February 15, 2014

Your week in Texas politics — #WendyDavis and #DavidAlameel

This was going to be an all-Davis roundup, with focus on her "new political position of the day," until David Alameel knocks her off the top.

How's that? I want to know what Daddy Warbucks of the Democratic Senate race was doing in Afghanistan and why. I also want to know when the lamestream media is going to actually start asking questions of him and about him.

Don't worry, Davis gets plenty of airplay after this.

Her sudden support for gay marriage raises several questions. As does her latest statements on abortion and marijuana. Behind those, ultimately, lies the issue of the packaging of a candidate. Tying these threads together, the "packaging" issues first really arose with her endorsement of Alameel.

Also behind the packaging lies "control" issues, of which she has a long history.

Through all of this, has Davis' hitting of the "reset" button on her campaign this past week done enough to right the ship? Feel free to vote in the poll at top right on general election predictions.

"All of the above" doesn't work, beyond oil and gas

We know it dosn't work in modern energy production. It still leans too much toward oil and gas, with all their attendant global warming and other environmental problems.

Silly, though, I'm not talking about President Obama's energy policy in this post.

I'm talking about how newspapers in the digital world continue to stretch themselves thinner with an "all of the above" strategy to try to market themselves. In addition, this is a strategy that undercuts other things, namely, the move toward paywalls.

Tweeting, Facebooking, or email blasting top news headlines, often with paywall-free links to the relevant stories, is what I'm talking about.

Especially at smaller newspapers, that process isn't fully automated. And, even to the degree it is, see "paywall-free links." Newspapers are still shutting the barn door, while ignoring their barn, like most, has a second door, one that they're holding wide open.

E-editions are another good case of this. What good does it do to have your e-edition of PDFs behind a paywall, if you're posting, paywall-free, links to your top half a dozen news stories a day?

That's why I did headscratching when I first heard about how strong Warren Buffett is on paywalls.

Really? Two of his properties in Texas, the Waco Tribune-Herald and the Bryan-College Station Eagle, do exactly what I mention above on PDF e-editions on paywall vs. free HTML stories. That's not being strong on paywalls, at all.

A good, short piece here agrees with me on PDF e-editions for other reasons. If you're on the Web, and not getting email attachments, who wants to read PDFs? HTML, or now, XHTML, folks. It's like community newspapers are perversely refusing to learn lessons from the daily paper world that are now half a decade old or more. 

That said, said author of that piece nowhere mentions paywalls. Since digital dimes risk being undercut by mobile nickels, you gotta do it. Regular paywall.

As for reaching out to people with Facebook, Twitter or email blasts?

On email blasts, if the public doesn't even know you have a Facebook page, that's a problem. Second, email blasts are becoming ever more the provenance of spammers (and politicians at this time of year). 

On Facebook? If it's a true social media tool, it should be for other things than posting headlines.

On Twitter? Especially with smaller community newspapers, there's few Twitter users.

Experimenting for new revenue streams is one thing. Doing something that's been out there for some time and that you already have an idea might be found annoying is different. Even if you only approach customers that you have gotten their approval from?

Plus, again, this isn't raising new revenue. On my current paper's website, like the Trib and Eagle, the HTML stories are free, free, free. Sending email blasts of headline links is just giving away more content for free.

Gnu Atheists - the gnu fundamentalists

Sorry, or rather, "sorry," to a Facebook friend like Dan Fincke, but it's not just liberal Christian theologians who call Gnu Atheists a new version of fundamentalists. It's also many of us non-Gnu Atheists who have no desire to be "in others faces" about our atheism or otherwise emulate some of the group psychology, sociology, and even psychology of religion that fundamentalists do.

Dan does acknowledge that, in a good piece here.

That said, my post has a different angle than his.

I've said before in various spots that I regard Gnu Atheists and Christian fundamentalists as mutual tar babies. And, I'm far from alone. Philosopher Albert Camus said that a certain variety of atheists (the "antitheist" that Fincke used is perhaps even more apropos) need to have a god to rebel against.

That said, like most things in life, the Gnu Atheist vs. Plain Jane Atheist (or intra-atheist "Nones," if you will) differentiation isn't two polarities, but rather two ends of a continuum. I wouldn't consider Dan as far to the end of Gnudom as, say, Jerry Coyne or P.Z. Myers, or Chris Hitchens from whom he used the antitheist term. And, I wouldn't put myself as far on the Plain Jane end as Mr. Faitheist, Chris Steadman or people like him.

I would, though, put Dan on the Gnu side of the continuum, scoring a fair degree above (or below) the 50 midpoint, while I'd put myself as far on the other side.

The issue with Gnus and fundamentalism is exacerbated (and, I use that word, not "compounded," VERY deliberately) by the Atheism Plus movement. The best parallel from the Christian fundamentalism tar baby I can think of is fundamentalists who also insist you have to speak in tongues as part of your fundamentalism.

And, Dan, I wouldn't be so virulent at times in my take on Gnus if y'all would just find a way to excommunicate Plusers. But, I don't think most of you want to do that, let alone not being able.

Anyway, another difference is that we Plain Janes (excepting the Faitheists, who have their "branding" to do as much as Gnus) aren't out to convert anybody. We just want to be let alone to be nontheistic in peace. If we see a First Amendment issue that needs addressing, we'll handle our protests via the ACLU, or even that "accommodationist" group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

A couple of Gnu-defenders, one in particular, on Massimo Pigliucci's blog asks why my animus. I already mentioned part of it -- the Pluser storm troopers. And I use that deliberately too.

Beyond that, but related to it? A lot of Gnus, including Gnu leaders, don't know philosophy that well. (Dan, whether it relates to being less than hardcore Gnu or not, is an exception.) Most also don't know religion that well, or in tar baby syndrome, simplistically boil it all down to fundamentalism. Dan, per your Facebook and blog post about liberal theologians, there's your answer right there.

But, you might claim, "Not all Gnus are like that! It's a stereotype."

No less of one than Gnus, on average, make of religion in general. If the shoe fits, wear it, even if it pinches.

And, that relates to the final angles.

If you're really about evangelizing non-atheists, or just marketing atheism better, y'all still aren't remembering the old cliche: "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." (You catch more yet with bullshit, but that's for another blog post.) By all means, continue!

And, related to that, some of you, namely the American Atheists President David Silverman, kind of give atheism a black eye.

Good example? Chris Hedges, who doesn't distinguish between Gnu and other atheists because of some rough treatment he got from some Gnus, and now blasts atheism in general. Yes, that's partially on him for not being more discerning, but it had its starting point with Gnu Atheists.

You may still catch a few flies with vinegar, but you're sure to drive them away with sulfuric acid, you know?

Well, maybe you don't. Or maybe you don't care.

Gee, the parallels continue. Now we're almost into Rev. Fred Phelps territory.

