SocraticGadfly: 2/2/14 - 2/9/14

February 08, 2014

Border BS — #GregAbbott wants to waste more money without accounting for it

The loverly attorney general here in the Pointy Abandoned Object State has doubled down on us reading his lips, should he be elected governor.

He's apparently going to pull money out of his ass to pay for his $300 million border security plan, or else he's going to further gut roads or schools, because he says this
Abbott would not specify any existing sources of funding to pay for the new programs. He said only that it would come from existing general revenue dollars.

“These are going to be budgetary priorities that must be paid first,” Abbott told reporters after his speech. He said seized dollars and asset forfeiture programs eventually would help pay for the border security portion, which exceeds $292 million over two years, but he wouldn't say how to pay for it before that money kicked in.
Well, anybody with a brain knows that not only in Texas, but in state governments in general, transportation and the state's share of education are two of the biggest expenses on the budget. So, if you're cutting from other budget programs, well there you go.

And, here's the double-down on the revenue side. He's telling us to read his lips, a la Poppy Bush:
Abbott said he would not rely on “any new form of revenue,” including taxes or fees, to pay for the proposals.

“To be perfectly clear right now and forever: absolutely no tax increases whatsoever for any of my programs,” he said. “The Abbott administration will not have any tax increases.”
And, if he does break this promise? We won't be able to read his hips because, of course, that would be making a joke at his handicapped expense and we know he's gone all PC about that.

But, wait, that's not all.

Abbott's already given us a glimpse of what might be a pass-the-buck style of governorship, should he be elected:
Asked if there were any programs that would have to be cut to pay for the dramatic spending increase, Abbott said, “I couldn’t identify them.”

“It would be whatever legislators may come up with they want to have funded. That is left to the ideas that will be articulated by the 150 state reps and 31 senators,” he said.
So, you've heard it, legislators. Next time the state gets sued, again, on school financing? It's all your fault. Don't blame Gov. Abbott.

Too bad Wendy Davis is out chasing gun nuts and prolifers, rather than worrying about things like this, parts of what could be an actual multi-issue campaign without pandering to people not too likely to vote for you anyway. Saying Abbott has a "nasty record" may be true as far as it goes about actual immigration policy, but that's not a lot. (And, that's not allowing for a future potential Davis flip-flop.)

Abbott's continued barratry lawsuits against the Obama Administration show what a money-waster he is, especially since he often loses these battles, and  now he's doubling down on that.

And, of course, in the article at hand, he's doubling down on hypocrisy by refusing to want to apply E-Verify to the private sector. (Maybe he has some illegal mowing his lawn?)

#BillNye vs #KenHam — who won? (updated)

Yes, it's a rhetorical question, but probably not in the way many are thinking.

The rhetoric involves defining what winning means, who the judges are (since this is like figure skating, not football) who decide who won, within that context, and more.

By that, on at least some counts, Ham won.

No, I won't go quiet as snarky as this Daily Beast story, that claims Ham won the moment Nye agreed to debate, or "debate," because I think Nye was more sincere than this piece claims. (More on those scare quotes in a minute.)

I will say that Nye increased his chances of losing by the way he approached this, as shown on his website. where, in the intro Javascript float for the debate, Nye talks about waiting to "discuss" the issues.

Ars Technica, with a much, much better article than the Daily Beast, gets at the basic point, though: Nye was dumb to do this.

Bill, if you really thought this was going to be a cozy tea-time "discussion," er .... wrong!

If you thought this was going to be a college academic debate, three-quarters wrong.

If you thought this was going to be like high school juniors in their first year of debate class, you're getting warmer, but somehow, I don't think that's the way you approached.

This is why Philip Johnson of the Discovery Institute is so "good" (in print, at least) for creationists. He's a lawyer, and he understands that all such "debates" like this are about out-lawyering the other side, not out-sciencing them.

You don't appeal to reason.

You prosecute him, find contradictions in statements of his, then start nailing his skin to the wall. That's especially true since you agreed to "debate" on his home turf.

With a young-earth creationist literalist, you have to go in there prepared to bring out the ridicule in a can of whoop-ass. On things like the four corners of the Earth, the foundations of the Earth, earth not moving (all in the Bible) Ham's only possible response would be, "but that's poetic language," and there's the "wedge," Discovery Institute petards be hoisted. If he tried to distinguish between "naturally true" and "literally true," same thing.

As for people who think I'm perpetuating a stereotype or something? Not at all.

The word "lawyering" is shorthand for a trial-type presentation. Which is NOT a debate. Which is why I put "debate" in scare quotes. Let me give you a very pertinent example, per a Facebook thread about this blog post.
Lawyering is a persuasive technique! You're trying to persuade 12 people to think and vote your way. I'm using "lawyering" as a shorthand to refer to trial argumentation. Yes, you have to have a certain amount of evidence, but a good lawyer is one who can make weak evidence look strong. Or even more.

Witness the anecdote about a killing in moonlight, and whether it was in a full moon or not. One A. Lincoln handed the prosecution witness an almanac, while keeping his thumb on the top edge of the book. Asked said witness what phase the moon was in the night in question. He said it was nowhere near full. Lincoln then told him and the jury, "Well, you couldn't have seen the alleged crime that well then, could you?"

The almanac was from the year before the killing. Lincoln's thumb kept that hidden. Whether the anecdote is true or not is less important than what it illustrates.
And, that's why Bill Nye approached this incorrectly. Ken Ham's sidestepping showed that, contra Isaiah's "Come, let us reason together," he was prepared to do no such thing. Nor are most creationists, even ones in better command of their rhetoric than Ham. 

Anyway, this ain't new. Some 75 years or so ago, astronomers debated whether or not to get on the same stage as Immanuel Velikovsky. Most said no, but a few, like Harlow Shapley, did, and in the uncritical public's eye, they generally "lost."

I respect the opinion of some humanists, whether secular or not, and certainly of atheists, to go ahead and participate in such social exercises, since I'm still only calling them "debates" in scare quotes. Not for me. Per the Facebook thread, I would suggest that many young guns from today's atheist world read up more on the Velikovsky issue first. They'll realize that those who did debate him gained nothing then. 

Another big issue for being wary about entering to such "debates" in general is financial. Besides Nye raising Ham's visibility, this makes an easy fundraising pitch. "I'm under attack by godless scientists and I need your support" before the debate, followed by "I won, help me spread the message" afterward.

As for the claims that "even Pat Robertson" is attacking Ham now? Well, different fundamentalist and conservative evangelical ministers have gone hammer and tongs for years. It's no proof that Ham lost, or "lost," among his own crowd.

As for a poll on Christianity Today that said 92 percent felt he did lose? It's an Internet poll that got stuffed. Liberal Xns, let alone atheists, who think that poll reflects actual preferences are part of the problem, not part of the solution. 

As for a BuzzFeed post making the rounds with questions from creationists, at the Ham museum, writing questions on pads for Nye? At least some of them could be atheists running a Poe for all you and I know. 

If they really are creationists, a few are flat-out stupid, like the "sunset" one at No. 5. Others, like the "second law of thermodynamics," have been asked and answered for what, a century now, on closed vs open systems. Only a couple are new, and also intelligent, like No. 3 on using logic on the Omphalos theory. (It's logically valid, if properly written as an argument, which shows the difference between logical reasoning and empirical fact-finding.) 

