April 24, 2019

Did I say something recently about how
the Cardinals need to sign Dallas Keuchel?

Lemme see, not just once, but twice, earlier this year, I said the Cardinals need to sign

... Dallas Keuchel.

And now

The first time, in the preseason, I said you never have enough pitching, while adding that many Cards fans who wanted to chase Bryce Harper were delusional about both him and the team's 2019 pitching staff.

The second time, was just before the start of the regular season, when the team shelved Carlos Martinez for two weeks at the start of spring training due to shoulder issues — and player-management issues about his offseason prep and more lying behind that.

Where are we at nearly a month into the season?

Martinez is still rehabbing.

Adam Wainwright, as I said then, is not only is not a sort-of No. 1 starter, he just semi-sucks. But he doesn't suck nearly as bad as Dakota Hudson, on whom those nutter fans above were going ga-ga two months ago.

And Miles Mikolas semi-sucks himself. That has to be of longer-term concern given his extension after just one year returned to MLB from Japan.

Michael Wacha is not a No. 1 starter; he's a recurring injury waiting for a new outbreak. However, with an ERA+ of 90, he's the best Cardinal starter on a team where none of them are above 90 on ERA+ or below 4.00 on FIP. Waino is actually lowest there, while Mikolas is near the top, despite having a decent WHIP, which leads me to think (whew) it could be just bad luck for him.

And, Wacha's now that injury recurred, on the shelf with knee tendinitis. Supposably, he'll just miss one start. Call me back in about a week and let's see if that's true.

On Keuchel, I was thinking in my original posts that a 3/$50M base, maybe 3/$55, with innings and awards incentives for each year and a fourth-year option at $15M plus same incentives structure.

I was not sure if that was enough to land him, but it's certainly enough to be a good starting point. And, at the same time, it certainly doesn't feel like an overpay.

But, per Buster Olney, he reportedly would be open to a "good" one-year deal.

That's all, Mo! Give him one year plus two performance-incentive-laden options.

How fucking cheap can John Mozeliak and Mike Girsch be? Plenty.

Seriously.

Keuchel could be in MLB shape before Martinez completes his rehab.

You have a mediocre 11-9 record, compounded by Christian Yelich, who I still won't forgive you for not trying to sign, owning your ass, even while you DID overpay for knowingly bum-shouldered Marcell Ozuna, who appears to have found some blind hog batting acorns while still being a throwing travesty in left field.

The other pitchers, as far as actual or possible starters? Jack Flaherty is as mediocre as the rest of the starters. Dakota Hudson has been like dumpster diving remnants. Alex Reyes has been a tire fire out of the bullpen so far.

Sign Keuchel.

If not, watch ticket sales plunge as the Birds finish out of the playoff running again.

April 23, 2019

Game on for GOP 2020 presidential race
Assessing the contest and possible entrants

We already know that President Donald Trump is running for re-election.

But he's now got one guaranteed opponent.

Bill Weld formed an exploratory committee about a month ago, shortly after officially changing his party affiliation from Libertarian back to Republican after being that party's Veep nominee in 2016. And he's now officially entered. In ABC's report on his candidacy announcement, he made it clear he's targeting independent voters, whether ConservaDems or mild libertarians who can't swallow the Libertarian Party. He noted 20 states have open GOP primaries, including first-in-the-nation New Hampshire.

Problems exist, though. He really is a libertarian. or a liberal Dem, on social issues. More and more Republicans might be OK with him on marijuana, but not on abortion or gay rights.

Second, he's 73 years old, and looks every day of it at times per his picture, though he looks younger with a more subdued version of Trump's hair coloring. That said, he is a year older than Trump.

Third? He's been out of elective office for 20-plus years, and his last three campaigns — 1998 Senate in Massachusetts, 2006 Governor in New York and the 2016 race, the first as Republican nominee, the second as GOP primary candidate — have all been losses.

That said, even if some would hold their nose at his social libertarianism, there's a Never Trumper legion waiting for him. April 24, Weld wrote a column calling on Trump to resign. It ran in The Bulwark, a hodgepodge of primarily neocons left over from Bill Kristol's The Weekly Standard.

