April 23, 2014

Can #Hamas and the #PLO really kiss and make up?

Well, they say they can, the New York Times reports, noting that they've talked about it before and failed.

Related: should they? (That of course depends in part on who's asking that question.)

That said, politics, and political enemies, make strange bedfellows.

Given that Israeli prime minster Bibi Netanyahu is in bed with people in his cabinet that make him look halfway sane, it's no wonder that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have renewed unity government talks. And, this shouldn't have surprised either Israel or the US. Things like the PA (PLO) working to get officially accepted into more United Nations-affiliate organizations should have been a sign that the PA was tired of getting the back of the hand from the US as well as Israel.

This is yet another area where Dear Leader and both his current and previous foreign policy leaders, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, have been all talk and no show, except when the show's been to give the PA the back of the hand.

I have repeatedly blogged about this, like here, based on leaks to al-Jazeera and other things, where the US continually threatened to turn the financial screws on the PA unless it kowtowed to every Israeli demand. At the same time, Obama never threatened the foreign aid funding for Israel.

Say what else one will about Poppy Bush, I'll give him credit for being the only president in the last 30 years to link foreign aid to Israel to it not building settlements on the West Bank, that is, Palestine.

Of course, I still won't hold my breath too much. The Palestinians have long been their own worst enemies. At the same time, the fact that Egypt's new secular government is overseeing negotiations between Hamas and the PA means we shouldn't expect a guaranteed failure.

On the other hand, if this does pan out, the US will now have a Netanyahu who is even more foaming at the mouth than normal. And, a Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan willing to exploit this for domestic Turkish wag the dog reasons if nothing else. And, Bibi's intransigence, silently supported in Washington, is at root.

As for the "should," in a big picture sense? I don't want it to happen until Hamas officially rejects Holocaust denial, among other things. As for expecting jihad of some sort to make all of Israel and Palestine Muslim? I had a Lutheran seminary professor say that we ought to evangelize Muslims at the point of a gun then cut their heads off before they could reconvert, and this was a full decade before 9/11.

And, it was more than 2,000 years ago, but Google the two words of "Hasmoneans" and "Idumeans" or similar. Judaism, although much more rarely, has itself occasionally evangelized at the point of a sword.


Related to all of this?

My ideal solution for Palestine would be:
1. Eliminate the Gaza Strip;
2. Give Palestine lands in the Negev in compensation;
3. Give Israel a decade to move people out of most of its settlements (the precise details of "most of" to be negotiated);
4. Without expecting a peace treaty, have a unified Palestine and Israel sign joint recognition documents, with the understanding that the PA and Israel will both likely want their equivalent of "presidential signing statements" as part of that;
5. Get the Saudis to give an under-the-table pledge to Israel that, unless it lurches further right, it will never be the target of a Saudi oil embargo.

And, now, I'll just crown myself as a more omnipotent version of John Rawls.

That said, Hamas has offered long-term truces to Israel before.

No, #Cardinals fans, Ozzie Smith is NOT Carlos Gomez

Nor is he to a lot of people, except in the febrile mind of Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports' website.

Calcaterra, who seems to have a history of writing trollish blog posts at times (and I'm far from the first to state that), wanted to give a smackdown to a lot of people complaining about the Brewers' Carlos Gomez standing at the plate recently and admiring his in the park home run triple.

So, he gathered together a bunch of old pictures of "exuberant" ballplayers and said "voila." Actually, his header said:  ' “Respect the Game?” Phooey.' No context was provided of the actions of other players pictured.

Among those pictures? Ozzie Smith's famous start of season backflip. So, I tweeted him and said bullshit.

He, in turn, said, what's the diff?

I said, that, above all, Ozzie wasn't doing it during a game. That's not to mention he only did it on opening day, or home opening day, and again at the start of playoffs. That was it. And, besides, he had a reputation that was not that of Carlos Gomez. (Or Craig Calcaterra.)

Meanwhile, back to Calcaterra's trolling. And, no, I'm not the first person to accuse him of that.

He responded to my second tweet and said:
But you realize, you're just making up rules as you go along, right? There's no standard. Some stuff is good, some bad.
First, you're making up objections to standards you don't like, methinks. Second, there always have been standards. True, not all of them are formal, but there is, jokes aside, an unwritten rulebook of sorts.Third, per my first response to you, you know there's a difference between the Wiz and Goober Gomez, which gets back to the first point.

Fourth, if "some stuff is good, some bad," how do you know what's good and what's bad? If you're not pulling it out of your own backside, you're using a standard!

As I tweeted back, if there are no rules, fine, let's go back there.

