SocraticGadfly: 6/11/06 - 6/18/06

June 17, 2006

NBA Finals, Game 4/Game 5 preview

First, this is Eastern Conference/Pat Riley basketball the Heat played in Game 4. (Remember Riles’ 1994 Knicks?) And the refs allowed some of it.

Well, from game to game, the officiating differs. (And WHY doesn’t the NBA keep the same three refs all the way through a series? No other major sport does this. You don’t get different umps at each World Series game.)

If it’s being allowed, then Dallas has to play, not look over their shoulders for foul calls that aren’t going to be given them.

Yes, that’s you, Dirk. The “soft European” and “soft Maverick” labels are in danger of being resurrected. And it’s in large part on your shoulders to knock them down, especially with the Stackhouse suspension.

But it’s not just your shoulders. Josh Howard needs to get rebounds or something if he can’t hit the broad side of a backboard with the ball.

And Avery Johnson? Yes, it’s player execution, but it’s also something to do with your defenses as to why Dwyane Wade is getting so many rebounds. Don’t allow his defensive man to be the doubler when you double-team Shaq. When you’re in zone, make it more of a matchup zone or a box-and-one, for the same reason.

He’s not so much like a young Michael Jordan as he is a young Jerry West in some ways, as he finds a nose for rebounding. Rub it out.

Finally, I don’t by the line of folks like ESPN’s Mark Stein, who say Miami needs this game worse than Dallas. If the Mavs lose, that “soft” label is coming in like a tidal wave.

June 16, 2006

Wright Amendment compromise: I guess a third of a loaf is better than none

I'll only call it a third of a loaf because of:

1. The eight-year wait to actually lift the Wright flight restrictions.

2. Southwest agreeing to just 16 gates at Love Field instead of, say, 24. (On the other hand, that's still more than the 14 they operate now, though they own more than that.

3. The poison pill that Southwest has to forfeit half its gates at Love if Congress passes a plan with a faster timetable.

Was Southwest CEO Gary Kelly that desperate? Is this a sign he thinks Democrats will gain a majority in Congress in November, so it's better to sign off now on this inter-city deal between Dallas and Fort-Worth, and between Love and D/FW, and present it to Congress rather than waiting?

Well, without stating the reason why, Southwest founder Herb Kelleher said his airline was in a hurry.

As Herb says here:
“We need to get this done quickly. Neither of us is interested in having year after year after year of campaigning and lobbying and fighting going on if we can possibly avoid it.”

In any case, if this gets approved by Congress, the through-ticketing restrictions get lifted immediately.

There are other reasons to look askance at what may be little more than Wright-lite even after the eight years have passed and the long-distance flight restrictions have been lifted.

First, we still won’t have international travel from Wright. I know, I know, Southwest doesn’t do international travel. But, especially if “Airline No. 3” had more than two gates at Love, don’t you think they’d be interested in flying business travelers to Mexico City? Or maybe Toronto or Ottawa? Or, going back south again, tourists headed toward Cancun or Puerto Vallarta would love to hop a flight from Love. But, with just two gates to use, it’s doubtful Airline No. 3 would do that. Of course, Houston Hobby, similar to Love, is also a domestic-only airport.

For that matter, with only two gates, will Love get an Airline No. 3 to even jump in the fray? Sure, Southwest likes to talk about the dominance of American at D/FW, but taking the two airports together as one service area, American and Southwest together really have the Metroplex blanketed. Continental already sounds uninterested. Jet Blue is still new enough it’s not going to spread itself that thinly across two airports in one metropolitan region. And, and …

What happens to those gates if nobody takes them within, say, three years? Does Southwest get first shot at them? American? Do they remain idle? Do they get withdrawn?

Besides eventually giving us something better than what we have now, the only unmitigated good I see coming out of this is the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth acting together as an ersatz airport authority until we get the real deal some day down the road. Oh, yes, increasing the landing fees at Love also is very sensible.

Finally, will opening Love up really make that much difference? Here’s a complete list of cities that Southwest serves out of Houston Hobby. A lot of it is in-state service:
· Albuquerque, Austin, Baltimore/Washington, Birmingham (AL), Chicago-Midway, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Love, Denver, El Paso, Fort Lauderdale, Harlingen, Jackson (MS), Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Midland/Odessa, Nashville, New Orleans, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, Tampa, Tulsa.

According to Flight Aware, Hobby runs 317 commercial flights a day. Love Field runs 216. (For comparison, DFW runs 1,339 a day.) Sure, Southwest is going to want to ramp up operations with through ticketing eliminated, even before long-distance flight restrictions are removed in eight years. And, perhaps they haven’t been running their operations at Love at full throttle.