John Kasich? Could he be next? He had previously disavowed making a 2020 run at Trump while not totally shutting the door on an independent bid. Could he decide to go the GOP route after all?

Next is the context.

This is the most serious intraparty challenge of an incumbent since at least 1992, when Pat Buchanan ran against Poppy Bush. And, while the U.S. was in a fairly mild recession, there was nothing else functionally wrong with the country, at least by Beltway steno eyeballs. Bush had won the Gulf War, seen the old USSR crumble into Evil Empire dust, and, while giving Beijing a pass over Tiananmen Square, hadn't screwed up anything else abroad. He did look a bit insensitive on the recession, but ... that could have been fixed.

But, for Buchanan, a man with no elected political experience but a Religious Right following, Bush needed to be challenged.

That said, Poppy Bush was not a great political campaigner. He'd shown that in spades in 1980.

Trump, on the other hand, while not a "conventional" Beltway-style politician, has strong, if crude, political strategery impulses.

OTOH, Never Trumpers have a fairly strong candidate in Weld.

Bill Weld is not THE most libertarian of libertarians on social issues, but he is far more of one there than Rand and Ron Paul. Given the Religious Right is totally in Trump's corner, running on fumes of high-octane hypocrisy, Weld has nothing to lose by calling the GOP to tolerance. As an economic libertarian, he can appeal to big biz types over Trump's undermining of the economy on trade issues, and probably on immigration as well.

That would leave room for Kasich, a strong social conservative without being a foaming warrior, to enter in on the other side, claiming he can feel blue collar workers' pain from within a Rust Belt state while more authentically walking the walk on social issues.

I don't think Weld alone can mount too serious a challenge to Trump, but I think he's smart to take himself back inside the GOP to do what he can. If he drew Kasich in, Trump would face a more serious challenge. The cult would still back him, but with nothing to lose, Weld and Kasich would both stay in the race as long as they had money and a ghost of a chance.

If Kasich did get in, it would be the most serious intraparty challenge of an incumbent since 1968, when Gene McCarthy, then Bobby Kennedy, both challenged LBJ before he withdrew. (Ted Kennedy challenging Jimmy Carter in 1980 is first in some ways, due to the strength of Kennedy as a challenger, but with the criteria of multiple semi-serious challenges to an incumbent president, you have to go back to 1968.)

That said, will that happen? I highly doubt it.

Social conservatives, even those with a fair degree of Trump loathing, remain afraid of the rank-and-file backing, and even more, afraid of the way many others have become toadies to Trump. Kasich is already being attacked by kiddie pool wingnut media for his response to the Mueller Report.

Would Kasich follow through on hints to run as the "mom and apple pie true GOP" independent candidate? I don't think there's more than a 10 percent chance of that. He is seven years younger than Weld and just left the office of Ohio governor. Unless he wanted to be a deliberate contrarian, he'll weigh his position within the GOP carefully.

Weld, on the other hand, has said he would "be flattered to be Kennedy to (Trump's) Carter," per a Fortune roundup of actual and potential candidates, quoting Rolling Stone.

So, enjoy Bill Weld while you can. Enjoy his campaign showing both the depth of Trumpism and the shallowness of actual libertarianism in today's GOP.

The Fortune piece says current Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan could also jump in. Hogan is a moderate, for a modern Republican, on some issues, though a social conservative overall. As a sitting officeholder in a state a bit more blue than Kasich's Ohio, but not as blue as Weld's Massachusetts, if he got in, but lost, and faced a shitload of Trump Train surrogate attacks, it could actually boost his chances for a future Senate bid or a 2024 presidential run.

April 22, 2019

It's another Earth Day with the earth continuing to be lost



The biggest lost is further delays in addressing the massive problem of climate change.

I've discussed AOC's aspirational Green New Deal, the one started by neoliberals who are the youth division of Gang Green environmentalist org Sierra Club, versus the Green Party's better but not perfect version, three times already, with a fourth in the hopper.  Part three, with links to one and two, is here.

