a decade.  McIlroy looked much, much better with the blade this week, but it's just one week.  And because of the recency of Tiger's wins, the standard has been distorted.  Take Jack and Tiger out of it and you realize that 4 - 6 majors puts you in the game's elite.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hawk Harrelson, Political Philosopher

During last night's game, Steve Stone brought up the individual nature of baseball, pitcher against hitter on every pitch and Hawk Harrelson commented:

"baseball is an individual game that if you know how to play it manifests itself as a team."

As a succinct statement of conservative, political philosophy that isn't bad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Golf - Lessons from John Jacobs

In Right Time, Right Place, Richard Brookhiser takes a certain writer to task for falling prey to the "no principles please we're British" error.  Maybe that's why I like A Life Full of Lessons--wherein teacher John Jacobs shares his thoughts on the game--so much.  It has that British feel to it, as well as the wisdom that comes from his having been a club pro for 60 years.  The article appears in the March 2011 issue of Golf Digest and I think it's about the best instructional piece that's been published in that magazine.

The whole piece is worth a close, attentive read if you play golf, but a few of the highlights for me are:

"If golf were about getting into correct positions throughout the swing, then the greatest players in the world have had it wrong."

I happen to have a pretty orthodox, classic type swing, but I think this is absolutely correct.  Or perhaps more to the point, the attempt to turn the swing into a series of positions will destroy more golfers than it will help.

"The feeling of wanting to take the club straight back, rather than on an arc, is intuitively human, but it's the core of many faults.  We think the longer we can make a straight line, the straighter the ball will go.  But golf is a side-on-side game with the ball on the ground, so it's the opposite."

For some reason, women seem to be particularly susceptible to this error.  I see it all the time when I practice and the temptation not to butt in and say something is tough to resist.  Difficult to stay silent when husband/boyfriend is going on about something or other while the woman has the club going straight all the way to the top of her backswing, and thereby has no chance to hit the ball with any force.  None.

And finally:

"Many players never start in an address position that makes a windup back and through possible.  If you set up right, it's all done; you don't need any more thoughts.  Leave the rest to the good Lord."

Took me a long while to figure this out, but I think that's about right (I have it that setup is about 90%, the top of the backswing is another 9.5%, and then not getting greedy because you know you have it right is the remaining 0.5%). 

Read the rest:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oakeshott on Political Doctrines - 1939

"With regard to the moral ideals represented in these doctrines, the fundamental cleavage appears to me to lie neither between those which offer a spiritual ideal and those which offer a material ideal, nor in the actual content of the moral ideals themselves, but between those which hand over to the arbitrary will of a society's self-appointed leaders the planning of its entire life, and those which not only refuse to hand over the destiny of a society to any set of officials but also consider the whole notion of planning the destiny of a society to be both stupid and immoral."

Michael Oakeshott, The Social and Political Doctrines of Modern Europe, 1939

U.S. Open Golf Championship - scoring

As anyone who follows golf knows, it's U.S. Open week, with the tournament being played at Congressional this year.  I watch all the major tournaments and will no doubt tune in this week, but the U.S. Open has struck me as misguided for a very long time, confusing 'finding the best golfer' with protecting par.

In the last decade the median winning score in the U.S. Open was -2 compared to the median for the British Open -8.5 and The Masters -10.5.  Does the U.S Open do a better job of determining the best golfer than the other majors?  I rather doubt it, and I think anyone who watches the tournament or listens to the commentary will doubt it as well.  It isn't so much the relatively high winning score (par is rather arbitrary) as that the USGA philosophy is so committed to bringing out the inner accountant in the players.  Hit the fairway, hit the green, two putts for par and go to the next hole, whatever you do don't become impatient and actually attempt a risky shot in the attempt to make a birdie or better.  Is that really what you want from your national champion?

Now, first I think having a philosophy, any philosophy, and imposing it on the tournament year after year is a mistake.  The U.S Open moves around, being played on the best courses in what is a very big country.  Why not have the courses dictate the tournament rather than having tournament officials come in and try to make disparate sites as near to each other as possible. 

And second, if the U.S Open is known for defending par it is also known for having courses get away from it.  By trying to make the course difficult the USGA has too often not lessened the role of luck in determining a winner but increased it. 

Perhaps the player who best epitomizes what I have in mind passed away last month.  Seve Ballesteros was undeniably one of the best golfers of his era and Seve had no chance to win a U.S Open.  That he contended (at Oakmont I believe) at all is far more surprising than that he never won it.  Seve played with flair, he was an artist with clubs not an accountant.  He won and regularly contended at The Masters and The British Open but not in the U.S Open.  That's what's wrong with the U.S. Open.