That said, back to the Ozzie Smith issue. And other players, like Casey Stengel (bird under his hat in a game, I presume his pic is about), arguably weren't the same:
So color me unimpressed with the latest calls for Carlos Gomez or Yasiel Puig or whoever the talk show warriors’ next punching bag happens to be to respect the game. The game has been disrespected by way better and way more disrespectful than the likes of those guys and will be disrespected by many more in the future.
That said, Ozzie Smith unarguably wasn't the same. Period.

Further proof? Ozzie never had a pitcher woof at him over that. It was just like Anheuser-Busch rolling out the Clydesdales and Craig Troll Calcaterra knows that.

If he really, really believes that's the same, what Ozzie did, or even what Casey did, he's a fucking idiot. If he doesn't, this is the best proof ever Calcaterra's a troll blogger. (I'm not the first to make that accusation by any means.) And sadly, gets paid by NBC.

He also blames only Brian McCann for Gomez's run-in with the Braves last year. 

That said, I'm not justifying the actions of Pirate hurler Gerritt Cole. Instead of f-bombing Gomez at third, he should have plunked either the next Brewer batter or Gomez the next time he came up. 

That's exactly what the unwritten rulebook says, and back in the day, Bob Gibson or Juan Marichal would have planted a pitch in the earhole of Gomez's batting helmet.

Indeed, among his "respect the game" pix, he has the one of Marichal going upside John Roseboro's head with a bat. Lest we forget, that's because Roseboro had reportedly buzzed his head with at least one throw back to the mound.

But, I'm sure Craig wouldn't like that, disregarding formal rules against beaning. So, Craig, that's another way in which you do believe there's standards of some sort.

Better yet, to test for standards? And respecting the game? Let's put you in a batting cage, but instead of a pitching machine, you can face Hoot Gibson.  Make contact just once, Craig Troll, then flip your bat.

Calcaterra now claims he was trying to make the point this was relatively minor. I didn't say it wasn't. In terms of respecting the game, I said Ozzie didn't disrespect it at all. Stengel didn't do so in a way that "faced" opponents. And, neither one affected actual play in a game.

Further tweets with Calcaterra indicate that he thinks it's all the same thing, when I think it's pretty clearly not.

I've blogged before that I don't believe in a "Cardinal Way," but that doesn't mean that I don't believe there's certain standards within games. That's even more the case in other sports. Gomez might get a 15-yard flag for unsportsmanlike conduct in the NFL.

And, maybe we need an ump or two to start tossing players before fights. Or have the baseball equivalent of soccer's yellow cards.

As for the other pix? I'm not sure what incident or incidents of Babe Ruth Craig means. Eating too many hot dogs is a far cry different from drinking issues or allegedly snorting coke. On Pete Rose, ditto. An underwear ad is far different from betting on one's own team. If it's the former on both of them, nothing was done during play in a game, nor to "face" another team.

So, Craig, if you're trying to make the point that these folks are all like Gomez, you're wrong!

Well, Craig, I'll put a "no follow" on your post, so you won't get any click love from people reading here, whether you troll in part for that or other reasons. But, feel free to Tweet him.

And, the whole issue of links, clicks and web traffic is why I wish somebody would invent some mouse software that would automatically give us a Javascript pop-up window to read the first paragraph or two of text in a piece without actually clicking a link. 

April 22, 2014

#Pujols joins history with No. 500 - top 20 coming soon

Prince Albert! Getty Images via NBC Sports
I said at the start of this season that I expected Albert Pujols to turn in a year halfway betrween 2011, his last year with the Cardinals, and 2012, his first one with the Angels.

Well, with 8 home runs, he's on pace to do that indeed. Plus, that eighth makes him the 26th player in MLB history to join the 500-HR club

Anyway, per my top link, I'm not alone on that perception. Per this profile piece by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, it's clear that Haloes manager Mike Scioscia feels good about Prince Albert this year too.

And, with a new profile piece from Jayson Stark, we see just how rarified of a performer Pujols is.

With the Rangers struggling with a variety of injuries which, cumulatively, may be worse than Josh Hamilton for the Haloes, Pujols and Mike Trout have a chance to take that team places.

Pujols can take himself places, too.

Just 22 more home runs, for a 30-HR year, from Pujols puts him in the top 20 all time, and past such first basemen as Lou Gehrig, Fred McGriff, Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas, and Eddie Murray. That would leave him at No. 18. A 43-HR season, which I don't think is likely, shoots him past Jimmie Foxx, and 45 puts him past Mickey Mantle.

At the start of the year, I'd thought 43, or more 45, was ridiculous. But now, who knows?

It may be one last twilight year, but, if he can focus, and take a few more walks, who knows about this year.

And, ridiculous as it seems, with last year's injuries, he has to be in discussion for comeback player of the year.


Beyond this?

On the personal side, it is kind of sad.

I understand why the Cards cut ties with him. It's a business, and they didn't think he was worth that investment. But it hurts a bit seeing him in a different uni, especially when it's different, but has red.

