CULTURE: A snap shot of just one common

…….but sadly common stories we see in public schools. Why Shakir Can’t Read is one of today’s must reads

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This post was written by bobsikes on June 29, 2008

METS: Mets not holding up their end of the Santana deal

Says Mike Bauman.

Bauman, a national correspondant for, offers an interesting perspective as he’s not a observer of the Mets on a daily basis. But I think he’s right.

The question is not whether Johan Santana is good enough to merit the largest pitching contract in history. The question is whether the New York Mets are going to be good enough to fully benefit from Santana’s presence.
In a real-world sense, nobody deserves $137.5 million over six years unless he or she is discovering a cure for cancer. But in a baseball sense, this is what the market allows Santana to make, and it is not his fault for being able to make it.

Good job by Bauman puting the money in its proper perspective. Here’s more:

Is it money well spent for the Mets? It is impossible to know that three months into a six-year deal. But this much is certain: Nobody would spend that kind of money for a pitcher to perform on a .500 team. The Mets obviously expected much more of themselves this season, but at the moment, with the mathematical midpoint of the season one game away, they are 39-41.

If the Mets are unable to put a better line-up on the field beyond David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, Santana’s career may parallel that path taken by Steve Charlton. The current sum of the parts are not good and play just well enough to play .500. It was on display during last night’s loss to Andy Pettitte and the Yankees.

While there is clearly no shame in being bested by a big game legend as Pettitte, the Mets have no such luxury. They cannot waste Santana’s starts and allow him to get beat by a run at home. Santana has now gottem the loss in four of his last five starts. His last win was on June 1st against the Dodgers at Shea. That June 1st win was the only one among six June starts by Santana the Mets were victorius.

Posted under METS

This post was written by bobsikes on June 29, 2008

POLITICS: Positive Polling for McCain

…in four swing states. From the Weekly Standard Blog comes polling that indicate voters in Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconcin favor keeping troops in Iraq until its stable as opposed to Senator Obama’s plan to withdraw with 18 months. Maybe these are the sort inner polling data that drives Senator McCain’s priorities on the campaign trail.

Posted under POLITICS

This post was written by bobsikes on June 29, 2008

METS: Thoughts about yesterday

1. With all the golly gee willipers about Carlos Delgado’s 1st game heroics, nobody has mentioned that he put those numbers up as a DH and in an American League park. He was 0-2 with two BB’s in the night cap at Shea – while playing 1st base.

2. If you are a good ballclub, you don’t get shut down by Sidney Ponson on a Friday night at Shea against the Yankees.

3. Mike Steffanos calls out Omar Minaya and focuses on the frailties of the farm system.

Posted under METS

This post was written by bobsikes on June 28, 2008

Like Father, Like Son

My son, Rob, has started blogging. More later.

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This post was written by bobsikes on June 27, 2008

METS: Someone Remembers Jim Plummer

Reader Robert C was kind enough to leave this wonderful testimony to the kind of person Plummer was.

In the late 1970s I had the good fortune to be coached by Jim Plummer, or “Mr. Plummer” was we all knew him, in little league baseball and football. At the time I was a young, impressionable teenager in need of a role model to look up to. I remember joining the bantam football team for the Northern Blvd. Athletic Association, despite being a year too young and one of the smallest players in the league, because I had such respect and admiration for him. At first my parents were hesitant, however with Mr. Plummer they felt I was in good hands and they knew they could trust him to look out for my well being. I can honestly say that he was not only a coach, but someone who served as a role model during this critical time in my life. One of my lasting impressions of Mr. Plummer was his old, beat up brown car with the trunk lock punched out. We had to pop open the trunk with a screw driver to get the equipment. We often ribbed him about this jalopy and yet he always took it in good nature. Occasionally, he would round up some of us to sit in the press box and watch a Met game at Shea. One time, unbeknown to us, he summoned us to the field to sit in the dugout and meet several players before the start of a game – a thrill of life time. It has sometimes been said that truly special people often leave us with a gift that we take with us as we move on with our lives. I know personally, now that I work with kids, I often find myself emulating Mr. Plummer and passing on the wisdom he shared with me. Thanks Jim for being a part of my

Thanks, Robert

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This post was written by bobsikes on June 27, 2008

POITICS: Conservative Writers Advance Via Blogging

David Brooks has a fascinating column on the rise in the careers of several conservative writers. He asserts that they have acheived this through blogging.

These writers came of age as official conservatism slipped into decrepitude. Most of them were dismayed by what the Republican Party had become under Tom DeLay and seemed put off by the shock-jock rhetorical style of Ann Coulter. As a result, most have the conviction — which was rare in earlier generations — that something is fundamentally wrong with the right, and it needs to be fixed.

Moreover, most of these writers did not rise through the official channels of the conservative or libertarian establishments. By and large, they didn’t do the internships or take part in the young leader programs that were designed to replenish “the movement.” Instead, they found their voices while blogging. The new technology allowed them to create a new sort of career path and test out opinions without much adult supervision.

As a consequence, they are heterodox and hard to label. These writers grew up reading conservative classics — Burke, Hayek, Smith, C.S. Lewis — but have now splayed off in all sorts of quirky ideological directions.

