Archive for November, 2008

The Blessing of Kristol: The 2nd Generation

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

One unintended consequence of the right’s hyper-messaging push has been that it may have worked too well. Namely, the constant repetition and dissemination of talking points have become so embedded in the right’s DNA that it leads, largely, to one of two inevitable occurences every so often. On the one hand, a right-winger will short hand a common “tenet” you could find any day at The Corner. Sarah Palin’s “pro-America” comment fits this bill. The right, and those of us who follow the right’s rhetoric, understand the longer point it’s supposed to make, but to everyone else it pretty clearly implies that certain areas like cities are un-American. And that hurts you because lots of people live in cities.

Short of that though, you’ll often catch a second rate hack on a right-wing blog getting lazy with their formulations, and demonstrating just how silly these basic assumptions of wingnutdom really are. Take Jennifer Rubin, remarking on the Georgia Senate runoff:

So you can expect the MSM to crow wildly if Martin wins — and relegate the news to the back pages if Chambliss pulls it out.

Now, on the one hand, this is the sort of argument that would flunk any logic/rhetoric class, because it obviously can’t be demonstrated. It may be true, but since both Martin and Chambliss cannot win, there’s no way for us to tell if this really would happen, and so it can not be asserted as “proof” of any underlying premise.

But even if we allow that it would happen, that only serves to underscore the point liberals are finally making about right-wing accusations of media bias; it’s not that they want an unbiased media, they want a media that is favorable to Republicans. To be blunt, Saxby Chambliss winning the run-off is back page news, because he’s a Republican and a Republican winning in Georgia isn’t exactly breathtaking stuff. But even removing partisan identifiers, he’s an incumbent Senator who nearly captured a majority the first time around, and is very likely to win the run-off relatively easily. His re-election isn’t particularly newsworthy, but if he somehow loses, meaning that not only does a Democrat win a national race in Georgia but that Democrats may very well wind up with 60 Senate seats, that’s pretty obviously front page news. So any “discrepancy” isn’t evidence that the newsmedia has a partisan bias to it, but rather confirmation that the real world isn’t 50-50. But conservatives have rather conveniently flipped this into a victim mentality in which everyone is out to get them, and they’d win elections if only the media (or any of the other institutions with a “liberal bias”) would play fair.

The Blessing of Kristol

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

One of the downsides to making the face of your political “thinking” operation a political operative instead of a real political thinker is that every now and then they’ll get sloppy and totally give up the goat. Thus, via Yglesias, we get this gem from Bill Kristol:

And while he’s at it, perhaps he could tell various admirals to stop moaning about how difficult it would be to deal with the pirates off the coast of Somalia (isn’t keeping the shipping lanes open a core mission of the Navy?) and order the Navy to clobber them. If need be, the Marines would no doubt be glad to recapitulate their origins and join in by going ashore in Africa to destroy the pirates’ safe havens.

Now, as Matt points out, we can take issue with the shameless warmongering here, or the condescension, or the flippant disregard for the difficult nature of military operations, but I rather think the on-a-dime turn is most interesting. After all, how long have we been hearing that we absolutely have to “listen to commanders” and give them whatever they ask for? But as detractors always pointed out, Bush & Co. were only listening to those commanders who agreed with their core assumptions, and telling them what they wanted to hear. Others were pushed out of their positions and otherwise ignored. And now we’ve got no less an emissary of the right than Bill Kristol putting it on full display.

It’s a shame that got lost amidst the flurry of outrage over the idea of pardoning torturers.

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Obama and the Military

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Examining Obama’s current and future dealings with the military brass, Steve Benen writes:

The conventional wisdom seems to be that tension is unavoidable. Military leaders are, the theory goes, bound to be skeptical about a young president who didn’t serve in the military, and who has articulated a withdrawal policy many in the Pentagon are skeptical of.

