December 13, 2018

Beto2020 — the Kool-Aid is poured
and many are chugging it

The amount of Kool-Aid that's already being poured for a presidential run for ConservaDem Beto O'Rourke is mind-boggling. So is the amount of people — including Texans who I thought were either better thinkers than that or better informed than that — who are willfully drinking.

A few thoughts:

1. Were I voting in the 2020 primary (let's assume I am still in Tex-ass and that I figure Greens have no chance of a successful ballot access petition) while Bernie Sanders' age (if he runs again) would concern me, I would vote him over Beto in a heartbeat. Per what I have seen on Effbook, Beto as a younger, if not totally progressive, than allegedly not ConservaDem, option to Bernie, is nonsense.

2. Among the national neoliberal chattering class (Neera Tanden at Center for American Progress et al) Beto is clearly taking more shape as a stop-Bernie possibility.

2A. Both the 1 and 2 camps tout "winnability." In other words, "lesser evilism." Currently, that's more a lesser evilism from ignorance than willfulness in Camp 1, but it's willfulness more than ignorance in Camp 2.

3. It is true that, because of his near success against Havana Ted Cruz, that wingers and fellow travelers fear him. As I've noted, two such fellow travelers have lied in claiming that Beto is a single-payer guy as part of claiming he ran a bad campaign. The lie is obviously a placeholder to extend nationally Havana Ted's smear. The bad campaign claim is shown to be untrue by the fact that, while he lost, Beto finished closer to Havana Ted than the best poll predictions. (Per Real Clear Politics, only one outlying Emerson poll showed a race closer than 3 percentage points and none ever showed O'Rourke with a lead.)

4. In light of Group 2, while Beto will face a few "takedown" pieces if he leans more toward running, he'll also get plenty of national media puff pieces like he did this year. After all, John Nichols at The Nation showed his hackery by writing a puff piece on someone who not only is not a DSA rose, but actually was non-endorsed by some local chapters of Our Revolution. Anne Helen Peterson's gushing for BuzzFeed is a bit more forgivable on account of biased laziness; Nichols knows better, or at a minimum, he has a history and body of work that shows he should know better.

Meanwhile, Beto, obviously taking a page from Sanders getting a bad rap, has already met with both Dear Leader and Al Sharpton.

That said, there's other Kool-Aid already out there besides Beto.

Kamela Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand are both being image-buffed. Donut Twitter will probably throw both out as women along with complaints that Bernie is anti-woman. Women's issues will remain important, though the rough edges of MeToo will fade in a year.

Anyway, I vote based on foreign as well as domestic policy.

Who is, say, under 65, or better yet, under 60, three-quarters or more as progressive on domestic policy in Dem ranks as Bernie, and even close to him on foreign policy? No Democrat that I see. Elizabeth Warren is over 65, self-damaged goods in some ways, and already criticizing of BDS.

That said, no "name," presidential-aspirant Democrats are great on foreign policy. Bernie's the best of a bad lot. Beyond being iffy himself on BDS, he's dabbled in the collusion Kool-Aid, speaking of that beverage. And, an alleged Texas socialist at Splinter claims its best he should step aside and try to nudge Warren leftward. Jacobin just torpedoed that.

December 10, 2018

TX Progressives talk cooperation, vote turnout, more

The Texas Progressive Alliance knows the value of cooperation as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff made two last attempts to find a relationship between straight ticket voting and Democratic likeliness to "drop off" from long ballots.

As winter meetings arrive, SocraticGadfly switches from politics to baseball to applaud the Cardinals for the Paul Goldschmidt trade.

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

Texas Monthly introduces its 31 power brokers.

At the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze says the latest Trinity River plan is “Six Flags for rich people.”

Stephen Young notes that, despite Betomania, Texas voting turnout, at least in midterms, STILL sux.

Texas Observer runs the syndicated Jim Hightower column that his syndicator, Creators, wouldn’t.

Better Texas Blog warns of the dangers of short term health insurance plans.

Paradise in Hell wants to see that Confederate plaque in the Capitol banished.

Texas Vox takes a first look an environmental bills for the 86th Lege.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that funding schools is the state's responsibility.

Juanita always takes the time to marvel at the wonder of Louie Gohmert.

