PowerLine -> An Investigation Of Nothing, Graphic Version – Jennifer Rubin swings and misses at Jeff Sessions

PowerLine -> An Investigation Of Nothing, Graphic Version – Jennifer Rubin swings and misses at Jeff Sessions

Daily Digest


  • An Investigation Of Nothing, Graphic Version
  • Yesterday in baseball history: A Tommy John masterpiece
  • Conservatives Are Ugly, Too
  • No Ubermench at Uber
  • Jennifer Rubin swings and misses at Jeff Sessions
An Investigation Of Nothing, Graphic Version

Posted: 14 Jun 2017 04:29 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

In Washington, the “Russia investigation” gallops along. No doubt intelligence people are making a serious effort to diagnose hacking by Russians (or others), and figure out what to do about it. But that has nothing to do with the faux investigation that Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee and soon, I am afraid, Robert Mueller will be carrying out. I think Michael Ramirez may have gotten the idea for this cartoon from my post, An Investigation of Nothing. In any event, it sums up the sad state of affairs in Washington very well. Click to enlarge:

Yesterday in baseball history: A Tommy John masterpiece

Posted: 14 Jun 2017 03:21 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

June 13, 1967, was my high school graduation day. In honor of the occasion, my best friend’s father took us to D.C. Stadium (now RFK) to see the last place Washington Senators play the first place Chicago White Sox.

I always sat in the cheap seats. However, my friend’s father bought us seats near the field on the first base side.

We had barely settled into those seats when the White Sox grabbed a 2-0 lead. Walt “No Neck” Williams led off the first inning with an infield single. Don Buford followed with a single and the next batter, Tommie Agee, doubled them both home. The inning ended when Agee was caught trying to steal home.

Our seats gave us a great sense of the disparity in team speed. White Sox like Williams, Buford, and Agee streaked to first base. Senators like Frank Howard, Cap Peterson, and Ken McMullen plodded their way down the line.

We had plenty of opportunities to see them plod because White Sox pitcher Tommy John had our heroes beating the ball into the ground. Fourteen Senators grounded out; nine struck out; only two hit fly-ball outs.

In the end, Washington scored no runs on just three hits. The final score was 6-0.

The box score says McMullen doubled in the fourth inning, so there probably was at least one well-hit ball off of John. But that was about it.

This was as commanding a pitching performance as I’ve seen in person. It ranks alongside Mel Stottlemyre’s performance against Washington on the opening day of the same year, which I also attended with my friend and his father. Stottlemyre gave up no runs and only two hits that day. He struck out six and recorded 16 outs on ground balls.

I don’t follow the contemporary statistical analysis of baseball closely — not because it isn’t interesting and valuable (it is) but because I’m not that into contemporary baseball. I am aware, though, of a statistic called fielding independent pitching (FIP).

FIP measures pitchers solely on the events a pitcher has the most control over — strikeouts, unintentional walks, hit-by-pitches and home runs. It entirely removes results on balls hit into the field of play.

FIP will tend to favor pitchers who get their outs through strike outs. It will tend to disfavor pitchers who get them through ground balls, although these pitchers are rewarded if they don’t allow many home runs.

Tommy John ranks 310 on this list of best all-time FIP. Stottlemyre ranks 300. (Greg Maddux comes in at 246). There are plenty of pitchers ahead of John and Stottlemyre that I wouldn’t rate as nearly their equal.

But John wasn’t a strike-out pitcher. He never fanned more than 138 batters in a season. For his career, he struck out fewer than one per two innings. The same is true of Stottlemyre. Yet, John won 288 games and nine times posted an ERA of under 3.00 and Stottlemyre’s career ERA (for a much shorter career) is under 3.00.

I understand that the latest statistical trend in baseball is to focus on the “launch angle” of batted balls. The higher the angle, the better — the theory goes — because fly balls are vastly preferable to ground balls.