I$ the U$ #environmental movement $adly a$tray?

Per the joking old college letter, I think my sentiments in the headline are pretty clear, at least in terms of the big "gang green" environmental organizations.

Smaller ones like the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, or mid-sized ones like the Coalition for Biological Diversity, are generally OK, but Sierra Club and others?

They have their idea on another kind of green.

That's how they got the name Gang Green, by trading ardent environmentalism for Democratic Party access. That, in turn, brought them the possibility of more donors.

So, for the "gang green" environmental groups deciding at the start of the Clinton Administration that cozying up to Democrats for political "access" was more important than being firmer on stances. Then, we have the topper, several years ago, of Sierra Club selling the rights to its name, for branding and marketing, to Clorox. There were certainly a few questions about Clorox's environmental commitment, and a boatload of unquestionable facts on its low standards on labor issues. I blogged more here and here about how this exposed authoritarian tactics of Sierra's national board and then-CEO Carl Pope.

But, when a big, rich (yes, relatively) environmental group pays just $33K a year for copy editors for its magazine, with a job based in downtown San Francisco, we know which "green" is speaking. We also know how much neoliberal gang green environmentalists really care about labor rights.

That said, there's some question of how much they even care about environmental issues that don't float the boats of rich neoliberal donors. Sierra was touting natural gas as a "bridge fuel" well after the possible and actual problems of fracking became known, and even as wellhead gas leaks that might undermine its claim as a "bridge fuel" also became apparent.

Sierra's not alone; witness Audubon getting halfway in bed with a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, the hardrock mining company with a history of environmental problems. The Audubon story is similar to Sierra's for another reason. The national HQ saw dollar signs and overrode the will and desire of a local chapter. This time, instead of suspending the board, like Sierra, Audubon created a new entity to bypass the old one.

And, it's not just this.

Witness the proliferation of the made-in-China tchotchkes passed out by the "Gang Green" groups, combined with the wasteful amount of mail, snail mail, not email, sent for solicitation efforts.

If you think this isn't true, Sourcewatch sets us clear on the bottom line for Gang Green:
These are heavily-staffed, well-funded non-profit corporations each with budgets in the tens of millions of dollars a year, offices in Washington, DC and other major cities, highly paid executive directors, and a staff of lobbyists, analysts and marketers. Big Green environmental groups together raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year, most of it contributed by non-profit foundations and individual donors. Many of the Big Green groups accept funding from or partner with corporations, have representatives of major corporations on their boards of directors, and work with corporations through other organizations. 
There you go, in a nutshell.

This is why, again, I fear for how our government's celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service will turn out in 2016. I fear it will get the neoliberal corporatist treatment.

That said, maybe SUWA can protest at Arches, or CBD at Saguaro. We may be getting closer to that time.

Another Earth Day, a few thoughts

It's not a special anniversary Earth Day, but with things like the continued  delay in a Keystone XL decision by Team Obama, even as Dear Leader continues to push the Trans Pacific Partnership, I'll put a few thoughts on blogging paper.

First, though, a look back at my life at a few of those special anniversaries.

For me, 1995 was the first Earth Day special anniversary I really remember. At 25, it was a big one. Sure, Newt Gingrich and gang had just taken over the House. However, the CFC accord to protect the ozone layer was good news and global warming was not yet even a small cloud on most of our horizons. So, things were looking good then.

Next, on to 2000. Global warming was at least a small cloud on more horizons by then. Bill Clinton had negotiated the Kyoto Accords to address this. Unfortunately, he had not submitted them to the Senate. Doubly unfortunately, it was clear they would fail if he did, and that probably no more than half of Democrats, even those not up for re-election in 2000, would support them.

Then things got worse.

In 2005, for the 35th anniversary, we had President Bush having officially rejected Kyoto. After talking about carbon dioxide as a pollutant on the 2000 campaign trail, he had totally ditched that. He had also ditched EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman for actually taking him at his 2000 campaign word. Meanwhile, evidence for global warming and broader climate change, and its potential severity, continue to mount.

Then, 2010. Things seemed better with a Democrat in the White House, even though the economy was distracting from too many environmental concerns.

And now, today.

First, Keystone XL. President Obama is clearly, in my book, going to delay a decision until after the midterm elections, then approve it. If you deeply believe otherwise, I've got a sub-95 day in July in Phoenix to sell you.

Second, the Trans Pacific Partnership. How does this relate to climate change?

Simple. "Free" trade treaties that encourage additional international trade without the carbon tariffs to have the globe pay the environmental cost of all the shipping involved are inherently anti-environmental, as well as the labor issues they cause, and the environmental issues in countries such as China with low environmental regulatory standards. And, like the original NAFTA and WTO deals, transnational companies would have a shot at overriding US environmental regulations. Much more here.