The Lunch Tray explains the latest USDA announcement on school mean nutrition policy.

David Bruce Collins takes aim at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders.

Two possible Cardinals trades?

The first is pretty straightforward. The Indians have indicated that Cory Kluber and possibly Trevor Bauer might be available via trade. Carlos Carrasco had also been mentioned earlier but he's now off the market with a contract extension. Also, the Bauer possibility seemed more speculation by other teams than anything hard from the Tribe as he still has two years of arbitration control. The resigning of Carrasco, fairly cheaply, means that the team might move Kluber, though.

The Cardinals, with their own Paul Goldschmidt trade, discussed by me here, have some room to deal now.

Jedd Gyorko is superfluous with the presumed move of Matt Carpenter to third. Jose Martinez has a great bat plus a stone glove and so is ideally an AL DH guy, and the rise of Tyler O'Neill means outfield room is needed, at least if he's ready for a full-time role. I'm not saying Gyorko plus Martinez swing the deal by themselves, but, it's a start.

This lets the Cards have another arm to help move beyond Adam Wainwright, unless he has a major rebound in 2019, and to decide more how much to pay Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha a year from now. (Any contract the Cards give Wacha should be cash-low and incentive-high based on his injury history.)

I don't know who besides Gyorko and Martinez would make a package, but it's worth further thought. I would be willing to include a pitcher back as long as its not Mikolas, Carlos Martinez or Alex Reyes, and not the hottest of minors prospects.

For Cleveland, they could use Jose Martinez this year as a corner outfielder, since Melky Cabrera's a free agent not likely to be resigned unless as a cheap fourth OF, and Michael Brantley (who may be resigned?) is also a free agent. Martinez could mix this with first baseman and DH. They could then, a year from now, buy out Edwin Encarnacion's option for 2020 and let him walk, while rebuilding their outfield.

Should a trade like this come off, or even if not, I don't think Derrick Goold has the correct Cardinals lineup by batting order.

Assuming Kolten Wong is injury-free and mentally rejuvenated on a full year free of Mike Matheny micromanaging him, I put him at the top of the lineup. Harrison Bader (if he cuts his strikeouts) second. Carp, another lefty, is third. And he needs to get a mindset. Goldy is in cleanup. Yadi fifth. That gets you L-R-L-R through the first four spots. Of course, it's righty-heavy after that. (Yes, a certain Bryce Harper would fix that, but I don't see that happening. Michael Brantley would also fix it. So would Nick Markakis, but I think he had an Indian Summer year last year.) Another option is shoving all the above people up a spot and dropping Marcell Ozuna somewhere in 2-5, but then slotting Wong no lower than sixth. Or dropping him to eighth and if Dexter Fowler is still here, putting him in one of the top three slots as a switch hitter IF he reverts to 2017 or earlier.

Speaking of ...


The second trade, that I've seen suggested elsewhere? A salary dump swap. Fowler goes back to the Rockies for Wade Davis. Salaries are just about dead even. Both might benefit from change of scenery, and the Cards are still in the look for a closer.

Rockies might have a hole to fill. Would be tough for Dex to move past Gerardo Parra and Charlie Blackmon, but the free agency of Carlos Gonzales leaves right field open. David Dahl has looked decent for them in cups of coffee in 2016 and a partial season in 2018, but they might still want another outfielder.

That said, if that trade happens? Geez, we're a righty-heavy team at the plate.

And, it very well could not happen. Mo says he's OK with Fowler as his starting right fielder.

December 07, 2018

Mesa Verde — one last trip?

Mesa Verde of today illustrates well several of the issues that face today's National Park Service as a whole, and individual parks, including some that Southwestern parks face in an era of advances in science and in worries about climate change effects.

From the area of the fire tower on Mesa Verde, looking north-northwest.
Nearly a decade ago, I almost swore that the visit I made then to Mesa Verde might be my last ever.

That was about a year or two after the National Park Service and park staff required people wanting to see Cliff Palace and, I believe, Balcony House to queue up for guided tours. No more individual trail walking.