But there are at least two key angles to consider here. First, during the ongoing transition, Obama seems to be reassuring military leaders about his plans, and signaling to the brass, through his personnel decisions, that “he will do nothing rash and will seek their advice, even while making clear that he may not always take it.”

Second, and just as importantly, Obama has an opportunity, which he plans to fully take advantage of, to make some changes that military leaders and Pentagon officials have wanted for years, but which Bush failed to even consider. Indeed, for all of the perceived conservatism of the military, Obama’s vision and agenda for the Pentagon is far more in line with officers’ beliefs than the current president’s.

This is all probably true, but I think there’s another, much more obvious, fact that gives Obama leverage over the military brass…politics. The usual comparisons being made involve Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, but Obama is in an infinitely better position than either of those two candidates. In Carter’s case, he was someone who was elected largely as an immediate response to Watergate, with his morality and squeaky clean personality, but was never taken seriously by the other halls of power, even in the Democratic Party. With Clinton, you had a new President who had only won 43% of the vote (even if it was a 3 way election, the fact remains that you don’t have a lot of leverage when 57% of all ballots go to someone other than you), and who was elected mostly on economic issues. In addition, Colin Powell was probably as well known as Clinton, and arguably more popular. He certainly carried more weight on matters of national security than Clinton.

Obama doesn’t really have these problems. His 53% of the popular vote and incredibly broad electoral victory give him a clear level of public support going in, he’s easily the most recognizable politician in the world these days, he may even be the most well known person in the entire world. He’s well respected by the political establishment, and he clearly understands how to handle the Beltway. There’s no military figure with the stature of Colin Powell at the moment, and certainly none who can stand on par with Obama. And, perhaps most importantly, the Iraq war has destroyed the Republican Party’s advantage on matters of foreign/military policy, at least for now, and have handed Obama a clear political lever to wedge against institutional opposition. It’s going to be quite a bit harder for the military to roll Obama vis a vis Iraq the way they rolled Clinton with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

So yeah, Adm. Mullen is a bit cowed at the moment, because the brass really has no leverage on the new President. That’s a welcome change to be sure, but not something Obama should rest on. A lot of these figures, especially Mullen, are where they are on the basis of having agreed with President Bush’s views of the Iraq war, and Obama would do well to remember that, and keep the leash tight. Very tight.

College Football’s Problems

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

Watching some of the games this weekend, and the ever present BCS handwringing going on, a couple of things occured to me. First of all, part of the reason that the BCS picture is “confusing” is because everyone on ESPN is tossing out all these various, not really likely to happen scenarios in quick succession, and viewers are bound to get lost. Secondly, most of these same problems would occur if you tried to shift the system to a playoff. How many mid-major conferences have a chance to get in? How many at large bids can one conference get? Can you count on the voters in the Harris and Coaches’ polls to make logical decisions? And while this may seem pretty trivial in that it will decide the 8th seed instead of the 1st and 2nd, largely, I think it’s rather more important than that. College Football as a lot more teams than, say, the NBA, and a wider distribution of power/talent. The #8 team is likely to be the 2nd best team in a major conference, and could possibly beat the #1 team in a single game. At the moment, Penn State, the Big 10 Champion, is sitting at #8 in the BCS rankings, and while they migt be underdogs in the game, I think most people would agree they’d be perfectly capable of upsetting Alabama with a little luck. So it seems to me that we’re getting so caught up in watching the BCS so much, that we’re missing a lot of the contributing factors that really create the mess inthe first place and, presumably, won’t be erased by a playoff. And with that in mind, after the jump, I humbly offer some ideas to make the end of the college football season a little less murky.

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Personnel and Policy

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Matt Stoller:

That said, it’s utterly absurd to think that personnel don’t frame an administration’s priorities.  One of Markos’s central arguments is that you should put people who don’t believe in government in charge of government, and he’s right.  But he’s right because the people in charge of stuff matter.