My personal purple iris Earth Day gift.
Among problems with the Gang Green New Deal is, beyond it generally being aspirational and not concrete, it talks little about a carbon tax and nothing at all about a carbon tariff. A carbon tariff rightly addresses the political question of "why should we shoot ourselves in the foot?" and the moral issue of "we need to all be on the same page." It would not harm developing nations, as many, especially in subSaharan Africa, have not committed to a 20th-century style western grid or industrialization in the first place.

Second, to riff somewhat on other people, and without saying Ocasio-Cortez doesn't care about other environmental issues, climate change is only one issue.

Habitat degradation and species extinction beyond what's being caused by climate change are another. Potential Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins discusses this and more.

With our Gen Z kids, device addiction and nature apathy is also big. Actually, it's big for their parents and even older adults as well.

If you're at an Earth Day event, whether one affiliated with the national Earth Day group or not, turn your phone OFF. Not just to "silent" but OFF.

If you don't, you're part of the problem. It's hard to care about nature if you can't occasionally focus on it.

That said, the planet WILL be around. And, the planet will recover — eventually — from most human degradation.

But, we may not. This is like an asteroid 66 million years ago, but we're aiming it at ourselves. Only the mega-rich of libertarian ilk could seriously tout the idea that we as a civilized, settled species could just pack up and relocate our entire civilization from its largely coastal and riverine current location.

April 20, 2019

Blame Mueller, or yourselves, not Barr —
Word to Donut Twitter, Beltway stenos and The Resistance

I said it before, just a few days ago. Some of the reasons why Robert Mueller didn't bag bigger game than he did are the fault of nobody but the man in the special prosecutor's mirror.

He made choices on what he did, and did not do, and that's part of why where we're at. At the same time, to the delight of Donut Twitter and Just.Another.Politician.™,  it's clear that Battling Bob thought there actually was an attempt by Trump to get Russia to help him win the election, and by Russia to offer said help.

Really?

If Mueller truly believes that, he's as dumb as a mud fence. As I've also said before, Vladimir Putin is way too smart to believe that a weathervane like Donald Trump could be controlled.

But, that seems to be the case.

An Atlantic piece has a number of reasons to blame Robert Mueller's investigation of alleged collusion in its 14-point summary. I'll briefly tackle each of the 14 and why they reflect badly on Mueller, or Donut Twitter/The Resistance.
  1. Some interviewees using encrypted devices? Federal judges have ordered Apple to unlock iPhones, or else the Eff Bee Eye has done workarounds.
  2. The "can't charge a president"? Gee, I remember the Paula Jones lawsuit against Slick Willie was allowed to go forward while he was Prez, including Jones' team deposing him. If Mueller refused to challenge the OLC "guidance," again, on him. A number of constitutional law scholars have said it's either overbroad or nugatory. It should be nugatory, given that actual impeachment trials ONLY involve removal from office and not actual criminal convictions or penalties.
  3. I don't think the Trump Tower/Don Jr. meeting was collusion. Here, Mueller was sniffing The Resistance's chemtrails all along.
  4. Trump's "I'm fucked' means nothing legally. Why Mueller has it in the report, I don't know.
  5. Sessions, for all his issues, did not unrecuse himself. We're getting close to wanting to criminalize the First Amendment, Atlantic.
  6. Ditto on Trump and Don McGahn.
  7. Ditto on Trump wishing for Roy Cohn as his lawyer.
  8. The late-stage delay "reason" (excuse) for not subpoenaing Trump? As I said on my first piece about the report's release, that never bothered Archibald Cox, Lawrence Walsh, or Ken Starr. And, the idea that you're operating under a different special counsel statute is irrelevant here. You weren't put on a clock. Both here and point 2, at Politico, Paul Rosenzweig says "Mueller flinched." I agree. AND! Rosenzweig served under Shrub Bush AND on Ken Starr's staff. (Alan Dershowitz also agrees, at the link.) And, re flinching and Point 3, Mueller also refused to subpoena Don Jr.
  9. Trump "beside himself" is of no more legal relevance than his "I'm fucked."
  10. Whoever was the particular person to start writing the draft of what would be Trump's letter to Comey is interesting but irrelevant legally.
  11. Direct Russian offers of assistance? Name them or it's not so. At a minimum, state that it's a reference to the Internet Research Agency 12 indictments, and at least hint that it goes beyond what's been publicly revealed there.
  12. Sarah Hucksterman Sanders' lies to the press? Again, legally irrelevant.
  13. The Papadopoulos rabbit trail is just that, IMO. 
  14. Cohen-Trump talks? Asked and answered already. Why does The Lanyard bring them up again?
This whole thing is silly.