And, we need to count the total 20 gates, not just the 16 that Southwest will get.

BUT… can all airlines at these 20 gates really get anywhere close to 317 flights a day with just 20 gates?

Let’s do a little simple math. The six additional gates is a 30 percent increase. Now, 30 percent of 216 is 65. Add 216 and 65 and you’re at 281. Now, that’s in the neighborhood of 317, but it’s still 36 fewer flights. For comparison, Hobby has 22 gates. It seems a better solution would have been to open Love to 22 gates, give Southwest one more for 17, leave American at two (they do little flying from Hobby, and likely wouldn’t use more than 2 gates at Love), and leave three gates for “Airline No. 3,” along with providing for reversion or non-use provisions for these three gates.

If this version of Wright repeal passes as stands, where will Southwest fly that they don’t already? Take the list of its Hobby flights, and remember that with fewer gates, you have to prune that list. Throw out Jackson and Jacksonville off the top of your head. Cut back the service it already offers to Birmingham, and probably to Little Rock. Look for it to trim all the smaller in-state service and only fly to the cities it does from Hobby.

In-state, either Lubbock or Amarillo flights get eliminated, or both get severely trimmed. Harlingen gets trimmed, too, I’m guessing.

And that’s your list.

Finally, does American really need eight years to adjust to this? In that case, we need to call it a dinosaur airline, not a “legacy airline,” and wonder if it has troubles deeper than Love Field. Heck, even GM can get a new car design on the road faster than that.

In other words, just as before its 1980s breakup, AT&T long distance service was a cash cow for local service, is American’s service at DFW a cash cow for its operations elsewhere in the country? Is it really on that rickety of financial legs?

Also, from the tourist traveler point of view, with this removing a major "apples and oranges" comparison problem, I hope that, if Congress approves this, that Southwest immediately starts listing its flights again on Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, etc.

Armando corporate client watch

Wal-Mart union-busting? Say it isn’t so.

But it is, and now in the United Kingdom.

Liz Cattaneo of American Rights at Work reports:
Asda Wal-Mart, as the company is known in the U.K., reneged on an agreement to recognize unions at all of its distribution centers. When employees spoke out about the broken agreement, Asda Wal-Mart apparently imported Wal-Mart’s anti-union handbook: pro-union employees reportedly faced threats, suspensions, propaganda, intimidation, and even firings.

Good thing that true liberal, Mr. Armando Llorens Sar, is doing such yeoman work for Wally-World via that incredibly progressive law firm, McConnell Valdés, where he’s a partner.

First-time Kos diarist says Busby made multiple mistakes in CA-50 special election

Says that to some degree, she became “just a contestant in an ugly mud slinging contest.” He does not spare anything in calling her “you don’t need papers to vote” comment a “gaffe.” Also, the DCCC is cited for clueless ads, and Kos is cited for (shock me) hyperbolically demonizing Bilbray.

June 15, 2006

Being a physics genius doesn’t necessarly make you an astronomy genius

Stephen Hawking is advocating lunar and Martian space colonies. However, he’s apparently unaware of the most recent research by inner solar-system astronomers which indicates that just a manned journey to Mars, leaving alone the idea of settlement, appears to be much more problematic now than it was at one time.

The difficulty or concern? It’s not mechanics or logistics. Rather, research has shown the cosmic ray danger to be higher, even much higher, than previously thought.

Fourth Amendment now gutted

With the Supreme Court saying failure to knock before entering a residence on a warrant was a valid good-faith exercise and so evidence obtained should not be excluded, we have now witnessed the official evisceration of the Fourth Amendment.

In essence, police departments who want to push the envelope on no-knock searches have now put the Fourth Amendment burden on defendants.

BUT, probably, O’Connor would have voted in the majority on this, so Alito’s presence was not what killed this. Some commentors differ, but I am not so sure of that.

The Sun Belt way of life to end; good-bye, Lake Powell, good-bye L.A., Phoenix and Vegas

With the leadup to a U.N. day to celebrate the desert, U.N. and other experts predict that, due to global warming and climate change, Colorado River basin rainfall will decline as much as 15 percent while temperatures could rise as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

None of the dammed lakes on the Colorado River would be much more than a pond by 2050 with climate change numbers like that. And, at that size, that means no electric generation for Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Say good night, overpopulated desert. About time.

The good part is, that’s where some of the most conservative Republicans live (well, Vegas is somewhat of an exception). The bad part is that, if they have to move, they could move near me.

NBA Finals, Game 3

OK, so I'm a day late and the Mavs don’t rule, because of a fourth-quarter choke.

Not looking for excuses, but the officiating was horrible in the fourth quarter. The Shaq push on Dampier, Dirk getting mugged by Posey and Haslem… in short, Dallas got homered.