#Ethics thoughts on #utilitarianism, #contractualism, #deontology, #Kant and #Rawls

This overview of theories of ethics by Massimo Pigliucci, followed by this particular one on contractarian versions of ethics, and this specific one on John Rawls' veil of ignorance, reminded me of a few things, some of which I've specifically articulated either here or on Massimo's blog, but others that have ben just wandering in my head.

They are, in no particular order after No. 1 —

1. John Rawls is overrated;
2. Rawls is, if not a classical utilitarian, some sort of consequentialist;
3. The veil of ignorance is really just a specialized view of the utilitarian "view from nowhere";
4. Though I'm not a system builder, ethics in my philosophical mindset depends much more on a correspondence theory of truth, contra Massimo, who allows more room for the coherence theory of truth to guide ethics. (As I posted on his blog recently, that may be part of what explains his love for virtue ethics.)

I'm going to unpack 1-3 more, with the unpacking of 2 and 3 explicating No. 1, which means I'll unpack them first.

No. 2 comes from Rawls' own famous "justice = fairness" phrase. What is that if not some sort of consequentialist? Now, he may put that in a contractarian background, but I believe that if push had ever come to shove (assuming Rawls accepted either one of the labels as applying to himself) he would have called himself a consequentialist first.

Now, some people will criticize me for this, the same who criticize the a few of my book reviews, but I came to hold that Rawls was overrated by reading about him more and before actually reading him.

The linchpin? Walter Kaufmann's "Without Guilt and Justice," which simply blows Rawls' "justice = fairness" ideas out of the water. 

Kaufmann starts with the obvious, which I will slightly rephrase to fit into terms of the current discussion.

That is that the "veil of ignorance," or the more general "view from nowhere," is an idealized abstraction which isn't even close to achievable in reality.

Oh, sure, we strive for it, and sometimes obtain it in some special issues that have at least a degree of ethical freight. An obvious example is the practice of major symphony orchestras to give tryouts to new players by having them play from behind a screen. This is designed to screen out, pun intended in some way, any female bias from the conductor, the principal chair in the section with the opening, and others involved. (And, yes, such bias was real, and huge, before the screens were raised.)

But, that's not what the likes of Rawls are getting at. He, and followers, act under the idea that we can take this veiled view out into situations outside the original setting, including settings where, Kaufmann charges, it's not only impossible to remain veiled, but where some people will demand we become unveiled.

Ergo, it's a thought experiment with little relation to reality. (Short of some Brave New World future which would entail some overseers controlling the veils.)

Or, to put it more pithily, there are always oxen being gored — and sometimes, their owners' complaints are rightfully made.

Or, even more to Kaufmann's point, there are always oxen being gored — and sometimes, some people think with good reason their owners' complaints are rightfully made, and other people think with good reason these complaints are out of bounds.

So, contra Pigliucci, no, Rawls' idea doesn't grow on me. The Platonic cave and the Theory of Ideas once did grow on me, but I was less than half the age then that I am now, and still a conservative evangelical Christian.

To me, Rawls' thought experiment only grows on people who, in terms of political philosophy, do not  put "skeptical" in front of "liberal" or "left-liberal." (Unlike yours truly.)

Now, to the degree a view from nowhere might seem to be an unveiled, but theoretically detached, utilitarianism. However, this is where consequentialism in general fails.

Human life, like space-time, has four dimensions. Humans are, of course, not temporally omniscient. Therefore, we can never say that our utilitarian judgments are correct. For all we know, maybe we should have let Hitler kill more people, if one wants to stake out a deliberately Godwin-like position.

Beyond that, utilitarianism fails in other ways. The hedonic calculus does so even without the view from nowhere falling short. On matters of taste, and hedonic benefit, it runs smack into the old Latin maxim: "De gustibus non disputandum." On this account, shouldn't the National Endowment for the Arts give more money to punk rock bands and less to symphony orchestras?

And, no, the arts aren't the same as ethics. The above question is in part rhetorical, but not entirely so.

On ethical issues, we have a certain natural compass from biology. The arts? Not so much. Let's stay within fine arts. A lot of people don't call what Picasso does "art," or what Schoenberg does "music." So, somebody else might say, no, we shouldn't give NEA money to punk rock, but, we shouldn't give it to a symphony orchestra, either, unless it pledges itself to not play any post-1900 music. 

And, not in terms of NEA money, but in terms of ticket sales, exactly that happens. Blue-haired ladies around the country refuse to plunk down money for classical concerts that have serial music on the program. A few of the largest cities in our country have orchestras that specialize in modern music, but they struggle.


As a sidebar note, this is a good example of why I identify myself as a skeptical left-liberal on this blog, and elsewhere. I'd love it if Rawls were right, but I just don't see that.

February 07, 2014

Rand Paul thinks putting a squirrel on your head makes you presidential

Rand Paul and his pet hairpiece, Squirrel!
Apologies to Cal Worthington and his pet Spot.
Kentucky's very junior US Senator also thinks if the Republican Party would just embrace libertarianism, it might help the party, and help him get elected president.

They're about equally credible, right? So, the Snooze just got the wrong headline, and I'm helping out.

Of course, Paul's "libertarianism" doesn't extend to reproductive choice. It doesn't extend to religious freedom, including freedom from religion for we secularists, given that he's accused President Obama of a "war on  Christianity." (In reality, since Obama has actually expanded Shrub's office of faith-based initiatives, if it's a war, he's already surrendered.) Nor does it extend to people of color, of course, since those nasty civil rights bills conflict with Paul's ideas of pure, Randian libertarianism.

Try getting a better squirrel, Rand. Maybe that will work. Just don't go to New Hampshire during squirrel-hunting season.

I've said it before and I'll say it again — there's only been one true libertarian elected from the GOP in the last 20 years. It's not Rand Paul. It's not Ron Paul. It's former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, who neither wears a squirrel on his head nor publishes racialist newsletters.

Seriously, dude. Doesn't your $174K per year, plus any self-licensing optometry work you still do, buy a better squirrel? Maybe not. Look at Donald Trump.

"Alex, I'll take 'Republican presidential candidates with bad hair' for $1,000, please!"

No, Russell Brand, draconian drug laws didn't kill Philip Seymour Hoffman

I applaud the British Atheist Jesus, Russell Brand, talking about his own addiction, in this piece.

However, while he's personable there, and thoughtful in other things, or thought-provoking in his piece about not voting, and certainly intelligent, sometimes ...

Brand is just wrong.

And he is here, in claiming that America's draconian drug laws killed PSH. 

Before we start, a stipulation that I support decriminalization of marijuana, and am even OK with full legalization. I absolutely agree on "leveling" current sentencing on crack and powder cocaine. Beyond that? Most experiments with legalizing, or even decriminalizing, "hard" drugs have been done in countries with a lot smaller population, and with less racial and ethnic diversity, than the US. Their results don't necessarily translate here. Nor do I believe the standard libertarian argument that all drug problems disappear with legalization.

Next, one thing specific to Brand's diatribe.

His claim that many countries have legalized heroin is true only in a narrow sense. They have, instead, legalized its officially prescribed use. In other words, countries like Switzerland treat heroin like methodone here. Or stricter. It's "legal," but I take Brand as meaning something more like "street legal." And, that's simply not true of about anywhere.

This is true,  yes:
If drugs are illegal people who use drugs are criminals. We have set our moral compass on this erroneous premise, and we have strayed so far off course that the landscape we now inhabit provides us with no solutions and greatly increases the problem.

That said, the solution is not to legalize, but to do more on the rehabilitative side, especially for users of smaller amounts, to lessen legal sanctions on users of smaller amounts, but without giving a free pass to coke or heroin.

