May 25, 2015

#MemorialDay, aka the #TeaParty national day of distortion

As you think about Iraq War or Gulf War veterans, especially those who were killed in combat, today, let's not forget how and why Memorial Day started.

It was created to honor the nearly 400,000 Union dead from the Civil War.

You know, the war that had the ultimately result of ending slavery.

The war that was fought over the right to slavery in the first place, an issue tea partiers will deny until they turn red in the face.

That’s despite the Confederate constitution mentioning the actual words “slave” or “slavery” several times.

Like this, from Article I:
Section 9
No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.
For one.

And this, from Article IV:
Section 2.
1. The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states, and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any state of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property: and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired. …
 3. No slave or other person held to service or labor in any state or territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor: but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs, or to whom such service or labor may be due.
For another.

And this:
Section 3.
3. The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several states; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form states to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress, and by the territorial government: and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories, shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the states or territories of the Confederate states.
For a third.

That's despite the declarations of secession of Georgia, Mississippi:
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world.
South Carolina:

The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy. 
The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the (laws, etc.) as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States …
 based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color
And Virginia, all mentioning slavery, often a dozen or more times. More here. And here.

The reality of Memorial Day?

First, the Thirteenth Amendment, ending slavery:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The first time the U.S. Constitution used the actual word, rather than euphemisms to shield thin Southern skins.

Then the Fourteenth, for civil rights for all: 
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
THAT's what Memorial Day is about. 

The real problem is tea party "Lost Cause" types don't want to admit that the South — and its ideology — lost, period. And, too many Northerners were too indulgent of them too soon after April 9, 1865, part of why we need a national Appomattox Day.

This is why it matters when we talk about who started Memorial Day and why — including black Southerners reburying Union dead with honor.

TX Progressives tackle #txlege and political presumptions

The Texas Progressive Alliance welcomes the unofficial beginning of summer, and wishes for honesty related to Memorial Day, whether from Colin Powell or from Tea Partiers, as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a look behind the scenes at the deal struck between Houston's Metro and US Rep. John Culberson.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos injects a little Colbert humor into his piece about craven Texas politicians that run away from crucial issues that will impact our future whether we like it or not. Knowing how the Titanic Passengers felt...

Socratic Gadfly discusses how Pew Research's latest religious survey is another reason Democrats shouldn't make demographic assumptions about voters, in this case, Hispanic/Latino ones.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders how republicans can ignore real needs, promote xenophobia and violate labor standards for the DPS with one act.

Neil at All People Have Value took a walk in Houston Freedman's Town and in Galveston. He took good pictures. Everyday life is fun and interesting if you make some effort and look around. APHV is part of

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. Damn near everyone knows that our political systems are rigged. Those on the left those on the right and everyone in between. That frustration is being shown in many different ways all over the political spectrum. Where Left And Right Come Together - Our Political System Is Rigged.

'Mr. Tesla', according to Rep. Senfronia Thompson, was one of the biggest losers so far in the Texas Lege's 84th session. But so has been Rep. Senfronia Thompson, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

From Drake's star-studded Houston Appreciation Weekend to the historic opening of two new light rail lines, Texas Leftist can say in earnest that it was a great week to be in the Bayou City.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Austin Bakes is fundraising for Nepal.

Juanita wonders what it would take to stem the open carry tide.

Paradise in Hell points out that the "Texas Miracle" has a lot in common with the "North Dakota Miracle".

RG Ratcliffe interviews conservative video hucksters Hannah Giles and Joseph Basel.

Texas Clean Air Matters wants to know why our state's leadership is more concerned about the success other states than they are about Texas.

Mark Bennett examines the criminal defense situation in Waco following the Twin Peaks shootings.

The Texas Election Law Blog highlights an actual case of alleged vote fraud in Weslaco, which like every other case of vote fraud we've seen would not have been prevented by voter ID.

Mike Collier notes that taxes are going up while schools and roads are going down.

Wouldn't it be a great Memorial Day if ...

If we'd had a great start to it last night?

In other words, if during the "national" Memorial Day event at the Mall in DC on Sunday night, the one always hosted by Joe Mantegna and this year including Colin Powell ...

Powell actually admitted he knew that he was telling the United Nations a bunch of lies in early 2003, helping lie us into war in Iraq, a war that he knew was also breaking his old "Pottery Barn" rule about sufficient force?