Bush puts conservatives in positions of authority, which is what a conservative President does.  A President puts people in charge who he thinks will best execute a policy, and usually those people execute policies they believe in.  Bob Borosage stated that “it’s not the personnel, it’s the policy”.  But of course, if Obama put Rumself in charge of DoD, that would suggest certain priorities and I think people would draw conclusions based on that pick.  If he brought Karl Rove into the White House to dispense political advice, it would be absurd.  Similarly, drawing on Cheney for advice on environmental policy would also be absurd.  But it would be absurd because personnel matters, and we all know that when it’s brought into stark relief.

So the pretense that personnel doesn’t matter, that there’s some airless container where good policy is divined and executed by bloodless technocrats according to a politician’s wishes is absurd.  And we know it in one realm, let’s just acknowledge it’s true.

Of course this is largely true, but I think the problem here is that Stoller is engaging in a rather extreme strawman argument. No one serious would disagree that it would be a bad idea to take environmental adivce from Dick Cheney, but then Obama isn’t considering such a course. And Larry Summer, Bob Gates, and Tim Geithner are not Don Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney. Stoller’s problem isn’t so much that it’s inaccurate, it’s that he’s using an argument of scale that no one else is using. And as such, he’s not really arguing the merits of any other pick, he’s trying to distract you with a semi-tangential comparison that draws you away from the main point of contention, but leaves you in agreement with him if you never go back to the actual question.

And as a commentor at Open Left points out, George W. Bush appointing the moderate Christine Todd Whitman didn’t really say very much about his approach to environmental policy.

Why Aren’t You Listening?

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Following up on what seems to be the point of the week, it looks like Barack Obama’s biggest early problem may simply be that people weren’t actually listening to him during the campaign, and are now ascribing a certain mindframe or set of positions to him he’s never articulated, as well as being surprised when Obama follows through on things he actively talked about in the campaign. Take E.J. Dionne’s Washington Post column today:

What’s most striking about Obama’s approach to foreign policy is that he is less an idealist than a realist who would advance American interests by diplomacy, by working to improve the country’s image abroad, and by using military force prudently and cautiously.

This sounds a lot like the foreign policy of George H.W. Bush, and it makes perfect sense that Obama has had conversations with the senior Bush’s closest foreign policy adviser, Brent Scowcroft. Obama has drawn counsel from many in Scowcroft’s circle, and Gates himself was deputy national security adviser under Scowcroft.

What exactly is “striking” about this? I don’t really know, but that may be because I was paying attention to more than the horserace during the campaign:

Barack Obama promised that his foreign policy would be a return to what he says was the realist approach practiced by George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

“My foreign policy is actually a return to the traditional realistic policy of George Bush’s father, of John F. Kennedy, of in some ways Ronald Reagan,” he said Friday.  A voter at the town hall in Greenburg had asked Obama to respond to charges that his foreign policy was naïveThat took about 5 seconds to find on Google. In fact, not counting two articles written today (including Dionne’s) it’s the very first hit when you search “Obama and Bush 41 and foreign policy.”

Striking!

What’s really bad about this, though, is that things like this should never happen in the age of Google. Obviously even the most attentive observer/commentator isn’t going to catch every single utterance made by a candidate during a campaign, but the internet lets you go back after the fact and do a bit of research before you write a WaPo Op-Ed. Indeed, if Dionne had Googled “Obama and Bush 41 and foreign policy,” the above is actually the very first result, not counting two articles published today (including Dionne’s).

On the one hand, I don’t want to be too harsh here, because Dionne s usually a pretty good writer, especially by the standards of major Op-Ed pages, but this sort of lax research before you go out and “analyze” the situation ought to just embarrass anyone, and Dionne’s next column ought to be an apology, or an explanation of why people who can’t use Google ought to be afforded column space in major newspapers.