Then there's this:
This is an important moment in history; we know that prohibition does not work.
True enough, but the false implicit conclusion that full legalization will magically make things better doesn't follow. Modus tollens.

That's even more true of this:
People are going to use drugs; no self-respecting drug addict is even remotely deterred by prohibition. What prohibition achieves is an unregulated, criminal-controlled, sprawling, global mob-economy, where drug users, their families and society at large are all exposed to the worst conceivable version of this regrettably unavoidable problem.
For the first decade or two, here in the US, we'd probably have massive turf wars between drug gangs, an increased global mob economy with tax evasion, bribery, and more.

Now, back to the details of Hoffman's death.

First, as noted above, very few countries in the world have legalized or even "just" decriminalized heroin.

Second, even if it were legal, that still wouldn't guarantee that PSH wouldn't have gotten some tainted supply, unless you had "inspected" heroin.

Third, per No. 2 and my above statement, Hoffman could have wound up buying tainted heroin even with a tax stamp on it or whatever. International cigarette smuggling is proof of this. (I'm not saying that smuggled cigs are "tainted," just that government tax stamps are often fraudulently duplicated.)

Fourth, it doesn't guarantee that somebody might have tried turning him on to mixing heroin and fentanyl, either. Given that Hoffman's relapse reportedly started with what he took as an "innocuous" drink of alcohol, but escalated, he may have been at the point where he wanted to push envelopes.

Fifth, even if I remove 2 and 4, it doesn't guarantee that he wouldn't have OD'd on plain old heroin, perfectly legal.

Sixth, back to prescribed heroin again. People here in the US steal, forge scrips and otherwise do all they can to get their hands on legal, but prescription restricted narcotics of all sorts of stripes. I'll bet the same is true in Britain. Maybe even in Switzerland or Portugal.

Again, I'm not against at least a somewhat more libertarian attitude on drugs in the US. But, let's not pretend that loosening, let alone legalizing, drugs is a panacea for addiction, including for what can be the final result of addiction. After all, alcoholic, sadly, still die all the time.

Hispanic alert for Battleground Texas

The Texas Trib gives further confirmation to what I've blogged about before, about Battleground Texas' demographic assumptions on how boosting Hispanic turnout will make turning Texas "blue" a piece of baklava.

The "heads up"? Per this Gallup Poll, Hispanics in Texas, while still Democratic leaning, are less Democratic leaning here in the Pointy Abandoned Object State than elsewhere. Five percent more GOP, six percent less Democratic, is more than an eyeblink of difference.

And, right now, that difference between Texas and national Hispanic numbers is getting WORSE, not better:
Relative to 2008 -- the year of President Barack Obama's landslide presidential victory -- Texan Hispanics have gradually become more Republican, even as the percentage of Hispanics identifying with or leaning toward the Republican Party has remained relatively stable nationwide. The six-percentage-point gap between the percentage of Texan Hispanics and Hispanics living in all other states who identify or lean GOP is the highest it has been in over six years.

Gallup goes on to "helpfully" point out that national vs. state Hispanic voter registration rates show a 7-point gap, too. (Of course, all demographic classes in Texas lag national numbers here.)

Why? At my long original blog post, I noted that, at least for Shrub, Latino Protestants broke in his favor. And, in Texas, many Hispanics, even if their ancestors were from Mexican Catholic backgrounds, appear to be doing the religion shift.

As far as issues? Both Catholic and Protestant Hispanics, if they're newer to Texas, may not care about abortion, but might care about broader birth control issues. They probably don't peg liberal on LGBT issues, true, but they sure as hell don't cotton to open carry gun laws. Just a word to the wise.

At the same time, if top Republican candidates continue to be batshit crazy on "the border" and immigration, Hispanic Republicans, including leaders, may strike their tents. One is already threatening that.

#WendyDavis, gun nut

Per this picture from Neil Aquino and other
Texas blogs, from a Colorado C-store, this
is what Wendy Davis wants in Texas.
She had already lost me before this, but I think Perry is right.

Her embrace of gun open-carry laws is going to cost her a lot of Democratic support while gaining little in the way of "independents."  We're already seeing this, per Politico.

A bit contra Perry, I don't think out-of-state campaign check writers knew she was this non-liberal until recently. They do now, though. Jim Moore, though an in-stater, is plugged into these donor types and so, if Davis has lost him, she's lost them.
She's lost my vote with this Open Carry crap. I believe in the Second Amendment and have never felt the conceal carry legislation was as dangerous as portrayed. People have a right to guns. People also have a right to not get shot by guns. We even have what seems a moral right to go into a public place and not have to wonder if the guy wearing the .45 in his holster and swilling beer is not going to get pissed about something inane and clear his leather and start firing. A person entering a room wearing a holstered gun in open view completely changes the entire dynamics of that room without any real purpose.
And, while some of this may be the national "handlers," a lot of this is ... Wendy Davis.  Trey wants to know who recommended this; I think, ultimately, it's Davis herself. An insular campaign unafraid to contradict her? Texans, meet the local version of Hillary 2008. As I noted earlier this week, there's a lot of control issues in this campaign, a lot of that stems directly from Davis, I think.

Given that Lite Guv candidate Leticia Van de Putte and Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa both disagree with Davis, that's another reason I assume this isn't from the "handlers" like Battleground Texas and Lone Star Project, either. This is all Wendy Davis.

Greg Abbott: My gun nuts are bigger than yours.
All this particular move does? All you're doing is letting Greg Abbott run further to the right. As the picture shows, you're no way in hell going to "out-gun" Abbott.

This follows on Wendy Davis, "prolife," and Wendy Davis, "not going there" on LGBT issues. As I said yesterday, in discussing how the drift right could hurt her fundraising, I expect Davis to next be "tough on the border, tough on immigration" in a few weeks.

Beyond this, as others have noted, you only "moderate" in the general election. Technically, Davis still has a primary opponent. Too bad it's nobody other than "perennial candidate" Ray Madrigal. But, Texas Dems who are pissed enough can send some sort of "message" with a protest vote for Madrigal.

Or for another candidate entirely.

Perry's right about one other thing, since Moore says he's sitting out. The Green Party and gubernatorial candidate Brandon Parmer have a Mack truck-sized opening here.

As the AP notes
Davis' position now aligns her with her Republican gubernatorial rival, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, marking her latest effort to eliminate it as a wedge issue in the campaign.
As I noted, since Van de Putte and Hinojosa both disagree with Davis, what this instead does is creates a wedge opening to Davis' left.

But, you have to do something! As Perry notes, there's no Facebook page for Parmer, no website. I have just emailed Texas Greens about this. Hell, GoDaddy is selling ".com" website registrations starting at $10.99 a month. Blogger and Wordpress blogging platforms, as well as Facebook pages, are free. Please, whether you see Parmer as only a protest-against-Davis option, or hope that he could be something more, please do the same. (And, I'll let you know of any response I get.)

Per Perry, yes, I'm harsh on Davis at times, and have been so. Now you know why, know why this latest move by her doesn't surprise me, and why I push for Greens in general and Parmer in particular to start boosting their visibility.

This is exactly a mirror of Obama in 2008 — well before Democratic primaries were done, I knew I wouldn't be voting for him and why. It's a mirror in another way. Obama made a big splash with his "no dumb wars" speech, then later, during his presidential campaign, started running away from a lot of issues.

And, if James Moore sits out this election rather than vote Green, or think about it, he shows that "not voting" can sometimes be a principled issue.