See both of you sides in the funny pages.

===

But I don't want to end there.

Behind the matter is that not all of us atheists make atheism so central a focus of our lives.

That, in turn, is why I mentioned "atheist evangelism." There are non-Gnus who are also serious about it, like Chris Stedman and his merry band of Faitheists are very much into this, and with honey rather than vinegar.

But that's why Faitheists aren't the best example of the other end of a continuum from Gnus. Maybe we need to update the idea of a continuum on this issue to three corners and sides of a triangle or something.

I'm no more interested in being an evangelist for Faitheism than I am for Gnu Atheism. (Regular, long-term readers of this blog know that I'm no more a fan of Faitheism than Gnu Atheism, too.)

At the same time, atheism just isn't that much a part of my life as it is for Gnus (Or, maybe, than for Faitheists, either.) And, occasional blogging on the wrongs of hardcore Gnus aside, being a Faitheist, or Plain Jane Atheist, counterweight, just isn't that big an issue to me, either. Liberal politics, third parties, classical music, St. Louis Cardinals baseball, environmentalism and counterfactual history all rank higher.

And, there are plenty of others of us who are "nones" inside the world of atheism. 

==

In hindsight, there's probably one other thing that distinguishes true blue Gnus from the rest of us, and that's a denial that life is in some way tragic.

Note that I did NOT say that life is meaningless without religious structure, or a belief in a deity or higher power.

I said that life is tragic. And, I've heard/read several Gnus reject this.

But, as philosopher Albert Camus and astronomer Steven Weinberg both know and have affirmed, life IS tragic. Exquisitely so. Gnus who fail to accept that, to me, exclude themselves from the tradition and flow of true humanism.

But, back to Dan's main thrust. A lot of Gnus, when they don't lump fundamentalist Christians (and this applies in spades to Muslims) with the more liberal types, often "demand" that the more liberal types "denounce" the rest, then overlook how much they do.

Well, when I blog about Gnus, it's usually a "denouncing," and for similar reasons.

February 14, 2014

Was #DavidAlameel a CIA agent? Or breaking the law?

As the mystery of why Wendy Davis endorsed David Alameel still is unresolved (I'm sorry, both Davis and Alameel are prolifers, so it is resolved) there's another mystery about the Man of Mystery (and Man of Much Money) running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate here in the Abandoned Pointy Object State.

And, that, via one of his primary opponents, Michael Fjetland, is what the hell was he doing in Afghanistan in 2001?

Here's the full book, "Delivering Osama," on Google Books. (No Amazon listing, so it's off the mainstream.) Its co-author, M. Kabir Mohabbat, lived in Houston until his death not too long after the book was written.  This issue already started getting airplay on the Great Orange Satan 2 weeks ago. I find even less on Google about the other co-author, Leah McInnis.

The gist of the book is that Alameel was part of some group of Americans, many of whom were, like him, foreign-born from somewhere in the greater Middle East, talking to representatives of the Afghan government, which was at that time ...

The Taliban!

And, not on occasion, but ...

Regularly!

As in once a month, in 2000, and allegedly violating sanctions against the Taliban government in so doing.

Why?

Supposedly, the Taliban agreed to dump Osama bin Laden in a fake safe house and the Americans could then knock him off. However, after three or four such offers, the American government, by this time in 2001 under Shrub but before 9/11, wouldn't do it.

So, on exactly what authority, or lack of authority, was Alameel there? If it wasn't under any official authority from Washington, but it was a quasi-official discussion with official Afghan governmental representatives, then he presumably committed a federal felony by violating the Logan Act.

This is a huge 'nother reason to make sure he doesn't advance to the presumed runoff round for the Senate nomination. This particular issue is another reason to dig, dig, dig on Alameel, something the lamestream media here in Texas have shown a particular disinclination to do. That digging would not only keep him out of the runoff, but mark him as purely a fringe Moneybags candidate from here on out.

Until the likes of Wayne Slater actually start doing a real job on investigating David Alameel, then, the rest of us will just have to fill in the blanks.

So, per Fahrenheit 9/11, maybe Alameel had connections with Unocal? Maybe he had some sort of weird connections with Ross Perot on some hostage rescue? Some Ahmed Chalabi-type neocon "player"? I don't know.

You tell us, David Alameel.

Or, Wayne Slater, Peggy Fikac, or Jonathan Tilove, YOU tell us. This is your job. Stop being the Texas Green Party.

Welcome to your idiotic MLB executives — biased against #Cardinals?

ESPN polled 23 said executives for top story lines going into spring training.

How do I know they're idiots?

Example No. 1 — Listing the Phillies' free agent signing of A.J. Burnett as one of the top 3 one-year offseason deals. Not even close. Hiroki Kuroda is more likely, but not a guaranteed snap. I'd certainly put Mark Ellis and the Cards' signing of him ahead of A.J. Pierzynski as well as Burnett one of the best one-year free-agent signings for the price.

Related to this? The fact that owners consider this such a great deal means that, once again, they have nobody but themselves to blame for player salaries, when they complain about them. 

Plus, and since word's come out that there's a mutual option for a second year, and reportedly, even if that's turned down by Amaro, a separate player option for 2015, this contract is very much in bad contract land. 

And, related to both of those last two graphs? This may, depending on mid-season call-ups and such, push the Phillies over the salary cap/lux tax limit.

Oh, and feel free to vote on how BAD the Burnett deal was in the poll at top right.

Example No. 2 — Rating the Yankees among the three most improved AL teams. I think I would just have listed two teams. Losing Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, among others, along with possible further decline from C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and others, as well as unknowns about Derek Jeter, offsets a lot of gains. I fully expect the Bombers to finish in fourth again this year.  I certainly wouldn't have them at No. 1 on the list.

Example No. 3 — I'm not sure I would I call their pickup of Brian McCann the top free-agent signing. Bumping it from the list would then have the Cards' signing of Jhonny Peralta on that list. (Adding to the stupidity? One exec's claim: "multiple teams thought he couldn't play shortstop every day.") 

Example No. 4 — Best trade. I think the Doug Fister deal is overrated, with someone who has regressed the past two years in some ways, and Robbie Ray could be a deal for the Tigers. And, yes, I could replace it with the Cards and Peter Bourjos from the Angels. Oh, the Fister trade is "nice," but I don't think it's as much of a steal as others do. These are the same others who think Burnett isn't an overpay, both at ESPN and among execs. And, among execs looking at pitchers, these are the folks who regularly overpay for closers.

In short? Looks like a lot of AL East bias in this survey, followed by some NL East. Surprised? Not me.

Beyond that, polling sports execs on an off-the-record basis for stuff like this is about as chickenshit, maybe, as the WaPost, New York Times, and AP regularly letting White House staffers go off the record without need.


The Lakers are tanking quite nicely without trying

While still being idiots.

