SocraticGadfly: 7/14/13 - 7/21/13

July 18, 2013

Tom Pauken starts venting his #xenophobia

Pauken, Greg Abbott's alleged "competition" for the GOP nomination for governor in Texas, rightly questions the Texas Education Agency's contract for school testing services with Pearson.

That contract has come under fire for lack of transparency, violating the state's "revolving door" statute on state officials immediately going to work for related private businesses, and more.

But, then, he "went there" (emphasis added in quote):
"In view of the State Auditor’s Office report criticizing Texas’ $462 million contract with the British firm Pearson as too vague, it should be more evident to everyone that the entire contract needs to be eliminated.

“My policy as governor would be to work with the Texas Education Agency to find a more sensible and less costly way of testing our public school students’ levels of achievement. There are better ways of ensuring accountability in public education while also maintaining high standards.

“I have previously called for completely ending the contract with this British-owned company. It is increasingly obvious that now is the time to end this contract.”
Good thing it's "fish and chips" instead of "fish and British fries," eh? 

The contract is wrong because it's wrong, period. No xenophobic references needed. And,  Deepwater Horizon aside, what does Pauken think of BP, the former British Petroleum? Or Royal Dutch Shell?

Meanwhile, the Dallas Morning News reports the revolving door has been shut again.

Meanwhile, where was Comptroller Susan Combs during all this? It's arguable that she was AWOL from monitoring that her agency has a right to do. Yes, the state auditor is the first line of defense, but, if that office wasn't going to intervene, the comptroller's office could have, IMO.

Finally, this is why Greg Abbott thinks he can do a general-election focused panderfest during the primary. Pauken makes him look sane, and offers little real competition.

The man has no electoral politics brains whatsoever.

If he did, instead of Brit-bashing, he'd be rhetorically asking how the revolving door issues flew by Abbott's office without an adversarial AG's opinion.

Instead, it's the same xenophobia we saw over the Trans-Texas Corridor. It too was wrong. But Cintra being a Spanish company, as wingnuts repeatedly mouthed, had nothing to do with it being wrong.

Racial profiling: #IOKIYAO

For Democrats, especially Obamiacs, who don't, can't or won't figure out what IOKIYAO stands for, here you go.

Now, that said, why do I say, in the wake of George Zimmerman trial, that racial profiling is OK for Dear Leader, and therefore for his devotees?

Because, as Conor Friedersdorf reminds us, in touting Ray Kelly as his possible (likely?) new Homeland Security secretary, Obama has given the Mafia love kiss to a known, and egregious, racial and ethnic profiler.
Under Ray Kelly, the NYPD infiltrated Muslim communities and spied on hundreds or perhaps thousands of totally innocent Americans at mosques, colleges, and elsewhere. Officers "put American citizens under surveillance and scrutinized where they ate, prayed and worked, not because of charges of wrongdoing but because of their ethnicity," AP reported, citing NYPD documents. Informants were paid to bait Muslims into making inflammatory statements. The NYPD even conducted surveillance on Muslim Americans outside its jurisdiction, drawing a rebuke from an FBI field office, where a top official charged that "the department's surveillance of Muslims in the state has hindered investigations and created 'additional risks' in counterterrorism."
There's no other way to put it. Our constitutional law scholar president has officially embraced an anti-constitutional abomination.

Ta-Nehesi Coates raises the same concerns. And, in his opening two grafs, calls Dear Leader a hypocrite, in not so many words:
In 2003, State Senator Barack Obama spearheaded a bill through the Illinois legislature that sought to put the clamps on racial profiling. Obama called racial profiling “morally objectionable,” “bad police practice” and a method that mainly served to “humiliate individuals and foster contempt in communities of color.” 

Obama was not simply speaking abstractly. In his 2006 book “The Audacity of Hope,” the future president wrote that he could “recite the usual litany of petty slights” directed at him because of his skin color, including being profiled by the police. “I know what it’s like to have people tell me I can’t do something because of my color,” he wrote. “And I know the bitter swill of swallowed-back anger.” That same bitterness probably compelled Obama, as president, to speak out after Prof. Henry Louis Gates of Harvard was arrested, and to famously note last year, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” 
That's about it.