Meanwhile, on Feb. 10, Davis tried to weasel on her stance:
Last week she told the Associated Press that she backs open carry - which allows gun owners with concealed handgun licenses to wear their guns in full view in public. On Monday she said that it should be up to localities to determine whether to permit open carry within their jurisdictions.
Translated: I still favor open carry, as long as you don't ask me to actually cast a vote about it.

Don't pro-life voters laugh at pro-choice politicians who say "I'm personally pro-life, but ..."

It's exactly the same thing.

February 06, 2014

Today's #SamHouston needs namesake's backbone in Texas AG race

Via Off the Kuff, Democrat Sam Houston thinks that, if the Texas Lege is a bunch of idiots, even to the point of possible unconstitutionality, he should just lay there and take it and defend the state.
Houston, the one Democrat running to replace Greg Abbott as Texas attorney general, still has some learning to do.

First, with an au contraire, he could take a page from his would-be peer in the Old Dominion. Virginia's new AG, Mark Herring, not only opted to stop defending the state in its being sued over its law banning gay marriage, beyond that, he even officially committed the state to joining the plaintiffs. Sam Houston's still got some learning to do.

Second, the Lone Star Project has already suggested Abbott should stop defending the state of Texas on the renewal of the school finance lawsuit.

Third, Kuff previously said Houston will need to throw a few punches. Agreed.

The school finance lawsuit would be a perfect time to do so. Let's hope Houston acts soon, before the moment passes.

"Grow a pair, Sam!"

And, if Wendy Davis is calling out Abbott for defending this monstrosity, it's more obvious than ever that you need to grow a pair.

Besides that, you could be talking about the AG suing polluters, turning a tight legal eye to places like West Fertilizer and more.

Good-bye Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner. Photo via
Somebody will probably kick me for writing another speak ill of the dead post-mortem, but really, as I look at his career? Ralph Kiner may have been a nice guy up to the day of his death today, but he shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.

Home run titles is the only reason he's in now. He had no career-ending injuries (more on that in a moment), just a brief Roman Candle peak that flamed out. And, if we had today's vote standards, he'd been off the ballot after his first year, missing the 5 percent cutoff margin.

Statistically? He falls short on both counting and sabermetric stats, and seemingly shouldn't be in. Let's unpack the numbers a bit.

On OPS+, a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame, it seems, with his career 149 well above my minimum of 110 for most positions. But, this is why Baseball-Reference handicaps for runs from different positions. For his career, he ranks at -62.

Plus, he was a bad fielder. For his career, a -40 at fielding runs shows that OPS+ is just a starting point.

And, even more than WAR, his career WAA is telling. He finishes at just 25.8. For me, 30 is a minimum, and really, 35 is what you need to get into my discussion.

The statistics foursome at the bottom of the page gives him two thumbs up, one down, one borderline. And his JAWS is not good. Setting aside Pete Rose, Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez for their various baggage, and presuming Tim Raines gets in, that still leaves one non-HOFer and a couple of borderline HOFers above his 18th place.

But there's a flip side.

Like a Dizzy Dean or Sandy Koufax on the player side, or a Kirby Puckett among fielders, he gets an injury-related pass, at least of some sort. Maybe, with a chronic condition, painful but unlike Koufax, not as severe, Don Mattingly is somewhat of a comp. (That said, it's arguable that, even without his back problems, Donnie Baseball wouldn't be in the Hall.) Both had their careers shortened. How much, in Kiner's case, the injury affected his career before retirement, I don't know. Per what I said above, sciatica (Kiner) isn't in the same class at all, even if bad sciatica, as Koufax's arthritis.

There's a third side, though. Being a broadcaster, and in the New York market, may have given him a visibility bump.

I didn't have him on my original blog post of position players whom I'd vote back out of Cooperstown, but maybe I need to add him. He's borderline, to stretch it, and maybe "borderline of the borderline," to be honest.

Also, even B-R readers can succumb to fandom or whatever. He's not the 96th-best position player of all time, I don't think. (And Dale Murphy isn't No. 98, either.)

He's also the subject of a bit of trivia. A lot of people probably don't know where his birthplace of Santa Rita, N.M. is. (I do; I've been there more than once.) And, people who look at it on a map probably assume he's its most famous native. Well, especially if you don't bury your nose only in sports news, you'd be wrong, quite arguably.

Texas Lite Guv new financials still have Patterson playing catch-up

The GOP Lite Guv primary remains of definite interest for me. So, here's a dive into Jan. 1-23 filing reports for that race, above all.

Incumbent David Dewhurst reports, via his election comitttee, about $254K in swag. As for Dudley Dewless' challengers?

Dan Patrick hauled in $150K, while Todd Staples took in a touch more, with $159K. Meanwhile, Jerry Patterson had only $36K for the period.

On the payout side, the Dew spent $1.126 million, while Patrick shelled out $2.315 million, and Staples went even higher, with $2.691 million. Patterson only spent $150K.

Again, Patterson's more folksy angle and other things may help him make it to the presumed runoff for this position, but, as I've said before, money does seem important in this race, so, I'm betting more and more against him.

Assuming Dewless is one of the two in the runoff, I'm still leaning toward Staples as his opponent. That said, I'll give you a 10 percent chance he's not in.

Of course, Patterson could whip his hogleg out from his boot for a hold-up for more money.

February 05, 2014

So much for #WendyDavis outraising #GregAbbbott

Let's see how Burnt Orange Report, the Angle Bros. et al spin THIS, namely, how badly Greg Abbott kicked Wendy Davis' butt in January fundraising. Yes, it's not the bottom line numbers. But, with this info, unless Abbott is far outspinning the Davis spin of just a few short weeks ago, it doesn't at all look good, even if it's over a shorter reporting period.

Maybe national pro-choice groups are backing off on some donations, if Davis is "prolife." Or national LGBT groups are backing off because Davis allegedly doesn't have time for local and state ones' endorsement questionnaires (really, she's running away from that, too), but does have time for one from the Morning News, and surely other mainstream papers. 
This board has learned that the Davis for Governor campaign is deliberately boycotting any and all questionnaires or other media requests for the primary election. 
Not true. Now, that post is as of Jan. 26, so she may have done the Morning News' dog and pony later. But, she did do it, as shown here.

Update, Feb. 6: Per Wayne Slater of the Morning News, Davis may actually have good news, no spin needed, for the next reporting period. The Abbott campaign and wingnuts piling on Slater's piece about the "tightness" of her campaign bio may have given her a bounce financially.

Bounce aside, Davis' staff again appears discombobulated, especially discombobulated in the bumbling way they're pushing their candidate further and further rightward on social issues. Expect a kerfuffle on immigration sometime in the next month or two, at the rate this is going.  But, as with David Alameel trying to run from his pro-life past, this is the Internet era. Your record is out there.

And, maybe that's part of the reason for the fundraising drop, the whole apparent discombobulation, the possible bounce aside.

As for the candidate herself? If she didn't want to fully stand on the issue that brought her to national attention, then she shouldn't have run for governor in the first place.

But if she still did want to stand on her background, yet run for governor? She could have been firmly pro-choice, firmly used that word to describe herself, and yet run on a full-fledged multi-issue campaign.

It's actually too bad that Davis doesn't have a legitimate primary opponent, not just Ray Madrigal. An actual contested primary might be the one thing to knock her campaign into fighting form.

Compare that to Abbott, who between AG and state Supreme Court races has had four statewide races (albeit without opposition in any of his primaries).