The idiocy for the Los Angeles Lakers was getting greedy on the then-rumored rumored trade in the air between them and the Cleveland Cavaliers six weeks ago, which would have swapped disgruntled Lakers center Pau Gasol and currently disgrunted and temporarily suspended Cavaliers (and former Lakers) center Andrew Bynum

But, noooo .... 

They wanted even more from Cleveland, asking for Dion Waiters as part of the mix, as well as possibly at least some of the draft choice swapping Cleveland did with the Bulls.

So, Cleveland sent him to the Bulls for Luol Deng instead. Chicago did what LA could have done, and dumped him for cap purposes.

It was clear at that time that Laker management (Jim Buss? surely he's more in charge than putative GM Mitch Kupchak) thought the Lakers had a legit shot at the playoffs.

Well, after that, Kobe Bryant broke his leg, Steve Nash has pretty much remained Dead Man Walking, and the supporting cast has sucked so bad that the Lakers are now officially at the bottom of the Western Conference.

There's still four teams in the East that suck more, but, if not Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker or somebody else could fall in their laps.

That said, playing without Gasol might have pushed them a spot or two lower and made things even better. Plus, the Lakers would have done what the Bulls did, only one better, and dodged not only the cap, but a repeat violators' tax.

Instead, the Lakers and their fans still face suckitude, without giving themselves the necessary reality check, and with rebuilding that much harder.

Add to that the fact that Gasol doesn't like the current coaching situation, though he'd like to stay in LA, and other issues, and have fun Mitch. Or Jim.

Meanwhile, Kupchak says there's no regret over the Nash deal. I suppose he says the same thing over Kobe's whopper of an extension, with Kobe fixing to become the A-Rod of the NBA. Since the Lakers are the Yankees of the NBA, that kind of makes sense. That said, Kobe is arguably not the same villian as A-Rod, just the same lead anchor on rebuilding.)

Meanwhile, as Gasol's comments indicate, Mike D'Antoni pretty much sucks as current coach of the mess, Kupchak is pretty much castrated by now, and Jim Buss is on his way to being the Al Davis of the NBA or something.

Rebuilding differs in each major sport. Shorter max contracts in the NBA is the one saving grace of the Lakers right now.

As for other meanwhiles?

With the Lakers and Celtics both guaranteed to suck for two or three more years, ditto on the Knicks, nobody knowing about the TV wattage of the Clipps, and OKC joining San Antonio in small market teams commissioners love to hate at playoff time, I'm sure new NBA head honcho Adam Silver is just relishing this year's NBA Finals. That said, Miami as a big-market team didn't magically lift things last year. So, maybe baseball isn't alone in postseason TV struggles. And, the Super Bowl may even have hit a peak.

Well, Miami could well still win the East. But, what if they don't? A Thunder-Pacers Finals will certainly move the dials for TV watching — down.

#WendyDavis perpetuates American mythology

Houston's alt-weekly, the Press, has a short but sweet take on Robert Draper's NYT Mag piece on Wendy Davis, which I blogged about in discussing her "packaging" as a candidate, as well as Wayne Slater's original Dallas Morning News piece which "deconstructed" some of her campaign bio.

The Press's Hair Balls blog gets this exactly right:
But what perhaps is most pernicious about Davis's rags-to-riches, pulled myself up by my bootstraps political bio fiction is this: it perpetuates the myth of the American dream, that all it takes is a little elbow grease and some pluck and you can make it. But this just isn't true: economic mobility in the United States hasn't changed in 50-plus years and our income inequality is closer to that of Jamaica and Argentina than it is other Western nations.

So Davis didn't make it because she just wanted it more or was willing to make those sacrifices. She had a wealthy benefactor who made her path much easier. Davis's cognitive dissonance probably prevents her from admitting this, but that's her real bio. All this does is make her not that much different from any other narcissistic politician, Democrat or Republican.
Bingo. It's not sexist or anything else to point that out, and it doesn't belittle issues of working women and working mothers.

The more I've seen of Davis, the more and more I peg her as an Obama-type neoliberal, and this is another brick in the wall. If anything, economic mobility has declined in the last 25 or so years under presidents of both parties, albeit less under Democrats.

Now, governors can do less about that than senators, let alone presidents.

But, Davis can stop feeding a myth. She won't, of course. But she can.

That said, this myth is a bedrock cornerstone of American exceptionalism, and since she already has bought into Texas exceptionalism lock, stock and barrel, she won't change.

The myth?

To riff on Marx, economic mobility is the capitalist opiate for the American masses.

And, that's probably the problem with and for her campaign.

Hispanics in the Valley, even if they were minded to vote, have probably seen some of these same issues themselves. It's one thing to denounce Greg Abbott for calling the Valley a third-world country. It's another thing to face the Valley's reality, how it undercuts American and Texas exceptionalism, and be honest about how much heavy lifting is really needed to really change that.

Both conservatives and neoliberals seem to overlook, or deliberately ignore, the role of luck in American life. Well, you can ignore it all you want, but it's still real.

John Lee Hooker sure as hell knew that:



Unfortunately, John Lee Hooker's dead and unable to run for governor of Texas.

But, politicians want to pretend, in a nation of 310 million or a state of nearly 30 million, both with great income inequality, that this is a piece of cake.

I mean, seriously, had Wendy Underwood not been lucky enough that Jeff Russell was on the board of directors of her dad's theater (and perhaps helped keep it from going belly-up), we the political public may well never have heard of Wendy Davis today. There are thousands and thousands of second-marriage mothers who may be smart enough for Harvard Law or Wharton School of Business who marry decent enough husbands, but ones without the money to send them to Harvard, or the social connections to get them started in politics afterward. Or they may be smart enough, but from an epigenetic inheritance of anxiety, not be comfortable at Harvard, or not comfortable taking a risk on Harvard loans.

And, that relates to the second half of Davis' luck. Maybe she goes to Harvard, and doesn't have to worry too much about loans, due to family money of some sort. But, she has some loans.  And, her hubby, while having a few dinero, made that money as an on-the-edge dentist. He does dentistry and makes a good but not fabulous living. And, he doesn't know any politicians, or law firms. Especially if a Davis finishes in the lower half of Harvard, she might not land in the law firm she did, even if she eventually found it boring.

The United States as a nation owes far more to luck than exceptionalism, after all. Europeans got lucky that Native Americans had no immunity to smallpox, measles and other infectious diseases. African ancestors of Mr. Hooker didn't have guns, so were easily enslaved (albeit usually by other Africans first). And, oil was discovered in America ready for drilling in a culture more ready to use it than Ottoman Turkey or minor Arab sheikdoms.

As far as academia, this is why Ph.D.s, if not J.D.s, do wind up driving taxis and other things.

Unfortunately, the Texas Green party continues to sit on its ass.

A-Rod 2015: A silver lining for post-Jeter Yankees?