Well, Dear Leader, your would-be Homeland Security chief would do a stop and frisk on the streets of NYC of your would-be son. (That's if one if his officers didn't start by asking, "Trayvon? Is that  Muslim name?)

That's why, 3 years ago already, I called him Just.Another.Politician.™. He is, after all. Even as, due to the soft bigotry of low expectations, the minions stay enraptured by his mellifluous voice.

But yet, many another elected Democrat who has condemned the results of the George Zimmerman trial and even railed against Zimmerman as a racial profiler (despite the evidence there being ambiguous, and Zimmerman being more multifaceted than that, as I note in my trial wrap) will likely follow Chuck Schumer's lead and give Kelly wet kisses. If someone like Pat Leahy jumps on board, you'll know the game is up.

And, on the other side of the aisle, let's see how the "libertarian" Rand Paul reacts, should Dear Leader move ahead with his bromance for Ray-Ray.

And, beyond that, let's see how allegedly humanistic Gnu Atheists react. I have no doubt that the most anti-Mooslim, like Sam Harris, are already applauding the idea of Ray Kelly allegedly keeping you and I safe.

July 17, 2013

Baseball at midseason, 2013 version

Other than inexplicably touting Buster Posey over Yadier Molina for National League MVP, Jonah Keri's midseason awards are generally on the money, though I'd give more props to the Tribe as AL surprise, Angels as AL laff, and reject the idea of a Dodgers second-half surge.

More thoughts, from an email message to a friend of mine:


Wrong on Posey. (And I say that not just as a Cardinals homer, though that's in part it!) I don't overstress the "V" but there is some weight to it. The Gints aren't going anywhere, so that knocks him down a bit. Cards have best record, Molina's having a career year, and for the most part, is doing a great job with the young pitchers.

Agreed that we need to see more Yasiel Puig, even if Shelby Miller weren't otherwise No. 1 in the Rookie of the Year hunt.

Matt Harvey could ultimately win out over Waino, though it will be an uphill challenge, on the NL Cy Young.

I might bump Dodgers ahead of Nats as most disappointing, tho that's tough. And, Zona could go ahead of Pirates, perhaps, as surprise team.

And, I'd put Nats ahead of the Blue as most likely to surge in second half.



Maybe Scherzer on Cy, yes, ahead of King Felix.

Given injuries (plus Bobby V effect) with Boston last year, I'd take the Tribe as most surprising. Might even rank A's ahead.

Would peg Angels as most disappointing, ahead of Jays.

Agreed that Yankees are most likely to slip back.

Here's his NL and his AL awards.

He doesn't mention managers of the year.

Right now, I'll put Clint Hurdle first in NL, then Kirk Gibson, then Mike Matheny. (And, why Baseball-Reference sent me straight to Hurdle's manager's page first, rather than player page, as with the other two, I don't know. And why it won't post blog links to managers' pages, either, is also a mystery.)

AL? Terry Francona first, then John Farrell.


As for how the second half plays out?

I take the Cards to win the Central. The Pirates will fade enough for the Reds to take the first WC, but Pittsburgh will hold on enough to keep the second.  The Braves will win the East, with the Nats just out of the running. The D-Backs will win the West, and the Dodgers won't have much of a late surge. The Cards are the favorite to go to the World Series.

In the AL? The Tigers win the Central. Boston and Tampa finish as they are now, for a tight 1-2 in the East, and two playoff spots. The Rangers overtake the A's in the West, and both qualify. Cleveland stays above .500, even if missing the playoffs. The Yankees can't even do that. And, the Tigers are the favorite to go to the World Series, giving us an 81- and a 35-year "anniversary" match, if it goes down that way.