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Gates

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Word is that Barack Obama has decided to keep Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, and Gates will remain in that position for at least the first year. I think this is good politics on numerous fronts, from giving Obama better political cover to withdraw from Iraq and pursue a new policy in Afghanistan to potentially co-opting the traditional realists (the Scowcroftians if you will) for the Democratic Party. But not everyone is happy:

This should be an open and shut case. If there was one message that Obama ran on loudly, clearly, and indisputably, it is that he was going to bring “change” to Washington, D.C.  If Gates were kept on as Secretary of Defense, it apparently would also mean that all of his top advisors would also stay on, and that it all happened because long-time D.C. operatives said it should. Keeping the same guy and all of his advisors at the behest of old establishment types is about as far from change as possible.

Secretary of Defense is the big enchilada. Arguably, due to the vast percentage of federal spending it receives, it is more important than all other cabinet secretaries combined. The President may be Commander in Chief, but it is the Secretary of Defense who is decides how most federal revenue is spent. We need change in the Department of Defense, and keeping Gates along with his entire team of advisors and assistants doesn’t fit the bill.

Now, there’s a lot of factual inaccuracies in that that should probably be corrected. For starters, the Secretary of State does not have the inherent authority to decide how “most” money is spent. Congress can direct spending and, technically, the President can override any decision any cabinet Secretary makes. If the President is inclined to broadly defer to a Secretary, then you have a different practical matter, but there’s nothing inherent about that, and it’s strictly a function of how the President wants to run his shop. Also, I don’t necessarily know which “advisers” Bowers is worried about staying on, but what we know about staffing thus far would seem to leave Bowers completely wrong on this front. Richard Danzig, who had been one of the only other people ever floated for the job and has been an Obama supporter all along, will be Gates’ deputy and, presumably, his eventual replacement at the top. And, according to Ackerman, the #3 job will be held by Michelle Flournoy, a Clinton administration veteran and Obama supporter. In other words, it looks like Bowers is just totally wrong, and other than Gates the Pentagon’s management team is going to be solidly composed of Obama’s people, people who one would assume will be elevated if and when Gates leaves.

But to be be frank, this is all getting a bit tiresome. We’ve been discussing the pros and cons of retaining Gates since July, Obama had said outright in the campaign that he’d be “open” to keeping Gates, and in the past few months the “informed specualtion” had more or less come to a consensus that Gates would remain at the Pentagon. No one was hoodwinked by this pick, and indeed it’s probably been one of the least surprising Obama has made thus far. Indeed, you haven’t really heard anyone else’s name discussed for the position in months. If he’s been paying attention to what Obama has said, there’s absolutely no reason he couldn’t have known about this months ago, and if bothered him so much he should have said as much, and voted for Ralph Nader. But you don’t get to support a guy, vote for a guy, tell other people to vote for a guy, and then complain when that guy does what he said he was going to do.

On the Boat

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

James Dobson responded to Kathleen Parker’s argument that social conservatives are a drag on the GOP, and right off the bat I think you get everything you need to know about the state of conservatism:

So, Kathleen Parker has determined that getting rid of social conservatives and shelving the values they fight for is the solution to what ails the Republican Party. Isn’t that a little like Benedict Arnold handing George Washington a battle plan to win the Revolution?

Whatever she once was, Ms. Parker is certainly not a conservative anymore, having apparently realized it’s a lot easier to be popular among your journalistic peers when your keyboard tilts to the left.

To be fair, Dobson does go on to address Parker’s argument in somewhat convincing fashion, although that probably has more to do with the fact that Parker’s original piece was pretty poorly argued than anything else. And I also remain somewhat unconvinced that Parker has much credibility to shun the culture war, she has, after all, written Save the Males, and, before her Palin apostasy, was best known for a column arguing that Obama wasn’t a “full-blooded American.”