With Derek Jeter's announcment that he's retiring after 2014, it leads me to wonder about the future of one Alex Rodriguez with the Yankees.

His dropping of his suits against MLB and the players' union is a sign that he's pulled in his horns a little bit, at least.

And, if he stays in good condition, and keeps his baseball skills reasonably sharp, he could still be a plus player in 2015, even if not worth more than $20 million.

But, at what position? Does he stay at third, or move back to SS? Some of you laugh, but hold on.

MLB Trade Rumors' tentative list of 2015 free agents indicate there's flexibility for the Yankees.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez top the SS availables, followed distantly by Jimmy Rollins, who also has a 2015 vesting option he's likely to hit. Pablo Sandoval, Alberto Callaspo, and Chase Headley are arguably the three best at third. With Callaspo and Headley in smaller market situations, they're most likely to be available at third. At short, the Dodgers will surely do all they can to resign Ramirez, and the Giants are likely to do the same for Sandoval. That leaves Cabrera.

If I'm the Yankees, I see Headley as the No. 1 option, with a toss-up between Callaspo and Cabrera as No. 2. That means the Yankees' better options are at third, if they think A-Rod can move back to short.

Yes, that's an if, with that balky hip. But, in either position, the Yankees would probably spot him at least 20 games at DH. And, it's not like this would make a 2015 Yankee infield suck any more defensively than the 2014 one is sure to do, with that five-time Gold Glover at short.

Or, if Stephen Drew winds up doing a one-year "pillow" back in Boston, you know the Yankees will eyeball him.

There will be other options at both positions, so this is nothing locked in stone. I don't expect those options to come from a thin farm system, or from a trade with thin prospects to offer back to another team.

Also, assuming the Yankees can't keep too specific of direct contact with A-Rod, will he think ahead on this issue?

Another option is DH. The Yankees could let Alfonso Soriano walk, also let Brett Gardner walk and keep Carlos Beltran in the OF, and put A-Rod at DH. Or, if Mark Teixeira spits the bit, they can trade him a year from now and keep either Soriano or Gardner if the price is right.

Meanwhile, there's second base, too. Ben Zobrist is very possible, given he's a Rays player not likely to be resigned, to replace what will surely be this year's godawful duo of Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts.

Anyway, looking a year ahead, it's clear the Yankees will have at least as many moving parts as this year, and, a theoretically contrite, possibly rested and healthy A-Rod may be an important cog.

February 13, 2014

#WendyDavis supports gay marriage — today

Per that header, and her increasing schwaffling, clarifications, and nuancing, call me back about this headline tomorrow or next week, but today?

Wendy Davis supports gay marriage.

You want my honest reasoning why?

The federal district court in Kentucky that ruled yesterday that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriage from other states.

So, just like her schwaffles on marijuana and abortion, where Davis said she's OK with whatever the public wants on medical marijuana, and that she's OK with following the lead of Rick Perry! on marijuana decriminalization, and she's OK with a reproductive choice bill halfway like what she filibustered last summer, this is more of the same.  (NO, Davis defenders, she did NOT personally and unequivocally support either one of the marijuana items.)

Davis popped up, looked around, didn't see a shadow from too much unavoidable bad fallout, and said, "Hey, I support gay marriage!" Because, in this case, you can always blame "the federal courts" if there's too much backlash.

Did you support it three months ago?

Will you support it three weeks from now?

Did you decide this yourself, or did J.D. and/or Matt Angle help you out?

Will you nuance this a week from now, saying you really meant to talk about a "local option" on gay marriage?

Just like earlier this week, on the school finance lawsuit, who decided that you should tell Greg Abbott to stop defending the state on it?

Even then, this:
“A settlement recommendation to the Legislature should be to reconvene, to look at these issues and to determine what we’re going to do to own our responsibility to the schoolchildren of Texas,” she said.
Was a bit weak, compared to Virginia's AG actually joining the side of plaintiffs on a gay marriage lawsuit there.

It may be good that you're "growing a pair," but what took so long? And, again, why should we trust that these statements won't get "nuanced" at some point in the future.

And, is this part of a strategy to stop tracking ever further to the right? If so, how long will it last?

Let's see ... can Texas raise the state minimum wage for workers on state-contracted job? That bold move from Davis, following President Obama's executive order, might be next.

Yes, I'm now skeptical almost to the point of being cynical.

Perry's right in that it is good news. I'm still right in wondering what took so long, and why. I guess I'm seeing this as a "reboot" in Davis' "packaging."

Unfortunately, the Texas Green party continues to sit on its ass. And, yes, I've decided to keep repeating that. Any Texas Greens that don't like it? You know the ball's in your court. Because, like Jim Moore, I can decide not to vote for anybody for guv if Brandon Parmer's lethargy continues.

Farming, farm bills, farm bureaus, climate change and Big Ag

I don't know if the Texas Farm Bureau here in the Pointy Abandoned Object state is being joined by its sister states in this one, but a Corpus Christi Caller-Times editorial cartoon, syndicated from a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist, has the FB here up in arms:


My thought? If you don't like this, then don't endorse the likes of Eric Opiela for ag commissioner, when he calls it "welfare" on the food stamp side but doesn't talk about corporate welfare.

Or, put a membership cutoff in place. Farms and ranches above X thousand dollars of net profit don't qualify. Newspaper orgs in most states differentiate between the larger seven-day dailies and smaller ones, for example.

The fact of the matter is that crop insurance is tilted toward a few crops and isn't much different than direct payments. And, the new farm bill is no better than the old one on getting farmers to do more on how they farm and what they farm, and ranch, to address climate change. And, the Texas Farm Bureau may be denialists (as may be a few others), but a lot of individual farmers already accept the reality there.

By the way, Rob Rogers has some other good stuff here. (It's free to see, again leading to questions of the self-inflicted wounds of newspapers, but that's another story.)

Ted Cruz pouts; when will he lie again?

Pouting is about the only thing one can say about Ted Cruz's filibuster threat on the debt ceiling bill yesterday.

The lying part? Remember how, a month ago, on CBS' "Face the Nation," Bob Schieffer backed him into a corner over last fall's government shutdown and Cruz kept lying about how he didn't cause it? Well, set your watches for how soon it will take for him to lie or spin this one.

Meanwhile, note that this was the first "clean" increase of the debt ceiling since 2009. And, I think we changed presidents that year, didn't we?

So, this in essence removes one GOP lie, that many in Congress have told about debt ceiling votes for the last half-decade.

Meanwhile, for getting enough GOP votes to overcome Cruz's filibuster threat, GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is now in Cruz's gunsights.

And, even if the Turtle should win his primary, he's by no means out of the election woods.

Beyond the stupidity of debt-ceiling legislation, this is another example of two ingrained American stupidities, and one that's developed more and more over the last few decades.