Instead, we'll have Greg Abbott vs Wendy Davis, both running further to the right.

And, therefore, once again, the Abandoned Pointy Object State will have dreck for voter turnout.

Texas high school football is #socialistic

Now that I have just made tiny-penis syndrome suffers in the Pointy Abandoned Object State explode, let me unpack that header.

All-District football teams were just announced. And, the list of players is socialistic.

At first-team all-district running back, you should have two players, or maybe three, if you allow for wishbone offenses. Not five.

At first-team all-district quarterback, you should have one, not two.

Etc., etc.

I don't know if every district is like this one, but that's the way it is here.

And, that's not the only thing. Look at playoffs. When four teams can qualify from a six- or seven-team district, that's likely dipping well below .500. Socialism!

Now, the University Interscholastic League, and Texas high school football coaches, in a state where a football coach, or coach/AD, is the highest-paid staffer, below the superintendent, in about everywhere in the state, might say it's about capitalism.

But, just as Baylor actually lost money on going to the Fiesta Bowl, maybe at least a few high schools face similar.

And, if Comptroller Susan Combs really wants to promote government accountability and transparency, this would be a great new step. Make it a requirement for how much does each school district in the state spend on each of its athletic programs versus how much does it take in.

That said, I'll be honest and admit that for half a dozen different reasons I can think of off the top of my head, I never "got" high school in general.


Of course, this is nothing new. Western-state "rugged individualist" farmers and ranchers are among the biggest socialists in the United States.

February 04, 2014

Can we expect #GregAbbott to take a "stand" for anything?

Oh, that word. "Stand."

Greg Abbott wouldn't want the political correctness police to treat his candidacy with kid gloves related to his physical handicap limitations, now would he?

We know that a good conservative like Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott would never, ever succumb to political correctness, now, would he?

Of course not. A rugged individualist hombre who can shoot thousand upon thousands of clay pigeons with a powerful 12-gauge loaded with double-aught buckshot a light, likely multi-round chambered 20-gauge shotgun with barely-more-than-blanks skeet loads surely doesn't need the support of librul buzz words, coded phrases and mollycoddling language, does he?

Or does he?

Judging by his campaign's new bromance with Andrew Breitbart alum James O'Keefe, one would have to say, yes, just maybe this silver-haired, silver-tongued devil of a LAWYER might actually want to dip into the world of A Way With Words:

So, I guess we, or his backers, can't ask Abbott to:

1. Take a stand for some issue
2. Stand on principle (as if we could, anyway)
3. Have any ethical stand-ards
4. Stand on his own two feet rather than let surrogates continue to sling mud at Wendy Davis
5. Shake a leg
6. Get a leg up on someone or something
7. Rise to the occasion
8. Run for office
9. Stand your ground (what will you do with that gun if a guy in a hoodie approaches)
10. Or even, "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus."

Why don't we just ask our tort friendly (before he was against it) AG to sit down with leading media outlets in the state and make sure everybody knows what the correct language is? We certainly wouldn't want Abbott to feel he was getting any special help in trying to run away from special scrutiny, would he?

Oops, guess I can't say that phrase, either. See what happens, Mr. AG, when political correctness runs amok? Ohh, that word again. Stop saying those words!

And, since you won't call off the "Abortion Barbie" surrogates, then, "Wheelchair Ken" might be fit return. (Since Davis is now allegedly "pro-life," in a black-is-now-white world, maybe both of you should instead keep on firing, but that's a whole nother story.)

In that case, let's remember what Harry Truman said: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Oops, that word! I said it again.

We are no longer the bloggers who say "Stand!" Or "Run!"

Oh, trust me, folks, there will be more in days ahead. (I've already thought of one phrase to start Round 2.)

And, speaking of talking points 2 and 4, no we can't ask Abbott to do that.

And, given that O'Keefe did his usual selective editing and mixing, we can't expect that on No. 3, either.

Per the Trib's linking to the Statesman's piece) for some reason, its video is now down):
(T)he raw video indicates that the laughter was selectively edited into the clip. The Austin American-Statesman compared the raw and edited videos and found there were distortions.
"Rick, I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that there's selective editing going on here!"
And, so politics goes in the Abandoned Pointy Object State.

Did #WendyDavis actually outraise #GregAbbott? Not so fast, including you, BOR (updated)

(Update, Feb. 5: Let's see how Burnt Orange Report, the Angle Bros. et al spin THIS, namely, how badly Greg Abbott kicked Wendy Davis' butt in January fundraising. And now, back to your original blog post.)

It sounds like it, right? In the July-December 2013 period, Wendy Davis outraised Greg Abbott in fundraising for the Texas governor's race, by $12.2 million to $11.5 million.

Not so fast. Here's the fine print on that:
The senator's campaign finance totals include funds raised by the Texas Victory Committee, a joint effort that splits money between the Davis campaign and Battleground Texas, a group trying to turn Texas blue.
So, how much money did SHE raise? (As well as how much cash does she have on hand?)

Answer? Per the Snooze, some $3.5 million of the total is from the Texas Victory Committee. Split that in half between her and Battleground Texas, and her $12.2 million falls to $10.5 million. Still impressive, no doubt about it. But not Greg Abbott's $11.5 million.

Burnt Orange Report decides to join in the spinning:
To call the Texas Victory Committee a "split" between Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas suggests that she won't be the recipient of all of the money. That doesn't accurately convey how the money is to be used -- it will be used by Battleground to elect Wendy Davis. She will be on the receiving end of the electioneering paid for with that fund.  
Nice, but ... not true!

Let's say the Texas Republican Party created an alternative to Battleground Texas called, oh, Attack for Liberty. Attack for Liberty and Greg Abbott's campaign then formed Texas Liberty Committee.

And, Texas Liberty Committee raised $3.5M and claimed that as part of his $11.5M?

Don't tell me BOR wouldn't be on that like white on rice. Because, Abbott, Attack for Liberty and the Texas Liberty Committee would be using the exact same explainers it trots out.

That said, BOR does have a live blog of actual, Texas Ethics Commission-filed donations, for all major candidates, with figures also including cash on hand.

And, the January numbers are reflective. Maybe national pro-choice groups are backing off, if David is "prolife." Or national LGBT groups are backing off because Davis allegedly doesn't have time for their endorsement questionnaires (really, she's running away from that, too), but does have time for one from the Morning News, and surely other mainstream papers.

Meanwhile, nobody's claimed that Abbott's money was co-raised with a third party. Because, if it were, BOR would be critiquing Abbott just like I just critiqued Davis.

That includes you, Michael Li, from BOR's story:
Amused by the spin on Wendy Davis' fundraising numbers by GOP operatives who understand exactly what a joint fundraising committee is.
— Michael Li (@mcpli) January 1
Amused you think everybody critiquing this is a GOP operative. If you've got goods on Abbott money coming from a joint fundraising committee, feel free to mention it. 

Beyond that, I've had a bit of a shootout with at least one GOP consultant vs. other blogging on this site. Per my day job, I'm familiar with all of this. 

Beyond that, at times, per the title of this blog, I like being a deliberate contrarian. Or, in this case, a deliberate nit-picker, or whatever you want. So, keep spinning, and I'll keep blogging about it. 

Don't get me wrong. Li knows the legal issues around things such as the redistricting fight. But, he's still spinning on this. 

Now, I see Harold Cook joined the spinning, too. I get where Cook is coming from. However, I'll venture that if we went to every Abbott event, we might see plenty where the Texas GOP was listed as a separate recipient of funds, or whatever.