But still, Dobson doesn’t miss the required step of staking out the boundaries of “team conservative,” making sure it leaves Parker on the outside looking in. It’s sort of tempting to ask why, she hasn’t really renounced any of her old arguments or embraced any liberal-progressive ideas, but we already know the answer. Parker demurred on the tenet of true-believership in criticizing the Palin pick and thinking that, perhaps, the GOP’s problem was something other than insufficient wingnuttery. And that will get you kicked off the right-wing boat every single time. Nothing is so important as toeing the “big issues” line, and in part because Dobson & Co don’t really know how to deal with the sort of center-right criticism Parker is offering, all they can do is pull the cocoon tighter. But of course, that just excludes more and more people, shrinking their coalition further.

At some point you have to wonder if it will dawn on them that the point of politics is expanding your coaliton.

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Priorities

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Jane Hamsher:

Look, for people who convinced themselves that Obama was the second coming of Saul Alinsky — wake up.  He never was.  He may, however, be the most progressive person we could have possibly hoped to elect as President of the United States.  

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to help keep the obstructionists off his back and push him to fulfill his campaign promises to end the war, pass health care legislation and the Employee Free Choice Act, clean up the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, repair our infrastructure, create good jobs and restore the middle class. 

I agree with all of those positions, and I agree, broadly, with the proposals Obama has put forward on those issues. But I’ve been around politics long enough to know that it’s rather unlikely Obama will be able to pass all of those things, especially in his first term. At the very least, it’s likely that some things will have to go on the back burner. And because of this, it’ very important that Obama, and Congressional Democrats, prioritize their agenda. Obama has been pretty clear on his priorities (stimulus, energy, healthcare), but thus far I haven’t seen much of a debate in the blogosphere to this effect. Do we generally agree with this prioritization, or have we not given much thought to potential trade-offs yet?

Good Politics

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Lots of people still don’t like Joe Lieberman:

Lieberman lies and lies again. And when Shelly Sindland calls him on the lying, Lieberman just lies some more. But it doesn’t matter to him, simply because he’s never had to pay any real price for the years of lies and the backstabbing. That’s just politics to Joe Lieberman. And not surprising in the slightest is the ass-kissing of Barack Obama. Expect his lips to be firmly planted there for the foreseeable future.

Now, I supported leaving Lieberman as is, and I certainly didn’t equate Obama to Bush for lobbying to that effect in the Democratic caucus, so take this for what it’s worth, but what I read in the above is exactly why it was good politics to leave Lieberman alone. In short, Lieberman is basically neutered.

Imagine, for a second, what Lieberman would have been saying if he’d have been removed from his chair, something to the effect that he was honest with the American people, that he supported the candidate he thought was best, and that the Democrats punished him for it with Obama’s blessing, probably proving Obama is as partisan as Karl Rove. And the Beltway press would have eaten it up. Instead, Lieberman is forced to say lots of nice things about Obama, to walk back his opposition from te campaign, and to generally be a good Democrat. He has no credibility to be a critic at this point, and if he tries it will be him coming out looking like an asshole.

This demonstrates that Obama and Senate Democrats have the sort of knack for thinking through the strategic consequences of decisions that have been totally absent during the past 8 years, a very encouraging sign, and is further evidence in favor of the ironic reality that visceral opposition is often born out of underlying similarities. In this case, while there’s no doubt Kos loathed the Bush administration, at the end of the day the underlying personality of Markos and Bush/Rove is one in the same.

Cabinet Limitations

Monday, November 24th, 2008

There’s been a fair amount of hand-wringing over the ideological makeup of the Obama cabinet as it comes together, specifically that it lacks progressives, and this signals that Obama isn’t going to be all that progressive. This is, I think, a very bad way of understanding cabinet positions and staff around the President.

On the one hand, there’s political considerations involved. Unseemly as it may be, politics matters in policy, and Presidents ignore that at their own peril. So, for example, the argument for keeping Gates at defense is that, if he’s on board with Obama’s withdrawl plans, having a Republican in place gives you a measure of political cover for the plan. And if it works out that way, it’s very good politics. Similarly, you want people in place who know how to both manage federal beuracracies, and twist arms on the hill.