1. The two-year election cycle, combined with the problem of the body of the US Constitution being considered largely sacrosanct. Britain, without a formal written constitution, and with some eye of flexibility on its unwritten traditional one, had no problem with moving Commons terms to five years (outside of the fall of a government). And, speaking of ...

2. The nonsense in a nuclear-and-computers age of our nonparliamentary government. Now, if you're France, where the president has some powers vis-a-vis its parliament that our president doesn't always have with Congress, that would help a little. Or one could go further down that end, to where a president accumulates Putin-like powers. No thanks.

3. The developed issue? The power of money, and of think-tank type special interests with it, in American politics. This is more an issue of the right than the left, but liberals have been slow and scattershot in adopting public financing of Congressional elections, rather than their own money rush, as the appropriate alternative. This should have been done in the

February 12, 2014

The packaging of #WendyDavis

At the New York Times Magazine, Robert Draper has an in-depth profile of Wendy Davis. Draper, a native Texan, was on the road with Davis off and on since last summer before filing this longform read.

Much of the piece is about the "packaging" of Davis, in part by her consultants, in part by herself. And, I'm talking about more than then "single mother" campaign bio that got partially deconstructed last month by Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News.

It's a good piece, in line with some other news analysis pieces I've read before. Draper might be seen as similar to Jim Moore — sympathetic, but not pulling his punches.

Here's a good takeout to start with:
The persistence of a gender-based double standard, (Jennifer) Granholm said, “is the oldest story in the book.”

(An) equally familiar tale is about how narratives are spun in American politics. Davis’s rendition — “a Texas success story,” as she put it on the “Today” show — was chosen and packaged by her and her team with the greatest of care, and as Granholm acknowledged, “strategists emphasize some things and downplay other things — that’s true with every candidate on the planet.” The only thing harder to imagine than conservative voters being wholeheartedly supportive of Davis’s life choices is a savvy politician being wholly oblivious to such unease and, in concert with her campaign team, not tailoring her story accordingly.
Well put, well put. In short, there's two takeaways.

One is that said "packaging" isn't easy. The second is that "handlers" often can't see very far outside their bubbles.

There's also this observation about her personality:
At the same time, celebrity does not altogether suit Davis. She lacks the salty oratorical verve of Ann Richards. She is unswervingly articulate and genial but maintains a lawyerly remove; her emotional thermostat remains more or less at room temperature.
That, as well as her running away from her filibuster last summer, is another puzzler as to why she's running for governor. It's also yet another parallel between her and Dear Leader, Barack Obama.

And, there's this, that partially undercuts the Texas exceptionalism she used in Waxahachie last year:
“But we need to be able to tell a story that includes our whole population. Our real job as state leaders is not to brag about how great we are, but to be forward-thinking enough to deliver on the promise that everyone has a place in that story.”
Agreed. But, please, keep that in broader mind.

Meanwhile, here's the ultimate challenge:
Additionally, as the de facto challenger in the race (Governor Perry is stepping down, but Abbott is widely seen as his heir), Davis will have to point out the state’s shortcomings while being careful not to offend its tender sensibilities. The duality of Texas pride and Texas insecurity harks back to its decade-long experience as an independent republic.
Draper, a Texan himself, is exactly right.

So, I say?

"Grow a pair, Pointy Abandoned Object State residents." That was nearly 200 years ago.

At the same time, the whole story is worth a read. Draper also talks about how J.D. Angle and other "handlers" approached Jeff Davis, her ex, to finesse and massage the issue of how much he funded her higher education and other things.

It also offers more clues as to why her dad was prominent in her political bio, for years, as well as hinting why her mom was and is not.

Draper's  "wrap" with Davis, of Draper's last visit, includes this:
“And it really is, I think, rather absurd that we’ve spent so much time picking over details of my biography.”
Well, some of the GOP attacks have been over the top. But, your language has been more than "not tight." It's been fudged, in that "lawyerly remove."

But, you've chosen to run on your story above all else, a tough choice as it may be, like this:
Davis had reassured voters with a near-perfect narrative: a portrait of herself as modern-day Supermom, a woman who existed only in our imaginations.
Well put.

Draper's wrap also shines more light on what I already see elsewhere in her personality, from her lawsuit against the Star-Telegram on: Once she stakes out a position on an issue, that's it.

Oh, and feel free to take a second to vote in the poll at right about this race. So far, half of respondents expect Davis to do worse than Bill White in 2010.

Unfortunately, the Texas Green party continues to sit on its ass.  And, yes, I may put this comment semi-regularly at the end of posts about Davis.

Observations about life

Feb. 13, 2014: If being gay or lesbian is not 100 percent genetically hardwired, then isn't it possible that for at least some people, identifying as such, etc., is in part an act of social rebellion?

Nov. 5, 2013: Looking at the site of one's home town on Google Maps, especially at the site of the house where one was born, with said house having been torn down several years ago, can be kind of depressing.

Nov. 5, 2013: Whenever I hear the word "evangelist" associated with the phrases "social media" or "online content," I reach for my revolver.

September 27, 2013: Here's a good way to find out just how racist an East, or central, Texas small town is. Go to City-Data or some other demographic type website that has national election results for the city, or at least, the county. If McCain, in 2008, got a HIGHER percentage of the vote than Bush did in 2004, despite Obama winning the election, in part because McCain nationally had Bush's baggage, you've got a good indication there that a fair chunk of people in that city or town were ultimately voting for McCain because he was white and his opponent wasn't. (Note: Discussion has temporarily been closed on this post due to this particular observation. I may or may not engage further discussion on this thread, depending on whether or not Mr. Asher chooses to reveal more about himself. I may also require a Google ID or something for repeat comments.)

September 19, 2013: Add a phrase like "21st century citizenship" to other recent barf-inducing neoliberal phrases like the "social sharing economy."

August 30, 2013: Just a wild, off the top of my head thought. In a symphony hall, in the middle of a performance of the Mahler 6, in the middle or near the end of the slow movement, has anybody jumped up and said, "Needs more cowbell!"?

August 20, 2013: Ray Kurzweil-type utopian futurists are even more religious than Gnu Atheists. 

August 8, 2013: Science tells you how to find a black cat in a darkened room.

Philosophy asks why are you looking for that cat? What emotional value does it have to you?

And, that's why science still needs philosophy, and when those why questions are tweaked properly, it still needs philosophers of science.

Philosophy for the win!

June 19, 2013: I think paleo dieters ought to combine with breatharians, once they figure out the exact composition, by ratios of elements and CO2, of the atmosphere of the PopEvPsych EEA, and therefore, lose weight, trump conventional science, and become Social Darwinist sexists all at once!

June 7, 2013: When you're a defense attorney, it's never a good sign when the prosecution spends more time on cross-examination of your first two witnesses than you do on direct examination. That's especially true in a capital murder case.