Picking a President

Last week on Commentary/Contentions Peter Wehner had a good post on how we choose a president.  As we seem to be getting started on the campaign for 2012 this is a useful topic that probably doesn't get enough attention.  To be sure, any discussion of the relative merits of candidates, whether person a or b should get in the race, etc, has within it the thread of what it takes to be president.  But it strikes me that this is to some extent backwards.  We pick a candidate, usually on the basis of liking their views on a few issues, and then we go looking for justifications as to why they are qualified.  And because there is no clear cut answer to the question, justifications aren't hard to find.  It would make more sense to think about the qualities needed to be president, clarify our thinking on a criteria, and then evaluate candidates, recognizing throughout that these are presumptive criteria not absolute.

To which a few thoughts:

1)  It is dismaying to see how little attention is paid to foreign policy.  One would think that this is a relatively minor part of what the president does instead of the area where the president has the greatest, direct responsiblity.  Moreover, anyone who is interested in politics is going to have a fairly well established view of domestic policy, but this is not the case with foreign policy where a real concerted effort to learn the subject is required.  An effort that goes well beyond what can be accomplished by cramming during the campaign season.  We should be looking for a reasonably well thought out, coherent view of foreign affairs.

2)  The modern president is an executive position with the key requirement of being able to manage.  The president needs to be able to select good, qualified people to key posts, set a general direction, and then manage his staff. 

3)  We shouldn't forget that politics is a profession.  Disappointment with the political class might tempt us to look outside politics for a president but this should be resisted. 

4)  Experience may not be everything, but isn't nothing.  I don't agree with Barack Obama's political philosophy, but I have no doubt that he's a decent, very intelligent guy.  But at the time he was elected his resume would fit comfortably on a credit card.  Why did we think he was ready to be president?

Similarly, if I were living in her district I have no doubt that I would support Michele Bachmann in her House races.  But she hasn't run anything of any size.  Her political experience is state senator and as a Representative in the House since 2007.  Why is she ready to be president?

All that said, it is in the end, as Wehner points out "an act of faith."  By my criteria Bush I should've been a better president than Reagan and I should be supporting Romney rather than hoping for a viable alternative.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cookies, A Tale for our Times

There is very little that I remember from the course I took in marketing as an undergraduate, but I do remember the following example precisely because it explains so much that has nothing to do with business:

A company made cookies at the high end of the market.  After awhile they looked at changing the recipe to lower costs.  So they came up with a cost reduced version, then tested it against the current version and when the tasters couldn't distinguish between the two versions they went with the lower cost recipe.  A year or so later they did the same thing testing version (b) against version (c) and getting the same result they switched again to the lower cost version.  Over the course of a few years this pattern persisted, until at some point their sales dropped off.  They couldn't come up with a reason for the declining sales until they tested the current version of the cookie (after many changes) to the original.  While the incremental changes had been too subtle to notice, the absolute change was significant and easy to detect.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ken Minogue on our current democracy

"We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.....Our rulers are theoretically 'our' representatives, but they are busy turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up."

Kenneth Minogue, The Servile Mind

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Obama in '08, Did he run to win?

This is pure speculation, and I'd have to go hunting to find reasons why it matters (perhaps as a cautionary tale??), but I remain convinced that at least at the outset Barack Obama ran in '08 not with the intention of winning but to position himself for 2016.  I come to this conclusion based on the following:

1) It was clear by '07 that the democratic nominee would win the general election.
2) Hillary Clinton was a strong candidate of a party that would've elected her husband Bill if they could've.  It is an understatement to say that the general consensus was that Hillary would get the nomination.
3) The point above notwithstanding, it is pretty clear that candidates don't get the nomination on their first run.  So if you want to be president, it makes sense to make, as it were, a trial run to get experience, build up awareness, etc.
4) It's generally not a good idea to run against an incumbent President from your own party.

Putting the above points together and it's not unreasonable to conclude that for Barack he either had to run in '08 or most likely wait until 2020 to be President and so he ran.  Of course with success in the primaries came a new view of himself and what he was doing, and any trial run notions were replaced by the view to winning.

Points Differential - NBA Finals through 4 games

An ESPN report on the finals noted the margin of victory through four games and placed it in historical perspective by noting that there have only been a few instances where the margin has been less or the same. 

One example given was the '69 finals between Boston and LA.  Like this year's series, the total differential is equal to 15 points.  But of course margin of victory is aligned with total points.   So looking at that '69 series one notes that while the margins match this finals the points don't.  Average combined points through 4 games of that series equaled 215.25 compared to this year's 176.75.  That is 22% higher.  So the '69 series, at least by the standard of points differential, was actually much closer than this year's finals through 4 games.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Austan Goolsbee

If Austan Goolsbee is stepping down because he believes he is out of ideas/doesn't know what to do and thinks that someone else should take a shot at guiding economic policy then I have the utmost respect for him.  If he is stepping down because if he doesn't he will lose his tenured position at the U. of Chicago then I have zero respect for the man.

Did they believe it?