July 16, 2013

#Adobe, cloudy reasoning, your local paper and #effyou

If you've heard the recent news about how Adobe is going to move all future releases of its Creative Suite software program bundle to the cloud, and you're also a newspaper fan, especially of smaller community newspapers, you should be concerned.

This will be an additional price burden for said community newspapers, and it's not yet clear how much.

Meanwhile, Adobe's InDesign desktop publishing program took off as quickly as it did, even though its predecessor, Pagemaker, was A: Pretty crappy; B: Designed to work best on PCs, not Macs, because the competition, Quark XPress, rightfully got a bad reputation, mainly in the customer service field. It didn't respond well, or quickly, to queries or complaints, first. Second, its updates didn't generally offer all new services customers wanted, even after InDesign started gaining ground. And today, Quark appears content to rest on its legacy background along with "trapped overhead costs" of many newspapers, hoping they don't want to spend the money to switch, if they haven't.

First, if you're a smaller newspaper, and you haven't switched, you shouldn't.

Second, if you're still running pre-Intel Macs, and you're realizing you're eventually going to have to face the upgrade wall, you have options.

That includes buying Windows 7 PCs while they're still around, but dirt-cheap. Quark 7 or 8 on Windoze works well. Depending on the size of your paper, you may be able to buy a couple of copies of older versions of Photoshop as a stand-alone and work with them.

Or, look at Photoshop Elements. Or a non-Adobe photo-editing program. Anything up to the size of a 7-day daily of less than 25K circ doesn't have to go hog-wild on the latest and greatest version of Photoshop. (Or the same for either Quark or InDesign.)

The latest edition of Publishers' Auxiliary, the monthly newspaper for the community newspaper industry from the National Newspaper Association, goes into this issue with a lot of detail. Here's their lede piece.

Anyway, if you have a small newspaper or small mag, explore your options.

And, this could lead more to consider other options.

Like finally making the transition to digital only. Of course, that will be digital in an HTML sense. Not an e-edition, as without either InDesign or Quark, you're not creating PDFs, unless you want to try to creatively downgrade to Microsoft Publisher. .

Seriously, this is another option for newspapers and magazines. Depending on what version of Creative Suite you have, how likely it is to get continued Abode debug support and for how long, and how long it's going to be able to handle files (like until Abode gets dickish and creates extensions like "tifx" or "inddx" to force your hand) you have a few years to plan details of a move to digital only.

And, if you have to have creative tools, there's alternatives. If not Photoshop Elements, there's GIMP,  the German photo editing program Photoscape and more. Anything halfway like Photoshop that has good work with layers and a decent filter set is an option. Illustrator? Corel Draw's the easy alternative. And, on InDesign? You can go back to Quark, or suck it up enough to figure out a way to do something with Publisher if you have to.

And, then, at some point, go web-only.

Plus, there's Abode's lie, I believe, of saying they're doing this for a more steady revenue stream. No, it's an anti-piracy measure, which will probably just up the piracy wars. Given what we already know about cloud-computing and security issues, I don't see why this would be much harder of a hack than before.

Meanwhile, if it's smart, Corel bundles PaintShop, Draw, and Word Perfect, and looks at creating its own desktop publishing program to bundle with that. It could aim at the lower end of the market, say something about as bells-and-whistles as Quark version 3. A lot of non-daily papers would find that whole suite fine if they've not upgraded to Office 2007 or later on the Windoze side. Add in that Corel has basic-level video editing software and more, per its Wiki page and its home page,  and there's potential indeed. Or it could buy Quark; after all, Corel itself is a "built-up" company; all of its main products were acquired by acquiring companies.

In short, Corel could become a new "player" in multiple software games, and also give a lot of people a new way to say "Eff you" to Adobe (and a bit of sideswipe "eff you" to Microsoft in the process, and to Apple in a way, as well).

Update, July 16: I now have found further reason to very dislike Adobe. The advertising salesperson's newspaper at our office has an older version of InDesign than I do. I was going to "downsave" a page of spec ad templates for him to open on his computer.