May 24, 2013: Equal pay for equal work for women (as well as minorities) is a great idea. However, there's no guarantee that, other than the general idea of financing it by taking more money out of CEOs' hands, it would magically transform the economy. It's also arguably sexist to claim that women have, by nature, special shopping habits that would magically boost the economy.

And, if equal pay, and equal opportunity through destroying the glass ceiling, ever happens at the top, I have no doubt we'll have plenty of female Mitt Romneys hoarding money in the Cayman Islands, too. It's also sexist to imply, even if it's not stated overtly, that because women are more "nurturing," they're going to be less greedy than men.

And, such ideas fuel the male-sexist angles of Pop Evolutionary Psychology, too.

May 3, 2013: Introverts and people with anxiety probably make poorer liars than extroverts for two reasons. One is that we may be more innate pessimists, and a more "realistic" view of the world makes it harder to lie. The other is that anxiety and fear make it harder for a lie to be more convincing. And speaking of such lies, no, we're not "all in sales" these days.

May 2, 2013: The less meat there is on a bone, the more that two dogs will fight over it. Metaphorically, the same is true for humans. That said, this doesn't mean that magical New Age thinking about "abundance," prayers for the Christian "success gospel," or anything similar, is the answer. Metaphorically speaking, the answers may include looking for a new bone, looking for a whole new carcass, eating something besides meat, or accepting the situation as it is.

Jan. 22, 2013: To be a good salesperson, does one have to be a good liar in some way, and especially a good liar to one's own self, per some streams of thought in cognitive science? It sure seems that way, and this is probably related to pessimists actually seeing the world "realistically."

July 20, 2012: Never let your past experiences harm your future. Your past can't be changed and your future doesn't deserve the punishment. (Borrowed observation from a Facebook photo-poster.)

July 18, 2012: If the devil is in the details, hell is often in the "small stuff"; it's not always easy not to sweat those little things. Often, with things like work and personal relationships, many small things become more of a problem than one big thing.

May 9, 2012: If matter isn't real, including music, why would Christian Science churches want musical soloists? (Actual Monster job ad.) Why would they want a bunch of other things?

May 6, 2012: Why do most new SUV owners drive their vehicles over 2-inch bumps as though they're driving a compact car with worn-out struts?

May 5, 2012: You know you're in a rednecky small town when the postmaster uses chewing tobacco.

April 29, 2012: Per Capt. James T. Kirk, if you improve machines, you improve mankind tenfold; improve mankind, and we improve mankind 1,000-fold.

April 23, 2012: If we don't have conscious free will, theoretically, could that make life less stressful?

April 13, 2012: Per a careers website, I am officially in the fifth-worst job/career path in the United States. Tell me something I as a (current and trying to get out) journalist don't know!

April 4, 2012: If Catholic Rick Santorum favors procreative sex so much, shouldn't he like the idea of letting Mormon Mitt Romney roll the polygamist clock back to before 1890?

March 31, 2012: Competitiveness in general is like capitalistic acquisitiveness of money in particular. At some relatively moderate level, you're either pretty satiated or else you never will be.

March 21, 2012: Why is it that houses and yards with the most "no tresspassing" signs are, in general, the ones you're least likely to want to trespass on?

Feb. 18, 2012: Reflecting back on another Valentine's Day gone by, I wonder what that day would be like if America would drop its mix of Christian prudery and romantic rose-colored glasses and call a fair amount of what now gets labeled as love as good old-fashioned lust instead?

Jan. 28, 2012: Not only can you not go back home again, figuratively, you often can’t even go back to the same neighborhood again. That’s especially true if you were viewing the old neighborhood through rose-colored glasses. Or, if you’re viewing a possible relocation through rose-colored old neighborhood glasses. Often, that may be more the problem.

Jan. 21, 2012:  Early in a column about Joe Paterno's death, it said, "We in the media ... "

Whenever you see "We in the ... ” there's often a sanctimoniousness alert ahead. The commenter is about to contrast his or her saintliness on the issue at hand against all other members of his or her profession.

That said, the column is primarily going to be my direct quotes/comments, like this one updating Erma Bombeck:

"The grass is often greener on the other side of the fence because somebody's been crapping on it a lot."

#WendyDavis nuances #abortion, goes a bit wishy-washy on #marijuana

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis talked to the Dallas Morning News editorial board about both of the above issues.

I actually pretty much agree with where she is on specifics of abortion, though I don't think the viability line is going to get pushed back to 20 weeks any time soon.
“My concern, even in the way the 20-week ban was written in this particular bill (that she filibustered last summer), was that it didn’t give enough deference between a woman and her doctor making this difficult decision, and instead tried to legislatively define what it was,” Davis said. ...

Davis said the U.S. Supreme Court would likely evaluate when a woman could end a pregnancy. A fetus is generally considered viable at 24 weeks, the previous abortion limit under Texas law.

“The Supreme Court sets that viability and it probably will be revisited,” Davis said. “It’s one that deserves that kind of reflection to determine whether that kind of constitutional protection should exist at a time period less than what it is right now.”

Davis said she could have supported a bill that contained only a 20-week ban, but the law’s restrictions on clinics and doctors have greatly curtailed access to the procedure in parts of Texas.
Problem is, as I noted, unless one has a highly expansive definition of "viability," then a 20-week ban in general is not good right now, even with Davis' exceptions. And, given that the SCOTUS limit was 24 weeks, this would clearly be envelope-pushing, even had the Lege met her other concerns.

That said, here's the wishy-washy on pot:
“I do believe that Governor Perry’s approach is a reasonable approach, that we as a state need to think about the cost of that incarceration and, obviously, the cost to the taxpayers as a consequence of it, and whether we’re really solving any problem for the state by virtue of incarcerations for small amounts of marijuana possession.”

She said she would back legislation to decrease criminal provisions for possession of small amounts of marijuana. As for allowing the drug for medical purposes, Davis said she would want to know how voters feel.

“I don’t know where the state is on that, as a population. Certainly as governor I think it’s important to be deferential to whether the state of Texas feels that it’s ready for that,” she said.
Let's replace marijuana with "gay marriage," or just "gay rights."

(Update, Feb. 13: Ironic because Davis now says she supports gay marriage. My blog take on that is here.)

Should we have waited for the U.S. Congress to repeal, and President Obama, to sign into law, legislation repealing DOMA? Or tell state courts in the majority of the nearly 20 states that have approved gay marriage that they should "be deferential" to their particular states?

True, medical marijuana isn't as big an issue as gay marriage, at least to many. However, it may be more important than some.

The Snooze's opinion page blog now gives Davis a kudo as going beyond Rick Perry. I'll buy that, while noting that, had Perry not said what he did at Davos, Wendy Davis probably wouldn't have gone even that far, let alone as far as she has.