Finally, the Texas Ethics Commission has the official numbers. And the filing doesn't count the Texas Victory Committee as part of Davis' totals. It's $11.6M for Abbott and $8.7M for Davis.

Jonathan Tilove at the Statesman rounds up the reality on the spinning. And adds:
The most obvious manipulation in the Davis campaign's late release of its fundraising numbers was a spin of omission - its failure to report how much money it burned in the reporting period and how much money it has in the bank going into 2014. Abbott, whose campaign put out its numbers 20 minutes after the Davis campaign put out its numbers, reported that it has $27 million in cash on hand, which will probably prove to be three or four or more times as much as Davis will report today.
Bingo. And, the transparency of a lot of this spinning is laughable. So, too, is the faux indignation of a Michael Li. As for saying Romney and Obama did this, fine. If Abbott did, too, we'll find out in the official Texas Ethics Commission wash. One of the oldest reporting tricks in the book, Michael. Mark Twain would have a field day with modern finance numbers.

And, assuming Abbott does use third-party joint fundraising, you bet your ass he'll report combined numbers from here on out, anyway.

And, Cook, at least, concedes as much:
If Greg Abbott’s team doesn’t want Wendy Davis to claim as part of her fundraising totals that money which she is contributing to a coordinated effort, then Greg Abbott should subtract from his totals whatever amount he anticipates he will eventually contribute to the Republican coordinated effort. If, in the alternative, he is raising money directly into his coordinated effort, as Davis has done, he should have counted it as part of his total – assuming he hasn’t co-mingled that money with that of other Republican candidates who are also contributing to the Republican effort.
So, let's just wait until the next fundraising cycle, and compare apples and apples.

And, this is where my day job in the press biz kicked in long ago, and takes precedence here over progressive politics. If Abbott had done the same, I'd have kicked him even harder, since he's a conservative, and it's not his first statewide race.

But, comparing apples and apples? Abbott won. Period. End of story. Can we stop with other claims?

In short, a short-term spin could backfire down the road. Assuming it does, we'll see what Li, Cook, et al have to say.

I mean, I've blogged a lot of baseball stuff, for and against certain players' candidacies for the Hall of Fame. Trust me, I've seen numbers and statistics sliced more different ways than 99-cent bologna.

If I wanted to drill down enough, I could probably find that Abbott outraised Davis in some ZIP code in her state Senate district. Or that Davis outraised Abbott among left-handers who live within 300 yards of the Ben Franklin store in Duncanville where they idolize him to death.

So, if you want to be technical, because Abbott chose not to slice and dice his bologna some way, because he wasn't worried about Davis getting that close to him, she "won." Wave your hands in the air, Battleground Texas. If Abbott's really worried about this, he'll find a way to spin your numbers into the grave in the next reporting cycle or two. 

And, to be honest, I dig my heels back in on issues like this. Part of it may be "motivated reasoning" on my part, given that nobody likes to stake out a stance then be proven wrong. On the other hand, Cook opened the window himself, with his caveats, essentially admitting this was at least semi-spin, though he refuses to take the extra step of admission.

And, speaking of, I've exchanged enough tweets with Li on this. On my last one, I told him to talk to Tilove, or Jay Root at the Trib. None of us are "GOP operatives." You, Michael, on the other hand, ARE a Democratic operative, even if not officially affiliated with the Davis campaign. And, Cook, a political PR meister, has nothing about this on his blog, either.

Oh, and this also gets at one thing Perry talked about. Davis, like Dear Leader, wasn't supposed to be about politics as usual. But, between this and her David Alameel endorsement, she indeed appears to be Just.Another.Politician.™, and the Michael Lis of the world probably don't want to talk about that at all.

Besides, Bill White outraised Rick Perry at times four years ago. And, we all know how that turned out.

If the last few presidential campaigns have shown us anything, it's that fundraising itself, and how it's framed and phrased, has itself become political gamesmanship.

Get a TV and Internet 30-second, or 15-second, sound bite of one-upsmanship, then get everybody to move on before the details are announced.

Or, if you want an even blunter reminder of how fundraising prowess doesn't always translate into political success? Phil Gramm for president. Before him, John Connally for president. 

P. Diddie has more thoughts along this vein. And goes the next step down the road:
Wendy Davis is on pace to amass the fifty million dollars all the talking heads said she needed to raise in order to have a chance to beat "Wheelchair Ken".  In other words, if she loses then she won't be able to say she couldn't raise enough money as an excuse.

I have contributed to her campaign, and I sincerely hope she doesn't lose.  But I also don't see any deviation from a path we have trod for decades now, which shows not even the smallest sign of changing the kind of government we have.  The one that gets bought and paid for every two years.Wendy Davis is on pace to amass the fifty million dollars all the talking heads said she needed to raise in order to have a chance to beat "Wheelchair Ken".  In other words, if she loses then she won't be able to say she couldn't raise enough money as an excuse.

I have contributed to her campaign, and I sincerely hope she doesn't lose.  But I also don't see any deviation from a path we have trod for decades now, which shows not even the smallest sign of changing the kind of government we have.  The one that gets bought and paid for every two years.
Yep, and that's why he, and I, worry about ...

I agree with Perry on the money, but it's more than just that. Spinning like this is sophomoric. People who know a lot about politics see through it right away, and call you out on it. Then you have people like Michael Li and Harold Cook doubling down on spinning.

And so, instead of a new type of politics, we have the same old shit. And, I've had tussles with consultant types from the GOP side before, not liking it when I called them out. (Last time over there was for non-monetary reasons, but I still called GOP shit what it was. And gave the same answer as to Li, and now Cook: This is the media part of me operating.)

Beyond the political gamesmanship, this gets back to the question of her endorsement of Texas' latest Democratic Daddy Warbucks, David Alameel, in the Senate primary.

What's in it for her to endorse a candidate worth $50 million or more, but one who hasn't revealed his stances on a single major political issue? 

Oh, and I asked Li about this. While trying to spin every which way but loose the news about Davis' and Abbott's campaign contributions, I got bupkis in reply from him about her Alameel endorsement, when I tweeted suggesting he ask about that. 

Finally, given the fact that she sued the Startlegram and its corporate parents after losing her 2006 Fort Worth City Council race, I'm thinking more and more we're at the Politics of Usual. More reason than ever to vote Green in the general election if we've got Republicans and Democrats alike offering up a pair of overlawyering lawyers. 

Now, I don't buy into wingnuts taking her "mental health was affected" statement as part of filing as part of a claim she has actual mental health problems. That's not my angle.

No, I'm just, as I read more about the suit, raising my eyebrows higher and higher over what appears to be overlawyering mixed with cluelessness about the First Amendment, a thin skin, or something.

She sued over editorials, my friends, not news stories.

Now, I've primarily been at small-town newspapers, but much of my time has been near the Metroplex. And, at least immediately, I cannot recall any other candidate who has lost a race and then sued over opinion articles.

Good fucking doorknob. 

I am linking to National Review's story, knowing it's not trotting out the Eric Erickson angle but is seemingly giving a halfway fair overview. I'm trying teh Google to see if I can find a link to any StartleGram stories about the suit after its final disposition.

Yeah, wingnuts may be worried about the likelihood of her success. But, as some currently in the media, I'm pretty sure I don't want a Junior Barack Obama, in terms of attitude toward the First Amendment, running the state.

And, I've now found a copy of the actual editorial. I'll be doing a follow-up post, and the hell if I don't make any progressive writers' groups.