Also, it’s also important to get past the person, and look at the policy. Larry Summers might not be generally regarded as a flaming progressive, but he has been advocating real progressive policies in response to the economic crisis. Similarly, Tom Daschle is very progressive on healthcare reform. If “centrist” technocrats produce progressive policy outcomes, are we really going to quibble about who was put in place? Do you care if your #9 hitter hits a grand slam instead of your clean up guy?

But most important, it’s very important to remember that an adviser is only worth as much as the person being advised will allow. Colin Powell may have been Bush’s first Secretary of State, but it as pretty clear that the President wasn’t paying much attention to him. Thus, who Obama has the most faith in will play a very large role in how he’s advised. And maybe most importantly of all, Obama is not Bush. That is to say, he’s not an incurious fool who surrounds himself with people who agree with him all of the time. He’s someone who has given serious thought to issues and policies, has well formed opinions and ideas about them, and likes to be around people who will challenge his assumptions, point out flaws in his reasoning, and so on. So it’s entirely possible that the inclusion of a lot of “moderates” is evidence the Obama himself is very much a progressive, and as such he doesn’t feel like he needs a slew of like minded advisers around him.

Now, none of this is meant to be taken as some definitive statement that I have the key insight to Barack Obama’s administration. I don’t, and neither do you. And that’s the point; unless Obama explains the thought process going into every pick, we really can’t speculate as to what might have factored. And as such, we ought to focus less on the who, and more on the what. Because at the end of the day, the goal is creating sound policy. Who exactly does that doesn’t much matter.

Bringing Teh Funneh

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Well here’s a nice way to start the week. Last Thursday, Glenn Greenwald caught National Review’s “legal expert” Andy McCarthy in a rather rudimentary factual error:

One of the most significant aspects of Thursday’s judicial ruling ordering the release of 5 Guantanamo detainees is that it came from Federal District Judge Richard Leon.  Leon is an appointee of the very President whose decisions on these detainees he overrode and whose evidence he rejected as woefully inadequate — George W. Bush.  It was Leon himself who ruled in the first instance that Guantanamo detainees have no right to habeas corpus — the decision which the Supreme Court ultimately reversed in Boumediene

Before Leon was appointed by Bush to the bench, he was a long-time right-wing operative.  That such an emphatic repudiation of Bush’s arguments justifying these detentions came from this judge — appointed at the height of Bush 43’s “War on Terror” popularity and power in 2002 — underscored how unjustified the detentions were and how flimsy was the evidence on which they were based.

But readers of National Review and Andy McCarthy wouldn’t know any of this.  That’s because, when McCarthy wrote about this ruling on Thursday, and vehemently criticized it, he stated, falsely, that Judge Leon was appointed by Bush’s father, not by Bush himself

Greenwald emailed McCarthy and K-Lo, and no correction was ever made. Media Matters had a note on it this morning.

Not to fear however, McCarthy has finally been able to check his email:

Last Thursday, in a post about the ordered release of five Algerian detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, I erroneously identified the judge who issued the order, Richard Leon, as “a Bush 41 appointee.” In fact, he was appointed to the bench by the current President Bush (Bush 43). I thank the careful Corner readers who noticed the error — and I apologize for not getting to their e-mails earlier.

Did you catch that? It was “careful Corner readers” who pointed it out. It certainly wasn’t Glenn Greenwald and Media Matters prominently displaying the lack of concern for basic facts at NRO or anything.

This is why right-wing blowhards like Hannity and O’Reilly despise Media Matters so much; because MM points out and catalogues inaccuracies coming out of the right-wing noise machine, and anyone who wants to be taken semi-seriously can no longer get away with just making things up anymore. It’s been a very important step for the left, and if you can, you should really consider donating to Media Matters. It’s important work they’re doing.