You know, something like giving an actual apology for the dead — starting with the nearly 5,000 US troops killed, but, since he lied to the United Nations, also acknowledging the estimated 500,000 Iraqi war dead. (That number does not count the dead from the war-spawned ISIS movement and other things, either.)

It's didn't happen. Of course. (More related cartoons here.)

But, wouldn't it be nice?

True, he did have a weaselly half-assed non-apology "apology" four years ago, calling putting out some of this information as accurate as having "blotted my record," but the rest of that statement was blame-shuffling.

If a lot of us at the time of his speech knew stuff in there was inaccurate, Powell's sad trombone that he was forced to speak to the UN with just four days to review stuff

And, he knows it. And should be called out on it. Like this. He's still a liar, only one who is self-consciously trying to preserve his political legacy.

And, while Bush and Cheney were bad enough, in some ways, Powell was worse.

Beyond his Pottery Barn rule (and he surely knew that Don Rumsfeld's military force plans were inadequate), a career military man lying us into war, and lying soldiers to their deaths, is even worse than a civilian doing that.

And, at least one active-duty field general, Lucian Truscott, even apologized to his own dead from WWII.

And, beyond that, a straight non-apology from Shrub, or a snarl from Darth Chaney, is better in my book than a non-apology "apology" that's about a political legacy.

Also, he's spawned elected civilian politicians getting even more nutty since then, like potential GOP presidential candidate Huckleberry J. Butchmeup, among others, blaming Obama for the Iraq War not being a "success." Strange that he doesn't blame Powell/Bush/Cheney for the Afghanistan War not being a success because of all the force we diverted to Iraq.

Of course, the biggest apology is owed by tea partiers who continue to lie about what led to Memorial Day in the first place.

May 23, 2015

#TwinPeaksShooting apparently WAS a set-up ... by ..

A McLennan County sheriff’s deputy stands guard near a group
of bikers in the parking lot of Twin Peaks Restaurant just after
a deadly shootout between rival biker gangs Sunday.
The Bandidos. So says an anonymous member of the Cossacks in this long interview that certainly has the ring of truth to me.

Here's your nut grafs:
Since Sunday's killings, Waco police have offered few conclusions in their complex investigation. But they have said that the violence was touched off when an "uninvited" group, presumed to be the Cossacks, showed up at a meeting of a larger confederation of motorcycle clubs dominated by the Bandidos. 
In several interviews in recent days, the Cossack rider offered a different story. He said that the Cossacks were invited to the Twin Peaks patio that day — by a Bandido leader, who offered to make peace in a long-running feud between the two gangs. That invitation was a setup for an ambush, though, according to the Cossack. That's why the dead included six Cossacks, one Scimitar (an ally of the Cosacks) and only two Bandidos. 
The biker's story could not be independently verified; most of those involved in the shootout are still in jail. But significant parts of his account square with police statements, as well as security camera videos obtained by the Associated Press.

A couple of initial thoughts.

First, the Waco PD are generally trying not to put too much guesswork, vs. substantiated conclusions, out there. The "uninvited," if it's true that the Cossacks actually were invited, is probably the one semi-major item Sgt. Patrick Swanton's had wrong so far. 

Second, if this was an ambush, I'm not surprised. Are you? Given that the whole recent (for a year or two) dispute between the two has been over the Cossacks wanting to wear a Texas "rocker" on their jackets, and that nothing had been resolved about that before the May 17 shooting, it's surprising the Cossacks weren't more wary.

Next, the same biker totally puts "paid" to the idea this was a police set-up, turkey shoot or whatever:
So when a biker from the Bandidos, the oldest gang in Texas and one of the largest in the world, ran into a young Cossack in the Twin Peaks parking lot last Sunday, everyone knew what was coming. First words, then fists, then guns. Within seconds, Richie, Diesel and Dog were dead. 
"I took off," the Cossack rider said. "I got out of there. I didn't have a weapon. I couldn't fight anybody."
I can't blame him!

That said, the story, after describing the basics about the Bandidos, notes that law enforcement had been worried about the Cossacks potentially getting more violent or aggressive. 

Next, a question.