The reality of poverty in red states

The Dallas Morning News has a good piece here about poverty in the Metroplex and other major metropolitan areas in Texas.

It makes references to a claim, or claims, spouted by many conservatives, namely that because Texas' cost of living, or red states' cost of living, is lower than that of blue states, talking about high poverty rates is unfair.

Like this:
(T)here are (those) who argue that federal poverty statistics make things look worse in Dallas than they really are.

Labor economist Pia M. Orrenius, vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said even many cities with lower poverty rates than Dallas have much higher costs of living, making it harder in those places to make ends meet.
And this:
In 2012, about 1 in 4 Dallas city residents lived in poverty or about 260,000 people. For a family of four with two children, that meant earning less than about $24,000.

Life for them is in some ways easier than it would be in other large cities, where housing, groceries and other necessities can be much higher. Even the weather can be gentler in Dallas, and (Dallas Mayor Mike) Rawlings and others argue that Dallas’ private sector agencies working for the poor are “second to none.”
Tis true, indirectly, or it sounds like it. Texas is certainly no New York, California or Connecticut. It's not even an Illinois. That said, Texas' minimum wage is the same as the US minimum. Most blue states, or at least the big blue metropolises inside them, have local or state minimums at least $1 an hour above the national. (That doesn't excuse increasing income inequality in a New York City or San Francisco, though.)

And a state that takes this all into account:
A Texas family of four who is eligible for food stamps, now known as the SNAP program, can expect $261 a month in assistance. The same family in California, New York, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and Vermont can expect more than $600. And in Alaska, the benefit is more than $900.
So much for cheap food, eh?

As for housing costs? Tight land drives part of that in blue states.

So does people wanting to be their on their own, rather than having forced moves from their jobs. Add those two together, and that's part of why Austin costs are higher than DFW or Houston, here in Tejas.

More proof that it's something in the water here?
Compared with Dallas, other cities with a higher share of immigrants and higher unemployment report lower poverty rates. In Los Angeles, Hispanics account for 48 percent of the population, and almost 50 percent of residents there are immigrants. In Phoenix, 40 percent of residents are Hispanic and 1 in 5 is an immigrant.

Los Angeles and Phoenix — as well as Chicago and Charlotte — have lower poverty rates than in Dallas, even though Dallas has fewer of its residents out of work.
So, we can't have wingnuts blaming "lazy Mezcans" for this problem.

Renee Fleming crushes my #SuperBowl hopes

Even more than the showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, even more than the showdown between Peyton Manning and what a win would mean for his legacy, there was one other thing that piqued my attention (even if a late afternoon nap had me miss it and much of the first half).

That was glorious-voiced, and lovely looking, if I may, Renee Fleming, singing the National Anthem.

"Finally!" I thought. "We'll get it sung right at a major sporting event."

Er, not zackly.

Fleming didn't fully butcher "The Star Spangled Banner," unlike the typical big-time sports event singer, tis true, but she did about one-third maul it. I had hoped that she would just, you know, sing it like it's written.

If you can't clock it in under 2 minutes flat, on the time, you blew it. That's my baseline for doing it right, like a pitcher having a 110 ERA+ or a batter a 110 OPS+ to get real consideration for the Hall of Fame. If you can't sing it straight up (if you're sober, since it was originally a drinking song tune) without all sorts of hitches and adornments, you blew it.

Fleming didn't have as much of that as your typical rock, rap, rhythm and blues, country, pop, or imitation Slim Whitman star, but she had enough of that to have blown it.

When I heard the first syllables on YouTube, I knew my hopes had been sadly crushed. And, I didn't care for the "reverb" chorus behind her, either. That hurt the clock time a bit. She might have completed the 2-minute drill correctly as far as flat time, if not for that, but it would have had enough issues otherwise to be a one-fifth mauling. 

And, if the military chorus reverb was her idea, she gets a ding for that, too.

She chose the octave jump at the end. I assume she chose the "soulifying" in the opening phrase. Just like someone from the pop world, I'm sure she had at least some degree of control over presentation.

I do salute her for not lip-synching, even if it seems that the cold sapped her lungs, and tone, both a bit. And, I do salute the idea.

I don't salute ...

Well, I don't salute the "dumbing down," or equivalent thereof.

Sorry, Renee, but you blew it.

Dear librulz — it's #Coke — stop defending its #SuperBowl ad

So what if conservatives attack it for a multilingual version of "America the Beautiful"?

First, Coke is ripping itself off. Some versions of its long-ago ad for "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" had multilingual lines. This is nothing new. It's called "marketing." And, that's a heads-up to both librulz and wingnuts. Get a clue. (Especially wingnuts.)

Second, let's get real about Coca-Cola.

It might let Hispanics in the U.S. sing a line from "America the Beautiful" in Spanish. But, you can bet your life it wouldn't let them sing a line from "If I Had a Hammer" in Spanish in Columbia, given its reported connections to the murder of Columbian union organizers.

That's only part of a history of anti-labor thuggery in Latin America.

Which goes hand in hand with a past history of racial discrimination in its US plants.

Of course, a lot of librulz of PC-type struggles usually have a "neo-" in front and don't know unions exist.

Coke did reform some of its ethical problems in India, but, the dual standards part never should have happened in the first place.

Coke also has its fair share of environmental issues. Yes, it's stopped, or slowed, draining Indian aquifers. But, as the maker of Dasani bottled water, it still wastes petrochemicals via plastic bottles and via trucking bottled water all over the place. Yes, Coke has reduced the amount of plastic in bottles, but still.

Third, Coke, like General Mills over Cheerios a year or so ago, is a Fortune 500 company with a massive PR department. It doesn't need a few benighted but poorly informed librulz to help it out.

So, in short, Coke's playing you like a fool. I'm surprised that wingnuts haven't pointed out that Coke is an all-red can (aside from the white script) and that librulz should like Pepsi blue.

February 03, 2014

Talking about the legacy of Peyton Manning

Yeah, he got to his third Super Bowl, but that performance last night against Seattle didn't help Peyton Manning much in his G.O.A.T. rankings now, did it?

Yeah, he's ahead of Dan Marino, but arguably, Marino was even more of a one-man show on offense than Manning, many years, and often with less defensive support. Don't forget that long-time Colts head coach Tony Dungy was a defensive whiz.

Let's ook at Peyton's three appearances. He wins against Rex Grossman! Rex Freaking Grossman. Then gets outcoached on defense against the Saints, and even more so against Seattle. (Iinterestingly, Manning's QB rating was the lowest in a Super Bowl .... since Rex Freaking Grossman!)

Let's look at, and compare, say, Kurt Warner. Also 1-2 at the big dance, but competitive in all three games. Take out either James Harrison's interception return OR Ben Roethlisberger's fantastic pass to Santonio Holmes, and he's 2-1, and has an extra halo for the dog-and-pony show from Arizona winning a Super Bowl.

Sorry, folks, but Peyton's still not in the G.O.A.T. talks. By Super Bowl rings, it's Joe Montana, then Tom Brady. Troy Aikman kind of counts, but he was angry last night over Russell Wilson being called a "game manager" because he kind of was. (You're a nice guy, Troy; now, sit down and ask H-E-B about doing another "selfie" in a commercial. As for Wilson, he could win many more; if not, he'll have the same label, plus the "short quarterback" label, to fight through.)

Even though he never won, I'll put Jim Kelly in the same rank or better than Peyton.

Pre-Super Bowl era? Otto Graham won a lot, albeit in a smaller league. 