Markos and his discontents, i.e., the Dowd-y Markos

As Kos lies about not giving a shit about the MSM

Markos calls Maureen Dowd “insecure and catty.” Contrary to his blatherings, I didn’t see any condescension toward Wonkette being at Time in her story. The only condescension was his toward Dowd.

What did she do, not kiss his ass enough? Kiss it while not wearing a lip condom?

The Flaming Redhead shouldn’t worry; Kos doesn’t want to be coopted, not while in-power Swedish Socialists still cry across the ocean for his help.

Of course, Kos gives the lie to his own self after being asked about whether the mainstream media was attacking Kossackism, a theoretical stand-in for progressivism in general, but not an actual stand-in.

“Who gives a shit,” Kos said?

Well, YOU DO, liar.

If you didn’t, you wouldn’t submit to the Dowd interview for her column and you wouldn’t have faced Old Rusty on Press the Meat last Sunday.

Kos, please, at least make your lies less transparent.

Re Dowd and Wonkette at Time, I saw nothing catty about Dowd’s column. Nor did I see any jealousy in her column. I must say, though, that Time is either desperate or idiotic, or a bit of both, to hire a semi-regularly semi-drunken or semi-clueless shiksha like her.

June 13, 2006

Quick Draw McCensorship Armando

I posted a link to my Armando’s corporate shilldom (or should that be corporate whoring?) post at Swords Crossed, and Armando and his Storm Troopers are even faster than Kos and the original Brown Shirts at censorship.

Five, maybe 10 minutes, max, and my post was deleted.

The Astroturf doormat at Kos

More bitching about DKos advertisingthis time Astroturf for a telecom front group opposing Internet neutrality. I’m surprised the diarist didn’t also point out the watertower and team mascot issue to boot.

My theory on Rove not being in Fitzgerald’s crosshairs

Ultimately, yes, there may be some sort of cooperation deal we don’t know about.

But, there are other possibilities.

One is that Rove is simply that good, to even beat Fitz. Not likely, as bulldoggish as Fitz is, but don’t totally discount it, either. Possibility No. 2 is one of cost-effectiveness. The degree of wrongdoing of what Fitz believed Rove had done may not have been enough to justify additional man-hour expenditures.

But, my theory is, Rove was actually doing, to some degree, what Bush has him for — playing presidential politics.

We know that much of the specific pseudo-evidence for the invasion of Iraq was ginned up in Cheney’s office. My guess is that the Plame outing may have already gone enough down the road before Rove got wind of it that he had a tough choice.

Ride the whirlwind while trying to tame it, and risk getting his fingers legally burned in the process, or stand by and risk the whole thing blowing up in Bush’s face due to Cheney’s heavyhandedness.

Rove took Option A.

Now, this is not to excuse anything illegal he may have done. But, it is to illustrate just how much Cheney has been the engine on Iraq, operating behind Bush’s back.

June 12, 2006

I heard about this new blog ...

It’s called ”Messianic Markos”. It could be interesting.

My dKos/Armando anger doesn’t make me a conservative or a troll

As for you conservatives leaving congratulatory remarks here, if Markos himself (maybe, just maybe even Armando) were running against one of your ponies, I’d hold my nose and vote for Kos.

No, take that back. I’d find a way to vote Green, or else not vote, possibly.

But, if you put a gun to my head, I’d vote Kos over one of your ponies.

Markos goes on an “outing,” but others can’t take Armando for his own “outing”

This blog entry from Byron York shows that in Markos’ Orwellian world, not all “outings” are equal. It’s OK for him to “out” people, but not for associates of his like Armando to be outed, eh?
Moulitsas himself has set an example for withdrawing support from—and threatening—those who have anything to do with statements that Moulitsas finds objectionable. For example, in January, he reacted angrily to a comment from Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf, who, in an interview with the Washington Post, discussed the role of netroots activists in future campaigns. “The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left,” Elmendorf told the paper. In response, Moulitsas wrote:
Mr. Elmendorf almost got it right. The trick, in reality, is to stop appearing like our Democrats are held captive to sleazebag amoral lobbyists. Here’s notice, any Democrat associated with Elmendorf will be outed. The netroots can then decide for itself whether it wants to provide some of that energy and money to that candidate.

Too harsh on Armando?

So indicates a major, moderately progressive blogger, while agreeing in an e-mail that Armando was “out there” already as far as visibility. This blogger apparently did not pick up on, or else did not give credence to, the difference between Armando actually being a partner at McConnell Valdés and just being a staff attorney.

As I replied, by accepting a partnership, Armando signed on the bottom line that he was in agreement with McConnell Valdés’ corporate philosophy.

Too harsh on Armando? I think not.