Anyway, the language sounds like what she used when she came out for open carry of handguns, then said, "wait, I meant local option."

Sometimes, you ... have to take a stand.

And, based on that, I have to disagree with Kuff's post: she's "straddling" more than she's "for" medical marijuana. That's especially true if you take in context, namely the context of the abortion statement at the same time and her backpedal on open carry a week ago.

Perry goes into much more depth on the abortion part. It's a good read.

And, he ends with this zinger:
Every time she tries to clarify something, it gets muddier.
This is a campaign in complete disarray, and we've reached the point where that can no longer be blamed on the handlers and the consultants any longer.
Sounds about right.

Unfortunately, the Texas Green party continues to sit on its ass.

The Cap'n, Derek Jeter, calling it quits — what's his #Cooperstown legacy?

I think a lot of people, like me, had wondered if 2014 would be Derek Jeter's last year after his one-year contract extension.

We need wonder no longer. He has announced his retirement, effective after the end of this year. 

So, he won't stick around to score 2,000 runs, the one major "counting" milestone still in front of him.

He's a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. A postseason star. That said, if we accept he's not one of the top three or so shortstops ever, where does he fall?

Actually, not THAT well.

His JAWS is currently 12th among career shortstops. His career WAA is currently 32.4, which actually is outside my circle of slam-dunk HOFers, of 35 or better. (And, no, he's not likely to have 2.6 WAA this year.)

Put another way? He's just one JAWS slot ahead of Barry Larkin, who needed three years to get in.

Or, to put it another way, since I'm a Cardinals fan?

Just last summer, I compared him to Ozzie Smith, who is No. 8 on JAWS. I'll revisit those highlights now.

The Wiz ranks ahead of Jeter in WAA, WAA and 162-game win-loss percentage, and the 7-year JAWS ranking for shortstops, for starters. He also ranks higher on positional runs, surprisingly. Of course, he obliterates Jeter on fielding runs. The Cap'n's a -229 while the Wiz is a +154.

Oz had four seasons of 4 WAA or better, to Jeter's 3.

The fielding stats above don't tell the whole story, but another one does.

Jeter started his career below the league average in range factor for shortstops. Ozzie ended his career still above the average.

Ozzie had a bit less doubles power and a fair amount less home run power, tis true, along with lower batting average. The lower scoring era, plus playing in the National League, make his numbers look worse.

The fielding was enough of an issue for long enough that the Yankees, pride of Jeter aside, should have bit the bullet and moved him to third when they got Alex Rodriguez, instead of moving A-Rod.

Meanwhile, I noted Larkin is No. 13 on shortstop JAWS. Just ahead of Jeter at No. 11? Alan Trammell. There's yet another argument for Tramm being in the Hall. 

And, again, it shows that, counting stats, and World Series wins, aside, Derek Jeter is not in the top tier USDA Grade A level of shortstops.

And, at ESPN, Wallace Matthews may be speaking too soon. Maybe Jeter will have his stumbles. Maybe that ankle still isn't 100 percent. 

===

Meanwhile, a final comment on Fangraphs vs. Baseball-Reference, per Mr. Keri.

D-WAR is a toughie, but, Fangraphs differs a lot, apparently, from B-R at times. B-R has Ozzie 5 career WAR higher than Jeter while Fangraphs has him about 6 points lower.

The difference is even bigger with some other players. Fangraphs ranks Carew nearly 10 points lower in career WAR.

I like that B-R separates out O-WAR and D-WAR, too, and has a little bit of explainer. It's also "interesting" that Fangraphs, despite Jaffe's JAWS system being nearly a decade old, doesn't incorporate it.

Also, B-R has the Javascript balloons when you hover over the head of each category for lists, like JAWS lists, and not just for individual players. Better website design, that way.


Indeed, I smell a blog post coming on!

I agree with a 20-year-old NBA age limit

And, I want it for both NCAA college players and Europeans.

New commish Adam Silver has already indicated he's down with the idea; the question is, what's the players' union's stance?

I agree that owners might like it for somewhat cynical reasons, namely there's likely to be a bit fewer "busts" in draft picks if players are a bit older. Plus, if they're a bit older, that's theoretically one less year of pro contract lifespan. That said, that, and other league reasons like the ones listed here, aren't necessarily cynical.

As for reasons it's bad? Yes, 19-year-olds won't get paid in cash in college. But, as one article notes, they can still go D-league or Europe if they're that desperate. Or they can spend another year learning better skills at D-I NCAA schools. And, is "good for college" bad for the NBA? Not at all. As for the reasons we don't see it in baseball is that a direct-from-high-school baseballer KNOWS he's going to the minors, for a number of reasons. As for hockey? There's developmental levels there, too. (And, I'm not linking to the slideshow linkbait article against which I'm arguing.)

Citing Ben McLemore as a financial reason might be OK. Citing Kobe Bryant as the exception who proves the rule is not. Even if he had some degree of game skills, he was not always emotionally mature, or close. And he was at the top of the level of high school players for that.

Steve Kerr, with multiple angles of wisdom as a player, a GM and a broadcaster, nails these issues. That includes Kobe's immaturity showing up in the 1997 playoffs.

From the NCAA side, there's no doubt it would make for a better game. Kentucky's John Calipari, who won a title with a bunch of one-and-done players, is in favor.

And, as a Kansas fan, I'm with him. I'd love to see Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid play another year in Lawrence. Wiggins just might have the maturity level for the NBA, but he could probably use another year of college toughening. Embiid, an African immigrant, could surely use another pre-pro year of life in America. Another college year of further refining his back-to-the-basket game couldn't hurt.

Plus, an extra year of pre-pro experience will trickle down. Not so many collegians will try to be Euro-step hot dogs right away. That, then, will translate down to high school level.

Another dry summer for Texas?

That's what state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon says, according to the Extension Service. And, per the map, for May-July, the National Weather Service would seem to agree with him.

Here's Nielsen:
As for this summer, there’s been a trend for hotter summers in the last several years, and that’s likely to continue.

“That’s not good for drought conditions, because that means more evaporation and more water demand,” Nielsen-Gammon said.

The recent wet fall has been followed by a fairly dry December and an especially dry January, he noted.

“The thing about the dry winter is that we’ve had some fall moisture issues already,” he said. “Depending upon how much rain we get in the spring, that basically determines how rapidly things dry out in the summertime. Even with a normal rainfall, summer is a time in just about all areas of the state when we’re water stressed because evapotranspiration is so high. So we’re going to hit the summertime dry conditions earlier than normal, unless we make up this winter moisture deficit in the next couple of months.”

And making up that winter deficit in February and March seems unlikely at this time, he said. 

“We still don’t have a good jet-stream pattern to bring us plentiful moisture, and there’s no sign of it developing."
So, there you go.

Nielsen-Gammon said that there is a chance of an El Niño this year, but, if it happens, it will be too late to alleviate any summer drought.