I understood why. It was a mix of the site being loved to death with carelessness as part of that, along with theft and probably vandalism (name-graffiti) too. Didn't mean I had to like what this made the park, as well as the obscene criminality or the carelessness from casual visitors. I did the tours, or at least Cliff Palace, because it was the first time in many years, and only the second time as an adult, I'd visited. But I didn't like it.

And I almost swore it off.

But not quite.

And, I decided to spend part of a day there while doing some down time at my brother's in Farmington.

Statue at new visitor center
I got there and saw a nice artistic statue outside a nice spiffy new visitor center.

And found out that you now have to buy tickets for tours to those two ruins at that spiffy new visitor center. Nope.

I get the idea there, too. If theft and vandalism are still happening, you have a record of who visited, with contact and ID information. But, I don't need to pay, or I shouldn't need to pay. In any case, I was short on time and had other parts of the park to visit. (I still have yet to visit Wetherill Mesa, at least as an adult. Maybe I will and maybe I won't make another trip; if I do, it likely will be just to there.)

Anyway, the theft and vandalism are happening. The trail to Spruce Tree House, closed because of rockfall damage, was "posted" to be under video surveillance. (The trail remained closed as of the time I wrote this, so one can still only see at a distance.)

Megalithic House kiva vandalism. (All the shiny silver
in the sipapu and near it are dimes or other coins.)
And, at a partially excavated site, the Megalithic House site, people had thrown money inside the kiva. That, too, is vandalism, folks.

So, with the possible exception of taking the separate road to Wetherill Mesa, consider this to indeed be swearing off further Mesa Verde visits. (That said, the Long House site there also requires a ticket now.)

It's also "interesting" that Mesa Verde has gone to "frequency pricing." A year ago, the Park Service proposed peak-season fees at 17 other sites, but they're already in place at Mesa Verde. That said, on-season and off-season only differ by $5 at Mesa Verde, not $30 or more.

Meanwhile, parts of Mesa Verde feel frozen in time. Not frozen in time of 700 years ago, but of 70-100 years ago.

Mesa Verde's old, original Chapin Mesa Visitor Center is a repository for
Anasazi artifacts, but is the information presented along with them up to date?
Most the dioramas at the Chapin Mesa Visitor Center were made in the Depression, by CCC laborers. I'm not looking for Mark Zuckerberg to offer Oculus Rift virtual reality. However, there's been a lot of Anasazi study in the past 70-80 years (setting aside whether any information on any of the dioramas was starting to go out of date even at the time they were created). Tastefully more modern displays with up-to-date information would be welcomed.

With appropriate money, a park staffer to lead guided tours through the museum and updated exhibits once or twice a day would also be welcomed by many, I would think.

That's if money for that becomes available from new and additional funding for the Park Service in general. Sorry, Democrats, including a few alleged progressives who actually aren't, but using part of BLM's oil and gas fee money to fund the Park Service is NOT the answer and I really don't know why you think, or ever thought, it is. See below for more on that.

And, the dioramas would take a definite back seat to more urgent needs, even more urgent than reopening the trail to Spruce Tree House.

Out of service on Chapin Mesa
Oh, like fixing a fire hydrant that would be the only salvation for those visitor center dioramas should a fire sweep through the heart of the park. Given this summer's wildfire season, which was bad enough in the Four Corners before California knocked it off the front page, this is simply inexcusable. Per the cutline, this is right next door to the Chapin Mesa Visitors Center and buildings complex.

We know that climate change is only going to make the Southwest hotter and drier. Fire hydrants like this need to be fixed immediately. Not tomorrow or six months later, but immediately.

I don't know if that's the only one broken. Probably not. And, I don't know why it's out of order. Old water lines would be one guess, though. In other words, the out-of-service hydrant is a symbol and stand-in for larger infrastructure problems at the park, and the park, in a mountain-desert transition area, is at a juncture of climate change environments.

(Update: I have been informed [which I hoped] that this is not the only hydrant on the mesa. I will be getting further information on the status of it, others, and the why, probably in a week or so.)

And, that is not all that needs to be fixed, either.