Things have changed since 2005, or even 2010, in other ways. We're continuing to improve our degree of certainty on how much human activity is going to affect mean temperature increases across our planet. We're starting to figure out more of how climate change is related to large but sub-global seasonal weather issues, such as the "clipper" that gave the US Northeast a snow-heavy winter while exacerbating drought in California.

There's a third issue which I've briefly blogged about before.

The National Park Service's centennial is in 2016, and so far, I've heard very little "noise" from the White House about the run-up to this, celebratory plans, etc.

I'm afraid that what eventually gets wheeled out will be corporate heavy, too.

I'm not a James Kunstler, but I do sometimes have my degree of despair over the future of our planet. Climate change, as we mark another Earth Day, is one of the main drivers of such, though not the only one.

Add in the deniers, minimizers and skeptics. Add in the fact that Obama seems to have the least amount of focus on environmental issues of any Democratic president since Harry Truman. None of this helps.

Add in that minimizers and skeptics, to the degree they accept anthropogenic climate change, then switch gears to what I have previously called "salvific technologism." That's the belief in technology's saving (salvific) power, so much so that said belief in technology becomes an "-ism."

Well, the human ability to adapt is constrained by something that didn't exist in the Younger Dryas, or even, for the most part, in the Little Ice Age, or its predecessor, the Medieval Warm Period (which is still a bit cooler than we are today), and that's the modern big city, let alone the megacity. It's hard to "pack up and move" 20 million people in greater New York City, London, Los Angeles, Shanghai or other spots. And, all but L.A. of those four cities face definite worries over rising sea levels.

Meanwhile, "Earth Day" isn't even on Google News' list of top "trending" items, as of 1:30 p.m. Central Time.

Add to it the "gang green" environmental groups deciding at the start of the Clinton Administration that cozying up to Democrats for political "access" was more important than being firmer on stances. Then, we have the topper, several years ago, of Sierra Club selling the rights to its name, for branding and marketing, to Clorox. There were certainly a few questions about Clorox's environmental commitment, and a boatload of unquestionable facts on its low standards on labor issues. I blogged more here and here about how this exposed authoritarian tactics of Sierra's national board and then-CEO Carl Pope.

But, when a big, rich (yes, relatively) environmental group pays just $33K a year for copy editors for its magazine, with a job based in downtown San Francisco, we know which "green" is speaking. That's even more true with the made-in-China tchotchkes combined with the wasteful amount of mail, snail mail, not email, sent for solicitation efforts.

I'll stop now before I get into the territory of a new blog post, which I will soon enough anyway.

Perry has a few related thoughts.

As for those other issues of despair? It seems like racial issues in America have slowed to about the  same glacial rate of progress.

April 21, 2014

I guess I'm just not that progressive again this week

I tweeted about my sarcasm last week, but this is a bit too long for that.

There's an alliance of bloggers for the Pointy Abandoned Object State™ (and I'm going to blog more about that and riffing on Jim Moore sometime) that does a roundup of top progressive blogs by its membership each week (well, except for member bloggers who, for various reasons, don't even have one worthy submission each week), then at the end, lists "other blog posts of interest."

I'm not sure exactly when it votes, but let's say it's some time Saturday afternoon.

So, talking about Child Abuse Prevention Month, some of its socio-economic background, and why addressing income inequality would probably help address it, is is less progressive than:
1. Warning parents away from live bunnies and ducklings as Easter gifts (Not "progressive," per se and it's covered every year by media);
2. An air kiss to Wendy Davis with an Upworthy-esque reverse straw man set up, something like "You'll be amazed that Wendy Davis' campaign managed to do what other Democratic campaigns have done in Republican-leaning states before";
3. Reprinting four Texas names from a list from Out magazine, a list which is about celebrity and money within the LGBT world, not about LGBT issues itself, and without any real further commentary.

It's not even a question of "less progressive." The "other blogs of interest" is short enough it could easily have one or two more. A week ago, depending on exact voting cutoff dates, a business tizzy between craft beer and big brewers made the mystical cut ahead of me advising Green gubernatorial candidate Brandon Parmer not to suspend his campaign for an air kiss with Wendy Davis. Or, the week before, my advising "efficient government" conservatives on one specific way — driver's licenses — they could live up to their self-billing, could have been cut-worthy.

Yes, I blog about things besides politics. But, I have at least one solidly liberal blog post a week. (Note: "liberal" ≠ "Democratic.")

And, I'm snarky enough, I may start doing this on a regular basis. Or I may not, but, I wanted to do this at least once. And, if I get feedback, I might do it again. If I get backlash, I'll very definitely do it again.

No, I'm not a genius at this. But, I'm better than that.