118 Comments

"Boo. No me gusta. Make it stop. Kill it with fire."--I love it. But I think I'm going to disagree because I think few fans care much about the reasons for a decision as they do about seeing athleticism and closely-contested games. And if they are so much into inside baseball that they think the spreadsheet is wrong regarding what should be done, they can think so, and debate it, still.

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Totally agree, JVL. Hate this statistics-driven age. Hope it passes. And sorry, I'm a Yankees fan.

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Nancy, I don't know whether you hate the statistics-driven age because it makes it hard to debate about the right decision or because it pushes teams to do things that are aesthetically unappealing. If it's the latter, you may like the new rules that MLB is implementing next year to make the game be more like it used to be.

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I might! I am definitely going to give it a chance... I will never give up on baseball! Thanks, David⚾️

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Good stuff. If you're giving props to Dodgers fun ball, how about a clip from 2022? Trea still making that cool slide this year?

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How many times does Trump have to show us who he really is and tell us what he actually thinks before the MAGA cult begin to realize he isn't the very different person they've been insisting he is?

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There's about 30% of the population of the world (not just US) that has a proclivity toward authoritarianism in all its forms. Normally, that instinct is muted. However, in times of crisis, fear, etc. the switch is flipped on.

That switch was turned on in the US via conservative media (slowly + methodically) for decades. Stoking fear over ridiculous stuff, ya know "war on christmas" and all that. Now it's fully on, duct-taped down, locked into 'on' position with reinforced steel...well, you get the metaphor.

Even if they know it's all bs from Trump and he's nothing "like them" the self-aware ones (as Tim recounts in his fantastic book) have deluded themselves because they HATE (not disagree or dislike, actively HATE) the other side. Polarization at it's peak is bad and leads people to ignore reality in favor of team supporting fiction.

At this point, anything is justifiable and that's what is troubling. The trend isn't surprising, and Americans are no less immune to authoritarian tendencies than any other people. It's not a stretch to go from "the election was rigged, we should primary all the people who upheld the vote" to straight up violence and murder.

The way this ends is how former extremists exit hate groups. Slowly and painfully, one at a time, sometimes over years or even decades, with a lot of wavering and back-and-forth mixed in. Trump is just a figurehead that tied a lot of people to the GOP, but after he's gone the same tendencies that have been built up over decades remain.

The biggest component preventing the cracks in the wall from appearing is the conservative media ecosystem that's been built up, particularly online (plus a dash of Carlson's Fox News show to boot).

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Very nice to see some words about the Dodgers! And to follow with comments about analytics - all I can say in response is thanks to the Dodgers we root for at our house: there are things beyond the numbers, like Trey's slide, Mookie's spirit, Kershaw, keeping with your players (like Justin Turner) who can turn it around and catch fire before the playoffs. Hate us 'cause they ain't us!

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Trump kept a copy of Mein Kampf on his nightstand during his marriage to Ivanna, she reportedly once disclosed. He has always played footsies with dictators, it seems.

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In terms of the irony, I pick maddening.

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Could be both.

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Amazing article on the British Monarchy succession process.

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I have reflected all day, while re-potting and rejuvenuting my (numerous!) houseplants on why I feel somewhat overwhelming grief for the death of Queen Elizabeth. I posted earlier, after I had just heard, and after reading JVL’s reprise of the article I had also read earlier, and I knew I was just sad.

Now that I have marinated in it awhile, I am a little more clear on why I feel as I do.

She was the last world leader , regularly seen on all media, who exhibited decency, kindness, compassion, empathy, competence, and grace on virtually every occasion. She had no political power, but she held an enormous amount of real power. For 70 YEARS. She understood duty and service in ways that are incomprehensible to us now. Our leaders can’t even be civil to one another, let alone kind and compassionate. I understand she held a unique position, yet it was still the the best exemplar of power I have ever seen. I am bereft.

Our leaders are not even capable of doing their duty for the length of their terms. They seem to have no concept of service in terms of generations- which is where are thinking should be- but only in terms of election cycles.

It was a very interesting juxtaposition of topics today. How one person in power did her very best, not always perfectly, but her very best, as often as she could, changing and growing and adapting to a myriad of change, while our own leaders change their “values” with the passing of power, and never hold to a basic standard of civility, compassion, and care. In fact, many in our country seem to value the opposite. Our 70 year exemplar of real service to a concept of ideals and country and even power is gone, and I am grieving.

And , yes, I can hear, “ but the privilege “, “the money”, “it’s not like she had a hard life”, “the castles!”, and still, 70 damn years given to her country. It could never have been easy. And I look at our sad sacks , and I am sickened.