No soap. Adobe apparently doesn't allow downsaves to older versions. Quark does. Even Microslob does. This increases the possibility that, at least in proprietary Adobe formats, it may increase this with the equivalent of a "docx" setup at some future date.

You can do a quasi-template downsave, but even that only works with going down one edition. I don't think this is a "limitation" problem, since Quark allows more flexibility and Word (though a lesser program, modern XML Word is more than fried Spam) offers much more. Rather, I think this is an Adobe snootiness issue. Thank doorknob common photography formats are pre-Photoshop.

Jon Chait, filibuster, #Obamiacs and the reality-based community?

Remember when Democrats, riffing on Karl Rove and his minions, said they were the "reality-based community"?

Well, top Obamiac fellator Jon Chait once again proves that's not true.

His latest malfeasance? Crowing over the deal in the Senate where Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed that the Senate GOP would stop filibustering a pack of Obama nominees in exchange for the Senate not doing a "nuclear option" and entirely killing the filibuster.

Here's his first teh wrong:
Democrats had proposed to change the Senate’s rules to prevent filibusters on executive branch nominations (but not to ban filibusters of legislation or judicial nominees). They’ve won.
Nope. No win. Obama still has multiple DC Circuit Court nominees in limbo. And Reid couldn't even get an agreement to force an actual Wendy Davis-style filibuster.

Then there's this:
Republicans got one face-saving concession: Democrats have to pick new names for the NLRB. This became an issue because Obama tried to execute an end-run around Congress by appointing them to their positions when Congress was functionally, though not technically, in recess, and was struck down by the Republican-controlled D.C. circuit court. 
As at least one labor group makes clear, this isn't a "face-saving concession." Instead, the Turtle had ramped up the whole idea of the "not in recess" recess precisely for this reason. Instead, this is a clear cave for Dear Leader.

Of course, even that's not the stupidist Jon Chait-ism. This is:
The deal was brokered by John McCain, who undercut McConnell and is fully emerging, yet again, as his old centrist self.
Wow, McCain a "centrist." Only in Jon Chait's Obama Happy Meal world.

John McCain a fucking centrist. Now I've heard it all.

Once again, IOKIYAO to spout this bullshit.

It's this same Beltway-based (yes, he's in NYC, I know) mentality of politics as chess game, and Dear Leader allegedly being the master of 11-dimensional chess (NOT) that I loathe. It's the same thinking that led Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas to put personalities, followed by personal victories, over policy victories.

July 15, 2013

What's next for David Dewhurst?

Now that Greg Abbott has officially announced for governor (preceded, officially, by Tom Pauken, and hinted at by Dan Patrick) what's next for Texas' lieutenant governor?

Is he really in a place where, as I said a week ago, he's in danger of becoming the Thomas Dewey of the modern Texas GOP?

I say that answer is likely still a yes.

There's several reasons.

The most obvious one is Ted Cruz handing his hat to him a year ago. That's a tough loss to someone who was a relative unknown outside Tea Partiers 18 months ago, even among more active Texas Republicans.

That's followed by how he handled Wendy Davis in the first special session. I actually don't think he totally blew it. However, the Tea Party types might look at his bluster and think he's all talk and no show. It will hurt him more in a GOP primary, most likely, than Davis filibuster will help her in a general election.

That said, what primary will Dudley Dewless be in next year (if any)?

Back for another round of lieutenant governor?

There's a couple of problems there.

First, Rick Perry partially negated the "Texas has a weak governor" claim. Based on what I know about state-level politics, at least from big states, I think Texas' governor's powers would rank below Florida, at least under current officeholder Rick Scott, but might rank about equal with California, at least under current officeholder Jerry Brown.

And, you can rest assured that a Gov. Greg Abbott, the man who's been the legal whip for most of Tricky Ricky Perry's anti-Obama stances, isn't going to let the governor's mansion get any weaker.

So why, after 12 years of seeing power slip out of his grasp as Lite Guv, would Dewhurst stay in that position?