Beltway stenos continue to try to absolve themselves from misinterpreting shit, including the idea of collusion. Mueller pulled half his punches, that much is clear, and apparently was brewing his own batch of collusion Kool-Aid to boot. And, Donut Twitter and The Resistance will continue to glom on to this Beltway steno shit and ignore everything I just said about the reality of Mueller.

So, go vote!


Who doesn't like Twitter polls?

And, Putin, who meddled to do low-level meddling, not to elect Donald Trump, is laughing up his sleeve yet more at most of the non-Trump political establishment in Merika.

Once again, the bottom line:

What we really have, as I see it, is a lot of Donut Twitter wishing criminal law worked like civil law — preponderance of evidence instead of beyond a reasonable doubt. But, that AIN'T the way it works, quite fortunately.

Sadly, Mueller was a bit more out on that limb, it seems, than I would have thought.

Oh, and Marcy? Emptywheel? Since the investigation by Mueller is wrapped up, you're free to name your Evil Threatening Journalist you turned in to the Eff Bee Eye. You're free to name why you turned him in.

April 18, 2019

Mueller Report and collusion, conspiracy, obstruction:
Donut Twitter and The Resistance still fight reality

Now that a redacted version of the Mueller Report is out, it seems clear that Donut Twitter and The Resistance, etc., along with the Kossack Dead-End Kids, etc., still don't want to face reality.

First, as I said almost a full year ago to Emptywheel, speaking of Kossack Dead-End Kids, there is no such federal statute called "collusion." She's pretty much dropped that since then, but others, including people with about the same brain cells as the KrapYourStein Brothers, haven't let go.

Speaking of, Marcy, you still haven't named the other reporter/blogger or whatever you reported to the FBI because he allegedly scared the Putin out of you, have you? Name a name or I officially assume it's as fake as your collusion claims.

For further refudiation of BuzzFeed Ben, Jason Leopold, Madcow Maddow, Young Napolitano (Chris Hayes) and others, go to this Twitter thread by Aaron Mate.

That said, Trump/Kushner technically DID collude with Russia in an informal sense. And with many other countries. Per Mondoweiss, as the Mueller Report notes, it was all on behalf of Bibi, following up on what we already know about Gen. Flynn. Maybe that's why Trump wouldn't commute his sentence, let alone pardon him — he was unsuccessful.

As for the obstruction of justice, or conspiracy to do so? Even though the report says that Sarah Huck(st)erbee Sanders lied about why Trump fired Comey (in part), even if he was fired entirely because he wouldn't "publicly clear Trump," that still doesn't, in my opinion, rise to a conspiracy to obstruct justice, let alone actually doing so. I said that a month ago, and then as today, I say that while rejecting AG Barr's expansive idea of executive powers. Had Trump interfered with Mueller's work after he was named special prosecutor, it would be different. (At Politico, Josh Blackman notes that Mueller whiffed on whether or not he accepted Barr's idea that obstruction doesn't often apply to the president. That said, I disagree with Blackman's large agreement with Barr. But I do agree that Mueller should have been explicit one way or the other.)

Speaking of, did Trump drag his heels on responding to Mueller? Yes, and that's ultimately Mueller's fault for not subpoeaning him. Is that because Battling Bob believes in some degree of Rethuglican strong executive powers himself? Is it because he believes in a narrow sense of authority of special counsels?

Actually, no, he said he was worried about delays in the investigation. Well, that's a bullshit claim. It's a lazy man's claim. It's Mueller caving to the Republican chattering class claiming the investigation was already taking too long. Archibald Cox, Lawrence Walsh and Ken Starr never worried about that. Yes, they were under a different special counsel law, but the current one doesn't have time constraints either.