Indeed, we’re seeing a “fly ball revolution” led by players like Josh Donaldson and Daniel Murphy. Ryan Zimmerman is said to have revived his career (and the improvement in his numbers this year is staggering) because he has improved his launch angle (being healthy hasn’t hurt either). For some batters, “say no to ground balls” has become the mantra.

If hitters gain a big advantage by avoiding grounders, then pitchers must gain a big advantage by inducing them. I’m assuming here that the pitcher has some effect on how his deliveries are hit — surely a correct assumption.

Thus, if launch angle and the fly ball revolution become prevailing wisdom ( FiveThirtyEight says it’s hurting as many hitters as it’s helping), we should see — and probably have already seen — new respect for pitchers who induce ground balls. I have respected them greatly ever since watching Mel Stottlemyre and Tommy John pitch 50 years ago.

STEVE adds: For what it’s worth, I was at Dodger stadium at the game in the summer of 1974 when Tommy John blew out his elbow in what would previously have been a career-ending injury, but instead led to what became known as “Tommy John surgery” pioneered by the great sports surgeon Frank Jobe. I vaguely recall a cracking sound and John letting out a shout of some kind when it happened (though my attention was divided as I was flirting with a girl through the middle innings), and walking directly from the mound, but it wasn’t until the next day that the public knew how bad it had been.

Conservatives Are Ugly, Too

Posted: 14 Jun 2017 02:46 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

Back in January, I reported here on social science research that concluded that conservative politicians are better looking than liberal politicians, but do you really need social science to prove this? Here’s one data set:

However, while conservative politicians may be better looking, there’s new social science that concludes liberal thinkers and writers are better looking than conservative thinkers and writers. Here’s a news summary:

Lönnqvist’s team of researchers looked at the 100 most recent authors of articles found in two right-leaning scholarly American magazines (Claremont Review of Books and First Things), and in two left-leaning magazines (New York Review of Books and The Humanist Magazine). The team obtained professional portraits of each of the 400 authors, and research assistants were then asked to rate the individuals based on “physical attractiveness, placement on the continuum Right–Left and placement on the continuum Conservative–Liberal.”

Hey wait a minute—I’m a Claremont Review of Books author! So I’m in this sample. I’ve just been called ugly by a social scientist. (A Finnish social scientist at that.)

There is this additional bit though:

The results showed that the more attractive scholars came from the liberal publications, though the authors on the right were viewed as better groomed.

So in other words, we bathe more often than liberals. I could have also told you that without a regression analysis.

The study appeared in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (though I’m confused: I thought, according to liberals, we’re all equal and there are no “individual differences”). The whole article is behind a paywall, but I was able to hack my way through. Here’s my favorite part:

“Science” in action. This “lookist” aggression and marginalization will not stand!

No Ubermench at Uber

Posted: 14 Jun 2017 10:55 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

I’m a big Uber user and fan, partly because it works really well, and also partly because the company defies regulators, starting up in many cities without asking permission and then mobilizing their happy (and typically elite) customer base when the taxi cartels try to use the power of government to stifle this innovative competition. The left hates Uber, precisely because it is impossible to unionize and regulate in a customary way.

On the other hand, Uber appears to embody everything that is wrong with Silicon Valley. The stories of rampant drug use, sexism, and a “frat boy” culture at the office typifies the Silicon Valley culture that thinks the rules don’t apply to them while proclaiming their liberal virtue. The story out today about the “temporary” sidelining of founder/CEO Travis Kalanick includes this wonderful episode from yesterday’s company-wide meeting, as reported this morning in the Wall Street Journal:

The private-equity billionaire [David Bonderman] appeared to try to offer light humor when he interrupted fellow Uber director and media magnate Arianna Huffington, who in her remarks announced to applause the company’s recent appointment of a second female board member, Wan Ling Martello.

“There’s a lot of data,” Ms. Huffington said, “that shows when there’s one woman on the board it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board.”