There are dozens of writers I could put in this group, but I’d certainly mention Yuval Levin, Daniel Larison, Will Wilkinson, Julian Sanchez, James Poulos, Megan McArdle, Matt Continetti and, though he’s a tad older, Ramesh Ponnuru.

But Brooks saves his highest praise for two others whom he knows well.

Ross Douthat and my former assistant, Reihan Salam, are two of the most promising. This pair has just come out with a book called “Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.”

There have been other outstanding books on how the G.O.P. can rediscover its soul (like “Comeback” by David Frum), but if I could put one book on the desk of every Republican officeholder, “Grand New Party” would be it. You can discount my praise because of my friendship with the authors, but this is the best single roadmap of where the party should and is likely to head.

Several years ago, Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor, said the Republicans should be the party of Sam’s Club, not the country club. This line is the animating spirit of “Grand New Party.” Douthat and Salam argue that the Republicans rode to the majority because of support from the Reagan Democrats, and if the party has a future, it will be because it understands the dreams and tribulations of working-class Americans.

They open the book with a working-class view of recent American history. Douthat and Salam write admiringly about the New Deal. They mention Roosevelt’s economic policies, but they also emphasize the New Deal’s intense social conservatism. Self-conscious maternalists like Eleanor Roosevelt and Frances Perkins ensured that New Deal programs were biased in favor of traditional two-parent families.

Liberals write about economic inequality and conservatives about social disruption, but Douthat and Salam write about the interplay between values and economics and the way virtue and economic security can reinforce each other.

I love Govenor Pawlenty’s metaphor about Sam’s Club. It speaks a bit to why even many solid Democrats are puzzled by many of its party’s congressional leaders go after Wal Mart to curry favor with labor unions. I’d imagine many families whose bread winners are in labor unions – I am – shop at Wal Mart. It might be wise of Republicans to review Obama’s involvement with the Wal Mart wars that have occurred in Chicago.

Brooks continues with support for Grand New Party’s emphasis.

In the 1950s, divorce rates were low and jobs were plentiful, but over the next few decades that broke down. The social revolutions of the 1960s and the economic revolution of the information age have emancipated the well-educated but left the Sam’s Club voters feeling insecure.

Gaps are opening between the educated and less educated. Working-class divorce rates remain high, while the mostly upper-middle-class parents of Ivy Leaguers have divorce rates of only 10 percent. Working-class kids are unlikely to complete college, affluent kids usually do.

Liberals have a way to address these inequalities — the creation of a Denmark-style welfare state. Conservatives have offered almost nothing. The G.O.P. has lost contact with its own working-class base. This is the intellectual vacuum that “Grand New Party” seeks to fill.

The heart of the book is the last third, where Douthat and Salam lay out a series of policy ideas to help working-class families cope with economic, health care, neighborhood and family insecurity.

“What all these ideas, from the sober to the speculative, have in common is a vision of working-class independence — from bosses, from bureaucracy, from entrenched interests of all kinds,” Douthat and Salam write. This is not compassionate conservatism (which flattered the mind of the compassionate donor), it’s hard-work conservatism, which uses government to increase the odds that self-discipline and effort will pay off.

I’m not sure how quickly the G.O.P. can swing behind this working-class focus and this vision of government-enhanced social mobility. But the McCain campaign really needs to. So far, McCain’s platform is like an omnibus spending bill — lots of decent ideas thrown together with no larger social vision.

Its hard not to agree with Brook’s assessment of the McCain campaign. Its been boring, uninspiring and without firm clarities.

This being said McCain’s stances on two issues are supported by recent events. First, the success in Iraq and the war against AQ. Second, his advocacy for the appointment of SCOTUS appointees who will strictly enforce the constitution. The recent decison to allow terrorists kept at Gitmo access to our legal system indeed sends chills through the majority of Americans.

McCain’s people must know this and the only reason they are holding fire right now is that they just don’t want to use these bullets right now.

I’d like to add two more favorite conservative bloggers that I hope one day will be writing books of their own – Betsy Newmark and Ed Morrissey.

H/T: Lucianne

Posted under POLITICS

This post was written by bobsikes on June 27, 2008

METS: B-Cyclone story debunked

by the great reporting of Toby Hyde and Mark Healy.

Thanks to Metsblog for providing the links and being the final word.

Posted under METS

This post was written by bobsikes on June 27, 2008

POLITICS: A reason for McCain to lean Romney

Writing in the excellent Weekly Standard blog, Jaime Sneider points out why McCain should consider Mitt Romney as his running mate.

Looking at this chart of swing states, it becomes clear who John McCain’s choice for VP should be. McCain should select Mitt Romney as his running mate. This move would put Nevada in the Republican category and, at the very least, make Michigan a “toss up” if not “leans Republican.” To the extent Romney supporters are willing to travel to nearby Colorado and New Mexico, it could also ensure that McCain has a much needed, fairly active get out the vote effort in the southwest.

There are arguments made against choosing running mates for electoral purposes, but America understands how the Electoral College works. If Sneider is correct and Romney helps deliver the southwest, it can swing more states to McCain.

I’ve felt the chattering classes have been over playing evangelical Christian and southern voters aversions to Romney. And the fact that he is plausible as president helps. Romney is also extremely effective on the stump.

Posted under POLITICS

This post was written by bobsikes on June 26, 2008