Otherwise, gimme Johnny U. Master of the comeback, multiple pre-Super Bowl wins, and in today's NFL, he'd still have his touchdown-a-game passing streak in a place where Drew Brees never broke it.

Bill Simmons last week said that Brady-vs-Manning had now entered Bill Russell-vs-Wilt Chamberlain territory. Well, Wilt just lost another. And, like the real Wilt, we can't blame this all on factors outside his control. Peyton turned in an indifferent performance at times, even though the Broncos defense wasn't a total sieve during the first half and, until the kickoff return to start the second half, Denver was theoretically still in the game.

Will Payton win another, assuming he comes back to the Broncos? I give him at best a 50-50 shot of getting to another, let alone winning another. That defense looked like a sieve, albeit that two of the Seattle TDs weren't its fault and it was on the field a lot. Knowshon Moreno may get whacked for cap reasons.

And, Philip Rivers might finally put a full year together. And, there's still a couple of years of Tom Brady left, too. And, that's just to get there against an NFC that arguably has more top-tier teams.

So, no, Peyton fans, and Omahans, you likely saw Peyton's last appearance at the big dance, and almost certainly his last real shot to win it.

Besides, maybe it's just as well Peyton didn't win. We'd then have to wonder if a 2-time Super Bowl winning QB had joined his little brother not only in that, but also in alleged fraud

Because, I'm sure Peyton would like to sell memorabilia from that second touchdown pass. Or the score that put the Broncos ahead.

So, #WendyDavis is #prolife?

Apparently so, or at least in one utterance down in the Valley.

I'm three months late to this one, but, boy, it explains a lot. And, because I think it does explain a lot, and that "lot" needs to be unpacked, I'm putting down some detailed thoughts.

It explains more of why Davis endorsed David Alameel (and Leticia Van der Putte's endorsement of him as well), and indirectly explains why someone on a Facebook page claims that complaints about this, and about Alameel in general, are anti-Catholic. The fact that the statement was made off the cuff, but at a presser, and then attempted to be retracted, explains the depth of disorganization of the Davis campaign.

And, that leads to what could be the subtitle of this piece:

Davis campaign, handlers, strategists suck

And, no, I don't think that's all due to Lone Star Project or Battleground Texas "handlers." I think it is just as much due to her old state senate campaign staff. Besides, the two are kind of incestuous. The Lone Star Project's Matt Angle is more of a Washingtonian, yes, but brother J.D. is and has been part of Davis' team since before her first state senate run, as this piece notes.

As far as where we're at? I'm not even sure "disorganized" is right. Nor is "on lockdown" right, if part of this is due to older hands who have worked with her before. "Deer in the headlights" might be more truthful in some ways. I think it was very truthful three months ago.

Three months ago? Yes, I missed her first great stumble and her second great pandering, not too long after her visit to Waxahachie.

The Observer introduced me to the story. (And hat tip to McBlogger's post for bringing this to light). Davis used the phrase "pro-life" about herself? Per a Facebooker who tried the same, this is nothing but Grade-A bullshit. "Pro-life" and "pro-choice" have publicly defined meanings.
When Davis did arrive, she met with reporters for 10 minutes. Sanchez asked the candidate about her statement, at an earlier event in the Valley, that Davis was “pro-life.” This was a predictable question given the campaign’s reluctance to even say the word “abortion.” Sanchez documents what happened next: “[Davis] looked at me and shook her head. But before she could articulate, her new press aide Rebecca Acuña jumped in and said ‘that comment was taken out of context.’”
That said, we do now have more of a clue on how and why she endorsed David Alameel.

The Observer links to this piece, an op-ed column by the McAllen Monitor's opinion editor, Sandra Sanchez, for the background, which has this:
She told media in Pharr on Wednesday night at Poncho’s Mexico Nuevo Restaurant that she is “not a single-issue candidate.” She did prattle on about raising women’s pay, helping families out of poverty, the safety of women, aiding veterans and the importance of higher education to get ahead. But not once did she use the A-word: “abortion.”
Of course, you're not a "single-issue" person, but you're actively running away from the one single issue that propelled you to the foreground? 

That leads to this:
After six minutes, the media was herded into a dark area of the hut where we had 10 minutes to ask her questions to which she reiterated all of the above, with still no mention of women’s reproductive rights. So when I stated that women have been a big part of her base of support and asked whether she was trying to distance herself from the abortion issue, or to quote The Brownsville Herald, was “pro-life,” she looked at me and shook her head. But before she could articulate, her new press aide Rebecca Acuña jumped in and said “that comment was taken out of context.”... 
No matter how it was phrased, it was clear that Davis was not going to say “abortion” and would steer the subject back to education at every turn.
Getting near to "deer in the headlights" time.

The Brownsville Herald piece is here, with the relevant comment, here:
“I am pro-life,” she said, borrowing from the label anti-abortion activists assign themselves. “I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future. I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.”
Nice try but, again, when we're talking narrowly and specifically about issues of reproductive choice, "pro-life" and "pro-choice" have commonly accepted meanings. Time for you to have a Ludwig Wittgenstein 101 lesson. No, you and your handlers don't get to repackage yourself that blatantly and bizzarely.

As for chasing conservative Catholic votes with this move, as Sanchez's Monitor column implies is the motive?

Well, we're talking about Hispanics, let's be honest. But, Hispanics who are more likely to vote are less likely to be that conservative, I bet. Second, Ms. Sanchez? More and more Hispanics, especially the conservative ones, are evangelical Protestants, not Catholics. If Battleground Texas is following your calculus, we've got more problems, Houston.

But wait, on the disorganization factor, it gets worse, as Sanchez's Monitor column documents.
And that’s probably why I was shocked and disappointed when her press aide, Acuña, called and woke me at 11:30 p.m. that night asking that The Monitor retract a headline on an online article that referenced Davis’ “pro-life” position. She then tried to backpedal and said her comments weren’t for publication, although they were made during a public media briefing. After the media briefing, Acuña did speak with some journalists on background but that was not the case when she jumped in during the open media conference. 
The attempt to get a newspaper to withdraw a headline? About as stupid, and as laughable, as Davis suing the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1996 after losing her first run for the Fort Worth City Council.

To be blunt?

If Davis has learned, or accepted, or internalized, so little, so very little, in dealing with the press in nearly 18 years, she's up fucking shit creek from now to November.

And, rightfully so.

Related to that? Unless Davis starts firing people ASAP, being honest about being a pro-choicer while still covering other issues, etc., she is toast.

But? Given that this is her M.O., to some degree, and it's associated with longer-term advisors, ain't much gonna change.

Meanwhile, back to Brownsville ...

Aside from not retreating from the issue that made Davis a household name, Acuña should also know that with political stakes this high you can’t cry “background” retroactively to the media.

You know what's sadder yet? This is not the first political rodeo for Rebecca Acuña, either, so, we can't blame her "retraction" request on being a greenhorn. She was a Texas Democratic Party spokesperson before this, and a Congressional staffer for Rep. Pete Gallego.

Hey, Battleground Texas? You got a lot of work to do. Or undo. Or both. If professional staffing sucks this much, you've got more than just candidate recruitment to worry about. (And, more on candidate recruitment in a future post.)

And, if, even setting aside her worries about her father and his eventual death, the Angles, Mark Veasey and others couldn't do a better job of "framing" before Davis came out of the chute, then maybe they're the wrong people to fix what ails Texas Democrats anyway, you know?

And, none of this will help Texas' anemic voter turnout.