Did this "Marshall," identified as the Bandido who reportedly made the alleged olive branch call, sincerely mean that? If so, did other Bandidos override him as soon as they found out, or instead at the meeting on Sunday, just before the Cossacks showed up?

Or instead, was his phone call part of a set-up in the first place?

I somewhat lean that way, based on this, from the actual firefight:
Trouble started almost immediately, (the Cossack informant) said: One of the Bandidos, wearing a patch that identified him as a chapter president, ran his bike into a Cossack standing in the parking lot. The Cossack who was hit was a “prospect,” a man in his mid-20s who was “striving to become” a full member of the club. 
“They came up really fast, and the prospect turned and faced the bikes,” the Cossack chapter president said. “He fell backward into other [parked] bikes. The guy who hit him stopped and got off of his bike and said, ‘What are you doing? Get . . . out of my way. We’re trying to park.’ ”
It sounds like this Bandido was determined to cause trouble. Didn't he get the memo about Marshall's phone call? At a minimum, this is the first half of the first scenario: At least some Bandidos had decided before the meeting that no olive branch was being extended.

And, then, the fight was on:
Cossacks quickly jumped to the prospect’s defense, he said: “Guys were saying, ‘You’re disrespecting us,’ or, ‘We’re not backing down.’ ” 
In a blink, it started, he said: “Two punches: One from them, one from us.” 
A Bandido with a patch identifying him as sergeant-at-arms of the same chapter threw a punch at Richard Matthew Jordan II, 31, known as “Richie,” who was from Pasadena, Texas. Jordan punched the guy back. 
“At that point in time, the sergeant in arms shot Richie point-blank,” the Cossack said.
Police said Jordan died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Well, hardcore libertarians, bikers, anarchists, and other people making "false flag" claims? You've been officially refuted by a biker who was there.

The Cossack then notes the next two people killed, at least, were killed by Bandidos. And, he doubles down on the "setup" angle.

That said, his last comment is kind of "rich."
“I didn’t sign up for this,” he continued. “I signed up for a brotherhood that believes in family and taking care of their communities.”
Really? You know the Cossack-Bandido history. You know if the feds' warning about rising Cossack activity is true, or not. You know about the claims of Cossack affiliation with Hell's Angels.

Now, if by “family,” you mean that in a biker parallel to Cosa Nostra, Mafia “family,” I get it. If you mean mom-and-pop ... wrong!

Ichiro, you may still get 3K hits, but ...

Ichiro Suzuki
You're no Roberto Clemente. Unfortunately, on a blog post on NBC's Hardball Talk, one fan made exactly that comparison.

Not even close. Clemente has as many WAA, a much higher standards, than allegedly ageless Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has WAR.

As I told that person, in an exchange of comments, would you compare Andre Dawson to Mickey Mantle, or Dwight Evans to Hank Aaron?

Yes, there's a bit of exaggeration on my part, but not THAT much.

Let's go by WAR only.

The Hammer has 142.6 WAR to 66.1 for Evans.

The Mick has 109.4 WAR and Dawson has 64.6.

Ichiro has 59 WAR; Clemete has 94.4.

So, the Aaron-Evans comparison is somewhat exaggerated, as I knew it would be.

But the Mantle-Dawson one is almost spot on.

Now, I know diehard Ichiro fans will say, "But, if he'd played here a couple more years earlier in his career, he might have 70 WAR."

To which I respond, "If Clemente hadn't died in a tragic plane crash while still an active player, he might have caught Mantle."

Meanwhile, another commenter there gets both this and other things wrong.

First, he calls me wrong in saying WAA is a more difficult stat than WAR, when that is rather perfectly true in the sense of WAA being more difficult to achieve points because it's comparison to a league-average "real" player, not a AAAA-level hypothetical replacement.

He went on to say:
At age 41 Clemente had already been out of the game for four years while Ichiro is still going.

This of course ignores that Clemente would have been dead four years before reaching a hypothetical age 41.

I've blogged about Ichiro and reality vs. hype on him before, including being skeptical about his shot at 3K hits and saying he should have retired a year ago.

As for this season? The only reason he's already passing 30 hits, and passing Babe Ruth on the career hits total is because Christian Yelich sucks enough, as well as being hurt, to be below the Pete Kozma Line of my creation and thus to be a fair part of why Mike Redmond was fired. The Fish's plan this offseason was for Ichiro to be strictly a fourth outfielder, pinch-hitter and pinch-runner. They had zero plans for him to have 100-plus at bats just over one-quarter of the way through the season.