#Cardinals embarassment of pitching riches only grows

Jaime Garcia is reportedly on the same schedule as other pitchers in spring training.

I had gathered this would be the case from what Bernie Miklasz was saying before the turn of the year, but Goold's confirmation is nice. 

Yes, Garcia has an injury history, but, his attempts to deal with it kind of make it look worse than it might have been otherwise:

The lefty, who won 13 games in back-to-back seasons and finished third in 2010’s NL rookie of the year voting, had his season ended last May by shoulder surgery that was a couple of years in the making. Garcia pitched through the injury in 2012, and he reported to spring training a year ago having attempted a non-surgical rehab for the joint. ...
Throughout the 2012 season, Garcia had discomfort in the shoulder, and he acknowledged Monday that he fiddled with his mechanics because he couldn’t find a comfortable arm slot that season. He had difficulty regaining strength after starts. His pitches, at times, felt flat, weak. He stopped throwing bullpen sessions. He couldn’t play catch without pain, but the pain did fade when he took the mound for a start. He was able to rehab and re-strengthen the shoulder in the offseason and pitched successfully through last March and April. Then the pain returned. 
If Garcia can perform as well as 2011, at least, he's another option at the back end of the rotation, and lets them bring Michael Wacha along a bit more slowly this year, and give Shelby Miller a bit of rest, too. And, a lefty in the rotation is never bad.

This also lets John Mozeliak consider more trade options. Garcia could go on the block at some point. Or Lance Lynn. That would then let Carlos Martinez start working into the rotation.

That said, it's probably bad news, as far as a back-up, for Tyler Lyons, John Gast and Joe Kelly.

But, that gives Mo yet more trade options.

February 11, 2014

Albert Pujols shows how to deal with explicit steroid rumors

First, let me stipulate that I think a lot of MLB writers who accuse other writers of being the "steroid morality police" or whatever are full of it.

Their claims that steroids are no more game-changing than amphetamines, the "greenies" of baseball's 60s and 70s, have been refuted by none other than Jim Bouton, who of course played at the height of that era.

Second, I believe that such protestations are in part a smoke screen for their true agenda, which is a "Big Hall" Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

That said, back to the header.

Jack Clark, a few months back, on a St. Louis talk radio station, shot his mouth off about how he believed Albert Pujols had been taking steroids, and how he had word-of-mouth comment to that effect.
Clark has brought Pujols’ situation up at least twice already on the air. The first time, after Slaten said last Friday that he long has believed that Pujols “has been a juicer,” Clark jumped in before Slaten finished his thought and said, “I know for a fact he was. The trainer that worked with him, threw him batting practice from Kansas City, that worked him out every day, basically told me that’s what he did.”

Clark then talked about a conversation he had about a dozen years ago with Mihlfeld, who has worked as a conditioner with several major-league organizations. (Both men were with the Dodgers then, and Pujols was early in his career.)

Mihlfeld “had told me what he was doing with ‘Poolie’ — threw him batting practice, worked him out, shot him up, all that stuff,” Clark said on the air.
Oops.

So, Pujols sued him. (The radio station smartly apologized before a suit could be filed against it, and fired Clark. His co-host, Kevin Slaton, has a long St. Louis history of jerkery.)

And, now?

Clark has issued a public retraction.

Per the story, there's this part, which also goes to Clark's credibility, or something:
In October, Pujols sued Clark in St. Louis County over the comments Clark made during an August broadcast of his local sports talk radio show, “The King and The Ripper.” The program, which aired on WGNU (920 AM), has since been canceled.

Well, out of work, he was even more worried about finances, I'm sure.

That said, most steroid accusations are just a touch more subtle than Jack Clark's. Even Murray Chass' "bacne" comments about Mike Piazza probably don't translate to possible legal liability.

And, some of the rumors are around because circumstantial evidence seems to support them.

I mean, nobody looked at Hank Aaron at the age of 36 and said, "Hey, his head is getting bigger" (that's you, Barry Bonds) or "How is he hitting so many homers at his age?"

That said, while Aaron, unlike Bonds, had no unusually late peak, he did have an unusually long continued period of excellence. Everybody who knows much about him passing Babe Ruth knows he never hit more than 47 homers in a year. He also, after his rookie season, never hit less than 24 until he turned 40, and only twice hit under 30 after his age-22 season until 40.

I'm not saying anything other than "genes" or whatever. It's still interesting.

LCV announces Texas' greenest Congressmen and dirtiest

Five members of Texas' House delegation got a 90 percent or better rating from the League of Conservation Voters.

On the House GOP side, I'm shocked that Smokey Joe Barton got a 0. Mike Conaway (LCV misspelled), Pete Olson and Blake Farenthold join him. Gohmert Pyle was all the way up to 7 percent, and only one GOP Congresscritter broke 20 percent. Is John Carter in trouble for this?

Actually, Carter, whose district includes north metro Austin, is facing an openly gay general election opponent in Louie Minor. That said, while he gets a "not quite horrible" on green issues, he gets a "totally horrible" on LGBT ones.

On the Senate side, somehow, Ted Cruz out-greened John Cornyn. Guess that shows just how far right Big John is running.

Dale Hansen just nails the Michael Sam issue

The Dallas sports anchor has never been afraid of speaking his mind, and does so well on the case of just-announced openly-gay college player Michael Sam:

Several NFL officials are telling Sports Illustrated it will hurt him on draft day because a gay player wouldn't be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would be uncomfortable, because that's a man's world.

You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You're the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft.

You kill people while driving drunk? That guy's welcome.

Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they're welcome.

Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away?

You lie to police trying to cover up a murder?

We're comfortable with that.

You love another man? Well, now you've gone too far!
Go read the whole thing.

Michael Sam has courage. "NFL officials" starting a cowardly whispering campaign don't.

Ray Kurzweil is not my savior


RAY KURZWEIL IS NOT MY SAVIOR

I uploaded my life to the cloud.
Ray Kurzweil said I could reinvent myself
As an immortal Singularitan.

Beyond not believing this was possible,
I didn’t know what I would do,
Or what it might feel like,
If it were the case.

What if the power went off?
Would I then not be immortal?
If I were rebooted, would I remember the down time?
A man’s cybermolecules scattered all across the damned universe,
Would I feel like “Immortal, Interrupted”?

What if I didn’t get a software upgrade
In a timely fashion?
What if I were on a slow connection speed?
Would I feel like “Immortal, Second Class”?
Ditto for all my necessary hardware.

What if resource wars break out
Because everybody else likes Kurzweil’s opportunity?
Will our planet run dry?
Will Kurzweil’s Fordies kill the rest of us, or make us drones?

These were only a few of the many questions
That wandered through my mind.
So I shut the lid to Pandora’s laptop
And toddled off to face a strange, unsettled sleep.