I grieve. Our world is now much more fragile, it seems, with the passing of a 96 year old queen.

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Queen Elizabeth didn't choose to be born into immense privilege, but she did choose to fill her position with as much integrity and decency as it could possibly be done. Receiving the new PM so shortly before she passed away leaves a striking image of honoring duty to the end.

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Americans wake up!

Close to 300,000 American Colonists died in military service, another 113,000 non-military also died in an effort to throw off the chains of oppression of British royalty.

Another over a half million colonists were wounded in that seven year endeavor.

So why the hell are Americans going batshit crazy about the death of a multimillionaire, celebrity, powerless British royal.

Is it becuase she actually directed English policy for 70 years?

Is it because she spawned scores of vacuous celebrity Royals underwritten by English citizens?

Is it because she's world famous for raising corgies?

I realize the family is in mourning and I give them solicitude for their grief.

But I think it behooves Americans, whose antecedents fought against the oppression of English royalty, to instead think about the scores of fellow citizens who will die today in the anonymity of homelessness.

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JVL, where do you come down about the MLB rules being voted on soon. Elimination of the extreme shift and a pitch clock?

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Each batter is invited to beat the shift with a shot to the open gap, or a bunt... I've always thought big leagues should see it as an insult and take advantage every time.

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Speaking of advanced analytics: By my calcuations, JVL leads all Bulwarkers at 4.7 WARW (wins above replacement writer). Charlie is next at 4.4 WARW, followed by Timmy at 4.2, Mona at 3.9, and Amanda Carpenter at 3.6. But when it comes to wPRC+ (weighted podcast runs created plus, adjusted for host), Will Saletan leads at 176.

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The morning after the 2012 election, a lot of folks thought Romney had won the popular vote because the results from the west coast had yet to be fully tabulated and incorporated into the total. So we got some especially delicious reactions like this.

Of course when it ended up getting Trump elected, that's when Republicans fell in love with the idea of us being "a republic, not a democracy". It's a shame they have no idea what that's supposed to mean.

The point of being a republic is that, instead of everyday citizens voting directly on laws, we elect people to represent us in our legislative bodies. The advantages to this are mostly obvious, but perhaps somewhat underappreciated is that representatives are not bound to vote one way or another on any given bill. They profess to adhere to certain principles that will guide their decisions, but their decisions are theirs to make. They are expected to have the requisite knowledge that an average citizen might not so that their judgement is more sound and well-informed.

This was actually the way the Electoral College was supposed to work. Electors were supposed to have decision making power just like any representative. In fact, the only reason that our founders didn't entrust Congress (except as a backup plan) was because it would violate the separation of powers to allow the legislative branch such direct influence over the executive. So they empowered a separate representative body, to be convened for this purpose alone, to avoid the possibility of corruption in a standing body that regularly met for other purposes.

So the Electoral College was not meant to be free of deliberation. Furthermore, as with any representative body, it was expected that it would insulate the presidency from being occupied by someone who "is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications" yet possesses "talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity". So in Trump's case, it ended up being what enabled the very thing it was expected to prevent.

This is because, with Electors being effectively bound by the vote of a popular election in each state (or district, in the case of Nebraska and Maine), we've eliminated the principal advantages of representative democracy, giving us something like a popular vote but with a massive roundoff error. Disproportionate representation is an unfortunate side effect of representative democracy, not the purpose of it (some smaller states may have been enticed by the prospect of greater relative weight, but that only made it a deal-sweetener). The same can be said of the fact that the will of the minority within a state or district ends up being completely disregarded in the final outcome.

But to Republicans, who see that this has worked in their favor as of late, all of this is the point. You can bet that their opinion of it would do a complete 180 the moment it ever cost them an election. Which it could have in 2012, because in that race Obama actually had the Electoral College advantage. This is why, in hindsight, I now wish Obama *had* lost the popular vote.

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founding
Sep 8, 2022Liked by Jonathan V. Last

Great column! From the baseball the the Trump lunacy to the explanation of the royal transition, this was a great column!

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It's interesting to speculate on whether the US would be any different if we'd had a constitutional monarch to obviate or forestall the imperial presidency. Would Congress have assumed a more assertive role, or would the executive have indulged in the same self aggrandizement with which we're familiar? Would a hereditary American Royal Family have just faded into the background like a bad Hollywood set?

Would the Trumps have settled for central casting or would we have to chop off their heads anyway?

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Re Romney 2012 and the popular vote, if you make Trump's standard adjustment -- toss out all the votes for the Democratic nominee in California because who knows how many of them were illegals -- then Romney would have won it. Just like Trump did in 2016 and 2020. One simple and, to Trump, obvious adjustment.

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