What, me worry about Peak Oil? And how do you get to be called a “science writer” at Reason?

Those were my top two thoughts after reading a two-month old essay on Peak Oil denial by Ronald Bailey, science writer for Reason, run on the Sunday op-ed section of The Dallas Morning Snooze.

Given that the real masthead slogan of Reason should be: “Where an irrational dedication to economic and social hyper-libertarianism trumps common sense, logic, empirical evidence and deductive reasoning,” I just don’t see how you can honestly be a science writer there.

But, this is also the magazine of people who stubbornly insist that economics, a social “science” with less logic, and less logical human behavior, than Freudian psychoanalysis, actually has logical actors and can be logically dissected.

So, let’s logically dissect it.

His essay isn’t worth the time for an in-depth refutation, so I’ll just touch on the highlights.

Cambridge Energy Research Associates, led by Daniel Yergin as its chief “no peak oil” fluffer, is cited as “probably the most respected private oil consultancy in the world.”

CERA "most respected"? Please, isn't this the CERA that's been predicting $40/bbl oil? It’s only most respected amongst the coterie of “no peak oil fluffers.

Next he cites the work of Michael Economides, who smokes enough Yergin crack cocaine to come up with a whopper line like this:
“I can produce 20 million barrels of oil in Saudi Arabia.”

Economides is a crank. The Saudis have already admitted Ghawar’s water cut has been increasing, although they don’t like to discuss a 30 percent water cut. And despite talking for two-three years or more about how they could up production to 12.5 million bbl/day, they haven't done it, have they? No. Maybe Economides can produce 20 million barrels of brine.

Economides is a crank again on making reference to 1976 U.S. oil production estimates for allegedly showing how wrong Peak Oil forecasters are. That was, of course, before deep-water drilling. And, speaking of deep-sea drilling, we’ve seen how rapidly British and Norwegian North Sea production is starting to fall off.

Also, Bailey well knows (if he’s actually a real science writer) that peak oil estimates of recoverable reserves allow for increasing prices making marginal recovery methods more viable. But, following up on his second reference to Economides, he pretends that Peak Oil projectors have always worked with static recovery models and therefore will always get it wrong.

Bailey then goes on to further discuss just how great he thinks domestic reserves are. Given Reason’s head in the sand on global warming in particular and environmental issues in general, I note Bailey’s current U.S. estimates don’t break out WHERE all of our supposedly vast domestic oil is at, i.e., ANWR, Santa Barbara coast, etc.

Then, he fails to mention, shockingly fails to mention, given Reason’s eco-libertarianism, the spate of oil company buyouts/mergers, and the reason they have happened — buying up reserves that the major oil companies know don't exist outside of buying up other companies. In other words, Big Oil, by its mergers, shows on the capitalist bottom line it knows the Peak is near.

But Bailey claims OPEC will do another 1980s self-inflicted wound if it, or individual members, brandishes “the oil weapon” again. (Journalistic cliché: weapons are always brandished.)

But, because of all of the above, there IS NO “oil weapon” to brandish. The only oil weapon OPEC members have had is an overstatement of reserves, as Matt Simmons has already pointed out.

That said, early or late peak, it is true that private companies don't have a lot of leverage on this issue. That’s the only bit of actual reason Bailey has in the entire article.

NBA Finals, Game 2 - Mavs rule

Yes, the Mavs are for real!

Hey, NBA fans, would you have believed it two or three years ago if I had told you the Mavs would be in the Finals AND the top fan chant would be a football-like “Dee-fense”?

June 11, 2006

Kos’ Messianic Markos: Which statement is nuttiest?

Under Door No. 1 we have Kos saying that at the start of the decade, he was thinking about joining the CIA. (No links provided; I refuse to link there.)

Behind Door No. 2 is his claim that every CIA agent he met during the process of exploring joining them was really a liberally.

Door No. 3 holds Kossacks drinking Kool-Aid while nodding their heads in the belief that this is really true, that we really do have a liberal CIA. (It’s just hidden by a tin-foil cloaking device, right?)

And, behind Door No. 4, we have Markos’ claim that Sweden’s Social Democrats, who have been in or shared governmental power for about 80 percent of the country’s post-World War II history, asked him for help.

I haven’t read a Kos diary about it yet, but surely, Door No. 5 holds Kool-Aid drinking Kossacks marveling that the powers of Messianic Markos are now being invoked in Scandinavia.

YearlyKos? Or Amway?

Judging from comments by independent-minded progressive bloggers who have been at the over-ballyhood YearlyKos event in Vegas, I would say the latter.

And that droll, clever Markos, so wittily spinning off the Vegas marketing theme by saying, “Don’t let what happens here stay here.” What wit!