NPS facility or private inholding remnant? Either way, it's ugly and unsafe.
Although Mesa Verde does not have the degree of problems of some national parks, it does have, or had, two private inholdings. (I don't know how recent the link is, but it appears to date to the 1970s. From what I can tell, the Sheek inholding was bought in the 1980s, but I still don't see that having happened on the Hindmarsh.) And the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund remains at the mercy of Congressional wingnuts. I don't know if the facility pictured at right is part of a private inholding or not; it looks like an oil tank battery, but could be something for wastewater from the nearby Far View Lodge. I don't recall that sign on the fence explicitly saying it's private property.

That said, let's say it is for the hotel, and it's government-owned. It's a fricking eyesore. The standard chain-link fencing doesn't help. Find the money and the labor — maybe through one of the student conservation programs — to build something like an inexpensive adobe wall. Said wall would also have containment value should either one of those tanks burst, as well. Water, sewage or whatever is in them, as it stands, that's a safety issue as well as an eyesore.

And, no, Raul Grijalva, taking a Ryan Zinke idea and turd-polishing it, of using BLM oil and gas funds to help pay for additional Park Service money, is not the answer. Ethically at least, especially on the issue of Southwestern parks facing climate change, your "answer" is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Personally, I would go back to the old Parks Pass at, say, $75 a year. Bump the All Access Pass to $100 — and make clear it covers ALL normal USFS fee areas. (Along with that, revising the 1872 mining act and other things would be part of the ideal plan.) I would be OK with some "peak pricing," as long as not too steep from off-peak times.

As for the paid tours, or the tours in general, and vandalism likely still happening there, as well as sites like Megalithic House? There's always the Ed Abbey answer — put it all under the equivalent of shrink wrap and close access entirely.

December 06, 2018

Goldy to the Cards? I approve of this trade

The St. Louis Cardinals have gotten slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, prospect Andy Young and a comp balance draft pick in the second round.

Even for "just" a one-year rental, it's not bad. If the Cards can resign him, it's great. If not, they'll get back at least the lost draft pick and then some with a first-round choice.

The rise of Andrew Knizner was deemed quick enough that Mo must have considered Kelly expendible as a backup catcher and still not likely to be No. 1 as long as Yadier Molina was around.

Luke Weaver probably doesn't have too much higher of a ceiling than he's already shown in St. Louis.

Andy Young has some positional versatility, but hadn't made it to Memphis yet at age 24. He likely would have been the next Greg Garcia or Yairo Munoz, and the Cards already have both of those.

Matt Carpenter is obviously moving now, but where? Second, or third? And, what happens then to either Kolten Wong or Jedd Gyorko? If you're going to move one or the other, I move Gyorko. Two years older, more expensive contract on the one year that's left, and if he did want to walk a year from now, the Cards wouldn't tender him and so would get nothing back. (OTOH, this reduces his trade value now.)

Beyond that, I expect Wong to make a jump forward with a full year free of the double-guessing of Matheny as manager.

That said the Cards could make Gyorko a supersub again. Or if Paul DeJong struggles again, put Jedd at short. Or Munoz, of course. (Unlike what still seems to be a majority of Cards fans, and Cards ownership, I am not a DeJong fan. Weirdly, a guy like Mark Townsend at Yahoo calls him a "proven producer" when he's not.)

This would seem to rule out Manny Machado, if he was on the Cards' radar in the first place. It does NOT rule out Bryce Harper, or a free agent pitcher, or a trade for a starter.

As for the possibility of resigning Goldy? His current $14.5M plus the $13M of Gyorko add up to $27.5M. That's enough money to resign Goldy without a payroll increase. Six years at that AAV, front-loaded a modest amount?

December 05, 2018

American exceptionalism and presidential mourning

That's what's behind this picture at the George H.W. Bush funeral.

And, the mainstream media, insisting it is part of this ruling class as the Fourth Estate, insists we mourn. Because without such mourning, especially when based on the mythos of American exceptionalism, both that mythos and the American empire associated with it are hard to maintain.

So, with both George H.W. Bush and John McCain, the Fifth Estate insists we mourn — for the mythos of these individuals to prop up the mythos of American exceptionalism and American imperium.

Of course, there are exceptions. The media exceptions are usually from the left, with the exception of a few paleoconservative and libertarian sites that will object to the foreign policy of the likes of Poppy Bush and the Schmuck Talk Express.

What needs to be mourned, instead, is the tenacity of this mythos, and the tenacity of the subservience to it of the 99 percent of American media.