Meet the new Boss…

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Hal Steinbrenner is nor officially running the Yankees. Yep, that’s Hal, not Hank, although I’m sure that’s not going to quiet the latter down any. But it turns out there might not be all that much reason to expect a lot of differences to come about:

CC Sabathia will have a deadline to accept the New York Yankees’ contract proposal.

“We’ve made him an offer. It’s not going to be there forever,” Hal Steinbrenner said Thursday after he was approved as the team’s new controlling owner during a meeting at Major League Baseball headquarters.

I really don’t get the thought process here. On the one hand, I very much doubt anyone actually believes what Steinbrenner is saying. After all, Brian Cashman told everyone that A-Rod was done in stripes if he opted out of his contract, and then A-Rod opted out of his contract and is not only still playing for the Yankees, he’s making more money than before. So it doesn’t really have a lot of credibility behind it.

But I’m not sure why exactly you want to go out there and antagonize the best pitcher on the market, especially at a time when your rotation is in shambles and you desperately need not just new starters, but a legitimate ace. It seems to me that the Steinbrenners are still acting as if it’s some sort of priviledge for a major leaguer to play for the Yankees, which is rather silly. But to make it worse, by every report Sabathia doesn’t want to pitch for the Bombers. He doesn’t want the pressure that goes with being a Yankee, he wants to pitch in his home state of California, and he wants to stay in the National League. So why exactly are you acting like an asshole to him before he signs the contract? Do you really think one of the Los Angeles teams, or San Francisco, won’t find $150 million for C.C. after the season he had last year?

And let’s be absolutely clear; the Yankees need Sabathia. He’s not some luxury item they’re talking about because they’re the Yankees, he’s a necessity. Boston and Tampa Bay have excellent starters at the top of their rotations, while all the Yankees have are question marks. Chien Ming Wang is coming off of an injury (and a disastrous 2007 ALDS), Andy Pettite (if he comes back) is old, and Joba Chamberlain’s arm is about as durable as an antique vase. None of those guys have really established that they can be dominant, #1 pitchers in the AL East, and that’s a real problem when you’re looking up at Kazmir-Shields-Garza and Beckett-Matsusaka-Lester.

And I very much doubt Sabathia regards the Yankees’ proposal as an offer he can’t refuse. Yes $140 million would be record contract for a pitcher, but only by $3 million. Not exactly stretching by the Yankees. And every team mentioned as having interest certainly understands that it’s going to take something between $140-$150 mil, at least, to land him. It’s pretty clear that CC’s best option is waiting to see if the Dodgers and Angels retain Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira, respectively, and if either one heads elsewhere how deep interest runs for him in L.A. If the Dodgers make a serious offer, the Yankees are going to have to seriously up the ante to stay relevant, and making threats isn’ta very good way to warm a guy up to you.

And before anyone says anything, no, there are not other options on the market. I know the Yankees are interested in Derek Lowe and AJ Burnett, but neither of those guys are #1 starters, neither are C.C. Sabathia, both are into their 30’s, and even together they’re no substitute for the big guy at the top of the Yankees rotation. So the Steinbrenners would do well to learn a bit of the art of buttering up, they don’t have anyone over a barrel.

42-7

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

And Michigan ends the year 3-9.

On the one hand, I’m incredibly amused by Michigan’s misfortune, but on the other hand it’s much more fun to blow out a good Michigan team. And while I think Rick Rodriguez will ultimately be ok, I’m not sold on the idea that it’s a good idea to bring “outsiders” into programs so steeped in tradition. Ohio State went that route with John Cooper, and while we had some success, we got rolled by Michigan. And for all Jim Tressel’s flaws, he’s an Ohio State guy intimately familiar with tradition, and whatever problems I may have with him, he beats Michigan. So at the end of the day I’m happy.

Back

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

After a hiatus for tech problems, everything is back to normal.Major hat tip to Brunski, who does our tech work over in The Forum. Network Solutions has supposedly been working on the problem since Thursday morning, but he fixed it in about 10 minutes. So don’t use Network Solutions if you can help it.