Related? If he, not just his staff, thought there was an actionable case of conspiracy, or actual obstruction — per criminal law not civil law standards — did he not pursue it because he believes in narrow lines about indicting presidents? Why did he not then make an impeachment recommendation? That too is on Mueller. Frankly, I believe — as do a number of constitutional law scholars — that the old DOJ finding that a sitting president cannot be indicted is constitutionally nugatory. That's for several reasons.

First, the fact that the Supreme Court allowed the Paula Jones lawsuit against President Clinton to proceed while he was in office, at least through the point of depositions. Parallel here would be indicting the president but deferring an actual trial until he left office.

This is important because, as shown in the Julian Assange indictment and arrest, crimes have statutes of limitation.

Second, that old DOJ finding should be nugatory for another reason. That is the fact that actual impeachment trials ONLY involve removal from office and not actual criminal convictions or penalties.

Otherwise? Given the leaks by members of Mueller's now-disbanded staff recently?
And:
This all said? I said six weeks ago, in a summary of several older blog posts, that Russia DID "meddle" in the US election, but without the goal of electing one candidate or not. I said it was Russian hacking, not Seth Rich (or somebody else) leaking that was behind the first set of DNC emails. (And the later Russian spearfishing is indirect support for the original emails being obtained by Russian hack. So, there, contra both ShirtLost DumbShit Zach Haller types, as I said a year ago, and also contra Julian Assange whatabouters, as I said a week ago, the Seth Rich conspiracy theory BS is disgusting.) And Frederick Theodore Rall III is inserting his limpness halfway into this. The reality, as I tweeted him, is that Assange and his toady Craig Murray both have good reason to lie about the source of the emails.

Meanwhile, Donut Twitter / The Resistance, exemplified by call-girl class stenos like Yoni Applebaum at Atlantic and Jon Chait at The New Yorker, continue to see the report as grounds for impeachment (for Chait, impeaching Barr), which it most certainly is not. Sadly, but not surprisingly, pseudo-progressive Dems like Down with Tyranny do the same.

And ignoring real Emoluments Clause grounds.

So, go vote!


Who doesn't like Twitter polls?

TX Progressives glad taxes are past,
sad Rethugs and ConservaDems still here


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The Texas Progressive Alliance says “Thanks Obama” at income tax time for this member’s having to pay a partial Obamacare penalty, with Tax Day on Monday. Meanwhile, here’s this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff was sadly not surprised to see Ken Paxton brush off the demand for documents relating to the bogus SOS advisory on non-citizen voters.

SocraticGadfly talks about a Texas history event known to relatively few Texans and to very few non-Texans: The Great Hanging at Gainesville.

David Bruce Collins offers an in memoriam to Texas Green Party pioneer Dr. George Reiter.

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

Texas Monthly opposes a state sales tax increase, as does the Texas Trib, yet surprisingly neither mention the backscenes mover on this, Rep. Drew Springer, even though the Texas Observer profiled him and his new day job 18 months ago and explained why he would push this.

Raise Your Hand Texas believes in the power of pre-K.

Christopher Hooks wonders why Dan Patrick would support Presidential actions that would harm the Texas economy.

John Tanner wants alternatives to the STAAR test for school accountability

Juanita finds Louie Gohmert's intellectual twin.

Grits for Breakfast notes Greg Abbott's flipflop on marijuana reform.

Better Texas Blog would prefer to keep kids on health insurance plans, thanks very much.

The Texas Observer explores attempts to revitalize the old Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. 

The Observer notes that state Democrats are stillpiecemealing the fight to maintain local control over what should be local issues.

Dallas County DA John Creuzot won’t criminally prosecute first time pot offenders, one of a raft of reforms from his office the Dallas Observer notes. Grits has more.

Jim Schutze has a three-year-and-wait update on the unopened Calatrava bridge across the Trinity in Dallas. 

Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville) tells Gov. Strangeabbott to butt out of his federal bill bringing more fairness to Indian gaming in Texas. The Fertitta family of Houston Rockets ownership and other things maybe expects its campaign dinero to Abbott to get this type of action.