With the announcement that Austan Goolsbee will be returning to the Univ. of Chicago, and the bad economic numbers, there has been a great deal of criticism of the statement made by Christina Romer that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8%.  Of course, the stimulus plan was passed and current unemployment is 9.1% (at best).  What's missing from the discussions I've seen is whether these economic advisors truly believed the 8% figure.

a)  Anyone who has run numbers knows that you're going to be required to give a level of specificity to your analysis/projections which is simply not there.  I seriously doubt that this pressure is absent from our democratic process.
b)  I think it is undeniable that the economy is something of a confidence game and that comments made by the President's economic advisors have to be constructed with this in mind.  It seems quite possible to me that a more intellectually accurate statement that the stimulus would make things better but that there was no telling how high unemployment would go, would be a political non-starter.
c)  a) and b) could be off the mark and Romer et al really did believe in the 8% figure.  That anyone of such high rank could have such confidence, given the unprecedented situation that we faced, is astonishing.  If they really made such a claim with confidence and conviction then they really need to start over from scratch.

Not your father's NBA

I caught a bit of the PTI interview with Mark Jackson, the new head coach of the Warriors.  Jackson emphasized that the game "starts at the defensive end of the court."  That is indeed today's NBA.  How different that is from the NBA I knew, when it was clearly offensive oriented. 

This morning I took a look at the 1985 finals between the Lakers (Magic, Kareem, Worthy) and the Celtics (Bird, McHale, Parrish). In that series no team scored less than 100 points (Boston was low with exactly 100 in game 6) and the highest score was 148.  Average combined score for the series was 229, with the median equal to 221.5.

In the current series, no team has reached 100 points.  The combined average score is 176.75, or a 22.8% drop from the '85 series.  The median combined score is 175 which equates to a 22.0% decline.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Porcupine Huddle, Full Quote

"There was once, so Schopenhauer tells us, a colony of porcupines.  They were wont to huddle together on a cold winter's day and, thus wrapped in communal warmth, escape being frozen.  But, plagued with the pricks of each other's quills, they drew apart.  And every time the desire for warmth brought them together again, the same calamity overtook them.  Thus they remained, distracted between two misfortunes, able neither to tolerate nor to do without one another, until they discovered that when they stood at a certain distance from one another they could both delight in one another's individuality and enjoy one another's company.  They did not attribute any metaphysical  significance to this distance, nor did they imagine it to be an independent source of happiness, like finding a friend.  They recognized it to be a relationship in terms not of substantive enjoyments but of contingent considerabilities that they must determine for themselves.  Unknown to themselves, they had invented civil association."

Michael Oakeshott, Talking Politics, Hunter College Address

Weiner - the worst of it

No surprise really that Weiner didn't resign.  But perhaps the worst of it is the defense that he hadn't broken the law, and then the later discussion of whether he had broken House rules.  It tells you where we are that we even bother asking about his use of his phone and office and whether that constitutes an improper use of government property.  As Mark Steyn relates in regard to the Profumo affair it should be much simpler:

"The denial was soon proven false, and that’s why Profumo resigned—not because he was untrue to his wife but because he was untrue to the House of Commons. The Westminster system—all the “my honorable friend,” “the noble Earl,” “the right honorable member opposite” stuff—is predicated on the assumption of integrity."

Anthony Weiner in Brief

After noting that the qualities of a gentleman are somewhat haphazard, Shirley Robin Letwin points out "Certain qualities are more regularly observed, there is always some reference to 'polish', 'calmness', and 'collectedness'.  The other virtues attributed to a gentleman are courage, courtesy, and truthfulness, but there is a special stress on truthfulness."   The Gentleman in Trollope, Shirley Robin Letwin

Compare and contrast.

Are the White Sox really out of it?

At Tom Verducci declares the White Sox out of it as of May 31st . He reaches this conclusion by noting the failure rate of teams who are more than 5 games under .500 and 5 or more games back at the end of May (96%).  The White Sox were 6 games under .500 and 8.5 back of the Indians in the AL Central.

This conclusion strikes me as overly quantitative.  For one, the division leader Indians are hardly the '27 Yankees.  They weren't thought to be contenders before the season started but have obviously gotten off to a fast start.  Second, this is the AL Central which is not to be confused with the AL East.  Third, "out of it" suggests not only the team won't make the playoffs but won't really contend.  If the White Sox are within a couple games of first in August or early September but fail to make the playoffs does this prove Verducci right?  I don't think so, except in a very technical sense.  As a baseball fan I actually don't mind my team missing the playoffs, but I want them to contend to the very last.  That is, keep me in the game.

In June, the Indians have gone 1 - 5, the White Sox 3 - 2 and the Tigers 4 - 1.  I actually think the Tigers will win the division (the White Sox were less than 5 games behind the Tigers as of May 31st) but that the White Sox will contend.  What's contend?  Be within 4 games in August, and within around 3 games at the start of September is being in contention.

My Twins on the other hand are really out of it.

First Post: Welcome:

I start this without any clear intentions, except perhaps to use it as a way to organize and share my thoughts. As will become clear my interests are politics/current events, culture, books, and sports.  Enjoy and thanks for giving this a look.