“Actually,” Mr. Bonderman said, “what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.”

Bonderman was forced to resign from the board within hours. Okay, a totally dumb joke. Did Bonderman think it’s 1962 or that he’s on the set of Man Men? In any case, it is clear that there will be no ubermensches tolerated at Uber.

But pause for a moment and ask yourself: Why is Arianna Huffington on the board of Uber? She has no expertise in tech (Andrew Breitbart was the actual brains behind the Huffington Post) or transportation. Mary Barra of GM would be a more suitable board member for Uber. Why not Elaine Chao (before she went back into the current administration)? Huffington is on the board for the simple reason that she’s a trendy liberal; it’s a form of Silicon Valley virtue signaling.

Uber, still a private company, currently has a notional value north of $70 billion, but it lost $2.8 billion last year, and may not make it. It could end up as MySpace to Lyft’s Facebook.

Jennifer Rubin swings and misses at Jeff Sessions

Posted: 14 Jun 2017 10:09 AM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin tries to salvage something for the anti-Trump cause from Jeff Sessions’ testimony yesterday. Grasping at straws, she characterizes as “exceptionally weak,” Sessions’ explanation of why his recusal from the Russia investigation didn’t preclude him from participating in the decision to fire the FBI director, James Comey.

Sessions’ explanation of why he wasn’t precluded from involvement in the Comey firing is straightforward. In his written testimony, he stated:

The scope of my recusal, however, does not and cannot interfere with my ability to oversee the Department of Justice, including the FBI, which has an $8 billion budget and 35,000 employees. I presented to the President my concerns, and those of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, about the ongoing leadership issues at the FBI as stated in my letter recommending the removal of Mr. Comey along with the Deputy Attorney General’s memorandum, which have been released publicly by the White House. It is a clear statement of my views.

It is absurd, frankly, to suggest that a recusal from a single specific investigation would render an Attorney General unable to manage the leadership of the various Department of Justice law enforcement components that conduct thousands of investigations.

The FBI is a critical arm of the Justice Department. Sessions is in charge of managing the Justice Department. Thus, there is nothing “exceptionally weak” about his claim that the recusal from the Russia investigation doesn’t preclude him from weighing in on whether the FBI director is good enough at his job to retain it.

If Sessions had concluded that Comey isn’t good enough at this job because of the way he was handling the Russia investigation, that might create an argument that Sessions violated the terms of the recusal. But Sessions’ letter to President Trump recommending the firing of Comey isn’t based on the Russia investigation. Rather, it is based on the views of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — views founded not on “Russia,” but rather on Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation and his subsequent stubborn refusal (so characteristic of the man) to accept that he made mistakes.

Rubin points out that Trump based the firing decision, not on the reasons given by Rosenstein and Sessions, but on the Russia investigation. But that wasn’t Sessions’ basis for the recommendation. Sessions, in incorporating Rosenstein’s reasons, based his recommendation on matters unrelated to “Russia.”

Others have argued that recommending Comey’s discharge based on his handling of the email investigation would itself violate the terms of the recusal because the email investigation was part and parcel of the 2016 presidential campaign. This desperate argument cannot be squared with the “terms” of the recusal.

When he recused himself, Sessions said:

During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior career Department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matters arising from the campaigns for President of the United States.

Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.

(Emphasis added)

As far as we know, there is no existing investigation of the Clinton email scandal. Comey closed that investigation last Fall. Thus, Sessions did not violate the terms of his recusal by recommending to Trump that the FBI director be fired based on the reasons stated in the Rosenstein memo.

There is nothing “exceptionally weak” about Sessions’ explanation of the scope of his recusal. His recusal did not preclude him from overseeing the FBI and informing the president about how its director was performing, at least on matters unrelated to the Russia investigation. If Trump-haters like Rubin weren’t so obsessed with alleged Trump “collusion” with Russia — for which there is no evidence — they might understand this.

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