Ichiro hasn't had a 5-WAR season since age 34 and hasn't had a 7-WAR season since age 30. He's not an ageless wonder. He's showing a normal aging curve.

He's overall been a defensive negative for 5-6 years now, and left is the only OF position he can play without too much damage.

And, should Yelich figure things out, or Ichiro start showing more of his 41 years, Ichiro will be back to being the No. 4 outfielder.

In the meantime, your short-term success aside?

Ichiro, you're no Clemente.


UPDATE: I was going to put this as a reply in comments, but it got long enough I decided to make it part of the body.

Hey, Jav (and others):

First, lest anybody think otherwise, I'm not a curmudgeon, and I like seeing milestones in baseball. I hope he gets it.

That said, as noted in the pre-season piece I linked, and the comment here about Yelich, it certainly wasn't Miami's plan to have him get 400-plus ABs (if that happens). My 300-315 was a guesstimate to allow some minor injuries to the three starters, some days off here and there, and some pinch-hitting.

I'm sure Loria and both old and current managers wish they weren't having to have him bat so much.

As for "a lot left in the tank"?

It's only mid-May.

First, if Yelich can turn things around, he's Miami's future. Ichiro is not. A healthy, hitting Yelich plays, and Ichiro sits more.

Otherwise, as far as "future," if Yelich is struggling later in the year, 40-man callups from AAA will get more playing time in September. Because they're the future and Ichiro's not.

(Well, unless Loria decides that marketing Ichiro is important enough to turnstiles to neglect the player development future of his team.)

That said, the AAA farm at New Orleans isn't that great. Cole Gillespie is a 31-year-old career AAAA-level player, and he's the best they've got. Which helps explain the signing of Ichiro.

Second, if Yelich can't, as far as Ichiro's tank? Call me back in August.  Yes, Aaron had more than 500 ABs at 41. Others? Ted Williams had just 310. Musial had 433, but that was an Indian summer year in 1962 and the only time he broke 400 ABs since age 37.

Third, as far as what's in his tank? B-Ref has him not only at a negative overall WAR, but negative oWAR as well as dWAR. There's little in his tank right now; it's just that the Marlins don't have a better option.

May 22, 2015

Goodbye, Kobe; and my ranking him

Kobe Bryant apparently bought a clue or something, as he's announced that next year, after the second installment of his $48.5M gift from Jimmerz Buss expires, he's retiring. I guess that he's seeing age and reality, while Jimmerz is seeing a picture of sister Jeanie with a shiv.

First, this is good news for Laker rebuilding. Stories have abounded that top free agents don't want to go to the Lakers because of Kobe.

Second, this is good news for Laker rebuilding. It takes his contract off the books just in time for an expanding NBA salary cap. The Lakers can probably either nibble at the edges or do some 1-year contracts for 2015-16, then do two max contracts the next year.

Note to Mitch Kupchak: Please do these moves yourself; get Jeanie Buss to kill Jimmerz if necessary.

Third, of course, everybody from Bill Simmons down is going to do Kobe legacy watch over the next 12 months.

Well, Bill already started with his Hall of Fame pyramid in his 2010 book, putting Kobe No. 8 then.

And, looking at that list, I'm not sure I'd move him up, five years later.

He certainly doesn't pass Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. All three made teammates better in a way Kobe didn't. Bill Russell brought something incredible to defense, and to leadership. I'm not sure I'd rank him as high as Simmons, not just countering Simmons' Boston homerism, but for other reasons, but I'd still keep him ahead of Kobe.

I'd keep Tim Duncan ahead of Kobe, too, as the modern equivalent of the players above.

That leaves Kareem and Wilt.

Like Shaq, I could see dropping Wilt behind Kobe. But, his own moods issues aside, I'll keep Kareem ahead. So, Wilt falls to No. 8, behind Kobe, who's in No. 7, with Duncan moving up a notch, too.

So, scratch that. I'm moving Jerry West to No. 7, keeping Timmy and Kobe where they are, and dropping Wilt two spots.

Simmons has a big fail here, mainly in not making allowances for the three-point line with West. Like Wilt and MJ, he might have had a 30-point career scoring average, had the 3-ball been around in his day.