And, related to that, this is kind of like Ike asked about Nixon in 1960: Even by GOP definitions, it would probably take a week for anybody inside the party to talk about anything significant that Dewhurst has done.

Yeah, I know, he's officially announced for re-election. But why?

Maybe he doesn't have further political ambition. But, if Abbott wins, even more than now, he's stuck in a dead-end office. And, that's assuming he can win out over both Todd Staples, Dan Patrick and Jerry Patterson, which I don't think he can. On name recognition, he'll probably finish first in the first round, but I don't see him winning the runoff against either Staples or Patterson. (What Patrick's doing in there, I don't know; the initial understanding I had that he was running for Guv actually makes more sense, relatively speaking.)

Beyond that, Patrick has some 'splaining to do to pro-lifers, as he until recently owned stock in a company that makes the Plan B "morning after pill." (His explanation of this is usual political boilerplate, and will only lead the far right to further scrutinize other investments of his.)

And, as of the end of July, Dewhurst's re-election piggy bank is light, as he badly trails Staples in fundraising and is only even with Patterson.

So, if he Dewless does have further political ambition, there's only two options.

One is challenge Abbott, in a race that will likely result in at least as crushing of a loss as he had to Cruz.

The other is to challenge John Cornyn for his Senate seat. Cornyn's already trying to shore up Tea Party support by hiring Brendan Steinhauser, who has connections to Cruz in particular and the organized Tea Party movement in general, as his campaign manager. It would be tough gear-shifting, but doable, and probably with better odds than an Abbott challenge.

Or, befitting himself, he could find a "safe" Republican-leaning Houston area House seat, with the redistricting, and run for it.

Or he could shock the hell out of us and become Texas' Charlie Crist.

Meanwhile, a lying sack of shit is lying about sacks of shit allegedly brought into the Capitol during the second special session by pro-choice protestors.

Look, Dudley, even DPS chief Steve McCraw left semi-sized loopholes for himself. That includes the word "suspected," no discussion of IF the jars were inspected, let alone troopers sniffing away, and more.

And Charles Kuffner rounds up the talk about the idea of Wendy Davis running for Lite Guv on the D side, which makes a lot of sense.

#Biogenesis bye-byes for A-Fraud and the Hebrew Hammer?

ESPN has a new piece up saying that Alex Rodriguez, aka A-Roid and worse, per the header, and Lyin Braun, also known as Ryan Braun and Juices Maccabee, are both going to be facing suspensions sometime after the All-Star Break over the Biogenesis issue.

No wonder A-Rod is so eager to get back to the big club. He probably thinks it helps his legal and other standing. And that is a point to note as this unfolds.

Both he and Braun are on the injured list right now. Well, correct that; Braun came back today.

As for big impacts? Bartolo Colon and Nelson Cruz would be the two heaviest fallouts, especially assuming Colon gets a 100-game vacation as a repeat offender. The whole AL West race would get a new look. And, one has to assume the Angels would become buyers not sellers at the trade deadline.

And, speaking of, I'm sure that a lot of people in management would like for suspensions to be done before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.

This will all play out further.

Personally, I hope the Hammer gets a 100-game hammer. And, given that he got off on a technicality last time, I'm not sure the players' union will totally rush to support him. They'll draw the legal lines as needed, but not extend them a lot further.

Meanwhile, in addition to the two top-tier named names, who else is on the list of "oops"?

And, what, Manny Ramirez, will get a rushed call-up from AA to replace Cruz? Wouldn't that be the irony of ironies? A previously suspended user, believed to have a laundry-list length PED rap sheet, getting called up.

But, we may be getting ahead of the gun. If Fox's Ken Rosenthal is right, by the time the appeals process is done, at least for some players, we may be into 2014.

The players' union is confirming that.

Teams with potentially affected players have to love this, especially Rangers, A's and Tigers.

But, at the same time, the union has indicated that any fight over individual suspensions will not be a death match. In fact, union chief Michael Weiner says players should start making deals with MLB.